A/N: Sorry about the small wait, hehe, I've been playing Resident Evil 4. Gah, I LOVE Leon and Luis. They are AWESOME, but I can't stand Ashley… if anyone has ever played the game, how long do I have to keep her tagging behind me? She's in the WAY. Anyway, thanks everyone for reading. If I haven't answered your reviews, I sorry.
oOo Volume 05 oOo
"Kurosaki Ichigo," Kuchiki Byakuya addressed as he took a cursory glance around the park and then honed in on the child in his arms.
Byakuya glared at him briefly. "We got a report of a Menos Gillian in the area and the fall of the resident shinigami."
Ichigo scowled. "Your report is wrong," he said darkly. "There were two Menos and I only just got to this second one because of that idiot!"
"Yah, my little sister was walking home and ran into it. She can see Hollows and shinigami."
"We need to go somewhere to talk about this."
"Urahara's shop then, that's where I left my body. Here take this." He handed Zangetsu to Byakuya and adjusted his little sister.
Byakuya moved into place next to Ichigo. "What of the shinigami?"
"Asshole got in my way when I was deflecting it's Cero. I saved him once but he jumped in again at the wrong time. I almost left the Menos there."
"There's no body then."
"Nope. Where's Renji?"
"On another assignment with Madarame-san, two Menos were spotted on the outskirts of Rukongai."
"So it's not just here," Ichigo said shaking his head. "I wondered why they suddenly appeared. There's been no activity for weeks."
"We suspect it's Aizen."
"No," Ichigo rebuked looking straight ahead. "From what I heard, he's still in bad shape and he doesn't have the man power at the moment."
Byakuya looked at him sharply. "How do you know this?"
"A whisper in the wind," Ichigo answered with a smirk. In other words, he wasn't telling and Byakuya acknowledged that considering his sharp look became pointier.
Urahara Shop came into view and the blond was already waiting. "Ichigo?"
"It's fine," Ichigo insisted as he held the door open.
Ichigo laid Karin on the futon in the guest room and covered her small body. He breathed a sigh of relief before picking up his own body and slipping into it.
Adjusting his shoulders, he rushed a hand through his hair and nodded to Urahara as Tessai served some tea.
"It is rather curious as to why the Menos are suddenly appearing without any of the weaker ones following," Urahara hummed.
"Thank you," Byakuya said to Tessai who bowed respectfully.
Ichigo took a long drink of his and plopped down next to Urahara.
Byakuya asked Ichigo to tell him what happened from the beginning and he did, while leaving Grimmjow out of it.
Urahara noticed the hole in Ichigo's story. It wasn't possible for Ichigo to get to both at the same time, not with the other shinigami attempting to show off.
Byakuya also noticed as he placed his tea cup down.
"It seems, Kurosaki Ichigo that you're leaving something important out."
"Nothing," Ichigo insisted taking several more gulps. "I told you what I know."
"Your sister, how did she escape the Gillian?"
"She ran," Ichigo answered. "I heard her shouting for me. I can hear her for miles, whether I'm near or not. I felt her fear."
Ichigo whirled around to see Karin standing by the door, rubbing her eyes with one hand while clutching the wall with the other.
"Karin! Are you alright?" he asked as she came over without giving Byakuya a single glance and leaned into him.
"I'm fine Ichi-nii who was that?" Her eyes widened when she finally took notice of the other shinigami's hard glare at her brother and saw Urahara discreetly shaking his head. "Eh, never mind," she took Ichigo's tea without even asking and took a few drinks before slipping into his lap. "What was that thing?"
"A Menos Grande," Ichigo explained and he told her of their levels.
"There are bigger ones?"
"Not bigger, but more dangerous and vicious. They're smarter."
"What did he look like?" Byakuya asked Karin.
Karin blinked. "Who are you?" she asked bluntly.
Byakuya seemed to remember his manners. "My name is Kuchiki Byakuya, I'm a Captain of the Gotei 13."
"Oh," Karin said glancing back at Ichigo and back to Byakuya. "I see, your Rukia's brother."
"I am. What did this person look like?"
Ichigo squeezed Karin's sides gently to warn her and she caught on quickly.
"It was Ichi-nii," Karin lied baldly. "I didn't recognize him."
"Probably because Ichigo was masked," Urahara intervened smoothly. "I don't think Karin-san has ever seen Ichigo's Vizard form."
Byakuya didn't buy it but he knew that he wouldn't get anything out of the little girl now. "I can tell that you are holding something back and while it is my job to pry, I have a feeling I do not want to know. But don't expect the same courtesy if such a thing was to occur again." He placed his cup of tea aside. "Kurosaki Ichigo, show me where the shinigami fell?"
"Ah, yah," Ichigo said as Karin moved off him. "I'll be back Karin."
Ichigo almost scowled when he left the shop and he felt as though he were being watched. Damn Grimmjow! He thought shoving his hands into his pockets and glaring at the sidewalk. Did he want to get caught?
Byakuya paused and he could see scorch marks in the ground from the Cero's fired. "Using Shunpo it would take you approximately five minutes to reach the park and if the Menos appeared at the same time, you would not have had any time to get the second if the shinigami had interfered. Your sister has a high amount of spiritual concentration so the Hollow would have targeted her immediately."
Ichigo crossed his arms. He refused to explain the inconsistency and his look must have been enough because Byakuya shifted to look at him better and all was silent.
"You won't tell me, will you?"
"I would never say a word about someone who saved my little sister when I could not, whether they're supposed to be an enemy or not."
That told Byakuya a lot, he clasped his hands behind his back and walked right up to Ichigo. He leaned in and brushed his cheek along Ichigo's as he whispered into his ear. "Then I suppose the inconsistency lies in your perfect timing then."
Ichigo's eyes widened, he was stunned by Byakuya's sudden change on authority. Seeing the gesture for what it was, Ichigo bowed his head. "A whisper in the wind," he said for the second time.
"Don't make me regret it, Kurosaki Ichigo."
Ichigo frowned and looked away. "I hope you don't either."
When Byakuya brushed passed, Ichigo thought he could hear the words, 'Do as you wish Kurosaki Ichigo, owing you all these debts is becoming tiresome.'
But he couldn't have been too sure.
Once Byakuya had disappeared, there was a swoop, and the raw musk scent filtered over Ichigo from behind. "Who the hell was that pussy?" Grimmjow growled.
"Kuchiki Byakuya, Sixth Division Captain, and he may look pretty but he's got a better developed Bankai than I ever could."
"Pfft, I bet I could take him," he sneered.
Ichigo didn't answer to that, whether it was true or not, he wouldn't endorse Grimmjow or Byakuya. "I thought I told you to go."
Grimmjow scoffed. "As if I would listen to you, Ichigo, besides, I didn't like the looks of that pretty boy." He really hadn't been pleased with how close he got, it bothered him on a level he really wished not to talk about.
Resisting the roll of his eyes, Ichigo turned around and he wasn't exactly sure what he was going to say to Grimmjow, a thank you would be redundant, he'd done it once and that was enough and neither of them were the mushy type. But before he could get anything out there was a clip-clop of sandals on the pavement.
Ichigo shifted as Grimmjow tensed up at the thick blood boiling danger of reiatsu that was so well controlled and tight that he was sure it could match Aizen's.
"Ah, it seems I came at the right time," Urahara said appearing with hat, cane, and his whole get up.
The light streamed across him from the streetlights and Urahara raised his head and eyed Grimmjow. "You must be the Sexta Espada, Grimmjow Jaegarjaquez."
"Who the hell are you?" Grimmjow asked bluntly.
"Such theatrics, Kisuke. Stop showing off. Grimmjow, this is Urahara Kisuke, he's the creator of the Hougyoku."
Grimmjow's eyes went round at the information. "I see."
"I think we should go back to my shop, perhaps have some tea."
"She's fine, she felt bad that she almost spilled your secret, but we seemed to have it covered well."
Grimmjow looked sideways at Ichigo to see him contemplating. What the hell was going on? This was the man that trained Ichigo? If this was the creator of the Hougyoku, it was no fucking wonder that his reiatsu was so tantalizing. He was on par with Aizen and it stood to reason why Ichigo could face the God-wanna-be-shinigami without little to no fear.
For once, Grimmjow almost felt insignificant.
Karin was waiting patiently for them to return and she stood quickly when she saw her blue haired savior. "Mr. Blue Mask!"
She was a lot like Ichigo, he thought. "Just what the hell were you doing out there kiddo?" Grimmjow asked bending down with his hands in his pockets to stare at her eye level. "Calling out to that Hollow."
Ichigo looked at his sister sharply to see her cheeks a little red. "I was hoping to draw it's attention long enough for Ichi-nii to come. If it had gone into the city, no telling what would have happened!" She defended crossing her arms over her chest and the same scowl she gave was one just like Ichigo's.
"Tch, just like him, selfless brats."
Ichigo glared and not-so-gently elbowed Grimmjow in the ribs. "Bastard. I'm sorry, I didn't get there in time, Karin."
Karin waved her hand. "S'alright, Mr. Blue Mask got there. Thanks for that by the way."
"It's Grimmjow, kid."
"Karin then," Karin shot back.
"Ahh, now that the pleasantries are out of the way, everyone have a seat!" Urahara called genially. "I have enough tea to go around. Karin-san, would you mind seeing Tessai about something?"
Karin narrowed her eyes, knowing very well that he simply wanted her out of the way. She looked up at her Ichi-nii who nodded to her. "Alright."
"Don't leave the shop!" Ichigo called out and she waved her hand.
"Of course, Ichi-nii," she dismissed as she left the room.
"A wild evening, I say," Urahara said placing his elbows on the counter and leaning up. "Tell me what happened thoroughly, so I don't mess up the next time I have to cover for you."
Grimmjow was surprised by that and took the tea, even if he didn't want it. Ichigo told him everything and Grimmjow picked up where he left off.
"Ah, I see," Urahara hummed airily. "It's a good thing you were there Grimmjow-san. This not only occurred in Karakura but Soul Society as well."
"He doesn't know anything, Kisuke."
"I know," Urahara said factually. "However, I know why and they won't be last of them."
"What's going on?" Ichigo asked suspiciously.
"Gillian are so famous for one reason and one reason only and it has nothing to do with their size. When they devour a soul it stays inside of them. Whether this is under Aizen's orders or someone else's it stands to reason that whoever is ordering the Gillian to come forth has plans on making new Arrancar. You could say that they are born within a Gillian."
Now that was something that Grimmjow didn't know and they were part of his own race.
Ichigo's eyes narrowed. "But if Aizen is in too bad of a way, who is dictating them?"
"Grimmjow-san, you don't have to answer if you think you will be held accountable but what Espada are left?"
Grimmjow arched an eyebrow at the strange wording of the question. He didn't really give a damn and since it was for Ichigo he didn't care to answer. "Starrk, Baraggan, Nnoitra, and Nel Tu. Starrk is too fucking lazy to get out of bed, Nnoitra doesn't do allies and Nel Tu is just a brat."
"Baraggan is the second Espada, the one that went up against Captain Soi Fon of the Gotei 13 and he's not dead but he had claimed to be the King of Hueco Mundo," Urahara said leaning back. "Aizen would not allow him to remain in Las Noches after the arrogant attempt on his life."
Grimmjow wondered how the hell he knew everything when he hadn't been there at the time. "He still claims it but he's a bull shitter. As far as I know, he's residing in the Forest of Menos."
"Shouldn't we have told Byakuya this?" Ichigo asked.
"Could have but no one would have believed us without proof," Urahara said lightly.
"Such as you predicting Aizen from the start."
Grimmjow glanced at Urahara shrewdly as the man smiled sadly. "I wish my theories had been wrong. I knew what Aizen was up too, I kept having that feeling and Shinji-san had it to and it was why he kept his distance. Sadly, it all came to pass right down to the most insignificant detail."
"So, we're just going to let this happen?" Ichigo asked darkly. "It seems to me that this Baraggan whoever he is, I got there too late to know, but he seems to be trying to make an army."
"The old fashioned way, using Gillian to gather souls of humans, considering his aspect of death is aging."
Too much information, he didn't understand a damn bit of it, but he nodded anyway, and yawned behind his hand. "Tomorrow I have school and a damn test," he grumbled darkly. "I'm exhausted. I think I'll take Karin home if there's nothing else?"
"If there is, I'll let you know. If you don't mind, Ichigo, I wouldn't mind speaking with Grimmjow-san a little longer." He smiled innocently making Ichigo's eyes narrow as Grimmjow shrugged.
"I don't care," he replied. It didn't escape Grimmjow that if there was a chance for him to get out from under Aizen Sousuke's thumb then Urahara Kisuke might be someone he might want to consider. From their particular conversation, Grimmjow just knew that with Urahara's mind and Ichigo's firepower the successor in such a battle was too obvious.
Urahara Kisuke wasn't arrogant. Aizen Sousuke was. Urahara knew facts about Aizen that even he didn't know, he also had grand knowledge of Hueco Mundo, knowledge that Grimmjow had no idea about.
It wouldn't hurt to see if there were other options. The only downside is less fighting but that could be squashed by other enjoyable things and he glanced over at Ichigo as he thought about them. He had to do a lot to hide his hunger when raked the teen up and down with his eyes like he always did.
Ichigo was simply delicious.
"Alright, see you." He looked briefly at Grimmjow before slipping out the door.
The both of them sat in silence until Ichigo and Karen's spiritual energy disappeared completely.
"Well, this has been a very interesting development," Urahara mused as he got up and retrieved a bottle of alcohol inside of a hidden cupboard. He took two shot glasses and placed one in front of Grimmjow. "It's your fault that my kidneys are bruised. It's rare to get Ichigo so worked up."
"How long have you known him?" Grimmjow asked necking back the burning alcohol. He'd never had the stuff before but it was nice, it stung his throat and tongue.
"Not as long as it would seem," Urahara answered smiling a bit. "Ichigo is not like most humans, Grimmjow and he is nothing like a shinigami."
"What the hell is he then?" Grimmjow growled holding out his glass for more. He was feeling a little light headed and it was nice.
"No, he's not a Siren," Urahara teased.
"A Siren is a term we use for someone who has an alluring quality that you just can't help but follow. In fact, Ichigo doesn't quite understand himself. You are not the first to set your eyes on him. I can tick off two-thirds of Gotei 13 that would do anything to get close to Ichigo, Captains included."
Grimmjow's eyes narrowed at that. What was Urahara saying? That he had competition? Like hell he did. "So that pretty boy was up to something?"
"Doubtful," Urahara dismissed. "I'll agree with you that Kuchiki-san does have an interest in Ichigo, but it would never come to light. For one, Kuchiki-san is too proud and two, Ichigo and Kuchiki-san would kill each other. The attraction would be there, but that wouldn't last long."
Chuckling softly, Urahara leaned back against the wall and drew his legs under him. "What about me? I'm his sensei and that's all he sees me as."
"That's bull shit," Grimmjow growled.
"Whatever my feelings may be for Ichigo has no bearings on his own, Grimmjow-san. Do you mean to ask if Ichigo showed an interest would I take the initiative?" Urahara smirked. "Only an idiot would say no to Ichigo. What I'm saying is, I am not surprised with your interest, Grimmjow-san, whether you're an Arrancar or not makes no difference to me."
"What does then? I have a feeling that you're going somewhere threatening with this."
"Not at all, not at all." Urahara waved his hand nonchalantly. "What makes the difference to me, Grimmjow-san is Aizen." He turned very serious. "I told you that if given the chance, I would snap Ichigo up in an instant. It has been known that Aizen has the same taste as me, not only that, but he has no problem with his persuasions. If for any reason, Ichigo was to wind up in the same room as Aizen, I will bet my Zanpakuto that he would be out to claim him and not only that but he would succeed."
Grimmjow sneered. "That fucked up, God-wanna-be-bastard won't succeed in shit!" The mere thought made his blood heat up to a scorching temperature and he necked back his third shot of alcohol.
"Oooh, you really are a hot-headed one," Urahara mused aloud. "Although, I'm not all that surprised. If I had known that seducing Ichigo in his sleep was one way to get him to glance my way, I would have done it when I first met him."
That was annoying, Grimmjow glared at Urahara. "He told you then?"
"Pretty much," Urahara admitted unabashedly. "He doesn't usually talk about his personal life, simply because he doesn't have much of one. But, you said some pretty rough things, Grimmjow-san."
"I know," Grimmjow said through clenched teeth.
"Just like you are still a Hollow, Ichigo is still a teenager. You are being bombarded with instincts that are completely out of your depth and the same goes for Ichigo."
"You know him well, don't you?" Grimmjow asked.
"Pretty much, yes," Urahara replied. He arched an eyebrow when Grimmjow took the bottle and poured himself a fourth. "Careful with that, a drunken Arrancar might not be the best."
Grimmjow gazed at him from the side. "I'll deal with it."
"In short Grimmjow-san, if you really want Ichigo, you'll have to choose between Aizen and him." Urahara said taking the bottle before Grimmjow could grab it. "This will be the only time we'll talk about this, because I don't think it needs to be said more than once. But if you choose Aizen, you damn well never show your face to Ichigo again, because he might not have the heart to kill you, but I hold no such reserves."
Grimmjow froze, his defense hackles shot up, and his first instinct was to pounce with ferocity but then, Urahara Kisuke released every ounce of reiatsu he possessed and Grimmjow found his face on the floor as the area flooded and the color of red hazed over his eyes. He was left panting and literally sweating.
"Good night, Grimmjow-san," Urahara said pleasantly as he reeled it all in and left the room.