The Other Side

The portal had closed behind him, he had left and thought he wouldn't look back. Ichigo's first mating season was a total disaster, leaving him stranded in Hueco Mundo without a means of protection and in the care of his one-time-enemy Grimmjow Jaegerjaques. He can't complain much about it, as Grimmjow was patient and knew more about what was going on then himself. He explained things so Ichigo wouldn't feel so helpless and frustrated, made sure he was fed and safe, and even helped him adjust to such a powerful change within his life. Without the Sexta, Ichigo is positive he wouldn't have survived his time in the desert and he's truly thankful to the other.

"Ichigo, you're spacing again," Renji sighs as he snaps his fingers before the other.

"S-sorry," Ichigo blushes. "I was just… thinking. You know, about what happened."

"Don't worry about a thing, Ichi, we're totally prepared to keep you safe next time," Rukia assures. "Yamamoto-So-Taicho is already making preparations for the next mating season… it's coming up soon, you know."

"Not too soon, there's still a long way to go," the orangette frowns.

They say nothing more, Ichigo heading home after a night of Hollow chasing. Yes, chasing… ever since he returned from Hueco Mundo three days ago, they won't stick around long enough for a fight. Exhausted, Ichigo lets his body return to a human form, a nifty little trick he and Urahara worked on, and walks home. He's just been so tired lately, the time spent in Hueco Mundo running without food really hitting him hard.

*I feel something, aibou, * Shiro states.

*Something like what? *

*Oh, I think this is something you're like very much. *

He stretches and yawns, stopping abruptly when he feels a very familiar reiatsu signature. Ichigo's head whips around quickly, amber eyes huge in disbelief as he watches Grimmjow stroll out of the store with a few bags of groceries. The other is humming to himself as he heads for the park, Ichigo's feet immediately moving his body to follow. After he returned to his own world, Shiro hasn't shut up about him being stupid for leaving Grimmjow. His inner Hollow and even Zangetsu were hoping to drive Ichigo into the Espada's arms by being absent then, the two rather irritated when they learned Ichigo managed to keep from being marked.

"G-Grimmjow?" Ichigo stammers quietly.

"… Ichi? What the hell are you doing out so late?"

"You're seriously asking me that?" the orangette snaps. "I should be asking you what you're doing here!"

"I thought it was fairly obvious," the teal haired Espada snorts. "What with the grocery bags and all."

Ichigo can't hold it back anymore, hurrying over and wrapping his arms around the more dominant male's narrow waist. Grimmjow is surprised, but uses his free hand to stroke silken orange locks anyway.

*Ask him ta fuck ya! * Shiro cheers.

*Shut up, parasite! * Ichigo snarls inwardly before turning to Grimmjow, "Walk me home?"

"… Sure, I got nothing better to do."

Ichigo gives Grimmjow a large smile, the orangette's hand unconsciously taking the larger male's as he pulls him along. In truth, the Sexta hasn't been able to get Ichigo out of his head since he left. He knows Ichigo chose him as his mate, but the smaller male never would've made it in Hueco Mundo. They're quiet the whole walk, Ichigo bypassing the street the clinic is on and heading straight for a large building full of apartment flats.

"You moved."

"Yeah, about a week before I was pulled through the Garganta," he states. "I like this place, but… there's these guys. Since I came back a few days ago, they're always following me to my apartment. I know I could take them, they're just common thugs. It's just… I don't know… I don't feel safe."

Grimmjow nods, a shuffling from the alley catching their attention. Ichigo migrates closer to his side, the teal haired male draping his arm around the orangette's slender shoulders. From the alley stroll three guys, all fairly muscled with a swimmer's build and looking to be athletic. Grimmjow can smell the alcohol from where they stand, a low growl leaving his lips as they get closer. Ichigo hurries to his apartment door, just as he always does. The stairs are outside, each landing containing at least five apartments before you have to go to the next. Ichigo's is on the third floor, the fifth apartment on that landing and the furthest from the stairs.

"Hey, pretty boy," the largest male calls as the other two wolf-whistle. "Taking yer boyfriend home fer a little fun?"

*I sure hope so, * Shiro mutters.

*Shiro! Shut up, or I swear I'm gonna go in there and beat the shit out of you! *

"Wouldn't mind being in on that," another laughs.

Grimmjow glares at them, but keeps himself between them and his smaller companion. Ichigo is trying to find his key when they get brave enough to come a bit too close. Two of them grab a hold of Grimmjow's arms, the third and larger male slamming Ichigo against his door.

"Such a beautiful thing," he murmurs. "Ya wouldn't mind a little extra company, would ya?"

"Let me go!" Ichigo growls.

He gasps when a knee is pressed between his thighs, the man's weight pushing a little more… and then he swings. Ichigo's first makes a good connection with his attacker's strong jaw, but the alcoholic haze he's in doesn't register anything other than a fight. He raises his fist to lay the smaller male flat, yet the hit doesn't come. Grimmjow's leg swings as his body's movement throws the other two of him, smacking against the side of the large man's head and tossing him to the ground. He's back between Ichigo and them, setting his groceries in the orangette's arms.


"Don't bitch at me right now, do it later," he snaps. "I know you can take care of yourself, but I'm an impatient prick!"

"… Fair enough," Ichigo frowns.

"Look here, you stupid pieces of shit," Grimmjow snarls. "This here belongs to me, don't touch him. If he tells me you've been hassling him again, I'll break every bone in your fucking body! If I even smell the slightest whiff of your presence on him, I'll hunt you down and gut you! Don't think you can get away with shit around me, I'm the last person you wanna piss off!"

They're trembling in fear in the face of Grimmjow's killing aura, so soaked in animalistic tendencies they wouldn't be able to tell the difference if a wildcat were staring them down. Slowly, the three males back away and hurry off. Ichigo is still scowling at the more dominant male, but shakes his head as he unlocks his door. He keeps walking, bags in hand.

"Whoa, hang on," Grimmjow states. "I didn't buy those for you, you know."

"I know, but… you're coming in, aren't you?"

Rolling his eyes, and secretly overjoyed the smaller male asked, the Sexta strolls past the entrance and shuts the door. The flat is nice, rather spacious and well decorated in blues and whites and blacks. Ichigo is setting everything in the kitchen, pulling himself up to sit on the counter as Grimmjow walks in to lean on the one across from him.

"Thanks," Ichigo blushes. "Those guys were really starting to worry me."

"Ichigo, why are you living here if they won't leave you be?"

"Well, this isn't the first time they've done something like this," he states quietly. "The first time was when I was living at home, and then again two weeks before mating season… I was staying at Urahara's then. It doesn't matter to them, no one has been able to scare them off until you."


"Move in with me?" Ichigo blurts out with a bright blush. "I mean… that's not what I meant, what I meant was… it's just…"

*Tell him ya want him ta fuck ya! * Shiro growls before Ichigo blocks him out completely.

"Ichigo, I'm not used to living in the human world," Grimmjow starts carefully. "Things have settled considerably between the Shinigami and myself, but… I don't know if I can be more help to you than I would be a hindrance. I'm positive things like what I did tonight aren't tolerated in this world like they are in Hueco Mundo."

"… Don't you miss me?"

"Of course I do, Ichi," the Sexta grins a tad less than feral. "I miss you a lot. But I knew you couldn't survive in my world, just like I know I'd just bring you trouble here."

He's heartbroken when Ichigo looks away with tears in his eyes, all too aware that the orangette has never liked someone as much as he does the Sexta. Grimmjow frowns and looks away a moment, sorting through his options and sighing.

"Look, I'll try, okay?" he purrs.

"Really?" the teen asks excitedly.

"Yeah. I'll try. I've been making money with odd jobs, so I'm not completely useless. My temper will be difficult to control, but I've been learning," he offers. "Right now, you're the most important thing in my life. If this is what you want, I'll try."

Ichigo cries out happily, hopping down and leaning into the larger male for a hug. Grimmjow smiles minutely at the ball of happiness, tightening his hold on the other before kissing the top of his head. It's been three days since he sent Ichigo through the Garganta even though he wanted to stay, the Espada never regretting it once although his nights were a little more cold, and now he has a chance to have his mate completely. He won't screw this up… he can't.

Ichigo has a routine, that's quickly learned even from the moments between entering his flat and getting ready for bed after dinner. When he gets home, the orangette makes something to eat and cleans up what he can before taking a shower and brushing his teeth. Afterward, he falls asleep watching a movie and wakes about fifteen minutes after falling asleep to go to bed. This first night, Grimmjow just watches him. When he gets ready to go to bed, the orangette stops short of the door to the bedroom and shyly looks over his shoulder.

"I… don't have a guest room," Ichigo murmurs with a light blush. "But… neither did you, right?"

"No, I didn't," Grimmjow smirks. "Why?"

"… Do you… want to stay in my room? With me?"

With a deep chuckle, the teal haired male nods and moves so gracefully if could cause a nosebleed in a lesser person toward the substitute Shinigami. Ichigo is enthralled by the way Grimmjow moves, his feline grace bordering a stalking motion seen only in wild cats hunting, and the Sexta has to push him gently into the room to shake his amber eyes from solid muscle. Ichigo doesn't have any clothes that can fit Grimmjow, so the larger male strips down before a sputtering and blushing orangette. Afterward, said orangette grudgingly lets him in bed as his hot blush glows in the dark like neon lighting. Grimmjow snickers at him, pulling Ichigo closer to curl their bodies together. He buries his nose in orange silk that smells like cinnamon and sunshine, holding tightly to the potential mate he let go three days before.

"… Good night, Grimm," Ichigo whispers with a satisfied tone.

"Good night, Ichi."

The next morning, Ichigo is startled awake by a pounding at his door. Grimmjow is snoozing peacefully beside him, arms wrapped securely around the orangette that was sleeping on his chest. Carefully, Ichigo slips from Grimmjow's hold and quietly makes his way to his front door. When he opens it, he's actually surprised to see who's there. Shinji and Hiyori are standing cautiously outside his flat, eyes scanning the area as though they're ready for an attack.

"What are you guys doing here?" he wonders.

"Oh! Well… Urahara told us you moved from his place and we thought we'd pay you a friendly visit," Shinji grins. "You know… see how you're holding up after your big scare."

"Mm-hmm. Want to try again?" the younger teen says flatly.

"No seriously!" Hiyori states. "We were under the impression you went back to his shop after coming home, we were never told you moved to your own place."

"… Come on in."

The two walk past Ichigo, surprised to see him in his pajama pants and a tee shirt still. Shinji realizes for the first time that it's a Saturday, scolding himself for not thinking Ichigo could still be asleep at eight in the morning. It isn't until they're comfortable on the couch and Ichigo is getting them some tea that another person can be heard in the shower, the two immediately curious.

"So, Ichi… I didn't know you moved in with a friend," Hiyori ventures.

"I didn't," the teen answers as he carries over the tea. "They moved in with me. I mean, not really. I had problems last night, so they stayed and I… well… asked them to move in. It's sort of a trial thing."

"A boyfriend?" Shinji inquires.

"… I don't know," Ichigo blushes.

"I thought you were sweet on Kensei," Hiyori bristles.

"What? What the hell gave you that idea?"

"Well… last mating season, you were kind of getting gooey for him."

"No I wasn't. He was all over Mashiro, I knew I didn't have a chance with him."

The bedroom door opens and Grimmjow walks out in a towel that's hanging dangerously low on his hips, water still making its way down his tan skin in tiny rivulets as Ichigo starts drooling. Shinji's jaw hit's the floor, Hiyori's brow starts to twitch, and the ex-Espada heads for the kitchen. Finally, Ichigo seems to come back to himself.

"Grimm!" he shouts. "Have you no modesty!"

"… No. Why? Do I have something to be embarrassed about?" he wonders with a lecherous smirk.

Ichigo automatically lets his eyes travel down the expanse hard muscle, licking his lips before blushing brightly and looking away. Shinji and Hiyori are recovered enough to notice this, both frowning before giving each other a glance.

"Admit it, you totally want me," Grimmjow chuckles as he goes back to looking for some breakfast. "Hey, do you remember where you put the eggs?"

"I'll do it, just go get dressed!"

"Fat chance of that, my clothes smell like alcohol and puke thanks to those assholes," the Sexta scoffs. "Would you mind picking me up something?"

"… Alone?"

Shinji and Hiyori sense the slight change in Ichigo, catching the barely heard whimper and the fear that flashes in his eyes. Without a doubt, they know he was attacked by another Alpha.

"We'll get them," Shinji offers. "You know how Urahara keeps all those clothes at his place for his gigai, we'll just borrow some from him until you can get some for… Grimmjow."

"Thank you, guys."

Grimmjow recognizes the two from mating season, remembers they're Ichigo's friends and they're together on some level. He deems them okay to leave his Berry alone with, heading back into the room to hunt down his shed clothes to wash. Once Grimmjow is gone, steely gazes are locked on the orangette.

"Are you sure about this, Ichigo?" Shinji asks.

"… I can't stop thinking about him," Ichigo murmurs. "Everything I do has me back with him in Hueco Mundo. Shin, a couple times after I came back… I had to catch myself before I went through another Garganta to find him."

"Why didn't you tell someone!" Hiyori hisses.

"I didn't want to get in trouble. It's bad enough I go through heat, I didn't want them thinking I was completely useless and dependant on Grimmjow."

"Grimmjow is one of your kind, Ichi, it's only natural for you to want to be with him."

He nods, though he doesn't look them in the eye, and the two decide it's best to let Ichigo ferret through his feelings on his own. He's young yet, this is the first time he's actually felt so strongly for someone… it's only natural he be confused about it. When they leave, Grimmjow is carrying dirty clothes to the laundry room… in his birthday suit.

"Grimm!" Ichigo screams as his face lights up.

"You better get used to it, Ichi," he scoffs. "And remember, you wanted me here."

Ichigo is scowling heatedly on the outside, but on the inside his little Beta side is hopping around joyfully with Shiro. With a resigned sigh, Ichigo heads into the bathroom to shower. He's actually shocked Grimmjow didn't mess anything up without cleaning it. The dirty clothes are all in the basket, which is with him now, there's no water on the floor and everything looks as though no one was there. When Grimmjow strolls in as soon as he climbs in the shower, Ichigo is screaming in mortification.

"Ichigo, calm down," Grimmjow frowns. "Have you forgotten that you frequently had baths with me sitting outside on the floor to wash you? Whatever you have, I'm positive it hasn't changed since then."

"I'm not used to people just popping into the bathroom when I'm showering!"

"I just wanted to get your clothes to make a load! It's not like it'll kill you if I glimpse your blurry outline through the damn warped glass!"

"… I'm sorry, you just… startled me."

"You have to get used to me living here, Ichigo. I'm not going to act any different than I did in Hueco Mundo, so you'd better catch on quick. If you don't, I'll have to leave."

"No! No, I'm sorry, please don't leave me," Ichigo says hurriedly as the glass door slides open further from the shower head and the orangette peeks out. "I'm trying, Grimm, I really am. I've never shared a place with someone as… comfortable as you."

This is strange to the ex-Espada, the comment confusing him. He leans against the sink to speak to the other, noting how much more relaxed Ichigo is now that he knows it's Grimmjow. Briefly, he wonders if those men riled the orangette more than he let on.

"What do mean 'comfortable'?"

"Well… you're comfortable with who you are and your surroundings and who you're with," Ichigo murmurs. "You don't have a problem with walking around in a towel or naked, or walking in when I'm showering, or acting like yourself in my… I mean, our apartment."

"You should never feel bad for acting like yourself, Ichi," the older male chuckles. "We were all born different for a reason… variety makes the world go round."

*Invite him into the shower with you, aibou, * Shiro suggests. *He won't hurt you. *

Ichigo smiles, reaching out and pulling Grimmjow closer to him. Although he's already taken a shower, there're no objections from the Sexta when Ichigo beckons him past the warped glass door. The orangette hugs him, Grimmjow wrapping his arms around a tan back to keep Ichigo close to him. After the long hug, the orangette goes back to his shower and Grimmjow takes to washing the other's hair. A content purr escapes Ichigo, the smaller unconsciously leaning back against Grimmjow.

"You're going to fall if you keep that up."

"Hmm… maybe we should start taking baths."

"That's an idea," the Sexta chuckles richly.

"I don't have anything to do today, so when Shinji gets back with your clothes we can go shopping."

"… How do you afford a place like this, Ichi?"

"I work," the orangette states affronted. "I have a job at a magazine, I take pictures for the articles. I prefer the wildlife ones, but it's so hard to get good enough photos and you have to travel a lot."

"You know, I think I might be able to help with that."

"Awesome! Those pay way more than mundane photos!" Ichigo cheers. "We could be a team! Then we'd get double the pay!"

"Perfect. Let's finish up before your Visored pals get back, don't want them having a heart attack."

"They asked me if you were my boyfriend," Ichigo murmurs with a blush.

"… We'll go in whatever direction you're comfortable with, okay?"

"I want that," the orangette breaths out. "But… I don't think I'm ready for a mate. Is that okay, Grimm?"

"That's fine. We've got all eternity."

He's confused, but Ichigo nods anyway. After the shower, which is quicker than the nineteen year old would've liked, Ichigo is dried off and dressed. It's not a moment too soon that he's pulling a shirt over his head, as there's a knock at his door and he answers it to Shinji and Hiyori.

"Hey, that was fast."

"Didn't want you dying of a nosebleed," Hiyori states mischievously. "That's one serious hunk you're now living with."

"Sh-shut up," Ichigo mumbles with a scowl and a blush.

"Oh, that blush makes your usual killer scowl so intimidating," she laughs.

"Here are the clothes I promised," Shinji smiles. "I hope they fit."

"Thank you, I'll be right back…"

"Oh, no, we have to get going," the blonde grins. "We don't want to intrude on your bonding time."

"The hell we don't."

"Oh! Guys… he's my boyfriend," Ichigo grins widely.

Shinji claps him on the back supportively while he's screaming on the inside, but Hiyori is overjoyed she'll have more to tease the orangette about. After ushering them out of his apartment, Ichigo carries the clothes into his laundry room where Grimmjow is waiting for the washer to finish.



Without further ado, Grimmjow strips off his towel and Ichigo lights up like a stop light. That part of this whole thing is going to be the hardest to get used to. Grimmjow gets dressed, grinning feral at his shy little uke, and then puts the wash in the dryer before Ichigo decides they should leave. Grimmjow is dressed in tight black jeans and a leather jacket with a white tank that could be a second skin, poor Ichigo trapped in a Grimmjow-haze as he follows the larger male with his amber eyes glued to his tight backside. It's an ego boost for the teal haired male, yet he pulls Ichigo up beside him after a bit in order to snap him out of it. After all, the teal haired Sexta doesn't know where his uke wants to shop.

It's not the mall that gives them problems, though Grimmjow is uncomfortable with the amount of humans crowded around him, but the Shinigami they met on the way back to Ichigo's apartment… that was a problem.

"What the hell is he doing here?" Renji snaps.

"He's my boyfriend," Ichigo says innocently. "Why shouldn't he be with me?"

"Ichigo! Are you crazy?" Rukia gasps. "He can't be your boyfriend, he's a Hollow! Besides, we came to take you to Seireitei. So-Taicho wants to discuss the upcoming mating season with you."

Ichigo's face reddens immediately, his scowl marred by the blush as he attempts to look threatening and fails. Grimmjow holds back the snicker, although his huge grin isn't lost on the Shinigami. Renji reaches for Ichigo's arm, the orangette scooting away and closer to his teal haired companion.

"I don't need help, Grimm will take care of me."

"Just because he did so last time, doesn't mean he will this time!"

"Yeah I will," the feline shrugs. "I don't like to share."

"Ichigo, please… just come with us. We don't want the Taicho getting upset because you'd rather a Hollow protect you than us."

"… Grimmjow takes better care of me than they do."

That's all he says, gripping the six foot three male's hand before pulling him past the two. Rukia is in shock, Renji glaring at the taller male as he's carted away by Ichigo. Grimmjow sighs, knowing this is seriously going to mess with his daily life. If the Shinigami deem him unworthy to be around Ichigo, they'll hunt him down and chase him off. The orangette doesn't stop until they're back at the apartment, tossing the bags to the floor before flopping onto the couch. He's pouting, his knees drawn up beneath his chin as his arms wrap around his legs. The larger male sits beside his vibrant haired beau, nuzzling orange locks as he purrs.

"What's wrong."

"… They always have to ruin everything."

"I'm still here, aren't I?"

"Yeah, but…"

"I'm not leaving you, Ichigo. You're mine and they can't change that."

"I don't want them to make you go away," Ichigo murmurs. "I… I'll follow you. I want to be with you, it hurt so much when you were gone."

Grimmjow pulls the smaller male into his lap and holds him tightly, breathing in his scent and assuring him by wrapping his reiatsu around the orangette. Ichigo's skin tingles pleasantly, just like it did in Hueco Mundo, and he purrs for his boyfriend. Ichigo is still uncertain and lost, as the emotions he felt during mating season went away… but the minute he saw Grimmjow he started falling back into that vulnerable submission he was in before. The other male told him it would go away once he left Hueco Mundo, which it did, but he never said it might come back before mating season returned.

"You're scowling."

*Aibou, answer him! * Shiro comments to his half-gone king.


"What's got you so wound up, Ichi?"

*Say you wanna kiss him! * the snowy haired male cheers. *You know you do! *

"… I want to kiss you."

Grimmjow's cyan pools widen at the comment, Ichigo's own doing the same as his face lights up. He didn't mean to blurt that out, he just… really wants to kiss the other. His inner Hollow isn't helping anything, either, not that he ever does. He hides his face in embarrassment, near tears at the thought of being made fun of, but Grimmjow's finger beneath his chin forces his face up.

*Shiro! I'm so gonna kill you! Stop embarrassing me, * he whines inwardly.

"Now, how can you kiss me if you can't look at me?" the taller male teases.

Ichigo looks up in surprise, his amber eyes meeting stormy blue, and Grimmjow inches him closer until their lips touch lightly. It takes a moment to clear his shock, but once he does Ichigo presses closer and wraps his arms around Grimmjow's neck. He opens his mouth when Grimmjow licks his bottom lip, letting the more dominant male explore his mouth, and moans when the kiss is deepened. The orangette can feel a shiver run along his seme's skin, said ex-Espada slowly maneuvering his Shinigami to straddle his lap. Ichigo is a very willing and eager partner, gripping teal locks tightly as he attempts to please his boyfriend with that single kiss. The minute strong hands start traveling to slip beneath his waistband and grip firm cheeks, however, Ichigo is pulling away nervously.

*No! Aibou, ya idiot! * Shiro snarls. *Let him fuck ya! Ya need an Alpha, damn it! *

"Sorry," Grimmjow murmurs as he withdraws his hands. "I wasn't trying to pressure you or anything."

"I know… I just… I'm sorry I can't give you what you want," the orangette whispers disheartened.

"But you already have," Grimmjow grins cockily. "I have you, what more could I want? I can wait for everything else, Ichigo… but if I didn't have you, someone else would."

"Thanks, but that's not cheering me up."

*Sex would cheer ya up! * the Hollow screams inside Ichigo's head. *Sex will definitely cheer ya up! Just lay down fer him! *

"If you're not ready, you're not ready."

"You are."

"I'll be honest with you, Ichi. I'm not exactly a pristine Hollow… I really don't think there is such a thing," he murmurs in thought. "Look, I've been around. I've long since lost my shyness and hesitation, you can't have those in Hueco Mundo. It'll be nice to slow down and not worry about your mate getting yanked out from under you in the middle of the act…"

"What act?" Ichigo inquires curiously.

"Uh… never mind. It'll just be nice to play slow for once, okay?"

Ichigo nods his understanding, though that question and curiosity are still in his eyes. The last thing Grimmjow needs is to have to explain how sex works in Hueco Mundo, he was lucky he didn't have to go into details during mating season! The vibrant haired teen curls up against Grimmjow and purrs as he slowly falls asleep to the rhythmic sound of the other's breathing.

Sunday isn't an important day or anything, but Grimmjow is startled awake by Ichigo's excited cry from the living room. Still half asleep and ready to kill someone, the teal haired male stumbles into the living room as quickly as possible without hurting himself and scans the area for a threat. Ichigo is watching him in surprise with a phone in one hand.

"What happened? Are you hurt?"

"No… my boss is on the line," Ichigo grins. "He's lined up a nature shot for me!"

"Great, I'm going back to bed."

"No, Grimm, you're coming, too. Remember?"

"… Now?"

"Well, you have to get ready now," the orangette frowns. "I have to leave soon and I want you to come with me."

With a groan, the teal haired male heads to the shower. Human life is going to take some time to adjust to, it's always so chaotic and everything has to be done three days ago. With a heavy sigh, he turns on the hot water and hops in to soak. Once he's finished, he dries off and tosses the wet towel into the clothes bin. Stalking into the bedroom nude, he notes Ichigo's set his clothes out for him on the freshly made bed.

"Grimmjow, are you almost done?"

"… Yeah."

He can't help the large feral grin that splits his face when Ichigo walks in to see him bare, the orangette lighting up and swiftly turning around so he doesn't have to see. The older male laughs at that, knowing his boyfriend is scowling.

"You said you were almost done!"

"I am, I just have to get dressed," he snickers. "I don't see why you get so flustered, it's not a sin to admire something you like."

"What do you know about what I like!"

"I know you're side glancing the mirror on the dresser."

Ichigo squeaks and stomps off, the ex-Arrancar laughing loudly at his little beau's mortification and Shiro's laughter echoing it within Ichigo's head. He honestly sees nothing wrong with it, as knowing that his appearance pleases his mate boosts Grimmjow's ego each time he catches Ichigo looking. He briefly wonders if it makes Ichigo feel good to know Grimmjow watches him, but pushes the thought out of his head in favor of dressing. Of course Ichigo feels good about it, as Grimmjow can tell he's been caught by the bright blush on that feminine face and Ichigo never says anything against it.

The orangette is ecstatic the whole way to the office, but his face falls almost immediately when he's told the assignment will force him to travel to Australia to take photos of the kangaroos. Ichigo doesn't like leaving Karakura, as he's always afraid he won't be able to travel fast enough to come back should he be needed. Grimmjow, however, tells the manager they'll take the assignment and hauls a protesting berry over his shoulder to leave.

"Grimm! I can't leave Karakura, the flight will take hours!"

"Who said anything about a flight?" the other grins widely. "I can get us there in a few seconds. Besides, this is what you want to do, right? Travel around and take nature shots? If that's what you want, that's what your gonna get."

"… Grimm… you're so sweet!" Ichigo smiles widely.

"Yeah, yeah, just don't tell anybody."

He tears open a Garganta, having made sure Ichigo grabbed what he needed before leaving, and shoves his uke inside. It's only a few seconds later that they're walking out onto the plains of Australia, Ichigo's eyes widening in amazement at this new scenery.

"Wow," he whispers. "Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?"

"Yep… it's standing right next to me."

"… You idiot."

It's mumbled and the other is blushing, so Grimmjow knows it's just an automatic response to lessen Ichigo's embarrassment. He's quite surprised his mate is so easy to figure out for him, though he knows most would have extreme difficulty. Ichigo is the type to hit you in the face to say I love you, violent and unpredictable in most cases… but Grimmjow's always loved the feisty ones.

"Let's find your damn kangaroo so we can get home."

It doesn't take long to locate a group of the animal they seek, as they're everywhere, so the only problem they have is keeping predators from finding Ichigo a tasty treat. Grimmjow takes care of that, sitting straight and perfectly still in a feline fashion as his senses scan the area for predators other than himself. Ichigo is thankful for the other's company, he's sure to get too engrossed in his work to keep guarded against attack. As Ichigo carefully works around the animals, making sure not to disturb them too much, Grimmjow's orbs catch movement in the tall yellow grass surrounding them. He slinks off his large rock, moving perfectly through the grass to come up behind the one closing in on his mate. Ichigo is startled when a hunter enters the area, gun in hand and sinister grin twisting his lips.

"W-what are you doing here?" Ichigo asks in surprise.

"What does it look like?" he scoffs. "I'm hunting. Though it looks like I'll be having to get rid of you as well, can't have you blabbing to the authorities."

"I don't think so," Grimmjow growls from behind the man.

His claws are at the man's throat, his free hand reaching around to get rid of the gun. The poacher, as Ichigo can only guess he was after the kangaroos and that's illegal, glares furiously at Ichigo since he can't glare at the man behind him. In seconds the teal haired man has him tied up, Ichigo's called the authorities to pick him up, and the two are heading back home.

"That was so much fun!" Ichigo cries out in his apartment. "Thank you, Grimm!"

"You're welcome, Ichi," he smiles. "Now, go see what kind of photos you got, okay? I'm gonna take a nap, I'm exhausted. You humans get up way too early."

With a cute little laugh, Ichigo heads into his dark room and starts to develop the film. The dark room is a large closet that was supposed to hold storage, but Renji and Kisuke helped Ichigo convert it. Ichigo never has storage, as he's never collected enough to call it that, so this was a better option for him. As he's busy doing that, Grimmjow lays back on the couch and just listens. It's a few minutes, he's almost asleep, and there's a knock at the door.

"Grimm, can you get that?" Ichigo calls. "I can't open the door right now or my pictures will be ruined."

"Yeah, I got it."

He swings open the door to see the Shinigami glaring balefully back at him. He growls in irritation, yet leans against the doorway to talk to them anyway. He may be their ex-enemy, but they've left him alone since mating season and he owes them for that.

"To what do I owe this… pleasure," he says sarcastically.

"We've come to speak with Kurosaki," Soi-Fon frowns. "We weren't aware you were here, Arrancar."

"I live here," he points out.

Everyone gawks at him upon hearing those three unexpected words, the teal haired male watching them carefully. Finally, Soi-Fon is the one to speak up.

"You had better take very good care of him, Arrancar," she frowns. "This may not be Hueco Mundo, but it has it's own dangers."

"Understood. You don't have to worry, Ichigo is in more than capable hands."

Within the black room, Ichigo is arguing with Shiro. His inner Hollow has come out to speak with him, the evolved Hollow taking on a more human form to stand on level ground with Ichigo.

"What are ya so afraid of?" Shiro hisses. "He's perfect fer ya!"

"I just… I don't know. I want to, but… I keep backing away."

"It's not hard, Ichi," the snowy haired male growls. "Ya need an Alpha soon, or next mating season yer gonna end up trapped with one ya don't want!"

"Grimmjow wouldn't let that happen…"

"He's not yer mate till ya lay down fer him! He has ta mark ya to get the right ta keep ya from others, so lay the fuck down and spread yer damn legs already!"

"Stop pressuring me! I don't understand why it's so damn important to be marked anyway!"

"Ichigo, a mark is everything ta a Hollow," the other explains as he leans against the table. "It's like a wedding ring, or a warning. If a Hollow doesn't sense a mark, whether it be scent or reiatsu, the Beta is fair game. No Hollow has the right ta keep a Beta from mating. Grimmjow was lucky he could tell 'em it was a work in progress last time, but he let ya get away. He doesn't have the right ta keep 'em away a second time without having his mark on ya."

"… That's bull."

"No, it's not. His scent is what keeps 'em away, the feel a his reiatsu upon yer skin. Those are what they look fer, what they tiptoe around. In Hueco Mundo, ya were in Grimmjow's territory, so ya were automatically his. This ain't Hueco Mundo, Ichi, and this ain't his territory."

"But… I'm scared."

"Has he hurt ya so far?"


"What do ya have ta be scared of?"

"… What if he doesn't want me anymore?" Ichigo whispers. "I don't want to give up everything just to be left alone again."

"For fuck's sake, Ichi, I'm always with ya!" Shiro snaps. "Yer never alone! When are ya gonna start understanding that? Besides, Grimm ain't the type ta fuck 'em and leave 'em, trust me."

"I don't know…"

"It's yer call, aibou," he sighs. "Just remember… I told ya so."

Shiro vanishes as Ichigo heaves a heavy sigh, his mind going a mile a minute. Grimmjow promised to take care of him next mating season, too… How did he expect to do that if he's not allowed to keep Ichigo from mating? A knock at the door startles the orangette from his musings, the petite male checking to make certain his photos are done to open the door.

"Hey, the Taicho all stopped by," Grimmjow informs. "They know I'm living here now, they told me to make sure I behave and take care of you."

"… How?"

"What do you mean how?"

"Shiro said you can't, that no one is allowed to keep a Beta from mating… so how did you expect to?"

"I don't fucking care what the rules are, Ichigo," Grimmjow frowns. "You're mine, just because I didn't mark you doesn't make that any less true. If someone tries to take you from me, I will kill them."

"Would you ever leave me?" Ichigo wonders quietly.

"From the moment I first met you, I couldn't get you out of my head," the other confesses. "After the war, I couldn't look at another without wondering what you would feel like. I couldn't think about mating without seeing you beneath me… with my mark. Four years, you plagued my every thought. I'm not about to give you up a second time."

"… Will you take me tonight?"

Grimmjow stares in shock at the smaller male, his amber eyes downcast as a light blush tints the bridge of his nose. Grimmjow could swear his whole world just came to an abrupt stop in the face of that question, his heartbeat skipping rapidly as his brain goes through a small meltdown. Ichigo was seriously asking him to take him, to mark him and make him his. The grin that slowly spreads on his lips is nothing short of feral, containing promises of sinful pleasure that will have Ichigo passed out on his bed.

"With immense pleasure," he purrs.

That night, beneath the light of the full moon that streams in through the large window, Ichigo lays down for Grimmjow. The older male knows he's nervous, can sense his apprehension as well as his eagerness, so he goes slow and tests the waters frequently. Ichigo responds to the kissing well, letting Grimmjow slip his tongue past his lips with a moan. Grimmjow's hands slowly disrobe them, feeling the slight tremors of pleasure vibrating along tan skin, and finally lays himself flat against warm skin once they're both bare. He takes his time, something he's never had the luxury of in the sands of Hueco Mundo, running his hands along firm muscle and locating sensitive areas he files away for later use.

"Please, Grimm," Ichigo murmurs. "Don't tease me, just do it."


"Because I… I'm uncomfortable and… I really want it."

With a deep chuckle, Grimmjow reaches into the bedside table and pulls out a small tube. Ichigo doesn't remember that being there, but he did lose Grimmjow for a few minutes at the mall. He whimpers when his legs are spread wide, gasping in discomfort when a slicked finger is pressed passed his tight ring of muscle. Grimmjow stretches him languidly, not wanting to risk harming his uke. He waits until Ichigo is a writhing mess beneath him from constant stimulation to his prostate, and then turns the orangette onto his stomach. The vibrant haired teen is confused, but doesn't question his seme. Grimmjow's done this before, surely he knows what he's doing. His hips are raised, his head cradled in his arms as he gazes over a shoulder with half lidded lust filled amber eyes, and then something much larger than three fingers is pushing against him. Ichigo whimpers, closing his eyes tightly shut as he's entered and stretched and filled completely.

"Relax, ichi," Grimmjow purrs against his back. "You need to relax or it'll hurt more."

"I… I'm trying."

"Fuck, you're tight. Come, relax a bit."

Grimmjow nibbles on Ichigo's neck, nuzzling behind his ear to help the orangette settle down. Finally, Ichigo loosens around his stiff member and Grimmjow sighs in relief as he thrusts in to the hilt. Once Ichigo gives him the go-ahead, the pace is fast and hard. The orangette is screaming for more beneath him, trying his best to move his hips back and take in more of Grimmjow's girth. It's so sweet, so perfect, but it's coming crashing down on them much too fast… it always does with new Betas. Grimmjow hisses as Ichigo comes, his walls closing around the teal haired seme tightly. Fangs bite into Ichigo's collar ruthlessly, warmth seeping into the injury the same moment thick cum fills the smaller male to the brim. Ichigo screams in his ecstasy, Grimmjow purring at the sound of his name falling from those lips. They lay exhausted afterward, Ichigo snoozing deeply on his chest. His cyan orbs, glowing in the dark of the night, take in the gothic six on the smaller male's neck and a lazy grin touches his lips. This is his mate, this is the one he loves, and no one will ever take him away.