Kaleidoscope

BY : RiddimMistress
Category: Bleach > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 2546
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach and I make no money what so ever from writing this

Sunlight.

Bright and undeniably obnoxious, coming in large slants through the bare windows, fell into the sleeping red-head’s eyes, waking him long after his alarm clock had fought the battle and lost.

Renji squinted and threw his hand over his eyes to block out the light. It was too damn early in the morning for him to be getting up. He didn’t know the exact time but anytime before ten was too early by his standards.

With his eyes properly shielded from the annoying light, he wriggled a little bit, trying to get more comfortable within his discount sheets and his two grades above a sheet of plywood mattress. His consciousness was starting to fade once again. Maybe if he was lucky he could return to that dream. That wonderfully satiating dream that made his mouth water with desire and his toes curl with sheer pleasure.

He would have her this time. He would feel her spongy softness beneath his fingers. Taste her sweet tangy flavor…garlic sauce…

Knock, knock, knock…

The intrusive noise reached him as within his sleep hazed mind as a soft sound… like the water dipping incessantly from a tap…

Knock, knock, knock…

Or maybe a bird pecking against his window. But why would a bird do that? Maybe he should consider getting a restraining order against birds?

Knock, knock, knock…

Whatever the hell it was it was interrupting his concentration. He couldn’t very well slip back into his dream if this kept up and… and…

BAM, BAM, BAM…

Renji’s eyes snapped open and he literally flew out of bed, unconsciously dragging the sheet with him and scrambling to cover himself. Heart thumping wildly, he looked around to pin-point the source of the noise. Some was pounding – rather ferociously at that – on his door.

“Coming dammit,” he slurred, tripping over his pile of clothes that were thrown off yesterday and left in a heap at the foot of his bed, spilling a half full bottle of vodka that he had been saving for when he would need a sedative – it was now an extra stain on the worn, dirty rug – and his paint brushes that he had soaking in a glass of water.

His fingers struggled with the clasp on the door in his sleep haze. He cracked it open a bit and peered through. Cold blue eyes met his in a glare. Several seconds passed in which he tried to blink away the blurriness.

“Wha –”

“Don’t fucking ‘whaaaa’ me Abarai!” Before he recognized the rough voice as his landlord Grimmjow Jeagerjaques, Renji, the chain, splinters off the door and finally the already precariously constructed door itself, found the floor.

He blinked up sleepily at the man retracting his foot and stepping in, hands in his pockets and scowling.

Renji wouldn’t say that this man was violent, nope, not at all. He was just your average man-beast that scared the living daylights out of kids and offended old people by just being near them. Oh, and not to mention his tendency for ripping doors off their hinges. But all normal people did that, right?

He was wearing his trademark assemble that made him look more like a crime boss than a landlord. A combination of a black silk shirt, buttoned down and exposing some of his collarbone and chest and grey slacks with suspenders. All ten of his fingers were adorned with large gold rings, his wrists littered with bangles watches (plural) and a thick gold chain hung from his neck.

Even though his face was drawn in a harsh frown – his expression of choice twenty three hours a day – Renji couldn’t help but marvel at the attractiveness of his features. Counting his odd choice in hair colour; a bright teal. Renji’s heart skipped a beat from seeing his old crush so suddenly and so early in the morning. One had to be prepared in advance, steady the heart and steel the nerves!

Looking down at him disdainfully, Grimmjow’s face suddenly eased into a smirk and he gestured with his chin the source of his amusement.

“Tia, one floor down?”

Renji followed his eyes and blushed deeply; covering himself with the blanket he had dragged along with him from the bed by accident to hide his bulging boxers.

He knew to whom Grimmjow was referring. Tia Hallibel, a big bosomed, dark-skinned, yoga instructor who lived on the floor below Renji and was more than likely the cause of lusty thoughts and provocative dreams of the majority of male tenants.

“Cuz I’ve gotta tell ya, she’d rather piss on ya than even put ya inta consideration.”

Renji mumbled something incoherent about steak and inflation soon to be the cause of his death, feeling the heat creeping all the way up his ears.

“Anyway, Abarai, I’m here for the rent.”

“Rent?” Renji echoed dumbly.

“Yea, that thing you pay – preferably money, unless you’re a woman with something else to offer – in exchange for living in someone else’s establishment. Rent, Artist-san.” He said this haughtily in a fake business tone, doing a splendid job of mocking Renji in the vaguest of ways.

Smartass.

Shit. Was it Tuesday already? Renji grumbled but reluctantly got to his feet. His landlord was never late to collect rent no matter what the situation. Figures.

“Che, I called ya to fix that damn stupid toilet and ya said ya were ‘on your way’ four fucking days ago!”

“Toilet’s fine,” he replied indifferently, looking away. Yeah right. It couldn’t be farther from fine!

Renji threw on a pair sweatpants and begun his hunt for money while Grimmjow invited himself in, eyes searching the surface of Renji’s wall, over his various sketches and oil paintings to all the items littered in his apartment, and along Renji’s back very briefly.

He could feel the other man’s eyes. It made his heart race a little but he did his best to act calm and ignore the little flutter in his belly.

“How do ya know I ain’t got nothing ta offer?” he asked playfully, regaining some of usual spunk now that he was sufficiently awake.

“Nothing I’d accept,” Grimmjow mumbled with eyes narrowed. Renji chuckled softly. Good thing he wasn’t serious. Entirely, anyway. It was just a good way to distract Grimmjow; he never liked it when he thought Renji was flirting with him.

Renji could hear the sounds of the man’s shoes as he walked around. Every time he came on the last Tuesday of the month he did this, surveyed the place to see what new things Renji painted or what new item he bought to see if he was just crying poor but had a secret stash.

He commented on anything that caught his eye, and this time it was a small figurine Renji was working on.

“Tha fucks this thing?” His voice was full of mocking laughter. Renji looked back to see him holding it between his fingers, eyes squinted at it. “It’s hideous!”

Renji blanched. “It’s a thing – I’ve been… kinda workin’ on – sculpting thing...” It was his first try at something new. Maybe he could break away with this, he had thought. He was wrong. All it proved was that he should stick to what he was semi-good at because what had resulted, was a hideous deformed object. He knew that it was bad but hearing someone else confirming it stung. Especially since Grimmjow was like his worst critic.

“Ha! Don’t quit your day job, Abarai.”

“This is my day job.”

Grimmjow howled with laughter and disappeared somewhere inside Renji’s kitchen, no doubt finding more stuff to criticize like how he only owned two plates.

Renji moved a little swifter now. Grimmjow never shut up if you never give him a reason to. He searched inside random shirt pockets, old jeans he’d worn, bags, even inside shoes to check if any ‘accidentally’ fell inside. Yeah, really.

Down on all fours, he pushed his hand beneath his bed, his trove of forgotten or misplaced treasure and maybe – hopefully!- money. His fingers made contact with many things, missing shoes, clothes, pizza? something squishy and then what felt like a roll of money.

He pulled it out and smiled broadly when it was. Too bad he’d have to give it all to Grimmjow. Or did he?

And speaking of the devil, the blue eyed man emerged from the kitchen the moment he pulled his hand from under his pillow, nibbling on something gross looking he might thought Renji recently cooked.

“Here.” He threw the wad over to Grimmjow who caught it flawlessly even while juggling the purple looking food? he was eating in one hand.

“Keep getting your rent in on time and maybe I’ll fix your shit on time. Ever consider getting a real job?” he said, and to Renji’s relief, simply tucked the money in his pocket.

“Not but I have considered robbing you,” Renji replied, looking him up and down, deliberately taking a fraction of a second longer over his jeweled fingers.

Grimmjow looked up to sneer deliciously, a malicious glint in his eyes, his hair standing on end as if electrified by the promise of a challenge. “I dare ya ta try,” he growled.

Renji chose not to respond to this just as he chose to ignore Grimmjow’s roving stare raking down his body, measuring him up.

“Heh, something might interest ya in that.” He stopped abruptly and kicked a newspaper from the doorway closer to Renji when he turned to leave.

“Know something I don’t?”

“Nah. And next time make something better, this shit’s hardly edible.” He finished with a long lick of his palm and wiped his hand along the corridor wall. Classic Grimmjow.

“Oi, aren’t you gonna fix the door?”

“Door’s fine,” he called without looking back.

“Che” Renji moved away from the newspaper like it had a contagious disease and settled into bed once more. He was far from sleepy at this point, already having been fully awake for more than ten minutes.

He stared up at the pattern of light dancing across his ceiling and drifted over the numerous paintings he had displayed on the walls, not to hide the cracks mind you. Oil paintings, random sketches he’d done, some he had submitted but were bashed, he’d even tried using coal at one point.

It turned out okay in his opinion but okay was not up to par. And in this business, okay was left to die in favor of fantastic.

You see, Renji was an artist, a very good one to some and a mere monkey wielding a paintbrush to others, but an Artist he was. Not an acclaimed one or a famous one, but he tried, and honestly he thought his art was good. When he looked at it, he saw all the things he was trying to convey that was apparently lost on others. Being a person who strived to create beauty was a noble and romanticized effort, but unless you got many commissions or had loyal buyers, it didn’t exactly pay the bills.

Still, knowing this, it was what he chose. He could never forget the first time he saw the one piece of art that changed his life.

He was eleven years young, doe eyed and oblivious, coming home from school through the shopping district. A gallery was having an opening and it was strictly by chance or some twist of fate that he held his head up and looked to his left, just at that moment. In an alcove close to the show window, in the foreground of white painted walls, surrounded by people, sat the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.

It was a painting of fallen angels, crying, faces the exact portrait of despair. He stared for what felt like hours, finding himself unable to tear his eyes away from it. He wasn’t even aware that he had been crying until someone had shaken him roughly to ask if he was alright.

He couldn’t remember if he had answered or how he had made it home so quickly. All he could remember and still remember, was the intense sadness he felt just by looking at it.

He’d felt the painting, as strange as it sounded.

In an attempt to understand why he reacted that way, he started to pay more attention to art and even frequented galleries. When that wasn’t enough he tried his hand at a few dabbles of his own, all pathetic. But he wouldn’t give up. He wanted to make something inspiring that could evoke a similar reaction from all who saw it, just like that one had done to him.

All other studies cast aside, he devoted his time and energy to art, even attending a school solely for it despite his parent’s argument that he should pursue something more suited to him that could also consistently support him, like web design, graphics or some other monotonous shit.

After two years at art school he graduated and then…just stopped. Learning to do it was one thing, launching into a career was something entirely different.

It did not going well.

He did a few odd jobs here and there to buy supplies and weighed down by the hopeless fog, he gave into his parents’ pressuring about a cooking course; the idea of him in a 2 foot tall white hat serving up exotic dishes thrilling his mother.

After that he worked as an assistant chef in one of those upscale restaurants where they are more concerned with how the food looked rather than how it tasted, if it could even be considered as three mouthfuls, and if they could continue to get away with their high-class robbery.

Who in their right mind would pay over one thousand yen for three shrimp with ‘pretty’ sauce? Needless to say Renji didn’t eat there, unless you counted the little tastes he took when no one was looking.

It wasn’t long before he started to notice something.

They didn’t jut slap food on a plate and serve it. There was a method to the way things spiraled outward and towered upward, to the creatively unique way it was presented and served that made it somewhat… artistic. That poison arrow struck its mark with precision and he could not let it go.

His photography phase came next. He took pictures of the dishes he created and sold them to magazines. Just a hobby! He insisted vehemently but then he fell again, back into what he had forgotten or at least, what he wanted to forget but couldn’t.

He wanted to paint again.

He moved out of his parents’ house and bought a flat in this dowdy neighborhood and that’s how he got here. None of his work got him the recognition he had hoped and he was stuck living in this shithole of a flat, barely scraping by.

“All for the dream, huh?” he said to himself idly ignoring the stupid newspaper’s silent summon. In the spirit of keeping himself busy, he decided to do some cleaning, mainly scrapping everything in sight under his bed. Not long after, his stomach grumbled alerting him that it was past breakfast time.

Breakfast—a cup noodle – was finished in two minutes because who the hell had time to wait three minutes and then let it cool? He tossed it in almost spitting all of it back out when the hot liquid burned his tongue.

“Shit, shit – hot!”

“Renji?”

Over by his doorway with a box in her hand was Rukia, a look of confusion on her face.

“Rukia! Huh? What’s wrong?”

“What happened to the door?” she asked, stepping in and around it.

“Door’s fine.” Renji sighed, repeating what Grimmjow had said to him earlier just as carelessly as it was thrown at him. But his face still twitched when he thought about having to repair it.

Rukia looked back and forth between him and the door but said nothing more about it, already used to things like this when Renji – and no doubt his barbaric landlord – were involved. “I brought breakfast. Hungry?”

“Always!” he replied without reservation, inhaling the sweet aroma of bacon and warm butter biscuits.

She smiled and pulled up a chair at the small table in his all in one living-dining-bed room.

“So…” she began, looking at him with obvious excitement.

“I haven’t looked yet.” He tried to sound nonchalant, as if he hadn’t been waging a silent war of will power with the newspaper all morning. The mere thought now made his stomach turn and he no longer felt hungry. This was always the nerve wracking part, the part where his head felt light and he fought back the waves of nausea.

He submitted one of his works for a gallery opening and the reviews would be in the paper today. Rukia always read them for him, him being too nervous and anxious to do it himself. If it was left to him, he would skirt around all day and never find the courage. It made him thankful that he had her and that she decided to stay even after that disastrous day he had to refuse her feelings after she’d confessed to him.

They were childhood friends, and as much as Renji loved her and would always love her, it would just not be in that way. He flung around his pathetic excuse of wanting to focus on his career – ha! What career?! – and not being on the market for a relationship at this point in his life. Which point exactly he didn’t know.

How many times had he said that to pleading eyes?

That wasn’t the real reason, but there was a reason, buried not so deep inside, but shrouded by a thick veil of denial.

She still stuck around, and for the sake of their friendship pretended like it never happened. Pretended she never poured her heart out to him through emotional sobs. Pretended she wasn’t reduced to a crying bundle.

He didn’t want to hurt her, she was so petite that she gave off the air of being vulnerable almost fragile. She deserved more than he could provide, he knew, certainly he did as well?

He scrunched his eyes shut as Rukia scanned for the page. A few seconds passed when she said nothing so he opened an eye to see if she was alright. The look on her face when she looked at him said more than words could have.

“Renji…”

All the breath he’d been holding came out in a rush. He felt empty. The half sad, half pitiful look she was trying not to give him made him feel worse. Now that he knew the news was bad, it made it somewhat easier to read. He took the paper from her hands to see for himself.

The critics had a field day with him, calling his work a myriad of colorful words, none of them good. ‘

“ ‘Uninspiring’, ‘flat’, ‘unimaginative’, why tha fuck don’t they just call it dog shit and get it over with.”

He slumped forward, resting the side of his face to the cool wood. “I hate my life.”

“C’mon Renji, what do they know. Your art is great!” She patted his back soothingly. “Not everyone is bound to like it.”

“No one liked it,” he complained, knowing he sounded bitter.

“Maybe you just need a little help. Look here.”

She was pointing at a man in the article right underneath the title Mysterious Disappearances in bold print. A quick read through and he found his name. Kuchiki Byakuya. “So that’s how he looks…” Renji had only heard about him but not once seen him. From what he knew, he owned many companies and he was also an accomplished artist with numerous masterpieces to his name. He knew he had to be some sophisticated bastard but he didn’t expect him to look like so….

“It says he’s looking for an apprentice,” Rukia pointed out.

“Not interested.”

“What! Why?”

“I don’t like him, look at him in his fancy ass suit. Aint nothin’ I need ta learn from him.”

Rukia blindsided him with her small fist and then pulled his ear. “Idiot! Pride will get you nowhere. Its either you want this or not stop fooling around. He could really help you!”

Renji brain was reeling. Having a lecture screamed into ones ear could do that. Rukia smiled gently, resting her hand on his. “Promise me you’ll think about it, Renji.”

Damn it, he should have just stayed in bed. He made a mental note to burn his alarm clock and invest in some curtains. Rukia and her big, shiny eyes awaited n answer of some kind. Would she scream again if he said no? Yep, he had a feeling she would.

“Maybe…” he said vaguely, not brave enough to make it any different. She smiled and hit him across the head again.





~


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