Author's Note: Okay, I decided to provide a little bit of information about the animals in this story. It doesn't really have an impact on the story, but I thought it would be fun for you to read.
American Beaver (Aizen): The American Beaver is found througout North America. They eat grasses, cattails, and water lilies. The total beaver population is believed to be between 10-15 million, but it is believed that before the settlement of the Americas, it may have been ten times this number.
American Mink (Ichimaru): The long, slim body is covered in glossy fur that ranges from a sandy brown to near black, often with a silvery tint. They are excellent swimmers, and their main habitats are fields and wooded areas that are nearby rivers and streams. They are semi-aquatic, hunting prey both on land and in water. Common prey include fish, crayfish, frogs, mice, voles, and rabbits. They themselves are preyed upon by coyotes, wolves, and owls.
Brown Rat (Kenpachi): Also known as the Norway Rat, Common Rat, Hanover Rat, and Wharf Rat, the Brown Rat is the most successful mammal on the planet alongside humans. Brown Rats have fur that is a mix of brown, black, and grey hairs, the combination of which is referred to as 'agouti' coloring. The exact origin of the Brown Rat is uncertain. English academics first believed it was from Norway. After that theory was debunked, they hypothesized that it originated in Ireland, Gibralter, or Persia. Today, the best guess we have is that it came from N. China or Mongolia. They are omnivores, eating nearly anything, though grains and cereals form a substantial part of their diet. They are also known to eat berries, insects, eggs, nuts, plant matter, meat, and have even been known to dive underwater for fish and molluscs. They are intelligent and highly social, attributes that have contributed to their success.
Deer Mouse (Momo): Deer Mice are small rodents that live in forests throughout North America. They vary in size from 3.5 to 6 inches, though they're usually at the smaller end of the scale. There are 66 species of Deer Mouse. Their soft fur ranges in color widely, and can be tan, brown, grey, or black, but they always have a distinct white belly and white paws. Deer Mice are known for their exceptional cleanliness, so they are frequently used as lab animals or pets, though they are not actually domesticated. They feed upon fruit and seeds, supplemented by insects in times of scarce food.
Domestic Mouse (Toushiro): The Domestic Mouse is a descendant of the House Mouse, which originated in Southern China. They are small animals and are often used as lab animals or as food for reptiles. They are also kept as pets, though they are much more skittish and less trainable than their larger cousin, the Fancy Rat. With proper handling however, they are perfectly capably of becoming good pets. They range widely in color, with white being the most common.
Fancy Rat (Unohana): The Fancy Rat is the domesticated form of the Brown Rat. They are called Fancy Rats because people who own rats are said to 'fancy' them. Fancy Rats make excellent pets, as they are clean, social, intelligent, and affectionate. They come in hundreds of colorations, with the most common being the 'hooded' variety in which the head and a stripe down the back is one color and the rest is white. They are intelligent and highly trainable, making them ideal family pets.
Fox Squirrel (Rangiku): The largest of the American squirrels, this species is common throughout forests as well as in urban and suburban environments. Their coloration is best described as brown-gray, with a distinct orangish tinge on their bellies and tails. They feed mainly on nuts such as hickory nuts, acorns, and walnuts. They hoard these nuts, burying them all over the place for later use. Some of these are inevitably forgotten, later growing into trees.
Galah (Yachiru): The Galah is a member of the cockatoo family, though it is often described as a parrot or parakeet. They have a pale grey back, a pink face and chest, and a light pink crest. They are native to Australia, where they are among the most common birds. They are often kept as pets due to their social attitude, though the decision is not to be made lightly as they require dedication and often outlive their owners.
Golden Mouse (Izuru): Golden Mice are medium sized mice that range from four to eight inches long. They live in thick woodlands and swampy areas, often with a high prevalence of vines and shrubs. They are named for the thick golden fur covering their upper body, although their underside and feet are white and their tail is cream colored. Golden mice have partially prehensile tails. They feed primarily on seeds, notably those of sumac and honeysuckle.
North American Porcupine (Yamamoto): A large rodent that lives in North America. They are most common in coniferous Forests, but are also found in mixed forest, deciduous forests, and shrublands. They have heavily built bodies and are very near-sighted, resulting in them moving quite slowly and awkwardly. They do not throw their quills, but the quills detach easily from the porcupine's skin when they penetrate a predator. Despite their clumsy appearance, they are excellent at climbing trees, and spend much time resting in them. They eat twigs, conifer needles, and bark. They are extremely fond of salt, known to venture close to dangerous roads in search of their favorite treat.
Red Squirrel (Renji): The Red Squirrel is one of the smaller varieties of squirrel, and is reddish brown on top with a white belly. They feed primarily on the seeds from the cones of conifers, notably the white spruce, but also eat mushrooms, needles, and the buds from willow and poplars.
Vole (Rukia): There are over 70 species of Voles that are found around North America, Europe, and Asia. Depending on the species, they range from 3-7 inches long. They feed on seeds, pine needles, clovers, and grasses. They resemble mice but are stouter, have a shorter tail, and have a rounder head and smaller ears.
Momo the Mouse
The boulder seemed to rumble as the earth crumbled away from beneath it. Everyone scattered, not wanting to get in the way of the massive rock. They were all cheering as it began to roll forward, at first slowly and then faster. It went into the ditch they dug earlier and began rolling faster and faster. As it neared the bottom, it hit a smaller rock, and it flew into the air.
The three mice, two squirrels, two rats, parakeet, and vole watched in awe as the enormous rock soared through the air. It crashed into the dam with a thud, and within moments a gurgling sound could be heard. The water began to drain out of the pond at a high rate, the remains of the dam and lodge being swept away by the current. The roaring water cleared away the mud and sticks that dominated the pond's floor, returning it to the nice clean pebbles of the stream. Within a matter of minutes, the stream they had grown up on was back to normal.
Everyone cheered, and Momo and Toushiro put their noses together in a kiss. Kenpachi and Unohana did likewise; and Yachiru, not wanting to be left out, promptly put her beak up to Renji's nose, accidentally biting it. The others laughed as Renji cried out and chased the giggling Yachiru off of him. Their mood had been improved beyond measure.
"Toushiro, I love you," Momo said quietly into Toushiro's ear. Toushiro smiled back.
"I love you too Momo," he whispered. They rubbed their noses together lovingly as everyone cheered.
"Um, excuse me," a voice said timidly. Everyone turned to see Gin the Mink walking up to them, still bruised up from the earlier fight.
"What do you want?" Rukia said coldly.
"Well…I was just, uh, wondering…since I have nowhere else to go, do you think I could hang out with you guys?" he said.
"After what you did?" Rukia said incredulously.
"You think we'd forgive you?" Rangiku said.
"No way!" Renji said.
Gin lowered his head and began to walk off. He seemed very depressed.
"Wait," Momo said, "I think we should give him another chance." Gin turned around in shock.
"What?" Toushiro said in surprise.
"We can't let him stay with us!" Rukia protested.
"It won't work," Izuru said.
Momo faced her friends, a serious look on her face.
"If he wants a second chance we'll give it to him. We'll keep a close eye on him of course, but we should give him a chance," she said.
The others seemed uncertain, not wanting a former enemy to be among them.
"Momo, are you sure?" Toushiro said, "Are you really willing to trust him."
"I'll give him a chance. Besides," a mischievous twinkle appeared in her eyes, "There is something he can do for us in return." The others listened to her idea with smirks on their faces. Gin gulped but did not run away as they agreed on what he would have to do for them in order to be forgiven.
"Come on! Let's go!" Rangiku shouted.
"We're hurrying!" Rukia said.
"If you guys weren't so small you wouldn't have this problem!" Renji laughed.
"Oh, you are going to pay for that!" Momo said playfully.
They were all running through the forest towards their favorite place of play on the stream. Rangiku had gone ahead to make the preparations and had gone back to hurry them up. They ran through the bushes and ferns on the forest floor. Finally they made it to the stream.
"Onto the swing!" Rukia yelled. With that, she leapt off the banks that separated the forest from the edge of the stream and grabbed onto Gin, who was hanging onto an overhanging branch with his teeth. His long body functioned like a rope swing as Rukia used him to propel herself into the water with a big splash. Next came Momo and Toushiro, who went at the same time, flying off into the water together. Renji leapt up and swung forward on Gin, letting go and creating the biggest splash yet.
Everyone had gone except for Rangiku who was too big and Izuru who didn't want to do it. Izuru went off to swim while Rangiku stayed behind to tease Gin a little bit.
"So Gin, how's it hanging?" Rangiku said.
"This is massively degrading," Gin said through gritted teeth.
"Yeah, but this is how you make up for what you've done. Aizen toppled the tree we used to use for jumping off, so now we'll have to use you instead. Don't worry, soon we'll let you join us in our games. Until then though, just hang out here."
"That is so not funny," Gin said. Rangiku flashed him a toothy smile and ran off, joining her friends in the water.
They splashed and played in the water. Rukia decided to get revenge on Rangiku and Renji for calling her small by playing tag with them, using her more agile body to dart around them before they could even move. Izuru and Momo played for a bit as well, with Toushiro diving to the bottom to collect pretty rocks as presents for Momo. They laughed and played for a while before going back to the shore.
They collapsed on the shore, smiling and laughing as they did so. They rested in the sun for a while, enjoying the way the warm rays of the sun dried their fur off. They were just about to go back into the water when a large shadow loomed over them. They looked up to see Aizen standing above them.
"What do you want?" Rukia said angrily.
"Get out of here! We won, you lost; get over it!" Momo said.
"You have no purpose here so leave," Izuru said.
Aizen chuckled loudly, causing them all to back away a little bit.
"I'm here for my revenge on you. That you tiny weakling thought you could defy me was absolutely ridiculous! Since you weren't able to comprehend your place in the natural order, I'll squash you all!" he said, emphasizing his point by slapping his tail on the ground, causing it to shake.
Aizen advanced on them threateningly when a long shape suddenly leapt out at him. Gin the mink was standing between Aizen and the smaller rodents. Aizen seemed annoyed for a moment but then relaxed when he saw that it was Gin.
"Ah, it's good to see you again. Could you give me a hand in punishing these lesser rodents?" Aizen said.
"I'm afraid not," Gin said, "They have accepted me and are actually nicer to me than you ever were, even if I am their rope swing." With that, he leapt forward and latched onto Aizen's nose, his needle-sharp teeth sinking into the tissue that had only just healed from Yamamoto's quills. Aizen cried out in pain, swinging his face around, trying to shake Gin off. When Gin finally let go, he was looking at Aizen defiantly. Aizen stared back at them and growled before running off.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Rangiku went up to Gin and slapped him on the shoulder.
"Great job man! I think you've earned the right to play with us!" She said. The others murmured their agreement.
"R-really?" Gin asked, barely able to believe it, "Thank you!" He ran off with Rangiku, Renji, Rukia, and Izuru towards the stream, but Momo and Toushiro didn't follow. Rangiku stopped and looked back at them.
"Are you guys coming or what?" She said.
"We were actually going to spend a bit of time by ourselves," Momo said.
"Suit yourself!" Rangiku said, running off towards the water.
Momo and Toushiro smiled at eachother and walked into the forest. They went to their new home that they had made after Aizen destroyed Momo's old home. It was a small burrow under a blueberry bush, hidden safely out of sight. They picked a few blueberries before crawling inside.
The place was illuminated by the small amount of light that peaked through the branches of the bush and into the burrow, but that was enough for them. They took the blueberries to their nest of weaved grass, where they cuddled up and nibbled on the berries. When they were finished with the berries, they cuddled up closer, enjoying eachother's presence.
"I love you Momo," Toushiro whispered.
"I love you too Toushiro," Momo replied with a smile.
They rubbed their noses together in a kiss, knowing that nothing could compare to the happiness they now felt.
Thanks for reading! This was the last chapter; I hope you enjoyed it! I'd like to honor everyone who reviewed my story:
Snowy Peach Tsubasa
Yukiko of the Snow
Thank you to everybody listed here; your reviews were really helpful! I'd also like to give special thanks to Merciless Ruby and Snowy Peach Tsubasa, who reviewed every single chapter. It's been a lot of fun writing this story, and I might even decide to make a sequel some day! Please review everyone!