Summary: Ichigo is captured and scheduled to be "studied" by Szayel, a process that will prove fatal for the teen. Grimmjow doesn't have the stomach for it and makes a rash decision. Set after Ichigo's second fight with Grimmjow. One-shot. M for swearing. Please R&R.
Disclaimer: Bleach and all it's characters belong to Tite Kubo.
This fairly unoriginal concept popped into my mind one morning, and I managed to write it in a day. I'm usually quite slow so this was a triumph for me.
Made a few small changes/improvements in Dec, 2012. Nothing so great as to warrant rereading this if you've already done so. But if you haven't yet, enjoy!
Grimmjow had to see this with his own deleterious eyes.
He ambled through the labyrinthine halls of Las Noches, feeling temporarily sated after so recently relieving the former Sexta of his undeserved rank, and leaving the bottom half of his charred body in a spitting, steaming pile of half cooked flesh that smelled to him like sweet victory.
A cero to the face. That's exactly what Grimmjow had been about to do to Kurosaki Ichigo on the streets of Karakura, right before all hell had broken loose and Grimmjow had found himself on the losing end of an impromptu fight with a surprisingly strong opponent, one who was wearing a mask just like Kurosaki's.
Grimmjow was still fuming over the stinging embarrassment of being saved by non other that the Quatra, whom he detested only slightly less than their three Shinigami overlords.
Ulquiorra had stopped the fight and then moved faster than Grimmjow's eyes could follow. The Quatra had dropped Kurosaki's two friends without having the decency to even break a sweat, while Grimmjow had nearly slumped to his knees, panting and straining to stay upright and keep the remaining shreds of his dignity in tact in front of the pale, stone-faced bastard.
Grimmjow's jaw had dropped when Ulquiorra had simply backhanded the kid and then slung his unconscious body over his shoulder. Then he'd turned to the Sexta and announced that they were returning to Las Noches, as a beam of light engulfed them, whatever shady plan of Aizen's that had been playing out in the background, obviously now complete.
The three of them had been returned by the Negacion directly into the throne room, where Grimmjow had collapsed in front of Aizen as his abused body finally gave out. He'd been unable to move under his own power but he'd still been conscious. And he'd heard every word as Aizen had studied the orange-haired boy at his feet. He'd sounded awfully disappointed.
Apparently, whatever Aizen had wanted from him, the kid didn't seem to have.
As useless as the kid was in a fight, Aizen seemed bent on finding out more about him... what made him tick.
Szayel had already been summoned and he had positively beamed when Aizen had told him to take the substitute Shinigami back to his lab to be used as a research subject. He wasn't allowed to experiment on any of the Espada, but Grimmjow always kept a wary eye on him anyway. He wouldn't put it past the freak to try.
As fucking "interesting" as Grimmjow found the Shinigami human to be, Grimmjow didn't get it. Szayel's interests always lay in testing power and creating new abilities, but this bothersome kid seemed to be a real treat to the pink-haired scientist.
Grimmjow dragged the sharp nails of his newly restored arm along the stone wall as he walked, leaving a long line of claw marks in his wake. It felt good to be whole again.
Aizen was handing out all kinds of presents today. He had the girl now, and that seemed to make him happy, as far as the word happy could truly go towards describing any emotion that the psychopathic renegade Shinigami could reproduce.
Grimmjow didn't give a shit one way or another about Aizen's feelings. Or his interests. He only cared about being the sexta espada and the power that came with it. He didn't question Aizen's motive's. They didn't interest him as much as what lay ahead.
He'd had his arm returned to him, and that had been fucking great, but there was already something much more important on his mind.
That's where Grimmjow was heading right now. He was casually making his way towards Szayel's personal playground of torture. It had been a day since Grimmjow's fight with the young Shinigami and though Szayel had taken him directly to his labs, the kid had spent a day in the infirmary being healed, because apparently, they wanted him in top condition before they started whatever experiments they were planning.
So, Grimmjow wasn't in any particular rush, but he still wanted to see the boy, check him out. And he was curious to find out what it was that Szayel had planned for him. Mostly, though, he wanted to make sure he was going to get another crack at the kid, their fight being interrupted - again - and a clear victor being undecided - again. There wouldn't be a winner until one of them was dead. Though, in both cases, of course the winner would have been Grimmjow.
He strolled through the entrance to the lab and smiled menacingly at the Eighth Arrancar. Szayel looked up from the operating table where he had just finished administering a round of drugs into his current subject, Kurosaki Ichigo.
"Jaegerjaquez-san. To what do I owe this... pleasure?" There was a polite grin on the Eighth's face but Grimmjow could feel how much he was bristling behind it. This was his play area, and Grimmjow was not particularly welcome under most circumstances. Grimmjow's place was on the battlefield, and at the pointy end of a sword if Szayel had anything to say about it, which he didn't, which suited Grimmjow just fine.
"Don't get your panties in a wad, Szayel. I'm just here to see the kid."
The scientist tilted his head to the side and batted his eyelashes in a fashion which Grimmjow found to be far too womanly for an Espada, even the lone female Espada.
Grimmjow made his way over to the table and looked down at Ichigo with interest. He was naked, his dignity covered with a thin piece of plain white cloth that draped across his hips. There were faded scares from all his fights, but the ones Grimmjow had left him with the other day still looked pink and fresh. He ignored Szayel's pointed look and ran a finger lightly down one of the scars.
He glanced around the room until his eyes swept across a long tray of sharp, shiny instruments, neatly arranged from small simple scalpels to large and questionable hacksaws.
A line of empty jars that sat on a nearby counter top didn't escape his notice either. Each one was clearly labelled, 'subject 166 – Kurosaki Ichigo'.
"Jesus Christ Granz, what in the fuck are you planning to do to him?"
"Hmmh? Why, I'm going to perform an evisceration of course."
He touched his finger to beneath his own chin and drew an imaginary line from his neck to his navel with a quick sweep of his hand.
"Aizen doesn't care how many pieces he ends up in, as long as he gets his information," he said with a dry smile. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get started. This is going to take some time, days maybe, and we all know that Aizen isn't as patient as he looks."
Grimmjow wasn't pleased. There was another hard-on inducing fight out their with both their names on it, and it was going to be taken away from him by this simpering...
How long did it take to cut someone open and haul out their innards? It usually took the Sexta a couple of seconds to reach in and pull out a liver or a spleen, and it was usually in tact when he did. He really was that good with his hands.
His thoughts came to a stunned halt as a movement from the body on the table caught his eye, and a low groan suddenly made his hair stand on end. The fucking kid was still awake.
Grimmjow watched as Ichigo shook his head weakly back and forth. It was a gesture of denial more than one of escape. The kid had heard every word. He knew what Szayel was going to do to him. And he knew there was absolutely nothing he could do about it except shake his head and moan.
"Ah yes, I forgot about that. How careless. I need to get an extra set of straps for his head. Can't have him flailing around while I work," he singsonged.
Grimmjow's eyebrows knit together in dark scowl. He hesitated before he asked.
"Why would he be flailing around if he's unconscious?"
"Who said anything about him being unconscious? I was just giving him some painkillers and a second round of mild sedatives to keep him still when you arrived. I need him to remain awake while I run my tests. You see, an active mind will produce optimal results. He'll die eventually of course, once I've removed most of his organs..."
Grimmjow stood slack-jawed and wide-eyed as his brain tried to make sense of the words.
"You... You sick fuck!" Grimmjow's lip curled up in disgust. "You're even more sadistic than I thought."
"Does this bother you Jaegerjaquez-san?"
Grimmjow didn't answer. He was trying to decide if he should just throw it all away and end this abomination of an Arrancar in front him. In the natural order of things, if their lives were allowed to play out as they had before the Hollows had become subjugated, Grimmjow wouldn't have hesitated. But with Aizen in charge, it would mean the end of him too.
"Because I would be more than happy to release this human, if you would be so kind as to jump up on this table for me." Szayel patted the steel table three times with his hand, producing a hollow tinny ring.
"What?" Grimmjow's blue eyes narrowed. What did the fucker just say to him?
"I won't eviscerate the boy... if you take his place."
Grimmjow moved, and before Szayel could even react, he was slammed up against the wall, feet inches off the floor, with the Sexta's hand wrapped around his neck, fingers digging painfully into his throat and threatening to crush his windpipe.
"I could crush your neck right now, you sick sack of shit. Don't forget who you're fucking talking to."
The scientist made a strangled sound, and after watching him turn several shades of bluish-purple, Grimmjow dropped him and stepped back. The pink-haired man stumbled away, rubbing his throat and coughing. He stopped in the doorway that lead to the next room and cleared his throat, trying to look as poised as anyone who almost had their neck snapped could possibly look.
"Fine, Jaegerjaquez." The honorific was noticeably dropped. "You can stay and watch if you want. But don't touch anything. And if you have a weak stomach, please try not to throw up in my lab, although I hardly think that's the case with an animal like yourself."
He sniffed in haughty derision and flicked his hair with his hand as he turned and disappeared into a deeper part of the laboratory. Grimmjow glowered but raised an eyebrow. What a fag.
A soft whine called his attention back to the orange-haired teen. The kid's eyelashes were fluttering rapidly as he tried to focus on Grimmjow, but his honey-brown eyes kept rolling upward as if he couldn't hold them still as the drugs swept through his system. It didn't take a genius to see that Ichigo was literally screaming inside, and begging Grimmjow to save him from this horrific fate.
For a moment, he actually considered it.
The logistics of it were simple. Grab the kid and run. Dump his sorry ass off on the ex-Shinigami with the hat and sandals that he'd heard so much about from Aizen's fox-faced accomplice. Then he could have his fight.
The sexta weighed the consequences in his mind, calculating the odds of this working out in his favour in the end. And they sucked.
He glanced down at Ichigo, who was practically hyperventilating. And then Grimmjow made his decision.
He would be killed if and when they caught up to him. Probably tortured first in front of his comrades as punishment and to send a clear message to any other arrancar stupid enough to consider betraying Aizen.
Torture and execution was the price. Fighting Kurosaki Ichigo was the prize.
Grimmjow snorted as he leaned over the helpless human, bone teeth splitting apart as a dark grin stretched across his face.
They wanted him to be good, nice, behaved, obedient. Well they could all go screw themselves. The very last thing he would ever do in this lifetime was roll over and play the good dog for some sanctimonious God wannabe and his merry band of ass-kissers.
As far as Grimmjow was concerned, it was them and him. He was no more a part of them than he was a part of the Soul Society. Grimmjow was only in it for himself, and he only cared about one person, Grimmjow.
And apparently, Kurosaki Ichigo.
X X X
Szayel Apporo Granz walked back into his lab to find an empty table staring back at him, and he immediately broke into a cold sweat.
No Ichigo. No Grimmjow.
Aizen was going to have his ass. You didn't just lose Aizen's property without there being serious repercussions. He didn't want to think about what Aizen might do when he found out. But he did want to think about what Aizen might do to the Sexta.
Szayel sighed. The sooner the better for him. He didn't want to be doubly reprimanded for delaying his report to Aizen.
He smiled despite himself as he hurried out of the lab and shunpo'd down the hallway. Szayel was going to get off light compared to what Grimmjow had coming to him.
X X X
Grimmjow leaped from the Garganta that he'd opened in front of Urahara's shop and landed on the pavement with Ichigo in his arms, clinging weakly to him, head buried into the crook of Grimmjow's neck. He was naked and cold, the flimsy cloth having fallen away as the Sexta had raced through the Garganta. Ichigo's modesty was the furthest thing from Grimmjow's mind as he touched down in Karakura. They could be right behind him.
He began to move with long strides towards the warm lights of the Shoten. It was the safest place for Ichigo. Sparks shot out from behind him as he moved, the large and cumbersome Zangetsu being jammed through his black sash on his free hip. It was a good thing that Szayel had the substitute Shinigami's sword out for study as well. The kid was going to need it when they fought again.
Grimmjow snorted. Who the hell was he kidding? He was a dead man.
The Sexta was jerked from his thoughts as a sword tip thrust itself into the soft flesh of his chin.
"Glnxx," was all he could manage to say in reply to the warm greeting he had just received from Urahara Kisuke. Where the hell had he come from? Grimmjow hadn't even sensed his approach.
"Good evening, Arrancar. A little far from home tonight, aren't we? I see you have someone that we've all been missing. Might you be dropping him off?"
Grimmjow did his best to nod without driving the sharp implement further into his throat.
The sword was drawn back fractionally, just enough so that Grimmjow could speak.
"And may I ask what your motivation is for returning Kurosaki to us?"
"They were gonna kill him. And I wanna fight him. Can't do that if he's dead and in million pieces."
He hadn't meant to say it like that, but the thought of Ichigo taken apart and stuffed into jars in a lab was still eating at him.
Shock flashed across Urahara's assessing eyes as the true nature of the situation revealed itself. Grimmjow had stolen Kurosaki from Aizen. And Kurosaki had been scheduled to be... dismantled and studied. One way or the other, Aizen was going to retaliate. Ichigo may be safe for now, but this blue-haired Arrancar was a dangerous man to have around.
"Seeing as you saved Ichigo, I would like to help you, but..." Urahara sheathed his zanpakuto. "If you're seeking sanctuary, I cannot give you that, Arrancar."
Urahara nodded and held his arms out. He caught the brief hesitation before Grimmjow shrugged Ichigo carefully into them, like he was passing off a small child. Urahara never took his eyes from the arrancar's face as he let go of his burden. There was a sadness, a regret, a bitter loss lodged somewhere between the coldness of his azure eyes and the hardness of his expression.
Grimmjow turned away and muttered gruffly before he sonidoed into the darkness.
"Just take good care of him for me. I want him in good shape for the next time we fight."
Urahara's reply reached only empty space.
X X X
Urahara sat on the floor inside the paper walls of the shoten's guest room. His student was sitting up, clothed in his newly regenerated shihakusho and wrapped in a blanket, with a half spilt cup of hot tea in his grip.
Urahara placed a hand on Ichigo's shoulder and squeezed. The teen was pale and shaking, but it wasn't from the drugs he'd received in Hueco Mundo. He was weak still, only having just come around from the sedatives, and he hadn't said a word to Urahara yet, aside from a polite 'thank you' when Urahara had handed him the hot liquid to help him recover his senses a little faster. The shop keeper wanted to asked him what had happened over there, but Ichigo was far too upset to talk bout it. That much he could tell.
Ichigo turned suddenly to Urahara and spoke.
"Where is he?"
"Yes." Ichigo eye's held a complicated mix of concern and distaste.
"He left after he dropped you off. He's hiding somewhere in the human world now, I imagine."
Urahara waited for a reaction, anything to help him gauge Ichigo's state of mind. Ichigo only blinked and nodded in understanding.
"I couldn't let him stay here, Ichigo. It would have put us all in more danger."
"Yeah. I know," he mumbled.
"Kurosaki-san, what was the Arrancar's name?"
Ichigo was quiet for a moment. When he finally spoke, his voice was hard, but soft.
"Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez. Sexta Espada."
"Ah. He's the one you encountered twice before..."
Ichigo looked away from Urahara and let his eyes settle on the cup in his hands. A hole filled with darkness, cradled between his palms. He still had a score to settle with the overconfident Sexta.
He stared into the steam of his hot liquid, and passed his hand through the white mist, watching as it slipped through his fingers and evaporated into nothing.