Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, or anything associated with it whatsoever. Alas, and woe.

La Serenissima

The tower was a tremendous open space. Larger than the rising, vaulting ceilings of a gothic cathedral, larger than many of the cavernous spaces to be found in the black mirrored chambers of the earth. It gave the illusion of a genuine open field, complete with an ever-shifting recreation of the sky in robin's egg blue, dotted with patches of cottony clouds. Below the overarching sky was a carefully cultivated meadow, thick, though colorless, grass swaying softly in an artificially created breeze. Scattered among the gently rolling hills were a few flowering trees, their white blossoms opening obediently to the coaxing of the synthetic spring. The breeze picked up the snowy petals and occasional rain of pristine blossoms, swirling them through the air and sending them to flutter down to settle near the pair of figures, surrounded by a molt of downy black feathers, resting together in the façade of the peaceful outdoors of the world of the living.

Neither body stirred as the Espada and her three Fracción approached, leaving Halibel amused. She understood the practicality of recreating environments found in the living world or Soul Society for training. Exposing soldiers to the conditions they could expect to find when dispatched to other regions would minimize the time they needed to acclimate before engaging in combat.

What she was witnessing was surely an unexpected side effect. She would have never anticipated finding Ulquiorra with his guard so lowered. Given, she and Ulquiorra were not a threat to each other. The Fourth Espada was the most similar to her of all the numeros in both strength and temperament, leading to a mutual understanding between them, and neither had reason nor desire to fight the other. Ulquiorra would doubtless note her approaching reiatsu, but not consider it an observation worth stirring for, especially when his new Fracción, the recently acquired Orihime, seemed to have commandeered his right arm for use as a pillow against the grass.

"They look so serene together," Sunsun noted, tilting her head and blinking her long lashes in slight awe. "They have great trust in each other."

Her Fracción had discussed quite openly with her what they thought and hoped to see concerning Ulquiorra's acquisition of a Fracción of his own, voicing their fears as they did so. Although Halibel did not make a habit of commenting on her fellow Espada's habits, she did not hide the fact that she viewed Nnorita's harsh treatment of Tesla and Szayel's open apathy and sadism towards those he had captured and named Fracción with the greatest disdain and revulsion. Her three Fracción, each in their own way, had expressed concern as to how Ulquiorra would treat her, worrying he would be cold and callous. It was interesting to see how he exhibited tolerant and affectionate behavior reserved solely for her.

Halibel had noted upon first seeing the newly revived Arrancar that her hollow hole was in located in the same spot as the one belonging to her Espada. Perhaps this was a reflection of the special relationship the two seemed to share.

"Yeah, really," Apache agreed with Sunsun, scowling slightly in thought as she and Mila Rose leaned forward to get a better look at the Espada and Fracción apparently napping side by side. "You'd never know he's so freakin' stuck up and anal when he's awake."

"Apache," Halibel warned softly, "he is very much awake."

Her blue haired Fracción paled as Mila Rose swatted her on the back of the head with a large hand.

"Ulquiorra," the Espada began, ignoring their antics, "my Fracción and I will be training later today. Orihime is welcome to join us as you see fit."

Although he did not stir, remaining lying on his side with his chin resting on the orange hair of the head pressed against his collar bone, he did briefly raise then lower his eyebrows, indicating he had heard and understood.

"Very good." Halibel turned to exit the expansive tower, yellow hair spinning in an arc as she did so, her Fracción in tow. It satisfied her sense of right and wrong to see Ulquiorra so dedicated to his Fracción. She had been sure they would treat each other well when she had seen the new Arrancar shortly after the day's earlier meeting with Aizen-sama. Orihime had been distracted by Gin and fallen behind the exiting Ulquiorra. He had actually waited for her, reaching a hand out to holds hers, then not letting go when he had pulled her up to walk beside him.

As Apache and Mila Rose bickered with each other as their group cleared the doorway to the plain lines of the corridor, she wondered how the group of invaders who thought they were rescuing the young Fracción would react to this development.


AN: Another attempt at UlquiHime. I'm trying to work myself up to a multi-chapter piece, and am trying to improve my abilities by writing outside of my comfort zone. This my first effort regarding writing fluff with no deeper meaning or purpose.

This is way outside my comfort zone. I'm mildly ashamed of myself; this reeks of cheese. I'll see what the reading audience has to say.

This was also an exercise in writing a piece based on art. I found a beautiful fan art that was the inspiration for this piece. The link is in my profile. If I knew who the artist was, I would credit them. Anyone who knows please inform me.

Review if you like it! Or even hate it. I really need the input.