I am so sorry about the last 'update'.
I rewrote the first few chapters again, stopping at... All Hail the Hive! And I will rewrite that one and the following because they needed a it more work. So, please don't read them until the next update so I can finally say, "Ok everyone, if you want to re-read the Fic now, it runs MUCH smoother. I will not touch them again i promise."
Again, you don't have to re-read them... but I strongly, strongly suggest to you because there are things in them that will be present in the future chapters and it might confuse you. Thank you so much for your patience and reviews, they mean the world to me.
I've written the bones of the series all the way out to the end now, knowing exactly what's going to happen and where I want to take this so I definitely have my direction now. I'll be able to write faster now. Tonight I'll probably re-do the latest chapters of CBFT that I haven't done yet.
Let the show go on!- Jay
He could hear Grimmjow trudging down the hall after him.
"I COMMAND YOU TO CEASE AND DESIST! EITHER STOP NOW, OR I WILL STOP YOU MYSELF!"
The orange haired teen forced himself to slow in pace. Although his instincts were warning him to keep moving, he knew he couldn't out run a Vampire. Nor did Ichigo believe it would solve anything… Not like a good punch to the face always does…
Ichigo knew nothing good would come from this.
He did not turn around as he waited for his belligerent tutor to approach, simply allowing him to catch up instead.
"Have you gone mad?" Grimmjow sneered, finally appearing before the boy. He towered over the indignant young man, but Ichigo didn't seem vexed. Ichigo just stared through Grimmjow's shoulder as if he weren't there at all.
The Vampire became angrier, "Making me chase your trail like a child… Do you think this a game?"
"No..." The teen whispered in a hollow voice.
"…What are you wearing?..." The vampire's tone was indeterminable as he finally noticed the outfit. Ichigo's expression darkened out of embarrassment.
"Clothes-" he hissed.
"Damnit, don't speak to me so condescendingly!"
"Why not? Because I owe you a damn thing?"
"…" Grimmjow searched the other's face hard. Those stern blue eyes analyzing the scene. The Vampire thought a second before squinting his eyes and prompting, "…What have I done?"
The teen's eyes widened for a second before returning to livid slits. "…Nothing… I just realized I haven't learned a god damn thing from you, and it's not worth staying here for no reason. Especially not to be verbally assaulted by the only things that speak to me…"
"Oh …" came a cold level voice, "things now, are we?..."
The unnerved teen shook with rage and roared, "To me that's all you people fucking are!- Lying! Cold! …Unreliable Vampires!"
Grimmjow was riddled speechless, "T-…For-…Wh-…Ichigo…!" Finally after furious stutters and anger induced hand waving, the Vampire whipped around and thundered, "You are so… difficult!"
Ichigo's expression withered slowly, becoming hopelessly despondent. He finally met Grimmjow's crystalline gaze and whispered sharply,
"…Just let me go home…"
Grimmjow responded to the comment as if someone had just spat on his shoe. He became so enraged and insulted- he began to smile for no more reason other than to be cruel. Grimmjow stepped into the teen's face, eyes like razors and bellowed sarcastically,
"Fine! Leave! I think it's farcical you assume I care!"
Ichigo eased back like a deflating balloon. The Vampire noted his expression with a look of his frustration. The teen's reaction only added to the fire.
Bi-polar illiterate! He snarled to himself in thought, throwing up his hands in exclamation as he walked away. The Werin followed him with his eyes.
"...Good go back to your fucking cave." The darkness in Ichigo's voice was just loud enough for Grimmjow to hear. Even from the mere second, in which Ichigo inspired a glare, the icy cold of it was undeniable. The teen looked back as if he were staring at a wall, nothing in his eyes. No acknowledgment of the Vampire's anger. This only seemed to rub salt in Grimmjow's already wounded pride.
After the teen watched him leave his line of sight, he turned and stormed off in the other direction. The further he walked the more frantic his breathing got. It came like that of a trampling steed, desperate to brake from the carriage. It rose and rose as if the stampede of hooves were directly upon his chest. The teen's stride became longer and more devil may care as he walked.
The teen's rush of emotion was almost unbearable now. To silence the war path he slid his shaking fingers across the back of his neck, feeling there a cool sweat. It was an achingly slow movement that only seemed to make the flurry of action his emotion had embodied more violent.
As if unable to take it anymore, he whipped his hand forth and struck the wall beside him. It was a thoughtless impulse. A foolish one. He jolted back cradling his hand as the shock ravaged his bones. A moan escaped him that was not entirely human and it ricocheted down the corridor behind him. He looked around, wondering if anyone had heard it. Ichigo was bitterly thankful to find not a soul was about.
"Good day, Werin."
The teen flew about to face the voice. There was a moment of tension as he took him in.
"Oh," the stranger cooed turning slowly to the wall, "quite a nasty dent there…"
The teen kept silent. There was something about the man… maybe it was his calculating smile, or the deadness of his eyes, but there was something sinister that lay fairly visible beneath his elegant visage. He was painted with some bizarre black and white design, with a golden chin piece and a sleek white lab coat. The teen was immediately put on edge by him. Ichigo wasn't about to be stupid enough to talk to this guy… especially not if he knew what he was…
Ichigo could feel himself starting to back away. The tap of his shoes upon the marble floor crept in the silence like a poison.
"Hey man… I don't want any trouble ok?" The teen commanded, still easing away. It was strange, the teen thought, the man didn't even look like he would try to stop him. Just stood there smiling. Staring with those putrid yellow eyes.
"You wanted to go home didn't you?"
The Werin froze. The trickling feelings of unease he felt roll down the back of his neck like ice water, suddenly became a downpour. He kept himself from shaking and whispered,
"…" The silence was all the answer he needed.
"How do you know who I am?" the Werin snapped with a glare, feeling that there was something very, very wrong happening here. For a moment the teen's eyes traveled the floor before he asked,
"…Are… you the King?"
This seemed to amuse the painted man. This seemed to amuse him very much. He leaned back and had a good long chuckle about it. A cackle that was so horrendous, it made Ichigo's heart spasm in his chest.
Finally after succumbing to silence once more, the man's smile took on a much darker tone. The teen took another three steps backwards, eyes the size of headlights, but it was no good. The man only met him with three of his own. His fangs crept out from under the sanctity of his lips and he hissed,
"How did you know?"
Grimmjow was absolutely and utterly fuming. He was pacing in the hall, neither moving forward, nor back- just side to side.
"I should go back…." He growled to himself, "But he's …he's just so …INFURIATING! HOW DARE HE SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT! I'VE KILLED BETTER MEN FOR MUCH LESS AND HE DARED TO-! … As if I have any affliction as to whether he stays or goes… Ha! The mere thought…"
The teal-haired Vampire trampled some more. He was bristling beneath his coats and shirt. He was a man god damnit! He would not be made to feel this way!
"Hmph… How could that moronic animal even find his way out of the castle?..." He joked with a rich laugh, " He'll wander around for a few days and starve…! Pfft…serves him right…. wait…"
Suddenly Grimmjow stopped pacing. His face taking on a strange expression, " He was heading to the Works...worst of all ….THE LAB!… CHRIST, HE'S ALMOST WALKING RIGHT INTO IT!..." the man snarled shaking his fists at himself.
Grimmjow tentatively brought a tense hand up to his forehead and tried to rub away the giant migrane that was now forming, telling himself it would be fine. That he didn't need to intervene… right?
The Vampire battled with the task at hand psychotically. Wringing the air with his hands like it was the neck of that orange haired buffoon. After inanimately squabbling with space for what seemed like ages, he soon realized he had lost the war. Grimmjow's eyes became so wide they practically popped out of their sockets and he turned to rave at the ceiling like a bloody lunatic,
"OH, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!"
With that, he bolted back down the corridor in the direction he knew, he was inescapably going to choose no matter what…
Ichigo felt himself get slapped across the face and he woke up with a start. Grimmjow was standing over him looking- gee who would have guessed it- angry… but… his angriness seemed to stem… from worry.
The groggy teen whispered painfully, " You slapped me…"
True to his eyes the Vampire was looking more grumpy and nervous than angry while Ichigo rubbed his jaw.
"Well how else was I supposed to wake you!" The blue-haired man yelled losing his temper like always.
"How about with a gentle shake and some pancakes you maniac… What are you yelling at me for?" The teen grumbled sarcastically.
The blue-haired man's frown became more annoyed.
"Ichigo, tell me what happened." He said.
"Well see… there was this bastard… and he yelled at me… and so I round-house kicked him in the face and-"
Grimmjow hissed, "God damnit I'm not asking about our fight!"
"…Drats…" Ichigo laughed weakly. But as soon as the smile came, it went, dissipating when he became aware that he had been unconscious for no reason. That he had somehow slipped into the brink without warning. And most frightening of all, without memory.
It was a surreal experience. One minute walking along, and suddenly… a chunk of your life was missing… Now, Ichigo had blacked out many times before; so many times that he thought his brain had probably suffered some kind of damage because of it, but, at least he remembered it… He'd seen it coming… But being in the dark… completely in the dark? With not even the slightest grasp of why he went out at all?...Something wasn't right.
The teen felt the cool marble press into his palms and legs and asked, "Why …am I on the floor? …woah….w-woah..."
Grimmjow was growing impatient, "What happ-"
"I don't know!" Ichigo snapped.
He let out a sigh and glanced at the Vampire apologetically. The more he tried to remember the more freaked out he became. Grimmjow could see it in his eyes. He extended an arm to the Werin and he took it thankfully. Ichigo made sure not to touch any part of his arm that was not covered by cloth, as was the custom of the Vampirians. Slowly, the Vampire brought him to his feet.
The teen let go of him and leaned against a wall mumbling, "T-the last thing I remember was us arguing… and I-…ow… m-my hand… I…" Ichigo looked down to his bleeding knuckles which were barely moveable. This scared him at first, before realizing he'd done it himself.
The teen's head-long furlough with reality seemed to come to a crashing halt. Ichigo just couldn't remember. He had to accept it. But admits the chaos a queer thought crossed his mind.
As the Vampire watched his expression, slowly a smile came to Ichigo's face. His mind stirred with a new emotion that was as bright and warm as a pastel orange.
Ichigo turned to him with a level gaze, "You came back… " he said.
Grimmjow was mute. There it was again, that vibrant, deadlocked stare that was just as difficult to peer into as it was to understand. It wasn't angry, or sad. Or any emotion the teen could register with a title. Just intimidating. Analytical. Meaningful. Continuously scrutinizing everything going on around him. Ichigo wondered what made Grimmjow respond to some things and not to others… what his reasoning was for either.
Ichigo spoke a few moments later, "…I'm … sorry…ya know?..."
"I can feel it. You don't need to say it…." Grimmjow murmured calmly.
"I don't care if you can feel it, I want to say it." Ichigo countered. His tone of voice was altruistic and strong. The Vampire watched him coolly.
"… I was wrong. I was… upset…" the teen murmured expression hardening, "It's…It's just difficult for me right now… to be here…," Ichigo finally came up with "It …sucks, Grimmjow." He laughed sadly.
"I'm trying to be honest without soundin' like a brat, but I'm… not supposed to be here… I'm scared. Everywhere I go, I know I don't belong… do you know how terrifying that is?...It sucks….It really…sucks…"
The teen's eye rose again and caught sight of something. He walked towards it and reached behind Grimmjow, plucking his fallen hat from the floor. He dusted it off with a glove-clad hand and inspected it before pulling it purposely over his orange mess of hair. Grimmjow narrowed his eyes at the action, realizing just why he did it. After a moment of thought, the teen placed a hand on the wall where he had punched an indent the size of a skull.
He traced it wistfully with his eyes and whispered in a low voice, "God, I'm afraid to be here..."
It was a little hopeless wasn't it? What do you say to that? It wasn't a simple fix by any means, just a narrow hallway of doubt Grimmjow had walked along his entire life. Grimmjow, really had no idea what he could say. All he did was give a silent, intent stare to the back of the teen's head. The stare that usually was able to fill the empty places in conversation.
The Vampire placed his hand on the rim of the top hat. Ichigo's eyes widened as he felt the pressure of his hat disappear. His hands flew up to his head and sought it to no avail. Realizing it was gone, the teen gazed at Grimmjow who held it thoughtfully in his hands. Ichigo saw the exhaustion there in those icy blue eyes. The Vampire tossed the hat to the floor and thought,
How do you think I feel?...
Ichigo smiled, eyes crisp and warm from the action. He understood what Grimmjow meant. Feeling a slight wave of weariness the teen leaned into the wall behind him and closed his eyes. He didn't remember feeling this tired before.
The pensive Vampire reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out a cigarette. The flick of the lighter seemed to catch Ichigo's attention and the teen watched him silently. Grimmjow took notice. After another moment, the man slid his hand back to his breast pocket and this time removed a second cigarette. The teen's gaze flicked from it to Grimmjow's face. Ichigo took it, and it'd been lit before he even asked.
"…First time?" The Vampire asked.
"First hand, yeah. Second hand, nah. My dad was a smoker."
Grimmjow eyed him.
"…What was he like?" The Vampire asked, slipping to lean against the wall on the Werin's left.
"Overbearing. Childish. Funny. On rare occasion he would actually take the whole dad thing seriously. I think I liked him most when he did."
"What did he do?" Grimmjow's question received a smirk in turn as the teen murmured,
"Ironic." Grimmjow smiled.
"Mmhmm…" The teen tiredly met him with one of his own. Ugh, what was wrong with him? His legs felt like lead.
Ichigo had merely held the cigarette between his fingers while they spoke. He swayed his hand back and forth minutely, watching the silver creeping ribbons trickle from the tip and create a record of the movement of his hand. He loved smoke. He loved the way it moved at such an achingly slow pace. Kinking and churning smoothly in the air. The smell reminded him of the old living room that was permeated with the smell even though his father always tried to smoke outside. The memories made Ichigo smile.
Finally he put the cigarette to his mouth and inhaled a little. He breathed it out through his nose.
"You smoke menthol." Ichigo observed with a fanciful smile.
"It's smoother than straight tobacco. Plus, I just enjoy the taste." The Vampire's voice was such a rich slightly raspy baritone. His accent only enhanced it, and everything he said.
"That's like cannibalism." The teen snickered.
"I know, I'm terrible." Grimmjow snorted before taking another drag.
"You know what I always thought was funny about movies? When non-smokers are cast in a smoking role?"
"Enlighten me." The Vampire rasped cocking an eyebrow and smiling at the teen with the cigarette between his teeth.
"That they take a drag every two seconds because they think that's how you do it. Don't you think that's funny? How people think there's a magical technique that turns you into an iron lung smoking king? Like one of those Indian guys who smoke a hundred cigarettes at once for street money…. my dad always pointed it out in movies to me, making fun of the actor and saying, "Hey, Buddy, take a breath"!" Ichigo laughed.
"You know, I never understood those street performers either…," The teen announced, taking another inhale himself.
"You just have an opinion about everything, don't you?" Grimmjow mused.
"Well!" the teen cried defensively, "It's cause I'm like, 'If you have to beg for money to feed your five kids, then how the hell did you pay for all those cigarettes?' "
Grimmjow laughed wryly in amusement.
"And really? Camel lights? It doesn't matter what you buy- if you smoke 100 in one sitting and believe that by buying Camel lights you magically lessen the damage on your lungs, I don't think getting cancer is your biggest concern, buddy. "
The Vampire took the cigarette out of his mouth this time, laughing too much to keep it steady. Laughter; something Ichigo hadn't heard in quite a while. The teen was surprised; the longer they talked the funnier he apparently became. That was baffling to the teen. Grimmjow could be so easily angered, stoic, mute; but if you played your cards right he became talkative, easy to make laugh…and Ichigo's jokes were never funny.
Soon the both of them had settled again, taking individual drags in their silences.
"So tell me more about Vampires." Ichigo remarked with interest, flicking the end of his cigarette.
"Mn…." He agreed. The teal-haired man scratched his chin in thought; "Well" he began trying to think of a place to begin, "Why don't you just ask me questions?"
"What? But what if I don't ask a question you have an answer for?"
"Hm… " The Vampire nodded in amusement.
Ichigo seemed to come up with something though, "Well… I guess… I always wanted to know a bit more about the blood thing…"
"Like what?" Grimmjow asked.
"…Does it taste gross?"
Grimmjow laughed at the sheer absurdity of that question, "Well… I don't think so… When you become a Vampire, blood doesn't taste like it used to… the closest thing I can describe it to is… an essence…" he squeezed out the word.
"It's like drinking someone's soul, personality, energy what have you." He chuckled darkly, accent rolling with his depth. Ichigo couldn't help but feel a bit of chill as he spoke.
"So… if you feed on someone enough they'll become a soulless zombie?" Ichigo asked with wide eyes and a frown, "Vampires must have had an all-out buffet on my entire high school."
Grimmjow laughed again, god this kid was a fucking riot, "No, you don't change humans by feeding. Their energy replenishes with their blood…. But there is a folktale among Vampires that the people you feed off of, get a little tint of your personality after you feed. Injected into them from your bite. A little sliver of you that never goes away… I always thought that would be interesting if it were true…" The Vampire said the last with a vague smile.
"… Sounds fantastic, I know," He continued taking in the teen's baffled expression, "But that's what it tastes like. Most Vampires have a preference of sorts."
"What are the preferences?"
"Ohhh… like…" Grimmjow squinted his eyes and waved his hand in a circle like he were trying to wind out an example from thin air, "Angry people, they're bitter. Kind people are sweet. Body type to personality, that sort of thing."
Grimmjow thought for a moment before replying, "Well… I've never been too picky, I'll eat whoever's lying around…but I know Ulquiorra loyally weeds out the more intellectual prospects. He says, 'they're perfectly aged delicacies and are an undeniable match for his palate'. I saw him drink an idiot once. He had to out of necessity, for we'd been trapped in a crate for almost a month drinking nothing but bilge rats and-"
Ichigo gave him a look.
"It's a long story…," the Vampire laughed, "Anyway, as soon as we got off the boat he found himself in the most deplorable of moods. That lovely phase lasted for at least a year…. He said that's how long it took for him to get the taste out of his mouth. If you ask me, I say he's just ignorant to the fact that he's more stubborn than I am. 'Never again!', he shouted at me, 'Next time I'll drink the bloody captain and you get the deckhand!'...Ah, that was a miserable boat ride… "
The Vampire couldn't help but become rife with chuckling and continued Ulquiorra's rant, "He had scurvy!"
Ichigo snorted imagining a salt-stained Ulquiorra curdling and screaming at the top of his lungs on a dock to a complacent Grimmjow shuffling behind him like a perturbed spouse.
Ichigo inhaled from the cigarette again and sensuously slid the smoke from his lips racking his brain for ideas.
"Do you really sleep in coffins?" he asked; questions randomly popping into his mind.
Grimmjow groaned through a smile, "Christ, of course not…" Then Grimmjow took on a jesting tone, " C'mon Ichigo do I really look like a man who would sleep without sheets? That would be barbaric."
Ichigo cackled, "Really? I thought that was true!"
"Yes. Traveling by coffin, sure. Free from expense. Nice nap. No sun- but we really try to avoid that business as much as possible. You know how it is… How many coffins can randomly disappear or turn up empty before someone starts asking questions…" The Vampire rolled his eyes in a very annoyed tone before turning to the teen and informing him, "But! Sleeping upside down is a normalcy."
"What?" Ichigo furrowed his eye brows, "Isn't that uncomfortable?-"
As Ichigo looked over to his right, he realized Grimmjow had disappeared. The teen looked confused, "Grimmjow?... What the…?"
Just then a cigarette butt fell from the sky, dropping to the marble just a few feet away from Ichigo's shoe. Ichigo slunk back from it and looked up, seeing a smiling Grimmjow pull a replacement from his breast pocket. He masterly flicked open the lighter in a way as to not burn himself, seeming to have learned from years of practice that the flame tilted towards the ceiling. He puckered his lips slightly drawing the nicotine into his lungs. He exhaled still smiling like a feral cat. Grimmjow didn't seem to care about smiling with his teeth as most Vampires did. He carelessly showed his fangs without a thought in the world as to how they'd be taken. But then Ichigo realized, that maybe the person he ever smiled around, was someone who wouldn't know the custom. That someone being Ichigo.
The Werin couldn't help but think that was somehow nice… a private thing between them. But he dusted the thought away. He probably didn't follow the custom around anyone anyway. Grimmjow wasn't one for rules.
The teen thought it looked funny as the smoke slid slowly sideways past Grimmjow's face. Ichigo caught sight of the golden chain of Grimmjow's pocket watch as it dangled towards the floor along with any other loose articles of clothing or, in a non-clothing regard, his vibrant teal hair.
He was simply standing there on the wall as effortlessly as a shelf. His feet were firmly planted, as if he were just standing on the ground and nothing out of the ordinary were happening at all. Nothing like, defying the very laws of gravity themselves. Magic, Ichigo thought, was a wonderful, wonderful thing. Something thriving inside both the Vampire and Werin races. Something that made their very existence, possible.
The vampire tucked the cigarette in his mouth between his middle and index finger. He took a few strides, stepping on and off one of the windows lining the corridor, as if it were a mere stepping stone to the marvelous man. He exhaled through his nose leaving a trail of smoke swirling in his wake. Ichigo was extremely amused.
"Yeah, kid it's very uncomfortable," Grimmjow sneered, strolling down to ground level again without paying any mind to the 90 degree tilt he'd just taken.
"Go ahead, let me break a few more intrinsic Vampiric legends before your innocent eyes." Grimmjow commanded while adjusting the cravat around his neck.
Ichigo squinted his said innocent eyes in thought before exclaiming loudly, "…Garlic!"
"Poppycock," he scoffed, "I knew a Vampire who's base was the Garlic plant. Laughing stock of the entire Vampire world."
"Oh that's what you call it? Their base? Like mint is yours?"
"Yep, what you so strangely know we smell like, that's our base. Take pride in the fact that no other Werin probably knows of them."
Ichigo wiggled his cigarette between his teeth in thought. It wagged up and down as if it were saluting something. Grimmjow had honestly never seen someone do that before. He thought it was silly.
"Stakes?" Ichigo questioned crinkling his nose. His cigarette was stilled.
"I believe, anyone who gets a wooden object stabbed through their chest is going to die. Vampires are not entirely exempt from this…"
"But… aren't you guys immortal?" The teen murmured in confusion.
"We can't die, but we can be killed… do you understand? I'm sure I said this before…"
"…Uh… no…" The teen assured Grimmjow, but wasn't convinced he hadn't himself. Ichigo was honest. He didn't have the greatest memory…
Like I wasn't already aware of that. Grimmjow taunted.
Shoo. Shoo, out of my brain you silly Vampire. We're speaking now. Not thinking. Ichigo thought to him, placing a finger before the taller man's face. Grimmjow blinked drowsily at it.
Why? he asked with curiosity.
Because… I like to have a mental filter between my mouth and my mind. So I have a moment to really think out what I'm going to say before I blurt out something idiotic and callous.
My, how very mature of you… now what do you really want to talk for? Grimmjow's smirk was similar to that of a coyote.
Ichigo looked into those sharp blue eyes with a stern response.
"No, no, no. You just answer my question, fiend." The teen said pointing at him with a straight face.
"Well," Grimmjow began sarcastically with raised eyebrows, "Alright your majesty… Like I've said before…Natural causes like illness and age, do not affect us. Unnatural causes, such as…oh I don't know- a stake to the chest?- affects us as it would any human…. Well… we're a little bit more durable than humans…" He laughed.
"All's fine in that category. That's a Werin's fable, isn't it? "
"Unfortunately…" Ichigo grumbled, "Tried it out once… held a silver pen Urahara was throwing out, just to see if it was true and burned my hand like an idiot. Shame, cause it was a really nice pen too…"
"…How does that work out?" The Vampire pondered with furrowed brows.
"Well," Ichigo began, "It's not so bad. It has to do with the alchemy that made us. Silver was a price we paid for our biology… Can't wear it, but it's not like it's something that I see every day, so I'm fine with it."
The teen flashed Grimmjow his opened left hand. There lingered there a faint ghostly scar that traced the place where he would grip a pen. It was so light that you wouldn't think anything of it unless he'd told you of the incident before-hand. All in all, the Vampire thought it was quite fascinating.
Ichigo laughed out loud when he heard Grimmjow think that.
"What?" The Vampire asked.
"Sorry, I thought it was funny that you said before hand. Get it? Before-hand?" Ichigo laughed while he waved around his hand.
Although the Vampire thought he was an idiot he couldn't help but laugh along. There was something about Ichigo's that was infectious.
Grimmjow looked at his own fingers now, making them dance beneath his vision. His eyes were cemented to the clinking antique rings that had been upon his fingers for so long, he had forgotten if he'd ever removed them at all. He wondered what it would be like to live without ever touching silver in his life… Ichigo noticed him staring at the rings. Rings made out of the very thing the Werin found deathly toxic.
"Oh!" He suddenly announced, "I've still got those imprinted in my skin!"
The teen shouted this with a tone that was much too gleeful for what he'd just said. Grimmjow gazed at him slightly shaken, he didn't really know how to respond to something like that.
"Look!" Ichigo cheered light-heartedly, beginning to un-button his black smoking jacket.
"…" Grimmjow's eyes traveled to the fingers with suddenly undivided attention.
The teen turned around and lifted his shirt. As the fabric rose, the supple skin of his back became exposed. The boy's tan, well-muscled flesh made Grimmjow blink several times and clear his throat. The many scattered battle-scars which he championed were, true to his word, almost perfect casts of the jewelry the Vampire bore. They were much more apparent than the scar on the boy's hand, but Grimmjow assumed that within a few years, they'd become indistinguishable from skin once more.
"They're the coolest scars I've ever gotten. Thanks!" He said extraordinarily happy.
Grimmjow just blinked. It was, he had to admit, very intriguing. He flashed a smile, imagining the teen using them as a conversation piece at dinner parties.
"Well you know what's good about it, is that there would have been a lot more if it weren't for my fur. It's real thick, ya know? So it protects me from skin on skin contact. In human form, I'm a lot more… well… unprotected you could say, haha." The teen called over his shoulder, his face glowing with pride. Grimmjow adjusted the collar of his shirt, overwhelmed with the teen's bridging emotions. A happiness that was almost unbearable. Almost.
"You enjoy fighting?" Grimmjow said with a smile that seemed too thoughtful for his own good.
"I do." He beamed. But then in a wave of recollection he sobered and added, "…sometimes."
Grimmjow watched him slowly lower the shirt over his body again. The Vampire listened to each individual rustle of fabric as the teen re-buttoned his shirt. Ichigo focused his gaze back on the Vampire.
"You know, before I fought you… I was afraid…"
"Oh?" Grimmjow asked quietly placing his cigarette to his mouth.
"Yes…. I'd never really… hurt someone before."
"… You were afraid to hurt me?" The Vampire turned to him again with a look of intrigue.
"Yeah…" Ichigo almost looked sick with himself, "I'd only sparred before. Sure it got rough sometimes, but it was all in good fun. We… were never fighting to inflict pain. God forbid… to kill each other."
"It's not easy to train anyone to do that. Soldier or not." The man said in a calm yet commanding tone.
Ichigo just gnawed his lip.
"There are as many reasons to fight as there are people, Ichigo. Different moods that a fight can take on. Sparring is usually between friends- it's happy, exciting. It's to prove yourself, or to disprove your companion. That's how soldiers train. Do you think it gets any better when they have a living, breathing human in front of them that they're not ordered to fight- but to kill? No. Not at all… But they do...
Fighting for your life is different than fighting to kill your opponent. Fighting to inflict pain, is different than fighting to protect something… Being afraid to fight someone, not for the normal response of being hurt… but because you'd never inflicted hurt… at least not purposefully…. You could never be a soldier Ichigo."
The teen was speechless.
"… W-well… I…" Ichigo was actually quite put off with that response, considering the fact that he'd believed he gave as good as he got in the fight all considering...
The Vampire could feel this across their mental ties.
"I've offended you." Grimmjow muttered in surprise. Ichigo could almost feel those intense eyes stab into him.
"This was not my intent." He assured.
Ichigo's brows furrowed in confusion as he took another drag from his dwindling cigarette.
Grimmjow got this sort of majestic look on his face as he took the cigarette from his lips. He spoke with a proud kind of honesty as if he were saying something very important,
"A soldier… follows the orders of his superior with diligence, with skill, and most importantly- without question... A soldier sometimes must do things… that are not glamorous. That are not even shy of being heroic, for the sake of their orders- not their principles. Although most young men run to war for the sake of something they love, or the pride that comes with it- it often disappoints them greatly when they realize, they are not fighting their war… it's always someone else's…
The only thing that makes a soldier useful to an officer, is not their bravery, or their compassion- but their absolute acceptance of their officer's command… Following it to the letter even at the cost of their life. Being a soldier, Ichigo, is only glorious if you've never truly been one. To a soldier, it's just a job. And much of it, they're not proud of. The end result? Sure. But truly, they've lost a part of themselves they can never reclaim. Part of being a good soldier is an assurance that you will stay obedient… It must be done, I will not deny that. They do a great service… but at the same time… they must pay a price… a very high price…
You see… the reason why I have a bit of a jaded view on the subject, is that ….I was once a soldier myself. Running off to war, not truly because I had a reason, but because I had nowhere else to go. I was a screw up to my father, and the only place I was sending him was the poor house. But on a soldier's prestige, my father would finally be accepted into nobleman's parties. Marry again, I thought, live happily. God it was so long ago Ichigo… so long… It took me awhile, but finally… I realized that I was only there so I could run away. Run away from normal life to vent my frustration out blindly in a world of my own.
As soon as I touched my first battlefield… I learned war was never a matter of right or wrong, it was simply always a matter of who was more right… who's cause had a higher body count than the other's…
Apparently Britain was very, very right about just about everything… I didn't have that fear that you had Ichigo.
I was never afraid to hurt someone else. All I wanted was to be the best at it. To finally… do something well. And I was damn good Ichigo… damn good… too good…
So you see Ichigo, when I said you could never be a soldier…. I wasn't insulting you in the slightest…"
The teen was in rapture with the Vampire's form as he told him this. This was probably the most meaningful thing the man had ever told him. It was very personal, the teen thought. It was also very kind. Ichigo could feel his face warm as Grimmjow turned to him again. Starring with those provocative teal eyes.
"I see…" Ichigo whispered with a tenderness foreign to his own ears. Again, the teen pulsed with those warm churning feelings of joy that Grimmjow was trying to become accustomed to. But then the Werin gave a look of pity and furrowed his eyes brows.
"I'm sorry." He said.
Grimmjow gave a questioning stare and asked, "Why's that?"
"…I feel like I've said something callous again." Ichigo let out an apologetic laugh before he rubbed the back of his simmering neck.
The Vampire shook his head, void from any reckoning of the kind, "Perfectly fine."
A moment of silence passed between the pair, and Ichigo sighed. The teen began walking away and beckoned for the Vampire to follow him. Grimmjow made no argument. He walked up to Ichigo's left with his cigarette dangling between his lips. They walked slowly, at a pace they didn't really notice themselves. It felt very natural to stay silent, as if they could both relax. Ichigo was leading, and Grimmjow didn't seem to mind, simply wondering where he would be taken.
They walked past the area where the group of teens had once been, but they had dismantled. It was sunset now and most Vampires were just starting to come out for the night. Grimmjow took the lead at that moment and led Ichigo away as to not attract attention to themselves. The teen enjoyed watching people interact with each other and was a little disheartened that Grimmjow led him down an empty hallway that led up a stair well. Ichigo climbed the stairs imagining what the flurry of activity below was about.
Grimmjow heard this.
He paused before leading Ichigo up out of the stair well and out onto the balcony that hung above the shops and fountains. The teen clung to the railing like he were about to jump off of it. He smiled as he took in the lights and the huge number of Vampires that had suddenly appeared. From the mingling of sounds that trickled below one rose up out of the throng and it said, "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY STORE WINDOW!"
Ichigo slunk down a little, laughing to himself. Grimmjow stood beside him, watching over the mass of Vampires like a majestic shadow.
"Do you come here often?" the teen asked quietly, smiling as the colored lights from the shop windows highlighted his face with neon red. Grimmjow was, on the other hand, lit up with a blinking blue.
"Sometimes." Grimmjow said with a thoughtful expression, "I'll probably be here tomorrow for sure."
The teen gazed at him with a questioning stare before turning back to watch the rippling crowd. After a moment he soundlessly walked away from it and began walking again. Grimmjow followed him.
"So, what was he like?" Ichigo murmured as a green hue from a sign stretched across his face and then disappeared.
"Who?" Grimmjow asked.
"Your father…" he replied a little quieter.
"Ah… well… He was a decent man. A hard working man… he loved his wife very much."
"You mean your mother?"
They walked along for a few more moments. The only sounds that passed between were the echoes of their footsteps and the voices down below.
"Were they happy?"
Grimmjow wondered why the teen asked that.
"Well they were until she died."
Ichigo stopped walking. The Vampire acknowledged this and examined him. Suddenly the image of a little boy with sunny orange hair holding onto the bloody body of a woman passed before Grimmjow's eyes. He studied it well. The teen coughed uncomfortably and began walking again.
"I'm sorry to hear that." Ichigo said a little colder.
"Yours too…" The Vampire whispered to his now bristling companion as they continued walking.
"I was 9 when it happened." The teen appeared bitter.
"Wow…" he sounded surprised, "…You never even got to know yours…"
"Blessing, really... I believe I was given a kinder fate by not knowing her." The man said with a look of pity for Ichigo's plight, he noticed one was being tossed his way too. He thought it was interesting.
"I guess…" The teen slightly agreed. But he believed having had one at all was a blessing, even if she was taken away from him.
"Well, anyway…" Grimmjow coughed trying not to get sappy. His eyes became commanding again and he reported, "Yes they'd been very happy. My father never let me go a day without telling me so. I got sick of hearing it. Whenever I was upset 'Don't make that face or your mother will see it.', 'My, you've got your mother's eyes.' …Christ it got old… but still… I think back on it now and I… mm…" The Vampire stopped himself and let his voice trail off.
It was hard to picture the Vampire's views considering… his family was dead. The realization of this almost made Ichigo jump. It was silly to come to terms with that now, when it was fairly obvious… but honestly it just slipped his mind. Forgetting how old the Vampire was. It was hard to even imagine he was talking to someone so seasoned. Who really had lived through so much. Ichigo tried not to think about it, actually… it just made him nervous. Incredibly nervous. The teen sighed and wondered how lonely it must have felt to lose everyone…
"I didn't have a large family Kurosaki … The more people in a family, the more to die off. "
"Well," Ichigo said, "that's… enlightening." He mumbled shell-shocked.
"I… just guess I never heard someone refer to a family like that…" Although the teen was smiling, a disturbing feeling settled in his gut. Was that how Grimmjow saw people? Just…things to mourn? Ichigo couldn't have possibly looked any more hopeless.
The Vampire looked away from him.
"I'll be fine Ichigo." He whispered.
He caught the teen's attention.
Although he did not smile, Grimmjow met his gaze with a look that was almost as gentle and worn as his voice,
"Don't you worry. I'll be fine."
The teen swallowed and ripped his eyes off the Vampire, hoping the tingling in his spine would cease. He squinted his eyes and felt his face burn. It did not.
"So," Ichigo changed the subject again practically squirming, "What about animals?"
Grimmjow frowned in confusion and stopped walking, "What?"
Ichigo turned with an expectant look, "Can animals become Vampires too?"
"Well…" Grimmjow cocked his head to the side with a perplexed expression, "…I… Maybe…?... I'm… not quite sure."
"…Hm… Somehow I doubt it would work out. People would find out too easily. I mean, it's not everyday fido starts drinking blood and walking up walls. I think if it were possible, it'd be more notarized."
"Well it might be" Grimmjow said in thought, "Many towns have story about demonic animals and rubbish of that nature. It might not be so farfetched..."
"Huh…" Ichigo murmured peering at nothing in thought.
"Anymore modern marvels?" The Vampire cooed, exhaling a swirl of smoke.
"What does it feel like to have blue-hair?"
"I don't know, how's shedding?"
Ichigo snorted and burst into laughter.
"What's it like being older than the Declaration of Independence?"
"Do you really have to lick yourself clean?"
Ichigo burst out laughing again, feeling one uped,
"You suck." Ichigo sneered slapping the Vampire's arm.
"Alright, well… Let's just say I haven't been out since 1942 so… I guess I don't really know how it would be taken in your society, but let's just say- 1740. Not so forgiving. I actually had to wear a wig quite often. Eventually I just stopped caring whether or not anyone bothered about my hair all together and told people the most fantastic stories."
"Whaaat?" Ichigo asked excitedly, "Like what?"
"I ate some bad beef. I died for five minutes. I slept outside too much. Was ordained by the pope. Blamed it on the French- oh so many stories, Ichigo. You wouldn't believe the kind of slop people believed. It was hilarious. Sometimes I just told people the truth, 'I'm a Vampire' and people just laughed and laughed. I never really understood why it was so hard to picture it…- oh, but you know probably the best way I got rid of it was by walking around as a 70 year old man. My hair turns grey at that age… or would if I weren't a Vampire."
"…What's it like never getting older?..." Ichigo whispered. The teen couldn't help but still be in awe of that more than anything. Not the walking up walls, the speed, the blood- nothing made him more excited to learn about Vampires than their eternal life. A race that waited in the shadows of humanity and watched the events of the world like some omnipotent beings. It was amazing.
"What's it like to turn into something else?" Grimmjow asked with the same amount of awe. Changing, growing. Becoming an animal. The Vampire thought that would be such a freeing thing.
Ichigo laughed kindly, "What do you mean something else? I don't turn into anything but myself."
Grimmjow's eyes trailed over him. This seemed somehow profound. He smiled and instead answered Ichigo.
"…well…I liked it at first. Then I started walking around like an old man more and more. Appearing how I felt.… I have lived as every age I could- just as any human. But I never had to do it in chronological order-nor did I die because of it."
The teen smiled like he was watching a carnival. He came to the opposite end of the balcony and began walking down the white marble stair well hearing Grimmjow follow behind.
As their steps echoed around the stone, Ichigo cooed, "Life without restrictions."
"Oh I wouldn't say there are no restrictions…" The Vampire scoffed. Somehow hearing his voice in such a contained space made it so much more powerful. Ichigo felt a chill from it, realizing how close the Vampire was behind him. He tried not to think of it in case Grimmjow heard his thoughts. Ichigo sighed at ease when the Vampire started talking.
"Drinking blood is dangerous in itself." He continued without any inkling to Ichigo's questionable thoughts.
"When people think there's a Vampire in their midst they start breaking out the ropes and pitchforks, so there's not many chances for a casual meal. Also, no sun. That's a huge restriction. You have to sleep all day, feed at night, and hope you can find a good resting place by dawn. Can only travel at night or by some god awful means. No children… Being cautious becomes a way of life."
"Wait… so if that's how you lived, how did you join the army?"
"Well I got into the practice of bandaging my face. You're basically covered head to toe in the uniform. Gloves, boots, hat. I only had to cover my face. So, said I got acid thrown in my face and walked around in bandages for most of my tours. I became an urban legend amongst the ranks. No one but my officers knew my true identity; I was said to be able to fight with the strength of twenty men, sweeping down enemy after enemy, as the 'Veteran'."
"You sound like a horror movie." Ichigo laughed imagining some kind of 'invisible man' beating the shit out of people.
"Oh?" Grimmjow said furrowing his eyebrows and rubbing his face, "Really?... I always thought it was quite a clever idea… I did it out of the army too. Almost everyday. It actually felt quite relaxing. No one being able to see your face…"
"Oh I'm sure it was. But all the other dudes on your side were probably scared shitless when you ghosted around. Out of the army too."
"Oh that wasn't fear, it was respect…" The Vampire scoffed, sticking to his guns.
Ichigo eyed him with a skeptical smile.
"Alright there may have been a little fear…" Grimmjow confessed slightly waving his hand about, as they exited the stair well.
"Nobody talked to you much did they?"
"Well, that's because my mouth was muffled!- ok no…"
Ichigo laughed again as the Vampire reluctantly agreed.
"Hey." He said quietly
"Hm?" Ichigo said as the other caught his attention again.
"We're at the Infirmary." The Vampire said gesturing in front of him.
True to his word the surprised teen whipped around and there were the infirmary doors. Suddenly a small boy flew out of them, his hair a glaring deep red. He seemed to be mumbling to himself. Ichigo and Grimmjow were standing a ways away and had not been spotted yet.
"Agh!" Ichigo hissed pushing Grimmjow into the nook of a corridor between a stone pillar and a statue of a lion. The Vampire frowned and looked most displeased. He was quietly arguing every step.
"Hey… wait…excuse me… Ichigo!" Finally the man was pushed into the shadowy cove, pressed uncomfortably against a stone lion and a hard place. The teen was right beside him, giving him the universal sign of silence. By flipping him off.
Jinta's footsteps faded away but the teen stayed where he was.
"Ichigo-" The man said in his normal voice range before being cut off.
"Shh!" Ichigo threatened, there was a hint of desperation in his face, "I'm not going back there!"
The Vampire gave him a deflated look and sighed, "I'll take you somewhere you can stay- but don't leave there. Not until I get this sorted- is that clear?"
Ichigo gave him a look over his shoulder. One of surprise. One of grateful thanks. Grimmjow cleared his throat and frowned, feeling strange about seeing such a face thrown in his direction. He felt like he was helping a prisoner escape from the pen or something.
"…Thank you." He whispered. Ichigo began to inch out of the shadowy corner and look around, while Grimmjow just stormed right out into the open. The teen gulped and followed, trying to stay calm.
"You're also going to have to give back that get-up."
The teen immediately protested, "What? Why!"
"Well, the tailor who made it, will first strip you, and then rip you apart."
"…Is… there any way I can pay for it? I-I can work. Or…" The teen stuttered with worry, looking down at the clothes he'd just become accustomed to wearing.
Grimmjow shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'll let you borrow something of mine."
The teen looked around with wide eyes trying to process that. They would be the same size give or take a little in height. But… It would be Grimmjow's… something about that made Ichigo go blank. But before he could pay more mind to the offer, he shook his head to clear it and continued to follow him down the hall before he was left behind.
"Cat, what a surprise. Oh, and look at you. Sharp as a thumb tack. Where'd you get those clothes?" Came a familiar eccentric voice from the green house.
"Hey, Ulquiorra." The teen laughed as he ran down the iron steps, hearing them creak and shutter from his energetic entry. He was wearing a white long-sleeve shirt, simple grey pants, black suspenders and black boots that looked eerily familiar. Not tri-buckle gaiters mind you, but something Ulquiorra recognized from his … friend's private collection…
"I just borrowed 'em to work here," Ichigo said.
"I see that." Ulquiorra said with a meaningful tone.
As the teen jogged up to the black-haired man's side, he asked, "We're re-planting the orchids today right?"
"My, full of energy already." The man said with a tired looking smile. Ichigo faltered slightly, after noticing it.
As Ulquiorra watered a bundle of mums, his eyes seemed duller somehow. Like he'd been frazzled. Even his voice seemed a little weak.
"Are you ok?" The boy asked in concern.
Ichigo caught his attention then, and Ulquiorra looked at him a strange way. As if by saying, 'Oh if only you knew'…. The man smiled and went back to his work before saying, "Of course, son. Let's go find those orchids…"
Ichigo had just finished setting the white exotic-looking flowers in a new larger pot, packing the wet dirt down gently with his fingers. He'd become used to things like this. Taking care of the flowers. He smiled as he worked, happy to not only feel useful for the first time since he got here, but also to help the kindly ground's keeper. He looked up at him from the floor of the green house. He was lucky the man wasn't pushing him out and telling him to walk back to the Infirmary tonight.
The dark-haired man was pruning some of the larger trees. Making sure to cut off any withered or brown foliage to make sure that no dead weight sapped life from them. Ulquiorra noticed him and smiled in his direction.
"Good job, Ichigo. You're really an excellent gardener."
Ichigo held up his piece of work, dirt covering his arms, "You think?"
The dark-haired Vampire began to ease his way down the steps of his ladder before assuring, "Absolutely."
"So… Ichigo. How was your day? I don't think I asked you yet?" Ulquiorra's voice was so mild and genial when speaking to him, that it made Ichigo feel like an old friend.
"Well," The teen said with a suddenly whimsical smile, "I stole some clothes."
"Well, not these clothes. Some nice ones… But I had to give them back." Ichigo's face became serious as he announced, " I was actually trying to escape today."
"What?" Ulquiorra's eyes went wide. He almost looked… sad.
Ichigo was not prepared for that reaction and felt exceedingly guilty. He looked down to his feet and said, "Well… I dunno… I just got antsy I guess… I don't feel right here. I've been trapped in that Infirmary for two weeks. I just didn't know what to do anymore…"
"Oh, Ichigo…" Ulquiorra whispered, coming down to his eye-level. "And I've been pushing you out of here when you needed to be around someone most. I'm so sorry…"
"It's not your fault, Ulquiorra." The teen said with a forgiving smile.
The dark-haired man stared at the orchid for a minute before turning back to Ichigo, "Why were you stuck in the Infirmary for so long?"
Ichigo shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know."
His voice became a little darker, "Wass it… Grimmjow?"
"Well… it was… but then…" Ichigo said happily.
The black-haired man looked confused.
"Well, he came after me you know? At first I thought he was doing it to save his own skin. But… we started talking. I don't feel angry anymore. Grimmjow also got me my own place without guards. Gave me his clothes… He was really nice today. I think we both just started off on the wrong foot. I mena, sure he's still infuriating but, well… I like him. I like that part of him too… I've realized how… alone he is I guess… Haha we didn't even talk about why he was gone, but… I don't even care anymore…" The teen said this with a sweet smile on his face. His eyes took on a gentleness that made Ulquiorra look horrified.
"No!" Ulquiorra said waving his hands in front of the teen's face, "Don't make that face when you're talking about that scoundrel!"
Ichigo couldn't help but laugh out loud, "What? But he's a nice scoundrel!"
Ulquiorra smiled and shook his head, knowing he wouldn't get through to Ichigo. He never thought this would happen. Of all the crazy things to happen in this world. Never did he see this.
He sighed, "…I see. Well, I'm glad he's finally doing what he was supposed to… That's something I guess…"
Ichigo felt a bitter tone in his voice and decided not to ask about it.
"Alright, but just be careful, Cat. Promise me you won't let him be a bastard to you. If he does anything to you, just tell me and I will break his neck like I should have twenty years ago. Make sure he gives you a good, bloody reason for abandoning you too."
"I promise." The teen nodded with a sincere smile.
"Oh, I also wanted to talk to you about your education. I want to help too. So if you have any questions. Any at all, you can come to me and I'll give you my expert opinion."
"Oh no, if I get too smart you'll drink me dry." The teen laughed.
"Oh! So Grimmjow told you that too did he? Hmmph!" Ulquiorra said folding his arms in indignation.
"Yeah he told me about most Vampire abilities. Walking up walls, that kind of stuff… oh… Ulquiorra. Does Grimmjow really not have a preference?" The teen asked with one of his eye brows cocked.
"What?" Ulquiorra snorted, "Like that beast has any taste whatsoever! He'll eat anything!..."
Ichigo smiled, "Really? Not even a glimmer of a type?"
"Well…Oh now I remember…" Ulquiorra said with a glimmer in his eye as a memory played in his mind, "Grimmjow liked soldiers."
"Hm?" Ichigo asked in surprise.
"Although he never really sought them out, he did enjoy people with a real sense of wickedness, or fight about them. He was also pretty daring. He liked to challenge himself. I told him not to play with his food, but he never listened!"
The Werin enjoyed hearing the way the two old friends talk about each other. He said, "For two people who always seem to pick on each other, you sure are close."
The Vampire gazed at him with a curious stare, "You think so?"
"Oh yeah! You two are always talking about the other. It's kind of obvious. You guys have issues, but Grimmjow really looks up to you."
"…" Ulquiorra was silent, just staring at the orchid in Ichigo's hands. He sighed a little.
"Well!" Ichigo announced getting up and dusting off his pants before extending a hand to Ulquiorra. The Vampire took it with a noticeably awkward face at the skin-to-skin contact but dusted himself off as well without any real thought to it.
Ichigo continued, placing the orchid on the table and cracking his back, "Would you like me to water, Ulquiorra? Do you have anything else you need me to do?"
"No Ichigo, I think they'll be fine till after tomorrow. The Ball always does them well." The Vampire said with a mysterious smile.
Ichigo cocked an eye brow, "…Huh?"
"The Ball. Tomorrow's the Summer Solstice, Ichigo. We celebrate things like that. The longest day of the year, and all that… Grimmjow didn't tell you? What an ass! Don't worry, I'll get you ready. Why don't we talk to the Queen tomorrow as well? Finally introduce the two of you. Since it should have been done ages ago. You should have talked to her about the Infirmary a long time ago. She can't keep track of what Grimmjow does anyway. It'll be fun. What room are you staying in?"
"I'd like that." The teen said before continuing, "I'm staying in the Stained Glass Wing somewhere near your room."
Ulquiorra opened his mouth and it just sort of hung there, "Excuse me?"
"The only suite that's not occupied on the floor…is…Christ..…That's…well… I guess it's somewhere no one will look for you... But we need to move you- tomorrow. Grimmjow's a damn fool for putting you there…"
"What's wrong?" The teen asked in confusion.
Ulquiorra blinked, "…I… I'll let that idiot tell you himself. You ask- no, you demand it."
Ichigo sighed, obviously feeling completely creeped out about staying in the room now but he decided not to push it.
"Alright, Ulquiorra. But it's nice living so close isn't it?" Ichigo said with a trying smile.
The dark-haired Vampire chuckled, "Of course, but if you need to stay somewhere we will talk to the Queen about it tomorrow and she'll… give you a better room. My room's a bit of a mess from… earlier today or else I would ask you to stay with me. Just sleep there tonight. I'll be round tomorrow, alright?"
"Ok." Ichigo agreed. As he cleaned off his hands in the sink he turned and asked, "So… what happens at one of these… celebrations?"
Ulquiorra looked thoughtful for a moment before smiling and, in the mysterious of tones said, "All sorts of things..."