A/N: Just wanted to try something different.
BLEACH is not mine. If it were, then Renji is the lead character and there'd be a lot more of Gin as well.
Inspired by Joss Whedon's BtVS, a certain episode. You might be able to recall the episode title if you're a fan ;)
Every Man's Fantasy?
Renji shook his head wearily.
This could not be happening, his mind screamed at him. Oh but it is, the second thoughts inhabiting part of his brain said snarkily.
"Shut up," he muttered, then clapped a hand over his mouth and clamped down his reiatsu level.
They were still on the prowl, hunting for him.
----------------------The Day Before-------------------
Renji snarled at the short kid. "Stop calling me freeloader, kid. I'm doing all the work here, k?"
"Whatever. Boss wants ya."
Urahara positively beamed when the redhead sauntered into the little storeroom. "Abarai-san! Today is a special day, did you know that?"
"Whatever." Renji leaned against the door frame. "Kid said you wanted me. What's up?"
"Gosh, you're so cold... I'm hurt." The shopkeeper pouted and clutched his heart. Then, as Renji's eyes narrowed dangerously, Urahara broke into his familiar, self-deprecating laugh. "It's your one-hundredth time of sweeping the floor!"
Abarai Renji stared at the sandaled ex-captain. Briefly he considered just stalking away, but gave in to his better judgment, and hurled the broom he held in his hand at the man's head.
The broom bonked Urahara's hat off, which surprised Renji. Clearly he could have dodged the attack; Renji hadn't even put in much strength behind the throw. He sighed and gave in again. "What do you want, Urahara-san?"
"Nothing. Just to give you a present," said Urahara, tossing a small black pill box to Renji. The lieutenant took it and made a face. Urahara retrieved his hat and put it on, obscuring his eyes once more. "It's a pill designed to accelerate reiatsu control."
"Really!" Urahara pouted again, his eyes large and sincere. "Do I look like I'm capable of lying?"
Renji snorted. "You want me to answer that honestly?"
It was tempting to try the pill out. After all, the ex-captain of the Research Bureau did come up with inventions like inflatable gigai and hogyoku and modsouls.
But the skull and crossbow design stared Renji in the face, daring him to eat it.
Come on, Abarai. Isn't that what you want? To master your reiatsu and bankai? The arrancar are still around, you can barely fight them off if you can't maintain power over Hihio Zabimaru.
He chewed on his bottom lip.
Tomorrow morning. I'll eat it tomorrow morning, when I return to Soul Society to update Kuchiki-taichou. At least Unohana-taichou can purge the poison outta me if anything goes wrong.
"You're late, Abarai," said Kuchiki Byakuya, already seated in the spacious and airy office. "I'd expected you to remember your place and set a good example."
"Sorry, taichou." Renji flushed. He prided himself on meeting Kuchiki Byakuya's high standards; the sixth division captain had the dubious honor of firing the most lieutenants in three years. Renji had managed to stick with him for seven months, almost.
Byakuya looked up from the records he was updating. "If you'd bought yourself an alarm clock instead of those sunglasses..." He paused, then shook his head as if to clear his vision. "If you'd spend your salary more judiciously... did you do something different to your hair this morning?"
"Uh, no. it's the same style I do everyday."
"Huh. Anyway... where was I?"
Renji was slightly alarmed. Never had Kuchiki Byakuya lose his train of thought, at far as Renji knew. "Um... upbraiding me about my spending? Or do you want me to just make my report?"
Byakuya closed his eyes and licked his lips. "I'm not... feeling too well, suddenly. Just write the report and I'll look through you – I mean, it, later today." He got up and walked to the door. To the lieutenant's surprise, the tall captain collided into the jamb and fell down.
"Taichou," Renji half-ran forward to help him up. "Should I send you to the Fourth Division?"
"It's... okay. It's okay. I can..." Byakuya's face was strangely pallid. His eyes were half lidded and his mouth parted; his breathing was shallow. "I don't need your help!"
The sudden snarl shocked Renji. The captain very seldom raised his voice at anyone.
Byakuya closed his eyes and rubbed his nose. "I need... I need to go home. I feel... kind of nauseous."
"I'll send you there immed-"
"No! Shut up!" Kuchiki Byakuya yelled agitatedly and pushed the redhead away. "Someone else can do that. Rikichi will do it. You just stay... stay and write that report. And stay away from me."
"Yessir." Renji was not convinced that his captain was alright. Within minutes of seeing him and the aristocrat was reeling and staggering – what the freaking hell was wrong?
Having finished the report Renji decided to go back to his room for a bath. Along the way he greeted a few friends: Shuuhei, Kira. Matsumoto and Rukia had returned as well, Hitsugaya-taichou having apparently run out of patience for human world food.
Rukia waved to him as she skipped into a shop displaying new posters of a Chappy related toy. Matsumoto hung about outside, looking into the display window. Renji stopped and joined her.
"Matsumoto, how long is Hitsugaya-taichou staying?"
"Long enough to get a few meals and to check on Hinamori." Matsumoto checked her reflection and tucked a few stray strands of hair behind her ears before facing Renji. "Are you staying long?"
"Not really. Gonna go home and bathe. Cleaning the gigai only is just so weird."
"Yeah..." Matsumoto's eyes seemed to be attracted to something behind the crimson-haired shinigami.
Renji looked in the direction of her gaze but there was only blank wall. "What's so interesting there?"
"Did it hurt when you got your tattoos, Renji?" Matsumoto's sudden question distracted him from his original one.
"Not really. You sorta... get used to the tingling. Why?"
"Cos, y'know, you have so many..." Her eyes traced the angular design on his face and his neck, then her glance trickled to the opening of his robe. "How low do your tattoos go, Renji?"
"What sort of question is that to ask?" Renji backed away from the voluptuous lieutenant. He noted the slow smile growing on Matsumoto's face, and raised a finger. "I'm going into the shop. Bye."
As he ducked in, his head brushed against the delicate wind chimes hung just inside the door. Rukia was paying for her purchase.
"Renji!" greeted Rukia enthusiastically. Renji sighed inwardly when she revealed the source of her enthusiasm: a Chappy nightshirt. "Isn't this adorable?"
"Fine, if you don't appreciate good taste," snapped Rukia, her face black with anger. She shoved past the tall shinigami and strode down the street.
The sudden switch in mood startled Renji. He hurried out and called after her. She ignored him and tugged the obviously reluctant Matsumoto behind her.
"Okay. What the hell was that about?"
Kuchiki Byakuya was still wan when Renji dropped by to pass him the completed report.
"I told you to stay away," he growled when his lieutenant came and settled in the aristocrat's large bedroom. "I can read the report tomorrow."
"I saw Unohana-taichou stepping out and I thought I'd ask what was wrong."
"Nothing." The curt reply didn't deter Renji. He waited. Byakuya groaned and retched into a basin paced nearby. Renji carried the basin out to the corridor and replaced it with a clean one. The captain threw his head back on the pillow. "I'm just reacting negatively to some irritant, apparently. She said it'll pass in a day or two. Now get out."
"I'll report in three days' time, sir."
"Here, Cherry Head!" chirruped Yachiru as she stuffed a bag of sweets in his hands. Before Renji could say thanks, the littlest shinigami skipped off with a cheery wave.
"What was that about?" Renji wondered. He didn't like sweets that much, and Yachiru usually just gave him a bonk on the head or a kick to the shin. Not a bag of sweets.
And all he did was greet her with a 'Good Morning'.
It was strange, mused Renji as he scrubbed himself in the scalding heat of his shower. Although the captain was often aloof and indifferent, he was so seldom rude. He was still pondering the temperament change when he went to dress in his bedroom.
"GYAAHHHRH!" He grabbed on to the flimsy towel on his hips. Matsumoto was stretched out on his bed, a come-hither look on her face. She was dressed only in the white robe of her uniform, and the fabric clung to her curves.
"Hey, Renji." She purred. Her eyes roamed freely over Renji's damp body, and her lashes lowered. "Hmmm, those tattoos really run quite a ways down your torso, huh..."
"Matsumoto, how the hell did you get into my room? And," he backed away again as she started sliding off the bed, "what the hell are you doing here?"
"Well, you wouldn't tell me about your tattoos, so I just had to come find out for myself now, don't I?" She moved slowly to him. Suddenly the towel was extremely inadequate armor; Renji groped blindly for his zanpakuto, but it was far away on his dresser.
Matsumoto chuckled throatily. "You don't need a sword now, Renji. I'm not armed, y'know."
"Matsumoto, don't make me use force now," Renji backed away some more until he hit the wall. "Don't come any nearer."
"Mmmm... force is okay," she said breathily. Her mouth was slightly parted and her eyes half-lidded, the way she had looked earlier outside the Chappy shop.
Renji decided there was only one thing he could do. Shoving Matsumoto back on the bed, he grabbed Zabimaru and backpedaled. He dashed into his bathroom, grabbed the old uniform, pulled it on, and clambered out the tiny window in the bathroom. He'd pay for the repairs later.
He hurried down the row of offices. Something odd was brewing and he needed space to figure out -
Renji rubbed the elbow that connected with the ground. "Kurotsuchi-fukutaichou!"
"Abarai-fukutaichou," Nemu said, getting to her knees. She bowed formally. "I apologize for knocking you over."
"My fault entirely. Here..." With both hands he gathered the scattered sheets. Most of it were graphs and technical drawings, and some he recognized to be kido spells in research and refinement. "I'll help you carry these to the twelfth."
"Oh, you don't have to..." Nemu's argument was cut short as he packed the thick stack neatly and set off. Nemu followed hurriedly.
When they got there and he handed the papers to Nemu, she bowed again. When she looked up, there was a sparkle in her eyes that, to Renji, was oddly familiar. "Abarai-fukutaichou, I would be honored if you'd accept a dinner from me tonight. As thanks."
"I... can't, although I'd love to," Renji said hurriedly. She was edging closer to him instead of scurrying into the building as she normally did. "I'm going back to Karakura tonight."
"Uh... I'll... get back to you. Bye."
That was odd. Especially since Nemu Kurotsuchi never spoke to other males if there was a chance the psychotic captain might overhear.
"No... no no no. Kurotsuchi-taichou has no need for me as a lab rat." He reassured himself. He wasn't sure though – the captain wasn't known for his sanity.
"Abarai." Another female voice. Renji sighed. Ise Nanao. Well, at lest she shouldn't be acting too oddly now, would she?
Ise caught up with him. "Abarai, did you see Kyoraku-taichou... did you get a new tattoo or something?"
"Nnnno, Ise. Still the same number of tattoos." Alright, very, very odd.
"You seem different somehow..." Ise's eyes wandered over his eyes and lips, then down his neck before snapping up to meet his widening eyes again. "Uh, Kyoraku-taichou?"
"Um, I think I saw him headed to the pub," the taller shinigami backed away from her intense scrutiny. "You should go after him. Really."
Ise tilted her head. "Oh... let's not bother him. I was wondering," she stepped closer, "if you're free for dinner tonight... or maybe I could interest you in breakfast tomorrow."
Renji grinned like a maniac. "Nope. Not free at all. Busy, busy. Bee-like. I know someone who is. You can ask Nemu, I mean, Kurotsuchi-fukutaichou if- gyeahheh..."
She was running her slim fingers along his arms. He quickly pulled them back. She pouted, a sexy look never seen on her face. "One might think you're afraid of me, Renji-kun."
"One might not be wrong," Renji mumbled. He said too-brightly, "Call me Abarai. Please. Ise-fukutaichou, your captain is in the pub. Go look for him."
"He's better off by himself. Whereas for us..." Ise's lips parted invitingly, her tongue running the edge of her teeth.
"Your captain wouldn't be happy to hear you say that, Ise-fukutaichou. I really have to go." He smiled nervously and ran off. "We'll talk again some other time."
Ise called out after him. "I'll be waiting tonight!"
Renji paused for breath. "What the fuck is happening today?"
"You starting to talk to yourself would be my guess," replied a male voice. Renji straightened to see his friend, senpai and colleague, Hisagi Shuuhei. Thank the lords.
"Not funny." Renji rolled his eyes. "It's been a weird day, Shuuhei." He shared the morning's experience, heavily editing the part where Matsumoto came on to him. He knew Shuuhei had a soft spot for the tenth division lieutenant.
"Hmmm... well, I'm headed back to my place after an all-nighter. You could hide out there till the women get to their senses and start pursuing me."
"Sounds good. I wouldn't mind if you could lend me a spare outfit too."
As Shuuhei rummaged for one that Renji could fit into, Renji sat on the sofa and thought about the events that occurred.
None of it made sense.
He was interrupted in his ruminations by a large pile of fabric tossed onto his face.
"Make sure it's washed and ironed before you return it," warned Shuuhei. He flung a towel over his shoulder and went to the bathroom.
"Thanks for your generosity," called out Renji. He stripped of his old, wrinkled suit and pulled on the new hakama. "Where shall I hide?"
Shuuhei emerged from the bathroom, stark naked. It wasn't a big deal; most male shinigami have seen each other in the nude before, often sharing showers at the public baths. But there was predatory intent in the way Hisagi Shuuhei moved now.
"I think you can stay right here in this room," he said. He pulled out a tube from a drawer. "I can keep you safe." Suddenly Renji realized the room felt a lot smaller. Shuuhei had a strange gleam in his eyes. His mouth opened with a slow grin. "You must be hot and sweaty after running... we could shower together."
"Oh no... not you too." Hastily Renji pulled on the shirt of the uniform. It was slightly too small and as he struggled with the sleeves, he realized Hisagi was right in front of him. The shinigami must have used flash step while Renji was figuring out how to escape. "Oh shit."
Renji's mind blanked out when Shuuhei kissed him. The man had soft lips, slightly too dry, but the way he moved them against the younger shinigami made Renji's head swim. Renji's panicked mind somehow absorbed the fact that Shuuhei was very, very good at kissing. Then his body reacted, pushing the slimmer man away. "Oh gross!"
"You don't mean that," said Hisagi huskily. "I'm sure you liked it... enough to try a second one."
"No. No second one, Shuuhei. There shouldn't have been the first one even- don't come near me now!" exclaimed Renji, a hand raised as a shield. To his horror, Hisagi was getting turned on, judging by the wicked smile. "And don't give me the line about 'force being okay', okay?"
"Alright, I won't," smiled the dark haired shinigami. His hips thrust forward slightly; Renji blanched. This was not good at all.
Shuuhei was between him and the main door.
He wanted to close his eyes and shake his head clear, but dared not look away. "Ah crap." he took a running leap and crashed through the windows.
Abarai Renji had stood outside the Third Division offices for a while now. The office was assiduously avoided by all and sundry; Ichimaru's legendary pranks conditioned all shinigami to leave the office well alone, even though the captain was now long gone. But then, there might still be a few booby traps...
What in the world was causing the shinigami of Soul Society to react so strangely? It couldn't have been the pill; he had it still in his room at the grocery store. He hadn't eaten it. Renji groaned softly.
"I'd better scan and avoid Zaraki-taichou," he muttered. He could escape Matsumoto, he could escape Hisagi, but there was no way he could run from Zaraki Kenpachi. Renji did not even want to go near the scary visual place.
"So there you are," a male voice chided. Hisagi leaned against the wall. "I like Hide-and-Seek, but I must say you're not playing fair, y'know? I wasn't even dressed."
"Eh heheheh..." Renji grinned weakly. Who told Hisagi he was here?
Kira emerged from Hisagi's shadow. "Shuuhei, get the disgusting baboon away from my division, will ya?"
"What's disgusting about Abari now, Kira?" inquired Shuuhei politely. "He has those fine, sculpted arm muscles, the very toned abs, the artistic lines tracing up and down his body... makes you wanna..."
"Lick'em." The female voice that completed the sentence caused Renji to freeze. Matsumoto's smile was very hungry. "Renji-chan, you didn't even tell me you left. Naughty boy, must be punished."
"Oh damn." Renji was cornered against the wall. As the two pressed closer and Kira's face turned colder, the redheaded lieutenant decided that he had to act like a man. "All right! All you want is me, yeah?"
"Oh yeah." The same grin spread across both Matsumoto's and Hisagi's faces.
"Okay." Renji took a deep breath and stepped forward. As the buxom blonde reached out and the dark-haired lieutenant tried to embrace Renji, the sixth division lieutenant leaped up and sprinted over the rooftops.
"Rukia please! You have to help me!"
"Why?" Her large eyes were full of hatred. Renji had never seen her like this, but compared to the lust in Matsumoto's and Hisagi's eyes, he'd take hatred any day.
It'd be nice to have so many admirers – female admirers preferred, but Renji knew himself to be no female fantasy. And if had been Rukia...
But somehow, today, everyone he met seemed to want him to be their boytoy. Except for Kira, who insulted him, Kuchiki-taichou, who turned ill and Rukia, who was now as immovable as the proverbial Rock of Gibraltar.
And now the captain Ukitake Juushiro had seen him too, and was sitting not too far away, playing with his long white hair. Inoue Orihime was beside him, her ample chest moving a little harder than was warranted. She was blushing whenever he stole glances at her – just to confirm his hypothesis.
"Rukia. You're my last hope. I need you to help me figure this out!"
Ukitake raised a hand, his lovely eyes sparkling. "How about my help, Renji?"
"I-I don't mind helping, Abarai-kun," interjected Orihime softly. She smiled at him, with the same sort of look he noticed she'd get whenever Ichigo was mentioned.
Ichigo! That's it! Probably whatever infected Soul Society hadn't infected him yet. I hope. I pray.
"You have, Orih – I mean, Inoue-san. Thanks. Bye Rukia!"
Rukia scowled darkly as Renji ran out of the thirteenth division. Ukitake and Inoue watched him go, a wistful look in their eyes.
"He really has the cutest ears, doesn't he?" Ukitake commented.
Inoue blushed and added. "And the sweetest smile."
"And his voice?...aaaahh." Both the captain and the ex-ryoka sighed contentedly.
Rukia snorted. "Both of you are insane." She stalked out of the room.
Renji called out in vain hope that the sandaled fellow would explain the inexplicable phenomena. He wasn't around though, so Renji flash-stepped to Ichigo's home.
"Hey, strawberry head!"
"Hey." The shinigami representative kept his head down and focused on his homework. "I'm really busy. Buzz off."
"Needing your help, Ichigo. Why else would I be here?"
"Whatever." Ichigo tossed his pen down on the table and swerved around. "What do you want?"
As their eyes met, Ichigo's face turned greener than Kuchiki Byakuya's did. The boy ran out of the bedroom, to the bathroom and, from the sound of it, threw up violently. Renji sighed. It was getting to be predictable.
"Alright, talk to me through the door," said Ichigo faintly. "What did you do to yourself that I puke the moment I see ya? Not that I don't usually want to, but this is way more serious than usual."
"Hey. Watch the insults, alright? As for the puking, I wish I knew." Renji detailed the events that had happened, including the pill in the box that he received from Urahara. "I've got it with me now."
"Roll it out from under the door, let me take a look. Not at you though."
"Whatever, pea brain."
Ichigo examined the pill. It was black and had the pirate's motif Urahara and the fourth division loved so much. He sniffed it gingerly.
"I think you should eat it, Renji."
"I think you should eat it. I don't think he'll poison you. It's probably the antidote," Ichigo snorted. "Besides, I throw up when I see ya, pill or not."
"Shut up." Renji picked up the pill rolled under the closed door. He blew off the dust and, praying fervently that it wouldn't kill him, popped it into his mouth. As he swallowed he felt a tingling sensation spread from his stomach to his extremities. "Whoa. That was... awesome."
The door opened. Ichigo walked in quickly. "I agree fully."
A/N: Gonna have more fun next chapter :) Read and Review please!