Great Minds Think Alike
But only after arguing a lot.
Grimmjow was bored. Aizen was dead. Most of the Espada were dead. Most of the arrancar were dead. The Winter War was over, and Grimmjow, consequently, was very, very, bored.
At least the Shinigami were not dead.
And so, Grimmjow found himself in Karakura town at three in the morning. Even after the war had ended, Soul Society kept a captain stationed at Karakura 24/7. With a reiatsu flare and a bit of luck, Grimmjow would find himself in business.
As it turned out, Grimmjow did not even need to alert the Shinigami to his presence. The minute the Garganta deposited him in Karakura he immediately spotted an orange-haired boy sitting on one of Karakura's rooftops. Grimmjow chuckled to himself. As a fighter, Kurosaki Ichigo had earned Grimmjow's respect. He had also earned a spot in Grimmjow's exclusive "attack on sight" list.
"Hey, Kurosaki!" Grimmjow exclaimed gleefully. "Here I come!" Drawing his sword, Grimmjow charged forward.
The teenager sitting on the rooftop looked up, surprised. He rolled out of the Grimmjow's way, assuming a defensive stance. "Not my name," he growled. "Who the hell are you?"
Grimmjow almost choked in surprise. "Kurosaki?" he asked, suddenly apprehensive.
"Again, not my fucking name," the hollow repeated. "And again, who are you?"
Grimmjow's eyes narrowed slightly as his expression lost all traces of amusement. The teenager was Ichigo, beyond a shadow of a doubt, but Ichigo was spewing more bullshit than usual this time. "Ichigo, don't you remember me? Grimmjow? Former Sexta Espada in Aizen's army?"
The orange-haired boy suddenly snapped his fingers in recognition. "I know you!" the hollow exclaimed. "But you probably don't know me."
Grimmjow let his reiatsu slowly creep over the teenager standing before him. "Look, Ichigo, cut the bull-"
As Grimmjow's eyes began to adjust to the dim light of the crescent moon lighting up the sky, he gasped. Ichigo's hollow chuckled lightly. "For the third time, Grimmjow, that's not my name."
"The hell?" Grimmjow muttered. "You're Ichigo's… hollow?"
The hollow laughed. "It sucks getting mixed up with Ichigo, you know," he confided.
"You're the hollow behind Ichigo's mask?" Grimmjow asked.
The hollow frowned, making it clear that he hated being associated with Ichigo's mask. "Yes," he replied curtly.
Grimmjow sat down on the rooftop with the hollow. "Wow," he said, "I always thought that there was just some mindless hollow behind Ichigo's mask. Never thought it would be something like you."
The hollow snorted. "Typical."
Grimmjow hesitated slightly before continuing. "Doesn't it suck? I mean, every time Ichigo wants you to come out-"
"Of course it sucks!" the hollow snapped. "The only reason I'm actually in control of Ichigo's body at the moment is because the idiot's sleeping right now, and the only reason he isn't waking up is because he's going to be hungover in the morning!"
Grimmjow fell silent for a moment, realizing that being in the hollow's position did indeed suck.
"So what brings you here, Grimmjow?" Ichigo's hollow asked.
"Aizen's dead, the war's over," Grimmjow responded, "and I was bored, so I came here looking for a fight."
The hollow snorted in derision. "None of the Shinigami here will give you a decent fight," he declared, "they're all either drunk or weak."
Grimmjow raised his eyebrows. He recalled the hollow mentioning that Ichigo was going to be hungover. "Wait a minute, I can understand weak, but drunk?"
"You need to spend more time around Shinigami, Grimmjow," the hollow said, chuckling lightly, "they drink so much it scares me."
"But… doesn't the Shinigami Captain-Commander take… issue?"
The hollow laughed loudly. "That old fart can't enforce laws on a fly," he declared with a sneer. "His own captains are too precious to Soul Society for him to dare discipline. He knows that he's growing old. He still hasn't filled in the three empty captain seats- and he couldn't even convince Ichigo to become a captain. Face it, he's becoming weak."
The hollow leaned backwards, placing his hands behind his head as he stared up at the stars. Grimmjow could see the sadness in his eyes. He honestly couldn't blame the hollow. This was going to be his only chance to see the stars- to see anything- in a long time.
"So why did you betray Aizen, Grimmjow? Did you want to pal around with the Shinigami?" the hollow asked, a mocking note clearly present in his voice and eyes. "But seriously, why did you do it?"
Grimmjow shrugged. "The real question is why none of the other Espada- well, Barragan doesn't count, he was planning to rebel for a long time- the question is why none of them rebelled. I rebelled because I wasn't going to stand for a Shinigami as a king of hollows."
The hollow frowned. "What do you mean?"
"There's a saying," Grimmjow said, "that humans have holes in their hearts that no money, power, or strength can fill. Human souls will always strive to become king, no matter how much the human himself tries to suppress that feeling. And all of a sudden all these hollows- hollows who, out of every single race in this universe, try the hardest to become king- all these hollows are lying down and letting themselves be ruled- by a Shingami."
Ichigo's hollow shrugged. "I can see it happening."
Grimmjow turned his head. "How?" he asked, surprised.
"Aizen- he promised a better world for all of the hollows," the hollow reasoned. "Think about it- most of us have spent our entire lives in Hueco Muendo, yet the Shinigami still hunt us down. They justify everything with our crime of existence. Aizen- he promised to change all of that."
"A better world at the price of being ruled over and bowing down at the feet of a Shinigami" Grimmjow argued. "That's bullshit to me. And Aizen certainly was no benevolent ruler. Don't call him –sama and it's off with your head. Everything a hollow has accomplished- survival in Hueco Muendo, evolution- that's all paid for with the hollow's own blood and sweat, but now they're relying on Aizen for everything."
Ichigo's hollow chuckled. "And in the end, Aizen betrayed them all. At least, if they ever outlived their usefulness, he planned to- and he did."
Grimmjow nodded, a shadow passing over his face. Harribel had been a decent person- and Aizen had murdered her in cold blood.
"Well," Ichigo's hollow said, scratching his head in thought, "we don't know why Aizen did it. Was Harribel supposed to be a noble sacrifice, or was Aizen just bored? That man's an enigma."
There was another long silence as Grimmjow just stared at the stars with the hollow. After what seemed like forever, Grimmjow suddenly realized something and broke the silence.
"Hey, do you even have a name?" Grimmjow asked.
The hollow shook his head. "I was born because of an accident in one of Ichigo's training sessions, and ever since I was born that asshole made a grand total of three trips into his soul. Once it was to beg Zangetsu for help in a fight, and I was dragged out of Zangetsu to test him. The second time, it was to beat me up. The third time, after the war ended, was to do the same thing. I never even bothered to give myself a name, and I doubt Ichigo thinks that I'm human enough to deserve one," he said.
"Ichigo's just overprotective," Grimmjow said. "He sees everything in black and white. On one side there are his friends- those that he'll go to the ends of the earth to protect. Then there are his enemies- and you only become Ichigo's enemy by threatening his friends, or by really pissing him off."
The hollow snorted. "Yeah, well, I 'really pissed him off' by getting born."
"When you try to take over his body, Ichigo instantly grows suspicious," Grimmjow reasoned. "He thinks that you'll hurt his friends and his family, and the minute his mind reaches that conclusion, there's nothing that will change his mind."
Grimmjow paused for a second. "One day, you should make up a name for yourself."
Another long silence followed. Grimmjow could see, in the horizon, an almost imperceptible ray of light burst through the clouds.
"So how's Hueco Muendo like, now that Aizen's gone?" Ichigo's hollow asked.
"The hollows there are confused, now that they don't have a leader anymore," Grimmjow answered. "The Hogyoku was lost in the war; it still hasn't been found. About half of the Vasto Lordos are trying to find it. The other half- they aren't interested in becoming arrancar. They're trying to find the next level of evolution. They formed a temporary alliance- kill and eat all the Vasto Lordos trying to find the Hogyoku, and then they're going to turn on each other. Whoever comes out on top- well, I guess whoever comes out on top becomes the next king of Hueco Muendo."
"And what are you doing now?" Ichigo's hollow asked.
"I'm trying to find a way for arrancar to evolve," Grimmjow said. "Aizen told us that arrancar couldn't evolve anymore. I think its bullshit. One of the Espada- Uliquorra- found something. He managed to upgrade his Resureccion so that his power rivaled that of Stark, the Prima Espada. I was the only person besides Uliquorra who knew it existed before he revealed it to Ichigo. Uliquorra didn't even know that I knew."
"And then I killed him," Ichigo's hollow stated.
Grimmjow chuckled. "Yes, you did. Do you even remember how you did it?"
"Hell no," the hollow responded, laughing.
Grimmjow grinned widely. "Well, anyways, Uliquorra made me think. How did he achieve that new level? Well, obviously, it was possible. So all I did was hunt down the strong hollows., and one day, sure enough, I achieved the second stage."
"So what's going to happen in Hueco Muendo now?"
"I'm closer than ever to becoming King," Grimmjow responded. "I don't know what the Vasto Lordos will accomplish in their little civil war. There's bound to be someone who's going to rise up from it all, and maybe the winner will challenge Soul Society again."
Grimmjow could see a longing in the hollow's eyes, and he realized that Ichigo's hollow would never be able to participate in the competition that all hollows were allowed to take part in.
"You're really missing out on some war," Grimmjow said quietly. The hollow glared at him angrily. "You think?!" he shouted.
"Ichigo's probably going to wake up soon," Grimmjow said, "so I'm gone."
The hollow winced in pain. "Damn, you're right, he's waking up," he said, growling. "Fuck!"
"Wait," Grimmjow said. "I'm going to come back here one day."
"The fuck do you mean?" the hollow asked, grabbing his head in pain.
"Look, don't let Ichigo completely take over anytime so," Grimmjow said, getting off of the roof. "One day, I'm getting you out of his body."