[AliCe InChains]


[The Promise & The Threat]

It was sudden, unexpected even- the surprising fervor with which Rukia tossed back the bottle, taking a long hard swift with enough expertise to make even the most robust of men falter. Like a battleground the table was filled with the spoils of war, empty half crushed beer cans, shot glasses drained dry, glass mugs still half filled with froth. Rukia drank with so much mirth and good cheer that they had all went along with it. Ichigo- with far more coaxing than any of them had expected- had finally complied, and he too could hardly contain himself. Even now he was laughing loudly with Tatsuki, who had long since made it known that she had passed the point of no return a while back. Uryuu, who was weak to alcohol, had only taken a few mild sips before he had declared himself done, sitting back heavily in the seat with the slightest of flushes on his face. Chad had respectfully declined their invitation, so among all of them she alone sipped delicately on a glass of ice water, smiling along with them, laughing at their increasingly absurd drunken behavior.

For all appearances sake they were nothing if not the merry band again- for a moment she almost imagined that things were fine, that things were...normal. That Tatsuki was meeting her eyes. That Rukia wasn't drinking like a woman possessed, wasn't drinking like she wanted to be lost in the euphoria of drunkenness. Maybe she could have believed it if Ichigo's normally good humor hadn't been tinged with so much desperation, if his eyes didn't seem so lost. And Uryuu- his glasses were resting in his lap, his arm thrown over his eyes- but she had caught a glimpse of his face for the briefest of moments, and his eyes had been dark, contemplative.

Wrong, she thought again. She was the black stain among them, her lips open again as she tasted the air. Clean, new- a scent of something sharp and crisp, something pure- so that something in the pit of her very soul seemed to heave, to roll in revulsion, wanting to grimace in disgust. But that wasn't her- that wasn't her that hated them in this moment, that despised them in this moment for reasons she could not explain- it was his shadow, skulking in her own- it was the whisper of him, echoing along the shiver racing down her spine.

She wanted to drink it away- this feeling- this bitterness- this disgust. She wanted to be like them in this one moment, more than she ever had before. She wanted the sharp pungent taste of the alcohol to cloud her mind, to turn her turbulent feelings into an eerie calm, to make her forget. Grimmjow. Syazel. Him. This. Everything. She smiled, even though she felt nauseated, she smiled even though she felt sick, she smiled even though-

"Yo Orihime!" Ichigo called down to her, leaning heavily over the tabletop, so that his forehead almost touched the wood. His eyes were bleary, unfocused- but no matter what they still echoed with that strength, that resolve for which he was known. "You alright? You're quiet." Tatsuki's eyes cut to her- and then away. They hadn't spoken much since. She didn't know if the dark haired girl thought she was angry, or if she was upset. But there was no bitterness in her heart- she had not forgiven her stubborn friend, only because there was nothing to forgive. She couldn't be upset. Maybe Tatsuki had been right, was right…she was….not herself anymore.

"I'm fine!" She quipped cheerily enough, feeling her cheeks beam with mirth. "I've just never been here before!" She added, her gaze drifting around curiously.

"Yeaaaaah….dis place is….kinda nuu." Rukia murmured over her freshly popped can of beer, speaking with a surprising amount of clarity to say she had nearly consumed her weight in alcohol. She alone at the table seemed to catch Ichigo's look of concern, meant only for the dark haired girl.

She nodded agreeably in reply, casting her eyes around the dimly lit bar. They seemed to be the sole occupants tonight, their loud voices and rambunctious laughter nearly filling the small space. The bar was snug, cozy, seemingly suited for a more intimate drinking affair than to house a bunch of rowdy youth, the dim lighting creating a strange ambience filled with dark and shadow.

The bartender had quietly filled all of their orders, bringing whatever they wished without complaint or word. She could not clearly distinguish his form from the shadows of the room now, knowing only that he was a large man, and that she had seen the glint of the silver chain around his neck as he had placed the glass of water before her.

"It's not very popular among the upperclassmen." Tatsuki stated suddenly with a scoff, her voice louder than usual from the amount of liquor she had already consumed. "They think it's too 'depressing'. A bunch of pussies if you ask me!" Uryuu sighed at this, lowering his arm momentarily in order to give her a bleary eyed stare.

"Must you be so uncouth? Some of us would really appreciate it if you would lower your voice." Tatsuki's eyes narrowed at this immediatedly, growing sharp as flint.

"Fuck you Uryuu! Why did you even come if you were just going to whine like a bitch?" She alone could hear it, the tightly wound note of tension creeping along the corridor of her voice, the barely restrained anger echoing in her words. 'Wrong,' she thought, as Uryuu's eyes narrowed in reply, 'Wrong' she thought as Ichigo half sat up, his mouth fixed into a retort as he turned towards Tatsuki, 'Wrong' as Rukia took another hard swig.

"Hey!" She stated suddenly, shattering the suddenly tense air with a wide smile, clapping her hands together in order to get their attention. "Do you guys know what day it is? According to spongebob- he's a sponge you know, who lives under the sea, which sounds pretty crazy since his neighbor is a squid and his best friend is a star fish- I wish I was a star fish, can you imagine having such weird arms!?-But today is Leif Erikson day! Happy Leif Erikson's day!" She added cheerfully, much to the chagrin of her friends. Immediately Tatsuki's disposition cleared, the dark cloud vanishing from over her brow as she failed to fight a smile.

"Orihime what in the hell are you talking about," She added with a laugh, almost smiling like herself again.

"Do tell," Uryuu murmured easily enough, as he carefully placed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose to stare at her attentively, although they slipped down a moment later to clatter against the table.

"Well it's a day for Vikings- and weird sounds! Or at least I think so anyway. I forgot to tiro that episode." She quipped easily enough, her hands fluttering expressively through the air. "So you have to make this sound when you say it- Happy Leif Erikson day Heinger heinger hangar!" She added joyously, laughing at the sheer idiocy of it, before soon enough, even the tight lipped Uryuu cracked a smile. Tatuski shook her head almost fondly, pushing the empty glass away from her.

"Hime you're crazy as hell." She added with a wry smile shaking her head. "But that's fine…" she murmured under her breath, rising to stand. "Come on let's go." She added with a non too polite shove of Ichigo's head, making him scoff under his breath as he rose after her, so violently that the cluttered tabletop shook.

Rukia muttered a string of curses as she helped Uryuu hobble to his feet, grabbing his glasses from the liquor stained table as Ichigo allowed him to lean his slight frame against his solid weight. As they began their exit, Tatsuki turned her head at Orihime's delay, noticing that the girl had not yet bounced to their side.

"Orihime?" She called easily enough, casually enough- almost like old times. Almost.

She smiled with a wave, motioning for them to hurry ahead of her.

"Sorry I just have to use the bathroom real quick! I'll meet you guys outside!" She added cheerily, doing her best interpretation of the 'Igottago' dance she could muster. Tatsuki scoffed with a smile, nodding her compliance as she threw a few crinkled bills on the table for a tip. "If you say so Orihime. We'll be outside. Uryuu is probably throwing up by now anyway."

Almost normal. She thought, watching them stagger out the door. Almost forgotten. Almost the same.


The door closes shut behind them, the clattering of the bell alerting the bar owner that another arrival was imminent, now said the same for their departure. She stood, her shadow forlorn from where it was thrown across the floor, melding with the dim shadows of the dark room. She feels him long before his approach- hears the rattle of the chains, the whispers in her head as he joins her by her side. Side to side- she can see his shadow, dark as night alongside hers. And the hole, illuminated by the dim light from the bar.

"Orihime Inoue." He states quietly, contemplative- his deep voice filled with something old, ancient…sad. "I….have wanted to meet you. But I did not want to believe…it would be under these circumstances."

She has nothing to say to that-a part of her wants to laugh, to cry- and to weep. For a moment she does not know what to say, or if there's anything to say at all.

"What's your name?" She asks quietly, thoughtfully, the words a faded murmur from her usual exuberance. She asked even when she already knew.

"Zonmari." He stated back carefully in reply. He had a calm, meditative aura- and it was almost odd to her that something within him made her feel immediately at ease. She wanted to be wary, to be cautious- she wanted to keep the memory of Syazels' betrayal, his cunning, fresh in her mind. But beside him…all of that faded away. She felt as if she were standing in a pond of clear water, cool and comforting. And she did not hear it, did not feel him lurking in the shadow of her mind. The dragon was silent, leaving her to deal with her own thoughts.

"You're…different from the others." She found herself admitting, half in curiosity, the other with a small measure of reluctance. She could not seem to follow her own train of thought. What did that mean? How could she know? Had Syazel not already taunted her for her naivety, her gullibility? For missing the wolves in sheep skin, even when she lay in their very den? 'But then again…' She thought to herself, with an odd fleeting smile. 'I am a girl who dances with wolves.'

He turns his head, carefully observing her with dark golden eyes. "….Yes." He admittedly finally, after a prolonged pause of contemplative silence."Do you know why Orihime Inoue?"

Whispers, murmurs in her ears- the voices- the dragon? Skulking in the dark of her mind. Speaking to the heart of her. She hears it- the sound of a dry wind over the empty, the scent of sulfur and sand, the air thick with blood. A wild laugh of madness, the silence of the tomb. She opens her mouth to speak- closes it- says nothing for a moment. Abruptly, stupidly, she feels like crying. She thinks of him for a moment, the tall proud line of his back.

"You…have something to hold on too. Something too…believe in."

He says nothing to this for a moment- and she watches as his shadow turns away from her, retreating back in to the gloom.

"Your friends…they are waiting for you." He says after some time, a moment's reflection. She takes a step towards the exit, pausing for a moment to listen. Ichigo and Tatsuki are arguing, no doubt over something trivial. She was even more hot headed than usual once she started drinking. Rukia laughed, big and loud- probably at Uryuu, and judging by the horrific sounds that reached her ears, he was retching violently into the gutter. On the other side of that door was everything she had known, everything she had loved, everything she had ever wanted, had needed. On the other side of that door-

"Can I….come and talk with you again?" She asked, surprised by how her voice wavered, and wondered why.

"Anytime." He answers her, giving her a smile just as fleeting and forlorn as her own before she opens the door and returns to her world.

She opened the door to her apartment, pausing in the doorway to take off her shoes and put down her bag, locking the door behind her with a sigh of contentment as she wiggled her toes in her socks. 'Maybe I should take a nap before?' she thought to herself with another sigh, 'Silly Orihime! Of all the days to forget you signed up for an afternoon class…' It had slipped her mind entirely, that she had so willingly signed up for the elective class weeks before, with the books tucked somewhere in her room to prove it. Thankfully she had a long break between classes today, which gave her ample time to run back to her apartment for a mid day snack.

'Maybe peanut covered cheeze-its?' She smiled, her mouth already watering at the thought. She stepped into her kitchen, a hum beginning to brew under her breath. It was some song she had been remembering in snippets all day, a song with a bright, happy tune- and an underlying edge of sadness. For the life of her she couldn't think of what it was called. Time had passed by so idly that she had almost retreated, lost herself in the normalcy she had once been so easily accustomed to. The past few days had passed uneventfully, filled only with that same word, that never seemed to leave her now- Almost. She could feel it, the line that she had crossed, that bleak point far beyond return. For awhile, she had almost been able to pretend, to tell herself that maybe, just maybe-

She stumbled to a halt in the door way. She can feel her breath catching, her heart sputtering erratically in her chest. There was a shadow thrown across the floor.

He was there.

He was standing casually before her partially opened kitchen window, the sun glinting against the cold of his bare chest. It had been a few days since she had seen him. Swallowed in the black of his hair and the length of the dark pants encasing his legs was a moment so intense in its subtlety that she felt her breath leave her lungs. Her cheeks warmed as she watched with longing the way the sun's rays glinted along the hard planes of his chest- so that she wanted her hands there instead, trailing the length of him. Would his chest still be cold, despite the warmth he was bathed in? Would that black hole in the center of his chest remain frigid, unrelenting, eternally cold? She wondered if he stood there because he liked the warmth, and wondered if she could- if she should- take hope in something so trivial.

There is so much she wants to say, so many words choking her that she can't seem to find any of them. She opens her mouth to speak- closes it. She wanted to tell him about how she had woken the dragon. She wanted to tell him about Grimmjow. She wanted to tell him how she had hurt him. She wanted to tell him how she had found them- the pieces of herself. She wanted to tell him Syazel was a big four eyed jerk. She wanted to tell him that she had forgiven him. She wanted to tell him that she finally understood. She wanted to tell him she was a stupid, silly, foolish woman- but she loved him still.

But all of that rose and faded in a smothered sigh that she had dared not breathe, less it break the spell. But emerald eyes turned towards her, dazzling with the sun's rays behind him. And suddenly, the wound on her chest burned. Absently she presses a hand to the still tender flesh with abrupt confusion, not understanding. But in her head is the echo, the rattle, of chains.

"Ah…I see."

The words- said softly- so softly! There is something in them. Something in the murmur of breath, of confirmation- those two words as cold and noncommittal as outright silence. Her breath catches for some strange indefinable reason. Emerald eyes do not meet hers. They were away- in the void. She can taste something heavy and deep on her tongue- like tears. Aghast, her throat tightens, constricting from some force she cannot name. She searches for words she cannot find as he takes a brisk step towards her door. The outline of his back is cold- colder than before.

Something- something like a panic she does not understand is building in her chest. Because for a moment, only a moment- those emerald eyes had seemed to burn like dying suns. For a moment, it was only a moment, but there is a stray murmur of something along the chain. She could feel it. Something wound tight, strong, sharp like steel. It was- it is only a moment, but she suddenly understands. Her eyes widen as her heart seems to pound, echoing in her chest as things clocked into place. Nothing needs to be said.

'He...knows' she thought, surprised at the fear that echoes along with the thought. Why…why was she afraid? Her heart- it was roaring in her ears, pounding, pounding- she sees the man standing there- but she can imagine the dragon, growling in his shadow. His eyes- flicker amber. And the cold- she can feel the cold of his chest from here. It is a moment that passes like an eternity, a moment so tense that it's painful.

She fumbles for words, still struggling to understand the way her blood seems to roar. And just as suddenly it is gone. His eyes retreat, returning to the same coldness with which she was familiar. He retreats back into himself, taking a measured step back into the warmth in which he had first stood. 'What….what just happened?' She asked herself, swallowing the bitter taste of fear that had been lodged in her throat.'Just now….something….?' She surveys him, as always still a few steps behind. For a moment she had felt it clearly, despite not understanding, despite not knowing. The very air had been tight, tense, wound with a cold, violent energy filled with intent. She knew not to what end or for what purpose, but it had been pitch black, filled with loathing. But just as suddenly as it had come, that strange energy had dissipated.

She stood before him with hesitation, uncertain. There is so much she wants to say in this moment, to ask, so many words choking her that she can't seem to find any of them. She opens her mouth to speak- closes it. She struggles visibly, wondering at the cold distance that suddenly seems to be between them. 'Something, anything-' to get those emerald eyes to look at her, to see her, she thinks with an odd note of desperation echoing along the thought. She fumbled and grasped at the only words she could find.

"I missed you." She blurted out suddenly, immediately surprised at her own boldness, her own stupidity- but she got the desired effect. That dispassionate gaze took all of her in at once in a glance that gave nothing away. But they were emerald eyes that found hers. 'Not amber…' She thought for a moment, wondering if she had imagined it all.

"There was no need for such ill founded concern." He stated, the words jarring her back to the moment unfolding between them. She stands uncertain of how to proceed, of what it is she wants to say- before she resigns herself to just be honest.

"I….I know you're strong. But I…mean…I…I missed you." She finished quietly, staring into his eyes as she took a step forward. He stared at her with an acute gaze to her confession, and said nothing. Something about this makes her smile. She had nearly forgotten the blank look in his eyes when she said things he could not understand. He was a man that had to be shown.

"Hey Ulquiorra….did you know? When humans miss one another and meet again, they have a way of greeting to show how happy they are to see that person. You've probably seen it but I'm sure you've never had one."

She stepped towards him with wide arms, barely pausing as she wrapped them around the cold planes of his chest, pressing her cheek against the cold of his skin. It was like hugging an ice cube, a frigid cold so intense that it made her shiver. But she felt everything within her melt against him in a complete display of surrender. Feeling his strength beneath her made him real. Was that her weakness? That she had no strength of her own? He was cold. He was ruthless and merciless and callous when it came to her feelings- but in this moment he was a pillar of strength. She was stupid. This was all...so stupid. He had taken from her hadn't he? Hadn't he taken away the halcyon days of her youth? Hadn't he taken things even far more precious? [I took nothing you did not freely give.] She resisted the urge to cry at the way she surrendered in this moment against him, her arms wound tightly around him.

"It's called a hug." She murmured simply against him, the warmth of her breath ghosting along the planes of his chest. "Do arrancar do anything like this?" she asked gently, wanting to know.

"No." he answered immediately, standing absolutely still beneath her, unmoving. If he felt anything, he did not let her know of it. "They would never waste time on such pointless trivialities. If you survived the battle your presence alone was a clear indication of victory, you earned your right to continue to exist. If you had not, that was merely the end of it."

She felt her brow furrow at this. "No matter how long you've known each other? Despite how many battles you may have fought together, despite the time you have spent together?"

"That is of no consequence."

She paused at the dispassionate cruelty in his words. "Did you ever miss any of your fallen comrades?"

"Onna, one does not notice the absence of that which is barely worth noting. If they were weak enough to perish, then their minuscule lives were worth nothing." She felt her arms tighten around him at the arrogant cold of his words.

"Don't say that Ulquiorra. Everyone's life is worth something, we all have worth. Don't say that so easily like…nothing matters and…no one matters. You…and I-" she let the words trail off sadly, beginning to feel tears that she had promised herself not to cry catch in her eyes. She doesn't mean to think of Grimmjow but she does despite everything— she can't help but remember how wild his eyes had been. He had been many things, but somehow…she could never think of him badly. She wondered if he was alright, or if he was truly wounded beyond repair. She wondered if that darkness had ever left him, or if even now-

"Onna." He said suddenly, a warning.

She let him go quickly, banishing the dark thoughts and backing away to give him a cheerful smile.

"I know, I know no point in wasting time babbling like an idiot right? You must still be...tired." She almost paused at this, wondering how she had known. But somehow- she knew. He had traveled...a great distance. To a barren, desolate land. Sand. Blood drenched sands...She shakes her head to loosen the thought from her mind, motioning for him to have a seat. "Please make yourself comfortable Ulquiorra-kun I'll just make something for you to-" she paused as the thought struck her.

"Do Arrancar eat people food?" She asked curiously, tilting her head in wonder.

"Tea." He stated simply to her surprise, and she hurried to find something in her cabinet that would do. While she searched through her shelves, she could feel him watching her. She wondered what he thought of her- was he surprised to return and find her in good spirits? Was he surprised to find her still cheerful, still foolish and not a broken, groveling mess, nor a whipped slave? Did he believe the smile on her face was real? Did he believe her when she had told him she had missed him? Was the warmth of her body against his pleasing?

Most of the tea she had were sweet, soothing flavors like jasmine, Camille. Somehow she doubted something sweet and fragrant would please him, so she shuffled around for a packet of the black tea she kept at the back. She jumped on the counter on her knees, reaching for the tea she knew lay back there. She tried to stay calm, to think of everything but his gaze on her. She wondered at the breeze skirting around her bare thighs beneath her skirt, wondered at the provocative angle of her body as she leaned forward. But if he thought anything of her, she would not know it.

Her hands closed around the packet of tea, and while she still was in the cabinet she ran her tongue over her dry lips, wishing she could smooth her ruffled hair, wishing she had on other things, wishing- and then she stopped herself because she remembered he was not that kind of man. He probably cared nothing for something so...trivial. She got off the counter, and began to prepare the tea calmly, boiling the water, trying to keep herself calm. Even though he was right behind her, sitting in her kitchen without his shirt on, coolly observing her with a silent arrogance- like he owned her. She nearly dropped the packet from her hand when she realized that in many ways, he did. But there is more she wants to say, to ask- she grasps for it now.

"That place...where…where have you been all this time?" She tries to ask it casually as if it is of little importance. There is a part of her that wants to know. After all he had disappeared so suddenly, before she had truly…come to terms with the reality of their truth.

He does not answer her- but she has not expected an answer. He had told her once before that he would not bother himself answering questions she already knew the answer too. And suddenly, she did know. The name of that barren wasteland. She can see them now, the crumbling white towers, the forgotten palace. Her head rings. The Last Order. "Hueco...Mundo." The words leave her before she has time to mull over them, time to fully understand what the weighted words mean. Behind her she hears a soft clink of something solid being placed on the table. She turns, to find a steel circle resting on its surface. She stares at it curiously, her eyes finding his. Emerald eyes are cool, dispassionate, but in them is-

"Onna." He stated suddenly, coolly breaking the silence.

And she knew. She hastily licked her lips, feeling her heart begin to pound as she turned back around, refusing to meet his eyes.

"Onna." He stated again, and she felt her legs begin to tremble. She knew what he wanted. But somehow she couldn't bring herself to move, to take a single step towards him. She wasn't afraid- she was not frightened. Maybe it was anxiety, that made her insides twist and wring with anticipation of something she wasn't sure she wanted, or even had the strength to deny. She remembered the first time. Vaguely, like a dream too vivid, too frightening to be real. Of that frantic feeling, of something inside of her, unwinding, so intense she couldn't focus, couldn't even think.

"D-Do you…" she paused at the tremble in her words, and swallowed harshly. "Is it going to be like last time?" she murmured quietly, still unable to find the ability to meet his eyes through the butterflies devouring one another in her chest.

"The means to achieve the ends do not matter. I am able to feed from you in any context once the requirements fulfilled at our initial binding are met." He stated calmly, as if he did not know of her rapidly beating heart, the tremble in her legs.

"And…w-what was that requirement?" She asked quietly, shifting her legs in the silence, not liking the uncomfortable ache beginning to pool in her lower belly. She racked her brain, uncertain of what exactly that word meant, or what it entailed. Not since he had…forced her to face it in the darkness had she-

[The feeling of warm steel wrapped around her wrists, as she writhed and ground beneath him. A pain so intense- that it was no longer pain. It was pleasure, raw pleasure, beyond her comprehension, beyond her ability to comprehend. Her eyes rolled in her head, speech a garbling mess in her throat- as his tongue rolled hungrily against her, tasting the sweat of her skin, the sweetness of her virgin flesh. Unable to breathe as the waves of euphoric madness rolled throughout her body, she could only quiver violently as clawed hands held apart trembling thighs-]

"No!" She blurted harshly, painfully, feeling a shiver roll down the length of her spine, as her hands grasped at her bare arms, trying to warm them. She took in a shaky breath, her body racking with the echo of that single memory, her eyes widening impossibly wide as her gaze hesitantly met his.

"That…can't be it." She murmured with barely suppressed horror, praying vehemently that the chain had made a mistake, that there was something wrong, because- that couldn't be right it wasn't-

"Onna there are no mistakes." He murmured calmly, his emerald eyes unfazed. "That is your requirement."

"That…" she began with pure disbelief as everything inside of her rolled and quivered and came to a standstill as she lost all semblance of thought. "That-" she began again, feeling her throat dry and choke over the words.

That- [pain so intense- that it was no longer pain. It was pleasure, raw pleasure, beyond her comprehension, beyond her ability to comprehend-]

"That is….my requirement?" she finished simply, dully as if she couldn't even begin to comprehend the words. She an feel the flush of her cheeks, the frantic pounding of her heart, threatening to burst from her chest. She fumbled for words, for anything to say to give him pause, to give her time to think.

"Surely there is another way, there must be-"

"Onna." He cut her off abruptly, emerald eyes cold as they focused on the rapidly draining color in her cheeks. "There is no alternative. That is your requirement."

"But-" she began immediately, as she felt all of the blood leave her face. It was warm in here, too warm she couldn't- she didn't want that again she didn't know if she could live through that experience as she was now, fully conscious…aware. The thought alone in any form, made her body tremble in a way that she was not sure she understood- her dreams, her fantasies had been one thing- that time in the cold dark, enchained had been another matter. He had done that to break her, to unnerve her, to unwind her and she- she should have hated it, hated him for what the callous touch had meant. He had wanted to break her. She didn't want to remember that- the skilled prodding of his fingers against her, the way he hadn't said a word- the way she had struggled to smother her sounds, the way she had trembled, the way she had wanted to run away to-

-She ran from the thought of that, the shameful thought of the wicked part of her that had-

-she ran from it, willing it away. That time beneath the shadow of his wings was one she could barely recall, as if it were some forgotten memory, some hazy nightmare. Surreal, unreal, foreign and unknown so that the feeling was not sharp and clear but faded and hazy. Regardless of whether or not her feeble human mind could recall it, her body had known what that meant. Her body would never forget.

She ground her thighs together, drawing in a hasty breath. To him this was nothing- nothing but a necessary tribulation to reach an end. He did not do this thing because he loved her, because he cared for her. He did this to feed, to sate a hunger that he did not even want to admit existed, he did this to use her, and her traitorous body for his own gain. There was nothing to be had in it, in this. There was nothing here for her but…the cold of his hands.

She held herself tighter, tying to remember how to breathe. Trying to remember that this was merely another exploitation of her feelings, trying to remember that there was no feeling or love in this, only need. She tried to remember that as she felt her body growing warm, tried to remember that as she felt another shiver wrack her frame.

"I….I don't want that." The words came from her lips so quietly she wondered if he heard them. She shivered, daring herself not to look at him, praying that he would think of this as a request and not an act of defiance. Hoping he would let this go, give her time to-

"Onna." But his voice was clear, sharp. Commanding. "You no longer have a choice."

He had not forced her…not then. She told him, in a voice with far less command- that she still had to go to class. Saying nothing, quietly- he had left her, leaving her to her turbulent thoughts. That had been almost worse. The silence of that empty kitchen, his gift still lying cold and silver on the table where he had placed it. Maybe there was nothing to say. His emerald eyes had said enough, had promised far more than was ever said.

The rest of her afternoon had passed like a dream, a hazy nightmare in which she was half awake, half alive. She came to class late and out of breath, her cheeks flushed with a heat that was not the blood of fatigue on her face. They noticed immediately- but they said nothing, brushing it off as being a product of her running to class. She wished that had been it.

But she collapsed in her desk, her legs giving out from under her like they were soggy wet noodles that could barely contain her weight. Boneless, as if she lacked the strength to support herself. She shivered, her entire body trembling as if she were cold- but she was warm, hot, growing hotter still. She sucked in heady gasps of air, fanning herself, wondering at the sweat beginning to perspire against the column of her neck and trailing down the front of her shirt. With trembling hands she unbuttoned the top button, pressing feverish hands against the newly exposed flesh of her collarbone, the biting heat of her own palms nearly scorching her.

Stop it.

She thought clearly, as her hand briefly skimmed the outline of her collarbones, delicately smoothing over her skin. She shifted her legs, willing her mind to concentrate, willing her mind to focus on her work, on the pencil in her hand, on the words she was supposed to be writing, noting that her vision was fading and-

-how she wanted the welcoming feel of cold hands against her skin, because she was burning, she was on fire, she was a newly kindled blaze and she-

Stop it.

-but her hand wouldn't listen to her, splayed palm running hurriedly over the length of her chest, feeling her breasts ache within their confines. She sucked in a breath, leaning forward, her face flushed and trembling as her traitorous hand dipped beneath her shirt. Smoothing against the smooth flesh of her abdomen, feeling the softness of the muscles there. Fingers- drifting lazily around the delicate waistband of her skirt-


-Her grip on the pencil in her hand tightened to the point of pain, biting the now sweating flesh of her palm. And her hand- dipped beneath the waistband of her skirt, a single finger between cloth and skin, her muscles twitching beneath her hand as she-

The cold, cold hand, seared against the smooth expanse of skin revealed beneath her skirt. The hand. On her thigh. Cold. Drawing upwards, drawing upwards, drawing-

Stopitstopitstopitstopit STOP IT!

-but that traitorous hand skimmed along the waistband of her skirt, her heart pounding, her chest tightening, breathing deeply, breathing deeply, her face in flames as that hand was burning, burning as it dipped lower and she sucked in a breath-

-And his hand was against her. There was no mercy, no love, no compassion, no pity, as he ground his palm against her. Ground his palm against her clothed center, looking at her with that edge to his eyes, that immovable frown, that impassive face as he ground his palm against her as if it were nothing, as if it were nothing-


And her hand was feverishly delving deeper, going lower, her fingers dancing like hot coals across her skin, her fingers dancing and firm and -

And the cold of his hands against her heated flesh, pressed against her aching need, pulling and pulling and pressing, and she couldn't see she was blind, she couldn't think she was dumb, she couldn't-

- her fingers seared against her, and she nearly went to jelly in her seat, her toes curling in her shoes, the breath leaving her lungs, the breath swooshing out of her and she couldn't stop it, it was, it was-

And that dark tide was rising, rising, rising-

And something called her name somewhere between almost there almost there and green eyes telling her to let go and she-

And that dark tide was rising, on the edge of black water, her flesh covered in cold hands pale as snow, bathed in black against her skin, making her squirm, making her-

No! She screamed at amber suns and emerald stones, at clutching hands and the shadow of wings. This wasn't right, this wasn't fair he couldn't just do that! He couldn't! But the cold ghost of the shadow held her hand, drew it downward, drew it against her as if it had been his- as if it were him doing this-

Stopitstopit! This isn't him! Control yourself! You have to-

But the heat of her hands was lost in the cold of his and she bit back a moan as she rolled against her fingertips, aching and wet and she-


And the spell was breaking but not too soon not yet she wanted the end she wanted release she wanted more she wanted pleasure she wanted-


"STOP IT!" She screamed aloud, violently leaping from her desk, throwing the traitorous hand from her, visibly trembling, her face flushed in pure disbelief at what had just happened. She is a sweating, achy mess, a bundle of horror and need, her face one of sheer disbelief that for one moment for a single moment she had- she had almost-


She came to herself, standing up at the back of the class, a dozen curious eyes cutting her to pieces. She shivered, trembling and disoriented, confused beyond belief, struggling to see through the haze, through the night- was this real? She blinked her haggard eyes, the world around her spinning in and out of focus. A mix of blank faces, and colorless walls. Was this real?

"Orihime…?" The professor called to her, his bespectacled eyes kind- worried. Real. "Are you…alright?"

She blinked hastily, struggling to comprehend, barely registering the words he was speaking. She couldn't think- she couldn't focus - she stumbled on her feet, trembling hands probing throbbing temples- she was-


But he called her Onna, with cold eyes and frigid hands. He called her Onna, the woman no one else saw, the woman no one else knew- and she was Onna of the traitorous flesh, of the twisted fantasies, the fore lorn desires. And he knew her. In any form he knew her and she could not hide. He called her Onna and she-

She stumbled forward as the world spun, the floor rushing up to meet her as her legs collapsed and she blacked out.

She dreamt feverishly, tossing and turning, her skin flushed and burning as if she slept on a bed of hot coals, scorching against her skin so that she could almost smell the scent of singed hair and flesh. She babbled in slumber of things both strange and bizarre, as if even her delusional fantasies took precedence over her own personal wishes.

But he walked into the nurses office where she lay, shifting and turning on the white cot, pure white against the heat of her flushed skin, pure white behind sunset colored hair, beneath bare legs. Her hands clutched insistently against the fabric, as if her nails were clawing at bare skin with the intent to bleed, strangled sounds in her throat. Her eyebrows were furrowed, sweat beginning to run down the column of her neck, dotting her fevered brow. She rolled against the white like a woman possessed, her legs squirming and rolling beneath her, her hands reaching for something she could not find.

But all of this passed in a moment that did not matter as he entered the room, turning the card on the outside from Open to Closed, silently locking the door behind him. He turned off the light, the harsh electric light annoyed him. He stepped towards her with brisk, certain strides, his hands in his pocket as he stood at her bedside, watching her turn fitfully in sleep.

The Fool. He thought clearly as he watched her toss in complete abandon, with complete agony. She had learned nothing from the first time. Just like before, her body was trapped in a state of warfare lingering on the border of pleasure, consumed with an acute pain. He should let her suffer- surely the lesson would be well learned. Surely she would understand the nature of their relationship now. This had transcended far beyond her naïve fantasies, her foolish desires. The reality of her quivering form in this moment, burning from within, was the fruit of her own misguided beliefs, her own delusional love, her ill-founded words. He had told her she would no longer have the illusion of choice, and yet she had persisted, had continued to resist. He was not a man to tell lies. She was free to hold this off as long as she could, but he would let her learn firsthand the price of such foolishness.

He hungered. And until he had fed, until she relented, until she submitted, she would be caught in this agony, in this torment. The sooner she realized this was a matter that was non-negotiable, the better. He had warned here, that she could no longer entertain the allusion of choice. He cared not for her torment, he cared not for her pain. These were things she had chosen for herself. Now she would have to face them.

For a moment more he watched her- before he followed her into the darkness.

The chains- were choking her. The harsh bite of rusted steel, cutting into the delicate skin of her bare arms, encasing her wrists, her ankles-she couldn't breathe past the heavy iron around her throat. Around her abdomen-growing tighter. Around her thighs-tighter still. Across her chest, along the arch of her back, the flare of her hips- tighter and tighter- to cut her in half, to slice her to pieces she-

-she couldn't breathe! She was choking, reeling in this darkness and bound so tightly she couldn't move. She couldn't do anything but suffer this torment, the ache of a pain so intense that it made her jump violently against her bonds. Pulling tighter, drawing tighter and tighter-

And then he was there, a cold shadow of ice and winter ghosting around her form in flames and- haggard eyes, dazed and confused with the force of her pain, begged him for salvation, begged him for release, begged him for-

"Do you understand now Onna?" he asked her coldly. And she reached for him with frail hands, reached for him with bound hands as the tears poured without shame from her weary eyes.

He sighed from some wordless part of himself as he spirited near her, and the cold of his hand that suddenly pressed against her neck, against her burning flesh, made her scream, made her stomach knot up, made the tension in her body coil up to the point of bursting as he pushed her into the darkness, as the chains turned to ash around her and she-

-seemed to fall back into her body with a gasping heave of a breath, a moment before she opened her mouth to scream, the sound a garbled mess of cry and horror in the back of her throat. She rolled onto her side, a mass of quivering, trembling limbs, her body rolling violently against the white, her hands clawing holes into the sheet as she bit the pillow and screamed.

"I warned you Onna." He coolly observed her from above as she writhed against the bed, the pillow quickly growing wet from her tears. But nothing he could have said could have prepared her for this, nothing on earth could have prepared her for this- as if her entire body had been wound in a corkscrew, stretched to bursting, tightening and tightening and set aflame. The pain was so deeply ingrained in her soul, so mind consuming that she could not describe it, a pain like the night overtaking her, a pain like black fire devouring her alive, a frantic pain that snatched her breath to even sob, to even scream.

A pain that made her body wind and wind and wind in circles, a never-ending cycle of torment, a pain like falling into a bottomless abyss from which she could not escape- but it was not the pain of spilt blood and torn flesh. This pain was deeper, deeper rooted so deep into her psyche that she could not find her way out, a pain like chains pulling her into pieces, a pain like-

"Onna." He began quietly, as if he wanted her to listen- as if he expected her to listen. "You know what must be done to make it stop."

She tried to get the breath to scream, the breath to do anything but tremble, to do anything but writhe against the white, reduced to nothing but raw muscle, some lump of flesh being torn asunder- and she would have done anything, said anything, suffered anything, died twice over if it would spare her from this if he would spare her from this-

'PLEASE!' She screamed aloud in her mind, the depth of her agony echoing along the length of the chain. 'ANYTHING BUT THIS! ANYTHING BUT-'

He was silent. Her hazy, haggard eyes could not focus, could see nothing but darkness. So when cold hands caught the burning flesh of her flailing wrists, she almost screamed anew at the suddenly intense cold of him against her flesh. The welcoming contrast was so intense that it brought a fresh wave of tears to her eyes. She bit harshly into the delicate flesh of her lip, tasting blood. Instinctively she jerked violently on her hands to snatch them from him, anything to get away from that cold- but that stone grip was unbreakable, immovable. Deftly, he tied her flailing wrists together behind her back, before she used them to claw herself to pieces. He put one cold hand under her knees, another behind her head, rolling her over into his arms. She hissed at the cold of his grip, the cold of his arms painful, and she squirmed in his grasp, her bound hands clutching violently at the open air as he sat her upright on a near by surface. She struggled to sit upright, her body swaying from side to side drunkenly as her body trembled, her vision fading in and out as her eyes feverishly tried to track him in the gloom.

'What is he doing...?' she thought sluggishly, the intense ache of her body robbing her of coherent thought. She blinked, struggling to focus as she noticed him moving, lifting a chair and placing it before her. She sucked in a few shaking breaths, vainly trying to focus through the haze and the torment- 'What...what is he doing...?'

He was silent, his eyes blank and unreadable as he seated himself carefully in front of her. For a moment he merely sat there, his emerald eyes surveying her from the tip of her head- emerald eyes drifting lazily down the length of her legs. He stared at her, writhing on the table, her body rocking, her eyes unfocused, her skin tinged from the sweat of her efforts. For a moment he watched her. The way haggard eyes tried to see him through the fog, reddened cheeks and parted lips. He watched her. And somehow...the depths of that gaze was comforting. For a single moment the pain seemed to subside, dulling to a point she could almost bear, as she wearily met his eyes.

She tried to find words to say something- anything- when suddenly he stilled, lowering his head into his hands. In that single moment- everything ceased- the pain left her body so suddenly, so completely she could not begin to explain it, her body nearly sagging forward in relief and fatigue. Spent and disoriented, her eyelids fluttered in an attempt to focus her clearing vision, confusion etched into the lines of her face. 'Why…what did he do? Why…has the pain stopped? 'Was this…another aspect of the chain she had not forseen- could he also control this pain at will? Or was it-

'No.' She thought suddenly, as a shiver of something she could not explain raced down her spine as he continued to lean into his palm. He would have wanted her to know, to have tasted that pain, so that she would know the folly of resisting. He had wanted her to know, so she would know the futility of escape. He had wanted her to know so that she would do anything to stop it from happening again. And it had stopped because-

-he lowered his palm from his face, and she sucked in a shaky breath, her eyes widening. And in the following silence she could hear her heart stop. The irises of his eyes were dying amber, the sclera pitch black. Her entire being seemed to shrink back, wanting to pull away from the barely restrained force in that gaze, the callous illusion of strength that echoed in their depths. She could almost taste the darkness as she lost herself in them, could almost feel the shadow of wings.

"You." She whispered quietly, broken in the darkness, uncertain of what that single word had meant, if it meant anything at all.

Those hooded eyes looked up at her in the gloom, gleaming so intently that she lost the will to breathe. Those eyes that knew her- and she knew in that moment why the pain had stopped. Her heart seemed to halt in her chest as she remembered the frantic thought, yelled to the breaking point within the confines of her mind. Wanting anything but this pain, giving anything to be released from it. Dread made her limbs heavy, her eyes wide as she felt her throat lock up. Her consent.

"No." she whispered quietly, murmuring in the dark as she drew back, a futile attempt to get away from the promise in that gaze. "Please. I d-didn't-"

He did not speak, but amber eyes spoke volumes as they stared unblinking into her eyes, reminding her of the folly of resistance. Onna. You no longer have a choice.

Cold hands closed around her ankles, dragging her forward abruptly, so quickly she had no time to think as she was pulled to the edge of the desk. Cold hands were firm, tight around the small of her waist, sitting her upright so that amber eyes could stare up into her face through inky black bangs. She couldn't think fast enough, couldn't get herself together fast enough, her heart beginning to sprint in her chest.

"Please Ulquiorra." Again. Try again! " M-Murci-" the name, ancient and old, caught in her throat. She murmured brokenly, pathetically, resisting the urge to sniffle as she felt the leaking remainders of her tears pave a new path down her already wet cheeks. "T-There has to be another way. I-I didn't-" She hadn't understood before, when in her ignorance she had dreamed idly of him in a way that only a sexually repressed and naïve young girl could. She had not known then what it meant, could only dream of the joy of sharing herself with someone she loved. But without that love she craved- there was nothing but hollow emptiness in the thought of this. And she knew with an ever sickening tingle of her trembling limbs, of the goose bumps breaking out along the length of her skin- that she wouldn't be able to deny him. She couldn't deny him. Even if she had loathed him with everything in her being she could not- stop this.

Amber eyes stared without pause into her eyes, like dying stars. She knew he saw it- the urge to resist, to fight, fumble weakly on her lips, defiantly in her eyes. Before it faded away with resignation, as she grew quiet with acceptance.

"Onna." He stated, the dark of his voice magnified in the dim of the office, so that her throat went dry, all words leaving her as she bit into the flesh of her lip. Lazily his eyes followed the motion with an intensity that made her shudder.

Not once did that amber gaze leave her eyes, lost in the dark of the black- and with a speed that startled her, his hand was beneath her skirt, drawing the black silk down the length of her legs with a whisper like promise. Her blood ran cold. Her face flushed instinctively, her thighs attempted to snap shut- her eyes beginning to water anew when cold hands cruelly kept them apart.

"I don't want this. I…Ulquiorra I don't want this." She began to plead, struggling in vain with her bound wrists, assaulted with the fresh thoughts of this was not allowed, her chest wracking with another shudder, her legs trembling from the lazy force of his grip- Cold hands against her knees. It was only the length of her skirt that saved her from prying eyes- but for how long? She thought with renewed horror, wishing with all her might that she could close her eyes and will herself away.

Amber eyes watched her attentively, with an intensity and devotion that she could sense as he analyzed the rapidly shifting expressions on her face. For a moment those amber suns winked at her, with a wordless silence that she could not even begin to fathom.

"I do not understand you Onna. To what ends do you deny that which you crave? Is this not everything you have desired in that frail heart of yours?" He murmured softly against the exposed flesh of her thigh, hands cold against her knees, amber eyes searching, smoldering up the exposed length of her legs. She couldn't breathe.

"It is foolish to feign ignorance. I know how you have longed for it. The cold of my hands. The chill of my lips...but why is it now...that you deny it?"

She couldn't think as the chill of his words whispered against the exposed length of her leg, making her breath hitch and her heart thrum painfully in her chest. This was not real- this was not real and this was not happening. With a swift motion that left her breathless he lifted her ankles, casually draping a leg over each of his narrow shoulders. Stop it. Words wavering on the edge of her lips, in the tears in her eyes. Stop it Stop it Stop it.

"Answer me Onna." The dragon murmured with eyes that smoldered like hell fire, his claws whispering delicately up the length of her smooth legs, his venomous tongue murmuring against the skin of her knee. The cold of his lips against the warmth of her flesh made her shudder. This was happening. And there was nothing she could do to stop it, nothing she could do besides lay prone on the table and accept her irreparable fate.

"You...you don't love me." She murmured brokenly in the darkness, willing the void in his chest to sweep her away, wounded gray eyes lighting along the length of the chain wrapped around his hands.

"Ah...again…this 'Love'." The dragon stated, the dark in his eyes magnified to the point of pain. She knew what the man thought of the notion- to him it was nothing more than a weakness to be exploited, to be abused and taken advantage of. Emerald eyes viewed her love as nothing more than a stain on the blight of his existence, a necessary burden to get what he desired, to sate a need he did not want to willingly acknowledge. But amber eyes dying in black- glanced up at her from beneath hooded lashes, eyes cold and empty as the void, as the cold in his chest. But beneath that was- claws drawing gently up the length of bare legs. A cold whisper of more. A beast who cared for the dream of a flower.


Emerald eyes had tossed it casually, cruelly, as if it had been nothing more than necessary filth. But amber eyes gazed into hers with a strange, unfathomable wordlessness. Those amber eyes that knew her like no one had known her, nor would since. She couldn't breathe, throat dry as she stared back into amber eyes with something like stunned awe, a bird paralyzed by the eyes of a snake. 'Will you tell me once more then Onna? Will you show me what this love is?' words were whispered darkly against the shell of her ear, tingling, breath like a cold wind making her entire body shiver. Even though he was silent, had not moved, his eyes searching and dark as they stared into her eyes. 'Let us see the depth of your devotion Onna. Let us see the proof of this so called love. You claimed to love the monster clothed in the flesh of man. If you want our favor…then do not disappoint us Onna.'

'What-' She never got to finish the thought. He lowered his head.

Her eyes seemed to open fully, seeing all of him in one endless moment. Seeing the dark of amber, the lust like dying stars in his eyes, the whisper of his tongue along the length of cold lips. He lowered his head between pale thighs. Dumbly she sat stock still, her entire body rigid, frozen with some sick sense of anticipation that she could not deny, her heart thrumming so loudly in her ears she could not hear the sounds of her own ragged breath.

"Murci-"-there is the whisper of his breath, cold against the scorching heat of all that she was. The cold force of his hands, wrapped around her thighs, holding her captive. The first tremble as her entire body leaped nervously beneath him, worried and anxious, the way her legs quivered in the moment before, face flushed and flooded with warmth. She sat rigid from the force of her disbelief, her shock and awe, the moment this isn't happening colliding with the deepest depth of some fantasy she had never allowed to see the light of day. She felt it again- standing on the edge of some nameless shore, watching the dark tide coming for her, a tidal wave called chaos, dragging her under a sea of lust. Words betrayed her- the feeble things seemed weak in her throat, dropping from her lips like silent whispers, like forgotten prayers.'Please….don't make me do this.'

A murmur of something against her thigh. A dark chuckle of something she could not name.

His tongue was nothing like the chill of his lips, his skin. Hot- Hot as the flames of hell, scorching, drawing a blazing trail of warmth against the flesh of her thigh, tasting her briefly. She jumped violently in his grasp, using every ounce of force she had to rip her legs from his grasp, to free her hands, to leap from the table and run screaming out of the door. In her distress she bit her tongue so fiercely that she could taste the copper tinged flavor of her own blood. She felt dizzy from the heat of the blood roaring to her cheeks, as if every last drop of it was boiling beneath her skin. She forced her eyes closed, throwing herself into the dark with an abandon that did not save her.

'This is not real. This is not real. This. Is. Not-'-being ripped from the solace of her thoughts by the warmth of his tongue, stroking against the inside of her thigh, tasting the flesh there. She sucked in a ragged intake of breath, biting on her lips to hold back the sounds aching against the back of her throat.

Burning warmth, a rough fearsome heat- lapped against the smooth expanse of her flesh, mapping the skin with a torturously slow pace. Her hands fisted violently on the wooden table beneath her, nails drawing ragged, peeling trails against its surface. In the dim, lost in the gloom she could hear the sound of them, feel the splinters beginning to bite against the pad of her fingertips. The very edge of reality seemed to rise and fall, the horizon appearing and vanishing in a moment so surreal and profound it had no equal.

His tongued tasted her slowly, tortuously slowly- she fought his grip in vain, the heat in her face and the fire in her veins. She prayed he wouldn't, he wouldn't- but he placed a dark kiss against the smooth skin there, and she could feel the venom in his fangs.

The claws freed by his tongue- a single talon- drew up the length of her slit, whispering with a force that was anything but gentle. She nearly rocked herself from the desk, bent at the waist over him, struggling to draw in a breath as she gasped aloud, the sudden action sending electricity rocking throughout every part of her body. She choked on a scream, arms flailing, reaching for him- to push him away- to pull him away-hands held still by the bonds wrapped around her wrists.

Those cold lips closed against her, searing ice against the hottest part of her, the comparison blowing her mind to the wind. She threw her head back without shame, hair whipping against her cheeks from the sheer violence of the action as she toppled onto her back with a strangled moan, her back arching off of the surface of the desk, fire exploding beneath her flesh. She screamed without restraint as those cold lips pressed against her, drawing greedily against her, the cold lips pressed against her as if he wanted to devour her whole. She thrashed wildly in her bonds, screaming, her fingernails biting viciously into the flesh of her palm. Like a forgotten mantra lost in the past, his name arose within her, leaping from her lips like a prayer.

Who was this? What was this being between her spread thighs, as if they were her own? She drew in another breath and screamed anew, as he sucked at the core of her fiercely, without passion nor love, but cold hard need. She forgot the whisper Of more- it was drowning in the tide. Rising, rising, rising- culminating in the dark, echoing coldly in her mind.

'Remember well Onna. You were never his to claim.'

She stood before the door, hand raised- hesitant. She had always been a woman of action, of straight talk- no chaser- someone who meant what they said and wasn't afraid to let everyone else know it. But it had been a damn long time since she had been like this- trembling and anxious , struck by some crippling anxiety that wouldn't even allow her to take a single step.

'Stupid idiot! All you have to do is fucking check in on her! She's been out for two days`and the last time you spoke with her alone you made her feel like shit just because she looked nice! Last night was awkward…you at least owe her a damn apology! And if nothing else that is your best friend in there and she just passed out for fuck's sake!'

She'd heard of the whole thing after classes had been changed- how Orihime had been acting strange all class period, barely registering the professor vying for her attention, and her sudden scream the moment before she had collapsed. Orihime creating an outburst in class was nothing new- in many ways she had held onto many of the peculiar traits she had been known for from her high school days. She always had the tendency to be scatter brained, air headed, and prone to random outbursts. But this one had been different. Something was…wrong with her. And although she had waved away their worries and placated their fears in that gentle, easy going way that only she could- she knew bullshit when she heard it. She didn't know what it was...but she could sense it. Her usually vacant, day-dreamer eyes, her flushed cheeks- had been replaced with shadows and hollows. She was still herself but…there was more… it was….too hard to explain. The first time she had lain her hand on Orihime's head to straighten her wild mane- something cold had settled in her chest, something that had made her immediately snatch her hand back. Her palm…burned. It was…something like…

She paused as the resemblance struck her.

Because she had only seen him once.

Grimmjow could make anyone feel fucked up with only a stare. Nel and Harribel were unsettling but the times she had seen them were rare and far in-between. Yammy was a massive shit head, but his idiocy made him somewhat relatable. And with Nnoitra she could not fully fear a man who chased after ass so openly and shamelessly, with such aggression that it made bile catch in her throat.

But she had only seen him once.

And she would never forget. The cold. Thinking, 'what the fuck are you? How the fuck could that be allowed? How on earth could someone be allowed to feel like that? Like-' she shuddered, hating the way her heart leapt in her chest.

She was just fucked up because she may have singlehandedly ruined the only friendship she had worth protecting to the end. May have ruined the most amazing thing that had ever happened to her. And she…she couldn't let it go without a fight.

'You have to do this. You can do this.'

She motioned to open the door, surprised to find it would not budge. She paused at this, wondering at the clearly displaced 'Closed' sign. 'That fucking nurse….did she leave Orihime in here by herself to go on a fucking smoke break?' She sighed, thanking the stars that her status as a Committee member granted her access to all kinds of privileges, including a master key. She placed it in the lock, turning it and was rewarded with a satisfying 'click'. Cursing the nurse's incompetence she pushed open the door, and it cracked open slightly on silent hinges. She enters the room, shutting the door behind her, surprised at the dark and gloom that meets her eyes. It takes a moment of owlish, rapid blinking to clear the dots from her vision, to adjust to the darkness. And she finds-





She stands there.

Frozen- as amber eyes glance at her lazily from between creamy thighs. Grey eyes are half lidded and hazy, her cheeks streaked with tears. Her cheeks are flushed with a shame she could not contain, drawing harsh ragged breaths. Their are pale hands wrapped tightly around her spread legs, holding her captive.

She can't…breathe.

She can't….think.

Amber. She is blinded by the cold of amber. Struck by that empty dispassionate gaze, filled with nothing but darkness. Eying her with something far too deep, far too dismal to be mere displeasure. A callous arrogance.

And he….did not stop.

He watched her. Eyes wide Tatsuki finds herself, disconnected, some disembodied frail wisp of a thing, watching him watch her. 'This can't be real.' She thinks, in utter awe at the strange flutter of horror, of panic whispering in her ear, robbing her of breath. 'This….this can't be real.'

But he watched her.

He watched her…watch him drink from her. And he watched her eyes- the way they stared without blinking into half lidded gray eyes with a quiet, anxious dread. It is deeper than that, stronger- her hands are empty by her sides, black eyes wide even though Orihime fills her gaze until that is all she can see.

Flushed cheeks, panting, half opened lips. Dull gray eyes that do not see her standing there- that can see nothing but him. "Ul-Ulq-" she pants aloud, a breathless moan she does not have the strength to finish. Gray eyes see nothing but him as she stands there, empty and worthless in the shadows. But amber eyes watch her, for a moment. Amber eyes know her. And they read the dismay, the disgust, the despair in her eyes for what it truly is- defeat. Failure.

Amber eyes burn into hers, but he does not waver, nor pause in his task. He brings her closer. She is bent over him, her entire body trembling, leaping spasmodically in his grip. There are times when she half breathes his name, moans it silently, smothers it in her throat. There are times when she is unable to form words, eyes blank, mouth open as he continues. There is a moment where Tatsuki asks herself if this is real again. There is a moment where she asks herself if she is dreaming. There is a moment where she tells herself this cannot be real. There is a moment where she tells herself she is caught between horizons, lost in a nightmare-

-grey eyes leap open. Her entire body goes rigid in his grasp. Gray eyes open impossibly wide, filled with something like shock, and something else she dares not name. She screams violently, silently, a scream devoid of sound. She watches, sick with fascination, with disgust as she watches Orihime's entire body lock up, her mouth forming a perfect little 'o' from which nothing escapes. Amber eyes leave her then- turning back to Orihime as if she is of no consequence. As if the act is so commonplace that even her presence, intrusive and unwanted, is worth less than nothing. As if all of this is worth less than nothing. As if-

But those amber eyes watch Orihime from beneath the black of his bangs. They watch the way her body bends and leaps and opens for him, like a flower. Amber eyes watch the way her entire body unwinds, unfolds, breaks in his grasp. And she watches as in this moment Orihime- the only girl she had ever truly loved, her dearest friend- is swept away to a place she knows she will never be able to follow.

Orihime comes back to herself slowly, her entire body glowing, flushed and pink from the after math. Dull gray eyes fumble, unfocused and hazy as she blinks slowly to clear her vision, to blink away the tears. Gray meets amber- no words are said- as he casually disentangles his grip from around her gaping thighs. He licks his lips. He stares up at her as she struggles to compose herself, right her haggard breaths, regain her voice. He stares up at her with searching amber eyes- but it is the callous cold of emeralds that turn and find Tatsuki, still rooted to the spot.

And is in this moment that weary gray eyes follow his gaze- and first meet hers.

First there is confusion, and then- a horror, a pain so profound that she cannot speak. It is the first time in her life that she has seen the likes of it- gray eyes grow bright with panic, her entire face crumbling like ash in the wind. The cruelty of the moment is lost on them both as their eyes meet, and as emerald eyes casually stands, passing once more passing a tongue over his lips.

"Tatsuki?" She says it like she too, is dreaming- as if she's still lost in that strange place of release and pure bliss that had been on her face. "T-tatsuki?" she says it like she's afraid, like she's horrified, like she- but she can't bear to meet gray eyes. There is something warm rising in the back of her throat- bile. She feels sick, on the verge of emptying her stomach onto the floor. And like a broken record the image of flushed cheeks and wide eyes is lodged in her mind. There are emerald-or was it amber?- eyes staring coldly at her without shame. Eyes that had seen her, that had known her. Cruel. Cold. Those eyes that had watched her. Watched her focusing on every heaving breath of her chest, deaf to every moan, seeing nothing but the girl, writhing in his grasp.

No…seeing the woman writhing in his grasp- but she could only think of the girl. Wide gray eyes, a gap in her two front teeth. Using grubby hands to pull the girl to her feet when she fell. The sound of her laughter. Standing beside her on the morning train to make sure the perverts wouldn't touch her. Making every boy that vied for her affection first go through her own fists. Watching out for her every step of the way. Doing what she could to protect that innocence she adored, that youthful naiveté she never wanted to see ruined. And the feeling, of all of that, shattering to the ground around her.

"Tatsuki!" Fear, horror. She could hear the tears now, clogging her throat.

"No." without thinking, falling from her lips. "Don't call me like she used to." Who are you? Who was she talking to? The gray eyed woman or the girl she had loved? Anger, hard and pulsing in her chest. Glaring with unbridled rage into emerald eyes. "What…what the fuck have you done to her? What have you done to Orihime?" Angry, angry, angry, feeling her pulse begin to pound, to throb. Her blood beginning to boil, her vision blurring, the hot bite of hate in her throat. Fucking emerald eyes. "I asked you what the fuck have you done to her! How dare you! How dare you ruin her!"

"Tatsuki!" The scream. "Wait Tatsuki!"

Reeling on the girl so violently it made her head spin. "No! I won't let him have you! He can't have you! He can't! I-I-!" words so harsh in her throat they choke her, wound tight like the fists at her side. Her cheeks flushed- anger, rage, fear, all of it, all of it building into some point beyond reason, beyond control. It is-

"Ah…I see." Emerald eyes. Words so biting in their indifference they scorch her. "Onna." He murmurs casually, tossing the word to the wind. "This one is as easy to read as you. Her unnatural obsession with you will prove to be more than a little unfavorable. You would do well to cut such ties."

Just like that. Just like that. Years of hiding it. Years of sweeping her feelings under the rug, for the better, to protect her. Just like that. Years worth of her life, wrapped up in grey eyes and a wide smile. Just like that, thrown to the fucking wind. By cold eyes that didn't know shit about her, by cold eyes that watched her but didn't see a damn thing. Just like that. Just like that. Just like that-

She was running. She was sprinting across the floor, propelling her entire body forward, bringing the fist with her. Like flowing water, he flowed from around the blow. And with the back of a cold hand, he struck her across the face.

AN: Holy Shit it's been awhile! But here I am, back with a bang. Probably should have put a lime warning but this shit is clearly not for kids guys. Anywho back in action, with the intent to wrap this bad boy up this year. Thanks to everyone still reading, hope you like the chapter!