Here it is...the end of The Roommate. Before we dive in, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has been following this story! Thanks for reviewing, fav'ing, and most of all, reading. :D
So...a few chapters ago, I mentioned that Barbie won't be making a reappearance...well, guess what...apparently I lied. :p
Ichigo hit the floor shoulder-first before he even had the chance to open his eyes. With an indignant yell, he sat up on the carpeted floor and rubbed his throbbing shoulder.
"What the fuck was that for, old man?" He glared at his father, who towered over him with his hands on his hips, looking entirely too pleased with himself.
"Language! My darling son!" Kurosaki Isshin exclaimed with an exaggerated look of horror.
Ichigo grumbled under his breath and picked himself up reluctantly. Normally, he wouldn't have fallen victim to his father's "wake up calls" so easily — the man had outdone himself today by kicking Ichigo right out of bed — but he had stayed up until three in the morning the night before. That idiot, Renji, had insisted on toasting his graduation with shots of vodka. If Rukia hadn't stopped him in time, Ichigo would've woken up with a mother of a hangover today.
Yes. Renji and Rukia, Ichigo's two closest friends from Japan. The three of them had practically grown up together. When they found out that Ichigo's family was traveling to the states to attend his graduation ceremony, they had jumped at the opportunity to visit the states.
So now here they were, sharing a room next to Ichigo's at one of the hotels downtown.
Judging from the way Rukia gushed about Disneyland, though, Ichigo suspected darkly that his graduation was less than half of the motivation behind her visit.
Nevertheless, he couldn't be happier that they're here.
"Ichi-nii, you're going to be late!" Karin shouted from the next bed.
Before Ichigo could reply, a pillow went smack right into his face.
"Mmmfff! What the hell!"
Karin laughed with an evil glint in her eyes and took the pillow back, only to slam it into the back of her brother's head, causing him to stumble forward.
"Oi!" Ichigo protested with a scowl. He opened his mouth to scold his sister, but was immediately distracted when the pillow threatened to land on the top of his head next.
Yuzu, oh darling Yuzu, came to his rescue, handing him his clothes, all perfectly ironed and folded — underwear included.
"Hurry, Ichi-nii!" she said sweetly, pushing him towards the bathroom and beyond the reach of her abusive twin.
Ichigo gave the wall clock a brief glance on the way and paled.
"Oh fuck! Shit shit shit!"
Without another word, he bolted into the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind him. He heard a muffled "Language, my darling son!" from his father, but didn't bother replying.
He didn't want to be late for his own damn graduation ceremony.
"'Kay, we're here," Ichigo announced, killing the engine.
They made it — in one piece, and actually on time. This was the first time he had driven a large van, and he had five lives in his hands — not including his own. He had gotten his driver's license two years ago when they'd moved out of the dormitory, but he hadn't driven much besides the handful of times Grimmjow allowed him to touch his precious BMW.
"We'll see you in a couple of hours, then," Isshin said, patting Ichigo on the back as they piled out of the rented van.
Ichigo grinned, feeling a burst of pride as he realized that he would officially become a college graduate soon. "Yeah, see you guys later," he replied, shoving the car keys into the pocket of his slacks.
Then they went their separate ways; Ichigo to the check-in booth for the ceremony, while his family and friends to the indoor stadium to find their seats. Ichigo clutched the front of his graduation gown a little tighter, excitement welling up in his chest. He jogged up to the registration booth, which was basically a long table covered in a deep blue velvet tablecloth manned by university officers, situated next to the entrance of a hall where all the graduating students were gathered. He gave them his name, showed them his student ID, and watched eagerly as they searched for him in their large binder.
"Kurosaki, Ichigo...there you are," one of the ladies said with a smile. She pushed the binder towards Ichigo and asked him for a signature next to his name. "Congratulations, young man."
Red-faced, Ichigo thanked her. He thought of leaving, then at the last minute, he stopped. "Can you please help me check if Grimmjow Jaegerjaques has checked in yet?"
The same lady nodded and flipped through the pages searching for Grimmjow's last name. "Jackson, Jacobs...Jaegerjaques, there we are...nope, hasn't signed in, honey."
Why was he not surprised? Ichigo gave the woman a smile and made his way through the double doors into the waiting hall. It was packed inside; young men and women, most already in their gowns, chatting, laughing. Most of the boys had button-up shirts and slacks on, but some were clad simply in jeans and t-shirt. Ichigo even caught sight of one guy who was wearing shorts and flip flops.
He himself was wearing a light blue shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. The hem of his shirt was tucked loosely inside a pair of neatly pressed black slacks that led down to...black-and-white checkered Vans. No stuffy patent leather dress shoes for him, thank you very much.
As he navigated his way through the crowd, eyes scanning for familiar faces, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Grimmjow's number. Two rings later, it was picked up, but he didn't even get the chance to say hello before he had to hold the phone away from his ear.
"...Mom! I don't need a tie!" came Grimmjow's voice, muffled by distance but no less loud. "No! I said...no...hey Ichi!"
Ichigo made a face and cradled his phone between his ear and shoulder as he spotted Shinji and the others across the room. He waved and started walking towards the blonde. "You're still at the hotel?" he asked, suppressing the urge to laugh at his boyfriend's indignant — and useless — protests.
It was useless, and Grimmjow knew it too. If the blue-haired young man had a weakness, it was this: his mother. He could shut someone up with a single glare but one pout from his mother would shut him up.
"Aww, mom!" Grimmjow groaned. "Yeah, I am. She won't lemme leave!"
This time, Ichigo chuckled. He heard Mrs. Jaegerjaques giggle softly, and then her girlish voice floated through the speaker. "Good morning, Ichi!"
"Hah...morning, Mrs. J...ah...Alice," Ichigo returned the greeting. Even after three years he still hadn't gotten used to calling her by name, but Grimmjow's mother had insisted, saying that Ichigo made her feel old. "Well, you better come quick," Ichigo added, eyeing his watch. "It's almost time!"
"I'm coming..." Grimmjow lowered his voice and said in a breathy tone, using that scandalous bed voice of his. Then he burst into laughter as if he could see the blush that had immediately crept onto Ichigo's face.
"Hey!" Ichigo snapped, shuddering inwardly at the mental image of Grimmjow doing just that. "Shut up and co—get here already!"
Grimmjow let out another bark of laughter before assuring Ichigo that yes, he was on his way. Ichigo ended the call, unconsciously shaking his head and smiling at the same time.
"Oooh, somebody looks happy. Had morning sex?" Shinji's cheeky question interrupted Ichigo's thoughts, and Ichigo realized belatedly that he had already arrived in front of his friend.
Ichigo scowled. "Man, why's your brain always in the gutter?"
Before the blonde could retort, Shuuhei cut in. "Too late, Ichi, his brain is permanently cemented in the gutter," Shuuhei said, grinning and holding his arms up to block whatever attack that Shinji would unleash on him for saying this.
"Like yours is any better," Rangiku piped up and wrapped her arms around Shuuhei from behind. "Plus, you're the one who had morning s—"
Shuuhei twisted around and covered her mouth hastily, but not before everyone had already understood her half-finished sentence. Ichigo bent over and clutched his stomach, choking with laughter as Shuuhei went red in the face in embarrassment.
"So that's what I heard this morning!" Shinji joined in mercilessly, his eyes gleaming with mischief now that he could have his revenge. "Oh, Ran, ohh, Ran..." he mimicked Shuuhei's deeper voice, making it sound breathless and absolutely lewd.
Ichigo thought he was going to die from the way his stomach muscles were spasming. Shuuhei was livid, his eyes screaming bloody murder as he tried to get to his blonde friend. Behind him, Rangiku just grinned, completely comfortable with their sex lives being discussed openly. The two of them couldn't be better suited for each other, it just took them more than ten years to finally realize that they wanted to be more than friends.
Through the madness, Izuru only rolled his eyes and remained silent, while Hanatarou tried his hardest to hide his giggles behind his hands. Ikkaku and Yumichika were openly laughing, completely unsympathetic towards Shuuhei's plight. All of them, with the exception of Nnoitra, were graduating on the same day. That idiot had ended up failing one class too many and had to stay back for another semester, but he had promised to attend their ceremony — assuming he didn't oversleep or forget.
"Where's your man, Ichi?" Rangiku asked, turning her attention from her boyfriend's antics to Ichigo.
Ichigo scratched the back of his head and did another visual sweep in the hall. He sighed. No blue hair, no feral, toothpaste-commercial-worthy grin. Grimmjow was going to be late for his own graduation ceremony.
"See ya later!" Grimmjow said with a big grin and gave his mentor a quick high-five before he climbed out of the car. Then he turned and sprinted towards the ceremony registration booth. He didn't really care so much about being late, but he knew Ichigo would throw a fit.
After scribbling a barely legible signature in the registration binder, he pushed his way through the sea of would-be-graduates. The hall was almost completely filled now. There was barely half an hour left before the students had to line up to walk into the indoor stadium to take their seats in front of the stage, where they would be receiving their diplomas.
Grimmjow's grin faltered slightly as he thought of the wrath he would be receiving from Ichigo, but the thought of seeing him quickly overrode it and brought that trademark grin back onto his face. They had been busy with their respective families over the past few days and hadn't seen each other since their families arrived. He never thought it was possible to miss somebody so badly.
His six-foot-one height gave him a little bit of an advantage as he looked for Ichigo. Of course, the fact that Ichigo had beacon-like orange hair didn't hurt. Grimmjow spotted Ichigo and his group of friends and muscled his way towards them, ignoring the indignant glares shot his way when he nudged people aside non too politely.
"Took you long enough!" Ichigo greeted him with a scowl, only to widen his eyes in dismay when he saw that Grimmjow was not only gown-less and hat-less, his shirt was not even tucked in, and his tie was missing.
"I'm happy to see you too!" Grimmjow pulled Ichigo into a hug before the boy had a chance to react, then quickly danced out of the way when Ichigo balled his fist and aimed for Grimmjow's stomach.
"Not funny!" Ichigo growled, his brows furrowed as he snatched the clear plastic bag from Grimmjow's grasp. He tore it open quickly and shook out Grimmjow's graduation gown, groaning when he saw how hopelessly wrinkled it was.
"Mm hmm, you're not getting any tonight," Shinji teased with a smirk.
Grimmjow raised his eyebrow and winked at the blonde, careful not to let Ichigo see it. Hah, Barbie didn't know half of it! There was no way Ichigo could resist him, mad or not. Still, he wasn't that anxious to push his luck, so he started to tuck his shirt into the waistband of his slacks as Ichigo continued to swear at the graduation gown.
It was then, Grimmjow decided that Ichigo looked absolutely gorgeous when he was pissed off, and he was going to do something about it.
"I think I need a mirror, you wanna come help me out?" Grimmjow asked innocently.
Ichigo glared at him but let Grimmjow drag him away anyway. They followed the signs and eventually managed to find their way to the restroom. It was, to Grimmjow's relief, empty and surprisingly clean.
The second the door clicked closed, Grimmjow pushed Ichigo against it and pressed their lips together hungrily, unable to control himself any longer.
"We're gonna be—" Ichigo gasped when Grimmjow finally released him for air. "—late!"
Grimmjow silenced the slimmer boy easily with a rough nip on his lower lip. "I'll be quick," Grimmjow promised.
Ichigo pressed a palm against Grimmjow's chest. For a moment, Grimmjow thought Ichigo was going to shove him away, but to his surprise, the boy curled his fingers around his shirt and pulled him closer instead. Grimmjow heard a soft, mumbled "oh, fuck it", and then Ichigo was suddenly kissing him back with renewed vigor.
Ah, he was such a bad influence on Ichigo.
Grimmjow contemplated carrying Ichigo into one of the stalls and finishing it there, but the thought met a quick death as soon as Ichigo's fingers went to Grimmjow's fly. Grimmjow spread his legs slightly to prevent his pants from sliding down to the floor completely, and at the same time he unziped Ichigo's graduation gown and fumbled with Ichigo's belt buckle. Letting the door support most of Ichigo's body weight, Grimmjow lifted the boy up, who immediately wrapped his legs around Grimmjow's hips as best as he could with his slacks pulled down just low enough to be out of the way.
As Ichigo's legs tightened around Grimmjow's hips, they exchanged a heated, knowing look, and Grimmjow began to move, pushing deeper with each thrust until he was sheathed to the hilt. Ichigo clung to him with one hand and muffled his own cries with the back of the other hand. With both hands occupied, Grimmjow could only bury his face into Ichigo's neck to stifle his.
Tension built, their voices trembled and rose in pitch, both of them quickly becoming out of breath as Grimmjow led them towards release. When it finally did come, it was so sweet and intense that it almost ached, and when it was over, Ichigo nearly slipped out of Grimmjow's arms. They leaned heavily against the door, Grimmjow holding Ichigo upright as the boy slumped bonelessly against him.
"Gonna be—" Ichigo croaked weakly. "—late."
Grimmjow glanced at his watch and blanched.
By the time they made themselves presentable, the students had already formed lines according to alphabetical order of their last names. As they took their spots, Grimmjow gave Ichigo a thumbs-up, grinning proudly when he saw that the boy's face was still glowing from their rigorous activity.
Ichigo smiled back and adjusted his robe again to smooth out the wrinkles that had formed from being wedged between Grimmjow and the door. Grimmjow fidgeted with his as well, feeling awkward and silly swimming in the oversized graduation gown.
Then someone signaled for them to move, and they filed into the brightly-lit indoor stadium. Thunderous applause rang from the audience as the students took their seats. There were only five people between Grimmjow and Ichigo, so they would be sitting in the same row.
Grimmjow craned his neck and squinted to search for his mother in the sea of people, and just when he was about to give up, he saw her. She waved, looking so excited that he was worried that she would pass out. Next to her, Ulquiorra quirked his lips into a lame excuse of a smile. They hadn't exactly become close in the past three years, but at least they weren't always at each other's throat now.
Most surprising of all, though, was that his father actually came too. And there he was, stony-faced as ever, sitting on the other side of his wife. Grimmjow locked eyes with him briefly before looking away and turning his attention to the speaker on the podium, who was droning on about how successful they were all going to be now that they had a piece of paper to prove their worth to the world.
Learning the truth about his birth — that he was an accident — had been painful, but knowing how hard his mother had fought for him soothed the ache. Grimmjow didn't think he would ever be able to form a normal bond with his father, and he was okay with that. They tolerated each other a little better now; It would take many more years, even decades, for them to mend the fence — if ever. Until then, they would keep an unspoken truce, if only just for his mother's sake. Even if Grimmjow's father could put the past behind him, Grimmjow wasn't sure if he could ever forgive his father completely for forcing his mother to choose between their marriage and Grimmjow, a decision so difficult to make that she ended up hiding her affection for her son. Alice Jaegerjaques was simply too gentle and meek to stand up for herself. That had changed, of course, now that Grimmjow was here to do that for her.
Before he knew it, the ceremony was over. He got his two seconds of limelight when he walked up to the stage to receive his diploma from the dean, and now he was officially a college graduate. Everywhere around him, people cheered and high-fived each other as soon as the dean presented the last diploma. The lines became less organized as they were asked to exit the stadium, and Grimmjow seized the chance to push his way over to Ichigo.
"Congratulations, fellow graduate!" he said with mock seriousness and immediately had his hat knocked off when Ichigo laughed and smacked his head with the hard-cover folder that held his diploma.
"Woot! We're finally free!"
They turned at the voice and grinned as Shinji and the others left their lines to join them.
"Be careful with that, man," Shuuhei teased, pointing to the precious proof of their expensive college education.
The artificial lighting of the corridor soon made way for sunlight as they finally stepped outside. Here and there, other fresh graduates were milling about taking photographs with family and friends. It took them only a handful of minutes to find Nnoitra, who immediately came over to congratulate them by hitting each of them on the head.
Grimmjow spotted his family walking past a group of students not too far away; his mother squinting under the sunlight, clearly searching for him. He raised his hand and waved, and was just about to call out to her when Ulquiorra pointed at him and steered their mother in his direction.
"I'm so proud of you, Kitt...I mean, Grimmjow!" his mother gushed excitedly.
Grimmjow let her yank him down for a hug, bending down a little to make up for their height difference. When she let go, Grimmjow straightened up and was immediately greeted by an outstretched hand. He eyed his brother a little apprehensively, then, finally deciding that Ulquiorra wasn't about to make some insulting comment in front of everybody, he shook the offered hand with a grin.
"Congratulations, brother," Ulquiorra said, actually sounding genuinely pleased for once. "And you, too, Ichigo." There was an awkward beat of silence as Ulquiorra looked at Shinji, Shuuhei, and the others, who looked back at him expectantly.
"And, ah, all of you too," Ulquiorra added, looking stricken at his lapse of etiquette.
As Ichigo introduced Ulquiorra and Alice Jaegerjaques to his friends, Grimmjow found himself standing stiffly in front of his father. The man had yet to utter a word, and was simply staring at him with an unreadable expression. Grimmjow bit back the harsh words that had begun to form automatically at the tip of his tongue. No, he wasn't going to start something that would ruin the day, but he didn't look away. He didn't do anything wrong. He was a college graduate now, something that his father probably never expected to see. No doubt the man was thinking of another way to disparage his accomplishment, probably something along the lines of "ah, I see you've managed to scrape through..." or something equally demeaning...
But the insults never came. What came instead, was an awkward, hesitant hand. Grimmjow jaw almost fell open in surprise, but he caught himself just in time and reached out to shake his father's hand firmly. The older man's eyes softened for a split second before his usual stoic mask slid back in place. Grimmjow wondered if he should say something, perhaps thank his father.
Before he could put more thought into it, the moment was shattered completely by a sudden roar of "Ichigoooooo!". Grimmjow had to quickly dart out of Isshin's way as the eccentric man tackled Ichigo to the ground. Or tried to, anyway. Ichigo dodged at the last possible moment, and the older man ended up landing heavily at Grimmjow's feet.
Grimmjow, Shinji and the others stared at Ichigo's father in disbelief while Ichigo rolled his eyes in exasperation. They had yet to meet him in person, and this was proving to be memorable first meeting. Ichigo's twin sisters tackled Ichigo next, joining the increasingly rowdy gathering. Grimmjow groaned inwardly at the thought of introducing Ichigo's family to his family later. There was no backing out of it; they were all going out for lunch together after this.
"Congratulations, Ichigo!" A petite, raven-haired girl squealed and threw herself at Ichigo, who quickly let go of his sisters to intercept her attack. Grimmjow snorted in amusement. That must be Rukia, the girl Ichigo secretly referred to — fondly — as "the midget".
What really caught Grimmjow's attention, though, was the tall, muscular redhead who followed behind her sporting a grin that could rival Grimmjow's. Grimmjow couldn't help but stiffen at the sight of the man. He knew this was Abarai Renji; Ichigo had talked about him plenty of times, and he'd seen pictures of the redhead. But Grimmjow didn't expect the man to look so...breathtaking...in person. Renji's hair was every bit as red as Grimmjow's was blue, he was slightly taller than Grimmjow and was just as broad and well built. Tattoos peaked out from under his hairline, his bandana, his short sleeves, even from his shirt collar, giving him a bold, exotic air.
Renji was, in short, a threat.
The redhead noticed Grimmjow's piercing gaze and stared back with a mix of curiosity and defiance. Grimmjow clenched his jaw unconsciously. This man was absolutely competition material, and he had the advantage of being one of Ichigo's best friends for so many years. Was he really here purely for Ichigo's graduation ceremony and not something more?
Renji raised his eyebrows and kept his eyes locked with Grimmjow's as if he was silently sizing him up, challenging him. Grimmjow felt his hackles rise; this was it, proof that the redhead was here to claim Ichigo. Nobody would spend thousands of dollars to fly half way across the world to see a "just a friend". Oh, he should've known—
"Guys, cute as it is to see you two comparing the size of your dicks, can you at least wait until after we have lunch?"
A stretch of stunned silence followed Rukia's question...then everyone roared in laughter, leaving Grimmjow and Renji cringing in embarrassment.
"Oh, Grimm," Ichigo chuckled, throwing an arm around Grimmjow's shoulders as the group began to walk to the parking lot to drive to restaurant where they had a reservation. "He's practically my brother, okay? It's kinda gross..."
Grimmjow scowled, the tips of his ears reddening despite his effort to will it away. "Shut it," he growled. That damn midget…
But then Ichigo laughed again, and Grimmjow decided that Rukia was okay after all. Anybody who could make Ichigo so happy was alright in his books.
"Happy graduation, kiddo," he said, reaching up to ruffle Ichigo's hair.
Ichigo batted Grimmjow's hand away from his head, attempting to look fierce and annoyed, but the twitching of his lips betrayed him. After a moment, he gave up and let a snicker slip.
"Happy graduation to you too, stupid."
~ END ~
Hope I've tied up most of the loose ends here. I struggled with this chapter, mostly because I wanted to find a good balance between fluff and closure. I don't want too much fluff, but I do want a humorous ending...hopefully this was a happy medium.
Oh and by the way, regarding Rukia and Byakuya, they're completely unrelated in the context of this story, so just assume that they just happen to have the same last name. :) And no, Renji does not have a romantic interest in Ichigo, it was added purely as a comic relief.
So...yeah, finally...it's time to say goodbye to this story. This is the longest story I've written yet, and it took more than two months! It's a first for me, I usually plow through stories quickly.
What's next, you might ask? I do have a new GrimmIchi planned, but before I start, I have a fic request to fulfill. I'm going to be honest and say that I took it simply to challenge myself, and it's proving to be quite a challenge! I think I mentioned the pairing to Mayuzu, but yeah...keep an eye out if you're interested. Let's just say...it's not a pairing you see everyday. :p