Well, it’s five thirty in the morning, here, and this thing wouldn’t let me sleep. I knocked it off in an hour and a half, and I’m dead tired, so if I screwed something up, just let me know. I’m already expecting the typos and ambiguous antecedents.
Title: Never Speak of This Again
Pairing: … take a wild guess.
Spoiler: Best if you’ve seen the anime through #79.
Notes: Mostly just angsty and snuggly. Nudity is mentioned twice, but never more than in passing.
I’d die content, if you’d just keep smiling.
He woke up in the middle of the night, alone and lying on the floor. The blanket was tangled around him, and he could see the futon a few feet away. Must have had a nightmare, he thought, but couldn’t remember it at all, aside from the cold feeling in his chest. He stood and wrapped himself as tastefully as possible in a blanket — his clothes were still drying on the line, and he wasn’t certain of the wisdom of wandering Urahara’s back rooms in the nude. Pausing with his hand on the door, he felt another stab of fear. There was nothing wrong, but the last several months had been extremely difficult. No matter how he had tried to avoid mentioning them, he’d had to come to terms with a few things, including, repeatedly, a fear of Rukia’s death. She was the Captain’s sister, now, but she’d been his sister first, back on the streets of Rukongai.
He stepped out into the hall and allowed himself to feel his sleeping friends as he passed their rooms. None seemed particularly disturbed, and Rukia was clearly sleeping peacefully. He couldn’t quite chase the fear away, but he managed to force it back down to where it always lay, just beneath his heart. He suddenly realised that he’d managed not to wake Chad in his nocturnal flight of terror— the large man was so dormant that he’d forgotten they shared a room. Only Ishida had a room to himself, out of respect for the Quincy’s unease with other people. He passed that door, now, and laid his hand on it.
Ishida had been different since that Bounto woman died. He constantly blamed himself, tearing at his own confidence with endless ‘what if…’s. The boy was truly suffering under the weight of her death. He knew what that loss felt like — even if Rukia hadn’t been put to death, he had never imagined that she would survive, however much he fought for her life. His doubt had hurt him then, and he knew what it must be doing to Ishida, now.
Silently, he slid the door to the Quincy’s room open. The boy was curled into a ball, from the chill, not from fear, as far as he could tell. He sighed and stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. The least he could do was provide some warmth. It was enough to suffer inside, without the added discomfort of the cold. He looked around the room, but the blankets were already on the bed, and doubled for extra warmth. That’s what he gets for being so thin, I guess, he thought, in mild amusement. There was, then, only one way to go about this.
He knelt beside the futon for a few moments, judging the space the boy didn’t occupy. Finally, he lifted the blankets carefully, and slid beneath them. He wrapped one arm around the young Quincy then, as an afterthought, added a leg. The boy’s hip was sharp, but this would offer the best distribution of heat with the least waste. Ishida made a small noise of satisfaction and relaxed back into the warm body behind him.
He smiled slightly, amazed at how well the Quincy fit against him. A new pain clutched at his chest as he slid a hand across the cold skin and breathed in the scent of the boy. There were some things that were just… You’re just feeling compassionate because of that nightmare. That’s all this is. He’d just keep telling himself that, and maybe this shameful sense of comfort and desire would fade. It had to be an illusion.
You can’t keep anything! You’re not allowed! You lost your own sister to a noble house, and this will be over the minute he wakes up and kills you. And he will kill you, Renji; don’t kid yourself.The voice in his head continued to tally his failures. His friends had been few, and even fewer remained after he had shown himself to have his own unshakeable honour, which was not the honour that was being taught. Ichigo understood that courage, that sense of right. They would always argue over whose turn it was to exercise that honour in defence of this week’s trauma case, but he figured that Ichigo would stick around until the end.
Ishida, on the other hand… Ishida was secretive and distrustful. He was never entirely certain of the Quincy’s motivations, and the boy made some terrifying choices. What, like breaking the laws of Soul Society to save the only person who ever loved your worthless ass wasn’t a terrifying choice? … He had to concede that that was an excellent point. Either way, though, this Quincy who was so happy to have his warmth was probably going to turn into a murdering bastard the instant he realised there was a Shinigami in his bed.
He tried to convince himself to get up and leave, to extract himself from the boy before he met his death in some horrifically shameful fashion, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that Ishida was freezing his ass off. He finally surrendered to the desire to stay, and made peace with himself. If he died, he’d die doing the right thing, however bizarre that thing might be.
Ishida mumbled something unitelligible and started to roll over in his sleep. The Shinigami tried to back away, and escape, undetected, but the Quincy reached out to him and refused to let go. He stopped struggling, trying to delay the inevitable. The boy would wake up. He was going to die. He’d even left Zabimaru in the other room. He lay flat on his back as Ishida snuggled closer and curled around him. The boy mumbled something else unintelligible, and the Shinigami smoothed his hair.
Wrong answer. The Quincy’s eyes flew open at the unexpected touch and he tensed. "Renji? What’s … What are you…?"
"You were cold. I couldn’t just…" He looked down as best he could at the blue eyes staring confusedly up from somewhere near his left shoulder. "Kill me quickly. I’m unarmed. I had a nightmare and I couldn’t watch you suffer."
"You…" The confusion became more intense. "I remember suddenly being warm. That was you? Why didn’t you just get more blankets?"
"Sorry, there just aren’t any more. I think I’m wearing the last one." He looked down to realise that he was wearing a lot less of it than he’d started in and turned an alarming shade of red to match his hair. "I think you’re laying on it, actually. I was wearing it."
"Look, Shinigami, I’m tired and cold. What if I just go back to sleep, and you stay right there, and we never speak of this again?"
He blinked. "You’re not going to kill me? Deal."
Ishida raised his head and looked down with barely restrained amusement. "If I killed you, you’d stop being warm. Now shut up and go to sleep."
He slid his arms around Ishida and moved the boy a bit. "Let me get the blanket from under you. It will do more good on you."
He spread the blanket on top of the other one and put his arms around the boy again, pulling the Quincy on top of himself. "There. Now I’ll keep you warm from here, and the blankets will keep the heat in."
Ishida moved down to rest his head on Renji’s chest, and slid his legs between the Shinigami’s. "Is this okay? It’s more comfortable for me."
He just nodded, carefully containing the wild elation he felt. "Goodnight, Quincy."
Ishida smiled against Renji’s skin. "Goodnight, Shinigami. Remember, never speak of this again."
For once, he knew peace as he drifted off to sleep with this unlikely companion in his arms. Never again, but he’d done right and escaped unscathed and still holding his prize. That had to be worth something. Maybe there really was something right in the world.