I do not own Bleach or any of its characters. Thank you for reading.
Chapter One- The Fall.
He had given in to this madness after all, given in to her compliance, given in to the irrevocable feeling that grew stronger everyday within his chest. His chest; he pondered on this fact as he gently stroke that very spot with the tip of his fingers. An unconscious move that within two seconds turned drastically, from a gentle gesture to that of an animal clawing at its pray; in one move he had drawn blood from his own chest. Ah such relief he felt; it hurt, and this primitive pain distracted him from his thoughts, putting his mind at ease again. It was this feeling that kept him from getting any sleep at night, this feeling that tormented his hours during the day. Yet it was somehow, pleasant? Yes… somehow, that is the reason why he had stayed.
She haunted his every waking moment, his every sense was filled with her essence and it stung him, it clung to him and there was nothing he could do to rid himself of it.
He sat there by the little stream that flowed near the park, looking out into the horizon lost in his thoughts about this newfound world he was suddenly submerged into. His pale skin, his sharp green eyes, and his handsome face void of any human emotion, features that were all partially covered by his messy black hair. There was no longer a helmet, just like there was no longer a hollow hole in his chest. He was painfully aware of the changes, and felt like a stranger in his own body.
How many years had he been living like that in Hueco Mundo? He had lost count. Quite a few centuries, he figured. He grabbed the side of his head where his hollow helmet used to be, but it wasn't there. He could touch his silky strands of black hair, which he tousled angrily at the thought. Was he angry though? More like frustrated, no, but he wanted to be angry… Wanted? What? What was all this confusion within him? Never had he thought about such things before, it just didn't happen. His existence was so much simpler than that; survival of the fittest, the most basic of concepts in life.
Not even one week, it had been exactly two days since he had been dragged into the human world. Without any warning or explanations he woke up one day to find he was at a complete loss of what was going on. His body ached terribly and he found he could not speak for his throat burned; his vision was so blurry he might as well have been blind. Then he heard it, his name being called, "Ulquiorra," softly like a whisper. Was he dreaming? Had he died? He could not remember.
"Ulquiorra, are you ok? Can you see me? Can you say something? Anything…"
The voice was soft, and it broke off at the end the sentence. He held in his breath and laid there for a couple of seconds as he tried desperately to regain his senses. He breathed in and a shock of realization hit him, as the air filled his lungs her scent was now all over him, it was her, her voice that spoke to him.
Why was she so close? He could feel her breathing on his cheek, why was she so dangerously close to him? Didn't she know he could snap at any second? Hadn't she learned that from her stay in Hueco Mundo? His nature was somewhat primitive, and his instinct … unpredictable, and it often took over. Therefore the need to be in control at all times, and he had mastered that so well – or so he thought- until the day she came into his life.
As he lay there helpless, desperation began to arise within him. He shut his eyes tightly and tried to concentrate on regaining his senses. He had to, he had to get up, get out, get out of there. Away from her. Then he felt her hand lay gently on his chest, and along with it an agonizing pain that shot through him as if he had been pierced with a spear.
His back arched forward as he yelled out loud, it was raw, both a cry of agony and a cry of victory, as he found his voice again. His vision no longer clouded he looked straight into her gray orbs, filled with tears, as he had gotten so used to seeing them. She smiled. And that one smile was all there was, and all it took for him to forget his fleeting thoughts, and his violent nature from arising.
"Onna…" it was faint, almost like a grunt, but he spoke, he recognized her.
The barely audible sound of a giggle escaped her lips as Orihime could not contain her happiness. Ulquiorra was alive. He was here now, and he was alive. For the past two weeks she had thought she would not be able to get him back. Despite his powers of regeneration, the extensive damage he had received from his battle with Ichigo had made her lose hope on several occasions. She had secretly brought him back home with her, and had been working tirelessly on healing him. She had missed an entire week of school to stay by his side. Then as he seemed to be able to breathe on his own she had decided it was best to show up, that way her friends wouldn't get suspicious. Unless she was on the brink of death, the "I got the flu" excuse could only be good for so long. It was clear she hadn't thought this whole situation through, up until the moment Ulquiorra opened his eyes she had no idea what to do.
So what now? Were they supposed to become best friends and he would casually join society like any other person his ummm age…? Which she had no idea, just like she had no idea who he really was, his background, his hobbies, if there was anything else he liked to do apart from following Aizen's orders. Besides, did he even like that or did he just not have anything better to do?
This great idea of trying to save him just seemed like the right thing to do then. It was just something about the way he had reached out for her at his last moment, something inside those sorrowful green eyes that compelled her to try to save him. This now man in front of her was a mystery, and she herself wanted to know the reason why she chose to save him.
She also wanted to know why, in the process of healing him; he had lost his hollow hole and his helmet. His skin had gained some color as well. He was still pale, but not paper white as he was before, the dark lines that ran vertically down his cheeks under his eyes seemed to have faded some, although not completely off his face. He seemed more like a human now. This thought somehow scared her.
Could he possibly go back to Hueco Mundo in this state? She guessed that she might just nurse him back to health and then he could go and fly off back to the hell he came from. That was the best outcome out of all the possible scenarios she had come up with during the past two weeks. Ulquiorra waking up, going on a rampage and destroying half the town was another one, and finally there was him not waking up at all. The last one of these being the one that mortified her the most.
Funny how the thought never occurred to her that he might just naturally grab her by the throat until all life escaped her lungs and just like that she was out of the picture. But not him, not Ulquiorra, he would not do anything that would cause her any pain. He could not. He had protected her countless times before, he had treated her with such delicacy and care, like a rarity in his eyes, like a blooming rose in the arid desert.
Of course he didn't see it the same way, she thought he must have just been following orders, but during her months in captivity she couldn't help but feel treasured in his care. That is when he wasn't being cold and violent in a way that chilled her to the bone. Or… she might just be going crazy and being delusional.
The whole situation was unpredictable. But then all of these thoughts and supposed feelings went spiraling down straight to hell when he had extended his hand and reached out to her moments before his demise. After that one moment all was uncertain, nothing was true and everything was possible. At that moment there was nothing, and at that same moment she had everything, she had it all, in his last gaze, she had it all.
Ulquiorra swallowed hard, he had so many questions that he could not voice, and the anxiety was surging inside of him quickly. He gathered all the strength he could muster and sat up, breathing heavily, he tried to move his limbs, bend his knees, his elbows. He found he was sore all over, and that as much as he tried, he could not find his voice again. He turned his head only to find her looking at him, anxious and hesitant, awaiting his reaction with both amazement and fear. Was she really afraid? He thought.
There were still tears in her eyes and her breathing had become more like little short breaths closer to hyperventilation. She was tense, the woman… her heart was beating loudly. He did not think, he just stretched out his arm and his hand reached out to just barely touch her chest, right in the spot where her heart was.
Why? Why did he just do that? Orihime looked at him in surprise, she opened her mouth to say something but she could find no words, as she just slowly closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. Such relief filled her as she exhaled that breath of hesitation she had been holding.
She had seen him do this exact same motion before so many times, every time ending in death. Every time his unflinching face would show no emotion, no regret, no fear, not even satisfaction. But those memories she relived in her mind were pushed away, as she felt no threat from the hand pointed at her chest. He was simply acknowledging her. He had finally touched her, even if just barely, he had finally reached her. It was then she knew, he would not harm her.
She opened her eyes again only to find Ulquiorra was still intensely looking into them. She felt she could not avert her gaze as he seemed to move his mouth to say something, she wanted to know exactly what. He said nothing, instead he looked ahead again at nothing in particular, as if he had regretted his recent action, and lowered his hand and made an attempt to get up.
He noticed they had been in her room the whole time. That is why her scent was all over him. How long had he been there? What else did she do to him? Who else knew about this? His powers, where they still there? So Soul Society had won the war after all? There were so many questions that were plaguing his mind now that reasoning seemed to flow back into his brain in big waves.
"Ulquiorra" He heard her voice beside him. She was no longer crying. She just sat on the bed, on the spot where he had just been laying. She was wearing her school uniform, as he realized he was also wearing different clothes. Sweatpants and nothing else, his chest was bare. It felt strange not to be wearing the arrancar uniform he was so used to. Then she continued speaking.
"Ulquiorra you have been here for over two weeks now, I have been healing you, gradually… Nobody knows you're here yet. Everyone thinks you are dead. The war with Aizen is over and I don't think there were many arrancars that survived… but I just didn't want you to be one of them… I… didn't want you to be like that anymore… I…"
Of course everything she was telling him he had already guessed from just analyzing his current situation, but he continued listening.
"I thought maybe you could go back to Las Noches, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean for this to happen, but I don't know how it happened… I … I… tried to get you back just like before…" She continued to talk but he was no longer listening as he suddenly realized what she was trying to tell him. There was no hollow hole, there was no helmet. What had she done? Just what had she done to him?
Warmth. There was warmth. Right there on his arm, on the very spot where she was touching him. She had noticed he was upset and was not listening, and had tried to get his attention by tapping his arm. Her hands were as soft as silk, and her touch so gentle, yet somehow for Ulquiorra this was all too overwhelming. He could no longer think straight as his thoughts became completely obscured, clouded, and all he could think of was getting away from her.
This woman just who does she think she is? He no longer had to protect her, he could blow her away with a cero in an instant if he wanted to and this entire little problem would be blown away along with her. Anger and impotence filled him as he found he was incapable of even looking her way, much less harm her. He tried to concentrate and use sonido, then… he disappeared; leaving Orihime dumbfounded and speechless.
So it seemed he could use some of his power, yet the fact that he chose to sonido and not a destructive technique kind of brought her some peace of mind. This had all happened so fast. She stepped out into the balcony and thought of places he might have gone to. Will she ever see him again? Will he come back to say good-bye? Is this all there is to this whole ordeal? The thought she had previously had about him following after Aizen's ideals was quickly dismissed. She knew Ulquiorra was not power-hungry or obsessed with world dominance, and yet what he truly searched for was unknown to her. She tried to trace his spiritual pressure to see if he was nearby, but it seemed he had simply vanished.
Orihime went back inside her little apartment, and started straightening up her room, erasing any traces that she might have been secretly nursing an espada back to life in her own bed for the past two weeks. Soon, it might just seem like a dream she had and was soon forgotten, something that never happened, something out of her imagination. Maybe, she decided, it was better this way, although she couldn't help the void she now felt in her chest, and the silent tears that rolled down her face as she tried to clean up the mess.