Notes: This was kind of hard to finish writing - the latest Bleach chapter left me in a less-than-ideal frame of mind for producing the relatively cheerful smut I intended for the ending of this story. Pressed on anyway, which is probably good for me - I just hope it hasn't affected the quality of my work too much!

I will definitely keep writing Bya/Ren, but this is it for Protasis - thank you so much to everyone who has read, reviewed, favourited or left followed! I am very grateful for such a warm reception. :)

Worst case scenario, thought Renji, he could at least spend the rest of his life jerking off to the memory.

"What's gotten into you today?" demanded Rukia around a mouthful of rice. "When you said you wanted to eat lunch together, I assumed you were planning on acknowledging my presence at some point during the meal, you know."

Renji heaved a sigh. "Sorry," he said, not really meaning it but not caring for an argument. "Guess I'm pretty tired today."

"Fair enough. You did drink quite a lot last night."

"Yeah," said Renji. "That's bound to be it."

They were sitting under a tree behind the Thirteenth Division training ground, watching the Fifth Seat leading his squad through their drills. Rukia had seemed happy enough to quietly watch their progress, and Renji had been taking advantage of the opportunity to indulge in a good sulk.

He hadn't seen Kuchiki-taichou at all that morning. The note left on his desk had been formal but apologetic, informing him that he had been called away by unavoidable family business and instructing Renji to carry on as usual until his return. Renji, jumping to conclusions, had spent the morning in a state of considerable agitation, convinced that Kuchiki-taichou was avoiding him on account of what had happened the night before. As soon as he could get away from the Division he had gone to see Rukia, and learned to his chagrin that his captain's absence was not, in fact, all about him. Apparently, some distant cousin of hers and the captain's had barged his way into the manor that morning, irate about some kind of failed business transaction and demanding the help of the family in sorting it out. "And he's friendly with the clan Elders," Rukia had explained, "so it'd be far more trouble to kick him out than to just hear his case."

That left Renji feeling fairly stupid, so he'd settled down with his lunch and begun mentally cataloguing the ways in which his next meeting with Kuchiki-taichou could go disastrously wrong.

He'd been up to item ninety-seven - honourable murder-suicide - when Rukia had interrupted him.

"Anyway," she said now, "I've got something to run by you. I think nii-sama might have a lover. Do you know anything about that?"

Renji choked on his mouthful of salmon. "What?" he spluttered, as Rukia thumped him patiently on the back.

"Well," she said, "I saw him this morning, before he had his haori on, and there was a mark on his neck. I didn't ask, of course, but I'm sure it was a bite-mark."


Renji's first thought was that Kuchiki-taichou was going to kill him for leaving a mark. His second thought was oh my god I left a mark on him, that is so hot, damn it-

"Renji. Why are you blushing?"

Don't think about it. Don't think about it. Don't think about it.

"Blushing?" he yelped. "Me? No way. It''s just warm out here..."

"Ok," said Rukia, still looking slightly suspicious. "I just thought you might have noticed something, since you've probably seen him a lot more than I have recently. Come to think of it, an affair would explain why he's been away from home so much lately..."

Don't blush. "Nah," said Renji, more to distract himself from the onslaught of mental images than out of any desire to continue this dangerous line of conversation. "He's just been in his office, like always."

"Hmm." Rukia looked thoughtful. "Maybe last night was the first time, then. It seems like pretty bad luck to take a new lover on the anniversary of nee-sama's death...but nii-sama's never been very superstitious, so maybe that wouldn't bother him."

Bad luck! Renji hadn't thought of that. He cursed himself mentally. If only he'd just waited one day he'd probably jinxed the whole thing, doomed himself to eternal misery or something. Or perhaps that explained why things had been so awkward afterwards – the jinx was already taking effect!

Rukia cocked her head to one side. "You're still blushing, you know."

"I told you, it's just the heat!" he snapped, frantically willing the burning in his cheeks to fade. It only seemed to make it worse.

"You know something, don't you, Renji?"

"No! I know absolutely nothing about Taichou's sex life, as if I'd even want to know! And since when is it your business?" Renji snapped, losing his temper in his embarrassment. He immediately felt bad about it, but it couldn't be helped now...and maybe by lashing out he'd have scared Rukia away from the subject...

It didn't look promising. On the contrary, Rukia's eyes were widening, and Renji could almost see the wheels spinning in her head as she puzzled out his defensiveness and his careless comments.

And he thought he could pinpoint the exact moment when Rukia put two and two together.

There was a long, tense silence, during which Rukia continued to scrutinise him and Renji felt his blush spread down his neck right across his chest.

"Oh my god," she said at last. "You had sex with nii-sama."

"No!" He could feel his face turning, if possible, still redder.

Rukia's eyes were as large as saucers. "You did!" she insisted.

"I'm telling you, I didn't! I mean, not really. I mean, ok...look, only a little bit! It was an accident, or something. And if you tell anyone, I swear I'll-"

Rukia cut him off. "Relax. Like I'd tell anyone, you idiot." She paused, looking him up and down as though she'd never seen him properly before. "Er…how was it?"

In spite of himself, Renji snorted. "Do you actually want me to answer that?"

Another pause. Rukia considered this for a moment, and then grimaced. "Absolutely not," she said decisively.

"Well, good."

Renji wished his blush would subside. His cheeks still burned stubbornly, but he sat up straight and squared his jaw with as much dignity as he could manage under the circumstances. Admittedly, it wasn't much.

He was uncomfortably aware that Rukia was still staring at him.

"What?" he demanded, after a long and embarrassing silence.

Rukia gave a feeble sort of shrug. "It's a fair bit to take in," she said. "Are the two of you...I mean..."

"Er, no idea," said Renji. "It just happened last night, after we left the pub - you went home, and I went back to the office and sort of...grabbed him, you know?"

"Grabbed him?"

"Well...yeah. I was kind of drunk, and I guess I figured he might be lonely given what day it was, so it was a good chance."

"I...I see," said Rukia, looking like she really didn't see at all.

"But then afterwards it was kind of awkward."

"What a surprise."

"And we both just left without saying anything."


"So things are gonna be pretty weird when he gets back from dealing with your family."


Renji sighed. "Are you going to say anything useful at any point?"

"Sorry," said Rukia, but she was smirking slightly. "It's sort of unexpected."

"Yeah, you said that already." Renji shovelled the last of his lunch into his mouth and stood up, still feeling rather pink around the ears. "Look, if we're done here, I should probably-"

It was at that point that the alarm sounded.

The upside of this farce, Byakuya thought, was that it had put a stop to that ridiculous family meeting.

"How many?" He kept his face carefully schooled into an expression of indifference as his Seventh Seat explained to him the full extent of the emergency that had torn him so rudely from his duties.

"Three that we know of, sir. All new recruits, who graduated from the same class as Itou."

"I see. And Itou is back in his cell?"

"Yes, sir," she said. "He turned himself in approximately six and a half minutes after the jailbreak occurred. Said he didn't want to be rescued, sir. I really don't think he had anything to do with it."

"So it would seem." Byakuya turned away, gazing out of the office window and wondering if this whole absurd day was some sort of cosmic vengeance for his behaviour the night before. "How did the party manage to get past the guards?"

"Well, sir..." The Seventh Seat blushed a furious shade of red. "Oyama had an upset stomach, so he was in the bathroom, sir. One of them distracted Morita by crying for help just outside the cell block, and when he went to see what was wrong the other two slipped in."

"I see." How utterly incompetent. Byakuya wondered if this affair could possibly be more embarrassing; to think such a debacle had occurred within his own division. "What steps have been taken?"

"Fourth Seat Sasaki and his squad have taken over guard of the holding cells. Abarai-fukutaichou took a few men out to look for the traitors, and he said he'll report back for further instructions if he finds them."

"Very well," said Byakuya. "Sasaki's squad will remain on watch at the holding cells. Everyone else is to resume their usual duties, but stay alert."

"Yes, Taichou!" The Seventh Seat bowed and took her leave.

Byakuya stayed by the window, watching as the trees outside waved their branches gently about in the breeze. He remembered Renji telling him yesterday of the rumour that Itou was set to be executed; obviously some of his friends had heard the rumour, panicked, and hatched a rather impulsive plan to rescue him. Byakuya was rather inclined to think that Kurosaki Ichigo shared some of the blame for this - the fame the brat had garnered by rescuing Rukia had doubtless influenced these young recruits, filling their heads with inane notions of heroism and personal justice. It was also true that the matter of Aizen had damaged general faith in the authorities and the laws of Seireitei. Yes, he could see how this had come to pass; there was nothing that could be done now except to extinguish the fire as promptly and effectively as possible, before anyone else could get the wrong idea.

He was pleased by Renji's timely and appropriate response. Strictly speaking, his lieutenant should probably have waited for his word before setting out to search for the would-be rescuers; but he had anticipated his orders well, and his quick reaction should make this troublesome process much easier. Byakuya was confident that Renji would be able to find his quarry, and that he would know better than to engage them without orders. Indeed, such confidence was something he had never had with another subordinate. Renji was an asset to the Division; he was also fast becoming an indispensable working partner to Byakuya himself.

The thought trickled down to further inflate the bubble of guilty anxiety that rose in his stomach whenever he thought about the previous night.

Byakuya knew he was prone to impulsivity; he always had been. As a child he had driven his caregivers, his teachers – even his patient, stoic grandfather – to despair on a near-weekly basis. When, they had demanded, fists balled with frustration, will you learn to think before you act? As he grew older he had learned to behave more appropriately, not to leap into action on every minor impulse – but not perfectly. Far from perfectly. Too often his passions got the better of him, and when they did they led him unfailingly into trouble: into battles he shouldn't fight, marriage against the family's rules, affections he absolutely oughtn't to harbour. On that front, Renji was just the latest in a series of proofs that he was shamefully incapable of governing his own heart.

As for Renji…well, he had no idea what Renji was expecting from him. Casual acceptance of their encounter? A declaration of love? Preferential treatment?

He could give none of those things. The third, in particular, made him feel slightly nauseous. And no – he knew his lieutenant better than that. The man was ambitious, but always honourable.

So then…


The door to the office slid open, and Renji bowed his way into the room. The bubble of anxiety in Byakuya's stomach hardened into a heavy stone. Gathering up all of his willpower, he composed his face into a calm mask and forced himself to look up.

Renji stood before him with his eyes fixed on the ground; his cheeks burned a bright pink behind the partial curtain of his hair. Byakuya's mouth felt dry, and he thought he should say something, anything, to ease the awkwardness – but then Renji spoke.

"We've found them, Taichou."

Uchida Atsushi was a young man of integrity and honour.

Born in Soul Society to a low-ranking noble family, he had worked hard his whole life to bring honour to his loving parents. He had graduated from the Shin'ou Academy with excellent grades in all four of the basic Shinigami combat styles. He had joined the Sixth Division of the Gotei 13 because he admired Kuchiki-taichou, who was noble and strong and proud and unwavering, and had intended to serve his captain loyally and faithfully. Even now, as they stood before one another as enemies, he admired Kuchiki-taichou. But his resolve was firm - he had to do this. He had to protect Itou-kun.

"Kuchiki-taichou," he said with the steadiest voice he could manage, "I am going to surpass you."

A spark of irritation interrupted his proud determination when his bold challenge provoked nothing from Kuchiki-taichou save for a slightly raised eyebrow. Meanwhile, Abarai-fukutaichou, standing behind the captain in an unguarded posture entirely inappropriate to the dire gravity of the situation, made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a cough.

"Kid," said Abarai-fukutaichou, "do you even have shikai yet?"

Atsushi felt his cheeks begin to burn, but he held his chin high. His resolve would not be broken by such taunts. "It doesn't matter," he cried, raising his blade defiantly. "I will save Itou-kun!"

Captain and lieutenant exchanged brief glances then, and Atsushi got the distinct impression that they were sharing some kind of private joke.

It was too much to bear.

"So, you don't take me seriously, then?" he continued, righteous anger welling up inside him. "Come at me, then. I will show you-" he paused, letting the tension build - "the true strength of my determination!"

Abarai-fukutaichou made that same strange coughing sound again. Kuchiki-taichou just blinked at him. Neither had drawn their swords.

"I do not doubt your determination," said Kuchiki-taichou calmly. "However, you may find that it is unfounded. Itou Susumu is, as I believe he told you himself, in no need of rescue."

Atsushi snarled. It was true that Itou had been reluctant to accept the hope that they offered him - apparently, he was already resigned to his fate - but as if that would stop his true friends from saving him! "I'm not going to let you kill him."

"Nobody wants to kill him," said Abarai-fukutaichou impatiently. "Don't you even listen? Itou's a dumbass, but he's hardly a serious felon."

Behind him, Atsushi could hear his companions whispering. Then they stepped up to flank him, Hara on his left, Kimura-chan on his right, and he took courage in the strength of commitment he felt radiating from them.

"You're lying," said Kimura-chan, her voice trembling slightly with fury. "We know the truth. The jury's rigged, and Itou-san is going to be executed to make an example!"

"An example of what, precisely?" asked Kuchiki-taichou, very slowly, as though under the impression he was speaking to simpletons.

"Don't change the topic!" bellowed Hara, drawing his own sword.

"That is enough," said Kuchiki-taichou. "Put your weapons down immediately."

For a moment, silence reigned. Atsushi looked at Hara, looked at Kimura-chan, looked down at his own sword and then up at the two elite soldiers standing unarmed and impassive before him. A seed of doubt began to grow in his stomach.

"You heard the captain!" barked Abarai-fukutaichou. "Drop 'em. Now."

The seed sprouted.

With a rather pathetic clatter, three nameless swords fell to the ground.

As they moved back towards the Sixth Division barracks, bound in a line by kidou, Atsushi witnessed Kuchiki-taichou and Abarai-fukutaichou look at each other for a long moment, scarcely mindful of their sheepish captives. Who knew why, but there was something very anxious in Abarai-fukutaichou's expression.

Eventually, Kuchiki-taichou's lips curved slightly upwards - a subtle, almost imperceptible change, but striking in the warmth it carried. "Nostalgic, isn't it?" he said.

Abarai-fukutaichou's answering smile was anything but subtle. "Sure is, sir," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "Sure is."

When Renji knocked tentatively at his captain's office door that evening, he was bid enter almost at once. Kuchiki-taichou set down his brush, pushed his papers aside and looked up, waiting politely for Renji to speak.

Renji had seriously considered not coming here tonight. He wasn't going to kid himself – he was nervous. He knew his captain well enough by now to have figured out his favourite coping mechanisms, and he was pretty sure that if he just said nothing, pretended the previous night hadn't happened, then Kuchiki-taichou would obligingly press on with his patented 'emotions don't apply to me' routine, and their working relationship would continue exactly as it had been. But…well, Renji had never been much for soul-searching, but he was also pretty sure he'd have a hard time dealing with that. And today's bizarre comedy routine had helped him put his nerves into perspective – this really wasn't the apocalypse he was dealing with. This was Kuchiki-taichou, who admittedly sometimes reduced his enemies to unrecognisable mounds of flesh and splintered bone, but who mostly sat in the office next door to Renji's every day and filled out administrative documents with neat, precise handwriting. Kuchiki-taichou, who could make a brick wall look embarrassingly emotive, but who would spill his blood without hesitation for the people he cared about. Kuchiki-taichou, who had started out as the object of Renji's bitterest envy and had somehow turned into the object of Renji's most ardent devotion. That devotion would endure no matter what the captain decided to do about this weird…thing between them. If a professional relationship was all they could have, Renji would deal with it. But he had to know it was the only option.

And so, he screwed up his courage. "I was hoping we could talk, Taichou," he said.

Kuchiki-taichou nodded wordlessly and, rising, led Renji over to the seldom-used visitor's couch and offered him a seat. His expression was characteristically unreadable, but Renji interpreted the gesture as a welcoming one, meant to set him at ease. It certainly wasn't for his captain's own comfort - the man sat as straight-backed as ever on the soft couch, not relaxing in the slightest. But that was probably to be expected.

Renji took a deep breath, trying to get his words in order now that he had obtained his audience. In truth, he wasn't sure what he wanted to say - everything that came to mind seemed far too presumptuous, far too intimate to utter in front of the stern, dignified man sitting opposite him. He was surprised, however, when Kuchiki-taichou took the initiative and broke the silence.

"I would like to know," he said, "what exactly it is that you want from me." There was nothing hostile or accusatory about his tone; he sounded uncertain, perhaps even a bit lost.

"I was actually going to ask you that," said Renji, surprised by his captain's hesitance. Kuchiki-taichou looked almost shy; he'd seen this expression only once before, when he visited him in the hospital after the events at the Soukyoku. "I mean...isn't my position kind of obvious, sir?"

Kuchiki-taichou shook his head mutely. Renji paused, but it looked like it was all or nothing, so he took another deep breath and pressed on.

"Well, I'm...I'm kinda head over heels for you, Taichou. You know, you're my boss and I respect you, you're stronger than me and I admire you, but I also really want you...and I guess what I want is just to get as close as you'll let me, honestly."

To Renji's surprise, the faintest shadow of a blush appeared on Kuchiki-taichou's cheeks at these words; in spite of his anxiety, he had to fight the urge to smile. There was something he had never expected to see in his life.

"There's more at play here than what I 'let' you do, Renji," said Kuchiki-taichou, and although his voice was steady, the blush did not fade from his cheeks. "As your direct superior, it is my duty to act responsibly towards you regardless of my personal wishes. It would be unconscionable to take advantage of my position of authority over you. My behaviour last night was inappropriate, and for that I apologise unreservedly."

Renji took a moment to digest this. He had been more or less expecting all that stuff about duty and boundaries, but one part stood out - echoed in his mind and set his stomach fluttering. "Your personal wishes?" he repeated, warmth bubbling in his chest. "Is that your way of saying you're into me as well, hey, Taichou?"

That faint blush grew ever so slightly darker. "Renji, weren't you listening? My personal wishes are not important. "I am your captain, and we can't just-"

"Sir." Renji knew he was pushing his luck by interrupting, but the warmth in his chest was spreading, filling him with restless, daring energy. "We already did, remember?"

"I have already apologised for that," said Kuchiki-taichou, and for the first time his voice betrayed a hint of something that sounded like nervousness.

"But I don't want you to." Renji leaned forward, eager to put less distance between them, figuring it could only help - the pattern of their exchanges so far said that his captain found it much harder to prioritise reason and responsibility when they were close. "I don't want you to be sorry - and anyway, it was me who started the whole thing."

"You were drunk."

"I knew what I was doing. I'm from the Eleventh Division, Taichou. If there's one thing you learn pretty fast over there, it's how to hold your liquor." Noting that Kuchiki-taichou looked distinctly unimpressed by this line of argument, Renji changed tack. "I'm not asking you to stop being my captain," he said. "I get that we can't walk around the Division holding hands, or whatever. I'll still respect your authority and follow all your orders. I'm pretty low maintenance. Long as I get to see you sometimes, I won't complain."

Kuchiki-taichou blinked several times. "Renji...we work together. You see me all the time."

"You know what I mean," said Renji, chuckling. Then he hesitated, but he had already taken the plunge - why not see how far he could push? "Look, Taichou. I reckon I'm talking way too much, and I don't want to waste your time. I really just want to grab you again and see if it works for me this time, but that's probably not a great habit to get into. Er, I mean the grabbing, not the bit that comes after. Cause that bit's a good habit and, you know, I wouldn't mind if we got into it more - I mean - well-" He took a deep breath, trying to get his thoughts back in line, and dropped his gaze to his hands. "Yeah. So I'm gonna leave it up to you, now that you know what I want."

He was not expecting an immediate response, but the silence dragged on so long that eventually Renji chanced a look up. Kuchiki-taichou sat as still as a statue, eyes fixed on some vague point in the air between them; Renji could see that he was thinking very hard, but his expression gave nothing away.

The seconds ticked by.

And just when Renji thought he couldn't stand the suspense for another moment, Kuchiki-taichou stood up, and Renji's heart went plummeting straight down to his feet. He had misjudged, and Taichou was just going to walk away now, and they were never going to speak of it again-

"Renji." The captain's voice was perfectly even, betraying not the slightest hint of emotion. "Come with me, please."

A shot of adrenaline raced through Renji's veins; he froze, unable to meet his captain's gaze. "Taichou?"

"The office is not an appropriate venue for this discussion," said Kuchiki-taichou calmly, and swept out of the door.

Heart thundering, Renji rose and followed. He hardly dared believe what was happening. He was misunderstanding something - Taichou hadn't actually said-

The walk felt far too long. Kuchiki-taichou didn't speak, and Renji didn't dare break the silence. A hotly bubbling mixture of excitement and apprehension was churning in his stomach, and he was surprised the floor beneath him didn't tremble from the fierce pounding of his heart.

Their destination turned out to be the captain's quarters, tucked away in a private corner of the barracks. They were almost never used - Kuchiki-taichou preferred to live at his family manor - but the bedroom was kept tidy and fresh for those rare occasions the captain found it more convenient to stay with his Division. For a brief second Renji took in the spartan surroundings, which were no different from Renji's own, save for the absence of Renji's cluttered personal effects; then Kuchiki-taichou closed the door behind them, took Renji by the waist, pulled him close and kissed him.

It should have been painfully obvious that this was going to happen, but nonetheless Renji found himself frozen in place, stunned by the sudden contact. Kuchiki-taichou's hands were warm where they gripped his waist; his head was tilted slightly upwards into the kiss, and it struck Renji for the very first time that he was actually taller than his captain. He stayed stock-still, his arms hanging loosely by his sides; but then the captain pulled back, concern written plainly on his face, and Renji's body caught up all of a sudden.

He felt giddy as he pulled Kuchiki-taichou back in, crushing their mouths together and twining his fingers through inky black hair. He still wasn't completely sure this was real, but damned if he wasn't going to make the most of whatever the hell was happening. His captain smelled like musk and leather and expensive soap, and the heat of their bodies pressed so close together made Renji's knees weak. That feeling only intensified as firm, steady hands slipped in between them and began working on the ties of his uniform. Although his movements were calm and methodical, Renji could feel a hint of the same reckless, urgent reiatsu that had prompted him to kiss Kuchiki-taichou that first time; a hint of sharp, burning need beneath his captain's cool exterior. And when the final layer of fabric crumpled on the floor and he felt the cool air on his skin, Kuchiki-taichou broke the kiss to look at him, and Renji felt himself flush as slate-grey eyes raked over his body, lingering on the blatant evidence of his arousal. The hunger in that gaze caused any lingering self-consciousness to evaporate.

Renji's own hands trembled a little as he began undressing his captain in turn. It really didn't help that Kuchiki-taichou had turned his attention to Renji's ear, gently sucking and nibbling at the lobe as his hands roamed all over Renji's chest and back. Each touch seemed to send a jolt of pleasure straight to his groin, until it was difficult to concentrate on his task – but eventually he got there, and then it was his turn to stare. Kuchiki-taichou was gorgeous, all sharp planes and pale, unblemished skin, slender in a way that belied his monstrous strength…and just as hard as Renji was already.

Renji's vague plans of taking things slow went flying out the window. Patience never had been his strong suit. Right now he wanted this too badly – desperately wanted to feel his captain's body against him. The sudden force of his need nearly bowled him over.

Kuchiki-taichou seemed to be thinking along the same lines, and Renji found himself being pulled down onto the futon, the captain's weight pressing down on him. The touch of skin on skin drew a heated moan from Renji, who felt so hard it almost hurt. Taichou's mouth was at his neck, tracing the lines of his tattoos with lips and tongue and teeth; a gentle hand gripped his hip, and then Kuchiki-taichou began to grind against him, maddeningly slow and restrained.

"How do you want to do this?" Kuchiki-taichou's voice was almost a purr in his ear, and he continued to slide sensually, torturously against Renji, their cocks rubbing together; Renji felt a tremor run down his spine, and he bucked his hips up, heard Kuchiki-taichou's breath catch in his throat.

"I want you to...fuck me." Renji flushed as the words left his lips, mortified by the note of desperation in his tone; but the quickening of his captain's breath made up for it. He caught Kuchiki-taichou's hand, guiding it down his body, needing to be touched; he felt Kuchiki-taichou smile against his neck, and then his hand closed around his cock and it was all Renji could do not to come on the spot. His touch was far too light, stroking along his shaft, circling the head, teasing mercilessly. When he eventually let go Renji heard another whine leave his throat, and he arched up helplessly, unable to bear the loss of that delicious friction.

"So impatient," Kuchiki-taichou murmured. He knelt up, and opened the cupboard behind the futon. There was not much in it - a spare uniform, and a basic kit of toiletries. He retrieved a bottle of lotion and poured a small amount into his hand. Renji moaned.


The rest of his words got lost in a loud moan as a finger pressed lightly at his entrance, teasing. Kuchiki-taichou captured his lips in another kiss as his finger slowly entered Renji, and oh god the pace was excruciating; Renji squirmed against the touch, desperate for more.

"So impatient," said Kuchiki-taichou again; his voice was rough with desire, his breathing slightly erratic.

"You don't - nnh - don't have to go slow," hissed Renji. He was answered by the addition of a second finger, curling inside him, sending hot bolts of pleasure up his spine as the other man stretched him. When he was satisfied he pulled them out, and slicked his own arousal, taking his time, a faint smirk tugging at his lips as Renji positively writhed with anticipation.

Finally, finally he positioned himself at Renji's entrance and pushed in, penetrating only the smallest amount before he paused.

"Renji," he breathed, "is this-oh." His words were cut off as Renji bucked forwards, burying him to the hilt in one surge.

"Fuck," Renji gasped. "Taichou..." His head was spinning, senses overwhelmed by the blissful, aching burn of being filled. Kuchiki-taichou's eyes had fluttered closed; his breathing was ragged, and when Renji bucked up again he gave a small broken groan. He seized Renji's hips to hold him down, and stayed very still for a long moment that made Renji want to scream with frustration; then he began to move, and his pace was slow, but so forceful that Renji had to gasp for breath.

It really wasn't going to last long. Renji could already feel the tension coiling within him, and his thighs trembled as he drew them up further. The change of angle elicited another quiet moan from Kuchiki-taichou, and the grip on Renji's hips tightened almost painfully. Renji felt unbearably hard; impatiently he reached for his cock, which was leaking precome steadily as pleasure jolted through him with every thrust of Kuchiki-taichou's hips. A hand caught his wrist, and he tried to protest, or possibly to beg his captain to touch him again, but all that came out was a needy groan.

"Already?" asked Kuchiki-taichou teasingly, but Renji did not miss the tremble in his voice, or his soft cry when Renji took advantage of his newly freed hips to thrust upwards again. Something caught fire in his captain's gaze, and then all coherent thought vanished as Kuchiki-taichou began to thrust harder, faster; a slender hand wrapped around Renji's cock, pumping in time with his thrusts. Renji couldn't match him; could only dig his fingers hard into Kuchiki-taichou's thighs and throw back his head and give himself over to the intensity of his own passion. Bright points of light danced underneath his eyelids, and then everything exploded in a violent rush of pleasure and Renji heard himself cry out as he came, hard and sudden, eyes rolling back in his head, spine arching involuntarily. Kuchiki-taichou's teeth sunk into Renji's shoulder to stifle his own cry, and the pain sent another sharp jolt of pleasure coursing through Renji's trembling body.

Then Kuchiki-taichou's hair was tickling Renji's chin as he collapsed onto his chest, sweat-slick and panting for breath.

"Fuck," said Renji, when he thought he could speak again.

"Indeed." Kuchiki-taichou's voice was muffled against his shoulder; he seemed totally unconcerned by the stickiness of mingled sweat and come that spilled across Renji's stomach. Renji hesitated, waiting for the awkwardness to set in; but Kuchiki-taichou's breathing gradually returned to normal and he simply rolled off onto his side, face still buried in the side of Renji's neck, one arm draped comfortably over Renji's middle.

At some point, sleep crept up on Renji, and the last thing he remembered thinking before he drifted off was that Taichou's hair smelled really, really good.

Itou Susumu heaved a blissful sigh as he settled back into his own familiar, deliciously comfortable bed in his small, cosy quarters in the Sixth Division barracks. He hadn't for one minute resented his stay in the holding cell – he'd deserved it, he felt, for breaking the law – but it was wonderful to be back in his own bed again.

The trial had been a lot less frightening than he'd expected. It had been held in a small room within the Second Division barracks, and consisted of Kuchiki-taichou, a panel of elderly judges with stern but honest faces, and two Second Division guards who stood off to the side of the room and minded their own business. Taichou had presented him to the judges, explained his crime and recommended the probationary period and pay reduction as an appropriate punishment. The judges had approved his recommendation immediately, and given Susumu a brief lecture on proper conduct before adjourning. Then Taichou had walked him silently back to the Division, advised him of the conditions of his probation – he was to obey the law, prove his commitment to the Division by working hard, and report to his probation officer twice a week – and then dismissed him.

Susumu was more concerned about the plight of Uchida, Hara and Kimura-chan than anything else. He'd heard about their arrest from his squad-mates when they'd come to congratulate him on his freedom: apparently Kuchiki-taichou and Abarai-taichou had caught them in person. Susumu didn't think his friends posed much of a threat to anyone, and certainly not to Taichou; but treason was a serious crime, much more serious than Susumu's own transgression, and they were likely to be punished much more harshly than he had been. Miyamoto-san seemed to think they were going to be executed – but Miyamoto-san always had been fond of gossip, and Susumu knew better than to take him seriously.

In any case, it couldn't be helped now, and Susumu was confident that Taichou would treat them fairly. Now he just had to put it all out of his mind and do his very best work to make up for having inconvenienced Taichou and the rest of the Division.

He got up from the futon and flung open his window; a gentle breeze fluttered into the room, carrying with it the crisp scent of night air and the camellias in the courtyard below.

Soft voices floated up to him, and he watched quietly as the unmistakeable figures of his captain and lieutenant made their way across the courtyard. He couldn't make out what they were saying, but they seemed happy; as they passed out of view Susumu heard Abarai-fukutaichou laugh, a subdued sound, but warm and infectious.

With a contented sigh, Susumu propped the window the rest of the way open and returned to his bed, settling back in comfortably. Yes, he thought: tomorrow, he would do his best.