Title: Compression

Pairing: Renji Abarai/Byakuya Kuchiki

Rating: M [language, mild gore, potential smut]

Warnings: Yaoi, harebrained plot thread.

Summary: AU. A pair of elite homicide detectives finds that their partnership is about to evolve…drastically. Fans of crime drama, ballroom dancing, and canon, beware.

A/N: This is a clear testament to watching too much television...I apologize in advance. Many thanks to leila-blue, who graciously agreed to beta this tale!

Chapter One

"Hell no, man. I can't bend like that!"

Long fingers raced over the keys, composing a report wholly unrelated to the conversation drawing closer by the second.

"I'm not kidding; if I so much as try, I'll end up in traction."

A pause, a snort. Byakuya heard the hiss of the coffee pot as it was placed back on the warmer too hastily, liquid sloshing over the rim.

"Yeah, yeah, but she's been at it since before she learned to walk." Red hair peaked through the blinds shielding the office from the common area-cum-break room. "Makes me wonder about you, though. Men's hips shouldn't move that way."

A bright, brassy laugh cut through the bullpen and echoed in the formerly quiet room. Byakuya rolled his eyes. His subordinate's disregard for his own privacy [and squad policy] made it hard not to eavesdrop, though entertainment value alone explained why his cell phone hadn't been confiscated yet.

"Whatever. I'll think about it." The door started to open. "Six? Probably not. Some of us have real jobs and can't just duck out… you in leather? Well, that changes everything!"

Renji chuckled and propped the door open with his backside. Phone tucked under his ear, coffee in one hand, and a weighty stack of files in the other.

"Yeah, don't hold your breath. I'll call you if I change my mind." The tall man nudged the door shut with his hip and winced. "See? I can't even close shit without landing my ass in a sling! Talk to you later," he half chortled, half growled as the phone slid into his breast pocket.

The older man peeked over his glasses as his typing continued unabated. The redhead straightened, then canted his pelvis away from the door with a grunt.

"Like I said, I'm not built for that shit."

It was when he noticed the dapper man watching him that he flushed furiously.

"Good morning, Lieutenant Abarai."

That Byakuya could tease him yet look and sound no different only made it worse. Renji made to slap himself, but stopped short of dousing himself with coffee.

"Mornin,' Captain."

Platinum eyes flitted back to the laptop, twinkling in amusement. Grumble deflating into a sigh, the young man marched over to his crowded desk and deposited the files on the pile closest to his own computer. Sniffing his coffee, he relocated his phone into a back pocket, but not before glaring at it. After several moments of eyeing his quiet companion, he sighed again and dropped his head.


"Hmm?" The raven-haired man looked up and took in the broad-shouldered figure, currently slouching and attempting to shrink into himself.

"Dancing," Renji repeated, "Hisagi and some of the girls from the paper have been going out lately, hitting some of the bars uptown and the ballroom on Fifth that was supposed to have closed last year. They dragged me with 'em once, saying how much fun it was, and I just didn't get it."

"Didn't 'get' what?" The senior officer's tone was cool as always; he may as well have been conducting an interrogation.

"The whole thing. I can shake my ass as well as the next guy, but the moves and the speed were completely beyond me. Salsa, meringue- it all sounds like food to me, and I couldn't tell one dance from the next and…nevermind."

The redhead sunk into his chair, head now tilted back and jamming his ponytail into the headrest.

"This troubles you," the captain ventured.

Crimson eyes popped open, slowly panning to the source of the statement. Byakuya had removed his reading glasses, wire frames placed besides his carefully folded hands. He peered at Renji intently, and the tattooed man straightened up in surprise.

"Uh, yeah."

"You are not easily frustrated."

"No, I guess not." Renji's hands landed on his armrests, less comfortable with analysis of his feelings than he would have been with the summary dismissal he expected. "I'm used to picking up things pretty quickly- physical things, at least."

Byakuya almost smiled, as paperwork loomed large in both of their minds as something that Abarai had most definitely not picked up quickly.

"And thus, your friend's invitation concerns you."

"Yeah. Shuuhei says there's a class before the dancing starts on Thursday, but I think it'll take more than an hour for me to be willing to try again in public."

"Surely there are other classes available?"

"I guess, but I'd feel even weirder going by myself."

Byakuya closed his eyes, a look Renji associated with deep contemplation and therefore inexplicable given their current conversation.

"Most classes welcome individuals, though couples may still attend."

"Really? Hmm."

"Some find it a useful way to meet other people."

It took a minute for Renji to understand the implication of that statement; a light blush dusted his cheekbones again.

"Ah, I'm not really…looking…I mean… not like…" the younger man trailed off.

"I did not mean to imply you were." Byakuya paused, weighing his words carefully. "I simply wanted to suggest a way you might hone your skills in a more comfortable setting."

"Oh! Sorry, Kuchiki-keibu, I didn't mean it like that. I…I appreciate the thought, though."

Silence blanketed the office as the two men sat, lost in their own thoughts. The wall clock ticked solemnly as Renji turned back to the slighter man.

"You said there were other classes in town? Any near the station?"

"There is a reputable studio six blocks East, by the pizzeria with the large neon sign," Byakuya began as Renji nodded. "The proprietor charges no fee for the first session."


Renji turned on his monitor, opening the browser and typing in the address.

"Sougyo no Kotowari?"

"Mm-hmm," Byakuya reclaimed his spectacles as he reviewed his report. Adding a summary line for the sake of completeness, he saved the document before printing it. Standing and turning towards the newly generated page, he noticed the younger man now watching him, chin in hand.

"So…" Renji drawled, a lazy grin creeping over his face.

Byakuya rolled his eyes, knowing that look well. "You wish to leave early today?"

"Nah." The lopsided grin widened as Byakuya failed to mask his surprise. "There's a class tonight, but it's not 'til seven."

"Oh." The slender man sat down, smoothly swiveling his chair towards the redhead and awaiting whatever bizarre request was sure to follow.

"Wanna come with me?"

Byakuya deposited the paper in his outbox before letting his fingertips rest on the blotter before him. Did Renji know that he practically purred at him? Did he do that on purpose? The elder kept his expression blank as his mind regrouped, silence stretching out to an uncomfortable degree.

"Very well, but on one condition."

Renji's victorious whoop was cut short.

"You must finish your reports on the cases closed last week," Byakuya nodded at the stack on the other's well-obscured desk.

"I'm on it, boss," the redhead grinned wolfishly, tossing the top folder open with panache.

Turning back to his laptop, Byakuya observed the other's reflection in the glass of his desk. Renji stuck a pen behind his ear and bit his lips as he scanned the page, a look of pure concentration on his face.

We may find your desktop before long, Abarai.

Contented, the detective went back to his work.

Earlier assertions aside, Abarai Renji was dancing in the break room.

Bopping happily and completely unaware of himself, he filled his Styrofoam cup while his incisors sank slightly into the fritter he had so jubilantly shoved into his mouth moments earlier.

"Dude, you win the lottery or somethin'?"

The redhead jumped, sending weak coffee arcing to his left while the pastry shifted perilously close to his airway. He coughed, sputtered, and turned a brighter crimson than his hair.

His inquisitor laughed, loudly; the man looked like a puppy caught in the midst of shoe destruction.

"Damn, strawberry, way to give a guy a heart attack," Renji choked.

"Nah, anybody with eyes woulda already stroked from watchin' you. Since when're you so cheery at work?"

Since I achieved the impossible, wiseass. I will see Inspector Kuchiki dance, and the world will come to an end.

"Seriously, dude, are you high? You're creepin' me out…" Ichigo mused, taking a step back with dramatic flourish.

"Shut it. A man can enjoy his work." And the thought of seeing the ice prince melt…or at least thaw a bit…

The detective finally shook himself out of that train of thought, assessing the damage to the apple fritter in his grasp.

"Right-o, you getting excited about deskwork. You're up to something."

Ichigo scratched at his hair before settling back against the counter, squinting at his friend.

"Yeah, whatever; you only strike that pose when you're fishing. Whatcha doin'?"

The younger man sighed. "Trolling. Things've been slow this week."

"Don't I know it- that's why I'm trying to catch up while the lull in cases lasts." Renji nibbled at the corner of the confection experimentally. "S.W.A.T.'s probably up to something."

"Oh, hell no." Ichigo paled slightly and straightened, looking around anxiously. "I'd go cover traffic court before crossing paths with Scarface again."

"Scarface?" Renji's eyes widened as a chuckled around a mouthful of donut. "Ooh, Zaraki'll like that. I'll tell him next time I-"

"Don't you dare, pineapple head."

The two scowled at each other for a long moment before dissolving into laughter.

"Still, I'd love to see his face. First-rate reporters aren't afraid to take risks, you know," Renji winked.

"Yeah yeah. I'll run that by the nutcase the same day you bare your soul to the ice princess."

"Shut the fuck up, Kurosaki."

Ichigo fingered his lanyard idly while the redhead chomped at his donut in silence.

"Damn, Renji."

He swallowed, channeling the sudden urge to growl into slurping down the still-steaming coffee.

"You've got it bad, man." Sympathy shone in the youth's warm brown eyes as he shook his head, then nodded in the direction of the closed office door. "Making any progress?"

"Some; now he only turns into an ogre when you're around. Thanks for that," the assistant inspector managed with a frown.

"I do what I can. Someday I'll irritate him enough that he cracks and reveals his alien nature, and then you'll really thank me," Ichigo deadpanned.

"As long as you bear the brunt of the death ray, I don't care."

"Gee, thanks. I'm taking Rukia out tonight, so you might wanna slip him some tranquilizers or somethin'."

"You really are nuts," Renji chuckled gruffly. I'll do my best to distract him anyway, though, with pleasure.

Seeing his friend frozen mid-chew, Ichigo waved a hand before his face.

"Hey, you're doing it again," the tow-head smirked, poking him in the forehead. "You really are up to something."

"None of your business, berry," Renji mumbled around the last of the pastry. "I gotta get back to it."

"That's right, slacker. Hey," Ichigo began stalking off, "you comin' out to the ballroom this week?"

"Oh, for the love of all things..." the pineapple groaned, "not you, too?"

"Not my idea, man. The midget wouldn't let me be until I agreed to it."

"They're all out to get us," Renji commiserated, blithely lumping Hisagi Shuuhei in with the seething mass of femininity plaguing him that day.

"Don't I know it. See ya," the berry disappeared down the hall, one hand raised in a wave.

Topping off his coffee, the redhead crept back in to the office he shared with his superior officer, closing the door as silently as possible.

"What news from Kurosaki?"


"Nada; slow news week, from the sound of it."

"Indeed." Kuchiki continued to type, posture perfect and eyes glued to his screen. If Renji squinted a bit, he could superimpose the razor-straight form onto the shadowy memory of his high-school typing teacher. Minus the heels and low-cut blouse, though. The lieutenant remembered well-tailored skirts and mentally kicked himself.

There's nothing remotely feminine about him...except the school-marm-ish way he peeks over the top of his glasses as he types. And maybe the flowing, sweet smelling hair. Oh, hell.

"Abarai, are you in a food coma?"

"Eh?" Renji fought the emerging laugh that threatened as the formal man tried out a new colloquialism.

"Your stupor; I presume it is doughnut related?"

"Oh, no," the younger man lied, "gave 'em up. Not in the mood for junk food anymore."

"I see." Platinum eyes did not lift from the laptop. "In that case, straighten your tie and get back to work."

"Yes, sir," Renji mumbled, stalking over to the tiny square mirror by his desk.

His tie was unscathed, but his face was not; a large crumb with frosting clung to his chin. Quickly removing [and eating] the evidence, he met the inspector's eyes in the glass.

"Dammit," Renji grunted, whirling away and flopping in his chair. "Why d'ya ask if ya already know?"

Byakuya looked at him, amusement shining in his eyes.

"Because your expressions are priceless," the elder drawled.

"Glad you're enjoying this." Renji, lacking a better response, stuck out his tongue and turned back to his keyboard, typing his password in as irritably as possible.

"Is that boy still taking Rukia out tonight?"

"Um." The carrot-top's fingers slowed.

"I take that as a 'yes,' then."

"Uh, yeah." Why I try to keep anything from him, I will never know.

"You need not worry," Byakuya went on in his usual monotone. "I have given him permission."

"Oh." Maybe you are an alien replacement. That would explain why you're willing to go out with me. Well, not really with me…oh, for fuck's sake. Take out your death ray and kill me now.

"Didn't see that coming," Renji eventually replied when his brain recovered.

"I suppose not," the captain said evenly, not looking up. "Though Rukia is more exacting than I."

Don't know about that…though she is more prone to violence. Renji's mind retreated to a happy place where Rukia was chasing Ichigo around with a shoe, a vignette from their first date's aftermath. It then flowed effortlessly to Byakuya threatening him with a ruler. Things then deteriorated, and school-marm Kuchiki was beckoning to him, having handed over the ruler. Spanking, perhaps?

"Oh God," Renji groaned, covering his face quickly with his hands and nearly head-butting his computer monitor.

"As I said, your expressions are priceless."

Renji couldn't help but grin at the near-smirk on his superior's face. He didn't mind playing the clown for Byakuya; the man's freezing contempt had waned over time, and the assistant-inspector came to take pride at eliciting emotions from the rigorously stoic detective. Kuchiki, for his part, seemed to appreciate his efforts, now only half-heartedly scolding what he once would have punished.

"I'm glad my talents are finally being appreciated."

"That they are," Byakuya said with a sigh, once again getting lost in his work.

Renji's lopsided grin widened.

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