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 Originally posted 9.3.2015

It’s Orihime’s birthday, and what do you know, my brain spawned a drabble. Tell Yourself style, somewhere between chapters 41 and 43.

~

The weather was beginning to change. Mornings were overcast. The dragonflies, for the most part, had moved on from Karakura Town. Through her open window Orihime felt the subtle coolness of a passing breeze before it died away, leaving the afternoon’s summer heat to fill the void. She stretched her arms above her head and laid her head on her desk, wondering why there was homework to do. Why couldn’t she be outside, enjoying what was left of the hot sun? Why wasn’t she at a festival, watching fireworks and eating everything within reach?

Orihime stared at her desktop calendar, her eye catching the third of September, circled and decorated in pink ink flowers. Things had quieted down since her birthday the other week. Although she couldn’t help the feeling Ulquiorra had done something to make Soul Society angry, she’d received no official complaints–which suited her just fine. They’d had a nice weekend, the two of them. She’d even had the pleasure of seeing him smile. 

Her lips curled up at the memory of it, her eyes falling shut as she allowed the sun to warm her outstretched arms, her mechanical pencil slipping from her fingers. A new breeze stirred the leaves of her notebook and she inhaled deeply, cherishing the sweet summer smell. Taro-san’s wind chime tinkled one balcony over, almost masking the faint music permeating Orihime’s bedroom wall.

Music? 

She sat up reluctantly, horrified at how close she’d come to falling asleep. Leaving the window’s temptation behind, she stood from her desk and wandered out into the hall, the music growing louder with every step. “Ulquiorra-kun?”

Footsteps. His bedroom door opened a moment later, and Orihime almost smiled at the look on his face. It was that dazed, half-awake stare he got when she pulled him out of a book. He had his thumb stuck in a thin novel, which he held at his side to show her she had his undivided attention.

The music was coming from inside his room.

“Are you listening to the radio?” she asked.

Ulquiorra’s perpetual frown deepened. “Is it disturbing you?”

“No. No! Not at all. I was just wondering.” Orihime leaned against the door frame, trying to appear casual. He was listening to music. He never listened to music, with the exception of his music phase, and that had been strictly scientific. It didn’t interest him, it was too personal, he couldn’t relate to it, it was too…

Human.

Orihime blinked. Of course. Ulquiorra was human. Wasn’t she the first person saying it to anyone who doubted? Hadn’t she heard and felt his heart beating under his skin multiple times? Why, then, had the word caught her so off guard? 

Was it possible she’d still been thinking of him as the man with the hole in his chest this entire time?

“Woman.”

“Umm.” She faltered, feeling for some reason like the Earth had shifted on its axis. “Would it be all right if I joined you? I’m a little sleepy, and I can’t afford to take a nap right now, so… ah, but I won’t disturb you, I promise! If you could just give me a little nudge or something when my head starts drooping…”

Ulquiorra sighed. “You do not need to ask my permission to enter the rooms of your own apartment.”

This argument again. Orihime planted her hands on her hips. “It’s your room! You’re paying bills.” But Ulquiorra had already disappeared within, leaving the door open in a silent invitation. Orihime ignored the fluttering in her chest and went to grab her textbooks, pausing only to close her bedroom window before she dashed away again, towards the music. 

Towards him.

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