Chapter 7 - The End

"Human?" she repeated, her voice trembling as she spoke, "How… is that even possible?"

Around them captains from each division gazed on, deeply interested in the events taking place before them. The elderly man sighed, taking a seat before them, "You of all people, looking around at your friends, should know that anything is possible."

At his words her gaze drifted over to the orange-haired Shinigami who had insisted he get to stand by her side… the human Shinigami. The human Shinigami who, just before they arrived in Soul Society, promised her that anything they face from here on out - they would face together. He in turn looked back at her. He must have known she was worried, because at that moment he reached down to take her hand in his, squeezing it gently.

"We cannot find any other way of possibly thanking you enough," Yamamoto went on, bowing his head as he spoke, "After it was discovered that Aizen had risen again, we knew that Soul Society would once more depend on Kurosaki Ichigo. We needed you, Miss Kuchiki, to help him become the man he once was. You did an outstanding job – and we are forever in your debt."

She closed her eyes and bowed her head towards the floor, "How would this work?" her voice was a little steadier now.

"A simple incantation – a kido – will allow you to resurrect as a normal Ryoka. You will be placed under temporary sleep, during that time you will be transformed. Then when you wake up… you will be human."

At that moment the man at her side spoke up, "'Temporary sleep'? How can we be sure you're not still trying to execute her? How can I—"

This time she gave his hand a reassuring squeeze, stopping him mid-sentence. Her worried friend backed down with an aggravated sigh, and she could tell in his eyes; he was scared.

The elderly man seemed to almost smile at this sight, "Kurosaki Ichigo, we have no intention of harming Miss Kuchiki, and even if that were not the case… do you think that, after seeing what you are capable of, we would ever want to give you a reason to become an enemy of Soul Society again?" He looked down at the boy, who was still obviously unsure; he continued, "You have my word, Kurosaki Ichigo."

At that, Ichigo seemed to relax – if only a little a little, but maintained his guard. Rukia noticed how his hand would occasionally jerk up as if to grab his zanpakuto, but he would then lower it subtly, avoiding her gaze when he did so. She watched him subconsciously for a moment or two, before a voice pulled her back to reality.

Yamamoto looked to her again, "Now… Miss Kuchiki, what is your decision?"

She awoke suddenly. Sitting up in her bed in bewilderment, What an odd dream…

She could hear the small sobs of an infant coming from beyond her room. The woman instinctively looked across the bed to see that no one was asleep beside her. Standing, she walked across the bedroom floor, opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.

She loved this house. It was so homely; it was just the kind of house she always dreamed of owning when she was younger. Kuchiki Rukia smiled to herself.

Younger… like a hundred years younger, she thought amusedly looking at the many family photos that adorned the walls. Yes, she had indeed had a lot of time to think about her future home and family... during the course of her 'life'.

She walked towards the quiet sobbing. At the end of the hall was a door to another room – the other bedroom. Rukia stopped at the door, listening inside as a grown man began speaking to the child.

Their child…

"What happened sweetie?" he asked in a gentle tone.

"I-I…saw a…g-ghost." The little girl replied through stutters. Rukia creaked open the door just enough to see her five year old daughter sitting up in her bed, with a fearful look. She had long dark hair with a strand that always seemed to fall across her face, just like her mother's. Her brown eyes were filled with tears. Rukia was about to walk in when he spoke again.

Usually when a child says they have seen a ghost, their parents will immediately tell them that it was their imagination, a nightmare, that they ate too much chocolate right before bed... But in this house when the child says they saw a ghost, it's always the same response;

"Oh, Masaki, ghosts are nothing to be afraid of," He raised his hand to wipe away his daughter's tears, "In fact a lot of them are really nice."

Her daughter bowed her head, a little embarrassed, "I know… but they still look scary."

"And what about the bad ones?" she heard a young boy question, worry now in his voice too.

"Yeah daddy," Masaki agreed, "What about the bad ones?"

Rukia bit her lip when she heard this question. They were so young, and yet they knew so much. They had seen these 'bad ones' before, and as a mother Rukia will never forget the horrified look on their faces.

She peeked into the room once more to see the man look over to the young boy, Their son…

His deep violet eyes made his spiky orange hair all the more prominent as he approached his father, who replied gently, "The bad ones? Well, Kaien… you just leave them to me, okay?" he smiled then, giving his son a playful wink.

Both children nodded. Their father gave a soft chuckle, getting to his feet. He quickly tucked in both children, wishing them goodnight before he backing out of their room.

He still hadn't seen her, "Ichigo…" she began.

Her husband jumped at the sound of her voice, turning on heel, "God Rukia, are you trying to scare the life out of me?"

They stood in silence for a moment, Rukia stayed staring intently at the floor. He noticed that face, "You have a bad dream too?" the question was asked a little slyly, worry showing through his voice. Then his tone became suddenly more brazen, and in a husky voice, he asked; "Need me to tuck you in too?"

She galred up at him and childishly stuck out her tongue, "No… just a dream. Though I wouldn't mind some company in our bed for a change. Am I going to get you back tonight or should I start calling Renji over?"

Ichigo growled; obviously not impressed by her joke. Rukia then giggled; standing on her toes she brushed her lips against his.

He obviously approved of this apology, because he quickly wrapped his arms around her waist, embracing her gently and he rested his chin on her head. "How was patrol?" she asked suddenly, her face still buried in his chest, taking in his scent.

"Ah, you know… not too much excitement."

"Ichigo…" she began, in her no-nonsense tone.

He smiled at that. She worried way too much for such a small person; "One big guy and a couple of shrimps, is that what you wanted to hear?"

Rukia pulled away slightly, looking up into his eyes, "Any injuries?" her tone was much softer now, and her brows were knitted together in anticipation.

Ichigo frowned in such a way that she was reminded of the fifteen-year old boy she met so long ago. He sighed before muttering; "A couple of broken ribs, and maybe a dislocated shoulder… but Inoue fixed them up right after. I'm fine now."

She shook her head, "Why is it that you always manage to sustain the most wounds? Is it some kind of idiotic competition between you males, or what?"

He stifled a laugh, "Nah… I just tripped a couple of times…" then he pondered for a moment, "But if it had been a contest then I totally kicked Renji's ass!"

He smirked at the glare he received for his comment, before bending down and gently pressing his lips over hers. Her mood seemed to have shifted when he looked back down at her. She embraced him again, "I missed you, you know."

He laughed now, holding her close to him once more, "That's all right… you're only human…"

"Human…" she repeated softly into his chest.

Never in all her days had that word meant so much to her… then it did now… in his arms.

A/N: And they all lived happily ever after! (I guess, hehe!)

Thank you to everyone who read this story, commented, and favourited! You guys are awesome!
I'm so happy to have received such kind comments with regards to this fic! I hope, in the future, when I may decide to write another long shot, that you guys will be willing to give that a look too!
I hope the ending wasn't disappointing, and I would really like to hear your opinions!

Other than that, thanks again, and I hope to hear from you all again!
Bye for now,