THE CHRISTMAS CARD
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...
A little late, but still...Merry Christmas! Something short and hopefully sweet. Fair warning: Grimmjow will be a bit OOC.
Surprise, surprise! My first T rated fic, LoL, and that's only for some mild swearing.
Sixteen Years Ago
"Did everyone pass out their Christmas cards?"
"Yes," a room full of noisy, eight year-olds chorused.
"Ok, you can take the rest of the class to play, but try to keep it down..." Unohana-sensei's voice was immediately drowned out by a symphony of childish laughter and mayhem.
While all the kids giggled and played happily together, he sulked in the corner near the window. Seated on the floor with his knees drawn up to his chest and his head tucked between them, he blocked out the sounds of merriment.
Every year had been the same, resulting in him being the outcast amongst a group of cruel, little children that teased him mercilessly because of his odd hair color. He'd grown a tough, outer shell and soon, all the times he was passed over for games, every Christmas card that he didn't receive, all the chocolates he missed out on during Valentine's Day - none of it mattered anymore.
Or at least that's what he tried to tell himself.
No matter how hard he tried to ignore the ache of loneliness, it always managed to somehow writhe around in his gut, completely infuriating him. He wanted to hate those kids and in some ways, he did. He couldn't help being poor. His mom tried, she really did, but there was only so much she could do as a single parent. His dad had passed away when he had turned six years old, but he could tell that the man's death was still affecting his mom.
Children didn't understand hard times. All they saw was his less than desirable clothing, his wild, uncommonly bright blue hair and equally bright blue eyes. He was the brunt of every joke, the target of every evil prank and had absolutely no one he could call a friend. Girls called him ugly and told him he smelled; boys picked fights simply to embarrass or humiliate him.
This year was no different.
He'd been skipped over when everyone passed out their Christmas cards, but he'd expected it. What he hadn't been expecting was the new kid, an orange-haired, brown-eyed boy, to approach him in the midst of his sulking.
The boy had transferred to his class around May, but had seemed to fit right in with his nice clothes and warm smile. Even though the kid had bright orange hair, he was still treated as an equal, the kids even admiring him. Secretly, he admired the boy too. He would never admit it aloud, but the orange-haired boy's protective nature and abrasive attitude drew him in like a siren's call. There had been times when he'd wished he could be on the receiving end of that guardian role the boy liked to adapt.
Up until then, they had never exchanged words and the boy had never gone out of his way to mistreat him, although, on some occasions, he'd caught the orange head watching him curiously. He remembered the boy's name too because it was kind of funny.
Ichigo. Ichigo Kurosaki.
He had lifted his head to check his surroundings, only to notice Ichigo slowly making his way towards him, his arms held behind his back. He lifted an eyebrow skeptically, wondering if this was the moment that things would change between them. Would Ichigo become just like the rest of those horrible brats?
He stiffened and hardened his gaze, warning the boy slinking towards him that he was in no mood for any bullshit, but Ichigo just kept moving forward, his nut-brown eyes never wavering. He had noticed he was taller than the orange-haired boy, so, if push came to shove, he was sure he could hold his own against him.
Ichigo finally stopped a foot away from him and crouched down to eye level. The boy was so close, he could clearly count the little golden flecks decorating his syrupy-brown irises and the reddish-brown freckles dotting the bridge of his nose and cheeks. His lips were soft-looking and pink, the bottom one slightly fuller than the top, giving his mouth a pouty appearance. His face was damn near angelic in its innocence and he smelled nice. It reminded him of the ocean and salt water taffy.
Ichigo's uniform was bright and crisp, his shoes almost brand new and although his hair was spiky and altogether unruly, it was immaculately clean and shiny.
He wasn't poor.
All of a sudden, silence pressed around him like the calm before a storm, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. It seemed that he and Ichigo held the entire class's attention, the obnoxious children waiting with bated breath for whatever was to come next. He pursed his lips and curled his hands into fists, angry that he was once again the target of everyone's entertainment.
"You're Grimmjow, right?" Ichigo asked quietly, those sparkling brown eyes causing him to get lost in their depths.
He nodded absently, helpless to look away, waiting for what the orange head was going to say to him now. Ichigo nodded in return and brought his hands from behind his back. It took a moment for him to realize that he was being handed something, but when he did, his electric blue eyes widened in sheer disbelief.
"Wha? What's this?" he muttered, eyeing the object before him.
"It's a Christmas card. You don't wannit?"
A Christmas card? Was it a joke? A prank? Whatever it was, he was unprepared for it. No one, aside from his mom, had ever given him ANYTHING, so this was more than a bit of a surprise. He stared down at the green card sporting Santa Clause on the front, waiting for the punchline to drop. When nothing happened, he chanced a glance at the boy's face again and was staggered by the intense amount of concern and emotion shown there.
"Well?" Ichigo prodded.
He bit his bottom lip, worrying it until it bled before he hesitantly spoke, "What's wrong with it?"
"What's that mean? There ain't nothin' wrong with it. If you didn't wannit, that's all you had to say," the tangerine-haired youth snapped, starting to rise to his feet, but before he could, his wrist was grasped tightly.
"I-I'll take it," he whispered, holding his hand out for the card.
Ichigo grinned and handed the card over, never saying a word, but eyes riveted to his face. He opened the card agonizingly slowly, waiting for something to jump out.
Nothing happened, though.
All the text read was, "Merry Christmas", but it was the best thing he'd ever received in his short few years on Earth. The card was signed, "I. Kurosaki" in a messy, childish scrawl. He ran his fingertips over the name, smiling crookedly. Peeking up through his messy bangs, he noticed that Ichigo was smiling back and his heart instantly melted.
"Thanks, Ichigo," he said quietly.
Ichigo jerked in surprise, a bright orange eyebrow arching significantly, "You know my name?"
He winced. He hadn't really meant to reveal that little fact. Would Ichigo think he was crazy now? Or some type of freak? He hoped not because, as far as he was concerned, the other boy had become at the very least, an ally.
"So?" he put forth defensively.
Ichigo shrugged, that warm grin making his stomach gooey and hot, butterflies going insane, "It's ok. You wanna be friends, Grimmjow?"
He balked, then stuttered like the girls in his class around a boy they liked. Friends? Really?
He opened his mouth, but no words came out. His heart was racing and his mouth was dry. The one person he admired wanted to be his...friend. It was too much for him to handle at the moment and shamefully, he hid his face between his raised knees as tears found their way down his cheeks. He had never had a friend before and the fact that someone as good as Ichigo wanted to play that role...it undid his fragile, little eight year-old heart.
He didn't sob. As a matter of fact, he barely even breathed as he kept his fists clenched and grit his teeth. He sniffled a few times, proud that he wasn't wailing the way he felt propelled to. He didn't think he could deal with the humiliation of losing ALL of his cool in front of Ichigo AND the rest of the class.
A warm hand rested itself in his thick, blue hair, but before it could completely settle, his head shot up, eyes wide as he stared at Ichigo in astonishment. What was he doing?
"You don't gotta be sad anymore. I don't hate you," the orange head said earnestly, a small hand wiping away his tears.
For the first time in a really long time, Grimmjow genuinely smiled.
Grimmjow stood on the terrace of his condo, wearing a pair of cream-colored, linen lounge pants. He was topless and barefoot, enjoying the summer breeze ruffling his wild, blue locks as his mind wandered back to the past.
Half of those little twerps that had teased him back then, now, either worshipped him, or were envious of him. As the Editor-in-Chief of the most popular music magazine in Japan, Grind, his salary more than made up for his past poverty. His mom was happy, well-taken care of and he wanted for nothing. Two cars, a nice home, an awesome job and an even better marriage, made Grimmjow Jaegerjaques quite possibly the happiest man alive.
Speaking of his partner, a pair of slim, but toned arms wrapped around his waist from behind, making him smile as he shifted slightly to move the smaller person in front of him. His partner rested his head against his chest and idly traced a finger over a scar nestled in the valley between his pectorals.
"What're you doin' outta bed?"
Grimmjow wrapped his arms around the shorter male and buried his nose in the bright orange hair, "Thinkin'," he rumbled.
Sepia-brown eyes peered up at him, shining in the moonlight, "About?"
"My first Christmas card."
Ichigo smirked, but he couldn't hide the blush creeping over his cheeks, "What made you think of that?"
Grimmjow shrugged nonchalantly, his hold on Ichigo never loosening or wavering, "I was thinkin' 'bout what made me actually wanna live back then and it was that. You changed my life, Ichi."
"You're so corny, Grimm," the orange head stated, but his voice was warm, his eyes tender.
"Fuck you, I ain't corny. I'm tryna be serious here, ya little shit."
Ichigo let loose a bark of laughter that totally reminded Grimmjow of his own laugh, "Sorry, sorry!"
"Little bastard. Fuckin'...anyway, like I was sayin' 'fore you rudely interrupted me. You really did change my life that day, Ichigo. I hated my life so much and with one Christmas card, ya turned me around. You know I love you, right?" he inquired, staring down into the orange head's mesmerizing eyes as he let his hands settle onto slim hips, his thumbs rubbing small circles into the soft skin.
Ichigo nodded soberly, returning his head to its original resting place against Grimmjow's chest, "I know. I love you, too, Grimm. For better or worse, remember?"
Grimmjow smiled down at the white-gold band around the ring finger of his left hand, then down at Ichigo's matching one, "Yeah, I remember."
So gooey, right? Sorry no smut. I was just in the mood for some Christmas fluff! I plan to revisit this kind of plot for a longer, chaptered fic, but not until UIA is done. Thanks to my beta, Sonbon! Happy Holidays everyone! :D