Chapter 10: What I Would Do If...

Byakuya woke to an incredible feeling of deep warmth and perfect relaxation. It should have seemed odd to find himself so, while lying on his back with another man's hot, naked body spread out across his chest, the man's nose buried in his hair and his breath gently teasing the fine, sensitive skin of the noble's throat. Indeed, in the past, such a situation would have found the Kuchiki heir looking up through wide, hazy eyes into brown eyes that were far more sinister than this man's. He pushed away the thought of that other man with an effort. He didn't want to lose the wonderful feeling that had found its way inside him with the sudden entrance of Kurosaki Ichigo into his love life.

"We are...lovers then?

If he hadn't been sure at the moment he had asked the question, he was sure as Ichigo's head lifted slightly upon the younger man registering his wakefulness. A smile warmed those gentler eyes and made Ichigo's face even more inviting. Byakuya felt his own lips curving into a rare, lovely smile.

"You look like you slept well," said the young man, his fingertips tracing a porcelain cheek.

Byakuya couldn't resist a little bit of characteristic sarcasm.

"Well, you were surprisingly capable in your employment of those sleep kidos," he said, smirking slightly.

"Huh," the younger man huffed softly, disturbing the noble's satin hair, "I told you I wouldn't blow anything up. I'm too determined not to let anything happen to you."

"Yes, I see that," Byakuya sighed, wanting to sink into those heartbreakingly affectionate eyes and never emerge from them, "You are...very protective of the people you...care about, Ichigo."

Impossibly, the younger man's smile warmed even more, and his soft, happy chuckle resonated all through Byakuya's gently trapped and very bare body.

"The people I love," Ichigo corrected him.

Byakuya's eyes registered surprise. They blinked slowly as he tried to make sense of the words. But the words only spun more wildly in his mind as that smiling mouth closed in on his and firmly claimed it.

The way he looks at me through such loving eyes, the way he touches me, like doing so is both an honor and a sweet pleasure, the simple truth in what passes between us, this is love, isn't it?

This is what love feels like?

Why was I afraid of it?

What Aizen Sousuke indulged in with me was not love. I think I knew that all along. But in my young mind, I thought that him touching me sexually meant there was some kind of love, even if it was twisted and cruel in nature. But love, it turns out, isn't like that at all. Falling into love for the first time makes clear that what happened to me before was not any kind of love, but pure, hateful and cruel abuse.

And recognizing that seems to be allowing me to let it go.

Yes, it doesn't hurt nearly so much when looking into these eyes, when feeling his touch all over me, when his kisses warm my mouth. That other man's horrid words vanish under the force of this man's very simple, pure offers of affection.

How extraordinary...

And extraordinary fast became stellar as Ichigo's voracious mouth plundered his, as his searching hands slid over the perfect curves and planes of Byakuya's body, igniting a scintillating internal fire that flickered all around the two, and threatened to burn out of control.

Ichigo's mouth released his, and blazed a trail of kisses down the side of his flushed face. The noble shivered as the kisses became harder, and the sharp tips of the younger man's teeth teased the sensitive skin of his throat and shoulder. A languid tongue found one pale earlobe and caressed it into blushing submission, and the words that followed resonated all through Byakuya's soundly shaken heart.

"I love you, Byakuya."

Impossible...

This man and I were enemies...two forces that collided and tried to break each other apart. But that was before I really knew him, before the way he protected Rukia, the way he sought to save Orihime, and then the way he saved Soul Society from Aizen Sousuke destroyed the mistrusting barriers I had placed around my heart long ago. And when he sacrificed his powers to save us all, when he humbly accepted being no more than a 'simple human,' he became even more in my eyes than when he was strong.

How odd it feels to go back and see clearly now the pathway that our love took to get to this point. And now, to know that all that we did, every step we took, each pain we endured was all to reach this place of comfort and beauty, and to erase the stings from each others' hearts.

Ichigo...

He wondered if he had said that name aloud, as lust grew like a flame in Ichigo's piqued expression, as the hands that explored Byakuya's body lost some of their gentleness and became more passionate. His hips moved in a slow, steady motion, rubbing their bodies together, sending lovely, erratic flutters of intensifying arousal through both of them.

"Ichigo!"

He was shocked at the sound of his voice.

But it shouldn't be surprising. This is the sound of one lover calling out for his mate. And this, what he is doing to me is his answer to that.

And it began to feel as though the younger man was devouring him. Seething tongue and marauding fingertips caressed him, then traveled downward. Ichigo's kisses lit small fires on his skin as they made their way down his gently heaving chest and over his soft, vulnerable belly. He sucked in a surprised breath as that devilish tongue found his navel and dipped inside, then slid out again slowly, and continued downward.

"Ichigo..." he panted, closing his eyes.

He couldn't stifle a satisfied groan as the younger man's mouth pleasured him. He was so overcome with pleasure, he forgot completely that there had ever been anyone else, that anyone had made him feel scared and hurt.

He was almost convinced that Ichigo had finally shattered Aizen's hold over him. Then, a damp, curious finger touched his entrance, and everything crashed down. Byakuya took a tremulous breath and realized that he was shaking. In the next moment, he realized that Ichigo had stopped and raised himself, and was now staring down at him.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"I am fine," Byakuya assured him.

"Bullshit. You think I couldn't feel the way you changed just now?" the younger man asked.

"Hmmm," the noble mumbled in a non-committal tone, "So, you want to stop because we have reached an uncomfortable boundary? How very unlike you. You seem to delight in breaking down walls and smashing through barriers, Ichigo. So, go ahead. I am not resisting."

"But you are reacting," said Ichigo, "So, I think before we go on, we should do something about that."

"What do you mean?" the noble queried, blinking.

Ichigo smiled and lifted his hips, parting his thighs and straddling Byakuya's body.

"Ichigo, you do not have to..."

His breath was suddenly taken away as Ichigo positioned himself to be taken.

"Ichigo," Byakuya said, stopping him, "You, too, have difficult memories of someone else. You would not hurt me, and I feel the same about hurting you. Perhaps we should stop for now."

"Are you kidding me?" Ichigo said, shaking his head, "Byakuya, you know. You know like I do, that we are never going to get those bastards out of our heads if we don't replace our memories of what happened with better ones."

"But being touched by me is sure to..."

"So, let it bring the memories back," Ichigo argued, "And we'll smash them to pieces and write new ones together, ne Byakuya?"

The suggestion left Byakuya breathless all over again.

"Th-then, you take me first," he insisted.

"No," Ichigo said stubbornly.

And before the noble could protest further, Ichigo began moving again, clenching at the bedding and bowing his head, closing his eyes as he brought their bodies together.

"Ichigo!" the noble gasped, "Are you...?"

The question disappeared into an inferno of blazing heat that exploded around him as they became one with each other. He took Byakuya into him in small measures, then, gazed down into Byakuya's entranced eyes and smiled.

"This doesn't feel wrong," he whispered, "And it doesn't feel strange. It feels very, very right, and it feels natural to be with you like this, Byakuya."

"Does it?" the noble asked in a surprised tone, "You didn't seem so comfortable with the idea of having a male lover before. Why is it different now?"

Ichigo's smiled warmed even more.

"It would have been awkward with anyone else, male or female," he explained, "But with you, it just feels right."

Byakuya started to answer, but lost the ability to speak as Ichigo's body began a slow, gentle rise and fall atop him. His own body responded without hesitation, rising up to meet Ichigo's in a series of increasingly harder and faster movements. He watched the younger man's face carefully for signs of discomfort, but found only honest passion, young love and intoxicating pleasure. Ichigo's hand clenched the bedding more firmly, his body quaked and soft, hungry moans escaped his lips. The sight of him like that, given over to the heat of their passions made the energies in the noble collide. He forgot his caution, his reservations, everything but the joy of being one with his new lover. He thrust hard and fast into Ichigo's poised body, moaning out his name heedlessly as pleasure roared like fire through his veins, sending him toppling over the edges of desire and exploding into glorious release.

The sound that came out of Ichigo as the younger man was filled with Byakuya's proud essence was so deep and satisfied and sexy that the noble forgot about his nervousness at being penetrated. All that he wanted was to feel his lover's power overwhelm the one that had enslaved his young heart and body so long ago. He wanted warmth and love to wash over the places in him that had been tainted by heartlessness and cruelty, to be set free from the darkness of that man who now sat bound in a cell in the lowest part of the Central 46 prison.

He loosed that desire in a flurry of enticing kisses as he brought them both up onto their knees on the bed. He climbed onto Ichigo's lap and, still kissing him, impaled himself on the younger man. Ichigo gasped and grabbed his hips in dismay.

"Byakuya! What are you...?"

His words disappeared into a heady barrage of heavy, penetrating kisses. Ichigo groaned longingly at the incredible heat that surrounding him, at the softness of the body that wrapped so tightly around his, and the lovely sakura scent that filled his senses. Byakuya's hands clung to his shoulders, and the noble leaned against him, panting hard as he gave over everything to giving Ichigo pleasure. And as he felt the younger man's body seize and begin to shudder, his own was jolted with a second climax as powerful as the first.

"Gods, Ichigo!" he gasped in surprise, as the younger man's heat blossomed inside him, "How did you...?"

He fell onto his back and Ichigo collapsed on top of him, smiling widely and caressing the nearly senseless noble's lips with softer, sweeter finishing kisses. Byakuya would have drifted off, but remembering how Ichigo had only just finished watching over him as he slept, he send a gentle pulse of kido through the younger man to send him off to sleep. Byakuya laid quietly then, with Ichigo splayed out across his naked chest, his head rested on the noble's shoulder, and soft, contented snores sounding in Byakuya's ear. Byakuya's fingertips gently teased the short lengths of his hair, traced the lines of his sleeping face and soothed away the nightmares before they could disturb his sleep.

Yes, we still have much to conquer, do we not, Ichigo? That man still occupies our minds and threatens us. But whatever it takes, I will free you from him. You broke Aizen Sousuke's hold on me after all of this time. And if it is the last thing I do, I will free you from Kugo Ginjou!

He held Ichigo quietly, watching him sleep and mulling over all that had happened between them. It all made sense, where it hadn't before. All of the scattered pieces of the events made more sense viewed through eyes filled with love, and a body filled with true love's powerful essence.

Then, a sudden realization jolted him.

Ah! We have made ourselves vulnerable to pregnancy. I don't think either of us is ready for that.

He reached into the drawer next to the bed and removed two charms he had placed there upon realizing the turn that their association was taking. He slipped one around his own neck and one around his lover's, sending a pulse of kido into each to charge it.

"What's that?" Ichigo said, touching the charm Byakuya had placed on him with a curious fingertip.

Byakuya gave him a fleeting smile.

"Assurance that parenthood waits until we are ready," he explained.

Then, he blushed furiously at what he had just implied.

Ichigo laughed and brought him down on the bed for another bout of steamy, open-mouthed kisses. They surrendered again to their passions, then exited the bed and adjourned to the shower together. They stood quietly beneath the steamy spray, letting their hands roam freely over each other, relaxed and calm in the aftermath of their lovemaking.

Byakuya rested his head on the younger man's shoulder and closed his eyes.

"So," Ichigo said, smirking, "You're thinking that we're going to just stay together permanently, ne?"

Byakuya lifted his head and fixed him in place with one elegant gray eye.

"Did I say that?" he asked coolly.

"Well, not in so many words, but...then, you're not so much one who speaks loudest with his words. What you do is a much better sign of what you're thinking."

"And you think that you know what I am thinking?" the noble asked.

"Yeah," laughed the younger man, leaning forward and breathing into a blushing ear, "You want me to have sex with you again."

Byakuya smiled enigmatically and brought his lips to Ichigo's ear.

"I love you too," he whispered, making the ginger-haired man freeze where he stood, "How is that for speaking my thoughts?"

Ichigo's brown eyes flared, and he pushed the noble back against the tiled wall, invading his mouth forcefully. He took his stunned lover, still standing, then nearly had to hold him on his feet as they washed each other clean and left the shower.

Ichigo blushed at the sight of the two attendants that waited for them in the dressing area, but noting Byakuya's calm acceptance of them, he settled and actually enjoyed being dried off and dressed by someone else, although he would have preferred that person be Byakuya.

"So, do you even know how to dress yourself?" he joked.

Byakuya arched a fine eyebrow.

"I dress myself at the division quite often. What, did you think that Renji does that for me?" the noble asked, smirking.

"He'd better not," Ichigo said, wrapping his arms around the noble from behind and kissing him on the throat, "I think I'd have to kick his ass."

"Oh, so I am your property now. Is that it?" Byakuya said coyly.

"No," Ichigo chuckled, pulling him in for another kiss, "You're my lover."

Byakuya paused, thinking for a moment.

"Then, you will not let anyone touch me without your consent?" he asked.

"You've got it," Ichigo said firmly, "And I hope it's the same for me."

"It is," Byakuya agreed.

He went quiet again, thinking of the man who sat bound in Central 46. Then, he turned out of the dressing area with Ichigo on his heels.

"Ichigo, I wonder if you might go and see what progress Urahara-san is making in Karakura Town."

Ichigo eyed him curiously.

"Are you trying to get rid of me for some reason?" he asked pointedly.

Byakuya frowned.

"You know, Kurosaki, I am a clan leader and a taichou. I cannot lay about all day making love and carrying on. I have responsibilities to see to. And we do need up to date information as soon as it becomes available."

"Okay," laughed the younger man, "I was just messing with you."

"I am aware of that," Byakuya said, hiding a smirk, "Get out of here, Ichigo. I have to go to work."

"All right, all right! Sheesh!" the younger man huffed, heading for the door, "But just so you know, I will be back."

"I will inform the guards."

"Smartass!"

Byakuya felt a smile on his lips and touched them with a fingertip as he watched Ichigo leave. He left his bedroom then, and walked out of the manor, pausing for a moment before turning towards Central 46. He wondered at the step he was taking and reconsidered several times before reaching the prison.

But he was clear about what he had to do.

He was greeted by the guards at the compound's entrance, then had time to again question what he was doing several more times before he reached the lowest level of the prison and headed for a heavily guarded door. The guards greeted him respectfully, and opened the door, allowing him to enter.

"Leave us," he said calmly, sending the guards reluctantly out the doors.

The lock echoed as it clicked into place, leaving Byakuya alone with his former tormentor.

Aizen's one uncovered eye fixed on him, and a chilling smile rose on his lips.

"Why, Byakuya, my sweet little plaything!" he said sedately, "What brings you to the depths of hell?"