Oh dear. Well, I'm at the situation now where I could probably snivel and apologize for paragraphs and paragraphs about my late update. The facts are, it's doesn't matter. I don't have any good excuses. I lost interest in Bleach. I had school, I actually had a social life for once. Every time that something regarding this story popped up in my inbox, I felt this overwhelming sense of shame for never finishing. So even though I'm not so much a part of the fan base now, I am very determined to finish this! Chances are that the next chapter will be the last one.
Gah, I can't even believe it's been almost a year since I update. That's so... awful! Gaaaaah, I really can't thank you guys enough for being so supportive without me updating, and I just hope that people will enjoy this chapter, and still want to know what happens. Again, I'm so sorry. I feel like an awful person, but I sincerely hope that this chapter will make up for it a little more, and the promise that the story will be concluded very shortly!
Disclaimer – Bleach does not belong to me!
-When your heart aches, my heart aches, and this is the song it sings"
Ulquiorra inhaled and exhaled calmly as he strode down the silent halls of Las Noches. He was trying to keep focus, but was failing miserably. An espada such as him should never have a problem focusing, or letting meager things get in his way, and there was no reason why anything should be an exception.
Yet it somehow managed to be an exception none the less.
His thoughts filled with concern and worry, mostly for himself. Yes, he had always been the selfish type, but ever since he had begun working underneath Aizen-sama's command, things had been smooth sailing. His life laid out before him, his goals neatly organized and set into priorities. In his world of black and white, a flash of grey managed to interrupt his calm serenity, and Ulquiorra couldn't decide if that was a good or bad thing. Yes, he now saw himself for the oblivious fool he had once been, but maybe things would've been easier if he had just remained the same as always. Cold to the outside world, cold to himself. Cold to her.
That was it; no matter how hard he tried, all of the 4th espada's thoughts seem to rotate back to that woman. The woman that took his comfort away from him, and replaced it with a feeling of belonging and acceptance. She had hated him, at first at least. He couldn't help but notice when her gaze turned soft once she saw him; but assumed that it wasn't a concern of his. Nevertheless, it became a concern for everyone when he started to recognize himself returning her soft looks, and her carefree behavior.
Because of that, he had come to see what he was missing in these past years, since he worked for Aizen. Since he was an Adjuchas, or even a Gillian.
Ever since he had been conscious of his time in the universe. Ulquiorra had never experienced anything like this, and it was all being torn away from him.
Those kind looks, the soft demeanor. All of that meant nothing if he couldn't have it. That Orihime woman was like a china doll, not meant to be touched or admired up close, but to be put in a glass case and presented for the world. He felt like a small child, to be punished if he didn't understand that simple fact.
Aizen's command had been no-nonsense. He had clearly demonstrated thus far that if he were to associate in un-professional ways with the woman, then he would die. The notable crevice in his mask noted that enough. He may had been oblivious, but never enough to think that it would end nicely. Surely at some point, that woman would understand what his averted glances and cracks meant. Surely she would finally see him for the coward that he was, too scared to even try to love someone, afraid for his own life.
Surely she would forget all about him, and just let him be.
Ulquiorra stopped mid-step, gathering himself. At some point, his breathing had become stifled without even noticing it. He clenched his aquamarine eyes shut, trying to force all of the depressing thoughts out. What was he going to do now? He knew that once he walked back into his room, she'd be waiting, hint of a smile on her flaw-less skin. She'd have a bit of hope in her eyes; the same hope that he knew would never go away, ever since she was kidnapped.
He knew that the moment he walked back into his room, he'd be overwhelmed with the feelings that he was trying to force down so desperately.
So what was there left to do? Would he simply treat her as dirt, and do his best to scare her off? Would he succumb, and pay for it with his life? Ulquiorra had been called level-headed several times in the past, but something like this was not what he was used to.
There was no way to know until he was at that point.
Orihime felt a wave of exhaustion wash over her as she entered the familiar room. Was it comfort? Either way, she felt more relaxed then she had in ages. She looked around, pulling her long orange hair behind her ears.
She looked over at her "bed" over against the right wall, and let out a little sigh of exhaustion. She really just wanted to drop down and sleep, but her mind was aloof with too many thoughts to give her a restful sleep at this point. Her day had been full of spending time with Chirucchi, which was exhausting by itself. The orange-haired girl felt something warm in the center of her stomach as she sat down on her blankets, looking out at the small window positioned high against the north wall of the room.
For once in so long, she felt so at peace just looking at the moon. Unlike before, she didn't look at it with expectations, or concern, but instead with serenity and peace in mind. She just felt so... relaxed.
Orihime's gaze drifted around the room as her eyelids started to droop on their own, her mind refusing to let her go to sleep just yet. Her eyes caught sight of a bed on the opposite side of the room. She let out a sigh of disappointment, knowing that it was not hers.
It had been at least months since she had actually slept on a bed, instead of her blankets on the ground. Her back had slowly adjusted, but still gave her the odd trouble now and again. But the bed just looked so inviting. Orihime wanted so badly just to go and rest for only a little while.
Rising to her feet, she slowly moved over to the bedside, climbing atop, hoping that Ulquiorra wouldn't be back too soon. She wouldn't stay long.
Inhaling deeply, Orihime took in the familiar scent of the man, a soft musk filling her lungs. She sighed out, relishing the oxygen as she enjoyed the soft mattress and the relaxing scent. No, she wouldn't stay long; she'd only close her eyes for a moment.
Or so she thought as she drifted off to a deep slumber.
He noticed something different the very moment that he walked into his room. The entire walk towards his room had been filled with a mixture of dread and excitement, but when he arrived, there was no sight of the woman. He looked to her bed, and saw nothing. She wasn't even in his own bed (he was nearly blushing when he saw that it had been laid in). He had an awful feeling about this. She would very rarely go anywhere without him or another Arrancar, and nobody had contacted him about it. Worry welled up in the pit of his stomach before his focus turned to the ground near the bed. Oh god, there was blood. His eyes widened in disbelief. Thoughts were racing through Ulquiorra's head at an incredible pace as punched his fist against the white walls. It crumbled underneath his touch, and he glared at one of the workers through the giant hole he had made through the wall as they scurried past in fright.
There was only one person who could have done this. He rubbed his hand before storming out of the room to find Grimmjow.
Orihime groaned in pain as she awoke from her deep sleep. She panicked upon awakening, forgetting where she was. This wasn't the room she had fallen asleep in. She swallowed roughly as she cringed, bringing her hand up to her throat. She had a minor cut on it, and it took her a moment before all of the previous events caught up to her.
"You're coming with me." Grimmjow spat at her, and it nearly looked like he was ashamed of what was going on.
"What do you want?" she questioned in panic.
"It's not me. Just orders. This stuff isn't my favorite, but I got no choice." he narrowed his eyes, and hers flickered to the blade held at her throat.
"Orders from who? You can't do this! Ulquiorra will be back soon, and he'll--" she blurted out as fast as she could.
His eyes had a dangerous glint as he mentioned the espada's name, "Watch what'cha say. He's not always gonna be around to play bodyguard for ya."
"What do you... mean?" her voice dropped to nearly a whisper. He averted his blue eyes away from hers.
"Just...whatever. Come with me. Don't make this harder then it's gonna have to be."
"No, answer me!" she burst out, instantly regretting it, as she realized she had leaned into his blade. She felt the cool metal push into her throat, and winced in pain. Grimmjow let out a sound of frustration as he pulled his blade back.
"God, you're clumsy." She leaned over the bed, feeling a few drips of blood fall to the floor before she wiped what she could with her sleeve. Orihime looked up at Grimmjow, nodding slowly before standing, and following him out of the room. She kept hoping that Ulquiorra would appear around the corner, ready to take her back, but Grimmjow assured her that it would not be the case. After a short distance, they both stopped before a doorway, and Grimmjow grabbed her arm, flinging her into the dark room. She saw his eyes one last time before the door closed, and that was probably the first time that he had ever really looked sorry for something.
Orihime looked around the room in despair. Her eyes had begun to adjust before she fell down to her back. How did things become so complicated all of a sudden?
Her thought process was interrupted by another aura in the room. It sent chills up and down her spine as she recognized who it was. A light was lit; another. Soon enough, she could see around the room a great deal, and she made eye-contact with the other inhabitant in the room.
"Aizen..." Her eyes widened, and her heart rate sped up involuntarily.
"Ah, Hime-san, glad to see that you've woken up. I was starting to get worried," he wore his usual smirk, but Orihime noticed something very different this time around. She saw something in his dark brown eyes that she would've never associated with the nightmare standing in front of her. Insecurity? Yes, now she could even notice bits of it in his face too. He was very uncomfortable right now.
"What do you want with me...Aizen-sama?" She grimaced as she choked out the last bit, even going so far as to give him a curt nod. "Have I done something wrong?"
His weight shifted as he started to walk closer to her, kneeling down only a foot or so away, "As a matter of fact, there was something of concern brought to my attention. I figured I might go to the source, as it was something beyond my powers to control from where I was."
He gave a light laugh before responding by bringing his right hand, pulling it back, and hitting her hard upon her left cheek. She screamed out at the instant agony. It felt as if her entire head had been crushed under the power, and her thoughts swam slowly as they tried to catch up to where she had flown to in the room. "Are you sure you don't understand?" He followed to where she had fallen, pulling her up so that she stood in front of him.
Her eyes watered in desperation. No, no crying Orihime!She tried to look at him and make eye contact, but her eyes kept going in and out of focus. "I...don't," she managed to utter out, hardly understanding the question.
He hit her again, this time her other cheek before throwing her across the room again. She landed harshly, and heard a dark crack upon impact as she was heaving for air. It felt as if one of her ribs had been snapped, and she coughed out a of blood in her attempt to breathe.
"So you don't know anything about Ulquiorra now? Isn't it thanks to you that his loyalty to me has faltered so? If not, speak up, and was can just forget this ever happened," he spoke lightly, sarcasm dripping off each and every word of his. Her thoughts were still swimming as he spoke, but focused on the Espada's name. He lowered his voice as she came towards her again. She shied away from him, but knew that she couldn't get away, "Isn't it thanks to you that I have to punish one of my best Espada? How dare you think that you can give love to one of my creations," he glared at her, and she truly saw the insecurity flowing at the speed of light through his head.
She tried for an answer, but couldn't seem to form the words. She wasn't sure if this was due to the pain, or the question itself, but her thoughts simply couldn't process fast enough. Aizen grabbed a handful of her bright orange hair, pulling her face close to his as his gaze bore down deep into her soul, "Tell me you don't love him."
Her lip trembled in fright as she shut her eyes, unable to bear the feeling that she had right now. "I..."
"TELL ME!" he shouted right into her ear, and she began to whimper, feeling so helpless. His teeth were clenched together as he tried one last time, "Tell me that you don't have feelings for each other."
"I... I c-can't." She whimpered out, so overwhelmed with pain and emotion, "I...don't know.. Oh god, I d-don't know..."
He looked as if he would split her in half from the look on his face, but he just dropped her hair, taking steady breaths in and out. "Fine, you leave me no choice Inoue Orihime." he spoke, sounding more composed then ever.
She clenched her eyes shut as she continued to fight back the tears. There was no time to cry now. Too much time wasted. She heard Aizen's footsteps as he walked away from her, and she let out a shudder of pain and sorrow before falling back into an empty, pain-filled sleep.
She opened her eyes, slowly, at first, as if afraid of what she might see once she did. Part of her wondered if she were dead for a moment. All she was was white. Again. She was really getting tired of this color scheme. She heard the sound of footsteps, feared that Aizen would be back. That was before she noticed that she was in a place she had never been before. She pushed herself up, feeling the sharp pain of her ribcage. "Shonou, Ayame; Souten Kisshun. I reject!" she whispered softly, taking comfort in the familiar sensation of using her powers. It felt like it had been so long.
Her breath caught when she heard the footsteps behind her stop. She turned around slowly, and her eyes widened in disbelief.
Whew, so there it is. I really hope you enjoyed it. I think that I've changed a lot as a writer in the time it's taken me to post, but about a 3rd of this chapter has been typed up for a while. I just did most of it today (Thank god for weekends).
If anyone wants to, feel free to let me know in a review if anything interesting has happened on the bleach front that I might be curious to know. From the the looks of it, it just seems like a lot of boring fights. Prove me wroooooong! :)
See you guys next update, and thanks again!