Pairing: Ren/Ichi

Warning: shounen-ai, bad grammar and possible OOC-ness

Disclaimer: I own nothing

AN: a proper sequel to Young enough to die and Old enough to be left alone. I didn't even plan to write this – I wanted to leave it as it was with the sad ending – but the idea came to me last night and I just sat down and wrote it it without much thinking. I wrote it in English not even trying to use my native language and I think the result is better than when I translate something. I know my English sucks big time that's why I'd be really grateful if you told me where the mistakes are.

Summary: A year. It felt like centuries have passed. The torture of living without him never disappearing. The pain of being left alone never fading. And then...

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He was stuck with paperwork yet again stacks of documents scattered all over his workplace. His fingers already numb from hours and hours of writing finally gave out dropping his pen. A groan left his lips as he leaned back against his chair massaging his temples to relieve his headache. He closed his eyes to ease the pain a little waiting for his captain to snap at him for being lazy. When that didn't come he opened his eyes and looked around the dark and empty office. It must have got pretty late. With a tired sigh he folded his arms on his desk after showing the papers down from it and hid his face in the crock of his left arm looking to the side. His eyes the only thing visible.

He didn't even have the strength to go back to the dorms to his room tonight. Every day he used all his energy to keep himself occupied. To take his mind off of painful memories. Every day he got up early in the morning, went to the office and saw his captain to receive orders for the day, trained in the dojo or fought Hollows and then got back to the office to finish paperwork. After he put his last signature he was usually too drained to think about anything and just went home to get some dreamless sleep. That's how the past year looked like.

Ok, so maybe he didn't even try to move on with his life after Ichigo's death. He hated those sad looks Rukia sent him every time he refused to go out with her for a drink or Ikkaku's lame attempts to start a fight with him to cheer him up a little. He knew that they only wanted to help him, to see him smile, for him to be happy again... but how could he? He couldn't forgive himself for what had happened back then.

If he closed his eyes and tried (or even when he didn't try) he could clearly recall those last moments with Ichigo. His pale yet beautiful face, dull eyes, vibrant blood-stained hair. The feeling of his ice-cold lips. The faint squeeze his fingers gave him. Or that weak voice whispering words that made him cry even harder, made him scream as Ichigo's last breath died. Made him want to destroy everything within reach. Words that made his heart throb painfully.

Oh, how he wished he could turn back time and save the damn Strawberry. His damn Strawberry.

He still received odd looks from members of division 4 who had seen him then, holding Ichigo's dead body in his arms in a tight embrace, face hidden in orange tresses muffling his cries. He lost it completely then, to the point where he wouldn't let anybody near them. They needed ten men to tear him off from the teenager.

Renji burned the blood-soaked clothes he wore that day. And even after a week he still had bruises on his hands from all the scrubbing. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that there was still blood on his hands.

He shuddered at the memory. Even killing the damn Hollow didn't relieve his pain a bit.

A year. It felt like centuries had passed. The torture of living without Ichigo never disappearing. The pain of being left alone never fading.

He had been lost in thought for what felt like hours - but in reality was only a few minutes - when something startled him making his heart beat faster. It was faint at first but it was growing stronger with every passing second.

No, It couldn't be...

He stood up abruptly, his chair falling down at the sudden movement, and dashed out of the room. He would never forget this reiatsu, its taste, how it pushed itself into everybody around as if to share the incredible amount of power.

But how?

He paused at the gate yelling for someone to open it and slid under as soon as it rose a bit from the ground. He Shunpo-ed as fast as he could, as if his life depended on it. And maybe it really did.

He felt it clearly now. It was so strong, that he thought he would be able to touch it if he tried. He briefly wondered if it would be just like the owner – hard and harsh outside but soft and gentle inside, as if rewarding everyone, who managed to brake through its walls.

As he was mere metres from him he slowed down opening eyes, that he never realised he had closed. And he saw him leaning back against a tree, arms folded on his chest, a soft smile on his face. Almost a grin. As if he was saying 'what took you so long?'. He stopped for a second bewildered and then ran towards him catching him in a tight embrace. He couldn't hold back his tears unable to believe in what he saw, in who he was holding.

It must be a dream.

'Please, tell me, that it's you, that it's not a dream, that I'm still sane.' he whispered into orange tresses. A soft laugh answered him, tanned arms wrapping around his neck.

'I'm here, Renji. It's not a dream. But I don't know about the 'sane' part.' and that was enough for the redhead to catch those pink lips in a tender kiss.

After a moment he pulled back to catch his breath, forehead pressed against the other's, eyes finally meeting. It really was him.

'But how? It's your soul that had been killed back then. You... died.'

'Maybe souls also have an afterlife. I don't know.' Ichigo smiled tugging at Renji's loose hair to pull him down for another kiss stopping for a second, lips lingering against the redhead's 'And I don't really care.' he whispered before closing what little of the space was left between them. At first their lips only touched relishing in the feeling of resting on the other's. Then they started to move slowly, gently savouring the taste, the touch, the softness. After giving Ichigo's bottom lip a soft nibble, entrance granted, Renji pushed his tongue in the hot cavern of Strawberry's waiting mouth massaging the teen's muscle with his own. The kiss grew harsher as they tried to make up for the time they lost, hands roaming - learning about the curves and shapes of the other's body.

'Hey' Ichigo whispered against Pineapple's ear, breath hitched.

'Hmm?' Renji murmured licking down Strawberry's neck receiving a moan.

'You know' he said between gasps and groans, fingers tangling in streams of red hair 'I never really got to hear you answer.'.