written by A. E. Stover
this version is not edited

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BLEACH [AU] [Grimmjow; Ulquiorra; Seika; Kazuo] [Drama; Friendship; Romance; Tragedy] [Novel]
Companion fic to Living with the “Grimm” Reaper, currently unpublished, A Collection of Memories is the brief story of Hosokawa Seika from her temporary stay with Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, Ulquiorra Cifer, and Hashimoto Kazuo to her unfortunate death.

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I can count the number of friends I have on one finger.

I had a lot more back when I was still taking kendo classes, but we’ve all drifted apart since I stopped. I still talk to Sakae once in a while, but sporadic five-minute chats online hardly cover the expanse of five whole years in which we’ve lost contact.

“Excuse me, miss?”

“Huh?” I snap out of my thoughts and realize that I’m next in line. “Oh, sorry.” I step up and order a cup of coffee.

“Will that be all?” The cashier is smiling as she asks. She sees me nod and rings up the total.

I pay exact change and leave the line. As I turn to find a seat, I see the rain pouring heavily outside from the large windows at the front of the cafe. It’s the same rain that chased me here in the first place, having forgotten my umbrella when I left for school this morning. I stand in front of the glass door and watch the rain beat against the pavement outside, and watch a strong gale push all that rain to the glass door for the briefest of moments. I can’t help but step back, and feel as if I’ve been drenched by a wave as I had been on my way here. The stark contrast between the scalding cup of coffee I’m holding in one hand and the cold, wet blazer I’ve draped over my arm is an odd sensation, one that reminds me that’s it’s still April.

Someone behind me coughs.

“Oh, sorry.” I’m spacing out a lot today, I realize. From behind me, a man quickly rushes out of the cafe, umbrella poised and ready. When the door opens, the rain beats inside and sprays water onto my bare legs and black shoes. I take myself to an empty seat nearby, and drape my drenched blazer on the back of the chair.

“You go to Fujiwara?” a voice beside me suddenly asks as I seat myself on the stool.

“Yes,” I reply without hesitation. I slowly peel the lid off my cup of coffee and place it on the counter. I let the steam escape and watch it furl and unfurl into the air above. I take a careful sip. It’s burnt.

“My girlfriend goes there,” he continues cheerfully. I can hear the smile in his voice. “She’ll be graduating in the spring this year. Do you know her, by any chance? Her name’s Fukuda Kagami.”

“No.”

“Hm. Well, I guess that’s not too surprising. She’s not a very social person.”

I give the stranger next to me a quick glance. He looks like he could be my age but I somehow got the feeling that he was older than I was. He’s loitering with an empty coffee cup that isn’t from this cafe, and the newspaper is yesterday’s.

He suddenly turns to face me, the smile on his face bright. “Do you live far from here?”

I draw my brows together and stare at him mutely.

He blinks and then gives an embarrassed laugh. “I’m sorry, that’s a weird question for me to be asking, right?” He turns away and looks out the window in front of him. “Fujiwara is in Ibaraki, isn’t it? That’s pretty far from here. Almost a two hour train ride, right?”

A hand suddenly shoots down from behind me and slams noisily on the counter, making the man sitting next to me flinch. “Hey, Seika,” an all-too-familiar voice booms from behind me, “You know this guy?”

I don’t have to turn to know that he’s glaring him down. The man next to me, despite the way he had flinched before, was now giving him a curious look. I bring a hand to my face. If the idiot kept staring at Grimm like that, he was gonna lose his face.

Grimm moves closer to the fool staring at him. “Get lost,” he barks.

The man calmly smiles and leaves, taking with him his old newspaper and empty cup. He brandishes an umbrella and opens it, walking out of the cafe as quickly as he can.

Muttering, Grimm takes the newly vacated seat. I do my best to keep a spiteful look on my face as I glare at his scowling one. He finally takes notice of me and turns. “What, why are you looking at me like that?”

I keep on glaring, breaking it only to get off my seat and put my blazer on. Grimm suddenly shoves a black umbrella in my face.

“And here, I got you your umbrella. Stop looking at me like that. You look fucking retarded.”

I grab the umbrella from his hands and continue to give him my best glare. “You’re the reason why I can’t make any friends,” I hiss. I take my coffee and storm out of the cafe, ignoring his shout of, “Hey, wait!” and take off with him chasing after me in the rain.

He catches up to me fairly quickly and steals the umbrella out of my hands, cursing at me while he holds it for us. I have to walk right next to him to stay dry and keep up with his fast pace, but that makes me trip all over the place. He calls me an embarrassing klutz, so I shove him and make a grab for the umbrella. He yells at me to stop being such a kid and I tell him he can kiss my ass for all I care, but would it kill him to walk a little slower and to hold the umbrella better?

When we get home, we’re both drenched and annoyed with each other. Kazuo takes one look at us as we both walk into the kitchen with scowls on our faces and laughs at us.

And soon, I’m laughing too.

Grimm tells us to shut the fuck up and stop laughing, because nothing’s funny and he’s had enough of putting up with us and leaves to take a shower.

Kazuo and I just keep laughing. I can hear Ulquiorra telling us calmly to quiet down, that he can’t hear the news, and we try our best to stop laughing.

I’m still laughing when I take a seat in the kitchen and Kazuo pours me a cup of tea. I can hear the news in the room Ulquiorra is in, and I can hear the shower running in the bathroom where Grimm is. Kazuo is humming while he puts the dried dishes away, and I stare at the cup of hot tea.

I can count the number of friends I have on one finger — distal phalanx, middle phalanx, and proximal phalanx; Kazuo, Ulquiorra, and Grimm. And, I think to myself as I’m sipping tea in the kitchen, that that’s okay.

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