Summary: A collection of five spooky, scary, and sexy, and even fluffy Halloween ficlets. GrimmIchi, ShiroIchi, and GrimmShiroIchi. Co-authored with IstariaDragon.
Warnings: AU, yaoi, polyamory, language, violence, blood, occult/spiritual themes, and some sexual content. Also contains spin-offs to 'To Die For' and 'Kisota.'
Disclaimer: We do not own Bleach or any of its characters.
By: caribouandcake and Istaria Dragon
Table of Contents
Wicked Tricks and Sweet Treats: Grimmjow, a demon, has one night a year to roam the earth so where does he spend it? Well a strip club, of course, and he finds one dancer in particular more intriguing than he'd expected. GrimmIchi.
Chocolate Kisses: A short scene on how much Grimmjow loves halloween, and candy. Fluff, chocolate, and very slight smut. GrimmIchi.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Kayah Kurosaki: A spin-off to Kisota. A glimpse into the life of Ichigo, Grimmjow, and their six-year old daughter, Kayah, as they celebrate Halloween on the reservation. GrimmIchi. Mpreg.
To Live For?: An alternate ending to the amazing fanfiction 'To Die For' by Caribouandcake. Fluff, drama, and Grimm/ShiroIchi.
Working Holiday: Hunters of the supernatural spooks you thought were only in scary bedtime stories, the three lovers Grimmjow, Shiro, and Ichigo see Halloween as nothing but work. Ghosts, exorcisms, and near death experiences? It's just another night on the job. Inspired by the television series Supernatural. GrimmShiroIchi.
Wicked Tricks and Sweet Treats
Holidays always mean different things to different people, all of which have different customs, different beliefs, and different ways to celebrate the marked day. Perhaps tonight all over America you would find children dressing up as little ghosts and witches and vampires and adults also in costume, this time as the Crow and sexy nurses and plugs and sockets. Couples old and young would be handing out bite-size candies and caramel apples to their neighbor's children and cooing how cute they all were toddling around with their plastic pumpkins and cauldrons full of sweets. It's all so adorably droll.
However, in this city, Halloween wasn't known for such G-rated fun, oh no. This was the place to indulge in every last one of your deepest darkest desires, whether that be found at the bottom of a shot glass or in between two shapely fishnet stockinged legs. This was the place that mixed European charm and Southern hospitality with sex and booze and sin all around. This was, as the locals say, the city that care forgot. Or more commonly known as New Orleans.
Throngs of lustful hordes were already crowding the streets of the Quarter, eager to begin their night of gluttonous decadence, and those unlucky enough to be staffing the bars, clubs, or other such establishments were busy preparing in any way they could for when they opened their doors to the people storming the buildings that would make any angry medieval mob proud (some of them even had pitchforks.) Neon signs were flickering on in the dusky twilight, the last reddish rays of sunlight disappearing beyond the horizon as night fell across the city.
Two stories above the bustling streets of the historic nightlife district, a lone orangette looked out over the Quarter through a small, shuttered window. He was beautiful, in that phenomenal, ethereal way that surpasses anything earthly, with a tousled mane of vibrant honey sunset hair falling to his shoulders, flawless peachy skin covering his perfect, lithe figure, and the kind of big brown eyes they write songs about. At first glance he appeared content but on closer inspection one could see the slight furrow of his thin, tangerine brows and how his petal soft lips were just ever so tilted downward. Hearing his name called, the beautiful boy turned away from the window and grabbed a bundle of black fabrics before hurrying further inside the room.
Hours later that night and miles away, just outside the city, was a rickety, wooden wharf in the middle of a dense, emerald swamp where the night's silvery gray fog hung thick and low from the Deep South humidity. A dilapidated shrimping boat with chipped paint was swaying gently in the murky, algae blanketed water and there was a worn down shack whose roof had collapsed in the distance.
Suddenly a loud ripping noise sounded throughout the abandoned area accompanied by a blackened tear materializing in midair as if someone had just torn a yard of fabric. The rip in space was pushed farther apart, darkness the only thing visible there until a figure appeared, stepping through the portal between this realm and another that sewed itself back together as he did.
It was a man, or at least he seemed to be. He was of bronze skin and shocking blue hair, a perfectly imperfect mess of silken strands spiking rebelliously over his forehead and at the nape of his neck. His face was heartbreaking, with angular, masculine features - straight nose, sharp cheekbones, strong jawline, full Cupid's bow lips - and was the kind of beautiful only found in storybooks and fairy tales. And then there were his eyes. They were a bouquet of electricity and lightning pulsating with every shade of blue from cyan to midnight.
However, what really stood out were the pointed, deadly fangs in his devilish smile, the smooth, curved jet black horns at his temples, and the positively massive glossy ebony, skeletal wings drawn in at his back. He was dressed in a fine, tailored ivory suit and his black dress shirt's top three buttons were left undone, exposing a tantalizing bit of tanned flesh. His pocket square and classy leather shoes matched the shirt but the traditional Catholic rosary he wore around his neck was a bright blue to match his hair, the Hail Mary beads sapphires and the crucifix solid diamond, thinking it proper for the holiday that he wear it.
Oh yes, Grimmjow Jeagerjaques had definitely dressed for the occasion. Halloween was sort of a big deal where he came from, for it was the one night a year his kind were allowed to take the day off. And he'd known just where he'wanted to spend it, too. Where else was so perfect as New Orleans to spend the holiday? The city was just teeming with sinfully seasoned fresh meat and he was just starved. He was a little fashionably late perhaps, give or take a few hours, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to make the time he did have count.
Snapping his fingers, his fangs, horns, and wings disappeared in a puff of dark smoke and Grimmjow smirked wickedly, closing his eyes and snapping again. When he opened them he was no longer in the Bayou swamp, now standing on the urban terrain of cement and tar. People were clustered around him as they walked, or stumbled, in various directions and the thunderous bass of heavy metal music filtered outside along with the artificial gray vapor of smoke machines. He could see most of the civilians and tourists crowding the streets were either in costume or wearing something seasonal, the rest obviously considering themselves too "mature" for such childish antics.
Glancing up at the street sign above his head , Grimmjow saw that he was at the corner of Decatur and Clinton, which meant he was two blocks down from where he really wanted to be in the heart of the Quarter, or rather the entire city.
The blue-haired demon fell into line with the other pleasure seekers easily, despite the streets being so jam packed he was forced to walk at a glacial pace (you gotta love the utter lack of Last Call and open container laws.) He caught quite a few stares being sent his way, all of them glazed over and heated in lust, the women unsatisfied with their dates or current beaus once they caught sight of the handsome devil amidst them. It reeked of cheap perfume and smoke but Grimmjow just inhaled deeply, loving the scent of the city that smelled of sex and vice. It was like oxygen to his hellishly keen senses. He could smell the desire the humans reeked of, the lust, the greed, the want. He could smell the dusky, potent fragrance of the promiscuous drunkards - a mixture of primal musk, alcohol, and all their past sins.
Truthfully, it was a satisfying blend, but not enough for his year-long starvation.
No, there was only one tantalizing thing that would be enough to satiate his ravenous appetite and searching for it among this licentious crowd would prove to be a herculean task. Not that that would stop him from obtaining it. Nothing would. His dark hunger would lead him to the precious fount of purest life he would devour, ferocious and desperate, and savory every last drop of it like the rarest of delicacies - which in this day and age it most certainly was.
Grimmjow barely noted those around him, everyone stepping to the side as he made his steady way through the infamous street. He passed windows displaying neon XXX signs and restless, costumed partiers waiting in line to get into the club of their choice, the most popular clearly one of the city's landmarks, Pat O'Briens. Knowing he would never find what he searched for in the historical establishment, he kept on striding down the street and using his supernatural agility to avoid contact with spilled drinks or their owners. It seemed like it had taken an eternity when he finally came across the hidden treasure in the whole of the Quarter.
Glancing up at the sign, he was intrigued to see it contained two outlines of a nude man and woman backlit by an orange glowing light. Seeing that the windows were all covered, the two bouncers at the door were big as oxen, and one could hear Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" blasting from inside the building, it was pretty obvious what kind of place this was and how utterly bizarre that scent for which he'd explored the entire surrounding area was emanating enticingly from within.
Smirking, Grimmjow stepped onto the sidewalk and through the black double doors of the strip joint, immediately immersing himself in the heated, smoky carnality. The air was thick and heavy, the only lights centered on the platform stage at the back of the large space, bearing a metal pole attached to the ceiling, framed with a backdrop of lavish crimson crushed velvet curtains with jet black damask stripes, and surrounded by barstools and the more plush, ebony loveseats. All in all, it looked a lot like Dracula's lair from the fifties' horror films. It had somewhat been decorated for Halloween, grayish-white gossamer adorning the bar and around the stage to look like spider webs, skulls mounted on the blood red walls, and a staff full of cocktail waitresses wearing the slutty version of just about any costume ever made.
Judging from the amount of people, the overwhelming majority of them men, the joint was incredibly popular and their cacophony filled the room even though the stage remained completely empty and Grimmjow found himself wondering what it was they were waiting for.
"Can I get you anything, handsome?" a buxom waitress costumed as a pirate if they had worn six-inch leather mini skirts and red striped bandeau tops asked. Her long hair was a dark strawberry blonde and eyes a clear aquamarine, rimmed with smoky eyeliner and long lashes. A bombshell for sure, but far, far from his type. She also held a round, black tray above her shoulder and smiled up at the demon, batting her eyelashes twice and cocking her head. "Name's Rangiku, by the way."
"Jameson on the rocks," Grimmjow said, brushing past her as she moved toward the bar, apparently unfazed by the blatant rejection. Hell, she probably was grateful for a patron not intent on pawing all over her.
He stalked around the crowd, walking closer to the empty stage bordered by plush velvet booths and glass tables covered in beer bottles and champagne flutes. He noticed one in particular, situated right at the center of the end of the narrow catwalk (prime real estate in places like these) and occupied by a group of four males in their late twenties to early thirties and laughing merrily at one's joke. The brightness in their eyes and wide grins gave away how eager they were for whatever was to come.
Grimmjow stopped, standing out of the light in the shadowy area between the bar and the stage. He focused his gaze on the group he'd been observing and waited a few seconds. The men at the booth suddenly fell silent and straightened up before stiffly rising to their feet and shuffling out of the booth. Smirking, Grimmjow followed their trail that led them straight out of the club to the crowded city streets, where he imagined they'd soon become very confused, and then casually strolled over to the now vacant space.
Don't mind if I do, he thought, sliding into the middle of the booth. He reclined comfortably in the cushions, resting his arms out to the side along the back and looking for all his trouble like the king of the world. A second later the cocktail waitress/pirate reappeared at his side, laying a coaster and a tumbler half-filled with whiskey down on the table and then clearing the rest of it of the prior customer's empty bottles.
"Hey, Rangiku, right?" Grimmjow said as she turned to leave. The woman paused mid-step, looking over her shoulder at the blue-haired demon, glossy lips tilted and Grimmjow flicked two fingers holding a folded hundred dollar bill in her direction.
"Need something, sugar?"
"You wouldn't mind telling me what all the fuss's about, would ya?"
"Ah, they're all just really... excited for the performance," she answered, the points of her polished crimson nails just barely brushing the edge of the tip when Grimmjow curled his fingers, nestling the piece of folded paper in his palm. She huffed and placed a hand on one curvy hip. "Okay, 'bout a week ago the owner decided to put a male dancer in for one show a shift -wants to expand the uh... customer base, he said. Tonight's his debut performance or whatever you wanna call it. Baby boy's cute but a little shy, if ya ask me."
Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. Grimmjow flipped the bill back up for the waitress to pluck from his grasp and tuck inside her bandeau top. "This new dancer, he got a name?" he inquired before she could move on to the next table. She opened her mouth to answer him but not a moment later the lights dimmed and she merely gestured toward the stage, sashaying away whilst Grimmjow's eyes were drawn to the dark platform and a man's low, Barry White-esque voice coming through the loudspeaker.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you've been waiting for him all night and here he is. So please welcome to the stage, in his debut performance, Halloween's sexiest little devil... Ichigo."
A spotlight shone down around the metal pole in the middle of the catwalk and gray vapor hissed out from on either side, clouds of smoke misting over the entire stage and the seats below. Red strobe lights in the corners began flaring rapidly, illuminating everything for a millisecond at a time, and "Black Hell" by Danzig started blasting through the sound system.
It's gon' rain down like black hell
You don't know what it's like to be dead
Imma teach you now, teach you well
You gon' learn how to live in black hell
Cheers and clapping erupted from all corners of the club, Grimmjow could hear both females and males in the audience, people who probably wouldn't be here if the dancer just announced had been a woman. He was incredibly intrigued to see what kind of person the owner had decided had such mass appeal. However, all of his thoughts stopped dead and fell away when his keen senses again caught that scent.
Sweeter than Southern sugar honey iced tea on a summer afternoon and intoxicating as a chilled glass of poison green absinthe glittering like melted emeralds to say it was overwheIming was laughable. It plunged through Grimmjow like the fatal thrust of a sword, spearing even his undead heart. His reaction was instant, his pupils narrowing into slits, his fangs shooting from his gums, his nails lengthening, and his head jerked to the side, his neck cracking as he struggled to maintain control. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply and forced the sudden swell of his demonic desire back down to the pit of his unholy soul.
Once his claws and fangs had receded and he was somewhat getting used to the insanely divine fragrance's devastating effects, Grimmjow looked up from under his furrowed brow to finally find its enticing source.
He was everything the demon had hoped for and more - the perfect combination of madonna and whore, as the humans said, and exactly the kind of treat he craved for his one night on earth and he deserved it too for all of his hard work wreaking violent havoc in the Underworld. He was practically employee of the month down there to be honest.
The dancer, this Ichigo, was stunning. Lovely. Handsome. Dazzling. Enchanting. Magnificent. Just... beautiful. He even had a halo, a crown of radiant, bed-head dreamsicle colored hair, though over this he wore a pair of red devil horns complete with flashing lights. Grimmjow's inhuman sight could peer through the smoke and disorienting beams of reddish lights and also lay hungry eyes on the rest of the young man, not much of whose temptingly lithe, toned figure left to the imagination. The orange-haired dancer's scandalous, all black outfit consisted of knee-high, Gothic-style combat boots with blood red laces, a pair of leather shorts so skimpy they couldn't even pass as underwear, a sheer, long-sleeved top with a deep v-neck, a furry, high-collared vest, studded motorcycle gloves, and matching choker wound tightly on an elegant, slender neck.
Grimmjow didn't even need to smell it on the boy; it was so obvious from the way those brandy amber orbs stared, fixated, at the floor and the moment of hesitation before that leather and spike-covered hand grabbed ahold of the metal pole. Or it was to him, at least, and he was simply dying of curiosity to know why somebody so... out of place there would ever even consider a job as a stripper.
He had to know.
The audience still hooting and hollering both their approval and encouragement, the dancer - Ichigo listed down to the side and then forward, leaning over so that his grip on the pole was the only thing holding him up as he spun around it. After he'd circled around a few times, gaining momentum and spinning faster and faster, he leapt up and hooked his right knee several feet above his hand. The majority of the crowd whistled and applauded as the orangette let go, sliding down barely an inch, and cinched both legs around the pole. It was clear to Grimmjow that the boy had at some point been classically trained, his refined lines and pointed toes telltale signs. Basically hanging upside down, he tentatively ran his hands over the entire length of his ravishing form stretched out and taut so that every beguiling curve, dip, and angle was on full display.
If there's a demon in your brain
I think it's time to let it out again
And this world you know goes insane
Never ever gon' be the same again
A small fortune of bills ranging from twenties to hundreds flew onto the stage floor, a couple of men and one feather boa and tiara-bedecked bachelorette pressed up against the sides, brandishing wads of money to capture the dancer's attention. But Grimmjow studied that gorgeous face intently and never did those alluring, hooded eyes stray over to them. He imagined his newly discovered subject of interest was attempting to just concentrate on performing and ignore his admirers completely.
The blue-haired demon felt his lips twitch in some kind of small smile he didn't dare believe could possibly considered one of affection. Those that had long since lost their soul to the darkness were no longer able to feel such things and soon brushed it off, forgetting the matter when Ichigo began spinning around again. As the boy descended, he gradually pulled a leg in and bent it at the knee which earned him louder cheers. Halfway down he curled his torso upwards, catching the pole in his right hand and fully extending that same leg out in the air. Grimmjow had to admit even he was captivated as the dancer twirled gracefully high above the people and demon watching him.
It's gon' rain down like black hell
You don't know what it's like to be dead
Imma teach you now, teach you well
You gon' learn how to live in black hell
In his centuries of undeath the blunette had never, not once, found any mortal so intriguing, no matter how beautiful or interesting or... or anything. Yet this one undeniably fascinated him and in a moment timed almost too perfectly his intense stare met that pair of sparkling deep chocolate orbs, the kind of big brown eyes they write songs about, and it was decided. The crowd of pathetic humans leering at what was to be his and the space between them couldn't be tolerated. He'd stalked his pretty prey long enough.
As soon as the heel of Ichigo's combat boots touched the floor, Grimmjow's gaze snapped to where some bulky speakers were set up in the corner, bundles of wires coiled behind them. Within a second electric sparks began shooting from the cords like Fourth of July sparklers that in the blink of an eye exploded into full on fireworks. Patrons and staff members alike gasped in surprise, those growing into screams as flames burgeoned in the folds of the heavy curtains beside the speakers and spread frightfully fast, promptly consuming the fabric and then fanning out to the structure of the building itself.
While the fire swiftly flourished into a towering inferno, fiery fingers of flame greedily scrawling across the walls and ceiling, and a mob formed inside the club due to everyone trying to run outside all at once, Grimmjow calmly rose to his feet and slipped a hand inside his ivory suit's jacket, withdrawing a single cigarette. He was well aware of the panicked orangette still up on the platform, searching with wide eyes for an escape route as the fire encased him and the other in an unnaturally short amount of time and realizing he was hopelessly trapped.
Placing the cancer stick between his lips, Grimmjow bent slightly to his left just enough that the flames encircling them lit it for him. Sucking down a lungful, he blew the fumes out through his nose and then allowed his bluer than blue gaze to bore directly into velvety brown. Ichigo was backed up against the silver pole, sliding down 'till his legs were bent underneath him in order to avoid the blanket of smoke that was thinner lower to the ground. Coughing, he clasped both hands over his mouth and nose and stared at Grimmjow like he was the devil himself, which wasn't too far off.
"A lil' hot in here, yeah?" the blunette said, straightening the lapels of his jacket and strolling toward the platform as if now was a good time for small talk. Ichigo didn't answer, only narrowing his eyes in confusion and mild disdain. "Don't give me that look now, Ichigo, where I come from this is hot chocolate by the fireplace kind of weather - actually puts me in the mood to get a little cozy."
The mortal shook his head, rolling his eyes, but didn't bother lowering his hands before responding. "You-" he paused, choking on a mouthful of smoke. "Y-you're fucking crazy."
"Yeah, so I've heard," Grimmjow sighed, shrugging dismissively. "I suppose that means you wouldn't be interested in gettin' out of here and, y'know, livin' and all. Shame, really, for this shit world to lose somethin' as rare and pretty as you. Ah well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and so on..."
The demon hadn't taken so much as a step when Ichigo stopped him. "Wait!" he called out, rising from his hunched position and going so far as to reach out to the other.
"Yes?" Grimmjow said innocently but grinning toothily at the orange-haired boy.
"Are you-... do you know how to get out of here?" Ichigo demanded, posed right on the stage's ledge in front of the demon with his arms crossed over his chest. He admittedly made for a dazzling, almost picturesque image, the flames illuminating the emotion displayed on his beautiful features and brilliant hair. "Even though the entire goddamn building is on fire and you're clearly absolutely insane?"
"Oh, I think you'll find insanity very necessary if you want to live, sweetheart!" Grimmjow barked loudly, laughing raucously. "I can get you out of here, yes, but you'd really have to be desperate to want me to help you, to save you. You can't get somethin' for nothin' in this world, see, and you may find my services come at too high a cost, understand? And the thing is I won't expect payment, I'll take it."
"What the hell do you want?" Ichigo yelled over the crackling roar the building emitted as it burned. "I don't have a lot of money or anything like that but... whatever else you want you can have, I promise I'll give it to you!"
"You promise, huh?" Grimmjow stroked his chin as if he were mulling it over when only he knew he'd already decided the instant he'd caught a whiff of that delicious scent. He held his hand out to the unsuspecting boy, unable to suppress his triumphant smirk. "All right, I'll save you from a horrific, fiery death and you'll repay me with anything I ask for that's not monetary or otherwise. So... do we have a deal?"
Ichigo scowled heavily, obviously not trusting this strange man who most likely appeared to have suffered a complete psychotic breakdown yet out of options at this point when his life was in imminent peril. "If you're lying to me, I swear I'll find a way to make you regret it," he declared forcefully, laying his gloved hand in the other's broad palm and clutching it tightly. "But fine, we have a deal. Now wha-...!" He was immediately cut off, the sudden jolt due to being forcibly yanked forward taking him by surprise.
Grimmjow easily caught the dancer, wrapping an arm around the latter's shoulders and smiling bewitchingly down at Ichigo's startled expression. Then he snapped his fingers. There was not the tiniest feeling of motion or movement, they simply were standing in the middle of a raging fire and then they weren't.
He'd chosen their destination not for its ambiance or any other similarly stupid reason. No, he had picked out this exact location because even on Halloween night he knew they would be all alone. Though if he thought about it a bit he might guess it was somewhat appropriate for the holiday. And for his planned activities as well, he supposed. Underneath his chin he heard Ichigo's sharp gasp at the speed they'd traveled the several city blocks from Bourbon Street down to the first St. Louis Cemetery.
Centuries old mausoleums, religious statues, and tombstones lined the countless rows of the final resting places of those passed on. Branches of ivy and greenish-yellow weeds wrapped and twisted around the cracked and decaying stone protecting their bodies and paving the pathways, the engravings of names and dates faded and dusty. A cool gust of wind blew through the silent graveyard, sweeping up dead leaves that whirled about in the air before falling back to the cold ground, still as ever.
Grimmjow sensed Ichigo's reaction, anticipating it when the young man attempted to roughly shove him away and only pushing harder as the blunette didn't budge an inch. "What the fuck did you just do?" Ichigo shouted accusingly, luckily heard by none other than the one whose embrace he was now fighting to escape. "Get off of me, crazy bastard!"
"Now is that anyway to talk to someone who saved your life?" Grimmjow tutted, shaking his head disapprovingly. "And I hardly think I'm the one who's 'crazy' 'round here, isn't that right, my sweet little devil?" He chuckled at the look of pure outrage he received for that comment, thinking it rather adorable, especially with those small, curved horns still blinking their red lights. "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to make a deal with strange men, men like me?"
"Men like you! You mean deranged, lying assholes?" Ichigo hissed, a touch out of breath from struggling so hard to get free. However, once he saw Grimmjow's sapphire blue orbs start to glow, their pupils thinning into feline slits, he seemed to settle down and shut up right quick.
"Not exactly," the blue-haired demon husked deeply, showing off his fangs as they, his claws, and horns lengthened to their sharp, fine points. Finally, he rolled his shoulders as he let his massive wings tear through his skin and the back of his ivory jacket. He hummed contentedly as they unfurled, leathery hide blacker than the night sky and structure skeletal like a bat's, their thick, strong bones outlined perfectly.
"What... are you?" Ichigo breathed, motionless and wide-eyed in his arms.
"Am jus' a man who made a deal that cost too much," Grimmjow said truthfully, tracing a black talon along the other's jawline which made the orangette close his eyes and shiver ever so lightly. "But that was a long time ago andnow it's my time to collect."
"Are you going to kill me?" Ichigo whispered, looking as if he were bracing himself for the final blow right then and there, and the demon chuckled again.
"Kill you? No, you can't imagine how rare, how precious, you are, how magnificently hard it is to find a delicacy like you in these times." Grimmjow bowed his head, resting it in the crook of the dancer's extended neck and revelling in the heavenly perfume of his exquisite aura. "Your scent alone is more arousing than any pathetic mortal could ever know. Hah, and where did I find you but dancin' in a strip club."
"I'd never... I mean, it was my first night there - " Ichigo hastened to explain for some reason, lashes fluttering wildly until his eyes opened.
"Tch, I know. No stripper I've ever seen can dance anywhere close to that," Grimmjow snorted, raising his head and grinning predatorily at his soon to be Halloween treat. "Not to mention they all smell terrible, bitter and dry, fucking tasteless... But not you, you're different."
"What do you mean?" Ichigo asked, seeming scared of the inhuman male what might say or do yet excited by what that may be at the same time. "Different how?"
"I think you know exactly what I mean, my pet. I can practically taste it, what it is that makes you different to me, what makes you so sweet, so damn mouthwatering, so mmm... ripe for the plucking." Clawed fingers threading through soft tangerine strands, the demon guided Ichigo's head back and exposed that flawless throat adorned by that leather, spiked choker. So slowly it was almost painful, Grimmjow brushed his lips over the slender column of tempting flesh, past locks of golden sunset, and then positioned them as close as possible to the mortal's ear without touching. "Virgin."
Time stopped then, the two frozen in that long, silent moment in the cemetery for neither knew how long before the sound of Ichigo's hitching breath broke the spell. "I-... I don't understand how you know that about me or why it's so appealing to you but I won't bother denying it," he said quietly, voice wavering as he warred with the embarrassment societally bred mores dictated a young man feel at being revealed so inexperienced. "It has to do something with your 'payment', doesn't it?"
Grimmjow smirked amusedly against the orangette's hair, arching a brow at the unexpected response. "You are a rare one, aren't you? Clever, too," he mused, sliding the hand intertwined in tousled tresses down Ichigo's neck, shoulder, arm, all the way to his bare knee and curling around it his taloned fingers. "Don't worry your pretty little head, this won't hurt... much."
Flinging his enormous, glossy wings back he hurtled them forward to the bottom of a large mausoleum, built so grand and opulent it had a small staircase leading up to the ornately engraved door. They landed with thud on the steps, Ichigo splayed out on his back under the demon and the shadowed shelter of those powerful wings. Grimmjow held onto both of his legs, spreading them apart in order for him bring them flush against each other. He descended on the other male like a ravenous wolf, immediately going for the neck.
His teeth bit down on the choker's thick strap, tearing it away and spitting it out to the side. He could hear Ichigo's quickened breath, his trembling, beating heart and its pulse throbbing steadily underneath every bit of his tawny skin. He could feel the heat of that living body against his own and soon how those toned thighs cinched tighter around his hips.
He was overtaken by that sweet scent wafting off of Ichigo's skin, an ambrosial, sugary, candy-coated overdose with a honeyed nectar center and dipped in vanilla and caramel syrup. Imagine centuries of smelling nothing but fire and brimstone and sulfur and then catching a whiff of that, because that's exactly what Grimmjow was experiencing at that very moment. He had to summon every ounce of willpower he owned to stop from devouring his long awaited treat whole and remember to savor it, make it last as long as possible. Nuzzling the hollow of the mortal's throat, he inhaled deeply and then ran the tip of his tongue up to the quivering Adam's apple and back down. Damn it all but if Ichigo smelled amazing then he tasted like Heaven itself.
Grimmjow attached his open mouth to the base of the neck he was currently ravishing, sucking and gently teething the sensitive spot, and he wasn't the only one enjoying it, either. The husky, heady essence of arousal was gradually coming through Ichigo's saccharine flavor, tastes deep red wine, blackberries, and dark chocolate added into the mix. Grabbing onto the boy's hips so hard he would probably leave bruises in the shape of his fingertips, the blunette scraped the points of his fangs across the fluttering pulse point.
Well on his way to 'sealing the deal', Grimmjow was surprised to pick up the faint sound of Ichigo's voice. "A-ah, could... " he trailed off, swallowing hard, and the demon removed his mouth, listening intently to whatever it was the other wanted to say. "Could you k-kiss me?"
Grimmjow wasn't sure why he'd been requested for the act yet didn't much care when he captured Ichigo's lips with his own, discovering them to be as soft as the petals of the flower's nectar he tasted of. It wasn't long before he was hungrily ravaging that pliant mouth, loving how Ichigo didn't only receive his affections but jumped right in to repay the favor, as if he wasn't thoroughly kissing a cold-blooded, soulless demon in the middle of a cemetery. He actually made a little noise of disappointment once Grimmjow broke their liplock, unable to indulge the orange-haired dancer whilst he sensed the inevitable sunrise drawing nearer with every tick of the clock. His time was running out.
Trailing light, feverish kisses in a path down Ichigo's torso barely covered by that sheer, dark fabric, he ran his hands from the human's hips to the back of his thighs, his claws digging into the tender flesh. As his mouth ghosted over the front of the slighter male's shorts that clung to the skin like black on night Ichigo stifled a moan, clearly expecting something else when Grimmjow turned his head and sank his fangs into the boy's inner thigh.
Ichigo cried out, all of his pain, pleasure, shock, and bliss music to the blue-haired demon's ears, who still wasn't entirely sure why he'd chosen to bite the orangette there. The various demonic forces of the Netherworld chomped down on people, and each other, so often it was practically their equivalent of a handshake. Nevertheless, they only ever did it in either lust or, the more popular option, violence. With a single exception, of course. Biting into another's femoral artery, uncommon as it was, served as a condition for one of their few laws - to mark a human there was a symbol of possession. It basically said 'That's Mine' and so it would be. Forever.
This was all in the back of Grimmjow's head, he was aware of what he'd done, but it was nearly impossible to think of anything other than the taste of Ichigo's blood. He had never drank virgin blood before, universally known to be flavored far sweeter than anything else in all three realms, and from the moment the first drop had touched his tongue he'd been ferociously fighting the madness of mindless bloodlust. He wanted to stop, needed to stop, knowing that with every ounce he drank more and more life out of Ichigo's body, but it was so hard.
Grimmjow almost jumped when he felt a soft touch brush against his forehead, tracing over his temple and then finally settle on the plane of his cheekbone. His half-crazed, blazingly blue orbs snapped to the slender fingertips caressing his face, a tender gesture he had no memories of yet remembering the strange tightness in his chest from some time long ago. He looked up at Ichigo's flushed but calm face, such beauty and serenity he hadn't ever witnessed in his centuries of existence. And then it was easy to stop.
He drew his fangs out of the flesh they'd torn through and slowly lifted his crimson stained mouth from the two identical pinpricks he'd made, thick red blood dripping down his chin and Ichigo's thigh. Wiping the lower half of his face with the back of his hand, he lay the other over the wound he'd inflicted. Ichigo gasped, watching the rivulets of blood travel in reverse up and back inside his leg and when Grimmjow removed his hand the injury was gone and its place was a Gothic-style, black number six about the size of his palm.
"It's my mark," Grimmjow answered what he knew to be the dancer's question. "And yeah, it's permanent, but this way you'll have somethin' to remember me by 'till next time."
"Next time? Are... are you leaving?" Ichigo asked hesitantly, clearly trying to appear noncommittal and failing miserably, it actually bringing a small smile to the blunette's lips. He grabbed the other's wrists, pulling him to his feet as he did the same. Standing two steps below Ichigo, they were face to face and Grimmjow cursed the unpleasant sensation of the approaching sunrise for taking even the littlest bit of his attention while he was attempting to memorize exactly how those dark amber orbs glittered at him.
"Halloween night is it for us demons, sundown to sunrise and then party's over," Grimmjow said, reasoning with himself that he couldn't take the orangette with him. Hell wasn't really anyone's first choice for a romantic getaway. "But don't think you're off the hook, sweetheart. I'll be back next year, so until then consider your end of the bargain... unfulfilled." Grimmjow dropped the other's hands and gave a quick wink, turning around so that he could open a portal back downstairs. However, he'd hardly stood still a second before a blur of orange and black ran in front of him.
"I'll stipulate to that if you tell me your name," Ichigo insisted, blocking him from moving forward (as much as a human could block a demon from doing anything.) "It's the least you could do considering you started that fire to make a deal with me in the first place, don't you think?"
Lip curling up into a sinister, arrogant smirk, the blunette knew without a doubt he'd made the right choice marking this human for his own. "It's Grimmjow," he said, reaching out to grasp Ichigo's chin and tilt it toward him in order to steal one last fleeting kiss. "Stay sweet for me," he whispered after he'd pulled back. "And find a real dancing gig, yeah?"
Rays of celestial light beginning to illuminate the eastern horizon, Grimmjow didn't waste any more precious time and sliced a talon through the empty air, ripping open a black, empty tear that led back to the Pit. He stepped forward, crossing over to the unholy realm, and the second before the portal sealed over he heard Ichigo call after him.
"I'll be waiting, Grimmjow..."
A/N: Well that one sure got away from me. Longest drabble ever, maybe? But I really hope I paid proper tribute to both mine and IstariaDragon's hometown of New Orleans, otherwise known as the greatest city ever of all time. Also, the song used in this piece, "Black Hell" by Danzig, is worth a listen. It's dark but it's really just a great stripper song.
Grimmjow loved October. It was the month for midnight scares, cold weather, and most of all, halloween. At twenty-two years old, he still dressed up every single halloween and went out to pillage every last house (as childish it was) of all the candy he could possibly find. The best part was, that for two years he'd had a partner-in-crime, so to say. And this year, he'd gotten two, all too perfect costumes.
The cute little oranget he'd been dating (in other words his partner-in-crime,) had been absolutely furious at the costume he'd gotten him. Naturally, he'd gotten an 'adult' costume, and none other than the witch one for him. The best part was, he'd even gotten him into the skimpy little thing! He'd gotten a less-revealing one for himself, if just to tease, in the form of a torn, plaid shirt, torn jeans, and clipon wolf tail and ears. Normally he would dress up a bit more but he wanted to tease the crap out of his little witch. It was stupidly fun.
He stretched his arms above his head and sighed contently, flat on his back along with Ichigo, who was picking through all the candy that was some sort of chewy thing or another. This year's haul was the best yet. They'd gotten into the rich people's streets this time, and they were so freaking rich that they had Hershey's brand chocolate, not just the mini bars either! A few even had his favorite kind of chocolate- Hershey's kisses.
Speaking of which...
He grabbed one of the bags and opened it, taking out one of the kisses. Unwrapping it with one hand, he glanced at the oranget beside him, smirking when he saw that the little skirt was riding up, and popped the candy into his mouth.
Ichigo glanced at him and smirked, and as he crawled over to him he set his bag of gummi bears down. He crawled onto his lap, Grimmjow smirking up at him quietly. One of Grimmjow's hands went to the back of his head when he leaned down and kissed him, Hard and deep. The kiss was hot and rough, and it didn't take long for Ichigo to have to break away for air. He chuckled slightly before going back to searching for his favorite candy, away from the blunet.
It was then that Grimmjow that the little witch had stolen his chocolate right out of his mouth. "Hey!" He sat up and glared at him, and the witch only laughed and said, "Thanks for the 'kiss', Grimm."
A/N. Okay, sorry for how freaking SHORT this is! D: It's the last one I finished and I was almost out of time. It's why its so rushed. I wanted to put more but I also wanted to post on time. I already feel bad enough that hers are so much better and longer... But oh well.. I might be caribou good one day, huh? Tell me what you think! Also, review, review, review! Caribou may be immune but I really like seeing feedback.
It's The Great Pumpkin, Kayah Kurosaki
A spin-off of Kisota
It was four o'clock p.m. on October 31st and Ichigo Kurosaki was at home, alone, sitting at the kitchen table, alone, and rapidly drumming his fingernails along the dark wooden surface. Alone.
"Typical, absolutely typical," he muttered bitterly, his free hand cupping his chin as he shook his head. "'Oh sure, I'll take her, Ichi. Don't worry so much, I've got it all handled.' That damn man... I should've listened to Nel, this is the kind of shit that happens when I can't drive!" Ichigo huffed in exasperation and started tapping his foot on the floor in time with his fingernails, his annoyance increasing with every passing second. Wasn't it enough that he'd given freaking birth to the kid after carrying her for a tumultuous eight and a half months and then spent six years micromanaging and organizing everything 'cause her oblivious-when-it-suited-him father was completely clueless?
No, he always had to chase after the girl with her hat and mittens when she played with her dad in the snow. Always had to brush her hair out after her dad mangled a simple ponytail. Always had to try and force feed her after she'd been taken out for ice cream by her dad right before dinner. Always had to hose her down when her dad let her make mud pies in their backyard. Always had to play the bad guy because her dad would take one look at her big brown eyes and immediately give in. Always, always, always. How was he ever supposed to relax like Doctor Unohana had advised him when he had not one but two children to look after every second of every day!
Ah yes, the very reason he couldn't drive because of the stress caused by his sudden onset road rage was also the reason why he couldn't get stressed in the first place.
At least he'd been allowed a little over five and a half years free of the strains of maternity he remembered all too vividly during his nineteenth year when he'd gone from struggling to leave an balcoholic boyfriend to finding out said boyfriend betrayed him by secretly shooting him up with the Carrier hormonal injection at a doctor's office where they'd told him he was pregnant to showing up on his friend Nelliel's porch with nowhere else to go to waitressing at the diner and living in Nel's tiny guesthouse, barely scraping by, to meeting a beautiful blue-haired stranger to falling hopelessly in love, twice, to somehow winding up with his own little, perfect family and finally happy.
Now Ichigo was twenty-five, essentially married to that beautiful stranger, with whom he was raising their six-year old daughter, and twenty weeks into his second trimester - something that they hadn't planned on so much as been... surprised, and this time around it was proving a lot more complicated than his first. The most predominant side effect was his new constant state of total emotional instability, his hormones apparently fluctuating wildly even for an expectant mother. At times Ichigo felt like he completely lost, unsure of how or what to feel or think.
He was of the belief it had to be exactly related to whose child he was carrying.
"I hope that after all of this you'll be a good baby, even if you did get half your genes from your maniac of a father," he said aloud, lowering his gaze to the swell of his stomach. "A good, sweet, quiet baby who always listens to me and never gives me any grief - I get enough of it from him and your sister, who are still not back yet."
Completely overwhelmed, Ichigo slumped forward and buried his head in his arms. He sat like this for exactly eight point five seconds before lifting his head to check the time again, groaning at seeing it was now four oh five. Glancing over to where his cell phone lay between the placemats, he mulled over whether he should call them again or not, biting the inside of his cheek and then a moment later snatching the phone off the table. He managed to dial up to the last digit when the front door burst open, a girlish giggle accompanying the commotion of footsteps, crinkling plastic bags, and the door swinging shut behind the homecomers.
Remembering not to jump up from the chair, Ichigo ambled quickly as he could through the house to the entry foyer. He turned the last corner to be greeted rather enthusiastically by a six-year old girl with long, orange hair leaping out at him. "Mom, guess what I got!" she squealed, brandishing whatever it was as high as her arms could reach, the contents still inside the blue plastic bag imprinted with the name of a local party goods store.
Per usual, as soon as he saw the big smile on Kayah's face, a portion of Ichigo's irritability washed away as he saw one of the two people he loved happy. Maudlin as it was, he just couldn't help it. "What did you get? Not any more candy, I hope..." he trailed off, knowing that when the usual suspects went to a store with any kind of confectionary treats his daughter always somehow ended up sprinting around the house like an Olympic track star with chocolate smeared all over her face and the walls.
"Yeah, for the trick and treaters duh, Mom," Kayah explained in the way a child does when they think they know everything, which is basically all the time. "But that's not it! I got a-"
"'ey, stick to the plan, pumpkin! Remember what we talked 'bout in the car on the way back?" a gruff shout by the door drowned out what the girl had been about to reveal. "Now go on and get upstairs, ya lil' brat."
Instantly crushing the bag to her chest with both arms, Kayah tried not to smile as she positively beamed in excitement as she tended to when she was either up to something she shouldn't be or had a secret she was dying to tell. "'kay, Daddy," she said, obviously stifling peals of laughter, and raced for the stairs that she scurried up fast as her little legs would carry her. Shouting back to her father, her voice echoed down the stairwell alongside the noise of her Mary Janes pitter-pattering on the steps. "Don't tell Mom 'till I'm ready, even if he kisses you!"
Not a second later, Ichigo was still gazing up the stairs and therefore caught by surprise as a pair of burly, flannel-clad arms wrapped around him from behind. "I missed you," the unmistakable, deep voice of his lover whispered huskily against the part of the orangette's neck he was nuzzling. Sighing, Ichigo lifted a hand to thread his fingers through strands of sky blue.
"Well you were certainly gone long enough," he said, tugging gently on the fistful of hair. "I must have told you a million times they're starting down at the diner at five."
"What'd you expect, the place was fucking mobbed with people, even lost Kayah a few times. Almost took home the wrong kid," the other man grumbled unhappily, tightening his hold around Ichigo's middle and missing the scowl crossing the latter's face.
"And that, Grimmjow Jaegerjaques," Ichigo hissed under his breath, none too gently smacking that head of blue hair over his shoulder, which swiftly became the first of several senseless blows to Grimmjow's shoulders and chest that, despite his burgeoning anger, held no real power to them. "Is why you go and take that little girl to get her Halloween costume when I tell you to and not whenever you damn well feel like it! You be the fucking father you swore to me you'd be when she was born! I have been doing everything since then, and what have you done? You got me knocked up the one time we were in the shed when you just couldn't control yourself and what do I hear after we'd already gotten dressed? 'Uh, Ichigo, I think it broke' and here we are five months later! How are we going to handle another kid when the one we have can't even get a goddamn Halloween costume? Was there even anything left this late? If my daughter is going trick or treating as Freddy Krueger or that masked guy from Friday the Thirteenth, I swear I'll-"
Dodging the open palm Ichigo had aimed for a cuff upside the head, Grimmjow grasped the other's shoulders and stilled him using enough force so he stopped short in the throes of his hormonal tirade. "All right, Mike Tyson," Grimmjow said softly, rubbing the slighter male's arms soothingly. "Everything's just fine, okay? You're stressing yourself out over nothing. It's all taken care of, and I got Kayah a costume from the non-serial killer department, I promise."
Mood swinging faster than the speed of light, Ichigo promptly deflated and covered his face with his hands, ashamed of how he'd just been treating his husband in every sense of the word aside from the legal status. "God, Grimmjow, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean any of that," he apologized, voice thick with emotion that only grew stronger when he felt the blunette draw him closer to that broad, solid body in a comfortingly tight embrace. Peeking out from under his hands, he tentatively met Grimmjow's intense gaze. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"Nah, you only got me good a few times. Though now that you mention it, that wallop you packed into that one to my jaw's gonna sting for a little while," Grimmjow said, rubbing the spot in question yet looking down expectantly at the same time.
"You're not seriously expecting me to kiss it better or something, are you?" Ichigo deadpanned even though he knew his lover well enough that the man was not above manipulating him into giving a pity kiss. "Because that's not going to happen."
"Now, Ichigo, does that sound like me? Tch, I don't have to guilt my way into a kiss, honestly. I could take two steps outside and get kissed good and hard if I wanted."
If Grimmjow had planned on saying anything else on the matter, he was thoroughly silenced when Ichigo grabbed either side of his handsome face and hauled him in for an electrifying, burning locking of their lips, powerful as their first after all this time and all the proof needed that no one could kiss like he did and there never would be. Ichigo was actually out of breath when he at last broke away, opening his eyes to see the bastard's broad, arrogant grin gleaming down at him. "I really hate you sometimes, you know that?" he sighed, letting his heels slip back to the floor.
"You make it too easy, sweetheart. It's almost as if you purposefully forget that I'm a lawyer."
"Hmm, maybe I should go to law school then," Ichigo mused, wondering if then he would be able to catch on to his blue-haired lover's little tricks. "Or maybe send Kayah instead. That way when she graduates whenever you start whining for me for whatever reason I can just refer you to my attorney."
"I like the idea of that, the lil' brat'd be a killer in the courtroom," Grimmjow said thoughtfully and Ichigo rolled his eyes as he could only imagine the images rolling through the man's head of an adult Kayah tearing witnesses a new one and destroying the prosecutor's case just like her father.
"I'm coming down the stairs now!" the still little girl yelled from the upstairs landing. "Are you guys watching? You didn't tell Mom the secret, right Daddy? Is he going to like it even though he didn't come with us?"
"Yeah, c'mon down so he can see, pumpkin," Grimmjow called up to where she was no doubt waiting and inviting her to make her grand entrance, which she definitely took advantage of to show off the runway walks and poses she'd recently learned studying an America's Next Top Model marathon. Kayah may have gotten her looks from Ichigo but her abundance of confidence and attitude, that all came from her dad.
She skipped down the first few steps, then struck a pose with one arm out to the side and a hand on her hip, batting her eyelashes and pursing her lips like the supermodels she mimicked. Taking in the costume she and Grimmjow had picked out, Ichigo was torn between laughing and tearing up and due to his off the chart imbalanced hormone levels ended up sort of doing both. He knew it was totally unlike him to have such a reaction but he couldn't find it in him to care.
The outfit Kayah was modeling for him was a bright orange strapless dress she wore over a black leotard covering her arms and legs. Sewn onto the front of the dress was a smiling jack o' lantern face and the collar and straps were green, her festive socks peeping out from her usual Mary Janes. A thin headband was holding her tangerine locks away from her face, a small, glittery emerald ribbon circle fixated on it slightly to the left. She stopped almost at the bottom of the stairs, dropping character to scowl heavily at her father.
"Daddy, you said you'd get the camera! Now I have to go up and do it all over again," Kayah scolded the man, crossing her arms and stomping her foot.
"Christ, she looks just like you when she does that," Grimmjow murmured so that only Ichigo could hear, the latter not seeing the resemblance at all. He never frowned all poutily like that.
"No, Kayah, we have to leave now for the party. You and your dad can have a photoshoot when we get back," he said, beckoning for the child to get off of the stairs and follow him to the front door and ignoring the incredulous expression on his lover's face at being sentenced to such a fate. "Get your sweater and your jack o' lantern to put your candy in. Come on, your cousins are already over there waiting for you." Ichigo pulled the girl's sweater off where it hung on a set of hooks on the wall beside the door and handed it to her, referring to Nel's five daughters as 'cousins' since the two families had only grown closer in the six years Kayah had been alive.
"Wait! I got you guys costumes to wear, too," the smaller orangette announced, prompting Ichigo to arch an eyebrow as he pictured what in God's name Grimmjow allowed her to buy. Kayah dug inside a blue party store bag he'd missed up until then, yanking out a large black hat that had purple feathery trimming the wide brim. "See, this one is for you."
"Oh, a... witch's hat," Ichigo said, taking the garish thing and smiling at his daughter. "Thank you, sweetie."
He would've lamented facing a night wearing the witch's hat, something both ugly and made for women (yes, despite technically being a mother he continued to consider himself very much a man if that wasn't too hard for people to wrap their minds around,) but that lasted 'till he saw what his Kayah had chosen especially for Grimmjow.
"I had to buy cat ears for Daddy because when he sleeps on the couch he makes noises like when they purr. It was l-... lo-gi-cal," she said, sounding out one of her vocabulary words from school.
"You are too smart, Kayah," Ichigo praised, running a hand through her soft hair and turning the knob of the front door to pry it open. The six-year old didn't hesitate before hopping out onto the porch and then down each step, eager to join the festivities happening in the central part of the reservation. Reaching for the same suede, fringed Cherokee-style jacket he'd worn the last time he outgrew his regular clothes, Ichigo hurried to put it on over his pullover sweater and corduroys. He made to bend over next to stuff his feet into his pair of Timberland boots, cringing when he reached the angle where it became rather uncomfortable with his protruding stomach and then huffing frustratedly.
"I'll get 'em," Grimmjow insisted, stepping around him and then lowering to one knee at his feet. The orange-haired male didn't waste his breath protesting he could do it for himself - he clearly couldn't and they were running low on time anyway.
"Thanks," he mumbled, checking his pocket to make sure he had his phone in there as Grimmjow's capable hands slid the boots onto his feet and began tightening the laces bottom to top.
"Hey Ichi, you do know you can tell me if you're not feeling up for this, right? I don't want you to force yourself to go 'cause you think you have to, it's just a Halloween party," the blue-haired man said matter of factly, never taking his eyes from where he was tying the laces and clearly trying not to incite the other's erratic nerves. Fortunately, he was speaking to a fairly normal Ichigo, who understood the concern behind Grimmjow's words.
"It's more than that to me," Ichigo whispered, gaining his kneeling lover's full attention. "I can barely recall the Halloweens I got to spend with my mom but I can remember every one I had without her perfectly. All of the class parties, the costume dances, the trick or treating, every Halloween after she died, her absence was everywhere. No matter how much fun I had, I couldn't escape that black hole I saw wherever she would've been. You get used to it, but it never gets any better and I am going to make damn sure my daughter never knows what that feels like. So... are you going to put the cat ears on so we can go or what?"
Straightening up to his full height, Grimmjow swept in for an unexpected kiss so intoxicatingly potent it nearly had Ichigo on the floor by the time the blunette swiftly ended it, drawing himself backwards so that the other realized the liplock had been a distraction to place the purple-feathered witch's hat on his unsuspecting head. However, watching Grimmjow jam the cat ear headband onto his own head, he just smiled.
They drove through the forested reservation roads in Ichigo's prized El Camino at Kayah's revelation it was painted the traditional Halloween colors, turning into the diner's parking lot twenty minutes later. All of the local families were gathered outside, the white wraparound porch decorated with black and orange streamers, spider webs, and strings of lights shaped like skulls. Flying out of the backseat, Kayah barreled straight toward the huddle of texting green-haired girls, her 'cousins.'" Grimmjow and Ichigo exited the car at a more stately pace, the latter picking out the girls' father and Nelliel's husband, Coyote Starrk, fast asleep in one of the rocking chairs and not fooling anyone with the lowered brim of his pirate tri-corner hat.
"Ichigo, there you are!" Nel's cheery voice rang out, the woman herself standing on the porch, where a table had been set up to serve punch, cookies, chips, and other party finger foods, and waving madly whilst bounding across the entire throng of people. Seriously, a working mother of five married to an undiagnosed narcoleptic should not have that kind of energy. "We've been waiting for you to show up forever, and oh my God we have the same hat!"
Regrettably, Nelliel did in fact wear with her long, raggedy black dress the exact same model of feathered witch hat atop her wavy, sea-foam tresses. Ichigo gave a half-hearted chuckle, unsurprised when his friend wrapped an arm around his shoulders and began leading him the way over to the porch. He glanced back at Grimmjow, observing that he was trailing behind them at a distance he could keep an eye on both Ichigo and Kayah, per usual.
"You three are right in time for the kids' costume parade, they're going to line them up in a minute or two, I think," Nel chatted casually as they strolled intertwined back to where the woman had been manning the refreshment table. "So, what's new in the Kurosaki-Jaegerjaques household? I haven't talked to you in, what, three days? Ah, I miss the good ol' days when I saw you everyday at the house and the diner and we used to drive back and forth together..."
"Yeah, what a time to be alive," Ichigo murmured, having flashbacks of riding in that station wagon with its deafening sing alongs, a driver he made sure to constantly check was still awake, and all of that green hair... "But nothing's really happened since I talked to you on the phone the other day. Same old, same old."
"Oh you always make everything seem so boring," Nelliel said dismissively, moving her hand from the orangette's shoulder to lock their arms together once they started ascending the porch steps. "How's the 'finding your zen' thing coming along? I can't imagine that to be too easy with Grimmy in the house, he's always been too... easily excitable, you could say."
"Right, Nelly, I'm the one that gets excited too easily."
Actually, Ichigo believed it was a family trait that had been passed onto both of them... and his unborn child.
"See what I mean?" Nel whispered under her breath before turning her head in the direction of where her blue-haired cousin sneered at her ten feet behind. "Grimmjow, be a lamb and go grab more ice out of the freezer."
Ichigo disguised his snort of laughter as a cough at the sight of his lover glaring at the greenette a few seconds and then slinking off to the back of the diner where the refrigeration units were stored. Nevertheless, he decided to ask Nelliel later if she and her brood could watch Kayah for a few hours this coming weekend so that he could bring Grimmjow to the river to go spearfishing one more time 'till winter's frost. Not only could he definitely enjoy an afternoon alone in the woods with the blunette but Grimmjow deserved to be spoiled a little like the man did he and their daughter.
"Ichigo, look, they're starting!" Nel cried, spinning them both about face so they could see where the reservation's schoolteachers were organizing their students by grade in order from youngest to oldest. His eyes were instinctively drawn to the beginning of the line and a few preschoolers and kindergartners in was the brightly hued head of his Kayah, standing along with the other first graders. "Oh, she's so precious in that pumpkin dress. I can't believe the way little girls grow up so fast... Honey, get out of that chair and use the camera I gave to you to take pictures of your niece and daughters!"
Ichigo would've chuckled at the sight of Starrk jerking awake upon heating his wife yelling at him but was distracted by the buzzing sensation in his jacket pocket as his phone vibrated. He drew it out to see who was calling him and getting a little jolt upon seeing "Dr. U" light up on the screen. Swiping his thumb over the green arrow to answer, he pressed the phone to his ear and uttered a tentative "Hello?"
"Hi Mr. Kurosaki, it's Dr. Unohana calling. I hope I'm not interrupting any Halloween plans," his obstetrician specializing in 'Carrier' pregnancies greeted him pleasantly.
"No, no, I have time to talk," Ichigo hastened to say, making sure the woman stayed on the phone with him. "Is there something in particular you're calling about?"
"Ah, yes. I was analyzing your ultrasound reel again this afternoon and I noticed something you may want to know," she said, making the orangette's stomach drop. "It's not anything negative, either, so no need to worry. It actually explains why your hormone levels have been fluctuating so much lately."
"All right, and what exactly is 'it'?" Ichigo asked.
"Well 'it's' a baby. Another one, I mean," Dr. Unohana said, giggling like a schoolgirl.
"What do you mean 'another one'?"
"I mean you're having twins, Mr. Kurosaki. Congratulations! Now we-"
Ichigo didn't hear anything else the doctor said, actually dropping the phone as he froze in that position, forgetting how to even blink as he tried to process shock of the news. Apparently this lasted a while because the next thing he knew Grimmjow was shaking him back into reality.
"Ichi, you in there? Say something, anything," the man was saying to him and so he said the first word he could think of.
"Two," he uttered, the number currently imprinted in his brain. "Two, Grimmjow! As in two of them, two babies!"
"What are you talking about? We-"
"I'm talking about twins! The doctor just told me over the phone she saw on the ultrasound I'm having twins," Ichigo said, still unable to believe it. "We're having twins."
He'd thought his reaction to the news had been extreme until he watched Grimmjow's eyes roll up in the back of his head and abruptly fall heavier than a sack of bricks onto the porch.
When she would relive childhood memories later in life, that Halloween Kayah Kurosaki would always remember as the one when her dad passed out before the costume parade had even started.
A/N: Ah, fluff. So much indulgence in this guilty pleasure will catch up to me one day, I'm sure. But it was fun writing more to the original story and remembering the sweeter side to Halloween.
To Live For?
An alternate ending to To Die For by caribouandcake
Ichigo's heart twisted wretchedly as he flung himself to the fallen body of his beloved, arms pitifully clinging to his love's shoulders in a desperate attempt to hold his ivory lover close. Fingers clinging and wrinkling fine silk he shifted upwards, tear-swollen eyes falling upon pools of purest molten gold. He saw the pain on Shiro's beautiful face, saw his bared teeth clenched tight, saw the blood splatter on what was once pristine white skin. His shaky hands slowly unclenched from Shiro's stiff shoulders and laid shakily against cool cheeks, thumbs tracing the skin under magnificent eyes.
"Do not leave me, my dear!" he cried in anguish, his cheeks burning from the flow of hot, burning tears falling like small streams. He knew then that Shiro could not speak, the pain too great for even an astral being such as his prince. His hands went to silken ash hair and stroked it lovingly, before moving to grasp the wooden stake plunged so heartlessly into his beloved's chest. His eyes did not leave his demon's own as he, as gently as one possibly could in this sort of thing, pulled it out, ignoring those pitiful sounds of pain in the back of his moon prince's throat.
"Stay with me..." he whispered, hefting the demon's upper body up and to his chest as he sat, face pressing against the crook of his prince's neck. He felt long fingers wind weakly into his hair, rubbing and soothing, still caring about him even as he was at death's door.
Ichigo felt the tears flow freely just then, his body shuddering as he held back those horrid noises he refused to make. He felt blood seeping into his clothes and staining his skin. It was something he never, ever wanted to feel, or see ever again. Not after that, not ever. He nuzzled the cold flesh he was resting against, lacing his fingers into ash hair and tugging lightly.
Minutes passed, his love's life slipping further and further away from him until he thought that it was simply hopeless for them, the horror of losing Shiro creeping up his spine and making him shudder near violently.
Just then the chapel lit up magnificently in ethereal light, great, rich golds bright and terrifying, Ichigo's red-rimmed eyes wide as he gazed around the great room in both awe and horror. He held Shiro yet closer, fearing whatever's wrath was to descend upon himself or his prince.
But, in fact, it did the exact opposite of what he feared.
Shiro's deathly wound, right before his eyes, slowly started to mend itself, the inhuman being's body convulsing against his own. He quickly set him down and stared in disbelief as shiro's near-lifely hands regained movement and gripped the front of his clothes as the wound closed yet further, his eyes squeezing shut as he bared his sharp teeth... that began to shrink, as if they were becoming... human. Minutes passed, the process of both the wound healing and apparent... reversal seeming excruciating to the demon.
Had God forgiven him? Was he going to spare him? Let him live, there, with him?
And then, finally, it was over. Shiro only had his usual demonic looks, no longer the vampiric demon he once was. Ichigo couldn't hold back the sob at the sight of his beautiful prince, human once more, his body trembling in exertion as he gently lay down against his love's chest. Eyes fluttering at the beginning of warmth under his cheek he was quickly lulled into a blissful sleep.
Warmth. It was the first thing he felt. and it wasn't just from something else's body. Then he felt something soft under his fingertips, and something heavy on his chest. His eyes fluttered, and for once he could not see so clearly. Eyes slowly, shifting downwards, as painful as it was, he was met with pure orange, the color making him the happiest he'd been in many, many years.
And then, he realized that he was human.
Eyes wide, he grasped onto the limp body laying on him and slowly sat up, holding onto that warmth in his arms. After a few seconds his eyes closed and he shifted Ichigo up , lips pressing against his forehead.
"You were mine then.. and now, you still are..." he murmured. He then gathered him into his arms and slowly stood up, stumbling slightly from the sudden change. "I am weak now... I cannot keep them from taking you, but I will die before I see that happen." He then ascended the grand stairs, to hide his beloved and himself.
Grimmjow had had enough. It'd been hours since Ichigo had disappeared behind those doors, and Urahara had refused them access to the damned place. To give Ichigo time or whatever. He glared over at the insane doctor, as well as Ichigo's brothers. They were surprisingly calm about everything, and he hated it.
With a glare that told them to keep shut and not follow him he got up and stalked to the grand doors. Behind him there was no protest.
He ventured into the castle, following the heavy blood trail to the great hall, where he saw the bloodied stake, but no body. Ichigo was not there, and he couldn't tell if he had even been there. He searched an searched, but could not find him anywhere on the first floor. Grimmjow gripped two fistfulls of bright blue hair and tugged, growling low in his throat. Upstairs was the next best bet. So there he went, and the first place he checked, was the last place he checked.
Grimmjow had gone to what he knew to be Dracula's room, if the large, heavy-set and intricately detailed doors were anything to go by. He pushed the double doors open, the heavy things hitting the wall with an echoing bang.
What he saw then made him growl. Dracula was sat up in the middle of the lush bed- alive -, silken sheets pooled around his waist. He stared at him with indifference, eyes calm. Furthermore, Ichigo's -his Ichigo's head was rested in his lap, the oranget fast in a deep sleep. He looked fully content, laying there, sleeping right next to that blasted demon.
"I see you have found us." the demon said.
"You have no right to use 'us' when it concerns Ichigo."
"So you say."
"Why the hell aren't you dead?" He growled.
"God has forgiven me, so in turn he has healed me, my sins forgotten."
"What the hell do you mean?"
"... I shall tell you a story, then."
"Like hell I'm going to lis-"
"Let me speak."
"You might know that I have lived many years. More than a mortal should, in the very least. But you do not know the reason for my damnation of lonely, endless years until now." He watched the demon pause, gold eyes looking down to Ichigo.
"I was a warrior once. I fought for my god... and my beloved. It was a dark time nonetheless, then. The world was just coming together. But me and my love prospered, our love greater than any obstacle. One day I had gone out to battle with a promise to be back... back to him. I had won the battle, killed all those who dared to try and kill me." The demon's hand was now caressing Ichigo's beautiful hair with the most tender touch. "But they sought revenge against me. They sent a letter to my love... stating that I had been killed in the battle. It was too much for him and he threw himself off of the one of the towers of this very castle in grief, and died in suicide. I returned to find my beloved dead, the preacher cursing his soul to damnation. In anger I abandoned my god and vowed to avenge my love. I became the monster you have known me as, in order to avenge him. I have lived with that decision for hundreds of years, my faith in my love returning never wavering, and now my love has returned to me..." The demon closed his eyes before looking to him. "Kill me if you must, but I will die before I leave my love to another."
"You... love him so much to live a cursed life, for his sake?" He would do the same, he thought, and the demon's madness suddenly had a plausible reason.
"I no longer have my cursed life. For the first time in countless years, I may feel, may age. But yes, without a second's thought. Nothing is greater that my love for him. I suppose you know how I feel? The one thing you do not know, however, is a love that has lasted as long as mine and has yet to complete it's growth." He brought Ichigo's body up and bent over as he brushed the oranget's bangs out of the way, and pressed a soft, yet meaningful kiss to his forehead. "My final wish is fulfilled with this kiss. If you wish to kill me now, you may. I am oh so tired, and if my longing to finally grow old and die with my love is not possible, do not make me live out the rest of my wretched life alone in this castle. I have lived alone long enough.
"I... will not kill you. I see the love you hold for him, and how long you have held it. I have seen how rich that love is now. He returns that love to you just as much. I will set him free, to you, for he was never mine. Just remember that if he ever steps from your side I will be there to snatch him away, take back what I wish for my own, demon." That said Grimmjow quickly turned and left, leaving a rather surprised demon-turned-human staring after him.
He would always love Ichigo, the oranget would never leave his heart or mind, but despite the pain he would live well in knowing that Ichigo was happy.
He told the kurosaki brothers and that insane doctor that he had set their bird free to fly wherever he may wish, and that he would return to them if he truly wanted to. The brothers had left with much difficulty.
Next Ichigo's eyes opened he was met with warm golden eyes, and the just beginnings of morning rays peeking through the heavy curtains. "Shi...ro...?" he murmured.
"Tis I, dear." the albino answered, and the oranget smiled softly and reached a hand up to trace a pale cheek bone. "You will stay with me forever, right?" he asked.
"Even in death shall we love." Dracula announced, and it was as said. They loved and lived, Dracula finally able to live in peace, with not only himself but with his brilliant lover, forever a beacon of love in his life and a ray of sunshine and warmth for all those who have had the chance to see him.
A/N Oh my god this was nearly not finished in time! I only hope that it brings a new light to that magnificent piece and puts those hearts that were still in unease to rest. Tell me if I did it justice!
People in all four corners of this earth, in every continent, in every country, in every city, constantly search for a purpose to their life, something greater than them. Sadly, most of them never fulfill that desire and try to fill the void with whatever they can throw inside it.
People also die, every day, every hour, every minute, and as they take their last breath they wonder if their time here was truly worth anything and what they will find on the other side. None ever really know the answer to their most desperate queries, or if they'd will be answered at all, until that moment their beating heart stops in their mortal death.
But there are the rare ones out there who'd tell them all to shut the hell up and just stay dead or else they'd blast them with a round of rock salt, dig up their graves, douse everything with lighter fluid, light a match, and watch it burn to make sure of it.
They're really out there too, these mercenaries of the unknown war eternally raging on right around you, quiet and devastating. Few and far between, they choose to remain in the shadows, hidden from men and living with monsters. They banish and destroy creatures born from darkness twenty four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year, to keep you safe in your warm, comfy bed at night. They are everything this world doesn't know it needs.
Yet they are human. They are not brave because they know no fear but because they embrace it. They are not untouchable, they bleed, they die, the physical scars they bear nothing like those underneath the surface. They are the ones burdened by the crushing weight of that greater purpose the naive think desirable. They are the heroes damned to save us.
They are Hunters.
In a cheap motel at a truck stop a few miles south of Just Another Small Town, Wyoming, one of these Hunters blearily opened his eyes for the first time that day to see the world pitching him back and forth. "Oh Sleepin' Beauty, yer prince's come..." a silvery voice sang somewhere above the newly awakened young man of nineteen years, tangerine tresses, and an incredible hatred of mornings. This hatred was not eased any by the fact someone was standing on the edge of his bed and holding onto the ceiling so they could bounce the springy mattress up and down.
"Tell 'im to get back on 'is horse and come back later, much, much later."
"'S almost half past eleven, Ichi," sighed the other, also a man, who didn't know how old he was, with long locks curling over his shoulders pale as his ghostly white skin that glimmered in the sunlight streaming through the motel room's dingy window. His colorless complexion had actually been the inspiration for when he'd given himself a name years ago - Shiro. "C'mon, am bored 'ere all by my lonesome."
"Then go play with your knives or somethin'," Ichigo murmured sleepily, blindly gesturing out into space before yanking the comforter over his head. He felt it when Shiro jumped off the bed and scowled irritably when ebony-nailed fingers clutched onto his only defense, ready when the albino tried pulling it back to cling on for his life. "Shi', can't you give me just five more minutes? I know you guys can sleep for like three hours every night but I'm an actual human being, I need sleep, I like sleep!"
The two men now sprawled on the mattress and wrestling for control of the comforter, just on opposite sides, Shiro detected the outline of that squirming body. His grin widened once he remembered Ichigo was still only dressed in boxers, finally tugging the fabric out of the orangette's grip and flinging the bundle off of the bed. "Ah, looks like I win this round, mah sweet," he crooned, kneeling above the alluring figure revealed to him.
"I didn't hear any bell," Ichigo said, taking advantage of the arrangement, hooked his leg around Shiro's knee and grabbed onto his shoulders, thrusting him none too gently onto his back. They landed in reversed positions and the orange-haired male liked the view from up top, never building up any sort of immunity to the dazzling, ivory splendor of Shiro's physical appearance. He loved the devilish smirk on that divine face, those inverted eyes that were like staring fathoms deep at cursed treasure at the bottom of a black sea. He adored the numerous studs in Shiro's ears and those snakebite silver hoops piercing his lush lower lip and how he would run his dark blue tongue over them...
The motel room door suddenly creaking open had both men whipping their heads to where an imposing figure of six feet three inches filled the entryway, pausing midstep at being greeted at the suggestive sight and then proceeded to cross the threshold, leaning back against the door as it fell shut.
"Hey, don't stop on my account. TV's shot, anyway, so I need something to watch over breakfast," Grimmjow Jaegerjaques, the third member of their 'traveling party', said dressed in his usual jeans, favorite beat up leather motorcycle jacket, and dark gray Timberlands, he grinned toothily at the pair and threw his keys into the bowl beside him. Blue-haired with overwhelming sex appeal and as obsessed with the hunt as he'd been on Day One, he'd since proved himself as amazing a lover as he was a fighter. Cocky as Shiro and stubborn as Ichigo, he was the perfect element to stabilize their three-sided relationship, living something supposed to be impossible like it was natural as breathing - in more than one way.
Everything had just happened as if it were meant to, leading them all to each other, as cliche as that sounds.
It had all begun over a decade ago, when a ten year-old Grimmjow had witnessed his mother become possessed by a demon, the image of her face twisted into a cruel sneer and eyes flickering completely black he couldn't ever forget. Once the demon was finished with her and forced itself out of her body in a column of crackling ebony smoke expelled through her mouth, his mother then collapsed and the boy had knelt beside her the excruciating five minutes it took for her to die - the crucifix she'd pressed into his palm that final one always tucked safely under his collar. Grimmjow hadn't moved from that spot on the floor until a woman had burst into their apartment half an hour later.
He supposed as a Hunter Kukkaku Shiba had felt responsible for him from then on, immediately taking him in when he'd had nowhere else to go. She wasn't a gentle or extremely maternal woman but Grimmjow had responded well to her brusque, straight-talking personality, eagerly learning the basics of defending himself from the paranormal as she taught them to him. A year passed and then he'd been awoken in the middle of the night by the sounds of Kukkaku returning home several hours early, grabbing the shotgun under his bed to check it out.
The blunette had soon discovered the reason why the woman had cut her trip short upon walking into the kitchen where another boy around his age with a mop of bright orange hair and bruised and scraped all over had been sitting at the counter. 'Who're you?' he'd demanded of the other child only for the same question to be spat right back at him. Yeah, remembering that now, Grimmjow could say he and Ichigo hadn't liked each other much at first, even though he'd overhead Kukkaku telling someone on the phone the boy had been at home with his parents when a group of demons had attacked and she'd arrived just in time to save Ichigo, the only survivor.
It'd taken months for them to build up any sort of camaraderie as they were raised under Kukkaku's strict tutelage, both of them intent on becoming a Hunter due to their horrific pasts that really had chosen them for the ranks. Bonding over target practice and their mutual status of outcasts at school, they'd formed an actual friendship and grew up from those two scared little boys into capable young men more skilled and more trained than a Special Forces unit.
Their first hunt on their own together had been when it happened. The past year Grimmjow had been pretending not to notice how stunningly gorgeous Ichigo had come to be, his eighteen-year old libido nearly driving him to the brink of insanity at consistently being so close to the orangette yet forced to act on his desires solely in his dreams. However, his mind had been focused on the werewolf they'd stalked under the full moon to a shack on the outskirts of town.
It had also been Grimmjow's first and only experience of making the mistake of being too trigger happy while hunting, his excitement getting the best of him, and without waiting for Ichigo's signal he'd charged in, guns blazing. Imagine his surprise when since he hadn't allowed them the proper amount of time to scope out the area and reassess, there in the shack were not one but two werewolvesand he'd quickly realized he'd just put a silver bullet through the brain of the first's girlfriend.
As he'd soared back against the wall so hard he'd been stunned when he'd heard Ichigo call out his name and then follow him inside unsuspectingly. Though he hadn't fully recovered from the blow to the back of his head, Grimmjow had been able to watch a slow motion, blurred version of the werewolf charging at the orangette, who'd shot two rounds at the thing yet it hadn't even blinked as the bullets tore into its shoulder and upper leg. The wolf had leapt onto Ichigo so they'd crashed to the ground in a snarling, struggling heap.
Grimmjow could replay that moment perfectly, when he'd finally understood what older Hunters meant by that sudden feeling of mental clarity in the heat of battle. He hadn't thought about it at all and then he'd seen his boot colliding with the werewolf's ugly head, stomping on its throat to pin it down so he could aim a silver bullet right between the eyes.
Neither he nor Ichigo could explain exactly what had happened after that except it'd started with a kiss and then some stuff happened and then they were steaming up the windows in the backseat of Grimmjow's new '67 Chevy Impala.
They'd Hunted throughout the Continental United States for a year 'till they'd quite literally come face to face with the bewitching Shiro. It'd been a meeting to remember, even for men in their line of work. Ichigo and Grimmjow had driven down into the Deep South to deal with a vampire nest that was rapidly growing in new members and death tolls, their clubhouse a wharf on the river surrounded by nothing but water and forest for miles.
They'd inevitably gotten themselves into the thick of things, taking out the horde of vamps by hand in the middle of the nest while the heavens poured down torrents of rain. It'd seemed as if the vampires had just kept coming in droves and the two men had been backed up against the edge of the wharf's deck by three of the nastier bloodsuckers.
And then there was merely a smooth metallic hiss of a slicing blade, three heads rolling off of the bodies sinking like stones then along the wooden deck and into the river with a small splash.
'Mah humblest apologies fer cuttin' in like this, but I 'eard there were some vamps 'round here an' this lil' mama was jus' dyin' ta sing tanight," Shiro had said, standing there in the rain in only a pair of ripped jeans and stroking the edge of his machete fondly, dozens of decapitated corpses littering the ground behind him.
Needless to say, it'd been love at first sight all around and they'd never had to say anything about their hasty development into a three-sided relationship because it was passionate and sweet and thrilling and about as close to perfection any mere mortals would ever know. A social phenomena perhaps but it was real.
"Don't start being a smug asshole this early unless you have coffee," Ichigo said with all seriousness, face lighting up as he spotted the styrofoam cup in Grimmjow's hand. He was across the room within the second, taking the steaming elixir of the gods and greedily gulping down a piping hot mouthful. It was just straight up black coffee but that was just the way he liked it and he hummed in delight, strolling over to the little kitchenette area where there was a table, two chairs, and a microwave.
What he was really moving over there for, however, was his thick paperback on the history of medieval Romania still lying open upside down on the table where he'd left it the night before. He'd been tearing through it ever since yesterday afternoon when he'd finished the volume on theological modernism.
Catching the scent of something overloaded with sugar in the air, Shiro decided to slide off the bed and sidle his way to the blunette, holding out an elegant hand once he was close enough to touch the well-built man but not. "So, wha'd ya bring fer me, huh?" he asked liltingly in the sumptuous voice he knew Grimmjow loved to hear.
"Only the best for you, babe," the taller man answered, leaning forward and holding up a small paper bag into which Shiro eagerly looked, running his tongue along his upper lip at seeing his beloved powdered jelly donuts. He loved all sweets, so much so he refused to eat anything else, but these were his absolute favorite. Plucking one from the bag, he ran a fingertip along the top so that he swept up some of the powdered sugar and prompty pressed it to lay over Grimmjow's mouth, painting the sweet stuff onto the other's lips. Shiro pulled the man by his hair toward his face, managing to lick a bit right off until Grimmjow took control, turning it into a hungry kiss that the albino allowed to last a few good seconds until he broke them apart.
"Am gonna get tha' gals out fer a polish 'fore we leave," Shiro said, spinning on his heel and heading for the army green duffle bag sitting on the dresser. "It is a holiday, after all. They 'ave to be lookin' their best fer tha big night out."
"Holiday?" Ichigo repeated skeptically, arching a brow over the page he was reading. He couldn't remember there being anything special about that day. Then again, he wasn't sure what the exact date was...
"Not surprising," Grimmjow said, rolling his eyes and plunking down in the seat across from the endearingly clueless beauty. "You're bound to be oblivious to the real world when you've got your nose always stuck in a book. And it's the thirty-first today, you know... Halloween?"
"Ya better 'ave found somethin' good fer us ta do as a family celebrating tha day all Hell's supposed ta break loose," Shiro informed the blunette, unfurling the leather encasing his prized collection of blades on one of the mattresses and sighing dramatically. "Even though it doesn', it never hurts ta pretend."
"Yeah, did you find any possible jobs? It's been three days since we killed that Wendigo," Ichigo asked as well, lowering his book expectantly.
"I got something that seems worthwhile a few hours away across the state line." Grimmjow reached under his jacket for the folded newspaper he'd tucked into the back of his jeans and dropping it on the table.
"Five teenage girls have been found dead in the last week and a half in front of a tree at this 'haunted house', and this isn't the first time it's happened. Apparently every twenty-five years a few girls that age die the same way when it gets close to Halloween. There's a legend that a witch lived in the house and cursed the town mentioned somewhere in the article. Then there's an actual tragedy that happened there a hundred years ago, a preacher that killed his three daughters after his wife died so the town hung him from the tree that's still on the property."
"Hmm... can I drive?" Ichigo said, skimming over the newspaper's front page.
"Hurry up and get everything packed if we want to make sure no one else dies, then. Everyone meet in the car in twenty minutes," Ichigo instructed, his natural tendency to boss his two lovers around coming out, and strode over to the bathroom, grabbing a change of clothes on his way in. "And I did know today was Halloween, I just have more important things to think about than candy and scary movies like an actual adult!" he announced and the shut the door forcefully.
"Much luck ta ya up in tha front seat now that he's in a mood, Grimm darlin'," Shiro chuckled fondly. "Our lil' spitfire's been known ta get a lil' snappy wit' ya up there when ya ask 'im fer road head in traffic."
"Tch, you do something one time..." Grimmjow grumbled to himself. "Or twice if we count what we did the other day being 'during traffic'. "
"Hmm, it doesn' count 'cause we were in tha Wendy's parkin' lot."
"Oh, that's right. So what does that count as then?" the blunette asked.
"Probably as havin' sex in tha Wendy's parkin' lot."
Four hours later all three men and their stuff were packed into the Impala and doing seventy down the only road that led to their destination, making good time considering they wanted to get there before sunset.
Grimmjow was driving, because no one else was ever allowed in the driver's seat except him and they should all feel honored he even let them inside his baby. One hand on the original vintage steering wheel and the other on the stick shift on which he tapped his fingers to the beat of Blue Oyster Cults "Don't Fear The Reaper" playing from a cassette tape older than he was.
In the passenger seat was Ichigo, who'd thrown on a hunter green cargo jacket, corduroys and a pair of tan hiking boots. In his lap was a pile of photocopies he'd made of historical documents at the state library while Grimmjow kept the librarian distracted a half hour ago.
And stretched out casually in the backseat was Shiro, now wearing a scarlet and gray flannel coat and red camouflage hunting boots along with his ripped jeans due to his youngest lover's insistence and Grimmjow's whispered promise of a reward if he just obliged. The albino also was enjoying the multiplied places for him to hide his knives from plain view thanks to the extra coverage, thirteen blades secured on his person at the moment.
Shiro was doing his share of the work proper research required, his computer open on his lap so that he could browse at his own pace the contents of the confidential files he'd obtained after a few minutes navigating through the uncharted site he didn't understand why the Federal Bureau Agency tried so hard to keep private. "Ya findin' anythin', Ichi?"
"Not much," Ichigo confessed, rubbing the back of his neck. "There is something documented here about a single woman building the house herself in the early 1800's. It only has her initials, T.H., on the deed but I think this might be the witch in that legend. It would make sense that people back then would believe she was strange to live there by herself and where she got the money from to build it."
"That's a hundred years before the preacher and his family moved in. She was probably less of a witch and more of a repressed lesbian." Grimmjow chuckled under his breath, anticipating for the orangette to ignore him entirely.
"I've got a little more on that man and his daughters, their death certificates were all on file. Apparently the preacher's name was... Kensei Muguruma, and the girls were, in order, Rukia, Karin, and Ururu. They were seventeen, twelve, and ten when they were murdered," Ichigo said, the tragic revelation leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. "It actually says here he beat and strangled them to death, which is how those teenage girls are being killed."
There was a photograph, too, taken of the man and his three daughters all in black clothes in front of what must have been the casket at the mother's funeral. Though the girls had dark, petite features, Muguruma had short hair that could've been gray and his eyes were lighter too. Even in a picture his gaze emanated anger, like there was an eternal rage burning inside him. Ichigo shuffled the photograph under the other papers, not liking the unease he experienced looking at it.
"Yea', an' branded too, like fuckin' cattle," Shiro added. "Seems someone wants ta put out some sorta message."
"You got the autopsy reports on there?" Grimmjow confirmed more than questioned, easing up off the gas when he spotted the sign that said their exit was coming up.
"Lookin' at tha pictures righ' now, they took an entire album 'a the brandings on these dead chicks' arms. I don' know wha' they're supposed ta mean and nothin' came up anywhere online," the albino said, shifting closer to the front seat. "Ichi, yer good wit' runes an' symbols, maybe ya'll know what this is."
Craning his head back, Ichigo peered at the computer screen and the digital image taken of the victim's left inner forearm that had to have been burned close to when she'd died, the scalded flesh a livid red and slightly raised. The mark left behind surprised him, thinking it was like something a young woman would get tattooed there and not the painful branding accompanying these teenagers' increasingly bizarre deaths. What kind of murderous intent was declared by the symbol of a crescent moon within a finely detailed circle of intertwined budding flowers?
"It just looks like a pretty little design to me, which doesn't fit our vengeful preacher theory. Maybe we should try to reinvestigate the witch legend..."
"Mm, there isn' much else ta go on 'cept this interview wit' a friend 'a the victims. She jus' cries 'bout how amazin' they all were an' so on but she does say all of 'em were in serious relationships' an' they were 'regularly engaging in sexual activities.'"
"That puts the ball back in preacher man's court," Grimmjow said. "Preying on promiscuous girls in the name of his religion could be his motive."
Ichigo sank down into his seat, wanting to say he felt as if they were missing something somewhere but he had nothing to back that up with besides a gut feeling. He glanced at the papers on his lap and pushed them onto the floor, mentally noting to get rid of that photograph as quickly as he could without either Grimm or Shiro noticing. He hated the chilling sensation creeping up his spine at the thought of Muguruma's burning eyes on him.
They stopped at a diner on the town's main street for an early dinner before sunset, used to the looks they got as strangers in a place where everyone knew each other and again when Shiro ordered a hot fudge sundae with extra sprinkles for his meal.
Food finished and paid for in twenty minutes, they got back in the car for the drive to the very outer edge of the town limits where the preacher's house was situated on an acre of cleared land in the wooded area, the towering black ash tree greeting them first with its bare, twisted branches. Grimmjow pulled the Impala over to the side of the road, centering the stick shift and turning the key in the ignition to shut off the engine.
"So that's it, huh? Looks like it should've been condemned long before we got here," he said as they all studied the dilapidated structure about a hundred yards in from the road. Probably abandoned for decades and therefore beyond repair, the narrow two story wooden house was adorned in chipped white paint, splintered steps, and boarded up windows.
"Let's concentrate on what we came here to do and not give the place a full homeowner's inspection, okay?" Ichigo couldn't prevent himself from snapping, regretting it immediately afterwards when the two other men's eyes darted over to him. Pretending like nothing had happened, the orangette hurriedly opened his door and leapt out of the car.
Grimmjow and Shiro exchanged a brief look and then followed suit, the latter letting the blunette to clear the area so he could move from the back seat to the front where the door was. Ichigo was waiting for them beside the trunk, shoulders stiff and his arms folded in an obviously wary stance, which was confusing as he'd faced far worse than spirits in his hunting experience.
Unlocking the trunk and popping it open, Grimmjow revealed the traveling armory the three Hunters had amassed over the years into an extensive catalogue. Firearms and bladed weapons of all sizes were strapped along the lid and sides while the duffle bags carrying bags of salt, rope, possession charms, two flasks of holy water, blessed iron and silver rounds, crucifixes, salt shells, bandoliers, about seven rosaries, rock salt, and grave dirt filled the center. Though beneath those was the false bottom that covered a hidden compartment where they stored a machete, an ax, a pair of shovels, wooden stakes, a .22 AR15 rifle, and the various suits and falsified ID's and badges needed for undercover work.
"Ya know everytime ya do tha' I get hard," Shiro shamelessly admitted, sidling directly up to that broad back covered in soft black leather. Who could blame him? Classic cars and heavy artillery were universally appealing and a combination of the two was downright sexy.
However, the next second Ichigo was brushing in front of the other men to reach for his .40 Glock, and then rifling through the duffel to withdraw the box of magazines of rock salt, He'd only just slid a fresh one into his compact pistol when a tanned hand wrapped around his wrist. "Sundown's not for another forty-five minutes, Ichigo," Grimmjow said, deep voice steady and making the younger male look down at the ground as its authoritative yet neutral tone made him feel like a child. "You know that so what's up with the nerves, you look like you're about to jump right out of your skin. It's not like you."
"I- I just have a bad feeling about tonight... and this place. I don't know why but I can't shake it," Ichigo confessed, actually relieved to say it out loud. "It's most likely nothing."
"'ey, don' knock tha power 'a Instinct," Shiro advised, gracely plucking a bowie knife with an iron blade and brown leather strands wound along the hilt from within the trunk like he was picking a rare flower. "Tha's how we're all still livin' and breathin' instead 'a six feet under. If ya sense somethin's off that's 'cause it probably is."
"Well, that makes me feel so much better," Ichigo huffed, frowning at the ground he'd been staring at until Grimmjow caught his chin and raised it high enough that the orangette's head tilted back a little.
"Hey, where's the fearless Hunter I've seen exorcise five demons at once, kill a Wendigo with a single match and some Jack Daniels, and just last month threw a silver stake right into a shapeshifter's eye? Whatever we run into tonight I think you can handle it and you know Shiro and I have always got your back. We're not going to let anything happen to you, promise," the blue-haired man reassured him and Ichigo nodded, not entirely believing in his supposed capability to be prepared for anything yet distracted from his grim thoughts as Grimmjow landed a swift kiss on his lips and a sharp smack on his backside, which he didn't even mind.
Once the blunette pulled away, however reluctantly, he grabbed his own favorite toy off its rack, a sawed-off, double barrel shotgun, and pumped it twice for good measure, empty shells clattering down around his feet. "Not to mention we haven't done a job with spirits for a while and I've missed shooting 'em with beautiful Beretta, here ."
Ichigo's lips twitched as he realized he definitely had a very specific taste in men, tucking his trusty .40 beneath his jacket and securely into the holster he sewn inside under his left arm for a quick draw. He'd never understood why Shiro and Grimmjow insisted on sticking their handguns in their jeans.
Getting down to business, the trio of Hunters suited up with the appropriate gear for the job. Though Shiro had his thirteen knives in different but accessible locations, he took the second sawed-off Beretta loaded with rock salt and strapped it on so that it rested at his back. He wrapped a rosary around his wrist and pocketed the flask of holy water left for him, the other going to Grimmjow since Ichigo was by far the best at reciting exorcisms being that he was fluent in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic due to his mentor, Kukkaku, learning early on he had a knack for languages.
Grimmjow slung on a bandolier of salt shells and slipped a band that held iron blades on either side under his sleeve, a collapsible hunting knife of the same material harmful to ghosts in his back pocket with his holy water and rosary.
And Ichigo had added to his person a belt of his own set of iron blades, shorter and thinner than his companions' as they were made for throwing, which he'd always been rather good at. He'd also packed some more into his boot, along with an extra magazine and a palm-sized crucifix.
"Let's search tha grounds firs', if tha town hung 'im on tha' tree an' he's not in tha cemetery they might'a just dug up a hole fer him here," Shiro said.
"Yeah, and we can spread out and just shout if we find anything," Ichigo agreed, earning a nod from both men, and a second later they all took off in different directions.
Grimmjow had made a beeline for the ash tree, betting that if they were going to find the preacher's remains on the property it would be in that area. Grasping the Beretta by the barrel in his right hand, he attempted to move as quickly as possible he could still make sure he scoured every inch of the yards of endless grass that looked the same everywhere his gaze swept through.
They'd been scouring the land for maybe four and a half minutes when Grimmjow spied a sliver of gray amongst the green, a grin flashing across his face as he jogged to the spot twenty yards from the black ash's trunk. Bending his knees, he lowered himself closer to the ground and roughly yanked the grass away from a stone rectangle no bigger than one of Ichigo's books. He brushed dirt and weeds off to reveal that there was a faded engraving on the stone, a crudely chiseled cross and a few words.
He was not with the Lord and paid with his life.
"Hey, I found him!" he shouted loud enough for the other two to hear.
"Then get out the shovels!" Ichigo's voice carried over to where he was and Grimmjow grumbled but went to do just that for they had half an hour until the sun set on this Halloween night.
Digging up graves is not as easy as they make it look on television shows where the character can shovel six feet of earth in ten minutes. In reality it could easily take an hour or even two and the three of them barely had half of one to get down to the cheap, pine casket Muguruma had been buried in a hundred years ago. All that had been left were bits and pieces of rotten wood and most of the preacher's skeleton.
Arms feeling like lead from the shoveling, Ichigo sat at the heap of the upturned grave while Grimmjow poured a jug of gasoline over the remains and then struck a match alight, flicking it into the preacher's pit. Flames consumed the pile of bones within seconds and he let himself revel in the sense of accomplishment at finishing a job.
"Ah, firelight warms tha soul on a nigh' like this," Shiro chuckled, walking around the burning grave to stand next to the blue-haired man he thought looked particularly divine illuminated from below like he was. Torching evil bastards together was their kind of romance, three men who killed and loved with the same amount of passion. In his opinion, this was the kind of love story Shakespeare should've written.
Ichigo was admiring the vision of his two great loves side by side, so different and totally alike the same time, when that uneasy feeling returned without any warning. The orangette shuddered and couldn't resist looking over his shoulder. The only thing there was the old house, actually seeing it a lot more clearly than before with the new lighting as the sun set.
He was now able to see that the round, attic window wasn't boarded shut as the rest were and he saw something flit across the glass. Brows knitting together in slight confusion, Ichigo kept his sight on the window and few seconds later he saw it happen again. It had almost had a form, whatever it was, and he didn't look away until he heard Grimmjow yelling his name,
Whipping his head back forward, horror immediately took over his mind and body and froze him in wide-eyed fear on the ground as the blazing figure of none other than Muguruma loomed over him. The spirit was exactly like he'd pictured in his head, dressed in black and white but those cruel eyes searingly bright. And then the preacher roared inhumanly at Ichigo, fumes curling out of his open mouth.
The sounds of gunshots were heard over the wordless roaring, smoking holes appearing in Muguruma's torso and he flew higher into the air when rock salt made any ghost or spirit vanish at least temporarily. And as he ascended so did the flames in his grave, soaring up like rolling waves Ichigo scrambled to his feet as his wits somewhat returned to him while the preacher pointed at him accusingly.
"Sinful wretch! You reek of wicked debauchery and your impure, licentious ways!"
Unable to see where either Shiro or Grimmjow were, Ichigo drew three of his iron throwing knives and sent them flying toward Muguruma, who angled himself out of their direct aim and only one slashing a tear near his ribs and causing him to roar again. He descended on the Hunter, who decided to try reciting an exorcism and frantically drew his crucifix out of his boot , brandishing it in his left hand and lips parting while the preacher closed in on him.
His words, his voice itself, was stolen from him when Muguruma grabbed his arm. Dropping the crucifix and screaming in pain as his flesh burned underneath the spirit's touch. He'd never experienced such agony before, all of the wounds he'd ever received combined not a fraction of the devastating pain he felt at that moment.
"You deserve punishment and punishment is nothing but pain."
He couldn't stop the screams from ripping through his throat as the scalding pain spread from his arm to the rest of his body, the torment making him shudder viciously and his eyes roll back in his head. He felt like he was being burned alive, like he was dying and yet wishing for death if it meant an escape from this misery. His last conscious thought was a vision of Grimmjow and Shiro as he'd seen them together bathed in the warm glow of the firelight, wishing even though the image was perfect, it wouldn't be his last. Then blackness swallowed him and he knew nothing more.
However, what had seemed like hours to Ichigo had in actuality lasted two and a half minutes starting when he'd first seen Muguruma until he'd passed out. Two and a half minutes that tormented not just him but the men on the outer side of the grave and the unnatural fire the evil being had summoned to do his will to block and distract the other Hunters.
Grimmjow and Shiro had been forced to listen to Ichigo's screams of pain, unable to know what Muguruma was doing to him as walls of flame hid the spirit and the orangette. The ex-preacher's powers were somehow equal to a high ranking demon and had been relatively unaffected by rock salt or iron. Then their lover had abruptly fallen silent and both men hadn't been able to do anything except watch as the columns of flickering flames shrank to smoldering cinders in nothing flat to reveal that now Muguruma and Ichigo were gone.
It took one beat of his heart to pump Grimmjow's body full of his rage, the senseless anger boiling his blood. "FUUUCK!" he howled up at the sky, throwing his hands up to the back of his head and pulling on his hair. He remembered all of the victims that had been burned, beaten, and choked to death then left at the foot of the black ash tree to be found the next morning. "Fuck, no, not Ichigo, goddamn you!" His rough voice thundered through the silent grounds but still no answer came.
Standing a few feet away, Shiro was staring at the spot from which the mortal and spirit disappeared, the only evidence left behind the crucifix lying in the dirt. His ire was intense as Grimmjow's, the difference being he allowed it to simmer on the surface, golden irises glittering malevolently.
"I'm going to find that motherfucker. He can't hide from me all night even if he won't come out to face me on his own," he announced to the albino beside him. He knew they'd both rather lay down and die than allow anyone or anything take Ichigo's precious life for their own and would devour anyone that dared to try, ripping them to pieces and putting them back together to destroy all over again. Yet they were Hunters trained to put mind over matter. "After we find wherever he's taken Ichigo, that is."
Shiro still didn't speak, canting his head to the side and tapping one of his metallic lip rings with a black nail. His silence smoldered, the ghostly beauty even more terrifying. He didn't need to answer Grimmjow either, the man well aware he approved of the plan.
Holding a finger up to signal for the blunette to give him a second, Shiro crossed the mound of upturned earth to pick up the crucifix his orange-haired lover had dropped then walked back over to where Grimmjow was waiting for him. Showing it to the other in the palm of his hand, he simply said "For when we find him."
When Ichigo came to it was to find himself slumped against the wall on the floor of somewhere cold, damp, and pitch black, the darkness so potent he couldn't even make out his own hand if he waved it in front of his face. He was also greeted by a throbbing headache and an even worse malady in his left forearm that burned and stung viciously, the pain making him stifle a moan as he cradled it protectively against his chest. Flashes of the terrible way he'd gotten it searing through his mind.
Laying his head back on the wall behind him, Ichigo forced himself to breathe deeply and calm his rapidly beating heart. He used the hand of the uninjured arm he felt around for his front pocket he stored his phone in, groaning upon feeling only denim and beginning to frantically pat himself down to see what else was missing. His heart sank with dread as he discovered his beloved Glock .40, iron throwing knives, extra magazine, extra knives, and crucifix were all gone. He felt naked and defenseless without them, even though they'd proved practically useless against Muguruma and his fire.
The one thing he did have in his jacket inner pocket was little bit of a pleasant surprise since he'd forgotten it was in there. Withdrawing the Zippo lighter, Ichigo flicked it alight with his thumb and held it up so that it illuminated as much as possible, which wasn't much at all. The space he was in was barely tall enough to stand up in and with dimensions like a broom closet. Walls and floor stone instead of cement and their condition gave away its centuries old age.
He must be somewhere in the preacher's house, he deciphered, and probably under the cellar since the ceiling was was made of wooden boards with antique chain loops at one end. Realizing it had to be a trap door, Ichigo stood up so fast he nearly bumped his head and bent down a little, switching his lighter to his other hand so that he could give the thing a good shove. Damned thing didn't budge an inch, which is an obvious sign of something heavy placed on the top, no doubt purposefully.
He banged his fist against the door a few times out of frustration, wondering who would come for him first, Grimmjow and Shiro or Muguruma. Why had he been so weak and allowed the cursed preacher to defeat him so easily? Why hadn't he tried harder to overcome the pain and stab him with one of his knives or anything at all? Huffing noisily, Ichigo steadily sank to the floor and hadn't been sitting there for barely a second when he noticed something that instantly made him yelp and jerk backwards.
Standing, or hovering really, in the opposite corner was the standard monochromatic, corpore version of an apparition of a woman of perhaps thirty, wearing a full-skirted dress tattered and ripped to shreds. She had elegant facial features that were also ruined by terrible scars around her mouth and neck and the flowers in the several separate plaits of hair were dead. Ichigo had no idea what to make of this spirit so intently staring at him.
"Why are you here? What do you want?" he demanded of the ghostly woman, standing up. He didn't think she was dangerous, emanating more of a peaceful aura. But she didn't speak, possibly unable due to whatever had made those scars. Instead she lifted her left arm and lay her hand on the exact place Ichigo had been branded then gestured to him."
"You want to see my arm?" he guessed, not knowing why he felt like he could trust her yet obliging her by carefully sliding up his sleeve and showing her the fresh burn on his flesh, branded like the victims before him with the symbol of a crescent moon in a circle of budding flowers. He almost backed away when the spirit woman drifted closer, laying her open palm on the wound though he couldn't feel it, of course.
Ichigo's eyes widened as an emerald green pulse of light disappeared into the scorched flesh and then all of the redness and inflammation faded as he watched the burn completely heal itself in seconds instead of weeks, leaving a scar in the shape of the design. What was even more amazing, though, was how the severe pain just melted away.
"T-thank you," was all he could say afterwards, to which the woman merely inclined her head. "But why are you helping me?"
The mute spirit floated back a few feet and pointed down at the corner to the right and then pressing her hands together and unfolding them like she was opening up something. Once Ichigo glanced over at the corner in question by the time he looked back she'd vanished and it was just him and his lighter again.
Moving to kneel in front of the corner, Ichigo surveyed it for anything unusual in the crumbling stone and not spotting anything at first. He swept the Zippo's light and his fingers down from the lower walls to where they met the floor, his fingertips getting caught in one of the biggest cracks. However, instead of extracting them from the crevice he slid them further in, a jolt of excitement sparking through him as he felt that there was something inside there. Blindly gripping onto the edge of the hidden object, he managed to tug it out of where it had been wedged inside the wall.
Now he understood that the spirit of that woman had been gesturing a symbol for opening a book, or diary rather. In his hand he now held a leather bound personal journal with a cover embossed with the familiar name of Rukia, Muguruma's eldest daughter who'd been seventeen when her father had brutally killed her and her two younger sisters.
Breaking the string tied around the volume, Ichigo leaned back and settled it on his lap before flipping it open to the first page and beginning to read. The entries were all brief, the girl who'd authored them writing down only what she'd considered important.
It was my birthday today. I turned fifteen years old, almost a woman's age, but no one appeared to believe this was as grand event as I had this morning. Ururu baked oatmeal cookies, which are my favorite. She is a sweet, kind girl. Karin wished me a happy birthday at dinner. Then Father spent the rest of the meal talking about my mother, which he does far too often now that she has been dead for over a year. I do not think he will ever return to the man I knew before as my father and a man of God. He has changed.
The next few months were the pretty much the same, details of the girl's routine life. Then she started mentioning incidents concerning her father more and more.
I will never be her, why can he not understand this? I am not my mother! If Father should tell me one more time I should do something more like my mother I swear I will shout the exact exclamation from the roof. He says she was perfect - a pious, virtuous woman who faithfully served her husband and God until the day she died. Father preaches more about the impurities in young people in these times, especially the girls he tells the congregation commit vile sins of the flesh. He tells me and my sisters if we should ever follow these snakes into temptation he would know. He claims he can smell their wanton ways on such women. Father has grown stranger still.
And a month after the girl's sixteenth birthday was when the preacher apparently started to rapidly descend further into his derangement. The entries became fewer and farther in between, the environment of her household discouraging her from telling much of what went on and clearly succumbing to a depression.
Bruises are easy to heal these days. Girls who hear that they are bad and wicked and deserving of punishment are not. I cannot even shield my sisters from his wrath. I wonder if he shall ever know the judgement of his own deeds.
I fear the sound of his footsteps, now.
This was where the entire journal changed entirely, the pages parchment no longer holding only lines of Rukia's script. There were sections of a different text pasted and stuffed in along with the diary entries, the source of which was written in English, Gaelic, and Latin and depicting pictures of plants and herbs and symbols Ichigo recognized from the Druid and Celtic periods. These additions explained in the first lighthearted entry in months.
I found something magnificent today in the attic while I was cleaning. At first I thought it was one of Father's books but then I noticed it was practically falling apart from how old it must be. Also, some of it's written in Latin, which he cannot read and tells the congregation why is because it is not the Lord's true tongue.
I think it is the spellbook of the witch they say lived here a long time ago. However, it contains recipes for medicines that can be made from plants in the woods and some pages of protection enchantments and charms. I feel as if I have discovered magic is real and it gives me much comfort. I shall begin learning Latin in secret so I can read more of the pages.
"Ugh, please tell me she didn't..." Ichigo hissed in acute realization and flipped forward through the journal, scanning it for anything like what he was hoping not to find. Nevertheless, it was on the very last filled page that there were lines of handwritten Latin. "Holy shit, she did."
It is decided. I will do it tomorrow night of All Hallow's Eve. I was not certain until earlier this evening after Karin and Ururu went to bed and I saw him sitting in the living room in the dark. I do not know why I turned on the light but once I did I saw he was drunk and holding my mother's favorite necklace. I remembered the pendant from when she wore it years ago, a moon crescent-shaped and bordered by the leafy blossoms of budding flowers. He looked pitiable in that moment and so I asked if he was in pain.
He was angered by the question and leapt out of the chair, shaking the hand he was holding the necklace as he said "Pain?! This is nothing but pain!" The look in his eyes was how I decided. He has become a monster so I will send him to where the other monsters are.
I hope to write more in this journal after this entry though it may be no longer be possible.
Below that had been where she'd penned what Ichigo could read as an exorcism prayer she'd created herself and then the English translation. It was actually rather well done except for one tiny little mistake she'd made in the Latin version that had been the undoing of her, her sisters, her father, and all of his victims.
Now he really needed to get out of there and to wherever the two other men were because if Muguruma came for him before then it would all be over.
Meanwhile, Grimmjow and Shiro were on the first floor of the preacher's former house. They'd already combed through every last square foot of two stories and the attic yet still had been unable to find any trace of where the bastard had stashed Ichigo.
"Fuck! Where else could he be?" Grimmjow snarled, kicking over a sheet covered chair in his vexation. It had been an hour and fifteen minutes since Muguruma disappeared with the orangette and he didn't like the possibilities of what could happen in that period of time.
"Hmm, this house was built 'fore they 'ad basements so tha's not an option," Shiro mumbled, racking his brain for another place to search.
"Yeah but they had cellars," the blunette said dismissively, not really knowing what he'd said for a moment and then lit up in realization the same time the other man caught on as well. "And cellar doors are-"
"Outside," they finished together and started barrelling toward the front door, wondering how they hadn't thought to check for a cellar before. The two of them ran in sync around the perimeter of the house until they found the cellar entrance boarded up with a padlock around the handles. Grimmjow scoffed at the shoddy effort to keep them out, pumping his Beretta and shooting the padlock open, it and the chains falling to the ground. Shiro stomped his boot through the wooden boards that splintered into pieces upon impact so they could see a dark stairwell, the albino pulling out a thin flashlight from his inner coat pocket.
Using it to shine upon the broken steps, he went in first with Grimmjow close behind. Descending the entire way down, Shiro saw the cellar was mostly empty save for a few boxes and an old cast iron stove in the corner. "Damn it, I would'a put money on this bein' tha place," he said bitterly, feeling his nails dig into the flesh of his palm as the hand at his side balled into a tight fist.
"No, hold on and shut up for a second," Grimmjow said, holding up a hand for silence and listening intently. "There, hear that?"
Shiro opened his mouth to say no but then he caught a faint sound he discerned to be a voice calling from somewhere close by. "Hello? Is that you guys up there?" it said.
"Christ, I think he's under the fuckin' stove," Grimmjow realized aloud, spurring both of them to hustle over to the corner the big, old thing was in. "Ichigo, can you hear me?" he shouted down to wherever the orangette was below.
"Grimmjow! God, yes, get me out of here already!" Ichigo's voice carried up to them.
"Look at tha', Grimm," Shiro said, pointing under the stove where there was a metal laid into floorboards. "'Has ta be a trap door, which means we gotta move this thing off it ta get Ichi outta there."
Grimmjow nodded, stepping to the side of the stove situated in the corner and joined by Shiro since it was would be easier to push it that way than trying to move it from the wall. "Hold on, we're gonna get you out in a second, okay?" he yelled down to Ichigo, whose response was drowned out by the sound of the stove scraping across the wood floor. The big, old thing had to weigh close to a thousand pounds and was not easy to move an inch let alone the ten feet needed to clear the trap door.
But they did it and as soon as the stove was an inch away from it, they dropped down to their haunches. Shiro lifted the latch locking the door and yanked on the cord to raise it up, immediately met with a flying object he dodged so it landed on the floor. Then Ichigo gripped onto the edges of the opening to lift himself up out of that claustrophobic nightmare, though Grimmjow and Shiro decided to do it themselves and grabbed onto his arms and torso to haul him all the way onto the floor in between them.
"Ah, don't!" Ichigo stopped the two men from starting to bark the usual set questions. "As you can see, I'm fine. I haven't even seen Muguruma since I woke up in there, though he did take all my stuff, and I actually have a lot to tell you two so let's walk and talk."
All too eager to get outside, he tucked the journal under his arm and pushed himself off the floor. Bounding up the cellar staircase, Ichigo stepped out in the fresh air and took in a deep breath after spending too long in that musty, stale pit. Grimmjow and Shiro appeared a moment later, both wondering what'd gotten into the orange-haired Hunter and what exactly that book was.
"Yer lookin' pretty sprightly fer someone whose night 'as been pretty... traumatic, shall we say," Shiro observed, wrapping his arm around the other as they started walking toward the front of the house, their blue-haired companion trailing behind with his sawed-off resting on his shoulder.
"Well that's kind of what I have to tell you and Grimm about," Ichigo explained, ready to launch into full detail when a formless flash of static black and white materialized before them, flickering into the figure of the spirit who'd appeared to him underneath the cellar. "Stop!" he called to Grimmjow whom he'd anticipated would treat her as a threat and shoot at her with rock salt. "She's a friend."
Ichigo held up the journal for her to see. "Thank you for this. I'll get rid of it for you after, I promise," he told her and the spirit woman smiled softly, but hurriedly pointed to the journal and to the sky and then to the ground. "Um... Oh! He's coming? Right now?" She nodded frantically.
"Who's comin'? Muguruma?" Shiro asked.
"Yes, and we have to get to where the black ash tree is before he does, so run for it!" Ichigo proclaimed, breaking out into a sprint and racing through the grass in that direction. The spirit disappeared as he passed her, apparently not wanting to be around when the evil being did show up. He heard the other two running right behind him and glanced over his shoulder, saying "I hope you two remember your Latin."
"Why is that?" Grimmjow asked, suspicion leaking into his voice.
"Tell you in a second!" Ichigo shouted as they closed in on the black ash and with Muguruma nowhere to be seen. The three of them gradually slowed their pace so they came to a stop within a few yards of the tree itself. "Get out the flasks holy water and rosaries and start blessing this area while I'm explaining everything, it's gonna be a big help, trust me."
"Yeah, okay sweetheart, just start talkin'," Grimmjow said, reaching into his back pocket for said items.
"Well you know the spirit we just saw? She materialized in that little space under the cellar while I was down there and she actually healed the burn on my arm, but then she just pointed to a corner and left. She was actually leading me to to this, the personal journal of Muguruma's eldest daughter, Rukia," Ichigo said, flipping through the pages whilst the others doused the ground in water, murmuring the short prayer to bless it under their breaths. "She wrote about he became crazy after his wife died and then abusive to her and her sisters, obsessed with condemning young people, especially women, for their promiscuity. Then this girl finds a book containing herbal medicine and charms. some of which is written in Latin."
"Tell me she didn' do what I'm thinkin' she did," Shiro pleaded, having the same reaction to it as Ichigo had, or any proper Hunter would.
"Oh, she did. The funny thing is it's actually decent and she made one mistake in the entire thing in this line here - Dei judicium Deus avertat Profundis, which translates to - By the judgement of God, He forbids you Despair,'Despair' being Hell. So what happened when they hung Muguruma and he died and he can't go to Hell but can't go to Heaven either is he became a purgatorial beast that grew stronger by the fuel of his rage and with every victim he killed until he's what he is right now."
"So because some chick forgot to put one word in an incantation, she made her dad a monster that killed dozens of girls," Grimmjow summarized, pausing to think about that for a few seconds. "Now how do we clean up her mess and get rid of the psycho preacher on steroids?"
"We fix the grammar mistake and do it right this time, basically," Ichigo said, remembering how he'd been unable to say a single world the first time he'd tried. "I'll perform the exorcism, if you two don't mind, because I really want a rematch of earlier."
"An' ya'll need us ta do what, exactly?" Shiro inquired, also lusting for another round with the preacher man. Perhaps if he used holy water in his regular act he could get a little more of a reaction this time.
"Kind of 'hold him down 'while I do the exorcism, if you know what I mean," the orange-haired Hunter said. "Subdue him when he first comes out with holy water and some invocations, shouldn't take too long considering. Then I'll do my part and we can be on our merry way."
"Ya'll be needin' this, then," Shiro told him, walking over to his lover and drawing the crucifix belonging to the other out from his pocket, pressing it into Ichigo's hand, who took one look at it and melted.
"You picked this up off the ground and held onto it just so you could give it back to me?" he said, warm brown eyes like maple syrup at the tenderness he felt the simple gesture.
"Hey, incoming, you two!" Grimmjow alerted the others as he made out the fiery gaze of Muguruma as the evil spirit manifested himself about thirty-five feet away. "Shiro, get ready, and stand clear until he's ready for you, Ichigo." The men following his directions so that the white-haired hunter came down with him while their youngest member stayed back, deceptively appearing to be distancing himself when he was actually lying in wait for the opportunity to pounce.
"You dared to save the sinner from his judgement? Salvation is God's to give to the pure and virtuous not for perverse freaks to waste on wretched tramps!" Muguruma bellowed across the distance to the group, smoke appearing around his mouth and nose.
"Come and get it, fucker," Grimmjow said under his breath just before the preacher charged at them, unknowingly crossing onto blessed land that would undoubtedly sap a bit of his juice. Instead of the murderous phantom attacking whomever he pleased first, Shiro blocked his path and held his rosary aloft, dangling in that pair of burning yellow eyes. "Vade retro, immundus spiritus!" he chanted forcefully yet doing so while frighteningly cheerful. "Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei, contremisce, invocato a nobis Sancto et Terribli nomine, quem inferi tremunt."
Muguruma recoiled from the words he didn't understand yet had an effect on him, sending a ball of fire at the albino who stood his ground and watched it to sizzle into nothing before the rosary, making him cackle madly. "Your tricks are not amusing, you deviant of His creation!" he screeched furiously and then hissed venomously when a spray of holy water was cast onto him from behind by Grimmjow. Not realizing he'd been cornered, turned onto the other man. "And you would attack a Man of God while his back is turned, pathetic swine. But you'll burn for it!"
This time the fireball was stopped by Grimmjow's bare hand, the man spitting out "Noli me tangere, draco maleficare, Dei gratia. Apage!" which sent it flying back to where it'd come from. Muguruma didn't understand why his powers were being deflected by mere words and water, he was the one who walked with the power of the Lord, and it made his rage surge in great swells of fire he gathered around his fists.
Striking out at Shiro with his flames, the albino decided that would be the perfect time to try out his new idea. He bobbed and weaved around the fiery assaults finally luring his opponent close enough for him to twirl two butterfly knives he'd dipped in holy water out in his hands. Catching the preacher off guard, he was able to carve into the supernatural being like the artist was until Muguruma soared away into the air, the gashes where Shiro had sliced into him black and smoking.
"This is the work of the wicked, but might is always on the side of the righteous and the Lord's will shall be done, starting with the one who thought he could escape!"
Knowing he had to make his final blow now while the vengeful spirit was weakened and before Muguruma could attempt another attack on Ichigo, Grimmjow leapt in front of the cursed being. Casting more holy water in the shape of the cross, he began professing the binding prayer. "Ergo te ligo in nomine Jesu, potestate Crucis sancti, potestate pretiosissimi Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, auctoritate sacerdotii mei et per intercessione beatissimae Mariae Virginis, sancti Michaelis archangeli, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et omnium Sanctorum et te impero!"
By the end of the prayer Muguruma had been forced down onto his knees, bound there for only a limited amount of time and so the blunette stepped to the side, looking back where Ichigo had been waiting and watching this whole time. "He's all yours, babe."
Though his physical form had been subdued, Muguruma's blazing yellow eyes bore into the mortal man with that infernal fury as Ichigo proceeded to stand before him. "Time to finally go home, preacher man," he said.
Lifting the journal in one hand and his crucifix in the other, he prepared himself to start, gathering up the strength of his will and his soul. Performing an exorcism was different than reciting some words in Latin or Greek and throwing holy water around. You didn't call on a higher being for help and pray in their name because you were the one casting the unholy power out and back into the Pit. You had to be stronger than they were or else your soul itself would be corrupted. Believe it to be true and so it shall be, he reminded himself of the power of belief and closed his eyes to concentrate on summoning it all up to the surface. Opening them a moment later he was ready to begin.
Deus vult Dies Irae
date et dabitur vobis
Ichigo chanted that it was God's will that day of His wrath, or judgement, come to this soul. That what he had given in life was what he would receive in death.
sunt mala quae libas, ipse venena bibas
That what he'd offered the world had only been evil and now was when he would drink that poison himself.
Deus vult Dies Irae
abyssus abyssum invocat
That it was God's will the day of His wrath come to this soul and Hell calls out to claim it.
Dei judicium Deus avertat De Profundis
That it God's judgement that this soul go down to Despair and He forbid it from ever leaving its pit.
Deus vult Dies Irae
That it was God's will day the day of His wrath come to this soul and as Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had said on the cross: It is finished.
Muguruma's roar pierced through the night air, challenging the powers invoked to bring him down to the Pit, challenging the one who proclaimed it to be so. Ichigo felt the struggle to maintain control and believed himself stronger than the condemned preacher. His word was unquestionable. Muguruma's anger was not worth paying attention to, he insisted, even as the being produced a wall of fire surrounding the two of them. He was the one that walked in the Light of God and did his blessed works.
His own fire consuming him and his damned soul, Muguruma, in a flare of light, was wiped off the face of the earth.
Triumphant, Ichigo was trembling from effort and nearly collapsed to the ground but was caught by the arms of both Grimmjow and Shiro who steadied him in between them. He felt the former press a kiss into his hair. "You were absolutely amazing," the blunette said. "And when you didn't even bat an eye when the fire shot up all around you, sexy as hell."
"Am so proud of ya, Ichi, both of us are," Shiro affirmed on the other side of him.
"Good, 'cause I'm not doing that again for a while."
When midnight struck the three boys were sitting on the back of the Impala and watching the preacher's house and the massive black ash tree go up in flames. Remembering it had only been six hours before when they pulled up to this spot was bizarre. As promised, Ichigo was holding the edge of the journal above his lighter, the old parchment quickly catching fire, and he dropped it onto the ground.
Just as it hit the pavement, the mute spirit appeared before them and they all watched in wonder as color saturated her form, her tattered dress became new again, the scars on her face fading away, and the flowers in her came back to life. "Thank you, Ichigo," she said in a smooth voice, not wasting another second before turning around and disappearing in a pulse of emerald green light.
"So who exactly was she supposed to be?" Grimmjow asked, gesturing to where she'd just been.
"Do you remember that legend about this house being built by a witch but was actually just a single woman who loved nature and medicine more than she did any man? That was her. She'd been bound here by the pieces of her spellbook in the journal so I promised her I'd burn it so she could move on."
"Where on ta from 'ere?" Shiro voiced the question they were all wondering from where he was laying down at the end. "Am kinda hungry but nothin' here's gonna be open a' this time."
"Well... on our way here I did see an ad for a strip club with a sundae bar - all the ice cream you can eat for 3.99," Ichigo said, earning two dubious looks from the other men. "What? That's a great deal and it is still Halloween night so I can be a bit advantageous if I want."
"Seconded," Shiro said, sitting up, and both he and the orangette looked up at Grimmjow expectantly.
"They probably have a real bar there too so get in, we're going," the blue-haired man declared, beginning to slide off the car when Ichigo grabbed onto his arm.
"Grimm, do you think that maybe this one time I could drive? It'd just be for a mile..."
"Fine, but that makes you the designated driver for the night," Grimmjow said, supposing this one night he could let Ichigo have a turn and handing over the key the younger man appeared to have the same reaction if it were a golden ticket to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Though he supposed ice cream and booze was equally as delicious.
They drove away seconds before firetrucks and police cars pulled up, "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas blaring too loudly from the speakers to hear the sirens.
Another Halloween, another job, another town saved that will never know they were to thank. That was their life as Hunters and they would never change it for anything because it was theirs. Whether they had chosen this life or this life had chosen them, they were meant to live it, together and to the end.
A/N: So glad to be done with this one, the research on Latin and weapons alone was exhausting. Anyway, this was kind of inevitable as every time I tried to think of the plot for my somewhat scary piece I just kept coming back to the idea of something inspired by Supernatural, which is like so incredibly amazing and if you've never seen it you must immediately watch.
Latin Translations (In Order)
Step back, impure spirit! Be humble under the powerful hand of God -tremble - I invoke by us the Sacred and Terrible Name at which those down below tremble.
Do not touch me, cursed demon, by the grace of God. Away with thee!
I bind you in the Name of Jesus, by the power of the most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Michael the Archangel, the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul and all of the saints, and I command you.
God wills the Day of Wrath
give and it shall be given unto you
what you offer me is evil, you drink the poison yourself
God wills the Day of Wrath
Hell calls Hell
By the judgement of God, He forbids you (out of) Despair
God wills the Day of Wrath
it is finished
Also, this is the conclusion of this little anthology. I hope you all enjoyed and have a very happy Halloween. :)
I had lots and lots of fun on this one! It's truly more than a dream come true to be able to write with one of my idols, and as she said, have a very happy Halloween!