Before someone yells at me for leaving a cliffie then promptly moving away from that in the next chapter, I would like to say that this was the format I got the story in. Deal with it. :3


To the casual observer, whenever he had nothing better to do Ulquiorra would close his eyes and tacitly ponder. Just like now.

As to what this Vasto Lorde could possibly think about, no one knew. Perhaps he doesn't think at all, but simply stands there for the sake of holding a cool pose to fool people with.

Although even if he really were musing over something, it would just be for killing time and would not hold any meaning.

A desolate sheet of light dripped from a window somewhere, casting unidentifiable shapes through his barely-open lids.

In this dog-eat-dog world…

The other Arrancar around Ulquiorra all have their own little groups, such as Halibel and Lldemum, who have known each other since they were adjuchas; and the was-once gang of Grimmjow, Yylfordt, and co. Ulquiorra had never particularly bothered to keep his distance from those assemblages, but neither did he actively approach them.

On the contrary, it seems that all of his so-called "comrades" kept their distance from him, though of course there were exceptions to every rule.

That heavy-built one they call Yami was the thirteenth to undergo shinigamification. The rather pathetic adjuchas had just been lucky enough with just that teeny bit of enough power to squeeze into the bottom of the Espada ranks. Afterwards Yami had ceased all associations with the ones that used to be of his league, however the higher-leveled adjuchas still would not recognize him.

And so this strange partnership between Ulquiorra and Yami was formed. Simply because Ulquiorra could not be bothered to tell the brainless hunk of meat to get lost. Yami, of course, took that as an affirmative and since then have taken to following Ulquiorra around.

Or perhaps…right now, to the casual observer, they have already become their own "group"…

Ulquiorra mulled over this nonchalantly, faintly mocking of these meaningless categorizations.

And yet, among these groups there was one Arrancar that Ulquiorra simply could not pretend belonged to part of the wall fixtures and walk idly by.

Halibel.

Up until now the only Arrancar of the female variety.

Of course the thing that got her into the Espada's ranks was not her voluminous curves but her sheer power. Ulquiorra quite vividly remembers the sight of Grimmjow being trapped by her, caught motionless between countless bone-white blades.

Speaking of which, both Grimmjow and Halibel seemed to hold some mysterious grudge against Ulquiorra. It's just that, compared with the blatant provocations of the former, Halibel's methods were much more devious.

---- You know, Ulquiorra, given your capabilities you shouldn't possess this habit that can be considered…a weakness.

---- Habit? I would rather call it a coincidence.

---- Now that would just be unreasonable. It's obvious that you have noticed yourself, yet you seem to accept that abnormality and don't plan on correcting it.

You have killed far too many, Ulquiorra, yet you almost never take the life of humans with a certain special characteristic, especially…the females.

---- Apart from the souls of infants, I did not know you were interested in statistics too, Halibel.

---- Hah, I am only reminding you as a caring comrade.

---- I don't believe I need such reminders.

---- Is that so…well, when the time comes, you will understand.

Ulquiorra did not know what this woman was trying to sell to him, but he had never planned to delve into the matter.

Either way, it would be meaningless.

It's just that recently, the female Arrancar had increased the frequency of showing up to dangle nonsensical words in front of him. It could be just him, but this "recently" seem to lay right around the time that human woman had came here…

Undeniably, Ulquiorra had lost a large chunk of his memories from before he became a Gillian. But this had never affected his life in Hueco Mundo.

This endless and meaningless life…

He lives, only because he does not yet wish to be killed.

And so Ulquiorra would not waste any attention on Halibel's chattering.

Those laughable, baseless allegations.

It could not possibly be a habit. Only a coincidence.

At times it would be that he had lost his interest, at times because he did not wish to waste more time, and other times…he did not really know why.

Just a coincidence. Nothing more.

Like this time, after he had received the promise from that human woman, he gave her twelve hours of grace to say farewell to one single person.

Such matters held no meanings in themselves. Therefore he took no losses.

Why did he do that? Ulquiorra himself did not know. Spur of the moment.

Maybe it was because since she was so obedient after seeing her friends' miserable states, and the mission had gone on so successfully, he had decided to reward her. Really, Ulquiorra disliked being faced with a teary, down-in-the-dumps scene. Especially when the other was a fragile woman like that.

As to the fact that the woman's hair just happened to be that brilliant sunset color…could Halibel's conjectures be correct?

Impossible.

Indeed, this idiosyncrasy, hell knows when it was developed, is meaningless as well.

At last, he concludes, his actions that day were the equivalent of rewarding a compliant child with candy.

Just that.

Through a rip in the night sky he saw her go to that orange-head Shinigami's house to say goodbye to him.

A bunch of very ordinary human behaviors.

Then she had wanted to kiss that orange-head, but suddenly stopped half-way and began to cry.

Ulquiorra could not understand.

The event was laughable at best, and also meaningless.

After all, the days when he was still human belong to ancient times long passed and gone, a period that…he cannot recall at all.

"When the time comes, you will understand."

It was only the way Halibel spoke, the tone that declared she knew everything yet is playing mysterious simply in the hopes of seeing him squirm, that Ulquiorra disliked very much.

From the beginning until now Ulquiorra had not believed the human woman would be that helpful to Aizen's plans, even if she did possess unusual powers. From his perspective those healer-type tricks are not nearly as useful and effective as the Menos' flashy abilities. But Aizen had wanted it done, so he brought the woman back undamaged. After all he did agree to serve that man's wishes for one year.

So next time, if that Halibel came by to chatter, he could just find a way to make her shut up for good.

But then, again…

Ulquiorra could not help but remember that human woman showing her gratitude back in the pathway between the worlds.

That…would be called gratitude, right? After he gave her the twelve-hour grace period, he heard her murmur softly, "ありがとう、アランカルさん。"

At that sort of time, under that sort of situations, she would actually thank him.

Should he praise her unbeatably good manners or insult her ignorance of the circumstances?

Such a…strange woman.

And Ulquiorra admits, what Halibel said once was true.

That human woman's hair. That unusual color really is quite beautiful.

The black-haired Arrancar leaned against the windowsills, just like that, too indifferent to pay attention to any passerby.

Suddenly the forest-green eyes flashed open as Ulquiorra stood up.

He felt it: a summons, from Aizen Sousuke's reiatsu.