Disclaimer: Don't own BLEACH. The awesomeness belongs to Aiz – I mean Kubo Tite.
Quotes from chapter 294-297. I love relating from canon, even if it might mean that I have no originality… Sigh, but oh well. This is unbeta'd, plus it's action-filled and I suck at writing action scenes but I hope you'll still enjoy it. :)
"Looking for me?" a sinister voice asked from behind them and a gunshot rang out.
Shawlong fell to the floor, groaning as he clutched his wounded abdomen. Grimmjow snarled and attacked the eye-patched man, unsheathing his katana and slashing it at the taller man. Ichigo stared at the two, but moved to Shawlong's side where he immediately took action to stop the bleeding at least.
"Halibel-san!! Nell!!" Ichigo yelled, hoping his voice could be carried to the hall where the women were. From what he learned earlier, Grimmjow was Sexta – the sixth strongest, and that Nnoitora was fifth. There was a chance Grimmjow would lose. Both of them were hacking at each other's swords, slashing and parrying, punching and grappling.
"Ya could've shot me, dumb shit," Grimmjow sneered at the other man as their swords clashed.
"Nah, I'd rather have the pleasure of killin' ya with my own hands," Nnoitora grinned menacingly. "'Sides, that new kid of yours doesn't look like he can hurt a fly." Grimmjow growled and pushed down Nnoitora's sword, making enough way for Grimmjow to head butt the man, making him reel back. Grimmjow moved to slash at him but Nnoitora grabbed the blade with his bare hand. "Tch, you and your hard head. Did ya forget? I'm the one with the highest pain tolerance among the Espada!" The Quinto thrust his katana into Grimmjow, who managed to move back by letting go of his own katana but still got a deep cut on his chest.
"Grimmjow!" Ichigo cried, picking up his sword and rushing towards Nnoitora. He was stopped by someone, who appeared before him just as he reached a few feet from the Quinto. It was a sandy-haired young man, with an eye-patch over his right eye. He wore a white suit and black gloves, and had a number 5 shaped badge on his collar.
"Tesla! Why the fuck are you here? Didn't I tell ya to take care of Grimmjow's fraccion?!" Nnoitora yelled at the man.
"I did, Nnoitora-sama. But protecting you is a more important duty," Tesla said politely. He drew his katana and got into a stance as he faced Ichigo.
"Tch, do whatever the fuck ya want. I'll deal with ya later," Nnoitora said and turned back to Grimmjow who was now unarmed after Nnoitora had tossed the blade away. "Now it's easier to kill ya." Nnoitora stepped forward with a thrust of his heavy sword. Grimmjow side-stepped and moved in, punching the tall man and grabbing the back of the man's head to bring it down to his knee. Nnoitora grunted and staggered back, his nose bleeding. Grimmjow smirked at him.
"Did ya forget? I'm the best unarmed fighter among the Espada," Grimmjow reminded him smugly. Nnoitora spat out some blood and scoffed at him.
"We'll see," Nnoitora said and slashed his sword at him. Grimmjow was faster, so he easily evaded Nnoitora's slower and heavier attacks.
Meanwhile, Ichigo was struggling with his opponent Tesla. The man was much more experienced with a sword, and also in battle. Ichigo was already covered in cuts, his new suit quite shredded from narrowly evading the man's relentless attacks. Where the hell were Nell and Halibel? The noise downstairs seemed never-ending, as if the amount of me coming in was ceaseless. Ichigo felt a sense of hopelessness creeping in.
Ichigo's eyes glanced at Grimmjow, who seemed to be having little trouble. He remembered the first time the man had been aggressive, and how graceful he looked despite the violence. It looked as if he was taking the upper hand until Nnoitora gave a low growl and swung his sword once again. Grimmjow moved as usual, side-stepping, but was taken by surprise when Nnoitora's other hand moved from the side and grabbed his arm, pulling him in and stabbed Grimmjow in the stomach. Nnoitora grinned as half of the blade's length went through the Sexta's body.
"Grimmjow!!!" Ichigo screamed, his voice hoarse from exhaustion and shock. He began to run towards the two, but Tesla stepped in.
"You're not interrupting!" the man said but was cut off by a hard punch from Ichigo. He could hear the loud crack of the jaw as his punch landed on the man's face, but took no chances and slashed his sword down. Tesla looked shock by the sudden melee attack and the pain that seared through his upper body but retaliated, swinging his own sword towards Ichigo.
The two Espada were still in a grapple; Nnoitora was trying to push the large blade further in, while Grimmjow was trying the opposite. He was already bleeding from the mouth, but his grip on Nnoitora's arm was still strong. Grimmjow anchored himself on the Quinto, and unexpectedly, pushed himself off the long blade. Despite the wound, Grimmjow ran across the room to retrieve his fallen sword and readied himself with it.
Time seemed to slow as Tesla's sword moved towards him. Ichigo, already fueled by adrenaline and determination to get to Grimmjow's side, began to move faster. He rolled to the side and kicked Tesla in the knee and sent the man crumbling to ground. Ichigo took that chance and ran.
"Tch, what can you do with an injury like that? Just admit that ya lost, ya fucking loser!" Nnoitora sneered at him and disarmed him with a smack of the hilt to Grimmjow's sword. Apparently the man's wounds were draining him of his strength quickly. Nnoitora grinned maliciously. "Ya quit because 'ya can't find a good fighter'? Everything is 'meaningless'? Bullshit! Yer just a pussy, who doesn't deserve to be an Espada!" Nnoitora swung his sword down at Grimmjow, but a black shadow slipped in between them and stopped the attack.
"Kuro…saki?" Grimmjow uttered out, his eyes widened with shock. Ichigo struggled with the weight of Nnoitora's sword on his, despite having both of his hands supporting it. With a roar, Ichigo pushed him back and tried to catch his breath as he braced his sword at Nnoitora. "What the hell are you doing, dip shit?! You can't go against Nnoitora, he'll fucking kill you!" Grimmjow yelled at him.
"And leave you to face the same thing? Hell no! I'd rather die trying!" Ichigo yelled back at him.
"Aw how very touching," Nnoitora mocked as he stepped forward. Tesla had already gotten back to his feet and walking towards them, though he backed off after noticing Nnoitora's glare.
"Shut up you despicable freak," Ichigo growled. "Only cowards attack injured and unarmed opponents." Nnoitora snorted at him.
"But if they're weaker than you, it ends the same anyway," the tall man replied with a shrug. "Whatever, you're going to die with him!" Nnoitora attacked with the large sword. Ichigo tried to parry it, but was still taken off guard by the weight of the weapon. How could anyone wield anything that heavy?! As each contact Nnoitora's sword made with his, it felt like he was being hammered by a large mallet, and it made Ichigo fear that his katana – or even his arm – could break.
"Kurosaki, just run," Grimmjow said from behind him. Ichigo scowled, annoyed by the fact that Grimmjow kept telling him to abandon him. But he was reminded that Grimmjow took advantage of Nnoitora's slower speed, and copying the fast movements Grimmjow had made earlier, Ichigo began to evade the Quinto's attacks, but of course, the trick didn't last long.
Nnoitora was able to catch Ichigo by the arm, just as he had with Grimmjow before. With great strength he pulled Ichigo off the floor and whipped him across the face with the hilt of his katana It really did feel like he got hit by a hammer, Ichigo thought in dry humor. His vision got blurry from the hit but it didn't mean he lost all strength. Ichigo raised his katana and managed to stab Nnoitora in the shoulder. The man only slightly winced before throwing him to the ground and stamping his foot onto Ichigo's chest.
"Guargh!" Ichigo coughed out, all breath escaping him.
"Kurosaki!!" Grimmjow moved, but Nnoitora pointed his sword at him, making the blue-haired man stop.
"Move and I'll - " Nnoitora was suddenly thrown back by a sudden force. Where he stood was replaced by Neliel. Her expression was at least dead serious, if not angry. She crouched down to Ichigo and pulled him up, and brought him towards where Grimmjow was. Halibel was already at Grimmjow's side, with Tesla already lying unconscious not far from where they were.
"What the fuck took you so long?" Grimmjow muttered, his breathing already heavy from bleeding out. Halibel patched Grimmjow up as much as she could, by covering the wound by ripping off the sleeve of her shirt and tying the cloth around his stomach.
"There were more of them than we thought. It seems like he had more connections here than you had," Halibel said.
"Sorry for being a loner then," Grimmjow grumbled. He groaned and leaned back against the wall in exhaustion but his eyes remained open to watch the fight.
"You should be fine for now, just don't move," Halibel told the man who grunted in reply.
"You know I've gone through worse," Grimmjow said.
"That's good then. But… Shawlong, he got shot, is he okay?" Ichigo cut in, worry and relief mixed in his expression.
"Yes, Grimmjow's other fraccion has taken care of it. Only thing left now is Nnoitora," Neliel finally spoke. Her serious expression remained unchanged, but she looked more determined than ever. She stood up and turned her back towards them as she faced Nnoitora.
"Huh, knew it was you the moment ya hit me," the tall, eye-patched man said and wiped the blood from his mouth.
"It has been a long time," Neliel began, with her hand firmly on the hilt of her katana.
"How's that scar doing?" Nnoitora asked with a grin as he pointed to the band-aid on her nose. Ichigo squinted from where he was, and finally noticed a scar peeking out from her long fringe and the bright pink band aid across the bridge of her nose. How had he not noticed that?
Neliel didn't answer, but her gaze remained fixed on the tall, eye-patched man. "You took me by surprise last time, but I let you get away with it," Neliel said, and Nnoitora's uncovered eye narrowed at her. "You were, after all, just a wild animal – a beast. I had hoped you would change in the time of my absence. I've always thought my presence contributed to this behavior of yours… but it seems like even now you lack rationality and morals."
"Shut the fuck up bitch," Nnoitora spat, his slit eyes widening in anger. "You talk about being civil, about needing a reason to fight but look what it brought ya!" He pointed crudely at her scar. "You and your bullshit talk about reason and instinct, warriors and beasts – they're all the same! Only thing that matters is strength!"
Nnoitora ran towards her in a burst of speed, swinging his large blade at the green-haired woman. Neliel did not move, but merely unsheathed her katana, and with one swift movement, Nnoitora's attack was parried, and he earned a deep slice along his sword arm.
"Tch!!" Nnoitora held his bleeding arm. It trembled briefly before the limb calmed down and he was holding up his katana once again.
"She's… strong!" Ichigo said in awe, his eyes never leaving the fight.
"She was the Tercera after all," Grimmjow informed him as he watched the fight intently. Halibel nodded slightly and continued to watch as well.
"I quit not because of you, Nnoitora," Neliel suddenly said. She sheathed her sword again. "I quit because after what you did, I realized it really is all meaningless. Fighting and fighting, only to lose or have your loved ones hurt… I don't want it."
"Just because I fucked up your fraccion once before, and you already pissed your pants," Nnoitora snarled, "Keep talking shit, 'Miss Warrior'." Nnoitora moved again, but his movements were faster than before, his blade's reach was then further extended with the use of the chain that Nnoitora took out from under his shirt. With the deadly combination of the two attacking Neliel simultaneously, even the ex-Tercera appeared to be having some trouble. All she was doing was evading the weapons' destructive path, using both her scabbard and sword as offense and defense.
A fight between Espada can get this intense, Ichigo told himself. He swallowed at the thought of getting in the path of the Quinto's heavy weapons. Ichigo prayed silently, but it appeared that it was too late for prayers; Nnoitora's chain managed to catch one of Neliel's legs and the man pulled, bringing the Privaron to the ground. He swung his heavy katana down but Neliel blocked it just in time, though now trapped in that position.
Nnoitora grinned manically, "Huh, now how does it feel like be beaten down by the same 'beast', Neliel?" Said woman merely kept silent, but her eyes were locked on to his, cold and steady. Nnoitora's grin transformed into a furious frown as he yelled at her, "You make me sick! You say I haven't changed, but guess what, you haven't either! Do you remember? Calling me a beast and even saying our strengths aren't equal. On the contrary, Neliel, strength is not our difference. It's experience. Back then when I gave you that scar which put you out of the battlefield for a year, I swore I'll surpass you…" Neliel's eyes narrowed at Nnoitora, with her arms trembling slightly under the heavy weight but her grip on her katana remained tight.
"I'll surpass you 'til your sword can't touch me!" Nnoitora continued with a roar and pulled the chain and applied more pressure on his katana. Neliel let herself be pulled and rolled to the side as the blade of Nnoitora's katana hit the ground. Her other leg did a kick sweep, causing the eye-patched man to loosen his hold on the chain and thus loosening it from Neliel's leg. Taking that chance, the Privaron moved quickly and kicked Nnoitora in the stomach and another kick to his injured arm. It sent the Quinto groaning in pain and staggering back.
Neliel didn't stop there – with her speed she continued to hammer Nnoitora back with her own sword, until he was pressed back against a wall. Weakened and losing blood quickly from his injury, Nnoitora had nowhere to run.
"This is over, Nnoitora," Neliel said as she walked towards him.
"Huh… what the hell are you talking about?!" Nnoitora spat back at her, despite the fact that he was overpowered.
"Nnoitora," Neliel said softly. "I will grant your wish now. Haven't you always wanted me to deal the finishing blow? Now, because I have a reason to fight, I will do so." She raised her katana to Nnoitora's throat. "Do not despair… I will make it fast. You will feel no pain."
Just as Neliel was about to do so, her eyes glazed over and her body stopped moving. She appeared to be struggling silently in her frozen position as her eyes closed, a pained expression on her face. Only the noise of her sword clanging onto the ground following the thud of her body meeting the hard floor could be heard in the silent hall.
"Nell!" Ichigo shouted out, and started towards her. Nnoitora moved; he was taking that chance to pick up Neliel's fallen blade.
"HAHAHAH!" the man cackled as he towered over Neliel's limp body. "This is over! Neliel!!" He held the blade up in a stabbing position and thrust it down. Ichigo saw that Halibel was already ahead of him, but she still wouldn't be able to make it in time.
For the second time in the day, a gunshot rang out. Neliel's katana was thrown out of Nnoitora's hand, which was now bleeding and had a gunshot wound in the middle of his palm. "FUCK!" the Quinto screamed and held his trembling wrist. All present in the hall turned their attention to where the gunshot came from – the staircase leading to the first floor at the end of the hall.
"…Starrk?" Ichigo heard Grimmjow growl as he squinted at the figure by the staircase. The hall was large, and they were at the other end of it. Whoever it was who fired that shot must be a sharpshooter to shoot accurately from that distance with a mere pistol. Ichigo turned to look as well; there were two figures standing there. One had shoulder-length wavy brown hair with a goatee and slanted eyes. He was holding a smoking gun – obviously he was the one who had shot Nnoitora. The other figure was younger with uncannily pale skin. His large bright green eyes were the only color Ichigo could gather aside from the black of his hair and the white of his skin and uniform. "Tch, and Ulqui-fucking-orra."
"Who… are they?" Ichigo found himself asking out loud.
"The Primera and Quarto Espada, Starrk and Ulquiorra," Halibel answered. She was already by Neliel's side and had pulled her away from Nnoitora, who stood still at his position with his facial expression set in a silent rage.
The two figures walked towards them, with the pale one leading the way. "Aizen-sama sent us here. Halibel's fraccion has informed us of Nnoitora's actions. You are to come back with us to Hueco Mundo for violating rules, Nnoitora." The other man just sighed and looked bored and sleepy. Ichigo couldn't tell which was the Primera and which was the Quarto.
"Tsk," Nnoitora's uncovered eye glared at the two figures before he glanced at the others, including Ichigo. He shrugged and his body loosened up albeit reluctantly. "Fine."
"Ah, Aizen should've known that there was no need for me to come here…" the older man of the two new characters said in a bored and slightly annoyed tone.
"Aizen-sama wanted you to be back up. You did something just now, didn't you, Starrk?" Ulquiorra told the Primera.
"Yes, yes," Starrk sighed. "Can we go back now?"
"You go first. I still have things to clear up," Ulquiorra said. Starrk nodded and nudged Nnoitora to move. Both figures disappeared down the hall stairs, only to be replaced by a group of fraccion who appeared to be medics. Ulquiorra turned to Halibel who was holding onto Neliel. "Halibel, Aizen-sama wants a report once we get back. For now, please aid me in getting all these injured people taken care of." Halibel nodded and picked Neliel up once again while the other fraccion picked up the still-unconscious Tesla. More came in to help both Grimmjow and Ichigo up.
"What happened to her?" Ichigo asked Halibel.
"The scar Nnoitora gave her last time," Halibel began, as the group began to move. "Neliel suffered a massive head injury. She occasionally suffers from black outs now. This crippled her from fighting for long periods of time. One of the reasons she had to quit as an Espada." Ichigo kept quiet as he watched the tanned woman handle Neliel gently.
"Please take good care of them. Aizen-sama doesn't want any more casualties," Ulquiorra's monotonous voice added as he ordered the fraccion around. The servants carried Grimmjow by the arms, the man shooting the other a glare as they walked.
"How caring of you," Grimmjow snorted in a low voice. Ulquiorra's large eyes looked over to the injured Sexta and sent him a cold dead stare.
"Aizen-sama wants a report from you too, Grimmjow."
"Yeah, yeah, I know the shit."
"And also from this… new comer as well," Ulquiorra added as he glanced at Ichigo.
"What? But I'm not part…"
"You have known too much. Might as well be," Ulquiorra replied curtly and walked away quickly before Ichigo could even reply. Ichigo looked at Grimmjow with a confused frown but was answered with a shrug.
Grimmjow was surprised he hadn't been sent straight back to Hueco Mundo, the Las Noches group's headquarters. He had gone through surgery for his wounds, and had just regained consciousness; too used to be really affected by the drugs and medicine the doctors put on him. Grimmjow almost found it worrying to himself being sent to the local hospital and given a private room after such a rather big event happening. It appeared as if the whole group of Espada was involved after seeing the top four Espada present in the same place. Grimmjow wondered what was going to happen now. The first thing he saw after waking up was the bright orange haired person dozing on the chair by his bed. Grimmjow made a surprised sound and felt himself smirk before his hand reached out and ruffled the young man's hair.
"…Hm?" Ichigo mumbled as his brown eyes fluttered open slowly. "You feeling better?"
"Yeah I'm good. Just achin' from the stitches," Grimmjow shrugged. "Do you know where Halibel and the rest are?"
"Il Forte came in earlier," Ichigo told him and annoyance showed in his expression. "He said Halibel and Nell are resting in their own rooms. Shawlong is going to be fine, and so are the rest of your fraccion. And he said Ulqui… whatever his name might be dropping by."
"Ugh, shit," Grimmjow grimaced. He looked over to Ichigo who looked tired by what had happened. "Kurosaki, come here." The blue-haired man beckoned the teenager to his side. As Ichigo stepped closer, he pulled him forcefully out of a sudden and causing their lips to meet. Ichigo snapped back as red stained his face.
"What the hell?!" Ichigo yelled at him.
"What? I'm just glad nothing serious happened to ya," Grimmjow replied with a smirk. His face turned serious as he continued. "…So you saw what happened. That fight wasn't our worst. Do you still want to stick around me?" Ichigo blinked at him, his scowl returning. The young man sat back down and pulled his chair closer.
"That kinda thing isn't enough to scare me off," Ichigo told him. Grimmjow grinned at him.
"Hah, that's good then," Grimmjow laughed. "Just don't depend on me to protect ya." Ichigo snorted.
"Since when was I?" Ichigo snapped back with a scowl. His expression softened into a smile and surprisingly he moved forward and wrapped his hand around the back of Grimmjow's neck and pulled him close. Their lips met again, kissing innocently before they began deepening it. Grimmjow was more than grateful to have Ichigo's company at this time, after so many things had happened and yet the young man still remained by his side.
A sudden knock on the door interrupted their little make out session and had the both of them snapping back, trying to act as normal as possible as the door opened. However, the both of them were very much caught off-guard to see the two most unexpected people entering the room.
"D-dad?" Ichigo stood up, confused by the presence of his father in Grimmjow's patient room along with a smiling man he vaguely recognized.
"Haaa, good thing you didn't get too injured, Ichigo, or I'd abuse my position as a doctor," Isshin said jokingly as he glanced at the blue-haired man who looked as puzzled as his son. Ichigo turned to Grimmjow who was gaping at the man who accompanied his father into the room.
"Aizen…sama," Grimmjow said.
"Hello, Grimmjow. Good to see you're doing well," Aizen greeted with a faux smile on his face. He then turned to Ichigo and his smile widened. "And it has been a while, Kurosaki-kun. How have you been since I last saw you?"
Guh what's up with FF net and their problem with line breaks rawrrrr. ...Ummm yeah. That's it for now. I think a lot has happened in such a short time, but I hope it's good. To me Nnoitora seems to have a lot of issues, and he does look like a trouble maker (asides from Grimmjow). I hope I kept them all in-character and stuff.
I'm still very busy but I'll try my best to continue this. Please tell me what you think! :)