A/N The much anticipated and asked for chapter 3 is finally here! *please don't maim me* I've been kept particularly busy through all sorts of… Life's curveballs. Rather than explain myself, I just want to thank you all of you readers and reviewers for your patience and encouragement.
Thank you Lady Madland for your review. While I did not mean to worsen your cold, I am happy to know that you enjoyed my portrayal of Orihime. Thank you also for favouriting me as an author. It really means a great deal to me.
Wolfchick55, your review did make a great difference even though I couldn't update for a long time. I remembered you when I was typing this chapter.
MadMissMissy, thanks so much for reviewing so many (I think you reviewed nearly all or all my stories?!) This chapter partly happened thanks to you and your reviews.
Kat(guest), thanks for urging me to force myself to update. (Did you miss my writing that much? :)
Shippoliver, thank you so much for your faithful reviews on my stories, including the non-ByaHime ones. *sends you a hug*
Also, to everyone else following She's No Traitor, a very very big thank you to all of you, complete with a Byakuya and Toushirou plushie :D
Without further ado, this is, my mentally-dubbed flower power, girl POV chapter.
She's no traitor
Kurosutchi Nemu – To fascinate is to fear and to delight
She wasn't supposed to feel like this.
Fear. Confusion. Was this ache within her chest – an aching which never stops – possibly… regret? Sadness?
She wasn't supposed to feel these alien … emotions. Mayuri-sama had never programmed her to feel these stirrings. Heat. Radioactive particles and poisons, yes. But not feelings. Mayuri-sama had said there was no use for feelings, no use for her to have feelings. And Nemu had always accepted this as easily as she accepted being slapped and whacked about by her 'father'.
How could she not? Mayuri-sama was her creator, is her father, her world.
What he deemed necessary, she wholeheartedly deemed necessary. What he considered important, she considered important. That was how it worked, and Nemu was fine with that. Honestly.
She never understood why others looked at her oddly when she stood motionless and accepting of Mayuri-sama's abuses and insults, accepting all his criticisms of her faults without batting an eye. Granted, she was aware that other captains within the Gotei 13 did not operate like Mayuri-sama. Ukitake-taichou certainly did not. The sickly white-haired captain had never, for as long as Nemu could remember since her 'birth', raised a hand against his subordinates. Even Zaraki-taichou who always hacked, sliced and cut apart his underlings had never truly insulted Yachiru-fukutaichou despite the occasional callous words, which the president of the Seireitei's Shinigami Women's Association did not mind.
Ken-chan is just like that. The tiny pink energy ball would chirp before sinking her teeth into another pile of sweets, surprisingly the courtesy of Kuchiki-taichou.
Sometimes some brave soul would ask her why she would put up with Mayuri-sama's behavior. She would reply back why not? Nobody understood the precarious, fragile relationship between her and her father. She can't say that she loves him what an odd word, love, but she would unquestioningly do anything for her father, her Creator, her world.
Another person had once expressed horror at Mayuri-sama's treatment of her. Nemu's eyes took on a more prominent glaze as she fiddled about with test tubes, absentmindedly instinctively noting the different temperatures of the various beakers on the lab table in the Twelfth Division.
The Quincy boy. His name is Ishida Uryuu.
Nemu pushed aside the observation that her cheeks were seven degrees warmer than usual. The air in the lab is simply warm. That was all there was to it. Nothing more, nothing less.
He had so loudly questioned the Twelfth Division's head scientist's behavior in slapping and kicking his own daughter when she was injured. She remembers his look of outrage so well for some reason. No one had defended her so vocally or shown that they cared in the same way. Not even Yachiru-fukutaichou, despite the latter naming her vice-president of the SWA and praising Nemu's assistance.
Nemu stopped stirring a beaker. She noted belatedly that her hands were trembling. Actually there was another person. Ishida Uryuu may have been the first to show a degree of care and sympathy that she had never experienced from anyone, but one other person had shown Nemu an inordinate amount of kindness and friendship for no gain or reason.
Nemu couldn't understand why her hands couldn't stop shaking.
Why couldn't her hands stop shaking?
Nemu carefully set down one of the flasks so as to not risk dropping it. That would only warrant her another beating from Mayuri-sama, and she knew better than to behave like a novice unseated Shinigami, like she didn't know better. Then uncharacteristically, she stared off into space, watching a scene that she had carefully filed away in her memory storage play again on the backs of her eyelids.
It was during the month that the ryoka girl was training with Kuchiki Rukia…
She had been observing Bururu-chan as Yachiru-fukutaichou has dubbed her on Mayuri-sama's excited whispers and harsh orders. The human girl had never noticed Nemu observing her in the foliage and shadows of the trees near the Thirteenth Division's training grounds. Neither did she know of Nemu's grudging respect for her progress in her offensive and defensive powers during those four weeks nor of Nemu's slight jealousy that Mayuri-sama was devoting so much time and actually being excited over Orihime as his new experiment. During her breaks or when the younger Kuchiki had to temporarily leave to run minor errands for Ukitake-taichou, the female human would be dragged around by Yachiru and occasionally sit in on one of their SWA sessions.
One day, Yachiru had taken both the human girl and Nemu to one of her outskirt play spots on the fringe of the Seireitei. Somehow or other, in an effort to make sure Yachiru didn't hurt herself frolicking about near the riverbank, Nemu had twisted her ankle. The sickening snapping sound had resounded loudly in that mossy area.
"Nemu-san! Nemu-san! Are you alright?!" Nemu found herself caught in Orihime's arms with the latter looking at her in concern.
"I will be fine," she automatically responded. Nemu found herself speechless when Orihime gently cradled her ankle.
"Is it this foot, Nemu-san? May I heal you?" Nemu was not thinking about what a golden opportunity this would be for Mayuri-sama as she felt the warm glow of the healing shield surround her ankle. She did not know what to think when Orihime instructed Yachiru to run ahead and inform Isane Kotetsu to get the first aid kit ready because Nemu's injury was not wholly healed by Inoue's Shun Shun Rika.
What stunned Nemu the most was when the human girl kneeled with her back facing her, smiling at her to hop on. Nemu had intoned that it was unnecessary but was met back with equal stubbornness. Your ankle is not fully healed yet! Oh by the way, I'm sorry about that but it seems my healing ability hasn't reached that stage yet. You might hurt your ankle even more if you put pressure on it, Nemu-san! So Kurosutchi Nemu had found herself hesitantly putting her arms around Inoue Orihime as the other girl gently, with a surprisingly firm grip, carried her the whole distance back to the Fourth Division.
At the entrance back into the centre of Seireitei, Nemu had stiffened. Immediately, Orihime had asked her what's wrong? Answering in the negative, Nemu felt vulnerable when the other girl carefully gazed at her, straight in the eye. Is there another way to the Fourth Squad, Nemu-san? This led Nemu to question herself how a complete stranger could read her subtle discomfort so easily when those in the Seireitei who knew her decades longer did not.
She had tried to convince the human to let her walk…in vain.
"Mayuri-sama can fix me when I get back."
"Is that before or after he… gets upset?" had been the uncharacteristically sharp response. Nemu was wide-eyed for once at the protective warmth she sensed in Orihime's reiatsu.
"I understand that you greatly respect Kurosutchi-taichou, Nemu-san, but … are you…happy in the Twelfth Division?" That had been the greatest shock and prediction which Nemu did not foresee. It was the first time that anyone had asked her if she was happy. No one had ever deemed it important to ask what she wants.
And for the time, Nemu found herself wondering, questioning different variables and 'what if's.
"Yes, I am." That had been her answer, although Nemu was not certain if that was the truth. Even now, she does not know. She remembers Inoue-san's final glance before she saw – what was it? – acceptance.
"Good. I'm happy then if Nemu-san is okay with it."
Inoue-san had afterwards carried her to the Fourth Squad via a longer route, generally chatting about random topics and occasionally engaging Nemu in answering or simply humming a tune which Nemu did not recognize. During those ten minutes, Nemu forgot about Mayuri-sama's orders to utilize every opportunity to take blood and hair samples. She had considered the chance as she gazed at the girl's slender neck. Nemu was extremely skilled with a syringe. The prick could be passed off for a mosquito bite. But Nemu did not move her hands, feeling an uncertain mood grasp her then. She was just … content to allow herself this one moment when someone else took notice and took care of her.
It was that memory which caused Nemu to feel nauseous and fidgety when she accompanied Mayuri-sama to the Barbican of Atonement to collect Inoue-san's hairpins.
Why can't her hands stop shaking?
She had lingered behind in the shadows of the doorway when Mayuri-sama confronted Inoue-san. She did not dare step into the prison room. She did not want to see Inoue-san's possible reaction – would she be disgusted, angry, hurt? Nemu did not know why but she could not bear the thought that Inoue-san would look at her with the same look that others in the Seireitei generally gave her – disgust, awkwardness, incomprehension. Is this what fear feels like?
Nemu's hands had trembled when she was exposed to the human girl's emotions during the memory sift. No one had noticed because she was clenching one of the levers so tightly that her hands became white from all the tension. How can one person have so much pent up emotion within them? How can one person feel so much? No one detected her trembling or the clammy sweat on the back of her neck when it was proposed that Inoue-san be drained of her powers.
Nemu simply does not want to do that. She does not want to put any machinery on the other girl at all because at the end of the memory-delving interrogation, Inoue Orihime had reminded Nemu of someone as she stood resigned, exhausted, and tired.
Like me. She looked like me.
And that was not right in Nemu's eyes. She does not know why she feels so strongly against that image, but she only knows that it is not right. The whole process and this incessant debate about whether or not to terminate Inoue-san simply are not right.
Nemu came to the realization that she does not want to see the other girl hurt.
She doesn't know why she feels this way.
And she doesn't want to know why.
Unohana Retsu – Cradling Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand
Unohana Retsu is angry.
This fact in itself is enough cause for concern considering the mild-tempered Fourth Division's Captain outstanding patience.
Unohana Retsu is angry and frowning.
Hell has just arrived and is waiting for the slightest provocation to release itself in all its manta-ray stinging glory.
This would explain why the Fourth Division, despite being busier than ever in the aftermath of Aizen's demise, was much quieter than usual, carrying via each seated and unseated Shinigami a heavy atmosphere of unease, tension and strain.
When will the rubber band, stretched to its extremities, break?
She had explicitly warned the Soutaichou and by extension Kurosutchi Mayuri, the Soul King damn his unethical soul!, to stay away from Inoue Orihime and causing her undue distress. The latter thus proceeds to accost, mock and forcibly take away Inoue-san's hairpins in the Barbican of Atonement. Unohana Retsu had never so strongly disliked her self-proclaimed Rival more than during this trying transition period between war and peace.
Because in truth, she was frightened… for Inoue Orihime, and not simply in terms of the legal deliberation of the young girl's innocence. As a healer first and foremost, Unohana Retsu fears for the mental health of her patient. Post-traumatic stress disorder is extremely probable in the present case. The fact that Orihime had not gone into shell shock was surprising in itself given her treatment at Hueco Mundo, witnessing Kurosaki Ichigo's transformation into a Vasto Lorde, and the amount of reiatsu she had used in the Final Battle to revive and heal the Shinigami, and ultimately to break the Hogyouku.
But most frightening of all is the beginning symptoms the young mortal girl is exhibiting of mental and emotional collapse.
The fourth division Captain has been around in the Seireitei for nearly as long as the Soutaichou, and the various wounds she had seen accumulated from all these years are not to be trifled with. Physical wounds are dreadful, no question, but it is mental wounds and mental scarring which prove even more painful in identifying, diagnosing, and treating. Shinigami are soldiers. They are trained during the Academy to be soldiers. As such, they are expected to behave as soldiers. Fight first, personal repercussions later. Inoue Orihime is no different. In trying to outwit Aizen, she had used all the resources she had available to her to defeat him. During that month in Hueco Mundo, she had been forever living in the moment – plotting, planning, counteracting, suffered torture.
But now, now that she no longer needs to work against a force, now that she no longer has any control and must relinquish her entire wellbeing into the hands of a ghost court, the mental strain which she had been placed under are finally catching up and showing themselves.
The screaming in the Barbican of Atonement and attempted suicide…
Thank the Kami that Hitsugaya Toushirou had prevented that –
The nightmares, the sleepwalking…
Unohana Retsu remembers Kuchiki Byakuya's somber visage as he whispered of Orihime's insomnia and near-fatal encounter from tumbling into his koi pond from nocturnal sleepwalking -
And the Healing Division's Captain remembers painfully clearly how she firsthand encountered Orihime's manifesting symptoms. It had been after the mind-sift interogation which the young girl had allowed herself to be subjected to…
"Unohana-taichou, please don't feed me. I'm not hungry! I'm not hungry!" Orihime had whimpered when the captain had shown the young girl the drip and the intravenous fluids which she wanted the dehydrated and malnourished girl to consume. Although Kurosutchi's machinery had shown the young girl being fed three meals a day, Orihime had instead lost weight – drastically.
When Unohana had peeled back the sleeves of Orihime's white Espada uniform, she couldn't prevent a sharp intake of breath. The soft skin between the forearm and shoulder had been peppered with scars of needle points, clear marks of force-feeding via IV drips. Ulquiorra Schiffer had acted true to his warning if his charge did not eat willingly…
Unohana shuffled the files in her hands absently into a manila folder. She had no need to see the images in her hands. They have been seared into memory already.
Photos of scarred legs and back, needle injuries, bruises on a beautiful pale face, a swollen eye, and X-ray scans of broken teeth and a broken rib – no, Unohana Retsu had no need to review her files. Not even a fool would forget those horrible images after a first glance…
And these photos will be shown at this second meeting of Captains and Vice-captains to deliberate on Inoue Orihime's innocence. Unohana can already imagine the plunge in temperature from Hitsugaya's anger, and the rise in suppressed reiatsu of Kuchiki Byakuya…
Ah yes, Kuchiki Byakuya … and Inoue Orihime…
Who would have guessed?
Unohana Retsu has never been the prying type. She doesn't have to be when her deductions in sizing-up the characters of her fellow Shinigami captains tend to be always accurate. However, she would never have guessed the affinity and affection the Sixth Division Captain would harbour for the former female ryoka.
Kuchiki Byakuya had always been a lonely soul, dignified and stoic – arrogant, his critics would describe him as, if they did not understand him and his pride and his burden in carrying the Kuchiki clan's name. He had been passionate in his youth, easy to anger as Shihoun Yoruichi had regaled past Shinigami Captains with tales with before she was exiled. The deaths of his parents was the first loss to the ardour of his passions. Kuchiki Ginrei's blessing of the young vice-captain then as the Kuchiki clan's leader and the elder's subsequent death was the second nail in the proverbial coffin. There had been a brief revival of the young Byakuya when he fell in love and married Hisana of the Rukongai. Those brief five years were the happiest Unohana Retsu had ever seen in the newly appointed Captain. The death of Hisana and their unborn child cemented the image of the cold, distant noble. Unohana always suspected that Kuchiki Rukia's startling resemblance to Hisana had been a point of subconscious resentment, hurt and pain for the Kuchiki head. That much had been proven and finally laid to rest after Kurosaki Ichigo (and Aizen) had fought the aristocrat.
But Unohana had seen the loss and subtle uncertainty that Kuchiki Byakuya had sought to fiercely hide following his recuperation. The noble, for all his 500 years, is stilled considered fairly young by Soul Society standards. An end to his previously held assumptions and certainties had caused an axis to be tilted, raised old scars with no means to heal them.
And then entered Inoue Orihime, who had returned with Rukia to train for a month in the Seireitei.
Denial aside, the Kuchiki leader had centred in on the human girl as the salve to his wounds, the much-needed reconciliation between past and present. Those four weeks had wrought changes of the miraculous kind that no soul would have ever fathomed. The rumours in servant and noble circles had abounded about how Kuchiki Byakuya was heard laughing in the manor, how the sound of two flutes whose melodies were intertwined as intimately as two lovers were heard in the Kuchiki compound, etc., etc.
Though no certain fact was ever established by the gossip mill, Unohana did believe that without smoke, there is no fire. Contrary to all other speculations, she had concrete proof that Kuchiki Byakuya does care for Inoue Orihime.
During the month-long training which the human girl undertook in the Seireitei, there had been a day when Kuchiki Rukia had not been available to spar with due to her shinigami duties. Orihime had gone to the Fourth Division to help and learn healing kido, as she was wont to do whenever she had free time. That day, she had gone with Isane Kotetsu and a small team of Fourth Division healers to the 78th district of the Rukongai to cure the sick. Unohana Retsu was aware that Orihime had come in contact with an infant who died from scarlet fever, but both she and the young girl decided that some medication would prevent any subsequent illness. When Kuchiki Byakuya shunpoed into the Fourth carrying an unconscious Orihime, Unohana had been shocked.
The greater surprise had been Kuchiki Byakuya's anger.
Isane Kotetsu had nearly been reduced to tears at the Kuchiki leader's angry barrage of questions and retorts, and Unohana herself had felt the simmering of wrath that Byakuya had held towards her. Disrespect towards a captain had been heard of, but certainly not from the Sixth Division's leader who had to be sharply reminded from Unohana that bed rest would cure Inoue Orihime from her fever. Kuchiki Hisana's death had been expected; thus, anger had been lacking, overtaken by sorrow. But Orihime's exclamations of never being ill since little had been overturned by her unexpected collapse in the middle of her walk back to the Kuchiki manor.
Unohana had taken little offense at Byakuya's outburst and readily accepted his apology. The lingering astonishment was Byakuya's devotion to sit by Orihime's bedside in his spare moments during four tense days of high thermometer readings. The Kuchiki noble could be callous, could try to hide his entrances and exits from the Fourth, but Unohana could easily identify the beginnings of Byakuya's –
"Taichou, the meeting will begin in five minutes." Unohana Retsu started from her reverie by Isane's voice.
"Thank you Isane. I'll be on my way." Sweeping the last of her files into the manila folder, the Fourth's Captain made her way to the meeting.
Unohana Retsu has many reasons to support Inoue Orihime. Not only is she convinced of the latter's innocence, her expertise as a healer urges her to demand the end of Inoue's detainment and incarceration in the Barbican of Atonement before irreparable mental harm is done.
But most importantly, her last reason to protect the human girl … another Captain's happiness is at stake.
Hinamori Momo – The flap of a butterfly's wings causes a hurricane elsewhere
She remembered her.
That is what Hinamori Momo kept repeating to herself as she took an unused stone path to an unused building on the fringes of the Seireitei. Spotting the familiar oak doors, she pushed them open as she entered the candle-lit temple.
Inhaling the incense, Momo felt the soothing calm of her surroundings smooth her frayed nerves as it always does. As a kido expert, she suspected that much of the calming effect was to do with the lingering traces of Orihime-san's reiatsu as much as the thick rosewood walls which blocked the sounds of the intrusive outdoors and the gentle wiff of incense.
The mind sift interrogation from which she had ran as soon as the meeting was finished was terrible, horrible. It had revealed to her what all the other captains and vice-captains had known for a very long time – the truth of what Aizen-taichou no, not Aizen-taichou, you cannot call him Aizen-taichou anymore! was capable of.
Hinamori Momo had adored her Captain, perhaps a little excessively so if Shiro-chan's grumblings and irritated eyebrow twitchings were any indication. But truly, how could she have known? How could she have guessed that her mild-mannered Captain who had been so gentle and forever patient in guiding her when she first became vice-captain was conspiring for years before she entered the Academy to overthrow the Seireitei? To commit murder and use any other heinous means to 'become God' and "sit on the throne in Heaven"?
The man who had so easily thrust Kyouka Suigetsu through her fragile body when she broke out from prison to see him, who had smiled while doing so, could not have been Aizen-taichou! It simply can't be! Her heart had rebelled against the concrete proofs her mind had supplied her with. She had pled with Shiro-chan to save Aizen-taichou when she briefly awoke from her coma, had made excuses for the man she so admired and perhaps had her first crush on – "It was Ichimaru-taichou who forced Aizen-taichou to do those horrible things! Please save him, Shiro-chan! Please save Aizen-taichou!"
She had been so gullible, so naïve, the perfect candidate to play the fool!
Momo had never been ashamed before to be identified as Aizen Sousuke's fukutaichou. Even in those confusing days when she awoke from her coma and shinigamis had whispered behind their hands, behind their back, behind their pointed glances and clumsily hidden pointing fingers That's Hinamori-fukutaichou, the girl who had been played by Aizen! Poor thing! She still can't accept it… Do you think she is on his side? Will she betray us, do you think? she had never been ashamed to have been associated with her captain's name. Until now, until the magnitude of Orihime-san's confession and memories had revealed what she had forced herself to be blind to even during the Final Battle, Momo had not been accepting of the fact that Aizen had been a traitor.
Kneeling before the wall carvings dedicated to Amaterasu the sun goddess before placing her joss sticks into the cups of ashes of previous incense, Hinamori brought her palms together in the motion of praying but her mind was in turmoil as she gazed at the goddess. Her mind is still replaying Orihime-san's screams as the mad scientist, pink-haired Espada had drilled electricity into the human girl's mind and body, and in the background, from Orihime-san's position lying on her back, Momo had seen her Captain her captain who had punished the male subordinates harassing and questioning her competence as fukutaichou minus the glasses, smile beatifically at Orihime-san's torture.
Orihime-san had been screaming from physical agony but not fear. Orihime-san had been fully prepared for punishment, had calculated her miniscule 15% probability of success in sending a message to Soul Society regarding Aizen's plans to use Karakura Town to make the King's Key, but Momo, in watching all of Orihime-san's memories, who had been in no physical danger, had been terrified. In being confronted with the true atrocities her former Captain is capable of, there was simply no way that her rose-tinted lenses could survive. The power that Aizen Sousuke had acknowledged within Orihime's fragile human body, the same power which had brought back Grimmjow Jaegerjacques' arm, had rejected Hinamori Momo's delusions and desperately held excuses.
While Orihime-san should have been the one crying, who had the right to cry from reliving her month-long horrors again through the mind sift, it was Hinamori Momo who was crying, whimpering at the end on the floor with her arms wrapped around herself, rocking back and forth. She had been such a fool! And shame flooded Momo before she took off from the joint meeting as though Hell hounds were chasing her.
And during Orihime-san's month in the Seireitei, Momo had once had the audacity to yell at Orihime for "being just like the others in blaming Aizen-taichou!" The young vice-captain pressed the knuckles of her hands into her eyes in a desperate attempt to stem her tears as that conversation drifted back into her mind.
Momo was still in a coma when Inoue Orihime came to train the Seireitei. Not having the strength to move was fine with her since she had no inclination to move or confront the fact that Aizen-taichou had betrayed Soul Society and left her. So the comatosed vice-captain was very surprised to feel a new reiatsu, one she wasn't familiar with, enter her hospital room and began making conversation with her.
"Hello Hinamori-san, my name is Inoue Orihime. I don't think we've met before even when Kurosaki-kun came to Soul Society to save Kuchiki-san. … I wasn't aware that this is your room, gomen. I'm so clumsy. Sometimes, I think the little green men just invade my brain and tell me to try out new directions…"
That was their first meeting and the first of many one-sided conversations that she would have with the former ryoka, who came back to tell her stories about her training with Kuchiki Rukia, about the Human World where humans used trains and flying contraptions called airplanes because they do not have shunpo or gateways into different worlds, about how much Toushirou-kun missed Hinamori-san and is fighting hard in the human world because he believes he has failed her. But all their one-sided conversations never mentioned or touched upon Aizen-taichou.
In turn for the human girl's consideration, Momo eagerly waited for her return, for her stories. She never realized that Shiro-chan harboured a crush on her as Orihime-san appeared to be hinting at. She learned about other new things during her sleep.
However, one day, Orihime-san came in and started speaking about her brother, her Sora-nii-chan whom she admired and loved with all her heart since there was only the two of them after they fled from their abusive parents.
"Because I cried for nii-chan to not leave me, he remained behind in spirit and eventually turned into a Hollow. He hurt Kurosaki-kun, my best friend Tatsuki-chan and even me. He wanted to eat my soul so he would not feel so alone. I never realized that I caused my brother to become so hurt and lonely when I showed him how happy I was so he could move on. When he became a Hollow, I did not even want to believe that it was Onii-chan.
But when he understood why, and I understood why he acted the way he did, I felt a little better. But even after for some time, even after Kuchiki-san used the Memory chikan, I refused to believe that Kurosaki-kun and onii-chan were fighting, even when somewhere underneath, I knew it was true – "
The insinuation had been clear enough that Hinamori Momo had been angered to the point of breaking out of her coma to accuse Inoue Orihime, blanket covers flying off in her rage, "You're just like the others Inoue-san. You think Aizen-taichou is wrong! And I thought you were different, I thought you understood!"
If Inoue Orihime had been surprised by Hinamori's sudden awakening and the ensuing flying accusations, she certainly didn't show it. The human girl had slowly stood up, moving like someone trying not to frighten away an animal, and locked Hinamori's room. It was only then that Momo was aware that footsteps were running down the hall from the beeping machinery which had picked up on her heart rate and increased reiatsu.
" … Hinamori-san … maybe you're right that I don't exactly know or feel what you're going through right now. But if I try, … could you please not push me away?" There had been frantic banging on the hospital door, but Orihime had continued as though there was no disturbance of any sort, focusing all of her attention on Momo with a neutral look. "Hinamori-san, you were the only one who was shown kindness of the kind that Aizen-san had shown you." The human girl had not spat out the name Aizen like the other shinigamis, attaching even a san suffix. "If anyone has the right to feel hurt and cry, you would be the only one, Hinamori-san."
And before Momo had known what she was doing, she had crashed into Orihime with the intention of maybe scratching or hurting the girl, but instead cried into the human girl's bosom as the door to her room was flung open and the Fourth Division healers just gazed on in bewilderment and confusion.
And during the mindsift, Momo had seen Orihime think about her. When that Arrancar girl had threatened maliciously to "take back everything you stole from me" Orihime-san had thought of her, Momo. She had not hated her attacker, but gazing at Loly, Orihime-san had momentarily seen Momo's face superimposed over the Arrancar's. "Was this what you meant by 'not understanding you', Momo-san? You cared for Aizen this much…Is this the hurt you experienced from…having the One Person, your World, whom you adored and respected…turn away and discard you?" That had been Orihime-san's last fully coherent thought before she was harassed, kicked, punched and abused.
Momo cried, still on her knees before the goddess, any attempt at praying, gone. She and Orihime-san had tidied up this temple before the latter had been captured and taken away to Hueco Mundo. Momo, during her convalescence, had followed the human girl around like a lost puppy, and during one of their strolls, they came upon the abandoned temple. Even after a storm which set back their attempts, they still managed to finally fix up the place. And it was here that Momo sought her refuge now. But later, she would go back out and she would fight for Orihime-san.
Orihime-san had not given up on her during Momo's darkest hour. It is only right that Momo would help Orihime now when the other girl is at her most vulnerable. And Momo remembers one of Orihime's gentle rebukes when the former had questioned continuing rebuilding the temple after the storm.
"Sometimes, it is the smallest gesture, which makes all the difference."
A/N And thus concludes the much wanted third chapter! As much as I wanted to include Rukia in this one, I wanted to get another update on She's no traitor out. As much as I've kept you all waiting, this chapter also took a lot of time and effort so please, please review!
I am working on the fourth chapter. To spike your curiousity, I will let you in on a little secret. It will include Renji's, Urahara's, and Shinji's POVs. I'm looking for a fourth name so if anyone wants to submit a character suggestion, please go ahead! It can be anyone of the Shinigami, Vaizards or the Golden Quartet. So start reviewing and posting!
Bye for now!
(I do not own Bleach.)