Title: Whatever It Takes
Rating: T to NC-17
Warning: boykisses, hints of character death, after war, threesomeness, slight OOC
Description: Ichigo's tired of fighting, but Renji and Uryuu aren't willing to let him go.
Title taken from the song of the same name by Lifehouse.
Dedication: For Kuriqa, who's drawing me beautiful Gin/Ichigo pix.
Part One - Uryuu
Uryuu can't remember when it started. He can't quite recall how or when or who made the first move. He suspects it was Renji because that bastard's the horniest out of all of them. But Ichigo's always the first one to rush headfirst into things, so maybe the blame rests on both Shinigami. Not that Uryuu's any better, because he walked in with eyes wide open, and he still can't make himself walk away.
It doesn't make any sense. It shouldn't work. But somehow, it does.
There are three of them. Sharing each other. Attempting to share the future, strongly remembering the past, blithely wandering through the present.
Uryuu knows that he's an idiot. He's with not just one Shinigami, but two. Ryuuken would strongly disapprove if he knew, but frankly, his father has more to worry about at the moment. He's already none too happy with Uryuu's future career choice. Best to let the bastard stew on that for awhile before crawling out of the closet with a lover on each arm, both male, both Shinigami.
Despite knowing his own foolishness, Uryuu hasn't been able to make himself walk away yet either. He won't be trite enough to say that he can't imagine life without Renji or Ichigo in it, but he knows it would be quite different. And it's a difference Uryuu doesn't want to embrace. Even if being with the both of them can be quite aggravating at times.
Tired, and with an ache building behind his temples, Uryuu shoves his key into the lock and stumbles into his apartment. Warmth and pleasant smells instantly smack him in the face, as does the gentle sound of some rather random instrumental music. Soothing pipes, harps, gentle flutes… and is that the peaceful noise of a waterfall? What the hell is Ichigo listening to?
Uryuu sighs and slips out of his shoes, setting his school briefcase off to the side. He's been sharing an apartment with Ichigo since graduating high school. Though, to be honest, Ichigo divides his time drifting between his room at his father's house, the spare room at Uryuu's apartment or Uryuu's bed depending on his mood, and a guest room at Urahara-san's shoten. Uryuu isn't sure what place Ichigo actually calls his home.
Tugging his scarf from around his neck, Uryuu hangs it on the coat-rack with his coat and runs a hand through his hair. The song playing in the background ends on a final twang of the harp's strings and silence fills the air, soon followed by faint footsteps. If war hadn't strengthened Uryuu's senses, he probably wouldn't have even noticed.
He watches from the hall, staring into the main room, as Ichigo steps out of the kitchen and crosses Uryuu's line of sight. Padding quietly up the main hallway, Uryuu pauses in the entryway, watching as Ichigo sucks the fingers of one hand into his mouth, the other hand idly adjusting the settings on the expensive CD player. Some kind of jazzy, upbeat mix of drums and vocals fills the room, an intoxicating beat that invites one to swing their hips and dance.
Ichigo does, turning back toward the kitchen with a little sway of his hips that makes everything seem perfectly normal. Happy and content, splatters making a few bright red marks against the front of his grey sweater as he sucks his forefinger into his mouth, obviously licking off some sauce.
Pasta it is then.
Uryuu wonders when it has become so commonplace to him, to come home and find Ichigo cooking some meal or another. Either traditional Japanese fare, or basic dishes from other countries.
"You're home early," Ichigo says, noticing Uryuu the moment he turns around, and passing Uryuu by on his way back to the kitchen. He doesn't seem at all bothered to be caught swaying to an upbeat, Spanish tempo.
"I had a test," Uryuu answers succinctly, having not expected Ichigo to remember that minor detail. Uryuu rarely stresses over tests of any kind so he never makes an issue out of the fact he has one.
Ichigo inclines his head, disappearing the kitchen where Uryuu can hear pans clatter. "Ah, that explains it."
Uryuu turns the corner, steps into the warm kitchen that carries a strong scent of tomatoes and garlic and cheese. A pan on the counter is lined with pasta, sauce, and white cheese – lasagna then. A rare treat because of the intensive labor involved.
Pulling a bottle of tea out of the fridge, Uryuu twists the top open, watching as Ichigo stands at the counter, adding a final layer, body still moving to the beat. "What did you do today?"
"Went to Urahara-san's. Sparred a bit. Came here." Ichigo shrugs, sprinkling mozzarella over the top layer of pasta. "Started dinner."
Same old, same old then. A part of Uryuu isn't surprised. Another part of him wishes for more. Ichigo has been, more or less, drifting around, doing nothing. Ichigo doesn't know what he wants to do so he just wanders aimlessly, fighting Hollow, making occasional trips to Soul Society, and spending the odd night in Uryuu's bed, oftentimes with their red-headed counterpart.
This Ichigo is so startlingly different from the driven, goal-oriented man Uryuu remembers from Aizen's War that sometimes Uryuu wonders how they could be the same person. Though Uryuu can't blame him either. Aizen's War was easy on no one, much less Ichigo, forced to be Soul Society's hero when all he wanted was to protect his family, his friends, his home.
Ichigo pops the lasagna into the oven with a loud thunk and sets the timer, turning to look at Uryuu as he sucks pasta sauce off his finger with a lewd motion. There's a strange look in his eyes. Today has been a bad day then. Full of memories and nightmares and things the both of them would rather forget. Uryuu understands those days all too well, he's simply better at hiding them than Ichigo, who for all his bluff and bluster, wears his heart on his sleeve.
"Should be ready in an hour, give or take," he says, with a distracted air, but Uryuu knows what he means.
An hour is plenty long enough.
Uryuu hooks a finger in the knot of his tie and tugs it down, loosening it from his throat. Formal attire isn't required by his university, but his professors respect a professional appearance, and judging from the darkening of Ichigo's eyes, it's an appearance that serves Uryuu well in other avenues as well.
"You don't have to make anything else?" Uryuu asks, but it's just conversation, just words to fill a silence that's already swelling with heat. He crosses the floor, approaching Ichigo, who's motionless but watching him avidly.
Ichigo shrugs again, pretending nonchalance. "Garlic bread. But that's what… five minutes?" He makes no moves, just leans against the countertop, gaze predatory as it rakes Uryuu from top to bottom.
Uryuu's grown since they first met, and so has Ichigo. Even so, the height difference between them is minimal. Ichigo's broader than he – Uryuu supposes wielding that massive sword accounts for the greater musculature – and still taller, but Uryuu is far from intimidated by that. Compared to Renji's massive bulk, Ichigo and Uryuu are more similar in stature.
Barely a foot of tiled space between them and Uryuu pauses, flicking open the top button of his white-collar shirt. "And dessert?"
Ichigo's lips twitch, as though he's fighting off a smug grin. "I'll leave that up to your imagination."
The space between them is all but nonexistent now and Uryuu leans closer, knowing better than to expect Ichigo to close the distance.
For all Ichigo's aggression, it's usually Uryuu who makes the first move. He's not sure why and he's never asked. It's an answer that might upset the already delicate balance that exists between them, especially when Renji is thrown into the mix. Besides, making the first move is not exactly a hardship on Uryuu's part, just a tiny, niggling worry in the back of his mind that Ichigo has nothing invested in them.
Words have never been of necessity between them, so Uryuu doesn't bother with them now. He just closes the space between him and Ichigo with a kiss, his lips brushing the Vizard's gently, before pressing more firmly. The taste of tomato and garlic sauce teases at his senses as Ichigo's mouth opens to him, warm and awash with more flavors, oregano and basil and other things prevalent in pasta sauce.
Hands settle on Uryuu's hips, gripping him tightly and pulling him forward with a sharp yank so that he collides against Ichigo's body. Uryuu's grunt is swept away by Ichigo's plunging tongue as the kiss deepens and Uryuu lifts a hand, tangling fingers in orangish hair, much longer and tousled than it had been in Ichigo's teenage years. Their bodies neatly align and Uryuu swivels his hips, grinding against Ichigo's, feeling an answering surge of Ichigo's hips in return. The motion, an erotic mimickry of what they could be doing unclothed, makes heat stir sluggishly in Uryuu's veins.
He nips at Ichigo's lips, lifting his other hand to press his palm against the flat of Ichigo's abdomen. He's a little softer on the edges, not so much rippling six pack as he is flat but still muscular. There's less to fight nowadays, considering that the threat of Hollows can be handled by the Shinigami on duty, so Ichigo's musculature has lost some definition, but not all of it. Uryuu's fingers scrape against Ichigo's abdomen over the cotton of the shirt, knowing the sensation will carry through, being all the more maddening for the inconsistency of it.
The fingers on his hips flex, tightening and loosening, as Ichigo tilts his head back, letting Uryuu pepper his jaw and chin in light, nipping kisses. Ichigo's throat is surprisingly sensitive, and Uryuu's tongue flicks over the warm flesh, mouthing where Ichigo's Adam's apple bobs as he swallows thickly.
The heat in the room is palpable, pulsing between them, scented with tomatoes and garlic and olive oil. The oven is pumping out steadying waves of heat, but Uryuu knows that it's not to blame. He so rarely gets Ichigo to himself that he doesn't mind capitalizing on that opportunity then and now.
His hand moves down Ichigo's belly, fingers tickling at the waistband of Ichigo's jeans. He hears Ichigo's indrawn breath, feels Ichigo swallow again, a small groan of encouragement rattling against Uryuu's lips. He drags his fingers against Ichigo's scalp, knowing how much Ichigo enjoys it – how much he and Renji both, actually, enjoy having their heads toyed with. Pun intended.
And then a voice breaks through the building tension, effectively slicing Uryuu's rising arousal down the middle.
"Startin' without me, I see."
Uryuu draws back from Ichigo, licking his lips and glancing over his shoulder. He's not surprised to find Renji standing in the doorway, leaning against the jamb, arms crossed over his muscular chest. He's wearing his shihakushou, Zabimaru nowhere in sight, with a dark heat banking behind his amber eyes.
Uryuu clears his throat. "We didn't know you were coming," he says, and feels Ichigo's fingers flex against Uryuu's hip as though holding them together.
Renji's gaze flicks past Uryuu to Ichigo. "Ya never showed up," he says, almost accusing, expressions shifting across his face, too quick to read. If there's one thing Aizen's War had produced, it is a more guarded expression from one usually quick to show emotion.
Uryuu hates Aizen for that.
Ichigo lets go of Uryuu's hip and slides out from between Uryuu and the counter, making to peer into the oven at a lasagna that's nowhere close to being finished. "I was busy."
Odd that Uryuu wants to echo the same question, even as he looks between them with confusion and interest. The arousal building inside of him is already waning, becoming little more than a dull throb in his groin.
"Helping Urahara-san," Ichigo says, succinctly, and the door to the oven slams closed again, with a final note that all but screams for Renji to "drop it."
Renji sighs, sounding defeated, running a hand over his hair before stepping further into the kitchen, reiatsu swelling around him in a light buzz. Ichigo's, too, is rising, and Uryuu gets the feeling he's missing something here. He knows that Renji's asked Ichigo to come to Soul Society on several occasions, to help fill in the gaps left by Aizen's War. And Uryuu himself has often suggested Ichigo remain in the Living World, pick a major, go to college, do something other than bow to Seireitei's whims.
Neither of them likes seeing Ichigo so aimless.
"Ukitake-taichou was lookin' forward ta lunch with ya," Renji says.
Uryuu gets it then. He snorts, leaning with a hip against the counter. "Another attempt at persuading him to take the fifth division, I take it?"
The Shinigami twitches. "No," Renji denies, but it sounds defensive. Renji's always been a poor liar.
Ichigo, unsurprisingly, pretends as if he's not listening to either of them. As if their conversation is not related to him in any way. A worrisome habit that's become more frequent as of late.
"I'm not an idiot, Renji," Uryuu says with an audible scoff, eyes narrowing, hard and annoyed. "The only way you could have been more obvious was if you had said Kuchiki-taichou and fukutaichou were going to be there."
Judging by the flush of red that starts in Renji's cheeks, Uryuu has hit the truth on the marker. Uryuu resists rolling his eyes. It figures. Three of the faces that Ichigo most respects? How can it be anything but another play at convincing Ichigo to abandon the Living World and his life here?
"It was a friendly lunch," Renji retorts, with emphasis, as though that's going to make him any better of a liar. "No implications. Just catchin' up on old times."
Along with reminding Ichigo just how bad off Soul Society is right now and they can use all the hands they can get. At least, until Ichigo's out grown his usefulness and Seireitei starts to believe he's more threat than helping hand. That's how it had been with the Quincy, after all, and Uryuu isn't holding his breath that anything's changed. In fact, he would be surprised if Soul Society hasn't become more suspicious after Aizen's War.
Sure Seireitei has welcomed the returning Vizard with open arms. But for how long? And Uryuu knows that all is not peaches in Soul Society. There's still distrust, uncertainty, Shinigami who are wary of the ones with Hollow powers in their midst. As though they can become infected by the Vizard's proximity or something equally idiotic and offensive.
Does Renji honestly think Ichigo will be treated any better? Or is he that desperate to have Ichigo to himself, in Soul Society, where Uryuu can't follow except on Urahara-san's whims or walking hand in hand with one of his two Shinigami lovers?
Except that Uryuu doesn't think Renji has it in him to be so sneaky. He thinks it more a product of being unable to look before he leaps, or thinking things through. Renji's acting on instinct. He knows Soul Society needs help and he knows Ichigo is stuck in a rut – he's just trying to kill two birds with one stone.
That doesn't mean Uryuu is any less pissed off.
"Besides," Renji says before Uryuu can so much as form a retort, already feeling a righteous anger building inside of him. "If Ichigo wants to come to Soul Society for lunch, that's his decision ta make and not yers, Uryuu."
"Except that he didn't," Uryuu reminds him, perhaps a touch too smug, hands hanging lax at his side but fingers twitching. Sparks of reiatsu dancing from fingertip to fingertip in light blue arcs. He'd never draw Ginrei Kojaku against Renji, but he can't say the same for the other manipulative members of the Gotei-13, and the thought of them trying to persuade Ichigo makes Uryuu furious.
Renji works his jaw, amber eyes flashing with fire, mouth opened to retort—
The freezer door slams shut with a startling enough noise that Uryuu jumps, despite his usually keen senses. Renji has the good sense to look ashamed while Uryuu schools his expression into something resembling innocence as both of their gazes move to Ichigo. The Vizard isn't looking at either of them as he tosses a box of frozen garlic bread onto the counter, in the direction of a pan already covered in aluminum foil.
The slam is more or less just a way of gathering their attention. There's a tightness to Ichigo's shoulders, a cautious, restrained edge to his movements that proves he's had enough. If not for the physical proof, Uryuu would know it just by the unsettled nature of the reiatsu swirling about his body.
Tension whips through the room like an invisible weapon.
"I think you two can handle dinner yourselves," Ichigo says, his voice uncharacteristically cold. "It's obvious you don't need my input." He turns, without looking at either of them, heading for the door.
Uryuu takes a step forward. "Ichigo-"
Renji's there too, trying to block the Vizard's exit. "Aw, come on, Ichi-"
"No," Ichigo says, brown eyes looking heatedly between them, creeping toward gold and black, his voice growing harsher. "I'm tired of it. Tired of listening to you two bicker like a couple of kids fighting over their favorite toy. I'm done."
"It is!" Ichigo snaps, interrupting Uryuu before he can so much as speak, one hand slashing through the air. "It's hard enough with two people but three? Obviously it's not going to work. I'm always going to feel like the chew toy between two dogs. You two can have your little tug-of-war and I'll just be on my way."
Uryuu's heart climbs into his throat. It's not the first time Ichigo's said something similar, but he's never seen that look in Ichigo's eyes either. Previously, they'd been able to calm Ichigo down, but there's a tension running through Ichigo's body, as though he's throwing up his hands and throwing in the towel.
"Can't we talk about this?" Renji says, all in a rush, as though afraid Ichigo will walk out before he can get the words out.
Frankly, Uryuu won't be surprised if he does.
Ichigo jerks his head negatively. "No," he says. "I'm done." He takes a step, intending to leave.
Renji gets in his way, hurt visible in his amber eyes. Uryuu's simply trying to breathe, trying to remember when it all suddenly went sliding down hill. He hadn't even known, hadn't even thought to guess that Ichigo's thoughts were sliding toward an end.
A burst of reaitsu, a single glare, and Renji is all but pushed aside as Ichigo storms past him with a hint of black tainting his reaitsu. Shirosaki is not pleased either.
Uryuu sighs, reaching up to rub fingers across his aching forehead. He watches as Renji turns, one hand lifting, most likely with intention to follow Ichigo. But Uryuu can already hear the sound of Ichigo's storming footsteps. Twin clunks as Ichigo shoves his feet into boot, the jingle of keys, and then the subsequent slam of the door, bathing the apartment in utter silence save for the music still pulsing from the speakers.
Ichigo's gone. And Uryuu has the most awful feeling settling in his chest that he's not coming back.
a/n: There are four parts in total to this, only three of which I'm posting here. The fourth is nothing but smut and will only be available on my livejournal (or adultfanfiction) for those who'll want to read it. But that's still two parts away!
I hope you enjoyed it! And thanks to everyone for reading. By the way, if you have a livejournal account, check out my LJ and vote in the poll I have available. Everyone who does can request a flash fiction of any pairing from any fandom or original fiction that I write. Links are in my profile.
Feedback and concrit are appreciated and welcome.