Chapter Two: Touching the Edge of Love

The days that followed our awkward, unintentional moment of what I considered a feeling beyond friendship, were surprisingly normal. It was as though nothing had happened between us; as though maybe that whole thing was a daydream. That wouldn't be a surprise, since I had a lot of those recently. After all, my daydreams led me to things I couldn't touch, and that relationship was certainly something I couldn't touch. However, that was just it, I would have never imagined a relationship between Renji and I, that had to make it real. I couldn't possibly imagine that moment happening, so it had to of been real for me to see it. The feeling, the emotions… something I had never felt before. But… with Renji? Was this all because of desperation, or had I truly felt those emotions?

The questions needed to stop. I needed to stop. This was so weak of me, so unlike me. The feeling of need for him wasn't me. This feeling was some unwanted emotion I needed to control, before it took over. Sighing, I stood up, leaving my window. This nagging for Ichigo needed to disappear as well.

The Seireitei was quiet today, settled and peaceful. The fresh air outside my barracks was something I needed to clear my mind, and refresh myself. I was almost hoping that more problems would arise in the world of the living, I was thinking too much on my free time. Not only that, but if some kind of urgency was inflicted on the world of the living it would allow me to…

"I see you're not moping anymore."

"Renji! Don't sneak up on me like that," I responded instantly from surprise. I glared at him, and continued walking. I was trying to clear him from my mind, and he wasn't helping the situation any.

"I didn't 'sneak up' on you. Where are you headed to anyway?"

"Nowhere in particular, what's it to you?"

"Mind if I walk with you?" Did he just ask me if he could walk with me? I thought Renji was supposed to be demanding, he didn't what he wanted without asking. This was already continuing the awkward streak I was hoping to avoid with him.

"Don't be foolish and think that being polite will help with your agendas."

"Why are you acting so repelling? I just wanted to…"

"I'm not being repelling. You're just acting weird. You can't walk with me if you're going to keep acting like an idiot," I rolled my eyes at him, but didn't actually look in his direction. I wanted to avoid eye contact, avoid temptation.

"I can be polite. There's a lot of things you don't notice about me."

"So, you're saying you're something besides stubborn and ridiculous? I don't know any other Renji."

"You know I'm not always like that. We don't always have to act like that. You can save your annoying personality for Ichigo, it fits him better."

"Ichigo is stubborn just like you, but he's not always like that. I've seen you act different too… but both of you can't hold it for very long."

"If we're so much alike, why him?"

I stopped walking, and didn't think about that question. I blocked it out of my mind to prevent myself from allowing the truth to slip out of that hidden corner in my mind. That hidden corner that also contained the sever sense of want and desire I had felt the other day. This would be saved for something to dwell on later, I didn't want to say anything, or think anything, around Renji.

"I don't choose him over you, and why would you think that? You are unreasonable sometimes you know."

"I'm just curious as to why you're so worried about him. It bothers me to see you this depressed all the time."

"Don't be stupid, Renji." I tried to maintain my focus of keeping my personality alive, not giving into his random nonsense, and maintaining a sense of relaxation like I had initially planned to have. Relaxing certainly wasn't being accomplished, but the other two I hoped I was dealing with accordingly.

He sighed and followed suit with my pace of walking, and my silence. It felt good to hear silence for a moment. Walking alongside him, relaxed and comfortable was enjoyable, but I knew it would only last for so long before his stubbornness got the best of him and he would pursue for the answers he had come for.

"You're thinking of him right now, aren't you?" He opened the conversation up again.

"No, I was thinking about you actually. Obviously, since you are annoying me. I'm heading back to my barracks." I brushed him off with a cold attitude. We had not gone far from my barracks, I think I was slowly walking and accepting the fresh air with gratitude rather than running ahead and making it home quickly. I ducked safely back into my room, and instead of resuming my position by the window, I laid on the floor, staring at the ceiling. The window was for Ichigo, and I had little to want from him right now, amazingly enough. I decided to stare at the ceiling when I was thinking about Renji, he didn't deserve the Seireitei for a background on my thoughts of him.

As soon as I was positioned comfortably easing myself into memories, I heard a soft knock on the wall outside. "Come in," I replied to the knocking with a sigh, not moving.

"You didn't have to run away, I would have shut up. I was trying to be nice, you know." There was defiantly an annoyed, arrogant tone in his voice.

"That's not in you to act like that; you pretty much fail at it."

"I was that terrible, huh?"

"I'd say so," I laughed, mostly to myself. He remained standing in the doorway with a sour look of disapproval, and disappointment on his face. He was back, for now.

"You know, it wasn't until you were to be executed," he started to say, but sat down before finishing with a soft, almost romantic tone to his voice, "that I realized I loved you." There it was. That hidden emotion within me wanting to respond to him saying this. It wanted me to jump up and be held in his arms again, feel the comfort of being with him, the way my heart seemed to beat with an intensity that I didn't know was possible. No. I couldn't give into the temptation. Love? Was he over exaggerating it? Then I remembered that feeling when I was about to die. How much I realized I loved Renji… and Ichigo. The thought that they'd be with me no longer made my stomach turn. The thought that both of them had nearly died before my eyes while trying to battle Aizen certainly made me remember that feeling that could be nothing other than love. A quick wash of love came over me when I watched them nearly die, and the same feeling was here right now. Just with Renji this time, Ichigo was nearly gone for my mind at this moment. I needed to break this sensation before it overwhelmed me and I lost control of it.

"Renji, why are you just now deciding to say this?" He looked at me shocked that I had fallen into his trap, and went along with the conversation. Maybe he was shocked that I was listening and not making a stupid remark…yet.

"I wanted you to realize I was here for you. You don't need Ichigo. You don't have to think about him so much," he was looking out the window this time, probably staring at Sokyoku Hill, remembering the moment he nearly lost me. If it weren't for Ichigo though, I would be dead. Didn't he understand that? I didn't have to look to remember. Every image was still painted clearly in my mind, and every emotion still stained my soul, tainted it with this awful, hopeless feeling of needing them both. An imprint I will never be able to wash away.

"Stop being foolish. Of course you are here. I'm not stupid, and I know you're here for me. I just have to wonder how life is back there… I have no feelings towards Ichigo."

"You know you could never be with him, right? Not to totally ruin anything, but loving a human is stupid if you ask me."

"I don't want to be with him, stop accusing me of such pathetic things."

This was a lie. I wanted to be with him more than I should, and the same feeling was between Renji and I. I knew loving Ichigo was forbidden, as I should have never bonded with a human in the first place. I also knew that if loving Renji made our friendship break, and made me act like this all the time, I wanted nothing to do with it. I would never forgive myself for allowing such things to happen. I had two roads I wanted to take. I either had to pick my best friend and take the chance of ruining everything we have together, or the human I am forbidden to love. Deciding which one, could easily ruin everything I had with them.