CHAPTER 6

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...

There may be errors because I was lazy and really didn't feel like proofreading this. It was 2:51 AM when I finished. Apologies...

Onwards...

XOXOXO

Grimmjow watched Kurosaki's back as they left the younger man's bedroom. He didn't believe for one second that the center-fielder had "tripped over something." First of all, there hadn't been anything on the floor of Kurosaki's closet for him to fall over; second, even if there had been (which there definitely hadn't), it still didn't warrant a complete case of unconsciousness from the younger man. Kurosaki's reaction had also been a big red flag waved in front of Grimmjow's face. The tell-tale wide eyes of confusion had raised the hairs on the back of Grimmjow's neck. Something was wrong with Kurosaki. He didn't know if it was an illness like narcolepsy, or if it was something more...mental.

They rounded the corner of the hallway and made a left into the cozy kitchen, where Kurosaki groggily traipsed over to the pantry. He held the narrow, wooden door open as he stared inside, his free hand scratching the back of his head. After a long few moments of silence, Kurosaki turned to Grimmjow and pinned him with an almost blank stare.

"You eat noodles?"

Grimmjow was startled by the question, even though he'd been somewhat expecting it. "I-I guess."

Kurosaki's head tilted as his brow furrowed with mild annoyance.

"You either do or you don't," he deadpanned.

"Yes, I do," Grimmjow gritted through clenched teeth.

He really wanted to lunge at the insufferable little asshole and knuckle his face unrecognizable, but figured Urahara wouldn't appreciate the early demise of the team's center-fielder. So, instead, he opted to clench his hands into fists at his sides as he internally counted backwards from ten. Kurosaki worked his nerves like a professional pest, shortening his patience in ways Grimmjow thought were impossible.

Kurosaki reached into the pantry and withdrew a bag of dry noodles and a few bottles of some type of dark liquid. The writing on the side was in a different language, and Grimmjow could only assume that it was Japanese. He watched the shorter man moving around the kitchen fluidly as he collected ingredients and pans, and got to work over the stove. Soon enough, the kitchen began smelling really good, causing Grimmjow's stomach to rumble anxiously. He sidled over to the small island and took a seat on one of the tall, wooden stools.

"I never would've pegged you for a cook, Kurosaki."

Kurosaki gave a careless shrug as he maneuvered a pan back and forth over a high flame. "I gotta eat, right?"

"True."

Still, it was a little surprising that Kurosaki was so efficient in the kitchen. Not only that, but the man's entire apartment was neat and tidy, everything in its proper place and without a speck of dust on it. Far from what Grimmjow had expected of his energetic teammate. Tired of the awkward silence, he covered his mouth with a fist and cleared his throat.

"So...Kurosaki..."

"Ichigo, Captain. Ichigo. We're teammates, and we're gonna be around each other for a long time. It'd be nice not to rely on surnames, dontcha think?"

"Fine. But that means you can't call me 'Captain', either."

"Deal," Kurosaki said as he paused and glanced over a broad shoulder with a wide, mischievous grin. "Grimmjow."

For some reason, the sound of that devil-may-care, low tenor had Grimmjow shifting on his stool, his warmup pants stretching a little too tightly across his lap. Deciding to change the subject post haste, he drummed his fingers along the island top and licked his lips.

"What are you making there, Ichigo?"

Kurosaki froze for a few seconds, making Grimmjow's eyebrows raise with curiosity. But just as quickly as the strange moment had appeared, it was gone. The orange-haired man went back to rotating the pan in his left hand as he cleared his throat.

"I'm making ramen. I like to saute my meat first, though."

"Ohhhh, I see. ...What's ramen?"

Kurosa – Ichigo chuckled and shot Grimmjow a short glance, honey-brown eyes alive with amusement. "It's a dish with noodles, vegetables and sometimes meat. Like a soup."

"Is it good?"

"I like it."

Grimmjow nodded as he watched Ichigo shut off the flame and set the pan on the stove. He moved over to a large pot, where shredded carrots and celery were boiling away in a delicious-smelling broth. Ichigo dumped the freshly sauteed chunks of roast pork into the pot and replaced the lid. After that, he wiped his hands down the front of his pants and turned to Grimmjow with a friendly smile.

"It'll be done in a few."

Grimmjow nodded and pressed his lips into a thin line as Ichigo slid onto a stool directly across from him. He had a choice: he could face Ichigo's drilling, brown gaze, or he could chicken out and study the light-colored, granite island top. After a few agonizing moments of indecision, he inwardly snarled at himself. He'd never been a coward. With a swift resolve he didn't entirely agree with, he lifted his head and met Ichigo's eyes with his own.

For a while, all they did was stare at one another. Grimmjow felt a sudden rush of nostalgia and a deep something else that he couldn't quite identify. Ichigo looked so familiar. Like Grimmjow had known him all his life. But that was absurd. There was no possible way that Grimmjow could have met Ichigo before he did. However, that still left the dreams. Kurosaki matched the young Akihiko feature for feature, mannerism for mannerism. It was downright eerie. Grimmjow didn't have a clue what any of it meant, but it was stressful to think about.

He carefully analyzed and compared Ichigo's light-brown cluster of freckles across the bridge of his nose and high cheeks to Akihiko's; his soulful, syrup-brown eyes, his tanned, flawless skin, and his atomic-orange hair all matched Akihiko's as well. The two talked alike, moved alike, and even shared similar personalities. None of it made any sense.

Finally, Ichigo smirked and tilted his head. "Anyone ever tell you how adorable you are?"

"What?" was Grimmjow's immediate response as he stared at Kurosaki, caught completely off guard. "You wanna say that again?"

"Haha! You see? You make such cute faces!"

Ichigo's accent was the only thing keeping Grimmjow in his seat. That and the man's damned dimples. There was something about Ichigo's smile that had the ability to arrest any and all of Grimmjow's movement and thought.

"I do not," he grumbled stubbornly. "Men don't do cute. We do sexy. Or ruggedly handsome – things along those lines; not cute."

Ichigo cackled as he climbed to his feet and went over to the gently gurgling pot. He dumped in a bag of noodles and stirred the contents around for a bit before replacing the lid and reclaiming his seat at the island. He shifted around, making himself comfortable, but all the while maintaining eye contact with Grimmjow.

"If you say so, Grimm-kun."

Grimmjow frowned. "Grimm-jow."

"What?"

"It's Grimm-jow. You said my name wrong."

Ichigo's brow wrinkled in obvious confusion as he shook his head minutely back and forth. His lips were parted as if he were on the verge of saying something, but no words were forthcoming. It was actually kind of funny to watch. Finally, it dawned on the younger man. Ichigo continued to shake his head as he gave a low rumble of laughter.

"No-no. 'Kun' is a suffix that we use in Japanese to refer to an associate or colleague. I wasn't mispronouncing your name."

Feeling a little foolish, Grimmjow pursed his lips and lowered his eyes. What now?

"Hey, don't be embarrassed, dude. You didn't know. That's my fault for not telling you beforehand. Though, I've never actually had to make an introduction to a nickname I had planned for someone before."

Ichigo was rambling. Grimmjow could see an embarrassed flush rising from the other man's neck, up towards his ears and cheeks. It was kind of endearing. So, the mighty Ichigo Kurosaki actually did get flustered every now and then.

Suddenly, Ichigo snapped his mouth shut with a scowl down at the island top. It was almost as if he was scolding himself for something, if the look on his face was any indication. Ichigo was so unpredictable, but somehow, it intrigued Grimmjow and kept him coming back for more. He started to ask Ichigo a question, but before he could, the shorter man had jumped to his feet and shuffled over to the stove. Grimmjow watched the other man's fluid movements as Ichigo grabbed a couple of large, ceramic bowls from a cabinet above his stainless steel sink. Afterward, he filled each bowl with the steaming, heavenly-smelling soup. Or...what had Ichigo called it? Ramen?

Large hands covered with thick, black pot holders, Ichigo set the bowls on the island top before retreating to the expanse of counter beside the stove, where he removed the pot holders and carelessly tossed them aside. Grimmjow didn't even realize that he was grinning as he watched Ichigo saunter over to the refrigerator, grab a couple bottles of some organic kind of fruit juice, and pause in front of the drawer directly next to the fridge. By the time Ichigo made it back to the small island, Grimmjow's smile was showing teeth. He found it incredibly entertaining that Ichigo had such domesticated tendencies. Grimmjow, himself, couldn't cook to save his life and found the idea of doing laundry rather daunting...just like any other normal man. Ichigo just happened to be a part of a rare breed.

Ichigo settled himself on his stool again before sliding a long, thin, red package in Grimmjow's direction, along with one of the bottles of juice. It was the package that held his attention, though. He lifted his head to ask Ichigo about the strange item, when he noticed the orange-haired man pulling a pair of wooden sticks from the red paper wrapping. Afterward, Ichigo broke the sticks apart and positioned them between his fingers before lifting a cluster of noodles and a few shredded carrots to his mouth with them.

Grimmjow pursed his lips and studied his own set of chopsticks. He'd never used them before, but after seeing Ichigo use them so easily, he figured it couldn't be that difficult. He lifted the sticks from the wrapper and broke them apart, but when he went to bring some of his own noodles to his mouth, they slipped through the sticks, causing him to drop them in the large bowl. Already frustrated, he fished them out of the soup mixture and tried again. He was completely unaware of the amused brown eyes watching his every move. He tried three more times to feed himself with the wily chopsticks before he slapped them down on the table beside his bowl with an agitated huff. He rubbed his temples and closed his eyes.

Fuck the chopsticks.

A quiet chuckle pulled him from his misery and made him glance up at Ichigo, who was smiling at him the way a parent would at his infant child trying to walk for the first time. Grimmjow growled under his breath, angry with himself for forgetting that he had an audience. He didn't need Ichigo's pity or sympathy. He didn't want Ichigo to see him as a weakling, who couldn't even eat with a pair of chopsticks. He didn't want to seem inferior to the other man at all.

"Maybe you'll be better off with a fork."

"I can do it," Grimmjow grunted as he picked up the wooden utensils again.

He shot a quick glance in the direction of Ichigo's hand that was expertly holding the chopsticks before trying to imitate it himself. When he thought he had it, he tried to gather a few noodles between them, only to have the noodles slip back into the bowl. If Grimmjow listened carefully, he was positive he heard the noodles making fun of his failure. A soft scrape was the only warning Grimmjow got before Ichigo was standing beside him, his slightly calloused hand gently closing over Grimmjow's.

"You gotta relax. Don't grip 'em so tightly. Loose is the key here," Ichigo murmured, his voice low and almost intimate as he positioned the chopsticks between Grimmjow's fingers the correct way. "Now, try."

Grimmjow swallowed harshly as he did as Ichigo instructed. He tried to ignore the other man's comforting heat along his side, tried to ignore the feel of Ichigo's skin, Ichigo's cautious touch, his smell... He successfully lifted a cluster of noodles in the air with a faint grin before turning to Ichigo for approval. When they locked eyes, Ichigo smiled, but it faltered. Out of nowhere, it seemed like time came to a grinding halt. Tension climbed, the atmosphere thick with it until Grimmjow turned back to his bowl of ramen, heat gathering in his face.

What the hell was that about?

He was almost afraid to look the younger man in the eye again. What would he find this time? It was becoming increasingly more dangerous being around Ichigo. He was so good-looking and shamelessly himself that Grimmjow was finding it harder and harder to keep his hands off of the guy. Not to mention, Ichigo smelled mouthwatering. It was all Grimmjow could do not to sink his teeth into Ichigo's inviting, tanned skin. He concentrated on getting the food into his mouth and not the man making his way back to the seat across the island. It was probably the single most trying task he'd had to accomplish in his life. Not even making the pros came close.

He was far from an angel, and it had been a while since he'd last gotten laid. However, Ichigo was off limits. Not only was he a fellow teammate, but Grimmjow had no idea whether Ichigo's sexual preference landed on that side of the fence or not. He couldn't just advance on the man without knowing that essential little fact. And then, there was the press to think about...it was all too much to risk for a quick romp in the hay, no matter how sexy Ichigo was.

And Ichigo was indeed sexy.

XOXOXO

Ichigo watched his team captain with equal amounts of affection and amusement running through him. He didn't know what it was about the blue-haired man that made him want to cuddle him into his chest and kiss him to death, but it was getting damned near impossible to ignore. Grimmjow's struggle with his chopsticks had been cute enough, but the look on his face when he'd finally gotten it right had just been outright adorable. Like a kid who'd finally caught the hang of riding his bike without the training wheels.

At the moment, they were seated on the couch in the living room, Van Helsing playing loudly on the 60-inch flat screen mounted to the wall directly across from the long, plush, beige couch. Grimmjow was slumped down in the deep cushions, his incredibly blue eyes glazed over and distant. In fact, he seemed like he was on the verge of falling asleep. They were on opposite ends of the couch, and Ichigo was fighting the intense desire to scoot closer to the bigger man. Grimmjow exuded so much sex appeal and quiet power, it was distracting. He kept glancing over every so often at him, wondering how one man could look so damned good and not even seem to care.

Movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention, so he peered at his temporary house guest. Grimmjow was yawning, his eyes squeezed shut and hand covering his mouth. Afterward, he smacked his lips and seemed to slouch lower in his corner. Ichigo couldn't resist.

"Time for beddy-bye, old man?" he teased.

Grimmjow surprisingly didn't take the bait. He just smirked a little and let his eyes slide shut as he gave a short nod.

"Shouldn't have fed me. I hibernate after I eat."

"Obviously."

After a low chuckle, Grimmjow's head drifted over to the cushioned arm rest and his face relaxed as he surrendered to sleep. Ichigo buried the sudden urge to remove the blue-haired man's sneakers and help him get more comfortable, figuring the guy wouldn't like it very much. Grimmjow was picky and easily riled up, so it was hard to tell what would set him off. Ichigo didn't want to take the risk, though. He just quietly enjoyed the other man's company, even as Grimmjow caught some Zs. He was falling under the TV's hypnotizing spell when his cell phone began blaring and vibrating. Ichigo jumped hard and scrambled to silence the noisy device before it woke up his captain. Once he did, he checked Grimmjow's corner and couldn't hide a lopsided grin. The blue-haired man was still deeply asleep. He must have really been tired. He climbed to his feet and ambled into the kitchen, where he answered the phone.

"Hello?"

"ICHIGO, MY SONNNN! HOW IS AMERICA?!" his father's loud voice boomed through the speaker in broken English.

Ichigo lowered and shook his head as he smiled. Even though his father was kind of outrageous, he was still his old man, and Ichigo missed him.

"Hey, old man. America's still pretty cool. How is everything on your side of the world? How are the girls?"

"Ah! I've already sold the house and clinic. Now, we're just waiting for the next step. And the girls are just fine. They ask about you everyday."

"Have you guys been watching our games?"

"What a ridiculous question, my son! Of course, we have!"

Ichigo chuckled and ran a hand through his unruly hair. "OK, OK. I apologize for asking."

They fell into an easy silence, where Ichigo let his mind wander about his hometown and country. Although he liked America and it's new and interesting ways, he missed his home. He missed his old friends and hangouts, and he missed the food.

"Ichigo," his father started, voice serious and deep. "I'm very proud of you, my son."

The warm words made him blush and almost choke up. He wasn't used to his old man's sentimental side.

"Thanks, Dad," he said quietly. "Hey, look, I gotta run. I have company over, and I don't want to be rude."

He didn't think it was necessary to tell his father that his company had fallen asleep on his couch.

"Yes, yes," Isshin Kurosaki sighed. "You're all grown up now. Be sure to use a condom, and do-"

"Alright, later, old man," Ichigo cut in, his face growing hot from the thought of condoms and Grimmjow together. "Give the girls my love, and tell them to call me!"

He ended the connection before his father could respond. He loved his old man, but the guy could be so weird at times. After piddling around in the kitchen for a few more minutes, he made his way back into the living room, pausing next to Grimmjow. The man was still slumped against the armrest, bright blue hair spread out over the soft, beige material. Ichigo wanted to run his fingers through it in order to find out whether it was as soft as it looked. Just as he started towards the opposite end of the couch, Grimmjow shifted in place and mumbled something under his breath, his brow creasing into a small frown. Ichigo paused, foot raised in mid-step.

What was that?

He waited for a few more moments and was rewarded for his patience. Grimmjow moved again, this time, his right hand edging towards his groin. Ichigo hadn't even realized that the sleeping captain had a very real issue brewing in his warmup pants until the man's hand pulled his attention to it. The tent formed there was indeed impressive, with more than enough potential to make Ichigo lose his cool.

"God," Grimmjow whispered, his brow lowering into a more pleased scowl.

Ichigo's face ignited as he realized what was going on, and his lower half began to react as it further sunk in. But no, he thought with a grimace. I can't let this get to me. Grimmjow might not even be into men that way, and there was no chance that Ichigo was about to force himself on his captain. Didn't matter how gorgeous the man was, either. He steadied his balance by placing a hand on the armrest and taking a few deep breaths. He could get through this. He could ignore Grimmjow's obvious woody and watch the rest of Major League like he'd started to before. He sucked down another lungful of determination before straightening his back. But as soon as he started to step over Grimmjow's long legs, the man sighed, the noise bleeding into a low, growling moan. It was unnerving, yet terribly arousing. Ichigo didn't know what to do.

"What the hell are you trying to do to me, Grimmjow?" he growled as he glared at the top of his captain's blue head.

Grimmjow mumbled again, but it was too low for Ichigo to catch. Therefore, he did a foolish thing: he lowered himself to his knees and put his ear as close as it could get to Grimmjow's mouth without disturbing the man's slumber. He was expecting Grimmjow to talk again; he wasn't expecting what happened next. As he sat waiting for Grimmjow's next mumbled statement, impatience crept in and made him turn his head to check the blue-haired man's status. When he did, he froze under the weight of Grimmjow's sea-blue stare. Ichigo fumbled around for an explanation of why he was so close to his teammate's face, but before he could get a word in edgewise, Grimmjow placed a hand at the back of his neck and drew him in for a kiss.

XOXOXO

Akihiko was angry with him. He'd missed one of their dates because of pressing business with the emperor, and now, his beautiful Akihiko was giving him the silent treatment. He supposed it was a good thing that the man had even bothered to show in the first place, but he was too distraught to consider it at the time.

"Forgive me, Akihiko," he pleaded.

The orange-haired man stubbornly turned his nose up at him and continued to pout and ignore him. He'd had enough. He'd suffered as well, missing his lover so much that it had made his gut ache. Yet, here he was being ignored for something that had been far beyond his control. He gently but firmly gripped Akihiko by the upper arms and pulled the shorter man to his chest.

"I missed you too," he growled.

Akihiko's enchanting brown eyes went wide as he stared. Then, they softened as he smiled.

"You mean that? You aren't getting tired of me?"

"I could never," he murmured into his lover's sensitive ear. "I love you too much."

Akihiko's face turned a charming shade of maroon as he lowered his eyes. For such an exquisite being, Akihiko had such low self-esteem. It made him wonder what had happened in his past to make him turn out that way.

"I love you too, Takeshi."

He leaned in and connected their lips briefly before pulling back to study his lover's face. He was so lucky to have met Akihiko. He was certain he never would have known the wondrous feeling of being in love and being loved in return had it not been for the man standing in his arms. He never wanted their time together to end. As he gazed into Akihiko's maple-brown eyes, his heart squeezed painfully. He tried to forget about the conversation he'd had with the emperor the day before, but it was impossible. The villagers were planning to revolt very soon, and he knew that it would place himself and Akihiko at odds, which he just couldn't stand to think about.

What would he do without Akihiko?

Just the thought alone sent a powerful surge of emotion crashing over him as he looked deep into Akihiko's eyes. He couldn't even stomach losing him.

Grimmjow felt warmth next to his face and blinked a few times before realizing that he was still almost nose-to-nose with Akihiko. Still spurred on by his previous emotions, he put his hand at the back of the orange-haired man's neck and pulled him in for another kiss. This time, however, Akihiko seemed to be stiff. In fact, the longer their lips remained connected, the more it felt as though Akihiko was paralyzed with shock. But that wasn't right. Determined to get Akihiko's nearly wanton responsiveness back, Grimmjow deepened the kiss, parting his lips and sweeping his tongue across the shorter man's lower lip. Akihiko sucked in what sounded like a startled breath, but hesitantly raised a hand and let it settle on Grimmjow's right shoulder.

That was a little better, but Grimmjow wanted more.

Once Akihiko allowed him entrance to the inside of his mouth, Grimmjow aggressively plundered it, the fingers at the back of Akihiko's neck idly toying with silken, orange hair. The kiss became heavy and urgent, Akihiko's hands traveling over Grimmjow's chest as he slowly sat up and pulled the other man closer to him. They were both moaning and groaning when a few things started to seem odd to Grimmjow. For one thing, Akihiko's scent was a little off. He didn't smell as earthy as he normally did. In fact, he didn't even taste the same. Grimmjow frowned and gradually ended the kiss, though he really didn't want to. As he pulled away, he focused on Akihiko's face and promptly felt all the blood drain from his own. His stomach seemed to drop out of his ass and his eyes bugged as he slowly looked around. There were no trees, no Roman and Lily, no open field...just a lust-filled, orange-haired center-fielder, staring at him with hooded, brown eyes.

"What's wrong?" Ichigo rumbled as he leaned forward and buried his nose against the side of Grimmjow's neck. "Why'd you stop?"

Unable to form words, Grimmjow shot to his feet, almost knocking over his teammate in the process. His breathing was harsh, and his heart was absolutely racing as he tried to figure out what to do. How the fuck had something like this happened? Had he been sleepwalking or something?

Just what the actual fuck?

"I-I...I...I..." he stuttered, feeling and looking like a fool.

Ichigo stood as well, obviously confused. He tilted his head in question as his eyes seemed to pick apart Grimmjow's fighting spirit. He was in the throes of a full-blown panic attack, or more accurately, a nervous breakdown. But as he stood there, waiting for Ichigo to say or do something that would give him a clue of what to do next, his mind just happened to slow down and think. Ichigo hadn't been resisting his advances. Granted, he'd been asleep and not really aware of who he'd been kissing at the time, but he hadn't been so far gone that he hadn't recognized the eagerness in Ichigo's kiss. Once they'd gotten started, things had careened along recklessly until Grimmjow had pulled the emergency brake. So...did that mean... By the way Ichigo was looking at him now, and by what Ichigo had asked him after Grimmjow had put an end to their lip-lock, it didn't seem like Ichigo had minded one bit.

Grimmjow thought about how risky it was, what they were doing. He thought about the press, and how they would have a field day if they found out about what was going on right now. He thought about all the possible negative outcomes of him and Ichigo getting together, but it still didn't stand up to the pulling in his gut that inevitably drew him closer to the younger man.

"To hell with it," he muttered.

He stalked over to Ichigo and wrapped his arms around him as he hurriedly reconnected their lips. In no time at all, they were kissing and desperately tearing at one another's clothing. Grimmjow was drunk with desire and giddy with lust. He wanted to make his insufferable teammate squeal and moan and all types of other wonderful things. He was officially a man on a mission.

I know it's been a long time coming. Sorry for the wait, and thanks for reading!