Title: yakusoku – part seven
Author: Araine
Characters: Inoue Orihime, Ishida Uryuu
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 742
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo-sensei.
Notes: The final part of my 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, and were written by me. The title is "yakusoku", which means promise. It's Tanabata, and here is the end of this fic! It's definitely been fun writing it. The part where everything comes full circle and ties together! IshiHime forever!

Orihime wept bitterly, for it seemed she would never see her beloved Hikoboshi again. But the king felt sorry, for he hated to see his daughter sad. He arranged for the moon to ferry Orihime across the waters of the river.

He allows them to meet once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month. On this day only can they cross that great river in the sky, and they will do so for eternity, until the stars burn down out of the sky. But until that day they will continue to meet – making promises and granting wishes.

Ishida awakes, and wonders how he is even alive.

He thought, for sure, he would be dead. Or maybe he has already journeyed over to Soul Society, and that is why the bed he is lying on feels so reassuringly solid.

He opens his eyes with a deliberateness to his movements, determined that if this is death, he will face it with dignity. That plan spirals when he wakes up to the wide gray eyes of Inoue Orihime staring him in the face, and he nearly fall off the bed.

She smiles so widely, he cannot but doubt that she is happy, even as the tears spring so readily to her eyes. And then suddenly she has leapt forward and is kissing him, over and over and over again, and the taste of her mouth is so delectable (like pumpkin and spices and something he can't place his finger on) he decides that he is indeed dead.

He doesn't really mind so much, even if there is a nagging disappointment-

(why is she here with him?)

-but that is pushed to the back of his mind as he begins responding to her enthusiasm equally. He has done this a thousand times in his imagination, although now it is so much more visceral, more real, because while he imagined the softness of her perfectly, he never imagined her spicy taste or the way their noses would brush awkwardly.

Now that he's dead, he feels so… alive.

(Or maybe that's just her.)

Their frenzied kissing dies down in intensity, although the air between them is still alive with energy (he can just feel the reiatsu surrounding the both of them). And he is wiping her tears away, stroking her face and her cheeks and her hair as he does so, even as her slender fingers move restlessly against his shoulders.

"Where are we?" he asks, although he doesn't care much about the answer.

"Soul Society," she answers with a smile.

(Ah, he was right, he is dead)

"Fourth Division was nice enough to set aside a room for you."

He is a little confused at this – he wasn't entirely sure of how a soul gets to Soul Society, beyond the soul burial. He didn't even remember that. But he is quite sure that recently departed souls did not get their own room inside of the Seireitei.

Orihime sees his confusion – he knows, because it is reflected in her face – but she doesn't seem to understand it.

"I'm sorry," he says, impulsively.

(Even if he is not impulsive, but she makes his heart beat in the most exquisite of ways that it is impossible to do otherwise.)

He gives her a sad look with his blue eyes. "I had hoped that you wouldn't end up dying, too…"

She giggles then, and it is a light sound, but full of life and love and happiness. "You're not dead," she tells him, and in an instant he believes it.

(How could he be dead, when he feelst so alive?)

"I saved you."

He frowns at this, suddenly discontent. "I was supposed to save you," he says. "That was why…"

(That was why I did not hesitate, even when I knew that I was going to die.)

Orihime gives him a long, serious look. "Maybe it isn't always the prince who has to do the saving," she says, gray eyes meeting his.

He starts at this, eyes widening and breath catching in his throat. She gives him a smile, and he understands.

(She loves him just as much as he loves her.)

He smiles hesitantly. "I thought it was a farmer who captured the heart of the princess," he says. "Isn't that how the story goes?"

She gives that same laugh (so full of life) and the look in her gray eyes is soft. "I guess this time it's the heroic archer."

He gives her a solemn look. "I would weave a thousand zori for you." It is a gallant declaration, but also true.

She knows he would-

(he would die for her)

-and, in typical Ishida fashion, he would make sure he didn't even miss a single one.

(And that makes all of the difference in the world.)

"And meet me once every year?" she asks, only half-joking.

He replies in that soft voice that she knows is for her. "As long as you need it, I'll be there for you, Orihime."

She smiles.

It is splendid.