Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not Grimm-kitten, nor Ichi-Berry, not even...! Aa, nearly went and spoiled it there~ Naughty.

.:The Parent Trap:.

Part Two

The piercing drill of the doorbell sounding shot through Ichigo like a wayward bullet, causing his breath to catch in his throat and his pulse to skip a beat. The hazy, alluring trance Grimmjow had so easily drowned him in suddenly shattered, his mind snapping back into focus with such clarity it made him dizzy. Fuck, what had he been about to do? Was his resolve honestly that frail that he was about to just lay back and give in to the blunette without so much as even a fight?

Damn, he really was pathetic.

Wrenching himself away from Grimmjow's fierce embrace and into a more tolerable proximity, he glared up at the older man. "You need to go. Right now."

Grimmjow growled, snatching up the younger's wrist to haul him forward again. Shit, just a few seconds more and Ichigo would have been his! That kiss, although chockfull of familiar warmth and a taste he couldn't ever hope to forget, was too damn brief. He'd been so tantalisingly close, after eleven gruelling months of pining for the one he'd lost, of worrying that he would someday forget what those rose petal lips felt like sliding against his own, he finally had his Berry back in arms – and some stupid fucker just had to go and blow it all to shit, had to ruin what would have surely been the single most gratifying experience of his life. If he wasn't otherwise preoccupied with reclaiming what was rightfully his own, he would have long since stormed out and ripped their unwelcome guest's head clean off their shoulders.

"We have unfinished business here, Berry. Go tell your 'date' to take a fuckin' hike."

"Like hell I will!" Ichigo retorted icily, snatching his wrist back. "We have nothing to discuss here, Grimmjow. And stop calling me 'Berry', dammit!"

Cerulean and ochre snapped to the door when the bell went off again, twice this time as the man on the other side obviously became impatient of waiting. Looking anxiously to the blunette, Ichigo started ushering him towards the kitchen, Grimmjow resisting every step of the way and Ichigo colourfully cursing him out for it.

"Will ya quit fuckin' shovin' me?" Grimmjow groused, really digging his feet in to stop them dead in their tracks. "I've got legs, I can fuckin' walk ya know!"

"Then hurry up and leave!" Ichigo sniped, giving one last hearty shove to the older man's back. "Sneak out the back – that way I don't have to worry about explaining anything. Or you scaring him off," he mumbled as an afterthought.

Scoffing derisively, Grimmjow folded his arms across his chest and turned to face the younger, making it quite evident that he had absolute no intentions of leaving. "I'm not goin' anywhere 'til I see Nels."

A loud wrapping at the door this time had Ichigo smacking his forehead in frustration. Fuck his life sideways – why did Grimmjow have to make every single thing so damn difficult?

"Ya better answer the door there, Ichigo, before your date busts it down," Grimmjow sneered, his voice laced with dark tones as his eyes narrowed. "Unless ya want me to get it for ya, hn?"

Grinning cruelly, Grimmjow stepped past the agitated redhead, heading straight for the front door. It didn't take long for Ichigo to retaliate however, bounding forward to block Grimmjow's path, arms held out at his sides as if that would be enough to hinder the blunette from his goal.

"Don't you dare," he growled menacingly, his ochre eyes flashing a threatening shade of gold. "If you wanna see Nel before you leave, then fine. But be quick. Kaien can wait in the living room until you're gone."

A mighty wave of rabid resentment cascaded over Grimmjow then, his nostrils flaring as he glowered at the solid wooden frame of the front door. "Kaien, ey? So that's his name…"

Fighting back the borderline innate impulse to try and soothe the visibly upset blunette, Ichigo composed himself enough to nod pointedly toward the staircase. "Please don't fight me on this, Grimm. Just go."

With a guttural snarl worthy of the powerful jungle cat Ichigo had always compared him to, Grimmjow merely tched, rolling his shoulders as he started ascending the stairs. Ichigo watched him go, his heart torn between the want to console his ex-lover, and the urge to just throw him out on his ass before he messed up everything he'd worked so diligently to achieve.

He kept his gaze firmly fixated on Grimmjow until he turned the corner at the crest of the stairs, breathing out a weary sigh when he disappeared from view. As he turned to the door, he couldn't help but think how his life would be if things had turned out a little differently, how it would be if he and Grimmjow had been able to work through the vast ridge of discrepancies in their relationship.

Hn. If only life were that simple…

Not bothering to knock, Grimmjow simply strolled straight into Nelliel's room, snorting when he found her huddled up under her duvet as she feigned sleep. Sitting himself down on the edge of the single bed, he gave her shoulder a gentle shake.

"C'mon, kid, I ain't that stupid. I know you're not asleep."

Rolling his eyes when he received a forged snore in response, his gaze then fell to the little stuffed lion nestled up by the girl's pillow. Grinning, he reached out and picked it up, fond memories of their day out to last years annual carnival floating to the forefront of his mind. God, she'd been so damn happy when he won it for her, her wheaten eyes lighting up like the fucking fourth of July.

A feral smirk touched his lips as he tossed the toy back and forth between his hands. "Well, I guess if Nels really is asleep, she won't mind if borrow her favourite toy…" Glancing at the mess of sea-foam green hair he could see peeking out above the covers, he bit back a mirthful chuckle when he witnessed the child tense. "Hn, what to do with it, though… Oh, I know! I'll use it to wash the car, or maybe to prop the door open when it's too hot. That big ol' squishy head will make an excellent doorstop…"

"Noooo! You can't take Kon away!"

Grimmjow could only laugh when Nelliel launched herself from under the duvet, animatedly snatching the lion plushie from his hands and crushing it to her chest as she glared at him, her lips curling down in an all too adorable pout.

"Relax, brat," Grimmjow said, playfully ruffling her hair. "I ain't gonna take your stupid doll. I just wanted to talk to ya."

Nelliel swallowed, knowing exactly where this particular conversation was headed. "I'm sorry I lied, Grimm-Pa!" she started, figuring the sooner she started begging forgiveness, the better. "But I really was scared when I called! Daddy was gettin' ready for his date, and I knew I had to do something!"

Grimmjow frowned, brushing a hand through his unruly locks. "So ya knew Ichigo was goin' on a date tonight, huh?" Nelliel nodded sheepishly, to which Grimmjow sighed, massaging the bridge of his nose. "Dammit, Nelly. D'ya have any idea just how worried I was? I thought he was in trouble, in pain. That was a seriously dumb stunt ya pulled, ya troublesome pest."

"I know," Nelliel whimpered, looking up at the angry blunette through thick lashes. "But ya don't understand, Itsy-Pa really is in trouble! I heard him when he was getting ready earlier, he was sayin' stuff like 'I can do this', and 'I can take our relationship to the next level, it's no big deal'." Nelliel watched as Grimmjow sucked in a sharp breath, his brow furrowing as his hands balled into fists on his knees. "See? I told you it was an emergency!"

Emergency? he thought bitterly. Try goddamn fuckin' disaster!

"Okay, first things first – how in the hell do you know what 'the next level' means?"

Nelliel gave a haughty scoff. "Duuuuh~ I watch lots'a TV, Grimmy, 'course I know what it means!"

Grimmjow grimaced. "Yeah, am definitely tellin' Berry to make you go outside more – or get parental locks put on the box, at least." Nelliel whined, but knew it was pointless to argue with the more pig-headed of her two parents. She couldn't manipulate him the same way in which she could her father, something Grimmjow used to his advantage, and often. "Secondly, I know you're upset that your dad's datin' again – fuck knows I didn't take it too well – but it ain't our place to meddle."

"But, Grimm-Pa–"

"No. No 'buts', Apple," Grimmjow interrupted, his voice heavy with parental censure. "Ya put me in a really awkward position tonight. D'ya think it's easy for me to see Ichigo with someone else? There's nothin' I want more than to come back home, but we're both just gonna have to live with the fact that it isn't ever goin' to happen. I'm sorry, Nels. Sorry that I can't be here for ya, that I can't stop Ichigo from movin' on without me." Shrugging rather helplessly, he gathered the small girl into his lap, wrapping his arms around her in a tight embrace. "There's simply nothin' I can do."

Nelliel tucked her head underneath Grimmjow's chin, her tiny hands balling up in his thermal as hot tears of failure gathered in her eyes, making her vision swim. "B-But you belong here," she stuttered, burying her face into the blunette's solid chest. "You and Itsy-Pa belong together…"

Hugging the sobbing child even closer, Grimmjow pressed a soft kiss to the crown of her head. "Yeah, I thought so to."

"I love you, Grimm. Ya'll always be my daddy."

"Thanks, Nels," Grimmjow smiled, nuzzling his face into her hair. "Y'know, for a spoiled brat, you're not so bad…" Chuckling when the small girl gave a feeble punch to his pectoral, he smoothed a hand through her hair in apology, rocking her gently back and forth to calm her mournful whimpering. "I love ya too, Nel, an' that won't ever change."

Drawing back to look up at the older man, Nelliel sniffled, using her arm to wipe away her tears. "Ya promise?"

Grimmjow's answer was swift and absolute; "On my heart an' soul."

Ichigo was pacing back and forth at the bottom of the stairs when Grimmjow eventually reappeared, wringing his hands in a nervous fashion as he watched him casually make his way down to him. He knew that as soon as he left he would finally be able to relax, that he could take a deep, cleansing breath and pretend like he'd never been there to begin with.

Grimmjow was about halfway down when he jammed a thumb over his shoulder. "Brat's askin' for ya."

Flicking his gaze from the stairs to the living room, and then back again, Ichigo tracked a hand through his luminous spikes. "I presume it would be asking too much for you to leave without taking a detour?" Grimmjow let a malicious smirk speak volumes as to his answer, and Ichigo scowled, meeting him at the bottom step to poke forebodingly at his chest. "Behave, Grimmjow, or I swear to God I'll castrate you with my bare hands…"

"Ooh, kinky," Grimmjow purred, biting back a bark of laughter when Ichigo sputtered and blushed a furious crimson before storming off upstairs.

He waited until he heard the soft murmuring of voices before he ventured toward the living room. Gripping the door handle, he took a moment to compose his wildly fluctuating emotions, forging a badly disguised façade of neutral before pushing it open and stepping inside. His eyes immediately went to the head of spiky, raven black hair, his eyes narrowing imperceptibly when a fairly youthful face turned expectantly toward him, pools of aqua green casting over him in confusion.

When the man stood, Grimmjow was shocked to find he was almost as tall as himself, a centimetre or two separating them in both height and build. Grimmjow inwardly cursed – the guy was actually pretty decent looking, dressed in a pair of black slacks and a navy shirt, his hair messy in appearance but having obviously been styled that way. Dammit, why couldn't he have been unattractive? Would have made hating the son-of-a-bitch a whole lot fucking easier.

"Uh, Grimmjow, right?" the man implored, his voice a pleasant tenor as he offered his hand out to him.

Grimmjow clasped the proffered appendage, gripping harder than was absolutely necessary. Don't start. He's facing off with another evident Alpha, his authority and strength have to be conveyed right from the get-go.

"That's right," Grimmjow replied, trying his best to keep the growling edge from his tone as the other male returned his fierce handshake ounce-for-ounce. "An' you're Kevin, yeah?"

A petty smile devoid of any humour whatsoever tugged at the corners of the man's mouth. "It's Kaien, actually. But close."

Realising that their physical contact had gone on for much too long to be considered in any way amicable, both men let go simultaneously, wordlessly declaring their little stand-off as a draw. Kaien pushed his hands deep into his pockets, taking a stance of casual indifference and aloofness, whilst Grimmjow fluidly crossed his arms, biceps bulging and chest puffing out in a clear sign of aggravation, of insecurity at having his 'turf' trodden on by another.

Kaien, sensing the man's unease, gestured to the couch. "Why don't we sit down, chat a bit whilst Ichi finishes up?"

Grimmjow immediately raised his hackles at the oh so frivolous use of his Berry's nickname, his eyes sparking with contemptuous venom. "Don't you dare call him that," he seethed, teeth bared in warning. "What gives ya the fuckin' right to call him that, huh? Ya think just because ya were lucky enough to get a second glance that you can go gettin' all chummy with him? Che. Ya gotta earn that shit, asshole."

Kaien blinked, taken aback by the sudden and highly unjust onslaught. "Look, I don't know what Ichigo has told you, but it's not like this is our first date. We've been seeing each other for two, goin' on three weeks now."

Grimmjow could only frown. From what Nelliel had told him, he'd already gathered that Ichigo and this man had seen each other before – but three weeks? Shit. That was something else entirely. That was real relationship material right fucking there.

And the mere thought made him sick to his fucking stomach.

"I couldn't give a rat's ass whether ya've been seein' him one week or a fuckin' hundred, it don't change a goddamn thing," Grimmjow snarled, taking an ominous step forward. "Listen here, ya punk-ass–"

"No, you listen, Grimmjow," Kaien started, cutting Grimmjow short as he took an equal step toward him. "Ichigo hasn't told me much about you, and anything he has told me I practically had to drag kicking and screaming out'a him, but I know enough."

"You don't know jack shit about me," Grimmjow spat, his fingers itching to take a swipe at that handsomely smug face.

"Oh no?" Kaien retorted, not in the least bit phased by the palpable fury rolling off of the blunette. "I know that you had your chance, and that you blew it. I know that the scars you left on that boy made him a physical wreck. It took weeks of asking, damn near months of wooing and rejection, before he finally opened up enough to let me in. You broke him, Grimmjow, almost beyond repair, but I never abandoned him. I knew that he was hurting, that he wanted to just curl up and blot out the rest of the world for the rest of his days – but I stuck by him, helped him to see that there are others out there willing and able to care for him, if he'd only let them."

Sighing, the raven haired male took a tentative step back, taking their confrontation down a notch and giving the blunette room to vent. "He loved you, and probably still does, but the question here is; do you love him enough to do what's right by him? Can you be man enough to just let him go so that he can live his life and have a chance at being happy again?"

The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs interrupted Grimmjow's thought process before he could reply, accompanied shortly thereafter by Ichigo suddenly entering the room, who scrutinised the situation with wary eyes. "Um…is everything okay in here?"

Kaien looked keenly to Grimmjow, letting the blue haired male take the reins on that particular question, blindly hoping that his words had gotten through and that he would make the right decision.

The silence truly was deafening, Ichigo glancing worriedly between the two older male's as they stared at one another, almost as if daring the other to make the first move. His heart thumped hard against his ribs when the awful, stagnant atmosphere was finally breeched by a low baritone.

"Everything's fine, Ber–uh, Ichigo," Grimmjow said at long last, his jaw still clenched and his body coiled uncomfortably. "In fact, me an' Kevin here–"

"Kaien," the raven head mordantly interjected.

"Tch, whatever," Grimmjow retorted, his tone uncaring. "We've been talkin' an'…well, I decided that am gonna sit in with Nels tonight, give you two the chance to have a proper night out."

Kaien's face broke out in a genuine smile of appreciation, whereas Ichigo just looked utterly dumbfounded. "Wh-What? Grimmjow, you don't have to do that…"

Swallowing back the bile rising in his throat, Grimmjow forced himself to continue. "S'okay, I want to do it. This way I get to spend some time with the demon sprog, an' you can relax knowin' she's in safe hands. Stay out as long as ya like, I'll wait for ya."

Kaien, all too eager to accept the greatly unexpected chivalry, clapped the blunette square on the shoulder. Choosing to ignore the animalistic growl reverberating deep within the man's throat at the action, he gave him a wide, grateful grin, before making his way over to the bewildered redhead.

Grimmjow grit his teeth when the raven haired male draped a long arm across narrow shoulders, hugging Ichigo close to his side as he nodded toward the front door. "Well, now that that's all settled, what say we get goin'? We have reservations to make in fifteen minutes."

"Y-Yeah, okay." Casting another troubled glance at the blunette as he was led away, Ichigo forced a smile. "Thank you, Grimm. Uh, you have my number if anything comes up, and make sure Apple is in bed by nine-thirty…there's leftovers in the fridge if either of you get hungry, oh and don't give Nel any soda or she'll be up all night, and–"

"Christ, shut the fuck up an' get out already, Ichigo!" Grimmjow snapped, stopping the younger male mid-rant. "Damn, ya'd think I never looked after the fuckin' kid before…"

"Yeah, I think he's got it covered," Kaien chimed in, handing Ichigo his jacket from the rack by the door. "C'mon, Ichi. We're gonna be late."

Nodding dumbly, Ichigo donned his jacket, letting Kaien usher him out the door. "We shouldn't be too long."

Grimmjow inclined his head, not trusting himself to say a damn word to the retreating couple. He could only watch with a heavy heart as Ichigo stumbled over the threshold, as Kaien gave a curt wave, and then finally as the door clicked closed behind them.

Really, he should be giving himself a giant pat on the back for letting his Berry go like he did, for not losing his cool and tearing the competition limb from fucking limb, like he so desperately wanted to do. He'd actually done some good for once, was giving Ichigo a real fighting chance with someone who, he supposed, wasn't all that bad…

…So then why did it feel like he was making the biggest mistake of his entire life? Why did he feel so completely shattered and fucking wretched?

Shaking all thought from his head, he swiftly about turned and made his way upstairs, to the little girl he would always call his own and to a love he knew would never leave him for another.

It was 10:44PM by the time Ichigo set foot back into his home. With a heavy sigh he closed the door behind him, leaning his back against the wooden surface as he let his eyes slip closed. Against his better judgement, and indeed his sanity, he'd broken things off with Kaien. After the sudden reappearance of Grimmjow, he found he just couldn't concentrate on anything else. That was the problem with domineering blunette, once he made his existence known within your life there was no getting rid of him again. He was like a whirlwind of destruction, churning up everything you thought you ever knew and turning your whole world on its head so that you forgot which way was up. As such, dinner had been a shambles. He hadn't been able to give Kaien the time of day, the attention and devotion he deserved. Who knows, maybe if Grimmjow hadn't quite literally barged his way back into his life and home, then maybe things could have worked out between them. Maybe they would have taken their relationship to the next level and, a few months down the line, moved in together, started a whole new life filled with new memories and faces and experiences…

Ichigo could only shake his head. Guess he never would find out now, and he certainly wasn't about to waste his energy on fruitless 'what if's'.

Rubbing a hand wearily over his face, he shrugged out of his coat, hanging it up by the door before heading toward the living room where he could hear the low hum of chatter indicative of the television being on. Upon entering, his eyes were first drawn to the flat screen in the corner, an old black and white Western playing with the volume down low. A soft snore then had him redirecting his focus to the three-man brown leather couch to his right, a warm smile curling his lips upwards at the sight that greeted him. Grimmjow and Nelliel were both out for the count, his little Apple curled up on the blunette's chest, the older male sprawled out on his back and covering the entire length of the seat with his long body. Nelliel was suckling on her thumb, signalling that she was well and truly out cold, whereas Grimmjow had his right arm thrown over his eyes and his left wrapped protectively around the small girl's body, preventing her from rolling off of him and onto the polished wooden floor.

Quietly making his way over to the slumbering pair, Ichigo hunched down beside the couch. Reaching out, he gently trailed his fingers through his daughter's long hair, his smile widening a notch when the action elicited a soft, purr-like sound from the sleeping child. Letting her be in case he accidentally disturbed her, he then turned his attention to the dozing blunette.

For the longest moment he could only stare, his ochre eyes drinking in every hard line and rugged detail not otherwise concealed by the man's thickly muscled arm. A teasing amount of sun kissed chest was on display thanks to the loose collared thermal, the buttoned 'V' undone so that about an inch below collarbone was visible. Ichigo could still remember, and quite vividly at that, just how much the older male loved him nibbling and sucking on his collarbone, how his strong fingers would tangle themselves in his hair and he'd hiss and groan in encouragement.

Swallowing thickly, he forced his gaze further north, his suddenly ravenous orbs devouring the sight of a solid, corded neck he'd once loved to nip and mark, a protruding Adam's apple he used to flatten his tongue against on the rare occasion the blunette exposed his throat, up to a square jaw darkened with at least two days worth of stubble, and then finally, because the rest was covered from view, his eyes settled on the man's head full of thick, electric teal locks. Oh how he had loved to track his fingers through those unruly spikes, to give a harsh tug on the smooth as silk strands just because he knew it drove Grimmjow wild, or, when they were feeling a little more lazy and lethargic, he would rub the pads of his fingers over his scalp and listen to the appreciative rumble he got in response, letting it wash over him and soothe his very soul.

The indescribable urge to just reach out and trail his hand through those beautiful strands hit Ichigo hard, and, before he could even think to stop himself, he hesitantly raised his right hand. Grimmjow stirred, mumbling something incoherent and shifting his weight slightly, causing Ichigo's pulse to race and his hand to pause in mid-action. When the slumbering man simply settled back again, Ichigo let a sigh of relief pass silently through his lips and, after a moment to gather up his scattered courage, resumed his mission. It felt so surreal, getting so worked up and jittery about something he used to do without even thinking about it first. But then, things were different now. Grimmjow wasn't his lover anymore, wasn't his to touch affectionately or reach out to when he felt so incredibly alone in the middle of the night. In reality, he had no right to touch the man whatsoever, not after it was him who broke it off, who denied not only himself, but also the violently reluctant blunette, the chance to ever feel the comforting presence of the other. He was the one who condemned them to a life without one another – and right now, he hated himself for it.

Drawing in a deep breath through his nose to calm his nerves and steady his trembling fingers, he quietly laid his hand on the bright tresses near the man's temple. With a soft exhale, he tenderly ran his hand back, letting his fingers sink into the blue strands. A small smile quirked his lips. They were as soft as he ever remembered, even through the wax that was beginning to harden near the ends.

Bringing his hand back to repeat the process, a startled yelp was torn from his gut when the blunette's right hand, the one that had been resting over his eyes, suddenly shot out to seize his wrist. With blood roaring in his ears at the embarrassment of being caught, Ichigo could only stare, gobsmacked, when Grimmjow's fingers sought out and intertwined with his own before tilting his head slightly to press a tender kiss to his wrist.

A breathy gasp rushed from Ichigo's lungs before he could stop it, and, as if he'd just been burned, he abruptly tore his hand away. Cradling his wrist in his hand, he found himself gazing into pools of unfathomable, crystallised blue, his heart fluttering sporadically against his ribs as the blunette grinned, showing off a sliver of those sharp, pearly white teeth.

"S-Sorry," he mumbled, averting his eyes as heat rushed into his cheeks. He wasn't even sure what he was apologising for, only that it felt appropriate to do so.

Grimmjow snorted, smirking for all his worth when he caught sight of that adorable blush. "No need to apologise, Ichigo. I know am irresistible."

Ichigo sighed as, just like that, the moment of innocent serenity was obliterated. "Don't forget narcissistic," he muttered as he rose to his feet.

Groaning, Grimmjow decided to ignore the jibe, scrubbing a hand tiredly down his face instead. "Time is it?"

"About quarter to eleven," Ichigo answered.

Grimmjow frowned at that. "That all? S'kinda early to be home, isn't it?"

Shuffling awkwardly from foot to foot, Ichigo tried his best to look nonchalant. "I, uh, broke things off with Kaien…"

"Eh? The fuck did'ja do that for?"

"Things just weren't going to work out between us, and I couldn't…couldn't uhh…never mind! It's complicated, alright?" Needing a change of topic, and fast, Ichigo glanced at his still sleeping daughter, giving the rousing older male a pointed look. "I thought I asked you to make sure she was in bed by nine-thirty?"

Rubbing his fingers over his bleary eyes, Grimmjow allowed the previous subject to drop, at least for the time being. "Yeah, well, I was gonna throw her upstairs when ya told me, but then she started harpin' on and on about some cowboy film she wanted to watch. I told her no, that you'd given a specific bed time, an' then she went an' brought the big guns out, gave me 'The Look'." Carefully shifting himself so that he was propped up on his elbows, he smiled down adoringly at the mess of green hair splayed out across his torso. "What can'a say? I fell hook, line an' fuckin' sinker." Flicking his gaze to Ichigo, he smirked. "Heh. D'ya have any idea just how much she looks like you when she does that stupid lil' pout? S'kinda scary."

"I do not pout," Ichigo grumbled, rolling his eyes at Grimmjow's answering scoff as he stooped down, reaching out for the slumbering child. "If she's grumpy in the morning, I'm blaming you."

"'Course y'are," Grimmjow drawled, batting Ichigo's arms away as he sat up and curled the girl into his own. "Back it up, Ichi. I got 'er."

Letting the nickname slide for now, Ichigo did as he was told, giving Grimmjow room enough to stand up. Nelliel scrunched her nose up in protest as she was carefully transferred from midsection to shoulder, her little arms instinctively winding around Grimmjow's neck as her head nuzzled in close to his neck. Other than that, she didn't stir. Grimmjow couldn't help but grin, his left arm curled under her backside for support as his right hand pressed between her shoulder blades, keeping her close.

Ichigo followed quietly behind as Grimmjow lead the way up to Nelliel's room, watching from the doorframe as the older male gently laid her down and tucked her in, kissing her forehead lightly before straightening himself back up. Ichigo then took his turn, pressing a soft kiss in the young girl's hair and whispering good night before he joined Grimmjow at the door.

For a pregnant moment they both just stood there, watching over Nelliel as she lost herself in the world of dreams. It wasn't until he felt an arm drape over his shoulders that Ichigo snapped back to reality, flicking his gaze to the blunette who was apparently still lost in thought, the contact he'd initiated obviously a subconscious act.

When Ichigo cleared his throat and awkwardly twisted himself out of the hold, Grimmjow suddenly realised what he'd done. Raising his hands in what he hoped to be a placating manner, he gave his wary former lover some room. "Sorry. Really. Just…force of habit, I guess."

Ichigo gave a nod, taking the apology as genuine. "Y-Yeah, of course. Uh, why don't we move downstairs? We might wake Nels standing around here."

Being closest, Grimmjow gently closed Nelliel's door before sweeping an arm out, silently gesturing for Ichigo to take the lead. Nodding, Ichigo did as instructed, taking the stairs at a much slower rate than he normally would. He was absolutely wracked with indecision. Should he invite Grimmjow to have a drink with him, as a small gesture of gratitude? Or should he ask him to leave right now, preferably before he realised just how much he missed him…just how much he needed him?

Ichigo jolted back into focus when two large hands slid over his hips, only now realising that they'd reached the bottom of the stairs and that he'd obviously zoned out. An unbearable heat consumed him as Grimmjow's larger frame melded into his back, his breath hitching as those strong hands boldly glided across his stomach and pulled him flush against the older male. Sucking his bottom lip between his teeth, he bit down hard when he felt Grimmjow nuzzle his hair, a strangled sound of surprise lodging in his throat when rough lips pressed a searing kiss to the nape of his neck. A bolt of white hot electricity coursed down the length of his spine from the small token of affection, goosebumps erupting over his arms as he fought not to give in and lean back, to tilt his head and wordlessly ask for more.

Forcing himself to snap out of it before he completely lost it, Ichigo reeled forward, successfully tearing himself out of the blunette's grasp. Spinning round to face him, Ichigo glared. "Stop touching me, Grimmjow," he growled, his hands flexing in and out of fists. "I really don't appreciate you trying to take advantage in my own home. In fact, I think you should just go."

Grimmjow huffed out an aggravated sigh. "Fine, fine. Am sorry, okay?" he began, not sounding in the least bit repentant. "But we really ought'a talk about this, about us, don't'cha think?"

"There is no 'us', Grimm," Ichigo groaned, having been through this conversation, oh, about a thousand times over by now. "How many times do I have to tell you that before you'll listen, huh?"

Also feeling the strain of a conversation he's had more times than he could count, Grimmjow growled out his frustration, stepping toward the bristling younger. "An' how many times do I have to tell ya that we belong together before ya get it through that thick skull a'yours?" Closing right in on the smaller male, he glared down on him. "Tell me, Ichigo, why'd ya bail out on your date, eh? Ya knew I was takin' care'a things here, that you could stay out as long as ya wanted…so why? Why break things off when ya finally had the chance to make a go of it? Why not let 'im wine an' dine ya, make ya feel all loved an' special, before takin' ya back to his for a good ol' fashioned throw down, huh? That's what you were lookin' forward to, was it not?" Having now backed the flustered redhead up against the front door, the snarling blunette gripped his shoulders in a harsh grasp. "Why not seal the deal, make it official? Why not move the fuck on when a golden opportunity was starin' ya right in the face? Tell me why, Ichigo!"

"Because he's not you!" Ichigo barked without thinking, his head hanging in the shame of defeat as soon as the words left his mouth. When he spoke again, his voice was broken, and barely above a whisper. "…I-I couldn't do it because…because he's not you…"

Grimmjow could only blink, scarcely daring to believe his ears as Ichigo's words rang through his mind like a mantra. Shocked through to his very core, he put up no resistance when the younger male shoved away from him, angrily storming off towards the kitchen.

Because he's not you…

Did that mean that Ichigo had been thinking about him, and for all this time? That he missed him? Ached for him? Still cared about him?

Needing answers – and fucking yesterday – Grimmjow quickly set off after him, thundering into the kitchen to find the clearly upset redhead sucking back a beer and scowling like it was going out of fashion. Cocking a brow, he wisely chose to keep his distance, lest the fiery younger rip off one of his limbs, and endeavoured to lighten the dark, bone crushing aura surrounding them.

"Beer?" he questioned, leaning his back against the granite-top island in the middle of the room, directly opposite Ichigo who was leaning against the sink. "An' here I thought ya hated the stuff. 'I'd rather drink my own piss', is what I believe ya told me."

Etching his scowl a little deeper in response, Ichigo waited until he'd downed at least half the bottle before taking a breather to answer back. "Yeah, well…people change, Grimmjow. Some because they want to, and others because they have to."

"Don't start with all that high an' mighty bullshit, ya snot nosed lil' brat, am in no mood for it."

"I couldn't give a flying fuck what you're in the mood for, Grimm!" Ichigo snarled, slamming the bottle down on the countertop beside him. "You can't just waltz back in here, back into my life, and start taking over like nothing ever happened! I mean, shit! I was finally getting myself back on track, getting back into the real world…and then, out of fucking nowhere, you show up on my doorstep and turn everything on its head again!"

Grimmjow curled his lip, not particularly enjoying being so thoroughly chewed out when none of this was his fault. "Ichigo…"

"I've tried so hard…so fucking hard, just to forget about it all – to forget about you… But I can't do it. I just…can't." Ichigo cast his eyes to the floor, unable to bear looking into those beautiful aquamarine pools as he poured his heart out, as he bared his soul to the one and only man he could ever be this vulnerable with. "It took me months to start going out again, let alone to even think about dating. Do you have any idea just how difficult it is to put yourself out there? Especially after you thought you had everything you'd ever need?"

Grimmjow didn't know what to say to that, and hence kept his mouth shut. Sure he knew just how miserable his existence had become without his fiery ex to brighten it up, never quite realised until it was too late just how dependent he was on the younger male. He lamented the obvious things, such as Ichigo's athletically sculpted body, those lean arms and long legs that were made for hugging around him, that peachy skin that always smelt so sweet and was as smooth to the touch as polished marble. But it was so much more than that. He missed the little things too; how Ichigo would grumble and complain, pleading for "just five more minutes" when it was time to get up in the mornings, how he would scrunch his nose up in distaste any time Grimmjow indulged in a smoke, scolding that it was detrimental to his own health when really Grimmjow knew that he was just concerned for him, how he would mutter and roll his eyes any time Grimmjow wanted to watch a match, but would immediately brighten when one of his favourite soaps – which to this day he still denies he's addicted to – came on. Ichigo was bold, outspoken, loyal, determined, stubborn, passionate…who wouldn't miss him?

"I started comparing everyone to you," Ichigo admitted quietly when the unbearable silence became too stifling. He wished he could stop talking, stop from digging himself a bigger grave than he'd accomplished with his first outburst, but he just couldn't help himself now that he'd started. "At first I didn't even realise I was doing it, thought I was just being a bit picky after being out of the whole dating scene for so long. But then I realised that I was rejecting people because they weren't enough like you. I went to the cinema with one guy, watched a comedy, and I couldn't understand why he wasn't laughing at certain parts – and that's when I realised that those were the parts I knew you would find funny. And then when he actually did laugh, I couldn't help but notice that it was too high and nasally, not deep and rumbling like yours. Another guy took me bowling, told me he went all the time, and yet somehow managed three gutter balls and not a single strike. The asshole let me win, treated me like a fucking girl and threw the game! You never did that to me. Never bullshitted or sugarcoated just to spare my feelings. And then tonight, with Kaien, he took me out to an Italian restaurant, and ended up ordering some pasta dish with meatballs – can you believe I actually got offended when he didn't offer me the last one?"

Grimmjow, in spite of the situation, found himself smiling. "I always gave ya mine."

"Yeah, I know. I guess that's when it really hit home, being out with a really great guy, one who really cared for me, and still finding the differences too vast and crippling to bear." Sighing heavily through his nose, Ichigo picked up his abandoned drink before padding past the heavily reflecting blunette. Pausing at the door, he glanced over his shoulder at the older male. "Help yourself to a drink if you want. I need to go sit down."

Grimmjow listened to the door clicking shut behind the redhead, his eyes glued firmly to the space he'd been occupying mere moments ago. What the fuck was going on here? Christ, he'd only come in the first place because he thought that his peachy lover was in some kind of trouble, and now he suddenly found himself in the middle of an epic soul-search. Was he supposed to read anything into what Ichigo had just disclosed? If yes, then how much exactly? It was obvious now that the younger male wasn't coping without him, not like how Grimmjow had believed he was at any rate. He had just as good as admitted that there was no one out there as suitable for him as what he was, right? But then again, it wasn't as if Ichigo wasn't at least trying to move on, which was a lot more than could be said for himself. Even the thought of someone else touching him the way Ichigo used to made him physically retch, and it only went double for him even contemplating to bring another pleasure. The only one he ever wanted calling his name out like it was the only word they possessed as he rocked them to a state of euphoric bliss was his Berry – and that wasn't ever going to change.

Grabbing himself a beer as suggested, he popped the cap with his teeth and joined his one and only in the sitting room. He may not ever get to experience the wonder that is Ichigo Kurosaki again, but he'd make the most of his company whilst he could, drink in every miniscule detail of his face, drown himself in the sweet musk that was his scent until he felt inebriated, and sear every hitch and lilt of his honeyed voice into his memory, never to be forgotten.

Lamented, and even regretted, but never, ever forgotten.

"Am not shittin' ya, I swear."

Ichigo remained unconvinced. "Oh, come on… There's just no way it's possible, let alone true! Not once, in over eleven months?"

Grimmjow snorted, stretching his legs out in front of him as he relaxed back further into the couch. "Can we please just drop this? I really don't need to be reminded of how pathetically miserable my sex life has been…"

Two hours and several beers later, and the two males found themselves falling into a rather comfortable routine. Both were sat on the two-man fabric couch, forcing them to sit a little closer to one another than they would have been subjected to had they opted for the adjacent leather sofa. At first it was awkward, especially when Ichigo had been sitting cross-legged, facing the blunette as they attempted to act indifferent to the situation and shoot the breeze. Every time he or Grimmjow had shifted, inadvertently brushing against the other, the tension had been tangible. But the liquor had served its purpose well, relaxing the two males to the point that they simply fell into old patterns – and without even realising it. Ichigo was now reclining back against the armrest, his legs crossed at the ankles and propped comfortably in Grimmjow's lap, whilst Grimmjow had resorted to lounging deep into the cushions, one arm draped over the opposite armrest and his other thrown lazily over the younger's shins.

For the longest while they had kept the conversation formal and, well, artificial. The more they relaxed, however, the more adventurous the exchange had become, the minutes ticking away rapidly unbeknownst to the two too busy reminiscing to give a shit. Hence Ichigo's current shock at having just found out that his blue haired ex-lover hadn't fucked a single sinner since their break-up. Obviously, Ichigo thought it was total bull, as he was so eloquently letting the older male know right now.

"No. Just…no. I refuse to believe you haven't had sex for that long. I mean, when we were together it was like you couldn't ever get enough, pawing all over me all hours of the day and night." Having just realised what he'd let tumble freely from his own traitorous mouth, Ichigo blushed hard, covering his faux pas with a nervous cough and an overly eager swig of his drink.

Grinning at the overly cute sight, Grimmjow tilted his head back, staring at nothing in particular as he gave a noncommittal shrug. "What can I say? The thought of touchin' someone else, of them touchin' me, is just downright repulsive." Letting his head loll to the left, his gaze landed on expressive ochre, causing his insides to knot in the most pleasant kind of way. He didn't even think before uttering, "Yer special, Ichi. No one else will ever compare to ya, not if they had the rest of their lives to try."

He willed it not to, but Ichigo's heart soared at those words, blood rushing into his neck and the tips of his ears to turn his blush scorching. Licking his suddenly too dry lips, he slowly retracted his legs, rubbing at the back of his neck as he struggled to come up with a response. When nothing came to mind, he sighed in defeat and opted for a failsafe.

"It's getting late…" he muttered, letting the rest of the sentence speak for itself.

Sitting upright, Grimmjow felt like smacking himself. What the fuck had he been thinking, spewing that nonsense when he knew he should be treading lightly? Damn, and they'd just been getting into the swing of things too, chatting and having a laugh like they used to so long ago. It had been nice, familiar – how long had he been waiting for this opportunity? For the chance to sit down and simply talk to his Berry again.

Go figure that it would be his fucking mouth that would go and spoil everything.

He felt like there was still so much left unsaid, too much left hanging in limbo. A quick glance at the clock on the mantelpiece revealed that it was fast approaching 1AM, so it wasn't like Ichigo was trying to get rid of him – at least, not completely. But the gnawing feeling wouldn't leave him be, sat heavy and insistent on his heart, silence once again stretching out between them, until…

"Can I ask ya a favour?"

Turning an inquisitive brow on the elder, Ichigo found the blunette staring intently at him, those cerulean orbs boring into him with a look so comparable to desperation he felt his heart kick it up a gear. Knowing that he should deny the request, especially when facing an expression of that magnitude, Ichigo turned a blind eye to his better judgement and nodded his consent.

Shifting slightly to better face the younger, Grimmjow didn't think twice before voicing his request. "Kiss me."

Ichigo blinked. He wasn't quite sure what he'd been expecting, but it certainly wasn't that.

"Uh, Grimm…I really don't think–"

He was cut off when a large hand wrapped around his bicep, the touch sending an involuntary shiver down his spine.

"Please, Ichigo," Grimmjow surprised them both by begging, his grip tightening in urgency, yet not enough to cause any harm. "One kiss, that's all am askin'. Just one an' then I promise I'll go, I'll walk straight out that door an' everything can go back to the way it was. Ya have my word."

Ichigo's heart gave a perceptible twinge at that, the thought of their lives returning to the way they were before tonight not sitting well in his gut, even knowing that there was no other way it could end.

Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was the regression to better, happier times. Or maybe it was the fact that Grimmjow; brash, feral, untouchable Grimmjow, had been reduced to something as lowly as begging for a simple kiss. Whatever the reason, Ichigo found himself blocking out the little voice – his logical sense of reasoning, most likely – in the back of his head, not bothering to voice his permission but rather taking the bold first step and inclining forward, pressing his lips almost cautiously against the blunette's.

Grimmjow was genuinely shocked. Shocked that he didn't have to plead more, that he didn't end up with a black eye or an earful of colourful expletives for even suggesting it. But perhaps most shocking of all, was the fact that Ichigo had been pressed up against him, those soft pink lips caressing his own for a good five seconds now, and he had yet to respond.

For someone who seemed so desperate for it, Ichigo was a little miffed, not to mention a whole lot embarrassed, when he took the initiative and received nothing in return. Mortified, and admittedly rather disappointed, he made to pull away, only to have a callused hand wrap around the back of his neck, effectively stalling his retreat as rough lips finally reciprocated, crushing firmly against his own.

Liquid fire raced through Ichigo's veins at the contact, and, just like when they'd been talking, he fell into old habits, his body arching forward into the blunette and his lips parting obediently at the feel of the man's tongue eagerly swiping across them. Humming pleasantly at the cool, intoxicating taste that was uniquely Grimmjow, he slid his hands up a broad chest and over strong shoulders before wrapping his arms around his neck, his tongue pushing against the intruder almost fervently. God, it had been much too long.

Grimmjow was so far above cloud nine right now he'd long since lost count. He couldn't quite believe this was happening, that he had Ichigo not only clutched securely within his arms, but that the fiery redhead was kissing him – and so fucking ardently at that. At most he was expecting a quick lip-lock, a brief meeting of lips and tongues, before he imagined Ichigo to become uncomfortable, to evade and fall back. Not this; his beautiful lover moulding and melding against him, slender fingers teasing the hair at the nape of his neck as he commanded authority, mouths locked as tongues twisted and curled around each other. Fuck, Ichigo was practically crawling into his lap as they reclaimed familiar territory and got reacquainted with flavours they never truly forgot.

Ichigo was rapidly losing himself, all five of his senses short-circuiting and going haywire as Grimmjow flooded his system. It wasn't until a hand dropped to his thigh, strong fingers stroking up and down a few times before gamely wandering to his inner thigh, that he suddenly resurfaced from his delirious stupor.

Knowing he'd pushed his luck too far when peachy digits fisted disapprovingly in his hair, Grimmjow reluctantly withdrew his hand, slowing the dizzying pace of their passionate embrace until they stopped altogether. Resting his forehead against Ichigo's, he took a moment to simply take it all in; shining orbs darkened to a rich chocolate brown, freckled cheeks flushed an adorable rouge, hot breaths panted out of lightly swollen lips to mix with his own.

Fuck, it was probably for the best that they stopped when they did. Ichigo had always been too much of a temptation when they were together, and if anything it was only so much worse now, like he was the forbidden fruit he knew he wasn't allowed to have. And damn it all if he hadn't gone and taken a huge, Jaws sized bite out of that oh so delectable fruit.

Christ, he was so incredibly messed up.

Untangling himself from the addictive warmth he'd once called his own was so fucking hard, but he persevered and, after a good bout of mental scolding, eventually managed to extricate himself. Rising abruptly to his feet, he righted his shirt and grabbed his jacket from its resting place on the back of the couch.

"It was great seein' ya again, Berry," he stated as he pulled his jacket on, purposefully avoiding the younger's avid staring. "Thanks for the drink an', uh…well, y'know. I'll see ya 'round."

He'd barely taken a step before;


Ichigo honestly had no idea what in the hell was running through his brain the moment he jumped from his seat, grabbing the blunette's wrist to stop him in his tracks. All he knew was that he couldn't stop himself, couldn't stop the hammering of his heart or the crushing feeling of bitter loneliness the very second Grimmjow left his side.

Bowing his head from the questioning gaze of the other, Ichigo gently squeezed his wrist. "Please, Grimm…don't…"

"Don't?" Grimmjow asked, puzzled. "Don't what?"

"Don't go." Closing the diminutive distance between them, Ichigo forced himself to look up, to look into the eyes of crystallised blue that he adored so much it physically hurt. Forget that his voice was shaking, that his eyes were prickling with tears and his fingers trembling, he couldn't bear to let Grimmjow leave. Not this time…not again. "Please, stay with me tonight. I-I…God. I don't want you to go…"

Feeling his breath clogging up in his throat, Grimmjow hesitantly curled his free arm around a slim waist. "D'ya have any idea what you're askin' of me, Ichigo? Shit, am tryin' my best to keep myself in check here, but you're makin' it really difficult to just walk away."

"I know," Ichigo murmured, his tone heavy with uncertainty. "I know I'm being a selfish, self-centred jerk right now, but I need this…I need you, Grimmjow." Taking a deep breath, he felt a single, hot tear of failure rolling freely down his cheek when he blinked. "I'm so sick and tired of trying to find something to fill the void you left behind, of searching for someone who can measure up to the man that I gave my everything to, only to come up empty time and time again, to realise that he just does not exist because you are it. You're literally the only one for me, Grimm. I can't find happiness with anyone else because there is no one else." Clutching fiercely at the blunette's thermal, he threw caution to the wind and laid his soul out bare, praying beyond all reasonable hope that he wasn't about to be too badly burned. "I don't want to be alone anymore, Grimm. If it can only be for one night, I want to love you again. I want you to love me again. I know its asking too much, of the both of us, but please…stay."

With so many emotions suddenly whirling through him, Grimmjow honestly didn't know how to react to those words. By agreeing to stay, he was opening an old and horrifically painful wound, one that had taken him too damn long to sew shut – and that had never truly healed. Could he do it? Could he really spend the night here and then simply leave tomorrow? Come morning, would Ichigo be disgusted with him for taking advantage when it was clear he wasn't thinking straight right now? Would it make things worse than they already were?

Using his thumbs to brush away the tears still silently escaping from the corners of his lover's eyes, Grimmjow made his decision. He would surely end up in the deepest pits of Hell for it, but fuck it, if Ichigo wanted one night of indulgence, only last night to be selfish and take everything he had to give, then he would gladly give it. Damn be the consequences; for Ichigo, he would do anything.

"Are ya sure this is what ya want?" he asked, pulling that lithe body closer still as he offered the younger male a final out. "Don't dare toy with me, Ichigo. As soon as ya give the go-ahead, I won't listen to a single fuckin' word of restraint, ya hear me?"

"I hear you," Ichigo replied, chuckling slightly as he allowed himself to be crushed against the larger male's body. He could feel his blood singing in anticipation as he slipped his arms around a corded neck, his fingers tangling into locks of electric teal. "I've missed you like fucking crazy, so don't you dare hold back on me."

An infectiously happy smile ripped across his mouth as he rocked onto the balls of his feet, his lips brushing in a feather light caress across the shell of the blunette's ear as he whispered the words he'd longed to say since the very instant his lover left…

"I love you, Grimmjow."

A/N: ...

Am sorry, okay? Mah self-control is fuckin' diabolical! What was supposed to be a OneShot-turned-TwoShot has now spiralled out of control thanks to mah overeager, vomit-inducing imagination - as per usual. Gah! At least two-thirds of this wasn't even supposed ta be in it! I just started writin', and it all got away from me... Again.

Rawwwwwr~ - *mildly angry growly*

So yosh, as am sure yah'll have figured, there will be at least one more chapter ta come. I can only apologise again fer gettin' carried away - I never mean to. Am sorry ta keep yah's all waitin' fer what it is am sure yer all waitin' for *winky cough* Hence expect things ta heat up next chapter (dur, obviously ^^)

I really wanted ta use mah other favourite Seme ever - Shiro-sexface-saki, but unfortunately he just wouldn't fit in with the tempo, not this time *sad purr* He's too wild an' confrontational, an' there's absolutely no way he'd ever back down or give up Ichigo for Grimm-kitten to move in on, so he just wouldn't work, dammit But oh well, Kaien's a very ample - and HOT - replacement, ne? Such a pretty boy, indeed...

Hope yah'll enjoy, an' aren't too disappointed that it's gonna be longer than first anticipated... Eep on a stick.

Have fun readin' if yah dare~

Ciao, mah sweets (: