Wow, it's been forever since I've posted anything here. Almost three years, hasn't it been? Well, it's good to be back!

This is not the first Bleach fanfiction I've started, but it is the first one I've finished. I wrote this on a whim in the middle of the night, and you could say it's like a series of very short drabbles or oneshots. Lots of short lines, but that's for effect. This is probably the first story I've ever written in this style. I have a longer story currently in the works, so we'll see if I finish that one. But I wanted to go ahead and post this.

It's rated for references to violence, and a general angsty tone to parts of it.

This isn't a flat-out pairing fic. But it deals with Orihime and Ulquiorra, and you can decide if you think it's Ulquihime or not.

I may add another chapter to this, depending on the response to it and whether or not you all would like me to continue. So it's up to you.

Of course, there are spoilers for up to Ch. 353 or 354 of the manga.

I hope you all enjoy this little story. And please leave a review!

Missetsu na Kokoro

Orihime never hated him. No matter how hard she tried, she could not hate him. Because, from the first moment she saw him, she thought he looked very sad.

He was just too sad to hate.

When he told her to come with him, when he threatened the lives of her friends, she was afraid. But she was not afraid of him. Just for her friends.

He did not look evil to her. And he struck her as so different from the other Hollows she had encountered that she had trouble thinking he was a Hollow at all.

And when he told her that she could say goodbye to one person, she knew she shouldn't have felt grateful.

But a little part of her did.

Her journey to Hueco Mundo was her first time in a Garganta, and she had been ordered to stay close to him for her own safe keeping.

It was a long journey, and a dark journey, and she realized that Garganta was very cold.

Once, she heard something cry out in the distance like it was about to attack, and by instinct, she reached to grab onto his arm.

But the look he gave her when she took one step toward him was enough to make her heart stop beating.

After that, Orihime tried to ignore the sounds in the distance. And no matter how much they frightened her, she did not reach out for him again.

He only spoke to her twice during her first evening there.

The first was to tell her that they were about to enter the throne room, and that she would be obedient for the sake of her friends' lives.

He did not speak to her in the throne room, but she glanced over at him occasionally, and though she never caught him, she was certain he was watching her.

The second was only five words, as she stepped into the gray room with the couch and the barred window that she supposed would be her prison cell.

"You will wait here quietly."

She had put her hand up as he turned to walk out the door. "Wait!"

He stopped.

"W-where are you going?" she had asked, her voice quiet and shaky.

He had turned around to look at her. And the look in his green eyes was sharp and harsh, and she could feel his cold stare burning into her as if the entire room was turning to ice.

Then he left.

Orihime wondered if that counted as a third time.

Orihime didn't recall falling asleep on the couch when she finally woke up. Before she opened her eyes she got the strange feeling that she was not alone, and when she opened her eyes, she immediately turned her head to the side to find out.

At first it just looked like there was a shadow of something lurking near the wall of the room, as if part of her sleep was still lingering around her.

When the shadow moved, she froze, and she stared back at those green eyes that appeared out of the darkness.

She was surprised to find that they did not look as cold as they had before.

He did not say a word, merely dropped a neatly folded bundle of white clothing on the floor and walked back through the open door with his coattails waving behind him.

Orihime stared at the door a long time after it closed.

She wondered how long he had been watching her sleep.

When she realized that he was in the doorway as she stood, looking out the window, she had not thought about how to react. She had just reacted.

It took his insistence that she not make such a fuss for her to realize that, for a moment, she had forgotten where she was, and forgotten, for a moment, that he was not just another human, another friend, who had happened to startle her.

And when he announced that her friends had arrived, she forgot all about it.

Orihime had never been a violent person.

She had also never been an angry person.

So when her feet moved her across the room, and when she felt her hand connect with the hard, chilled skin of his face, she surprised even herself.

She had expected him to punish her, to threaten her, to do something to make her pay for daring to attempt an attack on him, however insignificant it was.

But he didn't. He just turned around and walked away.

Somehow, though, that made it hurt even more.

And through the pain in her hand and in her chest as the tears streamed down her face, she did not realize that he still lingered outside the door.

A little part of her had felt grateful to Grimmjow as she stood there over her shield.

But when she heard the sound in the broken opening to the tower and saw the figure standing there, a little bit of gratitude turned to almost fear.

But not quite.

And when he stared at her, that deadpan face burning into her as if that was its sole purpose, she found that she had to look away.

For when he looked at her like that, though she knew it was silly, a little part of her could not help but feel like she had done something wrong.

She knew from the time she saw Grimmjow attack that Grimmjow would have to win.

She knew that she should have hoped that Grimmjow would crush him.

But she found that she was unable to genuinely hope that he would get hurt.

When she saw that little black cube encircle him and make him disappear into thin air, she swore her heart skipped a beat, though she was not sure what it was for.

And when Grimmjow told her that it was meant to imprison lesser Arrancar forever, she felt a streak of shock shoot through her being.

It was not a good feeling.

And though she hated herself for it, Orihime was a little bit relieved when she heard that he would not be trapped forever himself.

Standing alone in the fifth tower of Las Noches, Orihime was not sure what to expect.

But hearing the sound of steady footsteps and the mystical voice speak a familiar "hai" was not even on her list.

She knew she should have been afraid to see him there.

But though she tried to be, she was not afraid to see him.

And a little bit of her relaxed at the knowledge that he was okay.

For Orihime, the concept of the heart had always been a steady thing.

Sora had talked about heart.

Kuchiki-san had talked about heart.

She had talked about heart.

So when he looked at her and asked her what a heart was, and when he reached out to ask her where it could be found, she found that she truly had not lied to him.

She did not fear him.

For the first time, she pitied him.

She had been too far away from the battle between him and Kurosaki-kun to hear most of the words spoken.

But after he had been cut for the first time, she was sure she heard Kurosaki-kun suggest that he had become more like a human.

That was the first time she had ever seen him look so angry.

And in that instant, she knew that Kurosaki-kun was right.

It had been instinct that had prompted her to put up her shield to protect Kurosaki-kun. Not for an instant had she thought about a reason.

So when Ulquiorra asked her why she had done it, she found herself unable to give an answer.

"I'll enlighten you. You are—"

Kurosaki-kun cut him off before he could finish. But Orihime did not need to hear the rest.

For she already knew what he was going to say.

And though she couldn't stand it, a part of her knew that he was right.

Orihime had been a little afraid when Loly and Menoly attacked her again. Only a little.

She had been more afraid when she saw Kurosaki-kun trying to break free to get them away from her.

And though the movement was slight, and she was not entirely sure it was there, she thought she saw Ulquiorra's ever-deadpan face crinkle just under his eye when he looked at her.

She was more afraid after that.

She already knew that the fight was dangerous when it was taken to the roof of Las Noches, but when she felt the enormous amounts of reiatsu pouring down on her, she knew that it had gotten worse.

Of course she found herself worried for Kurosaki-kun, and wondering if Kurosaki-kun was okay.

She did not want Kurosaki-kun to die.

But in that knowledge, she also found, to her own amazement, that she did not want Ulquiorra to die either.

Orihime had never thought Ulquiorra was a monster.

Even when he had threatened her friends' lives, even when he had insulted those friends when they came to rescue her, even when she had seen him fighting Kurosaki-kun, she had never thought, even for a moment, that he was a monster.

She ran as fast as her legs could carry her once Ishida-kun brought her onto the dome.

She looked up once she realized where the both of them stood on top of the tower.

And when she saw Ulquiorra raise his finger and the black death begin to charge in front of it, she screamed as loud as she could.

In that moment, and only then, Ulquiorra was a monster.

When Orihime saw Kurosaki-kun's lifeless body under her shield, the hole in his chest gaping and refusing to heal, she was afraid.

When she saw Ishida-kun skid to a stop near her, his left hand gone and his wrist dripping with blood, she was afraid.

But when she looked at Ulquiorra standing there, with horns and black wings and black fur and a tail, she was not afraid.

Not of him.

And when she cried for Kurosaki-kun to help her, she did not cry for fear of Ulquiorra. She cried because she did not know what else to do.

Orihime had known from the beginning of the battle that when Kurosaki-kun was winning, she should be happy for him.

But for this entire battle, he had only barely been hanging on, so she had never had the chance to feel happy for him.

She watched as the beast with the horns and the mask ripped Ulquiorra's arm off, watched as he sliced him in half, and watched as he charged the glowing red cero that was to finish him off.

Never did the thought even cross her mind to be happy for Kurosaki-kun.

Never did the thought even cross her mind that he had won.

The only thought that crossed her mind, even once, was that Ulquiorra had lost.

And he was no longer a monster.

The monster was Kurosaki-kun.

And that thought was truly frightening indeed.

Orihime had never been afraid of Ulquiorra.

And she had never imagined she would be afraid of Kurosaki-kun.

But when she saw him charging the cero at Ishida-kun, lying there with the black Zanpakuto plunged into his stomach, she didn't think she had been more afraid in her life.

And she had never imagined that the sight of Ulquiorra, throwing himself into the air with an energy spear clasped in his hand, and chopping off one horn to stop that cero, would make her feel relieved.

But, through the terror and panic and horror that coursed through her being, a part of her was.

Because, for the first time, Ulquiorra was the one who was saving someone she cared about.

The one who was saving her.

Orihime had heard of many of Kurosaki-kun's enemies who hated him because he would not finish them off.

She had heard of many enemies who wanted to die an honorable death in battle.

Ulquiorra had never struck her as the type who cared either way about how he died.

So when she heard him ask Kurosaki-kun to kill him, as his remaining wing began to fade into the dust, she did not know quite what to think.

She did not know what to think when Kurosaki-kun refused.

And she did not know what to think when, upon hearing this, for the first time, she saw Ulquiorra look genuinely sad.

He still did not strike her as one who wanted an honorable death.

So she could never understand why he wanted Kurosaki-kun to kill a dying opponent.

But it made her sad, too.

Orihime had known many of the enemies that her friends had fought.

She had known ones who turned out to be kind deep down, and were merely led down the wrong path.

She had known ones that were horrid right to the very end, and she had never found out why they were the way they were.

But when Ulquiorra looked at her as he faded into the wind, she knew she had never known an enemy of her friends who looked at her quite like that.

When she saw his hand reaching out for her, asking if he frightened her, she did not know what to think. She did not know what to feel.

But the tears came into her eyes regardless of all of that.

And no matter what the confusion inside of her made her think and feel, she did not protest as her hand lifted away from her chest and back toward him.

Orihime had known many feelings in her life.

She had known desperation.

And she had known pain.

But she had never felt such desperation as when her fingers grasped for his and merely brushed against the ash that was beginning to fade into the wind.

And she had never felt such pain as when she watched him, his soft eyes still looking at her, as his entire body blew into nothingness.

And she was left alone. Standing there. Her hand outstretched.

And suddenly, the nature of good and evil, of justice, of anything, no longer made any sense at all.

She had not thought of anything when she healed Kurosaki-kun's reiatsu. She had just done what was needed, and that was it.

She had not thought of anything when she healed Ishida-kun's injuries. He started to speak to her once or twice, but both times she said nothing, and he went quiet.

She had not thought of much of anything as she stood there, looking out at the spot on the dome where he had last stood.

But she could still see the afterimage in her mind of his figure. Reaching for her.

"Inoue-san," she heard Ishida-kun start, but she did not look at him. She heard a sigh. "Inoue-san …"

Ishida-kun did not finish. She found that she did not care.

Orihime did not think of anything as she stood there on the dome of Las Noches, staring at that single spot.

But she felt something, deep within her. Something strong. Something that spoke to her, loud and clear.

She did not really hear Ishida-kun's voice as she took the few steps necessary to stand where she had been not so long before.

She did not hear his questions or his shouts as she raised both of her hands in front of her.

But she could feel the faintest of smiles come to her face, and as she closed her eyes, she could feel a single, lonely tear trickle down her cheek.

"Soten Kisshun. I reject."

Ulquiorra Cifer had always looked very sad, up until the moment he died. And that was all he had ever been to Orihime. Someone who was sad.

But though the feeling was new, she was glad to see all of him seem to shine a little brighter under her shield.

And though she did not know what she should feel as his body reformed, as he reappeared bit by bit under the golden glow, she did know one thing above all.

It felt right.

And that was enough for her.