Gah, this is totally a fandom thing, but its just my take on what could've happened directly after Ichigo's hollow transformation, and it wouldn't leave me alone until I put in down on paper. Don't mind the OOCness at the end. Hey, I can dream, can't I?
Finish me." Ulquiorra gasped. "I have no reason to live now that I have failed."
"Ichigo!" Ishida could see the cero growing larger by the second.
"Do it!" Ulquiorra was practically begging him now.
Ichigo snapped his gaze to the left at the last second. One hand latched onto his mask, yanking his horns upward and away from their intended target as he kicked Ulquiorra aside, just as the mighty explosion lit the skies of Las Noches.
The smoke cleared immediately, and there he stood. Gone were the strange markings on his chest, gone was the mask, and gone was the hollow hole he'd had only a moment ago.
An incredible, joyous sense of relief filled Orihime when she saw that Ichigo unharmed, but the vizard did not reciprocate her feelings. Instead, he stood there for a moment, a blank look in his eyes as they roamed across the battlefield. Who had done this? Why was Ishida nursing a wound that looked like it had been inflicted by Tensa Zangetsu? Why was Ulquiorra laying there at his feet, with a look of open disbelief on his face?
Confused amber met frightened violet silver, demanding answers.
Ichigo took one step towards her before his legs gave out. He choked out in surprise, slapping a palm against the ground to brace himself as the memories rushed through him.
A hand, gently stroking his hair.
Words, kind words, whispered to him in his sleep.
"Kurosaki-kun, you know I had a lot of things I wanted to do... I want to be a teacher... I also want to be an astronaut... and also make my own cake shop... I want to go to the sweets bakery and say 'I want one of everything'...
A tear, plinking down upon his cheek.
"Ohhhh, I wish I could live life five times over. Then I'd be born in five different places, and I'd stuff myself with different food from around the world... I'd live five different lives with five different occupations... and then, for those five times... I'd fall in love with the same person..."
He couldn't see anything, but he vaguely recalled this. When he'd woken up after his battle with Grimmjow, his hand had had been healed. There wasn't a hole in it anymore, instead, there was only the lingering trace of Inoue's reaitsu. She'd been there, in his room, he'd argued this to Old man Yamamoto, but know, Kurosaki Ichigo was being granted a true view as to what had happened that night.
"I'd fall in love with the same person."
"The same person."
"Gah!" Air rushed back into his lungs, and Ichigo's eyes burst open with a sharp gasp. Startled, Inoue pushed her face away from his. There was surprise in his eyes, confusion, but he seemed to understand that something had happened again while he was out.
A bleary smile crossed his lips.
"Hey, Orihime. I heard you. You...were calling me, right?"
"K-Kurosaki-kun...Orihime remained still for a moment, trembling, unable to move.
"Hey," Ichigo displayed some concern at this, weakly leaning up on his elbows to support himself. "Did something happen? Is everybody alright?" She managed a shaky nod, but her lower lip was already trembling. "Y-Yes everyone's f-fine, but I-you-um-I....It was too much, all of this, all these emotions, it was too much to process at once.
He'd died twice already, and come back both times. Small, sniffling hiccups escaped her lips and the tears still streamed down her face. Tears of relief, sadness, fear, all mingled into that one solitary moment. It was too much to bear for anyone, human, shinigami, or hollow.
With a small hiccup, the dam burst.
Poor Orihime, she burst into tears, threw her arms around Ichigo and held him tight. Ichigo panicked, but didn't let go, for when he tried to, Orihime held him all the tighter. Eventually he just gave up and tried, in his own, clumsy, naieve way, to calm her down, with 'Take it easy! I'm alright!' and so on.
Orihime stillwasn't letting go. In fact, her grip was nothing short of bone-crushing now, and as Ichigo felt another one of his ribs break, he knew something had to be done about this glomp attack before he passed out again.
Naturally, he did the first thing that came to mind.
Her grip loosened, if only a bit.
With what little strength he had remaining, Ichigo forced himself away from her, only to find his gaze locked with purple grey eyes, still welling up with unshed tears. Suddenly inexplicably guilty, the vizard couldn't bring himself to stand up. Why he did what he did next would remain a mystery to him for many years to come.
Her eyes shot wide open, a startled gasp muffled into his mouth as their lips parted. For some reason, he'd just kissed her. He hadn't even thought about kissing her, he'd just done it without thinking. For a brief moment, she clung to him, her nails scraping against his back, before abruptly going limp and falling to his chest.
Realizing that he was probably being a jerk and she wanted him to back off, Ichigo hastily disentangled himself from Inoue once more, only to find that she now made no effort whatsoever to keep her hold on him. Instead, she rested her forehead against his own, keeping her gaze down, and away from him.
Uncertain, confused, and horribly embarrassed, Ichigo stared at Inoue's eyes, waiting, wanting to see what she would do in the wake of such an overly impulsive action. He was a shinigami, not a mind reader, so he could only look on silently as a myriad of mixed emotions flickered across her blank face.
"Hey...c'mon, say something! Inoue!"
Slowly, Inoue touched a frail hand to her lips, then pulled it away. She stared at it in wonderment, as if her palm were the most wondrous thing she'd ever seen. Then, she raised her gaze to meet Ichigo's, and for the first time in a long time, the vizard felt himself begin to get a nosebleed.
During the battle, her outfit had been horribly torn at the shoulders and neck. Now, he found himself prevented with a rather ample view of her wonderful cleavage. Desperate to avert his eyes, Ichigo tore his gaze away, only to find himself staring at Inoue's lips, and when that only made it worse, her eyes. How could a simple pair of eyes hold him so spellbound? Ichigo didn't know the answer, but he didn't want to look away.
A light, pink flush now lit her cheeks. She squirmed a bit, uncertain of what to do, but at the same time, not making any effort to pull away from him. Now, Ichigo Kurosaki knew next to nothing about girls, unless you counted the numerous times Yoruichi-san tormented him. But this, well, how should he put it?
It felt...different. Natural, right, even if they were in enemy territory. Then again, he didn't know how these things were supposed to feel, but if he did, then Ichigo would have to say that this felt...alright.
He didn't know why, but he positively adored the shy smile that now flickered across her lips, stubbornly refusing to leave as her eyes darted to his lips, only worsening the blush. He felt his face heat up too, probably because his flush was redder than a strawberry's. He couldn't thin straight. The ability to reason with himself was fading away with the wind.
Her lips parted, as if to speak. Suddenly, Ichigo felt the overwhelming urge to smother those lips with his own, to take her in his arms and never, ever let her go. Wait...what the hell?! What the hell was he thinking?! Inoue was his friend! You didn't smooch your friends!
"Ano...Kurosaki-kun?" It was a squeak, barely a whisper, but he heard it, and it snapped him out of his daze. There was something different about her voice now, as she closed her eyes for longer than the standard blink.
"Y-Yeah?" He felt like a fool for saying that, but he couldn't think of anything else.
"Kiss me." Her words were weak, plaintive, needy. Ichigo felt the blood beneath his veins freeze, the dull pounding of her admittance roaring inside his skull. Some small part of him had been waiting to hear those words, and now that they had been spoken, he was left weak, wanting, and confused. Was it possible to fall in love so quickly? He didn't know. It was something new for him, someone alien to anything other than the field of battle.
But was it really so wrong?
He did, crossing the last centimeter between them. It felt wonderful. It was like Kukkaku had planted a bunch of fireworks inside his head, and chosen to fire all of them off at the very moment he kissed Inoue. Cliche, yes, but that was the only way Ichigo could describe it. Orihime tilted her head to deepen the kiss and it was all Ichigo could do to keep silent afterwards. He wanted to scream, to shout it out on a rooftop, this wonderful, indescripable feeling that filled his body and soul.
Instead, he clamped both arms around Inoue's waist and drew her closer. Her soft whimper was music to Ichigo's ears as their lips parted and came together for what seemed like an eternity. He could hear his inner hollow snickering quietly at this, as well as whispering some rather crude suggestions, all of which were ignored.
For a few moments, Ichigo forgot about the war. Forgot about Aizen, forgot about the impending doom that would befall his hometown if he didn't stand up and get moving. He wanted to have some feeling of normalcy for once in his life. Aizen had stolen that from him with his twisted schemes, and now, Ichigo was reclaiming it.
A smug feeling of satisfaction, emanating from the hollow again, filled him. Ichigo swept it aside, only to realize that he had to break the kiss, and actually breathe for the first time in three minutes.
With a small gasp, he sucked in the dry, arid air of Hueco Muendo. His senses returned to him then, and he could hear Inoue, just as out of breath, gasping into his chest, her head tilted up towards him, her eyes shut peacefully. It was at that moment that Ichigo realized he was practically naked, and what little remained of his shihakusho was just enough to cover his lower torso, if barely.
No, he shook his head vigorously.
Too early for that.
As if reading his mind, Inoue opened her eyes. "I reject." The warm glow of her Shun Shun Rikka filled him, slowly restoring his strength, as his body was already healed by the effect of his hollow transformation. But his reaitsu was slow to return, as was his shihakusho. The lingering effects of the hollow transformation, coupled with her lack of ability in efficiently restoring reaitsu, made the process slow and ardurous.
She watched him suddenly stand up, pick up his sword, and eyes the scene down below. But whereas he would've just jumped down towards the dome without a second thought, he now smiled, and held a hand out to her.
"That's enough for now. So let's go. We've got a war to win."
"Did I stutter?"
Without another word, Ichigo scooped Inoue Orihime up by the waist. As before, she squeaked in surprise but this time, she held onto him for dear life, arms wrapping about his neck.
"Hold on." He muttered, reaching up to his face, preparing to summon the mask. "It's a long drop."
"O-Of course, Ichigo."
Without another word, Ichigo Kurosaki and Inoue Orihime dove down to the battles that awaited them.
Well, there you have it! My own personal take on what might've happened up there above the dome of Hueco Muendo! Like don't like? Read, Review? Lemme know what you think of this little oneshot!!