(An Aizen/Byakuya love story for SlytherinQueen020 :) Hope you love it in all of its wickedness!)
Chapter 1: Called
Kuchiki Tetsuya came awake suddenly, his wide sapphire eyes blinking in the darkness and his sharp senses piqued. He worked his way free from the strong, tanned and tattooed arms of his red haired lover and slipped out of bed, moving on silent feet towards the open garden doors. A shiver of uncertainty passed through his slender body as he looked out into the night and found a tall, glowing pillar that appeared to have crashed down into the center of the gardens. He started to step forward, then gasped and whirled about as a hand came down on his shoulder.
"Renji!" he hissed, his heart pounding, "You scared the life out of me!"
"What's..." Renji began, but he was quickly hushed by a pale hand that covered his mouth.
"Look," Tetsuya whispered, pointing.
Renji's red-brown eyes followed Tetsuya's gesture, and widened as they took in the sight of the huge, white pillar.
"A Tenchuuren?" the redhead breathed, remembering the divine pillars that served as a vehicle for the Royal Guard, "Here? What the...?"
Tetsuya slipped out onto the walkway, then onto the grass, oblivious to the cold as he concealed himself within the bushes and Renji took up a position at his side.
"I wonder what's going on," the redhead mused, watching closely as a cloaked figure emerged from the pillar and started towards Byakuya's bedroom.
"No word was given that there would be a royal visitor," said Tetsuya, "But sometimes we are simply not told what they are about. They are a level above the noble class in the royal hierarchy. I assume this means that a royal edict was issued, but..."
He paused as the cloaked figure exited Byakuya's room, carrying the sleeping clan leader in his arms.
"What is he doing?" cried Renji, breaking free of the bushes, "Hey!"
"Renji, no!" Tetsuya gasped, following, "We are not allowed to interfere with them!"
The two young men slid to a stop as the person carrying Byakuya turned in their direction, and a bright flash erupted from the person's extended fingertips. Before the two stunned shinigamis could move, the odd light struck them, and Renji and Tetsuya collapsed, losing consciousness instantly. A second person emerged from the Tenchuuren and greeted the first.
"What should we do with them?" asked a male voice, emanating from the person carrying Byakuya.
"Leave them be," a feminine voice replied calmly, "They will remember nothing of this when they wake."
The man carried Byakuya into the Tenchuuren as his companion lifted a skeletal hand and touched the pillar. The pillar shimmered, then slowly shrank down to the size of a small toy. The woman's lips smiled as she picked up the shrunken pillar and slipped it into her pocket. She turned back for a moment, studying the two motionless forms on the ground, then turned her back on them and flash stepped away.
"Ugh..." groaned Ichigo, moving sluggishly as Kisuke gently extracted himself from the younger man's snug embrace, "Where are you going? It's only four. What's going on?"
"A hell butterfly from Unohana taichou," the shopkeeper answered, yawning and swatting away the hell butterfly that had awakened him, "Something about Renji and Tetsuya being found unconscious in the gardens at Kuchiki Manor."
"Really?" Ichigo asked, coming fully awake at the mention of his friends, "Are they okay? What happened to them?"
"They were taken to the fourth division. Unohana taichou sent the hell butterfly to ask me to come in for a consult. You can tag along if you want. I know you'll want to check in with Rukia and see how Renji and Tetsuya are when we get there."
"Right," Ichigo agreed, climbing out of bed and looking around for his clothes.
"Allow me," Urahara said, grinning as he picked up his cane and touched the bottom to Ichigo's chest.
Ichigo's human body dropped to the ground and his shinigami form emerged, fully dressed in his shihakushou. Kisuke lifted Ichigo's body and deposited it back in the bed, before quickly dressing and then heading for the underground training area, with Ichigo at his side.
"What did they tell you?" Ichigo asked, his brown eyes intense with concern.
"Not much," Kisuke answered, leading him into the senkaimon, "Seems that Renji and Tetsuya were found by two guards on duty this morning, collapsed in the garden and unable to be roused. They had the clan healer take a look at them, but he couldn't determine what happened to them. So, Byakuya had them taken to the fourth and asked Unohana taichou to consult with me about it."
"Huh," mused the shinigami substitute, "That's weird. Byakuya asking for your help? I thought he was still kinda pissed over you and Yoruichi taking off together when Aizen set you up to be banished. I know he blamed you for Yoruichi disappearing."
"Yeah," Kisuke admitted, "And I don't really blame him for being upset. Despite what it looked like, he and Yoruichi were close when he was younger. After losing his parents, Yoruichi was the one who spent the most time with him. She trained him extensively in shunpo and hakudo. They were tight, even though he pretended to hate her."
"For him to ask specifically for my help suggests that he's really concerned about those two."
"I hope they're okay," said Ichigo, "Rukia's got to be a mess. She is really close to both Renji and Tetsuya."
"Yeah, well, don't worry. We'll get them sorted out."
The two went quiet then, their footsteps echoing dully as they continued on their way through the precipice world. They emerged out of the central senkaimon, then flash stepped to the fourth division. Kotetsu Isane met them at the front doors and guided them swiftly through the lobby, and down several hallways to an isolation room.
"We had to quarantine the two, as Unohana taichou wasn't sure if this was an illness, an injury or some kind of attack. She has examined them thoroughly and ordered blood and reiatsu panels, but nothing has come back from the lab yet."
"Kisuke!" Rukia exclaimed as she spotted them, "Ichigo! Thank goodness you're here."
"We came as soon as we got Unohana-san's message," said Ichigo.
He looked in the window at the two men who laid in the beds in the isolation room.
"How are they doing?" he asked.
Byakuya met his eyes solemnly.
"Their conditions are stable, but Unohana taichou cannot wake them," he reported.
"Can you tell me what happened?" asked Kisuke.
"We don't know," said Rukia.
"Two house guards sounded an alert, early this morning and informed us that they had found Renji and Tetsuya collapsed in the gardens," Byakuya explained, "They were cold and unresponsive. They are alive, but no one seems to be able to wake them. Oddly, they seem to have been in that place in the gardens through a shift change. As cold as they were, they had to have been there for some time. And they should have been discovered when the guard changed, but somehow weren't noticed by the guards going off or on duty that had to pass right by them."
"Well, that's definitely not normal," commented Kisuke, "Were there any visible injuries?"
"No," Byakuya went on, "Neither had any signs of injury or illness, and no one else was seen or sensed in the gardens except for the house guards."
"This just gets stranger and stranger," commented Rukia, looking in at her cousin and her best friend, "I just wish that they would wake up and tell us what happened."
"Hey," said Ichigo, slipping an arm around his distraught friend, "They're gonna be okay. They're not sick or badly hurt right? They're just asleep."
"But they won't wake up!" Rukia said worriedly, "Even Unohana taichou couldn't wake them up!"
"Well, then let's have a look, okay?" said Kisuke, following the fourth division fukutaichou into the room, where Unohana taichou waited.
"Ah, Urahara Kisuke," the healer greeted him, "Thank you for coming so quickly. As you saw, Kuchiki taichou and Rukia-chan are very concerned."
"And how about you, Unohana-san?" Kisuke asked, "What's your impression?"
The healer looked down at the two unconscious men, then back at Urahara.
"I believe that they were attacked," she said with certainty, "They were struck by some power that seems to confound our efforts to identify it."
"But they aren't in danger of dying?"
"I do not believe so," Unohana said, "but it is distressing that so much time has passed and they are still unconscious. And all of the usual methods of waking them have failed."
"And it makes a person wonder what they came across that they maybe weren't supposed to see."
"What do you mean?" asked Unohana.
"Well," said the shopkeeper, "They were hit with a non-lethal blast that knocked them out, but apparently, wasn't meant to kill them. This intruder, whoever it was, just wanted them quiet and out of the way for a while. But the questions is, what was that person doing while the boys here were napping on the lawn?"
He turned back to Byakuya, who had joined them in the room.
"What did the house guards have to say?" he asked the noble.
Byakuya shook his head.
"No one saw or sensed anyone suspicious in the house or gardens all night," he reported, "All check-ins were normal, all night long."
"And yet, these two guys were left, passed out on the grass and even the changing guards who walked right past them didn't notice them. That's either a pretty strong illusion type charm, or your house guards are alarmingly obtuse, Byakuya-san."
"Tetsuya, himself, heads the house security staff," Byakuya countered, "They are all powerful and highly capable officers. And as I also sensed nothing odd during the night, I do not think that they were remiss in their duties."
"Hmm," Kisuke mused, gazing at the noble for a moment.
He moved suddenly, shocking the unsuspecting noble with a flicker of kido, then catching him as he collapsed.
"What the hell?" yelled Ichigo, from where he and Rukia watched through the window, outside the room.
"Kisuke!" shouted Rukia, running into the room with Ichigo a step behind.
Unohana taichou turned a curious eye on the shopkeeper.
"I expect you have a reason for adding yet another unconscious person to my ward?" she asked in a surprisingly calm manner.
"Yeah," Kisuke chuckled, "Sorry about that. But it occurred to me that someone able to mess with such a highly capable security staff would probably be there for one thing...him. I think you should check Kuchiki taichou out and see if he's himself or just a pretty double."
"You think he may have been replaced?" asked the healer, "Why?"
"I don't know yet," Kisuke said, shaking his head and turning the noble's limp body over to a pair of healers who had rushed into the room, "But I would suggest running full panels and checking him out psychologically, just to be sure. It seems awfully suspicious that someone got the drop on a sharp guy like Tetsuya. Has anyone checked the Kuchiki archive to see if there was an entry during the time that Tetsuya and Renji were unconscious?"
"I don't know," said Unohana, "but I understand why you ask."
"Right," Kisuke said, nodding, "That's the other possible target at Kuchiki Manor besides Byakuya-san, here. The Kuchiki family archive contains the most comprehensive history of Soul Society, along with a lot of interesting and some dangerous goodies in the vault there."
"Unfortunately," said Unohana, raising an eyebrow, "as you have knocked out the only person with access to the archive, we will have to wait until Byakuya-san wakes to check the archive records."
"Ah, you have a point there. Sorry about that."
"I will go and see to the blood and reiatsu tests on Kuchiki taichou while you have a look at the other two patients, here," Unohana said, following the healers carrying Byakuya out of the room.
"Thank you, Unohana-san," Kisuke said, nodding, "All right. Let's see what we have here."
The shopkeeper moved forward and leaned over Tetsuya's motionless form.
"A deep sleep. No REM activity," Kisuke mumbled, frowning, "I don't sense any foreign reiatsu, which means that if he was attacked, the attacker was on a level that we don't want to think about. Espada maybe or very high level shinigami. It would have to be to take these guys by surprise and knock them loopy."
He opened Tetsuya's yukata and studied his body carefully.
"No obvious signs of physical trauma. Had sex recently. Looks like Renji topped tonight."
"We didn't need to know that," Ichigo said dryly.
"Spirit centers are functioning normally. No sign of internal damage."
He paused for a moment, then snickered.
"What is it? What did you find?" demanded Rukia.
"Eh...maybe I'll just forget I saw that," chuckled Kisuke.
"Saw what?" asked Ichigo, "Kisuke...?"
"Looks like someone forgot to charge the pregnancy protection charm. Renji's little playmate, here, is carrying an extra!"
"What!" Rukia and Ichigo shouted.
"Whoa!" Ichigo went on, "He's a guy! How does that work?"
"Oh, right," laughed Kisuke, "You don't know. Noble male shinigamis are...a little different. You see, when the spirit king made them, he wanted to be sure that they would procreate...ahm...whether they got together with girls or other guys. So, when a noble male is taken by another male, his body forms a reiatsu chamber inside and captures the genetic material, then forms it into a reiatsu cluster. The cluster matures inside the shinigami's body for several months, then emerges through the abdominal wall and is born, then solidifies into shinigami form. The duration of the male pregnancy is generally shorter than a traditional pregnancy, and the only discomfort is while the abdominal wall loses some cohesion to allow the cluster to pass through. It's pretty interesting, really."
"Heh," chuckled Ichigo, smirking, "I wonder if 'Daddy Renji's' going to think so!"
"Shut up!" laughed Rukia, "Renji is head over heels in love with Tetsuya-san. He's going to be on top of the world. He's been working on Tetsuya-san to marry him, but Tetsuya-san was afraid to ask Nii-sama because there is still some disapproval amongst the elders when a clan member wants to marry a commoner."
"Well, they probably won't give these guys any trouble now," Kisuke mused, shaking his head and grinning.
He closed Tetsuya's yukata and moved on to Renji.
"Also in a deep sleep, no REM. No sign of physical injury."
Rukia and Ichigo exhanged amused glances.
"Had sex recently," they said together.
"How did you guess?" asked Kisuke, "And topped. Spirit centers are fine and functioning normally. I'm finding nothing that explains why these two are still out cold. Damn."
He started to say more, but stopped as Isane entered the room, carrying two medical charts.
"Unohana taichou thought that you should have a look at these while she finishes the tests being run on Kuchiki taichou."
"Great, thanks," said Kisuke, taking the charts and opening Tetsuya's, "Blood panel's normal. Reiatsu indicates a pregnancy, but is otherwise normal."
He paused and squinted at one test result, then quickly consulted Renji's chart.
"What is it?" asked Ichigo, "Did you find something?"
"Maybe," said the shopkeeper, "You see..."
He broke off as a low rumble went through the building and the division alarms began to ring.
"What the...!" Kisuke breathed.
The rest of his words were drowned out by the sound of a muted explosion.
Kisuke was out the door and down the hallway in a flash step, with Rukia, Ichigo and Isane on his heels. They slid to a stop outside an examination room that now had smoke pouring out of it. Unohana taichou and Hanatarou stood outside the room, staring into it in surprise.
"What happened?" asked Kisuke, "Was Byakuya-san in there?"
"No," said Unohana firmly, "The person that was in there was not Kuchiki taichou, nor even a shinigami."
"Then, what was it?" Kisuke asked, staring.
"I do not know," the healer confessed, "As soon as I began the tests, I sensed a flare of errant reiatsu, a dangerous surge of power. We had to evacuate the room. And whatever was in there, exploded and left only ash behind."
"Huh," said Kisuke, frowning more deeply, "Someone A, didn't want us to know Byakuya-san was missing and B, wanted to make sure that if we did find out, we couldn't figure out how he had been replaced."
"But where is Nii-sama!" cried Rukia, "If that wasn't him, then where is he?"
"Probably with the person who knocked out Renji and Tetsuya," Ichigo said angrily, "Damn it! How are we going to find him?"
"I don't know," Kisuke confessed, "But I think we have to start with what Renji-san and Tetsuya-san know."
"But how can we find out what they know if they won't wake up?" Rukia objected.
"I'll let Unohana taichou work on that," Kisuke said, turning towards the door, "I'm going to Kuchiki Manor to have a look around."
"You want me to come with you?" asked Ichigo.
"Naw, you stay here and keep Rukia-chan company. I've got this. I'll be back as soon as I see if there's any evidence to collect."
"Okay," Ichigo agreed, "But let us know what you find there, okay?"
Rukia and Ichigo watched as Kisuke left, then walked slowly back to Tetsuya and Renji's room. Both stopped short in the doorway, noting that Tetsuya was sitting up and looking around with a confused expression.
"R-rukia-chan?" he queried uncertainly, "What happened? How did I get here?"
He spotted Renji in the bed next to his and staggered to his feet, his face paling.
"Renji-san!" he cried, shaking the redhead urgently, "Renji-san, wake up!"
"Whoa, hey, take it easy!" Renji groaned drowsily, "What's all the racket?"
He blinked, then smiled up at Tetsuya.
"Are you all right?" Tetsuya asked worriedly.
"I'm fine,"' Renji assured him, "But how in the hell did we end up here? Weren't we at your place?"
"You guys passed out!" Rukia explained, "In the gardens. Don't you remember?"
Tetsuya frowned and shook his head.
"No," he confessed, "I only remember going to sleep next to Renji-san."
"That's all I remember too," said Renji, shaking his head to clear it, "What happened? How did we get here?"
"Someone broke into the manor and attacked you," Ichigo explained.
"What?" Tetsuya gasped, his blue eyes blazing.
"It gets worse," said Rukia, "We don't know who it was, but we do know one thing. They took Nii-sama!"