Chapter 14: Epilogue
Do anything and feel anything. Just don't let this phase of your existence pass you by.
This is what Ichigo can recall from some pathetically inspirational shit he once read, or was forced to read, back in his last year in junior high. It's so shamelessly stuffed with the most ridiculous and inaccurate clichés one can ever think of, in fact, leaving him excruciatingly criticizing the texts in the back of his head. But Grimmjow Jaggerjack relentlessly tugs the sleeve of his shirt, asking him the most annoying questions a teal-haired, 6-footer, 18-year old, handsome bastard-who-has-accidentally-ingested-at-least-five-pounds-of-candies-five-minutes-earlier can think of. Ever. Ichigo's eyebrows are quivering.
"Was it love-at-first-sight? Like, you must have seen me slam dunk the shit outta the net, aye? I totally owned every bloke in that stadium, I'm telling you."
"You're pushing it, dummy. Whoever says I'm getting back with you?"
For all Ichigo knows, if being a teenager means being pestered half to death by a boy named Grimmjow, he can just quit being one in any second starting now. Point blank.
"Come on, you're such a joy-killing stick in the mud. You said you're in love with me; like you said you're fucking in love with me. Man, I almost had a menstrual period upon hearing it, frankly."
"I'd very much love to watch you bleeding in the crotch, slowly to death, right now. And if you don't shut up in the next few seconds, I might turn that one into reality." Ichigo says.
Ichigo snatches fragments of the texts from the sappy book he once read. Do anything. Feel anything. Well, he can just commit the first murder to have his name mentioned in the soon-to-be-published Karakura Gakuen History, since he's very much feeling it's the most justifiable thing to do at the moment.
"Man, I'm starved. Let's go to the caf."
"I've just been there, if you must know."
"Well then, come with me." Grimmjow grabs the freshman by the hand.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Ichigo winces and pans his hand away from his roommate.
"Making you come with me. Duh."
"Get your hands off mine, please. There's no need for that."
"Oh, is that so? Every couple's doing it so—"
"—you don't want to go into that crap. Don't you dare." Ichigo warns. The concept of being a typical couple with all those sappiness and gooeyness is simply ghastly too him.
"Alright then. Come along now; you don't want me to starve to death right here, right now, or do you?"
"You're beginning to sound like my little sis, all dependent and needy, and, frankly, it just doesn't suit you. Can't you just go without me?"
Ichigo's patience is doing a vehement downswing.
"Fine. Let's go." The freshman finally gives in, despite feeling more disposed to quarrel than to agree. At that, the bemused senior cracks a grin, and they tromp off towards the cafeteria.
Ichigo deduces that Grimmjow is starting to show telltale signs of manipulation, if not domination. But what can he do anyway? He's in love with the bastard, for cryin' out loud!
Toushiro Hitsugaya paces up and down warily in his room. He wants to apologize to his roommate for aiding Grimmjow in orchestrating what possibly is Ulquiorra's most dreadful embarrassment. He muses over what he is about to do; he's helped in injuring his pride, and now he's pining to make an apology like a filthy hypocrite. Presumably, he's about to make a double-crossing prick out of himself in front of the most intimidating audience.
Ulquiorra enters the room, and the entire mood becomes grim.
"Sempai, are you alright?" The freshman starts, undeterred by the other's gloomy presence. Granted he only has a scant margin for errors, he ransacks his mind for the right words.
The senior turns to him with a questioning look.
"Of course I am."
His cold voice almost soothes Toushiro.
"This may sound ridiculous, but I'm sorry for that show in the game." He says slowly, as if with regret.
Ulquiorra sits down on his bed.
"That? I must say damage has been done. At any rate, apology accepted."
Toushiro feels a faint remorse. He knows he can't raise a claim on innocence, simply because he felt obligated to support his friend, Ichigo, in his competition against Ulquiorra. And he supported him whole-heartedly. Hands down, he knew exactly what he was doing at that time.
"I had a choice but I did it anyway."
"I said I don't mind."
"Okay. I'll just be off now." The freshman makes for the door as if nothing has occurred worthy of noting.
"I know exactly what's going on."
Toushiro aborts his retreat.
Ulquiorra speaks again, "Grimmjow's with that orange-head friend of yours. You played along with his little performance because you were concerned about your friend's emotional welfare. That's a noble thing to do. In light of this all, honestly speaking, I'm not the one who's losing a handful of things here; it's Grimmjow."
The freshman's composure dwindles slightly. "I'm sure you're right. I'm sure you're a tad lot better, smarter, more talented, cooler, more good-looking than Ichigo. But neither of our views is significant here. What matters, and perhaps the only thing that counts, is Grimmjow-sempai's choice. With that, no matter how far above a notch you are from my orange-head friend, he's still the winner here."
This disrupts Ulquiorra's reserves immensely. In time, he answers, "In a word, I actually lost."
"Yes. I think so too, sempai. Good day to you."
The light begins to recede. In the hallway, Stark is humming a catchy tune. Behind him is his roommate Yamada Hanatarou, following him like a faithful servant.
"Well, Hanatarou, which room is Szayel in again?"
"I believe it's 202, same with Renji's."
The senior frowns as the trouble of descending a flight of stairs hits him.
Stark knocks in. Szayel opens the door.
"Yo, Stark. Which homework do you intend to reproduce?" The pink-haired senior asks automatically.
"Nah. I ain't copying any shit. Hey, wanna come down with us at Red Pony's? It's been a year since we had a drink."
"I have to say…I have NO time for drunken indulgences."
One hour later at Red Pony's bar...
"That really was a kick in Scheiffer's nuts. Hic—I never thought you guys would be able to pull something like that, being—hic—a bunch of prissy wimps that you are." Szayel Apollo Grantz tells the band club members as he staggers to maintain a steady sentence in between bouts of the alcohol's brunt and influence.
They listen to his endless yapping for the hell of it. Yamada Hanatarou is keeping his digital camera in tow. So far, he's taken about 50 snapshots of the merry group and half of them comprise solo shots of the lovely, gorgeous, breath-taking, utterly wasted Apollo Grantz. 25 deadly weapons of blackmailing, Stark calls them.
Sado turns on Ishida, "You think Ichigo won't be mad if he learns we didn't inform him of this little celebration?"
"He'd do his nuts, I'm totally sure."
Renji joins in the conversation. His face is as red as his hair due to sake's work, "Nah. He's probably too busy with his newfound lo—"
Toushiro pummels his palm over the redhead's mouth. "I looked around for him but he seemed busy." The silver-head swipes in. He looks at the faces around him. They're all red and happy. The fun mounts up as Ikkaku Madarame relays the mechanics of a particular drinking game where everyone gets to be more stoned in the end. Looking at Yumichika, who's vomiting in a pail, everyone concludes that there's no way someone in that condition could get any stonier. It can't get messier than this, Toushiro thinks. Apparently, it can. Hisagi Shuuhei has just pecked on Kira's cheek for everyone to see.
"What? Kissing's illegal now?" the band club president asks, with astounded glares surrounding him, amplifying the awkwardness. Clearly, he, too, is as drunk as a bastard.
"Geez, Hisagi, you defensive sonuvabitch, we haven't said a fucking word." Stark breaks the silence dismissively, downing a shot glass, which approximately is of the same size as that of a pitcher.
"I'm sure there's—hic—nothing criminal about it." Szayel pipes up, sounding thoroughly conversational.
The celebration-for-nothing ensues as they drink the night away, as what's expected of a rowdy group of teenagers. They're all wasted. This is a teenage wasteland, no more, no less.
It has been several months since an orange-head runt and a silver-head genius made acquaintance in the main building's lobby.
At present, right around this time, the top student in the freshman batch has been duly announced. Uuryu Ishida is simply indisputable.
Toushiro Hitsugaya has been named a tight competition, with his name now teetering just below the number one. Inside, he vows to elevate that name one spot higher next year.
Best friends Kurosaki Ichigo and Renji Abarai are awarded Rookie of the Year each of the Basketball Club and Soccer Club respectively. The orange-head reckons Grimmjow Jaggerjack was just about as proud as a father when it was announced.
Noitora Jiruga has stopped conducting malicious pranks on the basketball club captain, deeming it way below his pride; a realization that's been long overdue. He still thinks of himself as the rightful captain just because he defeated the other in a one-on-one match, not taking into account that being a captain involves infinitely more than just raw talent. He is an idiot indeed. This fact becomes more transparent when said captain was named Most Valuable Player in the Inter High league.
Recently crowned MVP Grimmjow Jaggerjack has been admitted to a prestigious university and was even offered quite a handful of scholarships from other schools for his athletic prowess. He has chosen Hokkaido University because Noitora Jiruga is NOT going to attend that school. With that, they can do a rematch in an actual game to redeem himself from that one doubly fateful night when he lost the one-on-one match and won a certain orange-head. He is indeed also an idiot.
Stark could not believe his ears when the Vice Principal Sousuke Aizen told him he was the fifth ranked student in his batch in terms of academics. He sees the graduation ceremony as nothing more than a great hassle, and now that he's required to attend it because he is going to receive a special award, he kinda feels like he's entering some cavernous tragedy in exchange for a day of good old slacking. His roommate, Yamada Hanatarou, somehow managed to encourage him to attend and to convince him that one REALLY needs to receive his diploma for countless valid reasons.
Hisagi Shuuhei and Kira Izuru are inseparable, literally. But maybe not as inseparable as best friends Ikakku Madarame and Yumichika Ayasegawa who just can't stop pestering Sado Yasutora to join the Karate club even after the freshman was named Rookie of the Year in the Judo club and that the school year is almost at its close.
Szayel Apollo Grantz and Ulquiorra Scheiffer are faring along miserably and are both teetering on the verge of suicide, seriously and no exaggerations are in play. They're both quite sure that they'll never again see the light of day and that if they DON'T stop breathing anytime soon, they'd just be doomed to an eternity of anguish or a lifetime of travail, if not a century of torment. Yes, they're quite sure about that. Principal Yamamoto could not quite get his mouth to phrase the right words so when the two students were summoned to his office, the best he could come up with was, "I'm sorry, but neither of you shall be named valedictorian this year. It's not the end of the road. College is smiling down on you, in which case, you can attain a more heralded academic status blah blah blah…" It turns out, a complete unknowable jerk has won the title. What it all signifies is they're both losers. Ulquiorra was the valedictorian in their first year. In their second year, Szayel stole that title from him. And then in their third year, in their last hope to gain the glorified title, the most critical year of their lives to date, they vied vigorously to determine the rightful holder. The rightful holder turns out to be neither of the two of them.
Ulquiorra immediately filed for a sick leave the following day to get himself some solace in his hometown in Germany. He assured the worried faculty department that he'd be back in a week, whereas the professors asserted that he was indeed in dire need of a break before the graduation. Before consenting to Ulquiorra's request, however, Principal Yamamoto had to ask him to sign an official agreement which barred him from jumping off a goddamn cliff in some German province or hang himself in some gallows. He signed the paper without reading it.
Szayel Apollo opted for a wholly different method of reparation. His first choice for recuperation was to order a casket and stuff himself in it. Unfortunately, he later on realized that it was a little impractical, for the reason that no one was willing to volunteer to bury him alive. Instead, he found himself dragging a barrel of Colt 45 beer all the way to his dormitory room for the drink to be his companion, his substitute consolation, for the night. By the time Renji emerged into the room from his Soccer practice, his roommate was sprawled face down on the floor with quite a pool of saliva beneath him. Ten minutes later, Renji Abarai would give and receive his first kiss. Twelve minutes later, he'd be toppling over two flights of stairs on the way to room 408.
"Ichigo, mate, you won't believe what just fucking happened!" he told his pal after smuggling the orange-head out of the room, looking all haggard and panicked.
"I kissed sempai! I don't know why I did it, but I fucking did it anyway!"
"Are you happy or are you bewildered?"
"I don't know! He was all drunk like a bastard, and he French-kissed me and I French-kissed him back and shit! Shit!"
"Brings about memories." Ichigo muttered to no one in particular as his mind receded to where his memorable (technical) first kiss was.
"Did you say something?"
"No, it's nothing. But, Renji, what the fuck are you doing here? If you tarry here any longer, Apple-sempai would pass out and be too boring to kiss."
Renji paused in meditation. "Yeah. You're right."
He disappeared faster than teleportation.
"I'll get jealous if you go on being too sticky with that redhead mate of yours." Said a voice from the corridor. Grimmjow had just arrived from a stroll around the town, according to him.
"Sheesh. As if." Ichigo said before removing his forestalled figure from the doorway to make room for his infamous roommate, who, in the near future, would cease to be his roommate. Graduation was drawing near, and he couldn't quite distinguish if he'd feel happy for Grimmjow or not.
Such thoughts were plaguing his mind, still.
"You had your lunch already?" The senior asked as he bustled in the room.
"Yeah. Where on Earth have you been?"
"Hah. Got something for ya." The senior smiled his repulsively handsome smile.
"What? Food?" Ichigo asked in an almost gratifying tone.
"Nah. Check this out."
The senior stood up, turned his back on him and pulled up his shirt to his head to reveal his slender back. On the lower right corner of his magnificent back gleamed a sizeable, black, freshly printed numeric figure '6'. Ichigo muttered a faint murmur of curiosity.
"Is it a permanent tattoo?"
"Yeah. What did you think? I'm a wimp? Macho, ain't it?"
Sexy, more like. Ichigo thought.
"It's swell. I don't like the font style, though. It's too archaic. Anyway, what's with the number six?"
Grimmjow hustled his shirt down, turned around and tilted his head closer to the younger boy,
"Don't get all big-headed, but that's the day of the month when you first kissed me."
Ichigo just about winced from the information. He deemed it rather a gallant homage for something as unremarkable as their first kiss. And maybe it was too cheesy for him to be given any form of credit. And now he was shuddering because it just didn't suit Grimmjow to endow sentimental attachments to stuff like…wait a goddamn minute—
"First time I kissed you? Wasn't that the time in the locker room after your one-on-one with Jiruga? I'm quite sure that was late in the month."
"That night? Didn't that come after the time when you kissed me in the infirmary?
"So? As I earlier have fervently stressed; I didn't kiss you in the goddamn infirmary. I only attempted to—"
"—Tsk. You have such a lousy memory. Remember the time when you got admitted to the basketball team? We went to the pub, and then I got as wasted as a goddamn truckload of garbage. And when we got here, I sort of like came over you?"
Ichigo remembered. He remembered that his oh so memorably insignificant technical first kiss took place on the night he dragged his drunk-as-a-bastard senior home. He remembered that after the incident, Grimmjow wasn't able to remember anything about that fateful kiss of inebriety, so he just kept it all to himself and NEVER counted it as anything more than what it was. He found himself wanting to drive his fist into his roommate's prominent face.
"You fucking know that?! All these months I've been buffooning around like a freaking moron, moping in the fraudulent belief that my fucking first kiss was a stolen, pathetic, embarrassing, unconscious, unplanned, unintended, not-even-sober accident?"
"Well, at least it was anything BUT ordinary."
They are anything but ordinary; anything but typical; anything but regular and predictable and so on. They're just probably in love.
A/N: Okay, I admit this is all so teeny bopperish I can just puke my head off right now seeing as I can't write to save my neck. In any case, thanks for reading and reviewing and all and pardon me for the errors along the way. So there, that makes up for a closing remark; this is finally over. Long live GrimmIchi…Yaoi forever!