The Meaning behind Birds
By Curiosity Killed Kristy
Fuck them. Fuck them all in their celestial asses, he cursed. All he had wanted was to swoop over the city. That shit-head, Tosen, had gone too far with his little comment of "You are a disgrace to all angels, Grimmjow."
They could control his wings. They could control his actions. But they sure as hell couldn't control what his mind wanted to say. While he was cursing the fucker in his head, he thought, why not take a detour to Earth?
Frankly, he was getting tired of being told what to do. He knew that he was supposed to watch from above. He knew that he was supposed to always obey the higher ups. He knew that he wasn't supposed to interact with humans.
He was an angel, not a dumbass. He was created to know these rules, no, laws, from the very moment he breathed existence.
He wanted to go to the bustling cities with humans hustling and sweeping sweat and grime over everything. To observe them have a purpose.
Not like him, at least. He sighed, leaning over his knee as he overlooked the city from where he perched on a billboard. He had done it more times than he could keep track of. That was, he'd experimented with their senses.
He would stand on the middle of a street, the unknowing humans swerving about him like a school of fish, their goals set tightly in the crevices of their minds. In each time he stood there, none ever batted an eyelash at him.
He would do it time and time again. But that was rarely. He realized long ago that no matter what he did, they would never be able to see him. Just admitting it to himself was painful enough.
"We were created solely to watch over them. Nothing more and nothing less, Grimmjow."
Who decided that, he wondered. God? Tosen? He chuckled bitterly to himself, watching smoke billow from a nearby bakery, slowly polluting the air in its darkness.
He raised his eyes towards the sky, sluggishly dragging daylight in its orange iridescence as the Sun set, and then shifted them to the people below. Heh. Of course they wouldn't be looking at the sky. They didn't have time for that. They all had something to do. An existence to fulfill.
Unlike him. He sighed again, scratching the back of his head, and then slowly rose to his feet to stretch his legs. He guessed he needed to head back soon. Otherwise Tosen would throw another of his bitch fits again.
He unfurled his turquoise wings, his feathers showering around him in a sort of kaleidoscope. But, why not take another walk, just to ruffle that bastard's feathers a bit? He agreed on the thought almost instantly, taking to the ground with blind eyes missing his descent.
He tucked his bothersome wings, furrowing into a sort of cocoon against his back. Lately they'd been getting heavier to just leave hanging about, inflicting pain on his shoulder blades in the morning.
He buried his hands into his pockets, paying no heed to the individuals around him. Back then, he had always found it odd how humans walked around him, never knowing that they had just swerved around an invisible entity in the middle of a street. But he had grown used to it, and in turn, had taught himself how to ignore it.
Nightfall was slowly approaching, and the buildings around him began to glow from within, the fast-paced humans barely taking note of it. He could hear the subways click and clack against the railings, the soft chatters of people talking to others via phone or face to face, and the soft music pouring from nearby speakers.
He'd take these sites in now and then; appreciate how the humans advanced in their ways of living, yet none of them ever looked grateful for them. It was like they all drifted by in a sort of cloud, never taking the time to swallow everything in its glory.
His thoughts were shushed abruptly, when he heard the squeal of a rusty door, the force of its push against a brick wall nearly deafening in its clang. He heard the shuffling of clothes and feet in his periphery, and through the dim lighting near the building, he could make out two figures in the dark alley.
"... don't have the money yet, Shirosaki," he heard a man mutter. It was silent for a time, nothing to disturb it but the friction of moving feet against pavement, until the taller of the two shoved the body in front of him against the wall. From where he stood, he could see that it was uncomfortable from the way the man flinched.
"I don't get my paycheck till next week," he informed with his arms stiff by his sides, and unwilling to fight.
Shirosaki chuckled darkly. "Ichi, there's only so much I can do for you." He leaned in closer to the worker, the so-called 'Ichi' unblinking at the intended intimidation. "Big boss'll have my ass if you don't have the money by tomorrow. But hey, like I said, there are always other alternatives."
Grimmjow frowned at the blatant come-on. "Shirosaki, I told you, I'm not doing that again."
"Ah, come on. Don't act like you didn't enjoy it," the man whispered lowly into his ear, his grip on his neck tightening.
"L-let go." He could see the panic begin to set in those fire-filled eyes, his fingers twitching ever so slightly.
Shirosaki cackled again. "Come on, Ichigo. I'll make it worth yer while. I'll pay you double what this shop pays you in a day."
"Fuck you! I'm not a prostitute!" Ichigo shrieked, his hands tugging at that one wrist at last.
"You could be," Shirosaki jeered.
Sick bastard, Grimmjow cursed silently.
"You must never be in contact with a human. That is the most colossal offense an angel can make, Grimmjow Jeagerjaques."
Fuck that. He wasn't gonna let this man suffer like this, especially if it was right here in front of him. Violation or sin be damned. He was an angel, for shit's sake.
Clearly no one was going to swoop in and save this man's endangered life, too tightly sealed in their gift wrappings of life. They couldn't slow down their paces just to help out a fellow human being. More like they chose not to.
With the quickest idea that popped in his head, his eyes landed on a metal trash can, overflowing with garbage, banana peels, and other mysterious, anonymous objects. With the swiftness of a cheetah, he successfully kicked hard enough to topple it over and allow its contents to contaminate the walkway.
Some of the humans were fortunate enough to dodge it, but some of the others weren't as lucky. Shirosaki instantaneously released him, inching reluctantly away, while some of the pedestrians aimlessly striding by began to peer into the alley, bringing very unwanted attention onto the both of them.
Eventually all of the humans began to clear out when they saw no fight, continuing on with their busy lives. Soon enough, Shirosaki had also left Ichigo to his own devices to continue his job, but not without giving him a last, non-subtle reminder before taking his leave.
Just in case anymore hooligans interrupted the orange-head again, Grimmjow remained there, awaiting the boy's return inside the building. He was momentarily shocked when the stranger had stayed in the alleyway, inspecting the place. Looking behind the trashcan, and cleaning it up with suspicion in his eyes.
For a moment, Grimmjow saw something he had never seen a human do: he slowed his pace.
He worked for the lives of his sisters. That's what he had first learned. Every cent that was given to him would go for the sake of their school, food, shelter, and clothes.
As for him, he had none of that and survived on meager amounts of bread left over from his job.
He didn't know what caused this series of events. He had seen the man nearly pummeled in an alley, and then straight after he was done with work, something had possessed him and made him follow this abnormal, apricot-haired man home.
He knew he shouldn't have, or else his curfew would be missed. But... this man. He had something about him; this atmosphere that drew him in a like a moth.
He wanted to know how this man lived, and how he went about doing things. He discovered that this man was selfless, and would do anything to make his sisters' living conditions stable and filled with happiness.
He was paving a road for them; a road he would never cross again. Education, college, marriage. It was all out of the question. Every day, he would rouse from sleep, and by then, his sisters would already be in school.
He would trudge to his closet with eyes closed, and whatever he first touched, he took. Then, he'd strap his bag on, and he was on his way to work for nearly nine to twelve hours, washing the dishes, catering to customers, mopping the floor. Anything to earn money.
And through it all, he'd have this positive aura hanging around like wisps. Whatever was thrown at him, he would accept as a challenge, and whatever hardships he faced, he'd tackle.
But there were days where he couldn't handle everything on his own, and it would take a toll on him and affect him the next day. Usually, he'd just mess up someone's order, forget the things he was just told, or slip on a puddle of water, but if it were any worse than that, Grimmjow would step in once a while.
Today, he caught Ichigo on a good day. He went about his usual business, and Grimmjow didn't have to move at all.
He found it odd that on days like these he'd want something to go wrong.
His sisters were applying for high school now. Ichigo seemed thrilled about it, and his sisters were as well, but Grimmjow couldn't help but think of how lonesome Ichigo would be.
His younger sisters would meet new friends and form relationships, while he was left to the side, not receiving any of those when he was the one who purely deserved it.
But as always, he just sat back and banned himself from getting involved any further.
On Ichigo's days off, he would watch him remain in the house, just sitting there or taking naps he wasn't able to afford on his days of work. Or if staying inside for far too long got unbearable, he would traipse around the park till his sisters came home.
It was a hectic yet peaceful life. Nothing too out of the ordinary, yet Grimmjow couldn't pull himself away. He wondered why that was.
On a very unusual afternoon, just when Grimmjow thought Ichigo would walk aimlessly around the park again, he veered onto a different path.
He ambled throughout the town; his eyes solely focused on one thing, ignoring the public displays of affection from couples, the bantering of friends, or the arguments of children and their parents. He continued to walk, and when he stopped, Grimmjow realized that Ichigo had been planning to buy flowers.
It became apparent to Grimmjow that Ichigo was a frequent customer, yet through all the months he had been watching him, he'd never visited this place till today.
Ichigo had forged on, Grimmjow following suit, and when they reached their destination, the angel felt a twinge in his stomach and his heart. The flowers were laid upon soft grass, the tombstones of his beloved parents staring out at them.
Ichigo didn't say a word. He just sat, facing his deceased parents with a melancholy smile on his face. "Happy anniversary," he said. Grimmjow thought he heard a tremor in his voice, but when he saw that Ichigo was chuckling to himself softly, he convinced himself that it was probably just his ears playing tricks on him.
Ichigo met someone new today, and they hit it off well. They shared the same interests, and helped each other out in their times of need at work. They had even grown so comfortable around the other that they could bicker back and forth, empty threats chucked at the other and laughter bubbling in their throats.
Grimmjow couldn't figure out why he grew with rage each time he saw him and her interact. Initially, he thought it was because he had always wanted something like that. But it was becoming clearer that he just wanted Ichigo to himself.
"When a human plagues your mind, you are bound to commit a formidable act."
Aizen had told him that not too long ago. It wasn't as if he told the nosy bastard anything that was roaming his mind. That man always probed minds without anyone having to say a word.
Grimmjow figured that it'd be better if he kept his distance from the Human World. He was growing far too attached to it. Maybe Tosen had been right, but he'd be damned if he admitted that out loud.
He had been so caught up in the daily routine Ichigo had swept him up in, he neglected his duties. He watched the humans from where he sat, all of them running about as if ants. Little dots scurrying around.
He hated watching from up here. He felt blind. Unreachable. He pictured his hand picking up a clump of all those humans, and wondered if they would feel that or disregard it and just hang from his fingertips. He sighed, dismissing the thought. He found it funny how even though he was a being of higher spirituality than humans, that he himself couldn't answer his own questions.
"You seem to have a lot on your mind," a voice disrupted.
Grimmjow glanced up at the voice, frown deepening and setting in the corners. "Shut the hell up," he rebutted on instinct. He heard the older angel laugh in a lazy baritone, echoing around the empty space.
"Angels shouldn't use that kind of language," the man laughed, seating himself fairly closely to Grimmjow.
Grimmjow sighed for the umpteenth time. Staark was the angel he'd only ever had full conversations with. He was tolerable, and listened to anyone's problems, but he also didn't take shit from anyone.
Staark smiled softly. "I used to sigh like that." He clasped his fingers together, his eyes fixated on a patch of humans in the middle of a street. "It's hard to grasp around, but I loved a human once."
Grimmjow picked his head up from his bent knee, his ears perking up at the story. "Of course, we can never interact with them. They don't see us, smell us, or hear us, but they can feel us. But not through senses," Staark informed lightheartedly, patting Grimmjow nonchalantly on his shoulder, who shrugged it off.
"This human o' yours. There are thousands just like them, a carbon copy of the other. But somehow, we find one that speaks to us the most without words but actions alone. And when we meet one, they have this uncanny ability of making us feel human."
When Grimmjow returned, Ichigo was his usual self. There was no difference in his appearance, attitude, outlook, or behavior from his initial visit to now.
Grimmjow found it gladdening but somewhat disheartening that he was the only one receiving the short end of the stick. Still, despite what his feelings were, Ichigo remained working for his two sisters, and poking fun at his new best friend, Rukia, and for once, Grimmjow saw him finally smiling.
He didn't know if he felt envious or thankful to Rukia, but he assumed it was for the better and thought it best to leave it at that. The two would occasionally hang around each other outside of work, but it usually just ended up at either one's house.
The setting was the same each time. They would buy the cheapest beer, and buy the cheapest sweets on the shelf, then gorge themselves till they were sick. But that only happened on certain nights. Nights where Ichigo's sisters were spending their time elsewhere.
On nights like those, Ichigo would drown himself in alcohol; snicker at the half-assed drawings of misshaped rabbits and bears that Rukia drew with a permanent marker, throw popcorn kernels on the screen when certain scenes of a movie displeased him, or simply have chugging competitions with Rukia.
Ichigo would guffaw and guffaw so intensely that he'd nearly puke himself to death, and by then, Rukia would say enough was enough, and they would clean up their mess and wave goodbye.
Each time she left, Ichigo would close the door, losing the only strength he had left to slump against the door and fall into a disfigured heap, crying himself to sleep.
On nights like tonight, Grimmjow would heft his slumbering form into his arms, carrying him to his room, and sliding the blanket over his chilled body. Moments like these had grown so frequent that Grimmjow wasn't afraid to rouse the boy from his sleep any longer.
He would watch Ichigo twist and turn, never finding that comfortable spot till dawn broke through the sky, muttering nonsense and spouting shit that even intelligent human beings wouldn't be able to comprehend.
Ichigo mumbled about the most typical things. He would whisper his sisters' names tenderly, utter his love of takoyaki, or sometimes even talk about his parents. Some of them were of happiness, and Grimmjow could tell with the goofy grin on his face. But then there were some that were filled with tears, and Ichigo would cry even during sleep.
Tonight, it was both.
For once in his immortal life, Grimmjow had an urge to do something, his movements fluid and instinctive. He could feel the Sun creeping up behind the blinds, highlighting the features of his face as he hovered above Ichigo.
From where he stood, he could feel his soft breathing, smell the alcohol from his mouth, and hear the beating of his heart. Could feel his soft skin as he caressed that warm cheek. Examined the long eyelashes fluttering, and then watching lips that glistened against the Sun's rays.
It was only for a moment, one with eyes closed, bodies flush and connected, and lips united. He could feel the soft puffs of exhalation from his nose; could taste the saltiness.
But it was only for a moment. Ichigo had opened his eyes the second he inched away, groggy and head pounding. He blinked for a time, confusion clouding his memories, and when dawning occurred, he resumed his normal agenda, only it was slightly altered when he forgot to take off his socks when he entered the shower.
And though it was a fleeting moment, Grimmjow was sure it was sculpted into his memory in fine detail.
Ichigo's sisters had finally graduated. They had dressed in their finest clothes; the closest things they could scavenge of luxurious fabric. Even then, as Ichigo had fitted his suit on, the angel could see the disappointment in his eyes, wishing he had worked harder so that his sisters could've gotten their dream dresses.
They had gone to the school, and his sisters were congratulated by friends and teachers alike, but eventually, the two of them wanted to spend some time with close companions, and Ichigo let them be.
Ichigo had sat and watched his sisters mingle, a smile gracing his lips. From where Grimmjow stood, he could see how proud he was, and how much pride he had in them.
If he had his way, he would grant Ichigo his wishes, but he wasn't a genie. He wasn't anything. He was just an angel. All angels did was watch painfully from afar, and do God's bidding, but even then, their existences were void.
Humans had more. Had the ability to love. Had the ability to live. Had the ability to exist.
Eventually, his sisters finished chatting up with their friends so the three of them were able to leave early and go to an extravagant restaurant. Ichigo had been saving for this event, so they were able to gorge themselves on whatever food they desired.
For the first time, Grimmjow saw the three of them bond. It had always seemed to him that Ichigo and his family never spared the time to glance at one another, yet they worked so hard to create a better future for all of them.
Somewhere in his chest- maybe what humans would call the heart- he felt that he wanted to do that someday. With someone. Just anyone.
Ichigo's shift at work altered abruptly, taking a turn for the night shift instead of the daytime. Just when Grimmjow thought things would get better. His sisters would've been coming home earlier than they did, and would've been able to greet him and have dinner with him, but his job would yet again get in the way of that.
But, Ichigo didn't look upset. In fact, he seemed unfazed. Grimmjow wondered about that.
Not to mention that Ichigo had to come home in pitch darkness. He was already apprehended by that Shirosaki bastard in broad daylight. How would he manage in the dark?
But Grimmjow thought it fine. He would always be around after all. He doubted that he'd leave soon. He would watch over Ichigo, and always protect the corners in which Ichigo could not see. Always be there.
He knew it wasn't fruitful. Ichigo would never be able to see him. Ichigo would never gain anything even if he did. Grimmjow sighed heavily, mentally slapping himself for thinking such horrid thoughts. If Tosen or Aizen saw through the walls of his mind, they'd surely tear him to pieces.
"Well, well." Instantly, Grimmjow's thoughts of self-hate diminished, his cerulean eyes peering up from the ground and landing on a familiar white-haired individual. "What'cha doin' walking around by yerself, Ichi?" he drawled.
Grimmjow's hands closed in on themselves, so tightly that he could feel his nails dig under his skin. He should've been paying attention. He should've seen it coming.
But here Ichigo was again, surprising him in ways he thought no human could ever jolt him. He had swerved around Shirosaki as if he hadn't been there in the first place, his movements relaxed and controlled. But his footsteps were disrupted when the pale hand of Shirosaki lunged out and wrapped itself around his tan neck.
Ichigo coughed when he was slammed against a brick wall, his brows furrowing and his breaths quickening. "...You're drunk," Ichigo observed. Shirosaki just snickered to himself, eyeing Ichigo's vulnerable body in satisfaction.
"You never did give me that money."
"I gave it to Zangetsu. My debt is paid," Ichigo informed, attempting to squirm his way out of the hold, and the more he struggled to break free, the more Grimmjow wanted to rip Shirosaki apart.
His wings began to unfurl, his ears picking up the sound of his own feathers detaching from the abrupt release, and the sound of his knuckles crackling like fire.
"Your debt isn't paid until I say it is," Shirosaki growled out, dropping Ichigo onto his back on the littered ground and straddling him, and from his intense eyes alone, Grimmjow could see what his intentions were.
"Shiro, sto-" Ichigo began in a panic, Shirosaki's fingers ripping the buttons from his long-sleeve.
"Don't say my name in that sickly sweet voice of yours!" the drunkard commanded, his grasp on Ichigo's neck nearly making the boy's face blue.
"I said don't, didn't I? So shut yer pretty mouth up. Got that... Ichi?" Ichigo swallowed largely, Grimmjow taking notice of his Adam's apple bobbing, and his sunset eyes growing wider in fear.
"Stop-" Ichigo's thrashing increased, Shirosaki's hands wandering downwards and unzipping his pants. "Shiro-" and just as quickly as Ichigo's lip bled from the swing Shirosaki dealt him with, Grimmjow rammed his body against the assaulter, their bodies flying against cement.
The man underneath him fought against him, arms swinging and legs kicking, his wings pinning his body down. All he wanted to do was shred this body into nothingness; send it to Hell to burn and perish. And as his hands lunged for the kill, he thought, he could do it. He could kill this man.
"When a human plagues your mind, you are bound to commit a formidable act."
Abruptly, his actions ceased, and he was brought back to reality from Aizen's warning alone.
He stared at his pointed hand, targeting a mere man's puny chest and facing a look of bewilderment and shock. When he turned around, he was met with the same expression from the human that he held above anyone else.
It was as if Ichigo's eyes were piercing through him, and even while he knew that neither of them could see him, he felt the guiltiness grip him all the same.
Shirosaki had fled the scene as soon as it hit his drunken mind that he was tackled to the side by absolutely nothing but air. Ichigo, on the other hand, had stayed in place, lip bleeding and body aching, eyes transfixed on the spot where Shirosaki had plummeted.
Grimmjow had been able to see that Ichigo didn't know what to make of it, didn't know how to react. Instead, Ichigo had decided not to question it, and trudged on home, not having bothered to zip his pants, button his shirt or wipe his bloody lip.
He hadn't been able to see what Ichigo's sisters thought of it all since he hadn't followed him home and had flown back to the clouds, and even then, he felt that he hadn't flown fast enough. He tucked his one knee in and leaned his chin upon it.
That night, he hadn't looked up at the night sky so forlornly. He was up here in the clouds, and yet he felt he still couldn't touch the sky. It felt light-years away from his fingertips.
Where was that God all those humans prayed to? Where could he talk to him to ask for guidance? To ask for warmth or comfort? Did he even exist? He didn't know.
Hedidn'tknow. Hedidn'tknow. Hedidn'tknow. It was a depressing thought. Shouldn't he be able to know these answers himself? He was an angel, created by the very cause of all that was living. And even as he fought these negative thoughts away, he couldn't help but think, why wasn't I born human?
He'd be born into the world, where he'd have seventy years of age before death took him away. He found it more appealing to have a short time span rather than forever; that way he'd appreciate things more. He'd meet new people, and some would anger him and some would bring a smile to his face.
He'd be able to search for a purpose. He wanted to be able to choose what he did next. And for yet the trillionth time in his never-ending life, he felt as if his wings were clipped when he was the supposed epitome of freedom itself.
Ichigo's lips hadn't healed for all the time that he wasn't on Earth. It was swollen and was a mix of red and blue, and Grimmjow felt he was the sole cause of it.
"What's with that look?"
Still, Ichigo catered to each and every individual with a smile on his face, albeit the fact that most everyone around him held sympathy in their eyes.
"The human again, Grimm?"
He stayed to watch, knowing that he only had a few hours left in this world. He'd have to return to where he originally belonged... and it wasn't here.
"You know more than I do that you can't return."
The next time he'd be back would be centuries from now, to what would be a few days to him. But by then... Ichigo wouldn't be here to meet him anymore.
"Ya ever notice that the night sky's like a blanket?"
Could there ever be a chance that Grimmjow would be able to meet Ichigo in Heaven at least once in all the years he'd have to wait?
"It's like a worn blanket. Holes everywhere, yet all o' 'em look like patches of light peaking through."
What would they talk about if they did meet? About God? About love? Or maybe even just stand there in silence and communicate by eyes.
"S'what life's really all about: living in the dark, yet having itty-bitty light to guide us through it. It's kinda what brings humans and angels together in a fine line."
Only a few more minutes till he had to leave, and it felt as if he'd been here just a while ago.
"We have wants, and we all got somethin' to fight for or fight against. And it makes ya think…"
He felt himself exhale a breath he didn't know he was holding. His minutes had expired quite a while ago, and yet he had stayed rooted to the spot, unable to leave. Farewell to the only spark that he'd ever seen in this bleak world, he thought as his frown dug deeper into his skin.
As he took a step away, two, he felt where his heart should've been, beating louder and louder. He could already feel himself fading away from Ichigo's consciousness, even though Ichigo had never actually met him.
In that instance, Ichigo had glanced upwards from the notepad he had scribbled on, and for a moment, Grimmjow stilled. He felt their eyes meet, blue to orange, and even though it was a useless wish, he wanted Ichigo to see him.
Then Ichigo smiled in his awkward way, and he waved. Grimmjow glanced around him, and humans dashed to and fro, yet none paid attention to this beautiful man behind the bakery's glass. As he heard the ticks of watches and clocks alert him that it was his cue to leave, he couldn't help but wave back, and see himself reflected in this man's eyes.
Oh, snap. Did I just end it there? Yes, yes I did. You may throw pitch forks at me now. I encourage it, because I ended it in such a lame way. I apologize. But I'll leave everything else to your imagination, 'cause isn't reading supposed to be filled with that? *gets shot*
RE-RE: Scratch what I said. A lot of you messaged me, asking me what the hell happened at the end. To clarify things, at the end, Grimmjow is banned from returning to Earth because he violated the rules. Basically, he's grounded for a while. 'A while' is a few centuries, so he's never going to see Ichigo again. Then, he finds out why it's such a violation to get in contact with humans. Because you become human yourself.