A/N: My thanks to everyone who has commented and supported this crack. As always, if there is need for improvement or error let me know.
Forget to mention that I took liberties with the timeline and any suggestion as to where to take this next or any specific adventures, please tell me.
He wasn’t sure what to expect. Truth was whenever he pictured Renji outside of work; he was always undressed and always lying upon some nondescript surface, the grimy brickwork of the Rukongai being his favourite setting.
Byakuya guessed that if he had really put his mind to it, he would have expected to see Rukia’s belongings and a small scale invasion of all things cute and fluffy. Like his own, beleaguered mansion and the two wings closed off to accommodate her unhealthy collection of bunnies.
Instead he found a clean and distinctly masculine area; an admirably functional space, with plain desk, seating and futon. The windows were opened wide to invite clean air, and two more doors branched off from the main living area. A pile of assorted weights in the corner, and a press bench were the only other articles in the room. The guy liked to work out, even outside of standard shinigami training, though one only had to observe him sparring in the dojo to appreciate how much the man enjoyed the simple flexing and toning of his muscles. Byakuya had obviously spent too much time admiring that body. He had also spent too much of that time denying his actions. Sad, really.
With a shake of his head to somehow dispel such corrupt thinking Byakuya ambled further into the room, swallowing down the disappointment that the Spartan interior would make adventure hard to come by.
The only other area of interest was a smattering of photographs, courtesy of real world adaptation by the Twelfth Division to enable the lenses to work in this spirit particle charged world, carelessly pinned beside the single bed lying flush to the wall. It was hard to focus on the small details with his new eyes, but Byakuya thought he recognised the events taking place in the biggest picture; graduation from the academy, Renji’s arms wrapped around his sister, and Lieutenant Kira Izuru, whose gaze was turned towards Lieutenant Hinamori Momo.
However, it was the photo closest to his eye level that got his attention.
Oh dear. Was that? Wait. What? The picture was slightly blurred, but there was no mistaking the man who was kissing his Lieutenant, as the taller man wrapped his arms around the smaller figure. That man was him! The kenseikan brooked no argument.
Byakuya liked to think himself, in his pride and refinement, above anything as crude as swearing, but even he couldn’t resist the inward protestation of shit, shit, shit at what his eyes were processing. Could cats gulp? He definitely just gulped; the aftertaste of dead bird and his own fur rose up from his tongue as he continued the involuntary action. Why he’d felt the need to lick himself, was not up for deliberation just now. The person who took the photo was top priority, right at this minute.
New Years Day. 1992. Memory of that day was extremely patchy. He had started the night at his own home. Alone. This was as far as coherency reached. Who accompanied him out, or whether he journeyed out to party alone was beyond recall. All that followed after this dull recollection was colours, and a steady repetition of thumps and the nausea it created. Someone informed him it was bass. A concept he still struggled with to this day. Just sounded like noise however hard he listened. There was no further recall after being informed of this new form of ‘music.’
He had come to, bathed in afternoon sunlight and uncomfortably hot with limbs akimbo on a low couch that smelt of vomit. The strange sound of trumpets that had heralded his return to waking turned out to be the very loud snoring of Hitsugaya’s Lieutenant, who was spread out on the tatami, mouth wide open. The struggle to breathe was not unexpected given the pressure her lungs must face under the external weight of her bosom. A chest that he had spent a few seconds appreciating, before he realised what he was doing and hastily retreated. How he had ended up in the Tenth Division office was a mystery, but it really could have been so much worse given his alcohol induced amnesia, so he hadn’t questioned it further.
He had, however, been very careful to analyse Captain Hitsugaya’s behaviour towards him at the next Captain’s Meeting, but nothing appeared amiss and in the continued days of revelry, so many good and respectable Shinigami were discovered in disreputable and incriminating places that he considered himself lucky and below radar.
He had even dismissed the familiar and tell tale tingle on his tongue as nothing more than the latent buzz of spirits. That had obviously been a mistake.
Two thoughts now crossed his mind in quick succession. This could seriously ruin his reputation and how might he obtain a copy on the quiet?
The last thought was dismissed as delayed delirium. The picture was neither hot nor arousing. It was embarrassing.
Renji watched his new friend stare at the wall of photographs with a little disquiet. Was that normal? Did the cat see something he didn’t? Insects? They had become a problem recently, but he just couldn’t bring himself to terminate life, even life as seemingly inconsequential as that of ants and cockroaches – the usual trespassers. He guessed it had something to do with his own struggle for existence, and other poetic nonsense of that nature, stuff he’d never be caught saying aloud. He had a rep to keep, after all.
Movement in his periphery informed Byakuya of his sudden focus on these photos, and of Renji’s presence, forgotten a moment. He was immediately torn given the subject matter. This was, after all, a picture of them tonguing it, and in normal circumstances he would feign ignorance of the discovery to save them both embarrassment. But these were not normal conditions. He was a cat, and wished to communicate otherwise.
Renji gawped as the cat began to paw his most precious memento. What was, in essence, his favourite jacking off stimuli. He had made copies, he’d have been insane not to. But this was the original in all its crisp glory, and it was very very dear to him. A hand swooped down to halt possible injury to something so precious.
A memory, as close to the actual event in time, given its immediacy and seizure of all Byakuya’s senses replayed.
Iron. Acerbic and cloying in his nostrils. The stick of a kimono on his back. The sweat that coated his face and body. The tension in tired thighs as he strained to remain upright. The shame. Whack. Thwack. Whack. Jaw locked and eyes resolutely open. It hurt.
However the piteous cries beside him hurt more, as the servant boy, a lad no older than he was whipped too. Whack. Thwack. Whack. An even tempo. A practiced rhythm that told of experience.
Was it just guilt? Or was the boy, Kenichi, receiving harsher blows?
As suddenly as it began it ended. Dazed eyes looked at the re-emerging interior of the room. That had not been pleasant. He had been picked up in that strange area, at the base of his neck, again. Why did it have this effect? Was this what all cats experienced? It seemed terribly cruel, but then what childhood misdemeanours did felines have to call upon? He felt sick. He needed to lie down.
Renji ran a protective hand over the glossy surface, looking for any scratches. Satisfied that the picture remained unblemished he rose and observed the cat, which was now relaxing where he had dropped him. That made one of them, at least.
In his efforts to rescue the picture Renji had already forgotten the significance of the disappearance of his Captain, coinciding with the arrival of the cat, and the pawing of the photo – all of which indicated mystery, and an off-kilter reality.
Byakuya too, in his revival of nightmare, was in no mood to attempt to communicate his identity, and only wished for the sickness to pass. He closed his eyes to stop the room from spinning and waited the nausea out, taking little note of his Lieutenant moving into another room, accompanied seconds later by the harsh landing of water onto tile.
However the tip-tap of water combined with heavy footfalls, magnified by superior hearing, soon drew his attention, and eyes opened to fantasy made reality. Renji in the nude, at somewhat of a distance so that he could take in his complete beauty without the need to run his gaze down from the tip of his toes and up to the top of his head; though he did so anyway, paying particular attention to the midriff.
Only one thing spoiled the image. The perception of colour. As he had discovered earlier, Renji’s rich red hair, now spilling down his chest and back in a wet and silky wave, was a muted grey. Damn. Of all the colours, why did it have to be red?
Not for the first time, he wished that Renji would wear his hair down more often. But that was hardly an appropriate command to issue, and would have been far too revealing of his attraction. Still, in more playful moments, and these were few and far between, he had considered possible excuses for such a suggestion. An overlooked regulation per chance? Although, in reality, there were no actual practical reasons he could think of, the reverse was true if anything.
“It makes you look even sexier.” Would not have gone down well, or would it? The photo said different. An occasion he had been too inebriated to remember and a kiss that had obviously meant something. One only had to consider Renji’s reaction just now. Did this mean? It was painful to consider. Anything that relied on hope, and its attendant pleasures, even to the smallest degree, was naturally repellent to a man who had locked his heart down tight.
The body before him glistened with water, and Byakuya’s heart began racing, as he attributed the glisten to a by product of energetic lovemaking. He needed to stop looking. He needed to stop imagining. Right this instance. It was indecent, perverse to look without the man’s knowledge. Reluctantly and with great effort he forced his gaze downwards, and closed his eyes too, as an added precaution against temptation.
Oblivious to his Captain’s discomfort, Renji paced around the room searching for something that wasn’t there. He knew they weren’t here anymore, because if they had of been here they would have remained in the bathroom, but it didn’t stop him looking, just to be sure.
Byakuya opened his eyes at the exclamation, and wished he hadn’t because Renji had his arms stretched behind his neck at that moment and it only made those muscles ripple more than they did already. Broad and firm thighs glimmered, but it was his member hanging thick and long between them, the hair there a darker shade of grey that should be maroon, that grabbed his attention. The jagged stripes of darkness that started at his scalp and continued down his long body invited repeated visual journeying, and Byakuya was loathe to halt roaming that body with his eyes. Must. Stop. Looking. Byakuya prided himself on his cool self control, but he was just a man; a deprived man at that, and a naked Renji was proving to be too much to handle. It was time to retreat.
Shuuhei liked practical joking, but to steal those particular towels just wasn’t funny. Neither was seeing his new companion scurrying out the open doorway. Had his anger frightened the poor creature?
The outside air welcomed his new senses with an offer at further adventure that was aided by a visible improvement of his vision. A change that seemed to coincide with the oncoming night. But before he had time to leave his Lieutenant’s company Byakuya was wrenched from the ground, thanking all the Gods that his neck wasn’t gripped from behind as he was held close to a wet chest by muscled arms. Perhaps further adventure was better sought indoors after all.
“Sorry. Sorry.” Renji cooed, cradling his new friend in thick arms. Byakuya registered regret and genuine concern for his welfare. Did he think that he was leaving for good? Never!
Renji didn’t let go, and Byakuya didn’t struggle, even going as far as to ignore the unpleasant moisture that was steadily eating into his fur in favour of the strong thrum of Renji’s heart as he was pressed close. Happy. Happy to be right here. Right now, and nowhere else. It was harder, in this form, to delude himself with complex lies and the usual reasoning. His feelings were now quick, straightforward and honest. He wanted to be here. The low purr, unstoppable in its insistency, confirmed his contentment. As did his acceptance of the embrace, as he relaxed further. It didn’t matter that this was immoral, an invasion of his Lieutenant’s privacy and a sad case of his own voyeurism (brought to the fore in the most brutal way), what mattered was that he was happy in those arms, and content to be held so lovingly.
“Maybe I can use you as a towel,” Renji playfully remarked as the heat of that small body quickly dried his torso, though it left white hair in places – as if in reminder of the favour.
Byakuya purred louder in response, cheered by the redhead’s easy humour.
“I really need to dry off,” was all the warning given as he was dropped onto the futon, before the thin coverlet was violently ripped from under him. With the grace inherent in all felines he remained standing, appearing unruffled as he observed Renji wrap the sheet low around slim hips before casually scratching at his crotch.
The now bare futon revealed a few bundles of off white that smelled of sweat, dust, and dirt; an immediate lure to assumed predatory instincts. Byakuya approached them with a twitching nose, his back end rising into the air and swaying to and fro in preparation of a pounce. But a flash of tan sent the socks rolling out of his sight. Unfazed Byakuya did not drop his stance, reasoning that this was only a minor setback to victory that simply required a shift in angle. Satisfied that his prey was within scope again, no time was wasted bounding up into the air. Ink stained paws descending upon the material, and his jaws following soon after as he took a playful bite before tossing the target away to prolong the hunt further.
All too quickly, Byakuya lost interest in the inanimate objects in favour of a more challenging conquest. Renji’s erratic steps proved a more tempting target. His reactions were also far more rewarding as each successful landing, paws tapping at feet, prompted laughter.
Renji obliged his new friend with quick steps and feints, guffaws growing in intensity as time lengthened.
“Hmmm. Maybe I should name you now. But it seems wrong to do it. You’re your own person, right?” Byakuya stopped pawing at large feet to nod his assent but Renji was too busy staring into the middle distance to notice. “But I can’t keep calling you cat, can I?” Acquiescence missed as Renji’s eyes briefly closed, before addressing the cat once more. “You’re kinda uppity, even by cat standards and your pretty eyes remind me of a certain someone...”
Uppity? Point taken. Pretty? Intrigued, Byakuya closely examined the man’s face for any changes. A hole appeared under that strong nose, stretching outwards to the furthest corners of his jaw. Renji was smiling!
“Bya-kun,” he loudly pronounced, with the promise of further laughter in his tone.
Byakuya eyes marginally widened, dilated pupils immediately brightening his surroundings.
The hole in that face persisted, and Byakuya’s tail began to half-heartedly swish in annoyance. He was not best pleased with the casual and intimate suffix placed by his name. However, he did find it endearing, despite himself. Only Renji could get away with such daring.
Renji noted the movement of the cat’s tail with full out laughter. The sound was deep and rich, and curiously spirit warming.
“Well it’s either that or stick up his ass.”
The ease with which those words flowed from his tongue, told Byakuya the nickname was not new. Is that the impression he gave his Lieutenant? Had he been calling him names behind his back? And why did it bother him a little?
White ears flattened and grey eyes looked down at the tatami flooring.
“Bya-kun, it is then.” The laughter had died and his tone had turned thoughtful.
A familiar foot nudged his behind as he was led out the door by the insistence of rough toes until he stood in the hallway, fur bristling a little bit. Byakuya didn’t know how to feel about this. He was still feeling a little despondent, though he really shouldn’t have been surprised given his public behaviour and less than friendly disposition. There were nicer, more polite and less hostile ways in which to communicate, but why sugar coat what came natural and was easiest? This revelation needed to be looked at differently. After all, nicknames were usually a friendly attribution to a person, suggesting familiarity, and there had been nothing malicious or hateful in Renji’s tone.
“Sorry,” Renji said softly, who bizarrely felt the need to explain himself, “it’s kinda private. Be done in a few minutes. Then we can get some sleep, huh?”
The confusion soon lifted as the heavy sounds of breathing and the smallest, most chaste syllables of ‘By-a-koo-ya’ disconnected by the slide of skin on skin reached pointed ears, uncomfortably magnified by superior hearing. Byakuya was forced to concede that at the least the attraction was returned; even the scratch of cotton as it was twisted in one hand could be discerned. The lonely sounds of Renji’s masturbation, so alike to his own solitary nights of self service could not be ignored. Even if, in his knowledge of never being completely out of earshot, he had refrained from using that name – even refusing a cautious whisper, there could be no denial that Renji was usually the object of his desire. How best to proceed now that he was no longer able to safely assume Renji’s disinterest? In this form there wasn’t much to do but observe, with the danger of deepening his attraction because Renji was proving to be the loveable rogue that he was painted, by the usual channels of information in Soul Society.
He was close to completion. The time between gasps and the speed up of movement was shortening, the accompanying rustle of condensed cotton informing Byakuya of this reality. Noble intentions were being battered as he fought the sudden urge to peek around the door. The sight of Renji coming was proving to be irresistible. Must. Fight. It. The inner animal must be resisted. Am. Stronger. Than. This.
When the sounds of breathing abruptly stopped, accompanied by the salty smell of ejaculate, Byakuya knew he had missed an opportunity. He tried not to feel bad about this, consoling himself with the fact that he had acted righteously and with the proper decorum, but a sense of disappointment settled in his mind anyway, refusing to be displaced by further argument.
Surmising that it was still unsafe to enter, he remained in place, hearing sensitive to minute changes in Renji’s condition, as his breathing slowed. When the creak of floorboards marked his move into another room, Byakuya re-entered.
The smell of sex, even as one-sided as it had been, greeted keen senses, heavy and cloying, but the fresh and swift moving breeze was soon working to purify the air. Daily ritual perhaps? Byakuya smiled, or tried to. He was no stranger to self pleasuring but he kept it to a minimum and abstained as much as he was able, but then Renji was uninhibited in so many things.
Renji doused himself under the hot water once more, allowing the sweat of his secret shame to sluice off of the planes of his body without the aid of his hands, which idly hung by his sides. He didn’t feel like he could take an active role in his cleansing, it was his fingers and palms that had brought him such pleasure... so to use them now felt wrong, somehow. Disgusting. It was not the act itself, or his sexuality that caused him to feel so wretched, rather it was the object of lust. If his Captain were ever to discover his feelings, he had no doubt that cherry blossom would scarify him to back to what he once was – nothing. And nothing was what he felt like, sometimes.
Moving from the cubicle, Renji took careful steps to avoid a fall into his own wetness as he soaked the flooring a second time. Wow. Good going there. Two showers in so many minutes. He’d really planned ahead. Crap and still no towels to be had. You’d think he’d remember that, but no.
“Damnit Shuuhei! They wan’ just towels.”
From the other room Byakuya took notice. Shuuhei? Wan’ just towels? Weren’t, he mentally corrected. The man’s grammar was really appalling at the best of times, but he found it sexy nonetheless in its free and undisciplined expression, even if he were so uptight as to automatically correct any errors.
Seconds elapsed before a leap in understanding was made. Renji was naked, again, with no towel to cover his immodesty. And earlier, he had used a sheet to dry off his body, which meant... why was this so hard? He yawned. Fatigue was making this difficult. The variables of a cat were ridiculously simple. Bounding with energy or tired to the point of comatose. Still, he nearly had this. Yawned once more. Shuuhei. Towels. Missing. Yawn. Weren’t just...? A towel was a towel, wasn’t it? Why were they important? Unless...
Renji’s towels have been taken for an unknown reason, and they were... they are important because... Byakuya scoured his memory, finding concentration difficult but persevering with his usual tenacity. He had it, or at least he thought he did, but surely they didn’t mean anything? Were these missing towels the same ones he had given his adjutant for his birthday, along with the back scrub and shower gels? They were a perfectly acceptable and innocuous gift, chosen for their impersonal quality, but despite this they had obviously meant something to the receiver. Just as the photo meant something to the man in the next room. A twinge in his chest. Heartburn? Earlier chewing on those feet hadn’t seemed the wisest choice but he’d proceeded anyway; the crunch of bone under his jaws had proved to be really pleasing. No, something less palatable. Something closer to guilt, for something that had meant nothing to him, but had meant a great deal to his Lieutenant. Had he been so blind? How many birthdays back was that? Five years? Seven? The desire to be close to Renji intensified.
Renji started when something fluffy snaked around his leg, just under his knee. Looking down at Bya-kun, who was clearly exhibiting affection, did much to lighten his mood.
Byakuya had resolved to sleep apart from Renji, fully aware of the precipice he skirted. Initial lust, the man was unapologetically gorgeous, married with respect in their partnership as Captain and Lieutenant, was dangerously close to evolving into something more, under these enlightening conditions.
Renji gestured for his new companion to join him on the futon, his last sheet (the other lying drenched in a corner) held up to invite the small body to enter.
The noble wanted to, badly. Especially the ‘enter’ part, but this was no fantasy. He was a cat. Renji wanted a pet to join him in bed. He did not want Byakuya. He did not want him. Lies! Believe the lies. Caution. Forget the photo and the towels. Forget that you feel anything.
Stubbornly, his tail flicking in annoyance, Byakuya remained seated.
“Stupid cat.” Renji grouched before pulling the covers up to his neck, heavy lids closing.
The open windows proved his undoing. The night time air creating spiteful draughts. A little discomfort could surely be tolerated. The cat in him said different, and nigh on demanded he seek comfort. Minutes. Minutes were the token resistance he offered up to whoever was judging. Minutes before he was nudging at Renji’s cheek to communicate his intention. He wanted to escape this coldness, so synonymous with loneliness.
A few corridors away a black cat scouted the area. Yoruichi’s heart beat unnaturally loud in her ears as she searched for the kenseikan with increasing panic. She trusted Byakuya-bo’s discretion and fully expected his thanks when all was said and done. He was, to give her credit, right this minute in the company of the one person who could offer him a chance of second happiness. But if his ornament were found, the ensuing panic would put her in real trouble. She could just turn him back, but ... where was the fun in that?