Pant. Gasp. Pant. Gasp.
He growled, his ragged jacket flying behind him as he clawed at his opponent. What was her name? Menoly? He didn't care. His Master didn't care. All he saw were breaks in her guard, all he felt was the rush of adrenaline. He would win. He was made for it. The metal collar around his neck was a constant reminder of that.
His world right now consisted of himself and the girl.
Sweat and blood flew from his head as he spun his body into a roundhouse kick aimed for the girl's throat. Menoly managed to block the kick with her hands, and stumbled back from the force of it.
She was panting and bloody, much like himself, but the bruises and scratches that marred her lithe body were far more numerous than his own. He almost felt bad for her, but remembered his Master's words: Show no mercy.
So he would not.
Around them, the crowd went wild from behind the electric fence. The lights blinded him as he looked up to his Master's face. Aizen was smirking, his brown hair swept back, white suit impeccable. Oh, how he despised his Master.
The girl screamed and lunged for him again, and he almost laughed at how weak she was. He twisted away from her fist, crouched, and easily swept her legs out from beneath her. When she landed, he did not hesitate. He pinned her with his left foot and, ignoring her screams, clutched her right leg and ripped it from her body with a ferocious roar.
Blood covered him as he looked down on his prey. He did not meet her eyes, however; to look into the eyes of one's prey would be to connect with them, and he avoided that as much as possible. It was harder to kill someone if you knew them.
Instead, he took in her pitiful shrieks as her life's blood poured unrelenting from her broken body. He was not sorry. In the battle between his life and the life of someone else, his would always take precedence.
Despite his horrible existence, he would not let himself die. He was the king.
He was brought back to reality as the announcer's voice crowed over the screaming crowd. "She is dead! Dead! Sexta is victorious! The victor is SEXTA!"
Sexta. Six. That was his number. His name. The thing that marked him as Lord Aizen's property, forever etched in black upon his back.
He looked up again, and met his Master's eyes. Aizen was happy; no doubt would he gain much from his Sexta's victory tonight. The Sexta glared, conveying all of his hate into his gaze that he could not voice aloud.
He stared until the stadium lights burned his eyes, and he was forced to look away.
"Come on, Ichigo!" A loud voice sounded from outside the door. "Open up!"
Ichigo groaned and rolled over on the couch, promptly falling out and hitting the floor. He cursed as his forehead landed with a smack on the hardwood. The textbooks that had been resting on his chest as he slept fell around him, along with all of the papers that he used to mark his place. He groaned, realizing that he would have to reorganize everything. Across the room, Renji continued to bang relentlessly on the door.
"Dude!! You alive in there?"
Ichigo didn't respond; instead, he padded to the door and threw it open, a snarl on his face.
"Hey man, wass—" Ichigo yanked Renji inside, and slammed the door behind him.
"What do you think you're doing?!" he hissed.
Renji smiled, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "Let's go out, man! The night is young, and Rukia wants to go to a rave."
"The night is young? You do realize it's one o' clock in the morning, don't you?"
The redhead stared back blankly. Ichigo fought the urge to bang his head against the wall.
"And anyway, exams are coming up; I need to study."
Renji groaned. "Ichigo! Come on, man! We've got two weeks of vacation to go—"
"—Whatever, and you're focused on studying? It's no wonder you haven't gotten laid yet."
"I think it's time for you to leave."
Renji sighed. "Look, I'm sorry man." He tried a different tactic. "It's just that I'm worried about you, all alone out here. This neighborhood is seedy. I'm pretty sure I almost got raped on my way."
Ichigo raised an eyebrow. "Well you're here now, aren't you? And it's not that bad, really."
He tried to ignore the way Renji critically eyed the old furniture littering the living room, and the bucket placed under the "drippy spot" in the middle of the kitchen.
He had moved here, into the cheapest apartment he could find, less than six months ago when he turned eighteen. He was paying for it by working at his father's clinic, and loved it. It wasn't that he hated living with his family; it was just a dream of his to make it on his own. And the apartment wasn't going to be permanent, anyway. He was just starting out.
He knew, though, that the area wasn't the best for those living alone. There were rumors of an underground fight club called Las Noches, where men and women were pitted against each other in merciless death matches. It was said that children as young as seven or eight were kidnapped right off of the streets, or bought from corrupt orphanages deep in the bowels of Karakura. They were then bred to fight.
Ichigo knew they were only rumors, but one could never know for sure in a city like the one he lived in.
"Come on, Ichigo. Just one night. We hardly hang out anymore." Renji whined.
Just one night. He always ended up having fun with his friends anyway. "Alright…let me just go get changed."
He sighed, calming himself. He had planned this night for months.
After the fight, his Master's lead henchmen, Tousen and Gin, had grabbed him and led him to the basement where his cage was located. He didn't protest as they threw him inside, or growl when they carelessly tossed a can of Vienna sausages and a loaf of bread under the door. Instead he waited, comforting himself with the thought that soon, he would taste freedom for the first time in seventeen years.
It was his turn to be free.
His musings were interrupted by a recognizable knock at his door. He waited; it was not as if his Master would wait for his consent before entering. Sure enough, the door swung open, and Aizen entered. His glasses flashed under the light of the sole bulb that illuminated the Sexta's small dwelling; as he took in the blue-haired man's tense form, he smirked.
"You did well tonight, pet." He drawled. "You won us a hefty sum, and for that I am quite pleased."
Aizen reached out a pale hand, but the Sexta drew away, the beginnings of a grimace on his lips. He looked down and away, refusing to meet his Master's eyes.
He did not see the dark look that passed over Aizen's usually calm face. The older man stepped back. "I have brought you some new clothes to replace your bloodied ones."
The Sexta hardly moved as a neatly wrapped package landed on his cot.
"Your next opponent will arrive in two days' time. We will train tomorrow, so rest up." With that, Aizen turned and left, shutting the door gently behind him.
After his retreating footsteps could not be heard any longer, the Sexta eyed the package on his bed, then grabbed it and tossed it across his cell. He had no desire to accept anything given to him by Lord Aizen. The very thought of it made him want to be sick.
Two hours passed before he heard the first gunshot.
The Sexta sat up in his bed, alert and ready. His gaze locked on the heavy metal door, and he longed to know what was going on outside. Soon, he heard two loud grunts, and someone striking his doorframe with something hard. A few seconds later, the door swung open, and a familiar form stood before him, gun in hand.
"Di Roy," he rasped, grinning. "You made it."
The fair-haired man smiled back, sharp teeth making his appearance seem feral. "Yes. You have to hurry, though. Aizen's men don't take long."
They ran out the open door, leaping over the bodies of the two guards whose job was to watch over the fighter's cell.
"This way!" Di Roy hissed, grabbing the Sexta's arm and leading him through a maze of damp concrete hallways until they reached a flight of stairs. They both turned as the sound of rapid gunfire filled the hallway from whence they came.
A harsh scream sounded, followed by several shouts.
"Shit!" Di Roy said. "Sounds like Yylfordt and Nakeem couldn't hold them off." A pained look crossed his face as he turned to his companion. "Hurry, Sexta. They're probably dead."
The fighter didn't need to be told twice. He sprinted up the worn metal stairs, up to what looked like moonlight spilling through an opening only a few feet ahead. He spared a glance back down, to make sure Di Roy was behind him. But the young man had turned back to face the hallway, a determined look on his face.
He noticed the incredulous stare of the Sexta. "Just go!" he cried. "Sexta, the five of us promised that we would always stand by you! Now's your chance—"
Di Roy was cut off as a gun was fired and several shots sent him staggering back. The fighter dodged as more shots were fired in his direction, but one struck him directly in the shoulder. His mouth opened in a silent cry as burning pain lanced up and down his arm.
He turned back towards the moonlight and the promise of freedom, but not before seeing his attacker's face: it was Tousen.
"You cannot run, Sexta! You were born to fight! You live to kill!" Tousen's voice echoed up the stairwell, but the fighter was already gone, sprinting down the alleyway the stairs led up to and to the empty city streets beyond.
The Sexta laughed, sucking in the clean night air and reveling in how much space surrounded him. And the stars! Never had he seen a sight so beautiful as the night sky turning slowly above him. His Master had taken him for "walks" before in the daytime to keep him healthy, but he had not seen the moon or tasted the scent of night before in his life.
It was so different from the dank, mildew-infested cell he had called home for so long that it made him feel light-headed.
He was so wrapped up in his joy that it took a few minutes before he realized that his old friends, the ones who risked their lives to set him free, were probably all dead. Shawlong. Edrad. Nakeem. Yylfordt. Di Roy.
He shut his eyes, remembering how they had all promised to protect him and each other; their bond one of the only things keeping him sane in the hell they all existed in under Aizen.
Then he growled, ignoring the pain that still radiated from his shoulder, and ran faster. If he did not escape, if he did not thrive, it would put their memory to shame. It spurred him on as he disappeared into the night, putting as much distance between himself and Las Noches as possible.
Ichigo shivered, mumbling grouchily to himself as he walked home. Not only had Renji gotten drunk, but he had spent all of his and Ichigo's pocket money on drinks and was thus unable to give him cash for a taxi home.
Sure, it was cool to be at a rave; Renji, Rukia and the rest of his friends surely had fun. It was held Urahara Shoten, a club owned by a man named Kisuke and his partner Yoruichi; it was disguised as an mundane shop during the day.
Kisuke had been in Ichigo's life for as long as he could remember; he taught him how to fight, and was there for advice whenever his scatter-brained father couldn't take the time. Yoruichi, too, had been with Kisuke for a long time; she acted as bartender in the club, and kept Kisuke in line.
The streetlights flickered as Ichigo rounded onto his block and made his way to his apartment complex. It was a cold night, and he was tired; he hadn't really had a drink, except for a sip of something fruity that Rukia had urged him to try. He figured he would take a shower, then maybe find something to watch on the television before going to bed. It wasn't like he had anything going on tomorrow…
Ichigo's train of thought came to a screeching halt as he reached the alcove where his apartment door was situated. There was a dark shape huddled there, and Ichigo was sure he could make out dried blood in the dim light. Fear danced up his spine; he didn't know what to do.
The dark shaped moved, and Ichigo froze as two clear, piercing blue eyes stared into his own. "Help me…" A low voice rasped.
Without thinking, Ichigo moved forward, jamming his key into the door and swinging it open before reaching towards the man crouching on his porch. In the light that spilled out from the hallway, he could make out the man's face.
Ichigo kneeled down and gasped; the man was…well, the man was gorgeous. Blue hair framed cerulean eyes, which had strange markings near the temples. The man had a strong jaw, too; there was something about him that was distinctly feline, and Ichigo found himself unable to look away.
Then the blue eyes met his own, and Ichigo remembered where he was. "Hold on to me; I'll help you up."
The mysterious man obeyed, grunting as he did so. Ichigo held his breath as he held onto the man, feeling something wet that he fervently prayed was not blood.
"W-What…What's your name?" he murmured, slowly leading the man inside.
Ichigo noticed how he was shivering violently, and reminded himself to fetch blankets as soon as they were safely inside. He also didn't miss the torn, bloody white jacket the man was wearing, with no undershirt; no wonder he was so cold!
The man chuckled then, a dark sound. Ichigo wondered what he found funny.
"My name…" The piercing eyes found his again. "It has been a long time since I've been asked that."
"…I am Grimmjow."
(A/N: Hello, reader, and welcome to my AU GrimmIchi tale of sex, blood, and romance! This is yaoi, so hetero people, consider yourselves warned. This is also disclaimer time; Bleach and all of its characters, names, etc. © Tite Kubo and Viz Media.
If anyone is confused, Grimmjow's name was not used at all in the beginning because, as a fighter, he was only known by his number, and not as a person. I also know that it may be considered a bit OOC that he mourned for his Fraccion, but this is AU, and they served a bit of a different purpose.
I hope you stick around to enjoy the next installment. Until then, please drop a review on your way out; they are greatly appreciated.)