This is my third time entering Debbiechan’s contest. In this short story, I try a new tactic. See if you like it.
Title: A Necessary Diplomacy
Rating: Pretty safe, so gather round all.
Summary: Before grander plans may come to fruition, the more delicate necessities must be observed. Even in a room alone with Orihime.
Genre: Like a Halloween bag of candy
A Necessary Diplomacy
Ishida had many dreams. Grand plans. Complex schemes. By his own estimation, he thought further ahead than anyone else in his class. Truth was, Ishida doubted most of the other students were ready to rent a room in Rukongai. From the present to his death, Ishida knew how he wanted to dictate his life; he was confused by those who never considered that knowing how to cook might, ten years from now, be a useful skill to impress a future boss in order to gain a promotion.
Of course, Ishida could not plot without learning that life threw in troublesome variations at a whim. Those sudden twists that fate has in ample supply. Often, these changes forced Ishida to accommodate and devise new schemes; he never knew he would desire a car more than a bicycle when he was six years old, after all. No one told him ahead of time of Orihime’s kidnapping. But he adapted to these minor (or major) problems and disobeyed his father, if need be, and put his life back on track.
Other knowledge obtained shattered some of his greatest plans. One such realization, at age seven, was that other people had dreams of their own, and that these other plans affected his own. No matter how quickly and skilfully Ishida could sow, forming friendships required that he and a desired friend both desire companionship; Ishida didn’t make many friends during his childhood.
It seemed his plans grew infinitely more convoluted with each new realization. Fortunately, Ishida was up to par; he’d done much to prepare for the possibility that he may not be ready for, well, anything. So things went smoother than could have been hoped—he bought a car one day, Orihime was rescued, he learned how to cook (and quite well at that).
Only a single hurdle remained, that he could see, but it was a big one. A lot of work had gone into this, yet Ishida’s efforts were about to pay off. First, though, there was that crucial matter of finesse known as diplomacy. Should Ishida falter here, the rest of his life was in jeopardy by his own sharp reckoning. Hey, no pressure.
Thus he continued to work thread and needle. To think that so much would depend on the accuracy of a cross-stitch pattern. But would Ishida have it any other way? Never. Play to your strengths, his father always said, and make sure those strengths get you into med school. Not that Ishida listened to his father closely; only to the parts that suited his cause.
“Hey, Ishida-kun, what’re you making? Can I see? Can I see?” Orihime asked him eagerly. She hovered over his shoulder, trying to sneak a peek, which made Ishida smile even as it made his sewing considerably difficult.
He clutched the embroidery to his chest, hiding it, and said warmly, “Not until it’s finished.” His plans allowed no early glimpses. “Wait a little longer, please.”
She nodded, backed away, and pulled out two wooden needles and a spool of red yarn. As she began knitting socks, she commented, “I never expected we’d be sewing once we got to Kyoto. Not that I mind,” she added and giggled, her orange hair bouncing, “but don’t most people go to the shrines here when they visit?”
The shrines did not fit into the grand scheme of Ishida’s larger plans. He did not say so, though; he proceeded with working his needle in and out of the aida cloth. “Everyone goes to the shrines in the old capital,” he scoffed, shaking his head. “Besides, I’m exhausted after the Iwatayama monkey park.”
“That was fun!” Orihime exclaimed. “Thanks for taking me there, Ishida-kun!”
“It was nothing.” It was half a year of hard work, saving money to set up this very scenario in the hotel room. “I’m glad you had a good time.”
She nodded wistfully, grinning in recollection. Probably remembering the monkey that pulled off Ishida’s glasses, and his awkward (and unplanned) chase of said monkey thereupon.
Nonetheless, circumstances had gone better than Ishida could have dreamed. For one thing, he never imagined Orihime, his beloved Inoue-san, would ever become his girlfriend. For the longest time, he’d never aspired to do more than rescue Orihime, or make Orihime happy, or distribute divine retribution to any bastard who dared hurt her. His own logic told him she had no reason to like him and, really, she need not adore him simply because he sacrificed himself for her. She’d chosen Kurosaki and Ishida had decided to respect her decision…if not like it. How was he to know she could have a change of heart?
It turned out, however, that she could not be the gentlest, kindest, most beautiful woman he knew for long before he accidentally blurted out his feelings. And, what do you know, she actually reciprocated. One of those wonderful developments of causality, really, that she came to see Kurosaki in a new light. A good thing, too, because Kurosaki had unwittingly hurt her enough that Ishida’d nearly strangled the substitute Shinigami. And murder simply had no place in Ishida’s plans.
“Almost done, Ishida-kun?” Orihime hovered around his shoulder, discreetly attempting to glance at his embroidery again. The scent of her cherry almond soap (given to her by Ishida) tantalized him, but he stopped sewing briefly to wag a finger at her. One day, she’d need to call him Uryuu. A plan for another day.
He concentrated on the immediate task and his dextrous fingers resumed embroidering. “Almost done,” he carefully kept his voice even. Strangely, even though he’d prepared for this ultimate event for years, he was nervous all of a sudden. Surely, nothing could go wrong. Yet, so much depended on Orihime’s response that disaster was, in fact, a possibility. Come to think of it, Ishida forgot to bring his mp3 player—their song was supposed to be playing right now. Catastrophe was a probability!
Ishida let none of his doubts interfere with his handiwork, though. Soon, one final seam awaited him. His masterpiece would be complete with one last stitch. Ishida’s heart rose up and became entangled in his throat. Deftly, he placed the crowning touch on his embroidery whilst sneakily pulled an object out from under his pillow (a different culmination of a different plot, this object). Somehow, he concealed this prized item beneath the embroidery without catching Orihime’s notice.
His heart pounded. “It’s complete,” Ishida announced dramatically. She stopped her own sewing and smiled; her wonderful blue eyes ensnared him. Why now, did she have to look so stunning? This, of all my plans, had better work! His hidden hand tightened around the small object. “You can look now, Orihime. It could be better but…”
He flipped the cross-stitching around so she could see it, while also revealing and opening the box in his hand. She gasped and froze.
By this point, nerves had essentially stopped his heart, so it was no longer pounding against his chest. He knew she would answer shortly, but the time between her initial reaction and her response was pure torture. Because now that he had committed himself, his need to know if her plans intersected his own was excruciating.
An eternity crawled by faster than Ishida could blink.
“Yes,” she agreed an instant later, after she caught her breath, and she threw her arms around him. Funny how one simple word from her could replace his torment with pure bliss. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Amazingly, it overjoyed him just as much to hear her say the word again and again.
They kissed, of course, although Ishida hadn’t exactly prepared for this part. Which he couldn’t have, as he had no idea it would be akin to kissing her for the first time all over again. Or that Orihime would quickly separate her lips from his so she could snatch the glittering ring from Ishida’s palm and slide it down her finger. Ishida was also unaware that a second round of kissing would commence shortly thereafter but keep in mind, a man can only see so far ahead. Smiling, Ishida thought of how this single event would affect all of his future plans. Then Orihime’s tongue slipped into his mouth and it would have been discourteous for him not to comply.
The catalytic embroidery lay to side of the couple, currently neglected but certainly not forgotten. It depicted an intricately detailed white knight and princess, resembling Ishida and Orihime, respectively, atop a spired castle. Beneath the drawing, four words and a question mark were embroidered:
Will you marry me?
This is where the words “The End” should be, I suppose, but I prefer to think that things will continue for these two, ne? Happy birthday to Ishida, yes, but this is supposed to be a gift for you, Deb.