Pencil met paper with a small scratching sound as Ichigo narrowed his eyes in concentration.
He was working on a sketch. His mother and father both loved his drawings, telling him he would be a famous artist one day. Ichigo wasn't sure of that but he was sure of one thing. He wouldn't be showing his parents this particular drawing.
It was a head and shoulders picture of Grimmjow. He'd only seen the man briefly, but it felt like every detail had been etched into his brain. He knew he'd captured that wicked grin perfectly. But who could forget a face like that?
Setting down his pencil he flipped through the rest of the sheets. The sketchpad was nearly full, and every single picture in it was Grimmjow. Pictures of him naked, pictures of him laughing, completely imaginary pictures of him doing various things… one of him leaning against a wall and smoking a cigarette, something Ichigo could easily picture him doing. He didn't actually know if Grimmjow was a smoker or not, but it just seemed like… him.
The pictures made him wonder. He wondered about the scar on Grimmjow's chest, and the tattoo on his back. It had been a very simple tattoo, a gothic number six. What did that mean? What was the story behind it? He'd gotten a good look at it when Grimmjow was leading him out of the whorehouse and it fired his imagination.
Everything about his one-time 'friend' fired his imagination. Ichigo sighed as he gazed at his sketches before slowly closing the book. Was Grimmjow a thief? Part of the Yakuza? He just didn't know.
And he never would know if his mother got her way. Ichigo grimaced, remembering the scene in the hotel room. Things had gotten nasty, especially when Ichigo had absolutely refused to tell his parents about what had happened at the whorehouse. He'd tried to keep where he'd been a secret, but the lack of pants and some terrified calls from his friends had made that impossible. Now his mother was furious and his father was being overprotective. They both thought he was traumatized and hiding it, and he was going to therapy whether he wanted to or not.
The therapy wasn't too bad though. It was just boring and a waste of money, and his parents had plenty to waste. What Ichigo absolutely hated was the way people were acting around him. Everyone at school knew what had happened and apparently the rumours had gotten ridiculously out of hand. Ichigo didn't even want to know what they were saying but everyone was treating him like he'd been damaged somehow.
He didn't feel damaged at all. He felt like he'd had his first experience, and it had been good. He wanted to do it again and he wanted, more than anything, to find out more about Grimmjow. Who was he? What did he do for a living? Why was he carrying around lockpicks? Why had someone so handsome gone to a whorehouse in the first place?
Sighing, Ichigo put aside his sketch book. He couldn't find out now. Maybe after he was sixteen. He had a savings bond, it was a birthday gift he'd been given five years ago by his grandmother. It would mature on his sixteenth birthday. Maybe he could use it to hire a private detective and find the man who had changed his life. Or maybe not. Was this obsession with a person he'd met only once healthy?
He'd have to think about it.
Ichigo hesitated before opening the door to the small office building.
He was going to visit a private detective. His name was Nnoitra Gilga, and Ichigo had heard of him from one of his friends. Apparently, his father had employed him to find out who was stealing from his business. The man had done a very good job and one of his former employees was in jail now for embezzlement.
Nnoitra's office was on the third floor. There was no secretary and he seemed to be working in a space smaller than Ichigo's room. There was a computer and dozens of papers everywhere. The PI stood with a grin and Ichigo was struck by how tall and thin he was. He really was a beanpole, but he also moved with a fluidity that made the teenager wary. He knew plenty about martial arts and he thought Nnoitra could be dangerous. The missing eye only added to that impression.
"Hi there. You would be Kurosaki Ichigo?" Nnoitra offered him a hand and Ichigo took it with a nod. His handshake was firm but not painful. "Have a seat." He gestured at the chair across from him and Ichigo settled into it. It was really quite comfortable. "Now, what can I do for you?"
"I want to find someone." Ichigo said, opening his sketch pad and passing it to the PI. "I don't really know anything about him except his first name, Grimmjow." The detective looked over the picture with a grin and began flipping through the sketch book. Ichigo winced to himself. None of the pictures were outright pornographic but a few of them were a bit on the risqué side. "I think he might be a thief." He admitted. Nnoitra glanced up from the pictures.
"Why d'you think that?" He asked and Ichigo swallowed before explaining the situation. "Hm. And why d'you want to find him?"
"I…" Ichigo looked away, feeling a blush heating his cheeks. This was really stupid but he just couldn't help it. "It… felt so good. I want to – to see if he's… interested… in more…" More sex, but also more than that. Ichigo wasn't into casual sex with strangers despite what his first time had been like. He wanted to know Grimmjow, know the man who had taken his virginity. He looked up in surprise as Nnoitra began to laugh.
"Fuck! Oh man. I can't charge you for this." He reached over into a card holder. It had several different business cards. He fished out one that was white with blue highlights and snapped it onto the desk in front of him. "Here's his business card. Have fun, kid." Ichigo gaped at him. The PI knew Grimmjow? "He's a locksmith, by the way."
"A locksmith?!" Ichigo looked at the business card, dazed. It was for Always Affordable Locksmiths. "He works for them?" He asked and Nnoitra shook his head.
"Nah, he owns the company." He said and Ichigo blinked. He really hadn't expected Grimmjow to be a respectable professional. It was almost a letdown. "Family business, he inherited it from his parents. He's damned good at it though. Just call and ask for him, tell them Nnoitra sent you. He'll talk to ya. Good luck kid." That was clearly a dismissal and Ichigo stood, pocketing the card and taking back his sketch book.
"Thank you very much." He remembered to say. He was really very grateful to the PI. This had probably been the fastest found person in history. Nnoitra just grinned.
"No problem. You made my day, kid. A thief, hahaha!" Nnoitra's laughter followed him as he beat a quick retreat. He was pretty sure Grimmjow would be hearing about that. Now, though, he had to get the courage to actually approach the blue haired man. That was going to be difficult but he would manage it.
Ichigo had plenty of courage.
"Wonder what this guy wants?" Grimmjow murmured as he flipped through his blackberry. He kept all of his appointments on it, usually meetings with clients to hear what they needed and give them price quotes. He preferred to handle that himself, most of the time. That way if there was a screw up on the pricing he had no one to blame but himself. "Hope he's not cheap." The last client had gotten on his last nerve with his preoccupation over the price. Grimmjow had finally lost his patience and told him that the hardware they used ranged from middling to top notch, and he refused to use crap. The man had left and Grimmjow honestly hoped he didn't come back. Some customers, he did not need.
He took a seat at his desk and got to work on the financial statements. He was no accountant, but Grimmjow went through them anyway. Running a successful business meant keeping an eye on things, and he was damned good at it.
He glanced up as the door opened and almost knocked his laptop off the desk. Disbelieving blue eyes met embarrassed but warm brown and Grimmjow found himself tongue tied, for the first time in a long time.
"Hi Grimmjow." Ichigo's smile was shy and hesitant as he stepped up to the desk. Grimmjow blinked as his brain began to reboot. The redhead was just a kid, and that meant…
"I take it you don't really have a safe for me to open?" He asked and Ichigo went a little pink. "Heh." Normally he'd have been pissed at having his time wasted, but this was a special case. "Well, what can I do for you?" He tried not to sound flirtatious and knew he'd failed miserably. But it was hard. The kid was wearing faded blue jeans and a tight white t-shirt with the number fifteen on it. He could see plenty of muscles and remember all the others.
"No, no safe, sorry about that." Ichigo admitted as Grimmjow waved him into a seat. He sat down, examining him. "I never thought you would be a locksmith."
"What, you thought I was in the Yakuza or something?" Grimmjow grinned at the look on the kid's face. That was exactly what he thought, he could tell. "Just because I have a tattoo?" It wasn't the first time he'd gotten that reaction. Ichigo went pink again and nodded reluctantly. "Sorry to be such a letdown."
"Meeting you again would never be a letdown." Ichigo replied and Grimmjow blinked. That sounded like the kid was flirting right back. "Grimmjow, um… I know this is probably stupid, and you'll probably tell me to go away but… I was wondering if you wanted to… go on a date?" He asked and Grimmjow sat back.
There were about a million and one reasons why he shouldn't do that. Even assuming Ichigo was sixteen now – it had been a while – it was just a terrible idea. He was twenty-six. A ten year difference might not mean much when you were older, but when you were younger it was a massive gulf in maturity. Grimmjow could be pretty damn immature at times, but he was still further along in life than Ichigo. And yet…
"I'd love to." He heard himself saying with a bit of horrified amusement. Where the hell were his brains? Probably down in his pants somewhere. "How about this Friday?" Ichigo's smile practically lit up the room.
"That would be perfect. Could you pick me up after school?" He asked, which reminded Grimmjow of his age. But… sixteen was legal. Just barely, but legal. They quickly made the arrangements and decided on a movie followed by a sushi place. Grimmjow wondered what Ichigo would be telling his parents, but it really wasn't his business. The kid would probably be lying his balls off.
Hopefully, he wouldn't get caught.
"Grimmjow!" Ichigo frowned as a woman with bright green hair ran up and hugged his boyfriend in an excessively friendly way. Grimmjow just patted her on the back, regarding her with amused tolerance. "I'm so glad you came!" She grinned, revealing a gap toothed smile. Ichigo blinked as she went from 'possible threat' to 'possible threat but amazingly endearing' in his mind. Her costume helped with that. She was dressed as a cavewoman, complete with a bone in her hair.
"How could I stay away?" Grimmjow asked easily and Ichigo smiled, glancing around the room. They were at Grimmjow's Halloween party. Well, that was how he thought of it, but Grimm wasn't throwing the party. He only had a small bachelor condo, nothing that could handle a crowd like this. Instead they were all meeting at an old mansion and Ichigo wondered whose place it was. Grimmjow hadn't specified when he'd invited him out.
They had been dating for two months. Everything was completely innocent, nothing but trips to the movies, restaurants and sporting activities. The last was actually his favorite. Grimmjow had introduced him to indoor rock climbing and was an excellent sparring partner at the dojo. His parents had no idea he was seeing anyone, let alone a man ten years his senior. It had taken plotting worthy of a spy master to manage that but Ichigo had done it.
Right now, his parents thought he was at Orihime's Halloween party. And he had made an appearance there before slipping out to join Grimmjow. The blue man had been waiting for him a block away and they'd quickly made their way here instead, to this beautiful house in the good part of town. It was done up with cobwebs, bats and all kinds of little tombstones and carved pumpkins. And the food…
"Oh my god." Ichigo said, stunned, as he looked over the spread. He was suddenly very glad he'd ditched Orihime's party. She had many lovely qualities but her cooking was simply horrifying. Here, there were beautifully arrayed platters of food that looked professional in quality. They were all Italian, too. Little meatballs on skewers, baby tomatoes with basil and mozzarella on skewers, deep fried tortellini, phyllo cups filled with fig preserves and topped with cheese, toast with bruschetta…
"Yeah, nice isn't it? Nel and her brothers made all this." Grimmjow said as Ichigo tentatively took a phyllo cup. It crunched pleasantly and the sweetness of the preserves went perfectly with the salty cheese. "They're Italian in case you couldn't tell."
"I had guessed." He said and Grimmjow laughed. "So this is her place?" It wasn't much of a stretch. Grimmjow nodded, glancing around.
"Yeah. Her brothers can be a nuisance but she does the best parties – hoi!" Grimmjow tried to duck but couldn't avoid getting hugged by a stick thin man dressed up as an insect. A second, huge man dressed as a witch doctor hugged him a second later and Ichigo stared in shock. "Let go of me you bastards!"
"Oh Grimmjow, don't call us names! We love you dontcha know! You'll be our brother in law someday!" The big man said with a huge sob and Ichigo instantly scowled. Brother in law? But Grimmjow's scowl was just as ferocious.
"Give it up Dondochakka!" He shoved the man off him, but gently. "Nice costume by the way." Grimmjow commented and that easily redirected the stranger's attention.
"Thank you! I spent so long on it, dontcha know!" He said happily.
"Your costume is great too, Grimm!" The second man said and Ichigo wondered what his name was. He hadn't caught it yet. He agreed about Grimmjow's costume though. He was dressed as a pirate which wasn't very original, but Grimmjow managed to make the outfit look real. He was wearing an actual sword, too, although it was peace bonded to prevent any problems. "Who's this?" He asked, noticing Ichigo quietly munching on the snacks.
"My boyfriend, Kurosaki Ichigo." Grimmjow said easily and Ichigo smiled, feeling warmed. He was glad Grimmjow was willing to tell his friends about him. "This is Pesche. He and Dondochakka are Nel's brothers."
"Oh. So you and Nel used to date?" He asked and Grimmjow grimaced as Dondochakka suddenly sobbed.
"Nel and Grimmjow would be perfect for each other, perfect! Every time there is a bad breakup she goes to him for comfort." He confided and Ichigo felt more than a bit uncomfortable. Had they missed the part about him being Grimmjow's boyfriend now? "But they never stay together! We don't know why!"
"I'm gay, that's why." Grimmjow lied with a perfectly straight face. Ichigo choked a little at that. "I just have a craving for boobs now and again. Now, can we get on with the party?" He said and they managed to extricate themselves from Nel's family and start to circulate. Ichigo noticed that Nnoitra was there, dressed up as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. He was with a rather pretty girl dressed up as Dorothy, complete with a stuffed dog. He didn't know anyone else but Grimmjow was more than willing to introduce him. Then Ichigo spotted someone who made him stiffen. That white hair… unless it was just a costume…?
"Grimm, who is that?" He asked softly, his eyes narrowing as he looked at the stranger. He had his back to them so Ichigo couldn't be sure. Grimmjow glanced over with a frown.
"Oh, um… that's my cousin, Shiro. Stay away from him, he has problems." Grimmjow warned but Ichigo had other intentions. "Ichigo, wait!" Grimmjow made a grab for him but he slipped by, mayhem on his mind. He gripped the other man's shoulder and turned him around, meeting surprised black and gold eyes.
"You." He spat out as the white man stared.
"You!" He sounded more surprised than anything, but then he grinned. "Aw, you mad? Didn't enjoy your day as a hooker?" He said with a laugh and Ichigo swung on him. The white man blocked the blow with his arm and swung back. Things were about to get nasty when Grimmjow, Nnoitra and a man with green eyes intervened. Ichigo found himself caught in his boyfriend's arms and Shiro was similarly restrained.
"No fighting. This is a party!" Nel said very firmly, holding a metal spatula. Ichigo had no idea what she intended to do with it. "Or I am putting this where the sun doesn't shine. Not that that would be unfamiliar to you, Shiro." She added and he gave her a particularly perverted grin.
"Mmm, that's sexy. I love a dominant woman." Shiro said and Ichigo wanted to punch his lights out. Unfortunately, Grimmjow's grip on his arms was pretty good. And the blue man was pulling him away.
"You know Shiro somehow?" He asked in a low tone as he let go. Ichigo shot a sharp glance at the white man before turning his attention to his boyfriend. Grimmjow was looking and sounding quite worried.
"He's the one who sold me to the whorehouse." He said shortly and Grimmjow looked puzzled for a moment.
"But he couldn't have been. He's not allowed to leave Karakura Town. Wait… Shiro! Have you been violating your parole conditions?" Grimmjow snarled loudly enough to be heard over the party and Shiro looked at him wide eyed.
"Oh no! I'd never do a thing like that!" He said in a wounded tone with obviously false innocence. Grimmjow turned away from him with a disgusted sigh. Ichigo frowned at him, wondering what he was talking about. Parole conditions?
"Shiro isn't much older than you." Grimmjow said by way of explanation, keeping his voice down this time. "Here, want a glass of blood wine?"
"Um? Sure." Ichigo took the concoction and sampled it cautiously, finding that it was actually sangria. He was technically too young to be drinking but no one ever enforced that for private parties and he wasn't driving anyway. "It's good… so what's the story with your cousin?" He asked, suddenly wondering. Grimmjow had mentioned his family at all, for the year they'd been together. Ichigo hadn't made an issue of it because he wasn't about to introduce Grimm to his family either, but was there a story behind that?
"Well, I'd say he's the black sheep of the family but the truth is, he's the only family I've got left." Grimmjow admitted and Ichigo blinked, wondering what had happened. "He's a degenerate asshole who likes to pick fights and fuck anything that moves." Ichigo choked on his wine, coughing a little as Grimmjow grinned. "And if it doesn't move he'll shake it. He picked one fight too many and got sent to juvie. He's on parole now and he should not have been in Los Noches. That's why I didn't realize it was him. Silly bastard." Grimmjow muttered and Ichigo managed a smile.
"I guess I can't kill him if he's related to you." He said lightly but Grimmjow shook his head.
"Oh, don't hesitate on my account! I've wanted to kill him for years." He confided and Ichigo laughed. "But enough about him. Want a phyllo cup?"
"Actually, yes." All the excitement had made him hungry. They both went to visit the food tables and Ichigo got introduced to some more of Grimmjow's friends. The man with the green eyes turned out to be Ulquiorra. He was dressed like Mephistopheles and pulling it off masterfully.
"I love your Frankenstein costume, by the way." Grimmjow murmured in his ear and Ichigo blushed lightly. He'd managed to get the patchwork effect down pretty well, and the bolts on his neck had come from a costume shop.
"Thanks. Did you want to dance?" The party was spread out over several rooms and Nel had a ballroom to work with. The music playing right now was mostly classical, waltzes and things. Ichigo knew how to dance, though, he'd gotten lessons to help with his martial arts. Grimmjow looked a touch surprised.
"Sure, if you want to. I don't really know how to dance to things like this though." He cautioned and Ichigo laughed, putting an arm around his waist.
"We can just make it up." It wasn't like anyone here would care. Ichigo revelled in that as he led Grimmjow to the ballroom and they started to dance, close together. If he'd been at Orihime's party he would never have dared do something like this. They were still high school students and he wasn't really open about his sexuality with them. With Grimmjow's friends, strangely, he could be more himself. They were older and used to different lifestyles. It was oddly liberating.
Soon, though, he needed to go home. Grimmjow took him back, although not all the way to his house. No, the blue man dropped him off a block away and they parted with a gentle but heated kiss. Ichigo was smiling as he walked home, his hands in his pockets.
This had been an excellent Halloween.