My father says that almost the whole world is asleep...

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Road to Recovery
Lying Down
leekspin wrote in thewakelogs
Who: Orihime Inoue, Toothless, OPEN (particularly for V and Sanji)
What: Several days after the defeat of the aeon, as the city begins to pull away from the pole of chaos, Orihime finally starts to come around.
Where: Medbay - Northern District
When: July 1, 2012
Warnings: She might mention a few lingering memories of madness.
Notes: I will be slooooooooow because of burnout, but wanted to get this up. If you are okay with slowness, feel free to drop in and chat with her!

She wasn't exactly sure when she felt the first bright spot of clarity. All she knew was that when it appeared in the swirl of maddening images and feelings, she clung to it. Her memories were blurry and scattered. She remembered being aware of her friends...Lelouch's presence had been particularly easy to feel, as her Ashura...and the sounds of familiar voices. As soon as the secondary source of her mental anguish vanished, she blacked out, more as a means of self-protection than anything.

All that kept her hanging on was the sheer, raw willpower to survive. Death was never an option, or an escape from the soul-crushing insanity that was constantly battering at all that she was.

In that one moment of clarity, she'd felt the vacuum of someone's will trying to erase her from existence. But she also felt the braided will of others shielding her, one in particular very strong, and very close. She'd smelled roses.

Then the dizzying feeling was gone, and her breath left her in a quiet exhale as she was granted relief at last. The constant wrinkle in her brow finally eased as her tightened muscles relaxed. Instead of unconsciousness, she slept deeply. For how long, she didn't know, but the dark presence that had been hammering at her sanity was no longer there.

The memories were, however. She knew she wouldn't ever really be rid of those. The things she'd been exposed to were expertly intertwined with her favorite memories and her feelings for others. Her grasp of reality was brittle, and she saw things out of the corner of her eye that seemed to be lurking and scuttling, waiting to attack the moment she let down her guard.

At least the experience wasn't...entirely new to her? She'd suffered a lesser version of head-clutching madness when she had been exposed to that odd structure in the West that had made her see horrible hallucinations of her brother being brutally murdered and torn apart while he screamed to her for help. She hadn't thought anything could be worse than that.

She'd been wrong.

The smell of roses, at least, was familiar to her. She knew who had put them there, having spent many hours admiring V's garden. She clung to the simple sweetness of the scent, trying to banish everything else from her mind. If she didn't think about what had been done to her, she could at least lie still instead of sweat and shiver and make those embarrassing pitiful whimpers.

Her head lolled on her pillow as she gazed quietly at the brilliant scarlet blooms next to her bed. Her dark eyes rested on the shape of each cluster of velvet petals, a spiraling labyrinth that she could imagine herself in. No darkness. No terror. Just a soft, warm place with familiar scents and sounds. She could be safe if she crawled into that rose for just a little while...

Orihime's brow creased, the corners of her mouth drawing downward. She reigned her thoughts back in to something a little less crazy. She had to. After all, she'd been made an Angelii, and what kind of Angelii lounged around as a useless pile of crazy? She focused on the roses again, ignoring the maze her mind kept trying to layer over her efforts to study the flowers.

  • 1
Toothless rarely wandered. He was usually content to bide his time prowling about in the Southern District. But the sad truth of the matter was that the Southern District still reeked of lingering decay. Still pulsed with unease. And aside from occasional ventures, Toothless had taken to avoiding his former safe haven.

And so, our resident Night Fury did what any displaced creature does best. Place himself. Everywhere. No buildings were safe from being climbed upon and investigated. After all, stone walls clearly sheltered delicious treats inside. And Toothless would have those treats. He would have them and he would eat them and he would delight in them.

But those stone walls proved to have incurably small doorways. And burning down the doors placed in those doorways had little effect on their size. And so, it was with great satisfaction that Toothless found the Medbay. The doorways were enormous. Quite comfortably able to accommodate a hungry dragon. And a hungry dragon they would accommodate. There was no say in the matter.

Because in precious little time, Toothless had worked his way inside- be it by melting the doors, ramming them in, or if they were simply open will be left to the imagination. What matters is that he was inside and that, rather than the food he was so desperately searching for, he found a friend.

He clamored to her bed, knocking various things aside as he lumbered his way over to see the human he'd quite earnestly missed. It was, perhaps, a step down from dinner, but it was almost as good, and that would have to do.

(OOC: I laughed. This was so cute.)

Orihime was on high alert when she heard the sounds of destruction echoing in the medbay. That...that didn't sound like Ratchet, or V. She violently flinched at the sight of something black wriggling into her room, her eyes wide with fear as she lay frozen in bed.

...Hold on. She knew this particular creature. The large luminous eyes weren't glowing with malevolence like she'd anticipated, and familiarity untangled the snarls of heightened terror. Her stiffened body relaxed, though her eyes remained wide.


The dragon didn't seem to care at all about any obstacles in his way, and she had to admit, it was both funny and touching to see him bowl right through things just to reach her bedside. She smiled for the first time in what felt like years, her hand drifting from the bed to skim lightly over his scales with open affection. He was irresistibly cute.

"I didn't know you came back," she said hoarsely, her head tipped to the side. "I'm glad."

Unlike when other attempts of a similar nature had been made, Toothless readily accepted Orihime's touch. She was, after all, one of the few humans he recalled actively approving of. But the memory in the dragon's head and the reality in front of him did not quite match up. Where had gone all the color and vibrancy and life?

Confused and mildly frustrated by the unexpected change, the dragon resolved to deny the young woman of any and all personal space, jabbing his nose into her side without preamble. Yes, it was nice to be back. Not that being home was any less nice, of course, but there was certainly more food to be had here. And more, though neither better nor worse, company. It would, however, be better if Orihime were, perhaps, in a livelier mood. (Perhaps then she might also give him something to eat.)

Toothless huffed, blowing the girl's hair back with a puff or warm air. Yes, he would make her happy. And he would use every ounce of his ability to do it. Eyes wide and quite purposely adorable, they bore into hers. If he could sway Hiccup, Orihime was surely doomed to fall.

Edited at 2012-07-07 12:54 am (UTC)

Toothless succeeded in at least one major point: he made her giggle, albeit tiredly, and she couldn't even remember the last time she'd done that. It was hard to ignore the persistence of his broad snout pushed into her side, and even harder to ignore the giant cat-like eyes gone wide and round. Her body tilted to quasi-drape over his snout, her hand quietly smoothing over his scales with shaking fingers.

Her body felt frustratingly weak. To her, it seemed as if he wished to play, and she couldn't give that to him no matter how she wanted it to be otherwise.

"I'm sorry," she croaked, closing her eyes as she pressed her brow to his. "I'm probably really boring company right"

There was no way of knowing how much he understood. It was clear to her that the dragon was intelligent, and perhaps understood some words. But she didn't know the extent. She did know that she was happy to see him again, at least for a little while.

"You're a good dragon. Thank you for cheering me up."

As soon as Skyfire found out where Orihime was, he went to the Medbay to see her.

Then he waited just outside the door, trying to gather his courage, for what felt like an eternity. This shouldn't have been so difficult. Reason told him that he couldn't have done any more for her than he had. And yet... it didn't stop him from feeling guilty about the whole thing.

Standing around like a fool without doing anything wouldn't help, either.

He changed into his human form - less intrusive and noisy - and took a deep breath. And then he finally knocked on the door.

Orihime stirred, opening one eye, then the other. She raised her head from her pillow, feeling as if her skull weighed two hundred pounds, and blinked blearily at the door. She didn't know who was there just yet, but she wanted to thank that person for rousing her from another swampy, uncomfortable dream rife with frustrations -- running uphill, crowds of people not moving aside to let her catch the train, a million diversions meant to slow her down before she could reunite with her friends.

It wasn't a nightmare, but she certainly hadn't enjoyed the stupid dream.

"Come in," she said with a heavy croak in her voice, from sleep and lack of use.

Pretend he's human, my add-on expired :|

Just hearing her talk was an immense relief. Orihime still didn't sound quite all right, but it was a start. And she felt well enough to receive visitors, which was also a good sign.

Skyfire took a deep breath and open the door gently.

"Hello?" he said, as he peered inside. Then he forced himself to stop being silly and approach the bed. "I just... wanted to say hi."

When Sanji had first heard that Orihime was at the Medbay, he was elated to find out she was okay. Then, crushing guilt had overwhelmed him. He had been useless in the attempts to save her. His initial attempt had been sheer folly; he realized that now. Then when the real rescue crew had come, he had been under the control of that shitty Aeon, and had actively tried to stop them.

.o(What right do you have to see Orihime-chan, after all that...?)

But as guilty as he felt for failing Orihime, he had to see her before he left for home... Had to see that she was doing okay... that she was healing... that she was safe.

And apologize.

It was the LEAST he could do.

He had hurried back to his room at the Southern District's Welcome House briefly, to scan through the book on flowers that Orihime had given him. He didn't know what else he could do, or give her in apology. Food was out of the question, because he didn't know if she would even feel like eating, or if the doctors had put her on any sort of recovery diet. Flowers would be bright, and cheerful... and be his apology letter to her.

A lily for her beauty and sweetness, and a lily of the valley as a wish for a return to happiness for her. A large, brilliant Chinese chrysanthemum blossom for her cheerfulness under adversity. A little sprig of mistletoe, which - he learned to his surprise - had a meaning of 'I surmount all difficulties'. A balm of gilead flower, to show he was relieved she was okay (it meant either 'cure' or 'relief'; he hoped it meant that sort of relief, and perhaps stretch it to he hoped she recovered quickly). A bunch of raspberry flowers for his remorse in being unable to help her, with a meadowsweet flower tucked into the cluster for his uselessness in that fight. He didn't know if it was going too far, or not... but he added a few pear blossoms for affection. If questioned, he could always say it meant the affection everyone had for her. He wouldn't be lying, after all.

He stood in front of the Medbay doors, a feeling of anxiety quickly washing over him. Did he deserve to see her? Would she even want to see him? Well, he could always go in, give her the flowers, apologize, then leave if she didn't want to see him. Realizing he was being a little ridiculous, he entered the building, only to halt again outside Orihime's door.

Taking in a few breaths to steady himself, bouquet clasped tightly in one hand, he lightly rapped on the doorframe with the other.

"Orihime-chan...?" he called out, softly.

Orihime's shoulders twitched a little, her eyes moving to the doorway and blinking in surprise. It seemed she'd let herself get too absorbed by the roses again, as she was startled by the change in her otherwise stagnant environment.

It took a few moments for her weary brain to process the image of her friend and the flowers in his hand, but recognition set in shortly. Her brow creased inward as she managed to summon up a tired smile. "Sanji-kun," she greeted him, both glad for his presence and embarrassed at her condition. Her body was still recovering from the decay and lack of use, and her mind didn't feel quite right.

She only prayed that she could keep the latter under wraps. Sanji already appeared to be grossly uncomfortable, and who could blame him? Orihime was far from pretty at the moment, with her limp and unwashed hair, and gaunt, pale body.

Sanji froze for a moment, in the doorway, feeling a lump in his throat. Sanji-kun... That was what his beautiful Nami-san always called him. To hear it from Orhime-chan's lips, too, was a little of a shock. He felt his heart skip a little beat. Was it because of the familiarity of the address...? Especially with his deep longing for home, and intent to return? Sanji didn't know, and didn't care to dwell on it. There were bigger issues to address, and he didn't want to deal with any more confusion.

Orihime's appearance caused a stab of pain in his chest, and he clutched the flowers a little tighter. So weak, so tired... but still so beautiful to his eyes, and trying to put on such a brave face... God, she was such a strong lady! She never deserved any of what happened to her!

He quickly Bent up a vase of water and put the flowers into it, setting it down on a nearby desk, then immediately dropped to his knees, pressing his forehead to the floor. Normally, he didn't like it when men bowed like this so readily... so quick to humble themselves for anything and abandoning their pride. In this case, however, it was MORE than justified. He could humble himself before Orihime, easily. How could he even bear to look her in the eyes, after he failed her so badly?

"Orihime-san... forgive me!" he cried out. "I failed you, terribly! I was unable to save you from that monster! I only made things WORSE! I am unfit to even be in your gracious presence. Can you ever forgive me, for being unable to save you...?"

Edited at 2012-07-13 04:09 pm (UTC)

Flowers! He brought flowers! Orihime perked up a little when he put them in a vase, a little genuine warmth filtering into her weary smile. She watched him set them down on the desk, and thought she should ask V to borrow his book to identify them. The only one she recognized with a meaning was the Chinese chrysanthemum, which she had gifted to someone dear to her a long time ago. She studied them with a doofy grin on her face for a while, then turned her head to thank Sanji.

Except he wasn't there anymore.

Orihime blinked in confusion, puzzled, until she realized his voice was coming from further down below. Orihime lifted her chin slightly to see part of him, prostrated on the floor before her. He was apologizing...? No. No no no, that wasn't what was supposed to happen! A look of visible distress creased her brow.

"But...but I wanted to thank you..." she protested sadly.

[Sanji lifted his head, peering up at Orihime in stunned confusion.] You... wanted to thank... Wh-whatever for, Orihime-chan? [What in the world could she thank him for? He failed her! He had been useless against that monster holding her captive. He hadn't done enough! He bit down on his lip, seeing the look of distress on her face. He scrambled to his feet, rifling through his pockets before pulling out a handkerchief, holding it out to her.] I... I apologize again, Orihime-chan! I didn't mean to upset you!

Orihime peered at the handkerchief with mild confusion before tentatively reaching out to take it. That was so nice of him! She smiled, laying the handkerchief on her lap like a napkin. There. Now it would be treasured. "Because you didn't give up on me," she answered him. "You still thought I was worth saving. Most anyone else...I think they would have written me off as dead. The person who had me was very dangerous, and I was..."

Orihime looked down at herself. Certainly she looked much better now than the half-rotting half-corpse she'd been while in Pyramid Head's custody, but back then, she couldn't blame anyone who would have written herself off as a lost cause.

" were ready to risk a lot, for someone who was barely alive. It means a lot to me."

[Sanji swallowed a lump that had formed in his throat, and grinned weakly at her.] How gracious Orihime-chan is, to heap such words of praise on me... [Why was he so nervous!? A beautiful girl was saying such kind words to him! Thanking him! He felt so unworthy of that praise, though. He felt useless, and hated that feeling.]

There were more willing to help save you, Orihime-chan... I... I failed you. I wasn't able to save you. I... damn it...!" he hissed, upset with himself. "I should have waiting for the others. I didn't want to wait, though! The more time you were with that... that BEAST...! But I couldn't do a fucking thing about it, and...!" He had started to pace a little, and stopped, hands clenched at his sides, staring down at the floor. At her soft words, he looked back at her, self-annoyance fading into a soft expression; a little lost, a little tender, a little grateful for her forgiveness, and faith in him.

"How could I NOT try to rescue you, Orihime-chan?" he asked quietly. "How could I not... for any lady... but for you definitely... I would... But I failed. I'm just... I'm just SO glad that the real rescue team managed to save you. That you're SAFE..."

[ooc: ugh, I need better icons for scenes like this. x.x;]

[ooc: I have no objections to moar Sanji icons.]

She wished she knew what to say to take away his self-inflicted pain and guilt, to make him understand that it didn't matter to her if he'd failed or succeeded. The attempt alone meant the world to her. Orihime reached out to him with both arms open. He would have to go to her to be embraced, as she couldn't gather him up the way she wanted while he was out of her range, but she could make the invitation. It was rare for her, but he looked like he needed a hug pretty badly.

"It was enough," she smiled gently. "You can still be my hero, Sanji-kun."

[ooc: if/when we move to DW, I'll likely get a paid account, and fill it up with all sorts of icons. ^^; Just gotta organize what I have, and search out/make ones for other expressions I'll need.]

Sanji drew in a breath, feeling something unfurl in his heart. It felt like it was melting, warming, opening up... as Orihime opened her arms to him. That she forgave him so quickly... so easily and so readily... "Orhime-chan truly is an angel..." he murmrued. He moved over to the side of her bed, still a little hesitant at being forgiven so quickly, but...

...pretty girl. Wanting to hug HIM! Very pretty girl and she was allowing him to come close and put his arms around her and... ...and Sanji-kun again and...

.o(No, no! Bad! Restrain your shitty self! You NEED to be a gentleman here, not a pervert! You'll probably never get a chance like this again! And Orihime-chan does not need you going crazy with the promise of a hug, and...)

He moved over to the side of her bed, sitting down and wrapping his arms around her, a slightly goofy, but also very warm and grateful smile on his face. So warm, so soft... Both her body itself... (ever so warm and soft!) but also her heart. How kind was Orihime-chan...?

"Such a big heart you have. Orhime-chan is so gracious...!" he cooed, happily, a lone, stray heart popping up briefly into the air.

.o(Thank you, Orihime-chan...)

She wasn't as soft as she usually was. Her frame was bony and her limbs were weak, but she was so happy to sink into someone's embrace right now. Orihime closed her eyes, hiding her fact against his shoulder as exhaling shakily. He didn't care one bit about how she looked, apparently, hadn't even said a word about it!

Gently she clung to him. "So are you, Sanji-kun," she murmured into his suit. "Thank you so much for coming to see me."

Sanji could feel the fraility of her body in his arms, so he kept his hug gentle. He let one hand drop to rub her back a little, still fighting to bite down on the giddy thrill that he was actually holding a beautiful lady, and she wasn't pushing him away or anything! There were more IMPORTANT things to focus on at the moment. Namely, Orhime's comfort and well-being. Given the shuddering breath against his shoulder (even in such a serious situation, that still sent such a thrill through him!), she needed this as much as he did, apparantly.

He closed his eyes, taking in a breath and letting it out slowly. "You're welcome, Orihime-chan," he said softly. "I had to... I had to come by and see you... make sure that you were okay... and apologize... before I went home."

*winces at the horrible typos and blames the allergy medicine*

Orihime went quiet. He was going home...? Her heart started to beat faster as distress creased her brow and widened her eyes. She clung to him a little tighter, wrinkling his jacket as her fingers gripped the fabric.

"Not forever...?" she asked, fighting back the lump in her throat and the burning in her eyes. "It's just temporary, right? You're not going to Sleep...?"

She feared that he would. Even if he said he wouldn't, there were so many people who went to visit home and just never came back.

Sanji frowned a little, feeling Orihime tense up in his arms. He paused, hesitatingly... wondering if it was going too far when he was supposed to be acting gentlemanly and all during this, damn it... before reaching up and lightly holding the back of her head. .o(Comfort her, dammit! Reassure her... How can you let a lady worry like this?)

He shifted slightly, a little feeling of awkwardness bubbling up inside him. He still wasn't used to offering comfort like this much, especially in this quiet, tender way. He didn't know how far he could go, what he was allowed to touch, or not. Trying to rein in his less-than-pure impulses, upon having a pretty lady in his arms. Just having someone in his arms PERIOD, counting on him emotionally. Oh, sure, he had called out before to ladies to take comfort in his arms, all love-struck and goofily and all, but... here in Nautilus was the only time had anyone had actually taken him up on those offers! There had been Jendayi, during that nightmare storm, and then... Orihime. First, when she had found out someone she had really liked had left, and now... after all this...

At that memory, the reason for her worry clicked into place, and Sanji shook his head. "No, not forever. I'll be back, I promise Orihime." She was worried he'd leave! Permanently! Did that mean she liked him? He started to feel elated before giving himself a mental face-palm. What sort of a question was that? Orihime liked EVERYONE. She'd been her so long, she'd probably seen a lot of people leave. But... still...?

.o(Comfort her. Reassure her!) He forced himself to chuckle, dropping the hand on her head to join the other one around her waist, and gave her a quick, gentle, squeeze. "I'm not leaving forever, Orihime-chan. I've made promises here, I have to keep. I still have my restaurant to build too, after all... right?"

A small pause.

"I just... need to go home. I need to see my nakama," he said quietly.

She relaxed somewhat at the feel of his warm hand cradling the back of her head, then relaxed further still as he made his promise. Orihime knew she was being childish, and selfish, and clingy. It was kind of awful of her. But at the same time, she really didn't want her friend to disappear from her life.

Orihime exhaled, and closed her eyes. "Right," she agreed. His restaurant. She needed to see how that was coming along. She hoped it hadn't been damaged during the struggle. She had no idea what kind of state the rest of the city was in -- all she could remember was the rotting wasteland where Pyramid Head had been defeated, and the inside of the medical bay where she currently rested.

She hugged Sanji with a sheepish chuckle. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound so selfish. I had to do the same not that long ago myself." She smiled. "I had to know if everything turned out okay. I hope your nakama are okay too, Sanji-kun."

There was a quiet comfort, to this... a certain sort of peace, sitting and holding her like this. At the moment, he never wanted to leave this bed! He just wanted to sit and hold her... and maybe even get a ki-... NO! BAD thoughts! Bad Sanji! How dare you think of such things when Orihime-chan was in such a fragile state! He did feel a little guilty, for as soon as he left Orhime's side, he would be heading home, and she was obviously worried about that, but... ...his need to see his nakama outweighed even that. He couldn't put it off any longer.

At her words, Sanji blinked and raised one eyebrow, then let out a soft chuckle as he - daringly - rubbed her back. "Orhime-chan is the LEAST selfish person I have ever met," he said softly. "And her heart huge." He let out a small breath, then nodded faintly. "My nakama are strong; I'm sure they're okay. I still need to see them."

He knew he had to pull away eventually... Stand up, and leave, but... ... Just five more minutes?

Oddly enough, Orihime was praying for just a few more minutes as well. There was a pathetic sort of craving just to be held by someone warm for a while, and there was so much honest affection in the way he kept her close and rubbed her back. While he might have eagerly spouted words of praise for any woman, Sanji was at least sincere. He really did care, and that was something she thought was amazing about him.

"I understand," she replied with a quiet smile. She knew exactly how that felt, especially after all of her friends from home had returned there once again, leaving her behind to wait. Sanji didn't even have that. He was the only warrior from his world to Awaken, so of course he needed to see his friends.

"Let me know when you have to let go."

Taking in a deep breath, Sanji let out a content little sigh. Ahhh... women smelled so nice~! ♥ He was the luckiest guy ever, to be able to hold a lady like this... and who knew when he'd ever get this chance again? So... he'd sit and he'd hold her as long as she wanted, because - knowing his luck - it wouldn't happen again any time soon. "I'll let go when you need me to let go, Orihime-chan," he murmured happily into her hair.

Sanji felt more confident now, than when he had first entered the room. Orihime had forgiven him... was finding comfort in his embrace... Things were starting to look up! He still had to school himself to keep his thoughts focussed on 'comfort', and not get too 'excited' about the pretty girl he held. Forget fighting the Aeon; THIS was tough!

Things were about to get a little easier for Sanji. For a long while she just clung to him, happy to share a quiet moment with a friend who cared for her, even if she was crazy and ugly. As the minutes ticked by, the weight of her head on his shoulder grew heavier. Her grip on his suit grew slack, and her breathing deepened and slowed.

His shoulder was also about to get a little damp, when she started to drool on him. Charming she was not...but she did trust Sanji enough to feel like it was okay to fall asleep on him.

A soft little smile graced Sanji's face as he felt Orhime fall asleep against his shoulder. Orhime was so sweet, so cute... She was charming to him (even with the drool)! Ahhh... to have such a beautiful lady rest against his chest like that... to fall asleep in his arms... This was like a dream come true! He hadn't even gotten this close to Nami-san (yet)! The amount of trust this showed...

He didn't DARE to anything to betray that trust, either. Orhime-chan might have one of the most open, friendliest hearts he'd met, but he wasn't about to do anything to cause her to distrust him. A gentleman didn't act that way. He'd gotten closer to a woman right now longer than he had in, well... ever, really. He didn't want to risk ruining this. Orihime-chan didn't need any flirting from him either, he had to admit to himself. She had just gone through a HORRIFIC ordeal. She needed a friend... nothing else. He didn't know if she was seeing anyone else in Nautilus, but even he could realize this wasn't the time nor place to ask. Not that he was thinking of being anything serious - he doted and swooned and fawned on any pretty lady - but he knew his flirting wouldn't be appropriate here and now. This was still more than he'd had experienced before, and he had to tell himself to be content with that. A woman's needs and desires came first; they always came first. He was content with it. Holding Orhime-chan, and comforting her in her time of need... It had been quiet, it had been soft, it had been warm... and for once he didn't mean her body (even if it WAS warm and soft). No, he felt it in his heart, a calm in his soul, cheezy as that line may sound. Orihime-chan had consolled him, as much as he had consolled her.

He carefully slipped out of Orhime's embrace, standing up and gently laying her down on the bed, tucking up the blankets to her chin. He paused, then dared to pet her soft hair again, affectionately. "Sleep well, Orhime-chan... I do hope to see you feeling much better when I return. Stay warm and safe, my angelic angelii..." he said softly, before quietly slipping out of the room.

Outside of the Medbay, he lit up a cigarette, taking in a drag before blowing it out in a slow stream, staring up at the sky. Well, Orihime-chan looked to be in very good hands, and he was sure there were many others to care for her. Now... home.

’I hope that the world turns, and that things get better, and that one day people have roses again.’” It was softly said, from the doorframe, where there waited a familiar fixed face. Once he had Orihime’s attention, the man who never stopped smiling slipped into the room, bootheels clicking faintly. This was a queer thing in itself---he hadn’t made any noise in the hall---but deliberately done; a kind of courtesy. “I had hoped I would be by when you woke, but I’d taken ten to tend to the others.”

Although audibly apologetic, V sounded as if he were smiling against his mask’s fixed features, and readily came closer---up to the bedside. Bending a stool, he sat, hands loosely clasped and whole costume the source of a faint scorched smell.

“How are you, Orihime?”

"...ten...hee hee...!"

Orihime put her hands to her mouth as it screwed up into a line, caught between a wince and a grin. "It's five times there's two of you..."

The wince won out, and she pressed the heel of her palm to her forehead as she released a shaky sigh. " be honest, I don't really know yet, V-san," she said quietly. "But better. I have to be better if I'm awake, ne?"

She looked to him for the answer, practically pleading for some confirmation that her mind wasn't as broken as it sometimes felt like it was. It kept wanting to stray toward abstract things, things that didn't make sense even to someone as imaginative as she was.

"" she said again, registering the faint aroma of smoke. "...what about you?"

“Better than you were, and better than you could be, since you are offering thoughtful and honest answers.” He could hardly fail to notice the hope in her face, but hadn’t answered for it---he’d only put his own honest opinion plainly. If it were to prompt anything from the actor, it wouldn’t be words but an action; one hand out and open, inviting another to be held. The smell of something having been burnt seemed ground into even the glove, which was unmarked save for small areas scuffed blue-grey by use. The worn leather was surprisingly soft. “Me? I’ve been tried and tired, truth be told, but I am alright.”

Edited at 2012-07-11 07:30 am (UTC)

It made her wonder just what it was he'd set ablaze. But instead of conjuring funny possibilities in her head, she imagined awful things, like twitching moss-covered tendrils and things with rubbery necks and too many arms.

She shut her eyes tightly, blindly fumbling for his offered hand until her fingers found his and squeezed. It was a feeble motion, but she took comfort in his gloved hand nonetheless as she fought to keep her breathing calm and even.

"I'm glad," she whispered. And she meant it, too. V was one of her dearest friends in Nautilus, and quite possibly the one she'd known the longest outside of the Elric brothers. "I'm really glad." Her fingers tightened, then relaxed. "It was you that kept me from being Unmade, too, wasn't it...?"

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