I did it! I finally finished this story/pant pant/ It took over a month - partly because work was kicking my ass, but mostly because it just demanded so much more detail and depth than I'd originally planned. Who am I to argue with the muse?

Title: Nexus
Author: Akuni
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rating: M for 'Much Smut'
Pairing: Renji/Ichigo
Spoilers: read through Soul Society & Arrancar Arcs
Word Count(total): 20,500 (omfg!)
Word Count(chapter): 1500

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, I'm just borrowing it for a while.
Distribution: Also posted to my LJ & comms. Please ask if you want to share it :)

Dedication: To all fellow Renji/Ichigo fangirls/guys out there. We know it's impossible, we know it's silly, and we know it's damned hot!

A/N: My Bleach OTP is RenRuki, but I'm hooked on fandom Renji/Ichigo (ya ya I say this for each story, so what! ) After much blushing and chickening out (and wine), I managed to write the smut. Go me! Why is it so much harder to write than to read? Although come to think of it, the first time I read RenjixIchigo smut I did so peering between my fingers as I covered my eyes, and I'm pretty sure all the blood in my body was in my face - that might explain the swooning.


Chapter 8 - Reassurance

Another shower was definitely in order before they headed to the Kurosaki family residence to do some laundry and enjoy Yuzu's promised dinner.

Renji looked surprised when Ichigo followed him into the bathroom. "Eh?"

"No time for two showers… we'll just have to share." Ichigo grinned at him. Renji eyed the tiny shower cubicle, and a wicked smirk grew widely on his face.

They did manage to tidy up and get dressed in a decent amount of time, but they intended to explore the full potential of the little shower more thoroughly later on.

On the way to Ichigo's family home they appeared much as any other pair of friends out for a walk. Neither of them really went in for public displays of physical affection, and out of those people in town who had the ability to sense spirit power, only a select few of those would even be able to notice the minute tendrils of energy linking them together. They obviously couldn't walk around fully meshed all the time, but they were loathe to give up the intimate contact entirely.

Ichigo paused in front of the door. "You ready for this?"

Renji nodded. "We've faced Hollows, arrancar, Aizen… what's there t' worry abou—"

"ICHIGOOOOOOOOOOO!" The door flew open and Ichigo was tackled by a blur that resembled his father.

"Renji-nii-san!" Yuzu's voice rang as she launched herself excitedly. Renji grinned and caught the girl easily, swinging her up on his shoulders.

"Hey Yu-chan! Whatcha cookin'?"

"Guess!"

"Aww, ya know I ain't good at that, I need a hint." Renji set Yuzu back on her feet next to Karin, whom he greeted with a pat on the head that mussed her hair. She scowled at him, and he made an even fiercer face back before they both burst out laughing – a routine they'd grown fond of over the summer.

"Ahh! Get the hell off me you crazy bastard!" Ichigo finally planted his foot in Isshin's face, launching him into the air. "This is why I moved out!"

"Ichigo, you are so strong, you make your Papa proud!" Isshin crowed.

Ichigo gave up and laughed. "Yeah, 's good to see you, too, Pop." He stepped over his father, who was still sprawled on the ground, to greet Karin.

"Hi Ichi-nii!" Karin gave him a hug, smirking at Yuzu's excitement.

"Afternoon, Kurosaki-san," Renji offered his greeting to Isshin, who had leapt to his feet.

"Welcome home, Abarai-kun! Ah, but we are family now, call me Papa and I will call you my beloved son!" Isshin threw his arm around the startled shinigami. "Relax, Renji! Ichigo, tell your lover not to be so uptight!"

Isshin's sharp senses hadn't missed anything. It was easy to forget that Ichigo's eccentric father was also a powerful shinigami.

Renji opened his mouth a few times but nothing came out. Karin was still smirking, and Yuzu just looked stunned.

"Dammit don't just say things like that all of a sudden!" Ichigo yelled.

"Ah my son, do not be ashamed of your love! Your mother would be so happy!"

"Argh! I ain't ashamed, it's just not somethin' you should be announcin' in the doorway!" Ichigo had already decided that he would never deny it – the warmth that pulsed through their light connection relayed Renji's agreement and approval.

"So… it's true?" Yuzu's voice was curiously shy.

"Well… yeah." Ichigo scratched the back of his head nervously. "Are you ok with that?"

Yuzu looked at Renji, who had finally escaped her father's embrace. "Renji…nii?"

"Yu-chan…"

"Why?"

"Uh… 'cause…"

"Why Ichi-nii?" Yuzu wrinkled her nose. "Eww!"

Karin nodded. 'Yeah, I'm sure you could find a nicer guy if you tried." The sisters giggled together.

Renji laughed and scooped Yuzu up again. "Can't explain it, Yu-chan. Guess I just got weird taste."

"Hey, I'm right here!" Ichigo protested, but he was grinning.

"An' I'm hungry." Renji announced. "Ya wouldn't believe what this guy calls supper. Yu-chan, tell me ya got some taiyaki hidden for me, please."

"Yup!" They headed into the house.

"Hello!"

"Give it up, Ichi-nii. You can't just compete with Yuzu's taiyaki and spending time with Renji-nii." Karin grinned up at him as he pushed her shoulder playfully and steered her inside.


Dinner was a boisterous affair. Their conversations wandered through each other aimlessly, somehow managing to make sense despite running in three different directions at once. Renji fit right into the erratic Kurosaki household, and Ichigo was gratified to see how well the most important people in his life interacted with each other.

Between doing the laundry, enjoying Yuzu's meal, and catching up on news of friends and family, the afternoon and evening had passed quickly. Isshin insisted on embracing them again as they left, to Ichigo's chagrin and Renji's obvious amusement. "Make sure you visit us again the next time you are in town!" he called after them.

When he is in town…? That triggered another memory; Chad's words came back to Ichigo. "…they are only here now. We will still be here when they are gone."

Renji would be going back to Soul Society in a couple of weeks. That was something they hadn't discussed yet.

They were silent on the walk home. Ichigo's apprehension was softened by the calm and surety he felt Renji projecting, but he couldn't help wondering how they were going to handle being apart for… well how were they going to see each other?

Ichigo gathered his thoughts. This is worth having, and I'm going to fight for it, whatever it takes.

As the door to Ichigo's flat closed behind them, Ichigo felt Renji's reiatsu surround him completely, warm and comforting, and he reached out to embrace it with his own. He kicked off his shoes and sat on the edge of his bed.

"Relax," Renji settled beside him, leaning his shoulder against Ichigo's. "Don't start borrowin' trouble we ain't got."

"I'm just wondering how… well…" Ichigo shrugged. "It's gonna be hard to stay in touch. When you go back." He made a face. "What a stupid way to say how bad I'm gonna miss you when you hafta go."

"Well it ain't gonna be fun, but ya know it ain't so hard gettin' over here now. I got responsibilities, yeah, but I got time off like anyone else. I can come back every month or two for a weekend. At least." Renji grinned. "I'd miss ya too much for any less."

"Once a month, huh?" Ichigo mused. That wouldn't be so bad.

"An' you can come t' Soul Society when ya got time. Door's always open for ya, ya know that." Renji sounded very confident that this would be manageable, and Ichigo couldn't help but feel better about the whole thing.

"Besides," Renji continued. "We got a long time t' work out the kinks." Renji nudged his shoulder playfully and winked. "Remember?" Their combined energies pulsed suggestively.

Ichigo grinned back.

Forever was long enough not to worry about the future.


Omake
Ch 8 omake

Yuzu: Yay we got to be in the story, Karin!

Karin: Too bad ol' Goat-face had to be there, too.

Ichigo: . /snicker/

Renji: Hey cmon, he ain't that bad, really.

Ichigo: You just like him 'cause he gives you dirty magazines.

Isshin: Ahh my sons, Papa needs to have a very important talk with you! Look, I have visual aids! . /holds up video and anatomically correct dolls/

Akuni: Noooooo! RUN! Oh god my eyes!

Renji/Ichigo: Ahhhhh! . /runs/

Yuzu/Karin: Daaaaaaad!

/somewhere safely away from Isshin's wackiness/

Akuni: Well that's the end of 'Nexus'. We hope you enjoyed it, and will join us for the sequel!

Renji: Wait, sequel?

Ichigo: Sequel?

Akuni: Uh huh! There are too many things left unresolved.

Ichigo: Like what?

Renji: Yeah, like what? We had all that damn angst, and then finally the awesome sex—

Ichigo: Awesome sex.

Renji: —and then everyone lived happily ever after. What more do ya need?

Akuni: Don't you want to know what the crisis was that called Shuuhei and the others back to Soul Society? And what about poor Kira? And how the two of you are going to make this really long distance relationship work?

Renji: Huh.

Ichigo: Well I guess we could stick around for that, eh Renji?

Renji: Aw, ok. But we have a condition.

Akuni: Condition? What's that?

Renji/Ichigo: More amazing sex, please!

Akuni: … Deal!

END


A/N2: There is additional information about this story posted on my LJ that doesn't fit into the FFNet format. Things like the layout to Ichigo's apartment, the lyrics to the Nexus theme song, official Nexus artwork by my wonderful beta Shelagh, and omg FANART by people who read the story and were inspired by it. It really is worth taking a look, so please go check it out.

link to Nexus main story page: akuni . livejournal . com / 3994 . html
(sorry bout the formatting, it won't take my url)