She noticed that he's been watching her lately.
If Orihime's honest with herself, she realizes that underneath the ever-present, all-consuming terror that has her in its grip, there's some sort of fascination.
She's only been here a few days, and it's really not hard to remember the first time he looked at her. And she doesn't think of it in terms of the first time he looked at her, but more along the lines of the first time he looked at her.
Aizen told her to fix his arm, and she did. It wasn't like she could do anything but what he told her. Oh, but how her whole being was repulsed at the idea. Shivers went down her spine as she healed someone who was obviously an enemy of Ichigo.
She had tried not to look him in the eyes as she did so, but there was a brief instant when her gaze met his. She couldn't even begin to fathom the look on his face, and the expression in his too-distinct blue eyes stumped her. And she was normally so good at reading people…
A chill traveled through her, and he blinked when it happened. She knew then that he had seen it, and she cursed herself for showing any signs of weakness. She did so well hiding it, seeming stoic. Not that it made too much of a difference; she felt all the time that they simply sensed her fear, and she knew, deep down, that they liked it.
She didn't look him in the face as she restored his arm, but she felt, in that small amount of time, his eyes on her face. She focused on the warm golden glow from her Souten Kisshun instead, trying to shake off the feeling of his gaze, ignoring the shouts from the noisy one. She remembers that his name was Luppi.
She remembers the look on Luppi's face as he was killed. She remembers the itch in her hands, the tingle in her heart that said to her go help him, telling her to move, move, move! But she had to ignore it. She couldn't help everyone, and she especially couldn't help those who would gladly destroy her.
However, what really stopped her was not the knowledge that this Arrancar, Luppi, would have killed her with relish. What stopped her was her paralyzed fixation on the one who was shouting his name and laughing like a madman, the one who had the number six inked onto his lower back.
He calls himself Grimmjow. Grimmjow Jaggerjack (though she heard the last part elsewhere). This she knows like nothing else she's known before. Orihime finds she can't resist the urge to taste the name, to say it aloud, to roll it around on her tongue and sift it through the crevices in her mouth, straining it through the spaces in her teeth.
The name (Grimmjow Jaggerjack, Grimmjow Jaggerjack, Grimmjow Jaggerjack) is slick and smooth and dark in her mouth. She's never been so fascinated with any one phrase in her life, but it just seems to circle around her brain like a dog chasing its tail. She whispers it quietly to herself when she's wandering aimlessly through the halls, when she's by herself. She likes the repetition of it.
And now he's watching her, tracking her with his impossibly azure eyes. She can't shake off his gaze, even when he's not watching her because even when he's not watching her, he really is. Out of the corners of his eyes, beneath the shadow of his brows. He's watching her without watching her.
She can't say his name as he watches, but it's still there in her mind, rolling and ricocheting off the insides of her skull.
Somehow, Orihime feels like he can hear his name in her thoughts. She feels that he can sense it, that he's in tune to it and that he's watching her for having the audacity to think his name.
And she's afraid. More afraid than she's ever been in her whole life.
She finds it funny, sometimes, when she's staring out at the moon in the sky that never sets (she wonders if she'll ever see the sun again, repeating that one name over and over) that she's more afraid of Grimmjow than she is of Aizen. When she examines these feelings, there is a line between what she feels for Aizen and what she feels for Grimmjow. It's a thick, dark, angry line. She hates Aizen with every little cell in her being. Hates him for hurting Kurosaki-kun, hates him for taking her away from the people she loves, hates him for all his horrible plans.
With Grimmjow, there isn't any hate—rather, fear. Mind-numbing terror.
She notices that when he watches her, sometimes the fingers of his left arm twitch convulsively. A short jerk, and then it doesn't happen again, but it's noticeable, mostly because she pays attention to things like that. On a few occasions, she sees him scratching at it.
One day, she decides she can't take it anymore. She needs to know. It's been bothering her.
She passes him in the hallway. Her hair flutters in the breeze he creates with his brisk walk, and she stop, turns around, saying in a tremulous voice (for Grimmjow is the only one that makes her visibly afraid):
"Is it working properly?"
He stops, his back still to her. She studies the edge of the number six peeking out from underneath his jacket. The skin on his back is smooth, seamlessly melting into the gaping hole in his abdomen.
"What the hell're you talking about?" he replies, facing away from her.
"Your arm…you've been scratching it." Even then, he is worrying at it, running his nails along his wrist, flexing his digits. When she says it, he freezes, stiffening visibly.
Orihime swallows audibly. "S-…sorry. I…I mean…just…sorry." She whirls on her heel, scurrying away as fast as she can, making her way through the twisting halls to the relative sanctity of her room.
After that, it seems like he never takes his eyes off of her. She grows used to the feeling. A few days later, she starts to watch him in return. When he's not there for her to stare at, she cradles his name in her mouth, fascinated by the taste of it.
When her eyes tentatively meet his, he doesn't look away. He holds them there, intense. She is fascinated by the color of them, several shades of blue melting together to form two pinpoints of strong azure.
She is just as afraid as before, but she is used to that now—the constant, pressing need to run, run, run until she can't get any farther away from these people, these Arrancar, is starting to become so routine that she doesn't even acknowledge it anymore.
He still scratches at his arm.
Not too much time afterwards, Orihime finds herself alone again. There are many, many Arrancar, it seems, but they are always off in other places, and on most occasions, she can find a quiet place to sit and stare at the wall.
She is in another twisting hallway that looks exactly the same as all the other twisting hallways when her knees decide to defy her and she slumps against the wall. It's been barely over a week since she arrived in Las Noches, but the feeling of this place takes its toll on her spirit. Somewhere, not too far away, giving her hope, she senses the familiar spirit energy of her friends. She closes her eyes, pulling her knees up and resting her forehead against them.
She doesn't even hear him as he approaches. He's light on his feet and knows how to handle his spirit energy to boot. She's not paying attention, too focused on Ichigo's distant spirit pressure, trying to feel better about her situation.
All those things combined prevent her from noticing Grimmjow. Out of a habit that she's developed in the short space of a week, she whispers quietly to herself, savoring the way it tastes and feels, "Grimmjow Jaggerjack, Grimmjow Jaggerjack, Grimmjow Jaggerjack…"
All these things combined makes Orihime fail to notice his presence until he roughly hauls her to her feet.
"What the hell are you doing?" he snarls at her. His strangely sharp canine teeth gleam in the light, distracting her. Frightened by his suddenness and his brash approach, she can only summon enough strength to shake her head in the face of his anger.
"Answer me, woman!" he barks, causing her to flinch and gasp. Her breathing is coming in short little puffs now, but she cannot take her eyes off of his. He releases her, letting her crumple to the floor.
"Useless," he growls, glaring past her and scratching furiously at his arm.
She speaks up, staring at his hand as it traces up and down his arm, leaving small red welts where his nails travel. "Does it itch?"
"What a stupid question. No, it doesn't itch."
She frowned. "Then why are you scratching at it?"
He gives her a look like she's dumber than rocks. "Because I had an arm, then I didn't have an arm, and now I do, and it's fuckin' weird. All right?"
"You still haven't answered my damn question."
"I don't—" she starts.
"My name. Why do you keep sayin' my goddamn name? You do it all the time."
He has noticed.
Something in her sparks. "Why do you watch me?" she asks quietly.
In a motion so fast she doesn't even see it, he grabs her by the shoulders, picking her so far up off the ground that her feet dangle. She doesn't struggle, but stares him straight in the face, breathing hard.
His face is very close to hers, too close for comfort. His eyes are burning into hers, almost hurting her with their intensity.
"What did you say?" he rumbles, low in his throat.
Orihime decides not to repeat herself. Instead, she whispers, barely audible, "Grimmjow Jaggerjack."
It takes her a moment to register the fact that the taste in her mouth is not his name, but is actually him. He claims her mouth in a bruising, searing kiss that leaves her no room to protest, almost no room to react. Against every sensible part of her screaming at her in protest, she reciprocates. She pushes back, tangling his tongue with her own, though she is no match for the amount of force and presence that he exudes. The bone fragment on his face presses uncomfortably against her jaw, but she ignores it. He electrifies her, filling her with an energy she hasn't felt since she first stepped foot in Las Noches.
He pulls away suddenly, still holding her partially off the ground. Orihime sucks on the inside of her bottom lip, where one of his sharp teeth pressed too hard and drew blood. The coppery taste mixes with Grimmjow's flavor in her mouth.
He hasn't looked away from her once, and as he lets go of her, she is ready for it, landing on her feet, if a bit unsteadily. He looks down at her, frowning. She looks back, still sucking on her lower lip.
One corner of his mouth quirks, though his eyes are still stormy. Despite it creating a frightening visage, Orihime is not scared anymore. Just fascinated.
"Aizen says you're some kinda god. You don't look like a god. Don't act like one." He licks his lips, as if to imply she doesn't taste like one either, then turns around and starts to walk away.
He throws one last remark over his shoulder as he departs. "Stop sayin' my damn name all the time, woman."
Orihime, despite herself, smiles. Softly, she says, "Grimmjow Jaggerjack…"
He looks over his shoulder with a wide grin, canines flashing, and runs his tongue along his teeth, a silent promise of a repeat performance.