A/N: Yet another GrimmIchi fic. It was supposed to be about half its length , but it (or me) got carried away... +cough+ Sometimes it sounds a bit rushed, but I tried to keep it short. Warnings: yaoi, a plotline (I think it's worth a warning), sexual and angst innuendos. And there's a bit humor, but no crack.
Well, and yeah, have fun! :3
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach.
It happened during one of his night shifts at the supermarket when you were only expecting some drunkards and antisocial emo-like figures creeping through the rows of racks silently. Ichigo hadn't expected to see someone like him – his appearance was too colorful for an emo, even if he was clad completely in black, and he was too sober for a drunkard. However, his face resembled that of a zombie or anything other half dead walking.
"Woah, if your trousers get any tighter they may split." was everything he said, when he scanned Ichigo over.
"Good evening," Ichigo bid back with a deep frown marring his face, and patted his tight jeans carefully. It was unusual that someone rather commented his style of clothing than his bright, annoying hair. He scanned the few products (toothbrush, coffee, some cheap sandwiches, energy drinks, bottle of vodka) while scanning the customer, too. He looked like he hadn't slept in days and hadn't seen a shaver the same time (or any hygiene products for that matter); the stubs on his chin were as dark as the unruly hair and a strange gleam of unsound mind pronounced his blue eyes. Ichigo accepted the card he was given after announcing the prize. That's when he learned the stranger's name: Grimmjow something – he wasn't even able to read the surname, let alone pronounce the given name.
"That's you driver license," Ichigo said and waited patiently as the brunette blinked several seconds dumbly, until he hit his forehead with a flat hand and gave the cashier the correct plastic card.
Grimmjow kept that title longer than expected, even though he slipped into an oblivious part of Ichigo's mind. It was pure coincidence that he reappeared. Funnily, it was on a friend's vernissage in a small gallery.
He just had inspected a tiny painting (size 2x2 inches) when he accidentally bumped into another visitor. Before he was able to say anything, he was caught by two familiar eyes. Taking the rest in (dark/black clothes, a bag hanging from his shoulder and familiar bags under his eyes), recognition flickered over his face.
"Ah, the queer," Ichigo said almost automatically and clamped his mouth shut the next moment.
Despite the increasing gleam of insanity in those piercing eyes, the other man just laughed amused, gulping down the rest of his welcome glass of champagne. "Mr. Tight-Pants-Cashier," Grimmjow chuckled, eying him strangely. "Still wearing those ridiculous trousers? I'm surprised they don't squeak while walking."
"Never would have picked someone like you going to an art exhibition."
The brunette faked a hurt look, chuckling afterward. "I was invited." In fact, he looked more prepared than the time in the supermarket; the stubs weren't there anymore and his hair seemed to be in some kind of order. Obviously, he discovered his bathroom in the time being. "And what is a cashier doing here?"
"Supporting a friend of mine, the star of the night, so to speak."
"You're not speaking about financial support, do you?"
The incredulous look made Ichigo scowl again. "Frankly, I'm giving moral support; but you're right, whoring myself out would be more profit-yielding."
Grimmjow barked a laugh. "I like you," he admitted with a wide smirk.
Ichigo's brow twitched. "That was sarcasm." He took a step backwards. "Besides, you're not really what I've been looking for."
If it had been in the man's nature, he probably would have pouted; instead they were interrupted by the 'star of the night'. A pale arm slung around Ichigo's waist (too small to reach his neck) and a wide grinning face appeared next to him.
"Sorry, Ichigo," he patted his arm. "Those guys there were suffocating me with all their questions; couldn't say hello properly."
"Kon," Ichigo smiled lightly, squeezing the other man's shoulder. "Any success in selling something?"
The small brunette smiled widely. "Somebody was interested in my stuff-lion!"
Ichigo cringed inwardly. He knew that plush toy; it beats him how his friend was able to draw it when that thing was his bed companion for the last twenty years (he didn't dare to mention to the invitees that the plush lion was never washed before...and Kon used to sleep on it...)
"Ichigo, may I introduce you to a special person?" Shoving the surprised redhead to Grimmjow, Kon bowed in respect. "Ichigo, this is Mr. Jaegerjaquez, the genius planning this great gallery." Even if Ichigo was dumbfounded by the news, he was sure he would forget that name the second he left the gallery. "Mr. Jaegerjaquez, this is Kurosaki Ichigo, one of my closest friends and fans!" The last part wasn't particularly true, but Ichigo didn't want to spoil his good mood. "He is a master of his own handicraft!"
"Pottery" Ichigo clarified and ignored the curiously cocked brow of the blue-eyed guy. Hell, he knew that - because they were living in the era of Ikea - this handicraft became a very profitless art.
Kon intended to say something else, when a tall blonde interrupted them and led the artist away in order to answer some questions about one of his pictures.
Ichigo cocked a brow at the blabbering, retreating friend.
"A ceramist?" The voice held amusement as well as curiosity.
"An architect," Ichigo shot back, smirking lightly. That would explain the black clothes, even though Ichigo used to think it was a cliche. "Aren't you guys always have one foot in prison?"
"Better living with that thrill than being on the living wage." And in an afterthought: "That's why you earn a crust at the register?"
"I used to tour around the country to attend the few potters markets, but that wasn't very successful."
The guy nodded his head almost theatrically. "That's quite a sad story; you depend on such an awfully bad paid job and still earn more money than with your actual ambition."
Luckily – before either one of them went for the other's throat – the next friend popped up out of nowhere, pulling Ichigo away from Grimmjow to show him something on the other side of the gallery.
Despite his hopes to never see that strange guy – the queer, he chuckled, then more darkly: that bastard – again, he was damned to see him more recently – like, everywhere he was going. It was as if you bought a car and suddenly seeing the same car every day. You just hadn't noticed it before.
There was the time when he stopped with his bags of groceries on his way home, observing a man wandering around in a muddy, open space between two buildings. The guy shuffled his feet from one corner of the yard to the other, muttering incoherent things.
After a moment or two, he walked back to the street, spotting Ichigo standing there. He grunted a greeting and moved away, his shoes covered in dirt.
"What were you doing?"
"Analyzing the area." was the curt answer he got.
Another time, Ichigo saw him exiting the post office, his shoes weren't any cleaner than the last time he had seen him. The stubs had reappeared again and the bags under the eyes were more pronounced than before. In a moment of pity, he invited him for a coffee.
"Do you always wear a scarf? It's hot-" Blushing at the second meaning, he corrected himself, mumbling "-in here. It's summer, you know."
Grimmjow fingered that material, his smirk turned into a frown. "I feel nude without it. Moreover, that's my style," he said, scratching the itching stubs on his chin.
Ichigo laughed at that one.
He didn't know when those occasional meetings happened more frequently. And during another nightshift of his hateful, but necessary job, Grimmjow (appearance like the first time meeting him there) asked him for a real meeting. He wasn't sure if he avoided saying date but, shrugging, he accepted.
Since Grimmjow usually worked during nighttime on his projects, saying his head felt more independent in the silence from three to five o'clock in the morning, and Ichigo had a night shift as well, they met for brunch at a decent cafe. Halfway through the meal, Grimmjow mentioned that he had planned this very building, too.
Ichigo's eyes bulged and he observed the surroundings more intently. He was familiar with art, but architecture was a piece of its own, so he had no clue what he should say to Grimmjow, especially when the architect tried to not look to be curious about his reaction.
"I'm impressed." He said after a while. "I always expected buildings of architects contain just circles and inclined walls."
"Nah," Grimmjow said, poking his food, "I'm a pragmatist. Or a minimalist. 'm not that sure about it; but I hate it if a building is reduced to design and nobody feels comfortable living in there."
"That's an exemplary mindset." Ichigo actually smiled. "Say, are your decisions based on logical thinking or on pure instinct?"
Grimmjow gave him an incredulous look. "On logical thinking, of course."
"It isn't a given that everything has an intellectual background. Some people confide in their instinct."
Grimmjow snorted. "Those people are too stupid to do it right."
"My creations are based on my gut feeling!"
"Just proves my point."
They would often argue about what was more important – the rational or the emotional part. Not that they were able to find a common ground, but the discussion was always...interesting... when they weren't on each other's throat, that is.
The next weeks, they would meet every once in a while, strolling around the city, until Grimmjow pointed out one building, claiming it to be his 'baby'. He left several of them around the city. He told Ichigo that he had seldom the chance to see the reaction to his buildings face first, enjoying his comments and criticism.
"I won't achieve iconic status like Foster, Ando or Herzog & de Meuron-" Ichigo hadn't heard of one of them "- but I'm content with the work I do."
"Isn't that what's most important?"
Grimmjow chuckled. "You can't live from that."
Speaking of living: it was coincidence that they visited Grimmjow's office/home – he said he spent more time in front of his computer than anywhere else, so he considered his office as home already. His colleague was sleeping face first on the desk, his computer flickering softly in the dimmed room. Grimmjow assured him that Kaien was alright. Actually he was supposed to work, too, but he needed to get out or he risked going crazy. Even if he liked the nighttime for inspiration, he was forced to work at 'regular working hours' as well, especially when a deadline closed in on them. Stepping over stacks and stacks of papers littered up the floor, he led him to the upper level of the messy apartment. The white, white walls framed the spartan room which contained no color. At all.
"I need room to think," Grimmjow said.
"But your office is downstairs."
"I'm working everywhere, I got more problems to stop my stupid brain from thinking at all." Even if that sounded like a workaholic, Grimmjow didn't fit into that picture somehow.
Looking around the room once again – Grimmjow looked for his keys and the documents he wanted to mail – Ichigo spotted an innocent picture frame that seemed out of place for the apartment which had no decoration to begin with. He got a glimpse of a group of people when Grimmjow reappeared.
Shying his eyes away, Ichigo decided it was too early to talk about family business. So in reward, Ichigo invited the other man to his own atelier.
The next week, when Grimmjow stood in front of his door, Ichigo's mouth hung open. "What happened to you?" he asked and his fingers itched to touch the (now) bright blue hair.
"Accident." Grumbling, Grimmjow nodded to his bandaged leg and the crutches under his arm pits.
"Jeez." Ichigo took one crutch away, supporting the injured man when he put an arm around his waist ("Hey, it's just strained, not broken!") and leading him further inside his spacious home. The house was kept clean but the essence of the material was old and used. Homey.
"You hair color changed due to an accident?" Ichigo couldn't quite believe that statement, as he seated the other on a comfortable chair and pillowed the bandaged leg on a small stool.
"Believe me, the stares I got because of this annoying color drives my insane." Ichigo gave him a deadpanned look, sighing loudly. "Oh, yeah, forgot."
They decided to cancel the walk in the city and Ichigo made a small performance when he formed a tea cup out of a ball of mud. Oh, right, it was clay. Some coaxing and taunting comments later, Grimmjow was sitting on the same small chair in front of the pottery wheel, playing with his own ball of mud.
"Wait, you need to be more sensitive. Look, put both fingers this way, run them up to the rim and let them connect there. Riiiight, just like that."
"Stop that, that's girly," Grimmjow complained, but his face visibly brightened when his fingers ghosted over the clay with Ichigo's fingers leading him. Without the redhead's help, the ball would have stayed a muddy useless thing.
"Forming pottery is quite sexy, isn't it?"
"Are you talking about cheap porn?"
Grimmjow grinned. "Don't know, you tell me." Something dark emerged in the blue eyes.
"Are you...hitting on me?"
The disbelieving tone made the amused grin vanish instantly. Grimmjow shrugged. "Not particularly." Some shifting. "Forget it." Pulling back from the fresh made pottery, he cleaned his muddied hands on an old towel.
Ichigo shied his eyes away and busied himself with the task of cutting the form with a metal wire from the pottery wheel. He looked up when Grimmjow grunted while trying to get up on his own.
"I have work to do."
Ichigo didn't know whether it was an excuse or a simple fact.
Indeed, he didn't see the blue haired man anywhere outside, even if he looked out for him. He speculated that he hid because of his hair color, but that would be stupid. The only remainder was the small teacup they had formed together. He waited for Grimmjow, so he was able to see the finishing process; however, since he remained invisible, Ichigo glazed the cup with a dark color and fired it some days later.
Two months went by until Ichigo met him in the supermarket again, looking more like a zombie than he had ever before.
"Hey there, Mr. Tight-Pants-Cashier," he grinned weakly, scratching his neck. He tried some small talk but a big yawn prevented any coherent word. "S'ry," he said."Had 'n architectural competition. Hell of a lot work..."
Ichigo smiled encouragingly.
"Want to see my newest creation?" Grimmjow asked, the hands in the pockets were playing with some coins.
"The competition building?"
"Nah, it'll take some weeks until they announce the winner, and it'll take months to build that thing." He sighed. "Probably haven't won anythin'."
"Hey, cheer up! You'll get the price!"
Ichigo's shift would end within the next twenty minutes, and Grimmjow used the time to sponge any new information and occurrence Ichigo told him. He gave two of the rare customers a dark look as they rambled drunken nothing while buying even more alcohol. How pathetic...
"You always serve such guys?" Grimmjow was torn between respect and disgust.
"Yeah, sad, isn't it? Your social skills are suffering there." Ichigo smiled, walking alongside the bigger man. "Frankly, you were the first normal customer in a while, shopping at such an ungodly hour." He chuckled. "That was, before you acted retarded and like a dull-witted imbecile at the register."
Grimmjow shoved him into the next bush. Playfully, of course (?).
The next days were quiet but tense. Even if the work was paused for the moment, Grimmjow felt anxious and edgy the whole week as he waited for the announcement of the winner.
He smirked when he finally found the letter in his mail box.
The smirk fell because of the congratulations to the second price.
Nice, but he got nothing out of it since his project wouldn't be build. Not expressive enough. It was clear, well organized, cost-effective and energy-saving. But not what they wanted. Not representative enough.
The night of the announcement, he almost threw his computer out of the window. Instead he stumbled drunkenly to Ichigo's house.
"I lost..." After that, he collapsed in the entry right at Ichigo's feet, smiling when sleep finally settled in.
To say that Ichigo freaked out was an underestimation. He couldn't decide whether he should be furious or panicked. So he tried something less hysteric and settled for dragging the heavy ass on the next soft surface. And waited. Patiently.
Grimmjow couldn't care less. His body ached after the long rest he took, until his brain slowly kicked in again, forcing him into his working rhythm. He fought the waking some minutes until a light touch on his forehead sealed his lost. Again.
"Ouch," was his first word after blinking his eyes open, glad, that the curtain was shielding the sun rays. Passing out was really unusual for him. He hadn't had a black out since university and that was more than seven years ago. He sighed inwardly. Where did his life go?
"Gimme a sec," Grimmjow whined and pulled up a heavy arm, pumping a fist. "I'm as good as ready."
When his eyes blinked open and he was able to see something, he was greeted by a deep frowning Ichigo. "That didn't happen the first time."
No shit, Sherlock. "Shit happens."
"And still, I'm breathing. So get off my back." Apropos back: shitshitshit, there was an evil cramp down there! Nevertheless, his stubbornness made him sit up even if his whole body protested loudly.
"Wait." A strong hand stopped him from moving further and slowly, a fierce grip was punishing the muscle of his stiff, aching back. "Jeez, what were you doing? You're back is a whole mess of cramped muscles!"
Good, that Ichigo was pounding them into oblivion.
"Work," Grimmjow hissed, as Ichigo squeezed a spot over his left shoulder blade. "This fucking sitting in front of a computer all day, the bright, flickering light of the screen, the irregular and bad eating habits, the lack of moving and this awful sitting." He had to lean forward when Ichigo dug his blunt fingers into the bare skin of his lower back, whining loudly. His shirt fell to the floor next to the couch he was sitting on. "I'm getting fat."
Ichigo had to cover his mouth before he snorted out loud. Instead he leaned over Grimmjow's shoulder, gripped the skin on his stomach tightly and pulled it from his body.
"Hm, looks decent enough. You're not that young anymore anyway, aren't you?" He almost received a black eye for that comment. "Did I say something wrong?"
"You have no discretion."
"You were the one criticizing my trousers!"
Grimmjow sighed. "You're right," he admitted after a silent moment, his shoulders sagging. "My last hope is to have success like Louis Kahn; his most famous work was created when he was sixty. I should consider that as a realistic aim... Even if he was bankrupt after his glorious time and died."
Ichigo was still leaning over his shoulder, rubbing the belly slowly. "What about family?"
Silence. "I tried that once."
Ichigo cocked an eyebrow. Well, he didn't expect something like that. "And?" he asked hesitantly.
"What 'and'? Nothing." His voice was deep and humorless, even if he used that special self-irony. "First we were happy, family and working partners; then I was an asshole and she left with our daughter. Haven't seen her since."
Intelligent remark, Ichigo...
"Don't bother, it was supposed to happen sooner or later."
They sat there in silence, waiting. Ichigo's hand stilled over the other man's stomach.
"Do you blame your job?"
Grimmjow threw his head back (almost hitting Ichigo) and laughed loudly. "Well, of course it's the reason why!" he said in a tone as if it was the most plausible thing in the world. "After all, she was a damn architect, too!"
That was everything Ichigo would get to know about Grimmjow's family.
The whole evening they sat next to each other, telling stupid stories about their lives, often laughing about it like madmen, even if their stories were far from being funny. Apparently Kaien had officially left the office. His ultimatum had been the last architectural competition, saying if they don't land that job, he would be out. Now, well, he was out.
"Where did he go?"
"Dunno. There are so awfully many architectural offices everywhere, he will find his place."
"Hm," he leaned backwards, looking at the ceiling and seeing an ugly water damage in the left corner. "Probably taking in an intern. Students often are like starving animals. They need an internship." He grinned sadly. "Cheap workers."
"Isn't that a bit harsh?"
"Ichigo, I was used as well. And I can't effort to offer them money since work is a piece of shit and clients have long pockets and short arms..."
And Grimmjow would be right. For the next four months he didn't as much as see a client anywhere near his office and the offered competition weren't anything he wanted to create. As the number on his account shrunk to a three-digit figure, he run his fingers through his annoying blue hair, sighed once, twice, and made a phone call.
"Sure," Ichigo told him and run the ground plan of his house over, looking for a place, Grimmjow could stay. "There is the guestroom in the first floor. No, don't worry, I don't receive such important company anyway. And even if, I'll let them in my kitchen instead. Yeah, sure, don't worry, goddamn! Don't be such a pussy and come over! Of course it is no problem to stay here!"
The problems began when the moving van stopped in front of his home, its height was as big as the eave of his house. His eyes bulged.
A tattooed redhead came up to him, shook his hand in a greeting manner and ordered the other two colleagues to unload the vehicle.
"How much is it?" Ichigo asked meekly, remembering the size of the room he prepared for Grimmjow.
"Don't worry, it's just half of it filled with his stuff—guys, be careful with that thing!" Ichigo read the dirtied nametag on the blue working shirt of the barking redhead. Renji Abarai , to your service! A corny smiley was patched under it. He snorted.
Fixing a tea and some snacks for them, Ichigo came into the crowded living room, where mountains and valleys of boxes were decorating the unusual landscape. Nice.
A bald guy huffed angrily, rubbing his bare back. "Jeez, that guy was living alone, how could he store so much stuff?" He didn't seem to notice that he complained loudly.
The last – and bulkiest – man took gratefully his drink. His throat seemed to disappear between his broad shoulders and his hard chin and his hair was as flaming red as Renji's. Ichigo didn't feel as much out of place as he used to feel around unfamiliar people.
When the bald guy was about to grab a snack, Renji shoved him from the brown package he was sitting on. "Get up, we were supposed to be at the other side of the city twelve minutes ago!"
The other two muttered grumpily, stomping back to the van.
"Thanks." Ichigo cocked a brow as Renji reached out his hand and shook it firmly, but gently.
"It was my pleasure," he smiled broadly, holding onto Ichigo's hand just a little bit longer than necessary. Ichigo wondered, why he noticed something like that.
Grimmjow arrived two hours later, his mood not as good as Ichigo had hoped. "Stupid landlord." Then he shoved a plastic bag into the other's arms; a soft, mouth watering smell filled the cramped living room.
It took them half an hour to eat, four hours to unpack Grimmjow's things, twenty minutes to get the bath ready, steamy and hot, and two hours to relax in the warm fluid. It was way past midnight, when they slumped onto the couch next to each other, sighing contently and tiredly.
"That's what friends are for..." Yawning, Ichigo leaned backwards, his jaw hitting Grimmjow's shoulder when he pushed his head into the others collarbone.
He missed Grimmjow's smile that crept onto his face the next moment.
Ichigo had no idea of how much he helped the blue haired man even if he argued that he could only offer him a small room and a leaking roof. Grimmjow saved the whole rent of his old apartment/office, although he still had to pay the license for the expensive programs he was using. (Ichigo was dumbstruck, when Grimmjow told him that – even if he bought those programs for a painful sum – he was forced to pay the company every year, so he would be still allowed to use them)
In order to show his gratefulness, he let a small white envelope appear in Ichigo's postbox, who – as he opened it with a wary look – squeaked loudly and run excitedly around the whole house like a toddler receiving his Christmas gift early.
"Grimm, Grimm!" Said man looked up from the news paper innocently, licking his thumb to turn over to the next page. "Oh gawd! I've got a big order! A whole coffee service! Plus a table service! I can't believe it!" Grimmjow smiled into his coffee cup when he saw the bright smile on the other man's face. His brown eyes looked dreamily to the ceiling. "Someone out there has to love me."
Coffee was spit on the newspaper.
So the schedule for the next days – scratch that, weeks! – was set. Ichigo was on fire. He threw himself into creating one dish after another. He started with the dinner plates, dessert plates and soup plates; the saucers and the cups were made perfectly fitting into each other. Bigger cups, bowls, other plates, more cups (cappuccino, espresso, tea). However, his passion were jugs. Big jugs, some feet high. He couldn't explain it, but he loved them.
All the time Grimmjow sat by his side, observing the passion laying in those brown eyes and the skilled hands transforming the brown and gray clay into a unique workpiece.
One week into his busy work, he had unexpected guests.
"Karin!" Grimmjow turned away from the doorway he was standing in and letting the grinning Ichigo to the guest he had opened the door for. "What a surprise!"
He ushered her inside, smiling contently when he spotted the second guest clinging to Karin's skirt.
His sister looked curiously over his shoulder, warily eying the blue haired (!) stranger completely clothed in black. After a quick introducing, Karin nodded slowly. "Never would have guessed that you have a roommate."
"Well, sorry," Ichigo said mockingly, smiling down to his niece. "And, how are you?"
Grimmjow kept himself hidden further down the living room, pressed into the couch and tried to breathe calmly. Karin had the same scowl that Ichigo usually wear everywhere. She didn't use anything to cover the tiny skin blemishes on her face and she wasn't someone to wax her eyebrows. The skirt was wide and covered her legs completely and her blouse was closed up to her chin.
She was beautiful.
As beautiful as her small offspring babbling with Ichigo. Something like nostalgia took a grip of his gut and tightened painfully until he feared he would vomit all over the carpet. He barely heard their voices anymore, but after a while (minutes? hours?) they stood again, waving to him and leaving him on the couch, sweating and shaking in a pile of pity.
"Were you listening?"
Ichigo snorted. "My dad invited me over for a dinner party of the hospital he is working at. How about you come along?"
Grimmjow hesitated, then shrugged eventually. "Don't know. Don't think I'll fit in there." He pulled onto his blue hair.
"Maybe you just need some color in your wardrobe?"
"I'll look like a clown then... Besides, I like black."
"Because it's covering your big, fat tummy or what?"
Grimmjow's lips were pulled into a thin line. He thought back to Ichigo's niece, and let a sigh escape his lips.
He tried to busy himself the following days, so his mind wouldn't be pushed into a dark, depressing emo corner, where he would angst and bath in self-pity. He found an old fellow student via Internet who asked for a comeback as partners in a new project – another competition, what else? So while Ichigo was busy glazing the workpieces (would take a while), he was already typing on his laptop, asking himself, why he couldn't keep his fingers off that thing for more than a week.
Surprisingly Ichigo – jumping from the register to his atelier and back – still managed to shove more healthy food down Grimmjow's throat than the architect was used to and reminded him every once in a while to take care of his growing stubs. At least, he didn't look squalid and like a tramp anymore...
They were sitting at the dinner table, eating vegetarian food (yeah, he was surprised as well, learning of the eating habit of Ichigo). Grimmjow was always impressed when seeing the plates he was eating from. It wasn't always Ichigo's style of pottery, so he was told that Ichigo collect the work of his colleagues, couldn't keep his hands of it and spend more money on it than he should spend.
"You seemed distracted for the last days."
Grimmjow jerked his head up, and lowered it slowly again. He shrugged his shoulders. "Got things on my mind."
"You're not moping about getting fat, do you?"
A deadpanned look. "I'm not a woman!"
"But you complained about it."
"That was once. Once!"
Ichigo smirked. "Well, at least you got your mind off your problem."
In an instant, the troubled look was back. Sighing, Ichigo shoved his plate away from him, leaning backwards, waiting.
"Your sister is quite young for being a mother...and all."
The red head bobbed slowly. "Yeah, she is. She was twenty when she got her. Came up to her family, said 'I'll kill everyone who'll make a stupid remark', took a breath and shouted that she was pregnant."
"What did your parents say?"
"My father broke into tears."
"Oh, and she?"
"Kicked him and broke his nose in the process." The memory of that particular day made him laugh silently. "She practiced Aikido until that day. Unbelievable that it already happened seven years ago."
...wait, seven years?
"You are her big brother?"
"Of course. By five years."
Grimmjow's jaw dropped onto the table. "How old are you?"
"Thirty-two." came the gruff reply.
Grimmjow didn't dare to say something stupid about that fact, so he shoved some potatoes into his mouth and burnt his tongue. He had no room to talk, being over thirty as well.
"Does my niece remind you of your daughter?"
Grimmjow choked. That was a touchy subject, bringing back the vomiting urge so that he had problems to swallow the food he was chewing on. "...kind of."
"You feel lonely." Even if he intended to let it sound like a question, it came out as a dry fact. He observed as fascinated as shocked how those blue eyes glazed over until the other man huffed angrily, blinking the liquid away. "Sorry..."
"No...no..." Grimmjow said, rubbing with his hand over his face, and pushed his thumb and forefinger into the hollow of his eyes. "It's just...shit..."
The faint sound of the traffic was hearable through the slightly opened window.
"Just a sec, I'll almost get it," Grimmjow chocked out and steadied his breathing.
"Are you swallowing it?" Silence. "You know, you'd better let those things out of your brain or it may implode sooner or later." Silence. "I-I...know how you might feel... Surely you will be at my throat soon, throttling to keep my mouth shut, but...I doubt you feel better when you lock everything into the furthest corner of your mind. It gets worse...and worse...and after—"
"Will you shut up!"
Ichigo smiled, his expression unreadable.
"Since when did you become Mother Teresa? Listen, I don't want to talk about it!"
"Imploding my ass! Why are you insisting on having a womanly, teary and absolute disgusting heart-to-heart!"
"Because you so fucking need it! You absolute idiotic, blue haired bastard!"
"What does my hair have to do with anything!"
Ichigo dumped the bowl with the green, vegetarian pesto onto Grimmjow's head.
"You're a real woman," Grimmjow deadpanned after a while.
"Can we have the talk, now?"
"Because you successfully dumped food on my head, so my hair is green instead of blue?"
The blue haired man banged his fist on the table, literally. "I can understand that a fag like you want to have a cute little chat, but. I. Don't. Want. T—"
The fork almost skewered his fist on the table.
"Fag?" Ichigo's voice was low. "Is that the reason why you were hitting on me?"
"I never was—" One of the knives embedded into the wood next to his pinky.
"Think about the answer you'll give me, carefully."
Grimmjow sweated. "You're attractive."
Ichigo cocked a brow. "I'm flattered." he said without vigor.
Pulling the flatware from the tabletop and putting them away and out of Ichigo's reach, Grimmjow folded his hands in front of him. He said in an adorable tone: "Are you gay?"
Ichgio lifted a cup with steaming hot tea above his head, ready to throw it.
"Was that a yes?"
The cup barely missed his head.
"I like you."
"I mean, I like you."
The traffic noise.
A quiet cough.
They ended up on the couch again, but instead of soft voices filling the room, wet smacking breathless noise was echoing through it.
When Grimmjow woke up a while later, being pillowed on Ichgio's whole body with the other wide awake and playing with the hem of his shirt, his gut clenched and told him, there was no use to run.
Surprisingly, after this little session (be it the talking or the making out), nothing much changed about their plans. Pottery and architecture were occupying their minds and – save the one or the other peck here and there – nothing much happened.
The day of the dinner party came way too fast for Grimmjow's liking, making him uncomfortable about everything. As Ichigo knocked at his door so they could go, he stopped on the threshold, blinking several times. Running his eyes over the other's clothes, Ichigo furrowed his brows at the massive white (trousers, jacket, shoes) and purple (shirt). Grimmjow twitched under the strange gaze.
"You look like a pimp."
Grimmjow's brow twitched even more. "Okay," he said slowly, calmly, threw the jacket of his shoulders and almost ripped the shirt from his body. "Go alone, I'll stay here."
Ichigo looked dumbstruck. "Excuse me? Since when did you turn into a whining woman?"
"Get off," Pulling a black t-shirt over his head, he tousled his hair.
"If you had no intention of going there in the first place, why didn't you say so?"
A sigh. "I got it..." A pause. "Don't burn down the house." And Ichigo left.
He shouldn't have told his family that he intended to bring someone along. His father and Yuzu were disappointed, seeing him all alone.
"And I was so proud that you're filling your grandmother's house with life!" Ichigo chuckled inwardly, recalling the first time meeting Grimmjow and the half-dead state he was in. So much for living...
Unfortunately, his father had told another doctor of the architect-roommate; so when the brunette doctor approached him and asked for a talk with that architect, the very person wasn't there. Probably moping. Or working himself into oblivion.
"I'm sorry, Dr Kuchiki, he had a change of schedule the last moment."
"No need to apology, Kurosaki" The pale man smiled politely (no spark in his eyes). "I'll ask a friend of mine, perhaps he is able to create my new home..."
Ichigo was disappointed. That would have helped his friend, for sure. However, Grimmjow wasn't a person to socialize easily in the first place; at least, he looked like he had problems in that area.
So when Ichigo stumbled through the entrance of his house at three in the morning, he almost sighed when seeing a flickering blue light coming from the living room. "Hey, Grimm, you should have come to the—"
Grimmjow was asleep. His head rested on the back of the couch, tilted backwards in a not comfortably looking position, his mouth hung open slightly and the working laptop covered his face in pale shadows. He even looked tired when sleeping.
Carefully, Ichigo tiptoed to him, gently grabbing his shoulder and his head and pushing him onto the flat surface of the couch in an agonizing slow motion. Grimmjow let out a small noise, but kept his eyes firmly shut. His iris danced behind the closed lids. Ichigo covered him in a light blanket and pushed some strands out of his face. Blue, he chuckled, toying with the hair. He pressed a kiss to his forehead and stayed there watching him.
For the next three weeks they were running on the same plateau, getting nowhere. Grimmjow grew steadily more frustrated and after sending his conception to the jury, he pestered Ichigo to ease his mind and to distract attention from the fact that the next letter of refusal would hit him like a sledgehammer.
And – sad but true – it did.
Grimmjow won't leave his room after that.
When Ichigo wrapped the last plates into a piece of newspaper and put it into a brown box, he smiled at his customer leaning in the door way. The black clothes and the scarf was a huge give-away, but the brunette's business card let him know his name (Uryuu Ishida) and his ambition as an architect, confirming his guess.
And it dawned on Ichigo why he received such a sudden and big order. That idiot.
"May I ask where you know me from?"
Ishida smiled. "There was this little brochure in my postbox one day, and the style was exactly what I had imagined."
After the sum on his bank statement made him almost pee his pants in pure joy, he started to scheme how he could get back on Grimmjow. Yes, he did let him stay here, but, in that strange way of his logic, he felt responsible for his friend and would like to do anything to repay him. He wanted to get him another project! But no doctor was willing or in need for a new home. The hospital's owner just had renovated the whole facility and the other people of his set of acquaintances weren't so wealthy that they could effort an architect.
He stumbled over the solution walking home after visiting his family.
"Grimm?" He knocked at the closed door, leaning into the wood in hope to hear something. Nothing. Hesitantly he opened the door and was greeted by smell that ranged between old cheese and sweat. "Grimmjow?" He spotted him in a dark corner of the room.
"Let me die alone..." His whines were unusual loud in the silent room. "I'm useless...I'm used up...I'm old and fat!"
"It's called midlife crises."
Fighting the urge to run away, he stumbled into the dark room and crouched next to the lying body. He gently patted the shoulder closest to him and cringed at the feeling of unwashed skin. "Hey, babe," he said in a low sultry voice. "Come, take a bath with me. I'll make the world brighter!"
He didn't know how true that statement was.
Completely soaked and washed and rid of the dirt, Grimmjow sighed sadly, leaning backwards into Ichigo's chest, the water around them splashed.
"An assistant, huh?" Grimmjow closed his eyes as Ichigo massaged his scalp. "At university. I'm bad with kids, ya know?"
"There are only adults."
"Oh, you have no idea. You don't know how I used to be there."
"Yeah, but that was back in your time. It changed, I'm sure."
"You're an ass."
One of the hands massaging the head trailed down slowly, rubbing over tense muscles. "Stop cursing."
"Your erection is rubbing in my crack; see how you would like that."
Ichigo actually purred.
"Back to the matter in hand: why should I lead a whole bunch of naive kids into the same fate I'm suffering?"
Ichigo nuzzled his shoulder. "Because you want to see them suffer and writhe in pain."
"Tempting, but no thanks." Grimmjow reached up and curled his fingers into the red hair. "Maybe I should chuck this whole architectural crap in."
"Midlife crisis," Ichigo said in a honeyed voice, patting his back. "Don't do something rush."
A devious smirk was send over Grimmjow's shoulder at him as suddenly something fondled Ichigo's genitals. Moaning shakily, he felt his cheeks reddened by the hot water darkened even more and he tried a counterattack, pinching the other man's nipples desperately. Grimmjow jerked at the pain so that his butt rubbed against some hard flesh. With a groan, Ichigo's head fell forward and buried into the wet neck. One hand trailed up and yanked onto the blue hair painfully so that the throat and the Adam's apple were exposed.
"I said, don't do something rush!"
"Your little friend down there was ready before mine was!"
Ichigo pulled onto his left earlobe with his thumb and forefinger, making Grimmjow squeak in pain.
"Shit, stop that!"
"You don't seem like a little submissive nor like an experienced gay guy for that matter. So don't think I let you shove something up my ass without further knowledge."
"And you're an uber-homo-guru, or wha—AAH!" No, that finger down there didn't feel right.
Not. At. All.
Later, crawling into the welcoming bed, Ichigo's nose had finally stopped bleeding. The collision of said organ and Grimmjow's back of the head wasn't something he wanted to experience again.
Grimmjow was just slipping into the covers of the other side of the bed, abandoning his room until the smell turned back to normal. Apologetically he rubbed Ichigo's upper arm, but the red head merely grunted and rolled onto his side, his back facing the other occupant of his bed.
"Oh, come on! Don't be like that," Grimmjow whined and nestled against the bare back.
"I'm lucky it's not broken." The nasal sound of that statement was adorable.
"It was a reflex! You were sticking your finger in...into...there."
Oooookay, beat him at his own game!
"Gah, Grimmjow! You can't stick it there dry! What are you thinking! Shit, you bastard! Ouch, use lube or something. I swear, I'll break your hand if you don't—"
Seven months went by.
Nowadays Ichigo's nightshift contained sleep. Blissful, undisturbed sleep. Smiling, he rolled around his bed, enjoying the softness of the mattress and the freedom of his new working style. The last contact with a drunkard was three days prior when Grimmjow stumbled into their home, wasted from a party, and molesting him at five in the morning. (he passed out on his stomach before anything developed further...) Besides Grimm's occasional clubbing or partying at university (well...yeah, he was supposed to teach something there, but the – his – students grew fond of him and invited him on every party they held; blame his hair or whatever) there wasn't any disturbance in his daily routine. Ichigo was glad about having left behind the register and the beeping sound of the bar-code reader – so yeah, he had quit and left all those drunken, dark and disgusting guys. Take that!
The door opened. Ichigo smiled into his pillow as heavy breathing filled the room.
"I swear I'm going to kill you for this stupid..." Grimmjow trailed off and not five seconds later, a heavy body flopped on the bed, making Ichigo bounce on the mattress.
A sweaty forehead pressed into his bare shoulder.
"Grimm, can't you at least wash your face before diving in here?"
A grunt. A clammy hand rubbed small circles over his back and goose bumps appeared on Ichigo's skin. "Grimm."
"Oh, seriously, stop whining. We'll get all sweaty within the next ten minutes anyway!"
Turning his head to the other side, Ichigo smirked when seeing the tired expression of the other man, flicking his forehead in a quick motion. "Your little duckies are tiring you out?"
"They should forbid corrections or presentation after eight o'clock. After a whole afternoon of their babbling about their own genius creations, your head just wants to crawl in a hole and die."
"You love them."
"That didn't sound very confirming."
"As if you need any confirmation."
They smiled at each other – one slyly, the other with an obvious leer. Then Grimmjow bent forward, kissing the redhead on the mouth soundly.
"I even brought you flowers!" Grimmjow said proudly, patting his left butt cheek and pulling a crumpled flowery letter out of the back pocket of his jeans. His eyes glistered evilly with a speck of an unsound mind. "Got a new order for you!"
A deep, long, agonizing groan. "Grimm, you're killing me! That's the – what? – third order this week. And it's Thursday! "
"You love pottery."
"Yeah, sure, but not when the tips of my fingers start getting a nasty similarity to wizened raisins!"
"I like raisins..."
Ichigo rolled his eyes, his head plopping back onto the pillow. "Last week you told me you like muddy scenes."
"You surely look hot when partially covered in clay." The mischief reappeared in the blue eyes, and the clammy hand travelled up and down the length of Ichigo's body. It reached the other man's hand tangled in the sheets between their bodies, and lifted it to his mouth. Teeth nibbled on the roughened skin, biting it playfully.
"You damn perv."
"Says the one who stores a whole dresser with porn." The familiar grin spread over the pale lips. "But we would make damn well porn stars, especially when getting it on with your pottery whe—"
"Grimmjow! You big, corny bastard!"
"Come on, I got you all those great orders!"
"I gave you your damn job!"
"Hell, don't remind me..."
"You're not regretting anything already? You know, Yuzu would break into tears if her offer makes you suffer so much that you would dump everything."
Grimmjow grumbled when thinking about that little sister playing around the art's faculty of the same university his was playing babysitter of the freshmen. After all, she was the one pulling the strings of his success as an assistant.
"Can we stop talking about your baby-sisters when I'm about to screw you?" After the deadpanned look, Grimmjow cleared his throat. "Making love to you?" he suggested instead.
"Oh, you corny—H-hey! Oh for fuck's sake, not again—Grimm! I'm sensitive down—AAAH! Fuckfuckfuck—you insensitive jerk! I still need that afterward!"