~As always, I only own the plot. I don't own the series or characters so don't sue me.

Chapter Nine – Under Attack

Grimmjow was pulled from his deep state of sleep by the slightly rough rocking of his body. Cyan eyes wearily peered open angrily. The blunet prepared to give whoever woke him a nice verbal lashing. The threats died in throat the moment his sight landed on a rather serious looking brunet Espada.

"What is it Starrk?" he questioned as he sat up in his bed.

"The Shinigami have apparently made their move," the brunet replied, stepping away from the rousing Sexta. "They'll be at Las Noches doors in a short amount of time."

Just as Starrk exited the room, Grimmjow remembered the two children he had separated. A quick look through the darkness confirmed both children were asleep where he had left them. Resisting the urge to smile, he moved to each corner and placed them gently in the bed. He sure was getting soft thanks to the brat. Face shifting into a dark scowl, he snatched Pantera and made his way to the main hall to receive orders from Aizen.

The hall was unusually quiet as Aizen stared down at them from his throne. No one dared to speak merely waiting for the ex-captain to fill them in on the situation.

"The Shinigami are just a stone's throw away from Las Noches," he started, his expression calm yet serious. "They are most likely here to finish what they could not in the war. We may be short a few Espada, but we still outrank them in power." Standing, Aizen revealed his zanpakutou secured to his side. "Let's give them a greeting they shall never forget."

Large amber eyes slowly peeled open, blinking a few times at the first thing he saw. Nel was peering down at him, a wide grin on her chubby face. Sitting up, Ichigo cocked his head to the side.

"Grimmy went to pway wit da shinigami," she said, smile still in place. "Now we can pway with whatever we want."

This brought a smile to Ichigo's face. Leaping from the bed, the pair hurried out of the room and began to run happily down the halls, laughing loudly as they did so. It was hard to tell if they were playing tag or if they were just running around. It looked like they didn't even know exactly what they were doing. It wasn't long before they ran past a room that had an eerie pink glow to it. Nel stopped first, followed by Ichigo who was curious as to why she stopped.

Backtracking, the small arrancar peered around the doorway to see inside the room. Once Nel had determined that it was safe to enter, she walked into the large room. When she realized the orangette had yet to follow her, she stuck her head back out of the doorway and waved for him to follow. Ichigo quickly joined her in the room.

It was a relatively plain and bare room except for the pedestal in the center housing a very special stone. Said stone gave off a light pink glow. That is until Ichigo entered the room. The strength of the glow seemed to intensify slightly. Nel's eyes caught sight of this increase and turned to stare at her friend a bit in awe.

"Itsygo," she started, "The rock glows bwighter if you get closer."

The toddler cocked his head curiously to the side, blinking a couple times as he approached the pedestal. The glow did indeed increase in strength the closer he stood.

"Let's pway with it." Nel smiled brightly as she scaled the side of the stone pedestal in order to reach inside the container and grab the stone.

Something was off about the whole battle. Aizen stood back and watched the bloodshed before him. Yes, there was definitely something wrong. The shinigami outnumbered them, however they were hardly the strongest ones. Only Byakuya and Kenpachi were present captain wise. It were almost as if they were there as a distraction.

Brown eyes widening, he turned to the Sexta. "Grimmjow," he ordered, voice just loud enough to carry over the sounds of the battle.

The blunet stabbed the shinigami before using sonido to appear before the former captain. "What?" he growled unhappily.

"The shinigami have likely discovered Ichigo's absence and have come here to collect him," Aizen replied. "Hurry back inside and bring me the boy."

Gritting his teeth, Grimmjow sheathed Pantera and hurried off to find the orange haired toddler. He mentally prayed he was still sleeping on the bed in his room. However he was not surprised to find the bed empty upon arriving there.

"Why can't things be easy for once?"

Was it so much to ask that the toddler stay put in one place? Apparently so.

With a heavy sigh and a low curse, the blunet rushed through the halls of Las Noches determined to find Ichigo before the shinigami did. That is, if there were other shinigami actually inside the vast palace looking for the boy. He really wanted to get back to the fight so finding the brat as quickly as possible was his goal.

Grimmjow checked every Espada's bedroom, the main hall, and even the meeting hall, but the brat was nowhere in sight. If he didn't love his hair dearly he would have pulled it out in frustration. The Espada was running out of time.

"Come on brat where are you!?" he shouted before resuming his search once more.

This time he trekked down a different hall, one where Aizen, Ichimaru, and Tousen had slept in. It was a gamble, but they weren't anywhere else. If they weren't there in one of the three rooms, then he had already been nabbed by the shinigami.

Teeth gritted, Grimmjow thoroughly searched the first room, which happened to be Tousen's old room. He quite literally tore the room apart to ensure he wasn't missing either one. The first room being a bust he moved onto the second one quickly. When Ichimaru's room resulted in just another mess, he moved onto Aizen's room. The room itself was barren and looked untouched save for the disheveled sheets on the bed.

"Dammit," he cursed. It looked like the shinigami had gotten to him first after all. "Aizen's gonna be pissed."

Just as he turned to leave the room, he caught sight of an eerie pink glow. Moving toward the light, he spotted a hidden hall near Aizen's bed. Bursting through the opening, he quickly spotted Ichigo and Nel in the small barren room.

"Finally," Grimmjow breathed heavily. A wave of relief swept through him upon seeing the orange haired toddler still there. Turning to the small arrancar his expression turned serious. "Nel, stay put."

The girl saluted the blunet as he collected Ichigo under his arm.

"C'mon brat," he said before turning to exit the hidden room.

Wanting to get back to the fight, Grimmjow rushed quickly through the empty and silent halls. However when he peeked back in on the fight he was a bit shocked. Aizen and Ichimaru were nowhere to be seen, but the remaining Espada had been cornered.

"Where is Kurosaki Ichigo?" Byakuya questioned as he flower petals hovered threateningly in the air.

Hallibel, Starrk, and Ulquiorra remained silent, but Nnoitra couldn't resist snapping back. "Killed him," he said with a creepy smirk. "Not as strong as ya thought he was."

"Yer lyin'," Kenpachi retorted. "The kid's reiatsu wouldn't be all over ya if he were dead. It's fresh too."

The flowers seemed to close in around the group tighter. "I'll ask again. Where is Kurosaki Ichigo?"

"Shit!" Grimmjow breathed quietly. He had to get them out of there and fast. Turning tail, he ran as fast as he could away from Las Noches, determined to keep the shinigami taking what was rightfully his.

(A/N: I apologize for the super short and shitty chapter. I was really blocked on this one. Hopefully I get my mojo back soon. I hate continuously giving you guys crummy chapters.)

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