"They Pick and they Pull"

She could make friends with a rock if she wanted to, Grimmjow mused.

Despite his recent revelations weighing heavily on his mind, he’d woken her again so they could continue on their flight from Las Noches. She had started this leg of their journey groggy and fatigued, and he was annoyed that her needs were so human.

After some time, though, her head had cleared up, and his irritation fizzled away with every increasingly surefooted step he heard her take on the sand. A couple of hours passed like this, her concentration focused on her own feet and his responses to her occasional questions nothing if not monosyllabic.

That was when she made another friend.

The two travelers quite literally stumbled across a massive desert-worm Hollow, the monstrous creature bursting from the white sand beneath their feet. It bellowed hungrily, clearly sensing the girl's living reiatsu and assuming it had an easy meal before it.

Grimmjow immediately fell into a ready stance, a bored - and bothered - expression on his face as he prepared to dispatch the nuisance. The girl had clumsily tumbled to the wayside, separated from him by the massive serpentine body. She didn't have an ounce of combatant in her, he thought with a curious combination of worry and humored exasperation.

Hand on the hilt of Pantera, his muscles coiled in preparation to pounce on this latest beast. The metallic “sshk!” of his katana peeking out of its sheath was the only warning the monster would have. Then he heard Orihime’s disembodied voice exclaim over the rushing sand.

"Whoa!" Grimmjow cocked his head to the side at the noise and listened. "You look so weird!" Her words made him roll his eyes. Profundity was not her ally today.

She was right, though. The purple worm-Hollow's face was nothing more than a giant set of pink lips that housed an awkwardly large set of teeth. Atop its head sat a horned bone mask like a visor, and it had no eyes that he could make out. Even Grimmjow had to admit that the predator looked pretty ridiculous.

Then, against all that was unholy in this wasteland of a purgatory, it started crying.

The former Espada quite simply deflated, incredulous. His grip on the hilt of his sword slackened, though his hand did not drop from the weapon. The wailing noises the worm was making were quite beyond anything he had the capacity to handle, and his expression evolved into a strange cross between fury, disgust, and helplessness. He watched as Orihime, again in view, finally started to panic.

Waving her hands in front of her frantically in an apologetic gesture, she spoke again. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it like that!" she said in a high pitch, mortification quickly slipping to the forefront. He observed with morbid amusement as she fumbled for a placation.

"What I meant was, I've never seen anything like you!" The Hollow continued to wail. "You're 'weird' as in 'cool' and 'unique'! Cool-weird!" she tried to reassure.

The monster's cries lessened in volume as it absorbed her continued attempts at diplomacy. Grimmjow offhandedly wondered where its tears were coming from, seeing as how it had no eyes.

"You know what? I was so wrong. You're not weird-looking at all!" She clasped her hands in front of her face, trying to look as sincere as possible. "I don't know what I was thinking when I said that. You must have just surprised me, because you are super awesome-looking." The Hollow somehow managed a plaintive expression. "I mean it! Honestly!"

With one last sniffle, the altercation was over.

Grimmjow could not suspend his disbelief when she, fearless in her stupidity, took a step forward and started scratching the worm under the chin.

"Who's a handsome Hollow? You are!" She spoke as if to a dog, coddling him now that he was compliant. Soft tremors shook the earth beneath his feet as the tip of the monster’s tail smacked the ground repeatedly in budding glee. The girl was clearly forgiven.

"So what's your name, handsome?" Grimmjow scowled mightily at the overheard nickname, internalizing the pout he really wanted to express. All this time together, and she certainly never said such nice things to him...

"Bawabawa," the monster responded deeply, taking both the human and the Arrancar by surprise. It could speak.

Huh. Even his name was stupid, the ignored Espada thought somewhat petulantly. "That's an awesome name!" he heard Orihime exclaim instead. He sighed loudly as he stood tall, all semblances of his attacking posture gone. Grimmjow stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked around the monstrous worm, greeting the chatty pair on the other side with an unamused sneer. She and the Hollow were already acting like best friends.

"Grimmjow, did you know that Bawabawa can swim in the sand like a whale in water?" she exclaimed, trying to draw her aloof partner into the conversation as she continued to scratch the Hollow's head. Grimmjow was having none of it.

"Are you serious right now?" he asked, mustering as annoyed a tone as he could contrive. It was not difficult. "Move your ass, Princess. We don't have time for this shit." He approached, then addressed the Hollow. "You will make yourself scarce, if you know what's good for you," he growled sinisterly.

Bawabawa looked at him dumbly, then back down at Orihime. "Where are you going?"

Grimmjow bristled, unused to being ignored by such a weak creature. Before he could voice his displeasure, though, the girl responded.

"We're headed for the Negal Ruins. We're on the run!" she added conspiratorially at the end. While Grimmjow made a face at her audacity and inability to keep quiet about matters, the tremendous sand worm made an unmistakable noise of interest.

"Bawabawa knows where the Ruins are! Bawabawa can take you there fast!" he said, referring to himself in the third person. Orihime gasped at their fortune.

"Can you really?!" she exclaimed.

"No," Grimmjow cut in with finality, his dangerous tone booking no room for argument. The girl finally turned to him, paying the Arrancar her full attention for the first time during the encounter. She had a pout on her face as her large eyes looked up at her ally pleadingly.

She’s shit out of luck if she thinks that garbage will work on me, he thought to himself as he painted a foul sneer on his face.

"But... Why not? I'm sure we can get there way faster on his back!" Grimmjow snorted. At his continued look of noncompliance, she pouted further. "And my feet hurt!" she whined. She was being quite persistent with this one, he noticed. "I'm only going to slow you down if we keep walking like this. And I'm sure you don't want to carry me..." His sneer grew despite her increasingly convincing argument.

You’re right, he almost started. I’m still making you walk, you whiny bitch.

But the words never left his mouth, and instead the two commenced a stare down. He absolutely towered over the girl, and he wanted her to feel how pissed he was right now. He stepped right up to her, making her crane her neck in order to maintain eye contact.

They stood like that for a solid moment, one with narrowed icy eyes and a firm stance and the other warm and open and pleading and so goddamn adorable. Bawabawa looked nervously between the two. Grimmjow’s thin eyebrow twitched. Orihime’s eyes glistened.

With an air of one absolutely put-upon, the Arrancar waited for a few moments before sighing deeply and looking away. "I'm not stopping him if he decides to eat you, chick," he said in a quiet rumble. Orihime blinked dumbly for a moment, rooted in place as she processed her victory. As soon as it registered, her face brightened tenfold, and she twirled to face her new ride.

"Hooray!" she cried, throwing her hands up in the air and celebrating with Bawabawa. The Hollow echoed her exclamations, his long body undulating in a strange dance. Grimmjow’s heavy exhale turned into a mighty groan as he turned away from the embarrassing sight.

"This is going to haunt me, I just know it," he complained to no one in particular.
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