Turn a Heart Upside Down

by debbiechan

Disclaimer: Kubo Tite invented these wonderful characters and these pairings--not me!

Description: PG13. I muse more upon the heart than Kaien does. Implied IshiHime, IchiRuki, KaienRuki.

Warnings: Mention of a female body part. IchiOri shippers who are easily annoyed by IchiRuki stories should skip this one. Don't say I didn't warn you. SPOILERS chapters 268 and upwards.

A/U: Sorry. Every now and then I have to write a weird story in a trippy authorial voice. It's easier to read if you think of the pieces as drabbles or prose-poems. Everyone was writing essays about chapter 270 and I was only babbling incoherently and panting for more story. I had to write this.

"You pass on your heart to others." Kaien, chapter 268.

"I'm going to save Rukia."

When a heart turns upside down, it can only fall in one direction.

Love isn't fair. It doesn't choose with social consciousness or moral obligation. It doesn't reincarnate out of stardust, and it's not born to pay invisible debts.

A girl's fists pound against the door of her prison.

A boy's hand curls around the handle of his sword.

Whatever happens next, Ichigo's heart is not in the battle.

Because love is unpredictable, let's place bets on where Ichigo's heart has landed.

Turn a heart upside down, and the truth pours out.

The truth floods the room and in low, full waves, carries away the wreckage of common sense.

Truth: Orihime loves him.

Truth: Great love means great sacrifice.

She should, therefore, sacrifice her life for his. Goodbye Ichigo, her lips want to say. Wanting a taste of what they will never have, her lips part like a breaking wave.

Turn a heart upside down and as dizzy as it gets, love can still negate failure. It turns each truth, one by one, into a beloved delusion.

Before she can kiss him, tears reach the corners of her mouth and remind her that this indulgence will taste like grief. It will taste like dark oceans. So she pulls away.

Lie: The sacrifice is made.

Truth: Orihime can no more turn Ichigo's heart around than she can revive the almost-dead.

Truth: Orihime can revive the almost-dead.

Truth: Ichigo's love never lived, not for her.

After a while, there are no more tears but the heart keeps emptying.

Once upon a time Orihime didn't dare give chocolates to a boy on Valentine's day, but she cut hearts out of red foil and wrapped fruits drop candies inside them.

She was learning to blush.

Turn a heart upside down and refocus your cultural viewpoint. You will see that the valentine symbol becomes the Sumerian cuneiform for "woman" and is a representation of the vulva….

A girl presses her hand to her chest because she's so overwhelmed with emotion that she can not breathe.

The center of consciousness in Tantric Buddhism….

The girl says her heart is full, her heart is broken, her heart will never be the same.

The seat of emotions to the Ancient Greeks, the winged heart of ascension in Sufi Islam. The heart matters to everyone, no less teenage girls in the throes of first love…

"I couldn't kiss him," Orihime says. "I couldn't say goodbye. I wanted to hold onto this feeling. If I lived five lives--"

Everyone has heard it before. The proclamation of eternal love. Five lives means Forever. Girls and boys mature into women and men, and love changes from a red biting passion like wine to a comforting necessity like daily bread. Some lucky people love with fervor forever, and Orihime is a special girl.

She's the one who will win Ichigo's love?

She deserves to, say the angels. Angels love a good love story.

What sort of married man talks about leaving his heart to another woman? Kaien was dying in Rukia's arms, but where was his wife's heart? The blood-drained organ lay with Miyako's uneaten torso.

Heart, as Kaien defined it, was an alliance. The pulsing spirit that rose like a third entity when two people talked. Here, Rukia, his arms said, is my heart. Remember me.

Kaien's wife died alone.

Turn a heart upside down and it regrets nothing. The love for one woman is simply replaced with love for another. Love is intimacy, it is a connection, it is a match made by mortals.

The angels, weary of plotting good deeds, smile when the plot of a love story takes a turn for unhappiness.

Orihime and Ichigo don't match.

Orihime walks into Las Noches alone. Or so she thinks.

Another heart follows her into the danger and darkness.

Before the descent into the dangai, Yoruichi, the sensei, closes her golden eyes in frustration and then opens them again.' "Did I not tell you? The heart and the soul are connected. What's important is what your heart thinks."

A thinking heart, how stupid, thinks Ichigo. I need to save Rukia. That's all I need to know.

No one else understands the black cat either. The counsel falls on virgin ears.

"Just keep going," the black cat says.

So the children do.

They keep going. Orihime's heart follows Ichigo, and Ichigo's heart follows Rukia.

Ishida's pride overwhelms all thought and feeling--until the moment he realizes how sweetly and fully Orihime loves Ichigo. Knowing that people like Orihime exist is a blanket falling on his heart. The knowledge hides him as it comforts him.

The truth lays his heart on its side. Careful, careful. Stay balanced.

When a heart turns upside down, one's priorities tumble into different places.

Ishida's first priority is saving Orihime.

On this second quest, as he runs through the glistening white rooms of Las Noches, he knows that he could die for her. He doesn't want to die, though. He doesn't plan on dying.

Love isn't sacrificing yourself for another person; love is living a life with another person.

When a heart turns upside down, it's because a molecule of destiny tipped it over.

The heart always retains its shape. It's a symmetrical guileless valentine. It's the ancient puzzle of lust. It belongs to sad endings and to happy ones.

No one sword has ever ended a war, but Rukia believed that a sword through Kaien's heart could end his pain. Only love can end a war, but Orihime has never felt love without feeling pain.

When a heart rights itself, it loves another way. It loves another person, or the same person in another way.

One never forgets a first love. Ask Rukia whose first love is Kaien. Ask Orihime whose first love is Ichigo.

Giving a heart to another doesn't mean taking it away from the first.

Here, Rukia, said Kaien's arms, is my heart. Remember me.

Ask Kaien whose first love is Miyako.

He can tell you that you will love again.