The chains that bind me to you speak of change. They wrap me up in cold steel, astounding me, suffocating the life I once lived. I am to become one of yours through your strong hold, your caressing hand the only thing that pulls me through. You remind me with your soft touch and your delicate ensemble that I do have a soul – I will prove it to you and you alone. I do not wish for the world to know my weakness.

Day One

Chapter One: Release

The rules for them were simple: Obey your captain, become a member of the Soul Society and you will live. Defy those around you and try to return to your past, and you will be destroyed. There are no exceptions. You will receive no warnings. One breaking of the rules and you will meet your fate. One single mistake and you will drown in it slowly as your final hours slip through you. Follow rules, obey those around you, become – You will live.

Soi Fon mumbled to herself lightly, her fists clenching and unclenching in annoyed dispute. Why were they allowing the espada to live? They deserved nothing but death. They had caused so much bloodshed. Why do they deserve to live? What about our fallen soldiers?

She was one of the lucky ones who were to train one of the remaining Espada. She was left with Ulquiorra Schiffer – Who she remembered simply from a short profile as being one of the higher ranked ones, one of the stronger, and one of the ones who she suspected had killed more than his life was worth.

"This is such a waste," she mumbled as she carefully slid the door open, though her frustration made her want to release her anger on the unsuspecting door, she told herself it would set a bad image of weakness to him. She didn't know when it was too soon, or too late to let him out. Her orders were simply to alter him from Espada to a trustworthy member of the Soul Society, not to be his best friend or treat him with condolences. She checked her weapon at her side before stepping through the door. She wouldn't ever trust him, no matter how hard he tried to pretend he was safe. This was a stupid assignment. One without a soul couldn't be trusted.

She stepped in front of his cell, unworthy cyan eyes greeting her with narrow deception. She narrowed her own, dancing with rage and pain for what he had caused. Twisted fury was rising in her, meeting eyes with a killer of her own, knowing she was going to be living with him and teaching him for a long while to come. She wanted to kill him. Would they notice if she did? This was merely a test for her self-control, she decided.

"It has been decided that you will become part of the Soul Society's 2nd Division until you are fully adapted and can be presented as reliable and worthy," she gave him direct eye contact with a sophisticated presentation of her words. Steady, calm, yet determined and meaningful. She wanted to smirk at the next line, it was her favorite, "If you try to defy me, any other member of my squad, or anyone else in the Soul Society, you will face execution. Do you understand your orders?"

He continued his solemn stare, before he decided to question their actions rather than go through with it on impulse. Being out of bars wasn't freedom.

"What do you hope to gain from me?"

"To recruit you as one of ours. Don't think that you will ever have eyes off of you, even when you have passed," she added that quick note in. Just because they played along and pretended as though they were reliable, didn't mean they were free to roam about the Soul Society, waiting for the perfect opportunity to cause havoc.

He stared at her again, thinking over her words carefully. He began to explore the idea of being destroyed, but he was never going to give in so easily. He also did not intend to follow another Shinigami, especially when she had nothing to offer him. After the last failed effort when following a Shinigami, he wanted nothing more than to be alone to carry out his destiny.

"No answer?" she asked, annoyed by his stubborn withdrawal. There was still no response, only his impending stare shook her. She quivered with anger at him. Why was she stuck with the quiet one? The worst one? The most murderous.

She retreated to the door. She hoped he could not sense her frustration, but she needed to get away from him. It made no sense to her why he so easily tore her down with only his eyes. The fresh air of her barracks relaxed her tensed body, though her knuckles were still white with rage. She would give him another try tomorrow, but she certainly wasn't releasing him if he was already refusing to give her an answer.

"This is ridiculous," she muttered as she walked through the door to her barracks, heading towards her room where she could relax without interruption.

Ulquiorra was trying to justify a reason for them wanting him. He gently allowed his eyes to slip into darkness. Maybe next time he would be up to obeying her, or maybe he would rather rest here and sound out an escape plan. He would make them realize they should have killed him. I can handle it until they trust me enough to show their backs.

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"Captain, you have a visitor," one of her subordinates stood outside her door with content eyes. She stopped, forgetting the Espada for a moment. Why did he allow someone to enter without her permission?

"She just walked in… I," he began, his content eyes turning to panic. She pushed past him to see who her forceful intruder was.

Her eyes widened with surprise when she saw the dark, slender form of her past commander. Her eyes traced her form from her long legs up to the amethyst hair framing her golden eyes, giving her face a vibrant glow. The orange of her suit reflected brightly against the rather drone colors of the Soul Society.

"Yoruichi," she muttered in shock. The grin on her distant friend's lips grew at her shock.

"So shocked to see me? Did you think I wouldn't come when I heard about your special project?" She said with a confident tone.

"No… I mean, I didn't think you'd, well," she flushed in embarrassment at almost saying, "I didn't think you'd care." – "I just thought you had a busy schedule."

"Running a no name shop with Kisuke?" She laughed, "I find troubled Espada more worth my time," her playful smile irked Soi Fon from her humiliated state.

"Of course you would."

"I heard you got a higher up," she began, her interest immediately drifting towards Ulquiorra, rather than greeting, "And that I've seen him before." She leaned up against the wall, folding her arms across her chest. Her eyes were dancing with excitement as she waited for Soi Fon to give her all the details.

"Yes, he was one of the two that was present in the first invasion," she began, but would have rather talked about Yoruichi; she would have rather talked about their lives than to talk about him – why was she so interested in a murderer? "And he is one of the higher levels, but…"

"Well?"

"Oh, of course," she gave in without further conversation. Later she will realize he is a monster and does not deserve her attention.

She allowed Yoruichi to take the lead, since she knew exactly where she was going. It felt like the old days for a moment, following behind her with envy and desire – following behind her Goddess. She paced behind her until they reached the prison door. Of course, Yoruichi wasn't the same person she was before. She didn't have the keys, she didn't have the same power around here… but she was definitely still more powerful than she could imagine. Having something Yoruichi didn't have, it didn't feel right. She opened the door, but once again took place behind her as she walked in the door. She noted carefully, you will always be my leader. Here's the monster you've been waiting for.

Yoruichi's stride stayed intact as she passed through the door into the dimly lit holding cells. His spiritual pressure was faint, but she recognized it quickly. Their eyes connected in remembrance, she didn't notice his lean figure relaxing against the cold, stark wall, she didn't notice the blood and destruction in his past like Soi Fon seemed to – she just connected with him. She remembered the same feeling when he had flashed a small grin the first time they saw each other. Was she here because she wanted to help Soi Fon, or had his presence unknowingly pulled her there?

"I haven't gotten him to say anything yet, important anyway," Soi Fon was uneasy with the odd air linking the two of them. She was just as silent as he was, as though they were speaking with their eyes alone. "This whole idea is absurd. I don't understand how anyone could imagine finding trust in someone like him," the anger in the end of the sentence was more towards herself, than for Yoruichi to hear.

"I'd like to think we're civilized enough to give him a chance. Even Aizen gave one of ours a chance when he had her."

"No one of Aizen's deserves a chance though. Even Aizen had more of a soul than them," she said with distaste in her tone.

Yoruichi continued to look at him, though right now would have been the perfect time to scold her for giving up on an assignment so early. Can you be trusted? She seemed to play back the question to him, and he realized what was reflecting off her eyes.

Never. He thought to himself, studying her boldness, her capacity to handle his cold features when the other woman simply hated him. This one was different. Yoruichi…

"You haven't given up on your assignment, have you Soi Fon?" she asked her, spinning away from his unreadable expressions to see a more familiar, easy face.

"Of course not. I just don't want to bear the burden of housing someone who has killed so many of our own."

"I understand your reasoning," she softened her eyes, her arms still folded tightly across her chest clenched tighter as she realized the pain in the air around here. Who had decided to spare their lives? Don't make me sorry for standing for you. She silently wrote that message in her mind, knowing she would get an opportunity later to speak with him.

"Thank you," she said, loosening up a little herself, though she didn't want to show softness around the enemy. Would it matter? His eyes were certainly still attentive to Yoruichi. She glowered at him, and Yoruichi didn't misread her motives. Yoruichi turned to look at him, then back at Soi Fon. She grinned, "Are you two all ready arguing? I thought he said nothing?"

"He hasn't said anything important."

"I see. You're not afraid of him, are you, Soi Fon?"

"Yoruichi!" she gasped. Why would she propose fright while standing before the enemy? "Of course not," she closed in a bold tone.

"Then why haven't you let him out?"

"I didn't feel the need to rush into it. He's lucky he's coming out at all," she spoke innocently, but the frail line between hate and control was crippling in the silent room.

"I'll let him out if you don't," she taunted, noticing the irritated disappointment scrape across Soi Fon's face at the fact that she was so willing to release him into their world.

"Here," Soi Fon handed her the key delicately, handing away the free time they would spend together. So much for Yoruichi's visit. The rest of it, they would have an Espada shadowing them; it certainly would not feel like old times with him looming in their presence.

Yoruichi turned back to face Ulquiorra, and their gazes met on impulse, again. They focused on each other for a moment, both of them holding the same question in their eyes – Who are you?

She unlocked the cell without hesitation, and his eyes broke away at the creaking sound of his freedom. She stepped to the side, as though politely inviting him inside. As soon as he stepped out, he would be hers, and Soi Fons. He would become part of their world, and walk with the pride of being a part of the Soul Society. She was inviting him inside with a smile teasing the corners of her lips, wanting him to accept her invitation. Reluctantly, without a choice, he stepped forward with uncertain agreement to her silent demands. He was to be submissive, to be under control of lesser beings – This was not his destiny.

Yet, as he walked past her, he could not help but to delay his footing to stand beside her for a moment, to feel her beside him, trying to pry open some memory of her he was certain he had. He moved on after only a short moment, but the other two noticed it as well. Soi Fon looked at Yoruichi for an answer, but she only gave her eye contact, as if to say she would explain it later. Soi Fon stepped in front of him as if claiming some hierarchy.

"I'm not sure where we're keeping you yet, I will have to speak with…"

"He can stay with me," Yoruichi offered effortlessly.

"What? No, we can let him stay with my Lieutenant," she declined her offer, more for her own sake, and for the comfort she thought she was providing Yoruichi.

"I have my reasons, Soi Fon. He'll be fine with me."

"I know you can handle him, Yoruichi… but you don't need to take the burden."

"He's staying with me, if I decide I don't like his presence, I'll drop him off elsewhere," she decided, adding the last bit in for Soi Fon's sake.

"Fine," she narrowed her eyes on him before turning to lead them out, "He can always come back to his cell, too."

"I don't recall that being part of the objective. If he causes that big of a problem, I recall his destruction being part of the deal," she put back on a more sophisticated act, realizing her and Soi Fon were acting too lax around him.

"It is," Soi Fon replied with regard to Yoruichi's odd relationship to him, trying to cover her happiness that Yoruichi had realized he could face death.

"Do you plan to work with him today?" Yoruichi asked, staring at the sun speckling the earth with shards of pinks and purples through the clouds. Already so late. It seemed as though she had just gotten there. Fresh air breezed in around them. He had to of enjoyed the fresh air outside of the stark holding cell, even if he was a monster, he was much too elegant to enjoy anything less than this sort of luxury.

"No. Will you be retiring so early?" She asked, disappointed she would have to watch the Goddess walk away with the Dark Prince so quickly.

"Yes, but, you're welcome to join us if you'd like. I'd like to sit down and talk with him," her eyes looked humored as she stared across at him, Soi Fon separating the two of them, "If he will speak."

"I think I'll go finish up elsewhere," she replied soundly, though a distant longing wanted her to agree to the offer.

"See you tomorrow then," she brushed her hand on Soi Fon's shoulder as she passed by to trade off and have Ulquiorra by her side instead.

"Good night," she softly replied, and refused to look behind her to see them walk off together. Whether it was jealousy or not, she didn't want to think of two total opposite beauties reminiscing in their history – whatever that was. She could see they knew each other, but it seemed more than from just one confrontation. She tried to brush it off, but the thought of her previous commander spending a night with him, no matter the distance between them, irked her.

Yoruichi glided along the stone walkways separating areas of the 2nd Divisions barracks. Her room was set off to the side, a supposed guest area, but it seemed as though they had provided her with all the luxuries she once received. Thank you, Soi Fon. She thought to herself as she glanced around the heavily luxuriated room. Two beds were spread on opposite sides of the room, had her people moved in that quickly to toss the extra in there? Maybe so, since she had taken a detour to allow him to see the more beautiful landscapes within the area. He remained quiet, as she had assumed he would, and even though they were passing by areas she once raveled in, he was content on keeping his eyes focused upward towards the color fading sky. She had glanced at him several times, and he seemed to be ignoring her presence, though she figured she was on his mind.

He followed into the room, and stood in the doorway beside her, neither of them sure where to go now. Should they sit down and talk? Lie down and rest? She heard the footsteps of guards outside the doors. Did they think she couldn't handle him? She stared down at the bracelet around his wrist, and gently pulled it up.

"Restraints? So that must be why you haven't killed me yet," she muttered. She thought it was a silly precaution. Then again, he could kill a few people before being caught, so it might be for the better for those of lower rankings.

"Why do you trust me?" he asked solemnly, her warm skin against his cool wrist sent him into a frenzy for something to distract him.

"I don't. But I believe someday I can," she said, setting his hand back down. She noticed him pull it into his side as though to warn her, "Maybe someday you will trust me too," she added with a sigh.

She crossed the room to make the first move, sitting on the bed she presumed was meant to be hers since it was surrounded by everything else. His was on the dull side of the room. Even she wasn't ready to give up her luxuries for him.

"So what did you do to Soi Fon earlier to make her so angry?" She asked with humor lacing her words.

He glanced over at her, and followed her pattern by sitting on his bed opposite hers, leaning lightly against the wall for support. "I didn't do anything."

"You did something. She doesn't get that angry for no reason. I saw the bickering in her eyes."

He shook his head, "She doesn't like my history," he half lied. He realized the jealousy raging in the other woman by his eyes being on Yoruichi. Maybe he would use that later to taunt her more. He didn't want to get caught by Yoruichi though.

"No one does," she agreed solemnly, "But I tend to drop the past as best I can. You can prove her wrong; show her that past matters mean nothing."

"If that's what you want," he replied with a desolate tone. He wanted to turn on both of them. The second they let their eyes fall away from him, he would turn to his usual self. He would drop the silly brawl between him and Soi Fon; he would drop the odd relationship between him and Yoruichi. They were no match for his inner monster. He was never meant to be civilized like them.

"I would like nothing more," she said softly, as she found herself falling into her bed. She trusted that with his weakened state, even if he tried to kill her in her sleep, he wouldn't go far with it. The plush of her bed and the sheets loosely wrapping around her made her quickly forget about any worry of him. Her eyes closed shut. She was part of the Soul Society again, too. She had once been separate from it, just as he was. She didn't fall asleep just yet, she waited to hear him lie down, though that never came.

He stared absently in her direction. She already had her back turned to him. Would the others fall so easily into his grasp?

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Yeah, this is the last new story for a while, I promise! It just came to my mind, and I couldn't ignore my muse when it was nagging me. Anyway, I have four active stories to keep my muse occupied now… so hopefully I won't get any more crazy ideas for fanfics. Oh, and I'd like to thank my wonderful friend for coming up with a title for me. ILU! As with all new stories, I'd like to know if I'm being OOC or not… especially since I have never written with Soi Fon before... ^.^ Comments & Critiques are appreciated. Thanks much for reading =D

-Nickel