In the back of his muddled, listless mind, he knows this is a complete waste of time.

There is a war to be fought.

Training to be done.

Enemies to defeat.

Friends to help.

And at the moment, he, Kurosaki Ichigo, couldn't give less of a damn, on his back, reclining into the grass that scratches at his neck not quite painfully, with a rare sunny day overhead.

Which would be incredibly surprising to anyone who knows of him and his gigantic hero complex (not that he'd ever admit to one).

But then again, he just survived being nearly killed a dozen times over in the course of rescuing one Inoue Orihime from the bowels of Hueco Mundo, which was pretty much right after nearly getting killed a previous dozen times in the course of saving one Kuchiki Rukia in Soul Society.

Maybe the fact that he's managed to keep from collapsing into the grass and not giving a damn anymore before this is the real surprise.


He barely manages the energy to pull his head back to look at her. "Inoue?" he doesn't even muster the energy to blink.

"So this is where you've been hiding!" she leans over him, head parallel to his (and Ichigo finds himself a little wary- her head is diamond hard, after all). She made an angry frown then, one that was obviously in imitation. "Kuchiki-san has been going like this all day looking for you!"

Absently, Ichigo noted that expression probably meant he was in for a serious ass kicking whenever he managed to get off this hill- or if Rukia found him laying about.

He still can't bring himself to care.

The sun is too warm for that.

"What are you doing laying by the river, Kurosaki-kun?" Orihime's faux frown is gone, and now she's smiling again, that oddly warm smile she wears whenever they talk. "Are you sick? Did you train too much and now you can't move? Or did you try for some super cool new technique and used up too much energy?"

Her voice picks up energy the same way a sports car picks up speed, Ichigo thinks.

"Don't move! I'll get Kuchiki-san or Hachigen-san to help you! Maybe they have Sensu Beans!"

"Inoue," he says, and grasps her wrist (tiny and thin and softer than silk) to stay her from going off on her newest illogical tangent. "I'm fine. I haven't done any training, I didn't come up with a new technique. I'm just... laying here."

"Oh." Her voice is suddenly much quieter and her face must have started feeling the heat, because there's a sudden flush in her cheeks.

She says nothing more, and Ichigo really appreciates that. The only other person who would do that for him is Chad- Rukia's reaction he covered already, Renji'd probably be the same, Ishida would have sneered, Keigo would have tried to pull him up to do something he deemed fun, Mizuiro would have just wandered off, Tatsuki would have thought him an idiot.

Orihime squats next to him, and they stare out into the shining sun, in what might be a last day of peace before the winter storm. The river gurgles and churns happily on, oblivious to the monsters that lurk out of sight but not out of mind.

The Hollow inside him lurks and screams in the shadows.


He barely hears it, because the silent serenity of this moment is so deafening it blocks everything else out.

"What if I just laid here forever?" Ichigo finds himself asking out loud, still incapable of moving his body. He won't- he has too much power and too much responsibility to lay by a riverbank for eternity- but he's curious about what might happen if he did.

He can hear the reactions everyone else might give, but Orihime is always good for a surprise.

And she delivers on that belief, stretching for a moment, and then plopping right down next to him, legs sprawled out onto the grass (and suddenly Ichigo is very glad she is wearing pants, because it is likely a dress might have caused some... problems), still saying nothing, but smiling all the same.

Despite his general inability to read into such things (in other words, his thick skull, if you asked Rukia), Ichigo understands what she won't say.

I'd sit next to you.

He offers her one of his smiles- not the confident "I won't lose, I promise" one, not the "I'm in a bad mood but I'm not telling" one, nor even the "I'm pretending that's stupid but I liked it" one- its, for lack of a better term, a "For Orihime" smile.

"Thanks," he manages, and sinks a little deeper into the hill. Orihime smiles still, sitting next to him, and starts to hum a nameless tune that he finds more appealing than the best song he's heard on the radio, because it makes him feel less like a Hero and more like himself.

And Ichigo thinks he can shirk his responsibilities for a little longer to listen.