Author's Note: This is something I've had on my computer for quite a while… as you can see, this is a mammoth first chapter. I thought about not posting it until it was completely done but that's going to take a while, so you get this first. Enjoy!
The sands were cold as ice underfoot, and crunched softly as the arrancar walked through the endless night.
Aizen was gone, back to the hell that had spawned him. Gin and Tosen were dead, and good riddance. The arrancar 'army' had vanished into the sands or sworn allegiance to Harribel, the only person who gave a fuck anymore. This arrancar had thought about giving himself to her banner, but finally decided against it. She was too much of a peaceful sort and wouldn't like the way he ran his life.
Grimmjow gripped the hilt of his sword, longing for something to kill. It had been a while since his last fight and while he wasn't hungry, he still wanted to fight. Maybe, if he found something soon, he'd just beat the shit out of it and let it live. If it took too long, though, he'd eat it. Even for arrancar the hunger was endless. And while he could have satisfied himself with the reishi pills Aizen had taught them to make, blood tasted ever so much sweeter.
He walked up a sand dune, expecting nothing more than the endless sand on the other side. He got far, far more than he'd bargained for.
"What the fuck?" Grimmjow stopped in utter disbelief as he gazed over the scene beneath him. The torn, bleeding hulk on the ground was familiar. So was the prone body in front of it. "…" Grimmjow turned his gaze to the shinigami on the ground.
Kurosaki was a mess. His shinigami outfit was torn to ratshit, reminding Grimmjow of how he'd looked dead on the floor after his first meeting with Ulquiorra. He was bleeding all over the place, and that huge butcher blade of his was broken. However, from the faint pulse of his reiatsu, the kid was still alive.
That was more than could be said of his opponent. Grimmjow slowly circled the dead arrancar, genuinely impressed. The monster had no name, but he'd seen it before, briefly. A Vasto Lorde that Aizen had attempted to turn into an arrancar, it had been completely insane before its mask was broken and had stayed insane after. It had also been huge and incredibly powerful, full of all kinds of nasty tricks. Instead of destroying it, for some reason Aizen had just pushed it out the door to wander the sands. It had never come back to Los Noches but he still remembered the mind breakingly ugly form in front of him.
Then Grimmjow suddenly stopped as a thought occurred to him. He'd been adjuchas when he'd been turned into an arrancar, but he'd been right on the cusp of vasto lorde. He was aware that his evolution might be frozen now, but there was a chance it wasn't. And this bastard had been the nastiest vasto lorde to walk the sands. If this kind of meal didn't put him over the edge, he'd at least know he was permanently frozen at this level. Grinning wickedly, Grimmjow closed in on the body and began to feast. Unlike most of his kills, this would take a while to get down. The damn thing was huge.
Halfway through his meal, Grimmjow knew he'd done the right thing. He could feel the power coursing through him, and knew that as soon as it settled he'd have newfound abilities. His power was skyrocketing, shooting up to the level of Harribel or Starrk. It felt good, damned good, and he reveled in it.
And he owed it to Kurosaki, which was a bit irritating. Licking his lips, Grimmjow turned to look at the fallen warrior. That soft pulse of reiatsu was still there, but starting to fade. Grimacing, the arrancar walked over to the body and roughly nudged it with a toe, flipping the kid onto his back. Then he whistled softly, looking at the damage.
"He fucked you up pretty damned good." Not quite as good as Ulquiorra, but then, Kurosaki had defeated Aizen. Presumably he'd gotten stronger after defeating the Quatro. "Hmm." Grimmjow scratched the back of his neck, thinking. He wasn't a medic, but he did have one thing that might help the shinigami. The question was, did he want to use it? "…Heh." Grinning wickedly, the arrancar knelt down beside the teen. "I want to see if I can beat you now." Grimmjow told the unconscious shinigami before pulling away the rags of his clothing and lowering his head to lick the wounds.
Until now, his saliva had only been a weak healing agent. To his surprise, Grimmjow saw that the shift to Vasto Lorde had clearly made it a strong healing agent. About on the same level as Nel's puke, maybe, which was actually kind of impressive. Even more impressive was the way the gashes were binding up, and how Kurosaki's reiatsu was already strengthening. Grimmjow concentrated his efforts on the clearly life threatening injuries, gripping the teen and roughly turning him over again so he could tend to his back. Then he noticed that the teen's hair looked funny, and gently touched his head.
"That's a lot of blood." He murmured, trying to get a better look at the wound. The bright orange hair and the darkness of Hueco Mundo had fooled him for a moment, and he hadn't noticed all the dried blood caked to the back of his head. Grimacing, he used his tongue again, this time to work the blood out and get an idea of the source. The source of the blood turned out to be a wound deep enough that bone was gleaming through torn, red flesh. At that, Kurosaki was lucky. His skull could have been split open by whatever had caused this.
Feeling a bit sick from all the shinigami blood on top of his huge meal, Grimmjow still licked that wound until it closed up. Sitting back on his heels, he looked at the teen for a moment. The fading reiatsu from before had been restored to something almost lively, even though the shinigami was still unconscious. Frowning, Grimmjow considered what to do.
Stronger reiatsu or not, if he left Kurosaki here he'd have absolutely no chance of survival. Sure as shit, something would eat him, and what was left of that hulk behind him, too. Grimmjow thought about just leaving him, but after licking the shit out of him, well, he didn't want to waste all the effort. And he wanted to fight the kid again. It had felt so damned glorious, stretching himself to the very limit of his abilities and beyond. Even when he'd been losing, it had been pretty fucking great.
Shrugging to himself, he picked up the pieces of the broken zanpakuto and put them into his belt. They were actually a lot easier to manage than the whole weapon would have been. Then he picked up Kurosaki in a fireman's carry and began hauling him off.
If he was going to keep the brat alive, the first thing he needed was a nice, safe den to keep him in.
"Perfect." Grimmjow looked over the den with pleasure before carefully dragging the shinigami into a corner.
The cave was tiny. He couldn't stand in it, and had to bend nearly double to get inside. But from long, unfortunate experience, Grimmjow distrusted large caves. They typically led to warrens of caverns that could hold anything, and likely did. He might be vasto lorde now in addition to being an arrancar, but he still didn't want to get ambushed by a group of adjuchas sneaking in through the backdoor.
This cave definitely didn't have a backdoor. Just a little pock mark in the stone, it was warm and comfortable. The entrance was small enough to be incredibly easy to defend, and Grimmjow wasn't worried about something trying to take them here. Any sensible adjuchas would take one look at that entrance, one whiff of his power, and find somewhere else to be.
Kurosaki worried him, though. The kid hadn't woken up and as he'd carried the shinigami, Grimmjow had felt him shivering. Looking at the blank, sleeping face, Grimmjow tilted his head before grunting. The teen was cold and there wasn't much room in this little den anyway. Turning Kurosaki around so he was facing the back wall, Grimmjow put an arm over him and curled up behind him, sharing body heat. It took a while, but between him and the warmth of the cave, the red haired kid finally stopped shivering. Grimmjow hoped he would wake up before too long.
He couldn't wait to fight the brat again.
Several days later, Grimmjow was starting to wonder if Kurosaki would ever wake up.
He still hadn't stirred, except to breathe. The former Espada had even given him a second, more thorough licking the day before, but it didn't seem to have done any good. He'd also brought back part of a kill, and tried pressing the hollow meat to the shinigami's lips. There had been no reaction at all, and that concerned him deeply. Shinigami ate, he knew that from watching Aizen and his toadies. Kurosaki would need to eat, and soon. And go water a tree. Grimmjow snickered a little at that, but only a little. He was no medical type and he had no idea how to take care of someone who was completely out of it. Arrancar didn't go to the bathroom – they lived on souls, which didn't generate waste – but shinigami did. This was going to get nasty if Kurosaki didn't wake up soon. Although that outfit of his was spiritual energy, not real cloth. How would he clean it?
Deciding that all this thinking was making his head hurt, Grimmjow decided to test out his new abilities. He'd found a second release form, to his astonishment and intense pleasure. In his second release his bone armor disappeared completely, replaced with a heavy pelt of fur on his legs and instead of a bone crown he had a crest of green hair. For some reason, tiny beads of white were strung in his hair, and he wore a jade and bone necklace. Fingering the adornment, he wondered what it meant. It was spiritual in nature so it likely represented something.
This second release reminded him of Ulquiorra's second form. Just like the Quatro, he'd lost all his bones, unless he counted the beads and necklace. Grimmjow glanced down and wondered if he should get a loincloth or something. Unlike Ulquiorra, his fur did not do an adequate job of disguising his sex. Then he snorted at himself. Who cared if someone saw his crotch? It might help if he wanted to seduce an adjuchas –
Grimmjow heard a faint sound behind him and turned, ready for an attack. To his surprise and faint relief, it was Kurosaki. The teen's sword was still broken, though, and Grimmjow had taken it. The teen was looking at him with a wide-eyed, curious look and Grimmjow straightened, dropping his guard. Clearly Kurosaki was about as threatening as a newborn kitten.
"Who are you?" He asked directly and Grimmjow blinked.
"Tch, you lost your mind shinigami?" He scoffed, then looked down at himself. He hadn't thought he'd changed that much, but maybe Kurosaki couldn't recognize him in his second release form. He let it bleed back to his first release, giving the teen a feral grin before finally going back to his usual state and sheathing Pantera. "Got it now, dumbass?" He asked and Kurosaki looked disturbed.
"…No. Who are you?" He asked softly and Grimmjow stared at him, taken aback. His apprehension grew as those brown eyes widened with unmistakable fear. "Who am I?"
"Oh, shit." Grimmjow muttered. He'd heard of this sort of thing. Arrancar and hollows could suffer from amnesia, and given all the fights they got into, it was known to happen. Cursing himself, he realized he should have expected something like this. That had been one wicked head injury. "You're Kurosaki Ichigo. Ring any bells?" He asked and Ichigo shook his head. "I'm Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez. We're enemies, but I saved your life since you helped me make vasto lorde. Thanks, by the way." Kurosaki frowned, clearly not following what he was saying, so Grimmjow decided to simplify. "You improved my powers is what I mean." He laid it out, then grimaced. "I wanted to see how I'd stack up to you now, but your sword is still broken. And what the fuck were you doing here anyway?" He asked, not expecting an answer, and Kurosaki didn't disappoint.
"I don't know." He said, sitting down heavily on the sand. The teen looked upset and Grimmjow grimaced. This was not how he'd pictures their next meeting going. "Kurosaki Ichigo…" He murmured, then shook his head. "It's just words. Do you know anything about me?" He asked helplessly and Grimmjow rolled his eyes.
"We were enemies, shinigami." He said and Kurosaki bit his lip. "I did read Aizen's dossier on you, though. Um…" Grimmjow half-closed his eyes as he tried to remember. He hadn't really cared about the minutiae, at the time. "You're like, sixteen years old. Well, make that seventeen now. You've got a dad who used to be a taichou and two sisters. I don't know their names, sorry. And you used to hang out with this midget with black hair, I don't know what her name was. I punched a hole in her right in front of you, that ring any bells?" The teen looked a bit revolted, but shook his head. "And we almost killed each other not that far from here, but you won then saved me from Nnoitra, the bastard." He encouraged the shinigami.
"Sorry. I just don't remember." He said quietly and Grimmjow sighed in frustration.
"Yeah, well…" Grimmjow ran a hand through his hair and came to a quick decision. He couldn't handle this shit. He'd make a garganta for the teen, get him back into the loving embrace of his family and wash his hands of it. For now, anyway. Eventually he'd look the kid up for a rematch, but not until this shit was over and done with. "Stay here." Going back to the den, he gathered up the broken sword and stuck it in his belt again. Coming out he saw Kurosaki just sitting there looking at his hands with a depressed look on his face. "Lighten up! You look like someone killed your dog. I'm gonna take you home to your family." He said gruffly and the teen looked up. "They can get you help and you'll be remembering in no time." That was kind of bullshit, he knew these injuries could be damn near permanent. But maybe the shinigami could do something for him. Lifting his hand, Grimmjow concentrated on opening a garganta.
The garganta opened but Grimmjow was immediately on guard. Something was wrong, he could feel it in his power. Ichigo eyed the opening in alarm and Grimmjow stiffened as it turned red. Swearing, he cut it off and had a sweaty palm moment as the garganta didn't immediately close. It seemed to fluctuate for a moment, as if something else was trying to force it open, but then finally vanished.
"O… kay. In case you're wondering, that was not supposed to happen." He said as calmly as he could. He didn't know what that had been, but he didn't like it one little bit. Kurosaki was just looking at him like a lost little puppy. Damn. "I guess you're staying with me. I hope you can eat hollow food." If he couldn't then the kid was well and truly screwed. Grimmjow created one of the reishi pills and handed it to the teen. "Try that." He preferred hollow meat, but he was guessing a shinigami probably wouldn't. Ichigo eyed it suspiciously then popped it in his mouth. Then the teen blinked as the energy hit his system.
"That's… good. Kind of odd though." He frowned before standing. "Can I have my sword back?" He asked and Grimmjow nodded, handing the pieces over. Ichigo just looked at them for a moment, as if he could feel something in the blade. "Zangetsu." He whispered and Grimmjow lifted an eyebrow. He wouldn't have expected a zanpakuto to trigger a memory, but it was the only thing of his life Kurosaki could actually see. Unless you counted Grimmjow, but an enemy might not be the best trigger.
"Yeah, that's your sword." Grimmjow kicked the sand a bit, wondering what to do now. "Want to go wandering? I bet you must have some friends here somewhere." He was damn sure Ichigo wouldn't have come alone, that would be idiotic. And it wasn't like he was attached to his new den, even if it was a fine one. "Or would you like to wait for your sword to come back?" That might be more sensible. In fact, it would definitely be more sensible, then Kurosaki could guard him while he slept and vice versa. Grimmjow paused for a moment, a bit surprised at himself. He would trust Kurosaki to watch over him as he slept? Then he snorted. The dumbass had saved him from Nnoitra, of course he wouldn't cut his throat in his sleep.
"Let's wait for my sword to come back." Kurosaki clearly wanted to be able to defend himself, which was pretty smart in Hueco Mundo. And the more he thought about it, the more Grimmjow liked the idea of having someone to watch his back, even if it was Kurosaki. Right now the shinigami would just be a burden.
"Okay. I'll go hunt us down something, maybe you can try it." Ichigo nodded and Grimmjow wondered if he remembered how hollows ate. Maybe he didn't. "Just stay in the den, my scent will warn off any adjuchas." They were unlikely to catch the whiff of shinigami under the musk of a vasto lorde.
"Right." Kurosaki said with a small smile before going back to the cave. Grimmjow watched him, a bit surprised. The kid was pretty compliant, right now. It seemed a bit strange. Then the shrugged to himself and set off over the sands.
Vasto lorde needed to eat even more than adjuchas, and his change was pretty fresh. It was time to find some meat.
Several days later
"This tastes good." Kurosaki said as he chewed on what had once been the leg of a deer-like adjuchas. Grimmjow nodded. "Better than the pills."
"Yeah, I think so." He wondered what the shinigami would do when he remembered that the stuff Grimmjow was hunting could talk and shit. Probably puke. But for now, the food seemed to be doing Ichigo a world of good. His sword was repairing itself and the teen's reiasu felt nice and sparky.
It was really weird. Grimmjow was finding that he liked having a bit of company. And he found that he couldn't hate Kurosaki when he was helpless and acting wide-eyed at everything. The way the kid was looking at him was nothing like that annoying glower he'd always used before. He was acting like Grimmjow was the only thing he could trust in the world, which was probably about accurate given that the world was Hueco Mundo.
So the arrancar was almost enjoying himself and Grimmjow thought about that for a moment. Had he been lonely? He probably had been. His old fraccion hadn't been the best company but they had been company, and so had the arrancar in Los Noches. Sure, he'd wanted to gut at least half of them, but he'd been okay with the other half, mostly. There had always been some bullshit going on, anything from the all female volleyball tournament to Lilynette drawing on someone's face after a bender. Grimmjow hadn't been too amused when he'd gotten done over, but Starrk's anger was enough of a deterrent that he'd just yelled at the brat. Then washed a lot to get the kitty whiskers off his face.
"Stupid brat." He muttered to himself and Kurosaki gave him a confused and slightly hurt look. "Not you. I was just thinking of Lilynette."
"Who was she?" Ichigo asked and Grimmjow shrugged.
"Just a really weak arrancar. She was half of Starrk's power, though, so she got away with murder in Los Noches. He was the Primera, the most powerful except Yammy." Grimmjow spelled out, since Kurosaki wouldn't know any of this anymore. "I don't think you ever met her. Anyway, she's dead. Starrk bought it in the battle against you shinigami." He said and Kurosaki looked down at his food for a moment.
"I'm sorry." He said sadly and Grimmjow blinked at him. Sorry?
"She wasn't one of my fraccion, Kurosaki. She was just a damned nuisance tied to a bastard so lazy I hardly got more than his name. Not my kind of people." Even if they'd been a hell of a lot less powerful, he'd never have picked Starrk and Lilynette for his fraccion. Trying to get the damned wolf to do anything was like pulling teeth. His fraccion hadn't always been easy to manage, but they certainly hadn't been lazy. "You remembering anything yet?" He asked and the kid shook his head.
"No. I wish I was. My conversation must not be the greatest." He said and that made Grimmjow laugh.
"Hah! Puts you right in with my old fraccion. Let me tell you about the time Di Roy got his head stuck when we were trying to slip through a cave." That had been a very interesting hunt. They'd been after a particularly powerful adjuchas who'd attacked his fraccion and almost killed Shawlong. No one beat up his fraccion but him, so Grimmjow had been determined to kill the bastard. Ichigo listened to the story, laughing a few times as Grimmjow detailed all the ways they'd tried to get Di Roy free. One of the attempts got a little gross and Ichigo looked like he couldn't believe it.
"I get that this is Hueco Mundo and there's no real water, but really?" He said as Grimmjow actually blushed a little. "Someone jacked off and you used it as lubricant on his mask?"
"Shut up! It worked." He grumbled and Ichigo laughed. "Although he was really, really pissed." The whining had been spectacular. Fortunately they'd run down that adjuchas or Grimmjow was sure he'd never have heard the end of it.
"Dare I ask who did the jacking off?" Ichigo asked with a grin and Grimmjow gave him a smirk. He knew what the kid was thinking.
"Wasn't me. I didn't have hands back then, wanking off was pretty damned difficult." His best tactic when he was really frustrated had just been to rub against a rock for a while. Not exactly the greatest, but Grimmjow hadn't been interested in making cubs with any of his fraccion. They were a feral bunch of bastards, not what he was looking for in a mate. And he'd planned to put off mating until he got to vasto lorde, anyway. "It was Shawlong, he was one of the few of us who had hands back then, the lucky bastard." He'd envied him that, at the time.
"I see. Do you have any other good stories?" Ichigo asked and Grimmjow thought about it. He had endless stories of good hunts, but they were all pretty similar after a while. He could tell Kurosaki about the first time they met, but that might kill the weird happy vibe he was getting from the teen. So instead, he told the kid about Orihime Inoue and how he'd gotten his arm back. "How'd you lose it in the first place?" Ichigo asked curiously and Grimmjow shrugged.
"Tousen cut it off for disobeying orders." It didn't bother him to talk about it, not anymore. The bastard shinigami was dead and he'd gotten his arm back. Life was good. "So the woman healed me…" He went on to detail how he'd killed Luppi and Ichigo looked mildly revolted. "This is Hueco Mundo. It's how we do things around here." Luppi's fate had been sealed as soon as Aizen ordered Orihime to heal Grimmjow's arm. Ichigo sighed, then smiled.
"You make yourself sound like a bloodthirsty lunatic, but you don't seem to be acting that way." He observed and Grimmjow made a small scoffing sound.
"Wait 'til that sword of yours is fixed, shinigami. I want a rematch." He said but Ichigo just smiled.
"Sure, I'd be glad to go a couple rounds." The shinigami said and Grimmjow frowned. Did he think this would be some friendly sparring match? Then his frown turned into a rueful smile. If Ichigo couldn't remember how to fight, it might be.
"Well, whatever. Are you tired? Because I'm tired." In the endless night, you slept when you wanted to. Ichigo considered it a moment before nodding.
"I am, actually. It's probably all the food I've eaten." He'd completely demolished his share of the kill, a pretty good meal for any hollow. Grimmjow was feeling quite content, too. He'd thought his need for souls would go up when he made vasto lorde, but it hadn't. If anything it seemed to have gone down a little. Maybe because he was stable in his final form? Whatever the reason, Grimmjow wasn't going to question it. Ichigo stood up, yawning a bit, and Grimmjow followed him as he crawled into the den. Kurosaki would get cold without his body heat.
That was the only kind of warmth in Hueco Mundo.
Grimmjow scratched himself before shaking a bit of sand out of his clothes. Then he stretched, in the 'morning' of his endless night.
Kurosaki was still in the den, still asleep, but Grimmjow thought it was about time to get moving. His sword had repaired itself and they'd had a trial spar that had shown Ichigo sort of had his combat abilities. Only sort of, though. Anything that required no thought at all was still there, and he still knew his bankai, but he was fumbling at bringing out his mask. Grimmjow had told him everything he knew about it, which wasn't much, but apparently there was some kind of trick to it that he'd forgotten. So a real fight with Ichigo still wasn't in the cards.
But he was still more than powerful enough to take care of the crap in Hueco Mundo, so it was time to leave the den. Grimmjow just waited patiently for the teen to wake up, looking up at the stars and moon above. It wouldn't take long, it was chilly in the den without him. Sure enough. Ichigo stumbled out of the den, yawning and stretching.
"Good morning!" The shinigami said cheerfully and Grimmjow grinned. It was funny how they said that, even though Hueco Mundo had no real morning at all.
"Good morning. So, you ready to start looking for your friends?" Grimmjow asked, turning to look at Ichigo. To his surprise, the shinigami looked a bit pensive.
"I suppose." He sounded less than enthusiastic and Grimmjow tilted his head slightly, giving him a questioning look. "I just… don't know them. I know you say they're my friends, but I'm worried about meeting them."
"Tch, no point in worryin' about that." Grimmjow said, waving off the concern. "You can just get to know 'em all over again. And maybe you'll remember when you see them, you and the midget were always hanging out together." He was pretty sure of that, from what he'd seen and read in Ichigo's dossier. "If you want, I can try to describe your friends. I've seen a few." They started walking as they talked, and Grimmjow picked a direction at random. He had no idea where they were going anyway.
"Could you? At least then maybe I could recognize them." Ichigo said and Grimmjow nodded, thinking back to the shinigami he'd seen. He started with Renji then ventured off into other territory, giving Ichigo some rather colorful descriptions. "Paperclips in his hair? I don't understand."
"Shit, I don't know what they are. They're these silvery things, like the color of your sword." Grimmjow tried to mime the things, pulling his hair back. "They were sort of triangular. It's hard to explain." He honestly wasn't sure what the things were called. "He's the only one who wears something like that, so you'll know 'em when you see 'em. His name is Byakuya I think. He has this weird flower petal attack."
"Flower petals? Really?" Ichigo said, amused and Grimmjow grinned.
"Yeah, your friends are pretty weird. Not that I'm one to talk about that." He said, remembering his fraccion. Ichigo snorted.
"After that story about the caves, I should think not!" Ichigo said. Then he said something else, but Grimmjow stopped listening. He was sensing something, something interesting. They were hiding their reiatsu well, but he and Ichigo were being stalked.
"Someone has more guts than brains." He murmured softly as Ichigo gave him a curious look. "Hmm… Ichigo, imagine your reiatsu is like a curtain." He said, falling into old habits. Ichigo wasn't a cub, exactly, but his mind was about as empty. It was time to fill it a little. "Try to brush it out, feel what's around you." Grimmjow winced as he felt the wave of power from the teen. "The idea is to do it gently." Grimmjow told him and Ichigo looked a bit sheepish before trying to gentle his power. "Better. Can you sense anything?" Grimmjow extended his own senses and was surprised to find they were still being stalked. If it had been him out there, he'd have thought twice after feeling that uncontrolled power. Well… actually, it would have depended where he was at the time. As a high ranked adjuchas, he'd have salivated.
"Yes… I think so?" Ichigo's eyes took on an unfocused look. "I think there's… six?" He said tentatively and Grimmjow shook his head. He was actually quite pleased, though. That was rather close.
"Seven actually. But that's pretty good, they're hiding themselves well. And why do you think they're doing that?" He asked and Ichigo scowled, reaching for his sword.
"To attack us." He said, drawing the blade.
"Yep." Grimmjow said, drawing his own sword and turning around. "Why don't we wait and let them make the first move?" That would put them at a disadvantage. Maybe they would decide it was a bad move, taking the two of them on. Grimmjow deliberately flared his dark, dark power and sensed a moment of hesitation from the stalkers.
But only a moment. Then the adjuchas came into view and Grimmjow frowned as he eyed them. They were a bit odd looking, with red patches of something sticky on their armor. Other than that, they were the typical motley assortment of hollows you found in Hueco Mundo.
"Hand over the shinigami, Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, and we will let you go." One of them growled and Grimmjow's eyes widened. He was absolutely certain he'd never met any of these guys before.
"How do you know my name?" He asked warily as Ichigo lifted his sword, ready for an attack. He was powerful, sure, but his ascension to vasto lorde was a new thing. Besides which, the names of vasto lorde didn't get around unless they were trying to be King. Everyone knew Harribel, since she was in charge, but he was damned near unknown.
"We know many things." Not an answer and Grimmjow scowled. "Now, give us the mortal. He is nothing to you."
"Fuck you and the horse you rode in on." Grimmjow said pleasantly before unleashing a cero. And the fight was on.
It was surprisingly difficult. Seven adjuchas shouldn't have been hard for him and Kurosaki to defeat, even without the shinigami's mask. But those red patches seemed to have a life of their own, and the first time a tendril erupted from it nearly decapitated Grimmjow. Fortunately, his hierro and a quick dodge saved him, but he wasn't at all amused.
"Grind, Pantera!" He called his first resurrection and quickly went to his second. It was time to get serious. The adjuchas didn't even blink, just coming at him more wildly, and he noted the abnormal behavior. His aura as a vasto lorde might not necessarily deter a large, powerful pack, but that damned well should have. Not all vasto lorde had a second form.
Ichigo was holding his own, Grimmjow noted, and was trying to work with him. It wasn't easy since neither of them were familiar with teamwork, but they were still winning. Grimmjow grunted as red tendril hit him hard in the side, not managing to penetrate his hierro, and cut it off with a quick swing of his claws. Then he followed the tentacle and bisected the adjuchas wielding it.
They won in the end, although Kurosaki had a few cuts and Grimmjow had a few bruises. It hadn't been much of a fight, but it had been interesting enough to get his pulse racing. Grimmjow let himself slip back to his normal form, keeping his sword out as he went to investigate a body.
"What is this red shit?" He asked Ichigo, who just shrugged. "Hn." Carefully slicing into the body, he whistled softly. Whatever it was, it had spread all through this adjuchas. He quickly came to a decision. "I'm not eating these guys. Do you want any?"
"No thanks." Ichigo said, looking at the red stuff. "I've never seen that before." And he'd eaten plenty of Grimmjow's kills by now, so that did mean something. Grimmjow nodded.
"I've never seen it either. I bet this has something to do with why you're here in the first place." He nudged a body with his foot then smiled. "I just had an idea. Let's try to backtrack." Ichigo shot him a curious look and the arrancar elaborated. "Try to follow these guys' backtrail. Maybe we can figure out where they came from." He was willing to bet it would be interesting. Ichigo smiled cheerfully.
"That sounds great!" Grimmjow began seeking out the trail, and as he did he began to give Ichigo a lesson on how to track. He might have known before but he certainly didn't now, so it would be useful. It didn't take long for the kid to get the hang of it and Grimmjow approved. They both fell quiet for a while, just concentrating on the hunt. "Hey Grimmjow, I was wondering."
"Hmm? What?" Grimmjow said, his gaze on the trails in the sand. They weren't that hard to follow, but a single moment of inattention could cause him to lose them. It could be tough in Hueco Mundo, picking up a trail when it was gone. Ichigo was still giving the tracks his attention, he noticed.
"When an older and more powerful arrancar takes a younger under their wing, that's a fraccion, right?" He asked and Grimmjow nodded. It was a fair enough definition. "So would I be your fraccion?" Ichigo asked and Grimmjow choked, almost completely forgetting about the trail in the sand.
"You're kidding me, right?" He asked in disbelief, coming to a halt. Ichigo just grinned. "You want to be my fraccion? Seriously?" That was just… he didn't have words. Ichigo's grin widened.
"Why not? It's what we are, isn't it?" Grimmjow stared into those brown eyes and saw them change to a familiar golden hue. "And don't you want to have a fraccion again?" Grimmjow swallowed at the teasing tone in the teen's voice. It sure was different.
"Uh…" He had to think really hard about it for a moment. His last fraccion had been nothing but his lackeys. Ichigo would not be a flunky. He wasn't sure what the shinigami would be, but not that. Still… Grimmjow was lonely, and it was nice to have someone along he could really spar with. And there was one very amusing aspect to the situation. "Sure, why not. You can be my fraccion." Then he grinned wickedly. "I can't wait to see the look on your face when you remember everything. You're gonna shit a brick, shinigami." If Ichigo ever got his memories back, it would be a Kodak moment. The teen just shrugged, his eyes turning brown again.
"I'll worry about that when it happens." He said with a smile and Grimmjow just shook his head, utterly bemused. This was all getting pretty weird. He didn't really mind, though.
He was sort of enjoying it.
Time stretched on, in the endless night that was Hueco Mundo.
They followed the trail as long as they could, but finally it was lost. Not because of their lack of skill in tracking, but simply because it was too old. Winds blew across Hueco Mundo and carried the sand with them. Tracks and scent only lasted so long before they vanished. But that was fine. Grimmjow had an idea where they'd come from, now. They were heading directly towards the mountains.
"Grimm? I'm hungry. Can we hunt an adjuchas?" Ichigo asked and Grimmjow frowned, checking his own hunger signals. He didn't need to eat too bad, but he was definitely going in that direction. It was time for a hunt.
"Sure." He lifted his head, trying to scent the wind. Nothing. Sending out delicate tendrils of questing power didn't find anything, either. "Eh. Nothing within sensing distance. Let's keep walking and keep an eye open." To stave off the hunger, he created a reishi pill and handed it to Kurosaki. He ate it, but without much enthusiasm. The kid had gotten a taste for adjuchas and didn't even seem to mind hunting them. It was going to be so funny when he finally remembered.
A good while later – how long, he couldn't know – Grimmjow paused. He thought he'd sensed something but it was so faint he wasn't sure. Narrowing his eyes, he sent his thoughts beyond his body, trying to detect what had caught his attention. A wicked grin split his face as he found the elusive scent of the tastiest kind of prey.
"We're in business. Come on, shinigami, there's something delicious not too far away." Completely defenseless, too. Definitely the best kind of prey. Ichigo looked puzzled but followed behind him. Grimmjow grunted as he found the little rock formation and began searching for the den. He knew it would be here somewhere. "Ah!" Grinning wickedly, he reached inside. Pathetic squalls erupted as he dragged out a struggling little hollow. "Fresh meat. Here you… go…?" Grimmjow blinked as he realized Ichigo was looking at him in what looked like horror. "Don't tell me you're getting all squeamish."
"Grimmjow, they're babies!" He said, repulsed, and Grimmjow dropped his gaze to the wiggling cub in his hand. It was some kind of cross between a cat and a snake, if he was any judge. That meant the dam had to be the cat, a snake would have abandoned the cubs to the sands.
"Yeah, so?" He said callously. "That means they can't fight back. And they're nice and tender." Cubs were always the sweetest of morsels. "The dam is gone hunting, so tough shit, they're ours now." His hand tightened on the cub and it made a pathetic, hopeless sound. It didn't touch Grimmjow at all but Kurosaki reacted, grabbing his wrist.
"Please stop! How would you feel if you came back to your den to find your cubs had been eaten?" He asked and Grimmjow twitched. If he hadn't known better he'd have thought the teen had done that deliberately.
"I know exactly how I'd feel, shinigami. Been there, done that." He said gruffly before looking at the little thing in his hand again. Somehow, it didn't look as appetizing as it had a moment ago. "Fuck it." He let the cub go and it ran back to the den, darting in to nest among its siblings. "We can find something else, I guess. But with our luck we'll run into the dam." Grimmjow growled to himself at the thought. When he'd killed a hollow that was primed for cubs but not pregnant, he'd always made a point to find the den and kill the cubs too. Cubs who were used to being cared for would wait and wait for a dam that wasn't coming back, and letting them starve to death was just cruel. "Let's go." Slightly annoyed, he made a reishi pill for himself. He was getting genuinely hungry.
Fortunately, the next hollow they encountered was an insect and clearly not the dam of the cubs. It tried to run but Grimmjow and Ichigo ran it down easily. The ex-Espada tore apart the carcass, sharing it equally with his fraccion.
"…You had a litter?" Ichigo asked after they'd eaten a good part of the kill. He probably thought a full belly would sweeten the arrancar's temper, and he was right. The taste of fresh meat and the fullness in his belly did help his mood, even touching a topic like that.
"Yeah." He said briefly, but Grimmjow knew Ichigo would need more than that. "When I was a younger adjuchas. It didn't end well." He would always remember the sight of his ruined den, the bloody stains that were all that was left of his cubs. "But that's how shit goes, in Hueco Mundo." He was over it. Ichigo frowned but nodded.
"Well, just don't do that to someone else, okay?" He said and Grimmjow blinked at the novel thought. Empathy was alien to a hollow, but as an arrancar he did have the capacity to understand it.
"Hm. I'll think about it. I bet you'd make a great mama." He said, just to needle the shinigami and was a bit surprised when he blushed. "Oi?"
"I… I think I always wanted children…" Ichigo mumbled and Grimmjow gave him an interested look. Was he remembering something? "But I never thought I would have any…"
"Oh? Why?" He asked and just got a shake of the head in reply. Grimmjow gave him a moment, then shrugged. "Well, let's get moving." They'd done a good job finishing off the kill so it was definitely time to go.
The mountains loomed ahead of them like jagged, broken teeth. Grimmjow had never liked the mountains of Hueco Mundo. They seemed even less friendly than the rest of the desert, and that was saying something. Powerful vasto lorde used to live there, but Aizen had driven them all away. Mostly by accident, since he'd wanted to recruit them. But they were old and smart and wanted no part of that douchebag. Grimmjow wished he'd been that intelligent. But then, the vasto lorde had just disappeared. Could an adjuchas with a fraccion have pulled that off? He didn't think so.
Vaguely, he wondered if the vasto lorde had come back. If they hadn't, maybe the mountains would welcome him. He was as powerful as any of them now. But did he want to live in the cruelly sharp mountains? Shrugging to himself, Grimmjow decided that he'd think about it later. He'd only seen the mountains a few times, over the endless years. Maybe they had changed.
They hadn't. If the sands were cold, the mountains were colder. He had to assume his second release when they slept, just to keep Kurosaki warm. That seemed to fascinate the shinigami and Grimmjow growled as fingers ran through his fur, along the edge of his hip.
"It's so soft." Ichigo said and Grimmjow flicked his ears, struck by the tone. It was wondering and… what? Something else, something he was unfamiliar with. "You're so warm… Grimm…" He opened his mouth to say something and was silenced by a kiss.
That was about the last thing he'd been expecting from Kurosaki, but it suddenly ignited his desires. It had been a long, long time since he'd indulged them. Why shouldn't he? The shinigami was right beside him, warm and fuckable. Why shouldn't he take the pleasure that was being offered? A growl built in his throat and Ichigo looked alarmed just before he was shoved on his back. Clawed fingers sliced easily through spiritual clothing and Grimmjow didn't care about replacing it. It would come back on its own, and pretty quickly at that.
"Grimmjow, slow down!" Kurosaki was sounding a bit panicked now. Grimmjow rested a hand on his belly, blue eyes flicking up curiously. "I… I…" Brown eyes met blue and Grimmjow saw blackness starting to spread over his sclera. Instincts were coming to the fore, but not fast enough. A wicked grin split the Espada's face before he lowered himself, licking the shinigami's half-hard cock teasingly.
The sound he got then was amazing, a low moan that made his own cock stiffen. Ignoring that, he continued lavishing attention on his beta, sliding his rough tongue over sensitive flesh. His tongue was coarse and pebbly like a cats, but that didn't seem to bother Ichigo at all. Rather the opposite, if the sounds he was making were any indication. Ichigo's cock was upright and saluting, now, and Grimmjow briefly considered taking it into his mouth. Then he dropped the idea. He was in his second release, his mouth was full of fangs. Even the slightest mistake with those would not be sexy and Ichigo had no hierro to protect him.
Instead, he moved up the teen's body, grinding their cocks together. He enjoyed the sight of Ichigo swallowing, his eyes wide and filled with lust and something else. Fear? One eye was black and gold now, the hollow inside him rising as the mating pheromones filled the air.
"Grimmjow, please be careful." Ichigo pleaded and the Espada blinked at him. Careful?
"You want me to be gentle with you? I'm a fucking arrancar, shinigami!" This was just too much. Grimmjow growled, his clawed hands running over pale skin and raising fine lines of red. Ichigo gasped in a combination of pleasure and pain. "I'll fuck you into the ground." He promised, his voice a sultry purr. But then he was taken aback as Kurosaki's eyes began to tear up. He'd never seen the shinigami cry before, not once, not through everything.
"Please Grimm." He whispered and that soft, broken sound cooled his ardor. Grimmjow took a deep breath, remembering the cubs. Don't do that to someone else. He'd been taken violently in his past, several times. He'd always thought nothing of doing it to someone else. That was just how things worked, in Hueco Mundo. But maybe…
"Fuck. Okay, I'll be as gentle as I can." He wasn't promising anything. But Ichigo relaxed a little at that promise, his brown eyes wide and trusting. Damn. Grimmjow kissed him then, pushing his tongue into the shinigami's mouth. Ichigo tried to reciprocate but that was a mistake, as he knicked himself on a fang. He drew back with a yelp and Grimmjow licked his lips, enjoying the faint trace of blood. "Sorry. This released form is tricky." He half-apologized before kissing Kurosaki's throat. His skin felt good, nice and tender, but he knew better than to nip it. They would have to make love in his sealed form sometime. Then he could bite to his heart's content.
He paused to look at his hands. They were clawed, a black shade that ended with his elbows. His upper body was mostly furless, much like Ulquiorra's release. Those claws just wouldn't do and he concentrated, growling in satisfaction as his hands took on a more human aspect. Then he sucked on his fingers for a moment. Saliva was the only lubricant they had, and his had healing properties. That would make it even better.
Grimmjow gripped the soul reapers' thighs, spreading those long, muscular legs invitingly. He paused a moment to give Kurosaki a few more licks, making the teen moan and arch. He began slowly working his fingers in as he lavished attention on Ichigo's balls, exploring them with his tongue. The teen whimpered, slightly in pain but mostly in pleasure as he deepened the penetration, exploring his insides with a single finger. It was hot and moist and tight in there, and he purred at the thought of putting his cock in there. But if he was going to be gentle, he had some work to do.
A second finger joined the first and he heard Kurosaki gasp in pain. He carefully scissored his fingers, moving his mouth to Ichigo's cock and slowly, sensuously licking him. The pleasure distracted him neatly from the pain and after he felt the shinigami was stretched enough he added a third finger. Satisfied with his progress, he deliberately began searching for what he knew had to be there.
It didn't take him long to find that special spot, that hard little nub of flesh. Ichigo mewed, arching as his prostate was stimulated. Grimmjow pulled back from his cock, watching as he repeated his action. The way those long muscular thighs were trembling, the sweat beading on pale skin, just seemed to invite him in.
"Grimmjow… please…" Ichigo lifted his arms to him, black and gold eyes meeting brilliant blue. There was no way he could hold back from that and Grimmjow growled before gripping his thighs, easing himself inside. Those strong arms clamped down around his shoulders as he gasped at the incredible tightness, the wet heat of Kurosaki's passage. "Nnn! So… big…" Ichigo seemed to be in pain and Grimmjow glanced down, realizing he was only halfway in. What…?
"Fuck." He cursed before pulling back out and looking at himself. He was too big and he was just lucky the barbs on his cock hadn't engaged. "Stupid release…" Snarling at himself, he forced his power back, his erect cock shortening and becoming more human. He hadn't realized it was a problem since when he wasn't aroused, it looked perfectly normal. "Sorry." He murmured as he went inside a second time. This time, Ichigo's gasp was more pleasure than pain.
"It's okay… pretty new for you too, huh…?" He said with a strained chuckle and Grimmjow grunted. He would have denied it, but he was too busy sliding in and out of that incredibly tight passage. Besides, it was true that he'd never fucked anyone in his first release. It was meant for combat, not sex. His second release was more animal like and seemed more amenable to other activities.
Grimmjow stared into the shinigami's face, noting every twitch and gasp. He'd never have believed there was something more thrilling than fighting Kurosaki, but he'd just found it. Seeing the shinigami caught in the web of pleasure he was creating was amazing, incredible. The tension gradually went out of Ichigo's body, his insides accepting him more easily, and Grimmjow responded by increasing his pace. Then he grinned wickedly and adjusted himself just the tiniest bit.
"Ah!" Ichigo arched as he managed to nail his prostate, killing that sensitive bundle of nerves. "Grimm… ah…" Kurosaki was panting now, his eyes all hollow. But unlike before, that black and gold gaze didn't make Grimmjow want to kill him. No, it made him want to fuck him harder, make those hollow eyes roll back in his head. So he did. Gripping the shinigami's cock with one hand, his thigh with the other, he took the teen with abandon. Kurosaki mewed as he squeezed that weeping member, running his thumb over the tip and spreading it with pre-cum. The moistening helped him get a good, frictionless slide as he pumped the teen with every thrust.
"You're so fucking hot, shinigami." Grimmjow growled out, his voice heavy and a little strained from the effort of holding back his power. He needed to keep his hands and cock human, needed to keep himself from tearing the shinigami apart with the force of his lust. It felt so good though, and control had never been his strong point. He held onto it desperately, even as he claimed the willing body beneath his. He had to keep himself in check…
"Grimm!" Kurosaki was panting now, meeting every one of his thrusts. His eyes were glazed with pleasure and when Grimmjow kissed him, the shinigami let him explore his mouth, their tongues tangling together. "So big… unh… harder…" He pleaded and Grimmjow snarled, gripping his hips and deepening the penetration. He was as far as he could go now, snug in that clutching warmth.
"You feel so fucking good Ichigo." He managed to say, hearing a beautiful gasp fall from those lips. Freeing one hand from his hips he went back to Kurosaki's cock, squeezing and pumping as he pounded in remorselessly.
Grimmjow had no idea how long they stayed like that, fucking like wild animals, but he felt it as the pressure started to build. The pleasure was becoming too much, overwhelming his fragile control, and he grunted as Kurosaki finally arched and screamed, his cock spasming in the Espada's grip. Creamy cum painted his belly and chest and Grimmjow couldn't control himself. He didn't even want to, and he howled as he emptied himself in a rush of pleasure, his reiatsu flowing out from him like a tidal wave. Sand almost exploded and he heard Ichigo yelp in both pleasure and pain, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was the transcendant pleasure of this moment.
When he came back from the moon, though, he realized what he'd done. Kurosaki was groaning and Grimmjow cursed, pulling back his power and forcing in his barbs. Fortunately, his cock had stayed in human proportions. He could have ruptured him, as deep as he was in there.
"Shit! Sorry sorry sorry…" He apologized, running a hand through orange hair and cuddling the shinigami to his chest. There were tears on Ichigo's face now, tears of pain. But there was a half-mask on his face too and Grimmjow blinked at the distorted chuckle that followed.
"Mating is supposed to involve some pain, arrancar. But why don't you fix it?" Kurosaki said, wiggling his hips. Grimmjow frowned, wondering if this was actually the teen he was speaking to. But it was a good suggestion.
"Right." He doubted he could reach that far with his tongue, but it was his saliva that had healing properties. Licking his fingers, he eased them inside, finding the tears in Ichigo's passage. He could feel them healing and pulled his fingers out again, licking away the cum and blood before sliding them back inside. The saliva would get used up rather quickly, he'd need to keep reapplying it. And the cum and blood mixture actually tasted rather nice, strangely enough.
When he was satisfied that Ichigo was mostly healed, he pulled away his hand and let his power come back out. Claws reformed and he was honestly relieved to be done with controlling himself. Looking into the shinigami's face he saw that Ichigo had been watching him, and now he was smiling contentedly. Grimmjow smiled back and curled up with him, running a hand through that sweaty orange hair.
"That was great." Kurosaki murmured, resting his head against Grimmjow's chest. "Even that last part felt good… strange… thank you." He said and Grimmjow laughed, wrapping his arms around his new lover.
"No, thank you. That's the best ride I've had in a long time. But next time, we're doing this in my sealed form. This one's a bit too much for you." He said teasingly and grinned as he saw brown eyes lighten to honey gold. That had ticked the kid's hollow off.
"Oh, screw you. I can take anything you can… give me…" Ichigo grumbled, then yawned. "Nnn." He mumbled before closing his eyes. Grimmjow just watched him fall asleep, then closed his eyes as well, indulging in a light doze.
Even for a vasto lorde and his mate, Hueco Mundo was a dangerous place. It was better not to sleep too deeply.
Author's Note: If Grimmjow seems a little OC, there's a very good reason for that... he's vasto lorde now, like Nel or Halibel. :) Something he's going to think about next chapter...