A/N: I'm back! This is a small one shot that I've been sitting on since last spring but got caught up in Tossed Aside before I could finish it. It was slightly difficult as both Ishida and Orihime are unique characters with slightly different speech patterns. I hope the characterization is okay. Enjoy, and don't forget to review!

Being Forward
A One-Shot Story by BlackVelvetBand

This is dedicated to my best friend Hime. Let's live for today and forget tomorrow because today is the only thing you can truly be certain of.

"I just love this time of year don't you, Ishida-kun?" Inoue Orihime sighed happily as she plucked a sakura blossom out of her companion's hair. Blushing as her rather well-endowed chest brushed his arm with the movement, Ishida Uryū pushed his glasses farther up the bridge of his nose.

"I suppose so, Inoue-san," he replied, glancing as the giggling girl ―no, woman― he corrected himself, beside him removed another errant blossom from the collar of his royal blue oxford.

"Don't sound so melancholy," Orihime scolded, turning around so that she was walking backwards in front of him, her hands clasped behind her back. "Aren't you excited to go to the festival with Kuchiki-san and Kurosaki-kun?"

Uryū shot her a slightly incredulous look. "But, Inoue-san, we see them every day at school!"

"But festivals don't happen everyday, silly!" she protested. "Besides, I can't wait to show everyone my new dress!"

Ishida couldn't help but smile faintly with pride as Orihime paused to twirl in the middle of the sidewalk, her flaming hair and floaty skirt fanning around her in a graceful arc.

"It's not often that a girl gets such a wonderful gift as a brand new dress made by you, Ishida-kun." She smoothed the fabric lovingly and shot him a brilliant smile. "You sure do know how to make a girl look beautiful!"

Uryū's face flushed for what seemed like the hundredth time since he had met Orihime at her apartment in order to walk with her to Karakura's main park for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. He adjusted his glasses once more out of nervous habit.

"You don't need my help with that, Inoue-san," he replied finally.

"Oh, Ishida-kun," she said blushing modestly. "You're so sweet. But you shouldn't say things like that to a girl unless you mean it," Orihime added with a mock-stern expression on her face as she wagged a finger at him.

But Uryū did mean it.

He deeply, truly meant it.

How could he not mean it when looking at her? She was a goddess.

Her hair was pulled halfway up, her bangs held out of her eyes by the ever-present flower hairpins. The dress (which he had so painstakingly made for her after she had playfully expressed her envy over the rather simple creation he'd made for Rukia) clung to her generous curves while leaving a tantalizing amount to the imagination. Uryū couldn't help but notice as she skipped ahead slightly, that the layered sheer skirt, which fell just above her knees, swished invitingly when she walked.

Yes, Inoue Orihime was any man's dream; a goddess in pastel blue.

He brushed another petal off of his shirt, remembering that he had worn it on Orihime's insistence. 'Ishida-kun,' she had commented last week at lunchtime. 'You must wear blue to the festival; it will bring out your eyes.'

Secretly though, he was glad that he had gone along with her request. Wearing slightly different shades of the same color made them look as if they had gone together.

Like a couple.

A couple was something Uryū desperately wanted them to be but was certain that the idea was impossible. He was thoroughly convinced that Orihime still held deep-seated feelings for Ichigo. He was also thoroughly convinced that she was way, way out of his league.

Uryū had not yet discerned that he was lagging behind his rather exuberant partner until her fingers curled into the crook of his arm.

"What are you thinking about, Ishida-kun? It must be something important because it's weighing on you so heavily you're walking slowly," Orihime said with an astute air, gazing up into his startled face.

"It was nothing, Inoue-san," Uryū returned, looking down at their feet as they navigated the sidewalk. What he wouldn't give to walk her home like this every day after their handicraft club meetings…or from the library…or whatever restaurant she would take him to that would surely challenge his digestion…

"Are you sure, Ishida-kun?" Orhime asked, leaning slightly on his arm and placing her face incredibly close to his. Uryū had the insane desire to kiss her and, had it not been for his prodigious willpower as a Quincy, he wasn't quite sure he could have restrained himself from doing so.

"You looked so serious," she commented and then let out a breathy giggle. "But Ishida-kun always looks serious. Come on," she cried, pulling him along slightly.

Smiling slightly bemusedly, Uryū allowed Orihime to escort him to the festival, secretly reveling in the fact that she still had not let go of his arm.

- - -

Uryū pushed his glasses up his nose as he tried to keep pace with Orihime while she darted in and out of the food vendors. Her dress was streaming out behind her, making her appear as ethereal as her namesake. She stopped so suddenly that Uryū collided with her back. Glancing up, he saw that they were standing in front of a stand selling what appeared to be bento made out of (what he considered to be) the most creative ingredients he'd ever seen in his life.

"Oh, Ishida-kun, look!" she squealed. "This is my favorite vendor, he makes the tastiest bento in the entire festival and he brought back the strawberry sautéed duck with garlic roasted kiwi and spicy rice!"

Uryū looked at her face, which was flushed with delight, while she jabbered merrily with the food vendor. The man was so enamored with Orihime's enthusiasm for his unusual cooking that he told her to take a second one on the house. She turned to him, her eyes shining in delight.

"Which one would you like, Ishida-kun?"

He surveyed the choices and selected one of the relatively normal-looking creations. The vendor beamed at them both.

"The young lady is so generous to share with her friend!" he crowed while fetching chopsticks and napkins. Orihime went to pay but Uryū put his hand out to stop her. Orihime stared at him with wide eyes.

Blushing, he handed a few bills to the vendor. "It's only fair that I repay her generosity," Ishida stated, adjusting his glasses. The vendor laughed heartily and wagged a finger at Orihime as both teens picked up their food.

"That young man is a keeper, miss. He's knows how to respect a lady. You and your boyfriend have a lovely evening and enjoy the fireworks!" the vendor waved happily at them.

Uryū, his face redder than Orihime's hair, allowed the girl to lead him away from the large, mulling crowds and into a small clearing off of the main path.

Orihime flounced gracefully down on the sakura-strewn grass with her bento, tucking her legs underneath her. Uryū followed suit more hesitantly. He sat near enough that they wouldn't have to talk in raised voices, but not so close that she might think he was being presumptuous.

"That vendor was nice, wasn't he?" Orihime asked. She dug into her bento with a soft moan of pleasure. Uryū made a noncommittal sound while he chewed precisely.

"He thought we were dating." She laughed airily. "As if serious Ishida-kun would ever ask out someone like me."

If Uryū were a lesser man, he might have dropped his chopsticks onto the grass in surprise at this comment. It had sounded almost bitter and not very Orihime-like at all. Could she possibly? No, he mustn't get his hopes up.

"It was nice of Kurosaki-kun and Kuchiki-san to go ahead and save us places for the fireworks, wasn't it?" she commented.

"Yes," Ishida answered her, despite the fact he was convinced that Ichigo's offer to go save places for the evening's fireworks display while Orihime fed her growling stomach was merely a tactic which would allow him time to be alone with Rukia.

A few moments later, Orihime placed her box beside her on the grass. Uryū, having eaten all that looked edible out of his own, took both trays and deposited them in a receptacle a little ways up the path. When he returned to the clearing, Orihime was standing once more, twirling slightly to the strains of a traditional melody wafting over from the music pavilion.

Uryū stood for a moment, watching her sway in the center of the circle of trees, blossoms falling around her, her dress rustling in the slight breeze. She had a slightly nostalgic look on her face, her eyes closed, like she was witnessing something which lived only in the depths of her memory. Orihime revolved again, her arms lifting as if they were being placed on a partner's shoulders and Ishida realized that she was dancing a waltz…alone.

"What are you doing?" he blurted before he could stop himself.

She stopped, blinking at him and looking rather sheepish. "I was dancing," Orihime said, her hands falling from her invisible partner's shoulders. Uryū remained silent, for some reason he felt that there was more.

"My brother used to bring me here every year. Before the fireworks we would always buy some bento and then…we would dance together. I was so little, he had to pick me up," she smiled. "I come here every year and dance by myself…to remember him."

Uryū could barely stand it when her usually cheerful face took on a distinctly downcast air. He wanted to comfort her, do something to bring that blinding smile back to her beautiful face.

"Will you dance with me, Ishida-kun?" she asked quietly a few moments later. Ishida was taken aback by the question.

"I―" he began. Orihime was gazing at him with her eyes large and hopeful. Uryū wanted to scream, 'Yes of course I'll dance with you! Would it be to inappropriate if I held you against me in a manner most unbefitting of a gentleman?' But neither those words, nor any words, broke past the rather large and nervous lump which was suddenly blocking his throat.

She gave him a horrifyingly watery smile and sniffled a little. "It's okay, Ishida-kun. I shouldn't have asked. I was being too…forward again."

"No," he said quickly. "Inoue-san, I would be delighted to dance with you."

The smile was back and Uryū felt a fierce rush of Quincy pride that he had been able to put it there.

He moved forward hesitantly and gave a slight bow. "May I have this dance?" he asked, holding out a palm. Orihime slid her delicate hand into his with an elated giggle.

"Of course you can, Ishida-kun. I asked you first."

Uryū nodded absentmindedly, gently wrapping one slightly sweaty palm on her back, just lower than her shoulder blade, in the proper waltz position. Orihime placed her hand on his shoulder while Ishida silently counted to the new song which had just begun playing.

One, two, three. One, two, three, Ishida counted as he led Orihime slightly awkwardly through a few rotations of a waltz. She slipped into the rhythm easily and soon Ishida moved the dance, sweeping around the clearing.

"You're so good at this," Orihime sighed.

"My mother made me take lessons when I was little," Ishida admitted. "We used to attend the galas at the hospital as a family before she died."

"Oh," Orihime replied softly and Ishida twirled her smoothly under his arm. He pulled her back into him, meaning to resume their previous waltz position but she tripped.

Uryū steadied her with his hands on her waist, all too aware that her warm body was aligned perfectly with his, her delicate hands resting on his chest.

He gazed down at her, his eyes wide behind his glasses. Orihime mirrored his expression, her face flaming the same shade as her hair. Uryū gaze flicked uncontrollably to her lips, his tongue darting out to wet his own, which suddenly felt incredibly dry. He realized with a jolt that Orihime's own eyes had followed the movement, before darting back up to meet his.

"Ishida-kun," she asked tentatively, "would I be being too forward again if I kissed you?"

Ishida's heart leapt in his chest, and he shook his head slightly, not daring to believe his luck. "No, Inoue-san," he croaked. "I would be delighted to kiss you."

Ishida tilted his head to the side and Orihime tilted hers….then they were kissing.

It was slightly awkward at first. Ishida had relatively no experience in this department and he was quite unsure of Orihime's own level of experience. If Orihime was lacking in experience, she certainly made up for it in enthusiasm. Her soft lips moved over his, her hands curling into his hair. Uryū tugged her even closer against him, one hand wrapped around her back, the other cupping her neck.

Orihime's mouth opened slightly and their tongues brushed by accident. He wondered if she too felt slightly lightheaded. He shifted his head slightly and Orihime gasped against his lips. Her breath on his cheek was warm when they broke apart. He barely had time to whisper her name before Orihime had launched herself at him forcefully, bringing their lips crashing together again. Uryū lost his balance and slipped backward onto the soft ground, bringing her down on top of him.

Orihime released his lips rather reluctantly. She smiled down at Uryū, adjusting his glasses from where they had been cutting into the bridge of his nose without him noticing or caring in the slightest. Her hair tickled his cheek, and he brushed it behind her ear.

Orihime's brow furrowed suddenly and she leant down until their noses were touching, her eyes boring into his. "Are we dating now, Ishida-kun?" she asked seriously. "I like you a lot."

Uryū's eyebrows shot up. "Of course, Inoue-san," he stammered. "I like you a lot too."

"Good," she stated, pressing her lips against his briefly. "But if we are dating, then you must call me Orihime."

Uryū nodded in compliance. She wanted him to call her Orihime!

"Then you must call me Uryū…Orihime."

She flashed him that brilliant smile once more, before tucking her head underneath his chin with a contented sigh.

"Uryū," she asked a few minutes later, "I know you really don't like festivals all that much but… will you come and dance with me again next year?"

He drew her more snugly against him, running a hand through her hair. "Of course," Uryū replied, beginning to think that festivals were magnificent establishments.

"Do you promise?" Orihime whispered, one hand playing with the collar of his shirt.

"On the pride of the Quincy," he returned, sealing his pledge with a gentle kiss.

A/N: Review! Or I will have Orihime sick Tsubaki on your ass!

P.S. Anyone want to help me come up with a situation that would draw Isane and Hanatarō together romantically? I received a request for a story with this pairing, but am absolutely baffled at how to achieve it. You know you want to help the author…right?