Disclaimer: BLEACH belongs to Kubo Tite and Shueisha Publishings.
Author's Notes: Final chapter (Yay!). This was written on and off over a course of many months, so there are errors. I cleaned it up the best I could. As always, there will be notes at the bottom and a final author's note for this story.
… And still the world turns as though nothing has changed.
It was a clear and beautiful morning in Karakurachou. The town had changed quite a bit since the final battle; not only had it rebuilt itself from ruins, it had also grown over the time that had passed.
On the north suburbs, far from the noise of urban city life, was a large house that was surrounded by high metal fences and well-tended lawns. With such extravagance, it looked like the dwelling place of a figure with great wealth. Closer inspection revealed a large six pointed blue cross decorating the top of the door way – the recognizable symbol of the Quincy lineage.
Inside the household was just as what one would have expected from such a place; clean, luxurious, and incredibly spacious. Light flowing in from large windows illuminated the interior with a beautiful white radiance. Adding to this atmosphere was the sound of a soft pleasant hum that echoed throughout its halls, making the already remarkable household feel all that much more so.
The person humming this tune was a beautiful woman with waist length auburn hair that framed her flawless face. Her brown eyes were bright and lively, though they were unable to match the brilliance of her smile. She wore a long, flowing white dress with hanging sleeves that seemed to float about weightlessly as she walked, making her look like an angel taking steps upon the earth.
She came to a stop at the bottom of a long staircase and glanced up towards the second floor.
"Uryuu-kun! Breakfast is ready!" She called out.
"I'll be right there, Orihime-san!" A voice upstairs replied.
Satisfied with the response, Orihime started to walk back down the hallway, passing by several framed photos on the wall along the way. They were pictures of her friends and family. She stopped for a moment when she arrived at a picture of a scowling orange-haired man with a petite black-haired woman standing beside him. Staring at the picture, she smiled briefly at the memories the photo invoked before continuing on her way.
She soon entered an enormous dining room where a small Japanese-styled breakfast could be seen on the large table. Though the meal was rather normal looking with nothing unusual about it, Orihime beamed proudly as she looked over it.
"Good morning, Orihime-san."
Ishida Uryuu entered the room as he put on his lab coat over the dress shirt and blue tie he wore. He had changed very little over the years; he was a little taller than he was before and he wore his hair differently with his bangs swept to the right side of his face. However, he still radiated with the same calm, smart, and elegant presence that he had when he was younger.
"Good morning!" Orihime said cheerfully.
"I have time before work so I'll walk you to the bakery today." Uryuu said as he sat down.
"No. It's okay. You have a lot of work to do," Orihime said with a shake of her head. "Isn't that right, Mr. Director." She added playfully.
"Stop with that," Uryuu said with a small smile. "And I insist on spending time with my wife for once."
Later that morning, the two of them walked down the sidewalk of their neighborhood. The district they were passing through was quiet, though this peace was short lived as it was broken by the sounds of laughter. Both of them turned to watch as children ran by them with their school bags dangling at their arms. They waved excitedly at Orihime as they passed, and she waved back with just as much enthusiasm.
Uryuu, however, scowled lightly.
"You are always giving out treats to them. Those children are spoiled by you." He said.
"If we had our own, I wouldn't have to spoil them." Orihime said off-handedly.
Uryuu coughed and looked away, one of those rare times where he had managed to momentarily lose his composure.
"I'll have to prepare a big batch of goodies for them when they drop by the bakery after school." Orihime said excitedly.
"How are you doing anyways, managing that little bakery by yourself?" Uryuu asked. "Do we need to hire anybody to help you out?"
"I'm doing fine, don't worry. Tatsuki-chan asks me the same thing every time she visits," Orihime said with her cheeks puffed in false irritation. She then gave him a reassuring smile. "I can do this all by myself."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't." Uryuu said apologetically.
"I know. It's just that everybody's found their place, you know?" Orihime said. "Tatsuki-chan is the lead instructor at the Dojo. Sado-kun's band got a record deal. Kojima-kun and Asano-kun have started up their own company. And you are about to inherit your father's hospital."
She smiled determinedly.
"I don't want to be the only one left behind."
Uryuu chuckled, causing her to look at him with confusion.
"What's wrong?" She asked.
"Nothing," Uryuu said. "I just thought that even though so many things have changed over the years, you're still the same old Inoue-san."
"Before I met those two, I wouldn't have had the confidence to say something like that." Orihime said with a nostalgic smile.
"Those two, huh?" Uryuu said as he looked up in thought.
"I can't believe six years have passed by since Kuchiki-san and Kurosaki-kun have left," Orihime said. She looked up towards the almost cloudless sky. "I wonder… how they are both doing right now."
Off in Seireitei, a shape stepped into the shadows beneath the large sign of the Fifth Division Barracks. Hidden in the darkness, the more defining features of the person were hidden away, but the stance and physique was clearly that of a man's. He looked around for a moment, scratching spiky hair that fell just past the back of his neckline.
"Where the hell is Rukia?" The man muttered.
Death and Strawberry, Resolution
Two female Shinigami ran along a paved road of Seireitei with large stacks of papers in their arms. The one leading ahead was slightly taller than the one following her. Her long black hair whipped around her face as her brown eyes were narrowed in concentration. The girl following her had long blond pigtails, and her large blue eyes were filled with anxiety as she struggled to keep up with her companion. She was much clumsier as well and she squeaked in distress as several pages flew off the top of her stack.
One of the pages became stuck on the branches of a nearby tree, and a large '66' could be seen on it before it was blown away by the wind.
"Hurry up, Ai! We're going to be late!" The Shinigami running ahead called out to her friend. "Why didn't you tell me the time?"
"Don't you tell me to hurry up when I'm carrying the bigger pile, Kibou!" The Shinigami named Ai yelled back. "And you should be the responsible one since you're the seated officer!"
"I'm not the one who joined the Fifth Division because I thought the captain was hot!"
"H-Hey! That's not true!"
"Oi, you two!" A voice called out to them, causing the two of them to instantly skid to a halt.
They turned to the person who called out to them.
"Kurosaki-taichou!" Kibou said as she instantly straightened up.
"Ku-Ku-Kurosaki-taichou!" Ai stuttered, trying to follow her friend's gesture. A few more sheets of paper flew off as she did.
Kurosaki Ichigo stepped towards them. He was an easily recognizable man with his captain's haori wrapped around his shoulder and his famous zanpakutou, Zangetsu, strapped against his back. Now twenty-three, he was a few inches taller than he used to be, and his orange hair – now just a little longer than the way he wore it when he was younger – was still bright, spiky and even more unruly. Long orange bangs fell over brown eyes which still retained that familiar strong, willful spark. Unfortunately, his signature scowl had also remained unchanged, and it deepened slightly at sight the two intimidated recruits.
"Have you two seen Rukia?" He asked.
A rush of air escaped as the two recruits suddenly released a collective sigh, though this obvious display of nervousness went mostly unnoticed by Ichigo.
"No, we haven't seen the lieutenant today," Kibou replied.
Ichigo looked off into the distance for a moment in thought before turning his attention back to the two recruits.
"Is something wrong, sir?" Ai asked.
"It's nothing," Ichigo replied. He turned back to the two of them. "And from now on, put all of her work on my desk until further notice."
He then left without another word.
"Eh?" Kibou muttered curiously.
"What's wrong, Kibou?" Ai asked with a sideways glance.
"Kurosaki-taichou is pretty infamous at dodging paperwork…" Kibou said with surprise. A look of concern appeared on her face. "I wonder if something happened…"
Ichigo peered up at the '六' that marked the entranceway to the Sixth Division Barracks. The gate differed itself from the other barrack entrances with a more traditional look; it was built with dark red wood and white walls that seemed to shimmer in the sunlight. Its turquoise roofing looked completely perfect, as though great effort had been used to carefully set each roof plate into place.
"Looks like it's finally all fixed up." Ichigo muttered to himself before entering.
He walked into a courtyard where a squad of Shinigami were training. From how clumsily they swung their wooden training swords, it was clear that they were all new recruits. However, this fact didn't the stop their red-haired teacher – who was pacing back and forth in front of them with his training sword on his shoulder – from being any less harsh on them.
"Swing faster! Harder!" The man yelled. "Do you chumps really think such a weak strike would be able to cut down something like a Hollow? Now, let's do another set of one-hundred!"
"Yes, Abarai-fukutaichou!" All of the trainees yelled simultaneously.
Turning away from the recruits, Ichigo called out to the teacher.
Abarai Renji turned to him. His appearance had changed a bit; his red hair was now much longer, though he still wore it in his trademark ponytail. A maroon colored bandanna covered his forehead now, and long dark straps could be seen on each of his wrist with bandages covering his arms.
"Oh, Ichigo!" Renji said with surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Have you seen Rukia?" Ichigo asked as he walked up to him.
"She came by earlier to see the Captain," Renji said. He looked up in thought. "She might still be with him right now."
"Ah, thanks." Ichigo said before turning to leave.
"Heading off already?" Renji asked, causing Ichigo to look back. He smirked as he held out his training sword. "Let's have a spar before you go. It'll be a good show for the recruits."
"I refuse!" Ichigo said instantly, crossing his arms into an 'X' shape. He started to leave again. "Besides, the last time I got into a brawl with you, we destroyed several buildings along with the gate of the Sixth Division Barrack."
The whirling sound of wood flying through the air caught his attention, and he turned back to catch the training sword that Renji had thrown in his direction. Renji smirked tauntingly; Ichigo only scowled at his obvious attempt to provoke him into fighting.
"I don't have time for this." Ichigo said as he turned away for the third time.
"What is this? Are you scared?" Renji asked, causing the orange haired man to instantly freeze in his tracks. "Actually, I think it's because you're afraid of Rukia yelling at you again. Looks like she whipped you into shape pretty good over the years, didn't she?"
Ichigo's hands were clenching so hard that the training sword he was holding had started to crack. Everyone but Renji started to back away as though a fuse on a bomb had been lit.
"Should I be asking her next time to see if you can go drinking with us?" Renji continued with a grin. "Ichigo-chan?"
And the sword finally snapped in two.
"Yer really pickin' to fight, aren't ya?" Ichigo said, grabbing Renji by his uniform. He slammed his forehead against Renji's. "I'll kick yer ass, ya bastard!"
"I'll take you on right here, right now!" Renji yelled as he pushed back with his own head, his mouth in a snarl as he grabbed Ichigo's uniform in return. "I'll mess you up so much that even Rukia won't recognize you!"
"I'd like to see you try!"
"Let's go then!"
An explosion suddenly resonated from their location and a nearby building collapsed.
"Code: 604! Code: 604 – Abarai-Kurosaki Scuffle!" One of the Shinigami in thick swirly glasses yelled through a microphone. All other Shinigami in the area were running around in a panic. "Everyone take cover! This is not a drill! I repeat! This is not a drill!"
The two friends – not noticing that their little fist fight had once again escalated to unnecessary levels –continued to beat on each other without pulling their punches, though their surroundings were taking much more of a pounding than either one of them were. With how powerful the two of them were now, the buildings around them might have as well have been made out of paper.
And following most of the structures inside, the immaculate gate of the Sixth Division Barracks fell apart once more.
Creak. Splash. The bamboo water timer slowly shifted back into its original position, waiting to be filled again by the stream that flowed from above the pond it sat over.
The pond was part of an intricately designed garden filled with an assortment of colorful flowers. Sleek white stones that surrounded most of the area also made up the pathway that connected it to the steps of a large feudal style house. Its twin sliding doors were open, allowing both the cool breeze and the beauty of the garden to be enjoyed from within.
Kuchiki Byakuya seemed to revel in this peacefulness as he continued his calligraphy at his desk. His brush slid across the paper with a grace that matched his swordsmanship. Like many other Shinigami, he showed no signs of aging despite the passing years. He had replaced his kenseiken with smaller hair pieces at the back of his head, and he had discarded the normal captain's haori and scarf for a more formal version. It had a higher collar that sported light gold edges with light gold tassels attached to its corners.
Footsteps echoed at the entranceway, but Byakuya continued to work without disruption.
"Yo, Byakuya." Ichigo said.
"Kurosaki-taichou." Byakuya replied without looking up.
"It seems like you're finally okay with me calling you so casually now," Ichigo said. "That's a surprise."
"Don't misunderstand me," Byakuya replied impassively as he continued his calligraphy. His expression darkened slightly for a brief moment. "It's just that the alternative is much less pleasing."
The characters '兄さん' for 'Nii-san' flickered through Ichigo's thoughts, causing him to wince.
"I suppose you're right about that," Ichigo agreed with his own look of disgust. His expression suddenly turned serious as he asked his next question. "Have you seen Rukia today?"
"She dropped by earlier this afternoon," Byakuya answered. For the first time since Ichigo entered the room, he stopped and looked up at him. "Is something the matter?"
"I'm..." Ichigo started to say. He shook his head and turned to leave. "Never mind, it's nothing."
"Admitting that you're worried isn't a weakness especially in times like these," Byakuya said, causing Ichigo to stop to look back. He went back to his work before he continued. "However, calm down and think for a moment about what she has been doing; if she came by here, where do you think she would go next?"
Ichigo considered his words for a moment and realization quickly dawned on him.
"I see. Thanks for helping me clear my head." He said gratefully.
"Hn…" Byakuya replied. He noticed that Ichigo was still standing there as if though he had something more to say. "Is there something else bothering you?"
"I was just thinking," Ichigo said, unconsciously scratching his head. "Due to the way things are going to be in the future, I don't think I'll be able to handle all of this by myself."
"Are you asking for help, or is this a reason to get me to spend more time with Rukia, Kurosaki Ichigo?" Byakuya asked.
"Who knows?" Ichigo replied off-handedly.
"I appreciate the thought either way." Byakuya said.
"Good," Ichigo said. He started to leave, but turned back with a sheepish grin when he remembered something. "Oh, about the damages, I'll get that taken care of later."
For the first time in the longest, Byakuya messed up a stroke in his lettering.
"What damages?" He said as he looked up.
But Ichigo was already long gone.
Ichigo walked onto a grassy field. Illuminated by the orange rays of the setting sun, the soft grass parted easily beneath his foot and seemed to dance at the lightest oncoming breeze. The area was also dotted with a few trees and hills that marked the otherwise flat land. For a moment, he stood still as if he wanted to enjoy the sight and the atmosphere, but his attention was clearly directed at something – or someone.
There was a person who stood upon one of the hilltops.
He had finally found Kuchiki Rukia. Compared to her past self, her hair had been cut shorter, revealing the smooth white skin on the back of her neck, and in place of her Shinigami attire, she wore a familiar purple yukata with flowers emblazoned all over it. She was staring out at the horizon in silence, her head filled with thoughts that distracted her of his presence.
"Rukia." He called out to get her attention.
Rukia turned to see who it was.
"Ichigo?" She said, but the surprise on her face was instantly replaced with a scowl. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be working?"
"Nice to see you too." Ichigo replied sarcastically as he walked up to her.
He looked out into the distance where Rukia's gaze had been before, and noticed that he could almost see the entirety of Soul Society from here. The walls that once separated Seireitei from Rukongai had vanished, letting the two entities merge into one giant spiritual metropolis.
"I couldn't feel your reiatsu, but Unohana-san did say that would happen. I wouldn't have found you if Shiba-san didn't tell me you were over here." He added.
"I see." Rukia said as she turned her gaze back towards Soul Society.
Ichigo glanced at her with a scowl. He looked like he wanted to say something to her but couldn't quite find the right words. It took a few moments before he could finally muster up the courage to speak.
"How… are you feeling?" He asked slowly as though he was carefully choosing his words.
Rukia glared at him, and Ichigo instantly realized that he had chosen the wrong ones.
"'How am I feeling?'" She said with annoyance. "Weak and tired, that's how I'm feeling!"
"You make it seem like it's my fault." Ichigo muttered as he looked blankly to the side.
"Who else do I blame for making me like this?" Rukia snapped angrily, causing him to wince. To his surprise, a soft smile soon appeared on her face as she turned away. "But even though my body has never felt so bad in my life, I've also never been happier."
She looked down and gently placed her right hand over her stomach.
"Our bodies don't work the same way they do as normal humans – otherwise we'd all be great, great grandparents and the entire spirit world would be overpopulated. It's a real miracle any time a child is conceived in Soul Society." A slight chuckle escaped her lips. "In our case, two little miracles."
Ichigo gently placed his hand over her smaller one that was on her stomach. Although it might have been too early to sense any of their physical presence just yet, he couldn't help but feel slightly anxious and excited about being so close to them.
"You know, it's been really hard keeping this a secret," He said. "I want to let the entire world know."
"If we told people, we'd never hear the end of it. It's better to keep this between the people we trust for as long as we can." Rukia said.
"I just wish I could tell everyone back home about this," Ichigo said. "I'm sure Karin and Yuzu would be excited."
"Your father would be really happy to hear about it, that's for sure," Rukia said. She smirked at the scowl that had appeared on his face. "And Ichigo, the way you're speaking is wrong."
"What do you mean?" Ichigo asked as he looked at her.
"This is your home now." Rukia corrected him.
Ichigo seemed surprised by her comment, but as he looked out towards Soul Society, he realized that she had been right to say so.
"Yeah," He said. "I guess it's just hard to get used to even after all these years. Lots of things have changed."
"Yeah they have," Rukia said as she turned her gaze back towards Seireitei and Rukongai. "It's a lot more beautiful now though, isn't it? Since the connection with Hueco Mundo was also broken when the Senkaimon was sealed, you can really see the how much the lives of those in Rukongai have been improving because Hollows have stopped appearing."
"It's kind of sad that we can only get this kind of peace when we're all separated," Ichigo added. "The Material world, Hueco Mundo, Soul Society – I wonder how much longer we'll be separated."
He looked up into the sky.
"I wonder… how everyone else is doing right now…"
"I do too." Rukia said as she also looked up.
The sky was lit with a shade of beautiful orange. Rukia closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of the dimming sunlight against her skin. A small smile appeared on her face, and Ichigo, whom had been deep in his thoughts, soon noticed this from the corner of his eyes. She noticed him staring at her and looked at him curiously.
"Is something wrong?" Rukia asked.
"No. I just thought it was good to see you unwind." Ichigo said.
"It's nice to just be here with you like this, that's all," Rukia said. "I've been in such a rush recently that I haven't been able to relax. It's a nice change of pace."
Ichigo looked away for a moment as his expression turned slightly grim.
"That's probably my fault." He said.
"Why do you say that?" Rukia asked.
"When I found out how long you've been going around asking for name suggestions, I got worried that something might happen to you. Even though it'll still be a while before they're born, I know that it's been making you uneasy that we can't come up with names," Ichigo said. "That's why I came up with a deadline where we would have names for the two of them."
He paused before he continued, looking back out towards the distance as a soft breeze blew between the two of them.
"Today. The same day that we met for the first time seven years ago."
The memories of that day brought a tender look to Rukia's face, and she smiled as she recounted their fateful encounter. She remembered the first time they saw each other, the pain she felt when he kicked her, the smugness she felt when she bound him with a spell, and the defining moment where she had transferred her powers to him.
"But that put a lot of pressure onto you," He added. "I should have realized that you would have wanted to use those names."
Rukia shook her head.
"It's my own cowardice at fault here, not your lack of consideration," She said. "But it was thanks to your pressuring that I was finally able to gather up the courage to ask them today."
"Is that why you're wearing your sister's dress?" Ichigo asked.
"I thought that wearing it would help give me the courage that I needed," Rukia said as she looked down at the kimono she wore. "But it wasn't even necessary."
"What do you mean?" Ichigo asked.
"Well, I was able to get permission to use those names by both Nii-sama and Shiba-san," Rukia said. "But I don't think we'll use them. I want these two to grow up to be great people just like those two, but the more I thought about it, the more I believed that we shouldn't give them names that bear such heavy memories."
Ichigo paused as memories of his mother flickered quickly through his thoughts.
"That's right. It wouldn't be fair for them to shoulder such a burden." He said.
Rukia smiled, happy that he agreed with her notion.
"Since today's the deadline, do you have any names in mind?" She asked.
"Just one for the boy," Ichigo said. He unconsciously reached for his right shoulder, grabbing the fabric that was wrapped around it. It was a style that only one other former captain had ever worn it in. "Shin'ichi… 'Shin' for heart, 'Ichi' for one…"
"So you're taking your father's suggestion seriously." Rukia said humorously.
"The characters are reversed so he'll be the opposite of that idiot," Ichigo said dismissively. He turned to her. "How about you? Have you thought of anything for the girl?"
"Yeah…" She said softly. "I figured it out while I was standing here."
Rukia peered off into the distance once again. She then raised her hand up towards the setting sun, letting the shadow of her hand fall over the features of her face. The orange glow peered through the space between her fingertips, and a small ray of light was reflected onto the very center of her violet iris.
"Hikari," She said. "Because she'll be our little ray of light."
"That's a good name." Ichigo said.
"Both of them are." Rukia said with a smile. "I –"
She stopped mid sentence, and with a shocked expression on her face, her body suddenly fell limp and started to collapse. Ichigo was able to catch her before she could hurt herself, and he held her gently in his arms. However, he couldn't help feeling slightly helpless since he was unable to do much more for her.
"Rukia! Are you okay?" Ichigo asked with concern. She started to stir, opening her eyes slightly to look up at him. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that she was conscious. "Rukia…"
"I'm fine…" Rukia said, trying to dismiss his concerns.
"'Fine' my ass!" Ichigo replied heatedly. He quickly shifted her into his arms, carried her to a large tree at the bottom of the hill and positioned her so she was able to sit with her back against it. Once she was set, he started to turn away. "Rest here for a moment. I'm going to get –"
"There's no need. I'm fine, really." Rukia said with a small smile. "Trust me. I know my own body better than anyone else."
Ichigo sighed, reluctantly relenting to her wishes.
"Okay, if you say so."
"I just wish things weren't so difficult right now." Rukia said.
"Don't worry about it. I'll definitely take of everything – with you, with the Division, even with the Kuchiki clan if I have to – I promise you," Ichigo said firmly. "I –"
To his surprise, Rukia slowly started to stand up, using the tree behind her as leverage. She was still shaky and weak so Ichigo grabbed onto her arm to steady her, and she looked at him gratefully for helping her.
"Tawake," Rukia said. "That's not what I mean."
"Rukia?" Ichigo asked.
"I'm talking about you," Rukia said. "I wish things weren't so difficult for you. You may not show it, but with how weak I've been and with all that's been going on – I know that you've been more than just a little bit stressed out. I just want you to remember that I'm always here if you need me."
Ichigo was surprised by her comforting words. His expression slowly changed, looking as though he was going to say something very important to her.
"Rukia. I don't say this to you enough, but I –"
He was interrupted as she pulled him in for a soft kiss. Ichigo's eyes lit up with surprise at her sudden gesture. As they pulled away from each other, Rukia cupped his face with her hands, smiling tenderly as she stared up at him.
"I know, I do too," Rukia said. "And that's all that really matters."
And for the first time that day, Ichigo finally smiled, knowing that she was right once again.
Leaving Rukia to rest for a moment, Ichigo slowly walked up the grassy hill, stopping as he reached its peak. Once more, he looked out over Soul Society – the place that was now his home.
I can already feel it; the day where I'll have to step back onto the battlefield is already slowly approaching. Even in these times of peace, little by little, the amount of people I have to protect continues to grow. I don't know what will happen in the future but…
Ichigo glanced over his shoulder to where Rukia was sitting. She was looking off into the distance with an incredibly happy and relaxed expression as the soft breeze blew against her. A moment later, she caught his gaze and smiled at him.
There was his entire world.
I will definitely protect them.
He walked back over to her. Rukia looked up at him as he reached out to her with his hand.
"Let's go home, Shinigami." Ichigo said.
"It's not Shinigami…" Rukia replied as she placed her hand into his. "It's Kurosaki Rukia."
A hell butterfly fluttered by, its black and white wings flapping gracefully as it flew against the horizon line. The sun slowly disappeared from sight and the darkness of the oncoming night began to encompass the sky. As the hell butterfly continued its journey, the moon started to rise in place of the sun, and its ghostly glow illuminated the white columns that the creature flew around. Its flight finally came to an end as it landed on the familiar padlock of the Senkaimon.
And it took off just as the doorway between the worlds began to glow once more.
The story of destiny continues…
Shin'ichi 「心一」 meaning 'Heart of One' is a reverse of Isshin's name. It can also mean 'New One' if Kanji meanings are omitted.
Hikari 「光」 meaning 'Light' which is related to Rukia's namesake and her role in Ichigo's life.
The six year story finally comes to a close. I'm sure some are happy to see it end, unhappy with how the story turned out, or most likely – skeptical that I would ever update. But for me, it's weird; where do I even start explaining how I feel?
This last chapter's been in my head ever since I started writing this story six years ago in October. To have it finally completed feels like a big milestone for me. I discovered many things through writing this story, and I have many, many great readers to thank for pushing me all the way to the end.
On the subject of readers, I truly wish I could have interacted with more people on the site. I regret it very much now, since my time on the site is dwindling, and I will have many missed friendships because of my tendency to keep to myself. However, for those who have kept up with me over the years, and for those that have recently started to read, I am really grateful that you took the time to read this story. Especially the long time readers – I know who you are – I am very, very grateful for your continued support over the years.
Six years can be a long time. So long, in fact, that my own style has changed dramatically since the first chapter. I wish I had the patience to go back to fix everything, but with 66 chapters spanning an average of ten pages each, that's not a project I can do without investing a lot of effort and time – the latter which I don't have any of.
Although I'll never get to do the sequel, I am really happy that this story is finally over. Once Colors is finished, I'm done with fanfiction (though it's currently in hiatus due to my current responsibilities). It's not the end for me as a writer, for I am already writing new stories, though for different reasons and for different people now.
But perhaps one day, we'll connect again through a story just like this one.