Title: Not love

Pairing: Ichigo/Renji

Genre: Romance, Angst

Rating: NC-17

Warning: None.

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Kubo Tite, I don't own them nor I'm making any profit with this.

Notes: Damm, they didn't want to behave. I hope they are not too OOC.

Not Love

At the beginning it wasn't love.

They knew what love was about and it wasn't that; it had nothing to do with empty jars of sake, and a tangle of limbs, and sweaty hands, and foul smelling mouths--just limbs and hands and mouths; eyes closed so they didn't need to know who they belonged to.

It was all so unfair. They had both been ready to share her, but only with each other. They knew one day she would decide who was she really in love with, and the other one--not the loser, never a loser--would be happy with just being a friend, and carry on with his life.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. She never treated one of them differently than the other: the oldest and dearest friend, and the saviour. Both were the same in her eyes, and they knew it was a difficult choice, so both of them bid their time and waited--hoping, holding their breath--until she was ready to choose.

But they weren't ready when she finally made her choice.

When Rukia told them her nii-sama, that tight-ass Byakuya, had asked her to marry him and she had accepted; Ichigo and Renji exchanged a look that said everything. Loud and clear.

It was unfair.

They had risked everything to stop Byakuya killing her; and now she gave him her heart. Only, Ichigo was sure she had given it to him long ago, and they had been too blinded by hope to realize it.

It was Renji who suggested to go back to his place and get drunk; and Ichigo, too numb to do anything else, nodded and followed him.

Renji's place, where Ichigo usually stayed on his visits to Soul Society, was a small and untidy thing. Nothing like the Kuchiki residence they had just left, with its big rooms and the huge garden with the fancy koi pond. But it was always well stocked in sake. And that was all that mattered at the moment.

It wasn't a cheerful night, or a big party like the ones they usually had when Ikkaku and the rest of the guys came by. They wanted to get drunk, and quick, and they focused just on that.

Ichigo drank to forget Rukia's face: the perfect happiness he had seen there when she told them about her compromise. He had wanted to hit her seriously for the first time in his life. And he had seen the way Renji clenched his fist, and had known Renji was fighting the same impulse.

"Kuchiki-fucking-Byakuya," Renji slurred at some point of the night. They hardly spoke at all except when they needed more sake. "he was so bent in killing her, he almost killed me, hell, he left me for dead so I couldn't save her--and now he loves her?"

Ichigo was almost unconscious on the tatami floor by then. He would have said something to agree with the other shinigami, but his tongue seemed to be stuck to the roof of his mouth.

"Ggnnnn" he said when he felt Renji's body fall on top of his. They were both too drunk and too hurt and too tired to care.

So they just passed out like that.

The only thing Ichigo was able to remember after that was the heat. There was someone warm and heavy on top of him, and that heat was making his body feel strange. There was a tingling sensation spreading down, and without opening his eyes, he started squirming, trying to get closer to that heat.

And suddenly there were hands touching him, and a mouth on his own, and the body was moving against his. And it could be that dream where Rukia never said anything, instead just slipped into his room one night and into his bed. Only Rukia's mouth would never taste sour and stale, like yesterday's sake, and he was sure Rukia's body was smaller, and didn't have anything to poke him with. But it didn't matter, because it was a sake induced dream and the alcohol was still flowing through his veins. So Ichigo kissed back, and touched the other body, and moved against it until both of them cried out and stiffened, and passed out again.

When Ichigo woke up Renji was already awake and staring intently at him.

"What do you remember about last night?" was the first thing he said. Ichigo felt confused for a second, and then everything came crashing down on him.

"Oh, fuck."

"No, we didn't get that far." Renji said, his expression chagrined. Ichigo just looked at him, not knowing what to say.

When the silence was too awkward for him to stand it, he turned and left the room.

He didn't see Renji for a month.

x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x

The second time wasn't about love either. It was about comfort.

Kuchiki Byakuya's marriage to his adopted sister was the juiciest piece of gossip in Seiretei for some time. No one wanted to miss the wedding. Ichigo and Renji were strictly forbidden to not attend.

The both still valued Rukia's friendship very much, so they knew they had to be there.

The ceremony was simple and tasteful, as fit to a noble of Byakuya's standing. And both the bride and the groom looked really happy. Ichigo could swear he almost saw the bastard smiling.

And he might have, if he had been able to take his eyes off Renji.

They had not spoken properly since that night, and Ichigo couldn't remember why anymore. Renji looked like shit, as if he hadn't slept for weeks and all his meals had been of the liquid variety. Whatever had happened, Renji was still his friend. And now Ichigo was worried.

"I don't know what's wrong with him," Rukia was telling Ichigo after the ceremony. The two of them were sitting outside, facing the koi pond, while the guests inside drank and ate. "he's been like that for the past month."

Ichigo was about to tell her what exactly was wrong with Renji; but if she had never realized their feelings, then her own wedding day was the wrong time to open her eyes. "I'll talk to him."

"Thanks Ichigo," she said, leaning her head on his shoulder. The contact felt so familiar--it had been things like that what made him believe she had feelings for him; but now he knew it was just the way she was. She did love them; it was just a different kind of love.

They stayed like that for a while, and he realized that even if she didn't love him the way he wanted her to, he still would die for her. And so would Renji.

He found Renji at the bar, staring gloomily at the bottom of his glass of sake. Judging by the amount of empty jars beside him, he had been doing more than just looking.

"Did you congratulate the newlyweds?" he asked as a way of greeting, and he could see Renji's eyes trying to focus on him. Finally the other man nodded. "Good, 'cos we're out of here."

He managed to drag Renji back to his place with some effort. He wasn't in a state to protest, though he wasn't being cooperative either. The shinigami was a dead weight in Ichigo's arms all the way.

Once inside the house, Ichigo dropped him in the futon and took a look around. The place was a mess. It had always been what you could expect of a guy's house, but now it was so dirty Ichigo wondered what Renji had done for the past month.

He couldn't believe Renji was taking it so hard. It hurt, he knew it, but Renji had always been strong. It was time for the two of them to have a serious conversation.

He wasn't sure when or how did he fall asleep; but Ichigo was sure the hands moving down his chest and the breath on his neck were not part of any dream.

When he opened his eyes all he could see was red. A red curtain of silky hair almost covering his face. "Renji," he said, his voice still rough from sleep. "what are you doing?"

"Shhh" he felt, more than he heard, the hiss against his neck and he shivered.

And then those lips were on his throat, kissing and gently licking it. And there were hands parting the folds of his clothes. And this time he couldn't blame the alcohol.

He considered asking Renji to stop. The other time they had been drunk and their friendship had barely survived it. He was sober now, what excuse did he have? Then Renji's hand closed around his cock, and Ichigo moaned and threw his head back. It felt too good. He surrendered to the feeling and let the other man pleasure him.

It wasn't enough.

Throwing all caution to the wind, Ichigo took hold of Renji's cock and started to stroke it. It should have felt disgusting, having another man's cock in his hand, but somehow it didn't. It felt right. He tried all the things he knew he liked when he did it to himself, listening for clues about how he was doing in Renji's moans and grunts. And finally losing the concentration necessary to do more than react when Renji started moving his hand faster, until all he could do was gasp and try to remember to also move his hand.

He felt a moment of panic thinking there was another man's come on his hand when he felt the wetness spread, but then he was coming as well, and nothing mattered anymore.

When he woke up in the morning, Renji had already left.

There was a note pinned to the door saying "I'm sorry."

x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x

The following times it was just sex.

Ichigo came back home one afternoon after college, about two weeks after Rukia's wedding and all that happened that night, to find Renji inside his room. He was surprised to see the shinigami there, sitting on the edge of his bed waiting for him.

Renji seemed slightly embarrassed when he looked up at Ichigo, but he appeared much better than the last time. There was a tinge of sorrow in his eyes, and they lacked their usual glint; but he didn't look as if he had been living on sake anymore, Ichigo was relieved to see.

"We need to talk," Renji said the moment Ichigo closed the door. He nodded, and moved to sit on his bed.

He felt Renji startle when he sat beside him, and resisted the urge to roll his eyes. They had been closer than that--and Renji was perfectly aware of that, if his blush was anything to go by.

He looked at his friend staring at his hands, seemingly at a loss for words now.

Fuck it! he thought; that was so unlike Renji.

And before he knew what he was doing, he had the other man pinned to the bed and was glaring at him.

"Do you want things to go back to the way they were before?" he said, his face inches apart from Renji. "Or would you rather try something new?"

He knew, by the way Renji's eyes narrowed, he had guessed right.

And something new sounded just fine with him. Ever since that night, he had been thinking how good it had felt to have Renji on top of him. And that's how he found himself before he had time to realize. Renji rolled them over and was now the one pinning him to the bed, while his mouth closed over Ichigo's.

And it felt better than he remembered. Renji tasted like those ridiculous strawberry sweets he liked to eat when he was in the Living World, an improvement from the last time they had kissed. The kiss was also different. Ichigo felt almost light-headed from it; there was no clumsiness or hesitancy this time. Renji's mouth was demanding and hot and wet and Ichigo kissed back with a passion he was surprised to feel.

There were hands everywhere, trying to get rid of the clothes as fast as possible without breaking the kiss, without moving further apart than necessary. Renji's shinigami clothes were easy, but when Ichigo got stuck with his t-shirt he pushed the other man, swearing.

"Damn, don't be so impatient." And then he took a look at Renji's naked body, and felt his mouth go dry.

Renji was gorgeous. He stared, hypnotized by flawless skin, and intricate designs in ink, and a perfect, muscled body. And then his eyes fell on Renji's cock, erect in its patch of red curls. And his mouth wasn't dry anymore.

Before knowing what he was doing or why, he had Renji on his back on the bed and was kissing his way down his chest, following the tattoos on their way down.

"Ichigo.." Renji moaned when he took him in his mouth, still thinking it was impossible that he wanted to do that to a man--to Renji, his friend. And knowing that right now, there was nothing he wanted to do more.

The taste was strange, and not exactly pleasant, and Ichigo wasn't sure what to do with his tongue. The only thing he was sure about was that he shouldn't use his teeth, but having another man's cock in his mouth was a novel experience, one he had never thought he would have, and how to pleasure him was a mystery. After a moment of doubt, trying to guess what to do next, he decided to try what he had heard other boys at college say they liked.

He couldn't be doing it so badly, if Renji's moans and grunts were any indication.

And then there were hands on his head, pulling slightly at his hair, and Ichigo let go of Renji's cock with a last lick and replaced with his hand. Renji was coming a few seconds afterward, kissing him deeply and moaning against his mouth.

And then that mouth was returning the favour, and Ichigo wondered how Renji had lasted that long, or had the presence of mind to warn him if it felt like this: all warmness and wetness and delicious pressure. Or maybe it was just that Renji seemed to know what he was doing--it was the right amount of tongue, the right pressure, the perfect rhythm to drive Ichigo crazy.

And he was coming in an embarrassingly short time, without having time to even try to warn the other man.

Renji didn't complain, however, he just swallowed everything with a practice that made Ichigo suspect that wasn't the first time he did that, and then moved to lie next to him.

Ichigo didn't know when they fell asleep, but when he woke up in the morning Renji was still there, curled around his body.

x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x

After that they stopped thinking about what it was.

It wasn't a relationship, and it wasn't love. It was just friendship with benefits.

They spent as much time as possible together; every time Renji had a day off he would go to the living world and shag Ichigo until both of them were unable to move. And also on weekends Ichigo would go to Soul Society and do exactly the same.

They knew each other better than anyone else, inside and out. Ichigo knew things about Renji he doubted even Rukia knew; like the exact shape of Renji's tattoos under his clothes, or that he had a mole over his right hipbone, or that his ears were very sensitive and he would get goose bumps if you whispered in his ear. And that knowledge made him feel warm.

There were other things he knew now about Renji he would have never suspected before. Like how possessive he could be, demanding his attention completely when they were together. Or how tender and gentle he could also be, just kissing and caressing him for hours when he was in that kind of mood. Or that most nights his sleep was plagued by nightmares about the war with Aizen, and that sleeping tangled up with Ichigo seemed to keep them at bay.

And if sometimes they didn't have sex, well that was normal as well. There were lots of other things they enjoyed together, as friends do. There were games, and drinks, and mock fights, and training sessions, and movies, and amusement parks, and kisses, and comfort. Sex wasn't everything.

x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x

Ichigo looked at the sleeping shinigami sharing the bed with him. He couldn't remember when had been the last time they had slept alone. It wasn't days off or weekends anymore. And it wasn't just sex either.

Closing his eyes and snuggling closer to Renji, Ichigo smiled when and arm grabbed him from behind and pressed him even closer. "Sleep." Renji whispered sleepily in his ear.

Maybe it hadn't been love at the beginning.

Or maybe they just didn't know what love was about back then.

Fin