EPILOGUE: WHEN A MAN LOVES A MAN
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...
One Year Later
Ichigo reclined against Grimmjow's chest as they both rested on the newly purchased chaise placed in front of the huge bedroom windows. He was seated between the blue-haired man's legs, a serene grin tugging at the corners of his mouth as he thought of all that had occurred in the past year.
Aizen had tortured Sharp with mind games while the man had been chained to that steel beam, until Aizen had grown tired, and locked the man in a room with himself, Gin, and Grimmjow. Ichigo had been pissed about his broken rib, since it had kept him from joining the others in turning Sharp into a bloody stain on the ground. Which is exactly what happened – or so he was told by a gleeful Grimmjow. They had beaten the man until he was completely unrecognizable and ten steps beyond dead. Damn, Ichigo wished he could've been there for that.
Barragan resumed leadership of the Soul Reapers, and set about bringing them to their former glory instead of being the mindless thugs Sharp had created. He was still the Segundo Espada.
There had also been a few surprising developments with his friends and associates the past twelve months that had left Ichigo speechless.
Starrk went into business with Shinji, making him an official partner of the popular tattoo parlor he owned. Needless to say, Shinji was ecstatic and could always be seen dancing around like an over-active child. He and Starrk were living together and had been for the last six months. Ichigo was happy for them.
Ichigo's group of friends, Chad, Rukia, Ishida and Orihime were still around and attending the university. What shocked the hell out of Ichigo, though, was the news of Ishida and Orihime's engagement and impending baby. All he could do was wish them luck.
Shuuhei had become a close friend of Ichigo's since he had explained the situation to Grimmjow. The blue-haired man hadn't been thrilled, but had accepted the friendship. It also helped that Shuuhei was seeing a guy named Kensei.
Even more surprising was hearing of Renji and Byakuya going to France to get married. Ichigo had been simultaneously overjoyed and envious. However, his happiness for his friend overshadowed the tiny smidgen of envy.
Funnily, Nnoitra and Ulquiorra were still seeing each other, and Ichigo thought that the big, bad Quinto was in denial of his feelings for the petite Cuarto. It made for hilarious entertainment, but he never commented about it aloud.
Yumi got his man. Ichigo had been mortified approaching the stoic Noveno, but trust Grimmjow to pierce through the heart of things. He'd strolled right up to Aaroniero and asked him if he was gay. But what had made Ichigo almost fall over in shock had been the red-haired man's response. He had slowly smiled and nodded. Yumi, who had been waiting near Ichigo, had promptly squealed with delight, walked up to Aaroniero, and looped their arms together. He proceeded to drag the Noveno away, talking animatedly the entire time. Ichigo later heard that Aaroniero had "convinced" Yumi to quit the escort business.
After Sharp's death, Ichigo had moved in with Grimmjow, at the man's insistence, and even though they still argued and bickered like five year-olds, he wouldn't have it any other way. School was going well, although, at times, he found himself missing days whenever his position at Hueco Mundo left him injured or incapacitated.
Ichigo had reintroduced Grimmjow to his old man, this time announcing their romantic status. Isshin had gone on to completely embarrass him by pulling out old photos of Ichigo as a child and having random "Masaki-wailing" moments. God, the fucking horror of it all. Grimmjow had been in stitches, but all-in-all, his family had been pretty accepting of the whole situation.
It seemed everything was going so smoothly, he was almost afraid he would wake up in the morning having dreamed it all. At that moment, Grimmjow stirred behind him and pressed a soft kiss to his neck.
"Ginger," he started, voice a throaty rumble that reverberated into Ichigo's back. "What're ya doin' for the next...um...rest of your life?"
Ichigo wrinkled his nose in confusion. "What're you talkin' about, Grimm?"
"Well...I've been doin' some thinkin', and after seein' your friends do it, I figured...maybe we could too. I mean, I got the money for the trip and all, so..." Grimmjow trailed off, shifting uncomfortably.
Ichigo was so lost, and it was unnerving, because Grimmjow actually sounded anxious and nervous. That, in itself, was fucking rare as hell. He turned to face his lover, gazing into his brilliant, blue eyes.
"Grimm, what's goin' on? What the hell're you talkin' about?"
Grimmjow swallowed, and eased from behind Ichigo, onto the floor in front of him. He reached into his jeans pocket, and clutched something in his right fist, moving too fast for Ichigo to see what it was. With his free hand, he grasped Ichigo's left hand, then gently massaged the slim fingers and deceptively hard knuckles. Ichigo frowned, but his heart suddenly began to race. What was going on?
"Ichigo, I have never felt this strongly about anyone before, and I'm pretty sure that I never will. Yer...you've become everything I could ever want, and...I wanna keep you. For good. Forever. Officially," Grimmjow said, blue eyes beseeching and boring into Ichigo's warm brown. "I fuckin' love you...and...uh...well...shit...I guess..." Grimmjow trailed off and lowered his head as he took a deep breath. Ichigo, on the other hand, was stunned into disbelieving silence. Finally, Grimmjow lifted his head and locked eyes with him again. "Ichigo, will you marry me?" he asked quietly.
Ichigo's heart stalled in his chest. He'd had an idea once Grimmjow had gone down on his knee, but he hadn't wanted to get his hopes up in case the man had been playing an elaborate prank. Ichigo rubbed his mouth, eyes wide as he stared back at Grimmjow. His throat was clogging up, and he was having a really hard time breathing as well as keeping his wits about him. His face burned as a deep blush spread across his cheeks, down his neck, and up over his ears, and his eyes stung painfully.
"Y-you want me? I mean, to m-marry...me?" he asked dumbly. Grimmjow nodded stiffly. "But why?"
"Why not? You don't...you don't wan – I mean, I guess I underst-" Grimmjow said, obviously starting to lose confidence as his gaze dropped to the floor again.
"What?! Shut up! I didn't say that, dumbass! I just..." Ichigo paused to catch his runaway breath. "Hell yes, I'll fuckin' marry you...stupid. I love you."
Grimmjow grinned hugely, and slid a solid, white gold band around Ichigo's ring finger. When he glanced back up at him, Ichigo grabbed the man's shirt collar and pulled him into a fierce kiss, tongues twining lazily.
What more could he ever ask for?
Guh...the fluff is stifling me. Good grief! I didn't realize that this ending was so damned sappy, LoL. Well, anyway, this here is the last chapter of this story! Thanks to those who were rereading and double thanks to those who reading for the first time! I hope you all enjoyed it!