Did I mention I found a good writing position that doesn’t hurt my hands? I did. But you know what hurts me even more than my hands? THIS AU.
The human woman was listening to that song again…
Humming, bouncing along in her seat, tapping her pencil to the beat. It was the tenth time she’d listened to it in the last two hours, and she was beginning to pick up the lyrics as well, even though they were in English. He watched her from the corner of her desktop, his avatar stationed close to her pencil-tapping hand, though in reality it was the stationary webcam that provided him with sight. “Woman,” he addressed her, his voice cutting into the music, “why do you play this song repeatedly?”
She copied something from her textbook onto a note card in tiny, neat handwriting. “Why?” she wrinkled her nose. “Because it’s my favorite. My current favorite. My last favorite was…” she turned to the laptop and clicked open her music player. He did not so much watch her scroll down the playlist as he did feel the commands given. “This one!” She double-clicked on the title and the music changed into a Japanese ballad.
Ulquiorra listened to a minute’s worth of the song before speaking again. “I do not understand.”
Orihime leaned forward on her arms, staring at the green-eyed sprite standing above the start button. “What don’t you understand?” she asked him, always curious to hear what he had to say.
“This former favorite and your current favorite have nothing in common,” he said. “Should not these favorite songs be similar to each other?”
She blinked. “Why would they be?”
In answer to her dumb question, he took control of her computer and went to the music market. “Patterns,” he explained, sifting through thousands of songs in the space of a second. “The familiarity should be comforting, reminiscent of that which you already know you have a preference for. Like so.” A sample of a song nearly identical to the English one began to play. Orihime smiled at him.
“You’ve got a good theory,” she said, “but it doesn’t work that way.”
Orihime shrugged and tapped the screen with her index finger. “The heart knows what it wants, I guess.”
The heart again. Ulquiorra was no closer to understanding it than he had been weeks ago. All that appeared to remain constant was the fact that the heart was illogical. It followed no rules, obeyed no orders, bowed to no authority. “I do not accept that response,” he said, resuming the Japanese song where it had left off.
“Then I don’t know what to tell ya.” Orihime yawned and closed her eyes. Her dorm room window was open, allowing in the springtime breeze and the sounds of students talking on their way to class. “Can you feel that, Ulquiorra-kun?” she asked, not waiting for an answer. “It’s warm today. There are these trees around campus that put out white flowers right about now, and you’d think that they smell good, but they kind of smell like fish. They’re still pretty, though. I call them the fish trees.” Her lips curled up into a soft smile. “I can smell them through the window because there’s a few outside of my building. If you come with me on my phone tomorrow, I’ll show them to you.”
“You are going to fall asleep,” she heard him say, and perhaps it was her imagination, but his voice sounded gentler, almost fond.
“Wake me up if it starts raining…” she mumbled. Seconds later, she was dozing.
The window was in the webcam’s line of sight. Ulquiorra could see the sun, and thanks to the microphone he could hear the breeze as well, though it sounded far away. But he could neither see nor smell any fish trees. Nor could he feel the woman’s breath, though it created a little circle of fog on the laptop screen. She would get sick, he thought, and stared at the blanket on her bed, all the way across the room. He could not retrieve the blanket and place it over her shoulders. He could not close the window for her, so that she could sleep undisturbed. He could not stand or grasp or move at all.
But he could sleep, couldn’t he? The webcam light turned off, the laptop’s humming quieted, the flow of viruses into the university’s network slowed to a stop. Yes, he realized, as his avatar’s eyes closed; he could sleep.