Rating: Mature, for sex, violence and torture.
Synopsis: They can't take their eyes off of each other. Gravity draws them together. That which divides them becomes insignificant. A chronicle of love, friendship and war, this story follows the unlikely story of two souls that are, in every way, polar opposites. Ulquiorra has never known love, never known desire, never known life. Orihime is an angel with broken wings. With Aizen out of the way, Ulquiorra and Orihime seek to understand their undeniable fascination, even as it tears away at everything they thought they were.
Pairings: UlquiorraXOrihime, IchigoXRukia
Spoilers: After Chapter 296
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach (although I wish I owned Ulquiorra)
A blinding whiteness closed in on Ulquiorra as he cursed under his breath. In an instant, the Caja Negacion had surrounded him entirely, trapping him in the empty, colourless world he found himself in now. Whiteness extended eternally in all directions, the world itself set within a powerful spiritual barrier that prevented escape. Ulquiorra furrowed his brow slightly, showing a rare sign of irritation. Analyzing the reiatsu compromising his surroundings, the Espada quickly judged that it would take him approximately two hours to break through the world's barriers and return to Hueco Mundo. What a waste of time, he thought with a mental sigh as the situation finally got on his very last nerve.
As he stood there, floating in space, long coattails drifting around randomly, he told himself that it was utterly unacceptable that he, Ulquiorra Schiffer, the Cuatro Espada, be outdone by the likes of Grimmjow Jaegerjaques. Emerald eyes grew faintly darker as he thought of the man who had burdened him with this unnecessary annoyance. Grimmjow was the most reckless person that Ulquiorra remembered ever knowing. He was a barbarian, akin to an enraged monkey, coming at you from every direction with full force, relying completely on his brute impulses for survival. Grimmjow never cared about the consequences or implications of his words or actions. He did whatever he wanted to whoever he wanted, and then got angry when things never went his way. In Ulquiorra's mind, this was pure idiocy, and, Grimmjow, a buffoon incapable of rational thought or foresight.
Ulquiorra knew how to get things done, and he knew how to get what the wanted. Unlike Grimmjow, he kept his thoughts to himself, not allowing his face to reveal any emotion. Ulquiorra would always wait for the opportune moment to strike, and then take what he desired in a single instant, leaving everyone around him seeing stars. For his own purposes, he would feign complete and utter submission to Aizen-sama, he'd play the part of the unconditionally loyal slave, hell, he'd become a rodeo clown, if it meant he would get what he wanted.
From one venture to the next, Ulquiorra, like a chameleon, took on any role that suited his purposes, allying himself with more powerful hollows, using their power to crush those who stood in his way, and then devouring them the moment they showed an opening. Serving Aizen-sama was just the latest in a long series of such endeavours that have culminated in the terrifying Fourth Espada.
This time, as always, Ulquiorra was able to pull a veil over everyone's eyes; he had fooled everyone so well that some of the cruder arrancar had started calling him 'Aizen's fuck buddy.' As for Aizen-sama, he had found in Ulquiorra someone whom he could trust with his most important affairs. The emerald-eyed Espada did all he could to gain Aizen-sama's trust for one reason, and one reason only: he wanted power. For as long as he could remember, more than anything else, Ulquiorra wanted power, and has resorted to any means to obtain it.
Ulquiorra was a master manipulator, calculating his every move with utmost care. He could easily read the people around him, learn of their personalities, their hopes, their fears. The piercing green orbs saw through everything, from the woman's phony submission, to the madness lurking within Aizen-sama's deep brown eyes. Through this, he set himself up exactly where he wanted to be. Ulquiorra became the soldier Aizen always dreamed of having: efficient, powerful, unwaveringly obedient, and emotionally unmovable. In return, Ulquiorra obtained power far beyond his wildest dreams. And, all he had to do was to keep up this charade of loyalty a little longer, until Aizen became the new God of the world. Once Aizen became God, he would be requiring a couple of loyal souls to advance his next plot, which would result in Ulquiorra being raised once again to a new level of power. And if Aizen failed, then just as well. Ulquiorra would just make sure that he wouldn't be around to get caught up in it.
This was the plan that Ulquiorra decided upon soon after he joined 'Aizen-sama.' As a Hollow, it was in his nature to strive ever higher, to become stronger than all others around him, simply because there was no other way to survive. Ulquiorra knew no other way of living. With him, as with all Hollows, being the strongest meant being able to live another day, and nothing could ever cloud this never-ending pursuit of power.
That is, except her, Ulquiorra mused silently. She had a way of making him forget about all else, and his desire for her was without a doubt the oddest thing that had happened to Ulquiorra in his entire Hollow existence.
There wasn't much Ulquiorra desired, but when he wanted something, there was very little he wouldn't do to get it. Even if his target was a little (completely) different than usual, he would still capture it, as he always did.
It hadn't taken long for him to decide that he would have her. Something about her hair coloured like the setting sun and her gray eyes that were too expressive sparked a strange fascination in the usually unmovable Espada. The first time he saw her, he couldn't take his eyes off her for a second.
Aizen-sama had sent him to the material world to evaluate the power of the shinigami-human boy Kurosaki Ichigo. He never expected for anything significant to take place. It was just another task, a task that needed to be preformed carefully and efficiently. There was no need to rush, no need to dwadle. Soon, everything he was looking for would find its way into his hands. She was one of the first to arrive.
He immediately noticed a million things about her. Her peach-coloured face and lively gray eyes so clearly expressed determination, horror, fear, worry, and countless other emotions Ulquiorra had never bothered to think about, and even more emotions he couldn't understand. The feelings that he had always thought so burdensome somehow seemed beautiful on this young woman's face.
She had long slender legs, a thin waist, and a chest that seemed too large for her petite and graceful frame. Ulquiorra could not explain for the life of him why this observation seemed to come with an odd warmth in the pit of his stomach. Such a phenomenon he had never experienced.
But more than anything else, Ulquiorra's eyes were drawn to the woman's hair. It was like fire, like the passion burning beneath her eyes. Even while surrounded by the golden-orange foliage of early autumn, her hair stood out to him as if it were a candle glowing alone in the darkness. No, not a candle, he mused, the sun. The sun that he had never until now yearned after.
He stopped his train of thought short. The sun? This woman's reiatsu was pathetically miniscule. She was trash; it was obvious from a single glance. Luckily for the Cuatro Espada, Yammy was an idiot, and he had to repeat this thought out loud, as much to inform Yammy as to convince himself. He could not allow himself to be shaken so easily.
"They're nothing but trash. Every single one of them," he said coolly and with certainty. Indeed, they are trash. She is trash… He convinced himself that he was glad that the woman was leaving, carrying a dark-haired woman away. The real world seemed oddly distant to him. The feeling in his chest was all-encompassing, and he had difficulty observing the situation through the confusing haziness.
Ulquiorra was vaguely aware of another person who had arrived with the woman, although who/what he/she/it was eluded him completely. That is, until Yammy, the bubbling fool, tore apart that person's arm. The woman with the hair of fire came running back, eyes filled with pain and regret. He couldn't shake the absurd feeling that she looked beautiful with that look in her eyes. In that moment, he could see nothing but those grey eyes, throbbing with a thousand emotions.
He continued to stare at her until Yammy asked if the girl was trash. Somehow, it was more difficult to form the words this time, when her eyes were dancing so entrancingly with emotion. Ulquiorra closed his large emerald eyes, suddenly not wanting to see what would ensue, and said the words he knew he must. He could not allow the human woman to have this amount of power over him. He could not endanger his plans over trash like that.
His own obsessive fascination shocked the stoic arrancar, even though, as always, the emotion could not be read on his face. How could his rational mind even entertain the idea of abandoning his plans to go after a woman? Let alone a human woman, let alone human trash. Never before in his endless pursuit of power had Ulquiorra ever stopped for even a second for someone else, and now he was playing with the idea of making that woman his. It was inconceivable, unacceptable.
Remember the mission, Ulquiorra repeated internally. A shinigami with orange hair and a black bankai. Orange hair, black bankai… It's strangely pleasing how her skirt flutters in the wind… Alright, that was it. The woman had to be destroyed before he was pulled any deeper into this morbid fascination.
"Yes. She's trash." Ulquiorra echoed his thoughts out loud, trying for the umpteenth time to convince himself that the woman was trash. However, did the assertion sound hollow, even in his own ears? He couldn't tell, and Yammy was no indication, as the thick-headed giant was already about to kill the girl. I don't care that she will die. She is trash. She is trash…
A shield had been raised between Yammy and the girl. Ulquiorra noted distractedly that the shield held the same kind of warmness as her hair. As he had been so distracted by the girl's eyes, he had failed to notice earlier that her face seemed to shine like moonlight, so pale and smooth, comforting and mysterious, somehow. Hair like the sun, a face like the moonlight… And those eyes Ulquiorra had been so entranced by… They now held such strong determination, as if she really believed that she could defeat both Yammy and himself. Oddly, those determined eyes of hers infuriated Ulquiorra more than he thought possible. This woman was instigating irrational reactions from him, and he didn't like it. The emotional roller-coaster was almost more than he could take. What was happening to him?
That was when Ulquiorra's attention was turned for the second time towards that trash friend of hers, because the woman was doing something interesting. The woman seemed to be trying to heal her fallen comrade.
Completely uninterested in everything else going on around him, Ulquiorra focused on the shield that enveloped the arm of the woman's comrade. In intense concentration, he mentally went through the possible powers that could cause the phenomenon he was observing. A healing spell? No, Ulquiorra thought. This is something completely different than a normal healing spell. Reversing time? Spatial manipulation? Whatever it is… it is certainly not healing. Never have I seen something quite like this before… Perhaps the woman is not trash after all…
Ulquiorra felt it again. The desire to have her, to own her. She was not trash, and she was unique, and Ulquiorra tried to convince himself that this was enough of a justification for him to want her. He failed. While his face remained unchanged, the rational side of him once again gained dominance in his internal debate, and he refused to be mesmerized by the woman any longer. He ordered her killed. Luckily, Yammy didn't notice the uncharacteristic impatience in Ulquiorra's voice.
And, just as Yammy was about to strike down upon the gorgeous woman, a man with orange hair got between the two. Suddenly, the woman took on a pitiful look, and for a moment Ulquiorra didn't want to watch her anymore. What had happened to her strong attitude? Why was she suddenly acting like a frightened child? Who was this orange-haired man who had caused this change? Whoever he was, Ulquiorra found himself hating him with an intensity that he didn't think possible. Why was this woman stirring such powerful emotions in him?
The stranger released his bankai. Orange hair, black bankai. Ah, so he is our target… Ulquiorra saw his chance, his striking green eyes narrowing slightly. With his hands still in his pockets, the Cuatro Espada let Yammy loose on the shinigami, watching the woman intently for a reaction.
The shinigami was powerful, even surprisingly so. He was able to chop off Yammy's arm with ease. Ulquiorra figured it might be best to kill him now to avoid trouble in the future. The boy could prove problematic to Aizen-sama, and therefore problematic to Ulquiorra's own plans. Ulquiorra had to consciously suppress another reason to kill the boy: perhaps that woman would no longer show such a pathetic face if he weren't around anymore. He decided then that if Yammy failed, he would kill the shinigami himself.
Just then, the boy's reiatsu began to fluctuate wildly. At one moment he's trash, and then the next, he's even more powerful than I. Yes, the boy was proving to be interesting, and the sight of his pain even managed to pull a delicious scream from the woman. From the corner of his eye, he saw Yammy smack the redhead, sending her flying. She was still alive, but Ulquiorra decided he would punish Yammy later. After all, he hadn't yet decided against taking ownership of the woman.
For the first time ever, Ulquiorra was filled with indecision. Some rather powerful people had arrived, and Ulquiorra and Yammy were now outnumbered. He would have to leave soon, so he had to decide on his future course quickly. Should he just kill everyone, then leave the Material World before more back-up arrived? No, Aizen-sama had designated only one target, and he would not want to disobey orders at such a pivotal time. Should he leave everyone alive, and take the woman away with him to Las Noches? No, he would have no way of justifying an immediate kidnapping, even though she was interesting. Should he kill the boy quickly, and then leave? No, it would be a shame for the shinigami to die before he could develop his powers enough to be a worthy opponent for Ulquiorra.
The final, most important question hung before him. Should he just give up on the girl? Unacceptable. She held his fascination, and once Ulquiorra set his sights on something, he would never let it escape. Something about her hair and her eyes had left Ulquiorra stunned. He had to find out what was so special about her. For some reason, Ulquiorra suddenly felt like everything else only came second to that.
Even though the logic behind Ulquiorra's desire for the woman was flimsy at best, and none-existent if he were to be truly honest with himself, the fact of the matter was that he desired her. There would be no negotiations. The woman would be his… Which left him with just one option.
Ulquiorra intervened just in time to save Yammy's life. He quickly declared the battle over and the substitute shinigami trash, asserting that his mission was complete. Stepping through Garganta with Yammy, Ulquiorra now had a new plan to set into motion. He would have the woman, and she would chose of her own free will to come to him. All that was left to do was use the power of his eye to show Aizen-sama why it was in his best interest to have the woman in Las Noches.
Upon returning to Hueco Mundo, Ulquiorra gave Aizen-sama his report. As usual, the scene everyone witnessed was twisted to Ulquiorra's advantage. The boy with the orange hair and black bankai was portrayed as mediocre trash unfit to be killed by a soldier of Aizen-sama. The woman was shown as someone with unique and extraordinary powers that defied God, and who was an integral part of the enemy's forces. As planned, Aizen-sama wanted her, if not for the strategic advantage it would grant, then for the sick amusement of seeing her cower in fear in his presence.
Manipulating Aizen-sama was easier than it should have been, but, then again, someone as powerful as he probably didn't really care what went on on the side, as long as his plans were advancing. Ulquiorra knew that Aizen was merely using the woman as bait, although whether or not it worked mattered little to him.
That night, in his chamber bathed in soft moonlight, Ulquiorra contemplated the events of the day. He sat on his large white couch, trying to find some order to his jumbled thoughts. Somehow, the future he so desired just a couple of hours earlier seemed meaningless. He had always believed that the only thing with meaning was power.
Yes, power meant that you would not be devoured. Power meant that you would not retrograde into a mindless beast. Power meant that you could live to see another day.
But what purpose does power serve, Ulquiorra thought, as he closed his eyes, if there is no sun to greet you in the morning?
Ulquiorra shook off this absurd thought, deciding that he preferred to remain sane rather than try to figure out where that thought had come from. Finally, his troubled mind found peace as he stared up at the crescent moon in his small window.
The events of that day changed Ulquiorra's life, although he was still unsure if it was for the better or not. Despite the pleasure of having the woman in his grasp, Ulquiorra was fully aware that his fascination with the woman was unhealthy; only trash like Grimmjow and Nnoitora took pleasure in inflicting pain on a living thing.
Ulquiorra's plan was to explore the woman's psyche, so that he might be able to understand why he couldn't stop thinking about her. Whatever the reason, he was hoping to put an end to it before it came to the point where he'd have to choose her over Aizen-sama. But every time he spoke with her, every time he was in the same room as her, he found himself puzzled over every little thing that she did. Absolutely nothing about her made sense to him.
Unlike everyone else he had ever known, he could not figure her out. Sure, he knew she wasn't really loyal to Aizen-sama (who was?), and that she cared deeply for her friends, but there was much more there that he just couldn't see. Her essential personality eluded him. Whenever he thought that he had her figured out, she would surprise him. When Ulquiorra thought she was a meek girl, she acted bubbly. When he thought she was weak, she showed him how firm-minded she was. When he thought he could break her, full of determination, she slapped him across the face.
Each time Orihime surprised him, Ulquiorra would find himself wanting to hurt her. Oddly, it felt like, in her own way, she was rebelling, not against Aizen-sama, but against him. And he needed to punish her, to show her who was in charge, who owned her. But every time he crushed her down, she came back stronger, as if she knew how much torment she was putting him through. And even though Ulquiorra hated that woman, hated how she was insubordinate, how she let her friends make her weak, and how she would call out 'Kurosaki-kun' in her sleep, what Ulquiorra hated the most was that, even while hating her, he couldn't help but be affected by everything she did and said.
Even now, in this world that is empty of all life and colour, with absolutely nothing to remind Ulquiorra of her, his thoughts drift, as they always do, to Inoue Orihime. He could not understand the look she gave him before he and Grimmjow had started fighting. Ulquiorra had almost killed her precious Kurosaki-kun, her most important person, and yet all her pathetic soul could muster was apologetic eyes and a diverted glance? What was that woman thinking? After ten minutes of careful thought, he still couldn't figure it out.
Ulquiorra wanted the woman. His encounters with her had not changed that. From the moment he laid eyes on her, he desired her. Suddenly, irrationally, he didn't care about gaining more power anymore; he just wanted to own her. Ulquiorra's carefully cultivated plan flew out the window. There was no choice to be made here, he realized later. Inoue Orihime would belong to Ulquiorra, although in what way, Ulquiorra had no idea. For the first time, he couldn't understand his thought-process, nor justify his decision. But this didn't matter. The woman would be his, for whatever that meant. He had already changed his plans, now he needed just adapt them to his current situation within the Caja Negacion.
And that is why, in this world even more glaringly white than Las Noches, Ulquiorra was lying in wait. His hands in his pockets, eyes closed in contemplation, Ulquiorra was bidding his time. He ran through the events of the last few days in his mind, remembering to the smallest detail everything that occurred with the intruders, with Aizen-sama and the other shinigami renegades, with his fellow Espada, and with the woman. With his superior intellect and vividly clear memory, as well as his rather intimate knowledge of Aizen-sama's doings, Ulquiorra constructed in his mind the most probable course of events for the next few hours, and also the best way to take advantage of the situation.
Nnoitra had incapacitated Sado Yasutora, and was still on the prowl. Aaroniero and Kuchiki Rukia had killed each other. Szayel Apollo was winning against Abarai Renji and Ishida Uryuu. Grimmjow was undoubtedly fighting Kurosaki Ichigo about now. Knowing their strength levels and personalities, Ulquiorra surmised that the shinigami would likely defeat Grimmjow before Nnoitra would intervene and kill the injured and exhausted Kurosaki. With this, all of the intruders would be dead. And, although to Ulquiorra this was a good thing, there was one thing that bothered him in this equation.
The woman was out of her cell, and by the substitute shinigami's side. This unnerved Ulquiorra to no end. He figured she would most likely do something idiotic like try to get between Nnoitora and Kurosaki Ichigo, which could result in her death. This would certainly put a damper on Ulquiorra's plans. The women must definitely, definitely not be harmed. And, once again, under the cool surface of his smooth, ashen face, Ulquiorra's lifeless veins coursed with anger towards the Sixth Espada. Not only did Grimmjow trap him in this barren void, but he brought Inoue Orihime into harm's way. And that was simply inexcusable. Just what did that trash think he was doing with his prey?
After four more hours floating in emptiness, Ulquiorra's eyes snapped open in resolution. His plan had long been formulated, and he had waited long enough. It was time to leave.