Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo. I got myself a mini Bleach notebook, on sale at a dirt cheap price to boot! XD
IMPORTANT NOTE: From here on out, the story will take into account events that had taken place in "Evolve", the third installment in the "Searching" series which takes place after chapter twenty-three of "Glimpses".
Twenty-Fourth Glimpse: Home
Sitting before a pile of rubble in the desert sands, she cried openly, grieving for the loss of yet another home. When she felt a comforting hand descend upon her head, Nel looked up to find Pesche sitting beside her. "Why does…this always…happen?" she asked between chest-heaving sobs.
He let out a sigh as he folded his arms in a contemplative pose. "Hmm…why, you ask?" Then, not even two seconds later, he held both hands up with a shrug. "Well, this is Hueco Mundo. There're crazy hollows everywhere," he explained, his tone carefree.
"But we spent so much time making it!" she whined, pointing a frustrated finger at their destroyed shelter for emphasis.
Just then, a giant eel-like creature sprung up from the sands not too far away.
"Look, Nel!" Pesche exclaimed. "Dondochakka and Bawabawa are back!"
Nel watched as he got up to go meet their other companions. Sniffling as she wiped the tears from her eyes, she strained her ears to try to catch their hushed discussion.
"Anything?" Pesche inquired in rare seriousness.
"No," Dondochakka replied as he jumped off Bawabawa's back. "Do you think it's him?"
"I don't know, but I don't want to stick around to find out." Pesche turned to give the child arrancar a quick glance before continuing. "It's not safe here anymore. We have to keep moving."
Nel watched with curious eyes as her brothers continued to talk. Though she couldn't quite understand the meaning of their words, she was at least able to pick up on the distressed mood they were trying to hide from her. Before long, Pesche returned to her side and held his hand out to her.
"Come on, Nel. Let's go."
"No!" She was upset, and she wanted to throw a fit. "Nel wants to stay here! Why can't we stay here? Why can't we have a home?"
"Nel," Pesche began as he crouched down before her, his comforting hand atop her head once more. "We don't have to stay here to be at home."
She frowned up at him, unable to comprehend.
"All that matters is that you're safe," he explained, his voice soothing. "And as long as you're happy…anywhere can be home."
Nel opened her eyes and blinked lazily, staring at the rebellious streams of sunlight that had pushed around the curtain's edges to invade her room.
That's right…I'm not in Hueco Mundo anymore…
Sitting up, she slowly rolled her head from one side to the other as she rubbed her neck with her hand in attempt to alleviate the kinks in her shoulders. It was a strange feeling being in a gigai all the time. She was still getting used to it.
Stepping over to the window and pulling back the curtains, the green-haired arrancar looked out with a smile. The thoughts that dominated her nights were instantaneously banished by the sight of the blue sky and the feeling of the cool morning breeze. After taking a deep, cleansing breath, she was ready to start another day in Karakura Town.
As soon as Nel showered and dressed, she hurried downstairs to the kitchen, hoping to be the one to make it there first. Unfortunately, her hopes were shattered when she entered to find the raven-haired youth already standing at the stove. She sighed in defeat. He beat me again…
"Eggs," Uriya said without turning around, already knowing who had joined him.
Resigning herself, she went and took a seat at the breakfast table. "Scrambled."
A short while later, Uriya placed a plate of scrambled eggs and toast with blueberry jam and a glass of orange juice in front of Nel. Then he sat across the table from her with his own breakfast.
"Thanks, Ulqui-nii!" she beamed at him before taking a bite out of her toast.
The only indication that he had even heard was the brief pause he made in mid-chew. So, I'm 'Ulqui-nii' this time…
Ever since he had convinced his father to take Nel in and they had introduced her to the living world as his adoptive sister, she had been calling him 'brother' at random and in various ways. Sometimes it was 'Uriya Onii-san'. Other times it might be 'baby brother'. He had even been called 'Ulqui Aniki' a couple of times. To this day, he still hadn't quite figured out whether she was doing it for her own amusement or to irk him.
"Hey, Ulqui," Nel began, addressing him normally this time, "since you made breakfast, can I make your lunch?"
"Already done," he replied simply. When he caught her deflated look, he heaved an inaudible sigh. "If it bothers you that much, you can make dinner." Though he didn't think it was necessary, he understood her need to feel like she was pulling her own weight.
"Really?" she perked up. "Can I make your lunch tomorrow, too?"
"Fine." It wasn't like he found great enjoyment in the task anyway. It was just something that he did because it had to be done.
"How about tomorrow's breakfast?" she asked, a hopeful look in her eyes.
He looked at her with a slight hint of a smirk. "If you can get up before I do."
She gave a quiet groan as her lips turned down in a frown. As someone who had come from a place of perpetual darkness, she thought that she would naturally be able to wake up early since she should be sensitive to the light. But somehow…it didn't quite turn out that way. She supposed she did stick to Ginjo like glue when she first came to the living world, and that guy was definitely not a morning person. She must have picked up on his rhythm.
Before she could daydream too much about the Kurosaki boy, Uriya's voice broke into her thoughts. "Better finish your breakfast quickly," he suggested, taking a casual glance at the clock on the wall. "Your other morning routine is about to begin."
Nel raised her questioning brows. "Hm?"
As if on cue, the remaining occupant of the Ishida household burst into the kitchen with a pile of clothes in his arms. "Nel-chan! Do you have a minute?"
Nel gulped down the rest of her orange juice and joined the older Quincy with a bright smile on her face. "Are all of these new?" The speed at which he can stitch things together is nothing short of amazing!
"Fresh off the drawing board," Uryuu announced with pride. "Some might still need a bit of tweaking, though. Let's see…"
Uriya watched wordlessly as his father held up each article of designer clothing in front of Nel in turn, looking at each with a critical eye. In his opinion, the man was getting far too excited for this early in the morning. Then again, Uriya couldn't really blame him. After all, he had finally found someone who'd play dress up with him. Nel had practically become his number one model, wearing all of his prototypes before they were even available on the market.
As for Nel, she didn't mind it. After having lived for decades in nothing but rags…the same one, to be exact…the concept of new clothes was not a bad one, never mind that her closet that had been empty just weeks ago was already beginning to overflow. Even the so called 'frills' that Uriya seemed to have such a great distaste for didn't really bother her…as long as it was used in moderation. And when it wasn't, her dear and noticeably irritated 'brother' would gladly help her detach every last piece of lace. The speed at which he can take stitches apart is nothing short of amazing! Somehow, she got the feeling he'd had plenty of practice over the years…
Uryuu gave a satisfied nod when he was through. "Alright, then. I'll fix these two, and you can take the rest," he said as he dumped the pile into the girl's arms.
Nel chuckled. "Thanks, Uryuu. You're a sweetheart!"
"Neliel," Uriya called out to get her attention as he tried not to smirk at the older man's embarrassment at being called a sweetheart. "Let's go." While Nel was caught in the whirlwind that was his father, Uriya had already finished his breakfast and cleaned the dishes. With his school bag slung over one shoulder, he headed for the door.
"Coming!" After dropping off today's new clothes up in her room and waving a quick goodbye to the older Quincy, she ran out the door to catch up with the younger one.
Perched up on the branches in one of the school yard's trees, Hayate kept a lookout for the one some had been referring to as the Green-Haired Goddess. In truth, he wasn't the type of guy who would do this sort of thing, but…what kind of friend would he be if he refused to help his hopelessly love struck friend? Glancing down at his nervous friend standing at the base of the tree with a box of chocolates clutched tightly to his chest, Hayate could only sigh with a shake of his head.
On the day that Neliel Tu Oderschvank came to Karakura High, probably the entire male population of said school rejoiced and then subsequently had their spirits crushed, all in the same day, when it became painfully obvious that she had already been claimed…by none other than the Blue-Haired Devil. Yes, that had indeed been shocking to everyone, from the principle all the way down to the janitor's dog. Nobody could understand how or why, but nobody dared to ask. And because self-preservation was a part of human nature, those with average and above survival instinct basically backed off. His friend, unfortunately, did not fall into that category. Nonetheless, Hayate had to admit that, if nothing else, the guy at least had guts for attempting to steal a woman from the devil himself.
Just then, the target came into view. "Psst! Isamu, she's here!" Hayate hissed to the nervous wreck below. "Looks like you're in luck," he added after scanning the vicinity once more. "The Devil's nowhere in sight. And Ishida's gone on ahead. She's alone. If you're looking for a chance, this is it, man."
The boy named Isamu adjusted his glasses with a shaky hand as he took a couple of deep breaths that sounded suspiciously like hyperventilation, even to himself. He was well aware that in terms of strength, size, and all around presence, he had nothing on Kurosaki Ginjo. However, he had brains and he had heart, whereas it was questionable whether Ginjo had either. Therefore, it wasn't entirely impossible for him, right? In any case, he couldn't just give up without a fight! Steeling his nerves, he marched out from behind the tree and headed straight for the girl that was impossible to miss, coming to an abrupt stop before her. "G...good morning, Nel-san!"
Nel turned at the sound of her name, surprised eyes blinking at the tense-looking boy she didn't recognize but apparently knew who she was. "Good morning," she replied with a pleasant smile. People here are so friendly.
"Uh…um…" Isamu gulped, his eyes suddenly looking left and right. "Wh…where's Kurosaki?" he inquired, his question coming out barely above a whisper.
"Hm? Oh, probably on his way," she said. Most likely overslept as usual.
"I see…" He seemed to breathe a bit easier. "Well…these chocolates are from me!" he blurted as he shoved the heart-shaped box out at her.
She gasped, eyes widening. "Really?" People here really ARE friendly!
Unable to find his voice, Isamu could only nod vigorously as his goddess accepted his offering with a smile so brilliant it could stop his heart and send him to his grave.
Then, sensing Ginjo's approaching reiatsu, Nel turned and looked over her shoulder. "Hey, I think he's coming," she announced as she turned back around to face the boy. "If you want to—" She stopped mid-sentence, blinking at the empty space before her. "…where'd he go?"
By then, Isamu had already cunningly retreated to the safe haven behind the tree.
"Hmm…that's strange," Nel mused to herself. "I didn't even get to thank him…"
"Grimm!" She whirled around at the sound of his voice. "Look! Someone gave us a gift!" she exclaimed, holding up the so-pink-it-was-offending box.
Ginjo found himself caught between wanting to raise a brow and wanting to scowl deeper than usual. "Who?"
"A boy," she supplied as though that would explain it all.
Her answer persuaded him to go for 'scowling deeper'. The notion that a guy would give him chocolates in a heart-shaped box wasn't just impossible, it was downright creepy. But that aside… "Ain't it just for you?" he deadpanned. "What makes you think he gave 'em to us?"
She blinked. "But he was looking for you right before he gave me the gift." It only made sense that he had intended it for both of them.
He couldn't help but roll his eyes. "You're an idiot," he mumbled, but she was so busy happily untying the so-lacy-it-hurt-his-eyes ribbons on the box that she didn't even hear him.
"Try one!" she offered, practically shoving the opened box in his face.
"Hell no," came the immediate dry response. Heck, even the chocolates were shaped like hearts. "I ain't touching that girly shit."
While he complained about the trivial, she was already indulging in the sweets. "Mmm…this is soooooooo good!"
His brow twitched as he suddenly found himself having second thoughts. He wasn't good at just watching her eat…especially when she was doing it with such a euphoric expression on her face. "Fine," he ground out in the end as he scrutinized the selections once more. "Give me one of the dark chocolate ones." Since dark chocolate was bitter, it should negate some of the girliness. At least that was how he was rationalizing it to himself.
Nel held one out. "Here."
"I ain't touching it," he repeated. As long as he didn't touch it with his hands, it didn't count. At least that was how he was rationalizing it to himself.
It was her turn to roll her eyes, but she did as asked regardless, smiling ever so slightly, wondering if he realized they were currently playing opposite roles in their usual habit.
Ginjo chomped down on the chocolate and… Holy shit, this stuff is gourmet! Whoever the fool was that bought this really put money into top quality goods! "Give me another one."
She laughed at his response. "Which one?"
"The one in the middle."
"No, I want that one!" she retorted with a slight frown. It was the centerpiece, so it must taste the best!
"Tough shit! I called it first!"
"Fine," she said, her tone challenging. "Get it yourself."
He faltered, taking a moment to weigh his options. Was it really worth getting his hands dirty? No, not really. "Whatever. Just give me another dark chocolate."
She complied with a victorious grin.
Up in the tree, a witness to the entire thing, Hayate…despite knowing it was cruel…simply laughed. Not only did the Green-Haired Goddess not comprehend the meaning behind his friend's gesture, she was hand feeding it to his rival. "Isamu…you should just give up now."
Isamu, however, was unable to hear the advice as he kept banging his forehead against the tree. "I'll get her a bracelet next time!"
Back by the school gates, the oblivious pair continued. "What're you just standing around here for?" Ginjo inquired. He would ask where Uriya was, but since Himeko had a track meet this morning, he probably went to the field to see her.
"Waiting for you," she said as she pulled a folded piece of paper out of her school bag and handed it over to him.
"What's this?" he asked suspiciously. He didn't like getting notes, since most of the ones he got tended to be written backwards and contained nonsense that had to be read through a mirror. However, once he unfolded the piece of paper and saw what was on it, he started thinking that backwards writing wasn't half bad when compared to the periodic table that was currently staring back at him.
"Think you can have it memorized before your chemistry test this afternoon?" she asked as he tried to glare a hole into the paper.
"It ain't gonna work, you know," he said bluntly. She had been going over this useless gibberish with him for the past week, forcing him to look at it. If he hadn't been able to learn it in that time, he wasn't sure what made her believe that he could somehow memorize it all in one morning.
To that, she simply shrugged. "Just do what you can."
He shoved the paper into his pocket with a sigh. "Whatever." Then, just as she was about to head for the building, he remembered something. "Hey, squirt."
"Hm?" She raised her brows and waited for him to continue.
"Wait for me when school gets out. I got something for ya."
Nel had spent a good part of the day trying to guess what it was that Ginjo wanted to give her. By now, as she sat on his bed and watched him rummage through his desk drawer for said item, she had narrowed it down to three possibilities: a new super tasty candy, a new super tasty pastry, or a new super tasty drink. Their world revolved heavily around edible things after all.
"Catch." That was his only warning before he tossed a small object her way.
After plucking it out of the air, she opened her palm, and her eyes lit up. "I knew it was candy! What flav—" A frown of confusion appeared as she blinked at the rather familiar looking object in her hand. It was round, it was green, and it was about the right size. "Is this…Kon?"
Ginjo folded his arms and leaned back against his desk. "No, but it's a modified soul…same as Kon." He knew how slim his chances were of finding another mod soul that had escaped its fate, but when he went to Urahara Shouten, he had specifically requested for a one. Why? Because he simply couldn't stomach the idea of having a second one of Soul Society's standard issue Soul Candy around. Having to put up with his mother's gigai going "pyon pyon" all over the place was aggravating enough. If Nel's gigai joined in, he'd be in Pyon Pyon Hell for sure. As it turned out, luck was on his side.
"Ahh…" Nel nodded with enlightenment as she got to her feet. "So, that's why we went and picked this thing up!" As she held up the stuffed animal she had been holding in her arms, she thought back to their detour to the arcade on their way here:
Standing in front of a glass box, the pair stared at the pile of plush dolls within. Ginjo gave Nel a sideward glance. "So? Which one are ya least likely to get sick of?" he asked, sounding bored.
She blinked at him. "What do you mean?"
He grumbled with mild annoyance as he rephrased his question. "I said, if ya had to pick one, which one would you not mind having to look at for a long time!"
"Oh," she said, belatedly realizing he was using Ginjo Speak again. Once she aligned herself to his mode of communication, it was easy enough for her to decipher. He was simply asking 'which one do you like?' without saying 'which one do you like?' Scanning through the selection, not entirely sure why he was asking, she made her pick. "That white one, I suppose."
"Done." He pumped a coin into the machine and manipulated the mechanical claw to retrieve the one she favored: a white sheep.
"From now on, that fuzz ball's gonna be your best friend," the blue-haired youth explained, pulling Nel from her thoughts.
"I didn't think I'd even get my very own kaizou konpaku," she mused as she looked between the two items in her hands. "Grimm, you really didn't have to…"
"Believe me. It's necessary," he deadpanned. "Kon will probably kill himself if he had to go another round in your gigai." Ginjo could still remember…quite vividly in fact…the onetime Nel used Kon to get out of her gigai in order to take a trip to Hueco Mundo to see Halibel:
Kon, inside Nel's gigai, looked down at himself, eyes bulging in horror. "Wh…what?...why?" And when he looked up at Ginjo, the blood had drained from his face. "Ginjo! Get me out of this!"
"What the hell are you complaining about?" the vizard drawled, unsympathetic. "You always wanted to get close to women, right? Well…have at it."
"Bu…but.." With mortification, Kon looked down at himself once more, hands coming up to cup over both of his breasts. "This…this…" It was completely wrong. It couldn't get any further from his fantasies even if he tried! By the time he looked up again, his tears were already gushing out of his eyes and flowing down his cheeks like waterfalls. "IT'S NOT THE SAAAAAME!" he wailed. "My face can't even reach this heavenly valley! You just don't get it! I want out! I want out NOW! Use the glove! I'd rather be a pill!"
"It's in the washer," came the uncaring reply.
While it might have been fun to watch Kon freak out that one time, it would be annoying to have to do it repeatedly. Besides, Nel would need a means to get out on her own sooner or later.
Taking the pill out of Nel's hand, Ginjo studied it briefly. "Now…let's see if this thing expired." Cupping her chin with one hand, he popped the pill into her mouth with the other.
The arrancar's soul was immediately pushed out. She stretched her arms and heaved a sigh of satisfaction, relishing the feel of being freed from her gigai. "Ah, this feels great!"
As for the mod soul that was now inhabiting Nel's gigai, with eyes still closed, she reached up and gently clasped both of her hands around Ginjo's wrist before he could remove his hand from her chin. "Are you…Kurosaki Ginjo?" she asked, somewhat hesitant.
He scowled slightly. "How'd ya know my name?"
Processing only his confirmation but not his question, she opened her eyes and looked at him for the first time, her expression filled with elation and what could only be described as utter adoration. "You…finally came for me. I've been waiting for you…Ginjo-sama…"
"…what?" he asked intelligently, not entirely sure if he heard her correctly.
In response, she merely got down on one knee, still holding his hand in both of hers. "From this day on, I am at your service. Your wish is my command."
Caught off guard by this mod soul who was suddenly pledging allegiance to him like he was the lord of the land, Ginjo froze for a sec before responding. "Actually," he said as he retrieved his hand from her hold, "you'll be serving her."
"What?" The mod soul looked over her shoulder at Nel before turning back to Ginjo. "But…I was always meant to serve you, Ginjo-sama," she said, confused and somewhat disheartened. "Urahara had said so…"
Ginjo quirked a brow. "You heard our conversation?"
"Yes, but…I've actually known for years."
At this point, Nel interjected. "What are you two talking about?"
Ginjo raked a hand through his hair. "Urahara told me that he came across this mod soul around the time I was born. He'd been holding on to it for me, cuz he figured I'd need it at some point. But since I got Kon, it never happened."
"My entire life, all I've ever done was wait," the mod soul began with downcast eyes. "At first, it was waiting to serve my purpose. Then it was waiting to be terminated. I felt fortunate when I realized I had somehow avoided termination. But as time dragged on and nothing happened…I began to think otherwise. Being conscious of my surroundings, yet, unable to move or speak…to have to continue to exist like that indefinitely is a dreadful experience. I would have been better off terminated with the rest of my kind. Then I ended up at Urahara Shouten. When Urahara recognized me for what I am, he said that you will have use for me someday, Ginjo-sama." She looked up at him then. "That gave me hope, and so I continued to wait…for you."
By now, Ginjo had been taken completely out of his comfort zone. He didn't take sob stories well. He had no idea how to react, especially when she was looking at him like he was her savior when all he did was make a decision to go pick up a pill. And it certainly didn't help that Nel looked like she was already being swept away by it all.
"Grimm, you saved her from that miserable existence," Nel stated as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "You're a hero!"
"Stop overreacting!" he yelled.
"But you did save me," agreed the Nel look-a-like at his feet, rather enthusiastically. "I am forever in your debt."
"I said stop overreacting!" He felt a sudden urge to throw something. Anything.
That was when the unsuspecting and unfortunate Kon stepped into the room. "Hey, what's—" He didn't even have time to register Ginjo's approaching form when he was swiped up by his leg and thrown across the room for no apparent reason. Once he regained his balance after bouncing off multiple surfaces, he had every intention of giving that arrogant brat a piece of his mind. However, at the sight of twin Nels…both moving…the speech he was formulating inside his head fell apart, and he remained silent.
Having released a bit of his frustration, Ginjo turned back to the mod soul. "You…you…" He frowned when he realized he didn't know what to call her. "What's your name?"
She gave him a meaningful look. "I would be honored if you would give me one."
He scratched his head roughly. What a pain… "Whatever." He devoted a total of three seconds to the task before coming up with… "Paku!"
Nel quirked a brow. "Paku?" Sounds like something you'd name a dog…
Paku, however, seemed rather happy about it.
"First things first," Ginjo continued, not wasting a moment. "Get up." Grabbing her by the shoulders, he yanked her to her feet. "Next. You and me…" he said as his finger alternated repeatedly between pointing at her and himself . "It ain't gonna work. I'm a guy, and you're obviously female. It's just…" he shook his head, resolute. "No." Even though it sucked, having his body walk around as a wimpy pervert was still better than having it prance around like a girl.
"So then…you don't want me?" Paku asked dejectedly.
The vizard nearly sputtered. He really didn't like the way she made that sound. If his old man had heard that, Ginjo was sure his head would be unjustly placed on a platter by now. Somehow, answering either yes or no sounded wrong. "I want you to work with Nel!"
She took a glance back at the arrancar once more, still obviously disheartened. "I understand. If it's what you wish, then I shall obey." Reluctantly turning to Nel, she gave a bow. "From today on, I will be in your care. Please let me know if there's anything I can do for you."
Nel smiled kindly. "I'm sure we'll get along."
"Now that that's settled…" Ginjo snapped on a black glove then proceeded with pushing Paku out of the gigai without further warning and dropping the pill inside the sheep's mouth.
When Paku took note of her surroundings once more after the brief blackout, she realized the sudden remarkable size difference between herself and the others. Standing upon the bed, she studied the strange fluffy form she was now in. "Wha…?"
"That's the body you'll be in most of the time," Ginjo supplied.
"WHAT?" She could not help the look of mortification. "But…but it's so embarrassing!"
"Deal with it," he told her straight. "It's either this or the pill. Take your pick."
Paku opened her mouth, but found she could not argue.
By now, Kon had finally managed to find his way out of his stupor. All his nasty thoughts about Ginjo forgotten, he ran over to the youth with teary eyes and hugged his leg. "GINJOOOOOO! I love you! I love you! I love you!" He had always thought he was the only one left. He had never been so happy.
Ginjo grumbled. "Damn it, not you, too!" He swung his leg, tossing the stuffed lion across the room once more. Then, cursing under his breath, he headed for the door.
"Where're you going?" Nel inquired, now once again in her gigai.
"Kitchen," he called out from the hallway. All this weird drama was making him hungry.
"I want half of whatever you're having!" the former tercera Espada announced before happily following after him.
"Wait for me, too, Ginjo-sama!" Paku hopped off the bed, but she wasn't able to get far before she found herself being held back by the walking stuffed lion. "Hey, let go," she said with mild annoyance.
"Wait, Paku-chan," Kon began, "I…my name's Kon. I'm a kaizou konpaku, just like you!" He was grinning like the idiot that he was. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship with all kinds of possibilities! The two of them…the last of their kind… It was like a fairytale setup. With him in Ginjo's body and her in Nel's gigai… "Heheh…" Ah, yes…all kinds of possibilities…
"Kon…you say?" Paku scanned the drooling stuffed lion from head to toe, her expression darkening. "Ah…so, you're the reason I can't serve Ginjo-sama…" Her voice was low with venom practically dripping from every syllable.
"Eh?" Kon backed away slightly. Somehow, the fluffy white sheep suddenly seemed menacing. He could have sworn her eyes were glowing red. "Well…that's…"
She advanced, pulling him in by the fabric of his chest with every intention to intimidate. "You bastard. What do you want with me, huh?"
Kon gulped. Did her personality just do a one-eighty? "Nothing!" he yelped, trying his hardest to keep his voice from cracking. "I just thought…since you're new here and all…I could show you around town. We could hang out…and stuff…"
"Don't kid, you stuffed fool," she scoffed. "If you come near me again, I'll kick your ass. Touch me again, and I'll kill you!" With that warning, she let go and began to walk away.
"Paku-chan! Wait!" Kon wasn't about to let his fairytale turn to dust before it even began.
The moment Kon touched her shoulder, Paku whirled around and drove her fist into his face. "I said lay off, you dumbass!"
As Kon made his aerial journey across the room yet again, he noted one thing: instead of a sheep, his counterpart was in fact a demoness in sheep's clothing. Was he going to give up his quest? Of course not. He liked a woman with a fiery spirit. In any case, at least he found out what her special ability was. "…nice…nice punch…"
It was around sunset by the time Nel and Paku left the Kurosaki household. Strolling along the quiet neighborhood street, Nel noticed how her companion would keep looking back towards the way from which they came. "We don't live that far away," she supplied in hopes of easing the mod soul's anxiety. "This town's not that big anyway."
Paku folded her arms and held her head up, trying not to appear embarrassed for being caught. "Let's be clear," she stated in a no nonsense tone of voice. "I'm only working with you because Ginjo-sama asked me to. I belong to him, not you."
"That's fine," Nel replied with a soft smile. "Don't worry. We'll get to see him all the time."
"You'll get to see him all the time," Paku corrected. "Look at me. It's not like I can inconspicuously get around in this vessel." Even now, she'd have to play dead if someone decided to pop out around the corner.
Nel folded her hands behind her back, eyes turning up to the sky in thought. "Mmm…Kon seems to manage pretty well."
Paku spit to the side. Just the sound of that name was enough to light her fire. "…damn bastard…"
Nel chuckled lightly. With her new partner around, she had a feeling things were going to get even livelier than they already were.
The sheep frowned at that reaction. "Hey, are you laughing at me? Don't think that just because I'm new around here you can pick on me. I was born to fight, you know!" She held up her plushy hooves for emphasis.
"Mm, I'm pretty new here myself," Nel noted, completely unaffected by…or perhaps unaware of…the hostility.
Paku blinked up at her before turning her attention back to the sidewalk. "You're a hollow, aren't you?" she inquired, suddenly serious. Even if she hadn't seen the broken mask on Nel's head, she was able to tell from the feel of her reiatsu. "What're you doing here in the living world?" She couldn't understand. Wasn't Nel the enemy? The kind of being she had been created to fight? What was a hollow doing here, being all passive among humans and shinigami? It went against everything in her knowledge base. It didn't make sense.
"…I sometimes wonder about that myself," Nel said quietly, almost to herself, as she came to a stop. "We're here," she announced without giving her companion a chance to react, a smile back on her features. As Paku turned her head up to take in the sight of the Ishidas' house, Nel opened the front door for her. "Welcome to your new home."
"Why me, Nnoitora? We've been through this so many times already. There are others who I'm sure would be happy to take you up on this. I, however, have no interest in a senseless death match with you."
"You don't get it, do you, Neliel? That is precisely the reason why…"
"Dondochakka!" she screamed with horror.
"Pesche! Take Nel and go!" Dondochakka yelled, hands holding a crescent shaped blade within his own abdomen.
Strapped to the surface of a cold metal table, she struggled to get free.
"Relax, Neliel." Szayel smiled as he loomed over her, tools in his hands. "This won't hurt one bit."
She watched as he was cut down before her eyes. "PESCHE!" She turned to Nnoitora, furious. "He has nothing to do with this! Why did you do it?"
"Come now… You're an intelligent woman. I'm sure you can figure it out…"
"I will give you what you want."
"So, you're gonna die for me?"
"No… What you really want..."
Sitting on the roof in her spirit form with arms wrapped around her knees, Nel stared dully out at the town. She was fine during the day. However, when night fell and the world around her was asleep, memories of the past would flood her mind, making it impossible for her to truly rest. It must be because the night sky reminded her of Hueco Mundo, the bleak desert that used to be her home.
She didn't miss that place, not at all, especially when those who were important to her were no longer there. Nonetheless, it was the only place that she knew. Even though Ginjo had told her she didn't really 'fit in' in Hueco Mundo, it didn't necessarily mean that she belonged in the living world either. She had made the decision to come here because she wanted to, but there was always a part of her that questioned whether that had been the right thing to do. While Soul Society had made an exception for her to remain in the living world, the fact that an exception had to be made meant that she wasn't supposed to be here to begin with…
Her train of thought was interrupted when she felt knuckles knocking continuously against the mask atop her head. "Ow! Ow! Ow!" She placed her hands protectively over her head before looking up at her abuser. "What was that for?"
Ginjo, also in his spirit form, looked down at her with a mixture of irritation and disapproval. "It's cuz you have this stupid look on your face that says you're thinking about stupid things."
Nel looked away wordlessly with a slight pout, hand rubbing over her mask to make sure it wasn't damaged.
"What the hell are you doing out here?" he asked.
"I couldn't sleep," she said, resuming her previous position, "so, I thought I'd sit out here and think for a bit. Clear my head."
"Aren't you supposed to do that kinda shit on your own roof?" he asked dryly as he took up a sitting position beside her on the roof of his house. He had barely settled in when she dropped into sleeping position, claiming one of his thighs as her pillow as she lay on her side, looking out to the streets. "Wh…what the hell?" he said, somewhat baffled. "Hey, get off, squirt."
"No," she replied, defiance in her voice.
"What do you mean 'no'?" It was his leg!
"Because you won't let me sleep in your room anymore," she accused.
He rolled his eyes. "Quit whining about it already! There's no space!" Seriously. How many times did he have to repeat himself on this one?
"And you won't sleep in my room either." Her bed was twice as big as his. There certainly weren't any space issues there.
Ginjo fisted his hands in his hair and tried not to scream. "OK. I'm gonna explain this very clearly. If my old man finds you sleeping in my bed, he'll just cut off my head and turn me into a dead man. If Uriya's old man finds me sleeping in your bed…he'll probably cut off something else and turn me into a woman." As it was, Ishida Uryuu was already extending his overprotective nature to Nel, calling her and leaving her messages almost as frequently as he did for his son. It wasn't that Ginjo was scared. Heck no. It was just way more trouble than it was worth.
"So, this is the only way," she concluded.
"Only way what?" He didn't get it.
She chuckled lightly but gave no reply as she closed her eyes and relished in the feel of his reiatsu. She was rather addicted to it…the way his intimidating and ferocious reiatsu calmed and soothed her.
Seeing that she wasn't going to give him an answer, he thought back to what she had said initially. "Ya did it all wrong."
"Did what wrong?"
"You weren't clearing your head," he drawled. "You were filling it up with shit."
"…I was clearing it just fine until you interrupted me." Though he wasn't able to see the pout on her face, he definitely heard it in her voice.
Silence reigned the following moments before Ginjo spoke again. "Look, Nel," he began with a seriousness he rarely displayed. "If there's somewhere else you'd rather be, then fine. You can leave whenever the hell you want. But if you're thinking about going back to that hell hole just because you think you got no business being here, then that's just retarded bullshit."
Nel shot up and turned to him, startled eyes searching his for answers. "How did you…?"
"Cuz you had this stupid look on your face that said you were thinking about stupid things," he reiterated bluntly. It was the same look she had that night he dragged her back from Hueco Mundo.
She averted her eyes, dispirited.
"And it ain't like ya got here for free," he continued, his hand reaching out to touch the red ring that had been forever etched into the skin of her neck, his thumb brushing over it in thought. He was still peeved at Soul Society for putting that thing on her. When Nel placed her hand over his, it brought him out of his reverie. "So, even if you're stupid enough to go back, you should at least reap all the god damn benefits from this rotten deal before you leave."
"Like what?" she asked, a small smile returning to her.
"How the hell should I know?" he said irritably. "Just do whatever makes ya happy."
"…as long as you're happy…anywhere can be home…"
Nel reflected on that voice from her memory. Was she happy? Thinking back, hadn't she been smiling pretty much all day long?
"I swear you're nothing but trouble," Ginjo grumbled with a bit of exasperation.
She gave a quiet chuckle. "Mm…I help you study," she tried.
"That's what I call trouble," he retorted without missing a beat.
"How did your chemistry test go?" she asked, since they were on the subject.
"Not bad. Pretty sure I passed." As long as he didn't have to take a retest, that was good enough in his book.
"See!" she exclaimed excitedly. "I'm not just trouble."
"Yeah. Thanks for the cheat sheet."
"What?" she said with an incredulous gasp. "You didn't!"
A wide grin spread across his features.
"That wasn't what it was for!" she argued, referring to the periodic table she gave him that morning.
"Hey, you're the one who said to do what I can, right?" He shrugged. "So, I did."
Nel placed a hand on her forehead with a sigh. "Ulqui was right."
He raised a brow. "What did that bastard say this time?"
"'He's an idiot who's surprisingly adept at devising methods to ensure that he remains an idiot,'" she said, quoting the former cuarta Espada word for word.
His brow twitched. "I'm gonna go bankai on his Quincy ass the next time I see him," he promised himself as he got to his feet.
Nel quirked a questioning brow up at him, silently asking what he was doing.
He glanced down at her with a devious grin. "I've 'devised a method' for that to happen sooner," he replied as he held out a hand to her, offering to help her up.
She shook her head with a sigh, laughter in her eyes. Since she doubted that he would start a fight with Uriya over something so trivial at this hour of the night, she decided she should interpret that as Ginjo Speak for 'I'll walk you home'.
"Come on," he prompted, the Kurosaki scowl on his features. "We ain't got all day."
She paused for a reflective moment as she looked at his proffered hand. Then with a content smile on her lips, she placed her hand in his.
Pesche…I think I'm home…
A/N: OMG! I can't believe it's been nearly a year and a half since "Evolve" wrapped up and over 2 years since the last chapter of "Glimpses" was posted! Well, as I've mentioned on my profile page (that probably nobody reads, LOL!), life threw me a couple of major curve balls last year, and the real world has become quite a bit more demanding. I've finally managed enough time and mental power to write up another chapter. I wonder if you readers still remember what this little story's about? Heh…
This chapter focuses on Nel as a way of bringing the storyline from "Evolve" back into "Gimpses". I figured it'll also help introduce her to those who haven't read "Evolve".
And Paku makes her debut! She's been kicking around in my head for a while now. Although initially her name was going to be Noku. That's Kon spelled backwards with a Japanese accent at the end. LOL! But it was too awkward, so now she's Paku-chan. She's really hung up on/devoted to/obsessed with Ginjo since his name and the very loose not-quite-promise that he would need her someday were the only things sustaining her already fragile sanity the past 17 years. She's 100% submissive in front of Ginjo, a demoness in the face of Kon, and a tomboy with manners issues the rest of the time.
According to this one website, Isamu means courage/bravery. Since one requires a certain amount of guts to do what he's trying to do, it made sense to me. Hayate means smooth. Not sure why anyone would name their son smooth, but it fits the image I wanted for him: laid back and easy going. These two may or may not return for another cameo.
Onto something unrelated: there's now a character named Ginjou in canon (also spelled Ginjo with an accent on the "o"). (O.O) I thought it was funny at first, but now it's become a bit distracting because every time I see it I start thinking about my Ginjo. LOL! Well, at least the kanji for "jo" is not written the same way. Otherwise, I might be upset, because Ginjo's my baby, and he's supposed to be special and unique. Heh.
And just in case you thought this chapter wasn't already long enough, here's an omake:
(Next day, Karakura High's rooftop, lunch hour)
While Himeko and Nel were engrossed in a conversation about personal preferences for muffin flavors…with blueberry and chocolate making Nel's list while soy sauce and seaweed made Himeko's…Uriya took the opportunity to ask Ginjo a question that had been on his mind all night.
"I met her," the young Quincy began.
"What?" Ginjo asked between bites of his sandwich. "Met who?"
Uriya heaved an internal sigh. It was so ridiculous; he didn't want to say it. "Paku."
"Yeah? So?" No surprise there. The guy lived with Nel. Obviously he'd meet the new mod soul.
"She said that you had, and I quote, 'bestowed' that name upon her."
"Yeah? So?" Ginjo repeated, still more interested in his food, not sure what Uriya was trying to get at.
"Why, may I ask, did you give her that name?" Uriya had a pretty good idea, but he was hoping his friend wasn't that idiotic.
Ginjo shrugged. "She's a kaizou konpaku, right? Since 'Kon' is already taken, she's 'Paku'." It made sense to him.
The raven-haired youth closed his eyes. Apparently…Ginjo really was that idiotic. "Ginjo."
"What now?" the blue-haired youth replied, annoyance painted over his features.
"If you should ever have children, please do not name them yourself."
A/N: Heh. Ginjo must have gotten his naming sense from Ichigo. He and Himeko should probably count themselves lucky that Ichigo wasn't the one who named them. Haha!
Thanks for reading! Reviews appreciated! Let me know if you guys are still out there! XD