Sometimes, I feel like I could…

Moth wings fluttering; chasing the trace of radiance from a single candle, a suicidal insect with nothing to lose slams itself against the netting, sewn in iron, that cages Orihime in from the world.

A white hand zooms up, and whacks the flittering form into oblivion.

"Hey, there was a poem in that!" she sniffs, drawing closer to the bars of the window."He's the first face I've seen all day!"

"Sorry," a huffed voice replies. "The sound was making me crazy…" He is struggling to find an overhang by which to support his long, supple body. She spies his black eye, the endless iris of it and the pit of eternity that cannot separate them. There's a comfort in knowing that life is not something discarded in one passage of the bleak moon over a human lifetime; I mean, every girl dreams of living forever with the one they love. Would Ichigo find her, even in the timeless eons that follow when their souls pass on?

"Ichigo…I can't stand it here."

"You say that everytime I come here, Inoue-san."

"And then I ask you when you're going to take me home," she murmurs smilingly, cocking her head to investigate deeper into that bottomless, marmalade gaze. He nearly slips; she hears him skirt back, his gasp at the sudden loss of footing. She knows how it feels…but to be here and to be his, strangely, is almost worth the endless days of silence, of the glare of the barren white desert. "Your voice sounds a little better… are you getting over that cold? Did Yuzu make you some soup?"

"Ah, yes, she did… or maybe just laying eyes on you has helped me."

"So you have been back to the Human World?"

"Yes- everyone is fine," he assures her. He can hear her closing her eyes, the breath leaving the chest he knows is taut every day, even when he comes to calm the fears that roam, wild rhinocerouses, in the expanse of what she cannot see and feel. Orihime could not be more like a flower transplanted from their world, into this cruel one; and yet she stoically watches for him every day, asks of these people she loves with such a soul as he has never experienced. This is why he loves her, and this is why he risks everything to sneak to her window in the night. In this world of soulless ghosts, they have found one another.

"Tatsuki?"

"She's fine," he replies. The candlelight catches on her eyelashes, blinking like gaudy Christmas lights; they beckon him in, to reach out and touch the porcelain hand lain against her budding chest.

"Mizuho?"

"Just as well."

"Rangiku-san?"

"Busty as ever."

"What about Chad and Uryu? It seems like it's been ages… are they coming back to help you?"

"No," he whispers, light as moth wings. "They've abandoned you. They said it was hopeless, and they went home. But I couldn't- I can't let you go, no matter the threat. I'd risk my life for you every day…"

The world she looks out at (the black crack in the wall, his high cheekbone and the grim, reaper's eye that stares back at her, set in obsidian, unflinching-) is blurred by a single tear, a sentimental waste of water in the desert; but Orihime is overflowing, inside of this steel cage, and she wants him to break down this wall, shatter this window and save her; she wants him to never stop looking at her like this.

She wants him every minute of every day… but there is only so much one man can be.

"Take me home… please…"

"I can't-" he begins, but for the first time she cuts him off.

"No, Ichigo- I love you! I can't stay in this place another minute! My heart breaks every time you leave- if you can sneak in and out, why can't you take me with you!"

There is a long silence, unperforated by the cry of insects. Ichigo is holding the world in his palm, her fever-fire eyes holding everything in this world and beyond that he was meant to know.

"… You wouldn't want to come with me. Not me."

"Ichigo, we don't have time for this nonsen-"

"What do you love about me!" he snarls, a question barely blanketing a desperate plea; her fingers release the metal strip that hangs between their faces, everything mollifying. Now it is he who needs comforting.

"… I love your heart most of all: how you leap to the aid of someone who's hurting, how you throw yourself into combat and training… You are a person who has to conceal so much to protect others, and yet you never complain. I love your strength. Things have made you the person you are now, horrible things- but you've become a hero instead of letting being orphaned rule you. I love everything about you…"

"Even my secrets?"
"Even your secrets," she prays. She brushes her fingers against the gap, inviting him to reach out, once and for all, to touch her and bridge this connection that seems beyond life and death.

… He does.

She shrieks when the pale, spidery hand snakes out and pats her own, the necrotic fingernails of an inverted, unholy being; her mouth is wide with horror as someone sweeps down from above and blows her phantom away. He doesn't even try to dodge the kick; he simply lands in a heap one story below, crumpled and crumbling. The light screams onto him, casting the white of his reanimated flesh shadowed against the sunless sand.

"Well," Kaname concedes, stepping into the harsh circle. He slams his foot against the man's face once more, to pin him to the ground like a helpless moth. Ulquiorra flinches, but has no strength left to fight his way out of this. To be purposeless is one thing; to be completely repulsed is yet another. To be turned down, declared unacceptable and a demon of wrong intent- these are a few more.

"Seems like Rapunzel's prince won't be mooning at her tower for much longer," this sightless apparition declares, unsheathing his blade. One clean cut; one declaration; one swat ends the loveless aught and anger, struggling in vain to seek, through the smallest crevice, the warmth he deserves.

Just like a moth, Orihime thinks as the blade comes down on Ulquiorra's pale neck.

Could they find each other again- would they be Fated to,