Epilogue: All Good Things...
There had been, perhaps, more fire than most people had really hoped. Well, nobody really wants a lot of fire; in general, the preferred amount of fire is very little, and confined to a stove or fireplace, not rushing freely throughout a city.
All told, the end result of the past several weeks had been about fifty percent of the Officer's Corp in some intense need of therapy, two Division Barracks totally destroyed, several more wrecked, one redone with a variety of strikingly erotic artwork of Yoruichi Shihouin that pretty much everyone agreed would need to go in order to maintain a stable work environment but which a portion of the soldiery (the portion that thought Yoruichi was totally hot) was in no particularly large hurry to get rid of. In fact, Captain Kyoraku indicated he would like to keep some for his personal collection, to which Captain Soi Fon indicated she was seriously about five minutes from just stabbing his face, to which Captain Unohana looked at her somewhat sternly until she stopped.
She then made everyone apologize and hug, but also gave out cookies and milk.
But not all of the news was bad news. For instance, the Fifth Division had a brave new Captain, in the form of the oddly familiar Ing Uramihci. He was powerful, intelligent, and highly skilled in both swordplay and combat, which was unusual in that nobody had ever seen or heard of him. Certain cynical officers noted he bore a striking, some might say suspicious resemblance to the Traitor-Captain Gin Ichimaru, but when confronted about this, he would merely smile unsettlingly and remind the person asking that he clearly could not be Gin Ichimaru by virtue of the fact his name was different. The person, by this point, would remember the Gin Ichimaru was also a heartless killer, and would likely stop asking questions.
Not that he was Gin Ichimaru.
Because he wasn't.
His name was different, you see. Obviously, he couldn't be the same man.
And he smiled. Oh, did he smile.
In his home, Captain Byakuya Kuchiki set down his teacup after what may have been the longest dinner party ever held in Kuchiki Manor.
"I believe," He said calmly, "That nothing is happening outside."
"But I thought nothing was always happening outside?" Orihime asked.
"Of course, nothing was happening." Byakuya agreed evenly. "However, I now feel that nothing is happening."
"By which he means there appears to be no more fire." Rukia said. "Not that there ever was any fire."
"There was none." Byakuya agreed.
"Because nothing happened."
"I certainly didn't see anything, I was eating this delightful cake."
"It was delightful."
Orihime blinked. "... I'm confused. So... you're saying that nothing is happening, but real nothing, and not the nothing that was happening when we just said there was nothing happening? Or is that something?"
"Of course not, because we were never pretending nothing was happening." Rukia said primly. "Nothing was happening. And nothing ever will happen."
"Everything is calm and good, forever." Byakuya agreed. "But this nothingness is a more calm, profound nothingness that I feel should be appreciated. So we are now safe to go outside, exactly as we always were safe to go outside, but differently."
"... … … …" Orihime said.
"... well, yes, but I should take it to go find Ichigo. It's been a few hours since I've seen him, which means he's probably gotten stabbed." Orihime said.
And even Byakuya had to admit that this had probably happened. Some things are things, even when they're nothing.
Captain Ing (who was not Gin Ichimaru) was not the only strange new recruit to be found in the Seireitei in recent days. A statuesque, dark-skinned blonde woman with a fondness for masks had recently taken on the position of Squad Ten's third seat. It was an odd arrangement in many ways, not the least of which in that she always wore a white mask over the lower half of her face, suggesting that she was, well, kind of a Hollow. However, as with Captain Ing (Not Gin, never Gin, shut up), she clearly couldn't be a Hollow as her name was, in fact, Tia Halibel Notahollow. With a family name so clearly above suspicion, she had to be trustworthy, right?
Another issue of contention was that her power was comparable, if not outright superior, to her own Division's Captain. And yet, remarks suggesting that she leave and take over a higher position were generally met with threats, if not outright violence. For whatever reason, the poor dear seemed perfectly, some might call eerily content to be in a position that required her to spend large amounts of time following Captain Hitsugaya around and taking orders from him, many of which caused her to shudder and remark on his 'commanding presence' and 'piercing eyes like perfect sapphires'.
It had not gone unnoticed that she seemed to, some days, follow him around more than her position would require, and do things like... stare at him. From behind bushes.
There were many, however, who understood what was truly going on here, and these fortunate few smirked in envy and pride as they observed the situation, and spoke a single word that explained everything that was going on with perfect clarity to all who heard it.
Sajin Komamura returned to his Captain duties the next day, despite his wounds. He was a great source of support and dignity for the people of the Seireitei, a shining example of what a Captain should be. Many were those who remembered his face and voice for the rest of their lives. Or at least until like, the next month, because realistically he only does a cool thing like once a year, tops.
And in his home, in the hidden cabinet behind his dresser, in a safe locked with a key that he carried on his person at all times, a slightly cracked black mask hung.
For now, it would remain there. In these days of peace and prosperity, an instrument of such darkness is of little value to anyone. But no peace can last forever. And who can say when there will again be a need to battle evil with... another sort of evil?
For now, Dark Lord Wolfington sleeps.
Tomorrow, who knows?
Yeah, okay, no, there's not going to be any more Dark Lord Wolfington.
Seriously, it was Komamura in a mask.
In the Darkness of Hueco Mundo, twelve figures sat in silence.
After what seemed like several hours, one of them spoke.
"Y'know, boss, I gotta say, it really doesn't seem like you planned any of th-"
"Shut up, Yammy." Aizen said.
There were a lot of people who needed beds, and not a lot of places to put them.
The 12th Division HQ had been destroyed by Godzilla, the 11th Division's had been destroyed in a 'mysterious and probably not Yachiru-related fire' (Fire report filed by Vice-Captain Kusajishi) and the 10th Division's had been destroyed in a 'fire that was highly unlikely to be Yachiru-related, so stop asking about it' (Fire report filed by Vice-Captain Kusajishi). The 1st Division HQ was currently in the process of being de-converted from its former state as the Divine Fortress of the Holy Yoruichi Empire.
This left four entire Divisions without a place to sleep. It was decided, given the vast quantity of people this left bedless, that each roomless Division should bunk with the Division that they best meshed with. Thus, the 1st Division would bunk with the second, as they were the two divisions most likely to kill someone for breaking the rules.
The 12th Division bunked with the 4th, as they were the most likely to cut a fellow Shinigami open (Granted, their reasons for doing so were different: the 4th Division would be cutting them open to give them life-saving surgery, while the 12th would be cutting them open just because). There were some concerns with the safety of the medics, but Captain Kurotsuchi was still hiding in a corner and rambling about tiny pink-haired demons, so it was assumed the risks would be minimal.
The 11th Division was sent to live in the woods.
As for the 10th Division...
Rangiku Matsumoto sat down and put her feet up on Captain Kyoraku's desk. "Yo, Shun-Shun. What's doin'?"
"I'm a guest, you have to be nice to me."
"I outrank you, and you're only a guest because I allowed your division to stay in my Barracks after yours burned down."
"I saved the Soul Society. From like, everything."
"You also endangered it. Repeatedly."
"Yeah, but it ended up with a net value of 'saved'. You can tell based on the fact it is still here."
"... all right, Shun-Shun it is."
"Good sport! That's why I like you."
"I thought you liked me because I'm one of like, three people in the entire Soul Society who can keep up with you in a drinking contest."
"Fun times." Matsumoto agreed. "So, just making sure, we are all set on rooms, and nobody is causing a ruckus? Third Seat Skanky Evil Bitch hasn't been making things hard on you?"
"She hasn't been making anything anything on me. She mostly just stalks Toshiro." Kyoraku said. "Which is a shame. Jushiro is still not talking to me, and I could use something to spend my free time."
"... what about doing work? Your responsibilities as Captain?" Matsumoto said.
There was silence for several minutes.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Kyoraku and Matsumoto fell into helpless laughter.
"O-oh...HAHAHAHAHA! My responsibilities!" Kyoraku chuckled.
"Y-yeah, I can't believe I got that out with a straight face." Matsumoto said, wiping away a tear of mirth. "Work! Really, now!"
"Yeah, I never do any work." Kyoraku agreed. "I have Nanao for that."
"And I have my Capt..."
Silence again. Worrisome this time.
"You know... Shun-shun... I haven't seen Nanao around lately. Or my Captain." Matsumoto said uncomfortably.
"... Should we be worried by that?" Kyoraku asked.
"They... they wouldn't ditch us, right?"
"... ... ..."
Tia Halibel Notahollow hung from the window, her teeth clenched so hard the noise was audible, her fingers clenched into the stonework so hard they ledge was turning to dust beneath her hands.
She did this because of what she saw as she gazed into Captain Hitsugaya's temporary office.
Humming cheerfully, Hitsugaya put his stamp on the second page of form 1004-D and placed it in the pile. Instantly, the forms were cleared and the next set of forms, each bearing a Vice-Captain's seal and half-completed, were placed before him.
"Ready for the next set?" Nanao asked. "After this, we just have the requisition forms for new uniforms." The bespectacled Vice-Captain smiled. "I think it's a bit odd that we have two Division's worth of work to get done, but we're still finishing it faster than we used to. I guess that's just how it goes when you have a Captain and Vice-Captain who both do their job, huh?"
Toshiro Hitsugaya smiled, and began signing the stack of papers. "Yes. Yes, that is just. How. It goes."
The Universe is very cruel. Very, very cruel indeed. It kicks you when you're down, then kicks you again. It watches everything you do and tailors its actions to perfectly ruin your life in every way it possibly can, and it does all of this for fun.
But sometimes? If you keep playing the game, never give up for more than a few hours at a time, and if you put on a good enough show?
It can throw you a bone.
The paperwork was completed so, so very quickly.
This story was... I'm not really sure how to describe it. For the last four years, Uninvited Guests has been there, in the background, a constant weight on my mind and shoulders, but also a constant joy to me. This story is what I wrote when I didn't want to write. What I took out of the box when I was just feeling silly and all I wanted to do was write whatever madness came to mind, whether or not it made any sort of sense at all. It was... fun. This was a fun story to write, and this is coming from me at a point in my life where writing is often starting to seem like a chore. And I think it showed, because a fun story to write would sensibly be fun to read, and this is by far the most popular story I've ever written. And now, after four years, the fun is over.
… Christ, four years. It really shouldn't have taken that long. I do apologize for that. I blame many things... laziness, loss of free time, loss of interest in Bleach. But in a way, it's a good thing, y'know? This story is like a time capsule. I think I'm going to re-read it myself, honestly, just to see for myself just how much my writing style has changed over such a long period of time. It should be fun, and mildly embarrassing. But hey, it's fun to walk down memory lane sometimes, right?
So... thanks, all. Every one of you who stuck out this whole, crazy ride (Though who knows how many of you made it that long. I bet a lot of the original readers who joined in Chapter One have since passed on of old age over the long centuries it took me to finish). Everyone who jumped on half-way. And thank you to every future reader who steps on after the ride is completed and gets to read it all the way through in one sitting. You've all been amazing, and this story would have been totally pointless without all of you there to enjoy it. Thank you for reading, thank you for all your kind words and support, and I hope to see you in the future on other projects!