The Flower Princess and the Alchemist @bloodpokemon101
A Cat's Vengeance

(A/N: Here's chapter thirty six! Enjoy!

Dracus7: Thanks for the review, I guess. You know, you could have PMed me that. And no, I won't being doing a Monster/Akame ga Kill crossover. I wouldn't even know how to start or to even progress.

sacke110: Thanks for the review! Okay, good. I was worried I was spoiling the series for you. Although, some of the stuff don't happen in FMA, obviously. But you should really finish watching it because it's a great anime! Love it! One of my top ten favorites! Along with Bleach [hence the crossover]!)

Guest review (Guest): Thanks for reviewing. Look, I don't really have an opinion. If he didn't do it, great. If he did, it would be a shame. Vic is a great voice actor, that's all I'm going to say.

A Cat's Vengeance

Orihime hummed, happily to herself, carefully threading the needle through the blue cloth. The only noise in the room was the light tapping sound of Sammy's tail hitting the floor repeatedly. The cat just stared at the auburn haired girl, silently, wondering what the girl was sewing.

After several more minutes, Orihime beamed, proudly, letting out a satisfied sigh. Happily, she held up her finished project. "Look, Sammy! I made a cute outfit for you!" she declared, joyfully.

Sammy took a cautious step forward, green eyes fixated on the tiny attire the ginger haired girl held up. The outfit consisted of a simple white shirt with black trimmings around the edges, a black collar ribbon, and an aquamarine beanie.

The whole uniform wasn't that bad. It was fairly nice. Simple and nice.

Sammy mewed his approval.

Orihime cheered, gleefully. "C'mon here, Sammy, so I could put this outfit on you," she beckoned the cat over.

The male feline hissed at her, feeling offended.

She held her hands up in a peaceful gesture. She smiled at the cat. "Fine. You can put on the outfit yourself." She gingerly set the clothes down on the floor in front of Sammy.

He sniffed the clothes, experimentally before lightly pawing at them. He tried prying the hat open, but it was a rather difficult task for a cat to do without opposable thumbs.

Sammy let out a frustrated mewl, angrily clawing it open. At last, he finally managed to somehow pry the hat open. He steadily poked his head inside, trying to put on the hat, but, unfortunately, it got stuck around his snout. He let out a troubled mew, attempting and failing to adjust the cap, however, to no avail.

Orihime giggled. She knew was rude of her to do so, but she couldn't help but to find the scene highly amusing like in one of those funny animal clips. Afterwards, she bent down and helped readjust Sammy's new beanie.

"Oh! You look so cute!" the ginger haired girl cooed, taking in Sammy the looked with his new hat. "Now. For the rest of your outfit." She held out the white shirt. The feline emitted a stubborn hiss, obviously not wanting assistance, but Orihime's stern glare made him settle down and reluctantly cooperate. She smiled, appreciatively at his understanding, fitting the rest of the clothes on him.

Now, taking in Sammy's new appearance, Orihime clapped, happily. "You look really good, Sammy!" she praised. "Let's go show Eddie and Al your new look."

The auburn haired girl started packing the leftover materials inside the bag. "I really should be making Nina's gift," she inwardly thought to herself. "Since I'm done with Ichigo's scarf, maybe I'll start on it tonight." She made a mental note and finished stuffing the fabrics in her pink bag.

Her grays eyes caught sight of the white envelope in her bag. With a hum of confusion, her hand reached out and caught the white sheet between her fingers.

"Oh…!" Now, she recognized this envelope.


Orihime strolled inside the clothing store, ready to pick up her order. She spotted a couple of ladies inside chatting away while browsing the dresses. She had to admit, some of the clothes were actually quite nice and cute, but she had to restrain herself. She wasn't here to shop.

She pleasantly approached the counter.

The lady at the cash register finally took notice of her. "May I help you?" she asked with a polite smile.

The auburn haired girl grinned, brightly in return. "Oh, yes. You see, my name is Orihime Inoue. I was wondering if my package has arrived yet."

The woman raised a quizzical eyebrow. "A package?" She pondered for a bit, placing a finger to her bottom lip. "I do remember something arriving here just the other day. Right here and I'll go get it."

She gestured for Orihime to stay put, and went towards the back. The younger girl obeyed, obediently as the older woman left the register and went to the back.

As the woman was gone, Orihime's gray orbs roamed through the interior of the small store. There was nothing that really piqued her interest. She already had plenty of clothes, and she needed to spare the money she had. She had to spend it wisely. As much as she loved to, there was no room for spree shopping.

That was her initial plan until her eyes caught onto some vibrant fabrics, spools of colorful, and decorations in all sorts of variety.

Then a thought suddenly hit her like a flash of lightning. Didn't Nina say she wanted a present? With everything that has happened to them these past couple of weeks, mostly pertaining to trying to stay alive, the ginger haired girl nearly forgot about the young girl's present.

Well, now is a good a time as any. Plus, she could use some extra materials to finish up her gift.

Orihime left the register for ten minutes to hurry and pick out some sewing supplies. When she arrived back with a merry hum to her voice, the cashier lady was already waiting for her with a brown package and a strange, white envelope laying on top of it.

"There you are, miss," the cashier spoke with a sigh of relief. "I got a little worried when you suddenly disappeared."

Orihime giggled, sheepishly. "Sorry," she said, apologetically. "I just realized that there was stuff that I needed." She set the supplies down on the counter next to the box for the cashier to scan.

The woman smiled. "That's alright. Let me ring these up for you."

As she was doing that, the auburn haired girl's gray eyes landed on the envelope on top of her package. Curiously, she picked it up, reading that it was definitely addressed to her. She wondered who would send her a letter?

With diligent fingers, she slowly opened it and unveiled the letter inside. The handwriting was elegant and precise and was written on a pearl white stationery paper decorated with a blue, lacy ribbon like design around the edges. She scanned downwards to see that the sender was Ms. Elizabeth. The same lavender haired woman who asked her to model a little over a month ago.

The auburn haired girl was curious to know what the contents of the letter contained. Was this a request to come model again? If so, then she would have gently declined. Additionally, Edward wouldn't like it and be upset with her if she appeared in another fashion magazine.

Dear, Orihime.

Thank you once again for participated in this month's Central Times Fashion Magazine. Your participation really saved us. I was actually incredibly astounded by the success of the fashion magazine. It was one of the biggest sells we had in the last two years. If you are ever interested in modeling again, don't be afraid to contact me.

But enough of about that. The real reason for this letter was to invite you, Orihime, to our traditional end of month party to celebrate the success of this month's magazine. Everyone who were featured in it or helped out to make it possible is invited. You are welcomed to bring a guest as well. There are two tickets inside for you and your guest, but only one guest. I really hope to see you at the party!

From Elizabeth.

Orihime was quite shocked as she read the letter over and over again, making sure she didn't miss a single word. She was invited to a fashion party? The whole concept of her being invited to something as extravagant as a fashion party was overwhelming. Being asked to model and featured in a fashion magazine was heart stopping, mind boggling, shock inducingly enough! But now a fashion dance party as well?!

The auburn haired girl dug inside the envelope to discover that there was indeed two tickets in there with a date etched on to it at the bottom corner. She honestly didn't know if she wanted to go to the party or not. The party was being held in Central in about a little over week away. But if Ichigo is not here, maybe she would not go. She wanted her first dance to be with Ichigo. She always dreamed of her first dance to be with the man she loved. That is why she always avoided parties like this. No one else could take his place.


The ginger haired girl snapped out of her musings when the cashier almost shouted her name. "What? Oh, sorry!" she swiftly apologized.

The cashier gave her a firm nod once she caught her customer's attention. She told her the total price of her items, which Orihime paid, absentmindedly.


Orihime almost forgot all about Ms. Elizabeth's invitation. It doesn't matter. She already decided she wouldn't go.

She heard Sammy mew, his green eyes gazing, curiously at the white envelope in her hands.

She smiled, tentatively. "Oh, this? It's nothing to worry about." She quickly tugged the letter back in her back, and climbed out of her chair.

"Let's go eat, Sammy, and show everyone your new outfit!" she squealed, excitedly.

Orihime walked into the living, happily humming along the way with Sammy towing behind her. Edward was the first to spot her from his seat on the couch.

"What are you so chipper about?" he asked, raising a curious eyebrow. Just then, Alphonse emerged from around the corner.

She smiled, brightly. "Good morning, Eddie, Al!" She stepped a little ways to the side to make room for Sammy. "Take a look at Sammy!" she eagerly announced.

On cue, the black and white feline climbed onto the edge of the couch, proudly showing off his new attire.

Ed's golden eyes darted between Orihime and the cat, an incredulous expression etched onto his face. "You played dress up with the cat?" he bemused.

She nodded her head, enthusiastically, unable to contain her excitement. "Doesn't he look cute?"

"I think the clothes look good on Sammy," Alphonse agreed. The cat mewed in delight, showing his appreciation for Al by rubbing his head against his arm, affectionately.

"The cat looks ridiculous," Ed scoffed.

"That's a mean thing to say," the ginger haired girl pouted.

Sammy growled at the blond alchemist in anger and clearly offended.

"We didn't let you keep the cat just so you could play dress up with it, Orihime," he replied, flatly.

The cat leapt at Edward with a fury of a thousand lives. He yelped in pain when Sammy pierced the skin of his right cheek with his sharp, deadly claws.

"Shit!" Ed cursed, holding his now bleeding face. He glared, angrily at the cat. "You damn cat!" he screamed, furiously. He made a mad grab at the feline, who cleverly darted away to avoid getting caught.

And this ensued a hilarious and goofy chase between Edward and Sammy with Ed screaming angry profanities and death threats at the cat all the while.

Orihime took her seat on the couch. "Where is Ms. Izumi and Mr. Sig?" she asked Alphonse.

Al picked up the black and white feline when he leapt into his arms. "Teacher is sick in bed, and Sig is running the shop now," he answered her. "Brother, leave Sammy alone," he chastised his older brother when he tried to reach for the cat.

Ed shifted his narrowed, vindictive eyes at his younger brother, who was holding the infuriating cat protectively in his arms. "Me?!" he yelled, incredulously. "Did you not see that demon cat attacking me, Al?!"

"Sammy is not a demon cat, brother! What horrible thing to say! And it's your own fault for making fun of him!" the suit of armor argued.

The blond alchemist scoffed. "Oh, please. It's not like the cat could understand what I say."

Orihime gasped in dramatic horror. "Don't say that, Eddie! You'll hurt Sammy's feelings!" she reprimanded.

"Why are you taking the cat's side, Orihime?" he whined, appalled. "Did you not see what the cat did to my face?!" He angrily pointed at his the tiny gashes on his right cheek. There was miniscule amounts of blood trickling from the wound.

Orihime leaned forward, inspecting his cheek. Her close proximity caused Ed's face to burn. He did not speak in fear of saying something stupid if he did at this moment.

"Stay here," she instructed, getting off from the couch. "I'll go get some bandages." She dashed off into her room.

Edward watched her walk off, willing his heart to slow down its rapid beating and his face to cool off. He could still feel the warmth of her breath bushing, gently against his face.

"What are we going to do now, brother?"

Alphonse's voice snapped Ed out his embarrassing musings. "Huh? Wha? Oh! I was thinking about confronting Teacher about whether or not she saw the Truth or not, but…," he trailed off, his face turning incredibly pale as a look of pure dread was written on it.

Al shivered in fright, sensing his older brother's fear and hesitation.

Orihime reentered the living room, taking a seat next to Ed. She held Ed's head, tenderly between her hands. Edward inhaled his breath when he instantly felt her lithe fingers and the softness of her skin lightly caressing against his cheeks.

"There!" Orihime exclaimed, happily.

Before he realized, Edward's golden eyes popped up. He wondered when did he close his eyes in the first place? He just felt strangely and endearingly at ease and in peace that he couldn't help but to melt into the vibrant warmth of her hands, the heavenly intoxication of her fragrance, and the blissful serenity of her presence. It was like laying on giant, fluffy cloud while basking in the gentle rays of the sun. So relaxing!

"Um, uh, thanks," Ed said, lamely. He had to say something in order to not appear as an awkward, goofy idiot, or, at least, save some of his dignity. He face was already as red as his coat, which was bad enough.

Orihime smiled, sweetly at him, which made his heart skip a beat.

He heard Al snicker, and he immediately shot his younger brother a dirty look.

"I'm going to go out, you guys," the ginger haired girl announced, catching the Elric brothers off guard.

"What?!" Edward shouted in surprise and a hint of displeasure. "Where are you going?"

Orihime sheepishly waved her hand in front her face, ducking her head away from Ed's scrutinizing glare and Al's curious gaze.

"It's just for a short walk," she explained, hurriedly.

"We could go with you," Al offered.

"Al's right. It's too dangerous for you to be wandering around by yourself," Ed agreed.

"No, no, you guys don't have to," she quickly insisted. "I'll be okay by myself! And with Sammy, I'll be just fine!"

She bent down to Sammy's eye level. "Ready to go, Sammy?" she asked in a sweet voice.

The black and white feline hesitated for a second, his tail flicking to the side. He turned his head away, stubbornly, letting out an uninterested mew.

"Oh," she breathed out, sadly at the cat's lack of enthusiasm. She raised up from her kneeled position. She started walking towards the door. The sound of Sammy's growl stopped her in her tracks.

"Huh?" The auburn haired girl turned a curious gaze at the feline. He's back was hunched up and the hairs on his back was bristling. Even Ed and Al was confused by his oddly bizzare and fickle behavior.

The cat rapidly and viciously flickered his tail back and forth, his legs propped forward and outstretched.

And then suddenly…

He pounced!

Orihime let out a screeched of absolute shock when Sammy abruptly jumped at her. His was hanging on the back of her brown turtleneck, digging his claws tightly into the woolly cloth. His head turned mulishly and adamantly away with an idiosyncratic expression of embarrassment on his face.

The ginger haired girl laughed in amusement, knowing the cat wanted to come, but, in his own stubborn way, refused to admit it. She waved at the slightly confused expressions of Ed and Al.

"I'll be going now."

Edward's golden orbs glanced towards her. He opened his mouth, getting ready to protest, then snapped closed. "Make sure you stay out of trouble," he uttered, curtly, crossing his arms, briskly.

Orihime nodded in agreement. "I will! Bye!"

"See you later, Orihime!" Alphonse waved at her. Ed let out a half hearted wave as the auburn haired healer smiled and closed the door behind her.


In a split second, the sound of several rapid fire gunshots pierced through the air like a loud thunder suddenly and unexpectedly striking past the clouds.

Chloe shrieked, frightenedly, covering her eyes in complete panic and sheer fear.

People who heard the sound of bullets shattering through the sound barrier, screamed in terror, scattering around, distressing panic and hysterical horror, trying to find the safest place to hide.

Chloe bravely fluttered her green eyes open, her heart felt heavy and a sense of paralyzing dread coursed through her body. Her vision slowly cleared, every second felt like her skin was prickled with ice picks. Her breathing was becoming steadily shallow as flashbacks of the last moments she saw of her mother being manhandled by brutal and vicious men entered her mind. The brown haired, young girl's brain was unable think out of crippling fear.

When her bright, green orbs gradually pried open, a foreboding sense of trepidation and trembling, disquieting unease invaded her senses.

Was the woman alright? How badly was she hurt? Should she call an ambulance? Was the lady…? She gulped, fearfully nervous. Was…? Was she dead?

Chloe felt a heavy and dreadful ping in her heart. Just the agonizing picture of it, left her feeling awfully sick to her stomach, grimy puddle of nausea swirled, terribly inside her gut. She had swallow down the rising bile in her mouth.

Her senses slowly yet surely started coming back to her. With her foggy mind somewhat cleared, her eyes swiftly scanned for the dark haired lady's whereabouts. Her heart thumped, wildly, praying, desperately for the lady's safety.

The three men were gone. Thank god! A sense of relief washed over her knowing that. That didn't the mean the flickering sense of dread left her.

Her tiny feet threaded through the solid ground inch by inch. Her green eyes darting every which way, feeling distraught with her senses on high alert.

Much to her surprise and great disappoint, the dark haired woman was gone as well. Where did she go? What if she was hurt?

Panicked, Chloe began searching for the missing lady. She pressed her fingers lightly against the wall the buildings, slowly easing herself around. Her breath hitched and her senses on hyper alert. She tried to stay as quiet as possible in case those men were hiding out near here. The only sound she could hear was her own heartbeat pounding against her chest.

Everyone else already dispersed, continuing on with their. Of course, there were several that were shaking up and a some throwing nasty complaints and insults, but, other than that, everything was relatively back to normal.

The brown haired child slowly peeked her head around the corner of the street. Her green eyes brightened, stunned beyond belief. However, despite that, an overwhelming feeling of relief and gratifying joy washed over her.

Without thinking, Chloe hurriedly dashed towards the lady. Her tiny feet beating, loudly against the pavement.

Once the woman was a mere arm lengths away, the young girl shot towards her, wrapping her small arms tightly around one of the lady's legs. She held on as firmly as she could, fearing that if she let go, the lady would suddenly disappear.

She thought she felt the woman's leg stiffened slightly, but it could've just been her imagination. That was what she believed until Chloe gasped, realizing what she was doing, and pulled away abruptly, her face flushed with embarrassment and apologetic for throwing herself at the lady like that. She was a complete stranger, after all!

The brown haired girl glanced up, meekly at the dark haired woman, only to shyly advert her green eyes away when they made contact with the woman's mysterious, purple orbs.

Her dark brows scrunched forward in recognition. "Oh, you're that child from yesterday," the lady droned out, voice full of indifference. "What is it? What do you want, child?"

Chloe flinched, timidly playing with her fingers. "…"

"If you don't need anything, go away. I've got no time to babysit children," the lady said, coldly. The heels of her feet began softly clicking against the ground as she resumed walking before Chloe interrupted her.

Chloe was deeply contemplating her current situation. She was really glad the woman was alright. She wanted tell the lady that, express feelings and her worries. But she couldn't. Something about the strange lady left the little girl feeling quite intrigued and weirdly safe. She just couldn't explain it. Her brain wracked up with many different theories on why she felt this way.

Maybe because she was the first grownup who did not look at her with pity or disdain since her mother's passing. Maybe it was something mysterious and awe inspiring about her that attracted Chloe. Or maybe she was just lonely, desperately craving for affection and attention. Any form of attention. After all, she was just a scared, small child out on the streets alone with no one to take care of her.

A few agonizing, heart stopping seconds passed before Chloe's feet began mindlessly pacing forward until the picked up into a full blown sprint, following after the black haired woman.

The weather in Dublith was very hot and humid. Not as hot as Rush Valley, but it was still pretty warm out. Orihime was wandering through the unfamiliar streets, trying to get a read on her surroundings.

"So, Sammy, where do you think we should go?" Orihime asked the feline riding on her head. "I mean, what do you hope to find here?"

The black and white cat simply mewed, his green eyes gazing around, lazily.

The auburn haired girl let out small, disappointed sigh. She lifted the cat from her head and held him in her arms until they were at eye level.

"C'mon, Sammy!" She pouted. "I can't help you, if you don't tell me. That's the reason why you followed Al, isn't It? Because you wanted him to help fulfill your wish."

Sammy just mewed, grumpily, defiantly turning his head away. That gesture caused Orihime to pale, dejectedly.

"You know, you shouldn't talk to a cat in the middle of the street. People may get the impression that you're crazy."

Orihime jumped, startled, hurriedly whipped her head around, and was meet with a tall, dark haired man. His eyes were obscured by a pair of sunglasses, so she couldn't see what color they were. He wore a simple black t-shirt underneath a black, leather jacket with white fur trimmings around the collar.

But the ginger haired girl inwardly gasped in shock and agitation when she finally got a good grasp on his spirit energy.

This guy…! He was homunculus!

"Um, hello," she whispered out, nervously, her voice barely audible. She held Sammy in her arms, protectively in case the homunculus tried anything. "Who are you?"

"Who? Me?" The man mouth split open into a wide, smug grin. "The name's Greed!" he proclaimed, proudly. He leaned forward, nonchalantly, checking Orihime out. "I haven't seen you around this place, dollface. What's your name?"

The auburn haired girl took a small step back, apprehensively, not like how this guy was invading her personal space. He was making her uncomfortable.

The hairs on Sammy's back bristled as he growled, lowly underneath his breath. He looked about seconds away from leaping at Greed, furiously digging his claws into the man's skin.

"I, um… I… I've got to go." She took another step back, her gray eyes darting back and forth, uneasily. She swiftly turned on her heels, getting ready to take off in a random direction when a strong and firm hand wrapped itself around her wrist, stopping her in her tracks.

"Hey now! That was kind of rude," Greed spoke with mock hurt. "I was just asking for your name."

The ginger haired girl wiggled her wrist, uncomfortably, trying the get the message that he was making her feel uneasy, and to have enough courtesy to let her go. But he seemed to either not pay any attention or just flat out ignoring her discomfort.

Greed dug into the pocket of his trousers. He pulled out a card and handed it to her. "Here's my card. Come to that place, if you are looking for a good time." He flashed her flirty smirk before disappearing off into the distance.

Orihime stood there, frozen in both confusion and anxiety for a bit. Sammy's concerned mew snapped her out of her uneasy state.

She offered the cat a half smile. "I'm okay, Sammy. But what did he give me?" She held the card to her eye level. It was a small, black card with a red border and a symbol of the devil. 'Devil's Nest' was written squarely in the middle in crude, red ink.

She took a minute to ponder to herself if she would warn Ed and Al that there is a homunculus around here. Although, even if he did make her feel uneasy, he didn't seem to be all that bad. Should she give him the benefit of the doubt?

Another anxious mew erupted from the black and white feline.

"Sorry for spacing out again, Sammy," the auburn haired girl apologized, sheepishly. She stuffed the card into the pocket of her skirt. "C'mon, let's continue our walk. And you can tell me what you are searching for."

"I'm back!" Orihime announced once she entered inside the Curtis home. The sun was already starting to set, casting an orange hue over the horizon.

A quick flash of red and gold appeared before her line of sight. The blur became to swiftly clear enough to reveal Edward giving her a stern scowl.

Uh, oh. She knew was in trouble. It was really late, after all.

She offered the blond alchemist a sheepish smile. "Good evening, Eddie."

"You're late," Ed grumbled, displeased.


"Don't 'hehe' me. Where have you been?" he demanded, impatiently.

"I was just taking a walk," she answered. "I lost track of time. Sorry."

Edward frowned even more. His golden eyes slowly gazed at her body up and down, checking it for any injuries. When he didn't find any, he let out a exasperated sigh.

Metallic footsteps began to resound through the hallway, becoming louder and louder as it came closer and closer.

Sammy immediately hopped off her shoulder, eagerly running off. Behind the corner of the door, an affectionate purr escaped from him. A hollowed chuckle followed.

Alphonse soon made his appearance, holding a satisfied and content Sammy in his arms. "Welcome back, Orihime," he greeted his female companion. "You back just in time, too. Teacher already finished making dinner."

The ginger haired girl smiled. "That's great! Let's eat!"

Dinner went on smoothly. Of course, Orihime was questioned, but she managed to brush off the mild interrogation easily. She didn't really do anything and that was the truth. But Izumi did strictly and firmly warn her not to stay out late again. After that, everything was fairly uneventful. Just a light and happy chattering among friends. She carefully watched Ed's and Al's interactions with Izumi, and seemed to be more of a mother and her two sons instead of a teacher and student relationship, which made her smile a bit. It showed how close Ed and Al were to their teacher.

Afterwards, Orihime said goodnight to Ed and Al, and entered her room along with Sammy. She flopped down onto the body, her gray eyes staring, listlessly at the ceiling. Sammy padded across the floor, taking a comfortable spot next to the foot of the bed. She smiled, softly as the cat laid down and went to sleep.

She thought about the events of what happened. More specifically, what Sammy told her about his family. The short version of it… He and his baby sister died in a car accident. They didn't know they were dead, so they went wandering aimlessly around the streets of Dublith searching for their parents. Of course, they were confused on why no one could see them. Sammy eventually got frustrated at being actively ignored, and decided to forgo asking anybody for help, much to his sister's fear and chagrin.

Their peaceful afterlife didn't last long though. They were soon attacked by a white masked monster. Orihime instantly knew by that moment Sammy was describing a Hollow. As he recalled his story from there, he could barely retain his fury, his anger, and his fear. It was if he was reliving the horrific moment all over again. His utter terror and distinguishable panic when he saw the Hollow devour his sister right before his horrifying petrified eyes. The next thing he knew...he was forcibly stuffed into the body of a random, stray cat.

Even now, the auburn haired girl could still reimagine the burning rage and bitter hatred in the cat's slitted, green eyes as he recounted his tale. And now, Orihime knew what Sammy's purpose was, what was keeping his soul anchored to the World of the Living. He wanted to avenge his sister's death. That explains why he was so impatient to return back to Dublith, but he knew he couldn't avenge his sister yet, not by himself. He needed allies.

Orihime couldn't fault Sammy for having vengeance cloud his judgement, even though he could have potentially put Alphonse in danger. She felt obligated to help him in his revenge quest. Not only to help him fulfill his goal so he could move on, but she could not exactly let a Hollow roam free.

But the question remained… How was she going to find the Hollow?

Orihime figured the first thing she do was to explore the streets of Dublith once again. But just walking around aimlessly would get her nowhere. She needed a clear goal, a location where a Hollow would be sure to hide. Somewhere isolated, a place it has a lingering attachment to, or perhaps an area where people pass through on a regular basis, but also secluded enough that citizens won't immediately notice when someone suddenly vanished.

After getting dressed and ready, Orihime made her way into the living room. Sammy was still sleeping, and Edward hadn't made his appearance. He must be sleeping as well.

"Ah, good morning, Orihime," Alphonse greeted her.

She jumped out of her skin in shock because she barely registered him coming.

She whipped her head around, rapidly. "Oh? Al! I didn't see you there!"

"Uh, sorry for scaring you," Al replied, sheepishly.

The ginger haired girl shook her head. "It's alright." She took a seat on the couch. "What do you guys plan to do now?"

The suit hummed, pondering, deeply on Orihime's question. "We couldn't get what we hoped for by coming here, and I admit that it was a bit of a letdown. But it was real nice to see teacher again. Brother suggested we stay a few days, and have teacher train us," he answered, proudly.

"That's good. Sounds nice." Orihime smiled, pleasantly, stretching her tired limbs.

There was a short pause. She wanted to ask Al if he noticed any notable changes to the town since the last time he'd been here. But the auburn haired girl didn't know how to voice her question in an inconspicuous manner.

Alphonse took notice of the deeply contemplative look on Orihime's facial expression. Whatever she was thinking about, it left her quite conflicted. He wondered if she was troubled by something. He decided to ask her.

"Is something wrong, Orihime?" the soul bonded armor inquired, concerned. It was such a cliche way of voicing his worries, but that didn't mean it was a bad way. Simple and straightforward are best.

"Oh!" Gray eyes widened in surprise as if she was caught slightly off guard. She then began to fidget with ends of her skirt. "How does it feel to be back in Dublith? I mean, has it changed at all?"

Orihime was dutifully hoping for an answer that would give her even the tiniest speck of clue that could lead her to the Hollow's hideout.

"Huh?" Al breathed out, a bit confused. He wasn't expecting that as a response. It seemed too credulously innocent and neutrally artless for the ginger haired girl to be nervously fretting over.

He unconsciously scratched the side of his helmet. If he had a face, his brows would be furrowed, thoughtfully, a sense of nostalgia etching across his expression. "No, everything's seems to be the same," he answered, shortly.

Orihime exhaled, feeling defeated and greatly disappointed. She was truly hoping Al would provide her with some sort of lead. Now, what was going to do? At this point, her best bet was just to wander around the streets again until she sensed the Hollow's location, but who knows how long that would be and they are in Dublith for a few days. She's short on time!

Alphonse noticed the auburn haired girl's shoulders slump, dejectedly and her disappointed sigh. His answer greatly discouraged her. He didn't know why, and it greatly puzzled him. Something was definitely troubling the ginger haired girl. He just doesn't what it is.

Just then Izumi entered the room with a stern look on her face.

"If you guys are already up, you can help me get breakfast started!" she ordered in a no nonsense attitude.

Fearfully, Alphonse immediately stood at attention. "Yes, ma'am!"

"Good," the older woman nodded in approval. "Al, you could start dusting around." Her strict, dark eyes then landed on Orihime before softening a bit. "How about you help me in the kitchen, Orihime?"

Orihime nodded her, jubilantly. "Yes, of course!"

Orihime was busy helping Sig cut up some of the veggies they were serving for breakfast, which consisted of some carrots and fresh tomatoes. She shifted her leg slightly, accidently bumping it against the counter. When she did she grew somewhat puzzled as she felt something in her pocket. She dug into her pocket, and pulled it out just enough to reveal a corner black with a red linings on the end.

She had completely forgot about this card! This is the same card the homunculus, Greed, gave her! And she hadn't told Ed and Al about the guy, the fact wholly slipping from her mind.

The auburn haired pocketed the card, returning to dicing up the carrots, her mind deep in thought. She should take a risk and visit Greed? Would that be a good idea? No, even she laughed at the insanity of the plan. Her utterly contemplating something absolutely dangerous and potentially throwing herself at an enemy shows how anxious and desperate she's becoming.

But still, as much as she found the idea dangerously silly and undoubtedly reckless, Greed was, nevertheless, her only option at the moment.

"Is something the matter, Orihime?"

Sig's concerned question snapped the aforementioned girl from her pathetically strategic speculations, his gruff voice echoing through her ear.

"Ah, I was just thinking," Orihime hastily replied, hurriedly returned to chopping the carrots, redoubling her efforts.

Sig wasn't buying, nonetheless, he let the subject drop.

There was a moment of relative silence.

Suddenly, it felt as if a light bulb Orihime flickered inside her head. Sig had lived here almost all of his life. Maybe he could give her some idea of where to start looking first.

"Um, Mr. Sig?" the ginger haired spoke, lowly.

Sig made a soft grunt, indicating that he was listening, the dull thudding of his knife hitting the board resounding softly, almost quietly.

"I have a question to ask you," she started, nervously nibbling on the bottom of her lip. How was she supposed to ask this without sounding too suspicious or strangely questionable? She wracked her brain up with many different ideas and variations of her foregone question, but nothing came up. Maybe she should just...go for broke.

"Do you know any place devoid of people, like somewhere around almost completely isolated from society?" the auburn haired girl questioned, trying to keep her tone as even as possible.

She was acutely aware of Sig's eyes drilling holes in the back of her head, scrutinizing her. She casually continued to chop the carrots, doing her absolute best to ignore his hard stares. She had to appear as nonchalant as possible in order to seem unsuspicious.

"There is a small island about east from here across the sea," Sig eventually answered her. Orihime desperately contained her excited squeal. At last, she was finally getting a lead to go on!

"Izumi brought the boys there for their first lesson in alchemy," he continued. "I don't know what you are looking for, but you might start there."

The auburn haired girl nodded her head in what she hoped was an absent minded gesture. She had to suppress the huge grin from spreading across her lips.

Ultimately, she found a place to start at last!

"That's the island Sig told me about," Orihime muttered, staring a small land out in the distance. The gentleness of the sea's waves reached her ears and her nose could pick up the saltiness of the breeze. It felt peaceful and relaxing.

Sammy stretched his body, letting out a lazing meow. He padded up to the water's waves. He reached and tapped an experimental paw against the coolness of the water. He purred, softly, enjoying the calming sea rejuvenating him.

Orihime smiled when Sammy joyfully started playfully splashing in the water. It was almost welcoming and invigorating to witness Sammy truly acting like the child he is, notwithstanding being stuck inside a cat's body. It was a nice change of pace to not seem being consumed by anger and revenge and actually enjoying himself.

Although, as much as she wanted to let the black and white cat play in the water with childlike glee, the ginger haired knew that had more important and dire matters to intend to. She tried as best as she could to hone in on any foreign spirit energy, but she couldn't pick up any. Hmm, maybe she needed to verily be on the island to get a better read. This could be a Hollow that knows how to hide its spiritual pressure. And considering that the island was merely just a tiny speck dot from her vantage point indicates that the island must be miles away. They needed a boat to get to it. But where would they find one? Maybe she should head back in town and see if anyone had a boat she could borrow.

With much reluctance, Orihime pulled out the Devil's Nest card Greed handed her yesterday. Despite her better judgement, and, plus, she had no one else to turn to, she was seriously contemplating asking the homunculus for help. It was a dangerously stupid idea she knew that, but, right now, it seemed to be her only choice. And she definitely couldn't request a boat from Ms. Izumi. That would rise a whole slew of questions, especially from Ed and Al.

She stared at the card, determinedly one more time.

Greed it was!

Orihime stared at the broken down side. Her gray eyes glanced at the card in her hand, double checking label on the card at hand.

Sammy stood up straight right beside her, his ears on high alert as he gave a uneasy meow.

Orihime sent the apprehensive cat a half, reassuring smile. "I know you are nervous and you have doubts, Sammy, but Greed is our best option into getting on that island," she said, trying to soothe the cat.

Sammy breathe out a tiny, almost snarky mew like he was nearly asking her if she was sure about that. However, the auburn haired girl either didn't hear the sarcasm in the feline's tone or was ignoring it.

Raising a tentative hand up, she balls her hand and firmly taps her knuckles against the door.

Several agonizing minutes passed until the door slowly creaked open. The cranky squeakiness of the sound it was making was a big indicator that it was not in good maintenance.

Orihime stood still with bated breath, her heart hammering with adrenaline and anticipation. Her senses were on high alert and her shoulders were rigid with her guard up. She put on her best professional game face like she was taking a job interview because she was going to treat this similar to a business meeting. Getting a boat was the only reason she came to a potential enemy's hideout.

At long last, the door finally swung all the way open. The smell of whiskey alcohol, and smoke instantly invaded her nose. Disgruntled, Sammy mewed in disgust, trying to cover his sensitive nose with one of his paws. Beyond the frame of the entryway stood a short, muscular man. He had short, pointy, black hair and narrow, blue eyes. He had a very pronounced nose and chin, and a overall short stature. He wore what appears to be white martial artist shirt on top of a black undershirt and dark pants. Orihime instantly took notice of the katana at his side.

Just behind him, she could barely make out the outlines of a small bar. It had a light brown counter and all kinds of beers, liquors, and whiskies on shelves. And there was a bartender serving drinks.

"Who are you? What do you want?" he asked, voice hard and steely, making her gray eyes snap back to him.

The ginger haired girl bravely stood her ground, trying not let this guy intimidate her. She kept her voice as even as possible. "Hello. This is the Devil's Nest, right? I'm here to see Greed. Is he here?"

The man paused, giving her a look with a mixture of disinterest and mild disgust. "You're one of those company," he sneered, slightly as if he was implying something, which merely caused the auburn haired girl to raise a confused brow, the implication completely lost on her. "Wait right here," he instructed as he disappeared inside, closing the door but not all the way, leaving it partially adjacent.

Oh, Orihime felt so nervous! Her arms were practically shaking and her palms were becoming clammy with sweat. Sammy jumped onto her shoulder, rubbing his face against hers in an affectionate reassuring manner.

The auburn haired girl would normally squeal, happily and giggle in glee, taking in the delight that this was the first time Sammy showed her any affection that wasn't hidden by a dismissive bravado.

She smiled, softly at the cat. "Thanks, Sammy."

The next moment, the door swung open and there stood Greed. Just the person she came to see. He wore a flirty, cocky smirk as he nonchalantly leaned against the doorframe.

"You came," Greed spoke, the words coming out more as a statement than question as if he was confident she would come.

Orihime involuntarily shivered, feeling uncomfortable by the way the homunculus was leering at her. Sammy's hairs stood on end as he hissed, lowly. She gently pet the black and white feline to calm him down somewhat. His hissing ceased, but still glared, darkly at Greed with his slitted, green eyes. The ginger haired girl smiled before turning her attention back on Greed.

The ginger haired girl did her best to school her face into a neutral, professionalist expression. "I'm here because I want to ask a favor, Greed."

Greed cocked a brow, his lips twisting into an amused grin. "Ask me favor? Haha! You sure have guts asking me for a favor considering we only met yesterday."

She inhaled, deeply to calm the anxiety rushing through her veins. "Pardon me," she said as politely as she could. "But do you have a boat I could borrow?"

Now, the avaricious homunculus quirked a brow, his usual cocky smirk gone replaced with confusion. "A boat?"

"Yes. I need a boat to able to get to an island I want to investigate."

"Really?" Greed seemed intrigued. "What's on that island you are so interested in?"

Orihime sucked in a breathe, not knowing how to explain it. She needed to think of an excuse and fast!

"There's nothing on the island. Nothing that I know of. I just want to explore it, that's all," she answered. It was, technically, the truth.

Greed just stared at her with a total neutral expression. Orihime tried to keep herself calm, despite the nervous hammering of her heart, hoping he believed her little fib.

"What's in it for me?" he finally asked, his lips twisting upwards in an almost menacing grin.

The auburn haired girl gulped. She shifted her balance on her left leg. "That depends. What do you want?" She hoped it was something they could agree on, and wouldn't cause conflict and them getting into a fight. She needed all the energy she could for the inevitable fight against the Hollow. A needless fight would just slow her down.

Greed leered at her, his eyes trailing down to her chest before traveling back to her face. "I think you know what I want," he said, cryptically.

However, confused, Orihime only cocked her head. "Huh?"

The homunculus smirk twisted into a disturbing combination of malicious and flirtatious. "I'm Greed! I want money, power, women! Sex, status, glory! I crave the finer things!" he boasted as if he was reciting his personal philosophy.

The ginger haired girl was still quite puzzled by what all that was supposed to mean. "So…," she started, slowly. "...You want a girlfriend?" she guessed, unsure.

At that clueless remark, Greed's face faulted. "You're pretty slow, aren't you?" he deadpanned.

Orihime didn't get it. "The answer is a 'no' then?"

Greed had to resist the urge to facepalm. Sammy was watching him, warily.

"Urgh!" the avaricious homunculus groaned in frustration. What's with this woman? He never knew someone could be so dense? "You know what? Nevermind."

There was a pause as Greed contemplated another alternative. After all, he wanted payment for his services.

"Let's exchange information. How about that? Equivalent exchange."

Gray eyes blinked as she shifted. "What kind of information do you want?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Anything that could be of use to me and my ambitions."

"Information?" She hesitated, not sure what kind of information the homunculus would want. "I'm not sure I have anything…"

Greed gave her a disapproving look. "Look," he sighed. "If you don't have anything for me, then you could just forget asking me for a favor. I don't do charity work." He began closing the door.

Orihime was inwardly panicking. She couldn't mess this up! He was probably her only chance to get to that island! "Wait!" she exclaimed, hoping her small outburst would make him pause momentarily. She had to think of something quick! Some useful information. She wracked her brain for anything that may be noteworthy news, but nothing came up. She obviously couldn't say anything about her being from another world or the world of spirits and ghosts. What else is there? C'mon, brain, think! Think!

"The Fuhrer is a homunculus!" the auburn haired girl all but blurted out, then quickly covering her mouth, stunned and embarrassed by her what she just said. She felt so stupid shouting that. Greed is a homunculus, too! Of course, he knows the Fuhrer is one as well.

Much to both her astonishment and bewilderment, the avaricious homunculus did the exact opposite of what she thought he would do. Instead of sighing in disappoint, getting impatient and angry, or laughing at her stupidity, his eyes grew almost impossibly wide. She could see the stupefied, flabbergasted daze in them. He was completely overwhelmed and dumbstruck.

He… He didn't know the Fuhrer was like him? A homunculus?

Orihime opted to remain, believing it was best to wait for Greed's response once he recovered from that shocking revelation.

Slowly, his hand shot up to scratch under his chin. "Damn. So they hit that deep into Amestris?" he muttered to himself.

She tilted her head, unable to hear him. "What?"

He shook his head. "Nothing." Then he narrowed his eyes as if realizing something crucial. "How do you know this?"

"When I talked to King Bradley that day, I felt that he was...different," Orihime answered, honestly.

Greed quirked a brow. "Different?"

She nodded her head. "I wasn't sure at first. I sensed that he was the same as you, Lust, and Gluttony, yet, at the same time, he wasn't. Now, I understand that maybe...he's a mixed breed. Some sort of half human, half homunculus hybrid."

The auburn haired girl surely wasn't expecting it when Greed suddenly burst out laughing.

"Now, that piques my interest!" he howled in glee. "Fuhrer King Bradley is a homunculus, huh? That is worth looking into. After all, I can't have another homunculus ruling over this country, over me. I'm Greed!"

He placed his hands on his hips, staring at Orihime with renewed satisfaction and delight. "You wanted a boat, right?"

Orihime . "Huh? Oh, um, yeah." She guessed their deal was sealed.

"Great. Tell me where you need and I'll have some of my men bring it to you."

She did it! The ginger haired girl felt completely overjoyed she could almost scream in happiness. Then I thought occurred to her. She had to make sure this wasn't a trick. "How do I know you're not lying?" she asked with a bit of skepticism in her tone.

The homunculus feigned a hurt expression. "Hey, I may be a lot of things, but I don't tell lies. It's not my policy."

She nodded her head. That was good enough for her as she began telling him the exact place and location his subordinates should bring the boat.

Now, she could get to that island!

"This is it, Sammy," Orihime spoke, holding the feline in her arms. Sammy mewed, staring, determinedly at the island that soon awaits them ahead.

This was it. He was finally going to be able to take his revenge on the monster that killed his sister.

The crisp, salty air calmly penetrated their noses, the cool breeze swept, carefreely and smoothly through their hair, and her feet were tickled by the gently rushing water.

Orihime stared, intently at the island, trying to come with a strategy for when she faces the Hollow in case of the worst possible scenario. But nothing came up, and she decided to just wing. She had to fight off the Hollow while protecting Sammy. Shouldn't be too difficult.

Sammy's ears twitched when he heard the sound of footsteps hitting the soft sand. He perked up, twisting his head around. Orihime followed his gaze to see two well built men carrying a small boat with rowers attached. They must be Greed's men here to deliver the boat she requested.

She smiled to herself. So, he really did keep his end of the deal. Maybe he wasn't so bad after all. Perhaps, some homunculi do have standards. They aren't as chaotically evil or irredeemable monsters as people make them out to be.

Could people just assume all homunculi are evil just because they weren't born human or show supernatural feats? She wasn't naive enough believe that prejudice that like doesn't exist in the world. But she also knew some people had first hand experiencing a homunculi's evil nature, so they had a legitimate reason to surmise that all homunculi are malicious and sinister threats to humanity. Like Ed and Al for instance.

They placed the boat at the edge of the water. She saw them turned their gazes towards, and solemnly nodded their heads before walking away.

She waved at their backs. "Thank you!" she shouted, showing her appreciation. She stared ahead, her gray orbs burning with strong determination. "Now, it's finally time to investigate that island."

Orihime took her time rowing the boat, an afterthought about this being the first time she had actually rowed a boat crossed her. However, she couldn't happily dwell on the thought because this was a serious matter.

Sammy was positioned at the edge of the boat, keeping his eyes out for anything suspicious. His furry body shivered in anticipation. His eyes glued, single mindedly to the island ahead as it came more and more into view as they inched closer to it.

At last, she reached the edge of the island. Orihime gingerly hopped out of the boat, being mindful not to let it rock. Her gray eyes stared at the peaceful scenery. She could hear the gentle rustling of leaves of the trees that stood fifty feet into the air. The fresh smell of grass waft through her nostrils. There was no presence or traces of any form of human contact. This island was absolutely primitive. Nature at its most basic and instinctive form.

The orangish yellow glow, making the sea sparkle of several colors, informed the ginger haired girl that the sun was starting to set. She stared in wondrous awe at the majestically beautiful sight. She just wished she could watch this magnificent scenery forever.

Then the auburn haired girl remembered something crucial. She didn't tell Ed and Al where she going, did she? Ah, dangit! She promised she wouldn't stay out late again. She was going to be so much trouble when she back. Maybe she should've of thought this more thoroughly and came to the island tomorrow. She didn't realize how late it actually was.

Orihime inwardly groaned in misery at the angry lecture she would no doubt receive. And the subsequent 'explanation' for her absence she would soon have to provide.

Now, the matter of the sun… Guess, she'd be sleeping on the island tonight. She only had an hour or two of daylight left before it gets completely dark.

She really didn't think any of this through.

Sammy mewed, impatiently, snapping Orihime out of her comically depressed musings.

"Coming!" she called out the restless and anxious cat.

Orihime carefully maneuvered around the trees and bushes, diligently trying to sense out any foreign presence. She halted in her steps when she heard the leaves of the bush softly swish. Her gray eyes widened and she turned around, alarmed, only to calm down it was just a rabbit scurrying to its nest.

She heard the musical chirping of birds overhead. She tilted her head up to watch them soar, gracefully through the sky, disappearing into the trees. She smiled at all the animals racing home for the night, returning to their families and loved ones.

"I wonder how Ichigo, Tatsuki, and the others are doing?" she mused to herself. She then frowned. How long has she been gone? It's been over half a year by now. Her friends must be worried sick. Have they searched for ways to get her home?

She felt homesick. She wanted to get home as soon as possible. She missed her friends, she missed going to school and having fun with all her classmates. She wished she could try those new addition lemon frosting flavored donuts just one more time. She missed the park, watching children running around, playing on the playground, and their parents watching over them with sweet smiles on their faces. She missed watching and reading her favorite TV shows and manga. She missed her Tatsuki and her classmates, Rukia and the Soul Reapers, even though the petite Soul Reaper stopped coming after Ichigo lost his powers. But, most of all, she missed Ichigo.

She missed Ichigo so much! Not a day goes by that she doesn't think of him. She thinks about all the time, even in her dreams. She longed to smell the spicy scent of his hair, the savory, masculine aura he exudes when she's in close proximity of him. His warm, chocolate brown eyes, his cute scowls, his slender and muscular physique that she always itched to trace her fingers over every nook and cranny of his abs and chest. But what she missed most of all was Ichigo's caring and protective personality.

Orihime's face heated up, her cheeks turning a deep scarlet red. Dear god, she sounded like a lovesick puppy! She inwardly squealed, covering her face in embarrassment. If anyone else could hear her thoughts, she would surely die of humiliation.

She just...wanted to return home as soon as possible!

"But what about Eddie? And Al?" her mind interrupted her. That's right. What about them? Even if her friends did come to rescue her, she couldn't just leave them. Didn't she make a promise? Didn't she promise Edward she would stay by his side until both he and Al got their bodies back?

That was the promise she made back when she was trapped in that dreamworld. In a world where Orihime Inoue never met Edward and Alphonse Elric. She was happy in that world, blissfully satisfied. A peaceful world where she was enjoying every moment of her life with her friends.

The auburn haired girl was even going to confess her feelings to that dreamworld Ichigo. Sure, she was nervous. She was so nervous that her heart wouldn't stop hammering in her chest, her hands were fidgeting uncontrollably, and the butterflies in her stomach wouldn't swarming.

However, the ginger haired girl also felt giddy with excitement and anticipation. She's been bottling up her feelings for years. Imagines of them dating, the two of them finally becoming boyfriend and girlfriend flashed, euphorically inside her head. Becoming Ichigo's girlfriend was all she could think about. That simply gleeful, exhilarating happy thought was enough to make the nerves in her skin worth it.

But then something stopped her. She couldn't explain it. It wasn't just the rejection because somewhere, deep down, she knew Ichigo was going to accept her confession. In retrospect, now she knew why she was so confident he was going to become her boyfriend. It was her dream! Everything she wanted!

No. What stopped her was something different. Something unusual, yet it felt so familiar. Displays of the person's silhouette image popped into her head like flashing sirens. It came and went so rapidly and spontaneously that it gave her migraines every time she tried concentrating on it.

And yet, she knew… She knew something, no someone was missing. Someone was supposed to be there with her, by her side. She couldn't confess her feelings to Ichigo until she figured out this mysterious person ones, who was this person that haunts her thoughts so terribly.

Soon enough, she found out it was Edward.

When she realized it was Ed, a quick montage of everything they went through swooshed inside her head like a grand symphony. This revelation shocked her to the core so much that it caused her mind to blackout for a second. It made her heart ached, and each time she thought of him, her heart ached more and more. She wanted to go back to him. She wanted to see him again! She didn't why, it just felt weird and extremely wrong not having Ed there in that dreamworld.

Eventually, that dreamworld shattered and she was back. In Edward's arms. And that's when she made her promise. Her promise to stand by his side until he and Al get their bodies back, no matter what. A promise she wholeheartedly intends on keeping because she wants stay by Ed's side until the very end.

It was getting so dark out now, Orihime could barely make out the trail ahead. She wanted to keep moving forward, reminding herself that she had a Hollow to exterminate. Exterminate. She giggled to herself. She sounded like a bug exterminator.

She let out a startled yelp when she tripped over a random branch on the ground. "Owie!" she moaned in pain, tenderly rubbing her right shin. Her gray eyes glanced over at it, a quiet sigh of relief escaping past her lips when she realized she wasn't bleeding.

Her ears rung when she heard Sammy's concerned mews. The black and white feline padding towards, the leaves softly scrunching under his feet. His green orbs were filled with worry and unease as he inspected her injured leg.

Orihime smiled, touched by the cat's concern over her. "I'm fine, Sammy," she assured the feline. "Luckily, my leg isn't bruised."

Something sparked within her, a warning sign. She quickly and instinctively activated her Santen Kesshun. A subsequent explosion, resulting in a blast of spirit energy.

Orihime's gray eyes widened in shock and alarm at the sheer amount of Hollows facing them. There must be, at least, half a dozen of them! Why couldn't she sense them earlier? Or were they nearby the whole time, and she was just too distracted by her own thoughts to notice?

She didn't have time to reflect on her mistake when her a blast of spirit energy shot her once again. This time Shiten Koshen, repelling the attack and sending it right back at the Hollow, ultimately destroying it.

It seems the Hollows aren't that strong. But still, they were outnumbered. Not to mention, Orihime has to protect Sammy and fight off the rest of the Hollows at the same time. It won't be easy. She needed to her guard up at all times.

A Hollow roared, opening his mouth, a blast of a sticky web like substance sprouting forth. Orihime grabbed a panicked Sammy, and dodged out of the way.

This was not good! The forest was so densely packed, it was hard to maneuver around the trees. She had to dodge attacks from the Hollows and dodge, being extremely mindful and careful not to run into one while she was trying to avoid the Hollows' attempts to end her life.

Fighting in the forest was really bad. She was at a disadvantage. She had to get to a more open area. Too bad she didn't know where that is, or if even exists. The only place devoid of trees would be the shore where her boat still lies, but she had regretfully forgotten which path she took.

The ginger haired almost let out panicked scream when an acidic liquid barely missed her by mere inches, hitting the bark of the tree instead, melting it instantly. The tree fell over, landing with a loud crash. The chirping of the birds grew frantic as they flew away, greatly alarmed.

Orihime quickly Tsubaki towards that one, cutting of its legs in the process. It let out a loud screech of pain as it toppled to the ground. Sending Tsubaki again, she killed it before it could recover and regroup. Two down, four more to go.

Where were the other ones? It was too dark to see. The best she could was sense the oppressive spiritual pressure of the Hollows to locate them.

The auburn haired girl barely had time to register Sammy's frightened cry before something slammed against her, hard. She flew across several trees until her back hit against a large rock, fiercely knocking the wind out of her. She was left in a temporary daze, her whole body aching in pain. She subconsciously activated her Soten Kisshun, covering her injured body under her healing dome.

Sammy's terrified cries became more frantic. Orihime could make out the cat's desperate pleas, but her body was in too much pain for her to move. Just a few more minutes then she would be able to get to Sammy before the Hollows do.

Fortunately, the terrified feline managed to find her. Unfortunately, so did the Hollows. One of the Hollows shot its claw at Sammy. In panicked alarm, the ginger haired girl activated Santen Kesshun, protecting the cat from the attack. In quick succession, her Koten Zanshun pierced through the Hollow that viciously tried to take down her protective shield. After a small, hellish shriek, the Hollow disintegrated.

Three more. Just three more, Orihime encouraged herself, deactivating her healing dome. Her body was healed just enough the she could move. The pain was nothing more than a dull ache.

"C'mon, Sammy, get on!" Orihime shouted, urgently, holding her arm out. The black and white feline didn't hesitate to hop on and climb up to her shoulder.

Another spray of acid flew overhead. She swiftly ducked out of the way as the rock began to melt in her stead. She had to do something about that acid spitting Hollow. One hit from that could possibly kill her, if not give her serious injuries.

She hurriedly sprinted away, her legs aching from the slight pain though. She could hear the sound of rushing water nearby. Her feet picked up the pace, unconsciously taking her to the source.

An open field! Perfect! Granted, it was near a waterfall, but as long as she doesn't fall off, she shouldn't worry about it.

Another loud crash of a tree alerted her. "They're coming." She braced herself. She could feel Sammy's trembling body.

The first Hollow emerged with a mighty roar.

"Tsubaki!" Orihime called out to the fearsome fairy. He zipped past her, aiming for the Hollow's head. "What?" she gasped out in surprise when the Hollow dodged the attack. It was fast!

The ginger haired girl's Santen Kesshun sprung forth when the Hollow retaliated. She shot her Koten Zanshun at it once, effectively killing it this time.

Two more.

Her victory was short lived when the acid Hollow made its appearance a split second later. It sprayed its signature liquid, melting the ground in front her feet. She backed away, however, the Hollow's attacks were relentless, making her back away even more until her left feet hit the edge of the cliff.

The thundering, rushing water of the waterfall rang through her ears loud and clear. She focused her attention on the Hollow, not daring to look down.

She used her Santen Kesshun to block the Hollow's acidic attacks. Her shield protected her and Sammy from the rapid assault. The ground began crumbling underneath her though, each unrelenting attack chipping away the hard surface more and more.

The auburn haired girl screamed in shock when the ground caved away. She was falling! Sammy's horrified and frantic meows could be heard, his frightened, slitted, green eyes glued at his liquid personification of his death below as he inched closer and closer to it.

Orihime had to think fast! They were too far away from each for her Santen Kesshun to protect both of them. Without much thought, she used her shield as a cushion for Sammy, simultaneously using her Koten Zanshun to destroy the Hollow that thought they were easy pickings now since they were airborne.

Now, Orihime was completely well aware she was inching closer and closer to her death. If only she knew a way… If only she knew a way to enlarge her Santen Kesshun.

Her ears picked up the sound of viciously flapping wings. Her eyes widened in astonishment and shocking alarm. This one can fly?!

It bore its mouth horrifically wide open, getting ready to devour her. Orihime didn't think much of it, instinctively putting up her Shiten Koshen.

The indistinguishable, roaring crash of water could be heard loud and clear throughout forest.

Orihime's last thoughts were of a certain blond alchemist.

A woman with flowing, long, blonde hair seamlessly walked across the beach. Her white dress fluttered in the breeze as her blue eyes pierced through the shore ahead just in time to see a large spray of water fly upwards towards the sky.

(A/N: That's the end of chapter thirty six! I hoped you enjoyed it! I know I said I wouldn't be making chapters this long a couple of chapters ago, but I just can't help it for some reason. This has to be the second chapter I have ever written. I want to say it's a good thing because it means I'm getting better and better at writing, and I just enjoy this story so much! But a part of me feels worried that I'm doing much of something. Maybe I'm just worried people would be put off by long chapters. I know some people prefer reading shorter [but not too short] chapters.

The part with Greed was very amusing and interesting to write. I like how Greed was trying to ask Orihime for sex, and she, being as oblivious as she is, just didn't take the hint. And besides, her sleeping with him in exchange for a boat is not a good deal, so the laughters on him.

Anyway, that's it! Leave any comments, suggestions, and questions in a review, and thanks for reading!)

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