NiuNiu Note:

This is something I have wanted to write for a long time. Kind of like my dream. I really like both Renji (who has been my favourite ever since his first appearance! ^____^ ) and Inoue so naturally I wanted to stick them into a same story.

This specific chapter has been waiting for publishing already few months, since originally I was planning to do just one chapter long story. Apparently the fic was starting to form for a longer version than expected, so I cut it down. It means that more chapters can be expected in the future!

If there are any grammar mistakes or typos (which usually hide perfectly from me even thought I try to hunt them down before submitting) I apologize. For the grammar I need to admit for the new readers of mine that English isn't my mother language and there's no translation machine for more than one word per time in the net. I sincerely hope you would ignore all the mistakes I have happened to make and concentrate on the story itself.

Disclaimer: This fic is made purely fanmade and I don't own any of the mentioned character, nor the Bleach. Made just for pleasing readers, not for selling.

Enjoy!

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The chilly night air caressed Inoue's hair, making orange colored fine locks brush her cheeks every now and then. It wasn't that windy, actually, but the hastened pace that kept her going forward made the thin air whirl around her stern face. Keeping her pace without even noticing it Inoue huffed angrily eyes tightly closed. She needed to walk away – far away – for a moment. Her empty home felt even emptier, walls crying without words, rooms getting bigger and more shallow every passing moment. It wasn't the place for her to be, not now. Maybe this whole dimension was totally wrong place for her. Or then she was just the wrong person to be.

Finally, when the cutting pain under her soles yelled Inoue to give them some rest she stopped. Inoue bend down to take support from her thighs and breathed deeply, feeling suddenly being out of breath. It felt almost like she would have been jogging, though she had just walked with very quick steps all the way to the near park's another side from her home.

Standing back up Inoue forced the bitter taste away from her throat. No, this was not like her, not like her at all. She didn't felt like this, never. She was the happy-go-lucky person, always sunny and positive over every issue and every situation. Even when she had been captured and imprisoned to Las Nochés she had kept her spirit lightened up.

But now, no matter how hard she tried the only feeling Inoue felt was huge sadness. Deep dark void that sucked her in to it's nasty embrace.

Walking away from the sandy path Inoue sat down to the grass, adjusting her yellow dress with orange flower decoration on the hem under her butt. The grass was already bit moisture from the night, but Inoue didn't care. Taking a deep relaxing breath she took her sandals of from bare feet and rubbed the sore spot just under her toes. Why she ever took sandals with her, she didn't know, but Inoue noticed the chilly night grass felt awfully nice under her aching, hot soles. Inoue leaned backwards to her hands, inhaling the nice air deep down to her body. The moon on the sky was full and round reflecting pale light down the city. Inoue felt quite bad the parks lights took most of the fascinating tone of the moon light away, but she was still happy to see the moon. She always liked the moon.

"Listen, mister Moon", Inoue began with soft, silent voice. She had this habit of talking to someone when she felt bad and since it was already rather late Inoue didn't want to make phone call to Tatsuki. Not that she would have been carrying her cell phone with her. Inoue had left her home so fast she barely remembered to put some shoes on.

"I know you must be all tired up listening my stories and worries, yet….few days ago.. I.. something happened and I….". Words died on her lips, choking the little life away. Inoue's gaze was empty, big eyes stoned in one place. The moisture started to paint her eyes into small diamonds, shining in the moon light. Why it was so hard to say out loud? Not that it would make any difference if she said it. What was done was done, there was no changing coming, she knew it. Pulling her slim legs against her body Inoue entwined her arms around bare knees and sighed, eyes closed. One of the long back held tears ran down to the corner of her mouth. Who was she fooling? She had known this day coming, sooner or later. The young man who had the most important thing for her, like the main priority in Inoue's life, had turned his back to her, setting smiling gaze on someone other. She wanted to be happy for him, wanted to be happy for her friend – no, for both friends who had found each others in romantic way – but still it stabbed her tiny heart. It was like a butterfly with cut wings.

Opening her eyes again Inoue took another thoughtful, long look at the moon. How happy the moon must be! There was always the sun for her, no one even planning to rob his warming glory from her. Thought they met rarely Inoue was still sure the moon and the sun saw each others every now and then and had fun together. Pressing her wet cheek against her knees Inoue closed her eyes and sighed sadly. She was a hopeless romantic.

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"Inoue! Inoue!"

The sudden wincing movement that shook her like a small earth quake snapped Inoue's eyes open. Something pressed hard against her upper arms, her hair waving before her eyes by the force of the shook. Mumbling something she didn't know herself either Inoue tried to make that movement go away.

"Inoue?"

That voice… It sounded too familiar… Shaking her head Inoue rubbed the dizzy feeling away from her half opened eyes and looked to the direction of the voice. It came just before her.

"Inoue, are you OK?"

Pair of pensive dark eyes stared her back, hint of worrying toning them softer than usual. Inoue noticed being forced to sit up with strong hold on her upper arms. It was aching feeling and yelping she jump to sit up.

"A---Abarai-kun?"

The man before her sighed in relief, letting her go.

"Thank god, you almost gave me a heart attack…." he shook his head eyes closed before nailing his intensive look back to Inoue again. She couldn't help a small worrying feeling.

"Abarai-kun… What happened….?"

His eyes went wide.

"That's what I was hoping to know! Or do you have some secret habit of lying around parks' ground at chilly nighttime wearing only summer dress, with bare feet and all?"

The sensation of embarrassment colored Inoue's face pink. A nervous giggle with hand covering her lips was heard. Inoue pulled her legs closer her body. She was too ashamed to look at Renji at all.

"Ummm… I'm sorry… I guess I just.. fell asleep, that's all….." she stammered with closed eyes, trying to look that she was sorry. And she was, making Renji worry for no reason.

Renji leaned back, crossing his arms. His head cocked to right, headphones popping lightly around his neck. The fine amount of red hair falling down under his dark headscarf framed his tattooed neck and slightly acute face features. An odd chuckle escaped from his sneering mouth.

"You're just a one damn girl, aren't you? Be lucky it was me who found you here out cold instead of some perv rapist." he spoke with dark tone, causing Inoue mentally step back. Her head dropped down, browns knitting together. She felt like being lectured by older brother, but she wasn't mad. Inoue knew Renji spoke the truth. She should be happy.

"Thank you, Abarai-kun", Inoue answered quietly being still ashamed of her own stupid nature. Renji's warmhearted snuffing chuckle made clear he wasn't angry. His large palm patted Inoue's slim shoulder encouraging.

"Come one. You catch a cold soon if you hang in the chilly grass in that sun dress." With that Renji raised up, his look never leaving from Inoue. She suddenly felt herself being ashamed – yet again. Of course, the cold, flue, whatever. It should be obvious but Inoue had completely forgotten the health hazard. Trying to mumble at least one thanks or something like it Inoue grabbed Renji's reached arm and let him help her to stand up. She was still ashamed and when brushing grass and some leaves out from her dress Inoue only hoped she would NOT to be this stupid all of the time.

Renji was able to see the girl before him tried to cover up her inner self. It was so Inoue-like. Not to reveal all, but fighting back. Acting braver than she was. Despite the fact it was so obvious Inoue was embarrassed and in a bad mood Renji decided not to bring it up. Instead he shifted his weight to another leg, spreading arms into a relaxed gesture.

"Care for a little company of this red head? I can walk you back home."

Renji's suggestion brought quickly life to Inoue, who turned to face Renji, waving her small palms in the cool air. Her facial expression was surprised in a unique way. The face she usually gave when surprising.

"No, Abarai-kun! … I mean you don't have to, I'll be fine…! I just fell asleep an---"

"Phwh! Like I would let you wander here alone at this time of the night", he waged his hand restlessly.

"…But you surely have your own things to do…." Inoue stated but was quickly shut off by Renji. He turned his back to Inoue and showed his hands down to his worn leather jacket's pockets, shrugging his board shoulders.

" A Little night walk never kills", he muttered casually, yet warm tone in his voice. Stepping slowly and firmly forward his walking urged Inoue to follow him. Hastily Inoue pulled his feet back to her green sandals and caught the red haired man with few running steps. She staid a bit behind Renji, not feeling like walking just next to him, her hands glued together. The air made Inoue's fingers to sting a bit but she didn't notice it. Her head was full of other issues, sad issues that pained her soul. Head bowed down she just followed Renji' s footsteps, mostly by her hearing than by a vision. It was easy to hear how the sand made it's personal noise under every step.

She didn't know how long the silence between them had lasted – actually she didn't remember much from the walk at all – but quite soon she realized seeing her apartment ahead. The front door welcomed them silently, street lights painting eerie colors on the house's textures. The little time they usually had free from Hollow hunting and world saving was nice to spend at home, but right now Inoue was – perhaps the first time since her brother's death – unwilling to step inside. Straightening her back Inoue took a determined look on her face, lips squeezing together into a thin line. She composed all the inner energy she had to but happier look on her, just a moment before they reached the front door. Renji turned around, facing Inoue over his shoulder.

"Here we are."

"Um, thank you, Abarai-kun".

"It's Renji".

Inoue nodded hastily realizing it was actually quite stupid to call his name so formally, like she wouldn't have already met him. Well, to be honest, Renji usually hanged around Ichigo or Rukia (or both of them), so Inoue didn't have that good idea of him. Some sense of his personality, but not much. For her Renji was someway half unfamiliar.

"Say.."

His voice made Inoue raise her gaze from her feet up to him.

"Would you mind if I used the bathroom?" Renji asked scratching back of his head. "I wouldn't like to bother you at this time of the night, but.."

"No, it's fine Ab---Renji-kun. Just a second, I open the door."

With that Inoue walked away, leaving Renji stand alone before the door, rather surprised look on his face. He heard some mumbling and grunting behind the house, followed with a small crashing sound, which almost made Renji to jump after Inoue, but before he was able to move more than little switching, Inoue returned from the backyard. She was carrying a small wooden stool, smiling in apologizing manner.

"Ah, just a moment….." she muttered smilingly and placed the stool just under the front door's light. Stepping on the rather wobbling chair Inoue reached her arm up the lamb, searching something blind folded from top of it. Legs shaking to keep the balance Inoue moved carefully down from the chair, holding little metallic key.

"I'm sorry. I forgot my keys. The extra key is rather hard to reach for me, the lamb is so high", she stated while turning the key in the lock. Renji beside her cocked his head.

"I could have picked it from there for you. It's not that high…"

Duh! Inoue mentally slapped herself. Of course, now she had just made herself look even more stupid with the stool and all, when the TALL man was standing beside her. Renji would have snatched the key with one hand movement, how didn't she think that at all? How this bad karma just followed her like this?! Cheeks pink after hearing Renji's statement Inoue opened the door, trying to come up with some kind of explanations like Renji was the guest now and it was her home and her key and she shouldn't bother her guest with the key picking and all that kind of stuff. Renji snickered little when pushing by Inoue deeper in the dark apartment.

"Where can I help myself?"

"Just straight forward and then to the left. Bathroom's over there", Inoue guided him and switched the lights on. The old light bulb made a soft buzzing sound when turning on, slowly getting brighter. Leaving his boots to the hall Renji navigated himself to the bathroom. Inoue on the other hand walked slowly, almost like being beaten, to the kitchen and poured cold water into the red water heater and turned it on. She really needed some tea now, or no, not perhaps tea but hot chocolate. With whipped cream and mustard in it. The mustard gave a nice spicy taste to the chocolate. How come others didn't like it?

Inoue dragged herself to the living room and crashed down to the floor on pillows, leaning her upper body to the sofa. She let her head bend backwards and closed eyes. A long, sad exhale filled the air until it was silent again. Only the boiling sound from the kitchen was heard. She decided hit the bed right after the hot chocolate and try to get some sleep. Last few nights had been so restless and shallow Inoue hoped she would be able to sleep now. And sleep without nightmares. Sighing again she lifted her head, pulled her knees up to her chin and let her head sank on to them. The orange hair covered her facial expression, which was filled with dullness and dark mood. Still keeping her eyes closed Inoue tried to chase all those bad feeling away by concentrating on the water heater's sound. Why couldn't she be like the water heater, like a machine, with no emotions, easily switched from mood to another with one pushing of a single button? Tatsuki always laughed at her deep thoughts like this, but she was honestly serious. Why not be like a machine? They didn't have social issues with boys or friends, love or hate, fear or happiness. They just were and perhaps they were just happy, since they just… were. Maybe in the next life she could be born as a water heater. At least then she would be helpful to someone and someone would need her, she would make someone happy just like the little red water heater made her happy right now, promising the hot chocolate was just minutes away from her lips. Right now she was just a burden, damn stupid idiot who had no meaning in life.

The heavy feeling came down to Inoue's shoulders, jerking her eyes open. Shifting her head a bit she was able to see between the long orange locks Renji straightening himself up, looking quite boggled.

"….. Sorry, I thought you fell asleep again…."

Then Inoue noticed Renji was standing there right next to her with t-shirt on that revealed his upper arm tattoos. The leather jacked rested nicely on Inoue's upper body, covering her like a little duvet. Inoue only smiled weakly, shaking her head against the knees. Her arm pulled the edge of the jacket closer.

"No, I just closed my eyes for a moment…."

Renji was relieved to see Inoue didn't freak out screaming him to get the dirty fabric off her (though on the other hand would Inoue ever act like that in the first place?). He scratched his head bit awkwardly for a second until loud clicking sound echoed from the kitchen. Inoue shifted under Renji's jacket, still hugging her legs.

"Hmm, now I can finally have some hot chocolate", she sighed sounding at least a bit happy, eyes closed and stretched her arms forward like a sleepy cat.

"Would you like to have some, too?"

At first Renji was about to say "no thank you", but sensing the girl really needed some company now he agreed to stay for a while. Besides, this hot chocolate was something new for him. Hopefully it tasted better than that black poison called coffee….

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