"O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?"

-William Shakespeare, Romeo And Juliet (II, II, 33)

Ichigo had narrowly escaped that flailing mass of Kiego as fast as his legs would take him, but his hyperactive acquaintance wasn't the only one acting strange. Apparently Ichigo had a massive gob of toothpaste or God knows what else hanging off his face, which he continually wiped at, but to no avail. Everyone kept staring at him; girls giggled and pointed, guys whispered with those oh-so-obvious scorns floating through the hallways along with the crowds. He approached his usually deserted locker if for no other reason than to stick his head in it and disappear for a few moments regardless of what sort of creatures might be crawling around in there due to its prolonged dormancy.

"Kurosaki, what exactly are you doing?" Uryu Ishida had the most dissatisfied mask over his features.

The aforementioned let go of the combination lock forcefully, giving up on any possibility of cracking the forgotten code.

"I can't get into my stupid locker." He clarified, gesturing to the accused mechanism in the most obscene manner he could muster.

"For starters, that would be my locker. Yours is fifteen sixty three, in case you've forgotten." He paused; Ichigo wasn't looking at him while he spoke. A vein pulsed on his forehead. "Not that it's any of my business, of course, but did you know that your face is a disconcerting shade of red?"

"Yeah, well," he flushed deeper. "everyone keeps staring at me like I've got a cat on my head or something. Hey, is there something on my face?"

Is this person's scoring really just beneath mine on the school transcripts? What a complete imbecile. Uryu ruminated privately.

"No, nothing."

Something about Ishida always made Ichigo think he was being mentally criticized, but for some reason Renji hung around the guy, so they were indirectly 'friends' and had to deal with each other. He watched uncomfortably as his pseudo-friend turned his back and traveled in the opposite direction.

Ichigo was aspiring to find a less disconcerting person to help him, or better, a mirror, when he heard a sound not unlike that of a rampant rhino crashing its way through the hallway.

A rhino would have been a more welcome sight. Blue hair was not on his list of favorite things to have forced in his face so early in the morning. He sighed and rubbed his eyes before reluctantly and stupidly moving toward the source.

"...One more time, and I'll rip them off." Ichigo just caught the tail-end of whatever the delinquent was spitting at his latest victim; another overly-cocky, sneering ruffian like himself who was currently under Grimmjow's pitiless hands and against a locker. The kid didn't look as high and mighty as he usually did with those cruel aqua eyes screaming murder at such close proximity, and Ichigo watched him go limp with withdrawal as he was shoved into the metal one last time and released. A warning, Grimmjow's posture promised. It chased away the last of the spectating redheads sleepiness and he felt it raise his hackles minutely, deliciously, and he understood why he had migrated in this direction.

"A little early for a kitten fight, don't you think?" Ichigo drawled, arms crossed and head tilted, deciding to make himself apparent as the released prey made its escape.

There was no lack of heat in his enemy's glare as those sharp eyes turned to him, but none of the usual playful hatred surfaced. Grimmjow only grimaced at the sight of his rival, and Ichigo stood his ground for a short moment before the discomfort of the unexpected sunk in and he shifted his weight uneasily.

Grimmjow was...waiting for something, the redhead realized, but he had no idea what that something was. They both knew who always made the first move; it had never been an issue before. That could only mean he wasn't searching for a fight. And that was not the person Ichigo knew, not the blue haired asshole Ichigo loved to hate.

The bell rang.

Grimmjow turned his back and sauntered away like nothing had even occurred.

It was all very...anticlimatic. And though Ichigo didn't was to admit it; disconcerting. He followed the crowds through the hallways anyway, though he did so mindlessly and keeping his thoughts on the encounter on his way to class.

He plopped down at a desk as his gaze slid down to the clenched, shaking fists on his desk. He'd been counting on a release of tension, and he hadn't gotten it. He forced himself to relax before he would have to say it actually mattered to him. He wouldn't give that bastard the satisfaction of knowing he felt pent-up; the knowledge would almost certainly be used against him. He heaved a sigh and propped himself up on an elbow, aspiring to pay attention to an absolutely fucking fascinating lecture about the activation-synthesis theory.

Grimmjow didn't know whether to worship himself or ram a knife straight through his own stomach. He wasn't even sure if the news he heard roaming the hallways that morning was true, but just the thought of it was enough to make him want to watch something (or better, someone) die slowly and painfully. Slamming that dickhead into a locker a few times was enough to lift his mood a bit without getting himself in any real deep shit.

And then Kurosaki himself had shown up, the high and mighty spreader of those disgusting rumors. He should have known; the words on everyone's mouths sounded like a schoolgirl's wet dream, so naturally it was Kurosaki himself who had fabricated the stories.

But Grimmjow didn't have time to put his realizations into words, because he just happened to glance down whilst measuring Kurosaki up and he felt suddenly distracted.

On the one hand, he didn't mind seeing this much more of Kurosaki's legs than usual, and those jeans did his muscled track physique some serious justice. He almost made a point to compliment him in the most demeaning manner he could muster, until he understood where they had come from. That cocksucker Renji had loaned him clothing, which had to mean he had slept at his house. How Kurosaki couldn't see that his best friend wanted to fuck him over a table, Grimmjow couldn't understand. The Berryhead was smarter than that, usually. He felt the tingle of hatred (was that the right word?) flow down his limbs and noticed that Kurosaki wasn't making any snide remarks about the stories he had spread.

He continued to stare at his foe, challenge emanating from a central place in his body, but Kurosaki looked as clueless (and bewildered) as if Renji had told him his deep, dark, not-so-secret.

If Kurosaki wanted to play stupid, so be it. He'd beat the shit out of him for it later, anyway.

He turned just as the bell rang, walking away for once in his life. The feeling of leaving the bastard hanging in the air like that was almost as gratifying as insulting him.

Ichigo had suffered through one hell of a fucking day, and he felt like a hornet who had been trapped inside a cup and shook around for a few hours. So when he opened the rusty side door of the crumbling drama building, that obnoxious blue head made him heave a sigh of sweet relief. Unfortunately, Grimmjow wasn't looking up at him or grinning stupidly to himself or even pestering innocent people like he usually took so much pleasure in doing. He was pouting. Arms crossed, head down, mumbling-to-himself pouting.

Well, isn't that just fucking peachy? The one time in my life when I'd be happy to initiate and he's throwing a fit like a little kid who can't have his candy. I should just go over there and show him who the fuc-

"Oiii, Romeoooo!" Renji whooped from across the room. He was shortly tackled into a crushing hug he hadn't expected. "You little bastard, stealing my role!" He suffered a few joking punches before Byakuya sternly asked "the class" (while looking directly at the pair of redheads) to take their seats.

"The class" obliged.

"So wait," Ichigo hissed over his shoulder when Byakuya wasn't looking. "I got Romeo?"

"You hadn't heard?" Renji seemed surprised. "Yeah. You got Romeo, I got Paris, and you'll never fucking gue-"

Byakuya whirled and pointed those silver daggers straight at his most admiring student.

"Abarai. My office after class. Distance yourself from Kurosaki-san."

Renji flushed with the most dignity he could retain, moving his chair out of hearing distance.

Ichigo could only smirk as his friend endured the ultimate punishment.

So, Renji got Paris, huh? Ichigo mused, his mood a bit lifted by the mere thought of acting onstage with him.

Ichigo squinted to see the neat penwork on the paper behind the teacher's desk, but it was obviously meant to be read up close. He could vaguely make out Renji's name near the middle, his up top, and right under that...

He choked, stifling it to a faint sneezing sound before he could get detention next to Renji.

Juliet - Grimmjow Jeagerjaques

His eyes flew behind him, head whirling to the far corner of the room where Grimmjow was sulking.

There is a God. And he's on my side.

Byakuya was the one to break his journey to Nirvana. "Now that you hopefully have an understanding of the setting, please come collect your scripts. Use the rest of your class time wisely." With that, he placed the stack of booklets on a table up front and retreated into his office.

There was a moment of soft chatter among the unaffected until Ichigo loudly, obnoxiously, uncaringly burst out laughing so hard tears were running from his eyes.

Most of the students looked at each other nervously. They knew what was going to happen, and they dreaded it.

"Just what the FUCK is so Goddamned hilarious, you flaming shitball?" Grimmjow roared, stomping across the room, knowing exactly what Ichigo thought was so fucking funny.

Uryu silently stood, moving his belongings out of the way of the looming path of destruction.

"BAHAHA OH MY GO-HAHAHA-Oomph!" A quick shove off his chair stifled the laughter, but only momentarily. Ichigo got on one knee, offering his hand up dramatically. "Oh, Grimmjow! Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, si-AHAHAHA OH MY FUCKING- Oomph!"

The sarcasm/laughter/pain cycle continued only until Grimmjow grabbed hold of that soft orange hair and pulled until Kurosaki's tear-streaked face was mere inches from his.

"You listen to me, you little fuck-tart,"

His grip strength is ridiculous, Ichigo thought, caught in between pain and mirth.

His skin smells like peaches, Grimmjow's mind noted without his permission.

"Wasn't it you who was going on and on about how fucking challenging this role was going to be?" He spat, nose crunched in disgust. "Well, you little fucker, I'm going to be the best motherfucking Juliet the school, you, or even professor tight-ass in there has ever seen. Just don't be surprised when you're crying over Juliet's death and smear your girly-ass makeup all over the place."

Ichigo had nothing to say to that. He wasn't surprised Grimmjow could make something so ridiculously hopeless into a challenge worth watching.

That vice-grip was released, and Grimmjow snatched a copy of the script on his way out the door. Ichigo's traitorous eyes stole a glance at the other's ass before it disappeared from view.

"Damn." Even Ichigo hadn't been sure how he'd meant it.


I do appreciate you hanging in there for this update.

So, what do you think could POSSIBLY happen next? ;)