_debbiechan_ (_debbiechan_) wrote in bleachness,

Shipper Update andFanfic: Five Paths, Two Endings, PG,

I can't stop with the writing thing.

I wrote this one so fast, and I'm not used to writing fast so it felt like spirit writing, haha. Mostly IshiHime but with appearances by the rescue team. It's short, it's for IshiHime people, I guess.

Five Paths, Two Endings
Warning: Spoilers for around chapters 250, even though this fic is A/U. Romantic stuff and vague intimations of character death.

Five Paths, Two Endings
by debbiechan

Disclaimer: Bleach isn’t mine in the sense that I make money off it, but its characters are as much a part of me as one of my typing hands.

Description: A/U. PG. Mostly IshiHime. I can’t help wondering what’s going to happen in the current (Hueco Mundo) arc. After considering waaaay too many ideas, I came up with this little story.

Warning: Spoilers for around chapters 250, even though this fic is A/U. Romantic stuff and vague intimations of character death.

“We’ve got no choice but to start on one end and make our way through”~Ishida, chapter 248

Moonlight more sullen than moonlight in the Living World falls on the folds of Inoue Orihime’s white dress. She thinks that Las Noches, for all its grand spacious rooms, is a shallow place because of its colorlessness. She bites a thumbnail and struggles to believe that she can restore a harmony that never existed--not in the Living World, not in Soul Society, not even among the royalty of heaven.

If Inoue Orihime lived five different lives, all would braid together as one path. As others on their journeys merged their paths with hers, the path would widen. Because synthesis of purpose never lasts long, not on Earth nor Heaven nor Hueco Mundo, the others would trail off, following distractions, stalling or walking in circles but still planning for their paths to meet with hers again.

How can the girl manage alone without them?

They need not worry.

Her path winds like a very long noodle but always end up in the same place.

A place others can’t easily name but which Inoue Orihime calls Love.


As Renji called out the words, everyone else realized that the vow was lame and out-dated but the earnestness in Renji’s voice itself was touching. By the time he got to the last line “to return alive to this place,” a sobering feeling had overcome all.

Ichigo’s throat made a swallowing sound. A wisecrack about this was on the tip of Renji’s teeth, but the solemnity of the moment stopped him. The hands stacked one on the other fell away, and the rescue party divided into parts.

Ishida thought that there was something too convenient about there being five paths and suspected that Aizen was going to watch them like lab mice running through tunnels. Rukia ran up the stairs. She felt the old thrill--the dedication to duty and the fire to fight. Chad, who knew neither shunpou nor any other speed spurring technique, walked his path with a serene detachment. Lunging into battle was second nature for Renji, and while it wasn’t exactly that for Ichigo, Ichigo still flew without reflection into the darkness.


Each member of the rescue party was following one of five different paths. Each one of those paths multiplied into possibilities.

Renji lived and died. He rushed to the scene in time. He arrived too late. He never saw Rukia again. He followed Rukia and the others uneventfully back to the Living World.

Chad was trapped behind an avalanche. He was killed, buried under a crumbled wall. With a new power he smashed the giant stones as they fell. He missed the avalanche altogether and heard it rumbling far behind him.

Ichigo followed many paths to one destiny. He would not die in someone’s arms. He would not give up the fight. He would defeat his inner Hollow, and he would always win the admiration of his enemies.

Rukia settled her own fate with a whip of her wrist. Sode no Shirayaku cut through the arid atmosphere, and a white ribbon slapped her enemies’ faces. This ribbon itself was a path. All Rukia's paths followed Ichigo’s.

Ishida, as usual, contemplated his choices as if his life depended on them. It did depend on them. Right side, left side. Negatives, positives. Aware of the spaciousness of possibility above him, he walked through the giant rooms of Las Noches. He touched the strange white walls with his long fingers and decided that most Arrancar were illiterate because there were never signs anywhere.

There was no writing on any wall.

“When I don’t know what to do”, Inoue-san had once told him, “I just follow my heart.”

Ishida, whose powers had only recently been jump-started by a Quincy arrow through his chest, contemplated the heart. Right side, left side. Benefits, liabilities.

He would never get to the end of the path unless his heart made a choice, and near the end of the rescue, he would have only two choices.


Ishida was no longer speeding through the atmosphere. He walked into Urahara’s shop and still wary of danger, held onto Orihime. Her body struggled a little bit in his arms, as if she was expecting to be put down, but Ishida didn’t put her down.


“Sssssh.” One leg of his glasses was bent so it didn’t sit properly on his ear, and a streak of recent blood ran over an old bruise on his cheek.

Orihime stopped trying to jump out of his arms and didn’t say another word. Her own heart had been racing for some time, but Ishida’s beat faster. The sound of it thumping seemed loud enough to give away their location.

Out of breath but trying to not make noisy, deep inhalations, his chest rose and fell in shallow movements against Orihime’s side.

Why is he still…?
Orihime, who had not felt confused at the height of her dramatic rescue, felt baffled now. There was no danger as far as she could sense; they were back home.

Being carried by Ishida, though, was nice. She felt very safe and something else… treasured?

“Iiiiiiishida-kun!” A flap of a fan and a high, welcoming voice broke the tension. “You got her! I expect the others here presently, but very good. Very good indeed. You brought the goods all the way from Hueco Mundo.”

At the sound of Urahara’s voice, Ishida’s body relaxed, and Orihime felt her feet being lowered to the floor.

“You look none the worse for wear, Inoue-san,” said Urahara, “and I must say, the dress is very pretty.”

It was then that Ishida’s arms fell around Orihime’s shoulders, and for one shocked moment, she thought Ishida was embracing her because he was that happy to have saved her. “Ish--?”

His face slid slowly down her neck.

Either very happy to have saved her or he’d gone insane.

The rush of pleasure that Orihime felt when his cheek pressed her chest was unmistakable and she was instantly ashamed when she realized that Ishida had fainted against her and his body was slipping down. She caught him by the elbows but couldn’t hold him up.

Tessai appeared from nowhere and caught Ishida under the arms.

There was so much blood that Orihime gasped. He was this badly wounded and he had carried her for so long?

“Not serious,” said Tessai to Urahara. “He’s got a couple more hours before he bleeds to death.”

“Let me heal him, let me heal him. It’s the least I can do.” Orihime tried to address the giant shopkeeper’s assistant but he didn’t even look at her.

Urahara gave a nod of consent, and Tessai lay Ishida on the floor.

Summoning her orb of golden light, Orihime felt a twinge of worry for those still left behind. No, no, it would be alright. The battles had decisively turned, and Sado-kun, Renji-kun, and Kuchiki-kun were probably running on their way to the Living World, and Kurosaki-kun….

When has Kurosaki-kun never been able to fend for himself?

The half-smile that rose on Orihime’s lips was because she was proud of her friends and herself. The world felt different--it didn’t seem darkened with impossibility and full of grief and fear. Things had been set right.

When Ishida woke up, his eyes met Orihime’s, and she knew.

He loved her.

That was alright too.


“I’ll tell you what happens now, Kurosaki.” Ishida didn’t want to grab his left shoulder in front of a Shinigami but he couldn’t help it. For a second there, it felt like his arm was going to fall off. “You go inside and get her and run all the way back without even opening your eyes, do you hear me?”

The Shinigami and Quincy stood in one of the many corridors of Las Noches. A few stairs down, the ceilings had been ridiculously high and the hallways vast. This corridor looked ordinary; the ceiling was only a few feet above the boys’ heads, and the walls appeared to be made of gray stone instead of gleaming alabaster.

“I’ll take on anyone that tries to pass me,” added Ishida. “That should give you more time to find her.”

“You’re hurt,” Kurosaki said. “You find her, and I’ll fight.”

Ishida didn’t want to yell but the gashes on his upper body had begun to smart. Damn it. Maybe they wouldn’t hurt if he just kept moving. They hadn’t been hurting seconds before. He turned his cry of pain into a cry that chastised Kurosaki. “You moron, can’t you sense her reiatsu? She’s here.” Ishida’s chin gestured towards the stairs. “Run.”

Kurosaki hesitated a moment, shot a pained look at Ishida, and then disappeared in a white streak of shunpou.

This choice is only going to work if the idiot doesn’t stop to answer a challenge. Give him the slightest reason to whip out that sword and Kurosaki will do it. Ishida didn’t want to dwell on his decision anymore, but his mind could not help imagining the alternative: With my greater sensitivity to reiatsu, I’d find her first. I can carry her. I can run even if I can’t fight. Kurosaki is a narrow dolt, but he’s certainly in better shape to stay here and fight off Arrancar.

He leaned against the wall. He willed himself to trust Kurosaki with Inoue-san’s life.

The better fighter.

Stronger arms.

His senses caught waves of spirit power coming closer. Arrancar in pairs, row after row.

Ishida slid down the wall, sat on the floor, and closed his eyes.

And what’s more, she wants him to be the one who saves her.


Inoue Orihime knows there is a rescue party coming, but she can’t see out the high window in her room, let alone into the future.

The moon is a different color from the moon in the Living World. Its wan light falls across the clenched hands in her lap.


A/N: Maybe I should’ve warned you that this was a weird one.

 In other noodly news:

I'm  all done with revising the Ship Manifesto essay and feel pretty happy with how it's turned out. I took out EVERY reference to "IshiOri shippers" and used  "some fans" where absolutely necessary. I added several la-dee-dah fannish paragraphs about how I got into the pairing and why they're so oogly adorable. I restructured my final argument that predicted Ishida getting together with Orihime by devil's advocating myself and sometimes backing away from my ownconclusions (the old paper did that, but it was probably hard to see the neutrality from all the Ichi-Ori inflammatory phrases. I THINK the essay is kosher now (unless I have some deep unrecognized hostility that is leaking out into all my writing....) and in any event I'm not going to post until before this Thursday, when I go out of town. That way I won't be tempted to deal with responses.
Tags: chad, five paths two endings, hueco mundo, ishihime, renji, rukia, tessai, urahara
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