Grimmjow leaned his head back and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to calm his nerves. He was sitting on the roof of one of the Karakura Town residents' house. He slowly let the breath that he had been holding in out and opened his sapphire eyes once more.
He always came here to Karakura Town when things became too much for him to handle in Las Noches. There was just too many memories. Far too many memories of a certain emerald eyed arrancar. Too many memories of his touch. Too many memories of stolen kisses in the hallways. Too many memories of him.
I could only watch as the one person that I ever cared for slowly turned into ashes while that damned shinigami Ichigo Kurosaki and that Inoue bitch just stood there . He turned to look at me with that stoic expression that I knew so well. But his emerald orbs told me something else. His eyes were apologetic, begging for my forgiveness, full of sadness. Then he was gone. His ashes blown away by the wind.
He did not need to apologize. I did not blame him for what had happened.
I scrambled up to catch some of his ashes, but they slid out of my fingers. Every evidence of his existence was gone.
I had to restrain a strangled sob.
Why did you have to go?
It had been over a year since Ulquiorra Schiffer's death, but Grimmjow remembered it as clear as day.
Ever since that incident, a lot of things had happened. Aizen, Ichimaru, Tousen and the top three Espada had withdrawn from the fake Karakura Town. They were able to save everyone except for three Espadas; namely Ulquiorra, Zommari and Aaroniero. Now there was only seven of them left. Grimmjow did not know how Aizen had managed to pull it off, but he had set up an impenetrable barrier all around Las Noches so that the shinigami of Soul Society would not be able to break in. However, just because they had withdrawn from battle, it did not mean that the war was over. Far from it. Aizen was just biding his time to build his army again for the last battle with Soul Society. They were basically back to where they had begun with Aizen sending random newly born arrancars to create chaos at Karakura Town for his entertainment.
Grimmjow clenched his fists.
He knew that he had asked this question so many times, but… Why did Ulquiorra, of all people, have to go?
My eyes full of tears, my body shaking, I turned to face that idiot Vaizard. Even in my weak condition, what with the wounds that Kurosaki and Nnoitra had inflicted on me earlier, I forced myself to move. Each step I took was torturous, my blood dripping to the ground, but I pressed on anyway. The orange haired boy just watched me, alarmed. Alarmed to see me crying? Alarmed to see his dying enemy forcing himself to walk? Alarmed to see how pathetic I looked?
How would I know?
"Grimmjow! You shouldn't be moving! You will die that way!" he shouted.
I ignored him. Why should he care anyways?
When I was a few feet away from the young Vaizard, I stood on wobbly legs, my head dizzy from blood loss and my body unable to move forward anymore no matter how much I commanded it to.
Then I said the words that I had been wanting to say. "You killed him," I said quietly, my hands balled up into fists.
"…" He just looked at me through his brown eyes, silent. I felt like scratching his eyeballs out. Then he said, "Maybe…" he stopped, then said lamely, "Maybe he went off to regenerate himself somewhere…?"
I wanted him to burn alive at that spot.
"YOU KILLED HIM!" I screamed, unable to contain myself. This act only served to make me choke out blood from my mouth. "You… you killed Ulquiorra," I finished softly. My tears were flowing freely from my face.
Ulquiorra was gone.
My body was shaking. I glared at Kurosaki with hate filled eyes.
Was it possible that what Kurosaki said was true? I knew that Ulquiorra possessed regenerative abilities.
But it did not matter.
Because I swore to protect him. To kill anyone who dared to lay a finger on him. I roared, and with my remaining energy, I lunged forward towards Kurosaki, my teeth bared, my zanpaktou unsheathed and ready for battle.
It was time to finish the job that I had set out to do; to kill Ichigo Kurosaki.
Grimmjow had not even been able to kill Ichigo Kurosaki. The one who had caused Ulquiorra's demise. The orange haired Vaizard had simply avoided each of Grimmjow's attacks until Grimmjow finally collapsed from blood loss. Worst of all, the Vaizard had even made that Inoue bitch heal him. Grimmjow hated Ichigo. He hated the teen for killing the one person that he loved. He hated him for sparing his life. But most of all, he hated himself. He had not been able to protect Ulquiorra.
He had failed Ulquiorra.
Every time he walked through the halls in Las Noches, he could not help but to remember every single moment that he had spent with the emerald eyed arrancar. They used to always spend time together. He had grown so used to seeing Ulquiorra every day. But now, there was no one to kiss. No one to hold. No one to care for. No one to tell that he loved him. No Ulquiorra. Grimmjow knew that his comrades watched him. They knew of what he was going through. And he knew of what they must have thought of him. That he had gone soft. So he would often act like Ulquiorra's absence did not bother him, but who was he kidding?
He missed Ulquiorra.
He knew it. And his comrades knew it.
He had tried moving on, but it was just so hard.
How do you let go of the one you had given your heart to?
Moisture gathered in Grimmjow's sapphire eyes but he did not do anything about it. He allowed the tears to flow down his face freely. There was no one here to judge him like in Las Noches.
A dark haired girl knocked on the door of the Lieutenant of the 9th division's room. She bit her bottom lip. To be honest, she did not really want to talk to the man. He was cold, stoic and hardly ever spoke. Not that she did not like him, but he scared her somehow. He was an intimidating figure and she did not know much about him except that he was exceptionally powerful. She respected yet feared him at the same time. When she did not receive any answer, Momo Hinamori knocked on the door once more.
"Lieutenant Schiffer," she said timidly.
There was a pause and then came the voice of the Lieutenant of the 9th division. "Come in."
Hinamori stepped in and caught sight of the pale Lieutenant. He had his back turned on her. He was half dressed it seemed. He had his hakama on and he was now pulling his sleeves on. Hinamori blushed when she saw the back of the man's toned body, leaving her speechless. Pulling the last sleeve on and tying the sash of his hakama to secure his top and hakama, the man turned around to face her.
The dark haired girl's breath got caught in her throat. The man had porcelain skin, and short, messy raven hair. The most noticeable thing about the man was that he had the greenest eyes that she had ever seen. They were the colour of emerald and were large and full of intelligence. Bright. Calculating. The Lieutenant's doll-like face was emotionless and he raised an eyebrow when Hinamori did not speak.
"Well? You have something to tell me?" he said, pulling Hinamori out of her thoughts.
She flushed, totally embarrassed at being caught staring. "Yes, Ulquiorra!" Realizing what she had just said, she gasped, covering her mouth. "I mean, Lieutenant Schiffer! I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" Hinamori held her arms in front of her face.
The man named Ulquiorra Schiffer sighed. Honestly. He did not know why some people feared him so much. It was certainly irritating. He swore, some of the shinigami here seemed to be keeping some sort of secret from him. He could tell by the way they would look at him shiftily and speak in hushed voices whenever the topic of arrancars came about. Especially arrancars that were a part of a group called the Espada. What secret, though, he did not know. He just knew that it probably had to do with arrancars.
What arrancars had to do with him though, was beyond him.
Ulquiorra always acted indifferent whenever this happened, but somewhere deep inside of him, he wanted to know. He wanted to know. He wanted to know everything.
"It's okay," Ulquiorra said brusquely. "Now, what did you want to talk to me about?"
The dark haired girl lowered her arms and looked at Ulquiorra, grateful that he did not decide to whack her upside the head like she had expected.
"Well," she said timidly. "Captain Yamamoto wants to see you in his office."
"I see." Ulquiorra thought for a moment. "I'll be there right away." He turned his back on her to straighten out his black shinigami robes. "Thank you for informing me, Lieutenant Hinamori. You may leave."
And with that, Hinamori stepped out of Ulquiorra's room.
Ulquiorra waited until she was out of sight before stepping out, locking his door and making his way to Captain Yamamoto's office.
Why did he have a feeling that the shinigamis here did not trust him? Or knew something about him that he did not know of?
The sounds of his footsteps resounded across the floor.
It was impossible for them to know anything about him that he was not aware of. Or anything about him that could be considered as bad. He had a perfect record. Unless of course, they knew something about him from his past.
Ulquiorra shook his head, ridding his mind of such ridiculous thoughts.
Again, that was impossible. There was no way that they could have known anything about his past. There were so many souls coming in Soul Society that knowing and remembering each and every one of those souls' past would be near impossible. Besides, even though Ulquiorra did not remember what his past life was like, but he was pretty sure that he had led a perfectly normal life. So he did not know what the big fuss was about. Perhaps the shinigamis here just did not like him.
Ulquiorra had always known that he was different. He just did not know how different he was.
When Ulquiorra had arrived in front of Captain Yamamoto's office, he knocked on the door. "Captain Yamamoto. It is me, Lieutenant Schiffer."
"Enter," came the old man's immediate reply.
Ulquiorra opened the door and stepped into Captain Yamamoto's office. He found the old man sitting behind a desk. He raised a black eyebrow. An orange haired teen was there as well, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed across his chest. What was he doing here?
"Captain Yamamoto," Ulquiorra said, bowing slightly. "Kurosaki Ichigo." He nodded at the orange haired teen who acknowledged him with a smile.
The old man nodded. "Ulquiorra Schiffer." He gestured at the chair in front of the desk. "Take a seat."
"Thank you." The emerald eyed shinigami sat down, ignoring the orange haired teen, eyeing the captain of the 1st division as he waited for the old man to elaborate.
Ulquiorra had always respected Captain Yamamoto and he was loyal to their cause. Ever since he had enrolled in the academy where they trained the students to become future shinigamis, he had held the man in high regard. He had quickly graduated in a little over a year, earning the title of prodigy, just like Toushirou Hitsugaya. And due to his skill, strength and intelligence, he had been placed into one of the 13 Protection Teams. Not long after that, he had been promoted to becoming a lieutenant since Shuhei Hisagi was now captain.
Many had considered this a huge accomplishment, but Ulquiorra thought otherwise. He thought that he did not really deserve the promotion since he did not have to go through any tests. In his eyes, he had simply been promoted to fill in the empty lieutenant seat in the 9th division, not due to his skill.
"Today is going to be your last day as a lieutenant, Ulquiorra," Captain Yamamoto said, a small smile on his lips. "You have done well in a very short amount of time. We shall be having a ceremony to celebrate your becoming a captain in a few days' time."
Ulquiorra blinked. He knew that he had passed the captain proficiency test with flying colours earlier that day but it was still taking some time for it to sink in. With passing that test, he was to be the new captain of the 5th division. That spot had been empty for a long time and Ulquiorra did not know who was the former captain. Apparently, the former captain of that division had betrayed Soul Society about two years ago. But Ulquiorra did not know the name of the former captain. He had tried asking around, but it was apparently one of those things that was not to be spoken of.
Or it was one of those things that Ulquiorra was not supposed to know about.
"A ceremony?" Ulquiorra echoed. "I have never heard of a-"
"Yes, yes. But this is one that the 5th division is asking for us to hold especially for you. They are looking forward to having a new captain." Yamamoto leaned forward. "I know that you will do a good job. You have done well beyond expectations. Now, how about one final job to do before you officially become the captain of the 5th division? Just something simple. To give you closure before taking up your seat as captain."
The emerald eyed shinigami nodded.
"I will do anything for the good of Soul Society."
"Just the answer that I have expected from you." Yamamoto leaned back in his chair. "I want you and Ichigo to patrol Karakura Town."
Ulquiorra Schiffer stood up and bowed. "Consider it done."
Ulquiorra scanned his surroundings with a critical eye once his feet had touched the ground. It had been some time since he had come here. He had stopped coming to patrol in towns in the human world once he had become a lieutenant. He glanced at the substitute shinigami who was standing beside him.
Kurosaki Ichigo was certainly another person that behaved oddly around Ulquiorra. He did not look at Ulquiorra with fear. Rather, his warm brown eyes seemed to look at Ulquiorra with sadness and… shame? And he also seemed to show an unusual amount of care for Ulquiorra's well being. Not in a romantic sense, but Kurosaki always told him to take care whenever Ulquiorra went on missions. However, the orange haired teen shared the same trait like the other shinigamis. He seemed to be keeping something, some sort of secret from Ulquiorra. Not that Ulquiorra particularly cared even though it did bother him sometimes.
What was so horrible that he was not allowed to know anything about?
"Urmm…" Ichigo shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "So what do we do now?"
Another odd quality about Ichigo. With other captains, he did not show much respect for them, nor would he follow any of their orders. But with Ulquiorra, however, he would become unusually subdued and obedient. Ulquiorra only saw the substitute shinigami sometimes but each of their encounters would be the same – awkward.
The war between Hueco Mundo and Soul Society was still ongoing so Soul Society needed all the help it needed. And Ichigo Kurosaki was certainly a valuable asset. He was very adept at fighting and had proven numerous times that his powers were roughly on par with those who were at captain level. There had been a rise in the number of arrancars appearing in Karakura Town lately so having powerful fighters was necessary. Ulquiorra had never fought with the young Vaizard though, so he did not know whether he was equal to or stronger than Kurosaki. Probably not, since he had just become a captain whereas Kurosaki had been a shinigami for far longer than he had been.
Ulquiorra thought for a moment. When he finally came to a decision, he said, "You patrol the North side of Karakura, Kurosaki. I will patrol the South."
The emerald eyed shinigami was about to turn on his heel and shunpo his way to the South side of Karakura when Ichigo suddenly spoke.
"Ulquiorra. I mean, Lieutenant Schiffer."
Ulquiorra stopped in his tracks. He looked over his shoulder at the orange haired teen, irritated. "Yes?"
Ichigo seemed to hesitate for a moment before saying, "Take care of yourself."
Ulquiorra nodded and shunpoed away, leaving Ichigo behind.
Once he was out of Ichigo's sight, Ulquiorra slowed down and began walking slowly, not wanting to miss any sign of Hollows wandering about. Kurosaki Ichigo worried too much. Ulquiorra was certainly more than capable of taking care of himself. He was a captain for goodness sake. He did not like being worried about as though he was a small kid.
He walked past a few humans who were still lingering about the streets even though it was clearly late at night, his mind focused solely on sensing reiatsu from any arrancars that might be nearby. The humans did not notice him. Of course, Ulquiorra thought. He was dead, after all.
The raven haired shinigami stiffened when he walked by one house and felt a reiatsu that was unfamiliar. A powerful one, but not as powerful as his. Ulquiorra narrowed his eyes and unsheathed his zanpaktou, ready to attack at any given moment. He looked up and spotted a figure with teal hair sitting on the rooftop. From his viewpoint on the ground, Ulquiorra could clearly see that the person had a hole in his abdomen.
Consider it eliminated.
Grimmjow looked up at the stars, his eyes still wet with moisture. He and Ulquiorra often came to Karakura Town to look up at the stars. They both had found it strangely calming. Grimmjow passed a hand over his face. He had just got to stop thinking about Ulquiorra. It was driving him crazy. But no matter what he did, Ulquiorra would always be there in his mind. It seemed that his heart would not allow him to forget.
And then there was the fact that Grimmjow was secretly hoping that one day Ulquiorra would come back. He knew that it was stupid and that he was being stupid. But he could not help but think that maybe Ulquiorra might come back one day even though the pale arrancar had died in front of his very eyes.
A tear rolled down his cheek. He was pathetic.
The teal haired arrancar stiffened when he felt an extremely powerful reiatsu close by. His hand gripping the handle of his zanpaktou, Grimmjow looked out of the corner of his eye and spotted a black robed figure with raven hair. He recognized that uniform. It was one of those shinigamis from Soul Society. Well, that shinigami may be powerful, but he was going to be in for a surprise.
Grimmjow sonidoed his way to the bottom, appearing behind the raven haired shinigami and wrapped an arm around the man's neck, his other arm around the man's chest to keep him from escaping.
"Surprise," Grimmjow whispered into the raven haired shinigami's hair, his lips pulled back into a feral grin.
He had to give it to him. Although the shinigami seemed surprised enough, he did not lose his cool. Instead, the slender man had just said, "Worthless."
"What the fuck did you just call me?" Grimmjow tightened his hold on the man, getting pissed off, threatening to suffocate him.
The man twisted in his grasp and was soon onto Grimmjow, pushing the teal haired arrancar roughly to the ground, his zanpaktou unsheathed in one swift action. Man, the guy is fast, Grimmjow thought dizzily. He placed his zanpaktou against Grimmjow's throat, the expression on his face one of boredom. "Trash. Worthless trash," the shinigami said in a disgusted voice.
Trash…? Only one person he knew ever said that, and that person was... that person was not around anymore. Grimmjow tried not to think too much about it though. It was probably a coincidence. "Fuck you," the teal haired arrancar sneered. Well, if he was about to die, he might as well die fighting rather than begging for his life. "And I am not worthless trash."
"Hmm." The man regarded Grimmjow with slight annoyance, the look in his eyes condescending. "Do you have any last words, arrancar?" he said in monotone. The blade of the shinigami's zanpaktou was dangerously sharp.
Why did that voice sound so familiar?
The only other person who had a voice like that was dead.
So many thoughts were going through Grimmjow's mind, making him dizzy but all of those thoughts came to a full stop when the raven haired shinigami leaned back from his position on top of Grimmjow. Because at the very moment that the man had leaned back, the light from the street light had shone upon his face, revealing his face to Grimmjow.
Grimmjow gaped unable to believe his eyes.
Large, emerald eyes…
"Ulquiorra??" Grimmjow gasped, his eyes widening. "Ulquiorra Schiffer??"
The raven haired shinigami frowned, his grip on his zanpaktou tightening. He leaned back towards Grimmjow, his eyes serious and angry. "How do you know my name, arrancar?" he hissed, pressing his zanpaktou hard against Grimmjow's throat so that it went through Grimmjow's thick hierro and drew blood.
A/N: This fic can be considered as the continuation of Ashes to Ashes, but you can read it alone. How Ulquiorra started out in Soul Society will be explained in upcoming chapters.
I didn't want to post this too early since I would have a pretty hard time juggling 3 fics. But I gave into temptation. XD I couldn't resist. Besides, I was scared that another fic might come up with a similar idea to this. So, yeah. Better safe than sorry. :O And also, Lessons In Love will be over soon, so it shouldn't be a problem. Reviews are appreciated.