written by A. E. Stover
this version is self-edited

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She wields a power of unending grief,
Eager to quell the tempest left
Inside to howl for centuries without
Knowing the depth or weight of pain,
And fights to keep it from consuming her soul.

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Do I hate him for choosing me, this being whose soul my very existence is bound to? This is the question I am often asked.

When we were first introduced, he had said to me that I was nothing without him; that I would cease to exist if I didn’t live as if I were fighting to survive just one more hour, just one more day…

It would have been wonderful if his spiteful nature ended with those words, but it had barely begun. Every spar I swung my sword in, every Hollow I cut down, he’d say that I was doing something wrong. He would yell at me, curse at me, spit at me:

You’re too slow! What’s wrong with you? Your ass too heavy for you to move? Is that it? 

How could you miss? It was right in front of you! Don’t you have eyes? Use your goddamn eyes! 

Why didn’t you block left? Now look at you, you’re bleeding onto my hilt! 

I told you not to let him catch you off guard! What were you doing? Did you want to die?

During those times of battle, his tongue was a spiteful cobra. It hissed venomous words that were deadlier than the sharpest sword. In my earlier years, if I had to describe the sound of his voice, I would have said that it grated against your ears. And loudly so, because he was always yelling. He never spoke to you — he yelled at you. And he never asked for something — he demanded it. His words made me lose focus, made me lose confidence, and made me lose heart. I began to lose myself in battle; I’d fumble with my sword in the midst of an attack. I’d lose my balance. I’d forget to keep my guard up. And I’d allow my fear to swallow me whole.

On some year back then, there was a time when I almost died. I remember it, as it was also a time when he  began to grow silent and indifferent towards me. His disappointment radiated off his soul, penetrating to the depths of my own, and I knew that in my disappointing him I had inevitably made him see that I was no longer of any worth to him. I would lose my balance and he would be silent. I would drop my sword in battle, and he would be still. I once tore my shoulder open against an enemy, and there wasn’t even the slightest waver of concern that I felt from his soul. Instead, the sword in my hand grew heavier and heavier, and the bond placed between us grew more and more painful to live with.

I had been rejected.

He broke his silence some time after and began yelling again, though this time it was at Ulquiorra. He would yell about this and that; little things that didn’t matter. Ulquiorra didn’t always respond; mostly Ulquiorra just sat there watching programs or reading the paper. You’d think it would have been for the better, this patient silence that came from an unwillingness to create unnecessary trouble, but it had only made things worse. When he didn’t get a response from Ulquiorra every now and then, he would get furious and come to the ridiculous notion that he was being disrespected. Then he would try and instigate a fight, this time physical, and when he failed he would sulk off somewhere like a child.

I’ve never seen Ulquiorra react to any of these outbursts, which happen even now. I’ve asked him once, a long time ago, why he put up with it. He had said to me, in his dispassionate, monotonous tone:

“There is a hundred years’ worth of despair that was sealed along with him that came from watching everything he had, including himself, be taken away.”

A child, I had said of him before. But now it is different. Now, I say;

A human. He is simply human.

Do I hate him for choosing me, this being whose soul my very existence is bound to? This being, whose harsh words and voice are venomous and spiteful from carrying a hundred years’ worth of despair?

“No. I don’t hate him,” is my answer when I am asked this question, less and less as the years pass and as I grow, “At least, not really.”

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