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Four Nights 🛌

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Ichigo didn’t really remember when he and Grimmjow started sharing a bed.

Well, no, that wasn’t completely accurate; Ichigo remembered when it started, but the foggy details of exactly why it happened remained in a haze of blood and pain. He wasn’t even sure Grimmjow remembered it, considering the shape they’d both been in. They’d traded their fair share of hard blows during their fights after the quincy war ended, still trying to stay sharp and at the top of their game, but that battle in the darkness of Hueco Mundo had been something different.

Ichigo had been angry about being there in the first place, running messenger for Soul Society with stupid treaty amendments that someone else could have dropped off. It was about the only thing Soul Society wanted from him anymore; playing neutral go-between because nobody else wanted to step into the black and get their hands dirty—or chewed off. It wasn’t his fault he’d managed to end up on friendly-ish terms with the remaining arrancar.

Grimmjow had intercepted him in the dunes on the way back to the makeshift senkaimon point, disgusted to see him scurrying like a rat at the shinigami cohort’s beck and call. Hell, Ichigo agreed. But the sneering mockery radiating from him was the lit match held to the dry tinder of his own temper, and before either of them had time to trade more than a few ugly words they were tearing each other apart with claw and sword.

It had been the kind of battle that could have killed either of them. Both of them. Messy. Angry. Bloody. Every blow was aimed to hurt. Sweat poured, blood spilled, bones broke one at a time. Ichigo would never forget the moment the red fog dissipated from his vision and he realised Zangetsu was punched straight through Grimmjow’s chest, the sleek black blade of his bankai one twist from ending his life once and for all. From the sand, a red-stained snarl had spat blood in his face as clawed fingers raked it open, taking most of his left eye with it.

Yeah. It was their worst fight, and sometimes Ichigo wondered when he’d started thinking of their battles in reverse like that.

They’d made it back to the Living World together, realising that bleeding out was actually in their future if they didn’t see to their own wounds. Inoue had been called, Isshin had cursed a blue streak at them both collapsed on the floor of the clinic, and Yuzu had screamed at them through her tears that she might be blind to them but she wasn’t stupid, and their egos were getting way out of hand.

The rest was a blur, but the hard spike of shame at what Ichigo did remember was as fresh as the night it had happened. At the end of that blur, however many hours later it had taken to be healed, showered and climb back into his body, Ichigo had woken up in his own bed to find Grimmjow collapsed next to him on the mattress, still in resurreccion form and soundly asleep.

Ichigo remembered worrying first that he was dead, lying on his side wrapped in his own long blue hair, black claws unmoving in the beam of sunlight filtering through the curtain gap. Not using the pillow, guarding the door side of the bed. Grimmjow’s eyes were showing the smallest slit of white between his eyelids. It was fucking terrifying.

“Grimmjow,” Ichigo had whispered, finding his own hand beneath the blankets and pulling it out, not sure whether to touch or not. It seemed like a bad idea, but he did it anyway: pressed his fingertips to his firm cheek, just beneath where his estigma turned wild and flowed toward one compellingly furry ear. “You okay?”

The sliver of white had rolled away to reveal blue irises as Grimmjow’s lashes lifted, short brows beginning to pull together in a familiar frown. Tipping his chin to see Ichigo’s relieved, confused, disbelieving expression, he cracked his jaws and yawned with every pointed tooth on display, his spiny tongue curling up just like a real cat’s.

“You didn’t die in your sleep. Good.” Grimmjow stretched so hard his muscles audibly vibrated, rolling onto his back. He prodded his chest a few times where Ichigo remembered stabbing him straight through. Inoue’s healing had done its job. He sat up in one movement, not even using his hands. “Later.”

“Wait,” Ichigo remembered blurting out, half tangling in his sheets. He might have been healed and his eyeball was back in his head where it belonged, but that didn’t mean he had any energy. “Are you—are we—is everything cool?”

Grimmjow had taken one look and cracked him across the skull with his armoured tail.

“Cool?” he’d repeated, spreading his clawed hands and gesturing at himself. Not a single sign of injury. “I’m healed and got a decent sleep for once.”

“Yeah, but...I was off the rails.”

“Not the first time.” Grimmjow’s sharp-toothed mouth firmed. “For either of us. Maybe work your shit out, though. I want you tearing me apart, not the ghost of whatever shinigami keeps putting your face in the mud for their fuckin’ pleasure.”

Ichigo had rubbed his hand through a serious case of sore bedhead. His eyes were crusty. Grimmjow was still in resurreccion. What did that mean?

“Yeah.” Pulling in a fortifying breath, Ichigo nodded. “Yeah, I will. Sorry.”

“Fuck off,” Grimmjow had snorted and left through the bedroom door, like someone who actually knew the house and its layout. Ichigo was left there in a puddle of crumpled sheets and confused thoughts, with only the presence of mind to place his palm down on the mattress where Grimmjow had been lying only moments before.

It was still warm.

That was the first time.



The second time happened four weeks later at the end of Urahara’s weekly drinking night, and it was entirely Ichigo’s fault.

“I’m going to vomit,” Yoruichi groaned as Ichigo and Grimmjow together shoved her down on her futon, neither with any fucking idea how to undo a hundred thousand bra eyelets on the front of her stupid white stealth force corset. She was too drunk, they were too drunk and Urahara was banned from helping for reasons unknown.

“I have no idea how these work,” Ichigo muttered to himself, looking up at Grimmjow for help. “Claw?”

Grimmjow’s mouth firmed into a kind of battle sneer. His right hand began to crawl with black fur, obsidian claws spouting from each finger. Yoruichi wasn’t too drunk not to notice and jammed the bare sole of her foot against Grimmjow’s mouth with impressive flexibility.

“Do you know how much these cost? It’s spider-silk.”

“Fuck spiders,” Grimmjow replied flatly, throwing her foot away. “Sleep in it then.”

No,” Yoruichi said, sounding uncharacteristically close to begging. “Do you know how much alcohol is inside me right now? It needs to come off or I’ll projectile vomit. In your mouth, Grimmjow, if I can manage it.”

Ichigo looked at Grimmjow. Grimmjow looked right back.

“One, two, three?” Ichigo asked, shrugging one shoulder. Grimmjow nodded once.

“One, two, three,” Grimmjow repeated, and in one motion they pulled from opposite sides of the corset, ripping the entire thing right down the middle. Big brown boobs shot out of their tight confines, surprisingly large nipples finally freed. Ichigo screamed a little and crawled out into the hallway. Yoruichi distantly cursed them both like she was someone who had to actually save money for nice things, then rolled over and let out a huge snore.

Grimmjow kicked her in the ass for no reason and walked out on two actual feet, albeit unsteadily. Crouched in the hallway, Ichigo put his palms to his eyes and felt like he’d just experienced whatever those dudes had seen in Event Horizon.

“I’m a good person,” Ichigo whispered to himself as Grimmjow approached, looking up and hating him for looking more sober than he felt. Grimmjow was still wearing all his clothes, for one thing: jacket and jumpsuit were both intact, even if Urahara had taken his socks in strip poker. Ichigo was down to his hakama only. Even his stupid shinigami-issue fundoshi was gone after a finely executed win by Urahara. “Are Tessai and Urahara asleep too?”

Grimmjow listed slightly, taking two steps to the left for no apparent reason. His eyes were unfocussed. It was nice to know that even an arrancar who tried his hardest to look unaffected by anything and everything could still be hit in the dick with about two litres of vodka.

“Living area’s dark, so yeah.” Grimmjow squinted at Ichigo. “You’re fucked. C’mon.” He pulled shut Yoruichi’s bedroom shoji door and headed further down the hall on heavy feet, like he was trying to punch his legs through the tatami. He fumbled the screen door to the left exactly once before he pushed it open with too much force, revealing a dark haven that smelled kind of closed-up and musty. He turned back to squint at Ichigo. “You can have the floor. I’m gonna wash upstairs.”

It was almost nice of Grimmjow not to expect him to crawl home. Curious about the room despite his serious hunch that if he moved too fast he might throw up, Ichigo got up with the help of the wall and staggered into the darkness of the spare room. Grimmjow’s room.

It had almost nothing in it, but there was a large rumpled futon against the wall. It was on the floor, so in Ichigo’s mind it made perfect sense to get into it and push himself into the wall side, hoping the support of it would be enough to stop him throwing up in his own mouth during the night. Honestly, fuck Urahara and his drinking games.

“What the fuck,” Grimmjow hissed in the darkness about five minutes later, shutting the door behind himself and darting across the room. “I said the floor, you asshole.” Hands pushed at Ichigo’s shoulder exactly twice.

“Don’t,” Ichigo begged. “I’ll puke. Whole room’s spinning. Get lost.”

“It’s my bed, dipshit! Puke in it and I’ll—fuck, whatever. I’m too wasted for this.”

The blankets were pulled back with a decisive hand. Ichigo felt legs shoot down next to his own beneath the sheets, followed by the hard thump of a torso hitting the futon next to him. A rumpled blue head took the other half of the pillow. Grimmjow sighed with annoyance, the exhale almost painfully minty from toothpaste. He rolled onto his side facing Ichigo, a shapeless lump in the darkness of the room.

“I didn’t brush my teeth,” Ichigo confided mournfully.

“Then keep your mouth shut. If I fuckin’ smell alcohol it’s over.”

That seemed to be the entire matter settled. Grimmjow shifted once or twice under the blankets, hauling them up to his shoulders. He seemed annoyed by the gap between them and how it created a draught, so Ichigo agreeably moved in to close it up with his proximity. At no point did it occur to him that solving that problem required cuddling up to Grimmjow’s big, hard, minty-smelling body. He simply did it.

“Night,” Ichigo said into the stock-still warmth of Grimmjow’s shoulder, and passed the fuck out.

Morning came, and with it every regret. Just, every single one.

Ichigo opened his eyes to a pounding headache, exactly none of the pillow, and a stomach rolling with nausea. His mouth tasted like something rancid had been stuffed into it while he slept. At least he was warm and comfortable—

In the pale morning sunlight, Grimmjow’s face was so close that Ichigo could see even through bleary eyes each individual eyelash swept low in slumber, looking way more at peace than Ichigo would have thought him capable of. He was also clutching Ichigo’s whole body in his arms like some kind of scruffy blue octopus, radiating heat from his bare skin. It would have been cute if Ichigo wasn’t convinced he was on his deathbed. God, he needed water desperately.

On the other side of the room, a familiar shape loomed.

“Good morning,” Tessai said with quiet gruffness, opening the sliding door a little further with his foot. In his hands was a tray laden with two servings of plain toast, water, aspirin and what looked like some kind of witch’s brew in a tall glass. “Breakfast.” He placed it on the floor on Grimmjow’s other side and, under Ichigo’s fascinated gaze, placed his palm on top of Grimmjow’s hair. “The drinking will cost him, but it’s good to see him sleeping well.”

“He doesn’t?” Ichigo whispered, trying to get a better look from his angle. Sensing the movement, Grimmjow tried to crush the life out of him, pushing his face into Ichigo’s cheek with a weird muttering sound. At no point did he wake up, even a little.

Tessai’s lenses flashed. “Not like this. Stay until you feel better. There’s more food in the kitchen if you begin to feel adventurous.”

“Thanks.” Ichigo watched as Tessai petted Grimmjow’s hair with a big hand before he got back up to his feet, his lumbering form eerily silent as he left. Weirdly paternal, but okay. It just left him snuggled up with a sleeping arrancar.

Well. If it was just that, maybe Ichigo could sleep for another hour or two.

Just to pass the time.

When Ichigo woke up again later, Grimmjow was gone, along with exactly half of everything on the tray. Weirdly, his head was back on the pillow.

Twice wasn’t a pattern, but it had been kind of nice.

They never mentioned it after, but given the hangovers they nursed, Ichigo chalked it up to survival skills in the face of way too much to drink.



The third time, one week later, was convenience and nothing more.

“I’m so tired,” Ichigo groaned as he hauled himself through his bedroom window, rolling across his bed and straight back into his own body. The compounded exhaustion and soreness from the battle hit him like one last spiteful punch in the stomach, and then Grimmjow rolled right through the window after him, landing directly on top of his already broken body like a hard, smothering, heavy-breathing asshole.

“Gonna…regroup here for five,” Grimmjow muttered, giving into Ichigo’s increasingly panicked pushing and rolling off him. The bed was a decent size, but Grimmjow’s lanky muscle took up almost all of the extra space in a single sprawl. “You dying?”

“I feel like I took a wrecking ball to the chest,” Ichigo groaned, blinking at the dark ceiling. “We’ve gotta start leaving five percent of our energy before we stop fighting.”

“Weak.”

“You say that like you’ll be able to move tomorrow.”

“Worth it.”

Despite his complaints, Ichigo felt his mouth curl into a small smile. Feeling charitable, he reached up and pulled the window shut with one hand. Grimmjow craned his neck to watch him do it, saying nothing. Without any discussion, Grimmjow yanked his jacket, belts and boots off, laying Pantera on the floor beside the bed. They’d stopped off for a selfish little hit of healing from Inoue before heading back, so Grimmjow wasn’t bleeding or sweaty, but she’d left them with every bruise and no reiryoku for waking her up at eleven pm for the second week in a row.

“Brush your teeth this time,” Grimmjow said as Ichigo got up, pulling sweatpants out of his wardrobe and tossing them at Grimmjow’s face. “Fuck is this?”

“You’re gonna sleep in your jumpsuit?” Ichigo asked, hobbling out into the hallway without waiting for an answer. He’d already been dressed for bed before Grimmjow appeared with the brilliant idea of beating the hell out of each other for a few hours, so all he needed to do was wash up and brush his teeth. Belatedly, he wondered if he should start keeping a spare toothbrush. Did Grimmjow need to brush his mask teeth too?

Concerned with how he didn’t know the answer to that, Ichigo limped back to his room with the intention of asking, and came across an interesting sight.

“They’re kind of short,” Grimmjow said critically, looking down at the grey sweats he was wearing. The open leg of the cuff brushed his calf about three inches above the ankle, but they were loose enough. Grimmjow was staring down at his bare feet in contemplation, scratching the edge of his hollow hole. He wasn’t wearing a shirt because Ichigo hadn’t given him one. “Feels soft.”

“Fleece,” Ichigo said after a moment. There was a blooming watercolour of blue and purple bursting across Grimmjow’s ribs and back. “Damn, I really got you tonight.”

“Got you back.” Grimmjow leaned around with a grimace to look at his side. “Sadistic fuck, you hit me three times in the same spot. Bust my ribs in one shot next time.”

Ichigo snorted. “Want me to kiss it better?” he teased, heading for the bed and pulling the covers down.

“Fuck off. Bathroom?”

“Down on the right. Rinse my toothbrush when you’re done.”

Grimmjow just grunted and disappeared off to get clean, muttering about his ribs the whole way. Ichigo smiled a little as he threw the discarded jumpsuit over the metal shelving at the end of the bed, wondering if he should bring up another pillow and keep it in his wardrobe just in case. He could ask Yuzu about it in the morning.

Ichigo knew he wasn’t the type to really stop and have real moments of self-reflection, far preferring to do whatever felt right in the moment, but as he tucked himself comfortably on the window side of his bed and watched the light in the hallway flick off, it began to occur to him that he should probably do some real thinking soon.

“I like this bed,” Grimmjow said under his breath a few moments later, reeking of mouthwash. His hair was lightly damp against Ichigo’s cheek as he slid in alongside him. “Yours was the red toothbrush, right?”

Ichigo snorted. “That’s Dad’s. I’m the black one.”

“Fuck.”

“Karin would say you just second-hand kissed him by doing that.” Ichigo yelped as a warm finger jabbed him in the hip, right where his t-shirt was lifted from rolling over. “Shit! That’s sore.”

“No kidding,” Grimmjow grunted, rolling gingerly on his side until he could face Ichigo in the darkness. “Go to sleep already. I’ll second-hand kiss you next time.”

Not bothering to study the mention of next time too closely, Ichigo rolled over to face the wall, content to have Grimmjow at his back until daybreak. In a demonstration of just how comfortable he was with that arrangement, Grimmjow budged across the mattress and threw his arm over Ichigo’s bruised side, hauling them together like two jigsaw pieces made to fit each other. Warm breath ghosted over the back of Ichigo’s neck. Sniffing sharply a couple of times, Grimmjow stuck one of his feet between Ichigo’s beneath the covers and finally went still.

“Night,” Ichigo said automatically, and felt an answering twitch of fingers against his stomach.

It made more sense to just let Grimmjow stay the night there, Ichigo thought as he began to drift off. Less bother with extra blankets, and it meant he didn’t have to drag himself back to Urahara’s or Las Noches in that state. It was a good deed, even.

It was just more convenient to sleep together.

Yeah.



The fourth time was three nights later, and it began with an argument.

“You’re always such a dick to them,” Ichigo said tightly, throwing folded clothes into his wardrobe with zero care where they ended up. “Chad and Ishida are my friends and they just wanted to come and say hi. Why the fuck are you always so damn rude?”

From the bed, Grimmjow raised his middle finger and kept reading his book.

“Because I think they’re losers,” he said without looking up. “Cut ‘em loose already. You don’t need those pains in the ass.”

You’re the pain in the ass!” Ichigo shot back, crawling up onto the bed on his knees and yanking the curtains closed. Grimmjow never remembered to shut them or the window when he arrived. “Ishida and Chad were just hanging out in here. Coming in like that and telling them to fuck off was rude.”

“It’s late,” Grimmjow said flatly.

“It’s eight pm! On a Friday!”

“Don’t care.”

“Well, you should,” Ichigo fumed, stuffing his socks into his drawer and shutting it with a thump. “I don’t even know why you came. You just want to ignore me and read,” he squinted at the cover, “Yuzu’s magical girl manga. What the hell?”

Grimmjow didn’t bother to reply, but his expression tightened. In fact, there was something unhappy in every line of his body, from his tense expression to his hunched shoulders, to the tight grip on the manga volume he was reading. Over what, his friends coming over? Being in Ichigo’s bedroom? All Grimmjow ever did there was sleep anyway—

Ichigo straightened up, blinking at the wall in front of him.

“You’re tired,” he sounded out slowly. “You came here to get some sleep.”

Grimmjow’s mask clacked slightly. His eyes didn’t lift from the book. “So?”

“So how long has it been since—”

“Since I was here last,” Grimmjow snapped. If it was possible he actually hunched down even further. “Big fuckin’ deal. I sleep good here.”

Knowing he should just take the compliment that Grimmjow liked his house and his room enough to let his guard down and sleep, Ichigo couldn’t help but pounce on an important point.

“Not here,” Ichigo said, still a little argumentative and cranky. “With me. You sleep well with me. Why?”

This time, Grimmjow didn’t reply at all. He just continued sitting there at the head of the bed, long legs extended out in front of him, already down to just his black jumpsuit. The zip was parted even more than usual, almost to stomach level. It made the pink scar tissue that bisected his chest stand out even more. In the lamplight coming off the desk, his eyes were a flash of narrow cobalt when he glanced up at Ichigo. The winged teal of his estigma looked impossibly bright. Then his mouth twisted, a downward curve of displeasure, and he went right back to reading Card Captor Sakura. Of all the manga to grab from three different house members, he took Yuzu’s tossed recommendation. Grimmjow was making less and less sense the more Ichigo got to know him.

Exhaling in a rush, Ichigo put the matter away and stomped off to the bathroom to wash up. Usual nightly routine, even if it was stupidly early. The ritual sapped the last of his annoyance at having his evening of entertainment ruined. At least Kon was in Soul Society with Rukia and not around to witness any of it. He’d dine on it for years.

Before he left the bathroom, Ichigo reached under the sink and pulled something out. Might as well, he thought mulishly. Being the bigger man sucked huge ass sometimes.

“Here,” Ichigo said shortly, tossing his gift down in Grimmjow’s lap. “I got light blue. Throw it in the cup with mine after you use it.” Not stopping to bask in the burning look of confusion that crossed Grimmjow’s face as he saw the toothbrush, Ichigo turned back to his wardrobe and pulled out another recent purchase. “Here.”

Grimmjow grabbed the new, extra long black sweatpants with one hand. The manga had fallen shut on the bed at last. With both hands full, Grimmjow looked from one gift to the other with an expression bordering on trepidation. Or maybe it was a little bit like guilt—but Ichigo knew when he was fooling himself.

Slowly, Grimmjow sat up further, turning so that his legs swung off the bed. Braced forward on his knees, he rubbed his thumbs across the fabric of the sweatpants. Ichigo hadn’t had long to grab them from the store yesterday, but he’d made sure to get softest fleece with the longest legs. It wasn’t much of a gift, really, but something in the way Grimmjow kept touching them made Ichigo feel sort of ridiculously pleased with himself.

“Eight pm is kind of early for me to be sleeping, so I hope you don’t care if I’m doing things on my phone for a while,” Ichigo started, only to flinch in surprise as long fingers wrapped around his wrist, jerking him in closer. In one long stride, Ichigo found himself standing almost right between Grimmjow’s knees. “What?”

Through the long, spiky blue bangs that fell over his brow, Grimmjow looked up at Ichigo like he wasn’t quite sure he’d come to the right conclusion. Then, just as quickly, he stood and walked out of the bedroom. The bathroom fan whirred on a moment later. Ichigo rubbed his wrist and wondered if he’d just fundamentally changed something without really meaning to.

It wasn’t that he was mad at Grimmjow, exactly, but having to puzzle things out was kind of tiring. If Tessai hadn’t dropped his little clue that other morning, Ichigo would have angrily kicked him out of the house and that would have been that. But knowing Grimmjow just wanted to sleep soundly and felt like he could only do it with Ichigo next to him was…sort of sad. It plucked at that corner of Ichigo’s heart that liked making people happy, even when he had to complain and bitch about it first.

Besides, Ichigo knew he could stand to be a bit more honest with himself, too; he liked waking up to find Grimmjow wrapped warmly around him, sleeping so deeply that a guy like Tessai could actually touch him and have it go unnoticed. He…he really liked it, actually. So it was worth losing half his mattress space and most of his pillow. It was worth giving up his first free Friday night that didn’t involve going to Urahara’s just to lay in bed with a big blue-haired arrancar with an apparent secret thing for shoujo manga.

Ichigo was tucked into his side of the bed and facing the wall, scrolling his phone in the dark when Grimmjow came in with quiet footsteps and closed the door. The retreating wedge of light from the hallway vanished altogether with a soft click, and despite his forced calm Ichigo found himself holding his breath a little as the blankets were tugged back.

“Why’re you facing that way?” Grimmjow muttered tiredly, and the mattress dipped under the sudden weight of him sliding under the blankets. “You shitty with me?”

Ichigo waved his phone over his shoulder. “Trying to hide the glare a bit. Also your mouthwash breath kills my eyes for like the first few minutes. How’d the sweatpants fit?”

“Fine.” Curt didn’t quite cover it. Then, “Thanks, Kurosaki.”

Ichigo smiled at his phone screen. “Whatever.”

For a small, slightly awkward exchange, it dissipated the tension enough that Ichigo rolled over just in time for Grimmjow to try his spoon cuddling from the other night, which had the interesting result of tangling them together tightly, completely face to face. Ichigo’s eyes instantly stung from the mint, but he ignored it. Under the cool light of his phone screen, Grimmjow’s eyes were liquid black and inches away, looking directly at him in a way Ichigo had never seen before. It was almost warm. As warm as the arms wrapped around him.

“I know you can watch my back,” Grimmjow said in the intimate space between them. “Sleeping alone back home, it’s a good way to get killed. Having you near, I can finally fucking relax.” Bare arms flexed around Ichigo’s body, tugging him closer. “You smell good, and you feel good, and it’s—fuck, I don’t know. Waking up to find my first thought of the morning is in bed right next to me is…” Grimmjow swallowed, rubbing his cheek into the pillow for a moment. “It’s good. So. That’s why.”

Ichigo’s fingers convulsed a little around his phone, locking the screen. He shoved it under their pillow—their pillow, what a thought—and thought about what to say in reply. He was Grimmjow’s first thought in the morning? That was…a lot. A hell of a lot, really, and it made the greedy little coal in the centre of his chest pulse with possessiveness. Maybe Grimmjow had been his in a lot of ways, for a long time.

Pulling his hand out of the covers, Ichigo laid his palm to the unmasked side of Grimmjow’s face, feeling a quick breath drawn in against his wrist. But he wasn’t stopped, and Grimmjow didn’t pull away at all. He simply let Ichigo do it, feeling the smooth warmth of his skin and the sculpted curve of cheekbone beneath it. It was nice.

“So you like to fight me, drink with me, spoon me and sleep with me.”

Grimmjow’s mouth twitched. “And use your toothbrush.”

“What—I just gave you one!” Ichigo used his caressing hand to mash Grimmjow’s face down into the pillow, ignoring his snort of laughter. “You gross fuck. Just add kissing me to your list if you’re going to do that.”

“Okay,” Grimmjow said agreeably, pulling out from under Ichigo’s hand with all his inhuman arrancar strength and pressing their lips together.

It was the quickest, chastest kiss Ichigo could possibly have imagined; barely more than a brush of mouths meeting. A fleeting impression of soft warmth was all he’d felt, hardly a kiss at all, but when his tongue instinctively touched his lips, he tasted mint. A kiss. From Grimmjow.

Grimmjow had kissed him.

“Did your brain break?” Grimmjow asked when the silence stretched. A sharp kick under the blankets jolted Ichigo out of his thoughts.

“Ow! Human now, remember?” Ichigo said irritably, moving his shin away. “And I was just processing. It’s not every day I’m kissed by the same guy who ripped out my eyeball a few weeks ago.” He paused. “I mean, if that’s what we’re calling a kiss, anyway.” It was a good thing he’d moved his legs because Grimmjow immediately tried to kick him again.

“Your fucking zanpakutou was an eighth of an inch away from my spine,” Grimmjow said heatedly, leaning in to grind his forehead against Ichigo’s. “Besides, there’s zero stakes with ripping your arms, legs or eyes to shreds. That woman just heals you right up. No fuckin’ scars, nothing.” He followed that annoyed reminder with another kiss, a hard, lingering one that made Ichigo forget about his sore forehead pretty quickly. Grimmjow pulled away only as far as his mouth needed to move to add, “Shithead.”

“You’re a shithead,” Ichigo said sourly, pushing his arms around Grimmjow’s side and grabbing the edge of his hole. It was so hot inside there it almost burned. “Keep kissing me. I’m not sure if I like it yet.”

“Fuckin’ princess,” Grimmjow bitched, but Ichigo’s fingers tightened and he made a weirdly bitten-off sound. The next kiss came from a new angle: right on top of him, actually. Poised over Ichigo, Grimmjow kissed down on his mouth, that time with a plunging tongue and an extremely thorough exploration of everything within. The eventual break of contact was wet and short of breath on Ichigo’s part. “Better?”

“It’ll do,” Ichigo said finally, which earned a satisfied laugh and another quick kiss. “How badly do you need to sleep, just out of curiosity?” He was rewarded with Grimmjow dropping down on top of him, smothering his face in the pillow next to Ichigo’s head. Whatever he said was muffled by the pillow, but it sounded regretful. “Damn. Of all the times to have no stamina.”

“Fuck off,” Grimmjow replied, turning his head to free his mouth. “Maybe in the morning.”

In the morning. There was some strangely tantalising promise in those four words, like Grimmjow fully intended to be there when Ichigo woke up. Maybe they could even do breakfast with the family. Yuzu always liked it when Grimmjow showed up, even if she couldn’t see or hear him properly. She was beginning to insist that the more he came by, the more filled-in his outline was becoming. Plus Ichigo knew she’d put on a massive breakfast if he stuck around, which was a huge win all round.

Apparently satisfied for the moment, Grimmjow rolled clear and sank himself deep beneath the blankets, tugging the corner of the pillow down slightly. Always in the same position: back to the door and facing Ichigo. A guard position that was either sacrificial, or really damn trusting. Ichigo knew which one he preferred.

“Morning sounds good,” Ichigo said, mostly to himself. He was feeling a little wistful. And maybe more than a little charmed.

Ichigo smiled in the darkness.

“Actually, morning sounds great.”