Summary: Her eyes widened in shock as tears began to stream out. “I have been asleep for over 400 years? I wasn’t supposed to be asleep that long!”
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, nuff said.
Two weeks had passed since Orihime’s first encounter with a hollow. Things had been going smoothly since then. She got along really well with Rangiku, though at first it took her a while to get used to her loud ways.
Three days after the fight Orihime was finally able to take off the cast for good. She was glad for it because she was tired of it hurting and getting in the way of her job. Rangiku had seemed shocked at first when she came down without it on, but she went ahead and explained her fast healing.
She was glad that Rangiku was just as understanding about it as the rest of the people had been so far. Then again, she figured they should be with all the other strange things she had seen.
Most of the days had been so busy that Orihime didn’t even have time to think about her new life and things that could happen. She was glad for that but every now and then random thoughts would pop up.
She worried for when the next time Ulquiorra would come for her and what the Arrancar would expect from her. She hadn’t actually been summoned by them on before. The other times had just been when she was found and when she was hurt. So she didn’t really talk to any of them. She still didn’t understand what they could possibly want from her, other than her power.
More people from the village were starting to get to know her as well. Many people came to eat at the restaurant she worked at. It was the only place people could get food rather quickly before they had to go back out to work. Most of the people wh\ere very kind to her and acted very curious, however there were the few that didn’t want to talk to her and only asked for Rangiku.
Rangiku looked sadly at Orihime when this happened but Orihime just smiled and told her not to worry. She was actually used to getting treated like that. Her brother had told her to never let those people get her down because there were others who liked and cared about her and those were the only people that mattered. It sounded really corny but she knew how true it actually was. She might have been a bit of an outcast in her world but she had her brother and her friend, Tatsuki.
She was starting to feel like the outcast in this new world but she actually had a small handful of people that called her a friend. So she was doing well so far. She just had to prove to the people of the village that she was not a spy for the Arrancars.
The store was starting to get quiet with only two people inside so Orihime decided now was the best time to ask.
Rangiku looked up from cleaning a table to show she was listening.
“Who do I contact to help make me some clothes? I finally have enough money.”
Rangiku tossed her rag into a box she was carrying dirty dishes in and wiped the sweat from her brow. “I suppose that would be Uryuu. He is the best one at making clothes in this village.”
Orihime thought about who Uryuu was, when she realized it was that hot tempered guy that always seemed to be angry with Ichigo. Her eyes widened in surprise. “Wow, he doesn’t look like the type to be into sewing.”
Rangiku just laughed as she walked by Orihime. “Most people think that, but it’s true.”
Orihime thanked Rangiku and ran upstairs to grab her money. She needed to get this done today because it would be one of the few days she would take off. She had told herself she would work as much as possible to help Rangiku so that when she had to leave with the Arrancars she wouldn’t seem like such a bother.
She waved her goodbyes at Rangiku and told her she would be back as soon as possible. Rangiku just told her to take her time and rest well.
As soon as she was outside Orihime realized she had no idea how to find Uryuu. She didn’t want to bother Rangiku again so she figured she could go ask Ichigo. Besides, it has been a long time since she had really seen him.
She walked down the hustling streets of the village with a smiling face. She felt really good today for some reason. She waved at the people she passed by, most of them waved back, a few of them weren’t sure.
The day was another hot one. Orihime could feel the sweat on the back of her neck get worse. She was probably due for another pond bath.
She had asked Rangiku how they bath themselves and her answer was what she thought. She said there was a pond on the outskirts of town. They only bathed for a certain amount of time with other people because it was too dangerous otherwise.
Orihime knew that going alone was probably really reckless but she didn’t feel like getting naked in front of other people. She knew the others were probably wondering how she got herself clean if she never went to these scheduled baths.
She didn’t care if they thought she was nasty, she knew she wasn’t and that was all that mattered.
For all she knew, they could be thinking it is another perk of her power.
When she got to the clinic she announced herself as she walked in. Ichigo was busy cleaning up some stuff, his father was in the back nursing some people, and Rukia was there nagging Ichigo.
Orihime laughed at the little antics between the two.
When they finally noticed her presence, she waved at them.
Rukia immediately turned from Ichigo to go and greet Orihime.
“Hey, Inoue-san! How have you been?”
Orihime looked at Ichigo and then back at Rukia. “I’m doing much better now, especially since the cast is off.” She lifted her arm to show them the proof. “I just came by to say hello and to ask you where Uryuu Ishida-san lives.”
Ichigo set down the stuff he had in his hands and butted in. “Why are you looking for Uryuu?”
Orihime began to blush when Ichigo came closer to her. Her heart pounded wildly in her chest but she wasn’t sure if it was just because she liked him or because of his face. Ichigo seemed to have strong facial features that made him look mean. She knew the truth though. He was one of the nicest people she had ever met.
“Um, well- I have a job for him.”
“Duh, Ichigo!” Rukia said as she hit him upside the head. “She needs more clothes. She can’t keep wearing hand-me-downs that don’t really fit.”
Ichigo just glared at Rukia as she went on but Orihime could tell that he wasn’t really angry. “Well then, why don’t you show her the way since all you are doing here is getting in the way.”
“How dare you say that to me! I do my fair share of work.” Rukia punched him in the gut and Ichigo hunch over and groaned.
Orihime was starting to feel uncomfortable. They acted so strangely to her, she wasn’t sure if they were really meaning the words they said or not.
“Come Orihime! Just follow me.”
Orihime nodded as Rukia headed at the door. She turned towards Ichigo and bowed and then followed Rukia.
Once they were a good distance away from the clinic Rukia finally spoke.
“Sorry about that, it may have looked strange to you but that is just how we always are.”
Orihime shook her head. She was slightly worried that they were really fighting but it wasn’t exactly strange. “No, I wasn’t really thinking it was strange. I was just thinking that you guys most be really close.”
Rukia had stopped walking when Orihime said that but because she was in front of Orihime she couldn’t see what was going on with Rukia’s face. Whatever it was that stopped her didn’t last long because then she started to walk again. “We have just known each other for a long time, so I guess you could say that.”
Orihime smiled and wondered if she was embarrassed but somewhere deep down, she felt a slight sting in her heart. She wasn’t completely sure what it was though.
“Well here we are!”
Orihime looked up to see another run down looking building. On the top was a sign spelling out ‘Uryuu Ishida’s Shop’. She held back a smirk at the very unoriginal title.
“Thank you very much, Rukia.” She started to walk in but Rukia did not follow. “Aren’t you coming?”
Rukia shook her head. “Nah, I have to go help my brother with some stuff.”
Orihime frowned, she was a little afraid of being alone with Uryuu. “Ah, oh okay. See you later then.” She waved and so did Rukia before she turned the other way and took off in a slow jog.
Orihime looked all around her when she walked in. The place was very tidy, despite the way it looked outside. She noticed all the different clothes but there was no sign of Uryuu.
She walked further in, hoping to spot him soon. She didn’t feel right walking around someone’s home, even if it was a store too.
“Can I help you?”
Orihime nearly jumped out of her skin. She was so busy looking ahead of her she didn’t notice him kneeling on the floor behind some stuff.
“It’s not that hard to say what you want.” His voice was strong and seemed to be losing patience.
Finally he looked up and the look of annoyance on his face immediately went away and became shocked. “Oh! It’s you. I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”
Orihime calmed down some when he was using his polite tone with her again.
“No, it’s alright. I was just startled is all.”
Uryuu pushed up his glasses with his middle finger and stood up. “I take it you need some clothes?”
Orihime nodded her head.
“Then let’s get started.” He walked over to a desk in the room and pulled out something that reminded her of measuring tape.
This was going to be awkward.
Orihime walked down the streets back toward her job with a skip and a hum. She was finally going to have some of her own clothes. She couldn’t wait too see what they were going to look like. From all the stuff she saw in Uryuu’s house she was sure they would be super cute.
Some of his styles reminded her of clothes she used to wear a long time ago, such a simple dresses and shirts. She was glad that he gave her a discount for being a friend, although she felt like he was just being really nice since she hadn’t really done much in the fight and hadn’t really talked to him before.
Still, it was nice that he already thought of her as a friend. Especially since he didn’t seem to like many people.
“Arrancar alert! Arrancar Alert!”
Orihime froze in her tracks when she heard the loud bangs and warnings. She looked all around wondering if it was really going to be for her.
When she though she heard something behind her she turned quickly but was surprised to see nothing was there. She figured she was just being paranoid but as soon as she turned back around Ulquiorra was in front of her. His facial expression was the same as always, emotionless.
The people in the streets screamed and ran away. Orihime couldn’t take her eyes off of him though. Her heart was pounding like crazy, only it was different than when it pounded when Ichigo was around. It was fiercer and it made her short of breath. It was almost like her soul was being crushed under his gaze.
He slowly held out his hand.
Orihime looked at it and wondered if it was okay to grab it.
Orihime gulped and grabbed his hand. It was unexpectedly warm, which surprised her but then calmed her down at the same time. Her heartbeat finally slowed down and she was able to take in more of what was going on around them.
People were still running away while others were heading towards them with weapons. Orihime came closer toward him, letting him pick her up, so they could leave the town before anyone would get hurt.
He seemed to have the same idea because he grabbed her quickly and they were off as swiftly as he appeared before her.
Orihime was grateful for not being held strangely this time, yet it was still awkward. She knew it was silly to think of such things but when people would pick her up she always got self-conscious about her weight.
For some reason she couldn’t feel scared being in his arms though. She knew he was really dangerous and that nobody liked them but she didn’t feel that. Perhaps she was just naïve for not knowing more about the current world. It made her think back to the times in her world when they had wars and how they would hate a whole race for it. She just wasn’t ready to completely distrust the Arrancars.
Aizen- he might be a different story. He was not what she was used to at all. He was cruel yet kind at the same time, it made no sense! The other humans she wasn’t too sure what to make of either. She supposed it would be clear eventually.
While Orihime was pondering her thoughts she didn’t even realize when they go to their destination. It wasn’t until Ulquiorra spoke to her that she came back to reality.
“You can let go now. Woman.”
Orihime gasped and apologized as she released him and got down.
Ulquiorra started to walk ahead of her and Orihime took that to mean she was supposed to follow.
The place was the same as she remembered it. There wasn’t really anything to it except for white, cold walls and sand.
“Where are you taking me?”
Orihime looked around but the direction they were going in didn’t feel familiar.
“A room that was set up for you. You will stay there until Aizen is ready to talk with you.”
Orihime’s eyebrows furrowed. If he wasn’t already ready for her then why did they bring her back so fast? She couldn’t understand the way they did things at all. She shouldn’t have been surprised that she would be kept waiting once she got to Las Noches.
When they finally reached the room, Orihime grimaced. It was even worse than the small home she had made for herself. While it was a lot bigger than her current home the room lacked any warmth. It felt more like a prison cell than a room.
“I don’t want to stay in here.”
Ulquiorra pushed her through the door. “I never said you had a choice.”
Orihime thought he would slam the door shut and walk away, leaving her alone in a lonely room but to her surprise he walked in after her and didn’t even close the door.
They stood there for awhile before Orihime decided to sit down on the couch. It was a lot more comfortable than she thought it would be so she bounced a bit.
“You are a strange human.”
Orihime realized she was acting like a kid who was jumping on her bed and stopped to look at Ulquiorra again. He was just looking at her with that emotionless expression but for some reason she felt that he was really curious.
“Tell me, Woman. What was your world like?”
Orihime was surprised that he asked such a question.
“Why do you want to know?”
He closed his eyes for a bit as if annoyed. “Simply for more information, that is all.”
Orihime nodded her head. She wasn’t too surprised by his answer.
“First, answer my question.”
Ulquiorra said nothing.
“What exactly are hollows?”
She watched him carefully for any change in expression or any sort of body movement, but his response didn’t give her much time to figure anything out.
“You are not ready to know that information yet.”
Orihime wanted to press on more but then she noticed a strange aura coming from him and decided to go ahead and tell him about her world.
“Well, my world was full of life, unlike this place. The land was greener than it is now because we had many plants and grass. We also had seasons so sometimes it could be really hot and other times it would be so cold we could get snow.”
“It’s little white things that fall from the sky. They are soft and very cold. I used to hate having to walk in it but I did admire how pretty it looked, especially when you would wake up to it covering everything like a blanket.”
Orihime took a break to see if he wanted to say anything but all he seemed to be doing was taking in the information. He didn’t seem to have any opinions.
“Besides the nature we had technology. Getting around was easier for humans because we had cars, trains, planes and so on so forth. Those things could go pretty fast though I’m not sure if they go as fast as you do.”
Getting tired of just spitting out information Orihime rested herself back on the couch.
“I don’t really know what all to tell you. Do you have anything specific in mind?”
Ulquiorra actually had many things in mind but for some reason only one thing popped up when she asked that question. It wasn’t even anything about the past world.
“How did you get those burn marks on your back?”
Orihime went completely still. It wasn’t a question she was expecting at all. It was crazy enough that he knew about the marks.
“What burn marks?” She knew she didn’t sound convincing but she hoped he would take the hint.
She had no such luck.
“Don’t try to hide it. I don’t understand how you could have such a mark when you heal so quickly.”
Orihime turned her head away. She didn’t feel like discussing something so personal to him. Then it dawned on her, how on earth did he know about them anyway?
“Wait a minute. How did you see them?”
Without missing a beat he replied, “It was hard not to when you were running around naked in the water at night.”
Orihime blushed. She couldn’t believe he had just seen every single part of her. No one had ever seen her that naked, not even her brother.
Orihime’s comment stirred something in Ulquiorra and she felt it.
“Don’t be foolish. You are nothing but a disgusting human to me. Trash.” Ulquiorra started to walk out of the room when Orihime tried to follow.
“Don’t follow me. Someone will be here for you soon.”
Orihime stopped following him and watched as he walked away.
She didn’t understand why he seemed to get so offended by her comment. After he was out of sight she got to thinking about what he said to her.
“Why do I feel like I have just been insulted? Do I really look that bad?”
A loud laughter from behind the door makes her jump.
“Who is there?”
Grimmjow came into the room, still laughing a bit.
“Grimmjow? Just what is so funny?”
He took a deep breath and finally stopped laughing. “I wouldn’t worry about anything that guy says. In fact, some of the other Espada are making bets on him being gay.”
Orihime eyes widened in surprise. “You mean… you guys can actually-” She stopped her sentence when she realized what she was about to ask.
The damage was done though when she saw the evil glint in Grimmjow’s eyes.
“Would you like to find out?” He moved in closer and Orihime shook her head back and forth with vigor.
“Uh, no, that is okay.”
Just when she thought she might be doomed, another Espada came in.
“You really shouldn’t be saying things like that to the woman who belongs to Aizen.”
Grimmjow pulled away from Orihime and snarled. “Damn you Stark, I was just having a little fun teasing her.”
Orihime watched in fascination. She saw so many emotions from Grimmjow and even some from Stark, so being emotionless couldn’t possibly be an Espada thing. It had to just be an Ulquiorra thing.
Feeling curious, she dared to ask them a question.
“Um, I was wondering.”
They stopped their antics to turn their attention to Orihime.
“Does Ulquiorra ever show any emotion?”
The two looked at each other and then nodded.
“He does have one emotion but it hardly ever comes out. Once it does you want to be sure to get out of his way.” Grimmjow said.
“What emotion is that?” She was really curious now.
“Anger,” was Stark’s reply.
Orihime almost couldn’t believe it but noticed they were being very serious. For someone who always seemed so composed, quiet, and mellow you would think anger would be the last emotion he would be used to. However, as the saying goes, it’s always the quiet ones.
True to Ulquiorra’s word, someone came to take her to Aizen. It happened to be Gin, one of the few humans who lived in Las Noches.
He gave her the creeps even though he was always using polite talk. For some reason she felt like a mouse about to be devoured by a snake. She tried to shake it off and smile to be natural but she was pretty sure he could see right through her.
He didn’t say much to her. Just smiled and told her to follow him. On the way to Aizen Orihime spotted a beautiful female Arrancar with green hair. She loved how the green hair looked on her and thought it was strange that such a color could look so natural on a person.
Well, maybe she shouldn’t say person since she wasn’t sure what the Arrancars were.
The young looking Arrancar bowed when she passed by and Orihime was saddened that she wouldn’t be able to meet her this time. She wasn’t even able to get a good look at her face.
After what seemed like the longest walk ever, they finally reached Aizen’s room. Gin opened the door and motioned for her to go in.
“Just go have a seat in that chair.”
Orihime looked at Gin one last time before nodding her head and walking in. Aizen was already sitting on a sofa on the other side of the chair. He looked so relaxed as if he had no cares in the world.
Orihime was feeling really nervous. It would be the first time she was left alone with him. She wasn’t even sure she could trust him. It was kind of sad how a human could scare her more than the Arrancars.
“Don’t be so nervous, Orihime dear. You should smile more. A smile would make that beautiful face all the more radiant.”
Orihime tried to muster up a smile but even though his words were meant to flatter her she felt a chill run down her spine. She took a seat and sat as still and upright as possible.
“So, how do you like the world you are in?”
Orihime looked at Aizen in the face and tried to figure out what he was thinking. It was strange. His eyes were so empty even though he held a pleasant smile.
“Um, it is taking some getting used to but it’s not all that bad.”
Aizen sat back in his seat and closed his eyes for a split second. “I suppose you are wondering why I asked for your time.”
Orihime just nodded her head.
“It’s nothing much. I just wanted to get to know more about you. I mean, I get what I can just to make sure you are still doing okay but I would like to hear it from you as well.”
Orihime just couldn’t help herself. “Why?”
He sat all the way up and smiled.
The smile made her shiver one more time.
“Because, you are special.”
Orihime formed her mouth in an ‘oh’ response but no words came out.
“I wanted to let you know that I have assigned Ulquiorra to watch over you from a distance in case you are ever in any danger or if you need something from us.”
Orihime’s mind raced. That was when she realized that must have been why Ulquiorra was watching her when she was bathing. It was all starting to make sense.
“I just want you to call his name if you ever need anything.”
Orihime nodded her head. “Thank you?” She wasn’t sure what else to say.
He must have thought that was enough because then he got up and went to the door.
“It looks like Ulquiorra is already here to take you back to the village.”
Orihime was confused. She was brought all the way to Las Noches just for that small talk? Something just didn’t seem to add up. However, she wasn’t going to dare ask because getting away from Aizen was all that she could think of at the moment.
She rose from her seat and walked to the door, but turned to bow down at Aizen.
Aizen told her there was no need for her to do so. “I will be looking forward to our next meeting.”
Orihime shut the door behind her and was surprised to see Ulquiorra waiting for her. He started to walk away so she quickly followed, assuming that was what she was supposed to do. She was feeling a little funny seeing him again after accusing him of being a pervert.
“I’m sorry,” she blurted out without even thinking.
Ulquiorra stopped in his tracks, which was not something Orihime was expecting because she ran into him at full force.
Orihime picked herself off the floor and rubbed her butt. “Um- for what I said to you earlier.”
“It does not matter to me.” He continued to walk again, not even bothering to help her.
Orihime should have known better.
Once they got outside Ulquiorra picked Orihime up again and they were off.
She was starting to get used to traveling this way.
It never took long though.
Reaching the outskirts of town, they landed and Ulquiorra put her down. He started to walk away and Orihime had the sudden urge to stop him.
She grabbed the end of his shirt and he stopped.
Once Orihime realized what she was doing she let go as if she had touched a hot coal.
“I’m sorry. It was nothing.”
Ulquiorra turned to her and Orihime got a little nervous. “There is no reason to say sorry to me.”
Then he took off without as much as a goodbye.
Orihime looked at her hand that had reached out to Ulquiorra and wondered why she did that.
To Be Continued.