Another day, another battle, another nightmare – Ichigo felt himself falling – in a not too pleasant way - every time he closed his eyes to sleep. Nothing he did seemed to make the feeling of helplessness stop or at least – go away for a while. He could see himself tumbling in the blackness of his mind – his arms frantically waving around to find a purchase on anything – yet, always finding nothing. Even though there was never any end to the darkness, his body always felt one – an approaching invisible floor. When his body reacts to hitting the floor, he wakes up violently thrashing. If he's lucky, the worst he finds himself is tangled in the bed sheets. However, he more often than not finds himself on the floor, gasping for breath, sporting sore limbs from the impact.
The first time after the war Renji had slept over; he witnessed first hand the extent of the trauma his best friend was going though. Renji had sported a black eye for a week – and Ichigo had apologised, feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Renji had waved it off as nothing – and told Ichigo if he needed to talk, he'd listen. Ichigo had thanked him with a small smile and nod, but his eyes showed how much Renji's offer had meant to him.
A week after the incident, Ichigo had told Renji all about his dream. Renji had sat quietly and listened, only nodding and grunting occasionally to show he was listening. Afterwards Ichigo felt relieved, like a weight was lifted off his chest. Renji smiled slightly and said in a gentle tone, "Don't worry Ichi – I'll catch ya every time you fall." Ichigo didn't know what to say – except "Thank you."
Renji had left to resume his duties in Soul Society a few weeks later. That's when Ichigo found himself waking up from his nightmares once again, but this time, he was crying. He spent many nights thinking of why he had begun to have them again, and why he had begun to cry during or after. His nightmares weren't any different than he remembered them being. He still fell – still landed somewhere – and still woke up in a state. It took him a while to figure out it was Renji's fault.
The night of their talk, Ichigo had had another nightmare. He had fallen, and new the impact was soon approaching, however – it never came. He had managed to grab something, and that's when his eyes had opened to reality. He saw Renji hovering above him, holding one of his arms and stroking his face gently while whispering soothing words. Ichigo had found himself relaxing at his best friend's words and gentle touches, and soon drifted back to sleep, his hands letting go of their purchase in Renji's hakama.
This happened every night for a week. Ichigo would wake gently from his nightmare to find Renji above him, comforting him. One night before they went to bed Ichigo asked Renji, somewhat awkwardly, if he would stay beside him that night. Expecting to get one of Renji's usual retorts he was surprised when Renji nodded with a soft "Sure." That night and for all the other nights after, Ichigo slept with Renji by his side, his hands grasping Renji's clothes for support, and Renji's arms around him for comfort.
During that time, a stronger bond had formed between them. Ichigo new he began to look forward to the nights, when he could hold Renji and be held in return. He found himself more relaxed and calm with Renji's presence so near – even when they bickered for fun, and out of habit, before sleep took them.
Now though, he couldn't take it. He couldn't stand being away from the one person who made him feel safe - The one person who understood everything without there being a need to exchange words. That's why he was currently standing outside Renji's division's office in Soul Society, hand shakily rapping on the door. When Renji opened the door, Ichigo just looked at him, all the pain, worry and need in his eyes. Renji smiled with comfort, understanding and love in his own eyes before he gently reached out, taking Ichigo into his arms to kiss him softly. Ichigo lost himself in the kiss, a new – pleasant - feeling of falling washing over him as he kissed back, taking a firm hold of Renji.
"Don't worry – I've got ya…"