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Chapter 1

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I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

(Wicked, For Good)

-

White walls. White floor. White ceiling. Black light. It did not matter how pristine and clear an object was, if it was seen through darkness it was not seen at all.

A constant night sat lazily over Hueco Mundo. It stretched its inky form all the way to the horizon and blotted out any memory of daylight. Fortunately there was the moon. A high, round silver moon that played cards with the few stars that dared show their faces.

Las Noches hung like a picture in the middle of the desolate land. It framed the world whist being the centre of the image. The vast building housed the heart and soul of Hueco Mundo. It was the throbbing organ that pulsated life into those who last remembered themselves dead. It was the palace that housed the Arrancar and the Espada. It was the throne room in which Aizen sat.

A figure reclined on a pale green sofa somewhere within Las Noches. Their room was spartan except for their current seat, a silver chair and table set and a low bed with white covers. The far wall, the one that was neither the door, nor the window, nor the one that accompanied the sofa, housed numerous books. Whatever books that had become available the figure had taken them and read and then put on the wall like treasures. There were very few and most were intoxicatingly thin, some in obscure languages and very few of real interest. Still, they were knowledge of something beyond Hueco Mundo, Las Noches and the realm of Soul Society. They had been obtained on missions in the Real World. Not stolen, not borrowed, not bought – simply obtained.

The figure turned a sharp face to the window and blinked casually at the view. The sand dunes had moved slightly. The moon had not. A female form emerged as the person sat straight and then stood. It was not so much female as it was not male. Her figure was tall and athletic; the sort you find on a fourteen year old girl who found puberty late but had already uncovered the gift of vertical height. Yes, that sort. The willowy, slightly awkward sporty kind that has learned to be graceful and controlled with their demeanour. The girl had dark hair that would have spilled to somewhere below her shoulder blades had it not been swept back into a ponytail.

She crossed her room and placed a thin paperback on-top of her prized possession. It was titled 'Greys Anatomy' and made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Absolutely none.

There was no knock at her door before it opened. It simply swung wide and spoke freely.

"Oi, brat. You're late."
"You're early, Grimmjow." The girl turned to the door and straightened her posture. "I am never late."

"You were today." The blue haired Espada said antagonistically. "Hurry up."

The 'Brat' silently passed the man in her doorway and pulled her door shut, forcing him to move back into the hallway. "For the umpteenth time, I have a name."

Kira. Kira Sato. Ninth Espada. Or rather, recent ninth Espada. The former rank had belonged to a man unable to fight in the light and had been found useless by Aizen for little more than evening sport. The Espada were evolving, he needed a mobile force; an elite mobile force. Kira had made her way into the exclusive unit though sheer cunning and luck. She had been waiting, watching, timing her aim right, doing all in her power to win a place in the Espada. The day came when Kurosaki Ichigo returned to the Real World and made his presence felt, intentionally or no, to those watching his little town. Powerful though the old Espada Nine had been, his ability in a group was not enough to be a long-term profit. However, Kira allowed him to claim his old rank as he dwelled in Las Noches and pretend like the days of old were the days of present.

Nine was still a long way off one after all.

Grimmjow walked half a pace in front of the girl, his hands buried in his pockets and his shoulders arched characteristically in egoism. Kira had her hands by her sides, her gaze straight ahead and somewhat superior – as if she were a fallen noble. Often, the pair clashed but more often than not they got on in a weird, comrade manner. Like war buddies who met on the train and confirmed something on the battle field. They didn't have to like each other to not want to part ways. Camaraderie has that sort of influence on even the most uninfluential mind. Not that they didn't like each other, but rather that they didn't not.

Either way, due to similarities and differences, they had found in each other a beneficial training partner. Grimmjow won most of the time. All of the time. Every time. However, he used Kira as speed and agility training. It was her specialty. Some people housed brute force, some wit, some intelligence, some a hybrid – Kira tied speed and agility into one swift form and used it to her advantage. She used Grimmjow in her training as a base to her Vidi, Veni, Vici philosophy – if you must kill, kill quickly. If you must maim, maim swiftly. If you must complete a task, complete it with efficiency and speed. You come, you see, you conquer. The end.

"Are you going to use your 'get it over with' mindset that makes you weak today?" Grimmjow glanced over his shoulder at the girl.

She smiled faintly. "I am not weak, Grimmjow. I'm simply not as strong as you." Her tone was slightly bored and a little assuming.

"You never will be with that half-assed attitude, brat." He replied haughtily.

Kira kept her gaze straight ahead as her smile turned smug. "Don't get smug yet, Grimmjow. You haven't earned your victory."

The man scoffed, amused as they entered a great open hall. "I can already smell it, you're going to lose again, brat."

"You're not the only one who wants to win." Came the stout reply.

A minute later, Grimmjow was watching her across the room, preparing to attack. Kira wore a pair of stovepipe white pants and the typical black and white Arrancar footwear. Tucked into her pants was a black singlet. A white, open cut jacket with a black collar sat over the top and settled its length just below her hip bone. Her Hollow mask sat across her left cheekbone. It reached to the inner corner of her eye and turned sharply down, like the tear-marks on a cheetah. It stopped half an inch from the turndown and formed a point.

In a moment, the image was gone. Kira had moved. She appeared behind Grimmjow and swung a kick at the side of his head. The blue haired Espada disappeared with a smirk and reappeared behind the girl. She turned as he struck at her and grabbed his wrist. Kira pulled her partner toward herself and lifted her knee to his stomach. As it made contact, she swung her shin around and caught the side of his torso before letting Grimmjow's wrist go and moving swiftly away.
The sixth Espada muttered a derogatory curse aimed at the girl and grinned psychotically. "Don't hold back, brat."

Kira stood across the room again, knowing that he had contained himself to let her into a delusional advantage. "Ready?"
"For you? I could be ready for you in my sleep." He mocked.

"Don't get any ideas." The girl was suddenly beside the man, her katana drawn from its sheath at her hip.

Grimmjow pulled his own blade out and delighted in the noise it made as it forced itself upon Kira's. The fight went on for a few swift minutes. The girl was fast, very, very fast and remarkably flexible. Grimmjow, on the other hand, could not match her speed at full force but could overpower her on a whim. She attacked, attacked, attacked, retreated. Grimmjow simply attacked, agile assault after agile assault to force his opponent back and into his grip.

Kira could not hold her own for an extended period of time. She was a sprinter, not an endurance runner. Things needed to be done quickly and efficiently or she would fade. She was fading. Not as swiftly as the first time but not as slowly as she would like.

"Is that all you have, brat?" Grimmjow slashed upwards forcefully.

Kira felt her sword vibrate violently in her hands, the impact carried through her forearms causing her to flinch. "For now, Grimmjow." She said defiantly.

For now. She would get stronger, faster, better. Eventually. It was a long race and she had to adapt.

Grimmjow slashed upwards at her again. This time the girl used the force to lift her off her feet and over the head of her opponent. She lunged at him after turning swiftly and met his block with force. Grimmjow, however, did not swing to attack her again. He leant in towards her, gripped her arm and pulled her over his shoulder with a triumphant laugh, his psychotic grin etched into his features already. It was almost over.

Kira used her free hand to her advantage and dug her nails into Grimmjow's neck on passing. The Sixth Espada grimaced angrily as the stinging and burning of his opponent's nails sliced a shallow path across his flesh. He did not falter in his victory cry and let the girls arm go as she passed over his shoulder. She flew into the opposite wall before she could react and slid to the floor to catch her breath.

"Good sesh, Grimmjow. Good sesh." She smiled at him across the room.

Grimmjow slung his sword casually over his shoulder and stared her down smugly. "For you, brat. I need a better opponent."

"I'm getting there, I'm getting there." She waved him off and dug the top of her katana into the ground beside her. "I got you good this time."

"Oh yeah, a flesh wound." Came the mocking reply. "If we were fighting for real, you would be dead by now."
"I would have released my true form by now." She corrected.

"And I would have still won, brat." His tone was cocky, though right.

Kira sighed. "I'm still faster than you, Grimmjow. Don't forget."

"Oh, I won't." The Blue Haired Espada raised a hand to his neck. He was bleeding. He swore at the girl under his breath.

She stood up and sheathed her sword. "Don't worry, Grimmjow." She said deridingly. "It's just a 'flesh wound', remember?"
Kira was not bleeding; she was just worn and beaten. Which was better, she already knew. No victory came without sacrifice.

Grimmjow stared at the girl curiously. "You got faster, brat."
"You got stronger, fur ball."

The man laughed deeply, well humoured by her efforts. "One day, I'll kill you."
"Keep telling yourself that, Grimmjow, keep telling yourself that." Kira stood casually in front of him. "Sake?"
"Hell yes." Came the cocky reply.

Kira followed him out, her jacket had a short tear in it and there was dirt on her face, but she had never felt so alive. Fighting, getting better at fighting – it felt good. Improvement was pleasurable. They had only been sparring half an hour, but it had been a beneficial half hour indeed. It went by fast, but Kira had moved by faster than ever before. Espada Nine was a believable achievement now and one she almost deserved. No one deserved Espada status, but everyone who was one deserved to believe they were. No one was so bad that they deserved to be titled part of the top nine most efficient killers in Hueco Mundo, but everyone was good enough to claim the abilities that came with the title. It was a lose win situation, an inevitable impasse of morals. Good thing Espada had none.

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Grimmjow padded through Hueco Mundo, the moon overhead. He had just fed on a poor, unfortunate Adjuchas-class Menos and felt satisfied. Even so, his level of power did not lift nor fall. It remained constant and without change.

Optimality. He was optimal for his current condition and yet he craved more. He needed a new environment, a new path. Something different.

In the distance, a small dust cloud lifted. The strength of a reiatsu unknown to the panthera reverberated across the sand. Interest piqued within Grimmjow and he paced nearer to the source of change.

A long, lithe figure shot past him on the sand. Ahead of it had been a small Adjuchas-class Menos, probably fresh from beneath the sand. New prey. Light and fast. A short growl emanated from the chaser as they drew parallel to the large cat. Grimmjow turned his head to see what had defended itself against him in passing.

A thin, feline figure, shorter and lighter than he was, turned sharply as the smaller Menos dodged away. She stuck an agile foreleg out and hooked it around the leg of her victim, causing it to stumble with a roar and tumble on the ground. The Cheetah-like Adjuchas kept grip on the animal and tumbled over with it, her jaws soon locked around its throat in victory. By this time, they were far from where Grimmjow stood. The speed of the animal along with her ability to maneuver was phenomenal but the power of her form could not take anything that relied on brute strength and endurance down. Not yet.

Standing, the feline maintained its grip on its now still victim. It had been a swift an accurate death. She was charcoal in colour with light grey facial markings that resembled tear marks down her face. The tip of her tail was rimmed in the same colour and it flicked in an agitated manner as she stared down the large panther that watched from the top of a dune.

She dropped her prey and stood over it defensively. "Who are you?"
"Grimmjow." Came the rough reply.

There was a pause. "Grimmjow." She stated, her guard up. "Are you hungry, Grimmjow?"

This surprised the panther. "No."

"Are you looking for a fight?"
"No." Came the steady reply.

The feline's posture relaxed some. "Then stay with me."

This surprised Grimmjow further. "Why would I stay with a weakling who can only take down pathetic prey?"
"You wouldn't." Came the honest reply.

There was a silence. "What's your name, brat?"
"Kira."

For reasons unknown, Grimmjow strode down the dune and stood before his newest acquaintance. He stared at the form she had taken down and then back up at her. Her figure was comprised of a deep chest and a tucked in torso. Her spine was flexible and her legs long. She was built for speed, not fight. A perfect scout. A perfect distraction. Maybe, one day, a perfect fighter. She had potential.

"You are more powerful than I, but I will not follow you." She said, flatly. "But I will stay with you."

Grimmjow met her eye. "Give me one good reason why I should let you."
"Camaraderie." Kira didn't back down. Yet.

The panther growled long and low at her in a threatening way. Her posture became defensive, her entire being taught like a bowstring. The male laughed deeply, sadistically almost at her response. "I already ate, you don't interest me, brat."
"Then why are you here?" She shot back, almost growling back at him.

"Did I scare you?" Grimmjow asked mockingly. "Did I make you question your lack of power?"
"The former."

Silence. "Camaraderie?"

"Hai."

Grimmjow turned his back on the female and headed back up the hill. Half an hour later, she was at his shoulder, silently, staring straight ahead as he eyed her from the corner of his vision. He did not protest at her arrival in his life, she seemed to know the boundaries already. They were similar in formation. As if made by the same designer. It was an exceptionally rare occurrence to find one like another. And yet, there they were; a large, powerful panther and a sleek, swift cheetah. Two cats. Two Adjuchas-class Menos and as such, a pair of survivors and fighters.
One needs more than power to survive. It is a built in instinct to find another, even if for a short time, to keep one company. To prove that there is more to existence than existence itself.

-

An hour later, on some balcony, Grimmjow sat with his legs dangling over the edge as he stared into the distance. Kira leant beside him, looking the other way.

They had known each other a long time. Since they had been Adjuchas-class Menos. There was a familiarity there. A knowledge of the past and a respect of the other. Some people would call that friendship. Possibly. The pair had simply found each other.

Grimmjow was a king and Kira needed something to channel her power into. She did not trust the panther-like Hollow at that point, but something overpowering made her need his company. It had been a long time since she had had company and during that time, even longer since he had. They were too similar to devour each other and to different to find continual company together. She was not one of his Fracción, if anything Kira was a vice-captain like figure that found herself incognito with Grimmjow. She kept coming back to him and he kept letting her for some reason. Maybe he enjoyed the company. They were like each other's shadows; appearing and staying there and vanishing when not required yet always nearby. Either way, there was an unseen an unappreciated depth there; a hybrid of time and understanding.

"Grimmjow." Kira said, arms crossed. "Promise me one thing." Her tone was quiet and serious.

"Hm?" Grimmjow turned his gaze sideways to see a small sliver of her.

"Don't die." Came the frank answer.

The man scoffed. "It's a promise."

Kira smiled haughtily. Her tone remained the same as she stared at Las Noches and its endless corridors. "It goes on forever, doesn't it?"

Grimmjow stared back at the sands of Hueco Mundo. He was silent a moment. "Yeah." His tone seemed nostalgic almost.

The girl stayed with him because he was the only character she had found that displayed any sort of development or feeling. He got surprised, lazy, angry; he might always be cocky, but he had more than a one dimensional personality unlike many other Espada. He was good company to keep, though her conscience told her otherwise. His pride made him more human and more realistic than any other soul she knew. It lit something in her that she liked.

"Don't look so serious, brat." Grimmjow said flatly. "It makes me sick."

She handed him the sake bottle that sat near her elbow. The man took it without a word and drained the last of the liquor before tossing the empty casket off the balcony edge and watching it fall somewhere below.

"Tomorrow." Kira said, pushing herself upright again.

"Why would I fight you tomorrow if I beat you today?" Came the stoic reply.

The girl glanced over her shoulder. "Not so I can beat you, but so I can best you."

"Selfish brat." Grimmjow stated, scurrilously.

"Now that I'm Espada, you're going to see me a lot more." Kira turned slightly to the man. "Get used to it."

She left to the noise of Grimmjow laughing to himself at her words and couldn't help but ignore him pleasantly as she went about the rest of her day.

-

This is an obsession, a kind of aggression with himself
It's the way he'll always be
He loves to rebel to go against his ten commandments
For him, that's just being free.

And he always will, get his thrills, the only way he knows how
Well it might make you frown
But he loves, being that dove, roaming where he cares to go
To a state of mind that no-one knows

Over there stands my angry angel
And he's shaking his head, in disgrace with me
Yeah over there stands my angry angel
And he's frowning like hell, but I'm not feeling guilty

(Imogen Heap, Angry Angel)

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An Important Note:

On the topic of romance: Grimmjow is Grimmjow, so unless he has amnesia he does not possess much (if any) ability to be romantic. This story is not intended to be romantic or fluff, I just don't see it in Grimmjow's character to be like that, so don't hang out for it. I really want to explore him as a character as well as exploring some of the themes that surround relationships (not necessarily romantic), development and the deeper side of the human persona.

Kira is not a Mary-Sue, I do apologise if she came across that way in this chapter. It was not my intention. She is totally different to any other character I've written before, she has her pros and cons. I hope you enjoy her as much as I enjoy writing her.

Anyway, this story will start prior to the beginning of the Hueco Mundo Arc and follow the rough Bleach plot from there.

Thanks for reading, don't forget to review (even if you didn't like it - constructive criticism welcome). You're support is needed and appreciated.

Blessings,

Peterpauper.