Hey guys!! Finally finished my Tanabata entry for FLOL! Enjoy ^_^
Disclaimer: Bleach (c) Kubo Tite
~ The Call of Love ~
A Tanabata Tale
"Isshin Super-Duperest Ninja Sneak Attack!!! HERE I GOOOO!!!"
The eccentric doctor's flying foot was deftly caught with one hand an arm's length from its orange target. For a moment his body was horizontally suspended in mid-air and then crashed to the ground with his foot still in his son's grasp, said son looking at him in scowling pity and disbelief.
"Oi, Dad, it's not a 'sneak attack' if you holler it to the entire festival."
His father's distraught expression suddenly turned smug; a ridiculous face considering he was still lying in a twisted position with one leg in the air. "Oh, but my son, I thought you were faaarrr too distracted by a fair maiden to be aware of your own family!"
Ichigo's eyes widened while somehow keeping his scowl in place and using all his inner super powers to push down the blush he felt creeping up his neck. "What the hell are you yappin' about, old man?"
"Goat-chin's right, Ichi-nii." Karin winced at the distasteful and alien phrase. "We shouted your name several times but you just kept staring off at the… uh… "fair maiden," she smirked.
Dammit! What was the point of powers if he couldn't even fight off a blush?! He slammed his father's foot down onto the pavement with the rest of his body. "I don't know what you're talkin' about! I was not staring at Inoue; I was just… thinking!"
"But… Onii-chan…" Ichigo turned to look at his wide-eyed, innocently wondering blonde sister. "We never said anything about Orihime-chan!"
His face fell but quickly recovered with a shake of his head and a sweep of his arm. "Well… obviously that's who you were talking about, I mean, she's right there and who else would you be talking about?" he said while desperately trying to maintain a nonchalant attitude and not even remotely succeeding.
The Kurosaki family heads turned as one to look at the swarm of people walking all around Orihime and Tatsuki, many of them young women who went to school with Ichigo. The heads turned back to Ichigo with sardonic expressions. "O-Oi! Don't look at me like that! J-Just a moment ago…there weren't as many! Really…" His eyes pin-balled among his family's faces nervously. "Y-You see…ah!" A light bulb practically shown above his head as he pointed to the sky confidently. "Orihime is a princess so obviously by fair maiden you were referring to her."
Karin remarked with understanding in her voice, "O-o-oh, so you think of Orihime-chan as your princess. I see."
Ichigo nodded with a self-satisfied smile on his face, "Yes, of course, that's exac – WHAAAT?!" He leaped backwards, his finger now shaking at Karin's face. "D-Don't twist my words!"
Isshin finally bounced off the ground and slapped his hand on his son's shoulder, his eyes shining girlishly and his mouth quivering. "Today my dear son has become a man!" He fell to his knees and raised his arms above his head, causing his offspring to fumble around nervously as they attempted to hide his demonstrations from the curious observers. "Oh Masaki, aren't you proud of what our love act has produced?! Isn't he a quality manufactured good of our – Oomph!"
Ichigo pulled his leg back to administer another beating before Yuzu's compassionate protests stopped him. With a sigh he settled back on two feet and turned to walk away. "Whatever. I'm splittin'. See ya guys later."
"See ya later, Ichi-nii! Have fun with Orihime-chaaan!"
Ichigo's head whirled around to snarl at his dark haired sister. Sometimes he really wished she was a boy so he could knock her around…just a bit. "Che." He continued through the crowd, shoving his hands into his pockets, scowling at any vendor that yelled out to him. And then he bumped into something soft.
"Oi! Kurosaki! Watch where you're going, will ya?!"
He blinked at a wincing redhead on the ground and a seething tomboy glaring up at him. He blinked again. "Oh! …Crap, Inoue, sorry! I was…distracted, I guess." He leaned down to extend his hand towards her and waited while she stared at it. He scowled deeper at her hesitation, glancing at his hand just to make sure there weren't tufts of fur growing out of his palm. Finally she blinked and smiled at him before grasping his hand, her smile expanding as he pulled her up.
"Yeah. You okay, Inoue?"
"Hai, hai! Fit as a fiddle! Although I don't really know what that means since fiddles can't actually exercise so how could they ever be fit? Unless of course a magic spell was cast over them and they could dance around and sing songs…or would they play songs? Anyways, I…I…ano…"
Both faces turned beet red as they realized they were still holding hands. "Gomen!" They cried at the same time as they retrieved their hands.
Ichigo rubbed the back of his neck nervously as he watched her make designs in the gravel with her geta sandal. "Eh…heh heh…well, so are you having fun at the festival so far?"
Orihime looked up and beamed at him. "Hai! Well…actually Tatsuki and I just got here but all the decorations are amazing this year! The vendors are really outdoing themselves this year!"
"Che, trying to outdo each other anyway."
She looked around for a moment. "Kurosaki-kun, are you here with your family?"
"Yeah, I came here with them but they're off doin' their own thing right now."
Orihime looked hopeful for a split second before it turned sheepish. "Ano…would you like to walk with us? That is…if you want to…if not that's perfectly fine I just didn't want you to be by yourself…Ah! I mean unless you want to be alone…or…you're probably meeting other friends here so-"
"Thank, Inoue," he interrupted. "I'll hang with you guys."
Her smile brightened to an impossible degree. "Yata! Tatsuki did you…Tatsuki?"
The accidental couple looked around to find themselves alone except for the strangers streaming past them. Ichigo ruffled his hair. "What the hell? Where'd that baka go?"
"Oh no, Kurosaki-kun! What if she got kidnapped or something?!"
"Kidnapped?" He raised a skeptical brow. "Yeah, I doubt it. If anybody tried to kidnap her they would end up in a bloody heap."
Orihime worried her lip. "I guess you're right…"
He watched her anxiously search the crowd before giving in with a sigh. "Okay, Inoue. I suppose we should go look for her. I guess it's possible she got lost."
For a few moments they walked through the festival silently, Ichigo whapping at various streamers that were hanging too low. At a sudden tinkling sound he looked down to see Orihime giggling into her small hand. "Something funny?"
She looked up in surprise and then started giggling again as he batted away another streamer. "I'm sorry, Kurosaki-kun…It's just that… you look like an adorably grouchy kitty swatting at ribbons right now." She snorted and covered her little nose in embarrassment only to send herself into more giggles.
"A-Adorable?" Never in his entire life had he been called "adorable" before. It was…somehow not terribly unpleasant…but still…men were not adorable…He watched her as she tried to suppress her giggles and let himself resume the earlier examination that his family had interrupted. She looked…well…in the risk of sounding schmaltzy, she literally took his breath away. Actually if he really let himself think about it, which he wouldn't, she frequently deprived him of his regular oxygen supply; but today with a large white flower nestled in her upswept hair, wearing a black yukata covered in red and white hibiscus designs and her tiny waist wrapped in a white obi…damn…
"Yaa!" One problem with traditional dress…geta sandals were not exactly klutz-proof.
"Inoue!" Ichigo snapped out his arm and caught her by the waist before disaster struck. "Dammit, you okay, Inoue?"
"H-Hai, Kurosaki-kun. Arigato! Eh heeeh…" Her pink face was laughing nervously when suddenly someone shouted, "Attaboy! Sweep the girl off 'er feet!"
For the second time in a span of only a few minutes, both teens stiffened and turned bright red. Ichigo suddenly dropped her from her firm position against his chest and turned to narrow his eyes at the faceless voice, but there was no one there except strangers ignoring the two teens as they swept past. Coward. He shoved his hands in his dark jeans pockets and glared at the sea of streamers. Tearing the buggers down wouldn't make him "adorable" would it?
"Ku-Kurosaki-kun? Do you want something to drink?" He looked over to see her pointing at a limeade stand.
His chin popped up shortly. "Cool."
They made their way over and he resisted the urge to yank the colorful papers to the ground as she talked excitedly about the flavor choices. When they finally got to the front of the line she ordered a strawberry limeade and he ordered a regular one. Before she could move he'd placed the cash on the counter and started to walk away.
"W-Wait, Kurosaki-kun!." She hurriedly shuffled up to him. "You shouldn't pay for these! I was the one who suggested it!"
He looked down at the fretting girl clutching her pink drink and then nodded towards the line. "Well, it's too late anyhow, the line's already moved forward; it'd bother the other people"
"Eh? Oh…well…I guess…Oh!" She shifted her drink to one hand and began digging around in her small purse as she walked towards him. "I'll just give you the money then…"
"Huh? Inoue, just forget about it. It's on me," he insisted.
"Nope, no buts."
"No anos either! You're stuck with your money, Inoue. Sorry." He bit the insides of his cheeks to force back a grin at her pout. Now that was what he would call adorable.
"Well…thank you, Kurosaki-kun."
"Thank yous are denied too. I just needed to lighten the load in my wallet. It was saggin' my jeans," he casually explained.
As they walked along he felt her looking at him until finally she said, "You're very nice, Kurosaki-kun."
He choked on his limeade. Nice?! That might be worse than adorable… "I ain't nice, Inoue," he growled, inserting bad grammar for good effect.
Her expression turned shocked. "Yes you are, Kurosaki Ichigo!"
He blinked at her using his full name and her stubborn tone. "Whatever gave you that idea? I'm mean! Good for nothin' rowdy punk is what I am," he said proudly.
"No you're not! Well…you can be rowdy…but you're not mean or good for nothing or a punk! You're nice and good for everything and…and…well whatever is opposite 'punk' that's what you are!" They were stopped in the middle of the street now, glaring at each other, now violently sucking at their straws.
"I am not nice, dammit!"
"Yes you are."
"No I'm not."
"Oh my, my, my! What do we have here? Our first lover's spat? How cute!"
The startled couple turned at the familiar sing-song voice that sounded above the murmurings of the swarms to see a colorful stand with an enormous paper mache, purple cat above it covered in bells and glitter with dozens of streamers hanging from all four paws. Urahara waved at them with his fan. "I hope I didn't interrupt anything!"
"What the hell are you doing here, Urahara?!" Ichigo exclaimed as they cautiously made their way towards the booth and underneath the gigantic décor.
"Why Kurosaki-san! So unfriendly! I should be offended! I'm only selling some delicious candies and it looks like Inoue-san is interested!" He snapped his fan closed against his hand and leaned towards Orihime who was fingering some rainbow candies. "Would you like something, my dear?"
"Oi! Inoue! Don't eat that guys stuff! Who knows what'll happen to ya!" Ichigo gently put his hand over hers and took it away from the colorful package. "Come on, we've gotta find Tatsuki, remember?"
"Oh! Right, Kurosaki-kun!" She bounced away with him from Urahara's mini shop. "Goodbye, Urahara-san! Good luck with your sales!"
The shopkeeper unfurled his fan as he waved them goodbye. "Thank you, Inoue-san! And good luck to you two lovebirds as well!" He chuckled to himself as he watched them suddenly look away from each other and Ichigo dropped the hand he'd still been holding.
Gah…why does everyone keep putting us together today? Not that he particularly minded it was just… He glanced at Orihime quietly drinking her strawberry limeade. Well, a punk was a punk and punks and princesses just don't mix. And that was that. He cast a critical glance at his slim black t-shirt with the silver dragon crawling up the side and the pewter crucifix and chain moving against his chest; he looked back at the princess next to him. Renji was a dog reaching for a star, and he was a punk reaching for a princess. Frickin' tragedy.
"Waaah!" He jumped slightly and followed her sudden wide-eyed stare to the huge, ornate bamboo structure ahead of them, covered in paper wishes, fluttering in the soft breeze.
Ichigo looked back at her entranced, and equally entrancing, face and let himself grin. "You wanna make a wish, Inoue?"
She looked up at him eagerly. "A-Are you sure it's okay?"
He chuckled this time. "Yeah, 'course it is. C'mon." Gently, he touched the back of her arm and led her towards one of the tables with colored strips of paper attached to strings. She grabbed an orange one and a pen from the cup, tapping her chin with it. He leaned his hip against the table and watched her with arms crossed over his chest.
She glanced sideways at him and frowned. "Kurosaki-kun? Aren't you going to make a wish?"
He shook his head. "Nah, I don't really believe in this stuff." Suddenly his mouth found itself covered with a slender hand.
"Kurosaki-kun! Don't say such things! Especially next to all these wishes! You might negate the magic! Quick! Say 'just kidding'!"
"Huh? Oh! Gomen, Kurosaki-kun!" She snatched her hand back, blushing at the feel of his lips lingering against her palm.
"I said…" He paused before his disbelief exited his lips… Oh what the hell. He did a quick scan to see if anyone was listening before glancing back at the bamboo. "Just kidding," he mumbled.
But the frown on Orihime's face didn't fade. "Erm…maybe you should make a wish too, just to be safe."
"What?! I…" Dammit, does she have to look at me like that? "Yeah, okay, whatever."
"Yay!" She clapped her hands as he swiped a grey strip and a pen and stood at the other end of the table. For a few silent seconds, both concentrated on what they would wish for, glancing at each other, barely missing the other's glances. Finally Orihime started scribbling on hers and Ichigo began on his.
I wish for Kurosaki Ichigo's happiness for all his life and all his lives to come.
I wish for Inoue Orihime's happiness for all her life and all her lives to come.
Orihime reunited the pen with its companions and grinned at her carefully written out wish. Ichigo finished his at the same time and they looked up at each other; and then swiftly smacked their papers against their chests.
"A-Ano…" Orihime began nervously. "We…uh…we shouldn't look at each other's wishes…"
Ichigo agreement was enthusiastic.
"Be-Because…the wishes might not come true if someone we know reads them!"
He nodded again. "Of course. Right. Absolutely. Totally agree. So…uh…why don't we hang them on opposite sides of this bamboo…thing…"
She bobbled her head up and down. "Good idea, Kurosaki-kun!"
The teens moved to their chosen spots and had just tightened the knots on their wishes when suddenly a wild gush of wind swept through the festival causing the fair-goers to squeal as they held themselves together and warily watch the various outlandish decorations sway dangerously. The wild flapping of hundreds of wishes sounded like a great flock of magpies soaring just above their heads. Orihime squeaked as she held down her yukata with one hand, clapping the other against her hair, but to no avail as the wind whipped her hair down around her.
Ichigo raced over to the teetering girl since clearly two limbs were not near enough to keep the clumsy girl standing, and caught her in his arms just as she collapsed. Collapsed? He turned the limp young woman in his arms to discover she was unconscious. "Inoue!" Dropping his knees to the ground, he brushed the hair out of her face. "Inoue! Dammit, wake up! Inoue!!"
The tall man snuggled his face against her dark chocolate hair as he stood behind her and tightened his arms around her delicate waist. She leaned her head back against his shoulder, staring at the late afternoon sun over the river and sighed contentedly. He brushed her hair away from her neck and pressed his lips to the soft skin. Trailing up to the side of her cheek and against her ear, he murmured the words she would never get enough of, "I love you."
She moved her head to the side and allowed her lips to be captured before smiling into his brown eyes and lifting a hand to his soft, black spikes. "I love you too." He lowered his head to give her another thorough kiss. As his lips moved against hers, he slid a hand underneath the front of her black kimono, smiling when his fingers met warm skin. "Kaien!"
"Miyako!" he mocked with a devilish grin.
"What do you think you're doing out in the open like this?!" Miyako cried while her vibrant blue eyes darted to and fro, searching the woods for signs of other shinigami, but without making any effort to move from her husband's embrace.
Kaien chuckled softly. "There's no one for miles. It's just you and me, sweetheart…for once."
Miyako's body shuddered under the feel of his warm breath against her cheek. "B-But still, out in the open?!"
He turned her around to face him and looked at her aghast. "Why, Miyako…I was just goin' for a little kissin' and some gropin'…" He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "What was your naughty little head thinkin'?Hmm?"
His wife's jaw dropped open in shock as her face turned bright red. "K-Kaien!" She planted her fists on her waist, pursing her lips together. "You brute! Why do you have to make it your life's purpose to tease me into oblivion?"
He laughed and pulled her closer. "It's not my fault your reactions are irresistibly adorable! Now about being a brute…I kinda like the sound of that. You don't mind if I make every effort to live up to that title do you?" She shrieked and giggled as he swung her around in his arms and nipped playfully at her neck. "I'll take that as meaning 'No, Kaien darling, I don't mind, please be a brute to me!'"
She tried, and failed, to frown as she swatted at his arm. He flinched as if in great pain and her eyes grew huge in sudden serious concern. "Kaien? I'm sorry! Did I really hurt you?!"
His dipped head could only manage a short nod before forcing out hoarse words, "If you could just kiss it and make it better…"
Her expression immediately became skeptical. "Kiss it? …Well…anything for my poor injured husband," she said with a hint of sarcasm. "Where exactly does it hurt?" Kaien pointed to just above his clavicle. "But I didn't hit you there!"
He shrugged. "Your hit was so powerful it shot the pain all the way from my arm up to here." She cocked an eyebrow at him. He shrugged again. "Well suit yourself if you don't want to take care of your husband…but if you do decide to take pity you better hurry before it loses altitude and starts dropping lower…a lot lower…"
Her eyes widened with horror before shoving his chin out of the way and moving her lips to the spot he'd indicated. A second later he let out a yelp. "Y-You bit me!" he accused.
She grinned impishly at him only to feel her face drop as he looked at her with a dark look in his eyes. "N-Now Kaien…I was only joking arou – nngh!" As he ravished his wife he scooped her up in his arms, intending to carry her off to a dark part of the woods, ignoring the sudden rough gust of wind that whipped at their hair and garments. But he was abruptly interrupted when the hands that had dug into his hair dropped away and her body went limp. His eyes snapped open to see her head lolling to the side.
"Miyako!" He fell to his knees with her still in his arms and brushed tendrils from her face. "Miyako! Dammit, wake up! Miyako!!"
"Ichigo!" He lifted his head to his name being called and saw Tatsuki running towards them. "What happened? What did you do to her?!" She skidded to a stop and fell to her knees next to him, earnestly studying Orihime's face.
"I didn't do nothin' to her, baka! All of a sudden she passed out like this! Go find a doctor! Find my dad!" Tatsuki glared at his panicked face for a split second. "GO!" Just as she scrambled to her feet, Ichigo looked down at the feel of movement in his arms.
"Inoue? Inoue, can you hear me?!"
"Ichigo!" This time it was Renji and Rukia running up.
"Huh? What the hell are you guys doin' here?" Ichigo scowled.
"Well hello to you too," Rukia responded impatiently. "But what happened to Orihime?! What did you do to her?!"
"Oi! Why does everyone keep saying that?!"
"Hey!" Tatsuki interrupted. "Keep your voices down, will ya!"
Ichigo turned back to his awakening bundle. "Inoue?" he tried again.
"Are you okay?" Ichigo unconsciously stroked her arm lightly, soothing her and trying to slow down his out-of-control heartbeat.
"Ugh…my head hurts."
He lifted his hand and softly brushed the tips of his fingers against her forehead. "What happened there? You gave us a scare."
"Us?" The auburn haired girl's lids finally fluttered open and looked up into Ichigo's face only to snap to the size of saucers. Ichigo was equally startled as he stared down into her eyes. They both stayed frozen stiff, their eyes glued to each other.
Renji shuffled uncomfortably. "Oi, you guys need a room or somethin'?"
Rukia frowned in lingering concern. She moved closer and leaned towards her friend. "Orihime? You okay?" Finally the girl in his arms dragged her eyes away from Ichigo's face to look at Rukia.
Rukia blinked. "Kuchiki-san? What the hell? Since when did you go back to call-" Rukia suddenly broke off in a gasp as she staggered backwards, her hand clamped against her mouth.
Renji caught her in her backward motion, stunned to find that her body was shaking. "Rukia? Hey, what's wrong?"
Rukia could only lift a finger and point in shock at the girl in Ichigo's lap. "H-Her eyes!"
Renji frowned and spoke as he squinted to look at what was so shocking about her eyes, "What the hell is wrong with her – Holy shit!" He clutched Rukia tighter.
Ichigo placed a finger on the side of the girl's chin and tugged till she was looking at him again. "Y-Your eyes…they-" He broke off as he scowled deeper in confusion at bright blue that had only moments ago been stormy grey.
Recovered from her daze, she suddenly frowned and crossed her arms in frustration. "What is suddenly so terrible about my eyes? More importantly what happened to your hair?! It's orange!"
His head jerked back. Okay that kind of stung…She'd always said she liked his hair… "Yeah, so what else is new?" he growled testily.
"Huh? What…else is…new?" She cocked her head at the unusual phrasing. "Well for one thing your eyes are lighter and what on earth are you wearing?!" She then noticed her strange surroundings. "And where are we?! What's going on, Kaien?"
"Kaien?" Okay, if being repulsed by his hair had stung, calling him by another guy's name was really crackin' his nuts.
"Mi-Miyako-dono?!" Rukia suddenly breathed.
The blue-eyed, auburn-haired girl glanced up at Rukia. "Yes?"
"Holy frick," Renji exclaimed.
"Miyako-dono?" Ichigo and Tatsuki said in unison.
"What the hell is going on here? Who is Miyako?" Ichigo demanded.
Rukia ignored him. "Miyako-dono is it really you?"
The young woman cocked an eyebrow at the short shinigami. "Last I checked…" She went back to studying the man who was still holding her. After only a short moment she shrieked and scrambled away from him, pointing accusingly. "Wait…you-you're not my husband!!"
Ichigo's face went scarlet. "I…uh…no…I mean of – of course not…I'm not…your…" He coughed awkwardly. "What…what are you talking about, Inoue?"
"Why do you look so much like my husband? Are you a relative? And why do you keep calling me 'Inoue'?! Who is this 'Inoue'? Do I look like her or something?" The last question she directed at Rukia who nodded slowly.
"In the face…very much so…Miyako-dono…" Suddenly Rukia broke from Renji's hold and hastily ran to the confused woman, tackling her in a tight embrace. "Miyako…dono."
Miyako, startled by Rukia's rare show of such strong affection, wrapped her arms around Rukia and stroked her back. "Kuchiki-san…hey…what's wrong? Are your comrades treating you badly again? You know you shouldn't listen to a word they say because none of it is true. I know that better than you yourself do. And Kaien too."
Rukia's body shook as Miyako's familiar words and soothing voice washed over her. "Mi-Miyako-dono."
Miyako's frown deepened. She had never known Rukia to cry before; only once had she seen a hint of suspicious sheen across the big violet eyes. What on earth had happened?
"H-How is this possible…" Renji said as he watched the embracing women in awe.
Finally Rukia gathered her wits about her and pulled away, sniffling and blinking away the last of her combined grief and joy. Miyako smiled big at her. "There now, feel better? I don't suppose you want to tell me what's got you so upset?"
Rukia smiled shakily. It was so like her to completely forget her own troubling situation at hand in order to help a troubled friend. "I…I think I have to…although I don't know how."
Miyako tilted her head to the side in confusion. "Well that's awfully cryptic. Why don't you just open your mouth and let it flow from there." She looked up at the tall redhead that was now standing beside Rukia, looking at her with deep worry written all over his face. Miyako smiled to herself and wondered if maybe the day was soon when he would finally be honest with Rukia.
Just then a light breeze blew her hair in front of her face and she hastily brushed it back in place. And then she froze…something was very, very wrong with her hair. Cautiously, she reached up and grabbed a strand that seemed too long and slowly brought it into her field of vision. With a small cry she dropped it only to pick it back up again. And then she grasped another piece of hair. And then another. And then another. Unless she had completely taken leave of her senses, which she figured was entirely possible at this point, her hair had suddenly not only grown a few inches but had gone from dark brown to light auburn.
She noticed her hands…they seemed the same, and yet not. They were unfamiliar somehow. She then realized her whole body looked the same yet somehow it didn't seem to belong to her. She looked down at the yukata she was wearing. It was no longer standard black cloth, but black silk and covered in flower designs. Miayko looked around at the four people staring at her. "What is this?" Her gaze leveled with Ichigo. "And where is my husband?"
"Miyako! Are you-"
"H-Hey! Miyako, you're alive!" He placed his hand on the side of her face. "Jeez, I know I'm a sexy devil but don't you think fainting is a bit much?" He laughed nervously, still shaken by her sudden collapse.
Kaien blinked. More nervous laughter. "Hey now, yeah so I'm also a cocky bastard but you don't gotta deflate me by sayin' some other fella's name! Isn't that a little harsh, Miya…huh?" She had opened and her eyes and was peering up at him. He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head before looking again…Still grey…Was the light playing tricks on him? "Hey…you, uh…you don't look so good…kinda looks like your blue eyes faded into grey, sweetheart."
"Huh? What do you mean?" she asked groggily as she tried to see through the haze. So Kurosaki-kun calling her sweetheart was kind of nice, but it was kinda ruined by the fact that he didn't even know her eye color. And how many years had they known each other? Talk about dashing a girl's hopes to smithereens…
"What do you mean what do I mean? …Oh, nevermind…maybe I'm goin' colorblind. We should probably get back and see Unohana."
"Unohana? But, Kurosaki-kun…she's too far away and-" Unknowingly mirroring her counterparts actions she suddenly broke off with a shriek and struggled out of the man's hold, scampering backwards on her hands and feet. "Wh-Who…how…your hair…your…you're not Kurosaki-kun!" she cried in horror.
Kaien gave her an incredulous look. "Uh…no, no I'm not. Who's this Kurosaki-kun?"
Orihime reached over and pinched hard on her arm. "Ow!"
"What the hell are you doing, woman! You-" This time he broke off as he noticed something strange about her reiatsu…it wasn't quite right…The woman in front of him suddenly sent him a hostile frown.
"Wh-Who are you and what have you done with Kurosaki-kun?" Orihime demanded nervously yet firmly.
"Who am I?! I'm your husband of course!"
"H-Husband?!" But she hadn't even had her first kiss yet! How could she be married?! And to someone who looked a lot like Kurosaki-kun but was definitely not him…
Kaien narrowed his eyes at his…no, wait…he closed his lids and concentrated. Slowly he opened them again and felt his panicked heart beating hard, not wanting to believe… "Who are you? A hollow? Where…where's Miyako?"
Miyako…where had she heard that name before…something Rukia had told her…said that she reminded her of Miyako. Orihime was remembering now…Miyako had been third seat in Rukia's division…married to her lieutenant. Orihime's grey eyes widened as she remembered the story that Rukia had struggled to tell her… they were supposed to have died…decades ago. Movement caught her peripheral eye and she turned to see Captain Ukitaki making his way towards them.
"Ukitake-san!" She waved at him.
As he was almost upon them he waved back. "Miyako, Kaien. Sorry to interrupt your leave but-"
"Captain!" Kaien interrupted, his voice tense. "This…this is not Miyako. She-"
"Not Miyako?" Ukitake laughed. "Kaien, I don't think your wife would appreciate-" He stopped with a jolt as he realized the familiar looking woman felt like a complete stranger. "Not Miyako…" he said again in a low tone. "What's going on?"
"Ukitake-san!" Orihime scrambled to her feet and looked into the kindly brown eyes. "It's me, Orihime, Inoue Orihime!"
The captain frowned as he studied the grey eyes. "Am I supposed to know that name?"
Orihime started. "Y-Yes…don't you remember? I came here with Kurosaki-kun and Sado-kun and Ishida-kun to save Rukia. And then you let Rukia and I train here before I was captured by the arrancar…"
"Whoa, slow down," Kaien put a hand up. "Who are these people and how do you know Kuchiki? And when has she needed saving?"
"And what is the arrancar?" Ukitake asked.
Orihime felt a chill go up her spine as she stared at them in disbelief…what has happened? Kurosaki-kun…
Rukia took a deep, shaky breath. "Miyako-dono…I…I don't know how to say this…" The small noble closed her eyes and felt a firm, supportive hand on her shoulder and was able to brace herself as Renji's strength flowed into her. She looked into the blue eyes of the one she'd so deeply admired and motioned towards the scowling orange-haired man, "I don't know exactly what has happened, but to start with, his name is Kurosaki Ichigo and I…I have long believed that he is the reincarnation of…of Kaien-dono. And also I had my suspicions that Inoue Orihime, the girl whose body you now inhabit, was the reincarnation of you."
Ichigo and Miyako looked at her with disbelief. "But, Kuchiki-san," Miyako said with growing apprehension. "In order for someone to be reincarnated they have to…they have to die…"
Rukia could only look at her sadly and nod.
Miyako violently shook her head. "No, no, no, no! Kaien's not dead!" she insisted desperately, forgetting that she also was supposed to be dead. "I was with him only a few minutes ago! He was right next to me! We'd finally gotten some leave and were able to spend some time together when…when…He's just not dead!"
Big violet eyes began filling up with tears again and Rukia struggled to open her mouth and explain, but a hand placed on her other shoulder stopped her and she glanced up at Renji gratefully as he told Miyako that both of them had been dead for dozens of years now, leaving out all the details of how, and reiterating whose body she was in now.
Ichigo was listening just as intently, never having heard much about Kaien or Miyako before except that he'd been told a couple of times he looked like the guy, but he was quickly losing patience as Miyako tried to come to grips with the situation. Yeah, he felt bad about it and it was weird seeing Rukia cry and he didn't like it much, but dammit sitting around and talking about the past wasn't going to get Orihime back in her body. He jumped to feet. "So what does all this mean when it comes to what happened to Inoue? Where is she? Is she in Soul Society?"
"I don't know, Ichigo," Rukia said. "I really…" She frowned in thought. "What exactly were you guys doing before she fainted?"
"We were making wishes and had just hung 'em when that big wind came through. And then I ran over to catch her."
"Which ones are they?"
"I'm not telling you!" Ichigo protested.
"Ichigo! Do you want to get Orihime back or not?!"
He set his jaw, stalked over to his, and plucked it off the bamboo branch; he then grabbed Orihime's, not looking at it before he placed both in Rukia's hands.
Tatsuki raised her eyebrows in amusement. "You got a grey one and she got an orange one?"
He scowled at her impatiently. "Yeah, what of it?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "Orange hair and grey eyes? Ring any bells, Kurosaki?"
"What are you-" His eyes widened and then shook his head. "It's just a coincidence, Tatsuki!" He looked back to Rukia who has glancing back and forth between the two strips of paper in half delight, half shock. "So? Any ideas?" He asked insistently, too worried to worry about blushing.
"I might." Rukia looked up with a big grin and gave him the wishes.
He frowned and glanced at his for only a moment before looking at the orange one. His eyes grew huge and he read it again. He read over his again. He held them next to each other checking word against word, his heart flip-flopping dangerously. "They…they're…"
"The same, yes," Rukia finished.
"What?!" Tatsuki exclaimed. "You both wished for the same thing? What was it?" Eagerly she motioned to him to hand them over which he did as if in a daze. "Holy crap!" she cried with a growing grin when she finished reading them over. "Holy crap…"
Miyako frowned in confusion. "They both wished for consecrated excrement? Is that valuable in the real world?" she asked as she wrinkled her nose and then blinked at the bursts of laughter.
"No, Miyako-dono," Renji answered her. "It's just an expression of astonishment. So what did they wish for?"
Rukia looked at Ichigo, who was thoughtfully contemplating the distant tree line, and then looked back to the group. "In the exact same wording, they both wished for each other's happiness."
Miyako turned to Tatsuki and held out her hand as she smiled kindly. "May I see those, please?"
"Uh, yeah…yes, of course." The tomboy handed them over and watched as the gentle woman examined them and then looked around at the festival.
"This is Tanabata, isn't it?"
Rukia cocked her head. "Yes, but how did you…"
"I read about it in a book once, it's one of my favorite human festivals…The legend is of two lovers separated except for one day, this day, on which they are able to reunite. Correct?" She waited for the heads to bob in confirmation and then turned to Ichigo. "Kurosaki-san, this Inoue Orihime is your girlfriend, of course."
Ichigo shook himself out of his fog. "Wha…n-no! No she isn't! I mean…well, no…she's not my…my girlfriend…"
An expression of irritation scrunched Miyako's face as she glanced between Ichigo and Renji. "Pfft…men…" She waved her hand dismissively. "Well anyway, you want her to be your girlfriend don't you?"
Ichigo's face burned and all he could manage were breathy noises.
"Well, I think that answers that question." She turned back to his three amused friends, feeling her mind begin to clear and herself begin to take control of her situation. "And Rukia, you believe that these two are the reincarnation of Kaien and me. They made identical wishes on Tanabata, the festival when lovers separated by fate are reunited. And now both pairs of lovers have been separated by some kind of fateful occurrence…" Miyako paused, ignoring the sputtering from the boy next to her, thinking, trying to find answers for this…
"B-But we're…Orihime and I aren't actually lo…lo-lo…lo…"
"Lovers?" Miyako provided.
A short, blushing nod.
"Well do you love her?"
Ichigo's mouth was suddenly limited to silent open and close motions. He couldn't believe he was having this conversation with a complete stranger. And not only that, but it was a stranger who looked and sounded almost exactly like the woman in question.
"Your fish face tells me you do. Does anyone know about Orihime's feelings towards him?"
They all looked away and shifted uncomfortably. Tatsuki finally answered, praying this breach of confidence wouldn't come back to haunt her. "She loves him, has for a long time." Tatsuki glanced at the boy her friend was head over heels for and nearly jumped at what she saw; he was staring – no, boring holes into her with more emotions on his face than she'd ever seen him display in her entire life.
"So now that we've established that, what can we do to get Inoue-san and I back into our original bodies…?"
Rukia reluctantly spoke, "Well…if this all has to do with Tanabata, then according to the legend, the one time they got together they had to cross a river with no bridge. I think it was magpies or crows that spread out their wings and made a bridge for the couple…but somehow I doubt that's gonna help us."
Miyako tapped at her chin and began pacing back and forth. "Magpies and crows…magpies and crows…let's see, magpies mean good luck for the most part…And crows are known as being divine messengers or guides to souls…guides to souls…" She stopped. "That's basically what shinigami are…so maybe the key to bridging the gap is shinigami…"
"Yes, but all except one of us are shinigami, how will that help us?" Renji asked skeptically.
"Well, I'm not quite sure but…"
Miyako and the others continued to deliberate as Ichigo stood by silently growing more and more frustrated and angry by the second. He couldn't believe he had let her get taken again. Failed to protect her again. And this time there wasn't anything tangible to fight. If only there was flesh and bone that he could tear into and destroy…but they had no idea what it was that happened or what had caused this. He knew where and when she was…but he couldn't get to her. Dammit…He'd always hated the stupid tragedy of Tanabata. What the hell? A fricking river separated them? Milky Way? If he was Hikoboshi he would have blown the thing to hell and run away with her. But he didn't even have a river to cross, he had to cross time and space…tch…if somebody would just point the way to Father Time he'd gladly tear the old man to shreds…
God, were they still talking? Talking and talking and talking. They needed to do something, dammit! He clenched his fists and glared at the group. He had to get her back and now. Orihime…dammit, dammit, "Dammit!" he roared, causing them all to jump and stare at the shaking boy, his eyes blazing. "Haven't you talked enough?! We have to bring her back! I have to bring her back! We don't even know if she's okay or if she's scared or hurt or…" He couldn't see straight, nothing would come out of his mouth except growls through gritted teeth. His palms dug into his eye sockets. "For the love of God find something I can fight! Find something I can defeat for her! Gah…dammit…"
He looked down to see auburn hair and in his blurred vision and enraged mind he thought for a moment that…but his sight cleared and he was looking into blue eyes. Why weren't they grey? He liked grey eyes. His scowl turned fierce at the gentle woman. Blue eyes on that face pissed him off. He wanted them to be grey so why the hell were they blue?!
Orihime sat staring at the dark brown chunk of hair clenched in her tiny fist. It was very beautiful…but it wasn't hers. Somehow…somehow she'd ended up in the body of a woman from long before she was even born…but somehow she had to get back home and return this woman's body to her. She had tried to explain where and when she was from. Ukitake and Kaien stood, staring at her.
Finally Kaien spoke up, trying to get a hold on his panicking thoughts. "So, you're from the future…Well, how's Kuchiki doin'? She got friends?"
Orihime nodded enthusiastically. "Oh yes, lots of friends. I consider her one of my dearest."
He nodded as if satisfied. "That's good…and Abarai, what about him? He married her yet?"
She let a long-suffering sigh. "No…they're not even dating…"
"Whaaat?!" Kaien stepped back in horror. "You serious?! That idiot monkey…Has he even gotten seated yet?"
She nodded. "He's lieutenant."
Kaien groaned in disgust. "What the hell is he waitin' for, an engraved invitation?…Well anyway…" He scratched at his head… "So how do you know Cap here and Kuchiki but you don't know me?"
She swallowed hard. "Well…um…"
"I'm dead by then aren't I?" he suddenly concluded.
Her eyes snapped to his face. "I…I'm sorry…"
He stayed silent for a few short moments and then shrugged. "Ah well, it happens…What…uh…what about Miyako? Do you know my wife?"
Orihime's eyes turned truly sympathetic as she shook her head.
He let that sink in for a few moments. "…Miyako…" he breathed and shut his eyes. "How…no, nevermind…don't tell me how…just…who…God I'm probably gonna regret asking this but…who dies first?"
She hesitated. "A-Ano…I'm sorry…Miyako…"
His eyes stayed shut as his face flinched, but otherwise stayed motionless. "…Tell me just one thing…do you know how long I lived after she…after she passed on?"
Orihime tried to blink away the tears that were threatening to spill out. "Only a few hours…"
He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Was I avenging her?" He waited for the confirming nod and nodded in return, satisfied. "That's how it should be…" For a few long seconds he stared off at the river, and then suddenly he smiled big and clapped his hands together. "Well then…let's try to figure out how we're gonna get her back here and you back there, shall we?"
The girl blinked in surprise at the sudden change in mood. "Y-Yes, of course."
Ukitake finally spoke, "Well let's start at the beginning. What's the last thing you remember before you woke up here?"
Ichigo turned away from the woman who wasn't Orihime and shoved his hands through his hair. "Goddammit," he growled under his breath. He felt like he was going crazy. This was no good…no good at all. How could he have lost her again? He was such an idiot…spouting on and on about protecting her and shit…who was he foolin'? He couldn't protect her…he couldn't protect anybody he'd promised to…never could…
His friends and Miyako watched him struggle and then looked at each other, helpless to do anything for him. Miyako noticed Renji was holding on to Rukia's shoulder again. She sighed to herself. He was still watching out for her, a little closer than before, but still so far away…
Rukia suddenly left to go try and calm Ichigo down, even though she usually just got him pumped up for battle or pissed off…calming him down and making him smile was what Orihime did. Come back, Orihime…he needs you…do you see what being away from him for even a little while does to Ichigo?
The captain, the lieutenant, and the healer stood in a silent triangle having already exhausted all facts, suggestions, and speculations.
Ukitake lifted his eyes sadly. "There is the possibility that-"
"Don't say it, Captain," Kaien interrupted. "Please just…don't say it…"
The captain nodded. He hated to see his subordinates in pain, especially his lieutenant and third seat. They were really good people…they didn't deserve to be separated like this.
"So this Kurosaki-kun," Kaien began. "He your boyfriend?"
Orihime raised huge eyes and started flailing her hands all about. "N-No he's not my-" she broke off and unintentionally dropped her hands and eyes, "H-He's not my boyfriend."
"But you care about him," Kaien insisted.
She looked back into the man's face that looked so much like Ichigo's…but it wasn't him…it wasn't Kurosaki-kun…She knew what Ukitake had been about to say. They might not ever return to where they're supposed to be. She couldn't believe this had happened to her…Again she'd helplessly been swept away from friends…away from him. The promise she had made to herself after she'd returned from Hueco Mundo that if she and Ichigo were ever going to be apart again that she would tell him how much she loved him while he was actually conscious…The first chance she got she'd broken it…now he may never know…but maybe…maybe that's for the best…
When Rukia was out of earshot Miyako turned to Renji. "What are you doing, Abarai-san?"
Renji cast her a confused look. "Um…just standing here…"
"No, I mean, why are you still so far away from Kuchiki-san?"
He knew what she meant, but he tried to feign puzzlement. "I don't know what-"
"Yes you do, Abarai Renji," Miyako softly admonished. "You know exactly what I mean and you need to do something about it. Just look at your friend, do you see how much he is suffering right now? Too much time has passed already; don't let anymore go by. You never know how much time you have left with her."
Renji could say nothing and only stood still, staring after the woman he had spent his entire life working for…just to reach her. But…what if… He glanced at Miyako. He'd heard Kaien hadn't wasted hardly a second when they'd been of age to marry, but even so, the time together they were given had been so relatively short…
Ahead of them Rukia reached Ichigo and tentatively placed a hand on his tense arm. He whirled around and she almost jumped back at the wild look in his eyes. It was worst than when Orihime had been taken by the arrancar. Then he had had a solution, a plan; but now he had nothing. "Ichigo…"
He looked at her unseeingly. "Dammit…I'm losing my mind here. She's been gone for hours and…what the hell happened?! Why her of all people?! Hasn't she been through enough?!" Rukia flinched as he violently kicked a lawn chair and sent it flying. Hours? It's not even been one hour, Ichigo…
"Dammit…I never even got the chance…" Rukia leaned in as he trailed off.
"The chance for what?" she softly prompted.
"Inoue-san?" Kaien prompted again. "Do you care about him?"
Ichigo looked out towards the river below them. God…if he had only been so lucky to have only a river to cross…
Orihime bit her lip to hold back the familiar ache behind her eyes. She looked towards the setting sun over the river; sunsets always reminded her of him…his hair was so beautiful…
"I never got the chance to tell her that I…"
Without the smallest tremor in her voice she said, "I love him."
"Just once I wanted to tell her that I love her…"
Both worlds and both times were suddenly attacked by a violent wind that sent waves high and deep enough that they parted the rivers. For a moment it looked as if a wide road was made in the rivers, high walls of water on either side. Orihime and Miyako collapsed. Kaien caught her. Renji caught her, but she was soon grabbed from his arms by Ichigo who clutched her to his chest.
Ichigo and Kaien held their breaths as seconds later the eyelashes began to flutter.
Please be grey.
Please be blue.
"Ku-Kurosaki-kun?" A short, desperately relieved laugh escaped Ichigo's lips as he heard that adorable stutter and found himself looking into beautiful silver eyes.
"Inoue…" He roughly pressed his cheek against hers and held her body tight against his; suddenly wishing for a barrel of super glue to permanently attach her to him so she would never disappear again.
Orihime clamped her arms tightly around him; forgetting any shyness she fingered his orange hair…black was okay, but orange was definitely her preference.
Tatsuki smiled in relief and, resisting the urge to embrace her friend, she shoved her hands in her pockets and started walking away to give them privacy.
Rukia had made her way over to where Renji was standing a ways away from the couple. Renji frowned, "What do you think happened?"
Rukia shrugged and softly replied, "Who knows? I guess they were fated or something and maybe fate just got tired of them taking too long and decided to do something about it."
Renji flicked his scarlet eyes back to Rukia. "Rukia…"
He placed a hand on her back and started to lead her away. "Rukia, there's something I need to tell you."
She turned her face to look at him fully. He was looking unusually solemn and determined… Her eyes grew huge. Could he finally…? She covered the results of her rapidly increasing heartbeat with a noble's façade and nodded shortly, allowing him to guide her away from the embracing couple, leaving them to themselves.
Ichigo tried not to choke on the lump in his throat. "Inoue…don't…"
Reluctantly, she tried to pull away, but his iron hold was, thankfully, not letting her go. "I'm sorry; you probably don't like people playing with your hair. I-"
"Inoue…" he tried again. "Don't…don't ever leave me again, okay?"
She bit back a gasp as his tone nearly broke her heart. He sounded like a little boy… She buried her face in his shoulder and hugged him tighter. "I won't. I promise."
Kaien had nearly kissed his wife raw when they looked up at a cough a few feet away from them and gazed at the tall white-haired captain standing with a hell butterfly flitting about next to his head.
"Captain Ukitake?" Miyako hadn't noticed him before. "Is something wrong?"
"Oh no!" He smiled and waved. "Well, I mean, there was. That troublesome hollow that's been killing several shinigami had been found and we were starting to rally a group to go after it, but I've just received news that it has vanished again. So anyways, enjoy the rest of your leave…in fact go ahead and take tomorrow off too."
Kaien grinned at his superior, as he squeezed his wife. "Thank you, Captain."
"Yes, my pleasure." He smiled at Miyako. "And good to have you back with us, Miyako."
She smiled. "Thank you, Captain Ukitake."
He coughed again. "Yes, well, I'm off then." As soon as he'd shunpo'd away the couple went back to clinging to each other for dear life. Immeasurable moments later, Miyako pulled away slightly to look at his face and wondered if he knew that they would…yes, she saw that he knew. And he saw that she knew. Neither would ever speak the dark words.
"I met your reincarnation," Miyako finally said.
He raised his eyebrows. "Oh? Reincarnation? Do you think all this had something to do with that?"
She nodded. "Was there someone else in my body?"
"Yeah, an Inoue Orihime."
"I think she was my reincarnation."
He considered this for a moment. "Was his name Kurosaki?"
They said no more, only smiled sadly at each other, both thinking the same thing. No matter what happened to them, at least the kind of love they shared would never die. Kaien pulled her back into his chest and she felt him breathe in deeply.
"Well this Kurosaki was probably one sexy son of a gun, wasn't he?"
Miyako giggled into his uniform. "Yes, he looked exactly like you."
"Really? Wow…I hope you didn't fall for my extremely handsome future self, although I'm sure it was difficult."
"No…I'm not a big fan of orange hair."
He jerked back and wrinkled his nose at her. "Orange?! What the hell…" She laughed and reached up to finger a black tendril as he snorted. "Well I suppose it's for the best…I don't know how I'd feel about you falling for another me."
Kaien kissed her laughing mouth and then rested his forehead against hers. "I suddenly feel the urge to find the thickest chain there is and lock you to me, waist to waist so you're never away from me."
She smiled, her heart feeling the same urge. "Well that'd be fun for a while, but don't you think it'd be a little inconvenient at times?"
"Nah." He grinned at her giggle as he rubbed his nose with hers. "We'll just have to take all our showers together instead of just some of them…and privacy in the bathroom is way overrated. And besides," he wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Chains can be verrry fun in the bedroom."
She giggled and playfully nipped at his nose. "Kaien, you're impossible."
Kaien chuckled and pulled her back into his chest as he leaned back till they were lying in the grass in each other's arms. Thoughtfully, he stroked his fingers up and down her back and his tone turned serious. "Miyako."
"I wanna spend every second with you."
Miyako ran her hand across his chest and pulled him closer. "Me too, Kaien…me too."
"Kurosaki-kun…there's…there's something I want to tell you." Orihime clutched the back of his black t-shirt in her fists, feeling afraid that he would suddenly dematerialize before she got the words out.
"There's something I want to tell you too, Inoue…" His iron tight arms pulled her closer, if possible. Before anything else was said he had to say it…
"I love you," they said in unison.
They both blinked in confusion and unwillingly loosened the hold they had on each other so they could see their faces.
"Did you say…?" Ichigo began.
Orihime nodded. "Did you…?"
Ichigo nodded and after a split second of frozen silence they both burst out laughing in a strange mixed tone of relief, disbelief, and happiness.
Later, Miyako had finished telling her husband about her very brief time in the real world's future, and was lazily tracing circles on his chest with her finger as she frowned in thought. Suddenly her finger stilled, "Oh!" Kaien lifted his head and scowled at her frozen finger and put his hand over it, urging it to keep moving. Miyako continued her invisible finger-painting as she tilted her head to look at him. "Did Inoue-san say anything before she collapsed?"
Feeling very distracted, Kaien somehow managed to remember, "Yeah, the last thing she said was 'I love him'."
"O-o-oh." She laid her head back down and smiled contentedly. Just as Ichigo had said the same words, a breeze had picked up and carried the words to her ears before she'd passed out.
Figuring she would probably want a verbal response before he responded to his physical instinct to pounce her, he asked, "What does 'o-o-oh' mean?"
"That's the last thing he said before I came back. I just remembered another meaning for magpies…a flock of them together means 'the call of love'." She grinned and continued breathlessly, "A flock to bridge the gap between Orihime and Hikoboshi…"
A booming crack made Orihime jump in Ichigo's arms. He chuckled into her hair. "It's just the fireworks."
"Fireworks?!" She lifted her head from his shoulder and realized to her shock that it was night. How long had they been there?!
"Do you wanna go watch them by the river?"
"Oh! Yes!" She grinned at him.
The corner of his mouth tugged. "Kay." But then his face fell when he realized moving meant separating…and that so wasn't cool. Finally he shrugged and turned her to hook one arm under her knees, letting the other support her back as he stood up.
"Ku-Kurosaki-kun!" she cried in embarrassment.
He just grinned at her and walked towards the embankment, finding a spot and plopping down. Shifting her body slightly, he made sure she was comfortable in his lap before looking back into her face. Right now he didn't think he'd ever be able to go more than a few minutes, seconds without seeing it… Christ, he was a smitten idiot…
A set of fireworks went off in front of them and he smirked when he noticed she wasn't looking away from his face. He struggled not to grin and forced a scowl into place. Now that was a switch… "You're not watching the fireworks."
She bit her lip against the incoming smile. "Neither are you."
He released his frown and laughed, his body shaking hers. On impulse, he tucked her hair behind her ear, brushing his fingers against the source of her powers. Of their own accord his fingers traveled down her ear and swept across her jawline. His mouth tugged as he felt her shudder and gasp. He placed his hand full on the side of her face. "I think I'm gonna kiss you."
Her eyes grew big, but she nodded. "Okay."
Gently, he ran his thumb across her mouth as he moved his head down…taking his time and not wanting to frighten her. He could feel her hot breath on his lips and then…
…Ichigo's head snapped back as he scowled and rubbed at his forehead.
"Ku-Kurosaki-kun? Are you alright?"
"I…I think…Well, I guess my head ran into your hairpins."
Orihime frowned. Her hairpins hadn't been that close to his forehead… She worried her lip and sighed. Aw shucks, the mood's all wrong now… But then she felt his hand back on her face and looked up; he was smiling at her again.
"Wanna try that again?"
She nodded and closed her eyes, waiting…
"Ow! Son of a-"
"Ano…" She watched her love sucking on his finger…and then gasped in horror. "Tsubaki!" she scolded, frowning as he flew out of her hairpin on cue, causing Ichigo to lean back as the angry fairy flew closer until his feet were gripping each of the substitute shinigami's cheeks.
"Yer not allowed to talk you skirt-chasin' scumbag! What do you think yer doin'? Huh? You can't just go around kissin' the princess as you please!" He had bent down and started yanking on Ichigo's bottom lip.
"Tsubaki!" The fairy whirled around at Orihime's stern tone. "Tsubaki you leave him alone and get back in here this instant!"
"No buts! I want him to kiss me so you're going to sit in here and be quiet while he does. Understood?" She shook her finger at Tsubaki even as her face turned deep red.
The miniature firecracker fumed and turned to give the orange-head one last glare and another hard jerk on his lip. "Fine. But try anything on her and I'll explode you from the inside out into so many tiny pieces that-"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm comin'." He shoved hard on Ichigo's face to propel him back towards her hairpin. But then went for just one last finger shake. "Remember what I said punk-"
He was cut short as he was suddenly flashed back into the turquoise flower in a stream of yellow light.
Orihime sighed and fiddled with her obi. "I'm sorry, Kurosaki-kun… He means well but…"
She looked up at Ichigo's hands back on her face, his smile angled crookedly. "It's all right. It's good to know you got some diligent protection for when I'm not around…which will be rare…"
"Really?" she asked, daring to hope.
"Really." He leaned in and nuzzled her nose. "You're gonna get so sick of me…better go ahead and fill out that restraining order request form."
She giggled and Eskimo-kissed him back. "No way."
Ichigo took one wary glance towards her hairpin, and then quickly tilted his head and captured her lips with his in a lingering kiss that had his heart and head exploding. He reluctantly pulled away and gazed at her with half-hooded eyes. "Orihime-"
Before he could utter another word, she threaded impatient fingers through his hair and pulled his lips down to hers. He didn't hesitate for a second and deepened the kiss; the loud thundering in front of them fading into the background as his arms went around her waist and she fingered tantalizing circles on the back of his neck.
Several long minutes later they pulled back and he grinned wickedly at her after catching his breath. "I didn't know you were so…eager, Orihime."
Her mouth popped open, but her eyes narrowed. Defensively she said, "Well…it's just that I'm now a firm believer in not wasting any time."
He kissed her pouty lips and hugged her tightly. "Yeah, me too Hime…me too…" They sat there for a few moments, watching the colorful explosions when Ichigo murmured into her ear in between booms, "So, about this new not-wasting-any-time theory…my family won't be home for hours…"
Orihime yanked back in shock, pressing her hands against his chest and leaning back against his interlaced fingers. "I-Ichigo!" Just then a burst of yellow lit up his face and his laughing expression turned horrified as the infuriated fairy looked ready to gouge his eyes out. Suddenly Tsubaki was yanked back in Orihime's hand, and the fairy found himself up close and personal with her scowl. She put one fist on her hip and looked back and forth between the two. "Boys! You need to behave yourselves!"
"But you heard him!" Tsubaki protested. "This kid's got unpure intentions towards you and-"
"It's 'impure' not 'unpure'" Ichigo mumbled.
"What was that, carrot-top?!"
Ichigo sneered. "I said learn your grammar and while you're at it, learn to take a joke, Tiny Tim!"
Tsubaki's little eye madly twitched. "T-Tiny Tim?! Why you-"
Once again, Tsubaki was interrupted as Shunou suddenly flew out and pushed at his back, shoving him towards the pins. "Enough, Tsubaki. Give these two lovebirds some privacy."
"B-But she's too young to be a lovebird and-"
The attack fairy was shot down again and stuck back into place followed by Shunou after the blonde fairy turned and gave Orihime a thumbs up.
"Sorry, Ichigo-kun…but," she said after her powers had settled down, and then she folded her arms and tried to give him a harsh look. "You brought this upon yourself, you know."
He laughed heartily and tugged her back against his chest, closing his eyes and smiling as she unfolded her arms and wrapped them around his neck. "Yeah, I suppose I did."
When she spoke, he struggled not to tremble as her hot breath caressed his neck. "Ichigo…"
"There's nobody at my apartment…" Orihime clamped her hand against the small spurt of light on the side of her head and smiled against her hero's broad shoulder as he froze. She remained silent and decided to let him choose if she was joking or not and patiently waited to see if he'd pick the right answer…
:D Hope you liked. Now, I don't necessarily hold to the theory of Ichigo & Orihime being the reincarnates of Kaien & Miyako; I rather prefer them having their own love. But I thought it might make for a fun story ^_^
Oh...and what is Orihime really thinking? Well she's not thinking about that you pervs!! XD Jk, I leave it to your imagination. My personal thoughts are a lot more mild than what you might think I'd be thinking XD I'm turning a new leaf I swearz! *innocent face*