Authors Notes: While writing Timeless, I discovered that I really liked the dynamic between my Orihime and Uryu, and I wanted to discover what they'd be like in an alternate setting, so here it is. It's short, angsty and somewhat bittersweet. Hopefully, you'll like the interplay between them though. Thank you for reading Unforeseen!

Disclaimer: Bleach and all characters pertaining to it are the property of Tite Kubo.


Unforeseen

~Orihime~

It's been almost four years to the day...four years of sorrow...of heartbreak...of endless solitude. It doesn't matter how many have told me there was nothing I could do, I still feel responsible. I should have gotten there faster...I should have been there to help them! Now they're lost to me forever, and it's all my...

'Orihime...' Uryû's sitting beside me on the park bench I've been embroiled in inner turmoil on. Odd, I never noticed his approach. I wipe the tears from my eyes and try to calm my heart.

'Uryû, how are you?' The smile on my face is strained. Uryû knows it as well; he's always been able to tell my thoughts.

'You were reliving...that day again, weren't you?' I nod almost imperceptibly, just a swift jerk of my head. 'Why?' Huh? I look up into his eyes, concern and worry radiating from them. 'Why do you keep doing this to yourself?' I laugh harshly, brokenly, no mirth to it, just a needed release.

'Because it's all my fault that they died!' His expression is unchanged. Clearly someone has told him my secret thoughts. Perhaps Tatsuki, she might have thought he could pull me out of this slump. Trouble is, I don't want to be pulled out of anything. This is where I must remain. If I were ever to forget, it would be an insult to their memory.

'How do you reckon that?' Wha-? What does he think he is? Some sort of Quincy psychiatrist? I just need to be left alone with my thoughts, even if they make me want to rip my heart from my chest. What is a heart? All it does is break miserably into tiny fragments at the drop of a hat. Such a thing is unnecessary.

'I should have been there, fighting with them. If I had, maybe things would have gone differently. Maybe they'd still be alive.' His head drops for a moment, but not before a pained expression crossed his face. They were his friends too.

'Even if you'd have been there, there wouldn't have been enough time to bring them back. You know how long it took for the backup Shinigami to arrive.' Yes, I know all too well. 20 minutes! 20 gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, soul-crushing minutes as my friends were trampled underfoot and blasted by Cero until there was nothing left. Nothing I could use to bring them back.

God, I can still remember the funerals. One held here in the World of the Living, the other in the Soul Society. How one distraught family had fallen apart, how the father is now under constant supervision for fear of him taking his own life, and possibly those of his daughters; while the other was a more subdued experience, where the seemingly heartless elder brother shed no tears, no emotions, no nothing. It was as though he had died inside, or hardened his heart to be stronger than diamond, so no cracks would appear in his exterior. During both, I sat there in silence, not allowing myself to disgrace either occasion by showing weakness. They gave everything they had, right till the very end while I...I was always useless. I would finally not be a burden to them, not that they'd know. From that moment on, I kept my emotions locked inside as best I could. My feelings are mine to bear, I won't force my anguish onto others. 'Maybes and what ifs won't bring them back Orihime.' My face flushes with anger.

'How can you sit there and be so calm?' I explode. So much for not letting my emotions show. 'Why don't you blame me? Why don't you HATE ME!' I'm screaming, getting weird looks from passersby, but they mean nothing to me. All that matters is this calm face staring steadily into my eyes making me feel anger and wretchedness. A shocked expression crosses his face as he moves closer to me.

'Why would I hate you?' His voice is deathly quiet. 'How could I hate you? It isn't your fault for what happened. For the last four years you've been living this personal hell.' I look into those gentle, midnight blue eyes seeing nothing but compassion and kindness. 'I...I've hated seeing you this way. I've tried every way to help you without bringing it up directly.' Now that he mentions it, he has asked a lot of roundabout questions, but I always dismissed them as fanciful. I had far greater things on my mind. 'Now I can see this is the only way I can help you. You're my friend Orihime, and now...with them gone...' He has to stifle a sob of his own; this isn't easy for him to talk about either. 'With them gone, you, Chad and I, we're all that's left. We are the last of the infamous Ryoka, the last of a group of friends whose lives are so inextricably interwoven we all share one beating heart.'

'What if that heart's shattered?' I whisper, betraying my loneliness. GASP! Uryû's hands snake around my back and pull me into an embrace. He leans his head on my shoulder and whispers into my ear.

'That heart will never break, not as long as I'm here.' His hold is...comforting, his body warm to my touch as I hold him back, letting down my defence for the moment. Truly, he is one of my greatest friends, someone who always has my best interests at heart. I snuggle into his shoulder and sigh deeply.

'Thank you...Uryû.'