_debbiechan_ (_debbiechan_) wrote in bleachness,
_debbiechan_
_debbiechan_
bleachness

Chapter 279 Spoilers, Reviews, Orihime fic (PG), Hime's character in HM arc


This spoiler text seems uninteresting so far. The title of the chapter is from a Judas Priest album I know well. And if Grimmjow's release is anything like the album cover, it'll look like this? Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

When I saw that there was a conversation between Nell and Orihime that took up half the chapter, I thought "hip hip hooray, more than just fighting!" But alas, it seems their exchange is mostly Nell fearing for Ichigo and Orihime reassuring her and then some predictable cheerleading.
(thanks spacexat for early translation) The images should be better because as with 278, there appears to be little dialogue and mucho macho between Grimmjow and Ichigo. And the preview claims that Ulqui will return in 280?

There's no way Ichigo can't win this one in a predictable shounen way unless the two are interrupted (by Noitra? Ulqui? Ishida and Renji? Maybe Chad the Resurrected Hollow?) Here's where I go looking to read other things besides Bleach forums on the net. Another opponent looks badass, things seem bleak, Ichigo goes down, gets power-up ---*yawn*. I can only hope for Shirosaki and for Ichigo's leaving his chocolate behind.

And the girls. The healers, Nell and Orihime--maybe one of them will do something to get my interest back into this fight. Both have latent powers (remember Nell trying to summon her powers when the Sandcastle monster showed up?) and it would be very wonderful if a girl saved Ichigo's ass somehow. At the moment, I'm not crazy about this passive sideline role the girls have for the fight.

I have wonderful readers. I'm so lucky. I get meaningful concrit and long comments and I appreciate every one. Feedback helps my writing and gives me enthusiasm to write. No, this isn't going to be another plea for people to review more. Years ago, I wore myself out trying to review every story I read (out of some fandom sense of responsibility, I know) , and now I seldom review unless I'm wowed, want to talk with the author about anything and nothing, or a specific request is made for concrit. I don't like to get snapped by self-defensive writers when I review so maybe, maybe, it would be helpful if fic writers wrote in their opening notes whether or not they wanted concrit? I've met some of my best internet friends over discussions about what stinks in our writing ^_^ . Reviews that aren't outright flames but are concrits where one knows a reader hasn't skimmed your fic for the porn are treasures for the author, and stories that ask an audience to read more closely are more fun for me. So maybe if people wrote "concrit appreciated," I might start reviewing more, and more dialogue about writing can open up in comments sections?

I got a lovely long comment from someone last night about an Orihime story I wrote almost two years ago, so I went back to read the story and it was amazing to me how much her character hasn't changed. Two years ago, I was anticipating the same growth in Orihime that I am now. I saw a girl who wasn't always showing her sad face to others and I speculated, with great affection for the character, that Orihime's role in Bleach was to be the optimistic one. Is she still? In this week's chapter, that may be her role--despite how much I want her to pull out Tsubaki, she may be the cheerleader Ichigo needs here. Everyone needs a little support, right?

The story that was on ff.net--


Little Miss Perfect

by debbiechan



Disclaimer:  Kubo Tite, not I, invented the character of Inoue Orihime.  People say he loves her too much; I say Kubo-san’s readers don’t love her enough.

Description: A series of vignettes from Orihime’s life.  She’s the girl we envy.  She’s the goodness we resist. Why? What’s so funny ’bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?  The Bleach manga (not the anime) reveals that Orihime was born to abusive parents, surely the greatest disadvantage to a happy life and a sense of self-worth one can start with, so from where did her optimism come?  And why do magical girls like Orihime exist?

Warnings:  This fic incorporates canon information up to the Arrancar arc, so if you’re not caught up reading the manga and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this story.


“Our parents were… the kind of monsters who would silence a baby’s cries with beatings.”—Inoue Sora, 6:1


Once Upon a Time there was a shabby apartment building in which many tenants had suffered, cried, and died.  Their spirits gathered there. The suicide wanted to find the lost lute that used to comfort him when he played it. The infant who had turned blue in the winter cold kept looking for her mother’s breast, the only warm place she had known, however briefly, in life. An old woman was waiting for someone to return her phone call.

One day one of the apartment’s living residents got a bill in the mail.  She was angry about it and stomped up the stairs only to find that her small daughter had taken off her diaper and pooped all over the living room rug.  The tenant screamed.  She dropped her drink, and its sweet fragrance mingled with the room’s stench.  The glass split into two pieces, one jagged rim and one round bottom. The daughter picked up both pieces and fit them together.  “See, Kassan, fixed!”

“No, no, no Orihime!  Nothing is ever fixed!” screamed the mother.  “Everything is forever ruined!”  And she slapped the glass pieces out of her daughter’s hand, cutting the girl in the process.

The little girl held up her bleeding palm and began to wail.  The mother, seeing what she had done, began to wail too.  The brother, seventeen years old, ran into the room and picked up the daughter.  He took her outside, sat with her on the steps facing the street, pointed to the passing cars and said that when a pink one passed, she could make a wish on it.

The little girl’s cries faded.  Her bare feet were messy with poop, and her dress was splattered with sweet plum wine.  The cut on her hand was slight, and the blood dried quickly as her brother began to sing a song.

Zippy zippy paper wings
Quick and steady flight
Like a needle over water
Hunting flies at night….

The spirits loved it when the boy sang, especially when he sang the “Zippy Zippy” song.  They gathered on the roof of the shabby building and counted cars, waiting for the pink one.

“You want to be her mother?”  The mother cried from the window.  She was sobbing, and her long brown hair was falling out of its combs.  “Take her then!  Be her mother!  You’re not a man, anyway, Sora!  You were never anything but a useless woman around here!  Useless, useless woman!”

Sora picked up the girl and started walking down the street. “Pink!” his sister would exclaim at every passing car, and Sora would correct her and tell her what color the car truly was.  Orihime learned her colors this way.  There was never a pink car, so she didn’t learn that color until the following spring, when the Sakura bloomed.

That spring Sora took his little sister and left the shabby apartment building for good.  The spirits followed them, hesitating at the streetlights, afraid of their freedom.

Zippy zippy paper wings
Quick and steady flight
Like a needle over water
Hunting flies at night….

One by one, the spirits found their way to Heaven.  Sora and Orihime walked very far and began a new life. Hoping that the “Zippy Zippy” song would lure more lost souls, a Shinigami watched over the brother and sister for a while.  Every time he gathered another spirit near the singing boy and smiling girl, a kind and grateful feeling from the Shinigami fell over Sora and Orihime like a blessing.

**

 “My long hair symbolizes my trust in Tatsuki.”--Orihime, 42:10



When Sora died, the Shinigami’s blessing did not.

Wherever there is kindness and gratitude, there is magic.

Orihime was crying in an empty apartment.  Eleven years old, alone with no family, fingering a hairpin over her ear and coming to an understanding.

Your brother was only trying to make you feel better when he bought you these ugly hairpins.  You called them “stupid” and “little girlish,” but he must have known that it wasn’t the hairpins you were mad about. He knew that you were proud of your pretty hair, and so why would you cut it off?  Sora was always a smart guy. Maybe he knew about the envious girls.

Orihime did not remember being hurt by her parents until shortly before Sora died.  That was the day the envious girls came with their scissors.  One pushed Orihime down and stepped on her back. Another called her “Little Miss Perfect.”  The third girl grabbed a fistful of hair and cut it with one quick stroke.  There were flashes of light as metal blades attacked the shiny hair.  Flashes of memory attacked Orihime too--being struck with a shoe, with a fist, with a baby fleece blanket used like a whip. Pieces of red, brown, and gold floated to the pavement, and a girl’s voice taunted, “If you don’t like it, you can fix it in handicrafts class.  Nothing is forever ruined!  Little Miss Perfect can fix it again!”

Yes I can.

Orihime had come to an understanding with herself.

Everything is going to be fixed.

Orihime’s tears dried.  A hand over each ear, she turned her face to her dead brother’s shrine and spoke to the portrait there: “I’m sorry I said that they were ugly hairpins, Onii-chan.  I was still upset about my hair being gone, and I didn’t want you to know what happened with those girls.  But everything’s alright now.  My hair will grow back, and I don’t think these hairpins are ugly anymore.  I think they’re beautiful, beautiful.”

Things weren’t so bad.  Orihime went to the refrigerator and counted her blessings.  One, two, three, four foil wrappings.  Onii-chan was gone, but there were still leftovers from dinners he had prepared days ago.  Orihime mixed the leftovers all together in one bowl and felt full of love.  There was that girl, Tatsuki, who was going to walk her home from school and protect her--another blessing! For some reason she could not explain, Orihime felt very protected.  She was all alone, but she felt safe.

**

“We’ve always been close to you… Our job is to protect you; we are your power.”--Shun Shun Rikka, 43:3

When Orihime’s reiatsu flew out of the snowflake-shaped ends of her hairpins, manifested into six separate beings, and insisted that they were parts of herself, Orihime could not see how Hinagiku, a rather prissy little man, was part of herself at all.  Baigon, who was round and stony-faced, patient and firm, she could understand--even if the little fairy was male.  Tsubaki was another guy fairy, but Orihime could easily see herself in him. Oi, what a temper!  Orihime could see herself shooting off a Tsubaki if very provoked.  He was like angry words or a string of curses.  If aimed just right, he could split an opponent in two.

The female parts of her power were obviously Orihime. Orihime sometimes pretended to be happy when she wasn’t, and that explained Lily.  Lily, one of the shield-making trio of fairies, was flashy and fun and wore golden goggles.  Pretending to be happy sometimes helped Orihime get happy, so Orihime could see how this power had protected her in the past from melancholy and despair.

The healing fairies, Ayame and Shuno, were the girliest, the ones who “fixed” everything, and who reached out with sympathy and enthusiasm to the world.  Shuno was bird-like, with twiggy bird feet, and she liked to talk, talk, talk. Ayame was tinier and bug-like, maybe a part of Orihime that was persistent and hopeful, always looking for the pink car?

But the prissy little man fairy? Hinagiku had a wrinkled face, and when he crossed his arms and looked gloomy, Orihime was a little scared of him. 

Maybe when I am an old woman, I will look like that? Like a cross old man?

“Of course you know what a metaphor is,” Hinagiku said to her. “You make top grades in literature class.”

“I’m sorry,” Orihime said.  “I really don’t remember. Maybe I learned it for a test and forgot.”

“Hmpf!”  Hinagiku un-crossed his arms and began to fly slow circles around Orihime’s head.  “If you forgot, then why do I remember?  Aren’t you supposed to be good at science too?  Then tell me this, do you know the purpose of your angular goldenrod oblongata?”

“Huh?”

“Yes you do.  It’s a part of your brain.  You read about it in a science magazine once.  Right behind your left ear, there’s a tiny spot responsible for your understanding symbolism in literature.  Now, tell me, what does this phrase mean: all that glitters is not gold?”

“Um, money isn’t important?”

“There you go!”  Hinagiku held up a triumphant finger.  “You understood a metaphor!  Now, if the angular goldenrod oblongata of your brain was damaged--say, you had fallen on your head and broken it, then you would answer something along the lines of shiny things come in all colors.  Your response would be very literal.”

“I don’t understand at all.”

“Yes you do.  That’s the whole point.  You understand things very well.  People think you don’t because you babble a lot like Shuno, but never you mind them! All the world is a poem full of metaphors, and you understand all the meanings behind what people say.”

And with that, Hinagiku dissolved into a blue spark of light and retreated to the hairpin above Orihime’s left ear.

**

Where there is kindness and gratitude, there is magic, but wherever there is magic, there is also failure and doubt.

Orihime spent hours and hours by the river trying to get red dragonflies to light on her finger.  How did Onii-chan do it?  What was it about him that made the dragonflies stop zipping around to rest on his outstretched arm?  Patience?  Will?  Faith?

Orihime wanted to believe that her brother was perfect, but after having seen him transformed into a Hollow, she knew that he wasn’t.  He had been, in life as well as in death, an ordinary soul and one vulnerable to all the frailties of love.

Onii-chan had been too attached to his sister, too single-minded to let go of his soul’s watching over her.

Orihime threw her head back on the riverbank grasses, smelled the muggy sweet scent of spring dying into summer.  Camellia petals were rotting.  The nights were hotter.  Orihime could still remember, with perfect clarity, the sound of Sora’s voice as he sang the song about the dragonfly.

Zippy zippy paper wings
Quick and steady flight
Like a needle over water
Hunting flies at night….

It still bothered Orihime that some people thought she was Little Miss Perfect.  Good grades, gorgeous hair, big breasts (Some people have weird criteria for perfect!). Oh, and there was that niceness people accused her of having. When picking sides for soccer one afternoon, a girl had said “Inoue-san isn’t a bad player, but she’s not competitive.  She’s too nice.

Orihime fought her baser impulses all the time, just like everyone else.  Didn’t she?  When people were mean, she didn’t yell at them.  When a teacher was boring, she sat up in her chair and pretended to be interested because slumping to sleep on the desk would be rude.

I’m not Little Miss Perfect at all.  There are LOTS of things wrong with me. Sometimes Orihime wondered if she was too fond of Kurosaki Ichigo.  After all, she talked about him all the time, and Tatsuki was really getting bored of it.

“Bah!”  Orihime let out a short exhalation of air that would certainly spook the dragonflies.  “Come here, you little shy bugs!  You want to be with me, you have to be with me!  I’m perfect!  I am the perfect place for you to land and spend a summer’s evening!”

But not even the mosquitoes would alight on Orihime that night.

**

“Reversing time? Spatial manipulation? Whatever it is, it’s not healing. You’re very unique, aren’t you, woman?”—Ulquiorra, 192:9

Because Orihime’s powers involved the manipulation of time and space, she had a tiny peek into the future.  Not much--just a tiny peek.  She called it her “intuition” and half the time she was dead wrong.  Still, she was not as consistently off-track as Vice Captain Yachiru’s sense of direction.

Orihime’s intuition about Kurosaki-kun had been off the mark.  After going to Soul Society and rescuing Rukia, the boy should have been fixed.  But no, he was sad again, and there was nothing Orihime could do.  Her arms yearned to make busy, to chop up leeks and potatoes and make the perfect meal for him.  Her fairies squirmed in their infinite hairpin space and were silent about the matter.

Ishida-kun’s sadness troubled Orihime equally, although here she had no clue as to what would fix that boy’s mournful expression.  Orihime knew that the Quincy, his people, had been brutally extinguished by the Shinigami many years ago, but how in the world could Orihime address a grief so old and primal?  Sometimes she had a dream about Ishida’s head lying in her lap. She was wearing a pink gauzy skirt. It was drowsy summertime, and Ishida was telling her that the dragonfly on the water was like a Shinigami hunting souls.

Like a needle over water
Hunting flies at night….

“Well, that’s one interpretation,” said Hinagiku with a haughty sniff.

Orihime tried to trust her intuition.  She had foreseen the massacre of Tatsuki’s martial arts class but only by a minute or so.  The picture of all the students lying in white uniforms on the ground had flashed in her mind as she and Sado ran towards the incredible reiatsu that was the Arrancar.  Orihime had thought at the time that the image was just one born of worry and fear, but why had it been of karate students?  She didn’t even know that Tatsuki’s class was at the scene.

Orihime had a dream about Kurosaki-kun looking like a Hollow.  She wished for that one not to be prophetic.

The visions Orihime trusted the most were the happy ones--it didn’t matter if they were real or not.  She wanted to believe that she could make the future a happy one just by imagining it to be happy.  Tatsuki would win at Nationals next year.  Tatsuki standing in a glow of white light, a medal flashing on her chest.  Sado-kun finding his purpose and standing tall in front of rows and rows of little children saved from danger by his mighty arm. Kurosaki-kun laughing, not a care in the world, his plushie lion friend on his shoulder (Was the plushie wearing a super-hero cape?).  Ishida-kun making a right decision--those long white fingers that so fastidiously held down a hem while making stitches would draw back an arrow and….

Orihime frowned over her morning cup of tea.  She stopped chewing her toast, the delicious mustard and jam taste lingering on her tongue. She had a vision of herself in a long white dress, looking amazingly like a fairy princess.  Music was tinkling in the far distance. Koto strings and sweet bells?

Zippy zippy paper wings
Quick and steady flight…

The “zippy” song sometimes made her think of zippers, and the instant she thought zippers, she felt the white dress unzipping down the length of her spine and falling away to reveal….

Her purpose? 

The words came to her like a memory.  They were the naked truth: To have faith when his is lost.

“Hinagiku,” she said to the empty room while starting to chew her toast again. “What do you think of this?  Maybe my purpose in life is to have faith when everyone else has lost his? It makes me look dumb to believe in impossible things, but you’re an impossible thing, aren’t you, little guy?  If I don’t believe in you, then no one else will.  I just had a vision, I think.  Or did I just interpret a metaphor?  Oh, I don’t know, I’m so mixed up.”

“Yes, dear, you are very mixed up,” said Hinagiku in her head. “And so is the poem that is the whole world.”

Orihime was satisfied.  She didn’t understand everything, but here, in the morning quiet before school, with one arm in a cast and the other holding up a cup of tea, she was enjoying a vision of herself in a white dress. The line came to her again, as easily as taking a sip of tea.  My purpose is to have faith when yours is lost.

That purpose was hardly perfect but it was hers.


END

Funny how one can think a story is so not right and come back to it months later and see what was right. I didn't have Hime speaking voice down yet when I wrote this, and I was all wrong about the time-reversal thing, but this ending reminded me of a time when Orihime knew her purpose. She doesn't now. And that makes me sad.

Also, LOL, I used to have the Ms Perfect issue two years ago and now there are pockets of fandom that think I'm the most horrible person (I had to change an email address recently to shake off some annoying harrassers). I wish, although this is so impossible, that I could always handle things with Orihime's kindness and restraint. I didn't see her as a weakling at all when the manga began--she seemed to assert herself in a goofy way that wasn't always respected and often maligned but she didn't care. She knew who she was.

Who's Hime now? I'm waiting, Kubo-sensei. This is supposed to be an important arc for her, and so far we've seen my lovely girl standing like a ghost princess in a white dress for chapters and chapters. She's all mythological. She's not a person, it seems. When she stood at Ichigo's window in her fall school uniform and blabbered about ice cream, she was a real girl and my heart broke for her. In this arc, my heart has been with those struggling to save her.


A/N: I wrote the little lyric Sora sings about the dragonfly, but this whole fic was written while listening to Japanese lullabies on a cd performed by Akiko Shimada and Elizabeth Falconer.  One of the songs was called “Aka Tombo/Red Dragonfly.”  It suited my sad and sweet mood when thinking about Orihime.  I still don’t understand why she is a much maligned character in the Bleach fandom.
 
Tags: bleach manga, little miss perfect, orihime, reviews, writing
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