Coronado

"Awake to the Sound"

"I don't want you to use your stupid fucking fairies on it!" he barked.

"But you're hurt!" Orihime whined.

"It's a scratch, you bumblefuck. I'm not a goddamn invalid," he replied irritably. Grimmjow sneered when her cheeks puffed up in a pout. He idly wondered if she was making the face at his obstinacy or his language.

The Caja Negación could only contain an Espada like Ulquiorra for two to three hours, as Grimmjow had explained it, so the two of them had run for their lives following the short skirmish. The Sexta had spent the first half hour with Orihime in his arms, using his Sonido to the point of exhaustion. When he could no longer maintain the speed, he put her down on the sand, and together they trudged for hours further. Orihime knew better than to complain, no matter how uncomfortable the cold desert was. Her questions burned on the tip of her tongue, though. She dared not ask them; not yet, anyway.

After hours of trekking through the white sands, Grimmjow finally called a halt to their flight. Like the deserts she had seen on television back in the world of the living, this one, too, was dotted with desolate rocky formations and skeletal mountain ranges. He chose a tiny system of limestone caves, and the two hid there for a few hours of recovery.

The arm he'd used to halt Ulquiorra's point-blank Cero had been charred horribly by the attack, and Grimmjow had been too tired to stop Orihime from fretting over it. He laid back while her golden shield folded warmly over it, still short of breath and with little to say. He watched her work her magic with hooded eyes.

Now, his arm was healed, his breath filled his lungs fully, and his eyebrow twitched in annoyance. He was fine, and she was still being an annoying little bitch about the tiny little cut on his brow.

Regardless, they had reached an impasse, and he had a feeling he'd won this particular battle as he watched her worry her bottom lip and fiddle with the edge of her white gown. She would back off. He leaned back against the wall, folding his arms across his chest and stretching out his legs before him. He closed his eyes and prepared to rest, physically healed but mentally spent.

She was suspiciously silent.

Minutes passed, and the stretching quiet coming from his characteristically noisy neighbor made him slightly uneasy. He'd stolen enough time with her during their – admittedly quite entertaining – visits in Las Noches for him to know better; his instincts stirred at the abnormality.

Realizing he was getting no rest, Grimmjow eventually cracked open his left eye. He betrayed no surprise as he noted the supremely guilty look on Orihime's face, inches from his own as she found herself caught hovering over him in an attempt to tape a butterfly bandage over his left eye. Where she had procured it from, he had no idea. Maybe her tits were storage containers or something, he thought crudely to himself. She started sweating bullets when his one open eye narrowed accusingly at her.

"Um," she said intelligently. This was rapidly turning into a Very Bad Idea.

Orihime was bent oddly over her defiant patient, her top half barely balanced above his reclined shape as she leaned over on her knees in their low shelter. Things didn’t seem nearly so awkward when she’d fancied him asleep; now, though, it was as if the penetrating stare of his shocking eyes forced her in like gravity. She was rocketing back down to Earth and the unavoidable realization that their proximity was now quite… alarming.

She’d tended to avoid looking him in the eyes. Whereas hers were welcoming – warm, earthy, and almost gray – his were an intense shade of aquamarine that intimidated her into looking anywhere but at them. They were blue like the sky on a clear, crisp winter day – darker around the outside of his irises before the stark whites of his eyes abruptly took over. His pupils were constricted like a predator honing in on its dinner. She recalled the few moments when she’d noticed them dilate in the time she’d known him; it was normally when he was laughing at her.

Orihime gulped when she heard the unmistakable sound of him shifting on the stones. He slowly and surely lifted himself forward from his recline, never breaking eye contact with the girl. As if in the midst of a modern dance, she moved backward in tandem, perfectly maintaining the distance that separated them. Her wild imagination flared to life for a moment, and she envisioned him as a big wildcat stalking his wide-eyed prey with careful and graceful precision. He crawled forward on his hands in the cramped space and over the few short feet to her, adding to the mental image. She nervously jarred herself back into the moment.

By this point Grimmjow had leaned forward completely, and he did not even need to flare his reiatsu for Orihime to feel the oppressive nature of his aura try to dominate her. She was trying her best not to come off as cowering, but that was difficult as he leaned over her in a significantly more… suggestive reflection of her earlier position.

Her face burned scarlet the closer he got, certain that this was indecent in some way but very forgetful as to why when his closeness made it so hard to breathe. Her mind began making rapid-fire observations, a habit that tended to surface when she was nervous. She suddenly noticed how much larger this man was than her. She went cross-eyed when she saw how very straight his nose was, and, oh, my, his eyelashes were the same color as his hair, and they clashed horribly with the strange teal stripes under his eyes, and his jaw was actually quite chiseled under that gruesome panther-like bone, but was it a growth from his own bone or was it sitting atop his flesh like a mask? Did he brush his mask when he brushed his teeth? Do Espada brush their teeth?

I can feel his breath on my face, she thought, lightheaded.

Orihime was startled to realize he had said something, and she'd missed it completely. She stuttered when she asked him to repeat himself.

"I said, 'Be careful.' If I wake up to find you doing something like that again, I'll have to take it as an invitation," he said huskily, his expression aflame.

Throat dry, she swallowed painfully and stared up at him like a rabbit, looking innocent as ever even at the cusp of her own sentencing. She was not oblivious to the direction this could go, and under her terror she hoped that Grimmjow was simply trying to intimidate away her brazenness.

She had no idea what she would do if it turned out he was not kidding.

Her whole face tingled, and her lips in particular felt numb as she noticed his gaze drop to them, hungry contemplation dancing in the depths of his hooded expression. He was mere inches away, and she was certain she would be able to feel a fiery body temperature had he been alive. She waited for his move with bated breath, her chest heaving slowly with nervous anticipation.

She felt cool air brush across her face once in a huff, along with a whispered bark of laughter.

"Dumbass," he said under his breath as he casually bumped her under the chin with his index finger before moving away, back to his side of the crevasse. "Don't touch my face," he warned her before closing his eyes again and trying to get some rest.

Orihime exhaled shallowly. He moved away from her, and it was like the world went back into play.

She'd never felt that before. It was like the butterflies from every crush she'd ever had in her life decided to throw a party in her belly all at once. Her brain worked using singular words, like "close" or "blue", and she was certain she had been gaping like a fish, face slack with submissive anticipation.

Darn him!

So much had already transpired today, and her psyche was certainly not prepared for another curveball to her already tattered nerves. Stubborn in her exhaustion, her brain decided now was not the time to process whatever… that just was.

She felt like a fool, but she realized that she was so far out of her league and realm of comfort that perhaps she needed some time to recover from this incident. As soon as her cogs started turning again, she could worry about what just happened.

In the meantime, though…

I think this warrants a nap, now.

She suddenly felt her exhaustion crash over her. Despite her roiling emotions, she was asleep in minutes.

She never noticed the sliver of blue staring at her from her companion's eyes across the short way.

He watched over her the entire night.


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