araine (araine) wrote in bleachness,


My second entry! Third one is coming later!

“Are you sure you want to do this, Orihime?”

Orihime nodded, and grabbed a spoon to give the miso one last turn. She had gotten better at cooking normal foods and following recipes without too much improvisation.

“Of course I do,” she said, checking on the rice in the rice-cooker – it had once been Uryuu’s, Orihime having never owned one, a fact that he often wondered about – and making sure that the chocolate mousse was properly chilled. “Does your father like coffee or tea better?”

She was more worried about him. He tried his best to hide it, but Orihime could see the way his fingers clenched white-knuckled, the slight stiffness at the edge of his mouth, and the way he didn’t smile at her as often as normal.

“Coffee,” her boyfriend said automatically. That made sense – Uryuu preferred tea. “Just don’t expect too much,” he cautioned. “And don’t mention anything supernatural.”

Orihime smiled and planted a kiss on her boyfriend’s lips. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I’m going to go get ready.”

The auburn-haired girl bounded happily into the apartment’s bathroom. It was more spacious than her old apartment, now that the two of them were sharing the rent – it was only practical, of course, and much closer to the local university, but the thought of their apartment still gave her fuzzy feelings in her stomach. They had only rented it a few months ago, but finally getting settled in had called for this occasion.

It would be the first time she would be able to introduce herself as Ishida Uryuu’s Girlfriend to his father, as she had finally managed to coax her rather reluctant boyfriend into setting up a dinner between them.

She knew this was a stretch for him, and she admitted that she had been a little underhanded in her methods of setting this meeting up. She had told him, quite flatly, that if their relationship was as serious as he always said it was, then she had better meet his father. Not that she doubted how serious he was – how could she ever doubt that!

But Uryuu had spent too long barely knowing his father, and she planned to change that. She was sure she could. It was just a matter of getting them in the same room.

She pulled on the beautiful, cornflower-blue dress Uryuu had sewn for her – the one that matched her hairclips perfectly – and applied a tiny amount of make-up. Uryuu always said she didn’t need it, and normally she didn’t wear it, but she did like the way it looked.

She felt very Grown Up.

Just like the girlfriend of a Proud Quincy Hero should look.

Checking her appearance one last time, she bounded out of the bathroom and down the short hallway toward Uryuu, who was standing in the small dining room. There was such a cool, practiced confidence about him, it was difficult to tell that he was nervous.

There was a sharp rap on the door to their apartment – “Terminally early,” Uryuu muttered with disdain – and Orihime opened it to reveal Ishida Ryuuken, dressed impeccably in a cream-colored suit that accented his silvering hair.

Orihime felt self-conscious under this man’s scrutinizing gaze. She felt like she couldn’t stand up to Uryuu’s fine craftsmanship, like the apartment was small and drab, the food smelled terrible, and that she had done something bad.

She stubbornly held her hand out. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Ishida-san,” she said – speaking in formal, grammatical, Tokyo-dialect Japanese. Anything else with this man seemed a trespass.

Ryuuken shook her hand. His grip was strong.

“So you are Inoue-san,” he said.

His shoes off, Ryuuken entered the apartment. His only acknowledgement of Uryuu was to hand him his briefcase, so that it could be taken to one of the back rooms. His suit jacket remained on.

“Would you like to sit down?” Orihime suggested.

Ryuuken nodded. “Thank you,” he said, in the peculiar way that seemed to signify entitlement. He sat, straight-backed, at one edge of the square dining room table. Orihime waited a moment for Uryuu to reenter the room, before grabbing the main course of the meal.

“I trust your entrance exams went well,” Ryuuken said.

Uryuu nodded. “I got accepted to the university’s pre-med program.” Orihime beamed. She was so proud of her Uryuu for that.

Ryuuken nodded in approval. “You’re finally doing something constructive with your life.”

Uryuu winced imperceptibly.

Orihime changed the subject. “How do you like the food, Ishida-san?” she asked.

“Miso and spaghetti,” he said. Uryuu winced a second time – he had been so caught up in making sure that Orihime didn’t deviate from the recipes, he had overlooked her eclectic mixing of foods. “It’s… interesting.”

The dinner continued in this vein – stiff, awkward, and at times downright hostile. Orihime made attempts at small talk – chattering away about school, starting university, hobbies, friends, food, or whatever else came to mind. The more she talked, the more it felt like she was talking to herself. Many people had told her that Ishida Uryuu could be like a block of wood, and while she hadn’t exactly disbelieved it, she had never witnessed it herself.

It seemed his father was no better.

“You’re a Quincy too, right, Ishida-san?”

The topic was taboo, but she was growing desperate for some form of conversation to save the evening from being carried on in stony silence.

Ryuuken nodded. “That is correct,” he said.

A pause. Orihime feared that the conversation would pass through another awkward lull of silence.

“I noticed your high reiatsu earlier,” Ryuuken continued finally. “You were involved in that… excursion to Hueco Mundo, were you not?”

The way he said it made ‘excursion’ sound like a crime. Orihime blushed and looked down. After all, that excursion had been for her sake.

Uryuu came to her rescue. “Inoue-san and I have been through a lot together.” He still called her Inoue-san to his father. Uryuu set his hand on her shoulder in a show of solidarity.

Ryuuken’s sharp eyes centered on that physical contact. “You’re not a shinigami, of course. I’m curious as to what your abilites are.”

“I can heal, and shield, and fight some. But—“

“Your powers don’t work.” Ryuuken got right to the heart of the matter.

“Inoue-san’s abilities are very useful,” Uryuu cut in again. “Offense alone doesn’t win anything.”

He had assured her of this before.

Ryuuken looked sharply at his son. “What is the point of having powers, if they’re useless anyway?”

Useless. Orihime felt rather useless.

“Better to at least try to make a difference with the powers you do have,” Uryuu snapped back. It had the feel of an old argument.

Ryuuken looked ready to reply, but Orihime spoke first.

“Pl-please excuse me,” she choked out quickly, as she stood and fled to the bedrooms.

Uryuu shot his father a severe glare, and stood without a word to follow his girlfriend.

Orihime was leaning against the bathroom doorframe, and she quickly dabbed at her eyes when she saw Uryuu. In less than a second, he had her in his arms.

It took Orihime a moment to find her voice.

“I’m sorry,” she said, still teary-eyed. “I wanted tonight to be perfect. I even made your favorite. I just wanted you to spend time with your father, and I messed it all up! I don’t even think he likes me.”

Uryuu pulled Orihime tighter into his chest. “It’s not you, Orihime,” he assured her vehemently. “Of course it’s not you. That’s just how Ryuuken deals with people. I don’t think he likes anyone.”

Orihime was not very comforted.

“But the food-“

“Was perfect,” Uryuu cut her off. “It’s… it’s my fault the dinner didn’t go well. You put so much hard work into everything – into setting all of this up for my sake, into making it perfect – and my own hang-ups prevented it. I’m the one who should be saying sorry.”

Orihime smiled tentatively. “You’re wonderful, Uryuu.”

His intense blue eyes met hers. “I should try harder, for your sake,” he said, in that gallant way he had. “You are the kindest, most beautiful, most wonderful girl I could ever know. So for you I’ll… I’ll go out there and try to talk to Ryuuken. I promise.”

Orihime’s eyes widened, she beamed, and seconds later her lips were on his. Uryuu was shocked by her sudden exuberance, but managed to get over it enough to kiss her back.

She smiled at him. “OK, Uryuu,” she said. “You can go back out now.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked.

Orihime nodded. “I’m fine. Really. I’ll get the dessert.”

Uryuu kissed her quickly, gave his girlfriend a concerned look and turned around to rejoin his father.

Dessert and coffee was a quick affair – just as awkward as dinner had been. But Orihime could tell – Uryuu was trying, growing increasingly more frustrated, but somehow managing to keep from exploding.

And Ryuuken actually was speaking more.

Orhime felt happiness well up inside of her. She smiled behind her spoon.

Soon enough, Orihime cleared away the dishes and Ryuuken announced that it was time for him to be leaving.

“Why don’t you get my briefcase, Uryuu,” he suggested. There was a long moment of silence in the dining room as Uryuu disappeared into the hallway.

“You’re good for him,” Ryuuken said, so suddenly it made Orihime jump. “Of course, he’s good for you, too. Consider that approval.”

Orihime beamed and threw her arms around Ryuuken’s shoulders. The stared at her in obvious disbelief.

She disengaged the hug. “I’m sorry, Ishida-san,” she said, that smile still on her face.

Ryuuken coughed noncommittally and brushed off the lapels of his jacket.

Moments later, Uryuu returned, carrying his father’s briefcase. He handed it to Ryuuken stiffly. The elder Quincy said his goodbyes and left, and it was not even a moment after he was out the door that Uryuu sank down into one of the dining room chairs.

Orihime snuggled in next to him, kissing his temple, just above his glasses.

“Thank you,” she murmured to him.

The look he gave her was confused. Orihime smiled at him.

“The night was perfect.”

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