God didn't exist. No higher power watched down from the heavens. No divine being insured that all was right with the world. If such a thing had existed, he would have still been alive. If such a creature really did pull the strings and make mortals dance, if it had let his Ichigo be taken away, Grimmjow would have killed it. Nothing would have stood in his way.
So no, he didn't believe in a god or the devil or heaven and hell. He didn't believe in justice and he didn't believe in right and wrong or that there was good to be found in everyone. He believed in revenge. He believed in suffering and his religion was hate. It was the only thing that kept him going, drove him forward. Made him breathe as it drowned him. It was the only thing that made him loose himself and kept him sane.
He lived for revenge and it would be his. It had to be his.
•••almost 8 months ago•••
The night was cool, a blessedly refreshing breeze drifting through the opened window, making the sheer curtains billow out and waver softly in the shadowed room. The town slept on, the quiet sounds of a spring night dancing in the distance; the hum of insects, the chirp of crickets. The streets were barren this late at night, no bright headlights or loud engines to disturb the peace.
The room smelled of jasmine and vanilla, the soft scents of the occupants mingling with the gentle smells to add just a touch of something more man. The sheets were warm. Their colors dark and sultry, passionate colors for a room meant for just that. The door was open but the home's only owners both occupied the bedroom and there was no fear of being found.
A deep but gentle voice chuckled, the sound breathy but amused.
"We have to get up early, Grimm." Ichigo sucked in a lungful of air as teeth nipped at his collarbone and long finger's trailed down his thighs, nails scratching lightly. "I promised Goatface. We really should be going to bed..."
"We're in bed." The blue haired man grunted, a grin in his sinful, velveteen voice. He moved lower, skillfully pulling the sheets over his head as he crawled backward toward the foot of the bed, still hovering over his smaller lover. His every move was sensuous, slow and graceful. He let his lips and teeth graze wherever he pleased; trailing down a quivering abdomen, hot tongue laving over a pert nipple, circling Ichigo's navel.
Ichigo chuckled again as he laced his finger's in his lover's thick, wild blue hair under the thin blanket. He shook his head and rolled his eyes but a wide smile found it's way to his lips. Grimmjow growled against his toned belly as he pulled gently, tugging on the man's hair. The sound was deep and rich. It vibrated in the man's muscled chest where Grimmjow lay between his legs. Ichigo could feel it through the mattress. That sound always drove him over the edge of his control, always made him give in to beautiful temptation.
"Is this my present?" Ichigo asked, biting his lip as Grimmjow's lips ghosted over his awakening member. Another rumbling growl let him know the blue haired man had heard him before teeth sank into the sensitive flesh of his inner thigh.
"Part of it." Grimmjow answered between soothing licks. Even with the man under the sheet, his expression hidden from view, Ichigo could hear his smirk. "The part that I can't give you with your dad and sisters in the room."
Ichigo had to stifle a soft moan as Grimmjow's hot breath teased at his now hard member. Still, the bluenette didn't touch it just yet, skipping over it in favor of teasing at the prominent point of Ichigo's cut hip.
"Oh yeah?" Ichigo's voice sounded more breathy than he had wanted it to. He felt Grimmjow's gorgeous features spread into another smirk. "What's the rest then?"
"Mmmm..." Grimmjow rumbled just to make his smaller lover, the birthday boy, squirm. "Can't tell ya. Wouldn't be a surprise then."
Grimmjow wrapped his big hands under Ichigo's upper thighs, his long finger's brushing against his cheeks as he gave a firm, teasing squeeze. His eyes were closed where he lay between Ichigo's legs under the sheets but he didn't need to see. He had throughly mapped the smaller man's body many times, memorized every perfect plane, every mouth watering angle.
Pushing his hands up, sliding them between Ichigo's body and the mattress below them, he gripped the orange haired man's ass, letting the tips of his fingers tease at the seam between his cheeks. He moved slowly, unhurriedly. They had time. They had all night.
As Grimmjow moved about, his own steel hard shaft ground into the mattress and he let a rumbling groan crawl up his throat and vibrate against Ichigo's leg.
Ichigo squirmed, his fingers clenching in blue hair. "O-ok, Grimm...enough teasing already..."
A wide grin cut the bigger man's features in half before he followed his lover's wishes. In one motion, he took Ichigo's cock into his mouth, slowly sliding his hot tongue along the underside as he lowered over it. Ichigo's head fell back against the pillow, his hands fisting in Grimmjow's unruly hair as he unashamedly voiced his appreciation.
Smirking around the cock in his mouth, Grimmjow bobbed up and down under the sheet, growling as the head of Ichigo's member brushed the back of his throat. He received anther needy moan as Ichigo breathed his name.
Still sucking and teasing his lover, Grimmjow eased a single finger between Ichigo's cheeks. He pulled his other hand out from under the smaller male, sliding it along Ichigo's inner thigh, down his calf before using it to lift Ichigo's leg to settle on his broad shoulder. Hips sufficiently rotated and lifted enough to give Grimmjow access, he slowly pushed his finger through the tight ring of muscle at Ichigo's rectum.
The intrusion made Ichigo stiffen, the muscle of his trim body going rigid as his hips jolted. Grimmjow chuckled, barely avoiding choking himself as he continued to work the man's dick with his mouth and tongue. As he sucked, he added a second finger, further stretching the man he planned to spend his life with. The man he loved. But that was for tomorrow, on Ichigo's birthday.
Ichigo's panting breaths filled the room, mixing with his moans and his pleas as he fought to control himself from pistoning into the bluenette's mouth or backing himself onto his thrusting fingers.
"ahhh... Grimmmn-please..." He tugged up on the man's hair, trying to pull him away from his throbbing member. He wanted penetration, real penetration. He needed it, craved to feel Grimmjow's heavy cock fill him up and unravel him. To bring them together in a physical way, just as they were in every other way.
Grimmjow chuckled again, allowing himself to be pulled off Ichigo's erection. He gave a teasing lick to the weeping tip as he threw the sheets back and rose onto his knees. The cool breeze from the open window drove a shiver up Ichigo's spine, the intensity only multiplied as Grimmjow pulled his fingers from his entrance.
A panted whimper fell from parted, pink lips and Grimmjow leaned forward over his lover's body. Nearly folding Ichigo in half, one lean leg still thrown over Grimmjow's shoulder, the bluenette captured those parted lips with his own at the same time he lined up and slowly eased his way into Ichigo.
Their sex was slow and passionate, unhurried and filled with soft moans and languid thrusts that struck deep. Eyes rolling back in pleasure, Ichigo threw his arms around Grimmjow's neck, biting down on the man's lower lip before allowing his tongue to be dominated. Grimmjow pushed his hips flush with Ichigo's bottom, moaning into the kiss as he slowly drew back.
The crest of their pleasure was like a roiling wave, moving slowly toward shore until it neared, than crashed into the beach with unmatched power and beauty. Ichigo cried out as his body jerked and his cock twitched, his release coating Grimmjow's chest and dripping down his chiseled abdomen. The bigger man growled deep in his throat as he pushed himself flush with his lover once more, burying himself deep as his own seed filled the smaller man.
Panting from the nearly hour long session, the two collapsed together, tangling themselves within their sheets and wrapping themselves tightly into their lover's embrace. Grimmjow rolled them over, placing his larger body on the bottom and pulling Ichigo to lay atop him. The smaller male let a gentle smile tug at his pleasure flushed features as his chocolaty eyes closed, the sound of Grimmjow's strong, steady heartbeat lolling him into a deep sleep.
Thick arms wrapped around Ichigo's shoulders, Grimmjow also smiled as he closed his own eyes. His thoughts centered around tomorrow before the blackness of a peaceful sleep pulled him under.
Grimmjow woke early with the next morning, listening as the birds chirped and sang to the rising sun. The smile never left his face as he looked up at the ceiling, simply enjoying the sleeping man snuggled against him; Ichigo's deep, sleep heavy breaths, his smell, his bright, messy and sleep rumpled hair.
A grin cracked one side of his lips as he gently ran his fingers through the soft spikes before he carefully began untangling himself from Ichigo's long limbs. Without waking him, Grimmjow managed to crawl from their bed, pulling the sheet back up to cover his lover as the man shivered at the loss of his extra body heat.
Still naked, the bluenette tiptoed out of the room and down the short hall. Their home wasn't large, but it was nice. It was a place to call their own and it was perfect, all Grimmjow could ever ask for. There was only one thing missing, according to Ichigo. Grimmjow rolled his eyes at the thought but he couldn't say no. He'd never be able to tell Ichigo no.
So while the orange haired birthday boy, well, birthday man really, didn't know it, they were getting the puppy he had practically squealed over a few days ago while walking passed a pet store. A puppy and a whole lot more, if things went well with Isshin.
Grimmjow grabbed his phone and peeked back into the bedroom to make sure Ichigo still slept soundly as he dialed the number to the smaller man's father's home. Satisfied Ichigo was dead to the world, mumbling about something in his dreams, Grimmjow connected the call and wondered toward the kitchen. Lifting a blue brow, he tugged the blinds of the front window closed as he walked passed, not wanting to give their neighbors a show.
The call was picked up and Isshin's goofy and overjoyed voice sang a greeting.
"Hey, old man." Grimmjow chuckled, his voice deep and rumbling. He and Isshin got along surprisingly well. He felt like family whenever he visited with Ichigo. It was nice, something he wasn't really used to. And the twins adored him. When Ichigo had first brought him home two years ago, the girls had instantly taken a liking to him, calling him Uncle. They didn't really call him that anymore, now that they were starting to get old enough to understand he and Ichigo's relationship. But they still treated him like family.
"Ah! Grimmjow, my boy!" Isshin exclaimed over the phone, though he had Grimmjow's cell number and surly had checked the caller ID before answering.
"Quiet down. You realize it's still early, right?" Grimmjow's voice gave away his smile. "Everything's still on for today?"
"Haha! Of course it is!" Grimmjow listened to the sound of dog tags clinking around as Isshin played with the puppy Grimmjow was hiding at his house. He didn't particularly like dogs. He'd preferred cats all his life, but for Ichigo he would suffer through it, and he had to admit, at least to himself, that the mutt was cute.
"Good. I'm makin' breakfast for Ichi here, but we'll be over in time for lunch." Grimmjow explained as he wondered around his kitchen in the nude.
"Ohoho, I know what that means~" Isshin sang into the phone. Grimmjow mentally groaned but he couldn't help but grin. Who did they think they were fooling? Of course Isshin had figured out they had sex long ago.
"Nah. He's probably tired from last night." The shark grin showed in the bluenette's voice. He received silence for several seconds before Isshin was nearly shouting through the phone.
"OH MASAKI! Our little boy is grown up! and he's eloping with a delinquent!"
Grimmjow burst out into loud peels of laughter, head thrown back and white teeth bared. He quickly silenced himself though, not wanting to wake Ichigo and glanced down the hall as his own stupidity caught his attention. When Ichigo didn't appear at the door to their room, he addressed Isshin again. "Come on now, I'm not that bad and my record's clean."
"Oh I know it is, son." Isshin assured him in a happy voice. "One little case of accidental arson as a teen is hardly cause for concern."
"Uhhh..." Grimmjow froze, blue eyes widening. "What?"
Isshin erupted into loud laughter of his own. "Ichigo told me a few months ago. I'm not that over protective of a father."
"Or that creepy, I hope." Grimmjow grinned as he pulled things from his cupboards and fridge. "Well, I'm ganna get busy making breakfast and being domestic. See ya later."
"Sure, sure." Isshin replied. "Just text me when you two leave so I can have the pup ready."
"Will do. Thanks, old man." Grimmjow smiled as he hung up the phone, wondering how he had gotten so lucky. He had a great and loving man, not to mention he was sexy as hell. Ichigo's family was just as loving and unbelievably accepting that Ichigo was seeing a man. It was perfect. Life was perfect.
Breakfast went just as planned and Ichigo had hardly even realized Grimmjow was cooking at all when he wondered down the hall, yawning and hiking up a pair of boxers, to find the blue haired man naked in the middle of the kitchen. Still half asleep, Ichigo had climbed onto one of the barstools at their counter and openly stared as Grimmjow went back to the stove. After everything was just about ready, sitting on the stove to finish cooking, Grimmjow had stalked his way around the island and proceeded to give the orange haired man the best blow job he'd ever received.
Clutching the edge of the counter almost desperately, Ichigo had moaned Grimmjow's name as he came in the man's mouth. Nearly falling off the barstool, Ichigo pushed the bigger man to the cool tile floor and proceeded to finish Grimmjow off, his fingers warm as they wrapped around the man's rigid length while he nipped and licked at Grimmjow's neck and jawline.
They managed to pull themselves from the floor before anything was burned and they ate in the comfortable, pleasant company of each other. A couple hours and a shower later, they were climbing into Grimmjow's car as the bluenette tucked his phone back into his pocket, hiding a smile.
Ichigo chattered happily in the passenger seat as he looked out the window, happy to be visiting his family and hoping Yuzu had made a cinnamon cake again this year. It was his favorite. Grimmjow simply grinned as he listened, eyes on the road as they drove across town. He pulled the car into the driveway of the family home as he pulled out his zippo, skillfully flipping the top open and quickly lit up a cigarette. He took a long drag, rolling his eyes when Ichigo gave him a pointed look. "Last one."
"Promise?" Ichigo asked, crossing his arms and raising a single brow as the engine was cut.
Grimmjow smirked. "Promise." He said as he took one last inhale before putting it out.
The birthday boy laughed as Grimmjow ran around the vehicle, opening his door and dropping into an over exaggerated bow as he held it. From the doorway to the house, Isshin and the twins watched with much amusement.
Once inside and hugs exchanged, the family sat around the sitting room, Ichigo and Grimmjow on one couch while the twins sat on the floor in front of them and Isshin took his chair across from them.
"Ya know, Grimmjow, if I didn't know better I'd think you put on an awfully good act to get into my good graces." Isshin said with a wink, referring to Grimmjow's seemingly chivalrous acts. "But Ichigo tells me you act like that most of the time."
Of course the teasing was all in good fun. Isshin knew exactly how Grimmjow was and he knew the blue haired man was genuine in his affection for the younger Kurosaki. He also knew Grimmjow would play right along with him at poor Ichigo's expense.
"Oh yeah? What else does Ichi tell ya?" Ichigo's eyes widened and he elbowed Grimmjow in the ribs, knowing what was happening but only drawing a wide, shark grin from his bigger lover.
Isshin grabbed a camera from the end table beside him, shaking his head as he pretended to fidget with it. "Well, my son tells his papa everything! He's a good boy like that."
Grimmjow barked a laugh. "Oh he can be a pretty bad boy too. I'm sure he already informed you just how much he enjoyed the first gift he was given. And the second."
Ichigo's features dropped, his mouth gaping as he turned bright red. "Grimmjow!" He hissed, slapping his hand over Grimmjow's mouth to keep him from saying anything else.
The bluenette laughed behind his hand and Ichigo shook his head as his father joined in. He let his hand drop from his lover's face to his jean clad leg where he squeezed and sent the man a slight scowl.
"Ah, Ichigo, my son." Isshin said, a smile in his voice as he lifted his camera and pointed it toward the two. "Happy Birthday."
He snapped the picture as a shy but very happy smile tilted his son's lips. Then he climbed to his feet, looking pointedly at Grimmjow. The bluenette nodded and turned to Ichigo as Isshin left the room.
Throughly distracted by his trouble making boyfriend, Ichigo ignored his old man as he tried to be mad at what Grimmjow had said. It didn't work and Grimmjow gave him that shark grin as he captured him in a passionate kiss, silencing his scolding.
"DAD! They're kissin'!" Karin yelled, jumping to her feet and fleeing the room like it was on fire.
"Karin, kissing is a good thing." Yuzu climbed to her feet and trailed after her sister. "It's cute and it means they love each other."
The two broke apart, their kiss turning into chuckles as they leaned their foreheads together, unable to hide their mirth at the twins' antics. Isshin returned in a hurry, a feigned look of horror on his face that went unnoticed. Trailing behind him was an adorable little black and white puppy with long fur and glacial pale, blue eyes.
"Oh my god..." Ichigo stared at the little runt as it wagged it's tail and Isshin led it to him. He looked up at his father as he pulled the puppy into his lap, scratching behind it's ears and ruffling it's coat. The dog happily curled up, leaning back against him as it's tongue lolled from it's mouth and it looked up at him. "This is the one I wanted from the pet store! How did you know?"
Isshin chuckled but shook his head. "Your man bought the puppy and had me hide him here."
Ichigo's petting hands paused as he slowly turned to look at Grimmjow, the disbelief and surprise obvious in his eyes. He slowly settled the puppy on the floor and launched himself at Grimmjow, wrapping the bigger man in a crushing hug and sealing his lips over Grimmjow's smirking ones as they fell to the couch.
"Eew." Karin appeared in the doorway only to immediately turn back around and leave again, Yuzu still trailing behind.
Isshin erupted into laughter all over again. "Come on, girls! Let's go cut the cake."
"Thank you." Ichigo whispered against Grimmjow's lips as the puppy clumsily managed to crawl up onto the couch and began licking Grimmjow's cheek next to Ichigo's face. The bluenette heaved a sigh, closing his eyes as Ichigo giggled and pulled the puppy away from him and back into his own lap.
Grimmjow sat up as well and wiped the dog drool from his face, wiping it onto Ichigo's pants in retribution. The smaller man laughed at him and leaned over to kiss him on the cheek, the one the dog hadn't kissed for him. A chuckle accompanied the flash of a camera and all three of them, Grimmjow, Ichigo and the puppy, looked over to see Isshin standing in the door way.
"Daaaad. You're acting like I'm a little kid again." Ichigo whined as he stood from the couch. He put the puppy on the floor and it happily trailed behind him, tail wagging and blue eyes directed up at the orange haired man.
"But son! You only turn 23 once!" Isshin wailed as the two disappeared into the kitchen.
A wide grin showed Grimmjow's commercial worthy teeth as he slowly stood from the couch. Yeah, life was pretty good and it was only going to get better.
The Kurosaki family home was filled with joyous laughter and happy voices. The gathering was small and no one else had been invited, but it was exactly how they preferred it. Something small just for the five of them, for family.
After cake was eaten, Ichigo humoring his sisters and old man by making a wish and blowing out all twenty-three of his candles in one go, they regathered in the sitting room again. Isshin, being far more preceptive than most gave him credit for, picked up on his son's boyfriend's almost nervous manner. The blue haired man seemed to get more restless the later it got, though he did well at hiding it. "Karin, why don't you challenge your brother in that new racing game you just got?"
Karin jumped to her feet. "Yeah! Come play, Ichi-nii!"
Grimmjow looked over at the elder Kurosaki, raising a single blue brow in question. As Ichigo happily agreed and scooted to the floor to join his sister, Isshin motioned back toward the kitchen, crossing his arms as he left the room.
The bluenette waited a minute, making sure Ichigo was throughly distracted and trying to settle his protesting stomach as it twisted in knots. He and Isshin had gotten along great since they met. The older man loved him like a son and Grimmjow knew he shouldn't have been so nervous, but it wasn't everyday that he asked a man's father for permission to basically propose.
Taking a deep breath, the blue haired man pushed himself from the couch and slowly made his way to the kitchen. The moment he was out of sight from where Ichigo and the twins sat on the floor of the sitting room, Isshin's voice accosted him.
"Spill it." The older man said, not wasting time. "You've been fidgety all afternoon."
Grimmjow couldn't even force his usual grin onto his features. He took another deep breath as he plowed one of his hands through his hair. With his other, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, black box, a rich crimson ribbon holding it closed. Without hesitation, he tossed the box to Isshin and leaned back against the countertop, waiting for the man's reaction.
"What is this?" Isshin asked, catching the small box and turning it over in his hands. His dark eyes slowly widened as he looked back up to pin Grimmjow with his gaze. "Is this...a ring?"
"It is." Grimmjow steeled himself, standing up straight. He was Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez. He feared nothing. "Isshin. I love your son."
"You're...asking my permission..." Isshin seemed a bit shocked, but it was understandable.
Grimmjow nodded. "I want you to know how serious I am about this. I love Ichigo. I want to be with him. Forever." Grimmjow waited for a response but Isshin simply looked down at the box in his hands. "You can look at it if you want."
A small smile pulled at the corners of the older man's lips as he shook his head. "I can wait until you show him." He finally looked up at Grimmjow, closing the distance between them and pulling the younger man into a fatherly hug. "Masaki and I would be glad to call you family."
The bluenette's grin was back in full, his sudden case of nervousness gone and no where to be found. The two made their way back to the main room, Isshin hanging back and standing in the doorway, his arms folded over his chest and a wide, goofy grin on his features as he leaned against the doorframe. "Karin, pause the game. Why don't you girls come stand over here with your papa?"
"What? But dad, I was just getting ready to beat Ichi-nii again!" Karin turned toward her father, a scowl on her features but she did as she was told when she realized whatever was going on had sufficiently stolen her brother's attention. The girls crowded around Isshin as Ichigo climbed to his feet, looking between Grimmjow and his father.
As Ichigo stood up, before he could start asking what was going on, Grimmjow gracefully dropped to one knee before him. A little startled, Ichigo looked down at him, his brows shooting to his hairline.
"Ichigo, I know we can't really get married, but that doesn't mean I can't spend the rest of my life with you, if you'll have me..." Grimmjow pulled the top off the box to reveal a bright, shining silver band.
"W-what...?" Ichigo was at a loss as he looked down at the man he loved and at the ring he was being presented with. It didn't take him long to regain his composure and his face split into another happy, overjoyed smile.
The smaller man dropped to his knees to sit in front of where Grimmjow still knelt. He wrapped his arms around the man's neck in the second shocked and surprised hug of the day.
"Yes yes yes..." He whispered as he captured Grimmjow in another searing kiss.
"Daddy?" Yuzu asked quietly as she tugged on Isshin's shirt. "Is Ichi-nii getting married like you and mommy were?"
Isshin smiled down at his daughters. "Looks like you girls have two big brothers now."
•••nearly 2 months later•••
Ichigo laughed as he tossed a rubber ball down the hallway, sending his dog chasing after it. The puppy, growing fast and already weighing nearly seventy pounds, had been affectionately named Tensa and Ichigo was smitten. The animal was spoiled and had more toys than Grimmjow cared to count, but Ten always brought a smile to Ichi's face, so he was ok with buying the mutt anything they could think of.
Tensa caught the ball as it bounced off the wall at the end of the hall, scrambling in his rush to spin about and return to his master. Ichigo walked him everyday, at least once and sometimes he even managed to convince Grimmjow to go with him. Not that much convincing was really needed. All he really had to do was ask the bigger man to tag along. Grimmjow could never tell him no.
A knocking on their front door made the dog drop his ball, barking at the visitor. Grimmjow grinned, happy to see the mutt was at least becoming protective over his new home. If they were going to have a big dog running around it seemed to only make sense that the animal guard the place while they weren't home.
He stood from where he had been sitting next to Ichigo and crossed the sitting room, nudging Tensa out of his way and commanding the dog to sit while he opened the door. The dog listened and tilted his head as he waited to see who was at their door.
Isshin stepped through as Grimmjow backed away, instantly kneeling to pet the puppy, lavishing the dog in affection and attention.
"Hey, goat face. What are you doing here?" Ichigo asked coming into the room.
"Ah! You wound me, Ichigo!" Isshin wailed, placing a hand over his heart as he straightened away from Tensa. "Can a father not come to visit his own child?"
"Yeah yeah." Ichigo chuckled.
Isshin handed him a box, the picture showing some cheesy couple's portrait in a beautiful, sleek black frame. "I'm on my way to take the twins to Karin's practice, but I thought I'd stop by and give you guys this on my way."
"Uhh. Thanks." Ichigo said, glancing back up at his father.
Isshin rolled his eyes and chuckled. "I already put a picture in it, son. It's not just a useless frame."
"Oh." Ichigo opened up the box, only then realizing the sealing tape had already been broken. Pulling the frame from it's protective package, he looked down at a picture of himself and Grimmjow sitting in Isshin's home, bright smiles on their faces and a happy looking, tiny Tensa sitting in Ichigo's lap. "It's perfect, thanks dad."
Ichigo handed the photo to Grimmjow and stepped in to give his father a hug before the man reverted into a fool again. Isshin left a few minutes later, the horn to his car honking where he had left the girls inside the parked vehicle.
Closing the door behind his old man, Ichigo grabbed the frame from his boyfriend, now his fiance, and wondered down the hall, Tensa following at his heels. Grimmjow followed behind the dog and watched as Ichigo cleared a place on their dresser so that the picture could sit beside their bed. It was their favorite room of the house and the main reason why they had settled on buying this house in particular. It only made sense to put the picture in the bedroom.
Ichigo smiled at the photo before opening one of the drawers and pulling out a pair of black jogging shorts. He was pretty sure they might have been Grimmjow's but it didn't really matter. Kicking out of his jeans, he turned to face the blue haired man while he slipped into the shorts.
"I'm going to take Tensa for a run." He pulled the shorts up and stripped from his t-shirt, snagging a white beater to pull on instead. "I'm proud of you, by the way."
Grimmjow frowned. "What for?"
"I havn't seen a pack of cigarettes sitting around in weeks." Ichigo told him as he leaned up to kiss Grimmjow on the cheek before leaving the room and grabbing the dog's leash. Tensa instantly perked up, his tail wagging and thumping into the wall he stood by.
"Told ya I'd quit after you asked me to." Grimmjow smirked, his eyes directed at Ichigo's ass.
"I know. Thank you." Ichigo smirked as he caught Grimmjow staring. He playfully smacked the man on the arm as he opened the door. "Maybe after I get back." He said with a wink.
"Promise?" Grimmjow's voice took on a rumbling tone, his crystalline eyes shining with the prospect and mischief.
Ichigo laughed and grabbed Tensa's leash before the dog could take off into the road. "Promise."
Grimmjow leaned out the doorway, seizing the smaller man in a deep and promising kiss before he bid his lover to be careful. His life was absolutely perfect. He was happy and the world felt right and wonderful. But nothing could last forever.
Ichigo laughed as Tensa tugged at the leash, silently urging him to run faster. "This is a jog, Ten, not a sprint."
The dog looked up at him, his tongue hanging out as he panted and his doggy features twisted into a mock smile. It brought a happy expression to Ichigo's own face and he looked back up, pausing before he led the dog across a street and continued their jog down the sidewalk.
A few minutes into the run, Ichigo breathing easily in through his nose and out through his mouth, his stride long and smooth, a woman's shout caught his attention. They were in a pretty nice neighborhood but there was no mistaking the distraught tone in the woman's voice.
Orange brows furrowing, Ichigo glanced down at Tensa as the dog flattened his ears and a growl emitted from his throat. Nodding to himself, Ichigo kicked up his pace and took off in a sprint around a corner and toward the sounds of a scuffle, Tensa easily matching his fast pace.
The dog snarled as they rounded another building, coming face to face with a man trying to mug a woman. Ichigo slid to a halt, pulling Tensa with him as the dog snapped his jaws and snarled at the end of his leash, his aggression directed toward the man.
Spinning in surprise, the would be mugger dropped the woman's purse in favor of training his small handgun on Ichigo and the dog.
Nearly an hour after his lover had left, Grimmjow finished straightening their house up, vacuuming and putting the clean dishes from their dinner the night before away. He yawned as he glanced down at the clock on his phone, frowning at the time and thinking that Ichigo should be back any minute. An unwarranted sense of dread tugged at his gut and he stuffed his phone back in his pocket.
He was just about to sit down when a scratching at the door had him jolting in surprise. He rushed to the front door, his scowl capable of wilting flowers as worry crawled through his mind. He opened the door to find Tensa, the dog's leash trailing behind him as he ran through the opened doorway. The dog's head hung as he panted but the usual almost smiling expression wasn't there.
Completely ignoring that his front door was hanging open, Grimmjow rushed outside, wondering where in the hell Ichigo was if Tensa was home. "Ichi?" He called, his nervousness making his voice raise.
Tensa whimpered and ran around to stand in front of him, the handle of his leash clenched between his teeth. Brows furrowed, Grimmjow bent and held his hand out. The dog dropped the leash in his hand and all but took off as Grimmjow closed his fingers around it. He had known the dog was smart, but this was too much like a bad movie and it made his heart leap into his throat.
He yanked the dog to a stop and quickly checked around the back of the house, just in case he was panicking for nothing. The backyard was empty. Taking a deep breath and trying to stay calm, he trotted over to their neighbor's house and banged on the door. He quickly found that the older man hadn't seen his lover either.
"Ok. Ok." Grimmjow took a deep breath and jerked his phone from his pocket. Something wasn't right. Tensa whined and yanked on the leash, trying to urge Grimmjow forward.
The blue haired man dialed Ichigo's number. It rang several times before going to voice mail. He tried again and again, finally leaving Ichigo a quick message. When he couldn't get through to Ichigo's phone, he dialed the next number that came to mind.
Isshin quickly picked up, the sound of cheering from Karin's soccer match in the background. The happy sounds made Grimmjow's gut roil. "Hey, Grimm!" Isshin greeted.
"Isshin." The moment Grimmjow spoke Isshin quieted down, easily hearing the rough edge to his future son-in-law's voice. "I-I can't find Ichi... He took Ten for a walk and Tensa's back but I can't find Ichigo. He's not answering his phone and no one has seen him."
"What?" Isshin knew something was very wrong. Grimmjow didn't panic easily but it was clear he was on the verge of doing so. He remembered the strange and unexplainable dread that had crawled through his own gut when Masaki had been killed and his heart dropped.
"Ok, Grimmjow, stay calm. I'm on my way." He turned to one of the other parents at the match, a woman he knew. He told her a family emergency just came up and asked her to take care of Karin and Yuzu. Grimmjow heard his voice but didn't hear what he was saying.
When Ten tugged at the leash again, Grimmjow let himself be pulled along and before he knew it, he was sprinting down the street after Ichigo's beloved pet. A growl crawled up his throat but it was only a way to try to push back his fear.
On the other end of the phone, Isshin tried to get Grimmjow to answer him. "Grimmjow? What's going on? You there?"
Grimmjow and Tensa rounded a corner, the sounds of a woman crying reaching them. Tensa urged his owner to go even faster and Grimmjow complied, somehow finding the ability to push himself into an even harder sprint.
The leash slipped from his hand as he rounded the next corner, his steps faltering. "Oh god... Ichi?"
"Grimmjow? Did you find him, Grimmjow?" Isshin all but shouted through the phone. The call hadn't been disconnected even though the younger man wasn't responding and he could just barely hear Grimmjow's deep voice.
As Tensa neared where Ichigo lay, his ears down in a sad, scared motion, Grimmjow stumbled forward, unable to feel his legs. The phone slipped from his fingers as he fell to his knees at Ichigo's side.
The orange haired man lay in a pool of blood, some of the red liquid dripping down his chin from between his lips as he breathed in weak gasps, his hand pressed to his chest. Blood seeped between his fingers and stained his once white shirt. His other hand reached out and ruffled Tensa's fur before he realized Grimmjow was there.
"G-good boy, Ten..." He said in a quiet voice.
Grimmjow pulled Ichigo up into his lap, cradling the man's head and soothing unruly orange locks away from his face.
"Ichigo..." His voice broke as he spoke, barely able to force a whisper out. His phone lay near by but he didn't hear Isshin's shouting voice as he focused on his lover, chest heaving and blue eyes tearing up as he looked wide eyed down at the smaller man. Ichigo weakly smiled up at him before he fell still. "No...no no no..."
"Grimmjow! What's happening? Grimm?" Isshin floored his car as he sped across town, the phone glued to his ear as he listed to Grimmjow's deep, broken voice.
"Oh shit. Ichi... You-you can't do this to me..." Grimmjow begged, clutching the motionless man to his chest and burying his face in Ichigo's hair. Tears streaked his angular features but they went unnoticed.
The woman Ichigo had saved from being mugged and who knew what else trembled as she picked up the forgotten phone, hearing the distraught yells from the other end. "S-sir? I-I'm hear with these two men... Please...call an ambulance..." She gave Isshin the address of their location as she watched the scene unfolding before her eyes.
By the time Isshin arrived, the EMTs were just showing up and Grimmjow sat on the ground, rocking Ichigo's body in his arms as his tears darkened Ichigo's bright hair. Tensa snarled as an EMT tried to get close but the dog quickly quieted down as Isshin ran up to his son and the man he considered to be another son. One of the ambulance workers recognized him and let him through the perimeter the police were setting up to keep the growing crowd away.
His experience as a doctor kept him calm as he pulled Grimmjow away from Ichigo so the paramedics could do their job. The bluenette did nothing to hide his pain and had to be physically pulled from the ground as Ichigo was loaded onto a stretcher.
"Come." Isshin instructed, his own fear and dread shaking his voice. "We'll follow them to the hospital..."
Near by, the woman shook her head, her hand to her mouth. "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry... He was only helping me..."
Grimmjow spared her a single glance, his blue eyes ringed in red, dark and watery with his emotions. Tensa jumped into the car as Grimmjow climbed into the passenger seat and Isshin started the engine. They peeled out behind the ambulance, watching through the little window in the back as Ichigo's shirt was cut away and a defibrillator was pulled out.
The ride to the hospital seemed like the longest trip he had ever taken. The wait as Ichigo was rushed into the ER was ever worse. Covered in his lover's blood, Grimmjow stared at the dirty tile floor as they waited for the doctors to come and tell them of Ichigo's fate, though he already knew in his gut what they would say.
Isshin finally lost his calm demeanor as his son's doctor finally walked into the hall to find them. Grimmjow didn't look up as the man explained what had happened. He already knew that Ichigo had died in his arms. He had heard his last, shuddering breath, had listened to his last words. The man he had planned to spend the rest of his life with had used his last breath to apologize to Grimmjow and tell him that he loved him.
When next he was finally shaken from the prison of his own mind, Grimmjow raised his eyes to look at Isshin's drawn features. They were at the home Ichigo had grown up in and the man's father was trying to get Grimmjow to strip out of his blood stained clothing. Hardly remembering the ride there and blue brow's furrowing, Grimmjow looked down at himself before he pushed the older man out of his way, launching himself toward bathroom.
Everything he had eaten in the past several days violently exited his stomach before he was sitting on the cold tile floor. He ripped the shirt over his head, his muscled arms bulging as he tore the material in half before he began trembling too badly and he dropped his head in his hands, tears once more streaking his features. His deep voiced, raw and pained yell shattered the silence of the house, his devastation shaking his very body as he gave voice to it.
Tears threatening to blur his own vision, Isshin slowly entered the restroom. He had known loss before but only his doctor's calm mind kept him from breaking down. That, and knowing that Ichigo would want him to insure Grimmjow would be ok.
"I should have been there..." He whispered as Isshin lowered himself to sit next to the big man. Out of habit, Grimmjow pulled his lighter from his pocket but he had quit smoking and so he idly toyed with it between his fingers as he stared at nothing, sitting shirtless with his knees puled up to his chest. "I should have went on that run with him."
His world had been torn apart and ripped asunder. The man he had given everything to was gone, taken from him. In the passing days, Grimmjow hardly spoke a word. Even when Karin or Yuzu tried to get him to talk or to play with them, he remained silent. The twins took care of Tensa while Grimmjow stayed at their home.
The day of Ichigo's funeral, he sat in silence as the viewing proceeded, his unseeing blue eyes trained on the casket, on Ichigo's still features and closed eyes. People came and went, saying their parting words and offering their condolences to Grimmjow and Isshin. Friends pulled the bluenette into hug after hug, still the man said nothing, not a trace of emotion showing on his features. Shock was a hard thing to get over. Loss was even harder to live with.
Grimmjow and Isshin helped carry the casket out to the grave site. The bluenette stood quietly as he listened to the preacher talk about god and angles, about heaven and all things beautiful. But the only thing he considered beautiful was gone, lowered into a hole in the ground and covered with dirt. Angels paled in comparison and the world was suddenly a dark and ugly place.
Finally deciding he needed to face his empty home, Grimmjow put Tensa on a leash and walked across town, refusing Isshin's offer to drive him. He wanted to walk. The dog needed the exercise and he needed the time and fresh air. He promised to let Isshin and the girls know when he made it home and he kept that promise. It was late when he made it home, Tensa panting but hanging his head. The dog's blue eyes kept darting up to glance at Grimmjow and the blue haired man tried to force a smile before he broke down on his own doorstep, pulling the dog to his chest and wetting Ten's fur with his tears.
The dog, Ichigo's beloved pet, whined softly as if crying with the man. He sat in Grimmjow's embrace for the hour it took Grimmjow to finally pull himself to his feet and enter the house. The man spent the entirety of the night laying on his empty bed, the sheets cold against his bare back and legs, their favorite room no longer feeling sacred.
He was awake when the sun rose, watched it climb into the sky through the sheer fabric of their curtains. He took care of Tensa, feeding the dog and letting him out in the backyard to do his business but he could hardly look at the animal without being reduced to tears.
Nearly a week passed before he got a call from the police. There was no leads on the man responsible for the murder of his lover. Grimmjow listened to the officer speak, then hung up without a word. His phone smashed as it struck the wall, denting the drywall, the broken pieces of plastic left to lay in the sitting room.
Isshin had apparently received the same call and he showed up at Grimmjow's house when he couldn't reach the man via phone. He knocked before letting himself in, unsurprised that the man hadn't answered, nor that the door was unlocked. Tensa greeted him, his tail waggling a few times before falling still again. The dog quickly circled around and returned to his owner's side, lowering himself to lay next to Grimmjow where the man sat in the half way down his hallway. His back was to the wall, his knees pulled up as he rested his arms across them and stared at the wall opposite him.
The dog lay his head on his crossed paws and Grimmjow didn't bother looking up as his hand fell to lay across the dog's shoulders, fingers curling through the soft, shaggy fur. The once lively and happy home whispered of pain and emptiness, of the lack of love and life that had once resided within it's walls.
Isshin quietly made his way down the hall, once again lowering himself to sit beside the younger man. Grimmjow was lost. The big man was hardly the same man that his son had brought home with him but Isshin loved him like his own and it crushed him to see Grimmjow letting himself slip away.
"Grimm..." Isshin started to speak, his voice quiet, his goofy self no where to be seen. He hadn't been the same since Ichigo's death. None of them had been.
Before he could continue, Grimmjow spoke, his voice rough and raw. "It hadn't been an accident. The arson Ichigo told you about. I meant to set that car on fire."
Isshin's brows furrowed but he remained silent, watching the bigger man as he flipped the top of his zippo opened and closed, opened and closed. The quiet snick of the metal was the only sound in the hall for a long while and Isshin guessed Grimmjow hardly even realized he was doing it.
"There was a man inside it. He got out when he smelled the flames start peeling away the paint." Isshin sat in silence as Grimmjow confessed to something he had buried long ago and never told to a single soul. "He had been selling drugs to some of the kids I went to school with. Hard drugs, the kind that took my parents away. but the police didn't have enough evidence to nail him. So I blew his car up."
"Grimmjow..." Isshin's voice caught in his throat and he watched as the flame of Grimmjow's zippo flared to life before the lid flipped closed and snuffed it out. "Don't do this... You have to stay strong. For Ichigo."
"They haven't found his killer." Grimmjow's features twisted into a vicious snarl, his rage the first emotion to break through his sorrow. His blue eyes flashed with a spark of life they hadn't seen in a week.
"Don't you dare do something stupid. I can't loose another son." Isshin told the man in a stern, fatherly voice that wavered just slightly.
The sneer fell form Grimmjow's features, his sever brows furrowing as his head lowered further in defeat. He stuffed the lighter back in his pocket as he realized he had been playing with it again. He wasn't entirely sure why he kept it. He would never smoke again, Ichigo had asked him not to. But the zippo had been something Ichigo had gave to him when they had first started dating and he had carried it with him ever since.
"I wont." Grimmjow said quietly, that flicker of life draining from his chilled gaze once more.
Days came and went. Sleepless nights crawled by. Grimmjow's heart sank ever further until it burned with every beat that showed he still lived while his Ichigo didn't. He didn't understand why he still lived, why he still breathed. He no longer cried. He couldn't. The man had nothing left, nothing at all.
Finally, as the calendar flipped to a new month, a month of Ichigo's absence, Grimmjow was numbed. He felt nothing, not even his own heartbeat. A month had gone by and still the police had nothing to show him, nothing to tell him. They had given up. Justice was left unserved.
One night, while staring at the photo of he and Ichigo sitting on Isshin's couch, little Ten sitting in Ichigo's lap, Grimmjow realized why he still carried on. The numbness that had settled over his mind and body slowly knotted and hardened, forming something solid and angry in his gut, something that burned.
The police had interviewed the woman Ichigo had given his life to save. It didn't take the bluenette long to find a name. A name was all he needed as he closed the door behind himself, leaving Tensa home alone. The streets were still dark, the sun not even coloring the horizon yet, but the dark was what he needed. The people he looked for were active at night, like nocturnal insects.
A sneer promising violence on his angular features, Grimmjow stalked down the street in the direction he had found Ichigo. A few well placed threats later and he had an address to go along with his name. He showed up on the woman's doorstep as the skyline lit up a fiery orange, reminding him of everything that had been taken from him.
Before he had the chance to feel the pain trying to crawl up his throat and turn his tongue to lead, he pounded on the door. His heavy fist shattered the peaceful quiet of predawn. He banged for nearly ten minutes until the click of a lock finally quieted him. The door was pulled open, stopping once the chain on the inside pulled tight. The woman peeking through recognized him. It was hard to forget someone with blue hair, someone that had cried out the name of her rescuer, a man who had crumbled before her very eyes.
Her thin brows raising as her dark eyes widened, she closed the door and Grimmjow listened to the chain slide from it's place before the door was opened again and he was granted access. They sat in tense silence for several minutes before the woman tried to apologize.
Grimmjow didn't want to hear it. He was sick of sorry. Sorry didn't bring Ichigo back, sorry didn't catch his killer, sorry didn't make him hurt any less. The moment the words left the woman, Grimmjow began asking his questions.
She told him everything she had told the police. She answered every question she could, never looking him in the eye. She couldn't face him, his flat, lifeless yet beautiful eyes. Nothing but hate and sorrow swirled where fire should have been.
Grimmjow left as the sun lifted in the sky and the birds awakened. They're songs weren't the beautiful melodies he remembered. They sang a sad tune, one rooted deep in memory, one that conjured images of passionate nights and the loving aftermath.
The blue haired man grit his teeth, a deep scowl shadowing his features as he stalked down the streets. His thoughts whirred, wild and untamed and violent in a way they hadn't been since he was a teen, since he had met Ichigo. He closed his eyes as he reached his empty house, taking a deep breath as his hand settled on the door knob. Ichigo scowled back at him from the darkness behind his closed eyes, like he didn't approve of the bluenette's thoughts.
A frail smile parted the man's lips as a tear streaked down his features. No, Ichigo wouldn't approve. But Ichigo was dead and Grimmjow would never get to see him again, never hold him or kiss him or tell him how much he loved him.
Grimmjow threw his door open so hard the knob punched through the wall behind it. Tensa scurried from his path and ran down the hall to hide under the bed.
"God damnit, Ichigo!" His deep voice filled the house, echoed down the hall and through the empty rooms. He sank to his knees. "What...am I supposed to do...?"
Tensa eventually crawled back out, scooting up to Grimmjow until the man acknowledged him. The dog laid his head in Grimmjow's lap, his tail thumping quietly on the floor as Grimmjow rested his hand on the dog's head. Grimmjow laced his fingers through the animals fur, shaking his head slightly. He pulled the house phone from the cradle. It'd never actually been used, not that he could remember anyway, but it worked and he no longer had his cell.
He began dialing, mentally cursing himself as he automatically began dialing Ichigo's old number. Snarling and nearly sending the house phone to join his cell phone, he bared his teeth and started over again. Isshin answered on the third ring, his normally cheery greeting making him sound tired and old.
"Grimmjow? What's wrong? Are you alright?" Isshin could hardly believe the boy was calling him. Grimmjow hadn't spoken to anyone.
"Yeah. Fine." Girmmjow cringed at the word. Fine. Hah. "I-I need you to take Ten... I don't think I can take care of him anymore..." The man lifted his hand away from Tensa's head, pinching the bridge of his nose as his voice faltered. The dog, Ichigo's dog, looked up at him. "I can't...he's-he's Ichi's a-and I..."
"I understand, Grimm..."
Isshin came and picked up Tensa that same day, taking the dog home with him for his dead son's lover, the man that he had hoped to see as his son-in-law at some point in the future, when the laws finally changed to allow same sex couples to marry. Tensa would be well cared for at his home. The twins would play with him and feed him. Grimmjow knew the dog would be better taken care of there than if he stayed at his own house.
The very next day, the house even more empty than it had been before, Grimmjow left. He locked the door and tucked the key in his pocket. He walked across town, his shoulder's hunched as his fingers toyed with the lighter he kept on him but his mind was made up. The police couldn't bring him justice. The law couldn't turn a wrong into a right. The world was a dark, dark place and his only light had been taken away.
But Grimmjow knew who he was looking for. The woman that Ichigo had saved had told him everything he needed to know in order to track the murderer down. He intended to create a new light, one last time, as he watched the rest of his world burn away. Hate drove him forward. The promise of revenge and personal justice kept him breathing.
Features set in a hard, blank expression, the bluenette pulled a photo of Ichigo from his pocket. The younger man smiled in it, his bright hair backlit by the summer sun. He didn't dare look at the photo as he neared his destination.
Grimmjow didn't bother knocking. With a deep breath, he snarled as he rammed his broad shoulder into the flimsy door of a cheap little apartment in the shittier side of town. The frame groaned, the wood splintering. He repeated the action as startled cursing filtered through the damaged portal.
As the door flew open, Grimmjow stumbled forward and his blue eyes lit with a seething fire. They landed upon the single occupant of the apartment and the blue haired man slowly closed the door behind himself.
"Who the fuck are you?" The man shouted.
Grimmjow ignored him, holding the photo of Ichigo up to the coward's face. "You know who this is?" He growled.
"What?" The man's eyes widened as he glanced at the photo, then back at Grimmjow. Incomprehension showed on his features but so too did a sort of horrified recognition. It was all the confession he needed.
The newspapers would read of a devastating fire. The flames burned hot enough to bubble the glass panes of the windows before they burst outward in ragged shards. Nothing but charred remains would be found of the man who had lived there.
While the sirens of police cruisers and fire trucks filled the town, Grimmjow stuffed his hands in his pockets, one clutching the photo of Ichigo while the other brushed the warm metal of his lighter. The city officials would be too busy putting the fire out. He would have time. Finally, maybe he'd be able to get some sleep.
The hard knot that had scared over in the pit of his stomach began to unravel, leaving him feeling empty as he unlocked his front door. Tears blurred his vision and he blinked them away. Tensa didn't greet him this time but that was ok. The dog was safe and happy living with Ichigo's family, the family Grimmjow had called his own.
He had never believed in god, not in heaven or hell, angels or demons. He knew there was no divine being that judged mortal souls but perhaps, just maybe he did believe in justice once again. In right and wrong. And maybe, if that justice were to be upheld, if things were to be set right once more, maybe he'd be allowed to see him one more time.
A thin but genuine smile creased Grimmjow's lips as he scrawled his name at the bottom of a tear stained paper. He folded the note carefully, taking his time and letting his memories consume him; bright smiles and passionate nights, orange hair and deep, endless eyes. His voice as they spoke, as they whispered things meant for naught but each other. The way he moaned as his features flushed a beautiful pink. His smell. His laugh. Him.
Grimmjow laid the folded paper next to his favorite picture of himself and Ichigo where it sat in a black frame on their shared dresser. They both smiled in the photo, a large, shark grin on his own angular features and a gentle, almost shy smile on Ichigo's as he turned toward the bluenette to place a kiss on his cheek. Tensa was smaller in the photo, still a puppy and sitting happily in Ichigo's lap. Isshin had taken it nearly a year ago now, during a small family gathering in celebration of his only son's birthday. The same day Grimmjow had asked Isshin's permission in private to keep his son, to protect him and love him and call Ichigo his even if gay men couldn't marry yet.
With the letter in place, the picture angled just right so that he, Ichigo and Ten would smile towards whoever walked through the door of their once shared bedroom, a vicious snarl twisted Grimmjow's features. He swept his arm across the top of the dresser, knocking everything else to the floor in fit of rage, in one last display of his normally violent character. Books clattered to the carpet, bottles of cologne shattered, a mirror landed at his feet and papers fluttered about the room.
Kicking some the debris from out of his way, Grimmjow lowered himself to sit cross legged on the floor, leaning back against the front of the dresser. A frown marred his expression, drawing his blue brows together and tilting the corner of his lips down. Changing his mind, he reached high above himself, managing to hook his fingers around the edge of the photo frame. He pulled it down, never taking his eyes from it as he settled it in his lap to look up at him. This was his favorite. This is what he wanted to remember.
Perhaps they would meet again. A single tear streaked down his cheek as he pulled a knife from the waist band of his jeans, flipping it open. A sad smile tugged at his features, never wavering as the blade bit deep, the ragged and unkept edge slicing through the soft flesh of the underside of his wrists and arms.
First his left. Deep enough to make closing his fingers into a fist nearly impossible, severing tendons and muscle. Then his right. Just as deep as he slowly dragged the blade across. Red welled to the surface, slicking his trembling fingers and staining the carpet and his clothing. This was right. This was what he wanted. He wouldn't survive, even if someone managed to find him before he bled out. His heart had given up long ago.
The deed done, he fell still, leaning back against the dresser in their bedroom. A room that smelled of him. Of them. The note fell from the dresser's top, fluttered to the carpet and landed open to sit before him but he didn't really notice it as a sad smile once again reached his features, the picture of Ichigo's smiling face the only thing he saw.
I promised to protect him and I failed.
I promised you I wouldn't do anything stupid and I lied.
I promised you I wouldn't do this, but I can't live without him.
I promised to love him forever.
It's the only promise I can keep.
Yuzu, Karin, Isshin.
I truly am sorry.
I'm going to see Ichigo again.