Summary: Because if Aizen-sama indeed ordered Ulquiorra to kill her, he wouldn't enjoy it.
Round #: One
Word Count: 1,610
Prompt: "We'll never stand a chance, we'll break before the day."
A/N: Written for the bleachfic community on LJ... This is the second fic I write of these two, so I'm still a bit nervous(I'm not counting drabbles:P), and I hope I did them some justice. This turned into a somewhat AU version of the story from "Unmasked." I've also taken the liberty of changing the dialogue from the translation, so I hope everyone is okay with that.:) Also, it's the first time I try my hand at using Japanese honorifics, so if I got something wrong, please let me know!
Her days and nights in Hueco Mundo seemed to have blurred together for some time now. She had asked her guardian how long she had been held captive, but he had refused to tell her, saying that it was of no consequence to her.
Despite missing her friends with all her heart, she had to admit that Aizen-sama had not treated her poorly in her stay there. She was confined to her room for her own safety and was allowed to leave only in the company of Ulquiorra.
They had developed some sort of… companionship, for lack of a better word and while that didn't mean that they were friends, it also meant that she at least had contact with someone. He would sit in her room in quiet contemplation while she ate, or sometimes he would watch her with his unnerving eyes while she pretended to sleep.
He had become the only constant in her life since her capture. He was the only person she saw when she awoke, and the one who was there when it was time to sleep. When she had to eat or was anxious about her friends following after her, Ulquiorra was always there. His presence wasn't a positive one, but she had come to rely on him for everything.
Some irrational part of her would miss him once Kurosaki-kun found her and took her home.
Everything she had done, turning her back on her friends, on her town, on Soul Society, it had all been to save them all. But despite her sacrifice, they were coming after her and if Aizen-sama ordered it, Ulquiorra would hurt them.
Somehow, she still felt fear for Ulquiorra's safety, too. Kurosaki-kun would not fight him just for the heck of it, but she also knew that her guardian would not just stand back and let her walk out with the shinigami. Someone would get hurt and her heart was torn, not knowing who it wanted to protect the most.
Orihime worried her bottom lip and looked up to ask Ulquiorra if he would be sent to attack her nakama, but to her surprise, she found he had dozed off on her bed.
She blinked in surprise and sat there watching him for a few long moments, wondering how he had even allowed himself to lower his guard so drastically around her. She had even started to wonder if maybe Espadas didn't need to sleep at all, since she could hear echoing footsteps outside of her room at all hours of the night.
But… as she got to her feet and approached him quietly, Orihime was drawn in by the slow rise and fall of his chest and the relaxed line of his lips. He didn't look exactly at peace, but his expression was not as severe or as blank as she was used to.
Staying at a short distance, Orihime continued to watch and nearly broke into nervous giggles. She knew somehow that he wouldn't appreciate having her watching him during one of his more vulnerable moments, and if possible, she had to stay out of his attack range. But, well, if he decided to use Cero, she'd be in some serious trouble…
Creeping closer with bated breath, Orihime felt her heart skip a beat. She had begun to take in the individual lashes touching his cheeks when…
"What are you doing, woman?" he asked, his eyes coming open quickly.
She did the only thing she could: she screamed. "U-Ulquiorra-kun! You scared me!" Orihime held a trembling hand to her wildly beating heart. Oh, but the endearment had fallen from her lips without thought and he was now giving her a look that meant that he wasn't happy.
His facial expressions rarely changed, but she had come to know him in a way that reminded her of the way it had been with Kurosaki-kun not too long ago…
"Do not call me that," he said, sitting up and staring at the floor.
Her face fell at his words and she didn't know exactly why her heart twisted a little in her chest. He wasn't… one of her nakama. Why then, had she called him that?
He also seemed intent on driving that fact home. "We are not friends. I am your jailor and it would be best for you if you remembered that," he said, getting to his feet and making for the door.
Stupid tears burned in her eyes as she took a seat on her vacated couch and pulled her knees to her chest. "You're all I have," she replied in a small voice. And it hurt that this was the only truth she knew now.
No one was her friend in Las Noches. Everyone wanted to hurt her, use her, or kill her. Ulquiorra… he protected her from it all, even though he did it under orders from Aizen-sama. She missed her home, her friends, school, and most of all, she missed seeing the clear blue sky and shine of the sun. She missed her world.
The touch on her cheek made her freeze and glance up, watching as he took up one of her tears and inspected it in curiosity, his jade eyes intent on the droplet. "Dry your tears, woman," he said, turning away.
"Ulquiorra," she whispered, going after him.
He paused but did not turn to look at her.
Orihime stepped around him and stared up at his handsome, closed off face. Reaching up careful fingers, they barely felt the coolness of his hierro before his hand closed around her wrist like a vise.
"What do you think you are doing?" he muttered, staring down at her with slightly narrowed eyes.
"Y-you touched my tears. I wanted to touch yours," Orihime replied, sincere.
Ulquiorra scrutinized her for a long moment, watching her start to fidget as she refrained from pulling her hand back. While being touched by her was not very appealing to him, he was curious to see what she would do. Releasing her hand slowly, he stood still and waited.
Orihime offered him a watery smile and let her hands move up once more, her thumbs trailing down the green tear streaks. She wondered how bad his human life had been, for him to have permanent tears on his face in the afterlife. She also couldn't help but ponder as to where his hollow hole was…
She came out of her thoughts with a sad little sigh; there wasn't anything she could do for him. She couldn't even be his friend because he didn't understand the concept of nakama at all. He couldn't even understand why it was that she still believed in them.
Orihime blinked slowly and glanced up into Ulquiorra's eyes, her cheeks coloring in embarrassment when she realized that her hands had remained holding his face and her thumbs were still running gently over his cheeks, following the green paths absently.
"S-sorry, Ulquiorra-ku—er, Ulquiorra," she caught herself, slapping a hand over her lips in worry.
"Foolish woman. Do you not understand that this place, this world, houses nothing but enemies who would seek to destroy you?" he asked, voice low and clear.
She bit her lip before voicing her next question. "Are you my enemy, Ulquiorra?"
"Aizen-sama has not asked for your life yet," he said, evasive.
She gave him the full force of her big gray eyes. "But if he did, you would take it?"
No hesitation, Orihime whispered to herself in sorrow. All of her time in Hueco Mundo, all of her time with Ulquiorra, had meant nothing. She couldn't fathom how it was that she had allowed herself to become attached to someone who had no understanding of the heart, of love. He was so very willing to follow orders even if they meant the end of her life and it made her feel disappointed and hurt.
"Why do you look so surprised at this piece of information?" Ulquiorra questioned.
"I guess I shouldn't be," Orihime replied staring down at her hands. Despite making herself a promise to never cry in front of him again, a stubborn tear slid down her cheek slowly.
Before she could do anything about it, a cool, pale hand reached up to brush the tear away, but he did not stop to look at it this time. "Your hope in your friends is what will ensure your death, Inoue Orihime. If you do as you are told, Aizen-sama will be generous enough to allow you to live. And I… will not be forced to end your life."
With that, he left the room before he could hear her reply, or her squeak of surprise. Had he just… told her that killing her was not something he would enjoy doing? It was incredible that he had touched her, let alone informed her that he would not enjoy ending her life if he had to.
It made fear and confusion soar through her heart because it meant that he felt something other than apathy. At least toward her. It made her hopeful in a place where she had begun to lose the strength to stand up for herself and for what she believed in.
Moving over to the sofa that served as her bed, Orihime curled up on the exact spot the Espada had occupied not too long ago. His warmth—if he had any—was gone, but she could feel faint traces of his reiatsu around her. Sadly, it made her feel at peace in a way she hadn't felt for a long time. Because if Aizen-sama indeed ordered Ulquiorra to kill her, he wouldn't enjoy it.