Title: yakusoku – part one
Author: Araine
Characters: Ishida Uryuu, Inoue Orihime, some Kurosaki Ichigo
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 488
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo-sensei.
Notes: The first in a seven-part series of short-shots, centering around Ishida, Orihime, and the promises that they make to each other. The pieces at the beginning are parts of one version of the Tanabata myth. The title is "yakusoku", which means promise.

Once upon a time, the weaving princess Orihime came down to earth, where she stopped to ask directions from a young cowherd who lived in a nearby village. The young man's name was Hikoboshi, and he was very alone.

Because he was so alone, Orihime fell in love with Hikoboshi. As chance would have it, Hikoboshi had fallen in love with Orihime. Soon they were married, and for a time they lived happily.

Ishida is the first one through the door to the grand hall in Hueco Mundo.

He is inside in an instant, using hirenkyaku, so fast that she can't see him until he already has his back turned to face the incoming Arrancar. There is a grim set to his eyes, but she can swear that she sees a reassuring look shot back to her before his glasses flash once, and he turns to face the threat.

An avenging Seele Schneider rests in his hand-

(like Excalibur or Kusanagi no Tsurugi or any other sword out of legend)

-and he stands there between her and danger without so much as a flinch or a sign of fear. She watches this and trembles because he is (beautifulchivalrousdaringheroic) going to get himself killed.

She will hate herself if he does, if she can't manage to save him.

And he knows (he knows her so well, too well, better than she knows herself) this, and still he stands there, an image of solidarity, between her and death, and it is breathtaking even as it is terrifying that he will die here and it will be her fault.

Although moments later, Kurosaki comes blasting through the door, black blade of Tensa Zangetsu at the ready. She smiles then, a wide sincere smile,-

(because he is no longer terrifying, because his eyes no longer are hidden by the mask of a Hollow, because he is Kurosaki-kun again)

-because everything is going to be alright now.

And then the rest of them appear – Rukia and Sado and Renji – and she wants to cry tears of happiness to see them alive and unhurt even while she knows that she should be strong and help them somehow.

They have come for her, and she owes them enough without making them protect her, and she has been enough of a burden already.

But the battle is pitched confusion, and she can't do much to help. She uses Tsubaki to the best of his ability, golden shield of Santen Kesshun surrounding her body, but that doesn't stop her from getting knocked off of her feet to fall a dizzying distance. As she falls, she hears Kurosaki's roar that Ishida – the closest – grab her, although he is already moving, and in moments his hands steady her shoulders.

It is a familiar gesture (comfortable and easy and maybe even right) and she gives him a breathless shocked look before thanking him, in the best way she knows how.

"It's nothing," he gives his standard response.

She knows that it's not.

"Ishida-kun is always there for me," she tells him, a little bit emphatically – maybe then he'll believe her – "Every time I need saving, it always seems to be Ishida-kun who is there."

He gives her an indecipherable look, and replies in a soft voice, "As long as you need it, I'll be there for you, Inoue-san."

She smiles.

It is splendid.