The last chapter of the story. Thank you so much to everyone who has followed it the whole way through and reviewed. Also, to those who have favourited it I would very much like to hear your opinions on the fanfiction too! :D Please check out my other stuff if you enjoyed this one! See ya!

Bleach 550: Sad to Say Goodbye

Out on the battlefield, Ikkaku slammed his zanpaktou straight through the head of a Hollow, the monster crying out before vanishing into the air. Something suddenly caught his eye and he looked up at Las Noches, towering over them, the roof crumbling in, a purple light erupting up through the ceiling, cracks running down the colossal white stone.

'Hey, hey, Yumichika!' he said, tapping the narcissist on the arm, the man flicking some hair from his face.

'Hmm? Do you think it's over?' he said, his eyes lighting up with the light. Vice Captain Rangiku Matsumoto leapt down from a rock, shaking herself off after throwing a few enemies to the ground. Her eyes sparkled as she watched the towers fall to the ground sending massive waves of dust and sand rolling across the desert.

'Captain…' she whispered, Hisagi standing beside her, narrowing his eyes as his hair blew in the wind.

'Did we win?' he said softly, eyeing the building, Kira leaping down beside him, shaking his head.

'I suppose so.' he sighed, sheathing his sword after flicking the blood from it's tip.

Inside the fortress, the entire room was caving in, the Captains hitting away the chunks of rock that fell from whatever was left of the ceiling.

'Tch, Hueco Mundo is defusing from Seireitei!' Urahara spat, looking around anxiously. Bounding atop a small structure, Shinji looked out over the war zone, grimacing.

'There's still a ton of Arrancar out there.' he shrugged. 'I guess we could try to make it across but with all these casualties…' he began but suddenly someone came crashing down next to him, their foot smashing through the rubble.

'Then we shall move them.' growled Captain Komamura, the man's golden eyes scouring the ground below. 'Bankai! Kokujo Tenken Myo'o!' he roared, holding his sword above his head as he was engulfed by a fiery red aura, the enormous, gigantic shogun warrior rising up from behind the palace in which they stood.

For every man there is a cause which he will gladly die for

On the ground, Arrancar turned and began to run in fear as the giant brought his blade down with an almighty crash sending wave after wave of enemy flying into the abyss.

'Bankai. Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.' came a cold voice and Byakuya raised his hand, the towering blades behind him shattering into millions of beautiful pink shards.

Defend the right to have a place to which he can belong to

With a flick of his wrist, the petals had wrapped themselves around Komamura's Bankai's sword, increasing his attack. With a roar, Sajin struck again, this time the petals shooting out in a wide explosion of pink light, the Arrancar being devastated as they were cut down.

'Some are still dodging!' Shinji cried out but someone swept past him, flying out into the sky.

'…Daiguren Hyourinmaru!' came the whispery voice of Toshiro as he spiralled around in the sky, his silhouette like that of an icy dragon.

And every man that fights with his bare hands in desperation

As he swung his sword, the enemies on the ground became frozen to the spot. As Komamura began to lift his blade once more, someone darted up the side of the wall before flipping over the top of the ceiling's rim, aiming a massive missile down at the frozen enemies.

'I think it's my turn, Jakuho Raikoben!' Soi Fon sneered before blasting the ferocious warhead down at the powerless creatures who could only watch as their demise rocketed towards them before finishing them off with a brilliant explosion of orange, sending plumes of sand leaping up into the sky.

And shed his blood to stem the flood, to barricade invasion

'Wow…' Ichigo laughed, watching the Captain's decimating the enemy. Someone grabbed his shoulder and he turned, Shunsui standing beside him.

'It's a very pretty display alright, but it's time to go.' he smiled, tipping his hat. Ichigo nodded in agreement, the Captain's pushing forwards, Komamura pouncing from the fortress and landing on the ground, his Bankai aiding him from behind. Following fast were the Vizard, each one speeding along the desert, heading towards Seireitei, Mayuri Kurotsuchi and Urahara close behind. Next, Toshiro flew overhead, freezing anyone he could, Yoruichi and Soi Fon flitting along, taking any Arrancar out that they stumbled upon, Kenpachi exploding across, Ichimaru under his arm. Then, there was a terrible splitting sound and everyone looked up, the sky ripping apart, Hueco Mundo disappearing from Seireitei.

'It's defusing!' Yamamoto roared, ushering Ichigo and his friends along, Shunsui and Ukitake staying back to help him fend off the wayward debris. Unohana summoned her shikai and helped Rukia onto it, ready to take off. However she was stopped as someone coughed nearby, standing beside the manta ray.

'Lady Unohana…' Byakuya said softly, looking at Rukia. '…may I also come along?'

Simply beaming at him, Kuchiki knew the answer and he clambered on next to the girl, his scarf blowing out behind him. Looking out at the sunset that was now vanishing behind the towers of Seireitei, Ichigo grinned to himself, Orihime watching with him, Uryuu, Chad and Renji by his side.

'Thanks, everyone.' Ichigo smiled softly.

'Told you we wouldn't go.' Renji chuckled. Nodding, Ichigo leapt from the building, Inoue under his arm, a grin on his face as he clutched his zanpaktou in his other hand, zipping across to the Seireitei with the others, Hueco Mundo disappearing from sight in the vast purple glow, the sky sealing itself back together again with an almighty crash, the moon of the Hollow world disappearing, replaced with the sun of the Soul Society once again at last.

Everyone was back in the Seireitei once again and squads were already rebuilding. The fires had long been extinguished and the towers were being patched up, rebuilt, remade, redone…everything was being overhauled.

'Phew…don't think the place has ever looked this good.' Shunsui chuckled.

'You wouldn't believe we'd just been in a war.' Ukitake said sheepishly. Shrugging Kyoraku turned away, shielding his eyes from the sun's glare.

'I suppose it's just motivated everyone.' he suggested.

'Where's Sensei?' Ukitake asked, looking around. Shunsui chuckled, relaxing in the heat.

'Heh, I think he is trying to win over Hirako and the others.' he said, opening one eye.

'Good luck to him.' Ukitake chuckled slightly, shaking his head. Nodding in agreement, Shunsui turned, striding away, the other man following him.

'My, my…it certainly has been explosive hasn't it? Fancy a drink?'

Inside the Captain's Hall, Yamamoto stood, the Vizard's in a semi-circle in front of him, Shinji grinning broadly.

'I cannot thank you enough for your help. You were an asset to the battle. I know you probably only did it for personal reasons, however we are still grateful.' he said, bowing. Shinji rolled his eyes and chuckled.

'Hey, I'm not asking for an apology or any reward. Aizen is dead. That's reward enough for me…' he said bitterly, looking aside.

'I see…' Yamamoto sighed deeply. 'This is highly unorthodox but…would you consider becoming a part of the Gotei 13 again?'

Shocked at his proposal, they turned, looking at one another before looking back at the old man.

'Count 'em up, there's not enough Captain spaces. Aizen, Tosen, Gin…' Shinji went on, counting on his fingers.

'Myself and Captain Ukitake will also be retiring. That makes five, enough for those of you who were Captains.'

Kicking the ground, Hirako looked up at the ceiling.

'What do you guys say?' he asked simply. The others shrugged, showing a massive lack of enthusiasm. 'Yeah, I think the same.' Shinji smiled, spinning back round to the old man. 'Sorry, but we're happy on Earth for now.' he pointed out, Yamamoto nodding.

'I expected as much. Very well, if you ever reconsider, please do not hesitate.' he said, before bowing to them once more.

Outside, Urahara and Yoruichi were relaxing within the 2nd Division, Soi Fon sitting with them, Omaeda standing guard by the door.

'Oh man…who the hell are these guys? And how the hell is Captain Soi Fon here? Damn I'm gonna get hurt for this…' he thought to himself, sweating, eyeing Yoruichi and Urahara.

'Yoruichi-sama…thank you for your help…' the Captain began, turning and looking at Urahara, the man purposefully looking like he wasn't interested. '…you as well, Urahara.' she sighed.

'Ha! It was nothing, Soi Fon.' he chuckled, Yoruichi grinning cheekily.

'Oh boy…look at the way they make fun of the Captain…no one makes fun of her, not even me! I'm so gonna get hurt at the end of this…' Omaeda whined to himself in his mind, sweating still. Soi Fon gripped her cup tight, shattering the handle under her brimming anger.

'Oh, you okay there?' Urahara asked, lending a helping hand.

'OMAEDA!!!!' Soi Fon shrieked, pointing to the broken cup. However, the man didn't move, instead, he simply fainted, crashing onto the ground with a mighty thud.

'Oh dear…what's wrong with him?' Kisuke said, confused. Yoruichi tapped him on the shoulder, Urahara turning round to her.

'Do you think they will let us be reinstated?' she asked, Urahara shrugging, sighing heavily, sitting forwards with his shoulders hunched over.

'I don't know, I don't see why not. Personally I wouldn't mind staying on Earth but you know, I do miss Seireitei…' he said softly.

Under the sun, Komamura stood atop a grassy hill, two graves in front of him, one marked Kaname Tosen, Captain of the 9th Division. Smiling to himself, the proud Captain looked up into the sky, the gentle wind blowing his haori.

'He did the right thing in the end.' came a voice and Komamura turned, Hisagi standing behind him, an awkward smile on his face.

'Yes…he did.' Sajin whispered, turning away, Shuhei stepping up next to him in front of the grave.

'We brought him back, Captain Komamura.' the lieutenant smiled.

'Yes. Together, we opened his eyes.' the Shinigami said, placing a hand upon the man's shoulder.

Toshiro sat on his chair, fast asleep. In the doorway to his room, Matsumoto and Hinamori giggled to one another, peering in.

'Captain…' Matsumoto whistled. Toshiro moved slightly. She called him again, the boy shuffling in his sleep whenever his name was called.

'Shiro-chan…' Hinamori whispered and the Shinigami leapt out of his sleep, falling from his chair in the process, the two women laughing to themselves.

'Matsumoto!' Hitsugaya cried, popping up from his desk, a vein throbbing on his forehead. She was still in hysterics, Hinamori slowing to a stop.

'How are you doing, Toshiro?' she asked bashfully.

'Still recovering, you Hinamori?' he replied grumpily, ruffling his hair.

'Well, we've been back not even a day. But I guess I'm doing well…' she smiled weakly.

'Captain…' Rangiku whispered suddenly. The boy looked up at her, narrowing his eyes. '…what did they do with…him?'

'If it's who I think you meant…' Toshiro said, thinking, closing his eyes and scratching his head.

'Soooo…they decided not to execute you? How wonderful. You'll make an interesting specimen.' Mayuri had grinned with glee, rubbing his hands together, Ichimaru locked up in a cell, the scientist grinning broadly.

'This isn't what I had expected at all…' Gin sighed, resting his chin on his palm.

'Yes, it isn't. It must be so humiliating for you.' the vile Captain smiled sickly, his golden teeth sparkling in the light of the day. 'Well what say you to getting the experiments started hmm? The more we can get done in a day the better! I'd like to take apart that zanpaktou of yours as well…just to see how it ticks!' Mayuri said, waving him off as he waltzed out of the prison, Gin hanging his head.

'Oh no…' he groaned.

'I see.' Matsumoto said, he face shadowed as she looked out of the window, her face distant.

'Are you okay, Matsumoto?' asked Toshiro, unsure. The woman didn't turn, instead she simply smiled to herself.

'You know what? I feel fine.' she said, beaming out at the blue sky above the Soul Society.

They both sat in their manor, Byakuya sitting still, Rukia silently lying on a bed, wrapped up and toasty in a thick, white blanket.

'You are doing well, Rukia?' the Captain asked, his scarf flapping in the wind.

'Yes, thank you.' she said, smiling meekly. A small smile appeared at the corners of Byakuya's mouth as he got up and glided over to the picture of Hisana upon the mantelpiece.

'I did it, Hisana.' he thought to himself, his long black hair blowing gently. 'She's safe…she always will be.' he said, his eyes flicking over to the girl in bed. 'I love you…Hisana.' he said, closing his eyes before straightening up and sweeping elegantly over to the bed.

'Nii-sama…' spluttered Rukia, Byakuya turning his head slightly. 'Is Ichigo leaving yet?'

'Soon.' he replied bluntly. Closing her eyes and breathing heavily, Rukia nodded.

'Then I would like to go and say goodbye for now.' she decided.

'No. You will rest.' Byakuya said firmly, standing up from the bed. Someone latched onto his hand as he stood and he gazed into the girl's eyes, Rukia sitting up in her bed, a weary look on her face.

'Nii-sama…' she whispered and Byakuya turned swiftly, marching out of the door, Rukia sighing.

The day was becoming old and the sun was waning in the orange sky, Ichigo, Orihime, Chad and Uryuu standing in front of a large Senkaimon, the Captains and their lieutenants standing beside them, others like Ikkaku and Yumichika there also. Next to Ichigo stood the Vizards as well as Kisuke and Yoruichi.

'You are all going back to Karakura?' Yamamoto asked. Nodding, Ichigo grinned broadly.

'I'm afraid so…however, we will pop in from time to time.' smiled Urahara from underneath his green and white hat.

'You are welcome.' Ukitake beamed, his white hair blowing in the wind. Kyoraku placed his hand on Hirako's shoulder, chuckling slightly.

'Thanks for the help, Shinji. It's much appreciated.' he grinned but the man removed his hand, looking up into the sky.

'Don't go soppy on me, Kyoraku. We just…' he said, closing his eyes, a vision of Aizen in his lieutenant's outfit appearing in his mind. '…did what had to be done.'

'Take the praise as it comes, Shinji!' Love exclaimed, slapping the Vizard on the back.

'Yeah, we don't want any hard feelings.' Rose said gracefully, resting his hand upon his forehead.

'Here, here!' Mashiro squealed, Kensei smacking her on the head.

'Ah shut it.' he moaned, the girl leaping up, her cheeks read, her hands clenched into a fist.

'Kensei you…!' she snarled, ramming her fist into his privates, the man doubling over.

'Damn it, Mashiro!' he choked, Hachigen and Lisa chuckling behind them. Hearing this, Shunsui looked behind Shinji, his gaze settling upon Lisa.

'Are you sure you don't want to come back?' he asked simply, the girl shaking her head almost immediately.

'No, I…believe that someone superior to me has taken my place. And fittingly so.' she smiled at the man, Shunsui bowing to her before tipping his hat.

'Kurosaki.' Yamamoto boomed, everyone turning to look at him. 'We have managed to return your sister to her house and erased her memory. Also, a burial has been arranged for your father.' he announced, Ichigo looking away, the wind picking up. 'He will be laid to rest beside his wife.' Yamamoto smiled softly, Ichigo's face lighting up.

'You hear that, Kurosaki-kun?' Orihime said gleefully, the boy nodding, a smile on his face as the wind blew through his hair.

'We are in your debt Ichigo.' Komamura said, bowing. 'Were it not for you, Seireitei…and us altogether would no longer be here.' And with that, every Shinigami around them bowed, lowering their heads to the boy who stood, his kimono billowing around him, Zangetsu strapped to his back.

'Whoa, I wasn't expecting this. Well, should ya need me, just give me a call!' he said, waving them off before turning to the Senkaimon when he heard another voice.

'Forgetting someone, Ichigo?' came Byakuya's cold voice and the boy turned, the Captain swooping down upon the ground, Rukia lying in his arms.

'Miss Kuchiki!' Uryuu said happily, Ichigo stepping forwards.

'Are you alright, Rukia?' he asked, the girl smiling sweetly. Nodding she looked up to her brother.

'Thanks to Nii-sama I was able to see you. Don't give up on being a Soul Reaper Ichigo. You've helped us all.' she piped up, her voice still weak. Ruffling her hair, the boy grinned, giving her a thumbs up.

'Don't worry Rukia! I'll always be waiting if you need me!' he said cheerily, the girl's smile sinking.

'That was lame…'

'What!? I get soppy for a minute and it's lame!?' he said, clenching his hand into a fist when the girl spoke again.

'So…what will you do now…Ichigo?' she asked, the boy sighing, his eyes still jet black and yellow.

'There's something I've gotta finish…' he said solemnly, the others waving to the Shinigami before entering the Senkaimon and vanishing from sight in a brilliant flash of light.

'Whatever it is Ichigo, don't give up. No matter what.' she grinned at him, her eyes sparkling, the boy smiling back before turning and diving into the light, his hand on his sword's hilt, the Shinigami watching him through the doorway as it closed shut on Soul Society in a flash.

Landing heavily in Karakura Town, Ichigo said goodbye to everyone until it was just himself and Orihime standing in the street. As he was about to turn and leave, the girl spoke up, her hands clutched against her chest.

'Kurosaki-kun…whatever it is…that you need to do…please be safe. I know it most likely has something to do with your Inner Hollow…so please…I don't want Kurosaki-kun to die…' she said, beginning to sob uncontrollably into her hands, rain beginning to fall from the darkened sky.

'Inoue…' Ichigo said quietly, the girl looking up, tears mixing with the rain.

'I've never had the courage to tell you Ichigo…I…' she said, muffled by her cries. Ichigo narrowed his eyes, stepping towards her. '…I want you to be safe so that we can be friends forever.' she said finally, the sound of her crying ebbing away. Smiling at her, Ichigo suddenly hugged her tight, the girl resting easily as the rain crashed down upon them.

'I couldn't tell him…I don't want to ruin things as they are…' Orihime smiled to herself, thinking. '…yeah…everything is definitely better this way. I feel like I've gotten to know Kurosaki…and everyone much deeper throughout this whole war. Thank you…Ichigo.' she thought before breaking away from the boy and smiling into his eyes, Ichigo's bright orange hair matted to his forehead.

'Come on, get home. You'll catch a cold.' Ichigo chuckled meekly, Orihime nodding. Waving to him, she scurried home, a larger smile on her face than ever before. Grinning, Kurosaki turned to his house.

'Going somewhere…Kurosaki Ichigo?' came a menacing growl and Ichigo's eyes widened. Standing a few feet down the road was Grimmjow, his hands in his pockets, his blue hair sopping wet, a large, toothy grin on his face.

'Grimmjow…' Ichigo whispered.

'You owe me a battle Ichigo.' the Espada sneered, reaching for his sword. Nodding, the boy did the same.

'Yeah, I do.' smiling, he looked up at the Arrancar. 'You were a real help y'know. Thanks for everything, sticking by me and all. You didn't have to do that.'

Shrugging, Grimmjow simply looked away.

'I did what I wanted in the end.' he remarked lightly. 'Besides, I couldn't take that bastard anymore than you could.' Clutching his hilt, he turned, the same maniacal grin on his face as ever. 'But, that's been and gone! Let's do this, Ichigo!' he roared, vanishing and reappearing in front of the boy. Suddenly, as the Shinigami raised his blade, Grimmjow's arm exploded, turning to dust before their very eyes. Cursing, the Hollow lowered his zanpaktou, his legs beginning to disappear also.

'What's going on?' Ichigo wondered, Grimmjow sighing.

'Shit. I'm through.'

'Huh!?' Ichigo spluttered dumbly.

'Don't you get it you dumbass. Las Noches was destroyed. I'm finished, just like every other Arrancar. I was just getting into it as well…' he sighed as his Hollow mask shattered, exploding from his face as his body began to crumble away before Ichigo's very eyes.

'No.' the boy said suddenly, Grimmjow looking up at him. 'You don't deserve this. You may have been evil, but you made up for it in more ways than anyone could have. You will not die, Grimmjow Jaggerjack.' Ichigo said bluntly and, in a sudden movement, he rammed his zanpaktou hilt into the Espada's forehead, the crumbling body replaced with a shimmering blue glow.

'W…what the hell?' Grimmjow stammered, looking around as he was engulfed by the sparkles.

'I'm sending you to Soul Society. You are no longer Hollow, Grimmjow. There, we will battle. And we can keep battling if you like.' Ichigo smiled. 'It's the least I can do.'

Looking down Grimmjow broke out into a crazed laugh before coming to a stop, grinning.

'Thanks, Ichigo. I know you got some business to take care of. So do this…beat the living crap out of your Hollow and come back to Soul Society…alive!' the Espada cried as only his face remained in the light, his eyes burning blue.

'Don't worry, I'm coming back.' Ichigo said finally as Grimmjow disappeared into the sky in front of the Shinigami, the last blue sparkle floating downwards.

'Later, Grimmjow.' he said, the rain thrashing down now and Ichigo made his way back to his house.

Inside, he set down his zanpaktou and closed his eyes, leaning back on his bed. Leaning over to his beside table, Ichigo grabbed for a pen and began scribbling a note. Throwing the pen down, he slouched back onto his pillow. His mind was racing, images of the battles he fought flashing through his head. Suddenly, they all spiralled into one, into the middle as Hichigo's face appeared in front of him, a wide grin on his face, his dark eyes boring into Ichigo's own.

'Hey there champ, good to see you made it back in one piece!' he giggled, Ichigo smiling at him.

'It sure feels good too.' Ichigo remarked, now standing in the sideways world, the clouds drifting past as he feet touched the windows. They were silent for a moment, Ichigo staring straight forwards.

'Hey, thanks for helping me out.' said the Shinigami finally, Hichigo making a disgusted sound.

'Whatever. I couldn't care less about any of that. You remember our deal, don't ya?' Hichigo grinned insanely, his eyes widening.

'Don't think that's it…once the fight is done…if you survive, you must battle me properly…to the very end.' Hichigo went on, Ichigo gasping.

'I can't! My friends…!' Ichigo cried but Hichigo roared, interrupting him.

'Then you do not care! You will not obtain this power and you will be killed, is that what you want Ichigo!?' Hichigo snapped, almost beginning to sound like a teacher to Ichigo.

'I…I…don't understand…' stammered the boy, looking at the sword in his hand.

'You will fight with me and your real body will remain in a coma until the final result! To everyone you will be nothing but a worthless, empty shell until the victor is decided and you win…' Hichigo said darkly, narrowing his eyes. '…or you die. In which case I think you know what happens…Ichigo.'

'Of course I remember.' Ichigo said, his eyes glowing bright, the darkness fading from them. Closing them, he thought deeply for a moment, gripping Zangetsu tightly within his hands.

'Everyone listen close…if I don't make it out of here, then live your lives to the full. Move on. You were all such an amazing help in the war, but now I fight this battle alone. Good bye. Please, keep living…everyone.' he thought to himself before opening his eyes, Hichigo cracking his knuckles and sniggering.

'Ready? I won't hold back.' Hichigo grinned broadly, an aura of power roaring up behind him, exploding around him, Ichigo following suit.

'Don't worry, I wasn't planning on doing.' he cried and he leapt at the Hollow, the two of them unleashing Bankai at the same instant, massive, colossal waves of black and white light erupting around them as they locked blades, shattering the glass around them.

The next morning, Orihime, Uryuu and Chad were outside Ichigo's, knocking on the door rapidly. Yuzu opened it, looking up at them, aloft at the their sudden arrival.

'Um…hello?' she said softly.

'Can we see Kurosaki?' Uryuu said, rearranging his glasses, a flash of light shooting over them, obscuring his eyes. Yuzu immediately moved aside, dashing back into the other room as the three of them made their way up the stairs.

'Ichi-!' Orihime cried as she opened his door but she stopped. The curtains hadn't been opened and the lights were still off. Ichigo was in his bed, his eyes closed still, his Hollow mask slowly beginning to form across his face. Cursing, Uryuu turned away, but Chad discovered the note, holding it up.

'Look at this. Ichigo has left this for us.' he said simply, opening it with his giant hands.

'It says that he has gone to settle things once and for all. However, should the mask cover his face entirely…' Uryuu read, his eyes skimming the paper. '…we need to kill him!?' he choked, screwing it up. 'How can he ask something like that of us!?'

'No…Ishida…' Orihime said quietly, looking out of the window. '…it's not that. We shouldn't expect to have to do it. We need to believe he will come back…one day…' she said dreamily before making her way out of the door. The other two left in front of her and the girl turned swiftly, looking back at the boy. This time, she laid her hand upon his and kissed him gently before lifting her head up.

'I'll come back everyday until that mask is gone, Kurosaki-kun.' she whispered before leaving too, closing the door behind her.

One year later, Inoue strolled past the Kurosaki Clinic and suddenly caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. Looking up, she saw something fluttering in the sky.

'Is that…curtains?' she said to herself, watching as they flapped vigorously out of a bedroom window. Thinking nothing of it, she made her way to school, looking forward to visiting Ichigo again afterwards.

THE END