Holy shit! it's been a loooong time since I updated TLOM. Wow. I suck so much! DX Well I apologize for the extended wait. I had a lot of homework, exams and work this semester. It was hard to think, let alone write. So for that I apologize but it's summer now. So I can get back on track with more updates. :) I might be a little rusty but I hope you're still interested. If you are then I'll get on with it and let you read the next installment. You'll get to see a little bit about Ulquiorra's past in this chapter so I hope you like it.
Grimmjow stuffed the folded up HELP WANTED add into his back pocket. Despite what he'd told Shiro, he was actually strapped for cash at the moment. He just didn't think boosting cars was the right career path for him. He'd left that shit behind him. That was one reason why he'd left here in the first place. To get himself cleaned up. Although, for the life of him, he couldn't remember the reason he'd made the decision to get cleaned up. Oh well. It was in the past. As was his reasons for leaving Tokyo, and most of his money and possessions with it. Life had just given him one problem after another. But now he was going to try to make it work. He was starting over, even if it meant crawling his way up from the bottom.
He headed across the street and opened the door to the small candy shop. The bell dinged upon his entry, and he smirked when he heard the familiar voice of Urahara Kisuke behind a stack of boxes. "Good afternoon! How may I help you this fine day?"
Grimmjow made his way to the counter. "Well, for starters, I was wondering what position you're hiring for."
The blonde haired owner poked his head out to look at him. "Grimmjow-kun! I was wondering when you'd make an appearance. I'm surprised you hadn't shown up sooner."
"Hmmm. Nothin ever gets passed you. How'd ya know I was back?"
Kisuke pushed the boxes aside and gave a mischievous grin. "I know everything that happens in my town Grim-kun."
Grimmjow just chuckled, ignoring the inappropriate nick name. "Yeah, I've heard that before."
"So, you looking for a job?" He asked, picking up his fan.
"That's why I'm here."
The store owner looked thoughtful. "I just let the night manager go. He thought he could get away with pocketing my hard earned money." He sighed.
"Ouch. Tough break."
"Maybe not, do you have any experience in business management?"
A wide grin formed on Grimmjow's face. "You could say that."
"I'm assuming you had a good job back in Tokyo?"
If working for an ex drug lord was good…. "Yeah. I did some odd jobs here and there before landing a management position at The Howling Moon."
Urahara raised an eyebrow. "It would seem you had quite the connection."
Grimmjow shifted uncomfortably. He didn't like talking about his "connections" He'd left all of that behind him in Tokyo. "Yeah, I guess."
Seeing the expression on Grimmjow's face he pressed no further into the matter. "Well I guess you're qualified for this job then, if you could handle that."
"Great." That was easier than he thought. "when can I start?"
"Well if you're not busy, I can show you the ropes tonight."
Like he had anything else to do. "You got it boss."
If it wasn't for the fan obscuring the man's face, Grimmjow would have been able to see the devilish smirk he wore as he shook Grimmjow's hand. "It'll be a pleasure working with you Grim-kun."
Ulquiorra stared across the table at his partner. The man was leaning his head on one hand, arm resting on the table, the other covered his mouth in a loud yawn. Ulquiorra tried to hide his distaste by shifting his gaze down to his book. They only had a week to finish their case report. After that, they would be doing a mock trial and he was not thrilled in the least, to be partnered up with Madrame Ikkaku. Now, if he wanted to win a bar fight, he'd team up with the bald headed man, but this was his grade he was talking about here. And Ikakku never took this class seriously.
The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to slap the bastards elbow off the table. Watching his face hit the black top would be somewhat satisfying. If he lost the trial because of this lazy slob, he'd be pissed. Not that he'd show it, but still. It was infuriating him on the inside. This guy never took anything seriously, while he, on the other hand did. He didn't understand why the guy was even in this class. He didn't want to do anything in the law system. Ulquiorra did. In fact, he wanted to be a lawyer. For three reasons. 1. To keep his friends out of jail, because it was bound to happen sometime. 2. He was damn good at keeping his cool and intimidating the hell out of anyone. And 3. If he did well in school and passed the bar exam first shot, his dad may look him in the eye again.
He sighed at the thought. Fat chance. Even now, just thinking about his dad made his stomach churn slightly. He could feel his mouth turn downward in a frown. He immediately realized this and brought it back into its normal state. It really took a lot to get him to show his emotions. In his household emotions were problematic. He couldn't even remember the last time he cried. Oh wait, yes he could. It was when his mother left him and his father when he was six. She had run off with his fathers business partner. When Jugo had seen his son's tears and heard his pitiful wailing for his mother, it had sent him into a rage. He had left his son fearing to even murmur his mothers name or shed another tear for her, or for anything else for that matter.
It hadn't always been like that in the beginning. Ciefer Jugo had been a laid back, joyful man. He was a good father, husband, and had the makings of a damn good executive until that incident. After that, his disposition had been cold and callous, especially towards his son, who looked so much like the bitch that left him. Ulquiorra had grown up keeping everything in. "Never show your weaknesses son. The world is full of wolves. They'll kill you if you show them you can feel." He had been talking mostly of women, but for Ulquiorra it applied to all humans in the long run. The boy had taken those words to heart and decided if he wanted to stay on his fathers good side, and escape his spontaneous bouts of rage, he'd shut himself off from those worthless emotions. It was a means of survival.
The following years led him to move across the country with his fathers work. And once his financial business "hit it big" they had settled down on the outskirts of Karakura Town, in a lavish mansion. Those on the outside would look on and envy the 'lucky bastards' that lived there, unknowing that the cold, black gates surrounding the home, were much like the ones covering the hearts of those living inside. If it weren't for meeting some unlikely friends, Ulquiorra knew he'd probably be six feet under by now. Really, it was thanks to two certain friends, who had made his mask break and brought him back to the world of the living.
Karakura Middle School
The class was thundering with life when the 13 year old, pale skinned, new boy came in wearing a standard school uniform and a not-so-standard expressionless face. The loud voices settled into whispers as the teacher cleared her throat.
"Class, this is Ciefer Ulquiorra. He just transferred here from Okinawa. Everyone be nice to him."
Ulquiorra bowed as was expected of him, he still had manners despite his looks, and replied. "Nice to meet you."
The class remained speechless as they stared at the odd student with the cold, green eyes. "You may take a seat between Jeagerjaques-kun and Jigura-san." The teacher pointed at two snickering boys sitting in the seats second to the back row. Said boys nodded and continued chatting together.
He took his seat and started taking notes. He noticed half way through class that some of his classmates had taken an interest in him, and one of the boys, the one with electric blue hair, leaned over and asked, "Hey I've been wanting to ask ya something since ya got here."
"What is it?"
The boy leaned closer. "Is that your real eye color?"
What kind of ignorant question was that? Ulquiorra didn't hesitate to participate in the boys game. "Is that your real hair color?"
"Touche." He grinned. "I like you Newbie."
He didn't know how to respond so instead he went back to doing his work.
The first day went by without incident and He hoped that maybe his school days wouldn't be so hard this time around. But with his looks and disposition, it made it almost impossible. Day two had proven that much to him. It only took that long for everyone to find out he was different.
The first week of school was just the beginning. He tried and failed to disregard the whispers around him and the eyes he knew were staring at him. A particularly loud boy sitting behind him would openly throw paper wads at the back of his head and curse at him. While he was used to this treatment and ignored it, it seemed to irritate the boys sitting beside him.
"Hey new kid. I can't see. Move your big ass head out of the way." The boy behind him hissed.
Before he could comply the blue haired boy frowned and turned his head. "Why don't ya shut the hell up Ganju. Give the guy a break."
"Give us all a break." The other added.
"Since when do you stick up for freaks like him Grimmjow?"
"Since you started getting on my fuckin nerves." He replied hotly.
"Why you…I thought we were friends-."
Grimmjow narrowed his eyes. "Just cuz yer sister is my friend doesn't make you my friend too."
Ganju balled up a fist but didn't say another word to them the rest of class.
Over the last week he'd noticed that it wasn't only Ganju, but all the kids in the class didn't seem to mess with his neighbors. They had an aura surrounding them that said piss-off-or-die. Ulquiorra didn't really feel like dying so he tried to refrain from coming in contact with them. But for some reason they seemed to want to include him into their circle.
Like now, he was just minding his own business reading a book when blue hair filled his line of vision. "Yo Newbie, why do you put up with that shit?"
"It doesn't bother me." Lie number one.
Jigura scoffed. "So ya like being called a "bitch"?"
"It's just a word. I don't find it offensive in the least." Lie number two.
"Ya got more guts than me then. I'd break his face if he called me a bitch." He replied stretching his arms behind his head. "But that's just how I deal with things."
"Violence is never the answer." He said, returning his attention back to his book.
Jigura sighed. "Yeah keep believing that. You'll chang yer mind."
He realized all to quickly that what he'd said that day was so very true.
****Few days later***
Those were the word of torment he'd heard over the last five years. He'd learned to tune them out. The faces were different, but the names were always the same. He ignored their laughing and insults as he made his way outside. He walked silently between the school buildings, not paying any attention to those around him. This time would be just like all the other times. They'd tease him and then they'd all go home. Or that was what he'd thought before the hands grabbed him.
"Didn't you hear what I said Dipshit?" It was the familiar voice of
Ganju. Fear rushed through him as the bigger boy lifted him up off the ground by his shirt.
"No." was all he could say. It was the truth. He'd tried to tune Ganju out the hardest. Not that it mattered much. He figured nothing he could say would chance what was about to happen.
"You dare to keep looking down on me! You little asshole!" The boy had now shoved him against the brick wall. "I can't stand guys like you! Who think they know it all! You think you're better than us! You're stuck up and cocky! And you talk like a damn robot!" He pulled back his fist and let it fly into Ulquiorra's stomach. The pain was familiar but it didn't make it hurt any less. His legs wobbled beneath him as he tried to get away from the boy. His stomach ached with the impact of yet another blow.
"You aren't even freaking normal! We're the normal ones! So why do you act all high and mighty! Huh!" He screamed, rage showing in on his face.
'I…don't…think that I'm better….I'm normal too." He said before another punch landed, this time to his mouth. He semi blocked the blow with his hand but the impact still managed to bust his lip open.
"Shut the hell up! You think just cuz you're smart, you're better than me! Just cuz Grimmjow and Nnoitra talk to you, you think you're cool or something? Well you're not!" He brought his fist down again, forcing Ulquiorra to his knees. "I'm gonna make sure ya never forget it!"
He watched as Ganju reared his leg back to kick him and fell into fetal position. He was prepared for the impact, so when it didn't come and the sound of a knuckles on jaw bone sounded, he looked up stunned.
"What do ya think yer doin Ganju?" It was Grimmjow who stood before him, a scowl on his face.
"Stay out of this Grimmjow! This has nothing to do with you!" Ganju yelled, lunging for him.
"The hell it don't." He spat, dodging the attack and going on the offensive. Ulquiorra sat unmoving watching as the two scuffled. His body ached but he knew it would soon dull. Now all he had to worry about was the fact that the principle was running across the school yard with two teachers following behind him.
Ulquiorra wiped the blood from his mouth as he stared across the desk at the principle. He refrained from making eye contact with the two boys beside him. One being his abuser and the other, his protector. Quite frankly he didn't want to speak or see either of them, but he knew he owed Grimmjow at least a thank you for stopping the fight.
The principle shook his head and leaned forward in his chair, bringing his hands together in front of him. "This isn't the first time I've seen you in here Jaegarjaques-san. Now please tell me why it is that you are in trouble constantly."
"Tch, it's not that I want ta be. Trouble follows me. Besides, I didn't start the fight."
He raised an eyebrow. "Or so you say."
This enticed a grunt from the teenager. "I didn't start it this time! I saw my ol' buddy Ganju," he tilted his head to said boy, "beatin up on the new kid and I put a stop to it."
The principle turned to look at Ulquiorra, who stared at him expressionless. "Is that true."
"Awe come on!" Ganju yelled, banging a fist on the desk. "That freak started it! I was just givin him what he deserved!"
"That will be quite enough Shiba-san." He grabbed three slips of paper and jotted down a few words before handing them to the boys. "Jaegarjaues, Shiba, you know the drill. Report to detention at those times. Shiba I expect an apology letter written and handed to Ciefer-san by the end of the week."
Ganju protested loudly but was cut off by the man's cold stare. "I hope you know we don't tolerate bullying. This is your only warning. If I hear of this happening again you'll be suspended. Understand?"
He just muttered a 'yes sir' and shoved the paper in his pocket.
Ulquiorra took this time to glance down at the note in his hand. "I have detention too?" He asked, a little stunned. Wasn't he the victim?
"It's just protocal. Since you fought back you have to at least have one day detention. Violence isn't permitted on school grounds."
Grimmjow patted him on the back. "No big deal man. It's only one day."
Sure, he could think of it that way. But he knew it would be a big deal to his father. He didn't want to even think about telling him he got a detention for fighting.
The principle cleared his throat. "Well then, if there's nothing else I can do for you, you can all leave now."
They all got up to leave. Ganju gave him a death glare but Ulquiorra ignored it and followed Grimmjow out into the hall. He glanced up at the clock as they passed the front office. It was long after four and the buses were already gone. He had no ride home and he still didn't know his way around town. He'd have to call his dad. There was no way around it. Shit. This day just kept getting better. He reached into his school bag and brought out his cell phone, but he couldn't press the speed dial. His stomach was already in knots by the time they opened the entrance door.
When they got outside they were greeted by a wide toothed grin. "So how'd it go Grimmy? Did they kick ya out yet?"
"Hell no! they can't get rid of me that easy." Grimmjow laughed.
"What about you Ciefer-san? He got ya good ne? Your lip is still bleeding."
Ulquiorra couldn't hear him. All he could think about was the phone call he was about to make.
"Yo, what's wrong Newbie?"
Ulquiorra snapped out of his thoughts and looked at the boys in front of him. "I missed my ride."
Grimmjow nodded to the phone in his hand. "Ya gonna call someone?"
"Yes, but he is going to be upset."
"Ah come on, it's not your fault ya got the shit beat out of ya." Grimmjow said, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. On a normal day Ulquiorra would point out that smoking was bad for his health, but he remained silent. " I'm sure yer old man will understand, right Nor?"
Nnoitra nodded, taking a cigarette from Grimmjow's pack. "Yep, ya didn't do anythin wrong Newbie."
"You say that, but you don't know my father." He sighed, finally gathering up the courage to press send. His father answered on the third ring.
"This had better be important Ulquiorra." His fathers voice sounded put out and he could hear the tapping of computer keys being struck in the background.
"I apologize for interrupting your work father, but I missed the bus home from school."
The tapping stopped, along with the beating of his heart. "Are you fucking kidding me? Why the hell would you miss the bus? You know I can't just stop what I'm doing to come pick your ass up."
"I know. And I apologize, but I was involved in a…conflict. It couldn't be helped."
Long silence followed as he stood there across the street from the school. Grimmjow and Nnoitra looked at him intently as he waited for his father to speak again. When he did, he'd wished he could crawl into a hole and die. Maybe then it would make his father happy.
"You were involved in a fight? What the fuck is wrong with you Ulquiorra?"
"It…it wasn't my fault. I didn't' start it. I was cornered and-."
"Do you think I give a shit who started it!" his father cut him off. "Are you that fucking stupid? That could go on your permanent record. It doesn't' matter who started it! No one will want a delinquent who gets in fights at school to be in their company. Who in their right mind would want to hire you? You are nothing but a troublesome piece of trash!"
Grimmjow's cigarette dropped to the ground as his mouth fell open.
Ulquiorra was mortified that the two could hear everything his father was saying but he couldn't do anything about it.
"And you can forget about me coming to pick your ass up. I'm too busy to deal with you. Find your own way home." He spat before the line went dead.
Ulquiorra stared blankly at the empty screen. Had that really just happened? He'd expected him to be mad, but not this mad. Not mad enough to make him walk home. He didn't even know what direction to go.
Nnoitra was the first to break the silence. "Sooo, that didn't go as well as I thought."
Grimmjow elbowed him. "Shut the fuck up Spoon boy."
"Hey don't call me spoon boy!"
He ignored him. "Listen Ciefer. If ya need us to walk ya home, we're free." He said, slinging his arm over Ulquiorra's much smaller shoulders.
"Yeah," Nnoitra piped. "We aint got nothing to do. Besides, Me and Grimmy here know allll about 'rent problems."
"What is rent problems?"
"Ya know, parents?" Grimmjow laughed. "What did ya grow up in a finishing school or something?"
"Heh, my bad then." He shook his head. "Well, obviously yer old man aint the nicest guy in the world. But yer not the only one. Shit, I don't even know my old man. My ma's a whore. It coulda been the fuckin milk man for all I know."
Ulquiorra's eyes widened in shock. He had just met this boy. Why was he telling him this?
"Christ Grimmy, yer scaring the kid. He's educated. He's not used to all these slang terms."
"Oh yeah right. Well then…a whore is like a woman who has sex with a lot of-"
"I know what a whore is." He interrupted.
"Oh, good. Then we're all on the same page. 'nyways, we got your back."
"Why? Why would you help me out? You don't even know me. You've only sat next to me for a few weeks."
"Cuz ya got the same look in yer eyes that we have. Ya may have an expressionless face, but your eyes tell me all I need ta know. They show what ya want."
"And what, pray tell, is that?"
"Yer ol' mans approval."
Damn. He hit the nail on the head. Ulquiorra had tried so hard to mask his feelings from the world and yet it took five minutes for these kids to read him like an open book. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't need anything like that."
It was Nnoitra's turn to laugh. "Yeah, ya say that, but everyone gets lonely ne?"
"I'm not lonely." Ulquiorra stated, turning his back to the two teenagers. "So you can just drop it."
"Che…Whatever." Nnoitra rolled his eyes. "Then I guess ya can find yer way home on yer own then?"
Ulquiorra's heart raced a bit at the thought of trying to find his way home alone, but he didn't let his face betray him. He couldn't allow them to come further into his world. They'd already forced their way this far. "Yes. I can find it on my own." He took a step to walk away but felt a strong hand grip his shoulder.
"Hey, Nor was just playin. We can't 'ave ya walking around town by yerself. Geeze kid. Ya gotta learn to take a joke."
If he could have, he would have sighed in relief. "But Aren't jokes suppose to be funny?"
"Man yer one complicated dude, ya know that?" Grimmjow sighed and shook his head.
Ulquiorra knew too well that he was right but he said nothing more as he followed the two through town. They stopped to grab some food and stopped a comic book store on the way before deciding it was late and they should probably get him home before his dad showed up. The whole time Ulquiorra remained quiet and studied them. He'd never had friends and really never wanted any. They were a burdon and just ended up hurting you. Or so his dad said. But now he was hoping that maybe his dad was wrong. Looking at them he couldn't see what was so bad about it. He listened to them talking and laughing and a spark deep inside of him ignited. When they reached the manor he was sad, and a bit fearful of the emptiness that awaited him there. He didn't want them to leave but he couldn't say anything.
"See ya tomorrow Newbie!" Nnoitra called as the black gate closed and separated them. "We'll hang out again yeah?"
"Why would you hang out with me again?" He asked puzzled.
Grimmjow laughed for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. "Cuz that's what friends do."
Ulquiorra stared blankly at him.
Grimmjow was used to this. He just waved and turned from the gate. "Ja,"
He watched their backs as they walked away, disappearing into the setting sun. "That's what friends do…" Friends. Did Grimmjow and Nnoitra already consider him their friend? Did he even want to be mixed up with them? Friendships caused pain right? No…maybe not…maybe he could…
In that moment he thought about everything that had transpired that day, and for the first time in years the smallest of smiles cracked his face of stone.
Ulquiorra turned around to see his teacher staring at him, a piece of paper in his hand. "Yes Aikawa-sensei?"
"I would like you to head over to the high school and give this to Mugaruga-sensei."
He took the paper from his teachers hand and looked down at it. It was a list of names. "What is it?"
The larger man smiled. "It's a list of student names drawn at random to participate in the jury."
His eyes skimmed the list quickly,
1. Taylor Kari
2. Ichinose Misaki
3. Asano Keigo
4. Chisan Ryo
5. Fumio Risa
6. Ogowa Micheru
7. Natsui Mahana,
and found a very familiar name in the mix.
15. Kurosaki Ichigo.
He didn't even bother looking at the rest of the list. "I'll deliver it to him."
Now Ulquiorra wasn't the type to pry into people's business. But what Grimmjow had told him the other night was proof enough that he really cared about the younger man and he would do anything to help his oldest friend out. It was the least he could do.
Aizen Sousuke looked out across the city below him. From his office he could see all the way to the ocean. The people below him looked like ants scurrying to get their food. In fact, that's exactly what they were to him. Mere ants. But he knew better than anyone that a mere ant could lift more than ten times their weight and somehow destroy even the most perfect plans.
He'd done his share of gambling in this world. Even now he had one hand in the business industry, his name plastering billboards and posters, while the other hand was working in the underground drug trafficking. His name was know throughout Tokyo and feared by thugs and lowlifes. He had wealth and power, yet he wasn't fully satisfied. His life was still lacking something, or should he say… someone. He turned from his view to look back at his assistant, who was swiveling his office chair around in circles. "Gin, I'd like to ask you a hypothetical question."
The silver haired man stopped spinning the chair and turned to him. "Wha' do ya 'ave in mind?"
"What would you do if one day Matsumoto suddenly left without even saying one word to you?"
Gin tilted his head to the side. "Wha's this about Aizen-sama?"
Aizen turned back to the window. "It's just a question Gin."
Knowing nothing was "just a question" with his boss, Gin answered slowly. "I'd do anythin' to get her back."
He nodded but then leaned an arm against the glass. "And if she left the city?"
Gin was almost afraid to be honest. If he was talking about who he thought he was talking about, and he probably was, then it could end up being a pretty serious situation. After thinking it over he sighed and answered honestly. "I'd track her down and make her come back with me."
"Thank you, that was very beneficial."
Yeah something was defiantly up with him. "Can I as' you a question now?"
Gin rose from the chair and stood next to Aizen. He could understand why the man loved staring out this window. The skyline was beautiful. Although he probably wasn't looking at the skyline. "Why are ya askin me these questions?"
"It's not a real reason or anything. I just lost something that belongs to me." He said before letting his lips press into a cold smile. "And I've decided I'm going to get it back."
Ok so what do you think? Was it ok? I'm a little nervous since it's been so long. Let me know what you think good or bad. :D