Busy weekend with chores and a party. :) Hope you guys had a great one! I owe people replies, but I thought I'd post this up first.

I don't think I've ever slept on such luxurious bedsheets before. Renji's really getting spoiled by the Kuchiki family. It's so soft and smooth, and as I snuggle against the pillows and the duvet, it feels like I'm surrounded by puffs of warm, fluffy cloud.

But alas, it's not helping me fall asleep any faster. I try not to toss and turn too much so that I won't startle Renji, who's sleeping only a couple of feet away from me, but my body continues to thrum with restlessness and I just can't lie still.

"Dude...go to sleep," a muffled, sleepy grumble floats over from Renji's side of the bed.

Ugh. So much for trying not to wake him. "I can't," I whisper back. "Sorry."

The bed bounces and creaks, then Renji's disheveled head pops into view. "Shouldn't have given you tea," he mutters while trying to swipe his hair out of his face. They remain stubbornly stuck all over his face and neck, and after a while he huffs a sigh of defeat and plops down face-first next to me.

"It's not the tea you oaf," I chuckle.

"Tch," he mumbles. "I was trying to make a joke."

I roll my eyes and turn to my side so that I'm facing him. "Lame," I say with a smirk.

It's amazing how much not even two minutes of pointless babble with my best friend can cheer me up. As Renji flips himself over and tucks his arms behind his head, I'm suddenly reminded of the many sleepovers we've had since we were little. His dad is really quite cool even though the rest of the family is very uptight. He had even helped us set up a large tent inside Renji's room when we were eight, and we used to pretend that we're camping outdoors and we'd scare each other with stupid monster sounds and flashlight tricks. Boy, we're such idiots back then.

After a long moment of comfortable silence, Renji asks tentatively, "What do you see in him?"

The question surprises me, and for a few seconds I don't know what to say in return.

"Is it the sex?" Renji wonders out loud. "Or is it his looks?"

I feel my ears grow warm as blood rushes towards my face. God, is this what Renji really thinks of me? That I'm such a shallow, vain person? But then I think about it a little more and find myself speechless as I realize that I don't really have an answer to this question.

What is it about Grimmjow that draws me to him?

His looks is definitely what started it all, but that's not everything. I...I don't think I can explain it with words. There's just something about him that sucks me in. His eyes maybe, and the confident, devilish gleam in them; the way his canines show themselves when he curls his lips into an arrogant, lopsided grin; the way his voice rumbles deep in his chest when he speaks; the way he's so crass and unapologetic in everything he does...and the way his mask would slip occasionally, giving me a brief glimpse of how gentle he can be if he wants to.

It's ironic how in the end, it is the very thing that irks me that endears him to me the most. It's what makes him more real and less like an untouchable idol whom I can only admire from afar. Why does he hold himself back? The question won't stop gnawing at me and I nearly forget that I haven't given Renji an answer.

"It's..." I sigh. "...hard to explain, Ren."

How am I supposed to tell Renji that I love Grimmjow's smiles, the way he touches me, the strong, dominant air that he exudes, the promise of danger and excitement that I sense from his sapphire-like eyes, and his kisses? Renji wouldn't understand, and he probably doesn't want to hear all that mushy shit either, seeing that he's as straight as an arrow.

Damn, thinking about Grimmjow and all the little things that make my heart beat wildly for him is definitely not the way to go if I want to stay mad at the man. So I think about his spiteful parting words instead. Fucking asshole, shoving me aside like I'm a cheap toy, as if this entire thing is a joke. I feel a scowl tug at my features as the thoughts stir up something skin to anger in my chest.

After a while, Renji's voice cuts through the silence. "So what're you gonna do?"

I shoot him a sideways glance and pretend that I don't know what he's talking about. "What do you mean?"

"Tch," he snorts. "Ya think I'm stupid? Never mind, don't answer that." He pauses as we both laugh, then as I start to quiet down, he continues, "Maybe he just...I dunno, lost his cool for a second. You guys should talk it over...or something..."

I'm surprised. Renji...on Grimmjow's side?

He shrugs when he sees my raised eyebrows. "I'm not defending him, but you...can't just leave it unresolved like that ya know? I haven't seen you this unhappy for a long time, not even when...when you first realized..." He trails off, no doubt referring to the turbulent period of time in my life when I discovered that I prefer to play for the other team even as I was dating one of the prettiest girl in town.

I heave out an annoyed sigh. "I dunno..." I mumble. I've always known that Grimmjow's rude, but come on, I have my limits. "If he apologizes, maybe."

Renji snorts. "Ya think he'll do that?"

Now it's my turn to shrug. Renji doesn't respond, and the room falls silent once again. Both of us stare blankly at the ceiling with our hands folded behind our heads. My mind just won't rest, with curiosity gnawing at my gut, joining the disappointment and indignation that's already swirling in there. What on earth could've happened between Grimmjow and Ilforte's brother?

"Try to get some sleep," Renji mutters sleepily. "Otherwise we won't be able to wake up tomorrow." For emphasis, a large, calloused palm lands on my face and attempts to forcefully close my eyes.

Between laughter and half-hearted punches, fatigue finally catches up with us, and I drift off, lulled by Renji's gravelly snores .

I've been staring at the computer screen for thirty minutes, but the only thing my senses are picking up is the sound of hammering and muffled conversations from the men working outside. Today is the last day. After this they will be done with Geta-boshi's shop, and I probably won't see Grimmjow again unless I happen to run into him at the apartment lobby. Or...unless I pay him a visit.

The idea is too tempting, and I shake my head to get it out of my system. The wound on my dignity is too fresh. I don't know if I will be able to control myself if I see him so soon. Much as I'd really like to sock him in the jaw, if I'm honest with myself, I can't bear to see his perfect skin marred by bruises.

Unfortunately for me, someone up there is determined to test me, because not an hour later, I hear a yell—Ilforte?—followed by a stream of curses in a deeper, rougher voice. Hurried footsteps go by the office towards the back of the shop, then two minutes later, the office door rattles in its flimsy frame as someone bangs on it.

I jump up and yank the door open to find Grimmjow and Ilforte standing in front of me; Ilforte's brows creased with worry and apology while Grimmjow cradles one of his hand in the other.

"Again?" I stare at them in disbelief.

Ilforte gives his friend another regretful look and explains, "It's my fault, I startled him and...his cut re-opened..."

"It's nothing," Grimmjow interrupts him gruffly. "I just need a band-aid and I'll be out of your way."

My eyebrow twitches at the way he's addressing me without looking at me in the eye. He sounds almost petulant, like a child who is sulking about being reprimanded but is unable to deny his guilt.

"Come on in," I say curtly.

Ilforte's eyes flick between us, gradually widening as though something just clicked in his head. I roll my eyes. I guess I'm not the only one with a sour mood this morning. The blonde hesitates for a moment before giving me a sheepish smile and scurrying away, leaving Grimmjow and I at the doorway with no choice but to acknowledge each other's presence.

I frown when Grimmjow reveals his injured hand. The half-healed cut has indeed re-opened, and it doesn't look pretty. I rummage around the cabinets for the first-aid kit and let him stew in the awkward silence. It's only when I'm almost done taping the gauze around his palm that he finally speaks.


The apprehension in his tone is obvious, and when I lift my head to look at him, he averts his gaze. I heave a sigh and try to summon my wrath, but to my chagrin, my voice comes out softer than I want it to be.

"You're an ass, you know that?" I mutter, sounding more annoyed than angry.

He stubbornly keeps his face turned away, and after waiting for a few more seconds, the last strand of my patience finally snaps. I let go of his freshly-bandaged hand and shove him hard in the chest, sending him stumbling backwards until his back bumps into the wall. His head snaps up and his eyes fly open in surprise. A flash of anger crosses his features for a split second before dissipating completely when our eyes meet.

I curl my fingers around the collar of his t-shirt and shake him harshly, not caring if I might piss him off in the process.

"How dare you say that to me? How dare you!" I all but scream in his face. "You told me you're interested! You gave me hope, then you throw it right back at me the next fucking day! Do you have any idea how that made me feel? Do you even care—"

He reaches up and grabs me, his fingers wrapped tightly around my wrist. For a moment I thought he's going to push me away, but he doesn't.

"Look," he says evenly, "I know I shouldn't have said what I said. I'm sorry."

I breathe heavily through flared nostrils and stare intently at him, searching his face for signs of sarcasm. All I find is what seems to be genuine remorse and a bit of something that I can't put my finger on. If I have to describe it, I'd have to say it might actually be a hint of longing. The discovery startles me, and I let go of his t-shirt. He shrugs his shoulders to straighten his clothes, and it is then I finally notice how tired he looks. The usually perfect skin under his eyes appear puffy, and the air of confidence that he carries with him so naturally is absent.

"Where were you last night?" he asks suddenly.

Taken aback by the unexpected question, I reply automatically. "I stayed over at Renji's."

A weird expression creeps onto his face and his lips curl into a slight smirk. "That's good," he says with a nod.

His reaction only confuses me even more, but before I can ask him to what he means, he's already pushing himself off the wall and trying to get to the door. My effort to stop him is easily rebuffed when he pins me with his piercing gaze.

"Don't take it personally, Ichi," he says, his voice uncharacteristically gentle and apologetic. "It's better this way, trust me."

Without waiting for my response, he slips out through the opened door and disappears from my sight, leaving me speechless in the tiny office.

I finally learn the answer to the question that has been plaguing me the entire day when I see the folded bundle in front of my apartment. It's the jacket that I'd worn to Grimmjow's apartment yesterday. I think I know now, how he knew that I didn't go home last night. He must've looked for me after I left his apartment, and when I didn't answer the door, left my jacket at my door. But why he would do that, and why didn't he simply return the garment to me at the shop today is beyond me.

I pick up my jacket and let myself into my apartment. The door closes with a muted click behind me, and I start to gather my things in a large gym bag.

It's Renji who suggested that I stay with him for a few days, mostly so that I have a distraction that would keep me from feeling too depressed about the whole situation with Grimmjow. I have to say that Renji has a point, plus his place is so much more lavish and comfortable than mine anyway. I'm already thinking about his heated indoor pool and the first-grade dining that his chef serves as I pack. It'll be just like old times.

Within half an hour, I have my clothes and other basic necessities stuffed in the bag. Then I pad over to the living room to get my laptop. I stop short in my tracks as my eyes settle on the empty spot on my coffee table, where I usually place my computer.

Crap! My laptop!

I slap myself on the forehead in dismay, suddenly remembering where it's at. I had fled from Grimmjow's apartment so quickly yesterday that I'd left it behind.

My pulse picks up automatically just from the mere thought of having to pay the man a visit, and I mutter a string of curses under my breath.


Five minutes later, I'm standing in front of his door, my gym bag slung over one shoulder while my sneakers hang loosely from my left hand. I stare at the slightly rusty number plate on the old, scratched up wooden door with a deep sense of trepidation.

Well, there is no avoiding it now. I have to get my laptop. I would've just made do with borrowing Renji's computer for my personal stuff to avoid Grimmjow for a while, but all the source code for Cero Constructions' record keeping software is on that damn machine.

After blowing out a long breath, I finally knock on the door.

Seconds tick by in silence, so I knock again, making sure that the sound is crisp and loud. If anyone's in there, they'd have to be deaf not to hear it. Our crappy apartment really isn't designed to be soundproof.

"I'm not interested," Grimmjow's unmistakable rough voice says, slightly muffled behind the door.

I can't help but smirk. The idiot must have assumed that I'm a salesman.

"It's me," I announce.

There's a few seconds of silence, then I hear the lock and security latch being disengaged. The door opens slowly to reveal a very disheveled-looking Grimmjow.

My jaw nearly falls open at the sight of the man. His unruly blue hair looks like an exploded bird's nest, tangled and sticking up in a thousand directions on one side and matted to his scalp on the other.

"Hey," he greets a little sheepishly and rakes his fingers through his hair. His eyebrows quirk slightly as he glances between my sneakers and my gym bag.

I shrug at his unspoken question. "Going over to Renji's."

"I see," he says, nodding his head. An awkward pause follows as both of us stare at each other.

For a moment, I find myself wishing that he'd tell me that last night was a mistake and that he wants me back. A lump forms in my throat immediately at the thought. Fuck, even now, even after what he has done to me, I still want him. Badly. Really, really badly.

I must be out of my mind.

And I most certainly am, because the next thing I know, I'm clutching his t-shirt and pressing my lips on his. I clench my eyes shut, not wanting to see the shocked expression on his face, not wanting to acknowledge what I'm doing. I just want one last kiss, one last taste of what I'm being denied. What hurts me the most is that I don't even understand why I'm being denied.

It feels like the kiss lasted forever, but in reality it can't have lasted more than a handful of seconds. Through it all, Grimmmjow doesn't kiss me back. He just stands there like a fucking statue, frozen and completely silent, and when I finally pull away, he stares at me like he has never seen me before. But there it is again, the look of longing—stronger now than what I had sensed at the shop—is clear in his eyes.

There is no doubt that he wants me, which is absolutely maddening. I don't understand why he's doing this to himself, to me, to what could've been us.

I wait for his response, any response, but when it becomes clear that he's not going to do anything except gape at me wordlessly, a heavy sense of weariness settle in my bones. So I straighten up and clear my throat, and pretend that the kiss never happened.

"I'm here to pick up my laptop," I croak before breaking our eye contact. I can't bring myself to look at him anymore.

My voice rouses him from his frozen state, and he snaps to attention like someone who has just been smacked in the face. With a curt nod, he turns and walks back into his apartment, his strides unnaturally stiff.

When he hands the laptop to me, I snatch it from him and slide it into my gym bag without looking at him. I don't even bother saying goodbye.

The walk to Renji's house is the longest one I've ever taken in my life.

To be continued...