Disclaimer: Bleach is the property of Kubo Tite. I own the plot of this now completed little piece of fan fiction. Heh…
(Thirty years later)
He stood in front of the mirror as he fixed his tie, a part of the uniform to his new high school. He had just moved into town, and today would be his first day attending Karakura High.
When he was finished, he lingered another moment and stared dully at himself in the mirror, his green eyes staring back at him. With a small sigh, he grabbed his school bag, slung it over one shoulder, and left the house.
As he walked at a leisurely pace, he observed his surroundings. Even though he had never been in Karakura Town in the sixteen years of his life, he knew this place. Some things seemed different, but, for the most part, it was how he had remembered it. Idly, he wondered if this would be the place where he would find what he had been searching for.
The last bell of the day rang, and school was out. After attending a meeting with her handicrafts club, she bid farewell to her friends and began to head home. As she stepped out of the school gates, she looked up and smiled at the sky, using her fingers to secure a lock of her long vibrant hair behind her ear as a soft breeze swept over her.
It was a nice day. With the sun out and the sky blue, it was the kind of day that always made her ever-optimistic mind think…something good might happen today.
"Hey, pretty. How's it going?"
Or not… She tore her eyes away from the sky to the two boys who now stood in front of her, barring her path. They were wearing uniforms from a different high school, and she didn't recognize either one of them. Though, to be honest, they didn't really look like the threatening type. They were both relatively scrawny, not particularly tall, and might fit into the category of geeks. One had glasses while the other had freckles.
Not entirely sure what to expect, she smiled. "Um…fine. How are you?"
"We know where there's gonna be an awesome party tonight," Freckles said, raising his brows suggestively, trying his best to give her the eye. "Wanna go?"
The eye thing went completely over her head. "Well…I already have plans, so…"
"Oh, come on," Glasses said, running a hand through his hair in his best imitation of the way some pretty boys sometimes did it in movies. "Forget that and come with us. I promise it'll be fun."
"Besides," Freckles chimed in, "you're just hanging out with that punk, aren't you?"
She furrowed her brows, honestly confused. "Punk?"
"Yeah, we see you around," Glasses said. "What's a nice girl like you doing wasting your time with that loser?"
She placed a finger to her chin in thought. "Mmm…I don't think I know what you're talking about…"
Freckles rolled his eyes. "You know. The big guy who dyes his hair blue and thinks he's so tough. He looks like a total delinquent."
Glasses nodded his head in agreement. "He probably belongs in a gang or something. You should stay away from him."
The light went on in her head, and she finally realized whom they were talking about. "Uh…but…"
"Bet he's stupid, too," Freckles cut her off. "You won't get anywhere if you stick with guys like that."
Just then, a shadow loomed over the boys from behind. "Excuse me, but…which blue-haired delinquent might you be badmouthing now?"
The blood drained from both boys' faces as they heard the sound of knuckles cracking. Then, turning around slowly, they found that tall, I-can-kill-three-bulls-with-one-punch muscular, blue-haired devil towering over them with the worst kind of grin on his face.
His first day at school had been uneventful, and he didn't see anyone of notable interest in his class. However, that didn't necessarily mean anything. His class was just the beginning. The school was bigger. The town was even bigger. No matter what, he had to keep searching.
When the school day ended, he went up to the roof and scanned the area as the students left the building. As time passed, the crowds got smaller until there were just a few lingering students with club activities around.
He wasn't sure what exactly he should be looking for, but he was certain that when he saw it…he would know.
Then something caught his eye: a shock of unnaturally blue hair.
He turned, ran back into the building, and bolted down the stairs.
The two scrawny boys were seriously sweating bullets by now as the blue-haired devil stared down at them expectantly.
Glasses gulped, trying to think of a way out. "Um…I…um, well… It wasn't you!" He laughed nervously.
"Oh, no, no, no," Freckles added, shaking his head violently with wide eyes. "Wouldn't dream of it!"
"Oh, good," the blue-haired devil said almost patronizingly, still grinning. "Otherwise somebody might be going home without an eye."
The boys shrank back, shivering.
"Well, lo…look at the time!" Glasses exclaimed. "Gotta go!"
"Yeah, bye!" Freckles added, raising a hand quickly in farewell.
The pair whirled around and tried to make a quick exit, but a firm hand came down on each of their shoulders. They halted with a decidedly unmanly "eep".
"Word of the wise," the blue-haired devil said in a low, dangerous voice. "Stay away from the girl."
"YES, SIR!" Glasses and Freckles said in unison before bolting for their lives.
After giving a satisfied grin, the blue-haired youth turned his attention back to the girl who was now frowning disapprovingly at him.
"You didn't have to freak them out like that," she admonished.
He shrugged, unaffected. "Wimps who try ta get girls by talking shit about someone else are worthless." He placed an arm casually around her shoulder and began to walk, tugging her along. "Come on, princess."
She sighed with a pout as she fell into step with him. "It's like you're marking your territory or something."
"So? Like I care. That aside, why the heck didn't you wait for me?" he complained.
"You told me you had to go to the principal's office," she said dryly. "I figured that meant detention."
"What?! Have a little more faith, will ya?" His scowl turned into a grin. "You know I'd figure a way out of it."
Despite the fact that whatever he did to get out of detention was probably not a good thing, she couldn't help but chuckle lightly at his remark.
Then, just as they got to the end of the block, a boy with short black hair, this time wearing the same school uniform as theirs, suddenly jumped over the school fence and landed in a crouch right in front of them, blocking their way.
Whereas the startled girl gasped, the tall youth cursed. "The hell's your problem, you crazy moro…" He lost his train of thought, his mouth left agape, when the boy stood and looked up, revealing his stoic features.
The girl stood transfixed at the sight of the boy before her. Her legs were getting weak, and she found herself clinging onto the one beside her just to remain on her feet. The boy…he looked a bit different. His skin was not ashen white. The streaks on his face were gone, and the broken mask was no more. However, she would never mistake those piercing green eyes. "Ulquiorra…" she all but breathed.
The raven-haired boy stared at her another moment longer, drinking the sight of her in. She looked almost exactly as he had remembered. Her hair was even more vibrant than before. Then finally, he responded. "Hime…"
Reassured by his confirmation, she began to cry, overjoyed to finally see him again.
The boy then looked over to the blue-haired youth. He, too, did not appear much different aside from the lack of his broken mask and the markings under his eyes. "Grimmjow…" His eyes then traveled down to where the blue-haired youth had his hand on the girl's shoulder, not sure what to think.
Seeing that look, the taller teen grinned. "Well, it's about damn time you showed your face. Here," he said as he practically shoved the girl over to the other boy.
She yelped as the unexpected push caused her to trip over her own feet. Luckily, the raven-haired youth caught her before she sprawled on the sidewalk. She couldn't help but blush with embarrassment as he held onto her and helped her up. This definitely was not the musical style romantic and graceful pick-me-up-and-spin-me-around kind of reunion embrace that she'd been dreaming about over the years.
The blue-haired youth raked a hand through his unruly hair. "I consider myself debt free, ya hear?" He placed his hands in his pockets, heaving a sigh. "This girl's like some walking guy magnet. Gotta swat them away like annoying flies."
Upon hearing those words, the raven-haired youth gave a slight smirk. "You haven't changed."
Sitting on top of a roof with his legs dangling off the edge, close enough to see the trio's reunion but far enough away not to be seen, was Urahara Kisuke.
Standing a few steps behind him with folded arms, watching as well, was Shihouin Yoruichi. "You're getting soft in your old age, Kisuke."
Urahara hid his grin behind his fan as he recalled events of thirty years ago, back in the underground chamber of Las Noches:
Grimmjow had his zanpakutou drawn, poised to fight as the exiled shinigami slowly approached with the released Benihime in hand.
"Relax," Urahara said with a small grin as he came to a stop. "I'm here to make you an offer."
The sexta Espada narrowed his eyes. "The hell are you talking about?"
"You have a few choices before you," Urahara began. "You can, one, stay here in Hueco Mundo and remain as you are for all eternity, which I don't recommend. After all, there really is nothing for you here… But I'm sure you know that better than I do."
Grimmjow made no response.
"Or you can, two," Urahara continued as he waved Benihime casually in the air, "let me cut you down with my zanpakutou, in which case your souls will be cleansed and you'll be on your merry way to Soul Society." He shrugged. "The outlook will be better, I suppose."
The shinigami then reached a hand into the inside pocket of his jacket, fishing for something. "OR…you can, three…" He pulled out three small objects that looked like little green marbles and held them out on the palm of his hand for Grimmjow to see. One of them was glowing and floating slightly above his palm. "…swallow one of these Memory Retaining Pills and be put back into the reincarnation cycle to be reborn into the living world with all your memories intact!" he finished with enthusiasm.
Silence followed as Grimmjow arched a skeptical brow at the unbelievable idea.
Urahara beamed with pride. "Nifty little things, aren't they? I created them myself."
"Great," Grimmjow said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Sounds pointless. Why the hell would I trade all my bad ass powers just to become some puny human who remembers that I used to have bad ass powers? Huh? Stop wasting our time and just go the hell away!"
"Tsk, tsk," Urahara said with a shake of his head. "You didn't let me finish." He held up the pills again, speaking with seriousness now. "Inoue-san has already taken one. Her spirit is now inside the glowing pill. Don't believe me? I'm sure you can recognize her reiatsu."
As Grimmjow paid closer attention to the glowing pill, his eyes widened. Urahara was telling the truth.
This also caught Ulquiorra's attention, and he finally came out of his daze and opened his ears.
"You see where I'm going with this now, don't you?" Urahara asked. "Swallow the pill, and you will remember everything in your next life. The only thing you have to do then…is to find each other again. The choice is yours, of course. Another chance to be together, or," he shrugged, "bad ass powers."
Grimmjow growled, but Ulquiorra stood up and took a pill from Urahara's hand, staring at it between his fingers.
"Woah, hey, wait!" Grimmjow exclaimed with alarm. "How do you know you can even trust this guy?!"
But all Ulquiorra said in return without tearing his eyes away from the pill was, "I'll find her." Then, without hesitation, he swallowed the pill.
Ulquiorra's body began to fade until it eventually disappeared. All that was left was a glowing green pill, floating in the spot where the core of his body had been just a moment ago.
Urahara calmly reached out and collected the pill.
Grimmjow on the other hand was about to pull his hair out with frustration. How could Ulquiorra just jump into it like that?! Wasn't he always the 'think before he acts' kind of person?! "Damn it!" What was he supposed to do now?!
The sexta Espada glared over at Urahara who only grinned back.
"So, what'll it be?" the shinigami asked lightly.
"How did you even know about us?" Grimmjow asked in a serious tone. The three of them didn't even find out about their past lives until Orihime had been captured, so she couldn't have told Urahara anything beforehand.
"Ah, that," Urahara said with another grin. "Well, I had a feeling there might be a rather strong connection between Ulquiorra-san and Inoue-san when he came to the living world to see me. And I also saw you in the message that he showed me, so I brought an extra pill just in case. But until Inoue-san confirmed things for me just now…" he gave another shrug, "the nature of your relationships was all just speculation." He looked at the arrancar. "Satisfied?"
Grimmjow grumbled with a frown. "No. Why would you do this for us?"
"I wouldn't," Urahara replied simply. "I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing it…for her." He looked pointedly at the pills in his hand.
Grimmjow followed the shinigami's line of sight. If there was one thing he understood, it was debts. It all made sense now, but it didn't make him like the situation any better. Still, both Orihime and Ulquiorra had already, in his honest opinion, stupidly taken up on the offer, so what choice did he have?
The sexta Espada fisted his hands in Urahara's jacket, pulling him in threateningly. "If this doesn't work, I swear I will kill you!" He took the last pill and popped it into his mouth.
When Grimmjow vanished from sight, Urahara collected the last pill, growing solemn as he stood alone in the dark room. "It's the least I can do to compensate…"
Urahara looked down at the three teens with a smile on his face. "Maybe I have gotten soft, but…" his smile turned into a grin, "I'd like to think that I haven't lost my sense of humor…"
"Where the hell have you been all this time?!" the blue-haired youth asked with a scowl.
"At least I have been searching," the other boy replied calmly, placing his hands in his pockets. "It appears you have been doing nothing."
"Hey, the world is god damn huge, ok?" the taller boy griped. "And it's not like we picked a place to meet since someone swallowed that pill the second he saw it."
The raven-haired youth looked away. "That is not an excuse."
"So, if there ever was an obvious location, this town would be it," the blue-haired youth continued. "And since we were conveniently born here and all," he said, pointing to himself and the girl, "we figured we'd just wait it out. Makes sense to me."
"Ulquiorra, how long have you been here?" the girl asked.
"I was born overseas, but my father was originally from this town," the raven-haired boy replied. "He and I just moved back."
The girl turned to the blue-haired youth with a pout and a small scowl. "See, Gin-chan! Didn't I say we should take more trips!"
Her cheek was caught between his fingers in no time. "How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me that sissy name?!"
"Ow! Ow! Ow!"
The blue-haired youth wasn't the least bit surprised when he suddenly found himself being threatened from behind by the raven-haired youth. He was used to it after all, and, deep down, he was probably expecting it. What caught him completely off guard, however, was what the other boy was using to threaten him with. The last thing he expected as he turned around was to be faced with a huge glowing white bow with the tip of an equally glowing white arrow pointing right between his eyes.
Needless to say, he and the girl both stood speechless with slacked jaws. That was until he suddenly broke out into hysterical laughter. "You're a damn Quincy!!"
"But…" the girl began thoughtfully, "Ishida-kun's the last Quincy, so that means…"
"Your name!" the blue-haired youth said, still laughing. "What's your name?!"
The raven-haired youth closed his eyes with a small sigh as he put away his weapon. "Uriya…Ishida Uriya. Ishida Uryuu is my father."
The girl, as expected, brightened with wide eyes. "That's so cool!!"
The blue-haired youth on the other hand was doubled over with a hand on his stomach, practically laughing himself to tears by now.
"Gin-chan!" she said with a stomp of her foot. "Stop laughing!"
He straightened back up with annoyance. "Stop calling me that! My name's Ginjo, damn it!"
Uriya raised a brow ever so slightly. "Ginjo?"
"Yeah," the taller boy frowned. "What of it?"
"Nothing. It just sounds an awful lot like…"
Ginjo raked a hand through his hair with a sigh. "Yeah, well…my parents have a sick sense of humor."
"Don't say that about mom and dad!" the girl berated with a small frown.
Ginjo rolled his eyes. "I don't wanna hear that from someone who can't even say my name right. If you can't say Ginjo, then call me Onii-sama." He folded his arms with a scowl of his own.
It was her turn to roll her eyes. "You sure think highly of yourself…Gin-chan."
"You're…siblings?" Uriya inquired.
While the girl flashed a smile, her brother grinned. "Damn right."
Uriya looked from one sibling to the other. Why did he get the feeling he already knew who their parents might be? He almost didn't want to ask. "Your names?"
Ginjo looked away, scowling again. "Kurosaki Ginjo."
The girl on the other hand beamed brightly. "Kurosaki Himeko!"
Uriya closed his eyes with yet another sigh. Urahara Kisuke…he had this whole thing planned out all along…
Up on the roof, Urahara chuckled lightly behind his fan. He could still feel the punch he received from the shocked and enraged Ichigo when he told him in the delivery room that his son was in fact the sexta Espada. But that look on the new father's face…it had been completely worth it.
Yoruichi sighed. "I still don't know how you managed to make it happen."
"Heh…I was the founder of Research and Development after all," Urahara grinned. "Are you surprised that somebody or other in the Reincarnation Department might owe me a favor or two for some…slightly unconventional gadgets or what not?"
"I can't believe you're actually bragging about it," Yoruichi said with a shake of her head.
"All I had to do was hold on to their spirits until the time was right," he said as he got to his feet. Taking one last look at the trio, he smiled as the weight that he'd been carrying on his shoulders the last thirty years finally lifted.
He placed a cup of tea on the table in front of his long-time friend and took a seat opposite to him, his perma-frown firmly in place. "Ishida. You sure know how to keep in touch. After college you just took off and we never see or hear from you again."
Ishida Uryuu took a sip of his tea. "Shut up, Kurosaki," he replied calmly. "It's not like we were buddies to begin with. Be glad I even stopped by to visit."
Ichigo fumed. "Why you…! Why did I even bother switching to night shift at the hospital today just so I can see your sorry ass?! You're as disagreeable as ever!"
"And you're the same idiot I remember," Ishida replied, not missing a beat.
Rukia chuckled as she joined them at the table. "Just like old times."
Ishida turned to her with a polite smile. "How's life treating you, Rukia-san?"
"After years of living in a gigai, you get used to it," she replied casually. "I still go back to Soul Society quite often. If it's not for work-related reasons, then it's to see Nii-sama and Renji."
Rukia took a sip of her tea as she let her memories take her back. For their part in the Las Noches invasion, both she and Renji had been offered promotions…after first being chewed out for disobeying orders, of course. While Renji took on the role as captain of the Fifth Division, Rukia instead requested for a transfer to be permanently stationed in Karakura. With the support of Ukitake and Renji as well as, surprisingly, the blessing of Byakuya, her permission was granted without much opposition. Soul Society did see the benefits of such an arrangement, especially since Karakura had been targeted before, and that worked out perfectly for Rukia. "Things have been quiet, though. Ever since Aizen's execution, nothing out of the ordinary has happened. It's nice."
"What about Ichimaru Gin?" the Quincy asked. "Have you found him, yet?"
"No," Ichigo said, somewhat annoyed. "I still can't figure out how he managed to slip away that day, but he hasn't resurfaced since."
"And the remaining members of the Espada and the arrancar?" Ishida inquired.
"Without Aizen there to hold them together, it looks like they pretty much disbanded," Rukia supplied. "There hasn't been any activity from them either, even after all this time."
"Is that so…" Ishida said, half-distracted as he thought back to the real reason he came back to Karakura: a message that came in the form of a flying-baseball-turned-blood-splatter on his living room wall that simply read, "Return to Karaura… P.S.: It's important." He didn't get just one. It was one every other night until, five broken windows, two shattered vases, seven destroyed picture frames, and one blood red dyed couch later, he finally started packing.
So, if it wasn't Ichimaru Gin and it wasn't the arrancars, then what could the problem be? It was unlikely that it would be the vizards causing trouble since, after the Las Noches incident, Soul Society had grudgingly accepted them as something like allies with Ichigo acting as the ultimate link between humans, shinigami, and vizards.
Since Urahara had been pestering him…actually, more like harassing him…so much, Ishida had thought that something catastrophic must be happening again. However, from the sounds of it, everything was just peachy. He couldn't help but grumble. Why did he get the feeling that he was being jerked around?
Ichigo deepened his frown. "What's with that face? It's good nothing's happening, right? We took out Aizen, and everybody's happy."
Ishida sighed. "I suppose. If only Inoue-san didn't have to…"
Ichigo shared a glance with Rukia before speaking again. "That reminds me. Himeko's been ecstatic ever since we told her you'd be coming."
The Quincy quirked a brow. "Who's Himeko?"
Ichigo grinned. "Our daughter."
"You have a daughter? But I've never even met her before. Why would she want to see me?" Ishida frowned with suspicion. "You better not have been telling her I can do lame tricks or something."
Ichigo's grin only widened. "Heh…you'll see."
Ishida adjusted his glasses, recomposing himself. "Well, my son wasn't nearly as thrilled when I told him to come here after school today." Then he mumbled to himself, "Not that he's ever really thrilled about anything, but…"
Ichigo raised his brows. "Huh? You mean some poor girl actually married you?"
Just then, the sound of voices could be heard coming from outside.
Rukia closed her eyes and smiled. "Ah, the sound of vibrant laughter and incessant cursing… Sounds like they're home."
As if on cue, Himeko burst through the door. "We're home!" She scanned the room, immediately spotting their guest in the living room. "Ishida-kun!!" She went over and threw her arms around him in excitement.
"In…Inoue-san?! How did…? When did…? But you…!" Ishida was perplexed to say the least. Not only was Orihime alive, but she looked exactly the same as she did thirty years ago…except for the fact that she now had a head full of bright orange hair.
Himeko pulled away and placed her hands behind her back with a sheepish smile. "Heh, heh…actually, it's Himeko now."
Ishida raised his brows. "Then…you're…"
As Ishida and Himeko continued to converse, Ichigo spotted Uriya standing beside Ginjo. Quirking a brow at Ginjo, he asked, "Who's this?" Since his son was definitely not the 'bring friends home' type, he immediately jumped to a different conclusion. "He better not be another kid you've beat up who's here to ask for compensation. I'm a doctor, damn it. Can you not keep doing things that are so contradicting?" he berated, conveniently forgetting that he used to do the same when he was a teen.
"I'm giving ya business," Ginjo drawled, somewhat annoyed. "Thank me already. But to answer your question, no, he's not."
Ichigo was skeptical. He looked at Uriya again with his chin in hand. "Hmm…you do look kind of familiar…" Where had he seen him before?
After a drawn out pause, Uriya finally spoke. "You're still not very bright, are you? Kurosaki Ichigo."
Ichigo's jaws dropped as he pointed at the boy. "That annoying way of talking! Ulquiorra!!" Then his eyes widened in enlightenment as he pieced something else together. He turned to Ishida. "He's your son?!" A normal person would probably not have come to that conclusion so quickly, but since he was also raising an ex-Espada of his own…
Well, that wasn't important to Ichigo at the moment. First things first. "Teach him some manners, damn it!"
Ishida adjusted his glasses and folded his arms with a smug look. "Heh… Can't fault the boy for speaking the truth."
"That's it!" Ichigo pushed his sleeves up, ready to make a lunge at his so-called long-time friend. Weren't they rivals to begin with? How did he ever manage to forget that?!
However, before anyone could make another move, another voice caught their attention. "Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimeko-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!"
Shinji entered the scene with his arms spread wide open, running towards Himeko…until he was stopped by Ginjo's foot ramming into his face, holding him off. "Th…that's harsh, Ginjo…," he said, trying to talk around the foot. "How could you? I taught you everything you know! I'm like your master!"
Ginjo grumbled. "Master my ass, you pervert! What the hell are you doing here?!"
"How can I not come say hi ta good ol' Uryuu?!"
"Then go throw yourself on him, but hands…off…my sister!" Ginjo said, pushing his foot into the vizard's face some more with every emphasized word. "How many times do I have ta tell you that?! Huh?!"
Shinji's arms flailed about. "…the pain…"
Ichigo heaved a sighed. "Oi, Ginjo, that's good enough."
"I'm not done with him, yet," Ginjo replied as he applied more pressure.
Ichigo frowned with annoyance. "I said stop already."
The blue-haired Kurosaki looked over at his father. "What? You want some o' this, too?"
"Are you even listening to me?!" the orange-haired Kurosaki simmered.
"Come on, old man! Another round of payback! Let's go!" With Shinji all but forgotten, Ginjo went over to Ichigo and threw the first punch, initiating their fight.
"What kind of idiot are you?!" Ichigo hollered but fought back nonetheless.
Shinji took a moment to rub his aching cheek. Then he turned around to watch the fight. "Come on, Ginjo! You can take him!"
Ishida was completely dumbfounded by the craziness that was unfolding before his eyes. He looked over at Rukia and had to wonder how she could just stand there and observe the fight that had broken out between her husband and her child with a smile on her face as though it was completely normal.
While all this mayhem was going on, Himeko tugged on Uriya's hand, and the two silently slipped back outside where things were quieter.
She scratched her forehead with a finger. "Heh…they'll be at it for a while."
"Your life seems…loud."
Himeko laughed as she placed her hands on the porch railing, looking out into their small garden.
Uriya joined her side, facing the opposite direction with his back leaning against the railing and his hands in his pockets.
There was a moment of awkward silence, and she frantically tried to think of something to say. "You know, Gin-chan would always grumble and swear and stuff, but he's actually having a lot of fun fighting with dad all the time. And whenever our grandpa comes over to visit, or we go to the clinic to visit him, he'd always be saying how he's so proud that they're keeping up the Kurosaki father and son tradition. More often than not, he'd get in on the fight, too! It looks like so much fun! I tried to join in one time, but they all just stopped when I did. Must be a guys-only thing… And then…"
Uriya observed her as she continued to talk. She was rambling. Whenever she rambled like this, it meant one thing. "Why are you so anxious?"
She came to a halt at that straightforward question and began to grip the railing tighter, her eyes downcast. "Aren't you going to ask me why?" she asked quietly and timidly.
He blinked, then he turned and looked at his feet. "No."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to try to calm herself. "Are you…upset with me?"
He looked back at her, surprised that she would even think such a thing. Eyeing her ever-tightening grip on the railing, he reached over to detach her hands from it before she hurt herself.
She turned toward him but was afraid to look up.
Uriya kept his eyes on their linked hands as he thought back to that dark night when he found her lifeless body after she had rejected the hougyoku. He had been devastated because, not only had he lost her, he had once again been unable to do anything for her. Nonetheless, he could never be upset with her. "I understand why you did what you did…why you did it without telling me."
She unknowingly tightened her hold on his hands as she listened. The hurt was evident, even in his ever-stoic voice.
"I know," he continued. "That is why I won't ask." He rubbed his thumbs gently over the back of her hands to help soothe her anxiety. "In the end, things turned out for the better, didn't it?" They were both humans now, and it solved their previous dilemma. It took longer to get here, but now they can be together, grow old together, and live a normal live. Well… as normal a life as possible, she being the child of a shinigami and he the descendant of a Quincy. He smirked slightly at the thought. "Everything is fine," he reassured.
She began to cry as she fastened herself to him, her arms wrapping tightly around his waist. "I missed you so much," she whispered between her quiet sobs.
He held her gently in return, burying his face in her hair, breathing her in.
After a while, she finally calmed down. When she tried to step back, however, he held her tighter. "Ulqui…Uriya?"
"You make me worry," he began, his voice barely above a whisper beside her ear. "If I were to let go…or turn around…I might lose sight of you again."
Fresh tears welled up in her eyes. "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…"
"Still…" his lips curled up slightly as the image of Akari Hime returned to his mind. "I will always find my way back to you."
She looked up, recognizing those words…the words of their promise.
He brushed his thumbs lightly across her cheeks, wiping away her tears. "I've somehow managed so far, haven't I? Even when I have forgotten?"
To that, she simply nodded and smiled, but it was a smile filled with joy, relief, and absolute faith.
He leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. Then he backed away ever so slightly, putting just enough space between them for him to speak. "Although…I would very much appreciate it if the next search will not be for a long, long time to come."
She chuckled lightly. "I think I can work with that." Then a thought occurred to her and she bit her lower lip. "Um…I feel a bit silly asking, but…was that our first kiss?"
He smirked slightly in amusement. "Not really. Does it matter?" He captured her lips with another soft kiss.
She smiled against his lips. "…not really."
Then she wound her arms around his neck as he placed his around her waist, and the two of them shared another kiss…one deep enough to make up for all the time they had to spend apart from one another.
Back inside the Kurosaki household, the father and son brawl continued until Ichigo, who was in the process of being thrown to the floor, caught sight of the action outside. Scrambling to his feet with a shaky finger pointing outside the window, he turned to Ishida and all but freaked out. "What the hell is your son doing to my daughter?!"
Ishida took a look outside the window and his face turned as white as his Quincy outfit, his glasses nearly shattering from the shock as his mouth gaped like a fish out of water. For someone who, up through yesterday, didn't seem to even notice that that opposite sex existed, his son sure moved lightening fast! And if Ishida wasn't so busy being a stunned father at the moment, he might have been just a tad bit envious of the boy.
When both fathers regained their wits, they rushed for the door. Before they could reach it, however, Ginjo stepped in front of the door and blocked their path with a threatening glare. "I don't care if you're parents or whatever now, but this goes back way before even your great, great, great, great, great grandma was born, so stay the hell out of it."
Before any words of confusion or outrage could be voiced on Ichigo and Ishida's parts, Rukia suddenly appeared standing beside Ginjo with large sparkling eyes and her hands clasped in front of her. "Oh, Ginjo, you're being so cool! You're like the hero in this one book I was reading!"
Ginjo grumbled with a deepening scowl. "Damn it, woman! Quit comparing me to those lame characters in your girly books already!"
While Ginjo was distracted, Ichigo dove for the door. But when he opened it, the young couple outside was nowhere to be found.
"Hey, Uriya. Congratulations!" Himeko said as they walked leisurely down the sidewalk.
Uriya raised a brow slightly in query.
"You have two points now!"
He looked away with a smirk as he remembered her bizarre point keeping system.
"But I'm still beating you, because now I have three! And you know what?" she asked, wagging a finger. "I'm really competitive!" She locked her hands behind her back and turned her head towards the sky with a soft smile and a faraway look in her eyes. "I don't think I'll let you catch up."
He closed his eyes with a small sigh. "Then I hope you will be content with being just one point ahead, because I guarantee that the gap will not widen."
Her cheeks flushed as their eyes locked.
Then Ginjo's head popped in between theirs from behind as he placed a hand on each of their shoulders. "Seriously…you gotta stop doing this in front of me." He had come after them as soon as he was able to shake Rukia off. It wasn't his idea of a good time to be the only one stuck with 'the folks'.
Himeko yelped as she jumped away. "Ah! When did you get here?!"
"Too early for my own good," her brother deadpanned. "You were just too wrapped up in your…" he waved a hand in the air, trying to find the words, "…lovers' code talk to notice."
She flushed redder with a small pout.
"And you," Ginjo turned his glare to the Quincy boy. "You knew I was here. You just like to watch me suffer."
Uriya merely spared Ginjo a glance. "You are the one who followed."
"Watching your old man and mine argue ain't my idea of fun," he explained. "If they actually fought, that would be a different story. Anyway, I'm starving. I need food."
"I thought we were supposed to go home for dinner," Himeko said. "Isn't mom cooking?"
Ginjo waved a dismissive hand. "She's busy playing referee."
"Oh…then maybe I should cook!" she brightened as she picked up Uriya's hand and held it in hers. "That's right! Today's the day we finally met up again! I should cook a nice meal for us to celebrate!"
Uriya casually moved his eyes from Himeko to Ginjo who was standing behind her with wide eyes, shaking his head minutely but ever so vigorously. He returned his attention to the girl. "Hime, perhaps we should go somewhere to celebrate," he said with a straight face. "I saw a café near the school this morning. It appears their grand opening is today. Dessert is supposedly their specialty."
"Oh! I've been waiting for that place to open!" she exclaimed excitedly. "I've looked at their menu, and I want to try all of their desserts!"
"Then that is where we shall go."
"Ok! Let's go!" She walked on ahead, ecstatic.
Ginjo grinned slyly at Uriya. "You haven't lost your touch. Another crisis avoided."
Uriya placed his hands in his pockets. "You can repay me by taking care of the bill."
"What?! No way!"
"I don't have enough on me to cover your appetite," Uriya said simply.
"I don't eat that much," Ginjo retorted with indignation.
"You always eat the most," Uriya said, matter of fact. "Some things don't change. I am positive that is one of them."
Ginjo narrowed his eyes. "Fine, then…whoever eats the most pays. You game?"
Uriya wanted to point out that they had made this bet many times before back when they were still Ukita and Genji, and never once had Genji ever been the victor. Then again, it would be more amusing to let Ginjo remember on his own…after once again losing the bet. "Fine."
In the distance, Himeko turned around with a slightly impatient look. "Hey, are you guys coming? Hurry up!"
Ginjo chuckled as Uriya smirked. With more ease and content than they'd felt in far too long, they followed after her. It was like the three of them had just picked up right where they'd left off all those centuries ago, and the time in between filled with desperate searching, hopeless waiting, and mindless fighting was nothing more than a mere interlude.
Author's Confession: One of the reasons why I started writing this story was because I initially saw this end, with Ulquiorra and Grimmjow reincarnated as Ishida and Ichigo's children, and thought it would be the funniest thing, so I hope you share my sentiments on the matter. LOL! I can't belive it's over! I'm so excited and sad all at the same time!
And now, can we all put the cyberstones away? I am a fan of happy endings after all. Haha! And forgive Urahara, too? Please?
Ages: Ginjo is 17, Uriya is 16, and Himeko is 15.
Names. Same as before, I came up with them first by sound, then selected the meanings:
Gin means "silver". Jo means "dawn". Silver dawn…I'm not sure if it necessarily describes him, but it sounds kind of cool, and I like the meaning.
Hime means "princess". Ko means "child" and is often used in girls' names. Also, when hime is used as a prefix, it can mean "little/small" or "pretty". So, instead of "princess child", I guess her name could also mean "little/pretty child". It's a bit weird either way, but I really wanted to keep Hime in her name.
U means "rain". Ri means "reason/logic". Ya means "arrow". Is this one perfect or what? It's the perfect name for the Quincified Ulquiorra. LOL! And it also follows what appears to be the Ishida family naming convention where the son's name takes on one of the characters of the father's name: Souken/Ryuuken, Ryuuken/Uryuu, Uryuu/Uriya. See! It was meant to be. Haha!
And just to reiterate, I'm no expert in Japanese. Don't take my word here as gospel. Heh…
Oh, if you can't remember what the deal was with Hime's bizarre point keeping system, check back to Chapter 12. If you still don't get what they're talking about, you can ask me.
This chapter was super long compared to the others, but it's really just a quick overview of how things turned out. There's a lot more details in my head on how this life works. Seriously, these days I think 75 percent of my brain is in this world on a constant basis. That can't be too healthy. LOL! I'm probably going to do a collection of vignettes looking into the trio's new lives, before and after their reunion. So, if you're curious…or perhaps not completely sold on the idea of Ulqui and Grimm being a Quincy and a shinigami/vizard…this might help. Interested?
It'll also help set the stage somewhat for the sequel that hopefully will be coming. I've been bombarded with ideas for like the past 2 months, but it's not a sure thing yet. Everything's still discombobulated in my head right now, and unless I can work out a complete outline, I won't post anything. Personal policy. But at the moment, I think it's pretty likely…though it will be at least a few months before it happens. The sequel will be more about Grimm. Ulqui and Hime will be in it too, of course, but they switch the lead and support roles with Grimm. Because Genji/Grimm/Ginjo is my baby, too, and he needs some spotlight as well. Haha! And since the whole end of the world thing's done and over with, the story will be on a smaller scale. Well, I hope you'll give it a try if and when it happens.
Many thanks for reading!
Special thanks to everyone who reviewed! You make this project so much more enjoyable!!
Extra special thanks to Inulover4eva and Psy t r a n c e! The two of you have been with this story literally since day one and providing me with constant feedback. You have no idea how grateful I am, especially in the beginning when I wasn't getting a whole lot of response and I was just sitting here wondering if anybody's even reading the darn thing. LOL!
To my silent readers, you've come this far, if I can get some final overall thought from you, I'd be happy.
That's all for now! Until next time!