Yes, yes. I know. But forget about those other stories for a bit. All shall be updated soon. -BxG

Chapter 1

"He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health,
a boy's love, or a whore's oath."

-Shakespeare, King Lear (III, vi, 19-21)

"...and in this post-Elizabethan period, all roles were played by males. Female roles were played by the less experienced or younger males, while the larger male roles fell to the older, practiced actors." The majority of the class wasn't really listening to Byakuya as he spoke; even he knew that. Nevertheless, there was always that one person that listened just out of spite, out of hope that they would catch a mess-up. If there wasn't one, they'd fabricate something in their twisted little heads that made it look like he was in the wrong.

He hated teaching.

"Just what are you implying, Byakuya-sensei," chirped Tatsuki from the front row of seats. "That females are easier to play, less complicated in their inner workings?" the boyish feminist frowned in her displeasure, and Byakuya sighed.

"Please don't put words in my mouth, Tatsuki-san. I said no such thing."

They continued their argument, Byakuya grudgingly trying to explain himself to avoid being reported for sexism and Tatsuki practically shouting at him for his honest mistake. This wasn't the first time this had happened; the class settled into it comfortably. Renji pulled out his phone, Ishida adjusted his glasses and pulled out some notes, and Grimmjow launched a perfectly folded paper airplane at that annoyingly neon orange head across the room.

Ichigo grit his teeth. The hell if that immature, cocky psycho would get a reaction out of him.

Byakuya began talking to the class again, and everyone fell silent.

"We will begin our study of Romeo and Juliet tomorrow, and I will post roles here in the morning."

Renji jumped out of his seat. "Sensei! The only girl in here is Tatsuki. You're really gonna make her play Juliet?"

Byakuya raised an eyebrow. "I don't believe you're in the position to question my judgment, Renji."

Renji's face slowly turned the color of his hair and he mumbled an excuse. Byakuya shuffled some papers on his desk, and Renji turned to Ichigo to hide his embarrassment.

"Oi, you comin' over tonight?"

Ichigo grinned, "You bet your ass; I'm gonna beat you into a pulp again, I'm just warning you ahead of time today."

"As if. It's payback time. You ridin with me?"'

Ichigo nodded.

"Sweet." Renji looked genuinely excited.

"Aww, aintcha gonna invite me?" teased a sonorous voice from behind Ichigo's back.

Ichigo tensed, his smile disappearing and a grimace taking its place. Renji turned and began talking to Ishida, not even bothering to acknowledge the existence of his friend's rival.

Dammit, Renji. Go ahead and abandon me, why don't ya?

"Fuck off, blue balls." Ichigo spat in Grimmjow's general direction.

Grimmjow ignored the audacious comment. "You heard what Byakuya said about the roles, yeah?"

Ichigo's eyes narrowed.

"But I don't know if you're ready to play Juliet just yet. Maybe you should stick to sewing dresses with your girlfriend." A blue-crowned head angled pointedly at Ishida and Ichigo felt his jaw pop at the force of his grinding teeth. But he stood his

ground, didn't let it show.

"You're right," he sighed, "Juliet is an insanely complicated role... Deflating your pride and submitting to someone utterly as a Shakespearian female is quite the task."

Grimmjow's thoughts snagged on the words submitting to someone utterly, and visions of Ichigo, high and mighty Ichigo, wide-eyed, on his knees, biting his lip, submitting began swimming through the delinquent's head. He snorted a laugh, trying to clear his vision, but saving those thoughts for later.

"I guess we're getting ahead of ourselves," blue eyes wandered around the room, trying to look nonchalant as he spoke. "We don't even know if you'll get a role. Maybe you'll end up backstage with a broom and a first-aid kit. The janitors can always use help, you know."

"And I'm sure you've secured your role as Romeo, right?" Ichigo wasn't trying to conceal his sarcastic smirk.

"Damn right, Kurosaki."

The redhead scoffed.

"You don't think I'm good enough?" Grimmjow adjusted his stance, looking the tiniest bit uncomfortable.

"No. I know you are." He also knew Byakuya wasn't stupid enough to give Grimmjow a role that would inflate his ego any more than it already was.

A blue eyebrow raised in curiosity.

"You won't get it."

"The hell I won't!" Grimmjow's fists were trembling and he hadn't even remembered closing them.

Copper eyes darted down to Grimmjows shaking hands and back up to his face, twisted with anger. Ichigo smiled, a playful, impish, half-smile that was practically begging for it.

Grimmjow wanted nothing more than to beat that smile right off his face. The simple thought of pounding Kurosaki's smug little face purple and blue was enough to give him physical relief.

Then his eyes locked with Byakuya's, halfway across the room.

Damn it all to hell.

He knew better than to start something in this room. There would be no pity after his multiple offenses over the years he'd had class here. Many of them started just like this, Ichigo egging him on then playing the innocent victim once they made it to the administrator's office. Naturally, Grimmjow was the bad guy. Naturally, Ichigo, perfect, quiet, A-student Ichigo never did anything wrong.

Well, fuck this.

"Class dismissed." Byakuya declared punctually, and Grimmjow was out the door before that fugly face could make him humiliate himself again.

"Shit!" Renji threw the controller against the wall in his rage, leaving a small dent in the hard surface.

"Oi, don't go breaking your own shit. How am I supposed to rape you if you don't even have a controller?" Ichigo smirked and took a swig of mountain dew before scrolling through options on the screen so he could kick Renji's ass yet again.

"Ya don't even have this game, and yer still winnin! How does that even work?" Renji huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

Brown eyes stayed glued to the moving screen as he spoke. "Oh, you mean you've played this before?" The way Ichigo's freckled nose crinkled teasingly with his grin didn't escape his friend's notice.

"Ichigo." Renji's tone was suddenly serious, and Ichigo's expression melted to questioning as he glanced over at his face.

Neither of them moved for a second, then Renji snorted.

"I'm hungry."

"Well! The loser's hungry all of a sudden! You sure you don't just want to get me away from the game, shitface?"

Ichigo was promptly tackled to the floor, Renji's dead weight digging his hip into the carpet, the padding beneath the carpet, the wood beneath that.

"Ow, fucker!"

"What'sa matter Ichi? If it's moving your fingers fast enough to win, that's just fine! But in real life, you're no fucking match for me, are you?" An arm twisted harshly behind Ichigo's back. "Are you?"

Ichigo grunted against the sharp pull, then swiftly flipped his body so that Renji's back hit the floor. An arm reached out to throw Ichigo off balance, but he caught it and suddenly Renji's hands were pinned above his head, Ichigo straddling his hips.

Oh fuck.

Ichigo leaned in close to his friends ear, Renji huffing out air from the bout of activity.

"Am I?" He uttered mischievously.

He allowed himself to be shoved off, laughing as Renji stood to his full height, thoroughly bristled.

"I need some grease." Renji dug through his pockets, pulling out a set of keys and sulking toward the door to his garage.

Ichigo giddily followed behind and plopped himself in the passengers seat while Renji revved the engine of his family's crappy hand-me-down car. It peeled out of the driveway just fine for its age.

"What time is it?" Ichigo wondered aloud, having been in Renji's car enough to know the analog clock on the dash didn't work.

Renji grumbled and lifted his hips off the seat mid-turn, pulling his phone from his pocket and handing it over.

The phone flashed in Ichigo's open hand, and he didn't think twice about opening the newly sent message.

"u busy?"

It was from Hisagi. Which was weird; the guy never spoke to Renji at school. Ichigo checked the time.

Now that's interesting. Someone Renji doesn't even talk to wants to know what he's doing at 2 am?

His eyes flashed to Renji, and his fingers moved quickly as he tapped out a reply.


Renji pulled up to a drivethrough and was ordering enough food to feed an army.

"u said u needed my help"

Ichigo's eyebrows pinched together in his effort to think this through, but his mind couldn't come up with a reasonable explanation.

"What the fuck, Ichigo?" Renji snatched his phone from his friends limp grasp. "Ya don't just go through someone's phone!"

"Renji," Ichigo's expression was concerned, and Renji turned away to grab the food out the window. "What did he mean, help?"

"I told you to mind yer own business." He bit harshly into a burger and tossed the bag into Ichigo's lap, staring straight ahead as he drove away.

"Goddammit, Renji! You haven't kept a secret from me since third grade! Or so I fucking thought!"

"S'not a secret!" He let a lungful of air out in a woosh. "Just fucking forgetta bout it!" He pulled the car over on the side of the road, the brakes squealing a bit as he did.

"I can help you, Renji." He muttered pathetically. This sort of delicate situation wasn't Ichigo's forte, but if his friend needed help, he'd try his damndest to be there for him.

Renji drew another ragged breath, and turned to face his friend with a much softer expression gracing his features.

"Please. Please let me have this one privacy. I'm begging you."

Innocent chocolate eyes widened at the sudden seriousness.

"O...Okay." He mumbled. What else could he say?

The car pulled back on the road, and after a moments silence, they struggled to settle in to their normal conversation.

"You gonna help me eat all this or am I just gonna turn into a fatass by myself?" Renji grumbled.

Ichigo dug into the bag until his hand met the warmth of a burger, and he handed Renji another before tearing into one himself.

Nothing like binge eating to clear your head.

Ichigo's hand dug to the bottom of the paper bag, pulling the last of the fries out and shoving them in his regretful mouth.

"S'late," He mumbled through the mouthful of greasy, crunchy, salty goodness. "Take me home, Sebastian."

Renji rolled his eyes and turned in the direction of his own home.

"Renji... We have school tomor-"

"If it's your old man, you know I can handle it. Any other reason and I'm dragging your ass back to my place anyway."

An orange head hit the back of the seat dejectedly. He didn't really care. He liked Renji's house; not getting attacked first thing in the morning was, without a doubt, much more pleasant than his home experience.

"I get the soft pants." He asserted anyway.

Renji laughed. If having Ichigo over meant he had to part with his favorite pajama pants for one night, so be it.

"They're yours."

Ichigo made sure he was first to get in bed; no way in hell he was staying over against his will and sleeping on the couch in the same day.

"Oh, I see how it is." Renji grumbled, rubbing a towel over his dripping hair. "First you use up all the hot water, take my favorite pants, now you steal my bed?"

"Oh, get over it. You're the one who dragged me here."

"I don't recall ya kickin and screamin."

"I'm not gonna be able to wake up in the morning." Ichigo grumbled, plopping his dead weight down on the bed.

"I'll wake you up." He was assured.

"I don't understand how you get up so early without dying halfway through the day."

"What can I say? I'm an animal."

"Nghh." Ichigo mumbled incoherently.

Renji grabbed a blanket off the bed and threw himself on the lounger across the room, snickering as Ichigo's face fell stupidly into unconsciousness, and not really able to stop himself from looking.

He watched as his own thin white t-shirt slid slowly, bit by bit over tan hips with each drowsy inhale until a strip of soft-looking exposed skin made him turn and face the wall uncomfortably.

He threw the blanket on the floor.

Damn thing was too hot.

Oh my God why was it so cold?

Ichigo clutched the blankets like his life depended on them, shivering violently beneath them, though too exhausted to do anything else about it. His toes felt like ice, his fingers ached from lack of bloodflow. He drifted in and out of dreams, curled

in the fetal position, unsure if he was really feeling the bed shift underneath him.

Yes, it most certainly was moving, springs creaking under the weight of a new person.

A hand pressed against his cheek, checking his temperature.

"Mom?" He questioned childishly, his heart sinking at the impossibility of what he had just said.

There was suddenly a mass of heat pressing against his back, and he instinctively turned to absorb it.

"Go back to sleep." A deep voice rumbled somewhere above his head.

He was only too happy to obey.

Well, this was awkward.

Seven O'clock had come around, Renji waking abruptly by his reputable internal clock.

He had no idea what he had been thinking; it had been so late, and Ichigo's shivering had sounded so loud in his quiet room. And he'd looked so cold.

So, you know, he thought he'd make up for being a secretive bastard earlier.

Plus, he didn't really mind the prospect of sleeping in the same bed with him. At all. But he was sure Ichigo's thoughts on the matter would be different. Though, unconsciously, he didn't seem to mind; Ichigo's arm was wrapped around Renji's waist,

face relaxed in contentment. Renji was tempted to let him keep sleeping through the afternoon, but he'd get so much shit for it once the beast woke.

He carefully slipped out of Ichigo's grasp; no response.

"Oi, princess. Wake up." He pulled the blanket off with one fast pull.

"Nngggh." Ichigo curled into a ball again, eyes squeezed tight.

Renji pulled two pairs of jeans from a drawer and threw one at Ichigo's head.

He peeked out from beneath the fabric, eyes a rich mahogany from squinting away from the light of the window.

"I change my mind," Ichigo groaned. "M'skipping class today."

"Like hell," Renji pulled the jeans over his hips, buttoning them swiftly. "You ordered a wake-up call, get your ass out of bed." He gripped Ichigo by the wrists and yanked him off the bed. Ichigo wobbled on his feet a little before standing semi-upright. He picked the jeans up off the floor and his brow furrowed in confusion. How had Renji gotten dressed without him noticing it? He wasn't conscious enough to question it, or ask Renji to get out of his own room so he could get dressed. He trudged off to the bathroom instead.

Renji threw Ichigo's clothes from yesterday in his bag, and grabbed his own bag, throwing them both in his car.

Ichigo staggered out of the bathroom, sleep still evident in his eyes. It looked good on him, hair ruffled and clothes a wrinkled mess. He still had that thin white shirt on and it clung to him like it was soaking wet. Renji turned away from that image and started his car up again. Ichigo joined him.

"You hungry?" Renji asked, pulling out of the driveway.

Ichigo shook his head. It felt like they had just eaten, and he was never hungry when he woke up to begin with. And if he was going to school anyway, he didn't want to be late.

Renji wasn't particularly hungry himself; he just wanted to drag out his time before he had to go to class.

He reluctantly turned into his parking space, shut off the engine and handed Ichigo his bag.

"Renji." Ichigo breathed as they made their way toward the school.


"Does it feel...does it feel like people are watching us?"

Renji hadn't noticed. He looked around and met the stares of a group of girls standing around their car. He glanced the other direction and happened to see Ishida grit his teeth and look away.

"What the f-"

"RENNNNJIIII!" Keigo's whiny voice pierced his ears and Ichigo made a run for it.

"Cya Renji!" Ichigo yelled, running in the direction of his class. The little shit.

"Renji, congratulations!"

He hadn't the slightest idea of what Kiego was talking about.


What, indeed?

Well-written reviews are my air, and I'm suffocating. Criticism is seriously lacking, so please add something I can fix in there with that "MOOAR".

I Loo~ve my readers ~:D