"There you go, Kurosaki-kun," the gorgeous, voluptuous young woman said as she straightened. She laced her hands behind her and leaned back to stretch out her spine, her back stiff after being hunched over her injured friend for the better part of an hour. The action unintentionally placed emphasis on her already impressive bust. After she finished her quick calisthenic, she brushed back the lock of long, auburn hair that had fallen over her shoulder.

"Thanks, Inoue," her patient responded, flexing his arms as if to test her healing, despite knowing it was perfect, even with out the bizarre 'HP' counter hovering over his head. Ichigo brought forth his Fullbring again, the black energy draping over him like a familiar cloak, a fact not lost on Orihime.

"Kurosaki-kun, that looks like your Bankai's Shihakushō," she noted with a hint of hopeful curiosity. He nodded, and then frowned thoughtfully, studying her face .

"You know, after everything that's happened, it feels kinda distant to call you Inoue," he suddenly said, sounding mildly anxious, "Would it be okay if I started calling you Orihime-san?"

"Of course," she smiled brightly, "or even just Orihime."

She left a long pause after her given name, focusing on the lack of an honorific. Then she blushed slightly and added, "Does that mean I can call you Ichigo-kun?"

"I don't mind," he turned away so she wouldn't see his cheeks redden as well. The artificial world blurred around them momentarily, and he turned to face her again.

"Orihime... san," he tried to leave the title off of her name, but failed, "I have to thank you..."

"You just did," she sounded happily confused.

"Not just for this," he gestured at his body, before taking a step closer, "I mean for everything. For everything you've had to put up with just for knowing me. You've been a huge help. I don't think we would have survived without you."

"I'm no different than Sado or Uryū," she countered softly.

"You are," he insisted, "Chad's had my back since before any of this started, and as a Quincy, this is Ishida's job. But you were just a normal girl before I became a Shinigami. And I wanted to let you know how much it means to me, that you've stuck by me... How much you mean to me..."

"I love you," she whispered, loudly enough to interrupt him, but not loud enough that he could be certain he had heard her correctly.

"Orihime-san did you just..." his prompt was cut off.

"I love Ichigo!" she shouted at him, her cheeks turning bright red. Then she looked aside shyly, and added, "I have for a very long time now. I tried to tell you before, but it never seemed to work out."

For a moment the former Shinigami looked stunned. Then he gently placed his arms around her. When she did not resist he pulled her closer. Her breasts, large but not so disturbingly huge as Rangiku's, compressed against his muscular chest. He enjoyed their soft pressure even as their faces drew steadily closer. He noted ironically that she smelled faintly of strawberries, though he could not tell if it was her lip gloss or shampoo. She lifted her head to meet him, her lustrous grey eyes half-closed. Finally their lips met, and their embrace tightened.

A blade of black energy cut through the young couple, leaving a cloud of messy pixels in its wake.

"What the hell!" Ichigo Kurosaki shouted angrily, pointing at the kissing doppelgangers even as they finished derezzing, "What the hell was that?"

"It felt like the point in the storyline for the male and female leads to finally admit their long hidden feelings," Yukio's voice echoed down from above them, "to strengthen their bond and resolve for the coming battles. And at the same time, give the fans some service, since they've probably been yelling 'just kiss her' at the screen for the last few hours of the game."

"Storyline? Game?" Ichigo roared, "Don't just go adding your own pre-rendered cut scenes to my life, you little punk."

He turned back to his friend, shaking his head, "Can you believe that gu..."

His statement was cut off as her right hand collided with his left cheek. Despite her glamorous appearance, Orihime was an athletic girl who regularly practiced karate, so she was stronger than she looked. And with her skills effectively at the black-belt level, she knew how to plant her feet and put her body weight into the slap.

Ichigo's head turned as far as his neck would allow, before her palm slid off his face. The momentum of her hit kept him moving, twisting his shoulders until he was almost facing backward. The orange-haired youth was no stranger to physical combat, which was probably the only thing that kept him on his feet. And floating above him, two of the six glowing crosses blinked and became hollow.

In the instant before his head was turned the other way, Ichigo saw Orihime's face was bright red, down her neck and out to her ears. Her bright eyes were filled with embarrassment, anger, and a hint of something else.

'Sadness?' he tried to place the emotion, 'or maybe disappointment?'

But before he could decipher what he had seen, she lashed out again.

"Kurosaki-kun no baka!" she shrieked at him, before turning and running into the shadows of the virtual world. He righted himself and stared after her in utter bewilderment.

"What did you hit me for?" he questioned, "It wasn't my idea. Orihime-san?"

She didn't stop, or even acknowlege him, so he started to run after her.

"Orihime?" he dropped the polite form of address as he chased her, "Wait up! ORIHIME?"

"Leave me alone!"

"Oblivious," Ginjo Kugo shook his head as he watched them.