Here we are! Gosh, it's been so long. Seven whole years. When I found my old account, I realized that I still knew exactly where I wanted to take this story and reading the old reviews made me want to at least bring this to a conclusion. So, for old readers, welcome back! For new readers, enjoy the ride.

Content: rape, psychological trauma - for all chapters.

"Hey, bitch, you're really bad at this." Nnoitra snorted. His comment was supported by a snickering Fraccion next to him.

Grimmjow lurched forward, his forehead connecting with the Fraccion's. The lower Arrancar was sent flying across the room and smashed into the wall. The loud sickening crack of the Fraccion's skull sent blood and brains out on the stainless white wall.

There was a moment of silence among the circle of Arrancar. Grimmjow sat back down, growling. Nnoitra was the first to speak, with a muffled laugh.

"Fuck, man, sore loser!"

The coarse sentence broke the silence and the other Arrancars joined in on the merriment; Much to Grimmjow's displeasure.

"Only Jaggerjack could send someone flying with a head butt."

"Fuck all, is he dead?"

"Naw, he's just napping!"

Ulquiorra only watched from a distance. He wasn't too interested in playing the barbaric card game. He had given it a try, but soon found out the reason for the unusually large amounts of fights during the game. The rules fluctuated on a daily basis, making it extremely hard to tell if someone were cheating or not. Either way, someone came out of the game dead or injured. More often than not, it was both.

But that was alright. It was only out of pure curiosity that Ulquiorra had tried to play with them. And perhaps also out of the need to connect with his comrades. At least that's what Ichimaru had said.

However, something else had caught his curiosity, recently. It was something that he and Ichimaru both seemed to enjoy doing. Almost like clockwork, the two would meet each other in one of Las Noches' hallways and with one stoic stare from Ulquiorra and a sly smile from Ichimaru, they would soundless walk side by side to their destination.

Arriving in front of the plain white door, Ulquiorra took the intiative to open the door. Annoying or not, Ichimaru was still his superior, it would be rude for the Espada not to open the door for him. Stepping into the room, Ichimaru's head immediately turned to the left. Ulquiorra's eyes followed his, shortly.

"Aaah, look's like lil' Ichi's sleepin'!" Ichimaru resisted against the urge to making cooing sounds.

Looking over Ichimaru's shoulder, Ulquiorra saw the orange-haired Shingami that he visited so frequently. Sitting down against the wall, Ichigo was fast asleep, his head tilted to the side ever so slightly. His sleep seemed a little bit more sound than it did yesterday. Ulquiorra was slightly surprised over the fact that Ichigo didn't jump up when the door was opened.

The skin that showed from Ichigo's robe told all. While his face remained unmarred, the same couldn't be said for his body. The hands resting lazily on the floor were covering in small scars. Little cuts here and there that never healed properly for one reason or the other. A couple of fingernails were notable as well. A few of them grew back irregularly, and Ulquiorra vaguely wondered what made them do that. Probably Ichimaru.

The V-neck of the robe showed the scarred chest. Scars of various shapes were painted all over him. Some were thin lines, indicating a sharp weapon. Others were jagged lines, perhaps fingernails? While other's looking like holes, and Ulquiorra knew they were Ichimaru's old work. Then there were the areas of broken blood vessels—No, he is not going to call them by that stupid name-and a few bruises. But none of them were just flesh wounds. None of them were a minor injury. Everything on him was as severe as severe could be. Bruises that were such dark shades of purple, others would wince and feel pain just looking at it, scars that were red and angry from mistreatment and bite marks deep enough to make one wonder what kind of creature could manage that much strength.

Ichimaru looked at Ulquiorra, snickering to himself. The stoic Espada always did this. Something about looking at the former arrogant, over-confidant Shinigami all covered in wounds and looking just goddamn pitiful enchanted it. It was about a week ago when the Espada first began joining Ichimaru on his trips to check up on Ichigo. They were almost like children, checking up on their mother after a horrendous fight with their father. Or perhaps they were curious fans, wanted to catch a glimpse of the artwork their favorite artist was creating.

"Well, let's let lil' Ichi sleep, yea? Ah know he looks so cute but we gots ta let him sleep!"

Ulquiorra was ready to turn and leave when a mumble caught his attention. Both him and Ichimaru stood still as they watched the Shinigami stir back to life. Ichigo mumbled sleepily to himself, and stood up, shakily.

Neither Ulquiorra nor Ichimaru could hold back the expression of shock from their faces when Ichigo spoke, in an almost carefree tone.

"Mornin'. Aizen gonna come back to fuck me up or what?"