Title: Version 5: an IshiHime Mystery, Part 2
Summary: Orihime finds a mysterious note in her locker. She and Ishida search for answers together.
Author's note: I submitted this as a Gift Fic because it is only a part of the story, so it didn't seem right to go for the gold. XD Please follow the link below for Part 1. I plan to post subsequent parts as they are completed. I hope it brings smiles! Bleach, characters, etc. by Kubo Tite.
Additional Author's note: "Version 5 is where the Quincy Heart waits for you" is the title of the fifth version of the IshiHime FC at BleachAsylum -- that kind of started this rambling.
PART 1 here: http://bleachasylum.com/showthread.php?p=1635305#poststop
Version 5: an IshiHime Mystery, Part 2
Orihime was confused. Tatsuki and Rukia were so certain that Ishida would know what the note was about. She felt silly for having asked them now. Of course it was about Ishida. He was the only Quincy she knew – the Last Quincy. She couldn’t help feeling sad about that, knowing how alone that must make him feel. He is the Last Quincy, though. There wasn’t anyone else it could be about. She knew that even before she asked Tatsuki and Rukia, even before they practically made her swear to ask Ishida about it.
“I should have just asked him first.”
“So why didn’t you?!” I just felt so . . . anxious about asking him. I never feel anxious around Ishida-kun. It made me nervous. I . . . wait a second! That last question wasn’t in my head!
Orihime looked back across the schoolyard. Apparently, she had been walking quite quickly because the question’s speaker was several steps back. Orihime momentarily wondered if she could collect enough distracting thoughts to qualify as an Olympic speedwalker before she smiled and headed back toward the tall, strawberry blonde woman who had been amusedly waiting for her to come out of her high-speed daze. Orihime noticed the woman was wearing the most adorable cream colored blouse with little violet flowers sprinkled all over it. Orihime’s blouse. Or it used to be. Its new owner didn’t wear it the same way, partly unbuttoned over an almost too tight tank top, belted at the waist, and draped over some almost too short white shorts.
“Oh Rangiku-san!!! You look so cute! I never thought to wear that shirt like that.”
Matsumoto Rangiku smiled, “Oh well, you know you never show off your breasts like you should. Once you do, you’ll start thinking about clothes in a whole new way.”
“Oh!!!” Orihime was genuinely excited. “A whole new way? I’ve never thought too much about my clothes before, maybe thinking more about my breasts is the secret?!”
“I’ve always thought so.” Rangiku looked serious. “But you were thinking about something else when I showed up. What was that? And who is this ‘him’?” Rangiku smiled at that last question. Rangiku seemed often to enjoy smiling when it came to men.
“Him?” Oh that’s right . . . “I was just talking to Ishida-kun about a note I found in my locker.”
“A note?!!!” Rangiku’s smile was quite large now. “What kind of a note?” Her eyes were now starry, arms together, hands were clasped beneath her chin. Orihime got the distinct impression there was about to be some bouncing and wondered if Rangiku’s pose was part of some carefully mastered technique. Despite that, Orihime decided to stay on topic.
“A very mysterious note, Rangiku-san. Here, look.” Orihime handed Rangiku the note.
“Hmm, ‘Version 5 is where the Quincy Heart waits for you.’ What kind of a love note is this? It isn’t even dirty! He could have just handed it directly to you instead of hiding it in your locker.”
“Oh, Rangiku-san, it isn’t a love note. Ishida-kun said he didn’t know what it meant or how it got into my locker.” Orihime wasn’t sure exactly why that line of reasoning seemed to make sense. Does that mean that if Ishida had written it the note would have been a love note? Wouldn’t that mean it is a love note? But if it isn’t from Ishida-kun . . .
“Ishida? That is your Quincy friend, right? The pale, skinny one, with the funny clothes?” Orihime wasn’t sure that was the nicest way to describe Ishida. Sure he was paler and skinner than, say, Kurosaki, but Ishida isn’t too pale or too skinny. Plus, Orihime liked Ishida’s Quincy clothes. He looks so dashing when he wears his little Quincy outfits and it is amazing that he designs and makes them himself!
“Oh? What’s with that face?” Rangiku was only a few inches from Orihime’s face and looking at her intently. Orihime suddenly realized she was, well, frowning. Shocked, she immediately covered her mouth with her hands. “Oh come now, I wasn’t trying to be mean or anything. I happen to have a thing for pale, skinny guys.” There was a mischievous glean in Rangiku’s eye.
Orihime lowered her hands. “You do Rangiku-san?”
“Oh yes, their pale figures go best with my enormous, well-tanned bosoms.” Rangiku’s hand was raised with a single finger pointed upward, as if she were teaching Orihime the most basic of lessons.
“OHhhh.” Orihime thought for a moment. “Rangiku-kun, you don’t like Ishida-kun, do you?”
Rangiku laughed heartily, “I don’t even know this Ishida-kun of yours. And he is certainly not the only pale, skinny man in the world.” For the briefest of moments, Rangiku seemed terribly sad.
“Oh well, enough about that.” Rangiku finished waiving her hand in the air as if shooing a fly and immediately embraced both of Orihime’s hands.
“Come, Orihime, LET’S GO SHOPPING!”
“Wha?!” Orihime was quickly being dragged from the school yard and in the direction of Rangiku’s favorite clothing store. “Ah, wait, Rangiku-san! . . . the fly . . . you were . . .” Orihime’s protests were not effective. The prospect of an afternoon of shopping always seemed to give Rangiku an uncharacteristic burst of determination. “School,” Orihime squeaked. “School! Rangiku-san! Rangiku-san, I have to go to class!!!
Rangiku stopped. “What? Still?! How much longer are they intending to make you frequent this place?” Orihime couldn’t help finding Rangiku’s indignation at her having to go to school absolutely every weekday amusing. It’s like she thinks we’ve been captured by pirates or gangsters or, oh, or aliens who keep feeding us knowledge to make our brains more tasty so they can eat them. Yes, that one makes the most sense, so if . . . Rangiku’s face said she was waiting for an explanation.
“Oh, sorry. I’m sorry. But it is just a month longer. Just a month until graduation and then I’ll make sure to have some afternoons when we can go shopping, okay?” Orihime smiled, but her heart wasn’t in it. Just a month, wow, that’s right. Just a month and then I won’t ever . . .
“Whaaaat? Again with the unhappy face?!” Rangiku’s expression quickly turned dangerous and Orihme once again found herself being dragged away from school. “It looks like we may need to go shopping today just to tide us over till then, won’t we?”
“Huh? Wha? WAIT!!!”
Ishida groaned as he rolled over on his bed. There was a small tear on the lower left corner of his desk chair’s upholstery. I wonder why I never noticed that before? Ishida got out of bed and walked to his desk to grab his sewing kit. He knew he should fix that tear sooner rather than later. It is always better to address such things immediately. They only become more complicated with the passage of time. Ishida put down his sewing kit and sat on his bed.
Well aren’t I being hilarious today – giving myself advice like that? If I were capable of following such advice then yesterday wouldn’t have been nearly as exhausting.
Yesterday being what it was, Ishida considered himself lucky to have made it all the way to his front door, let alone all the way to his bed. First there was that Version 5 note and then running into Matsumoto trying to force Inoue-san to skip class and then sneaking into the Quincy Archives to satisfy Inoue-san’s need to research possible meanings of “Quincy Heart” and then Ryuken coming home TWO HOURS EARLY.
“Why? Why did Ryuken have to pick yesterday of all days to come home early?” Ishida was sure that he and Orihime had at least another hour to look through the Quincy Archives without interference.
As it happened, Ishida’s father walked in on them just as Orihime had finished asking Ishida about a particularly worn book, The Tales of Rugor Hemlow. It happened to have been Ishida’s favorite as a child. He was explaining to her how his grandfather had this special voice he would always use for Rugor. Orihime had just convinced him to do the voice for her when, mid-sentence, he looked up to see his father staring at them from the back of the room. Ishida began choking on some instantly thicken air and Orihime immediately ran to him to make sure he was okay.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. The dust collects in here rather heavily,” Ryuken had stated calmly.
Dammit he pisses me off! Trying to sound so collected like that. You can’t tell me he wasn’t shocked to find us in there. I haven’t even been in that house without explicit invitation for almost two years.
It was his father’s behavior for the rest of the evening, however, that really put Ishida on edge. “He was actually sociable,” Ishida said with disgust-laced disbelief while walking Orihime home afterward. “Oh, I thought he was very nice,” Orihime had commented at the time, “and it was generous of him to invite us to stay for dinner.” Generous? No. He is more likely up to something. “And,” Orihime had continued, “he was very talkative when I asked him what he thought about the “Quincy Heart”. Ishida cringed at that. He was surprised he had been able to stop cringing. Nothing made Ishida more certain of his father being up to something than his having casually told Inoue-san about his being a Quincy.
Very few people knew his father was a Quincy and for him to just say it so plainly, and to Inoue-san no less . . . Oh, but she was beautiful about that. The way she looked back at me – she was so happy she looked like she was about to cry. If I had know she was that concerned about my being the only remaining Quincy I would have told her months ago. Ishida picked his sewing kit back up and flipped the latch open and shut a few times. “I guess Inoue-san would be the one to see the good in that despite all bad history I have with Ryuken.” Ishida smiled. He was sure she would dream up some complex narrative to explain the sudden change in his father’s behavior.
"Version 5 is where the Quincy Heart waits for you”
The note. The stupid note is why I ended up having to sneak Inoue-san into the Archives in the first place.
“No.” Ishida exhaled. “The note isn’t why.”
Ishida laid down on his bed, his eyes fixed on the ceiling. Is that a crack in the ceiling? I never noticed that before. I’ll have to inform the landlord.
The ‘why’ was something Ishida had tried to avoid thinking about. He told himself that he had a plan. He told himself he was waiting for the perfect moment. He knew that wasn’t true anymore. It didn’t matter that graduation was only a month away. It didn’t matter that he was about to go to college in another country. What mattered was that he had managed to avoid saying something for the last three years and now saying it felt entirely out of his control.
“Inoue-san, I love you.” It was the first time Ishida said it out-loud. It felt appropriate, like it was a phrase meant to be said out-loud. That annoyed him – he was expecting it to feel silly.
“Dammit, who left that note?!” It’s like they are mocking my ineptitude. Orihime felt certain finding out what ‘Version 5’ or ‘Quincy Heart’ meant would “reveal the note’s secrets,” as she put it. Ishida didn’t care about that. He knew what it meant. “Where the “Quincy Heart waits for you” – what else could it mean? Ishida assumed someone must have determined his feelings for Orihime and was trying to make him look like a fool.
“But who?” Ishida thought Rukia and Tatsuki were the likeliest suspects. They both know about my being a Quincy and probably could have figured out how I felt about Inoue-san. I could see them leaving a note in Inoue-san’s locker, too. The fact that there were no oddly-shaped sketches of bunnies or small animals was throwing him off though. Would Rukia be capable of leaving a note without any sketches on it? Ishida considered it highly unlikely. Maybe Tatsuki by herself? No. Tatsuki would have just threatened me directly. She would need Rukia to convince her that leaving a note was a good idea.
Ishida considered the possibility that Ichigo had left the note, but he couldn’t help thinking that possibility was laughable. I don’t care if we are friends now. That guy is still an idiot, especially when it comes to relationships. “Just look at how oblivious he is to his own feelings for Rukia.” It’s obvious. It’s been obvious for at least a year now. Ishida was sure that there was no way it was Ichigo Kurosaki.
Sado-san, maybe? Ishida had a hard time imagining Sado Yasutora leaving a note in anyone’s locker, but he couldn’t dismiss the possibility. He does know about me being a Quincy, and he is significantly more observant than Kurosaki. Ishida also considered Asano and Keigo, as they had also learned about his Quincy abilities. I don’t see them doing anything like that without Kurosaki being involved, but I shouldn’t dismiss them outright. Everyone else that Ishida could think of that knew he was a Quincy wasn’t connected to the school. Urahara or Renji or anyone like that wouldn’t leave the note in Inoue-san’s locker, would they? It just makes more sense that someone connected to the school left the note, doesn’t it?
Ishida noticed that he had been pacing. He couldn’t remember getting out of bed. He also couldn’t remember getting dressed, but he was – shirt, pants, shoes. Shoes? Why am I wearing my shoes in the bedroom? I never do that . . . Wait, these are the same clothes I was wearing yesterday.
Ishida grabbed his towel and headed for the shower. He was beyond frustrated at this point. That’s it. I am quickly losing the ability to function as a self-sustaining human being. I have to tell her. I have to. This is only going to get more complicated and who knows what basic daily ritual I’ll start omitting next?!
Ishida was prepared. He knew what he had to say. He knew what he expected her to say. He was ready. “I’ll do it tonight.” Matsumoto forced us into that double date with her and that other shinigami. “I’ll just tell Inoue-san when I pick her up – it’s the perfect opportunity.”
Ishida was thinking positive thoughts. He was thinking positive thoughts and attempting to focus on one thing and one thing only:
“Tonight I will tell Inoue-san that I love her.”
The phrase sounded positive to Ishida. He repeated it a few times. He glanced out of the washroom window and thought the sky looked prettier than usual. There were hopeful-looking wisps of cloud in the sky. I don’t remember ever seeing those in the morning. In fact, everything seemed brighter, clearer to him than before. Ishida felt positive. Ishida felt determined. Ishida was smiling. It wasn’t until Ishida got into the shower that he realized he had fallen asleep without taking off his glasses.
To be continued . . .