DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'Bleach'. All rights belong to Tite Kubo. I only own this fanfiction, and any OCs that may appear. Thank you.
I Can Live With That
How the hell had he wound up in this predicament?
It was a slow Wedesday evening. The town was settling down: the sun had just set, the birds were silent, resting in the treetops, and people were crowding the streets, either enjoying a stop or two before heading home, or trying to make their way through the traffic.
In other words, it was a night just begging to be turned upside down. The setting was in need of some well-delivered chaos.
But somehow, Grimmjow Jeagerjaques found himself sitting on a couch, watching with barely restrained frustration the movements of the small female figure kneeling before him, eyes glued to the flickering box in front of her. His fingertips drummed impatiently at the armrest, as he tried to keep the tense growl from slipping past his lips. He was grinding his teeth, murderous intent apparent in his vivid blue eyes.
How long was this stupid program supposed to go on, anyway? He was hungry, damn it! And it was dinnertime! This woman should have been in that kitchen, cooking his meal for the night! But instead, she was watching this crap! Some weirdo with a cane, cape and a tall hat, dancing all over the place, trying to present himself as some sort of eccentric spirit-hunting badass!
The blue-haired male snorted. Yeah, right. He wanted to see this guy just try and exorcise a presence like his. He'd send that nut job packing in five seconds.
…...at least, he would, if he were still the fearsome Sexta Espada; not hindered and limited by the various constraints of this world. This admittance only served to provoke his steadily building rage and hunger, as he now began picking at the corner of his Hollow mask. His stomach let out a low rumble. He hated the sound.
"Hee hee..." Now her body was swaying side to side, as she cheered along to the noises emanating from the screen. Her red hair swished behind her, as she threw up her arms once more.
"Remember...spirits are always with you!" She crossed her arms over her chest, throwing back her head as her fingers clenched at the air. "BOO-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!" This seemingly innocent action was all it took to make the former Arrancar finally snap. He leapt to his feet with a roar, nearly toppling the poor sofa behind him. On the ground, the young girl jumped, looking up at him with wide grey eyes.
"That's it! I can't take this shit any longer! If you don't make me something to eat now, I'm gonna chuck that fucking box out the goddamn window, and you with it! Shut it off! It's fucking annoying!" He was holding his head, hands pressed firmly into ears as he glared daggers at the redhead who was simply watching him from her vantage point upon the wooden floor.
If she was afraid of his previous threat though, she did a good job of hiding it. With a cheery smile upon her face, Inoue Orihime looked back at the TV, noting that her program had indeed come to an end. She never missed an installment of Don Kanonji's show. But that was a bit of a hard concept to explain to someone like Grimmjow...
"Sorry, Grimmjow-san! You're right-I should've gotten dinner ready before the show started!" She giggled, and the former Espada could only blink, the snarl on his face now replaced with slack-jawed disbelief.
He hadn't been completely tamed, gigai or not, and she was still laughing at his outburst? Did this chick have a death wish? Or was she simply oblivious to the concept of fear? He remembered how stoic and steadfast she'd been, even when those two bottom-feeders had been pounding the living daylights out of her in her room. Or when he'd had her neck in his grasp.
Whatever. As long as I get some food, it's no concern of mine! With that settled, he flopped back onto the couch, springs creaking audibly as Orihime stood up before him, making her way to the TV to shut it off. "I'll get started right away!" It was a good thing she'd gone to the market yesterday, and stocked up on all that fish. Grimmjow-san sure likes his meats...
He huffed. "Yeah, yeah..." He followed her tiny form with his blue eyes as she skipped to the kitchen, humming softly to herself as she began pulling out various pans and utensils. He smirked just slightly, at the way her hips swayed as she spun on her heel to head for the fridge. Then, catching himself, he quickly turned his attention back to the living room.
Seriously, he was a fucking Espada! Number Six, the Sexta Espada, Grimmjow Jeagerjaques! What the hell was he doing on Earth-no, not just 'on Earth', but in the 'living room' of one Inoue Orihime, a.k.a the chick that that dumb-ass Kurosaki had claimed to want to save back in Hueco Mundo?
Though granted, she had given him back his arm and his number. And she wasn't nearly as bad as some of the other options that had been laid out before him, when he'd still been under lock and key. And, if he were allowed to admit this to no one but himself, in the comfort of his own mind, girl was easy on the eyes. Ditzy and clumsy as fuck though, no arguments there.
This has gotta be some kinda joke...a really fucking bad one. He thought back to that day, leaning into the cushions as he ran a hand through his shocking blue locks. Maybe he would have been better off dead...?
The last thing he remembered was Mister Strawberry-Head Hero blocking Nnoitra from skewering him with that big-ass deformed scythe of his. Goddamn honorable Shinigami-wannabe. Who told him to stick his nose in, anyway? Not that he would've liked to slink into Hell with that as his 'cause of death', mind you.
Then, he'd blacked out. He figured it had been the end, come calling at last. To drag him down into the dark. Him, the King of Hueco Mundo-at least, in his mind. But after all the shit he'd gone through just to reach that conclusion, why didn't he deserve the throne? Better him than mantis-dick, anyway.
But, lo and behold, his eyes had opened. And when they had, he found himself surrounded, not by flames and tortured souls, but by vials and tubes and strange faces in white coats.
A lab. He was in a freaking laboratory, being studied, prodded and analyzed, like some kind of rat in a cage. The realization had been an unpleasant one. If this was Hell, then fuck it, he was fighting his way out and usurping whoever was in charge of this shithole. And he'd started by breaking the restraints that held him to that cold table, effectively scaring the small crowd that had been gathered around his unconscious form.
He'd then proceeded to tear his way out of that claustrophobic room, trying to make his way to some sort of surface or higher plane. Surrounded by alarms and various fearful figures, he'd barreled through them all with ease. He was relatively healed, and pissed off. He wanted answers, or a good battle. Either one would satisfy him.
It wasn't until he'd been dog piled by a barrage of black-robed, sword-wielding hard-asses that he'd finally been informed of his surroundings: he was in Soul Society. This came as a major shock to the former Espada, which he expressed the only way he knew how: via curses, threats and futile struggling.
Turns out, Aizen had been defeated. And one of those 'Gotei 13' captains had been roaming around what was left of Hueco Mundo, looking for suitable samples for his research. Another scientist type, just like that whack job, Szayel. Great.
Wonder of wonders, they'd come across his body, barely clinging to life. Of course, they couldn't pass up an opportunity like this; a still living Espada, who could make for delicious research material, and not just in the scientific sense. So, he'd been brought back, treated, and studied.
Now that he was up however, the Society was at a loss as to what to do with him. They'd found two other Espada, one on the battlefield of the fake Karakura Town, the other among the desert of Hueco Mundo, like him. The first went by the name of Tia Harribel, and had been struck down by none other than Aizen himself. Thankfully, she'd been cooperative enough once healed, and as such was in holding, awaiting the fate of her future. The second was none other than Neliel, in her child form, Nel. She too had been more than cooperative, along with her team of odd tagalong servants. Could they really trust Grimmjow to be as obedient...?
Well, at the moment, it was all they had. So, adding a few extra guards, they'd thrown him in a cell, and debated over whether they'd be better off dead, or forever imprisoned. They had been enemies at one point in time, but now that their leader was down for the count...they didn't have anywhere to turn; no agendas to follow. That, and, if they could be persuaded, they'd most definitely be powerful allies.
But. The question remained. Could they be convinced, much less trusted? That was where Kurosaki and his crew had gotten involved, once again.
Grimmjow remembered it clear as day-those aggravating 'trial dates', and how early he'd had to awaken, just to be hauled out and put on a stand in power-restricting binds, growling and trying to hold back the temptation to swear or spit, as he'd been scrutinized by both captains and council alike.
Then, the goodie-goodies had trooped in. And the judging had begun.
They weighed the pros and cons. To keep such high-level prisoners as these was a risk in itself; the last thing they needed was an uprising, and they'd prefer to keep the numbers in the cells to a minimum. But they couldn't very well just let them go, especially if they refused to pledge loyalty-at least, in the male's case. The females seemed fine with switching sides. Still, there had to be some sort of in-between, a compromise.
Amazingly enough, a few faces had come forth to speak on his behalf. Kurosaki, for one. While he still thought the Arrancar was a bastard, he had to grudgingly admit that he had released Orihime from her prison, at one point. The details weren't expounded, but it did count for something. The girl in question had spoken as well-quite passionately, he might add-that, not only had he freed her, but he had gone against his own teammate to keep her about. Their eyes had locked yet again, this time with the roles reversed. He was the captive, and she was free. He couldn't tell if the look in her eyes was pity, or...
Eventually, the group had come to a decision. They needed as much help to call on as they could get. But at the same time, they needed to make sure that this 'help' couldn't go up and turn on them.
So, the gigais were brought in. That grinning man in the striped hat had strode in, all cool and nonchalant. His easygoing demeanor had irked Grimmjow to no end, as he'd surveyed the blue-haired man with shadowy eyes. "Mm-hmm...uh-huh...yep! It can be done!"
He'd given the assembled group a lighthearted wave, as he'd left the chambers the same way he'd entered, wooden clog slippers clacking against the floor. Another checkmark in Grimmjow's mental book of annoyances. "Give me a few days, and I'll have them whipped up!"
Thus, it was settled: Grimmjow, Nel and Harribel were being sent to live on Earth, in restrictive gigais, until their services were required by Soul Society, for whatever reason-or unless they screwed up and had to be 'collected'. This could either mean imprisonment, or death. Looking out over the miserable little town, the Sexta Espada thought momentarily, that either of those two options was better than this. Now, he had no honor left to his name. Completely at the mercy of his enemies.
Oh, but that wasn't the end of it. Not by a long shot. See, they had no idea how to live in the human world. Therefore, until they adjusted to their new bodies, and gained a feel for the surroundings, they would be in the care of someone on Earth. This revelation only served to drive the dagger of defeat ever further into Grimmjow's nonexistent heart. Living? With one of those human freaks?
It hadn't been too hard to find a place for Harribel. She was even-tempered, and as such, could be trusted to reside in Urahara's shop without completely trashing the place. Hell, she was even willing to learn how to work and survive! Seeing as Aizen had thrown her aside so coldly, siding with former enemies wasn't such a sin in her eyes.
And as for Nel, she had been quite chummy with Ichigo when he'd been taking on Los Noches. Plus, considering the fact that he'd wound up losing his Shinigami powers after the confrontation with Aizen, it at least gave him something to do, even if he were playing the role of supernatural babysitter. And there was already a spare bed set up, since Rukia had left. In short, it was better than doing nothing at all. It would take a while to get used to the fraccion, though, as well as her random switches between child and adult.
Grimmjow, on the other hand...well, he'd been another matter altogether. He'd given the officials quite a few headaches trying to determine where he could be placed, without causing a lot of trouble; to expect no damages was nothing short of wishful thinking. But after having been placed in that bloody gigai-which still included his mask, like hell he was going to be turned one-hundred-percent into one of those spineless monkeys, thank you very much!-there was no way they could trust him at Urahara's shop. A pity, since the man no doubt had enough power to restrain him if worst came to worst. But they really didn't want to have to come down just to pick him up a day after letting him go. There had to be someone else with power, who the former Espada could put up with.
They couldn't store him with Ichigo. He already had Nel and her gang to deal with, and if those males had to spend more than five minutes together, it'd be all-out war. Even if the redhead were nothing more than an ordinary human at this point. Not a good situation, considering all the innocents around, as well as the potential for collateral damage with his newly restored Shinigami father.
Grimmjow hadn't had much interaction with Ishida and Chad, but one look was enough to convince them that they wouldn't fare any better in 'getting along'. So who was left?
That was when Inoue Orihime's name came up.
Yes, she wasn't as strong as the others. But she could still hold her own, especially since Grimmjow's powers had been clipped down in the gigai. That, and she was the only other person who'd had any contact with him; knew anything about him at all. Plus, she was good natured, and she lived alone. There wouldn't be a risk of confrontations, or a whole lot of explanations required. And Orihime had stood up for him at the trials...
Of course, there were a few objections, mainly from Ichigo. He may have done his bit of vouching on behalf of the blue-haired menace, but he still had his own reasons not to trust him with Inoue. In particular, that moment when he'd witnessed the male gripping the girl's throat...if only he could see how Orihime viewed the whole situation.
In the end though, the majority won out, and even Orihime had her say. Grimmjow was her new housemate, whether Ichigo liked it or not. He didn't, but had to simply put his faith in his friend, and believe her when she said she could take care of herself.
Now, it was just a matter of hoping Grimmjow wouldn't flip out too badly once he saw his new living arrangements.
The Arrancar shook his head. Everyone got to chime in except him. What were they thinking, shacking him up with this, this...lunatic? At least when she'd been in Hueco Mundo, she'd been rightfully quiet and depressed! Here, she was all...sunny, and happy, and bubbly! It drove him crazy! How could she stand being so damn cheerful all the time? The only time he could see a reason for such joy was if you'd just gotten in a good kill! And that smell of hers...she reminded him of fruits and flowers, and sugar. Sweetness. Just like a bloody Princess. No one else smelled like this. It was nearly suffocating!
It had been a week or so since he'd first arrived in his new 'home'. He still hadn't gotten used to it, even though Orihime had done her best to make him feel welcome. After he'd tried lying down on her couch, and decided that it wasn't suitable for a good night's sleep-though he'd much prefer to roam in the darkness, anyway-the girl had gone out of her way to look for a foldout bed just for him. It had eaten up a chunk of her savings, and had been a pain to haul up the apartment stairs. But she'd still done it.
The first time she'd cooked for him...oh, boy. Why hadn't anyone warned him that this chick had such messed up tastes in food? She'd plunked a plate in front of him which, at first glance, appeared to be some kind of seasoned meat dish. He'd dug in, only to retch at the realization that she'd added a few extra ingredients.
"Do you like it?" She had been beaming, so proud of her creation. "It was barbequed beef, but it just seemed so-so bland. So, I decided to spruce it up a little!" She grinned, and Grimmjow had been momentarily caught off-guard by just how wide and bright her smile was. So very warm...she'd never looked like that in Los Noches.
Then, he remembered: on his plate was a dead animal, soaked in BBQ sauce, along with brown sugar, chopped cucumbers and almonds, red bean paste, guacamole, a squirt of citrus and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
He'd overturned the table.
That was when Orihime had been taught a few things of her own, too. Rule Number One when living with Grimmjow: eccentricity, especially with food, is not recommended. Not if you don't want to have to clean up afterwards, while first playing unintentional therapist-slash-parole officer.
So, from then on, she'd cooked simple dishes for him. First and foremost, he was a meat eater, though he didn't have any qualms with her leek pancakes or bread spread with honey. They were weird, yes, but still edible.
He huffed to himself. Thoughts like those only served to exacerbate his appetite. That woman still wasn't done yet? To keep himself from tearing at her sofa, he let his eyes wander around the living room. In particular, they lingered on the now quiet and dark 'Tee Vee' box that lay in front of him, a few feet away. He couldn't understand how such an insignificant object could elicit so much attention from the girl.
This is what he got for being out of the human scene for so long. The world had really gone to pot since he'd been alive...when? How long ago was that? He scratched his head and stretched. As if he honestly cared to remember something that wasn't even there. He was here, in the now. That was all that mattered.
Feh. Stupid idiot box. He had to admit though, he was kind of bored. He hadn't been left with anything to do while he was waiting for his meal, and...to a certain extent, he was curious. Inwardly, he cursed this trait, attributing it to the feline DNA that ran through his dead veins. But he chose to reach for the so-called 'remote', over engaging in a pointless, one-sided argument inside his head. The tiny plastic device was light in his large hand, as he tried to think back on how the female had used it to control that contraption against the wall.
He shook it, and then pressed one button. Nothing. Then another. And another. He held it up above his head, the front aimed at the ceiling. Hadn't she mentioned something about 'antennae' and 'reception' before, on that one night last week, when it had been raining and the 'screen' had gone 'fuzzy'? He pushed once more. But still, no response. So, he aimed it at the box, pushing a red spot at the top of the remote.
And this time, a reaction. The screen lit up, a white line spreading out from the center, opening up to reveal a new series of bright images. He tilted his head. A pair of humans were holding each other tightly, on top of a cliff, the roaring ocean behind them. He shuddered-water. It made him sick, if it wasn't contained in a cup that could fit in his grip. Though the thought of the two figures diving headfirst over the edge together-or perhaps one shoving the other-made him chuckle to himself in brief amusement.
It didn't last very long though, as the two soon leaned in close, pressing their lips together. Grimmjow gagged. They certainly didn't look like cannibals, and if that was the case then his interest was thoroughly squashed. Human affection-ugh! Nothing but mush! He looked back at the remote, trying to find the switch which would replace the image with a new set. After messing with the volume and screen resolution, he finally got the channel to change. He leaned forwards, watching eagerly as a smiling woman with bright red lips talked to the camera, a shining knife in her hands. A grin spread upon his face. Maybe she was going to carve up a few unlucky saps?
She brought the blade down with a heavy thud, the metal slicing through a hunk of meat that lay atop a wooden board. "That's right! With just one clean swing, the Koshi Knife will cut through anything! And it's not just for single strikes, either!" She then began to chop at a rapid pace, dicing up the raw meat with ease. "See? You've seen what it can do to vegetables, but with your own eyes, you've now witnessed its power against uncooked beef that hasn't been tenderized!" She flashed a dazzling smile.
By this point, Grimmjow had lost his interest. All this was doing was making him agitated, remembering his earlier hunger. He cast a glance towards the kitchen once more, taking note of Orihime hard at work in front of the counter. She was obviously deep in concentration. At least he'd have food soon enough, but...
He sighed. Time to find something else to watch. Another few minutes of confusion, before he managed to get the channel to change once again.
"Freeze! Put your hands above your head!" A cop drama was playing out now, though Grimmjow didn't know this. All he saw was a pair of humans holding tiny little metal devices in their hands, aimed at a third human who had way too much hair on his face. He scoffed as the guy took off running, the previous pair now in hot pursuit over and through various scenery.
Sheesh. If I were there, all I'd need is a Cero-hell, not even! I could take 'im down without wasting any energy! Pounce and pin! He'd be in pieces before those two numb-nuts showed up...and I could probably make some nice punching bags outta them, too. He grinned, looking towards the window. What time was it? Maybe he could sneak in a quick hunt before that woman finished preparing his food?
He was just about to stand up, when the words of a certain blond-haired shopkeep rang out in his head. "Remember, if you mess this up-even just one step out of line-it's back to Soul Society for you. Or six feet under. Whichever comes first."
Grimmjow let out an audible groan. So much for that idea. He was lucky that the chick hadn't called the Shinigami forces on him when he'd thrown her cooking halfway across the kitchen. She'd simply been fluttering around, trying to calm him down, apologizing for 'automatically assuming that he wanted any additional toppings on his food'. He'd eventually settled, satisfied by an untouched piece of meat from the pan-her piece, to be precise. And since he'd gone and sent his plate flying...
Jeez, she's a regular doormat. He turned his focus back to the remote in his hand, changing the channel once more. Or maybe he just wasn't used to the idea of someone being nice to him, not expecting anything in return? Perhaps he felt guilty for stealing her food.
He growled, clutching at the plastic controller just a bit tighter, causing the surface to make a faint cracking sound. As if. He hadn't felt guilty killing in Hueco Mundo, nor for all the mayhem he'd caused when in this world as an Arrancar. Why the hell would he feel anything over something as small as that?
I'm the fucking King, the Pantera! Guilt is for those who have shit to regret! Not me! The screen morphed yet again, this time to a sporting event. Grimmjow was oblivious to this. All he saw was a pair of human males in a square, marked off by cords. They were clad in shorts and thick gloves, shuffling in and out as they took swings at each other. The ex-Espada leaned closer, curiosity piqued as he watched the confrontation unfold. Unbeknownst to him, this was called 'boxing'.
"...come on! Come on! Aw, you fucking pansy-asses! Tear his throat out! Oh, oh-damn it! So close! Come on, at least knock his block off! What is this, a fight or a fucking courtship? Just slug the bastard!" Now the male was on his feet, remote in fist as he swung his arms at the screen, voice growing louder with every second, the curses dropped becoming far more vulgar in content.
By this time, Orihime had finished grilling the fish on the stove, and was now bringing out the two plates for them to enjoy in the parlor. "Grimmjow-san, dinner is-"
That was when the remote went flying past her head, smashing into the wall opposite her television. She blinked, as another stream of profanities left the male's mouth.
"Son of a blue-balled bitch! What the fuck? You guys call yourselves fighters? Where's the blood, the bones, the goddamn carnage? I oughta get in there, rip off your fucking nut sacks, string 'em around your scrawny necks and throttle the both of you until you're-" He froze in mid-sentence, as a tiny hand tapped at his shoulder. Whirling around, he let out a barking reply-a strange sound indeed, considering his released form was like that of a cat. "What?!"
Orihime was lucky that he hadn't sent her flying as well, with a misplaced strike. She stood beside him, holding up a plate of warm, properly seasoned fish. "Umm...dinner...?"
"Oh." His shoulders slumped, as he looked over at the wall where the broken remote lay. "Uhh-right, yeah." His previous furor deflated, he snatched the plate from her hands and sat back on the couch, munching away furiously. He didn't even bother to pull the bones out. Orihime let out a soft sigh, turning her attention to the new mess she had to clean before she could enjoy her meal.
I really need to explain the concept of television and organized sports to him some day...and I need to fix the remote, too. Mentally, she let out a sigh of relief-even if she wasn't fighting, her fairies still came in handy. At least I don't have to buy a new one. Just had to buy the bed...and the food. Though I did get the mat used, so...
She looked back at Grimmjow, her long hair effectively blocking her gaze from his view. He was still eating, pausing every so often to pick a bone fragment from his teeth or mask. She supposed that to a panther-much less a dead one, skinny little fish bones didn't mean much.
Still, she had to smile at his gusto. Just like a cat. I should learn to whip up more seafood dishes. It would certainly help to conserve her money; meat wasn't cheap, and while fish came with its own price tag, it did cost less than beef. Now, seating herself at the low table with plate in hand, she was pondering whether or not her new companion wouldn't mind some raw concoctions. If they were ocean-based...
And so, another night passed by.
A/N: Yo. Sooo...originally, this was supposed to be a oneshot. By the time I finished writing, it had clocked in at thirty pages. Way too long to go through in one go. So, I broke it up into four parts, and uploaded it here to my main account as a mini-series. Second attempt at writing anything for this pair, which has ultimately become my current obsession.
It follows canon to a certain point; swerves and diverges right before the Fullbringers enter the picture. Mainly because A.) the arc isn't finished, B.) this isn't meant to be an action-adventure epic, and C.) that mostly follows Ichigo, who doesn't get much screen time in this story. Sorry, dude. ^^; [Reason I started reading 'Bleach'? Orihime. Yeah, you can laugh now.]
'Ahem' ANYWAYS...this is far more light-hearted than my first oneshot [on second account, OublietteVII], though it is something of a continuation or tie-in. I had fun adding in my own humorous little touches this time around, while at the same time trying to stay as In Character as possible. May have flubbed the Soul Society bit...it wasn't easy coming up with a good explanation for why the surviving Arrancar [or who I think/know survived] would be sent to Earth, much less to live with former enemies.
How was this, all in all? All feedback is encouraged, welcomed and appreciated-I really want to know how my first attempt at 'Bleach' chapter fic is going so far. I'm really nervous! Methinks I might have gotten a little carried away when writing Grimmjow...I tried my best to imagine him the situation I'd concocted, and can only hope I didn't mess up his character. Orihime's too; I just couldn't really see her cowering and being miserable in her own home, nor could I see her holding a grudge, especially after what happened w/them, as well as having a task of this nature set upon her.
Okay, before this note eats up the fic, I will sign off. Take care, and, hopefully [so long as I have a place to live and access to internet], I'll be seeing you next week with chapter two! Happy Memorial Day weekend!