Title: Prison Breaks (2/2)
Ship: Ishida/Orihime yay!
General Summary:There are various types of prisons in this world. A person, a building, a situation, a heart,--these are all prisons, at times. This is how you escape them. ORIHIME. URYUU. A Darwinian lesson on survival, where living another day is important, and love is not expected. And yet it happens.
Spoilers: Lots of spoilers, up to 238.
Dedications: To Seren, because I don't need a reason to write her fics, I just love it. And for debbiechan, because she wanted to see this happen.
A/N: I've divided this into two parts, because I'm lazy, and because it needs to be done this way. It's how the story goes. Oh yes, to anyone else who thought Ryuuken talking with Orihime was awkward and cute? You're not the only one! Yeah, um. The smut? Didn't happen. Obviously. Sorry, but that would've been stretching it too much. I'm too anal about keeping my characters IC. You get? Alright!
"This world is full of beauty, as other worlds above, and if we did our duty, it might be as full of love".
The next time Ryuuken dares start conversation with Inoue is when he finds her sitting on the couch upside-down. Her head barely touches the floor, and her hair is spread all over his very expensive rug. Her feet are crossed at the ankles, pointing at the ceiling. It's not her posture what freaks him out. Nor the fact that she's apparently wearing his son's clothes. Or clothes made by his son. Nor the fact that Ishida is sleeping peacefully on the other side of the couch, barely touching the girl. It's the fact that she's reading what makes him feel uncomfortable.
"Don't you do anything the normal way?" he asks her, adjusting his glasses.
Orihime lifts the book away from her face, and lets it rest on her chest. "Ishida-san," she greets, "Hello. Did you say something?"
"I was asking you if you did anything the normal way." He adjusts his glasses again, while Orihime changes her position to that of actually sitting on the couch. Ah. Now he sees it. She just cleared a spot. For him to sit on. Ryuuken blinks. 'She's got to be kidding me.'
"Well," Orihime intones, "I've heard it's a relaxing posture. Lots of people do it to calm down."
"The blood rushes down to your brain, which can cause headaches afterwards. Trust me, it's not a relaxing thing. Unless you get high on pain," he mutters, pushing his glasses up his nose. Again.
Orihime gasps, and squirms in her seat. "Ishida-san did that…glasses thing."
Ryuuken blinks. "What glasses thing?"
"The one with the pushing your glasses up your nose…thing!"
"And this is so interesting…because?"
"Ishida-kun does that, too," Orihime answers, smiling.
"Ishida-kun? Which one of us is that?" He has to admit he's feeling confused. He never thought being near someone who knew his son well would be so confusing.
"U…Uryuu," Orihime murmurs, blush overcoming her features. She not that impressive, so he doesn't get why his son is so fond of her. Aside from the well-endowed chest area, and the colour of her hair, Inoue Orihime is just another…girl. If she squealed any moment, Ryuuken wouldn't be surprised. At all.
She's still expecting him to sit down next to her. Sitting next to her would mean having his son on his left. That would also mean being sandwiched between two teenagers. He's not ready for that. But. There is this book he wants to read, and really, what other choice does he have? She'd probably cry if he didn't sit down. So he does. Sit, that is. Right in the middle of the couch. The girl returns to her book, and his son is still asleep. Ryuuken opens his own book, and reads. Ah, medicine. Medicine books are so comforting. So relaxing. So good, knowing that there is one thing that will never change. And if it does change, it'll only be for the best. With the word 'changes' in mind, he risks sneaking a glance at his son. He looks so peaceful, and child-like.
"He looks so peaceful and child-like," comes the sigh from behind him.
Ryuuken jumps. A bit. 'What, she can read thoughts now?' He clears his throat, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes you do," she whispers through the corner of her mouth. "You're his father. You have the right to watch over him as he sleeps. Who else does he have, for that?" She's looking at him now. Alternating between staring expectantly at him, and glancing at Uryuu. "I never really had a father to watch over me. The only person…the only man who watched over me as I slept was my brother. I lost him," she whispers, looking at her lap. "The day I last saw him, we had fought. He died thinking I hated him."
'Yes, yes, very touching story, are you quite done yet?'
Orihime looks at him, her eyes hard. "Do you want that to happen to you? Do you want to lose him without showing him that you care? How long will it take for the both of you to stop hating each other and start acting like a family?"
Ryuuken is speechless. It's alright, because he needn't say a word, anyway. Orihime stands up from the couch, and heads towards the kitchen. "I'm going to make some tea," she announces. Then over her shoulder, she says, "He looks cold. There's a blanket near you."
The room's only sound is the buzzing of the reading lamp. Ryuuken grabs the blanket in his arms, and stares from it, to his son. And back again. 'Maybe she's right.'
He unfolds the blanket. 'What's there to lose?' He covers his son up, and in an act of fatherhood he hasn't shown since years back, he tucks him in. Uryuu still looks peaceful. Like his mother. He wouldn't admit it, but perhaps…perhaps, Ryuuken is proud of his son.
Outside these facilities there is a war brewing. Orihime knows that much.
She also knows that many people will have to fight in this war, whether they like it or not. She knows that there will be loss. There will be blood, and pain and tears. She knows that somehow, they'll try to keep her from fighting, again. She knows that she will not allow it.
So one night, two weeks after Ishida Uryuu has saved her life and brought her here, she confronts him. Perhaps the place she chooses to do it isn't the best one, or perhaps it's not the right time, but either way, she does it. He has just returned from Hollow hunting, because according to Ishida, Aizen was starting to release more Hollows each day. Orihime suspected this was because Aizen wanted to distract the Shinigami from training. Or at least, to distract Kurosaki-kun. Because, also according to Ishida, all the Shinigami were gone, returned to train in the Soul Society. So, Orihime reasons one night, it must mean that Aizen is scared by Kurosaki-kun. Or of Ishida-kun. Either way, the two have had to form another alliance to protect the town from Hollows.
Orihime thinks, no, Orihime knows that soon they will need more help. And whether they like it or not, aside from Sado-kun, they only have her. Somehow, she knows that Yoruichi-san and Urahara are also training, and can't be distracted. So, she sets her mind to confronting Ishida-kun tonight. She grabs the two cups of tea she had prepared, and takes them to her room. Their room. The room in which both Ishida and Orihime have been sleeping all this time. It thrills her, sharing rooms with Ishida-kun, just like when they were in the Soul Society. Teamwork. Teamwork is good.
She slides the door open with her shoulder, and enters with her back towards the room. She slides the door shut with her toes, and turns around. The cups almost fall from her hands. She turns around again.
"I…I didn't know you were…sorry, Ishida-kun!" she stammers, blushing red.
There is a shuffling noise as Uryuu pulls his shirt back on, then a hiss of pain which makes Orihime turn around again. Concerned, she leaves the tea cups on the table, and heads towards the bed. It's not as if she hasn't seen a boy without his shirt before. Well…not the boy who she's been sharing a room for so long. There is a difference.
"You're hurt," she states, fingers skimming slightly over the bandages he's just applied. "Let me cure you?"
"Ah…Inoue-san, you don't have to…it's not much, honest…just a few scratches…" he stammers beautifully, pushing his glasses up his nose.
"What happened?" Orihime questions, concerned.
"We had a Menos Grande tonight. A small one, but, ah…well…we weren't prepared, and…" He clenches his jaw and looks at his hands. "I'm still weak."
"No!" Orihime snaps, startling him. "No, you're not, Ishida-kun. I see you training every day, and you're powerful. I think you're so powerful, that Aizen is starting to be scared. That's why he sends all these Hollows, and now a Menos…"
"I'm not the only one who's getting stronger, you know?"
Orihime nods, and hands him the cup of tea. They drink. Orihime steels herself. "I want to fight with you."
"No," Ishida answers, taking a calm sip.
"I knew you were going to say that. Face it, Ishida-kun, everyone needs training. You, and Kurosaki-kun, and Sado-kun. If you keep on getting distracted by the Hollow attacks, then you will never be strong enough by the end of these months. Please, Ishida-kun, you need all the help you can get. Let me train."
"Letting you train would mean accepting the fact that you're going to end up fighting."
"Would you rather I die without a fight?" she questions.
Ishida's head snaps up, his eyes narrowed. "Never. Inoue-san, I…I just don't want you to get hurt…"
"I won't," she says, cupping his cheek in a palm. "I have trained a lot with Kuchiki-san, trust me. I want to help."
Ishida blushes, and places a warm hand over Orihime's. "I do trust you. I just don't want you to get hurt. Not if I can help it."
Orihime smiles sadly, but doesn't let go. "You know, some months ago, I told Kuchiki-san that if I were in everyone's way, I'd retire, then, and be forever lonely. But she told me not to regret anything, she…she told me to keep on training until I'm not in anyone's way, because…because I shouldn't be lonely, and I…did. I don't want to go back to feeling caged and…helpless, and useless. I…I don't want to feel lonely anymore…"
The tears on her cheek are brushed away by Ishida's thumb. The other fingers follow the thumb, coming to rest beneath Orihime's ear. The skin there tingles when Ishida leans in, as if to hug her. She lets out the breath she's been holding, whispering "Uryuu" to the room. Almost immediately, Ishida freezes, but only for a moment. Then he's moving again.
He tastes like tea. They both taste like tea. His lips move over hers, the whisper of a kiss. It's not a kiss yet, it's just the brushing of lips. Tentatively, almost scared. His lips are soft, and Orihime smiles. Ishida's hand cups her face, and presses her closer. Now, it's a kiss. Orihime is burning, and so is he. Everything near Ishida's mouth is soft, and warm. His lips, his tongue, his cheeks. She's not sure why, but she never wants to let go.
He does it for her. Lips part, and he presses his forehead against hers. She's panting hard, and so is he, breaths mingling together. "Uryuu…" she whispers, astonished.
He straightens up, and gives her an answer she wasn't expecting: "I'm sorry I'm not someone else." Then, before she can say anything, he stands up with another hiss of pain, and leaves the room.
Orihime remains glued to the seat, fingers on her lips. 'Is this how my first kiss should've happened?' she asks her heart. Yes, the heart answers, and the answer echoes in her ear. She looks at the empty room, and wonders. Why did Ishida kiss her? Why did he say that? Why did he leave?
And more importantly, why, in stead of feeling regret because it wasn't Kurosaki-kun's kiss, did she feel as if a chain had been broken. One chair, tied around her heart, one prison she's escaped thanks to the kiss. It felt liberating, it didn't hurt at all. And Orihime doesn't get it.
She wants more.
Ishida makes a business out of ignoring her for the next week.
A bit angry at his reactions, Orihime directs herself to his father. Lately, they've been having dinner together alone, because Ishida comes home late enough to just jump into bed and sleep. Sometimes he eats the food Orihime makes sure to leave for him on the table, because when he gets there, she's already asleep.
Either way, dinners with Ryuuken alternate from being very quiet, to being very entertaining. One night, Ryuuken confesses that he and his son are getting along better, now. Orihime congratulates him, and tells him to keep it up. That's all they've talked about Uryuu so far. Every other talk, normally involves Ryuuken asking her things about her past, her friends, her hopes, or Orihime sharing her imaginations with him. He tells her she amuses him, and pours himself another cup of tea.
Tonight, Orihime has had enough. She's snippy, and Ryuuken notices. He questions her mood.
"It's just that," Orihime explains, clenching the spoon in her hand. "He's so…so…he's so Ishida."
Ryuuken chuckles, and then starts laughing gradually, until he's crying with laughter.
"Did I say something stupid?" Orihime asks.
"N-no," Ryuuken answers, pushing away tears of mirth. "No, I just remembered that it was the same thing my wife used to say," he explains, his eyes acquiring a longing expression.
"Were you two friends?" Orihime asks, curious to hear more.
"No," Ryuuken chuckles. "Actually, she hated me. She said I was a arrogant fool that deserved to rot in the pit of darkness. That was before I kissed her."
Orihime blushes when she hears the word 'kiss', and Ryuuken suddenly knows.
"Ah," he murmurs. "So that's what he did…" Smiling slightly, he pours tea for the both of them, and takes a sip. "You have to understand, Inoue, that this is the way the mind of an Ishida works. Try not to be bothered by it."
"I'm not bothered by it, I just…wish he'd talk to me again. I feel as if we're suddenly upset with each other for a fight that never happened…"
"Oh, give him time. If I know my son, and I hope I do, considering how he acted near you before the kiss, he's probably afraid to come near you now."
"But why would he be? I don't bite! Or…I don't think I bit him…"
Ryuuken clears his throat uncomfortably. "Yes, well…he probably thinks he's not worthy of you, or something of the sorts."
"How stupid!" she blurts out, covering her mouth afterwards with surprise. "Did I say that?"
Ryuuken laughs again as an answer.
Orihime looks at her hands. "I don't understand him sometimes. Why would he avoid me?"
"My son's mind is more complicated than the most complicated book on medicine. Actually, I think I'd enjoy that book more than venturing into my son's mind. The thing is, if his mind is like that…then his heart is ten times worse."
Orihime's eyes widen. Across the hall, a light glows, announcing them that someone has entered the shield. Only one person knows how to come here, so Orihime excuses herself, and runs towards the door. She's determined not to let him escape.
Three people come inside. Three people she wasn't expecting at all.
"Kurosaki-kun…Kuchiki-san…" she whispers, looking at her long lost friends. And then at the person they are carrying. "Uryuu," she murmurs, her eyes softening when she sees the blood. "What happened?" But she doesn't wait for the answer, in stead she sends out Ayame and Shun'oh. Ryuuken joins the party, glaring at the two.
"I thought I told my son not to deal with Shinigami," he says, upset.
"We're not," Rukia answers, just as upset. "I disobeyed the orders of our general, and came back to the human world. The only thing Shinigami left in me, is my zanpakuto."
"And I'm a Vaizard," Ichigo answers, grim. "Ishida has told us of his deal with you."
"Don't fight," Orihime begs, putting a tentative hand on Ryuuken's arm. "Please. Just help me get him into bed." They move Ishida into the bedroom. Ryuuken leaves, still upset at his son being hurt because of Shinigami.
"Now I can heal you two," Orihime says, stepping into the living room, where they are waiting.
"Orihime," Rukia whispers, and throws herself at the younger girl. They hug each other. "I thought we had lost you. I'm so glad you're okay."
"We both are," Ichigo says.
Funny enough, the jump of her stomach that should've come with those words, doesn't happen. "I'm glad you're both alright."
She heals them, and they talk for a while. Rukia left her division, and is now an exile. Apparently, she had left before the notice of Orihime being alright came, thinking only of helping Ichigo recover their friend. If she had stayed more, perhaps she would still be a Shinigami. Ichigo details the fights, and the news, and Orihime is surprised at her own heart for not blooming around him anymore. She doesn't understand it. How come, after all her declarations, suddenly she doesn't feel that love any more? Was her love so shallow? Or was it some sort of silly infatuation? No. No, Orihime knows she loves Kurosaki-kun. She does. She'd die for him. But then again…she'd die for any friend of hers.
She decides to think more on this. Ichigo and Rukia leave, and Ryuuken is still out. She goes back into the bedroom, to watch over Ishida. The room is dark, and he is sleeping. She sits down near his bed, and looks at his sleeping form. Ishida moves, hand coming out from under the cover, grabbing her own hand, and bringing it to his face, pressing the back of her hand against his cheek. He murmurs her name, and her heart beats faster. In stead of a little jump, her stomach does an entire somersault, and Orihime gasps. She's confused again.
Ishida frowns, and she instinctively leans in to brush her lips over his forehead. His frown disappears. He looks beautiful. Orihime wants to cry at the whole thing. 'Am I falling in love? What…what does falling in love feel like, anyway?'
"Don't break his heart," comes a low voice from the doorway. She turns around to discover Ryuuken observing them with a serious expression. "If you're not sure, don't start anything which could break his heart. I'd hate to be obliged to hurt you afterwards. Understood?"
Orihime can only nod. On the bed, Uryuu pretends he isn't awake.
"Uryuu," Orihime says, cornering him against a wall. "You will help me train. There is no such thing as a 'no' for an answer."
He grins slightly, and cups her face. He presses his lips on her forehead, seemingly addicted to the feel of her skin, and tells her: "I won't go easy on you."
"Good," she answers, her eyes shining.
From the sofa, Ryuuken sighs deeply. It's already begun.
Two months have passed. The time is almost over. The battle is almost there.
Every day, Orihime trains with Ishida. Some days, she joins him in the Hollow hunt. She's more efficient now. She doesn't kill unless it's a must, but she knows how to make Tsubaki wound her enemies with precision. She lets others give the last strike, but it's alright. It's fine.
She has tea with Ryuuken, and ice cream with her friends. She's not lonely, not ever. Ishida makes sure of that. She's accustomed herself to the idea that she does love Kurosaki-kun, but she's not in love with him anymore. To say that she never was would be foolish. People change, and sometimes, love dims down, or switches from one person to another. It's unavoidable, and natural, and she realises that she didn't have to cry to herself so much about it. Not she knows that she loves all her friends, and it makes her happy. It makes her content, and at peace.
Winter rolls by, and a sense of dread settles over everyone. The battle is near.
One night, after training, Orihime doesn't fall asleep. She crawls over to Ishida-kun's futon, and settles herself on top of his covers, not touching him, not really. In his ear, she whispers, "Ishida-kun, are you awake?" No answers. "Uryuu?" she tries again. No answer. Better, because what she has to say is better said in the dark. Like this. The battle is near, and Orihime needs to tell him, before it's too late. "Uryuu, I…I think I'm in love with you."
No answer. She's sighs, and removes herself from the futon. She looks at his sleeping form one more time, hoping with all her heart that he survive. Orihime turns around, ready to return to her bed, when clothes shuffle, and there is movement. Arms, strong arms go around her waist, pulling her back into a firm chest. His chin rests on her shoulders, and in her ear he whispers: "Orihime."
She shivers. "Yes?"
"I love you," he whispers.
Something inside her breaks, bends, and reconstructs itself. She turns around in his arms, and ignoring her tears, she presses her lips on his, and they kiss. One of his hands travel up, resting at the base of her neck, fingers skimming the skin there. She uses one hand to see if his hair is as soft as it looks. It is. His tongue, warm and soft and lovely, parts her lips, and he pulls her lower lip between his teeth. She moans, presses herself to him, and causes them to fall over. Orihime lands on top of him, and they kiss, and kiss until their lips are swollen and close to bleeding. They would kiss more, but they are tired, and soon, they are asleep.
They fall asleep together, entwined in each other, and know that like this, they will survive everything fate throws their way.
The battle is harsh, and violent. There is blood, and pain and tears. But because Orihime is there, no one dies. She is integrated in Unohana-taichou's group, and the people that are worst wounded come to her. Almost everyone passes through Orihime's shield. She's useful.
Even Ryuuken joins the fight, son and father shooting off arrows together. They stand high on a hill, the archers of this mighty war, and shoot, and kill, and destroy, and are victorious. Aizen dies in the end, together with all the Arrankar.
Matsumoto ends up under intensive care after her battle against Gin. Hitsugaya never leaves her bedside. Orihime sees a lot of this happening, the love blooming, the hope coming back with full force. She sees Ise-san jump into Shunsui's arms, relieved that he is alive; until he cries 'I knew you cared, my beautiful Nanao-chan!', at which she releases him, blushing slightly. She sees two of the Vaizards kissing like their life depends on it. She sees the Kuchiki siblings carrying an injured Renji towards Unohana's tent.
It's over, and they've won. Orihime knew this would happen. The good always win. Two arms go around her waist, and soon, Orihime joins in on the blooming love, and kisses Uryuu in front of the whole army of Shinigami. The noise disappears around her, and it's the same as every time. He's warm, and soft and lovely. And after all this time, she realises another constant in Ishida Uryuu.
'He still tastes like tea.'
:happily ever after? yes: