Title: A Love Story in Three Acts
Rating: PG 13
Summary: Grimmjow and Nel stop by the human world for a visit to Ichigo's place and find a surprise.
Pairing: IchiHime, GrimmNel
Spoilers: For the ending of the series!
"Oh, it's you."
Ichigo stood in the doorway of his small home, staring balefully at his visitors. While he was always happy to entertain the green-haired Arrancar woman, the blue-haired man accompanying her was a different story.
"Today's the day, Kurosaki!" Grimmjow barked, his mouth split into a toothy grin. "The day I finally kick your a—"
Whereas just a second before, Grimmjow had been proud and cocky, one foot kicked up on the door frame, now he was shoved unceremoniously out of the way. Neliel launched herself at the redhead, throwing strong arms around his neck and causing him to stumble. Of course, she didn't notice; Neliel continued hugging him, balance be damned.
"Augh-! Hi, Nel." He regained his balance and shot Grimmjow a questioning look. "What brings you guys around?"
"What do you think?" Grimmjow sneered, cracking his knuckles menacingly. "Today we're gonna settle things once and for all—"
"I just felt like a visit!" Ichigo looked back and forth between the two former Espada, but Grimmjow's attention was on the affectionate goat-girl.
"Would you stop interrupting me, you loopy woman?!" Neliel finally acknowledged him, eyes sliding back towards him over her shoulder. "Get the hell outta here! This is between me and Kurosaki!"
"After all this time, Grimmjow, have I ever listened to any of your orders? Why would I start now? Besides… I saw him first."
"You did not!"
"Do you two want to come in or what? People are gonna start to stare."
Both Arrancar froze mid-argument and turned to the object of their conflict. Ichigo simply looked tired of their fussing. He held the door open for them, and both of them moved towards it.
"Oh, yes! Is this where you sleep now?"
"I'll deal with you later." Ichigo wasn't sure which one of them he was talking to. It didn't matter either way; his eyes rolled just the same as he shut the door behind them.
"Haaaaah-! So this is what a human house looks like! There's a lot less sand than I thought there'd be!"
"Why the hell would they have sand in their house?"
"You two, take your nasty shoes off. And keep it down."
The two Arrancar kicked their shoes off, with a sneer in Grimmjow's case.
"Oh, who was it at the door? Is that…."
The three of them looked up at the sound to see Orihime coming from the living room. She wore a long, flower print skirt, a slouch shirt, and was carrying a large bundle close to her chest. Neliel ran straight over to Orihime and threw her arms around the smaller girl's neck.
"Orihime, hi!" Neliel said happily, squeezing Orihime's head against the cut-off tank top she'd worn to the human world. After a moment of struggle, Orihime popped free, gasping for air. She twisted the little bundle away as she did so.
"It's great to see you, Nel-san!"
"Well, well, look what we got here! You didn't tell us you had friends over, Kurosaki!" Grimmjow was practically leering; if Ichigo thought it was any kind of lewd or violent interest in Orihime, he didn't let on, but the implied threat was clear. Sadly, it didn't seem as if Ichigo was going to be goaded into a fight that way.
"She's not my friend, you idiot!" Ichigo snapped, exasperated. "She lives here, too. She's my wife." Neliel seemed thrilled at this revelation – "Oh, you're starting a harem? I want to come, too!" – but Grimmjow could show nothing but contempt.
"What do you mean wife?" he asked, almost offended. "Don't tell me you… you've gotten soft!" For all of his obvious outrage, Grimmjow sounded genuinely hurt. His one true rival, the one he'd built up such a grand competition with over the years, had abandoned him to the luxury of domesticity. How lazy and flabby Kurosaki Ichigo must be now, with his stupid haircut and his buxom wife and their cute, tidy little house! What kind of real man wouldn't see this as the awful prison it was?! As Grimmjow stewed in his feelings of betrayal, Orihime looked puzzled and Ichigo looked irritated, but it was Neliel that actually spoke.
"Grimmjow, behave." And then it was as if he didn't exist again! "Don't pay him any mind. He's constipated." Regardless of any feelings Grimmjow might have held towards Ichigo, rivalry or otherwise, Neliel got under his skin like no other. She was childish, but still held herself as so superior to those around her. He knew better, but it still provoked him.
"Who the hell is constipated?! What is that supposed to mean?!"
Suddenly, a small, shrill cry sounded, causing all to turn towards the source of the noise. It was the bundle Orihime held in her arms. It wriggled and a small, pudgy arm stuck out and waved. Whatever it was, it sounded distressed.
"Oh no, he woke back up!" Ichigo and Orihime exchanged a meaningful look before Ichigo rubbed the back of his head.
"Sorry, Orihime," he said meekly, "I'd take him, but…" The implication seemed to be that he couldn't leave the two visitors by themselves. Orihime smiled meekly in response.
"It's alright. I'll just feed him until he goes back to sleep."
Neliel, meanwhile, was close enough to see inside the bundle to the tiny human inside. Her face was full of wonder.
"It's a human kid!" Grimmjow snorted. Of course Neliel would think it was a little goat. Of course.
"That's not a kid, stupid," he said, folding his arms. "It's obviously a human cub." Neliel stuck her tongue out at him and went back to trying to sneak a peak at the tired little human.
"He's not a kid or a cub, dammit," Ichigo sighed, "He's our baby. His name's Kazui, and it's time for his nap." If this was a hint towards the two of them, they didn't take it. Instead, Neliel looked absolutely thrilled while Grimmjow looked as though he had indigestion.
"He's adorable!" Neliel gushed, causing Orihime to smile at her. "He looks just like you, Ichigo! Uwaaah, I want one just like him!"
"Absolutely not!" Grimmjow roared reflexively, "Like hell we're getting one of those things!"
"Who asked you?" Neliel snorted, half-smiling, "I said I wanted one just like this one!" This not only had the effect of causing Orihime to squeak in protest, but also of causing Grimmjow to turn red up to the roots of his hair. Just as he was about to erupt like a volcano, Ichigo stepped between the two Arrancar.
"First of all, I'm married," he barked, holding up his hand and the wedding band on the third finger to demonstrate. "So I won't be making babies with anyone but her." To emphasize again, he pointed to Orihime, who seemed pleased with his declaration. "Second of all, take your lovers' squabble someplace else – the baby is trying to sleep, dammit!"
It would've been funny to hear them say it in unison, if Ichigo hadn't been so annoyed by them both.
"Like hell I'd ever love this snotty, bratty, soft-ass, weak—"
Neliel silenced him with a look. But Grimmjow's anger had to go somewhere. Instead of exploding right in the middle of the living room, he turned and stomped out the door, banging it on the way out. The two humans in the room flinched and looked taken aback, but Neliel was unfazed.
"Just ignore him," she said, looking at the door, "He can be so immature sometimes."
"But… didn't you hurt his feelings just now?"
Neliel looked at where Orihime was feeding the baby. Such a thought had never occurred to her. Most of the time, Grimmjow barely acted as though he had feelings at all, as far as she could tell. But of course he did, so it wasn't inconceivable for them to be hurt or for him to lash out because of it. But why would he?
"What do you mean?" It wasn't defensive; Neliel genuinely didn't see what Orihime was talking about.
"You hurt his pride," Orihime said slowly, seeming a bit unwilling to interfere in their relationship.
"He probably hated being compared to me," Icihgo scoffed. "Especially when you rejected him like that." Neliel's eyes widened; she had said it reflexively, not even thinking. It had barely occurred to her exactly what he'd meant earlier about them not getting a baby. Grimmjow's assumption had been that they were already something of a pair.
In a certain respect, it wasn't exactly false. They had fallen into a comfortable alliance over the years, traveling together and eventually becoming something like partners. If he took a mercenary job from that Urahara fellow, Neliel went along and gave her opinion – and if she approved of it, her help. Her brothers stayed with them, and the four of them (and Bawabawa) were almost like a pack. She had never really questioned exactly why Grimmjow tolerated them; perhaps even he didn't know. The fact remained that they had fallen into a role that was almost like family.
"I guess I should go get him," Neliel finally said, her tone guilty. Orihime smiled at her and Ichigo tsked.
"Tell him if he's gonna be noisy, to just stay outside," he grumbled, but Neliel ignored it. Instead, she gave him a bone-crunching hug before going for her shoes.
Neliel found Grimmjow sulking on a nearby roof, staring at nothing in particular as the sun approached the horizon. He sat with one leg thrown over the side of the roof and one knee drawn up, his elbow resting on the same. His face was pulled into a tight frown, serious with concentration. Although Neliel knew he was aware of her, he didn't bother to acknowledge her until she was a few steps away.
"What do you want?" he spat. "Shouldn't you be back with Kurosaki? You like that sort of sap, right?" Neliel ignored the provocation and took a seat beside him, crossing her legs. Then, she handed over his boots; they were specially made and she knew he didn't want to lose them.
"You left these in the house," she chided. "You ran out without them." He shoved his feet into the boots, still snarling quietly.
"What are you so angry at, Grimmjow?" She figured it'd be better to let him explain himself, but that she might as well ask. His electric blue eyes cut towards her sharply as he turned his head. Neliel merely drew her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around her legs in response.
"What the hell do you think, idiot?" he nearly hissed, "You saw it! You saw how he was!" Neliel's eyebrows drifted up towards her hairline. He was angry over Ichigo? Then had she not hurt his feelings after all?
"Who, Ichigo?" she said, barely thinking, "He seemed happy." She couldn't say it didn't cause a pang in her heart. Of course, when Neliel loved, it wasn't as if it was jealous or possessive love. It would have been wonderful if she could've continued to love Ichigo as she had, during their brief meetings. But after this, she couldn't deceive herself; he had grown up and grown away from her. That didn't mean they couldn't stay friends and be important to each other. They just wouldn't be important like that.
But it was surprising to her that that was what set Grimmjow off.
"I can't believe it!" he erupted, "He's so soft and pathetic – like a normal human! Does he even fight anymore?! What about me?! How can he just turn his back on our rivalry?!"
Neliel was struck. Of course it was a stupid problem, and Grimmjow was probably aware of how stupid it was. But it was real to him. He was hurt because he'd lost his rival to domesticity. Even if he'd only built their rivalry up in his head, it wasn't different at all from what Neliel had felt; it was just like losing a crush.
"And you!" He rounded on her with a snarl, causing her to straighten in surprise. "What the hell do you mean, 'Who asked you?'!" Neliel's eyes were wide open. So she had hurt his pride after all. "If that's the way it is, why don't you just stay with Kurosaki instead?! Except, oh right - he's already got a woman!"
She didn't show it, but it was like a slap. Was this what it felt like when she'd rejected Grimmjow out of hand?
"That's low, Grimmjow," she murmured. He turned fully to face her with a snarl.
"But it's alright when you do it to me?"
Neliel couldn't meet his eyes. She would never allow him to take his anger out on her, but at the same time, she did feel guilty.
The two Arrancar turned to see Ichigo standing behind them on the roof, Zangetsu slung over his shoulders, hands resting along its edge. He was outside of his human body, and he looked moderately annoyed.
"The hell do you want, Kurosaki?"
"I came to check and see how you two were doing," he replied, feigning disinterest. "You think I'm soft, huh? So you wanna fight me, but you're gonna take it out on Nel?" A smile split Grimmjow's face, from ear to mask.
"Yeah, I wanna go," he returned. He was on his feet in a flash, fingers hooked just like his Resureccion's claws. "But this is completely different from that." It was clear that he was referring to his argument with Neliel being distinct from his wanting to fight Ichigo. Ichigo's eyebrows quirked, but he didn't remark on it.
"Let's go, then."
They were gone in a flash, leaving Neliel to rise and watch them flicker above the powerlines and rooftops. After a few moments of watching the distortions of their strikes, Neliel heard a scuffling behind her. Turning to look, she saw Orihime pulling herself over the eaves.
"Orihime?" Neliel asked, "Where's the kid?"
"Oh, he's sleeping now," Orihime chirped, then fully pulling herself over with a grunt. "Hopefully they don't get too crazy and wake him up." Neliel also hoped they didn't get out of hand, but for a different reason; if they used too much reiatsu, they might attract Soul Society's attention, and no one wanted that.
"Are you here to heal Ichigo when they're done?" It was almost a foregone conclusion, but idle conversation never hurt anyone.
"Oh, yes!" She seemed quite proud of it. "You're going to heal Grimmjow, too, right?" Neliel's eyebrows rose. It hadn't even occurred to her yet.
"I guess so," she replied. He would probably complain about the fountain of spit that was coming his way, though.
"Eh heh, you never know, Nel-san!" Orihime seemed to be having way too much fun with the idea. "He might like it. I have an idea you could use…"
When Grimmjow opened his eyes next, he was staring at a clear blue sky. It wasn't the blue of the canopy of Las Noches; it was a clear, light blue tinted with a lazy sunset. As his mind cleared, he remembered how he'd wound up on his back, staring at the sky. He and Ichigo had fought each other to a standstill, he'd taken an errant blow to the head, and his jawbone had been cracked. They fought until they were exhausted, but the crack had finally knocked him out. Even now, his head was spinning.
"Oh, he's awake!"
It was Neliel, but he couldn't tell where she was – merely that she was vaguely "above" him somewhere. He turned his head to the side to see Orihime healing Ichigo with her glowing shield. She was smiling in his direction, but not exactly making eye contact.
"Do you have him?"
"Uhn!" A pair of firm but slender fingers moved his jaw back skyward. "You'll probably have to fix this crack, but I can take care of him in the meantime." Grimmjow found himself staring into Neliel's olive green eyes, her hair falling over her shoulders in a cascade. He realized that she was straddling his midsection, thighs on either side of his hips. Before he could think too hard about the position they were in, though, he realized exactly what she meant by "taking care" of him.
But it was too late.
Instead of the waterfall of spit he expected to find himself under, Grimmjow was surprised to feel Neliel's lips meet his. What the hell was she doing? Was this that "kissing" thing that humans did sometimes? Well, it wasn't so bad; in fact, it was kind of nice, although he would never admit it. Instead, he grunted and placed a hand on her waist. As disgusting as it was, her spit did seem to be healing him. Finally, she pulled away with a smile and sat back on his stomach. Although he tried to look threatening, it was nigh-impossible with Neliel straddling his stomach.
After a second, he remembered they weren't alone.
"What?" he growled, eyes snapping towards the Kurosakis. Orihime was finishing up healing Ichigo, her dome flickering away as their eyes met his. The two redheads exchanged a glance and a smile before Orihime began shooing Ichigo off the rooftop. Ichigo gave Grimmjow a smirk and Grimmjow had to resist the urge to get back up and wipe it off his face. God, that woman had him whipped. Even though he was in no shape to do so, he would have gotten up had Neliel not been holding him down with her thighs. He was just about to push her off when she laid her palms on his ribcage to lean on him.
"Sit still for a moment," Neliel said quietly. "I wanted to apologize." Grimmjow stalled in tossing her off; instead, he waited to hear what she'd say. It was unexpected, to say the least.
"I didn't mean to be callous," she continued. "I didn't think you'd care." Her eyes were lidded, half-closed, and diverted from him. Normally, Grimmjow would dismiss this sort of talk as frivolous and insipid. But today, he was irritated and tired enough that he'd entertain it.
"Stupid," he hissed, placing his hands on her knees. "You – and your brothers – are idiots. You're hyperactive, sanctimonious, and just fucking annoying." Neliel's eyes were wide as he calmly laid into her.
"But…" It was Grimmjow's turn to look off to the side now. "You're my gang now."
This was as close as he'd ever get to admitting that he missed his Fracciones or that he secretly thought of Neliel and hers as something of a replacement. Sure, they weren't as reverent or even as tough as Shawlong and the others. He hadn't lied; they were loud and annoying, overly boisterous and morally superior. But somewhere along the way, they'd turned into family too.
"And you're violent, short-tempered, and immature," Neliel replied, the ghost of a smile on her lips. "But I suppose I like you anyway." That gave Grimmjow pause. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been told someone "liked" him. Most people barely tolerated him, as far as he knew. It didn't matter one way or the other to him in the long run; they would all ultimately be beneath him. So would Neliel, if she ever let him fight her. Then why did her saying that make him feel just a little bit glad?
"Dumbass," he muttered, "I didn't ask you to 'like' me." Neliel smiled and moved closer again. Grimmjow didn't resist.
"Even if you had, I'd just do as I pleased anyway." He could push her away then, get her out of his face. But he didn't feel like it. In fact, he found himself anticipating what would happen next.
"Ugh," he groaned, "This is why I can't stand you."
His actions didn't match his words, though. Instead of resisting or fighting back, he let her kiss him again. This time, he leaned into it. It was clear that this kiss wasn't just to heal him.
Although that was exactly the effect it had anyway.