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“Mom! Mom! Look what I’ve found!”

The lady raised the eyes at the sky while her son scampered towards her.

“How many times have I told you not to pick things up from the shore?”

“But mom, it’s a present for you!”

His tender eyes softened her spirit. She sighed and tended her hand. “Okay, let me see what you’ve found.”

 

***

 

Being the last one to enter the crew only had downsides. One of them was that you couldn’t complain too much about being forced to explore an old wrecked ship on the beach looking for something useful while the rest of the crew went looking for some native of the area to spend some quality time with.

Grimmjow prayed that the old rotten wood could bear his weight. Of course, some god took his prayers and sank them somewhere: he plummeted from the deck to the berths. What saved his pirate ass were the old hammocks, not new but resistant enough to save him a one-way ticket to hell: a bad injury was equal to death for the crew.

He dangled head down and feet up, tangled in the ropes. His blood rushed all the way to his brain, making it heavier and heavier – a harsh reminder to Grimmjow that he actually had something in between his ears. His voice exploded in a curse. Something from the darkness echoed the sound back to him.

Grimmjow froze. A low, long growl was carving its way out of the throat of some beast floating in the darkness. Grimmjow knew in a blink of an eye that he was too close to an unknown danger to wait for his eyes to get used to the lack of light; his hand reached for the knife in his right boot, and he started cutting the ropes imprisoning him. The figure kept moving on the same spot, making the ropes and Grimmjow sway as well. In that condition, cutting the ropes without cutting off his own fingers was proving to be difficult, but when it came to a choice between his life and a finger or two, Grimmjow was willing to take his chances on the latter.

His head was pulsating, his ears couldn’t ignore the desperate snarls anymore and his legs were becoming numb from the clench of the ropes around them. Grimmjow had no way of knowing when his weight would become more than what the weakened ropes could support. So he wasn’t ready when the third rope he hacked at snapped and his body became too heavy for the ruined hammocks to hold. He fell again. A short flight and a bad landing. He knocked his head somewhere and everything became blurry for an indefinite span of time. What dragged him out of the slumber was the yell of the beast.

Grimmjow stood up. He propped himself against the wall behind him and looked at the creature. Slight rays of sun made its shape more definite: human arms, a torso, and a head was all Grimmjow could see, as the rest was swallowed by the darkness. A pair of golden glimmers flashed near its head.

Grimmjow held his breath. The beast stopped moving and looked at him.

With a single glance, Grimmjow realized that the only way out of that place was right behind that strange creature which was still half-melted with the shadows. He instinctively reached for the gun that hung on his belt, but he only sensed cloth and leather under his fingers. The gun must have gotten lost when he had fallen.

“Ah… fuck this.”

Grimmjow swore to give himself a burst of strength. He slowly went forward, his knife aimed at the creature. The golden orbs followed his steps. The creature’s breath was heavy, each exhale a growl, and his eyes followed Grimmjow like those of a predator’s. Grimmjow was free to move and was holding a weapon, yet he felt like he was the one who was trapped down there. The closer he got, the more Grimmjow could see. Long sharp inhuman fingers, long messy hair of a bizarre reddish colour, and where there should have been the legs… Grimmjow held his breath.

“A mermaid.”

A lengthy fish-like tail sprouted from the torso. Too long to be contained in the ropes, it leaned on the floor and was blocking the way out. Grimmjow thought it could be at least three meters long. The long fin at the tip smashed against the floor with enough force to make the planks vibrate.

“Hey! Fucker!”

Grimmjow raised his voice and the creature stilled. It stopped moving, it stopped growling. It just stared at him. Grimmjow felt something warm dripping on his forehead. He wiped it away with the back of his left hand, vaguely wondering if it was his blood. He tried to take a step on his right, where the human part of the mermaid was, and the creature slapped its tail again.

“What the fuck do you want?!”

The mermaid tilted its head. Grimmjow noticed some locks of hair falling down from its shoulders, the golden eyes changed position and Grimmjow realized that he couldn’t see its face anymore. The mermaid grabbed a rope with both hands, made a sinister sound and brought it close to its face. Grimmjow understood that it was trying to cut it with its teeth. However, its voice burst out in a deep lament and it abandoned the rope.

“You’re trapped here.”

Grimmjow glanced at his knife. Approaching the tangle with all the care he was capable of, he decided to start near the human part, because, in case of danger, it was easier sinking a blade into a throat than into a weirdly heavy-looking giant fish tail.

From that position, he didn’t see any bulges on the flat chest. It was a merman. The rays of light got dimmer, so that even if his eyes got used to the darkness, it was difficult giving definite features to that face: the unnatural eyes obscured everything else. They moved as Grimmjow did and didn’t stop following his movements as he worked his knife to set it free. Grimmjow didn’t like all that attention on him.

When the second rope fell on the floor with a heavy thud, the merman started fidgeting. Grimmjow took a step behind, but he found the wall stopping his attempt of escape. The long tail brushed against the floor, rushing at him, and Grimmjow had to leap to avoid the hit. It lashed into the air like a whip and the second time, Grimmjow wasn’t fast enough to avoid it.

He lost consciousness.

When he woke up, Ikkaku and Yumichika, were blinding him with a fire torch. He covered his eyes with one arm.

“My my…” Yumichika mocked him with a small chuckle. “…and here we thought you ignored Captain’s order and went on the razz. That wouldn’t have been humiliating at least.”

Grimmjow pushed him away as he stood up. He grabbed the torch from Ikkaku’s hands and lighted up the path ahead of him. There was nothing but destroyed hammocks.

“Hey, hands down, rookie!” Ikkaku seemed like he was waiting for the chance to sink his sword into someone. Grimmjow usually would have gladly accepted the opportunity to beat someone’s ass, but he just snorted a low. “Fuck you.” There was dry blood on his forehead, but he only noticed it later, when he saw his own shitty reflection in a bucket of water.

Before dawn came, everybody knew that Grimmjow Jaegerjaques had knocked himself unconscious on an abandoned ship, and it became the juiciest bit of laughing gossip for the whole week.

 

 

 

There was no fish to catch in that zone. The crew didn’t exactly rely on fresh fish, however, they always threw the net when they dropped the anchor. They tried for three days, but all they dragged onto the ship from the ocean were seaweeds.

So, Grimmjow couldn’t understand what could have happened to populate again that part of the ocean with florid sea-life. Because of the scarce wind, they didn’t cover such a distance to explain the sudden change. He dragged up the net for the third time, and for the third time he had enough fish to feed half of the crew.

“What the fuck?”

Instead of being glad of such an unexpected turn of events, his mind was working to find an answer. A voice coming from behind interrupted his solitary flow of thoughts.

“It looks like you were born to be a fisherman.” Yumichika never lost the chance to throw some poison at him with his tongue. “You can stay on dry land next time we drop the anchor.”

“Why don’t you go suck Ikkaku’s dick?” Grimmjow snarled at him while throwing the fish in a bucket. “Or that ridiculous thing you have on your eye blocks your view and you cannot take it into your mouth?” He pointed at the long yellow feather on his lashes.

Yumichika glared. “I don’t expect you to understand my beauty.”

“There isn’t much to understand.”

What stopped Yumichika from taking his gun and shooting him was the presence of the captain on the deck. He didn’t mind the death of a crew member, but he did mind wasted bullets, and Yumichika would have never fought fist to fist, unless the Captain’s life was at stake. So, he decided to go away.

Grimmjow waited for him to disappear before throwing the net back in the waters. He sat back on the handrail, his feet hanging over the ocean, and waited. Behind him, the water gently smacked against the keel and was so clear that he could still see part of the net under the surface.

It was while he was tapping his heels lazily against the wood, following the rhythm of a song he had heard in the taverns, that he saw a sinister shadow. Long and sinuous, it darted near the net and swam in the opposite direction of the ship.

Grimmjow left the net tied at the hook and dashed to the stern. As he jumped on the taffrail at the end of the ship, he caught sight of a fin smacking the surface of the water. Then it disappeared in the abyss of the ocean.

 

 

 

One month passed and Grimmjow didn’t met anymore strange creatures with long fish-tails, nor saw any suspicious shadow among the waves of the ocean. Then, as if to compensate for the lack of anything interesting happening in his life, in a quarrel triggered by his captain, someone smacked a bottle on his head and when the rays of sun woke up him, he was on a tiny boat lazily rocked by the gentle waves in the middle of nowhere. Around him there was only the line of the horizon; above him the scorching sun.

Grimmjow Jaegerjaques, lost in the middle of the ocean. It was almost laughable; he had always loved the sea more than he loved people, and the sea would have him killed for it. Would he die from dehydration? Or would the sun drive him crazy before turning off every function in his body? Maybe some bizarre creature from the abyss would arrive to feast on his flesh.

All of a sudden , the boat swung from side to side. Grimmjow caught sight of a fin slamming on the old wood.

Shark.

He had seen sharks only twice in his life, but he remembered the terrifying image of the monstrous jaws munching on the remains of a whale too well. The sharp halo of teeth, the empty black eyes, blood dripping from the endless mouth… Grimmjow wasn’t too young to stop that memory from being carved into his mind forever. That image flashed again in front of his eyes as he slammed himself down and clung on the wooden board used as a seat. The movements slowed down, but Grimmjow didn’t dare peek and see if the shark had swum away or was just taking the momentum to knock the boat over. His heart was beating fast, blood rushed into his veins so fast that it made his ears whistle. Then, the boat started moving. An invisible force was driving it in a straight line. The fin smashed again from under the surface: the sun hit the scales, they glimmered of a reddish light.

Curiosity killed the fear. Grimmjow slowly sat down and crawled to the side of the boat from where the moving force was coming.

The water splashed. A shadow fluttered right under the surface, a deeper blue which stained the clear colour of ocean. Grimmjow raised his head and saw the tip of the long tail adorned with strong fins. As he approached, trying to have a better view, a black hand rose from the water. Grimmjow fell back on his ass. He hoped that whoever those pointy claws belonged to, they didn’t hear his not-so-manly squeak. A pair of curious brown eyes peeked from the edge of the boat. Some orangish long locks fell on the wood as the unexpected guest raised his head a bit more to have a better view of Grimmjow.

They looked at each other in silence. But, as Grimmjow moved forward, the young man lowered his head again.

“No, wait!”

Grimmjow leaned out fast. Too fast for the young man to retreat in the safe embrace of the ocean. And Grimmjow saw him. He saw the endless tail merging with the torso of a human. A merman. The most wonderful creature Grimmjow had ever laid his eyes on: long wet orange hair creating mysterious drawings in the water, black lines blurring from the chest to a pair of brown eyes that were shining in surprise. Bizarre, but beautiful. Grimmjow lost himself to the blaze of the warmth he felt as the look pierced right through his heart. Prisoner of a blind instinct, he tended an arm towards the creature and wondered if it would have been pleasant running his fingers through his hair, or touching the white lips slightly disclosed into a puzzled expression.

But before he could act on his thoughts, the merman disappeared under the surface. He left Grimmjow ready to dive into the ocean, with half of his body leaning heavily towards the now empty water. Awakened from the delicious spell which had trapped his mind and his body, Grimmjow threw himself back into the boat, face up against the sky. His heart was pounding against his chest.

The boat wasn’t moving anymore.

“…a dream.”

He closed his eyes.

The loud sound of a bell awakened him. A couple of fishermen were led to that corner of desolated ocean by a mischievous dolphin which they had tried to capture with all their might. Not the best company to spend the rest of the day with, but at least Grimmjow could consider himself saved.

 

 

 

A bottle of rum in one hand, the empty old dock over the cliff, a solitary broken ship as the only listener of the song. The melody was slightly out of tune because of the alcohol and the voice was as low as the quiet small waves crashing in timid smacks against the ruined wood. Grimmjow’s left leg dangled lazily above the dark rippling surface. He looked at the reflection of the moon on the ocean as the notes rolled out of his tongue.

“I thought I heard the First Mate say / John Kanaka naka tulai e.” A deep sip of rum interrupted the medley. “You’ll work tomorrow but not today / John Kanaka naka tulai e.” Another sip. “Tulai e oh / tulai e / John Kanaka naka tulai e.”

There stopped the words he recalled, and he did what he always did in the dives when the alcohol raised the mood and some drunken soul started the chants: he hummed the lines among the refrain and drank the rum. The more it flooded into his stomach, the more his voice rose, and right hand beat on the planks at the same repeating tune.

Somewhere in town, his crewmates were drinking together, relieving their physical needs in comfortable beds or on rigid barrels. That indecent replica of a town -an unperfect imitation which was perfect to welcome unperfect people like them- crawled with pirates and criminals. Grimmjow’s thoughts were flying on the sea, far, far away from all that. He would have kept singing, his head now leaning against the wooden pillar, until he fell into a deep slumber if it weren’t for the low and strange echo he heard mingling with his own notes. It wasn’t the whistle of the weak wind, nor the call of some wild animal. It was a voice following his rhythm. It came right from under him.

His head was light, the brakes of the common sense obliterated. Grimmjow stuck his head under the pier, upside down, and gazed into the darkness. A pair of golden eyes blazed at him, and the voice stopped. The silence was a heavy stone in Grimmjow’s stomach (or maybe it was the rum), and fear seeped into his chest as he realized the dark figure was shifting backwards.

“W-Wait!”

Grimmjow tended an arm. The whole body followed, and he fell into the shallow water. The salty liquid filled his mouth and burnt his throat; Grimmjow spat it and trudged forward only to stumble into a long strong tail and fall into the water again. He clearly heard a chuckle. It pierced his ears, touched his pride and ignited a rush of adrenaline inside his body. With a leap, he was on the figure. His hands gripped around cold strong arms, he smashed a human back against one of the wooden pillars holding the small pier up, his knees rested on the fish tail twisted around him.

Grimmjow grinned victoriously as he clearly saw the form of his prey illuminated by the thin slice of light coming from above them. But his smile faded as he pulled away the long hair from the face, revealing a charming, yet unnatural, glare put on earth to devour his soul and gorgeous features which enchanted him. Lost in contemplation, Grimmjow didn’t even try stopping the scorching desire to kiss that beautiful creature. However, the merman didn’t seem to share his feelings. With a single push, Grimmjow was back again in the water, and all he could do was watch the merman dragging himself by his sinewy arms towards deeper waters.

The empty bottle of rum was floating in front of him. Grimmjow grabbed it and threw it with all his strength towards at the point where the merman had disappeared.

 

 

 

His left elbow hurt, and he had some bruises on the left leg as well. That was all he obtained from his failed attempt of approaching the merman the previous night. And to add insult to injury, he lost his earring. It didn’t have value per se, he could find anywhere a piece of iron and have it shaped as a six. However, that represented the first loot he was granted as a pirate, when he was a pimply teenager, and he felt a sort of affection for that useless junk of jewelry.

That morning, instead of staying with his crewmates, he went near the cliff right outside of town and threw pebbles into the sea to vent his frustration out. With each pebble, he hoped to hit the face of that stupid merman and ruin the beautiful gaze that broke into all his defenses: he turned him into a puppet of flesh with lust as his puppet-master.

“Hey, we have plenty of those down here. Stop throwing them.”

A foreign voice surprised him from his right. Grimmjow turned around and spotted the figure of a young man submerged into water to his waist. He could never forget that long orange hair, the brown eyes or the beautiful features. He threw a pebble at him.

“Hey!” If the merman hadn’t ducked, the pebble would have hit him on the right eye. “You bastard! Why are you trying to hit me?”

“Oh, so you don’t escape now!” Grimmjow jumped from rock to rock, getting closer to the sea. The merman didn’t divert his eyes from him. “Why do you keep following me?”

“I’m not following you!” When Grimmjow got so close that another step would have brought him directly into the ocean, the merman swum slightly further. “You helped me, so I had to return the favour.”

“Helped?”

Grimmjow recalled the monstrous cries of the creature in the wrecked ship, its golden eyes, so similar to the ones he saw the previous night. Yet, the merman in front of him looked everything but a monster. Bizarre, with the pointy ears slightly hidden in the hair (Grimmjow hadn’t noticed them before) and the black lines departing from his chest and cutting through his eyes, but still closer to a human than to the beast Grimmjow imprinted in his mind that fateful day.

“You mean when you knocked me out right after I helped you.” Grimmjow uncovered his teeth in a mad grimace.

“I didn’t know if I could trust you. And your friends were close.”

“They’re not my friends!” Grimmjow reacted as if something poked him on a wound. “…you looked different back then.” Grimmjow paused. “Your eyes were different.” Grimmjow tried to recall, but all his memory held from that episode were the golden gems in the darkness and the desperate inhuman shriek. The merman tilted his head. He didn’t look puzzled; his eyes were clearly telling he believed Grimmjow knocked his head somewhere and went nuts. “They were golden! And now they’re brown! And your voice…” Grimmjow wondered if they changed according to whether it was day or night, but the way he was looked at was too irritating for him to think about anything that didn’t involve being pissed off at the merman. “You know what? Fuck you! Next time I’ll leave you in the fucking net!”

The merman looked utterly shocked, betrayed. He raised his arm and threw something at Grimmjow; something so little that he couldn’t see what it was, but Grimmjow moved aside anyway. He heard the sound of a small falling object, and his eyes dashed to check the rocks, even if he couldn’t see anything different with a single quick glance. As he looked up again, he was met with the merman’s deep glare. He was pouting.

“Hey, I was only trying to be gentle here!”

Grimmjow scoffed. “By throwing stuff at me?!”

“You are the one who started!”

“I cannot see underwater from here!”

“You shouldn’t throw stuff into the ocean in the first place! What if I start throwing fish at you?!”

“I’ll light a fire and eat them!”

Grimmjow was ready for another sharp reply. It didn’t come. The merman looked puzzled; his contracted eyebrows created many small wrinkles in between his eyes.

“What’s a fire?”

“Ah, yes, you live under the sea, so you don’t know.” The flame of the challenge went off in a single blow, and his brain worked to find an explanation to something so simple yet so difficult to explain to someone who’d never experienced it. “It… burns.”

“Burns…? Like the streams of water that–”

There was suddenly something behind Grimmjow. Grimmjow himself couldn’t see it, but he saw Ichigo’s horrified look pointing somewhere behind him. He turned around. Yet, there was nothing.

“Hey, what–” When he turned back, there was only the quiet blue ocean in front of him. “–the fuck?”

A familiar voice reached his ears.

Grimmjow.” Yumichika, followed by Ikkaku, appeared from behind the rocks. They, who usually where the loudest couple in the crew, approached that area with a suspicious quietness, probably due to the excesses from the previous night: both looked sleep-deprived. “What a surprise, finding you here.”

There was no doubt the merman heard them coming and escaped. Grimmjow made one step forward and was sure he touched something which tinkled against the rocks.

Something glimmered under the strong morning sun. It was his earring.

 

 

 

Grimmjow didn’t tell anyone about the merman. Everyone would have labelled him as crazy, but that wasn’t the reason: he wanted to keep it a secret for himself. A small globe of warmth flickering in his chest, the hope that the merman would approach him once again – but he would have rather cut his left arm off than admitting it even to himself. His eyes always glanced at the surface of the ocean; sometimes he stared at it, getting excited at shadows his mind created or brought there by schools of fish which, in his annoyed eyes, seemed to mock him.

Grimmjow is in love.” He heard the captain grumble one day. Kenpachi made sure to say it right before slapping his strong hand on Grimmjow’s back. “Keep yer focus.”

“I’m not in love.” Grimmjow snarled. “Don’t touch me again, or I’ll kill you!”

Kenpachi smirked. “At least you didn’t lose that bitchy attitude.” He tried to hit him again, but this time Grimmjow ducked away from it. “Stop looking at the ocean with those languid eyes, or it will send a mermaid to eat you from your dick.”

“You talk for experience, captain?”

“I’m not showing you my dick. You have to earn it.”

Grimmjow raised both hands. “No thanks. I have standards.”

“Go back to work, or the mermaids will eat your dick with gunpowder flavour.”

Grimmjow grabbed the net he was repairing and dragged it as far as he could from his captain. As his habit told him to do, he glanced at the surface of the sea. Under the dazzling reflections of the sun, he caught sight of a suspicious shadow; a big fin flailed on the water, and the shadow disappeared. However, Grimmjow was sure about what he saw. Even if it had been more than two months since the last time he saw the merman, he couldn’t be mistaken. He grinned.

 

 

 

“There’s no bait attached to your hook.”

Grimmjow knew that the merman was spying on him. However, he pretended he didn’t see his head appearing from behind a rock sprouting from the sea and remained sprawled on the solitary rock as his fishing rod stood next to him for display. As the merman had said, he didn’t use any bait, so he could keep snoozing.

“There’s a fisherman who wants to get in my pants. My captain doesn’t really mind how we obtain supplies.”

The merman swum a bit closer. “Pants are those things attached to your lower arms?”

Grimmjow was still lying down, both hands behind the head as a pillow. He looked at the merman and raised his right leg. “These are called legs.”

“It doesn’t matter how they’re called. Those pants are too little for another human to get into. You don’t make any sense.” He frowned.

The burst of laughter almost scared the merman. Grimmjow didn’t see him jolt into the water, as he was too busy not falling from the rock, but he took a glance at him and witnessed his irritated surprise.

“Hey, what does that mean?”

Grimmjow’s abdomen hurt. “I–no way.” He took a deep breath. “I meant sex. He wants to have sex with me.” He grinned. “Do you know what sex is?”

The merman looked outraged. “Of course I know!” He lowered his voice. “You talk in a strange way.”

“Not strange for humans.” Grimmjow started wrapping back the thread of the rod. “You kinda took your time. It’s been almost three months since the last time you bothered me.”

“I’m busy. And you were never alone on that ship.”

That sounded like the merman always had an eye out for him. Grimmjow didn’t feel flattered, he felt bitter: he believed he was attentive enough to notice some marine creature stalking him. It seemed he wasn’t.

“Afraid of nets?”

Grimmjow grinned. The merman frowned.

“Humans eat merpeople. They believe our flesh brings immortality.”

Grimmjow could understand his reaction when they first met; he probably believed he wanted to sell him to someone who wanted to feast on his flesh – or put his warm holes to good use.

“What? Never heard of this shit. It’s you who feast on our bodies.”

The disgusted grimace was both funny and disappointing. “Who would want to eat you? Humans look disgusting and you are the most disgusting-looking among all the humans I’ve seen.”

“Hey, these muscles are of the finest quality!” Grimmjow stiffened his right arm, the bicep pressed against the cloth of the shirt.

The merman arched an eyebrow. “You believed I was capable of eating you and dived in the water anyway? Are you stupid?”

“Hey!”

As Grimmjow moved towards him, Ichigo swam away. Grimmjow was fast. But for how he could have outrun a human even on a trackless path as it was that on the rocks, it wasn’t enough to approach the merman without him distancing himself. “Come back here and say it to my face!”

“I’m saying it to your face!”

“Well, the most disgusting-looking between us is you! Look at your tail!”

“My tail is perfectly normal! You humans are strange, with those legs.”

They glared at each other.

Grimmjow snorted and put a hand into his pocket, taking out some dried meat. The curious look didn’t escape his attention, and he threw one at the merman. He was caught by surprise and the small strip almost fell into the ocean.

“It’s food.” Grimmjow ripped one corner with his teeth. “Not poisonous.” The biting taste exploded on his tongue. “I’m Grimmjow. What’s your name?”

The merman wasn’t convinced by the food and looked at Grimmjow with suspicion. “Ichigo.”

 

 

 

Usually they stayed in a town long enough to replenish the rations. From one week to one month being the longest. Grimmjow knew that, once back on the ship, he would have never had the chance again to see Ichigo for a long time. It was easy escaping from his crewmates, as none of them looked for his company – those fuckers assumed he was dead the night some asshole knocked him out and put him on a boat; none bothered looking for him. Grimmjow wasn’t even keen on spending with them more time than necessary; he’d rather be on his own at the seaside, from where Ichigo could spot him without fail.

He was lighting a small fire up to cook some small crabs he found when Ichigo emerged from the still surface. First his head, then the torso. Ichigo didn’t say a word but approached the rocks near the one where Grimmjow decided to have his snack. When the fire started cracking on the dry small wood, his eyes widened.

“This is fire.” Grimmjow was giving him his back but noticed him anyway. However, as he turned around, the breath melted away from his lungs and the voice got lost somewhere before exiting his throat. It was the first time Ichigo was so close to him, uncovered by the water and kissed by the warm light of sunset.

Sitting on the rock, Ichigo slightly tilted his head. “Hey. What’s wrong?”

His hair lazily fell on the shoulders and spread on the rock along its entire length. Such a long tail that it disappeared underwater. Grimmjow wanted to touch it and taste on his fingers the feeling of the scales and skin. How many kisses he desired to leave on the edge which divided the human from the merman, and move his hair away to lick the salty skin from his back to his neck. Kiss his lips. Imagination and reality were both driving him crazy.

“Nothing.” He blurted out. “You look stupid.”

“What?! That’s why people leave you in the middle of the ocean to die! Nobody could like such an asshole!”

“Well, I’m not that stupid to be stuck in a net on dry land!”

“I was exploring!”

“What a nice explorer! If it wasn’t for me, Kenpachi and the others would have sold you to the best bidding!”

“I have no more debts with you! A life for a life!”

Ichigo turned his head to the other side. Grimmjow looked back at his crabs, ready to cook, when he noticed he missed one; it was attempting to scamper away in a blind escape.

“Hey, where do you think you’re going?”

Few steps and Grimmjow was on it. It didn’t move as quick as it should have, for Grimmjow cracked it believing it was already dead, but apparently only made him suffer. He was about to catch it again when he heard a moan behind him.

Ichigo was even closer now. His long, wet hair were dripping on his fire.

“Idiot!” Grimmjow ran back, but the fire was already dead. “Damn it! I have no more woods!” He glared at Ichigo, who was too busy inspecting his hand. Grimmjow didn’t think about it and knelt to grab it, but Ichigo shifted away.

Grimmjow frowned. “Let me see, you bastard!” He managed to grab his wrist. As cold as the ocean. He stared mesmerized at the black skin. “You’re not hurt. Probably you are so wet that–”

Their eyes met. Grimmjow felt the wrist slithering away from his grip and fingers intertwining with his. The flames of the setting sun were dancing in Ichigo’s eyes. His face was close, so close that he could see the dew of the ocean resting on his eyelashes. Their breaths mingled together, the hair brushed his forehead. Yet, their lips never touched. Ichigo’s hands glided on Grimmjow’s arms, touched his shoulders and held onto his back. His head gently rested near his neck.

Grimmjow had him between his legs and the sound of the steady breathing near his ear melted any resistance left in his body. His erection was demanding to be satisfied.

“I…” Ichigo hesitated. “…lied back then.” For some endless instants, only the ocean spoke. “I like you…”

And Grimmjow couldn’t see them. He couldn’t see the golden eyes burning in desire. The black devouring the white of the sclera. The monstrous pointy grin deforming the beautiful face.

“…and you’re the most delicious-looking human I’ve ever put my eyes on.”

 

***

 

The child opened his chubby hand. A small pendant fell on his mother’s palm.

A piece of iron shaped as a six. A piece of flesh still attached to it.

The lady screamed.