The last update I did definitely lacked body. I plan on updating it right after this, but I've been away for a while, so have a quick update.

No yaoi in this one either; the warnings are: Cursing, minor violence, OOC-ness, boy love, molestation, abusive relationships, and just a little bit of fluff.

There's a lot of OOC-ness, but please try to look past that.

This one is a little personal to myself, so I ask that you look at it with care.

Burning

The board breaks cleanly, not a splinter shed onto the floor. I flipped around and smashed through another piece of wood with a reverse sudo. Oh yeah. Hell yeah. This was the life. Blood, sweat, and more blood. That's right. Who needed love?

"Welcome to the studio. My name's Grimmjow. Grimmjow Jaegerjaques."

The memory scorches my heart, and I completely miss the next break. Burning. I'm burning. No, stop. Make it stop!

"Fix your foot. Turn it forwards. The sudo is chest level."

I flailed around, my sharp concentration broken by the pain. A pitiful excuse for a ridgehand has me curled up around the broken digits.

"Hey, how old are you?"

Age. That's another thing we don't need. He doesn't need to be twenty. I don't need to be sixteen. Love is love, right? Wrong.

Love is bull. Total freakin bull. We didn't need love. I didn't need love.

Right?

My ribs are melting now, my organs already incinerated. The memories come faster, everything about him goes flashing through my mind and fuels the fire.

"Don't forget, practice at home. That's the only way to get better at this stuff."

I practiced. Oh god did I practice. Tatsuki, she had to hold me back from killing myself over it. Every day I trained till my muscles couldn't hold me up anymore. And when I hit the dust, I smoldered with shame. The shame that I couldn't go longer.

Could you detect my improvement Grimmjow?

Could you tell I was trying?

Can you see that I am head over heels in love with you?

My entire body was lit up in flames, my heart blackened. Someone, please, save me! Or kill me and end this. I'm burning up in this hell.

Get up Kurosaki. You're not done yet, you fucking pansy.

I slowly stand. The next board breaks cleanly with a two-step jumping front kick. The flames have retreated. For now.

"Hey, Ichigo! Woah, someone made a mess."

Oh god no. Not now. "Don't look up," I think. "Don't give in."

"What's wrong Ichigo? Daamn, your hand's messed up! What were you doing, practicing on concrete?"

I look up and give my best smile, which is a scowl in this situation.

"Nah, sudos. I need to do a ridgehand for my next test. But they're not that easy, you know?"

He laughs.

"Damn right they're easy! When I took karate, they had to double up the boards to give me a challenge! You're just a wimp."

"Well, things must have been different when you took karate, Nnoitra. Because sudos are pretty damn hard."

"Maybe you should try manning up, pansy. I got twice as far as you are now in karate when I was half your age!"

He slaps me on the shoulder. A little too hard to be friendly. I feel him bend over, his face not five inches from my ear.

"It helps to practice a little more, too."

Oh god. The flames are back. But this time, they're ones of anger. I want to rip off his head and toss it to the animals. To show him all my practice, that I'm not the dirt on the bottom of his shoe he makes me out to be sometimes.

But I can't. I can't hurt my best friend. So, instead, I put on a fake smile.

"Maybe you're right! I'll work on it a little more!"

"That's the spirit! Here, I'll help you pick up the wood chips. If you scoop 'em up with a napkin or something, you can get 20 pieces in one swipe!"

We use his surprisingly successful technique to gather up all the chips and load the garbage bag into his truck. After we tie the bag down, I start to climb into the navigator's seat.

"Hey! Woah, hold on Ichigo."

I cringe a little, expecting another burst of criticism directed at myself.

"You want to drive? You've been getting pretty damn good lately in the parking lots. And you know your way around town better than I ever will."

"You mean it bro?"

He grins that impish grin of his, the one I know and like. This is the real Nnoitra.

"Why wouldn't I? Yer my friend. Would I lie to ya about this? I know how much you want a car, and taking Santa Teresa for a spin is the perfect way to show yer Dad that you can handle a car."

"Hell yes! Thanks!"

I clamber over to the driver's seat. After a few minutes of adjusting the chair to reach the controls(I swear, Nnoitra's part praying mantis or something, his legs are like stilts) I'm turning the key in the ignition. The engine roars to life with a glorious sound. I want to remember that sound forever.

"Damn! You handled Teresa well! I'm impressed!"

We're at my place, drinking sodas and flicking through the channels on my crappy 15 inch TV. I recall bargaining with a guy at the dump for it, then spending 5 months fixing it up to find out that it will function as a TV only when you're holding the antenna in the top left corner of my room. Right now, it's my turn to hold it up. Usually, it's my turn. Nnoitra normally has a reason why he can't do it.

But I don't mind. The compliment I just received is a rare occurrence, and it was worth holding up this stupid piece of wire. Right now, I'm seeing him as Nnoitra, my friend, not Nnoitra, the judgemental and critical bastard who says he's open minded.

"Thanks! I swear, I thought that I was going to die when that dog ran in front of the car."

He bends his head backwards and looks at me with an unreadable stare.

"So did I. You were freaking out. I was ready to tackle you and take the wheel."

Dammit, I'm losing him. The only thing I feel like doing after that comment is dissing myself though.

"I guess I was a little. But we're all alive now. So, I did a pretty damn good job if I do say so myself."

"I would have done better. You know why? Because I'm better than you."

Is he joking? The look on his face says no. I've lost him. The conversation has lost its pull, so I let it trail off and examine the ceiling corner.

"Did you hear me?"

"Yeah, I did."

"Sure you did. You've been really distant, you now that Ichigo? If you had been listening to me, you would have heard that I said I needed you to come with me to pick up new rims for Teresa."

I swear, he's been dead silent for the last fifteen minutes after saying he was better than me.

"I just happened to not hear you, that's all."

"So you didn't hear? Maybe ya should pay a little closer attention next time."

"Alright, I'll try."

My watch beeps and I curse, pretending to be annoyed.

"Sorry Nnoi, you have to go. I've got homework I need to do, Finals, you know? They're coming up soon."

He sighs and gets up off my couch.

"Killjoy. But whatever, I suppose I should go study too. See you tomorrow then?"

"Yep, sure. Tomorrow!"

Once I hear the door close I let out a small sigh of relief. I also feel a pang of guilt though.

Things have been awkward between us for the past two months or so. When I became friends with him, there was no trace of this bastardy side that he's developed towards me. Now, everything I do must be judged and criticized by him. I'm looking for the old him, I really am. Seeing his bad side is really scorching me though.

Stop it asshole! He's your best friend, right? I'm sure he has only good thoughts about you.

I mean, he voices all of your negatives.

Go study for finals, you pig and stop wallowing in self-pity.

I'm right. I really do need to study for finals. There's no time for me to sit and bitch like a girl.

….

Looking in the mirror, I adjust my shirt and belt. Today's casual Thursday in karate, which means we can wear a studio or karate shirt that we got at an official competition. My uniform is my brown belt, slightly baggy white pants, and a gray shirt that says 'excellence' on the back in Korean.

I breathe in slowly and let it out after holding it for a few seconds. Then I adjust my belt again. Tonight's one of the three nights a week that I get to see him. And I don't want to look bad.

"My son! Are you ready to leave? I have something for you!"

I have .5 seconds to dodge the flying kick I know is coming.

"Dad! What the hell!?"

He smashes into my wall. Honestly, my dad's getting a little old for this. I could hear him coming up the stairs before he even said anything, prior to before, when he would give me a nice bruise in the head for my carelessness.

"I just wanted to tell you! Your friend stopped by and said you should come to his house tomorrow night for your birthday! He has something planned!"

My heart catches a little in my chest. This could be a night to be remembered, or an alternate version of hell that I'm forced to endure.

"Alright. I'll be there. And yeah, I'm ready to go."

Tonight, I'm going to see Grimmjow.

In the car, my heart thumps and I feel a little rush of adrenaline every time I think it. By the time we arrive at the dojo, my blood is pumped with enough adrenaline that I could flip Santa Teresa with one hand.

As I open the door, I see him working with the kids in the beginner's class, showing them how to do a front kick. I remember doing the same thing when I was 14. Now, I've moved up to the advanced class. For a short time, we were in the same class. Then, he moved up to the black and blue belts class, and I was left behind being only a green stripe.

He turns when the bell jingles, and we make eye contact for about 2 seconds. I turn my head away fast when I see his eyes though. I'm afraid that if I look for too long, he will be able to see that I'm dead gay and have fallen for him hard.

Grabbing my attendance card, I walk over to where the other advanced belts are talking to each other. Of course, I don't join in on the conversation. It's not that I'm antisocial. I simply have nothing to say to them.

"Alright, advanced class! Line up!"

We all reply with a "Yes, sir!" and scramble into position. The head sensei takes our attendance cards from us to be stamped by the kind volunteer lady who works in the office.

Grimmjow walks to the side and lets the head instructor lead the class. Being a blue belt, he can't be an instructor, but he can be on the leadership team, which is basically the pre-instructor team.

Class starts easily, with only 20 pushups and easy stretches. Most likely, tonight is a low cardio night.

I'm right. We're doing self-defense steps this class. As I work with my partner, a sharp-witted girl named Rukia, I watch Grimmjow very intently out of the corner of my eye. He's walking around all the pairs, making sure their technique and power are good.

As he nears my group, I suck in my breath and focus on number four, a technique in which the goal is to pop out your opponent's elbow. Of course, we don't do that here in the studio. But in real life, nobody here would hesitate to protect themselves or others.

"He's right behind me he's right behind me he'srightbehindmeBehindMe-"

Grimmjow leans over and grabs my hand, and I swear, my heart stops.

"Nice technique. I can tell ya've been workin' Ichigo."

He leans in closer. By now, I'm about to short out with anticipation.

"But, here. If you twist their wrist and then press yer thumb in here-"

Rukia instinctively pulls her arm away from him.

"Ow! What did you do?"

"I pressed down on your finger nerve. Hurts like heck if you hold it there for around 3 seconds longer. It's not exactly in the book, but it'll help ya out a lot if yer outmatched in size on the street."

"Yes sir!" We say in unison. He grins.

"Keep workin' on yer technique guys. Rukia, yours is good too."

I turn back to Rukia as I hear him walk away. Numbers 5-10 are techniques to defend from behind, so I turn around to give her easier access to my shirt collar.

Just one look Kurosaki. That's all you get.

I look over at him as I turn around to twist Rukia's wrist. He's helping out a girl named Lilynette now, showing her how to take down a guy three times her size. The flames crackle a little, but I manage to keep them under control.

After class ends, I'm grabbing my sparring bag when I feel a tap on the shoulder. I turn, expecting someone telling me that I'm blocking them from their bag. I see Grimmjow instead,

"Nice job in karate tonight Ichigo. All that training is paying off. But-" He holds up my free hand." Ya don't need to kill yerself to get better."

I control my rushing emotions as he runs his thumb over my raw knuckles.

"You're right, but I'm trying to train for my next test. They come up out of nowhere, you know?"

He laughs a little and my heart leaps. I made him laugh!

"I do. But make sure yer in top condition! There's a lot of talent in ya Ichigo, I wouldn't want to see you kill yerself to perfect it."

"I'll try not to sir."

He lets go of my hand and rubs my hair. There's a small height difference between us, and he reaches my head easily.

"Don't call me sir outside of class. Call me Grimmjow. It's my name, I wouldn't want to see it be upstaged by something so common."

I grin, but it's fake. He's touching my head, and I feel like a kid. It's what he seems to see me as anyways. I might as well be 14 again, he would treat me the same way as he does now.

Someday, this man is going to break my heart.

….

"Thanks Dad. I'll call you when I need you to pick me up."

It's Friday night, and I'm dressed casual in a graphic t-shirt and jeans. Today, I'm 17, the same age as Nnoitra. I didn't feel that different, honestly. The highlight of my day was knowing that the age gap between Grimmjow and I was just lessened. Until he turns 21 in a few months, that is.

I wonder what he's doing right now. Practicing, most likely. His form is unrivaled in our studio. When he does his forms, everyone sort of stops what they're practicing and watches. Especially myself.

"Ichigo! Hey, get in here you asshole!"

"Hey Nnoi!"

I jog up to the door. Nnoitra lives in an apartment that's a few block away from Oriheme's. He's on the third floor, but the doorman knows me by now and getting up there takes all of 45 seconds.

When I open the door(I know where he puts the key) he's lighting the candles on the ugliest orange cupcake I've ever seen. It's a running joke between us, the ugly pastries. It's been a joke ever since I got him a repulsive looking little cake that tasted like it was made from the tears of angels. Now, the worse looking the pastry, the better it should taste.

By the look of this one, it's another angel tear cake.

I lick my fingers and pinch out the candle flame like a total badass, and slice the cupcake in half. We don't need to communicate to know that I get the larger half, it being my birthday. Eating the cake half takes less than 2 seconds. It tasted great.

"Damn! Where'd you find this?"

He wiggles his frosting coated fingers.

"Family recipe. Secret ingredients. The works."

"Shit, I didn't just eat a crack cupcake, did I?"

"Possibly. I suppose we'll find out in a few minutes. If you're hanging off my ceiling fan, then yes, it was a crack cake. If you're helping me beat Assassin's creed 3, then you're a sober 17 year old badass."

As it turns out, the cake was crack free, and we got through the first half of AC3. As we get up and stretch, I walk over to his wall and trace the hole in it. This hole was our work, thanks to the peanut-coke-mentos cannon experiment. Now, those were some good times….

"Ya know somethin' Ichigo?"

"Hm?"

"17's the age of…..consent."

"Ha, really?"

I turn around to face him, but instead of being on the couch, he's right behind me. His hand slams against the wall and I'm sandwiched between them. I shift backwards from him, but he shifts along with me so his hips are brushing against my stomach.

"Funny joke Nnoitra, this is a joke, right?"

The look in his eyes tells me that, once again, this is not a joke.

His other hand clamps itself around my mouth, and I writhe in panic as he sticks a knee between my legs.

"Why would I joke about liking ya, Ichi?"

His hand on the wall wraps itself around my ass and lifts me up, moving his other leg between mine and making it so that his weight is keeping me bent in a U-shape against the wall.

I'm panicking. Full out panicking. I thrash around, desperately trying to get him off of me. So much for all that practice. I can't recall a single technique in my hysteria.

"Save me! Someone, please, help me! Grimmjow!"

Grimmjow's the first thing that comes to mind when I think hero, and I'm driven into an even deeper level of fright.

"Grimmjow! Help!"

Nnoitra runs his hand up my shirt, moving the one on my mouth down to tease at my jeans.

"Hold still ya wriggly little idiot. Trust me, you'll like this. We both know ya swing the other way."

He splays his hand out across my chest and slips the other one down my pants. The little animal trapped inside me has probably died of fright by now, and it's been replaced by a sense of helplessness.

"L-let me go Nnoitra! You're just my friend! Being gay doesn't mean I go for any guy!"

Nnoitra sneers at me and his hand slips into my underwear. I gasp and smash my head against the wall.

"Ya sure? Because yer getting pretty turned on right now, by what I feel."

His sneer turns into a perverted smile and his probing fingers find my hardening member.

"Ah! Stop it! Even if we are both of age, this is still rape! What if your parents see?"

"They're gone for the night. I was left behind to hold down the fort while they went on a pleasure trip. Now stop talking and give in, god dammit!"

He's stroking me now, and I'm going crazy with the forced pleasure. Weakly, I claw at the hand exploring my chest.

"Help, please…Help! Someone! Anyone! Help!"

"Shut it bitch!"

"Help!"

My cries are left unanswered, and Nnoitra starts to peel my pants off.

In a moment of desperation, I scream,"Grimmjow!"

Nothing happens.

But what was I expecting? Grimmjow to burst through his window to come save me?

"Heh, looks like yer alone. God Ichigo, why are yer pants so tight?!"

The whole situation is overwhelming, and I feel myself go limp with submission as he pulls my pants halfway off. Maybe if I beg, he'll go easy on me….

The door bangs open.

"Someone call for help?"

I can't help it. My eyes well up in tears. I would know that voice anywhere.

"Oh fuck, what the hell do ya think yer doin' ta that kid?!"

Nnoitra growls possessively and smushes me up against the wall.

"He's my partner. Stay out of this. You have no right to be in here."

"I have the right to help out someone who's being molested!"

I don't see him move, but I fall to the ground as I hear the crack of a very painful roundhouse kick. My clothes are rumpled, and I'm exposed, but I really don't give a shit anymore. He wants to see? Let him see. It doesn't matter anyways.

"Gods, you're a mess. C'mon, let's go."

He picks me up bridal style, and I'm too stunned to care. I was just saved by the least likely person ever. Part of me feels like I'm in a shoujo manga, where the heroine is saved by the hot guy and it's happy ever after. Another part wonders if it really was a crack cake and if I'm hallucinating.

"So, you know that guy?"

"M-my best friend. Well, was."

"Uh huh. Sometimes it's the people closest to us that betray us. Others, it's the least known person who turns out to be the lead."

I start to twist out of his arms.

"Look, I'm sorry for getting you into this. I can go home now, and we can pretend nothing ever happened. Life goes on."

He grips me tighter and opens the door to what I assume is his home with his foot.

"Bullshit. Not when I've finally got ya out of class."

I'm tossed onto the couch and he sits down next to me. My heart is running faster than a champion athlete, and I fight to stop it from bursting out of my chest. As casually as I can, I adjust my pants.

"For what? Extra practice? More pushups?"

"For this."

He pulls me in by my shirt and I get my first kiss on the lips. We pull away, and I can't feel anything anymore. Not that I care. I smile, a real smile, and shift closer to him. Not touching him, but close.

"There's this thing called an age difference, right? It's what keeps most people from being called pedophiles."

"Nonsense. It's only 2 and-a-half years. It'll be nothing in the future."

Still shy to physical contact after being molested by Nnoitra, I lean over and kiss him on the cheek.

"They don't tell you this in the book, but I couldn't give a fuck about ages."

"They also don't say that number 15 in self defense is good for-"He twists my shoulder in a certain way and I'm spun into his lap. "Romance."

As we kiss, I feel the sweet coolness of relief. The flames have been extinguished.

Maybe we do need a little bit of love sometimes.

Yep, it's long. But I wanted there to be lots of plot in this one. I hope you remember this story, and do so with good thoughts.

Now, to update the other chaper ;_;