hey guys (waves sheepishly) long time no see? sorry about the looong disappearance but i had been really busy since april last year (what with project deadlines, exams, internship... rinse wash and cycle x2) and had not since catch a breathing break :( i just finished the second cycle of project-exam-internship and it seemed like the third cycle is starting immediately, sigh...
anyway, for this chapter... let's all BOW DOWN to the great and AWESOME Hiei098! without her, this chapter would not have been possible! i had two versions of the beginning and i wanted both but had no idea what to do... and with her AWESOME-ness, she stepped in and literally sewed and stitched the two together! she's awesome and i have no idea what i'll do without her... (XIV will probably take a few more months if she had not stitched them together) THANKYOU HIEI098 :D :D
also, to the really patient readers, thank you and sorry to keep you waiting... on a side note, i realised that some people may find it rude that i hardly rarely barely respond to any reviews :( please know that i really do appreciate all your comments but me, being the socially awkward person (despite how i may sound here), have no idea what to write back... i would probably take one hour, agonising over my response to one review :( socially awkward is thy name...
currently, un-edited yet... it's late and i just finished it and i wanted to get this up before i went to sleep, so editing will be done soon (: oh right, XIV is the conclusion of this 'arc', a new 'arc' begins at the bottom but could be ignored if you prefer to since it's probably nothing exciting... so mark it 'complete' if you like (:
so i shall stop yakking, the AN is rather long... ENJOY! :D hopefully the next update would not be in a years' time :D
EDIT(6-6-2012): Please scroll to the end for AN note on marking "complete" for this fiction.
List of OCs:
In room 1,
- Kanai Yuusuke (Ichigo's first friend in the Academy, slight worrywart, very perceptive person)
- Ohira Kuranosuke (used to be Ichigo's roommate, half joker half serious, excelling in classes)
- Seto Hizanshi (used to be Ichigo's roommate, full time joker)
- Kuchiki Ryuuha (used to be Grimm's roommate, calm but slightly stuck up)
In room 2,
- Takada Kouhei (used to be Grimm's roommate, has an interest in Ichigo, overall nice guy but used to be a player)
- xx Takeshi (used to be Grimm's roommate, mediator type)
- Aikawa Shinya (cheerful, happy, probably scheming something, interested in Grimmjow)
- Hatoyama Seiji (fellow schemer, quiet, more observant)
Kuchiki Rin (Ryuuha's twin sister, calm, kind, upper class feeling, a bit blunt)
disclaimer: i don't own Bleach
Silence reigned in the room for a full minute after Ichigo's story.
"Fuck, shit," Grimmjow ran a hand through his hair, trying to digest Ichigo's words.
Could what Ichigo really said about him be real?
"No, no way, you can't really expect me to believe that, do you?" He let a snort of disbelief escaped him which slowly morphed into half-hysterical laughter.
He could not help but felt he was being lied to. If this story was true then why did Ichigo not told him right from the start? It would have been a lot more convincing. Then again, he probably would not have believed Ichigo either. The whole story was too far-fetched. Irritation rose in him as his thoughts whirled faster and faster with the possibilities of truth and lies. He just wanted a clear answer!
"Fuck, Ichigo, are you done lying to me?" Grimmjow finally said after a long pause, "If you don't want to tell me the real reason, fine! But do you need to make up something so ludicrous as this?"
"...you don't believe me," Ichigo said slowly, as though he could not understand that Grimmjow refused to believe him.
"Fuck yes, of course I don't believe you. Did you think you could make up something and force me to believe you - woah!" Grimmjow's eyes widened at the blade that was suddenly embedded in the wall behind him, the sharp edge barely an inch away from his neck.
"Shut up!" Ichigo snarled, his amber eyes flashing, "If you don't want to believe it, fine! But don't you dare insult my memory of him. Ludicrous? To you probably, but not to me. So don't you fucking dare sit there and -"
The next moment, Ichigo found himself pinned to the bed with Grimmjow's hand wrapped around his neck, "Him?" Grimmjow growled, "Who the fuck is him? You said that I was him and now you are separating us, so what exactly is it!"
There were only harsh pants from Grimmjow as Ichigo stared at him silently. Grimmjow's hand tightened its hold on Ichigo's neck whose face was blank and expressionless. What exactly was Ichigo trying to do? First he made up a complicated story that Grimmjow was finding it hard to believe and now it seemed like Ichigo was -
"He's him and you're you. You're not him," Ichigo finally said, turning his head away from Grimmjow.
Grimmjow froze, rage and anger taking over. He snarled viciously as he gripped Ichigo's chin tightly, forcing it up into the air and causing Ichigo to take in a deep sharp breath. Grimmjow's lips covered Ichigo's fast and hard, stealing Ichigo's breath and devouring him. The lack of response from Ichigo angered him but he forced himself to pull back. Grimmjow had no idea how far he would go in hurting Ichigo if he did not stop.
Taking several deep breaths to force himself to calm down, Grimmjow leaned his forehead onto Ichigo's, "I want to know, Ichi… just who am I… your enemy, your lover or what… just who the hell am I to you!"
"…I …I'll show you,"
Grimmjow's anger was literally knocked away with Ichigo's words, "Wha – "
"I said, I'll show you. You obviously don't believe me so why should I waste my breath. With us, actions always speak louder anyway," That said, Ichigo gripped Grimmjow's wrist and twisted, easily forcing Grimmjow's grip off and earning a surprised grunt in the process.
Pushing Grimmjow off, Ichigo immediately went over to his bedside to grab the Asauchi that was resting on the wall there. Grimmjow frowned as he pushed himself into a seating position. What did Ichigo meant by showing him? Were they going to fight? But that would not accomplish anything. That would not explain anything.
"Take your zanpakutou," Ichigo said, gesturing to the blade embedded in the wall.
"…isn't that yours?"
Ichigo gave a wry half-smile at the comment, "It's yours. Remember where I told you about the part about killing you –"
"Stop looking so guilty. If it really did happen, I wouldn't blame you," Grimmjow cut in irritably when Ichigo's expression changed for the umpteenth time at the mention of that particular memory.
Ichigo stared at him quietly for a few second before seeming to shake himself of his own thoughts, "Right, er… so anyway, you passed her to me then and I'm just returning her to you now,"
Grimmjow took it hesitantly. And immediately felt a small resonance at the back of his mind. Something or someone was there, right back where they belonged.
"It was supposed to be your birthday present but…" Ichigo trailed off, looking awkward before turning around and heading towards the door, "Let's go,"
"Where're we going?"
"The training rooms,"
Grimmjow unsheathed his zanpakutou, holding it up in the false light and examining it. The blue guard, the familiar curves and turns. The blade, narrow and sharp. The way he liked it. Was this really his?
He turned his head and glanced at Ichigo. They were in one of the sand-covered training rooms and Ichigo was pacing up and down, wearing a trail in the sand. Grimmjow frowned at the expression on Ichigo's face. It looked like he was debating furiously with himself.
"What's going on? I thought you said you were going to show me?" Grimmjow finally asked, his patience wearing down with each step Ichigo was taking.
Ichigo stopped in his steps then and he stared unseeingly at Grimmjow for a moment. After a few more scowls and furrowed eyebrows, Ichigo looked like he had come to a decision.
In the next second, Grimmjow found himself pushing back a very strong Ichigo with his zanpakutou. His arms trembled with the effort of holding back Ichigo's strength and his legs shook from the reiatsu pressing down on him. He finally managed to jerk to the side and push Ichigo off.
"What the fuck! Why the hell did you suddenly attack me for!" Grimmjow yelled even as he hastily side-stepped Ichigo's next attack.
Ichigo did not answer him and he got angrier at that. He thought he had calmed down during the walk over to the training room and had even perhaps accepted that Ichigo was not being fully honest with him. The urge to just believe Ichigo at face-value was so overwhelming. He wanted to believe Ichigo. But here, with Ichigo attacking him, all his previous anger and tumultuous thoughts had returned.
He snarled viciously at Ichigo when Ichigo's zanpakutou inflicted a small gash onto his arm. Was Ichigo fighting seriously? Was this the explanation of what was between them? What did it even mean?
Grimmjow threw himself into the fight. Attacking and defending, charging forward and stepping back. Ichigo was relentless and Grimmjow found himself forced back. He was giving as good as he got but it did not seemed to be enough.
Their zanpakutous clashed together loudly and Grimmjow growled at Ichigo's closed off expression. Acting solely on his anger and rage now, Grimmjow kicked up the sand and stabbed into the cloud created. A small sound from Ichigo gave him a sense of satisfaction. It seemed like he had caught him unaware.
He hated that look on Ichigo, expressionless, emotionless. As though his opponent was worth nothing. As though Grimmjow was worth nothing. He wanted to wipe that off. He needed to wipe it off.
"Grind, PANTERA!" Grimmjow roared.
Steel gloves with small razor-sharp blades lined the length of his fingers, with much larger ones materialising on his arms but Grimmjow took no notice of them. His sight, hearing and smell had sharpened with his release and he found Ichigo who had been hiding in the dust-cloud in no time. Then he moved. And he was faster than he ever was, appearing behind Ichigo soundlessly, his claw-like zanpakutou wrapping around Ichigo's neck.
Except that Ichigo was suddenly gone. Grimmjow's eyes narrowed and his nose twitched, trying to locate Ichigo. His eyes darted left and right as Ichigo's scent kept moving and moving. He snarled, Ichigo should not be this fast.
"Grimm," Ichigo suddenly whispered as he appeared right behind Grimmjow.
Grimmjow whirled around, but he was gone again, "Stop hiding from me!"
Ichigo appeared in front of him this time, the right corner of his lips twitching, "Then catch me," He disappeared.
Grimmjow roared in frustration. It was not possible for Ichigo to be this fast. He knew Ichigo's progress in class. Ichigo was good in hohou class, better than any of his other classes, but this... this was not the level of an Academy student.
Ichigo's reiatsu had cloaked the entire arena and it was impossible to determine where he was based on the reiatsu. But there were still another way. Grimmjow closed his eyes, forcing his other senses to sharpen. A small scuff to his right, a rustle to his left. And there! Grimmjow opened his eyes, his arm outstretched and a maniacal grin on his face. He caught Ichigo.
Or more than that. His claw-like hand was embedded in the throat of Ichigo, passing clean through Ichigo's body to protrude out on the other side. Grimmjow's grin disappeared and his eyes widened in panic, he did not mean -
"Well, you seemed to have gotten pretty fast,"
The voice shattered the image in front of Grimmjow. Suddenly, the limp body that was hanging off his arm was gone and he was stabbing an empty space.
Thin strong arms wrapped around him and Grimmjow felt a familiar weight on his back. His eyes flickered to his shoulders and he caught sight of Ichigo's orange hair. He let out a breath of relief and with the relief, some of the previous anger and frustration melted off. Ichigo was safe, that was all that mattered. Grimmjow raised his hand to reach out to Ichigo and pull him nearer, Pantera turning back into its sword form as he did so. Ichigo was pressed comfortingly into the crook of his neck.
Then without warning, Grimmjow found himself pitching forward helplessly. A surprised cry came from Ichigo as he was pulled down to the ground as well.
"Grimm? Grimmjow?" Ichigo asked frantically as he untangled himself out of the mess of limbs, pushing himself to the face level of Grimmjow.
"I'm fine. Just dead tired and… pretty much unmovable," A short pause, "That was fun, we should do it again,"
Ichigo blinked at the response as he looked down at Grimmjow's smirking face, then he grinned, "Yeah sure,"
Grimmjow looked up into the amber eyes of Ichigo. It was the most expressive part of Ichigo and Grimmjow loved that the most.
"Hey Grimm, I -"
Grimmjow rolled his eyes at Ichigo's reaction, "I said, kiss me. I would reach up and pull you down myself but I'm kind of finding it hard to find strength to do so,"
Ichigo snorted before laughing at Grimmjow's reply. He bent down and pressed his lips firmly over Grimmjow's. The kiss was chaste and Grimmjow relaxed into it. This was it. Simple and comforting. Everything that he had been looking for was just right here.
"So... a Shinigami Hollow hybrid huh?"
"Yeah, pretty much. Probably more Hollow than Shinigami though,"
"That's pretty cool,"
"Yeah, it is,"
The sides of Grimmjow's lips lifted a bit at Ichigo's comment. The two of them were propped up against a boulder in the training room, resting and catching their breath. Their fingers were laced together and Grimmjow rubbed the knuckles of Ichigo's as he processed his thoughts.
"Do I look better then or now?"
Ichigo snorted, "I should have known that this vainness of yours would never change,"
"Of course. Now, answer the question and don't change the subject,"
"Fine fine. Well... you look good then and now. But probably in different ways. You used to have this psychotic bad-ass feel to you. Now it's more like an arrogant bad-ass feel,"
"Well, you asked for my opinion,"
"Yeah, I should have known better than to ask you huh,"
"You got that right,"
Grimmjow untangled their hands and reached out to pull Ichigo into a playful headlock. A brief struggle ensued as Ichigo tried to dodge and block Grimmjow's arm. He gave in a short while later and allowed Grimmjow to pull him closer.
"I'm tired," Ichigo yawned.
"Me too. It's kind of late now right?"
"You kidding me? It's early now. Daybreak is probably in an hour or two,"
Grimmjow gave a short laugh at Ichigo's dry humor. He ruffled Ichigo's hair affectionately and Ichigo half-heartedly swatted at the hand. Leaning his body against Ichigo's, Grimmjow felt his eyes starting to droop as the excitement and adrenaline from earlier slide away.
"You do know that I still don't have all the memories from when I was the Ar... Arran..."
"Arrancar," Ichigo supplied helpfully, "Yeah, I kind of thought that would be the case,"
"Are you really fine with that?"
"It's fine. I can remember for the both of us. Besides, despite the difference in memory, who you are wouldn't change. You are still Grimmjow, then and now,"
Grimmjow pulled Ichigo nearer and smiled into Ichigo's hair, his fingers running through them as the relief he felt at Ichigo's word ran through him. He had been unsure if Ichigo would understand and accept that he would never be the exact same as he used to be. But it seemed like Ichigo did, and that was more than enough for Grimmjow.
"And... I'm sorry,"
"For not telling you everything earlier. And..." Ichigo paused uncertainly, "For keeping you at a distance, thinking that the you then and now are different people. I guess... I just don't want to ruin my memory of him. Sometimes, memories would seem nicer if it remained as a memory. So I'm sorry for letting my guilt, selfish-ness and insecurity get in the way,"
There was a long silence as Grimmjow digested the words. Ichigo fidgeted uneasily at the long silence, not sure what else he could say to better convey his thoughts. Nuzzling into Ichigo's nape, Grimmjow wrapped his arms comfortingly around Ichigo.
"It's fine. Even if you had thought we were different people, you still fell in love with me again. And... I'm sorry too, for doubting you earlier,"
"...I guess it was really quite difficult for you to just accept something so outrageous immediately,"
"Yeah..." Grimmjow nodded.
It was when his vision and hearing was fading as he fell asleep did he hear Ichigo's embarrassed mutter. He half-smiled at the gruff whisper as his consciousness faded off.
"...who the hell loves you. I haven't said anything about it yet. Don't put words into my mouth, you ass,"
"Class stand. Bow,"
The chairs scrapped as the students stood and mumbled out their thanks and byes. Grimmjow ruthlessly gave a last poke to the screen in front of him as he picked up his books. He hated the stupid class... what was it called again? Something to do with the Real World and Shinigamis... and for the life of him, Grimmjow could not recall the name. After all, it was not like these Real World things would affect him. He was not going to enter the Twelfth Division and he was definitely not going to spend an extended amount of time in the Real World.
On the other hand, Ichigo looked like he would have no trouble surviving in the Real World. Excelling in it too, perhaps.
Sometimes, Grimmjow forgot that Ichigo died a mere twelve years ago. He was only twenty-eight, much too young to be spending the rest of his life in Soul Society.
Grimmjow glanced at Ichigo out of the corner of his eyes. Ichigo was joking and fooling around with Seto, poking and prodding the machine in front of them. They looked like they were having fun and Grimmjow would have trouble believing that Ichigo had went through a war if Ichigo had not told him himself.
Their fight had woken something within Grimmjow. He had been too tired then to recognise it but now that all the excitement had calmed down, he could finally place a name on it.
It had been so strong, so overwhelming. He found himself not caring who got hurt and at some level, that had felt terrifying, now that he thought back to it. But another part of him - a stronger part of him found it exhilarating. He wanted to repeat it again, to fight, to spar, to destroy his opponents.
It was completely unnatural.
But it was also possibly the one single thing which had led him to finally believe Ichigo. And with that belief, came the knowledge that he used to be so much more powerful, so much that he could wreck havoc before bothering too much if it would come back to bite him in the ass. He could not do that now. Ichigo had shown him that when he had so easily, so easily, defeated him without even breaking a sweat. Ichigo probably would not even call it a fight, but more like an instructive match. It was unfair, but he could not dispute the fact that he was undeniably weak now.
He needed to get stronger. Much much stronger.
And therefore, it was with this thought in mind that he approached Yuu.
"Is something the matter?"
Grimmjow gestured for Yuu to follow him into the deeper and quieter part of the Library. The Academy Library was housed in a separate building from the classrooms and was piled high with ancient text. Personally, Grimmjow had never liked the place due to the nasty smell that old books gave out but it was the only place off the bat that he could think of that would give him some privacy. Barely anyone ever came to the Library.
Finally reaching a spot between two tall shelves of books, Grimmjow glanced around and was satisfied that there were no uninvited ears. He turned his attention to Yuu who was looking at him cautiously and with a trace of suspicion in his features.
"In case you're wondering, we made up," Grimmjow said quickly to dispel Yuu's distrust.
Yuu eyed him, his gaze moving up and down Grimmjow's person as though he was evaluating the truth. He had seen how they had interacted in the morning and after class and they seemed fine. But after the big commotion less than a day ago, Yuu could not be too sure. Especially since one of the person in question was Ichigo.
"Alright, fine, we'll take it that I believe you,"
"...you aren't going to ask me what happened?"
Yuu shrugged, "I don't really need to know the details. That's between you and Ichigo. Besides, this was partly why you chose me as a second opinion right? Because I wouldn't pry,"
"So, why did you call me out here?"
"Well, actually," Here, Grimmjow hesitated, not sure how to phrase his sentences, "I just wanted a second opinion and you seemed the best choice,"
Yuu made a disbelieving face at the statement but otherwise chose not to interrupt.
"I... I want to get stronger, much much more stronger,"
"That's pretty sudden. But you are already near the top of the class, one of the strongest in our level,"
"But that's not strong enough,"
"Why would you want more strength?" Yuu asked, "To protect Ichigo?" He hazarded a guess.
Grimmjow snorted at the ridiculous statement, "Ichigo does not need protection," He gave a wry half-smirk, "He's more than powerful enough to protect himself and then some," Grimmjow fell silent before he quietly said, "I want to get more power so that I can stand on equal grounds with him,"
Yuu stayed silent as he took in Grimmjow's words. The fact that Ichigo was really so much stronger did not come as a surprise to him.
"...alright. So how would you go about doing that?"
"That's the thing, I'm not sure. Other than training with Pantera, I can't think of anything else,"
Yuu's eyebrow rose, "You released your zanpakutou?"
"Yeah, just yesterday,"
Yuu fell silent again as he contemplated the situation. Grimmjow seemed sincere enough.
"I guess the only thing you can do is train. I'm not really good, but I would not mind sparring with you once in a while,"
"...thanks," Grimmjow said gruffly, grateful for the help offered.
"And also..." Yuu hesitated, "I kind of stumbled across this book with some advanced kidou in them, so we could probably study them as well,"
Grimmjow frowned, "What do you mean by stumbled? And kidou?"
"Actually, I was in the Library the other day as well," Yuu ignored the incredulous look Grimmjow was giving him, "And out of the blue, a Shinigami came in and very sneakily snuck off to a corner of the Library. When he left and I went to check it out, there was this book with a blank cover. Completely nameless and author-less. The techniques inside looked like kidou to me, though it's not in the ninety-nine official kidou registered,"
"So he just came in to put a book back?"
"It doesn't really look like it belonged in the Library. It felt more like he was leaving it there to pass it to someone. I didn't stay long after I took the book so I have no idea if anyone else came in to find the book,"
"Hmm... So, kidou huh. Sounds dangerous and forbidden, if it's not even officially registered,"
"Yeah, that's why I kept quiet. I thought of handing it over to the Taichou in charge this year, but as you know, this year is -"
"Zaraki-Taichou," Grimmjow deadpanned, "Giving him the book is as good as throwing it into the trash,"
Grimmjow hesitated, "Can I see the book?"
"It looks dangerous, Grimmjow. I don't know if we'll be expelled if we were ever caught with it,"
"We won't. Because we will never get caught,"
"...alright. I left it in my dorm, locked at the bottom of my closet,"
"Are you alright?"
"Hmm?" Grimmjow raised his head away from his textbook to look at Ichigo who had joined him under the warm covers of their bed.
"You look really tired these days," Ichigo said, concerned.
Grimmjow let go of his book and wrapped his left hand around Ichigo's shoulder, pulling him nearer and nuzzling the top of his head, "Yeah, I'm fine. Just tired from all the training,"
"You've been training every day. Practically non-stop. Take a break once in a while, I'm sure Pantera won't make such a fuss,"
"Don't worry, I won't overwork myself," Grimmjow gave a small grin, "You sounded like a wife just now Ichi,"
Ichigo shot up from his sitting position, "W-wife!" He sputtered, "I'm not a woman, Grimm!"
Grimmjow laughed at Ichigo's offended expression, "I know, I know that all too well," He gave a suggestive leer.
Ichigo's face turned red before he promptly slammed his foot down onto Grimmjow's stomach, knocking the air out of his lungs. Grimmjow coughed as he tried to get his hair back and Ichigo gave a small harrumph as he turned around and stalked to the bathroom.
Despite the lack of air, Grimmjow laughed, hacking as he did so. He loved to rile Ichigo up.
Though it seemed he have to take it easy with the training so that Ichigo would not be suspicious. It did seemed that the book Yuu found was really filled with something forbidden.
hi all, long time no see. it has been (what?) a year and a half since the last update.
as everyone had probably guessed by now, this fiction probably would not be completed. that said, the issues and plots brought up so far have all been (mostly) resolved. the only new thing was the new plot brought up in this chapter. hence, knowing myself, i won't be able to muster enough energy to complete this (multi-chapters are really not my thing).
therefore, this fiction is officially marked "complete" as at 6 June 2012. the ending is probably left a little hanging (but since it doesn't really sound like anything big yet... hmm HAHA). so if ever i find enough energy, then perhaps i would add a separate story up as a sequel to this (probably would not happen).
but for now, this is goodbye and THANKS FOR READING AND STICKING WITH THIS FICTION THUS FAR. it has been a loooong three years (or four, if you wanna count this long wait in changing the completion status) and even though it was frustrating at times, it had been a very enjoyable ride as well. i honestly had a lot of fun with this (:
THANK YOU for all the support and have a nice day! (: