Disclaimer: I don't own them! Sadly.. but it's probably a good thing.

He didn't want this fire to die. This burning emotion that ran through him contrasted sharply to the piercing cold of the calming flesh beneath his fingertips. His heart pounded within his ears drowning out thought and coherence. The only words spoken were those silent pleas coming from cooling eyes that looked desperately back up at him.

Sucking in a ragged breath Shuuhei clutched he other too him, wishing to keep a hold of that connection. To break away would be to let go, to forget. If he broke this silence, this moment, it would be over. If he breathed everything would fall to pieces. All that he'd be able to see behind closed eyes would be this moment. This moment. Nothing else.

All the past seemed of no importance. For the revelations and confessions that spilled from lips to ears was nothing to ever be said in any other moment. Witnesses were of no concern here. Gossip meant nothing. There was only this, only them…

"Renji…" He choked, tenderly holding the other's head as he was clung to in return.

Eyes not his own searched for something they did not know. Renji had never imagined this possibility. It seemed like a far off dream that danced at the edge of your consciousness when you fall asleep. And like those fleeting thoughts, he wanted nothing more then to burst this aside. He wanted to ignore this.

But it was real.

This was happening.

There's nothing he wanted more. No other conclusion did he desire. To be here, in these arms, surrounded by this warmth. It was more then he ever dreamed his was worthy of. Shuuhei had given him that honor. An unabashed thank you spilled from his lips as he reached up to pass his thumb across the other man's cheek in what was but a breath.

Shuuhei leaned down, pressing his forehead to Renji's. Supporting the other man's back and shoulder he posed like that for a moment, listening to the other's lungs drag air in and out. He felt a slight tug at his arm, drawing his eyes to open to stare into the crimson pins so close to him.

"No regrets?" Renji shuddered.


"Kay' then…" Renji said, definitely. "Then jus' kiss me already, idiot."

There wasn't any protest. Shuuhei lowered his mouth to the tattooed man's with every passion he could muster. Caught in a moment of bliss he struggled to show Renji the hundreds of things he never had the courage to say. He may appear cool and easy going, but there was one thing Renji always had in surplus compared to him. Never was there anyone less afraid to pursue his desires than the red head below him. Not then, and certainly not now. Reluctantly the slightly older shinigami withdrew. For the first time since the beginning of their intimate embrace did the consequences flood over him.

No longer did Renji's cocky smirk spread across his face. No more did his sly remarks reach Shuuhei's ears. The scent of copper and sweat wafted up to his nose, alerting him to the feeling of blood matting the hair of his arms. Shuuhei trembled, his limbs growing heavy and his stomach revolting.

But he didn't let go. He couldn't. The only thing he could do was cling to the corpse in his arms. This was his doing, his fault. He couldn't see that the trajectories of their attack plan were conflicting. The espada had been killed, but Shuuhei hadn't been able to stop the flow of his bankai.

Renji had seen the strike coming. Instead of evading, he had taken the blow. Doing other wise would have meant not diverting Zabimaru from its course. It had made a direct bite for Shuuhei's heart. The gash on the left of his chest that dripped blood yet onto the broken body would scar. Shuuhei didn't care.

He cursed himself, his experience. He had barely achieved it. He should have never attempted to use it with such little control. Shuuhei was always the careful one. He always planned things out. He was the protector.

A protector who killed the one person he thought he would never be a threat to. He hadn't had a noble death. Instead of facing the enemy, it was his own comrade that shot him down.

Shuuhei dropped his head to the body that used to be Renji's chest. He inhaled the remaining scent of spice and adrenaline that was so uniquely him. He cherished this last moment. If only he cling on to this last memory. If only he could keep that smile in his grasp.

If only.

If only.

He had promised Renji there would be no regrets. Their attack had brought down the menace. Shuuhei hadn't let him die alone. But was that enough? Never. Nothing would ever be able to erase this pain. Not Renji's reassurance. Not others'. Not his own death, which he prayed would be merciless.

Buried in the remains of the other man, Shuuhei's body shook. For the first time in his recollection, the ninth division head did something he never had before. Tears rolled down across the scars he had achieved, one for each student that had saved him.

There was no rescue now.

Shuuhei's savior was dead.