Title: The Rain that Binds
Pairings: UlquiHime with some one-sided IchiHime and IshiHime. Other pairings may be hinted at later.
Rating: T
Spoilers: Up to chapter 282 of the manga
Word count: 3,544
Warnings: Noitora's potty mouth

I can't believe this is the last chapter! T.T I'd like to thank my betas, dreamoperator23/Sidonzo and my parents…especially my parents because they had to suffer through reading a story about a pairing that they didn't understand…

Of course, biggest thanks of all to you, the readers and reviewers!

If you click on my profile, dreamoperator23 has made some awesome fan art for two scenes of this story. If you have time, please check that out. Also, if any of you out there are artists and have fan art for this story, please PM me your art so that I can add it to my profile page (I will, of course, credit you). Thanks so much!

Ok, without further ado, the final chapter of The Rain that Binds! Enjoy and don't forget to keep an eye out for new side stories!!

She felt her body tremble in disbelief as she stared at Ulquiorra's motionless body on the ground. Her eyes were wide as she took in his form, the blood pouring generously out of the hole that Aizen had created just seconds before. Her brain kept telling her that she needed to move, that she needed to get over to him and heal his wounds, but her body refused to cooperate. Finally, her body snapped out of its daze and she ran to his side. Calling out Ayame and Shun'ou, she placed the shield over Ulquiorra's body, her hands hovering over his body in concentration.

" It's a pleasure to see you again, Orihime," Aizen said, wiping Ulquiorra's blood off with a piece of cloth that he had stashed somewhere in his uniform.

She resisted the urge to shudder at hearing that horrible voice and settled for looking up, glaring harshly at him. He laughed at her attempt to be threatening and continued.

" It saddened me that your visit to Hueco Mundo was ended so abruptly. We didn't even have time to get to know about one another bett-"

" You make it sound as though I were guest while I was there. You and I both know that was not the case, Aizen," she said, almost echoing the words that Ulquiorra had spoken to her that first night after they had escaped from Las Noches.

He chuckled lightly, obviously amused by her antics. He watched as she tried to heal Ulquiorra's wound.

" You won't be able to reject it this time. My reiatsu is wrapped up in his wound," he stated, staring at her powers lustfully.

Orihime ignored him, though she knew that it was not safe to do so. However, she refused to give up. She would heal Ulquiorra, even if it took her whole being to do so. After a few agonizing minutes, she was able to see some progress as the hole began to slowly shrink. Glancing up, she noticed that Aizen was still staring at her.

" Why don't you attack me?" she questioned, continuing to stare at her work instead of at the shinigami above her, " I'm defenseless this way, you know. You could have killed me any time you wanted to."

" Ahh. Yes, I indeed could have, but then…who would I have had to recharge the hougyoku's power for me?" he questioned, holding out the orb for her to see.

Orihime looked up at the object that was responsible for everything. It was the reason for this whole war that they were fighting. It was the reason these Arrancar around her existed. It was the reason that she had been taken to Las Noches. It…

' It's the reason that I met Ulquiorra in the first place,' she realized, her eyes widening as tears began to fill them.

" Aizen, I'm going to make sure that horrible thing you hold in your hands never existed in the first place!" she exclaimed, glaring at him as she prepared to make her shield larger to encompass the hougyoku as well.

" Don't," Ulquiorra grounded out, trying to lift himself off the ground, " That is what he wants you to do."

She looked at him, confused.

" What do you mean, that's what he wants me to do? Why would he want me to destroy the hougyoku if that's what is used to-"

" Because that is not the hougyoku. In reality, it is something that he ordered Szayel to create that looked like it," he explained. " His plan was to show you this orb and lead you to believe that he was showing you the hougyoku. He knew that, once you saw it, you would be determined to destroy it. However, the true purpose of that orb is –"

Ulquiorra let out a harsh cough and rested his upper body on his elbows. He took in a couple of deep breaths and continued.

" The true purpose of that orb is to steal your powers completely and allow him to use your powers for himself."

Orihime felt her eyes widen in response. Suddenly, she was very glad that she had never been able to go through with her plans of destroying the orb.

' If I had, then…' she started, not wanting to finish her thought.

They heard a soft tsking from up above them and saw Aizen shaking his head ever so slightly. He looked down at the two with a dangerous look on his face; Orihime had only seen it once before, when he had been taken into Hueco Mundo from Soul Society.

" Look around you. Do you see your allies, struggling in their battles against my army? How long do you believe this war will last? It's already clear who is the victor here. It's only a matter of time before those powers of yours are mine," he stated, waving a hand across the battlefield.

Orihime looked around and was shocked at the damage that her nakama and allies had suffered. She could see countless bodies of lower ranked shinigami spread on the ground, causing some of the others to lose their balance. She noticed that there were battles that were still taking place and was disappointed to see that the Arrancar clearly had the advantage.

Even with their Bankai and their reiatsu being unsealed, most of the captains were having trouble with the higher-level Arrancar. Many of the battles, which had started out as one on one, were quickly becoming two or three to one, and yet, even with three shinigami fighting against an Arrancar, they were barely holding their ground. Not even the infamous Zaraki Kenpachi looked like he was doing well, as he attempted to hold off Noitora's attack while gripping a large wound at his side. She shook her head in disbelief.

" This can't be happening," she whispered to herself softly, " It just can't. We're the good guys. The good guys are always supposed to win, right?"

" Not in real life, Orihime," Aizen said, looking down at her, turning his attention to the battlefield before him.

She had finally finished healing Ulquiorra and let out a soft sigh as he pushed himself up into a sitting position. He glared at Aizen coldly, trying to shove himself off the ground completely until he felt a hand lightly push him back down. He looked at Orihime and saw the plea in her eyes.

" Don't push yourself. There's nothing you can do at the moment that would do any damage to Aizen," she whispered softly.

" My dear Arrancar," he started, " This is it. The moment that you have been waiting for for so long has finally arrived. Now, strike down the shinigami foes before you and, together, we will destroy this world!"

The Arrancar all raised their swords preparing themselves to attack their enemies. The shinigami raised their zanpakutou, hoping hold off their finishing blow. Seconds passed. Then, minutes. Orihime blinked, unsure of what to make of the scene in front of her.

' What's going on? Why aren't they moving?' she wondered, looking between the battlefield and Aizen.

It was then that she noticed a blonde child-like Arrancar making its way towards Aizen. He held finger to his mouth and walked a slow, awkward gait before he finally stopped in front of the shinigami and stared up at him, his purple eyes shining. Aizen looked down and plastered on his fatherly smile on as he lowered himself so that he was at eye-level with the shorter Arrancar.

" What is the matter, Wonderwice?" he asked.

The novena Espada just smiled a toothy grin in response, tilting his head slightly. Before anyone knew what was going on, he unsheathed his zanpakutou and attacked. Aizen was much faster than the Espada and caught the blade in his hands, a slightly amused look on his face.

" What is the meaning of this, novena Espada?"

Suddenly, all the Arrancar that were on the battlefield began to laugh, the shinigami staring at them in confusion. This continued for several minutes until, all at once, they stopped in unison and turned to face Aizen.

" We? What the fuck are you talking about, we? You really think that we're idiots, don't you, Aizen-sama?" Noitora started, his voice dripping with disdain as his mouth turned down into a deep frown.

The brown haired shinigami looked perplexed for a moment before his face returned to normal.

" I do not understand what you mean, Noitora," he said, glaring at the quinta Espada dangerously.

" Don't play around with us, Aizen," Szayel replied, dropping the formalities, " After all, a plaything should know its place."

" Oh?" Aizen muttered darkly, his hand reaching for the hilt of his zanpakutou. " I think that you are quite mistaken."

The cuatra Espada tsked, wagging her finger at him, " Oh dear. It seems as though there has been a bit of…miscommunication on our part. Apparently, you were under the impression that you have been manipulating us. The fact is…we've been manipulating you."

" When you first came and offered to transform us into Arrancar," the tercer Espada started, " we knew that you were doing so for your own gain. Even though we were enemies against one another, we could never let a shinigami have control over us. So, we let you think that we were loyal to you while, in reality, we were using the power of the hougyoku to unlock more of our own powers."

" I created you," he stated, unsheathing his zanpakutou, " I can destroy you as well."

" It will be a little difficult without this, don't you think?" the octava Espada questioned, a small grin on his face as he held the hougyoku in his right hand.

The Arrancar formed three large groups and began to advance towards the three shinigami that they had been supposedly serving for many months. Noitora led a group towards Gin while the tercer Espada, along with Wonderwice, led a group towards Tousen; finally, with the largest group of the three was Stark, heading towards Aizen.

" You were careless, Aizen," Halibel stated, " You forgot that, despite the human-like forms that we are currently in, it doesn't change the fact that, deep down…"

" WE ARE MONSTERS!" they cried out in unison.

They all charged at the shinigami in front of them. At first, it seemed as though it were a lost cause. Despite the number of Arrancar that were attacking, Gin, Aizen and Tousen did a good job of simultaneously attacking and guarding. However, it became clear that the three were having trouble with the number of enemies that were attacking them. Suddenly, the Arrancar overtook them, even before they were able to call on their Bankai. Their zanpakutou were thrown carelessly onto some corner of the battlefield.

" The Arrancar. Why are they rebelling against Aizen? On top of it all, they're…they're working together…" Orihime noted, turning to Ulquiorra.

He shook his head slightly, his eyes as wide as her.

" I do not know. I would never have imagined that they would have made a truce between one another in order to fight against a common adversary."

Suddenly, they heard horrified screaming from the three groups. Orihime closed her eyes and placed her hands over her ears in an attempt to drown out the sound. It didn't help. She could still hear the horrible cries. After a few minutes, there was silence. Opening her eyes and removing her hands from her ears, she turned to the group that had attack Aizen. They pulled away. Her eyes drifted down to the ground only to find…

" What…what happened to them?" Orihime murmured as she and Ulquiorra stood up and joined her nakama.

There was nothing left of them. The Arrancar licked their fingers and mouths, apparently satisfied with the meal that they had just shared. They turned to the previously forgotten shingami and Vaizards, who looked on in mute horror at what had just occurred.

" You…you just…"

" We ate them," the cuatra Espada replied unabashedly, " And this surprises you because…? Honestly, shinigami, you should know by now that this is what we do. Don't act so damn surprised!"

' I doubt that any have actually seen their own kind being consumed first hand,' Ulquiorra thought as he glanced at the wide-eyed faces of Ichigo and Rukia.

They stood there for a few moments, both groups staring each other down before the three groups of Arrancar walked towards each other to form one huge crowd. The shinigami prepared themselves for an upcoming attack. They waited for a few seconds before they realized that the Arrancar were not attacking. Instead, they had opened up a garganta to return back to Hueco Mundo. About 100 or so Arrancar had walked through the portal. Hitsugaya called out to them.

" What are you doing, returning to Hueco Mundo like that, when there's still a battle to be fought?' he demanded, pointing his zanpakutou at them.

Noitora turned around and gave a quick once over of the battlefield.

" Well fuck. Look at you pathetic lot. If we were to attack you now, that would be the end of that," he said, his grin widening, " And then what would we have to do for fun? After all, eternity is a long long time. Don't you worry. The war is far from over. This is not the last you will be seeing of us, shinigami."

And with that, he turned around and walked into the garganta, the portal closing behind him. The Vaizards had already left, leaving the shinigami and their allies, as well as Ulquiorra, staring at the sky where the portal had just closed up. They surveyed the area and noticed the damage that had been done. The grass had been torn up, trees had been uprooted, and some of the nearby buildings were damaged by stray attacks.

" So…I guess this means that we get to pay for the repairs, huh?" Renji asked, sweatdropping, as the taichous around him nodded wearily.

Orihime turned to Ulquiorra, staring at the place where Aizen had punched his hand through his chest. Her fingers grazed the area lightly as she looked up at him with watery eyes.

" I-I thought I had lost you," she stuttered, trying to keep the tears in her eyes from pouring out, " I don't know what I would have done if -"

She was cut off as his finger was placed to her lips.

" But I didn't," he replied, brushing a strand of hair that was stuck to it.

" Hey!" Yoruichi called out, causing them to turn and face her, " If you want to do that kind of stuff, go and get a room already. If not, come over here and help!"

Orihime turned a deep shade of red while Ulquiorra blinked once, feeling warmth spread over his cheeks. They walked towards her, trying to ignore all the stares of confusion and amusement that they were getting from the crowd around them.

A few months later…

" Ahhh! Schiffer-kun is tied with Ishida-kun for number one again! He's so amazing!" a random girl squealed as she checked the grades that were posted in the hall.

" I know!" another girl exclaimed, " He's smart and handsome and foreign! He's just perfect!"

Ulquiorra ignored the comments of the girls around him. Ever since he had started school with Orihime and her nakama, he had been swarmed with fangirls who insisted on throwing themselves at him any chance they got. Although it was a nuisance, it wasn't anything that he couldn't handle. The only time that he had ever lost his patience with them was when he saw a couple bullying Orihime. After that incident, he made sure that no one would even think of trying to do that again.

"I don't know," one girl added, " Ishida-kun is quite handsome as well…"

" The most perfect thing would be Ishida-kun and Schiffer-kun together. There'd be so much beauty between the two of them!"

Ulquiorra resisted the urge to throw up what he had eaten for lunch. He thought of him with that… no. He shuddered and turned to see that Ishida had a similar look on his face.

He looked down at Orihime, who was standing to the left of him. She apparently did not understand what the girl had meant, considering the blank look on her face. Shaking his head slightly, he returned his attention back to the wall in front of him and looked for her name.

" It appears that you have achieved the fourth rank in our class," he told her, seeing her frown slightly.

" I moved down a rank."

" Don't worry about it, Orihime. You'll do better next time," Tatsuki assured her, patting her on the back lightly.

It had been an… interesting experience, the first time meeting with her friend; Tatsuki seemed to be wary of him. After seeing how much he cared about her best friend and her safety, though, the black haired girl began to warm up to him. Of course, when she had asked how the two had met, they conveniently left out the part of him kidnapping her, bringing her to another dimension full of monsters, and him being one of those monsters himself at the time. For some reason, they figured that she wouldn't take very kindly to that.

" Hey, did you hear me?" Orihime asked.

" What did you say?"

Sighing, she responded, " I said that we should be getting home now."

He looked at the clock and saw that school had already ended. Nodding, he picked up his bag from the floor and walked next to her. They were a few feet away from the school grounds before she reached over and intertwined her fingers with his.

" There haven't been any Arrancar attacks recently. Not only that, but they took the hougyoku with them as well," she started, " Do you think they – "

"I am certain they will hold true to their promise. As for the hougyoku, it is unnerving that it is in their hands, but at least with each use of its powers, the orb will weaken."

She nodded her head and they continued to walk in silence. A few minutes later, she turned to him and began,

" Hey, Ulquiorra? Do you remember that first outfit I bought you? You know, that green shirt and the black slacks?"

" Yes. Why?" he asked, curious as to why she had brought it up.

Blushing slightly, she said, " I thought it looked really good on you. It's a pity that you don't wear it as often."

" It will take me at least half a year before I would be able to wear it again, especially since I am required to wear this uniform for most of the week in addition to all the clothing that you have purchased for me recently," he noted, looking down at the clothes he had on.

" That's true," she decided, nodding slightly, " You know, I really wanted to buy you a red shirt because it would contrast with your eyes, but…I thought that looked too Christmas-y. Hey! Do you think that we could dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus for Christmas this year?"

He didn't respond. Ulquiorra had quickly learned that it was not necessary to answer all the questions that she posed him. He listened to her ramble for a couple of minutes before he interrupted her.

" And maybe you can dress up as the Easter bunny – "

" I meant what I said before," he stated.

Orihime looked up at him and tilted her head.

" Huh? What do you mean?"

Turning to her, he continued, " The first time that I saw you in the Arrancar uniform. I said that it suited you. I meant it…even if the style of the dress was atrocious"

" You did? I really really hated it," she said, laughing uncomfortably, " I don't know why, exactly. Why did you say it suited me?"

" It was the color. White. It's a reflection of what is inside you," he answered, feeling himself flush a bit.

They stopped and stared at each other for a moment. Tiptoeing, she placed a chaste kiss on his lips and smiled. Brushing a strand of hair away from her face, he brought her closer and pulled her into a deeper one, his hands resting on her hips. Pulling away from each other, they saw that the other was blushing, although Orihime looked much redder than he did. Suddenly, Ulquiorra felt a drop a water land on his cheek and trail down his face.

" Ah! It's starting to rain!" she exclaimed. "We better get home before it starts to get any harder!"

Silently, the two walked hand in hand. Turning his head to look at her, he noticed a content smile that graced her lips. He closed his eyes, smiling ever so slightly.

' I am home.'