Chapter One: Introduction
I dream to touch the impossible.
It is amazing to think one pair of soft brown eyes started it all. It is also hard to imagine that my days working at estate stables would lead me in front of the prince's steel grey thoroughbred. As I walked through the enticing, rich mahogany doors bearing the only entrance into the royal brick stable structure, I never expected to run into more excitement than tending to stable horses normally provided.
She could remember the first day. She was always calm, even when arriving to the beginning of a new career. It was only a side job before she prepared for her own inheritance of her father's business. It was perhaps because of his political standing that the stable keys twirled around her fingers. Perhaps he was the only reason she was granted unlimited access to their prestige horses. It was also her opportunity to prove that she could handle being in the presence of such prosperous people.
The stables were vacant aside from the normal melody of restless horses. The air was fresh and absolute, which defined how well kept it must have been. A system of pegs, shelves, and boxes organized everything; things Neliel would have to memorize eventually. She was relieved she didn't have to mess with cleaning or putting accessories in order. Her only task was general care and maintenance on the horses, not the building or anything associated with it.
She smiled to herself at how relaxing the job already was. Pacing down the aisles, she took brief note of the nametags on each stall door. Their names were gold plated with elegant text, most of them having rich sound to their pronunciation. Glancing at each horse, she tried to recognize how well their names matched their build and physique. Her behaviors resembled a student preparing for an unexpected quiz, though it was doubtful she would need this specific of memorization. When she reached the end of the aisle, she took a longer glance at the last horse.
Pantera. His title was unique, and seemed to match his sleek grey coat that shone over his tall, lean body. His glance went past her, and she realized she was not able to enjoy her peaceful afternoon alone. Neliel swung around to see who had joined the peaceful ensemble.
Peaceful, until the pasture doors swung open with an almost angry gust of air. The force left dirt clouding the air in a dusty shamble. Obviously, a person was behind it, and she pleasured the mystery of the shadowed persona hidden by the sandy breeze that made her squint in its direction.
That was when she realized royalty could certainly match people's descriptions. As the dust began to part around him, she took in all his details as she tried to place where he belonged in this world. He seemed too perfect, perhaps too handsome to be entirely realistic, or it was just the dust in her eyes leading her into some fantasy high. He looked princely. His face was lean and handsome, and his hair was fairly short with a tousled style that left strands hanging around his face haphazardly. His hair color matched his icy azure eyes that already held intimidation. He was rather tall and lean with a well-balanced tone to his body, his dress shirt hinting at that tonality with its fitting form and partially unbuttoned style. His lips formed an even line of dissatisfaction as he looked her over.
"You must be the new girl," he said with a deep, rough voice, releasing his holding stare on her to grab something off the shelf. She wasn't paying attention to what he was doing; she only saw his movements as she tried to identify his personality.
"Yes, I am. Am I in the way?" She asked him, her words straight, but her mind flustered with the idea that she was interacting with one of the owners already.
"It seems you are."
"Sorry," she stepped aside and he moved to her place before his eyes returned to her.
"You know the last girl obsessed Pantera too," he said snidely, almost threatening her with getting too involved, "She was fired."
"I just happened to end here, I'm not obsessing," she said with a stern tone, becoming organized as she realized he was staring her down with fire in his eyes. It seemed as though royalty came with its other downfalls, such as an attitude, another thing she had been well informed of simply by understanding families like his that were associated with her own. She had hoped it wouldn't be true as she made the decision to work there. "He is a handsome one though," Neliel said with a slight smile, trying to ease the tense air.
"Heh, of course he is, he's mine." Arrogance too. He opened the stable and the horse stepped forward as he held the lead in hand. "He also tends to have issues with our stable workers."
"You and your horse are that close, huh? I doubt your horse can have that picky of taste." Then again, if he is anything like his owner, it would only make sense. She spoke playfully, but he ignored her airy personality.
"They annoyed me as well." Perhaps they are alike. He glanced at her while he placed a saddle on Pantera. "So, who are you?"
"Sorry for being rude," she jumped at the realization of her disregard, "Neliel Tu Oderschvank." She bowed slightly, instead of offering her hand, knowing it was unlikely that he was the type for handshakes. Then, she returned his request by looking at him expectantly. He gave a slight, almost feral smile.
"Grimmjow Jaggerjaques," he said while adding final touches to Pantera, "Perhaps I won't be writing that name of yours on dismissal papers."
"I would like to think not." Her eyes followed him with determination as he turned away and walked toward the pasture. The sleek grey horse followed him, both of their postures carrying royal superiority. It was possible that one horse determined whether his estate would declare her a good worker. She had no intentions of slacking, or disappointing them, but it seemed as though she was being thrown an extra hurdle to work over. She would have to learn everything about that horse and his prince. She didn't know who she could turn to for the situation. Luckily, while one annoyance creeps in, a useful one shadows it.
"He's a grouchy one, huh?" the voice startled her, and she spun around to meet a pair of green tinted cerulean eyes on a small figure. He seemed young. He also seemed to carry similar traits to Grimmjow, but instinct made her think they just shared an icy appearance. His white hair was messy, and his face was unyielding and sophisticated. His voice was too deep to be so young in appearance, and after looking at him closer, he seemed to hold more intelligence and age than a quick appearance allowed.
"I'm not one to judge so quickly, and I've dealt with that attitude before," she tried to sound positive in her predictions.
"It runs in the family, really," he said, leaning against one of the walls, seeming to be too relaxed, like he was at home and simply interacting with her as though she was now part of the structure. His eyes were closed, as though he didn't care to see her: only words mattered to him. That was his way of concentrating, Neliel perceived.
"Why are you staring at me, it's annoying." His eyes flashed in her direction as he waited for a response.
"Oh, sorry. If you don't mind me asking though… who are you?"
"He's Toshiro Hitsugaya," another voice accompanied them with a huff, and she turned slightly to catch a view of him walking into closer range. His hair was tied back, an unusual shade of bright red, that caught her attention. His eyes were relaxed, as though he was explaining things he had explained several times. That was probably the case, since it seemed as though Neliel's job was frequently under new management.
"He's in close contact with the Jaggerjaques. A distant member of their family, in fact. He has a short fuse as well," the red head casually pointed his thumb in Toshiro's direction, "So you may want to change hours to avoid both of them."
"I do not have a short fuse," Toshiro said shortly, contradicting his words with tone. "That," he said, tilting his head in the direction of the other man, "Is Renji Abarai. He also works for the Kuchiki family, but due to the annoyance he tends to be, they told him to work elsewhere for part of the week."
"I'm not annoying. Byakuya just doesn't know how to handle close support," he mused, disappointment fuming in the tight line his lips formed, and in the glare he threw in Toshiro's direction.
She stared at both of them as they bickered. Was that all they came here to do? Why would they show up at the same time if they disagreed so much? Sighing, she began walking down the aisles again, evaluating the horses with another quick glance in the stalls. She wondered where she should start, what their personalities were, how they liked to be handled. Now I'm just being paranoid.
"Hey, where are you going? You didn't even say your name," Renji called after her. She put a hand up in retaliation.
"I don't have time to listen to you two, but, the name's Nel."
"I find it interesting you don't give us your full name, yet you had no problems being professional with Grimmjow." Toshiro's words hit her, and she turned around to face him.
"How long have you been in here?"
"I hang around all the time, you just weren't paying attention," he smirked, "Perhaps it's because you were too busy staring elsewhere."
"I was concentrating on the name tags," she said matter-of-factly, and continued to walk away from them.
"Are you sure you don't want a tour? I'm sure I could help," another new voice. Where were these people coming from? She couldn't help but to turn around and smile at the new face.
This woman seemed more calm and reasonable than the other stable guests, or whatever they were. Neliel took in the new woman's appearance as she watched her walk in her direction. Three braids fell around her shoulders and thick blond hair was left disheveled around her face. The brightness of her hair contrasted against her dark skin with vibrancy. Intelligent jade eyes shone with the same distinction. She was tall and held a feminine frame, wearing a plain green sweater and jeans, nothing too special, but she looked professional in stance.
She walked past Neliel, which didn't leave her with much of a choice for responding. Either way, it would have been the same answer, she wasn't entirely sure of her position yet.
"Sure, that would be nice," Neliel muttered with a hint of her upbeat personality kicking the restlessness away. She fell in place behind the woman, and they were soon out of the stables. The other two hadn't said a word about her up and leaving on them, so she assumed they were hushed by the tanned woman's appearance.
"You must have to settle those two a lot," Neliel said shyly, holding her nerves off in hopes that she had accomplished some sort of humor.
"I manage the Jaggerjaques estate. I manage their business, and their employees, as well as some of the people living here." She explained, knowing Neliel was curious about her superiority. She was too stern for a relaxed conversation, but it provided ample time for Neliel to get answers.
"Oh. So you hired me?"
"Yes, I did," she turned to glance back at her, "I understand how prosperous your family is."
"Oh, yeah. Working at a stable is the only job I can handle while going to college," she said, half-ashamed that her family legacy was trailed by their only daughter's decision to work at a stable.
"I understand that. As an only child I assume you are going to be taking over the business in the future."
"Yes… how did you know I was an only child?"
"I screen employees thoroughly," she turned to look in front of her again. They were standing before a large field, fenced off with intricate wooden rails. Everything was evenly placed in straight lines along the field. The field itself was mowed and the grass shone a healthy green. A separate field to the left had jumps in a pattern she assumed changed regularly for training. So they must work their horses for competition. She grinned to herself; certainly that was Grimmjow's kind of thing.
"Wow, it looks nice out here. I hadn't really paid attention when I came in," she muttered sheepishly.
"The fields aren't noticeable until you're on the east side of the stables. These fields had to be cleared since this whole area used to be forest."
"Seems like a lot of work, keeping it all looking this nice."
"Not too much, considering the staff. You already met Renji, he keeps the stable organized."
"That doesn't seem too bad."
"It depends on how organized you plan to be," she folded her arms across her chest as she allowed Nel to stare at everything around her. Elegant flowers decorated the fence line; trees were trimmed and healthy along pathways leading away from the main area of the stables.
"I suppose I should show you what to do, but this is basically where you will be working," she said after a moment of silence. She turned away and began walking again, expecting Nel to follow as obediently as everyone else had. Nel took a quick glance across the field once more, and saw it was unoccupied. Where did he go? She couldn't help but to think of Grimmjow again, it was only natural for her to be curious about him, about how he came and disappeared so easily, yet he lingered in her mind.
"You can do all the basics, I'm sure you know what they are, but there are a few extras I'd like to add on."
"What about Pantera?"
"Ah, you must have met Grimmjow already," she said with a sigh, "Yes, that is one of the additional responsibilities."
"Will I seriously lose my job over that horse?"
"No. I won't allow him to excuse you. The others needed to go anyway."
"How can you be so sure I'm going to be so much better?"
"I just know," she said as they entered the stables again. The other two weren't there anymore, so Nel assumed they had found another way to occupy their time since they wouldn't want to interfere with the…
"If you wouldn't mind me asking, what's your name?"
"Halibel," she replied simply, neglecting to add a last name, and then she continued her lesson. "You'll be grooming and maintaining the horses. You already know how to handle them, so I trust you will give them the attention they need. If you want to work with them aside from your grooming job, we can work out further arrangements."
"Yes, I believe I can handle that," she smiled, "I'll wait until I know them better before I expand my work."
"If you have further questions, I'm around a lot, or you can ask the other two," she glanced behind her to where they were both leaning casually against the entrance of the barn, as though knowing her speech was ending.
"Yeah, sure. Can I ask you something right now?"
"What's so important about Pantera?" She asked again, glancing at the empty stall at the end, the gate still left ajar.
"He's a nice horse," she admitted plainly, "I'm not sure I can say much other than that. Potentially, the answer would be his speed and untamed nature. No one else can handle him too well, and he certainly has more agility than the others."
Neliel laughed lightly at that, "Yeah, I suppose that could be it. He seems like he'd like the thrill."
"Don't let him bother you too much," Halibel ended as she walked out of the stables to leave Nel to Renji and Toshiro who were waiting for their turn to jump in. She was out the door before Nel could chance at another question.
"Are you two afraid of her?" Nel asked with a slight smile gracing her lips for the first time.
"It's respect," Toshiro said dully, "I suggest you learn it if you plan to hold any ground here."
She laughed at him, "Ok. You both shied away pretty fast though."
"I would rather not admit that I lost my job here due to intolerance," Renji said, "the Kuchiki family would look down on that and monitor me closer than I'm already monitored."
"Who are these Kuchikis?" Nel asked, realizing she hadn't really thought about it earlier when it had been brought up. Of course, then she was unsure of everything – now she was slightly adjusted.
"A noble family, I'm amazed you're not toned to knowing all these families," Toshiro said with a hint of interest in the subject.
"I don't really pay much attention to nobility and business matters," she could feel disgrace lacing her words, "I don't really find it all that interesting."
"Well, that's one thing you and Grimmjow have in common then. Perhaps you will get along better than I had first anticipated."
"Don't get too excited. He's rebellious about it," Renji said with his eyes closed and his words flowing with drone tonality.
"Anyway, I have more important matters to attend to," Toshiro stood and walked off without looking back.
"I should be getting back to the Kuchiki's," Renji said fervently, hanging gloves up on a peg and brushing himself down.
"Have fun," Nel smiled at him.
"You can go home too, everything was taken care of so you could just get an introduction for today," he muttered, watching her carefully as she tensed.
"Oh, I'm fine here for a little while."
"Whatever you want I guess," he shrugged. Once he was gone, Neliel found herself silently deciding what she wanted to waste her time with. She didn't want to go home, not yet. This was a way of escaping her father's restrictions, a way for her to escape discipline and preparation for a future she didn't want to take responsibility for.
She stopped before one of the mares and absently held her hand out to stroke its head. It accepted her offering, so calm and absorbent to her touch. It was when the horse leaned into her hand that she took the time to actually look at it instead of staring off toward the pasture waiting for the mystery of Pantera to leap at her face.
She smiled as though the mare might understand her apology for being distracted with other matters that shouldn't have concerned her. The mare's coat was a ruffled texture, russet in color. Her eyes were the same rich brown that Neliel loved of most horses, and she stared at her as though they had known each other before. After a moment of looking the mare over, she glanced at the nametag. Gamuza.
I do have another GrimNel story, and it will be updated soon… I just got inspiration for this, so… I'm going to try for updating three chapter stories… Just might take me some time, but this one I already have a good start on and a lot of inspiration for… so I hope this one won't take so long between updates ^^
Big thanks to Shay for coming up with the idea 3
Thanks for reading. Reviews are appreciated ^^