Mating Season

Chapter Twelve

By Lochness Nessie

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, or any of its characters.

Ichigo was currently sleeping in the bed he shared with Grimmjow. He gave birth yesterday and he was still exhausted from the surgery and from being up almost all night with the newborn cubs. Grimmjow was also up most of the night but he was still awake and in the medical room where his smallest son lay in an incubator. He was staring at the small boy, stroking his tiny hand with one finger. It broke his heart to see his son's chest moving robotically as his lungs were filled with oxygen, but he couldn't let Ichigo see him so down. Ichigo was already so distraught about little Kohaku that he only wanted to be positive around him. He had to be strong for Ichigo, and for Kohaku.

"He'll be okay," a soft voice said from the doorway making Grimmjow jump. He turned around in his chair to see Ishiin starting to walk inside the room. He came up next to the new father and put a hand on his shoulder. "I believe this little guy has some fight in him. He's got some of the strongest parents I've ever met. Not to mention a badass grandpa." He winked and smiled warmly at his new son-in-law. "So I have faith that he will pull through this. He just needs some more time to develop those lungs of his and to gain some weight. He'll be outta there in no time."

Grimmjow nodded. "Ya, you're prolly right." He sighed heavily. "I just want it ta happen soon. So he can go ta the nursery with the others, and so we don' have ta worry so much."

Ishiin nodded and replied, "I know, we all want that. But we just have to give him time." He paused. "So the other cubs aren't really tolerating the human baby formula."

"What?!" Grimmjow snapped his head to look at Ishiin so fast it's a wonder he didn't break his neck. "What do ya mean? Are they gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, I think we will just have to figure something else out. I figured that the Enfamil would be what they would eat since they're part human, but they keep throwing it up. Szayel said you can eat human food but it doesn't really satisfy you arrancars?"

"Oh, ya we don' really gain any strength with that food. We just eat it cause we can, and so Ichi don' have to eat alone," Grimmjow answered. "We eat each other, well we eat lesser hollows. Ya know, weaker ones." He looked thoughtful for a minute and then continued. "Do ya think the cubs need to eat hollows?"

"It's worth a shot," Ishiin agreed with a shrug. "How do we get our hands on those?"

"I'll go hunting and get 'em some chow," Grimmjow was on his feet in a second, already headed towards the door. "I'll be back real quick, watch over the cubs for me? And Ichi?"

"Of course I will. You don't have to ask," Ishiin smiled and waved Grimmjow off. He watched the new father run out of the room. Then turning around he walked closer to the incubator and stared down at his grandson. He petted the boy's bright blue hair with his fingers and smiled. "Kohaku, you're giving your papa a good scare. Anytime you're ready, I'll be glad to move you to the nursery with your brother and sister. You'll love them, they're sweet little cubs. They miss their little brother. So you work on getting bigger and stronger, okay little man?"

Grimmjow returned with a small lizard-like hollow he found not too far from their home. This type of weak little hollow wouldn't even be considered a snack for Grimmjow or any other arrancar but it might be good for the cubs. He brought it in to the nursery where the babies were with Ishiin and Szayel. He smiled at his little son who was being rocked by his grandfather. Holding up the lizard hollow he grinned and said "daddy brought some dinner!" He tore off a leg from the beast and then tried to give it to the little boy. Akiyoshi just looked at his father like he was something extremely interesting, but didn't pay the food any mind.

Grimmjow brought the leg up to his mouth and made like he was munching on it theatrically. "Yum yum yum!" he cooed and smiled at the baby. Still, Akiyoshi didn't seem intrigued. Grimmjow looked over to Szayel and shrugged. "He doesn't like it," he grumbled.

"He's a newborn, you idiot, he doesn't have teeth," Szayel chuckled. He walked up to Grimmjow and the baby and shook his head. "He's not going to be able to chew anything for a while. I'm going to have to go make this into a liquid so he can ingest it."

Grimmjow scrunched up his nose. "Ew, ya mean like puree that shit? Gross." He handed the lizard off to Szayel who ran off to the lab with it. Looking to his father-in-law he asked about Kohaku and how he was holding up.

"Grimmjow, he is still fine, he's just sleeping," Ishiin smiled. "I just wanted to let him be for a bit, and decided to come see my other two grandchildren." He handed Akiyoshi to Grimmjow who happily accepted the little squirming cub into his arms. The little boy yawned and looked up into his father's face and made a small smile. Ishiin then went to Masaki's bassinette and gently lifted her up. "Ah, Masaki, my late wife, would be so proud of you and Ichi. And she'd love to be here to hold these little ones. She was great with kids, you know. Could have taught you way more than I can ever do." He looked sad as he cradled the little girl but then when she made a whimper like she might cry Ishiin let his sadness wash away. "Ah. Someone needs a change. Grimmjow you're in luck!" He grinned devilishly and laid the baby onto the changing table. "Your turn to change, my turn to watch."

Groaning, Grimmjow handed Akiyoshi back to Ishiin and approached the changing table. This was only the second diaper he would have changed since their birth, and he was dreading it. The first time he changed Akiyoshi he got peed on. He was really not looking forward to more of that nonsense. But Masaki didn't put up a fight like her brother had. She just started at Grimmjow and let him do all the work without fussing. She seemed like such a peaceful baby so far. Grimmjow was really hoping she'd stay that way. At least one would be easy going.

Grimmjow seemed to get the soiled diaper off and into the trash with no problems. Now he cleaned and powdered the baby butt and was ready to re-apply a fresh diaper. He almost put it on backwards but Ishiin stopped him. "No the ducks go in the front," Ishiin said from over his shoulder.

"What?" Grimmjow turned his head to see Ishiin smiling at him.

"The little duck pattern goes on the front, facing you, and the blank side is the back, it's bigger," Ishiin explained. Grimmjow was a little slow with some of the parenting issues, but he was a lot better than expected, even Szayel had to admit that. Surprisingly Grimmjow had a lot of natural parental instincts.

"And, done! Lookin' good Masaki!" Grimmjow tickled her belly and then blew a raspberry on it. She squirmed and smiled as he picked her up. "You're a good girl, you're gonna be so pretty like ya momma!"

"His mother?" Szayel questioned as he walked back into the nursery.

"Yeah, Ichigo, duh," Grimmjow replied and laughed. Ishiin chimed in too and burst into laughter.

"You'd better not let my son hear you say that or he'll deck you," Ishiin grinned. "But I agree, Masaki you will be a cutie! Not that you aren't now or anything! You're sure to get plenty of attention from the boys!"

"Oh no, she better not!" Grimmjow growled. "I'll beat 'em all away from her!"

Ishiin grinned. "And now you know why us daddies hate having little girls! We don't want anyone to snatch them away from us or take them away from the safety of our house and supervision."

"Damn right! I'm gonna kick anyone's ass who tries anything with her!"

Szayel laughed at Grimmjow's protectiveness and gave him and Ishiin bottles. "I fixed that up for them," he replied. "See if they'll take it like that."

Nodding, Ishiin tried to put the bottle into Akiyoshi's mouth. He welcomed it at first, but then once he started to suck he made a sour face and started to cry. He flailed, not accepting the bottle back into his mouth. He looked over and Masaki wasn't struggling. She was feeding for Grimmjow with no fussing. However, it didn't take long before she wouldn't feed anymore. When Grimmjow tried to burp her, like he'd been instructed by Ishiin, she threw up what she'd attempted to eat. Then she began to wail, which set off Akiyoshi into another fit.

"Hmm," Szayel mumbled and pushed his eyeglasses farther up on the bridge of his nose. "I thought that might happen. I want to try this next." He took out two more bottles from his coat pockets and handed them to Grimmjow and Ishiin. "I made a mixture of the human formula and the hollow Grimmjow collected. I think having both might be easier on their stomachs."

And sure enough the stubborn Akiyoshi began to feed from the new bottle. He didn't stop sucking until the bottle was nearly empty and then he yawned and closed his eyes sleepily. Masaki did the same and quickly fell asleep in her father's arms.

Finally, once the cubs were fed and sleeping soundly they were placed back into their bassinets and left to snooze. Ishiin and Grimmjow crept quietly from the room and went their separate ways. Ishiin went out to the living area where his twin daughters were chatting with Renji and Rukia and the other arrancars. Grimmjow headed off to his bedroom where he noted that Ichigo was still sleeping calmly. He smiled at his lover and then headed back to the room where his third cub was laying in the incubator. He noticed Szayel had hooked up a nasogastric feeding tube to Kohaku so that he was able to get nutrients as well. Szayel and Ishiin had said sometimes sick newborns or premature newborns have troubles with feeding, so these tubes would make sure they get food.

Pulling up his usual chair Grimmjow sat next the incubator and touched the baby's small hand which was lying at his side. As soon as Kohaku felt his father's touch, his little hand curled and closed around the finger and held on to it. This initially startled Grimmjow as it was the first time Kohaku had gripped him, but then a large smile appeared on Grimmjow since this was sure to be a good sign of the little one's recovery.

"Tha's a good strong grip ya got there, Kohaku," Grimmjow said as softly as he could. He was still getting used to using a softer more gentle tone to speak to his cubs with. He was so used to being brash and harsh with his language that it was not quite second nature to him. "You're gonna be a good fighter. I'ma teach ya to spar like me and your momma do. You'll be catchin' your own hollows in no time." He leaned down and kissed Kohaku's small forehead. "Papa's proud of ya, Kohaku. You're a strong little guy. You keep fightin'. I love ya, Kohaku."

Ichigo stood in the doorway, watching the whole display of affection silently. He was smiling ear to ear as he watched his mate talk to their smallest child so tenderly. It made his heart swell in his chest knowing that Grimmjow was already a great father, talking to his young so sweetly. And he already said he loves the baby, he had such hope for their little family. Who knew Grimmjow could make such an amazing father?

Ichigo knew he really wasn't supposed to be up, supporting his own weight so soon after the intense surgery. He quietly and carefully shuffled back down the hall he came from, supporting himself using the wall, back to their bedroom. He wouldn't let Grimmjow know he'd gotten up and spied on Grimmjow and the baby. He would keep that as a secret, tender memory for now. And hopefully later they would both be together in the nursery with the cubs.

** This last bit was so hard to write with my own baby in my arms... my puppy that is. She can be so jealous of my laptop and has to try and wedge herself between us.

Ugh, I'm sorry that this took me so long to write. And I'm sorry that it's probably not up to your standards, especially since it did take so long to come out. I was so busy with school and work and now that its summer break for school I've still been just sitting around. I kept telling myself to write but it seems like I have a huge writers block. I have ideas, but getting them out is tough. (My art block is worse… I have no ideas so if I get myself to draw it's just ugly faces. Grrrr)

So I don't plan for this story to be much longer. Only a few more chapters at most. I just plan to show the cubs a little more as they grow and develop. Then we will leave off with them. :] I hope you at least KIND OF enjoyed this chapter.

And again I'm SO SORRY that it took so long! :C Thank you to all the comments and the watches and the favorites. I really appreciate them! And all the notices popping up in my email really did make me want to try and work harder at forcing out my ideas and get writing again. Thank you, everyone! 3

Also! I started working on another GrimmIchi one-shot. ;p It's over halfway done, so hopefully that'll be out soon! **