Fandom tidbits. Lovedrop, a doujinshi group in Japan that does mostly IchiRuki and IshiHime had this cute picture on its site this morning:
and then mezzo_marinaio colored it with her fine skills here,
and I dunno, stuffs like that can make my whole fangirl day because my favorite pairing hasn't had any canon interaction in oh, A CENTURY. Speaking of teh cute, I can NOT believe this plushie of Ulquiorra. He has a HOLE and a removable sword and I bow before the craftsmanship: THE Ulquiorra Schiffer by *pheleon on Deviant Art
Oh, and new story from me. It's arguably IchiOri. Yes, I've written IchiOri before. True Love and Swirly Skirts was a canon-based fic about Orihime's love for Ichigo. That one carried an IchiRuki warning, though. This one doesn't so I think it's safe for IchiOri shippers to read without wanting to kill me, but I dunno.
Disclaimer: Kubo Tite invented the character of Inoue Orihime. “Inoue is Inoue,” says Ichigo in chapter six. “She doesn’t belong to anyone.” But I like to believe she belongs to all of us who love her as well as to those who make a profit off her posters and plushies.
Description: PG. After Ulquiorra has given Orihime the bracelet that makes her invisible but before she says goodbye to Kurosaki Ichigo, Orihime talks to Sora at his shrine.
for Vayshti who gave me the prompt
Orihime slides into the familiar position before her brother’s shrine. She feels conscious of the softness of her socks and how their tractability seems the same. As if she weren’t a ghost, as if she weren’t an invisible girl who walks through walls.
She folds her hands in her lap. The bracelet that the Arrancar gave her has a weight that wrinkles the folds of her school-skirt. It’s a pretty bracelet. The chain adjusts to fit wrists of all sizes but the band is slim and gold and shiny and looks as if it were made for show.
Orihime wonders who made it.
“Hi, Onii-chan. I thought I was going to eat dinner but then I wasn’t very hungry. My last meal in the Living World and I made all my favorite things but--”
The incense glows and the sandalwood smell reminds Orihime of her appetite.
“Maybe I am hungry but I just can’t eat, you know?”
The bracelet glints in her lap.
“This guy--he’s a Hollow but he’s a different type. He’s a controlled sort of Hollow. He gave me this--”
She holds up her wrist.
“The only other person to give me any jewelry was you,” she realizes aloud and touches a hairpin with the braceleted hand. She shakes her head. “But no--it’s not like that. There’s a war, and he’s a bad guy….”
Without too many meanderings from the narrative, she manages to tell the story of the Arrancar coming to the Living World and her arrangement with Ulquiorra. She’s aware that she’s been given only twelve hours to put her “affairs in order” but the kitchen’s been cleaned, the garbage has been taken out, the minutes are pressing on top of one another, and she still hasn’t figured out what the Arrancar with the green tears meant by “affairs.”
“I’ve still got most of the time left, and I don’t really need to write a letter to resign from school because … they’ll figure it out.”
She touches the dusty glass of her brother’s smiling photograph.
“I said good-bye to you once before, so … that’s done. You’re not of this world anymore, so, no more good-byes, right? In that dream I had--the one that Tatsuki had too--in that dream that, well, in that dream that wasn’t a dream you said good-bye to me and smiled just like this before--”
Raising his chin and smiling, her brother thrust the point of Kurosaki Ichigo’s blade towards himself and disintegrated into sparkles of white spirit. There were many smiles after that, one echoing another in Orihime’s dreams and waking thoughts because Inoue Sora no longer crawled across the rooftops on Hollow claws and wept with longing for his sister’s love. His selfish attachment was finished.
“We’re all fine now, you and I. You’re where you’re supposed to be--”
But where was Orihime herself going? She had no idea and twelve hours to be afraid. But the sadness of leaving outweighed all fears. She wanted to watch television, watch dragonflies, touch the buttery insides of the wrappers of her favorite bathsoaps, cook spaghetti, suck cola candies, kick gravel by the railroad tracks and…
“What am I supposed to do? He said I can say good-bye to only one person? Does that mean I can’t go to Tatsuki’s house to watch her wash dishes and brush her teeth and--ah ha! She is so funny how she never wears pajamas and always falls asleep in her underwear. She has two drawers full of the prettiest, prettiest little gowns and flannel tops and bottoms and she never ever wears them and her mother always says Tatsuki-chan, I’m giving away your clothes to the poor, and Tatsuki always says Kasan, Orihime needs something to wear when she spends the night so it’s like the poor wear my clothes anyway.”
Orihime wonders what Kurosaki-kun wears to sleep.
“The boys…. It’s not like it would be proper for me to visit them, even if it is my last time here in the Living World, but I imagine Sado-kun sits very still playing his guitar before going to bed. I know Ishida-kun is up very late reading.”
It’s been weeks since Orihime has seen anyone in Karakura Town. She feels a pang of not fair, not fair. How can she say good-bye to people she hasn’t said hello to yet? “Ishida-kun wasn’t coming to class before I left for Soul Society to train with Kuchiki-san so maybe he….”
She pictures Ms. Ochi’s classroom full of empty desks.
“No one was coming to school before I left for Soul Society. Everyone seemed far apart from everyone else.”
One person. There is only one person she wants to see, to touch, to tell good-bye.
Something will stop her. If not her timidity or the blur of time that always passes before one can gather the will to act, maybe a thunderstorm will happen. Crack! Rain pelting the apartment building and shutting off travel for hours and hours.
If she walks in the rain with this bracelet, would her ghost-self even feel wet?
The apartment window is full of a clear, early evening sky. There’s no excuse to move on.
“I’m going to sit here with you for a while until it’s time for me to--.” Orihime shifts position and holds her ankles. “Why am I avoiding him, Onii-chan? That’s all I’ve ever done. It used to be that if he was coming down the hallway with his grumpy face, I would wave hello and that would be that. I wanted to talk with him. I wanted--”
She twists a loose thread on her sock, snaps it off.
“I’ll stay with you. I won’t say good-bye to anyone. I’ll stay here the whole twelve hours.”
She almost does it.
She talks to her brother about all the things she’s loved in her life and merely naming the foods takes over an hour. She brings her dinner to the shrine and eats it there, talking to Sora the whole while. The candied yam doesn’t taste like she expects it to taste, and her stomach aches from nerves. She figures that she will need energy wherever she is going, at least for a while, for however long the Arrancar need her and who knows how long that will be, so she cleans her plate.
The fuzzy, full feeling tells her to lie down. The hours will pass as she rests here, looking at her brother’s smiling face, and her hair is brushing the floor when she jerks away from the temptation. The arm that she was about to fold into a pillow is shaking.
“No! I’ll fall asleep! How stupid will that be!”
How can she stay here in this dream that is not a dream and avoid her life all over again?
She has streets to walk and a night to travel and town to say good-bye to.
And a boy to kiss.
She can’t tell her brother that this is what she plans to do--the deed is too intimate. She says, “I’m going to say good-bye to Kurosaki-kun. There were so many things I wanted from him, but they’re not mine to have, Onii-chan.”
One last kiss before she leaves this Life. It is right and fitting and seems the most touching part of a fairy tale, but she is afraid that the idea of the kiss is like the idea of a boiled egg she had earlier. She was so hungry while she prepared it as part of her last dinner. She imagined it would be runny and soft, salty and satisfying but it was … it was ….
She laughs softly at herself.
How could kissing a sleeping boy goodbye be as tasteless and perfunctory as her last dinner? Kurosaki-kun! The one of her dreams.
“You’ll forgive me, won’t you, Onii-chan? It’s not right that I spend my last twelve hours with you because--” Orihime reaches for the photograph and for the first time since it’s stood there, she takes it to kiss and press against her cheek. “I’ll be seeing you very soon again anyway.”
It takes some nerve to stand up. It takes some courage to walk out the door and slip on her shoes. Orihime is aware of being brave but she also aware that all she’s doing is walking away from her life so she’s not very proud of herself.
And she steps into the Darkness like a ghost.
Oh, and a quick fic rec. I loved this inside out. Perfect! Four of Cups by empath_eia Rated T, Isshin/Ryuuken.