It was just... so dark.

The moon that hung high above offered little to no light; bright in its own right, but too selfish to share its illumination with Orihime. She looked up from her perch on the tower, unsure of why she had decided to come here. She was given little freedom in the building, but this night she had managed to find a great many concrete stairs that led to an open-aired overview of the vast expanse of nothingness that was Hueco Mundo.

She let out a slow breath, eyes trained on the desert below. There was so much to hope for, but little of it was left in her heart. Day after day in the silent structure, seething malicious intent from the majority of its occupants, and the wasteland beyond sucked a little bit of life from her as the hours passed. Hopeless thoughts of escape no longer even entered her mind as possibilities. She was accepting her fate graciously, with more of a voluntary silence than dignity.

Light footsteps sliced through the thick quiet like a dull blade, and even through the darkness she knew her caretaker had come.

Her monotonous, condescending caretaker.

"What are you doing up here, woman?"

"I found a staircase," she replied simply.

He had no words in response, and Orihime's eyes slipped away from the selfish moon. She could barely see the hands in front of her face, much less Ulquiorra in his pristine white. But she suspected that he had his hands in his pockets, and even without her eyes she could paint the stony expression on his face, the deep green of his stare that could surely see her better than she could see him. He must be completely used to the dark. Orihime wondered offhandedly if she would live long enough to grow used to it as well.

Inside, worry stirred. She had never expected to view her death with such an apathetic standpoint.

"Woman," Ulquiorra began, the velvet of his voice clashing brilliantly with the coldness of his tone. "Don't move."

Puzzled, Orihime blinked. "Wha-?" But her breath caught in her throat at she soft feel of fingertips on her shoulder. High above, the wicked moon grudgingly allowed a sliver of light to illuminate pale fingers on the first, second button of her dress. Swiftly, though, they were gone, and all that remained was the hand on her shoulder. Orihime felt heat flood her face and forced herself to exhale. "U-Ulquiorra..."

The hand on her shoulder slipped, trailing slowly down the gentle slope between her shoulder and neck, and followed the edge of fabric. Her frozen body snapped awake and she brought her hand to his forearm, pushing at him insistently.

"Ulquiorra, what-"

"Shut up, woman."

She had felt his closeness, but the heated command in her ear made her shiver in realization.

An invisible warmth attached itself to the flesh of her neck and she found her arms trapped between his body and hers. It remained there silently, patiently, and then it detached itself. Ulquiorra's hot breath beckoned goosebumps on her flesh. And then the warmth was back. His lips, thin and dry, brushed over her collar bone. His grip on her dress tightened, and she felt it inch toward her shoulder, bearing more skin to the thick night air.

Her own hand tightened, grabbing a fistful of his sleeve as he kissed his way across her collar and returned to her throat. His lips paused against her pulse point, where he retracted once again.

Orihime's heart raced so hard that she had gone numb, and even at the subtle prompting, she could barely unlatch her fingers from his sleeve.

"Trash is so easy to appease," he said, his voice so near that she could estimate him to be perhaps two inches from her lips. "You have lost your color. Don't grow boring." And then his warmth was gone, and she turned her face in the direction his footsteps traveled, breath coming out in short, erratic pants. Her traitorous heart pounded painfully against her ribcage, and she became aware of the feverish heat in her cheeks.

Without him having to tell her, she quickly followed, buttoning her collar up to normality.

She was flustered and anxious, and she hoped beyond hope that Ulquiorra's meager kisses had not marred her flesh, lest she be bullied by the more brutish occupants of Hueco Mundo.

Ah...

Hope.

Perhaps it had not left her after all.


Being my first UlquiHime (and I really don't think it would have ever been written if a dear friend had not requested it for her birthday), I hope I will have the privilege of receiving criticism and honest thoughts. So, to the reviews I say!