A/N: The sexual content has been removed from this chapter—this chapter has been edited to fit the guidelines of fanfiction dot net. If you wish to read the full version, you must be 18 years or older. It can be found on LiveJournal under my username as Desperatembrace. If you have trouble finding it, the link is in my profile as my homepage.
Started July 5th
Completed July 17th
Disclaimer(s): I do not own Bleach. Boo.
Clatter was heard all around the restaurant, every single table full with hordes of merry and lively customers. Families playfully scolded each-other at their individual tables, groups of friends laughed and joked loudly with each-other. Some groups had multiple tables pushed together (consequently causing many waiters to silently curse the huge amount of people and undeniable workload that would follow). Waiters and waitresses, dressed comfortably in nice button-up shirts and slacks, with simple black aprons, darted about the isles, dodging small children and hurrying back and forth between the kitchen and their guests. Contrary to the hustle and bustle of the employees, it was a relaxed atmosphere, a comfortable feeling emanating through the building, giving many customers a sense of warmth. It was precisely because of that nearly-impossible-to-obtain atmosphere that the restaurant was so popular.
Well, that and the mouth-watering food.
Pantera had quickly risen through the ranks, becoming the number one restaurant in just eight months following the day it had opened. Almost immediately it had picked up a great deal of customers, usually from the two nearby universities. As the weeks passed, it gained more and more credibility until it was constantly full, never without a customer.
While the waiters pranced about through the aisles in the front, the owner and founder of the popular restaurant stood in front of the stove-top back in the kitchen. Taking a moment to rub at his brow with the back of his hand, the man did a quick snap of his wrist, skillfully flipping the food in the skillet.
The blue haired man looked up, not even pausing in throwing in seasonings. Luppi, a rather petite waiter jogged through the chaos that was dubbed the kitchen. Barely dodging a plate full of sautéed chicken and onions, he stopped in front of his boss and employer, cocking his hip slightly. "It's time for your break," he stated, raising an eyebrow and jabbing a thumb toward the doorway.
"What? No it's not," Grimmjow replied, lips twisting. He gave a pointed look at the digital clock hanging on the far wall. "Besides, I don't need a break. And when the hell did you start thinking you can tell m—"
Luppi cut him off, hands raised in a half-assed 'give-up' gesture. "The berry is here." When his boss stopped and seemed to deliberate over the words, he flashed a smile and pranced away, cleverly evading a sous chef passing by with a couple of pans.
Glancing at the skillet he had been working with, Grimmjow heaved a small sigh, glancing around before snapping his fingers at a man with long yellow hair tied at the nape of his neck. "Granz! Take care of this for me! Table 9!" Not even bothering to watch for him to nod, the blue haired man maneuvered through the kitchen and out of the door, stepping into the lobby area. Not spying a head of orange hair anywhere amongst the patrons, Grimmjow blinked, momentarily stumped. There was a moment of contemplation before he rolled his eyes and backtracked, instead making his way into the changing room.
True to his suspicions, he walked in the room just in time to find Ichigo dropping his bag to the floor and rolling his shoulder, popping the joint with a contented sigh. He clicked the door shut behind himself, startling Ichigo to turn around. When he saw Grimmjow, however, he dropped his arms with a ghost of a smile, crossing the room to plant a chaste kiss on his lover's lips. When the older man attempted to push the kiss into something a little more heavy, however, Ichigo pulled back, smacking him lightly on the jaw.
"You're working, Grimmjow."
Noticing the fact that Grimmjow was still leering at him, Ichigo rolled his eyes, stepping out of the embrace with a low chuckle. He ignored the reverberating groan (that he supposed he probably shouldn't have heard) that emitted from the older man, clearly showing that he was not pleased. Making his way back over to where he dropped his bag, Ichigo dropped onto one of the chairs and rolled his neck, rubbing at the sore muscles lightly. Squinting his eyes open, he peered at his boyfriend, catching the subtle twitch of the man's hand. Instantly, a scowl was upon his lips.
The blue haired man frowned and looked away, crossing his arms like a petulant child. There was no doubt in his mind that the man had been thinking about giving Ichigo a massage, which would, in turn, likely morph into something of a more sexual nature. Ichigo felt a soft whisper at the back of his mind, just barely loud enough for him to hear.
"…cares if I'm working…"
"Damnit, Grimmjow. You're working! Busy!" He almost smirked when he heard the low growl from his lover's throat, instead choosing to smother a yawn behind his hand. Things had been going real well for them. It had taken a few years, but the two of them had figured out that they had the whole package of the reverse twins. Not only did they share physical sensations, but they also shared emotions and, when they were strong enough, thoughts.
Just as Grimmjow was currently demonstrating.
The older man allowed his shoulders to droop slightly, relenting in his non-verbal (sorta… if you weren't counting the thoughts that were slipping through their connection) battle. Instead of saying the words that were slithering at the back of his mind (dirty, naughty words), Grimmjow asked, "So how'd it go?"
Ichigo abruptly stood up from the chair and made his way to one of the lockers, quickly stripping down and expertly changing into one of the waiter uniforms. Ignoring the stare that was surely lingering on his ass, Ichigo tossed a mysterious smile to his boyfriend and side-stepped the question. "Never mind that. Business looks busy today so I'll help out. Besides, you want to get back to work now, right?" Shutting the locker with a snap, the red head made his way past Grimmjow and to the door, shaking his hips slightly as he walked. With one last smile, Ichigo stepped out of the portal, allowing the door to shut behind him.
Standing frozen in the changing room, Grimmjow stared at the door, emotions in a chaotic hurricane after that taunting display. He really wanted nothing more than to stalk after his lover and drag him back in the room for a little fun, but at the same time, he wanted to immerse himself in the craziness that he called work. After a few moments of contemplation, a grateful smile won out on his features and he made his way back to the kitchen. That was one of the things he loved about Ichigo. He understood his workaholic tendencies and was perfectly fine with it.
Either way, there would be time for those kinds of entertaining activities after closing hours. He pushed the tempting thoughts (and hovering fantasies) aside and scrunched his nose in thought. Ichigo had deliberately ignored and cast his question aside. Now he wanted nothing more than to follow him and bug him into answering.
But, again, he could always corner him after closing hours…
Grimmjow pushed open the door leading to the kitchen, intending to immerse himself him in work. Soon enough, the hours would have passed by and he would get his answer from Ichigo.
Grimmjow sighed as the last employee disappeared into the main entrance, allowing himself to sink into the leather of the booth seat. Today was a hard day. It was always a chaotic mess during the weekends. Even worse was the fact that it was only Friday—the weekend had only just begun. He allowed his head to fall with a dull thunk to the table-top, releasing a cleansing breath of air when he felt the cool temperature.
Running a popular restaurant was hard work.
He almost jumped when he suddenly felt a pressure on his shoulders, relaxing when he realized who it was.
"Ichi…" His lover was unable to see the small smile that had stretched across his lips. A groan fell from his mouth when the hands began to work into his muscles, pressing and rubbing in soothing circles.
"You were quite busy today. Tired yet?" He heard the spark of concern in his voice. But that wasn't what tipped him off to the worry that his boyfriend was radiating—it was the link. He could feel a bubble of concern at the back of his mind—something that Ichigo probably didn't know that he was projecting across the connection. As if reading his mind, Ichigo pressed a little harder into the massage and the bubble in the back of his head popped, as if it had never been there in the first place. He allowed himself a chuckle.
"You were about as busy as I was, if not busier," he mumbled out, recalling the few glimpses he had seen of Ichigo darting around with the different orders. It was getting steadily harder for him to speak. He was practically melting into Ichigo's skilled hands. Damn, the man knew how to give a good massage.
All of a sudden, his mind kicked into gear, the drooling, puddled mass congealing into solidity once more when he realized that he had been meaning to ambush the red head after closing hours. Almost regretfully, Grimmjow pulled away from the pleasant pressure of Ichigo's palms and sat up, tapping the table and giving the younger man a pointed look.
Concerned features shifted into a somewhat guarded expression as Ichigo circled around to sit in the seat directly across from his lover. Grimmjow propped an elbow on the table-top, resting his chin in his palm as he stared his boyfriend down. After a few moments of contemplation, he raised an eyebrow. "You were avoiding my question earlier," he simply stated, already knowing that he would understand exactly what he was talking about.
He wasn't really too sure what to expect when restating the question. He had, of course, assumed when Ichigo had avoided the answer, that there was going to be bad news. Maybe he had expected a depressed expression, or even a withdrawn, accepting expression. Grimmjow had not, however, been expecting the grin that bloomed across those tantalizing lips.
Brown eyes sparkled as Ichigo leaned forward a bit, setting both elbows on the table and propping his chin up on his twined fingers, a picture of childishness. "I am now an official doctor of Society Hospital."
Electric blue eyes widened slightly and Grimmjow's mouth dropped slightly. He wasn't surprised, but… He stood up and leaned across the table in a flash, ignoring the way Ichigo seemed to jump, caught off guard. Without warning, he captured the man's lips, giving him a hard, firm kiss. He pulled away, catching Ichigo's eye for a moment before leaning in once more, pressing his lips softly to the pair that he had grown to know so well for the past five years. He put everything he could into that kiss, letting the emotional warmth that had spread through his body seep through the connection. Grimmjow moved back, palms resting on the table as he watched his lover, smiling when he noticed how stunned the red head was.
"I knew you could do it. I'm so proud of you."
Ichigo looked back up, locking eyes with him. The bewildered expression melted into one of affection, a smile curving at his mouth. "Thank you."
Grimmjow walked around the table and slid into the booth beside Ichigo, wrapping an arm around him. Pressing the orange haired man's head to his collar-bone, the two fell into a blissful silence, each lost in their own thoughts. After a moment, Ichigo said, "I've been thinking…"
Snapping from his thoughts, Grimmjow glanced down, giving up on watching his lover's face when the only thing he got was a face-full of orange hair. Instead, he trained his eyes on the seat that he had been occupying only minutes before. He grunted, signaling for Ichigo to continue. There was a couple of seconds of hesitation before Ichigo continued. "I don't want to stay a doctor there for very long." Grimmjow blinked, a little confused, but stayed quiet, knowing that the younger man would expand on his thoughts.
"I think I want to open up my own clinic, like my dad did back home."
He squeezed the man in his arms, nuzzling his nose into the vanilla-scented hair. Grimmjow gave a low chuckle when something of a squawk issued from beneath him. "Go for it. You would have the experience from back home and from the hospital. And you could always have Szayel handle the finances. We both know he does wonders for the restaurant." He smirked slightly at the thought of their pink-haired friend.
When Pantera had opened, Grimmjow had handed the accounts over to him, having him handle all of the financial affairs that came with it. He didn't know what the man's job title was exactly, but all that he knew was he was supposed to handle the organization of business finances. Grimmjow could handle it himself, but he already had enough to deal with. He knew that Szayel would be good for the job and so far hadn't been disappointed.
Ichigo chuckled in his arms, shaking his head slightly. "No kidding. I might just do that." He curved his neck back, planting a kiss on Grimmjow's chin. "Come on. We can talk more about that later. We need to get home."
After one more brief squeeze, Grimmjow stood up, pulling Ichigo along after him and made his way to the entrance, hand entwined with the red-head's.
The door slowly shut behind them, the click almost deafening in the dark quietness that was their shared apartment. It was much larger than the previous separate ones that they had both been renting out, not that they much cared. They just wanted somewhere that they could both live. Grimmjow and Ichigo had only been living together for a good year—they had decided to combine their living quarters when the foundations for the restaurant had just been finished up. It was about that time that Ichigo had started on his last year of college and they had figured it was a fitting award for themselves.
After a few seconds of fumbling, Ichigo finally managed to locate the turn knob for the standing lamp in the living room. He let out a small chuckle as Grimmjow tripped slightly over the rug, abruptly stopping as the older man aimed a rather dark look back at him. Shaking his head in mirth, he followed after his lover, planting his palms on the man's shoulders, intending to steer him to the bedroom so that he could get some much-deserved sleep.
The red head was quite surprised, therefore, when Grimmjow spun around in his hold, slinking his arms around him with a devious smirk. The blue haired man nuzzled into his jaw, brushing lightly against the lobe of his ear. Swallowing the quiet moan that had crawled up the back of his throat, he instead asked, "What are you doing?"
It was a fairly obvious answer, but even then, Ichigo felt it necessary to ask. He wrapped his arms loosely around Grimmjow in return, eyebrow raised in contempt. Honestly. Did the man ever have anything else on his mind? Not to mention… hadn't he been tired just a few minutes earlier?
He was startled out of his inner ramblings when he felt a light nip on the shell of his ear. "I think that's fairly obvious. I'm giving you your reward for doing so good today…" Grimmjow's voice rumbled in his ear, causing a whole slew of goosebumps to break out down his neck. When Ichigo gave a quiet 'really?', the older man answered in the affirmative, taking large steps backwards in order to lead them to their shared bedroom.
Ichigo shook his head slightly, fighting the urge to giggle when blue hair tickled at his neck. They quickly found themselves in the bedroom and Grimmjow quickly turned and deposited him upon the maroon and black comforter. Finding himself momentarily perplexed by the sudden loss of heat, Ichigo sat up as best as he could, supported by one arm before situating himself upright. Almost immediately Grimmjow was on his other side, having circled around the queen-sized mattress. The soft material dipped under the blue haired man's weight as he climbed onto the bed and made his way closer to the middle, where his boyfriend currently sat.
Grimmjow murmured quiet words of affection, too low for Ichigo to understand what was being said. Where Ichigo had originally assumed that Grimmjow had wanted something of a more sexual nature, he found himself a bit surprised when he had instead began a comforting massage. Rough palms quickly shed him of his shirt, already working at the muscles of his shoulders. Grimmjow's thumbs ran in pressurized, reassuring circles, working in one individual spot for a few moments before moving to soothe another knotted muscle. Before long, Ichigo found himself lying on his stomach, groaning quietly as Grimmjow slowly made his way down the young man's back.
The pads of his fingers paused for a moment, hovering a few inches above Ichigo's lower back. After a split second decision, Grimmjow's hands were moving once more, now on a mission. Ichigo seemed to sense the change in intentions, for when a roughly padded fingertip brushed against his sides, the younger man released a moan and squirmed.
A smirk formed upon slightly chapped lips. Grimmjow sat atop the smaller-frame of his lover and guided his hand up the tan plane of Ichigo's back, caressing the jut of one of the red head's shoulder blades. When he didn't get much of response (which was surely being held back) he trailed his hand over to the other shoulder blade, smirk widening at the quiet groan that reverberated through the body below him. He scoot forward, lightly seating himself on his lover's back and leaned forward, breath tickling Ichigo's ear as he seductively murmured, "Now it's time for that reward, Ichi."
Noticing that Ichigo had bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut at that quiet promise, he quickly set to work. No longer aiming to give relief, his hands set to the task of building tension in the man below him, giving him fleeting touches. He started around the neck, brushing slightly against orange hairs at the nape and tracing the shoulders, fingertips dancing against toned biceps. After a few moments of this, his hands were on the move once more, palms grazing the ridges of Ichigo's spine and splitting off to lightly rub at the man's sides once more.
When he felt Ichigo squirm once more, he lifted himself onto his knees. Feeling the relief of pressure off of his back, the red head flipped over below him, back against the comforter as he eyed Grimmjow from his lower position. "I should have known that it wouldn't have been just a simple massage." Though he tried to hide it, there was a slight hitch to his words, showing that he had the beginnings of a loss of breath. Grimmjow's smirk lost all playfulness and became something that a predator would wear.
Surely whatever Grimmjow was planning wasn't good for his health.
Ichigo had quickly sat up as best as he could, huffing, sweating, and totally red, wrapping his arms around his older lover so that he wouldn't fall. Sex had always been a bit more intense for Grimmjow—it was simply the way that their connection worked. He had come to terms with this and took it as a sign for him to take control of the 'after' situation. He carefully maneuvered his lower-half away from the blue haired man and gave a quiet moan, feeling an abrupt sense of loss. He leaned Grimmjow against the pile of numerous pillows, smiling at the flushed, glassy eyed look that the man was sporting. After quickly cleaning the both of them up, Ichigo brushed the back of his hand against his boyfriend's cheek, softly smiling once more when the glassy look dissipated from the electric blue depths.
Without so much as a single word, he settled into Grimmjow's lap, pulling the comforter up around them and snuggling into the warmth his lover provided. The arms that wrapped around him were loose and comfortable. He always loved this moment—just after the sex.
It was like a quiet understanding between the two. They didn't need words—they never had. This was something of a sacred moment, where they rested after a physical connection and something of an emotional and mental connection was secured. It wasn't necessarily the supernatural connection that they had—it was something more base, indescribable.
Both men stared at nothing in particular, instead turning to their thoughts. Ichigo's thoughts wandered as they always had, wandering from one thought to the next. After shifting from the idea of the connection, he thought of something else. He found himself giggling, recalling one of his precious memories.
The arms tightened around him; a silent question. The only thing that he said in return was: "Do you love me?" His tone was teasing and light, low chuckles erupting from his chest. He could feel Grimmjow smile against his hair before a chaste kiss was planted on the crown of his head.
"Yes," Grimmjow simply replied, shaking his head slightly. Ichigo burst into small chuckles, completely amused. At one point, that particular reply would have blown him away (and actually had), but now… he wanted nothing more than to hear it on a regular basis. He couldn't live without his daily dose of Grimmjow. They lapped into silence once more, Ichigo latching onto his thoughts of their connection again.
In a way, it fit.
Grimmjow had always been too stubborn and prideful to admit that he could get hurt. Because of his tendency to 'be a man' and 'suck it up', he would suffer in silence. Had they not had the connection, Ichigo would have been scared that he would lose the older man to a physical injury.
On the other hand, Ichigo was stubborn to admit that he was pleased by certain sensations. While Grimmjow was a stuck-up bastard, he was still human. He needed reassurance that Ichigo honestly and truly liked the physical sensations that he was giving him. The connection allowed him to feel the pleasure that the red head felt and reassured him.
Their connection on the emotional level was totally reversed. Ichigo felt all of Grimmjow's positive emotions while Grimmjow would feel all of his negative. It was also rather suitable. The blue haired man felt rather awkward in expressing his feelings, so it was a bit hard for Ichigo to comprehend that he felt happy around him. Ichigo had a tendency to stew in his anger and hate rather than say something aloud, so the connection allowed for them to have a better understanding of one another and avoid unnecessary complications (like second-guessing each other's feelings and unknowingly hurting one another). Though they could keep a harness on their emotions and keep them from filtering through the connection, when they were particularly powerful, there was no holding them back.
It was nice to know that they could get their feelings across without the necessity of words (that would undoubtedly be rather awkward).
Lastly was their connection on the mental level. They could share their thoughts. Point blank. There was no negative or positive aspects to that part of the connection. They could share words mentally, but it wasn't really something they preferred. Out loud or internally, they were crap at socializing—they would be awkward no matter what. There were times when they used it though. It was particularly useful in the middle of crowds when they had something to say to one another that they didn't want others to hear.
Ichigo frowned. Yeah, he thought rather blithely, eyes staring unseeingly at the maroon of the fluffy comforter, More like Grimmjow likes to use it for dirty talk. Grimmjow found it immensely funny to watch Ichigo writhe to the promising words in the midst of their friends. He hadn't been kidding when he had said he was a sadist all those years ago.
He found himself falling back into thought once more, eyes trailing up to the textured ceiling. He hadn't really realized it, but him and Grimmjow were so different. They each had their own needs and worries, and as odd as it was, the connection reflected those perfectly.
They always seemed to contradict one another.
Ichigo smiled lightly to himself, finding it rather ironically amusing. Grimmjow looked down at him slightly, noticing that Ichigo had been rather quiet for a while. "What are you thinking about?" He inquired, locking his electric blue eyes with the brilliant brown that he had come to love. His voice was slightly hoarse and rumbled, showing that he was still feeling the effects of the orgasm but was able to function like normal. Ichigo merely shook his head in response, a small, mysterious smile on his lips.
Grimmjow searched the depths of his eyes, stretching his senses out a bit and focusing on their connection. When he sensed no negative emotions from Ichigo, however, he merely frowned and tilted his head, letting the matter go. There was a moment where he paused, staring off at nothing as he seemed to debate on something before he snapped back into himself. Grimmjow wriggled beneath him, slowly maneuvering Ichigo off of his lap and he twisted to plant his feet on the floor. Not really caring about his state of undress, Grimmjow shoved the covers off of himself and stood up, making his way to the bedroom door. Ichigo watched his every move, raising an eyebrow when the taller man paused in the doorway.
Tossing a quick smirk over his shoulder, Grimmjow said, "I'm gonna go get you water and some painkillers. I have a feeling you're gonna need them in the morning." He made his way toward the kitchen, laughing at Ichigo's immediate grumbling.
As he watched the tan-skinned man disappear around the corner, Ichigo allowed himself to relax into the pillows, blowing out a contented sigh, a smile working its way onto pink lips.
He may be a bit conceited… a little overconfident… a bit of an asshole…
Ichigo cut himself off, twitching slightly. The list of negatives could go on for quite a while… He shook his head, smile inching onto his face once more as his eyes softened, hands fisting the thick comforter lightly.
But he's sweet and thoughtful in his own way.
His eyes blinked back into focus, slowly trailing from the maroon and black of the bed to the white textured ceiling. His gaze rested there for a moment before his eyes slid shut, the corner of his lips quirking.
"I'm glad he's the one I'm connected to…" he murmured, the words unheard by anyone but himself, lost in the empty room.
No matter how much they seemed to fight and clash heads, no matter how they contradict one another, they both knew that as long as they were together, they would remain happy.
And that was just the way they liked it.
Haha, you guys got lucky. A whole 3 extra days of the uncut version. I've (sadly) been sick for the past couple of days (still am), so I haven't really had the chance to edit. I just got out from under my painkiller-induced high, so I decided that I'd better post. So here it is.
Hope you guys enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! You have been wonderful supporters and I look forward to hearing from you through my future works. :D