Ichigo was walking threw the snowy streets of downtown Canton. He moved from Karakura Town right after high school to go to collage at St. Lawrence University. It had been a hard decision to make, leaving his friends and family behind but in the end he had to do what was best for him. After losing his spiritual pressure, everything about Karakura reminded him of that time where he could fight along side of soul reapers and protect the people that were important to him. He couldn't stand sitting back helpless to do anything so he left. Ichigo knew that it was cowardly in a way but he just couldn't stand Ishida shutting him out about things involving hollows and shinigami or Inoue's pitying eyes.
It had been nearly two years since he was last home for Christmas and this year would be no different. Like clock work, his father and sisters had called every day all week trying to get him to fly home for the holiday and every year he declined. Ichigo knew that if he went home just once he wouldn't be able to leave again.
Ichigo was so lost in his thoughts about home he didn't even notice the figure moving towards him in the storm until they collided head one, knocking each other over.
"Oi watch where the hell you're going!" the person opposite shouted in agitation. Ichigo couldn't see his face well threw the snow but he knew that voice.
"Grimmjow?" he asked in puzzlement. What the hell was an Espada doing in America of all places and more importantly why could Ichigo see him.
"Kurosaki?" Grimmjow asked, just as confused as Ichigo. "What the hell are you doing here, and where are you're soul society buddies?" he went on, getting up and taking a fighting stance, as if he was about to be jumped.
"I'm going to collage here," Ichigo explained as he got up and brushed himself off. "As for my soul society buddies… well I haven't seen them in a couple years now. After the big fight with Aizen I lost all my spiritual pressure, which brings me to what I want to know. Why can I see you?"
"Figures, I lose the only opponent I found worthy of fighting me," the bluenette scuffed. "This is a gigai that crazy hat and clogs guy gave me after I escaped Hueco Mundo."
"Urahara-san?" the strawberry teen questioned. He was going to have to call Kisuke about it later.
"Yea him, told me I should take it and lay low for a while," Grimmjow went on. "You look like shit by the way."
"Gee thanks," Ichigo scuffed at his former rival. "Well I'll let you get on your way," he said as he noticed the storm picking up.
"Where you going?" Grimmjow asked him just as he was about to be on his way.
"Just back to my apartment," the teen said holding up a grocery bag to show he had been out shopping. "You should get out of this storm too, wouldn't want you to freeze to death on Christmas."
"I wont freeze berry but I can't say the same for you," Grimmjow frowned when he noticed that Ichigo's lips were already taking on a light blue tint. He didn't think the teen would make it home before he passed out from the cold. Grimmjow didn't know why he was even worried about the kid. Not long ago his main goal in life was to kill Ichigo Kurosaki, now he wanted nothing more then to make sure he was safe.
"I'll be fine," Ichigo told him with a fake smile before turning to leave again. This time Grimmjow reached out his arm and grabbed the teens wrist before he could get away.
"Hey ah- you don't have anyone at home to talk to and I've go nothing better to do so ah, I'll spend Christmas with ya," the bluenette said hesitantly, as if he wasn't sure.
"Well…okay," Ichigo relented, a little excited that for the first time in a long time he had someone from his past to talk to.
With that the two walked to Ichigo's apartment in silence, Ichigo unsure what to say and Grimmjow busy monitoring the strawberry's blue tint. The former Espada wondered if that Urahara guy had sent him to this town knowing that it was where Ichigo was going to be. It wasn't really a big town so he must have known that the two would run into each other at some point. Before Grimmjow could stop himself he was putting his arm around Ichigo's shoulder in an effort to keep him warm. He really was worried about the teen's health, he just didn't want to thinking about why that was just yet.
"Huh?" Ichigo asked as he felt Grimmjow's heavy arm on his shoulder as the Espada pulled him closer. For some reason the gesture made his heart feel warm. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation but it confused Ichigo to no end.
"You're startin ta turn blue," Grimmjow explained. Ichigo couldn't help but chuckle at that.
"Worried about me Grimmjow?" he teased.
"Yea," the bluenette said honestly. There was no point in lying about it. He really was worried after all.
"We're almost there," Ichigo assured as they walked on in the cold storm. Grimmjow just nodded but never removed his arm from Ichigo's shoulder till they reached the small apartment building. He took out his keys and fumbled with them for a moment or two before finally getting them to go into the door knob, unlocking the door. Grimmjow reached forward and opened the door before ushering Ichigo inside, he couldn't wait any longer, Ichigo really needed to get inside to warm up soon.
Ichigo let Grimmjow push him inside the house. He was a little touched that the Espada cared about him, even if Grimmjow wouldn't admit it. Inside Ichigo's cold skin was met by the warm air from the furnace the moment he walked through the door. He slipped his shoes off at the door before heading to the kitchen with his shopping bag, Behind him Grimmjow did the same while looking around the apartment curiously. It looked like a nice place, all decorated in warm earthy colors. Grimmjow realized that Ichigo's taste was similar to his own.
"Nice place you got here berry," he called out, not sure what direction Ichigo had gone. "Must cost you a lot though."
"Thanks," the teen said as he stood in the door way of the kitchen. "Yeah, the rents a bit high but I work as a nurses assistant at the hospital here, until I'm done with my college at least."
"What are you going to college for anyway?" Grimmjow asked, walking over to him.
"I'm studying to be a doctor," the strawberry teen told him before going back into the kitchen, Grimmjow right behind him. "Since you're staying I guess I should cook us something to eat huh?"
"That would be a fuckin good idea," Grimmjow growled, his stomaching mimicking the action. "That mad sicientist turned my hunger for spirit pressure into a hunger for food with this gigai."
"Sounds like something Kisuke would do," Ichigo agreed as he looked through his cabinets and refrigerator for something he could throw together as a Christmas dinner. "Hey Grimmjow, can you put some water in the tea kettle and put it on the stove, get it going?"
"Sure," he grumbled before grabbing the silver kettle off the stove and filling it up before returning it to the stove burner and turning it on.
"Thanks," he said, still hunting for food, so far he had produced a a can of whole peeled potatoes, a bag of rice and some canned carrots. Grimmjow leaned back against the counter top and watched Ichigo in amusement. It was obvious that it had been a long time since the berry had, had company over. Hat and Clogs had told him that none of them had seen Ichigo since the end of the winter war when he had asked about the berry but Grimmjow didn't really believe it until the moment he had ran into Ichigo on the street.
"So I heard you haven't been seen in Karakura Town since the end of the war," he questioned casually. He could see the berry tense up before forcing himself to relax.
"Yeah, I decided to move here for college right after high school," Ichigo said dismissively.
"Couldn't you have studied to be a doctor in Japan?" Grimmjow asked.
"Hai, but the medical courses are more advanced here then back home," Ichigo explained. "If I'm going to go through all this effort to learn how to help people then shouldn't I want to be trained by the best there is?"
"I suppose but why couldn't that old man of yours thought you? He's an great doctor from what I hear," the bluenette challenged.
"Goat face is the one who suggested coming to America actually. He knew it would be better for me and honestly I needed to get away." Ichigo said, closing the cabinet before moving to look in the freezer. "Chicken or beef?"
"Chicken," was the automatic reply. Grimmjow was trying to figure out why Ichigo must protect everyone Kurosaki needed to get away from those people that he risked everything to protect.
Ichigo took out a small pack of chicken and sat it on the counter. Just then the tea kettle started to whistle and Grimmjow turned to the stove to take it off the burner. Ichigo grabbed a bowl and sat the pack of chicken inside of it before dumping the hot water on top to help it thaw faster.
"Chicken curry is alright with you?" he asked. He wasn't much into American food so he mostly made what he was used to. It helped to keep him from getting home sick.
"It's fine by me," Grimmjow nodded. Anything would be fine, he wasn't too picky anyway. Ichigo nodded and refilled the kettle and sat it back on the burner for hot chocolate. It was Ichigo's favorite drink on cold winter days like this.
Grimmjow took at seat at the small wooden table in Ichigo's kitchen as they waited for water to boil. He wasn't sure what to say to him now that he was in his house. Hell he hadn't really been thinking of anything aside from wanting to make sure that Ichigo made it home without collapsing aside the rode somewhere. He settled with making some light conversation to brake the silence.
"So how's college been going for ya?" he asked as he watched the smaller made take two mugs down for the cupboard.
"It's been going alright. Some classes are a bit difficult but it's not bad as long as I pay attention and give it my best," he said. Even in high school he wasn't too far from being in the top of the class. Now without all the distractions that he had back then he could really apply himself. It also helped that here in America his hair color didn't make him seem like a delinquent either.
It went on like that for a while. Ichigo making them drinks while talking about what the redhead had been up to since leaving home and Grimmjow talking about what was going on in his own life. When Ichigo started to cook Grimmjow offered to help which Ichigo happily accepted. Ichigo found that he liked the company. It was nice for a change and made him feel warm. By the time they finished eating their small Christmas meal it was already getting dark outside and the storm was still going strong.
Ichigo was on the couch in front of the heater that looked like a fire place, looking out the window watching the flurry of snow. Grimmjow came in soon after with two mugs of coffee. He handed on to Ichigo before setting down beside him on the comfortable overstuffed sofa.
"It's still going out there huh," he started as he noticed Ichigo looking out the window. The red head nodded before turning his attention to his coffee cup.
"You should stay the night," he said suddenly, a blush creeping up his cheeks. "I-I mean I wouldn't want you out walking in that storm…" Grimmjow chuckled.
"Yea, I'll stay strawberry," he grinned.
"O-Oi! That's not what my name means," Ichigo huffed before taking a long drink of coffee, knowing the other man was laughing at him, but he couldn't help but smile. For the first time in a long time he felt a warmth in his soul and he knew it was because Grimmjow was here with him now. He wasn't alone anymore.
"Arigatou, Grimmjow," he said in a soft voice not looking up from his mug. Grimmjow just smirked but oddly it looked softer then normal as he put an arm around Ichigo's shoulder and pulled the smaller man closer to himself. He took the cup from his hand and said it on the counter making Ichigo look up at him in question.
Grimmjow took the other boy's chin in his hand and smiled down at him before capturing the other's lips with his own in a slow and tender kiss that Ichigo didn't think the Espada had even been capable of. Soon with those warm lips upon him everything faded from Ichigo's mind till there was only Grimmjow. Slowly he started to respond to the kiss, moving his lips hesitantly over the other's as his arms came up to wrap around Grimmjow's neck. It wasn't long before Grimmjow broke the kiss first, sighing in contentment and he pulled Ichigo closet, resting his chin on top of bright orange locks. Ichigo didn't mind being in the other man's arms as they watched the fire lights flickering in the comfortable silence, enjoying each other's company for Christmas.