Request fic for Jin, who always drags me along on smoke breaks.
"Roll the dice, and you will win something you never imagined existed in this world." The tall, thin man wore the thinnest, most stretchy smile Grimmjow had ever seen. "Each number on these dice represent something that I own, taken from the ethereal world us sorcerers like to call Neverworld."
"Give me one reason why I should." The blue haired man replied with a hungry smirk of his own, staring the man of the circus in the eye while most would not dare.
The man straightened up with a frown – he had been leaning over the marble table with a sort of nasty, hungry anticipation – and adjusted the smart black jacket over his blood red collared shirt. In his right hand, which still remained outstretched toward the blue haired man, lay three little dice the color of molten gold. The little red dots in the middle of each cubist surface of the dice seemed to glow eerily in the light of the numerous candles littered around the spacious tent. Despite the light the wax sticks gave off, the darkness in the tent seemed to grow.
"Give me your name, boy."
Grimmjow wanted to scoff. Who was this man? A mere middle-aged stick thin guy who was probably working in the circus grounds because he knew no other trade than this thing he called 'magic'. Grimmjow was an adult; at twenty-two, he was a full five years past the legal age. He didn't hold an ounce of trust in magic. Only children believed in things like that.
"I'm far from a little boy." Grimmjow hissed, leaning in close to the magician of the circus with a predatory glare. "Call me Jeagerjacques."
The too wide, stretched thin smile returned. "Well then, Jeagerjacques. Why not try your hand at rolling these dice? Any adult would."
Grimmjow sat back in his red velvet cushioned seat, which had suddenly become too uncomfortable – most likely due to the suddenly overwhelming heat all the candles were giving off. Either that, or it was the magician's ability to read his mind.
The magician seemed to loom over him despite still being seated. His outstretched hand never once wavered. Grimmjow fought the urge to swallow a mouthful of saliva and inhaled a deep breath instead.
"If you insist." He raised an eyebrow at the thin, lanky magician and took the dice from his slender fingered hand.
Grimmjow shook the dice in his left hand and tossed them gently onto the velvet-covered table. He watched the magician purse his lips with an expression akin to quiet disapproval.
"Five and five and five." The magician said in his silky voice. "You are quite the skilled player, my boy."
"If you mean in board games like Monopoly, yeah." Grimmjow gave him a one-shoulder shrug and a half smile. "So, what do I win?"
"Fifteen." The man before him fingered the collar of his suede jacket and allowed his thin lips to stretch out into another wide smile, displaying sharp, neat rows of yellowed teeth.
"I can count." Grimmjow smiled back, baring his teeth in a more feral, predatory manner. "Always been excellent at arithmetic in school."
The magician stood up and held the hem of his long suede jacket with his right hand. Grimmjow noted that his left arm always remained hidden behind his back; like he had some deformity he wished to hide. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than the magician shot him a knowing grin, dark, mysterious eyes signaling that he could, in fact, read minds.
"What is it that you wish for?" The magician asked, though the way he said it seemed more like a statement than a question. "Is it riches? Fame?"
"I thought you could read minds." Grimmjow replied dryly.
The magician leaned over the table. Despite his coat lapels and rattling necklaces getting in the way, the fire of each candle on the table seemed to wave away from the man. He was suddenly too tall.
"Your mind is closed to me." The magician whispered, his voice smooth and oily. "Open it, and I will give you what you really want."
Grimmjow watched him fearlessly, keeping up the staring match where most others would have averted their eyes, defeated by the magician's mere overpowering aura.
"Then tell me how to open my mind." Grimmjow responded simply.
"Believe." The magician answered.
"Yeah, right. I can't just trust you completely."
"One little ounce of your belief is enough for me to weave the threads of connection."
Tamping down all thoughts of feeling and acting like a total silly sod getting entangled with a fake magician in the midst of a bustling circus when he really should be getting home for dinner, Grimmjow inhaled and exhaled deeply. He had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. He shut his eyes.
"Alright, let's make this quick."
Seconds passed, turning into minutes. Grimmjow could actually hear the sounds of the busy circus around them, outside the large tent, fading away as if a volume dial had been twisted to low, and finally, lowest.
"You are looking for something special."
Well, no shit, Grimmjow thought, but refrained from speaking. After all, the magician claimed to be reading his mind.
"A special someone."
Part of his mind scoffed, while the other part wanted to crawl under someplace dark and hide away. Grimmjow cleared his thoughts away with a clean sweep and tried to focus on figuring whether this magician was for real or just doing this so he could get paid by the end of the day.
"Someone to love."
Okay, this guy was definitely doing this for shits. Grimmjow wanted to open his eyes, but his eyelids didn't seem to want to obey him.
"To be loved back in return."
Grimmjow bit on the insides of his cheeks, a little harder than necessary. His brain registered the pain. He wasn't in some dream state, yet his eyes refused to open and his limbs would not move.
"I will grant you that special gift." The magician said, his voice raised at least two notches higher. "For believing in my abilities, however slightly, you will receive something to love."
Something? Not someone? Grimmjow felt a little rise in his heartbeat.
"Remember that in order to be loved, you must love in return."
The noise of the circus was slowly getting louder. Grimmjow found that he could move his arms and legs and breathe properly again. He opened his eyes.
The magician was no longer there.
The candles were all smoking, as if something – or someone – had blown them all out quietly. Light filtered in through a thin slit at the opening of the magician's tent.
"Where'd you go?" Grimmjow asked, and received no reply. "Sir?"
"Your gift is on the table. Take it and go. Our time here has ended." The voice was whispery, gravelly – not like the magician's silky tones at all.
Grimmjow looked down and blinked at the tiny orange box with a pale white ribbon tied around it on the table. Beneath the box lay a small, square white envelope. There didn't seem to be anyone else in the room, so Grimmjow shrugged his shoulders and picked up the items on the table.
Once outside, Grimmjow ran a hand through his hair and recounted his weird experience as he looked around the rest of the circus. It was busy, filled with people – parents, grandparents, children, teenagers, and couples. There were some who walked alone, just like him, but they all seemed eager, excited, happy. His stomach growled, voicing its hunger for the snack food sold at the vendor shacks. Grimmjow looked down at the box in his hand and chewed on his lower lip.
He would open it when he got home.
For now, he would enjoy the rest of the circus.
The second he'd gotten home, Grimmjow collapsed on the sofa and whipped out his phone to answer all his texts. The drive home had been short, but he had refrained from texting or answering calls; the road had been slippery during the heavy rain earlier, and it had been a little hard to navigate.
He heaved a yawn and tossed his phone onto the coffee table beside his arm. Reaching into his pockets, he grabbed his car keys, house keys and the tiny gift box with its envelope, where they promptly met the same fate as his phone.
"I need a shower." Grimmjow muttered, feeling laziness creep up on him.
He draped an arm over his eyes and sighed. The day had been a little exhausting. It was Sunday, the last day of the weekend, which meant tomorrow was back to work. Grimmjow mulled over the happenings of his weekend. Saturday, he'd gone grocery shopping, cleaned his apartment, finished three tubs of mint ice cream, readied all the visuals he needed to bring back to work on Monday, and played basketball with his best friends from work in the evening. A pretty good day.
Today, on the way back from the convenience store, Grimmjow had found a flyer stuck to a lamppost on a sidewalk. It was advertising the last day for the mysterious Cirque du Soleil in the city area.
On a whim, he had cancelled all prior engagements and just up and left for the circus. None of his previous appointments were urgent, anyway.
He'd visited three shows, a fire-breathing one, an acrobatic one, and a romance play where every actor had black and white paint on their faces. Finally, he'd gotten round to the magician's tent in the heart of the circus.
Right, the magician!
Grimmjow sat up quickly and grabbed his gift box. It was a little squished; the edge of the box was a little scuffed and folded from being in his jeans pocket for too long, but it looked okay. Grimmjow eyed the envelope beside it and decided to read it first. He suspected there was nothing but chocolates or sweets in the box; a parting gift from the – somewhat – fake magician of the circus. The guy had been a little too forceful with his so-called magic, but Grimmjow guessed that was just part of his show.
He flipped the opening of the envelope and tugged out a black cardboard-like paper that had silvery writing on it.
"Honored Customer, Grimmjow Jeagerjacques." Grimmjow read aloud. "How the hell did he know my name?"
Thank you for taking the time to participate in the magician's circus, yadda yadda. We hope you enjoy your gift, treat it carefully and wisely, blah blah.
Yanking the ribbon away, Grimmjow tore open the top of the box and breathed in sharply.
There was a tiny figurine inside.
He had spiky brown hair and was naked save for a small necklace dangling down his chest. It looked so real.
Grimmjow rolled his eyes and blew out a breath of air. Obviously, he shouldn't have trusted what the magician had said. Someone to love? Oh please. Like a tiny doll could even be counted on for a relationship. Shaking the box, Grimmjow watched the doll inside hit the corners of the cardboard every which way he tossed it. With a sigh, he thought about what the magician had told him before he'd opened his eyes in the darkened tent.
"In order to be loved, you must love in return."
Grimmjow mulled over the possibility of the circus magician spewing complete bullshit. Those words were nothing but words, anyway. No reason why he should be feeling so down about everything in his life.
"Well, fuck it."
He reached into the small box with thumb and finger, plucking out the figurine from its soft ribbon wraps. He brought it close to his lips and gave its body the tiniest of kisses before placing it on his chest. Heaving a wide yawn, Grimmjow tucked a couch cushion under his head and punched it a little to make himself comfortable. He figured he needed a short nap if he wanted to head out for an early dinner at The Thyme with his best friend later.
Moon river, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style someday.
Grimmjow frowned in his sleep. He knew that song.
Oh dream maker, you heart breaker, wherever you're going, I'm going your way.
Flashes of his sleep induced dream were specked with notes of the song. Colors faded into grayscale and burned holes in his eyes as they zipped past his line of vision, slipping away into blackness that woke him up to his phone ringing.
He reached out for his coffee table with one hand, feeling around clumsily with his eyes still stubbornly shut. Flicking his smartphone expertly, he held it to his ear and heard a sort of soft angry quacking coming from somewhere around the lower part of his left cheek. He flipped his phone around and managed to catch a few snippets of whatever the person on the other end of the line was saying.
"- left forty minutes ago."
"Mmm?" Grimmjow managed.
His throat felt dry, but he was too lazy to roll off the couch and walk the eleven steps it would take to his kitchen for an ice cold beer.
"You've been asleep all this while, haven't you?"
"Mmm." Grimmjow replied intelligently.
There was a sigh at the end of the line. "Look, I'm waiting at Music Escalade four blocks from the cafe. When do you want to meet so -"
Grimmjow rubbed at his eyes and checked the large round faced clock suspended on the wall above his flat screen TV and a potted plant. It was seven thirty. He was supposed to meet Stark at six. He hadn't realized he'd been so wiped out from walking around exploring the circus. His hand traveled to his chest where he felt the urge to scratch an itchy spot under his dark gray sweater.
His fingers nudged and closed around something tiny and warm and wriggly.
Grimmjow sat up half-heartedly, wondering if he'd spilled something on himself before he'd dozed off. Stark was still saying something on the phone, but he wasn't listening. In his palm, cradled between three fingers and his thumb, gripping the fabric of his sweater, was the little figurine. Only it wasn't frozen solid anymore, and had lost its waxy sheen.
It was alive.
Grimmjow felt his phone drop to the carpet of his floor, but his brain failed to register anything but the fact that the doll was moving around on his sweater-clad chest. It seemed to be raining again outside, a trickling drizzle soon giving way to heavy downpour, the water droplets clattering heavily on all exposed surfaces available. Grimmjow watched the small figurine shiver.
"What the hell are you?" Grimmjow rasped, sitting up and grabbing the little doll from around the stomach down.
There was the tiniest of wheezes, and the little guy coughed. "You're hurting me!"
Grimmjow loosened his grip considerably. The doll-sized guy dropped to his lap with a small cry. He looked pained, and was clutching at his left arm. Grimmjow felt a thin spike of regret at wounding the poor creature.
"I'm sorry." He said, holding out a hand for the tiny guy to crawl onto. "You're so small. Like, access card sized. You're about as tall as an average girl's palm. And that's excluding the fingers."
The little man held onto his pinky finger as he was lifted up, turning his face away from Grimmjow's as haughtily as he could manage. "I know I'm small. No need to be a jerk about it."
"Are you a fairy?" Grimmjow stroked at the little creature's chest. "You're so cute."
"Not a fairy." The little guy pouted. "A micro human."
Grimmjow stared. A micro what? This thing was far from human.
"Are you for real?" Grimmjow poked at the creature's chest experimentally with one nail.
"S-Stop!" The tiny guy cried out, his expression looked pained. "It hurts!"
Grimmjow apologized again. "Seriously though, am I dreaming? Are you really, well, real?"
"Are you blind?" The little guy glared. "Of course I'm real!"
Was this really happening?
"Where did you come from?" Grimmjow stared at the little guy with unbridled curiosity.
"The cardboard box, obviously."
"That's bull; you have to come from somewhere before that old magician stuffed you in the box."
"I don't know." The tiny guy shrugged, looking about as lost as Grimmjow felt. "I just know I woke up here on your chest. You were the first warm thing I felt. And then you woke up and grabbed me."
Grimmjow raised both eyebrows. "Are you saying you were born from the box?"
"I don't know where I'm from or how I got here, okay?" The little guy growled, giving him an irritated scowl.
A sudden loud blare made him jump, startling the little creature as well when he heard his phone ring again, vibrating on one of the magazines he kept under his coffee table. The tiny guy clamped two hands around his ears, squinching his eyes shut. Apparently he couldn't stand loud blaring noises. Quite like hamsters. Hurriedly, Grimmjow swiped up his phone and scanned the screen. He pressed reject on Stark's call and scooped up the little guy. He could afford a little of his best friend's anger if only for a short while.
"So you have some sort of amnesia?" Grimmjow pressed.
The little guy heaved a little guy sigh. "I woke up from being frozen solid when you . . . when you kissed me."
Grimmjow's eyes widened as he watched the small guy turn a little pink. He was so adorable. So he'd turned 'real' and become alive when Grimmjow had kissed him earlier?
"What's your name?" He noticed the creature trying to hide his nether regions with both hands now.
Grimmjow chuckled. "What happened to your clothes?"
The tiny guy blushed crimson, like the color of a ripe strawberry. "Don't have any."
"Well, let's fix that then." Grimmjow smirked, lifting Ichigo up and heading to his bedroom. "Let's see what I have that's tiny enough for you."
"I seriously doubt you'll have anything." Ichigo crossed his arms and turned away from Grimmjow. "You're a giant."
Trying valiantly to hide his smirk, Grimmjow deposited Ichigo onto a clean ashtray and told him to stay put while he rummaged around in his minimalist wardrobe for something that would fit Ichigo. He came up with an old tie he rarely used - it had been a gift from some girl he'd met in college but totally forgotten about after graduation because she wasn't important enough to be remembered - and a pair of socks with holes around the heels and toes.
"I'm not wearing those!" Ichigo scoffed.
"Do you have a choice?"
Pouting from his spot in the ashtray, Ichigo turned away from Grimmjow and sighed.
"I suppose not."
The tiny guy's voice was low and deep enough to be masculine, and easy on the ears; not at all grating and shrill like the ones Grimmjow was accustomed to in game play. Dropping his old scraps of clothing, Grimmjow walked closer and shot Ichigo a grin.
"It's fine, I'll just tear off a bit of the cardboard from the box I came out from."
"I got a better idea."
Grimmjow held out a hand so Ichigo could clamber from the ashtray to his palm. He looked away politely as the little guy made himself comfortable between three of his fingers and covered his privates with one hand, the other gripping a fold of Grimmjow's skin. Making sure to move slowly, Grimmjow headed out from his bedroom to his den, where he promptly slid his leather jacket on - with a bit of difficulty; it was tough navigating through the sleeves while holding Ichigo - and grabbed his keys.
"Where are we going?" Ichigo looked up at him, shivering as a breeze blew in from the window that Grimmjow always kept ajar in his living room.
"Sorry, you must be really cold." Grimmjow tugged a paper towel from his kitchen dispenser and wrapped a few thin strips around Ichigo. "There, that should work till I can get you clothes that fit."
As he walked to the door, he pulled a handkerchief from his jeans pocket and tucked it around Ichigo, who gave him a grateful smile. Unable to resist, Grimmjow ducked down and brushed his lips over Ichigo's - though their size difference was vast, he ended up kissing part of Ichigo's chest as well. It was worth it, Grimmjow decided as he watched Ichigo turn several different shades of red.
Twelve minutes later, Grimmjow cradled Ichigo against his chest and braved the large mass of people crowding out of the public train station, joining their flow as they spilled out of the exits into the city streets. Sneakers crunching damp gravel on the tar road beneath his feet, Grimmjow looked down every few minutes to check if his little friend was okay. With one hand, he texted Stark to tell him something had come up and he'd make everything up to his best friend the next weekend. It was a little white lie, but Ichigo was suddenly more important. Grimmjow hadn't the foggiest notion as to why he was hyped up about getting clothes for this little guy who had popped up in his life abruptly thanks to a short trip to the circus in town.
The security guard at the double sliding doors stopped Grimmjow in his tracks with a wave of his shiny black baton and eyed his hand with a suspicious stare.
"What do you have there, sir?" He tipped his hat back and looked Grimmjow in the eye as he asked him point-blank.
"A handkerchief." Grimmjow said before faking a sneeze, making it as real as he could. "And some sinus tablets."
The guard nodded understandingly. "Ah, all's well then sir. Can't be too careful, see. Had a nasty group of teenagers in here earlier carting filled water guns. Horridious youth, that."
"Yes, quite." Grimmjow nodded as he edged away surreptitiously, having already located the nearest escalator that would lead him to the children's department store.
"What is this place?" Ichigo piped up from his palm.
"It's a mall."
"It's freezing." Ichigo shivered and nestled closer into Grimmjow's somewhat sweaty hand. "But you're not."
Grimmjow failed to resist the overwhelming urge to bring Ichigo up to his face and plant a chaste kiss on the tiny guy's body. Barely an hour spent with this little creature and he was already in love. He reveled in the idea of making Ichigo turn pink all over, quivering with embarrassment as he blushed.
This was unsafe territory for his thoughts to travel to!
Kicking his mind out of the gutter, Grimmjow cleared his throat and ducked past an elderly couple holding hands with their grandkid. He had no clue why he was feeling so jittery and careful around this little guy, but he was sure the possessive feelings he felt were centered on Ichigo's well being. Locating the toy section for kids was easier than carefully dodging past other shoppers and their squealing children. Grimmjow felt like half a ninja and less like a paranoid man in his early twenties by the time he reached his destination - a tall white shelf stacked to the brim with a large variety of Barbie dolls and their accessories.
"You're tinier than these Barbies." Grimmjow said to Ichigo, who merely shrugged in reply. "Let's find you a smaller sized doll with a clothes set."
He found a Victorian dollhouse on display, seated on a standalone shelf. There were two glossy plastic dolls, a man dressed in a cloth tuxedo and a woman in a wedding dress. Grimmjow set Ichigo down beside the house and helped him choose his clothing sets. They spent a good half hour riffling and rummaging through several boxes of clothing options. There were a few families whose kids regarded Grimmjow with a there's-a-weird-guy-talking-to-those-dollhouses-over-there and parents who responded to their offspring with looks that clearly stated don't-go-near-that-guy-or-you'll-catch-it-dear. Grimmjow was pleased to find that he didn't give a damn.
Lifting Ichigo up so he could climb into his jacket pocket, Grimmjow brought the handfuls of clothing and accessories into a small shopping basket and grabbed a lovely little dollhouse off the nearest shelf. It was made of lightly glossed wood and plastic and even had thin sheets of Perspex glass for windows. Ichigo was a tad larger than the dolls that were made to fit inside of the house, but Grimmjow figured if he could fit in the bed and utilize the rest of the facilities everything was golden. He strode over to the cashier and paid for the items, ignoring the whispered accusations that he was slightly round the bend.
Ducking into the public restroom, Grimmjow spread out his purchases on the polished marble ledge above the toilet. He placed Ichigo on a little bed of tissue and allowed him to try on the new clothing he'd bought for him.
"You look like a mini version of me." He chuckled at Ichigo, who grinned up at him.
The little guy was decked in a faux leather jacket, plain black tee and a pair of gray jeans, much like the outfit Grimmjow was wearing. He looked more than a little adorable.
"Such a short time and I already can't help loving you."
Grimmjow covered his mouth as a snicker threatened to sneak out. Ichigo's little face was turning pink slowly, like a sort of ripening tomato. He was going to have so much fun with this little guy.
Yeah! Haven't written fluff in a while. Totally beginning to feel out of touch. Batman cookies for reviewers!