((Alright, since the actual story ended on a black note, I thought, since you all slogged through fifteen chapters of depression, that it'd be only fitting to offer something less...depressing. An alternate ending, if you want to call it that. I know the feeling when you desperately wish an ending could've been happy, and it...wasn't. Remember that this isn't the canonical ending to the story; in the story story, everyone dies and then their souls probably get used by Aizen to turn into hollows for the new Espada. This is just for lovely escapism, y'know.
So here's to you, kid.))
It's been sixteen years since the tragedy of Ichigo Kurosaki's rescue team being wiped out on the sands of Hueco Mundo. The tragedy was repeated by mouth, until everyone knew of it. Heroism has no place in this world.
In the Living World, a high school lets out, and a pair of teens walk out. One gives a shove to the other, but playfully.
"You know, I can't believe you're actually getting all those tattoos, Ryota," He laughs, as his companion shoves him back with an annoyed stare, but a grin creeping onto his face either way.
"Hey, these tattoos looks pretty fucking cool, I think," Ryota begins, gesturing to the tribal stripes going up his arms. His long hair, a blood red color, is tied back in a ponytail, as he gives his friend another shove. "You're one to talk, Isamu, Mr. Strawberry Blond." He ruffles Isamu's orange hair, and the two wrestle to grab at each other's hair, Isamu going for Ryota's ponytail and Ryota giving playful jerks to Isamu's thuggishly-coloured hair. Other students walk around them, until they stop suddenly at the call of a voice.
"Hey, you idiots, if you're going to grope each other then do it where we don't all have to watch!" A female voice snaps at them, and Ryota shoves Isamu back a few steps.
"Hey Rika. And Isamu started it with that thug scowl of his," He accuses, as Isamu prepares to launch into another witty comment but stops when he sees Rika, a short girl, her black hair styled into her peculiar bob, give a fleeting peck on the cheek to Ryota, who seems suitably surprised. Isamu wonders if they're going to go out.
"Ryota, you can shove it; you just know I'm right." He finally manages, regaining his composure, a moment before Ryota whirls on him and they playfully begin to shove at one another.
"Heh, yeah, you dog-faced liar."
"Burns me, Isamu; you know how much your opinion matters to me."
"And why am I not surprised," A cool voice comes from the group's left, and they all look over at the approaching student their age, "That you two are causing a commotion?" A rather stern-looking young man, with glasses and short black hair, generally a studious type, approaches them with a sigh in his voice. Ryoji grins.
"Hey Udon." He quips, just to watch the young man's eyebrow twitch in displeasure.
"It's Udo, and you know that." Udo corrects, pushing up his glasses, testily. Isamu gives Ryoji a shove and stands in front of the intelligent-type.
"How's sewing club going?" He asks, with a bit of a grin, and Udo smirks.
"How are your grades?" He quips back, and Udo's expression darkens.
"You're an asshole, did you know that?"
"Quite aware. In any case, have you seen-" Udo begins, the group walking together, before they hear a loud noise behind them; someone asking someone else if they're alright, and Isamu looks back, his orange-tone hair bright in the after-school sunlight.
"Hey, it's Teruko and Osen," He notes aloud, cutting Udo off, before waving to them. Teruko, a young woman currently in Isamu's rank in Kendo, her short, boyishly-cut black hair unmoving in the breeze, is helping up her best friend, Osen. Osen herself looks up at then as she gets up from where she tripped, her long orange hair swaying in the breeze, her gray eyes bright and joyous, and she smiles widely and waves to them.
"Hi guys!" She calls, walking with Teruko over to the small group. She looks at Isamu and smiles warmly, as he stares at her with a grin. He's been trying to work up the nerve to ask her out, but he's not sure if she's interested. "Everyone doing well today?"
Everyone gives a mumble of approval, and Teruko grins. "Alright, now that school is done with, lets' go out and eat. Isamu's paying." Isamu stares at her, about to say something, when Osen's laugh and appreciative hug cuts him off.
"Thanks, Isamu; I didn't know you were taking us all out," She says, but before he can hug her back, she's already pulling away and walking with Rika up ahead, of them, laughing. Isamu watches as Udo catches up with her and begins speaking quietly to her, but he can't tell what they're talking about. She laughs, almost nervously, and says something quietly back, and Udo continues walking beside her.
After their dinner at a nearby restaurant, Isamu tries to steel himself to ask Osen out. But she says she wants to get some fresh air, and while she's alone out there, he prepares himself. Ryoji is breaking his concentration almost purposefully, but he'll get it.
Outside, Osen relaxes in the cool evening, watching the red fireflies dance around her head. Udo asked her out on a date after school, and she doesn't know what she's going to tell him. Yes? No? She has no idea. Confused, she remains out there, waiting for everyone else to come out, when she sees motion in the direction of a nearby tree. Curious, she peers closer, and sees that it's a person.
"Hello?" She speaks to him, mainly because it's in her nature, and he turns to look at her. She's struck by how pale he is, and how lurid green his eyes are. But most of all, it's the twin tear tracks going down his cheeks. "Um...do you need any help? Are you...alright?" It's a very small rural town, so nobody's really afraid that any random person is a serial killer; that only happens in the big cities, like Tokyo. The stranger shakes his head a moment, before opening his mouth to speak. He seems to think twice about it, closing his mouth again, before opening it and finally speaking.
"...What...is your name?" He asks her, and his voice chills her, but she manages an answer anyway, taking a cursory step closer. He seems...vaguely familiar, as if wrapped in a blanket of nostalgia for something she's never seen before, a person she's never met.
"Osen," She tells him, as he takes a step closer to her. "Um...who are you? Do I know you?"
He seems to deliberate on whether to answer or not, but remains reserved, quiet. She kind of likes that; he's not pushy like the boys at school are. He just takes things as they come. After a moment, she thinks she hears her friends calling her name back at the restaurant but she doesn't really care right now, standing in front of the mysterious stranger while pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. He closes his eyes, inhaled, and then, as the moon hangs heavy over them, and the millions of little pinpricks of early stars seem to almost disappear for them a moment, he speaks.
"My name is...Ulquiorra Cifer," He tells her, and when no recognition flickers in her eyes, he is almost relieved. "Would you...like to take a walk with me?"
She thinks about it a moment, and looks back to her group of friends, and then to this mysterious Ulquiorra again. She knows she should be saying no, should be leaving, because she doesn't even know this guy, but at the same time...she thinks she does.
She takes his hand in hers and Osen ignores how icy cold he is as she lets him lead her away from her friends and down the path that leads beside the river, a haze of red dragonflies all around them.
((So...yeah, this the end end. Still non-canonical for the main story, but I thought someone, somewhere, would like something at least slightly hopeful to read after all that depressing stuff. You know, a chance at a new life for the reincarnated rescue team and Orihime herself. Thanks for reading.))