Chapter 1: A Visit to the Human world
"The world of bones".
A symbolism of death.
No matter what you called it, Hueco Mundo was a place of despair. It was a land covered completely in sand with lifeless trees poking out from the ground every so often. With opposite lunar phases from the human world, the moon would show bright 24/7 in the perpetual night-filled days. That moon revealed the monsters who survived off of the land's Reishi and showed what they really were: demons who had hollow spirits and an eternal and insatiable hunger to devour other souls; creatures with skeletal masks who lived to fill the void left within their being. Those beasts were always searching for something more in their lives. Always craving; always left wanting. They fought and killed each other in insane acts of desperation and the empty cries of those 'Hollows' pierced the night sky every day, weeping in pure agony.
The frequent sand storms blew against the sturdy building posted in the middle of the desert. It was an impenetrable 'city' where the endless cries of lower-leveled Hollows never reached. A place called Las Noches, where all the stronger Hollows dwelled and were a part of an army belonging to the man named Sousuke Aizen.
Aizen was within his personal quarters late that night. The leader of the world of bones was sitting in a high-backed chair, facing a long wall of screens showing images of the many places in Las Noches. He made it routine to survey the large building every night via the cameras placed everywhere, just to see what others were doing and to keep tabs on everyone. Especially the Espada.
For most, when the land turned night the numbered Arrancars would head to their own personal quarters to sleep. Saving those who weren't sane and spent all of their time either killing other Hollows or planning evil things about those superior to them. There were also the special ones who stayed up meditating or experimenting, but for the most part, everyone was accounted for in their room. Except for late, the Lord of Las Noches noticed.
Aizen's slim finger grazed over one of the yellow-glowing spots on the smooth surface in front of him, only having to lightly touch one of the colored dots to get an immediate reaction on the touch-screen 'keyboard'. The computer-like system suspended on the walls started up instantly and vast amounts of images from Hueco Mundo appeared on the many screens. In the middle cluster of screens were images of the thousands of hallways in Las Noches. Different shots of the arid desert were showing on the screens that neared the bottom and on the sides showed the many rooms of 'The Night'. The Espadas' rooms were surrounded by bright, yellow lights to make them easily distinguishable. He wasn't surprised when yet again, one of the rooms was empty, save for a rugged mattress that had seen better days and a sorry excuse for a chair that had been shattered from a destructive anger and left on the floor in splinters. The brown-haired man looked at a different screen showing another room, ignoring the other. His suspicions had been correct.
Though it usually happened but a couple of times a week, that room had showed up empty many times since the first disappearance of one of his strongest Hollows. Even without using the monitors for visual proof, Aizen knew instantly when that room became empty. It was almost like he could hear the dimensional portal opening up and shifting shape in preparation for space traveling. He would then lose the feeling of that bold Reitsu and wouldn't feel it again until a small amount of time passed, feeling the Garganta open yet again; sometimes it took longer until he would sense that Espada's presence, since recently. One of his Espada was leaving Hueco Mundo, perhaps going to the human world, since the soul society would be a stupid feat to meet alone and that Espada would come back bringing another person's spirit energy almost painfully, obviously accompanying their own Reitsu.
Because of this, Aizen knew who his soldier was going to see each time that Garganta opened and closed; yet, he didn't know the reason. He assumed about what was going on, but even his Godly powers couldn't predict exactly what was happening. Though he was sure his assumptions were highly accurate.
Yes, Sousuke Aizen knew for a fact that--
In the middle of Aizen's thoughts came a soft, rapping sound on his closed door. He had felt the Reitsu through his door long before the man even stepped one foot out of his own room. When the man's spirit energy emitted through the material of the door and wrapped kindly around his chair, Aizen called out to the person he knew was standing there.
For now, he would ignore the contrary Espada since his plan was already in motion.
Aizen had it all under control.
The wind from the cool, night air picked up slightly when the gateway through space opened. The man who stepped out of the portal was quiet and ever cautious over his surroundings. He was on high alert and attentive to everything around him: the air picking up around him, the scents that he could smell, every small sound that he could hear and the spiritual pressures that he could feel. The man checked all of these before realizing that it was safe to come out, unnoticed. As soon as he left his Garganta, the wind blew around him and made his baggy Hakama and thin jacket flutter in the cool breeze. He felt the chilliness within the wind and a small shiver went down his spine when he realized how nippy it was that night. Quickly, he descended from the air as if he were walking on stairs and moved toward the house that was directly in front of him.
When he reached the second story window the Espada paused in front of it, once again being cautious. He checked to see if any of the humans inside were awake or if any other spiritual beings were around. Noticing that the nearest spiritual being was dormant and about a mile away, the Espada figured that it was safe enough to go inside the house. He reached up and gently pushed open the already-unlocked window. It had taken him some time to learn some patience when it came to waiting for the locked window to be opened by the human within the room. Before, the man was expected to knock on the glass lightly and then wait for it to open without being able to just break the damn thing. Eventually, after a couple of broken window frames no less, the human just opted to leaving the window unlocked and slightly open.
The man gently and carefully stepped on the windowsill, trying not to make a sound. If someone had heard and then came to investigate, his escape from Hueco Mundo would've been useless. It had been two weeks since the last time he visited the human world and if he had to leave before he could even see him he would be not be happy. Pushing the window open even further to leave himself plenty of space, he carefully stepped into the room.
He saw the familiar sight of the desk the human would always do his 'schoolwork' on, a bookcase and the dresser where that stuffed animal was usually hiding. The Espada glared at said dresser, remembering the time he had come over and that thing had come into the human's room at the wrong time. It angered him to think that their secret was being kept by that annoying... thing. He didn't feel its presence anywhere close by and he was thankful.
Movements on the bed directly to the left of the open window made the Espada look over, immediately seeing the body covered by a thin sheet. When he fully turned so that his body was facing the bed, the man slowly walked forward. Underneath the sheets he could see a twisted body lying on its side. A hip poked out under the covers and by the weird-shaped dent in the sheets, the human's leg was drawn up so that it was almost parallel to his waist. A single arm was used to cushion the obviously sleeping person's head while the other laid out, closed, yet relaxed; fist facing downwards. The Espada watched the human's chest rise and fall evenly in his recesses of slumber and he only stepped closer in means of waking the human teen.
When the Espada lifted his hand to bring it to the human's shoulder, he stopped when the body underneath inhaled a deep breath of air, legs shifting slightly in bed. The man didn't move when the body in bed relaxed again, a mouth twitching slightly as it went back to sleep. That lip twitch caught the Espada's eye and then he found himself watching the teen sleep peacefully before feeling awkward about the situation. His hand rested on the human's shoulder, shaking gently.
"Hey, wake up..."
The Espada's voice was whispered and a bit gruff. The hand on the teen's shoulder stopped its movement when the human in bed shifted a tad more energetically than before and the man watched when those sleepy brown eyes opened slightly. The body below him was somewhat tense after those eyes opened and the Espada took a small step back to let the human wake up on his own. The covers fell around the teen's waist when he slowly sat up in bed, bones creaking at the movement so sudden after waking up. The human met the Espada's eyes again and this time, a small smile crossed his features when he finally spoke, scratching the messy orange atop his head.
"Grimmjow..." The teen started sleepily as he scratched absent-mindedly underneath his plain, white T-shirt and raised his slender arms above his head to give his back a nice crack. After his arms fell and a bit of yawning took place, the human reached out from his bed, eyes still a bit hazy from sleep. "I haven't seen ya in a while. How've you been?"
Grimmjow let himself be pulled into a gentle hug, body bending forward and his arms wrapping around a strong waist after a bit of hesitation. The Sexta's shoulders relaxed against the teen's embrace, resting his head on the teen's shoulder when the arms wrapped around his neck squeezed lovingly. He stepped back when their hold released; the human was still smiling.
"I'm good, I guess," Grimmjow stated, a little distracted by the window when a breeze rolled in. He turned back to the teen, moving to sit next to him on the bed. "How are you, Ichigo?"
The Substitute Soul Reaper moved his legs aside as Grimmjow sat down on the bed, his heavier body making the metal frame creak a little as he settled his weight next to the teen's. Before, such a small act of intimacy would've made the Sexta nervous. During the time when they stopped fighting and Grimmjow came over to talk, the both of them had felt awkward around each other. It took them a few days to become more laid back with each other verbally and then Ichigo hadn't minded when the Sexta came really late at night or extremely early in the morning to talk with him. As a result, there had been almost no more problems or awkward moments between them. Almost.
"I'm doing okay," Ichigo answered, looking at Grimmjow and smiling some more. The Sexta's eyebrows narrowed and he brought a leg up to rest his ankle on the other's thigh, curious. His hands propped him up as he leaned back on the bed.
"Why are you so happy?" He asked quietly, his eyebrows relaxing; his eyes teasing. "Ya miss me that much?"
The Substitute Soul Reaper couldn't help but to laugh quietly in response, probably afraid he'd wake his family up. "I guess I did. I missed talking with you."
Somehow, what Ichigo said made Grimmjow feel a little nervous, despite their situation.
It was true that Grimmjow confided in Ichigo and started making it a habit of telling him what was on his mind or something else that was stressing him out, but it was those kinds of talks that made Grimmjow feel... different. They were mostly the cause of his discomfort in the first place.
In the past, Ichigo Kurosaki had just been someone to release his pent-up energy on. After their first battle, Grimmjow had been eager to fight with the human again after witnessing his inner Hollow. He had waited a couple of weeks before coming back to the human world to fight Ichigo and when they did, it was something else. Because of their insane spiritual pressures, the both of them had to resort to just fist fighting every time they met up. Grimmjow still loved it even though he couldn't let go at full power. He couldn't get enough out of that Soul Reaper, so he spent most of his time sneaking away from Hueco Mundo and going to the human world for more fights. As far as he knew, Ichigo wasn't telling anyone about their secret meetings and he didn't think any of the other Espada knew about it so he really didn't worry too much about it.
Before Grimmjow knew it, their fighting had been so good that he felt at ease with talking to Ichigo about different things. When they were resting after a tiring fight Grimmjow would tell him a little about Hueco Mundo. Just normal things like how boring it was there and how much Aizen expected things of him. He talked about that man with a lot of disgust. Eventually, all of that talking made the two of them closer. Spending time with the Soul Reaper was something he looked forward to. Ichigo had been so caring and nice about it that Grimmjow got comfortable when it came to the Shinigami. He no longer cared that they were enemies anymore because it didn't feel like that to him. From there, their relationship took a new direction when Grimmjow started denying everything.
It happened around a month after they had met for the first time. Grimmjow had been thinking about their situation for about a week straight, mulling over the details of their growing 'relationship'. He had started trying to convince himself that what he was feeling wasn't real and eventually, he didn't feel at ease being so trusting with Ichigo anymore. It got to the point where he was so confused about how he stood with Ichigo that when he did go to visit, it was all violent fighting and it felt like he didn't even need to talk.
Grimmjow would remember that one fight for the rest of his life. He had escaped Hueco Mundo and came during the day, knowing that there was a chance for them to get caught. But he didn't care. All he wanted was to inflict pain on the boy for making him feel. The violent fist-fight was immediate. He remembered the teen becoming flustered and leading them to an abandoned alleyway to prevent someone from seeing them. He felt so alive when he fought so fiercely against the Shinigami and at first he felt accomplished when the boy had fallen, worn out and bruised. With blood on his knuckles and the teen laying on the ground in front of him, helpless, Grimmjow had laughed a madman's laugh at his superiority. He remembered saying something stupid about how much he was only using Ichigo, but the words that the human had said next caught him completely off guard. It wasn't in retaliation and it wasn't said angrily. It was simple and yet it made Grimmjow stop and think.
"There could be something more in your life."
Grimmjow closed his eyes when he relived that moment again. He remembered feeling completely lost after that day, not sure with himself at all. Instead of feeling hatred and being angry, Grimmjow had shown weakness. He had run away. It took him three weeks before he showed his face to Ichigo again. Before he made everything right again.
Being brought out of his musings, Grimmjow opened his eyes and was a bit startled at how close Ichigo's body had suddenly become. He hadn't felt any movement on the bed, nor had he heard the teen move closer. He must have stared off into space for more than a couple of minutes to not notice.
"Are you okay?" Ichigo asked, now sitting right next to Grimmjow, their thighs pressed together and shoulders touching lightly. The teen's legs were swung over the side of the bed. "What are you thinking about?"
Grimmjow held his fixed gaze, not wavering in the slightest against those worried eyes. It was the same look that Ichigo used on him during the first few times they talked. Those eyes had him pouring out the inner recesses of his soul bit by bit to the compassionate Soul Reaper many times.
Instead of answering him with words, Grimmjow alternatively decided to kiss him. He didn't want to admit that his mind had been elsewhere so he decided to distract Ichigo. It was nothing too extraordinary but just a brief contact of their lips before Grimmjow retreated, slowly. His arm supported his body as he leaned away from Ichigo, a smug smile on his post-kissed lips when he noticed the teen's reddened cheeks and knew that he had caught Ichigo off guard.
"I was just thinking about the past. Some of the crazy things we did..."
The Sexta Espada met the Soul Reaper's eyes then, his face seemingly expressionless. He hoped what he said was enough incentive for the teen to start remembering some of the things they did after he came back. It had been a while since the last time they messed around, after all, and Grimmjow could say that he missed it.
Of course Ichigo had remembered.
Grimmjow had barely enough time to sit up fully before Ichigo attacked his mouth with his lips. The teen pushed against strong shoulders so that he could move further onto the bed and who was the Sexta Espada to deny such an exciting action? Grimmjow broke the kiss only to scoot back until his shoulder blades hit the wall and then reached out to tug Ichigo to his chest. The Sexta bit down on the teen's lower lip to start the kiss up again, his arms wrapping around Ichigo's waist as the latter kneeled between his legs.
When a warm tongue pressed against his lips, however, Grimmjow suddenly utilized his upper body strength to push Ichigo so that the teen's back hit his bed without causing the both of them to tumble to the floor. Ichigo watched him with wide eyes, surprised at their sudden change in positions; his lips were shiny in the moonlight with Grimmjow's or his own saliva; breath coming in pants from that little bit of kissing and big excitement. The Sexta couldn't help but to give a trademark smirk at the teen's submission. That was what he liked to see.
Quick to be on top of Ichigo, Grimmjow crawled over the teen's body so that he hovered above, exuding power and supremacy. The Espada watched as Ichigo shifted a bit underneath him, getting more comfortable. Eager to start things up again, the teen's hands rose up to tug on Grimmjow's hair, gently bringing the Sexta Espada's face closer to his own. Ichigo's tongue slid past Grimmjow's lips again and he began to rub his muscle languidly over the Sexta's. A sigh passed through Grimmjow's nose at the feel of Ichigo's hands in his hair and tongue in his mouth.
As Grimmjow kissed him back, letting Ichigo into his mouth to lead the kiss, he couldn't help but to think about the past. A similar situation the two of them had when he had finally showed his face in the human world again. It was after they had started seeing each other in a different light; when they were first seeing each other as lovers.
He had been in Ichigo's room late at night. They had been talking about something, but Grimmjow didn't remember what. Before he knew it, Ichigo had suddenly kissed him. It was technically their second kiss, since the first one Grimmjow had been the one to give. Yeah, he had been the one who started their relationship, but it was something he didn't like talking about to this day. It was some sort of pride issue since he had run away after Ichigo's exposing words to him and then came back only to further their relationship.
In any case, to say that Grimmjow was shocked after Ichigo had kissed him that one night was an understatement. Not only had he not expected the kiss, but he was still feeling a little awkward and insecure about their growing relationship. His immediate response was to shove Ichigo off of him, but he wasn't expecting the teen to fall off the bed and onto the floor. Grimmjow remembered the look in Ichigo's eyes then: Fear; Shock; Shame; Embarrassment; Ichigo couldn't even meet his eyes anymore.
"I'm sorry. I guess I was... too pushy..."
Grimmjow knew he should have apologized properly for what happened that night. Leaving awkwardly after helping Ichigo up and kissing him quickly on the forehead in forgiveness had been something that made him want to kick himself repeatedly every time he thought about it.
"Huh?" The Sexta said a bit strongly due to slight embarrassment after a moment's hesitation. He had been caught staring off into space again. He didn't even know when they had stopped kissing. Why was he being so nostalgic about memories when Ichigo was in his presence?
Grimmjow maneuvered his arms so that his forearms were resting on either side of the Soul Reaper's head, their faces close together. Ichigo had paused before moving his hand up between them to stroke affectionately at the Sexta's Hollow mask. Grimmjow didn't know what to think since Ichigo had never touched his mask before. It was a soothing feeling and he decided he liked it and wished Ichigo could do it more often. There was something special about Ichigo affectionately touching the proof that showed that he was a Soul Reaper's enemy. In those few seconds of stroking, Grimmjow didn't feel at all hollow. He felt filled and wanted.
When Grimmjow opened his eyes (when had he closed them?) he saw the look on the teen's face when the stroking stopped. Ichigo's brows were furrowed and his eyes were concentrating on Grimmjow's face as if he was thinking deeply about something. The Sexta shifted his legs, bringing Ichigo out of his reverie minutely. Their eyes met.
When Ichigo continued to stare into Grimmjow's eyes the Sexta began to worry. Ichigo was acting weird; Especially when a finger raised and trailed gently down his cheekbone, eyes still lost in thought.
"What is it?" Grimmjow finally asked.
Ichigo said nothing at first, though the stroking stopped. He sighed and then leaned up to gently kiss the cheek opposite the bone mask. When his head rested back again on his pillow he looked up at Grimmjow, his face neutral.
"I have a test tomorrow so I should get some sleep."
It was obvious that something was on his mind, but Grimmjow knew how important school was to him. Even though there were so many things keeping him busy and away from the grades he was aspiring to get, Ichigo really did try his hardest when it came to his schoolwork. Grimmjow figured that it wasn't the time to ask him about what was on his mind. There would be another time for that. A time when Ichigo was more rested and more ready to talk.
Grimmjow moved off Ichigo and slowly stood up from the bed, watching as the teen re-covered himself with his sheets. The Sexta waited patiently before leaning down and taking a parting kiss on the teen's forehead.
"I don't know when I'll be able to see you next," Grimmjow started, running his hands though his hair when he felt a stray, blue lock brush against his forehead irritatingly. It was probably from Ichigo's roaming hands earlier. "Good luck on your test."
Ichigo had smiled from his position in bed, already showing signs of getting sleepy again as his eyes blinked slowly. It was two in the morning, after all.
"Thanks, Grimmjow. Goodnight."
A couple of seconds later, a Garganta opened and Grimmjow disappeared from the human world.