Grimmjow wasn't happy about being dragged along to Jūshirō's best friend's home, but what choice did he have? What if the brunet had been the one to inflict that damage on Ukitake? He couldn't take that chance; he couldn't let Jūshirō be hurt like that again. It was his duty as Jūshirō's mate – as his protector – to make sure that nothing happened to him.

"Please, d-don't be..." Jūshirō fumbled with his words, clearly uneasy about asking whatever this was of the demon. "...Please, don't... p-play with me... or swear..."

"Why the fuck not?" Grimmjow crossed his arms over his chest in annoyance.

"...B-because he has a child..." Jūshirō whispered.

"Ah." Grimmjow shrugged. "How old?"

"S-sixteen..."

Grimmjow snorted. "Old enough to know about sex and to hear cussing."

Jūshirō shook his head. "You don't understand how protective he is of her..."

"How old is he?" Grimmjow asked. "I figure you two grew up together. You look too young to have a sixteen year old if he's the same age."

"I'm twenty-eight..." Jūshirō mumbled. "He's thirty-two..."

"Wow, he's been fucking since he's young." Grimmjow laughed as he did the math.

Jūshirō frowned; it depressed him to know that for once, Grimmjow was actually right about something.

It didn't take much longer for them to get to Shunsui's home. When they arrived, Jūshirō pulled a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door. He stepped in, followed by Grimmjow.

"Shun?" Jūshirō called as he walked further into the house. "Shun, I'm here."

"In the kitchen!" came the older male's reply.

Grimmjow could see by looking around that Shunsui and his family must have a lot of money. Their home alone looked as if it must have been expensive, judging by the beautiful layout of the front room. They had a large plasma TV tucked away in front of the window and their furniture was the best money could buy. Comparing this room alone to Jūshirō's entire house made him wonder how easily Ukitake was getting along.

"Hi, Shun." Jūshirō's voice snapped the demon out of his thoughts. "How are you?"

Grimmjow glanced at the two females sitting at the dining table next to the brunet. They both had raven hair and wore glasses. The older one, which Grimmjow assumed to be the mother, had ponytails while the daughter had her hair clipped back.

"Who's your friend, Jūshirō?" The mother asked, looking curiously at the demon. She put down the magazine she had been flipping through and stood up, moving closer to observe him. "A new lover?"

Shunsui didn't hide his distaste of Grimmjow and waved his hand in a dismissive manner. "Juu-chan can do better, Lisa-chan."

Grimmjow pretended not to hear that comment, knowing that he would upset Jūshirō if he acted out. He wanted to prove to the human that he was someone who could be trusted, having decided that after seeing the scars last night.

"Lisa-san, Nanao-kun..." Jūshirō gathered the two females' attention. "...This is Grimmjow. He's... staying with me for a while..."

The mother – Lisa, Grimmjow had learnt – grabbed Jūshirō by the hand and pulled him away without a word. Nanao followed them, leaving Grimmjow and Shunsui alone.

"Where are they takin' him?" Grimmjow asked.

Shunsui laughed. "My Lisa-chan is very curious; she'll be wanting to know everything about you and your stay."

"Good. Because I have questions of my own for you." Grimmjow moved to sit on the chair Lisa had just left, staring at Shunsui. "His back. I want to know what happened to it."

Shunsui's face twisted into a pained expression. "...He showed you..."

"No. I tried lifting his shirt and he wouldn't let me. When he fell asleep ten minutes later, I lifted it and I saw."

Shunsui sighed and glanced down at his lap. "...Has he told you anything at all...?"

"Nothing except that the town thinks he's a filthy whore."

"I don't think I should tell you..." Shunsui said. "I mean... I-it's something I would hate my best friend for telling people about..."

"He's never going to tell me himself; I can work that much out." Grimmjow rolled his eyes. "Go and ask if you can tell me because I want to know everything."

Shunsui stood up with hesitation and moved in the direction Jūshirō had disappeared in. Grimmjow waited patiently and, when the brunet returned, was glad to hear that Kyōraku had permission to talk.

"I don't know where to start..." Shunsui said softly. "...Let's move into the living room; it's more comfortable."

Grimmjow nodded and stood up, following the brunet. Once they were seated on separate couches, Shunsui's face took on a thoughtful expression.

"...You know Juu-chan and I have been best friends for many years," Shunsui said. "Our families were close with each other since before we were born, so we grew up together. ...I'd already had Nanao-chan by the time I started helping Juu-chan date. He was only just starting to become interested in having a partner, so I spoke to our friend, Rangiku. I knew her own partner had a good friend that was single, so I thought it would be a good idea to introduce them to each other."

"How old was Jūshirō?" Grimmjow asked.

"About seventeen or so. Gin – Rangiku's partner – was close with a university lecturer. I ignored the significant age difference and instead organised for Gin to invite his friend over when Juu-chan and I were free."

"And how old was he?"

About twenty-eight. ...They hit it off straight away. Sōsuke – the man Juu had been dating – was good to him. He took him out all the time, bought him anything Juu asked for, and never rushed him into anything he wasn't ready for. ...I remember... on Juu's eighteenth birthday, he came to me, happy beyond belief, telling me that he and Sōsuke had made love for the first time. ...I was honestly happy for him, and even happier when I heard they were going to move in together..."

Grimmjow clenched his fists. "So I was right in assuming he was in an abusive relationship?"

Shunsui nodded. "Worse than you could possibly have imagined. Juu was still happy for a few months, but then... he started withdrawing... I should have noticed something was wrong when he started growing out his hair, but I believed him when he assured me that everything was fine with him and Sōsuke... You know he only grew his hair out because he was hiding bruises from strangulation? Then it turned into an obsession and he had to grow it as long as he could just to feel safe."

"That's disgusting..." Grimmjow muttered.

"He was pulling away so badly, the only times I could see him where when I'd show up to his home without prior warning so he couldn't leave and avoid me. He had bruises, but he told me they were from his martial arts lessons. Sōsuke... was always so good to him... I was so stupid to not notice the way Juu-chan would flinch and tense around him..."

"How'd you find out what was happening?" Grimmjow questioned, not sure if he wanted to hear it or not.

"Before I tell you, Juu desperately wants you to not hate him or think badly of him," Shunsui said, the pain obvious in his voice. "None of it was his fault; he was too scared to say anything so it kept happening."

"Nothing you can tell me is going to change my fucking mind," Grimmjow said in sincerity.

"..." Shunsui sighed and wiped at his eyes, gathering the stray tears that were running down his cheeks. "...I showed up to his home, uninvited as usual, and found that the door was open when no one was answering my knocks. ...I pushed the front door open and walked in, and the first thing I heard was Juu... crying out for help..."

Grimmjow tensed, awaiting the worst.

"...I walked into the bedroom, and the first thing I see... is the video camera aimed towards the bed, filming... Sōsuke was on it, forcing Jūshirō..."

Grimmjow snarled. "That sick fuck...!"

"I called the cops," Shunsui continued on, his voice becoming weaker and weaker. "...They took Jūshirō in to make a statement... He was literally too damaged to say a word, so I had to sit with him throughout the entire thing. I found that... within two years of them being together... Sōsuke had abused Juu-chan, tortured him by cutting him, raped him every day, and forced him to masturbate – all so he could record it and make money off it. Juu was nothing but sadistic pleasure and a way to make money."

"So that's why he's always so timid?"

Shunsui nodded. "But Aizen Sōsuke was a name everyone knew, so it got out within hours... People searched for the videos, downloaded them, watched them, told other people and, eventually, the entire town knew about what had happened, and more than half of them had seen the videos... But despite all the evidence, the cops just couldn't do anything – Sōsuke was too powerful... So he got off, and Juu never got the justice he deserved..."

Grimmjow shook his head. "I'll remember that name, and if I ever come across him, I'll make sure Jūshirō gets his justice."

"Just don't tell him," Shunsui said. "Jūshirō doesn't like fighting, and he would be upset to know someone got hurt on his account – even him. Can you understand why I was so protective of him when we first met?"

Grimmjow nodded. "I understand. I'd never hurt him like that, though. He's... important to me."

"He's important to me, too. I had to take care of him after the statement was made. I personally went to the house and got his things. He has this box he keeps underneath his bed. It's got the porn magazines I bought for him before he met Sōsuke and some other little things. I thought he should keep them so that one day when he gets better, he can look at them and feel normal again."

"I found that box. He didn't like me going through it."

"He didn't want it to begin with, after I helped him get a house."

Grimmjow nodded. "Don't worry; I'm going to take care of him. I'll never let him get hurt like that again. I'll help him look at that porn again one day."

"Thank you." Shunsui rubbed his wet eyes. "It means everything to me to know that someone still accepts him after that; he lost everyone because he couldn't stop something out of his control."

"Well, I'm not like that." Grimmjow said. "And I'll kill anyone who gives him a hard time over it."

"Thanks. I need to take Nanao-chan down to the library so I'm going to grab her and say bye to Juu. Thank you for understanding."

Grimmjow shrugged and followed Shunsui down to one of the bedrooms at the back of the house. He waited for Shunsui to hug Jūshirō goodbye before he wrapped his arm around the younger's shoulder and lead him out of the house.

"Let's go home, Jūshirō," Grimmjow said.

Jūshirō just stared at the blue-haired demon with unreadable eyes. They watered slightly before he blinked the tears away. Minutes had passed in silence before he found the courage to speak.

"...You're one of the few who don't treat me like a disease after hearing what happened..."

Grimmjow shrugged. "Wasn't your fault; was that sick bastard's. Besides; you're my mate, Jūshirō. I'll wash away every last scar he inflicted on you, physical or mental."

Jūshirō looked at the ground as he hugged himself, a small smile crossing his face. He didn't know why, but he could trust in Grimmjow's words.

Several hours later~~

"Hey, Grimmjow...?"

Grimmjow tilted his head backwards, looking upside down at Jūshirō. "Yes?"

Jūshirō moved from behind the couch so that he was sitting next to the demon. He looked unsure as he glanced down at his lap, trying to think of what to say. "...When... When Shun told you... w-what made you stay with me...?"

"What would have made me not stay with you?" Grimmjow questioned, disbelief in his voice. "The fuck could have made you think I'd have left you just because you couldn't stop some fuck-face from abusing you? Wasn't your fault. Anyone who can't see that are fuck-tards and aren't worthy of your time."

Jūshirō smiled down at his lap, a single tear running down his cheek. "...T-thank you... My friends... wanted me to find someone else... M-may I... agree to your offer, now...?"

Grimmjow nodded, grinning. He reached out and pulled the human onto his lap. "If I knew it were that fucking easy to make you say yes, I'd have hunted your fucking friend down sooner and made him tell me everything."

Jūshirō snuggled in close, for the first time in eight years feeling safe in the arms of someone other than Shunsui. He let a few tears run down his cheeks, knowing that he may not feel completely safe with Grimmjow just yet but that he soon would. He knew the demon would never hurt him like Aizen had.

Grimmjow didn't say anything as Jūshirō cried into him. He understood that Ukitake had suffered more than he could understand and the human would appreciate just being held.

"One day..." Jūshirō said through his tears, looking up to smile at the blue-haired male, "...One day, I'll let you make love with me..."

Grimmjow put on his sexiest smirk and held the younger tighter. "Is that so, Jūshirō? Well, I'll look forward to that day."

Jushiro nodded. "...Me, too..."

"You should sleep." Grimmjow moved his arm so that Ukitake could rest his head on his lap. "You've been crying all day."

Jushiro smiled as he moved to lay his head on the lap that had been presented to him. Suddenly, the fact that this male was a demon seemed insignificant to him; he had already showed more heart to him than most of the people in this town.

Maybe... Jushiro had been wrong to be afraid of the demon, and... maybe... they really were meant to be together...