This is currently in the process of being beta'ed. I wanted to get this out as soon as possible since it's been a while...
Summary: The colors of their uniforms aren't the only thing that separate Grimmjow and Ichigo. The fact that they are inherent enemies, bred to hate each other, does as well. North and South, vampire and werewolf, they were never meant to be. And yet, they were.
Warnings: Historical AU (American Civil War), yaoi, lemon, language, violence. Also, Federal = North and Confederate = South. Will be three chapters.
Borderlines Part II
A Grimmjow/Ichigo AU short story
Written for wolf's paradise
Night Division Camp
November 17th, 1864
Twenty three days until next Full Moon
Ichigo learned almost immediately that First Lieutenant Grimmjow Jaegerjaques was not exactly what he seemed. After two nights spent tethered to the ground in the lieutenant's tent without food or drink, the vampire finally decided to feed his prisoner, returning just before sunrise with a slab of undercooked meat on a tin plate and a canteen of water.
Ichigo blinked at the offering for a few seconds before pride overcame his hunger and thirst. His inhuman stamina would keep him alive for weeks without either though it would be a miserable, slow death. Pressing his lips together in a thin line, he glared up at Grimmjow, every last bit of his hatred burning in those honey brown orbs.
"So you wanna starve, then?" the vampire said, sneering and tossing the items onto the ground beside the orange-haired werewolf. "Fine with me, I could give a damn."
Ichigo clenched his fists so hard his fingernails bit into the flesh of his palms deep enough to hurt but stopping short of drawing blood. Bleeding, no matter how little, in the middle of a camp infested with bloodsuckers wouldn't turn out well.
"I'll kill myself before I let you filthy neckbiters use anything of mine to destroy my kin," he swore, voice as strong as he could make it whilst under the silver collar's influence.
He wasn't bluffing. Ichigo wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice his life in order to save countless others. All he would have to do was get his hands on one of the musket rifles in the camp that was loaded with silver bullets.
Grimmjow wasn't fazed by the other's declaration, clasping his hands behind his head before collapsing onto his cot.
"That'll be rather hard to accomplish when you can barely move, don't ya reckon?" he said before reaching over with one hand to a rectangular wooden box that rested on the makeshift table. Flipping the lid open, he retrieved a single cigar, clearly the expensive brand only plantation owners and politicians smoked. Then the blunette began to use a short knife he pulled from his jacket pocket to cut into the packing. Once he was done with... whatever he was doing (Ichigo was naive to the ways of cigar smoking), Grimmjow reached for a lighter that the orangette could see with his keen eyes was engraved with the vampire's initials. After the end of the cigar was lit, Grimmjow took a deep pull off of the thing, exhaling smoke through his nose. "I suggest you enjoy your last days. Hell knows our kind don't get a one way ticket to the pearly gates."
"Our kind? Are you trying to imply we're anything alike?" Ichigo snorted in derision, pulling his knees up to his chin and resting his arms atop them. He suppressed a shiver, his uniform not nearly enough to keep out the bitter cold.
"Yeah, yeah, you mutts think you're morally superior to us 'cause you don't have to feed off humans, but when it comes down to it we're the same. We were human once and now we're not. Now we're damned, cursed, etcetera etcetera." Grimmjow chuckled darkly and this time exhaled the gray vapor through his mouth, making smoke rings that drifted up and dissipated into thin air.
Ichigo opened his mouth to retort but found he had nothing to say to that at all.
In a way... the vampire had a point. They were complete opposites in every way, even down to their opposing hair colors, but perhaps they were the sort of the same. They were the monsters in a storybook, the creatures of the night, the stuff of nightmares. Though under the sun Ichigo could blend in with normal humans, under the full moon he'd be condemned as unnatural, a bloodthirsty beast, without a second thought.
But were they damned? If there was an afterlife for their kind, would the heavenly deity automatically banish them below to the fiery pits? Or were they forbidden from the otherworld, their demise the beginning of an eternity of nothingness?
It wasn't fair. Ichigo hadn't chosen this life. He'd only been seventeen, a child, when he was attacked by what he believed to be massive wolf on a night the moon was full. A bite mark that wouldn't fade and strange urges for raw meat had led to his being cast out by his own family, god-fearing people who wanted nothing to do with him. It was sheer blind luck that during his first transformation Ichigo a kindred soul has sensed and then found him.
That's how he'd met Kisuke Urahara, his mentor and the leader of the pack the orangette now considered his kin. His kin that were in mortal danger should that 'Lord Aizen' follow through with his repulsive plan.
"You look pathetic like that, like a dog with its tail between its legs.'" Grimmjow said, interrupting Ichigo's thoughts with a bark of laughter, lips parting to reveal dagger-like ivory fangs. "Surely the big, bad wolf ain't scared?"
"I'm not worried about myself, idiot. But you've obviously never cared about anyone other than yourself so I wouldn't expect you to understand," Ichigo spat, raising a hand to pull at the collar that felt as if it was gradually tightening around his throat.
"There you go again, talking 'bout shit you know nothing about. You're good at that," Grimmjow said, hazy smoke curling around his face to make his otherworldly blue eyes appear even more ethereal.
"Don't care," the blue-haired lieutenant cut the other off, discarding the only half-smoked cigar by throwing it onto the ground and crushing it with a booted foot that hung over the edge of his cot before rolling onto his side away from Ichigo.
The orangette took it as an obvious sign that Grimmjow was turning in for the day, the sun most likely close to rising. It was too bad that the heavenly orb of fire didn't burn bloodsuckers to a crisp like the legends said, instead only weakening them in an effect similar to what silver did to werewolves.
Ichigo wanted badly to be awake for when the sun rose, missing its winter-dimmed warmth since he'd somehow slept the whole day before, but he felt his eyelids grow heavy and gave into the fatigue overwhelming him, lying on his side on the cold ground. He needed to be awake and alert when the vampires were, after all.
"Eat and I'll take you outside tomorrow," Grimmjow's voice sounded suddenly and the orange-haired werewolf felt his eyes snap open in surprise and then narrow in suspicion. Why was the other so intent on him eating the food? Was it poisoned?
Curious, Ichigo reached out and brought the tin plate with the undercooked slab of beef and sniffed it. With his sensitive sense of smell he could easily detect if anything was off about the meat but, surprisingly, it was perfectly fine.
Deciding to take the risk and that, if Grimmjow was being truthful, going outside would be beneficial in helping him plan an escape, Ichigo tore into the meat, satiating the gnawing hunger that'd been plaguing him for the entire night and downed the water in the canteen, relieving his parched throat. After he was finished Grimmjow was statue still on his cot, deep in a vampiric, comatose like sleep.
And he was not the only one for the entire camp was deathly silent, not even the softest of sounds to be heard. It disturbed Ichigo; silence made him uneasy and though he was tired to the bone sleep didn't come easily that morning.
November 18th, 1864
Twenty two days until next Full Moon
It turned out that Lieutenant Jaegerjaques was a man (vampire, whatever) of his word.
Early that evening, traces of the sunset still visible on the horizon, Grimmjow woke the werewolf with a nudge of his boot and a "Get the fuck up already." Ichigo was confused for a few moments, disoriented and unaware of where he was until reality came crashing down making him scowl the pair of leather boots in front of his face.
"Do you want to go outside to play or what, mutt? I have shit to do," Grimmjow said impatiently, glaring down at the orangette.
Ichigo bit his tongue and pushed himself off of the ground, noting he was weaker than ever.. He felt unsteady on his feet but attempted to conceal the effects of the cursed metal as best he could, looking up into the blazing sapphire eyes of his warden defiantly.
"Lead the way," he said.
Grimmjow grinned in that vicious way of his before reaching down to grasp the chain connecting Ichigo's collar to the pole staked into the ground. Forgoing opening the lock with a key the vampire snapped a link of solid metal with his bare hands like it was nothing but a dry twig.
Ichigo couldn't stop the animalistic growl that ripped from his throat when Grimmjow tugged on the leash to his collar mockingly, nearly making the werewolf stumble as they walked through the tent flap and out to the battle camp bustling with activity despite the early hour.
"I only have one rule for you while we're out here; keep your trap closed. If you can manage that," Grimmjow said a few steps ahead of the werewolf. "If someone talks to you, ignore 'em."
"And what if I do speak to one of the other leeches?" Ichigo asked, bold words for a prisoner of war.
Grimmjow halted, looking over his shoulder, a smirk on his deceptively handsome face. His luminous cobalt eyes were glimmering with something that had a shudder running up the Union soldier's spine.
"The shit I'd get from Aizen if I killed you wouldn't be worth it, but trust me, pup, I have other ways of punishing you."
The words wouldn't have meant anything to Ichigo if it hadn't been for the way the blue-haired bloodsucker had said 'punishing', his rough velvet voice dark and husky and hinting at things Ichigo's mind could only imagine. Its effect on the orangette was obvious, jaw dropping as he couldn't think of anything to respond with.
Grimmjow gave a bark of laughter, evidently pleased to have rendered his prisoner speechless. He faced forward and began walking again, pulling Ichigo along with him before he spoke again.
"It's for your own good. You're a wolf among a hundred vampires and you can't watch your mouth like a good boy so keep it shut, savvy?"
Ichigo exercised his limited amount of tolerance and merely glared at the back of the lieutenant's sky blue head, hoping it would somehow explode if he did it long enough. However, that soon grew dull and he took the opportunity as they walked through the line of identical canvas tents to survey the camp more thoroughly.
There seemed to be nothing unusual about it aside from the female vampires clustered together, not cooking or hanging laundry but rather polishing and assembling musket rifles with practiced ease. Wearing Confederate mens' uniforms, no less. He imagined that Urahara's aubergine-haired wife, a kind of maternal figure to Ichigo, would've highly approved.
His heart clenched, stomach twisting and throat constricting as he thought of the couple and the rest of his kin, doomed because he hadn't been strong enough to fight off a single enemy. However, his guilty despondence was soon forgotten as something odd caught his eye.
Beside the women vampires was a group of children, but they weren't playing ring around the rosy or hide and seek. Instead, clear as day due to his enhanced vision, they were holding standard issue hunting knives in their small hands, sharpening the lethal blades with jagged pieces of flint.
At first, Ichigo was bewildered by the sight. What were children, all who appeared under the age of thirteen, doing in a battle camp?
Then he remembered a tale he'd heard long ago, one he and fellow wolves had thought to be nothing but legend. A tale of child bloodsuckers. Changed before they reached puberty, they were endowed with vampiric strength and speed, thirsting for human blood but forever frozen in a juvenile mental and physical state, never able to grow up.
Ichigo had never even imagined the stories of vampire children to be true but there they were, as real as could be.
"Those stupid bitches." Grimmjow's wrathful words distracted the werewolf, the latter's eyes cornering to where his warden's vexed, sapphire gaze was set on the group of children. It was plain he'd seen something he really didn't like. "Come on," he said, jerking on the chain and subsequently Ichigo forward. In his weakened state, the orangette struggled to keep up with the vampire's swift strides.
All of the females' expressions brightened when they spotted the lieutenant approaching them, winsome smiles crossing their faces as a few reached up to smooth their simple coiffures. They gave him a few furtive glances, unnerved by a werewolf in such close proximity. Ichigo arched a brow in confusion and it was only when he and his captor stopped in front of the group of women that he realized why they were acting so oddly.
Apparently Grimmjow was popular with the fairer sex, though Ichigo couldn't for all the world figure out why anyone would want to be intimate with such a sadistic, conceited bastard.
Well, perhaps the blunette was attractive, if you liked that sort of thing.
"Hello Lieutenant," a vampire with hair the color of corn silk and an ample bosom outlined by her masculine garb drawled in that typical Southern Belle way. "Lovely night, isn't it?"
"Yes, just lovely," another one said.
"Much lovelier now," a female vampire tittered, giggling inanely at her little innuendo.
"Cut the bullshit," Grimmjow said, jaw clenched in obvious vexation. Or at least it was obvious to Ichigo because the women didn't even bat an eyelash, well except for the ones who were doing so in a coquettish manner. Apparently they were used to the blunette's crass tendencies. "I ordered you all to send the brats further south to New Orleans with the party that was passing through last night. Why the fuck are they still here?"
"Oh Lieutenant, don't be angry with us," the first vampire said, pouting simperingly. However. before she could speak again, a youthful voice piped to their right.
"But we wanna stay!"
The speaker was a young girl, nine or ten years old, dressed in a gingham dress with sea-foam colored waves of hair and a bright pink scar over the bridge of her nose, no doubt a recent injury and most likely from a bullet grazing the skin there. She ran over to where Ichigo and Grimmjow were standing, clasping her hands underneath her chin.
"Don't make us go! We promise we'll do all the chores Lord Aizen gave us and he said he needed us here," she pleaded, her mossy gray eyes larger than saucers. She also seemed the only child willing to speak to the lieutenant, the rest observing silently with rounded eyes.
Dying of curiosity to see the sadistic vampire handled being addressed like such by a little girl, Ichigo trained his gaze onto the blunette's face. However, another shock awaited him when he saw Grimmjow frowning down at the child, brilliant blue orbs forlorn under furrowed brows.
"Aizen said that?" he asked of the girl, voice still rough but tone milder than Ichigo had ever heard it. He also noticed that Grimmjow left out the honorific 'Lord.'
"Yes, he did! He said it was our... our duty to help our family," she said, the naivete in her gleeful expression making the orangette despise the leader of the vampires that much more and then her innocent stare traveled to Ichigo. An excited squeal burst from her lips before she started towards him.
But when she was only a few feet away, one of the female vampires reached out and caught the little girl's arm, jerking her backwards.
"Stupid girl, do you want to be that beast's breakfast?" the woman said harshly, the light in the child's eyes dimming she looked at the ground in shame. "I should give you a switching for making a spectacle of yourself in front of the Lieutenant. Now apologize."
"Stop yer yammering," Grimmjow said, causing the woman's jaw drop and the girl to peer up between her tousled bangs. "She's just a kid for Christ's sake."
Ichigo frowned, wondering why the blue-haired lieutenant was defending the little girl's actions, after which the woman vampire looked properly chastised and let go of the child's arm.
Whilst the other children watched rapturously, the sea-foam haired girl stepped forward, hesitantly this time. Her smile, however, was beaming, two delicately pointed incisors peeking through her lips. Ichigo couldn't comprehend how the innocent child in front of him was of the same breed as the overgrown parasites whose very existence he cursed.
"I just wanted to see if he was really a... werewolf," she said, saying the last word like it was a delightful secret instead of a curse, surely the only vampire in existence to do so. She looked over to Ichigo, not one ounce of repulsion or fear to be seen in her expression. "
"Nelliel, that's enough pestering the lieutenant," one of the women said. "Go back to the others now."
"All right," Nelliel said, visibly deflating at the sudden end of her break from her dull, laborious chores. But then she looked up to Grimmjow with a bashful grin. "Thank you for letting us stay. Oh, and I like your hair, it's so pretty!"
The girl then turned and skipped back to the group of children, leaving a displeased blue-haired vampire and a werewolf biting his lip to stifle a bubble of laughter from a child referring to anything of Grimmjow's as 'pretty' though a few peals slipped out.
"Shut up," Grimmjow snapped in Ichigo's direction but only after a few moments did the latter stop laughing completely.
Obviously dissatisfied without the officer's attention and eyes on her, one woman dared to walk right up to Grimmjow. The top three buttons on her gray jacket were unbuttoned and her lips were upturned in an attempted coy smile. "You're so good with the children, Lieutenant," she said in a husky voice.
"Yes, so good," another woman vampire said, not about to let the first steal the object of their affection away.
"They say you can tell how a man would treat his woman by how he treats children," the female with the corn silk hair sighed wistfully, making doe eyes at the blue-haired officer. "But I would hope you wouldn't be so gentle with me, Lieutenant Jaegerjaques."
A few women giggled at that while others blushed and averted their eyes. Ichigo could feel his nose wrinkle in distaste, the display making him a tad nauseated and was somewhat pleased when Grimmjow roughly pushed away the woman who appeared to be trying to press her bosom to his chest.
"Get back to work," he spat and then spun on his heel with apparent distaste for the female vampires and their flirtatious sentiments. The group collectively whined in disappointment.
"Come visit us again soon, Lieutenant Jaegerjaques!" one called after the two whilst they walked away.
Their behavior made absolutely no sense to Ichigo who couldn't believe they would continue flirting when Grimmjow couldn't have made his disinterest anymore obvious. Then again, the fact that they would want the lieutenant in a romantic or carnal fashion was proof of either sheer stupidity or pure insanity.
But... why would Grimmjow so readily tease him, a man, a werewolf, an enemy, with sexual innuendos and then completely reject an entire group of women's advances?
The one reason Ichigo could think of was the same he himself would never be enticed by feminine wiles; he'd always only been attracted to men. Despite the persuasion being utterly taboo amongst humans it wasn't uncommon in his pack so perhaps it was the same for vampires. After all, neither of the two species adhered to the human world's mores and laws.
Ichigo was burning with curiosity, somehow finding the notion of Grimmjow being like him... intriguing, but he kept to his silence, not ready to return to the cold solitude of the tent.
That night passed without incident as the First Lieutenant made his rounds around the division's camp, not including the various taunts and violent gestures the much rowdier male bloodsuckers whose hatred for wolves caused Ichigo to actually appreciate Grimmjow's constant presence a little. They seemed too afraid of the blunette to try anything physical while he was there.
And with just cause considering the times Ichigo witnessed Grimmjow dissatisfied with his subordinates' performance. His idea of disciplining slackers included shooting at them and laughing maniacally as they tried to dodge the non-lethal but still harmful bullets.
The next few nights were spent similarly, Ichigo reluctantly obeying the rule he stay silent no matter how hard it was to not reply to some of the vulgarities spewed at him from the inhuman Confederate soldiers. For the werewolf, the only somewhat pleasant part was when they briefly stopped to check on the child vampires despite the adult females fawning over Grimmjow shamelessly. Nelliel, the girl from the first night the orangette was allowed outside, surprised him by calling out a "Hello, Mr. Wolf!" every time. She was the singular occupant that didn't outright despise him.
Strangely he never saw the vampires' leader, Lord Aizen, or any of the others that had been in his luxurious tent the night of his capture. It seemed that Grimmjow was in charge of running the ranks of inhuman soldiers while those ten bloodsuckers were nowhere to be seen, perhaps still in that same tent lazing about as everyone else did the work.
Nevertheless, he never forgot his need to escape. Ichigo constantly looked for ways he could break out the camp, all of which consisted freeing his collared chain of the indestructible stake in the ground or Grimmjow's grasp. To be honest, he thought he had more of a shot with the first than getting by the vampire.
With every passing hour the dread in Ichigo's heart grew to the point where he sometimes would think of giving up until Grimmjow would say something aggravating, reminding him of his conviction to save his kin, his family.
However, a week into his imprisonment it became even more important that he somehow stop Lord Aizen's plans.
November 22nd, 1864
Eighteen days until next Full Moon
"You can't just leave me here!"
There was good reason for which Ichigo broke his promise to be silent outside the tent and fortunately Grimmjow didn't appear to care that he'd done so, instead vexed that his prisoner was protesting something at all.
"Sorry but you really don't have a say in it," the blunette said, unimpressed by Ichigo's declaration. "You have to stay out here; no dogs allowed."
"Could you stop with the 'dog' and 'mutt' jokes already? They got old a long time ago." Scowling furiously, the orangette crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine, leave me here but don't be surprised when you come back to see I've been maimed by leeches."
"I'll stop with the 'mutt' jokes when you stop calling everyone 'leech' and 'bloodsucker', yeah?" Grimmjow said, arching a brow. "And don't be such a scared little bitch; no one's going to risk getting in deep shit with Aizen just to kill you."
"How do you know I won't make a run for it?" Ichigo asked, deciding to ignore the other's barb for he was used to it by now.
"Even you're not stupid enough to try and escape; you ten steps," Grimmjow scoffed. "I don't even know why I'm arguing this with you. Shut up and stay in this exact spot until I get back."
"Bastard," Ichigo spat, unable to figure that out either.
"You better believe it," Grimmjow said with an arrogant smirk before reaching his hand out palm facing the ground and extending his fingers so that the end of the chain fell to the ground. An involuntary thrill went through the orangette's body at the realization that for the first time in an entire week he wasn't bound to anything, free... kind of.
With that the vampire disappeared through the canvas flap of the massive tent where Ichigo had met Lord Aizen, the mere memory of the brunette male lounging on those pillows and that frighteningly mild tone he spoke in making the werewolf's skin crawl. He was the one Grimmjow had told Ichigo he was going to meet with and Ichigo anxiously wondered if the meeting had anything to do with his own role in Aizen's plan.
Before he thought better of it, the orange-haired captive sidled close to the tent's opening. He didn't even have to strain to hear voices with his enhanced hearing. The current voice Ichigo immediately recognized as Aizen's, its lifeless tone all too memorable.
"It is a pleasure to see you again, my dear lieutenant. I do so miss you whilst I am confined to my tent," he was saying and it was easy to picture the ruler cock his head to the side, the smallest of smiles on his plain face. "I understand you have been taking good care of my children in my absence."
"I just keep them in line, Lord Aizen," Grimmjow said, sounding uncharacteristically temperate.
"Nonsense, Grimmjow. Leadership requires one to be born with the skill to guide those beneath them," Aizen said and there was the sound of what Ichigo determined to be rustling paper. "Though I do find your methods a bit unorthodox. It says here you've taken to using disobedient soldiers as target practice?"
The simple answer amused the eavesdropping werewolf, his lips twitching in the beginnings of a smile. Grimmjow must have been the sole person in the world who'd respond to that like it was perfectly normal.
"I see," Aizen said. "Well, the ends justify the means, isn't that right?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"I'm so glad you understand, Grimmjow. Not everyone grasps the concept that sometimes you must sacrifice a little for the greater good," Aizen said softly and continued on without waiting for a response. "I read in your reports your footnote about sending the young ones to New Orleans and away from battle ground."
A burst of laughter that didn't come from either Grimmjow or Aizen startled Ichigo, the cackling one of amusement at another's expense.
"Don't tell me that Sexta, killer of thousands, cares about those little brats! Have you gone soft on us, Grimmjow?" the one who laughed said in a mocking tone.
"You're even denser than I thought if you think that, Nnoitra, " Grimmjow said roughly. "I want them out of here 'cause they're more trouble then they're worth. They can't fight for shit."
"That is quite enough from the both of you. We are the eleven eldest amongst our race, the ones the rest look to for guidance, and most importantly, we are a family. You are my children and I can't bear to see you two fight, especially in my condition," Aizen said sadly but no doubt his expression would still be as moderate as ever.
Evidently his word was law as neither of the two said a word but Ichigo's curiosity was piqued by the use of 'condition.' Did the vampire leader mean he was ill? But immortals couldn't become sick, they were immune to all diseases, so what could he be referring to?
"However, returning to the issue of the youngest of our ranks, I will have to deny your request they be sent away, Grimmjow. Even they have an important role in our strategy to turn this war in our favor."
A few seconds of silence.
"Understood, Lord Aizen," the blue-haired lieutenant said so very slightly curt, a nuance Ichigo was only able to pick up due to close quarters with Grimmjow for seven nights now.
More sounds of rustling paper and what seemed like liquid pouring into a glass and then the ruling vampire started to drone on again.
"I knew you would, Grimmjow. You've always been able to make the needed immolation so that many of our kind could prosper."
Even outside the tent, Ichigo could feel the tension from whatever Aizen was referring to.
"Ah, I almost forgot- we haven't even discussed the most important matter at hand," the brunette exclaimed as much as his annoyingly level composure allowed. "How is your charge, the orange-haired wolf?"
"Fine," Grimmjow said and for some reason his answer bothered Ichigo. Surely the lieutenant had more to say on all that had happened the past week and 'fine' was not exactly how Ichigo would describe how he felt that moment.
"Good, good. Has he been eating? I hope you haven't been cruel to him," Aizen said. There was a pause before Grimmjow answered and the orangette wondered why the brunette pretended to care about his well-being.
"He eats well enough."
"You've been feeding him undercooked meat his kind have a taste for?"
"Hmm, I'll have to see if we can't break him of that habit. I find the practice of eating raw meat like an animal unsavory," Aizen said, sighing.
At first Ichigo mentally ranted it was utterly hypocritical for someone who drank human blood, murdering the unwilling donor in the process, could criticize another for eating raw meat but then he realized Aizen's plan to change his eating habits didn't make any sense.
"You sound as if you're planning on having him around longer than just until the Full Moon," Grimmjow said, voicing Ichigo's concern.
"Ah Grimmjow, my son, you've missed so much since you filled my place leading our ranks," Aizen said, every bit of sympathy interweaved in his words glaringly fake. "I suppose I shall have to fill you in on the change in plans regarding our guest."
"That would be appreciated... Lord Aizen," Grimmjow said, adding the honorific as an afterthought. He didn't sound pleased he was the only one of 'the eleven eldest' who didn't know about this change.
Ichigo leaned against one of the poles supporting the large tent, feeling faint even as his heart started to beat rapidly, fluttering about in his chest.
What they'd originally planned to do to him had been awful enough so what could they have possibly substituted? Surely it could be no worse.
"You remember of course when your brother Ulquiorra risked his life to travel north to Boston just a few days ago," Aizen said and Ichigo's overly active heart stopped completely.
Boston was where his entire kin was currently settled, save for he and several others who'd enlisted to serve as regular infantrymen until the time was right for them all to fight fairly against the bloodsuckers.
"The werewolves were long gone by the time he arrived where they had been living. They must have somehow known he was going to pay them a visit but as it turns out, that worked in our favor, isn't that so Ulquiorra?"
Ichigo held his breath too afraid to feel relief only to hear devastating news.
"Yes," a monotonous voice answered. "One of them was left behind accidentally, a very old one who was well versed in ancient rituals. I was able to coerce the wolf into giving me the information Lord Aizen desired."
The orangette felt his hands clench into fists and his teeth ground together audibly, the inner wolf in him compelling him to rip the vampire who so casually spoke of how he'd tortured one of Ichigo's own. In a cruel ironic twist it was the silver collar that suppressed that urge, his weakness so palpable he was able to comprehend that desire's impossibility.
"Please share with Grimmjow what it that you learned, Ulquiorra," Aizen suggested.
"It would seem that if a vampire were to drink the blood of a transformed werewolf on the Full Moon they would only strengthen themselves a minuscule amount compared to the potential increase in power from another, nearly unknown ritual. Apparently not even most of their race were told of it in an effort the knowledge would eventually be lost." The one known as Ulquiorra did not sound like he ever break out of his inanimate manner despite speaking of something so clandestine.
Ichigo was frozen, unaware of the bitter winter wind ripping through his hair and the layers of his navy uniform. He waited to hear what this ritual was in which the vampires now intended to force him to participate in as his blood stopped cold and only dread coursed through his veins.
"Yeah, and what is it?" Grimmjow said, a hint of interest where there was usually irreverence.
"Patience, Grimmjow," Aizen chastised. "This information Ulquiorra retrieved for us will forever alter our existence as we know it; it will be the beginning of a new era. I will not the only one that stands to benefit, you do as well, all eleven of us do. However, I feel I must warn you that sacrifices will have to be made in order for us to elevate to our deserved status though this time it shouldn't be as hard on you. There won't be any... personal involvement on your part."
"People will have to die. That's what you're getting at, isn't it?" It was difficult to decipher what Grimmjow was thinking, he now sounded just as lifeless as Ulquiorra.
"Don't think of it that way. I made a grave mistake and now I am correcting it as we move forward and better ourselves."
"What mistake would that be?"
Aizen sighed as if he was suffering greatly but a child could sense his vile callousness. He cared for no one but himself. Suddenly Ichigo regretted for having said the same thing to the blue-haired lieutenant a few days prior.
"You've heard this all before, but in the beginning when I lived alone as the first of our race I was plagued with loneliness. I wanted the company of someone like myself and started sharing with mortals the gift of eternal life until I had the ten of you as my children. Yet I was not satisfied and I admit I became greedy, gifting more and more mortals until now, thousands of years later, we've grown to countless numbers. That was my mistake, not stopping after ten, choosing undeserving humans to tarnish the purity of our gift and though I try as hard as possible I can no longer make sure they behave themselves. Soon I, with your help, will correct that mistake."
Ichigo felt sick as the first vampire implied in his self-indulgent monologue that he would wipe out the entirety of the vampire race save for the eleven gathered there.
"The ends justify the means," Grimmjow repeated Aizen's earlier words.
While the werewolf had never considered, never even come close, to thinking of the blue-haired lieutenant as anything near compassionate he still found it unnerving that he would so willingly approve of a mass murder of colossal proportions.
"You never were one to disappoint, Grimmjow. I knew you would understand," Aizen said.
"So what does the ritual with the mutt have to do with this?"
"Ah yes, that I saved for last as the ritual has a few... notable parts involved that shocked a few of your brothers when they first heard."
"Tch, it's fucking flat out bizarre," a voice that possibly belonged to the one named Nnoitra muttered under his breath but Ichigo heard it loud and clear, panic rising up within him.
"Try your best to keep in mind the benefits, quinto," Aizen said, evidently having heard the comment as well, and then continued on. "The unsung ritual we have only just learned of will be a great deal more challenging than what we originally planned as it involves the wolf transferring power willingly."
"Then we'd be better off forgetting the whole thing. The mutt's as stubborn as a mule," Grimmjow said, chuckling in a way Ichigo would've described as almost fond if he didn't know any better. Which he did.
The orangette was somewhat relieved to hear that the only way the vampires would get what they wanted was if he gave it out of his own free will. A thousand years of agonizing torture wouldn't convince him.
"Yes, I gathered that when you brought him before me last week but that is exactly why we'll succeed," Aizen said cryptically. "He is an open book, his personality I've seen countless times before and just from those few minutes he stood in my presence I was able to decipher what exactly makes him tick. That orange-haired wolf is as moral as they come, doubtlessly full of reckless courage and a desire to protect others. He is the type readily won over with a bit of kindness and with a mind ripe to believe in the good in people, generous to a flaw. He lives to give without taking."
When it fell silent, Ichigo was overwhelmed with a hybrid of emotions, a mixture of disbelief and burning outrage and confusion. All of what Aizen had said about him had been the undeniable truth and the werewolf felt violated, exposed, like the filthy parasite had looked uninvited into his mind. He sank to his knees, still close enough to the tent flap to hear the ongoing conversation.
"You plan on manipulating him into giving you what you want," Grimmjow said without even a trace of emotion.
"That is such a crass way of putting it, and it would be an understatement anyway. You see, my lieutenant, the ritual is deceptively simple; the werewolf only has to be in his transformed state during a full moon and mentally will a portion of the astronomical amount of power they possess to be ceded to a vampire. The part requiring a bit of effort on my behalf is in order for the connection between the werewolf and vampire to be strong enough to conduct that power is the wolf must love his counterpart."
Ichigo waited what felt like hours for the part where Aizen declared he was kidding, that it had only been a joke, but it never came.
"It is clear you're having difficulty believing me, Grimmjow, but I assure you that is indeed what's necessary for our family to gain enough power to take our rightful place above all. This is not a matter of rejuvenating myself, this is about no longer hiding our existence from the mortals and living in the shadows. With that wolf we will finally live an eternity as gods, starting when we extinguish both of this war's militia as I've grown bored here and better things await us."
Aforementioned wolf was completely numb as he listened to the evil intent so very faintly heard in the brunette vampire's mild voice. The one thing Ichigo kept repeating in his mind was 'no.' No, none of that would ever happen because he wouldn't hold anything but hatred for Aizen as long as he was breathing. No, no, no.
"And all you have to do is get him to... 'love' you?" Grimmjow, whether intentional or not, sounded unimpressed as if he had more important things to be doing at the moment and Aizen was precisely the type that kind of attitude would frustrate terribly. Not that he would ever show it.
"No, I will not have the wolf fall in love. When I am done with him, he will worship the ground we all walk on. He'll be begging us to let him perform the ritual," the brunette said, laughing softly. "In the end when he's transferred all of his power we will only have to tell him it would please us if he took his own life and he won't hesitate for even a second, though I believe having a family pet would be nice."
Evidently this amused several inside the tent, their laughter booming in Ichigo's ears until finally he covered them with his hands, screwing his eyelids together. He didn't want to simply consider the possibility of it happening, but... what if it did? What if Aizen really was a master at manipulating people and messed with Ichigo's mind enough that eventually he'd be pitifully pining at their feet?
A booted foot none too gently nudging his shin was his call back to reality a few minutes later, the involuntary frightening what-if thoughts dissipating as he opened his eyes and lowered his hands. Towering over him Grimmjow's expression was blank as the blunette reached down to grasp Ichigo's upper arm and pull him to his feet.
Somehow the orangette knew that the other was aware he'd eavesdropped and not a word was spoken as they headed for their shared tent, all of the vampiric soldiers already inside as the sun was minutes away from rising.
Ichigo didn't notice until they entered Grimmjow's personal tent that the lieutenant wasn't gripping the end of his chain nor did he make to attach it to the stake. Nevertheless, out of habit Ichigo sat down in his usual spot, drawing his knees to his chin to conserve warmth in the bitter cold.
He watched silently as Grimmjow stood absolutely still in front of his cot, deep frown marring his handsome features. For a few minutes he didn't move, didn't make a sound, and Ichigo was on the verge of asking if he was all right (only to find out the reason why Grimmjow was acting so strangely, not because he really cared) when suddenly the vampire smashed the cot in a vicious stomp, wood breaking with loud cracks.
Ichigo started at the abrupt violent action, instinctively falling back onto his hands as his widened eyes stared unblinkingly at the now obviously infuriated Grimmjow Jaegerjaques. The male's lips curled into a soundless snarl and baring his porcelain lethally sharp fangs, nostrils flaring, brows drawn together over orbs of tempestuous blue, the storm raging within their depths leaving Ichigo breathless.
As if he all of a sudden remembered the other was there with him, Grimmjow's head snapped up to pin Ichigo with that piercing, crackling lightning stare.
"Whatever you do, don't say a fucking word about what you heard tonight. Got it?"
The werewolf didn't respond but the vampire hadn't expected him to, lowering himself to the ground beside the wreckage of what used to be his cot. Ichigo observed as Grimmjow turned away onto his side like he always did before falling into an unnaturally deep sleep.
However a few seconds later and he sat straight up, quickly ripping off his uniform jacket and shirt in rapid, vicious motions and leaving his torso completely bare. Sneering cruelly down at the fabric in his hands, he tore the officer's badge right off, throwing it across the tent before bundling the ruined pile of gray and white material under his head to use as a pillow.
When the sun rose, Grimmjow had fallen prey to the death-like sleep and Ichigo was in the same exact position, thoughts racing through his head too fast to entertain the idea of rest.
Escaping to him now seemed like a pipe dream and a wave of hopelessness overwhelmed him. He couldn't decide if he was giving up or simply ceasing to care but the weight of his own desolation kept him awake for hours before exhaustion pulled him under.
November 25th, 1864
Fifteen Days until next Full Moon
Ichigo didn't know the exact time or how many hours had passed since Grimmjow had left him to make his rounds but every minute was like a lifetime, an immortal one. There was nothing for him to do in the tent but stare into space, his mind free to torture him by continuously dwelling on the grim situation- not just grim for him either, but a vast amount of other people as well. Should Aizen follow through on his 'correction' all of the vampires in this camp would be murdered mercilessly and for the first time in his life Ichigo felt bad for the parasites, unknowingly serving someone plotting their demise.
The evening after he'd overheard that particular conversation he'd woken to find the tent empty, Grimmjow foregoing their short-lived routine in which Ichigo accompanied the lieutenant throughout the night. The next evening the vampire had walked right past his captive without so much as a look in Ichigo's direction and that night he'd done it again, only acknowledging the other's presence when wordlessly giving him food. Ichigo ate it because there was nothing else to do.
It was melodramatic for the orangette to feel spurned, that he was sure of, and yet he couldn't help the irritating sense of rejection that followed Grimmjow's disappearance through the canvas flap. So starved for any kind of interaction Ichigo actually kind of missed their bickering and the blunette calling him 'mutt.' Further unnerving himself, when Ichigo stumbled upon the officer's badge Grimmjow had discarded, he'd stashed it away in his jacket pocket.
Clearly he was losing his mind as he spent more time a prisoner of war dreading the beginning of Aizen's manipulations, whenever the egotistical bastard decided to get around to it.
Nevertheless, one thing Ichigo was grateful for was that Grimmjow no longer chained him to the ground. The captive wasn't sure if it meant he'd lost the drive to escape that he merely paced the inside of the tent because heavens knew he'd do anything to run far away from that den of overgrown parasites and return to his surrogate family, to feel secure or content again.
Maybe something was subconsciously keeping him there, a reason to stay...
Ichigo was sure the time was close to daybreak when he heard an unmistakable roaring boom, the ground beneath him quaking with vibrations. Immediately after there was shouting from all different directions and figuring he'd rather face his warden's wrath then be a sitting duck if the fort was under attack, Ichigo burst through the tent's opening and was instantly enveloped in chaos.
The air was thick with smoke and vampires were swarming everywhere at inhuman speeds but with his wolfish eyesight Ichigo could pinpoint where an explosion had detonated; the flames consuming the artillery tent blazing in the bluish light of early dawn. Some were trying to subdue the fire burning their weaponry but it was a lost cause, entirely consumed.
But who had done it? The Union troops were far away and Ichigo couldn't sense any of his kin nearby.
Standing out of the main path where vampires barrelling were only blurs of speed, the orangette contemplated his options. This was an opportunity to make a run for it, the explosion a big enough distraction that possibly no one would notice him slipping into the woods. However, considering his important role in Aizen's master plan, someone would soon be seeking him out.
Banishing his thoughts of whether a certain lieutenant would come back for him, Ichigo decided that he at least had to try.
Instead of using the main paths, the werewolf ran down the narrow spaces between tents as fast as his weakened body allowed. He headed towards the barely used secondary gateway, his best chance for escape. In a rare stroke of luck he managed to cross the aisles of canvas without incident, arriving at the gateway to stop short when he saw the wooden fence gate wide open.
Ichigo nearly pinched himself to ensure he wasn't dreaming before shaking his head. Turning his head he took one last look at the Night Division's campground, his chest inexplicably tightening with an emotion he couldn't name, and then dashed through the portal into the winter woods.
He hadn't taken ten steps when a steel band wrapped around his waist, the world tilting as his body was lifted into the air horizontally. The wind was knocked out of him as his abdomen fell onto something hard and the landscape barren trees began to pass by at an impossible rate.
It was all too familiar.
Ichigo didn't get the chance to demand whoever it was to put him down before they came to a sudden stop and he was dropped unceremoniously onto the ground. Looking up, his disoriented vision cleared to reveal a bright white, arrogant grin and gleaming cobalt eyes staring down at him.
"Told you that you wouldn't make it ten steps," Grimmjow said cockily.
Glaring at the lieutenant, Ichigo pushed himself off the ground. He opened his mouth to speak but forgot how when he saw they weren't back at the camp but in the woods with nothing but trees surrounding them. Grimmjow rolled his eyes and reached for the other's wrist, roughly pulling him around a massive oak tree where a pair of rucksacks lay at its base, one of them the werewolf recognized as the very one he'd been wearing when he'd been captured.
Ichigo jerked his wrist free from the vampire's grasp causing the latter to turn with an arched brow.
"Okay, what the hell is going on?" Ichigo demanded. "Why did you bring me all the way out here?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Grimmjow said, frowning and bending over to snatch both rucksacks off the ground.
"No, it isn't!" Ichigo said, throwing his hands up in exasperation. However before the vampire could explain himself a feminine voice rang out through the woods.
"There you are! We've been looking everywhere for you, Lieutenant," it said and the orangette whipped his head in its direction to witness one of the Night Division's women step through the trees. Following after her were not only the rest of the female soldiers but the entire lot of children.
"Ain't a lieutenant anymore," Grimmjow said gruffly, withdrawing an impressive stack of paper money that he tossed the woman who'd greeted them. "It's all there so get going, the clouds will only be out 'till noon."
Simultaneously all of the women's faces twisted in confusion.
"You are no longer traveling to New Orleans with us?" one asked.
"Never said I was," Grimmjow said dismissively. He then faced Ichigo, holding out the rucksack emblazoned with the Union flag to him but the other didn't reach for it, utterly lost as to what was going on though he had a sneaking suspicion it had to do with the earlier explosion...
"Well then I suppose we should be going," a female vampire said haughtily, nose in the air as she spun on her heel, the other women copying her actions while guiding the children to do the same. The next second they had disappeared leaving Ichigo and Grimmjow alone.
A few long moments of silence passed in which the cogs in Ichigo's brain turned rapidly, pieces of the puzzle coming together.
"You were the one who blew up the artillery tent." A statement, not a question.
Grimmjow's face was bereft of emotion save for his sapphire eyes burning with intensity.
"I'll explain later. For now you'll just have to trust me," he said, again proffering the Union solider rucksack but Ichigo still did not reach for it.
"I don't have any reason to trust you," the orangette said softly never breaking their shared gaze.
Ichigo chuckled bitterly and grabbed his old rucksack from Grimmjow's outstretched hand.
"I really have gone insane," he said slinging the mass of brown fabric over his shoulder, the weight more than he remembered but his strength was a fraction of what it used to be with the silver collar around his neck. "Can you at least tell me where we're going?"
"Afraid not," Grimmjow said with his signature smirk.
"Great," Ichigo sighed though for the first time since he'd been captured by the very vampire standing before him.
"There's just two last things I have to take care of," Grimmjow said, not allowing Ichigo to ask what before his hands shot out for the other's throat, their bodies a hand's breadth apart as Ichigo's breath hitched at the sudden, violent gesture.
A metallic snap sounded and the werewolf's eyes traveled downwards to see lying in broad hands his collar in two even pieces. Immediately a kind of vertigo racked through him for a moment, his vision swirling, until it was replaced by what Ichigo could only describe as bliss. No longer under the silver's influence his normal vigor returned full force, an invincible feeling.
Impulsively he smiled up at the vampire who'd both imprisoned and freed him.
"What's the other thing, then?" he said, never in a million years expecting what happened next.
Grimmjow's hands released the silver fragments to fist themselves into Ichigo's orange mane to close the distance between them. Ichigo gasped as the blunette's lips crashed onto his, too stunned to react until a spark of lightning ran through his veins and then, eyelids fluttering closed and hands grabbing onto the other's collar, he was thoroughly kissing Grimmjow back.
Their kiss was not gentle, it was rough and wild and fervent, all teeth and tongue. In the back of Ichigo's mind he wondered when he had ever developed feelings for his captor and why this vampire smelled so pleasantly of mint and rainwater but they were drowned out by an all-consuming euphoria.
Grimmjow broke the kiss, vexingly wearing a conceited grin and not even out of breath whereas Ichigo was panting even as he scowled up at the other.
"Shall we?" the vampire said and in a motion too fast to see for even the werewolf's eyes brought an arm under Ichigo's knees and back to hold him bridal style.
"What are you-? Put me down!"
"Not a chance, mutt."
Despite the orangettes protests they sped off through the trees, heading North.
Six months later Ichigo would look back on that moment as one of their very few lighthearted moments.
A/N: Ugh, I failed for taking so long with this but I really wanted to get it right.I know several of you have been asking when I would update this, so I tried to make it long and add a lot of detail. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed!
Next part will include the explanation as to what exactly Grimmjow is up to, as well as Ichigo's transformation and, as promised, some sexytiems.
Suggested Listening: (I really need to start remembering to put these in here...)
Destroy All Vampires - Legion of Doom
Double Dare - Bauhaus
The Eternal - Joy Division
Falling Inside The Black - Skillet
*Note*: At this point I am not accepting any more requests. I already have quite the list so far that I need to work on. ^^' I'm very sorry if this disappoints any of you and I didn't want to have to do this, really I didn't. But~ I most likely will start accepting them again sometime in the future.
Thanks so much to TheJiminy for being my 100th reviewer on Quixotic!