Ulquiorra Schiffer x OC oneshot. I personally like how this turned out, but I'm not sure... Hm. Well, I hope you like it.

Disclaimer: Bleach is not mine, never was and never will be unless I find a magic lamp and get three wishes. *evil laugh*

"Why waste your time with that?"

She glanced up at the owner of the cold, even voice and then back to the object in her hand.

"There is little else to do here, and I get tired of sparring."

His eyes followed the fingers that lifted the page of the book and turned it, glancing at the momentary flash of print but not bothering to read the words. With the fragment of bone that framed her right eye hidden from sight and the small hole in her chest barely visible from profile view, she appeared almost human save for the unnaturally pale hair clipped unceremoniously behind her head with no heed for the stragglers that dangled in her distant eyes. These eyes swayed to and fro across the lines of words with an expression that could be taken as bored, skeptical, or contented. Maybe all three.

Ulquiorra's own eyes trailed across her lean form lounging in the windows, back resting on one side, one arm dangling inside the room, knees in obtuse angles and toes against the other end of the windowsill. He himself was standing with his hands in the pockets of his hakama a few meters away from her.

"That book—it's from the world of the living?"

"Yes."

"Why did you bother to take it?"

"Why are you here, talking to me?"

He responded not so much to inform her of the answer—she knew it already, they were both aware—but to acknowledge that he got her meaning.

"Because I want to."

A slight nod, distracted by sights and sounds only she could see, buried somewhere in the off-white pages she leafed through. After a moment, she closed the book abruptly and laid it carefully on the part of the windowsill that she wasn't sitting on, which was in the space just below her knees. She swung her legs over it and placed her feet lightly on the floor, turning her eyes to the raven-haired man in front of her with whimsical interest. Meeting her always-distant gaze with a more focused one, he waited for whatever observation she would inevitably make.

"Ulquiorra." It always started that way. "Do my eyes look like that, too?"

He blinked, the only sign of surprise that he expressed at the unexpected question. It wasn't that it was drastically different from anything else she asked or said, but it had never directly involved a specific person as it did at present. Nevertheless, a question required an answer. His came in the form of a question as well.

"Haven't you seen yourself in a mirror?"

"I have. But I want to hear what you think."

He paused, studying her expression and the eyes that always seemed to stare past someone even if she were looking directly at them.

"It depends on what you mean."

A soft hum of thought emanated from her throat.

"Like yours. Completely collected, analytical. Unfeeling." The last word was spoken more quietly than the rest; Ulquiorra detected the subtlest hint of bitterness.

"You are analytical and stay reasonably collected," he replied, watching her guarded expression. "But you feel."

A flicker of skepticism and discontent distorted her features.

"Hm… You deny this thing that humans call a 'heart,' and yet you say I still feel?"

"You do." His tone made it clear he was certain of that. Averting her gaze moodily, she stood up to stare out the window, across the chalky sand dunes that seemed to roll on into eternity, melting into a firm boundary along the horizon. At length, she spoke again, slowly and deliberately.

"You're right. I do feel." The fingers of her right arm rested on the windowsill, balancing her whole arm with just the tips. "I've been thinking about it a lot. Almost all the time. Taking them apart and putting them back together; finding the links between the causes and affects; justifying them—especially justifying them," she added drily. "But I couldn't find the source."

"It doesn't exist," Ulquiorra told her.

"I agree. That's exactly why I can't kill them. These damned emotions."

"I don't understand them."

"I do. And now they won't leave me alone. They raise questions I'd rather remain unanswered."

"Such as?"

She paused—no, hesitated, he amended—before speaking.

"Don't laugh."

"I never laugh." A small smile graced her lips momentarily and then disappeared again.

"I sometimes wonder if I'm actually there." He arched a brow, and she continued, "It's like 'I' am not standing here, but watching from some other… I don't know. Dimension? Kind of like when you show us your experiences from the Living World. But that's more vivid. More real." She lifted her hand, palm up, and studied it. "It's almost like if I'm cut, it won't hurt, won't bleed. Like a dream," she finished quietly.

Ulquiorra mused over her words skeptically, wondering just how long she'd been drowning herself in this philosophical banter. Maybe it was because of the book she'd been reading, or simply because emotion was a river best left untapped lest one be carried away by it.

Stepping forward, he took hold of her wrist and pulled it towards himself, disregarding her surprise and confusion. Pressing the nail of his thumb into her skin, he drew a thin, shallow red line, careful to avoid any major arteries there. She winced, and he swiped his thumb over the cut and let go, holding up his hand for her to see the smear of blood there. Her eyes seemed to focus on the crimson that stood out brightly on his pale skin and then slid down to the source on her wrist. Ulquiorra wiped his hand on the black belt around his waist.

"You're real. Stop confusing yourself."

Blinking, she smiled sheepishly and wiped her wrist on her own belt.

"Yes, sir."

He nodded curtly, satisfied.

"Ulquiorra. Would you come spar with me?"

"I thought you were tired of sparring."

"In all honesty, that was my mood talking. I get addicted to depression, I guess. So, will you?" she asked hopefully. After a pause, he sighed quietly.

"Don't expect me to draw my sword against you…"

Smiling brightly, she pushed the book aside and swung her legs out the window.

"Ulquiorra, we're dead, right?"

"So it would seem."

"Do you ever wonder what comes after?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I simply don't plan to die again."

She nodded thoughtfully.

"I suppose that's a good answer."

Coiling like a spring, she leapt out the window while he turned to take the stairs. He wondered idly what her next question would be. Why the moon shone, perhaps. And then she might ask if it ever got lonely.

Childish questions, all. Still, he didn't mind answering.

Hope you liked it.