Hello, everyone,

The last several months of my life have seen a major change: I accepted a job teaching Community College English! As such, it has been harder for me to work on this story. HOWEVER, now that I am on break for a little bit, and have a lighter load in the coming semester, I will have time to sit down and work out the rest of this story as I want to. It's a new year! New times for writing and finishing this story!

Thank you ALL for sticking with my and favoriting/following/commenting on my story! You cannot imagine how much of an inspiration your words of encouragement have been.

A special thanks to: calaverasandtattoos, Camelliajewel, Esbenmik, Pyrotech51, obfuscated identity, idkyilol, Stormywolf12, heart44hayatolover, tylercass, starkyl, Lady of the Crescent Moon, HinataUchiha825, Melly Black, Phillbie, Guest (I know, I hated writing Sonido off, but it was something I'd planned from the start of the story...I'm glad you liked his character though! ^_^ ), EurekaSeven21, and MyNameIsNigel for the recent favorites and comments! I greatly appreciate it!

As always, enjoy the chapter!

Romania Black

Chapter Sixty-Three

Friendship is a thread tied and splayed
Throughout time, the weather frayed
Blood and tears soaked the Ends
Breaking glass-hours again, again

Leta Kamaguchi felt her knees give way; as they crumbled, her Bankai dissipated. Her body was weightless in midair for a blink of a second, then plunged forward; her stomach doing backflips as she crashed through the air toward her death below. All the energy draining from her body, she could barely keep her eyes open.

I-I did it, father, Leta's mind thought tenderly, blackness swirling around her, the cold air in her face, I hope you're proud-

And then all was darkness.

Leta unconsciously fell into her brother's arms, as he had ran toward her Bankai to catch her.

"Leta!" Layla Kamaguchi had grabbed the bottom of her long gown and rushed toward her siblings, "Lyall, is she-?"

"She's fine," He smiled faintly, placing his ear against one of her wrists, "She's unconscious, but she's not dead."

"That's hardly fine," Layla frowned disapprovingly, running her pale hands over Layla's dirt covered face, "My God, she looks-"

"Get her out of her, Lyall," Yoruichi was beside them now, "Renji, you can accompany him to the infirmary, can't you? You said you were there earlier."

Renji normally would disapprove of being shoved to the sidelines like this, but Yoruichi's voice was neither joking nor seemed willing to argue, "I can. Follow me, Lyall." The two raced off past the barrier the Kido Corps established.

"With Lyall with him, they shouldn't have any problems with barriers stopping them," Yoruichi wiped her forehead with her palm.

"I should have gone with them," Layla was glancing with a ghost-like expression at her own hands, covered now with the dirt and blood that had been on her sister's face. "I shouldn't leave her alone."

"She's with your brother," Yoruichi frowned, "Besides, I have a feeling we'll need you for the upcoming fight."

Layla's head perked up, as Byakuya and Ichigo rushed to their side. "Why, Madame Yoruichi?" Layla asked slowly.

"Oi, Grimmjow!" Yoruichi called back to the newly forged Vasto Lorde, who was looking impressively at the leveled plain where Virvi Medusa had just been consumed. "You said others were coming; am I wrong?"

"Depends," Grimmjow smirked darkly, obviously not wanting to answer her question.

"Are those other's on our side...or yours?" Yoruichi asked tentatively, as the three other Shinigami looked at her with equally bewildered expressions.

Grimmjow let out a smug bark of a laugh, his eyes finally meeting the cat-woman's, "Ah, now there's a question worth asking. How'd you know?"

"Know? Know what?" Ichigo breathed incredulously.

"Grimmjow was hinting at it from the start," Yoruichi's eyes were bored onto the Vasto Lorde's, "Virvi Medusa was sent to weaken us," Her eyes blinked, "Before the rest of the hollows arrive."

"Orihime...Nel...I'm confused," Karin felt as if her entire journey through Hueco Mundo had been based on bewilderment and back ache, as she gripped her lower torso jumping off of Bawabawa.

"You're not the only one," Toshiro had his sword out and aimed at Trigger, who had her hands raised innocently in the air.

"Oh, now," Trigger tried to pass her voice off as more childish than usual, "Don't aim your sword at me, Shinigami, I'm just trying to help!"

"You want Orihime to restore your mask as she did Nel's," Toshiro glared at her, walking back through her plan, "Why should she? So you can become a Vasto Lorde again and help Leviathon take over the Soul Society?"

It was Trigger's turn to glare, as her face dropped all pretense of innocence and instead reflected only fury, "How dare you, Shinigami. How dare you place me on the same plane of ignorance as Leviathon."

"Then explain yourself!" Toshiro shouted, urging the zanpakuto closer to her with every word.

"That fool betrayed me and transformed me into...this," She glanced down at her childish body, frail and in tattered white rags, "Then murdered my only companion on these white sands and threatened to assassinate me again...and you believe I would want to join the ranks of such idiocy?"

At that, Toshiro did in fact feel a bit foolish, but he didn't lower his blade; only remained silent.

"No one is helping anyone while we stand here," Karin finally exhaled, annoyed. "Trigger," She turned to the former Vasto Lorde, who would not meet her glance, "If Orihime restores you to your former self...what are you planning on doing?"

Trigger fidgeted in place for a moment, as if not wanting to answer her question. In the silence, she finally rolled her eyes and looked toward Karin, but at the ground instead of her eyes.

"Leviathon wants to permanently open the borders between Hueco Mundo and the Soul Society; that's been part of his plan all along. He said it would allow an endless war between the Hollows and the Shinigami."

Toshiro's eyes widened and both Orihime and Karin looked shocked and offended. Nel only shook her head sadly at Trigger's words.

"That's insane," Karin mouthed, almost unable to reply anything.

"And foolish," Toshiro added, anger rising in his throat, "Doesn't he realize what that would do to the fabric of the dimensions that separate Hueco Mundo from the Soul Society? The flow of time from the Dangai could leak into both worlds and cause them to decay!"

"Precisely why myself and several other higher level hollows disapproved of his plans," Trigger continued, "Which is why Leviathon sealed me in this state, so I would not be a threat to his plans."

Toshiro slowly began to lower his sword, as Orihime moved forward a step towards the small Vasto Lorde.

"A war like this is only to stroke his perpetual ego, and could destroy all of my home and yours," Trigger sneered, "As much as I hate you all with every inch of my being...I would rather devour you all another day as opposed to never again."

"Well," Karin scratched the back of her head with sarcasm laced in her laugh, "With logic like that..."

"I can heal your mask," Orihime started, her hands raised by Trigger's head, a warm light glowing around them, "But I will make you promise me...once this battle's ended, you will return to Hueco Mundo without inflicting harm to anyone in this room."

"You think I'll keep that promise, woman?" Trigger scoffed in disbelief.

"If I can restore your mask," Orihime said with a degree of uncharacteristic coldness, "What makes you think I cannot undo it again?"

This made the hollow girl freeze in a blink of stunned terror. Karin breathed in, impressed by Orihime's acting here; she knew that Orihime would never be this cruel, as did Toshiro and Nel, but nevertheless, the act at this moment seemed quite convincing.

Trigger glanced around at Nel, Toshiro, and finally Karin, whom the Shinigami suspected was causing her the most hesitance to agree to Orihime's terms. She finally let out a small, dry chuckle as she glanced up at the human.

"Even if I wanted to, I don't think Sonido would have let me spill any of her blood on these sands...Whatever. It's a promise, human."

"Something very large and very unfriendly is about to bounce into our world," Yoruichi was staring up at the sky, but her eyes clicked at Grimmjow, "Isn't it?"

Grimmjow licked the corner of his mouth, "Let's just say, I wouldn't be lowering that barrier anytime soon."

"You monstrous cretin!" Layla bellowed angrily, "You knew about this the entire time and yet you-"

"Let you create a barrier to save the rest of your sorry-ass Soul Society from being wiped out by the invading horde?" Grimmjow cut in, his steely blue eyes narrowing on the Kamaguchi clan leader, who was suddenly silent. "You're welcome," He snapped smugly, a smirk playing on his lips.

"I don't understand," Byakuya continued Layla's conversation, as she appeared too stunned to speak, "You allowed the Kido Corps to create this barrier...why?"

"He's not working directly with the hollows that are about to enter," Yoruichi answered his question before the feline Vasto Lorde could speak, "Are you?"

"I wouldn't label myself any hero," Grimmjow frowned, "But I'm not with those pathetic imbeciles, either. To be honest," He leapt past Yoruichi, Byakuya, and Layla, and planted himself firmly in front of Ichigo, who flinched in surprise, "I let that shrimp-sized bitch lead me here so I could face you."

Ichigo almost raised a finger to suggest, Me? As Yoruichi smacked her forehead with her hand in astonishment,

"You have to be kidding..." She groaned, realizing he wasn't kidding. "Grimmjow..."

"Don't judge me, you cat-eyed freak," The Vasto Lorde hissed, "I let you save your own sorry asses, so now you deal with the oncoming storm! I," He turned back to Ichigo, "am ready to face you again, Kurosaki!"

"Ichigo," Yoruichi tried to wave him down dismissively, "Don't let him goad you into-"

"It's fine," Ichigo interrupted her, with a small grin forming on his face, "I told Grimmjow we could fight over and over again, so it's only natural he would hold me to my word once or twice, right? What do you say, Grimmjow?" Ichigo raised his sword up against Grimmjow's arm, the silver edge of the blade grazing his white hide, "We spar a few rounds and then help these guys defeat those pathetic imbeciles you're ranting about?"

"After I wipe the ground with your sorry corpse," Grimmjow flashed his teeth in a wide and menacing grin, "I'll think about it."

"Enough words," Byakuya stepped in front of Layla, who appeared all too bewildered by the conversational exchange taking place, "Look."

Above them, a crack was tearing through the sky. The sliver of disturbance in the air suddenly erupted into a gaping, jagged hole; one the Shinigami had seen before in the Soul Society.

"Here they come," Yoruichi frowned.

"10th Seat," Byakuya called out to a Shinigami far back on the sidelines, who came forward and knelt on one knee, their head bowed, "Go forth to the inner Soul Society and inform the Head Captain to send notice that we will need reinforcements. The hollows of Hueco Mundo are crossing into the Soul Society."

"Yes, Captain!" The 10th Seat of the Sixth Division nodded their head briskly and flash stepped from sight.

"It will take time for the reinforcements to get here," Layla's voice sounded distant, her eyes glancing into the sky with cold apprehension, "The Kido Corps are doing all they can to hold the barrier...and the Sixth Division is all we have inside the barrier with us-"

"-Part of the Sixth Division," Byakuya gave her a slightly icy stare, "I would never consider bringing my entire division to the battlefield."

"Fine then," Layla gave him a serious stare, "Part of your Division. Is that really enough?"

"You two whining...no wonder the Soul Society thinks all of us nobles are cowardly worms," Yoruichi's face broke into a playful smile, "What are you two so scared about? We have three top-notch Kido experts, two "Class A" sword fighters, a newly forged Vasto Lorde surging with bloodthirsty energy, and the single best hand-to-hand combat strategist the Soul Society has seen in three centuries right here!"

"I would hardly call Kurosaki 'the single best hand-to-hand combat strategist' the Soul Society has seen," Byakuya sneered with his nose tilted slightly in the air, as Ichigo shot him an agitated glance.

"Oh, no, that's me," Yoruichi grinned, wrapping her arm around Byakuya in a half-embrace before bouncing past him and his shocked expression, "You and Ichigo share the whole "Class A" thing and before you argue with me-" She readied herself in a crouched position, "Save it for after we defeat this hollow horde. Let's GO!" She exploded from the ground into the air, as hundreds of black sprinkle-sized dots began descending from the tear in the sky toward them.

"Menos!" Layla's eyes widened and then narrowed.

Byakuya's face slowly changed from shocked to his usual guarded and angrily bored expression, "How I hate that woman."

"Alright, Grimmjow! Let's hurry up and have your little rematch so we can save the Soul Society," Ichigo stretched his sword-holding arm across his chest, "I'm just getting back into using my zanpakuto again full power, so you may have to go ea-"

Grimmjow's hand grabbed Ichigo's face by the left-hand side and sent him flying across the uprooted soil. The Vasto Lorde slid the hand against his porcelain skin and through his turquoise hair as his face broke into a grin,

"Get your head outta your ass, Kurosaki. I came here to fight and destroy you, not hear your pansy-bitch excuses."


Grimmjow Vs. Ichigo, The Hollow Horde invades the Soul Society, and the Final Matches of the story begin!

I appreciate all your feedback and support for my story! Any reviews are appreciated! I love you all; thank you for reading!

Happy New Year,

Romania Black