Chapter 1 – Where It All Started

"Look Renji, I appreciate what you're trying to do. Really! But can you just drop it for now?" A smooth hand dragged across five o'clock shadow in an attempt to convey fatigue.

It didn't work.

"No can do! You, my irritating and stubborn friend, need to get laid! I'm tellin ya! It's the best way to relax. It'll help you relieve all that stress from exams and feels damn good too."

A snort, some sarcasm, "Really? So tell me, how is chasing a person, hoping they are at least remotely interested, only to start a dance of 'Oh how long until I should call?' and 'Should I make a move now? Now?' and let's not forget 'What if they have, you know, diseases?' No Renji, I feel like all that would just stress me out even more! No thanks!" A triumphant smile and challenging eyebrow raised, waiting.

Renji sighed and slumped forward on the table, hands traveling from an exasperated face through to blood red hair, mulling over his next plan of attack.

"Kurosaki?"

"Great, hold that thought Mr. Guru." The chair screeched while sliding back a bit and letting its occupant gather their ordered drinks.

Handing one over to his frustrated friend, Ichigo Kurosaki reseated himself and waited smugly – patiently – for another bout of wisdom. He let his eyes trail around their favourite coffee shop, Café Reishi, taking in the odd nick-knacks, black-and-white photos and even the employees. Tatsuki wasn't in today (she was the whole reason anyone even knew about this place) but Chizuru was and not even bothering to hide her lecherous leers at a gaggle of girls by the windows.

Soft blue caught his peripheral before he turned to a new face he hadn't seen yet. The quick scan of the body belonging to the face assured Ichigo that this man wasn't the type to be in their little shop… until a stain-free apron went over his neck.

'Ah, new employee. Odd job choice though.'

Mystery solved, two brown eyes turned back to red hair and pooled with mirth. "Ya think of anything yet, oh wise one? Why can't we just do something fun to relax? What about the beach? Or even a big bowl of munchies on my couch with a movie marathon? Does everything have to be about me getting laid?" The brown eyes swept around the café again, he had spoken a little loudly at the end there.

Caught! Blue haired guy definitely heard and is smirking. 'Damn. That's embarrassing. At least I don't know the guy, still, if he's gonna be working here… ah whatever! Why should I care?' Case closed.

"Because, oh simple one, the beach isn't all that exciting unless you have a group for beachball, or some hot babes running around… unfortunately they're all studying now too. Also, your house? Really? That's where you study, as soon as you walk in you'll want to shut off the TV and make excuses to crack open a textbook. Absolutely not! Sex IS the only answer damn it! Now what's your type?"

Coffee nearly spit out at the last question, Ichigo took a moment to recover and studiously cleaned away his slight mess. "Renji seriously! Keep your voice down! People are staring at us!" Furious hissing from Ichigo's end of the table was drowned out by a hearty chuckle from the barista's bar.

Renji nodded toward the new employee with a smile before turning back to his oh-so-deliciously embarrassed friend. "So what? Let them stare. You kinda are trying to pick up right?" Ignoring more hisses that sounded a lot like 'no!' the redhead continued, "Why don't I set you up with a couple a dates? I'll be doing all the work so you don't even have to worry! Yeah! The most thinking you'll do is about your outfit and I'll be picking that out, you square. So really, all you gotta do is show up." Now it was groans but at least the hissing stopped.

Renji grinned at his slowly caving friend. He knew his friend had very little experience with the opposite sex (hell he doesn't even remember the guy's last girlfriend!) but he was more than happy to help a brother out. Play some matchmaker and help his buddy get back on the playing field, Kurosaki needed this way more than any of their friends. He had some of the toughest classes out of the lot of 'em and could really do with some lovin'.

"Alright Mr. Doctor-in-Training, before I leave ya to your crazy-thick textbooks I still need to know your type."

Ichigo's eyes darted around, looking everywhere but at his friend across from him, "Isn't it Monday today?" look at watch. "Damn, I have to go study for my Thursday exams!" notice a raised red eyebrow. "They're back-to-back ya know, twice the work to do til then!" the red eyebrow doesn't budge, but the eyes and teeth under it twinkle and widen. "Renji come on, let it drop man!" Pleading also doesn't work. 'Ah damn it all'

"So… I'm guessing you're embarrassed. No prob! A lot of guys have weird fetishes and stu-oof! OUCH WHY'D YOU DO THAT, ASSHOLE?!"

"Would you just shut the hell up?! It's not like that! God Renji! Everyone is staring at us, not just a few, everyone!" People were definitely snickering at them now, Renji doesn't even remotely have an indoor voice… 'Damn, this can only end badly…'

Unfortunately, things had only just started for the poor workaholic...

Renji finishes his coffee and slams it down dramatically, a crazy look on his face that Ichigo could spot a mile away, " WELL ICHIGO! I HAD NO IDEA YOU WERE SO INTERESTED IN BIG BOUNCY TITTIES AND PIERCINGS DOWNSTAIRS! OH MY GAWD! AND YOU SAY FEET ARE PARTICULARIL- mmmffahh mmmp mff!" Ichigo finally snapped out of his 'you wouldn't dare' daze and smacked his hand across Renji's mouth. His whole body felt like it was on fire, someone could come kill him now. That'd be great.

"Fuckin' hell Renji!" He muttered furiously, trying to forget about the snickers and outright laughing going on around him – just great – and the obscene gestures his 'friend' was now making with his hands, waggling his eyebrows. "Ugh." He sat back down and pulled his hood up, waiting for someone to take pity on him and open a trapdoor under his chair.

It didn't happen.

His red-haired Guru laughed some more at him before pushing his hood back, "Leave it down, your hair attracts the eye." More friggen eyebrow wiggles. "Okay so I'll tone down a bit but if I'm gonna be your matchmaker then I'll need to know what you're into…? How abouts that girl Orihime? She seems a little… distracted… but she's definitely uhh cute" Renji winks and makes mounds in his shirt with both his hands, relaying what he really meant by 'cute'.

Ichigo rolls his eyes and shakes his head, finally realizing he had to give his friend something or else he wouldn't be able to go home and study, "I don't know man, I don't think I care about that kind of stuff so much…"

And that tiniest tidbit of information was enough to light up both of Renji's eyes, apparently he wasn't expecting his 'student' to cooperate with his 'teachings'. "Hmmm! Okay! Now we're getting somewhere! Okay then, not SUPER cute, how 'bout just a little bit cute?" A finger and thumb came up in a measurement that wasn't very flattering to anyone.

"Ugh Renji, is it all about the … boobs?" He muttered quietly. 'Damn, this guy is gonna be the end of me. I'm so exhausted with this.'

"SO! You're an ass-man!" Renji all but shouted.

A loud snort from somewhere in the audience.

"Argh! Shut UP! What happened to not yelling?!" Was that a growl? He was definitely growling.

"Okay, okay, okay. I'm sorry Ichi… Alright then." Now at a stage whisper, "So you're an ass man! That's great! Brothers!" A large fist hovered in front of Ichigo, demanding a bump.

The offending fist would probably have shrivelled up dead from the glare it got. It lowered.

"Jeez man, cool off. I'm tryin ta help." Reclining back in the seat and crossing his ankles, "Okay, so you don't like boobs, haven't officially answered about the ass thing but one can only assume. You nearly burned me to a crisp for being loud so no obnoxious girls… hmm what else? What. Ellllse?"

Steeling himself, the less-enthusiastic friend chanced a glance around the room. The girls, who got distracted from the boys' pleasant conversation, were now fending off an incredibly bold Chizuru, an old man was reading his paper with quite the smirk on his face and one could only assume the little old lady with him was his wife – she was glaring daggers at the boys. Ichigo cringed and looked away, only to find himself eyeing the newbie again.

The guy was either really well built or the café had suddenly shrunk overnight (yes Ichigo was there last night too, this place was like his second home). His apron was tied with the smallest of knots and hung a little too high off his thick shoulders. The shirt underneath was really tight as well. Either Urahara (the owner) was being especially pervy with the fresh meat or genuinely had no bigger sized shirts left. Ichigo doubted the latter very much, Urahara was the most prepared person he ever knew and also extremely perverted for a happily married man. Figures that he'd make the poor soul wear such a tiny shirt, even if it hugged him in all the right places… 'Holy hell! I could get used to seeing him around here!'

He shook his head and was about to continue his more in-depth scan of the newbie (so new he didn't yet have a name-tag) when he was rudely kicked in the shin. He hissed and shot a look at his friend only to tense at realizing his mistake.

Renji caught him looking at a dude. Renji. Of all people! The guy walked, talked and breathed women! 'Well shit.'

"So um, when's your next exam?" Someone outside could have been blown over by the very wind coming off that subject change.

"Dude, did you just check out that guy?" So now he can whisper.

"I noticed he was new and didn't recognize him, what's wrong?" 'Play it cool. Play it cool.'

"Well yeah, but you were staring staring man. That was just… weird."

Ichigo just looked at his friend, face blank, mind blank. No idea where to go from there. 'Should I laugh it off? No it's too late now. Ah screw it. I'm gonna drop it and see what happens.'

Taking a sip of coffee and watching people outside for a minute, Ichigo cringed when Renji finally gasped. It was loud and obvious but he knew his friend didn't mean it sarcastically. 'Unfortunately...'

Leaning back, oblivious to the world but who sat across from him, Renji's gears clicked together and then ground to a halt, "Whaa-! You? Seriously?! No. Not possible! But … I thought…" Ichigo was waiting for the pointed finger, the accusation and finally the disgust, 'Here it comes,' "Why didn't you tell me you were gay?! You little shit! It's true! It all makes sense now! Jesus man, no wonder I couldn't remember who the last chick ya dated was… wait have ya even dated a dude? I don't remember that either actually... damn! And I was lining up girls in my head, now I gotta switch to the other side of the tracks! Hmmm, that'll be trickier…"

'…The hell? Did I miss something?' tensed muscles expecting the worst tentatively relaxed and deflated. Relief flooded Ichigo's face before he remembered… 'Renji was shouting again…'

"GOD DAMN IT, RENJI! STOP SHOUTING, YOU JERK-OFF!" rage caused him to ball his fists, mortification caused him to pull up his hood a second time today and defeat caused him to drop his forehead to the table. His friend was absolutely retarded when it came to being discreet. He could just feel two holes burning into the back of his head from the old lady's offended eyes.

Giggles from the girls, snickering from the Red-Headed Asshole and muffled guffaws from behind the counter area. Ichigo turned his head but saw no one currently at the counter 'So he had to leave the room to laugh at my shame, he's a jerk too!'

"Hey man, lighten up!" A shoulder pat. "What'd you think I'd do? Bust a nut?" A snort. "So what? Woohoo, you're gay! Thinking about it now actually it was kinda obvious, I just never ... ya know." A sheepish chuckle. "Whatever man, it don't bother me none."

A head lifted off the table and eyes met. "Thanks Renji. I was actually a little worried to be honest. You're just so… well… into chicks that I couldn't … ya know..." 'Ugh, now I sound like him!'

"Heh, don't worry 'bout it. S'long as you don't call me up to paint your nails or talk shoes then I couldn't care less."

"Asswipe."

"Hmm, love ya too. Okay but seriously now. Can ya please just tell me what your type is? Besides male?"

"God Renj, you're still on that? Give it a rest!"

"Ya still need to get laaaid" one finger raised and waggled before his friend, "and I have made it my honourable duty to make sure you get freaky with somebody by the end of the school year!" A wink.

The thought suddenly became very real to Ichigo, 'But the school year ends next Friday... Jesus, he's serious! That's too soon!' Cue nervous, angry, almost painful butterflies.

"Ugh just let it be alright? I'll figure it out when the time comes. Chasing someone around right now would be more stress to the pile." 'Solid excuse, he'll back off now.'

"But what if you weren't doing the chasing? Hmm? What if some guy were chasing you? That's not that stressful right?"

Pause. 'Actually, that does sound kinda nice…'

"Just let him catch ya and do… well… whatever ya gay dudes do… Er-What do ya do again?"

"Oh HELL no! I am NOT going there with you! I need to study and this is turning to nonsense now."

"But I want to know! I mean, what do ya do with two di-"

"CUT IT OUT!" Ichigo roared, he seriously was done being angry and embarrassed and just wanted to go home. "I need to go. I gotta do other things. I'll relax at home and watch some TV or something."

A snort. "No ya won't. You're going home to study 'cause it's boring and lame like you! Seriously Ichi, how are you supposed to pick up when you're hidden away? Or release tension buried in a book? Get out, go somewhere! I mean it!" He called to his friend as 'Ichi' got to the doors, "Ya hear me?!" But he was gone.

As Ichigo quickly walked away, hood up and muttering to himself about loud-mouthed baboons, Renji whipped out his cellphone and started making some calls.