A/N: Final chapter. This one's kinda cute. Hope you like it. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: Japanese is a confusing language. (I do not own Bleach).
It was early morning in Karakura town; Ichigo Kurosaki glared spitefully at the hollow in front of him. It was a powerful one; perhaps the most powerful hollow he had ever faced. It was a true Menos Grande of the highest power, a Vasto Lorde. It was a humanoid shape, roughly nine feet tall and incredibly muscular. It's skin was a dark dull gray, and seemed layered in a fashion similar to plate armor; it had two horns at the top of its head, giving it the appearance of some sort of demon. Its pale white mask had on either side of it several vent like gashes and its eyes seemed to burn with evil from behind its mask
"Foolish shinigami., tremble in fear at my awesome might!" The hollow said in a deep booming voice before giving out an intense maniacal laugh.
"Like hell! I'm not about to back down!" Ichigo retorted fiercely as he gripped his sword Zangetsu tightly. He charged forward in attack.
"Then prepare to die!" The Menos said with dark certainty as it raised its hand. Zangetsu's blade and Ichigo along with it came to a perfect halt when it touched the hollow's palm.
The hollow laughed once more as it removed its hand from the zanpakuto and in a single motion of its wrist delivered an impressively powerful punch to the young shinigami's chest, sending him flying several feet back into a nearby wall, which cracked from impact. Ichigo slumped to the ground. He stumbled as he got to his feet once more.
"You're certainly a tough one…" Ichigo admitted with a pained grunt. He worked to collect himself, eventually returning to a firm stance. He made a large slash through the air with his zanpakuto as he shouted, "Getsuga Tensho!"
A giant crescent wave of energy flew from Ichigo's sword in the hollow's direction. The hollow continued to howl with mad laughter as it once more raised its hand to block the shinigami's attack. Its hand shook a little but it had soon deflected the giant energy blast completely, redirecting its course into a nearby tree.
"Is this really all there is to a shinigami's power? I see now I was right after all…" The powerful hollow said with obvious madness.
"Oh, and what exactly is this you had to be right about?" Ichigo said, deep frustration was on his face. He didn't want to be forced to use his Bankai. He didn't want that power he couldn't control to awaken within him once more.
"I have lived for millennia in the depths of Hueco Mundo. My power is absolute. Yet that shinigami appears and whispers promises of even greater power in our ears. That is why I am here, foolish shinigami, I will prove that I do not need that fool's power, that the power I possess is more than enough to destroy the useless humans and shinigami." The hollow spoke in its usual bellow, its word were prideful and disgusting.
"Well then I'll just have to stop you now!" Ichigo shouted as he charged forth once more in attack. He was going to try one more time at bringing it down before deciding to use his Bankai.
The hollow didn't raise its hand to break the attack this time, instead it simply inhaled. As Ichigo's sword came inches before its mask a strange gas began to spew from the vents on that mask. Slowly afterward Ichigo's attack lost all momentum; he ran straight into the hollow, bouncing off of it painfully and landing lifelessly on the floor. He was paralyzed, completely unable to move.
The hollow gave another laugh as it looked at one of its hands now. It gave a sort of grunt as it used its other hand to refigure a section of its plate like skin. In moments its arm now had the shape of a large sword. The Vasto Lorde held a look of delight in its eyes as it held the bladed appendage high above the paralyzed shinigami. Then with great force and speed the hollow swung the sharp edge in Ichigo's direction laughing as it prepared to see its enemy cleaved in two.
Ichigo wasn't ready to let himself just die though. No, he was Ichigo. He would inevitably survive anything and only become stronger. He would just have to put everything he had into it, release all his power, and then, then this hollow would be history. He began to feel his power build, he was just about able to shout out; the word "Bankai" was just about to escape his lips. .
But the word never did leave. He had been distracted by someone else's words, and soon his own had become pointless. A familiar feminine voice had shouted in a strong tone, "Reject his will, Hyakka no Tenshun!"
Suddenly a thin barrier had appeared in front of Ichigo in the direct path of the hollow's blade. When the attack hit this shield, which glowed brightly a various array of colors, it was stopped completely, the hollows arm even being forced back in recoil, the armor like skin around it beginning to crack.
"What the hell is this?!" The hollow exclaimed, infuriated. He stared angrily at the protective shield which seemed to have an irregular shape specifically made to have blocked the entire force of the attack from reaching Ichigo. The hollow then turned to look around the area for where the shield and that voice had come from. Slowly out of the shadows emerged the responsible shinigami.
"I won't let you hurt Ichigo anymore!" Orihime Inoue asserted toughly as she walked forward holding the barren hilt of a sword. Soon the shield had disappeared and Orihime's zanpakuto regained its lustrous blade.
"O-Orihime...?" Ichigo said in a low voice, just as shocked as the hollow was. He hadn't seen the girl as he was face down, completely unable to move, but he had recognized the voice. He wasn't able to ask any other questions though, as he had still yet to free himself from his current situation.
"So, just as I am about to exterminate one shinigami, another of the vermin rushed to its rescue? I suppose I will have to destroy you first, girl!" The hollow shouted caustically, pressuring its bladed arm to close the cracks.
"You just try it! I'm not scared!" Orihime declared bravely, standing the powerful hollow down without even the slightest quiver.
"Die shinigami scum!" The Vasto Lorde screamed as it leapt at the female shinigami with surprising speed. Orihime merely steadied her sword as she faced the beast down with confidence in her eyes.
"Reject all space, Hyakka no Tenshun!" Orihime shouted as she thrust her zanpakuto forward at the giant hollow that was lunging at her. The blade of the sword transformed into a bright, somewhat large pulse of rainbow colored light that flew straight through the enemy before disappearing after a relatively short distance. As Hyakka no Tenshun regained its material shape, the hollow which had been cleaved cleanly in half began to quickly disintegrate into nothing.
"Excellent work Orihime. That hollow's spiritual energy was through the roof, yet it was dispatched just a readily as all the others." Said another feminine voice as another woman stepped out of the shadows.
"Yup! Being a shinigami is easy!" Orihime declared with a smile as she turned toward Ichigo. She walked toward the still paralyzed male shinigami until she was just above him. She turned him over so as he could see something besides the ground below. His eyes filled with disbelief when he finally saw the girl who had just saved him: Orihime Inoue, clad in a typical shihakusho wielding her very own zanpakuto
"Reject all time, Hyakka no Tenshun!"Orihime used yet another release command as she stabbed her zanpakuto, which began to glow brightly at the words, into Ichigo; slowly the male shinigami's nervous system regained its normalcy, and his cuts and bruises began to disappear completely.
"What the hell is going on here?!" Ichgo demanded at once, deeply disturbed, confused, and maybe a little ashamed of himself.
"Well, Ichigo, Orihime and I were in the area and she thought it would be best to help you with that hollow." The other woman, who Ichigo soon recognized as being Yoruichi Shihoin said as she walked up to the other two.
"Okay... but why is she wearing that?! And why does she have a sword?!" Ichigo yelled as if it was the most impossibly odd thing he had ever seen.
"I thought all shinigami wore these things and had zanpakuto..." Orihime said bewildered at the other's reaction as she examined her sword and robe.
"Since when are you a shinigami, Orihime?!" Ichigo contained to fire off insistent questions.
"I'd say it's been about a week now, right Yoruichi?" Orihime said in deep thought. The other nodded.
"B-but how did you- no why did you become a shinigami?" Ichigo seemed somehow deeply disturbed.
"Because I wanted more power..." Orihime said in a dark tone, giving a deep over the top laugh.
"What's going on here?!" Ichigo was even more lost.
"Orihime came to me with hopes of becoming a shinigami, so as she wouldn't have to rely on the strength of others, so as she could learn to fight for herself." Yoruichi gave Ichigo a straight answer and for once he seemed willing to calm down.
"A-alright... but I didn't know that anyone could just become a shinigami like that." Ichigo stared at Orihime blankly, unsure what to think or say.
"But you became a shinigami, Ichigo." Yoruichi reminded the other with a smirk.
"Well yeah... but... Orihime? I find it odd someone like her could do it. You can't expect me to believe Urahara put her through the same training he did me and she survived?" Ichigo seemed hopelessly doubtful, as if he wouldn't believe for a second that Orihime was shinigami if the proof wasn't right in front of him.
"No, Orihime underwent a special program designed especially for her by myself." Yoruichi informed with a faint smile.
"Oh. Well that's actually quite an accomplishment, Yoruichi." Ichigo said, impressed.
"Yeah. You should have seen the look on Kisuke's face when I showed him the success we had. He just couldn't believe it." Yoruichi trailed into a healthy laugh. "But really, my program was only successful because Orihime wanted to succeed so badly."
"Cool. So what turned out to be the secret in making her into a shinigami?" Ichigo asked now actually curious.
"Hard work, determination, getting stabbed with a sword, robots, and lots and lots of love!" Ichigo received his answer straight from the source herself. Orihime had made an enthusiastic motion of her fist as she had spoke.
"Oh... I see..." Ichigo looked as if he honestly had no idea what to make of this. "Would you agree to this... assessment, Yoruichi...?"
"Pretty much. Especially when it comes to the love part." Yoruichi said in a relaxed voice.
"Love, huh? That's the emotion out need to target to really get to Orihime then, I guess?" Ichigo spoke seeming to understand that it made perfect sense.
"I love Yoruichi more than anything ever!" Orihime suddenly decided to declare seemingly at random. Yoruichi gave a cute blush.
"What?!" Ichigo said in raised voice once more completely taken aback.
"That's sweet, Orihime. You know I feel the same way…" Yoruichi said sweetly, flashing a loving smile at the one most precious to her.
"Wait! You aren't… you guys aren't talking about something strange… you know… like… you and her…." Ichigo was still shocked but now looked slightly uncomfortable as well.
"That is indeed what we are talking about Ichigo. Orihime and I have entered into a romantic relationship with one another." Yoruichi clarified causing the young man's jaw to gape wide open.
"Since when are either of you into that sort of thing?!" Ichigo asked not containing his striking disbelief in the slightest.
"Well if you remember, Ichigo, I always was pretty casual about letting you see me naked. If I was interested in men do you think I could be so relaxed with something like that?" Yoruichi asked slyly causing the blonde shinigami to disappear into reflective thought.
"But… I just thought that was how you are…" Ichigo said still finding it also peculiar.
"Yeah, Yoruichi. You acted the same casual way with me before we fell in love, and I'm a girl…" Orihime seemed to even have her doubts about the argument her lover was using.
"No believe me. Even if it seemed the same my thought process was really quite different. With you Ichigo, I was always just after a reaction… and to make you as uncomfortable as possible. You, on the other hand, Orihime, I wanted to show myself off to, I wanted you to look at me." Yoruichi explained in an offhand manner.
"But what about you, Orihime? I wouldn't have thought… you'd be into this?" Ichigo asked, still refusing to believe it all.
"For Yoruichi I am!" Orihime declared brightly giving a healthy nod.
"A-alright… I still can't believe…. The two of you… actually together…." Ichigo said disjointedly as he stared at the two beautiful women in front of him as they smiled lovingly while gazing into one another's eyes.
"Tell me, which is harder to believe: our love or Orihime being a shinigami?" Yoruichi asked curious as to the response she'd get.
Ichigo's stare found Orihime once more. It was still so jarring to see his bubbly airhead classmate clad in a black robe holding a katana. It wasn't a hard choice. "Probably this whole shinigami thing, I'd say."
"But isn't it cool?! I mean look my outfit's just like yours… and don't you think my Zanpakuto is so pretty?" Orihime said with clear energy as she held her sword before the other shinigami.
"It's nice… I guess… Hyakka no Tenshun, was it?" Ichigo said as he examined the blade, a fairly long ornamental katana with a large hilt and thick silvery edge.
"Yup. It was so cool wasn't it?!" Orihime didn't lose her enthusiastic fervor.
"I… didn't really see it in action exactly… so what can it do?" Ichigo said with a embarrassed laugh as he recalled the way the pavement had looked.
"Hyakka no Tenshun is unique in that it has three release commands. By using the command 'Reject his will' it can take the form of a protective barrier that can impede and repel any force. With the command 'Reject all space' Hyakka no Tenshun will transform into a pulsing wave of light that can cleave through anything and destroy it. Finally the command 'Reject all time' allows Orihime to restore a certain space to its condition prior to the occurrence of negative events in that space." Yoruichi gave a thorough analysis of the zanpakuto's abilities.
"Ummm… well… don't you think that kinda sounds… you know… exactly like the same exact powers Orihime had before….?" Ichigo asked unsteadily.
"Of course it is. A zanpakuto is the physical manifestation of the power of someone's spirit. Orihime's innate power is always going to be in essence the same whether she is able to materialize it as a zanpakuto or not." Yoruichi said with a soft laugh.
"So then... if it's the same power… what was the point exactly?" Ichigo said now somehow finding everything even odder.
"It's not really the same though. Previously Orihime didn't control her abilities. She used them by communicating with surrogate entities, the Shun Shun Rikka. Now, however, she is in direct control of those powers herself. She is able to control certain aspects of her techniques she wasn't able to before. With her shield she can control directly the shape, size and the location it forms. With her attack she is capable of directing its course and to a limited extent manipulating its radius and speed. On top of this, her abilities are all far less flimsy now, depending much less on her emotional state and well being. And this all mentioning nothing of the Bankai she still has to uncover." Yoruichi made an effective case for her lover's zanapkuto.
"Oh, that does sound better actually. And being able to destroy that hollow so quickly proves you're a force to be reckoned with now Orihime." Ichigo said finally returning to his usual cool.
"Yeah my new powers are great… though I kinda miss having all my little friends to talk to…." Orihime took a sad voice as she said this.
"You had to have realized they would disappear when you became a shinigami, Orihime." Yoruichi said in a stern fashion.
"Yeah I know. It's alright; I at least can talk to Hyakka no Tenshun herself now." Orihime said returning to her smile.
"Anyways, I think we'll be off now, Ichigo. Orihime still has Bankai training to work on." Yoruichi said in a relaxed voice as she prepared to depart with her beloved.
"Alright. Good luck with that Orihime… and congratulations on everything else… I guess." Ichigo said still looking a little out of it.
"Thanks Ichigo!" Orihime called out as she turned to walk away from the male shinigami along with her lover.
Orihime felt so happy as she walked beside Yoruichi; sheathing Hyakka no Tenshun as she did. She had been both a shinigami and Yoruichi's lover for a week now. For the first time in a long while she felt completely satisfied with her life.
"So, I'm sure that was probably the weirdest conversation Ichigo ever had." Yoruichi said with a light laugh as they walked.
"What exactly was so weird about it?" Orihime didn't follow in the slightest.
Yoruichi sighed, realizing it wouldn't have seemed odd to the other, she decided to change the conversation, "Never mind. I do have to commend you again on that fight though. Being able to destroy a powerful hollow like that is no simple feat. It seems I really unleashed a monster when I made you into a shinigami."
"I was pretty cool, wasn't I? I mean I never thought I'd ever be the one to save Ichigo. I must be really strong now, huh?" The bubbly shinigami girl said with a wide grin.
"Yes, Orihime, you are quite powerful now. I hope you understand what that means." The dark skinned woman took a serious tone as she said this.
"What do you mean, Yoruichi?' Orihime asked, allowing her voice to take a similar tone to the other.
"You remember what happened when we went to Soul Society, Orihime? As powerful as you are now, it is certain you'll be expected to take an active role in the battles that are to come." Yoruichi explained in a solemn way.
"Then I will fight. I'll do my best. I'll fight, and you'll be at my side, right, Yoruichi?" Orihime said in a strong voice.
"Of course. I may have spent a hundred years avoiding confrontation, but if it means being able to protect the woman I love, I'll charge head first into battle if I have to." Yoruichi said dutifully making Orihime feel warm inside.
Orihime stopped walking. Yoruichi turned to see why and Orihime had soon pulled her into a deep embrace. It lasted several moments before Orihime pulled back slightly to gaze into her beloved's beautiful yellow eyes. They kissed lovingly for several moments before splitting away.
"I love you Orihime, my beautiful, beautiful shinigami." Yoruichi said in a soft, warm voice as they parted and Orihime smiled radiantly.
"I'm happy. You make me so happy Yoruichi." Orihime said in a soft coo, unable to think clearly, the tone in either of their voices made it perfectly clear that Bankai training was not what was going to occur when they returned to the training grounds.
The two continued to walk at a brisker pace. Orihime was happier now than she ever had been before. She let her mind revisit the conclusion of the daydream that had preoccupied her a week ago. She remembered how the intense battle between the mermaids and robots had waged on for decades, how the Mermaid sorcerers had thought to summon zombie Thomas Jefferson to draft a peace resolution only to have him shot re-dead by Robot assassins. She remembered how the battle had raged even harder after that, so hard that the world had decided to explode, but that in the end the mermaids had been able to escape in their spaceship. She figured that what was happening to her right now was a lot like the Robot-Mermaid wars. She didn't really know how exactly, just that the Robot-Mermaid wars were fun to think about.
A/N: That's the conclusion. You have no idea how much trouble I had coming up with Orihime's zanpakuto name. Hyakka no Tenshun (百花の天盾) means (hopefully) something along the lines of "Heavenly shield of all flowers." I don't know Japanese in the slightest, so I was really pretty much going with random characters strung together. Hyakka apparently means "all varieties of flowers", and since the zanpakuto is a sort of fusion of all the Shun Shun Rikka (who are all named after various flowers) it seemed to make sense to me. I used the characters "Ten" and "Shun" as they are in all of Orihime's ability names. I hope it makes sense though I'm fairly certain it doesn't. I probably should have taken your offer for help with the zanpakuto name back after chapter 2, Rabukurafuto, even if I wasn't prepared to think about it just yet. Please tell me if this doesn't make sense and I'll try and change it to something that does. That said, I think this chapter was cute. In both the other Orihime fics I wrote I had Ichigo show up in the nick of time to rescue Orihime. Here I thought I'd let the opposite happen. I put Ichigo through some real awkward stuff there. The ending was pretty random here. Overall, even though this fic did very poorly in terms of reviews I really ended up liking it. In fact I'd say this is the first Bleach fic I've written where I've had sequel thoughts. Actually, I'd say chances are pretty good I'll do a sequel for this one in the near future. I have some great ideas for one and I doubt they'll just disappear.
But that's somewhat far off. The more immediate future holds something else. Namely Rangiku X Momo love. Yep, my next fic will be a Lt. Matusumoto X Lt. Hinamori yuri story. It was a close poll. Rangiku X Momo got 6 of 24 votes but Soi X Nemu was behind by only one with 5 votes. Retsu X Isane got 4, Soi X Momo got three and the other three choices all had two each. If my poll didn't make it obvious enough, I was tired of writing stories about Orihime and I was determined to write a story actually set in Seireitei. I'm happy this paring won. I'm a little curious as to why Nanao seems so unloved though; both her pairings didn't do so well and I always thought she was cute. Anyways, look forward to it.