The days are long, in Hueco Mundo.
The days are long, but the nights are longer.
It's always night, really. The fake blue skies are no help.
She doesn't want her friends here. She doesn't, they'd get killed. She isn't worth that. She doesn't want that, even if she were.
She especially doesn't want Kurosaki-kun.
She's so lonely though, and it's so easy to drift through the endless nights and pretend.
She's good at pretending. She does the voices. Tatsuki-chan's when she feels wobbly -- exercise, exercise, you'll get fat thighs and fail the 100 meter dash!; Ishida-kun's when she's looking in the mirror and seeing a stranger: he likes the elegance of the white design, very stylish, might almost forgive just for that. Sado-kun's sometimes when Ulquiorra is there, especially because Sado-kun wouldn't speak, he'd just sit there and let his own silence speak, and she likes to imagine he's here just out of sight. But not Kurosaki-kun's. He has no place here.
(Not Sora's voice, either. It feels as if she might summon him back, and her brother deserves his peace.)
She talks to and with everyone she knows. But not Ichigo.
But Kuchiki-san would understand, and so in the middle of a conversation about plushies and crumpets she says, "I miss him," and before she can stop her the Rukia in her head says "me too."
Because the Rukia in her head has been locked away just as long as she has, of course.
"But we'll be strong for him, won't we? He'll come. He came for me, so--"
And she cries out "no!" and she throws to the floor an imaginary plate of cookies that splinters in thousands of impossible pieces, and she cries for real.
He came for Kuchiki-san, but Orihime can't believe he'd come for her too, she doesn't want him to, she wishes he wouldn't (she's bone-deep certain he will, but it doesn't mean what she wishes it would, he would come for Ishida-kun too.)
She's jealous and it hurts but she knows if Kuchiki-san were here she would come to her and drape her arms around her shoulders and shush her and Orihime would feel silly and weak, but loved, too, understood and loved and protected and known.
"I'm sorry," she whispers, hugging her knees to her chest and pretending that the blanket she draped on her shoulders is a black kimono sleeve. "I love him too I don't want to steal him from you I'm so sorry I'msosorry stay with me--"
The Kuchiki-san in her head says "Don't be silly, why would I leave?" and Orihime pretends until she almost doesn't know it's fake and even the white blanket looks black. When Orihime is mostly cried out she goes "And now, time to practice, and be ready to take them all by storm! Wipe your face, firm your chin -- stiff upper lip, that's it! Now on your march, set, go!" and Orihime ...
... Orihime wants to be able to pretend that far, but she can't.
She's so tired of being afraid. So tired of being lonely.