Grimmjow opened the garganta to Karakura town and looked over the slumbering city. It wasn't much of a place. He'd seen much bigger, in his time. Although no one knew that but himself and he planned to keep it that way.
Ostensibly, he was a loose cannon going after the shinigami with the alarming powers. In actuality, he had a much colder, more rational agenda. One that made his soul hurt a little. But for him to follow through with the rest of his plan, it had to be done.
He was in Karakura town to dispose of his fraccion. They were loyal to him, but they were also loyal to Aizen and they were much too close to him. They would be able to see any odd behavior, any hints that he wasn't the adjuchas he once had been. They had to go. And if these shinigami were as good as he thought, they would do the job for him. And if they failed a bit, well, he could always finish off the wounded and blame it on them.
I'm turning into a total bastard. He thought, more in amusement than anything. As soon as he'd chosen this path he'd known the cost would be bits of his soul. It made him wonder how the second Division managed it. But then, they never had my loyalty. They just thought they did. Leaving his fraccion to their fate – a taichou was there, hah, they didn't stand a fucking chance – he went to find his own opponent.
It wasn't hard to locate the kid. What Grimmjow hadn't expected, though, was the wave of his own hatred. It was just the hair color. He knew that, in his head, but it didn't stop him from mouthing a despised name. Although… no, it wasn't just the hair color. There was a vague resemblance in his face, too. And that really pissed him off.
He got rid of the girl quickly. The wound was painful, but shinigami were tough and she would survive. Then he started beating the shit out of the kid. It was necessary for his cover but it was also fucking fun. Part of him was disgusted at himself for enjoying it so much. But the rest of him was superimposing a slightly different face on the shinigami, the face of someone he'd always desperately wanted to kill.
But he couldn't go that far. He was struggling to pull back, to stop before he really killed the kid when Tosen showed up. He was careful to give Tosen no hint of his real feelings, only aggressiveness and anger. He was both pleased and saddened when Tosen told him that he'd lost five arrancar in battle. That had been the plan, but it still hurt a little, knowing he'd sent them to their deaths.
Then the kid was yelling at him to come back, and that was just amusing. So Grimmjow gave him the bitter truth about the difference in their combat abilities. Maybe that would help him get stronger, if he could. Of course, maybe he couldn't. There were limits. He knew that from painful experience.
But now it was time to find out how Aizen would punish him. Ah, the pleasures of setting up a cover story never ended.
Grimmjow swore to himself as he stalked out of the meeting with Aizen and Tosen.
Saying he was in pain would be a gross understatement. He'd anticipated paying a price for his insubordination, but this had been a little damned steep. Then he paused and glanced around. He was alone, so he permitted himself a feral grin. Steep or not, his reputation as a loose cannon had been made. Now it was time to go grab a food run.
The shinigami in Los Noches required food and water. The arrancar were getting fond of water too, although they didn't require it. But they developed an interesting funk after a while, if they didn't shower. Grimmjow found it actually rather alluring – especially Yammy's scent, which was just disturbing – but the shinigami found it off putting. So they all needed to shower, especially Yammy. As a result, they were constantly shipping in water and food from Soul Society.
The water was actually pretty easy. A permanent mini-garganta had been set up in a very out of the way location by a small lake. Pumping equipment and pipes were constantly bringing in the water, which was being stored in a water tower. Grimmjow knew about it because he kept his ears open and had heard some of the Numeros complaining about the work involved in maintaining the pipe. So water was covered.
Food was actually a bit harder. They had a very surreptitious relationship with the black market in the Rukongai, and Grimmjow had no idea how Aizen was paying them. All he knew was that the drop off locations shifted regularly, and only Numeros and Espada with enough control to sneak in and out were allowed to do food runs. They had to be done quickly, if they stayed too long someone would sense them, but usually everything was all boxed up and ready to go when they arrived. However, sometimes mistakes did happen.
"You want a food run?" The little Numero running the duty board was shocked enough to talk back. He just glowered at her. "Uh, right away Grimmjow-sama!"
"Don't call me that. I won't be an Espada much longer." He said sourly, wondering if that would give him more freedom or less. He at least might not be as closely watched. "And I just need to get out of this shithole." The Numero nodded with just the right amount of sympathy before handing him over the sheet. Grimmjow scanned it before letting out a grunt. It wasn't perfect but it would do.
He left the building and carefully made his garganta to Soul Society. But he didn't aim it for the food distro point. No, he'd do that later. For now, he needed to make contact with someone who would know him… once he had a chance to explain.
This was going to be fun.
"Che." Grimmjow muttered, trying to figure out how to do this. "I should have been in the Second, this would be a fucking lot easier." He muttered to himself. The Second Division handled everything espionage related, and until now he'd never wanted that kind of career for himself. In fact, he still didn't want it, but you played the cards you were dealt.
Right now the cards he was dealing with were how to get his old taichou alone without anyone else noticing. He was concealing his reiatsu like a mofo, but that wasn't going to last forever.
Master? He glanced at his zanpakuto. He knew most arrancar didn't have blades that spoke to them, but he was exceptional in many ways. Instead of concealing your reiatsu, perhaps you should try altering it? The sword suggested diffidently and Grimmjow frowned. It wasn't a bad idea, and it might even work.
Carefully handling his aura, he tried to remember what it had felt like, so long ago. It was hard, very hard, but he managed to warp it into a semblance of shinigami power. It felt unnatural but strangely right, and Grimmjow grunted to himself as he completed the shift. That would definitely help him to stay under the radar here. But how to get the bastard alone?
Throw a rock at his window. Pantera suggested, which was both juvenile and amusing. Without any better ideas, Grimmjow found a handful of pebbles and began chucking them at the window. Tap-tap-tap-tap… he wondered how long the occupant of the room could stand it before losing his mind. It would have driven him nuts quickly, but his old taichou was a more level-headed sort. He only hoped it was him that opened the window, not a fukutaichou or other underling.
Luck was with him. The window finally opened and an anthromorphic wolf head was stuck out, golden eyes glaring in annoyance. Grimmjow grinned to himself. It wasn't easy to rile up Sajin, but he'd always been able to manage it. It was good to see the knack hadn't left him.
"Hey boss." He called softly and the taichou blinked, trying to pinpoint him. "It's Teru." The taichou stiffened then and Grimmjow could read his anger, almost rage easily.
"You lie. He's dead." Sajin kept his voice down, though, and Grimmjow grinned. The taichou couldn't see him clearly through the screen of trees.
"Yeah, he is. I need to talk to you, can you come down here?" He suggested softly. The taichou hesitated and he continued. "I have an offer, but if anyone else sees me I'll have to run." They would attack him instantly, and for damned good reason. He was obviously an arrancar and his description had probably been circulated by now. Sajin vanished from the window and Grimmjow knew he would come. The taichou would be unable to resist. They had been very close, once upon a time.
"Teru?" Komamura sounded very wary as he entered the trees, then stopped dead as he clearly saw the Espada. "You!" He reached for his sword but Grimmjow just lifted his empty hands.
"Yeah, me. The hollow that ate Teru… and Teru fought to become the dominant personality, and won." Grimmjow said softly and saw Sajin's eyes widen. "He's been in charge of this body since the day he died. But I didn't remember my past until Aizen cracked my mask. Then, everything came back to me. So… I'm here to make you an offer. I want to be your spy in Aizen's ranks." He stated it simply, calmly, even knowing it would probably eventually lead to his death. Aizen was smart, smart as hell, and he knew what the man would do to any traitors in his ranks. Sajin hesitated and Grimmjow could guess why.
"If this is true, why did you attack Ichigo?" He asked and Grimmjow laughed softly.
"To get rid of my fraccion." He said simply and Sajin frowned at him. "I know, pretty heartless. But they had to go, they knew me too well and would have watched my every move. They wouldn't have put their loyalty to me before their loyalty to Aizen. And I needed to fight Ichigo to establish my reputation as a raving lunatic. The price was a bit high, but it worked." He jerked a thumb at his missing arm. Then he hesitated, but as ashamed of it as he was, the next piece of information would help cement him with Sajin. "As for why I beat the kid up so badly…" Grimmjow gripped the hilt of his sword, eyes going dark with remembrance. "He looks like Nozomi." There was a short pause before Sajin spoke.
"I noticed that the first time I saw him. But that was most unfair, Teru. He's nothing like Nozomi." Grimmjow's lips tightened and he nodded his head shortly. He really wasn't proud of himself.
"What happened to that bastard? Tell me he's dead." Grimmjow said with a dark eagerness and Sajin shook his head.
"No, he's alive, but he failed one too many assessments. His family could not protect him in the end, and he's in the Maggot's Nest." The taichou said, and that put a small smile on his face. It wasn't quite as good as the man being dead, but it would certainly do. "But how do I know this is the truth? You spin a good story, but everything you have told me is common knowledge. The feud between the two of you was the talk of the academy. Tell me something only Teru would know."
"Uh…" Grimmjow internally cursed himself. He hadn't anticipated this, and he should have. Sajin was right, everyone had known about the brutal battles and incredibly bitter hatred between him and Nozomi. Aizen certainly would have known. Thinking hard, something occurred to him. "You know how I always sang to myself when I did the paperwork?" As a shinigami, he'd had an acceptable but not stellar singing voice, despite his passion for it. As an arrancar, strangely, his voice was much better. Sajin nodded. "You taught me a song once, one of the songs of your people… I still remember… Little flower on the hill, sitting in the shadows still…" He sang the children's rhyme, and was amazed by how smooth it sounded. This hollow body had one very nice positive side, it seemed. Then he looked up as Sajin's hand touched his shoulder.
"Teru, it is you." The taichou suddenly hugged him and Grimmjow blinked before hugging him back. That was unexpected, but they had been close before he died. "I will have to speak to Yamamoto and probably Soifon as well."
"I know. And I really need to get going before someone suspects something." He said, although they would probably mostly suspect him of running off to fight someone. "I'll come back and meet you the same way, if that's okay?" He said and Sajin considered it a moment before nodding.
"My fukutaichou might be there, but he can keep a secret. I look forward to seeing you again, Teru." He said, stepping back, and Grimmjow sonido'd off.
He needed to get the food shipment and get back before someone noticed he'd been gone for a bit too long.
Grimmjow sighed to himself, looking at the ceiling.
In some ways, being Luppi's fraccion was a trial. In other ways, it was extremely useful. The little bastard took him everywhere, even to Espada meetings, just to show off that he was the one holding Grimmjow's leash. That was almost insufferable and Grimmjow longed to kill him. But he was able to listen in on all the strategy meetings, find out everything he needed, and no one thought anything of it.
On the downside, he was tied to Luppi. He was supposed to be at the bastard's beck and call, and it was getting harder and harder to get away. He dared punishment every time he wasn't there when Luppi needed him, but he just had to chance it. The information he was feeding to Soul Society was invaluable to them.
He felt like a traitor, sometimes, but not as much as he'd expected. He couldn't stand Aizen or Tosen. He disliked or despised Yammy, Nnoitra, Ulquiorra, Zomari… the only people he didn't dislike were Starrk, Gin and Harribel. And he didn't particularly like Starrk, the lazy bastard just hadn't done anything to make him feel one way or the other. Ditto on Gin. The only one he felt bad for was Harribel, she was a decent sort. But you couldn't have everything.
And his memories of his time as a shinigami were only getting stronger. Sajin was the person closest to him, but he'd had plenty of other friends in his division and some of the others. Hitsugaya… he wondered what had happened to the kid. He really had been almost a child, only a member of the Division for a few years, when Teru had died. They'd been friends though, a fukutaichou and a very promising youngster. Had that promise been realized? He wondered if he would ever know.
If he did find out, though, it might be at the end of a blade. Grimmjow grimaced and glanced down at his hollow hole. Sajin called him Teru, but his name was really Grimmjow. The name this body had come with, he'd taken it and made it his own. It was his, and Hueco Mundo was where he belonged, just another corrupted soul. Could Soul Society ever accept him, or would they simply give him a merciful death?
"Konso." He whispered the name of the ritual and sighed. Soul burial. He should look forward to it, desire to take his place in the cycle of rebirth. But he didn't. His life as an arrancar was sweet and he was very reluctant to give it up.
"Grimmjow!" The blue haired arrancar flinched as the door to his quarters was rudely opened without any kind of knock. But then, Luppi did not waste courtesy on his fraccion. "Come. We are going to the living world."
"Yes, Luppi-sama." He made the honorific a curse and Luppi smirked at him. He didn't care about the tone and in fact he seemed to enjoy it.
Grimmjow was going to enjoy blasting his head off someday.
Someday came surprisingly quickly.
After Orihime healed his arm, Grimmjow knew what Aizen expected of him. Luppi must have been a bit too insubordinate, for the ex-taichou to set him up that way. And Grimmjow wasn't going to go out of character to save the little bastard. Oh no. He enjoyed taking his head off just as much as he'd anticipated.
With that done, he was the Sexta Espada once again. He dragged his newly restored hand against the wall, smiling in pleasure at the feeling and made a mental note to do something nice for the woman. Maybe get her some chocolates. Not that he had any idea where he would get chocolates from. Flowers? Maybe the next time he made a report to Sajin.
Not that he wanted to court her or anything. She was absolutely not his type. He liked his women short and athletic, preferably brunettes although that was not a hard and fast rule. But her curves were too lush, not what he was into at all. And Grimmjow liked men too. As Teru, he'd only been into the ladies, but as an arrancar that had definitely changed. It was probably all the female souls floating around his body and making their presence felt. Grimmjow tilted his head to one side, trying to imagine what his dream man would be. Strangely, the only person who popped immediately to mind was Ichigo Kurosaki. Grimacing, Grimmjow fought back the wave of hatred from his primary personality. If only he could convince the shinigami to dye his hair…
Rolling his eyes at his own idiocy, Grimmjow turned a corner and almost ran into Gin. He gaped for a moment before shutting his mouth with a snap. The ex-taichou must have been hiding his reiatsu like crazy to surprise him like that.
"You're quite a deceptive one, aint'cha?" Gin murmured with a smile and Grimmjow gave him a cocky grin, trying to hide the fact that he was getting a sweaty palm reaction. This was bad. Gin was just as smart as Aizen and a whole lot less arrogant.
"Me? You sure you got the right arrancar?" He asked insolently and Gin's smile widened as his eyes opened a hair. "Or you just finally lost your mind?" He said and Gin chuckled softly.
"Don't bother to lie. I've been keeping an eye on you. I know what you've been up to. I just wonder, how did you convince Soul Society you were sincere? That must have been a problem for a hollow like you." Gin's hand came out to touch the edges of his hollow hole and Grimmjow stood absolutely still, wondering why he wasn't dead yet. The unwanted and intimate nature of the touch hardly registered in his mind.
"My name is Teru Narobu." He said quietly and had the pleasure of seeing Gin's eyes open completely. "Fukutaichou of the Seventh Division, when I was alive. And when Aizen broke my mask, I remembered everything, including enough details to convince Komamura taichou of my sincerity."
"I see." Gin drew his hand away. "Just an amateur, then. I really ought to kill you." He said idly and Grimmjow stiffened. "Aizen will find you out, someday. An' then you'll be dead, eventually. I'm sure he'll take his time after bein' fooled by his own Espada." The thought made his skin crawl but Grimmjow took a deep breath, fortifying himself. He'd known the risks when he'd made this decision.
"Maybe, maybe not. Everyone thinks I'm a dumbass for a reason." He said softly and Gin just smiled. "How'd you find out?" He really wanted to know. Gin chuckled softly.
"You and your food runs… I followed you, just to make sure you weren't doin' something stupid like pickin' a fight with a fukutaichou. I got more than I bargained for. You might want to watch a bit more carefully for followers." Gin stepped past him and very briefly rested a hand on his shoulder. Grimmjow was very surprised the next comment, breathed softly into his ear. "Good luck." Then the shinigami was gone and Grimmjow stared after him, baffled. Then after a moment he grinned.
It seemed he wasn't the only one less than loyal to Aizen.
Grimmjow studied his work for a moment, trying to decide if it was acceptable.
He was making a flower arrangement for the woman. He was no great shakes at ikebana and any real florist shop would have laughed him out the door, but it was still pretty enough. Nothing but wildflowers in a glass vase that had begun life as a rather large beaker. He'd stolen it from Szayel's lab and the scientist would probably be pretty annoyed when he found it was missing. But it worked perfectly to hold this little bouquet.
The other thing he'd gotten hold of was some fresh raspberries. He'd picked those himself, using his jacket to carry them. His jacket was a mess, but Grimmjow didn't much care. It would be a Numeros job to clean that up, and he'd done his bit by putting on the stain remover. Satisfied with his little gift, he picked up the vase and the bowl of raspberries before heading towards Ulquiorra's wing. When he reached the room he kicked on the door.
"Oi, woman! Open up, I've got something for you." If necessary he could open it himself, but he'd have to put down one of his items. There was a sound of footsteps from inside and Orihime opened the door, looking at him with those doe like grey eyes. "Hey there." Grimmjow stepped inside as Orihime looked at him in confusion. He offered her the vase, which she looked at wide-eyed. "Just a little thank you for fixing up my arm. You like flowers, right?" He'd never met a woman who didn't. Orihime hesitated a moment before taking the vase. She looked very confused, which only made sense really. An Espada had just given her flowers. What a fucked up thing. "And I got you some berries, picked 'em myself on a food run." He looked around for a good place to put the bowl, and finally set it on a little end table. Orihime looked at it a moment then shook her head.
"I'm not hungry. But thank you, Grimmjow-sama. The flowers are pretty." She tried to smile at him but he was far from stupid and recognized the expression for the farce it was.
"Tch. Don't starve yourself, woman. This place ain't that bad." Then he glanced around her room for a moment. It was a lot like his room, except it had more furniture. That didn't bother him a bit, he'd lived in the sands with exactly no furniture for a long time, but even compared to his crappy apartment in the Rukongai, well… it was lacking a bit. "Okay, it's pretty bad. But fresh berries'll make you feel better." He offered then sighed to himself as she just shook her head. "I hope you'll change your mind. They're too good to – eh?" The door opened and he turned as Ulquiorra entered the room.
"Grimmjow." To say the Quatro was unwelcoming would have been an understatement. He was calm as always, but there was just a bit of ice in his tone and those green eyes were not happy at all. "What are you doing here?" He asked calmly and Grimmjow sneered, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"Saying thank you to the woman with some flowers. What, you jealous?" He jibed and had the satisfaction of seeing Ulquiorra look vaguely annoyed. "You are, aren't you?"
"Don't be ridiculous. There is nothing for me to be jealous of." Ulquiorra said and Grimmjow just grinned at him, making the pale bastard twitch. "What is so amusing?" He finally asked and Grimmjow laughed sharply for a moment.
"You are. There's everything to be jealous of. I brought her flowers and you got all pissy, what d'you think that means?" He taunted his fellow Espada as Orihime cautiously moved to the table, setting down her new flowers. "Don't you know how to court a woman, Quatro?" Orihime looked up, startled, as Ulquiorra looked just the slightest bit annoyed.
"Ridiculous. Mating is a primitive behavior. I engage in it sometimes, as the need presents itself. There is no point in such things as courtship." He said and that pissed Grimmjow off.
"Bullshit!" He growled, knowing that he was going dangerously out of character but unable to stop himself. "Sex is letting someone in, letting them close enough to hurt you. Sex is about making connections and giving trust. Some people might think it's nothing but fucking, but I'm not one of those people. If you are, I think that's pathetic." He said harshly but Ulquiorra didn't look offended. More thoughtful than anything.
"An interesting attitude that I would not have expected from you, Sexta." He said calmly and Grimmjow just scowled.
"You don't know shit about me. There's a reason why I don't sleep around. Not that you would know a damned thing about my love life." He said before turning to Orihime. "See you later, woman. Enjoy the flowers." He left the room, aware of two sets of eyes on his back. After a moment's thought he decided he didn't give a damn.
Ulquiorra could just deal with it.