Hey everyone! Sorry this chapter has taken just as long as the other but it is just about twice as long and I started college and have been really busy XD I hope you all enjoy it. It is a happy chapter and for all the songs that are in this chapter, I have written their names and artists, so if you want to look them up, you can. C:

Just so you know I enjoyed writing this chapter way too much. C;

NOTE: I apologise for the way I write Shiro's speech, I know it sounds lazy, but I can't be bothered to make him sound like he misses letters, and I like him better when he speaks properly. Please don't hate. C: Also, after proofreading this, I found that I kinda changed my writing style in a way. So if you're confused, PM me. Thankyou! Enjoy!

Chapter 7

It has been a few days now, without incident. Ichigo has been going to band practise with much enthusiasm and always has a smile on his face.

Shiro was beginning to feel the weight and responsibilities of looking after Ichigo and worrying for him, slowly lift off his shoulders. Every day, when Ichigo beams at him before leaving for work and his new friends, he could feel just a little more weight lift. It made him feel freer to do other things without having to worry about what could happen to his friend while he was gone.

One thing, though, was still sitting on his shoulders, making more weight as time went on, almost undoing his feeling of freedom. It was the face that the band or Grimmjow or at least one of the girls didn't know about what happened to Ichigo. Granted, Ichigo wants to put everything behind him and forget all that's happened, but it hasn't been long enough for him to be healed completely and so he's not out of danger of another attack or flashback. Something could still happen to set him off and at least one of the band members must know, so if something does happen they can understand what set him off and then they would be able to assess the situation properly to attend to Ichigo and sort everything out sufficiently.

Shiro had decided that when Ichigo came home he would ask him to confide in at least one band member.

It was nearing the time Ichigo normally came home, so he decoded that he would make his friend his hot chocolate while he was making his own coffee. As soon as he placed the two steaming mugs on the coffee table a "Tadaima!" came from the front door, signalling Ichigo's return home. Shiro doesn't mind his Japanese quirks as they are cute and they suit him so well. After years of living with him, he's gotten used to these quirks and knew what most of them mean. "Tadaima" means "I'm home" and Ichigo says it always after arriving home from somewhere else.

"Kaerinasai, Ichi, you made it just in time. I made ya hot chocolate," he said, walking over to the red head to give him a hug.

"Thanks. Umm, what's the hug for? I don't mean that I don't appreciate it, but it is a little odd for you to do it without reason," Ichigo said, squeezing his friend and finding contentment in the embrace.

"Ah, it's just that I'm happy fer ya 'n' that ya 'ave become so happy an' bright so quickly. It makes me feel better," Shiro stated standing back from the embrace. The drummer smiled his heart warming smile and plopped onto the couch, taking a sip of his drink.

"Yeah, I have haven't I?" he said snuggling further into the couch. "Oh! I didn't tell you, did I?" He yelled, sitting upright and almost spilling his chocolate. Shiro stared blankly, clearly confused. He saw the excited gleam in the red heads eyes, so he prompted him to go on before he burst. Ichigo sat further on the edge of the sofa and proceeded to tell his story.

When he was finished, he still seemed slightly embarrassed, be more excited that the band members liked his voice.

"That's great Ichi! Ya might be doin' duets wit' Grimmjow in tha near future!" Shiro jeered. Ichigo blushed.

"Nah, I don't think it'll happen anytime soon. I don't know them that well yet. But it could be another dream come true if it ever happens," he smiled, gulping down the remains of his drink and sighing in content. His roommate did the same with his coffee and settled on the lounge. Shiro didn't want to be the one to take that content smile from his friend, but he needed to bring up this topic.

"Ichi, I need ta talk ta ya about somethin' important," he started. As he knew it would, his friend's smile vanished.

"What it is Shi?" the red head asked.

"Something's been bothering me fer a few days now. It's...Ya need ta tell one o' them Ichigo. Now before ya start, listen. Ya not completely out o' danger fer another attack, but just incase it happens again and I'm not able ta be there, ya have others there ya trust ta help ya. Although I 'aven't been through what ya have, I do know ya need ta confide in other people. If it makes ya feel better, I'll meet tha others and tell ya if I like 'em or not. Ya know my judge o' character is pretty accurate and from what I've heard on tha phone, I like Grimmjow. He seems responsible. So if ya want me ta meet 'em, I'll do it if it means that ya gain more friends ya can put ya trust in. But ya need to tell at least one of 'em. What happens when ya go on tour?" he finished. Ichigo seemed to stop what he was about to say and actually think about the possibility of going somewhere Shiro wasn't. He didn't realise how much he relied on him. He was mildly shocked.

"If we go on tour, you have to come. I'll make sure of it," he replied.

"But what if I'm not allowed? There is always a small chance that I might not."

"Yeah, I know. You're right. You always are. It's actually a little freaky sometimes. The thing is, who do I trust? I feel that I can trust them all, but as you know I have terrible judging skills. I would feel so much better if you did meet them and then told me what you thought," he admitted.

"If that's what it'll take, I'll do it. Any ideas about when I should meet 'em? Of course unless ya want me ta come ta practice with ya..?" Shiro commented.

"Well it doesn't bother me, but I'm sure they wouldn't let in a stranger. What if he had a barbecue? Here? I mean, we have the public pool downstairs where the barbecues are. So we could have a pool party...of sorts. If you want, you could invite your 'friends'? Just to make it more party-like?" The red head suggested. Shiro raised his eyebrows in surprise.

"That is actually a good idea. Ya well over due for some fun, work doesn't count. Oh! An' we 'ave that new spa next ta tha pool too. Oooh baby, I can see it now. It's done! So when would ya like ta hold tha par'y then? Personally, I think it should be as soon as possible. That way ya can get yer arse inta gear and tell one of 'em, and then ya can relax, be yerself and feel like yer not hidin' anythin'," he suggested.

"Yeah, I agree. If I don't do it soon, it will probably be never. Umm, so how about this weekend? So, two days from now? Saturday?" Ichigo asked. "Oh! We'll need drinks and food and stuff!" he added, beginning to feel both nervous and excited.

"Don't worry about any of that. I'll do it. Hmm, we'd better get yer Disney movie collection out..." the roommate began to ponder, then got another idea. "Oh, an idea just occurred ta me. If it's okay with ya, ya should invite 'em ta sleepover. 'Cause if they drink, they can't drive home, an' so need somewhere ta sleep. We have room. The couch in here can fit one...or two if they are comfortable lying on top of each other, the other couch in the T.V room, my bed maybe free, depending if I go home with anyone, so that's another two, then we have tha blow up double bed and we have a few sleeping bags so whoever wants ta, they can sleep on tha floor."

"That's not a bad idea, Shi. It would definitely be convenient for them. I just hope they think more of me than I think they do, so they will be willing to come. Cool, now everything is sorted. All I wanna do now, is eat and sleep," the drummer said, getting up off the lounge.

"Hey, you stay there. I'll cook tonight, ya deserve ta relax. Let me wait on ya."

The rest of the night went smoothly. The dinner was well prepared which surprised Ichigo, but that earned him a yelling from Shiro.

"I know how ta cook, ya know! I'm not completely useless."

After dinner, Ichigo went straight to bed and Shiro cleaned up.

The next night when Ichigo came home from work, he relayed everything about his day to Shiro.

"So yeah, everything's going smoothly. The new song is pretty much done; we just need to keep practising. Grimmjow has more songs he's done for us to hear, to see which ones we'd put in the album. He said he's short on songs as he hasn't had any massive inspiration recently. We need twelve songs for the album. He had twelve, but he threw two of them away as he hated them. He said they lacked soul. So he has ten now, but we obviously won't choose them all, so he's going to do some late nights to try and fill in the gaps.

"Oh! They all said yes to Saturday. I don't think Uluquiorra is going to stay though, but you never know. He might change his mind," he finished. He lead down on the couch, head in Shiro's lap and his feet over the arm and his friend's fingers brushing through his bright hair.

"That's good then. Most of my 'friends' said they're comin' too," his friend replied, then brightened up as an idea sprung up in his head. "Hey, with tha song shortage, why don't ya offer your's to Grimmjow? I'm sure he wouldn' mind an' it would be some weight off his shoulders." Ichigo sat up, his mouth open.

"How do you know about my songs? I've never told you that I write..." he asked astounded.

"Ichi, when it's my turn ta do tha washing; make sure ya check yer pockets before ya put yer dirty clothes in the laundry. I found yer songs in yer pockets. And I'm really insulted ta think that ya haven' shared any of 'em wit me. Anyway, I have found, umm, what were they called...Oh yeah, Bullet, Crawling and Pain. Now, I assume ya wrote these when...ya know, tha other him was in tha picture, so I'm glad that ya've put yer emotions inta somethin' productive. Although, these are a bit dark, I quite like 'em," his friend said approvingly.

"Oh, sorry Shi. It's just a hobby. I didn't think that they were actually good. Wait...Bullet? What were the other two? Pain and Crawling? I...I don't remember writing any songs with those titles," he commented.

"It's alright, Ichi. Tha songs are in yer room, on yer dresser where I put 'em last. Lemme go get 'em," Shiro offered, and disappeared into his friend's room.

When he returned, he was holding folded pieces of paper.

"Here," he said, dropping them in Ichigo's lap and sitting back down on the couch. The red head opened them up, one after the other and reading the contents.

"Woah, these are actually good. But I still don't remember writing them though," he said. "Do I sleepwalk?" he suddenly asked.

"Er...umm...I don' think so. Why?" Shiro replied confused.

"Well maybe my subconscious wrote these. I was obviously suppressing too much or something," he stated, then sighed. "Do I have to give them to Grimmjow?"

"No, but I think that it would help Grimmjow. 'Cause instead of havin' ta rush ta make some more songs, he can relax an' not have ta stress. These could make all tha difference, if they all like 'em, but you'll be back ta where ya are if they don'. No one loses anythin'. It was just an thought." the roommate reasoned. Ichigo nodded in agreement.

"Yeah, I understand. Alright, I'll see what they think. The worst case scenario is that they don't like my songs. That is all. Nothing worse could happen," he said nervously.

"It's alright Ichi. They shouldn' be dicks about it if they don' like them. But if they do, well, good fer ya an' tha band. There is nothing to be afraid of," his friend reassured.

"I'll think about it. Thanks again, Shi, for helping me. I know it's a menial thing, but for everything you've done for me, I am seriously grateful," he praised.

"Yeah, yeah, no more mushy stuff tonight. I'll take dinner duty again an' ya can sit back an' relax," Shiro announced. Ichigo smiled warmly.

"You're being overly nice. Dinner last night and tonight? What's up?"

"Nothin's up. It's just nice ta do somethin' fer ya just 'cause I want ta an' not 'cause yar in no fit state ta do anythin', let alone cooking. It's nice ta see ya all relaxed an' with this calm air about ya. It's refreshin'," Shiro smiled back, telling the truth. The red head look surprised.

"Oh, thanks...again. I don't know what I would do without you. I'm glad that you're relaxed, you look more handsome when you smile and aren't worried all the time," he said honestly. Shiro moved close to Ichigo and hugged him.

"Ya welcome. I wouldn't know what I would do without me either," he joked. Then he sat back surprised. "What? Handsome? Do I really look handsome?"

"Of course. Don't you think so? I'm surprised you haven't got a partner yet. By 'partner' I mean girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever and not some flings and booty calls," the drummer said.

"Well, I've never put much thought inta what I think about myself. I've been too busy looking after ya. As fer the booty calls, I met 'em at bars an' other such places. I only call 'em so I can blow off steam an' relax. The only one, who I don't sleep with, is Orihime. She's sweet an' innocent an' naïve. I've never had any real interest in tha ones I do sleep with though. But, to be honest, I don't know why I haven't got anyone. I just go with the flow, I don't go out looking for someone to love, but then again, I don't put myself out there either," Shiro replied. Ichigo's face was that of surprise and sadness.

"I obviously still don't realise how much I rely on you Shi, and how much that affects you," he began, gratefulness, but also deep sadness, swimming in the depths of his eyes. "Shi...I'm...I'm...speechless. I'm so sorry for what I put you through. I promise I will try to not rely on you as much as I have and I will put my faith in my new friends, not just you. Then, you won't have to worry about me anymore."

"Ichi, It's okay. It isn't your fault. I wouldn't have changed anything if I could. You are my only family and you are my best friend. I would do whatever it takes to keep you healthy, sane and happy. I would do anything for you, and, if the time ever arises, you would do the same for me," his friend reassured him.

"Of course, Shi! I would do anything for you! I would go to the moon and back, if that's what you wanted," he confirmed.

"I know you would and that's why you are my best friend and I love you. As long as we have each other's backs, there is nothing to be sorry for or to worry about. Now let's stop taking about depressing stuff. You just need to focus on tomorrow. You're off work aren't you?" Shiro asked.

"Wait, tomorrow? Today's Friday already? Jeeze that's gone fast. Yeah I'm off," he answered.

"Alright, what do we have to do? We need to clean the apartment, we need to go shopping for supplies; sausages, burgers..." the roommate trailed off, writing a list on a small note pad he found on the coffee table. "We also need buns, sauce, wait we still have some HP, barbecue and ketchup left. So what else?"

"Um, beer, lager, tequila, lemonade, Solo, vodka, coke, pasito, fanta..." the red head supplied as Shiro kept writing.

"Oh! We need snacks too. Umm, chips, lollies, biscuits and I that should do us," the roommate added, finishing writing the last words. As he put the pad back on the table, two similar growling noises started. Both men put their hands to their stomachs and burst into laughter.

"It seems all this talk of food is making us hungry. I'll go start dinner now then," Shiro said, standing and making his way to the kitchen.

Ichigo walked into the shops, another list in his hands. He had already been to the shops for the food and drinks a few hours prior, but while he was getting everything set up and putting things away that needed refrigeration, Shiro had suddenly declared that they had forgotten somethings and so he sent Ichigo back to the shops.

He looked at the list as he walked inside, reading each item.

"Party poppers? Glitter? What the fuck? Streamers and more alcohol. What the hell do we need these for? What are we gunna do with more alcohol? We've got heaps already, surely we won't drink it all..." he sighed and began his second shopping trip.

Finally, after the hassle of finding the party items, Ichigo was done and was late. People should be showing up now.

For some reason, the items Ichigo needed were not in the aisle that specified those items, so after searching aisle after aisle and finding nothing, he finally resorted to asking an employee. He was then told that they had run out and so they needed to get them from the storage room. The alcohol was no problem to find as it was where it's always held.

Sighing out of relief, he loaded his car and got in, ready to go home.

Ichigo walked up to his door and opened it.

"Tadaima!" he called out to Shiro.

"Kaerimasu," a deep voice resounded. He stopped in his tracks, confused, but decoded to joke to mask his confusion.

"Your voice has suddenly become unusually deep in these past few minutes. Have you finally hit puberty?" he said, and then a loud laugh suddenly erupted from the T.V. room, accompanied by a lightly higher voice that was cussing. He moved to the kitchen to unpack the things he bought. Two pairs of footsteps sounded, coming closer to him, until he could see both men.

"G-Grimmjow? Hi," he greeted lamely, then moved his gaze to Shiro who wore a pissed expression.

"What do you mean, 'Have I finally hit puberty'? I'm taller than you!" he said angrily.

"Well, compared to Grimmjow's voice, yours is kinda high," he retorted and Grimmjow just burst out laughing again.

"Shut up and go get your movie collection. I can't find it," Shiro ordered, glaring.

"Whatever you say Shi." Ichigo laughed and walked off to the T.V. room. Grimmjow decided to follow him as Shiro's deathly aura and glare was too intense.

"What movies are you looking for?" he asked, watching the red head rummage through his cabinets.

"Oh, just my Disney movie collection. I hope you guys like Disney, 'cause if not, tough luck. You can go and do something else," the red head said light heartedly.

"Fair enough. But luckily for me, I love Disney. I don't know about the others, though. I especially love the Lion Kings and Treasure Planet," he commented. Ichigo turned to face him, surprised, some movies in his hand.

"I love The Lion King! But I haven't seen Treasure Planet," he admitted. It was Grimmjow's turn to be surprised.

"You have The Lion King, Hunchback, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and whatever else, but you haven't got, let alone seen, Treasure Planet? You have not lived! Good thing I brought my own," he proclaimed.

"You brought your own copy? Didn't you think that you'd have fun?" the red head asked, as he finished finishing out the last of his movie collection.

"What? No! I always bring it to friend's house or to parties. It's one of those movies everyone likes and it's a good one for down time after a party," he reassured the red head. At the mention of the word 'friend' and it being used to reference himself, Ichigo felt warmth spread through his chest.

'So Grimmjow does think of me as a friend!'

"Oh, that's okay then," he replied, smiling widely. "I was only joking though. I'm looking forward to watching it, but we have to watch The Lion King one and two," he bargained.

"That's fine with me. Oh man, I can't wait 'til this party starts. I can feel it's going to be fun," Grimmjow smirked. He smiled back and chuckled.

"Okay, then, we are in agreement. We just have to wait until everyone else gets here. Shiro has invited some of his friends to come along too. Alright, we better get into the other room and help get stuff ready. We are having a barbecue downstairs in the pool area. You did bring your swimmers and a towel right?" he asked. Grimmjow just gave him a look that said, 'Of course!' "Just checking." He stacked the pile of movies on the small end table in the room and then left for the kitchen, the vocalist following behind. As they walked in, all they could see were piles upon piles of plastic cups, plates, burgers, sausages, plastic cutlery and clusters of bottles of alcohol and soft drink on the counter and the floor. Behind all those was Shiro, rummaging through a drawer pulling out tongs and other cooking utencils.

"Jeeze, Shi. Did you do everything yourself? I could have helped," Ichigo said.

"Nah, it's alright, Ichi. I did it. If you still wanna help, then you and Grimmjow can take all of this to the pool," Shiro offered.

"Yeah, sure,"Ichigo answered, looking at Grimmjow who nodded. The two grabbed plastic bags and began filling them with the items on the counter. Once they had a few bags each, they headed for the pool with Ichigo leading.

Shiro was leaning against the counter when they left, a smirk present on his face as he caught Grimmjow checking out his friend's butt on the way out.

When Ichigo was at the shops, Grimmjow had arrived early. Shiro didn't really talk much and the vocalist did the same as neither of the two knew what to say. But during the silence, Shiro was analysing his guest. He was watching his body language and other such signs. Determining that he was harmless, he felt mischievous. He told Grimmjow about Ichigo's Japanese habits, to which he replied with, "I know," which surprised him, but carried on and told him about the phrase the red head uses when he comes home. He then proceeded to tell him to say, 'karimasu' after Ichigo comes home and says 'tadaima'. Grimmjow looked confused, but when it was explained that it was an experiment to get a reaction out of the drummer, he complied with enthusiasm and got the phrase down pat.

When Ichigo did come home and said, 'Tadaima,' Grimmjow felt something stir within him and couldn't help thinking how sexy his voice was. He replied perfectly, his voice folding around the foreign words as if they were his native language. Both Shiro and Grimmjow could hear Ichigo cease all movement in surprise. The roommate was at the door of the T.V. room, peaking out to see his reaction. There was confusion, but there was also arousal and excitement in his eyes and expression, though he doubted Ichigo realised it. But he covered it well with his joke, which Shiro didn't appreciate considering it was at his expense.

Shiro smiled to himself. He could see attraction from both men for each other, but they were oblivious to it. Athough, he thought that getting to know each other first and becoming friends is a good thing. He grabbed some more bags and filled them with the remaining items, along with the untencils, and made his way to the pool area.

When he arrived, Ichigo and Grimmhjow were setting everything out and were talking about some movies. Ichigo had emptied his bag and turned upon his arrival.

"Hey Shi. Is that everything?"he asked, taking a bag from his friend.

"Yeah, I think so...wait. No. The iPod dock. Could you please get it for me? It's on the couch with our iPods and the power cords. Thanks," his friend told him, knowing that he wouldn't refuse. He nodded and disappeared. When Shiro deemed it safe that Ichigo wasn't in earshot, he turned to Grimmjow, making sure his expression looked threatening.

"I need to talk to you," he stated. Grimmjow caught his tone, and turned; confused at the threatening gleam in his eyes and aura.

"Er...ah...H-Have I done something wrong?" he asked.

"No. But you might, and then again you might not. But this is a warning," Shiro started. The vocalist seemed even more confused and he inwardly chuckled. "Now, before I begin, you cannot interrupt as we don't have much time until Ichi's back. Okay? Alright. I know you have feelings for Ichi and that's fine, because Ichi also has feelings for you. Now say you guys began dating and became boyfriends, that's all fine also. But, and this is a big fucking 'but', but if you ever hurt him, I will kill you. I'm not afraid to be put away to protect him; I have connections in there that will keep me safe and keep Ichi safe while I'm doing time. He is my best friend. We've known each other since we were kids and we would go to any lengths to protect each other. Now, when I say 'hurt', I don't mean cheating or even breaking up with him. I mean brutally and intentionally beating him up. I mean rape. I mean every other possible fucking sin under the fucking sun, that could mentally, emotionally and physically harm him. If you cheat on him, you are still dead meat. I might not kill you, but I do tend to get carried away. If there is any inkling that any of this is happening to him. You. Better. Fuckin'. Run. I have experience and skills that Ichi doesn't know about, and I am not afraid to use them for his sake. Do I make myself clear, Grimmjow Jeaggerjaquez?" he finished, aura now black will killing intent as emotions from what had happened to Ichigo were rising to the surface. Grimmjow nodded.

"Y-yes. Shiro. Um, if I may ask, what is all this about? I am really confused," he asked, trying to be cautious in what he was saying.

"Good, and it's Shirosaki to you until you prove yourself. This is a trial for you. So far you pass, but you can never be too careful with people you don't know. I just hope you don't disappoint me. You're meant to be confused as you don't know anything. But it's Ichi's secret to tell, not mine. You might find out soon, but if not, don't push him. Ah...Ichi's coming back. Act normally," Shiro explained, his oppressing mood lifting at the sight of his friend and he smiled.

"Here you go Shi. I'll just plug it in near the drinks," Ichigo announced.

"Alright, Ichi. The others should be arriving around about now, so I'll fire up the barbecue and, if you don't mind, you and Grimmjow could go to the apartment and direct everyone back down here after putting their stuff inside," his friend told him.

"Okay," He plugged in the dock and attached on of the iPods, then pressed shuffle. Immediately the starting for "Chop Suey" by System of a down began.

"Man, I love this song," both Grimmjow and Ichigo stated simultaneously. They looked at each other and laughed as they moved away to the apartment. Shiro smiled warmly. He could see there was something there and so he hoped he was right about the vocalist. He shook his head, let a small smile take over his face and began cooking.

Ichigo and Grimmjow were on the couch, waiting for people to show up. They kept the door open so it would be easier for those who haven't been to the apartment before, to know where it is.

"Why do you do everything Shiro-Shirosaki says? I-I'm not meaning to be rude, but be could have done some of those things himself," Grimmjow suddenly said. The two hadn't been up in the apartment very long, only some small talk was exchanged between them, but this question had been bugging him since they arrived.

"Oh, umm, well that's true, but he doesn't ask a lot and to be fair he's done so much for me. More than I could ever ask for. I have done pretty much nothing to help him out for a really long time due to...due to certain circumstances and the least I could do is do what he asks, to help him out. I have relied on him so heavily for years, not realising how much, and it has had a massive effect on his social life. He doesn't have any friends, other than myself and he hasn't really been concentrating on his own life. So he's lonely. I would like to see him happy with someone. I just wish I could be the one to give him that happiness, to find the right person for him," Ichigo looked at his hands.

"Oh I see. Sorry if I've upset you by asking that," the vocalist apologised. The red head lifted his head, a small smile on his face.

"No it's alright. It's just that we—I didn't think I could get out of my situation, but I did and I am grateful to Shi and his fate, or whatever. I think if I was there any longer, I wouldn't have been able to come back," 'Alive' he said to himself, but not realising Grimmjow heard. The vocalist kept his face neutral and pushed the word to the back of his mind. Ichigo looked up and smiled again.

"Oh, sorry. I'm talking too much. Where is everyone?" he asked to no one in particular. As if on queue, there was a knock at the door. It was Hallibel and Yoruichi.

"Hey boys," Yoruichi greeted, walking in.

"Where is everyone else?" Hallibel asked, following behind. Ichigo got up to greet the women.

"Oh they aren't here yet. It's just us and my friend, Shirosaki. But he's down at the barbecue. We are here to direct traffic. You guys can put your stuff over there by the couch and then you can head down. Just follow the smell of sausages and burgers," he directed the women, showing them where to put their belongings.

"Thanks Ichi. We'll see you down there then," Yoruichi said, smiling and hugging the drummer. Grimmjow sent a jealous glare towards her, which she answered by poking out her tongue, making Hallibel inwardly laugh. The women left and Ichigo sat back down, totally oblivious to the small exchange. After the women, Uluquiorra had showed up, declaring that he was, indeed, staying the night, and then small group by group of Shiro's 'friends' began turning up.

Grimmjow's phone began to ring, so he excused himself and left to the T.V room. Ichigo was pretty certain no more people were going to show up but he decided to nip to the pool to ask Shiro if he was expecting any more.

When he got down there, he could see Yoruichi and Hallibel laughing with Shiro, who was still at the barbecue cooking.

"It's nice to see you guys getting along," he said walking up to them.

"Yeah, Shiro has been telling us stories about when you were younger," Yoruichi laughed.

"What? What have you told them Shi?" Ichigo paled. All three of them burst into laughter.

"Oh man! You're funny, Richi!" Shiro cackled. The red head let out a massive breath and smiled out of relief.

"Oh my god! You're not funny," he laughed. "Richi? We're already on a nick name basis are we?"

"Yep! Shiro, Hal and I are getting along very well," Yoruichi commented. Ichigo made a face that said he just remembered something.

"Oh! That's what I came down for! Shi, how many more of your 'friends' are to come?" Shiro looked around and was mentally ticking off who was already present.

"Umm, one more. Orihime. You remember her don't you?"

"Oh yeah. You're still friends? That's nice. I like her. Alright, I better get back upstairs then. Everyone can start eating and drinking now. I'll be down with Grimmjow and Orihime soon," he waved and walked off.

When Ichigo reached his flat, Grimmjow was just coming out of the T.V. room with an apologetic expression upon his face.

"What's wrong Grimmjow?" he asked.

"It's...I have to leave. I can't stay. I'm sorry."

"Uh, oh, w-why? If I can ask?"

"Yeah, it's fine. A buddy of mine has just been evicted from his apartment and was told to leave immediately. So he's packed his car and has nowhere to go. I offered him my place. I'm sorry, Ichi," Grimmjow explained. When he said "Ichi" another feeling of warmth spread through Ichigo's chest, making his heart pound. Both men were really disappointed that they weren't able to spend the night together, but Ichigo suddenly had a thought.

"Why doesn't he come here? I mean we have heaps of space. None of the other guests are staying over, other than Orihime, but she isn't here yet, so we have a blow up bed, a few sleeping bags, and we have the couches. We have more than enough room. Wouldn't it be a better way to end his night? Partying and having fun instead of moping around? Hell, maybe one of Shiro's many 'friends' will catch his eye," he offered.

"Are you sure Ichi?" Grimmjow's expression turned soft and he had a bright smile lighting up his face. The drummer nodded, reveling in another wave of warmth.

"Oh, thankyou so much! He would appreciate it so much. You have such compassion for others, it's admirable. Thankyou again, you will have made his night." Without even registering what he was doing, Grimmjow drew Ichigo into a tight, heart clenching, body melting hug. Ichigo melded into him with ease, taking it all in so he could remember every smell and every touch. He was blushing, he knew he was and therefore he couldn't help that Grimmjow would see it when they pulled back.

When they did pull apart, Grimmjow apologised for the hug. Ichigo smiled a small smile.

"No, it's alright. I like hugs. They feel safe," he assured, not looking him in the eyes. In doing this, it gave Grimmjow free range to check him out.

'He's blushing! That's too cute! I just wanna—Nope. Better not go there yet. He's just a friend for the moment.' he thought.

"I like hugs too. I especially like to give them," he said aloud, which earned the blush to spread further on the red head. He enjoyed it all too much. It was beginning to get awkward as neither had any idea what to say next. Luckily, there was a small but firm knock at the door.

"Umm, excuse me? Is this Shirosaki's apartment?" a bright, read headed woman asked. Ichigo turned, face brightening.

"Ahh, Orhime! You're finally here!"

"Ichigo! Yeah, sorry,"

"You should know where we live, you've been here plenty of times before," he said.

"I know, but it's been a while,"

"It's okay. Alright, you can put your stuff over here and then we can head down to the pool," he gushed, happy for the break in the oppressive, awkward silence.

"You're looking good, Ichigo," the woman complimented.

"Thanks. I've been feeling a lot better recently. I've been feeling happier. But if it wasn't for you who takes care of Shiro in ways I can't, then he may not have been able to help me in all the ways he has done. So thankyou," he acknowledged. The woman blushed and waved her hands in front of her body in embarrassment.

"Ahh, no. It's okay, Ichigo." Grimmjow was listening in, but had no idea what the two were on about. He felt another pang of jealousy. He wanted to talk to Ichigo about personal matters and to help him in whatever he needs.

"So why were you late? Was there traffic?" Ichigo continued.

"Oh no. I was baking these! Cupcakes!" Orihime shoved the basket of baked goods in front of him. "They're still warm too!" At the mention of the cupcakes, Ichigo blanched and paled and felt nauseous.

Of all the things that Ichigo could have remembered Orihime for, it was her awful cooking. For some reason she has an incessant urge to mix foods that do not and should not go together and the end result is always the same; for those who spit out what they bit, they are just left with a bad taste in their mouths; whereas those who, for whatever reason, swallow her food, they will wind up with a great stomach ache and a bad taste in their mouths.

Ichigo could see Grimmjow's questioning stare at his reaction to the baking, but he held up his hand and mouthed, 'later' as he lead the generously breasted woman out the door towards the pool.

"Make sure you let your friend know of my offer and I'll tell Shiro. See ya downstairs," he told him, then he disappeared through the doorway.

Shiro lit up when he saw Ichigo and Orihime.

"Inoue!" he yelled, briskly walking up to the pair and giving her a hug. "How are you?"

"I'm fine! I brought cupcakes! Where do you want me to put them?" she asked. Shiro mirrored Ichigo's earlier expression when he saw the baked 'goods', but covered well with a smile.

"Oh you did? That's very thoughtful. Umm, you can put them next to the alcohol. Thanks," he said, feeling guilty.

"Shi, I have to tell you something. But you can't say no 'cause it's already decided. Grimmjow's friend just got evicted from his flat and he had to leave immediately. So he's all packed and got nowhere to go. Grimmjow offered his place originally, but I said why not have him come here and have some fun, instead of wallowing around in someone else's apartment alone?" Ichigo smiled. Shiro sighed and wrapped his arms around his friend's waist, head against his shoulder.

"You are really too kind. Don't ever change," he told him.

"Thanks Shi. I promise I won't."

Grimmjow had finished speaking to his friend and was heading down to the pool. As he arrived he saw Shiro embracing Ichigo and jealousy coursed through him. He knows that they are close friends and they can do that, but he couldn't help it.

'I wanna touch Ichigo like that! I wanna be able to hug him and rest my head against his shoulder whenever I want, too!' he thought, well aware that he sounded like a child.

"Ooh..."came a voice from his left shoulder.

"It seems we're harbouring jealousy towards Ichi's best friend..." another, slightly deeper, voice came from his right. Grimmjow was frozen stiff until saw a flick of blonde and purple hair out of the corner of his eye.

"Holy fuck! You guys scared the shit outta me! SO what if I'm jealous? I can't do anything about it," he stated.

"You're right," began Hallibel.

"But you could try and keep the death glares to yourself," Yoruichi finished.

"Aww, cute. You're finishing each other's sentences now." came his sarcastic remark.

"Ooh, a bit testy are we?" Yoruichi pushed.

"No!...Yes...I dunno. I'm sorry. It's just that you guys and Shirosaki are all in the friendzone and get to hug Ichi, but just because I like him and he likes me, we are awkward and don't get to. I don't understand," he sighed, rubbing his face.

"It's okay. The more comfortable you guys become around each other, everything will become easier," she comforted, then frowned, "Wait...how do you know he likes you?"

"Oh, Shirosaki told me," he said sheepishly.

"Oh, couldn't work it out for yourself, uh?" she teased.

"Well I didn't ask, if that's what you mean. It just came up in conversation between us," he retorted.

"Ooh, I see. What exactly were you guys talking about?" she pried.

"Shirosaki was giving me the, uh, the 'speech'," Yoruichi just looked at him.

"What? The birds and the bees...?" she asked laughing.

"Hah! What? No, the 'If you hurt him you're dead' speech," he answered.

"Oh so he knows about your feelings, then? Well at lease he didn't outright deny you a relationship with Ichi."she stated.

"Yeah, that's true. Well at least he knows. I was so nervous when he called me over, but I think I'd prefer him to threaten me than to outright deny any relationship with Ichi. Alright! Enough of this talk, I'm fucking starving!" he said, heading towards the barbecue just as Shiro was calling everyone to eat.

"If you don't eat, you don't drink!" Shiro yelled over the music and conversation. It didn't take long for everyone to flock to him. "Once you've got your food, you can drink as much as you want! Also, once we get back to the apartment we will be having a drinking contest to see who can down the most shots without passing out or throwing up! You better keep that in mind!" Ichigo, who was beside his friend, shook his head.

"You're cleaning up after anyone who throws up," he stated.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know," Shiro acknowledged, then had a bright idea. "Hey, me thinks it's time for karaoke..."

"Why don't you get up there for once?" he retorted.

"Because I don't have an amazing voice, that's why,"

"But I haven't even had a drink yet, I can't just go and sing in front of everyone," he said nervously.

"Ichi, you'll be fine. This is one way to boost your confidence. Grab the vodka, pour some into two cups and just down them. Don't care what anyone thinks, you are allowed to show off and no doubt, it'll entertain and impress Grimmy..." Shiro comforted. Ichigo went red in the face.

"D-Don't call him 'G-Grimmy'...Fine! I'll do it! Wish me luck," he yelled, heart beating miles an hour and the adrenaline slowly coursing its way through his body.

"You don't need it," his friend said, but he was already too far away to hear him. Once he poured the vodka he counted to three, and then downed them both. He grimaced and shook his head, trying to clear the taste from his mind. Getting to the docking station, he stopped the current song and there was a collective noise of disapproval from the guests.

"Sorry guys! But it is kareoke time! I'm going to start off, then if anyone wants to come up after me, you're welcome to!" he yelled over to everyone. He pressed play on his selected song, 'Given Up' by Linkin Park. When the tune started up, everyone 'whooped' and jeered.

Grimmjow was leaning against the pool fence with the girls, Hallibel and Yoruichi.

"He couldn't want to sing this properly? I mean, he has such a sweet, but rough, yet delicate voice," he was saying, astonished.

"Watch and see. I saw him down to cup of something before he announced the kareoke. By the face he pulled, I assume it wasn't a mix of anything. Like plain vodka or something like that," Hallibel stated. Grimmjow made a noise that sounded like an, "Oh yeah," and glued his eyes to his fancy.

Ichigo was now standing on an unused barbecue and was getting into the rhythm of the music; bobbing his head to the beat and tapping his feet, waiting for the lyrics to start. When the queue for the lyrics started, there were no actual lyrics, just the music. Somehow the friends had got their hands on a kareoke version of the song.

"Wake in a sweat again,

Another day's been laid to waste,

In my disgrace.

Stuck in my head again,

Feels like I'll never leave this place,

There's no escape.

I'm my own worst enemy."

Grimmjow was surprised, once again, at Ichigo's talent, the gruff deep tones settling in his body like a warm blanket, spreading warmth throughout his body. But it was nothing compareed to what he would feel when Ichigo began on the chorus.

"I've given up~!

I'm sick of feeling!

Is there nothing you can say?

Take this all away!

I'm suffocating!

Tell me what the fuck is wrong~

With me~"

When Ichigo burst out the chorus, all then heat intensified and moved toward his groin. He couldn't move. He was entranced and when Ichigo finished the second verse and repeated the chorus, Grimmjow wasn't prepared for him to do the long screaming notes, but he executed them perfectly. He seemed to be having fun; stomping to the guitar and head head banging to the drums and the expressions on his face fit the music well.

When the song finished Ichigo received a massive round of applause, to which he bowed and jumped off the barbecue. Everyone was coming up to him and complimenting him, which the thoroughly enjoyed, the alcohol kicking in and making him more relaxed. In the background the song 'One More Bottle' by Hollywood Undead was playing, a very party appropriate song.

Grimmjow desperately wanted to go over to the red head to show his own appreciation and give him many compliments, but he had a growing problem throughout the song and had resorted to hiding himself from view trying to think of anything gross or unattractive to calm himself down. The girls knew about his problem, so decided to leave him alone and compliment Ichigo themselves.

After a while, Grimmjow was able to sort out his problem and he was finally able to seek out Ichigo, but before the two got into any real conversation, Shiro hollered.

"Pool time! Go change and go wild!"

"Oh yey! I've been pining to use that spa. I'll meet you in there?" Grimmjow asked. Ichigo nervously nodded his head and watched as Grimmjow and everyone else raced back to the apartment to change. He walked up to Shiro and groaned, resting his head against his back.

"What's up Ichi?" Shiro asked, cleaning the barbecue.

"I said I would go in the spa with Grimmjow!" he whined. "That means I have to be partially naked around everyone! I can't deal with anyone's questions, not tonight, and especially not his. Oh Shi, what have I done? I didn't even think about what I was doing, my body did it of it's own accord."

"Ichi, don't worry. Take deep breaths and calm down. We will just have to use foundation again. I bought one with more water proof efficiency, just for tonight. So you'll be fine," Shiro reassured, wiping the last of the grime from the hot plate. "Come on, let's get you suited up." He took Ichigo's wrist and led him toward their home, passing some of the guests who had already changed along with Uluquiorra and Orihime.

The pool seemed alive with all the people in it. The small waves liking at the edges of the wall. Orihime wanted to swim, but the many bodies in the water made it impossible. They were playing the pool version of basketball and she didn't want to play due to her lack of hand-eye coordination. She spotted the spa and found that it was empty. With a sigh of relief she climbed in and turned on the jets, giggling when the vibrations made her breasts jiggle. She closed her eyes and relaxed.

After a while, a deep voice broke through the nonsensical noise of the party.

"Excuse me?" it said, getting Orihime's attention. She looked up and smiled, looking the guy up and down. He was very pale, slender but had muscle tone. He had black shoulder length hair, green eyes and light green tear track tattoos.

"Yes? Can I help you?" she asked cheerfully, eyes bright and shining.

"Erm, I—oh, can I join you? There isn't enough room in the pool and the thought of all those bodies brushing up against me is just absurd," he stuttered. The woman's bright attitude took him off guard and made him stumble over his words uncharacteristically. Her expression faltered for only a few seconds at Uluquiorra's strange words, but brightened up again.

"Sure!" She chirped. "I'm Orihime Inoue. Nice to meet you." Uluquiorra didn't want to waste words and time on introductions, but the woman's lively personality was sucking him in and he felt propelled to continue the conversation.

"Uluquiorra Ciffer. Pleased to meet you too," he provided, climbing in the water.

"Oh, that's a weird name. I like it," she complimented, still smiling widely.

"Thankyou," he said, not wanting to say anymore. He closed his eyes, sinking further into the relaxing water until his head was the only part of him sticking out of the water. He opened his eyes again, only to be met by a pair of generously sized breasts. Orihime was sitting, with her head back, looking at the night sky while her boobs rested upon the water's surface. Uluquiorra felt warmth spread across his face, but he was sure it was caused by the temperature of the water, and looked anywhere else but opposite him. He spotted blue and sat up.

"Hey guys," Grimmjow greeted, settling in the hot water with a satisfied sigh.

"Hello,"

"Hi!" the two greeted at the same time. Orihime giggled and Uluquiorra stayed indifferent. Grimmjow just rose an eyebrow, then turned to Orihime.

"I'm Grimmjow Jeaggerjaquez, and you are?" he introduced.

"Orihime Inoue. Pleased to meet you," she said lively.

"Likewise," he said. Silence fell upon the trio as they all sunk deeper and relaxed.

"Come on out Ichi. Everyone is down at the pool already, getting drunk and we're the only ones who aren't and we're the bloody hosts," Shiro yelled through the bedroom door. The door opened and out came Ichigo, towel in arm.

"You look fine. That foundation matches you perfectly," he complimented.

"Are you sure? Are you sure they won't notice?" Ichigo asked worried.

"Yes, I'm sure," he said, walking toward his friend to cup his hands on his neck to keep eye contact. "You look like a golden Adonis," he reiterated, which earned a small chuckle. He dropped his hands and noticed a scar that wasn't covered properly.

"Hey, Ichi. You missed a spot. Where's the foundation?"

"Oh, um...In my room on my desk," Ichigo replied, Shiro disappearing into his room to retrieve the item. When he returned, he dabbed some foundation on his fingers and began blending it on the scar on his ribs.

Ichigo jerked and laughed, stopping his friend from rubbing in the cream.

"Sorry, sorry! It tickled. Sorry," he apologised. Shiro bent and went to rub in the foundation but upon touching his skin, he jerked again, tripping over his feet and falling over grabbing his friend in the process who landed on top of him.

"Jesus Ichi! You're such a klutz!" Shiro laughed, Ichigo echoing his laugh. He lifted himself up so he was resting on his elbows and something caught his eye.

"Shi?"

"Yeah?"

"What's that?" he asked, furrowing his brows.

"What's what?" Shiro asked back. Ichigo huffed and rose up on his elbows, leaning more weight on his left to point with his right hand at the bruised skin on his friends neck.

"That," he stated. Shiro frowned in confusion and sat back on his hunches, putting a hand on the bruise. Realisation hit. It was the bruise that Darryl inflicted. Quickly recovering, he told a pork pie.

"Oh, that. One of my conquests got a bit too frisky."

"Yuk. Did not wanna know," Ichigo sneered, nose scrunching up in revulsion.

"Hey, well you asked."

"Yeah, I know, I know," he grimaced once again. "You should get changed so we can get downstairs and join the party."

Shiro agreed and went to his room to change.

The two arrived at the pool area and Ichigo was searching for Grimmjow. He found him, but he wasn't expecting the onslaught of jelly that happened to course through his system. Grimmjow was in the spa, his drool worthy muscled chest on show that glistened from the water. The jelly made its way to his legs and he found himself licking his lips. His heart rate sped up coursing the jelly and immense heat flow throughout his body. He was finding it increasingly difficult to stand.

"H-holy fuck! Shi," he cursed, grabbing hold of his friend so he wouldn't collapse.

"What's up?"

"Grimm…Grimmjow is shirtless. I-I-I don't think I can walk anymore," he stated. Shiro just cackled.

"You're in trouble now, aren't cha?"

"Shi, it's not funny!" he whined.

"Oh yes it is. I'm not helping you on this. You go over, make conversation and BOOM everything is fine. Anyway, Orihime and Uluquiorra are in there too."

"Oh, really? That's good." He looked at the two guests, then turned to continue the conversation, only to find that his friend had disappeared.

"Bastard!" he mumbled, slowly making his way over to the spa, calming his nerves as he went.

"Hey guys!" he greeted once he reached the spa.

"Ichi! You took long enough!" Grimmjow laughed. "Here, get in." He moved around to make room for Ichigo inbetweem himself and Orhime, consequently pushing Uluquiorra closer to the woman. Ichigo thanked Grimmjow and climbed into the water, instantly sighing and relaxing into the welcoming heat.

"Oh, my friend texted me just before. He said that he will be here in 10 minutes," Grimmjow mentioned as he remembered.

"Alright. Thanks for letting me know," Ichigo replied. A few minutes of comfortable silence came upon the small group, until Grimmjow broke it.

"Does anyone want a drink?" he suddenly asked. Everyone nodded and stated what they wanted.

"I would like something strong please," Ichigo asked. Grimmjow nodded, mentally taking note of the orders.

When he came back, a new song started and both Ichigo and himself stated that it was one of their favourite songs, simultaneously. They both laughed and Orihime joined in. The song was 'Because I got High' by Afroman. Ichigo downed his drink in one go, feeling the warming effect almost instantly. Grimmjow gave him an approving smile and he grinned back. As the lyrics started the two men began to sing along.

Orihime laughed and nodded along, but Uluquiorra looked as stoic as ever.

"I messed up my entire life,

Because I got high.

I lost my kids and wife,

Because I got high.

La da da da da da,

Now I'm sleeping on the sidewalk…"

Both men sung.

"And I know why," sang Grimmjow.

"Why man?" sang Ichigo, turning to him.

"Because I got high,

Because I got high,

Because I got high," they both sang, laughing, the alcohol slowly taking effect.

The song finished and all three of them were laughing, Uluquiorra just taking it all in, his focus more on the woman. He was interested, she was interesting, he couldn't deny that. Orhime got out of the spa, stating that she would be back.

When she returned, her hand was holding the plate of cupcakes she baked. She offered one to the stoic man when she settled back into the water. Before Ichigo could come up with anything to stop Uluquiorra from eating the cupcake, it was too late. Holding his breath, Ichigo waited to see the facial expressions, but there were not.

'Maybe she actually baked something decent…?' he thought, but it was thrown out the window when the man asked what ingredients were used.

"Oh! It's mushroom, orange and peanut flavour!" she answered energetically. Ichigo just blanched and had to turn away. Grimmjow looked at his face.

"It can't be that bad," he whispered. Once again Ichigo couldn't think of an excuse to stop Grimmjow from grabbing one of the 'treats' and taking a bite. The vocalist stilled, his face a perfect poker face, but his eyes told all. Orhime was watching with happiness as he took a bite so he had to swallow it.

"That…was very interesting, Orihime. Thank-you. Please excuse me," he said climbing out of the water and mingling into the crowd. Ichigo also excused himself and set off to find something for Grimmjow to drink before finding the man himself to see if he was okay. He did swallow Orihime's cooking.

"How did you like the cake, Uluquiorra?" Orhime asked. The man got shivers down his spine when she said his name in her bubbly voice. He put it to that back of his mind for later to assess.

"It was quite interesting. The texture was very pleasant and moist, the flavours, although they really shouldn't, mixed well in an odd way. I quite liked it," he replied, which earned the brightest smile he had ever seen that made him all warm and fuzzy inside. It disturbed him and so he moved it to the back of his mind with the other experiences to be examined later.

"Thank-you!" she replied and then everything went back to comfortable silence.

"Grimm! Grimmjow!" Ichigo called as he spotted a head of blue. Thankfunny he turned around.

"You didn't tell me about the cooking. You said you would," he said. Leaning over a fence, face white.

"I know. I'm sorry. I couldn't especially since she was there. But you could have just believed me. Here drink some water. It'll help," Ichigo said, handing the cup to the other who then downed it in one fair swig. He felt the burn.

"That's not water," he stated. Ichigo just smirked.

"I know. But the burn should stop the taste and the sore stomach you might get later," he said.

"Very nice. Thanks. I do feel a bit better now. What the hell does she use to cook with? Peroxide or something? It's gross! How can Uluquiorra stand it?"

"Sorry, I have no answer to any of those." He turned his back to the fence and stared out above all the heads. Most of the people were in the pool, but some were standing in groups, chatting. Over in the car park, Ichigo spotted a tall figure.

"Hey, Grimm? Is that your friend over there?" he pointed. The accidental use of his nick name, made him have butterflies and he smiled to himself.

"Erh, if he is tall as fuck with black hair, most likely," he answered. The two set off to the car park where the man was looking lost. As they got close, Grimmjow grinned.

"Nnoi!" he yelled. The man turned, a smile also present upon his face.

"Grimm! It's been a while, hasn't it?! Nnoitra greeted. "Ya look good. How's the band going? I don't watch much T.V. these days."

"Yeah, it's all good. I found a new drummer. This," Grimmjow motioned to Ichigo, "is Ichigo Kurosaki. He's awesome."

"I'm not that gre—" Ichigo began, but the rest of the words died in his throat when Grimmjow sent him a look. "Aha, yeah. I'm Ichigo, the awesome drummer. Nice to meet you." He corrected, holding out his hand. Something akin to recognition flashed across the tall man's eyes, or eye as the case was as his left eye was covered by a bandana, when he looked at him, but it was gone too quick for Ichigo to think too much on it. Nnoitra shook the offered hand.

"I'm Nnoitra Jiruga. The pleasure is mine."

"Cool name. Just as cool as Grimm's name," Ichigo complimented, accidentally slipping in Grimmjow's nick name again. It was becoming more of a habit now.

"Thanks. And thank-you for letting me stay here for the night."

"It's no problem, seriously. It is better to party than to wallow around, right? So if you wanna grab you stuff, I'll show you to the apartment," he offered.

"Yeah that would be great. Thanks."

"Hey Ichi. I'll take him up. Why don't you tell Shirosaki, and then we'll meet at the barbecue to introduce Nnoi to him?" Grimmjow suggested. Ichigo agreed and they went their separate ways.

"He seems good for you. You look happier. Have you asked him out yet?" Nnoitra asked once Ichigo was out of sight.

"Wha? How does everyone figure it out so quickly?" Grimmjow exclaimed, leading his friend to the apartment.

"Oh. So you're together then?"

"No, but we do like each other though," he said glumly.

"So what's stopping you both?"

"I don't know…well I kinda do, I haven't been told directly so I could be completely wrong. But If I'm right, then Ichigo needs space and comfort, not a relationship that's based on sexual attraction. He needs a friend he can come to and tell anything to and not be afraid that he will be judged. I'm fine with that role. As long as he can trust me and can tell me anything, I'll be as happy as can be," he answered.

"Jeeze, when did you become all sappy and old man wise?" his friend teased.

"I'm not sappy! Hey! I'm not an old man! I can be wise without being old!" he protested.

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever Grimm."

They had arrived at their destination and Grimmjow was silent, quietly sulking.

"Put your stuff over there with everyone elses, then let's head down to the pool and give you some drinks," he told Nnoitra.

"You just want me to shut up and leave you alone."

"And? What if I do?" He said, uncaring that he sounded like a child. Nnoitra laughed at his childishness.

"You're such a baby."

"No I'm not!" he argued.

"My point needs no more proof," his friend cackled as they made their way down to the pool area. The rest of the walk was quiet with Grimmjow pouting and sulking once again.

Shiro and Ichigo were standing by the barbecue, as prearranged, talking when the other two men walked up. Ichigo was looking at Grimmjow's face, trying to figure out his expression, whether he was angry, unimpressed, or sulky. Nnoitra caught the analysing stare and laughed.

"Don't worry about him. He's having a tantrum. I teased him a bit," he told him. Grimmjow turned to face his friend.

"Teased? You're fucking annoying and you know how to get under people's skin!" he stated, not happy at all. "You can introduce yourself, I'm getting a drink. Shirosaki? Ichi? Do you want anything?" he asked. Shiro declined.

"If you don't mind, the same as before?" Ichigo answered.

"I'll have a vodka Grimm!" Nnoitra told him.

"I didn't ask you prick!" he cursed and walked away. Nnoitra cackled so loud, Grimmjow could hear him from his position at the drinks. He gave him the finger.

"Woo ahaha! Oh man he's fun to mess with," Nnoitra laughed, wiping a tear from his eye. He turned to Shiro. "Nnoitra Jiruga's the name. What's yours snowflake?" Ichigo snorted at the name, he wasn't expecting that to come out, and put a hand over his mouth to stop any more noises coming out. He slowly backed away as he could feel Shiro's hackles rising and he didn't want to be around if he snapped and Nnoitra said something else. He decided to join Grimmjow.

"I wouldn't go back over there if I were you. It looks like Nnoitra found someone else to play with. But I think Shiro is about to crack," he warned.

"Good. Better than me," Grimmjow said, still sulking.

"Oh dear. It seems you're still in a mood. What did he do?" he asked.

"He…He called me a child and a sap," the other said quietly, realising how stupid he sounded. Ichigo burst out laughing. From trying to hold back the laughter from Nnoitra's comment, this just pushed his control and he couldn't help it.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. But you realise how ridiculous that sounds?" he asked, still smiling. Grimmjow stayed silent and nodded and looked away.

"Come here," Ichigo told him, arms open.

"What?" came the confused reply. He sighed and went into Grimmjow's personal space, wrapping his arms around his neck.

"Oh," was all that was said and Grimmjow put his arms around Ichigo's waist to complete the hug. He sighed into the embrace. It was really nice. Ichigo pulled back first, a little pink on his cheek bones.

"How about those drinks?" he asked. Geimmjow picked up a cup and held it in front of his face, secretly enjoying the blush. They both downed their drinks and sighed afterwards. The song 'Bleed It Out' by Linkin Park just started and both men looked at each other, having the same idea. They hopped up on one of the barbecues and began rapping along.

"Snowflake? What the fuck! I aint a chick. That's not gunna work on me, ass!" Shiro yelled. Nnoitra had another wide smile on his face upon the reaction from Shiro.

"Yeah. Snowflake. Meaning you're quite pale, but you're also small and petite and pretty like one," he stated, speaking the truth, but saying it in a way to get the best rise out of the smaller man.

"I am not small or petite! Everyone is short next to you, you tall, lanky fucker! And you're the one to talk! You're just as pale as me! And I am not pretty! I'm not a girl! You're such an ass!" Shiro raged, playing right into Nnoitra's game. He didn't know why he let the guy get under his skin. His reaction was thoroughly enjoyed by Nnoitra. His face was flushed from anger, but some of it was from feeling like he was being flirted with.

"Now that is an expression! I would totally pay to see that over again! It's fucking hot!" Nnoitra hooted, catching Shiro off guard.

'Hot?' he thought. The world circling around in his head and his flush spreading.

"Are you trying to hit on me?" he asked, unsure of what to think. He was seldom in this situation.

"Maybe. What if I am?" Nnoitra asked truthfully, laughter and joking gone from his face and eyes. His words also stunned Shiro and he was unsure how to respond.

'This guy is so straightforward. It's admirable,' he thought.

"uh, well it's not working on me. Go find someone else," he lied, although he didn't know he was. He just wanted to leave and get his head straight, as it felt like the guy was everywhere at once and with him being so tall, Shiro felt small and petite.

"I need a drink," he stated to no one in particular and walked off to where Ichigo and Grimmjow were rapping. He poured straight tequila into two cups and downed them like they were shots. Nnoitra had followed and looked impressed.

"Now that's how you drink!" he stated.

"Thanks," Shiro replied and closed his eyes, listening to the new song that came on after 'Bleed It Out'. The song was called 'Salt Sweat Sugar' by Jimmy Eat World. Grimmjow and Ichigo jumped down from the barbecue they were on and were laughing their heads off.

"That was so much fun!" Grimmjow was saying. "We need to sing more!"

"We should!" Ichigo agreed. Shiro turned to smile at his friend, completely ignoring Nnoitra for now.

"Sounds like you're having fun. Maybe I should drink more…?" he said.

"I dunno what you're talking about. I'm having fun," Nnoitra chimed in, purposely trying to get a rise out of Shiro.

"Yeah, maybe that's because you enjoy taunting me! Fucker!" Shiro shouted, getting another drink and walking into the throng of people and disappearing. Ichigo and Nnoitra pissed themselves laughing. Grimmjow on the other hand knew what it was like on the receiving end of Nnoitra's teasing and was not happy.

"Dude you really shouldn't push people like that. You never know when they will turn to kick you right in the balls. Your face is too fucking far to reach," he chided.

"He doesn't mind. I can see it in his eyes. Don't worry about it man," Nnoitra assured him.

"You can't possibly kno—" he was cut off by Ichigo.

"It's alright Grimm. If Shiro really didn't like it, Nnoitra would be crouched on the ground after being hit and he would be thrown out, literally. He's let it go on this long, so there's nothing to worry about. I think he has finally found someone on par with him and isn't afraid to test his boundaries. You're in the safe zone, Nnoitra," Ichigo reassured.

"Thanks. I feel better about this now. It's going to be a good night," Nnoitra said and walked off to find Shiro. Ichigo smiled and leaned against the barbecue. Grimmjow wasn't as relaxed.

"Are you sure about Shirosaki liking him? I'm Nnoi's friend and I can barely stand him," he reiterated, voicing his previous concerns.

"I'm sure Grimm. Shiro hates boring and loved a challenge. Looking after me for as long as he did…he doesn't really have anyone. Like I said back at the apartment, he kinda put his life on hold for me. So this will be good for him. I just hope he doesn't get hurt. You trust Nnoitra, don't you?" Ichigo said, eyes now open and holding truth in what he was saying.

"Of course, Ichi. I trust him with my life. He's just annoying. But if he's got Shirosaki, then I guess he won't annoy me as much."

"Okay, good. As long as you trust him, I trust him," he said, leaning against the barbecue again. Grimmjow followed suit and closed his eyes. This gave Ichigo the perfect opportunity to check him out. He had gotten over his initial shock of Grimmjow's beauty and now he was looking at his muscled chest and abdomen, following the hard, ridges lines until they disappeared beneath his board shorts. Stopping there he blushed and looked away. He wasn't ready to even think about that yet.

After a few moments, Shiro came back, Nnoitra still trailing behind, and turned off the music to everyone's dismay. He hopped up on the barbecue.

"Alright! Listen up!" He announced. "The curfew for being in the pool area has arrived! We'll continue this party inside!" he jumped down and began picking up all the party stuff. Ichigo and Grimmjow helped and, after a glare from Grimmjow, Nnoitra did too. When everything was packed, the four lead everyone back to the apartment. Upon their arrival, the iPod dock was plugged in and the tunes followed after, the guests dancing. The four men were in the kitchen chilling and not really saying much. Shiro was rummaging through the cupboards.

"What are you looking for?" Nnoitra asked.

"I am looking for shot glasses. We are going to play a game," Shiro answered, making a little "aha!" sound as he found the glasses. Nnoitra got excited.

"Oooh yey! I love games!" he stated, bounding on the spot from enthusiasm.

"Don't we know it," Grimmjow said. "So was game are we playing?" Shiro grinned.

"Well, it doesn't really have a name, but the rules are simple; there will be two people at a time and there will be a line of ten shots for each player. On my mark, you drink up as fast as possible. The one who downs the shots fastest wins, but you have to keep the liquor down otherwise the other player wins. Simple?" he explained.

"Easy," proclaimed Nnoitra and Grimmjow. Shiro and Ichigo shared a knowing glance and a smirk.

"Alright, who wants to go first?" Shiro asked, even though he knew it to be Nnoitra.

"Me!" he yelled and took up one of the positions. "I want to verse you."

"Okay. Choose your poison and we'll get going," Shiro told him. The drink was chosen and both lines of shots were filled. Ichigo took the role as referee.

"If I win, I get to fuck you," bargained Nnoitra. Shiro's smirk was still present.

"If I win, I get to top. Deal?" he offered. Nnoitra obviously didn't want to bottom, but he agreed, feeling confident. Ichigo grimaced at the exchange, wishing he didn't have to hear any of it. He shrugged it off, and counted the players down.

"3…2…1…go!" he yelled, which caught the attention of some of the guests. They slowly formed a circle around the counter.

"Time!" Ichigo declared as Shiro finished his last shot.

"Fucking hell!" Nnoitra cursed. He only had three to go. A queue had formed for those who wanted a turn.

Everyone had their turn and champions were formed. The only one who hadn't played was Ichigo.

"C'mon Ichi. It's your turn. I'll verse ya," Grimmjow declared. Once again the drink of choice was poured and the two players got ready. Shiro was the referee.

"Any bets or deals to be made?" he asked the two. Both men shook their heads and he counted them down.

"3…2…1…go!" It was only a matter of seconds before Shiro yelled, "Time!"

"What the?" Grimmjow said confused, but then he looked at Ichigo who was sitting back in the bar stool with a massive grin.

"That's fucking impressive," he complimented. After that display, the other guests wanted to try their luck against Ichigo, but to no avail. Even Nnoitra had a go, but then declared Ichigo and Shiro as the reigning champs. Everyone then suggested that Ichigo and Shiro should go head to head. Although the two knew how it would pan out, they went along with it. They were counted down, and once again Ichigo won.

"Ichigo is the champion!" everyone jeered with laughter. Then out of the blue, Yoruichi and Hallibel came into view.

"Holy fuck! I forgot you guys were here. Where were you?" Grimmjow asked. The women smiled.

"We were…" Hallibel began

"…around. You just couldn't see us," finished Yoruichi.

"The way you guys do that 'finish each other's sentences' thing I fucking scary. It's too smooth.

"Why thank-you. Let's see if I can beat Ichi," Yoruichi said, seating herself on the bar stool. Hallibel was to try next, but Ichigo beat the both of them.

"Bloody hell you can drink!" stated Nnoitra.

"Thanks. I need to dance to work it off. I've had a bit too much," Ichigo replied, the effects of the alcohol kicking in. As he stumbled away, his favourite dance song came on; 'Church' by T-Pain, courtesy of Shiro.

Normally Ichigo wouldn't dance unless he was at a bar or club he would never go back to, or unless he was at home, alone, but he needed to dance and work off the alcohol. So he was using his intoxication as an excuse for himself, in order to dance freely and not be self-conscious. He cleared a big enough area and then began to dance.

As good as he is at playing the drums and singing, Ichigo was also naturally talented at dancing. He is the full package. His hips were swaying, his feet were weaving complicated patterns on the floor and his body was jerking, swaying, popping and moving fluidly with each move. Everyone was clapping and grooving along. They were awestruck and amazed and were all having a good time.

Grimmjow in particular was blown away at Ichigo's seemingly endless list of talents. The song ended and everyone clapped and cheered and began dancing to the next track that played. Ichigo flopped into the couch, breathing heavily with a massive endorphin induced smile on his face. Grimmjow made his way over to Ichigo, managing to squeeze past all the grinding bodies.

"You never cease to amaze me! That was fucking amazing!" he complimented, admiration written all over his face. Ichigo's face went red, but his smile was still in place.

"Thank-you," he breathed out. "It was so much fun. I'd like to go again." Grimmjow had an idea.

"How about a freestyle duo? I'll dance with you," he offered, hoping Ichigo would say yes as he really wanted to dance with him. If it was possible, Ichigo's smile brightened.

"Sure. But can you dance?" he asked.

"Ichi, I'm not just a singer. I'm multitalented like you," Grimmjow replied.

With that they both cleared some dancing space and Ichigo chose the next song: 'Keep Your Head Down' by TVXQ!.

As the music started, the two were in sync; flowling with each other's movements and working perfectly together, grinding, swaying, popping and gliding with ease.

When the song ended, there was another uproar of cheers and jeers.

"I am exhausted now," Ichigo stated, collapsing on the couch. Grimmjow followed.

"Me too. How about we go and get some water and then watch the movies? It seems the party's thinning anyway," he asked, to which Ichigo agreed.

"Definitely. I'll go and grab Hal and Yoru and Uluquiorra and Orihime. I'll also see if Shiro and Nnoitra wanna watch, but I doubt it," he said, getting up off the couch to seek the others. Grimmjow went to the kitchen to get the water and then made his way into the T.V. room, setting everything up.

When Ichigo returned, he was followed by the girls and Uluquiorra.

"No Nnoi or Shirosaki then?" Grimmjow inquired.

"No. I couldn't find them," Ichigo answered.

"I don't know where they are either, but I do know that the Nnoitra guy is annoying the shit outta Shiro," Yoruichi chirped, giggling a bit.

"Well that doesn't surprise me," both men said together and began laughing. When they calmed down they put in The Lion King DVD and everyone settled down to watch.

From the get go, Ichigo and Grimmjow were mouthing every word, which Yoruichi and Hallibel caught and thought was cute. When 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King' began, the women could see the men itching to sing and so when the lyrics started they began singing to prompt them.

"I'm gunna be a mighty king, so enemies beware," they began.

"Well I've never seen and king nor beast with quite so little hair," the men sang and continued. All the women were laughing and enjoying the performance and the men were enjoying themselves too. The men took turns at who sung each part, from Simba, Nala and Zazu, to Scar, Timone and Pumba and the hyenas. Accompanying the singing was over dramatizing actions throughout the whole movie. When it finished everyone opted for The Lion King II to be played next. The same thing happened; Ichigo and Grimmjow were mouthing the words and when the songs came on, they burst out singing.

The second song of the movie came on and Ichigo took Kiara's part. This made everyone laugh at his ridiculous high girly voice when he sang her parts. Grimmjow then took Simba's parts and the movie was taken over by the two men. It finished and everyone was tired, so they agreed to another movie before going to bed and this was when they put in Treasure Planet.

Ichigo thoroughly enjoyed the movie and proclaimed it to be one of his new faviouites.

"Good," Grimmjow yawned. "So where are we sleeping?"

"Well, I don't know. I'll go and check with Shiro," Ichigo said. He opened the door and walked out. The place was empty, save Shiro drinking water in the kitchen.

"Wow, everyone's gone. No one taking you home tonight then?" he asked. As he said this, Nnoitra came from the bathroom and leaned against the counter. Ichigo smiled and raised his eyebrow.

"What? No!" Shiro denied.

"Whut?" Nnoitra asked, oblivious. Ichigo laughed and shook his head.

"It doesn't matter, Nnoitra," he said. "So where is everyone sleeping?" Shiro thought about it.

"Umm, well two people can fit in your bed, and there's enough room on the floor for another two. Then we have the couches and the floor in the lounge room. We also have room on the floor in my room. Tell them to take their pick," he finally said. Ichigo nodded.

"Alright. I'll see where they wanna go," he said. As he walked away, Nnoitra claimed Shiro's room.

"I bags Snowflake's room!" he yelled.

"Alrighty," Ichigo confermed and walked back to the T.V. room. Shiro's eye kept twitching in annoyance.

"Who said you could have my room?"

"I said!" Nnoitra answered. "Now I'm going to bed," he stated, walking in the direction of Shiro's room. Shiro huffed and followed after.

"Hey wait!" he yelled rushing into his room. Nnoitra was already striped to his boxers and was lying on the double bed. He shook his head. He wasn't going to kick the poor bastard out of bed to sleep on the floor just as he was kicked out of his apartment. He sighed and got changed. While he was taking off his clothes, he couldn't help but notice the built muscles on Nnoitra. He was on his back with his hands behind his head and eyes closed. Shiro only just noticed that his bandana was absent. He thought he looked so serine and handsome while asleep and without the cloth covering his eye.

Only in his boxers, Shiro tentatively crawled into bed, careful not to jostle it too much. Before he could get comfortable, an arm grabbed him from around his waist and pulled him flush against a warm, hard body.

"Woah!" his exclaimed.

"Shhh. Go to sleep," Nnoitra's tired voice resounded. Shiro did as told, but he was unable to sleep, especially since he was all too aware of the man behind him.

After a few minutes of silence, he spoke up.

"N-Nnoitra? You awake?" he asked.

"Yeah. What do you want?"

"I just want to know why you were kicked out. Was it just a simple money problem or what?" he inquired.

"I don't even know why I'm telling you this. My boss hasn't payed me for a while 'cause I haven't been doing the jobs he asked me to do."

"Why not?" he continued to pry.

"Why are you questioning me?" Nnoitra retorted, annoyed. Although the conversation heated, the two men stayed in their embrace.

"I'm just curious. I wanna make sure I'm not housing a lazy dick, who doesn't bother to pay the bills and doesn't help himself."

"Heh, fair enough. I wouldn't do the jobs 'cause they included my friends and so I refused," Nnoitra's eyes were teary as he thought about it, though his voice gave nothing away. The visions from when he was given those jobs, were rolling around in his mind, making him remember what he had to do to live and support himself. Shiro was now intrigued.

"What—"

"Don't ask. Please," Nnoitra pleaded.

"Whatever it is, I'm sure I can handle it," Shiro pried once more.

"What part of 'Don't ask' don't you understand?" he scolded, anger and sadness evident in his voice.

"Sorry," Shiro whispered softly. After that mini outburst, he could tell Nnoitra didn't want to talk about it, obviously a touchy subject.

"No," Nnoitra sighed softly, his breath jostling the head of hair in front of him. He moved and rested his head against Shiro's back, inbetween his shoulder blades. This tenderness surprised Shrio. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said it like that. You're just curious, I know. Sorry." Shiro was lost for words. For such a seemingly arrogant and confident man to have a tender moment like that was a shock, but everyone must have their moments.

"Ah…No. It's alright. I shouldn't have pried. It must have been something awful for you to not want to talk about it, and that's okay," Shiro said soothingly, absentmindedly stroking circles on Nnoitra's arm that was around him.

"You seem to be so understanding of my situation, but without even knowing anything. How can you do that?"

"Living with your best friend who's had terrible things happen to him and has certain mental problems because if it, you learn to spot signs of instabilities quite easily. So I know how to help…well make you feel better," he answered.

"Ichigo? But he seems so…vibrant and happy. Especially dancing with Grimm before," Nnoitra said, shocked.

"Yeah I know. He is seriously strong willed. He wouldn't be here if he was anyone else. He's been through so much. I'm proud of him. I'm proud that he stuck out through the horror and didn't take the cowards way out. I did save him once or twice, though…anyway, I know you would like to know more, but it's not my story to tell. I'm the only one who knows what happened," Shiro sighed.

"Hey, you know how you said you could make me feel better?" Nnoitra asked. Shiro hummed for a "Yes."

"How would you like to give me a kiss? It'll make me feel a whole lot better." Shiro was a little bit surprised. Nnoitra's head was still resting on his back and his voice didn't hold any amusement or playfulness. Shiro turned to face him and was blown away at his bright, shimmering, wide grey eyes that trained upon his own. He let out a breath he didn't realise he was holding and took the initiative. He pressed his lips to the other's and was astounded at the softness. He melted into Nnoitra's body as he began kissing back. Before things got too heated, Shiro pulled away, smiling.

"Aww, but it was getting to the good part," Nnoitra whined.

"That's all you get if you're planning on using me for sex," he replied.

"I wasn't going to use you, Snowflake. I actually like you," Nnoitra proclaimed, holding Shiro's chin and pressing his lips to his in a small peck.

"Oh, c-cool."

" 'Cool'? Is that all you have to say?" he asked.

"Well I've never had anyone that actually liked me before. They were all just conquests that meant nothing and was just for blowing off steam. But with Ichigo having reverted back to mental instability recently, I don't have time to get out anymore," Shiro confessed.

"That's a shame. But you have someone now," Nnoitra announced, kissing and licking his neck.

"Ah, I – um, I can't. not with everyone else here a-and I need – need to be in the right mindset incase Ichi has a b-breakdown or panic attack," he tried to refuse, but his body was betraying him.

"Naw," Nnoitra pouted and pulled away, smiling tenderly.

"Sorry," he apologised, but was pleasantly surprised at his restraint. He smiled back and kissed him passionately, then he pulled away.

"Just something for you to hang onto," he said, getting comfortable and snuggling up to him.

"That's not gunna last me," Nnoitra retorted, getting comfy also. "By the way, don't tell anyone about this little moment."

"Don't worry. It'll be nice to have that side of you all to myself," Shiro chuckled. Nnoitra didn't know what to say to that, so he tightened his hold on his unofficial boyfriend, and they both promptly fell asleep.

The sleeping arrangements had been made; Hallibel and Yourichi on Ichigo's bed, provided that they sleep only; Uluquiorra and Orihime on the two couched, one in the lounge and the other in the T.V room; and finally Ichigo and Grimmjow took the floor in his room.

Hallibel and Yoruichi had stopped conversing and had been in bed for a while, signalling they were asleep and so Grimmjow and Ichigo were essentially alone. They had been sharing small talk while the others had gone to bed, but Ichigo wasn't all with it. He was syking himself up for what he had to tell Grimmjow.

'It's either tonight or never,' he kept on telling himself. After a few moments, he spoke up.

"Grimm, I-I have something to tell you. Something important. It is also important for me that you don't interrupt me. Is that okay?" he asked. Grimmjow looked confused, but nodded.

"Yeah, that's fine. What is it?"

Ichigo took a deep breath and stood up, motioning Grimmjow to follow.

"Yoruichi? Hal?" he whispered, checking to make sure they were actually asleep. "Alright, follow me," he said when he was met with silence. Without a word, Grimmjow followed. They were headed towards the bathroom. Now Grimmjow was really confused, but he stayed quiet and let Ichigo do what he was going to do. He sat on the toilet, waiting.

As Ichigo was still in his board shorts, he stepped straight into the bath and started the shower. With every movement, Grimmjow noticed that Ichigo was shaking and seemed to be terribly nervous. He had a loofah and put some body wash onto it and lathered up. When he was done, he took several calming breaths and detached the shower head.

"O-okay. I know this may seem weird, but please bear with me, what I'm about to tell and show you, no one else, other than Shi, knows about it. Here we go," he said, then began washing off the foundation.

Grimmjow watched with horror and sorrow at the sight unravelling before his eyes. Where once flawless skin had been, scars of all shapes and sizes were left in its place. Ichigo was shaking violently as the feeling of total exposure. He rinsed off the last bits and turned off the shower. He dried himself with one of the towels on the rack beside him. He stood, arms out and eyes closed in the middle of the room for Grimmjow's inspection.

"Oh Ichi," Grimmjow breathed, wanting to touch, but refraining.

"Now," Ichigo started, taking a shuddering breath and opening his eyes. "Before I begin, I want to let you know that I am completely opening myself up to you. I am giving you my whole hearted trust; the only other person who has it is Shi. I am trusting you not to exploit me and what I am about to tell you. I wouldn't know what to do if this completely blows up in my face."

"I swear on my life that I will never do that and betray your trust," Grimmjow confirmed. Ichigo smiled a bit and laughed nervously.

"Th-thanks. I-I want to go somewhere else to tell you. I don't want to be here where anyone could wake up. We'll go to the pool," he said. Grimmjow stayed quiet and followed Ichigo out of the apartment and into the pool area and then into the spa.

"I won't put the jets on. I don't want to be shouting above them," Ichigo told him. He sat in the spa himself

"Yeah, I understand. Alright Ichi, I'm ready. What is it that you wanted to tell me?" he urged. Ichigo nodded and took a few more calming breaths. He averted his eyes and began from the beginning of his horror story.

Ichigo told Grimmjow everything, leaving out names and explicit details that were too much too personal and humiliating. Grimmjow's face had contorted into many different emotions through the whole story. He wanted to cry, to hit whom ever had hurt Ichigo. He wanted to hold him and never let go and he wanted to protect him with his life. Everything about his situation was all too similar to Joel's, therefore he felt the need to protect Ichigo strongly.

When Ichigo finished, he was holding back from crying.

"It's okay to cry Ichi," Grimmjow said softly.

"I'm not that weak," Ichigo rebutted.

"Ichi, crying doesn't mean you're weak. It shows that you have a heart, that you are stong enough to deal with emotions. Do you know how many people would do anything to be rid of them? To turn them off and to never feel again? I can tell you that most people would. Hell, I used to be one of them."

"You're right. It's just that I feel like I'm achieving nothing by crying," he replied, defeated, the tears falling free.

"Crying makes you feel better. That what it achieves," Grimmjow answered, sliding over to Ichigo who was still trying to suppress his sobs. "Come here and don't be afraid to let it all out. I won't judge." Ichigo moved into the inviting arms and let the dam break, Grimmjow stroking his back and his head and speaking soothing words.

'While we're like this, telling secrets, I think it's my turn…' Grimmjow thought.

"Ichi, I-I have something to tell you too. Don't worry, it's got nothing to do with you. It-It's about Joel," he stated. Ichigo pulled back a bit.

"J-Joel?"

"Yeah," he affirmed, his voice cracked as he could feel the tears and the lump in his throat forming from the memories already coming forth. He cleared his throat, trying to get rid of the lump so he could talk.

"Well, as everyone knows, he died because he com…commit…because he overdosed," he began, unable to say the two words "commited suicide." Ichigo nodded against his shoulder.

"The real reason why he did it wasn't leaked to the press because I refused to let it. I was the only one who knew anyway. Hal knows now, but no one else. Joel didn't do it because of the pressures of band life. He loved the band. He loved recording and playing live. He was generally a happy person," he had to stop to take a few breaths, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to finish. When he continued, the tears fell. He told Ichigo about Joel's domestic problems, also sparing names and explicit details. He told him about the last time he saw his beloved friend, when he had come to his house that last time.

By the time Grimmjow finished, he was also a blubbering mess and Ichigo had started again when he did. The two were clutching each other, needing comfort and comforting the other.

"I'm so sorry Grimm," Ichigo whispered, hugging him tighter.

"Thanks. I will protect you with all my will, Ichi. I won't let that happen to you ever again. I promise," Grimmjow assured.

"Thank-you. C'mon. We better get inside before we catch a cold," Ichigo suggested. Not arguing, Grimmjow agreed and got out of the spa.

When the two got back to the apartment, they went straight to the bedroom. They changed into their boxers and made a bed for them both out of the duvet covers on the floor. They got into the makeshift bed and snuggled close, still needing comfort.

"Ichi?" Grimmjow said.

"Yeah, grimm?" came Ichigo's tired reply.

"I-I want to you to be my boyfriend."

BOOM! DONE! I hope you don't hate me XD It may be just as long a wait for the next chapter. So sorry. But you know life gets in the way. Well I hope you review as I love it when you do. I get all fuzzy inside. Tell me what you thought, either generally or even if you want to fangirl/boy over a certain part/s. I encourage you! I also apologise about the spelling or grammar if there is any. Thank-you and see you soon.

-Taurie x