A/N: I wrote this a bit ago on ff.net when just a rambling romantic inspired me with her premise. Its been cleaned up a little since then and I thought it'd be good to share here. I'm happy to recieve criticism so if there are any issues please inform me.
Summary: Byakuya is turned into a cat giving him the opportunity to deepen his attraction to a certain red head.
Warnings: No spoilers but expect mild to moderate OCC.
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite.
He felt full lips upon his, and was painfully aware of his own lack of arousal as he returned the force of her kiss. Slender arms tried vainly to encircle his waist as a small body drew closer and he tried so desperately to match her passion – as he had done in the past, as an adolescent. She soon saw through his efforts and stepped away, eyes shining with the pain of rejection.
“I should have known that your penchant for the lower classes didn’t die with her.” The words spoken so casually, were undone by the vicious content and the noble blanched at the callousness, though he understood its motivation.
“Yoruichi,” he warned dangerously.
“I think I know the problem. It’s time for a change of perspective.”
“What do –”
One thought drove him. His Division. His office. In his panic, he believed it to be that simple. If he could only make it that far, he could rid himself of this disgusting form by convincing everyone of his identity. His progress, as he navigated the labyrinthine corridors, allowed little room for further consideration.
The Kenseikan had been abandoned a few corridors ago. The fragile ornament had proved to be too heavy in his small jaw and with reluctance he had dropped the last marker of his identity. It gleamed behind him, illuminated by dawn’s light and only slightly marred by a few patches of rust brown – blood from his own bleeding gums, where the sharp edges had viciously dug into pink flesh.
He raced along the rooftops and mistimed jumps as he travelled – plummeting to the springy stone below, only to pick himself up immediately in his haste to reach his destination. He was a stranger in this body, and that is how he intended it to be. It would be dangerous, he reasoned, to grow comfortable. Already he could appreciate the dangers of that possibility; it would, after all, be harder for subordinates to recognise the truth of his condition, if he looked accustomed to this metamorphosis, at the least he needed to look awkward.
He froze as something foreign, touched a part of him that brought his childhood to the fore with all the subtlety of a blade to the belly – and Byakuya knew that sensation all too well in his Captaincy. Fast, weighty and immovable the few instances of childhood disobedience rose within, the memory of his beatings irresistibly bearing down upon him, and he could do nothing. The ground moved away from his feet ... paws? The downwind that ruffled his fur marking the ascent as he was raised high into the air.
A paw tried to claw at the hand that kept him held aloft but the angle would not allow retaliation just yet. Then he was turned until he almost touched a nose? It was hard, somehow, to focus at close range and all that could be distinguished was the rough outline of a face, marked by jagged lines of darkness. A hole moved and then he knew for certain that this was, in fact, his adjutant.
The voice was recognizable and yet different. The words lost some of their meaning, but the added cadence and appreciation of wider, more subtle tones made up for the mental deficiency. Amusement. He was amused. Byakuya responded instinctively as annoyance rose within. Denied his usual monotones and dismissive hair flick – his signature dismissal – sharp teeth bit down on the protruding appendage.
The hand relaxed its hold and he met the same air of his ascension as he fell, only to land with all naturalness on all fours. Freed, he squatted by the door to his office, ears laid flat to his head, awaiting judgement.
The soft nudge to his rear by a sandal as he was moved aside was all that was forthcoming. Byakuya turned in surprise, ears still flattened to his skull as he watched the tall figure move into their shared office.
He sat back on his hind quarters and watched the door gently slide to a close. The action was lacking its usual energy. Was the softness of its close for his benefit?
Then realisation came. If Yoruichi could speak in this form, then so could he. He opened his mouth and began to talk but his displeasure was only communicated by a growl and the violent swish of a tail. He stopped after a moment, his new appendage beginning to settle as he pondered the next move.
Renji eyed the empty office with unease. Was he early? Shrugging his shoulders he moved towards his desk and the piece of parchment that idly rested there. The ink gleamed to suggest the message was newly written as the short note was held up and inspected. The script was written in an elegant and yet hurried hand. His Captain was going to be away on a real world mission for a few days and so he was to lead the Division in his stead. He scratched his head as he re-read the message. It did not seem like his Captain to leave so suddenly, and to leave him to lead the Division without further instruction. It was definitely suspicious but there was no mistaking the penmanship. With a poorly disguised yawn, Renji seated himself at his own desk and resolutely looked over some of the day’s paperwork. A scratching in the silence drew his attention to the door, and the small shadow beyond it, and back to his smarting nose as he moved to investigate the noise.
The need to access the office was strong. The door was made of paper, and he had claws. He did the only logical thing and began tearing into the flimsy barrier.
“Hey, stop that!” Renji chided as he drew back the screen door, unintentionally carrying Byakuya along with it, claws still imbedded in the paper fibres as he was dragged along the floor with a pained snarl.
“Sorry, sorry,” Renji cooed as he halted the door’s progress and knelt down on his knees.
Byakuya bit back another snarl as the man’s fingers gently worked to disengage his claws from the fabric of the door.
“I didn’t think you wanted to come in so badly. If you did, you could’ve been more friendly,” a husky voice whispered as large hands worked to free the last claw and Byakuya stayed still and watched him warily, fighting the desire to strike out in discomfort.
Renji stood and leaving the scarred door open he returned to his seat. After a moment Byakuya followed.
“You know,” Renji remarked as he watched the cat timidly cross the threshold, “my Captain would kill me if he knew I was letting strays in.” His tone became more thoughtful as he finished the sentence and Byakuya felt the implications of their own working relationship. Inwardly shrugging, with the resolution to ponder the significance of Renji’s lexis and tone change another time, he halted any further line of enquiry and focused on the main objective.
With the confidence of his feline facade Byakuya approached with more surety and vaulted onto the desk. Pleased with his success, he, unwittingly, sat on the very message written by Yoruichi to mask his absence.
Renji watched the visitor with a bemused expression. Still, the paperwork wouldn’t write itself. So, trying to ignore the weighty presence (how could a cat carry such gravitas?) of those bright grey eyes, he set to work on the large stack resting in the in-tray. But no sooner had he uncovered his ink, before the cat reached out a paw.
A plan quickly formed. Speech was impossible but perhaps writing was not? It would be difficult to write without hands but the important point was to try. Writing aid would be the best option given its few and relatively straight strokes. But no sooner had he made a move for the pot when a hand flashed out to remove the receptacle. A small chuckle accompanied the action. Grey eyes looked upon a tan face, with surprise when it was noted that the glorious red hair of his Lieutenant was as muted and as dull as shadow. How had he not noticed until now? With a shake of the head to dismiss the pointlessness of his observation he made another play for the pot of darkness, but the hand moved once more to thwart his efforts. This time he pounced with all of his body, and missing the target he almost slid from off of the desk, a few stray papers taking his place as they fluttered to the floor below. Undeterred he made another play for the hand that held the ink, and was once again defeated in his motive. He continued to follow the trajectory of his hope, small though it was, perseverance doing little to aid him. He soon came to realise he was playing as his strikes darted from left to right, high and low, and in any direction those hands chose.
He stopped, suddenly self conscious, tail flicking in mild annoyance, when a new idea came. If he couldn’t obtain Renji’s inkpot, then he would simply utilise his own. He bounded off the desk and landed in a less than graceful manner. Renji placed the pot back down and thinking the cat had grown bored of this game, and would now disappear he placed his first document down and readied a brush over the clean sheet. He stopped a second later as the blur of movement in his periphery informed him of further mischief. He looked to his Captain’s desk with interest, followed swiftly by horror as the expensive wood was stained a second later. The identical inkpot now lay on its side, its contents forming makeshift socks as the visitor dipped its paws into the inky substance, no doubt intrigued as to the wet sensation.
This was not going to plan. He had only meant to dip his paws into the pot, but the jar was discovered sealed and had to be knocked over, in an angle that would give him the necessary leeway to write a message upon the paper stacked neatly on the out-tray. The pot did not cooperate as the darkness spread outwards, in intimation of a pebble upon a smooth body of water, quickly coating his paws. Bewildered he stood, mind whirring with the possibilities that were now left open to him. He had the ink with which to write, but the paper, so clean and pure a moment before, was now stained and unusable. Unless...
Renji rushed over to better ascertain the damage, ignoring the culprit, who jumped down and moved past him. That is, until, from the corner of his eye, he registered the few paw prints distinguishable from the sticky mass.
“Oh no! The flooring!” He groaned as reddish brown eyes bleakly followed the trail of black back to his own desk, and the mischief-maker that was now walking all over the paperwork there.
“Oh no you don’t,” he said in mock anger, “you wanna play. I get it, but you can’t use the stationary like this,” a sharp intake of breath as the ruined wood was contemplated, “my Captain is gonna kill me!”
The cat only wore a baleful expression, as it continued to stamp on the orders from, oh crap, General Yamamoto himself. He would not look forward to asking for copies.
Renji swiped at him/her...? Softly whistling. “Say, cat, you don’t have money by any chance, do you?”
“Yeah. Figured as much. I wonder how many wage packets I’m gonna lose to you.”
This course was obviously proving useless. With a flick of his tail to signal anger Byakuya jumped from off of the desk and stalked proudly from the room. Help would have to be found elsewhere.
He returned a few hours later with his back and sides smarting from the crushing death grip of one pink monster, mercifully cut short by the arrival of her Daddy, and a dash up the alley. An audience with the General Commander an hour or so later had been cut short by the promise of a trip to the kitchens – to be made into the evening meal. Scratches were left in answer before he bolted out of the nearest window and fell four floors. All things considered, Renji had offered the best reception, and so it stood to reason that sanctuary could be found in his presence. So it was that the beginnings of guilt and something more elusive that he refused to consider began to form in Byakuya’s mind as he appeared at the claw torn door and observed his Lieutenant. The red head’s posterior was raised in the air, hands scrubbing at the stained flooring. Surprise was also foremost in his thoughts, because he had half expected Renji to slack off in his absence. Did he think so little of the man? It appeared so.
“Bastard ink!” Renji grumbled only to jump into the air moments later as something soft brushed along an exposed arm.
“Fucking hell!” He swore as he gazed at the cat once more. “What did I do to deserve you? Don’t you have a home to go to ... kitty?”
Kitty?! He received a swipe to his cheek in answer.
“Ow,” Renji complained, “I guess I’ll take that as a no, eh?”
Renji sat cross legged on the floor, wiping the sweat from off his forehead before holding out his hands in a welcoming gesture. Byakuya had to wonder, once again, why this man felt the need to turn most of his sentences into tag questions. It suggested a need for constant approval, and was a mark of weakness that would have to be addressed once he became human.
The cat made no move to come closer and after a moment hands dropped down in defeat. “Stupid cat,” he grumbled in time with his stomach. It was definitely time for lunch.
He couldn’t believe the vulgarity. As if he would go to him, to be touched by those hands after they had been used to wipe the sweat from his brow. Hadn’t he ever heard of a handkerchief? Or simple disposable tissue? He knew what he’d be buying his Lieutenant on his next birthday.
Renji moved from the room, Byakuya following at a respectable distance before something flying overhead got his attention and he darted in an alternate direction, beguiled by the flight path of such a tantalising object.
“Mmmm,” Renji agreed between mouthfuls of noodles as he listened to Ikkaku discuss the finer points of Matsumo’s mountains. Although in reality it was the finer points of his Captain’s body that got his blood racing. Had done for years now.
“I think I like them best when –” but whatever Shuuhei was going to say was lost to the shared silence as a half eaten bird dropped down onto the table.
“Urrgh, I think I am going to be sick,” Kira choked out before dashing to the nearest bushes.
Moments later Byakuya dropped down from the tree that hung over their seating, with feathers sticking from his mouth and blood coating his fur.
“The cat I mentioned earlier,” Renji announced with a shrug.
“I thought you were joking,” Shuuhei said, over the sounds of Kira’s retching, before reaching forwards to pet the creature. His arm jerking upwards as fangs sank into an outstretched hand.
“Arrgh. It’s bloody vicious,” he ground out as he made to retaliate with a fist.
Renji stopped him. “What do you think you’re doin’? We don’t all like to be petted, you know.”
“Alright,” Shuuhei conceded as he withdrew the hand, only to cradle it to his chest, blood seeping out from his knuckles.
“It’s glaring at me,” he accused a few minutes later, after Renji had finished recounting the cat’s appearance to Ikkaku who had joined the group a little later than usual.
“Excuse me,” Kira put in timidly, “but are any of you going to dispose of that?”
“Sure, sure,” Renji said as he picked up the carcass with his bare hands and without preamble threw the pitiful creature into the same bushes into which Kira had deposited his lunch.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Renji said to Shuuhei, addressing his earlier accusation, as the cat moved closer to him.
Before Shuuhei could retort, his mouth working overtime as the cat continued to glare in his direction, Ikkaku cut in.
“I wonder if it’s the same cat that left old man Yama.”
“Hmmm?” Kira asked as he resumed his seat at the table.
“Yeah, have you seen his face?”
“Red raw and bleedin’. From what I heard off Yumi. Apparently his next meal didn’t play too nice.”
“Really?” Renji enquired.
“Yeah,” Ikkaku said with a wide smile.
The cat suddenly spit out its feathers and began to groom itself in what they all considered to be a self satisfied manner.
Renji laughed. “I’d have liked to have seen that.”
“Yeah, me too. Shame he don’t get out too much, cos I’d like to see the damage myself, at least.”
“Well,” said Shuuhei, who was still eyeing the cat with distaste, “I wish Yamamoto had gotten his meal.”
“Shuuhei,” Kira admonished gently.
“It bit me,” Shuuhei said defensively gesturing, unnecessarily, in the cat’s direction.
“We all have boundaries,” Kira said quietly.
Byakuya didn’t know what all the fuss was about, he had only given the present to his Lieutenant to apologise for the spillage earlier, and so was not best pleased when the gift was unceremoniously flung aside. But the slight would be forgiven seeing as Renji had defended him from the scarred man that he recognised as the Lieutenant of the Ninth Division. He had only been a cat for a few hours but already this form was beginning to hold sway over his actions, its natural instincts slowly beginning to influence his personality.
“Is it wild?” Kira asked.
“I think so,” Renji said idly, as he attended to his noodles once more.
“So, are you going to name it?”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. But it’s not my cat.”
“But it seems to like you.”
Kira nodded. “I think the bird was for you.”
“What?” Renji spluttered as he choked on his half chewed noodles.
“I read about it somewhere,” Kira said quickly. “It’s what cats do to show they like someone, kind of like a peace offering.”
“Awww,” Renji said and on impulse he patted the cat’s head.
“Whoa, watch out!” Shuuhei warned.
Byakuya tensed under the contact a moment before he leaned into the warm hand. It felt good to be touched by him. He could not. He should not be allowing this, but in this guise was it really so bad to feel those warm calloused hands? Was it?
“See, I told you.” Kira said happily.
The cat spent the rest of the afternoon trying to tear new holes into Renji’s socks as long legs moved to and fro, a wooden chair dangerously tilting as Renji rocked back and forth to entertain his new friend. Byakuya indulged the instinct to play with the reasoning that if he expelled these new impulses in one session he would be clear headed later, and could somehow communicate his identity.
Straw like strands stuck out at odd angles, and hair poked out of claw torn holes. Satisfied, he stopped to admire his handiwork but all too soon fatigue began to set in, in synchronisation with evening, and Byakuya instinctively curled up to sleep. But the scratchy tatami did not make the best bedding and tired eyes began to stray to Renji’s lap, and the thick cosy folds of his uniform.
Renji yawned as he moved onto his Captain’s paperwork; a small pile of unspoiled documentation that promised a quick finish. The warm weight that suddenly settled upon his knees was a welcome distraction as he looked down upon his new friend? Pet? He gently stroked its ears and received a purr in return.
Byakuya was unsure how he expected Renji to respond to his boldness. The hand that stroked his ears felt amazing and without thinking he verbally thanked him, but in place of speaking a vibration began low in his chest and rose to a crescendo. Renji, pleased by the sounds his new friend was making, continued stroking, and ignored the occasional stab of pain as a rogue claw breached his defences. Byakuya felt the need to claw Renji’s thighs in a non aggressive fashion to encourage further petting, and so his paws began to knead the stiff material beneath him.
He was rudely interrupted from his catnap a half hour later, as duties fulfilled Renji rose from his seat and Byakuya, forgotten, slipped from his lap, and landed in a stunned heap. His Lieutenant looked down on him, and Byakuya disliked that reality so he jumped onto the desk to shorten the distance between them.
“I guess that means you’re coming home with me, huh?” Byakuya thought he caught something akin to loneliness underlying those words, and he quickly nodded his assent. Renji didn’t take the gesture as it was meant, and Byakuya wished his Lieutenant would ask more pertinent questions so that he could prove his sentience.
Strong hands lifted him from the desk and into his Lieutenant’s arms. The feeling of being held was uncomfortably intimate and he squirmed a little as Renji adjusted the grip upon his lithe body.
“So, you’re a he, huh?” He stopped trying to worm free when he registered what was being spoken. Renji must have felt that tell tale part of him in the struggle to be released. Good. It was just one more unveiling of his true self. Progress.
The rush of wind accompanied them as Renji shunpoed home, one arm holding the cat, whilst the other was held forward to buffer his new friend against the worst of the winds.
It felt nice to be held so protectively but Byakuya fought against the pleasant feeling.
The scenery soon changed and Byakuya’s curiosity peaked as they arrived at a dilapidated section of Soul Society, in one of the less well kept areas, a district common to those who served in the Eleventh Division.
“Home sweet home,” Renji sing-songed as he opened and closed the door using only his right leg. No locks? There was carefree and then there was stupid.
Renji lowered the cat to the floor and moved along the hallway, still singing some half remembered real world tune. Byakuya stood a moment to sniff his surroundings and was pleasantly surprised at the clean air that greeted heightened senses. So this was going to be his home, until Yoruichi saw fit to remove the incantation? He would have to go exploring. He followed his Lieutenant with his tail held high, curiosity rising within him with all the naturalness of his forced form. Home sweet home indeed. Just how did his subordinate live? The next few hours, or days if Yoruichi did not see it in her heart to forgive him so soon, should prove interesting.