Grimmjow winced as a little hand pulled on his hair. He was lying in the cushions, feeding little Netta. Lily was lying in her own pile of cushions, dead to the world.
"Hush Kai. I'm trying to – ow." He grunted as his offspring head butted him, trying to get his attention. "Ah, cubs." He managed to free one hand from the suckling child and ruffled Kai's hair before pulling him into an embrace. That caused the little boy to start climbing onto him, stepping on Netta. She let go of his nipple and began to whimper. "Kai! Be careful." Grimmjow warned the child as he adjusted things, but Kai ignored him. "Damn it."
He was having problems with the cubs. Grimmjow felt exhausted just thinking about it. Starrk was a wolf and they were nurturing, but Lilynette had been his female side. Without her his body was resolutely male and he could not conceive, let alone nurse a cub. So Grimmjow needed to nurse the new babies, and his old litter didn't like it one bit.
It actually could have been going worse. Real hollow cubs didn't put up with this sort of thing and the babies would have been eaten by now. Of course, if he'd been a normal adjuchas he'd never have adopted the babies in the first place. Give his attention to a strange litter when his own was still in the nest? Not a chance. And when his second litter arrived his old one would have been out the door, ready or not.
But Kai, Masaki and Ryuu were reacting in a more human fashion. They were curious, fascinated and sometimes jealous of the babies. Or rather, they were jealous of his time and attention. Masaki had actually started trying to feed from him again, something he'd put a quick stop to. But it emphasized how much his little ones wanted and needed him.
"Seven." Grimmjow muttered, glancing down at his belly. Szayel had checked and he was carrying twins. Gently setting Netta down beside her sister, he began to play with Kai. As he did he glanced at the other occupant of the room.
Starrk was denning with him and Ichigo now. Unfortunately, he was still depressed and had trouble stirring himself. Right now, he was sleeping with Ryuu and Masaki. The two cubs were using him as a mattress, draped over his snoring body. That wouldn't last long, though, and Grimmjow grinned as Masaki slid off his side and landed on her butt with a tiny oomph. The sleepy cub yawned and blinked a bit before lurching to her feet. Then she babbled something before toddling over to him and Kai.
"Hey, you cubs want to hear a story?" Grimmjow asked. Masaki and Kai both beamed at him, not understanding a word. "I'll tell you about – uh. Okay cub." Masaki was trying to give him a block. He took it, bemused. "I need blocks then?" She toddled away and grabbed another block, bringing it to him. "Apparently I do." Not to be outdone, Kai joined into the 'fetch blocks and give them to damma' game. "Ah cubs… thank you." He decided to accept the blocks gracefully and began arranging them. That got Masaki interested and soon they were having an arrange the blocks contest. Ryuu woke up and left Starrk, but he didn't join them immediately. He just stood beside the babies, gazing down at the two sleeping infants in wonder. Grimmjow grinned to himself. Of his current litter, Ryuu liked the little ones the best.
"Grimmjow!" Ichigo burst into the room, looking elated. Grimmjow put a finger over his lips and pointed at the twins. "Oh, sorry… guess what's happened?"
"We've made peace with the shinigami and all your friends can go home?" He asked absently as Kai stood on his tippy toes, trying valiantly to put a block on the top. The whole thing came down and Masaki pouted, but held back from biting her brother as Grimmjow gave her a sharp look. Ichigo's eyes went wide.
"How did you know?" He asked and Grimmjow blinked.
"Wait, what, really?" The Espada said, taken aback. He'd just said that because it was the first thing that sprung to mind and Ichigo's friends were sort of a problem. They couldn't go home, they couldn't eat hollow food and the caverns really didn't have any kind of facilities for them. They were living on baby food and getting kind of smelly at the moment. "Are you serious?" They had made peace with the shinigami? For real? Ichigo grinned as he saw he'd surprised his mate after all.
"Yes. They had some conditions though." His smile turned a touch sad and Grimmjow frowned. "They dropped the condition about all the arrancar living in Los Noches. Now it's only half, and any children that aren't in the Living World." That had to be a concession to the fact that he and Ichigo would be returning to the Living World. "They added something new, though… most of my powers will be sealed." He said quietly and Grimmjow stared at the teen, stunned. "My bankai and a chunk of my vizard powers."
"What! You saved their asses how many times and this is how they repay you?!" Grimmjow said, incensed. Ichigo's smile went from sad to amused as Ryuu crawled into his lap. He gently cuddled his son as Grimmjow ranted. "Those bastards better not expect you to help out again!"
"That's actually why I agreed." Ichigo said and Grimmjow frowned, not understanding. "I have a family and I'm going to be going to school soon. Maybe not medical school – I want to spend time with the children – but I'll have a job, things I have to do. I can't keep being the savior of Soul Society." He said softly and Grimmjow chewed his lip. The teen did have a point. "I'll still have enough power to get rid of hollows and keep the babies safe. That's all I really need."
"And I'll be there to protect 'em too." Grimmjow said before giving Ichigo a wondering look. "You're okay with this?" It didn't really seem like Kurosaki's thing, tamely giving up his powers. But the smile he got in reply seemed almost happy.
"If it will get all this chaos to stop, yes, I'm okay with it." He said lightly and Grimmjow nodded. That did sound like Ichigo. He'd sacrificed his powers once without a second thought, of course he would do it again. "We haven't accepted the offer yet. Harribel needed to go over it. But it looks like she will."
"Hoi!" That made him stand up. "I need to talk to her. If we're accepting this offer, I've got a condition of my own." Grimmjow said decisively and Ichigo blinked. "I want to know who the hell the sire of my cubs is and I want some fucking support. This is ridiculous. Seven cubs!" They simply wouldn't fit in Ichigo's house. No way. "Where will they sleep, the roof?" He muttered and Ichigo winced.
"You're right. I'll look after the kids while you talk to Harribel." Ichigo took his vacated spot and Masaki and Kai were more than willing to build block castles with him. Ryuu toddled over, gripping his leg and saying his favorite word. Grimmjow grinned as he left the room. He needed to talk to Harribel.
If peace was about to break out, he needed to get some support for his kids.
Grimmjow squared his shoulders and looked on fearlessly as he faced the Gotei 13. They were meeting in the ruins of Los Noches, which struck him as oddly appropriate.
This would be the formal ratification of the peace treaty. Ichigo and his friends were there, looking a bit worse for wear. Harribel, Gantenbainne and Violetta were there too. Violetta's expression was very calm and serene and Grimmjow could see the resemblance between her and Byakuya. He'd cornered her and gotten the full story out of her, and gotten her to teach him a bit of new kido. Byakuya's father had been a master at it.
"What is this special condition, arrancar?" Yamamoto rumbled, clearly unhappy with any last minute changes. Grimmjow couldn't help but grin. He'd be even less happy when he found out what his scientist lackey had been up to.
"I want to know who the sire of my cubs is." He said plainly, glancing around the area. Renji was there, behind Byakuya. "All I know is that the person is standing in this room. Clown face over there told me he used a taichou class reiatsu." He jerked a thumb at Mayuri, who seemed indifferent at the insult. "And I want some support. Seven kids is too goddamned many." He let the resentment enter his voice and Grimmjow could see several of the taichou around him trading appalled glances.
"Mayuri. Did I not tell you to leave him unharmed?" Yamamoto demanded, quite displeased. Ichigo was standing behind Grimmjow, and he could feel the hybrid's temper rising as he scowled at Kurotsuchi.
"What do you mean? Pregnancy is a perfectly natural process! He wasn't harmed in any way." Mayuri protested and Grimmjow barked a laugh. Eyes turned towards him and he shrugged.
"Sorry. He's right though, I'm not harmed… as long as I have help raising them." He eyed Kurotsuchi for a moment. "I think it should come out of the Twelfth's budget." They deserved to take a financial hit for this. That made Mayuri squawk in outrage. But Kyoraku interrupted before things could go any further.
"Did you really use one of our reiatsu on this arrancar, Mayuri?" He asked and the scientist shrugged. "Isn't that a violation of the code of conduct?" He directed the question to Unohana, who shook her head.
"You have all signed a waver in regards to experimental uses of your reiatsu and DNA." She said softly and Grimmjow blinked. "It's required for anyone fukutaichou or above. Perhaps the terms should be reworked, but at the moment I believe it is a blanket permission."
"Che! Who reads those things?" Shinji complained before glancing at Mayuri. "Tell me I'm not about to be a dad." He shuddered theatrically and Mayuri shook his head.
"Oh no. I eliminated any Visored immediately. We already had proof from Kurosaki that such a mating was possible, so I wanted to see the outcome with a shinigami parent." He said cheerfully and Grimmjow smiled as he saw Shinji and Kensei visibly relax. This was actually kind of funny and reminded him a bit of a Maury episode. "And of course, I removed Komamura taichou's reiatsu. I didn't want his unusual genetics tainting my experiment."
"I have never been more grateful to be what I am." The wolf headed taichou rumbled and Grimmjow snickered.
"I'm just glad I'm a woman!" Soi-fon said cheerfully and Kurotsuchi sniggered. Unohana shook her head before enlightening her fellow taichou.
"He used an injection of DNA and reiatsu. There was no reason at all he could not have used one from a female." She said and Soi-fon's eyes went wide. She stared at her fellow taichou in horror for a moment, clearly grappling with the idea.
"No! I'm too young to be a – a – " She couldn't even think of a word for it and Grimmjow wearily supplied her with one.
"Sire." He said before feeling Ichigo's arm around his shoulders. He smiled at the hybrid as Soi-fon kept going.
"A sire! I'm only a hundred!" Grimmjow lifted his eyebrows at that. That was young around here? "I'm not ready for children! No, what will I do –" She was gripping her braids in anxiety and Yamamoto lost his patience.
"Enough! Mayuri, who is the sire of these creatures?" He demanded and Grimmjow's eyes narrowed, his hand dropping to his belly. Creatures? Kurotsuchi shrugged.
"I actually don't know. I didn't want my own reactions to taint my selection so the samples were unmarked. Of course, I have the answer in my records! I was saving it as a birthday gift to myself." He grinned, rubbing his hands together. Grimmjow could totally see that, it was the sort of thing Szayel would do. Fucking fruit loops.
"Have these guys chip together and buy you a cake. Answer now, please." He said and Mayuri almost pouted before gesturing to his assistant.
"Nemu, the records please." He said and she bowed.
"Hai." She vanished in a burst of sonido and there was an uncomfortable pause as the former enemies eyed each other.
"I hope they're yours Ken-chan!" Yachiru said, breaking the silence with good cheer. The towering taichou sighed.
"Ah, what a pain… it would be interesting though." He mused as his sidekick giggled. "Bet they'd be some scrappy little bastards." Grimmjow snorted. He could only imagine how his own rage filled tendencies would mesh with Zaraki's lust for battle. The cubs would be ferocious.
"Biters, guaranteed." He predicted and Kenpachi laughed. "I'm carrying twins, by the way." He wasn't sure that had been spelled out.
"Twins? That's very rare for shinigami. Is that normal for arrancar?" Hitsugaya asked and Grimmjow shrugged.
"Our fertility depends on our animal type, and I'm a cat. So that's actually pretty low. I was expecting triplets or quads." He said honestly and saw some of the shinigami wince. Good, at least they understood what he was going through. Seven kids, aiee!
It didn't take Nemu long to get back with the answer. She bowed again before simply announcing it to the gathered crowd.
"The children belong to Kuchiki taichou." She said simply and Grimmjow heard Violetta gasp. He didn't care, giving his attention to the taichou that looked so much like his lost lover. He was looking… pissed. Extremely pissed.
"Scatter, Senbonza – " He started but Yamamoto gave him a sharp glare. Grimmjow winced as he felt a choking reiatsu fill the air. He could stand against it but it was highly unpleasant and many of the other taichou were wavering a bit. Violetta took a step back, wincing. Then something occurred to him. A power that had resonated…?
It was a painful thought. So painful that he almost discarded it, shoved it away from him like a burning match. But despite the pain it fascinated him and he examined Byakuya's face. It seemed strange that physical features could stay the same but perhaps that was how it worked for shinigami.
"How old are you?" He asked and attention switched to him as Yamamoto reined in his reiatsu. Byakuya stared at him with a slight frown on his face.
"I fail to see the relevance of the question." He said frostily and Grimmjow grimaced. That made him sound like Ulquiorra.
"I just… do I have this right? When a shinigami dies, they are reborn in the Living World?" He asked, then hesitated. "Are they usually spiritually aware?" Now that he thought of it… that might explain how they had gotten so far so quickly in their investigation. Had Kai been spiritually aware and questioning the ghosts?
"That is true. What of it?" Yamamoto rumbled and Grimmjow swallowed, taking a step towards Byakuya.
"How old are you?" He asked again. If his guess was correct, it would explain a great deal. Byakuya's frown deepened but he finally answered.
"A hundred and twenty-three years." He stated and Grimmjow considered it. He'd thought it had been longer, but things had changed very rapidly in the last century, from what Ichigo had told him. And there might have been a time gap between death and rebirth. Grimmjow swallowed, gazing in those grey eyes and looking for any hint of recognition.
"It might be then… Kai? Is that you?" He asked softly, still searching for any sign of his lost lover. But all he saw was discomfort and confusion. "…No." He took a step back and glanced over as he felt Ichigo beside him. The teen was looking at him in concern and Grimmjow gave him a reassuring smile. Even if he was right, Byakuya couldn't remember. They had parted ways irrevocably when Kai went on to a new life as a shinigami, and Ryuu went on to become a powerful hollow. He rested a hand over Ichigo's, comforting his mate and himself. The past was over and done with.
"What is this? You think he might be the reincarnation of someone you knew? How interesting!" Grimmjow grimaced as Mayuri suddenly got enthusiastic. Trust that scientist creep to ruin the moment. Although it distracted him from his pain, so maybe it was a good thing.
"I had a lover when I was alive. He looked like your friend here." He jerked his chin at Byakuya, who was looking rather uncertain and uncomfortable. "If he is a reborn Kai it might explain the resonance, but it doesn't matter. Are you going to help me with the cubs?" He directed the question to the shinigami, who took a deep breath.
"Of course. The Kuchiki clan will see to your upkeep." Byakuya paused before giving Kurotsuchi a cold look. "The clan elders will not be amused by the circumstances, but I will see to that. What do you require?" He asked and Grimmjow could think of several things offhand. A bigger house, some help with the cubs… if he had a new litter on top of the twins with no extra help, his old litter would have a conniption fit. Before he could say any of that, though, Yamamoto interrupted.
"See to this later. For now, we have met your condition. Is the treaty acceptable?" That brought them back to business and Grimmjow watched as Yamamoto and Harribel formally ratified the treaty, bringing an end to the war in Hueco Mundo. He honestly felt nothing but relief. It was finally over and they could all go home. He felt Ichigo's arm around his shoulders tighten and glanced at the shinigami with a smile.
He couldn't wait to see Isshin, Yuzu and Karin again.
Many months later.
"Oi, Grimmjow! Where are you? Lily and Netta are hungry!" Grimmjow groaned as he heard the voice from inside the house and heaved himself to his feet. He was heavy with cub again, although this time he was better fed. It turned out Kurotsuchi had made that special food by imparting a concentrated reishi infusion into it. It required Soul Society, though – not even Karakura town had enough reishi – so all the food had to be brought over for him. Byakuya's clan was seeing to that so he had plenty to eat.
And that was a good thing, because between Lily, Netta and the new cubs he was being drained dry again. Walking inside he quickly found Karin. She was in the massive room that had once been a ballroom. Grimmjow and Ichigo had changed it to a child's play room, full of toys, mats and plush pillows.
"Ah, cubs. Give them here." Grimmjow took the two cubs from Karin, smiling as he brought them close for another feeding. Masaki walked over with a drawing in hand, smiling brightly.
"Drew you damma!" She announced and Grimmjow grinned as he looked at the picture. The wavy lines looked like nothing human, let alone him. He wasn't going to tell her that though.
"It's beautiful cub." He said affectionately as the babies suckled. His old litter were advancing rapidly. They could put together simple sentences now and could walk easily. Ichigo thought they were roughly equivalent to two year old children, perhaps three.
"Damma play! Play!" Kai demanded as he grabbed Grimmjow's arm, trying to yank him away. Karin scowled and caught the little boy, lifting him up and tickling him until he squealed.
"Damma can't play right now, he's nursing the babies. No play when the babies are eating, remember?" Karin said firmly and Kai pouted, sticking out his lower lip. Grimmjow grinned at the expression. He was mimicking Masaki, who looked very cute when she did that. On Kai it looked rather ridiculous.
"They eat all time!" Kai complained and Grimmjow sighed to himself. He was right about that, but it was the one thing he couldn't farm out to anyone else. Fortunately, the feedings might be frequent but they were short.
"Just a few minutes cub, then the girls can take 'em." He said comfortingly. The 'girls', as he called them, were actually what Byakuya referred to as mother's help. For nobles it was perfectly normal to have attendants who helped with every aspect of child rearing, from diapers to feedings. Often they were also wet nurses but Grimmjow didn't need that. Having extra hands to cuddle the babies and change them when his own litter needed his attention was invaluable, though.
"That forever!" Kai exclaimed and Grimmjow snickered. From the perspective of an impatient little boy, a few minutes probably was forever. That was one of the few things he could remember about his own childhood. When you got older, time seemed to pass much, much faster.
"That is forever." Karin corrected him and Kai pouted again, then yelled happily as Karin gripped his ankles and turned him upside down. "Want me to play with you, brat?" She asked and Kai rolled his eyes, horns bobbing.
"Yesh!" He exclaimed and Karin put him on his feet before starting a game of chase. Grimmjow settled on his cushions and waited patiently for the twins to finish eating. When they were done he handed them off, one to a helper and the other to Starrk. The Primera was awake and willing to help.
"Netta." He murmured, holding his little girl and rocking her to sleep. Grimmjow didn't stick around to watch, joining the game of chase. Soon Masaki and Ryuu were both involved, running around crazily. They almost stepped on Lily, who was beaming widely and crawling after them. Grimmjow laughed as everyone dodged the tiny cub until the girl could grab her and pull her away from the danger zone. The twins were crawling a lot now, just like his first litter had at this age.
Grimmjow winced as he felt a flash of pain from his stomach, a tightening in the muscles. He'd been feeling slight pains off and on for days. It wasn't how his first birth had gone but Isshin had assured him it was normal for a shinigami, and Unohana and Urahara both agreed. Kurotsuchi too, not that Grimmjow cared about him. But with the treaty in place the scientist was being allowed to follow up on his experiment, under supervision.
So Grimmjow ignored the pain and continued the game. He also ignored the second. But when the third came, along with a painful muscle contraction, he paused, gasping slightly. That felt like…
"Hey, Mayaki?" He said, grimacing as another pain hit him. The girl looked up from Lily, surprised. "Can you… get Isshin and send word to Soul Society? I think I'm in labor." He was pretty sure now. It was hard to mistake when you'd felt it before. Her eyes went wide and she quickly handed Lily to Starrk before bolting from the room. All three of his cubs looked at him wide eyed as Karin came over, resting a hand on his belly.
"Oh yeah, you definitely are." She said as she felt the muscles ripple. Grimmjow winced as he felt his water break, staining his sweatpants. Then he looked down as he felt a tug on his leg.
"Damma hurt!" Masaki had tears in her eyes and Grimmjow laughed, a bit pained, as he felt her trying to offer her energy. He gently pushed it away before patting her head. Her short white hair was soft as silk.
"It's just the new cubs coming out to see us. You want to see them, right?" He asked. He'd done his best to make the old litter enthusiastic about the new one. It was rough going, since they'd already experienced how Lily and Netta claimed so much of his attention. Masaki pouted, doing a much better job than Kai.
"No! Stay inside!" She scolded his abdomen and Karin snorted as Grimmjow shook his head. "Bad!"
"Silly cub." He said affectionately as Ryuu grabbed his other leg.
"My babies!" Ryuu said enthusiastically. He was the one cub Grimmjow had managed to get into the spirit of things, although he said the babies were his.
Isshin and Ichigo arrived at the same time, and Grimmjow relaxed as the teen's arms went around him. Then came the car ride to Kisuke's. The cubs all wanted to come, but that would just be too much and they were firmly vetoed. The girls took care of them, handling the piteous wails with the ease of long experience. Unohana was already there when they got to Kisuke's but to Grimmjow's surprise, so was Byakuya.
"Did you think I would not be present for the birth of my children?" He asked and Grimmjow wisely held back his first response, that that was exactly what he'd expected. Giving birth wasn't too pretty and not many noblemen would be involved.
"Well, I think this one is going to be short." He said instead. He could already feel the first child dropping. "Like, really short… sec." He stripped off the pants and looked around for the beanbag chair. Kisuke had put it in the same spot as last time and he grabbed it, resting his chest on it again. Ichigo knelt beside him, gently rubbing his back as he got to business.
It was short, but very painful. The children panicked as they felt themselves leaving the womb, just as his first litter had. Grimmjow closed his eyes and floated them love, reassuring them as he brought them into the world. Something inside him tore and he gasped in pain as the first child exited his body. If it had been a normal wound his regeneration would have taken care of it, but the second child was following the first. Grimmjow whimpered as Kisuke took away the first cub, ignoring the screaming child as his body continued with the heavy labor.
"This hurts like a motherfucker – argh!" He gasped in pain, vaguely aware of the blood running down his legs. "Shit fuck goddamnit…" He snarled and he heard Byakuya shift.
"Is that much blood normal?" He asked and Grimmjow felt Kurosaki's arms slide around him. The teen could see what was going on there and from what he was getting it didn't look very good.
"No, he's hemorrhaging." Isshin sounded very calm and Grimmjow suspected that was a bad thing. "Grimmjow, can you – no." Grimmjow grunted as he felt the second child starting to leave him. This was the one he thought might be a boy, although he wasn't sure about that. They both might be girls. "He's too far along. We have to wait until the birth is done." Blood transfusions wouldn't work on a hollow.
"I'm gonna be fine. I'm tough." He snarled, a bit annoyed by all this concern. Although he was starting to feel woozy. "Just ask Ichigo how much blood I can lose, he let out most of it – argh!" That hurt. But the second child finally slid free, followed by another gush of blood. "Unh." He was really woozy now. Tired, too. Maybe if he just closed his eyes for a moment…
"Grimmjow, no! You have to…" Ichigo's panicked voice was not enough to hold him and the Espada relaxed into his lover's embrace, closing his eyes. He'd delivered the cubs and he was tired, he needed to sleep.
Everything would be fine now.