This is my new baby! I know it may not be very good so far, but stick with me and I might fall into the flow of things ;p This is the second fic in my Skimmer arc, so enjoy it as much as the last... or yell at me and tell me to do better =)

Warnings: There's really nothing to be warned about in this chapter, it's fairly tame.

Ichi: Tame my ass, she's evil!

Vae: How could you say that about me T^T I treat you better than most! Don't I always give you a happy ending?

Grimm: I don't know... that last fic you finished had be surrounded by little brats.

Ichi: ... Grimm... How could you? Those were our cubs!

Grimm: *sigh* Great, he's on mood swings again.

Chapter 1

The air is cooler than it should be, the orangette yawning and stretching within the warm bed he's stretched out on. Something seems very wrong, yet he doesn't want to open his eyes and start his day. The door opens and he smirks a bit, waiting for his lover to join him in bed as he normally does. When that doesn't happen, he narrows his brow in question and opens his amber eyes. Beside him, a woman walks alongside the bed and sets a tray on the bedside table. Ichigo's heart stops at the sight of her, her too familiar white uniform and long green locks… and bone fragment nestled in her hair like a barrette. She glances toward him and smiles happily.

"Good morning," she states. "I'd like to ask you… would you prefer I call you mam, or queen… or maybe my lady."

"… I… I… I…"

"Lady it is! Grimmy doesn't like 'king' either, although he prefers it when he's feeling particularly smug. I'm very excited in my promotion, you know. I was the very first person Grimmy thought of to care for your needs! It's a great honor to be that trusted around here… Are you okay, my lady?"


"This must be quite overwhelming," the petite female sighs. "I apologize for my thoughtlessness; I hadn't realized you might take this badly. Grimmy is your mate, isn't he? Of course he wouldn't leave you behind… Please say something, my lady."

"… I'm in… Hueco Mundo?" he forces out.

"Of course."

"You're an… A-Arrancar…"

"I am. My name is Sun-Sun."

"… W-Where's Grimm?"

"Hmm… He said he was going out for a walk and I was to take care of you. Anything you need, I'm right here to get. Would you like a bath after your breakfast? I'll draw you a hot bath, okay? Maybe that will help to relax you, my lady."

Ichigo says nothing, his mind so shot at the moment that he's having difficulty thinking past the realization of where he is. He doesn't know how this happened, can't remember any signs, and can't believe he slept through it! He eats without thought, an automatic response as he tries to get his mind back online, and then Sun-Sun returns with a skip in her step.

"Your bath is drawn, my lady," she smiles. "I put in bath salts to help you relax! Come now; let's get you in that water."

She gently pulls at Ichigo's arm, smiling soothingly as he gets up and follows her. He's vaguely aware of the fact he's naked, a light blush making its way to the bridge of his nose even through his stupor. The minute he's sinking down into the in ground tub, it feels as though the weight of three worlds has been taken from his shoulders. He sighs in content, sinking down a bit lower, but jumps when hands in his hair startle him. It's quickly becoming obvious that Sun-Sun is bathing him, his mind shaking itself into first gear as the realization strikes every nerve within his body.

"W-What are you doin?" he asks mortified.

"I'm bathing you, as I was instructed!" she remarks unperturbed. "I am to take care of all your needs, just as Grimmy ordered me to! You're a very special guest here and I am appointed to be your personal servant."

"I can bathe myself, thanks."

"No, no. Grimmy was very specific. I'm to take care of you while he's gone, so this is my job. You don't have to worry, I don't swing your way," she giggles with a playful wink. "If I did, I wouldn't be allowed to touch you even being a submissive… Grimmy is extremely territorial."

The orangette is about to start yelling, but decides he doesn't want the other to get in trouble and just sits back. It's actually quite relaxing, her thin fingers massaging his scalp as the soothing smell of lavender fills the room. The hot water soothes his nerves, his breathing calming as he falls into a trance somewhere between sleeping and awake. He's mildly curious about what Grimmjow would have to do, even more curious about the fact there were survivors of the war, and he makes a mental note to start asking questions with a clearer mind once he's done here.

It's quiet within the halls of Los Noches, the once white walls splattered with different colors and the uncomfortable white chairs replaced with cushions. Ichigo isn't certain how to take this change, as it's… odd. It looks as though the entire place was taken over by retro store, but it exudes comfort and welcome. Sun-Sun had retrieved an extra outfit for Ichigo, but it's not the same… it's no longer white. It would seem the group had discovered dye, so his outfit is sky blue. It's one of Luppi's old uniforms, the test uniforms for the dying process, and it fit disturbingly well on his slight frame.

"You'll love it here!" Sun-Sun chatters eagerly. "Everyone is so excited to have you here. You're day is very full, my lady. First you need to see Szayel so he can give you a checkup, but you'll have to see Hallibel for a quick minute, then you have to meet with Ulquiorra under the request of a civil chat, afterward I have to take you to Nnoitra who would appreciate a spar…"

"W-Wait!" he states a bit overwhelmed. "I d-don't want to b-bother anyone."

"No, silly, it was requested. Well, except for Szayel. You need to have a checkup so he knows what condition of health you arrived in, that way he can better diagnose you should you fall ill. It'll be okay, my lady, the Espada aren't the same… well… they're a lot calmer."

"Why do you keep calling me that?" Ichigo grumbles. "I'm not a girl."

"No, but you're a submissive… it's the same thing here, unfortunately," she sighs. "But don't worry, you're not alone. And I call you that because you're Grimmy's mate; you're special… like the queen here! You deserve a fitting title. Only the Espada can call you by name, it's not respectful for Fraccion to do so."

Ichigo groans inwardly, irritated at the name and knowing there's no stopping it. He watches the changing colors as they head down the halls, his curiosity peeked at the paints that gradually change shades. Sun-Sun seems so happy guiding him through the halls, humming to herself as Ichigo follows. Her flowing teal dress drags on the floor, her billowing sleeves bypassing her hands by an incredible length as she holds her hands to her lips in an attempt to suppress her giddy giggles.

"This is Szayel's new lab," she offers after stopping before a door. "I have to go tell him you're here, so stay right here, my lady."

"I'm not gonna chance moving," the orangette sighs. "I'm positive I'll only get lost."

She nods and hurries through the door, leaving Ichigo to wait nervously within the wide halls of the place he once laid siege to. A thump sounds behind him and he jumps, footsteps echoing from what seems all corners, and he's sorely missing the placid female that was guiding him. The minute she opens the door for him, he's tearing into the room with frantic amber orbs. The male standing casually beside an examination cot raises a delicate pink brow, yet says nothing about the other's anxious behavior.

"Hop up here, please. Sun-Sun will stay within the area to keep you calm and comfortable; however I'll be giving you a full examination. Please keep calm in any manner you may think helps, some of these exams may test that barrier considering past events," he comments in a bored fashion.

"Is this really necessary," Ichigo sighs as he pinches the bridge of his nose.

In the presence of the male he knows to be rather strong, his mind has automatically pushed forth his more domineering attitude. He doesn't know why, but he feels as though he needs to challenge this male. Szayel raises that brow once more, pushing his bone glasses up his nose as he observes the orangette sitting before him. Those amber eyes, once timid when walking in, are now hard and burning with a fire only two types of Hollows contain… alphas and alpha betas.

"My, my… an alpha beta," Szayel smirks. "Well… Hallibel is the queen bitch in this pack, so you'll have to press dominance with her if you're to get anywhere. I know my place very well, thanks."

"What are you talking about?" Ichigo growls.

"You're not even aware of doing it are you?" the pink haired scientist wonders in awe. "Simply fascinating. I would love to explain everything to you, if you'd let me. I am quite enthralled with the whole alpha/beta relationship."

"Grimmy said no," Sun-Sun remarks firmly. "You're only allowed to examine his health, Hallibel is supposed to speak with my lady about that. It's already set up."

"Fine," the other sighs in disappointment.

Szayel is quiet the rest of the exam, though Ichigo growls in warning every so often. With Sun-Sun in the room, the orangette settles just enough to keep himself from lashing out. After the pink haired male decides Ichigo is perfectly healthy, the green haired female drags Ichigo off once more. They pass the silver haired ex-Shinigami Ichigo knows as Gin Ichimaru, the male waving jovially as the orangette is dragged by. Confusion is once more welling within the other's mind, his warning bells shot in the face of such uncharacteristic and bizarre events. The Arrancar were his enemies, they should be trying to kill him… although if their strategy is to push him into insanity, they're doing a hell of job. After a long walk, he's finally pushed into a large training area. A tall blonde woman, three sections of her locks tied off in random tails, turns to gaze upon him with serious orbs.

"Kurosaki," she greets. "Has Sun-Sun been of adequate help?"

"Uh… y-yes," he nods.

All the fight he mustered up in Szayel's presence deflates royally in front of this woman, as she's an older and more experienced alpha beta. Ichigo doesn't realize this, of course. All he knows it this woman is intimidating without even speaking, he knows his mind is warning him to submit to an extent and he's not stupid enough to ignore the warning. Hallibel hums to herself as she stands tall before him, her piercing gaze looking him over before she nods to herself in satisfaction.

"So… you know your place," she murmurs. "Good. I have little worry you'll be victim to a bitch fight, your instincts are well honed. I was quite irritated when Grimmjow showed up with you in haul; he should've explained how things are done here before dropping you off on my lap."

"I-I'm sorry," Ichigo finds himself blurting out. "I didn't know… he just… I could leave…"

"You will do no such thing. You belong at your alpha's side, this is where you'll stay," she comments. "I've little to say to you on the explanation; it's not something that can be taught. You are a beta… an alpha beta, which is highly rare. Be proud of that fact."

"Um… Okay."

"There is an order to things in Hueco Mundo… the food chain, in a matter of speaking. Betas, unfortunately, are at the bottom. They have no choice in matters and are quickly shown their place by stronger betas, the fighting for higher status endless… the lower you are on the totem pole, the more worthless you are the alphas looking for mates to protect."

"That's horrible!" Ichigo gasps before Hallibel cuts her gaze at him. "S-Sorry."

"Alpha betas are in the middle, they choose who they want to mate with. They'll submit to none but that mate and are given the right to fight off any and all pursuers to obtain the rights to that particular alpha. They're not highly sought after, only the greatest of alphas try for them… high maintenance and difficult to dominate completely," Hallibel waves off. "Alphas are the top of the food chain; they control everything when alone… but nothing when mating. Their sole concern is the happiness and wellbeing of their mate, for as long as that mate is worth anything to them. Espada and Arrancar are evolved a tad more than Hollows around here, so they normally keep their mates until they die."

"Grimmjow's not keeping me here, he wouldn't do…"

"He's already made it quite clear you're to stay," the blonde frowns. "Had he not spoke of it with you? I wouldn't put it past him; alphas are so greedy and selfish at times. Keep this in mind, Kurosaki… This is the wild, either hone that base instinct to survive… or die. There is no room for the weak of heart in Hueco Mundo; we can't protect you all the time."

"… You don't want me here," Ichigo states boldly. "So open a Gargantua and I'll get out of your hair."

"It is not my call, Kurosaki. That call belongs to our king and he's already made it. I will suffer your presence… perhaps I'll even grow to like you. One never knows. Sun-Sun, you may take him away now."

"Right! Come, my lady," Sun-Sun smiles brightly. "Ulquiorra is next on the list!"

A sudden vision of the raven haired Espada blasting a hole through his chest flashes before Ichigo's eyes, his reiatsu whipping around in fury even as he attempts to keep calm. They did nothing to him; he shouldn't attack first and wear out his welcome. As long as they play nice, so will Ichigo. Hallibel watches the reaction with a growing interest, seeing exactly what Grimmjow saw in the little orangette. He's small and looks far weaker than the average alpha beta… than the average beta, even… but he's the embodiment of hell's fire just waiting to be unleashed. Once he's a tad more experienced on the battlefield, she might even have a challenger on her hands. She smirks in anticipation, saying nothing more as Sun-Sun eagerly pulls the vibrant haired teen away.

Ulquiorra is in a large room filled with shelves upon shelves of books and scrolls, the library no doubt. The minute he sees the powerful alpha, Ichigo's reiatsu is licking the area around him in a mixture of fury and caution. The raven, once sitting on a plush couch and reading a book, shuts his reading material and stands stiffly. He gives a slight bow of his head in greeting, waiting for Ichigo to say something or come nearer. When the teen bows his head in return, he gives him a quizzical gaze with his large emerald eyes.

"Why do you bow to me?" he wonders with genuine curiosity.

"It's a greeting, you did it first," Ichigo points out a bit frustrated.

"You are not to bow to anyone but Grimmjow," Ulquiorra points out as realization dawns on him. "Only Grimmjow and you are bowed to here, we're beneath you."

"If you start uttering nonsense about people being 'trash' I'm leaving," Ichigo mutters blandly.

"I don't wish for that. I actually asked you here… to apologize."

Ichigo's amber eyes widen as Ulquiorra looks to the carpet in defeat. The other is extremely sincere, that much the orangette can tell through his normally blank eyes, and Ichigo finds himself calming a tad more. He carefully walks closer and sits on the couch, Ulquiorra leaving enough room between them when he follows suit to keep the other comfortable.

"I was merely following orders," he adds. "While I was once loyal to Aizen, now shall I be to you and Grimmjow. I hope you can forgive me."

"It's fine," Ichigo sighs before looking up in question. "Why are we the only ones bowed to?"

"Grimmjow is our king and you are his mate… which makes you his queen," the other clarifies at Ichigo's blank look. "My, our queen isn't as bright as I had hoped."

"Okay, look. If I'm your queen then you have to do as I say, right?"

"Depending on if it goes against what the king has ordered."

"Stop fucking bowing to me!" Ichigo snaps. "I don't like it! I'm no different than anyone else, so stop treating me like I am! Better or worse, I don't fucking care, just stop treating me different! I've been treated differently my whole life, I just want to be treated normal for once. Please?"

The pleading look within amber eyes isn't one the raven feels a queen should possess, as a queen should be the strongest beta in Hueco Mundo… one that would be steel and silk all in one. Ichigo is steel and silk… but he's also far too much heart. That's the only trait that threw the others when Grimmjow announced the mate he chose, so this look only serves to confuse the raven more. He wants to remove that look.

"… Well… that doesn't go against what Grimmjow has ordered," Ulquiorra sighs. "I suppose I can stop bowing to you, but you will always be treated differently if only a little."

Ichigo's pleading and sad expression morphs into a relieved grin, Ulquiorra's heart thumping loudly in his chest where he had thought it finally died during the war. Perhaps that's why Grimmjow chose this rebellious little beta; he can make him feel alive again. At any rate, Ichigo is all kinds of fire and fun… especially for a destructive being like Grimmjow. He always choses lovers that can put up a fight, but he'll be eternally satisfied with the orangette beside him. He starts when the younger male reaches toward him, lifting his book and reading the cover. With a small smile, the vibrant haired teen sets it down and leaves to go find one of his own to read. The raven haired Espada is surprised when he comes back to sit with him, a book by Edgar Allen Poe in one hand. He could like this teen, but he'll never admit it.

Edgar Allen Poe is so awesome! =) he's my mom's favorite writer... aside from James Patterson, although she did say she hated that book he co-writed *shrugs* Oh well. I hope this is starting out well! I had a great idea for it, so I'm trying to pull Ichigo's inner Hollow out just a tad while he's in Hueco Mundo! =D

Ichi: Shiro's a pain enough without actually merging with him! D=

Shiro: That ain't nice, aibou! I treat ya damn good!

Ichi: You're all against me! I quit! T^T

Grimm: Awe, Kitten... I'm not against you. You just need to calm down, get some of that stress out. I can help! =3

Ichi: ... I'm so not in the mood for your seduction techniques.

Grimm: You'll cave, you always do. ;p