Not exactly an IshiHime but you can call it that. There's IshiHime stuff.
No warnings, unless you're afraid of WAFF or the subject of child predators bothers you.
Terror at Tanabata
Disclaimer: Kubo Tite, not I, invented the world of Bleach and its characters. All I did was make Ishida and Orihime get married and have babies.
Description: PG. A lost Quincy, a kidnapper, some cotton candy and squid on a stick. IshiHime. Other Bleach characters.
Warnings: Take IshiHime and all the sweetness of that pairing and add a five-year-old girl and a bouncing Ishida baby. You have WAFF to the fourth degree.
It never occurred to either Ishida or Orihime that they might lose one of their children in a public place. Ryuuyu, the baby, carried in a sling by his mother, never had his feet touch the ground on outings. And Tsuyu, a “very sensitive” five-year-old, according to her father, hated leaving the house, period.
“She hates noises,” said Orihime.
“I think she hates people,” said Ishida. “She throws fruit at people.”
“Noisy people,” Orihime noted.
When Ishida’s summer vacation rolled around, he decided to cure his daughter of her agoraphobia by bringing the family to popular family fun spots. Orihime wanted to ride the Gundam ride so the Fuji-Q was the first destination.
“I won’t like it,” Tsuyu said. “Rides are stupid.”
Who would be impressed with a roller-coaster ride if your daddy could pick you up and zoom you into the skies at the speed of hirenkyaku?
Ishida Tsuyu had not been amused at the amusement park. The kiddie coaster rocked her to sleep, she said, and she was sure the fancier rides would too--once she met the height requirements. She spit out the fireball candy Orihime said was so tasty, and she didn’t like the stage performer, Coolio, who Ishida said was so cool.
And so the first summer family outing was a flop.
Tsuyu told her parents she didn’t want to go anywhere for vacation. She preferred training in a wooded area with her new bracelet. She couldn’t shoot arrows yet, but she’d been able to summon a bow on several occasions. Her daddy said this was extraordinary for a tiny person who had to wrap her Quincy heirloom twice around her wrist, but Tsuyu retorted that she was going to be in a bad mood until she learned to shoot arrows.
“She can’t stay grumpy all summer,” Ishida said.
“Yes she can,” Orihime said. “Or at least she can pretend she is. Remember that everyone thought you’d been grumpy for years until you met me.”
Ishida believed that his daughter, who was entering public school next year, should be cured of this peevishness before too many people found out about it. Orihime disagreed. “You’ll stifle her if you force her to do anything. She was born free.”
“I don’t think it’s stifling her to ask her to go to the beach.”
Orihime started singing. “Born free, as free as the grass grows ….”
Daddy didn’t like amusement parks, but he didn’t mind the beach, so one day he took Tsuyu to see the Pacific Ocean. Orihime had stayed home with the baby who was colicky. She’d been wondering if now wasn’t a good time to teach Tsuyu to swim, but Ishida had told her that Quincy didn’t know how to swim. Orihime had looked surprised and hadn’t questioned Ishida further about the matter.
“You don’t know how to swim, Daddy?” Tsuyu was unzipping a plastic bag containing Ishida’s book for the afternoon. “You’re just going to sit here?”
“If you can manipulate spiritrons well, you can part the waters and travel the seas in an air bubble.”
And Ishida read his book, and Tsuyu made sand mounds she called castles.
The trip’s success lasted for one hour. When Ishida bought cotton candy from a vendor, Tsuyu cried because the pink stuff stuck to her face. Ishida tried to wipe her with a dry cloth and that only spread the pinkness to his shirt and Tsuyu’s neck and arms. She wailed. Ishida fetched a bucket of seawater and told Tsuyu to get ready. He expected her to laugh like a normal five-year-old when he splattered her, but she only cried louder. He took his own untouched cotton candy out of the bag and tried to entertain her by dropping tiny drops of seawater on it to watch the fluff fizz. He used to do that as a kid, he said in his most gentle voice and asked her to try.
Tsuyu was horrified by the fizzling pinkness, and so father and daughter had to take the train home right away.
Orihime didn’t say “I told you so,” but she sang “Born Free” all that week.
Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star *
“Alright then,” Ishida said, “what are we going to do about the Tanabata Festival this year? You love to go.”
“We’ll have to stay home. Can you imagine how much the lights and noise would bother her?”
“We’re supposed to meet Chad and Karin in Hiratsuka.”
“Since when are you all sociable? You like to sit as far as you can from the stage and read.”
“It’s pleasant to read to music.”
She teased him about hypersensitive Quincy ears, and he reminded her that their daughter had slept through Tanabata noises when she was a baby. Orihime reminded him that last year Tsuyu had flat out screaming refused to go.
“When we left her with Yuzu, she was so unhappy, so we’re all staying home this time.”
Ishida put his fingers at the nape of his wife’s neck and stroked the soft hairs there there. “It’s your festival, Orihime.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “Please. We have to go.”
His lips drew closer to her ear. “You make all my wishes come true.”
Orihime’s closed her eyes and melted. “But--”
“Tsuyu knows that her mother is a goddess but she doesn’t know that there’s a whole festival for Orihime.”
Even though her father was murmuring in his romantic voice, Tsuyu’s hypersensitive Quincy ears caught the last remark. “There’s a festival for Mama? REALLY?”
And she wanted to go.
Ishida and Orihime could not have been more pleased. Ishida wanted to plan a full five- day itinerary, but his wife said, “don’t overwhelm her!” No opening festivities or musical acts, Orihime suggested. The dance parades on the seventh day celebration. Some wandering about to look at decorations, lunch with friends, nothing too demanding.
“Why do I have to wear a yukata?” Tsuyu wanted to know.
“You don’t,” said Ishida, “but your mother always does. Don’t you want to match your mother?”
“Okay,” Tsuyu grumbled. She’d wanted to wear the Quincy suit her father had made for her.
On the big day, the family took the train out of Tokyo, and even though the trip was only an hour and a half, Orihime had packed snacks galore. Peas, fruit, chocolate candies. Ryuuyu, who was at the age when everything went into his mouth, ate heartily, but Tsuyu said she was saving her stomach for exotic vendor food.
The family had barely gotten out of the train station when Orihime said that Ryuuyu’s tummy was making those noises it did right before he got diarrhea. Ishida made a Tanabata wish that his son wouldn’t get sick.
Tsuyu saw the first food stall. “Stick food!” She loved anything on a stick except, as her father had discovered, cotton candy. “Look at the wiggly things!”
Ishida put his hand to his throat. “No, no, no.”
“Your daddy doesn’t eat certain seafood,” Orihime said.
“A sure way to get sick,” Ishida said. “Cephalopods that have been lying for out for hours. Honey, that’s an octopus--do you want to eat an octopus?”
But an elderly man said that the wiggly things on display were fake. He said that they were rubber photo-ops for the Americans and that you had to order your squid right from the grill. “Delicious, delicious,” he said and he bought Tsuyu a squid on a stick.
Orihime beamed about how nice people could be, and Ishida pushed up his glasses and predicted that both kids would be sick before they finished walking the block.
Tsuyu licked the marinade of her squid and skipped, waving the tentacles like streamers, down the streets. Mama and Daddy couldn’t keep up with her. Then they lost sight of her.
“Don’t worry,” said Orihime when Ishida looked nervous. “I can sense her reiatsu.”
“I can’t,” he said. His daughter had an erratic spiritual pressure and sometimes Ishida suspected she was trying to hide it. Sometimes even Orihime had trouble locating it.
While Orihime pointed out giant paper cranes and comet streamers to a gassy-looking baby, Ishida grumbled about terrorists, kidnappers … and how Tsuyu could fall on the pavement and break a bone. He needed to coax her back, so he bought her a little doll with a star necklace. Tourists be damned, he flew on his feet above the crowd in a millisecond and located her, running back and forth into street streamers.
“I got you this,” Ishida said. “I carry the money for buying the toys today.”
The words made her pause. “It’s a doll. I don’t like dolls.”
“It’s an Orihime doll.”
“It doesn’t look like Mama at all.”
Ishida put the doll under his arm. “I’ll use hirenkyaku if you’ll come back with me to Mama’s.”
It was a deal, and Ishida picked up the little black-haired girl who weighed only a little more than the doll. Before a breeze could lift Tsuyu’s hair, they materialized before Orihime and the increasingly sick-looking baby.
“What did you want me to come back for?”
“I thought you might like to walk with your family.”
Tsuyu looked like she was about to take off again, and Ishida felt helpless--Quincy do not feel helpless.
“Oh look,” said Orihime. “There’s a little catch pond up ahead. You’ll want to do this, Tsuyu. When I was little we could scoop for goldfish or little turtles.”
“That’s not done anymore, remember? No more live animals.” Ishida caught the disappointment in his daughter’s eyes. “But there are plastic turtles … and um … plastic fish.”
“Plastic fish?” Tsuyu could do the Ishida you’re-kidding-me look perfectly. Sometimes she looked as superior as her grandfather.
Then there was an explosion of noises that sounded like firecrackers in Orihime’s sling.
Tsuyu wrinkled her nose and Ryuuyu looked like he felt better.
“When he gets like this, it lasts all day,” Orihime said. “I can’t figure out what he’s allergic to. It seems to be everything.”
“Orihime, you let him eat wasabi peas,” Ishida said. “He’s not allergic.”
After two diaper changes in rest areas over the next half-hour, Orihime became worried. “He’ll get all hot and dehydrated out here. Uryuu, you have to take us home.”
“No, no, no! I’m not going home! I just got here! We’ll miss the dancing people!” Tsuyu cried so loudly that another elderly man offered her a bag of cotton candy. When she saw the cotton candy, she cried even louder.
“We can’t leave her alone here until I come back,” Ishida said firmly. “She’s only five.”
“Find Chad,” Orihime suggested.
And so they did. Chad and Karin said they’d be at Shinshuku Park at twelve, and sure enough, there they were. They were easy to find even without scanning for their reiatsu: Chad stood head and shoulders above the crowd and wore a Hawaiian shirt with fluorescent flowers.
“There’s something wrong with your baby,” Karin told Orihime. “It smells bad.”
Orihime explained that Uryuu was going to hirenkyaku her and the baby home, and would she and Chad please watch Tsuyu until they got back?
“I thought the girl kid had agoraphobia,” Karin said. “Oh my god, is she eating squid on a stick?”
“This is Mama’s festival,” Tsuyu said. “I want to see all of it.” She waggled her squid and giggled when Karin made a disgusted face.
When the family disappeared, Karin offered Tsuyu an Orihime doll and some expensive chocolate in exchange for Tsuyu’s throwing the squid in the trash. Tsuyu wanted to pay the vendors herself, so Chad gave her a 5000-yen bill.
“She can buy a whole vendor’s cart with that, Chad,” Karin said.
“Festivals are for children,” Chad said.
Naturally, Tsuyu didn’t return.
It took Ishida a whole minute to return to Shinshuku Park because he had to help Orihime with Ryuuyu. The unfortunate baby, who was crying because he didn’t like travelling at the speed of Quincy, calmed down after another explosion of fireworks. Ishida left the quiet house with reluctance, and landed at the noisy festival with the staunch intent of sticking by Tsuyu all day. He had a strange feeling about her.
Tsuyu was going to indeed purchase an Orihime doll if she could find one with ginger hair, but when she saw that every doll looked like Daddy’s doll, she wanted to make a more unique purchase. She wandered an area that catered to the romantic aspect of the holiday--hearts and flowers, chocolates, souvenir t-shirts, boxers and panties--and she didn’t see anything she liked. She saw a lot of silly men laughing buying gifts for women, but none of them spoke in that velvet voice Daddy had used to talk to Mama about Tanabata.
At the park, Ishida and Karin and Chad waited and waited.
“She should be back by now,” Ishida said.
“No biggie,” said Karin, “just track her with your super senses.”
If Tsuyu had not been missing, Ishida would not have confessed to being unable to sense her. “I--she has irrational reiatsu. It’s hard to detect.”
“You can’t find your own daughter!” Karin was alarmed now. “You should’ve told us this beforehand. Now we’ve gone and lost your kid!”
“I should’ve gone with her,” Chad said.
“She can’t be far,” Ishida tried not to look perturbed. Think, think. “If I were Tsuyu, where would I go?”
“To catch the fish?” Chad asked.
“No,” said Karin, “that’s what you’ve been wanting to do all day. Tsuyu isn’t a normal kid.”
“Everyone wants to catch fish,” Chad said.
“No they don’t,” Karin said. “You’re not a normal grown-up.”
“Did either of you get a sense of her reiatsu signature?” Ishida put his chin in his hand.
Chad and Karin shook their heads.
“Then we’ve got to split up,” Ishida said. “Chad, you take the mall road to the civic center. Karin, Beniya Poarl Road. I’ll zip around and see if I can locate her from overhead.”
“Like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Karin said. “Do you realize how many people are here?
“Ishida?” asked Chad.
“Um … you could always…”
“Speak up. What is it?”
“You could give her name to the information center and they will call her by intercom. I’ve heard them call for three children that way this week.”
“Only three?” asked Ishida. “Since Monday?”
“Most parents stick close to their little kids,” said Karin. “Most parents can’t fly away home. I would’ve grabbed the kid by the scruff of the neck and made her come home with me.”
Ishida looked guilty. “Okay, I’ll alert the information center. You two head out as I said.”
An elderly man was showing Tsuyu how to eat strawberries whole so the juice didn’t squirt on your clothes. He said that sprinkling a little bit of black pepper on them made the flavor come out. Tsuyu gave the man her skeptical Ishida face and said that fruit with pepper sounded like something her mother would come up with.
“You children eat too much candy,” he told Tsuyu. “Here, these are beautiful strawberries. You will like them.”
“My daddy says I’m not supposed to take candy from strangers.”
“Did he say anything about fruit?”
Tsuyu remembered her father had overlooked the cotton-candy gentleman earlier. Daddy was not a consistent rules-enforcer. What sort of Quincy overlooked his own rules?
Tsuyu eyed the strawberries. She’d never liked the fruit because they were too mooshy and did not make good balls for catch like apples and peaches.
“And where is your mother, little girl?”
“I don’t know.” Tsuyu decided to forfeit the strawberries and find another wiggly on a stick to lick. “My mother is Orihime and this is her festival.”
She skipped away and left the man laughing. She decided that old men were very nice. From the way her daddy talked, one would think that all men except him were dangerous and mean.
Tsuyu found herself heading back for the train station. There she found a bamboo tree that was twenty times the size of the one in a pot on her home porch. A lady was handing out strips of colored paper for people to write their wishes on and then hang on the tree.
“I don’t know how to write,” Tsuyu told the lady. It was true. Many girls her age could write very well, but Tsuyu preferred drawing a bow to fussing with writing.
“Orihime can improve your penmanship,” said the lady. “Wish for that.”
“I’d rather wish for something better,” Tsuyu said and asked the woman to take dictation.
“I wish to be able to shoot an arrow.”
“This is stupid,” muttered Karin as she went from the plastic fishpond to a stand that sold only Hello Kitty masks to a performing juggler. “This festival is huge.”
She thought she might get a clue from the man who was juggling colorful balls. “See a little girl?” she asked. “Tiny, tiny, dressed in a pink and green yukata. She likes to throw fruit?”
“I have no fruits,” said the juggler in a foreign accent. “I can juggle fruits. You buy me a fruits?”
Karin walked away, pissed. “I would like to throw a fruits at you,” she said.
Passing a lovers’ gift stall, she frowned. This was her first Tanabata with a real boyfriend. A nice boyfriend at that. Chad was supposed to be holding her hand and buying her stuff, not looking for the Ishida kid on the other side of the festival.
“She’ll turn up,” Karin told herself as tried not to worry. “She’s an Ishida.”
Chad ran at full speed through the streets and people stared at the big magenta blur. Chad’s plan was to look vivid enough for Tsuyu to notice him. He was noticeable, alright. “Tsuyu! Tsuyu!” he called in his deep voice.
A woman assumed Chad was a festival performer. “Who’s he supposed to be?”
“The comet?” her companion said. “I don’t remember anyone yelling like that and wearing pink in the Tanabata story. Maybe he’s a local folk legend-type.”
As he rounded street blocks, running through the rain of colorful streamers like Tsuyu had, Chad tried not to worry. Tsuyu was a very tough little girl. She’d once hit landed an excellently pitched apple smack on his temple. He should’ve known to duck because of her reputation, but he hadn’t believed such a little person could be so mean.
Chad wondered if Ishida would go to the police station. There was one somewhere near the train. Did the situation merit police help? Wouldn’t Tsuyu find her father and friends? Of course she had to. She was clever. She was an Ishida.
There wasn’t much else to do after making a wish, but Tsuyu still had Chad’s bill. At the train station, vendors sold trinkets and food just like on the streets. She was hungry because she’d only eat the sauce off her squid. Everyone was talking on a cell phone, and she considered asking if she could borrow one to call Chad. Then she remembered she didn’t know Chad’s number.
She didn’t want to go back to Chad and the rude girl anyway.
She’d been at this station a few times. All you had to do was hand your rail pass to the man, find yourself a seat and go home. Mama was at home--with Ryuuyu who was having a pooping crisis. That meant he wouldn’t be able to eat for a while and there would be more wasabi peas for Tsuyu.
She couldn’t find the rail man. There were lots of platforms. There were lots of maps.
She’d got rid of the squid stick and fingered her bill. She could eat something really good with this. The fanciest chocolate ice cream crepe ever, maybe.
Or did she want a giant hot dog?
Ishida sat solemnly near the police station and considered if the situation was serious enough for him to go inside. The information center had called “Ishida Tsuyu, meet your father at the information center” a few times but no one paid attention. The sound was just another one of the festival noises. Tsuyu probably hadn’t heard it.
Ishida had swept over the obvious meeting places--the performance stage, the parade stops, all the rest parks. Maybe she’d gone inside a shop? Was she crying in the ladies’ bathroom?
Chad and Karin had called Ishida’s cell phone to tell him that they’d been unsuccessful in their searches, and Ishida’s heart had leapt at each phone buzz. He was now trying to calm himself down and put the situation in its proper perspective.
Tsuyu would tell some kind soul that she was lost, and then this kind soul would bring her here to the police station.
Everything was going to be fine.
Orihime would laugh at the story later.
Chad and Karin would tell about their festival adventures at dinner.
Tsuyu would fall asleep on the train ride back.
Then why did Ishida’s chest feel cold inside? He pictured his daughter who was so sensitive to loud noises standing next to the speakers of a parade float. She would spend all Chad’s money on souvenirs and then be hungry for lunch. Had she eaten anything this morning? Ishida didn’t think so. She said she was saving her stomach for vendor food. She was just a little girl. Just a little, little girl who was afraid of cotton candy.
He blinked back tears. This was the worst day of his life.
No, it would be alright. She was an Ishida. If he didn’t find her, she would find him. She was spiritually gifted. Maybe she already recognized her father’s reiatsu.
Ishida stared at his shoes. It was so unlike her to wander away. What kind of an Ishida wanders away without a plan and without telling anyone?
Of course, she was Orihime’s daughter too. Ishida closed his eyes at the revelation. This was something Orihime would do. The story about her chasing a dragonfly for three days was legendary. Ishida reminded himself that Tatsuki had found Orihime that time; if Tatsuki could find Orihime, then … then…
What kind of father lost his own child?
Ishida took off his glasses and wiped his forehead with his sleeve. He couldn’t remember having ever been this scared before.
Tsuyu sat dangling her feet from a high stool at the pastry shop. She’d gotten the biggest, sugariest crepe there was, and it had only cost a fraction of what she expected. Maybe she would buy another one for Mama who loved ice cream in a crepe.
“What a pretty yukata,” said the man down the bar counter. “Very stylish, very simple.”
“My dad made it,” Tsuyu said. “He sews all my clothes. This one looks just like my Mama’s, only my Mama’s is green with pink trim, and mine is pink with green trim. My Mama is Orihime. Her festival is very nice, don’t you think?”
The man smiled. “Your mother is Orihime? Where is your mother?”
Tsuyu stuck her nose into her fruity crepe. “She’s at home.”
“Where’s your father?”
“Are you here with a grandmother? A sibling? Any other sort of grown-up?”
Tsuyu considered her situation as she slurped her ice cream. She was lost, that was for sure. She hadn’t wanted to face the fact, but the moment required her to admit it. An Ishida could be many things--a fruit thrower, a tantrum thrower, a hypersensitive agoraphobic--but an Ishida was not a liar.
“I think I’m lost,” Tsuyu said.
The man’s smile didn’t fade. “Well then. I will get you home. Where do you live?”
“Somewhere in Karakura.” Tsuyu shrugged. “My house has an apple tree.”
“You were going to take the train home all by yourself? All the way to Tokyo?”
Tsuyu shrugged again. Taking the train was the plan. She couldn’t read very well, though, and there were a lot of maps in the station. Maybe the man would tell her what train to take.
“Come, come,” The man got off his stool and wiped his mouth with a napkin. His crepe was not even half-eaten. “We’ll find your parents. You can bring your ice cream. Come, come.”
Ishida had walked into the police station. There was a Tanabata tree at the door.
The policemen were dressed like Samurai and were handing out maps.
“Someone will bring her here,” they said. “Most missing kids show up here within the hour. We'll send a man to look for her too, of course.”
Ishida wondered how a Samurai could find her when he, Chad, and Karin hadn’t.
The Shinigami could find her. They had the technology. Ishida would humble himself and ask Soul Society to help him find his child. But he would have to go to Urahara’s to get in contact with Renji and the others, and he wanted to sit here--waiting to see if anyone brought Tsuyu to the station.
Then it hit him.
He’d been so discombobulated that he’d overlooked an obvious solution. What sort of Quincy was he? If anything, this was a time when his expertise as a problem-solver should have been at its keenest instead of falling apart under his emotions.
It was simple. Orihime could sense Tsuyu. Orihime had the best reiatsu-sensing ability in the world. Tsuyu had a talent for hiding her reiatsu but Orihime could sniff her out. He would simply call her, tell her what had happened, zip over and get her, and everything would be--
Ishida didn’t want to call Orihime.
He had to spare her the worry. He had to spare himself the humiliation. He’d have to fly Diarrhea Diaper-chan back into the land of the stomach poisoning food. There would be crying. Orihime might be mad.
Just another half-hour. He could wait just another half-hour. Everything was going to be fine.
Tsuyu dropped her crepe when the man said he had a car.
“Oh that’s okay, Tsuyu. There’s a Mr. Donut near here. I’ll buy you more sweets.”
“I thought we were going to go on the train.”
“Nonsense,” said the man. He and Tsuyu had been walking on a side street beyond the restricted festival parking. “All that pushing and shoving. Too many people. I just got off the train and my arms are sore from being elbowed.”
Tsuyu wrinkled her nose. “You have a car? But you took the train?”
“It’s not my car; it’s my brother’s car. He lives here, and I came to see the festival.” The man took a set of keys from his pocket and dangled them. “Kaito lets me have the run of his place for the festival. He doesn’t like to party.”
“I don’t like to party.” Tsuyu realized she’d missed the dancing parade and felt a little sad. “I only came here because it’s my Mama’s festival.”
“Oh yes, your mother Orihime. Did you like the parades? I like the night parades.”
“I didn’t see a parade.” Tsuyu didn’t like how friendly the man seemed to be. The friendly elderly men didn’t talk much and didn’t ask her name or didn’t offer to help her find her way. This man was not elderly. He was young, like Chad, and he had a fat neck and could be a kidnapper. Daddy had told Tsuyu never to get into a stranger’s car.
“The night parades have lights and Spanish dancers. Very beautiful. Were your parents going to take you to a night parade?”
“Why do you want me to get in the car?” Tsuyu stopped walking. The sun was bright. The street was empty of revelers. There were no empty parking spaces on the street. Any one of those cars could be a bad man’s car.
“If your brother lives here and doesn’t go to the festival then why is his car here and not at his house?
“Very sharp girl you are. His house is a far walk from the station, and he couldn’t come to pick me up here because of the Tanabata traffic.” The man was making sense, thought Tsuyu. He went on to make more sense. “Parking is impossible this time of year, so he parked nearby last week and carpooled to work. This festival messes up everything for everyone every year. Some of the locals really hate Tanabata.”
“It’s Mama’s festival,” Tsuyu reiterated. “You could wish for good parking. My daddy says my mother can make anybody’s wish come true.”
“What a nice daddy you have.” Expecting her to start walking with him again, the man continued down the road. He stopped when he sensed that Tsuyu hadn’t budged. He turned around and folded his arms. He looked a little impatient.
It was that look of impatience that tipped Tsuyu’s good man versus bad man evaluating to the bad man side. Good people smiled a lot like Mama. This guy …was he trying to be a good or was he faking it like how Tsuyu did when she wanted her grandfather to buy her another chocolate bar?
“Are you tired?” asked the man.
She was. She was hungry too.
“The car is just another block away. Mr. Donut is around here too.”
Tsuyu took a step back. The man seemed very nice, but Daddy had said never to get in a stranger’s car. Daddy knew some things. People said he was smart.
“I don’t like donuts,” Tsuyu said. “Just crepes.”
The man walked back to Tsuyu. Tsuyu considered taking another step back but didn’t.
“Ah, well, I don’t think anywhere around here sells crepes. There could be candy in the glove compartment, though.”
That was it. Strange man, a car, and now candy.
Tsuyu took a breath and yelled as loud as she could (which was pretty loud). “KIDNAPPER! KIDNAPPER! KIDNAPPER!” and the man looked deathly afraid and grabbed her arm.
No one had ever grabbed her so roughly--not even Grandfather when he was mad about Tsuyu’s playing catch with melons.
“You,” she said as she gave the man her angriest Ishida face, “You are a very bad man.”
Ishida was looking at his shoes and wondering if he should wait yet another half-hour before calling Orihime.
Then his head shot up.
A distinct, unusual Quincy reiatsu. It couldn’t be anyone but Tsuyu’s, and it was close-by.
He left the police station in a flash.
He felt terrified for Tsuyu. What had caused her to stir her spiritual power like this? Cotton candy melting hadn’t, and that had scared her terribly. She was lost, she was afraid, she was hurt….
When Ishida rounded the corner of the un-peopled street and saw the man on the ground and Tsuyu standing over him with a golden glowing spirit bow, Ishida was no longer worried for Tsuyu. He was worried for the man.
“Tsuyu! What are you doing?”
As Ishida got closer, he saw the terror in the man’s eyes. Hadn’t Ishida told his daughter never to summon her bow in a public place? She had no control of her power. She had no use for the bow yet and couldn’t even shoot an arrow. Ishida thought that she had understood the importance of being discreet about Quincy abilities.
“This is a bad man,” Tsuyu said as she turned her face to her father.
She looked like Ryuuken. She didn’t look pissed off in a detached way like Ishida himself could look. She looked cold, cold, cold and superior like Ryuuken.
Ishida realized the situation. They were away from the festival crowds. This bad man had led his daughter away.
“He tried to kidnap me,” Tsuyu said.
Ishida’s rage exploded through his left arm and Ginrei Kojaku appeared, all spokes of its spiderweb reflecting the clear noonday sunlight.
“Step away, Tsuyu,” Ishida said.
“You don’t understand,” said the man on the floor. How had he gotten there? Had Tsuyu managed to kick him? “I was going to bring her to the police office. I’m not a predator. I am a researcher in the natural sciences. I have a girlfriend in Tokyo. I’m not a pervert.”
“But I want to kill him myself, Daddy.”
Ishida didn’t doubt that she could. The reiatsu he had detected was on a par with his own. But killing this abomination was a father’s job.
“Taking her to the police station, you say?” Ishida’s voice rose to near-shouting level. “The festival police station is in the other direction.”
“I know that,” said the man. His eyes were reflecting the light of two bows aimed at his head. Tsuyu stood directly over him, and Ishida stood a few meters away. “I was going to take her to the police in my brother’s district. The festival is so crowded right now. There will be only one officer dressed as a Samurai. My district--” The man choked on his words as they spilled out. “My district has real police officers.”
Now Ishida had some doubt. He wouldn’t kill the man. He still wanted to, but he wasn’t going to. At least not right away.
“You don’t look afraid enough,” Ishida said. “What sort of person are you to frighten a little girl and then expect to be treated with mercy? You should fear my bow. It can inflict great pain before it kills you.”
Tsuyu gave her father a look of adoration that Ishida didn’t miss.
“I have a good friend who is a policeman,” the man said and looked about to cry.
“That’s stupid,” said Tsuyu. “That doesn’t make any difference. My daddy and I are going to kill you anyway.”
“Please, no. What are you people? I thought the little girl had a festival toy but then she fired a shot into the car that tore a hole through the metal. I’m a scientist. Are you carrying lasers? Are you intelligence operatives for Naicho?”
Great, another scientist. Ishida seemed to have a talent for finding the insane ones. Besides the fact that the man seemed to be calming down too quickly for someone in peril, Ishida was surprised by the hole in the car-door behind him. It was wide and clean. A very fine arrow made that shot.
“It was just a warning shot,” Tsuyu explained. “I didn’t miss.”
“Did he hurt you, Tsuyu?”
“No, but he said he had candy in his car.”
Ishida raised his weapon again. “Candy in your car?”
“Uryuu,” said a stern voice behind him. “A bag of candy alone doesn’t not indict someone as a child predator.”
Ishida didn’t turn around. “You felt the reiatsu too? Tsuyu shot an arrow. Look at the hole in that car.”
Ryuuken’s voice sounded unimpressed. “What did I teach you about restraint? This situation could have been addressed without your pulling out Ginrei Kojaku and spouting death threats.”
The man looked pleadingly to Ryuuken for help. “I was trying to help the girl,” he said.
Ryuuken walked towards the man. “Put that away, Tsuyu or no chocolates from Grandfather the next time I visit.”
“Okay.” Tsuyu’s bow vanished into the sacred object dangling from her wrist. “I really wanted to kill him. I don’t know how to seal off power points like Daddy can, so I was just going to have to destroy his soul.” She looked sorry that she hadn’t done just that.
Ishida hadn’t lowered his weapon a millimeter. “What would you have done, Ryuuken? What if he had already hurt her? What if he--” Ishida swallowed. “You wouldn’t hesitate to kill him, right?”
The man suddenly looked concerned that there was another murderous person on the scene.
Ryuuken took the man’s arm and yanked him to a standing position. “We’re going to the police office, sir. You will explain yourself to the authorities.”
“Grandpa, why aren’t you going to kill him?”
“Ryuuken, you showed up here.” Ishida couldn’t help goading his father. It was too ingrained a habit. “Didn’t you come to save Tsuyu?”
The man’s eyes had lost every iota of scientific interest in this trio. He was trembling in Ryuuken’s grasp.
“I felt her before you did,” Ryuuken told Ishida. “I had perfect faith that my granddaughter could take care of herself. After all, she’s an Ishida.”
It turned out that the suspected predator did indeed have a brother in town, one who confirmed the story about parking his car near the festival a week ago. The policeman friend also vouched for man. The suspected predator had no police record, let alone any record of questionable behavior around children.
Ishida had wanted to charge the man with battery for grabbing his daughter’s arm, but when Tsuyu showed him the arm, it was un-marked.
There had been no reason to hold the man, and the suspected child predator had known better than to mention glowing bows and arrows to the police. He had an immaculate reputation in his community by all accounts, but of the three Ishidas, only Ryuuken believed that the man was trying to help Tsuyu find her way home.
“You could’ve called the police station,” Ishida told the man.
“I--I--” The man kept glancing at Ishida’s wrist and then looking back to a father’s angry eyes. “I didn’t want to scare the girl. The word police can be scary. She might think she’d done something wrong. Kids are like that. My--my--cousin has kids. I just wanted Tsuyu to feel safe and happy before we got there, so I offered to buy her a donut--”
“You didn’t think that was peculiar? Decent men don’t go around offering donuts to little girls!”
Ryuuken put his arm on his son’s shoulder. “Tsuyu said she’s hungry, so let’s go to a restaurant. None of this festival food, please.”
Ishida narrowed his eyes at the suspected child predator before taking his leave. “I’ll be watching you,” he said.
“Me too!” Tsuyu took her father’s hand and looked proud and happy. Going to new places and wandering around was fun. She was going to have to try this again someday.
The trauma of the day’s events made it impossible for Chad and Karin to enjoy the rest of the festivities, and they and the Ishidas decided to forego any more Tanabata parades to have a nice, quiet meal somewhere.
“Do you know the area, Uryuu?” Ryuuken was a little out of his element walking along a festival road. He walked, perhaps by accident, through a hanging comet streamer and some of the ribbons came off on his shoulders. “Can you suggest a child-accommodating restaurant? Not a franchise. Someplace than makes something besides Teriyaki burgers?”
Ishida’s eyes swept over the suburban landscape of Hiratsuka. It wasn’t economical to tell the Terror at Tanabata story to Chad and Karin first and then again to Orihime. He wanted to get it over all at once and be told what he could’ve done or what he should’ve done.
Despite Tsuyu’s being safe, Ishida was in a bad mood. Was he a bad father? All fathers make mistakes. Not all fathers leave their children to child predators.
“Uryuu, did you hear me? Do you know where to get decent food?”
“Orihime’s kitchen,” Ishida said.
Ryuuken gave an Ishida you’ve-got-to-be-kidding look that Tsuyu studied closely.
“She’s a good cook now,” said Karin. “She takes classes and everything.”
Ryuuken wore his skeptical Ishida face all the train-ride back, and everyone ate snacks in case Orihime wasn’t cooking tonight. Everyone offered to buy Tsuyu whatever she wanted--squids, crepes, chocolates--but Tsuyu said she was saving her stomach for Mama’s food.
As luck would have it, Orihime was practicing cooking a traditional Tanabata meal. Her recipe cards were laid out and the smells of fish and sauces welcomed those who had fled the festival. She was still wearing her yukata and Ryuuyu was asleep in a matching green sling.
“Mama, Mama!” The first thing Tsuyu did was run to her mother and hug her by the thighs. “Thank you for granting my Tanabata wish!”
Orihime looked to Ishida and smiled warmly. “That’s what you always say on this day,” Orihime said.
Orihime wasn’t in the least bit surprised by company because Ishida bringing people over to eat Orihime’s class assignments was nothing new. She served mackerel wrapped in boiled bamboo and didn’t seem at all disturbed by the Terror at Tanabata tale. “You should’ve just come and gotten me,” she said. “But I suppose if you had, then Tsuyu wouldn’t have had the opportunity to shoot her first arrow.”
One dish was what could only be described as chilled spaghetti dyed all the colors of the rainbow. “It’s traditional,” Orihime said. “It’s called Tanabata soumen.”
“I’ve never seen this before,” said Ryuuken. “I’ve never heard of this before.” But he ate some and pronounced it better than a teriyaki burger.
“I was very brave,” Tsuyu was going on in an attempt to keep the focus on her adventure. “I pushed the man to the curb like Tatsuki-san. You should’ve seen his eyes when my bow appeared.”
“Do you still have Chad’s 5000-yen bill?” asked Karin.
Ishida was picking at his food. “I’ll pay you back,” he said grouchily.
“I’m still not over it,” Orihime said. “My baby girl shot her first arrow. The most important event in her Quincy life so far.”
“Oh no it’s not.” Tsuyu slurped a pink frozen noodle through her teeth. “Shooting the arrow was cool, but that wasn’t the best thing. Not today. You know what’s the best thing of my whole Quincy life ever?”
Tsuyu paused dramatically as the whole table awaited her answer.
Ishida wasn’t paying attention. He’d been reconsidering the child predator’s innocence and maybe… well, maybe Ishida had over-reacted a bit.
“The best thing ever in all my Quincy life was my daddy today.” Tsuyu waved her chopsticks like she had her squid on a stick. “You should’ve seen him. He was so cool. He never kept his aim off this guy. He never let him off the hook, even at the police station. I didn’t know he could be so--badass.”
“That’s not a good word to use,” said Ryuuken. “I mean, your father may indeed be badass but the word itself isn’t proper, especially for five-year-old girls at the dinner table.”
Ishida was staring at his daughter.
She smiled at him. “It was Mama’s festival and Daddy was the hero of it. How fantastic is that?”
And the table agreed. Yes, yes, it was fantastic indeed.
* “Born Free” song and lyrics by John Barry and Don Black
Last year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of 2006, I made a wish upon a piece of colored paper and hung it from my little potted bamboo plant. All the year I wrote IshiHimes in keeping with the early practice of writing poems and proverbs and offering them to the stars. I tried to include an epigram, proverb or goofy lyric before each story. This one’s was “Born Free,” for no particular reason other than it seemed like something Orihime would sing. I’ve worked and worked and have been a faithful fic writer so will Orihime grant my wish this seventh day of the seventh month 2007?
I want an IshiHime kiss in the manga.
P.S. I can’t believe I wrote a WAFFY child-predator fic in response to the Great LJ Strike-out of 2007. I said I was going to write about child predators, and I did. XD
As always, I'd love it if you pointed out typos, dropped words, etc. Feedback cherished.
I just saw the raw. I must say that the script was unexciting but the art in the raw is great. Lots of great, tense facial expressions from Ulqui, Ichi, and Grimmy. Orihime actually looks tough in one panel. Um, don't get me started about what Grimmy inserts into Ulqui's hole. <.<
Oh well. The hero of the story fights Grimmjaw, his arch foe, with the object of mission present. Hero of manga has risen from near death. Now will he beat Grimmjow? Only to have Hime say "I'm staying here?" I'm still holding out for Ishida to save Orihime. Why do fighting manga have to have so many fights?? *tears hair*
Of all the fights, the ones with Ichigo are the least exciting for me.
The next few weeks should answer my questions. What happened to Rukia, dammit!
I want IshiHime action by Tanabata. Look, he didn't wear those fancy duds for nothing. He didn't tear them up for nothing either. I am 100% sure that he'll see her.
Ah well, as much as I complain, the art--the art! I appreciate Kubo's art more with every chapter.