Genre: General, Angst
Pairing: Ichigo and Orihime
Spoilers: Manga Chapter 271. If you haven't read up to there, don't read this.
Summary: ONESHOT. “At the moment, I can’t fulfill my promise.” He squeezed her hand lightly and leaned in even more. “I know you’re probably tired of hearing me promise so this time, I swear that I’ll save you.” IchiHime. Please read and review. [Complete]
Comments: I wrote this in June of this year (2007) and posted it over at the Ichigo and Orihime forums called: Five Lifetimes, One Love. They enjoyed it and I thought it came out okay. So I hope you all enjoy it as well.
Disclaimer: If I owned Bleach, I'd have Orihime and Ichigo and Rukia in a threesome and Ishida would marry Nemu, while Chad and Karin went off skipping towards the sunset and Yoruichi and Urahara had many kitten babies. Reowr! I don't own Bleach.
“Please don’t let him be dead,” she whispered, a few tears sliding down her cheeks. “Please. Please.”
Everything was silent and the spirit powers around her were pulsating as well as diminishing. Rukia’s spirit thread was slowly regaining strength but Orihime could tell her close friend would be a goner if she engaged in another battle. Closing her eyes once more, Orihime felt Chad’s spirit force and was glad to know that his was also regaining strength. Renji’s spirit power was enlarging as well as shrinking, what was he doing? He must be engaged in a battle with Ishida, because she could feel both of them close to each other.
The only one she couldn’t feel was Ichigo’s and that was making her anxious as well as worried. “Please don’t let him be dead. Please.” Orihime was on her knees with her ear pressed against the wall that faced where she had last felt Ichigo’s reiatsu. She’d been like that since the beginning of Ulquiorra and Ichigo’s fight and she was scared to get away from that spot.
The girl knew that the fourth Espada had already left the area but what she wanted to know was what happened to Ichigo and where was he and if he was alright. Closing her eyes tight, Orihime held her breath and stretched her spirit power as far as she could to try and reach his.
“Your reiatsu is very annoying, woman. Please cease that, you’re allowing all sorts of malformed Hollows to know how tasty your soul is.”
Surprised, Orihime turned her attention towards the door and her eyes widened. “Ulquiorra-san! W-where is Kurosaki-kun?” Quickly, she got up from her spot and walked over to her caretaker. She knew it was a stupid question but she needed to ask it.
With no emotion on his face, Ulquiorra just stared down at her and shook his head slowly. “You’re wasting your words on him. He’s gone, long gone.”
Her arms fell to her side and her expression showed pain as well as sadness and disbelief. Gone? What kind of gone? “What do you mean?” she asked, taking a step closer to him. “You don’t mean-“
“Yes, that gone.” Ulquiorra narrowed his eyes at her before turning around and walking out of the room.
Once the door closed, Orihime slowly fell to her knees, her expression still the same as before. Kurosaki-kun was… dead? A few tears rolled down her cheeks and a silent scream settled in her throat. “Why?” she whispered, her gaze set up towards the ceiling. “Why?”
A few minutes after, Orihime lay on the floor, one hand resting on her abdomen while her other arm lay beside her. Her eyes were set on the ceiling and tears slowly leaked out of her eyes but no sound was made.
She walked alone, her umbrella open and protecting her from the heavy rain. Her brown eyes scanned the area ahead of her and a small smile formed on her face. She still had a while to walk before she reached her house to eat dinner and enjoy an episode of the weekly drama. It was getting good too! The star of the drama had confessed her love to the man of her dreams and all she was waiting was for his reaction. Orihime smiled at the thought and wondered if that was the way it would be for her when she confessed to Ichigo?
“Probably not,” she said to herself. Kurosaki-kun is very serious and there’s still Kuchiki-san in the picture. Is there something between them? She wondered, as she crossed the street. A car honked but the girl ignored it and continued on her way.
After hearing her name, Orihime was pushed from her back and she screamed, as she felt herself falling over. Her hand let go off the umbrella and in an instant, she felt the tiny raindrops hitting her face. But that wasn’t the thing she was concerned about, it was the impact of her falling on the concrete street. Closing her eyes real tight, Orihime continued to fall and hoped the pain wasn’t that bad.
Instead of landing on something hard, she found herself landing on something, well not something but someone. Her eyes immediately shot open and when she realized who it was, she jumped off and began bowing in apology.
“Gomen, Kurosaki-kun! I didn’t mean to fall on you, but someone pushed me and-“
“Inoue, it’s okay. I know. I was the one who pushed you.”
“Eh?” Orihime blinked. “Why would you do that?” she asked, confused yet surprised at the same time. Had she done something to deserve this?
“You were about to get run over.” Ichigo gave her a hard look before it softened. “I cried to tell you but you didn’t hear me. The car tried to stop but since it’s slippery, it was heading towards you. I pushed you out of the way,” he continued to look at her even after he was done talking; a few drops of rain sliding off of his nose and chin. It had begun raining hard and fast too.
He saved me. Once again, Kurosaki-kun has saved my life. She couldn’t stop staring at him and at that moment, felt a warm feeling rise in her chest. His hair was drenched and he had a few strands sticking to his forehead as well as the sides of his face. Everything seemed to disappear and it was just him and her, alone.
“You’ll get sick,” he said, kneeling down to pick up her umbrella. “Here. Want me to walk you home?” Ichigo extended his arm and held the umbrella above the drenched girl’s head.
“I-I-Iie, I’m fine.” Orihime lifted her hand and without thinking, touched his hand as she tried to hold the umbrella’s handle.
At that moment, both teenagers looked at each other for a brief moment before glancing down at their hands.
It feels so nice. What a warm feeling. I don’t want it to stop.
There was a sweet fragrance in the air and it brought Orihime out of her memory. Sitting up and wiping her eyes, she looked around and wondered where it was coming from.
Her attention fell on the small window that was her only gate to freedom and she slowly walked towards it. Since the window was high above her, Orihime got on her tip toes and looked up at it, expecting the origin of the fragrance to fly inside.
What was it? She wondered, her thoughts running through memories to recognize and name the smell she was breathing in. It was sweet and it reminded her of the days when she’d walk home from school and she’d pass by the cherry blossom trees that were letting the petals fall like snow. Right! It was the scent of cherry blossoms!
Her face seemed to light up a bit and the flow of tears began to slow down as she tried her hardest to see if she could reach the window. Her attempts to reach it kept failing and she was about to give up when she saw the pure white couch not to far from her. If she could drag that over here, she’d be able to get to the window and see outside.
Determined, the brown eyed girl grabbed the couch by the armrest and pulled it. Surprisingly, it was light and she didn’t have trouble taking it towards the wall. A small smile was set on her face as she carefully stepped on the couch and then on the backrest to get higher.
Leaning towards the wall, Orihime got on the tip of her shoes and peered over the edge of the opening. What met her sight made her gasp and eyes widen.
It was Ichigo, sitting under a cherry blossom tree with his back towards her. He was gazing up at the Hueco Mundo starlight sky and his posture seemed so calm that Orihime felt happy to know he was enjoying it. “Kurosaki-kun!” she said, through tears, her left arm reaching out to him.
Hearing his name, Ichigo turned around and looked to be surprised when he saw Orihime in the tiny window. “Inoue! What are you doing there?” he asked, getting up and walking towards her.
Orihime wiped her eyes and said, “This is my room,” She studied him as he approached her and was glad to see that there was no blood on him or any cuts. “You’re alright! Kurosaki-kun, you’re alright! I thought-“ she interrupted herself before continuing, “Ulquiorra-san said that you were gone and I thought… I thought…” her voice broke once more and her vision blurred. “Gomen, Kurosaki-kun, I’m just… just… s-s-s-so happy.”
Ichigo’s gaze softened as he reached her and he scratched the back of his head. “Don’t apologize, Inoue. I should be the one apologizing.” His expression hardened once more. “I promised I’d protect you and look at where you are. I promise you though, that this time I will keep my oath to you and you will be back home.”
Her heart was beating fast and so many emotions were fighting to reach the surface but Orihime knew that she needed to keep calm until things were okay. Still, seeing Ichigo standing there in front of her was the best thing she could ever ask for and she was taking the moment in. Wait, why was he out here?
“After I beat Ulquiorra, I went looking for you but ended up in this courtyard. The view from here is amazing and I guess I got distracted.” Ichigo shrugged, his gaze now on the ground. “Have you seen the sky? It feels so calm being out here; I can’t believe there could be such a nice place here.”
Orihime nodded, agreeing with what he was saying. Looking up at the sky she felt in awe when she saw how beautiful the stars looked as they twinkled in the black abyss. Her gaze moved back to Ichigo and once again, her feelings began resurfacing. Glancing at the sky once more, she knew now was the time to tell him how she felt.
“I’m sorry, Inoue.”
“Eh?” she said, looking at him. She was about to tell him but he’d beat her in talking. “For what?” she asked, looking into his eyes.
“It seems I won’t be able to keep my promise.” Ichigo reached his hand out to her and took her hand into his. Sliding his thumb over her hand softly, he leaned forward and looked into her eyes.
Her eyes began tearing up and fear began to settle inside her. Why couldn’t he keep it? What was going to happen?
“At the moment, I can’t fulfill my promise.” He squeezed her hand lightly and leaned in even more. “I know you’re probably tired of hearing me promise so this time, I swear that I’ll save you.” His eyes searched her teary eyed ones as he continued talking. “I swear, Inoue Orihime, that I will take you out of this place and bring you back home where you will once again live a normal life. I swear, that I will get strong and I will defeat Aizen and free you from this prison. I swear, I will come back for you and I will not die until you are safe from harm. I swear to you, Inoue, I swear.”
The second he finished talking, Orihime felt something push her. Her eyes closed and not a second after, she felt his soft and warm lips pressed against hers. The aroma of the cherry blossoms seemed to grow stronger and when she opened her eyes, everything was gone and once again she was on the floor staring up at the ceiling.
Had it all been a dream? It had seemed so real! Sitting up, Orihime looked at the couch and saw that it was back in its original place. “A dream, ne?” She sighed, bringing her fingers up to her lips. So soft and warm, she had always thought it would be different to kiss him… but then again, it had all been a dream, right?
The door opened and Ulquiorra walked in, only to stop when he saw that she was sitting on the floor. “Are you still moping about your friend?” his tone sounded annoyed.
Getting up, Orihime ignored him and turned her back towards him and faced the small window. At that moment, her eyes widened. There, resting on the window sill was a single cherry blossom petal. Her eyes once again teared up, but this time it wasn’t because of sadness. Turning to look at Ulquiorra, a smile was on her features and her voice was strong. “No, I’m not.”
Ulquiorra stared at her and wondered what had triggered the change in her. He wondered if it had to do with the powerful spirit force that had appeared for a second before disappearing. At first he’d thought it was Ichigo’s but Ichigo was gone, he’d made sure of it. It couldn’t be Orihime’s because he’d been sensing her reiatsu the whole time. Ulquiorra was about to say something when Orihime walked over to the couch and sat down.
“Ulquiorra-san, when will dinner be served?” her eyes were wide with anticipation as she held a happy expression.
“This is strange… I always have to threaten you to eat…” He studied her for a few more minutes. Eventually he looked away from her. “I shall go and see if it’s ready,” he said, glancing back at her before turning around to walk towards the door. What had happened? She’d been sad a few minutes before and now she was smiling. Narrowing his eyes, Ulquiorra opened the door and walked out of the room trying to figure out what had happened.
Once the door closed, Orihime got up and quickly pushed the couch towards the wall. Getting up on the couch, she saw the petal was no longer there. Looking out the window, she also saw that the cherry blossom tree was gone and only an immense desert lay ahead of her. This didn’t seem to upset her though, because the smile was still plastered on her face as she jumped off the couch.
“You don’t have to swear, Kurosaki-kun, because I know you will achieve everything you set your heart to.” Orihime sat down on the couch and stared at her hands on her lap. “I want to say, ‘I’ll wait for you calmly,’ but there is something I also need to do. I swear, I will make it so that you will defeat Aizen. I swear.” Orihime sat on the floor and lay down on her back. Her eyes were set on the ceiling and no sound was made, this time though there were no tears, just a smile.