Last chapter you guys! Thanks to all who followed this story and reviewed. It meant a lot because I would NEVER have finished this without your support. Much love and I hope you enjoy the final installment of Unlocked. And I also hope it's the closure you all wanted since Unnamed XD
'Ichigoooo! The hot pot is ready!'
The orangehead flipped the cardboard box shut and shifted it to one side. Wiping his sweaty brow, he stood up and gazed around his now empty room.
'I can't believe I'm actually moving out,' he thought in awe.
It wasn't like he was moving across the country. More like 10 blocks down from the Kurosaki household. A little something he, Chad, and Uryu had found while on house hunt. It was a compact little three-bedroom house with a kitchen and everything. Ichigo actually prided on being able to find such a gem.
And it definitely wasn't because he was getting sick of his family. On the contrary, he decided he wanted to venture out into the world on his own, try living by himself and earning on his own. More or less, he wanted to grow up. Because over the past two years, he realized it was high time he did. It was also the reason why he and Grimmjow broke up that day.
'You mad?' Ichigo asks, worried, wrapping an arm around the bluenette's bare shoulders. Surprisingly, Grimmjow didn't push him away. Instead, he laughs. Ichigo looks at him incredulously.
'I think I should've seen this coming,' the blue-haired man murmurs, pulling his knees up and wrapping his arms around them. He smiles affectionately at Ichigo. 'Not that I think you're sick of me, which you probably are, but I think our relationship being long distance strained us which is why I ended up making so many stupid choices. That and the fact I'm a fucking asshole.'
Ichigo frowns. Then, he turns Grimmjow's face to his and presses his lips softly against the bluenette's. When they part, he rests his forehead against his lover's while cupping his face.
'I can never be sick of you,' he murmurs. 'Your perfections, your faults, your burdens, your happiness; I love all of them and always will. But I'm afraid we'll end up relying too much on each other. So this time apart is going to give us time to think and stand on our own two feet. And if anything, it's going to make us stronger.'
Grimmjow locks eyes with him, bright blue with warm brown. He gently frames Ichigo's face with his own hands.
'You were always the stronger than me,' he sighs. 'And I wished I was like you.'
He closes his eyes, as if thinking. Ichigo watches him with bated breath.
'When do you think we'll be ready?' he murmurs.
Ichigo can sense a tremble in that tone. Grimmjow is still scared even though he wants to do this badly. And Ichigo doesn't blame him. Time is such an unpredictable factor. Who knows how long it will take before the two of them are ready to restart their relationship. What if it takes years? What if one is ready while the other isn't? And…what if one of them falls out of love for the other? It's a damn scary thought. Ichigo had been hesitant to even consider it at first. But…
'We'll know,' Ichigo reassures him, now stroking Grimmjow's cheekbone with a thumb. 'Just like we've always known.'
Grimmjow's eyes flutter open, clouded in wonderment. The corner of his mouth curls up in a half-smile.
'You watch,' he remarks. 'I'm going to be as strong as you one day.'
Ichigo kisses him tenderly in return.
'I can't wait.'
Ichigo smiled at the memory, closing his eyes for a moment to remember Grimmjow's face. The angular cheekbones, the deceptively soft lips, the cerulean irises that seemed to be laughing at him all the time, and the feeling of strong arms wrapping around his waist while a husky voice whispered sweet nothings in his ear. His heart panged. He missed Grimmjow terribly.
On more than one occasion, he had been tempted to call the bluenette and beg him to take him back. But he had to stay strong. Not for himself but for Grimmjow. For both of them. This was necessary, pain and all.
Though he did give in at one point and called Grimmjow. But he had a reason. It was Mother Jaeguerjacques birthday. That conversation had last for three hours. And then Grimmjow had handed his mother the phone so Ichigo would wish her happy birthday.
Ichigo chuckled to himself as he leaned against a wall, eyes trained on the ground as a grin threatened to split his face in half. Then, he caught sight of a picture frame perched on a cardboard box. Hm, he never remembered putting that there. Must be his mother's doing. He sauntered up and picked it up, turning it over to see what it held. His heart did a backflip.
It was a photo of him and Grimmjow, with him leaning forward to whisper something into the bluenette's ear. And Grimmjow was wearing such a blissful smile that Ichigo felt his heart doing a double backflip at the sight.
Ichigo now held the frame in both hands, smiling languidly. He remembered this. He actually didn't know Renji was taking a photo until he saw the camera flash. After that, he made sure Renji was seeing flashes of his own. Flashes of his own life passing before his eyes, that is.
They were only minutes from going through the airport gate back to Japan. He remembered Grimmjow squeezing his hand so tightly it felt like his bones were going to break. He also remembered Grimmjow having second thoughts about everything. Then, on some crazy whim, Ichigo had pulled Grimmjow aside to whisper something in his ear. After he had finished, Grimmjow had just stared at him for a moment before throwing himself onto Ichigo and kissing him passionately.
Ichigo felt his lips tingle from the memory of that kiss. It was the last kiss they shared before he had boarded the plane. Even though it had just been a kiss, Ichigo had felt his lips burning with Grimmjow's touch all the way to Japan. That was definitely the best kiss they had ever shared. It wasn't intense. But the volumes of emotion it spoke outweighed any passionate moment they had shared before that.
One of his favorite things about the photo was the fact that his and Grimmjow's fingers were entwined together. He hadn't meant to do that. It just happened. Or maybe…it was just normal and they've been doing it since forever without even realizing it.
'Ichigo! Hot pot! Before it gets cold! And I'm not in the mood to leave any for you either!'
'Okay, okay!' Ichigo thudded down the stairs heavily into the kitchen to come face to face with a scowling Karin.
He almost started when he saw her. She'd started to grow her hair out and wear skirts which made her so different that Ichigo had a hard time believing it was still Karin. But that didn't stop her from playing soccer with the boys and stealing berries from the neighbor's mulberry bush. So that proved she was still Karin.
'What kind of sister are you?' he complained, grabbing an upside down bowl and tossing it in the air to catch it right side up. 'I'm going to be moving out in a few days! Least you can do is be nice to me for one day.'
Karin snorted and grabbed a bowl of her own, mimicking her brother on righting it.
'I didn't spit in your coffee this morning if that makes you feel better,' she remarked. Ichigo stared at her as she moved past him to pour some fresh stew into her bowl.
'You're joking, right?' he asked, worried. Then he turned to Yuzu who was trying to hold in her giggles. 'She's joking, right?'
'Oh, hush, Ichigo, Karin is just teasing. I make your coffee in the morning anyway,' Masaki Kurosaki laughed and lovingly mussed up her son's hair. 'My big boy is going to live on his own! I'm so proud of you! And it's so close to home!'
'It's not so close,' Ichigo retorted. 'And I'm sharing it with Chad and Uryu so technically I'm not living by myself!'
Actually, Ichigo didn't mind sharing and would've loved it if Renji had moved in with him as well but the stupid redhead just had to move to Germany for his "Shinny-poo" (Renji didn't actually call Shinji that but it was funny seeing his face turn red whenever Ichigo said it). It had been kinda hard to accept, what with Ichigo going on a break and Renji jumping into a relationship. Ichigo even had to admit he had been jealous. But all in all, he was happy for Renji. Just as long as Shinji didn't call him up and narrated their "amazing" sex life (that's how he found out about "Shinny-poo").
'Still makes you a mama's boy,' Karin muttered. Ichigo stuck his tongue out at her.
'Where's oto-?' he began to ask when he saw something flying towards him from the corner of his eye. He used his bowl to shield his face as a slipper bounced off the china.
'Don't you hide from, Ichigo! I can see everything!' Isshin shouted from across the kitchen.
'What the hell is wrong with you?!' Ichigo yelled. 'You're supposed to congratulate me, not throw your bathroom slippers at my face!'
'This is my way of congratulating you! You're a man now!'
'So I deserve a shoe in the face?!'
'I'm surrounded my morons,' Karin muttered as she took her place at the dining table.
'Settle down, Isshin,' Masaki sighed. 'Before we have to assure the neighbors again that they don't need to call Children's Aid.'
Sulking, the burly man lumbered in, muttering something about educating his son in manliness. Though he seemed to perk up when Masaki pecked him on the cheek and told him he was the manliest man she'd ever met.
Ichigo smiled softly. He really admired the love his mother had towards Isshin. When she had been married to his bastard of a father, she'd been miserable. Isshin did her a world of good. For the first time, she had someone could make her laugh, shower her with affection and love her endlessly.
He hoped he could find a love like that one day.
'How's Grimmjow, Ichigo?'
Ichigo stared at his okasan in bewilderment. Could okasan's read minds? He thought that was just a myth!
'I know you two have a pact going on but still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk as friends once in a while,' Masaki mused, resting her chin in the palm of her hand.
'He's…' Ichigo looked towards the giant pot on the stove, hoping his mother couldn't see his ears reddening. 'He's doing good. Umm, he's actually travelling right now. Wanted to see the world.'
'That's wonderful! Please let him know that he's always welcome at our place if he decided to stop by in Japan.'
Thinking about Grimmjow was strangely making his chest hurt. Why now of all days? Was it because he was thinking way too much about the bluenette? Well, that wasn't a bad thing. You always think about the things that you love. But was it really proper to do so when you promised to give them space and time?
'Ewwww! Daaaad! Why're you grating cheese on your hot pot?' Karin demanded n disgust.
'Because it's for the grater good!'
'Oh, my God, that was so lame!'
'I'll get it!' Ichigo said hastily, hoping nobody saw him wiping a few stray tears from his eyes as he quickly left the kitchen. Shit, today was just too damn emotional. Maybe he needed to crawl into bed and just take a nice, long nap-
He opened the door. His jaw dropped.
'Hey,' Grimmjow grinned. 'Long time no-shit, are you crying?'
Ichigo roughly wiped his face. Perfect. Just perfect. Here's Grimmjow, standing in all his glory with his hair cropped short and tousled (very sexily, he might add) and wearing fitted denim jeans with a matching bright white t-shirt. And Ichigo's eyes were puffy red.
'I'm sorry! Is this a bad time? Shit, shit, shit, I just wanted to surprise you in that cheesy "I want you back" kinda way and then-aw, fucckkkk!'
Ichigo burst out laughing. Oh God, did Grimmjow get awkward over the years or what!
'Cute,' he finally breathed, wiping away tears of laughter this time. Grimmjow glared at him, realizing he just made a fool of himself. 'Oh, God, that really made my day. Other than the fact that you are standing in my door way.'
'Well, yeah…' Grimmjow muttered, tugging at his shirt in discomfort. There was an awkward pause between them.
'…Want to start over?'
Ichigo closed the door. Then he opened it again, gasping in shock while cupping his face with his hands in a comical fashion.
'G-G-Grimmjow?' he whispered melodramatically. Grimmjow rolled his eyes.
'Would you like some eggs with that ham?' he said dryly. Ichigo grinned broadly. He opened his arms wide.
'Come here, you!' he chuckled.
Grimmjow stared at his open arms. Then, as fast as lightning, he grabbed Ichigo's face and pulled it towards his so that their lips locked in a fiery kiss.
Although Ichigo squawked at the spontaneous passion, he did not resent it. In fact, he enthusiastically wrapped his arms around that slim waist and pulled him closer so their hips were glued together. Tongues, lips and teeth melded into each other and they fell into a routine so achingly familiar and missed by them. They parted with heavy breaths, hearts thrumming with excitement.
'I've missed you,' Ichigo murmured, feeling the burden of two years finally being lifted. 'I thought I was going to go crazy at some point.'
'I was going to cave in first,' Grimmjow laughed, knocking their foreheads together gently. 'I was so close. But then, I remembered what you said to me. And I knew, that the wait was going to be worth it. Because, Ichigo…' he pulled away to grin toothily, '…we got something no one else does. So why the hell are we worried?'
Ichigo's eyes widened.
'You still…remember?' he said softly. Grimmjow quirked an eyebrow.
'Question is, how can I forget,' he remarked with a smirk. Ichigo chuckled. Now that was cheesy.
'Ichigo! Who's at the door? Dinner's getting cold!' Masaki called from the kitchen.
'And get here quick before Dad starts pulling out even worse puns!'
'But that's because I carrot about you!'
'Don't mind him,' Ichigo muttered as Grimmjow raised both eyebrows. 'He's just coping with me moving out.'
'You're moving out?'
'Not far. Just thought a fresh start would be nice. Would you like to see it?'
Grimmjow gave a small smile.
'I'd like that,' he said quietly.
As they walked towards the dining area, hand in hand, their fingers linked like a perfect zipper. Just like that time at the airport.
'This isn't going to work, Ichigo,' Grimmjow murmurs, staring rather intensely at the airport gate. 'We're going to drift apart. What the hell are we thinking? This is a stupid, stupid idea-'
'Shhh,' Ichigo hushes him, pulling him to one side and leaning in closer. 'Hey, calm down. You're just nervous because you've never done this before.'
'Then how do you know it will work?'
'Because…' Ichigo now whispers into Grimmjow's ear, 'we've got something no one else does. So why the hell are we worried?'
He pulls away and sees the look of wonderment on the bluenette's face. Then, he's suddenly pulled into a sweet kiss. And really, nothing can be more perfect.