Title: Fools Rush In

Rating: T

Warnings: Extreme angst. Emo Ichigo.

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach

Authorial Notice:

As promised, the sibling piece to 'Where Angels Fear to Tread', which I'm thinking about shortening to just 'Angels Fear to Tread'. Possibly. Just so you know.

Anyways, I had originally planned these to be smutty one-shots, but this one didn't want to cooperate. So, well, that's where we are. But… for future reference, some of these will be extremely graphic in nature, so be prepared.

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…For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

-Alexander Pope

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Stupid… stupid.

She had known it was, she really had, but Orihime rarely thought things through. Just dove in headfirst, letting her emotions lead. And things mostly turned out alright. Usually. She had a feeling this wasn't going to be one of those times.

Why had she followed him?

Of course, Kurosaki-kun could take care of himself. He always had. Nevertheless, when she had felt him fighting, logic flew out the door, and so had she, only pausing long enough to pull on her slippers and lock up behind her. But now that she found him…

It wasn't him.

Orihime shivered, frozen just outside of the protective halo cast by the streetlamp. He was just as motionless, watching her. She knew he was, because she could see the gleam of light reflecting back at her from his eyes. Like a cat. The thought flitted through her mind before settling back into the recesses of her brain. Her feet trembled with the urge to run.

She was being hunted. Her body knew it, even if her head was still coming to the realization, and he knew it. Every tense line of his form was that of a predator, waiting, stalking. She knew that any second, he was going to move very fast.

His head tilted slightly as she took a step back, the sole of her shoe scraping against asphalt as loud as a gunshot echoing off the surrounding walls. Then he smiled, and a sharp jolt of fear shot up her spine and through her chest, painfully lancing her heart as she continued to back away, waiting for the rustle of cloth and the imminent strike.

When he did move, it was nothing she could have expected. He moved like liquid grace, like time. He moved with a lethal edge to his movements that frightened her more than anything.

She registered the hand around her throat a second after she felt the air forced from her lungs, her back making painful contact with the wall. Her hands came up on their own, instinctively trying to loosen his hold.

"I know you." His voice was like the ocean, deep and dark, and she was drowning in it. Prickles of unease tickled the hairs on her arms.

"You're not…"

He was close now, so close his hair was brushing the side of her face, his body pressed up against hers. The thumb at her throat moved to press against her lifeline, stroking it. She was sure he could feel the fluttering of her pulse and she closed her eyes.

"Wrong." His voice was light, almost playful.

Her eyes shot open to meet his and she shook her head as much as his hold allowed. He was lying. Kurosaki-kun would never do anything like this.

"I'm just the part he hides." He considered the emotion playing over her face, still dragging his thumb over the silken cords of her neck. "But that won't last forever."

"You're the…" She bit her lip, not sure what would upset him and not wanting to find out on accident.

But his lips curved into a smile, eyes narrowing. "I'm the what?"

"H-hollow."

Her answer seemed to please him, because his hand released her throat, moving instead to trail through long strands of auburn hair.

"And you're her."

He said it so certainly that Orihime didn't know what to make of it.

"He hides you, too." His eyes flicked back to the tangled strands winding around his fingers. "Thinks that if he keeps you far enough away… I won't find out."

Orihime frowned at his cryptic reply. "What do you mean? Find out what?"

He leaned forward until his lips brushed her ear.

"That he wants you."

A hand trailed up her arm, then to her shoulder before sliding back down again, threatening to steal all coherent thought. Orihime felt her eyes widen, but she was already shaking her head.

"He doesn't."

He smiled against her temple and she realized his arms had snaked around her waist. "You need proof? I've seen his dreams. All those filthy thoughts he shoves down, pushes to back of his soul, but that's where I am. He wants you so bad, even I burn with it."

As if to prove his point, he pressed closer to her and she gasped, feeling exactly what he meant. Heat shot down her spine spreading through her limbs and making her tremble in a way that had nothing to do with fear. One hand traced around her hip, splaying over her flat stomach and around again.

His head twisted to look over his shoulder and he bared his teeth in a soundless snarl. "Guess I don't get my fun after all…"

Orihime frowned before she grasped what he meant. In the distance, she could feel several figures surrounding them, closing in. She cried out as his nails bit into her flesh and raked four crimson welts across her side. Taking advantage of her distraction, he kissed her. It was a hard kiss and when it was over she could still feel it, as if she had been branded.

Then he released her, stumbling back.

"What the… Inoue?" Startled brown eyes met hers. He took a step back. "What—"

She cut him off, having the distinct impression that he was about to bolt. "T-that… that was…"

She panicked as he took another step.

"Thank you!"

"What?"

Orihime nodded forcefully, willing him to believe her.

"Y-yeah, you saved me from that hollow… so, uh, thanks!"

She was just wondering if it would be more convincing if she tried to kiss him again, when Renji lept down from the building above.

"Where's the hollow? I got a report on a class five." He spun a circle, sword already drawn and released. "Where is it?"

Ichigo frowned then glanced at her before turning away again, his brow drawing tight.

Renji glanced between them. "Well?"

Orihime tried to find a smile and failed. "It's gone."

She watched Ichigo's back, feeling anxiety spark in the pit of her stomach.

"What do you mean gone?" He glared Ichigo's direction. "You idiot, I got a limit release and everything. That comes out of my paycheck." He sealed his sword before slipping it back into its sheath with one last huff. "Guess I better tell the others… you need someone to take you home, Inoue—"

"I'll take her."

Renji looked him over before nodding. "Whatever."

Orihime watched him go, still feeling uneasy. She turned back to Ichigo and jumped when he was closer than she expected. He was looking at her with eyes she couldn't read.

"Let's go, Inoue."

She walked beside him, feeling guilty, even though she wasn't quite sure why.

The strained silence lasted until they reached her apartment and marched to the top of the stairs.

"That hollow I killed wasn't anywhere near class five."

Orihime swallowed, watching her feet and fiddling with her house keys. "I know."

"I should get home." He shoved his hands into his pockets before pulling them out again. "Inoue?"

"Yes?"

The soft brush of lips against hers was the only warning before he had her. One palm slid around her back to draw her closer as his mouth moved against hers, pressing kiss after kiss. Slow at first, then growing more heated until every stroke was burning and relentless.

When he finally pulled away, they were both panting and Orihime's legs shook with the effort to stand.

He took her keys and unlocked the door. "Good night."

She blinked up at him before stumbling back over the doorframe, nodding. They watched each other mutely for a few seconds before he turned, making his way down the stairs and out of sight.

"Good night, Kurosaki-kun…"

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Fin.

How do we feel about the hollow? Was he too soft here?

I can never tell, like I said, he did not want to cooperate with this story, at all.