I realised suddenly that if I wanted to get started on Ozymandias on top of all my other fics, at least one had to be completed. Then I watched the movie P.S I Love You and got so ridiculously inspired that I just had to finish CTT.
So! I really, really enjoyed writing this chapter. Before I leave you to read this story, I just have to remind you of the epicness of Philyra, who has in fact signed up to design all the of the zanpakuto for the Naruto characters in Ozymandias. Philyra, you're an angel and I hope this is everything you wanted.
There was only one place in Karakura Town big enough to hold the multitudes of shingami and their drunken partying, and Uryuu wasn't sure if he wanted to go there.
This…was far too many events to have happened in a single day. Just that morning he had been happily mocking Kurosaki as he struggled with some of the more irritating consequences of becoming a hero. Now, he was wandering the streets of a ghost town while the shingami (and a vaizard or two) celebrated life in the basement of Urahara Shouten.
He snorted aloud, not worrying about anyone hearing him. Even if they hadn't been floating in a different dimension, Uryuu had never been one for caring about what other people thought of him.
Oh, so is that the reason you're ignoring everyone calling you an idiot?
Uryuu scowled. If there was one person he'd always been able to count on, it was himself, but now it seemed like even the avenue of self-pity was closed to him.
He shook his head and sat down on the curb, listening to Arisawa's voice play over in his mind. When that door finally shuts, you have no idea how much it's going to hurt.
What door? What door? No one had told him there was a time limit on this sort of thing. He hadn't been aware that it was a race. Yet somehow everyone was convinced that he had to run to Orihime and declare his every lasting love right that instant otherwise everything would fall apart.
Why did all these people want him to be with her anyway? They all insisted he was an idiot in some way, and he wouldn't have been surprised to find that Arisawa hated him after what he'd said. Was it some obscure need to tie up loose ends that had these people pushing him towards the woman he loved? His scowl softened to a frown as he tried to figure it out.
It was as he sat there under the darkening sky that realised he'd never actually thought this thing through before. He had been relying on feelings, and Uryuu had never been one to take stock of feelings. Here he was, not even sure how to properly identify them, and basing all of his judgements on them? No wonder everyone was yelling at him.
First and foremost, Uryuu was an observer. He liked to watch things progress before he made a rational decision based on all the facts.
Orihime took that away from him.
Around her, he lost the cornerstone of his being and didn't care. He stopped thinking, but when he was with her that hardly mattered, because she was there to fall back on. When she wasn't there, however, he had to rely on his emotions. And, as he had just re-established to himself, Uryuu was no good with emotions.
This problem was like a tangled knot of…of life, made up of so many different threads that Uryuu didn't know which one to start unravelling first. There was no logic to this stupid feeling, even when he tried to logically sort through it.
So start at the beginning.
He sighed and closed his eyes in an effort to concentrate better. When he'd first started seeing Orihime in a different light, he'd assumed it was a crush. After all, he'd been fifteen at the time and intellectually, he knew that such things didn't last. Small comfort, as he watched her fall for the oblivious Kurosaki, who not only couldn't tell when someone was in love with him, but had no idea when he was in love himself.
Now, almost two years later, he was seventeen and jaded, lost in memories of a war that never should have happened. During the fighting, he'd been stupid enough to let go of that feeling, let the thread grow and wrap around his heart until it was indistinguishable from his very being. Of course, he hadn't been given a choice - all thought and energy had been directed at the war, concentrated on simply surviving, on making it through to the next day. In war, you clung to existence or you ceased to exist. So he'd allowed the crush to develop into this love because it reassured him that his fingers were still scrabbling at the edge. He was still holding on.
But the urgency of war was over now, and he was left with this feeling that he didn't understand and was too afraid to examine properly to get a better--
Uryuu's eyes snapped open and he stared widely, blindly, at the deserted road in front of him as he ran that sentence over in his mind again.
In the war feelings hadn't mattered, so whatever developed could be faced without fear because there were more important things to be concentrating on.
But the war was over now.
The war was over now.
He jerked to his feet, eyes skating around his surroundings. Somehow, he'd ended up outside the Kurosaki Clinic which meant he had to go right if he wanted to get to Urahara Shouten. He started to run, inwardly berating himself for being so stupid. He'd had people yelling it at him all day, and now he had good reason to believe it.
Yoruichi had said he was an idiot. Arisawa had called him all sorts of things. But it was what Matsumoto had said that was ringing in his ears now.
"Broken goods are of no use to anyone," he mocked himself out loud. Good lord. He was so melodramatic, he was turning into Asano. "No wonder she hit me."
The street lamps flickered on as the sky darkened. It was an eerie experience, running through the streets of his home town without the familiar sounds of neighbours chatting, dogs barking and Hollow shrieking.
He squinted ahead, hand twitching out of reflex as a shadow approached him at a run. It was, however, vaguely human shaped with no extraneous bits of bone that he could see, so he relaxed. It moved a little closer, and he came to an abrupt halt.
"Hey, Uryuu-kun," Orihime greeted him pleasantly, jogging up and down on the spot. "Have you seen Uryuu-kun? I was just wondering where - oh."
Thinking and acting, it turned out, were two entirely different things.
"I - uh…" He blinked rapidly , trying desperately to think of something to say. "Hello?"
She giggled a little, presumably at the imbecilic look on his face. "I was looking for you, Uryuu-kun. Are you not coming to the party?"
He shifted uncomfortably. "Um. Well…" He paused and tried again. "No."
"Oh." Orihime clasped her hands behind her back and fell into step with him. "So why were you running in that direction them? You're not being chased, are you?" She threw a worried look over her shoulder.
"I - no, I'm not being chased. I was…I was looking for you."
His breath caught pathetically as she looked cautiously up at him from beneath her lashes. "Me?" She laughed. "Why would you be looking for me?"
Uryuu swallowed, hard, heart in his throat. Thoughts. Definitely easier than actions. "Would you - would you walk with me, Orihime? There are some things I would like to speak of with you."
For one heart-wrenchingly awful moment he thought he'd done something wrong as she came to an abrupt halt and stared, wide-eyed.
"O-Orihime?" he stuttered, uncertain, and was nearly blinded by the brilliant smile that crossed her lips.
"You called me Orihime," she said softly, small hand reaching up to touch his check. Uryuu nearly stopped breathing. "Thank you."
Unable to speak, he nodded. The hand dropped, and they continued walking.
"What did you want to talk to me about, Uryuu-kun? Seeing as we're already walking."
Fear swamped him, but he tried to struggle through it nonetheless. "I…Orihime," he croaked. "Orihime." Surprisingly, saying her named helped him calm down a little. A little. "I wanted to - I wanted to say--"
The hand was on his cheek again, and then Uryuu's mind blanked out as Orihime stood on tiptoe and brushed her lips lightly, lightly against his. It could hardly be termed a kiss, but that didn't stop his heart nearly beating itself out of his chest.
Her mouth curled briefly against his before she dropped back to her feet. Her hand, however, remained briefly on his cheek before returning to it's former place behind her back, clasping the other.
Uryuu stood stock-still, afraid that if he moved, he'd wake up. Orihime, who was carefully studying the ground, glanced shyly at him from the corner of her eye and started to giggle.
His affronted pride granted him the ability to speak again. "What's so funny?"
She giggled again. "Uryuu-kun looks like a fish," she declared, pulling a face.
He stared at her before the inanity of that look affected him and he laughed, startled.
Orihime spoke again before he got a chance too. "Uryuu-kun…do you mind if I speak first?"
Uryuu wasn't sure if he'd be able to get the words out even if he could remember what he had meant to say. "Of course, Orihime."
She shot him another smile, presumably at the use of her name, before starting walk again. Stumbling a little, he fell into step.
"When I was in Hueco Mundo," she started. "Ulquoirra and Grimmjow only ever called me 'woman'." Her nose wrinkled and Uryuu's hands twitched involuntarily. "And when people call you things, it's hard to remember what you were called before, you know? And then Aizen would use my name, but when he said it, it became his. It wasn't my name anymore, it belonged to him, and I didn't want to belong to him."
Uryuu wasn't entirely sure where this was going, but he had the feeling that a killing rage wouldn't be appreciated, so he thrust down the hot-boiling emotion.
"So when you all came for me and the war really started, I asked you all to call me Orihime. Mostly everyone was too hurried and worried and scared to remember to be formal anyway, but Uryuu-kun never listened." She cocked her head to the side, regarding the road ahead. "Or maybe you did."
"Shush." He blinked, but fell silent. "After the war, I wanted to tell Uryuu-kun how I felt about him." She gave him another one of those sidelong looks before turning her face forward again. "But you still wouldn't call me by my name, and I wondered for a while if Uryuu-kun didn't like me. Then I realised I was being silly, because Uryuu-kun died to save me. So I thought about it some more before I figured out that Uryuu-kun was scared."
He winced, but didn't say anything. What did you say to the truth?
"So, I decided that when Uryuu-kun was brave enough to use my name, I would be brave enough to tell him how I feel." Orihime stopped walking again and turned to look expectantly at him.
"And…how do you feel, Orihime?" he asked quietly, finding it difficult to speak past the heart in his throat.
She frowned, looking confused. "I kissed you," she pointed out.
"Well, yes," he spluttered. "But that could mean--"
A small fist wrapped in the front of his shirt and pulled him down. Orihime looked him straight in the eye before removing his glasses and kissing him full on the mouth. No mere brushing of lips, this.
As kissing went, it probably could have been better, but Uryuu could honestly say that he didn't give a damn. He could deal with the awkward bumping of noses if it meant his arms could drift down her sides and anchor at her waist, holding her. He could live with the slightly uncomfortable clacking of teeth if it meant that her hands would stay secured behind his neck and twined in his hair.
Hell, he could even live with it ending if it meant that he could keep the memory safe forever.
"I love you," he blurted as she pulled away, looking about as dazed as he felt. "I - you were right, I was afraid. The war, and - and feelings - and I really didn't know what to do about it all and I thought you'd be better off without me. I'm sorry. I was scared. I love you."
She smiled at him, face still ridiculously close. His hands were still at her hips and hers were still cradling his head. Reaching up on one leg, she kissed him on the nose before replacing his glasses and smiling wider.
"I love you too," Orihime announced, letting go of him all at once and twirling slightly around in a circle. "I love you…like I love red bean paste."
He raised his eyebrows and smiled a little himself. "Oh?"
"Yep." She grabbed his hand. "What do you love me like?"
There was no adequate comparison.
"I love you like I love Orihime," he told her.
She pouted, and it still had the ability to stop his heart. "That's not fun. C'mon! Think of something interesting."
"All right." He decided to humour her. "I love you…like I love annoying Kurosaki."
She gasped, delighted, and threw her arms around him. "You do love me!"
The next day Uryuu handed over a list of meticulously printed names - the women who had given the substitute chocolate - to Kurosaki and smirked, watching as his friend spluttered in rage while Rukia laughed herself sick.
Perched on his knee, Orihime beamed.
Right! Well! I do you all enjoyed, and there's aother part of the L&F series, done! I'll be able to concentrate on ToD a little more, and when that's done we come back in the past to where it all began - cricketchick1990's ten chapter IchiRuki, which will not only come closer to their relationship than we've seen in the series so far, but will also detail the fact about the L&F Winter War.
Thanks for reading!