Laundry Shots

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, nor am I writing this for profit

Another bit for "Reflection". I would publish it as it's own story but I'm not sure how to build Makoto's relationship with the others. I know the ending but I don't know the middle part, essentially.

Makoto landed on a balcony below, turning his head to the left and the right. Nothing was there. His eyes narrowed.

"Great... I guess my head's playing games with me," he muttered. He turned around and saw an upside-down door, the interior of the castle filled with darkness. He sighed, and scratched the top of his head.

"Guess the inside of my mind or soul or whatever couldn't be well lit," he said flatly, entering the interior. He held up a hand and muttered a quick kido spell. A ball of light appeared in his hand, lighting up the room. He looked around.

"Huh... Nothing..." He walked deeper into the castle, looking around the dark, mish-mashed architecture. Modern, Western, Japanese, and ancient variations on them made up the inside of the castle. Makoto sighed.

"Wonder what this says about me..."

"Maybe you're crazy," suggested another voice.

"Yeah, maybe I-WOAH!" He spun around quickly, and tripped over the end of his jacket. "OOF!"

A giggle filled the room as the kido failed, casting it back into darkness. Makoto groaned and pushed himself back up.

"Ow... That was humiliating," he mumbled. He looked around, and reactivated the kido. He saw the faint outline of a door down the long hallway. He shrugged and walked down through it, coming to a large room filled to the brim with statues. Gray, smooth marble statues.

"Huh... Wonder what this means," Makoto said, scratching his head. He looked at a statue of Rukia, in her school uniform, looking very disapproving. "Ah, Rukia in her default mode." He looked to another statue, this one of Chad standing very... Stoically. "Also default for Chad..."

In total there were ten statues, each of a specific person: Ichigo, Chad, Rukia, Hinamori, Tatsuki, Ishida, Orihime, Aizen, Urahara and his mother. Each statue was very lifelike, right down to the strands of their hair.

They were arranged in a circle, and Makoto sat in the center and pondered each one, his fingers tapping nervously against his sword and against the floor as he did.

"Okay, so... Each is of a person important to my life, okay, there's that," Makoto pondered aloud. He scratched the top of his head again. He stared intently at the statue of Orihime. "Maybe I need to arrange them in the order I met them...?"

He stood up and wrapped his arms around Tatsuki's waist. "Nngh... Gnngh...!" He tried to pull the statue up, all of his strength put into it. "Okay... Um... No, that's not helping."

He sighed and bowed his head. "There's gotta be a reason for me to have statues of the most important people in my life in a circular room, right? It wouldn't just be here for no reason, right? Right! So..." He looked up and frowned. "What is it?"

"Maybe it's just the people who are most important to you," another voice suggested.

"But that's-HEY!" He got up and turned around. "Who said that?"

The Orihime statue gained colors. Literally, they just popped onto her, as life popped into her. She waved her hand and smiled. "Hello Kikanuma-kun!"

"Er, hey Inoue... Part of my soul," Makoto said, waving awkwardly back. Orihime stepped off her pedestal and walked up to Makoto, holding her hands behind her back with an impish smile. "You... Aren't my libido, are you?"

"Hm? Well, maybe. It'd be a good fit, wouldn't it? A part of you that's out of control," Orihime commented with a sage nod.

"Right, right... But I don't think I need to reconcile with that... Just yet," Makoto said. "So, what are you?"

"Let's see if you can figure it out," Orihime said gamely. She stepped back, and a chess board atop a small stone table arose. Two chairs rose with it. Orihime sat in one, and Makoto sat in the other with a shrug.

"Okay, chess... Mind games huh?" Makoto said. Orihime giggled.

"Yes! Mind games! Though I think I'd like video mind games better," she said. She waved her hand over the board, and as it passed chess pieces appeared. Makoto frowned as he saw that he had been given the black set, and looked up at her.

"Black for me?"

"Ladies first, after all," Orihime replied. "Shall we?"

Makoto shrugged again. "Do I have a choice?"

Orihime stared at him strangely, and then smiled. "Of course you do."

"Right," Makoto said. "But it's not a pleasant one, is it?"

Orihime shrugged. "Might be. That's up to you."

They began the game, Makoto responding to Orihime's wild opening with some skill. He wasn't exactly a chess master-He knew how to play and some of the basic openings but that was about it. His mother had insisted he take it up while he was younger, but like many things he'd lost interest when he'd entered high school.


Still, he knew when he was getting trounced. Which happened again...


And again...


And again... Until Makoto had lost count of how many games they'd played.

"Checkmate!" Orihime gave him a smile and a shrug. Makoto, on the other side, was glaring intently at the board as though betrayed.

"Seriously, I don't get what the hell is going on. The law of averages says I should win at least once."

"This is your mind, Kikanuma-kun," Orihime said. "Why do you think you're losing?"

"Um... Is it my play style?"

Orihime kept smiling. Makoto thought about it, hard.

"Is it because... I keep trying to keep my forces intact, at the expense of the goal?"

Orihime shook her head and giggled. "You're funny."

Makoto shrugs and sighs. "Well, yeah, that's me. Funny. That's what I have to do."

"Have to?" Orihime asked.

Makoto stared at her. "Well... What else am I supposed to do? Ichigo's the Hero, Ishida's like, the Lancer or something, Chad's the Big Guy, Rukia's the Smart Girl. And you're... Um... The Chick. Slash Healer. There's nothing else for me to be but comic relief."

"But is Rukia not also a Chick?" Orihime asked. "And can not Ishida also be smart? What about Chad? What is he?" She smiled impishly. "And I think you're forgetting Sixth Ranger on that list."

"You read TVTropes too?"

"No, but I am in your mind," Orihime reminded him gently. Makoto sat back and looked around the statues. He looked back at the chess set. He thought for a while.

"... Another game, while you think?" Orihime asked.

"Well, if you want to," Makoto said, taking hold of some of the pieces and setting them back up.

"Well, I don't really want to," Orihime said. "But, if you insist on playing, we can."

Makoto froze, the knight and the queen in his hands. He looked up at Orihime, who smiled innocently. She took his queen and studied it carefully.

"Kurosaki-kun is much like a queen," Orihime said. "He's powerful, so powerful every movement he makes causes things to happen across the board. He effects everything, no matter what. But the queen is always behind the charge-Something the real Kurosaki-kun would never do." She looked back up at Makoto. She put the queen down, and picked up a rook.

"Chad is much like a rook, fighting straight through anything that gets in his way, defending Ichigo or the king... But he's not so inflexible. He would never let someone else take a hit he would not try to take for them." Orihime put that down, and picked up a piece from her side-A white knight.

"And Ishida... Ishida is much like a knight-Noble, compassionate, determined... But a chess knight is just a horse. A horse that hops around the board, in and out, randomly. Ishida is far more precise." She put the piece down and looked back at Makoto. Makoto stared back.

"You don't have to play by the rules, when the rules don't apply," Orihime said. Makoto looked around the chamber, so baffling before. Somehow, it now felt so... Simple. He smiled, and looked back.

"Thank... You?" He blinked. Orihime was back to being a statue, smiling into the dark room. Makoto sighed, and rose. He headed for the exit... And then ran back, just to double check. Satisfied she was still there, he turned and walked out, light giggling following in his wake.

... Your guess is as good as mine.