Karma and Repentance
By Arukan

Chapter 1: A Moment for Hinamori Momo


Karakura town was silent, the Urahara Shop was quiet, and the Kurosaki residence was shrouded in a noiseless vale. From the shadows darted a figure garbed in black, holding in their hand a drawn sword, they looked up towards the moonlight as a fell shadow appeared. A piercing scream rang through the night, though no one without considerable reiatsu would have felt it.

Throughout the city, the senses of the few reiatsu aware peoples piqued for a moment and then dulled. This feeling was not vital, it was not something incredible, quite ordinary for even the small city. A couple of shoulders shrugged or brows furrowed in sleep and there was no more minds paid to the cry.

Nevertheless, the figure was not afraid; they moved their sword up and deflected a shot at their heart. The figure turned and bolted up a house roof and smashing footsteps followed, crushing the roof under their clawed hooves. What would appear to be nothing was a hollow, an impure soul, chasing after one charged to purify those impures.

The shinigami turned to deflect another blow, throwing her enemy back as black hair feel from a slashed bun. The thin shinigami raised her soul slayer and pointed it at the hole in the hollow’s chest. “Stay back, fell fiend!” She yelled in a high, somewhat alarmed voice. The hollow only laughed, saying nothing. It looked at her through blazing red eyes in its mask. The shinigami waived a little and found herself slammed into a nearby wall with a powerful fist.

The shinigami got up, but shuddered as she stood still reeling from that hit she had just taken. Her body shook for a moment more and she cleared her head. She’d been a little muddled, and even with the alert that a hollow was nearby, she had not been totally ready. She’d been lax in her duties for too long, she wiped her brow as the hollow’s booming, and echoing voice shattered the silence of their standoff.

“Mufufu! Small shinigami, you little fool!” the hollow taunted. “Are all the adults away on real missions?” He continued to taunt. The shinigami rose, unhurt, and with rage in her eyes pointed her sword at the beast.

“That’s it….no mercy….Snap: Tobiume!” She yelled a red light engulfed the street, bathing her and the hollow in a crimson glow. “I am Hinamori Momo, lieutenant captain of the fifth protection squad!” The hollow backed up warily for a moment.

“A…lieutenant?” he scoffed, underestimating the appearance of “little Momo.” Without any more hesitation, he charged forward. The hollow’s hooves pounded once, twice, three times against the pavement of that dark road before a ball of light consumed him, the mask smashed first, and the entirety of the hollow’s body disintegrated.

Hinamori huffed a little bit, Tobiume changed back as she sheathed it, turning around. She walked back along the alabaster walled road, running her hand along the divider. “What a day…” she thought, remembering the ten hollows she dispatched. “Aizen-sama,” she whimpered, imagining that bespectacled hero she once knew, his visage now replaced with that vision of evil she witnessed as he fled soul society. She was tearing only slightly, her black sleeve dabbed at the wetness, drying her eyes.

With a slow step, Hinamori returned to her gigai, hidden nicely behind a bush near where she first spotted the hollow. This human doll of Hinamori was dressed in a way she could only dream of dressing back home. She wore a blue skirt that fell past her knees; flowing with a white ruffle at the bottom, lacy, frilly, so fancy, it made her giddily squeal when she first spied it in the store.

Her shirt was plain, a black, tight tee, it had a ruby neckline and sleeve edges. Across it was emblazoned: “Heart Reaper,” which Hinamori thought was utterly ironic. She adjusted what had bee mussed by the quick flight from gigai to soul form and stepped from the bushes, looking around to make sure no one was watching. When she was sure she was safe she walked silently back to the tent in the woods she had been “assigned.”

Rukia had used this tent when she was stationed there, before she came to live with Ichigo Kurosaki. The tent was large, and was comfortable, but very lonely. At least it was quiet, and it gave Hinamori more time to think than most people would ever ask for from any job.

She sat on the mattress, very plus and easy to fall asleep on, and she took off her shoes and socks. She sighed, and her skirt came next. In just a pair of canary yellow panties and her black top, Hinamori sat back down on the bed and finally reclined, pulling the bunny covered sheet over her and looking up at the roof of the tent.

The rain fly was always drawn on the tent, Hinamori learned to do that after the first rain soaked everything she had inside. The darkness of the small wooded area in which her tent was hidden was like a safe grove.

Hinamori waited a couple of minutes, as she did every night, before opening her eyes again and slipping her hands into the sheets. Hinamori stood still once more. Her face blushed after a moment and she whimpered, her eyes closed tight and then opened slowly, Hinamori turned on her side and fell asleep.

The next morning did not come quick enough for Hinamori, and before the sun had risen, she was sitting up in her bed, wiggling the sleep from her toes and legs. On her hands and knees she searched for something to wear, her bottom wiggled back and forth, as she searched here and there, finally finding a loose pair of black baggy pants. She slipped them on in a fumbling manner inside the tent before putting on her socks and shoes once more, stepping out onto the dew laden blades of grass just as the sun was rising.

“Good morning,” She said to herself, as if talking to the sun. She stretched her arms to the sky and checked her pink little phone that doubled as a hollow detector. There were no calls, and no hollows to be had. She actually sighed despondently, always-quite board in the morning, despite how mature she tried to act. Hitsugaya would reproach her for such behavior, and she would still call him “little whitey” instead of a proper term for someone of higher rank.

She found herself in the center of town by mid-day, not a hollow yet, unlike the three she had fought the day before. Hinamori had grown to indulging her gigai whose hunger was more wanting than needing. She walked into the bakery and sheepishly looked around. The storeowner’s daughter saw Hinamori walk in and began to wave.

“Hello Miss Hinamori!” She shouted, smiling with a smile as sweet as the donuts and cinnamon rolls on the shelves behind her. In the weeks Hinamori had been installed in Karakura town, she had come to bakery often, and was a regular sight to the girl standing behind the counter. She waved back; her smile was weak, not forced, but uneasy. She had a hard time connecting with people, especially mortals.

“Hello, I’ll just have the usual stuff today,” she said quickly, as low as she could, even though they were the only ones in the bakery. The girl nodded and set off to work.

“Here you go, Miss Hinamori, two donuts and a cinnamon bun,” She handed a white bag to Hinamori who blushed.

“Please, just Hinamori, or even Momo, its okay!” Hinamori said with that flush visage of hers. The baker’s daughter shook her head.

“No no! That would not be appropriate!” She said smiling brightly as Hinamori left the store, unable to curb her gigai’s craving, opening the bag, and sticking a donut in her mouth as she pushed out into the street and walked nonchalantly down the road.

By the time it was getting dark, a hollow had still not appeared yet, nor had she done anything of real merit. She had begun to read a book in the park, but did not really get interested and retired back to her tent early, sitting in the small area aside from the mattress, and pondering the day, and boredom. She wondered if there would be a hollow she could not handle soon, and what she would do in that situation. “Who would come to save me?” she thought, oddly enough, thinking about it with a smile.

Hinamori didn’t go to sleep right away; instead, she got on her jacket and went back outside, into the cool night and into the lit city, walking aimlessly in the busy Saturday night streets, feeling a little alone as she watched couples meander by. A sigh escaped her lips every so often as she found herself wandering past the busiest romantic restaurant in town. She saw all kinds of couples there ad loathed her lonely assignment more than ever.

With a great heaving sigh, Hinamori walked into a small convenience store and looked for something to buy. She settled on ramen, and walked to the front. The cashier noticed her not, and cared not as she handed him her meager stipend and she was on he way. Like many people, she sat in front of the convenience store and ate her ramen right there. It was spicy, not a favorite of hers, but it was better than some of the things she had tried, just for the sake of her gigai’s seemingly malfunctioning hunger.

As Hinamori finished her meal, another person not even a few blocks over was finishing hers and readying for bed. Inoue Orihime bowed to the picture of her older brother and pulled out her futon, she had a big Sunday ahead of her. Hinamori didn’t have much to do on days without hollows, but Orihime was always bubbly and busy, and Sundays were no exceptions to the rule.

So two heads touched pillows and their owners’ eyes closed. Hinamori actually forwent her usual nightly ritual and just feel asleep, somehow exhausted, even from that rather complacent, dull day.
 

 

Chapter 2: Enter Orihime

The day began on a not so sunny Sunday, as overcast clouds hung in the sky like a pall on a funeral procession. The damp trees ached as they swayed, and Hinamori was asleep and not waking up unless that alarm on her phone went off. However, on the other side of the town, it was the exact opposite for one carrot haired high schooler. There would be no hell or high water a tumult enough to keep Orihime from her Sunday. And so the clouds did block the rising sun on that morning and a stirring did happen in the Inoue residence.

The girl did take a while to get up when not in a hurry, she lifted her head and looked about the darkened room, thinking it to still be early at first, until she spied the alarm, and her eyes unwillingly opened a little wider. She squeezed a small plush kitty tightly before finally pulling back her blanket and sitting up.

Orihime wore only a pink pair of panties and a white t-shirt. She was someone who loved comfort more than anything in all she did. She sat up and in an un-lady-like, yet somehow cute manner, scratched her bottom, yawning the sleep from her eyes and lips. She got to her knees and fixed her bed before even worrying about clothes. No one else lived in the house, who was there to care? She finally stood up and walked to the outfit in the corner.

Unlike her usual outfit, Inoue had a long baby blue skirt and sun yellow shirt set out, along with her hairpin, as always. She took her time getting even these very easy clothes on. She watched herself in the mirror, as she often did. Not in a vain sort of way, but in an oddly observant sort of way, noting the cute or silly ways her body twisted or tightened as she moved. When she had completed this part of her ritual, it was time for a “nutritious” breakfast, or at least what Inoue thought is a nutritious breakfast.

Taking a bite of a loaf of bread, straight from the bread box, Orihime took out a small yogurt and the quart of milk and set herself to munching away, eventually drinking half the milk, eating half the bread, and downing the entire yogurt. “Yummy!” she exclaimed, her eyebrows perked and her visage alight as it always was. She grinned for a little while longer before getting a pseudo-serious face of determination upon her face.

Orihime got her shoes on and locked the door behind her, walking down the steps from her home and to the street. She took a deep breath and began to walk in her usual demeanor, but on the inside, she was raging. “It’s shopping day!” She told herself as if she was a huntress on the prowl and everything was game. Orihime, like most girls, adored shopping, but not just clothes shopping, she enjoyed all kinds of shopping. From getting butter to just picking up some toiletries, it all excited her, probably because of her chipper and bubbly attitude.

Orihime had a huge list today, socks, ice cream, milk, panties, and a new school outfit were among the many things on a list scrawled in an otherworldly handwriting hat looked as if it had been composed in a fever pitch.

Orihime’s first stop was the clothing store, it was closest to her house, and it carried all the things she would need in relation to clothes on her list. She walked in, giggling at the ringing of the bell as she entered the store. The old woman tailor saw her and immediately walked over, a school outfit in hand. “Here is the school outfit you had me tailor for you,, little Orihime,” The old lady said, a woman who had been a friend of Orihime’s brother and parents and had tailored most of the school outfits Orihime had ever worn.

Accepting the outfit, Orihime made her way to the undergarments section and selected the things she needed, new underwear, and some new socks, since all of hers had become “holy enough to work at the shrines,” as Orihime sometimes joked. Leaving the clothing store, it was time for Orihime to go food shopping. She didn’t need much, but it was enough to warrant a trip, and so she was off into town, to her favorite grocer.

It had not been long since her last visit, yet she was always overjoyed to be surrounded by so many goodies. She looked around the outside fruit stock before heading inside for the milk and other products she needed. Bread was first, and Inoue wanted something different. She looked around and finally found a loaf of Italian bread, something she didn’t have very often; it was a definite buy. Alongside that were more milk, and some fast cooking rice. When all of this was ready, including a nice bottle of ramune, Inoue paid and left the grocer, nearly done with her errands, only a few hours into her Sunday.

Orihime dropped all of her things off home, she had a few more, things to do this morning, and all of them were fun. A rumble in Inoue’s tummy came soon after she had restocked her refrigerator, and Inoue had a sudden craving for frozen yogurt and fruit. She knew a nice ice cream shop very close, and knew it would be a wonderful Sunday treat to stop in and get something to eat.

Again, she left her house; she zipped her jacket, a soft breeze throwing cold air through the street; papers, and leaves shivered down the block as the wind subsided. Without a second thought, she walked down the stairs again and headed back into town, arriving at her favorite ice creamery not long after. A huge grin came over her, looking over all the flavors listed in the display case, each more tantalizing than the last, so much so she could not choose jus one.

“Strawberry and chocolate-vanilla swirl, please,” She said, arresting a line of drool that peeked over the edge of her mouth. The main obliged, taking a large, delicious looking waffle cone and running a mound of delicious strawberry and swirl into her cone. As he did, Orihime spoke up, “Fruit topping please,” she added, her eyes growing wider than the opening of the cone.

As she took one more look at the cone in process, it reached her hand, and the yen reached the man behind the counter’s hand. He looked at Orihime with disdain, not at her, but at the prospect of his own job of serving kids ice cream. He tried to crack a smile as she left but was unable to; even with Orihime’s sugary, “Goodbye!” as she left the store.

Orihime paid the dreary creamery man no mind, sitting on a small bench outside the ice cream shop, licking on her cone as if it were summer and he heat would soon reduce it too nothing but a milky soup. Each lick brought her a brain freeze at that pace, and she soon found herself swooning, holding her head cutely.

“Owwie, owwie, ice cream headache,” She whimpered like a scalded child, which suited her usual demeanor. With a little more griping, she stood up. “Gotta get moving,” she said, as if her next activity was of vital importance. She hurried off, yogurt in hand.

Inoue was in the arcade a few minute later, her cone was finished, her hands slightly sticky from the dredges of it when she had just about finished. She stood over a game machine and looked quite engrossed, playing merrily, inserting loose change from her coat pocket at times when she lost, no a frown at any point. Orihime loved these mindless little diversions, win or lose, and would save a week’s pocket change for a couple of hours at the arcade on Sundays.

It was there that Orihime was to be found for the next three hours, going from machine to machine and having her fill of silliness and fun for the day. Well, for this part of the day, at least. When she had put in her last coin and lost her last man, she sighed. “Poo, that was my last man,” She said unhappily, straightening her jacket and pulling down on her skirt so that it fit more comfortably, it had ridden up her waist when she was playing that seated racing game, she had gotten into it quite a bit.

Orihime exited the arcade, her mind elsewhere, off in wonderland, where it, many times, was to be found. She giggled to herself here and there, taking the scenic route home through the park. She strolled idly, just looking around at the leaves of the trees, still green, but losing their vitality for the crisp coolness of autumn. Places like this made Orihime most at home, even when she felt alone and at odds with the world.

She had her usual, elated grin plastered to her visage as she took each step and savored it, very antithetical to how she ate her yogurt cone earlier. Totally spaced out, she just enjoyed the latter half of her afternoon, considering this Sunday a remarkable success and perfect time spent, as she usually did. Only when she was wholly engrossed did she even notice another presence in the park. It was faint but it was obvious, it was a shinigami.

“Must be Rukia’s replacement,” She thought, thinking to Rukia and Ichigo for a moment, remember the past couple of months. “We’ve all been overworked,” She said with a sigh. “I hope Rukia enjoys her time off with Ichigo…” Orihime said, referring to the small vacation Ichigo was taking, during the fall break, with Rukia. They had gone to Soul Society. Orihime didn’t know the shinigami whose reiatsu she could feel and thought that must be because they were in a gigai, that miniscule presence belied another equally faint power drifting on the wind.

This power was much less overt, much more incognito, mixing with local sources, even in the open. This was the reiatsu of a powerful hollow, almost a Gillian type. But Orihime didn’t even feel it, too preoccupied with daydreams and insignificant observations. Hopefully Hinamori had felt this as well.
 

 

Chapter 3: The Fight Inside the Impure Pall!

Orihime was home and sitting down as six o’clock struck on the clock in the main room of her house. She sighed and sipped at a little bit of tea as she turned on the television and proceeded to watch cartoons. The lingering presence she had not felt before had disappeared totally; it was silent in Karakura town, despite it being not even all that dark. Orihime yawned complacently; she scratched at the back of her head and opened up a manga near the desk, reading with less than enthusiasm.

In the park, Hinamori stood outside her tent, flexing after a mid afternoon nap. Having been asleep, she missed the presence of the hollow from before. She looked around hesitantly before exiting the thing wood where she was hidden. The park was not dark, but besides one couple near the edge of the street, there was no one around, it was obviously an early Sunday for most people.

“No hollows today, none yesterday… I don’t like this,” Hinamori said to herself with that usual foreboding, downer attitude she was known for since Aizen’s betrayal. Her hair was tied back in the usual bun and she wore the same clothes from the day before, not caring much, since it was just her gigai and not her actual body. With a sigh and a deep breath, she took herself to the edge of the park and stared out around her, still nothing.

Shaking her phone, as if it were lying to her, she despondently frowned. Her body was impatient, even the gigai was responding to her wariness of the lack of hollows about. It was not odd for a day to go by without one hollow, but two was not very common, hollows always hungered, and their number was innumerable. It was quite unreasonable to think that none would appear in two days, especially in a city with many people, and many spiritually adept people, at that.

Hinamori’s head ached for a moment, and she knew not why, she found herself panting, on her knees, shaking with a cold sweat, as if the air had been choked out of her. She reeled, feeling as though she had been hit like last night once more. Everything shook, a dense reiatsu was evident, her phone was chirping madly, in a captain obvious tone. Hinamori quickly stood up; she couldn’t believe the immense spirit pressure descending so quickly. A part of her wanted to run in the opposite direction, but knowing her duty, she hurried back to her tent and separated soul from gigai.

Bounding from the treetops, to the building, unseen by the people below, Hinamori dove and jumped to where the signal and pressure was quickly increasing. A hollow wasn’t there yet, it was so powerful that it merely coming to earth was causing its power to display itself. Finally, Hinamori saw it, a gigantic, ominous black cloud, and a crack in the sky, ripped open by the hands of a giant hollow.

The arms of it came out first, its mask breached the sky as it force its way between the barrier of Hueco Mundo and the human world. Finally, it ripped through all the way, and as it did, it let out an unearthly, roar, unlike any she had ever heard from a hollow. It was blood curdling, shaking earth, and soul in one motion. The spiritual pressure increased tenfold, sending Hinamori’s pulse alight. She gripped her blade.

Standing more colossal than a two-story building, the color of lime-scaled slate, and a mask that resembled the face of the most frightening demons one could imagine, streaking with red as only the most powerful non-arrancar hollows were. This hollow had yellow eyes behind its mask, and it pierced everything it bore on. The entire world seemed to fit inside its massive ocular cavities. Hinamori could only shake, she suddenly felt out-matched.

The hollow initially paid no mind to Momo, opening its mouth behind the mask and letting out what seemed to be a sigh at first. It lasted a moment before it was evident that it was not a sigh at all, but something far more forbidding. A thick green miasma spilled forth from around the edges of the mask, spilling into the street, as Hinamori jumped upon a building to avoid it. It spoke not, noting Hinamori for the first time; it only bore its eyes at her with carnal, vicious, and devilish ferocity and intent. A hand extended, and Hinamori moved.

“Snap! Tobiume!” She shouted as her sword releasing as she tumbled to the roof of another building. The hollow did not seem intent on mindless destruction, and moved its hand before crushing the building, turning to meet a barrage of energy blasts from Tobiume, while Hinamori jumped from building to building, making sure not to fall to the green smoke below, which she knew would mean certain death to any individual who breathed it.

Her blasts crashed harmlessly on the titanic hollow, it’s seemingly diamond strength skin making it impossible to pierce, even with her incredible kido ability. So she knew it would be only a direct and powerful slash to the mask that would bring down this slow, but incredibly powerful looking hollow. It growled low in its throat, from behind the mask, this made it echo and sound terribly distant and foreboding. The hollow’s body moved suddenly, and quickly, nearly grabbing Hinamori as she ducked and grabbed onto its arm, diving her sword into its armor-like skin to stay on.

When it had stopped moving to use its other hand to grab at Hinamori, she ran up its forearm, expending kido in flash steps, until she jumped right at its mask. Time stood still, she moved closer at what seemed like a snails pace, and her hands raised Tobiume high above her head, ready to cut down. But as she neared to swing down the sword of her soul, a flash of yellow came from the eyes of the hollow.

A crimson hair that looked as if it were made of tentacles, breathing that same green miasma, rose from behind the towering mask of the hollow, just as Hinamori had swung her sword. A blade of red light careened towards its mark as tentacles raced at theirs, it seemed like a clash, and almost all of the attacking arms of hair were destroyed, but one hand slithered past, and as the blast from Tobiume hit the mask of the hollow, so did the green smoking red tentacle pierce Hinamori’s stomach. She flopped in midair, hitting a building, choking on her own air as she fumbled to breathe.

It all at once hurt so bad, Hinamori could not take it, she could not cry, she could not move as her body flailed on its own accord, voiding itself, and surely Hinamori thought she would die there. She closed her eyes and saw Aizen; her heart lifted and scorned itself at the same time, elated to see the one that had tried to murder her. But unabashed she began to move into the light, only to feel something pull at her hand, pulling her back.

She opened her eyes and was veiled by an orange glow. She blinked for a moment, her stomach hurt, but not all so badly.

“Miss Hinamori, thank goodness! I thought it was too late!” Orihime said, standing upon the building Hinamori had collapsed. She did not know when or how Inoue had joined her, but she had been saved. Hinamori looked behind Inoue, the hollow was still there, but it was in a fit of rage, unable to see because of its sundered eye area, caused by Hinamori’s attack.

“Orihime, that hollow…it is a menos…” Hinamori said, weakly, the poison still coursing through her. The Soten Kisshun, her magical regenerative field, was being interfered with by the reiatsu of the hollow, and it did not seem like it could nullify the poison even if it had sealed the wound. Orihime did not waiver in the face of the now blinded, enormous hollow as it stomped around, causing cratered impressions in the street. “Orihime, its mask is weak….” Hinamori said lastly, passing out as a new wave of pain from the poison came over her.

It had been a while, but Orihime was not scared, she had fought hollows before, and she had gotten stronger, and more iron-willed than she had ever been. She stood still; the hollow’s tentacles were searching the area for prey, and finally locked on Hinamori and Orihime. Inoue gulped and got ready. She was not nervous, wasn’t scared, she put her hands forward.

“Tsubaki, come forth!” She called, and from her small hairpiece came the rowdy black garbed fairy. He immediately kicked Orihime in the head with his tiny booted foot.

“Whats with keeping me locked up for so damned long you crazy bitch!” He yelled, berating Orihime as he usually did when summoned, his anger, and lust for striking knew no bounds. Hinamori had grown strong; she grabbed Tsubaki with a gentle hand and guided his view to the hollow. He stopped protesting at last. “Finally, this is what I’m talking about!” He yelled.

“Alright Tsubaki,” Orihime began, the hollow had become focused enough to stop its writing at last. Its tentacles at the ready, green smoke billowing into the sky without let up, it turned the entire overcast night sky to a pale green above them. “Tsubaki, the mask, go around the tentacles and hit the mask, full force, he’s slow, and huge, there’s no way he can stop you,” Orihime said confidently, her confidence not one to hide doubt, but strong and firm, and actually made of inner strength rather than self reassurance.

“Alright,” He answered; this was a short response for the heady fairy.

The hollow raged, the tentacles zeroed in on Orihime, and a giant hand came down on her, she waited, it closed in, and she waited. The moment of imminent impact came, and she grinned.

“Tsubaki! Koten Zanshun….I reject!” Inoue shouted at long last; the black little man becoming a flaming orange glow, ripping through the hand of the armored hollow and tearing apart all the tentacles that dared come near. It approached the mask of the hollow the again, time stood still. A large red orb suddenly appeared as victory was in reach. A cero, it was, the most powerful of hollow attacks, a concentrated blast of evil reiatsu, supreme, nearly unblockable. But Orihime did not waiver, and neither did Tsubaki. Time seemed to clap back together.

A flash of light came; Tsubaki barreled right through the fledgling cero before it could be ready to fire, and struck the mask of the hollow. For a moment nothing happened, until a yellow light streamed from the crushed eye holes of the hollow, pouring outward as an orange beam and finally exploding, awash in green blood-like ooze, from the back of the hollow’s cranium. Tsubaki had done it.

The hollow was mortally wounded, but it did not fade away, it fell backwards, through a portal it ripped with its last bit of strength, like a terrible nightmare, it was gone, and its aftertaste upon waking was the poison still inside its initial target. Orihime was not concerned with the hollow, in its condition, even if it did live, not even the regenerative atmosphere of Hueco Mundo would heal it fast enough for it to be bothering them any time soon, her real concern was now on Momo and her increasingly worsening state.

Orihime stood on that roof for almost fifteen minutes, concentrating all her power into repressing the toxin. But there was no avail; she could not banish its power totally. So Hinamori found herself in Orihime’s amazingly strong arms, being whisked to the park, where Orihime had sometimes seen her, and not initially remembered who she was.

It did not take that long at all, the breeze to their back and the cool night enveloped them as Orihime entered the park. When there Hinamori finally found the power to open her eyes and say something. She could faintly smell her campsite, and direly wanted to get back in her gigai, hoping it would stem the obvious reiatsu drain caused by the hollow’s deadly humor.

“Orihime?” Hinamori rasped gently as a drizzle permeated the clouds from above and dripped with little “plips” and “plops” upon the sidewalk and ground.

“Yes, Miss Hinamori?” Orihime asked, her eyes were averted, for a moment, up to the sky, being hit by droplets of the angels’ tears.

“My gigai….its just in front of us…in the woods…” was all Hinamori was able to say before her eyes widened with excruciation, the pain subsided, but Hinamori’s eyes closed I earnest and she was out cold. She would not wake for some time, not when put in her gigai, and not throughout the entire ride back to Orihime’s abode.

“You’re not sleeping in a tent while you’re injured,” Orihime said, mostly just talking to herself, knowing Hinamori could not hear her when she was unconscious. She hoisted her light, clingy load a little higher, as they crossed the threshold into the home Orihime called her own.

Wiping her brow, and trying to put everything else out of her mind, Orihime made an extra bed for her new roommate, and then went about getting ready to continue treatment of the poison.
 

 

Chapter 4: The Symptoms Build

Orihime worked all through the night, and got Hinamori as comfortable as she could, making sure the extra futon was fluffed and cozy. She had not so much as heard a peep from her all night, and it was a bit unnerving. Orihime wished she had gotten there sooner. If she had been there a minute before hand, maybe Hinamori would not be in this state. There was no more cursing herself over it would do. She had her sleeves rolled up high and was trying to bring down a fever that was turning Momo’s delicate face a shade of scarlet.

What truly unnerved Orihime were the things that Hinamori was saying in her restless sleep. She cried out, turning this way and that in an uncomfortable manner. Not even rest was a sanctuary for her, under the pain of the poison. “Aizen, Aizen!” Hinamori called out as Orihime was dabbing her forehead. This shocked Inoue, and she tumbled backwards onto her bottom.

“Oww…” Orihime muttered gently, messaging her bottom for a moment, still intently listening to her patient.

“Aizen, my dear Aizen, please don’t leave me…” Hinamori’s voice came out rasp, pained, and in shock. From what Orihime had heard about the events that had transpired between them, it seemed like these dreams would be nothing but suffering. Orihime tried in vain to wake Hinamori from her slumber, but it was obviously poison induced, and it did not seem like Hinamori would be getting up that night.

Orihime did not notice the time, finally seeing it and gasping. It was three in the morning, and Hinamori’s condition had not let up. A guttural sigh escaped Orihime. She coarsely wrung her hands, mad at herself for not being able to do anything. She had stabilized her patient, but could do nothing to fully neutralize the poison.

“Hinamori looks okay, I should try to get some sleep as well,” Orihime surmised, pulling her own futon closer to Momo’s and getting on it, adjusting her pillow. Her carrot head hit the pillow exhaustedly, and she nearly passed out right there. Before she did, she managed to turn on her side, facing Hinamori, just in case.

Inoue’s eyes closed, she sluggishly tried to stay asleep one more moment, but could not muster the ability. Finally, she gave in, letting her brow droop, and instantly snoring, quite placated at long last, after a night of much toil. Her sleep was much less troubled than the one of the little shinigami next to her. And though she slept through the entire morning and almost to the stroke of noon, Hinamori found not solace, nor rest in her sleep.

Waking over fifteen hours after her injury, Momo looked about the room, and she suddenly knew not where she was. She whipped her head about in a bewildered manner before seeing the red head of her hostess. Finally, she could feel the memory return, the hollow, the rescue, and even all the work Orihime had done the night before.

Even as she could feel the poison burn in her veins as she got to her feet, Hinamori tried to stumble for the exit, not wishing to trouble the girl who had worked so very hard to take care of her. She didn’t want to be worried over any longer, a pride she had developed since Aizen’s departure. It was more of a façade, and her fear of being left behind once more, but it still force Hinamori to her feet and hobbling.

Orihime was already awake; she had just been lying on her opposite side since almost ten in the morning, thinking and making small observations with Hinamori’s breathing. The pained and severely interfered gait of the footsteps was quite apparent to Orihime, who switched sides once more and addressed Hinamori.

“I won’t let you leave, Miss Hinamori,” She said in a grave tone, like a doctor to a patient whom professed their wellness throughout excruciating pain. Hinamori froze to the spot, finally turning around with a shamed blush.

“Please….I am well…” She tried, but was immediately cut off by Orihime, who stood quietly and walked in a motivated step, towards Hinamori.

“No more of this silliness, you are not well, and you will not sleep in a cold tent while you are ill!” Inoue’s voice was stern, she had Hinamori by the shoulders and gently helped her back to the bed, but they did not get that far before the sound of water hitting the floor was obviously. Hinamori could only blush, knowing what she was doing and not able to control it. Orihime however had to look down and see what the matter was.

“I am irrevocably sorry, and ashamed, please…please let me clean up this mess,” Hinamori ventured, but found herself in Orihime’s motherly hold once more. She eased Hinamori to the futon.

“No, its fine, please lie down, do not worry about your wetness, we will get you washed as soon as I have cleaned this,” and without disgust, Orihime took her scrub brush from the underside of the sink and began to dig it into the carpet, cleaning it of the small puddle Momo had made. Orihime had noticed it the night before, when she rescued Hinamori, how she was totally soiled in shinigami form when she found her. She did not seem to find this too odd, considering the strength of the toxins at work, toxins that permeated body and soul.

When the entire carpet expanse that had been moistened was cleaned, Hinamori once more was in Orihime’s hands, being lead to the bathroom. Feebly she tried to fight Orihime’s hands as they innocently took off skirt and shirt. But in the end, Hinamori was much too weak, too weak to walk straight, to fight her hands, and as evident from before, too weak to hold her bladder, even in gigai form.

Orihime’s cheeks were rosy as she helped a stripped Hinamori into the bath and sat turned on the water. “Please sit down when you can and adjust the water to your liking. But don’t stress yourself with trying to wash, I will be back with shampoo from the kitchen,” Hinamori could not protest before Orihime had left, rushing to the kitchen.

Inoue only found the courage to return after she heard the water shut off. She gathered her courage in the form of a deep, deep breath, and finally walked into the steamy bathroom. Her sleeves were rolled up and she gently lowered herself to the edge of the tub, kneeling beside Hinamori. “I will be as gentle as possible,” Orihime said politely.

“Thank you….thank you for going through so much trouble for me…” Hinamori whispered, extremely guarded and shy at the moment. Her blush was indistinct, blending with the redness of her warmed skin.

Orihime closed her eyes and grabbed the loofah; she squeezed the multi-purpose body and hair care shampoo onto the small body puff and began to message a thick lather into Hinamori’s skin. When her naught bits were covered in foam, Orihime once more opened her eyes and now, with the distractions and private areas hidden, she began to wash Hinamori’s hair and back.

“Not to sound rude, Miss Hinamori, but you do not seem to keep your gigai in the best of condition…I do not think living in a tent in the woods is the best place for a lady shinigami…” Orihime didn’t like seeing people in disrepair, her motherly, overly loving instincts kicked in and she feverishly would begin doting and taking care of them, as she was doing now. “Please lean back,” Orihime said after a moment of scrubbing Hinamori's scalp. She dipped Momo’s raven-covered head into the water, cleansing it of dead skin and suds.

“Thank you…” Hinamori whimpered again, still feeling woozy, and grievously in Orihime’s debt as the plug was pulled and Inoue helped Hinamori from the water.

“Don’t mention it,” Orihime said, not feeling much like having someone owe her something. She helped Hinamori to the center of the bathroom and began to dry her off, halfway through however came the same pattering sound and that same mark of redness across Hinamori’s face. Orihime did not need to look this time; all she did was waiting for the sound to cease before dropping the used towel to the ground. “Do not worry…” She said, quieting Hinamori before she could speak.

Hinamori felt Orihime’s eyes on her bare legs and she turned a darker crimson, it covered her body and she felt immensely warm. “Am I soiled once again?” She asked with a feeble voice, unable to articulate with Orihime so close to her bare frame.

“You are fine, but this poison’s effect on you will not do, we cannot be cleaning up puddles, and we surely cannot stop you from getting plenty of liquids…” Orihime trailed off. Finally, she pulled a large shirt she had gotten from her drawer, over Hinamori’s bare body. The large pink t-shirt covered all of Hinamori’s private regions, extending down to her thighs.

Orihime ushered Momo out of the bathroom, making sure to get her to the futon before letting go. “Please lay down, I must find something,” Orihime went off to look through a box of old clothes for something. She knew it was still there, she had not sold any of the sentimental clothing from her younger days, and finally her face of scrutiny was dissolved when she reached the bottom of the box.

Hinamori tried to see what Orihime was holding, but when she saw it, she still would not believe it. “I am not bed-wetter Momo any longer!” she protested suddenly and without volition. She quieted herself and apologized to Orihime. “I am sorry, old memories…” Orihime was taken aback a moment, but knelt down anyway.

“Yes, I understand she said,” setting down the pieces of cloth. “These will not do, for long, I was sure I had more than one set…” she said to herself and then looked up. “Please bear this until I can go out and get proper garments for this,” she said, showing Hinamori the bunny covered pink diaper cover. “I wore these when I was about ten; I wet the bed a little in those days,”

Hinamori bowed her head, turning puce; she too had wet the bed, though for a much longer stint than until she was ten. She had almost graduated the shinigami academy before the nickname “bed-wetter Momo” was obsolete. “I…do not…” she began to protest, before she knew it would do no good. She shook her head. “Never mind,” she said with reluctance, truly wanting to refuse the cloth diaper.

“I am deeply sorry,” Orihime said with an uncharacteristic frown. She piled the cloth inserts atop the diaper cover and gently eased Hinamori into a fully reclined position. “I will preserve as much dignity as I can for you,” she reassured, slipping the diaper under Hinamori who was turning a darker shade of red by the moment. It was only as Orihime folded the cover up that Momo removed her hands from her middle.

She could hear the snaps, though she closed her eyes tight and wished it were not real, she could feel the drawstrings make the top of the cover snug. And though it was repulsive to think she had fallen back to that degrading nickname, there was still that bit of Hinamori that was glad she was alive at this moment to feel this shame, and grateful to be cared for by someone. Without Orihime she would surely not be worrying about wearing a diaper, she would be dead.

“Thank you…may I rest now…Orihime?” Hinamori said in a fragmented mix of shame and restless tiredness.

“Yes you may, I must go out and get some better diap…I mean protective underwear anyway, just you rest…” Orihime said, catching herself before saying the soul disheartening “d” word. Hinamori would barely have suffered from the word, but it was her promise to preserve as much of Hinamori’s pride as she could.
 

Chapter 5: Mommy Orihime

Orihime stepped out the door just after she knew Hinamori was no longer awake. She could not retain a deep and unhappy sigh. She didn’t like making people uncomfortable, and by the moment, she felt worse and worse for having made Hinamori wear the diaper. However, something inside had felt very good when she was diapering Hinamori. She had felt the same thing when she was washing Hinamori as well. Something about caring for someone was more than just satisfying, or invigorating. It was fun, so very amusing to see even that complacent smile or apprehensive blush on Hinamori's face as she let Orihime do what she figured Orihime thought was right.

Inoue found new strength as she took the steps down two at a time, hitting the street with a springy step, making for the drug store. She didn’t know what she would be looking for. She’d never bought diapers for anyone; she hoped she wouldn’t screw it up. Being the ditz she was, Orihime was counting on a miracle that she could pick up the right things, and not have to make another trip, leaving Hinamori unguarded ad unattended.

The streets were cold, damp and the smell of wet pavement permeated the air and everything around it. The overcast clouds made midday seem like twilight. It wasn’t as depressing as you would think, at least for Orihime it wasn’t. She strolled nonchalantly down the block, into town, and eventually to where all of her usual stores were lined up. She knew almost every proprietor, or at the very least, an employee in the store. She hoped that the drug store check out clerk would not be one of those people she knew. Then again, she didn’t know the schedules of everyone she had ever met, so it was a risk that was unavoidable.

With a deep, bracing breath, Orihime walked down the rest of the street. She took her time and window-shopped in the other stores before finally stopping at the pharmacy. She cased the joint from the window, seeing if she could make out a floor plan before going on in. Like a sneaky little thief she made a visual map of the floor plan, blacking out in her heads all of the places she knew diapers were not, to minimize he chance of actually needing to ask where they were, or worse, looking nervous in getting them.

Finally, a hand extended and wrapped around the handle of the door. It was cold and foreboding; it only made Inoue more nervous than she already was. She took one more deep breath, her arm pulled at the door and it would not budge. She pulled again and nothing. She exhaustedly and embarrassedly saw the word “push” written window near the handle. She visibly reddened before pushing the door in. The shop smelled like vitamins and makeup, just like most pharmacies. But the smell overwhelmed her, making it a bit hard to think. She couldn’t figure out why she was so nervous. The diapers weren’t for her!

When the wave of trepidation had passed, Orihime found herself in the cosmetics aisle. She looked left and right at the end of the small row and finally walked down from the back of the store, where most people would not see her. Inoue looked down each aisle with a nervous stare. Even though the store was only sparsely filled, Orihime’s every steps felt like they were impeded by lead shoes. She picked up her feet only for them to slam back down against the floor in fear. At last, when her head turned for the fifth time, she could see the packages with figures of protective briefs on them. She took an inch closer to make sure they were not for babies and then inched ever closer into the aisle.

She closed her eyes and finally took a big step into the aisle. She opened them to look upon the packages. Lots of blues and greens, she was actually surprised her fear of the aisle would be so contradicted by the pleasing pastels. For once, her apprehension was put to rest, with renewed vitality she set to the task at hand, as she had undertaken all the other set before her. She looked at each package, gauging thickness, and sizing. She thought back, comparing her own hips with Hinamori’s.

“I would be a large…” she said holding the package, inspecting its measurements with interest. “Then to be safe, it would be wise to get Hinamori the medium, just incase small would be a little too tight or uncomfortable,” She nodded to herself with this realization and went one shelf lower. She peeked around for a medium. Finally, her hands closed around the medium package. She inspected it like the others, to make sure it was the same make and brand. She compared it to the ones above it. Tapes, waistband, absorption level, all were identical to the larger model. These would do.

Now the hard part came, and in a way, Orihime was once more stricken with an unsettling inability to act with confidence. She gulped deeply, and as quickly as she had kicked off the leaden boots, she had reapplied them, inching towards the counter as if the diapers weighed tons. She limped like that for the length of an aisle before one of the clerks saw her, and that blush on her face. The girl, no older than Orihime, came over, smiling cheerfully. “Is this all?” She asked, taking the package from Orihime.

Without being able to protest, there only a sudden look of shock that faded to a questioning on Orihime’s face. “Umm…I’ll get the few other things I need…” Orihime answered shakily. She found herself in the food section; getting chicken soup and then some aspirin, with a bit of hesitation, she grabbed baby wipes as well, knowing that would speed changes. Finally, as if the weight had been lifted again, she walked to the awaiting clerk, who had already scanned the diapers.

“Anything else?” The girl asked, looking up as complacently and disarmingly as anything. Inoue could not be nervous with that uncaring smile at her.

“Nope!” Orihime blurted suddenly, a minor blush appearing.

“Okay then…” The cashier said simply, showing Orihime the total, to which she promptly paid, relieved to see the black plastic bag, a bag that no one could see through, making the walk home a lot less difficult then it would have been with a pack of diapers easily visible through a clear plastic bag.

Gripping the bag, as if holding it any looser would cause it to open and spill the contents on the wet pavement, Orihime briskly paced down the blocks to her house. She tried not looking to either side, or taking the time to take in the scent of the air, as she normally did. She was not accustomed to walking like this, so rigidly, unnaturally, and in such a hurry. She was used to the flowing, graceful dash of being late to school, or the ambient, lazy meander of an after school afternoon, but this hurry unsettled her, and she finally calmed her pace, trying to relax. She didn’t know what she had to be hurrying for, maybe she was nervous, or maybe…for some reason…excited.

Orihime took the steps slower than she had coming up. She reached the top and was suddenly out of breath, it was like the stairs had quadrupled in number. Orihime felt kicked in the chest, so worn out, so quickly. With a weary hand, she looked at her watch. She’d not been out even an hour, and so she felt as if she’d hurried back just for the sake of being next to Hinamori again. It was an odd feeling, but she didn’t mind it, and made to turn her key in the door.

Inoue expected an empty house, thinking Hinamori might have left, but there she lay, sleeping gently. Orihime got a bit closer and looked over Momo. She was breathing a little more stably, but her breaths were raspy and laborious. She tossed and turned gently. The shirt Orihime had given her had ridden up considerably. The pink diaper stared at Orihime, the cute bunnies were reassuring, just as they were when Orihime was the one wearing the diaper. She smiled and sat against the wall near the bed.

For an hour or so, Orihime just stared at Hinamori. She would move a piece of hair from her face, or pull up the sheets now and then, when Hinamori would disturb them with her movements. It was almost five when Hinamori finally stirred once more. Her eyes opening with a weariness matching how Orihime had looked upon arriving home. She sat up, the thickness of the diaper alerting and embarrassing her anew. She did not fret long.

Hinamori shook her head a little and stretched. She could feel a cool moistness on her as she did. The diaper was considerably wet. Hinamori didn’t bother even getting upset over it. It was foolish to cry over actually using a diaper for the purpose in which it was assigned, no matter how much she did not want to have done it. Orihime had noticed Hinamori by now, she was on her feet, kneeling beside Hinamori just as she had done before.

“Feeling better?” Orihime ventured, handing Hinamori what she knew would be a well-appreciated glass of water. Hinamori accepted, wiping her brow of a cold sweat that had become apparent as Hinamori’s movements caused a comforting breeze to overtake her. Momo could only blush as she contemplated Orihime’s question.

“Ummm….I’m…just a little….ya know….umm,” Hinamori tripped over her words. Orihime looked over Hinamori with a keen glance.

“Wet?” Orihime asked, putting one finger to her cheek, speaking before thinking, then turning red as she put her hands over her mouth.

“Mmhm…” Momo admitted, poking the t-shirt back down over the diaper, even though that would only impede changing it, in the long run.

“Don’t you worry, I bought some more…ya know…” Orihime said with a smile. To this Hinamori blushed and laid herself on the bed.

“You can call them diapers…that is what they are,” Hinamori said with a bit of courage, raising the shirt, finding no reason to truly fear being around, or seen by Orihime, the same person that had healed and dressed her wounds, cleaned her soiled body, and even diapered her the first time.

“Yes…I went and got more diapers…as well as some soup, and medicine to ease your pain,” Inoue stated, slowly pulling on the strings keeping the diaper snug. When she was finished, she undid the metal grommets on the cloth diaper.

“Soup sounds very nice, thank you for going to all this trouble for me…” Hinamori said with her first smile in a while. She felt the fresh air touch her bare skin as the sodden diaper inserts fell off of her loins.

“No, don’t you worry one bit, it’s the thing any moral person would do, I could not just have left you there, injured and poisoned, that would have been very bad!” Orihime cooed, taking hold of a wipe from the box, gently sweeping the region above Hinamori’s tender private areas. Swallowing her apprehension, Inoue too her hand and moved it down lower, making sue to rub Hinamori's backside and center clean of any residue, ensuring no rashes.

Hinamori could only gasp and nod as the cool wipe made her skin tingle with goosebumps and feel ever so warm at the same time. Before she could even detest the idea of the diaper, Orihime was sliding it under her bottom. The thickness of this diaper was much less compared to the super-bulky cloth one, but the padding was so much more soft and inviting, actually making Hinamori unable to complain too much, on the inside as, the diaper was brought up over her. She heard the snap and crinkles of the tapes, and finally as she felt the small pressures on her abdomen cease.

Orihime looked over her work. The diaper was straight and the tapes were almost perfectly symmetrical. She helped Hinamori back into a sitting position, making sure she looked comfortable.

“If you would like not to look at the diaper every time you sit up…I have pajama bottoms…” Orihime offered.

“No…it is alright, I would not wish to complicate changing with extra clothing to get in your way,” Hinamori said courteously, just as her stomach began to rumble. “But if it would not be too much trouble…that soup would be really nice right now,” Hinamori stated, blushing at the boldness of her tummy.

“Okay, then. You rest now, Hinamori, you may sit up at the table if you like. And don’t worry one bit about having to be changed…I’ll do that for you,” Orihime instructed, handing Hinamori two aspirin with the little leftovers of her glass of water. “Take these; they will make the pain a little duller. I will go off and make the soup now; I think we are both very hungry!” Orihime said with exuberance, getting into the motherly role with an ease only she could have expected of herself. “Behave yourself, Miss Hinamori,” Orihime said with mock seriousness, making the two of the giggle giddily, as if the pall of sadness was slowly lifting.
 

Chapter 6: Baby Hinamori

Much time had not past when the smell of soup filled the small apartment. Orihime had abandoned her kooky manner of cooking in lieu of a more traditional approach. She knew Hinamori could not get better if she was afraid of the food she was being served.

With more or less blissful silence, Hinamori laid her heavy hands on the tabletop, staring around the room. She had a habit of looking at the back of the person hosting her at the time. Her eyes were most fixated on a bushy bunch of orange hair peeking out from the kitchen.

Hinamori was able to break her intense gaze and continue to peer around the room inquisitively. Her eyes darted from wall to wall in the warm colored living area. Hinamori found herself looking at the picture of Orihime’s brother that stood, as always, upon a small bookshelf. Hinamori realized that anyone kneeling would be directly facing the picture, and it dawned on her that it was a sort of shrine to Orihime’s departed sibling. She was so entranced in her gaze, that Hinamori did not notice Inoue sit at the far side of the table and setting a pitcher and a bowl of soup near her.

“That’s my brother,” Orihime said just loud enough to alert Hinamori, whom whipped her ahead about to pretend like she had not been staring at the picture.

“Ah, I thought so,” Hinamori whispered bashfully. She took a deep breath and could smell the soup. “Smells delicious,” She remarked, taking hold of a spoon near her. As she lifted her arm, a spasm ran through the muscle. She dropped the spoon frantically and grabbed at her pained appendage. However, as she did that, her other arm spasmed as well. This flaring sensation had Hinamori rolling back and forth. Orihime sprung from her place and crawled to her injured friend.

“Miss Hinamori?! Are you okay?” She asked with a frantic yelp, sitting Hinamori up against her. She looked over the invalid shinigami.

“It’s only a spasm,” Momo muttered, feeling utterly powerless, and helpless to her situation. Orihime sighed and rubbed Hinamori’s arms gently. Hinamori tried to protest. “Really, its okay!” She tried to move her arms again, only to be doubled back over in pain.

“Shhhh…” Orihime cooed, continuing to stroke those tender, disabled arms. Hinamori no longer protested, she merely closed her eyes and whimpered ever so gently. Small tears brimmed her eyes.

“I’m just a burden….I should just go back to Soul Society,” She cried, in her mind, having overstepped the welcome of her stay in Inoue’s home.

“Nonsense, they can do no better to heal you than I can, if my powers cannot reverse the poison, then there is no salve or antidote in all of Soul Society that can, you’re no better there,” Orihime said, closing the case on that permanently. Hinamori frowned, knowing she was right.

“But…I’m…” Hinamori started, until a soft palm covered her lips.

“No buts, Miss Hinamori,” Inoue said firmly, but with a tone that was like lace and silk to Momo’s ears.

“Yes’m,” Hinamori said obediently, not even noticing how easily Orihime had pacified her usually unruly nature.

Orihime had just removed her hand when she slid the two of them up to the table, pulling the bowl of soup closer. “Don’t worry, just hold still,” She told her patient, dipping the spoon into the soup and bringing it to Hinamori’s mouth.

For a second Hinamori did not want to eat, feeling quite childish having to be fed, and thought it would be better if she didn’t eat, if this was the price. But her closed lips were soon parted by a tingly sensation at her sides. Orihime tickled her gently, and when those strained and stress-bitten lips opened, the spoon of warm soup went in. Hinamori tasted it, it was so warm and well balanced, much more than a canned soup, it was obvious Orihime had tried very hard to make it as best as she could.

The next spoonful arrived unimpeded, and the next and the next; this procedure endured until the bowl was half-empty. Hinamori checked back on Orihime’s smiling face every few seconds, and was only reassured all the more each time. When the soup was just a mere puddle in the bowl, Orihime pushed it aside from behind Hinamori and poured her a cup of water from the pitcher she had set up earlier.

“Here, you need to keep up your fluids,” Inoue said, bringing the cup to Hinamori’s face.

Hinamori drank deep; the cool water filled her, making her tummy feel even fuller. Pleasantly she laid against Orihime, sighing soft breaths in her labored wheeze. Her eyes closed and she fell into a pseudo-sleep, listening to the combined sound of Orihime’s breathing and heartbeat. “Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum,” was enveloping her by the moment. So much so that she was totally placated, even her pained body unable to stifle the good vibe that Orihime both produced and induced.

Orihime backed herself against the wall, reclining elatedly, deciding she would eat her own soup later, when Hinamori had retired again. The delightful scent of the shampoo that Hinamori’s head had been washed in covered the carrot-topped vixen, who, like Hinamori, closed her eyes. Inoue folded her hands over Hinamori’s middle. She could feel the plastic cover of the diaper as she did, but ignored it, hugging Hinamori to her.

This slight pressure enhanced a general tingling in Hinamori’s middle. She knew what it was and could not fight it for long. Rather than concentrating on it, she took one peeking glance back at Orihime, who had a smile even in rest. This warmth once more filled Hinamori, and did, but barely, drain as tepid moisture filled the front of her diaper. Orihime too felt this sensation, against her hands, but neither of them did anything about it right then.

“Oops…” Hinamori whispered childishly, blushing ever so slightly. To this Orihime could only giggle.

“Oh my…” She said in response, rubbing her hand along the line formed of the moistened wetness detector, stained a blue from the light yellow it had been when it was first put on. Neither were distressed by this, in fact Hinamori was totally fine with it. Orihime too was not as concerned with the actually wetting itself, as she was with manipulating the sodden front of the diaper, stroking it with one hand as she rubbed Hinamori’s belly.

“Are you feeling a little better than you were before?” Orihime asked, her hands still wandering without wit or license to their actions, just generally clingy at the point in time.

“Yes’m, actually, I feel a lot better. Not physically better…of course, but better, all the same. Thank you, Orihime,” Hinamori whispered, her voice holding a certain affection in it. Affection she had not spoken with in what felt like ages. Ages that had been dark, cold, and lonely, and now they suddenly were not. She was warm, and cared for, in an embrace. She was in an embrace!

“Good to hear it…is there anything else you could need?” Orihime asked, giving a jubilant smile to her ward. Hinamori looked around, seeing if there would be any visual cues to what she would need. Her throat felt a little dry, the same way she had felt while resting. She restrained herself from sucking on her thumb and now couldn’t consciously sleep like that anymore, but she knew the only thing that would keep her lips and mouth moist would be something to keep near her tongue as she slept.

“Ummm, do you have something….I could rest in my mouth while I sleep?” She asked, feeling more than odd as she inquired, though Orihime did not show any distaste.

“I’m sure I have something….hmmm….” Orihime wracked her brain, thinking about such an object that would suit Hinamori’s needs. She pondered this for a moment before remembering the cache of baby things in the corner of the old clothes box. Without a second thought, she was over in her closet, back in the box, digging into that corner looking for what she had suddenly remembered.

Hinamori watched Orihime’s backside wiggle to and fro, as she searched, on her hands and knees, through the box. Her face was one of concentration, just out of view. Finally, one would have been able to see a palpable smile upon her face. She pulled something from the box, taking it right away to the kitchen, running it under warm water.

“It might be a little small,” Orihime said, coming over to Hinamori, who had crawled gingerly back to her bed. Orihime extended her hand, opening it to reveal a pink plastic object adorned with a yellow rubber tip.

“A…p-p-pacifier?” Hinamori said, regarding it queerly. She took it without thinking, looking it over as Orihime had done as she washed it.

“Yes, it fits perfectly the criterion for which you need, I’m sorry if you feel insulted by this,” She said, her fears put to bed as Hinamori said no more, placing the pacifier in her mouth before Orihime could even finish her sentence.

“’Shanks,” Hinamori whispered behind the small pacifier, her eyes closing, laden with pain and fatigue. Hinamori did not consider the time a total loss however, she instead had found a measure of peace, with her new “mommy.”

“Oh, don’t worry one bit,” Inoue whispered, massaging the back of Hinamori’s head as she turned on her side with a gentle crinkle and a belabored sigh. Orihime yawned herself, sitting at the wall where she had before Hinamori had awoken. She eventually crawled to the table and began to eat her cool soup, unable to take her eyes off her “baby.”