A/N: I'm going to warn you guys now, there is a terrible cliffhanger at the end of this chapter. I promise I'll try to get the next chapter up soon, final week is almost over and then I'm going home for the holidays! Hopefully I'll wrap up the whole story over the break :)

Anyway, thanks again for the reviews. You readers make me happy


Chapter 8 - Craving

"And now I have finally seen the end
(Finally seen the end)"


On Wednesday I decided to humor Rukia. I sent her an e-mail saying that Grimmjow was coming over on Thursday night, and if she didn't hear from me by Saturday she had my permission to come drag me out of whatever emotional funk I had entered.

Yes, I said coming over to my house. You think I could have a serious conversation with Grimmjow about how our mind blowing sex life and completely consuming relationship had turned me into an addict while in a public place? Yeah, I don't think I would have even been able to start a conversation like that when I knew people could see or hear me while I was saying it.

Instead, I'd picked the comfort of my apartment, where I was king. Well, sort of. Grimmjow had been here the other day and I'd still almost buckled to the ridiculous pull he had over me, but I figured that was unavoidable.

After e-mailing Rukia I gave Renji a call. He answered pretty quickly.

"Hey man, sorry about the other day. I mean I know we'd talked about how you felt about Grimm before, but then Rukia wanted to come and I had no idea she was going to try to talk you into trying again." Renji burst out, as if he'd been waiting to get that off his chest for days, and I laughed.

"Renji, I've known Rukia for long enough to know that when she has something she wants to say no one is going to stop her." I sighed, "and honestly, it's okay. She was right, I do owe him an explanation. He told me that he'd always expected me to come back… maybe if I'd made it clear to him why I was leaving in the first place we wouldn't be where we are now."

"I doubt you would have been able to explain it to him then" Renji mused, "to be honest I used to wonder if I'd ever get to talk to you like we did before you met him. When you guys were together it was like your entire world revolved around him… I don't think you would have been able to say something to his face that you knew might hurt him unless he'd already pissed you off."

I toyed with that idea in my mind, admitting that I'd probably never started an argument with Grimmjow, but also trying to imagine what I had seemed like to Renji at the time. Though I'd been much the same as I am now, I'd also been dependant on Grimmjow. I didn't NEED to ask his permission to do things, but I'd always run everything by him first. I had only exposed myself to his temper when I had been hoping for rough, make-up sex.

I shuddered at the memory and grunted at Renji.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right." I paused, considering my current situation, "I know every addict says that it will be different the second time, that they have more control and are more aware of their limits. I know it's not a convincing argument, and yet…"

"You're thinking about it." Renji sounded almost disappointed, and I cringed slightly, then tried to explain.

"I know that I'm weak to him, I always have been, but we've talked about this before. It's hard to explain, but I feel like I have more control now. Slightly, sure, but it's mostly just because I'm aware of the pull he has over me. He knows that I've left him before and am capable of doing it again, so I don't think he'd let it get out of hand. I'm going to try to explain my problems from the last time to him, and I guess we'll just go from there."

"Just take care of yourself, I don't want to see you like that again. I like the Ichigo who isn't afraid of anything or anyone, not the Ichigo who can't function without his other half."

"There is definitely a fine line between love, obsession and addiction." Wry, self-depreciating humor. "But thanks Renji. I'll see you this weekend, yeah?"

"Sounds good, later."


After work on Thursday I meticulously cleaned my apartment, just for something to do with my hands. Grimmjow was coming over around seven, and so I had about an hour after I got home from work before he showed up. When everything was pretty much spotless and I had a load of laundry in the wash, I collapsed in my favorite comfy armchair and wrung my hands nervously.

I had tried to convince Renji that I could do this, that I was prepared to face the potential reality of trying again with Grimmjow. I wanted to try, and I wanted to be okay to try, but I was still unsure.

So much of the past three years I'd been telling myself that I could never see Grimmjow again if I wanted to maintain my sanity. I was convinced that there was nothing good about that relationship. And then I'd seen his face, and after the initial panic, I'd realized I missed him. I realized that even though I'd been swallowed up and lost myself, it was only because I had cared for him too much.

Could I continue to punish myself for that? Punish us both for caring too much and then miss out on a relationship that might be the only one with authentic emotion I ever have? Or would I take a chance, gambling on my own well being, that I was a different person that I'd been the first time? Was it worth taking the chance?

I wanted to, but I still had doubts.

Pathetic. I was the one who wanted a chance to explain, so I needed to calm-fucking-down. I took a few deep breaths, focusing on a meditation technique my mom had tried to teach me to help me sleep when I was younger and I'd had a bad dream.

Focusing on my heartbeat, the air filling up and empting from my lungs, I shut my mind down until it was consumed with the most basic of functions.

It must have been later then I thought when I sat down because it felt like no time at all before Grimmjow was knocking on my door. Heart immediately resuming the rapid pace I had finally calmed it down from, I jumped up to get the door.

He stood there, in all his beautiful, business professional glory, smiling. Suits really contrasted the almost predatory look he often had in his eyes, but they also complimented it in a weird way. He probably made a really great businessman- sharks, every one of them. Or panthers.

"Yo." His smile stretched as he looked at me, then he gestured to the apartment behind me as if asking permission to come in. I nodded slightly and stepped aside, barely escaping a full body brush in the doorway that was sure to have melted me into a pile of pathetic want and craving. He strode by as if he'd barely noticed the tension such nearness caused, and wandered over to my couch as if he'd been here a million times.

He folded himself onto it as if he was used to trying to not ruin his suits, but sat with his legs spread and elbows resting on his knees in what I immediately recognized as his impatient pose. Turning to lock my apartment door, I wandered over to the chair I'd been resting in earlier and collapsed onto it with a rather undignified sigh.

He just watched me for a time, and I shifted a little, uncomfortable under his scrutiny. All I could think when I met his eyes was his parting statement of our last face-to-face meeting. Or the suggestive comments from the telephone call, my libido added silkily.

My body constantly betrayed me when I was around Grimmjow- at least some things were predictable in my life.

"So," I finally gathered the courage to own up to my addiction, difficult as it was to admit to when one was talking to the source. "I promised you an explanation, but first I have to ask." I leaned forward intently, gaze finally meeting his full on. "If you really don't know why I left, why do you think I left?"

His stare intensified for a moment, before he leaned back and threw his arms over the back of the couch. He consumed the space in my apartment with his aura alone, but watching his body stretched out across my couch consumed me in an entirely different way. I shook myself out of the daze to focus on his response.

"How was I supposed to know, ya just said ya were leaving and you'd seemed kind of stressed. Could have been family trouble, could have been me." he looked at me intently again before gesturing between us. "Had I known that it was something I'd done, as it's obvious to me now, I never would have let ya go without an explanation in the first place. I never expected ya to stay away for years."

"Yeah, you said that last time," I sighed, raking my hands through my hair, "and it's really not as personal as you might think."

"Then why waste the effort to avoid me and all associated with me for years?" The question was a taunt, and I'm ashamed to say that I rose to it.

"It took me three years to see that it's not anyone's fault, okay? So don't make this personal. I, I…" I stumbled over what direction I wanted to go next, how I could possibly explain… then I just relented, blurting out the truth as I tried to melt away into the couch in shame. "I was dangerously addicted to you, Grimm, to the lifestyle we were living. I needed to get out."

He stared at me intently while I tried to avoid his gaze; when I heard a soft, thoughtful rumbling coming from his throat, my eyes immediately met his.

"So it was the marijuana of all things?" His gaze was searching, and slightly confused. He knew that I'd never been reluctant or hesitant about smoking, that I'd never been ashamed, so it made sense the idea would confuse him.

"No, but yeah, sort of." I couldn't find a way to explain that didn't reveal exactly how much Grimmjow was still inside me. "Ah fuck it." I murmured, eyes clashing fully with his for the first time all night with no intention of looking away. If I was going to do this, I was damn well going to do it right.

"When I say addicted to the lifestyle, I can't deny that smoking was a part of it. Smoking was obviously not such a great idea for pursuing a career, but it wasn't why I felt like I had to leave." I took a deep breath; staring into Grimmjow's eyes was threatening to unnerve me, but I didn't relent. He deserved the truth, I owed him that. "You, you are why I left, but it wasn't your fault. I had become so… dependant on you. My entire life had been wrapped around you, and your apartment and your friends. I woke up every morning wanting to see your face and fell asleep every night dreaming about it. I let my friendship with Renji and Rukia slip on the back burner as I consumed myself with the exotic pull of our relationship.

"I was seduced by everything you offered at first, the erotic possibilities of being with a man, the lifestyle associated with smoking… but soon it was your eyes, you hair, you laugh. All of those things tied me irrevocably to you.

"And then one day, I woke up to reality. We had an argument, one I doubt you remember because it was pointless, and you snapped that I needed to 'take a hit and chill the fuck out'. Those words had echoed in my head that night, and all of the sudden I saw my life for what it was, and where it was headed." I paused, closing my eyes, before raising them back to meet Grimmjow's. I had seen confusion there as I spoke, but it was followed by comprehension and an intensity that I couldn't quite match to an emotion, but right now those azure eyes were rapt with attention. I tried to focus on making my point, hoping he could understand, eager to end the moment of soul-bearing honesty and lay all my cars on the table.

"I would have given up any hopes, dreams, family or friends for you. I was addicted, consumed by everything that our lifestyle was, and I needed distance to regain any sense of self I still had." I paused, too one last deep breath, and admitted:

"I needed to leave you if I wanted to salvage myself."

There. I had said it, and it felt good. It felt TRUE. Being honest always gave me the deepest sense of satisfaction, especially when I felt like I'd been holding something in for such a long time. Three fucking years it had taken me to find myself in the place I was now, looking at Grimmjow and actually physically and emotionally resisting the urge to jump back into his arms.

I was in control of myself, even though I knew exactly what it felt like to press my lips up against his. What it felt like to bite down on the tendons where his neck met his shoulder, what it felt like to run my tongue down the ripples in his abs. I could think about those things and still meet the striking blue eyes that hadn't left my face for a second since he'd walked into my apartment.

I was stronger, I was in control, but I was also still weak to him.

And then Grimmjow laughed. I couldn't help but flinch in surprise, I hadn't seen amusement anywhere in his eyes while I'd been talking and couldn't understand where it came from. What was funny about me losing myself to him? I flushed, though I wasn't sure yet whether to be embarrassed or irritated. I waited for the laughter to subside and watched him clamp a hand across his eyes as he leaned back into the couch heavily.

"Ichigo, what you've been calling addiction… you know it's love right?"

The way he asked it was so straightforward, so blunt, that for a second I just watched him. Eventually he slipped the hand covering his eyes away and looked at me pointedly.

"Being consumed by someone, weak to their every action, word and touch… it means that you love them. That you would move the earth for them." His smile turned sweet, just for a second, and I almost smiled back as my embarrassed irritation melted away.

"I know."

He took that in for a moment, tilting his head thoughtfully, and then laid down on my couch in one smooth motion. His tall frame and broad shoulders consumed what I had always thought of as a decent size sitting area; he made it look no bigger than a loveseat as his legs rested over the armrest opposite the one he was using as a pillow. I let him lay there, sensing him thinking and knowing he wasn't done talking yet. He had always done his thinking lying down, and for a split second I wondered if he had a couch in his office at work so that he could brainstorm laying down there too.

"The other stuff, the lifestyle…" he sighed, mood turned slightly sour, "I was caught up in it too. An escape from the reality I was so determined not to face. Maybe we were just too young, too naïve, too susceptible to weakness, pursuing frivolous desires and momentary pleasures." He turned his head from the ceiling to look at me. "Maybe we just needed time to grow up."

His point was clear: we're older now, we won't make those mistakes again, so let's try again.

"You think?" I asked curiously, "You're sure that it won't head in that direction again? Because I can't even look at you and not remember how out of control I used to be."

His eyes flashed with lust, a response I hadn't expected. He'd been doing such a good job of maintaining his distance and not threatening my sanity that I had forgotten to keep my guard up. Suddenly he was standing right in front of me, hands on each side of me resting on the chair's armrests, trapping me under his towering frame. His face was intent, measuring my response, before he tsked at me. Leaning down to whisper in my ear, Grimmjow his voice rolled out in a velvety purr.

"You'd do better not to keep reminding me how 'out of control' I make ya, it does wonderful things to me to know exactly how much I affect ya still." His breath brushed my ear, so close that I barely dared to breathe in fear of closing the space between his skin and mine. He chuckled slightly and leaned away, removing his arms and moving to pace about the room. "You're already more in control than ya used to be, don't tell me ya can't see that. I would have had ya crawling all over me by now."

I flushed slightly at the image, and he chuckled knowingly.

"If it makes ya feel any better, I'm barely resisting the urge to see if ya taste as good as I remember. Not that I can remember it exactly right anymore, it's been so long…" He trailed off and laughed outright this time as I flushed completely red. Irritated, I stood and stalked over to him, poking a finger in his chest.

"Hey, asshole, just because I haven't managed to stop my body from craving you doesn't mean that I'm just going to bend over and resign myself to it now that you're here. You haven't won me back yet- you haven't proved anything would be different."

"Oh, but I could make you enjoy bending over for me." Grimmjow growled with a predatory grin, grabbing the finger I'd been poking him with and yanking me forward by it until I was flush against him. I groaned at the contact, I couldn't help it, and his smile only widened.

He had gotten even more solid in the years we'd been apart; I supposed both of us had as we'd gotten older. This close I could see the tiny wrinkles around his eyes that were probably forming from stress, but they were still nestled in beautiful smooth skin, in smoothness that I knew extended all parts of his defined frame.

Speaking of his body, my hands had unconsciously flown to grab his biceps when he'd tugged me to him, and the treacherous hands were now caressing the muscles in small circles as I stared up into his face. Like I said – I hadn't managed to stop my body from craving him. Even if I did try to start over with him, it would take all of my self control to resist falling into the pathetic person I had been just a few years ago. I knew that, he knew that, and yet he still wanted to test the limits.

Or, maybe he was just trying to prove that I had the power to resist? Who knew.

"Grimm, wanting you was never the problem." I breathed on a sigh, not bothering to even try to pull away- we both knew I didn't want to. I'd forgotten how nice it felt to be this close to him, to look up into those azure blue depths and feel almost small. At 5'10'' I was hardly short, but Grimmjow stood a powerful 6'2'' that never failed to make me melt when I stared up at him.

"And yet, it was the problem. You seem to be under the false interpretation that you were the only one without control," his eyes were burning with intensity, and I was captivated by them as much as his body as he leaned his face down to mine. So close that his breath fanned my lips, taunting. "I can assure you: every time I saw you naked my knees got weak. Your smile had the power to change my mood entirely. Even listening to your mindless chatter about your retarded father had become so much a part of my life that I missed it when you left."

I shivered again, unaware that my head had tilted back slightly in invitation, lips gravitating to what they had always known as their matching set. Grimmjow groaned just slightly as I let my arms drift up to his hair, the silky locks that had always been my favorite. I grinned up at him, loving the temporary moment of control and clarity.

"Hey, Grimmjow? I think I'd like you to remind me exactly why trying this again is such a good idea."


A/N: Can't say I didn't warn you about the cliff-hanger :P

REVIEW! please :)