Ishida/Orihime by Zauberer. Future!fic.

Copyright Kubo Tite, not me.

grass on your hair

There was park near the school. Small and with unattended grass (wildflowers growing freely everywhere), withering bushes and paint-cracked benches. It was so near the school that, in summer, students came at break time and lay down and closed their eyes, the world all tender breeze and kind sun-warmth.

Sometimes students come here in their break time.

Not today, though.

Today Ishida was alone.

Resting on naked grass, his senses lulled by the weather and the quietness of the place. School was pitiless and noisy; he felt he had no room to breathe there, with so many painful memories just waiting around the corner.

He wasn´t able to adjust to it all again as quickly as everybody expected him to.

Reality was out of balance, for Ishida. His heart and mind, even his body, felt somewhere else, somewhere far.

This small park, this solitude, this calm, were the only escape (however short, a escape still), the only refuge someone like him could afford.

From behind him a couple of hands grabbed his head, startling him. He arched to see who it was, with the world upside-down.

"Inoue-san!"

She put his head on her lap, between her knees. Ishida blushed a bit, feeling the warmth of her legs, the fabric of her skirt underneath him.

"You should be careful if you rest on the grass like that," Orihime told him, cheerfully worried. "Who knows what can get in your hair? Dirt, flowers, dog poo or insect. It would be horrible if a spider got there and then put its eggs on your head and…"

"Okay," he cut her, feeling he´d never hear the end of it, otherwise. He didn´t want to know what Orihime´s vivid imagination was going to do to his hair next.

Orihime put her hands to both his sides and brushed her fingers against his neck. Ishida shivered and froze and for him everything was blurry and out of balance for a moment.

Until he could breathe again.

"Why didn´t you have lunch with us?"

This time there was real worry in her voice, and maybe the faintest trace of disappointment, but Ishida did not detect it. He was surprised they had noticed his absence at all.

"It´s too hard, yet. Seeing you all… Kurosaki, Chad…you. It´s too soon."

"Do you miss Kuchiki-san?"

"No," he protested, thinking Orihime could have implied something between Rukia and him. But Orihime didn´t mean that, he realized. Then softer: "No. It´s not like I know her that well. I´m glad things have turned out just fine for her. And Soul Society is her home, it´s only natural she decided to stay. She was lucky."

"We were all lucky."

He shifted uncomfortably.

"Well, Inoue-san, not that lucky, apparently. I am no longer a Quincy."

There was bitterness in his voice; a bitterness Orihime knew was directed at her because there was no one else around. Because Ishida didn´t have anyone. She could feel the weight of all these years alone, all the bitterness, the sadness, the anger and the only one to snap at was himself.

Orihime placed her index on Ishida´s nose.

"Idiot," she said. "You will always be a Quincy."

And she smiled at him.

Sometimes, if he concentrated hard enough, Ishida could almost forget why he loved Orihime so much. But then she would say something stupid, or cute, or just plain impossible (Ishida never believed any of the impossible things Orihime used to say and do, but he couldn´t live without them anyway) and it all came back, not only full-force but doubled (love, like bets, could be doubled, and Ishida always lost and betted again).

Anytime he thought he was fine Orihime would catch him off-guard.

(Ishida wondered how many times he would fall in love with her before he could stop loving her.)

He sighed and let it go, looking up at the sky, light sloping to avoid the wayward clouds (it was a windy day, after all, Ishida´s hands were cold); in days like this your eyes hurt from so much brightness, but it was the good sort of hurt, because the world seemed clearer, all things in focus.

"Ishida-kun. There is favour I want to ask."

Ishida didn´t move, didn´t reply, just muttered some sort of affirmative noise. The warm sunlight and Orishime´s lap made him so comfortable (like he belonged, like he could finally let go) that he felt almost sleepy.

"There is a tear on my favourite dress, the blue one…"

"…With orange flowers," Ishida finished her sentence, eyes closed.

Orihime looked down at him, eyes full of sudden and bright fondness (her eyes shimmered, Ishida reflected in them), pleasantly surprised.

"Ishida-kun! You remember."

He opened his eyes and turned his face, his cheek now on her knee, looking away, somewhere in the distance, somewhere far and wonderful and unattainable.

"I remember everything," he said, very low, so she wouldn´t hear him.

But she did.

Her fingers fidgeted with dark strands of his hair, fingertips travelling the lines of his forehead.

"I was wondering if you could fix it."

"Of course."

"You sew so well," she declared, voice full of mirth and amazement.

He closed his eyes again. Orihime thought he looked oddly attractive like that. As if nothing could touch him, could hurt him. Because Ishida´s eyes betrayed his frailty.

Orihime decided she liked seeing his eyes, anyway.

"I was wondering… I like that dress so much. I´d like to wear it in a date. With you, Ishida-kun."

"Of course," Ishida replied mechanically.

Then he realized.

"What?!"

Orihime´s expression was full of happiness and malice. Ishida got up and on his knees, facing her.

"But…"

He couldn´t quite think of something to say. Except that there had to be a mistake.

"But…"

"But what, Ishida-kun?" She asked innocently. So innocently that it was obvious she was pretending.

"You like Kurosaki!"

To that Orihime just smiled and put her hands on Ishida´s cheeks. Then she drew his head to her lap again, until Ishida complied and rested upon her legs again, his hands on her bare knees, feeling the sharp bones underneath.

"Okay, then," he finally said.

They didn´t talk anymore during what was left of that break time.

But her hands never stopped caressing his hair either.