Okay, I'm going to be adventurous and try something new. Shakirie, this one is for you. :)

A few weeks ago, Shakirie sent me a request to write a ShuuRen story with a female OC. I've never written an OC before, so I do hope I won't disappoint you all.

Timeline-wise, this story is set after "Pride".

Chapter 1

"It's true! I'm telling you he really is, like, huge!" A short, dark-haired shinigami said indignantly. The small tattoo above his left eyebrow creased as he frowned, annoyed that his audience did not believe him.

A bespectacled girl looked at him skeptically. "How can you be so sure?" she said cooly, "From what I heard, it was dark when you saw them."

Rikichi face-palmed in exasperation. Who did she think she was, to question him like this? Sure, he was not yet a seated officer in the 6th division, but he was still her senpai. She had just graduated from the academy, for god's sake.

"Fine. You don't believe me? See for yourself, then," he said finally. Like people always say, seeing is believing. Since she wasn't convinced, well, he had no choice but to show her. He felt a little uneasy, though. Much as he wanted to impress her by showing that he was close to their vice captain, he didn't really like the idea of exposing the vice captain's private life like this. But what was a man to do?

The girl, whose name was Sato Akari, raised her eyebrow at the suggestion. "Fine," she said immediately. The subtle arrogance in her voice sent a wave of irritation through the boy.

"I'll come get you when they start," Rikichi said despite his feeling of apprehension. He would show her that he was close to their vice captain, his hero, the reason he had that tattoo on his forehead. Seated or not, Rikichi was not just any member of the 6th division. Why, he had even personally saved Abarai-fukutaicho once. His chest swelled as he recalled the gratitude and warmth on his vice captain's face as the man lay severely injured on the ground.

"Then I shall wait for you," Akari said. With that, she turned on her heels and left.

Rikichi stared at her back as the girl walked away. She was beautiful, he had to give her that; her jetblack hair tied back in a braid, her pale purple obi added a feminine touch to the standard-issue shihakusho. She was petite but not in the way that made her seem fragile; her strides radiated self confidence and elegance. Rikichi sighed wistfully. Surely she would see nothing in such a plain boy like he.

"Another late night?" Kira asked as Renji sank to the seat next to him.

The redhead shrugged, his expression a little glum. He had arrived late, and alone, to the dinner gathering at the little izakaya restaurant in Seireitei. Kira, Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Matsumoto were already halfway through their food.

Kira sighed inwardly. He made a mental note to talk to Shuuhei the next time he sees the man. Shuuhei, his best friend, was a very good person; responsible, soft spoken, loyal, dependable, to name a few of his qualities. Unfortunately, all that came with side effects that were not so desirable. Because of his strong sense of duty, and the fact that he was the acting captain of the 9th division, he felt obligated to work extra hard. And that meant that he spends most of his waking hours working. That in itself was not a bad thing, but Kira could see that it was putting a strain on Renji.

It wasn't easy to see yourself being placed second in your loved one's life, but that was exactly what Renji had to live with sometimes. Kira knew that Renji was very proud of his hardworking, well-respected lover, but it also hurt him at the same time. Their relationship did not begin smoothly; Shuuhei had tried to deny his feelings for the redhead for the longest time. He had even blatantly lied to Renji, telling him that he only thought of him as a friend. It was not until Shuuhei felt the pain of nearly losing Renji that the shield that Shuuhei had formed between them finally shattered. The reason Shuuhei had gone through all that trouble in the first place was that he truly believed that he would die in the coming war against Aizen, and he didn't want to burden Renji with his love when it would not last. But ironically, now that they finally had each other, it seemed that Shuuhei had forgotten how precious time was to both of them.

Kira knew Shuuhei enough to know that his friend wasn't doing this on purpose. It wasn't as if he didn't cherish his relationship with Renji; the man just wanted to fulfill his duty as an officer of the Gotei 13. It was an unfortunate situation; Shuuhei not realizing that he was making Renji feel neglected, and Renji too proud to admit it.

Renji wished that Kira would stop looking at him with that sympathetic expression on his face. Sure, he wished that Shuuhei would join them for dinner too, but Kira's gaze made him feel like a clingy lover, and he hated it. He could almost hear the man's thoughts: Oh, poor lonely Renji, he misses his lover.

Truth be told, he did miss Shuuhei. They were very happy together; when they had time, that is.

He wished they could have more time together, so he treasured and was fiercely protective of every moment that they had. Their sex life was amazing—Shuuhei was a wonderful lover; creative, attentive, sensual—but Renji sometimes felt like something was missing. There was so much to share, so much to talk about, just not enough time. He made extra efforts to create opportunities for them to spend time together, such as taking Shuuhei to Karakura town and waiting up late at night so that they would have some time alone after Shuuhei finished work. He knew that it wasn't all one-sided; Shuuhei spent whatever free moment he had with Renji. The problem was, Shuuhei didn't have many free moments. His dedication to the Gotei 13 made sure of that.

Renji sometimes grumbled about it in front of Shuuhei, but he knew it was something Shuuhei could not change. It would be like asking Renji not to risk his life to save his friends, or asking Ichigo to run from a battle. It was in their blood. Simple as that.

So he just accepted it.

To be continued...