A/N: Here we go. Hard to believe this is the 18th fanfic I've written (only the second for Bleach though…). This fic is Rangiku Matsumoto X Orihime Inoue. Why? Because that's what my readers wanted. If it just hasn't connected yet: This is yuri. Rangiku and Orihime are both girls. They will still both be girls when they have sex with each other in a later chapter of this story. If you don't want to read girlxgirl stuff go find something else. Oh and this fic takes place during the early part of the arrancar arc, right after the shinigami team arrives and before the second battle with the arrancar (which should make sense since it's Rangiku and Orihime), so there will likely be spoilers up to that point. Well enough said, hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: Tite Kubo owns Bleach but I own a brand new cheese grater.

The night air felt particularly dark and cold at the back of Orihime Inoue as she roamed the empty streets of Karakura town. She had left her apartment for a walk. She had needed some air and a moment to think about everything, everything that seemed so confusing to her.

It was all so uncertain. Orihime tried to piece it all together. What did she mean to him? What did he mean to her? He didn't know Orihime's feelings that much was sure. Did she? No she couldn't know anything of the sort. The only one who knew Orihime's feelings was Orihime herself. That's what the problem was in the first place. He didn't know. Orihime wasn't ready to tell him. They were beginning to get too close.

So was that what this pain Orihime felt was; jealousy? How could she be jealous of someone else getting close to him when she herself was afraid of moving forward? But Orihime had at least wanted to be there for him, to be the one to comfort him in his time of weakness. Maybe she was just disappointed then, disappointed in her own failure. Disappointed that she had been too weak to help, that it had been someone else who had succeeded where she had failed.

These thoughts continued as the girl walked. Orihime wasn't usually like this. She was usually a simple, cheery girl. She was usually more interested in having fun. Walking aimlessly around town with a head full of depressed thoughts wasn't fun; it hurt. What use was this "love" if all it did was cause her heart this pain?

Orihime's thoughts on her suffering likely would have continued much longer, no, they surely would. That night in her depression, it could have been that uninterrupted Orihime might not have returned to her apartment at all. But her thoughts were interrupted. The sound of a large roar resonated through the vast emptiness of the cold air behind her.

Orihime turned around to find before her a hollow of incredible size. She could tell it wasn't one of the more powerful hollows she had seen. It was far too large and monstrous to be an arrancar, and in reading its spiritual energy Orihime could tell it wasn't even one of the menos.

The monstrous creature crashed its arm downward at the girl. Orihime made an easy dodge, stepping back quickly so as the hollows giant fist met only with the ground where she had once stood. Orihime simply wasn't in the mood for this. Didn't this hollow know she wanted to be left alone? The girl let her depression funnel into anger as she stared at the evil spirit hatefully. She'd just have to destroy this thing here and now.

It was then, as the words Koten Zanshun, I reject, were on Orihime's lips that the girl remembered the fact that her sole means of offense, Tsubaki, had been destroyed in the confrontation with the arrancar. She was helpless. She was powerless. The hollow's giant hands were already in path toward her again. All she could do was defend.

The words Santen Kesshun, I reject didn't make it out either. There was no need for them. The hollow was falling forward, dead, its mask cleaved straight in two. A shinigami had come to Orihime's rescue. As she rushed forward to greet her savior, the hollow disintegrating into nothingness where it lay, Orihime couldn't help but pray it was him.

It wasn't him. No, it was a definite her. Not the her at the root of her jealousy though, this was a different girl. This person brought no jealous, sad, or difficult thoughts to Orihime's mind. This person was Orihime's friend, her current roommate on top of that. This was someone close she could trust like almost no other.

Rangiku Matsumoto cocked an amused smile as she opened her mouth to speak with her usual arrogance, her zanpakuto, Haineko, re-sheathed, "Whoa that one was kinda big… It's a good thing someone of my caliber was there to save you, Orihime."

"Rangiku? Why..., what are you doing out here?" Orihime asked less than gratefully.

"Following you of course." Rangiku said bluntly, walking toward the other and wrapping an arm around her. She continued in a smug, forward tone, "When I saw you leave the apartment alone I was worried. I decided I simply couldn't just let you go out by yourself."

"I would have been alright… on my own." Orihime said in a somber way, as if she was about to cry.

"Nonsense, Orihime. The increased appearances of hollows is one thing, but there are plenty of other reasons why a cute young girl shouldn't walk the streets alone at night." Rangiku said in a somewhat teasing voice as she extended a hand to catch one of the tears that managed to escape Orihime's eyes.

"I needed to clear my head." Orihime gave her excuse in a miserable tone.

"So what? Now that me and the captain are there you can't even feel relaxed in your own home? I thought I was welcome." Rangiku said going into a faux pout of rejection.

"Oh, no, Rangiku, that's not it at all. I'm happy your staying with me, really. I just thought… it would help me sort everything out." Orihime said shaking her head and forcing a stop to her tears.

"You're really hung up on something, aren't you? It's not like you to be all depressed all the time, Orihime. Where's that sweet, fun girl I first met back in Soul Society?" Rangiku said with equal parts playfulness and concern as she embraced Orihime with one arm.

"It's just, it's just… everything's so hard." Orihime began to cry again. She was so helpless. She wanted to be comforted and this woman's presence had always been comforting.

"Well in that case, you said you came out here to think about your problem? Maybe talking about it would help more than just thinking." Rangiku suggested in a maternal tone. She added in a somewhat light manner as she held the girl closer to her warmth, "I could try to make you feel better."

"Okay. I'd like that. I think that could really help." Orihime said as she gave the shinigami woman a smile. Rangiku slowly released her.

"Good. Now we should probably get back home, before Captain Hitsugaya calls everyone with the news that we've both been abducted by a vicious arrancar that likes to rape pretty girls... or something like that." Rangiku said with a soft laugh, Orihime was smiling wider now.

"Yeah. Let's go." Orihime said cheerfully. Her and Rangiku began the walk back to her apartment together. They hadn't even talked about it all yet, but Orihime already seemed more at ease.

Orihime smiled faintly as she opened her front door. Her and Rangiku entered silently and proceeded into the main room of the apartment. Toshiro Hitsugaya appeared before the two of them just as they were sitting on the floor.

"Lieutenant Matsumoto, where did you disappear to at this time of night? You do realize the danger we face, the fact that the arrancar could attack at any moment." The young captain of Division 10 spoke in a stern manner to his subordinate officer.

"Relax, Captain, you don't have to worry so much, I can hold my own if I have to. Besides it was Orihime's idea to go off wandering and not mine." Rangiku said in an informal sigh.

"I'm not sure any of us understand what we're truly up against. We must use caution and avoid becoming separated." Toshiro said in a somewhat cold way.

"In that case I'm following orders perfectly, Captain. Orihime goes out all by herself, and dutifully I decide to follow her and keep her safe." The Division Ten lieutenant said in a somewhat haughty fashion.

"The correct thing to do would have been to stop her from leaving in the first place." Captain Hitsugaya asserted in a forthright way.

"But sometimes us pretty girls need time to our selves to think about our troubles. I wasn't going to deny my dear friend Orihime that precious time alone where she could ponder her great misfortune." Matsumoto sounded downright showy now.

"What's troubling Inoue?" Toshiro asked his subordinate in a curious fashion.

"Captain, you can be so rude sometimes. She's right here in front of you." Rangiku said with a short scowl.

"What's troubling you, Inoue?" Toshiro reluctantly rephrased his question well giving a hard glare at his division's lieutenant.

"Umm, well… it's kinda personal. I'm sorry." Orihime asserted in an apologetic way.

"She's going to tell me though. I'm going to help make all of Orihime's worries go away." Rangiku near boasted.

"Okay. I suppose I'll just head outside for a bit. I'll stay close in case they come tonight." Hitsugaya said in a cool way before walking out of the apartment, presumably to go up to the roof where he would fall asleep while frantically anticipating some colossal arrancar attack.

"He's out of the way now. So why don't we talk, Orihime?" Rangiku said in the fashion of a big sister.

"Alright." Orihime nodded.

"So what's this problem that seems to be troubling you?" Rangiku asked.

Orihime took a deep breath. She cleared her throat before laying the full of her problem on her friend, "Well you see… I really like this one guy but I'm so scared. I don't think I'm ready to say anything to him just yet. But it's beginning to seem like he's become really close with this other girl. I can't really tell how serious they are but she's closer to him now than I ever have been, and I'm just scared I'll fall behind. But she's my friend too and I want to feel gratitude for her and well I'm so weak now. I can't do anything. I can't help him, I can't help the ones I care about. I'm useless. Without Tsubaki I can't even fight hollows on my own. I just wish I could have things like they were before."

Rangiku's eyes went wide as she tried to take this in, with a short laugh she joked, "Gee, is that all Orihime? You don't have more you want to hit me with?"

"No that's pretty much it." Orihime assured, giving her own awkward half laugh at herself, noticing how short on breath she had become.

"Do you really think Ichigo and Rukia have gotten that close?" Rangiku said in a doubtful sigh.

Orihime gasped. She blushed as she asked hesitantly, "H-How'd you know I was…, that it was about them…?"

"Come on girl, I know you like Ichigo, and there really aren't that many girls around him to choose from…" Rangiku said with a shrug.

"Well, Rangiku… d-did you ever notice it?" Orihime posed a new question in an even shyer manner.

"I admit they do have a real chemistry between them. Not to mention this is the second time they've lived together in the same house." Rangiku said in a relaxed manner, smiling warmly so the looks of anxiety growing on the human girl's face did not grow so fast.

"But I'm sure they sleep in different rooms and everything. It's not like anything is really going on between them." Orihime said in a forthright, defensive manner.

"Probably not. Then again you can't ever really for sure trust someone. You may think you know them, you may think that no matter how it looks they'll always come through for you in the end, you may think they'll always be there for you, you may think you can really trust someone only to have them end up betraying you so completely." Rangiku gave a somber sigh as a reflective look crept into her eyes. She smiled faintly as she laid back onto the floor.

"Don't tell me that Rangiku! You're supposed to help me. I love him… b-but, but, I… it just is so painful." Orihime said in a broken way with tears. Rangiku extended a hand and pulled the other girl down to the floor with her.

Slowly Rangiku pushed herself closer to Orihime, positioning that girl's head atop her voluminous bust, she said in a light coo, "These oversized mountains attached to my chest aren't good for that much, but they'll at least make for a soft, cushiony pillow."

Orihime thought for a moment it was awkward and that she should probably move away. However, Rangiku was right; it was soft… and warm. She didn't want to move anywhere.

"Let me tell you something, Orihime. Love isn't supposed to be painful. Sure, when you love someone with all your heart and then you lose them forever, that really hurts, but the love itself isn't supposed to." Rangiku began to speak in sincere, vulnerable way. She added more lightly, "Love is supposed to feel good. It's supposed to make you happy."

Orihime thought a moment. Happiness: had loving Ichigo ever really brought her happiness? When it was just an innocent crush Orihime had been happy. It hadn't got in the way of anything yet. Back then loving Ichigo took a backseat to having fun with Tatsuki and her friends. But ever since she had in her mind determined the truth of her feelings, ever since she had first became convinced that what she felt was real love, and ever since she had started to weigh her feelings against the feelings she perceived of others, this love had robbed her of her happiness.

"If I don't want it to hurt, what should I do, Rangiku?" Orihime asked innocently, snugling against the other woman.

"If you don't think you're ready to love Ichigo you could always redirect your love to someone else." Rangiku said earnestly, placing an arm around Orihime. She then added intensely, "Quick, name the ten people closest to you!"

Orihime responded quite cheerfully to the challenge, saying the name in high succession, "Tatsuki, Rangiku, Rukia, Chizuru, Michiru, Mahana, Ryo, Uryu Ishida, Chad, and Yoruichi."

"So aside form the glasses nerd and the big quiet guy all your closest friends are girls?" Rangiku said in a long way with a look of surprise.

"Yeah, I guess so." Orihime gave a soft apologetic laugh.

Rangiku gave her own laugh before saying a completely serious fashion, both her hands began to rub gently at Orihime's stomach, "I suppose that's not a bad thing if you're into that."

"What do you mean, Rangiku?" Orihime asked, not quite following.

"Girl-love of course." Rangiku said, failing to withhold a laugh. She began to massage Orihime's stomach more intently, her hands moving upward.

Orihime gave a hard gasp, she said in a stutter with a light blush, "I-I'm not into t-that sorta thing, Rangiku…"

"Really, cause since I was number two on your list I was thinking maybe you should make me the target of this love of yours." Rangiku tried to keep a serious tone of voice but she was finding it hard to keep in her grin. She continued in a suggestive tone, "We could do all sorts of fun stuff together." She gave a sexy smile before grabbing hold of both of Orihime's breasts which she began to squeeze roughly, she said "Like this."

Orihime gave a slight shriek as she pulled herself away from her the woman's touch; she said in a flustered way with a heavy blush, "Rangiku… what, what are you doing?"

"Come now, Orihime, you know I'm not being serious. I'm only messing with you." Rangiku asserted with a friendly laugh that calmed the young girl as she too sat up.

"It's just Tatsuki always says 'it's wrong for two girls to do stuff like that together.'" Orihime said, effectively mimicking her best friend's stern tone, even though she was still blushing.

"I was just trying to lighten things up a bit. It's no fun when you're acting all gloomy." Rangiku said in a pout.

"I understand. You're a good friend Rangiku." Orihime said affectionately.

"So you're still set on Ichigo, then?" Rangiku chose to return to the prior conversation.

"Yeah, pretty much." Orihime sighed.

"If you want to be happy, you need to commit, Orihime. Even if you aren't ready to tell him how you feel, you have to at least spend time around him." Rangiku advised In a consoling tone.

"So what do you suggest I do?" Orihime asked introspectively.

"Ask him out tomorrow. Take him somewhere to spend time with you." Rangiku asserted in a certain way.

"Tomorrow? You really think I should do that? I mean recently I'm not sure Ichigo's really been in a mood to go places with anyone." Orihime said skeptically.

"Seeing you will brighten his mood for sure!" Rangiku said with enthusiasm.

"Um, but I'm not so sure… I somehow don't think this will work." Orihime continued to speak with visible doubt.

"Nonsense! Guys love going places with pretty girls. Being asked out by you will make his day, Orihime." Rangiku defended her wisdom steadfastly.

"Well… okay… I'll think about it…" Orihime said in obvious noncommittal.

"No you'll do it. Consider it an order from Rangiku Matsumoto, the all important, Lieutenant of Division 10 of the Gotei 13." Rangiku asserted commandingly, taking a haughty tone.

Orihime smiled, she acquiesced, giving a salute with her left hand as she said in a short reverent way, "Yes sir!"

"Good. That's settled then. It's probably time we got to bed now." Rangiku said in a controlling voice as she got to her feet.

"Alright. Thanks for helping me." Orihime said in gratitude as she jumped to her feet, giving the shinigami woman a short hug.

"No problem." Rangiku said with a soft grin.

Orihime was still a little nervous, a little sacred, and a little unsure about everything. It didn't hurt any more though. Talking to Rangiku had helped to take the pain away. Orihime felt at ease as she fell into a peaceful sleep that night.

A/N: That's how this story starts. Rangiku X Orihime is a cute pairing. It's a little tough to write them together seriously but I think I'll manage. I kinda hate having to use the depressed Orihime you see in the Arrancar arc instead of the crazy fun girl from early in the show but this is the only way I could think to do this pairing. This chapter may have seemed to have made things move to fast, but really what I was going for was just sorta touchy-feely teasing stuff that was entirely not romantic… at this point at least. Oh and in case your wondering about the timeframe, let me clarify, it takes place between the time when the shinigami (Hitsugaya, Rangiku, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Renji and Rukia) show up in the human world and their first battle against the arrancar. I realize that's a small window, but let's just say that period got extended for the purpose of this fic. Another thing I have to say is that I kinda hate having to include Hitsugaya in this fic since I really pretty much detest him. If I could have I would have avoided him (I succeeded in writing 16 Naruto fics without ever having to include Sasuke…), but he's pretty much necessary here.

Poll Results: By the time I post this chapter a new poll will probable be up so in case you missed it and were curious here are the results of my reader poll. 34 total votes

1st place: Rangiku Matsumoto X Orihime Inoue: 8 votes.

2nd place: Kukaku Shiba X Rukia Kuchiki: 5 votes.

2nd place: Rukia Kuchiki X Kiyone Kotetsu: 5 votes

4th place: Chizuru Honsho X Orihime Inoue: 4 votes

4th place: Soi Fon X Momo Hinamori: 4 votes

4th place: Rangiku Matsumoto X Momo Hinamori: 4 votes

7th place: Tatsuki Arisawa X Chizuru Honsho: 3 votes

8th Place: Momo Hinamori X Nemu Kurotsuchi: 1 vote

It was spread out a lot more evenly then I would have guessed. The winner only got 23 percent of the total vote. Looking at the results it looks as if after this fic I'm gonna have to do something with Rukia; both the second place pairings feature her. I really like the poll feature and plan on using it a lot in the future (not just for decisions about my fanfiction but just for fun as well). When I conducted my own polls through reviews I'd be lucky if I got 11 or 12 responses, here I have the opinion of 34 people (or I suppose potentially one person with 34 accounts). Anyways, thanks for reading chapter 1; review and come back for the second chapter when it's posted.