Goodbye and Be Well
Disclaimer: Kubo Tite owns Bleach. The character of Orihime belongs to no one imagination.
Description: PG for sadness. Orihime introspection.
Thank you to nehalenia for the beta.
Orihime remembered that a woman in a television drama had spoken the words. Orihime couldn’t remember the name of the show or much of what it was about except that the main character was a beautiful singer who had walked away sadder but wiser from an affair with a married man.
“Goodbye and be well,” Orihime murmured again.
She was not speaking to a person but to a pair of hairpins in a drawer. The blue pins looked grayish in the indoor evening light, and they did not even catch a spark of color from the candle Orihime held in her right hand. They looked dull, powerless, and unusually small.
It took a great effort to push the drawer shut.
She’d have to open the drawer again sometime because her socks and underwear were in there, but this was it. This was goodbye. Orihime would no longer call on her powers, and her powers would no longer manifest into fairies and surprise her with “Hello hello, were you snoring in your sleep or was that some danger roaring nearby? Who needs help? Where’s the trouble?”
The sense of being connected to magical voices was gone. Once there had always throbbed a sense of communication between Orihime’s heart and the painted metal petals in her hairpins. Twelve petals that became six tiny people hovering brightly in broad daylight. Six wishes poised at the threshold of All Things Possible.
Orihime had felt that connection between herself and her fairy voices deaden the moment she made the decision not to use her powers anymore. It had been as simple as that.
She set the candle on the top of the dresser drawer.
The candle illuminated the photo of her brother who was only one of many people Orihime had wronged.
If the light of the candle was supposed to be the wisdom of Buddha then why had Orihime’s meditations all that night brought her no other certainty than the knowledge that she may yet again be making another terrible mistake?
Was that the only truth? That there was no one clear path?
Orihime just didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore.
Sora. She had yelled at him and told him that the hairpins were childish. Then her selfishness had kept his spirit close to her after his death. What had been the words that she cried to his dead body? “Don’t leave me.” Of course she didn’t know that he could hear her, but what had those words been if not selfish? And she had been a little girl concerned more with her own messy life than with her brother’s eternal spirit.
Then she had lied to his picture and told him that she was fine and happy without him and that lie had led Sora’s ghost to become a bitter, jealous Hollow.
Kurosaki-kun had come to fix that, though--if it hadn’t been for Kurosaki-kun’s zanpakutou that cleansed her brother’s spirit! After Nii-chan ran the sword through his own throat, Nii-chan smiled…
Orihime had seen Sora ascend to a better world and maybe from that peacefulness and also from her love and gratitude towards Kurosaki-kun, Orihime’s powers eventually had been born.
Sora’s gift of the childish hairpins had seemed the most wonderful gift of all when Orihime was using them to heal and protect. The day Shunou spun a double loop around Orihime’s head and twittered something about “We are not flying midgets--we are your own self!” was the day Orihime felt that she stood on the brink of a Fairy Tale. Whoever or whatever they were, the fairies had arrived! They said they were there to protect!
It was supposed to have been a happy story. It was supposed to have been a story about learning to be strong for the sake of love. A love story?
Whatever had gone wrong had gone wrong very fast. On television, love affairs wither within the space of a couple hours but Orihime’s love felt like it had been destroyed even faster than that. One moment she had been leaning over a boy she could imagine loving throughout the lifetimes, her heart swollen with longing, and she had been ready to give her life for his. In fact, that’s exactly what she thought she was doing by leaving the Living World--Aizen wanted her for her powers and refusing to go to Aizen’s world would mean that Kurosaki-kun and so many others would die ….
One moment, one tear dropping against the sleeping boy’s cheek, and then the urge to kiss his lips--goodbye and be well--was gone.
There was that sense that she was making the wrong choice but every choice she had ever made had been accompanied by that soft dread. How could it be that every choice she had ever made was wrong?
She didn’t trust her choices. She didn’t trust herself.
In the next moment she was leaning over the same boy’s ripped and bloody body. What had been the words that she cried to his dead body? “Save me.” Of course she did not know that he could hear her, but what had those words been if not selfish? And she had been a little girl more concerned with her own fears and failings than with trying to help the one she had vowed to love and protect.
“I’m sorry, Kurosaki-kun,” Orihime spoke into her still room, and then the room went dark.
The last flame of the candle had died in a puddle of wax.
She had hurt them all. The friends who had come to save her had suffered so much for her sake. Kuchiki-san impaled on a trident, Sado-kun slashed by a scythe, Renji-san had tendons torn at his ankles and knees and had waited, far far from Orihime’s own healing powers, for his next opponent and his next scars. Then Ishida-kun--
Orihime didn’t even want to think about how much Ishida-kun had suffered because of her. Tears welled in her eyes before she could banish the memory of his brave face. His hand had been restored under her healing and it had reached for her own hand but ….
Orihime had not been able to take it. His fingertips had glanced off hers just as she straightened up and pretended to look away. Ishida-kun, do you feel the captains fighting? Do you think they will be all right? Should we stay here or--?
It was enough. It was over. She would never reach for anyone again or allow another to reach for her that way.
Because of her selfishness, there had been a war. Ulquiorra was dead, Kurosaki-kun now lived with regrets and a nameless monster inside him, and all Orihime’s friends had struggled in vain to save a person not worth saving.
Orihime washed her face in the bathroom. Goodbye. Goodbye. She lay her head on her pillow and stared with wide open eyes into the darkness.
How could she ever be well with that knowledge? How could she ever be well with part of herself shut away in a drawer?
Maybe she would learn to live in another way, feeling less deeply, not vowing anything, hurting no one.