Countdown: 0

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! XD Okay, instead of a wonderful conversation with the characters I'm going to ask my wonderful readers for their opinion. I'm having trouble naming the characters for 'Asylum of the Damned'. Well, not so much the first names... just the last names. I figured I could give you the names and you can tell me if they even make sense or flow well. And no I didn't realize I used Rose as Mila Rose's character's last name until I just wrote it ^^;

Rune Coven (that's Ichigo ;p)... Owen Brighton (Uryu)... Luna Sitara (Sun-Sun)... Yuki Knox (Toshiro)

Clovis Coven (Kisuke)... Ethan Vila (Shuuhei)... Chione Wills (Yorouchi)... Fone Torrell (Lilinette)

Sunil Delany (Shiro)... Nyx Reva (Apache)... Xue Fang (Soi Fon)... Donald Pranet (Yamamoto)

Thane Day (Grimmjow)... Autumn Cascada (Nelliel)... Ryder Varro (Renji)... Devin Dark (Kurotsuchi)

Ryuu Brant (Nnoitra)... Aria Valentine (Unohana)... Tamesis Pavel (Ulquiorra)

Drake Adan (Stark)... Wren Posy (Rukia)... Raz Alvar (Hallibel)

Chase Wilhelm (Chad)... Scarlett Rose (Mila Rose)... Keme Belle (Orihime)

Just so you know, I had that spaced out all orderly and easy to read. When I saved it all rammed into one another *pout* I hope you can still read them. I've made bold the ones I wasn't sure about. If anything, just comment on them, okay? I don't understand why you need last names on characters... you only use them a couple times tops =( Oh! And please don't use any of these names, that wouldn't be very moralistic of you.

Chapter 24

Ichigo has gotten rid of his cast and settled back into life with Grimmjow… but he's just not the same. His personality has reverted back to before his therapy, yet his loss of Shiro's presence has Ichigo in a mild depression. It's something akin to what he felt when with his ex-boyfriends, so Grimmjow is being affected by it as well. He wants nothing more than to make Ichigo happy.

"Hey, Kitten," Grimmjow murmurs as he enters the back room.

Ichigo's just gotten out of his walking cast a few days ago, so while he was in it the two spent time redecorating. The unused guest room has been converted into an office for Ichigo, with a hideaway bed for when Lilinette stays over. She hasn't gotten to yet, but now that Ichigo is free to move around unhindered she will. Ichigo looks up from the drawing desk curiously; the dark circles beneath his eyes the only indication of something wrong.


"I got a surprise for you," Grimmjow smiles widely. "Well… two surprises… unless you count one as two…"

"Grimmjow," Ichigo smiles. "You didn't have to get me anything."

"It's for us both. My last couple fights brought in a lot of money," he starts. "And I thought it would be nice if we both just took some time to relax, so… what do you say to a little trip?"

Ichigo turns to face Grimmjow completely, curiosity swimming in tired eyes. Grimmjow hadn't mentioned their upcoming anniversary, so he doubts Ichigo remembered. This trip will be good for them both. When the blue haired man says nothing more, Ichigo can't help but ask for details.

"Where are we going?"

"I was thinking a nice cruise to some rather inviting islands," Grimmjow comments playfully. "And that's only half of your gift."

"… Gift? What am I getting a gift for?"

"Well… it's our anniversary soon," the other states. "It's no big deal, just another way to spoil you without guilt."

Ichigo is downtrodden he forget, it's easy to see on his features. Grimmjow tries to amend the problem quickly, yet all the assurances in the world aren't making the orange head feel any better. Though Grimmjow says it's not a big deal, and it may not be to him… it's a big deal to Ichigo. He's never celebrated an anniversary with his other beaus. He barely listens to the larger male's plans, just nodding his head while falling deep into his own thoughts. He needs to figure out something to do for Grimmjow. The thought has a sharp pain striking his heart, as Shiro would normally help him with these things.

"Ichigo? Are you okay?" Grimmjow asks cautiously.

"Grimmjow… I want Shiro back. I can't stand the dead silence around me when I'm alone anymore. I just… I need him back!"

"Ichi, we went over this with Hallibel and Nelliel," the blue haired man informs gently. "Shiro is gone, you can't get him back. Even if you went through the same therapy, which was banned shortly after Mayuri experimented with it on you, there's absolutely zero guarantee Shiro will be the one to develop. You have to learn how to live without him."

"… I know, but… I really miss him."

"Ichigo, you never needed him. He was you, just a more aggressive you. He came because you were holding back, pretending to be something you're not. If you want to be with him again, just be yourself. No holds barred, no barriers on your personality, just… let go. That's all he ever wanted."

Ichigo looks away from Grimmjow, yet knows he's right. Shiro will never be with him again, but he can honor the memory of his lost personality by living the way he should've to begin with. it'll take some time to stop pausing to listen for the other, to get used to the silence he never endured with Shiro, and to cast aside this depression from finally being alone… but with Grimmjow's help, Ichigo can find a way.

"What's the other half of my present?" Ichigo asks after a moment.

"We'll need to go on a little walk for that."

Unable to concentrate on his work anymore… he was just doodling on the paper anyway… Ichigo stands and heads to the living room. He pulls on a light jacket and follows Grimmjow out. The two of them stroll through the city in companionable silence, Ichigo fighting to get used to the quiet. Seeing the frustration within the orange head's eyes, Grimmjow pulls a small device out of his pocket.

"Here, this should help with the lack of noise," he comments. "I know how much of a chatterbox Shiro was."

"… Thank you."

Ichigo takes the ipod from the other, turning it on and keeping the volume low within his ears. It's just enough to occupy his mind without drowning out the world around him… background noise, just like Shiro. It's a relief and stress seems to melt off Ichigo's tense muscles. Grimmjow is glad to see his wife relaxing just a bit, as the orange head has been so wound up since realizing he's lost Shiro.

They walk a good while before Grimmjow pulls Ichigo into a store. It's noisy with the sounds of animals, Ichigo catching that it's a pet store just as they walk in. Puppies are barking at a display of caged birds not far from them, kittens are mewling at a large fish tank… it brings warmth to Ichigo and he hasn't even noticed the large grin on his lips. Grimmjow pulls him back to the kittens, always having been a cat person himself.

"Choose one," he states. "And I'll choose one as well, so yours has a friend to keep it occupied."

"Oh, Grimmjow! They're so adorable," Ichigo gushes. "I can have any one?"

"Any one you want, Kitten. As for me… I'll take that little shit over there."

The larger male carefully lifts a tiny white kitten with black paws, ears, and tip of the tail up. It hisses and swaps its little bitty paw at Grimmjow in an attempt at being vicious, yet only draws laughter from the blue haired man. Ichigo scans the small kittens, noting how Grimmjow's choice is about as big as his palm. His eyes fall on a small little orange tabby in the corner, the kitten pouncing on those close to it and being particularly annoying. With a light smile, Ichigo lifts the ball of fur into his hands.

"I want this one," he states. "I'll call him Kon."

"I'd call this one Pantera, but if my mom found out she'd kill me," Grimmjow murmurs sheepishly. "Last time I got a kitten with a bad attitude and named it after her… she kicked my ass and ruined five relationships before she was content with my punishment."

"… It needs a name any way."

"Since you miss Shiro so much, Ichigo… why don't we just call it that?" the blue haired man wonders. "I mean… at least you'll always have a Shiro with you, you know?"

"… You're the sweetest man I have ever met, Grimmjow Jaegerjaques," Ichigo grins. "I will never love another more than I love you!"

Grimmjow replies to the compliment by kissing Ichigo chastely on the lips, nipping his bottom lip in a silent promise for play later. He takes both kittens into his hands, mainly because little Shiro is searching to harm Ichigo, and the two look around the store to gather necessities for them. By the time they leave, they've lavished their pets with more toys than a first time parent buys their baby. Ichigo is the first to notice this.

"Hmm," he hums. "Perhaps we went a little overboard."

"Probably," Grimmjow shrugs. "But why not? These are our babies now! The only children we'll need until one of us is ready and skilled enough to con the other into adoption!"

"So eloquently put," Ichigo agrees with a chuckle.

"What can I say; I have a way with words."

The couple heads home, their kittens in a carrier and their arms full of bags. Ichigo is carrying the toys and kitty condo in the empty litter box with some food, Grimmjow carries the kittens, the litter, more toys, and a second condo… just in case little Shiro doesn't like to share. When they get home, they set up the cats' area in the living room corner. It'll take time to train them properly, but Ichigo works from home and can handle it quite nicely. They let the kittens out to play, Shiro staring right at the two and hissing. Kon is already rubbing against Ichigo's ankle, which pisses off the white ball of fluff. Shiro pounces on Kon, smacking the orange tabby about with furious yowls, and then takes his place on Ichigo's foot in victory.

"Looks like your kitten likes me more," Ichigo laughs.

"Let's just hope they learn how to share quickly," Grimmjow sighs. "I don't want to get attacked for touching you and I definitely don't want to pay vet bills so soon after getting them. Shiro is a mean little fuck."

"Maybe you shouldn't have called him 'Shiro'," Ichigo chuckles. "Hey… what are we going to do with them while we go on that cruise?"

"Lily's gonna cat sit for us. I already went over it with Stark and her, so they'll stay over while we're gone," Grimmjow smiles. "Don't worry about a thing, baby, I thought of everything."

"When will we be leaving?"

"In a few days. Just long enough to spend time with the kids."

Ichigo sits down with the kittens, drawing a feather on a string around Kon to watch him chase it. Shiro clambers onto Ichigo's lap, making himself comfortable and growling at any movement. Grimmjow sits as well, scratching Shiro behind the ear lovingly. The white kitten lifts its chin smugly, looking between the two and deciding to move to Grimmjow.

Ichigo and Grimmjow wake to mewling, the blue haired man groaning as he looks down to the floor on his side. Little Shiro is sitting there expectantly, mewling again once he sees Grimmjow peeking over the side of the bed. He's hungry and, just like the original Shiro; he'll damn well get fed on his time! Ichigo yawns and gets out of bed to feed the kittens, finding Kon tangled up in a ball of yarn.

"Grimm, can you untangle Kon?"

"Yeah, sure."

The drowsy male sits on the living room floor and gets to work on the string, the kitten wiggling excitedly as Ichigo pulls out a can of cat food. Once he's loose, Kon bolts for the food bowl. Ichigo has to put half in Kon's bowl and half in Shiro's bowl, separating the two by quite a bit. If Shiro is close enough, he'll stand over Kon's food as he eats his… he already growls while he eats just because Kon is within sight. After they're fed, Ichigo starts on their own breakfast.

"Hey, Grimm… I was thinking about joining the fights again," he comments. "What do you think? Should I?"

"Anything you want, baby," Grimmjow smirks. "I'll just avoid any match that may have us as opponents… I would hate to beat the shit out of you."

"… And you think you would win why?"

"Oh come on, Kitten, I didn't say that. I said 'beat the shit out of you'. That's not code for 'win', that's code for 'sleeping on the couch with no sex for a month'."

"… Okay, you're probably right about that."

"Look, if fighting is what you want then go for it. There are plenty of fighters out there; we shouldn't have to rough one another up. If you want to spar with me, that's great… but no matches together."

Ichigo nods in understanding and smiles. This is what Shiro would've wanted, for Ichigo to get back in the ring. He breathes deeply and turns his attention back to their food, noting that Shiro is slowly stalking over to Kon in an attempt to steal the other's food. Carefully, Ichigo uses his foot to scoot Shiro over to himself. He'll be easier to keep an eye on if he's right beside the orange head's foot.

"Grimm, your kid's a hellion."

"Of course he is, he's mine," Grimmjow snorts in response. "Did you expect anything less?"

"Good point."

Ichigo is left to his work while Grimmjow heads out for a couple interviews, the press has been eating up the 'distraught lover and injured wife' angle. No one sees Grimmjow as the caring type, the one to take care of someone when they're ill, so the new side of him is the new thing. As Ichigo gets as many designs together as he can before the trip, Kon prances in for attention… and Shiro comes stalking in after the orange tabby. They play in a basket of fabric Ichigo normally cuts pieces from, attaching them to the designs as a color guide. The orange head sighs happily in the presence of the kittens, surprised they actually ebb the loneliness.

Grimmjow hates interviews… he hates them more than he hates fighting Kenpachi on a bad day. He goes through them quickly, leaving as soon as possible. On the way home, he's stopped by Ulquiorra and Nnoitra. Both were heading back from the gym, curious as to why the blue haired man didn't join them.

"Where've you been?" Nnoitra frowns. "I have a kick ass spar reserved for beating the hell out of you."

"Sorry… interviews. I have to get back to Ichigo now; we should really start packing now. I don't want to forget anything."

"He can wait."

Grimmjow waves the taller man off, keeping his pace steady as he heads home. Ulquiorra and Nnoitra decide to follow, striking up a conversation about Grimmjow's soft spot. As they tease Grimmjow, the blue haired male can't help but roll his eyes. Upon entering the house, however, he's laughing his ass off. Shiro has been standing guard, leaping with a yowl at Nnoitra's leg when the door is opened.

"Son of a bitch!" the lanky man screams. "Get the fucker off of me!"

"Shiro, enough," Grimmjow chuckles. "Go find Ichigo."

The ball of white fluff does as told, growling at the two in warning as he moves toward the hall. After making certain they know who the boss is, Shiro hurries down the hall to the guest room. Ichigo is already moving toward the living room at the commotion, Kon in his arms.

"What happened?" he asks.

"Shiro attacked Nnoitra," Grimmjow grins. "I knew getting him was a good idea!"

"Piece of shit cat!"

"Hey! Watch it, that's my baby," the blue haired man hisses. "You did a good job, Shiro. You're a good kitten."

Nnoitra rolls his eyes at the baby talk, frowning at the sight of his best friend turning to mush. Grimmjow sets Shiro on his broad shoulder, the kitten curling up against his neck with a smug look Kon's way. Ichigo sets Kon down to play, the small orange fur ball too hyper to hold for long. Ichigo sits beside Grimmjow on the couch, smiling happily at his lover. Though he's feeling guilty for not cluing Ichigo into everything about his accident, Grimmjow is glad the other is happier now. He can't lose Ichigo; he would surely fall apart if anything happened to separate them. He's barely listening as his friends talk, too busy adoring his wife. He comes back to himself when Shiro starts growling, the two visitors getting up to leave. They see them out, but return to the couch afterward.

"Grimmjow, you're the greatest thing that's ever happened to me," Ichigo smiles fondly. "I don't understand why I was pretending to be something I wasn't, but… I'm glad it led me to you."

"You're not the only one, Kitten," Grimmjow chuckles. "I was lost before I found you and I'll be lost if I ever lose you."

"You won't."

Grimmjow sighs and wraps an arm around the orange head. Ichigo leans against his side, hugging him as Shiro paces across both their shoulders. Kon is close, so the little white kitten leaps from them onto the orange tabby. The two watch the kittens play, content with their lives at the moment. Someday they might commit to something more than pets, but not right now. Right now, Ichigo needs to settle his qualms with the farce of a life he had lived for far too long. It should be easy with Grimmjow at his side.

And there we have it, the end. I hope it wasn't too disappointing. I'm glad you all enjoyed the fic thus far, I'm even happier for all the comments =) I do so love reviews XD Next fic to be updated until the end is 'A Tiger's Stripes' as I've mentioned before. After that will be 'Bleach Bait'. I'm actually almost finished with that one, just a few chapters left to go. I hope it's better to you guys than it is to me. Well, until next update!

Shiro: Whoa, wait... where's my character?

Vae: Uh... sleeping.

Shiro: ... Ya turned me inta a fuckin' cat? How could ya! =(

Grimm: I think your cute! =D

Ichi: Me, too! And you don't talk. ;p