Yoz, everyone! I'm back for another Grimmjow and Ulquiorra fic. This time, I was inspired to write this after reading this fic named "Shizukanaru Doukoku" on this Japanese fansite called "Yoitsuki no Uta". It's really a very nice and sweet fic, but it ended sadly. I actually emailed the webmaster of that site to ask for permission to use her idea and she has kindly agreed. I have to first clarify that the basic concept that this fic has is taken from that original one, so the time flow and the events sequence are somewhat similar. For that, you'll have to really thank the original writer, Utakata Houki-san for her efforts. The rest however, was added in by me (you'll be finding a whole hell lot of descriptions and details). Enough of my babbling, and on to the fic~
Disclaimer: No one in this fic belongs to me. The original concept and the sequence of events belong to Utakata Houki-san and the rest of the details and descriptions to me. ^^
Warnings: Major OOC-ness? Shounen-ai, Sad ending.
Special thanks to Utakata Houki-san of Yoitsuki no Uta. ほんとに有難うございました！
Oh, how he regretted it.
That day, that very day… because he lets him go… lets him goes to Aizen, because he requested, demanded for him to sort it out, to confess to their lord that they were… in love. It was his fault, his own fault. He had sent him down the spiral of no return with his own hands when he lets him go. He had pushed him into the depths of hell with his request. He regretted for not keeping him that day, regretted for making those requests, regretted for not stopping him before it was too late, and his list of recgrets continues to go on. But amongst everything on that list, there is one thing that ranked the highest on his regrets.
He regretted, for not being able to protect him.
No matter how he regretted, nothing will change. It has already been done, everything was in the past. Still, he couldn't help but regret. The fact that he could only be sitting here, watching him added to his list of regrets. He was just laying there, his body covered in rolls and rolls of endless bandages, crimson red blood that seeps through the grayish white of the fabric material, his stark pale skin losing all traces of blood and life. The erratic breathing and wheezing only serves to prove his failure.
With one hand gripped firmly but tenderly around a pale white hand, he reaches out his other hand to caress the pale white cheeks, his thumb brushing gently over the line of tear streaked marking on the other's cheeks. How he wished the other would open his eyes, his wide emerald colored orbs would softened as they landed on him, his white arms would wrap around his neck as they embraced, how the other would lightly scold him for being an idiot. Tears found themselves down his cheeks, as he closed eyes and buried his head in the crook of the other's neck. Aqua colored hair mixing with ebony tossed across the plain white bed sheets.
"Ulquiorra…" Grimmjow whispered brokenly as he cradled the smaller body to his.
And he continues to regret. If only… he thought, if only he had…
The Silent Cry
"Release me now…" came the half hearted demand from the smaller Espada, his emerald green colored eyes flicking back to look at him.
"I don't want to." Grimmjow refused, tightening his hold on the other's waist.
"Grimmjow…" the ebony-haired one pushed at his arms around his waist, but the other refused to budge. "I really have to go…" he trailed off. As much as he would have loved to stay here with him, he really needed to be going, their lord is expecting him.
"Ulquiorra," the aqua-haired Espada mumbled as he leaned his head to rest on the other's back, "You're going to Aizen's side again, right? Don't go."
"I don't want you to go. Don't go, Ulquiorra."
"You know I have to." Ulquiorra sighed.
"… let's tell him," Grimmjow huffed, obviously displeased, "Let's tell Aizen everything. I don't want you to go to him anymore."
It was a given that Aizen did not know of their relationship. After all, there was no mentioning what he will do and how he will react if he knew. Ulquiorra was not shocked to hear that from him; after all, Grimmjow did mention it once in awhile when they were stuck in this kind of similar situations. But this time, things are going in a totally different direction.
"I understand," the smaller Espada said, to which Grimmjow snapped his head up in surprise.
"I will tell him." The ebony-haired Espada twisted around to face the other, lifting one pale white hand to the other's tan cheeks.
"Are you sure?" Aqua eyes looked worriedly at him, releasing his arm around his waist and gripping the other's hand on his cheek, "I know I've been saying it for a long time but it's really stubbornness and impatience on my part. Are you sure you want to tell him? Is it really okay to tell Aizen?"
"Don't worry, it will go well." Ulquiorra assured him, "We can't stay this way forever." He leaned forwards to place a light kiss on Grimmjow's forehead, "I'll be going now."
The Cuarta Espada treaded to the door of the room. Grimmjow calling out his name just when he pulled the door open.
"Ulquiorra…!" Ulquiorra turned around at his name.
"See you in a while, Gri." He smiles; a smile so rare, so soft, gentle and full of warmth that it imprinted itself deeply into Grimmjow's heart and soul.
Grimmjow couldn't help but smiled back sheepishly at him. And then, he left, the door closing behind him. Grimmjow never would have known that it would be the very first and the last time he will see that smile.
The moment he stepped into the Hall, Ulquiorra knew that something was wrong. The normally quiet and calculative air around Aizen was gone; instead it was replaced by an air of displeasure and menace. The black haired Espada slowly and cautiously stepped inside, moving closer to where his lord was seated, right on his throne on the high step at the very front of the Hall.
"Aizen-sama," he called as he came to a stop just a short distance from the high step where the former Shinigami was on.
"Ulquiorra, you're here." Aizen acknowledged, giving him a smile.
But that smile was not normal as well, there was something hidden behind the smile, something that Ulquiorra could not name. Aizen continued to smile as he beckoned for him to come over, and when he hesitated, Aizen's smile completely vanished.
"What's wrong?" the former Shinigami asked, his eyes never leaving his Espada's form.
"… There is something I need to tell you, Aizen-sama." Ulquiorra began, but never had the chance to finish, as what Aizen said next caught him completely by surprise.
"If you are going to tell me about your relationship with Grimmjow, then I'm afraid there's no need to, seeing that I have already known." Aizen stated simply, his eyes glinting in displeasure.
Ulquiorra's large emerald eyes widened considerably in astonishment and mild disbelief. How did he know?
"…!" for the first time, the Cuarta Espada was rendered completely speechless.
"So you do admit to it," the former fifth division Captain said with a sigh, "What a disobedient child you have been, Ulquiorra." Aizen stood from his seat on his throne and slipped down the step, moving to a stop right in front of Ulquiorra. "Do you really think that I'll let you go that easily?" he asked, eyes narrowing, he towered over him with his significant bigger built and height.
"You have been a disobedient child, Ulquiorra. And disobedient children have to be punished."
It had been a day, a full whole day, and there was still no sign of Ulquiorra. It was taking too long, way too long. He shouldn't have been at Aizen's for more than a couple of hours, so where was he? Worry, anxiousness and apprehension overwhelmed him as the aqua-haired Espada finally stormed out of his room.
The very first place he went to is the Cuarta Espada's room, but it was empty. Next, he search the places where they had been to, the roof of the palace, the small tree miles outside the Las Noches dome, and the top of the lone pillar right above the dome. But he was nowhere to be found. Grimmjow continued to wander around the corridors of the palace, anxious to find him.
"Where are you?" he mumbled as he continued to pace around, "Where are you, Ulquiorra?"
In his state of anxiousness and panic, he didn't realize where he was heading until he bumped into something, or rather, someone.
"Whoa! Watch where you're going…uhm?" the person lowered his head to stare at him, "Ar? If it isn't Grimmjow?" the person spoke with a loud irritating voice.
"Um? Oh, it's just Nnoitra." Grimmjow spoke as if trying to wave the taller Espada off like a fly.
"What's with that attitude?" Nnoitra actually looked a little annoyed and bored, for a change the irritating grin and the sarcastic attitude not present, "What's the matter Grimmjow? Someone got on your nerve?" he asked when he saw the other snapping his head in all directions, as if looking for someone with an agitated frown on his face.
"No… not really," Grimmjow replied half heartedly, "Have you seen Ulquiorra?" he finally asked, hoping against hope that the loud and obnoxious Espada would have at least seen him somewhere.
"Oh? So, you're looking for Ulquiorra?"Nnoitra confirms as he waved a hand to and fro, "Nah, didn't see him at all since two days ago."
Grimmjow's hopes were instantly dashed with his reply, smothering out his only wisp of fire with an unknowing hand. He started to panic, the worry and anxiousness he had experienced all along turning to pure unadulterated fear.
Where is he? Where had Ulquiorra gone to?
In his state of panic, the aqua-haired Espada keep pacing to and fro along the width of that portion of the hallway, right in front of where Nnoitra stood. The Quinta Espada watched Sexta pace with a queer expression.
"… Are you? Where are you, Ulquiorra…?" Grimmjow mumbled it like a mantra as he continued to pace, seemingly having conveniently forgotten about the existence of Nnoitra.
"… Hey!" Nnoitra waved a hand right in front of Grimmjow's face, trying to get his attention. The Sexta Espada was acting very weird… or at least that was what it looks like to him.
But the panicking Espada did not seemed to hear him, as he suddenly snap up his head as if he had suddenly realize something, as he started rambling , "Ulquiorra would be alright. That's right! He's the Cuarta Espada after all. Yes, he might already be in his room……." And he rambled on.
Grimmjow was about to take his own words, to go to Ulquiorra's room again when a hand shot out and grab his shoulder. Surprise, but largely irritation at having his search for his most important person disrupted the aqua-haired Espada whirled around and glare at the bastard who dared to interrupt him.
Nnoitra nearly cringed when Grimmjow snarled at him, his animal instincts rising to take the better of him. Nearly, being the word, but he was still a little, just a little bit shaken at having an animal's killer instincts directed raw at him, not just any animal at that, but the king of animals.
"What?" Grimmjow growled fiercely.
"Hey… chill it, chill it," Nnoitra said, retracting his hand hurriedly and held both hands up as a sign of peace, "Don't go brooding in your own little world and listen to what people are saying. I'm only trying to help."
Grimmjow continued to glare at him.
And Nnoitra could feel sweats forming on his head and his discomfort rose rapidly.
"I don't know why you're so worried and looking for Ulquiorra. But the last I heard," the loud Espada started, "Aizen-sama asked for him. And no one has seen him come back out after that." He told him, and for the first time, dropping his voice to whisper level.
Grimmjow's aqua colored orbs widened considerably at the new information that Nnoitra had graciously provided. His mind was spinning fast. There could only be one explanation for Ulquiorra's disappearance, and Aizen most definitely have something to do with it. If the usually noisy Espada had actually been serious, having to resort to lowering his voice to whisper level just to tell him this… it must be true. Though he simply could not find a good enough reason to explain why the other would willingly want to help him. But it seems like the Quinta was not done yet.
"Oh, and by the way," Nnoitra continued, raising his voice back to his normal loudness, "I think Aizen-sama is looking for you, Sexta." Then once again he dropped his volume, "Better take chance of this opportunity, go see if Ulquiorra's there." He patted Grimmjow on the shoulder before brushing past him.
"O… Oi? " Grimmjow started, rather stunned, "Nnoitra?" he called, wanting to be sure that he did hear properly; that Nnoitra was concerned?
But the Quinta Espada simply continued walking, waving a lazy hand at him, "Hurry up and go." He told him.
Grimmjow nodded and turn to head in the direction of the Hall, stopping short for a tiny faction to mumble a near inaudible thanks. Despite the distance and the volume, Nnoitra caught it. When Grimmjow ran out of sight, the Quinta Espada turned to face the direction he had gone to.
"Don't thank me just yet, Grimmjow," Nnoitra said with a sigh, "Let's just hope it's not too late…" he trailed off as he turned and continued to his destination.
Grimmjow slammed open the doors of the Hall as he stormed inside. Aizen was seated in his throne, rising up when he saw the Sexta Espada storm in. with a flick of his hand, the door closed, and he shunpo-ed to the ground.
There is only one thing that Grimmjow want to know right now, and he wasted no time in trying to get it from him, even if he is their lord.
"Where is he?" the aqua-haired Espada hissed at his lord, "Where is Ulquiorra?" he could feel his animal instincts rise as he snarled openly.
"There's no need to panic, Grimmjow. After all, I called you here because of this," Aizen said, once again with a smile on his face, a smile that hides the menace behind, "As for Ulquiorra, isn't he right over there?"
As soon as those words left his mouth, Grimmjow instantly jerk around, Ulquiorra was standing directly in front of the door. Relief that he couldn't express in words flooded his senses. There had never been a time where he was so relieved to see the Cuarta Espada standing before him.
"Ulquiorra…" he utters, "You, idiot! Where have you been?" asked in an almost scolding tone.
The aqua-haired Espada almost ran towards the other, almost being the word, as he couldn't have taken more than a few steps when he saw Ulquiorra lunge towards him.
Only his quick reflexes saved him. He twisted to the side milliseconds before he saw a hand scrape past his right cheek, feeling the prick of having his skin sliced open. He could only stand half frozen in bewilderment when he felt more than saw, Ulquiorra brush past him. Raising a hand, he wiped it across the line of wound, feeling his blood dribbling down his cheek. Stiffly, he turned around, only to see his important person standing beside Aizen, his emerald green eyes staring unseeingly at him.
"Ul…quio…rra…?" He calls again, but the other barely even blinked.
Grimmjow felt his insides froze. There was something really wrong about the way Ulquiorra is acting, and those eyes were a dead giveaway. He wouldn't have known or seen the difference if they had continue to remain strangers, but ever since they started to get involved, little by little, he felt like he could slowly see through his mask, see through those emerald jades of wall for the emotions that are hidden behind. At the very start, there was only cold and loneliness. Slowly, the smaller Espada had started to open up to him, started to learn how to show emotions, though the latter was a privilege reserved only for him. From the slight lit up of eyes to the soft expression when he saw Grimmjow, until that smile, the only real smile he had ever seen on Ulquiorra.
But even back when they were still strangers, Ulquiorra's eyes never looked so blank and clouded.
"You bastard!" Grimmjow snarled viciously, "What did you do to him?!"
"Nothing much, I just thought I'll test out the ancient spell that I found." Aizen said nonchalantly, saying it as if it's something that is bound to happen every day.
"Testing a spell? On Ulquiorra?!" Grimmjow was completely bewildered, raising his voice almost to the point of shouting.
He didn't care that this was his lord that he was yelling yet, didn't care about what will happen to him should his lord feel insulted and he didn't care if he will be harshly punished for it. The only thing that he care about and fuelled him right now is the fact that Ulquiorra, his most important person was being used as a test subject by Aizen.
"Well, it seems like the spell is working," Aizen said, deliberately bypassing Grimmjow's bewilderment, "This is what I called you here for, Grimmjow." He addressed his Espada, "You see, this ancient spell is very special. It makes the casted obey one command from the caster. And the spell doesn't stop until the casted completes the command." He told Grimmjow.
"!!" Grimmjow couldn't even come up with words to describe his feelings. A spell to force obedience onto someone? Then, that means in layman's term, Ulquiorra is… being manipulated.
"Let's continue the testing, shall we?" the former Shinigami asked as he jumped back up to his throne. Sitting down, he gave his command, "Ulquiorra, kill Grimmjow with your sword."
Grimmjow's aqua colored eyes widened in disbelief, first at Aizen's command, then at the fact that Ulquiorra is indeed obeying the command. He watched as the delicate hand raise to the hilt of his sword, the pale white fingers closing over the hilt in a grip. He watched as the delicate hand begun to pull the sword out of its sheath. And he continues to watch until the sword is completely pulled out of its sheath, with the owner of the sword pointing the end of his Zampakutou at him, emerald colored orbs still blank and clouded.
Without any warning or words, Ulquiorra leaped at Grimmjow, swinging his sword down at him. The moment the fight started, Aizen sat back at his throne, watching the fight as if it were a movie, like a form of entertainment. Ulquiorra was on the offensive, swinging his sword at Grimmjow relentlessly. Grimmjow on the other hand, was only trying to defend against him, dodging and evading but not making any moves to strike back.
"Ulquiorra!" he calls, but the other didn't seem to even hear him.
"Ulquiorra!" again, there was no response.
"Ul!" Ulquiorra stopped abruptly.
Grimmjow felt just a little bit of assurance, that Ulquiorra had still reacted to that name, the name that only one person had had the privilege to call… himself. Aizen felt a mild annoyance when he saw Ulquiorra stopped.
"What are you doing, Ulquiorra, hurry up and finish him." The moment those words left Aizen's mouth, Ulquiorra sprung back into action.
Grimmjow did not have the chance to move before the sword slide past his shoulder, drawing blood. The Sexta Espada staggered backwards, holding a hand over his wound. It might be because of the initial shock of the wound or the blood drawn, but it made him react slower than usual and the consecutive next few strikes of the Zampakutou did not miss him. It nicked him across his arms and neck.
Grimmjow tried to calm his breathing as he looked at Ulquiorra, even after all these intense workout he didn't even break a sweat. That's why he's the Cuarta Espada, Grimmjow thought, he has always been in awe of the strength and power that small delicate body possessed. But this was no time to be thoughtful, especially when he was at the receiving end. And he barely jumped out of the way in time as Ulquiorra brought down a particularly vicious looking strike of his sword. Just when he landed some distance away, a thought nagged at him. None of the strikes that he sported now were dangerous and none of them hit any of his vitals points. And if Ulquiorra's reaction to his pet name was any indication, there seemed to be only one explanation for it. It may be an unconscious reaction seeing that he is still under that spell, but…
Ulquiorra is avoiding his vitals.
He was thankful to him for this, but, if it continues on, Ulquiorra will not be able to be released from the stupid spell binding him. There was only one way to end this, and he knew what he must do, even if it will cost him his life, he has to do it. For him, his most important person, his beloved one.
Just when Ulquiorra once again charged at him with his sword, he waited until they were too close to evade, and flung himself into the direction of the thrusting sword. There was no time for anyone to react before the edge of the thrusting sword goes through the flesh, burying into Grimmjow's abdomen. Ulquiorra's form visibly stiffened as he slowly pulled the sword out. Blood coated almost half the length of his blade, sliding down the length of the blade. Blood flowed freely from the gaping wound in Grimmjow's abdomen, and blood flew out of his mouth when he spit out the blood that gagged him. Aizen was grinning, a dark sadistic grin of satisfaction.
Grimmjow could feel his strength leaving him as he wobbly took a step forwards, reaching out his hand to grasp onto Ulquiorra's small shoulders, pulling him close as he leaned his head against the side of his face.
"Sorry, I couldn't protect you…" he whispered softly, as aqua colored eyes slowly gazing over as Grimmjow slumped heavily to the ground.
It was at this moment, that the haze lifted from Ulquiorra's emerald green orbs, the grip his hand had on his Zampakutou loosened and it dropped on the ground with a loud clang. He blinked the moment his eyes took in the reality of the scene. And then his eyes landed on Grimmjow's crumpled form lying on the ground before him. With an uncharacteristic exclamation, the ebony-haired Espada's legs give out, and he sank to the ground right beside Grimmjow.
"…G… Gri…mm…" he shook him, "Grimmjow!" a little harder this time, but there was no reaction.
And then, Ulquiorra saw the gaping wound on him. Frantically, he covered over the wound with his hands, trying to stop the flow of blood. By now, Aizen was already nowhere in sight. There wasn't anything to even prove his presence, save for the half open door.
"Gri!" he cried anxiously, "Why…?"
It was then his blood covered Zampakutou came into his sight. Ulquiorra froze, his whole body trembling as his mind worked on linking the pictures together. Blood. Blood was everywhere. Oh his sword, on the ground, on Grimmjow, and on his hands. Wide emerald eyes could only stare. His hand was covered in blood, Grimmjow's blood. And then, the faint words that Grimmjow had whispered to him at the very end suddenly rang in his ears.
"Sorry, I couldn't protect you…"
Then, he finally understood. He was the one who hurt Grimmjow. With his own hands and sword, he was the very one who brought Grimmjow to the verge of death. Everything was caused by him. He was the one who nearly killed Grimmjow.
And then, something inside him snapped. Hysteria overcame him, as Ulquiorra raised both his hands to his head. For the first time in his life, tears, real tears fell from his eyes and there was nothing he wanted to do than scream. And he did. But his mind and soul are too overtaxed with the anguish and trauma of hurting Grimmjow so much so, that his voice totally escapes him, he couldn't produce a single sound. Still, he screamed, a voiceless silent scream.
When Grimmjow recovered his consciousness, he found that he was back in his room. How he had gotten back here, he didn't know. Slowly, he propped himself up from his bed he knew he was lying on, wincing at the spikes of pain that shot through his abdomen at his movement. After some effort, he finally managed to sit up, leaning his back against the headboard of his bed.
"You bastards could have helped me instead of just sitting there." He stated, as he eyed them.
"Ho… you're awake." Nnoitra said, not using his normally irritating voice and grinning at him.
"That proves that I am still quite medically competent." Szayel added, as he held out a flask, "Drink this."
"What's that? Some kind of poison?" Grimmjow asked, eyeing the flash of liquid with distrust.
"What is that suppose to mean?" the pink-haired Espada retorted indignantly, "Don't be so ungrateful to the one who saved your life. Just drink it. It'll speed up your recovery. I won't even bother trying to save your life if I wanted to poison you." He said, pushing up his square glasses.
"Ahh… yeah, you're right." He agreed as he took the flask and drank it. It tasted plain and powdery, like flour.
Szayel raised an eyebrow as he and Nnoitra shared a look.
"You're awfully docile, for a change." The Octava Espada stated.
"Ah… Yeah, well, who wouldn't be, after waking up from a life threatening wound?" he asked, a bit dismissively, not even looking at either of them.
"Oh yeah, you would wouldn't you? Especially when that life threatening wound is made by Ulquiorra." Nnoitra added in, staring at him.
"!?" Grimmjow flinched at the mention of that name. "It wasn't… it's not… " he let out a heavy sigh, "It's not his fault." He dropped his head, "It's never his fault."
"We know." Nnoitra suddenly said, "We knew about the two of you."
Grimmjow's nearly jumped in shock, nearly, but the pain in his abdomen brought him back down on his bed, "Ho… How did you…?!"
"By observing." Szayel crossed his arms over his chest, "It took us some time, but we finally managed to figure it out. The little gestures and changes in attitudes here and there, it took time to link up your relation, since you two were quite the unobvious pair." The pink-haired Espada shrugged his shoulders.
"Not sure about the others, but the only other one whom we knew, know about this is Yammy." Nnoitra told him, even before he could open his mouth to ask.
"Oh…" was the only thing Grimmjow could come out with right now. He had never considered the possibility that there were other people who knew of their relationship.
"But I have to warn you, Grimmjow," the Quinta Espada started, "You're in deep shit."
The Sexta Espada just blinked at him, apparently not understanding him.
"What Nnoitra is saying, is that you're in a deep mess. It seems like Aizen-sama has already know about you and Ulquiorra long ago." Szayel explained.
Aizen knew? How? Even though Grimmjow didn't say anything, the expression on his face is enough to show the question.
"We were wondering that too," then the Octava saw Grimmjow's accusing eyes, "Don't look at us like that, we didn't say anything." And then he continued, "But it's true that he knows, especially if he deliberately made Ulquiorra fight you."
Silence filled the room. For a short moment, no one spoke or moved. The first one to break the silence is the owner of the room.
"How did I get here?" Grimmjow asked, changing the topic.
"Yammy found you. He was just walking past the Hall coincidentally and he saw the door half closed. He found you and Ulquiorra inside the Hall. And he delivers you directly to me." Szayel accounted the situation with those brief words.
"What about Ulquiorra? Where is he?" the Sexta asked urgently.
"He… well…" the Octava looks at the Quinta helplessly.
"Is he hurt?" Grimmjow was getting frantic.
"No, he's not hurt. So calm down, can you. You're still an invalid." Nnoitra sighed, "He's not hurt… but there is something seriously wrong with him. He doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, doesn't speak and he doesn't do anything besides obeying orders given to him. I saw him once in the corridor, and I wanted to talk to him, about you." He said, eyeing the aqua-haired Espada, "But he didn't respond when I call him, so I stopped him. He just brushed past me." Looking at Grimmjow seriously, he added, "But I saw his eyes, and they were blank, void of anything. No emotions, no expressions, no life, there was nothing in those eyes at all. It was like, he's dead."
Grimmjow could only stare as they continued telling him.
"It's the trauma of that incident." Szayel reasoned, "The weight of the guilt was so heavy that he just snapped." He gestured as he snapped his fingers, "His body is still living, but his mind and soul is numb, dead even. He blames himself for your wound. Especially since he knows he's the one who injured you."
"But I'm fine now…" Grimmjow started.
"It certainly doesn't look that way to him. Frankly, we weren't sure if you can make it in that state you were brought here. Nothing we say can help. Only you can go through him." Szayel told him.
For the next consecutive days, Grimmjow spent his time wandering around the palace, trying to catch sight of Ulquiorra. He had heard that Ulquiorra was on a mission with Yammy. But he didn't know exactly when they will be back, so he just kept repeating the same routine every day. He wants to see him, wants to touch him, and wants to hold him in his arms.
"Ul…" he whispers.
Ulquiorra was on a mission in the real world with Yammy. Right now, they were in the middle of a battle. There weren't only Shinigamis, there were also a few humans with powers to fight hollows. The humans were not even strong enough to defend themselves from them, and the Shinigamis were not particularly strong either. Though, there were two, a man dressed in mud colored hakama, a pair of wooden clogs on his feet, a striped hat on his head, and holding a cane in his hand. The other, a woman, was dressed in an orange jacket and purple tights. The level of reiatsu these two has are not normal, they were on the level of Captains in the Soul Society. Nevertheless, the two fought together with the others against the two Espadas to protect their town. Even though, the two Espada's mission this time did not require them to attack or blow up the town, just to test out their strength, in particular one of the Shinigami.
One of the lesser Shinigami with bright orange spiked hair jumped at him, swinging his cleaver like Zampakutou at Ulquiorra. This Shinigami is the one Aizen wants information on, but Ulquiorra, after watching and processing the powers he displayed with his mind concluded that he was nothing to be concerned about, but he has potential. Maybe in the further future, if he unlocks his potential, he will prove to be a force to be reckoned with. But now, he is nothing, like the others with him, with the exception of the two with Captain-class level spiritual power.
Out of nothingness, Ulquiorra suddenly found himself wondering if that orange haired Shinigami's sword were as dangerous as it look, if it will hurt when that sword cut him, if the sword is strong or sharp enough to pierce through his skin. And as soon as that thought cross his mind, he felt himself wanting to try, to test out that theory. He knew it was not a good idea, but even if it hurts, compared to the injuries and pain that Grimmjow had to bear, this is nothing. Most of all, he knew that if he recklessly tested the theory, there is a change that he might die. But that won't stop him; he already had another idea filling his mind. A perilous idea.
Dying might not be so bad after all.
As soon as that thought came into his mind, he decided. After all, he couldn't seem to be able to come up with a good enough reason as to why he should continue living.
Ulquiorra had been on the move the entire time, skillfully evading the attacks by shifting his body and moving his position. The moment he had made his decision, he had moved with efficiency, playing along with the flow, until at last, he saw his chance. Just as the orange haired Shinigami once again charged at him, the giant cleaver swinging downwards in a slashing motion, his chance came. He stood there, as still as a tree, not moving an inch, waiting for e blow. The orange haired Shinigami swinging the sword was stunned when he saw that the Arrancar he was fighting with did not move, did not dodge, it was as if he was waiting for him to finish him. The black haired Arrancar was looking at him with such hope; hurt and sadness in those emerald colored eyes that made his heart go out to him, made him feel for him, wanting to care for him. He just looked so small and frail, and for reasons that even he couldn't name, the Shinigami feel as if he should protect him. But his hand continued on its motion, his Zampakutou getting closer by the second, he knew he couldn't stop, that it was too late to stop. He wanted to change the direction of his sword, wanted to shout to the other to move… but it was too late.
The next instant, the reiatsu that he had stored in his sword for the attack is released, and the Shinigami saw it made contact across the other's chest. The blade and the spiritual energy cutting through the white clothing and deep into the pale white flesh, blood gushed out from the gaping wound, dying his white clothing a deep crimson. The red flowed continuously; splattering against the blade of the Shinigami's Zampakutou and dripped down the blade to those hands holding the hilt. As the heavy blade was pulled out, Ulquiorra could feel his own strength slipping away, as he started to collapse, his consciousness fading with his strength.
"Gri…" he whispers softly before his conscious completely fades.
The two had been fighting foots above the ground in mid air, with the ground so far from reach, that even if one were to drop in a fairly good body condition, it may also proved to be a rather fatal drop, not to mention if that person were already pretty much seriously injured and seeming to be seeking death. When the orange haired Shinigami saw him sag, he loosened his grip on his sword and rushed forward to catch the falling figure. He barely managed to hold onto the other before he had fallen, wrapping both his arms protectively around the unconscious form in an attempt to shield him from the impact as they continued to drop, even with the Shinigami's reiatsu, the gravity was too strong to completely nullify their fall. His Zampakutou that had left his hand dropped like a dead weight straight to the ground. With a loud bang, it collided with the ground, creating a huge crater centering on the sword, smoke, dust and debris flew from the impact, forcing every other protectors and the single Espada who have been in battle to raise their hands to shield themselves from the onslaught combination of smoke, dust and cement debris caused as a result of the collision as the impact swept over the area.
When the smoke started to clear, they could see a shadow walking out of the crater. It was the orange haired Shinigami, he looked to be rather banged up, but otherwise seemed to be fine and he was carrying something, no someone in his arms. Ulquiorra Schiffer, one of the Arrancar who had attacked them, the enemy of all those present, saved for the other Arrancar.
"Kurosaki!" "Ichigo!" came the shouts and exclamations directed at the orange haired Shinigami. His name? The Shinigami representative of the town, Kurosaki Ichigo.
Kurosaki Ichigo nodded at them, before coming face to face with the other Arrancar.
"Ulquiorra!" Yammy was in a panic, as he hurriedly stomped over.
In his state of panic, he nearly bowled Ichigo over and the Shinigami had to jump over his shoulders to avoid being knocked off his feet. And Yammy turned around, glaring at him fiercely.
"Hey! Don't look at me like that. It's not that I managed to wound him… er… well, I did, but…" he stammered, "It's not on purpose, okay? I thought he was going to move out of the way like he did to all my attacks, but he didn't'." Yammy's eyes widened, "I'm not sure how to say this… but he looks as if he wanted to die." he told him.
Wordlessly, the Decima Espada took his comrade from the Shinigami's arms. He walked some distance and opened the gate back to Hueco Mundo, but before he entered, he turned back.
"Kurosaki Ichigo," he said, voice booming out, "Thanks for telling me that, and for helping him."
And with that, Yammy stepped through the portal, Ulquiorra in his arms, the portal closing being them. The other protectors of the town did not chase after them. Ichigo stood staring at where the portal had been his mind still on that scene and that fragile looking Arrancar.
"Ulquiorra, is it? Don't you just go dying like that," He whispers, "I want us to meet again."
Grimmjow had been once again, wandering around the palace when he heard the news, brought to him by one of Szayel's Fraccion. He didn't even finish listening to everything that the Fraccion had to say. He had only taken in the first 2 words and the abnormal flustered expression on the Fraccion's face, then dash down the hallway in the direction of the room of the name he had heard. Those two words were: Ulquiorra is…
Even before he stepped into that room, Grimmjow had a forbidding feeling that something very grave had happened. He didn't know how right he was. Anxiously, he banged open the door of the Cuarta's room and practically charged inside. What he saw nearly made his heart stop and his legs weak, his mind went completely blank. Yes, he had finally found, finally saw him, his most important one, his beloved, Ulquiorra. He had found him all right, but what he did not expect was to see him in this condition.
He was lying still on his bed; the upper part of his clothes was left open, making the bandages beneath that are wrapped around almost the whole section of his upper body, from shoulder to waist, and the spots and pools of red that stained the bandages visible to the eyes. Ulquiorra's face was pallid; his skin was taking on a shade of ashen gray that contrasts significantly enough to his normally pale white skin. His breathing was uneven and the continuously increasing red on those white bandages tell the tale of just how serious the wound was. The image of Ulquiorra in those bloodied bandages burned painfully into his eyes, he felt as if his own heart was also bleeding. He would have fallen if a hand hadn't grab onto him just in time.
"Oi, get a hold of yourself." Nnoitra said as he dumped him onto a chair just beside the occupied bed.
If wasn't until he look up that he realized, he was not alone in there. Besides Nnoitra who had dragged him over, Szayel and Yammy were also there. But nothing matter anymore the moment he laid his eyes back on the figure lying on the bed. Shakily, he raised a hand to rest on the other's cheek, the skin felt cool, but not cold underneath his hands, which made him feel just tiniest bit of relief, and his moved his thumb to caress the skin.
"Wh… Why is he…?! How did this happen?!" Grimmjow gasped out, twisting his head in the direction of the other 3 in the room.
There was a short period of silence, no one moved and no one spoke.
"Answer me!" he demanded, almost yelling. He was close to the exploding point, very close, and he need to, needed to know everything.
Nnoitra and Szayel looked over at Yammy, and the Decima Espada breathed in deeply before he spoke.
"You're right," Yammy said, "It is only fair that you know. You have the rights to know. No, you deserved to know."
And Yammy told them, he told them everything that he had been able to see and hear. He told them about how Ulquiorra had been acting weirdly after that incident, how dead and soulless he had been. He told them about the mission, how they were engaged in a battle with the protectors of the town, how Ulquiorra was drawn off by one of the Shinigami on a solo battle. Even though he didn't know what had happen after that, but he still continued, describing to them what he had saw after that, and what the Shinigami had told him.
Nnoitra and Szayel was silent, they merely stared in unison at him, while Yammy remained silent. The person of attention, Grimmjow was staring at the Decima Espada with such disbelief that it might almost made Yammy rebuke his own words, that is if all those things he had related were all false, but it's not. It really and definitely did happen, and Yammy had seen it with his own eyes. Once again, the silent and tensed atmosphere hung over them.
"In any case, Grimmjow," Szayel broke e silence, "I already did what I could. From what Yammy had said, it seems like Ulquiorra didn't have any will to live anymore." He deduced, "A medic can only do so much. If he doesn't want to live, the wound will never recover." He told him, expression dead serious, "It's now your job to make him live, no matter the cost, don't let him die." he said in a deadly tone.
"What are you doing getting stun on the chair for?" Nnoitra said with a heavy smack to Grimmjow's shoulder, nearly making him fall off the chair, "Like Szayel said, you're responsible for our Ulquiorra-chan. And you have been ever since the moment you two started. So, save him." The normally loud Espada was unusually quite now; he even had a subdued edge to his voice.
"You guys…" Grimmjow was at a loss for words, but he could deny the odd sense of gratitude he is feeling towards them.
Yammy just nodded in agreement before he left the room, Nnoitra and Szayel following after his example. But the two stopped and turned back at the door frame.
"If anything happens to our Ulquiorra -chan, you'll wish you're gone with him,"The Quinta Espada hissed, as he then, stalked off, leaving Grimmjow to stare at his retreating back.
"That's right," he had forgotten about the other one and Grimmjow turned his attention over, "Make sure he lives, or you'll have quite a number of us after you." Szayel said, pushing his glasses up, the light from the hallway reflected on his glasses glinted off the glass, masking his eyes and at the same time.
And he too, left, leaving Grimmjow to be with Ulquiorra alone in the room; he was even considerate enough to close the door for them. It was then that he finally realize, understood the reasons, or rather what he guess was the reason for them to help him. One name, one person, Ulquiorra Schiffer. Even he didn't know why, but from the very first time he saw him, there was a feeling that made him want to protect, shield the other. It might be because of his small and delicate figure, it might be the over-protective instinct in bigger animals or humans to protect younger and smaller things, it might also because the other always had a sad and melancholy look on his face. In any case, he could see that he was not the only one being influenced. Nnoitra and Szayel both seemed to have a soft spot for Ulquiorra, and Yammy, being Yammy had been rather attached to Ulquiorra since day one.
Grimmjow shifted the chair closer to the bed, he half leaned against the bed as he held up one of Ulquiorra's hand in his, resting his head on his hands in a praying like position.
"Ul… wake up…"
For the next few days, he remained by Ulquiorra's side, never leaving him out of his sight. But the Cuarta Espada did not seem to be getting any better, and if possible, had looked to be in an even worse condition. It was as if Ulquiorra was deteriorating at a rather steady pace. Grimmjow started to panic when he heard wheezing and felt Ulquiorra's fingers jerk. There had been a few times in the last few days that Ulquiorra seemed to be conscious, but those are all false alarms. Though, this time, it does look to be real.
"Ul?" the aqua-haired Espada was excited, it had been days since he hears his voice.
"… G…ri… " the voice sounds so broken and soulful that Grimmjow gripped on his hand tighter, as if wanting to assure him.
"Ul? Ul, I'm here!" But Ulquiora didn't seem to hear him.
"… Gri… I… so…rry…" Ulquiorra's voice was almost inaudible.
It was then that Grimmjow finally understood. Ulquiorra hadn't been completely conscious. And then he realized, how much his own injuries had affected, had hurt Ulquiorra. Even in his subconscious, even when he is not fully aware, Ulquiorra was still blaming himself on Grimmjow's injury. And it was because of this, because he knew that he had hurt Grimmjow physically almost to the point of death, that he thinks himself not worthy of living any longer.
Grimmjow felt his heart break when he heard that. He had never blamed anyone else for his injury, least of all, Ulquiorra. He had willingly taken the injury, as long as it means that Ulquiorra will be released from the spell. He didn't think that things would reach this state. It had never been Ulquiorra's fault, won't ever be. It was his fault, and only his, that lead them to this situation. There was no one else to blame but himself.
He stood up from the chair and climbed onto the bed, sitting directly beside Ulquiorra and lightly, gently pulled the other's body up into a tight embrace, taking care to avoid jostling any of those wounds.
"Sorry…" he whispered as he raised a hand to the other's cheek, the other arm supporting the body and keeping it close to him, "I'm so sorry, Ul… you were suffering so much and I…" he trailed off, feeling his vision blur, "I couldn't do anything…!" he gasped.
Squeezing his eyes close, he buried his head in the crook of Ulquiorra's neck, hugging his body gently but tightly close to his own. He starts to regret. He regrets his childish demand to tell Aizen, he regrets letting him leave, and most of all, he regrets not being able to protect him. For the next few days, even as he stayed vigilant by Ulquiorra's side, he continues to regret. Until this very moment, where he finally saw, realized there is one thing he could do, or rather, the only thing he can do, for Ulquiorra, even if it was done at his own expense. And he did, seeking for the only person he knew who could help him.
Szayel was busy checking his experiments when the door to his room slammed open, and then close behind him. The pink-haired Espada sighed as he turned around to face Grimmjow, whom he recognized just by the other's reiatsu even before he entered his room. And he was quite taken aback by how the other looked right now. It was like he had aged over the last few days, his hair was a mess, not in its usual style, he looked haggard, and his eyes were a little bloodshot, as if he hadn't slept in days… and he probably really didn't, Szayel mused.
"Why are you here? What about Ulquiorra?" the Octava Espada asked, sounding the least bit annoyed at having his work interrupted, even though, he could guess pretty well, that there was only one reason to Grimmjow's appearance here .
"I need your help, Szayel," the Sexta answered, confirming Szayel's guess
And Szayel felt his eyebrows raised as Grimmjow told him his plan. He could help, he knew. In fact, Szayel had the exact item that could produce the result that he wanted.
"Are you sure?" Szayel asked again, he did not want him to regret.
"Aah…" Grimmjow confirmed, "If it can save him, erase his suffering, I am." He saw the skeptical look on the other's face, "Don't worry, I already have too much regrets."
Szayel had thought of retorting, him, worrying? About Grimmjow? But the said Espada was already out of his room, the door just closing after him. The pink-haired Espada sighed again as he stare at his closed door.
"It may erase Ulquiorra's suffering, but what about yours, Grimmjow?" he said, to no one in particular, "I never thought you to be so noble, but well, you proved me wrong." Szayel grinned as he continued on with his experiments, making a mental note to inform Nnoitra about it after he was done with his experiments.
Grimmjow was back in Ulquiorra's room, sitting on the side of the bed, stroking the other's ebony hair with one hand, the item he had gotten from Szayel clutched in the other. Taking a deep breath and preparing himself mentally at the same time, the aqua-haired Espada hovered over Ulquiorra, his head crouch over to study his face, committing all details and features of this precious one into his memory. Pressing his lips on his forehead in a soft kiss, he moved his arm to surround Ulquiorra's head protectively as he leaned down, touching the other's forehead with his.
"Hey, Ul…" he murmured softly, his eyes closed, "It'll be alright. I'll protect you." Aqua colored eyes uncovered, "You won't have to suffer, won't feel hurt anymore." He continued, he could feel his eyes getting watery as his vision started to blur, "I'll protect you, even if you won't remember me when you wake up."
Grimmjow sat up as he brought up the item that Szayel had passed him. It was a potion of sorts, one that can erase the drinker's memories, for this particular vial, Szayel had adjusted it to suit Grimmjow's request: To only remove all traces of 'Grimmjow' from Ulquiorra's memories.
As Grimmjow uncorked the vial and brought it close to Ulquiorra's lips, he noticed, a tear making it way from the corner of the unconscious Espada's eyes, sliding down his cheek. And he raised a hand to rub off the tear track, blinking back the tears that threatened to form.
"So you can already guess what I'm going to do, right, Ul?" He tried to make his tone light, tried to make himself feel insulted, but it failed, terribly, "You could always guess what I'm thinking. I can never lie to you. After drinking this, you won't have to worry anymore. You will be able to continue living your life." He bit back his pain, not wanting to show how much it had affected him to do this, but he knew deep inside, that Ulquiorra knew. "I'm not sure if you'll forgive me for doing this. But I have to. I don't want to see you suffer any longer. I'm sorry Ul…" he trailed off.
As if in response to Grimmjow's words, more tears fell from Ulquiorra's closed eyes, and he knew, Grimmjow knew that he had understood him, understood his intentions. Raising the vial, he fed him the potion, fighting back his urge to not do it at the same time, coaxing Ulquiorra to swallow it. It didn't take long for the small vial of potion to be emptied, and Grimmjow feel like breaking down, but he didn't. He didn't want to break down in Ulquiorra's presence. He wanted to say a proper parting with him, even if it is forever.
Bending down, Grimmjow covered Ulquiorra's almost colorless lips with his own, pulling the latter's limp body into a tight embrace. Their last kiss, their last embrace. He wanted to memorize Ulquiorra's warmth, his temperature, his scent. Too short a moment later, Grimmjow lowered Ulquiorra back onto the bed, sweeping stray ebony bangs from his face.
"I guess this is it," he murmured softly, his voice nearly breaking, "Goodbye, Ul…"
With his last words, the aqua-haired Espada left the room, closing the door softly behind him. The moment the door to the Cuarta's room closed with a click, Grimmjow's façade immediately broke into pieces. He leaned back against the door, sliding down into a sitting position on the ground, choking sobs wrecked his body as his shoulders shudder and shook, whispering his beloved's name brokenly. He pulled his knees to his chest as he buried his head against them, wrapping his arms around himself.
Ichimaru Gin, one of the ex-Shinigami Captains of Seireitei in Soul Society watched from around the corner of the hallway. He too, had known about the relation between the Sexta and Cuarta. In fact, he had known long before anyone else, but he had said nothing. The silver haired former Shinigami had actually thought them to be rather sweet together. But there was no more 'them' any longer. Aizen had taken care of it. He sighed as he turned and left. Why does Aizen always have to be so cruel?
Nnoitra and Szayel had found Grimmjow in that position outside Ulquiorra's room. The Octava Espada had went looking for Nnoitra and told him about Grimmjow's intention. The two stood beside him, watching him with sympathizing eyes.
"Hey.. Cheer up," Nnoitra started, "Think of it in a good way, at least Aizen-sama can't use you against each other anymore. And Ulquiorra-chan will heal."
"Grimmjow…" Szayel wasn't too sure what else he could say.
"I know you're trying to make me feel better." Grimmjow finally spoke after a while, "I'm fine, really." He stood up, a bit wobbly on his feet, "I can't look out for him anymore. He won't remember me when he wakes up." He turned his back on them, "Help me to look out for him, will you?" he requests, and without waiting for an answer, he left, walking back to his room with unsteady steps.
Nnoitra and Szayel watched him go.
"Yeah… we will."
"Just take care of yourself."
Nnoitra and Szayel said at the same time, not even sure if Grimmjow even heard them.
Ulquiorra indeed recovered. His wounds healed and he can even resume his original duties just a few days after. The only difference is that, there was no more 'Grimmjow' in his life, before or after his injury.
Grimmjow had one walked past Ulquiorra one day, but the latter hadn't even cast him a single glance as he walked past him. They are back to the start, back to being strangers. He felt the hurt, the pain, but there was nothing he could do about it. This was the price he has to pay for making Ulquiorra live. There was one relief though, true to their words both Nnoitra and Szayel had been looking out for Ulquiorra, taking his place as Ulquiorra's protector. While he, Grimmjow could only watch from afar. Because the person known as 'Grimmjow' no longer exist in Ulquiorra's world.
Almost every night after that, Grimmjow would visit all those places where he and Ulquiorra had shared precious memories, memories that only he remembered now. He would reminiscence over those fond memories every day. He was the one who made himself suffer like this. He could have just taken the same potion that he gave to Ulquiorra. But he didn't want to; he didn't want to forget, even if Ulquiorra didn't remember him, even if it means he was the one to suffer. And there wasn't anything he could do to ease his own suffering, so he did the only thing he could, he howled, every night. His howl of anguish and sorrow echoing throughout the desert.
And so he regrets, and he continues to regret. If only… he thought, if only he had…
A/N: That was the end! How was it? It's a sad ending… but well, I have long since been itching to write a sequel to this the moment I started this fic. Anyone wanna contribute more ideas to me? If I have enough ideas I might really work out the sequel enough to really write it! All comments, reviews and suggestions are welcome! Last but not least, thank you!