You can tell a lot about a couple by how they meet, and even more by how they tell their "story." Some people have sweet stories that eventually end in some revelation of "it was fate" or "I knew he was the one." Others have funny stories full of embarrassing quirks that their significant other somehow found endearing. There are also boring meetings, often starting with "we met online."
Ichigo and his boyfriend had been together, romantically, for almost four years now. However, they met 12 years ago in the sixth grade; that's the short version of the story. As previously mentioned, stories of how a couple meets tend to be either sweet, funny, or dull, but Ichigo believes, whole heartedly, that his was just plain stupid.
On the first day of sixth grade, Ichigo was of course nervous, it being the first day of middle school and supposedly a huge turning point in his life. At least that is what all the elementary school teachers insisted upon. The first class of the day (he no longer remembered what subject) consisted of mostly introductions and "ice-breaker" activities to make all the kids feel comfortable, which didn't happen. Suddenly the door squeals open and the handle hits the wall as if it had been kicked in; how easily those doors swung open. In came a boy that looked like something straight off of a CD cover, edgy and almost intimidating in his black-on-black attire and studded belts. Surprisingly, his hair didn't play into his clothing trend and instead was a bright powder blue, like the sky at midday. After giving him the brief once over, Ichigo returned to filling out a parent contact card, no longer interested.
The punk kid said something to the teacher, rather loudly, and was assigned his seat, right behind the orange haired boy. Him joining the class served to encourage their classmates' gossip and fascination with hair color. Of course having orange hair always made Ichigo a bit of an oddity, but being next to someone with even odder coloration to his hair he believed would alleviate the impending taunting.
For a while everyone was talking and getting acquainted, making the classroom relatively noisy, so it took a minute for the ginger to realize the blue-haired punk was even talking to him. He seemed to be about mid conversation when Ichigo finally noticed and turned to acknowledge him. The kid grinned widely the entire time he spoke, his confidence never wavered. It was unclear whether he spoke for a reply or just to hear himself speak; he was loud for sure, and spoke a bit quickly, with an ever present urban, vaguely foreign accent. Half of the things coming from his mouth were lost, and the other half were gibberish, but then again Ichigo was only half paying attention to him.
"S'wutcha name?" Ichigo snapped to attention at being directly addressed.
"I- wha- I'm Ichigo... Kurosaki." The kid nodded, still grinning happily.
"Ichigo eh? Ya know ya name means-" Ichigo stopped paying attention after that, he wasn't in the mood for the taunting on how his name meant strawberry in some translations. It was a joke he had heard many times and it got real old real fast. He busied himself by drawing zig-zags and mock tribal in a notebook while the punk kid continued his ramblings, sometimes adding in "mm-hm" or "uh-huh." Not caring if he continued or not.
"ANYWAY- " he was suddenly louder, if at all possible, indicating he had made his point. There was more rushed gibberish, part of it sounding vaguely like "my name" leading to Ichigo grabbing at straws to assemble the mangled speech into anything that resembled a name. There was a mess of syllables followed by a clean-cut statement, "Jeagerjaques." The emphasis of it signaled it as the punk's last name, and Ichigo had yet to piece together his first, yet he was too ashamed to ask him to repeat his name. A quick scramble for something probable brought the phonetics of
"Ree" and "Ow" to mind from the urban slur of the blue-haired boy's voice. Taking into account his characteristic downtown mispronunciation, Ichigo just took it as the boy's name being "Ryo" and he stuck with it.
He paid a bit more attention to Ryo, but still hardly acknowledged the things he actually SAID. It was more so that Ichigo wondered about the other boy, and how he was really odd. He couldn't say a single coherent sentence at all, yet his last name was perfectly discernible and appropriately accented with a French tongue. Was Ryo French? It could explain his barely correct grammar, as well as his eye color; a perfect cerulean blue. As nice a color as it was, it was pretentious and annoying how blue his eyes were. Reflecting on this memory Ichigo would sometimes wonder whether he was deterred by him because he was jealous, or because he didn't know how to process the fact that the boy was undeniably attractive. Either way he couldn't be happier when time came to switch classes and he could get away from the constant droning of Ryo.
To the young ginger's dismay, he and his new "friend" were placed on the same circuit, sharing all classes with a small group of other students. This group would move together from one class to the next where they would share a classroom with two other groups, then repeat for all classes in a sort of shuffle. Yet in every class Ichigo was guaranteed to be sat next to Ryo and endure more of his Drabble. If the seats were alphabetized, sure enough Jeagerjaques was placed by Kurosaki, and when they were given a choice in seating Ryo was quick to pounce and snatch the seat by Ichigo.
"Y'real quiet. Know that?" Ryo asked. Ichigo let his head roll to the side, bored and ready for the bell to ring and release him from this endless conversation.
"I'm tired," he replied bluntly. His chatty companion accepted this answer much too easily and continued his assault on Ichigo's ears.
"S'I was thinkin' we should walk home t'gether. Cool?"
Ichigo held his head up straight now, not knowing how he would withstand more of this senseless babble.
"Sorry Ryo, I don't really want to," he stated. If this kid's constant attention was any indication, he probably wouldn't beat Ichigo up for saying no. Probably. However the look on his face now gave him doubts. It was most definitely the look of being offended by the refusal, his grin now a frown with his jaw tightened and brows drawn down and together in slight confusion.
"Ya don' wanna walk... With ME?" the blue haired pre-teen threw his hand on his own chest with such force there was an audible 'thwack' heard a few seats over.
"ME?" He reiterated.
"Yes, you. I'd like some time on my own, where it's QUIET."
Ryo didn't argue, just allowed his features to fall back into place and shrugged a shoulder.
"A'ight," he agreed, sliding back into his verbal tirade before the ringing over the P.A. system signaled the end of the day.
Ichigo couldn't be more thankful for the quiet as he walked home. It wasn't that he disliked the other boy outright, he was just far too talkative for him to keep up with. He relished the brief peace, knowing that when he got home he would be faced with the noisy outbursts of his hyperactive father.
Vaguely aware of another set of footsteps, curiosity soon had the boy looking around for the other pedestrian, finding a head of blue hair trailing behind him across the street. Ichigo would have been irritated had the other boy not looked otherwise preoccupied. Ryo had on a pair of headphones and was taking brief glances from the sidewalk to observe the street signs. From this he gathered that the other boy knew his way and must live nearby.
Coming upon his own house, Ichigo paused at the front door of the Kurosaki Clinic to be sure his classmate hadn't followed him. He didn't look up once and continued down the street. Satisfied, the orange haired boy went inside.
The following two or three days were more of the same issues as the first; as real class work was issued, Ryo would prattle to Ichigo in hushed tones, often being called out by the teachers.
All of the teachers would hush and scold him for interrupting class except for their Spanish teacher Aizen, whom would reprimand ICHIGO as well, for "encouraging him." Yet no matter how he ignored his classmate the chatter never stopped, so after a few more days of putting up with it, he decided to try and actually talk with the loud mouth.
He cut off Ryo's rant on his cousins (God help him if he could recognize any of these sounds as names), "I hope you do realize, I have never understood a word you said."
Ichigo expected another offended face from the other, instead he just nodded.
"Yeah, I know." He sort of laughed at the statement.
"Then you keep going because..." he asked.
"Thought if I kept goin' ya'd talk back," his face adorned with a bright smile.
The smaller of the two boys nodded a bit, it had worked.
"So, walk w' me?"
Ichigo gave in to the request, concluding that if he didn't Ryo would just keep asking until he did.
Turns out that the other boy did in fact know where he lived after catching a glimpse of his hair on the walk home at one point, he just didn't say anything.
Walking with Ryo was slightly less annoying than being in class with him had been. For one, when Ichigo responded he tended not to prattle and drone on as much, but he sure was loud. His annunciation was, of course, just as terrible, but now Ichigo had to pay attention to it and TRY to converse. However most of the time he just spent trying to dissect the warped speech pattern and figure out just what the problem was. For him it seemed the entire problem could be fixed if only Ryo would slow down; when he spoke quickly his words were flung together, and any letters his mouth had to contort to separate words were tossed out.
He talked a bit less in class, holding in the "important" topics for the afternoons when Ichigo would actually attempt to reply.
After two weeks it was easier to understand him, likely because Ichigo had grown used to it; the time they spent walking to and from school served as time to study his slurred talk. It was like a whole new language with its own structure and rules. It was worst in the mornings when he was barely awake, he would mumble ''G'orning" when Ichigo finally met him out on the sidewalk. Lord knew how long he waited in the mornings.
After a period of Ryo waiting patiently to meet him outside in the mornings, he decided on a different method though, yelling. Every morning he would yell out to his friend, loud enough for all the neighbors to hear. His choice of phrase differed from, "Ichi! Don' leave me here! What abou'r frien'ship! Don' leave me!" to ones even more embarrassing and bewildering. The punk rocker was especially pleased with himself after about a week of straight growls and dinosaur noises to tell his buddy he was ready to go. Ichigo was less than thrilled. He was sure the shouting in the morning would cease after a week or two, he made it obvious how annoyed he was. However a month and a half later Ryo was still out on the sidewalk, now focused on off-key rock ballads to call out to the ginger boy. Having his fill, Ichigo stomped out to the taller teen and tugged him by his arm to the closed door.
"THIS is a door." He stated, a nod his only acknowledgement from the other.
"You take your hand," he lifted the arm he still had in his fierce grip.
"Hold out a FIST," he used his free hand to clench Ryo's closed.
"And tap the door with it," he touched the knuckles to the wooden door.
"Three or four times. Do this, I will come outside right away. And if I don't," he peeled the index finger out of its position in his friend's palm.
"Press this little rectangle here, this little lit up button, press it, I will come out. Okay? Okay. That's done, let's go."
The lesson stuck for a few days before Ichigo was yet again hearing pubescent, garbled movie dialogue from his front yard.
Being friends with Ryo was odd, sometimes head-ache inducing, but it was fun for sure. He spent many afternoons at Ichigo's house, prolonging the endless mish-mash that Ichigo would often translate for his family. While some friends would regard the suffocating presence of Ichigo's father Isshin as a bother, Ryo seemed thrilled by the sudden physicality and hyperactivity of him. It was Karin and Yuzu, Ichigo's sisters, that he was a bit wary of; being an only child he was unsure how to interact. He voiced these questions to Ichigo more than once,
"How're ya s'posed t'talk to 'em? Like frien's? Babies? I hear siblings don' us'ly get' long."
The reply was always the same, "They wouldn't understand you anyways, relax."
It wasn't until the next year that Isshin could comprehend the downtown slur of his son's friend, and the twins could only about get the gist of it.
The first time Ichigo went to Ryo's house nothing surprised him. He lived with his mom in a nice house up the street with a porch swing. Inside the walls were decorated with framed movie and concert posters; the decor was a bit atypical for the area. Most of the time Ryo's mom was at work, and when she was home she was busying herself in the kitchen or watching a movie she knew so well that she recited the lines in time with it. She was very nice and Ryo obviously took after her in terms of personality, however he said it was his father that gave him his looks. Nothing was ever really said about his dad, Ryo didn't know him and from the stories apparently his mom didn't really either. It wasn't surprising that his mother also spoke in an unusual fashion, she had the accent, but she was at least understandable.
Hanging out at Ryo's was exponentially different than hanging out at Ichigo's. For one Ryo always had to have something on, whether it was the stereo or tv, there always had to be background noise, while at Ichigo's it was always quiet so they could focus on each other's company. Ryo also seemed to prefer a more hearty taste in his own home, the Kurosakis ate a more balance diet. There were numerous other differences that Ichigo had never realized the two had before he started spending time at Ryo's. He was even more surprised that Ryo never brought them up when he came over, he never once said "Well, at my house -" (In MAH house as he would say) or complained; he was very respectful.
After the second year of the two being friends, Ichigo made a very embarrassing, downright mortifying realization. For two whole years he had been calling his best friend "Ryo" by the wrong name.
Ichigo had been staying the night at Ryo's, and after the blue haired boy got up to use the bathroom and didn't come back for a while Ichigo got up to see if he was in the kitchen getting yet another late snack. Instead he ran into his mom, whipping up her own time-inappropriate treat.
"Hey kiddo, ya hungry too?" she flipped a pancake in the skillet.
"No, just wondering where Ryo walked off to."
Miss Jeagerjaques paused a second and checked the bottom of the pancake before flipping it onto the stack of finished ones.
"My son ya mean?" she seemed confused.
"Yeah? He went to the bathroom and hasn't come back," Ichigo was now unsure about her tone.
"So he IS the one yer talking to. I thought Ryo was a different friend 'a yours?"
Ichigo just shook his head.
"Why've ya been callin' him that? His name's Grimmjow."
Suffice to say Ichigo was livid that for two years his best friend never corrected him, Saying he just "didn't care" that Ichigo didn't know his name.
Through the rest of middle school and high school the two were just as inseparable, "Ryo" now being a long-standing joke between the two. Grimmjow was less of a mush-mouthed conversationalist after a while, but just as brash, claiming he didn't want another "misunderstanding." So of course he didn't beat around the bush saying "I think you're cute and I really like you. Like in a gay way, really." And there was no fretting and inner-debate for Ichigo, just acceptance and dread of telling his father "I'm gay, Grimmjow is my boyfriend."
When they went to tell him, Isshin respond by trying to incapacitate Grimmjow. In other words he embraced him like his own son, with his odd rough-housing form of affection.
It wasn't a fairy tale, and only one of them found it very funny, but it certainly wasn't boring. It was a story that always began the same way: Grimmjow would chuckle to himself right before Ichigo sighs and begins, "Well, we were stupid."