Pairing: Ishida x Inoue
Genre: Romance, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Summary: Help comes in unexpected forms. And they needed all the help they could get.
Warnings: Mention of broken bones & blood, 2325 words, depressed Uryuu and Orihime, slight fluff, bumps...?
Hope you enjoy it =)
She was so warm. It radiated around him, and he snuggled deeper into the comfort. It was dark, but not scary. No, not scary at all. He slept soundly.
Orihime clenched her fists. Not again, she thought.
She was standing on the roof of their house. The giant hollow loomed in the distance, but its eyes were fixed intently on the bespectacled guy in the garden below. Uryuu had his bow aimed at it and the constant outpour of blue arrows rained desperately to keep the hollow from nearing the house. He didn’t see it coming, the long tentacle of the hollow suddenly shooting out to knock him over. A second, sharper tentacle appeared directly above him, speeding downwards. Orihime threw out her shield in the split second, but the tentacle never reached the shield. It disappeared, and the next second, there was a smoldering darkness around her, and she felt a spurt of blood. But it wasn‘t Uryuu who was hurt. She was falling, or was she floating, there was a crunch, and most of all, there was the pain in her body, creeping sharply upwards, paralyzing her, biting into her arms and legs-
“NO! NO! NO!” shrieked Orihime, bolting up in her bed, shaking and gasping. She pressed her hands into her eyes trying to block out the image, cold sweat lining her face. It’s fine, It’s fine, she reassured herself slowly, rocking back and forth. The pain in her chest stabbed sharply, and she cringed. It’s not coming back. Happy memories, think of happy memories. She breathed deeply, willing her heart to stop pounding so hard in her chest. Her first pay-check. Their new house. Their marriage. The happiness of finally becoming a nurse. Their engagement. His kisses. Them holding hands. Uryuu confessing to her. Uryuu…
She swung her legs over and got up, staggering. The medical cabinet. She would need the pills again tonight. She wished she could help herself, like she had helped her patients. Healing was in her blood, and she loved being a nurse. Sadly, her remedies, popular among her patients, whether it was “counting jelly-beans jumping over sheep” or “drinking a mixture of warm juice and milk with a dash of mint”, never worked on her.
She was cold, and she hugged herself, wishing he was here. Uryuu. He hadn’t come home for almost a week now. She wanted to talk to him, to hug him, to come up with ideas for his store. Yet, whenever he was home, they didn’t do much. And when he was gone, Orihime passed her nights wrapped in the dark silence of the house, struggling to push away her fears. Had she been this scared when she was in HuecoMundo? It seemed so long ago…She had rarely been injured, there was always someone protecting her from the blows. But this incident…It was her fault. She had seen the hollow attack him, and she knew she should have thrown out her shield earlier. The whole mess was her fault…her injured self was the reason he was out, working himself weary. True, the pain in her chest didn’t cease, but she was getting better, she could even walk without support now, but he never seemed to notice…
She felt queasy, as if the remnants of her nightmare were being forced out of her body. Letting the pills clatter to the floor, she gulped and rushed to the bathroom.
He wondered why she became more silent as the days passed. Her joyous giggles and laughter died away, and she didn’t speak much. She was still very warm though, and he drifted back to sleep.
Uryuu groaned and put his head down on the papers covering every inch of his table. He was so tired; he felt he could sleep for a week. Picking up the mug of lukewarm coffee, he took a sip, and immediately regretted it. He was going to be sick from too many bad coffees and cold dinners. His hand was itching to draw some patterns for a new dress, but Uryuu knew this wasn’t the time. His store, a leading brand name in the city, was doing well enough. Right now, this was more important…
It had been half a year since he started working on this case. Half a year since that day, watching Orihime fall helplessly. He rewound it in his head again, wondering for the umpteenth time why he hadn’t been more careful. The hollow had driven a tentacle into his arm, and he let the pain get to him. If he had been just a little more tolerant, he would have seen the hollow reappear behind Orihime, wrapping her in its tentacles, and he would have been able to save her. A hollow using something like flash steps was unheard of, and it had taken both of them by surprise. He cringed at the memory of its tentacle driving into Orihime, toppling her over the edge…
There had been a flash of bright orange light, and with a groan the hollow had disappeared. Even as he stumbled towards her, Orihime hit the ground with a sickening crunch. But all he thought was it didn’t matter if there was blood, she had a pulse, she was breathing, she was alive…
And then he saw the broken shards of what were left of her barrettes.
He rubbed his head in frustration. Broken bones, muscle tears, concussions…she had looked like a ghost of herself. Even the 4th Squad’s treatment didn’t help. Her injury was so much deeper than a flesh wound; it had affected the very core of her soul. He had kept the broken barrettes but no amount of magic fixed them. He had tended her for two months, the regret clawing at him daily as he saw her broken and bruised, and finally he hired a nurse to take care of her. It was his fault she was in that condition. Uryuu had decided his next task - tracking down the hollow and making sure he blew every inch of it apart. The only problem was, even 6 months later, he had no clues about its whereabouts. It could have been an experiment; he knew the 12th Squad’s Captain possessed strange ideas.
He looked at the calendar and raised an eyebrow as he saw the date. More than a week since he last went home. He checked his mobile and wondered why she hadn’t called him. He picked up his coat and brushed off the dust. He dragged himself wearily out of the room. It was time to go home…His marriage was in trouble, he knew it. But he couldn’t do anything about it yet. He couldn’t look her in the eyes until he had avenged her.
He loved it here. He loved her. He loved her warmth, her sweet, strange murmurs, the soft humming. He wondered if she loved him. She sounded more cheerful lately. It was nice when she was happy…
Orihime fixed her hair carefully and looked in the mirror. She knew Uryuu was coming back today, ( Call it intuition, instinct, the little blue bird, or, as Orihime preferred to believe in, the pattern of the clouds) and she wanted to make an effort to look more like herself. It wouldn’t be a lot of fun coming home to an ill person. She missed him so much…
She opened her drawer to pull out a clip, and saw the shiny blue pieces of her barrette.
She didn’t miss her powers as much. She felt more normal, like a responsibility had been lifted off her.
Two of the broken shards had fused back together. She smiled knowingly and shut the drawer.
He was surprised to see her in a yellow sundress, her vibrant ginger hair crowning her head proudly, a beaming smile on her face. It had been ages since he had seen her look so radiant…
“Y-You look nice.” he said softly, taken aback.
She smiled and put her arms around him, suddenly feeling at peace. “Welcome home…” How she wished she could remain like this-
He gently broke free of the hug and shook off his coat, collapsing into a couch. Orihime looked slightly hurt, but she continued smiling and sat next to him.
“Shall I fix dinner?” she asked.
He nodded. “I haven’t made much progress.” he said suddenly, “But, I’m sure, in time…”
She stared down at her hands. Clasping and unclasping them nervously, she took up their well-versed argument. Maybe this time, he would understand…
“You don’t have to do this, Uryuu. You’re working too hard. It doesn’t matter, the hollow isn’t coming back…” she trailed off as she saw him clench his fists.
“There’s no logical reason for the hollow to not come back. For all we know, it could be out there now, waiting to attack when we least expect it. I need to get rid of it, forever.” he replied, his face a grim sight.
“Someone might have…gotten rid of it.” she said, wishing it were true. “It’s in the past; I don’t want you to worry about it -”
“The past?” sneered Uryuu. “Have your nightmares ceased?” he continued sharply, ignoring Orihime’s wince at his tone. “I won’t ever forgive it, or myself-”
“Obsessing with it isn’t going to fix anything!” said Orihime,” I’m sorry, I’m sorry I put you in this position, but if there was anything I could do, I would! Look at me, Uryuu! I’m fine now, I only want-”
“It’s not your fault!” protested Uryuu, turning to face her. “I wasn’t able to protect you, even though I had promised-”
“Please let it go, Uryuu, please.” begged Orihime, her eyes gazing at him pleadingly.
“-I won’t let this rest until I’m sure-”
“Uryuu, listen to me, I have something important to tell you…” Orihime whispered.
“-you’re 100% safe. Your powers might come back if I kill-”
“Uryuu, I’m going to have a baby.”
His head had been full of hollows and Quincy arrows and Orihime’s words wrote themselves like a white-hot flash on his brain. His usual cool demeanor disturbed, his response came out shaky.
“Wha…How?” he asked weakly, hardly daring to look at her.
She grinned and leaned back into the sofa. “I got a confirmed report today. We’re…We’re going to be parents, Uryuu!” she said, an amazed look on her face.
He looked into her twinkling eyes, holding his breath. He could feel his heartbeat accelerate. It felt like an unseen force had rushed by, toppling his world over, just like that day. Except, this time, he didn’t quite mind…
He grabbed her hand and squeezed it slowly. It was all going too fast for him - until this morning, he had been worrying about heartless souls, and now he was going to be…a Father!?…He let a chuckle escape him, the first sign of happiness he had displayed in a long time, and it made Orihime giggle too.
“Oh God, I can’t believe it.” Uryuu finally said. He didn’t know what else to say, as he fervently thanked God in his heart. He hadn’t been healing her with all that research; he had been trying to heal his broken pride. He was mad at himself… She was right, it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered was that his family was here, close to him…
That was the first night since the incident that Orihime slept peacefully, Uryuu’s arms protectively around her. This is how she liked it, safe and secure…
5 months later.
Uryuu had pushed the matter of the hollow into the back of his mind. The hollow had vanished, presumably into thin air, and he was none the wiser. (He hoped it had been dragged to hell and chopped up as a meal for the devils.) He had concentrated on more pleasing matters- replenishing his store for increased demands, ordering everything under the “Baby” category in furniture catalogs, and making sure he paid special attention to Orihime.
Uryuu ushered Orihime into his work-room in his store, and handed her a box. She was surprised to see it filled with tiny dresses - pinks and greens, and bows and lace, and frills and beads. “These are so cute!” she said, not commenting on the Quincy cross that adorned every dress. She grinned as she asked “What if it’s a boy?”
Uryuu’s brow creased as if the notion of a boy had never occurred to him. Finally, he answered hesitatingly, “I’ll … make…new ones. But I‘m sure it‘ll be a girl.”
Orihime held up a mini-dress and smiled. “I want it to be a boy” she said solemnly. “The doctor says he’ll be born around the 14th of Feb, so I’m going to name him Cupid.”
Uryuu dropped the box he was holding and stared at her, his eyes widening. “C..C…You’re going to name our child CUPID?!”
Orihime burst into laughter at Uryuu’s comical expression, who was thinking frantically about the embarrassment his child would be suffering in its school years.
“I’m not going to change my mind.” she said teasingly, running her hand lovingly over her bump. This unborn child had made so many things right again…given her…no, given them both back what they had wanted most…
The pain in her was dwindling gradually. She hadn’t yet told Uryuu about her clips fusing. There was just a bit left. She knew they’d be back to perfect on the day her baby was born.
They were happy. He could sense their joy, and he wanted to tell them he was happy too, all warm and safe. But he didn’t know how. And so he kicked.
Inoue gasped and dropped the dress. She steadied herself against a table, as Uryuu grabbed at her arms worriedly.
“It kicked.” she whispered, and as a smiling Uryuu pulled her into a hug, they felt it again.
The soft push of the miracle growing within her.