It's done! I'm finally, forever done! Thank you for all your kind reviews, alerts, favorites, and support! You're what's kept me writing this story, and after approximately a year after starting, it's done. I hope it's up to your expectations!
Orihime was torn between feeling happy and upset. She sat on the grassy ground of a nearby hill, away from the small home she lived in. Even on such a peaceful day such as this, her heart was mixed with many feelings. She was very much enthusiastic to see Ichigo again, but that only meant he died.
After 70 years, Kurosaki Ichigo passed away in his sleep. Orihime could only muse inwardly at how he probably would've wished to go out with a bang and die during some epic fight or the like. But at least they were the same; 70 years ago Orihime's heart gave out while she was sleeping, and now Ichigo's did just the same.
Smiling faintly, she glanced down to her left hand, twisting around the ring on her finger. Her heart fluttered in her chest as she wondered what Ichigo would say once he arrived in Soul Society. Orihime had been inquired on multiple occasions to join the Gotei 13, only to turn them down. She figured with the hectic life she lived before hand, it'd be nice to settle down and live a comfortable life on her own. That said, she wasn't able to go to Karakura to visit Ichigo. Orihime relied on Rukia to tell her what was happening and pass along things Ichigo said.
That made her smile too. Whenever Rukia came to visit, she'd always start off with telling her what Ichigo said or did. Most notably, how he always asked how she was doing in Soul Society. It was funny, in a sense. For the last 50 years or so, Rukia would keep going on about how he's getting so old looking, with wrinkles, and how he was a grumpy old man growing old alone. That latter part of the statement made her wish he'd lived his life in love, but she couldn't tell if she wanted that love to belong to someone in Karakura, or with her.
Shaking her head of those silly thoughts, she lightly slapped at her cheeks as if to lose those bad thoughts. "Ichigo-kun said he'd wait, and he did! Why am I being so odd?" Orihime mumbled to herself.
A bell rang off into the distance, and Orihime snapped her head to the side. It was approximately noon, and if she recalled right, that was the time Rukia and Renji said they'd be back with Ichigo. Jumping up from her spot, she lifted the fabric of her kimono, raising it so it wouldn't bunch around her feet, and she started to run back to her home.
Ichigo felt odd about going through the Senkaimon. Before he'd had to run through the Dangai, but now it was a whole new, not to mention safe, method of transportation. He also tried to ignore the jabs coming from Rukia and Renji about him and Orihime. Truth be told, it only made him flustered and embarrassed. In addition, they repeatedly pointed out the matching gold band on his ring finger on his left hand. He had bought it a few months after Orihime's passing, as a reminder for himself.
Orihime... She was one face he couldn't wait to see. What would she look like? His image of her in his head was that of when he last saw her, young, beautiful, amazing. But his heart dropped at a thought. What if she aged while she was here? Oddly enough, his spirit form after his death looked like that of when he was a young adult. He was partially happy about that, seeing as he wouldn't need to live and love Orihime while looking like an old geezer. It wouldn't make it look like he was some old creeper hanging around a young girl.
They were soon out of the Senkaimon, and the two other shinigami merely gave him pats on the back with wide grins. It appeared as if they wouldn't be courting him any longer. Instead, Rukia held up a lone hand with an extended finger, and pointed northward.
"Inoue's in a small yellow house that direction," she instructed him, grinning like she had some secret. "Now go and try not to make an ass of yourself."
"I-I won't make an ass of myself!" Ichigo hissed back, inwardly glad they gave him some sort of direction on how to get there. He only hoped there wouldn't be a bazillion other yellow houses around Orihime's.
With a quick huff, Ichigo turned on his heels and made his way north bound. He passed trees and other houses, ignoring the stares of little children watching him as he walked by. As far as he knew, she was a little bit on the outskirts of a small 'village' in the North Rukongai. Rukia had mentioned her location maybe once many years ago, but Ichigo purposely kept in mind that little fact for the exact reason of using it to find her now.
Growling, he found walking along took too long, for he was a bit further away from her district than he thought he was. Ichigo flash-stepped to her northbound district, and as he stopped in the middle of a village, he could feel it.
Gentle and calm, just as he remembered it from years ago. His lips teased to pull upwards into a smile, when she picked up a running pace to get towards the edge of town. After passing trees, shrubbery, and generally getting more into open space than in town, he could see the little yellow house. It was a pale yellow, actually, but that was beside the point. When that tiny shack came into view, his heart was beating a mile a minute, while somehow dropping to his toes at the same time.
Good god, I haven't seen Orihime for so long and I'm practically having a heart attack!
Yet his feet still piloted him towards the house and before he knew it, he was standing right at her door and his hand had already knocked three times on the light wood. He glared at his fist, feeling betrayed at his body for knocking so subconsciously.
"Just a second!" Her sweet voice carried through the house and out the door, without the passageway ever having to be opened. It was like music to his ears, and he could feel that formerly erratic heart of his starting to melt at the sound of her voice.
The door creaked open and lone behold stood Orihime, clad in a lavender yukata. Ichigo felt a heat rise up his neck, and he nearly pulled at his shihakusho for relief. Her eyes were bigger than he remembered and she looked so beautiful, yet at the same time, didn't feel any different at all. Maybe it was the fact that he'd been away from her for so long made him relish in her presence now.
"I-Ichigo-kun..." Orihime breathed, her hand rising to grip the door paneling for support. She felt all these emotions swirling inside her, but she didn't know how to get them out. Ichigo was stuck in a same problem, so it was hard for him to say anything as well.
Swallowing thickly to himself, he knew he needed to talk, move, something. After very little deliberation in his head, Ichigo instead decided to reach his hand out to hold Orihime's face. She jumped a little bit at the touch, feeling that it was foreign for a moment before the memories of his touch flooding back to her. She sighed happily and leaned into palm, unconsciously taking a step closer to him, into his arms. With one hand on her cheek, Ichigo laced his other around the small of her back, pulling her close.
"Orihime..." He mumbled, his voice barely above a whisper. She smiled at the mention of her name and a visible blush rose in her cheeks. With her hands gripping the fabric of his top, she hummed in content.
"Ichigo-kun," Orihime murmured his name in response. She had spoken his name out loud before, but it was to herself and definitely didn't feel as heartfelt as it did now.
And then Ichigo swooped down and pressed a firm kiss to her lips. He had to question himself though, as to how in the world he lived 70 years without this, without her. In the back of his mind, he was surprised he didn't go mad.
Orihime kissed him back, her shyness and excitement mixing together to create an odd, but lovable emotion that made Ichigo want to hold her tighter. Reluctantly, he had to pull away at one point, but he rested his forehead on hers while they both quietly regained their breaths. However, shortly after, a large grin crept onto Ichigo's face, and he would not stop smiling.
"Welcome home, Ichigo-kun," Orihime greeted him, smiling at him just as wide in return.
"Yeah... I'm home, Orihime."