~As always, I only own the plot. I don't own the series or characters so don't sue me.
Chapter Four - Ichigo Be Nimble, Ichigo Be Quick, Ichigo Jump Over the Nnoitra Stick!
Nnoitra's crescent shaped sword swung through the air, posed to slice his small target in half. The Espada's one good eye widened as he watched the small orangette dive between his legs at the very last second causing his weapon to collide roughly with the tiled floor. A muttered curse escaped his lips as a small shockwave was sent up his arm. Turning, he quickly spots the child dashing off down the hall. Giving a firm tug to his weapon, he pulled it free and turned to give chase.
"Get back here!" he hollered.
Ichigo looked over his shoulder, his amber eyes as wide as possible and filled with fear. Nnoitra smirked upon seeing such a scared look before hurling his weapon at the child. The tiny shinigami jumped, his timing perfect, narrowly missing the strike that would have surely been his end. Smirk disappearing, Nnoitra tugs the chain, pulling his weapon back. The Espada clicked his tongue against his teeth as he watched the boy dash down a joining hall.
Stepping quickly with a sonido, Nnoitra caught up instantly, quickly snatching Ichigo by the back of his shirt before he could get too far. The boy gave a loud scream as the lanky arrancar smiled widely as he turned the child to look him in the face. Opening his mouth, Nnoitra stuck out his tongue, preparing to do his trademark cero. However, before he could charge it up, Ichigo his tongue firmly and yanked as hard as he could. Eye widening, Nnoitra shook the child in his hold roughly for a moment before Ichigo finally released his hold on the appendage.
The Espada pulled his tongue back into his mouth for a moment before attempting the cero again. This time however, Ichigo poked Nnoitra's one good eye causing him to jerk his head back and curse as he dropped the child. The moment Ichigo's feet touch the floor, he's running at top speed down the hall. Instead of a scream however, he lets loose a loud squeal.
"He's enjoyin' this!" Nnoitra growled as he blinked his eye a few times to rid it of the stinging sensation. A second later and he's back to chasing the brat, weapon at the ready.
Throughout the halls swearing and laughter can be heard echoing loudly. Just when Nnoitra thought he had the upper hand, Ichigo easily turned it around. The chase became a bit more difficult as the child began to use shunpo to run even faster. The Espada had a rather difficult time keeping up.
Finally the two began to quickly approach the large doors leading out of Las Noches. In a last ditch effort to stop the boy, Nnoitra hurled his weapon a good distance ahead of the brat. After all, he couldn't exactly let him leave... Alive anyway. With a big burst of dust and small rubble, the weapon imbedded itself into the wall. Nnoitra continued to run toward the spot his weapon landed and smirked upon seeing the brat's hakama caught on the blade, pinning him to the wall.
Ichigo yanked a few times, unable to free the material before turning to look at the Espada heading toward him. His chaser was getting too close, and the child wasn't yet ready to quit the game. Grabbing the fabric once more, Ichigo began to tug much harder. This time he's much more successful as the sound of ripping fabric echoes softly. Once freed, the orange haired toddler fell backward onto his behind. Nnoitra's smirk disappeared and his loud growl filled the hall.
"Yer not gettin' away!" he shouted as he gave a harsh jerk to the chain of his weapon, dislodging it from the wall and hurling it toward himself. Much to the Espada's horror, he miscalculated his weapon's trajectory as he had continued to rush toward the boy. Instead of the handle falling into his hand as it should have, it collided firmly with his face. "Fuuu-" was all he managed to get out before it was lights out for the Quinto.
Ichigo blinked a few times as he watched the tall lanky man fall to the cold tiled floor. Standing, the child moved over to the unconscious arrancar and poked his cheek a few times. Receiving no response, he climbed onto the man's back, pushing his shoulders a few times in an attempt to rouse him. This too failed, so Ichigo was forced to use his last idea. Standing on Nnoitra's back, the child bent his knees before kicking off, only to land in the same spot. A rush of air passed between the raven haired Espada's lips, but there were no other signs of life.
"Up Buggy! Up!" Ichigo demanded as he continued to jump on the unconscious arrancar's back. "Play!"
Just when the tiny shinigami thought he was finally making progress, he stopped upon feeling as if he were being watched. He didn't even get the opportunity to turn and check before a yelp escaped him as he was grabbed harshly by the back of his collar.
The harsh clang of metal striking metal resounded in the small room that contained both Grimmjow and Ulquiorra. Unable to think of an escape plan, Grimmjow had merely resorted to fighting, hoping to gain the upper hand. He still had the tiny device that could be used as a temporary prison. If only he could get close enough to the Cuarto to use it.
"This is foolish," Ulquiorra spat, his voice even and monotonous even as he did so.
"Tch, you're just saying that because you're worried I'll beat you!"
Grimmjow suddenly wished he hadn't taunted the other Espada as he found himself blasted by a quick cero. It wasn't strong enough to damage his hierro, but it caught him off guard and knocked him off balance. Ulquiorra took advantage of this and charged toward the blunet, katana at the ready. A piercing scream cut through the tension in the room causing both to stop fighting and turn in the general direction of the scream.
"It's the brat," Grimmjow growled. He recognized it instantly. And it wasn't one of his happy squeals either, it was a scream of pure terror.
Sheathing his sword, he tore out of the room, Ulquiorra hot on his heels. The two scanned the halls searching for the owner of the scream, but coming up empty handed. For a moment, Grimmjow could have sworn he heard a squeal quickly followed by laughter, but it was faint. It could have easily been his mind trying to provide him with something to ease his worry about the orange headed shinigami. The two turned down another hall and halted as they spotted Nnoitra sprawled out cold on the floor.
Hurrying over to him, Grimmjow gave a harsh kick to the Espada's side. "Hey! Get your ass up!"
Grunting from the kick, Nnoitra seemingly stirred. Climbing to his feet, he clutched his head and shook it slightly trying to get his bearings back. "What?" he growled as he stood to his full height, a glare aimed down at the blunet.
"Where's the shinigami brat?"
"Fuck you," the Quinto spat before continuing to mumble to himself as he collected his weapon and stormed off.
"Dammit Nnoitra!" Grimmjow swore. "What did you-"
Ulquiorra cut him off with a firm hand on his shoulder. "The shinigami is fine. I can still sense his reiatsu." Removing his hand from the arrancar's shoulder, the raven haired Espada shoved his hands into his pockets and walked down the hall, following the toddler's unique energy.
Blue orbs widened ever so slightly. It was almost as if Ulquiorra were comforting him. Which was rather odd considering the hollow kept to himself and only ever really listened to Aizen. Thrusting his hands into his pockets as well, he began to follow the higher ranked Espada. Silence surrounded the two as the seemingly backtracked to the wing dedicated to the Espada's living quarters. They passed by Ulquiorra's room and began heading toward the hall that the top three Espada resided in.
Suddenly, Ulquiorra stopped right in front of the first door they came across. Raising an eyebrow, blue eyes stared at the Cuarto.
"It's where his reiatsu is strongest," the Espada shrugged.
Grimmjow held his breath unknowingly as the raven haired arrancar grabbed the door handle firmly before slowly twisting it. Shifting his weight slightly, he swung the door open and stepped inside, followed closely by the blunet. The sight that greeted blue eyes forced him to smile slightly while shaking his head.
There Ichigo was, on the floor, bounded tightly by a blanket and some rope, rolling happily around the floor. Hallibel sat on the couch, content with watching the ridiculous child. A sigh escaped Grimmjow causing the small orangette to gaze in wonderment in general direction of the noise. Grimmjow could feel his chest tighten as he watched that look of curiosity change into the most delighted and happy look he had seen on the child thus far.
"Kitty!" Ichigo squealed.
Hallibel couldn't refrain from chuckling at this. Blue eyes glared darkly at her as she spoke. "I apologize, but the nickname is rather suiting of you."
"Why is he tied up?" Ulquiorra interjected, preventing the blunet from attacking the blonde.
"I figured he would be much less destructive confined like this. After all, he somehow knocked Nnoitra unconscious."
The room instantly filled with a booming laugh as Grimmjow threw his head back and let loose. He would never let that bastard live this down. Ichigo joined in with the laughter, but obviously oblivious as to why the big kitty was laughing. It took a moment, but the blunet finally calmed down. His gaze returned to the child on the floor, who had resumed to rolling around in his binding.
Ichigo stopped and turned to look at Hallibel. "Fishy let Berry go?"
Hallibel flushed faintly at the nickname as was rewarded with more laughter from Grimmjow. She quickly put an end to it by throwing a hot cup of tea at the Sexta's face. Turning her attention away from the now spazzing Espada, she quickly untied the small shinigami. Before the toddler could dash toward his favorite play mate, the door opened to reveal a rather weary looking Gin.
His face relaxed slightly upon seeing the child. "Oh there you are." Stepping into the room, the silver haired ex-captain moved to collect the child.
"No!" Ichigo shouted, shaking his head furiously as he backed away from the shinigami.
"I don't like this arrangement any better than you," Gin sighed as he rushed to snag the orangette before he could run off.
The moment he placed his hands on the now crying boy's shoulders, he felt an immense reiatsu filling the room. Peeking one icy silver eye open, he turned his head slowly to see Grimmjow growling softly at him. A soft chuckle forced his other eye open as he snapped his head toward the source.
"Hallibel?" he questioned.
"I suggest you back away," the blonde responded, her voice filled with amusement. "That is, unless you enjoy the idea of your arms being ripped from your body."
Sighing heavily, the silver haired man lowered his arms and backed away from Ichigo, watching as the child ran straight toward the blunet, clinging tightly to his leg. Grimmjow's reiatsu immediately reeled in and his scowl disappeared to be replaced with a momentary smile.
Standing to his full height, Gin watched the pair before he finally spoke. "What's really going on between you two?"
"Not a damn thing," Grimmjow snapped back glaring at Aizen's underling, to which Hallibel chuckled once more. His glare shifted to her. "What the hell is so funny to you?"
"I'm surprised you haven't realized it yourself," she answered.
"If you could please explain what you find so amusing about this situation, I would greatly appreciate it." Gin seemingly begged of the Espada woman. He was at his wit's end with the child and Aizen would definitely disapprove of the relationship the Sexta and shinigami had seemingly formed in a short amount of time.
"Grimmjow is a feline type and felines are incredibly possessive over what they believe to be theirs," the blonde started as she moved to seat herself back onto her couch. Crossing her arms, she allowed the data to sink in before continuing. "Kurosaki is Grimmjow's adversary, his rival. I assume he feels he is the only one permitted to end the shinigami's life. I also assume this possessiveness extended to his new much younger form."
"Wouldn't he have just killed the child then?" Ulquiorra chimed in, thoroughly confused as to why that seemed to explain everything.
"No," Hallibel said. "Felines are also protective over their young. I'm not sure why, but his instincts seem to be under the belief Kurosaki is his young and he's treating him as such."
"The hell I am," snapped Grimmjow. "I'm just getting him healed up so we can finish our fight."
"In any case, we should inform Aizen of this before making any sort of decision on the matter." Gin headed for the door, knowing that the three Espada's and Ichigo would follow.
Ulquiorra exited the room first, following quickly by a quite pleased looking Hallibel. Just as Grimmjow turned to follow, he felt a harsh tugging on his hakama. Looking down, his eyes connected with beautiful amber orbs.
"Up Kitty!" Ichigo demanded.
Grimmjow let out a puff of air before a soft smile appeared on his face. "Just this once," he relented.
Crouching down he allowed the child to climb up his back and situate himself behind his head. Two little legs peeked out from either side of the Espada's neck, as his hand held two fistfuls of spiky blue hair gently. Slowly getting to his feet, Grimmjow exited the room and headed for the meeting hall; hoping Aizen wouldn't separate them again.
A/N: Woo~ An update! Just so you guys know, I have the next couple of chapters outlined! Yeah I'm finally doing it like I've been saying I should for a long time now. XD As some of you may know, I am working on my very first novel (Yay!) and am going to be focusing on that more than my fics. I will update one fic every other week, most likely on a Monday. For now, the updates will be for this fic, but when I have others prepared for an update, I will let the reviewers choose. Basically what Vaerin7 does with her fics. It seems to work for her, so why not me? ^.^ As always, if you read it, please review it!
Thank you for all the reviews/faves/follows! They mean the world to me! ^.^