Bleach Fan Fiction ❯ Secret ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Although she hated to admit it, Orihime Inoue loved a good secret every now and then. It couldn't be helped, she had decided long ago. Although she was a sweet girl, and she would never harbor any ill will towards anything, the gist of it was that gossip was part of a girl's life, whether or not she welcomed it.
She had a few secrets of her own, some she kept close to her heart.
For example, she had highly unusual, powerful spirit powers that neither Soul Reaper nor Quincy possessed. She and Chad were the only ones who manifested such powers, and she unfortunately had not at the time bothered to ask what she was classified as.
Ishida, during their stay in Soul Society, had noted that her powers made her unique, like a beautiful butterfly. When she asked him if he thought Chad was like a butterfly too, he had merely coughed and adjusted his glasses, before changing the subject to finding appropriate clothing.
And there were other trivial things too, that she kept private from many. Her favorite fruit were strawberries (not melons, despite rumors that she occasionally heard in the hallways), and her favorite color was orange. There was also the fact that she liked Ichigo Kurosaki a great deal, but the only one that knew was her best friend.
“Orihime?” a voice asked, waving a hand in front of her. “You okay there? You were spacing out again.”
She blinked, and felt wetness on her chin. Much to her dismay, she had left her mouth open and had drooled on herself again.
Looking around, she was glad to see that Ichigo, who was busy being bothered by Keigo, had not noticed that she was drooling. As long as he didn't see, she didn't mind drooling on herself.
“Were you daydreaming again, Orihime?” asked Tatsuki, patting her friend on the shoulders. “You've been doing that more often ever since we came back from summer break.”
The emphasis her friend had placed on the word “summer” did not go ignored, although she would rather not have to recount the whole experience.
She hastily rubbed the drool off her face and tried to think of a proper thing to say.
It was difficult, to say the least. Thankfully, the sounds of Keigo yelling rather loudly saved her from having to answer her friend.
“Ichigo, you mean bastard! How could you do this to me?” whined Keigo, pulling at his hair and stomping around. “You went on a secret trip with Rukia Kuchiki and didn't even invite me? What kind of friend are you? Friends don't keep secrets from each other!”
The class, being comprised mostly of girls, went into a frenzy of hushed whispers at the accusation placed on Ichigo.
“Ichigo is with Miss Kuchiki?”
“But he's always scowling. He would've scared her away with just one look!”
“Aren't you forgetting how they're always disappearing off to some part of the school?”
“They do seem awfully chummy at times…Rukia certainly seems to have taken a liking for him!”
Inoue looked over to Ichigo, who was looking away from the rest of the class, his scowl prominently displayed on his face, along with a faint blush on his cheeks to go along with it.
She did a double take when she realized the blushing. This mere act startled the girl, as she had never once seen him blush.
Orihime liked school, unlike many of her peers. She was relatively smart, only second to Uryu Ishida in her class. It pleased her whenever someone was surprised at how an apparent “ditz” like her was highly intelligent.
There were other reasons for her liking school, though. School was where Tatsuki and Ichigo and all her other friends came to everyday; school was a place where she was never alone. When she was at school, she didn't think so much about things that bothered her or made her sad.
When she was alone in her apartment, however, thoughts would come to her…scary, depressing thoughts that disturbed her to the point where she often phoned Tatsuki, just to hear a comforting voice before drifting off to sleep.
Sometimes her mind would drift to Rukia Kuchiki. She thought about how beautiful she was, how much strength and confidence she had, and how much influence she had on Ichigo.
She felt inadequate and weak whenever she compared herself to the raven-haired beauty.
In one of her weaker moments after the Soul Reaper had returned, Orihime had made a silent wish that Rukia Kuchiki had stayed where she belonged, back in Soul Society.
She felt disgusted with herself; in order to appease her conscience she made sure to act especially nice towards Rukia from that point on.
She couldn't help feeling hurt whenever Rukia made Ichigo smile, which she noticed seem to be happening more frequently with each passing day.
“Ah, Inoue, are you alright?”
She looked up, realizing that she had been lost in thought. “Oh, Tatsuki…why are you still at school?”
Her short-haired friend gave her a quizzical look. “I could ask you the same thing. School's been out for a half-hour now, yet you're still sitting at your desk.”
Orihime looked at the clock, wondering where all that time had gone by. “I must've spaced out again. You know me, sometimes I get so tired that I start daydreaming.”
Tatsuki smiled, ruffling her friend's hair playfully. “That's what I love about you, Orihime.”
“Ah! Not so rough Tatsuki!” she cried out, trying to protect herself from her friend's assault.
“Do you think Ichigo and Rukia are…?” Orihime asked, hoping that she sounded casual as opposed to upset.
Usually, Orihime would be talking about her latest recipe as Tatsuki walked her home, but today had been different. Tatsuki put an arm around her friend, hoping to ease her worries. “It's probably just silly rumors, you know…like that time everyone thought I liked you.”
Orihime giggled at the memory. “Yeah, that was pretty funny.”
Tatsuki joined her in laughing, although to Orihime it sounded a little forced.
“But I can't quite shake the feeling that Ichigo and Rukia have some sort of secret relationship,” she finally said, noting that she must be sounding like a broken record by now. It was a wonder that her companion had stuck with her for so long.
“Ichigo, though? He's always so sour though. The idea of him having secret romantic trysts with the new girl is laughable, right Orihime?” Tatsuki said, waiting for her friend to laugh.
Orihime blinked, a mental image of Ichigo and Rukia meeting in a park, both of them wearing dark shades and funny hats, and then he would take her to a secret part of the park where no would see them as he would roughly take her against a tree, her crying in ecstasy as he showed her how much he loved her.
Tatsuki shook her friend, bringing her back to reality. “Maybe you need sleep. It's cute when you space out like that, but really, that was the third time today. You're starting to worry me there, Orihime.”
Orihime gave her a puzzled look, noting that her friend's expression showed more than just concern. Something about those eyes had a certain spark to them that she hadn't seen before on her. She had seen it before, although she could not for the life of her remember where.
“Lie down,” Tatsuki ordered sternly. “You need some rest.”
Orihime obeyed her request wordlessly, lying down on her bed and allowing the spiky haired girl to tuck her in.
Her thoughts were drifting to Ichigo again, so she was surprised when she noticed that Tatsuki was running her fingers through her hair.
“Your hair is beautiful, Orihime,” she said.
Orihime was suddenly reminded of when her brother used to brush her hair. He would always smile and tell her how beautiful it was. He wanted her to grow it long, so that everyone could see it. She didn't have the nerve at the time to tell him she couldn't grow it long, because then the girls would bully her and cut it themselves.
She smiled sheepishly. “It's not anything special.”
Tatsuki averted her eyes. “Hey, Orihime…?”
“Mm?” she replied.
“You know Chizuru?” she asked hesitantly.
Orihime nodded brightly. “Of course I do, silly.”
Her eyes were still not quite looking at Orihime. “What do you think of her?”
“She's one of my good friends, even though she can be a bit too playful sometimes,” she said, choosing her words carefully.
Tatsuki's facial expression hardened. “Doesn't she…bother you?”
Orihime thought over this, wondering what was sparking these uncharacteristic questions. “Not at all!”
Tatsuki stopped stroking Orihime's hair, her expression one of shock. “You can't be serious. She-she's always all over you, trying to touch you and calling you a princess…her princess!”
“She's just being playful, that's all.”
“She's head over heels in love with you, Orihime!” Tatsuki yelled, louder than she had intended.
Orihime was taken back by this, as she had never been on the receiving end of something like that, especially not from Tatsuki. She had the strangest urge to call out her fairies and form a shield around herself, although she knew that Tatsuki would never hurt her like that. But that thought did not placate her in the slightest.
“She's a lesbian, Orihime!” she screamed, standing up and looking down on her, “It's no secret that she's an open, unapologetic lesbian! She loves women! She loves…you!”
Tatsuki's face was red now, and she was breathing heavily. Her fists were clenched tightly enough that her knuckles were turning white.
Orihime looked away, deeply confused about her friend's actions.
“Doesn't that sicken you, Orihime?”
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, before Orihime sighed and looked Tatsuki right in the eye.
“I've known for a long time.”
Tatsuki looked stunned. “For how long have you known?”
Orihime's brows furrowed in thought. “She told me in middle school, so I think three years ago?”
“But…I didn't even know until this year,” she whispered, sitting next to Orihime, her anger long forgotten.
Another moment of silence descended on the room, before Orihime again spoke up.
“Why does this bother you so much?” she finally asked, trying to look her best friend in the eye.
Tatsuki sighed, hugging her knees to her chest. “It just does. It's…it's disgusting, you know. It's not right. It's not acceptable. It's not normal.”
“What is normal then?”
“Normal is liking boys, like how you like Ichigo. You're not supposed to like girls because it's wrong!”
Orihime knew that it bothered Tatsuki whenever a guy hit on her or commented on her breasts, but never thought that she would feel so strongly about her dislike for Chizuru. She long ago had accepted the lesbian, especially since she was the first person she had come out to… but more importantly, because they were friends.
“I think love is love, no matter what. If she likes other girls,” she said, beaming at her friend, “it's fine as long as she's true to herself.”
There was a pause as Orihime looked at her friend, hoping for a good response. The angry and doubt on Tatsuki's face melted away, replaced by a small smile.
“You're so kind and accepting…you know that, Orihime?” she whispered, a hint of cheer returning to her voice. “It's no wonder I hang around you all the time. I think you make me a better person just by being you.”
Orihime smiled, thankful that she managed to diffuse that tense situation rather well. She was almost tempted to jump into the air and announce victory, but decided that she would rather not confuse her friend about her mental health.
Tatsuki moved closer to Orihime, sighing contently. Orihime reciprocated the movement, putting her head on her friend's shoulder like she had done many times in the past. A hesitant arm wrapped itself around Orihime, causing her to get closer to Tatsuki.
Tatsuki suddenly fell silent, deciding that today shouldn't be boggled down by any more secrets or confessions. She kissed her friend on her forehead, letting her lips linger longer than necessary.
“Get some rest, alright?” Tatsuki said, voice shaking.
Orihime had not noticed anything out of the ordinary, simply beaming at her friend and nodding happily. “Don't you worry, I'll get plenty of rest just for you Tatsuki!”
She felt her heart flutter at her friend's answer. She smiled, picked herself up and gathered her things. She lingered near the door, absently wondering what it would be like if she had kissed her on the cheek…or…
“Bye Tatsuki!” she said, yawning as she drifted off to sleep.
Tatsuki smiled, giving her friend one last look before departing from the apartment, realizing a part of herself that she had denied for far too long.
Maybe one day I'll let you in on the secret, Orihime Inoue…she thought to herself, letting a small smile appear on her lips.
Tatsuki moved closer to Orihime, sighing contently. Orihime reciprocated the movement, putting her head on her friend's shoulder like she had done many times in the past. A hesitant arm wrapped itself around Orihime, causing her to get closer to Tatsuki.
Tatsuki suddenly fell silent, deciding that today shouldn't be boggled down by any more secrets or confessions. She kissed her friend on her forehead, letting her lips linger longer than necessary.
Orihime smiled and closed her eyes, feeling her heart rest inside her chest. “That was nice…”
Tatsuki's eyes widened in shock, as she was not expecting that response from the orange-haired girl. She hesitantly leaned in again, until her lips were almost touching another pair.
Orihime opened her eyes, seemingly not minding the sudden closeness of her friend. Tatsuki took this as a sign that she may proceed, though her mind was racing and she couldn't quite comprehend the situation. All she knew was that she needed this…needed her.
She kissed her lightly at first, not wanting to be too rough yet. Orihime tensed at first, but slowly melted into the kiss, awkwardly putting an arm around the slim waist of her friend. Tatsuki's heart raced at the positive reaction, and she hurriedly deepened the kiss, not wanting to let this moment between them go to waste.
After a few more moments, she broke off the kiss, panting for air while holding Orihime close to her chest, not wanting to let go.
“You're…you're okay with me…being like this, right?” she asked quietly, holding her friend tenderly close.
She felt Orihime's head nod, and her heart rejoiced.
Orihime wasn't sure if she liked Tatsuki like that, but at the same time she did not object to the idea of having another kiss from her. While Ichigo did cross her mind for a brief second, she knew that it was best to just focus on the person in front of her…who was not just any person, but her best friend.
And, after carefully reviewing the events from today, she was possibly even more than that.