A.N.: Hello dear readers! I jumped on this idea when it popped in my head right after reading Manga Chapter 485. I am SO happy to see the espada back and REALLY hope that Tite Kubo brings back Grimmjow and eventually makes him an ally to our heroes. This story is my idea of what happened in Hueco Mundo since the war with Aizen. It time jumps so make sure to note the days and I swear it all comes together and makes sense, I have already written more than thrity pages. This story counts down to the days of the Vandenreich attack on Soul Society. I look forward to seeing where the canon goes, but I really wanted act on his inspiration now!
Also, I tried to research Nel's speech patters but it seems to vary between Manga, Anime, dub, sub, fan-sub, etc, so I have just done my best. Thanks,
42 days ago
"WHAAAAA!" a tiny girl ran through the forest, wailing as loud as her lungs would allow between breaths. Her eyes were wide in her round face, a scar crossing through the middle of her features and running into the white bone mask that sat on her crown.
"Shut up!" The voice caused her to stop in her wild flight, her cry dying in her throat when she saw the man propped at the base of a tree.
"I said...shut up..." Despite his hostility she ran over to him and sat before him, gripping his torn pant leg like she had so many times in the last harrowing weeks. He made no move to fling her off or tell her to let go as he normally would. She saw how laboured his breathing was, blood trickling out of his nose.
"You made it out." She whispered up to him.
"...barely. They got Halibel..."
"But she's so strong!"
Grimmjow weakly shook his head. "It doesn't matter..." He coughed, wheezing like he was only getting a small amount of air and she watched his eyes shut tight in pain. He was covered in small wounds, but none of them should be causing him this amount of suffering.
"Poison of some sort...guess they got tired of chasing me."
"WHAT? Nel didn't see anything like that!"
His eyes peeled open and he regarded her for a moment "Where were you?"
"Nel went to where her brothers used to play eternal tag with her! Nel thought maybe if she was in danger they would finally show up."
"Not that again." He moaned, "So you didn't get hit?"
"Nel doesn't think so."
"Trust me, you'd know." He wrapped one hand around his stomach and reached for a low branch trying to get up.
"Nel doesn't think Grimmjow should be moving!"
"Neither does Grimmjow but he doesn't have much choice now does he?" His voice was so low and she just stared up at him as he struggled up. She never let go of his pant leg as he staggered onward into the Menos Forest.
"Did Grimmjow see the bodies?" She asked.
"Yeah, poison got every damn thing in this place. Shoulda gone where you went, I guess."
"Nel didn't think she'd ever see any of her friends again!"
"I told you...we're not friends."
"Even after I used my spit to heal what Nniotra did?"
"You puking on me when I can't move does not make us friends, kid." He stumbled and she moved to brace him. She was really too small to be of much use but his hand fell on her mask and stopped him from collapsing entirely. With great difficulty, he rose again but considered her for a moment. "Can't you transform back into an espada again?"
"Nel still doesn't know how."
"Figures." They continued forward.
"Where is the fat one?"
"Yammy? Dunno. Maybe they got him too."
"Nel doesn't like him anyway. He was always mean to her."
"Yeah, neither do I but we need to stick together."
"Is that why you haven't yelled at Nel to go away like you usually do?"
He sighed but gave no answer, concentrating on breathing and hoping his spiritual pressure would purge the poison from his body soon.
"Nel heard something. She heard them talking in the palace."
This caught his attention. "What did you hear?"
"They said they're going to make an arrancar army and destroy Soul Society." He stared at her before losing his balance and falling against a tree.
"Does Grimmjow know what that means?"
"When did you hear this?"
"Well, before Nel found you here, she checked the palace to see if you were still there."
"You got back in?" But he shook his head, trying to jump to the point, "So when?"
She shrugged, "A few days ago."
He slid down the tree and she tried to ease his descent.
"Why is Grimmjow so upset?"
"Halibel...They got Halibel sixteen days ago, maybe Yammy too. Could they be using espada to make new arrancars?"
"Nel doesn't know."
But he was talking to himself. "Shit. I have to get her out of there."
"Is Grimmjow going to rescue his friends?"
"We're not friends, we're just..." he sighed softly, "all we've got left."
"Is that why Grimmjow is happy Nel is here?"
"Who said I was happy?"
"Nel can tell."
"It's okay, Nel misses her friends too."
She lowered her head. He sighed again and she jumped, feeling the weight of his hand on her head. When she looked up she saw his eyes half closed and more blood trailing from his nose. "You should run, kid, while you can."
His hand slid to the ground and his eyes shut. She watched his chest barely moving. "Grimmjow?" The silence of the forest, the emptiness, the death that surrounded her- it all seemed to crush in on her in the dark and she dared move in closer to him. When he didn't wake and she felt how cold his body was, she hugged herself again his chest and promised him she would not leave.
"You should eat something." Halibel did not acknowledge the guard above her. Her food lay untouched before her chained hands. She had found some relief when they'd lowered her arms and she was able to sit back on the ground but pain still throbbed through her broken body, parts of her bone coverings shattered, one leg pinned to the ground by a stake. She heard the frustrated sigh. "Dammit, don't be difficult, woman." The words bit out all too familiar and she looked up sharply, her thin features turning from deadpan to shock.
He stood before her, a dark shadow of her former ally. He had on the white trousers and combat boots of the others, but like his old espada uniform, his double breasted coat was short and hung open. It wasn't because they were respecting his personal flare for style, it was so everyone could see the scars on his body. They were still fresh, closed over but pink and painful looking. They'd lashed him all over his torso, she was sure his back was even worse by the way he was standing. He held his shoulders awkwardly, as if something was still really hurting. But his arms were the worst. Wrist, palms and forearms were gouged deep by long gashes, several, like an extreme suicide attempt. She continued to take him in, noticing no weapon, and even in her current condition, she could feel the change in his aura- something was missing, something essential to all beings.
"What did they do to your soul, to your zanpakuto? Grimmjow, what did they do to you?"
"I'm sure you'll find out soon enough." He grunted out, kicking her tray of cold food closer to her. "Eat."
"Grimmjow, do you know what they are doing?" He just stared at her dead eyed. "So that's it, then, you let them turn you?" but even she couldn't predict what such a rent in his aura could mean. He was so damaged he might not even remember their allegiance. For all she knew, the sixth espada was dead.
"They didn't turn me, they liberated me." he said evenly. "Now then, am I going to have to force you to eat?"
When she still made no move he sighed and bent down to pick up her tray. She gasped, seeing the wound at the base of his neck, this one still wasn't closed over, and from it ran a long line of scarred flesh, right up into his hair. He picked up some of her food and held it before her face.
"Last chance to do this civilized-like."
He met her golden lashed gaze and green eyes flared in anger for their captors, their torturers.
"Just tell me, Grimmjow, is there anything left inside of you?
41 Days ago
Nel woke when the hand clamped over her mouth. Her first instinct was to bite down until it let go but her teeth just started to sink in when she saw the white figures moving past, not far away and suddenly the trembling arms holding her painfully tight were her safety and she felt his aura covering her, holding back that constant outpouring of energy that escaped her cracked mask. They were in the shadow of dense trees, enough to conceal them from sight but if Grimmjow couldn't contain both their spiritual pressures, they would be found.
It was terrifying. The black masked soldiers swept through the forest in perfect formation, intending to cover every inch. More were moving their way, if they didn't move, they'd be caught but if they did, they risked being seen or heard.
Very carefully he took a step back, his whole body shaking, but he managed to remain silent and in shadow. He was searching for some escape, anything, but they were just being forced back further. They must have felt them here, if they were searching with such precision- Grimmjow couldn't even consider the alternative because that would simply mean they had the resources to search the entire Menos Forest in such detail.
Another step, they were moving much faster than him, he had to make a decsion.
"Halt!" The line of white men froze, so did Grimmjow. But no one seemed to be looking at him.
"They've found the zero espada," a voice reported, "Our strength is required."
"What about the other two?"
"They have less to offer."
There was no more discussion, the line of men vanished. Nel sagged in relief but felt no such relaxation in the body to which she was so tightly pinned. Grimmjow continued to stand in complete stillness and silence. Nel began to struggled but he squeezed her tighter and she stopped. She waited in his grasp, minutes slipping by, wondering what he could possibly be doing when a voice broke the silence.
"Damn, I thought that would bring him out." A white figure dropped from a tree, followed shortly by another.
"This place is more trouble than I thought it would be, we should have never let him get down here. He must be further ahead than we thought, call the others and regroup up ahead."
"Yes Sir." They both vanished. The arms around Nel slipped away and she felt, Grimmjow crashing to hands and knees above her.
"Grimmjow knew they would do that?"
But he was gasping, he'd fought so hard to keep both their spiritual pressures back when he really needed to concentrate on flushing the poison out of his body. She watch his features tighten in pain, blood not only dripping from his nose now but he was spitting it on the ground before him. His arms let got and he fell completely into the ground, his hands wrapping around his stomach and he fought not to let any noise escape him.
"Ah, Grimmjow is dying!" Nel whispered out in fright, some part of her knowing to keep things quiet. When he didn't respond to deny her proclamation and only fused his eyes shut with a look of agony on his features, she got more frantic. "Grimmjow cannot leave Nel! All of Nel's other friends are gone so Grimmjow cannot die!"
She pounded against his arm uselessly, and then changed tactics and wrapped her small arms around his neck, smothering his face in her shoulder. Instantly his hands reached up to her and pressed her tight against him and for an instant she thought he was hugging back but then she felt the vibrations in her body at the power of his screams and realized he was using her to muffle the agony he'd been forcing back. She stood firm, though his desperate fingers dug painfully into her body, because she could at least do this much for him.
"It's okay, Grimmjow, Nel is here."
572 Days ago.
"Dondochakka! Pesche! Brothers!" the hoarse cry fell on an empty desert under the domed artificial sky of Las Noches. "Where are you? Everyone left Nel!" She wailed, falling to her knees in the sand. Her sobs echoed off the broken pillars and empty land where not long ago Ichigo had been fighting madly with the espada. Now the Soul Reapers had come and gone and she still hadn't found her brothers. She could see stairs and other places but she knew from coming in here how confusing it was and she didn't know how to start searching for her lost friends.
"Why did everyone go?" She sobbed out again, staggering to her feet to continue her laborious search. She only made it a few feet, however, before she tripped on something in the sand and fell across a cold form.
"ACK! A dead body!" Nel pulled herself away at once, stumbling back a pace or two to take in the body. She recognized him at once. "You're espada six, Grimmjow! The one who tried to kill Itsigo!" She pointed at him accusingly but his eyes were just barely parting, and he wasn't moving at all. He was close to death.
"Serves you right for what you did!" She proclaimed to his inert form. He couldn't move or speak, he just stared at her. "Nel should just leave you here..." But she glanced around the barren land and shivered as if the loneliness she felt was a cold wind. "You deserve to die..." She saw the sand stained red all around him, terrible deep wounds in his abdomen and on one side. Flashes of the fifth espada crossed her mind and she thought she remembered herself fighting him but that didn't really make sense. Her memories of the battles were jumbled and she ended up sitting back in the sand, grabbing her masked head. "Nnoitra did this to you..." She heard herself say but when she snapped out of it the words held no meaning to her. She seemed to notice Grimmjow all over again.
"Do you know where Itsigo went? Or Nel's brothers? Do you know how to find them?"
He still couldn't answer.
"If Nel heals you will you help her?"
"Okay, Nel will help you but you have to help her too!"
39 Days ago.
Blue eyes snapped open but could see nothing past the cloth that covered them. Grimmjow felt cool dirt on one side and shifted slightly. When he did, he realized the cloth in front of him was part of a mass that seemed to be attached around his neck.
"Ah, Nel what are you doing?" He pried her off of him, sitting up, but feeling blood rush to his brain and he was forced to sit still while it passed. When the black cleared from his vision he shook his head and got the rest of the way up, stretching his sore body.
"Grimmjow is alive!" The tiny being that was just waking up herself screeched with glee. He remembered the excruciating pain that had struck him, burning in his stomach and lungs and pounding inside his skull, but it was gone now. He looked down at the kid.
"Did you do something?"
"Nel just stayed close so that maybe her spiritual pressure that Grimmjow always tells her to control could go into him." He considered this. It was possible that if she'd remained close to him her spiritual pressure could have mixed with his own and helped force the poison out of his body. He was grateful that this was the explanation since the last time she'd healed him had involved her puking a clear liquid all over him.
"Good thinking, kid, how long was I asleep?"
"A long time! Two days at least. But do you really meant it? You think Nel did something good?"
He just nodded, still checking himself over to make sure the poison was really gone, then he checked their surroundings. They were exactly where he'd collapsed.
"We should go."
"But if they already checked here, aren't we safe?"
"No. Once they come up with nothing they'll start over. Besides, they sprayed that poison or whatever down here, they could do it again and we'd be screwed."
"What was it?"
"I don't know, but there was a Soul Reaper captain who's zanpakuto did something like that. It could be something they made or it could just be one of their powers. Whatever it was, I don't want to experience it again, so let's go."
"Back to the surface?"
"No other choice. Hueco Mundo is big, we'll find somewhere to hide." His words dropped off darkly and he clenched his fist in anger.
"What is it?" Nel asked grabbing his pant leg in fear that the masked soldiers had returned.
"It's just wrong." Grimmjow said it more to himself as he often did around Nel as if she was his subconscious. "This is our home! How could they have us running for our lives like this in our own world? What the hell are they anyway?"
"The Vandenreich." Nel responded.
"That's what they called themselves."
"When you were in the palace?"
"And how did you break in again?"
"Nel just followed the way she and Ichigo went last time!"
"Ichigo, huh, that's right, he busted in on the opposite side of the main gate. So they didn't see you?"
"Well, Nel got scared when she found the soldiers and left before she got too far."
"This is good."
"Grimmjow isn't going back there!" She screamed, seeing his half smile.
"They took our home, Nel, and they took Halibel. They're setting up their base of operations in Las Noches, so no doubt they took Halibel back there to do God knows what to her in order to make an arrancar army. So that is where I intend to go. I'm sick of running."
Nel's fingers clenched in his hakama and he looked down at her. "You should hide, Nel."
"What! Nel doesn't want to leave Grimmjow!"
"Unless you want to revert back to your espada form, then you will only slow me down."
Her eyes watered in hurt and anger. "Nel told you she doesn't remember how! But Nel won't slow you down, promise!"
He sighed, a very familiar sound to her and she just clung to his leg tighter.
"Maybe you should go to the human world for a while. You can go find your old friend Ichigo." He tried but her face only turned into a deeper scowl. "You KNOW he can't see me!"
"Well you can see him and his friends should still be able to see you. I'll open the Garganta for you, come on."
"NO! Nel can open the Garganta too if she wants, she's not stupid, but scary Shinigami are there!"
"Well scary Vandenreich are here!"
"Then go to the human world with Nel!"
"No, I'm not running away."
"Then neither is Nel!"
"Brat, just do what I say!" He gave a shake of his leg but he knew by now that it would take alot more to get her to let go. Another sigh. "Okay, fine, I did my best to save you, but when they catch you don't expect me to help. I'm only interested in rescuing one of the third espadas."
"Okay!" She pulled back from his leg happily but didn't let go entirely, keeping a firm hand in his hakama in case he decided to sodino away and leave her behind.
"There." Grimmjow rose, lifting the now empty tray. "I hope you won't make it a habit to be force-fed every day, it's not very attractive."
Halibel spit the last gob of food that was in her mouth at him. His eyes narrowed. Her head flew to the side from his back hand and he stood up. "You're pathetic." He turned to the door.
He paused and looked back at her, blood now oozing from her lip. "What?"
"What happened to Nel?" His eyes widened before narrowing and she saw his hand clench around the metal tray. He said nothing, turning and slamming the door shut behind him. The smallest of smiles touched her swollen lips.
"So, they haven't erased you entirely, Grimmjow Jaggerjaques."
Thanks for reading! More will come soon!