A/N: This is the LAST chapter :) Thank you all for the support! I might write more UraIchi in the future when inspiration strikes.
Details are Sketchy
"I think it's a bad idea." Yoruichi, for once clothed and human, sat with her arms akimbo. "Becoming human? You're forcing yourself into something you're not."
Kuukaku puffed on her pipe, her large eyes examining Kisuke opposite. "Just for the boy?"
Kisuke sighed. "Not really, no. But I don't see why you two came all the way over just to tell me you doubt my decision."
"Because it's a dumb decision, that's why," snarled Yoruichi. "Ichigo is human, so he ought to live and die as a human, but you are a shinigami! If you stepped out of that gigai now you can still recover. Kisuke, please think it over. You're gonna age and have wrinkles and sag and your sex drive will slow and you're gonna need Viagra if you stay human!"
"Whoa," Kisuke held up both palms, "why is aging such a bad thing? We age in Soul Society too, y'know. Just slower. We have to face death too, and this time I want to do so with the person I love."
Kuukaku tilted her head, puffs of smoke drifting up and dissipating. "What if you get sick of him in two years? Five? Ten? Twenty?"
The blond shopkeeper sighed. "Girls, do you think I'm leaping into a risk without calculating the odds? Is that what I am?"
"No," Yoruichi snorted derisively, "but you are an occasionally hormone-blinded idiot who can't see the sky for the clouds."
"Hormone-blinded idiot? I'm more than rational enough for any three beings you care to name."
The other female only smoked leisurely, her eyes half-lidding as they did to lull her companions into thinking she was off in her own world. Kisuke would have bet a bottle of premium sake on Kuukaku being able to repeat what Yoruichi and he said, word for word.
Finally Kuukaku tapped out her pipe ash. "Yoruichi, shut up. I want to listen to Kisuke."
She was probably the only person who could do that to Yoruichi without being thrashed afterwards. Being from similar backgrounds, along with a history of battling side by side through some of the most vicious conflicts and their shared love of pranks on the high and mighty bonded them close as sisters. Kuukaku never held a zanpakuto, having disdained the Gotei after her brother's death, but she was the only one who dared succor Yoruichi without fear when she traveled into Soul Society.
"Ladies, this is unnecessary." Kisuke shifted on the cushion he sat on. It was time to buy new ones. "I love Ichigo. I want to grow old with him, not have him move with the passing of time and leaving me behind. I have existed in this plane for a long time, and I think I ought to try being human for once. Does that satisfy you?"
Gradually, Kuukaku smiled. "You're gonna be sick and tired of him after a year."
"I won't," replied Kisuke. His voice softened. "I am not a child, to be blinded by infatuation. Ichigo's character and mine mesh well. He needs someone to give him laughter and to guide him; I need someone to show me direct action and selflessness." His gray eyes turned to Yoruichi. "We fit, Yoruichi. We fit together, and we make each other better people. You couldn't have said that back when we were together. Or when I was with Sousuke."
"Sousuke was a bastard," growled Yoruichi, her tone darkening. "Slaughtered half my troops..."
Kisuke interrupted, "That was after. Back when he and I were together, we were in competition, always pulling each other down. It was unhealthy." He sighed.
Kuukaku was more than aware of the complicated cycle that had gone on before – she had been the one to knock sense into Kisuke's head, thrown him back on his knees to Sousuke, who had then paraded him to Yoruichi's without even listening to his apologies. Sousuke's famed patience had snapped by then.
"Long story short," surmised Yoruichi, "you gave up near-immortality to be with the brat because of your hormones."
Kisuke was about to take umbrage when he thought the situation over. It was late. There was one irate former lover and one knowing friend. Both were women who could beat him to a pulp and were also capable of grounding a topic to nubbins. Rapid calculations flashed through Kisuke's mind, and all the equations ended up zero. He was not going to win any argument with well-thought-out points.
He cracked open his fan and wafted gentle breezes towards his face. "Yuh-huh."
Ichigo shuffled over to the left with a few tired grunts. "The Female Inquisition finally released you?" he slurred sleepily, waiting for his older lover to settle and then curled into Kisuke's side.
"Thankfully, yes." Kisuke gritted his teeth as one of his knees creaked. The gigai was too stiff. "I can't believe Yoruichi dragged Kuukaku along with her and woke me at one in the morning for this. And it's almost... shit, it's almost four."
"I can, uh, provide a few Dobermans and Rottweilers for her place, y'know," the redhead yawned and snuggled closer. "Just say the word."
"Tempting," murmured Kisuke, "but I think I'll let her live."
It was cold enough to be cuddling, thankfully. No doubt in the full heat of summer Ichigo would kick Kisuke to sleep in the basement so the young man could hog the air-conditioned room to himself. The blond let his fingers trail through soft orange hair and lowered his lids. It was restful to sleep next to Ichigo: someone else's breathing, a warm body that restricted his movements, and the occasional sneaky groping.
Perhaps 'restful' was not the word to use.
The house squeaked and groaned as the wood contracted from the loss of heat. Kisuke felt his lids grow heavier and, with one last sniff of Ichigo's hair, fell asleep.
Grimmjow was yawning as he opened the door to the large house. "I just came back," he complained. "Even Tatsuki has the sense to give me a day to catch up with my sleep."
"Sorry to disappoint then," Ichigo grinned. "Oh wait, I'm not.'
Ichigo strode in and headed straight for the kitchen. He began stuffing food into the refrigerator, aware that Yuzu sometimes forgot that people liked unhealthy snacks now and then. Karin had sent a message (more like an SOS), bemoaning the lack of ice cream in the new residence and Yuzu's 'Kitchen Nazi' approach. The only persons Yuzu would not throw out of her kitchen were Ururu and Ichigo.
Aizen stood against a counter, staring blankly at a pot.
Ichigo joked, "I thought a watched pot never boils."
The joke fell flat. Aizen merely blinked once. "Does that hold true for a dying man? Because I would never let him out of my sight then."
Grimmjow leaned against the door. "Eh, I heard from Tessai that he was headin' back to Soul Society?"
"There's a job opening for a man of his abilities," said Ichigo.
"How about Urahara? Did he get a job offering too?"
Ichigo straightened. "He did."
"He turned it down."
Grimmjow chuckled. "Thought as much."
Ichigo scowled. "It's stupid."
"Hmm?" The teal-haired former Espada cocked an eyebrow at Ichigo. "Why's that? He's a grown man, he's made the decision."
"I keep feeling like I'm the one made him decide this course of action," Ichigo muttered. With Grimmjow, he seldom guarded his innermost feelings. Perhaps because they had tried to kill each other many times before and almost succeeded, or maybe because Ichigo thought of him as a blend of Tatsuki and Chad and an insane homicidal maniac. "And I feel guilty, of all things."
The taller young man - he was human now, for all intents and purposes – ran a large hand through his mop of unruly blue hair. "You should. He chose to live a nondescript human life, having to earn a living and pay taxes and fall sick and grow older and eventually die. That's because of you."
"And here I thought you'd offer some comforting words," said Ichigo dryly.
"Eh, I don't do that comforting shit. Leave that to the pretties." Grimmjow stretched and placed his hands behind his head. "But you ought to feel honored. Don't you?"
"Hell, he's a former captain, a fuckin' genius and insanely devious shopkeeper with all sorts of blackmail material. That man manipulated half of Soul Society, fought the other half, and managed to strike a bargain with those who wanted his blood," Grimmjow listed. "And we've both faced his bankai. You know he's powerful and probably a match for even that Aizen bastard. You don't feel honored, being chosen by him? I would, and I'm not a fag."
"I guess that's one way of looking at it." Ichigo nibbled his lower lip, not certain if he could change his perspective. Never mind: that could be put aside. He had a long time to change his thoughts; Kisuke wasn't going anywhere.
:That just gave you a happy, King.:
:Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away...: For a hollow it had a pretty interesting voice, though Ichigo believed that if his hollow had sung the theme song, Sesame Street would be a show requiring Parental Guidance. :On my way to where the air is sweet...:
"Hey," Grimmjow yawned again, "let yourself out, okay? Kinda bushed."
"I thought you got back in the afternoon yesterday."
Grimmjow lifted an eyebrow and smirked. "Your point being?"
The redhead snorted. "You'd better be using protection."
Kisuke sneezed. Tessai paused. "Are you coming down with a cold?"
"No," said Kisuke, waving his friend off. "I'll visit you when the gigai is more settled."
Tessai bowed. "It has been an honor here with you, boss. I leave the children in your capable hands."
The shopkeeper grinned uneasily. "Why does that sound like a threat, Tessai-san?" He lowered his hat half an inch and added, "Of course. They are as my own flesh and blood. More so since I can't have any. Won't have any."
Yoruichi, again in her feline form, sat stiffly on a rock. "I still don't approve."
"Thankfully I don't need it," Kisuke retorted. "Though you're certainly old enough to be my mother."
"Children, children," said Kuukaku with a yawn. "Grow up, hmm? Yoruichi, drop it. Kisuke knows what the fuck he's doing."
"Yeah right." Yoruichi unsheathed and sheathed her claws.
Kisuke stifled a spark of annoyance. "Bye now. Don't come back till you're past the monthly, Yoruichi. Or are you undergoing menopause? Because I know a gynecologist who works for Ishida's father-"
A scratch across his fan – intended for his face – and the cat was striding off, her tail erect in the air. "Don't come crying to me when you realize you made the wrong decision," she called back. "Moron!"
Kisuke shut the fan. Sometimes it was hard being Yoruichi's friend, especially when her possessiveness flared up at the oddest moments. Kuukaku patted his shoulder and conveyed her support before loping into the Senkaimon. Tessai hefted his suitcase and tugged another large sack behind.
"Don't be a stranger now," said Kuukaku from inside the doorway. "Drop in and I'll put on a fireworks show for ya!"
"Ten percent discount!"
Kisuke, grinning widely, showed her the finger as a response and she laughed raucously and bounded into Soul Society.
Dinner at the new house was strange.
Tatsuki acted as the lady of the household, chivying the rest around as she cooked. Grimmjow was the head of the household, snapping at Jinta to behave and set the table while brandishing his own set of sushi knoves. Ururu and the twins were at the game console, and Karin was losing spectacularly to Ururu at Go Go Hirako! It was one of the earliest sets that rolled off the assembly line: Hirako Shinji decided to turn his, quote, "unbelievably forward-looking visionary sense of style", unquote, into his personal brand and marketed himself as a spokesperson. With his exaggerated reactions and chemistry with Hiyori, the pair had broken into the gaming world and made Go Go Hirako a household name.
Ichigo privately thought the success was because of Hirako's cartoonish appearance, and also for the way the game character Hirako made an amusing splatch sound when he was hit by a flying slipper courtesy of Evil Sporting Gear Queen Hiyori.
"So anyway, I was telling father and mother and they're alright with me moving out," said Tatsuki, "but only because I don't have to pay rent."
"You mean they are fine with you staying here to watch over the children-"
"-we're not children!" yelled Jinta, Ururu and the twins in unison.
"- the very immature children and also with Grimmjow?"
Tatsuki shrugged expressively. There might have been a faint blush, but Ichigo couldn't tell. "He's been over a few times for dinner. They think he's good for me, keep me in line and, well, he is a devilishly good cook."
"I wouldn't put it past him to drug his cooking," put in Ichigo. He was stirring the soup and adding tofu cubes. "And you have the oddest parents anywhere. If he was my sister's boyfriend, I'll kick his ass into a brand new shape and then disembowel him, just in case." He raised his voice. "You can relay that to Toushiro also!"
"Not listening!" Karin retorted from the den.
Kisuke laughed. His stir-fried vegetables were already up and the grilled saba fish was almost ready. "Nah, Ichigo, it's not wise to interfere with other people's love lives now." They shared a glance and ichigo smiled and ducked his head.
Grimmjow grunted. "New rule: no PDA while we're cooking."
"Grimmjow," warned Tatsuki with an admonitory finger..
The tall man smiled in a feral manner and caught her hand. "Except for me and Suki," he amended and glared at Kisuke and Ichigo, who rolled his eyes.
Ichigo sipped the soup. It was ready. "You need to keep him on a short leash, Tatsuki."
"Why, you plan to lend us yours?" Tatsuki zinged back, and Grimmjow laughed loudly. "Throw in the collar too, will ya?"
The redhead made a face at the chuckling couple. "You deserve each other," he told them. "Bad influences, both of you."
"I found the Invisible Jumpsuit!" Karin cheered from where she sat. "Yeah – WHOA."
"Whoa what?" Ichigo strolled over and then his eyes widened. He grabbed the remote for the screen and clicked it off, all in a fluster. "No wonder the first version was pulled off the shelves!"
Yuzu giggled. "But he was so cute!" Ururu agreed, her large doe eyes twinkling with merriment.
"Yuzu!" Ichigo was scandalized. This was what came of growing up. He should just bundle her into Seireitei and keep her at the same age forever. But considering the shinigami and their weird shenanigans... nah.
They sat around the table. Jinta slumped over. "I miss Tessai-san already," he murmured.
Kisuke ruffled his hair. "We'll visit next weekend, alright?"
The boy brightened. Ichigo smiled and nudged his lover's foot with his own, and soon their ankles joined as they finished their meal in convivial chatter.
They sat on the roof, staring at the night sky. Ichigo was in Kisuke's embrace, leaning against his chest and enjoying the steady heartbeat. The blond wrapped his arm tighter when a gust of chill wind blew past.
"Kisuke," said Ichigo, shifting to look at him. "I... the decision you made, um. I, erm... I feel, I feel... that um. Ah, screw it." Ichigo twisted about and placed a hot kiss on Kisuke's mouth. The blond man was surprised, but welcomed Ichigo's questing tongue and gentle lips. After a moment or two, Ichigo pulled away. "There. That's what I wanted to say."
Kisuke touched his young lover's cheek and then leaned forward to peck him on the nose. "I love you too."
Ichigo blushed and scooted back a little. Tried to anyway; he overbalanced and tumbled over down the roof. Flaiiling about Ichigo grabbed the first thing his hand encountered, and dragged Kisuke down as well.
When they finally extracted themselves from the tangle of limbs and bushes, Kisuke took one look at Ichigo's irate face and burst out laughing. "You... it was just a kiss!"
"Yes, yes," sighed the redhead. "I'm an idiot. Get used to it: you've already bought the merchandise and it's non-refundable."
"I wouldn't exchange it for the world," whispered Kisuke, changing the mood swiftly and pulling Ichigo back into a hug. "I love you."
"I..." Ichigo swallowed and muttered the words into Kisuke's neck, near his left ear. He then took the opportunity to nip the shell to repay him for the laugh, but Kisuke swung Ichigo over his shoulder, firefighter-style, and ran inside the house, ignoring protests and complaints. After a while, there were no more sounds beyond that of fabric and the impact of things in the house.
Gavin Kent stretched his arms out and rolled his shoulders. "Adrien, why on earth must we move halfway across the world just so you can finish that damn book? We could have stayed in San Fran."
"I do have to spend a semester at the university here, Gavin," Adrien soothed his platinum-blond lover. "But at least I found us a house which is quiet and out of the way, so you can concentrate on your paintings."
Gavin almost pouted. It was almost irritating, the way Adrien always found some way to make things easier on him. Yet letting Adrien settle here in Japan by himself was unacceptable – having found his brown-haired lover, there was no way Gavin was leaving him to the snares of others.
Not that Adrien would fall for those traps, of course. The man was too smart for them. But knowing there would be those stalkers irked Gavin.
The house Adrien had rented was a sprawling one-story, in the traditional style and a tall fir stood in front of the house, obscuring the interior from casual eyes. A much older man, probably in his fifties, was standing at the gate, idly tapping a cane against his leg.
Adrien squeezed Gavin's hand once before striding up to the man. "Hello. I'm Adrien Bryce Emrick, the professor who contacted you three weeks ago."
The older blond man was staring at Adrien. Gavin would have bristled, except the man was not ogling Adrien's good looks but staring as if he had seen a dead man. He recovered when Gavin took one step forward though. "Good afternoon. These are your keys and here is a map of the neighborhood, should you need anything. Shall we go in?"
"Certainly. Gavin?" He gestured for Gavin to precede him.
The blond realtor's – Gavin assumed it was the realtor – his phone rang. He flipped it open and answered. "Hey. Yes, they're here. Are you coming by? Alright. Alright. You too." He then turned to Adrien and Gavin. "The owner is coming over in about half an hour's time. He can clarify any doubt you may have."
"It's perfect," said Gavin, surprising himself. But he felt at home here, the instant he stepped in. "It's really wonderful. Where is the cat?"
"Cat?" asked the realtor. "I... I don't think there has been a cat here for a long time."
Gavin frowned. "Hmm. Well, tomorrow I'll go to the pound and adopt one. What do you think, Adrien?"
"A black one?"
"Mm-hmm. And we'll call it Snowy for in-your-face irony," Gavin added cheekily. He wandered about the main room.
Adrien watched him for a few seconds before turning back to his contact. "Mr, erm, Mr Urahara, how long has it been since someone stayed here?"
"Two, three years ago," said Mr Urahara. "They had to leave for Mexico. They're good friends of mind, if rather rowdy – so are their kids – so I'm still trying to get used to the silence in this house."
The brown-haired man smiled. "I'm sure the silence won't bother me." He looked over and saw Gavin seated on the floor, leaning against the door. Gin was sleepy, obviously; he was snoozing where he leaned against.
They talked of more inconsequentialities until the owner ran into the house. "I'm sorry I'm late," he said, bowing a few times, "the project team lost their data. They had to restart the calculations." He was a slightly younger man than Mr Urahara, and his orange hair was quite striking for a businessman.
"No problem," answered Mr Urahara, standing up and smiling at the owner. "Ichigo, this is Mr Adrien Emrick, the one I mentioned some time ago. He'll be living here, with Mr Gavin Kent over there. Mr Emrick, this is Mr Kurosaki."
Again that startled gaze: Mr Kurosaki found him and Gavin fascinating, it appeared, and it wasn't due to their being gaijin. Still, they were here for business. "If you have the lease papers, Mr Kurosaki."
"Oh, right. Here." Mr Kurosaki pulled out a thin binder with the document imaging sheet within. The papers were signed in rapid order, and Adrien shook their hands.
"Thank you again. I will take good care of this house." The Englishman nodded at both men. It was evident they were lovers too: the discreet touch of their hands, the few shared glances, their identical fragrances. That would explain why they were willing to lease to a gay couple, professor or not.
After they had left, Adrien went to wake Gavin. "Love, get up. You'll hurt your neck sleeping here."
Gavin blinked green-blue eyes open languidly. "Aizen-sama?" he drawled, still half-asleep.
"Mmm," Gavin sat up and covered his mouth. "I need a bed."
They made their way to it. It was already made in pristine white sheets. Gavin made a fuss over sleeping with his clothes on, but since the heater was not checked yet Gavin gave in to Adrien's gentle scolding.
"You'll sleep early?" asked Gavin. "You know I dislike being in strange surroundings by myself."
"I know." Adrien grinned and kissed his silver-haired lover on the cheek. "Rest, love. I'm here with you."