AN: A BIIIIIIG THANK YOU TO .Milsom (I'll get back to your mail tomorrow, if you're reading xD), WITHOUT WHOM THIS CHAPTER WOULD NOT BE HERE Thank you also to ALL the reviewers I was unable to reply to! You make my day :) Just a BIIIIG THANK YOU :D Any feedback is appreciated.
Soi Fon stared at the scene before her. She had received a call at about ten twenty-three PM, but she had definitely not expected to see the scene before her.
Kurosaki Ichigo was being attended to by medics, the cuts and abrasions on his knuckles indicating that he had been in, what appeared to be quite a horrific fight. Opposite him sat Orihime Inoue who had a blanket wrapped around her thin shoulders and a hot drink for shock in one hand. Her eyes were staring at the red splatters on the snow.
Three – now conscious – convicted rapists were gesticulating wildly to a police officer, who was taking down notes and asking the occasional question. It seemed they were intoning their innocence in anything to do with Orihime.
What a bloody mess. Quite literally.
The blood on the snow looks scary. Like something out of a horror movie. Not that I've ever watched on, I'm always too scared. But I suppose that's what it would look like. But actually what it most reminds me of is a geisha's face. White as snow and then lips as red as blood.
Kurosaki-kun won't look at me.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Well, I can't say I'm surprised when I hear Ichigo has been carted off to prison for attacking convicted rapists. Now I'm not saying I wouldn't have done the same thing, but I would have done the job properly.
Inoue can't even look at anyone.
"Please, have something to drink Orihime. Please…" Tatsuki was begging quietly with Orihime who showed no signs of responding. Her eyes weren't reflecting much.
"Or eat? You look really dreadful."
Still Orihime said nothing.
"It's my fault." It was such a small, weak whisper Tatsuki wasn't sure she had even heard it at first.
"It's all my fault, Tatsuki-chan." Orihime's eyes were now brimming with tears threaded with regret.
"No it isn't. It really isn't."
"I… I'm always such a burden to Kurosaki-kun. He always…" Orihime sniffed rubbing her face in frustration, "He always protects me and I can never… never… ever do anything in return." She hiccupped, somewhat childishly.
"He doesn't need to protect me all the time. It just…" She sniffed and began to play with the ends of her hair as a distraction, "hurts."
"In-ou-e…" Rukia's now very round pregnant shadow loomed over the girl somewhat ominously.
Rukia lifted her fist in the air and hit Orihime over her head, only to recoil and rub her fist in pain, obviously having underestimated Orihime's skull.
"Ku-Kuchiki-san? What did you tap me for?" Orihime's watery eyes looked up at her imploringly.
That was good, Tatsuki thought absently. Orihime had stopped being in zombie-mode.
"Ah, you imbecilic moron! Ichigo doesn't protect you because he feels it's his duty to do so, he doesn't protect you because he thinks he has to!" Rukia was now glowering at the girl, while at the same time, still nursing her still-sore hand.
Rukia's eyebrow twitched.
"You should be blonde." Rukia rubbed her stomach absently, feeling for a kick.
"He protects you because he wants to."
Cells are scary really aren't they? It reminds me so much of the place where I go when I go. It terrifies me. The light is too white. The walls are too grey. The ceiling too low. The walls seem to edge close together. Squashing you. It's too cold in here. Much too cold.
Orihime's voice keeps echoing in my head. It's scary because her voice… It's not meant to be echoic. It's not meant to sound that empty, that hollow. It's meant to be so full of colours and life. And warmth. Not cold and dark and sad.
You're such an ass Ichigo.
"Shut up." I don't realize I have spoken aloud until I hear that weird echoing noise around the cell.
You've completely cracked up now haven't you? Talking to me out loud is completely nuts.
"Just be quiet will you?"
Don't think I will actually. Hmm, you should actually be grateful to me. I mean, they woulda painted the snow a different colour… With you as the paint that is.
"Just, be quiet. Don't you have anything better to do?" This sounds nuts I know. God, what would Rukia or Inoue say if they saw me now? I'd rather not know.
Wow. That is crazy. Still good thing I did come out don't you think? Not only would you be dead as a dodo, but they would probably have gotten Orihime-chan again. That would suck for you wouln't-?
"Fuck. Off." I snap eventually.
Oooh, I think I touched a nerve.
"Just go." I bite out. This is childish as it's pretty fucking obvious by now he's not leaving me for a while.
Don't be so petty Ichigo. Still I have been wondering you know… I mean… What makes that redhead so special? Aside from the obvious I mean, and I think you do, I know exactly what you-
"Shut the fuck up!" I get up and I wonder over to the bed… Could you call it a bed? It's more like a bench. A very narrow bench. With a flimsy blanket and a very flat pillow. I wonder how many other people have slept here. I wonder how many of them have been guilty… If any of them have been rapists… If any of them felt any regret. If any of them even considered stopping when their victim cried out to stop. I wonder how they sleep at night.
Jesus, talk about being melodramatic Ichigo. You gotta lighten up.
"Would you give it a fucking rest?"
Thank god. He stops. He stops. His voice has stopped. Oh thank god. For the first time that day I allow myself to sink to the floor and hold my head in my hands.
I look at my knuckles. Dried blood lingers on them and I scrape it off, scratching myself in the process.
"Shit." Dark red – almost crimson poppy like spots of blood start to bloom on my knuckles. It reminds me of Inoue when I saw her that night, crimson streaks marring her legs. My stomach flips.
I vomit suddenly.
I close my eyes when I hear him again, I can't stand this anymore.
That woman must be something special I guess. Actually though, if I were you I would resent her. I mean to say because of her there's a me. You know what I mean Ichigo?
"Don't fucking mention her like that."
Ooooh. Touchy. Still… The way she looks… Well… It was bound to happen someday don't you agree.
And then I am gone and I find myself hitting out at places I think I see him. He disappears whenever I lunge, and my knuckles are bruised and grazed from the harsh stone walls I come into contact with. And then the door is opening and everything is a calm, deep black.
"Is Kurosaki-kun okay?" Orihime asks again and again. The horses who rush about with clipboards do not respond, do not have time, they must get the doctors, must find the painkillers or the IVs.
And still she asks, "Is he okay? Is he hurt? Will he be okay? What's happened? Why's it beeping? Can I see him?"
Endless, endless questions come tumbling from her lips but nobody has the time of say for a small girl who needs help.
Orihime instead watched through the glass window as a somber looking doctor checks Ichigo's heart rate, and examines the wounds and crack knuckles. There is a bandage around his head from where the guard was forced to knock him unconscious. On the white bandage there blooms a very dark red flower.
So Orihime watches through the glass window. Hoping for him to wake up.
Three days later
"Neh, Kurosaki-kun do you think you'll wake up sometime soon?"
Ichigo's sleeping face does not show emotion.
"I think you will." Orihime chirps. And she puts some carefully selected crocuses into a small vase.
"The snow is melting…" She gazes out of the window. Outside the word is being born again.
Seven hours later.
"Ichigo?" Renji rubs his eyes. It's not that he doesn't enjoy visiting his friend… It's just that… Well. As Renji would tell you it's bloody hard to stay awake when all someone does it sleep. But Rukia would skin him alive f he didn't visit.
Amber eyes stare at the ceiling. Then they move and find Renji.
"Damn… I ended up in hell after all…"
Renji's eyesbrow twitches.
"SHUT UP ASSHOLE!"
And that is how Orihime found out that Ichigo was awake.
"Neh, Kurosaki-kun… You know what you reminded me of when you were sleeping?"
Ichigo stared at Orihime slightly non-plussed. There was a peculiar evil gleam to her eye that had not been there since before… then.
"Do I want to know?"
"You can decide after I've told you!"
"That's so not-"
"You reminded me of sleeping beauty, Kurosaki-kun!"
Rukia and Tatsuki who had until then been biting their cheeks to keep themselves from sniggering suddenly guffawed. Tatsuki clutched her side while Rukia hung onto the other girl for support, her already big belly now heaving.
"What the hell? SHUT UP RUKIA!"
"Neh, did I say something wrong?" Orihime suddenly looked very childishly innocent.
"Sl-Sleep…" Tatsuki was now heaving for breath, "Beaut… HIM?"
"I…" Rukia huffed somewhat as she tried to regain her composure, "…always knew there," she wiped the corner of her eye, "was something… weird about your eyelashes Ichigo…"
"What the hell midget? Say that again when I'm not in hospital!"
"Uhmm…" Everyone turned to look at Orihime.
"I think Kurosaki-kun has nice eyelashes."
Rukia and Tatsuki once more were sent into a fit of hysterics.
One month later
Ichigo. You're fucked up.
Ichigo… Look at that guy… He's looking at Orihime… We should get him… GET HIM BEFORE HE DOES WHAT THEY DID!
"Kurosaki Ichigo I presume?"
Ichigo nodded stiffly.
"You have so far been charged with two physical cases of assault."
The calm white-haired man in front of him joined his long fingers together in an arc.
"Well… Quite an achievement I suppose." The man smiled.
"Not really, Ukitake-san."
"Well… I suppose not then. Would you care to explain to me why?"
This is where I go when I go, and he's there.
It's a room with no windows and no doors, and walls that are thin enough for me to see and hear everything but too thick for me to break through.
I'm here but no there.
I am pounding to be let out, but nobody can hear me.
This is where I go, when I go, and he's there:
To a country where everyone's face looks different from the ones I know, and the language is the act of not speaking, and noise is everywhere in the air we breathe. I am doing what the Romans did in Rome; I am trying to communicate, but no one has bothered to tell me that these people cannot hear.
"They shouldn't fucking look at her…"
Ukitake examines Ichigo's facial expression closely. It changed so dramatically, so quickly that Ukitake thought he must have blinked.
"Look at who?"
And when Ichigo looks up, those amber eyes are so dark, so black. Ukitake scribbles something on his notepad.
"Inoue… They shouldn't fucking look at her… Shouldn't fucking touch her…"
"Ah. Is that why you hear voices then, Kurosaki-san?"
This is where I go, when I go, and he's there:
To the place where my body becomes a piano, full of black keys only – the sharps and the flats, when everyone knows that to play a song, you need some white keys.
This is why I come back, and he leaves:
To find those white keys.
Ichigo blinks. He is back in this white office, this white room. In this comfy leather chair.
Ukitake smiles, and Ichigo is shocked. How could anyone smile at him, knowing what kind of freak… What kind of monster he is?
"Not a problem."
"KU-RO-SA-KI-KUN!" Orihime is calling to him, smiling and laughing.
"Let's walk home together okay?" She smiles, again and the sun seems to give her a halo.
Six days later
Orihime can feel her body go into lock-down.
She stares at the white sheet in her hand with the simple kanji on it. She wishes she couldn't read.
Miss Orihime Inoue.
As you have decided to press charges on the accused* (see below for details) we will indeed be taking your case to a legal court. The hearing will be held on the eighteenth of April. You are the prosecutor's and the defense's first witness.
If we don't change the direction we are headed we will end up where we are going.
Again, thank you for reading and any feedback is greatly appreciated!