For many, many years, Ichigo had hated elves.
Not that he had met many elves. His little town was in the middle of nowhere, just a place where people raised goats and planted some crops every year. The elves didn't bother to come gather the tithes personally, the just sent some clerk with a few guards to deter robbers.
He hated them because of the stories. All the stories of the elves said how good and kind they were, how they had helped humans by teaching them all kinds of things. How they had served in the King's Guard and helped make the Kingdom a safe and beautiful places. How most elves lived in the Enchanted forest, but sometimes left for the sake of helping their shorter lived neighbors.
But then the Dark King had come, and the elves had left their precious forest to become overlords instead. The good king was dead and all his nobles were disposed, turned into nothing but servants for the elves, and the elves ruled more cruelly than the nobles ever had. The stories had turned out to be nothing but trash.
That hurt, because when he was little, Ichigo had believed the stories. He'd seen an elf, once, despite his father trying to keep him in their little hut. All the children had gone out to see when they'd gotten wind of the rare visit, despite everything their parents could do. And he'd gawked at the man shamelessly. His hair had been bright blue, cut short, and his eyes had been the most beautiful greenish blue. The adults had feared him, and the elf had been curt with them, but every time he felt he wasn't being watched the elf would turn to the children and give them a grin. Ichigo had been enchanted by that smile and had giggled along with the other children. But he'd wanted to do more, and his eyes had been caught by the man's sword. The hilt of it was bound with white fabric and decorated with tiny beads the color of the sky. Ichigo finally hadn't been able to resist and he'd darted out, putting a small hand onto that pretty, alluring sword.
The elf had reacted instantly, his hand snapping down and catching Ichigo's little hand in his much larger paw. Ichigo had looked up to meet those startled green blue eyes fearlessly, and smiled as the elf laughed. The villagers were watching with dread, but Ichigo was not afraid as the elf knelt down beside him.
"You're a fast one, getting past my guard that way." The elf ruffled his hair with one hand and Ichigo giggled. "How old are ya, kid?"
"I'm five!" Ichigo piped up and the elf laughed again.
"Ah, just a little baby." The elf pronounced the word oddly, making it sound like 'bahbey.' "What's your name, kid?"
"Ichigo. What's yours?" He asked fearlessly and the elf smiled before standing up.
"I'm Grimmjow. If you remember this, kid, look me up someday. You'd do great in my guard." The elf fluffed his hair one last time before looking around, eyes twinkling. "Now you better get on home before your parents tan your hide for talkin' to the likes o' me." Ichigo wanted to ask Grimmjow why he talked so funny, but he followed the elf's gaze and realized that lots of the villagers were looking at him in a way that promised trouble later.
"Okay!" He quickly darted back into the children, all of whom congratulated him on his daring. It made the spanking he'd gotten when he'd gone home seem worth it.
For a long time after that, he'd believed the stories. Grimmjow had seemed so kind, and Ichigo thought he was a good ruler. But times kept getting harder, and then the village had passed from Grimmjow to his neighbor, an elf Ichigo didn't know, and times had gotten worse. He blamed the blue haired elf for that. Why had the man given them away to someone who didn't care for them? But then, why should Grimmjow care for them? They were only humans.
Because times were hard, Ichigo was out hunting. His father wouldn't approve if he knew, so Ichigo didn't tell him, but he was a very good hand with a sling. He could easily catch squirrels and pigeons for the pot, and sometimes even something larger. He had to be careful though. Poaching was against the law and the penalties could be severe. He was near a crooked little back country road when he heard the sound of metal ringing on metal along with a hissing snarl.
Ichigo froze for a moment. Logically, he should probably run right home. But there was no way that was going to happen and he quickly followed the noise to a small clearing. He was absolutely shocked to see the person he'd just been thinking about, the man he hadn't seen since the age of five.
Grimmjow hadn't changed a bit, but instead of fine white clothing he was wearing shining white armor. He was fighting a man who looked like a half elf to Ichigo, and a strange black and red snake that seemed to be some kind of spirit. It was smoky and undulated through the air, constantly trying to strike at the elf. As Ichigo watched, the half-elf stumbled and Grimmjow's sword neatly sliced off his head. Blood spouted like a fountain and Ichigo gasped at the suddenly violent ending. But in that brief moment of distraction, the serpent struck. Grimmjow almost managed to evade it, but fangs grazed his shoulder and Ichigo heard him hiss and saw the sudden pain on his face. The snake made another hissing snarl and redoubled its efforts to reach the elf. Grimmjow leapt back, tossing his blade from his right hand to his left and Ichigo blinked. He'd never known a fighter who could use both hands like that. Unfortunately, the reason why he'd done that became clear quickly. Grimmjow's right arm seemed to be dead now, hanging limply at his side as blood dripped down his white armor. To Ichigo, the strike on his shoulder hadn't looked that deep. What was happening?
Ichigo looked down, grabbing a stone and fitting it into his sling. It might not be much, but it was the only real weapon he had. As he looked up the snake finally penetrated Grimmjow's guard and fangs bit down hard, right above the elf's heart. There was an agonized grunt, and Grimmjow fell heavily to his knees, shuddering as the serpent began to coil around him. And Ichigo knew that if he was going to act, it had to be now.
A rock from a sling could be a powerful weapon, but in this case it should have been completely useless. It should have passed directly through the shadowy serpent, and perhaps injured Grimmjow. Ichigo didn't know that so he took his shot, and the shot seemed to catch fire, glowing a brilliant blue as it smashed into the snake's head. The snake screamed and let go of the dying elf, thrashing frantically as its form was invaded with blue. Ichigo stared at it, willing it to die, and the blue spread as if in response to his wish. It finally vanished into sparkles of blue.
"Well, y'don't see that every day." Ichigo quickly looked over at that tired, familiar voice. "Nice job, kid." Grimmjow was still kneeling and looking at him, his blue green eyes dull and his face full of pain. "Help me up, would ya? I need to write my sister."
"You need to what?" Ichigo repeated blankly, going over to the elf. But instead of helping him up, he helped him lie down on the ground. Grimmjow didn't have the strength to resist. "You need to rest, you're hurt." He said firmly and was surprised when Grimmjow made a wheezy laugh.
"I'll rest forever soon. Get me paper an' a pen. Gotta make sure she knows… I love her…" Grimmjow was panting now and sweat was beading on too pale skin. But sudden fury consumed Ichigo. Before he even thought about it, he slapped the elf, hard.
"Shut up! You're not going to die! Now heal yourself, and I'll get you to a healer!" He snapped. Ichigo knew that elves were innately magical and most of them could manage some kind of healing, even if it wasn't much. Grimmjow looked at him wide-eyed for a moment then suddenly grinned.
"Well, if you're going to be so damned whiny about it, I guess I'll have to live." Ichigo scowled at the amusement in the other man's voice, but stayed quiet as Grimmjow put his left hand over his heart. A soothing white light came from his hand and he stayed still for almost a minute before the light started to fade. "That's all I've got." Grimmjow said, his skin still far too pale. "It ain't cured, just slowed down. I hope you got a good healer around here or I'm done for."
"We have the best, and you just concentrate on living. Come on." Ichigo helped the elf up and led him over to his horse, which was eyeing them skittishly. A few soft words from Grimmjow that he didn't understand, and the horse calmed. He helped the elf up into the saddle and Grimmjow immediately began buckling some straps. He caught Ichigo giving him a curious look and explained.
"War saddle. If the wounded don't stay with the column, they die, and falling off a horse in a dead faint ain't fun. You get up behind me an' take the reins. Because if I don't pass out soon I'll be damned surprised." Grimmjow said and Ichigo thought he was right. Putting his hands on the horses' rump, Ichigo took a deep breath and smoothly mounted the beast. He didn't have much experience with horses and proved it figuring out how to use the reins. Grimmjow's muttered instructions were very useful, since the horse was war trained. Ichigo did not want to accidentally make him strike out!
The horse handled the goat path easily, and Ichigo knew the quickest way to the healer's. Even so, Grimmjow was almost unconscious by the time they reached it. Ichigo slid off the horse, unbuckled the unfortunate elf and carried him up to the cottage before kicking at the door.
"What is it – oh!" Orihime opened the door and stared. "Ichigo, who is this?" She sounded bewildered, peering closely at blue hair and half-closed green eyes. "An elf?!" She went pale and Ichigo struggled with his own patience as he reassured her.
"Yes, he was attacked by a spirit serpent and needs help." She stepped back and he carried Grimmjow past her, putting him onto the thin pallet she used for patients. The elf groaned as he began stripping off the white armor. It had plenty of belts and buckles but it wasn't really too hard to figure out.
"A serpent? There's going to be poison." Orihime murmured as she spread her hands over Grimmjow. A warm, golden light surrounded them and Ichigo could sense it was far, far stronger than the healing spell Grimmjow had used. But would it be strong enough? "Oh my stars. Ichigo, strip off his shirt." Ichigo hesitated but followed instructions. The pale chest revealed was surprisingly hairy for an elf. He'd heard of elves being described as ethereal and delicate, but that wasn't Grimmjow at all. He was masculine to the core. Those thoughts vanished, though, as Ichigo saw the terrible wound over his heart. The imprint of the fangs was bad enough, but the black, viscous fluid oozing from it was much worse. "This is a very bad poison. It devours the spirit as much as the body. Ichigo, join your power with mine." Ichigo obeyed without thinking, laying his hands on Orihime's shoulders. The power brightened until it was almost painful to watch and finally Orihime's shoulders sagged and the light died. "There. The poison is almost entirely cleansed. There is still a miasma and he could still die, but only his own will can save him from that."
"Oh, I'll take care of that." Ichigo put his face close to the semi-conscious man and growled. "Grimmjow! You are going to live, or I am going to beat the shit out of you! Got it?" Orihime looked absolutely appalled but Grimmjow's body shook with a silent laugh before he raised his head.
"Yeah, yeah, I got it. You sure are one gutsy kid, Ichigo." He wheezed out and Ichigo froze for a moment. He hadn't mentioned his name, which meant…
"You remember me?" He asked and Grimmjow laughed then coughed, grimacing for a moment at the pain.
"O'course I remember. D'you know how many people got past my guard like that? I can count 'em on the fingers of one hand, and I ain't young. And a little kid like you. Fucking amazing… tricky recognizing ya after all that time, but I figured it when you slapped me. Gutsy little kid…" Grimmjow's voice trailed off and his eyes closed. Ichigo was considering slapping him again, but Orihime's hand on his shoulder stopped him.
"He's sleeping, Ichigo. Leave him be, it will help him recover." Ichigo reluctantly let her pull him away from her fascinating patient. "And you need to get home and see to the chores. If you've let things go when your father gets home, he'll tan your hide."
"Right." Ichigo sighed to himself. He had two sisters, and they were helpful, but there were some things that required his muscles. He would need to see to it, since his father was gone away to help an aunt in some way he refused to discuss. Isshin was like that. He had many, many secrets.
Ichigo was kept busy the next couple days tending to the farm, but he still found time to visit Orihime's and see how Grimmjow was progressing. The elf was deathly ill, but slowly beginning to mend. Word of his presence was spreading all over the village, and there was some definite ill will towards their former lord. Ichigo finally decided he needed to know the truth about that, and he waited until Orihime had dosed Grimmjow with pain medicine before sitting beside him.
"Grimmjow." Ichigo waited until the elf blinked and gave him his attention. "Why did you give us away? Why did you let someone else have our village?" He let the hurt, the betrayal enter his voice and was satisfied to see Grimmjow wince.
"Needed th' money." He rasped out and Ichigo stiffened in rage. They had been sold? Like a sheep or a cow? But before he could say anything, Grimmjow spoke again. "Needed th' money t' buy food. The farms down near the river got flooded bad, couldn't get it cleaned up, ever'thin rotted an' the king don't take no fer an answer when it comes t' th' tithes." Grimmjow's strange accent was more pronounced than ever, making it almost hard to understand him at points. "Knew it'd be hard on you, but you'd be breathin'. Had to feed the kids…" The elf closed his eyes again and Ichigo stared at him, speechless. His heart twisted inside his chest as he absorbed it. They had been sold… to buy food for children?
"I knew you were a good man." He said to the elf, although Grimmjow couldn't hear. To many of the villagers it wouldn't matter why they had been sold, but to Ichigo it did. The pain of betrayal eased and Ichigo shook his head, wondering how he had ever doubted this man. But it was hard to trust, when things just kept getting harder and harder. He gave Grimmjow's uninjured shoulder a pat before leaving the house.
Isshin came home the next day, and to say he was upset over what his son had been up to would have been an understatement.
"You stupid brat!" Anger vibrated through his normally mild-mannered father's voice, and Ichigo almost cringed. "How could you do such a thing? I told you to stay away from elves!" His father had told him that many, many times, along with horrible stories about what elves did to children like him. Ichigo hadn't believed any of it, even after Grimmjow sold the village. Something about the stories just didn't ring true.
"I couldn't just watch him die!" Ichigo snapped back. From the look on his father's face, he thought Ichigo could have, and should have. "I couldn't let him be eaten by a spirit snake!" That made Isshin pale.
"A spirit snake? How did you defeat a spirit snake?" He asked and Ichigo hesitated a moment before telling him about the blue fire. Isshin ran his hands through his hair and Ichigo was surprised to see real fear, not just rage, on his face. "You stay right here." His father said abruptly. Ichigo stayed frozen for a moment, then followed Isshin out the door.
His father was so caught up in his thoughts, or Ichigo was just so good, that he didn't notice his son following him. Ichigo's breath caught as he realized Isshin was heading for Orihime's house. What did his father want with Grimmjow?
Orihime let Isshin in, of course. Ichigo crept up to the door and tried to listen.
"Could you go fetch me some water? It's been a long walk." Isshin sounded perfectly calm, but that raised red flags with Ichigo. His father didn't calm down that quickly, ever. What was going on? Orihime cheerfully said yes and Ichigo risked slipping into the room as she left to fetch some water from the well. So Ichigo saw when his father drew his belt knife and bent over the sleeping elf.
"Father, no!" He screamed and darted forward with the same speed that had surprised Grimmjow. He caught Isshin's wrist just before he would have plunged the blade into the sleeping man's heart. "Are you crazy?! Stop!"
"Let me go Ichigo! He'll get you killed! Don't you understand?" Isshin raged. Ichigo didn't understand anything except that Grimmjow didn't deserve to die, and hung on grimly as his father tried to shove him away. "He'll report you to the King!"
"Oh shut the fuck up, you daft bastard." They both froze at the voice from the bed. Grimmjow was sitting up, the blanket falling down to reveal that blue haired chest. Ichigo noticed that his wounds were looking much better, but he was still very pale and probably feverish. "He saved my life, twice. I'm not gonna report the kid. Now get the hell out, you dicks. I have the worst headache in my life, and I've had some damn good hangovers over the years." Grimmjow flopped back with a groan, throwing an arm over his eyes. "Second thought, you go ahead and stab me with that. I want to die…"
"You are not going to die." Ichigo said automatically, missing the astonished look his father gave him. "You are going to recover and go home to your sister! Now shut up and go to sleep." He ordered, and was satisfied to hear a soft chuckle.
"Yeah, yeah, I get it kid." Grimmjow settled in comfortably as Orihime came back with a glass of water, having entirely missed the commotion. Isshin took it politely and even managed to thank her before Ichigo dragged him out of the house.
"What is wrong with you?" Ichigo hissed when they were out of earshot. "Report me for what?" This didn't make any sense. What would the king care about a kid like him? His father stopped abruptly.
"Human children with innate spiritual talents are sent to the king for 'training.'" Isshin said with a deceptive calm. "But they are actually killed." Ichigo paled. With everything he knew about the Dark King, he didn't have trouble believing that at all. "And you revealed yours pretty plainly when you killed a spirit snake in front of an elf!"
"Grimmjow's a good man. He won't let anything happen to me." Ichigo defended the elven lord, but he wondered if he was right. And he wondered if Grimmjow would be able to defend him. This wasn't an important place, so either Grimmjow wasn't very powerful or he was out of favor with the royal court.
"Then he'll die too." Isshin muttered darkly and Ichigo flinched. "Being good doesn't get you anywhere in this world."
"Dad… nevermind." He clearly wasn't going to make his father feel any better about this. "Just don't try to kill Grimmjow again. I couldn't live with myself if he died after all this." It would kill him inside, to see that proud, brave man die after surviving so much. "Promise me dad, promise you won't do that again." There was a long silence as they walked, but Ichigo knew Isshin could feel his eyes on him. He was willing to wait as long as it took to get an answer.
"I… promise not to kill that elf, if he isn't a threat to you." He finally said and Ichigo's eyes narrowed. That was a weasel promise if he ever heard one. Grimmjow would always be a threat in Isshin's mind.
"And I'll decide if he's a threat or not." He snapped and had the satisfaction of seeing his father give him an outraged look. "You'll think he's a threat no matter what!"
"Because he is!" The fight had to stop, though, as they reached their home. Yuzu and Karin didn't need to know about all this, and Ichigo hoped neither of them had the innate spirit talents.
He didn't doubt his father was telling him the truth now, and he didn't want them to be in danger.
Ichigo had thought Grimmjow was getting better, but he was wrong.
The poison was completely gone, but the elf's whole system had been compromised. Naturally, Orihime had happened to pick up a slight case of the sniffles and had passed it to him. What should have been a minor nuisance for a human and completely unnoticeable for an elf had turned almost deadly, as the blue haired man had suffered a lung infection. For a while it had looked like Isshin's wishes about Grimmjow's health would be fulfilled, but after more healing from Orihime and Ichigo as well as a good bit of bullying, the elf had pulled through. The whole village was beginning to wonder if he would survive, though. And the subject of their speculation was beginning to get sullen about the whole thing.
"My head hurts, my chest hurts, my eyes hurt and I think even my cock hurts. I want to die. Someone kill me and put me out of my misery." Grimmjow muttered as he took a sip of water from a cup held in a shaking hand. "My throat hurts, my tongue hurts, my –"
"Shut up! Or I will strangle you and put you out of all of our misery!" Ichigo shouted as he slapped down a tray of food, almost making the soup spill. "Damnit!" He cursed as he caught the bowl just before it could drench Grimmjow. "You are the shittiest patient to ever stink up this place!"
"Oh no, he's not that bad Ichigo. Remember when that half-elf forester man broke his leg? I think his name was Renji? He was worse." Orihime spoke with the assurance of long experience. "Although Grimmjow is pretty bad." She allowed, getting a wheezy laugh from her patient. Using a towel to protect his hands, Grimmjow managed to pick up the bowl and take a sip of the beef broth. It was savory and filled with little slivers of beef, as well as vegetables so well cook they practically dissolved on the tongue. Ideal food for someone with a very sore throat.
"I'll have to tell my sister that there's someone out there worse than me." Grimmjow slowly worked at the soup and blessed silence fell over the healer's cottage. Ichigo had insisted that he be allowed to help Orihime with her work. It was something he often did, since he could amplify her power, but his father hadn't wanted to allow it. He'd finally worn Isshin down by the simple tactic of nagging. "Ah, that's good." Grimmjow said as he reached the bottom of the bowl. "Do you have anymore?" Ichigo saw the faint frown on Orihime's face, and knew the reason for it. He took a deep breath. The elf was recovered enough so it was probably time to confront a very crass and difficult topic.
"Grimmjow, we're dirt poor peasants. I hate to ask a sick man, but Orihime's been paying for beef bones and extra supplies for over a week. Do you have any money?" Ichigo got it out relatively easily and Grimmjow blinked before rubbing his forehead.
"Shit, I'm a moron. Or maybe the fevers have killed my brains and I'll be stupid forever. Could you get my saddle and bring it in here?" Ichigo nodded, going to fetch it. The horse was grazing in the meadow behind the house, although Orihime was buying fodder for it too. The grazing here wasn't very good. He quickly found the saddle, stored carefully in one the back room. He carefully sit it beside Grimmjow, who started to paw through the leather. "I'm so fucking weak right now… shit, can you pull this for me, really hard?" He was tugging on a strap. Ichigo blinked but did that, and was surprised when a kind of secret pouch was revealed. Grimmjow extracted a small purse. "My secret stash. I was too busy dying and you were too distracted, so we left the real money on my fucking traitor of a secretary."
"Oh!" Now Ichigo cursed himself for a fool. But not too much. He had been rather distracted by Grimmjow's attempt at dying. "Sorry, I didn't think of it."
"Eh, blood under the bridge." Grimmjow dismissed it with a wave, opening the pouch. The coins inside were mostly silver with a smattering of gold, and a few little gold bangles. "Hah, I'd forgotten about these." Grimmjow lifted out a gold ring and handed it to Ichigo. "You keep that. That's belonged to my grandpappy, but I hate it, it looks like shit on me and he never wore it anyway. It would look great on you though." Ichigo looked at the gold and amber band, surprised. The amber was a beautiful red shade and trapped in a cage of gold. He could see how it wouldn't go well with blue hair, though. "You deserve a reward for everything. The rest can go to your girl."
"She's not my girl." Ichigo said with a scowl. He hated how everyone in the village tried to pair him up with Orihime. She was nice and he liked her, but his feelings towards her were definitely more sisterly than anything. Suddenly Grimmjow sat bolt upright and Ichigo grabbed his shoulder. "What's wrong?"
"Oh fuck. Bolt the door and put something heavy on it, or – too late." There was a strange crackling sound and the front door flew open with startling force. Then a loud, strident voice split the air.
"Where's my brother? I know he's in here, I can smell his stink!" Ichigo stared as a tall, youthful elven woman with long, thick blue hair stalked into the room. If Grimmjow was entirely masculine, she was entirely feminine, but not in a way he would have expected. This wasn't an ethereal elf, either. Her body was flawless but so well-muscled that she looked like a young warrior, and her face had a feral beauty that complimented Grimmjow very well. There was no doubt at all that this was his sister. Two guards edged into the room behind her, giving her a wide berth. "You! You stupid bastard! Going on a trip with a man you knew was a spy, what the fuck was in your head?"
"Hello Feralina. Come give me a hug?" Grimmjow opened his arms wide, but got a slap instead. "Ow! Why the fuck is everyone slapping me?" He complained.
"Because you deserve it!" Feraline and Ichigo snapped almost simultaneously, then looked at each other in astonishment. Grimmjow groaned, laying back on his bed.
"Two of you, I'm fucking doomed, go get your dad Ichigo, I need the mercy stroke." That got him matching scowls. "And I didn't know he was a spy, I just thought he was a spy. I needed confo, ya right? It worked, didn't it?"
"It worked a damn sight too well!" She said and Ichigo noticed she had the same, very strange accent that Grimmjow did. "What did he do to you?" Anger was turning into worry and she spread her hands over her brother, assessing his injuries. "My stars! Grimmjow, how close have you come to dying?"
"Pretty close." Ichigo answered when Grimmjow showed no inclination. "Twice, actually. Once when he got here and the second when he contracted a lung infection. He's still getting over that." Feralina muttered obscenities as she gave Grimmjow healing power. It was stronger than what he had used, but nowhere close to what Orihime could put out. Orihime cleared her throat.
"I am the healer here, and I think he will get better if he doesn't overstress himself." She put in and Feralina glanced at her before nodding.
"You must be a good healer, pulling his sorry ass through this. Dare I ask if you've paid these people yet?" She demanded and Grimmjow groaned, just pointing to the purse in Ichigo's hands. "Oh, you just got to it – HEY! That's grandma's necklace, you bastard!"
"What, you like that thing? The cat looks constipated – STOP HITTING ME YOU BITCH!" Grimmjow managed a credible roar as she slapped him again. "Just because it's got sentimental shit on it doesn't mean we should keep it!"
"Well since you gave it to them we're not going to, are we?" She retorted, then said grudgingly. "And the cat does look constipated, but you're still a dick. Get to sleep Grimmy, I'll take care of everything." She promised but Grimmjow vented a frustrated whine.
"Is there any more food? I'm still hungry." Orihime quickly went to fetch some more, with the future supply of beef bones already addressed. Grimmjow slowly worked on the second bowl of broth and Ichigo noticed that his hands were much steadier. "Thanks Ori, that's perfect." Orihime dimpled as she took back the bowl and tray. Grimmjow settled back into the blankets with a sigh. "So you guys taking me home?"
"I was going to, but you're a disaster." Feralina said grumpily, glancing at her two guards before looking at Ichigo. "Does this place have an inn? Because I think moving my sickly brother would probably kill him."
"I think you're right, but no, it doesn't. There are probably a few villagers who have room though." Ichigo thought about it and grinned nastily. His father would want to kill him, but it wasn't like the elves didn't know about him already. "My cottage has a mother in law suite. I'll have to ask my dad, but there would be room." The house was really much bigger than they needed, designed for a time when there had been aunts and in-laws living there. Feralina grinned back at him.
"Oh yeah? I like you already, that would be great. Why don't you go ask your dad while I finish up here?" She gazed at her brother critically. "Someone needs a sponge bath. I bet he hasn't been letting you do it for him, has he?" Ichigo shook his head. Except in the depths of fever, Grimmjow insisted on trying to care for himself, and the results were mixed. Fortunately the elf smelled rather good even when he was filthy, a pleasant musky odor. "Typical. I'll handle it." Until he'd met her, Ichigo would have had trouble picturing an elven maiden giving a feisty, cursing elven man a sponge bath. Now he had absolutely no trouble imagining it. If these two were typical for elves, than the stories were even more stupid than he'd thought. And if they weren't typical for elves… well, he was glad.
They were really rather amazing.