“Ishida…you must do this,” Orihime said, determined to take her friend along on this scheme if she had to carry him over her shoulder. He was awfully skinny and cute, it would be like having a pet Quincy, which would be a very good pet, since there was only two of them left and Dr. Ishida didn’t look like a very good pet.
“Please, Inoue, I don’t want to. What’s the point?” Ishida asked, not looking at her directly. His cheeks had reddened when he spoke to her. He had no reason to be embarrassed of his sewing, sewing was such a manly and wonderful habit. She didn’t know why he was so shy about it.
“Vogue is sponsoring new designers. You could get a full scholarship to America to study with some of the greatest designers in the world. Or you could win the door prize, a free trip to Italy to tour the countryside. And you could see the leaning tower of Pizza,” Orihime said, her eyes sparkling at the thought of a mile high tower of delicious cheese and pepperoni. She would start from one side and not stop eating. Maybe she’d invite friends and have a party!
“You mean Piza?” Ishida asked, his eyes widening. “I think it’s a little bit different, less edible and more edifice. Though a lot of pizza would be nice.” He smiled and handed her a small pillow he had monogrammed with her name on it. “This is for you.”
Ordinarly, she would have been fooled by that tricky Quincy to distract her, but nothing would get her off her goal. Orihime removed a beautiful purple dress from the wall. It was an empire-cut sleeveless cotton that just flowed so beautifully. “If you don’t show the world your talent, then I’ll be very upset.” She watched him stare at his shoes. No one could make clothing like him. “I really love your work. And I love the pillow. So please, do it for me.”
Ishida stared at her for a moment, and smiled. “Agreed. If you model for me, I’ll agree to submit a piece. No one else can wear this dress properly but you,” he said, gesturing for the bathroom. “Go try it on so I can make some adjustments.”
As Orihime tried it on, she noticed how well it fit her. It was almost like it was made for her measurements. But that would mean that Ishida had been thinking of her when he made something so beautiful. That would be impossible.
The event had gone well. Everyone had applauded when Orihime had scampered down the aisle, enjoying how the dress flowed around her. She was like a doll, all the better to show Ishida’s fashion. So in some ways, she was wearing Ishida…but being more modest.
Still, all the people staring at her did make her uncomfortable. Because of her big chest, men all thought she was some kind of toy. But she wasn’t, she was a person and if they looked past her chest, they’d see her heart. Then she wasn’t sure if they would like her.
“A stunning newcomer, Ishida Uryu is displaying his new line, Quincy Designs. A stunning French Cotton in plum, this empire waist dress was hand sewn to emphasize a woman with elegant curves. This stunning creation is suited to any event, formal party or work event.” A sea of blurry faces and lights stared out before her and Orihime had to force herself not to blink and just to smile and keep walking.
She recognized a familiar spiritual pressure and was happy to notice Dr. Ishida was there in the audience. She knew that he would be hiding his presence from Ishida younger but it was still nice of him to come and see his son’s work. Even if he was cold…Ishida was lucky to have him. She would have liked to see Sora again, just for a minute.
Before she knew it, her thoughts had nearly sent her tumbling off the catwalk. She quickly turned around and marched back, hoping no one had noticed she wasn’t paying attention.
Backstage, Ishida was looking wonderful in his Quincy robes. He looked happier than he normally looked. “Everyone loved it,” he breathed, looking absolutely shocked. “Did you hear that applause?”
“Yes. You should be very proud of yourself,” Orihime said, giving Ishida a shy smile. She loved seeing her friends happy; it was one of her greatest joys. She knew in her heart that Ishida would win, no other entry had come close to the incredible talent the Quincy had. She couldn’t wait to get pictures from Italy. “You’re the best. I just hope I did you justice.”
“Of course you did. You made the show,” Ishida explained, his glasses hiding his eyes. “Why are you thanking me? All I did was get you up on stage. You did the rest. This dress made you so magical and strong.”
Orihime laughed nervously. “I…have no idea what you mean. I just did you a favor, nothing more. I think you should have picked someone better.” Someone small and slim and elegant.
“You are so beautiful,” Ishida whispered, giving her a shy smile. “Didn’t you see all eyes were on you?” he asked, taking her hand and shaking it. “Thank you for making my show such a success. I could not have done this without you.”
Orihime laughed nervously. “It was just because of the dress. I’m nothing special,” she answered, wondering if Ishida needed better glasses. She looked like a stick with two water melons strapped on for size. She wasn’t small and dainty and delicate like a certain shinigami. “It’s all because of your talent that everyone liked the dress,” she assured him.
“How could you say that? You’re the third in our class. You’re a black belt in Karate. You’re a healer who helps people. And you are beautiful. Your hair, your eyes, your smile. No one was looking at the dress,” Ishida whispered. “I wasn’t.”
Orihime could feel her heart beating in her chest. This was turning out far differently than she thought it would. Ishida couldn’t love her. No one loved her that way. Least of all, Ishida who was so pure and quiet and nice that he could never love a weird girl like her. “You’re…being silly.” Besides, she loved Ichigo. And she knew…someday he would love her in return, if she just waited long enough. This was just too much, too soon.
“Yes…you’re right,” Ishida said, turning pink. He bowed deeply in gratitude. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I apologize,” he assured her in a kind tone. “I hope I did make you uncomfortable.”
He was so polite and nice. Orihime felt herself color with shame that she had hurt his feelings. “No, the fault was mine,” she chirped, trying to fumble for the right thing to say to him to make him feel better.
She had hoped something would be said, but both just concentrated on their shoes, leaving only an awkward silence between them
Happily, it was broken in a wonderful way. “We have had some talented entries, ladies and gentlemen, but one entry truly stood out from the rest. Winner of the Vogue Challenge, Ishida Uryu, of Quincy Designs. Please get on the stage and take a bow so you can claim your prize.”
Orihime squealed happily. “You won!” Not only did it make her less uncomfortable but now the whole world would know what a talented friend she had.
Ishida bowed again. “Thank you for all your help,” he said, giving her a strange smile. “I will send you many gifts from Italy.” He did look happy, but there was still a tinge of sadness in his voice before he walked out of the curtains and the crowd began to roar approval.
“Mr. Ishida, you have won a trip to America to study with the Fashion Institute of Technology, on a full scholarship. Staying at the beautiful dorms, you will learn fashion secrets from the best in the industry. And at the end of the three years, you will return to Japan to put on a full fashion show of your collection.”
Orihime knew she had done the right thing. So why did she have tears running down her cheeks? He would be going away for three whole years and he would forget her and he had no idea what it mattered if he went away, because she wasn’t allowed to love him, she had to love Ichigo and if she didn’t, well, than she would be very confused. And that would be a very bad thing. But if she didn’t do something, Ishida would go away and forget her and she would be so miserable.
“Thank you so much,” Ishida was saying, talking about the fabrics he had used to create the model. And he was being very boring, but so cute about it. He had no idea what to say, he hadn’t even prepared a speech. And Ishida was always prepared. That was what she loved…she meant liked about him.
“And let’s not forget his beautiful model. Please come out and introduce yourself,” the announcer said, as Orihime lurched forward. She had no idea what to say, she hadn’t prepared anything. She had no idea what she should say about herself, and she only had seconds to decide.
“My name is Inoue Orihime and I’m his girlfriend,” she said, pointing at a shocked Ishida. She could not imagine why he was blushing so badly. She figured he would be happy to hear the news, even if half of Karakura Town was watching. He shouldn’t look so shocked.
He had said the dress would make her strong.