Ren-sama's Note: PLEASE READ

This one is a third POV since it was a bit hard to do the ending with a first or second person POV. I hope it's not that bad though.

I will warn you ahead of time that this might be a little sappy for some of you. I don't know. Confessing is almost always sappy. I tried my hardest not to make it that sappy, but I don't know if I did a good job.

Please enjoy! ˆoˆ



Chapter 3

Byakuya could feel the stares from behind him, silently asking for an explanation about the Sensei thing. They didn't know he was a teacher. He was not the type to tell his story. After all, it had been six years since then.

When they were all seated, Kyouraku and Kenpachi started the conversation and the initial tensed atmosphere slowly vanished. They talked about how Ichigo started his career. It was almost like an ordinary interview, except that every member of Byakurai listened greatly as they started to learn how Ichigo managed to climb up to where he was now.

The teen never finished school in Seireitei University. He received a scholarship from a multinational recording company, the Urahara Company, and was given the chance to study abroad. That was where he started his career as a pianist. The company that backed him up was famous, but it was thanks to his innate talent and hard work that he succeeded in the long run. When he came back to the country two years ago, he was already famous in other countries and already had a fan base here. It overwhelmed him at first because he was still new, but with the help of the company and his uncle, he was able to gain more self confidence and accept the sudden prominence that his name had gone through in just a short time.

In the same token, Kyouraku talked about Byakurai. He was, after all, its original founder and also leader. He talked of their hardships as a group that had always countered every norm and tradition of music. It was hard to be accepted by people at first, but because they were all talented and persevering, they were all able to get through the hardships and rejections. They were now number two in the country in the top list in terms of prominence in the music industry. And though they were initially annoyed at the fact that they couldn't outdo the number one, they were very much satisfied now. They had seen with their own eyes what Ichigo was capable of, and they wouldn't let Ichigo go unscathed if the orange-haired man actually loses his position now. In a way, Byakurai had also become his fan.

Ichigo was just too happy to know that. He was greatly nervous when he saw Byakuya earlier, especially when he learned that his former sensei was actually his rival now. He had matured though, and he knew how to be professional when it was needed. He knew that he wouldn't let Byakurai outdo him just because Byakuya was there. He would remain number one.

Byakuya could see how his former student had changed. Ichigo, back in the university, couldn't look at him in the eye. It was now the opposite. Ichigo could now hold his gaze until Byakuya was forced to turn away, though subtly. He still had his pride left.

"So, how did you and our member Byakuya-san met?" Kyouraku asked the most anticipated question, not just by the party involved but also by the others.

Ichigo chuckled. "He was my professor in Seireitei University before he was promoted and I was given a scholarship." Ichigo remembered that. He was so broken after Byakuya's departure that he let himself get lost in music. He was musically inclined, but he was not the type to perform in front of so many people. That was the time he let all his attention turn to music. He was so glad that his friends supported him, though they were a bit saddened by his own departure abroad. They never let him get a day off and continued to call or text or e-mail him when he left. And even after all these years, even when they had all found their own lives and were practically busy all the time, they still met from time to time and hang out, though not much in public places because many of them were famous personalities too.

"So he was your teacher in the university?" Ukitake asked for clarification. Ichigo nodded before he smiled warmly at the white-haired man. "Somehow I can't imagine him teaching…" Kyouraku laughed at that.

"He's a very good professor." Ichigo smiled and nodded again, as if to make his assertion more valid. He looked at his sensei again, happy to see the man he loved just across the couch inside the room. He never thought he'd see Byakuya again… And now that Ichigo remember it, he immediately told Byakuya about some of the man's students.

Renji had become a rock star and Ikkaku had become famous with his band. Both of them were very well liked by youths and many fan bases were formed because of them. Rukia, everyone were too surprised, became a fashion photographer. She had never mentioned that she liked it until Renji gave her a camera in their engagement three years ago. Orihime had become an actress, though if she was a comedian by heart or just an utter and innocent dickhead, no one knew. Uryuu, by far, was the one with the most shocking and yet not so shocking work. He had always made it clear that he disliked being a doctor. He had always hated his father for forcing him to become one. That utter rejection led to the guy being a music major in the first place. And yet, despite the revulsion, he still agreed to inherit the hospital when his father had died. It seemed he never really hated being a doctor after all. He just hated it that his father never had any time for him because of it.

All in all, Ichigo had a small circle of friends. And he was glad that Byakuya seemed to have listened all throughout.

Soon, everyone was having a lively conversation. They mostly talked about music and also the different personalities that had sprouted one by one, some had real talents and some only wanted popularity. Byakuya was still a quiet man by nature and only talked when necessary, or if he wanted to make a cold or harsh comment about something. Kyouraku was much too talkative, and when combined with Kenpachi, no one would have to talk at all. Kaien and Shuuhei conversed with Ichigo more and the orange-haired man answered with mixed politeness and humility.

Byakuya and Ichigo talked to one another once in a while but their topics were almost always about music. They never talked about their personal lives. It was still too soon.

Ichigo found Byakurai's company very warm and friendly. They didn't make him feel that he was an outsider in their group. They talked to him as if he was a part of it. And it was heartwarming. Kyouraku and Ukitake were very kind and knowledgeable, as we all Kaien and Shuuhei, though they were teasers and acted brasher than the older two. Even Byakuya, he found out, had changed. The man was still very much aloof and stoic but he was not that cold anymore. Any comment that he gave didn't have much venom or even hostility. It was a comment for the sake of making one.

And Ichigo couldn't help but smile. It seemed Byakuya had found the people that were best suited for his personality.

Byakuya saw how Ichigo had matured. The Ichigo he knew was quiet and reserved, and generally shy, what with all the blushing he used to have when talking to the raven. The Ichigo then held so much innocence and childlike air that was so normal of university students. But now, Ichigo looked so professional, except for his clothes which he didn't even bother addressing. The Ichigo now knew how to talk to people he barely knew and converse in a very professional and yet warm way. His eyes were not of pure innocence anymore. It spoke of various experience and also knowledge. He had truly become a man.

The group had continued their chat without minding the time at all. And they all knew that they hadn't had much relaxing time as that.

~growl, growl~

"…" All quieted down when they heard the sound. No one talked. They all looked at Ichigo, who looked at somewhere else, visibly blushing. The orange-haired pianist didn't eat anything before the concert and it was almost midnight now.

Byakuya smirked knowingly, feeling a little nostalgic. He cleared his throat before he spoke. "How about some dinner, Kurosaki?" Everyone, except the pianist himself, eyed him suspiciously. Was Byakuya Kuchiki actually flirting?

Ichigo subtly blushed, remembering a similar line that he once said a long time ago, before he recovered. "A-Are you serious?" He could recall the conversation they had back then. He was sure the next line would be that it was a joke. It was just to relieve him from the embarrassment.

"Of course. Why do you think I asked?" Byakuya turned serous again. But everyone could tell that he was amused. "I am not like some student of mine back then who often make the suggestion and then turning it into a joke."

Ichigo felt himself blush again, not subtly this time. After all, even if it was already a long, long time ago, the feelings that he once had were still there, subtly eating his heart away. "Then, by all means… I agree."

"Then…" Kyouraku wanted to say that he and the others would come as well just to tease Byakuya, but stopped when he saw the raven's glare. "Then we will be going home now." He smiled knowingly, much to the raven's annoyance and Ukitake's amusement. Kenpachi watched the exchange between different parties and was now sure of the facts.

"You're not coming?" Ichigo asked, eyeing every last one of them, not realizing Byakuya had already given his death glare as a warning to anyone who would dare come with them.

"No, Shuuhei and I have a date of our own too." Kaien grinned when he felt Byakuya's murderous glare. Shuuhei laughed at his lover's teasing. It was way too fun for them to tease Byakuya after all. The man, despite appearing so calm and organize, always fell prey to their taunts and was surprisingly easy to provoke.

"Date..? Oh." Ichigo didn't seem to notice that Kaien just told him that what he and Byakuya were about to do could be considered a date as well. The only thing that remained in his mind was that Kaien and Hisagi were lovers.

After some goodbyes and exchanging of contact numbers for professional purposes, everyone already left.

Ichigo had a car but they used Byakuya's since he was the one who asked for dinner anyway. The way to the restaurant they chose was silent, with only soft music as their background.

Byakuya, while driving, looked sideways once in a while. He could see that Ichigo was tired, which made him a little guilty for asking dinner so suddenly. "Are you tired?" He didn't know he sucked this much in initiating a conversation. Of course Ichigo was tired. Damn.

Ichigo looked at him and smiled. "A little." He chuckled. "I had a concert in another country the other night. I just came back to Seireitei this morning."

"It must be hard being number one." Byakuya said seriously, not looking at Ichigo anymore but at the road ahead. "You can give the title to us Byakurai, you know."

Ichigo blinked twice before he realized Byakuya was attempting to make a joke. Only, it failed because the tone and expression that the older man had was quite the opposite of trying to humor someone. The younger male laughed nonetheless. "Thanks, but no thanks."

The corner of Byakuya's lips twitched at that. It was almost as if he was smiling.

They arrived at a 24-hour restaurant and chose to sit at the very back, where they could have their privacy. After all, fans would get crazy if they saw the rivals having dinner together and acting like friends, almost. They ordered the same thing, which made Byakuya arch eyebrow. Ichigo simply shrugged and placed his order. They waited in silence, not knowing how to converse without anything getting awkward, until their order arrived.

Ichigo watched Byakuya ate. The man was, as always, graceful in everything he did. He remembered the days when Byakuya was his teacher. The man was totally elegant in teaching and graceful in moving and walking. It was like the raven was a noble, if only for lack of better comparison. It was quite nice to see that the man he loved, and would probably continue to love, didn't change much.

The orange-haired pianist had long accepted the fact that he would probably never love somebody else. He tried so hard to forget, even to the point of having relationships here and there in other countries, gender didn't matter, but it was to no avail. All he could think of every time he kissed someone was Byakuya. All he wished every time he hugged someone was that it was Byakuya he was hugging instead. He knew it was unfair to his lovers, and that it was hurting them, so he went one after another after he learned that the person couldn't make him forget. They all knew he loved someone else, but the guilt was still suffocating him. And in the end, he gave up having any relationship with anyone at all. And he felt more at peace…

Even just as a friend… If he could be Byakuya's friend, then he wouldn't wish of anything else. He would be satisfied. And right now, he was satisfied.

Byakuya could see that Ichigo was comfortable and he couldn't help but sigh in relief. He was afraid that the younger male would be too uncomfortable. After all, the raven was not the best of company to have.

"Is the food to your taste?" He asked. Ichigo looked up and nodded.

"Yeah, it's nice." He smiled. "The restaurant is nice too, cozy despite being small."

Byakuya nodded in understanding. And then he remembered something. He just had to ask, right? Byakuya prepared himself mentally. "Ichigo, are you free on Saturday?"

Ichigo blinked. He refused to think of any underlying meaning to that question. "Uh, yeah, I guess I'm free. Why?"

Byakuya closed his eyes, appearing serious and cold, but Ichigo could see that the older man was nervous. How he knew it, he didn't know. He just knew. "Byakurai will be having a performance on Karakura Stadium. Can you come?"

The pianist thought about it for a while, which made Byakuya nervous even more. Ichigo thought if he had some rehearsals or anything scheduled at that whole day, but he found out that he had nothing. "Okay, I'm free the whole day anyway."

Byakuya smiled a tad when relief came flooding inside him. "I'll expect you there then." Ichigo nodded. "Anyway, do you have anything to do after this?" Ichigo arched an eyebrow at him, something the raven wasn't aware the pianist was capable of.

Of course, that was the expected reaction. It was almost 1 in the morning and then Byakuya was asking him if he had something to do? Sleep, don't you think? Ichigo had to laugh when Byakuya immediately thought of that too, and before the raven could take his words back, Ichigo already answered. "No, I guess. Unless you include sleeping in something to do, I'm pretty much free."

BYakuya bit the inside of his lower lip. Of course… Sleeping. Ichigo needed that. Was he losing his rationality now just because he was talking to Ichigo? For him to ask such a question.

"Is there some place you wish to go?" Ichigo asked.

The raven wished he could just take his words back. Ichigo looked tired, though he was hiding it. The pianist was looking expectant at him though and he knew he wouldn't be able to deny that question. Those charming chocolate eyes were more effective than any puppy eyes he ever saw. He sighed again. "Yes, I want to go somewhere. Would you mind coming with me?"

Ichigo nodded slowly, still looking at him meaningfully. "You've been sighing a lot ever since earlier, Sensei. Are you tired?"

Asked the man who had just performed multiple compositions in a coliseum! Byakuya almost rolled his eyes. "I'm not your sensei anymore, so you can call me by my name now."

Ichigo's expression lightened. "So, Byakuya. Where would we go?"

The raven felt his eyebrow arched at that. "And who said you can call me by my first name?"

Ichigo simply smiled and shrugged. "You did. You even asked for it."

The raven chose not to ride on the banter. "Well, there's this place I want to go. There's no need for you to know… yet."

After their meal, the two drove into a park and took a stroll in the deserted area. It was almost 2 in the morning and no one would be sane enough to take a night stroll in a possibly dangerous place, except the two famous personalities who wanted some quiet time.

Ichigo walked to the balcony overlooking the entire city. Tiny lights coming from houses and establishments decorated the darkness of the night. It was a cloudless sky and there were stars here and there. But the most stunning sight was the crescent moon hanging at the sky. Ichigo liked crescent moons better than full moons. The cold night breeze caressed his face nicely, making him feel more relaxed. It was a tiring day and he was glad that Byakuya brought him to this place.

What Byakuya really wanted was for Ichigo to relax a little. He didn't know if this place was able to exhibit such response to the younger man but it made Byakuya more relaxed every time he went here during this hour. It was nice to help the pianist unwind even for just a little while.

The raven used to go here alone, thinking of work, of anything to compose, or of Ichigo. And now… the younger man was here together with him. And he felt as if his heart would quietly burst out of happiness. It was enough… he wished for their relationship to be this way for a long time now… They weren't lovers, yes, but they weren't mere student and teacher too. Maybe they could be friends..? He knew he was not someone to clamor for affection or friendship from anybody. But Ichigo was different. If it meant getting closer to Ichigo, then he wouldn't mind changing his old ways a little.

He watched Ichigo quietly. The younger man was beautiful under the moonlight. Ichigo's hair looked softer under the dim light of the moon and the raven had the unexplainable urge to run his fingers over it. He was not a kid anymore. He was not the type to fidget, stutter, or even faint from close proximity with the person he liked, not that he ever experienced those things. And yet, he felt like he wanted to jump or sit, or fidget, anything really, because he was too restless being alone here in the darkness with the younger man. He appeared calm on the outside but he was too restless inside. Ichigo was too close, way too close…

Ichigo fought back a blush when their shoulder brushed against one another. He wanted to make this night memorable, and he didn't want his emotions to get ahead of him and make him forget everything except the scent of the man beside him, too close beside him.

"Do you always go here?" He asked as he tried to keep himself calm.

Byakuya looked at him. "Yes."

"To unwind?" Ichigo guessed.

"Yes, and also to think." Byakuya answered as he looked at the city again. "The scenery makes my mind calmer and it makes me focus on things that I have to think about or do."

Ichigo nodded. He wanted to ask about those 'things' that Byakuya thought of, but he refrained. Was Byakuya still thinking of his wife? He knew he wouldn't be able to take that with a smile.

"You look like you want to know what those things are. The things that I think of." Byakuya said after a while, still looking at the scenery, making Ichigo's eyes widen a little as he looked at the raven. "I think of composing new music here. The quietness and serenity of the surrounding gives me the inspiration to compose. Sometimes I unwind, and not think of anything at all. And most of the times, I think of someone." The raven didn't know why he was telling it to Ichigo, but he knew that it would help himself cope up with his ridiculously painful situation. He loved Ichigo so much… and he was barely holding himself back from telling the other man…

Ichigo looked down. So it's his wife.

"I was supposed to be the one to leave. But that person left me first." Byakuya said as he closed his eyes. Ichigo ran away from him that time… He now wondered if the orange-haired man would do it again. It would be doubly heartbreaking if he did…

"You wanted to leave her?" Ichigo looked at Byakuya again. He didn't know that. "Why? Everyone thinks that she was the one who left you."

Byakuya looked at Ichigo with furrowed eyebrows for a while before it occurred to him that the younger man thought he was talking about his wife. "No, I wasn't talking about my wife. I'm talking about someone else." He inhaled the night air, inhaling Ichigo's scent in the process. Ichigo smelled so good… "I love someone else. I have loved that person for six years now. It was exhausting not having my feelings returned. But I don't mind. I can live like this."

Ichigo didn't know if he would feel more brokenhearted for himself or for Byakuya. He thought that the raven still loved his wife deeply, and now that he learned that Byakuya loved someone else, it was even more painful… And yet, the fact that Byakuya was suffering because of that love was unbearable. It was more painful than any heartbreak Byakuya could give him… If only the one Byakua loved was him, he'd make sure that Byakuya wouldn't feel like that…

"Does that person know that you still love him even after your breakup?" Ichigo asked again.

Byakuya had to sigh again. It seemed the younger man had a knack for misunderstanding things. "He doesn't even know of my feelings, idiot." And then he stopped when he realized what he had just called Ichigo. "I mean…"

Ichigo laughed at him. "It's alright. I'm sure you didn't mean that." Then his face turned more serious. "I think you should tell him, Byakuya, about how you feel I mean." He looked at Byakuya with sad eyes. "It's suffocating and painful to live like that."

Byakuya snorted, something he learned to do because of his constant exposure to Kyouraku's madness. "Telling him will destroy the meager relationship we have. I don't want to lose–"

"Him?" Ichigo suddenly blurted, eyes widening. He didn't think Byakuya was the type to fall for the same sex.

Byakuya immediately went on defensive mode. "Yes, any problem with that?"

"No. I was just surprised." Ichigo answered truthfully before he scratched the back of his head. "Anyway, if you don't want to tell him, then there's no way he will be sensitive enough around you. He might hurt you unconsciously… and before you know it, he will be leaving you–" And he stopped. He just realized he was not talking about Byakuya anymore. He was now talking about himself…

Byakuya saw the pain etched on Ichigo's expression and immediately patted him on the shoulder. "Are you alright?" He asked coolly.

Ichigo chuckled, though Byakuya could feel that it was pained. "I thought I grew up. I thought I got over things. I was wrong it seems…" He then stretched and looked at Byakuya again, though this time the raven knew that Ichigo looked more pained than earlier. "I think I better go home, Byakuya. It's getting late."

Byakuya felt utterly surprised. He felt like he was just rejected… again. Ichigo pretended to stretch as he walked away, leaving the raven staring at him. He thought they had a relationship… even if it was meager. But it seemed he was wrong… Ichigo was walking away from him again, leaving him vulnerable and hurting again…

"Ichigo…" He found himself voicing as he started walking towards the younger man. It wasn't fair… It wasn't fair that Ichigo could just walk or run away from him and he couldn't do anything about it. The pianist said that if he didn't want to be treated so insensitively, all he had to do was that, right? There was no relationship to protect after all…

Ichigo stopped. Did he hear right? Byakuya's voice sounded so pained it made his heart ache. He bit his lower lip as he cursed inwardly. He was too selfish… Byakuya was hurting and yet all he wanted to do was run away again… He clenched his fists before he turned around, only to step back when he found out that Byakuya was so close, too close in fact, and was standing in his personal space.

"Byakuya..?" He called when he saw that the older man looked like he was fighting with himself. His eyes were closed and his expression was pained. It was heartbreaking to look at… In the end, he wasn't able to stop himself. He touched Byakuya's cheek with his right hand and when the man opened his eyes in surprise, Ichigo smiled at him. "I think you should tell him after all." And then he let his hand fall.

This was it. He just told Byakuya to confess to someone. He knew it would kill him, but Byakuya was more important. It he could see Byakuya happy at the least, then surviving would be less painful.

"I plan to tell him." Byakuya stepped forward. "Can you help me, Ichigo?"

This was painful. "O-Of course…" Ichigo tried to smile, but it was weak. It seemed, if the guy returned Byakuya's feelings, Ichigo wouldn't be able to congratulate the two for a while…

He was surprised when Byakuya suddenly walked away from him, heading straight to his car. What? Was he leaving? Ichigo immediately walked after Byakuya. He didn't want to be left alone in this deserted place in the middle of the night where there was almost no taxi available. But he stopped when Byakuya returned.

"What–?" He looked at Byakuya before he looked at the violin case he was holding. Was he planning to play? Byakuya walked passed him and went to the balcony overlooking the city. The older man sat on the railing, feet dangling and facing Ichigo. He opened the case and brought out his violin.

Ichigo walked over to him. "Are you going to practice?"

Byakuya looked at him seriously before the raven shook his head. "I'm here to confess."

Ichigo blinked at him, not really understanding what he meant. "What… do you mean?"

Byakuya didn't answer. He placed his violin over his left shoulder as he held the bow with his right hand gracefully. "I composed this piece. It holds everything, my feelings… my longing… my suffering… my desire… and my wish… I want you to hear it, Ichigo."

Ichigo's eyes widened at that. And Byakuya started playing.

It was a very sad music… It made Ichigo's heart ache even more. Byakuya's eyes were closed and he wore a very pained expression. When he opened them again, he looked at Ichigo's chocolate orbs. His steel gray orbs were full of so much love and longing, and Ichigo didn't know if he would cry or feel awe. Byakuya looked like he was suffering and crying, even though he was merely playing the piece. It was too sad… It was just too sad…

Byakuya gritted his teeth when he struck the finale. "Don't run away from me anymore… Ichigo…" It hurt so much to be left alone…

Ichigo closed his eyes. He could take it no more. He heard himself whimper as he felt the tears flowed down his flushed cheeks. Byakuya loved him… Byakuya was hurting because of him… And he didn't even know it… He wanted to apologize, to tell Byakuya that he didn't have to be hurt anymore, to tell the raven that he loved him too… And yet, his throat felt hoarse and dry. And he felt as if there's a huge lump in it. He could only sob silently as Byakuya finished his piece. It was beautiful… but it was sad…

Byakuya watched silently as Ichigo sobbed. The younger man's shoulders were trembling and he was looking down. "Ichigo… you can scorn me, or laugh at me, or even feel disgust… But don't cry… Don't cry and feel sorry for my feelings…"

Ichigo immediately looked up despite the tears on his cheeks. "N-No! I… I am… I didn't realize… I didn't know of it… your feelings…" He wiped his tears with his hand, but Byakuya was quick to give him a hanky. He smiled. "Thanks. What's the title of the piece?"

"Here to Stay." Byakuya answered as he looked at Ichigo's chocolate orbs directly. "Ichigo, don't run away from me. I don't mind even if you don't return my feelings. Just… don't run away."

Ichigo shook his head as he continued to wipe his face with the hanky that had Byakuya's perfume. "Don't worry, I won't." And he chuckled. "Because I can't. There's no reason for me to run away now. Maybe I should do that piece in the piano too, just so you can hear my feelings as well. I can copy it just from hearing it once, you know. I'm the number one pianist in this country after all."

"Plagiarism is a crime, Ichigo. That piece is mine." Byakuya said in amusement as he raise his hand tentatively, obviously attempting to wipe more of Ichigo's tears, but was too shy to do it.

Ichigo noticed it and chuckled again as he walked over and shyly hugged the older man. Byakuya tensed for a second, obviously surprised and not used to being hugged so suddenly, before he relaxed. After a while, he hugged back.

The raven kissed Ichigo's hair before he whispered coolly. "I love you."

"Yeah, I know. You made that point quite clear earlier when you made me cry." Ichigo chuckled again.

"Arrogant brat." Byakuya said and the pianist chuckled again. Byakuya always uttered those words back in the university.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It was Saturday. The stadium was filled with excited and screaming audiences, and Ichigo was so glad he was given a front row ticket. He was alone, but he was not lonely. After all, he had just watched Byakuya perform. It had been a long while.

The members of Byakurai were still sweating and worn-out from their last piece, but they all looked satisfied and happy. They performed a total of ten pieces, and it was enough to drive any fan insane. The others were waving their hands and throwing air kisses on the audience. But Byakuya, as usual, stood coolly in front of the crowd, holding his violin and having none of those cheesy expressions.

He could not see Ichigo from the audience because the lighting was dim, but he knew the latter was watching him right now. He wanted to smile too, to at least tell Ichigo he was happy to be able to perform for the orange-haired pianist. But he was a very private person. He wanted his smile to only be seen by Ichigo and no one else. He could wait until later, much, much later…

And thus…

"Are you tired?" Ichigo asked as he sipped his soda. They were currently in the restaurant that they went to last time. His chocolate eyes gazed at steel gray ones.

Byakuya was very attractive in his gray suit, more so with his shoulder-length hair in a ponytail. He didn't like his hair getting in the way when he played the violin in front of a huge crowd. He had a very elegant air around him, which made all the waitresses and waiters wary, though not in a negative way.

"Not really." He answered simply as he gazed at his younger lover.

Ichigo, on the other hand, wore simple casual clothing, black long sleeves with its sleeves rolled up the elbow. Three buttons starting from the top were unbuttoned but he wore a red scarf to at least slightly cover his tanned chest. Byakuya liked looking at him.

They were like this for a while now, not conversing and not uttering much word. From an outsider's point of view, it would look like they were in the place merely for casual purposes, for business even. No one would even think that the two were sometimes looking at each other in a not so decent way, subtly of course. Their attempts at conversation were merely a way of releasing some tensions brought upon by one another in their eye-quest of the other's body.

No one would even think that they were flirting.

"You're handsome earlier, Byakuya. Especially when you play the violin..." Ichigo grinned shyly.

Byakuya arched an eyebrow at that, even though it was obviously a compliment. "Just earlier?" He asked in feigned annoyance and Ichigo chuckled.

"Sorry, sorry. My bad, Your Highness." He answered. "I mean, 'always'. You're handsome always." Byakuya smirked at that, looking smug, and Ichigo had to laugh again, though with much reserve because they were in a public place. They wouldn't want anyone recognizing them and then taking pictures of them together. Not that that would be an issue. It's just that they liked their personal lives as private as they could make it, being famous figures and all.

Byakuya was about to say something when his eyes darted on someone who just occupied the table beside theirs. And his eyes widened. Ichigo saw this and followed his lover's gaze. Byakuya was looking at a woman with raven hair and eyes. She looked just like Rukia, but she had a different air about her.

The woman was with another man and a small boy. She looked happy, at least until she saw the two men on the table beside hers. And her eyes widened too when her gaze met Byakuya's.

"Hisana." Byakuya's voice turned at least ten times colder. But his eyes spoke differently. They were warm.

"Byakuya." The woman named Hisana looked like she wanted to just leave the place. Her husband, a man with wavy brunette hair and kind chocolate eyes, was looking in between them too. The small boy was too innocent to notice anything.

Ichigo looked at the woman more when Byakuya said the name. So it was her…

HIsana didn't know what to do at that moment. Her new husband knew everything, but that didn't make it any easier than it was. The last time she saw Byakuya was at the court when she filed for annulment. The man looked different somehow, though she couldn't pinpoint what it was. There was something warm in Byakuya's eyes now.

Her eyes widened even more when Byakuya nodded to her before he smiled a tad. "You look happy." And she found herself sighing in relief. It seemed Byakuya had already forgiven her now…

"You too, Byakuya." She answered before her eyes darted to the orange-haired male who looked really familiar. She knew she somehow saw him somewhere, but she just couldn't remember where or when.

Byakuya was happy. It was because right now, he could feel no resentment towards Hisana anymore. He was happy for her, and from the bottom of his heart too. It felt good to be able to be happy for her. It was because he was happy with his own life now…

"This is my husband, Sousuke." Hisana introduced the two males and Sousuke shook Byakuya's hand with a smile. "And this is our son, Gin." Byakuya looked at the small boy briefly before he nodded.

The raven turned to Ichigo before his eyes darted to Hisana again. "This is Ichigo Kurosaki, my friend."

Hisana saw it, even though it was brief. Byakuya's eyes softened at least ten times when they settled on Ichigo's figure. It was a little bizarre to watch. Her husband wasn't the type of person to just look at other people with soft eyes. Unless… Her eyes dawned in understanding when she saw how Ichigo responded to her ex-husband's silent way of communication. It was endearing to watch… The husband she had was cold and rigid. This Byakuya that was in front of her now was full of life and warmth…

Ichigo didn't mind the fact that he was introduced as a friend. He was much of a private person as Byakuya was. And the fact that both of them were in the music industry made things a little bit more difficult. Byakuya apologized to him silently anyway. He nodded to Hisana but he was a bit surprised to find her smiling sweetly at him.

"Ichigo-san," her soft voice uttered. "Thank you."

Ichigo blinked at that. But HIsana didn't need to elaborate. She was thankful that Ichigo was there for Byakuya. She was consumed with so much guilt all these years, and now that she knew Byakuya was with the person he truly loved and cherished, then everything would be fine.

Byakuya's eyebrow twitched. Somehow, he didn't like it that Hisana called his Ichigo so familiarly. "About the introduction, Hisana. I made a mistake." They all looked at him. "Ichigo is my lover." Hisana laughed at that, not because she was making fun of homosexual lovers. It's just that she had never, ever seen a jealous Byakuya before, even in the course of their two years of marriage. She knew that teasing the raven about it would be quite fun.

Dinner went well and the Aizen family left afterwards. Byakuya felt that somehow, there was a huge chunk of iron that was lifted off his heart. It was freeing. The two of them walked some distance from the restaurant, feeling the night breeze and the quietness of each other's heartbeat.

Ichigo knew that Byakuya felt happier. Maybe it was because the ordeal and bitterness with Hisana had been resolved at last. He felt happy for his lover. "Do you want to go at my place?"

Byakuya stopped in his tracks and looked at Ichigo from the sideways. "Your place?" He initially thought that the other man had some plans, but Ichigo's innocent expression made it clear that he didn't. The raven sighed. It was just the second time that they went out together and Ichigo was way too trusting that he wouldn't do anything? "Do you know what you're suggesting, Ichigo?"

The raven watched as Ichigo blinked, obviously not interpreting the question in that way, before the meaning sunk in and the younger man's chocolate orbs widened before blushed crept up on his cheeks. "Wha–What are you saying!? I was merely–, I just want to show you someth–"

Byakuya leaned closer and kissed him gently before he smirked. "I know. I was just teasing you." Ichigo unconsciously licked his lips when the brief kiss ended. Byakuya noticed this the first time too but didn't comment. He liked watching that part of Ichigo too. "Sure, I'll go. Now?" Ichigo nodded.

They went back to the restaurant garage and drove towards Ichigo's condo. Kenpachi lived in a different condo, having sold their former house. They went up through an elevator and walked in the unit silently.

Byakuya's gaze touched everything, from the living room to the futons and to the piano beside the wall. His gray orbs looked at Ichigo as the latter removed his scarf and raked his hair unconsciously. Everything about Ichigo was endearing to watch… And Byakuya liked watching him.

"You said you want to show me something?" He asked.

Ichigo chuckled. "Impatient, aren't we?" He disappeared into the kitchen. When the orange-haired pianist went back, he was already carrying a tray of tea. The two of them sat on the couch side by side and sipped it silently. "So, did you bring your violin?"

"You told me to." Byakuya's eyes turned to the violin case beside the doorway.

Ichigo smiled before he stood up and went to the piano stool. "Shall we?"

Byakuya didn't know what Ichigo meant at first, until the latter played the piano. The raven couldn't help but chuckle. "Didn't I tell you that that's plagiarism?"

Ichigo looked behind his shoulder and grinned. "But I have a copyright from the composer!" Byakuya shook his head in defeat before he took his violin.

Ichigo started again from the beginning and Byakuya played together with him. The sound was very beautiful. It wasn't sad and painful anymore like the first time Ichigo heard it. It wasn't a confession anymore. It was now about them, and they knew that their music was calling out to one another. It was very heartwarming and calming.

"Want to sleep here tonight?" Icihgo asked, playing magnificently as always.

"That will be perfect." Byakuya answered, eyes closed as he played in his violin, though his lips twitch into a small smile.

"I love you, Byakuya." Ichigo grinned as he played.

Byakuya snorted. It was starting to become a habit of his. "Your voice is not needed, Ichigo. I can hear your music just right." The pianist's grin widened at that. Byakuya kissed the other's grinning lips before he resumed his part in the music.




Ren-sama's Note:

Yep, this is the end, people! Thank you for supporting "Sensei's Confession"! I love you all! And I know this is the last chapter, but please tell me your feedback! Review please!

And yeah, that last song "Here to Stay" was a theme song of Bleach so I don't own it. I really love that theme song! T_T

And I was planning to do some lemons… but I don't think it'd be appropriate. I fear that it might make the ending a bit cliché. I don't want that.

And so, it ends.