He watched her.

She sat on the couch drenched in white, staring upwards at the window; her face holding a distinctly innocent but also depressed light. At that moon, so wrong and reversed. A mocking version of what the human soul finds beautiful; a travesty in so many words. Her eyes, bright with self-conviction and that façade called love. How adorable one might find the creature, the young woman staring up with hollow adoration at the moon. It was her light of course; the only one she would find in this place.

He hovered in the doorway, watching her so quietly. Barely present, to some barely even existent. A phantom haunting a princess from afar. White skin, alabaster in the pale moonlight seemed to glow luminous in the light. But he was not a creature of her light; he was far from such. He was a monster; he was a being designed to devour and kill, to conquer. He was never created to feel for anything at all, and yet here he was. Staring after a woman who blindfolded herself with denial and false hopes.

Strands of hair, a violent shade of orange so very bright, like the setting sun. It slid slowly in front of her face, obscuring her view of the twisted moon and the black, starless sky. His fingers ached to brush it back from her view, to glide along the warm skin so lively in rose coloring. So warm, though he would only be able to assume such. He lost the opportunity so rare as she brushed it back with the lightest of feather touches, continuing her gazing at the hollow moon.

He had gazed upon that moon on occasion as well, though when he saw it, he did not see what she saw. What the princess saw in the pale moon was at least some semblance of her former domain. She saw the never-ending light of the moon as a ray of hope to cut through the never-ending blackness of the permanent night.

He saw it so much differently.

What he saw was a twisted reminder of what they were lacking in their pseudo-lives; what they weren't, what they were imitating. He eventually stopped looking at the accursed thing hanging in the sky, grinning down upon every denizen of Hueco Mundo. Beaming upon the white scar upon the pale sands of the hollow's world, the white blotch known as Las Noches. It had been borne with the arrival of a man who would be God; one who offered them power in exchange for their services as slaves of a shinigami. Slaves of three men that were what was designed to slay the hollow kind; sickly ironic it all was that it returned to this.

She moved and his attentions returned to her; long hair he longed to run his fingers through was brushed behind her back carelessly. If she could only know of the pure longing for her that another being held; a heartless, soul-devouring monster that ached for her to be his own.

But of course she wouldn't know. She was so obsessed with her knight in shining armor; an orange-headed shinigami clad in black. The princess had her heart set upon him, had her soul bared for him. The pale tear-tracked being in the doorway could scoff at her affections for the shinigami; scoff, if it was not for the fact that he wouldn't have to worry about Kurosaki Ichigo stealing this princess away from him. The lachrymose Espada wanted this maiden all for his own; his hollow being still existed, he would always wish to selectively own what he desired. It was fortunate that the man desired so little.

Only this one woman. How absurd, that Ulquiorra Schiffer would desire a woman.

She yawned, emerald eyes snapping back to her feminine form. It was impossible for him not to notice her endowments; madness not to at least partially wish that he could enjoy her body, that he could show her how very beautiful she was to him. Oh, the agony it was to even himself to watch her squander herself waiting for a man like Kurosaki Ichigo. He had watched them under Sosuke Aizen's orders even before this insane addiction to her was formed. Saw how the substitute shinigami ignored such affections that were so very obvious. It was impossible for him not to notice them; that would be pure idiocy, and the substitute shinigami had proven himself far above an idiot many times. No, Ulquiorra Schiffer saw it for what it really was.

He was ignoring her love entirely.

Letting her down in a roundabout manner, a despicable manner. To abandon the poor girl to suffer her affections every night alone, hoping and wishing and dreaming for the man she loved to simply 'notice' her. To leave her to whisper comforting words to herself, pretend that her hand is not hers and that it is Kurosaki's late at night, while tears sting at her eyes. Hoping that he will come for her heart some day, come to save her from her loneliness.

It was disgusting. Kurosaki's squandering of such true affections. And it was disgusting. Orihime's pure idolatry of her orange-haired knight, the inability to admit to herself the truth. A cold and calculating being such as Ulquiorra Schiffer found it completely useless to be so very intent upon a façade, as to ignore and deny potential happiness standing in her doorway.

She was laying down, most likely to sleep and dream of her Kurosaki. He saw her lips move, lips he imagined were of velvet and tasted sweeter than the richest of chocolates. Listened very intently, heard the words she spoke quietly.

"Please come soon, Kurosaki-kun. I need you. I…there's nobody here that cares about me. I want you, Kurosaki-kun. Please, please come save me."

The words lashed at what new emotions he had been developing because of the woman. Caused an unfamiliar sensation of betrayal, a pained anger that she did not recognize the favors that he had bestowed upon her as of recently to have her take notice of him. He had brought her sweets with her meals; gone through great pains to have chocolate brought to Hueco Mundo and even greater pains to keep the other Arrancar away from the rare delicacy, that which could be measured in gold.

And his thanks?

"No thank you."

A curt reply from her, as he had always received. She couldn't have made his assignment, his very life any more difficult than she did. Refusing to eat meals and forcing him to force-feed her, to make her hate him more. He despised force-feeding her, but would never be able to show the amount to which he was regretful. And he would leave her in tears, crying to her precious Kurosaki, her invariable God.

Sickening.

"I love you Kurosaki-kun. You, and nobody else."

Her final whispers, light as the air they float through to his ears, burn his heart with an agony Ulquiorra had never known. The chances of his affections, however meagerly he may be able to show them, being responded to positively was nearly zero. And once she found out what he had been sent to tell her? Below zero.

An article of clothing, torn and bloody, hung in his left hand. It dripped onto the white flooring now and again, an irregular rhythm to the entire process. A shredded black coat. Ulquiorra Schiffer had eaten well earlier that day.

"I love you…" Orihime Inoue murmured, her soft voice fading. It was an indicator that she was drifting off to soft, sweet dreams of her precious Kurosaki-kun. It was as happy as she would ever become, really. The princess would never be happier than when she was dreaming of being in Ichigo Kurosaki's arms, where the former substitute shinigami would softly whisper words of affection to her as he would no doubt slay Ulquiorra Schiffer, the monster that held the princess Orihime Inoue captive. In her eyes, he was the one that did all of this. He could see it in those perfect gray eyes that he so adored, see the hate and mistrust whenever she looked at him.

He would never hold the woman's heart, could never possess it. And with the black clothing in his left hand, gripped tightly as if it were an accursed thing that he could choke the life out of, Orihime Inoue would never have her prince. She would live on as a half-living soul, staring off at the moon every day and whispering words of love and adoration for her dead hero. And Aizen expected the Cuatra to tell her that Ichigo Kurosaki was dead, and that he himself was the one who killed her love? Let Ulquiorra watch his princess wither and die?

Preposterous.

Soft footfalls; the shaded figure glided across the room, making nary a sound. He approached his beloved, sleeping so peacefully on the couch. She looked so very happy, the first near-smile he had seen ever since she had arrived was gracing her lips. He wanted to be the one making her smile, to make her laugh and say those three words he ached to hear her say. Ghostly white fingers reached down, to slide down across her cheek with the softest of touches. So very warm; exactly as he had imagined. She smiled a bit more, doing the unexpected and nuzzling into his hand with her face.

"Ichigo…"

That name spoken again; the cool hand retreated from her flesh and instead returned to his side. Ulquiorra's princess would never be his own, and she would never find the happiness she so desired.

He knew what had to be done.

The phantasm once again moved for her, now moving to the couch and leaning on it to hover over the object of both his affections and desires. Her face so very close to his own; his lips hovered over hers, almost to the point which he aches for so very much. Her warm breath ghosted his cool face. She smiled and giggled a bit, and his lips stopped right above hers.

"Ichigo."

No, those lips will never be his and to claim them even once would be a farce. So instead, his lips moved to upward, past her face. He kissed her forehead, so very softly. So very gentle and tender is the touch of his lips to her flesh that she might not even know he is there.

A soft kiss to show that he loves her, that he cares.

That he has for a very long time, and that he always will.

The moment is entirely too ephemeral, and as his lips leave her soft skin he swears that he hears her say that she loves him. She never says a name, of course. But he can pretend, he can think back to the moment and imagine that it's him on her mind, that she knows how much, how very, very much he cares for her. How much he has come to love her.

The Cuatra straightened up again, and as his fingers moved against the black fabric that was once a coat belonging to a former substitute shinigami that he has killed and devoured, he took a deep breath of the air turned silvery by the moonlight.

It's very gently that he sets down the black coat material on the back of the couch, crimson staining the princess's white uniform as Kurosaki's blood drips down in a tainted rain onto her. His fingers slowly moved to grasp a white cushion for her couch, and very quickly and with much purpose does he press the cusion tightly over her face.

At first she doesn't realize what's happening; doesn't wake up. But it's when the pressure doesn't subside that she wakes up and begins to attempt screaming, kicking out at the assailant she can't see. She screams to her Kurosaki for help, she cries out to him to save her. Ulquiorra holds the pale white cushion tight over her face, giving her no chance at all to escape. To see his face as he smothers her.

Ulquiorra remained as lachrymose as he had always been during the entire ordeal, keeping the cushion over her face tightly until her flailing slows and finally ceases, her hands falling limply to the side of the couch. Fingertips so delicate and elegant gracing the cold white floors, the very tips touching a beam of moonlight cast within the room. Before he feels her life fade away, he leans down and can't help but whisper the soft words he always wished to say to her face.

"I love you, my princess."

Her heartbeat stops, he can feel her die.

Softly, he removed the cushion and tossed it aside. Her face was the opposite of what he had expected. He had anticipated her being in terror as she died, keeping that face through death. But her face is calm, for the most part. Her eyes are slightly open, enough for Ulquiorra to see her eyes holding a dim sort of sadness. He ran a hand over them, closing the lids and leaving her with a kind of serenity that made her look as inhuman, as unearthly as Ulquiorra himself.

"Goodbye, my princess."

He spoke softly, taking the black coat once belonging to her slain love and laying it as a blanket over her body. Her body was still so very warm that it was deceiving as he laid the black coat over her form like a funeral shroud, leaving her with the last remnants of her love. He couldn't bring her happiness and she couldn't be with her Kurosaki-kun, but in death he would let them be together in this small way.

He remains over her for that moment, taking in her angelic appearance one last moment. He brushes the hair out of her face, noting with some small measure of what could be considered bittersweet happiness that her hair is just as soft as he imagined.

And before he turns away from her in her beloved's shroud, to leave her in this room that she was never able to escape, he says one last message with complete, quiet sincerity.

"I am sorry that I loved you, Orihime Inoue."