Interlude 1 - Ishida/Orihime

Warning: Slight spoilers for episodes 28 and 29

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or the characters contained within the story.

Author's Note: This is just a little interlude I imagined happening between Ishida and Orihime after their battle with Jiroubou in episode 29, so this would take place immediately afterward. Some OOC'ness I'm sure will be here, seeing as this a first Bleach fic for me.

The two of them were running away from the scene of the battle, hand in hand and a bit out of breath.

They had won, at least. Or rather, Ishida had won their battle against the death god who called himself a master of projectile weaponry. Much to her dismay, Orihime had only been a hindrance. Her half-hearted attempt at an attack had only managed in getting one of her faithful spirit fairies injured.

As she looked at the tall and confidant-looking young man next to her, Orihime made a silent vow to herself that she would be stronger next time. Certainly, she didn't want Ishida-kun to become distracted because of her. If he became distracted because he felt the need to protect her, then he could get hurt. Orihime didn't think that she could bear to see another one of her friends hurt because she was afraid to use her own abilities.

No. He shouldn't have to protect her. If anything, she should have been the one to protect him. Otherwise, why would she have been gifted with shield magic of all things?

Yes, she alone of all of them had protective and healing magic, along with offensive magic. All of which she needed to be able to use without a second thought, because while she watched Ishida battle, it had occurred to her that these death gods truly meant to kill them.

"C'mon, Inoue-san, we need to hurry." Ishida said as he grasped her hand firmly in his. He pulled her along the side of the wall and led her down the passageway as quietly as possible, seeking refuge from the army of shinigami searching for them.

She admired how calm he was and the way that Ishida took immediate control of the situation. In contrast, she was a nervous wreck.

Orihime brought a hand up, worriedly fingering the broken petal of her flower shaped hair pin.

'Poor Tsubaki-kun,' She thought.

He had been injured because she had not been able to put any intent to harm, much less kill, into her attack against the shinigami, Jiroubou and despite using Ayame and Shun'ou's power she had been unable to heal the ostentatious male fairy.

Ishida pulled her into what appeared to be an empty storage room, and closed the door behind them.

"There. I can't sense any strong shinigami in the immediate vicinity, so we have some time to catch our breath. Did you want to take another look at your fairy?" Ishida asked of the petite, auburn haired girl who was firmly holding his hand in a subconscious attempt to draw strength from him.

His brow furrowed a bit when a single tear fell from Orihime's right eye at the mention of her fairy. The girl was obviously distressed, and that put him at a complete loss.

Hollows, he could handle. Mouthy Death Gods who boasted about skills they didn't have, he could handle.

But when it came to emotional teenage girls, Ishida was as clueless as they came.

He cleared his throat and raised one hand to pat her shoulder awkwardly.

"Uh… there there. It's not your fault, Inoue-san." He said flatly.

It didn't appear to work; because all of a sudden Orihime threw herself at him and blew her nose on the gleaming white fabric of the front his cape.

Ugh. That was his last spare to boot!

Ishida was at a total loss as Orihime continued to sob against his chest. He didn't know how to comfort her at all, but knew that if he didn't calm her down soon, her loud sobbing was going to attract attention. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a very awkward hug.

That wasn't a good idea either, because he suddenly became too aware of her closeness - mostly due to her ample breasts pressing just so against him. Suddenly, his face was as flushed as hers and he abruptly pushed her away from him when he felt the first twinge of heat in his groin.

"Please, quiet down Inoue-san." He said bitingly, desperately trying to regain his composure and unaware of how his tone affected the sensitive girl next to him.

Orihime was taken off-guard at being thrust away so abruptly and attempted to stifle a sob, but it came out anyway despite her best efforts. Confused, she cast a hurt look up at Ishida, causing the archer's firm expression to waver slightly under the brunt of it.

"Ah, so sorry, Ishida-kun," She whispered, her long lashes drooping as she closed her eyes in shame. "I messed up again, didn't I?"

Ishida's eyes widened momentarily at the tone of Orihime's voice. She sounded so… defeated, and she was trying desperately to keep from brushing up against him - which was difficult, considering that there wasn't much space for them in the storage room he had pulled them into, since the room was filled from wall to wall with boxes and cleaning supplies. Never the less, she was positioning herself uncomfortably next to a large stack of boxes in order to make him feel more comfortable. She must think that he was disgusted by her proximity. No wonder she felt that way, considering how callously he had thrust her from him while she had been vulnerable. His master was probably turning over in his grave at his lack of chivalry.

'Good going, Uryuu. You really are an idiot.' He thought, mentally berating himself. Outwardly though, his expression remained as calm and aloof as ever, showing no evidence of his inner turmoil. He might be one hell of an archer and a handcrafter, but he had the social skills of a rock.

With a sigh, he leaned against the wall next to the door, and pulled Orihime down next to him. This way he could comfort her without getting into dangerous territory. Of course, she turned to look at him with full and pouty lips, and he had to reassess that danger.

"No, you didn't Inoue-san. It is I who should be apologizing to you. I should not have pushed you away so abruptly, but I am extremely inept at dealing with other people. I was merely trying to reassure you that it was not your fault that Tsubaki-san was injured. It was the first time you've been up against an actual shinigami, after all. Tsubaki will heal soon, I'm sure of it. And I know that you will certainly use him correctly the next time. Orihime, none of us would have made it here if it weren't for you and your shield - remember that."

The tremulous smile that broke through the pout was well worth the effort he'd put into his assurance. "Arigatou, Ishida-kun, you're such a good friend." Orihime replied as relief flooded through her and without thinking flung her arms around Ishida once more in order to show her appreciation.

Yes, Inoue Orihime was definitely dangerous. Ishida's voice suddenly climbed a whole octave in pitch in response to the feel of her abundant curves against him once more.

"Uh… thank you, Inoue-san." He said. She smiled at him, and he knew he was in serious trouble. His eyes started wandering around the room desperately, looking for refuge from the other 'refugee', when he distinctly sensed an immense amount of spirit energy approaching.

Orihime was opening her mouth to say something, and he needed her to keep quiet, so he did the first thing that came to mind.

He kissed her.

In retrospect, it probably would have been a better idea to clamp his hand against her mouth, because now he really had a problem.

He kept their lips pressed together, making sure to keep his lips closed for modesty's sake, until he felt the shinigami pass by and he was certain there was no more danger of being discovered. He then pulled back in some fear of what her reaction would be only to widen his eyes in disbelief as she pulled him closer to her and pressed their lips together again.

A part of him wanted to shut down completely and enjoy this - it wasn't often that beautiful girls voluntarily pressed their lips against his, given his status as a social recluse. In fact, counting this incident would make it a grand total of once. Unfortunately, that realization broke him out of his pleasant daydream and he gently pushed her away. After all, she probably kissed him back for the same reason he had kissed her - she sensed the shinigami, and wanted to keep her quiet. Now that the danger was gone, it would be ungentlemanly for him to take advantage of what could only be an act of desperation on her part, for she couldn't actually be interested in him in that way. Not when it was so very apparent that she had eyes for Kurosaki.

For a moment, he hated Ichigo just a little bit more than normal. Ishida cleared his throat and gently pushed his glasses up a little further on the bridge of his nose.

"It is okay, Inoue-san." He said. There was a note of sadness in his voice, and he cleared his throat before speaking again in an attempt to hide it.. "The shinigami has passed, so you don't have to do… that anymore.

He was fairly sure that his cheeks were as red as a cherry, and he was thankful that the lighting in the storage room was so bad that she probably couldn't see it.

Orihime blinked owlishly. She didn't quite know what had come over her to make her be so forward like that. Of course, Ishida-kun had only kissed her to keep her from revealing their hiding spot. There was no other reason, she realized. But why had she kissed him once the danger had passed? She didn't know; it had just seemed like the right thing to do. But she had to admit the feel of his lips on hers had been extremely pleasant.

So why did he pull away from her, skittish all of a sudden?

It left her confused, and admittedly a bit hurt. She glanced at his face in an attempt to read what he was thinking, but Ishida-kun was doing everything in his power to avoid making eye contact with her. At the moment he was studying a box on the other side of the room intently, as if it contained the answers to life itself.

After a moment, she decided to take the direct approach.

"Ishida-kun? Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me? Because I'm sorry if I did, you know. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, because when you're uncomfortable that makes me uncomfortable and we are in such a small space that if we both become uncomfortable, one of is probably going to sweat from the stress that accompanies being uncomfortable, and then if one of us starts to sweat then that person will probably start to smell bad and I don't want to smell bad and if that were to happen we'd have to open the door and then one of the shinigami might find us anyway and - hey are you hungry? Because if you are, I have a bag of homemade chocolate covered barbeque potato chips in my bag, and I think you should eat something because if you eat something than you won't be uncomfortable anymore and at least one of us wont smell bad due to sweat, and I'm babbling now, aren't I? Tatsuki-kun says that I babble a lot when I'm nervous, I don't mean to babble but-"

Ishida's gaze gradually strayed from the tenuously stacked boxes just to the right of them as Orihime continued to speak. His eyes moved to once again take in his companion as she continued to babble on and didn't look as though she would be winding down any time soon. She was fidgeting with the fabric of her shirt while she spoke. Her cheeks were flushed, her lips were pursed, and her brow was furrowed just a tiny bit in concern.

He thought she was beautiful.

He was vaguely aware that she was still talking, and it amazed him. She didn't even pause to take a breath. Unbidden, his eyes fell of their own accord to her chest - purely for curiosity's sake, and only because he couldn't understand how her lungs could possibly have that much capacity - and he very quickly forced himself to look up again, lest she think him a hentai. Just like any normal fifteen year old male, he couldn't help but to look at her ample breasts from time to time. But he certainly didn't want her to catch him doing it.

Unbelievably, she was still babbling. So, once again he was forced to cut her off with a kiss - except that this time, there was no shinigami outside the door that he could use for an excuse.

Orihime gasped as the pleasant sensation of Ishida's mouth taking possession of hers once again cut her off mid-babble. His lips was warm and sweet, she thought, as they pressed more firmly against hers and she couldn't help but sigh as she gave in to the kiss and enjoyed all the lovely feelings his kiss was awakening within her. Not a single thought of protest entered her mind as she raised her arms and wrapped them around Ishida's neck, her fingers weaving through his hair as she scooted closer to him, lips parting in a silent invitation for the kiss to be deepened.

He couldn't believe she was actually responding to him. With an almost inaudible groan, he pulled her against him and slowly delved his tongue inside of her mouth while his left hand combed through her long hair and cradled her head right behind her neck. She met his tongue with her own almost immediately, setting his blood on fire and his head spinning. This time, when he finally broke away from the kiss due to lack of oxygen, he kept his hands right where they were.

Ishida leaned his forehead up against Orihime's and noticed she was breathing heavy as well. He was thrilled that she had kissed him back, but was dumbfounded as to why she would. Didn't she have a thing for Ichigo? He grimaced at the thought.

He noticed that she was looking at his lips intensely, and he groaned. He wanted to kiss her again, but first, he had to be sure that she wasn't seeing him when he kissed her. After all, he felt like he was always competing with Ichigo on so many levels. He didn't know if he could handle it if he had to compete with him for Orihime as well.

"Inoue-san? I… I need to ask. What is your relationship with Kurosaki-san?" Ishida eventually asked in a quiet voice, after schooling his face into a neutral expression. Inside, he was trembling as he anxiously awaited her response.

"Ano," Orihime replied, drawing back a bit, "Well, you see, I used to think that I liked Kurosaki-kun, but then Kuchiki-san came and Kurosaki-kun started liking her and I like Kuchiki-san, too, just not in the same way that Kurosaki-kun likes Kuchiki-san. But then, I realized that maybe I don't like Kurosaki-kun in the way that I thought because recently, he's become a bit scary, don't you think? I mean, Kurosaki-kun's always been scary, but he seems even more so now. I wonder if it has anything to do with the shinigami thing? But anyway, you're not scary. You're Ishida-kun - quiet, reserved, tall, self confident and you can sew better than I can, and I just love your glasses and… I'm not answering your question, am I? Gosh, I've already gone off and started babbling again!"

'She loves my glasses?'

Bemused, Ishida stared at the baffling girl while his mind rapidly sorted out the facts that she presented in her own little language - 'Hime-speak', he mentally dubbed. It took a few moments, but eventually he translated her 'Hime-speak' into something resembling Japanese.

First, Orihime didn't like Ichigo - she thought he was scary. That was understandable - after the Menos Grande incident, Ishida was inclined to believe the same thing.

Second, Orihime believed that Ichigo had a thing for Rukia. Well, duh. That was a given. Weren't they all here risking their very lives so that they could free Kuchiki-san? And Ishida didn't quite buy Ichigo's reasoning for initiating this little jaunt that could quite possibly get one or all of them killed. Ichigo's 'I owe her' just didn't sound as convincing to him as the underlying sentiment: 'I love her.'

Third, she… she liked him. Him - not Ichigo. She really and truly liked him, and however unbelievable he found that fact, it was the one clear sentiment that came through in the whole of Orihime's babble fest. Better still, Orihime liked the things about him that most people found… uncomfortable. She saw his aloofness as self confidence, and instead of seeing a social outcast who was reluctant to engage socially with his peers, she saw someone who was quiet and reserved. Plus, she liked the fact that he could sew - something that he had been teased about for most of his life. But what really got to him was her comment about his glasses.

Ishida smiled at her - an honest smile that if anyone else were to see it, they'd probably die from shock. He pulled her against him tenderly, and tried not to sigh in contentment when she melted into his embrace and laid her head against his chest. His right hand, seemingly of its own accord, rose to play with the silky soft strands of her hair. Feeling like the luckiest guy in the world, he dipped his head and placed a small kiss against her forehead.

"Inoue-san… do you want to know what I like about you?"

Her nod was enthusiastic in response to his question. And w hen she looked at him, Orihime's eyes held a happy gleam in them. "Hai! I would love to hear what Ishida-kun thinks about me." She replied cheerily.

The hand that was tangled in the back of her hair moved forward to lightly brush against one of the flower shaped hairpins that she wore. Long, nimble fingers idly traced the silver petals. He winced slightly when he brushed over the petal that was slightly bent, knowing he could have prevented it if he had acted sooner, and silently resolved to protect her at all costs.

Ishida pushed her long, curtain of hair over her shoulder and leaned in so that his lips were lightly brushing against the soft skin of her neck when he spoke.

"I like… your smile," Ishida said as he placed a small kiss against her pulse point. "Your laugh." He trailed his lips up to the underside of her jaw. "The way you talk." A delicate, soft kiss was placed against her lips. "And the way you see the world around you… Orihime." He punctuated his words with a soft kiss to each of her eyelids, before pulling back to gauge her response.

For all of two minutes, Orihime didn't respond. She simply sat there, looking at him with this blank sort of expression on her face and Ishida began to grow nervous, thinking perhaps he'd just done and said the stupidest thing ever.

That is until she jumped him.

With a squeal that could only be described as one of joy, Orihime threw herself into his arms, her own going around his neck and her momentum enough to topple them both over fully onto the floor. Within the blink of an eye Ishida found himself having gone from sitting upright on a warehouse floor to lying on said floor with an obviously happy and very appreciative Orihime sprawled on top of him.

His glasses were askew, and he was winded by Orihime's sudden movement, but he didn't care about those things. Not when he had the girl he desired looming closer and closer. Or at least, he thought she was looming closer. It was hard to tell. Without his glasses on correctly, Orihime was just a blur on top of him. He freed one hand from where she had it pinned underneath her and quickly fixed his glasses. He immediately wished he had not, since the way she was leaning over him afforded Ishida a very in depth view of her amazing cleavage, and he swallowed the lump that appeared in his throat as a wave of heat washed through his body.

She leaned over and kissed him with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. Which, for Orihime, was quite a bit.

This didn't help Ishida's predicament at all, and when he inevitably felt himself react physically to her proximity, her scent, her appearance, and her kiss, he felt a little trapped. Embarrassed, he broke the kiss off and apologized sheepishly. After all, there was no way that Orihime would not recognize what was suddenly pressing against the inside of her thigh.

And she didn't. In fact, she made him aware that she was aware by pressing her hips more firmly against his. She shifted, pushing the upper portion of her body off of him so that she was almost straddling him. She looked down and smiled. "There's no need to apologize, Ishida-kun. I think it's sweet that you like me this much." She giggled, her cheeks turning pink. She rocked back a bit, mainly to get more comfortable, but only wound up in making them both gasp as pleasurable electric sparks jolted their bodies.

Ishida groaned, and in an uncharacteristically bold move, leaned forward to capture her earlobe between his teeth. He was vaguely aware of a powerful spirit energy approaching, but that fact did not register right away since all of his senses were completely filled with Orihime. One traitorous hand reached up to gently massage one of her breasts through the fabric of her shirt. The soft globe was pliant, warm, and so deliciously large that he couldn't get his hand completely around it. By the time his brain caught up with his hand and informed him that he was on dangerous grounds, his fingers had already grazed against a nipple. When he tried to pull his hand away, Orihime growled and pulled it back.

Not wanting to lose the pleasing sensation of Ishida's hand cupping her breast, Orihime made sure that it stayed put when he went to withdraw it. She felt him pause, but with her other hand securely entangled in his hair, holding him in place, it wasn't long before his lips began to tease her earlobe again. She shivered when he slipped the tip of his tongue into the shell of her ear, making a sensuous swipe before moving further down the column of her neck. All the while, his hand was still trapped under her own and only when he finally began to squeeze and mold the cloth covered globe did she remove her hand.

"Orihime…"

Ishida said her name in a breathy whisper, before capturing her lips again. This was… this was beyond anything that he had ever anticipated, and his hands were shaking. A part of him just wanted to whisk her away from all of this to someplace safe, someplace special. Someplace where he could spend the whole day just holding her against him instead of worrying about powerful shinigami that were rapidly approaching.

Wait a minute.

Shinigami…

Ishida shot straight up as finally the knowledge that they would soon be in danger if they remained in their present location managed to break through his lust fogged brain. Orihime looked at him questioningly, and opened her mouth as if to ask a question, but Ishida merely silenced her - this time with a soft finger placed against her lips. She nodded in understanding; however she grimaced as she did so, and Ishida could not help but to grin at the look of disappointment that rolled across her face for a moment.

Orihime tried to remain quiet and still but she couldn't ignore the mischievous voice in the back of her mind that urged her to part her lips slightly. She obeyed, allowing Ishida's finger to slip in between them and she reacted by sucking it further in and allowing her tongue to twirl around it, much like she would a seaweed flavored lollipop.

Ishida groaned slightly, and withdrew his finger. Orihime smirked at him briefly, and then schooled her expression into one of complete naive innocence. His eyes narrowed at her before he grinned. It appeared that Orihime had a naughty and playful side. Well, that was definitely something he wanted to explore with her... later. Right now, they needed to find a way to better integrate with the shinigami. Hiding from them was only a temporary solution at best, and the powerful one approaching them would be able to detect their spirit energy no matter where they were.

Quietly, he stood and grabbed Orihime's hand.

"We need to find a better way to hide from them." He whispered, hoping that she would come up with an idea, seeing as he was drawing a complete blank. Actually, his head was still spinning from their encounter and he really couldn't think straight.

"Ah, I know!" Orihime exclaimed, her eyes alight with achievement as she gripped Ishida's hand and pulled him with her. Together they paused at the entrance of the warehouse to make sure the coast was clear. "Come on, Ishida-kun," Orihime whispered as she tugged him gently along. "I have an idea…"

End Interlude