Behind the Scenes
What goes on in the world of Bleach when off screen?Summary of chapter: the mighty espada find themselves at odds with simple concepts of the human world.
A/N: This was hard to do, to try to keep the characters in character despite the comical situation. I had to keep to their dignified personalities as well as make them clueless to the elements of the real world, which is something that would be unlikely to happen in the actual series.
All characters © Kubo Tite
Lunch: the Human Ritual
"So remind me again what we are doing in the real world?"
"I thought Aizen-sama had made it clear," Ulquiorra Schiffer replied calmly, staring at the tenth Espada with green, deadpan eyes.
"Yeah, but you know how hard it is for me to remember things." Yammy scratched his large head.
Szayel tossed a tress of pink hair away from his face and sighed. "I'll reiterate using terms your diminutive brain can construe, since Ulquiorra is so easily annoyed by redundancy." The octava espada paused to push his glasses farther up his nose, smirking at Yammy's scowl.
"Aizen-sama has been showing a concern for our prisoner's lack of consummation regarding our food supply. Although I myself find the concept a bit questionable, he believes that allowing Inoe Orihime to retrieve some food from the real world will encourage her to eat."
The tenth espada jabbed a finger in his ear, rotating it and cocking his head. "But why are we in the prisoner's home?"
"How should we know, dumbass?" Nnoitra spoke from the other end of the table. Five of Hueco Mundo's elite espada were seated inside a strange room. The room had a soft carpet and bright walls, unlike the cold stone of the hollow world. It was unlike anything they had ever seen.
"She said she was going to prepare us a fuckin' 'lunch' or somethin'. Must be one of those lame human rituals," a blue-haired espada stated rudely from across the table.
"But," Nnoitra added slyly. "You gotta admit, Pet-sama's house is pretty sweet, eh, Grimmjow?"
The sixth espada only grunted disgustedly in response.
"It'd be nice to see her in something other than an arrancar uniform. I wonder where she keeps her underwear…"
"Nnoitra, please do not impose upon us that our decision to bring you was a mistake."
"My apologies, Ulquiorra."
-- -- -- -- -- -- --
At that moment a girl with long, copper hair appeared hesitantly in the doorway, speaking to signify her presence. She was clad in a mauve shirt that clung rather nicely to the lithe curves of her body. Dark bluejeans emphasized the voluptuous arches of her thighs and waist. The five espada watched her, unsure of what to do.
"Say anything and I'll kill you," Grimmjow muttered under his breath to a grinning Nnoitra, trying to quell the rising blush of his own cheeks. He had to confess, the prisoner looked rather…nice. Fortunately Ulquiorra took advantage of the sudden silence.
"Now, woman. Please carry on this 'lunch' that you mentioned earlier so we can return you to our world as soon as possible." His slitted pupils stared ahead detachedly.
Orihime's grey eyes brightened considerably and she gave a smile that deviated from her usual depressed demeanor in Hueco Mundo. She nodded, making her way over to the kitchen behind the small table. "I just went food-shopping, but I didn't know what the espada would like," she addressed them sheepishly.
"Just hurry it up, I get damn hungry in this world," Yammy exclaimed bluntly. Grimmjow and Nnoitra silently agreed with him.
Cooking helped Inoe forget her worldly troubles. Being imprisoned by Aizen in a world where the sun was nonexistent, being separated from her nakama, all of this was forgotten as the girl immersed herself in the various delicacies of her kitchen. It was good to be home, even if it was only for a little while.
As she opened packages and mixed various ingredients, Orihime listened to the small talk the espada were making. The elite of Hueco Mundo, here in her very own home, she mused. She smiled, wondering what her enemies did when they were not fighting or intending to important matters.
"So when we got into Karakura Town, I saw this place called 'Target,' you know?" Grimmjow began in an irritated voice to Szayel. "And you know how bad my cero aim is, so I went inside to check it out."
"They didn't have a fucking target in the entire store!"
"Then why would it be called 'target?'" Nnoitra inquired lazily.
Grimmjow rolled his eyes, propping an elbow on the table. "Beats me. They did have all of this human shit, though. Oh Szayel," he added. "The amount of medicine that place had would put your lab to shame."
Szayel frowned. "What drugs could the real world possibly possess that I do not?"
The sixth espada snickered. "Lucky for you I swiped some on my way out. Humans can't see me anyway." He began to rummage through the pockets of his white arrancar robe, bringing out a few products. Grimmjow dumped them casually onto the wooden table. Orihime glanced over to see a small assortment of medications and such on the table, Tylenol and vitamins among them, as well as a box of tampons.
"'the hell is this?" Nnoitra picked up the bottle of Tylenol. "Some shitty human drug?" He tossed it to Yammy, who inspected the bottle, squinting to read the fine print on the label.
"It says it can relieve pain for up to 24 hours," Yammy declared, rolling the bottle over to Szayel.
The scientist looked at it thoughtfully. "Must be some sort of anesthetic humans use for their experiments," he said. "Though I think I will take a sample back to Hueco Mundo to have it analyzed."
Szayel reached over and took another box from Grimmjow sitting next to him.
"Tampon?" he read. The espada all looked up startled as Orihime dropped a spoon onto the floor, it clanging loudly. She picked it up red-faced, mumbling her apologies and saying that the food was almost ready.
"Hey, Orihime," Szayel turned towards her, one of the only espada to address the prisoner by her actual name. "This appears to be some form of probing device. As a human, you must know what this is."
"Ah---um, its—I mean—"
"Never mind her," Nnoitra waved a hand dismissively to cut off the stuttering girl. "Ask Aizen-sama when we get back. I'm sure he'll know." Szayel nodded.
Orihime approached the table reluctantly. "The food is almost ready, so we should clear the table," she announced, distributing napkins and placing two salt-and-pepper shakers in the center of the table. Once finished she turned toward the kitchen to resume her cooking, but—
"Woman, explain what these are," Ulquiorra's cool voice prevented her from leaving and she turned to face the espada once more. The pale man was gesturing to the shakers, allowing a shred of suspicion to creep into his impassive features.
Orihime breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, these?" she asked.
"They're called salt and pepper," she explained, smiling slightly at the looks of confusion on the arrancars' faces.
"They are used to season the food," Orihime continued, hoping to satiate their curiosity. "The white one is salt, which makes the food, um, salty, and the black one is pepper, which makes it spicy."
Ulquiorra nodded. "Now continue with the preparation of 'lunch.'" Orihime obliged and ducked into the kitchen quarters, auburn hair swirling behind her.
Grimmjow was fiddling with the pepper shaker. "The woman said this makes stuff spicy," he mulled, turning to Nnoitra.
"Nnoitra, ya think if I had some of this the chicks would dig me?"
"Pet-sama did say it made things spicy," the lean espada answered. "You should try it."
"They won't be able to resist me now," Grimmjow snickered. "Now, how do you open it?" He held the shaker up to the light, but upside down. The result was a cloud of black pepper raining down on his face.
The blue-haired espada shook his head to rid the substance from his face and only ended up sneezing. Nnoitra laughed gleefully. Grimjow looked at the bottle and grinned.
"Nice," he smirked approvingly.
"Hey, Szayel, look what this stuff makes you do!" Without warning Grimmjow thrust the pepper shaker into the surprised face of the eighth espada.
"Hey—what are you doing Grimmj…ja…atsch!"
Ulquiorra closed his eyes as Yammy and Nnoitra burst into peals of laughter. "Idiots," he muttered.
"You should try some too, Ulquiorra," Grimmjow leaned over only to have a white hand grab his arm with lightning speed.
"Make me sneeze and your life will end here and now," the fourth espada said in a dark voice. His face remained blank.
"Aww, Ulqui-chan doesn't want an itchy nose?"
"Shut up, Nnoitra," Szayel said, tucking a lock of hair behind his ear.
A sudden ding broke the tension at the table. "Ah, food's ready!" Orihime chirped from the counter.
She emerged with five plates of steaming food of various colors, setting them down in front of each espada.
"What is it, woman?" Yammy asked discourteously, his stomach rumbling eagerly.
"One of my own dishes," the orange-haired woman replied lightly. "The noodles are called 'pasta,' and since I couldn't find tomato sauce I used ketchup. But it was still too bland so I added some slices of banana and feta cheese for flavor."
The espada nodded, not understanding the odd names of the human food as they whizzed over their heads.
"Let us commence this ritual you call 'lunch,' now," Szayel announced, picking up his fork. They others lifted their utensils in agreement and began to eat.
After the first bite, Szayel felt himself turn green.
Yammy began to grimace and quickly swallowed.
Nnoitra coughed harshly, bringing a hand to hide his face. "Shit!" hecried in between half coughing and half retching.
"FUCK!" Grimmjow quickly snatched his napkin and spit into it. "What is this shit, woman?"
"I already told you, it's my special recipe for lunch," Orihime answered innocently, saddened that the espadas' reactions to her cooking did not differ from anyone else's who had dared try her food.
Grimmjow picked up the still-steaming bowl and threw it, its contents sailing out of the open window next to the kitchen.
"That was fucking disgusting, woman. You expect us to eat this shit?"
"Be quiet, Grimmjow."
"Huh? Ulquiorra, don't tell me you actually like this stuff?" Nnoitra looked at the fourth espada in disbelief as the stoic man continued to eat.
"It is not bad," Ulquiorra stated blandly as he dipped his fork into the mess once more.
"No fuckin' way."
A few days later when the group had returned to Hueco Mundo, Sosouke Aizen summoned the five espada into a small meeting.
"Grimmjow, Nnoitra, Szayel, Ulquiorra, Yammy," he began in a smooth voice. "From your experience in the real world, did you find out the reasons to which Inoe Orihime will not eat our food?"
The four espada glanced at one another, silent. Ulquiorra, usually the first one to answer to Aizen's questions remained quiet, not wanting to reveal his personal opinions in front of Aizen-sama.
"Eh…" Szayel began testily. "Let's just say that the woman has a strange taste in delicacies."
"She eats shit," Grimmjow stated bluntly, if a bit sourly. Ulquiorra gave the sixth espada a stare of daggers, finally speaking.
"What Grimmjow means is that some of the espada were not accustomed to the woman's cooking."
Aizen nodded. "Ah, I see. Very well, you are dismissed."
"Oh, and Aizen-sama," Nnoitra called loudly from the door. "If you ever get an invitation to participate in something called 'lunch,' I advise that you decline immediately. It's a human form of poisoning."