Bleach Fanstory: After the War
Bleach Fan story: After the War
By Michael Xu
Bleach is owned by Tite Kubo
This is purely a fan story and I don't own any of the characters in it, apart from OC I may create.
Aizen Sousuke has succeeded in creating the King's key, and has taken his place as God of all Dimensions. The Soul Society is in ruins, with Karakura Town completely obliterated. The survivors of Karakura Town and the Gotei 13 have retreated back to the real world, merging into normal society, in the hopes that one day; they may truly overthrow Aizen for good. The story begins four years later, with Ichigo continuing his double life as a substitute Shinigami.
Story so far: After a grueling invasion which so hundreds of casaulties on both sides, Soul Society finally defeated Aizen Sousuke and his Royal Guard, with Ichigo having the honour of killing Aizen with his own hands. As his hollow side dissipated, a dying Aizen made one last desperate attempt to hold onto his crown, but Ichigo finished him off, before falling unconscious. He was rescued by Rukia and Orihime. The three of them discovered the true Spirit King, Izanagi, imprisoned inside a cell. Izanagi told them the secret of Aizen's past and his descent into evil. Ichigo, Rukia and Orihime escorted Izanagi down to the bottome of the Citadel, where they discovered the rest of the Gotei 13 waiting for them. In a sudden turn of events, Orihime summoned the full extent of her powers and reveived everyone who had died, including the defeated Royal Guards. Then after opening a gateway to Soul Society, Orihime went through it and jumped down towards the remnants of Karakura Town. In a heroic sacrifice, she restored Karakura Town to its original state. Ichigo and his friends were too late to save her, but unbeknownst to them, the spirit of Amaterasu survived and was reborn in her original body. Izanagi reunited with her daughter, and after Amaterasu resurrected Orihime and gave her soul back, the Royal family and their guardians ascended to the sky. Peace had finally come to Soul Society...
Chapter 40: Under a Morning Sta
After the ten Gotei 13 divisions returned to Soul Society, things began to settle down. The six Royal Guards who had been imprisoned in the Maggot's Nest were allowed to return to the King's Realm, along with any Tengu or Akuma soldiers who wanted to follow them. Most of them went, but a fair number wished to rejoin the regular Shinigami corps. The newly restored Karakura Town was quickly settled by homeless Rukongai citizens, whilst most of the spiritually aware survivors from Tokyo City started enrolling at the Shinigami Academy. The thirteen divisions themselves were undergoing some major changes…
Urahara and Yoruichi followed Tessai to a secret room inside the former Central 46 chambers. As they reached a locked security door, Tessai pulled out a special magnetic key and scanned it through a barcode. There was a click, allowing Tessai to pull the door handle and enter.
"Why did you bring me here, Kisuke?" Yoruichi asked.
"Just wait and see," Urahara replied. "I requested Tessai to do something special for me before I left for Hueco Mundo. They were standing in a storage room, with several large metallic cabinets lined up along the walls. Upon each of the cabinets was a number lock. Tessai unscrambled one of the locks and opened the cabinet. Inside were two man-size wooden boxes, almost coffin-like in appearance. Tessai took both boxes out and opened them. Yoruichi gasped in surprise when she was what was inside them.
"It's Jinta and Ururu!" she exclaimed. "You've preserved them this whole time?"
"Their gigais at least," Urahara said. "I kept their Gikongans with me during my four years of isolation." He took two green balls out of his pockets and inserted them into the mouths of the gigais. Within moments both Ururu and Jinta opened their eyes and blinked. The first thing they saw were the faces of Urahara and Yoruichi staring at them. At once Ururu jumped and wrapped her arms around Urahara.
"Kisuke-san!" Ururu cried. "I've missed you so much!"
"I've missed you too," Urahara smiled. Jinta did some stretch ups and searched frantically around the room.
"Where's my baseball bat?" he asked. "I desperately need to swing it!" He was so intent on finding his bat that he bumped into Tessai.
"Ouch! What was that?" he rubbed his head. He gulped when he saw Tessai peering down on him, like a giant.
"Are you looking for this?" Tessai asked with a fake malevolent grin. He handed Jinta a worn out baseball bat. "I've kept it in a safe location."
"Um, thank you, Tessai-san," Jinta said, his face all red.
"So that's what happened to them," Yoruichi started laughing. "You took their Gikongans out and told Tessai to hide them somewhere safe." Urahara let go of Ururu and told them to follow Tessai out of the store room.
"They are my children after all. I didn't want to put them in danger, yet I knew they couldn't stand losing me, you or Tessai. So I did what I had to do," Urahara said.
"So things about you have never changed, have they?" Yoruichi asked. Urahara grinned. The two of them exited the store room.
The official Senkaimon opened, allowing two figures to pass through. They were met by Shinigami from the first division. Upon, showing their passes, the two figures revealed themselves.
"Ishida Uryu and Yasutora Sado, reporting in from our reconnaissance mission," Ishida said, producing his official 'Agent of the Shinigami' pass. He, Sado and his father had all been officially sanctioned as agents working for Soul Society. They were allowed to come and go through a specially modified Senkaimon. Upon receiving clearance to enter Seireitei, Ishida and Sado were almost greeted at once by Orihime and Tatsuki. The two ladies were wearing standard Shinigami academy dress, with a white haori and a red hakama.
"Uryu! Sado!" Orihime called out. She ran up to Ishida and hugged him. "It's been so lonely without you."
"Huh? What's going on?" Ishida asked. "The two of you are wearing those academy outfits. Are both of you training to become Shinigami?" Orihime and Tatsuki nodded.
"We didn't feel like sitting around and doing nothing," Tatsuki said. "Anyway, what were the two of you doing down in the real world?"
"Oh, we were working with the second division to repair the damage to Tokyo City, which was almost destroyed during the recent Arrancar invasion," Ishida replied.
"Hey Tatsuki, have you seen Ichigo? I need to ask him something," Sado requested.
"You're looking for Ichigo? He's doing something with his father," Tatsuki replied. "I'm not sure what it is."
"Kuchiki-san's been busy too. It seems that all of the Shinigami are busy planning for something, but I don't know what," Orihime said.
"Hey Inoue, can you still use your powers?" Ishida asked. It took a few seconds for Orihime to realize what he was referring to.
"Um, I can only use them a little," she replied. "They're probably as strong as when I first awakened my powers."
"I see," Ishida said. So Inoue's powers really were a legacy of Amaterasu…
Ichigo gazed up at a rather worn down pair of wrought iron gates, some thirty feet tall. Though he imagined how splendorous they must been in their prime, right now both of the gates were covered with rust.
"What is this place, old man?" Ichigo asked Isshin, who was standing beside him.
"This is the former residential quarters of the Shiba family," Isshin replied. "Kukaku told me she and Ganju stopped living here after Kaien's death. Since then, it's fallen into a state of disrepair." He pushed open the front gates, revealing a desolate courtyard overgrown with moss and weeds. The various houses nearby were covered with dust and soot; some of the houses were seriously dilapidated.
"Are you telling me this is the place me and Rukia are going to live in?" Ichigo asked in disbelief. "I'd rather sleep in my division quarters."
"I know it doesn't look so inviting, but I can promise you that given a few weeks of renovating, we can restore it back to its original glory," Isshin said.
"By 'we', you mean you and me right?" Ichigo asked. He dreaded the prospect of doing months of backbreaking labour.
"Of course not. I'm getting a large bunch of those Tengu soldiers who are now working as laborers to do everything."
"Oh god," Ichigo slapped his face. "You're not serious right?"
"Don't worry about it. They'll do a fine job. Now, I didn't bring you here just to show you this place. There is something I want to give you," Isshin said. He led Ichigo to the largest building in the manor, an imposing ten storey tall castle-like structure. Upon entering inside, Ichigo followed his father into an old but still impressive looking living room. Isshin unlocked a man-sized cupboard, revealing a meticulously preserved set of robes. In addition to a standard black kimono and hakama, there was a golden haori embossed with the symbol of the Shiba clan-the swirling current, along its sides. Finally, there was a black rectangular shape hat with pleats and a horsetail at the end.
"Is this my wedding outfit?" Ichigo asked. Isshin nodded.
"This is the formal robe that was traditionally worn by the head of the Shiba family. I left it in here when I was promoted to the Royal Guards. Kukaku told me that Kaien never bothered wearing it. I want you to wear this on the day of your wedding; you're the head of the Shiba clan now," he explained. Ichigo flinched back in surprise.
"No way! I don't want to be the head of the clan!" Ichigo protested. "I'm a Kurosaki, not a Shiba! Why don't you be the head of the clan again?" Isshin looked at Ichigo and sighed deeply. Something was different about his reaction this time.
"It was my fault that the Shiba clan fell from grace in the first place; I don't deserve to lead it again," he said. "I've been a failure as both a leader and a father. I abandoned Kukaku and Ganju to a life in Rukongai after Kaien's death, I decided to hide like a coward when the Royal Guard was after me, and I failed to prevent your mother's death. If I was a man of your conviction, none of the tragedies that befell us would have happened. You're a better person than I am Ichigo, so I put my complete faith in you." Ichigo was stunned at his father's praise. He had no idea that Isshin had so little regard for himself. He thought deeply for a moment, and realized just how much responsibility was now upon his shoulders. As the hero of the Heavenly War, the onus was upon him to initiate the great changes to Soul Society. In addition, the future of the Kuchiki and Shiba clans depended on him.
"Alright, dad, I'll accept your offer," Ichigo said. "If nothing else, this outfit's going to look quite impressive when the big day comes." Isshin started laughing.
"Ha, ha, you still have the entrepreneurial streak about you, Ichigo," he smiled. Ichigo took the robes out of the cupboard and followed Isshin back towards the gates of the manor…
"Ouch!" Rukia shouted as she her waist was squeezed by a red string.
"Keep still Rukia-chan," Matsumoto said. "I can't get accurate figures of your measurements if you keep fidgeting." The two of them were standing in Rukia's dressing room, inside the Kuchiki Manor grounds. The room itself had been converted into an impromptu meeting room, with a sign bearing the words "Shinigami Ladies Association" nailed to the front of the door.
"Alright ladies, let's all watch Matsumoto-san measure Rukia-san's measurements!" The president of the association, Yachiru exclaimed. Rukia blushed in embarrassment. She had seldom attended the association's meetings, not only due to her lowly ranking, but also because of her extended missions to the real world. But being her promotion as a vice captain and the subsequent news of her wedding to Ichigo made her the star of the association. She was keenly aware that the other ladies in the association were watching her, giggling and sharing gossip at the same time.
"Ooh, I'm so excited about Rukia's wedding!" Kiyone exclaimed. "She's getting married to the famous Kurosaki Ichigo...who's so good looking! I wonder what it feels like to get married!" She continued to giggle until her mouth was covered by Isane's hand.
"Don't say such things Kiyone!" Isane scolded her sister. "Think how Kuchiki-san will react if she hears those things!" Kiyone nodded embarrassingly.
"Listen up girls!" Nanao, who was the vice president of the association, stood up from her chair. "There's a lot that needs to be done before the big day! Rukia's wedding dress needs to be made; we need to decide who the bridesmaid is going to be, along with the flower girls. Matsumoto-san has volunteered to take Rukia's measurements and send them to Seireitei's premier tailor, so that's one task down. Who else wants to volunteer?" Only Kiyone, Hinamori and Mashiro put their hands up; both of them wanted to be the bridesmaid. Nanao looked at the other ladies in the room; Nemu, Isane, Lisa and Hiyori did not seem interested.
"Hey, aren't any of you girls excited at the prospect of being Rukia's number one girl?" Nanao asked. She turned towards the president, Yachiru, who was busy sucking on a lollipop. "Urgh, we're going to need a straw poll to decide this!"
"Why don't we just ask who Rukia wants to be her bridesmaid?" Hiyori asked. "Ultimately it's up to her." Lisa, Isane and Nemu agreed with her. Kiyone, Hinamori and Mashiro however, were not so happy. They all looked at Rukia, whose face now bright red. Matsumoto finished taking all of her measurements, allowing her to finally put her Shinigami robes back on. As she dressed herself, Rukia was well aware that everyone was waiting for her to make a choice. She was reluctant to do so. How can I choose between each of them? If I pick one of the girls, the others will be mad at me. Plus, I don't know any of them very well. She thought to herself for what seemed like an eternity, before a bright spark appeared in her head.
"It looks like Rukia has made her choice," Hinamori observed. The Shinigami women all waited intently for Rukia to speak. Rukia hesitated to speak out.
"Um, sorry girls, but I've already made up my mind," Rukia said. "My bridesmaid will be Inoue Orihime." The other girls all looked at her in shock, unable to comprehend what she was saying.
"I know I've probably hurt all of your feelings by doing this, but Inoue has been the closest thing to a real nakama for me, and if anyone deserves to be the bridesmaid, it would be her," Rukia said. "In return, all of you can be my flower girls."
As the women of the Shinigami Ladies Association argued amongst themselves about who the chief flower girl was going to be, a shadowy figure was observing them from a gap in the ceiling.
"At last, I've finally found her…my goddess!" Kon screamed out in ecstasy. He crashed through the glass and dropped down below, causing all of the women to shriek in surprise. Upon seeing Rukia's chest, Kon dive-bombed straight at it.
"NEE-SAN!!" he shouted. Just as he was about to plant his face in her chest, Rukia punched him to the ground and then stepped upon him.
"Kon! What are you doing here!" she shouted, still freaked out about what had just happened. She continued to press hard upon Kon's head.
"Ah yes, Nee-san's face feels so good," Kon said in delight. It was only after a few minutes that he noticed the other women were talking about him. Kon looked up, and saw Matsumoto standing in front of him, her amble bosoms highly visible. Kon salivated at the prospect of seeing them again.
"That uniform is a dangerous weapon, Nee-san!" he shouting, jumping at Matsumoto. Matsumoto grabbed him by the collar.
"Hmm, I remember seeing you before," Matsumoto pondered. "Rukia, wasn't this the stuffed animal that used to be in Ichigo's house?" Rukia nodded.
"We left him behind during in Ichigo's real body, but it died when Tokyo city was attacked. I presume he must have wandered around Seireitei all this time," Rukia said.
"He can continue wandering for as long as he likes. Can I throw him out Rukia?" To Kon's utter dismay, Rukia nodded with a grin.
"NOOO!" he screamed as Matsumoto heaved him out of the room.
Halfway across Seireitei, in a conference room within the chambers of the Central 46, ten of the Gotei 13 captains had gathered together to discuss plans for the rebirth of Soul Society, drinking coffee, tee and sake as they did so.
"Has everyone got a drink?" Commander General Unohana asked the nine other captains. "First things first, where have Captain Kurosaki, his father and Captain Tsukabishi gone to?"
"Kurosaki Ichigo and his father are currently at the Shiba family estate," Renji replied. There was a brief stir amongst the captains, for they all knew about the upcoming wedding. Unohana then asked for the whereabouts of Tessai. Soifon responded.
"Tessai went with my vice captain Yoruichi and Urahara to do something," she said. "They'll be back soon."
"Thank you for reminding me, Captain Soifon," Unohana said. "I was going to discuss Urahara Kisuke's future status." There was a brief moment of silence.
"Well, Urahara did play a key part in the war, and it was because of his strategies that we achieved victory," Kensei said.
"Plus, he remained loyal to Soul Society even after he was banished," Love pointed out. The Vizard captains all had a great deal of sympathy for Urahara.
"What are you people saying? There is no place for a person like him in our ranks!" Mayuri shouted. "Are you implying that he should take my rank?" The other captains shook their heads.
"There's also the matter that he went AWOL to Hueco Mundo and allowed Karakura Town to be destroyed on his watch," Hitsugaya said.
"He had good intentions for doing so," Soifon objected. "The former Commander Yamamoto entrusted him to protect the Royal Key at all costs, and he achieved that goal."
"I have an idea," Kenpachi suggested. The other captains raised their eye brows. "Now that Karakura Town's been restored, who's going to manage it? Right now it's packed with Rukongai citizens."
"That's an excellent question, Captain Zaraki," Unohana said. "The status of Karakura Town is another matter that we need to deal with." After she finished speaking, the room was silent for a few minutes. Then Byakuya spoke up.
"Why not give Urahara Kisuke special jurisdiction over Karakura Town?" he asked. "We could give him authority over the non Shinigami allies we used during the Heavenly War." The Vizard captains, Soifon, Renji and Kenpachi nodded enthusiastically, but Hitsugaya and Mayuri were skeptical.
"Okay, perhaps we should adjourn this meeting for now and hold it later when the other captains are also present," Unohana said. All of the captains nodded, and so the meeting was dismissed. They left the Central 46 chambers, with the most important thing on their minds the upcoming wedding between Ichigo and Rukia…
Five days later, the big day had arrived. Ichigo woke up in his division office and quickly changed into his noble robes. He briefly wondered where Rukia was, until he realized she had been at the Kuchiki manor for the past few days.
"Man, I can't wait to see Rukia's face," he smiled. After he finished dressing, he exited the office was greeted by four white robed servants carrying an enclosed chair.
"Please step on Captain Kurosaki. We shall carry you to the Royal Sacred Spirit Shrine," one of the servants said. Ichigo nodded and got into the chair. After a rather uncomfortable hour of being carried around, Ichigo arrived at the front gate of the shrine. As soon as he stepped out he was greeted by literally thousands of people. Almost all of the Shinigami in the Gotei 13, the remaining nobles in Seireitei, and a large number of Rukongai folk had flooded the mile wide open area in front of the royal shrine. Ichigo was stunned at the reception he was getting. Numerous people screamed out Ichigo's name and called him 'Hero of Soul Society'. One girl even shouted out "Marry me!" to Ichigo. Fortunately for him, he was directed through the front gates and into the ground surrounding the shrine itself.
The shrine proper was an awe inspiring piece of architecture. A gigantic circular pavilion nearly five hundred yards in diameter, its roof was made out of tiles that were sparkling with pure gold. The walls of the pavilion were marble white in colour, with numerous pillars holding the structure up. A flight of ten broad steps led a thirty foot high arched entrance, and perched at the bottom of the steps were a set of four guardian dog statues. Ichigo stopped admiring at the shrine when he saw that all of his friends had gathered. The twelve other captains were all present, dressed in their ceremonial robes, which all patterns bearing their division flowers. They were accompanied by their vice captains, who also had ceremonial outfits on. In addition, Ishida, Sado, Urahara and his former friends from Karakura Town were also present, dressed in kimonos and yukatas.
"Ichigo!" Isshin shouted, running up his son. "Thank god you're here at last. We've been waiting ages for you to show up."
"Sorry dad," Ichigo rubbed his hair. "Where's Rukia? Is she still getting dressed?"
"Yeah. Even Byakuya hasn't seen what she's going to look like."
"Is that so? Well, I guess I'll have to wait for then," Ichigo smiled. He walked up the steps of the shrine, and saw Renji, who was wearing a pair of sleek sunglasses and a red bandana on top of his ceremonial kimono.
"Hey, Ichigo, how's it checking?" Renji asked in an attempt at Kansai dialect.
"Cut with the fake accent Renji," Ichigo said.
"Hey, you asked me to be the best man. I was only trying to chill with ya," Renji patted Ichigo on the shoulder. Ichigo smiled and gave Renji a light punch to the forehead. As he walked up the steps, he heard voices coming from behind.
"Kurosaki-kun!" Orihime shouted.
"Nii-san!" Karin and Yuzu followed from behind. The three of them, along with Ishida, Sado and Tatsuki, caught up with Ichigo.
"Karin, Yuzu!" Ichigo exclaimed as his sisters hugged him.
"We've missed you Ichigo!" Yuzu started crying. Ichigo patted her on the head.
"I know. It's been hard on the two of you when we off fighting. But I promise now that I'll take good care of you," Ichigo said. He looked up and saw Orihime holding hands with Ishida, and Tatsuki standing alongside Sado.
"What's happened with you guys? It seems like you've gotten close to one another."
"Right on the jackpot," Ishida said with a sly voice, pushing up his glasses. "With you and Rukia getting together it was only natural that Inoue would turn to me."
"Ishida-kun's treated me very well since I got back from the King's realm," Orihime said with a happy voice.
"That's good to know," Ichigo said. He looked at Sado and Tatsuki. "Are the two of you involved with each other the same way?" Tatsuki shrugged her shoulders.
"We're not really that close to each other," Tatsuki said. "I'm still getting used to being dead, and Sado's a shy person, so for the moment we're just friends."
"Don't worry about it. I'm sure the two of you will be fine," Ichigo said. He left his friends and sisters for the moment and continued walking up the stairs. As he got to the front entrance of the shrine, he was greeted by two faces he didn't expect to see.
"Aren't you supposed to be the King's Realm?" he asked, as he saw the faces of Susanoo and Tsukuyomi standing in front of him. They were dressed in elaborate royal kimonos.
"We've all come down from the King's Realm to officiate this wedding," Susanoo replied. "My father is presiding over the ceremony."
"The King himself has come down?" Ichigo asked in shock. He had no idea that the occasion was so important. Before he could ask any more questions, he heard a blast of trumpets at the front of the gates. He turned around and froze in awe. A majestic white rectangular seat was carried by eight white robed servants through the gates of the shine. As the seat came in, it was flanked by eight female Shinigami officers dressed in pink, purple and red yukatas, carrying Sakura bouquets. As Renji, Isshin and Byakuya stood right beside Ichigo, with the remaining captains lining up behind them; they watched the seat move slowly up the flight of steps.
It finally reached the top, a few feet in front of Ichigo. The eight servants half-lowered the seat to the ground. Then from out of the seat, she emerged. Dressed in a pure white kimono with a hood over her face, Rukia resembled a stunning goddess. Her face, whitened with make-up, drew out her inner beauty. Her hair was bunched up two bright hair clips, and her eye lids were painted pink and extended outwards. Rukia directed her eyes towards Ichigo, her sheer joy at being together him with evident in her facial expression, even with the make up on.
"Rukia, you look so beautiful," Ichigo smiled.
"You look handsome yourself Ichigo," Rukia smiled back. The two of them held hands as they walked through the entrance. The interior of the shrine was a vast chamber, with black ceramic tiles covered with golden carpet running down the middle. Black pillars spaced in even rows and columns held up the interior dome. On both sides of the carpet were more than fifty rows of seats, upon which hundreds of invited guests and officials were already sitting. At the other end of the shrine was the main altar. It was rectangular in shape, ten foot long and made of white marble. Upon the wall in front of the altar was a giant ying-yang symbol, surrounded by a circle symbolizing the golden sun. Standing behind the altar was Izanagi himself, wearing his imperial robes, gold in colour with green dragons embossed upon it. He also wore a red crown with a golden jewel at the centre upon his head. Alongside him were all sixteen current royal guards, with eight on both sides. Ichigo and Rukia calmly walked up to the front of the altar, with Renji and Orihime directly behind them, followed by Isshin and Byakuya. Ichigo's sisters and Kukaku and Ganju formed the Shiba family delegation, whilst four relatives of Byakuya formed the Kuchiki family delegation.The king ordered Ichigo and Rukia to kneel down on the cushions in front of the altar.
"Are the two of you ready to begin the ceremony?" Izanagi asked. Ichigo and Rukia nodded solemnly. A gong was sounded, starting the formal wedding. Izanagi ordered the family members to stand facing each other, as he brought out an ornate scroll.
"Kurosaki Ichigo," Izanagi began. "Do you swear to serve as a loving and loyal husband to your beloved, Kuchiki Rukia, for as long as your souls are in existence?"
"I do," Ichigo nodded. Izanagi then turned to Rukia.
"Kuchiki Rukia, do you swear to be a dutiful and faithful wife to Kurosaki Ichigo for as long as your souls are in existence?"
"I do," Rukia nodded. Throughout the entire process, neither Ichigo nor Rukia looked at each other, but stared at Izanagi instead.
"You may now exchange the betrothal gifts," Izanagi ordered. At last, the moment had come for Ichigo to reveal the gift Byakuya had given him. He took out a small red box from his inner robes and opened it, revealing a diamond encrusted golden ring, engraved with the Kuchiki family symbol.
"Rukia, your brother wanted you to wear this," Ichigo said. Rukia was taken aback. Byakuya had showed the ring to her a few times, but she had no idea he had planned on giving it to her. She could barely contain her joy as Ichigo slipped it on her index finger.
"Thank you so much Ichigo. Now it is my turn," Rukia said. She pulled from her undergarments a two foot long black scarf, embossed with the Shiba family logo.
"This is the ultimate heirloom of the Shiba family. Your father asked me to keep it with me until today," she said as she placed the scarf around Ichigo's shoulders. After the exchanging of gifts was done, Izanagi allowed Ichigo and Rukia to kiss briefly. Then they were ordered to kneel upon the cushions as eight Miko maidens, all members of the Shinigami Women's Association, walked by with various cups and jugs of sake. Ichigo and Rukia were each handed three cups of different sizes. Ichigo took three sips from the smallest cup, and watched as Rukia did the same. They repeated the process with the other two cups. After that, family members on both sides were given cups of sake, which they drank whilst they faced each other.
When everyone had finished drinking, Izanagi ordered Ichigo and Rukia to come with him. They walked through a set of doors behind the altar and arrived at a quiet garden with a beautiful Sakaki tree. Ichigo and Rukia took a few twigs and walked up to another large altar where they placed them within another ying-yang symbol. As they finished doing so, they noticed that Izanagi and the sixteen royal guards had surrounded them. Ichigo and Rukia watched in awe as the bodies of the royal guards and the king himself turned ethereal and slowly rose up into the sky. Then under the glare of the sun another luminous shape appeared. A few seconds later the shape resolved into the serene figure of Princess Amaterasu. Amaterasu extended her hands, casting rays of light over Ichigo and Rukia's head.
"May the two of you be blessed for eternity," she smiled. As the rays of light faded, Ichigo and Rukia looked up and saw Amaterasu, Izanagi and the royal guards ascend into the sky above. Within a few seconds they disappeared.
"Wow, that was some spectacle," Ichigo said.
"It still feels like a dream to me," Rukia said. She turned and looked at Ichigo.
"I'm happy for this dream to last as long as possible," Ichigo smiled. The two of them embraced each other in a throe of passion, feeling each other's happiness. A few minutes later, they emerged from the altar again, and were taken aback by a chorus of applauses and cheers. All of their families, friends and acquaintances were filled with joy that the two of them were at last married.
"You did it Ichigo!" Isshin was actually crying. "My son has finally become a man! I'm so happy!" Ichigo gawked in surprise.
"Nii-sama…" Rukia tried to speak to Byakuya, but he placed his hands on her shoulders.
"You don't need to call me Nii-sama anymore," Byakuya smiled. "From now on, call me by my real name." After Ichigo and Rukia slowly navigated their way out of the shrine, flanked by their friends and family, they stopped in their tracks as they saw the thousands of people lining the streets around the shrine, desperate to get a glimpse of the newlyweds. From this high up, Ichigo finally got the sense of how much his influence had spread over Soul Society.
Several hours later, Ichigo and Rukia, their family, nakama and fellow comrades of the Gotei 13, arrived at Seireitei's premier tea house. Over two hundred guests had been invited. Ichigo, Rukia, Isshin and Byakuya sat in the central table. Karin, Yuzu, Kukaku, Ganju, and the Kuchikis sat together in tables on either side. Renji, Orihime, Ishida, Sado, Tatsuki and Yoruichi, Urahara and Tessai sat in the next nearest tables. The rest of the Gotei 13 officers, along with Ichigo's former Karakura Town friends, sat randomly in the other tables.
A full course meal was served, cooked by the finest chefs in Soul Society. The meals and the party continued on through the night, with karaoke singing, dancing, musical skits, and Rukia showing off nearly a dozen different kimonos. Finally, after a lot of partying and sake, the guests finally started streaming out of the tea house. Ichigo and Rukia walked alongside their nakama.
"So Ichigo, are you and Rukia planning on going anywhere for your honeymoon?" Ishida asked. His question took Rukia by surprise.
"What? You've got to be kidding me!" Rukia exclaimed. "We have to get back to our divisions as quickly as possible.
"Don't worry about it. We have all the time in the world," Ichigo smiled.
At last, Bleach After the War has come to an end. This final chapter took me a long time to write, not due to writer's block, but also other commitments. It's been a long journey of more than 5 months, but I've finally completed this story. I thank everyone who has followed my story since it began and special thanks to those who have sent in reviews. Your contributions were most welcome.
I'll take a break from writing a for a while, but I do plan on writing sequels to this story, so be on a look out for them!