A/N- Please leave a review telling me how I can improve, or any errors I made. I will try to write characters as in character as possible, but I might have to bend them a little for the sake of the story.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach
Warning: Aisuhime sucks at writing fight scenes. Consider yourself warned. ALSO, the timeline is totally messed up. Just try to ignore it if you can.
Thank you so much to everyone who left nice words for part one, despite my not deserving it at all. You guys are so great. I hope you enjoy part two.
Chapter 15 Pt. 2
The End of the Line, Unlikely help
Ulquiorra wasn't having quite as good of luck. Barragan had well-earned the rank of third Espada and Ulquiorra couldn't stop for a second to release his sword. They clashed swords again.
"Wouldn't have thought you'd be the one to defect," Barragan laughed dryly. "You think you know a guy…"
Ulquiorra didn't dare answer didn't dare avert his attention from staying alive. One mistake was all it took to end a life.
Orihime was dancing through a meadow, filled with wild flowers. They swayed with the breeze and filled the air with their sweet scent. Orihime felt so peaceful, as if in this small meadow, everything was right with the world. Almost everything. Something was missing. No, she corrected herself, someone was missing. But who? Who belonged in her dream world with her? She clawed for an answer but came up blank.
"Well, someone is happy," a familiar voice called wryly from the sky. Orihime looked up and saw a girl her age sitting in the high branches of a nearby tree. Not the sky, silly, she chided herself.
"Elizabeth!" she called. Where had the name come from? It wasn't the name she matched with the girl in her mind. The girl's name was Okashii. Yet Elizabeth felt right.
Elizabeth smiled. "It's nice to hear you say that." Her smile turned sad. "But you don't mean it. You still don't know."
Orihime wasn't sure what she was talking about, but she suddenly felt really bad. "I'm sorry." Whatever it was, it was tearing Elizabeth up.
Elizabeth didn't quite match the Okashii in her mind. Her hair should be a bright green, not dirty blonde. There should be a white bone fragment around her eye, but there wasn't. She was so confused.
"Don't fight it," Elizabeth said softly," Don't try to reason through it. You have to let go, Abby."
That name, Abby felt so right, it hurt Orihime. There was a story behind that name, and it called to her. She tried to reach out to it, but it danced right out her reach.
"How?" she asked simply.
Elizabeth jumped down from the tree she was sitting in, landing gracefully. She smiled up, still sad, but hopeful. "Let's find out together."
This girl, Elizabeth, lead her as they ran through the meadow, and they laughed and danced. They let go, just as she had said. And for the first time in a long time, Abby smiled.
Ichigo finally felt spirit energy. It would be fairly difficult not to, and it exploded strongly from multiple sources from his left. He ran off towards it, hoping that whatever it was would lead him to Orihime.
He reached the source and found himself very confused. Where the Espada fighting themselves? His eyes could barely track their movements. He stood back, not wanting to get caught in the middle of whatever this was.
Until he saw Orihime in the arms of one of the Espada, of course. Then he suddenly wanted very much to be in the middle of this.
He leapt at the guy holding Orihime, who had to have been unconscious. There was no way someone could sleep through that. However, he was intercepted by Grimmjow, who tackled him to the ground.
"You idiot!" Grimmjow hissed, his enemy lying motionlessly on the ground. "He's on our side for fuck's sake!"
"Our side?!" Ichigo demanded. "You all are the enemy here! I can't believe I even thought to trust you a little bit!"
Grimmjow growled. "How stupid are you? We needed you to fight Nnoitra so we could rescue Ab--… Orihime."
Ichigo stopped. "Why do you want to rescue Orihime?"
Grimmjow replied vaguely," She'll explain later. We need to get her out fast before—". A wall exploded and in walked Ichimaru and Tousen, swords drawn.
"—reinforcements arrive," Grimmjow finished angrily.
Ichigo drew his sword. "Whatever. I'm here now, so I'll take them." He nodded towards Ichimaru and Tousen.
"Don't flatter yourself, Kurosaki," Grimmjow snorted. "You don't stand a chance against them."
"He's right, Ichigo."
Ichigo froze. Orihime? He spun and saw her out of the Espada's hold, standing on her own, albeit a bit shakily.
She smiled at him, looking at peace. "You don't need to endanger yourself anymore for my sake. I've found my own way."
Ichigo was in shock. "Orihime, you can't possibly go against one of them!"
"Don't worry. I'm not fighting alone." She turned to Ichimaru. "Okashii says thank you."
Ichimaru smiled. "My pleasure. Shoot to kill, Shinso." His sword ran towards Orihime, and she smiled placidly.
"Orihime!" Ichigo, Ulquiorra, and Grimmjow yelled at the same time.
"Mutsuten Itenshun, I reject," she said, her smile never faltering. Orange swirled around his sword, transporting it instantly. With no way to predict it, Tousen fell as the still-extending sword was teleported behind him. It happened so fast, no one seemed to get what had happened until a few moments later.
Ulquiorra and Grimmjow let out a shaky breath or relief. Ichigo just stood there, confused. What had Orihime just done?
He didn't have time to dwell on it. Barragan, apparently sick of being ignored, unleashed an immeasurably powerful cero blast at the three men.
Orihime's smile disappeared instantly. "No!" she screamed. "Mutsuten Itenshun, I reject!" Orange wrapped around the blast a millisecond before it hit them, sending it hurdling towards its sender.
Orihime shook from the effort. Her legs looked ready to give out from under her. After a second, they did. She hit the ground, hard. She lay there, motionless.
"Orihime!" Ichigo called at the same time Ulquiorra and Grimmjow called, "Abby!"
Ichigo ran forward, but Ulquiorra beat him there. He scooped her up in his arms, holding her close to him.
"Ben," the name slipped from her mouth. He clutched her tighter.
"You remembered," he whispered disbelievingly. Grimmjow stared.
"Yeah," she murmured. "Everything makes sense. You, Matt, Elizabeth, everything."
"No," he said fiercely. "You don't know everything yet. Don't you dare give up!"
"But…" she murmured, sounding far away," I'm so tired."
"Abby!" Grimmjow yelled. "Don't give in! It took us this long to find you!"
"I'm sorry Ben, I'm sorry Matt," she whispered, going limp.
"Hell no," a foreign voice came from her lips. "You aren't done yet." Her eyes snapped open, but it wasn't her. She wasn't herself.
"Elizabeth?" Ulquiorra asked in shock.
"I only have a few seconds," Elizabeth answered. "Creating a full link is a million times more difficult than creating a mental link. She's fading fast; she spent energy she didn't have."
Orihime's body stood up disjointedly, like a marionette doll. A pale blue light shone translucently from her pale skin.
"What're you doing?" Grimmjow demanded. Ichigo stood shell-shocked, staring at the scene in front of him.
"I'm keeping my promise," Elizabeth answered simply.
Ulquiorra's eyes widened. "There's no way… you would never…"
"Don't oversimplify me, Ben," she said softly. "I'm not who I was back then. I'm in control now. I know what I'm doing."
"You're going to kill yourself!"
"What's going on?" Grimmjow demanded. "She's already dead!"
Ulquiorra's face was grim. "She's in Soul Society. If she succeeds with this, her soul itself will be destroyed; end of the line."
"Then why the hell are you doing it?" Grimmjow demanded.
"Because she'll die if I don't!" Elizabeth yelled. The blue glow that covered Orihime's body concentrated itself in her right palm. Elizabeth bought Orihime's right thumb up to her mouth, biting it. Red beads of blood shone from the pad. The blood seemed to mix with the blue energy, turning it gold.
"We could find another way," Ulquiorra persisted, yet he made no move to restrain her. Between Orihime's life and Elizabeth's, it was clear which was more important to him.
"Shut up. There is no other way. She ran out of spirit energy, and used her very life force to fuel that last technique. There's a good chance she destroyed her soul chain. This is the only way." Without another word, she thrust the glowing hand into Orihime's chest, right where the soul chain was.
It was over in a second. The glow disappeared instantly, and the wound closed as if it had never been inflicted. If you had blinked, you'd have missed it for sure.
Orihime collapsed, lying perfectly still again. Deadly silence descended as all the Exequias fell to Halibel and Stark. With all enemies defeated, there was nothing to break the silence. Except, of course, Ichigo.
"What the hell just happened?" he screamed. He rushed towards Orihime's still form.
Without a word, Grimmjow extended his fist, sending Ichigo into a wall. "Leave her alone," he said in an icy voice. "This doesn't concern you."
Ichigo coughed from the impact before yelling," Of course it concerns me! Orihime is my friend, and I want to know what the hell is going on!"
Halibel silenced him with a glare so cold it could've frozen hell. "Shut up or I'll kill you myself," she threatened.
Ichigo, having seen Halibel fight the Exequias, and knew all to well that it wasn't an empty threat.
Orihime's eyes opened slowly, and she looked around in confusion. "B-but…" she stuttered," I died!"
Ulquiorra and Grimmjow breathed in relief.
"Trust me princess." Grimmjow said dryly," All of us have flirted with death before. You and Elizabeth just seem to do it more often."
Orihime's eyes widened. "Elizabeth! What happened to her? I felt her link, and then it disappeared."
Ulquiorra and Grimmjow averted their eyes.
"That promise meant everything to her, didn't it?" Grimmjow asked softly.
"Yeah," Ulquiorra answered. "It was her purpose after Elizabeth died. She was willing to give her life for it three times."
Orihime nearly choked. "What do you mean, three times?"
Ulquiorra met her eyes steadily. "You were right. You did die."
Grimmjow added," You screwed yourself over with that last technique. Apparently you didn't have the spirit energy for it and used your life force."
"Elizabeth used her own life force to replace yours," Ulquiorra finished.
Orihime felt tears slip down her cheek. They quickly turned to full-fledged sobs. "I was supposed to be strong enough to protect myself! No one was supposed to die for my sake!"
Ulquiorra wrapped his arms around her, and she buried her face in his chest. Just like old times.
Grimmjow almost gagged in disgust. Since when did pity parties change anything? "Oh suck it up, will you?" Grimmjow said irritably. Ulquiorra glared at him, but he didn't care. "You weren't strong enough to protect yourself this time. Well now you've got time to get stronger, so use it. In case you all forgot, we have a war coming up."
Orihime sniffled. He was right, and she knew that she should follow his advice. But it hurt so much, to gain new strength, then to have it not be enough. She had thought finding the truth was enough, but that was only the first step. Then you have to surge to surpass the obstacles. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve. It was time to move forward.
Ulquiorra murmured in her ear," We have to get you home now."
She looked at him franticly. "What about you and Matt?"
"We can't stay here, obviously. We'll go to the real world and hide out for a while. But you'll see us again at the war."
"What side will you be on?" she asked softly.
Grimmjow snorted. "With our luck, the losing side. So it's your job to shape Soul Society up, got it?"
Ichigo coughed. No amount of therapy would make sense of this. Not that he could ever tell a therapist about this, but the point stood firm.
Orihime turned to face him. "Ichigo! I completely forgot you were here!"
Ichigo sweatdropped. "I noticed."
Ulquiorra acknowledged Ichigo. "Gather your friends. We're leaving in ten minutes whether you're here or not."
Ichigo growled. "Bastard!"
"Nine minutes and fifty seconds," Ulquiorra deadpanned.
Ichigo sighed, and flashed off to find his friends. He envied them for not having to witness what could only be described as the single most confusing event in his life.
Ulquiorra turned to Stark and Halibel. "What of you two?"
"If anyone asks, we were waiting in our rooms like good little Espada," Stark answered.
"And when the war rolls around?"
"Aizen is in for a surprise, isn't he?" Stark smirked.
Ulquiorra smiled ever so slightly in return. For once in the story, things were looking up.
A/N- Words can not describe how sorry I am for taking so long. I got engaged in a HUGE writing project, and that's taken priority for the past few weeks. I'll get the epilogue up as soon as I can, but expect it to take while. THANKS A BILLION TO ANYONE WHO READ THIS FAR!!!