Nnoitra Jiruga slunk through the hallways, set on one particular target. She'd be waiting for him, she was always waiting for him. Mainly because he was the only one to ever give her any attention, but...that never bothered him. So what if she would've done it for anyone else that gave her more than a passing glance? Didn't matter. Nnoitra was the only one that would listen to her when she spoke, even if all he was doing was waiting for when she'd shut the fuck up. He would hold her, only if it was to get those clothes off a moment later. He could pretend to care, even if it was a transparent, half-assed attempt that anyone with half a brain could see right through. And he knew she could see through it. She wasn't an idiot, even if he'd like to tell her so. She was intelligent, just didn't choose to show it half the time because she didn't feel like it'd be appreciated or even needed. And she was right.

Really, Nnoitra thought as he stopped at her door, he didn't give a fuck if she was smart enough to know what he was doing or not. She just needed him there to be something warm she could hold onto, someone she could pretend loved her for who she was.

This young woman just needed someone to assist in her complete denial. Nnoitra Jiruga was happy to deliver.

The door slammed open and he stepped in, hearing it slam shut behind him again. She was staring up at her window, probably at that goddamned moon he himself had watched often back in the days where he was masked, before turning back and smiling in a frail manner at him. Her long strawberry blond hair hung near her thighs, catching the low moonlight. Nnoitra would notice, once again, that her hair was getting longer. Good, he loved wrapping his hands up in it and using it as a sort of rein, jerk her head back to see her face when he was in the middle of-

"Oh, hello Jiruga-sama."

Orihime Inoue's voice was soft, purposefully. If she was too loud, it would sometimes anger Nnoitra and he would get violent. Then again, she could be sleeping when he showed up and it would make him violent. She could do absolutely nothing at all and he would sometimes get violent. Nnoitra Jiruga was just a violent man, and Orihime Inoue was just a target of his.

But she was his favorite.

"Hey, Pet-sama. Up for playtime?" Nnoitra crooned, though his smile remained absolutely predatory. Orihime's face tightened noticeably, with either fear or something else that Nnoitra couldn't pinpoint.

"B...but...just yesterday..." She mumbled, laying her hand over her left forearm, where Nnoitra knew there would be either purple or black finger-shaped bruises on her pale skin. The Quinta just stared, somewhat dumbfounded.

Did he just get rejected?

Oh hell no.

He was gone in the blink of an eye, and the room was filled with pained yelps as Orihime was dragged back by her hair, pulled down so that she would be looking directly up at his face as he sonidoed behind her and got a good hold on her silky tresses. He looked pissed, and the tears in her eyes did little to placate him. "Did you just tell me no, bitch?" He snapped, and she shook her head as much as his grip would allow. "No, no!" Orihime near-exclaimed, before Nnoitra tsked and threw her down to the floor.

"You fuckin' disappoint me." He snarled, and she moved to her knees as he turned around and began walking to the door. "Fine, bitch. I'll just leave. You can rot here alone for all I fucking care." And he meant it too. The Espada didn't need Inoue; he had so many other women that he could drag off, and many others that would be thrilled to let him have a ride. Sure, they wanted to hook up for good and Nnoitra would probably either dump or possibly kill them if he felt like it, but hey, free sex. Actually, he could probably just kill them from the sex. Sounded like fun, Nnoitra mused as he headed towards the door. He hadn't done that in a while-

"Don't go!!"

He was held in place as she grabbed the back of his uniform and held on tightly. Jiruga didn't look back, only kept his singular eye focused straight ahead as Orihime pressed her face into his back. They both knew that she didn't just need any attention, like the dim notice that Ulquiorra gave her when he delivered her food. No, she needed Nnoitra's attention, for one fact.

The way he was always hungering for her body made her feel pretty. Special. Beautiful. Worth staring at, worth lusting over. Something she hadn't been able to get from Ichigo, who only saw her as a friend and never looked at her as if she were a woman. Nnoitra, though, made her feel like a woman. Sure, all he wanted was her body, but that was also another thing that she loved to experience. She wanted to be desired. And not until she had come to Las Noches and met Nnoitra, not until he had pinned her in her room and let his hands roam over her body, told her exactly how much he wanted her body and how he fucking loved her huge tits, did she realize that it had been attention that she had wanted the entire time.

When she surrendered to his touches, he hadn't been any more gentle than he would've been before. He was rough, wild, didn't mind her pained yelps as he jerked her by her hair during sex. But Orihime knew if she would've fought, he would've just done it anyway and beat her in the process. Plus, she did find herself liking his rough pace, making colors she couldn't quite name flash by her eyes. She had learned to love it, to find that the pain made the pleasure even more intense. She wanted him now.

Nnoitra didn't move in her grip for a long moment, only stared straight ahead. Slowly though, as she mumbled apologies to him and went on about being sorry, not to go, he turned around and pulled her against his chest, tipping back his weight and sprawling over the couch.

"Shaddap, noisy bitch." He mumbled, feeling her weight on his chest as he laid there with her on top of him. She didn't mean a thing to him, not at all. Right. Right? Right!

...Right...maybe. Fuck it all. Thinking it over was making his head hurt, so Nnoitra decided to quit thinking at all. He couldn't. She didn't mean anything to him. He had convinced himself so. Even through all those times he sat with her and listened to her talk about this and that and everything under the goddamn sun, the times she laid up against his side and he caught himself letting her lay against him, enjoying how warm she was and not throwing her to the floor. He disregarded how he loved to feel her silky tresses in his hands, feel her soft skin underneath his cold, calloused fingers. They may not have wanted to admit it, but she loved how cold his hands were and he loved how warm her skin was. She was his, and only his.

Orihime laid quiet, with her head laying on the exposed area of his chest that his uniform gave her. Her gray eyes stared forward to the left wall of the room, soft and unfocused. She caught herself running her fingers through his hair gently, and Nnoitra flinched at the action. But the slap or shove Orihime had expected with the flinch never came, and she looked up to see him staring down at her. He didn't look so ready for a fight, so violent as he usually did. Now, he merely closed his singular eye gently and mumbled something to her.

"Keep doing that. I like it."

She started again, running her fingers through his long black hair gently. He sighed softly as she did, her fingers gently moving to his temple and to trace his jawline and soothe him even more. He was getting fucking tired with her soft motions, her warm breath on his chest and the overall heat from her body on his that he almost never felt.

"You don't mind...if we just lay here tonight?" She asked him softly, and he shook his head groggily. "No. But you better watch your ass next time." He warned drowsily, and she nodded against his chest gently. No, Nnoitra Jiruga didn't care for Orihime Inoue at all, as he laid with her on her couch and they both drifted off to sleep like that. He didn't care at all.

"Orihime!!" Ichigo shouted to the woman, reaching out to her desperately. They were in the middle of a quick escape engineered by the mad genius Urahara, a spring-loaded Gargantua set to pop open exactly one hour after the Captain's arrival. In their hurry, the Captains grabbed their rescued rescuers and headed through the Gargantua back to Urahara's shop, Zaraki hanging around last with Ichigo, Ishida and Renji. Orihime was reaching out to them, running for the gate. She was only a few feet away, her fingertips only inches from Ichigo's, only a few feet from escape-

And she stopped. Ichigo stared dumbfoundedly at her as she turned back, seeing the tall form of Nnoitra Jiruga staring after her. Just staring. She glanced back to Ichigo at his call of her name again, before mouthing something to him he'd never be able to forget.

I'm so sorry, Ichigo.

And Inoue turned and ran. She ran away from them, back to Nnoitra Jiruga and abandoned all that had come to save her. Ichigo shouted her name again, lunging forward to grab her, when a hand came down on his shoulder and gripped his shihakusho tightly. Zaraki had a hold on him, a deathgrip. "We got no time. Leave her." He growled, and Ichigo tried to jerk away, to no avail. The Captain had already shoved Uryu and Renji through the Gargantua, and now gave a terrific jerk to Ichigo's shihakusho and threw him backwards into the Gargantua as Orihime ran into Nnoitra's arms and the Quinta laid his hand around her waist loosely, keeping a stare on the retreating shinigami. Right before the substitute shinigami was engulfed in the icy blackness of the Gargantua, he saw Nnoitra grinning at him victoriously, as Orihime said something to Nnoitra that Ichigo recognized as being dangerously close to 'I love you'.

Five years. Five long years since that day, when they lost Orihime. The Winter War had raged on for fifty long years since its beginning, bloody and painful for everyone involved. Ichigo had thought about it over and over again, tried to figure out what went wrong. Could they have done it differently, and saved her? Did she even want to be saved? She had left a hole in all their lives when she stayed behind, chose Nnoitra Jiruga over Ichigo Kurosaki, Hueco Mundo over Earth. Death over life. And Ichigo had remembered that on the battlefield, her healing was greatly missed. His mind had been warped somewhat, to place the winning of battles and the saving of lives over personal affiliations and friendships.

And now, it would all end. Soul Society was charging Hueco Mundo all over again.

Ichigo ran across the sandy dunes at incredible speed grown higher over those five years. He followed three reiatsus; two he recognized to be Orihime's and Nnoitra's, and one that was so low he could barely sense it. Probably a Numeros or something. As he cleared a dune, he landed right behind them and two figures whirled around to face him. One was Orihime, now grown more womanly and adult as Ichigo also had. She held something akin to fear in her eyes as she looked upon Ichigo Kurosaki, and it wounded him in a way that she would fear him. The second was the enormously tall Nnoitra Jiruga, wielding his Santa Teresa on his back and glaring harshly.

And the third stopped Ichigo's blood cold.

A child. A little boy, with long black hair in a ponytail clung to Orihime's leg, sharp gray eyes glaring hard at him in fear like that of Orihime's, and hatred like that of Jiruga's. And in Orihime's arms was an infant, a little girl by the look of her. She was fast asleep, held the same black hair as Jiruga and a soft face.

Ichigo was speechless, but that dumbfounded silence was broken by Nnoitra. "You lookin' for a fuckin' fight, shinigami??" Nnoitra roared, brandishing Santa Teresa menacingly. The little boy cheered, shouting 'Kill 'im!' before Orihime shushed him. Ichigo felt shinigami reiatsus approaching quickly at his back, but said nothing as Nnoitra and Orihime stepped back at their arrival. Hitsugaya and Zaraki, along with a volunteer to the war. Tatsuki. They cleared the dune right as Nnoitra opened up a Gargantua, and the two adults stepped back as Nnoitra scooped up the little boy.

"Orihime!!" Tatsuki yelled as she saw her friend, but anything else was cut off as she saw the kids, saw the man Orihime had chosen. Orihime smiled softly, sadly to her, before stepping back and delivering a message that stopped both Tatsuki's and Ichigo's hearts.

"Don't come after me. I'm happy with my family now, you guys. I'm happy now. Don't hunt me, don't come after me. I'm sorry."

She stepped back into the blackness of the Gargantua, and Ichigo managed a strangled question.

"What are their names?"

Orihime smiled gently, sadness still in her eyes as she gestured first to the boy and then the girl. "My children, Hyakkimaru and Dororo. Goodbye, Ichigo."

And the blackness swallowed the four of them right before the Gargantua slammed shut, leaving a breathless Ichigo to stare dimly ahead at the sandy dunes all around him.

Ten years since then.

Las Noches had fallen that day...well, that night within Hueco Mundo. Aizen, Gin and Tosen had retreated to the endless desert of Hueco Mundo as their Espada were decimated all over again. Aizen himself fell to his own hollow army, eaten alive by those he played God over. Momo Hinamori challenged Aizen before the hollows attacked, valiantly fighting her former object of adoration to her own death. The surprise attack by the rebel hollows was lead by none other than Grimmjow Jeagerjaquez himself, exiled after his defeat at the hands of Ichigo Kurosaki. He landed a mortal blow on Aizen, though he was killed in the effort. Then, the remaining hollow army lead by the fallen Hollow King Grimmjow Jeagerjaquez ate Aizen alive, tore the Lord of Las Noches limb from limb. Kaname Tosen was taking prisoner by Soul Society and later executed for high treason, while Gin Ichimaru died on the white sands of Hueco Mundo at the hands of Rangiku Matsumoto. He had hesitated at the last moment, his Shinso had stilled in reluctance to kill his Rangiku. That had been enough time for the Lieutenant Captain's Haineko to rip him to pieces. They say the last thing he said was a goodbye to his Ran-chan, though those are just rumors.

And now, there was peace.

Ichigo Kurosaki had been put as Captain of Fifth Company, with Tatsuki Arisawa as his Lieutenant Captain after her death within the Winter War. Izuru Kira had taken over as Captain of Third Company and Hisagi Shuuhei had taken Captaincy of Ninth, both proving themselves completely capable and very knowledgeable of running their respective divisions. And not only that, but something was apparently in the water too, because everyone had hooked up it seemed like. Ichigo and Rukia stopped being stupid and finally got together, much to Byakuya's chagrin. Renji and Matsumoto were very much open about going out, with all the flirting and the wild sex stories both of them were telling their friends. Tatsuki Arisawa was now apparently together with Ikkaku Madarame, finding someone she could drink and swear and spar with, someone that wouldn't give a damn if she was female or not. And she was obviously enamored with him as well, though whether or not they were actually together or not was no real question. Mostly thanks to Yumichika letting it slip to a few people not secret-keeping trustworthy (Matsumoto) that Ikkaku was telling him all about...wild sex stories. Probably most surprising was Uryu Ishida and Nemu Kurotsuchi, who had told others they met getting tea while Ishida was in Seireitei preparing for the second raid on Las Noches. They talked, got together a bit more, and were having a quiet relationship. Mayuri Kurotsuchi was always staring holes through Ishida when the two of them were in the same room.

As for how it all turned out, Urahara had declined an offer to rejoin Soul Society, as did Yoruichi Shihoin and Tessai. As Urahara so very elegantly put it, 'I'm much happier here, not having to deal with so many stupid people'. Shinji Hirako had been consulting with Yamamoto and the reinstated Central Forty-Four, and it was agreed that the Vizards, for their great help in penetrating Las Noches's defenses with their powerful hollow masks, would be allowed back into Seireitei in their own small division if they so choosed. Ichigo Kurosaki was the exception, allowed to become a Captain.

And right now, he and Tatsuki were having a picnic with Ichigo's family in the human realm. As insisted by Isshin after Ichigo arrived home. After a roundhouse kick to the face as he walked in the door, of course. He was in a gigai, his body having died of its own accord due to the stress of the soul entering and leaving so often, and the disuse it had during the Winter War. Tatsuki had informed her parents about her death and spiritual life, and after the obligatory freakout session, they had accepted her as she was. Yuzu and Karin had accepted Ichigo without too much surprise at him being dead and a shinigami, as Isshin had secretly informed them about Ichigo while he was fighting in the war. And now, they were in the park having a picnic. Ichigo had his sandwich but found his mind wandering back to the one they couldn't save.


"...I'll be back in a minute." He mumbled, getting up and walking through the park to think. They all left him to his thoughts, the man now shellshocked through war and the deaths of comrades untold. He walked through the park, wondering what could have been. If they'd have tried a little harder to save her, been a little faster...

...No. There was no use in guilt over it. What's done is done, what he couldn't do shouldn't be regretted but thought over carefully. She had been gone for ten years, probably very happy with Nnoitra and her kids. Sometimes though, Ichigo caught himself wondering what could have been. Maybe Rukia would have gone with Renji, he could have gone with Orihime...they might have kids of their own...what could have been. What hadn't been, what wasn't. He leaned against a tree, a man now looking in his early twenties but was in fact around his seventies or eighties now. Yuzu and Karin were getting so...they had grown up without him. The regret got to him sometimes, about what the war took away from him, about what he missed. He leaned against the tree, closing his eyes and thinking to himself.

"No, don't put that caterpillar in your mouth, Ichi!"

The soft voice stopped his heart, and Ichigo looked up to see none other than Orihime and Nnoitra sitting on a blanket in the grass, having a picnic of their own. A fourteen-year-old boy Ichigo knew to be Hyakkimaru was eating a sandwich next to Nnoitra, who was watching Orihime fuss over an orange-haired little boy around ten or so trying to eat a caterpillar. The little girl of around eleven he knew would be Dororo was playing with flowers, before Ichigo realized that she was getting the honey from honeysuckles. A final boy that looked no older than four was sitting in Nnoitra's lap, pulling the tail off a lizard. Nnoitra was watching, grinning at his violent son.

"You kill the shit outta that thing, Satsugai."

Ichigo could've laughed at that name. So very Nnoitra. But right now, he was busy staring in shock at Orihime's perfect little family, wondering how they got...gigai...

Urahara. That man was enough of a troublemaker to give them gigai without a second thought. Orihime had already been a soul when that second raid happened and they escaped into the Living World, apparently, so she had one on too. Damn that maniacal shopkeeper, Ichigo could practically hear his mischevous giggling from here.

Now it was time. Time to put to bed all those regrets he'd held for so damn long.

Nnoitra and Orihime glanced up to see Ichigo Kurosaki step out from behind a nearby tree, and instantly went on guard. He waved his hands though, as if he weren't any danger. "I'm just saying hello after ten years, Orihime. I mean you no harm." He assured them, the children huddling up against the two. After Nnoitra and Orihime shared some glances, they nodded though remained tense.

"It's been...too long, Ichigo." Orihime murmured, pulling a ladybug out of Ichi's little mouth and watching it fly away. Slowly did Ichigo walk forward, sitting on their blanket with them. He and Nnoitra shared a nod.

"'Sup bitch." Nnoitra murmured, before Hyakkimaru laughed and father and son high-fived. Orihime scoffed, as Dororo giggled. Ichigo sighed. "Not much, Quinta."

They went silent for a long while, Orihime toying with her kids now and then. She then smiled gently, motioning to Ichi in her arms.

"This is...Ichigo." She smiled, and Ichigo smiled after a moment of disbelieving shock. He then patted the boy on the head, smiling down warmly.

"Hey kid. You got a good, strong name."

And the three of them, Ichigo, Nnoitra and Orihime, looked at one another, knowing that things had worked out. Their lives had played out as they wouldn't have expected. But it was alright.

Things work out.