A/N: Hello there readers! This is Sleepless here! I've had this story in my head for a while now, but had no time to type it because of school and stuff. I've also written like a lot of notes on paper for later chappies so I hope this story will be good enough for you readers! I beg for your feedback! I would also love constructive criticism, no flames. This is my first multi-chapter story I've written and I want to know if I'm doing good or not ^^;;

Disclaimer: If I owned Bleach Nnoitora wouldn't be dead! (Oopsie, spoiler?)


Chapter one: Friends Forever

Eight Years Ago…

"I bet that I can beat you guys to the school from here." A young orange haired boy by the name of Ichigo Kurosaki eyed his friends Shinji and Renji as he put his hands on his hips. Renji scoffed and lifted one of his eyebrows.

"You really think you can beat me strawberry? As if! You're going down," Renji smacked the orange head on the back of the head playfully and Shinji rolled his eyes at the two kids antics.

"You guys can be so immature, and Renji you know already that Ichi's gonna win, so why bother?" Shinji asked uninterested.

"Shadup Hirako! You don't know that!"

"He beat you three days ago; I don't see why today's any different." Shinji stated plainly and Renji growled in annoyance.

"So that doesn't mean anything! Okay Ichigo, I'm racing you, go on the count of three. Count us off Shin." Shinji scoffed slightly as the other two boys got in position to race.

"One, two, three." Shinji said quickly and with a bored ton. The two boys took off at the last count, Ichigo gaining an early lead. He knew Renji couldn't have been too far behind him so he looked back to check. As he suspected, he saw Renji gaining on him and smiling wildly. He looked back ahead and easily sped up, successfully leaving Renji in the dust. As Ichigo reached the doors of the school, Renji was just catching up and was gasping for breath.

"How do you beat me?" Renji groaned as he laid on his back and spread his arms and legs eagle like.

"I don't know, maybe because I take karate and have been for four years?" Ichigo snickered as he walked over to Renji and playfully stepped on his stomach, causing Renji to scrunch his body upwards. Shinji walked over chuckling at the way Renji looked.

"Way to go Ichi, Renji will never be able to beat you," Shinji snickered and Renji shot him a glare. Shinji stuck his tongue out at Renji in response. A few seconds later their teacher was outside and calling them inside early from their recess.

"Wait why are we going in early? I thought we had like ten more minutes." Renji complained as he sat up and pushed Ichigo's foot off of his stomach. He stood up dusting off his back and butt.

"Whatever, let's go inside." Ichigo said and walked into the school with Shinji and Renji following behind him. When they entered their classroom and sat at their seats most of the other students were groaning and complaining about coming in early. Their teacher Mrs. Yuciki smiled warmly and clapped her hands lightly to get the students' attention.

"Children, children please settle down. I'm sorry that I had to cut our recess time short, but I'm happy to announce that we have two new students joining us as of today." The teacher beamed happily and looked towards the door of the classroom. "Come on in you two, don't be shy," The door slid open and the two kids walked into the room. Ichigo was looking down at his desk until he heard the door open, when he lifted his head he was met with a strange sight. One of the two new students had medium length black hair, just a little past his shoulders, and was at least a foot taller than all the other students in the class including the one standing next to him. The other new student wasn't completely normal either. He stood next to the taller student and had his hands in his pockets looking absolutely bored. But what stuck out the most was the boy's hair. He had blue hair, not that Ichigo had room to talk since he too had unusual hair. Blue hair was certainly less common than orange hair.

"These are our new students, Nnoitora Jiruga and Grimmjow Jeagerjaques." She said standing behind the two and place a soft hand on both of their shoulders. "Now if anyone has any questions feel free to ask." Ichigo's hand flew fast into the air and she smiled, "Yes Ichigo, what would you like to ask?"

"Hey, why do you have blue hair?" He asked bluntly and he got a few giggles and snickers from the rest of the class.

"Now, Ichigo. That's not a proper-"

"Well why is your hair orange?" Grimmjow came back at him. Cutting off the teacher midsentence and getting more of the class to laugh.

Mrs. Yuciki sighed and pushed the two boys slightly, "Go on now, go find empty seats." She turned around to the board and started writing as the two started looking for seats. Nnoitora found one by some long haired blond boy and he swiftly took it before Grimmjow could reach it. Grimmjow gave a small snarl and looked around the room for another seat, only to find one by the kid who called him out by his hair. He gave an annoyed sigh and walked over to the desk before sitting down heavily and laying his head on his desk.

"Hey," Someone to the left of him whispered and he looked up slightly to see that it was the orange haired kid who asked him about his hair. "If you're just gonna put your head down why'd you even come to school anyway?" Ichigo asked and Grimmjow scoffed slightly.

"Cuz' Nnoi over there said he wanted to hurry up and get enrolled, even though he's probably gonna skip every other day," Grimmjow sat up slightly, "So, you're name's Ichigo right? Strawberry ne?" Ichigo turned his face quickly to the window and he glared as a blush covered his face.

"Shut up, I hate being called that." Ichigo pouted a bit and Grimmjow snickered.

"Strawberry."

"Shut up Grimmjow."

"Strawberry."

"Shut up Grimmjow."

"Strawber-" Grimmjow couldn't finish the statement because he was then tackled by a very enraged Ichigo. Ichigo had Grimmjow's shirt collar in his hands and glared daggers into his eyes.

"I told you to shut up!" Ichigo shouted and Grimmjow snarled. He curled his hand into a fist and punched Ichigo square in the jaw. Ichigo retaliated by hooking his leg around one of Grimmjow's and successfully flipping them over to where Grimmjow was on his stomach below Ichigo and he had one of his arms bent behind his back. Grimmjow was thoroughly confused and he didn't even see the punch that came from the left and hit him square in the eye.

"Stop it you two!" Mrs. Yuciki ran over and pulled the two boys apart and scowled as she sat on her legs and glared at the two boys. "You two are coming with me, Shinji watch over the class while I take these two to the office."

"Yes ma'am," Shinji said with a bored tone again, not even bothering to look back even though the rest of the class was. She grabbed both of their arms and pulled them out of the room. She sighed heavily but first stopped at the nurses to get them checked out. Ichigo had a nice bandage over his right cheek and Grimmjow had a bandage over his left cheek near his eye. Mrs. Yuciki dropped them off in front of the office.

"You two think about what you did and don't come back to class until the bell rings." She shook her finger in front of their faces and they both replied "Yes ma'am" in a monotone voice. She turned around swiftly and walked away from the two boys. As soon as she turned the corner, Ichigo looked at Grimmjow and they both started busting out laughing.

"Oh man, I had no idea you'd snap like that," Grimmjow said wiping a small tear from his eye from laughing so hard, "and how did you get out of my grip? I coulda sworn I had you there." He smiled and Ichigo chuckled.

"I've been taking karate since I was like four, I can get out of stickier situations than that." Ichigo bragged and Grimmjow grinned a little as he looked at the floor.

"No wonder why you're so fast. I didn't even see your fist come flying at me," Grimmjow scratched the back of his head.

"I bet if I taught you some you'd be able to beat me pretty quick," Ichigo said shrugging slightly, "I've taught Renji some moves, but he's so dense, he can't even beat me in a simple foot race." Ichigo looked down and smiled, "I'd be happy to show you some moves if you'd wanna learn." Grimmjow's head lifted up and he nodded in approval.

"Sounds good to me, berry." Grimmjow received a hard, swift punch in the arm. "Ouch," he said lightly under his breath and rubbed the sore spot. Ichigo looked at him out of the corner of his eye and stretched his right hand out.

"We gotta deal?" He asked and Grimmjow smiled as he shook the hand in front of him.

"Deal."

Throughout the school year, Grimmjow and Ichigo grew closer as friends and as Ichigo promised, he taught Grimmjow the basics of karate. Even though Ichigo only taught Grimmjow a few fighting moves, he caught on quick and could pretty much keep up with Ichigo. They were currently on the roof of their school, the last day before summer. Grimmjow challenged Ichigo to an end of school showdown. Kind of like a fight to show how much Grimmjow had learned from Ichigo. Ichigo cracked his neck, "So Grimmjow, ready to go all out?" He cracked his knuckles and Grimmjow snickered. "First one down loses, agreed?"

"Agreed and I'm as ready as I'll ever be, Strawberry." Grimmjow saw the look of annoyance form across Ichigo's face into the form of a scowl. Grimmjow cracked his own knuckles. "Count of three, sound good?" Ichigo nodded and got into a fighting stance.

"One…"

"Two…"

They eyed each other before smiling and yelling the last count together, "Three!"

Ichigo ran towards Grimmjow, jetting from the left to the right trying to distract and confuse the blue haired devil. Grimmjow wasn't confused, he was actually calculating all of Ichigo's movements until he finally saw an opening for Ichigo and the orange haired youth took it. Just like Grimmjow thought. 'Perfect' he grabbed Ichigo's wrist and flipped him behind himself. Ichigo found his footing before he reached the ground. He slid away from Grimmjow and he chased right after. Ichigo smiled as he stood in his exact spot and watched as Grimmjow rushed to him, he grabbed Grimmjow's arm and pulled it behind the blue haired boy's back. He winced a bit in pain but spun around quickly to get out of Ichigo's grip and was able to plant a nice punch onto his face. Ichigo tasted the blood in his mouth and he spit it to the side, "You are so going down." He stated simply and a flash of gold went across his eyes.

Grimmjow noticed the flash of colors and was thoroughly confused, but before he could think on it any longer he had somehow managed to dodge a barrage of punches that where aiming right for his face. Grimmjow didn't even know if this fight had any intentions of karate. Grimmjow just wanted win. As soon as Grimmjow thought he was in the clear, Ichigo somehow came out of nowhere and was able to land about three punches to Grimmjow's face and two to his gut. Grimmjow's breath left his chest for a second and he jumped backwards to catch his breath. Ichigo really was going all out. He ran at Ichigo full speed and was glad to see that he was lifting his arm to hit. Grimmjow dodged easily and ended up behind Ichigo, wrapping an arm around his waist, and issued him a few punches to the face. Ichigo squirmed enough so that he was out of Grimmjow's grasp and jumped to the side to dodge another punch from Grimmjow.

He started running full speed at Grimmjow, and Grimmjow did the same. Both of their fists were raised and they were running faster and faster towards each other. When they had gotten close enough to each other, they both gave a hard punch to each other's jaw. Ichigo went flying the opposite direction he was running and Grimmjow flew the other direction. After a few seconds of lying on the ground they both started groaning at the pain in their faces and bodies. Grimmjow sat up slowly and had one arm supporting him and the other running through his hair. "Hey Ichi you alright?" Grimmjow asked looking over at the boy lying on the ground. He didn't move so he stood up and walked over to the orange haired youth. As he was walking, Ichigo stirred and cracked one eye open. He turned his head around to try to find where he was at and he was suddenly locking eyes with Grimmjow. He sat up slightly and spit the blood and saliva that was in his mouth out to the side.

"Some fight huh?" He asked and Grimmjow just shook his head and laughed.

"Yeah, it sure was." Grimmjow offered a hand to the injured berry and he happily took the hand to help him up. Ichigo gave a smiled of thanks and he ran a hand through his hair.

"We should probably go back down,"

"Yeah, probably." Grimmjow laughed and Ichigo joined in soon after. After that day, the summer was upon them and they were usually either hanging out with each other, along with Renji and Shinji since they too were Ichigo's friends, and sometimes Nnoitora. Along the last weeks of summer, Ichigo announced he would be gone on a family vacation for the last two weeks of vacation. Renji and Grimmjow were devastated, while Shinji and Nnoitora simply shrugged it off. Don't get Shinji wrong though, he loved Ichigo like a brother and would go through hell with him, but he was just a bit jealous so he decided to be indifferent. Grimmjow frowned a bit.

"Oh well, I'll be waiting for ya on the first day of school near the front gates. Got it?" Grimmjow sneered and Ichigo gave a wide smile.

"Sure Grimmjow, see you then."

But what the young boy didn't know is that this small trip would change his life forever.

It all happened so fast, he couldn't even recall what had just happened. He remembered a lot of loud bangs and shout for everyone to get down. Ichigo was found cowering in fear by his mother's side, griping tightly onto the shirt that was quickly becoming stained with blood. He saw the puddle of blood on the floor and he hesitantly placed his hand in the substance. When he pulled his hand back, the gooey looking liquid dribbled down his hand and he let out a silent scream of terror. That's it. That's all he could remember before his world went black.

The next time he awoke he was laying on his back in a hospital bed, his dad staring intently at the floor with his hands linked and holding up his head by his forehead. Ichigo took in his father's appearance, he didn't look like his usual self and he was scared, "Dad," Ichigo's voice was dry and barely audible so he cleared his throat softly before speaking again, "Dad," This roused Isshin Kurosaki and he looked up with relief in his eyes.

"Oh, my son. My dear son," Isshin shot up and hugged Ichigo tightly, refusing to let go. "My son, I had thought I lost you too." Isshin whispered into his son's ear and Ichigo was confused.

"What do you mean 'too'? Where's mom?" He asked the question innocently and Isshin pulled back enough to look his son straight in the eyes.

"Ichigo, my son, your mother is in a better place." He sighed in sorrow and tears brimmed his eyes, "When you and Masaki went into the small beach store, there was a robbery. Your mother saved you; she saw the people enter the store and she protected you." Isshin's tears spilled over and he wiped his face quickly. "Karin and Yuzu are outside and would like to see you. Do you want me to let them in?"

Ichigo didn't even register his movements. He simply nodded as he looked straight ahead taking in everything that had been said to him. What was going through his head was nothing that a nine year old should go through. He clenched his bed sheets in his small hands and quickly crawled under them so that he couldn't be seen. Isshin was almost at the door when he heard the rustling of the sheets and saw Ichigo hide under them. He sighed sadly again and went out into the hallway where his two young daughters were waiting to see their brother.

"Daddy!" Yuzu ran to her father wailing and she buried her face in his shirt as Karin approached.

"I-is Ichi-nii okay?" She asked, a slight tremor in her voice.

"He's fine, but I don't think he's ready to see people just yet. He's going through a rough time." Isshin looked back to the room his son was in and he released Yuzu gently. Her quivering form making his heart feel like it was being squeezed, "Let's go back to the hotel and pack up early. I think we all just need to go home." He said picking up Yuzu and holding onto Karin's hand, "I'll have to come by later to stay with your brother, can you watch Yuzu please, Karin." She looked up and nodded before turning her gaze back to Ichigo's room. With all the thoughts running through her head, she could only think of one that needed to be said.

"Oh Ichigo."

School was back in session again. Grimmjow, Nnoitora, Renji, and Shinji were all at the gates waiting for Ichigo to arrive for school. They all stood there for a while waiting, but the orange haired berry never showed. The first warning bell rang and Shinji got a bit nervous, "I wonder where he is. Ichi never misses the first day of school, not ever." Shinji stated and shifted nervously on his feet. Renji also had a bit of worry etched onto his face and he looked at the school as the second warning bell rang.

"We better get inside before we're late." Renji sighed as he and Shinji started towards the school. Grimmjow looked up and down the roads in front of the school hoping to see a sight of orange but he didn't. He shoved his hands into his pockets and sighed heavily.

"He told me he'd be here. I even told him I'd be waiting," Grimmjow kicked at the dirt and turned to the school.

"Ah, don't think much on it, maybe he's sick. Or just skipping, I skip school all the time." Nnoitora shrugged and Grimmjow punched him in the arm.

"That's you dumbass, not him." Grimmjow looked down at his feet and started walking to the school with disappointment on his face.

A whole week of school passed and no one, well almost no one, knew where Ichigo was, or what was wrong with him. The only person who seemed to know, but not tell, was Tatsuki Arisawa. She had been depressed all through the school week. Refusing to tell why she was so upset. Her head was constantly down and her eyes were red and sometimes filled with a few tears. Renji and Shinji kept pushing her to tell why she was upset, but she would just hit them and say it wasn't her room to talk. But once that second week of school started, everyone caught a glimpse of orange.

Ichigo was the first student in his classroom that day. His head was sitting on his desk and he didn't even notice the first bell. When the rest of the children sauntered in, they were surprised a bit to see Ichigo there. When Renji and Shinji walked in, Shinji was the first one by Ichigo's side and he had arm around his shoulders. He didn't know what was wrong, but he could tell by Ichigo's body language and the way his head was down, "Ichi, tell me what happened." Ichigo sat up a bit but was still looking down at his desk, but looked up faintly when Shinji started speaking to him. He lifted his head more before lowering it again and having a sad sigh escape his lips.

"She's gone, it's my fault. She's gone." He mumbled to Shinji and his body started shaking a little. Shinji held Ichigo tighter trying to comfort him. Their teacher walked in and she noticed Ichigo's head down. She already knew the whole story so she couldn't help but feel pity for the young boy. She sighed and walked over to the shaking boy and she put a delicate hand on his desk getting his attention.

"Ichigo, if you want, you can go out into the hallway until you're calmed down." She smiled sadly and Ichigo nodded before silently leaving the room and sitting down in the hall with his knees pulled up to his chest, arms wrapped around his legs and his eyes resting on his knees. The second bell rang and a few minutes later classes started. Ichigo was sitting there sighing sadly until he heard little mumblings coming from down the hall and he turned his head slightly to see who it was coming from.

"Stupid Nnoitora, making me late for school, telling me to skip. Acting stupid, pfft." Grimmjow was mumbling to himself and he ran his hand over his face to get the sleepiness out of his eyes. When he removed his hand, he saw a small curled up boy sitting in the hallway, and he knew exactly who it was by the patch of orange hair on top of the boy's head. Grimmjow slowly jogged over to the child and squatted down until he was at his level, "Hey, Ichigo." Grimmjow smiled and ruffled his hair a bit. When Ichigo didn't respond he cocked his head to the side. Ichigo's body shook and Grimmjow pulled his hand back, "Ichigo what's wrong?" He asked and Ichigo lifted his head a bit. He rubbed his face and he tried smiling but failed miserably.

"Hey Grimmjow," His voice was shaky as he looked into Grimmjow's deep blue eyes, "how was your summer?" He asked with his voice still shaking.

"Ichigo what's wrong?" Grimmjow asked a little fiercer this time and he sat next to Ichigo and pulled his knees up to his chest too. "Ichigo, you look like you've been crying for days." He grabbed Ichigo's chin and looked at his puffy red eyes. There were no tears in them, but they were rimmed with red. Ichigo got a small blush across his cheeks and tried to pull away but Grimmjow's grip was too strong. "Tell me what's wrong Ichi," Grimmjow said again and Ichigo sighed sadly. He didn't want to tell, but he had to.

"My mom is gone Grimmjow. A few days into our vacation, my mom was shot protecting me. She's dead because of me." Ichigo grabbed Grimmjow's shirt, buried his face into Grimmjow's chest, and held on like a wet leaf. "It's all my fault Grimmjow," Grimmjow was a bit flabbergasted. He didn't know how to treat a person who was in as much emotional pain as Ichigo. He hesitantly wrapped an arm around Ichigo's shoulders and rubbed his shoulder blade.

"It's okay Ichi. It's not your fault, I know it's not." Grimmjow tried to soothe the young boy. Ichigo shook his head violently.

"No. It's all my fault I know it is. If I haven't had wanted to go looking in that store, my mom would still be here." Ichigo lifted his head to look into his eyes. "I should have protected her." Grimmjow looked across the hall and scowled at the wall in thought. He knew that Ichigo couldn't have ever known there was going to be a shooting in that store that day. Grimmjow thread his fingers through Ichigo's hair and let Ichigo rest his head on his shoulder.

"Don't blame yourself Ichi. It's that dude who shot her. You didn't pull the trigger and you couldn't have stopped any of the bullets from hitting anyone. Hell, you couldn't have even known," Grimmjow told Ichigo and Ichigo shook his head solemnly.

"I don't even know anymore. That's what I have people telling me, even my heart is telling me that it wasn't me. But my brain won't listen; I don't know what to do."

"Well that's simple." Grimmjow was quick to answer and Ichigo looked up confused. "You're supposed to listen to your heart, stupid. It's usually the best way to go in any kind of argument." Grimmjow said with confidence as he looked into Ichigo's chocolate brown eyes.

"I-I guess you're right," Ichigo looked down and gave a true small smile. "Thanks Grimm." He said softly and rubbed his face using his shirt. "Oh, I got you something though, before the whole, um, incident thing." He didn't want to exactly say his mother's death. He had just gotten over it a little and he didn't want to be depressed again. He reached for his wrist which had a lot of large knotted bracelets. He pulled off the one that had three different shades of blue along with white. He held it out to Grimmjow and he smiled.

"What's this for? You know you didn't have to get me anything, we've only been friends for, like, less than a year." He said and took the bracelet from Ichigo's hand. Holding it between his thumb and forefinger.

"It's a friendship bracelet, I meant to give it to you on the first day of school but, um," He looked off to the side and chewed on his lip a bit. Grimmjow held out his left arm and slid the knotted jewelry onto his wrist. It was a bit big, but he was sure that when he got older it'd fit fine. "You gotta promise that we'll be friends forever, okay?"

"I promise," Grimmjow smiled as he looked at the bracelet. "This seems like something a girl would do." He said playfully before getting a small punch to his arm. Grimmjow chuckled a bit and gently stood up, offering a hand out for Ichigo. Ichigo smiled as he grabbed his hand and pulled himself to his feet. Once he was up and steady, the bell rang for lunch. Students came flooding down the hall way and Ichigo pulled Grimmjow off to the side so they wouldn't be trampled. When the students from their own classroom emptied out into the hall, Shinji and Renji were together looking for Ichigo. Shinji caught sight of the orange haired boy and pulled Renji to with him to go see Ichigo.

"Ichi!" Shinji called and Ichigo turned around to soon be tackled into a crushing hug from Shinji. "Ichi! Are you okay? You were crying during class and you went to the hall," Shinji looked to Renji and he simply nodded.

"What's wrong?" Renji asked simply and Ichigo looked at Grimmjow before looking back to Renji and nodding.

"Yea. I'll tell you guys at lunch." Ichigo said as he started walking towards the cafeteria with Renji, Shinji and Grimmjow following close behind. Once they all sat down with their food Ichigo looked at Grimmjow before beginning his story. He told it in a quiet voice so other people couldn't hear and when he got to the part where his mother died, Shinji's face dropped and he covered his mouth with his hand as he gasped. Ichigo looked down at the table and nodded his head sadly, "Yeah, her funeral was a few days after she died. I didn't come to school the first week because I couldn't even get out of bed. I was just so upset that I didn't protect her." He remembered the other bracelets and he pulled off two more. One was for Renji, it was red, black, white, and brown; while Shinji's was yellow, brown, blue, and black. Ichigo explained what they were and they slipped the bracelets onto their wrists and smiled at Ichigo giving their thanks.

Grimmjow looked at Ichigo out of the corner of his eye and saw the small smile that was gracing his lips. Grimmjow looked at his bracelet and nodded a little to himself. 'Yea friends forever.' He looked back over to Ichigo and felt a little constricting in his chest. He didn't know what it was but he just went back to eating. He felt like he needed to tell Ichigo about it, but he wasn't big on sharing his feelings.

What Grimmjow didn't know is that he would have regretted his decision of not sharing his thoughts.

Present Day…

"Wait, what'd you just say Ichi?" Grimmjow was sitting Indian style on Ichigo's bed and his eyebrows were currently lost in his hairline. Ichigo cleared his throat and he bit his lip a little before looking down.

"I said I'm gay," This caused Grimmjow to shake his head slightly in disbelief, "and I'm dating Renji." That statement caused a fire to burn in Grimmjow's eyes and in his chest. The guy who he had liked for more than six years had not only came out to him, but also dropped the bomb that he was dating someone else. His chest ached and he cursed himself in his mind.

'Damn it.'