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Aromatherapy 💨

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The first clue should have been Kisuke’s dumbshit smile.

That fucking smile always preceded some profoundly messed up shit, and Grimmjow thought he knew by then to instinctively punch first and ask questions later whenever he saw it. But it’d been three months since he’d last had clearance to visit the Living World, and Las Noches had been boring the shit out of him for too long. Kisuke approaching with a big smile and a small plastic spray bottle hadn’t seemed so bad at first. Til he sprayed Grimmjow directly in his fucking face with whatever was inside, at least.

“Think of my children!” Kisuke pleaded for the fifth time, ducking and weaving Grimmjow’s claws with too much ease. His feet moved soundlessly on the tatami of the living room, fully aware of every item in the room and how to avoid knocking into it. Agile bastard. He bent back to avoid a swipe that should have taken out an eyeball. “It’s for a good cause! And not even just a science cause like it usually is. You’re going to help me catch a rogue vasto lorde!”

“There are no vasto lorde in the Living World,” Grimmjow ground out, trying to wipe his face on his shoulder and righteously commit murder at the same time. “They don’t come here because they don’t need to feed on human souls like the lesser hollow do.” He would have added more but Kisuke sprayed him right in the face again. A forebodingly unscented mist settled over Grimmjow’s face, neck and the exposed skin of his chest. “I’m going to tear the hair out of your head and eat it if you do that one more time.”

“Please, calm down. It’s only a liquified version of quincy hollow bait.” Kisuke shook the bottle a little, making the contents slosh around. “I’ve simply refined it to only appeal to higher-level hollow. Our curious and wayward friend will come and find you.” Beaming at his own ingenuity, he tucked his hands behind his back. It was all the opportunity Grimmjow needed to pinball the bastard’s nuts up into his throat with one swift kick.

“But you couldn’t spray the bait on yourself,” Grimmjow sneered down at the crumpled man. He kicked the bottle out of reach and rubbed at his damp jacket and collar. “Tells me all I need to know.”

“Vasto lorde only seek the scent of their own kind.” Even from the foetal position, Kisuke managed to get an instructional lesson in. “You know that, don’t you? A shinigami would never have any success, not even one as clever as me. The bait had to go on another high-level hollow.”

High-level hollow. Sure, that was one label for him. Irritated that someone like Kisuke was trying to teach him vasto lorde behaviour, and a little curious despite himself, Grimmjow allowed his hands to transform back into smooth skin and blunt nails. Kisuke wasn’t worth the meat he’d have to pick out from under his claws, anyway. So much for a couple of weeks under the sun to keep up appearances. Guess he could just blast his pesquisa and hope the stupid vasto lorde asshole felt it from across town. Hanging out in the Living World. What the fuck was it thinking?

Choosing not to examine the hypocrisy of his own thoughts, Grimmjow grunted and picked up his small sack of belongings. At least he could dump his shit in his own room and take a shower. Something told him the bait wouldn’t just wash off, but hot water and soap were hard to find in Las Noches and Grimmjow was ready to make the most of it.

Two hours later, having exhausted all the hot water and changed into a jumpsuit that wasn’t boasting a fine dusting of white sand, Grimmjow threw himself down in front of the round table in the living room and poured a dish of sake from the apology tokkuri Kisuke had left there with a grimace. He usually had shit to do when he was there, but for once his only instructions were to maintain a physical presence, which sounded a lot like Harribel was sick of him demolishing outposts and wanted him gone for a bit. Well, fine by him. Las Noches might be home but that still didn’t make it anything more than a half-repaired pile of rubble.

Sipping his sake, Grimmjow was just beginning to unwind and think about that vasto lorde that might be lurking around when the internal shoji door to the shop slid open and a familiar face walked in. Grimmjow’s gut prickled with instinctive adrenaline and delight.

Kurosaki Ichigo, in the flesh.

“Hey, Urahara, I’ve got the stupid—” Kurosaki spotted him and stopped dead, his eyes widening. “Holy shit. Grimmjow.”

Grimmjow frowned. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen each other now and then when he was crossing borders. Sometimes they even had time to fight in the bunker; the best times of his life in recent history, if he was totally honest. Nobody got his blood up like Kurosaki did and still managed to stay alive by the end of it. So it totally didn’t explain why he was standing there in shinigami black watching him with huge brown eyes, a small plastic bag hanging precariously off the tips of his slack fingers.

“Been a minute since I saw you last,” Grimmjow acknowledged, eyes narrowing. “What’s with the ghost face?”

“The—?” Kurosaki blinked in confusion, straying a step towards him. “I—”

“Oh, Kurosaki-san!” a merry voice called from down the hallway. Kisuke came barging out so fast his haori billowed behind him, snagging the bag from Kurosaki’s fingers. He looked way too interested in him for Grimmjow’s liking. “My undying gratitude for bringing the salty liquorice. Tessai-san would whip me bloody if he found me craving candy we don’t stock.” He actually grabbed Kurosaki’s startled face, forcing them into eye contact. “You seem off-balance. Are you well? Experiencing any strange sensations?” A hand plunged between the folds of his uniform. Grimmjow sat right up in protest. “Your heart is positively racing. Come rest at the table. I’ll make tea!”

Kisuke drove Kurosaki over to the table where he sat, shoving him down by the shoulders until his knees buckled. He hit the tatami next to Grimmjow with a thump and turned immediately his way. Kurosaki’s eyes were burning so bright they were almost golden. Grimmjow knew that gaze like it was tattooed on the inside of his eyelids, but he’d never seen Kurosaki look at him quite like that before.

“I’ll be right back,” Kisuke said almost gently, trotting off into the kitchen. “A pot of strong black tea, I think! And sugar. The world needs more sweetness, don’t you think?”

Kurosaki watched him go, fidgeting at the table a little. Picking at his fingernails. Brushing his uniform down into place. Fixing his hair. The entire time, he kept shooting Grimmjow looks, brow furrowed in intense concentration. His ears were bright red. Sword was against the wall. The fuck was going on—?

“Grimmjow,” Kurosaki whispered, leaning closer. His head was ducked like he had a secret to tell, but his eyes were locked on. “What’s going on with you?”


“What’s the smell? Why can I—why do you smell?”

Grimmjow punched him in the jaw. It felt like the only reasonable response. Kurosaki only turned his head about twenty degrees in the other direction as a result, the fucker.

“I’m clean, asshole. What, soap? You hate soap?”

“Not soap! You smell like…” Leaning in, still rubbing his jaw, Kurosaki’s nostrils flared on a deep, creepily luxurious inhale. “You smell good. This is going to sound wrong, but can I bite you?”

Grimmjow punched him again. “Sick bastard.”

“I deserve that,” Kurosaki muttered, hand to his cheek. “Zangetsu has some weird ideas.”

Before Grimmjow could process the implications of that, Kurosaki had shuffled all the way around the table until he was almost pressed up against his side. A sudden suspicion began to take root. It wasn’t like Kurosaki didn’t have some of the parts for it.

“Kisuke!” Grimmjow called toward the kitchen, palm over Kurosaki’s face to shove him back into a decent distance. “Your fuckin’ bait is doing weird shit to Kurosaki. Get out here.”

“It’s doing what it’s supposed to!” Kisuke called back. “It’s attracting high-level hollows!”

“Attracting?” Grimmjow repeated.

“Attracting?” Kurosaki repeated, reaching out to fiddle with the small zipper tag holding Grimmjow’s suit together. He actually looked offended when his hand was slapped away. “But I’m not a hollow. I’m a shinigami with hollow powers.”

“Ulquiorra Cifer would disagree,” Kisuke said kindly from the kitchen. “I heard about it in great detail from your friends, Kurosaki-san!”

Kurosaki groaned. “It was one time and I don’t even remember it.” He squinted at Grimmjow. “Did you change your hair? It looks soft.”

Something was definitely off with him. The asshole was normally friendly enough, which was a thousand times too friendly for Grimmjow on the best of days, but he was suddenly on another level. That shit about his scent, too. He smelled good? The fuck. That bait wasn’t just bait—definitely not the normal shit, anyway. Not if it made Kurosaki Ichigo cuddle up to his side and try to touch him. He didn’t like Grimmjow that much. Nobody liked Grimmjow that much.

“Washed it,” Grimmjow replied shortly, sipping from his sake dish like Kurosaki was about as interesting as sand. “You telling me yours always looks the same?”

“Yeah, unless it’s soaking wet.” Kurosaki touched his own mop of long orange spikes. “Do you think I should cut it off?”

Oh, what the fuck.

“No,” Grimmjow snapped, annoyed at his own realisation. “Kurosaki, you dumb shit, that fucked up bait is making you hot for me. Listen to yourself.”

It was kind of funny to see Kurosaki’s golden brown eyes show white the whole way around; thick, boyish lashes lifting beneath eyebrows crumpling upward in dismay. Even the strong line of his jaw couldn’t hide the twitch of clenching teeth, and then his mouth opened. None of any of that shit hid the way his ears were blazing red at the tips.

“Like hell I am,” Kurosaki cried. He tugged at his crossed white armour like it was too tight, jiggling his shoulders irritably. He spotted the sake on the table and poured himself a serving. “You’re full of yourself. All I did was ask about your hair.”

“And then you asked me about your hair.” Grimmjow rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “Fuckin’ caring about my opinion. Dipshit. You’re high as fuck.”

With his mouth full of sake, Kurosaki couldn’t argue for a couple of extra seconds, trying to make sure he didn’t choke. Kisuke, with the sharp ears of a cat, almost sprinted into the living room with delight.

“Kurosaki-san, is the bait having an unexpected side-effect?” he asked eagerly, pulling a syringe from fuck-knew-where inside his clothes. “Would you mind if I took a quick sample of your blood?”

“Fuck off,” Grimmjow said on reflex, but Kurosaki was already pulling up the loose sleeve of his uniform, bastard stubborn look written all over his face.

“Go for it, but be prepared for disappointment because I’m not hot for Grimmjow.” Kurosaki’s mouth drew down, watching Urahara skirt the table and kneel down in front of him. “I just think he smells really interesting right now and I don’t want to move away from it.” He didn’t wince as the needle pressed into his skin and the plunger began drawing dark red blood into the plastic tube.

Grimmjow watched the whole thing with disgust. Who the hell just let a shady science fucker like Kisuke take their blood? Who the fuck would let anyone just take it? Kurosaki earned every disease or evil clone he ended up with. He still didn’t take his eyes off the process until Kisuke made a dismayed humming sound.

“I don’t have an antiseptic wipe. My opportunistic syringe was handy, but I really should prepare an entire kit.” He turned to Grimmjow. “Would you mind?”

“Mind what?” Kurosaki asked warily, dragging his eyes from the full syringe still stuck in his vein. “What’s this bait thing, anyway? Like Ishida’s crumbly stuff? Did you put some on Grimmjow?” He had his mouth open to say more, but Kisuke took the chance to whip the syringe out and push the punctured arm towards Grimmjow’s face.

“Come now, you’re as good as anything in my lab!” Kisuke said encouragingly when Grimmjow lifted his upper lip in a snarl. “Kurosaki-san, you might not know this, but Grimmjow possesses a certain inherent skill that’s a little like our friend Nelliel’s.”

Kurosaki looked at his inner elbow, beading with blood, then up at Grimmjow’s rigid face.

“You’re not vomiting on me,” Kurosaki said with lukewarm certainty. “Not for free, anyway.”

“I don’t vomit,” Grimmjow snapped before Kisuke could open his stupid mouth again. “It’s my spit. Gets bleeding to stop faster.” At Kurosaki’s doubtful look, Grimmjow held onto his last shred of patience and said, “He wants me to lick you.”

Kurosaki’s expression fell open with surprise.

Then he said, “All right,” and held out his arm.

For an instant, every razor-sharp arrancar instinct in Grimmjow’s body rolled over and died in bliss. But only for an instant.

“Just put your fucking finger on it,” Grimmjow said irritably, ripping his eyes off Kurosaki altogether. He didn’t have any fucking excuse of bait-induced stupidity.

Across from them, Kisuke got to his feet, holding his sacred fucking syringe aloft.

“I should run this for testing. My apologies that I didn’t finish the tea, but you’re fine with the sake for now, I assume? There’s more in the kitchen!” And like a troublemaking asshole who’d finally caught his bullshit fucking so-called vasto lorde, he ran back down the hall towards his stupid fucking concealed lab door. Fuck. Fuck.

“You’re not even vasto lorde,” Grimmjow grit out furiously as Kurosaki’s head turned from the hallway back to him. His stupid arm was still held out in offering. “You’re something, but you’re not a rank less than mine. It’s fucking impossible. There’s no way you held a full mask and still killed Ulquiorra.”

“The hell do you know? You weren’t even there. Only Ishida and Inoue were.” Kurosaki’s mouth twisted. “I wasn’t even there. Zangetsu basically possessed me because I was dead otherwise.” His eyes fell to his bleeding elbow. Hardly anything but a pearl-sized bead of red. “I need a tissue.”

As he started to swing his arm away, Grimmjow grabbed it with a hand like a striking snake. If it was the price to get the full story, it could be worth it.

“Tell me everything you do remember,” he ordered, gripping the underside of Kurosaki’s elbow like a vice ready to crush. “Tell me everything and you can smell whatever you want.”

It was gratifying to see Kurosaki’s brown eyes blaze at the offer, leaning in over his own arm to inhale what he could at the distance he sat in. Between them was that small wound, an offering Grimmjow closed his mouth over with an outward expression of displeased boredom.

Inside, his whole body was singing. One quick swipe of the tongue. Blood in his mouth, blood that wasn’t his, for the first time in years. Blood of something as strong as he was. It was enough to get drunk on when all the sake in the world couldn’t do a fuckin’ thing. Blood and flesh and all he had to do was bite and tear out a huge, wet mouthful—

“I expected it to be scratchy,” Kurosaki said, looking at his elbow as Grimmjow pulled away, sucking the remains of blood from his own tongue. “Hey, it did stop.”

“Not exactly a life-threatening injury,” Grimmjow snorted. “Now talk.”

“First tell me what this bait is.” Pulling his sleeve back down over his arm, Kurosaki gave him a shitty accusing look. “Did you and Urahara plan this?”

Like hell. “You think I want you crawling all over me like a freak?”

“I—” Kurosaki stopped himself from whatever he was going to say and actually sat back a little. “I’m not a freak.”

“Freak,” Grimmjow said, real slow and long. “A shinigami getting high on shit meant for hollows is pretty fuckin’ freaky if you ask me.”

Kurosaki’s whole face darkened. “Well, a hollow evolved with shinigami tech isn’t exactly the natural order either. So we’re both freaks in that case then, freak.”

“You watch your fuckin’ mouth, shinigami.”

Kurosaki’s nostrils flared. “Maybe watch yours first, hollowbait.”

It wasn’t exactly like their normal idea of a fight, Grimmjow thought as they rolled violently across the living area, table flipped and sake leaking over the tatami, punching and kicking in every stupid place they could get their hands on, but it was satisfying enough not to stop. Kurosaki’s swinging fists and furious eyes were a delight whether they were over or under him, somehow still trying to be careful not to destroy the room.

It was real fun actually, right up until Kurosaki punched him in the stomach, busted his zipper and put his hand straight through his hole.

“Oh my god,” Kurosaki gasped, frozen on his side and looking at his own arm where it disappeared inside Grimmjow. “I’m gonna throw up.”

“Oh, fuck you,” Grimmjow said, trying not to pant a little. “Get outta me.”

Kurosaki didn’t immediately rush to do that. In fact, for a second he did fuck all except stare. His hair was hanging in his eyes.

“It’s warm in there. I always thought it would be cold.”

Grimmjow scowled down at his stomach. “It’s just skin and muscle, like the rest of me.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Having a fist in there? No.” His mouth twitched. “Decent aim there, Kurosaki. Didn’t even touch the sides. C’mon. Pull it out.”

Grimmjow wasn’t big on self-analysis, but something about Kurosaki doing it himself mattered more than yanking his arm out by force. Feeling something flutter against his back, Grimmjow tried not to tense up. Fingertips. He’d relaxed his fist. Slowly, the hand retreated back out, but not before the purposeful stroke of fingers along the inside rim of his hole raised every invisible hair on Grimmjow’s body.

“Cool,” Kurosaki said softly, looking at his retrieved hand like he’d never seen it before. Turning over onto his back, he held it up to the light. “See, I’m not drugged.”

“You just felt me up from the inside,” Grimmjow pointed out, sitting up and unzipping his suit to try fixing the gaping hole in it. Kurosaki frowned faintly.

“Yeah, well I didn’t fist-fuck your hole, did I?”

Grimmjow’s fingers fumbled the zipper so hard it broke and flew across the room. Kurosaki sat up on his elbows to look at it contemplatively.

“Maybe you’re the one who’s hot. Reverse Uno card bait.”

“I’m not hot,” Grimmjow snarled, giving up on fixing his fucking jumpsuit. The whole thing was hanging open the whole way down to his belts. Clothes ruining asshole. Kurosaki snickered and crawled over towards him, then past him, moving to right the table they’d knocked over. The tokkuri was laying in a patch of damp tatami, but it sloshed when he grabbed it. In pure spite, Grimmjow jammed his foot into Kurosaki’s ass and made him headbutt the table.

“Ow!” Kurosaki rubbed his temple. Seeing Grimmjow’s smile, he flipped him off with the other hand. “Dick.”

“You can leave any time, asshole.”

“When we have a deal? Hell no.”

The obvious skirting of the bait’s effect went unmentioned by either of them. Besides, Kurosaki was holding it together pretty well, except for how fuckin’ weird he was being. Tactile piece of shit. Grimmjow watched him come shuffling back on his knees, smoothing his hair down with an oddly self-conscious hand. He arranged himself in front of Grimmjow’s sprawl, eyes only dipping south once or twice.

“You said if I tell you everything I remember about killing Ulquiorra I could smell you as much as I want, right?” The question was redundant, but it looked important to Kurosaki, whose expression had cooled down into something serious. Something deeper than scrapping around on the floor like a couple of kids. It was like a new Kurosaki had taken his place; one who was ready to revisit something dark. In exchange for smelling him.


“Yeah, I said it,” Grimmjow affirmed, mouth twisting. “So out with it.”

“Okay.” Kurosaki’s eyes fell to his hands for a moment, thumbs rubbing against his curled fingers. After a moment, his eyes lifted again, a steady golden brown that looked deep into Grimmjow. “Nothing.”

Grimmjow blinked. “Nothing?”

Kurosaki shrugged. “Yeah, nothing. I came to and he had sticks for limbs and then he went to dust. End of story.”

Grimmjow felt his face heat. “End of story my ass—”

“My turn,” Kurosaki interrupted in a rush, then fucking jumped him.

Piece of shit, Grimmjow thought angrily as he hit the floor again, this time with the full weight of a warm, hopped-up shinigami on his chest, pinning his wrists down over his head with hands like calloused iron. Fucker thought he could cheat him. He was ready to transform his foot into a black-clawed death machine and rip Kurosaki open from ass to heel, when an orange head pushed its way into the crook of his neck and inhaled so deeply Grimmjow felt like part of himself had come away with the breath.

Surprise didn’t exactly cover it when Kurosaki held himself there for a long second, then exhaled on a blissful groan of relief that definitely embarrassed them both. An instant later, Kurosaki’s pinning hands flattened, moving up into Grimmjow’s slack palms and threading their fingers. A body like a hard bag of cement went limp on top of his, every muscle relaxing at once. Because of his scent? Fucking hell.

Grimmjow stared up at the cracked ceiling and blinked a couple of times. Turned his face to the left. Yeah. Still there. Fuck. Kurosaki’s breath was hot and damp in the curve of his neck. Some intimate shit right there. They were fucking holding hands.

“This is good,” Kurosaki mumbled against his neck. “God, you smell great. S’like…your normal smell times a million. Feel like I’m inhaling your whole soul.” Another deep breath, this one slower, even more luxurious than the last. “Salty, sandy, soapy, kinda sweaty. I always get a face full of it when your hair’s whipping around when we fight. But not like this.”

Grimmjow’s eyebrows creased. “You’re smelling me in our battles? That’s fucking gay.”

“No shit,” Kurosaki replied in annoyance. “That’s how I know this stupid bait isn’t having an effect.” Bearing down on their hands, he bent his elbows until he could prop himself up slightly on them. It had the side effect of pushing their hips flat together. Kurosaki looked grumpy as fuck, but Grimmjow was still trying to parse the shit he’d just said.

“You were already hot for me,” Grimmjow said slowly. “What the fuck, Kurosaki? Why?”

“I don’t know. It’s stupid. You’re a massive dick.”

“I have a—”

“No, you. You’re a massive dick.” At Grimmjow’s glare, Kurosaki’s mouth turned down at the corners. Belatedly, Grimmjow realised his cheeks were kind of flushed. “I like you anyway. Things are always just better when you’re around.” Realising what he’d just said, Kurosaki scowled and added, “Asshole.”

Laying under Kurosaki’s weight and his weirdly fuckin’ insulting little confession there, Grimmjow thought about shoving him through the shoji wall. Then that seemed a little too extreme, so he thought about headbutting him instead. But Kurosaki’s brown eyes were looking extra golden in the afternoon light filtering through the room, and they were braced for some kind of impact.

Grimmjow hated being predictable.

“Well, get it out of your system then,” he said crossly, pulling one hand free and shoving Kurosaki’s face back down into his neck. He landed with a warm smack of parted lips and a curse about his squashed nose. Grimmjow ignored both as best as he could. “But you know that for this you’re definitely some kind of freak. Liking me. That sure isn’t the fuckin’ natural order talking.”

That started some bullshit mumbling into his hair, but Grimmjow tuned it out in favour of shoving his fingers further into the mess of orange hair that had pissed him off since day one. Orange. Weird colour. Weirder that it wasn’t bristly or rough, either; it was soft under his touch, unexpectedly fine. There was just a heap of it. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. It smelled like Kurosaki too, or the mix of shit he always used to stay clean. He was the cleanest thing Grimmjow had ever smelled in his life. Sprawled right on top of him like a dickhead, every muscle in his body gone to liquid. Lips on his neck.


“What,” Kurosaki replied groggily. “I’m just lying here.” He grunted a bit when Grimmjow pulled his head back by the hair. Yeah, he looked about three seconds from a nap.

Grimmjow’s eyes narrowed. “Why’d you want to bite me when you first came in?”

“Not me,” Kurosaki said uneasily. “Zangetsu. He’s all nuts about the bait stuff. I had to dump him in an office building and lock the door.”

“He’s nuts,” Grimmjow repeated. Office building?

“Well, yeah. He’s my hollow aspect. The bait’s got him all crazy so I put him away.” Shaking his head free little by little, Kurosaki gave him a dirty look and rubbed at his own scalp. “To me you just smell extra nice.”

“Extra nice implies you think I always smell nice,” Grimmjow said suspiciously. Fucker punched him in the side.

“Are you stupid? That’s what I was saying.”

“Stupid?” Grimmjow scowled. “That’s still not telling me shit about shit—”

Kurosaki lurched up four extra inches and kissed him with his grumpy little fucking mouth all warm and wet on his, tongue shoved between his teeth like an unwelcome guest. Grimmjow almost bit it straight off in rigid surprise until fingers worked between the jaws of his mask, stopping his teeth from closing. The whole time, Kurosaki kissed him like a hungry bastard, lips soft and tongue demanding, smelling like every good thing Grimmjow knew he’d never get his hands on in this lifetime. Right there on top of him.

Kurosaki pulled away with a smack and a panted breath. “Clear enough?”

Well, shit, Grimmjow thought, a little fucked up by the realisation that Kurosaki was probably right and he was a dumbass. The bait had been for him, after all. Kisuke was still a dick, though.

Blinking up at Kurosaki’s warning glare that promised retribution depending on what he replied with, Grimmjow curled his threaded fingers down like a shackle around his.

“Tell it to me one more time.”