Rolling over on her side in the prickly grass next to him, Rukia studied Renji's strong profile and entertained an anxiety-ridden thought. One which had been popping into her mind more and more frequently since they'd come to the Seireitei and enrolled in the Shino Academy. It had nothing at all to do with their studies and everything to do with them – or what was left of their bond now that they weren't living together and were in such different classes, being taught at disparate rates. It struck her that their relationship needed to go beyond just fooling around a little here and there or she was going to lose him.

Renji seemed preoccupied, too, laying on his back staring into the distance. He didn't seem to notice the shift in her mood nor the pensive look on her face. They'd been talking a while about little things, complaining about their instructors and describing people they'd met. Renji had friends in each of his classes, students from all walks of life, and she could only mention in passing she'd finally learned her zanpakuto's name. Sode no Shirayuki had no opinion on this sort of thing she was considering. It wasn't going to kill her.

"Renji," she said, as she twisted a long grass stem she'd plucked in her fingers. "Do you ever think about having sex?"

After a few awkward moments of listening to nothing more than the crickets and the rustling of their own clothing, waiting for her words to sink in, Renji was done imitating a fish. His expression was made even more ridiculous by the odd markings that he'd recently had tattooed over his eyebrows. She blew her breath out heavily as he managed to splutter out a few words. "Rukia, did you just-"

"You mean you've never thought about it at all?" she asked, grinning like she thought about it all the time. She tickled his nose with the seed end of the grass stem.

He batted it away with more force than was really necessary and started to sit up. "Of course I have, but don't you think - isn't it a little soon?"

Rukia pursed her lips. "Well I didn't mean with – okay, so maybe I did mean you and me. I just wonder what it's like."

He pushed her shoulder roughly, though not enough to knock her over. "How could we even? I might squash you, you're so damn tiny. Idiot."

"You wouldn't because you think you'd squash me?" she laughed, and pressed herself closer against his warm side. "You didn't seem to have any problem tossing me down in the dirt to kiss me a few minutes ago."

"Tch - that's different. Besides we don't have a blanket or anything!" He complained, though Rukia caught a note of worry in his voice. This must have either been the last thing he'd expected her to bring up, or he'd been having similar thoughts and had his own ideas about how it should happen.

"It's not even cold out - the sun has barely set! Okay, forget I said anything," she grumbled, and started to move stand trying to hide that she was humiliated. She knew she'd surprised him, but he could have at least taken her more seriously.

Before she could slip away, he reached out and grabbed the white and red sleeve of her uniform effectively holding her in place. "I didn't say no," Renji scowled.

Rukia scowled back and then relented, her expression shifting to a mischievous grin like the one she wore back when she was playing the decoy as they robbed fruit carts in Inuzuri. He narrowed his eyes at that, like he was waiting to see what she'd shock him with with next.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, Rukia pressed her face into the sturdy fabric of his kimono, nose digging against the hard juncture of his collarbone and shoulder; she was struck again by how big he'd gotten, how wide his shoulders had become. As always he smelled of sweat, though he must have visited the baths after kendo practice; he wasn't unpleasantly pungent as he could sometimes get, and even smelled a little of orange and rosemary and crushed grass. She remembered the days when she could hug him standing up and her feet – tiny even then - would still be touching the ground, without him bending over.

"You're such a brute, maybe I should be worried," she said with her heart full of him, attempting to be playful, but ending up more teasing and harsh. It was always this way, her sharp tongue versus his violent tendencies. She'd be more uncomfortable if it weren't; if one of them went too far, the other always let them know it.

"Maybe you should," he said, with a quirk of his mouth, indicating he really was going to take her up on her offer. Bracketing Rukia's legs with his knees, his forearms on either side of her head, Renji settled over her, She was tense and nervous and her breath came fast and shaky; she leaned up and kissed him deeply, part distraction, part desire. Rukia's heart was beating so hard in her chest she thought they both must be able to hear it.

Her skin felt heated, so she knew she must be blushing from head to toe, as they took turns undoing the various ties on their uniforms. Soon, their clothes were spread out under them like a misshapen quilt. It was very dark, so Rukia couldn't see Renji as well as she wanted to, but even with every inch of his pale skin bared he didn't look as vulnerable as she felt. She wondered when he'd gotten so muscular, and when her leg brushed past the hot flesh between his legs, she got a sense of the size of his cock and had her first flutters of real trepidation. Rukia knew what it looked like when it wasn't hard and it hadn't seemed nearly so threatening.

"You're kind of big, Renji," she said, her voice a bit high, with alarm.

He raised his shoulder in a sort of half shrug. "Um, yeah. When did you notice?" He nipped at her neck, and poked her in the ribs, tickling her and making her cry out with laughter.

"I'm not sure," she giggled, blinking tears from her eyes, and he stopped tickling and started kissing and stroking her shoulders, quickly moving on to the small points of her breasts. Rukia knew he was trying to assuage her nervousness, and they were still in relatively familiar territory, but every new place he touched her, her muscles would jump and she'd giggle or gasp or shiver. Drawing similar responses from him was difficult when he was overwhelming her senses this way.

Renji couldn't seem to stop running his hands over her much smaller body, like she was a treasure he'd coveted and had to record every aspect of. If she could get him to turn over she'd be able to give him more attention - from below Rukia had a limited range of him. For the time being she settled for making him suck in his breath and moan as she used her tongue and teeth lightly on his sensitive ears, and more vigorously down the cords of his neck. She wondered if he ached the way she did at the cleft of her legs.

Rukia felt one of his big hands slide between her thighs and she lifted her right leg over his side. A noise somewhere between a gasp and a strangled scream erupted from her throat, with the intensifying pressure of his fingers slipping against the wet, sensitive flesh.

"You okay?" he asked, drawing his hand back over her stomach. His fingers were damp and left cool trails against her skin.

"Yes, keep going. It didn't feel bad, I-I'm just not used to it," Rukia stammered.

"You and me both," he snorted, and slid his hand down again, making her suck her breath through her teeth. She felt his fingers slip between the folds and over the opening there, and he seemed to enjoy the reaction he was getting from her, because he stroked her there until she was gasping and panting, pressing herself into his touch.

"I think you like that," he said and she could hear the grin in his voice.

"Yes!" she said, surprised at her own vehemence. If the next part hurt too much, maybe they could just go back to that. "Are you-"

Renji nuzzled her neck, putting his hands under her rear. "Lift your hips up a little," he said, and she did, tilting her hips towards his. "You're so damn short, Rukia, this is kind of awkward." His back was arched, so he could keep his face close to hers. He pushed himself between her hips hard.

"Pff, you-" she started to say, and then yelped loudly. He wasn't all the way in yet, and she was surprised he got that far.

"Rukia?" Renji, pulled away, alarmed at her cries.

"It's alright!" The sudden withdrawal took most of the pain with it, but she'd already made her mind up to go through with this.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes I'm sure. Try again." This time she gritted her teeth, and managed not to make much more than a squeak. It was big and he was big and covering her completely, inside of her and the flesh between her legs was painfully full. After a few moments she remembered to breathe, conscious of everything around her – the cool air, the crackling grass stems poking through the cloth beneath her back, Renji's shuddering breaths.

"I don't know how long this is going to last, Rukia. You're pretty damn tight," he said, pulled back though not all of the way out, and pushed in again. He went slowly, and though it took longer than she'd hoped, her body began to accommodate him, the pain fading and replaced with a growing tension. It was starting to feel good right when she heard Renji grunt and curse simultaneously, his whole body going rigid.

"Fuck!" He pulled out from her and a warm wetness flowed from between her legs moments later. Rukia hoped there wasn't blood, but she wouldn't have been surprised. She didn't smell blood. She wasn't concerned about conceiving, as far as she knew, only the nobles in Soul Society could have children.

Rukia was surprised at how empty and disappointed she felt once he withdrew himself. "Why did you stop?" she demanded.

"I came," he said, still on his hands and knees over her and breathing heavily. His face was a bit incredulous at her reaction. "A guy's cock goes soft pretty fast after that, dummy," Renji explained, embarrassed.

"Oh," Rukia said, although she knew perfectly well. She was more concerned with the knowledge that she was supposed to be able to come, too, and wasn't ready to go back to the dormitories. "Can we try again?"

"Give me a minute," he said, resting his forehead on her abdomen. "I still can't believe we're doing this."

"I'm glad we are though." Her body was still tingling and little sore, and the empty, incomplete feeling hadn't faded. "I never know when we'll be able have time alone."

"Yeah, kido exams are coming up. I'm supposed to be studying chants right now. I'm not complaining though."

"You're going to fail, if you try to show off," she teased.

"I'm not going to fail. I'm not going let Kira Izuru make me look like an idiot again." His expression had grown sullen, and so she drew him up for kiss. She noticed his topknot was slipping, and so she reached up and tugged the tie off, and his red hair spilled down his shoulders, strands brushing past her cheeks.

"You know what you should study?" she said.

"What?" Renji growled, annoyed that she was playing with his hair. He settled his head between her petite breasts, his upper body resting firm against hers, though he kept most of his weight on his elbows and forearms.

"How to make me come," Rukia said, as she ran her foot up and down the back of his thigh.

"Uh - maybe we should try it with you on top then," he said.

"Me on top?" It hadn't even occurred to her that they could do it that way. Most of Rukia's experience with sex had to do with avoiding prostitutes working in the alleys of Inuzuri, while managing to keep from ending up one them. "I guess it couldn't hurt to try."

Renji rolled onto his back, putting his arms behind his head. He grinned wide at her as she sat up and glanced over his lean, muscular body, admiring him. She leaned down to press her lips soft against his neck and crawled on top of him.