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Dominate Me

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It began as a simple game, something he played with himself when he was alone and never spoken of out loud. He'd wrap the dog collar he found on the street, and cleaned meticulously, around his neck and pull it tight. Then hooking a finger in the D-ring, he'd pull on it as though his hand belonged to someone else. It was all he could do to keep himself from shooting off at first, but slowly, as he began to do his research in private, he began to deny himself that pleasure, because good boys didn't indulge until they were told they were allowed. And it made facing the horrors of his life that much easier.

He tried to be the strong, self-reliant man they wanted him to be, and he really did try to be aroused at the things that society said should arouse him. But, as with all things in his life, it didn't work like that. He was aroused by things that inflamed his cheeks and sent him watching over his shoulder, terrified that someone would walk in on him indulging and he'd get in trouble for it. It didn't matter that his father had never discouraged his exploration, or that the Goat Face had even sat down with him on multiple occasions to talk about how it didn't matter what he decided to do with his life, the retired military captain wouldn't judge him. His father loved him no matter what, but he just couldn't get it out of his head that he enjoyed things that he really shouldn't enjoy.

So, he kept his secret. Even after he graduated from high school and joined the same military where his father had been a part. Even when the way the instructors at Basic Training yelled made him have to suffer through obstacle courses with the worst set of blue balls he'd ever had in his life. Six weeks of training, and six weeks of denial. That first orgasm in that hotel room, his first weekend off base was like he'd never felt pleasure before. He didn't even breathe a word of it when he was sent out of the country to fight for the freedoms he used to enjoy his secret desires.

Coming home from that war had been the worst part. A stray round from an enemy insurgent hidden in a broken down hovel clipped him through the leg, shattering the bones, and rendering him unable to continue serving his country. It wasn't the loss of mobility he minded so much as with medical discharge he lost that structured order. Therapy went well though, and a year after he came home only those who knew he'd been injured could tell as his gait adjusted to the new twist of his foot. It was almost enough to wash away the discontent, but no Veteran's Hospital could erase the pit of need in his belly. Worse yet, on top of the lack of commands, now he had nightmares and flashbacks to deal with each night.

It was strongest when the house was quiet in the middle of the night. He tried headphones but the sense that he wouldn't be able to tell if someone was there made them uncomfortable. If he played music without them though, it bothered his housemates—a couple of high school buddies who were attending college in their home town and didn't want to live on campus. One was pre-med, one was graphic design with an emphasis on tattoos, and the third was undecided but dabbling in humanities, nursing, and, strangely enough, business management. He didn't quite get it but his large-framed best friend would do what he always did; follow his own path.

Unfortunately that left him rather lost while his three roommates were out at classes or social gatherings, which more and more he was feeling extremely uncomfortable attending. It wasn't that he was trying to be a shut-in, but putting himself out there, taking a chance at being rejected was difficult, even more so because of the way he tended to get jumpy around loud sounds and sudden changes. It made it extremely difficult for him to get close to anyone, let alone someone he could let in on his secret, and as sure as he grew more cautious about being out in social situations, the feeling grew that he needed to have someone he could not only trust with his secret, but would know how to exploit it in all the right ways.

It was building. His need. His desires. His secret. Now he had a collar bought brand new, cuffs that would hold him back if he wanted to, and things to clamp around his manhood to keep him from touching or playing or even climaxing, depending on the level of restraint he needed. It eased things a little, but that overwhelming lack of safety, the sense of not belonging, the purpose to his life was missing. Dating held no interest. The few times he tried he couldn't even keep his attention on the person, more guys than girls, but both held little appeal. Well, no, a few appealed to him, but once he started to get closer, he discovered that not a one of them had the kind of presence he craved. He had just made up his mind to give up on ever finding that person to thoroughly provide the remedy to his secret when the end of winter finals arrived, bringing jovial behavior from his roommates and an almost required night out at the boys' favored club, Soul Candy.

He stared up at the ceiling in exasperation, arms flung out to either side, legs shoulder-width apart, though his left foot turned inwards enough to be noticeable. Letting out an exasperated breath, he nearly jumped out of his skin when one of his roommates pounded on the door.

"Oi! Ichi! Ya almost ready?"

Renji. Loud, boisterous, happily committed, Renji. He'd almost spilled his secret to the vibrant redhead, but the night he had planned on it, the budding tattoo artist had brought home not one, but TWO ebony-haired beauties hanging on either arm. Apparently fraternal twins, and not above sharing the happily bisexual male who paraded them around the apartment like a pair of prized racehorses. Identical seductive arrogance in matching silver and violet, framed by porcelain skin and delicate, noble features? Oh, yeah, ungainly, sand-weathered, skinny Ichigo didn't stand a chance. So, he'd smiled and celebrated Renji's conquest with the rest of them.

He blinked slowly, taking the burning cigarette from his mouth. It had been hanging there for a while. He flicked the ash off into the empty soda can he used in lieu of a proper ashtray, tucked the butt back between his lips, and sat up with a grunt. Long night. Incredibly long night. The pounding was going to start up again if he didn't answer, so he just crossed to the door and pulled it open, exhaling slowly with a raised eyebrow. All he wore were a pair of tattered jeans, boxers peeking over the waistband of said jeans and his socks.

"Ah. Uh…y'know, ya don't hafta go if ya don't want ta." The redhead looked him up and down, noting that the muscle definition the orangette had come home from overseas with was gone. At least across his torso.

"Nah, I'm comin', jus' give me a min. I'll change. Sorry, was thinkin' 'bout Rukia and Bya. They gonna be there?" He took another slow drag on the cig, exhaling through his nose so as not to blow the smoke in his friend's face.

"Yeah, they're meetin' us. So's Hime an' Jackie." Renji scratched his head a little nervously.

Ichigo made an acknowledging noise in response. He'd dated Orihime for a while after coming home, but not only was she not in any way what he was looking for, the girl was rather needy and it was a bad time for him to have anyone depending on him. He'd been recovering from his injury, and suffering severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the girl had unfortunately taken the brunt of his adjustment phase head-on, certain she could power through it. She'd failed, horribly. To the point that she'd abruptly changed her major from nursing to teaching because she determined that if she couldn't find the patience to deal with Ichigo's mood swings and anti-social behavior, she didn't have the constitution to handle the type of patients that would throw things and actually try to harm themselves or others.

"Eh. Ruki said she's bringin' her new man though. So, we'll fin'lly get ta see who distracted her, ne?" The two regarded each other for a little while, and Renji fidgeted.

"Oh. Good." Ichigo's monotone was a bit unnerving.

He turned then, and shut his door to get dressed—a graphic tee that was a size too big, relaxed jeans that hid the way his left leg turned in, and a dark hoodie so he could blend into the corner of the bar and watch the crowd with eyes that were entirely too sharp and too old for a twenty-seven-year-old. Stepping into his supportive sneakers, he lit another cigarette and exited his room.

The others were waiting for him. Renji in cargo jeans, sneakers, and a dark red hoodie over a similar graphic tee. Chad in his signature Hawaiian/Mexican style, from floral print button-down shirt to the khaki pants to the pseudo-combat boots that replaced his typical sandals in the winter. Finally, Uryuu, looking haughty, though slightly less impatient now that Ichigo had returned, in smart dress jeans and button down shirt with a skinny tie. He had a jacket over his arm, and gave the orangette a once-over, as though assessing his outfit. He apparently passed because without a word the foursome exited the third floor apartment.

Down the stairs and out into cold that Ichigo absolutely refused to acknowledge freezing his bones. If he had to walk more slowly when the wind cut through his jeans to the jagged line of scar tissue down his thigh and calf, nobody commented on it; they just adjusted their pace to match his.

He was positively shivering by the time they reached the car, and completely missed the look the other three exchanged in his rush to dive into the shotgun seat of Renji's Mustang. Stupid, old car was the redhead's baby, but it got the crew from place to place. Ignore the facts that it guzzled gas like a drowning man, and couldn't heat for shit until they got to their destination. So, in spite of that, the orangette hunched around himself for warmth, and watched the city lights, the passing cars, the entire view outside the vehicle like he was a hawk, eyes tuned, ears perked, and nerves on edge, until the flashing lights of the club colored the street.

Renji parked, they checked in with Z and Nnoi, the bouncers, and headed to their customary table in the corner between the bar and the dance floor, on an elevated platform that had a solid, gold-painted, steel barrier between them and the crowd of undulating dancers. Ichigo picked it out for the vantage point he got from the corner seat. He gained a wall at his back, and could use most of the scenery in front of him as either a defensive position or a weapon. It was just one of those things that came home with him, and the group allowed him, his quirks.

Tonight, however, there was a problem.

Sajin, the crossbred guard dog, pushed his way through the people to glue himself to Ichigo's left side, like always, but the look the orangette received from his owner, the burly bartender, made him frown, even as he let his hand rest on the canine's watermelon-sized head. Following the flow of his group to the table, he watched everyone tense before he could see his usual seat.

"Ichi..." Renji started, as the veteran froze staring at the man that had the audacity to sit in his seat.

"Who is he?" He asked softly, using Sajin's ears to steady himself.

"I brought him, I hope you don't mind, Kurosaki-san." The pale-as-fuck, dark-haired man holding Orihime on his lap spoke just as softly as Ichigo.

The blue-haired new-comer had one large hand curled around a bottle of imported German beer, and the other lifted to pluck the cigarette from his lips. He held the inhale for a few moments as his cerulean, piercing gaze devoured the orangette as though he was a particularly tasty side of beef. Then he exhaled slowly through teeth that were entirely too sharp.

"Well, well, well, ya weren't kidding, Cif." His voice rumbled, and commanded Ichigo's attention. "He's delicious."

"Jag, I told you to proceed carefully with him." Ulquiorra frowned, and Orihime bit her lip, waiting for her ex-boyfriend's reaction.

The orangette took the final steps up to the large, blue-haired man and his usual spot. He couldn't help but inhale the combination of mint, body-spray, and cigarettes as he spoke in the same monotone. "That's my chair."

"Was it?" 'Jag' exhaled his drag straight into Ichigo's face. "Guess yer gonna have ta make me move…" Another drag. "If ya can, Strawberry."

Around them, the entire group went silent. A small twitch was all the indication that the veteran had even heard the newcomer. The girls clung to their men, and the men all held their breath. The tension climbed higher, thicker, and heavier. Then Ichigo turned away, grabbing another chair to pull it against the wall. It seemed the moment was over, but as soon as the others had gone on to drinking, dancing and celebrating the end of the semester, the blunette leaned over towards Ichigo, snagged the chair and pulled him closer.

Yet another cloud of cigarette smoke, that the orangette was sure was going straight to his head, accompanied the husky words, "So, how come none o' th' others c'n tell yer wearing a cock ring?"

He choked on his beer, and wide amber eyes flew to stare at the imposing other male. "Wh-what makes you think I'm wearing one?"

"Cuz," 'Jag' leaned in closer, breathing on Ichigo's neck. "I c'n see it." His lips were millimeters from the veteran's tanned skin. "It's in yer eyes." Kiss. "It's in yer skin." Lick. "An' I c'n see ya tryin' not ta submit ta me from here."

He tried to pull away, tried to fight it, but it was too strong. The scent, the sound, the feeling, everything; it blew away his concentration. That blissful state of non-thinking came over him, and he let his eyes close. A shiver ran down his spine, confirming what the blunette suspected about the fiery orange-haired man. Oh, yes, he could sense a needy sub from a mile away.

"Th' name's Grimmjow Jaegerjaques, but ya c'n call me 'Master', Kitten. Capice?" He rumbled in his prey's ear.

"Y-yes." Ichigo stammered.

That heavy hand that had been holding his foreign beer shot out and grabbed the orangette from his chair, forcing him to kneel on the floor. A shock of pain ran through him straight to his cock, making it strain between his jeans and the cock ring he was indeed wearing, and when he thought it could get no harder, that sinfully commanding voice rumbled above him.

"Yes what, pet?"

"Yes, Master." Wide, lust-filled eyes dare to look up at his Dominant.

The feral man chuckled with a smug smile, "Good, Kitten. Very good."

He was hauled up onto that lap, curled into the broad, insanely strong chest, and completely missed the look Grimmjow gave his companions, who were all exchanging muted congratulatory gestures. Chad collected a stack of bills from Uryuu. Byakuya and Ulquiorra sighed. Rukia and Orihime smiled and hugged each other, and Renji wiped his forehead, looking intensely relieved, absently scratching Sajin's ears.

Chapter Text

 

His body twisted to the beat of the drum. His eyes closed, and on the edge of the dance floor, the others in his group were still flabbergasted by the very fact that he was even on the other side of the railing. Oh yes, hooking him up with Grimmjow six months ago had been excellent for the orange-haired veteran.

He spun, and though the jingle couldn't be heard, the flashing lights glinted off the circle around his neck. A two-inch thick, black leather strip punctuated by six blunt silver studs. The back read, in block lettering, B.I.T.C.H. There was a tag hanging from the off-center D-ring engraved with a gothic number six, and a small padlock held the buckle next to it closed. When he walked, or moved, the tag bounced against the lock, making a pleasant sound, at least when music didn't drown it out, like it was at the moment.

Between his obsidian twins, Renji tensed as a youthful looking male with long black hair danced his way up to Ichigo. The veteran smirked and the two set to enjoying the rhythm of the dance, but as time went on, things got closer and closer, until by the end of the song the two were grinding. The redhead clenched his jaw and sighed. Fuck. He leaned away from Rukia, much to her displeasure, to grab his phone from his pocket and snap a picture. He had a promise to keep, and though he had to bite his tongue to keep the curl of irritation from escaping, he dutifully sent the picture to the one missing member of their group.

The rest of the evening was uneventful, and when the bar was closing the group gathered together again, riding back to their respective apartments for another week of classes, work and mundane nonsense. Ichigo rode with Renji, as usual, in his beat up, hand-me-down, Mustang, but rather than home the redhead took the ginger to a fairly well-to-do condo on the other side of town, before heading off with his twins to do whatever. The veteran actually had a grin on his face and waved happily as they drove off.

The doorman at the desk, a lazy brunette with sleepy grey eyes, only opened one lid for a moment, before relaxing back into his seat. Ichigo was no stranger here, and he knew the man was having troubles with his ex-wife. Their daughter, somewhere around the end of childhood and the beginning of pre-pubescence, was causing issues between them by acting out at school and whatnot. So, the man had good reason to be tired.

With that in mind, the ginger merely trotted to the elevator and let himself up to his Master's apartment. Though he didn't enter, only knocked on the door. When it opened, the blue-haired sex god was framed in soft light and dressed only in pajama bottoms and that feral grin.

"Well, well, well, Red got ya here in record time, Kitten. He musta been expectin' somethin'." He rumbled and moved aside, though Ichigo didn't move until he added, "Come on in, good boy."

Beaming harder, the ginger practically danced into the living room, and promptly began removing his clothing. Good boys only wore clothes Master gave them, and only when Master told them to. So, to be a good boy, Ichigo stripped, carefully folded his jeans, tee-shirt, boxers and socks together, and placed them, with his shoes, in the cubby hole at the bottom of the hall closet where Grimmjow used to keep umbrellas before the two made their contract.

It had taken some getting used to, being completely exposed, sometimes even where people could see in because the curtains were open, and having his scars out where they were on display was something that had made him squirm a lot in the beginning. But his Master had firmly, but carefully, taught him that the marks on his body, especially the ones left by his time in the service, were badges of honor, to be worn more proudly than any other adornment placed on him. So, in time, he had come to cherish his body as it was: skinny, with a few freckles here and there, a certain lack of muscle definition that hid his true strength, and the angle of his left foot, turned just far enough in that he couldn't stand straight and balanced evenly on both feet anymore.

As he proved though, his knees still worked fine, and after putting away the last things that could be interpreted as independent, he knelt next to his Master's chair. In accordance with their routine, the blunette grabbed cup of coffee from the kitchen, took his seat and pulled Ichigo over to kneel between his legs. Here he was to wait until Grimmjow was ready for bed, and if there was anything to be discussed now would be the time.

"So, didja have fun wit' yer friends t'night?" His Master sipped at his coffee.

"Very much so. Jackie actually sat in Chad's lap for the first time. He wasn't expecting it, so he knocked his beer into Ulquiorra's lap. It was hilarious." Ichigo laughed.

Grimmjow smiled a little wistfully. "Good. Anything else fun happen?"

"No. Not really." The ginger shook his head, frowning a little.

All he received from that was a noncommittal noise that indicated the blunette was reading something on his tablet. Silence reigned for a while, Master continuing to work on whatever it was he was doing, and pet waiting patiently at his feet. Just as Ichigo began to doze off a little, a scent struck his nose. Being that close to his Master's crotch meant as soon as the blunette was aroused his pet knew about it. Amber eyes darted up to the mostly impassive face above him. Was this a test? Did he have permission to touch? He wanted to. So, very, very badly. Already the scent and the knowledge that whatever his Master was doing was turning him on were combining to drive the veteran crazy.

Out of nowhere, Grimmjow spoke, "You lied, Kitten."

"Huh?" Ichigo blinked, and immediately paled…the dancer! "I'm sorry, Master, I forgot to mention there was a guy. He was hitting on me while we danced. He asked me what my collar meant, and I told him it was because I'm feisty. I should have told him that it spells Boy In Training Careful Handling."

"And?" His Master wasn't looking at him.

"And I should have told you when I was telling you about my evening. I'm sorry, Master." He re-focused his gaze on the fabric of the chair in front of him, and heard the slide of a drawer.

Then Grimmjow was buckling his restraint cuffs around his wrists, and locking them together such that all he could really do with them was fold his fingers against one another. "I don' really care that he was flirtin' wit' ya, or that ya didn't tell me right away, but ya didn't tell him what yer collar says, and the pic I got from Red tells me that ya didn't 'xactly make him back off neither."

He dared a glance up, and the look on his Master's face had him biting his lip, his length twitching in anticipation. "I was a very bad boy, Master…will you punish me?"

"Mmm…" Grimmjow's eyes darkened, and he ran a hand through the orange spikes between his legs. "Ya do know how I like it when ya ask, Kitten."

Ichigo swallowed, his mouth going dry at the implications in his Master's voice. Then a strong hand was reaching down and locking his cuffs to his collar, leaving him to hang his hands on either side of his neck.

"No touching, Kitten. You just sit there an' be a good boy fer a while an' we'll see 'bout what ya need ta do ta make it up ta me." The blunette tucked his fingers through his pet's hair again, drawing the nails across his scalp.

Shivers ran down the veteran's spine and he licked his lips, biting the bottom one. He squirmed a little, trying desperately not to move. It was hard because Grimmjow told him not to and he wanted to be good. He really, really did, but his Master was always so tasty and he was right there, in front of his nose, the scent of the blunette's arousal overwhelming him.

"Ya should see these pictures, Kitten." Nails pulled through his hair again accompanying a husky voice, that spoke volumes to the lust Grimmjow felt.

His attention drifted up to watch his Master's reactions, as he continued to chew on his lip. His breathing was starting to get heavier, but not quite panting, and a small whine escaped his throat. It cut off when the fingers in his hair gave a tug, hard enough to be felt as a spark of pain from his crown to his toes and back up to glisten on the tip of his cock.

"A little longer, Kitten. Yer still in time out fer lyin' ta that Nilla." The azure eyes above him were slightly dilated in pleasure, as he browsed what was obviously a collection of his favorite pornographic images.

Ichigo swallowed again, and licked his lips. The bottom one was bright pink from having been bitten and sucked on, and unconsciously he leaned into the blunette's touch, before falling back on his heels again. "Yes, Master."

A few more flicks of his thumb across the touchscreen and Grimmjow gave a pleased sigh. Turning to his tortured pet, he smirked, "Now, Kitten, are ya sorry fer lyin'?"

"Yes, Master! This boy is very sorry for lying." The ginger leaned forward a bit, a whimper on his lips.

"Good boy." Grimmjow purred, reaching down to unhook his cuffs from his collar, but he didn't remove them. Then he sat back and pulled his tented PJ pants down to expose himself, hard and wanting above a nest of sky blue curls. "Now, that was a pretty good set o' shots I was lookin' at, how d'ya plan on fixin' that, pet?"

"May I suck your cock, Master?" Ichigo practically panted, licking his lips again in anticipation.

The shiver that went down the blunette's spine was obvious as it brought a droplet of precome to the tip of his length like a bead of honey just waiting to be licked off. It took all of his willpower to keep his voice steady and authoritative, "Yes, you may."

Placing his hands on the edge of the chair, the ginger leaned forward to nuzzle his nose against the fabric of his Master's pajamas, breathing in the scent with a noise of appreciation on his exhale. His tongue pressed against the cotton where it rested at the base of Grimmjow's manhood. "Thank you, Master."

As his lips nipped up the side of the hardened flesh, the blunette set his tablet down to grip the arms of the chair, and purred, "You're welcome, Kitten."

Because he hands were bound, he had to use his nose to guide himself to the tip and that fat bubble of nectar waiting for him. Gripping the loose fabric in front of him for balance, he drew his tongue around the head, moaning before taking the whole glans in his mouth with a suck. He hummed in pleasure, drawing out more of the sweet preamble. His eyes fell closed as he began to take the shaft deeper into his mouth.

Above him, Grimmjow's breathing deepened, his own eyes closing to concentrate on the sensations. His pleasure was obvious, not only by the stillness of his body, but the lack of sound he made, not even a purr or a moan, just long, deep breaths in the silence of the apartment.

Ichigo mapped the entire length of his Master's cock, running his tongue along every bump and vein, and sliding his bound hands into the waistband of the pajamas to fondle the blunette's scrotum. To either side of his arms, he felt the twitching of his Master's thigh muscles as a barely audible purr accompanied the next exhale over his head. He sucked deeply in response, taking the glans into the back of his throat, and swallowing around it.

Grimmjow moaned at an almost sub-sonic level, his thighs twitching again, and his hands curling into the cushions of the armrests. Another swallow around his cock and his abs joined in the sporadic twitching as he fought not to buck into the tight, hot, tunnel of his pet's throat. His breathing sped up, and he felt the rush of climax beginning to pull at his senses.

Then Ichigo hummed. It seemed the higher he could make his Master go, the more he wanted it, as his drive to devour the meat in his mouth pushed him further and further towards his goal. One more swallow and the blunette went completely still and silent. There was a beat, a pause of only a moment, where everything seemed to hold its breath. Then all at once, like a dam breaking, he came, pouring semen down his pet's throat, and shuddering in pleasure.

The ginger drank him down, sucking and swallowing as best he could, though a dribble or two escaped down his chin. He moaned around the rapidly softening member in his mouth. All he could taste was Grimmjow. All he could smell was Grimmjow. All he could feel was Grimmjow, and opening his eyes, the only thing that could make the sight of his Master in full climax better were the unconscious noises of his breathing and the pounding of his heart as Ichigo milked the waves of pleasure coursing through the blunette's body.

Finally, the larger man collapsed against the chair, every muscle limp, and he let out a deep, pleasured sigh. "Mmm." He unclenched a stiff hand and flexed it a few times before drawing it through his pet's hair. He smirked, because he already knew the answer, but part of the lesson was in the question, "Did ya come too, Kitten?"

The submissive pulled back, licking his lips very much like a cat after a bowl of cream, and his eyes burned darkly. Again, the answer was obvious, but because his Master asked, he answered anyway, "A good boy doesn't come until he's told to."

"Indeed, he don't. But since ya only lied ta a Nilla, an' ya took yer punishment so well. I think I want m' good boy ta come fer me. Git up here where I c'n reach ya." Grimmjow rumbled, tugging on Ichigo's hair.

Unsteadily, the ginger climbed to his feet, leaning on his hands because of how long he'd been on his knees, and with a deep blush at the way his manhood bobbed proudly in front of him, he climbed into his Master's lap. Every brush or touch or sensation across his skin elicited new shivers from him because of how worked up he was after having been praised so highly on top of everything else.

The blunette waited patiently until his pet was stable and settled before sliding his hands up the creamy thighs draped over his own. With one hand, he drew his thick, work-roughened fingers along the turgid length between Ichigo's legs, and with the other, he reached around to pry the globes of rounded flesh that were the veteran's ass apart to reach his puckered opening.

The submissive gasped, not at all quiet, and his hips bucked, craving more of his Master's touch in both places. Trapped between the well-muscled arm holding one thigh down as that hand stroked him, and the equally well-muscled arm running parallel over his other thigh while he was fingered, all Ichigo could do was squirm a bit as both hands began to move in sync.

"Nyah!" He panted and folded his fingers into the muscles of the blunette's chest, unabashedly grinding against both hands, pleasured whimpers and moans dripping from his lips like rain.

Grimmjow brought the hand he was using to play with his pet's backdoor around to grab a jar of lubricant from the same drawer next to his chair where he'd retrieved the cuffs that matched the collar around Ichigo's neck. Using ample slick on his fingers, he gave no warning as he plunged two of them deep into his pet, stroking heavily with the other hand.

A smirk curled the Master's lips as another wanton moan broke from the ginger's throat. His pet fell forward, pressing his head against the back of the chair, grinding his hips between the two places of stimulation. His toes curled in mimic of what the fingers inside of him did against his prostate. He felt kisses flutter along his neck and he whined, his scrotum drawing up.

Turning his head to mouth the blunette's shoulder, throaty whining noises escaped, quickly turning into breathy squeaks, that had he not had something in his mouth, were the warning sign of a scream upon his climax as he was driven unrelentingly towards the edge of oblivion.

Grimmjow thrust faster and gripped harder, purring in his pet's ear, and nipping at the exposed neck and shoulder. He ordered, deep and more vibration than words, "Come for me, my sweet, good boy."

"Nya~ah~AH!"

Ichigo's attempt at being quiet failed horribly as his body spasmed, orgasm racking his frame, making him grind against his Master harshly. Everything was tense and tight with each pulse, each beat of his heart, as spurts of creamy spunk erupted over the blunette's hand. Just to make the climax more intense, the dominant pressed rhythmically against his pet's prostate, purring darkly in his ear and holding him close.

Coming back down was easy to see because the press of Grimmjow's hand made the ginger jump with each touch to either over-sensitized place as he whimpered and giggled a little, turning to nuzzle into his Master's neck with lips and tongue, nibbling and licking to satisfy his oral fixation.

Gently, the blunette pulled his hands out and away to wipe off with a towel tucked into the side of the chair specifically for situations like this. Vaguely the sounds of a bottle of sanitizing gel reached the submissive's ears, but he wasn't really aware of it until his Master's hand rand through his hair again.

"That's my good boy." Grimmjow purred, cuddling him close.

A post-orgasmic shiver made the tag on his collar jingle, "Thank you, Master, you make me feel all warm and fuzzy and wanted."

The dominant chuckled darkly, gathering his submissive into his arms, before standing and making their way into the bedroom. "Good, because you are wanted, and you make me feel warm and fuzzy and needed."

Chapter Text

 

Blearily he opened his eyes, gave a yawn and stretched. His back twinged, and his leg spasmed, making him curl around himself, gasping in pain. He knew, in the way that all who have been to that place and back, that he was alone, in his own bed, and that it was the middle of the afternoon. It was raining. He could hear the drops against his window across the way, even though he couldn't see them. Running his tongue over his teeth and smacking his lips a few times, he realized this was going to be one of those days.

Master was working, he didn't know where or what, just that he was unavailable for most of the day. But this was a day where he just needed to be taken care of in the ways only Master knew how. Days like this tended to make him surly and waspish, snapping at every little thing. He tried to control it, but Renji would say something, or Ishida would do something and he'd just bark back out of his own frustration at being alone.

Lighting a cigarette, he decided he was hungry, a gnawing sort of feeling that left him craving things he knew they didn't have. So, he pulled on a pair of sweatpants anyway, and left his room in search of something that would fill the void he knew wasn't really hunger.

Chad was on the couch, watching something about the weather. Ishida was in the kitchen—oh lovely. And Renji was on the phone with one or the other of his twins, talking animatedly about money. Yup, simply wonderful day.

Chad met his eyes and they nodded at each other, needing no words. Before meeting Grimmjow, if the big Latino had been at all gay, Ichigo would have dove right for him, but he wasn't. So, the best he could provide was that sense of steadfast nakama. On a day like today, it just wasn't enough.

Skirting Renji as the redhead flung his arm out wildly, the ginger ducked into the kitchen to stare mindlessly into the pantry. Rice, pasta, beans, a couple of boxes of half-finished cereal…absolutely nothing that sparked his interest in a way that would satisfy the craving inside. He sighed, and then his eyes landed on a box of mint tea that was one of the few indulgences he imported to their cabinet. It wasn't supposed to be there. It was supposed to be on top of the refrigerator where he'd put it…again.

"Would you people stop puttin' my tea away?" He muttered, clenching the butt in his teeth as he fixed the problem.

"What?" Ishida looked up from his papers. Apparently it was bill day, because he was doing money figures too—great.

"My tea." Ichigo held up the box, knowing his tone was too sharp, but unable to correct it. "I don't want it in there. I don't want to have to—"

The brunette cut him off, looking back down at his papers dismissively. "Then find a place to put it, because I keep tripping over it."

"No!" He glared, now irritated further by having been interrupted.

"Geez, dude, stop yellin'." Renji entered the kitchen with a raised eyebrow.

Ichigo felt his own twitch and forced himself to take a slow drag on the cancer stick. He hadn't been yelling, he thought. He was painfully aware that he was in one of those moods, and that his tone had been too sharp. How many times did he have to explain that he didn't have any control over it sometimes? He was working on it, and it only happened on days like this.

"What's the big deal about it anyway?" The redhead went on, oblivious to the storm brewing underneath the orange bangs.

The veteran spun on his good heel, looking back into the pantry, "Don't worry 'bout it."

It was loaded, and a very feminine statement to make, but the coil of venom wrapped in his belly told him under no uncertain terms that if he didn't stop talking right then he'd have to find someplace else to live because the others would wind up under his temper with no chance of fixing the situation. But loveable, wonderful Renji, just couldn't take the hint.

"Alright. Fine. It's not like ya can explain anythin' wi'out him 'round anyway."

His whole body twitched, from his chin down his shoulders and through his hip bones. Petulant, insinuating, and demanding. The tone fed the viper inside. It was hissing, writhing, and fighting him. He actually bit his tongue to try and keep it under control, but this had been growing. Ever since the night when he'd been punished for dancing with that Tsukishima guy, Renji had been irritated with his Master. As if the incident had been the blunette's fault rather than Ichigo's. On top of that it wasn't like he had been caned, or whipped. He'd just come home two days later, walking a little funny and covered in bruises.

He'd tried to explain that they were love marks. That the lines around his wrists and ankles were from the cuffs he wore. That the welts were from hot wax. That the marks along his collar line were love bites. And that the scratches on his back were from Grimmjow's nails. But the redhead would have none of it. He was dead set convinced that, in spite of the whole thing having been his idea, Ichigo being abused by this guy.

"That's it isn't it? Ya don't know how ta act wi'out him anymore. He's got ya so wrapped up in this submission thing he has ya do that ya can't think fer yerself anymore." Renji was pushing him. "Ya put that fuckin' collar on an' now yer somebody else. Ya may come back here ta sleep sometimes but every other wakin' moment yer over there, with 'im, doin' God only knows what. An' when ya do come back, yer covered in these!"

He felt Renji grab his wrist where a fading yellowish-green line was all the physical reminder he had of his last scene with his Master. How dare he touch those!? How dare he snub them!? Ichigo had earned those marks. He fought for and earned every wonderfully aching joint! The ginger ripped his hand away.

"Don't." He growled.

"Why not? 'Cause it hurts? 'Cause only he's allowed ta manhandle ya?" The redhead ranted.

Ichigo pulled away and tried to leave the kitchen. He didn't want to do this. Not today. Not when he already felt like he was going to bite someone's head off, but the larger man wouldn't let him.

"No. You need ta talk ta me."

"Renji, let him go." Ishida tried.

The redhead wheeled on their roommate. "No! He keeps avoidin' me. We're s'posed ta be best friends, but ever since he came back from—"

"Don't you dare!" Ichigo snapped, pointing at the other with his cigarette. That was it, it was loose now. "You, of all people, should understand. You, with your crazy hair, and non-traditional career choice, and your twins! Renji, you're fucking twins! How dare you question my lifestyle!?"

"He's hurtin' you!"

"Not as much as you are!"

They were actually yelling now. In each other's face, eyes blazing, fists clenched, and trembling. Ichigo turned away first, trying to get that poisonous snake in his belly under control again by sucking on his cancer stick. But Renji took it as further sign of his sublimation.

"See! Ya can't even look me in th' eye anymore! Yer so 'well-trained' an' such a 'good boy' that ya can't even stand up fer yerself. What happened to th' guy I knew in high school?! Ya'd swing first an' ask questions later! Years ago I'd be on this floor by now an' Ishida would be bitchin' 'bout th' table bein' cracked!" The tattoo artist was ranting again. "But, no! Now ya back off. Now ya run away. Now, yer gonna storm off ta yer room, get dressed an' leave 'stead'a facin' this."

The ginger trembled, rage making his whole body shake. His nails carved crescents into his palms, and his stance shifted to take the weight off of his bad leg. The worst part was Renji was right. He didn't do conflicts anymore, but there was a very good reason he didn't. He just couldn't put it into words that the redhead would understand.

"Yer thinkin' 'bout it right now aren't ya?!" He felt Renji poke his shoulder. "Yer debatin' whether ya c'n get past me, ta yer room an' out th' door b'fore I catch ya." His shoulder was jabbed again.

"So what if I am?" He asked quietly, dangerously.

"Renji…" Ishida tried again.

Cinnamon glared at indigo. "Stay outta this, Ish'da." His accent always got worse when he got upset. "Th' subby boy's gotta remember who he was b'fore that blue-haired fucker came inta his life!"

"This IS who I was before!"

Ichigo tucked his cigarette firmly in his teeth and launched himself at Renji. They landed in a heap on the floor, the ginger straddling his waist, one fist clenched in the ridiculously tie-dyed tee-shirt the redhead wore, the other poised, trembling behind his head—a non-verbal dare the he be pushed further.

"Go on! Do it! Hit me, ya wimp! Or are ya that much of a pansy!?"

The viper snapped and Ichigo's fist flew before he had any conscious control on it. His knuckles met flesh and after the first, came another, and another. Somewhere in the background both Ishida and Chad's voices tried to reach him but he couldn't understand their words for the blood rushing in his ears. He felt a strike across his temple and they rolled, but he kept the momentum going so that his shoulder slammed into the wall. He was back on top. The body under him tried to buck him off, but he locked his knees, the turn in his left leg good for that, if nothing else. Though he'd pay for it later, he knew objectively, as he pounded again into the redhead.

Then came a sound that cut through everything, "ENOUGH, PET!"

The ginger froze, hand halfway to meeting the pulverized jaw, and he looked up into the doorway of the kitchen. Standing with a deep glare on his face was Master, hands in his pockets and fire in his eyes. A chill ran down his spine and he looked away. He should be whipped for this. Caned, at the very least. He deserved it, he knew. He'd lost control. He didn't even have to look at Renji to know he'd broken the redhead's nose, split his lip at least twice and his eyebrow in a couple of places. He felt the beginnings of a black eye and was pretty sure he wouldn't be the only one.

Hunching his shoulders, he climbed slowly to his feet, keeping his eyes on the floor and sucking on the nearly finished cancer stick as Ishida pushed past him with towels and a bottle of antiseptic wash. The pre-med student went straight to work cleaning up Renji's face. There was crunch and a yell of pain that confirmed Ichigo had broken his friend's nose. He flinched as though he had been the one in pain, and bit his lip, his fingers fidgeting and his toes curled.

"Talk." Grimmjow said simply.

"He…he thinks you're abusing me. He won't listen. I…can't explain it the right way to make him understand." Ichigo couldn't look at his Master.

This was why he avoided confrontation anymore. Because he knew he had the strength and knowledge with which to seriously hurt someone. And that coil of temper, that had always been his go to solution growing up, tempted him to use that knowledge in the worst ways.

He just didn't understand why he couldn't make one of his best friends see that he submitted willingly, and that in his submission he found the freedom from not just his worries and the symptoms of his PTSD, but also from the other things he hadn't even realized were weighing on him. That deliberate power exchange took all of the burdens and responsibilities he had and lifted them for a while. It was the outlet he'd always been forced to create within his own mind for most of his life, but now? Now he really did have someone he could give control to, someone he trusted implicitly to use that control to make him feel good, someone he loved more than he had ever loved anyone else.

Today, though, he'd let Renji jeopardize that. Because if he couldn't defend himself among his friends when they didn't understand, what hope did he have of defending himself against the world of Nillas that wouldn't understand? His breath hitched, and his face flushed. His thoughts circled around the idea that Master would take back the training collar, and his chest clenched so hard it hurt.

Outside of him, Renji sat up against the wall, holding a paper towel to his nose where it was still bleeding. Ishida was stitching the split over his eyebrow, with a dark glare, and Chad stood behind Grimmjow in the doorway, also looking at the redhead in disappointment.

"You had to push him. You couldn't just leave him alone?" Ishida tugged the last stitch a little harshly, making the tattoo artist hiss.

"M'sorry. He jus'…I'unno…he's al'ays broody an' mopin' when he ain' here." Renji pointed with his foot.

Grimmjow's frown deepened for a minute, but he didn't say anything. He was watching his pet. All of their hard work seemed to drain out of him. The blunette could watch the gorgeous ginger close himself off, as he unconsciously curled in on himself physically. He'd be lucky if he could get more than one word answers out of him for a week after this if he didn't act quickly. He snorted derisively and groaned internally when his pet flinched.

"You really think Grimmjow's abusing Ichi?" Chad's voice was also slow and deep.

The redhead couldn't look at anyone in the room. "No…I'unno…whad'am I s'posed ta think when he comes home all cover'd in bruises an' welts?"

Cerulean eyes slid over to the beaten up form on the floor, "Have ya done any research at all inta BDSM, Red? I know Kitten asked ya to."

"I haven' gotten 'round ta it." Renji mumbled, thoroughly embarrassed.

"That is your problem then, numbskull!" Ishida stood up abruptly with a scoff. "Your ignorance knows no bounds. How you manage to keep those two entertained with your miniscule intelligence is beyond me." He looked over his shoulder while reaching up to put the first aid kit back above the fridge. "And that, my dear ignoramus, is saying something."

The redhead pouted for a bit, everyone in the room falling silent, though Chad's disapproving presence made the air uncomfortable for the large man on the floor. A small, almost inaudible noise brought Grimmjow's attention back to his pet, and he snorted again.

"I have somethin' I hafta do. Red," He turned to make sure he had the tattoo artist's attention, "I want ya ta hobble yer sorry ass over ta that computer, go ta th' links Kitten gave ya an' not leave it 'til ya've read all uv'em from homepage ta end. Capice?"

For a moment, Renji looked like he wanted to object, like he was going to give back one of his 'yer not the boss'a me' type speeches, but instead he swallowed, pushed himself up from the ground, and nodded. "Yeah. Sure."

"Good. Now, I need some privacy, if ya don't mind." The blunette raised an eyebrow at both Ishida and Chad, not that he really needed to.

The pre-med student was back at his table, his entire attention on his papers again, but he gave a dismissive wave of his hand without looking up. The other simply stepped out of the way, fully aware that the Master and pet needed to be alone, and the best place for that was the ginger's room. With an appreciative nod, Grimmjow turned to walk out of the kitchen.

Taking one of Ichigo's hands, he spoke, a bit more gently. "Come, pet."

The ginger followed behind him, quiet but for the unconscious noise of his breathing, until the bedroom door shut behind him. Then he spoke very softly, not really wanting to ask, but needing to find out without too much preamble.

"Are…are you gonna take my collar back?"

He still couldn't look at the man that was the center of his world. He couldn't see the disappointment, the disgust, he was sure was marring the blunette's handsome features. He didn't want to hear the tone of failure in that sinful voice that commanded his very soul. He knew what was coming, and he physically braced for it, wincing in a way he never did with any other form of reprimand he'd ever received in the almost year they'd been together while stubbing out the butt of his cigarette between his fingers to stick it in his soda can-turned-ashtray.

"Why would I do that?" Grimmjow snorted for a third time, and Ichigo's head whipped up, dumbfounded.

"B-but I just…h-how…wh-what?"

He couldn't wrap his mind around it, and he only vaguely acknowledged that his Master beckoned him over to the bed. Then those amazingly powerful arms were wrapped around him, and he was buried in the heat and scent of his Dominant. He closed his eyes, the tension in his body beginning to drain way by just being in physical contact with the blunette.

"Ya lost yer temper. From what I've been told, ya held out a good bit too. So, what d'ya think ya did that would be so heinous that I'd take back my tag?" The words were vibrations through his skull as he contemplated how long that meant he'd been out of control.

"Because I lashed out. He accused you of beating me into submission. He said that I wasn't myself anymore. He insulted you, lumping you in with those Nilla wannabes who hide in the lifestyle to prey on willing subs for victims. Like what happened to your sister." Ichigo shivered, curling closer to his Master.

Grimmjow gave a growl at the mention of Nel's abuse, but shoved it aside so he could focus on his pet. "So, basically, ya defended me, an' when he wouldn't back down ya broke his nose. Right?" The ginger nodded, and the larger man took it as a sign to continue. "How is any o' that part o' what we talked about as deal breakers a year ago?"

"It's…not?"

"That's right. It's not. Remember our deal breakers, Kitten?" The blunette was running his hand along Ichigo's back now.

"Nothing that breaks the Ten Golden Rules." He was having a hard time concentrating and staying focused with the way his Master was beginning to trigger his body's responses.

The rumbling voice was in his ear now, commanding with absolute control. "Meaning?"

"I am still an adult and you cannot take away my rights, even when I submit to you. Abuse is never part of the equation."

Grimmjow's mouth was on his ear, "Go on."

"We build on what we've done before, starting small and growing as we become closer without expectations that either of us can achieve something beyond our current limits." He shivered, the teeth at his pulse point creating a counter-focus in his mind.

"N-never forget where the door is, and that n-no matter how deep into a scene we are, we can still both use it." His Master's strong hands turned him so that he was facing out into the room, nestled in the blunette's lap.

"Explicitly define everything, so there are no misunderstandings because one of us thinks something means something other than what the other one thinks it Mmmeans." He moaned a bit as Grimmjow kneaded his thigh muscles, pulling his legs apart to dangle on either side of the powerful set below him.

"Keep goin', Kitten. Yer doin' great." Came the rumble into his back from where the words reverberated in the blunette's barrel chest.

"D-define our limits. Training may be used to expand them, but we're both aw-ware of them." One of those strong hands moved up to rub across his lower belly, slow, heavy circles that made his spine melt. It stopped when he didn't continue, and he almost whined, "We are equal. Even in scene, we are equal. You control me because I want you to, and for no other reason."

"Mmm. I like that one, pet. Keeps me rememberin' just how lucky I am ta have ya." The massage started up again, and behind him Grimmjow's breathing was picking up a little.

"Instinct is extremely importa-ah-ant." His hips bucked as both hands dove into his sweat pants to rub the insides of his thighs skin-to-skin. "If a scene feels wrong, or negotiations feel wrong, then use the door, no matter who feels wrong about it. Ah…M-Master…Ngh…"

"Jus' a bit more, pet. C'mon." The larger man encouraged.

"N-no coercion. No ulti-timatums. B-both are signs of abuse." His manhood was pressing against the fabric of his pants now, the gentle touching and working triggering other more physical reactions on top of the mental release his Master provided. His eyes fell closed and he moaned loudly, finishing the list was going to be difficult, no matter how much he wanted to.

"That's eight. Two more."

"Nyah…" The hands stopped, both sets of thick knuckles just brushing the sides of his shaft. He panted harshly, "Ma-make or b-break i-issues al-always break th-the deal, because th-they're ulti-ultimatums. We should b-both use th-the door with n-no hard f-feelings. Mmmm…Master…"

"Ya c'n do it, pet." The lips were on his neck again, but those heavy hands still weren't moving.

"B-BDSM is ab-bout fulfillment…Ngh…" He tried to buck against the tiny sensations, and found that he couldn't. "We w-work t-t'gether ta…ta-t'wards each other's h-happiness…Ah hahng…"

His head pressed back against his Master's shoulder, the blunette's mouth nipping along his trapezius muscles, while thick, strong fingers massaged the sensitive places around his length. He knew objectively that the cerulean eyes peering over his shoulder were darkened with lust, and that coming undone like this drove his Dominant crazy. So, when just those few touches brought a pearl of precome from his tip to wet the light grey of his sweatpants a deeper shade, the growl of approval was expected. Not that the anticipation made the effect it had on his spine any less enjoyable.

"Yer so good, Kitten. Such a good boy fer me. Mmm. Ya make me so proud of ya when ya c'n do stuff like this." Grimmjow murmured against his neck, teeth grazing the skin just this side of painful. "I'm gonna reward ya, cuz ya remembered all that."

Ichigo arched his back, the living cage that was his Master's body the only thing that kept him from falling off the bed, as one of the hands teasing his groin stroked him from base to tip a few times. He gasped, sparks flying through his mind, and he tried to desperately to get more of that delicious friction, but all too soon his Master stopped, returning to only holding him down.

"That's it fer now. Tell me th' rest o' our deal breakers. Help me remember 'em." The blunette ground his own turgid length, trapped as it was by his jeans, against the still cotton covered crack above it as incentive.

"W-we never lie. Even…even when th-the truth is painful. While I'm in…in training I cannot have another D-Dom…and-and you won't take another s-sub." This task was just as hard as the last one, his Dominant's touch keeping him on the brink of pleasure. "I m-may not go out alone for l-longer than it t-takes to get f-from my apartment to…to yours, in c-case I h-have a re-relapse and…and p-panic. All d-decisions m-must be talked about in…in the…oh Gods, Master, please…" Ichigo begged, his hips hitching as the larger man's calloused fingers ran down his legs.

"Yer so close, pet. C'mon. Tell me where we talk." Grimmjow grinned against his pet's shoulder. Teasing was all part of the test.

"In the…the Negotiation Circle!" The last word was a moan as his cock drooled against the inside of his sweatpants. His Master's hands were down between them now, tracing the place where his ass rested against the lap beneath him.

"Last one." The blunette encouraged with an extra squeeze of both hands.

He rolled his head from side to side, panting. "I…I can't…can't remember…"

"Yes ya do. C'mon now. This is th' most important one."

"I don't…I…" His chest heaved and tension made everything tight. His toes curled, his hips ached, his fingers clenched the denim of his Master's jeans, and worst of all the coil of heat in his core burned hotter than ever. "I…I'm…s-s-sor—"

"I love you." Grimmjow rumbled, digging his thumbs into the pressure points between Ichigo's legs.

"Ah! Nya-AH! Ngh! I…ahng!" He couldn't think.

All of the tension escaped him, rushing from him like a damn breaking. His muscles were limp. He was boneless, and numb, so blessedly, wonderfully numb. His chest heaving though, and a keening sound echoed around the room with every breath. The larger man extracted his hands, pulling him around with soothing touches and a purring sort of coo that was half shush and half hum. He felt the cotton beneath his cheek was wet, but was unaware of the tears coursing down his face. They were rocking slightly, but all he could feel was the overwhelming presence of his Master.

How long they stayed like that, the ginger wasn't sure, but he became aware of his surroundings again slowly. First was the scent, deep and masculine with a hint of something fresh like mint or pine. Then came the warmth, radiating from the plane of muscle beneath his cheek and enveloping his torso in a cage of velvet steel. Then the sound, a low, thrumming that was more vibration than actual sound, a tune from the blunette's family, handed down through the generations from the ancient Germanic hills where the Jaeger half of his last name originated. Finally he opened his eyes. Slow, unfocused amber, searching the room and finding himself exactly where he anticipated he'd be: wrapped in the embrace of the one who could take him from his lowest of lows to the highest of his highs and back again to the ever fleeting stability that had been his holy grail until the strong blunette had come into his life.

"Welcome back, Kitten." Master smiled down at him, and a deceptively gentle hand ran through his hair.

It was then he noticed the dried salt on his cheeks, and the washed out, exhausted feeling that always followed one of his emotional outbursts. He had a vague headache, his throat and eyes were sore, his sinuses were still draining, and his back felt like he'd been strapped down for weeks. At times like this he wished he had been, that would have been more relaxing. He yawned and blinked, beginning to subtly stretch out his worn out muscles, and the larger man that was his pillow allowed him to sit all the way up before shifting to his own seated position.

"Need another minute, or are ya ready ta face Red now?"

The question was simple but he couldn't answer. It was often like this. He was drained, raw, and looking back across his sketchy memories, it was like looking at another person controlling his body. Embarrassed, ashamed, and at a loss, he focused his eyes on his hands, picking lightly at the hem of the other's shirt. Truthfully, if he could avoid Renji for the rest of his life, he probably would, but the blunette knew better. His Master would never allow him to slink away, avoiding the coming confrontation. However, he was allowed to delay long enough for the redness in his eyes to fade, for his nose to clear mostly, and for only the faintest physical evidence of his episode to be left. Then Grimmjow sat up further, disturbing his thoughts and drawing his gaze up to the azure stare that swallowed him every time they met. The patience there made him swallow and nod.

"That's my good boy, pet." The blunette's strong, calloused fingers drew through his hair and around his ear again.

They climbed off the bed, and after letting Ichigo change his sweatpants, they left the room. In the living room, Chad was back to watching something on TV, Ishida was reading some magazine about sewing, and Renji was sitting across from the other two at what would have been a dining room table if it wasn't currently occupied by their laptops. The redhead's own was open and the screen was filled with text. He didn't look like he'd moved for however long it had been, but now he had one of Ishida's stabilizing strips across his nose.

As soon as the orangette came into view, he was on his feet, but he turned his attention to Grimmjow. "I'm sorry I disrespected your pet, Sir."

Every face in the place blinked, and the blunette raised an eyebrow. "Really now? Do you understand? Do you realize how you belittle him by carrying your concern too far?"

"Yes." Renji extended his hand, tilted slightly to the side so that the palm was mostly facing up. Though not in a begging position, the request to be forgiven was obvious.

It was a tense moment, where Ichigo's eyes shifted from his friend to his lover and back again, and both of the brunettes on the couch held their breath. Then Grimmjow took the offered apology with a firm, steady handshake that spoke volumes to the redhead about the true level of the stocky man's dominance. The other three in the room released their worries in a collective exhale.

His Master pulled on his best friend's arm to shift his grip on the big redhead so he could throw his arm around the other's shoulders. "Y'know, Red," He began, steering them both towards the kitchen with a grin on his face and a sly glint to his eye, "ya've got th' makin's of a fine sub."

"W-wha-what?!" Renji sputtered while Ichigo laughed behind his hand, Ishida shook his head, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth, and Chad smirked in that quiet way he always had.

"Well, just look at th' way ya took that order I gave ya earlier, an' th' way ya called me 'Sir'…Mmm…almost as good as m'Kitten. Yer lucky." Grimmjow pushed away from the budding tattoo artist at that point to grab a beer from the fridge.

As they were coming back, Ichigo bit his lip, entertained by the fact that Renji trailed behind his Master lost and confused. The 'why' was obvious on his face, but everyone in the apartment could tell Grimmjow had said it specifically to entice the redhead to ask that very question. So, it was equally as obvious that it was the very last thing the normally boisterous male wanted to say, if for no other reason than to prove that the blunette couldn't control him.

Grimmjow flopped onto the second couch, taking a pull on his drink, and opening a space against his side for Ichigo to curl into, which the submissive did immediately. A second drink from the bottle and the Master took pity on the gathered other males, alleviating the anticipation.

"Cuz. It's ag'inst our rules at the moment. 'Til Kitten's outta trainin' we decided he'd be m' only pet." The orangette nodded happily nestled into his Master's embrace, and the blunette smirked again. "We'll see when Kitten outgrows his trainin' collar…maybe it'll fit yer neck, Red."

Though everyone in the room, except Renji, laughed out loud, Ichigo secretly hoped that wouldn't be for a very long time because he knew that being Grimmjow's first pet, he'd be expected to help with his friend's training, and he didn't know if he was up to filling the role of First Boy just yet. His Master apparently could tell where his thoughts were going because as his hand came up to stroke his collar comfortingly, the strong arm around him tightened ever so slightly in an non-verbal message designed to relieve his worries. It worked like a dream…just like it always did.

Chapter Text

Today actually started several weeks ago. He had the date circled in bright red ink on the calendar out in the hall. If any of his roommates asked, he only shook his head and smirked, not answering any of their questions. Well, except one. He talked to Renji about it, but that was different. Renji knew what the code words on the calendar meant now, and the redhead's eyes had widened impossibly when he saw it the first time. He came running to ask if it really meant what he thought it meant and please, please, please could Ichigo explain it again? Of course…that probably stemmed from the tattoo artist's newest accessory. The double sakura flower on the tag was almost as stunning as his own gothic 6. Almost.

In hindsight, having Renji in on his secret was a big help. Because it meant that he could get the equipment he needed without having to let Master know that he was planning something. He couldn't, wouldn't, lie to the blunette, and he was no good at skirting a topic this important to him. So, that meant that his beloved Master simply couldn't be involved in anyway. However, that also meant that Ichigo was up the creek without a paddle when it came to running his errands, because he couldn't go out alone, it was part of their rules. Thus, Renji's help.

Six weeks to get all of the pieces together, five days to re-arrange everyone's schedules so that it was possible, four hours to set everything up at their favorite club, three minutes to settle his incredibly tightly wound nerves with two bottles of his favorite beer, one steadfast, newly collared best friend to help him make it all happen, and there he was, ready to do what he never thought in a million years, he'd ever be able to bring himself to do. And in public no less!

"Is everything ready?" Rukia asked, walking through the door from outside fanning her neck to cool off from the still hot and humid July air.

Jackie answered from across the mostly empty place, "Yeah. Red's puttin' the finishing touches on him now."

"Good, because our guest of honor is on his way." Uryuu pushed his glasses up his nose with a pretentious sort of air that betrayed how nervous the brunette was about everything.

Chad laid a hand on the slender man's shoulder and gave him a small smile before moving off to the bar to converse with Iba about making sure Sajin didn't get out where he could potentially get in the way. The mastiff sized mutt was contained behind the bar on a thick, sturdy leash, but the way he cared for Ichigo could make the orangette's plans go horribly awry if he was loose.

The last of their side of things stepped through the door a moment after his sister, and turned cold steel-grey eyes on the usually boisterous club. They had only a few minutes left. Streamers lined the railings. Balloons crowded the ceiling in a big net that would be released at some point once the dance floor was full of people. Each table sported a bowl of various party-style snacks, and each seat had a small stack of coupons that were specifically for the bar, with the assurance that only certain people would have more than one of those coupons to use. Everyone else only got to cash in one. There were a few gifts piled on their usual table, but nothing over the top, the spotlight wasn't supposed to be on them after all. So, Byakuya gave a curt nod and spoke softly, though his voice carried.

"He's coming."

There was momentary panic as everyone scrambled, in their own fashion and some more frantically than others, to get into position around their table. The pair known collectively as the Twins ducked through a hidden door out of sight into a back room invisible from the entrance. Then the door burst open and the man of the hour stomped in out of the heat with a glare on his face like he wanted to rip someone's throat out with his bare hands, or maybe his teeth? He was looking over his shoulder and scoffed at Nnoi and Z, both of whom just grinned at him.

"The next time ya wanna drag me out on my birthday, Cif, I'm tellin' ya, leave yer woman at home!" He growled.

The man he addressed merely smiled, stepping in behind him, hands in the pockets of his jeans like it wasn't eighty degrees in the shade, with an entirely too-warm, a hand-knitted, garish, orange, green, yellow, and blue scarf seemingly unnoticed around his throat. "My apologies, Jag, I was unaware that she would be so enthusiastic."

"Bullshit." Grimmjow spat, stomping over to the table, while Orihime bit her lip and hung back behind Ulquiorra's shoulder for protection against the fearsome Dominant male. That's when the blunette took in both the level of volume in the place and the decorations. "OH hell the fuck no! I do NOT do birthday parties. Fuck that. Fuck this. Iba, gimme somethin' strong so I c'n fight off th' horde out front tryin' ta claw m' clothes off cuz somebody told 'em it was m' birthday!"

The bartender just grinned and shook his head, the same way the two bouncers had.

"Oh fuckin' hell. Yer in on this shit too!? God fuckin'…when I find out which one o' ya shit-stains came up wi' this idea, I'mma re-arrange yer face so it matches yer ass."

The blunette growled deeply, and sucked his teeth, realizing he wasn't going to get out of it. So, he sat, heavily, on one of the stools at the bar, refusing to sit at their usual table, because that would mean he forgave them for dragging him out on a night when all he really wanted to do was go home, curl up in a ball with his pet, and forget that he was turning another year older. Worse yet, out of all of the group there, the gorgeous orangette wasn't one of them. He vaguely noticed Renji and the Twins were missing too, but really, the pit in his stomach that was warm and full when Ichigo was around, hung dead and cold without him. Not that he let on to this in any real significant way in front of the others, especially with them watching him so closely, but internally, he allowed himself a small sigh of disappointment about his pet's absence before his attention was brought back to the group of tormentors he called his friends the rest of the year.

"If His Majesty is quite finished ranting, I believe we can allow the others to join us now." Uryuu adjusted his glasses again, speaking to Ulquiorra and Iba, who in turn gave the word to Noi and Z to let loose the clamoring masses.

In less than the time it took Orihime to leap from Ulquiorra's car and tackle-hug the birthday boy with her squeal of joy, the club's outer ring was jam packed with bodies. The only portion that had any room to move was the corner that was their usual place, and the dance floor was purposely corded off so that no one could get on it. Someone in the DJ booth was playing decent background music, but nothing anybody could really dance to anyway, so it didn't really matter. There was hum of conversation, punctuated with random strangers all calling out thank you's and happy birthday's to the group of regulars, not really caring who the actual target was since they all got one free drink on the house, and the rest of the night was twenty percent off as long as they didn't order top shelf stuff.

About half an hour into the mingling, Grimmjow turned to Ulquiorra, who was always responsible for the shenanigans that surrounded him on his birthday, and Uryuu, who seemed to know the most about the event, and asked, "So, I get th' party thing, but what's th' big deal wi' th' dancin'? And where's—"

"Hush." His stoic best friend cut him off, taking a sip of some dark amber liquid poured over perfectly square ice cubes.

"It'll be obvious when things really get going." The be-speckled other stoic added, taking a drink of his own concoction, which to Grimmjow's way of thinking was both pansy-assed and wimpy, but to each their own.

In the back room of the club, beyond the DJ booth, and hidden from all of the party-goers, Renji wiped an oil-slick hand across Ichigo's chest. "There. Yer ready."

"I sure hope so." The orangette swallowed heavily, willing his body to not react to his best friend's touch.

From behind him, where his arms were currently being bound in high-quality jute cord, the deep baritone of Byakuya poured over his spine, "You will do fine, pet. Remember your training and present yourself the way you did in rehearsal, and everything will be perfect."

Ichigo nodded, swallowing once more. He'd been preparing for this for months. He hadn't seen his Master privately in almost six weeks, and hadn't touched himself in the entire time. That had taken some doing, but thanks to Renji's new-found submission, Byakuya and Rukia made it easier to coordinate double scenes intended to enhance the redhead's stamina, which meant neither pet was allowed to climax during the entire thing.

Feeling the last of the knots binding his wrists together, the orangette tried not to shift too much. The plug pressing against his prostate did everything it could to override the pain he received from the steel cage around his genitals. Neither could be seen for the black spandex booty shorts that were the only piece of clothing he was allowed to wear, and that was only because if things went well tonight, the only person with the privilege to see what was under those tiny pants was his Master.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and Rukia, mostly off to the side but also behind him, could tell because in the very next second he received a smart across his mostly revealed backside with the crop she carried. He gasped and bit his lip against the pain of arousal, as his length tried to swell within its confines, only to be held back by the unforgiving metal. It made him groan, and he was thankful that neither Grimmjow, nor the Twins, particularly enjoyed enforcing Silence Rules. If he had to hold back on his vocalizations as well as his pleasure and nerves, he thought he might very well explode from all of the stuff bottled up within him. Though, truthfully, the back of his mind continued to remind him that the more he held in, the bigger his release would be when it finally came.

"There. He's ready, Sir, Ma'am." Renji stepped back, and at the same time Ichigo winced as Rukia's riding crop snapped across the back of the redhead's thighs.

The Mistress spoke over his whimper of pain, "You do not get to decide that, pet."

"Of course, Ma'am. I'm sorry, Ma'am." The newer submissive tried desperately to keep the smile out of his voice, but she heard it anyway, causing the crop to strike him a second time.

Really, he was quite the brat. Always speaking out of turn. Being defiant. Acting out. It was amusing to watch him being punished, especially by someone as tiny as Rukia or as dainty looking as Byakuya, though Ichigo knew first hand that both weren't as fragile as they appeared. Broaching the subject of bringing a D/s element into their triangular relationship had been like giving Sajin filet mignon after a few lessons in Dominance. The three of them took to it like fish to water, and as Renji's submissive advisor, Ichigo was quite proud of his best friend's progress, even if he did deliberately get in trouble. That was part of the fun, after all. The orangette supposed that if Renji wasn't punished often enough, he might very well lose interest in it, and that would unbalance the trio's relationship. So, he supposed, it was a very good thing that his fellow submissive really got off on being punished.

Tonight was no different, as the speedo the tattoo artist wore did nothing to hide the way being struck several times with the crop affected him. Especially when he earned two more strikes and a hair pull scolding from Byakuya when he snickered after being told to be quiet because the noise outside the room was beginning to die down. It was almost time!

When the lights dimmed to highlight the dance floor, it put Grimmjow on edge. Simultaneously, Byakuya clipped the first of two large, chain-link leashes to the D-ring on Ichigo's collar. The murmurs of the crowd brought a head to the tension, as the door to the back room opened. Only the heavy sense of something very important going on kept the blunette's tongue still, nursing his third beer as he was. Then the sound of metal scraping heavily against itself cut through the crowd's vocal curiosity, and the birthday boy leaned forward in his seat.

Byakuya and Rukia, each holding the leather handgrip of the two leashes, stepped into the light fully. The male dressed in a sharp, military-style uniform with combats boots so shiny they were reflective and a starched hat tucked under his arm out of reverence for being inside in the presence of a more experienced Top. The woman, too, wore a military style get up, though obviously modeled after the female version of her partner's, and her riding crop was folded up in her armpit much like her brother's cap. They stopped midway across the floor, dead center of the spotlights, and it was obvious that the whatever was on the other end of the leash was being pulled in behind them. This caused another round of mutterings and speculation from the crowd, though those in the know understood, and Those in the Know knew as well, even if they weren't personal friends of the birthday boy and his group.

The click of their boot heels again cut the room to silence, and Byakuya spoke, his dulcet tones carrying through the still air, "Master Grimmjow, we come bearing a gift for your birthday. It seems we have come across something that belongs to you, and it pleaded with us to bring it before you so that it might beg for mercy and forgiveness for being so bold as to approach another Dominant behind your back."

That had the blunette's eyes going wide and he jumped to his feet. There was a beat, a heavy pause, where he was torn and everyone was looking at him expectantly. An instantaneous glance told him that the entire group of his friends had known this was going to happen, and the pit in his stomach that he'd been trying to drown with alcohol flared ever so slightly with hope, before it twisted with nerves. He covered it with a sneer, and stepped around the table to approach the railing though.

"Oh really?" He rumbled, tilting his chin to look down his nose at the pair on the dance floor.

Behind them, Ichigo trembled in the shadows. Was He happy? Was this the right way to go? Oh, Gods, what if He was angry? What if He didn't want to be this public with it? He'd hesitated. The orangette could see that, hear the confusion in His voice, and trace the nerves making the line of His neck taut. He covered it well. He always did. Even that first night when He'd been so terrified that He'd read Ichigo wrong, none of their friends could tell. It hadn't been until much later that the submissive veteran had listened to how tied up in knots his beloved Dominant had been that night, and it had taken an intense Scene that lasted for hours to take them both into the right mindset for Grimmjow to confess such things. The orangette's mind whirled with worry, bright, amber eyes seeking the confident cinnamon of his best friend for comfort as his resolve began to weaken. Just as he was shaking his head at Renji, trying to tell him that he wasn't ready, couldn't do this in front of so many people, the chains that connected to his collar yanked him forward, jostling both the cage around his genitals and the plug within his ass.

He stumbled into the light with a gasping moan-like noise, and there was nothing else he could do but follow through with his plans. The Twins were talking with Grimmjow, but he heard none of it. His blood was rushing in his ears, his heart was pounding, his cock ached something fierce, and the pressure on his shoulders from where his arms were laced together behind his back was almost too much to think clearly. He dared a glance up at the imposing, and mouthwatering sight of his Dominant standing behind the railing, not leaning, hands in his pockets, looking for all the world like he owned the place. The world, rather. Their eyes met, and Ichigo's went wide again.

"Very well, what does the pet want to say?" He watched the words formed on his Master's lips, but the sound didn't hit him right away.

His stomach quivered, and he realized he was being addressed. Another shaky step forward brought him fully into the center of the light, and he was vaguely aware of the other two stepping back. Later, he thought he remembered Rukia giving him an encouraging smile covertly, and Byakuya's hand on his shoulder when they unclipped the leashes that they'd used to present him, but in the moment, there was only the cerulean ocean that were his Master's eyes, drowning him. He swallowed heavily, and the rest of the club disappeared.

Falling to his knees in a way that made many of the people watching wince, especially the ones who knew about his injury, he began to speak, "Master, greetings upon this most joyful of days; the day with which You chose to grace the submissives of the world with Your birth." The steadiness of his voice amazed him, as internally he was a swarm of geese with no coordination, "This boy is nothing but a humble, and ofttimes naughty, pet, who wishes he could serve You far better than he has. He is so terribly grateful for Your presence, and of all the marks he carries, Your tag is the one that makes him most proud."

A murmur ran through the crowd, most were confused, but a few were beginning to get the idea. Smiles began to break out around the room, and Grimmjow had to actually clear his throat for quiet so that Ichigo could continue to speak.

The break in his flow of words caused the nerves to return full force, and behind his back, the veteran gripped the knot between his hands with sweaty palms. He swallowed several times, blinking and trying to get his rhythm back. Oh God, what if He said no?! But those bright, burning blue eyes were boring into his soul, and another swallow found his voice again.

"With that in mind, Master, this boy is begging You to come closer. Take his hair in Your hand and let him promise to serve you always? Please, let him be Yours? Let him place a small, insignificant token upon Your body so that the world will know of his servitude for you?"

Grimmjow's stance changed, though he kept eye contact, because he could sense his pet needed it to endure the act of baring himself to the entire club. A club where he was well-known now for his dancing skills, in spite of his war-scars, and his confident, jovial attitude. If things went badly for the orange-haired submissive, he was opening himself up for any one of a number of Nilla tormentors who could sneak under the security, and threaten him. Deep within the blunette's core, he was amazed. Two short years under his Dominance had turned this one-time anti-social, surly wallflower into an amazingly sexy, confident, ballsy pet. The mere fact that Ichigo was even doing anything remotely like this blew his mind. So when the speech started to change, the corner of his mouth tugged up, warmth flooding the center of his body.

Before he even realized he was doing it, the Master had stepped around the barrier, onto the dance floor and was approaching his pet. The movement stilled the veteran again, and he blinked up several times at his Master, hope and nervousness in his eyes. He chewed on his lip, and the bigger man did reach out to run his strong fingers through the soft umber spikes. There was a heavy moment of silence.

"What exactly are you asking me, pet?" Grimmjow rumbled.

"Master…" Ichigo smiled a tiny bit, "will you marry me?"

Tension built between them, the crowd leaned in unconsciously, and the submissive swallowed convulsively as the Master continued to stroke his hair. When it seemed like the anticipation could get no thicker, Grimmjow opened his mouth in a wide, lecherous grin that only Ichigo was able to read through.

"Pet, there is no fuckin' thing in this world I would love more than to marry you, make you mine permanently, forever and for always. But before that..." His fingers clung a bit tighter to orange strands, not pulling but holding him with absolute firmness, as the club gasped quietly. "…we'll need to address the issue of you approaching not one Dominant other than your rightful Master, but two. Not to mention letting anyone," his eyes glittered in the club lights, darkened to cobalt with a mix of lust and love, "touch you the way I know they had to in order to present you in this manner. I'm afraid wedding plans will have to wait...and so will the celebration," he added to the gathered crowds. "On your feet, boy. Part of your punishment will be waiting exactly as you are on the long ride home."

The cheer around the club did nothing to cover the moaning whine that escaped Ichigo's throat. The tug on his hair was just enough to help him climb to his feet, and doing so drew another wincing groan from his lips as his cock tried to swell and once again found that it couldn't. The skin tight shorts he wore did nothing to hide this fact from his Master. Being this pent up, even the tiny release of being hauled around by his hair was enough to bring tears to the corners of his eyes, and the joy in his chest was so much more than any threat of punishment that could be dished out. He grinned, licking his lips, and wanting to taste Grimmjow's, but knowing better than to ask.

"Yes, Master." He out right moaned, sending the entire club up in cheers for a second time.

Grimmjow licked his own lips in response, not just on instinct but as a deliberate tease. He knew his pet wanted them, but the submissive would be denied that for quite some time.

"That's a boy. Come."

He unlaced his fingers from his hair to hook his first finger in one of the rings the leashes had been clipped to and pulled Ichigo as he turned and began to saunter his way through the club to the door, fully expecting his pet to follow so he didn't actually have to yank the collar and smirking devilishly as the crowd parted before him.

Obedient as always, the shivers running down the orangette's spine were delicious, and made the discomfort of each step that much more torturous for the anticipation of what was to come once they returned to the blunette's high-rise condo.

Behind them, the crowd continued to cheer and throw congratulations, as Ulquiorra stepped onto the floor. He had a microphone borrowed from the DJ, and after the door to the club closed, he tapped it a few times. "Thank you all for your patience tonight, enjoy the rest of your night, and drink responsibly."

He handed it back, and quickly evacuated the open space as the barrier that had been keeping everyone back was taken down and party-goers flooded the center of the club. The music pumped, and after a few moments the balloon net was released, showering the guests with confetti, latex and Mylar that served as a cocktail catalyst for their celebrating. The stoic brunette shook his head with a small smile and rejoined his friends. They were gathered around their usual table, as they had expected this would happen. Either Grimmjow would say yes, and he would take Ichigo back to his place, or he would say no and Byakuya, Rukia and Renji would take Ichigo back home. It went without saying that all gathered were glad it had gone the way it did. Thus, with Renji and company changed into more suitable public clothing, they got down to enjoying their night out, chit-chatting about the things that had happened in their daily lives since the last time they'd all gotten together, and how well the redhead's submissive training was going. It was something of an amusement to the whole group whenever the tattoo artist had to own up to being a brat. So, Jackie and Uryuu especially heckled him about it.

Out in the car, Ichigo squirmed a little, trying to find a position where the plug in his backside wasn't digging directly into his prostate. He was mostly unsuccessful, and tried to look apologetic, though he failed horribly thanks to the combination of joy and pleasure radiating from his chest.

"Am I to keep silent during the ride as well, Master?"

"No, pet," Grimmjow replied smoothly as he drove out of the parking lot and tried not to watch Ichigo squirm out of the corner of his eye. If he took his eyes off the road he might not put them back there, and he rather wanted to get home safe. "I rather enjoy the sounds you make. And since I plan on taking a very particular route home, I definitely expect to hear your reactions, since I cannot endanger our lives by watching you."

The veteran couldn't keep the smile off his face, for all that he tried to look contrite. "Yes. Master."

The first set of potholes, he wrote off, not thinking much of them. The train tracks were no different, though more jarring and had him whimpering after the second set. When the car turned down a street where the paving had been stripped away in anticipation of being re-finished, Ichigo's eyes widened a little and bit his lip. The vibration of the tires along the street shot straight up his spine, and his body pulsed in the pattern of his heartbeat, a semi-false climax that brought him gasping for breath and holding on to his bindings for fear of digging his nails into his skin.

"Ahn...ha..." He panted, eyes closed in that suspended place between pain and pleasure.

Two more sets of potholes and another train track later, he was whimpering with every breath, a light sheen of sweat broke out across his oil-slick skin. But he held out. No tears. At least...until Grimmjow brought them through the historical district, and down the broad, cobblestone thoroughfare that was stylized to look like the entire city had at the turn of the 20th century. He cried out, hunching over as best he could, and by the middle of the street, he broke, a keening sob filling the car. It hurt so much, and he wanted to much more, and the tension of everything, the build-up was just too much and since he couldn't come. He cried. Rivers of tears down his face, as he sucked in breaths that really only made the ride worse. He felt humiliated and abused, like his soul had been wrenched from his body and dry cleaned. It was raw, and primal, and mind-consuming, and he wouldn't trade it for the world.

Grimmjow drove the thoroughfare two more times before deciding his pet had had enough and swinging instead down a second stripped street over one more set of train tracks and a handful of potholes before reaching the driveway to the garage attached to his high rise. And then, because he saw Ichigo in the corner of his eye start to relax in anticipation of the ride ending, he drove into one more pothole he usually avoided in the garage; a fairly dramatic dip over a drain where the pavement had, over the course of many rainstorms, been worn into gravel at the edges. It shuddered and jolted the whole car before he pulled into his parking space and put the car in park so he could finally look over and take in the sight of his pet.

In a word, the orangette was a mess. His eyes were unfocused, his hands gripping reflexively at the knots around his wrists, and at some point he'd fallen onto the floor of the car, so he was on his knees, drenched in sweat and body oil, high on pain. The removal of the stimulus left him practically salivating, and the way he kept working his tongue in his mouth only proved the point further. It was no less than he expected, and far more than he felt he was entitled to receive. His performance in front of the club-goers and their friends had to have really made an impression on his Master. Though, by that point, truly, he wasn't really thinking about anything other than the sensations his entirely over-stimulated and pent up body was giving him.

The blunette smirked as he got out of the car and came around to Ichigo's side, opening it and picking the smaller man up in his arms. Normally, he'd make his naughty pet walk, but seeing as it wasn't unusual to find shattered glass in here he wasn't going to chance it, since he'd taken the veteran as he was—practically nude, with no shoes.

"That had to have been one of the most remarkably pleasant rides I've ever had," he purred darkly as he kicked the door shut and carried his pet over to the door, where with a shifting of weight and some very tricky finger work he got the handle to twist and let them in. Once on carpet, he set Ichigo on his feet and used one hand on the knot between his wrists to hold him steady.

"You are going to walk to the elevator, pet. Anyone who stares is to be ignored- nobody exists in the building except me, am I clear?"

It may have been pushing the envelope a bit, but strutting in their own home building couldn't possibly be worse than presenting himself before the club, so Grimmjow was confident in his demand.

The orangette's head rolled back to give a heated smile, "You're the only one in the world, Master."

Then he stumbled forward. His normally slight limp exaggerated by the extended length of time he'd been on his knees, and it made progress slow. A year ago, it would have been enough to make him cry out their safeword, shattering his headspace and forcing the night into ruins. Six months ago, he'd have had to work at keeping his high, the shame of hobbling too much to bear where people could see him, it was why he still wore baggy jeans, even though he hated the style. Three months ago, he might have paused when the security guard raised his eyebrow at the pair and blushed drunkenly like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar. But tonight? Tonight nothing could interfere. This was the most intense scene they'd ever done. The highest he'd ever been in public, and the most humiliation he'd ever received. Just as the elevator doors opened and they entered the metal box, he giggled.

"Worth it."

Grimmjow's grip on his ties allowed him to both hold Ichigo steady and maneuver him right where he wanted him. And his smile, as he also entered the elevator, was completely predatory. The others were brushed off, and the security guard only got a mirrored raised brow in return.

"Mmm. It'll be even more worth it once I find out exactly what you're hiding under that scrap of cloth that is covering what belongs strictly to me from prying eyes," he rumbled like the engine of his car. "And then, of course, proceed to your next punishment."

"You're gonna like it." The veteran teased. "I bought it just for tonight, and," When they stopped outside the door so the blunette could unlock it, he leaned in so he could whisper, "I haven't masturbated in almost two months."

Truly, the last time he'd actually climaxed had been the last session with Renji where the Twins were learning about shibari and the pressure points that drove the person being tied up the most wild. Orgasm denial was one of the first steps, something that he had been doing to himself before Grimmjow came along, and that lesson was still his favorite. But, orgasm control? Took all of his favorite parts of denial and placed them firmly in his Master's sinful voice. Just the phrase 'come for me' was enough to make him shoot off if he was fully entrenched in the scene. So, two months, without any sort of climax at all? He was going to be like a gunslinger with an itchy trigger finger.

The growl that ripped from his Master's throat was uncontrolled and primal. For several seconds, he struggled with the urge to throw Ichigo against the door and tear those sinful shorts right off him, but the thought of anyone else seeing what belonged to him drove him to finish unlocking the door and pushing it open, holding it as he ordered, "Proceed to the bedroom. Your punishment is not over yet."

Once Ichigo had entered, he shut the door carefully, he needed to breathe and remember to stay in complete control and not descend on his pet like some beast, tempting though it was, and locked it before moving after the mouth-watering submissive.

The orangette was laying on the bed, spread eagle but for the binding holding his arms behind his back, and somehow through sheer determination and willpower, he already had the chains attached to the wall above his side of the bed attached to this collar. When the blunette entered the room, he smiled and bit his lip.

"I'm a bad boy, Master. Will you teach me who I belong to?"

The blunette's Adam's apple bobbed as a second, deeper rumble than the first forced its way out of him and in the low light of the room his eyes seemed to glow.

"That, pet, is EXACTLY what I'm gon' ta do," he murmured darkly as he stalked forward, but not to the bed. To the chest in which he kept his tools and toys. From it he withdrew lube, and a short crop before slinking over to the bed. "And I'm also going to teach you not to let others touch what belongs to your Master. I'm very jealous. I don't like it when other people handle my things."

"The Twins made me play with Renji." The submissive rolled over, his muscles shifting under creamy skin as all he used to perform the move was his core, and he hiked his hips up, knowing that the shorts were soon to be history.

"Even worse," Grimmjow returned, managing to keep his voice calm through a feat of will he wasn't sure he could keep up much longer as he let the crop trail down Ichigo's spine until it reached the top of the shorts. "You allowed yourself to be manhandled by two other Doms. You submitted to their will even if you played with their pet rather than themselves."

With no warning the light touch of the crop was gone and there was the sensation of pressure before the shorts were torn to shreds from fingers curling into both sides and yanking brutally.

The vision the Dominant received could only be described as poetry in flesh. Bound by steel, but accented with sapphires and aquamarine, both cage and plug were carved with an inscription. "For now, forever, for always, Master's little Strawberry Kitten." Tension filled the air, and Ichigo turned his head, his eyes more clear than they had been since before the car ride, watching his Master, his lover, his other half take in the sight.

"Do you like it?" He spoke when the silence became too much, and his tone was anything but submissive, though it was still nervous.

Grimmjow's eyes were soft as he reached out and ran a finger over the gems set into the metal, his other hand on Ichigo's hip. "Yes, Ichi, I do. We will be keeping these," he tapped the plug with a knuckle and a dark chuckle, "in a lovely glass case from which I will only remove it to be used. However, that is in the future and at present we have other things to attend to, pet."

The grin was back, and his amber eyes danced with mischief, "Yes, Master."

The hand that had been resting on his hip abruptly gave his gluteus muscle a firm smack, the flesh immediately turning red as he smirked. "Your punishment is not yet over, boy. Don't forget that."

He picked up the crop, twirling it between his fingers as his free hand guided Ichigo's hips up, bare with only that plug. Perfectly positioned for smacking.

Just to be a brat, quite literally, the orangette wiggled his hips, his toes curling with anticipation of that first, delicious sting. His fingers gripped the knot between his wrists again and he bit his lip, trying to school his features into a more serious expression, but tonight was just going too well for the submissive to really contain it.

Snapsnapsnap!

Three sharp hits came down on him in such quick succession it drew out into one long, exquisite pain that radiated through the whole of the asscheek that was not already warm from the mark of his hand, and two more were quickly laid upon the backs of his thighs.

"Naughty tonight, aren't we, pet?"

He jumped, eyes closing for the fraction of a second before the burn began, and he moaned, "Yes, Master. Very naughty."

"Naughty boys are punished. Though this lovely cage is doing a marvelous job," the crop trailed around to his front, just barely brushing the swollen, overworked, sensitive flesh between the bars before whipping back to his ass and laying another series of marks, this time a set of ten. Five to each cheek.

"Nngah." It took all of his willpower to hold still, and his shoulders quivered, even as his breath began to pick up.

Grimmjow paused again with the crop, once more running his fingers over the plug. Examining it. And then giving it a thrust, just to watch Ichigo twitch and buck before laying another six swats on him, always keeping the number and placement inconsistent.

He cried out again, pulsing in the cage, and that more than the welts forming on his behind, brought the first of what promised to be just as powerful a round of tears as the first set. The elusive ethereal realm of subspace beckoned to him, promising all the release in the world, just as soon as his Master told him he could. The thought forced another whine from his mouth and his knuckles whitened in his grip.

The Dominant man drew him closer and closer to those mists of pleasure, alternating lashes of the crop with gentle and pleasurable touches. Always alternating. Keeping it unpredictable so the veteran couldn't escape it.

Higher and higher and then higher still. Stars in his eyes, blood rushing in his ears, and yet the outline of his Master's form was in stark clarity to the distortion of the world around him. His hearing straining for those minute sounds: the whoosh of air before the snap of leather on flesh, and the hidden, barely audible deep breaths that told him the pain he felt gave his Master the pleasure that no other thing ever could. It drove him wild, left him pleading, begging, crying for more. The veil growing thinner and thinner, though he couldn't cum, couldn't even get fully hard no matter how much his body wanted to, because of the cage. Unrelenting steel as steadfast as the variations in the way his Master wound up his body.

Grimmjow was unsure how much time had passed when he once more tucked the crop under his arm and used his fingers curled under his pet's chin to tilt his head up, meeting those beautiful, shining brown eyes, dilated almost to pure black, and let his voice, rusty with lust, grace Ichigo's ears again.

"You have taken your punishment very well, pet, and this has pleased me. I am going to undo the cage, but you are not allowed to come yet. Do you understand?"

If the pet was too far gone, he wouldn't be able to obey the order. And considering how intense, and how long, the scene had been, that was entirely possible.

The orangette's eyes crossed. He took a deep breath of the intense scent that was defined only as 'Master' in his mind. His tongue darted out to lick his lips and clear some of the salt from them. His hands twitched, and his muscles shivered. Then he blinked, the gears working to break through the haze so he could be good. He wanted to be good. Tonight was important. Because if he was good tonight, it would prove he could serve Master for the rest of his life, just like he promised.

So, it started with a nod, and after a few more swipes of his tongue, blinks of his eyes, he spoke, hoarse and breathy, "Y-yes, Master."

"Good boy." The blunette purred, very softly, and bent down enough to finally reward his pet with a kiss.

It was light, and didn't last very long. But it was still a reward. His fingers then moved down, to the cage, and slid along the metal, looking for and finding the mechanism that kept it tightly shut and undoing it.

The second he was free, Ichigo gasped and fell forward, his control pulling at his fingertips like a raging feral cat. His flesh pulsed, blood that had been trying so terribly, desperately, to fill his manhood rushed through his body, and the combination brought another voice breaking sob from his tortured throat. He spread his legs further, breathing through clenched teeth, murmuring almost under his breath, "I'll be good. I'll be good. I'll be good." Like a mantra.

Grimmjow let him collect himself as he set the cage aside. He did not touch, he was certain if he did Ichigo would be unable to hold back. When the panting stopped being quite so violent, he reminded, "You may not come," before taking the plug in hand and gently pulling that from his body as well.

Again control tried to flee. His hands became talons in a physical attempt to grasp what his mind could feel fighting, twisting, straining to escape. Everything leaked. Tears, drool, pre-ejaculate, and lubricant, but somehow, through the abuse and neglect, beyond the restraint and the denial, Ichigo grasped a single word, "Yes." Over and over and over, it echoed in deep, rumbling tones, like the growl of a wild jungle cat, ringing through his mind as a constant reminder of what all of this was for. And that kept his discolored, and quivering flesh from doing anything more than cry for release.

Again his Master waited, much longer this time. When his trembling became relatively less, the Dominant pulled the fingers of one hand through the veteran's hair, as the other released most of the bindings on his arms, leaving only his wrists bound with a fairly long piece of rope between them.

"My good boy. Now wait."

The blunette used only the lightest of touches, guiding his abused body into a more comfortable position, helping him bring his wrists back around to the front, and trying to coax him back from that edge just enough to complete the scene. Though to be honest, if Ichigo lost control, Grimmjow wouldn't, couldn't, fault him for it.

He was so close, and it had been so long. All the orangette could do was pant, holding himself up on exhausted muscles and bodily fluids plastered his bangs to his face such that they covered his forehead with a single opening for his eye to roll back so he could catch his Master's gaze. Deep within himself, he had begun to be able to compartmentalize what was happening, and he knew he had to finish. They'd come too far, and done too much for him to lose it now. So, with some reserve of strength that only his Master could pull out of him, he curled his abs, tucking his knees and elbows under him to force himself into a kneeling position on the bed, though he hissed through tightly clenched teeth when the tip of his cock brushed the soft Egyptian cotton.

He turned to look over his shoulder, his face drawn and exhausted, but fire in his eyes. The kind that only shone at this stage of the scene. He was at the edge and had blown past it, pushing into places he'd never before even imagined existing, let alone thinking about being there himself. This was what had gotten him out of his room, had broken his shell, had replaced his confidence, and tamed his temper. He was used, and his body was at the limits of its endurance, but he felt good! And written in that burning, amber and sienna stare, was the message that only his perfect Dominant, his Master, Grimmjow, could take him there.

The Dominant's smile curled into a wicked grin. "That's it," he murmured as he shed his clothes in record time and flipped open the lube. "That's my boy. Right there. It's time to give you your final reward, pet."

Ready, he slid up the bed on his knees, big hands spanning his waist as he slipped inside like a key into a lock. Ichigo was just made for him.

The chain on his collar jingled melodically against the bright silver tag that glinted in the light of the bedroom, the ebony 6 standing out in sharp relief as he bent his head back to rest on the blunette's shoulder and a moan of pure contentment blossomed between his lips. Turning his face just a fraction meant he could move his mouth against the corner of his Master's jaw, and he threaded his fingers in the blue spikes, using the cord between his wrists to help him hook his trembling arms around Grimmjow's neck. This would be slow and sensual, so that neither one of them lost control. The Master taking his pleasure, and the pet holding back until he had.

The larger man was tempted to close his eyes, but couldn't bear to cut off the vision his pet made as he started to move, slowly and softly. He didn't thrust so much as he rocked, mouthing at Ichigo's neck and nipping lightly with his canines as his hands held onto slim hips to keep them both steady. He could feel those strong thighs twitching and kneaded at them as he ran his lips over the shell of an ear.

Though the sounds the orangette made were a far cry from what he'd been making all night, Ichigo couldn't, and didn't, stop the rise and fall of noise coming from his center with every touch. His skin was on fire, the welts on his back, thighs and ass pinpoint sparks amid the smoldering caress of calloused fingers across his stomach and legs. Where his Master left saliva and breathed created a counter-melody of cold to all the heat, and in the rhythm, his body followed it seamlessly. He had and was giving everything over to the larger man, and that brought a brand new coil of pleasure building slow and creeping through his veins like a python in the Amazon.

Grimmjow expertly pleased his body, fingers rubbing over his nipples, his collarbone, everywhere but his cock as his Master's own breathing started to shorten. The blunette had been hard and wanting since the club, by then he was just about shot. And Ichigo was almost ready to fly. He switched sides and nosed up right underneath the collar with another nip and a kiss.

By the time he registered the change in breathing behind him, the veteran was whimpering and moaning on every exhale, his length, almost purple from need, drooled in front of them both, begging to be touched. He turned his nose into his Master's cheek and mumbled, "M-Master...Ngh...p-please...j-just...Mmm...need-dngh...so-oh...Mmmore...t-t-ta-ah..."

The other smiled into Ichigo's shoulder, and bit down on the submissive's earlobe. With a sharp rock of his hips, he speared his length into the body before him with deadly aim directly into the lithe man's prostate, and purred, "Be a good boy an' come fer Master."

Come? First? What? It was electricity shot from his toes to his crown to his dick. "OH! MASTER!" He cried out and risked further punishment by gripping Grimmjow's hair for balance as wave after wave pure pleasure coursed through his body. His muscles clenched and his eyes fell shut, even as his mouth hung open and jets of hot spunk shot, rocket-like, high enough to hit his own chest. Two months was a very long time to wait according to his balls, and they made up for it by spasming until he felt like he was drained completely. Then, he breathed again, the final cry of the night. Pleasure so hot and so high and so much that it broke everything that was left, creating a seamless, puddle of submissive goo. Tears running down his cheeks, though quiet and precious this time, draining away the last of his tension. He was vaguely aware of his Master behind him, but very quickly he was fading. Subspace called and he no longer had the willpower to resist.

Grimmjow reached his completion while riding out the waves of Ichigo's, and he forgave the hair-pulling because from the angle his lithe body had hit, it was the only way to stay upright. He was left with a double-armful of shuddering pet, whom he eased out of and laid down on his back before undoing the wrist ties, unclipping the chains, and kissed the sweat drenched forehead as he started on aftercare. The toys were set off to the side in a plastic bin specifically placed for such objects that needed to be washed, and he picked Ichigo up to carry him to the bath, where he massaged the blood back into his hands, cleaned him, and set him to rights again while in Grimmjow's lap, murmuring to him all the while.

Just like it had before, returning started with the scent, masculine and clean, and he knew he was safe, utterly, completely, totally safe. Then the warmth and the water, fresh and soothing against his welts and bruises, the oversensitive, secret places. Next the sound, humming and rumbling around and inside him, the only voice he ever wanted to wake up to. And finally, he looked up, tracing the strong profile of his Master...no, the scene was over, not just his Master, his fiancé. Trembling and hesitant, his hand shook as he brought it up to touch the faintly stubbled cheek above him. In the vulnerable state of post-scene, he felt the sting of tears that couldn't come. He'd shed all that his body could and more, so his breath hitched and he made a small, squeak-like noise.

"You said yes." Like he didn't quite believe it.

The blunette's eyes crinkled in the corners as he smiled down at him and laughed. "Did you really think I would be stupid enough to say no?"

"Well, I..." Ichigo blushed and shifted, wincing a little. "No. Just...you always told me that you didn't take forever pets. So...maybe I was nervous." He looked up again, saw the look of disbelief, and cringed with a grin, "Ok, fine! I was terrified. You mean so much to me, I just wanna show you that."

His Master snorted. "The key word there, Kitten, is 'didn't'. You're special. You're different. You are the first pet I want to have, to keep, to love and to hold forever," he purred as he sank a bit lower in the water, the soft sound of it swirling against the sides of the tub ringing in his ears as he stroked one hand down the veteran's chest.

"Mmm." The orangette's eyes drifted closed again, "If you hadn't just used me to the point of muscle failure words like that might just be enough to start something. You know that right?"

"Oh I'm aware. Since I'll be saying them again on the wedding day, I'm expecting one hell of a honeymoon, Kitten." Grimmjow's teeth flashed in another of those predatory smiles.

"Just as long as I don't have to walk anywhere the next day...or five." Ichigo snickered, and shifted again, with another wince. "Or sit."

"Worth it," His taunt from the elevator was repeated back to him as his Master made one more pass with the soap. "But whatever body oil Red used, I don't think I like it. Sure, makes you look sexy, but this is hell to try and get off. Those sheets are probably scrap rags by now."

"Ugh! I was so wrapped up in everything I didn't see which one he grabbed." The ginger looked down at his chest and ran a hand through the smears, which were by now discolored and white against his skin. "I'mma kill him. No...I'mma tell the Twins he used the wrong one. No, wait, he'd like that too much. Ugh! I don't know how he can serve two of them!? I have enough trouble surviving you when you get like this. I can't imagine two of you. The last two months have been Hell preparing for this by the way, so I hope you liked it as much as I did."

"I may have damn well liked it better than you did. You weren't the only one who hasn't touched himself in months. And I'll tell the Twins. They can sort it out. Might take away all the oils, since he can't seem to keep them straight." The blunette kissed the side of his neck and soaped the smears that clung stubbornly, using a cloth to gently scrub sensitive skin.

"Eeh..." The submissive was caught between wincing and laughing, "I think my bruises have bruises, you beast."

"You're the one who wants to marry me," Grimmjow returned with a little nip.

"I think that's cuz I'm the idiot who fell in love with the beast." Ichigo laughed, and then sighed. "I think...I wanna have another negotiation before our wedding...I...I think I wanna go to school." Even though it hurt and stung, Ichigo shifted enough so that he could look at his fiancé better. "I think I'm finally ready to face people I don't know. I joined the military not just for the Dominance, but so I could explore the world. Since I got back, I've been trapped in this stationary bubble. You...you showed me how to take it with me, and you've given me a place I can always come home to. A safe place where I'm not locking myself away from the world, but at the same time, I can take a step back when things get too rough out there. I mean, I haven't had a panic attack in almost eight months. I can't say I'm one hundred percent better, but...I think I'm ready for the next step, and...that's what I wanna marry you. You make me stronger."

His Master, for all he was a big badass, melted into a happy puddle of man in the tub, eyes sparkling. "That's great, Kitten! I'm so proud." And he was, he really was. His pet was getting better. In the head. In the heart. Something he'd vaguely hope for but put aside in favor of focusing on the now. "That's a negotiation I'll be happy to have, pet."

"Can...um...can I kiss you?" Mushy, happy, fluffy, and fuzzy, and all of those other candy-coated, commercial feelings brought color to this cheeks, as Ichigo brought his fingers together, feeling an awful lot like a schoolboy with a crush.

"Yes, you may." The larger man chuckled and pulled his pet a little higher on his chest so he could reach him better, fully aware that he wouldn't be able to do so on his own.

He wrapped his arms around the blue haired man's neck, effectively using the stronger, broader frame to give him the support to pull himself up since his legs were little more than jelly at that moment. Then, in the boldest move he'd ever made on his Master, he sealed their lips together, drawing on and pouring more emotion into the kiss than he ever had before. He turned and shifted, just a bit more, so he was sitting in his fiancé's lap, and moaned, threading his fingers through the sky-colored wet spikes for the second time that night. One kiss wasn't enough, and though he had to stop to breathe, he came back for more several times before leaning his forehead against Grimmjow's panting.

His Master indulged him each and every kiss, and when they finished he too was panting, and his eyes flashed open, the brightest, most beautiful multi-hued blue that ever existed as his hands gently kneaded the small of his pet's back. He stared into Ichigo's sepia ones with the same grin that hadn't left his face since the ginger had returned from subspace.

"You've learned well."

"I had the best teacher." The veteran mimicked him, and hummed a sigh of contentment. "I think I'm getting pruny. I can't really tell, most of my lower half doesn't exist."

Grimmjow's response was a completely inelegant huffing snort of candid amusement. "Ah, then we'd best get you out and see if we can't somehow conjure that missing half of you back. I'm sure it'll turn up by morning."

"Yes, aching and sore and wonderfully stiff!" In the theme of amusement and over the top reactions, Ichigo laughed outright, settling once again against his fiancé's chest like it was made for him.

An actual snorted this time, in the back of his throat as the Dominant rose from the bath, smaller male in his arms, and grabbed up a towel to dry him with. "Of course. I'll have the warming lotion waiting so we can massage some life back into you come morning."

The ginger was quiet for most of it, obviously contemplating something. By the time they'd made it back to the bedroom, where he found the sheets had been changed and the toys put aside to be washed, he seemed ready to talk about whatever it was, though he was derailed for a moment by the reality of just how long he'd been in subspace.

With a tender smile, he shook his head, "Remember back when I attacked Renji? That first time, when you barked at him and he didn't know anything about any of this?"

His Master chuckled a bit. "Oh of course I do. We reaffirmed our relationship, our boundaries...I love that memory. Not to mention Red going all sexy and 'Sir'-ing me...which if I recall led to yet more fun that you and I thoroughly enjoyed."

"Well, that part, too." Ichigo smiled again, snuggling down into the pillows. "But back then, through the whole thing...I just wished he could know what this was like. I wish I could share this. This moment with the world." He scoffed, "I know, I know. I sound sub-drunk, but I mean it. Nothing feels better than coming out of subspace and just being with the person who put you there. I always feel more alive right now than I do at any other moment, and whenever I have to deal with some closed-minded Nilla all I can really think about is 'if they could just feel what I feel they wouldn't say the things they say'. You know? They wouldn't...wouldn't do the things they do. They'd understand." He looked down at the blankets, picking at a loose stitch. "It's stupid, you know? To think that there's all this hate over something that brings so much love."

In the middle of that, his voice started to thicken, and he'd stopped looking at Grimmjow, preferring to watch his hands. Something had happened. He hadn't said what yet, but it had. It upset him deeply, deeper than the altercation with Renji, deep enough to chase away the good feeling and warm afterglow to put a crease between his eyebrows and a distance in his eyes. No wonder he'd waited until now to bring it up, whatever it was. He obviously had to be still vulnerable enough to talk about it, but have recovered enough of his inner strength to get through what was turning out to be extremely difficult for him to say.

Neither insisting nor dismissing, not prodding nor ignoring. Simply offering his strength, the blunette held his lover closer and kissed his forehead, then his temple, wordlessly encouraging him. This was one place where limits could not be pushed unless Ichigo was doing it.

"I...uh...talked to my dad. A couple days ago." The veteran leaned into his lover's touch, drawing on the Dominant's strength, "He was psyched. Really excited about you saying yes and everything. Told me," He broke off in the sort of laugh that people make to stave off tears. "Told me he'd get a diamond studded collar for me to wear at the ceremony. Then he did what he always does, shouting and carrying on like he's crazy. Praising my mom and stuff. I think he dropped the phone, cuz Karin picked it up. She tried to wish me luck but Goat Face was too loud. Then she was yelling at him. I think she hit him but I'm not sure, she'd set the phone down before that part. And for a bit I thought maybe that it had been disconnected, cuz you know how they forget to hang it up sometimes. But..." He sucked in a breath and bit his lip, "I...heard...Yuzu. Talking. I don't think she knows the phone was connected, because...the stuff she said. I mean, I know Hanataro's a great guy and they're happy, and Kon's getting so big last time I saw him, but..." He trailed off, fists wrapped in the blanket. "She hates me. Hates you. Hates the BDSM stuff. Hates that we're gay. Hates everything about it. Hanataro tried to make her think about it, but she slammed something, like a spoon or something. Said she...she didn't want...a 'perverted and obscene, fudge packing, faggoty, freak' around her son."

Grimmjow was...honestly...stunned. Yuzu? Kind, generous, sweet Yuzu? Well, obviously she wasn't any of those if she'd been talking like that. Not to anyone who didn't fit her worldview. His teeth clenched and muscles in his jaw jumped as he swallowed and tried to formulate his thoughts.

"She's...I never thought she'd feel that way. Much less say it," he said softly, holding his pet closer. "When we visted, she never...acted like she hated us."

"I know! That's why it...I just...How am I supposed to look her in the eye now? She can't possibly know I was listening, could she? I mean, I hung up the phone right after she said that so I have no idea what happened after, but...what do we do?" Scared, hurt, and lost, Ichigo looked up at his Master, needing the visual reminder of the strength they had together.

He pulled his fingers through orange hair with a deep, deep frown. "I...I don't know. She's not my sister. If she were, I would take the fight to her, confront her on her own turf and challenge her, call her out, but...that would be my sister. She's not my sister, she's yours. Do you think it would do you or anyone else any good to confront her?"

He nuzzled into him. Yuzu, of all people!

"Your sister would kick your ass and then make you Dominate her." The orangette snickered. "You're so lucky you grew up in the lifestyle. I can't imagine what that must have been like knowing that your mom and dad were like you and me. If I was ever interested in having a woman Dominate me, Mistress Halibel would be my first choice."

"Yeah. Mom knows what the fuck she's doing alright. That's why Nel could kick my ass. Which is why a confrontation would work so well. Because Mom's a Dominant, she gives Nelly the confidence to be completely comfortable fighting it out." He shook his head fondly- he did love his sister and the rest of his nutjob family.

The submissive laughed for a little while longer, before tucking his head under the blunette's chin, "Am I good enough for them?" He froze, "They aren't gonna test me, are they?! I mean it was one thing meeting them and stuff as your boyfriend and pet, but...am I good enough for her to be okay with me being yours forever?"

"I'mma big boy and I get to make my own big boy decisions like who I'm gonna marry," Grimmjow replied with a roll of his eyes. "And no, they're not gonna test you. Probably offer to scene with you just to see how you react, but not test you. Tease, yes. They are gonna tease the living hell out of us both."

"Teasing is definitely something I can handle. Have you met my dad?" Ichigo giggled, then froze again, the color draining from his face. "Oh god! They have to meet before the wedding...your mom...my dad...I'm not sure which would be worse, her pushing at him because he teased her, or him submitting to her." He gave a small shiver.

"But then my dad would get jealous and I have no idea who would top between my pops and yours," Grimmjow added and then shuddered, realizing what he'd just said. "...dear God. We may have to declare a Nilla Zone for that meeting or some shit. That is one fucking scary thought."

"And now you know where my buzz went." The veteran groaned, and yawned, snuggling himself closer. He reached over to the nightstand where a glass of water and two pain pills were waiting for him to actually take them. Doing so, he yawned again. "I don't wanna talk about family anymore right now. Unless we're talking about our family, you and me. Because I'm still not sure I fully believe that this isn't some dream I'm having in one of those comfy rooms with the pillows on the walls and the jackets that make you hug yourself."

The blunette reached behind his shoulder and flicked him. "Don't be ridiculous. You could never dream up anybody as crazy as I am, much less the rest of my insane family."

"Ow." Was said in a way that meant it didn't hurt at all, and the submissive scoffed, "Who knows, I'm pretty crazy after all. Certified by the government no less."

The grin sent his way was positively demonic. "Mhmmm. An' I love ya just the same."

"I love you too." He reached up and stole another kiss, "Happy birthday, Master."

Grimmjow made the kiss linger for several moments before parting. "Best fuckin' birthday ever, kitten."

Chapter Text

"Tell me what's going on, or I'm gonna walk out that door!"

Ichigo knew the second the words left his mouth they weren't what he was actually trying to say. It sort of echoed in his ears, the way being at the bottom of an auditorium reverberated, and his chest constricted. His mouth felt dry, and his mind raced, trying to figure out how to take it back. To re-word it. To explain!

Sitting at the table across from Ichigo, icy blue eyes had darkened and without a single word, Grimmjow rose and took a rattling bottle out of the cabinet nearest the sink. He set it down with an ominous thunk in front of his partner and submissive.

"Tha's it. This stops until ya've taken yer ativan an' it's kicked in," he said, voice calm but tone indicating he would take absolutely no argument.

And like the clatter was the pop of a cork, the words started cramming themselves into his mouth, "That wasn't-- I didn't mean to imply-- It isn't the way it-- Master! Please! I can explain!!"

He was near tears, the burning in his eyes that meant he was almost broken completely. Normally it was a welcome feeling, the release of that final measure of control into the hands of the man he'd pledged his life to. But not this time. This time it felt like the kind of finality that comes after a death. Like the slipping of fabric through his fingers, and all the scrabbling in the world wasn't going to help him keep his grip.

His hands shook uncontrollably.

"No, Ichigo," Grimmjow popped open the bottle's cap with one thumb. "I'm callin' Blue."

Before Ichigo could respond, physically or verbally, the older man had taken the two steps to the cabinet for a glass and started filling it with water at the sink. "Take two," he added, voice firm but not quite an order.

The weight of the world crashed over the redhead like an icy waterfall, especially down his spine, and frozen twisting at his solar plexus. His knees felt like they couldn't hold him to cross the distance. Further he felt rooted to the floor, like any move he made would put him through it like Alice and her looking glass. And towards his beloved anchor... well... it would have been easier to move the sun, or traverse a black hole, than break through the wall between them.

Near sobbing, Ichigo keened. "I can't.........."

"Ya can," Grimmjow reassured him, bringing the full glass to rest next to the bottle and taking Ichigo's elbow to nudge him toward the chair. There was only the most minute tremble in his hands as he made efforts to take calm, steady breaths. "An' ya must, ta keep this conversation goin'. Sit down, take yer ativan, let it kick in an' breathe," he walked him through the steps.

It took more effort than he liked to keep his tone even, to keep his gaze on his lover steady. He knew Ichigo wasn't okay, he was as far from okay as subs could get almost, but there were rules and protocols in place for this for a reason. And he had to hold true to their agreement, to their protocols, or he'd be failing in his responsibilities to Ichigo, to the dynamic, and to himself.

Reminding himself was the only way he didn't slip into ordering Ichigo to do what he needed. He couldn't let himself break their rules any more than Ichigo could be allowed to. It was why he'd called Blue, why he'd had to, even knowing what it would do to Ichigo to have his Dom call the emotional safeword on him.

Pliable as ever to his Master's touch, the submissive veteran sank into the chair, and reached for the bottle. Holding his breath didn't stop the trembling, but it didn't not stop it either. So his next inhale was a gasp as he tried, in vain, to shake two of the tiny white pills from the bottle without spilling the rest. If he spilled the rest, it would be a mess all over the floor, and he would likely miss a couple, and he wouldn't have enough to last to the end of the month, and it wasn't like his insurance allowed him to get his refills sooner. So if he couldn't even perform this simple task, well... then what good was he at all? He was just better off being left alone, where he couldn't mess up anybody else's life, or drain their finances. Where he wasn't a burden on them, on Him! Because that's what it boiled down to wasn't it. Ichigo was nothing but a burden on HIM! Too broken, too caught up in his own issues, pushing too hard, asking for too much.

He couldn't do it... the bottle wouldn't hold still long enough, and the faint rattle of the pills inside could be heard over his ragged breathing.

Grimmjow steadied his hands in his own. "Set-- set it down," he said gently, hating how much this was hurting his beloved. He took the whole bottle out of Ichigo's hands and shook out two of the pills, taking the moment to cap the bottle again before pulling the glass closer. This wasn't overstepping boundaries, it wasn't breaking protocol- it was ensuring the rules were followed by whatever means were necessary to take care of his pet.

"All you gotta do is open yer mouth, Ichi," Grimm told him, holding the pills in two fingers carefully. "I'll pop 'em in, an' hold up the water fer ya ta take 'em. But ya gotta breathe fer me, baby. I know yer doin' yer best, but breathe. I need ya conscious an' alive."

The affirmation came out more as a whine than a word, but he opened his mouth, and drank steadily from the glass to take the medication. Tears still poured down his cheeks, and as soon as he'd swallowed completely, he wasn't able to breathe evenly for the thoughts running around his head.  But he did do as he was told. And he tried to breathe. He felt himself forcing the breaths out, but he was still stuttering, still shaking.

Grimm was going to leave him for this. He just knew it.

"Come." He put the glass aside and manhandled him again, taking him  by the elbow and pulling him up until he could settle him onto the couch proper, with his legs comfortably tucked up instead of trying to sit straight, like he knew Ichigo did when he was nervous, using the pain in his leg like a self-punishment.

"Keep breathin', love," he said quietly as he stroked Ichigo's hair, down his back, over his legs, running his hands over his beloved's bare skin in ever-changing patterns to keep him connected. It took forty-five minutes for the medication to kick in, and it was going to be an agony.

He should have told Ichigo about this months ago, his guilt snarled. He could have prevented this by telling him everything instead of trying to protect him, trying not to get his hopes up. He should have been more open. He should have been doing more. He should have anticipated this when Ichigo started going back to school and his time was divided in yet more ways. He should have had a plan in place!

And nothing, not his soft murmuring of encouragement to Ichigo, or concentrating on dabbing his tears with a tissue, or fetching a blanket when he started to shiver, could keep those tangled, guilty, self-blaming thoughts from circling around and around inside his head, making his shoulders tense and his jaw tight even as he tended to the love of his life.

"I'm sorry..." Ichigo mumbled for probably the hundredth time, though this was more clear, and the tears had stopped some ten minutes ago. "I didn't mean..."

"I know ya din't, pet," the blunette reassured him. "I know. But it meant ya weren't stable enough ta have a clear meta talk. When ya can't artic'late right, ya can't negotiate right either. I know. Tha's wha' 'blue' is for," he reminded him. "Sayin' whatcha don't mean ain't 'sane'."

"I h-hurt you though..." He hiccuped, reaching a steadier, but hesitant hand towards Grimm's face.

He became aware that he was laying down on the couch, covered in the super thick, hand-crocheted, blanket that was almost the same color as his Master's hair. The yarn itself was as thick around as his thumb, and the sheer weight of it kept him from feeling like he was floating away. And in the same fashion, he realized Grimmjow was sitting on the floor in front of him, and the lights were dimmed so as to not be too bright to his tired eyes. There was music playing softly, just as background.

Fresh tears welled up, fat and soft, "I love you so much..."

He reached up and took Ichigo's wonderful face in both his hands. "I love ya too, baby, so, so much. An' it din't hurt me, love. I know it's not wha' ya meant- I know it ain't an ultimatum th'way it sounded. Bu' I also knew it'd hurt you when ya said it. I saw it on yer face, in yer eyes. S'why I called Blue then, b'cause ya knew you had done somethin' ta hurt me an' yerself, bu' ya couldn't stop yerself from sayin' it. An' we both know tha' means it's tabled until ya c'n talk right again."

"I'm just so... lost. I miss you! And... I just..." He could talk through these tears, but he leaned into Grimm's hands anyway. "I miss you..."

"I miss ya too, pet. I know we've drifted. B'tween yer work schedules an' yer school schedule an' all yer schoolwork, it's been feelin' harder an' harder t'make th'time fer one another. I know, an' I been tryin'a find a way ta fix it fer two months," he admitted, with a little bit of a sniff. He'd kept his head, but that didn't mean he wasn't affected by how much pain his lover was in, and how much he felt he'd failed him by even letting the drift happen in the first place.

"I could stop. Be home more! I just don'wanna lose you!!" Scooching forward, Ichigo pushed his face into Grimm's, foreheads touching, and trying to grab onto him without falling off the couch.

Grimmjow leaned into him, eyes fluttering closed.

"You ain't stoppin' yer classes," he put his foot down. "Yer studyin' somethin' ya love, an' it'll be exam time in another month. Yer so close ta a degree, an' I ain't lettin' ya give on up tha', pet. I love ya too much ta let ya do tha'. I actually… been thinkin' maybe I could be home more. Like, alla time, maybe. An' take over some'a yer usual tasks like laundry, so we 'ave more time wit' each other," he admitted sheepishly.

"But I din't wanna take away yer opportunities ta serve an' do a good job wit'out long, hard thought. I know goddamn well how much't means ta you ta be able ta know ya got done everythin' on my list an' get a nice reward from me at th'end of th'day. But we ain't been able ta do any real intense scenes since ya started school, since ya need ta be up early on weekdays fer class an' fully half th'weekend is fer codin' projects, an' I been able ta SEE th'frustratin' buildin' up in ya, an' feel m'own temper get shorter. S'why I wanted ta bring all this ta the Circle t'night, so we c'n come back in, pull th'leash tight again. Cuz… I don' wanna lose you, either, Ichi. An' you finished yer trainin' years ago; ya could find another Dom at any time an' I know, I KNOW there's some buddin' young wolves out at college tha' would kill fer such a prime, perfectly trained boy as you."

"No! I don't--you're not!! You love working with Sousuke! It's not the scenes I'm missing!! It's the every day stuff!" Ichigo pushed himself up so he was sitting more and could pull Grimm into his lap where he could bury his nose in the blue hair and just breathe in his Master's scent. "I'm not that boy anymore, I know where my place is. It's why I married you! It's just lately you bring home as much work as I do, and you're asleep at your desk before I'm even done putting away the dishes. And you don't listen to my warnings before bedtime. I've told you before if I'm pointing out the time, it's me asking for bedtime, but you still only give me 'uh huh' and keep working..."

"I been-- this ain't fer makin' ya feel guilty," Grimm warned, "but what I been workin' on ain't regular work. It's been....it's been somethin' I was tryin'a save up as a surprise fer you. S'why I work so late, since I know ya hate goin' ta bed alone, so I don't send ya t'bed wit'out me when I really can't stop what I'm doin'. I ain't been....I ain't been a good Dom these last two months, Ichi. I din't plan ahead for this, fer any of it. I didn't have sensible defaults in place, I din't expect I'd ever have t'fight this hard an' be this tired fer what should'a been one-- one simple gift fer th' light o' my life. I been tryin'a get ahead, so we c'n have more time t'gether, an' it's been cuttin' inta our time so much now it's......."

He stopped, sighed, and rubbed both hands over his face. He couldn't fidget with his hair, that would disturb Ichigo.

"I been failin' you," he mumbled into his palms. "Jus' fuckup after fuckup after fuckup. I dunno why you even wanna stay."

"What is so important you can't share it with me? Even gifts. If it's ever more complicated, even when it spoils the surprise, we share it! It's what we promised, to 'share the burden and the joy for as long as we both shall live'. The whole 'til death do we part thing. Maybe I should've been more aware of how much you've been bringing home, and told you it was okay to work when I'm tired. I do hate going to bed alone, but I also know sometimes you can't stop what you're doing to come to bed with me."

Rubbing his nose in Grimm's hair, Ichigo sighed.

"Besides, is it really failing me if you're doing it for me?"

"Feels like't," he said, but even he knew that sounded petulant and unworthy of them both. "An' I didn't get it yet. S'th'worst part. I been workin' on this an' I still ain't made it happen yet. It's yer disability. I been pissed since tha' fuckin' cunt of a professor tried ta suspend ya over bein' triggered in class. I been tryin' ta give ya ammunition ta bring against her an' others like her, an' DESPITE all the filin', th'motions, th'copies o' yer diagnoses, they been fightin' me th'whole way. T'give you, a vet’ran, a lil' just fuckin' compensation!"

He waved his arm in frustration, careful not to hit his partner. "I din't look inta yer school, din't reserve ya a disability parkin' spot ahead o' time, I didn't rearrange our schedules ta make it easier on both o' us. Tha's my job, an' I ain't doin' it good enough! S'why I din't wanna tell ya 'bout the disability. I din't wanna get yer hopes up when they're fightin' so hard to keep you from havin' your goddamn base needs met."

Ichigo made him sit back so they could see each other, face to face, "Just to be clear, this isn't about money, right? We're okay financially. The both of us living here and me only working in-house a couple of days a week isn't putting a strain on the bank, right? This is about shoving Ms. Luppi's nose in it that she's a bully and isn't worth the grime on the bottom of my shoes, right?"

"O' course it is, Ichi. I don't need yer disability funds. I need-- well, I want ya ta have tha' placard an' th'paperwork tha' means the next time her, or anybody else, EVER tries ta tell you ta 'get over' yer PTSD an' yer life cripplin' injury ya got th' ammo ta tell 'em ta suck yer asshole! I got money in th'bank, I been savin' up for a while since I know school's so expensive, an' we got enough t'spare." He was quick to reassure his husband on that count; financial insecurity was not something they had to worry about.

It was partly why he was so pissed the government was fighting this so hard. He wasn't even going after the check- why did they care if a disabled veteran had his car placard and stickers or not?!

"Well..." Ichigo gave a small head bobble, "if I'm entirely honest here, the only person I want putting their mouth even remotely near my asshole is you, with a proper dental dam in place, and lube. Lots of lube! But... do you think maybe it would help if I actually gave a statement? I mean, what if they're fighting you because you're not me, and I'm not so disabled I can't fight my own battles."

To any other person that last bit would have come out biting and sharp, defensive. Ichigo had to prove that over and over again with 'well-meaning' strangers who seemed to think he was either incapable or 'shouldn't have to'. But from Grimmjow, his light and love, his Master, his husband, it was simply a statement of fact. To the government, to the IRS, he was employed, going to school, and though both were part time, it proved on paper that he wasn't unable to argue his own case.

He tapped on his lip. "You are right...they don't like that I'm the one after yer disability. I figured it was 'cuz I'm not as good at this part of th'paperwork as the others, but maybe that's it. I just- I guess I wanted t'be able t'fight this battle for you. So ya didn't have yet one more thing ta work on between school an' your job. And they want one of their own doctors to confirm yer physical disability, which I been arguin' against because I don't trust their doctors at fuckin' all but....it might make th'process easier if you did let 'em."

He rubbed his hands up and down his arms, frowning, but less deeply than before. "But a statement would definitely help. It's like, th'last big project I'm doin' for the firm before I quit to stay home wit' you, so I been workin' on it extra hard. They've seen so much paperwork from me that if nothin' else, different handwritin' will actually get their attention."

Scowling deeply for a moment, the ginger made a small groaning noise as he forced his panic-tired brain to work properly, "If... I remember correctly, Ryuuken has the credentials to argue in front of the disability board. If Sousuke can get the right forms together for Ryuuken to fill out, I can probably solve both issues with one visit. But..." He let his head tilt, "the government pushing back against you isn't your fault."

"Well, no, 'course not," Grimm tilted his head, rubbing one temple with his fingers. "Don't mean I have to like it. Cuz I don't, I really don't. But… yeah. No, that'll get at least that taken care of. Then gettin' t'class won't be so hard… an' I won't be so tired." He seemed to just realize he was in Ichigo's lap instead of the other way around, and grunted as he went to slide off so he could reverse their positions properly.

"An' I ain't been able ta win on my own. I wound up havin' ta get your help anyway."

"You're supposed to though." Ichi insisted, following Grimmjow's movements with his body as much as with his head. "I'm supposed to help you with whatever you're trying to do. It's my job."

Grimmjow was quiet for a moment, thinking that over, before he picked Ichi up so he could sit, cuddling him up to his chest. "It… it is. I just- I haven't wanted t'give you any extra weight ta carry, when you're already doin' so much. Askin' you to do yet more for me when you're already workin' so hard feels like I'm tryin' ta push ya beyond your limits."

"We have a word for when I reach my limits. I haven't used it." Settled on his Master's lap, he leaned more against the arm of the couch than Grimm's chest, specifically so he could keep looking into his face, "Don't you remember what we talked about at Kinkvention? At the panel about twenty-four structure? Greywolf had that whole article about leaning in when times get tough. Our whole issue here is the lack of structure. We're going through the motions but you haven't been leaning on me, and without you holding the leash tight enough I'm spinning my wheels."

He blew out a long breath. "Heh. Tha' is the problem, ain't it? I been worryin' about keepin' our routines as on track as I can, while accidentally derailin'-- what, over half our bedtime routine? Throwin' wrenches into th'whole issue. But I remember the other thing Greywolf said about sub brains. The more anxious ya are, the more important it is ta get ya OUT of yer head instead'a lettin' ya stew. I haven't been engagin' yer brain enough, have I love?" He scrubbed a hand up his bangs and through his hair, pulling Ichi closer. "Been fallin' down on my job, I have. M'sorry."

"You're only human, Master. It may be more obvious when I lose focus, but it doesn't make it any better or more expected." The submissive resisted, at least insofar as it meant ending the meta talk without a resolution or path forward.

"Why you gotta keep talkin' sense at me," Grimmjow grumbled, curling a little closer without actually disturbing the face-to-face line with his partner. "Ain't playin' fair, bringin' all this logic inta it. A'right, a'right then."

He straightened up, feeling better with something he could sink his teeth into, a problem they could hammer at together, and shook his head and shoulders to settle his mind.

"It's easy enough ta SAY our problems trace back to lack of structure, not leanin' on you, an' lettin' the leash go slack. I gotta couple ideas how ta go forward, like quittin' m'job after we got yer disability straight. An' re-establishin' nighttime routine, startin' wit' havin' you help on th'paperwork. An' then instead o' doin' yer chores alone, I'll help so I don't pass out on m'desk when you're not lookin'. Keepin' active will help, I think."

"I know ultimately, your choices are your choices, and there's very little I can say to actually change your mind when you've thought on it long enough, but," Ichigo's brow pinched, somewhere between concern and discomfort, "why do you actually want to quit your job?"

He rubbed the back of his neck. "I don't, really… but I want time wit' you more. An' you can't quit school, which's what takes up the bulk o' yer time. So, while I'd like ta keep workin', you're more important ta me."

"In light of thinking forward, and making plans, I don't know that I'm comfortable with living off of our savings... I know you want to spend more time with me, and no, I agree, quitting school when I'm this close is a bad idea." He bit his lip, "But I'm only in class three days, and two of them are half days. I wouldn't be delaying my graduation any.... if I took a leave from the shop. Dom would be fine with it."

Grimmjow leaned back against the couch a little, calculations running behind his eyes like some cartoon before he blinked.

"It wouldn't change much financially- you make good money codin', but if I'm still workin' we won't take any hits. And Dom, let's be real, you takin' classes is an excellent investment for him. Remember he offered t'pay for yer schoolin'? That would work a lot better fer us, but I know how much ya like workin' so I didn't wanna make ya feel pressured by suggestin' it." He rolled his shoulder a little uncomfortably.

"Master, I like having things to do . Whether they're tasks from you specifically, or doing things for someone else as a demonstration of how you've helped me grow. It doesn't matter as long as I'm /doing/ something, I can't get caught up in my head, or at least... as long as I'm doing something worth doing. I've no head for busywork and you know that, but like.... I need to know you're noticing what I'm doing, or it all feels pointless, but..." Ichigo felt himself struggling with getting what he meant across.

As much as he liked working with Dom at the shop, and as much as he'd discovered he loved coding and computers, ultimately the backdoor to his mind was feeling like he was doing something that mattered. Not on a large scale, but specifically to Grimmjow. He needed regular appreciation and attention, and if working outside their home was keeping that from being consistent, well the obvious solution was to stop doing that. It wasn't even a question.

He could still remember what it was like before, wondering what the point was to even go on breathing. When he still had a lot of days where he woke up, staring at the ceiling, with the weight of a thousand elephants pressing his body into the bed as if to make him a part of the sheets themselves. A black hole of suck that was draining in the same way only college students and only newspaper editors knew. Hollowed out and raw, blinking into the morning, willing himself to roll over, not even get out of bed, just to change position, and failing for more time than he liked to admit.

And the scariest part of the whole thing was that he never saw it coming. It would creep up on him like an insidious vine, looping around his mind, sinking into the creases between happy moments, and leeching the colors from the world around him. So so slowly that he wouldn’t notice. Not until everything was shades of gray and felt brittle.

But he couldn't work out how to say that. His job, whether he made any money at all really, was entirely in Grimmjow's hands. He soared or sank at his Master’s command, even in things that mainstream society said should still be in his purview. Basically, if Master said he was to be a house pet, then that was where he would put his focus; if he said he wanted Ichigo to work outside the house, then he'd do his best to do that too.

At the end of the day, Master held all the cards. It fell to Ichigo to remind him of that, but wording it correctly was proving more difficult than it seemed.

Grimmjow kept petting Ichigo's side, turning that over in his mind. That it didn't matter so much to his lover what he was doing, so long as it was something worth doing. And, naturally, that thought bled into the next, that as his Dom and partner, Grimmjow got to have a very large say in what was 'worth doing', giving praise or punishment as appropriate for certain behaviors and actions.

"Ultimately," he said slowly, feeling his way to the heart of his thought, "ultimately, I wan' ya ta be outta th'house at least once a week. T'see people, socialize, so we don't lose the progress we've made in your healing process. I will never let ya isolate yourself like you were before you met me again. But I also want you with me, at home, every night, serving me and me leadin' you so our dynamic and our relationship continue to grow as we do. So right now, I want the only thing that takes you out of the house to be school, and when you have your degree, for you to return to work, at the office one or two days a week instead'a at home."

He kept petting, his other hand kneading a warm thigh. "And I always, always, want ya ta be here when I get home, t'give me my evenin' greeting and coffee so I can put down everything outside, everything Nilla, all the shit that isn't you an' me at the door an' not touch it again until I have to. That's really what I want. You, an' me, to keep growing together."

"That means sharing those burdens with me, you know." The ginger sub pursed his lips pointedly, and couldn't help the way his eyebrow twitched. "I don't need you bottling up your stress just because you don't want me worried, or because you're afraid of breaking my headspace. Your burdens are my burdens, it's my /job/ to support you in all you do."

"It is," Grimmjow agreed. "An' if you don't want be bottlin' up my stress- well. We'll have to reestablish our maintenance therapy schedule ASAP, won't we? It's been way too long since I've patterned yer ass in beautiful welts. I- I'll own up to it, I've been holdin' back a lot, so you didn't look suspicious at school. Like I said, I've been falling down on the job. You have a word for when you can't handle it, and I've been mentally calling it for you and not leaving you enough reminders to tug the leash. Trying to do jobs that aren't mine, as Greywolf would call it, and take responsibility for shit that's yours to handle."

He scratched his scalp, tugging on his hair a little and feeling embarrassment bubble up. He knew as well as any other Dom that no one could fill the roles of both sides of the slash all by themselves, and it was stupid and harmful to both partners to try. The worst part was that he hadn't noticed he'd been doing it. It made him feel even more like a failure, but like his therapist had told him, he shut that down by stomping on that line of thought and telling it "go away, you're not helpful right now."

It helped that that successfully shut up the unhelpful part of his brain for a minute or two so he could focus on his pet and his response.

"Yes, Master." Ichigo smiled coyly, taking Grimm's hand from his own hair and deliberately pushing the band of his ponytail into his Master's palm.

It was a clear invitation. If Grimmjow wanted to pull someone's hair... well... he had a pet for that.

Grimm's fingers curled tight, holding on close to the scalp, and he used it to pull- firm, scalp-prickling like he knew Ichi loved it, and tilted his pet's chin up with a little smirk.

"Did we finish with this negotiation yet, pet?"

His lips parted slightly, "If you think so, Master. Have we reached a resolution? A plan forward?" His voice was a little breathless, and his instinct was to fall happily into not thinking, but leaving the Negotiation Circle without a plan, with the issues voiced but unresolved, was asking to have to come back and discuss the same problem over again.

He stopped pulling, but didn't release him just yet. "You will take a leave of absence from work until you get your degree. Maintenance therapy is going to be reestablished immediately, and there will be two changes to our nightly routine- first, that you will assist me in filling out your disability paperwork, and second, that I will be helping you during your nightly chores. Paperwork will come after dinner and before the other chores. And we will schedule a meta talk every Sunday, with more to be called as needed during this adjustment. Are we clear on this, pet?"

"Yes, Master."

The knot of uncertainty that had been the inspiration for this conversation at the beginning released with the plan laid out explicitly. Tomorrow, as part of his tasks, he would write down the new rules as close to word for word as he could remember so that it could be posted on their wall. The corkboard already held his chore chart, his tally of brat points, and the most updated version of their contract, complete with signatures and a photograph of their wedding day collaring ceremony.

This would be hung under the heading of 'Adjustments' for the duration of the trial, or until it was time to go over the contract again, whichever came first. It was primarily so they could both have a reminder without running the risk of miscommunication, but it also served as a living picture of how their dynamic grew and changed as they grew and changed.

Ichigo would hang the new rules on the board and then take a photograph of it, just to chronicle their life together.

For now though, with those words spoken aloud, he could melt into his Master's touch, his legs falling open on reflex and his hands curling up next to his chest.

"Good boy," Grimmjow told him, pulling on his hair again to bring their mouths together, hand stroking up his inner thigh without actually touching his groin.

After all, after such an extended period, and such an emotionally difficult talk, this scene was one that was going to last while they physically worked away the last of the tension.

His good boy wouldn't come until given permission, and that was going to be a VERY long time coming.