Sephy: Still here? Thank you all!
Looking back on the previous chapter, it does look a tad rushed - and it somehow feels short.
Only one review? Guess that was to be expected after such a long hiatus.
What can we say - a thing called "life" happened.
Final Chapter. Enjoy!
- Lost -
"Hmm?" Urahara said surprisingly upon seeing Ichigo being carried through the garganta by Sado. "Seems like Kurosaki-san is alive after all!" he said happily while waving his fan around. "What happened back there?" he asked Yoruichi in a serious voice from behind his fan.
Yoruichi looked away, "I'm not certain – But I'll tell you the details after we've taken Ichigo to the 4th Division for a full examination." She walked over to Sado and took Ichigo's motionless body from him. "I'll take it from here," smiling she told him wordlessly that everything would be fine, the tall Mexican nodded in agreement.
"Take good care of Kurosaki-kun!" Inoue chirped happily at Renji as he walked beside Yoruichi through the gate to Soul Society that Hitsugaya had already opened. He didn't want to stay here any longer that necessary, he needed to inform Yamamoto about the deaths of the three ex-captains.
"Don't worry," Rukia told Ichigo's friends, "He'll be back to normal in no-time." She bowed deeply as a sign of thanks, "I think we wouldn't have gotten them back without your help," standing back up she faced the three humans, "I really mean that!"
"It's fine Kuchiki-san," Inoue replied politely. "Everyone of us was happy to be able to help Kurosaki-kun," she said happily as Uryuu snorted and looked away. He still was a Quincy who disliked shinigami, he saw this 'rescue' as repaying a debt from long ago.
"Goodbye," Rukia said before hurrying after the others – the gate closing behind her.
"Well then- " Urahara sang while happily waving his fan, "All shinigami have happily returned to Soul Society -" his look turned serious, "Now please tell me what happened back in Hueco Mundo,"
- o - o - o - o - o -
On the other side of the gate, in Seireitei, the group of five was expected by various shinigami from the 4th Division in case they were wounded or needed help. There were also a few vice-captains and lower ranked officers in case they had been followed by some hollows or Arrancar.
"How did it go?" Yamamoto asked as he arrived near the gate, staring at the arrivals.
Hitsugaya walked towards the old man and showed him the three zanpaktou that used to belong to three ex-captains. "Aizen Sousuke, Ichimaru Gin and Kaname Tosen have been killed – these are proof of that." He spoke clearly. "I'll give you my full report-"
"After I say you can," Unohana, Captain of the 4th Division interrupted as she walked forward, "I would like to examine everyone before they can resume their duty," she said in her normal voice, "I hope that won't be a problem," it was the same tone of voice, but the hidden threat was visible.
"Eh.. off course not..." the short white haired captain stammered, no one would dare to talk back to Unohana when she spoke like that.
"Well then; " Unohana began, "Hitsugaya-taicho, Abarai-fukutaicho, Kuchiki Rukia, Shihoin Yoruichi and Kurosaki Ichigo – Please follow me to the 4th main hospital." The group nodded and followed the female captain as order- asked.
Yamamoto had taken the three zanpaktou and left for the 12th Division labs – he needed to verify the authenticity of the blades to make sure this wasn't all a illusion Aizen had created. This scenario, the one where all enemy leaders were wiped out during a rescue mission was almost too good to be true, he had to be certain.
- o - o - o - o - o -
Arriving at the hospital they were led through the many halls of the main hospital in Seireitei, "Unohana-taichou," Hitsugaya began as he kept eying Ichigo's motionless body. "I suggest you keep that Substitute shinigami in a different, well guarded room,"
She stopped and turned around to face him, "Why would you suggest something like that?" she questioned, and the white haired one looked away, not wanting to explain the simple fact that they had taken a hollow back with them – one that was strong enough to kill Aizen. But Ichigo's friends refused to leave him behind and he didn't have a say in the matter annymore.
"Aizen did some things to Ichigo," Renji began, uncertain of how much he should say. He didn't want others too see his lover as weak because of what happened, "I don't know what but it's better to be safe than sorry..." No matter how much he trusted Ichigo and knew he wouldn't hurt anyone it would be irresponsible to put him with the rest.
"I understand," Unohana agreed, "Then if the four of you will wait in this room," she motioned to a room with four beds in it, "I will take Kurosaki-san to a different room and will come back after," she watched the three others go into the room and Yoruichi handed Ichigo over to the captain. She turned around and headed for the room that was only used to treat the wounds of criminals so they would be able to stand trial.
Not much later Unohana returned to the room where she had left the various shinigami before. Upon entering the room she was glad to see Isane had already started examining Hitsugaya – who looked rather impatient, he still had to report to Yamamoto.
"Good work Isane," She said while walking towards Hitsugaya and checking the last few things before he was labeled 'healthy' by the doctors an would be able to leave. "Seems there is nothing we have to heal," she spoke gently at the young captain, who left the bed and ran towards the door. "Please remember that this is a hospital so no running on the hallways,"
Hitsugaya froze before walking further in fast pace, not running.
"Taicho," Isane said as she had finished checking Yoruichi for wounds or other things that could prevent her from preforming her duty. "Shihoin Yoruichi is also in good health,"
Unohana nodded, "Please check Kuchiki-san while I'll check up on Abarai-san." Moving to Renji's bed she placed her warm hands on his chest to feel his heart-rate. "No need to be so tense Abarai-san,"
"S-sorry..." he spoke as he tried to calm down – but he was worried about Ichigo. "Can I get a change of clothes..." She nodded and checked a few other signs – but nothing was wrong.
"You're good to go Kuchiki-san," they heard Isane say and Rukia waited outside the room, giving Renji a bit of privacy while he was still being examined.
The captain looked directly at Renji, "I'd like to know what happened in Hueco Mundo," she said seriously. "Four shinigami and three humans went to Hueco Mundo without back-up, rescued two prisoners and managed to take out Aizen Sousuke, Kaname Tosen and Ichimaru Gin – without anyone getting hurt."
Renji looked away, if he were to say that Ichigo lost his sanity and turned into a hollow they would kill him. He didn't want that.
"Would care to explain to me how no one got hurt?" she repeated, this was just too strange.
"Inoue Orihime was among the humans... She healed us.. before we came back here." the red lied, he was scared of what might happen if they wound find out the truth.
Unohana could see he was lying, but not sure about which part. The whole group that had returned all acted strangely when they were asked about what had happened with Ichigo. She would leave it alone for now – perhaps she would learn something from examining Ichigo's body. "I see.. Would you like to come with me when I examine him?" Renji nodded and followed her as they walked towards the secured room and entered it.
The red didn't like seeing Ichigo on a hospital bed, lying there as if he were dead. Taking a closer look at the orange haired teen's chest he was indeed breathing steadily – but something was off. Tracing a hand over the others naked torso he noticed that he couldn't feel Ichigo's ribs like he could before. When they had 'met' after the fake murder on Isshin and the girls, Ichigo hadn't eaten, they only got a bit of food once in Las Noches – so how and when did he get this healthy looking body?
The 4th Division captain had just been observing and had read the reports about how Ichigo had responded to the death of his family. She could guess the teen had lost weight during his many ordeals in the past month, but the body lying in the bed in front of her was that of a healthy, 18 year-old, teenage boy. Judging from Renji's reactions the teen had gained some weight. Her eyes saddened, she knew that a body would restore itself to it's best state when it became a hollow – but this was not the body of a hollow, which confused her. Walking closer to the body she held her hands above his feet and checked for any internal or external wounds.
"Is he gonna be okay?" Renji asked worriedly,
"I believe he will be," she said as she moved her hands upwards over his legs not touching the body, "I am sorry, but I have to ask this. Has anything happened during your imprisonment that could cause a trauma?"
Renji turned his head as he remembered all the things that Ichigo had been put through, "More than one..." he finally said.
"I see," She said. "Does the same apply to you?" she moved to his torso.
"Have you experienced anything that could lead, or has led to a trauma?"
"...yes." he decided to say, lying to a doctor at this stage would only cause complications later.
"Then you should take a three-month recuperation period to learn how to deal with them and get your body back in shape," she spoke slightly sternly as she finished checking the body and turned around to face the red who just nodded to say he understood. "Kurosaki-san's body is as healthy as it can be,"
Renji breathed a sigh of relief.
"...But I cannot say anything of his mental condition." He looked at her, confusion clear in his eyes. "Until he wakes up I cannot say for certain if any of his trials have affected his mind."
Renji wasn't hearing what Unohana was telling him as he was staring past the captain, at the orange haired person on the bed behind her – that was trying to sit up and was now staring at the two of them. The red didn't think as he almost ran past the captain and tightly hugged the teen, who stayed still and didn't move – his body slightly trembling. Noticing the others behavior Renji let go and took a step backwards, "...Ichi..go?" he asked carefully.
Ichigo pulled his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them as he kept staring at the two others in the room with wide eyes. "Who.. Are you..." he spoke in a low and shaking voice before looking around the room, "Where am I!?" his voice now filled with panic. Ichigo's eyes widened as his hands moved towards his head – grabbing it. "Who am I..." He looked up with pleading eyes, begging them to give him a answer.
Unohana's eyes widened at the boys actions, "Please excuse us for a moment," she spoke gently towards the confused teen before she took Renji's wrist and led him out of the room – the red looking back at the one sitting on the bed, obviously uncomfortable.
Once outside the room the red turned to face the female captain, "What's wrong with him?" he sounded slightly panicked himself. How could he not remember anything? "Amnesia?"
She closed her eyes, "I am not certain if it's that simple," Renji looked at her, his eyes pleading, he needed more information. "To be more accurate I'll need to know more about the events that happened to Kurosaki-san,"
The red looked pained, but decided to tell her; "A few days after we arrived, a certain Arrancar came to get Ichigo, to take him to Aizen." Renji wasn't sure if she needed to know about the rape, but not now, "That Arrancar was Kurosaki Isshin, Ichigo's father,"
Unohana was visibly surprised, "The reports stated he died along with his two daughters,"
"Yeah, but Aizen had taken their souls – experimented on them with hougyoku. Both Ichigo's sisters were fused with a hollow, and his father became a loyal Arrancar, doing everything Aizen told him to do." Renji said as he looked via a small window back into the room, his eyes sad as he could see Ichigo was trying to remember who he was. "After the rescue-team arrived to get us out, Aizen had taken Ichigo somewhere, I don't know where, but when Ichigo came back to the room he had became a hollow..." He feared they would now kill the orange haired one for what he was.
"That explains his healthy body," she told the red, "Please continue,"
Renji nodded. "After he arrived back in the room he saw his father getting killed in front of his eyes, and his sisters sacrificing themselves for him." he couldn't even begin to imagine what that would be like, he never had a family, the closest person he could call family was Rukia. "After that he broke down completely and almost tried to kill us..." Renji didn't want to remember the desperation he felt back then, the way Ichigo looked and sounded. "Too much happened too fast."
Unohana nodded, "It is possible that his subconsciousness has blocked all his memories related to the happening in Hueco Mundo."
"Is there any way to un-block his memories?" the red said hopeful.
"Perhaps – but if that is indeed the cause, I would strongly advice against it." Renji looked confused. "If he were to remember – he would also remember the events that caused him to become a hollow in the first place." Renji didn't like where this conversation was going. "There would be a very large chance that he would have another breakdown and revert to being the hollow that nearly killed you."
"So it's better to leave him in the dark?" Renji questioned, fearing the answer, Unohana nodded,
"Please only tell him his name for now," she said seriously, "We can try to tell him more later." she placed her hand on the doorknob, "I need to examine a few more things – after that you're free to see him." Walking inside she closed the door behind her, leaving the red to look inside via the small one-sided mirror(1) in the door.
- o - o - o - o - o -
Inside the room Ichigo seemed to shrink when Unohana walked closer to his bed. He only wore a white hakama, his torso bared. "This won't hurt," she spoke gently as she placed her warm bare hand on his chest and calmly withdrew it when she noticed his heart began to beat faster in fear of what might happen.
Ichigo said nothing, but being touched by another human was scary. He didn't know why – and that just made it worse. "Who are you?" his voice shook as he spoke.
"My name is Unohana Retsu, I'm a doctor." She wanted to feel his forehead if he could possibly have a fever but the orange haired one moved away and avoided the hand, eying the doctor with suspicion. "I promise I won't do anything that might hurt you." her voice was gentle and it seemed to have gotten Ichigo's trust – at least for now.
During the rest of the examination she also asked him various questions to see how much he remembered and what would be safe to tell him without triggering the memories that had led to his mental breakdown.
After she was done she looked at the small window and nodded, telling the red it was okay to come into the room.
- o - o - o - o - o -
Renji was more than happy that Ichigo had managed to survive his terrible ordeals in Las Noches, but the thought that Ichigo wouldn't remember their time together broke his heart. There was no way to know if Ichigo would accept Renji's feeling under different circumstances. Even if he did, there was always the chance that his memories would return – which would turn Ichigo back into a wreck.
'I guess my love will be one-sided forever,' Renji said to himself before walking into the room with a smile on his face, planning to introducing himself as a friend. 'I don't want to see him suffer anymore',
"My name is Abarai Renji, nice to meet you."
(1) – The type of 'glass' you see in interrogation rooms. You can look into a room, but you can't look 'outside' the room
(1) – Many doubts about the chapter. I kept getting more and more idea's about a follow up DX
(2) – For those wondering about Hougyoku; Yoruichi told Urahara and they went to get it so no one would be able to use it again.
(3) – I asked myself: 'What is worse?'
Seeing the one you love most die -or-
Seeing the one you love without his/her memory, with no chance of getting it back
(4) – Please Leave A Review! We both adore them ~
(5) – Finally everything has been posted! It was a long journey, but I like to think it was worth it.
One Final Big Thanks to All readers Who Have Stayed with Us Till the End!