Jeez, this series just keeps growing! And I never actually intended to write an IshiHime for L&F, but the amazing Philyra requested IshiHIme, and I left it for a while (months) and then today it bunnied me!
Okay, so this is a multi-chapter installment of the Lost And Found series. It is the first, chronologically, and as such has no real spoilers.
A note on Truth or Dare – I've not stopped writing this. It's just that Philyra designed Momo's bankai and Shuuhei's entire zanpakuto for me and she deserves to get her fic asap.
So, Philyra, this is for you. You're unbelievably fantastic, as a reader, writer and bankai designer! I hope this is what you wanted!
The Winter War (which had lasted considerably longer than a winter) had been won, presumably by the right side, but it wasn't over yet. A great deal of Karakura had been destroyed in the process and before it could be returned to its proper dimension, it had to be rebuilt. Those who couldn't be ordered into helping out had been bullied or guilted and as a result the restoration was going smoothly.
Except for today. Valentine's Day. In light of the holiday, all work on Karakura Town had halted as the shinigami and their various associates took a break.
Unlike most single people, Uryū didn't see much point in hating Valentine's Day. Instead, he found it rather amusing to watch Kurosaki shuffle uncomfortably in his seat as a large number of smiling, chatting female shinigami came blushing up to him and thrust chocolate in his face. Being the good friend he was, Uryū carefully noted down the name of each girl so Kurosaki could pay them back in kind on White Day.
Rukia, far from being outraged at the fact that other females were giving her lover chocolate, was in fact sitting next to the substitute shinigami and as each new gift was presented she took the previous one from the desk and tucked it into an already bulging backpack.
Uryū didn't think he'd ever understand those two. He was certain, however, that he didn't want to.
It took most of the Quincy's self control not to jump at the unexpected sound of Orihime's voice. He still wasn't used to her using his first name and was nowhere near ready enough to call the girl by hers.
"Y-yes, Inoue-san?" he stuttered, pushing up his glasses. The flash of light always set him at ease.
She pouted at him and his heart nearly stopped. "I thought I asked you to call me Orihime?" She frowned absently. "Or did I forget?"
That was something she'd been oddly insistent about once the fighting had stopped and she had destroyed the Hōgyoku. Uryū had noticed that she tended to forget her name if people stopped using it. Despite this, he had not yet managed to work himself up to calling her Orihime anywhere but in his head yet. It was too…intimate.
"Ah, no! No you didn't forget, I just…" he trailed off and sighed. "Never mind. What was it that you wanted?"
She flashed the thousand-watt grin at him and he had to remind himself to breathe.
"To give you this, Uryū-kun!" She held out a large package. It was then he noticed the sack slung over her back. No doubt she had enough home-made chocolate in there for all her acquaintances. Uryū took savage pleasure in the fact that his package was bigger than Kurosaki's.
"Thank you, Inoue-san."
She frowned at him. "It's Orihime."
Thankfully he was saved from having to reply to that by Hinamori Momo appearing out of nowhere, cheeks flushed like she'd been running.
"Orihime-san! Rangiku has come out of her room!"
Uryū saw the disbelief flicker faintly behind Orihime's warm eyes before the girl clasped her hands to her chest, face suffused with hope. "Really? Is she all right?"
He had to look away. The ridiculous tight feeling in his chest eased a little, but not much.
"Well…she's still pretending like nothing's wrong, but—"
Matsumoto Rangiku, who hadn't been seen in public in the sixth months since Uryū had taken down the last Espada, bounced into view. Her face was a little drawn, eyes a little dull but the most shocking change had to be her hair – previously waist length, she'd chopped it so it just brushed her shoulders.
"Rangiku-san!" Orihime cried and the two women crashed into each other. Uryū took advantage of the girl's distraction to slip away outside, taking his chocolate with him.
"You sure handled that well."
Uryū jumped about a foot in the air. His excuse this time was that everyone had been jumpy since the war, but he didn't bother saying it aloud – Yoruichi wouldn't have believed him anyway.
The woman, in her cat form, jumped down from the tree branch she'd been perched on to balance on his shoulder.
"Hello, Yoruichi-san," he greeted her flatly,
"Jeez tone it down a little would you? Your enthusiasm is embarrassing," she dead-panned. "Scratch my chin."
He obliged, knowing he risked his eyeballs being clawed out if he didn't. "Was there any reason you were spying on us, Yoruichi-san, or were you just bored?" he enquired.
She yawned, and he shied away from her breath. "Was it a private event?"
"Well – no, not really."
"Then I wasn't spying. Walk that way – I need to visit Kisuke."
He sighed, but obeyed nonetheless.
"Anyway, I heard that Rangiku was up and about and figured she'd hunt down Orihime sooner or later. Seeing as that girl's almost always near you in one way or another, I thought I'd pay a visit. You're quite good at hiding your feelings you know."
Uryū choked on air, something he'd seen Kurosaki do frequently but hadn't fully experienced for himself. He probably could have done without it. "I'm sure I don't know," he managed to gasp out.
Yoruichi's tail thumped his back once or twice as she chuckled unsympathetically. "I'm still a spy, Uryū, regardless of whether or not I was spying. You're good at hiding the way you feel, but not that good."
"I really don't—"
"Uryū, shut up. I'm not stupid and, all evidence to the contrary, neither is Orihime."
"I was never under the impression that Inoue-san was stupid," he replied stiffly.
"Of course not. You're in love with the girl and love is blind."
"Tell me you didn't feel like your world was falling apart when you heard Orihime had been kidnapped. Tell me that you wouldn't – that you didn't, nearly – give your life for hers, and then maybe I'll believe you." She licked a paw, balancing precariously. "Hmm, no reply? Why am I not surprised?"
It was his deepest secret, and the only one he couldn't hide from. He lived, breathed his love for Inoue Orihime. Yoruichi was quite right when she'd said he'd nearly died for her.
Orihime had been one of the vital keys to the war effort. While Kurosaki had battled Aizen, Urahara stole the Hōgyoku. The ragged remains of the Hueco Mundo rescue crew, near-broken by the death of Renji at Ichimaru's hands, had formed up to protect Orihime as she rejected the very existence of the Hōgyoku.
Ichimaru died. Tousen died. Aizen died, and still the war raged on regardless until, three weeks after Orihime had commenced the destruction of the Hōgyoku, Ulquiorra broke through.
The Fourth Espada was exhausted, but so was everyone else. Uryū had been the only one to see him prepare to give the killing strike and there had been no thought as he leapt in front of Orihime, taking the hit and just barely managing to return his own. Bare moments later, the Hōgyoku ceased to exist and the war…fell apart.
Orihime had berated him mercilessly even as she healed him. He had forgotten about her shield, which would have been able to sustain one hit at least before disintegrating, giving him the time to strike back without risking death.
Uryū had stayed silent throughout the lecture, terrified that if he opened his mouth, the truth would spill out.
It would have been worth it to protect you.
"Oi! Uryū! Quite daydreaming!"
He blinked, and promptly blushed, quite suddenly remembering where he was and what he was doing. Yoruichi head-butted his cheek, purring in amusement.
"You're an idiot, you know that?"
He probably was, but he sure as hell wasn't going to admit that to Yoruichi.
"Yoruichi-san…" He coughed, embarrassed. Mortified, even. "Could you not…could you not inform Inoue-san of my…feelings?"
The cat-woman chuckled, leaping off his shoulder. "She already knows, Uryū."
I hope you enjoyed!