Requested by xXAngelofDemiseXx. Thanks for that... hope you like it!
Neliel glanced up from her thoughts to find Grimmjow. "Yes?"
"What're you doing in here?" She supposed it was a valid question; why in the world was she lurking around the training compound at two in the morning? She didn't really know either, except that she couldn't sleep for the third night in a row and there was nothing else to do. "...And do you wanna fight?"
Now that caught her off guard. "Do I...?"
"Do you wanna fight? Spar, whatever." He picked up a shinai and began working with it, the weapon turning effortlessly in his hands. "I mean, there's nothing else to do..."
Of course he'd think there was nothing else to do. The compound was equipped with an obstacle course, track, and quite a few other amenities that could be used for training, but for Grimmjow all that mattered was fighting. He looked at her and smirked, titling his jaw up arrogantly. "Scared, Tricera?"
"Then fight me," he persisted. Neliel sighed. She couldn't sleep, couldn't keep still and there was a meeting tomorrow. She needed to release whatever pent-up feelings were keeping her awake, but the idea of sparring with Grimmjow, of all people, was distasteful at best. He was a bloodthirsty animal just like Nnoitra, she thought, watching his play with the practice blade while he waited for her response.
"Why would you want to fight with me?" she asked, stepping forward a little. He saw the glint of curiosity in her eyes and picked up another shinai from a rack on the wall. He held it out to her, smiling.
"'Cause it's fun," he replied. "Come on, you know you wanna. Or are you really too scared, Neliel?"
"I am not scared."
"Then fight me. You're not doin' anything else." Grimmjow tossed her the blade, already taking a stance and keeping his gaze on her eyes. "I'll even give you a free hit."
She caught the weapon with an uncharacteristic grin, letting her eyes naturally focus on Grimmjow's and beginning to circle him, watching for an opening. She was surprised when he dropped out of his stance, standing tall and proud when before he'd been crouching.
"Come on," he said, "A free hit's a free hit! Get it over with so we can start fightin' for real!"
"Gladly," Neliel smirked, deciding once and for all that this was a golden opportunity. She flashed forward, rapping the shinai's blade hard against Grimmjow's ribs. This would be fun, she decided, and besides, what could the Sexta do to her?
That thought abruptly left her mind when he copied the move and whacked her across the stomach, jumping back and grinning at her. "Didn't hurt you, did I?"
"I didn't feel a thing," she replied, ignoring the bruise that was forming where he'd struck her. "In fact....maybe we should use weapons more... befitting our level?" Neliel drew her own sword, leaving it unreleased. The blade clinked almost happily as it replaced the shinai. "Unless you're scared, Grimmjow."
"Hell no!" She saw a quick flash as he unsheathed his own blade, grin widening until he looked even crazier than usual. "I ain't scared."
A few hours later [5:00 AM Las Noches Standard]...
Leaning back against the far wall of the training compound, Neliel tried to catch her breath. The fact that she was worn out like this after only a few hours play-fighting with someone three ranks below her was a sting to her pride, but the multiple cuts and bruises she'd been dealt were beginning to outweigh it. Grimmjow sauntered up to her, closing the distance between them slowly.
She grit her teeth; there was nothing in this world that would cause her shaking legs to move, and her combat-addled brain wasn't helping the situation at all. He smiled as he drew a little closer, motioning for her to sheath her sword as he did the same. She nodded and complied, glaring at him.
"...What?" Neliel was thunderstruck. After fighting him all the way around the training compound, stumbling over weights and drawing each other into tight corners as they left the sparring area, getting cut and bruised and exhausted trying to best each other... he wanted to know if it was fun?
"I said, have fun? I know I did. Good fight." He reached out to shake hands and she took his, stilling the tremors he hadn't noticed so that she could hold on for a few seconds, flick her wrist and pull away. She never should have allowed herself to go without sleep, not when she'd barely gotten any the night before. It was so stupid that he could have put her in this condition. "Hey... you don't look so good, Nel. You okay?"
"Fine," she ground out. He sized her up and noticed that her uniform was in tatters, her hair a tangled mess. She was visibly shaking and blood-soaked... he felt an overwhelming sense of awe. I did that?
"Oh. You don't look fine." Her reiatsu was almost microscopic, flaring a little when she tried to take a breath and then flickering back down. "You don't feel so fine either. Come on, let's get out of here. You might wanna go see Szayel, huh?" She glared at him.
"Please spare me. Espada do not act in such dishonorable ways, Jeagerjaques. You should know better." Neliel turned away, stepping forward and off the wall. "You may leave if you like. I still have some training to do—" the statement was cut short when her knees buckled, her eyes widening in shock. Grimmjow caught her before she hit the floor, sighing as he gathered her into his arms. "What are you doing? Put me down!"
"Nah," he said dismissively. "You can't even walk straight. Must have really given it your all, ne?" He paused to lean against the door, backing it open, and let it swing closed behind him as they left the compound. "You been sick, or something?"
"No..." Neliel winced as his pace quickened, hoping that nobody else was awake and out in the halls. "I just haven't been sleeping. You know, I could report you for this."
"And why not?"
He turned a corner and slipped into his own domain, finding his room and setting her down on the bathroom counter. "Because you don't want anybody to know you were weak enough to let it happen." Grimmjow retrieved a first-aid kit from the medicine cabinet on the opposite wall and started the water running in the sink. "I've got you pegged, Neliel. You like everyone to think you're so mature and sophisticated..."
"That's a big word for you," she said snidely. He grinned.
"See? So defensive! You hate to think that maybe, just maybe, someone might see who you really are. But I can see it in the way you fight. Your blows are quick and precise so you can get out of the fight in a hurry."
"Oh, really? Where's the problem with that?" She winced as he soaked a washcloth in hot water and started carefully cleaning her wounds.
"You're so scared that you'll be seen as weak. You're afraid to get into a real fight in case it would end in you losing, make you fall from grace." He sighed and motioned for her to slip out of her uniform, leveling his gaze with hers when she shook her head. "You can let me see you naked, Neliel, or you can let Szayel see you naked. The only difference is that he'll have much more fun."
"Or you could just get out of my way," she growled. "I need to get home so that I can go to the meeting this morning."
"You, walk out of here. Yeah... no," he replied. "Let's see you walk, to begin with." She grumbled something about how they needed a new Octava and slipped the uniform off. He winced.
"Jeez, those're some nasty wounds. Why didn't you say something if I was cutting you that deep?" Smirking, he answered for her. "Oh yeah, that's right... you don't like people to know what you can and can't take."
"I can take anything from the Se—ouch!" Neliel winced as Grimmjow dabbed alcohol onto a scrape along her forehead.
"You were saying?" he smirked.
Glaring, she grit her teeth together and looked away so that she wouldn't have to meet his gaze, arms crossed over her bare chest. He finished cleaning her up in silence and wrapped bandages over her wounds, tying them off tightly so they'd stay on for a while. By the time she'd gotten up the nerve to speak, Grimmjow had picked her up again and set her on his bed, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Well, I'm going back to bed, sleeping in, and screw the meeting," he replied. "You can either sleep or stay awake." He sat down next to her, helped her lie down and drew the covers up to her shoulders. "...And screw the meeting for you, too, considering that you're not up to it today." He slipped under the covers on the other side of the bed.
Neliel balked. "But the meetings are mandatory!"
"Yeah, they are," he replied. "But if you go to the meeting, I'll have to come with you since you can't walk. And then you'll have to explain to everyone why you're so beat-up when I'm doing just fine." There was a distinct pause. "Or you can save yourself the embarrassment and call in sick tomorrow. Say you had a stomach virus, or somethin'." She gave a slight nod, not quite believing that she was going to lie to Aizen-sama for the sake of her reputation.
"Good," said Grimmjow. "G'night, Neliel." He closed his eyes, still propped on one side, and was asleep in a few seconds. She sat up and watched him, painful though it was. Anything, at this point, was better than trying to fall asleep. She was a little more tired than before, though. Probably just from the sparring.
Some interminable amount of time later, Neliel opened her eyes. "...What...?"
She hadn't even recalled going to sleep, let alone being so warm. It had been cold when she'd last had her eyes open... hadn't it? Yes, it had been cold. Something must have happened during the night...
That's when she realized something: she had somehow ended up much closer to Grimmjow than she'd intended.
They were pressed close together, his chin tucked behind her head and her jaw resting against his collarbone, his arms around her waist... then the situation got even worse. His eyes blinked open, and met hers.
"Good morning," she said quietly, her face quickly going red. "Um..."
"Aw, did you get cold?" he asked, smirking. "Good morning to you too. Feeling better?" She gave a quick nod, trying to slip out of his arms and get up.
"It's only ten o'clock," she explained when he stared at her quizzically, loosening his grip. "I still have a good half-hour to make it to the meeting, and then—"
"Then you'll have to explain your uniform, that bandage around your head and the bruises on your face. Not to mention both of your eyes are blacked, you're shaking and to top all that off, I bet you still can't stand and walk."
Neliel glared at him and sat up. "You honestly think that I'm as weak as you are, Sexta?" she slid off the bed and stood, trying not to let her knees knock together. It didn't work. Her shoulders sagged as he got up and set her back on the bed, drew the covers back up and pulled her into his arms. She looked up at him with a shamed face.
"It'll be fine," he said gently, pulling her closer. "It's not the end of the world."
"Why are you...?"
"Holding you? 'Cause you're still cold. And you were actually able to sleep tonight, once you got a little closer to me. So since you obviously need more sleep..." He smiled. "You're looking a lot better, Nel."
"Don't call me that..." she yelped when he leaned down and kissed her on the forehead, leaving his lips against her skin.
"Go to sleep, Nel."
"Don't call me—"
"Grimm? Okay. Grimmy."
She looked up at him and smirked, the expression infinitely better to him than shame. "Or maybe Koneko?" He grinned and tilted her face up, kissing her softly on the lips.