Introduction: Part Two
Don't stop for a second, don't look back. Just run.
I lost her. I ran too fast, perhaps, or she was just in the unlucky path of our escape. She was beside me, I believed, and I could feel her there as we sprinted through the tangled mess of underbrush. We didn't dare turn to look anywhere but before us, so I didn't know for sure if she was there other than trying to hear her feet hit the ground in opposite rhythm to my own. But that wasn't the case; we were in sync with each other. I could hear them behind us, a large mass that we certainly couldn't handle on our own.
It was raining. It always rains it seems. I never noticed how wet I was until I finally heard nothing but the rain around me. The herd chasing us was no longer making the earth shake. As my pacing slowed to a stop, I realized perfect rhythm would be hard. I looked beside me, and I was alone.
I was alone ever since then, she was my last companion, and I couldn't protect her. Whatever had happened to her, I still want to know. Either we lost direction of each other, or she was captured. I hoped she was still alive, though I didn't dare dream of seeing her again. The chances of her survival were slim, and I couldn't be burdened with hopeless wishes. I learned to live for revenge, though I spent my life hiding. I needed to find someone else that would accompany me, and I finally did…
Those two from last night…
I couldn't get them out of my head no matter how hard I tried to think of something else. I didn't know if I could trust them, so I was on guard.
Until of course, I found myself leaning against an old building on the edge of town, slowly sliding down its cool structure until I hit the ground and only my back remained against it, my eyes heavy and longing to be closed. I did close them eventually, my mysterious companion was either late, or perhaps I was early. The rays of the rising sun were behind my eyes as I allowed the soothing light to caress my worn body. This was too relaxed for me, but I was certain the city behind me was still asleep. This was when I chose to remember the one detail that stuck out against everything else in my survival. When I had times to relax, that was usually the outcome.
"You sure aren't as cautious as they made you sound," a voice caused my eyes to open abruptly. I was immediately to my feet, staring straight into icy eyes that were carrying faint humor. "Good reflexes though," he commented.
"Who are you?" I asked. Realizing how close we were, I tried to step back but I was locked between him and the building. That made me start to panic so I moved to the side a little and his grin disappeared into a smooth line.
"You're jumpy," he said with dissatisfaction, "Not a good quality for the work ahead of us."
"Work ahead of us?" This had to be him. Still, it was better if I confirmed it. "You didn't answer my question. Who are you?"
"Tch, did you think joining this crusade would give you protection? We're all assigned jobs," I noticed his eyes were straying down and his eyes grew impatient. "You're supposed to burn those, you know." He was ignoring my question still. That made me uncomfortable, but then again, from his description, I should have known he would be stubborn. I wasn't expecting this degree. All I wanted was a name.
I looked down to my hip where I had stuffed the letter inside the waist band of my pants, no pockets was a tad inconvenient, but I had never imagined I would have to carry anything. Then again, it seemed I didn't have to carry anything at all.
"Burn it? How was I supposed to know that?" Good work on his part, he had me distracted.
"Hm. Seems Ulquiorra is getting sloppy. Typical."
"So you are the right person," I muttered. Of course he was, but the fact that he knew all of this information confirmed it for me. I finally decided to look at him, knowing we were forced into a companionship whether we actually found a way to get along or not. So far, it wasn't too bad – he seemed a little angry, but there wasn't anything totally reckless about his personality yet. He had to correct me on safety already, after all.
He looked much more professional and clean than I did. Of course, I assumed he was getting the reinforcements of a healthy life since he was on the contract before I was. He was wearing a button-up navy, long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans, and although it seemed fairly casual, compared to me he looked entirely too perfect.
"You didn't think I was the right person?" He asked, a bit offended that I would disgrace his character.
"Well, I wasn't certain."
"There's the caution," he mumbled, "And it's already getting annoying."
"It's not annoying, it's what I've lived by."
"I'm still alive," he said, "More so than you it seems," I noticed his eyes were now looking over me in closer detail, and I folded my arms across my chest as though to hide as much of myself as possible. I felt like I had been dropped off and had been living in nature for far too long – which was pretty much true. I was a bit taken back that he would say something like that, he was apparently overly honest.
"I haven't been given anything to live off of for… however long it's been." I muttered the last portion, unsure of exactly how long I had been surviving on my own, and the lack of knowledge made me feel weak in a sense.
"Been a while," he said, still not in a passionate tone, still eying me with disapproval, "At least since I've been out of there."
"I figured we all left at the same time."
"Maybe, but that's all in the past," he said, "We need to get moving now." He was glancing behind me at the town. Was he actually worrying about people waking up? Based on his personality so far, I assumed he was more so worried about being caught in public with me looking like a stray.
"Yeah, of course." I just realized how stiff I was when my legs managed to move again. He noticed it before he decided to move, eyeing the limp in my posture.
"How pathetic," he muttered, then walked past me as though he couldn't bear to watch me acting so weakly. I knew I shouldn't have allowed myself to relax; it was always a painful start again after relaxing.
"Like I said, I haven't been given many luxuries lately," I said patiently, though my tone was harsher than it had been earlier.
"Yeah, doesn't mean you don't look pathetic," he was still holding a hostile tone to his voice, like he wanted nothing to do with me and he was now forced to drag me along under his care. And under his care, I realized he was leading us right into the city.
"Where are we going?" I asked. I didn't stop walking, afraid that my legs would crumple beneath me.
"You ask too many questions," he said with the same type of air as his aggravated breaths.
"I was told you're not very careful."
"Really?" he laughed with a deeper, huskier stroke of air, "That's a relief."
"You don't make any sense."
"Well, I figured they'd try to soften me up a little, which they still did, but at least they were partially right. I'm amazed you came to look for me at all. What else did they say?"
"That was it, really," I said, trying to remember its exact context, but I refused to pull the forbidden paper out. I was already ashamed that someone careless had to report news to my cautious personality. Yeah, they were only partially right. We both slipped up on our descriptions already.
"Sneaky bastard," he said, I could tell he was full of himself, "They left out how I live my life. They didn't even bother to tell you my job. They probably figured you wouldn't have agreed."
"No, I didn't realize there was a job until –"
"Welcome to the hunter's life," he grinned over his shoulder at me as I realized we were standing before a garage at this point. A hunter's life led me to many suspicions – did we hunt for information? Safe places? Loose walls? No. All of those things were too sneaky and, while still dangerous, not as entirely dangerous as what I figured he was speaking of.
"Explain to me the exact requirements," I said, keeping my voice hard and intelligent. I wasn't ready to crack under simple news, but I could tell he was all too excited about his job for it to be anything other than what he was about to say.
"We hunt down the enemy. You can say, we are prey versus predator – but I like to refer to myself as a predator."
"I figured as much… I thought we weren't ready for battling?"
"Not entirely, since most of the others are too afraid to show themselves. Instead, we hunt down the others that betrayed us," he thrust the garage door up the rest of the way as he spoke, and I didn't have time to ask him any further questions before I realized what he was planning on doing.
"This is not being inconspicuous," I said, standing in the doorway, refusing to step forward.
"We're not meant to hide, remember? We hunt. If they come after us that just makes the job easier."
"Fine, but… you outdid yourself."
"Heh. If you have the money, why not?" He walked along the side of a brand new car, not just brand new, but expensive, I assumed. Its glossy midnight blue paint was hidden in the darkness of the garage. I didn't know cars too well, I didn't even see them much anymore, but I knew he was too proud to not mention what I was staring at.
"Jaguar," he said. It was a recognizable name to me; I just wasn't too savvy on placing a picture with it. Now I knew.
"Right... I thought we walked?"
"We don't have time to walk. What exactly did they tell you?" His eyes glanced back at the letter, and I felt my hand go over it instinctively.
"Not much, really, like I said earlier. I think that's the problem."
"Let's go," he said impatiently, already gliding into the driver's seat. I had no other choice, really, and while I hated cramped spaces and being the center of attention, I carefully fell into the passenger's seat. Once again I was allowing myself to relax. Even while I knew it would debilitate me for a few moments, for the time being the leather seats were extraordinarily comfortable. I stayed stiff, however, so I didn't get the complete calming effect of it.
We were silent the whole trip. He had the radio turned on to some hard rock station, and it was a relief for me to even hear music again. It had been so long since I'd had any media in my life really, aside from the few times I managed to overcome my worries and sneak into towns to grab a bite to eat.
The drive wasn't too long, though if we had been walking that distance it would have taken us into tomorrow with a wonderful campfire and sleeping outside. I figured he wasn't into that kind of thing, based on his taste in cars and new clothes. Someday I'd have to show him that life, since he so urgently dragged me into this.
He pulled into a parking space of a ritzy hotel, which didn't amaze me. The whole thing was brick, and it looked like every room had a balcony. There were at least ten stories, though I imagined there was also a basement for recreation or whatever they put in them these days. Tall birch trees lined the parking lot in evenly spaced positions, and flower gardens occupied any space of grass that was left around it. They also had a decorative pond that could be viewed from the rooms on the far east side of the building, where we were parking.
"They really pay you well," I said, staring blankly at the huge building in front of us.
"They have no other choice."
"Yeah, so you said," I mumbled. Something about his taking advantage of the situation didn't seem ethical to me, but I wasn't going to argue. I was tired, and I hadn't seen an actual bed in forever. I followed close behind him as we walked inside through a side door that lead straight to a stair well. Immediately my defenses were up, it was dark, cold, and compact in there. Even the hallway it opened into wasn't much better.
Ok. It had a chandelier hanging in a center space, and it was real as far as I could tell. It also had large furniture, rather gaudy in my opinion, but still new and well kept. It smelled fresh as well; citrus air fresheners were in hidden locations, left out of the scenery.
"Have you been here before?" I asked. He seemed too familiar with the surroundings. He took all the right hallways without stopping to question his direction.
"Nah. Numbers," he threw his thumb in the direction of the gold plates hanging by each door. Of course he was following the numbers, but he just happened to enter the right side of the building.
"How do you have a key?"
"It was shipped to me. It's better when management doesn't see our faces, in case we have guests."
"You aren't as reckless as they make you sound," I said, trying to compliment him on his thorough assessments of this situation.
"I'll be down there in a few minutes," he said, disproving my approval of him, "I just didn't want you to panic on me, like you're doing regardless."
"I'm not panicking. I'm evaluating the area."
"Businessmen worry you?" He asked, as we both watched some rather important looking people pass by us. We were stopped now before what I assumed was our room, and he was digging the key out of his pocket.
"They do, actually. It so happens that Aizen likes to disguise his people in business attire."
"Maybe? I know he does."
"Well, you can hide out in here for the rest of the evening. You're not skipping out on work tonight though," he told me, sticking the key in the lock.
"I wasn't planning on it."
"Good." He grinned then opened the door with one fluent movement. "You have about four hours."
"Where are you going?" I asked, not willing to step through the door just yet, though another fresh burst of citrus fell heavily out of it. I noticed the smell had gotten to him as well, and he looked annoyed.
"I'm not dealing with this smell for hours, I'll be back later."
"You're just going…"
"Yes, I'm just going to leave you here. You need me to baby-sit you?"
"I'll be fine," I scowled at him, and pushed by him to walk in the door. I grabbed the key out of the lock and closed the door behind me, making sure it was locked again. I didn't know if he had a spare key, but suddenly I didn't care so much about fulfilling my duties and keeping him safe.
Perhaps I was overreacting with my suspicions. I had learned to seal my life away from everything, and everyone. I wasn't used to being anywhere, especially not a place like this. The room itself looked even more pristine than the hallways or the outside of the building.
Plush maroon carpet felt incredible under my tired feet. Two Queen sized beds filled up one wall, and an entertainment center on the opposite side. I wondered what could be on TV these days, but I didn't bother with turning it on. The walls were painted a creamy color, and the rest of the decorations, and blankets, and chairs all matched the maroon carpet. It went well together, and it was rather relaxing.
I fell backward onto the bed after I assessed the area to make sure there wasn't an inch of danger present. That felt amazing. The pillow was like heaven, and the more than luxurious bed instantly made me hazy. I wanted, no, I needed sleep. Despite his warning of only four hours before action time, I disregarded what else I should have been doing with my time and allowed my eyes to close without hesitation, or worry of the door being broken down while I slept.
Instantly, those killer reflexes of mine caused me to spring up when I heard loud knocking on the door. I looked over at the clock, it was seven. I didn't remember when we had arrived there; clocks weren't exactly my thing either. I got up, still tired and incredibly achy, and peered through the door. It was him. Wonderful, my time was up and I hadn't even improved the way I looked. I probably looked worse. Realizing it wasn't danger at my door, my eyes instantly became heavy again as I swung the door open reluctantly.
"What the hell were you doing this whole time?" He asked, shoving his way through the door.
"I fell asleep."
He glanced back at me as he dug through a bag he had brought in with him.
"You're losing your focus," he said.
"I haven't had sleep in days…"
"Responsibility. I don't think Ulquiorra knows what he's talking about," he grumbled, pulling out a smaller briefcase from within the bag.
"Why do you always bring up his name? There was someone else with him… but you always blame everything on him," I said, watching him tentatively. Once again, no matter how much I wanted to scold him from being so rude to me and disregarding my history, I changed the subject to something that would drag his attention away from me.
"He's the lead coordinator of scheduling," he said, "He plans what we do, where we go, and when we have to be there."
"Yeah? He didn't schedule me as a partner though, I thought Halibel did."
"She did, but she wasn't the one taking notes on you," he said, looking up at me again as he clicked the case open.
"I see. So I was being watched?"
"We are always watched, no matter how thoroughly you pay attention to details," he said, then stopped what he was doing to glance at me again. "You need to get dressed."
"Oh… I guess I probably should," I replied sheepishly.
"We're going to a party," he said with a slight grin.
"Why?" I asked, realizing immediately he was grinning because of several possible reasons. One, I assumed, was the fact that he was dragging me right into a den of people.
"Our target is there."
Not just people, our enemies.
He shrugged, "Who knows? All I can say is this one sure knows how to pick one hell of a location."
"Yeah, I'd say." Of course, I didn't hold the same substance of happiness as he had on the idea. I glanced around the room. There were several dressers, and I didn't want to look like an idiot by picking the wrong one. I didn't have much of an option though, because I didn't want to bother him anymore. He seemed to have a short fuse. Anything I did wrong, I assumed wouldn't go unnoticed.
"How much time do I have?" I asked, shuffling threw a drawer full of random outfits. Luckily for me… I had some luck despite past issues with it. Why they would stock up a room with all of this when we'd only be here for a couple of nights was beyond me. Maybe they had too much money and nothing better to waste it on. Or perhaps they expected me to pack it all. I didn't see him carrying much though.
"About an hour. It's a good thing I came back to get you." Of course, he had to throw in my mistake again.
"As soon as I get my energy back, it'll be me keeping you on schedule," I warned him before walking off toward the bathroom. I heard him scoff as I walked away, but it was easy for me to ignore. I was excited to have a nice, hot shower.
It was truly relaxing, and I could have spent my whole hour just sitting in there, soaking up the heat and clean feel. It was true that I cleaned up nice, I almost looked like a totally different person by the time I got my hair dried and I was in a fresh pair of clothes. When I walked back out, I felt refreshed and ready for whatever it was we were doing tonight. I hoped it wouldn't result in a battle, but I was certainly feeling like I had walked back into another lifetime.
When I walked back into the main room where Grimmjow was tossing a sword up in the air and catching it repeatedly, he stopped the action and stared at me for a moment. I was wearing a turquoise blouse and jeans, nothing too special, but I guess the shock of my beat up self turning toward perfection might have been a bit to take in. The moment didn't last for long, before he tossed the sword in my direction.
I caught it by the hilt with no problem, which seemed to amaze him again.
"You know how to use that?" He asked, not bothering to admit how impressed he was, or I thought he was anyway.
"Of course. But how am I going to get into a club with it?"
"You're not. I'll flush him out, you wait outside," he said.
"All right," I agreed. That kept me out of the crowd anyway.
"Let's get going then." He grinned in a satisfied, excited way that I would come to know too well.
And the story begins…
A/N: Ok. You may wonder why I have a two-part intro. Well, I don't think this is the most detailed chapter I have ever written, so I decided to include it as another part to the intro. It seems…rushed to me, but I can't handle dragging things out for too long that aren't at least semi-fun to write. Anyway… Long story short, the next installment will be the first chapter finally, and hopefully it will roll along a little faster than I posted this two part intro =P
Thanks to everyone reading. Comments and critique are wanted. I still don't know Nel at all, so any suggestions for her character would be helpful. Especially since I'm writing it in first person xD So I'm stuck with her all the time.