Notes- There is a bit of scenic gore in one scene of this... There's also some language (damn that Grimmjow, cursing so damn much), so I wasn't sure to make this T or M-rated. I chose T. -shrugs- You've been warned, anyway. Please enjoy, and please review if you did.
Ultimately, no matter how you sugarcoated it, it was a damn fool who wanted to have the opportunity to delve blindly into the mind of Ulquiorra Schiffer; by the time he'd have come out, he would have inadvertently and utterly destroyed himself. It was known by the world -- and it was the reason why there was not a soul on the face of the planet who would voluntarily come within a 3.5-foot radius of him. Because, put simply, Ulquiorra would not hesitate for a moment -- there would be no second-thoughts, no contemplations -- to thrust his bloodstained hand through their chest and into their heart, and, just as easily, snatch it back out. The only remains of the person who dared to attempt to enter his thoughts, sadly, was just that: a desperately beating heart flopping the floor like a fish on land.
And even that would not remain for long; in the end -- Ulquiorra knew himself that he was one of the few Espada who cleaned up after himself -- even the lone heart would be smashed as he took his leave. (Using his foot to smash the remains did count as cleaning up after himself, did it not?)
Even the clueless Inoue Orihime must have known there was something irregular, something horribly wrong, in the innards of the mind of the Espada Cuarta, for she had managed to always keep a set distance from him when he entered her room. Or at least, this was how it had been in the beginning; now, it seemed as though the prisoner had lost all care in the world. The glint in her eyes -- the hopeful expression she wore after she first learned that Kurosaki was coming to save her -- had dulled and ultimately died out; when she smiled or laughed, there was no meaning in it. There was no oomph, no true emotion in her words.
Ulquiorra suspected that the reason was simple: the previously cheerful, lively schoolgirl had had her happiness snatched away when she was stolen from that human -- that substitute shinigami. And it was snatched even further when the substitute shinigami had died.
In the beginning, the routine was simple and repetitive: as he walked in the room, carrying the tray of food in his hand, she would jump, alarmed -- but as the minutes wore on, she would calm herself enough to explain to Ulquiorra just how long Aizen had left to live until "Kurosaki-kun" emerged, ready to destroy him. Ulquiorra would merely shake his head, closing his eyes and grimacing with what he knew resembled disgust. And it was. He had quickly grown tired of hearing countless stories of Inoue's pathetic memories of the shinigami -- and listening to them only clarified the fact that Kurosaki Ichigo needed to die a painful, gory death. "You won't see him," Ulquiorra had tried to explain. "You won't see him, because he will be killed before --"
And, every time, this was when Inoue would become overcome with uncontrollable hate. Sometimes she would restrain herself from acting upon it, but there were other times when she would strike him across the face, use her Kanten Zanshun attack on him, or simultaneously do both.
It was…almost entertaining.
But at the same time, Ulquiorra did not understand why he accepted such actions from such a lowly human. Or, more accurately, he did not want to understand. He did not want -- or need, for that matter -- to understand the fact that being around Inoue Orihime's hopeful, expressive aura had ignited something in his own aura. Something indescribable, unbelievable -- and hardly possible. Something that should have been impossible for an Arrancar -- let alone him -- to feel.
Inoue had ignited the unimaginable.
He loved her -- and it was completely unacceptable.
Hence, later that night, when Aizen-sama called him to a short meeting with Grimmjow to talk about "something", there was no element of surprise.
"Good evening, Espada." Aizen placed his hands together, interlocking his fingers, and smiled down at the two Arrancar before his throne. "You are likely to be wondering why you were called here," he continued, separating his hands to pour himself a cup of warm tea from the jug on his armrest.
Ulquiorra pivoted his head slightly to set his half-lidded eyes upon the fool beside him: Grimmjow, who was standing imperfectly before his master, leaning carelessly to the side as always. It was a sign of immense disrespect to the person who had, in a sense, given him life after death. He was lucky that their master's throne was so high up that it was virtually impossible for Aizen to have noticed it, or else Grimmjow would not have lived past that moment.
"What is it you want from us?" the sixth Espada called out, crossing his arms tiredly.
"Quick to get to the point. I like that." The corner of Aizen's mouth curled up. He took a long sip of tea before continuing. "I've grown tired. When those intruders -- the substitute shinigami and his companions -- had first entered Hueco Mundo, I expected to be amused for a while. Unfortunately, as the five of them have already been defeated, I require further entertainment."
Grimmjow smirked. "So, should we have Ulquiorra here dress as a clown to entertain us all?"
At this, the Fourth Espada remained silent, closing his eyes wearily and knowing that, despite the urge, he could not lop off Grimmjow's head just yet.
"While that would indeed arouse amusement for most of the residents of Las Noches, I'm afraid I require something much more compelling," Aizen stated, sipping the last of his tea. There was a moment of silence before the statement came out -- a moment in which Grimmjow began to open his mouth to say something, but closed it just as quickly: "I want everyone dead."
Grimmjow furrowed his brow. "Ehh?"
And then it registered. "The weaklings," Ulquiorra murmured. "So they have bothered you, Aizen-sama?"
The Arrancar beside him turned to stare at him. "The hell're you babblin' about now?"
"He wants us to destroy Las Noches. For the entertainment. Am I correct, Aizen-sama?"
Their master nodded, smiling. "Perfectly. The prisoners, the Arrancar -- anyone who is deemed to be weak must be eradicated; I've grown bored of hosting foolish, weedy weaklings in my fortress," he said. "Only the ones who are needed and who can provide efficient power will remain. This palace shall be much quieter when you are finished, will it not?"
There was a short moment of silence before the taller Arrancar broke into uncontrollable fits of laughter. " Hah! It's been a while since I've been ordered to go on a slaughtering spree— Months, dammit!"
Ulquiorra sighed, eyeing the hysterical fool beside him. The downward curve of his lips deepened dramatically when Grimmjow began to grow louder as his excitement increased. How many kicks in the ass would it take before Grimmjow realized the disrespectful actions he was making?
But it was useless. Fools, in the end, would remain just that: fools.
"IT'S ABOUT FRIGGIN' TIME, GODDAMMIT! Those goddamn shits had better be praying for their lives…because my damn jacket will be bloodstained as hell by the time I'm finished with their weak asses! HAAH!!"
Aizen seemed to be enjoying the little production going on, but the other Espada in the room was all but amused. "Calm yourself when you're in the presence of Aizen-sama," he muttered.
"Calm myself? CALM myself? HA! Your little pussy-ass has gotten so delicate and soft, ya don't even have a spine! Just remember: unlike you, Grimmjow still has an actual dick."
The corners of Aizen's mouth curled upward. "You may kill whomever you please, but there are a few requirements and rules that you will have to follow," he said. "I would prefer it if you avoided getting bloodstains on my carpets. If you so desire, you may destroy half of the entire palace, but if there is a speck of blood on the rugs, I will not hesitate to eradicate your existence." When the two nodded (it was standard procedure for Aizen to threaten their lives just before giving them an assignment), he continued, "More importantly, certain people must be killed by you, Grimmjow -- including Cirucci Thunderwitch, Szayel Apporo Grantz, and Gantenbein Mosqueda."
Both Espada nodded, uttered the word "Understood," and turned on their heels to exit. Before either reached the exiting doors, however, Sousuke Aizen's voice echoed against the towering walls, "And you, Ulquiorra."
He stopped and turned around silently.
"I forgot to tell you one last person that I want you to kill off personally." There was a moment in which the Espada stiffened in a manner that even Grimmjow must have noticed. Ulquiorra generally showed no physical signs of caring about anything -- but he sensed something in Aizen's expression this time. "That person is…" He sensed, through the meaningful stare Aizen was giving him, that he knew. Aizen must have been fully aware of the slight change in his reiatsu, the change in his thought pattern -- and he intended to prevent it from developing any further. Hence, when Sousuke Aizen began to articulate the name of the person who he specifically wanted Ulquiorra Schiffer to slaughter, the Fourth Espada, already knowing what he was going to say, uttered the name with him in unison:
There was something about his face that calmed the guilt in her heart. Something … about the way his lips curled into a slight smile, even while he was sleeping. Running her hand over his cheeks, she knew she was where she had always wanted to be. At least here she would no longer be alone… even if it was a dream.
The silver moonlight shone through the window on the other end of the room, touching his face ever so softly. Bent over him, her tears fell onto his bed like small showers of rain, reflecting the moonlight perfectly and glistening in their descent. Finally…she was where she needed to be.
"Kuro-- Kurosaki…kun…" she whimpered, "I'm so--" Her voice had stiffened, making it hard to utter the rest of her confession. "I'm so--" Contorting her face desolately, allowing the tears to descend her cheeks like a slow, ever flowing faucet, Inoue forced the words through her mouth: "I'm… so sorry…!"
Even in her dreams, Ichigo was not sleeping -- he was dead.
And there were no more words. Only cries, whimpers, and one last goodbye to him.
Goodbye… Halcyon days…
Grimmjow Jaggerjack was not one to waste time. The moment he departed from Aizen's presence, he had gotten straight to business, walking at a brisk pace and taking a left where Ulquiorra took a right to avoid having to deal with his irritating ass. Ulquiorra telling him to "calm himself"? It was almost comedy. Grimmjow only wished that Aizen had ordered him to kill that nagging bastard instead of all of the other weaklings he was about to slice up.
But hell, whoever said he gave a fuck? Blood could be a beautiful thing -- if it spilt out of one's body the right way. Destroying quantity always was better than destroying quality, and besides, he could already feel his skin prickling with excitement. The death of Ulquiorra could wait.
"Slaughtering spree time."
"N- No… Schiffer-san, please don't!"
Ulquiorra closed his eyes as though sighing. What trash. Such foolish weaklings did not deserve to live, especially if they were frail enough to have to beg for their life. There was no excuse for an Arrancar to be so feeble.
Aizen-sama deserved better.
Ulquiorra's eyes snapped open. The Arrancar before him only stared with widened eyes as Ulquiorra thrust his hand so deeply into his chest that his fingers extended through the Arrancar's backside. An excess of blood surged from the foot-deep hole in the victim's body as he snatched his hand back out, revealing an arm surrounded in a thick coating of crimson liquid.
With a soft thud the Arrancar dropped, the side of his head smacking against the red puddle on the floor.
Death number 105.
Ulquiorra turned on his heel and walked through the door. He had no guilt or care towards the sixty-four Arrancar and three Espada that he had just mercilessly eradicated and left lying lifelessly on the floor (although for Aizen, of course, he had been sure to avoid spilling any blood on the carpets; he had flung the corpses in the hallway where, luckily, there were no mats). He quietly shut the door behind him and waded through the piles of lifeless corpses in his path, making his way to the next cell.
How pathetic. Even after death, these weaklings still insisted on being in his way.
The expressions on their faces were all the same, so there was nothing exciting about their deaths. Every eye was dramatically bulging out of its socket, every mouth was gaping, and every chest had an immense hole in it where Ulquiorra's hand had snatched out its heart and smashed it in his fist, allowing the fluid inside to burst and squirt everywhere within a two-foot radius.
Yet the most disgusting part was not the way in which they were killed -- but the fact that none of them had the guts to fight back and die with pride. If they had, perhaps Ulquiorra would have been generous enough to rip out only half of their heart instead of the entire thing.
But no. In the end, they were not worthy of being Aizen-sama's cohorts -- or even his slaves, for that matter.
He looked up and found himself as the next cell. Flinging the locked door off its hinges and into the hallway, he stepped inside. This death-routine was beginning to grow tiresome… Perhaps it would be wise to make this quick --
What was that reiatsu? Familiar, but -- this couldn't have been that room, could it? That couch pushed up against the westernmost wall of the cell… That barred window in the corner… And --
Yes, his suspicions had been right: Inoue Orihime lay cuddled on one end of the couch, her head resting on the armrest, asleep.
This was her cell. It seemed as though he had not been paying close enough attention to which room he was entering when he walked through that door, for he had been trying to avoid encountering her. She was supposed to be last --
But that would be stalling.
Stalling was something that only weaklings did. No, he would kill her here and now -- swiftly, quickly, so that it would not last long. And he would do it before Grimmjow came ambling down the corridor, boasting about the number of lives he'd just destroyed.
The Espada walked closer to her lightly slumbering figure, which was easy to see due to the moonlight shining through the barred window in the corner, settling itself comfortably on her face. A curtain of her orange-brown hair slipped off the sofa and lay hanging off the end of the couch. Her small figure, with that enormous chest of hers moving in and out with each breath she took, intrigued him: why were there no Espada like this?
"How…" It had been a while since he last said the word -- in fact, he hadn't uttered such a word since his days living as a human. "…peaceful."
Was it weak so say that?
Well, certainly he wouldn't mind being weak for a quick moment, if it meant being here with such a beautiful --
No. He was going to kill her, not reflect on her beauty.
Or her growing strength. Or how the hopeful smile on her face was the only pleasant thing he had seen for a long time. Or how she once asked him concernedly why he had permanent tear marks running down his face. Or how she never really seemed to mind his cold, careless persona. Or how guilty, lonely, and grievous she must be, knowing her friends had died in the pursuit to save her. Or…
…how much he loved her.
Love was not a weak emotion; he was not being trash by thinking that.
Ulquiorra raised his blood-covered hand, knowing full well that in a moment's time there would be just one last helplessly flopping heart on the floor, and just one last coating of blood on his arm. One last death, one last slaughter.
"To the one I love…" he spoke ever so quietly, "…prepare to die."
" 'ey, you in there, bastard?"
Grimmjow stepped over the corpse in his way to enter the now door-less cell. After stepping inside, he observed the area, noting that in the white room was nothing but a couch and, he noted, a few orange-brown hairs on the floor. That reiatsu…
Both Inoue and Ulquiorra were here a moment ago.
He ran his foot over a drop of red liquid hidden behind the couch, and as it spread and smeared onto the floor, it was made obvious that it was indeed blood. A bit farther away from the couch was a trail of the same blood leading up to the wall, where the trail suddenly stopped. Next to that exact spot, a bit farther up the wall was the window in the room that had previously been barred, as to allow no one to exit out of it. But now, he noted, as a swift breeze entered through the window, the bars had been blown off the window, leaving an open space in the wall that led to the outside world. They had escaped.
"I knew he was a pussy."
Author's Note: Wow... I knew from the beginning that Ulquiorra was going to be made slightly out of character, mainly due to the fact that...it's VERY difficult (but still possible, I think) to make a pairing like this (UlquiHime) and keep it strictly in character. Well, either way, I enjoyed writing it -- and to the people who suggested expanding on the plot, I'm contemplating what I would do if I made future chapters. Thanks a lot for the nice (or just honest in some cases...) feedback, everyone.
Yachiru: Ken-chan will be happy if you review! (Even though he has nothing to do with this fic...)