by Eros ex Nihilo

Part One

Even though he could not communicate with it, Zaraki Kenpachi could tell it pissed off his zanpakutou when he used it as a toothpick. He ran his tongue over the offending food particle, trying to dislodge it, and used his zanpakutou once more. No use, he'd actually need to either pull out the tooth, or do something more hygienic…with floss… He grunted, and instead of doing either, leaned back on the porch of the Eleventh Division headquarters and prepared for a nap.

"Ken-chan!" Yachiru called, her little voice like a bell. It cut through his lazy nap like a knife, though. "Ken-chan!"

He grunted loud enough for her to hear, and soon her scampering feet were padding towards him on the porch. "Ken-chan! Ken-chan! Big Boobies is visiting! Ken-chan!"

Kenpachi cracked an eye open to look up. Yachiru's grinning face dominated his vision, but in the background he could see the orange-haired former-ryoka with the impressive rack. She had her head bowed with her hands clasped in front of her. She made a pretty little bow, her hair moving forward over her shoulders. "Thank you so much, Zaraki-taicho! I promise not to be a burden."

He pulled up his lip at "Zaraki-taicho," but shrugged it off. He wasn't her captain, so what the hell did he care what she called him? "You'll only be a burden if Yachiru doesn't have fun," he told her.

"Oh…okay!" she replied brightly, smiling even as Yachiru grabbed a hold of her hand and began dragging her away.

"Time to play, Big Boobies!" Yachiru chanted several times.

The young woman reached back to pull along a travel case of some kind, still smiling along with Yachiru. Kenpachi grinned and leaned back down. He could still hear Yachiru singing, softer and softer, as she led her guest back into the division headquarters. Yachiru had long ago claimed every room but a few for play rooms or toy rooms or game rooms. They should have been sleeping quarters for the Eleventh Division shinigami, but she'd quarantined them off to four rooms and the dojo.

Kenpachi had his own room, and he was fairly certain his third and fifth seats either shared a room or had their own, but everyone else was made to share quarters on cots and hammocks. Still, if anyone was in their room enough to complain about the cramped sleeping and living arrangements, they weren't really Eleventh Division material.

He sighed, enjoying the afternoon breeze. He would probably have some sake after his nap, and then go back to sleep. It sounded like a great afternoon. Just as he felt the pulls of sleep dragging him down, one heavy clunk landed to his left. He opened his eyes upon smelling sake.

"Don't you agree, Kenpachi?" the fae-looking Ayasegawa Yumichika asked, sitting gracefully on his other side. "It's far too early for drinking."

Ikkaku rolled his eyes, pouring sake out of a large, brown jug. He placed the first saucer on the wooden porch before Kenpachi, who drank it swiftly. "No."

Yumichika sighed, throwing his hair back. "Well it's terribly unsightly to be hung over before nighttime."

"You wouldn't be hung over if you just kept drinking," Ikkaku grumbled, pouring sake into another saucer. "I saw Orihime-chan; do you think that means Kurosaki is here?"

"He's not," Kenpachi answered, feeling a little disappointed.

That orange-haired human kid still owed him a battle. Kenpachi had been focusing on his zanpakutou lately, training to battle Kurosaki on more even footing. Still, if Kurosaki showed up in Soul Society, he wouldn't exactly say no to a fight. The thought of battling Kurosaki again brought a toothy grin to his face.

"Good sake, though," Ikkaku shrugged. "Nanao's been weeding down Kyouraku's supply again – I'm glad to be the benefactor."

"Wondered why it smelled like flowers," Kenpachi snorted. Still, it didn't stop him from drinking another saucer-full.

They sat in silence for a while, enjoying the sake and the soft, cool breeze coming down from the upper atmosphere. Kenpachi never enjoyed anything as much as a good fight. Like Yachiru said, fighting was the only thing that made him really happy. A close second was drinking and napping. Peacetime activities were dull, but could be fun with the right frame of mind. The Old Man made him learn kendo during one such time, and once tried to make him learn to control his reiatsu. Maybe this time the Old Man would try kidou. That might be interesting. If nothing else he could try to pick a fight with Byakuya. That would definitely be fun!

"So," Ikkaku said lightly. "Orihime-chan…"

"She's so beautiful," Yumichika said in a sing-song voice. "She's gotten even more beautiful, too." He paused, continuing in a pouting tone, "She's even more beautiful than me." Yumichika took two drinks in quick succession.

Ikkaku leaned back. "She's got fantastic tits." He paused, drinking. "Matsumoto's got great tits, but Orihime-chan's are just better somehow."

"Her hair's so shiny and smooth," Yumichika sighed. "And she always smells like peaches."

"Did you get a load of her in that school uniform, Yumichika?" Ikkaku asked, sighing dreamily as he took another drink of sake. "Legs for miles…"

"And she's got perfect skin," Yumichika continued, seemingly ignoring Ikkaku's question. "I wonder if she exfoliates…"

"And that ass –"

"Well she's not here for you two, so if you interfere with Yachiru's fun there'll be hell to pay," Kenpachi barked, frowning.

Ikkaku and Yumichika looked at him oddly, so he took a saucer-full of sake and shut up. Maybe he'd noticed all those things about the woman, and maybe he hadn't, but it pissed him off that they couldn't stop talking about her. Yah, so she had a great rack, and pretty eyes, and soft-looking skin…and her hair was always shiny, and her smile lit up a room…and the way her legs met her hips and curved into her stomach…

Orihime was here for Yachiru. Yachiru liked her, she made Yachiru happy. That was enough to make Kenpachi happy. He tried to convince himself that it pissed him off that Ikkaku and Yumichika couldn't shut up about the woman, but he knew it was more than that. The combination of sake and his officers' descriptions of Orihime's…assets…was actually making him horny. Typically this could be fixed with a good fight, but there wasn't anyone around to make a fight worthwhile.

Kenpachi frowned, lumbered up to stand. At his height and weight, it took a little more than just a jug of sake to make him suitably drunk. Something about the conversation had turned his stomach, and he lurched off into the division headquarters to relax and take a nap.

He found himself walking back towards Yachiru's playrooms, following the sounds of her voice before pausing outside the door. He leaned against the wall outside the door, smiling a little bit.

"And which one is this, Big Boobies?" Yachiru asked.

"Um, this is Princess Aurora. She's –"

"It's pink! I like this one best!" Yachiru cheered.

"There's a tiara that goes with it," Orihime said softly.

"I wanna put it on! You wear that one, Big Boobies."

"Um, Yachiru-chan, I don't think it'll fit me…"

Yachiru sighed. "Your boobies are too big," she concluded. "Next time I'll make Nemu-chan come over, and maybe she can wear it. And I'll show you all my secret passages!"

He heard Yachiru's excited laughter and smiled again. Yachiru should have fun, she deserved it. "How long is Ken-chan going to stand at the door? Look at what Big Boobies brought me!

Kenpachi snorted, sliding open the paper-thin doors. Bright dresses were scattered across the room, with glittering party jewelry and toys and coloring books. Apparently most of Orhime's bag had contained treats for Yachiru, which Yachiru was busy enjoying. Yachiru smiled broadly as she twirled in a pink dress with too-long sleeves. Orihime was trying to pin a plastic crown in her hair, looking very serious with bobby pins sticking out between her lips.

"Big Boobies says I'm a dizzy princess now," Yachiru informed him. Kenpachi just had to trust that was a good thing. "She brought all these things we can play with! And candy from the human world!"

She was chittering on, talking about all the things they would do. Orihime was listening attentively, laughing and smiling. It was hard for Kenpachi not to notice that everything his officers had said was true. Orihime's hair was long and shiny, and her skin was a perfect, pale peach. He tried not to think about how well her breasts would fit in his large hands, or how smooth and plump her lips would be.

"Ken-chan! Are you listening?" Yachiru asked, her voice going up a few octaves.

Kenpachi grunted, crossing his arms. "I'm taking a nap. Wake me up for dinner."

Part Two

Usually it was Yumichika that took the initiative to spearheaded dinner, and when someone woke Kenpachi it was nearly dark, and the smell of barbequed meat had sifted through the barracks. Apparently, someone had gone to the trouble of cleaning up a little bit, and there were decorations all around – bright pink and orange ones with drawings of cats…or bunnies. He walked outside into the courtyard to see that several people from other divisions had gathered and brought food, so that along with the barbeque were huge wooden tubs of rice, boiling vegetables, a roasting pig, rows of sweet watermelons, and plenty of sake.

Yachiru sat in Orihime's lap as the center of attention. She was dressed in the same, bright pink dress as the afternoon, but her hair was braided up nicely and she had a plastic gold crown with something cat-shaped glued in the center. On one side of Orihime and Yachiru was Matsumoto Rangiku, laughing and drinking sake, trying to make Orihime drink with her.

Then, on the other side of Yachiru and Orihime, was that creepy vice-captain from the Twelfth Division – Kurotsuchi Nemu. Despite Kenpachi's obvious dislike of the Twelfth Division's captain, the vice-captain seemed quite loyal and subservient towards Yachiru. Yachiru had even gone as far as naming her Vice-President of the Shinigami Women's Association. Yachiru had fun and that was all Kenpachi cared about. He still didn't trust the vice-captain, though.

Other people were gathered around, too. Ukitake had apparently drug himself out of his sick bed long enough for his two third seats to fawn all over him, and near him Kyouraku Shunsui was being beaten and harassed by his tiny, vicious vice-captain. Kenpachi noted that Ikkaku and Yumichika had found two more drinking partners in Abarai Renji and Iba Tetsuzaemon. Meanwhile, a majority of the Fourth Division was serving food and acting pathetic, though Unohana was scaring some of the other divisions' members into saying 'please' and 'thank you.'

Kenpachi couldn't remember the last time he'd seen so many people from the different divisions all gathered together. People were laughing and drinking sake, making jokes and actually talking to people from other divisions. Kenpachi shook his head, and figured if they didn't start singing inspirational songs he could leave his zanpakutou behind.

Matsumoto created an opening when she launched herself at her captain, latching onto his shoulders and insisting on a piggy-back ride. The little snot blushed before pushing her away, but she simply glued herself to Kira Izuru. Kenpachi took her place, and Yachiru leapt onto her customary perch on his shoulder.

"Ken-chan! See how many people wanted to come to my party for Big Boobies!" she said, glowing with delight.

He nodded, frowning.

"Oh, Zaraki-taicho," Orihime exclaimed with wide gray eyes. "Let me get you some food!"

She leapt up swiftly and was gone in a second, disappearing into the increasingly dense group of people. Yachiru giggled, peeking over her shoulder. "Now everyone is having fun, Ken-chan. Big Boobies made sure we didn't wake you until the food was ready, so now you can have fun too!"

Kenpachi nodded as Yachiru prattled on about princess parties and secret passages, about cats and making noodle necklaces. Kenpachi was watching for Orihime, and noted that just about everyone stopped her to have a word. Orihime seemed to have quite a following of enamored male Shinigami, most of which had been drinking. She got waylaid by Matsumoto and Ukitake (who bizarrely gave her a fruit basket), before she made it back to their table.

She smiled, kneeling down to place a large plate heavy with food before him. In her other hand she had a jug of sake. "No one but Rangiku-san wanted to try my curried red bean paste, but I made a little bit just if you want to try, Zaraki-taicho." She bowed her head and then made her way back around to table to sit between him and creepy Nemu.

Kenpachi eyed the curried red bean paste mistrustfully, but Yachiru bit right into it, eating off his plate. "Yachiru-chan!" Orihime said in a stern voice. "What about all the princess cake we made? Who'll eat it if you eat all of Zaraki-taicho's food?"

Yachiru seemed to weigh this carefully. "Princess cake!" she finally decided, and dashed off towards the table holding all the sweets.

There was an awkward moment of silence – arguable the three quietest people at the party (perhaps aside from Hitsugaya) sitting next to each other was bound to have such silent periods. "Um…thank you again, Zaraki-taicho," Orihime said in a soft voice. "For, um, letting me stay with the Eleventh Division."

Kenpachi felt a growl come from low in his chest. "Zaraki-taicho" was getting on his nerves. Orihime looked away and bit her lower lip. "You let Yachiru be the center of attention. You make her happy. The minute she isn't, you're out on your ass."

Orihime looked up at him with wide, grayish eyes and nodded twice. She didn't say much after that, and neither did he. Kenpachi was content to sit, drink, and eat…and watch Yachiru bother people and eat lots of candy. After all, besides fighting, what was there is life to make him happy?

After a while the party began to get really wild. Someone had brought a bunch of fireworks, and Yachiru was maniacally setting them off in close proximity to people she knew it would bother. There was loud, bizarre music, and Matsumoto was pressuring people to dance with her (by means of intimidating them with massive amounts of cleavage). Kenpachi finally drew the line when Ukitake revealed a karaoke machine, and Kira began singing a morose ballad. He'd been able to survive everything but that, and drove people back (a little drunkenly at this point) out of the Eleventh Division's barracks and courtyards. Yumichika was whining about guests defiling his gardens, and chased them out after releasing his zanpakutou.

Afterwards, Kenpachi continued to drink on the porch with his division's seated officers, Ikkaku and Yumichika. For some reason (probably the booze) there were a few people that refused to be kicked out of the party. Abarai Renji and Iba Tetsuzaemon were both former members of the Eleventh Division. Abarai and Iba seemed to be good friends with Ikkaku in particular. Kenpachi wasn't sure what he thought about this, but, in general, he wasn't the kind of person to interrupt another's fun, and Abarai and Iba weren't exactly bad company.

The night wore on, and Orihime had taken a very tired Yachiru to bed some time ago. It was only after Abarai and Iba stumbled off drunkenly into the night that an orange head popped around the corner of the building, looking hesitant and carrying three boxes.

"Orihime-chan!" Ikkaku murmured drunkenly. "Come drink with us!"

She flashed a brief smile, padding along the porch. In the moonlight her skin had a soft, pale glow, and her eyes looked slightly purple. To the party she'd worn a purple dress from the living world, her long, orange hair pinned back with her trademark hair pins. But now she'd changed into a lavender yukuta and pulled her hair into a ponytail.

"I brought some presents to say thank you," she said sweetly, sitting down as Ikkaku patted the empty space between him and Yumichika. "I hope you enjoy them."

She handed a neatly wrapped box to Ikkaku, and then another to Yumichika. Both looked at the present as if it was something foreign and bizarre – it possibly could be. When he looked down, though, Kenpachi saw a wrapped gift for him as well, and Orihime smiling up at him.

"What is this?" Ikkaku said, holding a bright red…well, Kenpachi wasn't sure what it was…

"It's for your head!" Orihime explained, giggling. "If it gets cold you put it on like this –" she demonstrated, shoving the red thing down over Ikkaku's hairless head "– and your head won't get cold! It's called a beanie."

"Beanie…" Ikkaku repeated. Then, very seriously, turned to Orihime and said, "No one stops to think, but my head gets really cold sometimes. Thanks, Orihime-chan."

Before Orihime could reply, Yumichika interrupted crying out and waving his gift in the air. "Azure! You got me an azure scarf? It's horrid! It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen!"

Instead of looking upset, Orihime grinned, and leaned over to Yumichika, "It's for…" then she began whispering too quietly for anyone to hear.

Slowly, Yumichika smiled as well. "I see…" he said softly, folding the silky looking scarf and tucking it inside his sleeve. "Thank you, Orihime-chan."

"Orihime-chan, have a drink," Ikkaku said, still wearing his red beanie even as he poured sake into an empty saucer.

"Oh, no, I couldn't," she giggled, waving it away.

"Take a drink, Orihime-chan," Yumichika agreed. He poured for Ikkaku and Kenpachi as well. "We'll all have another." Orihime hesitantly took the saucer. "Here's to the Eleventh Division – may there always be enough blood to bathe our zanpakutou!"

"I'll drink to that," Kenpachi slurred lightly, raising his saucer and downing it easily.

Out of the corner of his eye he caught Orihime coughing and sputtering, her eyes full of water. "Don't be a lightweight, Orihime-chan!" Ikkaku laughed, shoving another saucer of sake to her lips.

"Oh – cough – no, please, I –"

But as she spoke Ikkaku tipped the sake into her mouth and she continued coughing violently. "Ah, Orihime-chan! By the time your done visiting you won't cough at this sake water!"

Yumichika laughed loudly, and then fell face first into his half-full saucer of sake. "Yumichika!" Ikkaku groused, shaking his friend. "Hey, Yumichika!" He snorted. "Stone cold passed out…I told you not to drink so much, Yumichika!"

Kenpachi grinned at Orihime's artistically raised eyebrow as she looked away, down at her own empty saucer. "Aren't you going to open your present, Zaraki-taicho?" she asked quietly.

"Zaraki-taicho?!" Ikkaku laughed, standing with Yumichika slung over his shoulder. "Hah! Zaraki-taicho! If only Yumichika was awake for that! Zaraki-taicho!"

"Shut up, cue ball," Kenpachi grumbled, forgoing the sake saucers and drinking straight from the bottle.

"Zaraki-taicho," Ikkaku continued laughing, hauling Yumichika. Kenpachi could hear his laughter as he rounded the corner and returned to the barracks.

This left Kenpachi alone with the girl, and for some reason he was made a little uncomfortable by that. Orihime shifted so that her knees were up against her chest, her chin resting on her left knee. "Um…Kenpachi-taicho?" she asked hesitantly, giving him a sidelong glance.

He took another swig from the sake bottle. "Kenpachi is the only title I care about."

Orihime nodded. "Okay…Kenpachi."

Snorting, he offered her the bottle of sake. To his surprise she took it, and drank a shallow swig. This time she shook her head swiftly, eyes watering as she made a funny face. But she didn't cough. "I don't care what Ikkaku-kun says," she muttered, "that's some strong stuff."

Kenpachi said nothing, but accepted the bottle back from her slender fingers. He gave her a look out of the corner of his eye, wondering why she was still hanging around. Certainly after such a long day she should be tired. But she sat there with her hands clasped at her feet and her chin resting on her knee. She looked up at the moon, now separating itself from the horizon. He couldn't recall ever seeing the girl so still or quiet. But then, he never really saw her unless it was with Kurosaki or there was a fight. She came around to visit Yachiru every so often, but the last time had been several months ago and she didn't stay long. She seemed to be quite a bit older than when he first met her as a ryoka, but he couldn't say for certain how old.

He offered her back the bottle, which she took, surprising him with a longer swig than the last couple of times. Sake worked its way swiftly, especially in someone as tiny as Inoue Orihime – and she was certainly a tiny one. He towered over her even sitting. Still not many people here in Soul Society measured up to him in height, so he was used to looking at the tops of people's heads.

Swallowing, her throat contracting softly, Orihime turned her head so that her cheek rested on her knees, facing him. "Kenpachi…"

He glanced at her. "Hn."

"You haven't opened your gift yet," she reminded him.

Truthfully he'd forgotten about it. No one gave Kenpachi gifts, except for Yachiru. Mostly it was candy though, and she ate it anyway. Handing Orihime the sake, Kenpachi fingered the small package. He must have been more drunk than he realized, or Orihime was an master wrapper – he had to use his zanpakutou to get at the damn thing.

"What the hell is it?" he asked, frowning as he turned over the weird device. It had a screen of some kind, and a large, closed eye on the back.

Orihime took a long drink of sake, hissing as it burned her throat. "I had Kurotsuchi-fukutaicho help me with it…it's called a SPS – a Spiritual Positioning System. It's hybrid technology from the living world. You just tell it who or what you're looking for, and it gives you perfect directions."

"Hn." He had a feeling she was trying to tell him something about his sense of direction.

Orihime gave him a quirky half smile. "It's so you and Yachiru can always be the first on the battlefield. That way you can have your first choice of…of, um, who to slaughter," she finished uncertainly.

Kenpachi snorted. "Useful."

The tiny girl smiled in full. "Good." She bit her bottom lip. "Yachiru and I are exploring her secret tunnels tomorrow…I should probably go to sleep…"

He grunted, then grinned darkly when he saw Orihime's dilemma. "You're too drunk to walk."

Orihime giggled in a high voice, leaning against a wooden pillar on shaky legs. "Yah!" she replied, still giggling as she fell right on her ass. "Oof!"

"Damn it, woman," he muttered, pocketing his present before he stood on rubbery legs to help her up.

Kenpachi had been drinking since dinner began, and after several hours was suitably drunk. Usually this made him want to start a fight really bad, but tonight he felt more like contemplating life. Kenpachi wasn't much of a philosopher, unless his swordsmanship was a philosophy. Still, there were times he could be still. Watching Orihime flounder, made him grin, and he eventually hefted her up.

The alcohol had loosened his muscles enough for walking to be a challenge, but even with Orihime's weight pressing against him as he ushered her into the barracks he was much more stable than the orange-haired girl. They were almost to the sliding doors of her room – a room Yachiru had simply shoved toys to one side of and declared it was Orihime's – when Orihime descended into a pile of giggles on the floor.

He chuckled softly, grabbing her by the forearm to yank her back up. Instead, he lost his own balance, pulling Orihime up and then back down over him as he slammed his head back down on the ground behind him. Orihime continued to giggle noisily, trying but unable to push herself up. "Kenpachi," she laughed, "you have to let go first!"

When he didn't let go, Orihime stopped laughing, her face sobering as a flush covered her cheeks. It was then that Kenpachi realized one of his hands was glued to her lower back, the other holding her forearm against their joined bodies. He knew it was because he'd drunk too much alcohol. Listened to too much of Ikkakku and Yumichika sing her praises. He knew it was because he'd not gotten any in the last seventy years or so. Had too little exposure to pretty females. Kenpachi didn't have a strong resistance to females like he did to sake. It was too easy for Orihime to floor him.

Orihime gasped when he rolled over her, flipping her easily on her back. She looked like a doll, wide eyes and wide mouth, looking up at him with a vaguely surprised expression. "Ken…pachi…" she slurred prettily.

He liked the way her breasts felt flush against his chest, the way her breath smelled vaguely of sake and candy. He liked the way her eyes blinked blearily up at him, her soft-looking, pink tongue darting out to wet her parted lips. He liked the way she felt under him, tiny and fragile, but sexual and soft.

Kenpachi rolled off of her, his back slamming against the ground with a thunk. Orihime expelled a long breath as if she'd been holding it for hours. Slowly she crawled to the sliding doors, closing them quietly behind her. Kenpachi remained, alone and confused. He didn't enjoy that feeling. A few moments later he heard strangled sobbing coming from Orihime's room.

Part Three

Though it didn't seem like it, this was actually Orihime's vacation time. She'd been saving it up for over a year now, thinking she might go to Europe or spend a week at a really fancy hotel with some hot springs getting manicures and room service and buying expensive dresses. Due to circumstances she wasn't at all in control of, Orihime couldn't stay in the real world for one more minute. It was then, at that very opportune time, when Yachiru had asked Orihime to come over and play – in those exact words. "Big Boobies! Come over and play!"

Orihime sighed, sinking a little lower under the hot water, careful not to get her hair wet. She had been told by Vice-Captain Kotetsu Isane that, while the water in these springs was very healthy and full of beneficial minerals, it would severely damage her hair. The Fourth Division was the only division with a hot springs in their barracks – in fact, Orihime noticed that the Fourth Division seemed to have the largest barracks by far, and the best maintained. The Fourth Division's hot springs were not open to everyone though, usually only the members of that division. However, Orihime had a special invitation…

Since Orihime wasn't a Shinigami, she couldn't attend Shinigami Women's Association meetings with Yachiru (who was the president, she learned). She had been waiting for the meeting to end, which was for some reason in Kuchiki Byakuya's manor house, when Captain Unohana had caught her crying. It was so embarrassing that Orihime felt the shame of it even now as she luxuriated in the kind woman's hot springs. Thinking back, though, if it hadn't been Captain Unohana, it would have just been someone else. All she did these days was cry – she was so pathetic! She was just glad it wasn't Yachiru who caught her, for the little girl wouldn't understand. Orihime's problem was an adult problem…

Orihime sighed again, peeking above the steaming water to see that there was no one else in the hot springs. It was a mixed bath, but largely empty despite its considerable size. Orihime decided that Yachiru would be coming back from her meeting soon and she wanted to be in the Eleventh Division's barracks when her pink-haired friend returned. Orihime rinsed her body off in the showers, redressing in a plain, brown and gold yukuta. The springs might actually have done her some good, as they afforded her some time to think about her situation.

Despite the fact that she was now an adult, that she was supposed to be old enough to let go of stupid crushes, Orihime still had feelings for Kurosaki Ichigo. Not like when she was younger, but still genuine. Years of rejection had softened the initial blow when Ichigo and Tatsuki finally got together. Nothing could prepare her for a marriage proposal, though. Maybe she had thought that since they were such good friends that they would realize they were only friends. But as the months passed, Tatsuki moved into Ichigo's apartment, and then Ichigo proposed. It was supposed to be a surprise, but they'd wanted her to know…since she was their best friend…

She combed her hair out before pinning it back. Her eyes and cheeks weren't puffy anymore, her skin was no longer drawn and pale. She felt healthier, and she looked a little better, too. The coolness of the air was a shock after being in the steamy hot springs for so long, but it was refreshing, and Orihime found herself humming lightly as she returned to her room in the Eleventh Division's barracks. She was even able, for a moment, to forget how hard she had been working at avoiding Kenpachi.

Her fragile happiness cracked, and Orihime felt an odd, queasy emptiness in her stomach. Zaraki Kenpachi…boy, had she messed that up. What was wrong with her? Seriously!

Orihime stopped cold a few blocks away from the Eleventh Division, trying to gage about what time it was. It was night, and after dinner – she'd stayed too long in those hot springs! Yachiru might be back and sleeping already…Kenpachi would probably be in the midst of getting drunk. Orihime really needed to avoid that. Getting drunk had appealed to her the last few days. She'd forgotten everything that was happening at home, and was able to lose herself in the moment, in the dizziness of the sake, in the heat of…of Zaraki Kenpachi…

She put a hand over her eyes, leaning against the chilly, stone wall as she groaned. Seriously, though, what was wrong with her? Zaraki Kenpachi! What was she thinking? He was…he was…well, he was a friend…kind of… Well, he was an ally, and not nearly as scary as everyone said he was. Yes, he was terrifying on the battlefield, but he was always gentle with Yachiru, and he cared about his division – in a twisted kind of way. And he'd always been…well, kind was the wrong word, but maybe he'd been politely indifferent towards her. She was there for Yachiru, to make Yachiru happy, and that was her function.

And he had almost kissed her…

Orihime had no illusions about that. Kenpachi had pinned her down like she was prey, mere centimeters from her lips. She would have let him do just about anything to her at that point, and it possibly wasn't just because of all the sake. Orihime needed to feel wanted. She'd been rejected by not only her best friend, but also the one person she'd ever romantically loved. She'd been rejected her whole life, treated like a bimbo or some bizarre chick. She didn't want to be rejected anymore, she wanted to feel like she was of value…needed…

And sure, she felt like Yachiru needed her – as a friend and mother-figure. And yes, she had other friends that needed her, too. But it wasn't the same! Orihime wasn't a kid anymore, and she had other needs as well…romantic needs, sexual needs, needs that she had hoped Ichigo would fulfill.

Yet again, Orihime had been rejected, and it was like a depressing mirror of her life in the real world. Admittedly, Orihime had never been as close to a kiss with Ichigo as she had been with Kenpachi, but the rejection still stung.

So for the last few days Orihime had done her best to avoid the captain of the Eleventh Division. It was not so easy within his own barracks, but Yachiru liked to wander all around Soul Society, and rarely stayed at home unless it was dinner time. As it was probably after dinner by now, Yachiru was most likely asleep, or maybe waiting for Orihime. Probably not, though.

Orihime slipped into the compound silently, hoping Kenpachi wasn't yet out on the porch getting drunk. She frowned softly. No such luck.

"Orihime-chan! Come have a drink with us!" Ikkaku was waving her over, the red beanie on his head. Orihime smiled a little bit.

"Thank you, but I think I'll just go say good night to Yachiru-chan," she said, bowing as she approached him, Yumichika, and Kenpachi.

"She's not here," Kenpachi grunted, his eye looking her up and down.

"She left with that creepy vice-captain – Kurotsuchi's girl," Ikkaku replied, taking a swig of sake straight from the bottle. "Where were you?"

Orihime looked down. "Unohana-taicho invited me to use her hot springs…and I couldn't refuse," she ended softly, thinking of the look in Retsu Unohana's eyes.

Ikkaku seemed to understand, raising his eyebrows and nodding his head. Captain Unohana could be…persuasive.

"No! I'm so jealous, Orihime-chan!" Yumichika cried out, pouting his lips. "She never invites guests into the Fourth Division's hot springs."

"Not that you haven't tried to sneak in…" Ikkaku laughed.

Preening, Yumichika brushed his silky hair away from his face. "She's quicker than she looks," he said vaguely. "The Fourth Division says it's got healing properties, and it's great for your skin." Then, beckoning her over with a lazy hand, he said, "I just want to feel it…you have such pretty skin…"

"Oh," she said softly, a little taken aback. "Um, thanks…"

She approached the three of them on the porch, and Ikkaku and Yumichika made room between them for her to sit down. The closer she got the stronger she could smell the sake, and she could tell they'd been out here for quite a while. Several empty jugs and bottles were lined up to the side of the steps, though Yumichika seemed to be the only one bothering to drink out of a saucer.

He was also very inebriated, and began petting Orihime's hair and cheeks as soon as she sat down, cooing like a mother would to a baby. Ikkaku shoved his jug of sake in her face – which pissed off Yumichika – so Orihime sat there quietly like a statue, dying for a drink but not wanting to succumb to drunkenness. No matter how easy it might be to just drink away her sorrows, Orihime didn't want to be that kind of girl. She didn't want to be like Rangiku, though that seemed to be the path she was on. In many ways, Orihime was already like Rangiku – both were unlucky in love, both had lost people that they really cared about, and both were rather misunderstood and underestimated because of the way they looked. Rangiku had succumbed to the drink to fight the pain, and Orihime was close on her way these days.

"I should probably go to bed," she said after a few moments, wanting to separate herself from the sake. She rose up a little bit, but was given a piercingly aggressive look by the Eleventh Division captain.

Kenpachi grunted. "Wait for Yachiru. She'll want to tell us about her adventures."

Orihime settled back down, looking at her knees as she folded them under her. This time, when Ikkaku shoved a jug of sake in her face, she took it and downed the last several gulps with her eyes tightly closed. She would do just about anything to make the pain go away, and it was only amplified by the fact that Kenpachi was here, apparently ignoring her discomfort. If he was any kind of gentleman he would have let her sink gracefully into the shadows. She paused – did she expect Kenpachi to be a gentleman, or was she just projecting her desires onto the dangerous captain?

Shaking her head and keeping the tears out of her eyes, Orihime gasped at the sting of the sake – it was different from last night. "Way to go, Orihime-can!" Ikkaku exclaimed in amazement, clapping her on the back. Orihime coughed several times, nodding.

"That is so cute!" Yumichika cooed. "She's trying to be tough!" He laughed in a way that was good-natured as Orihime tried not to cough and sputter – but damn that stuff stung!

Her head swimming a little bit, Orihime was able to relax, and not think so much about her friends' marriage, or how awkward it was to be round Kenpachi, or how miserable a person she was. Ikkaku made jokes, and they all laughed. Yumichika gave them all the dirtiest gossip (some of which made Orihime's face flush even darker than the sake) of the Gotei 13. Kenpachi didn't say much of anything, but Orihime amused them by showing them her juggling skills (which were so much better when she wasn't completely drunk).

After several days of moping around, it felt so good to laugh again. People came by to talk to them occasionally, and Ikkaku would normally drive them away if they were trying to hit on Orihime. A little later Renji came by with a jug of sake and sat on the steps with a big grin.

"So, I hear Kurosaki's gonna get married, Orihime-chan," he began.

Kenpachi snorted derisively, but Ikkaku and Yumichika laughed loudly. Orihime tried not to be hurt by the reminder, and shrugged lightly. Ichigo had probably told Rukia, and Rukia would never be able to keep something like that to herself. She nodded. "You remember Arisawa Tatsuki, don't you, Renji-kun?"

"Tss," Renji said, looking away and crossing his arms. "I can't believe he ever got someone that hot."

"Hot?" Yumichika snorted. "The girl with terrible hair?"

"Small tits?" Ikkaku wondered drunkenly.

"And terrible complexion?"

Orihime nudged Yumichika lightly. "Tatsuki-chan's pretty. She's…my best friend…" At this she bit her lip and looked away.

Thankfully, most people were just too drunk to notice, though Renji gave her a strange look. "She'll keep him in line at least," he said with a shrug, taking a long drink out of his sake bottle.

Orihime followed in suit, hoping the conversation would be dropped. Renji stayed, and soon began arguing with Yumichika about something silly, and Yumichika started calling him the Red-Headed Tattoo-Face. Ikkaku got pissed because he thought Yumichika was talking about him too (since Ikkaku was wearing a red beanie on his head, but also had red tattoos on his face next to his eyes). They were brawling within minutes, though it was rather hard to tell what side Ikkaku was on, since he started off fighting Yumichika, but when Renji attacked Yumichika, Ikkaku got angry and attacked Renji, who wasn't sure why.

For some reason Orihime thought that Kenpachi would get involved, but when she looked over at him, she saw he wasn't even watching the fight. Instead, he was looking right at her. She held eye contact with him for a moment, noting the curiously blank expression on his face. In the light of the moon, the scar that went down his face looked even deeper and more dramatic. As much as Orihime wanted to look away, she just couldn't.

"He would never have loved you," Kenpachi said flatly, taking a swig out of his jug of sake.

Orihime gasped slightly, straightening. Was she so obvious? She normally didn't have very good control over her emotions, but maybe she was even worse under the influence of alcohol. "I…I know," she finally said, jumping slightly when Ikkaku was thrown against the raised porch. He got up and dove right back at Yumichika. Orihime bit her bottom lip. "I always have."

Seeming somewhat satisfied, Kenpachi nodded his head. "It's good you understand. Kurosaki needs someone he can fight with. You would never be able to fight with him…you're so soft…"

At first Orihime nodded her head, thinking Kenpachi was talking about her gentle, peaceful nature. But when she looked up at him, she saw he was looking directly at her breasts. During the night sometime her brown and gold yukuta had loosened a little, and a generous amount of cleavage was visible, especially to someone who towered so far over Orihime like Kenpachi did. Flushing, Orihime pulled the cotton fabric tighter around her bust and looked away.

Kenpachi only laughed, but she wasn't sure if he was laughing at her or the fact that Yachiru had arrived, but had done so head first. Yachiru was the only person who had ever injured Orihime's skull, so she felt for Yumichika when Yachiru head-butted him across the courtyard. She laughed mischievously, and Orihime noticed Kurotsuchi Nemu was standing back a ways, looking a little worse for wear. The young-looking woman's normally sleekly straight hair was sticking up every which way, and she had oil and mud on her bare legs and uniform. Still, she looked at Yachiru with an expression akin to love and admiration.

Orihime had heard that Nemu was made by Captain Kurotsuchi Mayuri, not his real daughter in a traditional sense. Did that mean she never had a childhood? If so, was she trying to recreate one with Yachiru? She couldn't really interact with her subordinates like she could with an equal, so it was fortunate that Yachiru was so young and willing to ignore the young woman's considerable strangeness. It made Orihime smile – she was a little odd, too.

"Excuse me, Kenpachi," she murmured softly, rising on shaky legs. Maybe she had drunk more than she thought…

She made her way past the arguing Yachiru and Yumichika, noting that Ikkakuk and Renji hadn't stopped fighting, and both had drawn their zanpakutou. "Kurotsuchi-fukutaicho," Orihime said, trying to keep her voice even.

Nemu gave her a slight bow. "Inoue-san," she replied politely.

"Thank you so much for taking care of Yachiru-chan," Orihime said softly so that Yachiru wouldn't hear. The girl was fiercely independent, but Orihime thought she needed someone around to at least keep her from annoying the wrong people.

"Unohana-taicho explained the situation to me after the meeting of the Shinigami Women's Association," Nemu replied. "I hope your rest in the Fourth Division's hot springs was enjoyable."

"Um, it was," Orihime replied.

There was a brief silence, and Orihime swayed slightly. "You've imbibed too much alcohol to safely function. Should we sit?"

Orihime's eyes widened. "Is it that obvious? I don't act like Rangiku-san, do I?"

Nemu frowned softly then shook her head in a serious manner. "I have recently been adjusted to have a more perceptive olfactory sense, and I can smell the sake quite well. Otherwise, you do not act like Matsumoto-fukutaicho."

"Oh…oh," Orihime said, trying not to let the surprise show on her face. There was a brief moment of silence.

"I wonder if I might ask a favor, Inoue-san," Nemu said in a soft voice, lower than before. "I am hoping you will be more pliable with alcohol, but if you prefer I will wait until you are sober. I estimate that will be around five-thirty tomorrow morning."

Flushing, Orihime shook her head. "You – you can ask me now, Kurotsuchi-fukutaicho."

The taller vice-captain nodded her head. "I hope you might assist me in an observational study I am conducting regarding the male and female reproductive process."

Orihime blanched. "Wh – what?"

"Are you unaware of the human reproductive process?" the dark-haired woman asked, tilting her head to the side. "It is when –"

"I'm familiar!" Orihime said in a strangled voice, a little too loud. She turned to see if anyone was paying attention, but Yachiru was still beating on Yumichika and Renji and Ikkaku had relocated their fight.

"Good. I only recently became aware of the precursors to sexual activity a few days ago, but apparently this is fairly common knowledge," Nemu said in an off-handed way. "I was asked to go on a date to a social function called a wedding, and when my father heard this his interest in the mechanics of male/female attraction was piqued. Since there is limited data I can collect on myself at this point, I am investigating via the observational process."

Orihime felt her jaw drop lower and lower as Nemu spoke, understanding the words but not how she would be of any help. And why would Nemu ask her of all people? "I don't understand how I can be of help," Orihime admitted. "I could makes some notes for you if I see anyone on a date…" But she rather doubted she would see anything like that in the Eleventh Division. Of all the divisions they were most focused on battle and blood, and least on women. Even the Fourth Division got more dates than the Eleventh.

"According to my father's research, you are quite capable mentally, but I doubt your notes would be up to his high expectations," Nemu replied bluntly. "I actually wanted your permission to observe your dating habits. You do date with the ultimate goal of recreational sex, correct?"

Orihime's eyes flew open, and her hand covered her mouth as she coughed spontaneously and loudly. Following Tatsuki's advice, Orihime had indeed dated several other people despite her crush on Kurosaki Ichigo. Some of them had lasted longer than others, and one had even progressed to a sexual level, but she didn't really date with that specific goal. "I, um, I do date…but no usually to have sex. I date to…fall in love," she replied in an embarrassed tone.

Nemu shook her head. "I apologize, Inoue-san. I forgot it was the males that usually date with the goal of recreational sex. Women tend to date for romance. Forgive me."

"Oh…sure," Orihime replied. Had Nemu thought she was embarrassed about that instead of their completely open discussion about sex? "Um, Kurotsuchi-fukutaicho –"

"If you would like you may call me Nemu," the girl said. "As you are not a Shinigami, and I am not your superior, and given the deal I am proposing, it is inappropriate for us to continue speaking on such formal terms. I will call you Orihime-chan like the rest of my colleagues."

Something about that girl was just off, Orihime decided. She snapped her jaw closed and nodded her head anyway. "Okay…Nemu-san…" Nemu nodded. Orihime licked her lips. "Maybe we can continue this conversation in a more private setting. Usually…um, usually people don't talk about sex in public…"

Nemu's eyes widened slightly, as if she had just figured something out. "Then I apologize, Orihime-chan. I was unaware of this social constriction. I will question you about such things later and in private if you are still willing to accept my proposal. Are you willing?"

Orihime thought for a moment. There were worse things to occupy her time with, but she still wasn't sure how she could be of any help to Nemu and her research. She wasn't currently dating anyone, and she had the worst luck with men. "I agree…but why did you select me? Surely," she paused, "surely there are many other women in Soul Society with more dating experience than me."

Nemu nodded her agreement. "Indeed there are several," Nemu replied. "However, I ask you because you seem to have a particular affect on the men here in Soul Society. My data will be a little skewed because of the fact that you are human, and that creates too many independent variables for an accurate experiment, but I have resolved to observe several subjects over the next few months to compensate."

Orihime raised her eyebrows. "Oh."

Nemu nodded again. "After my olfactory adjustment I was told to focus specifically on any scented pheromones that men and women produced during courtship. Being around Yachiru-fukutaicho, I was able to be around you. I began to notice that many of the Shinigami you associate with secrete an excess of pheromones in your presence, and display various other abnormal characteristics. I gathered they were reacting on a physiological level to your appealing feminine form, but was at a loss to explain the other abnormal behaviors. I have chosen you since you are in close proximity to the males of the Eleventh Division, and I find their reactions most interesting."

Orihime found herself giggling, feeling as though she was in some kind of Twilight Zone. Nemu was so serious, and the subject was so silly-sounding, that she got caught up in the irony and began laughing rudely.

Nemu frowned, giving her a confused look. "Have I said something humorous, Orihime-chan? I am largely unfamiliar with humor, but I did not use any of the diction one associates with joking."

"No, no! I'm sorry, Nemu-san," Orihime answered, regaining her composure. "It's just, you've chosen someone who's got terrible luck in love. No one here…likes me like that… I'm afraid I might be a waste of your time."

At that Nemu shook her head swiftly. "As a scientist I am very observant, and know you will be a perfect observational specimen. When I arrived you were surrounded by four males, all of which were secreting copious amounts of pheromones. Since then they have displayed rather bizarre behavior, most especially Zaraki-taicho."

"Kenpachi?" Orihime asked breathlessly.

Nemu raised her eyebrows slightly, then nodded. "Since I have arrived he has not looked at anyone else, not even Yachiru-fukutaicho. I find this most abnormal, and in combination with the fact that he is secreting the strongest pheromones of all, I have come to the conclusion that he is attracted to you." There was a twitch of a smile that Orihime almost missed. "Orihime-chan, when I mentioned Zaraki-taicho just then, you began secreting pheromones as well. Are you attracted to him as well? Would you be willing to date him, and possibly participate recreational sex for scientific purposes?"

"So who asked you to the wedding?" Orihime asked in a high, distressed voice.

Another shadow of a smile crossed Nemu's face, softer this time as she lowered her eyes and clasped her hands before her. "Ishida Uryuu, the Quincy."

Part Four

Kenpachi grunted, glad to be dismissed after such a short captains' meeting. Typically they were hours long, and he would have to begin threatening dismemberment if they didn't end quickly. Still, be was perturbed by the fact that it was the third day in a row he felt the familiar but disturbingly mild and masked reiatsu of that creepy Kurotsuchi girl. She appeared to be following him, and once he had noticed her writing away on a clipboard. This behavior was not something that would usually bother him, as the Twelfth Division captain had a passing fancy with his abnormally large reiatsu.

However, since for the past week he had been more sexually frustrated than he could remember since he was an adolescent, he was not in the best of moods. Yesterday he had been short with Yachiru when the girl had asked him to join her and Orihime in the bath after dinner. Kenpachi was usually the person to give Yachiru her bath, as he had to take one every day because of the sweat. But since Orihime was now staying with them for an undetermined amount of time (until Yachiru was bored of her, though that didn't seem to be happening and Yachiru got bored really quickly), the orange-haired girl had taken over bath time.

As pleasant as it would be to see Orihime stripped down and covered in sudsy bubbles, it wouldn't be the same if Yachiru was there. When she'd invited him in, Kenpachi had this brief, inappropriate fantasy of Orihime washing his hair, her round, smooth breasts rubbing his shoulders and back. Or maybe she would wash his hair from the front… Anyway, he'd been short with Yachiru (though she just called him a meanie and stuck her tongue out after her bath), and it was unlike him. His patience was being tested in a very unfair way.

So when he noticed the creepy girl following him, he flash-stepped behind her, leering over her shoulder. "Zaraki-taicho," she said pleasantly, evenly, as if she was not at all surprised by his presence.

"You're following me, Kurotsuchi," he grumbled.

She turned to face him and merely nodded. "Correct, Zaraki-taicho. I have been observing you for –"

"Three days, I know," Kenpachi replied. "Why?"

The girl nodded. "I am conducting an observational study on your pheromone level in conjunction with those who you interact with on a daily basis, Zaraki-taicho."

"Pheromones?" he asked, frowning.

"Men and women secrete a set of chemicals called pheromones when they are in certain levels of attraction and –"

"Why me?" he snapped at her. Any person that wasn't intimidated by his large stature bugged him, and Kurotsuchi's girl was polite, but not fearful in the least bit. Still, if her father really did half the things to her that he said he did, Kenpachi wasn't sure he'd be afraid of anyone either.

"I'm afraid your knowledge might affect the integrity of my research, but if you command me, Zaraki-taicho, I will not refuse," she replied evenly.

Kenpachi frowned. On one hand, he really didn't care if she followed him around. It was mildly annoying at the worst of times, and beneath his notice most of the time. She could watch him all she wanted as long as she didn't start slipping drugs into his sake as her father was prone to commanding her to do. However, he'd caught her every time, and Kenpachi had a feeling she did this purposefully. Once after he had caught her, she'd simply bowed her head and apologized. "I am glad my father only implied that I was to do this secretly, and did not directly order me to do so without your knowledge. If he had I would be forced to be less sloppy. You should be very observant for the next few weeks, Zaraki-taicho. Father is very curious about you."

On the other hand, Kenpachi had a naturally inquisitive mind, and someone observing him without knowing what they were looking at was bothersome.

"Consider it an order," Kenpachi replied.

The girl nodded her head submissively, not outwardly showing any signs of distress. "I am studying pheromones in the males and females of the human species. You interest me specifically because of your reactions with another research subject of mine, Inoue Orihime."

"Inoue Orihime," he repeated, narrowing his eyes. "Is she aware of your observations, Kurotsuchi?"

To his surprise, the young vice-captain nodded her head. "Orihime-chan gave me permission to observe her under the condition that any publications based on such research would with-hold her identity." She paused. "Do I have your permission to observe you as well, Zaraki-taicho?"

He didn't have a really good reason to say no, and Kurotsuchi's girl was a slick one – she'd probably just find a loophole as she normally did. He thought it over and then shrugged. "Whatever. Just don't get in my way, Kurotsuchi."

"I will respect the basic tenants of observational study and make myself as inconspicuous as possible," she replied. "Thank you, Zaraki-taicho. But may I ask one thing?"

"What?" he grumbled, growing tired of her presence already.

"Would you be willing to go on a date, or possibly engage in recreational sexual activity for the purposes of scientific study?" she asked with a completely straight face.

Kenpachi let out a short, barking laugh. "I wouldn't hold my breath for that, Kurotsuchi."

"I can hold my breath for up to three hours, would it be longer than that?" she asked seriously.

Kenpachi snorted, and flash-stepped away. Night was falling, and soon his fruity fifth seat would be organizing dinner. Not like Kenpachi appreciated having to go back to his own barracks, not when he knew who else was going to be there.

Damn that woman! He was an exile in his own division because he couldn't be within a half mile of her without seeking her out. Orihime spent most of her time with Yachiru, like it should be, but whenever she was alone, or after his daughter had gone to sleep, Kenpachi couldn't seem to stay away. He'd vowed that he wouldn't steal Yachiru's fun, as the girl would never try to steal his if the positions were reversed. Like if he was in battle with someone particularly strong, Yachiru would never ask to fight.

Because of this vow he was spending more and more time away from his division. Kyouraku Shunsui had been a good drinking partner, but the man never wanted to fight afterwards. He didn't think it was fun. And Kenpachi didn't like going to bars much. Too many people, and none of them worth the blood that pumped through their veins. It was pissing him off to say the least.

The Eleventh Division mess hall was filling up when Kenpachi arrived. Yachiru was harassing Yumichika and Ikkaku in an amusing way, but Orihime was nowhere to be found. He located her faint, gentle reiatsu easily enough, feeling his feet pull him towards the back of the compound. Even though the Eleventh Division had a strict 'no girly' rule, Yumichika kept a garden back there, insisting that he needed something beautiful to look at when he woke up. Whatever the reason, no one dared disturb it, and Orihime seemed to be there right now. Alone.

When he found her, Kenpachi stayed back for a few moments, frowning. She was wearing a light blue, cotton yukuta with koi fish dancing around little lily pads. Her orange-colored hair was loose around her face, swaying gently in the breeze. Orihime was sitting on a low bench, her shoulders hunched over and shaking slightly. She was crying again. Kenpachi paused.

This was the second time he'd come across her crying – the first time being the first night she'd arrived, and he'd nearly mauled her in a drunken haze. To be fair, that might have been his fault, but he wasn't sure. But now what could she be crying about? Did someone die? Since Yachiru didn't cry, Kenpachi hadn't ever had the displeasure of seeing a woman cry. Some of his victims cried before he killed them, but that was out of fear, not out of sadness.

Frowning, Kenpachi let her be. What the hell was he supposed to do with a crying female? All he knew was that Yachiru better not catch her doing that. Still, the thought of her crying bothered him. Kenpachi was a firm believer in doing whatever made you happiest. Fighting until he was on the verge of death made him happiest. He did this whenever possible, and looked for the strongest warriors to test himself against. Playing tricks and eating candy made Yachiru happiest, and he encouraged her to do so whenever she felt like it. Kenpachi wouldn't lie – it amused him greatly how much she seemed to get on people's nerves. She had a real talent for it.

But what made Orihime happy? She was so much older than Yachiru, so it probably wasn't candy. Orihime was a woman…what made women happy? …Why did he care? Well, indirectly her happiness affected Yachiru. Was that all? He didn't know.

Through dinner Kenpachi drank copiously, more than he had during a meal in a long time. He took care of several jugs of sake by himself, noticing the nervous looks of his division, and wondering if they thought he was in a bad mood. Usually, if he was in a bad mood, his division could somehow feel it, and keep far away. He had a habit of decimating his ranks when he was in a foul mood – usually when his sword hadn't seen any action in a while. He figured it weeded out the useless losers, and the others would transfer if they didn't like it. Still, Kenpachi was aware his division had quite the feared reputation, which he enjoyed the benefits of frequently. To stay on his good side, he was usually given gifts of alcohol or food (typically candy for Yachiru). Still, there was only so much you could do to get on Kenpachi's good side, and food and alcohol didn't always cut it. His division knew this, and gave him a wide berth when he looked to be in a foul mood.

After dinner he cleared out of the Eleventh Division mess hall. He wasn't in the mood to see people, and his division seemed to know that. It was usually only Ikkaku and Yumichika (and Yachiru) who dared to approach him during these times, but he'd lost track of his third and fifth seat after dinner, and couldn't feel their reiatsu anywhere nearby. Actually, he could feel Orihime's gentle reiatsu and Yachiru's nearby, somewhere in Yachiru's play area.

Yachiru had a long night last night – Kenpachi had monitored her as she broke into the Kuchiki residence for the umpteenth time. And a few nights before that she'd made it her mission to transport some of Kuchiki Byakuya's rose bushes to Kyouraku Shunsui's office in the Eighth Division. Well, to be fair, it looked as if Kurotsuchi's girl had done most of the work. Yachiru enjoyed her nightly escapades, but she was still a growing girl, and needed her sleep. The sun was going down fast, and so was she.

Frowning, Kenpachi stood around the corner from Yachiru's rooms, waiting patiently as Orihime read some kind of girly bedtime story. He sure hoped she wasn't softening Yachiru up, but what he heard rather disturbed him a little.

"And did the princess ever wake up?" Yachiru asked with a yawn.

"I can read the next chapter," Orihime replied softly.

"If I was the princess I would never have touched the…the…"

"Spindle – people used to use them to make thread," Orihime replied. "But Princess Aurora was under an evil spell…cursed from the day she was born…"

"Then Ken-chan would protect me if I was under a curse," Yachiru said.

"Maybe Princess Aurora will have someone like Kenpachi to save her."

"Her Ken-chan comes to save her…" Yachiru murmured sleepily. "Do you have a Ken-chan, Big Boobies?"

There was a brief silence. "No, I don't, Yachiru-chan."

"What – yawn – about Icchi?"

"No," Orihime replied softly.

"I don't want you to leave, Big Boobies," Yachiru continued, sounding very tired. "Do you have to?"

"Not for a while, Yachiru-chan."

He heard some humming, and knew it must be Orihime. Yachiru had all the musical talent of a tone-deaf screech owl. Orihime had a pleasant voice, if not a little airy and high. After a few minutes she died off, and he heard her moving around the room, and then opened the door.

He watched out of the corner of her eye as she leaned back against the door and sighed, wiping her eyes.

"You shouldn't let Yachiru catch you crying."

She jumped slightly, eyes wide as she turned to him in the dark. "Kenpachi! Um, no – there was just something in my eye…and, um, no someone poked me in the eye! And then my contact lens was loose! …I wasn't crying."

"Hn," he grunted, looking away as she rubbed her cheeks with the heel of her hand. "I need a word with you."

Part Five

The night air was a little chilly, and a light breeze blew through the long, white-walled streets of Seireitei. Kenpachi hoped that his foul mood earlier would make the rest of his division avoid him. Ikkaku and Yumichika were probably at a bar somewhere with Abarai or Iba (or both), so he thought to avid those as well. He still didn't want anyone to be around for what was sure to be an awkward conversation. He took her back to where he was sure no one would wander around – the shaded pavilion in the center of Yumichika's gardens.

When they arrived Kenpachi scowled to himself. Had he subconsciously led her to the only romantic place in his whole division? He was going to figure out what the hell was going on in his head even if he needed to take out his brain and examine it personally.

Kenpachi sat, leaning up against one of the pillars that held up the roof to the open-air pavilion. There were cushions littered around, where he assumed Yumichika did girly things – probably yoga or that exfoliating thing he was always talking about…whatever that was… His clay jug of sake felt too heavy in his hand, so he drank something and looked up at Orihime. She was still standing, her hands behind her back.

"I ran into Kurotsuchi's girl today."

Orihime looked away. "I told Nemu-san that she should talk to you first, but she said her father told her to keep her observations secret. I hope you aren't upset with her."

"Like I care," he said distastefully. As if he could even get upset at a simple thing like that. "I came to warn you about her," he said after a moment, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Oh?" she said in a confused voice.

He motioned for her to sit. She did so primly, smoothing her yukuta down under her knees as she rested on a reddish-purple pillow. Kenpachi observed her for a moment. There were a few lanterns lit and hanging from three of the corners of the pavilion. They gave her skin a soft glow. Her eyes were angled down and to the side.

"Her fear of her father is greater than any bonds of friendship," Kenpachi finally said, his tone distasteful as he thought of the Twelfth Division vice-captain. "It might be that she fears me more, but you're only under my protection as long as Yachiru is happy."

Orihime was looking down, playing with the sleeves of her yukuta. "I see…" Then she bit the inside of her lip. "You keep saying that," she said a little bravely, glancing up at him. "It means you want me to leave, doesn't it, Kenpachi?"

He didn't answer, but took a swig of sake.

"I don't have anywhere else to go," she told him softly. "At home I'm like a ghost…no one sees me. There I'm the dead among the living. But here…"

She reached out suddenly, leaning forward on all fours. Kenpachi froze, looking down on her. He could see a hint of her cleavage like this, but what he liked most was the tantalizing curve of her hips into her slender waist. Her hair fell down to cover her face as she reached forward and took the jug of sake from his hand. Her fingers brushed his softly, and Kenpachi realized he'd stopped breathing.

Orihime sat back, taking the sake with her as she took a long drink. Her cheeks and neck flushed down into her cleavage, but she didn't cough or sputter at all. Ikkaku had said that she wouldn't do that after a week with them in the Eleventh Division – best fighters, best drinkers.

"It's only around the dead that I feel like I can really live," she finished, pushing the jug back towards him. "Back home…I'm the weird, pathetic girl who's never done anything great. Here's the only place where I mean something."

Orihime sighed, looking away. "Sorry." Her face was pretty red, but this time Kenpachi thought it was from embarrassment.

Kenpachi took another long drink from the sake jug. "So, what, do you wanna fight?" he asked, taking another drink.

She looked up at him sharply. "Wh…what?"

"You just said being here, fighting, made you feel happy."

"Well…yes…" she replied in a soft voice.

"So, now you're here; do you wanna fight?" he asked her getting a little impatient. The girl wasn't simple, and it wasn't as if he'd asked a difficult question.

She looked at him with wide eyes, clearly able to comprehend what he was saying. Then she scowled and looked away. "Yah, who would I fight?" she asked, snorting. She took the sake from him boldly, downing a long swig and hissing softly afterwards. "I'm probably the weakest fighter in Soul Society – even as a ryoka I was a joke. I only got through by hanging onto Ishida-kun's coat-tails."

Kenpachi nodded. She had a point. "Me."

She laughed. He had to admit, it was rather laughable. She'd stand about a half-second against him even if he was holding back – way, way back. And he wasn't sure why he'd said it anyway. It would be the least fun, one-sided fight in the history of combat.

"I'll go easy on you," he finally said, laughing a little bit to himself.

She gave him a hard look then glanced away. "You're making fun of me, Kenpachi," she replied a bit sharply. "Why would you want to fight me?"

Kenpachi shrugged and took another drink of sake. "Maybe you'll learn something."

"I'm drunk," she told him.

"I'm drunk," he told her right back.

"I'm –"

"Do you want to fight or not?" he asked sharply, cutting off her next excuse.

She didn't say anything for quite a while then bit her lower lip. She stood, swaying just a little bit. It amazed him how little alcohol it took to get her drunk, but he supposed that meant more for him. "Okay," she finally said. "But you can't kill me." Then she paused, looking up at him through her long lashes. "And you can't make fun of me."

Kenpachi laughed. "I won't kill you." Then he stood up, took a long swig of sake, and handed the jug to her.

After a distrustful glance, she took it from him. He watched her throat contract as she swallowed the sake, and how her neck and chest turned a little pink, along with her cheeks. She left the jug of sake on the short steps of the pavilion, tripping slightly over her sandals as she headed for the large patch of thick, green grass under a large peach tree. Yumichika had been complaining earlier that week that the peach tree in his garden might have died after the extremely harsh winter. He said that they were usually the first tree to bloom in early spring. Kenpachi noticed there were a few blooms present, and several buds had been growing. Perhaps it wasn't dead. You could make some pretty good liquor out of peaches.

Orihime tipped the sandals off her feet, crouching and placing her hands in front of her. She looked a little uneasy, and swayed gently. She was too drunk for this, but when her face became more determined, Kenpachi grinned widely. "Attack me," he commanded, his lips pulling back over his defined canines.

He grinned wider when she didn't hesitate. To his surprise, Orihime seemed to at least have some training in hand-to-hand martial arts. Even more surprising was that she was actually skilled when compared to other humans. Her movements were confident and well-practiced – no match for his, of course, but if she had the Shinigami strength and speed she could at least keep up with seated officers.

He was impressed that even though she seemed to know any attack was pointless (he blocked or pushed away nearly all of her attacks), she didn't give up easily. He decided his first lesson would be her footwork. "There," he murmured, hooking his foot around her ankle, and yanking up as gently as he could. She tumbled to the ground.

"That's not fair," she huffed, getting to her hands and knees before standing up. "You're about a thousand times stronger than me."

"I just did it to prove the point – your footwork needs practice," he told her. "You were leaving yourself open to attack even for an enemy about a thousand times weaker than me."

Orihime exhaled softly. "I'm too drunk –"

"Not an excuse," Kenpachi said roughly, watching as Orihime straightened herself. "Widen your base, the root of your attacks. A strong enemy will look at your feet, not your eyes; you need to learn to mask your intentions."

She inhaled deeply, setting her base a little wider per his instructions. "Okay," she said softly.

Kenpachi blocked a series of attacks, noticing that she at least took his advice to heart and began altering her footing when she moved. She kept her base wide, and he let her continue to launch attack after attack. She was breathing heavy after a while, her face was becoming flushed despite the fact that it was chilly outside. For some reason it amused him to watch her pathetic attacks. Most people would be primed to give up about now, but at least Orihime wasn't a quitter.

She circled around him a few times, working on her footing as he instructed. Her fists felt like flies against his hands, but he liked it when she kicked at him – she revealed a bit more leg every time. In fact, her movements were loosening the tie around her blue yukuta, allowing him a pretty good look at her cleavage. He wondered what she was wearing underneath that.

Unintentionally, Kenpachi deflected a kick to his midsection a little more roughly than he meant and sent the light girl tumbling to the ground. She rolled into a leafy-looking bush and exhaled sharply. "Tss," she said, straightening her yukuta discreetly. "I thought you were going easy on me, Kenpachi."

"Pain is part of life," he told her in an offhanded way.

"So is restraint," she murmured under her breath, pursing her lips.

Kenpachi laughed loudly at that, causing her to look up in alarm. Slowly a smile went to her lips. Kenpachi? Restrained? That would be the day.

"I need a drink," she told him softly.

She walked over to the stairs of the stairs of the pavilion, uncorked the sake bottle, and took a long swig. She looked at him, then tossed him the bottle. He drank after her, looking down with one eye as she tucked her hair behind her ears.

"Let's go," he told her, watching a brief smile cross her lips as he tossed the sake to the base of the peach tree.

Apparently she didn't need to be told twice, but this time her attacks were uncoordinated and sloppy. Still, she was aggressive, leaving her sides open frequently just to attack as swiftly and as many times in a row as possible. It was the way Ikkaku fought, but Orihime was too drunk and not talented enough to pull it off. He let her fight like this though, forgoing any lessons that might be learned so that she could fight uninterrupted and unconscientiously.

Kenpachi knew what it meant to just need to fight. Things built up inside of you, things that you couldn't talk about or think about enough to make them go away. The only way things like that finally shut up were if you fought them out or drank them out, and Orihime was doing both.

Finally, exausted, she collapsed against the base of the peach tree, breathing so heavily that her chest heaved and shook. She took a long swig of sake, tilting her head against the tree so that her neck was exposed.

"I guess I'm not a drunken master," she said with a tiny hiccup.

"Guess not," Kenpachi said with a laugh, sitting next to her against the trunk of the tree. The moon was shining high in the sky, almost giving enough light to read by. He took the sake from her, frowning when he realized that there wasn't very much left. He wondered how much Orihime had actually drunken.

She breathed heavily next to him, eyes closed and the folds of her yukuta leaving one leg exposed up to her mid-thigh. Her breasts were precariously encased in the light cotton of her yukuta, and Kenpachi couldn't help but stare. He'd been drinking since dinner, and knew his restraint wasn't exactly at its peak at the moment.

Then he started thinking about what that weird girl had told him. She was observing him specifically because of his interactions with Inoue Orihime. She was studying pheromones. He frowned. That girl was such a pain. He couldn't sense her reiatsu in the area, but he wasn't really all that good at that anyway. Would she be watching this, writing down little notes on a clipboard? Would she notice the way Kenpachi couldn't stop staring down the front of Orihime's dress? The thought of her watching made him frown. She was too nosey.


When she touched his hand he felt like she'd burned him, and he flinched a little bit under the lightness of her fingers. She'd turned to him, leaning against the tree. In the light of the moon the side of her face, down the length of her neck, and the exposed flesh of her chest glimmered with perspiration.

"Thank you, Kenpachi," she said softly.

Kenpachi didn't know what to say, but mostly because she hadn't stopped touching him yet. His palm was flat against the ground, not too far from the clay jug of sake. Orihime had turned to him, but was keeping her eyes on his hands as she danced her fingers around his wrists.

"Your hands are so much bigger than mine," she said softly, stating the obvious as she placed her hand over the top of his. The tips of her tapered fingers barely reached the middle of his fingers.

"Before," she said, and he knew exactly what she was talking about – not the sparring, but the first night she was here and he nearly mauled her. "I wanted you to take me…" She sighed, looking up into his eyes lustfully. "I just need to feel like I'm wanted." She paused then looked down demurely. "Even if it's a lie."

Kenpachi paused, more stunned than anything else. He took his hand out from under hers and used it to uncork the sake, taking a long drink.

Sure, he wanted to, but damn if it didn't sound like a terrible idea. Or maybe it sounded like a great idea, but that didn't stop it from being the wrong thing to do. He frowned. And what exactly was stopping him? Before it had been the fact that she was Yachiru's fun. Although, he had also thought that she was wrapped round that Kurosaki boy, but she said she'd known he would never love her. She said that her fantasy was just that – a fantasy.

And why would she want him anyway? Kenpachi was more than aware of his reputation. He also knew he wasn't the kind of man girls went all weak in the knees for. He cursed, and he killed, and he didn't care anything for feelings or gentleness. He drove people away with vicious looks and the edge of his sword. Any woman who wanted to be with him usually wanted him to pay – one of the reasons he went through such long dry spells. Either that or they had some kind of criminal complex. He didn't care for either, but he knew this wasn't the case with Orihime.

Orihime was too beautiful for him, he knew this. And she was too gentle, and caring. She loved everyone, and wasn't made for combat. He frowned again. But she had spirit, and that counted for something. Though why she would chose him was beyond his comprehension.

Apparently he'd taken too long in answering. She was standing, not looking back at him as she straightened out her hair.

"I don't know how to be gentle," he told her gruffly.

She looked back at him, her eyes hard. "I know." She began to adjust her yukuta.

"I can't make love to you."

She inhaled sharply, frowning delicately. "I'm pretty used to being rejected, Kenpachi," she told him in a steely voice. "You don't need to make excuses."

Then she walked away.

Part Six

Orihime bit her bottom lip hard, feeling like the biggest idiot in the world. She'd heard that alcohol loosened your tongue, but this was ridiculous! She'd made a fool out of herself so horribly that she would probably need to leave first thing in the morning.

How could she have let herself do that?!

It was pretty clear from Kenpachi's reaction to her that first night that he didn't have any sexual interest in her. Screw what Nemu said; this was a disaster. Kenpachi – a man not particularly known for his restraint – had turned her down not once, but twice. Orihime was pretty well aware that she'd been bizarrely gifted with an attractive body. She'd been told that a million times, though it was usually the last thing on her mind. Now she was reevaluating how appealing she really was. Obviously not that appealing, because she'd been rejected twice by Zaraki Kenpachi, and about a million times by Kurosaki Ichigo.

What was wrong with her? Maybe she wasn't really his type. Did she need to be more…lethal? She knew she wouldn't ever truly be a warrior, and if he was looking for a warrior goddess then he wouldn't be looking at her, that much was for sure. But even if he was just looking for someone who could halfway keep up with him then he wouldn't be looking at her either.

She sighed to herself as she opened the sliding door to her room – her guest room. She was just about to turn to close the door again when a rough hand pushed her inside. Trying to find her footing, Orihime spun off balance until her back was up against the wall. The door clicked closed and he was up against her on the wall.

Orihime gasped, looking up at such an angle that it hurt her neck. "Ken…Kenpachi?" she asked in a strangled whisper.

There was a glint in his single golden eye – the other was obscured by his eye-patch. And he was grinning down on her, the sharpness of his canines prominent and lethal-looking. Her heart fluttered, but she wasn't really sure if it was fear or attraction. Something about being devoured by this man was igniting her sexual desires. Lust burned hot and fierce under her skin.

"I don't know how to be gentle."

She nodded, swallowing. "I know."

"I can't make love to you."

He seemed to be asking permission, and Orihime nodded her head again. Then his lips pressed against hers with bruising force. Clearly, this wasn't a man practiced in kissing, and the weight behind his kiss betrayed a lack of experience. She opened her mouth to him automatically, not knowing what measures he would take to opening it himself if she didn't oblige him. His tongue in her mouth nearly suffocated her, and she was at once gasping for air and release – his hands were hard as stone, though, and there would be no escape.

And his hands were not gentle, either. He had told her that he wouldn't be. They squeezed her breasts painfully, ripped the blue yukuta off her shoulders and shredded her bra. He kneaded her breasts and pinched her nipples until tears filled her eyes. He laughed at this, though, kissing her harshly.

Orihime gasped when she felt his hand moved down her side, cupping her butt and squeezing that too. He pulled the yukuta off her hips, tossing it to the side. He must have felt that the angle was uncomfortable, for he had to lean over quite a bit to kiss her. Without warning he pushed her down onto the ground, and she hissed when her arm scrapped the corner of a low table on her way down. She'd knocked her head pretty good, too, but Kenpachi didn't stop. Instead he leaned down to her breasts, taking a hardened nipple between his teeth and pulling none too gently.

Orihime heard herself keen in an embarrassingly loud voice. Kenpachi laughed deeply in his chest, the reverberations of which shook against the sensitive flesh of her breasts. As he sucked and bit at her breasts, Orihime noticed that he seemed a little more experienced with this. He was still rough, but he at least wasn't leaving puncture wounds. At this point she was prepared for almost anything.

Slowly, Orihime reached up to touch his shoulders, her fingers gliding gently under the hem of his black robes. He was a quite a bit darker than her, and the contrast of their skin fascinated her. But as soon as she began to work her fingers over his impressively muscular frame, Kenpachi stopped short and glared down on her.

"What are you doing?" he asked her between clenched teeth.

She blinked in confusion, feeling the coolness of air on her now-damp chest. "Touching you?"

He grunted. "Why?"

This time Orihime sat up under him, and he let her to her surprise. "You mean…you've never been touched…like that?"

He frowned. "Mostly women just claw at me," he told her humorlessly.

Orihime's eyebrows rose. She could understand that. But, for all his roughness, she was still more than turned on, if not downright burning for satisfaction. "Can I…" she swallowed, looking into his mistrustful face. "Can I touch you, then? …You might like it."

He said nothing, and Orihime took that as a yes, and knelt between his knees. He was kneeling, knees spread, but still much taller than her. He watched her suspiciously, and she moved slowly (if not a little drunkenly) so that she could untie the sash around his hips. The fabric hissed under her hands, and she pushed it over his shoulders and onto the floor behind him.

Though she had seen many half-naked men (after all, she'd been to the beach before), Orihime had never been quite as impressed as she was with Zaraki Kenpachi. He was muscular and defined, but the length of his limbs made him still look rather lanky. He was even taller than Chad, but his chest wasn't as wide. And he had so many scars – scars that crisscrossed his torso and arms. Deep ones, and ones that were as thin as paper. She touched each one softly, watching as Kenpachi's arms twitched lightly at his sides. Was he restraining from touching her?

Unwrapping the cloth around his stomach, Orihime made a mental note to never think anything was so impressive than Kenpachi's scarred, defined abdomen. As a physical specimen, Kenpachi was the ideal warrior. She mused how Nemu might even think he was an eyeful, but was glad the Twelfth Division's vice-captain wouldn't be watching.

Orihime skimmed her fingers over the grooves of his abs, trailing light touches up the side of his ribs and then over his shoulders. Alcohol made her brave, and as she leaned up she captured his unresponsive lips with her own. She smiled, thinking how he was some kind of larger than life doll, and she took his bottom lip between her own and sucked on it thoughtfully, teasing it with her tongue. She wondered if she was really the only person, in his whole life, who had ever touched him like this.

Slowly, taking her time, Orihime worked his lips open, now leaning fully against his muscular frame. His chest was hot against hers, and she felt almost burned by him. He was hard like a stone, and she was soft and pliable as water. It was another contrast that fascinated her, and she clung to his shoulders, greedily pressing her chest to his. Her lips glided over his as well, and she slid her tongue lightly into his mouth – he tasted like sake, and was so warm. Hesitantly, he moved his tongue against hers, though the act had his shoulders shaking with the obvious restraint.

Orihime climbed up his frame, the inside of her thighs clasping his hips as she wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss and bringing her face level to his. Since she had been initiating most of their non-violent contact, Orihime was surprised to feel Kenpachi's large, warm hand cupping her bottom, helping hold her up. He didn't squeeze nearly has painfully as before, and his other hand moved up her bare back to the base of her skull.

This time she moaned when his kissed her, and she let her fingers burry themselves in his course, rough hair. His tongue was aggressive against hers, like he was trying to win a battle. Orihime merely smiled, allowed him his victory, and accepted his tongue into her mouth only to suck on it gently. His hand tightened into a fist in her hair, pulling her scalp as she continued to kiss him. It was obvious by his reactions that he liked this, and Orihime felt a deep, warm pool forming at the base of her abdomen. She rather liked this, too, of course.

Their mouths broke apart, and Orihime gasped – not for air, but in pleasure – as Kenpachi sank his prominent eyeteeth into her neck. While not hard enough to draw blood, the pressure of his jaws against her neck immediately immobilized her. The only thing she could do was cling to the back of his neck as he leaned her back down to the ground.

The awkwardness of their height was made apparent when he began grinding against her, settling between her legs. He had to arch over her to continue kissing her, and she couldn't press her body closer to his without breaking the kiss. She was panting, rolling her hips with his, and wanting to be so much closer.

"Don't…" she murmured softly when he pushed himself off her. "Don't stop."

He chuckled deep in his chest, and Orihime managed to open her eyes and focus on him in the darkness. He was grinning devilishly at her. "Take those off or you'll lose them," he told her.

Obediently, Orihime shucked off her panties, watching him with wide eyes as he looked her up and down. Though not ashamed, Orihime had never been completely comfortable with her body. Over the years she'd gained a new confidence in herself, but seeing the vicious, wild look in Kenpachi's eyes when he looked at her made Orihime quite nervous. He looked like he was going to attack her, but to her surprise he showed a new level of restraint as he palmed her hips, smoothing his hands up and down her curves.

She swallowed, watching as Kenpachi loosened his hakama. It fell to the ground, and Orihime's first thought was that it was never going to fit. She wasn't a virgin, but it had been a long enough time since she'd last been intimate for that to not really matter a whole ton. And, like the rest of him, Kenpachi was massive. Every part of him was a weapon, including his thick and throbbing manhood.

At first she thought he was going to just plough right into her, which probably would have ended up injuring her. But when he leaned over her, she felt his hot breath on the top of her head, and his hand reached down between them to cup her sex. Orihime didn't realized until then exactly how much she needed to be touched like that. Her whole body was aching to be touched, but especially there. His fingers were slow to move, as if he'd never touched someone like this. Orihime let out a high, breathy sigh as his fingers parted the folds of her slick sex. Apparently encouraged, Kenpachi slid a long digit inside her heat, rocking his hand in time with her hips.

Orihime moaned in protest as he withdrew his finger. "P-please, Kenpachi," she begged in a soft voice. "Please, don't stop."

He leaned down and kissed her abruptly, harshly, partially distracting her as he slid two fingers inside her swollen opening. She whimpered against his mouth, but even though he was stretching her it felt wonderful. Soon he pushed in a third digit, causing Orihime to arch her back in protest, and accidentally lock her jaw. She bit his tongue, and he pulled back with a strange look on his face. Was he pleased? Then the message was clear – if she started biting, he would be happy to continue.

Swallowing, eyes wide, Orihime shook her head, and Kenpachi laughed at her – loudly and without concern for who might hear. He began moving his hand in rhythm with her rolling hips. Soon she was moaning gain, louder and louder as she felt something warm and sweet build within her. As the sensation continued to dominate her senses, Kenpachi cruelly withdrew his fingers, laugher at her pathetic attempts to raise her hips to follow his retreating hand.

"Please," she whimpered, watching as his long tongue wrapped around his fingers, tasting her. "Please, Kenpachi…I…"

"What?" he asked, holding down her hips as he leaned towards her face. He was so close she could smell herself on his breath, strong and salty.

"I need more," she told him, gasping loudly when he bit her lower lip. She felt him, hard and hot against her thigh. He was pushing against her wet slit, nudging her.

"You're soft," he said, not talking about her peaceable disposition. "You don't have any scars." It was true – her skin was even and flawless. "And you bruise easily," he said, pressing against he place on her neck where he'd bitten her so forcefully. She hissed softly as he applied pressure to the newly formed bruise. "I can't go easy on you anymore."

Orihime clasped her hand over mouth, closing her eyes tightly as she muffled a scream. Pain radiated from between her legs – was he even all the way in? Despite his careful preparation, he was just so big, and she was slight and feminine. Kenpachi grabbed her wrist roughly, pinning her hand down as he bared his teeth at her. He growled at her. "Don't! If you're gonna scream, I wanna hear it!"

She breathed from between her teeth, a high keening noise that wasn't quite a scream escaped her lips – Kenpachi's grin grew wider. Then he pushed into her to the hilt, and Orihime worked to relax her legs and hips as much as possible. It was difficult when his massive weight was pushing down on her. He pulled out, and pushed down with agonizing haste. He might as well have been using a rake for all the pleasure she was getting out of this, and Kenpachi didn't stop, or pause for her to catch her breath, or go any slower.

He ploughed into her with all the delight of a warrior going into battle. That familiar gleam in his eye reminded her of the time he'd fought Nnoitra Jiruga. Soon she couldn't stop the screams he'd forbidden her to muffle. She'd tried to hold them back, vaguely aware that Kenpachi wasn't the only person who could hear them. But the pain was too hot and too sharp to ignore, and biting her bottom lip didn't stop her from calling out.

Kenpachi grunted, shifting her slightly so that her hips were no longer on the floor. He was on his knees now, holding her hips and thrusting her down on him. The change of angle made Orihime gasp, this time with pleasure. Whether it really was the angle, or Orihime had finally become familiar with his immense size, she was beginning to take pleasure from his touch.

Kenpachi thrusted with such a steady, even rhythm that Orihime felt lost in the warmth that was beginning to creep from her toes to her neck. She tried to tell him exactly what was happening, tried to beg for more, but she could only moan and scream his name as he pounded into her. Breathing became difficult, and the all encompassing need for release took command of her body. She was begging, screaming, and crying out his name.

He pulled her body from where her shoulder blades rested on the floor to flush against his chest. The combined stimulation of him pumping in and out of her, plus the pressure and friction of his strong chest against her nipples, made Orihime slightly dizzy. Throwing her arms around his neck, Orihime hung on for dear life, burying her face near his collarbone.

Her orgasm was blinding, and drawn out to what felt like hours. She felt Kenpachi's teeth sink into her shoulder as his ever-shallower thrusts jerked her lifeless body against his. A mist was coming over her, thick so that she couldn't see or hear the things around her. Never, not even in her wildest imagination (which could get pretty wild), had she ever thought sex could be that fantastic. She was kissing his chest, nuzzling him and saying something to the affect of how amazing everything was, when he laid her down gently on the ground.

As he pulled out of her, Orihime realized he must have come, too. He didn't say anything, just put on his black robes, his captain's haori, and tossed her the light blue robe she'd been wearing…it could have been hours ago for all she knew…

"I need a shower," he told her bluntly. "And you're messy."

Orihime giggled a little bit, feeling more inebriated now after her fantastic climax than she had while she'd been drinking. "You'll have to carry me then…I can't move…"

He grunted, a smirk on his lips. Orihime closed her eyes and tried to remember how to open them. No such luck.

Part Seven

Ikkaku had been debating for the better part of a minute whether or not he needed to see what the hell all that screaming was about. He'd drug that lightweight, Yumichika, back from the bar, only to come back to the Eleventh Division barracks and discover it was possible his captain was committing murder. He'd caught a series of sceams, both his captain's and a female's, and then everything was quiet. Yumichika stayed out, but another member of the division poked his head around the corner with a relieved look when he saw who it was.

"Ikkaku-san," the unranked man said. "We didn't know what to do. Someone saw the captain go into Orihime-chan's room, and then the screaming started." He paused. "He was in such a terrible mood earlier…do you think he killed her…?"

Ikkaku frowned. Usually he wouldn't put it past his captain to kill, but not Orihime. Still, it was worth checking out. He told the man to make sure Yumichika got back to his room, and turned down the hallways until he made it to the room that Yachiru had reserved for Orihime.

He nearly jumped in surprise when a door down the hall slid open with a crack. A pink head shot out of the door…but…but that was wrong. A woman was coming out of Yachiru's room – a tall woman in a matching set of amber-colored underclothes stepped out, a wide smile on her lips. "Hey!" she said to him in a sharp whisper. "Pachinko-head!"

Ikkaku took a step back, and reevaluated whose pale, rounded breasts he was ogling. Pink haired woman comes out of his vice-captain's room, calling him Pachinko-head… "Yachiru?"

"Duh," she said snidely, crossing her arms. "You think they're done yet?"

"Done?" He felt like he was missing so many things…control of his arousal for one…

The woman put a hand on her swerving hips. "My eyes are up here, Pachinko-head," she told him with a grin. "Nemu," she said sharply. "Give me a robe."

The vice-captain of the Twelfth Division appeared at the doorway, dressed in her typically short skirt and taking notes on a clipboard. She handed Yachiru a robe without looking up, and continued to write. Ikkaku couldn't even begin to think of all the things that were wrong with this picture, but the obvious one was that his vice-captain was an adult woman, and she was sexy. He thought his vice-captain was sexy.

"If Zaraki-taicho and Orihime-chan are finished," Kurotsuchi Nemu said in a dry, solemn voice, "then should we continue with our research?"

Yachiru looked speculative for a moment, putting a finger over her full, pink lips. "I don't know…has Kira finished cowering in the corner yet?"

The dark-haired vice-captain looked in the door. "Not yet, Yachiru-fukutaicho. I estimate his pheromone level is quite low at this point. He will need significantly more stimulation to reach previous levels."

Yachiru nodded. "Fine. But you owe me. I hate being an adult."

Just as she was about to return to her room, Ikkaku sputtered something out, but it wasn't really understandable. Yachiru turned back to him. "You'd better not spoil any of Ken-chan's fun, or I'm coming after you when I'm done with Kira – don't think I won't, Pachinko-head!"

Ikkaku paled, and ran to the safety of his room. For the first time in his life, Madarame Ikkaku was actually scared.

Author's Note: So, I hope you all liked it. I wanted to write something smutty, but also funny. My Naruto fic is so slow in building up to the naughty stuff that if I don't write the occasional smut then I get impatient and ruin my chapter stories.

I'm going to make this a series, though. Obviously this is the first, but I'm going to follow up with Wedding Date, where Orihime convinces Kenpachi to take her to Ichigo and Tatsuki's wedding. Then I'm thinking about doing another after that called Dinner Date, where Kenpachi actually takes her out to a restaurant somewhere. I'm open for suggestions.

Anyway, I know both Kenpachi and Orihime were both a little OOC, but I tried my best to keep them in character, but also flexible enough to write a smut piece with them. Believe you me, there are parts of this story that really tick me off, but I can't figure out what to do with them.

So, review, make me happy. I'll probably only bother continuing if someone besides me likes this fic…so tell me if you do or not. I'm genuinely curious.