Sinful Part VI

Darkness Rising


When Ichigo awoke the next night, nightfall had passed by two hours and he found himself alone in the large lavish bed he shared with his immortal lover.

The metal sheath designed to protect said lover from the sun, whose rays would immediately set invisible flame to the flesh and hellish, fiery pain upon any Fallen angel, had been opened fully to let in the faint dusky light of evening. This confused Ichigo, whom had grown accustomed to glorious 'mornings' when he was met by the strikingly dazzling blue-haired man at his side with tender yet no less passionate kisses.

His hands slid across the midnight blue satin sheets beside him, feeling the silken fabric cold and surmising that Grimmjow had long since awoken and slipped out of bed - most likely as soon as the last beam of sunshine disappeared underneath the steady horizon. Frowning, he stretched his legs and arms and sat up, tossing the blankets to the side. His bare feet had only just touched the chilled hardwood floor when he spotted an ivory envelope propped against the lamp on the nightstand with elegant script spelling out Sweetheart in sapphire ink.

Grumbling under his breath that the maudlin nickname was soon becoming far too popular with his blunette love, Ichigo plucked the envelope up and unfolded the back. Inside was a small, thick stationery card stained with the same beautiful inked handwriting that read:

Summoned for mandatory audience with Aizen and the Court. Will return before eight o'clock. We can go out for dinner afterwards.



P.S. The mutt is still asleep in the guest room. I'll deal with him later.

Tangerine brows furrowed, the mind behind them ticking away with possibilities for why Grimmjow had been called in for some sort of emergency meeting with that prick Aizen and if the contents of what they may be discussing had anything to do with either the attack on Shiro last night or especially the things Grimmjow was ever so discreetly hiding.

Okay, obviously there was a threat to their community - one that had come to blows with the Hell Hound himself, and that meant whoever it was they were no joke. Not to mention, Ichigo did remember Grimm telling him that Ginjou and his gang had some part in whatever it was. Yet what could mere mortals be doing playing such a dangerous game with such powerful opponents.

By the time the orangette realized he'd been fretting over the previous twenty minutes had passed and he'd chewed his lower lip raw. Sighing, he pushed himself off the bed and glanced at the clock, a zing of alarm dashing up through him at it telling him he had forty-five minutes in which to get ready for this dinner with Grimmjow (which he could technically consider a date, right?)

"Shit, shit, shit," he muttered fiercely, padding hurriedly across the bedroom to the spacious walk-in closet he and Grimmjow used to store their entire wardrobe (though Ichigo's continued to expand due to a certain sea-foam haired fashionista whose access to her ward's credit cards resulted in tons upon tons of online orders being shipped to the apartment.) The sheer amount of clothing items ever so neatly displayed in a meticulous color-coded manner Nelliel herself had organized was overwhelming, yet Ichigo was satisfied that for once now that Nel was away visiting friends he could choose an outfit for himself.

This was harder than he'd imagined, he soon realized. Too many options made it difficult to narrow it down to even just a few contenders and there was also the fact that Grimmjow had never said where this dinner date was going to be so there was the added stress of wondering if he would be over or underdressed. God, he'd never had to worry about this before his beloved had sought him out for that fateful meeting. All Ginjou had ever ordered he wear were the skimpiest clothes he could find that still blatantly showed he was a young man whose body had sharp planes and angles instead of supple curves.

Ichigo's lip curled up in a sneer of disgust at the thought of that scumsucking bastard who'd used his body and treated it as if it were a toy to be passed around from customer to customer. Well, that was of course only after the slimy, sleazy prick had gotten the orange-haired boy hooked on heroin so he could control a desperate nineteen year-old addict with that slow-acting poison.

It was most likely those memories floating back up to the surface of his consciousness that Ichigo abandoned his unique slightly androgynous/slightly gothic/slightly club kid style and decided to go for something a little more conservative, which Nelliel must have foreseen happening because among the darker, thicker fabric-adorned clothes he discovered precisely what he was looking for.

Flipping through the rack of tops, tunics, and shirts Ichigo stumbled upon an ebony Topman skinny fit blazer, a Ralph Lauren crimson extra-trim fit dress shirt, Rag & Bone skinny dark wash jeans and black officer boots, and to top it all off a very fitting platinum feather pendant on a long matching chain. Once he was finished donning his outfit, Ichigo checked himself out in the body-length mirror and smoothed his hands over his front, tracing the outline of the protective rosary underneath his shirt. He had to say, this might've been the best he'd looked in ages. The clothes were really 'him' and without any promiscuous nuance whatsoever. Plus, he'd skipped the face paint in favor of a more au naturale, fresh faced look.

He had to admit, that skinny, pale, grim, hollow-eyed boy who'd walked into the office at Sexta was no longer - a faint, shallow ghost in the back of his mind. Never had he thought that would change.

Ichigo Kurosaki was now vibrant, vital, valuable. He was somebody worthwhile and he could say without shame he was glowing and radiant with newfound love, something that made his flesh luminous, eyes sparkle, and smile glitter like an earthbound star.

The smallest of smiles tilting his lips at the recognition of how far he'd come and just who he had to thank for it, the orangette exited the wardrobe and then the bedroom. He stepped through the hallway as quietly as he was able, recalling the wounded beast in repose slumbering in his home and the words of warning to let him be. Though Ichigo believed that really had to mean just don't wake Mr. Hell Hound Shirosaki up and allow him to sleep off the no doubt excruciating pain of his wounds.

Creeping up to the guestroom door, the youth let his protective nature get the best of him and knew he had to at least check in on the demonic being and make certain he was all right. Shiro was his friend and it was the least he could do were his mental reassurances as he slowly turned the knob and cracked the door open so that only a sliver of the space was visible.

Shirosaki was indeed still slumbering deeply, his body laying above the dark blue and light gray damask striped bedclothes where his bare, bandaged chest rose and fell with his steady breathing. His long sugar white locks were splayed out around his head like a halo upon the storm gray pillows and his handsome porcelain features were peaceful, his demeanor like that of some sort of pagan god in an enchanted sleep. It was eerie, Ichigo pondered, to lay eyes upon a being so beautiful while knowing he to be the one to drag the chosen ones to the Underworld.

Satisfied that his friend was all right for the time being, Ichigo stepped back and allowed the door to slide closed with a soft click, tiptoeing down the rest of the hallway as extra insurance that he did not disturb the Hell Hound's slumber until he reached the double door entrance to the main parlor. He shifted through the opening and into the next room, eyes immediately flickering over to the wall of windows at his left even while he continued to walk forward. It was impossible to not look, the intense portrait of nighttime beauty the city's glimmering light spectacular like a lit Christmas tree on the Fourth of July. Ichigo did not like to remember what the city looked like during the day - dim, gray, dingy - not now when he was lucky enough to always experience its after dark magnificence.

He flopped down on the wingback armchair that was usually Grimmjow's seat, casually slouching in the roomy chair and resting one elbow on the arm so that he could cushion his chin comfortably while he took in the view that never got old. It would be twenty more minutes until the blue-haired angel was supposed to return anyway.

And yet Ichigo heard noise coming from the entrance to the penthouse by the elevator a mere two minutes later. There was the ding that signaled someone had stopped on that floor and the faint footsteps of the always inconspicuous manservant moving to greet the new arrival. Thinking he knew who this newcomer was, though eighteen minutes earlier than promised, Ichigo leapt to his feet and started a brisk walk to the foyer which was as much as he could slow his pace down from the full out sprint for which the desire had sprung within him. His morning had been so lonely without his beloved's company...

He was around the corner when he heard it.


The incredibly loud blast was followed by the shattering of glass and dull thump, all of which Ichigo barely registered as he darted around the corner. Instinct was controlling his every motion and it ordered him to instantly find out why a gun had been fired in his own home. That reason was easy to determine when he rounded the corner into the foyer and was met by the sight of a figure of a man he'd rejoiced at thinking was out of his life for eternity.

"Ichigo, it's been too long."

The man who spoke was standing in between the elevator doors, their sensors keeping them completely open. He was wearing jeans and an aviator leather jacket with fur around the collar and the hood, his jet black hair swept back save for two strands on either side, and a mad, confident grin. Oh, and he was also pointing the barrel of a gun right at the orangette, who froze on the spot.

On the marble floor was their loyal, quiet servant lying on his stomach with his head turned to the side, his empty eyes and the blood pooling beneath him on the graphite-colored surface all that was needed to decipher his tragic death. He must have hit the table holding the large vase on the way down as glass and soft blue roses were scattered across the floor in a heartbreaking chaos.

"Don't you look pretty, all classed up by your owner in nice things like some kinda Stepford wife. Hope all of it hasn't gone to your head though, Ichi. You're still nothin' but a whore, ya know."

Ah, Ginjou hadn't changed at all.

Ichigo didn't say anything, unwilling to give the other man that push he needed to shoot the younger and also attempting to use all his concentration on what he could do to possibly disarm the bastard. He lifted his hands palm up and took a few steps forward and to the side, which Ginjou countered, grinning as he was definitely enjoying every last second of this.

"Aw, is Ichi scared?" he mocked, lowering his weapon arm, and Ichigo's heartrate. He put his free hand over his heart and softened his grin to a friendly smile and Ichigo was reminded of the old days when he'd thought the brunette to be a good person before the truth came out. "You can relax, baby, I ain't gonna shoot you. I even promise ya won't get so much as a bruise or scrape if you jus' come with me like a good boy."

"What?" Ichigo blurted before he could stop himself, his hands falling. "You want me back working for you?"

"Hey, you were a... fabulous employee," Ginjou said, guffawing. "But I got a a better offer than your blue knight in shinin' armour gave and I'm nothin' if not a businessman."

"Tch, that's really just too bad, Ginjou, my 'knight in armour' destroyed my contract," Ichigo scoffed, crossing his arms though his body was tensed and ready if he should need to move quickly. "Sorry, but I'm a free man, now, and I'm not going anywhere with you. You'd have to kill me first."

Okay, maybe not a great choice of words but luckily, it seemed that Ginjou intended on taking him away alive to wherever he was trading the boy for a larger sum than Grimmjow had originally paid. The elder shot forward, free hand stretched out to grab the other. Ichigo swiftly leapt back out of the way so Ginjou's arm swung wildly through the air. However, the orange-haired man could not prepare for another attack as his heel slipped on the blood covering the marble floor, sending him crashing down on his back in the puddle of sticky, scarlet liquid.

Wincing and groaning at the pain shooting up his spine, Ichigo barely managed to scramble backwards when Ginjou lunged for him, gun now tucked away so that both his hands could grasp the other's ankles. The orangette kicked and pulled yet the man held on, another manic grin crossing the older male's face as he let go of one leg to reach into his coat pocket. Ichigo growled whilst he continued to get away, his hands helplessly sliding on the slippery floor.

"Well if you won't go nicely, maybe I can entice ya to some 'a this?" Ginjou grunted in part anger and part sarcasm, his hand whipping out so that the light could glint on the small piece of metal jutting out from his fist. Ichigo's eyes widened to the size of saucers as he took in what his former employer held, eyes flashing over the thin silver needle, the clear plastic syringe with numbers labeled on the side, and most of all the muddy brown, clear liquid inside. "C'mon, I know you want some 'a this bad medicine I got right here, don't ya? Come on, Ichi, you walk with me into the elevator and out the building and I'll give you a taste of this sweet, sweet stuff. I know you want it bad."

Ichigo's mind went haywire while his physical body stilled utterly. Staring down the substance that used to make his life worth living, the stuff that kept him going, made him want to get out of bed in the morning... Well, it was maddening. God, it made him feel so good...

Cerulean flashed through his subconscious, blazing blue irises and the memory of strong arms around him and the physical bliss of the night before, it all came rushing back to him like a tsunami, and it was stronger.

Clasping his fingers around a three-inch shard of broken glass, Ichigo slashed it across Ginjou's unsuspecting face. The man howled in pain, clutching the cheek that was now bleeding profusely so that driplets of crimson drizzled down his chin and onto his neck. Ginjou's dark eyes went wide and wild and Ichigo delivered a swift kick to the chest, breaking the man's hold on him and clambering backwards until his back hit the wall and his gut wrenched.

The next thing he knew, Ichigo's forearm was being crushed by a giant hand, his sleeves already somehow pushed up above the elbow and Ginjou's knees pinning his legs to the floor. Dread unlike he'd ever felt swept him up in its cold cloak once Ichigo realized what the brunette was doing, instantly beginning to squirm and struggle his hardest to get away from the man.

"Maybe you think yer actually somethin' more than a pathetic, strung out junkie who'd do anything in a back alley fer just one hit," Ginjou hissed between his teeth, their faces inches away as he held the needle just above the vein in Ichigo's arm. "But yer not! Yer nothin' but a common street whore whose only value is makin' me money. Now stop squirmin' or I'mma give you something much worse to cry about."

Though his body was tiring, Ichigo never let up and continued to desperately pull away from Ginjou and that syringe, knowing both would pull him back under into a world where he'd led a life he would've ended had he the nerve or courage. He couldn't go back, he couldn't. He couldn't lose his new life and friends. He couldn't lose Grimmjow.

The needle nearing the skin and going to pierce through any second now, Ichigo clutched the cross of his rosary like a lifeline and hoped that its protection could in any way help him. He screwed his eyes shut and thought of blue.


A thunderous, animalistic snarl was not the kind of answer he'd expected.

"What the fuck -!" came Ginjou's surprised, furious outcry and Ichigo felt the grip on his arm slacken, causing him to blink open his eyes and nearly shout the same obscenities as the other man.

There, not three feet from where they were against the bottom of the wall, was a massive, growling, snow white wolf. Seriously, the beast had to be the size of a Grizzly bear, if not larger, and equipped with razor sharp teeth and claws, the former of which were bared threateningly at Ginjou. It roared, snapping its powerful jaws at the dark-haired man and making him jump a foot in the air and clamber off of Ichigo, standing to his feet and steadily reaching for his gun.

Barely daring to breathe, Ichigo stayed still and his breath hitched when the wolf turned its head toward him. That was when he saw its eyes, the most peculiar and very familiar gold irises on black sclera, and almost immediately he relaxed, knowing his friend had come to help him. The boom of a gunshot caught both of their attentions, Ginjou standing in front of the white wolf with his still smoking pistol while the bullet he'd fired clattered to the ground as it had been incapable of puncturing the beast's hide.

A slight rasping sound came from the wolf's mouth, like the canine version of a laugh, and then it pounced, knocking Ginjou onto his side and gripping the hood of his jacket with its teeth. Unlike what Ichigo had prepared himself for, the wolf did not tear into the man. He didn't actually injure the man at all, just pulled him along like a chew toy throughout the foyer while Ginjou wriggled and struggled to free himself until they reached the elevator.

"Urgh, let me go, you stupid mongrel!"

Ichigo watched on in amazement as the elevator doors opened automatically with a ding. However, instead of seeing the lavish elevator interior there was the most unbelievable sight, the three walls replaced by a rough stone covered in ancient runes and symbols while the floor had been updated with a deep, dark pit that burned hellish flames around the edges. There was no mistaking where it led.

"No, wait - stop! Stop!"

The wolf descended into the pit tail first, dragging a terrified, panicked Ginjou pleading for his life over the edge. They disappeared with the mortal's final last "No, please! NO!" and the elevator doors closed again, leaving the foyer silent as the grave save for Ichigo's erratic breathing.

Had he really just seen Ginjou get dragged into the Pit - the fire eternal, the Underworld, Hades... Hell?

When the ding sound chimed again, Ichigo's heart jumped into his mouth, not knowing what to expect. Yet the instant he took in a brief glimpse of sea-foam that moved to make way for his beloved blue, relief flooded throughout him. "Grimm," he called, holding a hand against the wall to steady himself as he rose from the bloodstained marble.

"Oh my God!" Nelliel's feminine shriek rang out, the female Fallen clasping a hand over her mouth. "What-... what happened?"

Instead of speaking, Grimmjow blurred with speed as he traveled across the foyer to Ichigo and caught him by the arms. His eyes said everything he felt and thought at that moment, the orangette adept at reading them all, especially since he was experiencing most of it as well. "Tell me everything," he said in his deep, rumbling, and exquisitely comforting voice.

"It was... it was G-Ginjou," Ichigo informed them. "He came here and demanded I go with him. I'm not really sure why, something about an offer. He shot that man before I got here, though. And then we were fighting and I scratched him and he pinned me down and tried... tried to shoot me up with... stuff. But I guess Shiro heard us 'cause he came right in time, but as a big wolf, and he- um, he got rid of Ginjou."

He glanced over at Nelliel, who was alternating staring sadly at the dead man on the floor and Ichigo. "Why was Shirosaki, the Hell Hound, here?" she asked, frowning bemusedly.

"He was hurt last-"

"Long story," Grimmjow cut Ichigo off, his cornflower blue eyes searching every place on the youth's body that was visible, scowling heavily at the bruise forming around the right forearm where Ginjou had held it still with the means to inject the syringe into it. "I'll summon Octava. Nel, get the supplies."

"No!" Ichigo protested, rifling through his brain for his mental file on the pink-haired Fallen whom he'd spoken with about his health that one time. "No, I'm fine. Really. This is all... his blood."

Grimmjow was certainly about to protest but Nelliel spoke first, stepping over the pools of blood in her five-inch Mary Jane stilettos. "Not to mention, Grimmy darling, he most likely won't care to travel all this way for a bruise and scrape or two after he's found his Consort," she reasoned. "And don't forget you told me on the way back from Tercera's you planned to take Ichigo out to dinner like a real date."

"Nel, this isn't the time to-,"

"Ah ah ah, I think it is exactly the time for you two to have a little romantic evening," Nelliel cut her ward off yet again. "I'll take care of things here, including giving this poor man a proper burial, and you two go relax and at least try to forget everything for a little while."

"Yes," Ichigo agreed wholeheartedly before Grimmjow could protest despite still being shaky from the recent ordeal, sliding his hands up the other's strong arms and speaking softly in what he knew was an enticing voice. "Yes, let's finally have some time to ourselves, even if it's only for a little while."

A bit of normalcy was seriously just what he wanted after all of the immortal insanity he'd had to deal with in recent events.

"Ichigo, I-"

"Please?" Ichigo simpered coquettishly, pulling out the big guns and tilting his chin up, jutting out his lower lip, and widening his eyes. It was a piece of cake.

The 'Look' never failed.

Thirty minutes later found Ichigo and Grimmjow in the back of his town car, though this time they were headed for a completely different part of the city than where Sexta was located. Thank goodness Nelliel had bought backups for everything and he was able to wear the same outfit he thought divine even when the original was blood stained and ripped. Secretly, mortal was a little excited to be visiting the trendy, rich district as he'd never quite been allowed access to any of the establishments there due to his affiliations with less than reputable characters and obvious physical signs of being an addict.

Grimmjow had been even more silent than his usual 'strong but silent' demeanor the entire car ride from the apartment building and Ichigo knew it had to be due to just more than what had happened with Ginjou, though that was probably the main reason. Of course, he continued to be in the dark about what was going on in the immortal world but Ichigo was determined to get his love to loosen up a little and spend a tiny bit of romantic time with him.

Heavens, he might say Grimmjow was even more addictive than heroin. He needed him like air and water and light. He was an essential. He was life itself.

"Something on your mind?" Ichigo asked, intertwining his fingers with the blunette's. The question was obvious but it was the single way he could think of to start a conversation. "You've been practically silent this whole time."

"Just thinking, sweetheart," Grimmjow answered, a small smirk touching his lips and making the orangette's heart do backflips. "Mostly about you though, so do not worry."

"Oh, really?" Ichigo gave the other a sultry smile, sidling up closer to the Fallen's side. "What kinds of things are you thinking about me?"

Grimmjow's short-lived playfulness dissipated, one of his hands coming up to cup the back of Ichigo's neck and his fingers twining around the stray locks of hair there - a gesture that earned a purring moan from the younger. "The penthouse isn't safe anymore, we saw that today," Grimmjow said. "I want to keep you safe, Ichi, whatever it takes. But I can't always be by your side, no matter how much I want to."

"What are you getting at, exactly?" Ichigo quirked a brow and yet a warmth spread throughout his chest at the concern the other had for him.

"I think it might be prudent for you to have someone with you at all times, especially when I'm not there."

"You mean a bodyguard," Ichigo deadpanned, not liking the idea one bit.

"It's a temporary solution, sweetheart," Grimmjow consoled, brushing a few locks of tangerine hair away from Ichigo's wrinkled brow. "It would make me feel a lot better. Plus, I think we already have the perfect man, or mutt, for the job."

"Do you mean Shiro?" the orange-haired boy questioned incredulously, unable to match up the licentious, lascivious, Cheshire Cat-like Hell Hound with his image of a silent, capable Secret Serviceman.

"I know he doesn't seem the type but you saw him today. He protected you when I couldn't. I've known Shiro for... a long time, he likes you more than any human I've ever seen. He'd defend you with his immortal life," Grimmjow said, sighing and rubbing the pad of his thumb over the back of Ichigo's hand. "Besides, you two are friends so it won't be torture to spend time together when I'm not around."


"Please do this for me, Ichigo," Grimmjow implored, very unfairly staring deep into Ichigo's eyes and surely hypnotizing him with some sort of angelic spell.

"...Fine, I guess- "

He was pleasantly interrupted by the blue-haired male's warm, soft, full lips capturing his own, caressing them ardently and nipping at the lower one until a tiny droplet of blood pooled to the surface and Grimmjow laved his tongue over his. Ichigo tilted his head to the side and parted his lips so that wicked tongue could delve even further, massaging and furling around his own pink muscle and savoring his taste. Grimmjow's flavor was amazingly intoxicating, like a mix of chocolate and whiskey and something else indescribable but equally delicious.

Ichigo had only slid his knee over onto the other's lap when the car stopped, the driver's voice coming over the intercom to announce they had arrived at their location. They both gave small growls of frustration at being interrupted. Nevertheless, Ichigo slipped off of Grimmjow right as the driver opened the door and the latter began to climb out, reaching back to clasp their hands together.

A somewhat embarrassing flush heated the youth's face while he followed his lover out of the car and across the sidewalk where the restaurant they were eating had both its doors open to accommodate the large crowd waiting for tables or attempting to get one. Having never had a steady boyfriend, public displays of affection with someone he genuinely liked (or loved in this case) was brand new to him.

The crowd parted for them so they could walk right up to the hostess stand, something that Ichigo had to chalk up to Grimmjow's incredibly commanding presence. However, this was not without his love's fair share of starry-eyed gazes from the young women lined up alongside them and though he'd never been catty, he couldn't help but want to push them all in front of moving traffic.

"Table for Jaegerjaques," Grimmjow said to the visibly stunned hostess whom after a few seconds had to shake her head and look down at her seating chart, locating the name and grabbing two menus from underneath in one of the open slots behind the stand.

"Ahem, right this way," she said, her voice shaking a tad at the beginning. Ichigo couldn't blame her though, Grimmjow did have a way of entrancing people just with his looks alone which did make the orangette a bit jealous since in the whole of his young life he'd only succeeded at attracting a few girls but many, many men. Maybe he should start working out...

The restauraunt Grimmjow had picked out definitely scored major points on both class and trendiness, the crowd young and hip but from money and the decor exactly what Ichigo liked in a place - full of warm, rich russet and mahogany tones with dark golden lighting and comfortable booths (perfect for sitting extra close to dates.) The booth they were seated at was the best in the house, in Ichigo's humble opinion, privately situated in the far back corner so that they could look over the rest of the restaurant but no one could really see them.

Sitting opposite each other with he facing the view of the place, the hostess set down their menus and almost tripped over her own feet walking away. Ichigo shook his head, smiling softly.

"What is it?" Grimmjow asked, a grin of his own appearing to match.

"Oh I'm just thinking about how it's possible you know so much about... well, everything, and yet you're completely oblivious to how you affect people just by being yourself. It's kind of insane," Ichigo answered, rubbing the back of his neck and looking down at the menu to see that the place served Spanish-style tapas. Furthermore, how had Grimmjow known he'd always wanted to try it?

"What's insane is how I could say the same about you," Grimmjow said, chuckling under his breath. When Ichigo went to respond, he was thwarted by a male voice announcing himself beside their table.

"Good Evening, my name's Shuuhei and I'll be your server tonight. Can I start you off with some drinks?" the waiter said, dressed in a typical get-up of a white shirt, black tie, pants, and waist apron. What were not so typical were the facial tattoos he had, one bold enough as to be the number '69' on his left cheek.

"We'll have a bottle of your best Cabernet Sauvignon," Grimmjow answered, not giving the server so much as a glance.

"Of course, sir. Anything else?"

"Yeah, I'll have a Coke," Ichigo said, flashing a polite smile up at the tattooed waiter.

"I'll be right back with those," the young man said, bowing slightly before whisking away to fulfill their orders.

"I didn't know you liked Coke," Grimmjow said the moment the server was out of earshot, one blue brow arched. Ichigo shrugged, fiddling with the end of his menu.

"I haven't had it in a while, but I just can't stand wine - especially red. People say it's an acquired taste, I know, but really I think that means it tastes awful and you just get used to it."

Grimmjow laughed softly, his laughter rumbling in his chest in a primal, masculine way that gets the heart racing in a delightful way. "I have to disagree. I've been drinking wine for centuries and it's only gotten better. I suppose that's why I can't stand the taste of soda. It's too foreign to me."

Ichigo flushed again, keeping his gaze on the table. "To each their own I guess," he mumbled, chewing on his bottom lip. He sometimes forgot Grimmjow had walked this earth for almost two millenia. "You haven't told me very much about your life here after you... um, Fell. Have you always lived here?"

"My life's not that interesting, I assure you," the blunette said. "I've lived all over the world, yes, but I haven't ever done anything extraordinary."

"But where did you live? What countries?" Ichigo questioned rapidly, dying to know what kind of rich immortal life he could look forward to come two weeks from now. He was now leaning over the table, his body language screaming eager.

"You really want to know?" Grimmjow said, receiving an enthusiastic nod in response. "Mm, I started out in Europe, of course, since I fell in Menai, but the Dark Ages drove me down to the Middle East and Asia. I lived in Japan during the Nara period and learned the way of the Samurai. I became obsessed with the skill and mindset of martial arts, which led me to live with the Northern Shaolin Monks for a while.

"When the Turks began invading Eastern Europe I followed them into Romania, where I lived in the Carpathians for about a century give or take a decade - learned the art of swordplay there, too. I'll take you there someday soon," Grimmjow managed to say before the waiter came back with their drinks, placing the Coca-Cola in front of Ichigo and then uncorking the wine bottle. He poured a mouthful's worth of wine for the blue-haired Fallen to sniff and taste the wine, which earned an eye roll from his date, and deemed it acceptable.

Sipping some of his Coke down, Ichigo gestured for the other to go on. "And then? Did you go further into Europe? Or South America? Or-"

"Yes, sweetheart, let me finish," Grimmjow said teasingly, pouring back some of his wine. "After Romania, I traveled further West from the Renaissance to the Victorian ages- Prague, Rome, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris - had to live through that bloody revolution - , London, Vienna. Then I decided to explore the New World."

"You mean America?"

"Yes, the cities at the time I was there around the turn of the century were dirty and overpopulated so I went westward yet again and that... that was something, kid. The land was still alive there," Grimmjow paused to sip his wine again and his gaze drifted off as if remembering something fondly. "I still have a cabin there in Montana that I'll bring you to after you become immortal."

"Really?" Ichigo asked like a small child, in awe of such a promise. To see the world - it'd always been his dream.

"How else better to spend your first few months as an immortal?"

"Few months? Wait, how many properties do you have?"

Grimmjow set his wine glass down and scrubbed his chin. "There's the penthouse here, the cabin in Montana, the castle in the Carpathians, the townhouse in London - and New York. Ah, and the beach house on an island off the coast of Rio," he said, appearing to enjoy the look of wonder Ichigo was sure was plain as day on his face. "Where do you want to go first?"

"The beach house," the orangette answered without a moment's hesitation.

"Done. The day after you're turned, we'll go to Rio and then the beach house. Good choice, too, that's where I learned capoeira."

The waiter returned to take their food orders, which Grimmjow promptly turned into one of everything because Ichigo couldn't decide. It was almost too easy for their dinner to turn into a date that regular, mortal, well-adjusted couples can have whenever they want. The whole time they ate they never once spoke of their immortal troubles, not once from when the appetizers arrived to when Ichigo had swallowed the last bite of dessert.

It was one of the best nights of Ichigo's life.

It was also a mere brief interlude into the chaotic turn his life would soon take.

A/N: Ooh, go Shiro! I definitely decided to give him a bigger role in this story since he seems to be everyone's favorite character. Don't worry, he'll be back next chappie and definitely sticking around as Ichi's bodyguard.

Hope you all enjoyed!