Summary: One-shot ficlet for 31(underscore)days at livejournal(dot)com. Second time writing Bleach, first time writing both Ichigo and Orihime. Pairing: You can look at this as Ichigo/Orihime or as gen. It works both ways.

(Theme- september 2; cat)

It is pretty much common knowledge throughout Karakura High school that Inoue Orihime is rather clumsy. Perverts of the school often joke that it's all the "extra weight" she carries which causes her to tumble over at random intervals of class time, sometimes taking a fellow pupil or a chair down with her.

Most times in physical education, small pale brown or mauve bruises are seen dappled across her calf muscles. She is recognized in the school's sewing club more for pricking her fingertips during embroidery rather than her skills at the task, and on occasion she promptly forgets she is indeed solid and can not walk through walls.

Some people simply think her for a ditz and are easily exasperated by her.. well, by her being her. But there are those who are used to it, and who find those things just an every day thing now.

But when Orihime walks through the doors of class 1-3 one regular day, Kurosaki Ichigo notices some hardly regular marks on her arms.

Fresh gashes and cuts are scattered all along the bottoms of her forearms, and there are even a few lacerations on the flip side. They don't look too serious, but it wouldn't have been like Ichigo to let something like this go that easily.

"Inoue," he says, abruptly, sharply, with a tone that leaves no room for debate and she understands what he is addressing without it even being directly addressed.

"Kurosaki-kun, oh!" she feigns surprise. "I'm fine, I'm fine! Please don't worry. They're only some scratches I got a while ago." She waves a hand half-heartedly, only to have it grasped in his own strong and tanned one. He pulls her arm towards him and turns it, inspecting it. Orihime makes a quiet comment on how Ichigo looks like his father at the clinic when he does it.

"What did you do?" he asks, pretending he didn't hear her remark. She remains silent for a moment, but then says, "A cat."

"..a cat."

"Mmhm, last night," she nods, and when he continues to quirk that brow of his (albeit rather patiently), she decides she should explain.

"I was walking home from a late night of grocery shopping-- I had to make a small run to the store for my peanut butter and salami sandwiches, because I had run out of bread from when I went with Tatsuki-chan to feed the ducks at the park. But see, there were some massive ducks there! Each one ate a whole loaf! But I had only thought to bring one so the big alpha-duck challenged another from a neighboring flock for a mecha-pilot battle and everybody was kung-foo fighting-- Oh, but, um." Orihime stops with her finger on her bottom lip, catching herself rambling, half upset Ichigo hadn't stopped her and partly bemused by it.

But Ichigo is just watching her, his eyes kind and expectant and betraying his normal school expression, and he even leans back against a desk behind him, crossing his arms over his chest as if to assure her that he's not going to be leaving.

"So, uh. Last night while I was walking home I saw this cat running, and it was being chased by an alligator-- or at least I think it was an alligator. It might have been a--"


"No, actually I was going to say a peacock, but you might be right, Kurosaki-kun! Anyway.." She continues her story and Ichigo is patient.

"...and so then I super-saiyan-punched it to the moon with the help of my trusty sidekick, Derick! After saying a farewell to Derick - as he had to go off to space college and earn his degree in Entomology - I coaxed the cat out of his hiding place. He was a stray and very dirty and skinny. So I took him home, only I didn't know what to feed him. Eventually I just settled on the sandwiches. I think he liked them," she concludes, a smile creeping across her face.

"So. You got the scratches from givin' the cat a bath, right?"

"Oh, these? No. I got these from my fight with the can opener this morning," she says, still grinning.

"You.." Ichigo begins, eyes a little bit wider and expression disjointed. Then he laughs, as true to a laugh as you could get from Kurosaki Ichigo. Orihime starts to respond but pauses when she hears her name being called from across the room. She looks over to find Tatsuki-chan waving a hand for her to come join her on their normal walk home together.

Ichigo follows her gaze and when she turns back to face him he's already turned back to her. He gives her what he can towards a smile.

"See ya, Inoue," he says, his tone still amused. "Call me next time, though. I'll bring the gloves." And he picks up his school bag, slings it over his shoulder, and walks out the door.

Orihime thinks she will thank that cat. Or was it a skunk?

The End

Notes: The title's crap 'cause I couldn't think of anything else. xD

This is my second time writing Bleach and my first time writing Ichigo and Orihime. Orihime is deceptively difficult to write, but I do like most of what I did. Ichigo is love.