Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...
Welcome to the quite disturbing second installment of the Dirty trilogy. Enjoy the ride; it's gonna be a bumpy one.
His emotions had fluctuated from one end of the spectrum, all the way to the other, all in a matter of a few hours. Normally, the process would have taken days, weeks. Hell, months, even. No, not this time. It was entirely worse than when he'd thought his blue-haired lover had deserted him yet again. This time the pain was all-consuming, swallowing him up like whales did krill. Mind-numbing at some points, stabbing and stinging at others: the crushing agony made him feel raw and exposed. He didn't think his heart would ever recover from the recent turn of events. What had started out as an already emotional morning had turned out to be the absolute worst day of his life.
Ichigo sat on the couch in the living room of his apartment, struggling to breathe, mind turning itself over and over, and body numb. He couldn't erase the morning's images from his brain for the life of him, and it was quickly driving him insane. He closed his eyes and swallowed thickly, but the actions only threw the scene of Grimmjow being riddled with bullets before them. He didn't realize he'd made a noise until a hand on his back made his eyes fly open. He stared distantly at the opposite wall, trying to clear the fog from around him.
"King," Shiro's worried voice came from beside him on the couch. "When you hurt, I hurt."
He didn't comprehend it; he was too far-gone to let what his twin had just told him sink in. His eyes stung as his breathing hitched again. His hands turned into fists and he pressed them against his shut lids. Why couldn't he stop crying? Why couldn't he man up? People died everyday, that much had been made more than clear.
"P-people die all the time," he croaked, voice unrecognizable. "It's true."
"King..." his brother's voice trailed off.
"They die and then leave you behind to work out your emotions alone. They leave you with ghosts. Th-they leave you with questions, confusion, pain," Ichigo whispered, lowering his fists. "But worst of all, they leave you with love. They leave you with so much love, once they're gone, you have no idea where to put it, or what to do with it." He bared his teeth and snarled, "What am I supposed to do with all this shit now?"
Shiro remained silent, eyes wide as he stared. He glanced over at his blond boyfriend seated on the other side of the couch a few times before returning his full attention to Ichigo, who had silent tears streaming down the sides of his face.
"He...he was supposed to come back. He told me he would take care of things and then we'd be together for real. He wasn't supposed to die. God, that asshole!" Ichigo snapped, surging to his feet, hands clenched into fists. "How could he do this to me? And you wanna know the really fucked up part?" he asked no one in particular. He was in the middle of a full-blown rant; it didn't matter whether his audience listened or not. He needed to get a few things off his chest. "He'd known! The fucker knew something was going to happen, and he didn't even have the decency to tell me! He'd known," he ended in an insistent whisper, heart aching unmercifully.
Shiro frowned, apparently confused. "Why ya say that?"
Ichigo inhaled slowly, the breath resembling a shuddering hiccup. "He was acting so weird at the funeral. I thought it was just because he didn't like them or something. Maybe because that kid had died and he felt bad. I didn't know. But now that I look at it from a distance, it had to be because he knew those assholes were going to corner him there. He didn't even try to run from it, either. Bastard."
Shinji's deep growl came from the couch like an ominous roll of thunder. "He wasn't a coward, that's why he ain't run. Only pussies run."
Ichigo whirled in the man's direction, finger aimed at his chest. "Screw that! If you love someone, wouldn't they come first?"
"It ain't that easy."
"Arrgh! That's the same bullshit he fed me when he told me he had to leave me alone! I'm fed up with the excuses! If he'd stayed with me, none of this would've happened!"
Shinji eased to his feet, black vest unbuttoned and hanging casually around his lithe frame. "Ya think so?"
The orange-haired man was oblivious to the dangerous tone in the other man's voice as he continued to yell. "I know so! Fuck, if he didn't want me, he didn't have to lie to me and make me think he loved me!"
"Ya know how stupid ya sound right now?"
"If he ain't love ya, yer ass woulda been dead that night he saw ya with Ginjou. Grimm don' miss. If he ain't love ya, he woulda let yer ass die on those stairs along wit' him! If he ain't love ya, he wouldna never came back ta ya in the first fuckin' place, dumbass!" the blond gangster shouted, raising the already stifling tension in the room.
Ichigo stared holes into Shinji as he tried to convince himself otherwise. If he didn't, he would be faced with the fact that the only man he'd really loved had died. He would be forced to endure the pain of knowing he'd been loved in return, but unable to really make that love flourish. He pressed his lips together, more tears filling his eyes and hanging from his wet lashes. He couldn't deal with it right now. He didn't want to believe it. He didn't...
Devastation made him bend at the waist and clutch his stomach, gasping for air. In an instant, Shiro was at his side, hand on his back as he tried to keep him from sliding to the floor. It was too much. After everything he and Grimmjow had gone through, it wasn't fair that they end like this. It wasn't fair that he had to watch the one person he intimately cared for gunned down like a rabid animal.
"Please," he groaned, torment like he'd never felt before twisting his insides into a knot. "It hurts. Oh, God, Shiro, it hurts," he sobbed.
"Fuck," his twin cursed softly. "C'mon, King. Ya need ta lie down."
His body had become useless. All he could do was cry brokenly against his brother's shoulder. He would never see Grimmjow again. He'd never hear the blue-haired man's deep voice that could go from dangerous to tender within seconds. He'd never get to kiss him again, touch him, nothing. His gut churned, making him gag. Shiro rushed him towards the bathroom, where he stumbled to the toilet and tried to force away the discomfort writhing through his entire system. He couldn't stand to be inside his own skin at the moment, wishing with all he had that he could just make the bone-deep ache disappear.
Shiro stood over King's bed, watching him sleep fitfully. He wished there was something he could do for his twin. What do you do when someone's loved one dies, though? he thought. There was no easy answer, no quick solution. King would have to thug it out and survive the worst hurt he'd experienced to date. It would be hellish, at times even downright impossible, but he would have to do it, or else Shiro feared for the man's sanity. As much as he loved his brother, he would hate to see the guy going down his previous road of depression and recklessness.
King tossed and moaned before settling down. Shiro sighed helplessly. He really hated being unable to do anything for his own brother. The whole thing had happened so quickly too. One minute, they'd been preparing to leave the church, and the next minute, Grimmjow had been laying in his own blood as they'd fled the scene. Christ, the images still gave him chills. He'd never seen someone shot before. Not right in front of him, at least. TV made it look so glorified, but it was nothing like that in real life. It was disturbing, scary as hell and so...evident. So physical.
He turned to face the voice coming from the doorway with a sad nod. "Yeah. He kinda passed out after all that cryin' and throwin' up. Fuck, Shin, I feel so bad for him," he paused and looked the blond in the eye. "You too. Grimmjow was your best friend."
Shinji grunted and shoved his hands into the pockets of his slacks as he studied the floor. Shiro knew the man was hurting and refusing to show it, so he didn't press the issue. However, there was something that had been bothering him since they'd arrived back at the apartment.
"D-did ya send someone over there ta see if he was OK, though? He might not even be dead," he said quietly.
"I did that in the car," Shinji said with a dejected sigh as he turned his back and headed to the living room. Shiro followed him, waiting for the blond to elaborate. Surely, there had to be more to it than that. "I sent Ishida, Szayel, Nnoitra and...ah, you don't know him, but he's another dude from the fam. I sent them to check things out." He took a seat on the arm of the couch and ran a hand through his bang. After another deep sigh, he shook his head and the albino could have sworn he'd seen tears. "They ain't find his body. Jus' a lotta blood and bullet shells. Nobody was there when they got there. They looked in the park ta see what they could find, but there was nothin'."
Shiro swallowed and exhaled slowly. Well, that left a lot more questions than he'd originally started with.
"So...what's that mean? If they ain't find a body, he could still be alive."
"Babe," Shinji started softly. "Grimm's dead. Ishida told me that there was a trail of blood leading from the stairs, like those assholes dragged him somewhere or somethin'."
Silence filled the room. All Shiro could do was sit and stare down at his hands as his last hope for his brother was snuffed out like a candle flame. A shrill trilling interrupted the quiet, making him glance at his boyfriend, confused. The blond Crip scowled as well, but dug in his back pocket before withdrawing his cell. He glared at the screen for a second, then answered.
"Yo." There was some talking on the other end before Shinji's jaw tightened. "Where?" Shiro's frown deepened as he strained to hear something, anything, but he couldn't. "I'm comin'," Shinji snapped as he ended the connection. He gave the pale-haired man a pointed stare as he pocketed the phone and rose from his perch. "I'll be back. I gotta run an' do somethin'."
Shiro was on his feet instantly. "Who was on the phone?" he asked before remembering that Shinji was a gang member, and that some things just couldn't be discussed. The look the blond gave him only cemented that fact.
"Ya know I can't tell-"
"I DO KNOW! AN' THA'S THE FUCKIN' PROBLEM! GOD, SHIN! WHAT, IT AIN'T ENOUGH WATCHIN' YER BEST FRIEND DIE? NOW YA GOTTA GO DO THE SAME?"
It came out of nowhere. He'd gone from curious, to concerned, to scared, to downright pissed in a matter of mere seconds. Now, rage at his gang-banging boyfriend seemed to seep from his pores as he glared at the man and tried not to completely lose his composure. Shinji's blond brows had disappeared beneath his bang as he stared at Shiro in shock. Then the astonishment subsided and made room for anger.
"Ya knew what I was when ya first started fuckin' me. I can't change that. 'Specially not now."
"I can't, Shirosaki. Don' fuckin' do this right now."
"Well, when the fuck am I s'posed ta do it? It ain't like yer givin' me a specific time! An' scuze the shit outta me fer carin' whether yer ass lives er dies!"
It was obvious Shinji didn't have a comeback because he just glared and kept his mouth shut, lips pressed into a thin line. After what felt like an eternity, he finally shook his head and scoffed.
"Shiro, I hate ta break it ta ya and be the only voice of reason right now, but somebody's gotta do it. This life I live, the life Grimm lived: it ain't all peaches and cream. Shit ain't sweet. This ain't no fuckin' fairy tale, babe. Wake up! I can't just run off with you and live happily ever after. My boy died right in front of me. You think I ain't about to ride for mine? That I ain't gon' kill every last one a'them motherfuckers that dared put a hole in Grimm?"
Shiro stood transfixed as he watched Shinji get more and more heated, more and more worked up. Where the hell was all of this coming from? He'd never even known that the blond felt that way. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes, but he refused to blink and let them fall.
"An' le's jus' say after everything calms down, I do wanna leave wit' you. Numba one, I'd hafta be jumped outta the fam and be labeled a deserter. Numba two, I'd pretty much hafta leave the country, 'cuz everywhere I'd go after that, I'd either be killed or beaten the fuck up. Now, ya see what I mean when I say everything ain't everything?"
He wanted to understand, he really did, but it was so hard when it was one's heart on the line. He made the mistake of looking down at the floor, making the tears that had been hanging onto his lashes slide down his cheeks. He sucked his teeth, agitated with his moment of weakness. This wasn't him. He chanced a glance at his blond boyfriend and swallowed a swift intake of air. Who the hell was he kidding? He was in the same boat as King now, only his heartache was still alive and kicking ferociously.
"Why you wait til now ta do this, Shinji?" he asked.
"Do what? Get revenge for my best friend?"
"No. Leave. I know tha's wha's comin' next after a speech like that."
There was a small space of silence where he didn't know what was going on with the blond. Then, Shinji appeared right in front of him, footsteps so quiet, you wouldn't have heard them with a stethoscope. His hand came up and clutched the back of Shiro's neck, making the albino gasp in surprise. Shiro almost backed into the TV, but stood firm at the last second. Shockingly, all Shinji did was tighten the grip on his neck and put them eye-to-eye.
"When I tell you shit, I expect you not ta take it lightly," the man growled.
Shiro was cut off by a warm pair of lips and a strong, wiry arm going around his waist. The hand on his neck went Incredible Hulk and squeezed until the discomfort became nearly unbearable. He chose to ignore it in favor of the slick tongue entering his mouth. Why was Shinji kissing him if he only intended to leave? Why would he do that to him?
The blond gangster pulled back from the kiss, face still incredibly serious. "Didn't I tell you I protect wha's mine?" Shiro nodded, stunned and helpless. "And didn't I tell you I love you?" Again he nodded. "Why the fuck you doubtin' me, then? I never said I was leavin' you. I jus' got some shit ta take care of. I ain't lettin' us turn into a tragedy, ya heard?"
He chuckled, relief flooding him. He wanted to dance for joy, but at the same time couldn't bring himself to be too happy. "What about King?"
"What about him?"
"Well, I don' know. I guess...maybe I thought..."
It was Shinji's turn to chuckle as he ran a thumb down the side of Shiro's face. "Am I my brother's keeper?" he asked quietly.
The pale-haired man's eyes glittered solemnly as he answered. "Yes, I am."
As she entered the modest apartment she shared with her longtime girlfriend, she grinned and inhaled deeply.
"Something smells good, babe!" she called from the living room, where she dropped a backpack filled with cash onto the plush carpet.
She glanced around, absently noting the stereo pumping the reggae tune of Sizzla's "Dry Cry" from the surround sound speakers. A still smoldering blunt rested in a crystal ashtray on the glass coffee table and a goblet of white wine was set beside that. She grinned again, the smell of jerk chicken leading her by the nose to the kitchen. From the doorway, she spied her girlfriend stirring something in a large silver pot. Spices overwhelmed her senses and made her mouth water as she watched clear green eyes lock onto her from across the room. Even though she and Halibel had been together for eight years now, the blonde woman's piercing eyes could still hold her captive.
"Hey," Nel greeted. "Whatchu cookin'?"
"Hmm, jerk chicken, black beans and rice, cabbage and fried dumplings."
Nel smirked. She would always have a thing for Halibel's island accent. Most people took one look at the fierce blonde and refused to try getting past her tough exterior, but after six high school classes with the girl, Nel had been determined to know more about her. Not to mention gauge whether she liked girls or not because there was no denying the smoking hot looks Halibel possessed. With silky blonde hair, gemstone green eyes and a body full of curves and firmness in all the right places: the woman was flawless. Even her Trinidadian temper did nothing to hurt her image; in fact, if anything, it enhanced it.
"Did you get the cash?" Halibel asked, replacing the lid to the huge pot.
Nel nodded and hopped onto the kitchen counter. "Yup. A hundred stacks. I'll go to the safe in a few hours."
"OK," the blonde said as she moved towards the fridge and leaned against it. She was wearing the hell out of the white racer-back tank and black sweats hugging her body. After Nel's eyes were done traveling the length of the woman's voluptuous body, their gazes locked, green twinkling mischievously. "Like what you see?"
Nel nodded and smirked. "Of course I do."
Only a handful of people knew that she wasn't the ditz she presented to the public. That there was a method to her madness. Most would underestimate her if they thought she was an airhead, and in her line of work, it gave her an advantage.
"Oh, we got a call today," Halibel stated, interrupting her thoughts.
"Who was it?"
Instead of answering, the blonde went to the cordless phone on the kitchen counter and handed it to her. "She told me to call back when you got here."
"Nel, just call."
Nel sucked her teeth and grabbed the phone. She hated surprises and from the look Halibel called herself concealing, the phone call had most certainly been just that. Nel pulled up the caller ID log and stared at the most recent number, mouth slowly falling open. She turned to face her girlfriend, eyes wide.
"Is this for real? She hasn't called since we went our separate ways. I mean, the most we do is see each other in the streets in passing, or hanging out for a minute," she mumbled more to herself than Halibel. She connected the call and listened to the line ringing. It rang three times before a husky alto greeted her.
"Long time, old friend."
"Yeah, I could say the same. Is this business or pleasure?" Nel asked hesitantly.
"I don't do house calls for pleasure. Not professional. This, my friend, is most definitely business."
"Mm. What'd you have in mind?"
Nel glanced over at Halibel, who had an elegant blonde brow arched. Taking the hint, she quickly put the call on speaker.
"I guess you could actually say this is a mixture of business and a personal matter. A friend of ours has some really bad people messin' wit' him, and word on the street has it that some very big people have been killed in the past few days. It's a mess out there. I'm thinking of reviving the clean up crew."
The green-haired woman paused and chewed her bottom lip. The clean up crew had been a group of four females, whose reputation had earned them the collective nickname "Murder Mamis." Basically what they did was kill for hire. The money had to be right and the job had to be worth doing. Normally, they never mixed business with personal, but there had been one incident that had been the reason for their split. The woman on the other end of the phone had had to lay low with her partner for a while, but apparently, now she felt the need to dust off her holster and jump back into the saddle.
"You sure?" Nel asked carefully.
"Pretty sure. Meet me and Baby Girl at the Sand and Sea Diner tomorrow morning. Ten AM. I'll explain the details then. And don't be late, Nel. I know how you and Hal like to play in the mornings," the woman said with a chuckle.
"Whatever. As if you and Yoruichi are any better. We'll be there."
The connection was ended, leaving Nel excited and antsy. Even though she and Halibel had kept on in that line of work, having the old team together again would be one for the record books. Those that knew about them had speculated that they would never reform after that last incident, and truthfully, she'd begun to feel the same way. Things had been going smoothly anyway, but she would never turn down an opportunity to make even more money. She turned to Halibel as Tony Matterhorn's "Dutty Wine" shook the walls and rocked the floor.
She two-stepped her way over to her girlfriend and after placing a long kiss on her full lips, she sang to herself, "Coulda one a'dem, coulda two a'dem."
The strip club pulsated with colorful lights, bass bleeding from the speakers and women in various forms of scandalous undress sliding down silver poles. "Round of Applause" by Waka Flocka Flame and Drake had those same women shaking their asses in front of groups of men throwing bills and degrading names at them. Tousen watched as they soaked up the attention like new sponges, grin cutting his face in half. He carried a short glass filled with Remy Martin and cranberry juice in his left hand, and a half-smoked blunt in the other. The club was in Blood territory, so he could relax and party with no worries of being threatened. He dipped through groups of men milling about, ogling the strippers, sometimes swatting their asses as they danced by. He called those men thirsty. Didn't they know these females only wanted their money, not their time? Sure, some were down to fuck for an extra buck, but Tousen could guarantee none of the hoes wanted to fall in love.
He got to the VIP section and was noisily greeted by a team of his Blood brothers, among them his right hand man, Yammy. Yammy was a bit slow sometimes and definitely had an attitude problem, but he served his purpose in the long run. Tousen took a seat on the round, plush leather couch and sipped his drink from a red straw.
"Yo, buzzin'! I can't believe you offed G! Damn, that's some ill shit!"
He smirked and took a long pull from his blunt before responding. "Dude wasn't shit."
"That ain't true, but the fact you got him proves that you better than him," the same youngster that had spoken earlier continued. "So how many times you pop him?"
Tousen tilted his head to the side in an exaggerated imitation of hard thinking. Truth was, he knew exactly how many times G had been shot. He'd watched as six bullets made impact with the blue-haired man. There was no way he could have survived that.
He laughed and waved a hand dismissively. "'Bout six times, I think. I ain't really keep track."
"Whaaaat? Damn, man. That boy dead."
"Hell yeah," he grunted as he lifted his glass for another sip from his drink.
G was indeed dead. Tousen had made sure of that. The man hadn't moved from the stairs of that church after he'd crumbled, so knowing his job had been done, he'd left the Crip to die there alone. Next, Aizen wanted Slim's head on a platter. Not that the blond would be an issue at all, but still. It was a job, after all. After the news of G's death had spread, his reputation had soared and Aizen had even given him that promised promotion. Life was starting to look up now.
A dark-haired stripper with skin the color of butterscotch candy and hazel eyes sauntered over to him. She wore a neon yellow g-string and matching bikini top, body oil covering her curvy figure and making him lick his lips. He'd never seen this one before. Maybe he could convince her to meet him upstairs for a private session. She smiled at him, revealing a set of perfect teeth and cute dimples. She was gorgeous.
"What's your name?" she asked, boldly straddling his waist and causing him to lift his glass and blunt out of the way.
Still, he grinned in return. She smelled like sultry flowers, looked even better, and her voice was cute. "Call me T," he said.
Her charming smile spread as she started winding her hips in his lap. "T, huh? Like the drink?"
"Haha, that's cute. Wha's ya name?"
"Mmm," she hummed as she turned her back to his chest and pressed her ass to his groin. "Chardonnay."
Figures, he thought. However, Chardonnay happened to look her name, so he let it slide. He let her dance some more, her extremely round and soft bottom giving him a mean erection. He killed his drink, set the glass down beside him, then leaned forward.
"You wanna come wit' me upstairs, Chardonnay?"
She glanced over her shoulder, dimple winking at him and hazel eyes sparkling. "I thought you'd never ask," she cooed.
Tousen nodded and waited for her to vacate his lap before leading her towards the stairs in the back of the club. He nodded at the owner, who stood behind the bar supervising things. The brunet nodded back, but immediately after, his eyes darted around the club, keeping a look out for any incident that would cause him and his place trouble.
The dark-haired Blood allowed Chardonnay to climb the stairs in front of him, just so he could watch her ass move and her hips sway. She glanced back at him wearing an impish grin a few times before they reached the upper level. Her heels were about five inches high and looked mighty dangerous, but would look wonderful thrown over his shoulders while he fucked her. He grinned.
Today was a good day.