the last chapter and the longest XP (more AN below)
disclaimer: Bleach ain't mine
Ichigo closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He could do this, he could. He still trusted Grimmjow, he knew that Grimmjow wouldn't hurt him and this left only one possibility. The Grimmjow in front of his was an illusion created by Kyouka Suigetsu.
Which means, Ichigo thought as he opened his eyes, I have to destroy him and move on. If Aizen is using an illusion of Grimmjow against me, then the actual Grimm might be in trouble. I need to get to him.
Firing a few rounds of Getsuga at the imposter, Ichigo shunpo-ed behind Grimmjow, attempting to catch him unaware. Only to find that Grimmjow had disappeared from his sight. Shit.
Grimmjow appeared, Pantera positioned just at the base of Ichigo's neck. Dodging to his left, Ichigo managed to get away with just a shallow cut. Both of them disappeared from sight again.
This pattern repeated itself for several more times and Ichigo found that, to his frustration, that they were both more than evenly matched.
And he found it strange. This Grimmjow had no weakness, whatsoever.
Then again, if it was an illusion...then there shouldn't be any weakness. But there was a nagging feeling in the back of Ichigo's mind that something was off.
For one, was illusions meant to be so solid? And if it was an illusion, shouldn't it be projected to be stronger than Ichigo himself? Not to mention there's something off with this Grimmjow's expression...something is missing...but what?
In the throne room, Aizen sat watching the fight leisurely. His hand occasionally flicked out as the fight progressed.
"You're really enjoying torturing Grimmjow-kun, aren't you?" Ichimaru asked cheekily from his side.
Aizen only smiled in response as his fingers twitched.
"Where'd you found that particular bit of kidou anyway?"
"In the further end of the library in Seireitei. Quite near the articles concerning the Oukan in fact," Aizen's hand drew a small arc in the air, "A forbidden kidou that many were probably not even aware of. I wonder why," He smiled sadistically.
A kidou that can control other people's action like they were mere puppets. Do Aizen-sama need to be even more sarcastic?
"Do you think Grimmjow-kun is enjoying the show?" Aizen asked Ichimaru, "First-class seats and right at the front. He'll be able to see his dear Ichigo's expressions clearly, wouldn't he?"
"He'll probably would," But I'll doubt he'll enjoy them. And to think you even made Grimmjow fight on level ground with Ichigo-kun, just to drag out the pain that Grimmjow would suffer. You're a really...
Aizen flicked his wrist again, causing Grimmjow to fire a Bala at Ichigo again, "I think it is almost time to meet our guests. I wonder how Kurosaki Ichigo would take to the fact that he had been fighting and injuring his Grimmjow all the while..."
Ichigo huffed from his corner of the room. This Grimmjow was hard to beat. But he was glad that Renji and Rukia had not interfered. This was his problem, not theirs.
He looked wildly around the room, hoping to detect any of Aizen's reiatsu. He knew his reiatsu detection skill was shit but he knew that Aizen was definitely in the room since he was using Kyouka Suigetsu. As long as he concentrate, he would be able to sense Aizen...eventually. And if he got to Aizen first, then he wouldn't have to torture himself by fighting this replica of Grimmjow.
Ichigo's head snapped to the left and his hands reflexively brought up Zangetsu to reduce the damage that would otherwise be caused by the head-on Ceros that Grimmjow had fired while he was distracted.
"Ichigo, you idiot!" Rukia yelled from another end of the room, "Leave finding Aizen to us! Just concentrate on not getting slaughtered by Grimmjow, idiot!"
"Then what are you doing? Why haven't you found Aizen yet?" Ichigo roared over the sound of Zangetsu and Pantera clashing together.
"If it were so easy, then we wouldn't be trapped in his illusions in the first place!"
Goddamnit, Rukia, hurry up. I don't know how long more I could endure of fighting Grimmjow. To kill him or be killed by him. Even if this is a fake, I...
"Over there!" Rukia's voice attracted Ichigo's attention.
Ichigo looked up and there was Aizen, standing casually with his arms folded. Amazingly, Grimmjow's action had stopped but Ichigo didn't think too much into it.
"My my, what do we have here?" Aizen asked in fake concern, "A lovers' spat?"
"Fuck you Aizen!" Ichigo impulsively fired a Getsuga at him.
Unfazed, Aizen pulled out his zanpakutou and easily cancelling out the power of the Getsuga Tenshou thrown at him.
And that was when Ichigo realised something. Seeing Kyouka Suigetsu in Aizen's hand told him that Aizen had not even released his zanpakutou. Unless the Aizen in front of him was another illusion but that is impossible. What is the point?
If so, then...
Ichigo turned to face Grimmjow who was in a very relaxed posture, "You finally figured it out, Ichigo?" He smirked, "I'm the real thing,"
"Don't you believe him, Ichigo?" Aizen asked, "Well then, show him that then, Grimmjow-kun. The supposed promise that you made to him,"
With a short maddening laugh, Grimmjow stretched out his hand and there it was on his fingers, "I even took the liberty of putting it on my ring finger, aren't you happy?"
So then...the promise of 'forever' was all a LIE?
"There's something weird here," Rukia's lowered voice came from beside him.
"Agree," Ichigo could feel Renji nodding along in agreement, "Instead of just attacking Ichigo, they seemed to be...I dunno, playing with his mind?"
"Aren't you guys angry with me?" Ichigo asked abruptly.
Rukia and Renji seemed unconcerned about his relationship with Grimmjow and that made Ichigo uncomfortable. Don't they have some reprimand to dish out or something? Shouldn't they be angry and maybe just leave now? Why were they acting like they actually care?
"Why should we?" Renji asked back.
"I - " Ichigo didn't know how to phrase his argument.
"Look, whatever it is, we can clear this up after the whole stupid thing," Renji pointed out.
"And," Rukia interjected, "We're friends and allies, didn't we say this so many times already? We trust you, Ichigo,"
"...thank you," Ichigo said quietly, "I promise I'll explain everything to you guys after this is over,"
"You better," Rukia lightly punched Ichigo to make her point.
"Enough of this sap please," Grimmjow waved Pantera in large arc, "You guys are gonna make me puke,"
Ichigo turned towards him, "So it was all a lie then? Everything?" He raised Zangetsu.
"Hmmm," Grimmjow seemed to be considering, "Well, I wasn't lying when I said I liked fucking you," He burst out laughing.
"You - !"
"That's it!" Rukia suddenly exclaimed, cutting off Ichigo mid-sentence.
"What?" Renji sounded shocked at Rukia's sudden outburst.
"Grimmjow's expression never reached his eyes! It's like someone is controlling his motion but he himself doesn't agree with it!"
Ichigo stared straight into Grimmjow's eyes at that. Rukia was right. The maniacal laughter didn't reach his eyes. But there was no hesitation in his actions. Unless...like Rukia said, someone else is controlling him, which means...
"Aizen!" Ichigo growled.
Ichigo flashed towards Aizen, rage clouding his judgment. How dare he! How dare he control Grimm! Kill him, I'll kill him, I'll KILL HIM!
"Oh dear, it seems you have realised my plan," Aizen said mockingly as he calmly stood to the side, dodging Zangetsu swing.
His hands moved in a sudden straight line and Grimmjow immediately appeared in front of Ichigo.
"Grimm..." Ichigo 's actions slowed for a moment, "...fight him, fight him Grimm! You don't want to do this!"
"You can't tell me what to do!" Grimmjow lunged at him, "You're only in my way!"
"And you're in mine! Get out of the way!" Ichigo roughly pushed him to one side, his other arm preparing to thrust Zangetsu into Aizen's heart.
It happened in a heartstopping second.
Aizen's arm moved, almost hypnotically. In a flash, Grimmjow stood in front of Aizen, taking the blow from Ichigo. The black blade cut through Grimmjow while Aizen stood a distance behind, unscathed.
"Shit!" Ichigo tried to stop his motion.
Grimmjow seemed to have another idea. His hand reached out and gripped Zangetsu, pushing the blade further into his body until he reached the hilt, causing both him and Ichigo to be nose-to-nose. Blood spilled from where they were in mid-air onto the ground, the splashing sound echoing in the silent room.
"No...!" There was a quiet gasp from Rukia.
"Hmmm," Aizen tapped his finger to his chin, as though considering something, "Here's a little reward then, Grimmjow-kun, for your wonderful performance," The markings on his wrist started to show and Grimmjow's blood that had been in his wrist a few moments ago dripped down onto the floor.
Grimmjow suddenly collapsed onto Ichigo.
"Wha - "
"Ichi..." Grimmjow's half-whispered voice came out.
"Grimm?" Ichigo said in disbelief. That really sounded like Grimm himself! Could it be...?
"Get out of here. You can't beat him, Ichi," Grimmjow's voice was strained as he tried to stand on his own.
"Stop moving you idiot! You're injured," Ichigo tried futilely to stopper the flow of blood leaking from the sides of his zanpakutou.
Grimmjow laughed, causing more blood to spill out from his wound, "Idiot, look at my feet,"
Ichigo looked down and his eyes widened in horror. Grimmjow's foot had completely disappeared. In fact, his lower calves were flickering away before his eyes.
"No, no way," Ichigo looked back up, "You've gotta be fucking kidding me! You're the Sexta Espada! You can't - can't just because I - it's not possible! It's only such a small fricking wound! You've suffered worse and survived! And you tell me now that - tha - "
Ichigo was cut off by Grimmjow's lips on his. Unlike the previous one, there was no taunt behind it. Instead it seemed to carry desperation and melancholy.
"Shh," Grimmjow calmed him down the same way he did when they were back at the river.
"No! I - " Ichigo buried his head as much as he could into Grimmjow's chest, taking care to avoid pushing Zangetsu any further in.
"I realised something stupid, you know," Grimmjow spoke casually enough, "Telling you to run away...that's not something you would do, right Ichi?"
Ichigo hesitated a little before giving a small nod into Grimmjow's torso.
"So then," Grimmjow bent lower to whisper into Ichigo's ears, "Fight on. Fight and win,"
Ichigo looked up in surprise.
"And for that, I'll pass to you Pantera," Grimmjow pushed the blade into Ichigo's hand.
"What - ! Grimm - "
Ichigo was silenced once more by Grimmjow's kiss.
Teal eyes stared straight back into him and Ichigo couldn't help but feel pain that this would be the last time he could see those eyes that he came to love so much.
This isn't real. Grimm can't just...just leave me behind. I...
"I love you Kurosaki Ichigo,"
"NO!" Ichigo shouted as Grimmjow disappeared right before him, "No..." Ichigo lost concentration on his reiatsu and started to plummet towards the floor.
The word on the ring that Grimmjow had given him just last night appeared in his mind. Forever. There is no forever. Not when he...
"Ichigo!" Renji flashed upwards to catch Ichigo before he could crash into the ground.
"Well, now that that's all over...Gin!" Aizen called out.
Rukia immediately appeared to block off Shinsou as Renji busied himself with Ichigo, "Get him out of the way,"
"I know, I know," Renji said impatiently, "Give me a few seconds," He mumbled as he tried to haul Ichigo over his shoulder.
No way, Grimm can't just...
"Kill them, Shinsou!"
"Dance, Sode no Shiroyuki!"
Damnit King, its raining a river 'ere.
"Oh, you managed to dodge that,"
C'mon, get your ass up and movin'.
"First Dance, White Moon!"
"Oh dear, that's cold,"
Your Hollow is right. You have to fight.
If not for yourself, then for him. Fight for Grimmjow.
"Sorry about that, but you'll have to go through me first,"
Who? Who're you?
"Next dance, White Ripples!"
You know who I am. Now you just have to pick me up and use me to win.
"Shatter, Kyouka Suigetsu,"
Just call out for me. Call...
"Grind," Ichigo's quiet voice went unheard.
First of all! A big thank for those who have read and a bigger thanks to those who reviewed, i really appreciate it :D
further AN(s), just to clear any doubts, esp the last part of this chap (:
(1) The person that Grimmjow mentioned in Chapter 1 was Urahara since Ichigo mentioned to Grimmjow about him distributing gigais
(2) The word carved onto the plain side of the ring is 'Forever'
(3) Hichigo had only two lines in this whole fic (oops)
(4) The voice telling Ichigo to fight for Grimmjow (as well as the one which said 'Kurosaki Ichigo') is Pantera
(5) Since Grimmjow passed Pantera to Ichigo, Ichigo could wield it as well (think Tousen Kaname)
(6) Pantera wield under Ichigo (in my mind) looks like a white Tenza Zangetsu. So Ichigo have Tenza Zangetsu in his right and Pantera in his left
(7) Yes, Ichigo killed Grimm indirectly but no, he hadn't felt the guilt yet. He's only at the shocked stage (about Grimm dying)
(8) Aizen requires Grimm's blood to make that kidou work (then again, not sure if that technique could be called kidou, but anyway...) and just before Grimm died, he released the kidou and Grimm's blood came out of his body
(9) Oh and yes, all this happened in the span of two days (except for chap 1 and part of 2). Grimm went out with Ichi on the date while Urahara, Ryuuken and Isshin met up. The next day, the whole gang met at Orihime's house (maybe morning) and at the same time, Aizen met with the Espadas. Later, while he was whipping Grimm, the Shinigamis just entered Hueco Mundo. So yup... it's pretty packed
(10) Right, the wounds on Grimm after Aizen whipped him disappeared due to the kidou thing
(11) The last fight is obviously up for your own imagination
(12) I'm assuming Kyouka Suigetsu looks different when released and not and hence Ichigo could identify it
(13) Pretend that none of the Arrancars mentioned in the story died or were somehow revived (hah)
(14) Oh right, pardon any OOC-ness (there's probably alot in the last part of this chap)
Sequel is up! by the name of Eternity (:
Summary: "He said forever, what a liar,"