Naturalist: My Jaguar

Grimmjow stares straight ahead, eyes unfocused and wide in shock. In his mind, he replays those words over and over again. Those words he never thought he'd hear, never thought anyone could utter. Chess is sitting before him, the two lounging around the stairs to a new home he's been building to pass time, his head tilted in question as his paw itches to bat the far too still male on the nose. Finally, Grimmjow wakes to the presence of Yorouchi.

"What's the matter, Grimmy?" she asks.

"… Nothing. It's nothing to be worried about."

"It's Ichigo, isn't it? Has someone found interest in him?"

"He wouldn't do that, he'll come home."

"Grimmy, he's more human than you are. You can go years without a human companion, but Ichigo is a very social person that needs affection. He won't wait for you forever."

"He will."

"He may love you… but you loved Lyre, didn't you? In her absence, you found others."

"She was dead!" Grimmjow hisses. "She was never coming back!"

"Can't you see things from his point of view? He doesn't think you're ever going to go get him, you've abandoned him, you don't love him enough," Yorouchi huffs. "He's going through a tough break up, Grimmjow, and what happens to females when they get dumped?"

"They go insane?"

"No, Grimm, they rebound."

"… I'd rather he go insane."

"You'd better get to China and fast! Unless, of course, you don't mind someone else mounting your female," the exotic woman waves off.

"… Come on, Chess."

*Where are we going? * the little jaguar wonders.

"Mommy's being stupid and needs us to stop him from submitting to an alpha that isn't me."

*Are we going fast? *

"Yep. Come here, you little shit."

He picks up the small cub, letting Chess nestle into his arms before they both vanish in a sprinkling of light. Yorouchi sighs, wondering exactly how her little cub is going to coax Ichigo back to him when he's never apologized in his life. She would go spy of course, but someone needs to watch over the jungle… and if she did she would be tempted to intervene for Grimmjow's sake. She simply can't do that all the time, her cub has to grow up eventually.

Ichigo is excited about his date, tearing through his clothes to find something nice to wear. It's been at least three months since he last date, not counting what happened with Grimmjow… even he's not stupid enough to think that could be considered a date. Renji still hasn't talked to him, furious he would even think to give up on Grimmjow.

"Ichigo," Renji sighs. "There's something I have to tell you, but I don't want you to get angry with me, okay?"

"Are you in love with Shuuhei?" Ichigo wonders cautiously.

"No, I'm in love with Byakuya!" the redhead frowns. "You know that. What I have to tell you is… pretty bad. I mean, your reaction would normally be extremely off the handle. Just… don't be mad."

"Okay, I'll do my best."

"Pantera's been calling me to see how you've been doing."

"… What?"

"I'm really sorry, Ichi, but… he sounded so worried about you. It's like, he knew you almost got hit by a car. He was frantic. He texted me before that, but… he started calling after that," he explains. "He really cares about you, he's just… really, really stubborn. I've been trying to get him to understand your point of view, I think he's coming around…"

"Don't," Ichigo growls. "Don't defend him. He broke my heart, Ren! He's not coming. Please, I don't want to think about him while I'm on my date."

"Just… don't do anything stupid. And remember, never put out on the first date," the redhead sighs. "Even if you're mad at your ex and want to get back at him, never put out on the first date or you'll regret it. You don't know if Shuuhei's just trying to get in your pants like the ones before Pantera."

"… What does it matter."

"It will if he comes to get you and he finds out you were with someone else."

"He's not coming," Ichigo whispers sadly. "I have to go."

Ichigo meets Shuuhei downstairs, the raven surprised at his sudden appearance though he doesn't say anything. He wraps an arm around Ichigo's waist and leads him out the door, grinning like mad as he chats away. It's not as easy as it was with Grimmjow, he's not as untamed as Grimmjow, but he's someone Ichigo could learn to love. He's surprised when he's led to a picnic in a forested area, a place close to the preserve and still well away from the animals there. It's perfect in Ichigo's opinion… like a compromise between nature and humans.

"I know how much you like nature," Shuuhei smiles sweetly. "I mean… everyone does. I like it as well, but I'm more of a fast food and city life kind of guy. I figured this would be nice, right? A picnic near the city and still within the trees?"

"Thank you, Shuu," Ichigo grins with tears in his eyes. "This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!"

"… Are you okay?" Shuuhei asks cautiously. "We can go someplace else if you'd like."

"No! It's not that, it's just… no one's ever wanted to compromise for me before."

"Can't imagine why, it's not that hard," the raven murmurs while scratching his head.

Ichigo gives him a heartbreaking smile and seems to light up in the dark, stealing away Shuuhei's breath before he returns it. They sit and each the simple dinner Shuuhei had the hotel cook make, talking easily like long lost friends.

"Hey! Did you know there's a temple around here?" Shuuhei wonders excitedly.

"No… who's temple?"

"They say it's a god of panthers," the raven grins widely. "It's the only god to be worshiped all over the world, he's got temples all over the place."

"… You've got to be shitting me," Ichigo mutters flatly. "Do you know his name?"

"Yeah, it's Pantera! They say he actually still walks among humans today, isn't that crazy?"

"… Yeah… crazy."

"What's wrong? You seem like you know him or something."

"I've… actually met him. Before here I did some work for Byakuya Kuchiki. There was a temple no one could get to in a huge jungle with a legend of a white panther spirit. I went there initially for that, but then found out they were going to destroy the place. I went in and painted the temple and took pictures so I could trade them to Byakuya for the deed to the lands."

"No way! And you met Pantera?"

"He was the spirit panther that kept people away from the temple."

"Awesome! No one is allowed around the temple here, because it's in the middle of the preserve."

"Hey… you said he's worshiped all over the world?"

"Yeah."

"How? I mean… how did his name get out?"

"Apparently, there are legends that said he traveled a lot during his earlier days as a god," Shuuhei grins. "He spread knowledge about nature and helped out a lot of humans with wild animal problems. Eventually, however, humans started getting seriously greedy and tried to use him to spread their territory and destroy the nature and animals around them. He stopped traveling after that and stayed near an old village of humans that refused to modernize."

Ichigo nods at that, realizing just how much Grimmjow has seen and learned in his many years. He really loves the man, but… he's still so trapped in the old ways. They continue with their chatting, Grimmjow always on the edge of Ichigo's mind. It's about the end of their date when the artist feels something is wrong, shaking it off as Shuuhei holds his hand while they head back to the hotel.

"I had so much fun, Shuu," Ichigo says with a blush. "Thank you."

"No problem!" the raven grins. "I enjoyed your company. So, have you figured out where you're off to next?"

"… No, not really. I really don't want to go yet."

"Not because of me, I hope."

"… Maybe," Ichigo mutters shyly.

"I'm not going anywhere, you know," Shuuhei chuckles. "I'll still be here when you get done with your next masterpiece… that is… if you'd be willing to come back here."

"Shuu…"

"I mean, you'd only be gone a week or two at the most, right?" he babbles nervously. "That's not too long, I can wait if I have to… or… I could tag along? I know Renji must get pretty lonely all by himself…"

"Shuuhei," Ichigo laughs. "Calm down."

"S-sorry."

With a beautiful smile, the orangette pulls the raven closer and kisses him softly. Shuuhei relaxes in an instant, tugging Ichigo's waist to meld their bodies together and deepen the kiss. Suddenly, the gravity around them seems to weigh heavier and a threatening animalistic growl sends shivers of fear through them.

"Gee, so glad to see you have some self control," Grimmjow snarls.

"G-Grimmjow," Ichigo gasps. "You… but… why are… You weren't coming!"

"Who the hell is this?" Shuuhei wonders.

"Chess, go retrieve your mommy so we can talk."

The jaguar cub nods sharply, hopping down from Grimmjow's shoulders where he was perched. Shuuhei is dumbstruck as the cub slinks around him and tugs on Ichigo's pant leg, forcing him to stumble over to Grimmjow. Afterward, the cub bats at Ichigo's leg with a yowl of anger. Ichigo's eyes are wide in shock as words tumble into his brain.

*You abandoned me! * Chess hisses. *And you left me with him! Do you have any idea how bad he is with cubs? I was stuck with the she-panthers the whole time! You better have gotten me something nice, mommy! I won't forgive you if you don't get me a nice present! *

"Ichigo, we need to talk," Grimmjow frowns. "Tell your… rebound… to go away."

"Rebound? Who the hell are you to call me that!" Shuuhei bristles. "And I'm not leaving until I drop Ichigo off at his room."

Renji appears from the doorway of the hotel, nervous at the sight of Grimmjow's glowing cyan orbs of fury. He grips Shuuhei's upper arm and tugs gently, forcing him to follow and leaving Ichigo with the enraged god. Once they're alone, Grimmjow sends Chess off to 'watch the rebound' and turns on his 'female'.

"What the hell were you thinking!" he snaps.

"… I missed you so much!" Ichigo bawls as he hugs his mate. "I thought you were never coming for me! I thought you didn't love me and just let me go to die!"

Grimmjow is startled by the reaction, but slowly lifts a hand to stroke orange silk and wraps an arm around his mate's slim waist. He lets Ichigo cry, whispering assurances and holding him close. Finally, after what seems hours and was possibly only a few minutes, the tears subside and Ichigo yanks himself away to dry his eyes with a scowl.

"D-don't think I'll just f-follow you wherever you say!" Ichigo sniffles. "I w-want my apology!"

"First tell me what you were thinking kissing a guy that isn't me!"

"… You weren't c-coming back for me."

"You're the one that left me, Ichigo," Grimmjow bristles. "Why should I tuck my tail and whimper over to you, huh?"

"Y-you're serious?" Ichigo shouts. "You really don't want to apologize?"

"I didn't say that!"

"So where's my apology?"

Grimmjow sighs, running a hand through teal locks as he eyes the smaller male before him. God how he loves this feisty orangette, how he'd do anything to make him happy… but apologize? For being who he is and acting how he's always acted?

"… I'm sorry," he mutters. "But I'm not sorry for what I did."

"What?"

"I'm sorry for not being able to understand you, or make you happy, or give in easier. That's no who I am, I've always been difficult and domineering," the panther god sighs. "I'm trying, I really am. I don't know what you want from me and you're too hard for me to read."

"Then just listen," Ichigo states in exasperation. "Is that so hard to do? I tell you exactly what I want, Grimm, you just have to listen!"

"… I'm listening now."

"Oh sure, just because I kissed another guy now you'll listen!" Ichigo snaps. "You know, Shuuhei gave me everything you wouldn't without me even saying anything!"

Grimmjow flinches at that, a soft growl leaving his lips that Ichigo knows to be jealousy. He softens at it, stretching to nuzzle his mate's neck affectionately without even thinking about it. Grimmjow's growls turns into a purr, his lips dropping to touch Ichigo's softly.

"I want to stay with you forever, Grimm," Ichigo whispers. "But it's not fair to ask me to give up my human life to make you happy. I would gladly do so… but not when you refuse to give up anything yourself."

"You're right, I'm sorry," Grimmjow sighs as he breaths in Ichigo's scent. "I guess compromise is just something new I'll have to get used to. I can't promise I'll get used to it quickly, but I'll try."

"Thank you, that's all I want."

"I love you, Ichi."

"I love you, too, Grimm," Ichigo sighs happily before frowning. "Hey, Grimm?"

"Yeah?"

"Would really have let me die of depression if I hadn't of found someone else?"

"What are you talking about? You wouldn't have died of depression… or anything else for that matter," Grimmjow snorts in humor. "Yorouchi didn't tell you, obviously. She intervened on our last night together, you've completed the change."

"… I what?"

"Well, not completely. You still have to find your new form, since you're obviously a feline type. You'll be able to change back and forth like me once you do."

Ichigo nods numbly, hearing but not exactly registering as the other speaks to him. The only thing he getting through to his mind is the fact he's not human anymore, which sends said mind into a meltdown. Grimmjow notices this and sighs, gently leading the artist to his room where he can speak with the redhead that's been keeping him informed. Shuuhei is in the room, arguing with Renji as Chess hisses and spits in anger. The cub has taken up a perch on the bed to seem bigger than what he really is, making Grimmjow chuckle at the thought of the cub being so much like himself and Ichigo. At the sound, Chess stops and looks at him to mewl and the two humans turn their attention along with the cub.

"Finally!" Renji bristles. "Is is so much to ask for a simple apology?"

"Apologies aren't simple," Grimmjow frowns. "Anyone could say they're sorry, the trick is actually meaning it."

"Are you two good again?"

"Yeah, we're good. I apologized and we're working on an agreement now. This compromise shit is for the birds," the panther god huffs. "People didn't used to do this shit with their mates back in my day."

"Welcome to the modern day dating game."

"Ichigo?" Shuuhei asks cautiously. "Are you alright? He didn't hurt you?"

"Why the hell would I hurt my lover?"

Renji opens his mouth to interject, yet the sharp glare from Grimmjow has him snapping it shut once more. Shuuhei isn't about to let this other man take away his new boyfriend, although they haven't exactly agreed to a relationship yet. He stands as straight as possible, glaring heatedly as he reaches over to pull Ichigo away from Grimmjow.

"That would be the biggest mistake of your life," Grimmjow snarls with a purely animalistic growl.

"Shuuhei, just let him go," Renji sighs. "You don't want to piss off Pantera."

"… You want to run that by me again?"

"Ichigo met Pantera in the jungle," the redhead sighs. "He's Pantera's mate. They got in an argument and Ichigo left until Pantera could apologize… he never intended to give up on his lover, Shuuhei, he was just rebounding from a nasty argument."

"I'm sorry, Shuuhei," Ichigo murmurs with tears in his eyes. "I didn't mean to hurt you, but I thought Grimmjow wasn't going to come get me. I'm so sorry."

Shuuhei watches as those tears make lines down the orangette's cheeks, already feeling guilty for making him cry. He knows Ichigo was most likely rebounding, that's why he moved in so fast. The most vulnerable time is the best to act, so there's always the chance of getting hurt. He really likes Ichigo, he knows that as well, but he doesn't love him like the panther god is sure to.

"It's okay, Ichigo," he states with a smile. "I'm not upset with you, I'm just… hurt that it couldn't work out. I sort of figured you were looking for a rebound, those are normally the type I go after. My ex was the same, but she decided it wasn't gonna work out and tried to find another. I don't have any hard feelings for her or you… Still friends?"

"Yeah," Ichigo smiles through his tears.

"I should've known something was off by the way your eyes glowed in the dark," the raven points out wistfully. "Are you a god, too?"

"He's a new god," Grimmjow states proudly. "We've yet to figure out which one, though."

That night, Renji sleeps peacefully in his bed while Ichigo curls up next to Grimmjow in his own. Chess is sleeping on the teal haired male's stomach, Ichigo's sprawled on his chest. After a bit, the jaguar cub gets booted by the orangette, who's trying to get as close to his mate as possible in his sleep. Chess grumbles, but hops down and heads over to Renji's bed. The redhead is woken by the heavy weight that presses on his back, brown eyes full of panic before a tail smacks him in the face. He growls and turns, dumping the cub on the bed beside him and tossing an arm over Chess's silky fur to sleep. He's about to go back to sleep when he hears Ichigo stir.

"Chess?" he mumbles sleepily. "Grimm, where's Chess?"

"Hopefully outside."

"We're in China!" the younger snaps.

"… Oh… right… Hopefully on the floor."

Chess mewls from Renji's bed, though the redhead still pretends to sleep. He can hear Ichigo shift against the blankets, hears Grimmjow growl in annoyance at the unwanted movement.

"He's with Renji," Ichigo states in satisfaction.

"Wonderful, go back to sleep."

"… Maybe I should get Renji a pet for his birthday."

"For the love of Yorouchi, Ichi," Grimmjow hisses. "Lay your ass down and go to sleep!"

"Sorry, but… I'm just… restless."

"I hadn't noticed."

Ichigo sits up, drawing his knees close to his chest as he sets his chin on them. With a reluctant sigh, Grimmjow follows and drapes his body along his mate's back. He can feel the purr from Ichigo as well as he can hear it, humming his pleasure at the sound before nibbling on the orangette's ear.

"Hmm… What happens after this?"

"I'm hoping you'll come back with me."

"Why?"

"… I have a present for you."

"A present? What present?"

"It's a surprise."

Ichigo groans in annoyance, the redhead smirking at the sound. His best friend has always hated surprises, so Renji always teased him with them whenever he got the chance. Ichigo turns around to straddle his mate's legs, pouting cutely as he wraps his arms around Grimmjow's neck.

"Nope, that's not gonna help. And don't ask Chess, either, because he already promised not to tell. You'll just have to wait."

"Fine," Ichigo huffs. "I'll go back with you, but then you have to visit my family in Karakura."

"… Traveling? To modern cities?"

"It's a small town, but yes."

"I don't know, Ichi…"

"Grimmjow Jaegerjaques!" Ichigo hisses in warning. "I don't see what the big problem is, apparently you got around a lot in your younger days… like all over the world, a lot."

"Who told you such lies," Grimmjow snorts before Ichigo's hits him upside the head. "Ouch!"

"You have a temple in the preserve here!" Ichigo growls. "Don't lie to me, mister!"

"You're so violent," the panther god mutters before grinning feral. "Be careful, Kitten, or you just might turn me on."

"Trust me, if you get turned on I'll ruin your chances for reproduction… the painful way."

"… Dully noted," he murmurs nervously. "Okay, look. We'll go visit your family, go home for your surprise, and figure out what to do from there. Sound good?"

"… Yeah."

"Now go to sleep."

Renji can hear them resituating themselves in bed, soon falling asleep across the room. He cuddles closer to Chess without thinking about it, sighing in content before also passing out. It's been a long day for them all, so their sleep is deep and undisturbed.

Karakura is a place Grimmjow wouldn't mind visiting more often, as it's filled with only small houses and many people. He could do without the cars and pollutants, maybe with a few more plants and trees, but all in all he likes it. He keeps Ichigo close as they walk through the streets, Renji having been called to meet with Byakuya while on the jet… an experience Ichigo will tease Grimmjow about for a long while to come. Chess, surprisingly enough, asked to accompany Renji. It turns out he's grown rather fond of the redhead, shadowing him like a lost puppy at times.

"This is my dad's place," Ichigo smiles. "He runs a clinic connected to the house… my sisters live here as well, they're twins."

Grimmjow nods in understanding as Ichigo opens the door, two younger females hurrying out to hug him before the trio immediately dive for cover. Grimmjow, having not been warned beforehand, is greeted with a flying kick halted by him hard and muscular chest. He doesn't budge an inch, a fine brow raising in question as a raven haired male falls to the ground.

"That's a fairly strong brick wall you have there, my beautiful son," Isshin states energetically. "Is this the man you told me was coming? The one that fulfills your deepest uke desires?"

"Dad! I never said anything of the sort!"

"Sounds about right though," Grimmjow chuckles.

"You shut up! I don't need you two ganging up on me."

Grimmjow absolutely loves Ichigo's family, wondering why the hell he waited so long to get out and meet new people in this age. His father is spastic and completely insane, Yuzu is so sweet and kind, and Karin makes the panther god's favorite list really fast. He just loves her attitude, so much like her older brother's. Ichigo is relieved to see that his family is also liking his mate, though he's nervous about telling them everything… he never keeps secrets from his family.

"Guys… there's something I have to tell you," Ichigo murmurs as they all sit together after dinner. "You see… something happened on my trip to find that white panther…"

"Ichigo," Grimmjow growls in warning.

"I'm sorry, Grimm, I have to tell them," Ichigo almost pouts. "I mean, we tell each other everything."

"… Fine, but only because they're your family. Next time, you damn well better give me a heads up," he scowls.

"What's going on, Ichi-nii?" Yuzu asks.

"I don't want you guys to think I'm crazy, but…"

Soon enough the whole story is pouring from his lips, the orangette editing everything to be more PG13 for his sisters. Grimmjow snickers when he attempts to twist around things that were definitely not rated anywhere close to that, watching his mate's frustration build as he stumbles along to the finish line. Finally, he stops and hangs his head in wait. The girls are wide eyed and in shock, though the panther god notes that Isshin is wearing a more curious expression.

"… I've heard of Pantera," he states. "Your mother was an archeology major before she got pregnant with you, so she always loved reading about old gods and legends."

"Do something cool, so we know you're not screwing with Ichi-nii's head," Karin demands. "He's really gullible, you know."

"Trust me, I had the most fun in ages messing with him during our first trip," Grimmjow cackles. "But, if you insist on something cool…"

He stands and walks a few steps away, his body shimmering before they're staring at a white panther. He stalks about a few times, purring loudly before leaping at Ichigo just for the hell of it. The orangette shouts as he's attacked by the panther's full weight, falling backwards over the couch and landing on his back with Grimmjow pinning him. The feline licks his face, Ichigo struggling beneath him as he curses a rainbow.

"Now that's cool," Karin laughs.

*Thank you, * Grimmjow purrs, his voice seeming to carry on the wind.

He turns back, Ichigo still beneath him and sulking after his little bath. Isshin notices the strange paw print on Ichigo's neck, the glowing mark slowly vanishing once more as Grimmjow pulls away. He can't help but think that Masaki would be proud her child is the mate of a god, although she would be iffy about leaving Ichigo alone with the overly masculine feline.

"Oh, there's one more thing," Ichigo blushes. "Apparently, because I've gone through this change thing to be with Grimmjow forever… well… I'm sort of a god, too. Yorouchi said she made me special, because Grimmjow is her favorite."

"We're still trying to figure out what sort of god he is."

"A good one, I hope," Karin scoffs.

"A beautiful one," Yuzu grins as Ichigo blushes.

"Both very good observations, though I like the second one better. He'd make a lovely queen, don't you think?"

Ichigo's face burns brighter, though he quickly realizes it's more from fever than anything else. He weakly pushes against Grimmjow's chest, his eyes getting unfocused as his head spins. The panther god turns his attention back to his distressed mate, a frown tugging at his lips at the look on Ichigo's face.

"You feeling okay?" he asks.

"N-no… I'm dizzy."

His eyes are lighting up gold, his body breaking out in a sweat, and Grimmjow carefully stands to move Ichigo into a comfortable area. He's about to ask his father to check him over, when the hair on the back of his neck stands up and he knows they're not alone.

"Yorouchi," he mutters without turning around.

"Why don't you ever call me mommy?" the woman atop the entertainment stand pouts.

"It's time, isn't it?"

"Yep! That's why I'm here," she grins. "Oh, I just can't wait to usher another cub into the family!"

"… We're still talking about Ichigo's change, right?"

"Uh… yeah, sure, that sounds good," she says nervously. "Why? What did you think I was talking about?"

"This won't be difficult for him, will it?" Isshin wonders nervously.

"No, of course not. It's just a little fever and cold sweat, and then he'll black out a few minutes."

"G-Grimm," Ichigo pants. "Don't leave me."

"Never, Ichi, I'll stay right here."

Ichigo's body shimmers for a moment, crystalline specks of vibrant colors sparkling on his skin as he turns to light. The light shifts ever so slowly, gathering once more to leave behind another form… a jaguar. Grimmjow can only stare for a long moment, taking in the silken fur and long twitching tail.

"Well… that explains why Chess thought Ichi was his mommy," he mumbles.

"Oh! Isn't he just beautiful?" Yorouchi coos. "What a splendid feline he makes. Don't you agree, Grimmy? Grimm? Hello! Earth to my cub!"

Grimmjow is just staring, eyes clouded and filled with lust. Yorouchi immediately punches him, sending him to the floor and out of his trance. The girls are surprised, watching in completely confusion as Grimmjow sits up and holds his jaw.

"Ouch! What the hell was that for?"

"Don't you dare even think about mounting him right now!" she snaps. "He's unconscious, he's in a form he's not used to, and there are children present!"

"I wasn't!"

"You liar. If you can't control your feline hormones, go outside and sit."

"But…"

"Now!"

With a pout, Grimmjow sends one last look toward his slumbering mate and then marches outside before he's abused anymore. He learned long ago that Yorouchi was the type of mother who practiced tough love when it was needed, so he tries to make certain it's not. It's not two hours later that Isshin asks him to come back inside, as Ichigo is awake and having some strange feline panic attack. Grimmjow doesn't wait to be told twice, diving into the house and changing form halfway there. His larger panther form rubs up against his mate, curling around him as he entwines their tails and licks his head.

*You were right, I'm gonna be stuck as a cat forever! * Ichigo cries.

*No, Ichi, this is your feline form, * he assures. *Tomorrow you'll be back to normal and we'll go home for a bit of recuperation time, okay? *

Hesitantly, Ichigo nods and lays down against Grimmjow's side. That night, the two large felines lay comfortably as Ichigo's family camps out in the living room. Grimmjow doesn't sleep much, too riled from Ichigo's distress and fear that soaks through both of them even in his sleep. He's still wide awake when the sun starts to peek over the horizon, stirring Ichigo as he slowly changes back into his human form. Grimmjow does the same, gripping his mate tightly to him as he whispers reassuring comments to soothe the orangette.

"Ichi-nii, you're back to normal!" Yuzu cheers.

"Too bad," Karin sighs dejectedly. "I really wanted a cool pet like a jaguar."

"Sorry, kiddo," Grimmjow laughs. "Human or feline, Ichigo would've come with me."

"Grimm… I don't ever want to change like that again," Ichigo huffs. "My skin still feels all pins and needles, I don't like it one bit."

"You'll get used to it, Ichi," he smiles. "Trust me, after a few times you won't feel a thing. Besides, there are some pluses to being feline in the jungle."

Ichigo huffs, but allows the hand that runs through his hair and draws a purr from his chest. After breakfast and a quick shower, the two are saying their goodbyes as they head to Byakuya's office to pick up Chess. The whole way there, Ichigo is constantly looking over his shoulder and running a hand through his hair. When asked, he tells Grimmjow he just wants to be sure nothing was left being.

"Hey, Berry!" Renji grins as Byakuya lays an arm around his shoulders. "Come to pick up your fur ball?"

"Yes, and then I'm heading back to the jungle… want to come?"

"Uh… I'm gonna take a few weeks off," Renji blushes with a glance to the raven. "If you don't mind, that is."

"That'll be fine," the panther god answers. "Ichi needs some downtime as well to get used to things, it might take a month depending on how well he adjusts."

*Mommy! Daddy! * Chess cries out as he rushes over. *I like that redhead, he's funny! *

"Sorry, Chess, it's time to go home," Ichigo smiles. "Say good bye to Renji, okay?"

*He's not coming, too? *

"No, he's not. He has to stay with his own mate," Ichigo smirks slyly.

*… Can I stay with them? *

"Uh… Renji, Chess wants to know if he can stay with you two," he questions.

"I thought he was your little baby," the other teases.

"Well… he's actually old enough to be adopted out," Grimmjow muses. "I mean, if you're looking at housecat years. He'll always see Ichigo as his mom, but if he wants you to be his master…"

"Byakuya?"

"… Anything you want, I'm just happy to have you back."

"Wicked!" Renji cheers. "Come on, Chess, let's get going."

*Bye, Mommy! Bye, Daddy! *

Ichigo and Grimmjow wave to their cub as he romps after Renji, the redhead grinning widely as he's leapt at and kissed. Byakuya sends Ichigo a look he knows all too well… he'll be expecting an explanation, complete truth, and a call every week. Grimmjow wraps an arm around his mate's waist, their bodies disappearing right before the stunned raven. When Ichigo opens his eyes again, his stomach a mess of nausea from the strange way of travel, he's in the jungle within the meadow. The accursed stream that has it out for him is right beside them, making it's way lazily… toward a small house. The house is almost exactly like the tree house, but built on the ground. Ichigo's eyes are wide and his mouth is hanging open in surprise, Grimmjow leading him in so he can see everything. He's completely baffled to see that this place is furnished with a mix between natural and modern, the kitchen being mostly modern, with running water.

"How… this is… how did you do this?"

"Oh please," Grimmjow snorts in humor. "I can make a phone call half a world away without even owning a phone, you think this is difficult?"

"But…"

"There are perks to being a god, Ichi," he grins. "One is making the impossible, very possible."

"… This is for me?"

"Yep, this is your surprise, my jaguar," he grins. "This is our home, sort of a compromise between my world and yours… do you like it?"

"I love it! Thank you so much, Grimm, it's perfect!"

"Oh, but you haven't seen the best part," he chuckles as he opens a door at the end of the hall.

Ichigo walks in and gasps in shock, the room holding all sorts of painting things as the sun shines in the ceiling to floor windows. The view is amazing and Ichigo knows he'll never get tired of it, the orangette flinging himself at the panther god as he kisses him all over his face. Maybe forever won't be such a bad thing after all.