AN: LAST CHAPTER…every story has to end…sniff
"He took it that well?"
"Yeah, surprised me too." Toshiro set the spoon down and covered the pot of rice he was cooking. Matsumoto leaned over his shoulder and stirred one of the pots before covering it as well.
"He's matured." She said thoughtfully.
Toshiro sighed and leaned against the wall, half closed eyes watching the cooking pots while grey eyes watched him. "He had to." He grimaced in pain as he twisted his waist. "It's going to rain." He sighed. His eyes cracked open when he heard her leave the room.
She returned quickly, a bottle of clear liquid in her hand. He eyed her wearily and shook his head. "I was wrong…really its fine."
She raised an eyebrow and snorted. "Ya big baby." She tugged on his sleeve and he reluctantly followed her to the other room and settled sideways on the couch, with her sitting to his left.
He shrugged out of the top of his uniform, exposing the long scar that wrapped around three inches from his belly button to the same spot on his back. It was raised and about one fourth of an inch thick. The skin surrounding the scar was pitted and stretched, and always seemed to hurt worse when the weather changed, even three years later.
Matsumoto worked the clear oil gently into the surrounding skin, noting when his body stiffened and mentally marked those spots for further work. Trying to get his mind off the pain, she asked, "So, what squad do you think she'll end up in?"
"Fourth, I'm sure. She still shows remarkable…" a small hiss of pain as Matsumoto dug a little deeper, "…healing tendencies."
"The rejection technique?"
"No. At least I don't think it's the same. I will have to look further into it." Matsumoto smiled to herself when she noticed his scowl lessen as the tight muscles she was working on loosened up.
"So…do you think Ichigo's new calmness is going to last when he actually sees her?"
"Mmm. Well we have six more years till she's outta the academy." His words were slightly slurred as his face relaxed even further letting Matsumoto know her fingers were working.
She shifted so that he leaned into her and she wrapped her arm around him. Leaning her head on top of his, her eyes closed as well. They stayed that way for several minutes until Toshiro jerked forward and fell off the couch.
"Smoke!" he yelped and rushed towards their slowly charring dinner. Matsumoto ended up in a heap on the floor beside the couch laughing so hard tears were rolling down her face and she could hardly speak for gasping.
"Its…your face!" She controlled her giggles when his glaring face peered around the corner. She smiled apologetically. "It's just rice Toshiro…"
He just rolled his eyes and disappeared back into the kitchen to salvage their meal.
Ichigo was only in the empty apartment for about an hour before Uryuu knocked on the door. Annoyed eyes greeted him when he let the Quincy in. Ichigo dodged the heavy book aimed at his head as Uryuu passed him and headed for the small living room/kitchen area. Ichigo rolled his eyes, closed the door, and followed the agitated Quincy into the other room.
The Quincy had already crashed into one of the chairs and had the thick book open about halfway, his eyes scanning the text quickly. Ichigo raised an eyebrow as he took the seat opposite and watched the normally collected man frantically mumble to himself.
"So…Hello to you to?"
Uryuu glared and if looks could kill, Ichigo would be dead several times over. "I have a major O-Chem test tomorrow. This had better be good."
Ichigo smiled. Which caused Uryuu to gape and slam his book shut. "This is good. Tell me."
Ichigo shook his head. "We gotta wait for Chad, I ain't telling this story twi- three times."
He waved it off. "You'll understand later. Study like a good boy." Ichigo had to dodge the heavy book once again as it was tossed at his head. "You sure have become violent in the last few years."
Uyruu's eye twitched. "You must me rubbing off on me."
At 2:10 Chad walked through the door. He nodded his greeting to Uryuu before slouching into the remaining chair.
Ichigo couldn't keep the grin off his face. "We found her."
His audience blinked twice. Uryuu turned to Chad. "We're we looking for someone?" Chad just shrugged.
Ichigo rolled his eyes. "Look. Toshiro went on a walkthrough of the Academy where he found a girl who had a remarkable zanpakuto."
Ichigo growled. "Let me finish. Her zanpakuto has a sealed form of hairclips…flower hairclips."
That only took a few seconds to sink in. Both men jumped out of their seats.
"No way! She's there?"
"Why didn't she come to find us?"
Ichigo sighed and waited for the two to sit back down. "She doesn't remember anything."
"Nothing?" Uryuu adjusted his glasses and tried to bring back his emotionless mask.
Ichigo shook his head. "No. She didn't recognize Toshiro at all. He says it's not an uncommon thing, especially what she went through."
They sat in silence for a few moments thinking his words over. It was Chad who broke the silence.
"She's happy, right?"
Uryuu looked down at his hands, the kitchen's overhead light glinting off his glasses and hiding his eyes. "That's all we can hope for then."
The train was crowed and getting on Ichigo's nerves. He was drumming his fingers on the metal railing and jiggling his leg up and down.
"Will you quit it?" Uryuu asked tensely with his arms crossed over his chest.
Ichigo shrugged and didn't stop. "Are you sure you know where we're going?"
Chad cleared his throat. "She's pretty well known now; the gym she works out in has gotten a lot of publicity."
Ichigo went back to scowling out the window for the next twenty minutes until the announcement came for their stop.
The gym was rather upscale. They walked through the double glass doors and up to a reception desk that was set at the back of the small lobby. Ichigo could tell that the gym was behind the solid looking wooden doors to her left and there was a keypad in the wall.
The receptionist looked a bit frazzled and glanced at them distractedly when they reached the desk. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, could you tell us if Tatsuki Arisawa is working out today?" Uryuu seemed to know the second the words left his mouth that he had asked the wrong question.
The receptionist face-hardened. "Get out. I don't have time to deal with you idiot fanboys today."
"No, you misunderstood. We went to High School together…"
"I've heard that one before. You think you would get more creative."
Ichigo clenched his teeth together before asking, "Could you at least tell her we are out here?"
"No. Don't make me call the police."
Ichigo had an epiphany. He smirked and let his spiritual pressure rise just enough to be noticeable. Chad and Uryuu looked at him in confusion and amazement while the receptionist placed her hand on her head.
"I'm getting dizzy…" she muttered.
Ichigo didn't have to wait long for the double wooden doors to fly open and Tatsuki burst through them, being followed by two confused well-built guys.
She stopped dead and glared at him. "YOU."
"I-" Ichigo didn't get another word out before she sprinted across the space and took a swing at him. He dodged around for a few seconds before catching her wrists and holding her still.
"I'm calling the police!" the receptionist cried but stopped with the phone halfway to her ear when Tatsuki stopped her.
"Don't bother. What do you want, Kurosaki? Come to tell me you've killed another one of my friends?" That got a few gasps from the onlookers.
Ichigo shook his head. "Can we just talk? Please?"
It was probably the 'please' that did it. She still glared at him, but she looked like she wanted to know what he had to say before she killed him. "Fine. Talk."
Uryuu pushed his glasses up his nose. "Could we talk somewhere a bit more privately?" He looked pointedly at the people staring at them.
She nodded and led them through the double doors and to a small office space set off just to the side. Ichigo wasn't exactly thrilled her two thugs followed, but the look on their faces was easy to interpret. 'We don't trust you to be alone with her.'
"She's not…gone…" He waited patiently for the light to go off in her head.
"She…Oh! Wait, what do you mean…not gone? I thought you said you…" Hope was evident in her voice.
"Yes…but…" Ichigo tried to think how to phrase it with the audience. He couldn't very well say, 'yeah, she's dead but now she's in the shinigami academy…'
"Tatsuki." Surprisingly it was Chad that found the words. "We never really explained what happened, and that was wrong of us. The man that…took her from us and brainwashed her was good at it. When we got there, she was so far gone…we couldn't reach her. Now though, she doesn't remember anything…and she's happy. She gets to live a life without the pain and memories. She's at peace."
She looked from Chad to Ichigo, whose face was drawn and his eyes wide and staring. "I'm sorry, Tatsuki." He whispered. "I promised to take care of her and instead I…" He swallowed and screwed his eyes shut. "But we were dropping like flies, those that still relied on me to get them out alive were bleeding and dying around me…I couldn't…" He opened his eyes and stared straight into hers. "I will never forgive myself for what I did that day, even if she's alright and happy now." He dropped to his knees and bowed his head. "I didn't come here for forgiveness I just wanted you to know she was happy."
Ichigo heard a sniffle and then felt arms wrap around his shoulders and Tatsuki's face burrow into his neck. He brought his own arms up and around the girl and hot tears soaked into his shirt. "I'm sorry." He murmured.
Her tears slowed and Tatsuki leaned back to look him in the eyes. "I can't say that I completely understand, but…I think I can forgive." She put her fingers to his lips when he started to protest. "It's for my own benefit as well. I can't carry this much hatred around anymore."
Ichigo closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against hers. "Thank you."
She smiled before helping him back to his feet. "Thank you for telling me; that's she's happy."
Ichigo smiled softly before checking his watch. "We gotta go, Uryuu's got some big test or something and I got stuff to take care of…"
They said their goodbyes and started out the large wooden doors. Ichigo's back was just about to disappear when she called out.
"Has the rain finally stopped, Ichigo?" The others looked at her in confusion since the day was bright and sunny.
He turned and flashed her a real smile. "Yeah, it has."
AN: so that's it kiddies…I'm not 100 sure about it, but I think its just cuz it's the end…well I hoped you liked it…
Thanks to all the Reviewers…
Music of the heart
And last but definitely not least….PND…you know you're awesome…
All of you really made my heart go all fuzzy with your kind reviews…I'm happy that people enjoy the madness that escapes my mind every once in awhile…well I'm off to go work on other fics…