CHAPTER 1

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...

So, it's happened. I've completely fallen for this pairing. Not to mention, I've always loved Renji, therefore I've decided to give him the respect he deserves in the form of his own story. I'm gonna elaborate on the personalities I used for these two in All Jokes Aside, so if some things sound familiar, it's done purposely.

Thank you, Junichiblue for beta reading this for me! I appreciate it very much! It's always nice to have a second pair of eyes catching something I've missed.

And lastly, this is for cheesedictator, who totally gave me the push I needed with their review to write this. Thank you, dear!

So...let's see how it goes, yeah?

Onwards...

XOXOXO

It was a day like any other day of the past few months of his life. After his release from prison for beating the ever-loving shit out of his ex-girlfriend's side piece, he'd been forced to find a job that wouldn't consider him scum. Luckily, his old college friend, Shuuhei Hisagi, had helped. Shuuhei was the store manager at Rent-A-Center and had been gracious enough to give him a chance. Lord, knows he'd needed it. His parole officer – a short, dark-haired man with a boring voice – had been giving him a hard time, constantly piss-testing him and making sure he wasn't getting high. He'd never been into that sort of thing, though; he was more of a drinker. Notice he said "drinker" and not "drunkard." He limited himself to beer and only messed with the harder stuff when he was depressed, or just mad at the world.

Rukia had been his high school sweetheart. They'd been young and dumb and madly in love with each other – or so he'd thought. They'd gone to college together, but that was where he'd fucked up. It'd happened in their last year, right before graduation. He'd been doing well, excelling in his classes, outshining his peers on the basketball court, and he'd had a cute girlfriend to boot. Too bad, she hadn't been the loyal type. He'd come back from class early one afternoon and thought he'd stop and see Rukia before taking off to practice. So, oblivious to the pity-filled looks being sent his way, he'd sauntered to the girls' dorm and barged into his girlfriend's room. Damn, that'd been a mistake. He hadn't been ready to see the girl he'd loved so much, on her knees, being taken from behind by a man that wasn't him.

At first, he'd only stood there, staring and numb. Then white-hot rage had overwhelmed him, causing a stomach-deep roar to echo through the halls and probably the whole building. All he'd remembered was rushing into the room and hitting pale flesh until it tenderized beneath his fists, until blood covered his hands and face, and security had been escorting him from the dorm. After that, time had slowed down and allowed him to catch up. He remembered the court room, the dark-haired shit, who'd smugly pressed charges against him, and the useless lawyer, who'd felt he had better things to do with his time. The judge had been merciless and an asshole on top, even with Renji's squeaky clean background, hitting him with the maximum sentence as a lesson. Rukia'd been there, but she'd been on the other guy's side.

And with that, he'd spent the next three years of his life behind bars.

Now, at the age of twenty-four, he was an ex-convict and had to deal with being paroled for two more years, and that was only because he'd been let out on good behavior. Imagine that. Most people saw him these days and automatically labeled him a troublemaker, a ruffian, a thug, a hoodlum. It didn't help that the first thing he'd done upon leaving the prison was have his entire body tattooed. They started with his eyebrows, worked their way down the sides of his neck, across his chest, abdomen and back, down his arms, over his ass and thighs and even reached down his shins and calves. And he didn't regret a single one of them. His reason for doing so? He'd seen pictures of tribal tattoos and thought them symbolic of one's strength, wisdom and growth. On top of that, he'd wanted a change. While in prison, he hadn't been able to look himself in the cloudy mirror without wanting to gag with shame and repulsion. He'd hated himself. He'd hated the world.

But a few years of self-loathing had made him see the world for what it really was. Now, he didn't hate himself so much; he just hated other people.

Shuuhei had come as a nice surprise during a time in Renji's life, where he'd felt like he didn't have a friend in the world. He remembered playing basketball in college with the dark-haired man, remembered being on fairly good terms with him before the incident. Shuuhei hadn't been a bad guy then, and he wasn't one now. Renji had been walking the beat, searching high and low for a place that would hire him, just so he could get his parole officer off his ass, when he'd run across a store with a cheerful-looking, royal-blue, red and yellow sign announcing it as: Rent-A-Center.

He'd gone inside, already steeling himself for the rejection to come, but had been greeted by name, by a shocked tenor. Shuuhei had asked him all about what'd happened, and even though Renji hadn't wanted to explain or bring up his past, he had anyway. The dark-haired man had listened avidly, coal-colored eyes wide and amazed. Once Renji'd finished his tale, Shuuhei had immediately offered him a position at the store, excitedly exclaiming Renji could drive one of the delivery trucks, picking up and installing equipment. Of course, he'd been astonished, but more than that, he'd been grateful. He'd embraced the position without looking back, vowing never to see the inside of a prison again.

It hadn't taken him long to acquire a routine, which Shuuhei had aided by helping him find a one-bedroom apartment near his side of town. It wasn't bad, either. It had its own free washing and drying facilities in the basement, nice spacious rooms, and the landlord even allowed pets. Elated, he'd gone off immediately and bought a large tank, then filled it with tropical, colorful fish. He'd always wanted fish. Not so much dogs or cats, or anything else for that matter.

Yep, it was a very normal, very boring, very cold day. The weather forecast predicted a snow storm later on that night, which, thankfully, he planned to pass inside his warm apartment with a couple of Clive Owen flicks. Shoot Em Up and a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows sounded absolutely perfect. Speaking of which, it was about time to clock out. He glanced down at the watch on his left wrist and nodded. 6:45. Yeah, but he'd have to get some grub after he finished up his shift before he could make good on his plans. He climbed to his feet from the carpeted floor he'd been kneeling on and dusted his hands. After that, he double-checked his work, making sure the flat-screen TV was hooked up correctly.

"Everything done?" a cheerful, female voice asked from behind.

Renji turned and faced the client with a slow nod. "It's all workin'."

She was cute. In fact, she was gorgeous. Long, wavy, sea-green hair, wide wheat-gray eyes, and a body that didn't seem to know how to behave. Her hips were curvy and absolutely made for gripping, and her legs were long and shapely. She had breasts that could feed an army of runts, and she smelled like a sultry fruit. It'd been an eternity since he'd gotten laid, but he knew better than to hit on one of the clients. ...Didn't mean he couldn't look, though.

"Do you take tips?" she asked.

He shook his head with a miniscule lift to the corner of his lips. "Nah, I ain't allowed ta take tips, Miss."

She giggled, eyes lighting up. "You don't have to call me 'Miss'. I'm not that old, you know. I'm Nel."

Nel, huh? "Nice ta meet'cha, Nel. I better get goin'."

"Aww, can't you stay for a cup of coffee or something?"

He paused on his trip out of the living room and stared down at the full lips pouting up at him. Shit, he was only human. How was he supposed to turn down such a beautiful woman? It was obvious she was interested in him, but...he was positive sleeping with clients was somewhere in the list of no-no's Shuuhei had given him when he'd first started on the job.

Dammit all to hell.

"Sorry, Nel. No can do," he mumbled regretfully.

"Wait!" she yelped as he started moving again. "Why don't you take my number? I know you probably can't do anything during work, but maybe we can get together after your shift is over or something."

Wow. He'd never been that aggressively pursued before and it stroked the hell out of his ego. He didn't see the harm in her request, though. Inwardly he licked his lips as Nel drew closer, bringing that tantalizing scent with her. Finally, he nodded.

You don't wanna hurt the girl's feelings, the devil on his shoulder whispered in his ear with a no-good grin.

He was so jaded and bitter, he didn't even have an angel to contend with the evil hovering over him all the time. It was just that sad. No one took the time to get to know him, no one really liked him for him, and he was pretty sure it would be the same with the green-haired woman asking him to take her number. Notice how she hadn't asked him to take her on a date. It seemed like she just wanted to fuck and be done with it. Not that that bothered him. What did, however, was that he knew she wouldn't take him seriously because of his appearance. People took one look at him and automatically assumed he was a gangster or a heathen. It was annoying as shit, but had its useful moments as well.

So, he did the logical, red-blooded, human male thing and accepted her number, which she wrote on the back of a receipt, forgotten at the bottom of his uniform breast pocket. Her resulting smile assured him they'd be having a good time the minute he decided to call her. And he would. Like he'd said: it'd been a really long time since he'd gone *balls deep.

He left Nel's house, sauntered down the stoop, hopped into the Rent-A-Center van, then peeled away from the curb. A few minutes later as he sat at a red light waiting for the heat to kick in, he tugged on a black, cable-knit hat and blew on his numb hands. Shit, it was cold. It was already *thirty degrees out, perfect weather for snow to stick to the ground and fuck up traffic. He wound through the after-work rush, taking short-cuts and back streets in order to make it to the RAC headquarters in a timely fashion. By the time Renji did, Shuuhei was ready to leave, office locked and registers shut down. He sat waiting on one of the display recliners, watching a Disney flick on a display flat-screen TV. When Renji strolled into the store, the dark head turned and dark eyes lit up.

"'Bout time ya brought yer sorry carcass back. I'm hungry and tired as hell. Wanna get some food from yer favorite spot?"

Renji grinned and nodded, leaning casually against the arm of a nearby display couch. "Yeah, I'm starvin' too. I take it since yer complainin', yer ready?"

Shuuhei grinned and lowered the footrest of the recliner before languidly climbing to his feet and stretching his arms over his head. Renji could hear the other man's bones and joints popping as they were shifted into place.

"Yeah, was just waitin' on you. I let Ichigo off early since he claimed he had a date." Renji frowned at the thinly veiled resentment leaking into Shuuhei's voice. He took a closer look at his friend and employer, searching for the root of what he'd heard, but the dark-haired man recovered before he could. The disappointed expression disappeared and Shuuhei's eyes were back to glittering with his usual amount of excitement and lust for life. "So, go punch out and let's go! I think my ribs are touchin', I'm so hungry."

Renji barely smirked as he nodded and headed to the employee lounge off to the left of the store room, located at the back of the display room. It took him less than three minutes to make the journey round-trip before he and Shuuhei left the store. Shuuhei locked up and trudged around the corner to the parking lot, where his silver Toyota Venza was parked patiently. Renji followed, fishing through his uniform pockets for his gloves, while also making sure his pack of cigarettes was nestled safely inside. He waited for the dark-haired man to unlock the car as he pulled on the warm, cashmere material.

"Earth to Renji!"

He jerked and glanced over the hood of the vehicle, eyebrows raised in surprise. "Ya said somethin'?"

Shuuhei rolled his eyes, but kept smiling. "Yeah, doofus. I asked what you were doing this weekend."

"I'own know. Prob'ly nothin'. Why?"

"I'm havin' a get-together at my place on Saturday. You should come; get outta the house, ya know? I invited Ichigo and a couple other people."

Renji averted his eyes and debated within himself. He wasn't a people person anymore. Those days were long past. He was much more comfortable staying inside, enjoying a movie, experimenting with new beers, or fixing things – namely cars. All he had to do was look at something for a few quiet minutes before he could figure out how to take it apart, then put it all back together, no instructions required. His father had called it genius, while his mom had called it creepy. They didn't call him anything anymore, though, choosing rather to disown him after he'd screwed up his life and gone to prison.

"I'll think about it," he mumbled, not really committing himself to the idea of a party with a bunch of people he probably didn't know.

Shuuhei eyed him a bit longer before the car locks were thrown and they both jumped inside, eager for warmth. They were out of the parking lot and three blocks down the street before the dark-haired man spoke again.

"You know, you're gonna hafta come outta that shell sooner or later. People aren't going to see you for who you really are if you don't let them."

Made sense. But maybe he didn't want people to see the real him. Back in college he had, but after his experience with Rukia, after his stint in prison...yeah, he wasn't too fond of the idea anymore.

"Yer right," he absently grunted.

Shuuhei chuckled and shook his head. "You think I don't know when you're appeasing me?"

That made him smile. His friend was pretty perceptive when he wanted to be, but Renji wasn't about to let up on this one. He turned and focused out of the passenger window, startled to see fat snowflakes drifting through the air already. He supposed the storm would be on them not too long from now.

XxxxxxX

The small restaurant was named Sentient Heaven, and was owned by an eccentric, blond man with laughing gray eyes and his "partner," a tall brunet with rich brown eyes and black, wire-framed glasses. The blond was a little creepy with his constant enthusiasm and hint of mystery, but the brunet was all suave charm and underlying strength. It was an interesting mix. Renji had never been one to consider the option of homosexuality, but he didn't have anything against those that did. Seeing Urahara and Aizen's interaction was only mildly disturbing because Urahara had an affinity for PDA and always managed to take it overboard.

The place was a mixture of exciting yellow and warm brown, the lighting dim enough to give off mellow vibes. The booths held the perfect balance of intimacy and distance and the staff was excellent. Not only that, but the pricing was reasonable and the food was fucking delicious. Whoever worked in the kitchen created miracles.

He and Shuuhei were seated near the back and next to one of the restaurant's large windows. He didn't even need to look at the menu to know what he wanted. Today was Friday, which meant he would order the steak and shrimp scampi, with mashed potatoes and asparagus as sides. As he took off his gloves and hat, he looked around the restaurant, waiting for the owners to make their special appearance. Shuuhei happened to be the nephew of the brunet Aizen, so they always made it their business to come over and greet the two personally whenever Shuuhei tagged along with Renji.

Instead, he caught the gaze of a tall, very slender, silver-haired man standing at the bar a few feet away. He'd only ever seen him a handful of times since the man worked on the other side of the restaurant. The guy's eyes were a frosty blue, almost shocking amidst such a pale face. The silver hair and slight weight only added to the celestial look of him. He wore the uniform of a waiter: black slacks, white, long-sleeved, button-up shirt and black tie. Renji arched a brow at the man's stunned expression. It was almost like the thin man recognized him or something. Brushing it aside, Renji focused on the apricot-haired woman standing next to the silver-haired man, wearing an amused grin. Her eyes were almost the same color as the man's, but they weren't as piercing. She had a heart-shaped face, glowing skin and humongous knockers. It must've been his lucky day. This was the second woman he'd seen in twenty-four hours with boobs big enough to build a house on. She was beautiful alright, but for some reason his eyes kept going back to the man at her side. The guy's eyes were like magnets. And then the strange spell was broken by a cheerful tenor.

"Ahhh! If it isn't my wonderful nephew and his handsome red-haired friend!"

Renji turned to Urahara with a slight frown. He was still confused about why the silver-haired man had been staring at him, but figured he could think about it later.

"Hey, Uncle Kisuke," Shuuhei greeted. Renji merely raised his chin in acknowledgment.

"Silent as always. I've never heard you speak, Sir. Might there be a reason for that?" the blond pestered, hands on his hips.

Renji grinned, teeth showing and all as he toyed with the utensils wrapped in a thick handkerchief on the table in front of him. "I'm anti-social."

Shuuhei cracked up, but Urahara's eyes went wide. "Oh my," he muttered as his lover slash partner spoke up, brown hair impeccable as always.

Aizen adjusted his glasses and gave a charming smile. "Hello, Shuuhei. How are things?"

"Good! Mom asked about you last night. She says you don't call her since you got the restaurant."

The brunet tsk'ed and shook his head. "That's not true. I've told her to come here and eat several times."

Renji tuned out the ongoing conversation, ignored Urahara's staring and instead let his eyes roam the restaurant in search of silver hair and glacial blue eyes, utterly taken back when he noticed them coming towards his table.

XOXOXO

Advanced Commercial Design class flew by unnaturally fast that day, but Gin was grateful for it. He was almost finished attaining a degree in Interior Design and couldn't wait to put his unique sense of style to use. His best friend, Rangiku, always told him he'd had an eye for making wrong into right with the least bit of effort. Didn't matter if a place looked absolutely dreadful. He could turn it around after studying the layout for no more than ten minutes. After that, he'd decided to hone his talents and educate himself on the modern marvel of Interior Design. He was two and a half years in and on the brink of an internship, then graduation. Once he nabbed his degree, he planned to take his skills to either New York City or California.

And he was dragging his best friend – who was more like a sister – along with him. He didn't care if she put up more of a fight than Hitler, she was coming with him and keeping him sane. She was his rock in the midst of the storm called life. They'd been best friends since they were toddlers, Rangiku's mom a neighbor of Gin's inexperienced, single father. The woman had taken pity on his father and schooled him in the do's and don't's of parenting. He and Rangiku had become fast friends in the process.

In Elementary, middle school, junior high and high school, they'd been known as a dynamic duo. In high school, most of the teens had called them Will and Grace and the names even stuck to this day, with his father referring to Rangiku as Grace. In short, they were inseparable and just because he planned to move, it didn't mean that would change. Rangiku was a writer; her home was wherever her laptop laid its hat, so location would never be an issue. Maybe he was being a bit selfish, but he really didn't care. If she stayed behind while he left, who would annoy him when he went shopping? Who would give him the Puss N Boots eyes and ask him to play with their hair? Who would finish his sentences, read his thoughts and chastise him with just a look? No one, that's who. No one except Rangiku, and he refused to give her up.

The fact that she didn't mind his stinginess, either, was just a bonus.

Gin hustled out of the classroom and glanced down at his watch. He had a half hour before he needed to be at his father's restaurant for work. Thankfully, the old man had given him a chance and paid him well so he could save for his move and for the eventual school loans that were sure to nip at his heels for the first few years after graduation. He rushed out of the building, towards the parking lot and almost collided with one of his instructors on the stone stairs of the school's entrance.

"Hurrying is never beautiful, Gin," the shorter man chided, lavender eyes twinkling with amusement.

"Mah, I gotta get ta work, M-"

"Ah-ah! Never call me Mr. as long as you live."

Gin smirked and corrected himself. "Sorry, Yumi. Ya have a good night, alright?"

"Of course! Make sure you come prepared for the class project, Gin. I don't want anymore ugly excuses."

"Sure thing."

With that, he jumped down the last three stairs and jogged to his gray Volkswagen Passat, mind intent on a quick shower before work.

XxxxxxX

"Are ya kiddin'? He's hideous."

"He is not," Rangiku's sultry voice chuckled. "You're being picky again."

Gin shrugged as he replaced a couple of menus at the entrance podium. "It's my right. 'Sides, I ain't talkin' ta nobody wit' more gaps than teeth in his mouth."

"Gahahaha!" the apricot-haired woman shrieked before covering her own mouth, remembering where she was. "You're retarded."

"Yeah, well, after Grimm, I'm sure I ain't gonna meet Mr. Right."

Rangiku went silent and studied his profile. He resisted the urge to squirm, but just barely. Every time he brought up his dead lover, the woman would look at Gin like he'd told her he had a terminal illness or something. Grimmjow had passed away four years ago in a boating accident with a group of friends. They'd been out fishing, when an unexpected storm had destroyed their boat and carried their bodies away. The first year after the blue-haired man's death had been the worst. Gin hadn't been sure he would be able to cope, suffering from debilitating hope, until the police had finally found his lover's body. But with Rangiku and his father there to help, he'd eventually returned from the land of the despondent. Now he was better. He'd come to realize that Grimmjow had been a learning experience for him, teaching him the beauty of love and a fulfilling relationship. So, he thanked whoever was in charge upstairs for bringing the man into his life, no matter how briefly.

However, since he'd been back in the dating game, all he'd met were crazies and weirdos. He was no angel of perfection himself, but he didn't think he was that bad, either. Someone should have warned him that the pickin's were slim, and especially as a gay man.

"Don' look at me like that. I'm fine," he sighed as he headed back towards the bar.

"Gin-"

"Ya start goin' on 'bout how lonely I am, an' I'll kick yer ass, Ran," he interrupted sternly, eyes open and serious.

"I wasn't going to, stupid," Rangiku huffed, crossing her arms over her ample chest. "I was just going to say you've gotten stronger. I don't hear the pain in your voice that used to go along with mentioning Grimmjow."

He felt his ears grow warm and turned away from his best friend, refusing to let her see him blushing at her words. "Yeah, well...we all gotta grow up some time."

She didn't get a chance to respond because the swinging door behind the bar that led to the kitchen swished open, revealing his brightly smiling father. He shook his head as he watched the blond, older man dance over to them.

"My boy," Kisuke greeted before turning to Rangiku. "Hello, Grace. Nice to see you on time this evening."

Rangiku stuck her tongue out before enfolding Kisuke in a tight hug. "Hi to you too, other Daddy."

Gin leaned a hip against the bar counter and smirked at the familiar routine. Rangiku and his father would do the same thing each time they saw each other. It was heart-warming.

Kisuke hugged her back, then held her at arm's length, looking her over carefully. "Have you gained weight, young lady? Are you pregnant?"

"Kisuke!" she screeched indignantly, slapping his hands away, but her crystal-blue eyes were alive with laughter. "You never ask a woman that! Bad form!"

"Forgive him, Rangiku. He hasn't been housebroken yet," a deep voice put in from the kitchen doorway.

Sosuke Aizen had a habit of sneaking up on them, and this time was no different. Gin smiled warmly at his father's boyfriend of ten years.

"Hey, Pop. How ya doin' taday?"

Sosuke turned to him with an amiable grin. "I'm well and you, Gin? How are your classes going?"

"Ther' great! I'll be done in another few months. Jus' gotta finish up Advanced Commercial Design, then rustle up an internship."

"Good, good. Your father and I will be your very first customers once you graduate. I've been wanting to redecorate the house for three years now."

"Are you trying to say something about my taste, Sosuke?" Kisuke pouted, gray eyes shining.

Sosuke gave him an innocent, sideways smirk as he moved forward and gathered the slightly shorter man into his arms. "I would never."

Gin turned away from the sight of his fathers' affection for one another, rolling his eyes exasperatedly. He put up a front of being annoyed, but he was really happy for the two men. His dad had been shunned his whole life for never marrying Gin's mother, but Kisuke hadn't been in love with her. In fact, Gin had been a product of experimentation between a bi-curious man and a promiscuous woman. They'd only had sex once, but nine months later, the woman had found Kisuke and left Gin on his doorstep. Gin knew this because he'd forced the truth from his father once he'd turned thirteen and realized the man had a boyfriend.

Sosuke had been a God send. He'd come into Kisuke's life and swept the man clean off his feet, wooing him the proper way with flowers and candy, dates and fluffy cards: all the things Gin's father had a weakness for. At first Gin had been surprised, but he'd always known he himself was gay, so his inner fan-boy went crazy. All he could concentrate on was how genuinely happy Kisuke seemed, how the blond man didn't have to pretend anymore. He thought about how cute his father was, bustling about the house, getting ready for dates, worrying about his hair and clothes, and the fact that his father was seeing a guy never bothered him. And it never occurred to him to ask about his mother, either, a woman he'd been way too young to remember.

"They're so cute," Rangiku cooed from his side, pulling him from his thoughts.

Gin chuckled and watched as the two men finally stepped away from each other, stars still in their eyes. Kisuke sighed and fanned himself with a paper fan Sosuke had brought him back from a trip to Japan two years ago. The blond hadn't been without it since. His straw-colored bangs fluttered in the soft breeze the fan created as he glanced over Gin's shoulder, eyes growing wide with surprise.

"It's Shuuhei!" he exclaimed.

Gin aimed a look backwards and immediately froze, heart stammering painfully. His lips parted in shock as he watched his step-cousin enter the restaurant with a tall, red-haired man. They trekked to the back of the dining area on the left side of the building and were seated near a window. Gin couldn't take his eyes off Shuuhei's companion. He and the dark-haired man hadn't crossed paths in a while, almost a year. They used to be close, but once class had picked up, homework and studying had begun kicking his ass and eating up all of his free time. He hadn't seen Shuuhei since Thanksgiving and here it was February.

He was vaguely aware of his father and Sosuke heading over to the duo's table, but most of his attention was all for the ruggedly gorgeous red head. Once Shuuhei and the man took a seat, the red head removed the dark hat he wore, along with the gloves on his large hands. His hair was long. It was pulled into a low ponytail and hung over his right shoulder enticingly, reaching down the man's broad chest. But his eyes were also captivating. Under the soft lights of the restaurant, Gin marveled at the reddish-brown hue, heart pitter-pattering strongly behind his ribs. He hadn't even realized his breathing had gone all erratic and shallow until Rangiku leaned close and whispered in his ear.

"If you were a dog, your dick would be showing."

He choked and swung around to face her, eyes a bit wide and confused. Where the hell was he again?

"What?" he asked.

"Wow. I haven't seen you like this since...well...in a really long time."

He looked back at the red head's table and his heart beat so fast, it nearly gave out. He'd turned just in time to catch the red head's eyes. They were hooded and alluring, but cold and searing at the same time. It was like an unexpected needle prick: sudden and nerve-wrecking. Gin swallowed forcefully a couple of times, trying to calm his knuckle-headed heart, but the damned thing wouldn't listen to him. It insisted on convulsing and seizing, making breathing a chore. The man stared at him so intently, it was like he was trying to see into his soul, learn about Gin's very core. And then the moment passed when the red head looked over at Rangiku, eyes curious and appreciative.

Air left his lungs in a rush as he closed his eyes and sagged his shoulders. He'd only felt butterflies like that once in his life and the implications scared the shit out of him. He opened his eyes and left his attention on the red head, who was grinning like a rake at Gin's father, glimmering white teeth almost blinding all the way from where Gin stood by the bar.

"He's really cute. Big hands, too," Rangiku stated, head tilted to the side as she perused the red head's features.

Gin chuckled, shaking himself free from the delirium the red head's attractiveness caused. "I've never seen 'im before, but Pop said Shuuhei drops in every now an' then wit' a friend."

"Well, you do work on the other side of the restaurant, Gin. You rarely come on this side."

"So yer tellin' me I been missin' out on all a'that? Tha's jus' tragic."

Rangiku giggled and nudged him forward. They're in 'Hime's section. I'll tell her Kisuke said to switch you guys. Now go before she comes outta the kitchen."

Gin gave his best friend his signature, toothless smirk and saluted her. "Aye, aye, Sir."

"Hey!"

He laughed and casually strolled over to the red head's table, steeling himself when the man hit him with his full gaze again. The closer Gin got, the more he wanted to know about the guy. The man seemed like a rogue with all those tattoos on his neck and face, but if he was, he was a damned sexy one. But Gin also knew firsthand that you couldn't judge a book by its cover.

*balls deep – Yes, I did use that Hodge twins' term. *snaps fingers back and forth through the air* Kudos if you recognized it.

*thirty degrees – using Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

This was fun! I really do have a thing for this pairing. For Renji. His hair, eyes, and body make me wish he wasn't a 2D character. Ent-ee-way...

I hope you guys liked it! Thanks for reading~

Next time...