Thank you all who have been following me along this journey! I present to you, the citrusy ending of "Don't Run". Hope you'll like it. :)

Ichigo tensed up when he felt the warmth from Renji's lips. Oh, how he had longed for this contact! But he couldn't, shouldn't...

Renji sensed his discomfort and pulled away. "Are you still not convinced that we'll be okay?" he asked, cupping Ichigo's face and dragging a thumb across the boy's wet cheek.

"I can't afford to lose you," Ichigo said, averting his gaze to hide his tears. "I want you alive, even if it means I can only be your friend." He reached up and wrapped his fingers around Renji's wrist. He tried to pull the hand away from his face, but Renji refused to budge.

"But I can't live like this, don't you understand?" Renji asked, resting his forehead against Ichigo's. "I can live for a hundred more years, but it would be meaningless."

Ichigo closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "But..." he began.

Renji pressed his lips into the boy's hair. "I love you," he said. "If anything were to happen to you, I would do anything to save you, chase after you, avenge you, it doesn't matter if we're friends or lovers. You know I would do that for you." He felt Ichigo's shoulders tremble slightly. "And I know you would do the same for me."

Ichigo made a noise that sounded like a mix of a sob and a grunt, which Renji took as a yes. "See?" he said with a smile, then leaned down to brush his lips over Ichigo's eyelids. "It doesn't make a difference." When the boy didn't respond, he whispered, "Let's not hide anymore."

Ichigo's body remained tense for a while even after that, then he mumbled something under his breath.

"Hmm?" Renji bent down to place his ear next to the boy's mouth.

"I said," Ichigo said softly. "Can you promise to be extra careful?"

The redhead chuckled. "Idiot," he said. "You don't have to tell me that. I'll train to become stronger, and stronger and stronger, so that you don't have to worry about me. Is that okay?"

"But you're already strong," Ichigo muttered. "It's the nasty surprises that I'm worried about."

Renji laughed and ruffled the boy's hair. "How about watch my back, and I'll watch yours. I know I can trust you to keep me alive."

"Duh," Ichigo mumbled with a scowl.

By then, Renji could feel Ichigo's muscles relax in his embrace, and he took the opportunity to tilt the boy's face up and bent down again for a kiss. This time, Ichigo didn't fight it.

Two weeks apart served as fuel to their need, and it didn't take long for them to end up on Ichigo's bed, leaving behind a haphazard trail of clothes. The mattress dipped as Renji pushed Ichigo onto his back.

No words were enough to express Renji's relief and happiness, so he let his body do all the talking. Crushing Ichigo beneath him with his lower body, he propped himself up by the elbows and gave Ichigo the longest and deepest kiss he'd ever experienced in his life. As Renji's tongue traced the familiar outlines of Ichigo's lips and teeth, he grinded his hips against Ichigo's and felt the boy's body respond.

Ichigo moaned into the kiss as the friction sent a chill through his body. "More," he gasped, wrapping his arms around Renji's neck as he arched his back, pushing himself up into Renji's body.

Renji chuckled softly and complied. Breaking the kiss, he propped himself up on his palms and rolled his hips roughly. He groaned out loud himself as Ichigo's hot flesh rubbed against his own, and he unconsciously clenched his fists, gripping the sheets tightly.

"Again," Ichigo whispered, then, without waiting for a response, raised his own hips to meet Renji's. "Again...please..."

Renji wanted to laugh at the boy's impatience, but refrained himself because he knew Ichigo would be embarrassed. So instead, he simply smiled and moved his hips again, grinding their erections together. The shuddering moan that left Ichigo's lips almost made Renji's arms buckle under his weight, so he quickly lowered himself onto his elbows.

As Ichigo's soft chant of "again" continued, Renji ducked his head under the boy's chin and greedily sucked on the delicate skin of Ichigo's neck, leaving a trail of light markings, mapping out his territory as he went lower and lower. He kissed Ichigo's chest, dragging his tongue across Ichigo's sensitive nipples and feeling them harden under his touch.

At some point—neither knew when, Ichigo had abandoned all attempts of coherent speech and simply moaned appreciatively as Renji slowly made his way down towards the throbbing heat between Ichigo's legs. When Renji's breath tickled his tip, Ichigo grabbed the redhead's hair and yanked.

"Oww!" Renji sputtered, one hand flying automatically to his scalp. "What the fuck?"

Ichigo laughed shakily. "Can we...skip that? I...I don't think I can last much longer."

Renji grinned. "Don't worry, I'll make you last." And with that, he ignored Ichigo's protests and took Ichigo into his mouth.

Ichigo's hips immediately bucked. "Shit!" Ichigo cursed, slamming his fists on the mattress. Heart sinking, he felt the coil of tension in his belly tighten to the point of snapping. "Renji! I can't—"

At that moment, Renji wrapped his fingers around the base of Ichigo's erection and squeezed. Ichigo's eyes widened, then he let out a choked cry as his release was abruptly denied. His legs jerked and Renji narrowly missed receiving a knee in the face.

Laughing at the boy's reaction, Renji kept his hold for a good ten seconds before letting go. Ichigo lay flat on his back, fists clutching the sheets in a death grip, chest heaving as he took in quick, ragged breaths.

After a few more pants, Ichigo finally lifted his head off the pillow and glared at Renji. "You planned this all along, didn't you?"

Renji's smile widened. Instead of answering, he crawled up and claimed Ichigo's lips, pushing the boy's head back into the pillow. Then, gently, he nudged Ichigo's inner thighs with his knee.

He didn't think it was possible, but Ichigo felt himself harden even more in anticipation. The bed creaked as Renji moved to retrieve the little bottle that was tucked discretely between the mattress and the bed frame—the creaking sound reminded Ichigo of Renji's passionate thrusts, and his breath quickened. Hurry, hurry...

"Just give me a minute, idiot," Renji grumbled, fumbling with the bottle cap.

Ichigo's face immediately reddened when he realized that he had voiced his thoughts out loud. But before he had time to simmer in his embarrassment, Renji's hands were back between his legs. Ichigo grunted softly as slicked fingers slid into him, but he welcomed the pain because he knew what would follow.

When Renji finally entered him, Ichigo let out a gasp and gripped the man's arms, digging his nails into tattooed skin. Body trembling from the initial discomfort of being stretched, he groaned as Renji slowly sank deeper into him. By the time Renji was fully sheathed, Ichigo was a blabbering mess.

The sight of Ichigo all flushed and aroused beneath him fanned Renji's lust, and for a moment he forgot about being gentle. Grabbing the underside of Ichigo's knees, Renji lifted the boy's legs onto his shoulders, then, gripping Ichigo's hips, he began to move. Every feverish thrust elicited a loud moan from Ichigo, which in turn drew a corresponding groan from Renji. Soon, it was clear that they were at their limit.

Renji reveled in the familiar ritual; as he always did, Ichigo whispered Renji's name urgently as he approached his climax, then with one final, breathless cry of "Renji!", the boy tumbled off the edge. Unable to hold back any longer, Renji gasped and let himself go, releasing deep within the heat that held him in a tight embrace.

They lost track of time as they lay crumpled on Ichigo's bed, mindless of their sweaty bodies and the sticky residue on Ichigo's stomach. Their breathing slowed down gradually, then, just as a wave of drowsiness settled over them, Ichigo murmured under his breath.

"Hmm?" Renji turned his head slightly.

Wrapping his arms protectively around Renji, Ichigo leaned closer and repeated, "I don't want to hide anymore."

Renji smiled.

After making sure that her friends had fallen asleep, Rukia disabled the sound-proofing kido barrier around Ichigo's room. Now that the boys had solved that problem, Rukia could see their next challenge—finding a way to conceal their very loud chorus. With Ichigo's lack of kido skills and Renji's dismal grasp of it, Rukia made a mental note to discuss the need for lessons first thing in the morning.

As she turned around to leave, Rukia hesitated. Then, with a soft chuckle, she re-engaged the same kido barrier before going off to Yuzu's bedroom. Ah, you never know...after all, Renji and Ichigo were both known to have great stamina during battles...

Thank you all for reading! I can't say enough how wonderful it feels to read the reviews and favs for this story, I'm glad I'm able to share it with you!