Gen. Orihime is beyond guilt. The only thing left now is the future. Spoilers for the Arrancar Arc. Mild Orihime/Grimmjow/Ulquiorra hints.
Ichigo is here, in this scowling, violent, and spiky-haired Grimmjow. A Kurosaki Ichigo without a family, without that all-powerful drive to protect his friends. Instead, Grimmjow fights for Aizen-sama and loves no-one.
Ishida is here, in this dark-haired, quiet, and proud Ulquiorra. An Ishida Uryuu given a father who taught him how to fight ruthlessly, whose startlingly green eyes never loose their cat-like focus. Instead, Ulquiorra serves Aizen-sama with his entire body and mind.
As they stand on either side of her, their impossibly strong reiatsu makes her shiver as if standing outside on a cold winter night. It doesn't help that they're competing with the other two standing opposite them, their combined energies making the air flicker as if everything was under water.
The bandages on the two boys whom she cannot look at mar the reflection, attesting to the trials they have gone through to get here. To get to her. The boys next to her have been healed with her own hands. Voluntarily, she has aided the people who have tried to kill her friends. Yet, she doesn't feel guilt any more; this has gone far beyond guilt.
Even now, seeing the eyes of betrayal on the faces of her comrades - her nakama - she cannot leave their sides. She cannot blame these twisted boys, only forgive them. And so, she holds back her tears and watches the unmoving ground as they yell at each other, neither pair willing to fight when she stands there in the middle.
Aizen-sama is always watching, even when he is dead, but she has to try to stop the inevitable from happening. Her hands touch Ulquiorra's wrist and Grimmjow's arm at the same time. Shaking, they only rest on alternately cool and warm flesh lightly, but even that is enough to feel the sting of their raging power. They look down at her immediately, anger at being interrupted not enough to have them ignore her. Their power abates; the silence is profound.
"Please," she whispers, her heart breaking for the millionth time into even more pieces. The one thing she cannot heal. "Can't we just leave?"
Her fingers clench against their skin convulsively and Grimmjow shifts uncomfortably. Ulquiorra merely looks at her, and she can feel the assessment in his gaze.
"We can't just let the brats take you back," Grimmjow growls, hand convulsively clenching the hilt of his sword.
As she watches, Ichigo does the same in response.
"You are one of us now," Ulquiorra says in that quiet voice of his that means he is not entirely sure whether or not what he says is true.
How can she ask that they just get along without sounding like a naive child? Finally, she looks up and meets those emerald eyes, pleading in silence. She sees the minuscule slump in his posture and he only breaks her gaze to look over her head at Grimmjow.
The impossible words slide out of his lips sounding just as foreign as they are.
"Perhaps we should... /talk/."
The shock on Kurosaki's face is visible, but Ishida just looks warily relieved.
Some sort of struggle of wills passes between Grimmjow and Ulquiorra's eyes in that long moment, and finally, his hand falls from his zanpakuto.
Trembling with relief even though she knows the long war is not over yet, she nevertheless allows the smallest of smiles to crease her lips. Ulquiorra tilts his head at her with only the smallest hint of amusement before turning to announce their agreement to their opposition. Grimmjow's hand startles her when it seizes her chin in its irresistible grasp. Slowly, she turns her head with it until they are facing one another.
"Think about this carefully, hime-sama."
And then they are walking together, the two sides of the mirror meeting at last. Ulquiorra and Ishida take over, their mutual instincts of politeness overcoming the immense differences between them. They walk towards an undestroyed room and Orihime falls behind, watching the four of her boys walk ahead, into the future.
It has been a long time since she chose to come with Ulquiorra to this black and white place. A long time since this war has started, and a very, very short time since Aizen has been dead. And yet, they change so easily into this new pattern. She envies them.