what you want

It was well known in Hueco Mundo that you went to Aizen-sama if you wanted to be appreciated (or at least to believe for a few seconds that you were appreciated), you went to Ichimaru-sama if you wanted to be humiliated, and that you went to Tousen-sama if you wanted a sort of cold indifference which was in its way a kindness, because it never pretended to be anything else.

And you went to other Arrancar for different things.

Cirucci walked into Szayel's laboratory as calmly as she could, but she was conscious of the fretting of her wings and the rustling of her skirts. She looked around, wide-eyed and trying to hide it, nervous and not wanting to show it.

Szayel strolled down the length of the room towards her, stroking the engines and machinery as he passed them with a proprietary hand. His fingers lingered on the sleek glass and metal, drawing thin smeared lines across the lucid displays and brushing smoothly against the curved bellies of tubes and alembics. He smiled at her, tossing his head so that his hair flicked to one side.

She spoke first, as protocol required for the intrusion on a superior's territory, and tried to suppress the bitterness behind her words. "Szayel, most worthy Eighth Espada. I thank you for your kindness in seeing me like this, and apologise for any inconvenience which I may have caused."

"Think nothing of it," he said airily. "How may I assist you, Priveron?"

She bit back bile and all the words that went with it. "I have -- that is, there is something which I have heard that you have done for other Arrancar . . ."

"Of course." He looked down at her from his superior height. "I do understand the problem. One has needs, doesn't one? Needs that require . . . scratching?"

She nodded, humiliated. But it was true. The Arrancar were predatory, all of them. They had been Hollows, and they'd lost nothing of their old hungers; but some of those hungers had been changed, transmuted, to better fit their new shapes. And while the Espada could command whatever they wanted, a Priveron who was exiled to the outer circles must make do with lesser creatures, or crawl to the feet of her superiors to beg for whatever they felt like doing to her. If they hadn't already commanded it from her.

"Well." He draped an arm around her shoulders, and drew her with him back along the room. "I'm sure that I can help you, Thunderwitch, and at a very reasonable price. What sort of thing did you have in mind?"

"What do people usually ask for?" she quickly said. She'd imagined this exchange beforehand, and she knew that other Priveron had had this conversation before her. Surely there would be something quick and unobtrusive that she could demand, and have it over and done.

"Some people like restraint." His hand slid down to tighten on her upper arm. "They like to have that itch . . . scratched, but without having to take care of every precise detail of the timing themselves. To be able to lie back and click the locks and just let the machine take care of it all. Was that what you were thinking of, Cirucci?"

She bristled under his controlling arm. "No. Nothing like that. Just something -- small-scale. Personal. Something I controlled."

"Oh." He gave a little affected sigh, as though vastly disappointed in her. "I'd have thought you understood. The pleasure of giving yourself up to the machine. Of being under its control. No risk, no danger, but lying there and letting yourself be the toy of something greater than yourself, feeling it pounding into you as you quiver there helplessly in its grip, giving yourself up --"

She shook her head violently. "I'm not Ulquiorra, Szayel-san --"

"Szayel-sama," he corrected her.

She bit her lip and tasted blood. "Szayel-sama. I don't get that sort of kick out of surrendering myself."

"And you know that about him?" he asked, mildly curious.

"Everyone knows. It's in his eyes every time he looks at Aizen-sama."

"Oh. Oh well." He shrugged lightly. They'd almost reached the end of the laboratory. "I must say that I think your interests are deeply limited. But I can give you what you want. Something minor. Something small."

She bowed her head. "Thank you, Szayel-sama," she murmured, though the words nearly choked her.

"And I'll just want some of your blood in return."

"My blood?"

"Oh yes. For the DNA print." He squeezed her shoulder again. "I'll build something that looks just like you, but without the awkward bits."

Cirucci shut her eyes and swallowed, trying not to imagine it. A doll. A doll of her for him to play with. A doll of her with cogwheels and artificial blood and . . . "Why?" she choked out.

"Oh well. You see . . ." He released her. "I prefer the things that I've made. They love me so much better than anything else ever can. And as for you . . ." He shrugged, and there was nothing but scorn in his face and voice. "You really are an inferior product, aren't you? A Priveron. Nothing more to be said, really, is there?"

"No, Szayel-sama," Cirucci said, and ground her heels into the pavement, and imagined it was his bare white flesh under her sandals. "No, there isn't."

She'd show him what it meant to surrender some day. Oh yes. It would be so good.

She'd think about it whenever she used the toys he'd give her.