~As always, I only own the plot. I don't own the series or characters so don't sue me.
Chapter Two - Things Change
Giving a quick yank to her ponytail to ensure it was firmly held in place by the hair tie, Ichigo crouched down at the starting line, waiting for the single. Yoruichi blew the whistle once and the runners thrust their backsides into the air, their finger tips grazing the cool cement. The woman blew the whistle again, much longer this time and the runners took off at top speed down the track. The 100 meter dash was over seconds later with Ichigo coming out on top by a land slide. Her fellow teammates surrounded her firing off questions.
The amount of voices overwhelmed her, but before she had a chance to respond, Renji and Yoruichi came over to her aid. "Alright," Renji said as she forced her way into the small crowd. "I get it, she's amazing, but yer all gonna suffocate her."
"You don't want to scare off the girl that's going to help us win the regional s do you?" the coach questioned. The crowd seemed to back off and go about their own business in response. Yoruichi turned her playful golden eyes to Ichigo. "Hit the showers," she said with a tilt of her head. "You're done for the day."
Ichigo nodded before jogging off to the locker room where she promptly stripped and showered. Just as she finished up, she noticed that practice must have ended as the locker room began to fill up with other females, all heading straight to the showers. The orangette stopped at the locker given to her and began to dress at a nice leisure pace. After all, it wasn't like she needed to be anywhere anytime soon. Just as she grabbed her bag from the locker, a towel covered Renji slapped her on the back hard, causing her to drop her bag, the contents spilling in the process.
"For someone so fast, you sure are a klutz," the red head teased.
"Well maybe if someone wasn't an ass I wouldn't have dropped it!" she snapped.
Renji merely laughed before sauntering away, leaving Ichigo alone to gather her belongings. It was then she realized she left her chemistry book in the lab. As much as she hated the idea, she was suddenly thankful her new friend had caused the spill. Especially considering she had a lab report due the following afternoon. Closing the black bag, Ichigo hurried back toward the main building, easily navigating to the hall containing the science labs. Upon entering the lab she found it empty and headed straight to the station she shared with her lab partner.
The book wasn't sitting atop the table, so she searched the drawers. The drawers were filled with beakers and measuring devices, but no books. Growing a bit frantic she checked under the table before moving to check nearby stations when her book was suddenly thrust into her vision.
"Kurosaki Ichigo I presume?" a soft voice questioned.
Bright amber eyes turned upward to find the owner of the voice to be a pink haired, golden eyed student wearing the oddest white glasses she'd ever seen. "Ah, mmm," she responded awkwardly as she stood to her full height and reached out to grab the book. Before she could touch the much needed item, it was pulled back out of her grasp. An orange eyebrow arched in response as she watched the newcomer push his glasses up his nose, reminding her momentarily of Ishida.
"Nothing in the world is free," he tsked as if she should already understand the basic concept.
Ichigo sighed heavily. "What do you want?"
A smirk crept onto his face. "You and Grimmjow are childhood friends are you not?"
"Yeah," the girl answered as she crossed her arms in a bored fashion.
"How long have you two known each other?"
"Since I was seven." She was slowly growing agitated by the somewhat personal questions. Ichigo just wanted her damn book back.
"That's quite a long time. About ten years now then?" All he received was a nod from the girl. He knew that her patience was growing thin. Szayel would be lucky to get a few more questions out of her before she'd storm off with or without the book. "How did you two meet?"
"Like the jerk he is, he pulled my hair." Why was this guy being so inquisitive about her past with Grimmjow? Was this guy some sort of stalker of the blunet's?
The pink haired student chuckled lightly at this. "Yes, that does sound like something he'd do." Silence filled the air for a moment as Ichigo continued to pin him down with a hard look. "You two sound like stereotypical childhood friends. I bet you even live next door to each other."
"No," she said and watched a bit surprised as what looked like relief flashed over the student's face. "Same street, but a few houses apart."
"Still close enough you could chat without having to leave your front porch." The smile he gave seemed forced and incredibly creepy as a result.
"I guess..." Ichigo mumbled. The room was silent as Szayel continued to smile creepily at her. Quickly checking her watch, the orangette gasped at the time before snatching the book from the pink haired man and rushing out of the room. "Uh, thanks for holding onto my book," she called back over her shoulder before disappearing into the hall.
"Oh don't mention it," Szayel said more to himself than the girl. Gazing at the floor, the setting sun cast an eerie reflection off his glasses, shielding his eyes from sight. "Pray for your sake you don't come between Grimmjow and I," he muttered to himself, Ichigo well out of ear shot at this point. "I'd hate to see what happens to you if you did."
Upon exiting the grocery store, Ichigo checked the bag to ensure she grabbed everything her sister Yuzu had requested for dinner. She silently prayed the girl wouldn't be upset. After all, she would be arriving home later than she had informed the young middle school girl. Tightening her grasp on the bag, she began to sprint down the sidewalk, determined to at least get home in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, luck was not on her side. Just as she neared another shop, its doors slid open as a fairly tall and well built man exited the shop. Unable to stop herself in time, Ichigo crashed roughly into the man. Just before she could hit the ground, she felt a strong grip on her wrist, saving her and the bag of groceries from the fall.
"Ichigo-chan?!" a deep baritone blurted out, sounding incredibly surprised.
"Abelardo-san!" the orangette cried happily as she righted herself before quickly embracing the tall blue haired man.
"It's been some time hasn't it?" he questioned as he returned the hug.
"It has," Ichigo replied, finally releasing the man. "How have you been?"
"Oh you know the same old geezer I've always been."
Abelardo Jaegerjaques, father to one Grimmjow Jaegerjaques. The two were eerily similar. The current Grimmjow looked almost identical to the man Ichigo had met when they were children, only his eyes were green whereas his son's were a bright blue. The past ten years hadn't done well to the man. He was finally starting to look his age. His once vibrant blue hair was now a much duller shade and sat limply atop his head. He seemed to have opted for a scruffy appearance. His jeans were baggy and his black shirt hung limply against his upper torso. Abelardo was much thinner than the big muscular military officer she remembered from her youth. Something must have happened while she was away in Tokyo to cause such a drastic change in the once proud man.
"Did you ever get that promotion you were working toward before I left?" Ichigo asked as they fell in step next to one another, heading toward her childhood home.
The blunet's expression sunk momentarily before transforming into a sad smile as he casted his gaze to the sky. "I was dishonorably discharged about six months after your family left."
"I'm so sorry." She was right. The military was Abelardo's life next to his son, his wife dying shortly after the child's birth. "To have something you loved so dearly taken away from you must have been painful..."
"It was, but there was nothing I could do." His green eyes shifted to gaze happily at the orangette. "Speaking of which, Grimmjow was so heartbroken after you left."
"What?" she sputtered, her face flushing lightly.
"My boy missed you dearly. I know he was waiting for you to return."
The pair came to a stop in front of a very familiar house. Apparently the Jaegerjaques still lived in the same house. Well, the house had changed obviously. The lawn seemed to be unkempt and the house was in various states of wear. It was almost as if they had stopped caring about keeping it together. It seemed like a lot had changed for the small family while she was away in Tokyo all those years.
Catching her gaze on the house, Abelardo continued. "He refused to move you know. Grimmjow would tell me all the time that he wanted you to be able to find him easily whenever you came back." The blunet clasped the girl's hands and held them at chest level as he leaned in close, his voice soft and endearing. "My boy loves you more than life itself even if he doesn't yet realize the extent of his feelings."
Heat seemed to explode off Ichigo's face as it turned redder than her namesake. Swallowing hard, she opened her mouth to refute those thoughts, but was suddenly cut off.
"Leave her alone Old Man."
Ichigo turned her brightly blushing face to the side only to find more blue filling her vision. Abelardo laughed as he released her hands and smiled brightly at his son. "Ah my son!" he called happily. "When are you going to fulfill your promise and marry Ichigo?"
Grimmjow's face flushed at that comment, whether from embarrassment or anger it was hard to tell. "Never!" he snapped. The orangette felt a slight pang of sadness at hearing this, but brushed it off.
"But you swore every day you were going to marry her when you two were older."
The blunet began to shove his father toward the front door of their run-down house. "I was just a stupid kid then."
"You're still just a stupid kid," his father teased.
"Don't make me hurt you," Grimmjow growled lowly. Succeeding in getting the older man into the house, he turned back to face the girl. "Hurry up and get home before it gets dark Kurosaki."
With that the door shut and the slight pang turned into a more painful sensation. Grimmjow had called her Kurosaki. Not Ichigo, not Ichi, not even berry head, but Kurosaki. So just because he was gay it meant they could no longer be friends. Or perhaps it was because she had unintentionally deceived him all these years? Whatever the reason, he obviously had no desire to be close to her anymore.
Broken hearted, Ichigo continued to her mindless trek down the sidewalk a bit until she reached her front gate. Entering the house, she numbly kicked off her shoes and laid the grocery bag on their dining table before heading up the stairs to her room, ignoring Yuzu's worried calls to her. Once in her room, she moved over to her desk and opened a drawer. Moving all the papers on top aside, she reached in and grabbed a small book before moving to sit on her bed.
Opening the book to a random spot, it showed a picture of her and Grimmjow playing at the park down the street when they were younger. She remembered the day it was taken. They'd only known each other for a couple months, but during those months, the two had grown incredibly close. Grimmjow had succeeded in getting the girl to come out of her shell.
"Hey Jaegerjaques," the girl said as she hung upside down from the monkey bars, her legs wrapped tightly around a single bar. "How come you always call me Ichigo instead of Kurosaki like everyone else?"
"Because it's easier," the blunet responded without bothering to look up from his place in the sand box.
"Kurosaki isn't that hard to say," she shot back.
Blue eyes shifted to stare intensely into her own amber orbs. "Fine, it's because I like you."
"What does liking me have to do with calling me by my first name?" The young girl crossed her arms, almost as if she were pouting.
"When you like someone, you call them by their first name. It's why I'm the only one that calls you that." Grimmjow stood and moved over to the girl still hanging upside down.
Ichigo huffed at that comment. "Are you saying no one likes me?"
"Course not stupid," the blunet laughed. "I'm just the only one who likes you enough to call you by your first name."
Amber eyes shifted to the side as her cheeks turned a light shade of pink. "So would it be alright for me to call you Grimmjow?"
Now Grimmjow's cheeks had turned a light pink as his cyan orbs widened momentarily before softening. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, I'd like that a lot."
A small tear trickled down her cheek as she stared at the photo, her heart still shattered. The Grimmjow she knew had apparently died the day she left for Tokyo with her family...
A/N: Sorry this chapter seems fairly short. It's really not, just the first chapter was super long. XD Anyways, I managed to get this done early so I figured I'd treat you guys to an early update. Sorry if I pulled on your heart strings a little too strongly, but its a set up for the next chapter. Things will take on a light hearted tone after the next chapter for a bit. I promise.
Thanks for all the reviews/faves/follows! They mean a lot to me! : )