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.
Orihime walked happily down the street humming a little tune. It had been over a month since she had any contact with the Arrancars. Chad was walking with her and she couldn’t have been happier because she had convinced all her new friends to join together. She had never had these kind of relationships in her past life so it almost felt like a group of friends coming together just to hang out. In reality they would probably be talking about fighting strategies but at least it was a start.
“So Chad?” she stopped humming so she could try to get to know Chad a little more. “Is that your first or your last name?”
Orihime stopped and turned to him in confusion.
“My real name is Yasutora Sado, but a lot of people mess it up and call me Chad so I just gave up.”
Orihime smiled again. “But Sado-san, doesn’t that annoy you?”
“Only a little-”
Orihime raised her hands in the air and then brought them down and clapped them together. “Then I will be the only one who calls you by your real name, if that is okay with you?”
Orihime checked his facial expression and saw that he has a very gentle smile on it.
“Come on! The others are waiting for us.”
He nodded his head as they both took off in a slow jog.
Over the past month Orihime kept busy with her job, but she also spent a lot of time around Ichigo and Rukia. She hardly spent time alone with Ichigo though, and she wished she could. Then again it probably would have been a little awkward.
As Orihime’s thoughts began to wonder further and further away they finally came up to Rukia’s house. She knocked on the door politely and waited patiently for someone to answer.
She was surprised to see that it was Uryuu that came to the door. “Good evening Inoue-san. I have good news for you.”
“Good evening to you too Ishida-san, what would that be?” She was curious because she wasn’t really expecting him to come to the meeting. He was more of a loner but over the month she had learned that he was really kind and actually kind of fun once you broke through a few of the walls. Rukia had even mentioned how he seemed to act a little different around her.
She hoped that was a good thing.
“The clothes you ordered, I finished up the last of the batch.”
“Really?” Orihime said with enthusiasm. “I can’t wait to see how they look!”
“Hey guys! What’s the hold up?”
Orihime could hear Renji’s loud voice from in the back.
“I guess we better get a move on.” Orihime said with a slight giggle.
“After you then” he held the door and let her in “and good evening Sado-san.”
Orihime looked at Uryuu, confused a bit by the fact that Uryuu knew Sado’s real name.
Sado said his hellos and followed in after them. Orihime figured she would find out at a later time so she decided not to ask, especially since people were waiting on them.
“Hey guys!” Orihime said as she walked into the room where everyone was waiting.
“It took you long enough.” Renji said with a smirk.
“Yeah, sorry about that- I’m still not completely used to this town and finding my way around.”
They all nodded in understanding as Orihime, Uryuu, and Chad took their seats.
“So, what’s on the agenda for today?” she asked brightly.
They shook their heads as if they didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. That is when Orihime got an idea. She never liked to do this before when she was in school but it would be a good way to get to know everyone. “I know! How about we go around and tell each other a little bit about ourselves?”
They said nothing and Orihime was afraid they would reject her idea.
Finally Chad spoke up, which took everyone by surprise. “Okay, I will go first then.”
Orihime turned her full attention towards him. She was really curious about what he would say since he hardly ever talked.
“Why is everyone so afraid of me?”
Okay, Orihime thought to herself, not exactly what I had in mind but at least he is trying.
“Well,” Rukia spoke up, “It’s because of the curse.”
“Curse?” Orihime asked.
“There is no curse.” Chad replied.
The rest of the group looked at each other as if they didn’t believe him. Orihime was getting fed up by their lack of friendliness.
“Sado-san, what makes them think there is a curse?” she gave him a puzzled looked.
He didn’t answer, instead Uryuu decided to speak up. “It’s because his old village was completely wiped out by a Hollow. Most people think he brings bad luck because he was the only survivor.”
Orihime frowned- she couldn’t believe how people would isolate him like that when he was suffering. Now she finally understood why he lived on the outskirts of town by himself and hardly ever spoke. If he had to deal with such a horrible trauma by himself and then be called a curse because of it, she was sure she wouldn’t have been able to be as strong as he was.
She probably would not be as nice as him either.
“That’s so stupid.” She said in anger. “If that was so, and he was bad luck then that would mean I’m here to bring about the apocalypse.”
“What do you mean, Orihime?” Rukia asked while shifting in her seat.
“Because, I’m the only survivor from back before the moon exploded.” While it wasn’t true she was the only person who survived the moon exploding, she was the only one still alive in the present who had lived through the experience. It was really strange, even she had to admit.
“You have a point.” Ichigo finally spoke up. She was beginning to wonder about him because he was usually one of the most talkative out of the bunch. “I guess we owe you an apology, Chad.”
Orihime smiled. If Ichigo stopped being scared of Chad then she was sure he would start to fit in. After all, it was Ichigo that saved her from the village when she first appeared.
The rest of the time was spent in idle chatter, with them getting used to each other and talking about fighting skills. From time to time Renji and Ichigo would get really loud and in each others faces. It amused her but when it started to get out of control it was Chad that had to get up and break it off.
It was a good thing he was becoming their friend because they really needed a strong guy who could get in between them when they got too hot headed. Chad was like the Yin to their Yang.
The meeting ended when Rukia said she needed to go home and make dinner for her brother. Everyone else decided it was probably time to get back to their daily routines.
As they were all heading out Orihime decided to follow Renji and Uryuu to Uryuu’s place. Renji said he had some things to pick up from order, to which Uryuu told him if he didn’t pick it up soon he was going to either trash it or sell it to someone else. Orihime asked if she could come with so she could get her new clothes. They were more than happy to let her join.
It was quiet for the most part and for some reason Orihime got to thinking about Rukia. It was strange how different she was around her brother. She wanted to ask her in person but figured it might be a taboo topic. “So… Rukia always makes dinner for her and her brother?”
“I know what you are thinking.” Renji replied. Orihime wondered if she was busted for trying to snoop around her friend’s personal lives. “You should probably know- since everyone else already does- but they aren’t really brother and sister.”
Orihime was surprised to hear this.
“Then why do they live together and say they are?”
“They are more like siblings through a marriage.”
Orihime looked at Renji’s face and noticed how annoyed he looked. She wondered why that was.
“You mean, like their parents remarried?”
He shook his head. “No, not exactly- He was actually married to her sister.”
“Sister? But Rukia never says anything about her and I haven’t seen her.”
“That’s because she is dead now and Rukia was never close to her. When we were younger we were both orphans from the same place. Her sister wasn’t around, didn’t even know she existed until she died and her husband came looking for Rukia.”
“Oh.” Orihime was starting to feel bad now. She didn’t want to drag up painful memories for Renji. “I’m sorry to hear that and I’m sorry for bringing it up.”
She heard him laugh and relaxed some.
“It’s not a big deal these days, Inoue-san. I’m pretty much over it now and so is Rukia.”
She watched as his face went from serious to a nostalgic. It made her wonder if he might have some sort of a thing for Rukia.
It was then that she noticed she had totally forgotten all about Uryuu. She turned her attention to him and saw that he was just silently listening.
“Um, Uryuu-san, I have wanted to ask.”
He looked at her and lifted his glasses up on his face, a habit she noticed he tended to do quite often, especially when he was thinking.
“How did you know about Sado-san’s real name?”
“I just find that having all the knowledge I can about the people around me is beneficial for my business and for my living – nothing more and nothing less.”
Orihime mouthed an ‘oh’ and said nothing more. She figured he had asked around about him when he first moved to the village, probably because he was so thorough in fighting and thinking things through. Unlike a certain someone who liked to just charge in. Her heart fluttered again when she thought of him and hoped it didn’t show up on her face.
“Oh! Is that one of your new outfits?” Rangiku exclaimed when Orihime came down the stairs of her home and into the restaurant.
Orihime spun around once to show her friend the whole thing. “It sure is. Uryuu is just amazing! It fits me so perfectly that it is almost scary.”
Rangiku laughed. “That is Uryuu for you. He is a bit of a perfectionist.”
Orihime laughed and made her way to the back. It was still really early but she needed to get the soup of the day ready. When she first started to work there she was only allowed to serve customers but now that they had some time to teach her a few things she would be able to make the simpler dishes.
And simple it was. She would never order the dish herself because it seemed so plain and bland. She wished she was allowed to change it up some but figured that not everyone would have the same tastes as she did. She remembered when she use to make food for her and her brother, how he would blanch and freak once he found out what all she added to the food for flavor.
He would hardly -ever- let her cook anything after that. She thought it was a shame that other people didn’t understand her taste buds until one day she made herself a bowl of the soup and added some of her own things to it at the end of the day.
Rangiku had asked her what she put in it and when she did she figured Rangiku would blanch and walk away but instead she wanted to taste it. She even really seemed to like it and asked if she would make her a bowl as well. Orihime was more than happy, she was ecstatic that someone else actually liked her food.
After that moment they began to bond a little bit more. They were always on friendlier terms, Orihime really liked her, but it wasn’t until then that they actually started to open up a bit more about personal stuff.
She learned that Rangiku actually knew Gin from her childhood. She told her that he was the sweetest person she had met and Orihime just couldn’t picture it at all. She remembered the creepy smile he gave her and the suffocating air he brought with him, as if he would crush her with no effort. She asked Rangiku what happened to him to make him go with Aizen but Rangiku had no idea. She said he just changed one day and wouldn’t speak to her.
Orihime felt sad for Rangiku when she said this. She could see that Rangiku was very upset by it and even heart broken.
When Orihime asked her about her relationship with Hitsugaya, Rangiku had laughed. She knew it was weird, since she was older than him and he looked like a child but they had formed a sort of bond. They weren’t exactly lovers but they were closer than friends. She mentioned that he had lost his love just like she had but his had died in battle with a hollow.
Orihime wondered if everyone had a dark and sad past they were hiding. She wouldn’t be surprised if they did. She wasn’t really one to be different either.
“Oh hey, Orihime?” Rangiku asked out of the blue and brought her out of her thoughts.
“Be sure to save some of that soup so we can eat your ‘spiced’ up version again.” She winked at Orihime and Orihime laughed.
Just as Orihime was about to get started a loud roar filled the air and the sounds of the bells and people screaming came not long after.
Orihime gulped. The sounds of the screams and roars made a cold sweat start to form on her forehead. She tried her best to hide it but she was actually really scared. The feelings that came rushing through her the first time were not pleasant; she was in no rush to feel it again.
Still, she didn’t want to leave her friends to fight alone. She needed to be there to help heal them in case they got really hurt.
“Orihime? Are you okay?”
Orihime snapped back to reality when she heard Rangiku’s voice.
“I’m going to go meet up with the group. You can stay here if you like.”
Orihime shook her head quickly. “No, I want to come as well.”
“Alright, but keep up.”
Orihime just nodded her head and followed her out the door. He heartbeat would not take a rest. The feelings of the hollow seemed to be even worse than the last time. She did her best to keep her tears in check- she didn’t want to worry Rangiku any further.
The hollow was just on the outskirts of town, so Chad was the first one to be there. Orihime halted quickly when a surge of power hit her like a rock. She tried to catch her breath but it was really hard especially after she had been running at full speed only a few seconds ago.
Chad rushed up to her to keep her from falling to her knees, a look of worry on his face.
Orihime finally got some control again and slowly pulled away from Chad’s grip. “It’s okay, I just- I guess I’m not in very good shape. That run took more out of me than I expected.”
That’s when she heard it. A scared and angered voice in-between the roars. She almost didn’t notice it except that it hit a nerve.
The rest of the gang showed up not to long after, Ichigo wanted to run right out there but the look on Orihime’s face and the hand of Uryuu wouldn’t let him.
“Does anyone hear that?” she asked, barely loud enough for anyone to hear.
“Hear what?” Ichigo asked as he walked up closer to her.
“The voice.” She didn’t even turn to look at them as she said this. Her eyes were focused on the hollow.
Everyone just looked at each other as if she had lost her mind.
“Orihime, there is no voice- maybe you should go sit down.”
But Orihime knew she heard it. In fact the voice was getting louder and clearer with each passing second. She couldn’t believe they didn’t hear it!
She took a step closer to the hollow, as if she was in some sort of trance. Ichigo reached out for her but felt a strange spark when he barely touched her, so he withdrew his hand quickly.
“I have to find her.”
Orihime was drawn in; she wanted to know what the hollow was so frantic about. Find who and why?
“I have to be there when she wakes up!”
That sentence alone was enough to make Orihime gasp. She took off in a sprint toward the hollow despite her friend’s protests. Something wasn’t right, she felt the same sadness and pain from the hollow but she also felt a sense of familiarity.
As soon as she reached the hollow it stopped its frantic destruction and stared at her. Orihime stared back at what she hoped was its eyes as tears started to leak from her own eyes from all the mixed emotions. She didn’t want to believe it, but she was getting the same feeling from the hollow that she did from her brother.
“Brother?” she said quietly. The hollow just continued to stare at her so she wondered if it had even heard her or understood human language. It must have though, for her to be able to hear it’s thoughts like that.
Just when she was about to call out to it again it let out the loudest roar it had ever made causing Orihime to almost fall back from the shock. Her fear was starting to come back full throttle and any other feelings she had were slowly fading away. She wondered what she was possibly thinking, walking up to a monster all on her own.
She wanted someone to help her. She felt so weak and useless. She probably even made the situation worse. She took a step back when she saw its hand reach out for her but was shocked when Rukia jumped in between them and took the blow.
Orihime was horrified when she saw Rukia being thrown far away, blood spurting from the slash on her body and onto her. She wanted to scream but her mouth was clamped shut. Thankfully Renji ran to catch her before she could hit hard cement at such a speed. However, the blow was so strong that it put Renji out of commission as they both went flying back, him breaking the fall of Rukia. They both lay unconscious on the floor.
Orihime tried to make a run for it but before she could its hand came back out, but instead of slashing her it grabbed her tightly and lifted her in the air. Orihime yelped a bit as it squeezed her. She wondered if she would die by being crushed to death.
“Please.” She whimpered, in hopes that it would reach it. But the monster was too far gone to even realize what it was doing.
She looked over to her friends and saw a rage on Ichigo’s face she had never seen before. He ran charging for the monster as Orihime hoped he wouldn’t get hurt. To her surprise he sliced through the hollow’s arm that had her in its grip and she went falling to the ground.
It hurt, a lot. She was dropped from very high and the only thing keeping her from even more serious injuries was the very hand that still had her grasped. She spit up some blood from the blow and wondered what bones were broken now.
Chad rushed up to help her as Uryuu and Ichigo went for the kill.
Feeling a new fear Orihime screamed for them to stop but they don’t pay any attention to her as they slice through its neck.
Orihime watched in terror as the mask of the hollow fell off to reveal a very familiar face.
She knew then and there that the hollows were actually humans. How they ended up that way she didn’t know, but she had just found her brother again and had to witness him in so much pain only to see him be killed.
It was too much for her to take, as soon as he was completely gone from sight -having turn to dust- Orihime began to scream at the top of her lungs.
She screamed for him, for her friends, for the unfairness of it all but mostly for herself. What a horrible world she had woken up in.
She was a sight to behold. Yelling up at the sky, people that were in hiding came out to see what was going on. She was covered in dirt, bruises and blood and she was just on her knees cursing at the sky.
She didn’t care what anyone thought of her right then either. She was filled with so much rage and so much hurt. That is when something occurred to her. She calmed down enough to finally notice that everyone around her seemed to be scared and worried.
Orihime got up and made her way toward Rukia and Renji. She flinched some from the pain in her chest and figured she must have broken a rib this time. Both Rukia and Renji were awake now so when she walked up toward them they just stared at her, not saying a word. Orihime preferred it that way, she knew what they were thinking and didn’t really want to hear it right then.
She healed them quickly and then started to walk away.
“Orihime?” she heard Rukia call out but she didn’t turn around. She felt guilty- it was her fault that she had been hurt. She also felt guilty because -even though she risked her life to protect her- she felt mad at her for never trying to figure out what the hollows were.
She couldn’t face them right now. “Sorry.” Then she took off, far away from them and far away from the village. She knew exactly what she wanted to do with her newfound anger. There was only once place she could really vent it all out.
They knew. The Arrancar, Ulquiorra, they all knew about it but they didn’t tell her. She felt like a fool, like they were just toying with her but she wasn’t going to continue to let that happen.
When she got far enough away from the village she yelled at the top of her lungs once again only it is to call for a certain someone.
“Ulquiorra! I know you are out there!”
As if he had been waiting for her call he was there in an instant, looking no different from normal, which only seemed to infuriate her more.
“Why? Why did you just let all that happen? Why didn’t you tell me what they were?”
He said nothing and didn’t even bat an eye.
Tears were falling from Orihime’s eyes once again but she made no attempt to wipe them away.
“I hate this world. I hate everything and I hate you!”
That must have been enough to get him a little angry because then he grabbed her roughly, enough to make her cry out in pain from the broken rib she most likely had.
Instead of just kicking back and letting him take her to Las Noches she put up a fight the entire way, kicking and screaming and doing her best to make the entire trip a living hell for him. It was how she was feeling right then and if she didn’t release some of her rage she was sure she was going to break apart and never be able to be put back together.
When they got to their destination Ulquiorra threw her down into the bleak room he had her stay in before. She yelled at him to not leave her there but he didn’t even turn to look at her as he stormed out, slamming the heavy stone door behind him.
Orihime wondered what would happen to her. She lay down and continued to cry. Would she be kept locked up in that room forever now? She figured it couldn’t be much worse than having to try and make a living in such a world ever again.
Her eyes started to fade out from their usual warmth to a cold emptiness.
Anger, loneliness, fear, and hate, they were all things that felt horrible and Orihime felt them all.
To Be Continued.