Hey, ya'll. This is per request from nypsy—basically, the complete opposite of "Just Pretend", lol. I hope you guys like it. And nypsy: I'm sorry I posted this a bit later than I said I would. (sigh) It's not an excuse, but this past week has been one snowstorm after another; didn't have as much free time as I thought I would, between (the limited amount we had) school, and trying to unbury my front door, lol. I hope this is what you were asking for!
When she was younger, Orihime always used to think she needed glasses.
Originally, it was out of a genuine fear that she couldn't see. She went through a phase back in primary school, where she'd come home each day and tug at her brother's sleeve, pleading with him about how she couldn't read the teacher's notes on the blackboard. She was eager to be a good student—if only because she'd heard the older girls gossiping in the halls, about the questionable circumstances under which Orihime and her brother had left home; heard, and decided the only way to shut them up was by creating a good reputation for herself. To be perfect.
In middle school, it had changed, and Orihime found herself wishing for glasses in order to make herself look smarter—to make people take her more seriously. Her body had started developing by then, and faster than the other girls, much to her humiliation: her chest was getting bigger, her legs were getting longer—and the boys at school were starting to stare a little harder, making Orihime squirm in her seat and keep her eyes glued to her textbook to avoid looking up. If she were smarter, or at least looked like it, people might see more than her body, might actually pay attention when she raised her hand in class to ask a question. She could teach herself to peer condescendingly over the wire frames the way she'd seen actors do it on TV, to adopt a new persona that would make people think twice about laughing at her, about boys brushing against her a little too close while they were in line. She would have tried anything at that age, to improve herself.
By high school, things were better. She could see just fine (natural clumsiness aside); she'd proven her intelligence by consistently scoring high marks on the annual exams; she'd finally grown comfortable in her own skin (and having Tatsuki as a friend meant boys were afraid to come within even ten feet of Orihime.)
Better. But not perfect.
Orihime found herself contemplating glasses again, simply because they might highlight what she was missing, the next time she glanced at herself in a mirror; to help her see what the hell she was still doing wrong. Even though she'd achieved her goals, even though by all her standards, she should've been happy, it wasn't enough. Orihime needed proof that she was finally complete—someone to tell her and show her that she was "just right."
And so, when Orihime was younger, she was in love. Desperately, embarrassingly, head-over-heels in love with Kurosaki Ichigo. Tall, broad-shouldered, his hair mussed from absently running his fingers through it during the day. His deep voice, his slight frown, the rare glimpse of his smile were enough to make Orihime catch her breath; and when he spoke to her—or even looked at her—Orihime's heart raced with a kind of thrill she'd never felt before in her life. She used to dream about his hands, big and warm, tracing the curves of her body; about his mouth pressed to hers in a gentle kiss; about waking up beside him each morning. Orihime believed Ichigo was the missing link, the last piece that might fill that small, but gapingly empty space inside her.
If Ichigo, so openly disinterested in pursuing romance in all the years she'd known him, if he could fall for her, Orihime knew she truly would be perfect.
But now: Orihime opens her eyes, squinting as the first rays of early morning light fall in slants across her bed. She left one of her windows slightly ajar the night before, and the air that drifts into her bedroom smells like spring, sweet, and damp, and new. Her room is cold, sending goosebumps racing along her bare legs and arms—she slept in only her underwear and a t-shirt the night before. Orihime takes a deep breath, and then another, filling her lungs, unable to keep from smiling as she trails her fingers over the light bruises on the side of her neck. The mattress shifts beside her, and she rolls over, the sheets knotting themselves around her body, to stare at the boy lying next to her.
Ishida's still unconscious, his dark hair tangled and his mouth hanging open a little. His strong fingers clench and unclench around the blankets, his brow slightly furrowed. His lips have bruised from when they stumbled into the bedroom the night before, their heads accidentally banging together when he kissed her. For moving so gracefully when he's fighting, Ishida's surprisingly as klutzy as she is.
Orihime watches his chest rise and fall in a steady rhythm, and despite the breeze, feels a strange, gentle feeling spreading throughout her body. It's not the rush of heat she used to feel around Ichigo, it's…different. It's cool; like summer rain, like autumn afternoons.
Ishida's glasses are on the bedside table, slightly askew from when he removed them in a hurry, and Orihime reaches across his sleeping form to pick them up. They feel unusually delicate in her hands, as she traces a finger over the narrow frames, along the bridge, before placing them on her own face.
The world blurs, and Orihime goes cross-eyed, gazing around at her now-distorted bedroom. When she was younger, she remembers, until just barely a year ago, she used to think there was something wrong with her. That being perfect meant being well-liked, and a good student; that the only way she could know for sure was by spending her nights and mornings folded in Ichigo's embrace; that by failing to achieve these things meant she was a failure, or that she simply wasn't trying hard enough.
She used to think love was simply a means of proving her own self-worth.
More movement beside her, and then a gentle pull at a lock of her hair. Ishida's propped himself up on one elbow, pale chest smooth and muscled, and even with the glasses on, Orihime can see him raising a bemused eyebrow at her.
"What are you doing?" he asks with a small laugh. Orihime pulls the glasses off and stares at him for a long moment—at her own revelation reflected in Ishida's dark gaze.
"Seeing clearly," Orihime replies softly, and leans in to kiss him.
Ta-da! Makes me so much happier, giving Ishida/Orihime the happy ending that it deserves (in my head, anyway…don't know if that actually makes any sense, lol…)
So, yeah. As always, please review. It's wonderful to hear what you guys think, and to get feedback on what could always be better. According to my betas (one of them is official, one of them just pesters me), I have slight issues when it comes to word choice? o.O? Hmph.
Thanks to wildparsnip, for being eternally patient, as well as for taking the time to read/edit, even though her life at the moment has been pretty much swallowed up by the black hole that is "Tech Week." Don't ask.