Characters: Orihime, Ulquiorra
Summary: Under the light of Hueco Mundo's ailing moon, a prisoner and her keeper are changing one another.
Disclaimer: Bleach does not belong to me, nor do any of these characters.
She is an aberration in the homogeneity of the room. His eyes, used to the still planes of the skeletally white walls, suddenly betray him as they stutter over her figure. Colour fills his vision. She transforms even the drab uniform of Hueco Mundo into something vibrant and unusual. The sickly pale moon of Hueco Mundo bleaches the crown of her head with its wan light. Whenever he goes to see her—which, if he is being honest with himself, is quite often—she is in the same position: standing, with her hands clasped to her breast, searching with sunken eyes, for something she cannot reach.
He will allow himself these insignificant moments, to look at her.
Her white-knuckled hands, clenched tightly against her body, carpals and meta-carpals stretching the skin taut over them; the dim curve of her silhouette, her head breaking the white circle of the moon; the parabola of her breast against the smooth white of her garb; these little details he will grasp at greedily, stowing them away in the deepest, barest corners of his mind. They are little relics of their meetings; little pieces of the mystery of humankind that he has yet to unveil. Later he will gouge his eye out of his socket and crush it. Its totality will give way with the splintering sound of broken glass, and he will look again, through his eyes—again—at what he has already seen, but not perceived. He draws closer without a sound. She will only see him when he wants her to.
Maybe, in the end, after he is dead(er)—and that is a state he cannot imagine being in—it will turn out that the only purpose of existence is to capture moments that transcend time. Then the only things he will be left with are these quiet seconds in a darkened room with a woman who stares at an illusory moon.
He regards her with the same wariness one might regard a rabid dog. His suspicion is, to some extent, not unfounded. It is all that he can do just to make sense of her nonsensical ramblings, that is when she deigns to speak. She is so very frail and human and unsuspecting. Even now, as he is a few yards away from her, he could stretch out his arm and neatly snap her neck. It would be a soundless, elegant motion. Her eyes wouldn't even have time to look at him with betrayed disgust before dying…
But because he values his existence, and respects his superiors, he will not. He will feed her and clothe her and ensure her survival. He will not question his master's decision, but sometimes he still wonders why he, Ulquiorra, was chosen to bear this task. He isn't weakest, or the most expendable or the most insubordinate. Although he can't imagine that saddling anyone else with the girl would have led to very pleasant results. Grimmjow would have killed her by now, consequences be damned. Szayel Aporro would have taken her apart, piece by piece; but, knowing his guile, she would be kept breathing—if just barely. Nnoitra would have used her for his own perverted pleasures, and then killed her. His lip curls upwards in disgust.
His sense of self is diminishing. This woman has far greater power than she knows, and she uses it unconsciously, which is what unsettles him more. In this room, where they exist together against the expanse of time, an intimate exchange takes place: as she breathes and then exhales, the same air that has brushed against the tissues of her insides-trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli-and sustained her life, will then pass to him, inside his body, into a vacuum he does not know.
All too soon, and with reluctance, he gives up his anonymity.
"It is time to eat, Inoue Orihime," he says, almost directly into the shell of her ear.
Predictably, she gasps and flails around in shock. In her distress, she knocks over a vase made of the bones of some animal. It shatters, leaving fragments of bone scattered over his boots. Her skirts rustle with the heaviness of canvas as she backs away from him instinctively. Her large gray eyes are less shocked, now, but still widened with apprehension and guilt.
"I'm so sorry!" She wails, holding up pieces of the broken vase, "You just came out of nowhere and I didn't know what I was doing! And now I've broken this priceless vase!—What's it made out of, anyway?"
"Bone," He replies evenly, watching as she kneels down to pick up the shards. She stops abruptly.
"Did you say bone?" She demands, looking revolted. When he nods, she gets up quickly, dropping the pieces back on the floor.
"I am not picking that up," She says flatly, crossing her arms, daring him to contradict her. He doesn't. After a few moments of awkward silence, she drops her arms to her sides. They hang there, limply. The wind has been taken out of her sails.
"It was a really ugly vase, anyway," She adds, mollified at his compliance. She looks confused as well, and he relishes the exchange of their circumstances.
"It lacked some—essential aesthetic qualities," He agrees cautiously, looking at her profile.
She looks strangely different now. He can say this with some certainty, as he has catalogued her every expression, that he has seen. The line of her brow is less taut, there is a definite swell in her cheeks, and the corner of her mouth is raised in a tentative way. He cannot be right—it is an absurd conclusion, but it looks as though—
As though sensing his regard, she turns her head aside quickly.
"So," She says hurriedly, smoothing her skirts with her palms, "Dinner?"
"Actually, I believe it will be lunch," He corrects, eyes still on the back of her head.
"Right then, lunch it is."
As he watches her walk away from him, he tamps down on an unfamiliar feeling in his belly. It isn't one that he can describe from familiarity—then again, he would even have trouble describing feelings he does know—but it is thick and viscous, like acid. Although, that analogy lacks completeness. Acid is corrosive. This feeling, however, is warm, like someone has placed their hands in his intestines. But…more pleasant.
He will guard her now, because his master wishes him to. He will feed her, and clothe her, and keep her alive. Until her role as bait in his master's scheme is fulfilled.
And then, when it seems that she has outlived her usefulness, he will end her life.
With one elegant twist of his wrist, he will snap her neck, perhaps.