It was taunting him, staring at him with its vibrant color, sticking jauntily up from the crown of Renji’s head. Byakuya was certain of it. He didn’t know why his gaze was drawn to that color, almost the same as spilled blood but far more intense, far more alive. He was a man obsessed, a man completely overtaken by a color, brighter than the sun and equally intense.
It was distracting, diverting his attention away from important paper work, as if daring him to touch it, daring him to run his fingers through scarlet strands. It was like he was the bull and it, the red cloak, flapping wildly in a matador’s hand. It made him think indecent thoughts about things he had never desired before. It made him want things he had never even considered. Most of all, it made him want him, Renji. His vice-captain. A mutt from Rukongai.
For Byakuya, it had always been women, or truthfully, one woman. Yet, for once in his life, he wanted a man, and that was an emotion he didn’t know how to handle. He buried it, of course, as was proper. Never let it be known that he couldn’t keep his silly thoughts to himself. Still, it was there, simmering beneath the surface, constantly being taunted by crimson hair that he swore shifted colors from day to day. It couldn’t have been natural, but Byakuya was in no way going to demand that his vice-captain drop his pants just to confirm it.
He didn’t understand it. Why did Renji insist on wearing his hair that long? Why taunt his captain with things he couldn’t have?
Byakuya wanted; he wanted so desperately that it battled against his better judgment, urging him to do things he shouldn’t. He wanted to see Renji laid out beneath him, hair framing his face and eyes gleaming with lust. The contrast of black tattoos and vibrant, crimson shade, that small glare of defiance. It filled his own body with desire.
He wanted to reach out and yank, pull it from that high ponytail and watch it fall over Renji’s shoulders. He wanted to drag Renji towards him, kissing his vice-captain until the man couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even stand, couldn’t even speak any of the random chirping that Byakuya had learned to associate with the man. Byakuya wanted to possess that vibrant shade, alluring him like the flame did a moth.
He dreamed of running his hands through that hair, watching the strands slip through each one, falling from the tips of his fingers and floating briefly through the air before falling against Renji’s back. He could still remember how Renji had looked that day, that battle, right after Byakuya had struck him and snapped the tie, his hair breaking free and fluttering around his body like a halo of blood. His eyes had been uncomfortably drawn to it.
Even then, he had wanted. Even then, he had craved.
It was a day like any other, none different except perhaps that this morning, his vice-captain had come running in late, slightly breathless and looking haggard. He had been out the night before, stayed up late, and woken up late. He couldn’t find his tie, and so his hair was free, lying unbound and falling into his face. Byakuya had never seen a sight so fascinating, and it took all of his composure to remain forever unruffled, calmly chastising his subordinate for being tardy before handing over a stack of the usual paperwork.
In his mind, he could see himself, nuzzling into that ruby hair, pressing it to his mouth and feeling the silky softness against his lips. It was so wrong, but dear gods, the thoughts wouldn’t leave his mind.
It wasn’t until later, when they were walking to the first division for the weekly meeting that Byakuya lost his mind.
He couldn’t help it. Renji was a few steps ahead of him, paying his captain little attention and idly keeping an eye out for one of his friends. He didn’t realize that Byakuya was staring at his hair, watching as the sun played light across the fiery strands, turning it all variances of scarlet. Before he could stop himself, he had reached out and slid his fingers into those crimson locks, watching as they slipped through his fingers.
An unexpected feeling of calm and ease permeated his body then, and he sighed longingly, eyes sliding closed and head bowing in surrender.
Renji paused and turned. “Taichou?” he asked, quizzically, likely concerned for his superior’s strange behavior.
Realizing what he had done, Byakuya’s eyes snapped open, and he immediately jerked his hand back, feeling as if he had been scorched by fire. His fingers still tingled, but he was so shocked at his own actions that he had nothing to say, unable to even dredge up his Kuchiki pride and form a glare. He could still remember how the strands, as silky as he had thought, felt as they glided through his fingers.
Renji took a step closer, face filling with concern. “Taichou?”
For the first time in his life, Byakuya panicked and did the only thing a sane, normal person would do. He ran, as quickly and as far as his shunpo would take him and then even farther. It wasn’t until he paused, struggling to draw in a deep breath, that he realized he had no clue where he was. Somewhere on the outskirts of Rukongai likely, judging by the abundant green of forestland that surrounded him.
Closing his eyes, Byakuya internally berated himself for being so foolish.
Of course, Murphy’s Law had a way of evening things out. Seconds after he had appeared in the forest, Renji was right behind him. It would have been too easy for his vice-captain to simply continue on to the meeting and ignore the strange behavior of his captain. No, Renji just had to care.
“Taichou?” Renji said, concern etched into his face. He took a step forward.
Byakuya automatically took an unconscious step backwards before realizing what he had done. That flight instinct was rising again.
Renji seemed to sense it, however, and his hand snapped forward, almost like a serpent, latching onto Byakuya’s arm firmly. “You sick?” he asked, convinced it was either that or his captain was possessed. “Or somethin’ like that cause you’re acting weird.”
The sixth-division captain fell back into old habits, turning colder than ice. “Leave me alone, Renji,” he ordered in a chill tone. “Return to the meeting at once.”
Oddly enough, he didn’t try to wrench his arm free from his vice-captain’s hold like he should have. On his bare skin, Renji’s touch was like fire.
Completely unconvinced, Renji’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve been acting this way all week,” he growled.
Byakuya had never heard a more arousing sound. His eyes were irrationally and inexplicably drawn to Renji’s hair.
“It is your imagination,” he muttered, though it came out less strong than he would have liked. It felt like a lie because it was a lie. He was betraying that part of him that wanted to grab his vice-captain and kiss him senseless.
It was all too rational for him to shove it down, far down where it belonged, buried deep inside. There was no room for this wrong and impossible feeling. It had to disappear.
Renji didn’t believe him for a moment. “Is it?” he asked before suddenly dipping his head and closing his lips over Byakuya’s before the Kuchiki heir could even blink. His tongue shoved inside with little hesitation as he pulled on the arm he still held, dragging the other man one step nearer to him.
Byakuya fought it at first, giving a token struggle where he half-heartedly attempted to get away, and telling himself that Renji was just that much stronger than him, he resigned himself to his fate. Which was sealed when a moan, completely unbidden, filled his mouth, and he began return the kiss with equal if not more voracity.
His body took over as his mind completely fizzled out, and he reached up, finally, finally tangling his fingers in those taunting bright strands and refusing to let go. He devoured Renji’s mouth with a hungry, demanding kiss that was certain to leave them with bruised lips afterwards.
Dragging Renji forward put him off balance, and he stumbled, his back hitting the tree, nearly dwarfed by his vice-captain’s bulk. Nevertheless, he was the one in control. He couldn’t deny that he craved this kind of connection with another shinigami, the feel of warm flesh to warm flesh and the sound of another person’s pleasure. That it was a man bothered him on some level, but not when his body seemed to consider otherwise, actively responding and encouraging him to go farther and deeper.
It was with great reluctance that he broke away from the kiss, feeling dazed and not quite himself. Renji was grinning like a damn idiot, and Byakuya felt a mild irritation. He knew he needed to say something. He should say something, but Renji looked as if he wanted to speak as well. Rather than listen to it, Byakuya kissed him again.
There were always opportunities to sort it out later. He promptly forgot about the meeting he was supposed to go to, losing himself in the addictive taste of his vice-captain.
Let them wonder.