Ichigo sighed, heading back home alone after school. Orihime had to go grocery shopping, Chad had something to do, and Ishida was probably hunting hallows again. Whatever. It wasn't like he needed someone with him.
That was when he spotted the cat laying on the sidewalk. It looked dead. Ichigo leaned down next to it. Looked it was banged up, but still alive. He snorted. Who ever heard of a blue cat?
But he didn't rise. The cat had more reitsu than he would expect. Not a ridiculous amount, but just a little more than usual. And there was something… familiar about it. After a few moments, he sighed.
Without further ado, he pulled the cat into his arms. It was a pretty big cat, about the size of a small dog. For a moment, Ichigo felt his throat constrict, and almost fell over. But it only lasted a moment. Then, looking around for anything out of place, he headed home, the tortoiseshell cat tucked into the crook of his arm.
When he got home, Yuzu was there to greet him.
"Welcome home, big brother!" she said. Ichigo smiled a little. Then she noticed the cat. "What's that?"
"Found him laying in the street. Thought I'd clean him up a bit," Ichigo said. Yuzu smiled brightly.
"Oh, okay!" she said, then rushed into the kitchen to finish dinner. Karin was already there, watching something on TV. Ichigo climbed the stairs and went into his room. He deposited the cat on his bed so he could change, and the animal stirred. It blinked a few times, then jumped up. Ichigo watched as it looked all around it, running in a circle even. Then it looked up at him. Ichigo blinked. The cat's eyes were as blue as its fur. Then the cat jumped from the bed, onto his desk and then to the top of his dresser. It looked at itself in the mirror there, staring intently.
"Well, you're lively, for looking dead ten minutes ago," Ichigo said. The cat glared at him over its shoulder. Ichigo ignored it, changing out of his uniform. The cat was admiring itself in the mirror a bit more, then turned and jumped down. It sat, staring at the teenager as if considering.
"Hollow! Hollow! Hollow!"
Ichigo sighed as his badge went off. He reached for it, but suddenly his body froze. His throat constricted once again, and, as an overwhelming feeling of disgust and pain washed through him, his knees gave out. Ichigo curled on his side, trying to block out whatever it was that was happening. The cat watched with interest now, unmoving. If he were able to breathe, Kurosaki would scream. It felt like his body was being twisted and squished, pulled into itself painfully.
Then, after minutes that felt more like hours, all the pain dissipated, and Ichigo could breath.
He lay on the ground, panting. He was too weak to move. He didn't even want to open his eyes.
"Hurts like a bitch, doesn't it?"
Ichigo tried to groan, but it came out as more of a mewl. He knew that voice. He cracked open his eyes.
The blue cat was standing over him, an absolutely feral grin on its face. Ichigo stared. How did a cat make that expression, anyways? The cat snorted, then moved out of his sight. Ichigo felt something prod his back, until he was laying on his stomach. He found keeping his eyes open becoming easier. Then the blue cat was in front of him again, sitting and staring. Ichigo looked up at it…
Then it hit him.
He jumped to his feet, but the blue cat was still taller than him. He looked down at himself. Instead of hands, he found little orange paws. He spun, trying to see the rest of himself.
"Is it really that hard to figure out?"
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Ichigo yelled. The other cat rolled his eyes.
"You're a cat," he said.
"What do you I'm a cat?" Ichigo yelled again, hissing at the blue cat. The other cat gave him a dead pan look. It stood, then clawed him on the top of the head. Ichigo jumped back with a yowl.
"You're a cat," the cat said. "Deal with it already."
"How am I supposed to calmly accept something like that?" Ichigo yelled.
"Che," the blue cat sat. "Stop being a fucking pussy already."
Ichigo stared. The blue cat glared.
"You have no idea what you just said, do you?"
"Wha… oh," the blue cat said. Then it giggle-snorted, grinning. It remained composed a moment, then burst out laughing. Ichigo sat, staring. Well, this guy looked like he was going to be very helpful. With a sigh, he jumped on his bed. He started pawing the Soul Reaper badge, hoping it would trigger something.
"That's not going to work," the other cat said, still grinning as it joined Ichigo on the bed.
"How would you know?" Kurosaki asked, but he sat anyway. The blue cat snorted.
"Can't you tell? Our reitsu has practically disappeared in this form," he said. Ichigo tilted his head.
"How does a cat know about reitsu?" he asked. The blue cat dead panned without losing its grin.
"Oh man, you haven't figured it out yet?" he asked. Ichigo narrowed his eyes. He rose, circling the other cat. The blue cat sat, watching with amusement as he was examined. After a moment, Ichigo sat in front of him. He and the blue cat held each other's gaze.
"I have no idea," Ichigo said.
"Che," the blue cat said, tilting his head arrogantly. "Let me give you a hint; even though it's annoying as hell, this form is actually pretty appropriate."
"…?" Ichigo's eyes widened in realization, and he jumped back, completely tense. "Grimmjow!"
"Took you long enough," Grimmjow said, laying down and yawning. Ichigo relaxed, feeling a little stupid. He padded over, and Grimmjow watched him lazily.
"What is this?" Ichigo asked. Grimmjow licked his paw, then started on his ear.
"Hell if I know," he said.
"Bullshit," Ichigo said. "You were a cat first, and you didn't seem all that surprised when I turned into one."
"Doesn't mean I know anything," Grimmjow said. Ichigo clawed at him, but he was up in a blur. Grimmjow bowled into him, and Ichigo hissed and bit his shoulder. Grimmjow yowled, clawing what he could reach. Ichigo let go of his bite, scratching instead, and Grimmow attacked in the same way. In the meantime, they tumbled off the bed to the floor. They jumped apart, glaring at each other. Then Grimmjow sighed, sitting.
"Look, all I know is some weird Arrancar chick did something to me that hurt like hell and when I woke up I was a cat and in your fucking room."
"…alright, fine, you don't know anything," Ichigo said, sitting. Grimmjow snorted, cleaning himself. Ichigo stared at nothing, thinking. He wasn't sure why he'd gotten pulled into whatever happened to Grimmjow, but he did know he didn't like it. Why the hell did he have to be pulled into this, anyways? It was the stupid Espada's fault; he probably did something to piss the chick off. Ichigo sighed, sitting.
But who could he ask about this? Urahara was probably his best bet. That guy would have a field day with this… and he was much better than Mayuri. Ichigo shuddered. Anything was better than Mayuri.
Ichigo flinched as a weight suddenly settled on his shoulders, forcing him to lay down.
"What the-" he started.
"Shut up," Grimmjow said. "You're thinking too loud."
"What?" Ichigo asked. Grimmjow sighed.
"Crash course on being a cat," he said. "When you think, it shows in your body language. You're too inexperienced to read it, but you're too inexperienced to hide it, too. So, you're thinking too loud."
"… are you just going to stay there?" Ichigo said. Grimmjow snorted, then grinned, thinking.
Ichigo jumped as a rough tongue licked him behind the ear.
"What the hell are you doing?" he asked, trying vainly too struggle away. Grimmjow just draped over him further.
"You're pretty scrawny, aren't you?" he said, continuing to groom Ichigo. Kurosaki hissed, finally managing to pull away. Grimmjow laughed at his expression.
"… this is going to be a long night…" Ichigo said. Then he jumped on the bed, and scratched at the side of the window. If he could just get it open…
"Yeah, that'll work," Grimmjow said, calming down. Ichigo ignored him. Then Grimmjow yowled, and Ichigo whipped around.
Kurosaki watched in horrified fascination as the blue cat writhed in pain, then began changing. He could hear sickening squelches and cracking as bones reformed themselves. It took all of about five minutes before it was over. Panting, Grimmjow rose to his feet. He was back to his original form. Looking up at Ichigo, he grinned.
"Hurts just as much changing back," he said. Then he took a step forward, and Ichigo suddenly had the thought to run. Grimmjow caught him before he got anywhere, picking him up by the scruff. Ichigo glared as the Espada held him in front of his face.
"Where do you think you're going?" Grimmjow asked. Ichigo glared, swiping at him. The Arrancar held him out further before the hit landed. He chuckled. "Is that anyway to treat the guy trying to help you?"
Ichigo yowled. Grimmjow sighed, grinning still.
"Can't understand you anymore," he said. Ichigo blinked in surprise as he was moved to Grimmjow's shoulder. He looked at the Espada, who mutely stepped on his futon and opened the window. "You were gonna head to Urahara Kisuke's place, right?"
Ichigo nodded, then dug into Grimmjow's shirt with his claws as the Arrancar jumped and ran down the street. He yowled in protest, but Grimmjow grinned, ignoring him. Suddenly, he stopped. Without thinking, Ichigo jumped to the ground. He turned to glare at Grimmjow, who just shrugged.
"This is the place, right?" he asked, pointing. Ichigo looked. They were in front of Urahara's shop. He looked at Grimmjow and tried to tell him, but what came out were cat noises. Grimmjow sighed. "I already told you I can't understand you anymore."
Ichigo sat indignantly, then nodded. With an eyeroll, Grimmjow stepped up and pounded on the door. After a few moments, Tessai came to the door.
"Sorry, sir, the shop is…" the big man trailed off as he noticed the hole in Grimmjow's stomach.
"Is the owner here?" Grimmjow asked, face impassive. Ichigo, deciding against waiting, zipped through the partially open door, running into the back of the shop to protests by Tessai. He passed by, using his limited powers to follow Urahara's reitsu to him.
The former shinigami was asleep. Ichigo looked at him a moment, then walked up and sat next to the futon.
Then he yowled as loud as he possibly could.
Urahara sat straight up, eyes wide and panicked as he looked around. Then he spied Ichigo. He stared blankly.
"A… cat…?" he asked.
Ichigo and Urahara looked to the door of the room, where Tessai was failing to hold Grimmjow back. Urahar blinked, then looked at Ichigo again.
"… Ichigo?" he asked. Kurosaki nodded. Urahara looked up to think. Then he looked at the door. "And you are…?"
"Grimmjow Jeagerjaques," the man said. "Recently turned into a cat, until about ten minutes ago."
"Ah… I see…" Urahara said. Then he grinned. "Well, I guess I'd better get to work then."
'Work' consisted of having Ichigo and Grimmjow wait for him in front of the store while he got dressed. Then he came and Tessai brought tea.
"So, what happened?" the former shinigami asked. Grimmjow sighed.
"Some chick showed up and did something to me that hurt like a bitch in heat and next thing I knew I was a cat," he said.
"Is that all?" Urahara asked.
"Yes," Grimmjow replied. Urahara sipped his tea behind his fan.
"Tell me the exact details," he said. Grimmjow flinched, the scratched the back of his head. With a sigh, he started his story.
"Would you help me?"
Grimmjow snorted. Some chick was standing in his way. She had these sickeningly sweet eyes, and silver hair tumbling down her back. Her mask was just a sliver of bone above her right eye, her hollow hole in her shoulder. Lately, the former Espada had been aimlessly wandering around Heuco Mundo, looking for entertainment. He hadn't found much. And now there was this chick from out of fucking nowhere, asking him if he would help her.
"… why the fuck not?" Grimmjow said, looking to the side. Maybe it would be entertaining.
"Oh, good," the Arrancar girl said, then flicked him in the chest.
Grimmjow's throat constricted, and he fell to one knee, eyes bulging. It felt like something had been torn out of him. Sweating, forcing his head up as if against a great weight, he tried to glare at the chick. But all he could manage was surprise.
She held in her hand a glowing ball of blue energy, different veins of color passing through it. The girl tutted.
"That's so sad! You're fated to never be with your true love! Isn't it sad?" she asked. Grimmjow tried to reply that he didn't give a fuck, but he still couldn't breathe. The Arrancar girl grinned ferally.
"Well then, since you would have been willing to help me, why don't I help you?" she said, moving her fingers around in the sphere. Grimmjow collapsed, feeling like she'd ripped right through him.
"Of course, I can't just make it so, you know? But I'll make it less certain, and I'll even help you along! I'll make it so you two need each other to survive, how's that?"
Grimmjow struggled to stay conscious. What the fuck was she doing? It felt like his body was changing; horrible, black and ugly. Like his insides were playing twister over tripwire on a needleboard while Syazel experimented on him.
"Don't worry, little kitty, it'll be over soon. I just need to… there! All done!"
Grimmjow fuzzily saw the chick poke him in the chest again, and all the pain ceased. He tried to get up, but knew he was more likely to pass out. Not good.
"Now, since you're fate's been tampered with, my curse will stay in place until it becomes clear again. So do well, okay?"
"Fuck you…" Grimmjow mumbled, passing into oblivion as the Arrancar chick laughed.
Ichigo and Urahara stared. Grimmjow glared back.
"What?" he asked.
"… well, it sounds like-"
"Don't fucking say it," Grimmjow said, crossing his arms. Urahara snorted, then couldn't help himself and fell into giggles. Ichigo looked at him, then stared back at Grimmjow. The Arrancar looked at him sidelong. "What?"
"Mrrow," Ichigo said, looking to the side.
"Che, whatever," Grimmjow said, looking away. "How long are you going to keep laughing?"
"Sorry," Urahara said, mastering himself. "Well, it sounds like there's nothing I can do."
"… you're kidding," Grimmjow said, glaring.
"Nope, fraid not~" Urahara said. "If this girl is messing with people's fate, there's nothing I can do about it. Unless you want to end up worse off, that is."
"Then how am I supposed to get back to normal?" Grimmjow asked, Ichigo yowling in unison. Urahara giggled, waving his hand.
"Well, it sounds like the solution is simple," he said, catching both their attention. He snapped his fan shut, pointing it at them. "You and Ichigo have to fall in love."
"… can I kill you…?" Grimmjow asked, glaring and somehow smiling at the same time. Ichigo opened his mouth to yowl something, but suddenly collapsed. Urahara blinked in surprise, but Grimmjow held up a hand to stop the man from moving forward. The two watched as Ichigo transformed from a cat back into a human.
"… fucking… hell…" Ichigo panted.
"Warned ya, didn't I?" Grimmjow asked.
"Shut up," Ichigo said, getting up to sit. Urahara was gawking.
"Astounding…" he breathed. "Simply astounding…"
"Are you sure there's nothing you can do?" Ichigo asked, looking directly at Urahara. The man flinched, then opened his fan again.
"There's really nothing," he said. Ichigo sighed, then nodded.
"Fine," he said. He looked at Grimmjow sidelong. The Arrancar met his gaze, then looked away. Ichigo looked away as well. Urahara looked between them, eyes calculating.
Then, behind his fan, he smiled.