Authors note: MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is my christmas present to all you guys and I hope you enjoy it! And yes, this chapter marks the end of this story (though there is an epilogue) but I'm very sad that it is finished. I hope you all enjoyed it and please review to tell me what you thought of this fic! Merry christmas again! Oh and its really late where I live so if there are mistakes I'll look at it tommorrow and fix it up :)
Disclaimer: I do not own bleach
The Final Goodbye
"What?" Renji's eyes widened slightly, surprised. It was strange for a messenger to be sent to him demanding that he come to the meeting that was currently held. What was even stranger was the fact that this meeting had only been called mere minutes ago, for reasons no one knew. But the angel knew that if he didn't comply then the punishment from Byakuya would be far worse than he could ever imagine so he slowly got to his feet and gave a leisurely stretch.
The messenger blinked at him in anticipation as she waited for him to actually go to the meeting. She didn't feel that her job would be complete until that happened so she stood there and waited, silently wishing that it wouldn't take too long.
Renji caught her gaze and turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow, wondering what could have her so anxious. But then he realized and he rolled his eyes, yawning slightly. He had been in the middle of his long day of relaxing and it had been a blessing to discover that Byakuya had been called to a meeting. This had meant that he wouldn't need to worry about being caught while doing nothing. But now he had been called to some stupid meeting.
He idly wondered if the meeting was merely another sign that the old man was just getting a bit old but then he cringed as he realized that he really shouldn't be thinking things like that. It was rumoured that Yamamoto could read peoples thoughts and although it was only a rumour, Renji couldn't help but wonder if it was actually true. Shaking his head slightly, he dispelled sigh thoughts from his mind and quickly tied up his long red hair into its usual ponytail, knowing that for a meeting he had to look somewhat presentable or Byakuya would skin him alive afterwards.
The messenger gave an impatient sigh but when Renji gave her an odd look she blushed lightly and lowered her head, knowing that it was not her place to tell him to hurry up. Hoping that he wouldn't punish her, she was surprised when he just drawled. "Fine, fine. I'm coming."
She risked a look at his face to see that he was grinning widely at her and she gave a little smile before bowing, knowing that he was just joking with her. But it was time for her to go and she quickly excused herself from the room.
Renji watched her go, shaking his head slightly. It was always like that with the messengers. They were too afraid of the higher ranked angels and so they always acted so.. proper. He grimaced. It was something that really bugged him with the angels and it was also something that he never felt the need to do, no matter how many times Byakuya tried to force it into him.
A slight smile quirked up his face and he made his way out the door, quickly navigating the corridors to find the meeting. His white wings were spread out behind him, their feathers unusually clean and shining, the pure colour almost blinding. He glanced back at them for a moment, proud as he had spent a lot of time cleaning them that morning since he had the time. He supposed it was just good luck that he would actually look decent for this meeting.
As he made his way through the seireitei, he noted that most of the angels seemed to be whispering about something, their expressions grave. As he got closer and closer to the meeting, he saw fewer angels, many seeming to hide in buildings as if they were scared of something. Scared of something powerful. He blinked, wondering if he was just imagining things but the fact that this was an impromptu meeting told him otherwise.
Within a few minutes he was in front of the doors and he raised one hand to knock, only to find that they were already ajar. Curious, he poked his head in to see all of the high-ranked angels standing there, their expressions grave. He felt a cold rush of fear go over him as he realized that something really had happened and he walked inside, standing next to Byakuya who gave him a cold glare.
Soon everyone was there and Yamamoto stood up, his eyes cracking open slightly as he began to speak. "I have called everyone here today because of an emergency."
Whispers briefly filled the room before silence fell once again. "Everyone will remember the devil, the powerful creature that continually opposed us and fought with us." There was a murmured assent and Yamamoto continued. "We had thought that when we captured and executed him that we would have heard the end of that but then we discovered that the devil had a son. I had assumed that because the son had not appeared in ten years, we would no longer have to think of him as a current threat to us. But unfortunately that is not true."
Yamamoto gave a sigh, his head dropping down slightly. "This morning, many angels stationed in Karakura town reported to have seen an extremely powerful creature in its vicinity. This creature bore a certain likeness to the devil and it has since been confirmed that it is in fact his son."
Byakuya spoke up, his voice calm and collected even while he was processing this new information. "What are we going to do?" He asked.
Yamamoto turned to face him. "This new devil is too close to humans and so he is now classified as a threat. We must stop him at all costs, even if we destroy the town in the process. We will attack within the hour." He then banged his staff against the floor, the sound resonating throughout the room and indicating that the meeting was over.
Renji stood there in surprise, knowing that Rukia was in that town at the moment and if she didn't get out of there soon, she could get destroyed along with the other humans. He swore softly before quickly running out. It would take all of his luck for him to get to Rukia in time and warn her but even then there was a chance that she could die.
He spread his wings wide and soared into the air, his destination firmly in his mind.
Renji tapped lightly on the window, his large wings spread out behind him. His usually grinning face was strangely serious, his brown eyes full of regret. He looked tired, as if he hadn't slept for days and his pure white wings were slightly bent out of shape. Strands of his bright red hair had fallen out of his ponytail. "Rukia!" He called softly but urgently, tapping on the glass once more.
Rukia's head shot up as she heard her name and she looked over in surprise, wondering why Renji had come. She scrambled over to the window, sliding it open as quickly as she could "Renji?" Her eyes widened in shock "What are you doing here?"
Her friend glanced over his shoulder fearfully, as if he was worried that someone was watching him. "Look I don't have much time. Someone could see me at any moment…" He trailed off. "I shouldn't be here. I could get into lots of trouble."
Rukia grinned at him "That's never stopped you before" She said but her grin faded as she saw just how anxious he really was. "Renji.. what's wrong?" Worry filled her violet eyes.
Renji leaned closer to her, a panicked look appearing on his face. "Yamamoto-sama is preparing to attack this town. The angels will be here any minute now"
"What?" Rukia straightened up in shock, black hair falling across her face. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Surely not.. she thought to herself. There was no way that the angels would attack a human settlement. But the grave look on her friends face told her otherwise. She slumped slightly. "Why?"
"He knows that the devil is in this town and he wants to kill him"
"What about the humans here? Surely he wouldn't harm them!"
But Renji shook his head, sadness appearing in his eyes. "He says that their sacrifice doesn't matter as it would have been for some greater good or something stupid like that! I came to warn you so that you get out of here in time. They won't stop even if they know that you're here." His voice gained an exasperated edge to it, showing how worried he truly was.
But Rukia wasn't listening to him anymore, the information running through her head. It just seemed so horrible, so.. inhuman. All her life, she had been told that the angels were all things that were pure and good. But in coming to the human world, she realized that angels were merely like humans with wings and powers. They were barely any different. They still sinned no matter what they did. It was in their nature. This was just one example of that and a horrific one too. The leader of the angels was meant to be a good person but someone who would willing destroy a whole town just to get what they want.. she shook her head in sadness, not wanting to believe that Yamamoto could do something that atrocious.
But then an unbidden memory rose to the forefront of her mind and she realized something with a gasp. She sat up, turning to Renji quickly. "The devil isn't here anymore!"
Renji leaned back, the tips of his wings curling slightly "What? How do you know that?"
Rukia glanced away, not wanting Renji to see the raw emotions that were flickering across her face. "I.." She paused before continuing. "I talked to him."
"You talked to him?" Renji looked at her in horror "Do you know how dangerous that is, Rukia?"
"I know… but I trusted him." She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. "I won't make the same mistake again."
Renji watched her for a moment, eyebrows knitting together. He was concerned for his friend but he knew that he didn't have much time left before the angels came. "Rukia, we can't stop them even if we tell them that he isn't here."
"I know." Rukia said sadly. "I just wish that we could save the people. I was friends with some of them…" She trailed off, her eyes widening. "If I warn my friends, they might be able to get out of here in time. I could save them!" She leapt off the bed only to stop as Renji grabbed her arm.
"Rukia…" He said softly, dark eyes watching her. "Please promise me that you won't be here when the angels come. Please!"
Rukia smiled at him, her purple eyes lighting up "Of course I won't, Renji."
"I promise." Then as Renji let go of her arm, she rushed out the door of the room, knowing in her heart that she would not leave this town no matter what. She could not. For some reason, it felt like home to her now and nothing could ever make her leave willingly.
The angel bounded down the stairs to see Isshin and his two daughters standing there, the father bouncing around quite strangely and the black-haired daughter yelling at him angrily. Rukia paused for a moment, a rush of sadness coming over her before Isshin turned and saw her standing there. He instantly dropped his funny attitude, a serious look appearing in his eyes. He could sense that something was wrong.
Rukia straightened up. "They're coming." She said softly. "They think he's here and so they're going to destroy the town."
Isshin's eyes widened in horror. "What?" He said, knowing that if the angels did come, their family would be the first to go. It wouldn't take the angels long to realize that they had been the ones who had taken care of him for those ten years and when they found out, he knew that they would be furious.
"If you hurry, you might be able to make it out before they come. But please hurry."
Isshin looked at her carefully for a moment but then he nodded. "Karin.. Yuzu. We're leaving now."
Karin looked at her dad, confusion etched on her face. "Why?"
"I'll explain it on the way. Just hurry."
The Kurosaki family began to rush around, and Rukia breathed a small sigh of relief, grateful that they would make it out in time. Then she raced out the front door and onto the street, hoping that she would make it in time to save the others.
Rukia ran down the street, ignoring the pain in her feet as her bare skin was cut on some glass that lay on the road. She could hear a sound coming from overhead, one that was all too familiar. "No…no.." She said softly, hoping that she wasn't too late. But as she rounded a corner, she felt something and she froze, a panicked look coming across her features. She looked up just as thousands of angels filled the sky, ready to destroy the town.
Rukia fell to her knees in despair, tears filling her eyes. They had come and there was no way she could stop them. She was just not powerful enough. The worst thing was knowing what they were going to do, especially to the people that she considered her friends. She looked away, not wanting to watch the destruction that was about to occur.
"Angels!" A powerful voice called and Rukia felt drawn to it but she resisted the urge. No matter what happened, she vowed not to be a part of this even if she had to die first. The angel looked up to see the ruler of the angels floating above the town. She knew him so well and as she looked at his wizened features and long flowing beard, she felt compelled to do whatever he asked. But then she tore her gaze away.
"No." She told herself sternly "I must resist it." Taking a deep breath in, she tried to calm herself and noticed that her hands were shaking slightly.
"Attack the town!" Yamamoto called in his deep voice and the angels fell on the town, causing the untold destruction.
Rukia watched in horror as the screams started. People ran from their homes in fear, children and adults alike, all running from one thing. The creatures with wings. But they ran in vain as the angels struck down each and everyone mercilessly. Buildings crumbled to the ground as the angels attacked and fires roared into existence. Rukia glanced around as bodies began to litter the streets, blood splattered across the ground.
Within minutes, the whole town lay in ruins and Rukia wept openly, distraught with the loss of her friends. But it was more than that. As an angel, she was against violence like this. It was in her blood and so to see something on this scale of destruction, it caused her more pain that she could ever have imagined.
But through the untold pain, she dimly realized that she could not allow the destruction to continue. Because the devil was not in Karakura town, when Yamamoto realized this he would continue to hunt for him, most likely destroying countless other cities and towns just like this.
Gathering her strength, the young angel stood up, wincing as a sharp pain lanced through her but she managed to take a step forward. Breathing in deeply, she braced herself for the pain and took another step, making her was towards the centre of the town, the place where Yamamoto was.
As she reached the centre she paused, hidden for a moment by the chunks of buildings that lay around her. She knew that this would be the end of her life, no matter what. Even if she did not die here, Yamamoto did not tolerate traitors very kindly and so she would probably be executed later. But if it stopped this violence, it would be worth it.
She took a step forward, her bare feet sliding across the ground just as a clear voice shouted out. "Stop!"
Rukia froze, her eyes widening in shock. She recognized the voice all too well and it sent a stab of longing through her. She turned her head slowly to see a figure walking through the destruction, his black wings spread out behind him.
She gasped. It was Ichigo. Untold joy filled her and it was all she could do not to run towards him but she stayed hidden, watching carefully. Ichigo walked forward slowly, his eyes the black and yellow colour of a demon. He was furious. His face was curled into a vicious snarl and his hands were clenched together. Dark, suffocating reiatsu swirled around him uncontrollably as he moved closer to Yamamoto.
Rukia watched him, shocked to see him this angry. She had never seen him like this and she felt a stab of fear go through her, realising just how powerful he truly was. The reiatsu was so powerful that she was forced to her knees, gasping for breath. But after a few moments, it dwindled slightly and she found that she could breathe again and she retreated back into the dark shadows, watching with fearful eyes.
Yamamoto's eyes narrowed as he saw Ichigo. "Finally you have come Devil." He held out one hand and a sword made of fire appeared in it, its heat scorching the very air around it.
Ichigo glared at him, barely containing his fury. "You killed them." He said softly, his voice low and filled with anger.
"It was your fault that this town had to suffer, devil. You could have saved them."
"Don't give me that crap!" Ichigo shouted, his eyes flashing dangerously. "It was you that attacked this town and so you alone will pay." He reached up with one clawed hand and traced a finger across the black tattoos on his arms. He whispered softly in an ancient language, his voice filled with power and the tattoos disappeared, his reiatsu surging in response.
Suddenly, someone appeared next to him and Rukia's eyes widened. "Impossible.." She whispered softly, leaning forward. This new person looked exactly like Ichigo except he was completely white. He wore a similar tattered black hakama and had large black wings. His spiky hair was a pure white and his skin was unnaturally pale.
Yamamoto even appeared surprised, his eyes widening a fraction before they narrowed. "Who is that?" He asked, eyeing the newcomer warily.
But before Ichigo could answer, the white twin spoke, a sadistic grin lighting up his face. "I'm Shiro." He drawled, snapping his black wings out behind him. "I'm Ichi's older brother." He sneered at Yamamoto but Ichigo placed a restraining hand on his shoulder.
"Shiro.." He said warningly "Take care of the others. He's mine." He turned back to face Yamamoto, a steely look in his black and yellow eyes.
Shiro studied his brother for a moment and then nodded. "Alright, but make sure that you don't get yourself killed King."
Ichigo grinned at him, "You either," and then Shiro spread his wings, launching off the ground to attack the nearest angel. Rukia's eyes followed him as he easily defeat numerous angels. He didn't look like he was even trying.
Turning her attention back to Ichigo, she noticed that Yamamoto was frowning slightly. "How is it that no one has heard of your so called brother before?"
But Ichigo was not in the mood for answering anymore questions. His wings were spread out to their full, ferocious length and his reiatsu was swirling around him once more. He growled angrily and rushed towards the leader of the angels, a long black sword appearing in his hand. He swung downwards but Yamamoto blocked the attack easily.
He looked up at Ichigo and raised one eyebrow. "Is that all you can do?"
But Ichigo wasn't finished yet. He held out his empty hand and a ball of black energy formed in it. Within seconds it had left his hand and hit Yamamoto. This time, the angel had to step back in order to completely block the attack but still, it had little effect on him. Yamamoto calmly eyed him "You are much weaker than I had thought." He said and suddenly Ichigo was thrown to the ground even though Yamamoto had not moved.
Rukia's eyes widened but she breathed a sigh of relief as she saw Ichigo getting to his feet, breathing heavily but still very much alive. Yamamoto said softly "Youngsters with no power can never hope to defeat me."
But Ichigo just grinned at him. "I haven't even shown you my true power or my true devil form, old man." He spat out the last two words as an insult, knowing just how annoyed the angel would be. He straightened up and placed a hand on his chest, positioning it directly over the hole that was surrounded by black markings. His reiatsu began to increase even further, further than Rukia had thought was possible and as it increased, Ichigo's body began to change.
Two large horns sprouted from his head as his teeth grew into large fangs. Red markings appeared over his face, giving it an animalistic appearance. His feet elongated, the claws become long and sharp talons. A long white tail whipped around him, decorated with deadly spikes. Ichigo was grinning as his body changed but then he turned his head slightly and saw Rukia looking at him, fearful and scared. Ichigo's eyes widened and suddenly he straightened up, his body returning to normal.
He kept watching Rukia and when his face was human again, an unspoken question appeared in his sad eyes.
Rukia gazed at him, all fear suddenly disappearing. She realized in that moment, as she looked at him, that no matter who he was, she loved him and nothing would be able to keep them apart. Her eyes met his, filled with longing, raw emotion flickering across them and she nodded slowly.
Ichigo's eyes widened a fraction before he smiled, a warm and genuine smile. That same smile seemed to fill Rukia up with happiness and she smiled back at him.
The two stood like that for a moment, ignoring the world around them. All that mattered to them were each other. But then Ichigo heard a sound and turned in shock to see Yamamoto appear in front of him. "Too late boy," He said and he struck Ichigo with one hand, the force of the block sending him into the ground.
Rukia gasped in horror and stood there, frozen as she watched the dust clear revealing Ichigo's battered form. His wings were a tattered and bloody mess, his face barely recognizable under the deep cuts. Shiro, who was fighting another angel, turned and saw Ichigo battered form. "Ichi!" He screamed, ignoring the pain of his own injuries as he raced through the air. Numerous angels struck at him but he kept flying. Nothing mattered except getting to his brother. In moments he was by Ichigo's side, his eyes furious. He turned to Yamamoto and screamed at him "Look what you did, you idiot!" He tried to rush towards him but he was too weak as well, blood pouring from his many wounds. "Damn.." He said before he collapsed to the ground.
Rukia finally felt control of her body come back to her and she rushed over, falling to her knees at Ichigo's side. "Ichigo.." She whispered to him, tears filling her eyes but even though he was still breathing, he didn't respond.
Shiro looked across at her in surprise, wondering if she was going to attack him but then he realized who she was and he smiled at her, his demonic eyes lighting up. "He loves you a lot" He said softly before his head rolled to one side, his chest no longer moving up and down. He was dead.
Rukia's eyes widened a fraction, shocked that Ichigo's brother had died. "Thank you" She said softly to him, knowing that he couldn't hear her. Then she stood up and whirled to face Yamamoto, anger clear on her face. "You.." She said furiously, holding one hand out in front of her.
Yamamoto watched her, slightly amused. "And what do you plan to do, angel?"
Rukia's eyes narrowed and her wings glowed brightly before shattering into a million piece. "Mae.." She said softly, letting her body rise up into the air. She spun around, a soft light coming from her and her eyes grew unfocused as she concentrated. Her black hair swirled around her head and suddenly, a brilliantly white sword formed in her hand, the white ribbon attached to its hilt swirling around her. Pure white reiatsu began to swirl and Rukia felt the power building up inside of her.
The sword began to emit a pure light, so bright that everyone who was watching had to turn away. "…Sode No Shirayuki."
Yamamoto's eyes widened and he flung up his hands to shield himself from the pure light that was overflowing from the sword. He resisted it but it slowly began to push him back, one step at a time.
But then the light disappeared and Rukia looked down in shock as the sword in her hand shattered into million's of pieces, falling to the ground. She looked up in despair. "No.." She said softly "I'm not powerful enough."
The angel closed her eyes as she saw Yamamoto start to walk towards her. "I'm sorry Ichigo." She said softly as she waited for the final blow.
But after a moment, she opened one eye, wondering why it was taking so long and she gasped with happiness. "Ichigo!" The orange-haired teen was standing in front of her, arms spread wide. Blood dripped from him and it was obvious that he was in pain but he masked it well and stared at Yamamoto in defiance.
"I won't let you kill her." He said calmly and Rukia felt something warm bloom inside of her.
Yamamoto studied the two of them for a moment and then nodded. "I can see that you have grown attached to this angel." He said wisely "Very well. I will honour your wish. She will not be harmed and she will be absolved of her sins if you willingly die."
Rukia gasped in horror. "No! I won't let him." Then she turned to face Ichigo and seeing the determined look in his eyes, pleaded to him. "Please don't do this."
But Ichigo paid no attention to her and instead nodded. "Very well." He breathed in slowly, preparing for the final blow.
Yamamoto raised his hand and struck Ichigo with all of his power. He fell to the ground but Rukia softened his fall with her wings. She held his body in her arms, eyes filling with tears. "Ichigo..Ichigo!"
Yamamoto watched her and sighed. He knew that it was over. No one could survive an attack like that but he let Rukia stay with the devil as he was going to die in soon anyway.
Rukia sobbed quietly and gently shook him. "Ichigo! Come on! You can't die."
Ichigo looked up at her and a small smile appeared on his face but the wounds were too much and he began to shudder uncontrollably as they took their toll. Rukia held him close until his shudders ceased and Ichigo said softly. "Rukia.." He reached up with one clawed hand and lightly touched her face, wiping away her tears. I always loved you and I'm truly sorry for lying to you. Please tell Keigo and the others for me that.." He began to cough violently, blood seeping out the corner of his mouth.
Rukia's eyes widened. He doesn't know, she thought sadly but she couldn't bring herself to tell him. He had already suffered enough loss. So instead she nodded to him, tears spilling over her cheeks. "I will. I'll tell them." She slipped her fingers into his hand and held it close, relishing in its warmth. "Ichigo.."She sobbed quietly. "I'm sorry for saying that I hated you. I never did. I always loved you." She lowered her head and brushed her lips against his. They stayed like that for a while until Rukia broke the kiss.
She looked down at him, a smile appearing on her face. "Don't worry Ichigo. You're not going to die. I won't let you."
Ichigo looked up at her, his eyes widening slightly before he smiled back at her. She seemed so confident, so sure that he was not going to die. But he knew otherwise. He could already feel his life slipping away from him. "Rukia.." His voice was barely a whisper as his vision began to go dark. "I love you." His grip in her hands became weaker as he fought to stay alive.
Rukia shook her head, clutching his hand tighter. "No.." She whispered softly, crystalline tears falling onto his face.
Ichigo moved his hand and lightly touched her face one more. A serene expression came over him. "I love you." And then the light in his eyes flickered before dying out, his head rolling limply to the side. It was finally over.
A ragged scream tore through the silence, filled with unspeakable pain as the rain began to fall.
It was over.
The devil was dead.
It is said that in times of need, God sends an angel of help
But what if that angel was the one in need?