Fanfic: Choices

Title: Choices
Fandom: Bleach
Characters: Rangiku and Orihime
Rating: PG
Spoils: This spoils some of the Arrancar Arc, perhaps more of the anime version than the manga version.
Word Count: 1534
Summery: After living together for a while, Rangiku takes Orihime shopping.
Secret Santa Gift for: mefie_toi
Author's Note: This was for the secret santa exchange for our_scriptorium. So no cross-posting for a little while, and it was fun to think about just girls for a while, not something I usually do. *laughs* And many, many thanks to akuni for betaing my in-the-van written fic! I appreciate her help with all the repeats I had, immensely.

"We must go shopping," Rangiku had proclaimed.

Orihime had simply clapped her hands and smiled.

After the Arrancar business in Karakura, still bruised and battered from her fight with Akeem, Rangiku had called on Orihime to heal her Captain after his fight was finished. The girl had responded admirably, bringing Toshiro back from his severe injuries, and then had gone on to heal Rangiku as well, with an attention and care that had impressed her.

She'd heard stories of the girl's abilities, and her bravery when Kurosaki had first met the Arrancar in the park. That the girl had been saved by Shihouin-sama had, at first, made Rangiku a little wary of her. A princess saved by a true Princess of Soul Society--how would such a girl treat a street rat like Rangiku?

Orihime had proven friendly, comfortable, and utterly unassuming. The night she'd confessed her love for Kurosaki, Rangiku had been touched, and everything Orihime had done since had only improved the Lieutenant's opinion of her.

So, of course she had to take Orihime shopping now that the next hard step in assessing the Arrancar's strength had been done. They'd gone to the Ginza District and Orihime's eyes were getting bigger and bigger with each shop Rangiku insisted on going into.

"Oooohhh... just look at those shoes!" Rangiku squealed and Orihime followed obediently after. Together they started trying on various boots, pumps, elegant heels, and summer sandals. Orihime looked delicious in a pair of white go-go boots that made her go nearly on tiptoe with their heels.

After Rangiku decided on which four pairs she wanted, she also bought the boots for Orihime over her protests.

"But... but... Rangiku-san, they are far too expensive for me to accept!" Orihime said with a blush. "And what in the world would I wear them with?"

“They’re just too adorable on you, I can’t pass up the opportunity,” Rangiku said, and then with a grin she added, “Just you wait, I bet we can find a few things for you to wear them with.”

And they did...

Rangiku plowed through the eight--or was that ten--shops, raising a whirlwind that scattered skirts, makeup, purses, belts, shirts, stockings, scarves, lacy underthings, and shop clerks in all directions. When they came through it all, Orihime could barely see around the mountain of purchases in her arms, and Rangiku was feeling that happy shopping high that indicated a good day's work had been done.

Every man that walked by Orihime nearly had whiplash from trying to look at her wearing her tasseled go-go boots, tight plaid miniskirt, white blouse, deep russet scarf that fluttered in every breeze, and a blush as hot as a mid-summer day.

If that outfit didn't make Kurosake's head turn, he didn't have a head to turn.

Orihime's longing look at an ice cream shop made Rangiku smile. "Do you want some ice cream?"

"Oh!" Orihime looked surprised. "Uhm... I can't let you spend any more money on me..."

"How about we share something, then? It's pretty hot, and it'd be nice to have something more decadent than I'd eat on my own."

"Oh! May I have..." She looked down at her hands, which she'd twisted on themselves. "You should choose, Rangiku-san."

"No, sweetie, tell me what you'd really like," Rangiku said in her most persuasive voice, and was surprised and delighted when Orihime only blushed more fiercely.

"Pleeease?" Rangiku wheedled cheerfully.

"Oh..." Orihime hesitated again, but then she squeaked as Rangiku pushed open the ice cream shop door and wrestled all her packages in through it. Orihime followed and patiently stood there as Rangiku relieved her of all her bags before shepherding her to the counter.

"There... look at all the possibilities!" Rangiku said happily. "It's a little like life, isn't it?"

Orihime simply looked wordlessly at her, and encouraged, Rangiku continued along her line of thought. "Most choices in life are like choosing the ice cream you want to eat right now. It's not that important in and of itself, but each of them is an expression of who you are, what you like right now. Each reinforces who you are to yourself, and teaches everyone around a little bit more about what you might be."

She moved up next to Orihime, bending to look at all the flavors. "It's possible to give your choice up to someone else, or you can take charge and decide what you want right now, or can just use your imagination and come up with something completely unique to yourself. How you go about it is as telling as what you figure out."

Rangiku saw Orihime's eyes glaze over. She sighed and tried a different approach, "I mean... you want to help out Kurosaki, right?"

Orihime nodded mutely.

"So... you get to choose how to help him as well as with what. Do you want to give him a strength that is uniquely yours? Or do you really want to give him something that he already has? He can already fight like no one else, do you really think he needs more of just that? It'd be like serving everyone strawberry ice cream every time they came to an ice cream shop! Then there'd be no need for blackberry, butter pecan, the coconut pineapple swirl, the vanilla, the mocha, or the chocolate flavors at all."

Orihime blinked with the thought, and Rangiku slid in behind her and hugged her gently. "Choose, Orihime. You know you can."

She felt the girl press back as gently and then sigh. "Uhm... I... I..." The counter boy looked at her as if he were trying to help her come to an answer as well. "I'll... I guess I'll have a sundae with... uhm... a scoop of orange blossom, adzuki bean, and fudge ripple. I'd like... hot fudge, marshmallow, and oh.... black cherry toppings!"

The boy looked a little daunted by the combinations, but went ahead anyway after a fierce nod from Rangiku. The two girls ooo'ed and ahhhh'ed over the building of the super sundae and the addition of whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top. The boy handed it over to Orihime with two hands.

"Thank you very much!" she said with a smile that nearly knocked the boy over. Rangiku could see him sway. She accepted the bowl with two hands, and skipped with it over to the table by their teetering mound of purchases.

Rangiku paid for it, tipping the boy well, and then went over to their table where Orihime was looking at her creation. Rangiku handed Orihime a spoon, and then swooped in and scooped off the cherry with a dab of whipped cream. Instead of eating her prize herself, she moved the spoon so that it was just about to touch Orihime's lips. Orihime's eyes went wide and she looked at Rangiku in question.

"Here... your choice," Rangiku said softly.

Orihime opened her mouth, and Rangiku slipped in the bright red cherry nestled in its bed of cream. Orihime took the bite, sat back, chewed thoughtfully; and Rangiku crowed in delight as she spat the stem out with a knot in it.

"Wow... how did you do that?"

Orihime grinned and started to eat spoonfuls of her sundae. "It's something my brother taught me... but... you're right. It is unique to me, and I don't... maybe I can't... I don't know who to train with that would make me better at being myself."

Rangiku now dug into the sundae for herself, and had to admit that she really liked the bittersweet chocolate of the fudge against the creamy sweetness of the adzuki beans, the marshmallow with the delicate fragrance of the orange blossoms. "Maybe Rukia could work with you."

"Kuchiki-san?" Orihime looked puzzled. "She would have time to work with me? She's so much better than I am, though."

Rangiku shook her head as she finished swallowing another bite. "She's more your level than I would be, and my duties are such that it'd be hard for me to get away. Ukitake-taichou's pretty lenient, and should be glad to have you help her get stronger as well. I suspect all of Kurosaki-kun's friends are going to have to get stronger fast just to keep up with him."

Orihime nodded and sighed, and started to dig into the sundae in earnest. The two women sat and ate, and Rangiku savored the cream, the sweet, the crunchy nuts, the coolness, and the flavors as they mixed and mingled. At the very end of the dish they both dropped their spoons in and sat back and sighed contentedly.

"That was very, very good, Orihime," Rangiku said with a blissful sigh. "That was a very fine choice."

"Thank you, Rangiku-san," Orihime said with a smile. "I am very glad I could please. And... I think... I think I will take the Gotei 13 up on their offers to train me, as inadequate as I am. Maybe you're right, and I'll be able to help him simply by being better at being me."

Rangiku got up and hugged Orihime solidly, ignoring how the counter boy's eyes popped out at the sight. "You will. I’m sure you will."

Whee! I just love the idea of them having a girls' day out. Quite honestly, I think they both could use one.

The only problem is that I want orange blossom ice cream, now. :)
*laughs* Me, too. Now I have to figure out how... XD

I'm so glad you liked this and helped me out with the beta! Thank you!
Psst. If you're in Seattle in the springtime let me know and I'll treat you to sakura sencha ice cream made with the amazing cherry-blossom green from Perennial Tea...
Oh, that would be phenomenal!!

Mmmm... cherry blossom green... now I have to look up Perennial Tea.
Oh that was such a wonderfully painted day! Orihime's outfit tickled me no end. Very 70's sheik.

I loved how Rangiku slipped her little lesson in there amidst all the shopping and eating. And then just spelled it out when Orihime got completely confused.

The counter boy was a hilarious little addition!
*giggles* I kept seeing the zanpakutou episodes with all the go-go stuff and I guess it worked its way in...

Hee. I'm glad you liked the poor counter boy. *laughs* I had fun with him, too.

Thank you!
*beams* You're very welcome!

Not exactly sure if it fit the bill... but... couldn't quite make the yuri moment in public with Orihime... maybe I should have made it in her apartment instead, but Rangiku wanted the shopping trip. *sighs*

Anyway... glad you liked it anyway.
wow I love how you write Rangiku...many people forget that she actually has a brain. You don't, I love you for that.
I have to admit that I even liked Orihime...which is something that is very hard for me to do.
*beams* Yeah, she is brainful, I think... and very capable when she actually focuses.

I like Orihime for her strengths, though her weaknesses are many. Ah well... glad you liked it anyway!

Thank you!
So adorable! This is an amazingly sweet story. Thank you so much for sharing it!
Rangiku is such a fine woman, and what a good friend. Orihime needs a strong mentor like that. Great story.

I like to think Rangiku can be very kind and thoughtful, if sometimes a little selfish as well. *laughs* She's more fun to write than I thought... *giggles*

Thank you!
Awwww... *laughs* Now we've made each other's day... this comment has me smiling big. I am so glad that you enjoyed those details... and the story.

I hope your holidays were bright, and your New Year is a lot of fun!!

Thank you so much!
Aww. That really is sweet, and Rangiku is extremely smart and aware. (Well, as we all know she is -- when she actually applies herself, things get done.)

Lovely piece. Thank you!
Exactly, and when she doesn't, Hitsugaya goes after her with a pen. *laughs*

I'm glad you liked! Thank you.
Awww this is sweet and fun and so happy in that nasty time. Knowing what'll happen later makes it a hint of sad too... Rangiku is so sweet with Orehime and I really like how she's dressing her up for Ichigo! Though I have to wonder if that'd improve Ichigo's interest in her at all...
*laughs* I doubt Ichigo will notice, actually. I don't seem to think he ever does, poor Orihime...

I enjoyed writing Rangiku in this, very much. It was a lot of fun, and, yeah, a little sad knowing what happens later. Still... it was nice to get the sweet part while I could.

Thank you, so much!!
I'm glad you cross-posted this! I missed a lot of stuff that was posted during the holidays. This is a delightful story. I adore friendship fics like this, and I really like how you had Rangiku use the ice cream to push a gentle life lesson. Also, that ice cream combo is so very, very Orhime (so I guess the lesson took).

*giggles at the ice cream combo* It was fun trying to think of things that she might think would go well together. *laughs* And then Akuni had to go and say that she liked the idea!! *laughs some more*

Ah... good. This was a fun friendship fic to write, and I rather liked staying on this side of that line with them.

Yay! I'm glad you liked it and now I'm very glad I finally cross-posted it as well.
LOL! Yes, the accumulated... uhm... endowments would be intimidating.

But I bet Matsumoto would still make it fun. :-)

Thank you so much! And, yes, it would be very nice to have something *nice* happen for Orihime....