disclaimer: not mine.
dedication: to sonya (my middle-aged child), les (my wife), and jeremy (my almost-boyfriend).
notes: i hate being sick. so. much.
notes2: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH NNOITRA/NEL IN THIS WORLD, OKAY.

title: cyanide sweet tooth
summary: In which there is no such thing as an exception. Nnoitra, Neliel, and ten thousand days worth of regret.

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She's coughing, and then there's crimson flowers blooming on her hands. She looks up at him from where she was kneeling, hazel eyes empty. There is a sword through her stomach, and he can see, he could see her hands. It looks like she's wearing red gloves, red, and they were small, so small, and:

she makes my fucking blood boil, he thinks, because he doesn't know any better. He doesn't know how to tell her that he hates her

(probably because he doesn't, he just doesn't know it yet),

so much that it hurts.

He stands above her, that day, Santa Teresa over his shoulder, glinting violence incarnate, Szayel's pink hair just beyond her field of vision, and Nnoitra hates her.

He grabs her hands, her red hands, red hands, and pulls her up. She stares at a spot left of his ear, and Nnoitra hates her, god, he fucking hates her, he really, really does. He hates her, with her wide hazel eyes, and her fairy-green hair, and her – her – her body, and he really fucking hates her, okay?

This is how it ends:

Nnoitra stares down at the beaten-bloody child that is Neliel Tu Odelschwanck, and tells himself that he feels nothing but satisfaction.

That is how it ends.

(Only not really, because she's getting better at not dying on him, and he's getting worse at lying to himself. It kind of ticks him off, but he can't just kill her himself – he's been damned from before the word Go.

So maybe it is the start, not the end. Nnoitra refuses to acknowledge that.)

…–…

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She comes back, and kills him.

Nnoitra didn't realize that Fate was such a bitch.

Neliel just stands there, tall and regal and fuck, he hates her so fucking much. Neliel just stands there above him, all fair-skin-brown-eyes-blue-green-hair, and looks sad.

Nnoitra hates her for that, too.

He really, really despises her—

The world goes black, and Nnoitra doesn't think anymore.

…–…

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Second chances are less then easy to come by.

But first:

The memories come.

They're in the desert, alone. Hueco Mundo is always empty, always. Nnoitra is bloody and bleeding, and he's so close, so close, bending over her body. He touches the sides of her face, and it's almost like he's cupping her cheeks. But Nel can feel the bruising already, and she really, really wants to run him through. There is nothing civil about this touch, nothing loving.

There is nothing about Nnoitra Jiruga that Neliel Tu Odelschwanck approves of. Despite this, she will not kill him, as much as she sometimes wishes.

She will not kill that which is weaker then her, but part of Nel is frightened by this wild, dangerous Espada, with this angry, angry smile and those angry, angry eyes. He has nothing to stop him, nothing to bring him up short, and his lack of discretion worries Nel. It always has.

But.

She does not care for him.

But he bends over her. His expression is more intense then anything Nel has ever seen before. It is rage, but not. It is hatred, but not. It is passion and aggression and wrath, wrapped up in tense, tightly-coiled male muscle. She can see the emotions seething in his eyes, writhing and uncontrollable.

And this is why Nel is not surprised when he crashes his lips against hers.

He kisses her the way he treats her at the best of times, and at the worst, too. It is violent, and there is nothing happy about it. It is not pretentious. It is frustration. Nel tastes blood and sweat and salt, both his and hers.

She thinks that if she could cry, she would.

They stand in the middle of the desert, and she allows him to kiss her until he is shaking with suppressed want.

Nel takes two steps backwards, and smiles at him in a distraught way. She links her hands behind her back to keep him from seeing that she's trembling. He will not see that he affects her; because he does not (but then, Nel Is In Denial. It is not a new experience for her).

They are both weak, weak, weak, but neither will ever admit it.

Nnoitra is still shaking, fire in his eyes, and Nel turns away without a word. I am not afraid to have you at my back, she silently tells him, chin lifted. Her hair hangs down her back in long, long waves that are the colour of the sea, shifting ocean currents in a desert of despair.

She is defiant. She stands perfectly still, her back facing him.

And then she goes.

Nnoitra hates her more, then, at that moment, then he has ever hated anyone in his entire life.

He stands in the desert, alone, and absolutely fucking hates her.

…–…

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Second chances are less then easy to come by.

So:

As things stand, they're both dead.

Well, maybe not her, but him, for sure. Nnoitra opens his eyes (because there are two of them, and since when has that happened?), and stares up at the sky of somewhere, and wonders:

just where the fuck am I?

"I knew you were going to wake up," says a voice, and Nnoitra knows that voice, he knows it, because there was a time when he wanted to kill that voice.

But not anymore. He is lying on his back in this strange place, staring at the melancholy-painted sky.

"Whadda'ya want, Nel?"

She bends over him. Her hair hangs around her face, waves of sea-green that curtain around them both, and all Nnoitra can see is that hair, that hated hair. He thinks of the line of her back, the spiky tattoo that marked her—Tercera— and the way her hair touched the black ink, and he hates her.

"Are you okay?" she asks, and is that pity in her eyes?

"M'fine," Nnoitra growls, and sits up (too fast). The world spins crazily for a moment, and Nnoitra freezes, dizzy.

He's never been dizzy before. Neliel touches his shoulder, her hands small, so small, almost to steady him; and it takes Nnoitra's best efforts to shake her off.

I don't need you, he wants to sneer at her, but he can't force his mouth to form the words, the same way he couldn't force himself to kill her, that stupid fucking little girl. He wants her gone, gone, gone, but she won't, she won't, and Nnoitra glares at her, eyes slit and cold.

He doesn't manage to remove her hand.

Neliel stares at him, and slowly shakes her head. "You are hopeless, Nnoitra."

But she doesn't move away, her hair around his face, and he really hates her, you know? Another person—not Nnoitra, never Nnoitra—would call her beautiful. And with those wide eyes, and that long, teal hair, and that – that – that body, she almost is.

But he hates her, and life goes on.

…–…

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Her mask is missing. Nnoitra notices it all the time, because the sun in Seireitei shines off that blue-green hair, and sometimes he catches glimpses of it. He notices the way she laughs, and how easy it is. He notices that she makes friends far too easily to be fair.

He notices a lot of things about her, actually.

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, so they say. Nnoitra has two eyes, now. The depth perception is an added bonus that he had not been expecting, but he is not blind. He does have an extra eye to give, but he wouldn't, not now.

Nnoitra still hates Neliel, though.

He just doesn't say it aloud anymore.

And one day, she's standing next to some – guy that Nnoitra has never met before. She's laughing in this way that Nnoitra privately thinks belongs to him; them. She only laughs like that when Nnoitra does something stupid, and something rages up inside him, and demands that this man be disposed of.

But Nnoitra is still Nnoitra, and Neliel is still Neliel, and he still has no claim on her except for a burning desire to see her bleed.

(Or so he says.)

The only claim he has on her is hatred, and even that is waning.

Nnoitra does not sleep that night, and the next morning, there is a fist-shaped dent in the wall, and blood on the sheets.

…–…

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He wears a Shinigami haori daily, now, and so does she. She's Lieutenant of Third Division, and he's Eighth Seat of the Eleventh Division. There is something vaguely karmic about this, Nnoitra thinks, and watches the way that she throws back her head, and giggles like a schoolgirl. Her hair is clipped up, out of her way.

At night, sometimes, Nnoitra thinks about her. He thinks about her hands, and how they looked dipped in blood. He thinks about the start contrast of blood against an immaculate white uniform. He thinks about killing her, and Santa Teresa, and the dunes of Hueco Mundo in the moonlight.

He thinks about of a lot of things.

But mostly he thinks about her hair in the sunlight, the ocean's waves lapping at the stiff black fabric from which their haoris are made. That's what he thinks about, mostly.

(Sometimes, though, he thinks about other things – a quiet moan of breath against his throat, her hair on his pillow, long legs, hips, skin, so much warm skin, and—

But he cuts those thoughts off before they get very far at all. He doesn't think of her like that.)

So when he sees her, drinking the night away with Rangiku and Yoruichi, he thinks, inner monologue a smarmy snarl:

she makes my fucking blood boil, but for different reasons then it used to be.

It takes all of Nnoitra's self-control not to throw his arms around her, and drag her away from the bar. Because, fuck, he hates her, he really, really does.

He hates what she does to his insides. He hates it so much it makes him shake.

Nnoitra wasn't always like this. He knows it. Then Nel smiles at him, hazel eyes wide like a child's, and he wants to own every part of her.

But he doesn't tell her that.

…–…

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The first time they have sex is much like the first time they kissed.

It is violent, and it is bloody, and:

Nnoitra is a hard person to care about, Neliel muses. He's just above her, but he's so far away and so close that Nel can't decide on what he really wants.

He is still Nnoitra, and he still hates her. There will be bruises, tomorrow morning, Nel knows. There will be scratches and dried blood, and Nel might even hate herself a little.

But she always comes back.

They are intrinsic to each other, Nel knows. She knows that she doesn't know how to be Neliel Tu Odelschwanck without Nnoitra to back her.

Nnoitra Jiruga shudders above her, mouth on the junction of her shoulder and her throat, and Nel screams his name.

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This is how it really ends:

they wake up in the same bed.

It is early morning, the light of false dawn filtering through the window, pale grey shot through with pink. Nel opens tired eyes.

Nnoitra is awake, and staring at her. They lie side by side on the futon. No one says anything. He has his fingers threaded through her hair, and Nel can feel gentle tugging at her scalp; it doesn't hurt, but it is possessive. Nel doesn't mind.

No one moves for a long, long time.

That is how it really ends.

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fin.
notes3: i am waaaaaay out of my comfort zone here, people.
notes4: please don't favourite/alert without leaving a review. have a nice day. :)