Kyo - So I'm finally uploading a new fic! Yay for me! Now I want you all to know that I started writing this months before the Winter War reached it's climax in the manga, so most of what happened will be ignored. Just think of this as an... alternate ending...? xD
Chapter 1 - Enamoro Conmigo. [Fall In Love With Me.]
"Kurosaki-kun..." Orihime whispered, still very much out of breath from their recent kiss. Her soft gray eyes were filled with concern. Ichigo looked up at her, his hands still lightly holding her sides, inches short from being buried underneath the soft frilly material of her blouse. Ichigo broke from his recent daydream, looking down at the woman as if through fogged glass. His brown eyes were filled with apologies; he smiled warmly.
"Inoue... I told you, call me Ichigo." He said in return to her inquiry, hating how distant her voice sounded, the concern melting heavily from it. The girl blushed, turning her head; she gave a breathy laugh.
"Ichigo... what's the matter?" She lifted a small hand to his face, brushing back the orange strands from his forehead. "Why did you stop?"
He leaned into her touch as her hand moved over his cheek, nuzzling into her palm. Ichigo smiled softly down at the woman beneath him. "Sorry... I didn't mean to get distracted."
Orihime frowned, displeased. "You don't want to anymore?" Her small hand dropped from his face slightly.
He shook his head, lifting a hand to grab hers; he kissed the underside of her palm.
"Of course I do, Hime. I'm sorry, it won't happen again." He promised and she nodded absently, smiling at him with her kind eyes.
Ichigo wondered what he would be like if he didn't have Orihime. Those thoughts before, they were just insecurities, he was sure. Sometimes he doubted he was good enough for her. She was so kind and sweet, and always willing to help anyone, friend or foe. She cared about everyone equally. She especially kept a special place in her heart for Ichigo. He thought himself crazy that he was not able to notice it before. Her quiet affection always seemed to mesmerize himself, amazed that someone could care so deeply for him. He wished he could say the same for himself. She was so much better than him, he thought, surely she could have chosen someone better, someone more suited to her nature than he. But she didn't, she stood by him since the first time she said it; the first time she told him she loved him.
He remembered it clearly. After the gruesome war with Aizen, after all of the bloodshed and tears, things returned to normal, as they somehow manage to do. After all, the false Karakura town had provided a sufficient arena for their battle and, thankfully, no innocent human was harmed. All of the shinigami that had been stationed in Karakura town went back to soul society, leaving the respective humans to deal with their after battle scars on their own, promising to keep in touch with their representative every once in a while; to this Rukia and Renji had sworn an oath. A lot of people went missing arrancar, shinigami and the like - but everyone supposed their bodies would turn up sooner or later and as grim as it might have sounded at the time, it was the truth. Ichigo mourned the sight of the lifeless bodies carried into Seireitei by the fourth division officers, not believing that he had fought beside them only a few hours before. Then they had been so full of life... but Soul Society did not worry their heads too much about it though, since Aizen's pursuits were thwarted, the casualties were regrettable but somehow necessary, as Soi Fon, second division captain, announced. Ichigo supposed that he understood but that didn't lessen the pain or make it any more bearable to know that he had failed in his promise: to make sure that everyone returned... alive.
Shortly after the meeting to congratulate their victory, it was at that time, when everyone said their humbled goodbyes that Orihime pulled him aside. Ichigo, of course had no idea what for and the thumbs up Rukia threw the human girl as she left made the curiosity within the orange haired boy grow. But just as he was about to ask the girl what this was all about, she spoke up. Her voice was a little shaky, her knees a little wobbly, but she was determined.
"Kurosaki-kun... we've been through so much..." She started softly.
Ichigo tilted his head a little. "Yeah... that was a rough battle..." He shook his head wistfully, hoping to push some of the memories away. "Everyone did their part to make it a successful one." His features softened enough so that his normal scowl disappeared. Inoue nodded.
"And to think... this was all my fault..."
Ichigo shook his head, eyes widening. Surely she couldn't still think all of this was blamed on her... just because she had willingly agreed to leave with Ulquiorra... He voiced his negative, furiously believing that the war was bound to happen, with or without Orihime's initiative. Perhaps it was even because of her that they were able to win. Orihime nodded slightly, eyes still holding a shimmer of regret despite the smile on her face.
"Hearing it come from your mouth makes it better, Kurosaki-kun." She smiled up at the orange topped boy, whose features softened in return.
Its OK, Orihime, just say it. She mentally prepared herself, heart beating a million miles a minute. Then she started to get cold feet, worrying about the 'what ifs'.
What if he doesn't feel the same about me?
What if he brushes it off as a joke?
What if he doesn't want to acknowledge me?
What if he ignores it? What if he refuses?
What if it's Kuchiki-san that he really likes?
What if I can't face him afterwards... What if... What if...?
What if he doesn't love me back?
She shook her head, courage boiling. No, she didn't want to think like that, now nothing would get in her way. She was going to pull through, she had to... Kurosaki needed her... she could feel it. She was sure she was the one, the only one that could make him whole, make him feel. Make him smile. She believed that more than anything. It was a tough bet and Kurosaki was anything but gentle, but there was something within the boy's eyes that helped her to not turn away. That helped her find the words...
"K-Kurosaki-kun... I... I'm glad that we got the chance to be together so often." That wasn't what she had wanted to say. "If it weren't for the adventures you cause, I would be stuck at home with Tatsuki-chan. N-Not that I wouldn't want to spend time with her!" She quickly saved, waving away any feelings of remorse she might have been thought to have against her best friend. This isn't going well, she moaned inside of her head. Ichigo stared at the eccentric girl humorously.
"… I-It's just that…" She faltered, scratching her forehead, and then moving her hand to tuck a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. Maybe this wasn't the best idea after all…
"Spit it out, Inoue, I haven't got all day." The representative shinigami laughed at the girl's unusual hesitant behavior, attempting to lighten the mood, even only a little. He was relieved when the fairy wielder smiled sheepishly.
"I love you, Ichigo." mouth moving without the words that exited it registering in her brain. Ichigo stilled, his eyes widening.
Orihime blushed deeply, covering her mouth with her shaky hands. She fidgeted with her hair before looking him in the eye again, to her surprise they were soft and welcoming, though slightly at a loss of what to do or say next. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out and he shut it, face glowing red. Orihime matched his blush with one of her own, unable to believe that she finally said it, surprised that he was speechless in return.
"I-I mean... um..." She scratched her arm. "I do... really... I h-have for a long time and I..." She breathed deeply. "I wanted, very much for you to know that. Um... I, don't want to be a burden on you... it's just..."
Ichigo stilled the girls rambling lips with his own; a small peck on the side of her mouth. When he lifted his head, both were blushing more than anyone thought possible. Orihime gasped slightly, pleasantly surprised.
Face beet red, Ichigo leaned towards the girl, "I'm glad you told me." He whispered before walking away.
That day had been the start of something... But Ichigo didn't know how to explain it. It wasn't magical; being around Inoue had been the same as always, though they stood closer to each other than before. Conversations with the eccentric girl still left the substitute shinigami highly confused and generally horrified. She cooked him meals, which he politely refused on account of his sensitive stomach and she quietly understood. In the end she would end up eating her own creations while he watched her savor her meal, complimenting herself on trying out new, different ingredients. Everything worked out well in the end.
But what was it about them that worked? Or made them work? What held this relationship together? What was so special about the two of them that actually allowed for their compatibility?
Why are we together? His mind thought, suddenly, one day as he watched the girl shop for fabric to work with in her sewing club.
Ichigo had no idea. The truth of the matter was, he liked Inoue, a lot. He enjoyed being her boyfriend, making her happy, seeing her smile. But there was something that was missing... something he couldn't quite figure out. Something that, at the end of the day, left him questioning on weather or not he really, honestly loved Inoue romantically.
He loved her, of course, as a friend, but was that enough? As a person who had never been in love before, he couldn't comprehend what it was suppose to feel like. His father had often told him that he and his mother knew that they were in love because of the way they felt when they were around each other. But Ichigo had not the fondest idea of what that was suppose to mean.
When he was with the girl he felt as he always had; content, happy to be around someone who cared so much for him. But was that love? Was that the way his father felt every time he looked into his mother's eyes? How was he supposed to know the feeling if and when he felt it? He was loathe to ask his father these questions because the old lout was just as likely to coo at him and make weird faces as he was to help. Needless to say, Ichigo didn't need the aggravation. And there was no one within his small group of friends that he could really talk to about the matter.
Inoue though... she often told Ichigo that she loved him. He would smile warmly at her or kiss her gently on the cheek or nose and that was that. He never gave her a definite response, but she never dwelt on it. She never questioned it. He'd never been one to truly express his feelings and say what he wanted. In her heart she knew he felt an inkling of what she did... otherwise why would they be this way now? There was no doubt in her mind that Ichigo was the one. And when she decided he would be the one she gave her virginity too... she didn't even have to think twice. She knew this was what she wanted, she knew she wanted him and he wanted her. She knew it.
She just didn't expect him to have doubts... to be so hesitant. She'd often imagined this moment, in her dreams. A girl's first time was special... one that should be saved until you are with the person you loved, or so she was taught. Perhaps this was Kurosaki's first time as well, which would make it even more perfect in her eyes. Orihime longed to wipe the doubts from the mind of the substitute shinigami and if this was the only way, then so be it. She was willing to give, as long as Kurosaki was willing to accept.
Please accept me...
He still hadn't moved from his motionless stance and Orihime worried that he may have drifted off again, until the light in his eyes brightened again and he leaned forward, pressing his lips to hers. She sighed happily, not bothering to complain when rough, calloused, but some how gentle hands buried themselves underneath her shirt to wrap around her back; in search of the clasp that unhooked her bra. She blushed when the hook was undone, the pressure restricting her chest loosened. Ichigo stared down at her, frowning face serious, but endearing.
"Inoue..." It was like a question: Do you want me to continue? His eyes were doubtful, but she misinterpreted the source of that doubt.
Orihime wouldn't dream of denying him. She nodded, opening herself to him, pulling off her own shirt and bra in the process. These three years had been some of the best of her life, save for the spring before high school she went fishing with her brother. The weather was chilly for the time of year and they didn't hook one catch, but being there with the person she loved made it all worth wile. Like now, being with Ichigo felt right, like he was the one for her, just as she'd always thought. She faintly thought of them growing old together, having children with bright hair and excited yes, with the spirit of their father but the beauty of their mother. Orihime wished for a life, unending and happy with Ichigo and hoped - hoped and prayed with all her heart - that he wanted the same. It would be very easy to bear his children, she decided forthrightly.
In the dim light she caught sight of the substitute shinigami's blush and mimicked one of her own. It was her first time being so forward. In spite of the confessions of deep love and devotion that she admonished on a regular basis. When it came to the physical aspects of their relationship, Ichigo was usually the first to initiate, though hesitantly, but he never pressured her into anything, something she was grateful for and, unsurprisingly, the trait sat very well with his character, always the gentleman... so to speak. She would remember later on a comment the Kurosaki made about her being too pure, even when she was in the company of fukutaicho Rangiku Matsumoto.
Feeling a little exposed an embarrassed; Inoue covered her breasts in modesty as the blushing shinigami leaned in for a slow, gentle, yet passionate kiss. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around the shoulders of her lover, his hips pinning her into the soft cushioning of her brand new futon bed, which Tatsuki had animatedly suggested that she christen immediately. Of course, being the pure soul that she was, Orihime had to look up the word and its definition. Her blush wouldn't fade for two days; she often berated her short haired friend for being so vulgar. Tatsuki was a girl; she should act like one more often. After today though, she thought mischievously, she probably wouldn't be able to look at the piece of furniture without a giggle bubbling to her lips.
A bout of dizziness distracted the young girl from her thoughts, when the male above her deepened the kiss, pushing her further into the mattress. She was afraid, but she also loved Ichigo, in doing this, she would prove it. She said the word - almost too often - now was the time to show it. After all, this was what the boy wanted, in order to take that next step, advance in the seriousness of their relationship, this is what couples did. This was what she needed to do, Orihime thought. Maybe then he would look at her differently, the way Renji looked at Rukia, or - dare she say - Ichimaru looked at Rangiku for the last time. That's all she wanted, to be beautiful in his eyes.
"Kuro- Ichigo-kun, I love you." She whispered as his gentle lips left her mouth and traveled down the side of her slender neck, dusting it with feather light kisses. He looked up into her lidded eyes slightly, a soft, curious smile on his lips.
"I know..." He replied in a low breath, kissing her cheek and resuming his actions. Orihime sighed, nibbling her lower lip.
It was alright, he did not have to say it, she thought. She would give him her all, offer her entire being to him, to the man that she loved, and prayed that he would do the same. He would show her, she would see... with her own eyes - rather than hear it with her ears, because words could be so empty sometimes - she would see how much he wanted her, how much he cared. How deep his love went...
Orihime woke to an empty bed. She reached out and felt the coldness of the sheets, at first she was confused, but further inspection of the clock told her that it was 9:43 am and even though both of them were in university, Ichigo still lived with his family. They would probably be worried about him, she reasoned. Besides, another thought occurred to the girl, he had a class some time around ten; she wouldn't want him to be late.
Plopping back down onto her bed she pulled his pillow close to her face and breathed in his scent. She couldn't describe it any farther than just being Ichigo. She smiled and buried her face deeper within the soft material. He was so close, but so far away, she wanted to kiss him, to wrap her arms around him and hold him close. Kurosaki meant so much to her, after all...
She loved him.
And last night they had consummated that fact by making love. It wasn't how she imagined, nothing at all like the movies Tatsuki forced her to watch and learn from. But it was sweet and very gentle, Kurosaki took his time and she was grateful to have shared such a wonderful moment with him... He showed her, and she was happy - although she had been terribly afraid as well. She couldn't really put a finger on her concerns, it was a feeling, that wouldn't go away, but she pushed it off, ever the optimistic. She didn't have anymore doubts, thankfully - from what she could see - neither did Kurosaki.
With her head still on cloud nine, Orihime dropped the pillow reluctantly and pulled the sheets around her nude form and shuffled to the bathroom. She was a little sore in places she'd rather not speak of, but a quick shower would do her well. If only she could have woken up beside him...
The young woman hopped out of the shower as soon as she was clean and shuffled through her drawers for a pair of underwear, until she caught sight of her calendar. It was Sunday. There were no classes on Sunday. Another wave of confusion hit Inoue before she shrugged.
"It's not like he left because he was ashamed, or something." Even as she said those words, something didn't feel right in her gut. She shoved at the obstinate feeling, nudging it against the farthest corner of her brain. She would not allow a fleeting suspicion to ruin her mood. Slipping into her underwear, Orihime stood to towel dry her hair, face in serious contemplation. Suddenly a brilliant smile broke through her pretty features.
"I'll just call him later, then I'll know everything's ok!" She said enthusiastically, throwing the damp towel to the floor and searching her desk for a pen, she withdrew one and doodled hearts around the day before. When she was done she leaned back and admired her work, heaving a deep sigh and the padded off into the kitchen to make herself a light breakfast. "I'm just being a worry wort; we shared something special last night. There's no way anything could go wrong now." Always the optimist, she resided on this thought and held it close, for fear of breaking her resolve.
Kyo - Ok, ok, now before you complain, this *will* be an GrimmIchi, it's just the setup is going to take a lot longer. This time I really am going to take my time with this fic. That means no unnecessarily early updates... sorry. :( But in order to complete this fic at it's full potential, I need to take my time. You've all probably heard this before, but I'm trying something new here... the direction this fiction goes will take a - pleasant - turn. So please, be patient and I do intend to update regularly, just at my own pace. Look out for the next chapter!
Chapter 2: Un Conocido Viejo
Wherein a hero questions his doubts.
A woman suffers.
And an old acquaintance is restored.