In Your Eyes

Infamous rivals at their college, Kurosaki Ichigo and Grimmjow Jaegerjaques agree to take part in an experiment where they look into each other's eyes for three minutes. They soon learn that this is all it takes to change their lives, and that the biggest and most important things in life can be said without words.

Pale lavender kissed the indigo sky in the east as dawn broke, soon consumed by a powdery gold and a soft blush of pink. The wind stirred the trees softly as the sun rose, the scent of spring carried with it. This day would be a beautiful one. Rukia could just smell it.

The gentlest melody of running water was all she heard as she walked to class. Idly swinging her bag from one hand, a smile curved her lips as she saw her friends in the distance, waiting for her: Renji, Ichigo, Orihime, and more, a small crowd beyond.

Cherry blossoms floated serenely to the ground - the very atmosphere felt charged, alive, with something. Something special.

For a moment, she paused and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and her smiled widened. The air carried with it the scent of new, exciting things to come.

And, for once, she knew why.

"I said no, Rukia!"

"It's only an experiment. It doesn't even last more than a few minutes. I don't see why you're so worried."

Ichigo stared at her suspiciously. When his friend had approached him, asking for his participation in one of her science projects, he had immediately sensed danger. Rukia never did the wide-eyed, innocent schoolgirl routine on him unless things were going to turn out badly. Usually for Ichigo. He didn't trust her; this feeling deepened immediately when he saw that she was smiling at him coyly and twirling hair round her finger.

"No, Rukia."

The act was dropped. Rukia scowled and kicked him in the knee. While Ichigo hopped and cursed in pain, she took a hold of his orange hair, whispering in his ear:

"If you don't do it, I'll tell Rangiku that you and Renji kissed at the last New Year's party. And, that neither of you were drunk."

Ichigo's mouth gaped open and he turned white. " did you...?"

Rukia smirked. "I didn't, but now I do."

"You little-!"

The grip on his hair grew tighter. Ichigo hissed in frustration.

"Fine, I'll do it!" he said, between gritted teeth. Stupid, sneaky woman! How did she manage to do this to him every time? Ichigo refused to believe there was anyone in the world as lacking in morals as Kuchiki Rukia. She was terrifying. Why did he always make friends with the scary women?

"Good." She sounded smug and satisfied. Ichigo's insides boiled with rage. "I'll let you know of formal arrangements later, then."

It sounded so ominous, coming from her lips. She hadn't divulged the exact details of this 'experiment' to him yet, which could only mean that things would end in his suffering and humiliation. And, that Rukia would enjoy every moment of it.

He didn't know why he was there. He hated the majority of these people. Hell, he hated the majority of people full stop. Grimmjow Jaegerjaques was not a sociable person in the least, and there was no one who knew it better than himself. And, the thing was, he didn't even give a fuck.

Everyone else – about thirty of them - had gathered into loose groups, drifting and floating about like snowflakes, while he sat in a corner, separate. Nelliel, the very person who had gotten him into this mess, was bouncing around like a hyperactive child, smiling and squealing and basically making most of his senses hurt. He wished he could have hit her. Usually he had no compunctions about hitting girls. But, this was in public and he knew fine well that Nelliel could kick his ass without breaking a sweat. The thought made him glower fiercely. A few stray souls lingering close to him noticed his murderous expression. When he growled at them – literally growled – they took off in the opposite direction as fast as possible without resorting to sprinting away.

Grimmjow sneered. Weak. Predictable. Nothing more than dirt on his feet. Scum, the lowest element in the food chain. That was what most people were. Nameless, faceless insects that crawled over the earth, doing nothing, being nothing.

He had no friends. He needed none. Grimmjow could take care of himself: he was alone, and he always had been. Shuffled around from home to home from his birth, he had never put down roots. He had no family, no mother or father; he'd been unwanted all his life. There was nothing to anchor him down to anything or anybody. He did what he wanted, said what he wanted, could be exactly who he wanted to be and nobody and nothing could stop him.

Fuck the world. That was his motto. Fuck the world and everyone in it. What use were they to him? What could they do for him, be for him? Nothing.

If he could have eaten them, he would have. Eaten them all. Every single person on the planet. Absorbed their life and their spirit, everything. Something in his soul paced restlessly, looking for something undefined; he hungered always. He just didn't know what for.

A small commotion broke his concentration. His thought derailed, he glanced at the door and his glare became even more poisonous.

There he is, he thought, already simmering with anticipation and rage and hatred, all mixed up into a heady cocktail of emotion that was already seeping into his veins. Murderous intent was dripping from his pores. Around him people shifted nervously as they felt the aura around him darken. They could already see the fight, blows and insults exchanged as the two most infamous rivals on campus came face to face yet again.

Grimmjow got up and sauntered casually to the source of the ruckus. The reason his heart was beating so fast already stood a head above everyone else, bright, obnoxious orange hair a beacon from miles away. It made Grimmjow's head hurt. Such a color should not have existed naturally. And, it was only another reason to add to the list of Why He Hated Kurosaki Ichigo.

There were other reasons, of course. Many of them. Hundreds. They ranged from things such as Kurosaki Ichigo is a cocky, arrogant little shit to Kurosaki Ichigo is tanned, even in winter and Kurosaki Ichigo likes a lot of things I like and this cannot be tolerated, therefore I must hate him.

Many of them made no sense. However, that didn't matter to Grimmjow. What mattered was that this little shit seemed to be the only human being in the world that could get under his skin. Who could really rile him up, have him simmering with indescribable rage and condescension and so many other, nameless things. He could already feel his hackles rising like a wild animal, claws out and ready to pounce.

People parted in front of him as the Red Sea before Moses. Soon there was nothing left but air and bad feeling between him and his enemy, his nemesis. Brown eyes glanced his way coolly before Ichigo sighed and the hint of a smirk flashed across his lips. Grimmjow's teeth bared in a snarl, lips pulled back and eyes narrowed to slits. That cocky little fucker. I'mma wipe that mouth straight offa him today. Break all his teeth and mess his pretty little face up. Fucking cunt.

"Came back so soon to get your ass kicked again?" Ichigo said, grinning in a way that had Grimmjow's blood tangling in his veins with pure venom.

"Last time was a fluke, you lil' shit," he growled, making people step back in fear. "This time I'll-"

"Leave him alone. Won't you, Grimmjow?"

It seemed time had frozen. Grimmjow whipped his head around to look at Nelliel, hands on her hips and mouth set in a firm line. When she wanted to be, Nelliel could be the coldest, most ruthless little bitch on the planet. He'd never been on her good side, but he'd never seen the extent of her full fury either. Nnoitra still bore the scars from last time. It was not something Grimmjow wanted to experience.

"What the fuck is even going on here anyway?" he snapped, to save face. No one had informed him of any details – Nelliel had just promised that she would take lecture notes for him for the next semester if he participated. Grimmjow, academically lazy as he was, had found it an offer too good to refuse and hadn't even thought about not accepting.

One of Ichigo's friends cleared her throat – another ice-queen, the Kuchiki bitch. She stood on top of a table to attract attention and announced:

"All right everyone, you've been asked to take part in a joint science project between me and Odelshvank Nelliel, but none of you know what you'll be doing. Don't worry, it's nothing dangerous! It only lasts a couple of minutes, and all you'll be doing is looking at someone." Faced with a sea of confused expressions, she elaborated, "What I mean is, Nel and I will be pairing you off, and we will time you as you stare into your partner's eyes for three minutes. Three full minutes, understand? That's all."

Anxious murmurs suddenly filled the small room. In a culture where looking into a stranger's eyes was taboo, the thought of such prolonged eye contact, even with a friend, was a daunting prospect. Ichigo himself felt uneasy.

"Hey, Rukia, are you serious about this?" he asked her, rubbing the back of his head in a nervous gesture. She didn't miss it and shrugged as she hopped back onto the ground, trying to look neutral.

"Of course, why wouldn't I be? It's only a little project, Ichigo. Well, it's not really that little, it accounts for twenty percent of my whole grade, but the point is, you do nothing but stare into someone else's eyes for three minutes! What's so hard about that?"

"It's not that it's hard," he said, ever-present frown deepening, "It's just...well...kinda weird."

"Please. Are you telling me you're chickening out?"

"What? No!"

"The great Kurosaki Ichigo, smiter of the scary, defender of the pure and virtuous, the most feared person in this whole university and probably the whole town, scared of a little science experiment?" Rukia smirked. "Just wait 'till people hear about this!"

"Rukia, I'm not scared!"

She jutted her chin out. "Then prove it to me."

Ichigo made a face. He could never resist a challenge.

"Fine. You're on."

Names were placed into a hat. Pair after pair was called out, and Ichigo felt the back of his neck prickle with sweat and the knowledge that a pair of bright blue, hateful eyes were fixed on him.

Please don't let it be him, please not him, anyone but him, oh my God I'd even put with Keigo for three minutes but not-

"Grimmjow Jaegerjaques and Kurosaki Ichigo!" Nel called out, trying her hardest to suppress her gleeful smile.

The whole room inhaled sharply as one. Ichigo froze. He didn't dare turn around to face Grimmjow. Instead he signed frantically to Rukia, trying to catch her attention. She ignored him and he swore he saw her smiling.

"Table six please!" Nel chirped, looking at him with big grey-green eyes. She smiled radiantly and, at that moment, he knew he was doomed. Ichigo dragged his feet slowly to their allotted table and stared hard at its wooden surface while Grimmjow strolled slowly in that infuriating way of his, scraping back his chair with a loud, lingering, unashamed screech. He sat down heavily and stretched his legs out until his feet were angled at either side of Ichigo.

The desk they were sitting at was made of a dark wood. It was chipped and scratched and had a few stains here and there, but it was sturdy and Ichigo supposed that was all that mattered. He valued sturdiness in tables. What else was a table good for? Give him a nice, sturdy table and he was set. And, that counted for chairs too. In fact -

"OK guys, we'll be starting in a few minutes," Rukia declared. "Just give us time to get paperwork all fixed up. When I say go, you must stop all talking and look at each other. You must not look away until I say so. No talking, no touching, no funny faces, nothing! I want to hear absolute silence. Understand?"

There was a murmur of assent. Other pairs started talking, while Ichigo stared fixedly at the table, trying to memorize the pattern of the grain. He looked to the side and counted the tiles on the wall. Anything to avoid that hot, blue-eyed gaze.

"Scared, dipshit?"

Ichigo clenched his jaw. He would be calm. He would not cause a scene like last time. Another fight, he had been warned, would lead to expulsion. And, he had worked too hard to get to college to throw this away.

"You wish, bluebell. I'm not scared of you. Forgot I broke your nose last time we fought?"

Grimmjow smiled; disdain dripping from the very strands of his artfully tousled blue hair. "Yeah, don't forget those cracked ribs and the dislocated shoulder I gave you the time before that."

"Oh please, that was nothing. You couldn't even walk when I-"

"It's almost time!" Nel squealed in his ear, making them both jump. She winked. "You be good now, OK? No fighting!"

Ichigo sent her a silent look of pleading, but she merely giggled and bounced away. He repressed the urge to sigh and scowled poisonously at Grimmjow.

"Let's swap," he said.

Grimmjow raised an eyebrow. "Say what?"

"Swap. Swap partners with someone else."

"Why?" Grimmjow sneered, eyes shining with malice. "Thought you weren't scared of me, Kurosaki?"

"I'm not scared of you!" Ichigo snapped. "I could handle this easy, no sweat, I just -"

"No sweat, huh? Is that right?"

"Yeah, that's right," Ichigo said, crossing his arms and staring at his rival with defiance.

"Good. Then let's see who wins here. This ain't nothing but another battle, right? And, whoever comes out on top of this the best wins."

"How the crap do you even win this sort of thing, idiot? It's not the lottery. And, anyway, there's not a chance in hell I'll let you get the best of me."

"Whatever, dickhead, I'll-"

Ichigo never knew what Grimmjow intended to say after that. Nel called for the start of the three minutes, and silence instantly descended. Brown eyes locked onto blue. The air rolled slowly between them as if thicker, honeyed by sunlight and the heat of the day.

After a few seconds, Ichigo was already sweating. He was sitting in a ray of direct sunlight, and Grimmjow's eyes were so unnerving. Such a rich, intense blue. The longer he stared into them, the deeper they became, until it felt like he was drowning in them. He could pick out dozens of shades of blue. There were flecks of yellow too, and green. The irises were ringed by indigo, which lightened from bright blue to the color of robins' eggs the closer he looked to the pupils, slowly dilating larger and larger.

Grimmjow's eyes were a whirlwind of emotion. Hunger. Excitement. Blood-lust. It made Ichigo shiver.

It was going to be a very long three minutes.

The longer Grimmjow looked into Ichigo's brown eyes, the twitchier he began to feel. In those molten depths he had, at first, seen frustration, reluctance, discomfort. Now, they were narrow with annoyance. Ichigo blinked and scowled as the sun hit his face, and a muscle in Grimmjow's jaw twitched. Now, he saw sparks of gold and black interspersed between shades of honey and amber; those eyes were deep and endless. He could feel himself drowning in their warmth.

He thought of chocolate, of coffee, chestnuts and cinnamon; everything that made the senses come alive. The warmest, most comforting things he knew. He could smell the perfume of Ichigo's dark, spicy scent filling his head like a dizzying fog. He could feel that burning gaze slip under his clothes, his skin, into his very soul. Those eyes looked straight into him, the source of him.

Grimmjow's heart starting thumping unevenly. Sweat prickled the back of his neck and his chest. He could feel something burning his cheeks – was he blushing?

Fuck no, he thought angrily, swatting the unwanted realization away like an irritating fly. I don't blush. No one makes me do that. Why the fuck would I do that?

The tips of his ears were turning red. He could feel it spreading down his neck, his chest. He attributed it to the heat. It was making him feel strange. Maybe he had heatstroke.

Barely thirty seconds had passed and Grimmjow could barely keep himself from gripping the edge of his chair with a white-knuckled grip. He never broke eye contact with Ichigo. This was a battle; one they had both accepted and walked into, and one neither of them would give up. Ichigo was every bit as stubborn as he was. They were similar in many ways. Grimmjow knew this, and yet the knowledge itched at him, clawed at his brain each time the orange-haired man wandered into his thoughts – which was more often than he liked to admit to himself.

I hate his eyes, he thought viciously. If it had been legal, he would have launched himself at Ichigo then and there and poked them out of that pretty face.

It was the plain, honest truth. He hated Kurosaki Ichigo. Ever since the moment they'd met each other, he'd felt something, something tingling in the pit of his stomach, causing chills to scamper up and down his spine like someone had just breathed on the back of his neck. His guts had churned and the light had softened and faded; everyone else had disappeared and there was nothing left but him and that arrogant, cocky person staring his way as though Grimmjow was nothing more than a minor annoyance. Nothing to be noticed. Nothing special.

Grimmjow yearned to thread his hands through that orange hair and pull it out. He wanted to scratch and claw over Ichigo's smooth, tanned skin, wanted to leave it marred and imperfect like his own was, blotched with scars and blemishes. He wanted to bite into that flesh, feel the blood dripping over his lips and teeth.

Saliva flooded his mouth at the thought. Kurosaki Ichigo under him, no longer so confident, so distant, covered in bruises and cuts. He wanted to mark him. Claim him.

He is my prey.

Things were as simple as that.

They were approaching the first minute. Both of them were fighting the urge to squirm with discomfort, instead gritting their teeth and gazing fixedly at each other.

Grimmjow noticed his mouth was open and he was panting slightly. He licked his lips. Ichigo's eye twitched as he followed the moment at the periphery of his vision, and Grimmjow felt a wide, manic grin splitting his face. Ichigo was frowning so hard it looked like he would pass out from the strain of it.

Sweat was starting to run down his back. He imagined fingers stroking down his skin instead; Ichigo's fingers. Long and surprisingly elegant, he knew they could pack a punch if needed. The punk had trained in karate since the age of four and he'd been constantly picking fights since his mother's death at the age of nine. Grimmjow knew all this; he knew Ichigo's history as intimately as he knew his own.

Ichigo was a formidable opponent, a fact belied by his lean, muscled body. Fast and agile, the orange-haired man constantly kept Grimmjow on his toes. He'd never met anyone like it. Ichigo gave him a good fight every time they crossed paths and the experience was exhilarating. Grimmjow loved it. The punches, the kicks, the adrenaline pumping in his veins; the feeling was unforgettable, unattainable with other opponents. No one else even came close.

The object of his thoughts shifted in silence, never looking away. Ichigo swallowed thickly, his Adam's apple bobbing. Grimmjow watched, hypnotized, as a drop of sweat meandered lazily down the tanned expanse of Ichigo's throat.

It was only for a millisecond, and instantly his eyes locked back onto Ichigo's. His mouth felt insanely dry. His fingers were twitching. He couldn't keep still, couldn't contain himself, the only thing he wanted to do was pounce on the man in front of him and...

And what?

His mind came skidding to a blank.

What did he want to do to his enemy?

The urge to destroy him had passed. They were coming up to one and a half minutes. Thoughts raced through his head at a hundred miles an hour, flitting and ephemeral like snowflakes flying in a storm. A thousand desires rose up in him, snakelike and insidious, sliding through his flesh and bones. His hands clenched and unclenched. His throat was parched. He licked his lips again.

What did he want to do to Ichigo?

Grimmjow kept licking his lips.

Ichigo couldn't help but notice it. His mind was hooked onto any distraction available, anything to stop himself from being submerged into that all-encompassing blue gaze. It was like falling face-first into an endless well filled with the summer sky.

Grimmjow's eyes were beautiful. The thought had never occurred to Ichigo before, but now he had to admit it to himself; Grimmjow was an attractive man. Ichigo, having done his fair share of fooling around with both sexes, was in no position to deny it. The man was tall and well-built, with broad shoulders and blue hair styled into artful disarray. His smile was toothy, his features clean and sharp – no, Ichigo knew that Grimmjow was a good looking person. On the outside at least.

On the inside, he wasn't so sure. The other student was lazy, disrespectful, rude to the point of madness, and he was insanely short-tempered. Stubborn as a mule, too, but Ichigo could understand that, if nothing else. What he didn't get, though, was the sense that Grimmjow went through his life with no real aim but to fight everyone and everything else.

He could see it. Could read it in those deep, endless blue eyes; past the angry facade, the walls of irritation and isolation, was a heavy, suffocating sense of loneliness.

Ichigo wondered if Grimmjow had ever had a friend. He knew his blue-haired rival had been under foster care since birth, having had no real home until high school when a mysterious benefactor had paid for a small apartment in a not-too-bad area of town within walking distance of the university.

In that case, scratch friend. He's never even had a real family.

The thought came like a punch to the stomach, almost blowing the air out his lungs. Ichigo imagined his life without his family, his father and his sisters. He thought of his crazy friends and the daily annoyances of his father attacking him at every chance available. He thought of the arguments, the tension, the everyday incidents and irritations that made up family life. The relief of having a home-cooked meal prepared for him by his loving sister, playing games, watching TV, being a part of something, unified and loving.

Had Grimmjow ever experienced that? He doubted it.

Pity flickered in mind, but he quashed it. It wouldn't be appreciated; more likely, Grimmjow would be offended at the thought of being pitied. He would spit and sneer and scorn the idea.

No, Ichigo wouldn't pity him. But, he wondered, could he do something else?

A part of his brain had been counting every second since the beginning. He was vaguely aware that they were close to two minutes. The longer he looked into Grimmjow's eyes, the hotter his skin felt. The startling blueness of that frank, intense stare was scorching. Flames were licking the inside of his chest. His fingers tapped an anxious rhythm on the surface of the table.

He could tell it was annoying the other man. Grimmjow's expression hardened a little and without warning, one of his hands came out to land on top of Ichigo's, pinning it down silently.

Ichigo thought his heart would fly out his throat. Grimmjow's hand was big, slightly bigger than his own, with long, callused fingers and warmth radiating from him like a furnace. His skin was rough, but it felt comforting to Ichigo. Disturbingly so.

These feelings – how strange they were. Just by looking into another person's eyes everything could change. Ichigo found his world spinning and breaking apart, coming back together different than before. The pieces still fit, still slotted together, but now they were aligned in an altered pattern. One in which blue washed into all the other colours of his life, in which Grimmjow's eyes were darkening and gleaming with things Ichigo couldn't name.

Their breaths were coming out in near pants. It felt so incredibly intrusive to stare at someone like this but, now, they couldn't look away from each other. Electric fire ran through every nerve of their bodies, sparking across neurones and tightening muscles. Ichigo felt his ribcage contracting. He was almost shaking.

He has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen.

Grimmjow seemed to read his thoughts. His expression softened just by a shade, and Ichigo saw him more clearly than he'd ever seen him before: a boy forced to grow up too fast, lonely and afraid to admit it, searching for something precious, something to anchor to him to life. A wild animal trapped in an invisible cage, unable to escape, and too terrified to try.

But Desperate. For respect, love, warmth, something constant to hold in his life. Something solid and tangible, that would never leave him the way his parents had left him.

Something constricted inside Ichigo. His breath was cut short. He saw inside blue eyes, no longer protected by anger or disdain or contempt, but naked, vulnerable. Pure as the sky – eyes he knew he'd never forget, no matter how many lifetimes he lived.

In that moment, Kurosaki Ichigo fell in love.

Two and a half minutes.

His blood felt thick, slow, like molasses. Grimmjow was feeling things he'd never felt before, things he'd only ever heard of, dreamed of. He had grown up alone with no friends and no family. During his adolescence, while others had grown and developed an interest for the other sex (or their own), he had remained staunchly asexual. He found no interest in sex, in intimacy or closeness. He'd never been kissed or held, and had never wanted to experience such things. He'd scoffed at the thought.

Intimacy was weakness. It was lack of protection, stripping away layers of your skin until nothing remained of you but bones and bitterness. He had seen countless broken hearts and broken minds, driven to madness by love or obsession. He didn't understand why people permitted such an existence. Love, happiness, contentment – these things didn't really exist. It was chemicals emitted by your brain, deluding you into accepting a lie. That was what he had always firmly believed.

All he had needed was his anger. And, oh, was there anger. It curled around him in a thick shell of iron, impenetrable and impassable. No one had been able to wiggle under his skin his whole life. His rage and hatred had kept them at a distance.

Grimmjow picked fights. He was rude, short-tempered, violent, and cared for no one. No one had ever cared for him – he lived his life alone, and had long ago accepted that he would die alone too. It had never bothered him.

Until now.

Ichigo's brown eyes were mesmerizing. Grimmjow couldn't believe such a colour could be so rich, so fascinating; in the past he'd always found brown dull and commonplace. He lived in Japan, and almost ninety-nine percent of the population had brown eyes.

So, what made Ichigo's so different?

Amber mixed with gold. Flecks of dark chocolate brown, at times sparking and spitting with rage, other times hard as steel with determination. He'd seen Ichigo's eyes when the man was angry, cold, harsh and taunting. He'd seen them when Ichigo laughed, something warm and compelling about his smile.

People gravitated to his orange-haired rival, that he knew. Ichigo was funny, irreverent, charismatic, and this, mixed with his bad-boy persona at once, fascinated and repelled the other students. They had met and fought in their first year of college, and, ever since then, Grimmjow riled the other boy up, whipping him into a froth of livid anger, just to have the taste of it on his tongue again. He loved the blood, loved the sight of sweat dripping down tanned skin, and loved the fact that he could stir this hard, distant person like no other.

For Ichigo was distant. He wore his scowl like a mask, and at the rare moments where he let it drop, Grimmjow always saw soft sadness and longing in those eyes, as if Ichigo was staring into a future he could never have.

It was strange when Ichigo was sad. It didn't suit him. Scowling and shouting and snapping suited him, fighting suited him, when his muscles would tense and his teeth were bared in a taunting sneer. Grimmjow lived for the roaring fire in those brown eyes when they fought, relished every breath of Ichigo's scent, the touch of Ichigo's smooth skin against his own, white teeth and orange hair and everything was blinding, hypnotic, untouchable, a spiral of movement and adrenaline slicing him to the very core.

There was a special place reserved in his heart for those times. For all the hundreds of people he had fought, Ichigo always stood out. None of their fights had ended with a true victor, as they had always come out in the end as equals, both equally battered and bruised.

For a moment, the blue-haired man wondered what Ichigo would feel like if they weren't fighting. His hands, running over that skin, through orange hair, stroking cheekbones and the delicate skin of his eyelids. His lips against Grimmjow's, the heat of his body, his breath, everything about him belonging to Grimmjow and only him.

Heat was pooling in the pit of his stomach, seeping uncomfortably between his legs. He clenched his fists, imagining Ichigo against him, inside him, kissing him, breathing him-

"And, that's it, ladies and gentleman! Your time is up!"

The first sound they had heard in three minutes. It was a sledgehammer slamming into the delicate glass bubble that surrounded them, shattering it into millions of shards that fell around them noiselessly. Both men jerked, forcefully pushed from their reverie.

Ichigo squeezed his eyes shut and kept them closed. His head was throbbing, his mouth dry and his tongue felt as though it had swollen up and would choke him. He felt Grimmjow stand up slowly and the urge to lunge and pull him close was overwhelming. He could smell the other boy – a mix of soap and cheap aftershave masking a darker, muskier scent that had goose bumps breaking out on Ichigo's arms.

He barely remembered the rest of that day. Things passed by him in a blur of colour and indistinguishable sound. For the next week, he searched desperately in his lectures for a flash of blue hair, but saw nothing.

Ichigo didn't see Grimmjow again for five days. Each one stretched on endlessly, filled with boredom and images of blue eyes consuming his mind. But then – then.

They found each other. One look shared between them, charged with everything they had felt together in those three minutes and more. Ichigo stepped towards him, watching Grimmjow carefully as one would observe a wild animal.

Nothing but air between them. Fingertips skimmed over Grimmjow's forearms, and pulled him closer. Ichigo parted his lips, eyes already heavy-lidded and half-closed, darkening with desire.

And then, Grimmjow punched him.