mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 3/9/2015

 An epilogue that I’m totally NOT going to put in the crossover whenever it stops giving me hell.

~

“…thereby resulting in the gigai’s ability to sustain itself when it’s unoccupied. It was an excellent question. You wouldn’t believe how much trouble I had with rotting–”

Urahara was interrupted by an electronic chirp. Ulquiorra, who had managed to lose track of Urahara’s enthusiastic explanation five minutes ago, recognized the chirp as belonging to his phone. Odd. The handful of people who would text him knew he was abroad. He hadn’t had a message in two years.

“You have reception all the way out here?” Kisuke whined, referring to the mountains surrounding them. They had arrived in Peru at the beginning of March to investigate an alleged higher traffic of hollows. Urahara had a theory, of course, but despite having spent all this time wandering around with him, Ulquiorra still couldn’t put together how the man’s mind worked. He reached for his phone as Urahara continued to grumble about switching service providers, and checked the name on the display screen.

The Woman.

His eyes widened. He’d long since changed Orihime’s contact name to Orihime, and before then, it had been Woman, not The Woman. But it was impossible, wasn’t it? The communication channel had closed minutes after she’d… He opened the message.

The look on Ulquiorra’s face flipped Urahara’s silliness switch off. “What is it?” he asked, approaching him quickly. “Do we need to leave?” No response. Whatever was on that phone had rendered Ulquiorra speechless. He didn’t even try to hide it from Urahara as he leaned over to look.

It was a picture, taken in a hospital room. On the edge of the bed sat Ulquiorra - a different Ulquiorra, with no tear marks to be seen, but undoubtedly him - and beside him, an Orihime in a hospital gown with a tired smile, holding in her arms a swaddled newborn. The accompanying message was brief: Scarlet Schiffer, 03-11-2011, seven pounds, 18.2 inches.

Urahara relaxed, but his former panic was replaced by curiosity: How had the message gotten through? Was there another rift between the universes? And how did Ulquiorra feel, knowing that in another world, in another life, he and Orihime had a child together? He couldn’t gauge anything but shock from his companion’s expression. But it wasn’t a bad shock, Urahara thought. It was as if he’d been given a gift he hadn’t known he wanted more than anything in the world. “What say we try to be home by summer?” Urahara suggested with a knowing smile.

Ulquiorra nodded once, his eyes never leaving the phone. It took a few minutes, but as they resumed their walk up the mountains, he typed out a simple thank you, and pressed send. Seconds later, his phone chirped again:

Error, number does not exist. Message could not be sent.

mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 3/7/2015

This was in my head ALL DAY.

~

The future Mrs. Schiffer had gotten into the wine.

Despite having more money than two people in a cheap one-bedroom apartment knew what to do with, Ulquiorra and Orihime didn’t go on vacation very often. This hotel adventure hardly counted; Las Noches could be seen from the balcony of their room, jutting out of the Hueco Mundo district like a cold sore, if they turned south and craned their necks a little. But Ulquiorra had had a thing, and Orihime had dressed very nicely for the thing, and dancing had been mandatory at the thing, and bedroom eyes had been made until they’d had no choice but to extend their hotel stay. Who would miss them at Las Noches, anyway?

“You know who you’re like?” Orihime asked as she rolled over to face Ulquiorra, nearly knocking over the food and dish tray she’d eaten her breakfast-in-bed on. “You’re like… a sexy Beethoven.”

Ulquiorra thought the drunken compliment over. The afternoon sunlight glinted off of the nearby empty wine bottle, of which he’d had one glass, and Orihime the rest. He shifted his leg under the scratchy sheets and the bottle rolled off the bed. “I don’t have a powdered wig, though,” he said.

“That’s okay, we’ll make ya one,” Orihime patted his stomach reassuringly. “Well need a couple dozen Barbie dolls and some powdered sugar.”

“I’m not sure that’s correct, Ms. Inoue.”

“Then you can put it on and I’ll screw your brains out.”

“Hold on, let me find my phone. I doubt that you can text in your condition so we’ll just have to record a verbal contract, for future reference.”

“Oh no you don’t!” This time she succeeded in knocking over the tray, which flipped over the edge of the bed and landed on the floor with a noise of broken dishes. She threw her entire body across Ulquiorra’s skinny midsection to prevent him from moving. “I’m too smart to fall for that again.”

“For what again?” Ulquiorra asked innocently.

“Verbal contract a-k-a blackmail!” she cried. “‘Cause you’re an asshole. A sexy Mozart asshole.”

“Wasn’t I sexy Beethoven?”

“There’s a slight to major possibility that I might not actually know the difference.” Orihime tried to lift herself up, then went limp. “There’s also a slight to major possibility that I’m drunk.”

Ulquiorra stroked her naked back. “That’s fine. You’re engaged to me, and social convention dictates that I should take care of you in your vulnerable state, not lock you out of the room in nothing but a bed sheet, no matter how badly I want to.” He tilted his head to look her in the eyes. “I really, really want to. I’m letting you know this because I love you, and hope that you’ll forgive me, should I give in to the temptation regardless of our premarital status.”

“I don’t want to marry you anymore,” Orihime grumbled. “I was gonna make you a powdered wig and wash your underwear and cook you dinner sometimes but you can forget all that now.”

“Were you really?” he asked, sounding much too cheerful for someone who was being dumped.

“No. Maybe. It doesn’t matter 'cause I’m not marrying you anymore. I’m leaving just as soon as I throw up in your piano.”

“I’m so touched.”

“I hate you.” 
mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 2/18/2015

Muse.

~

When Fitzwilliam Darcy proposed marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, he said to her, “I cannot fix upon the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation.”

Like Fitzwilliam Darcy, Ulquiorra Schiffer had found himself in the middle before he knew that he’d begun. But unlike Mr. Darcy, Ulquiorra could, with some effort, fix upon the hour, the spot, the look, and the words which had laid the foundation of his love for Orihime Inoue.

He’d heard from various sources that love was a thing that took people by surprise. Certainly, it had been the same for him. He was not above admitting that if he’d known what she would reduce him to when he saw her face in that dark alley, he’d have left her there and waited for his inspiration to come back on its own. Unfortunately, his selfishness had been his undoing, and just like that…

“I guess between you and me, you’re the lucky one this time.”

Just like that, it began.

All of the sudden, his plans, his moods, his thoughts, his anxiety, his choices; everything revolved around her. But he was not in love with her yet.

He was not in love with her when he confronted her old friends. Nor was he in love with her when she told him he was strong. Nor did he love her when she made him dinner, when she hid his dining table chairs, or when he allowed her to sleep in his bed for the night. But he was already in love with her when he held her in the rain, and when he kissed her for the first time.

There was a moment in between. One tiny, inconsequential moment, amidst the clatter of dishes and bustle of dinner preparations in his family’s home. He’d happened to glance into the dining room and saw her standing there, fidgeting behind the table, watching everyone move around, unsure of what to do with herself. Ah, he’d remembered, she’s never done this before.

And he was in love with her. Motionless in the kitchen with a stack of plates in his hands while his brother snuck food scraps to the dogs and his sister said something to their mother and Natalia Moretti could be heard singing upstairs. He was in love with Orihime Inoue, so lost, so harmless, so very much like him.

And he never once stopped needing her. 
mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 2/8/2015

 For the first time, I took a pain killer for my hands today. Hiatus coming soon.

~

“Still can’t believe you’re dating a babe like her,” Grimmjow muttered, not bothering to hide his envy. “Must be nice.”

End of another school day. The sun was sinking, its light casting an orange glow on the city as students departed for clubs or home. For a moment, Ulquiorra’s eyes drifted skyward. “It’s not nice at all,” he said, turning to Grimmjow with the most miserable look he could muster. “She talks about death all the time. It’s morbid.”

“You’re a damn liar!” Grimmjow shouted, only to remember that Ulquiorra didn’t lie. He sneered. “The one guy in the world who’d complain about having a hot girlfriend, and I’m friends with him. What does that say about me?”

“I wonder.” Ulquiorra stared blankly ahead. “And I wasn’t complaining.”

He wasn’t. Orihime understood that, and laughed her loud, happy laugh when he told her later. “Me and my morbid curiosities!” she cried, waving her arms at the ceiling. “Whatever shall you do about them?”

“Put a stop to it before you start communing with the dead,” Ulquiorra replied. He didn’t even move when she took his glasses off and dropped them on the floor beside her bed.

“Like Don Kanonji?” She undid his uniform tie.

“You’ll be his new assistant.”

“If that happens, please break up with me. You have your reputation to think of.” Orihime pulled the tie away from his neck and burrowed into his chest. He put an arm around her. “Suppose I hadn’t been cured, though,” she murmured, “what would you have done?”

Ulquiorra looked up at the ceiling. “Died a virgin.”

“Oh please!” She started to unbutton his shirt. “You would have loved again.”

“I wonder,” he said for the second time that day, before sitting up and laying her on her back. It would be alright, he told himself. Therapy was doing her well. She wasn’t as anxiously attached to him as she was before. Wasn’t cycling between reckless impulsivity and fear as often. Sure, she’d been too afraid to leave the house today, but it was her first major setback in weeks. Given time, she would be fine.

And he would wait with her until she was.

Parenthood

Apr. 29th, 2015 11:03 am
mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 1/28/2015

 Tell Yourself. Note: “aka-chan” means “baby.” It’s not the name of the child.

~

“Wasn’t the weather nice today?” Orihime lay in bed, smiling at the ceiling. “I thought it was lovely. Nice and mild. We’re right between flu season and allergy season, so it’s lucky that I fainted today and not, say, next month!”

Ulquiorra lay facedown beside her. “Are you listening to yourself?” he grumbled.

“You can’t be upset about the news,” Orihime said, rubbing her belly. “And if you’re mad because I fainted, that’s pretty unfair, don’t you think? I didn’t want to faint. Poor Satsuki-chan thought I was dead!” He didn’t answer. She sighed. “Nod for yes, head-shake for no. Are you mad because I fainted?”

He shook his head.

“Are you mad because I’m pregnant?”

He shook his head.

“Are you upset because I just gave birth three weeks ago, and you got me pregnant again on the first try, so now you’ll have to wait another nine months to touch me?”

He nodded once.

“I thought that might be the case.”

A tiny cry started up on the baby monitor. Orihime sat up slowly. “I’ll get it!”

Ulquiorra held out a hand to stop her. “You should rest,” he said, straightening and moving to the edge of the bed. “And I will not so much as sneeze in your direction, lest you give birth to twins.”

Orihime laughed. “I don’t think it works that way, but okay!”

Over the baby monitor, a door could be heard opening. Ulquiorra and Orihime stared at it, curious. “Oi, aka-chan” they heard Satsuki say, and turned their gazes back to each other. “SHUT UP!” her voice screeched, startling them both. “I’M TRYING TO SLEEP!”

Ulquiorra bolted out of the room. Orihime laughed herself breathless listening to her daughter’s complaints, her second daughter’s wailing, and her husband’s scolding. Poor Satsuki-chan! She didn’t even like the new baby. How in the world were they going to tell her that another was on the way?

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 1/15/2015
 
Tell Yourself. A spring day.

Satsuki Cifer hauls a bucket onto the roof of her home. She waits, munching on a snack in the warm afternoon sunlight. Her Fullbring instructors come by to question her presence there.

THEN, target spotted! Her father, the unsuspecting Ulquiorra Cifer, approaching the house. He senses his daughter up on the roof, but since she’s attended by responsible adults, he says nothing. He doesn’t even look.

Too bad. A bucket’s worth of pickle juice comes crashing down on his head.

Across town, Orihime is walking home from work, when all of a sudden her daughter sprints past her in the blink of an eye. Seconds later, she’s followed an angry black blur that smells like pickles. Orihime flies after them immediately. She manages to cut Ulquiorra off, ready to put up a shield to protect the terrified child screaming “DADDY’S GOING KILL ME” behind her. Ulquiorra takes one step… and keels over, nauseated.

An hour later, Satsuki is grounded in her bedroom, the Fullbringers are scrubbing every trace of pickle juice from the front walk, and Ulquiorra is soaking in the tub. Orihime walks into the bathroom and reminds him to reassure Satsuki that he still loves her later.

Ulquiorra looks her dead in the eye and says he wants to have a second child. Orihime thinks the pickle juice has gone to his head.

The end.

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 1/12/2015

 A thing my mind would not let me write at the time, even though I wanted to.

~

“Ulquiorra, there you are. I received a call from Mr. Maddox a few minutes ago, claiming he tried to get in touch with you but he was rudely told off by two strange women, then hung up on.”

A sequence of memories flashed through Ulquiorra’s mind as he held the phone to his ear. A brunette lady with a kind smile and a gentle voice, introducing herself, shaking his hand even though he was a child. That woman, leaning over to fix his bowtie before the host of the television program called his name. That woman, digging snacks out of a travel bag, holding three packets out in front of him and asking which he’d prefer.

“I understand that you’ve decided to take this slow; believe me, I wouldn’t want you doing anything you weren’t ready to do, but you can’t keep disrespecting these men if you expect an easy transition.”

That woman, asking him all manner of questions about his music, listening with interest as he told her of his little match girl and the songs she liked to sing. That woman, in the audience, applauding him after every performance.

“If you want to do business with adults, you need to stick to your commitments. You promised them you would be at that recital, and you didn’t show up. Didn’t even apologize. They have every right to be annoyed.”

What did he call that woman, who looked as terrified as he was when she brought him into her home? That woman who picked him up from school when he wasn’t well? That woman who cried for him when she thought he couldn’t hear, who felt the pain of his departure so much, who continued to watch over him even though she didn’t have to, who loved him even as she chewed him out on the phone?

“Mom,” he said, and there was silence on the other end of the line. A threshold had been crossed. A barrier had been broken down.

“Ulquiorra,” her voice was thick with tears, “what’s going on?”

He’d wandered into the hallway when he’d seen the name on his cell phone display. He leaned back against the wall, staring at an impersonal painting of a landscape that was probably meant to be calming. “Ms. Inoue is in the hospital,” he slid to the floor, “ because of me. She could have died, because of me,” he felt his own voice thicken, “and I think I’m going to lose her.” This was what mothers were for, wasn’t it? He’d seen them do things like this in television and movies, so it was alright to confide in her, wasn’t it? “I’m afraid,” he whispered. “What will I do if she dies? How will I go on without her? Who will throw shoes at me, and complain when I play the piano at five in the morning, and watch those daytime court shows on my TV? I hate those shows, Mother. I hate them so much…”

“Stop.” He stopped. “Take a deep breath. Are you breathing?”

“Mmhmm.”

“I’m going to pray for her. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but when I’m done, you’re going to tell me everything, is that understood?”

“Mmhmm.”

And so she prayed, and when she was finished, Ulquiorra told her the truth from beginning to end. There were several disappointed murmurs, a handful of shocked silences, an interrupting accusation of “you made her lie for you,” and a couple of sobs. And as he recounted the story from August, as he heard his mother’s reactions, he saw himself not as the heartless beast he’d claimed to be, but as a frightened and wounded kid, swinging his fists at anyone who tried to help him, no matter how good their intentions.

He knew that this was the way his mother had always seen him. Even here, at his absolute lowest, and at the height of her disappointment, he felt like she was lifting him up from the ground, wiping his face while scolding him for running around recklessly. And when the berating was done, she smoothed it over with a figurative kiss on the forehead:

“Orihime isn’t going to die. If you love her half as much as I think you do, you’ll try to make peace with her when she wakes up; and if she loves you half as much as I think she does, she’ll listen.” In her Washington living room, surrounded by concerned dogs, Mrs. Ingram smiled a sorrowful smile for her wayward son. “Worst case scenario, she’ll leave you, and you’ll deserve it. But don’t give up before you’ve tried. She’s important to you, isn’t she?”

Ulquiorra thought of Orihime, sitting on the piano bench with her head against his shoulder and her hands under his. But he also thought of the woman who’d tenderly welcomed him to his new home nine years before. “Mom,” he said again, and he heard her breathe in, “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“I know.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong.”

A painful pause. “…I’ll call Mr. Maddox and apologize on your behalf, but this is the last time. You’ll call him too in a few days. Go get yourself something to eat, and when Ms. Inoue wakes up, you grovel, you cry, you kiss her feet and offer your body as a punching bag, is that clear?”

“Yes.” He sighed. “Thank you.”

And just like in the movies and television, he felt better.

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 1/8/2015

 The Faust AU.

~

Springtime on the heather. Beautiful, such lovely weather. Butterflies through the iron bars, black and blue. She thought of hell.

Flowers, little daisies, geraniums, morning glories, forget-me-nots. Colorful petals plucked by colorful girls, sighing over lovers real or imagined. Running past the iron bars with laughter on their lips, and she laughed with them.

Melting snow from mountain passes, making the rivers swell, the waters murmur, feeding the grass and the forgotten dead beneath it. Quicker currents to stand in, to wash away stains from white sheets, to carry her sins downstream. God cast sins into rivers to forget them; she’d merely done the same.

The sun came through the iron bars, the sun slipped out of them again at night. Someone had told her once that she was like the sun, and yet, there she remained. Day in and day out, the spring and the merry-making and the Easter preparations underway, and no one was thinking of her, and no one cared, and nobody loved her and no one ever had.

She’d loved a man who’d tasted like the gates of hell. She’d loved him, yes; a love so pure. She’d loved him and told him she was afraid and he’d left her anyway, and she’d cast her sins into the river, and now she would be punished for playing God.

The spring would swell the banks and bring the waters to her six feet under and the water would taste like green eyes and a tuft of auburn hair and tiny fingers that gripped hers with an innocent coo, and she would cry, and she would wail, and her lamentations would ring through the mountains for all of eternity.

And he would never come, and he would never rescue her, and he would never love her again.

mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 1/6/2014

Whoops more Muse high school AU. Music for atmosphere: “Closer” by The Tiny.

~

His bedroom both was and wasn’t what she’d expected: clean, decorated with various trophies and classical music awards, a whole wall featuring framed originals of his compositions; but it didn’t feel very lived in. It was like a themed hotel room, designed down to the last detail to make whoever stayed there feel welcome, but not too welcome.

Maybe that was why he was sick, she thought, staring at the hospital bracelet on his too thin wrist. Maybe if he threw some clothes on the floor or tracked dirt on the carpet or ate food in there every once in a while, he wouldn’t have ended up in the emergency room.

He hadn’t stirred when she came in a few minutes ago. He’d probably be mad at her if he found her in his room - or in his house for that matter - without his godly permission, so she didn’t plan on staying. She wasn’t even sure why she was there in the first place. Guilt, or something. She ate lunch with the guy every day and hadn’t said a word about the food he never touched. She just assumed he was eating at home.

But that was it, wasn’t it? She was always assuming. He had money and talent, his life was so easy, he was loved by so many people. He couldn’t possibly have problems, and if he did, they weren’t real problems. The privileged couldn’t have real problems. It was all in their head.

His eyes opened. Orihime’s heart jumped into her throat, followed by a myriad of excuses. Homework delivery? They didn’t have any classes together. Sarah invited her? She wasn’t home, fuck. It was on the way? She lived in Lakewood, the exact opposite direction of Steilacoom. “Err…”

“Ms. Inoue,” he said groggily, “what a surprise.”

Orihime’s string of excuses fell apart like a worn out bead necklace. A surprise? He was surprised? What the hell did he think of her? That she was only pretending to be his friend to get something from him? That she’d heard about him passing out in class and laughed? She’d faked period cramps and humiliated herself to get to the nurse’s office to see him before Matthew took him to the ER, and quite frankly, she never wanted to see him like that again.

She stood from his desk chair and sat on the edge of his bed. “Move over.”

Ulquiorra stared at her, cloudy-eyed and rumpled, unsure if he’d heard her right. “Huh?”

“Move,” she snapped, and he was so bewildered that he obeyed. Orihime flopped over beside him, slid her arms around his torso, and buried her face in his chest. His shoulder blades were more pronounced than they should have been. His shirt didn’t fit him quite right. There was so little to hold onto, and yet, she felt his heart beating hard against her forehead and a flood of tears rushed to her eyes. “You’re an idiot,” she whispered, her voice catching.

Ulquiorra stared past her shoulder at the clock on his nightstand. It was 11:52am. She’d ditched school to come see him.

He lifted her head, brushed away the tear that rolled down her cheek with his lips, followed the path the others had left, to her trembling mouth. He’d never kissed her before. He’d never even thought of kissing her, not once. But there in the darkness, as he sank into the depths of a vast and silent ocean with no strength left to swim, it was all he wanted to do.

And so he did. 
mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 1/4/2015

Prompt 2 also ended up being about the Muse brats, but in the high school AU. You’ll notice that M!Hime is always the same, whether she’s with TY!Ulqui at age 21 or with M!Ulqui at age 15. Hot chocolate and a hat store!

~

“How about this one?”

Ulquiorra sighed into his hot green tea. He stood a safe distance away from Orihime and his sister Sarah, who had forced him along on their trip to the Tacoma Mall because he was the only one between the three of them who had a car. “It sounds like it could be fun,” his mother had said in that if-you-don’t-take-them-I’ll-be-heartbroken voice.

“You’re absolutely right, mother. Let’s place bets on how long it’ll take Ms. Inoue to realize Sarah’s in love with her,” he’d replied with an amused smirk.

His real motivation for coming was to buy a few ounces of tea from the tea store. He’d ended up laden with that, a carry out beverage container balancing two cups of hot chocolate, several bags of clothing that weren’t his, plus a Batman coffee mug that Orihime had purchased for him, claiming that it suit him perfectly somehow.

Sarah turned, modeling a beret she’d plucked off of a hat rack. “Nice!” Orihime said, then sighed enviously. “Berets just don’t look good on me. Neither do those long beanies that flop in the back.”

“Really? With all that air in your head?” Ulquiorra muttered, earning him a smack in the stomach.

“Nobody asked you.” She picked up a sun hat, placed it on her head, and made herself look as bored as possible. “Darling, you simply must go to the deli on Broadway while you’re in the city,” she said in an exaggerated old Hollywood voice.

Ulquiorra stared at her over the lid of his cup, a little longer than he meant to. She was beautiful; glamorous, even, like she’d been born for money, but ended up selling herself to get it. Judging by Sarah’s expression, she’d noticed it too. Orihime blinked, looking from Sarah to Ulquiorra and back again. “Geez, it must be awful.” She replaced the sun hat on a rack and tried on a cloche instead. “I think my hair’s too long for this one.”

“No!” said Sarah, recovering. “It’s cute! Isn’t it cute, Ulquiorra?”

Ulquiorra thought it made her look forlorn. “Are you almost done? My hand is cramping from all of these bags.”

“Oooh, his precious hand!” Orihime laughed, looping her arm through Sarah’s and dragging her away. “Come on, let’s go check out the shoes so the poor guy can sit down.” 
mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 1/1/15

Muse brats being silly! Don’t worry, I’ll write the other one too!

~*~

The university was close to two hours from their home on the hills of Dupont, Washington; therefore, Orihime spent close to two hours crying, through traffic and waterfront views and one pathetic excuse for a rain shower. Ulquiorra pretended not to notice.

Everything felt empty. The car felt empty without Scarlet’s mountain of crap blocking the rearview. The house had felt empty when they left it that morning, Scarlet chatting on the phone with her roommate about her estimated arrival time. A little corner of Ulquiorra’s heart felt empty too, but hey, at least he wasn’t embarrassing himself crying about it. His wife had obviously missed the memo.

Orihime sniffled at the intersection in town, whimpered as they drove past the place Scarlet had once fallen off her bike and scraped her knee. She blubbered a bit when they pulled into the garage, car shutting off as the door closed behind them. Ulquiorra sighed.

“Calm down,” he muttered halfheartedly, “we can visit her this weekend.” Orihime made a vague noise and blew her nose into a napkin from her glove compartment stash. Ulquiorra looked at her. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“This sucks,” she spat, turning to him with a miserable grimace. “Of all the people in the world, why do I have to be one of the ones who gets empty nest syndrome?”

“Because you aren’t heartless,” Ulquiorra said, then immediately realized his mistake when she started to bawl. “Hey,” he put a hand on her shoulder, “this college business is nothing to cry about. You should be celebrating. Somehow, despite all the odds stacked against you, you not only gave birth to a healthy child, but raised her so well that she’s now on the road to pursue her own future. Aren’t you amazed by that? I am.”

Orihime hiccupped. “Really?”

“Of course. My first impression of you was that you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a child, let alone be given permission to raise one.”

She glared at him over her hands. He looked innocently away. “Furthermore, this is the first time we’ve truly had the house to ourselves since we moved in, if you catch my meaning.”

The glare eased into a bewildered stare. Ulquiorra withdrew the keys from the ignition and got out of the car, then went around and opened Orihime’s door for her. She climbed out, thoughtful and sniffling. He made it as far as the house entrance before she grabbed his arm, turned him around, threw him against the door, and pulled his head down into a very aggressive kiss. Ulquiorra’s eyes flew wide, hands scrambling behind him. Orihime drew back and gave him a sorrowful look. “I miss Scarlet.”

“Me too,” he agreed, finding and twisting the doorknob and all but falling into the laundry room. Orihime had her coat off before she’d stepped over the threshold, and tossed it onto the washing machine carelessly.

“I miss her so much!” she sighed, lunging for him again. He had enough sense to kiss her back this time, though he almost fell over a second time when she wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She looked him dead in the eye as he pressed her into the wall. “It feels empty inside.”

“Impossible, I can hardly carry you,” Ulquiorra answered, deadpanned. Orihime rolled her eyes.

“Oh shut up, you can make it to the couch at least.”

~

“Hey Mom!”

“Scarlet!” Orihime pointed to the phone she held with her free hand. “It’s Scarlet.” She beamed at Ulquiorra, who was walking - a bit crookedly - from the kitchen to the dining table with two plates of food in hand and a wine bottle under his arm. “What’s up, sweetie? Everything alright?”

“Yeah, just calling to say good night. You didn’t cry too much, did you?”

Orihime snorted as Ulquiorra set down one of the plates in front of her. “Who do you think you’re talking to?”

Her daughter let out an identical snort. “You cried a lot, then.”

“Your dad says hi.”

“No I don’t.”

“Paco, really?”

Scarlet laughed. “Tell him I said hi back. Don’t kill each other, okay?”

Ulquiorra uncorked the wine bottle, eyed the glass on the table for a moment, then handed the entire bottle to Orihime. She gave him an approving smile. “We won’t.” They said their good nights, then she put her phone away and eyed Ulquiorra’s backside up and down as he walked back to the kitchen for water. “What are we toasting?” she asked.

“Our excellent parenting skills.”

“To our bad-ass parenting skills!” Orihime cried, thrusting the wine bottle into the air victoriously. “And to Paco Jr. for trying so hard to get me pregnant again.”

“Don’t you dare,” Ulquiorra said from the kitchen. His lower back was killing him; he wasn’t sure he’d be able to survive sending a second child to college. 

...

Apr. 28th, 2015 06:09 pm
mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 12/23/2014

 The deep spring of sadness is back, and I must get this heaviness off of my chest. Tell Yourself universe; adult things I wanted to explore.

~

It was what one would call a “sensitive subject.” A fresh, badly hidden wound that bled and ached and screamed. Touching a sensitive subject was widely regarded as impolite. However, they were not that easy to avoid.

When two people suffered in the same confined space, it was impossible not to bump into those wounds. When two people had to look at each other every day, eat meals together, share a bed, there was no point in trying to hide their pain. They’d learned that lesson the hard way back in the early days of their relationship, and perhaps in a moment of youthful naivety, they’d promised it would never happen again.

Then she’d gotten cramps. Then she’d rushed to the bathroom to protect her clothes from getting stained. Then he’d walked in and found her crying, asked her what was wrong, and she could no longer stop herself from crashing straight into the sensitive subject:

“It was late. I thought… this time, for sure…”

She was angry at him. Angry at herself. Every day she faced the room of smiling, innocent children - children that weren’t hers - and a tempest raged inside of her.

Why did he get to pretend that he was the only one hurting?

How dare he shut himself away from her. How dare he hide his heart from her when he was the only person she could confide in about this. How dare he become cold to her touch. And how dare she be angry at the both of them for having equally valid feelings.

Two months passed. Two months of strained and meaningless conversations, of sleeping with their backs turned, of sitting up at night staring at her wedding band in tears because it was only a matter of time before he left her; when finally, she lost it.

She filled their silences with yelling. Closed the distance between them with hands grabbing and shaking and hitting where the hole in his chest used to be. Appealing to the heart he’d buried beneath the sands of his past, the heart that loved her at her ugliest, because she didn’t want to feel alone in that big house anymore, because hurting together didn’t have to be a bad thing. If he was upset with her, if he thought she’d been unfair, she wanted to know. If he was upset with himself, if he was afraid, if he thought he’d failed her because he couldn’t give her a child, she wanted to know.

Anything but this, she sobbed, as she lost the strength to keep hitting him and threatened to collapse on the floor.

But he caught her before she could fall. Caught her and held her against him so tight that it almost hurt. Held her without speaking, but the tears she felt landing on her shoulder were evidence enough that he’d returned to her, sorry that he’d been gone for so long.

They spent the evening nursing each other’s wounds. She told him that she was his, that she would never regret choosing him, that no matter what happened they would face it together. He told her he loved her, again and again, in the heat of passion and in the quiet and uncertain moments after.

They were still scared, of course. There was nothing that wasn’t frightening about trying to make a marriage between two completely unique individuals work. But it was their hearts that had brought them together, and they knew it was their hearts that would keep them that way.

Four months later, she turned up at the shop with a hand resting beneath her navel and an enormous, watery smile on her face.

Same Old

Apr. 28th, 2015 06:07 pm
mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 12/16/2014

The Muse brats as seniors was requested because the other outcome is too sad. TwT

~

Forty years into a marriage was probably considered too late to be complaining about her spouse, but Orihime was determined to do it anyway. “Will you please take your father to live with you?” she whispered to her daughter Scarlet. “He’s taken to fiddling around with his other wife at two in the morning and I don’t think I’ve gotten any REM sleep in the past week. Which, in case you didn’t know, is very dangerous. Lab rats deprived of REM sleep died in two days.” She leaned closer. “I think he’s trying to kill me.”

Scarlet couldn’t help smiling at the ways her parents had rubbed off on each other. In her childhood, it was always her dad who went on long tangents to prove or reach a point, and lately her mother had started up too. She leaned back on the couch to look around at her father, who was hanging ornaments from the Christmas tree and didn’t seem all that happy about it. “Dad, are you trying to kill Mom?”

Orihime whacked Scarlet’s arm. “Traitor!”

Ulquiorra paused, turning his head to give his daughter an unreadable stare. “Maybe.”

“Can you stop? I know you think it’s a good idea now, but you’ll regret it when there’s no one around to nag you.”

“You lived with us for twenty years. How are you not on my side?” Ulquiorra complained, while Orihime let out a triumphant squawk. He turned his glare on her instead. “Inspiration doesn’t sleep, woman. If you had a shred of talent, you would understand this.”

“You wanna go, old man?” Orihime snapped, standing from the couch.

“Mom, don’t get excited.”

“She’s survived one heart attack already. A wrestling match won’t kill her. Hell, I’m starting to think nothing will.”

Scarlet buried her face in her hands. “I’m too pregnant for this,” she sighed, effectively stopping both parents in their tracks.

“You’re what?!” Orihime shouted.

“Who did this to you?” Ulquiorra demanded.

“The popular theory is my husband, Dad.”

Orihime burst into tears. Ulquiorra pulled her into his arms, the argument forgotten. “Look, you’ve upset your mother.”

“I’m old!” Orihime sobbed. “Old and getting older and now some brat’s going to be hanging around calling me grandma!”

“Really?” Scarlet stared at them flatly. “You can’t even be a little happy for me?” But her mother was too inconsolable to speak, and her father was fussing over her, trying every sarcastic remark and insult in his arsenal to distract her. Scarlet shook her head and smiled. Of course they were happy for her. The complaints about age were just her mother’s lame excuses for her emotional display. “I’ve got ultrasound pictures, if you’re interested.”

Orihime wailed even louder. “Now who’s trying to kill her?” Ulquiorra said defensively, and stroked her hair. “Calm down, woman, you’re embarrassing yourself.” 
mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 12/14/2014 

POKEMON AU!

~

“What I don’t understand is why you cannot be civil towards each other.” Ulquiorra looked at his Honchkrow, which bowed its head in shame, then at his Fearow, which looked determinedly at something else. “You are both under my command now. I expected the turf wars to stop with this new brotherhood, but apparently I need to lecture you like a pair of children.” Fearow squawked at him indignantly. “I don’t care who started it. You will behave, or you will not be allowed out of the gym.”

Grimmjow, sitting nearby, let out a long sigh. “Two weeks without her and he’s become the bird whisperer again.” It had been business as usual since Ulquiorra had returned to the gym and gotten the Murkrow-Spearow war under control. But even Grimmjow had to admit that there was something off about his best friend, and he suspected he knew exactly what.

Honchkrow lifted its beak, spotted something in the distance, and nudged Fearow with its wing. The other bird narrowed its eyes, but then followed Honchkrow’s gaze and its expression changed. Both birds snickered and took flight simultaneously, leaving Ulquiorra wondering what had gotten into them. Then, “Well, would you look at the time! Gotta go!” Grimmjow announced, clearing the gym yard’s stone fence in one leap and vanishing.

Ulquiorra blinked. He turned his head in the direction of the birds’ amused glances.

Orihime Inoue, the new league champion, stood at the entrance of the yard with her hands behind her back and a smile on her face. She looked no different than the day he’d met her in the woods, desperately chasing his Murkrow to get her hairpins back, and yet so much had changed that Ulquiorra found himself at a loss for words.

“Aren’t you going to say hi?” she suggested.

“Yes,” he replied, then amended, “hello,” then amended again, “congratulations.”

Orihime strolled forward. “Thanks! I thought the interviews and parades would never end, it was exhausting!” He met her halfway, hands in his pockets. “Not that it wasn’t fun, too.”

“I wouldn’t know.” They stopped a few feet away from each other. “I was on my way back when the battle took place, I’m afraid. Haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, because…”

“The birds?”

“The damn birds,” Ulquiorra finished, and Orihime laughed, knowing he both meant it and didn’t.

“It’s okay. I haven’t watched it myself - I mean, I lived it - but I haven’t seen a replay. Too nervous. A lot happened that day.”

“Right. Kurosaki must have been surprised to lose.”

“He was quite shocked!”

“And your confession, as well.”

“Oh, you totally should have been there! I looked him straight in the eye and I said, ‘Ichigo, you inspired me to start my own journey and gave me a Pokemon to do it with. I’m very grateful to you! And after coming all this way and going through all this trouble to confess my feelings for you, I have to apologize, because I’m not in love with you at all.’ I think his eyes were about to fall out of his head.”

Ulquiorra stared at her. “Huh?”

Orihime giggled and looked at him meaningfully. “Ichigo’s great, but… he wasn’t the one who kept me going when I thought about giving up. And he definitely wasn’t the one who fought off wild Ursaring to protect me. And he wasn’t the one accompanying me every step of the way when he had a gym to run.”

“He wasn’t, was he,” Ulquiorra said quietly. She shook her head. “The other guy, though… he may not be as impressive as you make him sound.”

“No?” She bridged the gap between them.

“For all you know, he could just be an insensitive feather-brained jerk who tames bird Pokemon because he’s good at it, and not because he enjoys it in the slightest.”

Orihime took his face in her hands. “And what’s so bad about that?”

Ulquiorra’s arm circled her waist. “Give me enough time, and I’ll show you.” Then her lips met his, and for once he didn’t mind the laughing crows of the busybody birds that had gathered to watch.

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 12/14/2014

 SWAN LAKE/FAIRY TALE AU

~

The moon loomed large and full in the sky above, and on the lake’s surface where it was mirrored, and in the princess’s eyes as she gazed at it with something like longing. She had learned to love that moon, the means by which her humanity was restored. But alas, she could not be fully satisfied, for she knew that her salvation meant condemnation for another.

The sound of wings drew her attention back to the darkness of night. Having stared at the moon for so long, she did not immediately see the shadow flitting amongst the stars until it was practically upon her, and shortly there landed Ulquiorra Cifer, the princess’s one and only companion. With long talons, bat wings, a wiry tail, and a gaping hole in his chest, he was not one to inspire anything but fear in mortal men. Yet Orihime Inoue could only smile at him, and stand from the chair that had been left out for her by the sorcerer Aizen. “Good evening, Ulquiorra! Have you any news from my kingdom?”

Ulquiorra drew his wings closer around him. “They still search for their lost princess,” he said, “but the years have not been kind to them. There are no leads that could take them here, and even then, no magician skilled enough to remove the curse that binds your highness to this lake.”

Orihime’s smile was tinged with sorrow. “I see.” She drew in a deep breath, then reached out and pinched his cheek. “And for the last time, call me Orihime! Aren’t we friends?”

His eyes, discolored and beastly, widened marginally. “My apologies, your highness.” She frowned. “Forgive me… Orihime.”

Satisfied, the princess let go of his pale skin and turned her gaze back to the moon. “If only the both of us could be human at the same time! Not me a bird when you’re a man, and you a beast when I’m a woman. Wouldn’t that be something?”

“Does this form displease you?”

“No, nothing like that,” she said, clasping her hands behind her back. “I merely tire of feeling sorry for the both of us.”

Ulquiorra watched her watch the moon above, as if at any moment it would free them itself, and he was certain that if his heart had still been in his chest, he would have felt it stir.

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 12/13/2014

 Drabbles from the AUs I didn’t write! Starting with QUIZ BOWL.

~

Calling him out was a bold move, but Orihime had always been a bold person. She walked a safe distance from the rest of HM Private Academy’s grinning, snickering team members, with their silent captain in tow, aware of her friends’ concerned stares from across the auditorium. What would he think of her question? Would it seem vain of her to ask? She swallowed her nerves and turned to face him as soon as they were out of earshot. It couldn’t be helped; she’d have no peace until she knew for sure. “Umm, sorry for inconveniencing you like this, Cifer-san. It’s just that… whenever we compete against each other, it seems like you target me intentionally. I don’t want to think badly of you, so I figured I’d ask you directly…”

Ulquiorra Cifer, the genius of HM Private Academy, regarded her with pocketed hands and a blank expression. “You are not wrong,” he said.

Orihime blinked. “Eh?”

His green eyes bore into hers. “Why is someone like you on Karakura’s team? They were already the laughing stock of the district before you came along.”

Her mouth fell open.

“This is a competitive environment, not an elementary school field trip. If you will not take it seriously, then you should find a club more suited to your personality. It is insulting to the rest of us to be pitted against the likes of you.”

Orihime’s mouth had gone dry, her face bloodless. There was a roaring in her ears. Was she hallucinating? Had she imagined all of that? Because there was no way anyone speak such unbelievably rude words so casually, right?

But Ulquiorra neither looked away nor back down. “Is that all you wanted to know?”

The blood rushed back to her face. She lowered her head and nodded once. Her breathing sounded wrong. She was just standing there, and he was headed back to his teammates…

“Cifer-san!” she blurted out, catching the attention of half the auditorium, staff and students and judges included. He stopped walking. She pointed a shaking finger at him. “We won’t lose!” she screamed, “I won’t be scared off! We’re going to wipe the floor with you, and then you’ll be sorry!”

He graced her with a disgusted glare. Most of his teammates were howling with laughter now. Orihime whirled around and stomped back to Karakura’s table, bowing her head to hide the tears of mortification brimming on her eyelids. “Inoue, what happened?” Ichigo asked.

“Are you okay, Orihime?”

“What did he say to you, Inoue-san?!”

Orihime took a deep breath. “It doesn’t matter,” she declared, straightening her shoulders. “I’m okay. What’s important is that we make it to regionals this year and send HM Private Academy packing, am I right?!”

She was met with several doubtful glances. Her shoulders sagged again. This was going to be harder than she thought.

mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 12/12/14

Sad drabble as I try to scoop all this sadness out of me and unapologetically hurt you all in the process. Muse-verse.

~

7AM, the alarm clock rings. It took her two hours to fall asleep the night before. She glares at the ceiling.

7:50AM, she wipes the condensation from the bathroom mirror and stares at her reflection. Everything’s gravitating downwards no matter how much she exercises. Lines, crevices, bags. She hasn’t dyed her hair in six years.

9AM, she drives to her daughter’s to help with the grandchildren. They’re all youth and energy, running from place to place, showing off disastrous masterpieces in their coloring books. Her daughter asks her how she’s doing. She can’t complain. Then she chases her grandkids around the backyard until she’s too tired to move.

1PM, she heads into work. The shelter is full of girls with mistrustful eyes and haggard appearances. They stare defiantly at her as she talks to them. But little by little, their defenses fall. Little by little, they begin to hope, and to love themselves again.

5PM, she arrives home and makes dinner for herself. It’s not very good. It’s never been very good, but lately it hasn’t tasted the same, which makes it worse.

6PM, she watches Wheel of Fortune, grumbling that the new host isn’t as good as Pat Sajak, may he rest in peace. She yells at the contestants to stop being greedy and solve the damn puzzle already. She laughs when their greed lands them on bankruptcy.

8:30PM, she gets ready for bed, because who is she kidding, she’s sleepy.

9PM, her fingertips caress the black piano. She says hello, and sits on the bench, removing the cover from the keys. She make a clumsy attempt at Claire de Lune because she’s always liked it - who doesn’t? It’s slow going. She can’t get up to the right tempo without pressing the wrong keys, and she’d rather play it lento than play it wrong. But it sounds off to her anyway, as if both herself and the piano are too tired to make it beautiful.

10PM, she lays in bed, staring at the empty space beside her. She reaches behind her for the phone on her nightstand and navigates the menu. At the very bottom of her music playlist, a sound file that’s traveled from phone to computer to phone and phone again; a file that’s survived for half a century. She taps on it, and places the phone on the bed next to her.

Do I really have to do this?

Uh, yeah. An unreleased track from the late Ulquiorra Schiffer? I’ll be filthy rich.

If you outlive me, that is.”

Are you going to play or what?”

…sometimes I get the feeling that you don’t love me at all, Ms. Inoue.

Quit yer bellyaching.

There’s a beat of silence in which she can see him clearly, in the light of the Las Noches apartment, sitting on the piano bench, glaring at her. Before the gray showed up in their hair, before he felt their daughter move beneath her skin and smiled, before he put the ring on her finger, before the nights they would stay up planning their next vacation, before they needed a calculator to keep up with their anniversaries, before his arms slipped around her for the last time.

Then the music begins, more lovely than anything she could ever play.

And in minutes, she’s asleep. 

Moonlight

Apr. 28th, 2015 05:53 pm
mistkitt: (Default)

Originally posted 12/8/2014

Faust AU on the brain, and I don’t think I’ve actually written an interaction between F!Ulqui and Hime yet. This may or may not make it into the story.

~

It was bitterly cold. Darkness reigned, the pale moon above doing little more than separating shadows from each other. The air was thinner at this altitude; Orihime felt lightheaded, but she refused to complain. She walked with her arms out in front of her, cloak dragging, fallen leaves and snow and twigs crunching beneath the boots she’d been provided.

“Stay close to me,” the doctor had told her, “don’t wander off.”

But she’d lost sight of him in the night, wondering how he could walk so certainly through woods that looked the same to her. As far as she could tell, there was no path, no destination. He hadn’t even told her where they were going…

A light caught the corner of her eye. Orihime stopped, breathing heavily, seeking the source of the illumination. There was a flame suspended in the air several feet away. “Hello?” she called out to it. “Doctor, is that you?”

The flame bounced back and forth in response. Orihime couldn’t see a body attached to the torch, but it was so dark, the glare could have merely been obscuring the person holding it. She walked towards it, tree branches grasping at her clothes and tickling her chin. It was getting closer, closer now, then growing distant as if it were walking away from her. “Wait!” she cried, picking up a side of her skirt and breaking into a jog.

Her foot came down on open air. A strangled scream tore from her throat. At the same moment, a hand seized her upper arm and pulled her roughly backwards, away from the cliff that she had very nearly fallen off of. Orihime looked behind her. The afterimage of the flame burned in her eyes, but she saw moonlight in the doctor’s green. “I believe I told you not to wander off, woman.”

“Y-You’re hurting me,” she whispered. She could feel his grip on her arm straight to the bone.

He let her go and turned his back on her. “These woods are dangerous. Keep your eyes on me. Do not look about you.”

Orihime nodded wordlessly, rubbing her aching skin as she followed after him again. But she couldn’t help the chill that ran down her spine. Something in that forest had just tried to kill her. Something inhuman, supernatural; something the doctor knew about… and wasn’t afraid of. 
mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 12/4/2014 

BELATED BIRTHDAY DRABBLE FOR ULQUIORRA. Tell Yourself universe. I just love making him happy ok 

~

Jackie Tristan entered the Cifer residence with an exhausted sigh. She’d only pulled an eight-hour shift at work that day, but her coworkers had insisted she go drinking with them, and for once she’d had no excuse not to.

In the living room, Riruka Dokugamine reclined on the couch, balancing a pencil on her nose. A dollhouse was situated on the table before her. Jackie sent her a confused look. “They still in there?” she asked. Riruka held up a finger as Jackie approached. Faintly, sounds of rapid gunfire came up from the dollhouse, and through one of the tiny windows Jackie could see paint on the walls.

“We work for five-year-olds,” Riruka declared.

It was certain. Captain Inoue had staged her own death and run off with her lover, the two of them marrying in secret and having a child together. What her husband didn’t know was that Captain Inoue had never truly given up on revenge. The marriage, the baby, the obnoxiously pink house – everything, weapons in her arsenal of psychological warfare. All she’d had to do was wait until Captain Cifer had grown complacent…

…and he’d still beaten her.

Presently, Captain Inoue sat dying against the wall, a small heart on her sweater and an entire clip of paint bullets in her gut. Above her loomed Ulquiorra Cifer, her husband and the father of her child. The gun in his hand was empty, the look on his face betraying no emotion. “You were a fool to think that I would trust you,“ he said.

"What gave me away?” his adversary rasped, pretending to cough up blood.

“You had more guns stashed around the house than the couple from that American film.”

Orihime perked up. “Do you think Jackie-san and Riruka-chan have seen it yet? We should watch it tonight!” Ulquiorra stared at her. “Oh, sorry,” she put on a pained expression, “I knew I should have kept them in the shed!”

“To think you spent all that time waiting to take revenge, and you were still defeated. I almost pity you.” His voice was as cold as it had been in his hollow days. Orihime smirked.

“Who says I lost?”

Red paint splattered the back of Ulquiorra’s shirt. His eyes widened. He turned slowly, the weapon slipping from his hand.

Five year old Satsuki Cifer stood in the doorway, pointing a tiny paint gun straight at him.

“Have you met my number two?” Orihime cooed.

“Impossi—!” Two more paint bullets hit Ulquiorra in the chest. He fell to his knees. This couldn’t be. His wife’s betrayal, he understood perfectly well. But his daughter’s? He glared at the child as she walked up to finish him off. “Why?” he asked. “What do you stand to gain from this?”

Satsuki’s frown was identical to his. “The insurance money.” She looked over his shoulder. “Right Mama?”

“Right!” Orihime agreed.

Ulquiorra tried to hold onto his glare. With anyone else, it would have been easy. But this was his five year old daughter, and he could easily picture Orihime coaching her on what to say before they entered the dollhouse, and the little girl agreeing with all of her childish enthusiasm. What did a little girl know of insurance money? What would she even buy with it, a million pieces of bubblegum? He turned his head, hid his mouth behind his hand, and laughed.

Orihime gawked at him. Satsuki, startled at the sight, dropped her gun and flailed her arms. “I broke Papa!” she cried, her Ulquiorra-like frown replaced by a very Orihime-esque panicked face, which only made her father laugh harder.

Much later,when they were all out of the dollhouse, cleaned up, and Captain Inoue had been properly rewarded for her victory, Ulquiorra would assure his wife that as far as birthdays went, that one made the top five.

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 12/4/2014

 Ulquihime Pokemon crossover. BAM. (The smut drabbles are on hold because they’re actually fairly long.)

~

“You’re an asshole, you know that?” Ulquiorra didn’t even bother to turn away from the stack of mail that had accumulated in his absence. Grimmjow stood by the door, arms folded over his chest, scowling a deeper scowl than usual. “You could have seriously injured her Pokemon.”

“She should have taken more time to train them.”

He rolled his eyes. “That’s so not what this is about.”

Ulquiorra ripped open an envelope and glanced at its contents. Usual gym leader business: decisions made by the league, reminders to reapply for licenses, pay dues on time. He tossed it aside. “Enlighten me, then.”

“Gladly!” Grimmjow pointed at him. “You’re pissed off because she’s friends with Kurosaki.” Ulquiorra scoffed. “It’s true! Don’t act like I don’t know! Kurosaki challenged this gym four times before he won, and each time you told him to give up, it only made him want to keep trying. How embarrassing for you when someone actually beat you through effort and not talent!”

Ulquiorra’s Skarmory lifted its head from its wing and hissed at him. Grimmjow’s Liepard hissed back. Ulquiorra himself continued to sort the mail, unconcerned. “Know what? Screw you. I’m not going to let that girl quit, so when she comes back and kicks your ass, you can address your thanks to Grimmjow.”

Several minutes after he had gone, Ulquiorra put down the stack of envelopes and stared at them.

“Imbalance of power? What about it?

His eyes narrowed.

“You thought I’d give up just because you’re stronger than me?”

He left the office behind and wandered out into the dark arena, where hours earlier his Honchkrow had blown the woman’s Pokemon away as if they were stray feathers. But rather than see her in the shadows, he saw Ichigo Kurosaki, far from league champion, his Combusken struggling to stand.

“I knew from the start that you were strong. But knowing how strong you are makes no difference. I’m going to beat you, Ulquiorra.

The woman’s smile flashed through his mind.

Kurosaki-kun gave me this Torchic. I want to become strong; strong enough to beat him, to show him my gratitude. And when I’ve done that, it’ll be okay… for me to tell him how I feel about him…”

Ulquiorra lifted his head. In the darkness above, he could see a clumpy shape on one of the beams, a long stinger hanging down in the open air.

If the woman even thought of coming back to his gym with that nonsense, his Gliscor would make sure she didn’t do it again.

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