I do not own Bleach, nor its characters. I make no money from my writings.
When You Reach For Me
She knew something was wrong from the beginning when he sent that cool glance past her. As if she… was no one. Their sharp-tongued teacher butchered his name, and told him huskily, "Introduce yourself to the class."
"I am Ulquiorra Cifer. Please take care of me." His dark-haired head dipped with straight shoulders into a bow.
The therapist clicked the back of her pen against her clipboard, and scribbled something down. "How are you today, Ulquiorra?" She asked, her head bent low as she penned in the date. Light filtered through the large glass windows into the stuffy office. The pendulum of a grandfather clock swayed to the rhythm of a second.
"I am the same as the day before," He said.
"Right," More scribbling, and then the pen was clicked and placed sharply upon the wooden clipboard, "So tell me about last night, did you dream the same thing?"
"Continue," She said, mid-scrawl.
"It is in the same place: everything is white," He began, "The borders are dark, burnt."
"Are you doing anything in particular?"
"No," He answered.
"Wheels approach. There are light footsteps. Then a cart is to my right, a skeleton pushing it towards me." The therapist nodded and hummed an affirmative sound. More notes alighted upon her page.
"And then I speak."
The afternoon sky gurgled and spewed out another slap of water. Sweeping droplets, cold and biting, smacked against buildings and all else outside, stinging Orihime's skin and numbing it momentarily. The air smelled of iron, dust, leaves. A purr from the sky, and the cloudburst continued.
"Ulquiorra…?" She called out, her hands cupped about her mouth. She attempted to lean her red umbrella against the moist onslaught, with minimal results. Shivering, her lower torso and downwards were soggy, plastered with clothes. A wrinkle buried into her brow, and her eyes squinted to half their size. Her lips parted slightly. A puff whirled out: a ghost of a breath. "Ulquiorra…!" The boy turned towards her, his hands sunken deep within his pockets, and his jacket hung wet upon his shoulders.
His nose wrinkled. A rumble in the sky, and in the distance, someone ran through the cobblestone walkways seeking shelter. The aluminum awning clacked, while around them, soft, leafy bushes wetly dipped and brushed against one another and the punctured ground.
Smooth as glass, raindrops rolled through the boy's dark hair, matting the tresses to his alabaster skin. One crystalline drip ran down his cheekbone, steaming, searing the skin. It grazed his pursed lips, and hung upon the point of his chin in a bead of glossed air.
"What?" He asked as he brought frost-bitten fingers down his warmed cheek. The droplet fell to the grass below.
"Why don't you come in here," Orihime said, motioning him towards her, "Come under the awning…. You're getting wet!" She ignored the fact that the awning did little for her; if only he'd get out of the rain…. "You're going to catch a cold!" The boy creased his brow in the most subtle way.
"Do not tell me what to do, woman. I told you I am looking for something."
"And what if you can't find it?" She called to him, "You've been here every day looking, just to feel the burn on your cheeks. What are you hoping to accomplish?"
His green gaze swept from the sky towards her. A fierce glare rippled through the viridian of his eyes.
"What if what you're looking for, you can't find with your hands?"
"With my hands…." He looked at them: fingerprints swirled in rusted carmine, nails creased in blood. Ulquiorra wrapped his fingers into a fist, "Can I find it with my hands…?"
No birds chirped outside the large windows, and Ulquiorra turned his bandaged face towards the silence. His cheeks stung. The therapist pushed up her glasses, asking, "What do you say when you speak?"
"I tell her to eat."
"Why do you tell her this?" The therapist prodded gently.
"I don't know." The therapist scribbled and hummed an affirmation.
"Go on, Ulquiorra."
"She hesitates. I tell her I will strap her down and force her to eat if she does not eat of her own free will."
"No." More notes.
"Alright," The therapist said.
"And then I'm flying."
"And what if it's something you can't see? How will you find it then?" Orihime said. His eyes narrowed, slit pupils regarding her.
"If I cannot see it, it does not exist."
"Ulquiorra, what you're searching for shouldn't exist anymore." The boy met her ashen gaze.
"How would you know what I am searching for?" He asked. The heat upon his cheek swelled and cracked the skin as more raindrops fell upon it.
"Because I know who you are."
"I'm dark and light. I am flying above a desert, and I ram his head into a wall and he falls to the desert below."
"Is he someone you know?"
"And why are you doing this?"
"Because… he's going to take her away."
"Orihime." Pen scratches.
"How does this make you feel?"
"Can you describe it?"
"Snapping: like I want to break in his head. Hollowness. Nothingness." The therapist jotted this down.
"So then what happens?"
"He changes, and I am hurled through the air. My wing is ripped off and he screams an inhuman scream. He pushes me into a building, and throws me to the earth. I throw a spear at him but he breaks it, and slices me open with his sword." The therapist sat silent, still.
"And then he stomps upon my head so hard I hear my bones crack. He is above me, sending another blast downwards. And I tell him that he shows no mercy. 'How Hollow-like of him' I say." A pause hung between the therapist and her patient. The grandfather clock clacks.
"And what does that mean? 'Hollow'?" The therapist asked. She clicked her pen.
"I don't know." She nodded.
"And then Orihime screams and all goes black."
"And how do you know who I am, Orihime Inoue?" Ulquiorra took a step in her direction and his scratches become visible. Long curved divots ran against his sternum, marring his white school dress shirt rose and burgundy. The lines ran into a haphazard circle.
"Because I expected you."
"Expected me?" His eyes narrowed, "How were you expecting me?"
"I asked for you to come here."
"From where?" He watched as the girl's uniform shoes sloshed into the murky water at the edge of the cobblestone path, leaning over. The grassy lawn had long turned to a muddy slush.
"Ulquiorra, come here. I'll tell you. Come out of the rain." She extended her hand as far as she could over the grass and mud, her other arm looping around the awning's pillar, her red umbrella still hooked against her neck. He looked at her face, flushed red in the cold and her hair swept in tangles against her cheek. Ulquiorra took one step towards her before halting. Raindrops ran smooth with heat over his cracking cheeks, as satisfactory as the scratches on his sternum that simmered and stung in the acrid rain. He approached her again, and the scent of her twisted his insides and gnawed at his heart. Another step and he submerged his shoes into the sludge beneath and went closer to her.
"I'll tell you everything," She said as she leaned out towards him with an outstretched hand, "Everything."
"I see Orihime there, in front of me, my body flittering away as I reach my claws towards her." The therapist scribbled.
"And she reaches back, extending her hand towards me. I ask her 'Are you afraid of me?' And she says, 'No, I am not afraid.'"
"And then she grabs my hand, but I cannot grab back. I fall to ashes in her palm, and she watches me. With those eyes… she watches me disappear. And then I can no longer see her. Gone. I am gone."
'He looks so much like the old him,' she thought as he reached his hand towards hers, 'The circle upon his chest, darkened by blood, the way his eyes shine with glaring power, the way the rain streaks over his face and they fall. They fall, they fall, until the rain paints his cheeks hot and dark where his tear marks were. His skin cracks and under there, the aqua streaks will be beneath. He is still him; he is still he; he is still Ulquiorra…."
Their fingers moved against each other in the clamminess of the rain. And finally, it seemed neither would disappear.
The therapist placed her pen down with a light clack. She crossed her legs and said, "Go on, Ulquiorra."
"And I wake up, and realize she is gone."
"Do you remember any other details of the dream after you disappear? Where do you go?"
"Nothing. I don't know."
"Where does Orihime go?"
"I don't know."
"Is there nothing? Think very hard, Ulquiorra. Is there nothing else you remember about your dream's ending?"
"Alright… well Ulquiorra, do you have anything else you'd like to talk about?"
"Alright, well then I'll see you tomorrow? We can talk more then." She stood from her chair.
"Tomorrow, I will not know. Nor the next day." The therapist halted, and looked at him: bandaged, swollen. The air was of rust, cooled by a gentle whirring of the air conditioner.
His clothes bulged where large bindings covered his raw back, places where doctors sanded the bone in an effort to restrain leathery stubs protruding from his shoulder blades. Beneath the bandages, stitches crisscrossed where doctors tried to seal in the aquamarine of his tears.
The therapist knelt down to his eyelevel, and asked, "Do you really not know, Ulquiorra?" She glared at him. "Do you really not know where Orihime Inoue is?" The pendulum clock chimed.
And he said, "…My search was almost over."
I hope you enjoyed this small oneshot. Feel free to read others of my works.