AN: I'm a fan of crack pairings so...uhm...this is definitely Ulquiorra and Rukia. I love the two. Anyway, go easy on me please since this is my first fiction.

Prologue

Ulquiorra swayed a little as he walked at the dark lane while holding his shoulder. To think that he was careless that he got wounded in a little shootout with that damn Kurosaki Ichigo, who although does not know the identity of the green-eyed man, was still able to get wind about this assassination.

He had no choice then but to fight at an inappropriate time. One minute of surprise had then cost his shoulder. He stopped to catch his breath. Growing up and trained to be an assassin, emotion is something they do not have the luxury to feel. Especially him.

He was a nobody when that man found him and brought him to that certain place where he met some other orphaned kids. Back then, he thought he was saved from the hunger and everything but he learned later that 'kindness' had a price. For when they were more than a week in that school, the true colors of that man shows up and that is where the training started.

They were not allowed to scream as they were punished. They were not allowed to show any emotions. They were whipped to death when they did something wrong.

Those were the payments one has to pay in exchange of being taught – though forcibly – to hold guns, assemble them or not, to detonate a bomb, to kill a person, to defend yourselves. It was hell in that place which was only called Las Noches in the outside world. Those who knew nothing about it only thought that it was an abbey for orphaned kids.

Ulquiorra had often wondered why no one from the outside bothered to look into it carefully. No one noticed that from the hundred kids that were brought into that place, only a few survived and ten emerged the strongest. Many tried to escape but were killed upon stepping out and so no one attempted anymore.

Ulquiorra's sight is starting to get blurry and he knew it would only be a matter of time before his pursuers would find him. He will never allow himself to get caught. That is why, despite the loss of blood, he still willed himself to move farther away while his life is still being replayed in his life.

He was named Ulquiorra Schiffer by that man who controlled everything. It stuck on him since then and to be perfectly honest, he could no longer remember the name he used to have. He had forgotten all about it. he had forgotten about who he was already or rather, he does not have a memory about it anymore. It was like it suddenly vanished yet slowly returning in a haze.

Leaning on the wall, he panted as he looked up, the big building in front of him seems not to exist that very moment. He was in his own world. Was this what death meant? He wondered about it. it's quite funny that he would die from such a petty wound, he who was feared by many in the underworld with the name Quatro, he who was dubbed the most emotionless of all the assassins trained so he had no problem carrying out his assignment at all.

Killing meant nothing to him. He took hundreds of lives as ordered. After all, what choice is there to make when your life depends on them? They grew up knowing only how to kill – take that away from them means taking away something vital. Or so he believed.

Eyes fluttered, Ulquiorra, for the first time in his life or for the first time since he could remember, smiled with regret. The emotionless one, the heartless one felt remorse in all the things he did as death came closer to him. It's ironic.

His other companions would soon find this hilarious. That, he – one of the strongest died with a simple wound while regretting something. Grimmjaw and Nnoitra would surely laugh about it.

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"There is still no call from Ulquiorra," the leader of the group said as he sat lazily on his chair while waiting for the report to come in. with Ulquiorra being the one assigned to assassinate Joushirou Ukitake, everyone would expect it to be a quick job. After all, that guy had no qualms about taking a life just as much as the rest of them are. His face is always blank even as he stared at the eyes of a dead.

"Perhaps he delayed the timing," one suggested casually. Stark glanced at the only female who ranked among those who were trained by Aizen Sousuke and called Espada. Harribel.

"Hmm. The fourth never delayed anything," the old man suggested as the three convened.

"But if he does not give us a report, Aizen-sama would find out about it," Starrk said. Never commit a single mistake. That's one of the rules taught to them when they were younger. Or you will face the consequences.

A wry smile curved his lips. They have tried countless times to escape when they were young, but there was always a threat behind. Aizen holds the card. He can easily disclose their identities and weave a lie to pin them as the real villains. It happened once to someone whom Starrk could no longer remember. But he knew that Aizen made an example of him.

The door opened as Zommari entered. "There had been a shootout where Ulquiorra's supposed to be. It seems trouble had come up."

Stark raised his brow. Ulquiorra? It seems a little impossible for the Quatro to encounter any trouble at all. If anything, he finishes his task cleanly. Reaching for something, he pressed the control as they finally watched for a news report. Then he sighed.

"Oh, so that man interfered again. I wonder how he always found out about it. Now it's Ulquiorra who had to deal with him this time. Last time it was Aurinier and he died for being reckless."

"That investigator is nothing compared to Ulquiorra. He could easily take him down."

If so, why is it that the man stood proudly while declaring with so much confidence that he can catch him? Starrk thought to himself. Not unless Ulquiorra was careless. He shook his head. Carelessness was something Ulquiorra abhors. He always worked with perfection. And that is why he is always favored by Aizen.

"And what happened to his target?"

"It appears he is alive." Harribel stood up and stretched a little. "Guess I have to take over then. But it sure is surprising to learn that Ulquiorra failed in this one."

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Ichigo sighed as the door behind him closed. His partner, Renji looked up. "So, heard you saved the old man's life."

"Ah," he replied and threw his leather jacket at the couch and sighed as he stared at the ceiling. But it sure was a rough night. Unconsciously, his hand held his side.

Noticing it, the redhead frowned. "You got him? He sure got you."

"The man escaped. Whoever he is, he has a perfect aim. If not for that wound in his shoulder which I managed to inflict, I'm dead right now. He's dangerous."

"The Quatro?"

"Yeah."

"Did you have a glance at his face?"

"Nope. The man is wearing a mask. And he's quick."

"Troublesome."

"You said it."

Then silence followed for a while before Renji asked. "How did you know that there would be an assassination attempt?"

"Dunno. I just received an email. I thought it might be a bluff or something to trap us out. I received like this one too when there was one who took Sajin's life. By then, I was too late since it took me long to debate about it."

I'm going to catch them next time.

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Eyes fluttering opened, Ulquiorra found himself in a wide room. Though his head felt heavy, he still forced himself to sit up as he realized he is alive. He does not appear to be in a hospital or in any familiar room he could remember so he must be in a stranger's place. Forcing himself to stand up, he looked for his clothes as he was left naked in the torso. He needed to make a call.

And he has to make sure that he finished his mission. Swaying a little, he held onto the wall to steady himself. This would be the first time in his adulthood that he has to actually feel how it was like to be in pain from a wound. It's troublesome. But being trained as he was, he did nothing more than close his eyes with no change of expression in his face. It was total blankness. Something which had always unnerved his enemies.

"I would advise you to actually not force yourself to move," a cool voice broke the silence as a small woman emerged from the door. A woman or a girl, he thought as he studied the small frame. Probably a girl.

Ignoring her words, he sought for his things. It would be troublesome if this woman saw the gun. He might have to kill her. "If you're looking for your things, I have it. I touched nothing, don't worry."

Still ignoring her, he wore his jacket over his bandaged body, not bothering to even give the woman another glance.

Rukia, watched as the man quietly dressed himself up while trying not to wince at all the scars she saw in his body. She wondered where he got all of those. Being a rational citizen, she knew from first glance last night that the man is dangerous. He had a gun for crying out loud. But being a doctor, her profession called for her service. She cannot just let anyone die even if they have the possibility to actually survive. Especially when someone happened to almost die in front of her doorstep. Her morale never allows that.

She had debated last night whether to call some police but thought against it in the end for reasons unknown. He might be a bad person but it does not necessarily mean that she would be the one to turn him over. Her responsibility is just to actually tend to his wound.

She blinked when he stood in front of her, his right hand extended as his palm faced up. Frowning, she looked at him with question. "My things."

His voice was raw and deep in the edges…while cold at the same time. Or rather toneless. And she shivered. This man seemed dangerous. "Your wounds were just patched up last night. You don't – "

"My wounds are of no concern of yours," he cut her off rudely, his green eyes sharpened as he gave her a warning. She thought she felt the hairs at her neck stand as she shivered. There was a threat behind those eyes.

"The least you can do is thank me," she pointed out. "But I supposed you don't want to. I'll go get them," she said and left the room while wondering if this man was the man chased by the police last night. She heard from Tatsuki that her husband's best friend, Kurosaki that is, is actually on a mission to stop the assassination attempt on the kind Ukitake Joushirou who was scheduled for a meeting in Tokyo.

Whether he was or not, Rukia decided to not be bothered about it. after all, she had her own share of problems which she merely tried to actually brush off. There is no way for her to welcome another problem at all.

Returning to the room, she found the guest gone and she wondered where he went to. That is until she saw a small note on the bedside table. Clutching the gun to herself, she went near the table and read the note.

You never saw me. Remember that.

Frowning, Rukia only shrugged. What a weird guy to demand his things but vanish before he could get it. she stared at the gun and decided to keep it to safety. Who knows, that man may one day come and get it.

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Ichigo grounded his teeth as he listened to Renji's report early that morning. To think that he miscalculated. All he was able to do last night was delay Ukitake's death. They were so wrapped up in tracking the assassin last night that he forgot he could have gone back to finish the job.

"What was the time of death?" he asked again.

"An hour after your interference."

"Shit. He is messing with us," he said as he balled his fist. "I will show him…" he muttered close to himself in a way that sounded like a promise. To be perfectly honest, the cases of assassination had always been a failure for the investigators. It had already been years and it was following a trend. Political figures were being killed one by one. Each victim marked with numbers tattooed on them. It usually ranged from zero to nine but not exceeding the latter. It puzzled Ichigo.

He wanted to know what the numbers signify. But then, they never had a lead. It was probably a few months back when a mysterious message came to him informing him of an assassination. Believing it to be a prank, he was indecisive about it which cost the governor's life. He had then promised to actually finish this case. At all cost.

With the help of the mysterious messages he always received, giving him tips. "I realized recently that most of the victims have number five or six. What do you think does it mean?"

Ichigo raised his head at Renji's question and frowned after not being able to come up with a reason except one – one which was always rejected by the Chief of Police. Everyone believed that there is only one crazed assassin.

But Ichigo had then suggested that perhaps the numbers represent something else. He could not provide any evidence then so he was only shrugged off. According to the forensics, all the methods of death is the same or following the same pattern. Except for one.

All victims bearing the mark of number four died with a bullet between their eyes. It was a very brutal way of killing someone. "My theory never changed and I bet Kenpachi is considering that angle. Perhaps there are more than one assassin, each with different numbers. Either they work as a group or not is still unsure though."

"Considering that, it would mean there are more like the one you fought last night."

"Yes."

"How did the victim die?" he asked again.

"Some believed to be suffocation. The autopsy had not come in yet. Besides, our men guarding him died the same way but he was the only one marked as number 3."

"If my theory is right, then someone took over the job," Ichigo rubbed his chin as he thought deeply.

"Yes."

"Interesting."

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Grimmjaw chuckled as Ulquiorra stepped inside the room where the rest gathered. They all looked at him oddly as he strolled towards them with his usual composure. "Oh ho, and here I thought you're a goner," Jiruga was the one who spoke though.

"…"

"How come you were unable to perform simple task?" Zommari asked as they all watched him pull his chair and took a seat.

"…"

His silence had always unnerved the guys around him. In their circle, Ulquiorra was probably a man of few words. He was never one to be provoked too. No matter how many insults were thrown at him, he would only take them with indifference. It was like he was the embodiment of the perfect tool that Aizen wanted.

One who would take orders without question and perform duties without difficulty.

"I see someone finished the job for me," he finally spoke after a few minutes of unnerving silence. If anything, the people around him were not really his comrades. Sure, they grew up together, tortured together…trained together…but there was never a bond between them. What probably connected them only was their life in there. But it does not necessarily mean it was already a bond. But that is all there is to it. they have no respect for each other.

"I did," Harribel answered in her cool voice.

"…"

"We needed to send Aizen the result so we have to finish it for you," Starrk spoke. It was customary there that one will not interfere with another's mission unless told to. They were like soldiers following orders.

"That investigator sure gave you some trouble eh," Barragan commented.

Before any of them could speak, the monitors of their respective computers flashed the face of the man who ruined their lives. He was smiling charmingly. "Ah…so glad you're all gathered completely," he greeted cheerfully. "First though, Ulquiorra, I trust you are well?"

"Hn."

"Good, good…so it was Harribel who took the job," he mused and rubbed his chin. "Very well…since that happened, you'd have to take her mission then. This would be simpler and easier."

"That would be?"

"You are to liquidate the witness."

Witness. He was referring to the mysterious witness who saw the death of Kaien Shiba. Until now, even the authorities as well as them had no idea who the witness was. They are simply waiting for the person to make a move, to step up and speak. The crime that person happened to see involved Aizen personally though they doubt she saw his face. After all, they were in the dark then.

"What a boring job," he heard Grimmjaw mutter but ignored his words. While he worked with precision and straight to the point, Grimmjaw and Nnoitra always loved toying with their victims first.

"I see."

"While you're at it, I also have another job," he said as a face flashed in front of them. "Get her. We are going to need her."

Ulquiorra simply stared at the picture. Then he shrugged. "Who is she?"

"Kuchiki Rukia. Five years ago, her car was found in a cliff and everyone believed that she had committed suicide. I'm going to use her against her brother."

Another one of his disposable pawns, Ulquiorra thought wryly before nodding his head. "The girl does not live here though so you might have to look for her. There was a rumor starting to go around that they have seen Byakuya's sister walking by outside Hueco Mundo."

"Sure."

Aizen smiled at the passive response. "I'll tell you when we need to get her."

"Hai."

With that said, Aizen's face in the screen was gone and the screen went blank except for Ulquiorra who was staring with impassive eyes at the picture of the woman. Get her huh?

"I wonder what he wants from the heir," Harribel voiced her thoughts.

"probably the same thing he needed from Kaien Shiba?" Starrk suggested.

"Probably."

"What do you think Ulquiorra?" Barragan asked the youngest man in the team but they all saw him simply staring at the ceiling with his eyes closed. The old man sighed. It's really useless talking to this man. He would speak if he only wanted to.

"I'm off," Grimmjaw stood up with a his hands at the back of his pocket. He gave Ulquiorra a wary look then went ahead. The guy gives him the creep sometimes.

One by one, the Espada decided to leave save for Ulquiorra who dozed off. Stark was the last to take his leave but before that, he managed to give the man a single glance. To be perfectly honest, he cared for all of his companions here. After all, they are his family. Growing up with so much loneliness, he found comfort in the presence of the group. So he could not help but worry for them.

Especially for this young man. He is the youngest of the group yet the fourth to be brought in this hellhole. While it was true that they were trained to bottle their emotions, some of them found it still hard to actually go by it. Emotion still ruled them. Some with rage, some with envy. Either way, they still know how to feel.

Save for this man. He grew up a killing machine. He never blinked while his target falls in front of him. Even when his victims' blood had already stained his face, all he would do is stare at them with so much indifference. And that was why Aizen had always given him the complicated cases. The man does not have to worry about Ulquiorra feeling remorse or pity for his victim, he does not have to worry that Ulquiorra might spare the target. Nope. Ulquiorra would always finish them with unblinking eyes.

And that was what unnerved them. The boy who was once innocent had lost himself in this hellhole and grew up a very formidable man. He shuddered. Even he would admit that he is quite afraid of this man. Not of what he might possibly do but of what he can do.

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Feeling all their presence left the room, Ulquiorra cracked his eye open and stared at the photo in the monitor. What an odd quirk of fate that he will have to go back to that woman who saved his life last night.

Only this time, he would take her as ordered. He might as well start putting her under his surveillance. For a woman thought to be dead, he wondered what mysteries she holds. He knew what would happen after Aizen made use of her.

To dispose her.

And that job would once again be given to him. He shook his head a little then stared at it once again.

Kuchiki Rukia eh?