Sorry for the long wait, everyone My muse temporarily fled... but no worries! It returned this morning and now I present you with the conclusion of this little story~
The large war horse snorted and tossed it's mane in agitation, clearly feeding off it's rider's own worsening mood. Grimmjow sighed an irritated sound and closed his eyes for a moment, patting his horse's neck as he attempted to calm not only the animal, but himself as well.
It'd been nearly a week since he'd taken control of the kingdom and this was the first time he'd stepped foot outside the castle proper, the first time he'd breathed in fresh air and the smell of his horse. In that week, he'd been given a crash course on how to run an entire kingdom. Of course, he'd seen Aizen at work for years and so already knew the basics. He caught on quickly. With his overwhelming strength and commanding personality, he was a born leader. Even as a knight, people had bowed before him for reasons other than just proper respect.
But during that week, Grimmjow's mind had been elsewhere. He wondered how the shaman faired. He knew the pale man had escaped into the forest; his body had never been brought back, so he must have survived. But the blue haired man couldn't help but wonder about him. Had he been able to fulfill his duties? If so, did he still live alone in the middle of the forest?
Grimmjow wanted to know that the shaman was alright, at the very least, so he decided he would go and find out for himself. He was a king now, after all, he could do as he pleased. When he'd told his advisors to shut the hell up and give him a break, they listened. Quite well, too.
Lord Jaegerjaquez wasn't like the late Aizen. There was none of the cold, brewing calculation and unchanging mask. When the once-knight was angry, you knew the moment his temper changed. In many ways, it was better than Aizen's approach. It gave the advisors and guards and castle staff a chance to realize they'd over stepped their bounds or made a mistake and they needn't fear a knife in the back later.
It made situations like this difficult though. Lord Jaegerjaquez was a very determined and stubborn man when he wanted to be. Now, he sat astride his war horse in his ornamental armor, much as he had while he'd been merely a knight, and curled his lip as an entourage of guards insisted on following him everywhere he went.
Finally, after a moment and a deep, calming breath, the new king opened his vivid, intense blue eyes again. "Silence." He commanded in short bark that showed his growing ire.
Instantly, the men crowded around him fell quiet. Grimmjow clutched the reins of his horse in one hand and lightly tapped his heels to the animal's flanks. Guiding it from the stables, he was hardly surprised when his guards followed him. But he'd been a knight, trained in the art of battle and defense and sword fighting. He wasn't so harmless as a normal ruler would have been. He had no need for guards, no matter what his advisors insisted upon.
Once he and his horse were outside, under open sky and no longer confined in the stables, Grimmjow turned the animal about to face those following him. Of course, he already had everyone's attention.
"I have need of solitude for this. No guards, no advisors. Just me." He told them, though he'd told them before he'd saddled his horse, and again even before he'd left the castle proper.
"But Sir! What if-"
"What if what?" Grimmjow's crystallin eyes swirled with cold fire. "What if bandits attack me in the forest? What if someone from the village doesn't agree with me being ruler?"
The once-knight laughed, head thrown back and white teeth bared. It was deep, rumbling laughter. Honestly, such things hardly posed a threat to him. He hadn't feared them before, nor did he now. He was the best at what he did and just because he'd been named king did not mean he suddenly became fragile or lost his knowledge of defending himself.
"I'm going alone. Do not follow me, do not attempt to stop me." Grimmjow once more turned his stallion toward the castle gates, looking over his shoulder as the big animal shifted sideways in excitement to finally be out of it's stall after so long being penned. "If you do, I'll know. If I find whom I'm looking for, he'll know, and he'll likely be very unhappy."
"Sir, we must insist-!"
But Grimmjow had already spurred his horse forward. The beast reared slightly before taking off in a near gallop toward the gates. The guards in charge hurriedly pulled the gates open for their king and watched as Grimmjow sped off through the village.
The village streets were crowded with civilians as people bustled back and forth with their daily routines. As the once-knight, now their king, rode through, the sea of people parted for him. They paused in what they were doing, watching as he rode by, sitting proud and strong in the saddle as he always had. It seemed not much had really changed, despite the original panic. Most felt the knight would make a good king, just and strong, at the very least. And if they ever fell under attack, who better to lead them through than the man that had been the most famous and skilled knight in the kingdom?
Grimmjow crossed through the village, finding very near where he'd originally entered before, when he had thought the creature he was after had merely been a white fox, when he'd thought that magic was only a tale. The forest was thick, the underbrush and trees dense. Shadows clung to the ground, despite the warm sun high overhead. It looked exactly as it had before, just like a forest should.
He didn't bring hounds this time, knowing where to go to find whom he searched for, but even though he knew his destination, he still let his gaze wonder the forest, searching out pale fur and golden eyes. No trace of the shaman was to be found and Grimmjow didn't know whether that should have concerned him or not. Some part of it did. Before, the pale shaman had found him, but this time it seemed he'd have to find the shaman and the implications of that didn't settle well with Grimmjow.
Tapping his horse into a light trot, the new king headed in the direction of the cave he'd once tracked a white fox to. All around him, the forest seemed quiet. No birds chirped, no insects buzzed. It was an unnatural hush, but the very air seemed to hold the hum of residual energy. After nearly an hour of picking his way deeper into the forest, Grimmjow finally came upon the cave's entrance.
Dropping from his horse, he walked the animal closer and tied it off around the branch of a nearby tree before moving closer to the cave's mouth. His steps were near silent and his gaze never wavered as he searched the darkness within to the best of his abilities. When he stepped up onto hard rock at the cave's entrance, he expected to hear movement, or the ceasing of movement like before, but he heard nothing.
He cautiously ducked into the cave, pausing just inside to cast his gaze about the shadowed space. "Shirosaki?" His voice was a quiet rumble, but would have been more than sufficient to catch the fox shaman's attention.
Movement off to one side caught the king's attention and as he turned to look, a quiet, watery voice drifted through the cave. There was no energy behind the voice, no power. It was thin, barely there, like the trickle of a stream that had nearly dried up as it twisted through the pebbles at the bottom of a dead river bed.
"I see ya've survived." The shaman tried hard to make what was left of his voice heard. A small, wry smirk tugged at his lips at the pitiful sound. "Or perhaps I haven't."
"No, I live." Grimmjow quickly sent a glance around the rest of the cave as he hurried to the shaman's side. The pale man hardly moved where he sat, leaning back against the wall of the cave, one leg curled under him and the other outstretched. His hands rested in his lap, unmoving, and the rise and fall of his breaths looked off, somehow too deep and too even for a man who wasn't sleeping. But Grimmjow didn't see any blood and the only injuries that were visible against bare, pale flesh were the few the shaman had taken during his fight with Aizen and those were well on their way to healed. "Which means you must as well."
The shaman let out a small laugh, an even smaller nod, but that was his only reaction as the knight knelt at his side. There was a disturbing lack of alertness to the fox shifter. His ears dropped forward in a tired, weary position and his tail lay motionless upon the ground, curled around his side.
Grimmjow's brows furrowed as he looked the pale man over. "You've released them."
"I have." Again the shaman's voice was thin, but he was a little surprised he still had one at all. It'd been nearly two days since he'd held his ritual and he hadn't expected he'd live through it, let alone this long. "With the full moon."
Grimmjow was quiet for a moment, hesitant to ask his question. "Will you survive?"
"I know not." The shaman answered truthfully. He certainly didn't feel like he would. He had no energy, the ritual had drained him of his youthful vigor as well as of his magic. The leaving of the spirits he had carried stole what little power he'd had left after he'd preformed the ritual. He'd honestly wondered if he'd already expired when he heard the knight approaching the cave's entrance, that perhaps the blue haired man was dead as well and they'd been allowed to meet up in the afterlife.
"Can you stand?" The bigger man frowned, unsurprised when he received the barest of motions to indicate a negative. So he stood, and once more pulled his cloak from his armor.
The shaman's odd, inverted eyes widened slightly, brows coming together in the middle. There was no masking his surprise, the touch of fear in his gaze as he looked up at the knight. "Ya would take me back..?"
"I would." Grimmjow smirked as he knelt again, carefully wrapping the cloak around the naked man. The shaman felt nearly like dead weight as he maneuvered the smaller man, nearly limp as though he could hardly move on his own. "But not as a prisoner this time... As a guest."
Confusion showed on pale features and Grimmjow chuckled as he effortlessly pulled the still shaman from the cold, hard rock of the ground. Shirosaki didn't put up a fight, he couldn't have even had he wanted to.
"The king's guest." Grimmjow continued.
"I thought we killed Aizen." Shirosaki sounded almost disappointed, disheartened at the very least.
Again, Grimmjow chuckled. He strode from the cave, the shaman held tight against him and wrapped in his cloak, and neared his horse. "Aizen is dead."
The shaman gave the smallest shake of his head, letting the bigger man know without the use of words that he didn't understand what Grimmjow was trying to tell him. He was lifted with surprising ease, and settled upon the horse's back so that he sat side saddle. One pale hand fisted in the beast's mane to keep himself upright and still, he watched as the blue haired man reached into a saddle bag and pulled out a golden, jeweled crown.
Handing the damn thing to the shaman, Grimmjow carefully hauled himself into the saddle, sitting behind where the shaman sat. He grabbed up the reins, laying them across one leg as he carefully pulled the weakened shaman against him so the smaller man would have some support as they rode.
Shirosaki silently, though gratefully, accepted the support, letting his torso curl comfortably against the bigger man's chest, his legs overhanging one of Grimmjow's own. The crown trembled ever so slightly in pale fingers as the shaman looked at it, than back up at Grimmjow.
A grin spread across the new king's handsome features as he wrapped his free arm around Shirosaki's shoulders to hold him in place and grabbed up the reins with his other. Tapping his heels to the horse's flanks, they set off, back toward the village. "I don't particularly like the damn thing, but I figured it would be proof enough."
The shaman didn't know how to react. He would have laughed, had he the strength and the voice to do so, but he knew the big man spoke the truth. The man was no longer Sir Jaegerjaquez, but Lord Jaegerjaquez. Shirosaki rested the crown in his lap, unable to keep holding it up in so weakened a state. He was more than aware that the once-knight, now lord of the kingdom, was basically holding him in the saddle, keeping him upright and from falling, but Grimmjow said nothing about it and Shirosaki was happy to ignore it as well. He just had nothing left.
The ride back to the edge of the forest was slow, slower than the trip to the cave, at least. Grimmjow kept his horse at a pace no faster than a brusque walk, careful with the man he held against him. By the time they made it to edge of the trees, the shaman was unresponsive and unconscious in the king's hold.
Lord Jaegerjaquez was silent as he rode into the village. He ignored the villagers around him, as he had always done while a mere knight. He wasn't riding through for a social call or for the fun of it, he had things to take care of and most of his people didn't seem to mind. Of course they asked questions, pointed and pondered the strange, ghostly man that lay against their new king, but they wouldn't be getting answers any time soon.
When he'd made it to the other side of the village, the guards at the castle grounds entrance gave him curious, slightly worried looks, but they pulled the heavy, wroth iron gates out of the way for their king. He pulled his horse to a halt along the main castle proper entrance, as close to the building as he could get. A few stablehands rushed through the yards to collect his mount and a few advisors exited the castle, relieved he was back unharmed.
His crown slipped from lax fingers and hit the ground with a dull thump as Grimmjow shifted his hold on the shaman. Very carefully, he slid from the saddle, pulling Shirosaki with him. An advisor bent to retrieve the crown as a stableboy began leading the stallion away.
Grimmjow paid them no heed and carried the unconscious shaman into the castle. Of course a few guards and a few advisors followed after him, even as he turned down the wing that housed his personal and private rooms; bedroom, bathroom, dinning hall and a few others.
Walking to the room at the very furthest end of the hall, he finally paused and looked over his shoulder to one of his advisors. Seeing as his hands were full, he nodded to the door that lead into his private chambers. "The door, if you would."
"Yes, of course, my lord." The man gave a short bow and slid around the king to push the door open for the blue haired man.
Grimmjow thanked the man, stepping inside his private bedroom, and pushed the door back closed in the advisor's face with the toe of his boot. Crossing the rather vast room, he gently laid the pale man he cradled out upon the massive bed. Shirosaki looked even more colorless nestled motionless among dark sheets. He didn't stir, even when the blue haired man maneuvered him about and pulled his cloak away in favor of pulling the blankets up.
Frowning, Grimmjow went back to the door, pulled it open just enough to stand in the doorway, letting his large frame block the view of most of the room, and told his men to go fetch the healer.
There wasn't much the healer could do, though. The shaman wasn't injured, nor was he sick. Physically, there was very little wrong with him. So the man advised his king to let the pale shaman rest, and hope that he would begin recovering his strength and his energy.
When the healer had left, Grimmjow closed his bedroom door again, locking all his guards and all his advisors out. He knew at least two guards would stay in the hall near his door, but he was growing used to that and it didn't really bother him anymore. Originally, they had insisted on standing guard within his room and he'd promptly put an end to that. They'd insisted, even his advisors had insisted he keep a guard with him at all times, claiming one never knew if someone would attempt harm on him. Grimmjow had grabbed his sword from beside his bed and challenged the guards to a duel, telling them that if they could beat him, they could stay and stand guard within his room.
They'd failed, of course, and after Grimmjow had declared his victory, he'd agreed that they could stand guard outside the room and should he have need of them, he could call for them.
After a few moments of trying to insure the shaman would be comfortable, Grimmjow finally stripped of most of his armor. Leaving it sit near by, he sat down on the edge of the bed, clothed in more normal and more comfortable apparel. He studied the pale man for a while. Ashen brows were furrowed, even as the smaller man lay unconscious. White hair, long and feathery, fanned out across the stormy blue of the silken sheets and pillows. Canine ears weren't really pinned back, but they drooped backward, turned away and held in a position that made Grimmjow think of a fearful or scolded dog.
Grimmjow frowned as well and tentatively let his fingertips drag across a few silken, colorless locks. White, pointed ears shifted slightly, facing a little more forward and beginning to loose the tense quality. The king's frown morphed into a small smile as he realized some part of the shaman, the fox side, was still at least vaguely alert and aware of what was going on. It seemed that, despite that his body had given out, Shirosaki's instincts were still awake. That brought Grimmjow a touch of hope.
Still looking at the shaman's ears, Grimmjow shrugged a bit and carefully, gently slid his fingers over one pointed tip. The ear flicked under his touch, like an animal's when tickled. Smile growing to more of a grin, Grimmjow glanced at the shaman's features before repeating the action. He earned much the same reaction as white brows furrowed further in annoyance.
Chuckling quietly, he quit picking on the poor man and instead brought his fingers closer to the base of the vulpine ear, giving a few, slow and gentle strokes back up toward the tip, following the way the shorter fur ran. The fur was soft and feathery under his fingers, and warm like it was intended for a winter climate.
Pale features finally began to relax, the tense frown slipping away. A very small, pleased groan rumbled in the shaman's chest as Grimmjow continued petting him and the bigger man chuckled again. Scratching behind the shaman's ears, he managed to make the very tip of Shirosaki's fluffy, white tail waggle a few times. It amused the king to no end. "Like that, do you?" He asked quietly, his voice nearly a whisper to keep from disturbing the shaman's apparently much needed rest.
Eventually, Grimmjow had to return to his duties. He left the shaman to rest in his bed, coming back to check in on him every so often, and of course every night.
It wasn't for a few days that the pale man finally stirred and awakened. When he did, it was a slow awakening, his consciousness taking it's time in returning. He became aware to the slow, rhythmic touches to his ears first. Long fingers soothed over his fur, calm and gentle and vaguely familiar, like he'd somehow been aware of it happening in the past few days. Next came scent and his nostrils flared as he pulled in a deep breath, quickly recognizing the scent that enveloped him. He'd never forget the way the knight had smelled. He could tell he was no longer in the forest and he knew he must have been in the castle. The ground below him was soft, a bed perhaps, the sheets warm but not stifling so.
"How are you feeling?"
Shirosaki finally pried his eyes open, blinking in the light of the sun that streamed through a nearby window. He hadn't even realized he'd rolled over, toward the knight petting him. He was a bit startled to find his head laying comfortably in Grimmjow's lap, but the bigger man gently pushed Shirosaki's long hair away from the shaman's face and Shirosaki decided he didn't much care. He didn't have the energy to care.
He attempted to push himself up, intending to find a more dignified, sitting position beside the once-knight, but his strength failed him and his limbs trembled with a deep fatigue. A very small whimper crawled from his throat.
Grimmjow went back to brushing his fingers through long hair and over soft ears, having noticed in those few days that even while the shaman had been unconscious, it seemed to have a soothing affect. And it did. Shirosaki settled back down, eventually settling his head back in Grimmjow's lap. He took a few, even breaths before finally breaking the silence again.
"Ya've been doin' this often..." His voice was a dry, hoarse whisper. A grimace creased his features, but part of him was surprised, even a little happy that he still had a voice at all.
"It's become something of a guilty pleasure." The king admitted, his deep, rumbling voice amused. "And it didn't seem you minded. Should I stop?"
The shaman shook his head in a slight motion and the fingers stroking across his ears continued. Shirosaki closed his eyes again, took a deep breath, but his inner search came back surprisingly empty. He thought he could feel his magic beginning to stir again, perhaps slowly returning after being drained so low during the ritual, but he couldn't be sure, nor could he guess how long it would take to return and just how much he'd be left with.
He still didn't know that he would survive, but he was beginning to think he would. Surely if he wasn't going to, he would have died with the ending of the ritual, when everything had been drained from him, not when he was finally beginning to regain some of it back. But still, that left him with other questions, other uncertainties, most of which circulated around the man caring for him.
Grimmjow was a king now, and he'd taken in an escaped prisoner, one that had aided in the murder of the previous king, a creature that wasn't even seen as a human by many. And then there were other issues... Shirosaki could feel how gentle the big man was with him, he could feel -in the light touches and the way Grimmjow soothingly ran his fingers along his ears- that there was something deeper than just repaying a debt owed and holding to his word. And Shirosaki wouldn't deny that he was beginning to become quite taken by the blue haired man as well.
Shirosaki cast his golden eyes about the room, taking in the arching ceiling, the golden fixtures and candle holders. A mirror sat atop the wardrobe. The bed was large, the sheets smooth and more than likely made of silk. The walls were richly painted, the trim of the door and windows intricately carved. The bedroom of a king. "This is not merely a spare room, is it?"
"No." Grimmjow told him, still slowly rubbing behind the shaman's ears. He was a bit surprised the fox shifter was still cuddled up against him. He'd expected the man to bolt, or at the very least roll back over when he awakened, but Grimmjow certainly didn't mind. "These are my chambers."
"I've no way of knowin' how much of my magic will return with my recovery...perhaps not enough..." Shirosaki hesitated. His voice was barely there, quiet despite that he tried to speak loudly enough to be heard. "I-I'm more than twice yer age... Will ya be accepting of findin' an old man in your bed, Lord Jaegerjaquez, if it fails me?"
Grimmjow frowned, but if anything, his hold on the shaman only tightened. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now though, let's focus on your recovery."
It would be nearly a month before anyone other than Grimmjow and on rare occasion, the healer, would see the weakened shaman. In that time, Shirosaki stayed mostly confined to Grimmjow's bed, unable to get up and wander around without assistance. Grimmjow spent as much time with the smaller man as was possible. They talked mostly, or sometimes said nothing at all and simply enjoyed the other's company. Being close became natural. It wasn't so much that they were sharing a bed, as they were sharing each other.
Some days, especially early on, Shirosaki would say nothing at all, unable to. Grimmjow would help him curl up against the bigger man, being as discrete as possible because he knew that Shirosaki didn't like that he needed help, and Grimmjow would tell him of royal affairs and how annoying most of his advisors were. The king kept two of his guards posted outside his room at all times, even when he wasn't within, so that should Shirosaki need anything, someone would be readily at his disposal. It was clear that the necessary ritual he had preformed had not been kind on the pale man.
As the days went on, the shaman was awake during Grimmjow's visits more often. His appetite began picking up again and, with a little assistance, he was able to sit upon the edge of the bed. His voice, while still rough and thin, seemed to be returning as well, though Shirosaki was just as surprised about it as the king was. He'd assumed that he would return to being mute if he survived, but perhaps after nearly two decades of being lent a voice to borrow, his body had learned the basics of how to create one on it's own.
Somewhere along the lines, the nights spent in the same bed ceased to be odd. Even as innocent as it was, it had been strange and difficult to get used to at first, but that didn't last long and as the days passed into nights, when the king returned from his work to fall into bed, the shaman happily scooted to his side, tail swaying a few times.
Grimmjow would wake up with the rise of the sun and carefully untangle himself from pale limbs as he slipped from the bed. Bending over the usually still sleeping male, he'd run his fingers over soft ears and whisper a good morning before dressing for his day and leaving the shaman to his rest.
Their relationship was growing into something more and it was clear for all to see, despite that it was only ever behind closed doors while the shaman remained mostly bedridden. Perhaps there had always been something between the two, even when Shirosaki had been captured by Grimmjow, just a knight at the time, and held prisoner for an unnamed crime he hadn't committed. Even then, the ruthless, blue haired man had seemed to hold a soft spot for the wild shaman. While mildly disconcerting to the guards and the advisors and the other castle staff, it wasn't necessarily surprising to any of them.
Finally, after nearly a month of being confined to the king's personal bedchamber, the shaman had regained the strength needed to begin moving about. The untamable side of him demanded that he leave the room he'd been confined to, demanded that he be up and moving and no longer held still. His actions were slow and measured, but when he woke up to find the bigger man had already left the room for the day, Shirosaki decided he'd join him, having grown quite curious about all the things Grimmjow said happened through out the days.
The guards posted outside the bedroom door were shocked, to say the least, when the door was pulled open from the inside. Lolled into a familiar routine of hearing and seeing nothing from the pale shaman, they'd hardly expected him to show himself, especially while the king was gone.
Naked and still regaining his strength, Shirosaki's golden eyes coasted from one guard to the other as the two stared at him for a moment. His ears dropped back slightly but it was less outright aggression and more caution. After all, the last run-in with castle guards he could remember had been less than pleasant.
But this time around, it wasn't Aizen who commanded them, nor was the shaman a prisoner, and after their stunned moment, the two bowed slightly. "Lord Jaegerjaquez should be in the throne room, sir, if you'd like us to escort you." One asked as they straightened again.
Shirosaki lifted a brow at the way they adamantly directed their gazes anywhere but at him, but he nodded slightly and answered in a watery voice, beginning to sound more like himself finally. "Tha' would be much appreciated."
"Umm..." The other guard hesitated, looking rather nervous. "Should we perhaps find you something to wear first? I'm sure Lord Jaegerjaquez would not mind letting you borrow something from his wardrobe for the time being..."
The shaman remembered Grimmjow's reaction to him roaming the castle bare, when he'd been a prisoner and the king had been a knight. A smirk that was beginning to mirror his usual ones played on his colorless features as he finally understood the guards' hesitations. Declining their offer, he pulled the door closed behind him as he exited the large room and stepped between them.
They followed closely at his sides as he unsteadily made his way down the long hallway. When he made it to the end of the corridor, looking first one way and then the other, the guards wordlessly gestured toward the right, directing him toward the throne room where he'd find the man he sought out. Shirosaki flashed the guard an appreciative smirk and went in that direction, taking his time in navigating the corridor.
When he made it to the large, imposing doors that led into the throne room, he paused, studying the entrance and ignoring as the doormen posted outside the room stared in shock. One of the guards that had accompanied the shaman cleared his throat quietly and the doormen jolted from their stunned stupor.
"The king's meeting ended a few minutes ago, who should be announce has arrived?" One asked, brows arching slightly as he shot the two guards that had escorted the naked shaman a questioning look.
The shaman's eyes, looking much more focused and clear than in the past weeks, shifted back to the speaker. "Shirosaki... No, Shiro is fine, just Shiro."
The man nodded hesitantly before turning and slipping through the doors to enter the throne room. He bowed just inside the doors as they slowly closed behind him with a quiet thud from the weight, and awaited his king to address him.
Grimmjow sighed and looked up at the man. "Now what is it?"
"There is a gentleman requesting audience, Lord." The guard answered as he straightened, hands behind his back as he stood tall and obedient before his king. "He calls himself Shiro."
"Shiro..?" Grimmjow's handsome features scrunched a bit at the foreign word. His blue brows furrowed as the obvious answer clicked. "Shirosaki? The shaman?" He hurriedly climbed to his feet, annoyance gone. "What happened, is he alright?"
But as he asked his question, the doors behind the doorman parted again as curiosity got the better of said shaman. Shirosaki poked his head in and peeked around, his vulpine ears held alert and upright, swiveling slightly to take in the various sounds of a few of Grimmjow's advisors and assistants bustling about. Then the liquid gold of his eyes found Grimmjow, where the man stood before his mighty throne staring back at him with a slowly widening smile, and a smirk of his own tilted pale lips. Not that Grimmjow could see, but swaying out behind him, his fluffy white tail waggled in slow, happy motions. The guards that had escorted him stared in stunned disbelief for a moment before they quickly averted their gazes away from the pale man's backside.
"I'd like ta think we're passed those formalities." The shaman's smirk grew and he pushed the door further open so that he could step inside the mighty room.
The doorman stepped out of the way, uncertainly looking from his king, to the shaman and back again. In the past, such a thing would have never been allowed. A man like the shaman wouldn't have been allowed to wonder the castle free of chains, let alone enter the throne room bare, but they were no longer under Aizen's rule and Lord Jaegerjaquez wasn't quite as opposed to the unconventional. It left his staff with the problem of figuring out how to deal with such unprecedented occurrences.
Grimmjow let out a short laugh, the sound deep and rumbling in the large room. He nodded slightly, a single motion, as his blue eyes made a quick sweep of the shaman's approaching form. "Very well, Shiro, then. You're feeling well today?"
The shaman nodded, his lilting chuckle floating through the room. His distorted voice was still rough, still quiet, but it was returning and so was the strength behind it. "I'm up, am I not?"
"You are, and on your own as well." The king grinned and walked over to long table used for his meetings. Pulling a chair out, he motioned for the shaman to join him.
Shirosaki gratefully sank into the seat, folding his long legs underneath of him to sit cross-legged on the seat of the chair. His tail angled out around his side and out of his way as he sighed a small breath of relief, allowing his still recovering body to rest after the walk through the castle. Grimmjow said nothing about the slight tremble to the man as the king took a seat beside him. For once, he pulled aside an assistant and gave orders, allowing his meal -and one for Shiro- to be prepared for him and brought out rather than going to make it himself like he was used to doing. Of course, this time was different as he didn't want to leave the shaman alone, nor make the man follow him elsewhere so that they could eat.
As they waited, the shaman curiously looked about the large room. It was the very same he'd been dragged into before, when Aizen had been the ruling king, but he'd paid little attention to the room itself, far too busy focusing on the powerful and cruel man he'd been thrown before and later had fought against. Sitting beside him, Grimmjow was content to watch him and witness the fox shaman's reactions and curiosity. It was an animal like curiosity, the canine side of the man's being showing through what made him human. Grimmjow could almost see him scenting the air and he had little doubt that had Shiro been alone in the room, he would be doing exactly that; sniffing about at all the things that were foreign to him.
Still seated beside the king, the shaman's ears perked, swiveling in a quick jerk of motion before his line of sight followed. Golden eyes zeroed in on what had caught the shaman's attention in a way that only predatory creatures were capable of. The lean muscle of Shirosaki's body tightened, going rigidly still in tense readiness.
Blue bows furrowed slightly, a slight frowning marring the king's handsome features, as he turned to find what held the shaman's attention so well. His frown only deepened when he found the mostly blank wall of the castle. He looked back to Shiro, finding that the fox shaman's attention was still riveted in that direction, then turned to look back toward the wall.
A few banners hung along it's length, a few feet below ceiling level. Between them, golden sconces were mounted, the flickering of small flames dancing about the greys and browns of the stone. Further toward the floor, was smooth movement and a wide, amused grin pulled at Grimmjow's features as he realized what it was that held the fox's attention so. A cat, kept within the castle walls to keep vermin out, was slinking it's way along the perimeter of the room as it stalked about for prey.
To those used to being within the castle's walls, the small pack of mousing cats that were kept around had become a norm, background noise and movement that they hardly even noticed any more. But to a man that had lived alone in the wild, hunting and surviving as the creature he could take the form of, that slight movement easily caught his attention and interest.
Head tipping back, the king barked a laugh, startling both the cat and the man seated beside him. Both jolted, heads snapping around to look at him and Grimmjow laughed all the harder.
Shirosaki frowned slightly, realizing instantly what the bigger man found so amusing. His ears edged downward, loosing their alert quality and flattening in a canine display of what almost looked like sadness, or perhaps embarrassment. His eyes edged back toward the wall as the cat scurried from the room, following it's motions before he turned away from the king and sank a bit lower in his chair. An indignant, quiet grumble crawled up his throat, features taking on a forced blank expression.
"My apologies," Grimmjow said through the wide grin on his handsome features. "I don't mean to offend, I just wasn't expecting such a reaction from you."
"I cannot help it..." The shaman huffed a small breath, eyes still not meeting the king's. "The ears an' tail ain't just fer looks..." He muttered.
Smirking, the king leaned closer to the shaman, bringing his hand up to gently tug at one furred ear. The appendage flickered as if the touch had tickled and Grimmjow chuckled again. He didn't say anything, merely taking advantage of Shirosaki's canine heritage and scratching at the base of the man's ear. The next grumbling sound that left the shaman was one of enjoyment as his frown began to alleviate and he tilted his head into the petting just slightly.
"Do I need to have someone go out and buy you a ball to play with?" Grimmjow couldn't help but ask, finding the smaller man's antics rather amusing, endearing even.
Shiro jerked his head around, teeth bared and despite that he wasn't in his shifted animal form, they seemed to grow sharper. "I'm not a dog!" he snapped with an audible click of sharp teeth at the end. Then he realized the king had only been trying to get a reaction out of him and his aggressive expression melted back into one of slight irritation and sheepish embarrassment. Without a word, he nudged back into the bigger man's hand, a silent demand for the man to continue with his scratching. Grimmjow smirked and complied.
A few minutes passed in near silence, nothing but the quiet sounds of staff moving about. Those lower ranking men and women sent veiled looks toward their king and his strange guest; looks of suspicion, disapproval, even fear and superstition, but many were merely curious. The fox shaman had been there before, not so long ago. His visit had been under very different circumstances, obviously, but most of the people closest to Aizen had still at least heard rumor of his presence, if they hadn't seen the man in person. And again, when Grimmjow had carried the unconscious shaman through the castle, word had spread of the creature's presence and of how he'd been brought to the king's own chambers. But after nearly a month of the shaman being around, unseen and unheard, confined and unwell, the hype had died down, as had the surprise and outrage that had first plagued the staff.
Grimmjow, bold and outspoken as always, had quickly put a halt to the more negative opinions and suggestions earlier in that month. He'd even gone so far as to relieve a few of his advisors of their positions for what they'd said and conspired to do. The rest of the staff quickly understood that the shaman would be treated as if he were royalty as well. And, in the coming weeks, they would grow fond of the pale man as their king had.
Their meals arrived -food fit for kings- and the two watched as serving staff laid out the spread of fine foods. Grimmjow looked more annoyed about it all than anything, arms folding across his chest and a slight scowl pulling at his brows. He didn't particularly enjoy the lavish treatments his staff tried to bestow upon him, though he would admit that he was beginning to see how helpful such shows of extravagance could be when he was entertaining guests. Now however was different, this was his private dinner, not a show he needed to put on.
At the bigger man's side, Shirosaki looked on as if at a loss as to what he was supposed to do. Everything smelled wonderful to his enhanced senses, though much stronger than he was used to, when it wasn't cooked. The deep, redish colored drink set out in fancy, clear glasses smelled a little toxic for his tastes, but he watched Grimmjow gladly take up the matching glass that had been set out before the king. And then of course, there was the multiple sets of eating utensils and hovering staff standing nearby. He hardly knew where to start.
The king snorted a laugh, fully understanding the smaller male's reservations and hesitation, despite that he was surely hungry. "Don't worry about following proper decorum. We can worry about that later when it actually matters." Grimmjow stuck a bit from his plate into his mouth as he looked at the shaman. "For now, just enjoy."
Golden eyes cornered to glance at him before the shaman nodded and followed Grimmjow's lead. "This is going to be a lot to learn..."
"You've no idea." Grimmjow sighed. He'd lived in the castle for years! He'd followed Aizen nearly everywhere, including the bathroom on occasion when the man was feeling particularly paranoid or the advisors had reported a rumor about threats, and yet he was still having enough trouble learning all the absurd rules and regulations of being a well groomed ruler.
The shaman smirked at the slight undercurrent of exasperation to the blue haired man's tone. For a while, they shared a comfortable silence as they ate. Grimmjow told the man about the meeting he'd held earlier that day, but his mind seemed adrift, preoccupied. Finally, after they'd grown quiet again, he decided to speak what was on his mind.
"Shiro, now that your recovery seems assured... I would not make you stay. You're free to come and go as you please."
Shirosaki nodded a very small motion, looking up to study the king's impossibly blue eyes for just a moment. He may not have had the souls of his people to help him any longer, but they'd left with him his experience and his understanding and he still knew how to read others. "But you would have me stay."
Grimmjow hesitated, but his answer was obvious before he said it aloud. He understood that, by the man's very nature, Shiro was wild and not the type to be tamed or penned up within walls. "I would ask it of you, yes, but not demand it."
The shaman looked away, though not at anything in particular, and was quiet for a few moments as he thought and considered. Then he spoke, and his words were familiar. "I think... perhaps there are worse things than servitude to a king."
Grimmjow chuckled, a handsome smirk spreading across his features as he recognized the words, something he had told the man seated beside him not so long ago, but under very different circumstances.
"But I cannot promise I'll be of much use ta ya..." The smaller male added, his distorted voice quiet. He'd yet to determine how much of his abilities would return. It stood to reason that he'd at least be left with what a shaman of his original abilities should hold, simply his natural powers no longer amplified by the many souls of his people, but when dealing with magic, logic didn't always factor in.
The blue haired man snorted a harsh sound, his brows furrowing slightly as he turned in his chair to look upon the smaller. "I would not ask you to stay so that you could be of use to me. I would have you stay so that I can enjoy your company."
"Very well. I'll stay for a while at least, on one condition." The shaman said, turning to face the bigger man as well. The very tip of his tail twitched before it curled tighter about his side, resettling across his bare lap. His pale fingers ran through the soft fur with smooth motions, detangling the longer, fluffy strands.
"Name it." The king prompted, and witnessed as a vicious sneer twisted pale features and bared overly sharp teeth. When Shirosaki spoke, his voice was a rumbling, distorted growl.
"Destroy tha' cage."
The very next thing to come from the king's mouth was a command for just that. He ordered the magic sealing cage that resided in the dungeons below destroyed. Grabbing the colorless shaman's hand, he led the way from the throne room, down the corridor and down the stairs so that they could bear witness to it's destruction as metal bars were shorn, the symbols grated and gouged until they were unrecognizable. They stood by and watched as men dug up the flooring and ruined the cell the shaman had been held in until Shiro could no longer feel a single trace of the deadening effect to what little of his magic he had access to.
When Shirosaki was finally satisfied, Grimmjow had what was left of the broken, bent and mangled metal taken to the blacksmith where it would be melted down and either discarded or turned into something wholly different from it's original form and intentions. He then led the shaman back up into the main castle proper, out of the dank, shadowed dungeons and promised that that was the very last time he would ever make the pale man set foot below the main level.
And so the shaman stayed, even as he continued to regain his strength. In the days to come, the king and the white fox grew closer. With Shirosaki no longer being bed ridden so often, their relationship was given the chance to turn into something more than just the king caring for an ill man. It didn't take long for knowledge of the nature of their relationship to spread throughout the castle, no doubt spoken of by the guards that stood nightly watch at Grimmjow's bedchamber door, but aside from a few worried attempts at urging the young and unconventional king to heed caution when entangled with a magic user, Grimmjow and Shiro heard little that was outright negative from the bigger man's staff.
"We need to be quieter at night, Shiro." Grimmjow's voice was amused, that devastatingly handsome smirk of his showing in his deep tone.
The man he spoke to sighed a quiet noise and slowly opened his eyes to reveal their oddly entrancing color. His gaze was slow to focus as he pulled his mind back to the world in front of him, uncurling his long legs from underneath himself to loose his mediative position. "An' why's that?"
Grimmjow's smirk only grew as he walked up to the edge of the bed, where the shaman had chosen to situate himself while he searched. The pale man had been conducting his inner sweep nearly everyday, but he'd said little upon his findings, making Grimmjow wonder if perhaps there wasn't much to find. He remembered how devastated, how depressed, the shaman had been when he'd been locked in the dungeons and stripped of his magic. He supposed this was different, since it had been a willing purge and sacrifice, but still he hoped the pale man could find a way to hold on to at least a little of his magic, lest he continue to feel as though he'd lost something of himself.
The king pushed the smaller man's knees apart and stepped between them to look down upon him. He threaded his fingers through Shiro's wild mane of silken hair, tilting the shaman's head back so that those liquid golden eyes found his own chilled, blue gaze. "Because we are going to scar my guards."
Shiro smirked, looking up at the king. "Ya've little use for them anyway. Between my heightened senses and your fighting prowess, ya've little ta worry about."
"I suppose you're right." Grimmjow's thumb brushed along the petal soft, colorless lips as he searched the eyes trained up at him. He almost feared to ask the question that was on his mind.
He didn't need to ask it, though, the shaman could see the question in expressive blue orbs. He looked away from the king, his vision training on his pale hands as his ashen brows furrowed slightly. The shaman sighed another small breath and finally looked back up at the bigger man, his hands raising to toy with the front of Grimmjow's expensive shirt, clothing fit for a king.
"It is...slow." He informed, a bit of a wry smirk tugging at one corner of his lips. "But it is returning."
With the last of his words, previously blunt, black nails sharpened and elongated as if to prove his statement. Grimmjow caught the flash of canine mischief that took over inverted eyes as Shirosaki's claws sliced through the front of his shirt, shredding the fabric with ease but never touching his bare skin below. Grimmjow chuckled a low, deep sound and shrugged out of the ruined shirt as he pushed Shiro backward and down onto the bed.
The shaman, already naked since he'd confined himself to the king's private chambers during his meditation, wrapped his long legs around Grimmjow's waist as the bigger man crawled up onto the bed. He tilted his head back as the bigger man buried his features against Shiro's neck before kissing and nipping at the underside of his jaw. The fox shifter's claws scraped at the backs of tanned, muscular shoulders as an aroused sound crawled up his pale throat.
Grimmjow hissed a quiet breath between his teeth and Shiro let up, retracting his wicked claws so that they reverted back to human-like nails as he found the king's lips in an apologetic kiss. The bigger man growled a possessive sound into the kiss and slid Shiro up further on the bed, big hands gripping slim hips.
Standing at their post outside their king's bedchamber door, the guards shared a quick glance as the shaman's watery, distorted voice sang a pleasured cry through the closed portal, signifying the beginning of what was bound to be a long and rather vocal coupling.
Shirosaki's back arched away from the mattress, his pale hands twisting almost desperately into the sheets as Grimmjow thrust into him. The king, so strong and brutal in nearly every way, gave him hardly the chance to even voice his pleasure and the sounds stuttered in his throat as he tried to breathe around the need quickly pooling in his belly.
The door guards adamantly kept their vision trained straight ahead at the wall opposite the king's chambers, backs straight and posture perfect, even as a lilting, euphoric cry marked the crest of the shaman's pleasure. A deep, growling baritone followed it, the king's own voicing verging on a drawn out moan. They would grow used to it and in an odd sort of way, it helped to show the castle staff that Grimmjow truly meant to keep the shaman around.
With each day, more of the shaman's abilities returned. He could feel the returning magic flow through his veins and sing in his blood. That fox form that was so much a part of him drew nearer, clawing through the drain on his power as if reaching out to him. And he reached desperately back to it, scrabbling and clawing it from the depths it'd been hidden below. Sometimes Grimmjow would walk in on him while he was searching, only to witness as the man snarled and bared fanged teeth, white ears dropping back in vicious threat, but his eyes held that far away look and Grimmjow knew he was struggling with himself.
Sometimes, the shaman would half shift. His long, flowing hair would bristle and rounded pupils would elongate. The air would crackle with energy before it cracked with an audible snap and the pale man would jerk painfully, a choked yelp fleeing his throat. The first time it had happened, Grimmjow had jumped at the unexpected sound, only to surge forward as Shirosaki's pained sound proceeded his exhausted collapse. The guards posted outside the king's chambers had broken through the lock, fearing the two were in danger. They found their king holding the smaller, brushing long hair from his pale features in the effort to get the shaman to respond to him. The failed attempt left Shiro panting and trembling in his bigger lover's arms.
But the shaman refused to give in. To take away his abilities, the other form he could shift into, was to take away part of who he was. It was to strip him and leave him more bare then the lack of clothing ever could. He couldn't bring himself to accept that he was meant to survive the ritual that had allowed him to set free the spirits of his people but not regain his very being.
All the while, duties through out the castle continued. Grimmjow attended meetings and held audiences with neighboring people and kingdoms. His advisors were always hard at work, discussing the new, better reign they would help Lord Jaegerjaquez create. All traces of Aizen's rule were wiped clean from the castle and eventually, from the rest of the village as well. The people liked having a ruler that wasn't of noble birth, a king that had roots in their community. He was a man that had grown up among them and so knew of their daily struggles. He was someone they could connect to, yet someone they had seen in action and so knew of his power and capabilities.
Occasionally, Shiro would attend the meetings with his new king, though he despised that the royal advisors insisted that he wear proper attire and demanded he be dressed nearly as finely as Grimmjow himself. To their way of thinking, if their king was going to be associated with another man, said man would look every bit the part.
The shaman went along with it willingly enough, after realizing how important appearances could be in the subtle, conniving games high standing people seemed to play. He allowed himself to be groomed, his long hair combed and detangled and even tied back on occasion. As patiently as he was capable of, he stood by and allowed himself to be measured and fitted so that the king's advisors could commission an entire wardrobe's worth of clothing for him. But the one thing he refused to go along with was the attempt to find an adequate way to hide his tail and ears. When the notion of hiding what he was was brought up, he snarled a refusal and shot down every idea. The king was consulted, Grimmjow's advisors hoping they could get the blue haired man to talk some sense into his unique lover, but to their chagrin, Grimmjow had agreed with Shirosaki.
The pale man's identity became something of an intimidation factor in Lord Jaegerjaquez's meetings and parties. Seeing that it was early in Grimmjow's reign, not all of those from neighboring kingdoms agreed with his rise to power and it was quickly learned that Shiro's heightened senses were a powerful thing to have around. Despite that Grimmjow had guards present nearly every where he went, and despite that he could easily take care of himself, none could detect danger or trouble as quickly as the fox shaman. Like all canines, he just innately knew when something wasn't right and he did little in hiding that he knew something wasn't right. His ears would drop back and pale lips would peel away to flash sharpened teeth at the culprit before said person could even attempt whatever he'd had planned.
Word spread quickly that the new king had found himself a powerful ally, never mind that Shirosaki didn't even have access to most of his magic. That was a detail conveniently left out. Most often, the shaman didn't say a word from his seat at the king's right. He didn't need to. His unnerving, inverted gaze was often enough to keep those visiting Lord Jaegerjaquez's castle in their places.
But at the end of the day, when all the formalities were stripped away and the game of being royalty was over, the shaman and the king would retreat to Grimmjow's private wing of the castle to enjoy a quiet meal and Shiro would continue to struggle with his lack of shifting. They would fall into a deep, exhausted sleep when the pale man finally gave up for the night, the smaller huddling against the king's chest as Grimmjow held him tight, knowing his failure brought more than just physical pain.
Eventually, however, Shirosaki's persistence paid off. Months after his arrival at the castle, he was more or less pushed into shifting by circumstance. The two, shaman and king, left the castle with the intentions of getting some fresh air and giving themselves a break from the necessary but trying duties of being in power. They took their time, meandering through the castle's extensive courtyard before Grimmjow decided he was sick of being on castle grounds altogether. Their movements were shadowed by a handful of castle guards, including the two that were normally posted outside the king's chambers, and despite that they were growing used to the ever present entourage, Grimmjow and Shirosaki still despised it. Both were capable and felt they didn't require guards.
Snagging the shaman's pale hand, Grimmjow turned them in the direction of the royal stables, where his stallion and other horses were housed. Shiro smirked, knowing just what his king had in mind, reading his intentions in vibrant, expressive eyes. It was sad really, that they had to make a run for it to get any time to themselves outside the bedroom. But that's just what they did and the pale man laughed as Grimmjow grinned back and they both took off through the lush grass as a swift, sprinting pace.
As Grimmjow threw aside the door to the stables and the two slipped inside, a large, darkly colored head poked out, ears perked forward and the king happily pulled the half hight door to the stall open. The big stallion tossed it's mane and Grimmjow handed the bridle and halter over to the shaman as he hefted the saddle from it's post. The king quickly threw the saddle over the horse's back, cinching it tight around it's belly, as Shiro pressed the bit into the horse's mouth and slipped the halter over it's nose.
By the time the guards caught up to the them, the horse was ready to ride and Grimmjow had already swung up onto it's back. He was in the process of pulling Shiro up behind him, one arm extended and clasped against a pale one, when the guards rushed into the barn. The king took one look at them, his blue eyes bright and mischievous, and finished pulling the smaller male up with him before tapping his heels to the horse's flanks.
The guards scattered, fleeing the big beast's path as it heeded it's rider's commands and bolted from the stable. Seated behind Grimmjow, Shiro wrapped lean arms around the bigger male's waist, leaning close as Grimmjow guided them from the castle's grounds. They knew the guards would likely attempt to follow, at least their two ever present watch dogs, but even just the few minutes of freedom they'd bought themselves would do them a great deal of good.
"Why do ya not just order them ta leave us be?" Shiro asked as they flew through the countryside, avoiding the village and the people within. "They weren't followin' ya when ya came ta find me in the forest..."
"Yes, but I think that was so only because they were afraid of you more so than because they feared me." Grimmjow chuckled and gave a light tug on the reins to slow their mount. The horse snorted, it's quick steps slowing a bit reluctantly. But the slower pace made the ride more comfortable for it's passengers and allowed the two high standing men time to simply talk and enjoy each other's company.
Their ride was leisurely, peaceful for while, and quiet. Only the sounds of birds chirping in the trees that closed in on one side of the path and the crunching of the horse's hooves broke the silence. A fond smirk tugged across handsome, angular features as Grimmjow felt his more than human companion tilt fair features into the breeze. Gold on black eyes slid shut as Shiro enjoyed the fresh air and the freedom that accompanies the fleeing of enclosing walls.
Grimmjow, guiding his warhorse with his knees, rotated his upper half so that he could turn and look more fully at his colorless companion. He reached behind himself, his long fingers tangling in long, ashen locks, and pulled Shiro closer against him. Pink lips found the shaman's in a breathtaking kiss. The shaman's hands flattened against the bigger man's abdomen, his arms tightening around Grimmjow's waist.
Not a moment later, the fox shaman broke the kiss with all haste, his ears snapping forward and alert as his head whipped around to the side. Cunning, bright golden eyes searched the tree line for a half second before the low whistle of an arrow cut through the silence. The projectile zipped off the horse's tack and flew just barely passed Grimmjow and his companion.
Startled and trained for battle, the big warhorse brayed an aggressive sound and reared, pawing at the air. A startled, very vulpine yelp and the screech of black claws on ornamental armor announced as Shirosaki lost his hold around the king and was thrown from the back of the horse.
He hit the hard packed earth of the path with a grunt and rolled over to attempt pulling himself to his feet as the horse reared again and danced about. Still in the saddle, Grimmjow pulled against the reins, trying to get the big animal to calm down and not trample the pale shaman.
"Shiro!" The horse danced a circle as Grimmjow's deep voice rang through the air. Another arrow whistled through the air. It scrapped against the king's armor, but didn't find purchase in vulnerable flesh and the big man snarled an aggressive sound, still attempting to get his horse to calm while he pulled his sword from it's scabbard.
Shirosaki threw up his arms, teeth bared in fright, as the large mount's front hooves finally made to descend, right where he still struggled on the ground. Instinct took over. The shaman, eyes wide as he stared up at the massive hooves of a 1300 pound beast, turned in the attempt to scramble out from under the animal. His pointed ears flattened, fluffy tail tucked between his legs and, as he had long grown used to over his life, his size began to shrink. Fur took root, muscle contracted and bone reformed and out from under the warhorse and the king that rode it, an agile, white fox scurried.
Blue eyes went wide with surprise and Grimmjow leaned over the side of his mount to watch as the tenacious little creature darted toward the trees. "Hey! Shiro, don't!"
But of course the shaman ignored him. Freedom sang in his veins, a pleasure he had not known in far too long, despite all the various other pleasures the new king had shown him. And now someone was threatening that king, the very man that had saved the shaman multiple times and helped him put an end to the malicious Aizen's reign.
Small but deadly teeth bared in a furious snarl as the fox surged into the trees. His small size and swift agility made it so the thick underbrush hardly hindered him at all. Another arrow flew from the bow of the being attempting harm on the new king and Shiro sprang, his small but powerful body leaving the ground to collide with the human hiding in the trees.
Just as the arrow sailed through the air, the man shouted a surprised and pained sound, vulpine fangs and claws tearing into the flesh of his shoulder and clavicle. Grimmjow clenched his teeth, a grunt crawling from stunned lungs as the arrow found it's mark this time and slid through the join in his armor to punch into his ribcage below his sword arm. He hissed an breathless shout, doubling over against his mount's neck, arm going numb and sword clattering to the ground, but he kept a firm hold of the reins with his uninjured left hand and turned the horse in the direction the shaman had gone.
White teeth bared in both anger and pain, he prepared to drive his heels into the horse's flanks and charge into the forest after his lover and whoever had shot him, but the appearance of two mounted guards halted him. One charged up to his side, holding his horse steady as he guided his own mount along Grimmjow's and placed himself between the king and the danger lurking in the forest. Grimmjow started to push him away, pointing toward the tree line and breathlessly trying to tell the guard Shirosaki had gone in alone, but the second guard was already entering the shadowed trees.
A few moments later, Shirosaki, naked and very human, stumbled from the tree line, panting but unharmed. His golden eyes, bright and fiery, found Grimmjow still astride his horse and a wide, overjoyed smile spread across pale lips. Despite the blood seeping beneath his armor, the king's handsome features transformed into a grin as well. The shaman's tail wagged harder than he'd ever seen as the pale man seemed to float over the uneven ground and across the path, his movements smooth and graceful. Grimmjow extended the arm of his unwounded side and Shiro carefully accepted the help in remounting the big horse, locking Grimmjow in a fiery, joyful kiss.
The culprit was hauled back to the castle in chains, where he was tried for his crimes against Lord Jaegerjaquez. The new king, white bandages wrapped firmly around his abdomen to keep the arrow puncture clean and sterile while he healed, was perhaps more lenient than he should have been. Rather than condemning the man for his attempted murder, Grimmjow thanked him for helping the shaman find his shifted form, and sentenced him to life in servitude, where he would be shackled and put to work for whatever remained of his years. Shirosaki was not pleased that bigger man hadn't had the criminal executed for what he'd been attempting and not even a full twenty-four hours later, the would-be murderer was found dead, his throat slit in the dark of night, still locked in his cell. No one questioned it, nor mourned the loss.
Undeniably happy now that he'd been granted his fox shape once more, Shiro practically pranced around the castle wherever he went and it wasn't uncommon to see a small, white shape dart about, creeping through the shadows and even on occasion chasing the castle's mousing cats. Grimmjow found it all rather amusing, despite that more than one shrill scream had startled the staff awake when someone would accidently stumble upon the unexpected body of a mouse or, in a few cases, one of the cats hidden somewhere it shouldn't have been...
But for the most part, during the early stages of the king's quick recovery, the two relaxed in private. The shaman would curl up at Grimmjow's side, whether in fox form or as a man, and smirk a pleased grin as the king's long fingers ran through white strands and over soft ears.
The guards posted outside the king's doors were pleased when the first night was quiet, thinking they'd get at least a few days rest. Oh how wrong they were. The second night of Lord Jaegerjaquez's recovery, the pair made up for the night of rest and the guards stood watch, features flushed red, as Grimmjow's growling voice echoed through the large room and seeped through the door, coupled with his shaman's lilting, pleasured cries.
Grimmjow returned to his royal duties four days after receiving his injury, accompanied by his trusty shaman, though the people attending the meeting knew not that the Lord's new pet was the very same man that had attended a few other private councils.
The meeting of high standing land owners was relaxed enough, the atmosphere light and friendly. Unlike with the late king Aizen, Grimmjow preferred things to be less tense and less fear inspiring, though that wasn't to say he allowed anyone to forget who he was. He sat upon his throne at the head of the large room, his clothing expensive and fit for a king. His right arm was still bound in a sling, held tight against his wounded ribcage, but it didn't seem the wound slowed him nor dulled his senses. He assured his guests, after they had inquired, that he would make a full recovery with no lasting effects aside from a pretty new scar.
The affair was quick, kept brief, as was to Grimmjow's liking, and now the Lord and his guests sat and spoke of things with little consequence, enjoying the new king's hospitality and fine wine. On the opposite side of the room, a small, white creature stalked toward the wall that housed the entryway and a grin slowly pulled across Grimmjow's handsome features as his startlingly blue eyes followed the graceful movements.
"Shiro..." Grimmjow's deep voice was a low drawl, but amusement laced his tone. He propped the elbow of his left arm on the armrest of the mighty chair he sat in. The polished armor he wore gleamed in the lighting, but was strapped to fit loosely for comfort purposes. He was surrounded by his best men, including one that was more than just human: he had little to worry about.
White, canine ears perked before swiveling backward in the direction his voice had called from. The small fox hesitated a moment more, vivid eyes locked on one of the castle's mousing cats as the feline stalked around the edge of the large room in hunt. Grimmjow arched a brow, a small sound somewhere between a sigh and a rumble escaping.
Finally, the fox's head turned and Shirosaki looked over his slim shoulder and toward the once-knight. His golden eyes were bright and lively with his obvious want to chase after the cat, like any creature of the canine variety would. Lean, honed muscle rippled below flawless white fur as the fox shifted a step toward the cat, hardly keeping himself from chasing the poor thing down, though still he faced Grimmjow, blue tongue lolling from canine jaws in a happy expression.
"Leave the cat alone, Shiro..." Grimmjow sighed, but a smirk found it's way to his handsome features. He ignored the men and women he was supposed to be addressing, not that they minded. They seemed equally as amused, though likely for different reasons. Besides, he was the king now, he could do whatever the hell he wanted. "If you kill or scare away another one, you'll have to be the castle's new mouser."
The fox's happy smile fell, tongue hidden and jaws snapping shut. His shoulders hunched a bit, head no longer held quite so high and proud as he turned and sulked his way over to Grimmjow, finally leaving the poor cat alone. Lord Jaegerjaquez chuckled, the sound deep and rich, and patted his lap as the fox glared up at him from the floor.
The almost pouting expression gave way to another pleased smile as Shirosaki leapt from the floor to land in his king's lap. He made a few circles before settling his little body down, making himself comfortable where he lay. As he settled his head across his paws, Grimmjow settled his hand atop the fox's head, gently, almost lovely, stroking soft white fur.
"What a well behaved little pet, Lord Jaegerjaquez." One of king Grimmjow's guests chuckled, not privy to the knowledge that the creature he spoke about wasn't quite what it seemed, or that it wasn't merely a pet. "I'd heard the late Lord Aizen had acquired such a rare creature, is this the same?"
The white fox let out a rumbling growl and bared sharp teeth at the man, though he didn't move and seemed content enough where he lay in the king's lap. Grimmjow never ceased his petting, moving to scratch under the fox's chin and make his fluffy white tail wag a bit as the condescending comment was forgotten in favor of enjoying the king's attention. A wide, knowing grin ate the lower half of Grimmjow's features. Even a few of his advisors and staff chuckled at the guest's comment and Shirosaki's reactions. He may have been a man, the king's lover and a powerful shaman, but it seemed there were certain canine traits he just couldn't control.
"Something like that." Grimmjow answered the man, glancing down at the happy creature in his lap as he ran his fingers through colorless fur. "It was I who originally...obtained Shiro, at the request of my predecessor. He'd always seemed more fond of myself over Aizen, though."
"It's hardly a wonder, my Lord." One of Grimmjow's closest advisors flashed the king a teasing smile as he spoke. "Aizen was never the type to lavish his pets as you do."
Grimmjow's laughter caused the relaxed fox to flinch, gold on black eyes snapping open before Shirosaki calmed and went back to enjoying the petting, though he turned a pointed look on the advisor. The man simply inclined his head in silent recognition of the shaman's attention.
The shaman lay curled in Grimmjow's lap for the rest of the king's meeting, as he often did. Grimmjow appreciated his judgement during such things, since the once-knight was still new to all of this and advisors could only help so much. Though the fox appeared to be dozing as he enjoyed his master's pettings, the shaman was ever alert, his heightened senses turned outward. If someone made to lie to Lord Jaegerjaquez, the shaman knew. If someone meant harm upon the king, or attempted to cheat him, the shaman knew.
In the coming weeks, the white creature would become a well known of companion to the king. Whenever Grimmjow traveled outside his castle, he rarely brought guards along, but he always brought his pet fox. Even when traveling to neighboring villages and kingdoms, the fox accompanied him. Most found it strange at first, especially the other high standing members of the surrounding kingdoms, but all got used to it quickly enough and came to expect to see the white creature at the king's side. For the most part, Grimmjow and Shirosaki agreed to keep the majority of the citizens in the dark about the fox's and shaman's true identity; that they were really one in the same. Of course, the people closest to the king and his unique lover knew of their secret.
When the meeting finally ended and the king's guests filtered from the room, leaving the king, the shaman and a handful of advisors left in the mighty throne room, Grimmjow propped his chin on his fist and smirked down at the pleased smile tugging at the white fox's lips as he scratched behind pointed ears, always a favored spot.
A pleased, grumbling sound that could have almost passed as a canine purr slipped from Shirosaki's throat as he slit golden eyes open and finally shifted so that he sat up, facing the king, though still in his lap. Grimmjow lifted a single brow, noting the swirl in golden irises. "Found a good spot, hmm?"
"Ya've no idea." The shaman answered in a lilting voice that was perhaps a bit deeper than normal as he began shifting. Most of the people closest to Grimmjow within the castle were starting to get used to the shaman's presence, even his use of magic, and so those around the throne room simply ignored as what was once a small white fox sitting in their king's lap became very much a man, still seated in the king's lap.
Shirosaki arched his back in a stretch that was surely meant to pull the bigger man's attention toward less than innocent thoughts, pulling all the lean muscle of his abdomen taut. Pale arms circled around Grimmjow's neck, colorless fingers finding the thick blue hair at the back of the once-knight's head.
A smirk tugged at handsome features as Grimmjow settled his left hand along the shaman's slim, bare hips, his thumb teasing at the point of Shiro's hip. His blue eyes happily drank in the sight presented to him as the naked man straddled him: all lean, elegant curves and gracefully sculpted muscle. Hand gliding over smooth skin, he wrapped his arm tightly around Shirosaki's waist, pulling the shaman flush against his own torso as his lips found the other's pale throat.
"Leave us." He managed to rumble a simple command to his advisors before his tongue and teeth began exploring, pulling a pleasured gasp from Shiro's bared throat. White fingers tightened reflexively in blue hair as the few advisors that had still been present quickly and quietly fled the room, giving their new king and his shaman some privacy.
"Wha' is it that my king desires?" The shaman asked in a suggestive voice, head tilted back as Grimmjow's lips and teeth mapped his neck and throat.
A wicked, nearly lewd grin spread across Grimmjow's angular features, his crystalline eyes aglow. "I desire a white fox."
I quite enjoyed writing this, but it's nice to mark something off my list too~
Your thoughts about it, please?