mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 4/28/2015

 AN EPILOGUE because my brain is frantically trying to balance out the tragic vs happy endings.

~

Inoue hadn’t been the same since the virus was deleted from her laptop. Ichigo still saw her in class, but she never spoke to him. She didn’t speak to anyone that wasn’t Tatsuki, and according to Tatsuki, her perpetual cheerfulness had yet to return from its wanderings.

So when Kisuke Urahara requested to meet with Orihime, she refused. For two days, she refused. She was tired. Her exhaustion made it hard for her to get out of bed. She’d been skipping classes and meals, sleeping more often. She hadn’t touched her computer in weeks. But if seeing the hacker would help her get back to normal somehow, what did she really have to lose, other than a little bit of time?

“So happy you could join me, Inoue-san,” Urahara greeted her upon her arrival at the hospital fountain. Why he’d wanted them to meet there in broad daylight was a mystery, but asking questions would extend the interview, and she would rather not be in his company longer than necessary. “You’re wondering why I’ve asked you here, eh? Skeptical? I’ll cut to the chase, then. I’ve discovered the true nature of Aizen-chan’s viruses.”

Orihime stared at the cascading water. “That has nothing to do with me anymore,” she mumbled, but it sounded weak, childish.

Urahara smiled. “Hear me out first. As you’re already aware, my anti-viruses were commanded by living humans from a remote location. Because I was working in secret, my machinery was not the best quality, and endangered the lives of everyone involved. Aizen’s viruses were different - artificially intelligent… or so I assumed.” He gestured to the hospital beyond the fountain. “This is where Aizen worked. Hacking was only his hobby, see. Neuroscience was his true field of expertise.” Orihime stared at the hospital uncertainly. “What Aizen did was use his position and the hospital’s resources to run his terrorist operation. He introduced a new technology that claimed to stimulate the minds of comatose patients, in order to speed their recovery. Gave false hope to the families when he was really trapping his victims into doing his bidding.

"Some, like Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, were able to resist - rebel, even. Four of the patients died when their virus selves were erased. The rest survived, and some have even regained consciousness in the aftermath. Do you understand what I’m saying to you, Inoue-san?”

Orihime’s eyes, fixed on the hospital, had widened considerably. “There…?”

Urahara stood from the fountain and guided her into the building. An elevator ride and several twists and turns later, they arrived at a quiet ward filled with unconscious patients. Orihime’s entire body trembled so violently her teeth were practically chattering. When Urahara stopped beside a door and motioned for her to go in ahead of him, she found herself unable to move. So he helped her inside, keeping her steady as her gaze landed on the bedridden patient, his familiar black hair, his pale skin, the tangle of wires attaching him to advanced hospital monitors. He had no wings, no horns, no stains on his cheeks, no hole in his throat. But it was him. There wasn’t a single doubt in Orihime’s mind.

“Inoue-san, meet Ulquiorra Cifer,” Urahara said cheerfully. “31 years old, works for a software development company, no living family to speak of. Five months ago he was struck by a car and slipped into a coma. Aizen got to him shortly after.”

Tears slipped down Orihime’s cheeks unnoticed. She could only stare.

“According to the doctors, his physical injuries have healed, and his brain activity is healthy. He’s expected to make a full recovery, whenever he wakes up.”

“Can…” Her voice didn’t make it past a whisper. “Can I come visit him, until he does…?”

Would he remember her? Would he think it strange, a nineteen year old college student taking interest in his well being? Would he dismiss her, return to his life as if everything they’d gone through had been a dream, as if he hadn’t held his hand out to her when he was certain he was going to die? She saw that hand now, stuck with an IV, and when she tentatively reached out, when her fingertips registered flesh and not a computer screen, her sobs burst from her chest. He was real.

Urahara smiled gently. “Visit him? Of course. Guy with no family, he’ll probably come to the moment he realizes he’s not alone anymore.”

mistkitt: (Default)
Originally posted 3/30/15

 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.”

“Why not?”

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.

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