Hello everyone! *waves stupidly*

In case you didn't already know, I'll be gone for a week starting on Saturday. I don't know what day I'll be coming back. I don't know. I don't know.

All I know is that, while I'm gone, I'll be typing outside my camper with lemonade resting on a table beside me and the sun shining down through the trees making strange patterns on the ground beneath me.

See? A true author's heart.

So I'll be back soon! Read, review, and have a great summer guys! See ya in a week! :D


When Ichigo first opened his eyes the only thing he wanted to do was go back to sleep. Mentally thanking the universe that the day was Friday, that's exactly what he did. Ichigo turned over onto his other side and buried his face in his pillow... Odd, he didn't recall any of his pillows to be this comfortable.

And just like that, Ichigo was wide awake.

He jumped out of his bed and landed ass first on the floor. Starring up with horror he found the object of his thought-to-be-dream lying across the mattress. Ichigo ran his fingers through his hair and let out an exhausted sigh, even though he happened to be well rested. In fact, Ichigo couldn't remember the last night when he slept this well... and the only difference between now and then was the albino.

Anyways, the main point was that a stranger was sleeping in his bed and Ichigo was half naked on the floor beside him. He rolled over onto his hands and knees, then from there pushed himself back up onto his feet.

He lazily took jeans, a black and blue plaid shirt and the necessary under garments from his closet. Ichigo then jogged to his bathroom where he set the shower to the desired temperature, stripped and entered.

The water was just slightly hotter than warm, but felt heavenly against Ichigo's back. He used a large brush to scrub the dirt from his shoulders and down his spine, and then used a cloth to smooth over his arms, torso and legs.

Ichigo took a bottle of shampoo from his shelf and poured a large puddle onto his hand. He left the lid open as he placed the bottle back onto the shelf, spread the soap across each hand then brought the 'feminine' shampoo to his hair. Scrubbing roughly, Ichigo managed to turn the clear soap brown with the amount of dirt in his hair. Ichigo was a football player at the college he was stuck in, and he also worked in the storage unit of a store nearby. Dirt plus dust equals thick layer of crap in hair.

Ichigo rinsed his hair out and watched a big puddle of brown muck gather at his feet. When he could finally make out the orange color of his hair again, he turned off the shower and stepped out. Just as Ichigo managed to put on his pants, there was a loud bang at the bathroom door.

"It's too early in the morning for this..." Ichigo sighed. He opened the door.

The stranger came bolting in. Wrapping his arms around Ichigo's waist, he buried his face in his shoulder and proceeded to whimper.

"Hey!" Ichigo cried.

The stranger jumped and stumbled backwards. Mysterious eyes lit up with fear and stared with intense sorrow at the orangette.

"Sorry," Ichigo gasped, thought quietly this time. He held out his hand and smiled the best smile he possibly could. It was easy, no acting necessary. "I didn't mean to scare you. I won't hurt you."

Though the stranger still looked puzzled, Ichigo notice a smile tugging at his pale lips. After a lot of patience, Ichigo watched the stranger smile, his teeth unnaturally white just like the rest of his body.

"Do you have a name?"

The stranger paused, putting a finger to his lips in thought. Ichigo noticed the action to be rather cute, but dismissed those thoughts the instant they came. The stranger then opened his mouth. At first he resembled a fish, no noise escaping his throat. Then came a stutter, it was soft but Ichigo still heard it, "Sh... Sh-Shir-ro..."

"Shiro?" Ichigo repeated.

The stranger nodded with a smile.

"Shiro it is then," Ichigo confirmed. He gently patted the newly named, Shiro's head and found his hands in a pile of dirt. Ichigo gently took hold of Shiro's hand and examined the battered and bony flesh with delicacy. "You're filthy," Ichigo stated.

Shiro's eyebrows, as hard as they might've been to see, knitted together.

Ichigo chuckled and watched a small sparkle of enjoyment light up Shiro's eyes. He dusted it off, and then gave Shiro's arm a gentle pull.

Shiro didn't move. He just stared, confused.

"Well come on then," Ichigo encouraged. He pulled again and this time Shiro followed.

Ichigo shut the door and turned on the fan. He then put down the toilet seat and Shiro sat. From the seat Shiro observed Ichigo, every flex of his muscles, every lift of his arm or twist of his joints. He loved them, all the little things Ichigo did, and possibly even without knowing he did them.

Meanwhile, Ichigo was very focused on preparing the tub. He put in bubble bath, thinking it foolish, but simply couldn't resist the urge. He also prepared a towel and a face cloth, set the temperature to the one he liked then sat back and waited for the tub to fill.

Not too long after, Ichigo carefully helped Shiro into the tub and slowly introduced him to the temperature. After getting the albino to sit fully, the rest came easy.

Ichigo shut off the water, picked up a cloth and started washing Shiro like a child. Shiro seemed very cooperative, but in truth he just enjoyed feeling loved. It was a nice feeling, being welcomed and taken care of, though he hadn't gotten much of it before...

Before... That sentence spoke as if there was a before, but Shiro couldn't remember. All he could remember was the alley, the scary people who tried to touch him, the terrifying old lady... and then his angel: a man with a voice of strength and purity, a spirit that glowed through his human shell and a kind and loving heart.

Ichigo rubbed the shampoo across his hands then began to thread his fingers through Shiro's hair. The dirt came out easily and after a bit all that was left were Shiro's smooth strands. Ichigo became lost in a small trance. His scrubbing turned gentle and his fingers began a kneading motion. Shiro's eyes fluttered shut as he became lost in the amazing touch. He must have dozed off because next thing he knew Ichigo's hands had found his shoulders and were now rubbing away an annoying knot in one of Shiro's muscles.

"I-I-I..."

Ichigo blinked, the albino's stutter pulling him away from his trance.

"I... ch-chi..."

Ichigo blinked again, this time from understanding. He listened carefully, his hands still unconsciously resting on Shiro's shoulders.

"I-I... chi... g-go..."

"Are you...?" Ichigo couldn't believe his ears. "Are you... trying to say my name?"

Shiro nodded, swallowed the saliva that had gathered in his mouth then spoke with much more clarity, "I-Ichig-go..."

Ichigo's heart skipped a beat.

"Ichi... go."

Ichigo understood now. This was the albino's way of saying thanks. Thanks for caring, for being kind, for understanding... Thanks for not running away.

"Ichigo."

Ichigo froze. One of many reasons was because of Shiro's voice. It was close to his own, but softer and stronger. There was determination and success, and despite Shiro's still slightly dirtied appearance, his voice was rich and filled with beauty.

Ichigo had never noticed so much in a voice before. It terrified him, yet intrigued him.

He smiled and took the shower hose from where it hung. Ichigo carefully rinsed Shiro's hair, the albino too distracted by the soap bubbles to really care. Ichigo watched and his smile grew.

He's like a kid... Ichigo thought. He's lonely, but strong. Brave and curious too.

Then another thought appeared within Ichigo's mind. One he never would have seen coming a week ago, but just felt so right to think now. I'll protect you Shiro. I'll give you what you need, and I won't let anyone ruin your spirit.