OMG! I found my t-shirt! I'm so happppyyyyy! It turns out it was in my sister's drawers.. But I swear I looked there more than I looked in my own drawers! GAARR! Foolish sister of mine shall face the icy wrath of lil shiro chan… (Hyourinmaru sayz: RAWR.)

OMG THIS IS THE LAST CHAPTER! 50 CHAPTERS! It's kind of strange cuz I always wondered how a fan fiction writer can be dedicated enough to write like… 30 chapter stories… and now this is 50... I'm like in shock… I never used to be able to stick with a story for this long..

Through the few weeks that followed the decision concerning Hitsugaya's fate, time blurred, each day passing without any events, and left Toshiro with an aching apprehension of the day he could fully stay on his feet. While he was making a steady yet slow recovery, the days he spent around Hinamori, Matsumoto, Ukitake, and Ichimaru felt like they should never end. Even as the boy would never admit it, he wanted more than anything to return to his life as a Captain. There were several times, when he spoke to Momo and the others, that he almost forgot about the past tragedies, and there were several instances that he could almost say he was content.

But memories are a heavy burden, and any slight feelings of content were washed away with one look at the state of his own body.

Anyone who was around him, however, was very cautious with what they said. In all of the various discussions that where exchanged between Hitsugaya (though the boy usually contributed little to the conversation) and those he considered friends, everyone was careful not mention the past or the future. At the slightest hint concerning the man who had brought the boy such misery, Toshiro's expression would only darken, and the boy would become even more silent.

As for Ichigo, the teenager had been forcefully made to go back to his home, mostly by the reminders of Rukia that he had school to attend, a few days after the decision had been made. However, much to Toshiro's annoyance, the teenager promised to visit the Soul Society more often in the future, and wouldn't miss a chance to check up on Toshiro. The boy had rebutted angrily, insisting that the teenager was not his friend and had no responsibility to do such a thing.

As usual, Ichigo brushed the comment aside, his heart fully set on keeping an eye on Toshiro whenever he could spare the time.

Every day over the passing weeks, Toshiro found himself able to stay on his feet longer and longer, though he was not allowed out of the squad four barracks, and there always had to be someone by his side each time he left the room. This served as a minor annoyance to the boy, but he didn't allow that to show. All he could do was silently accept the treatment given to him, and continue as though he was alone, as he so wished to be.

Eventually, however, the boy knew his recovery was complete enough for his departure. The day came, exactly two weeks after the announcement, when a few guards entered the room and the boy was led out, once more wearing the full uniform of a soul reaper, though without his captain's haori, until he could finally taste fresh air once more.

The walk from the squad four barracks to the Seireitei's west gate wasn't very long, though the area was surprisingly empty. Even though the road was clear, however, the boy could almost feel the stares of the citizens of the Seireitei on his back, from whatever windows or corners they hid behind.

"Hey, Toshiro…" Ukitake's face was long as the boy approached the gate where the man and a few others stood.

The boy stopped in front of the group, and his eyes immediately fell to Hinamori, whose eyes were red and brimmed with tears. By her side, Rangiku held her emotions back much more effectively, though the sorrow in her eyes was still heavily evident. Ichimaru stood by her shoulder, a small frown cut into his expression. Even Renji and Rukia had come out for a final goodbye.

"So then… I suppose now is the time." Ukitake heaved a sigh at his own words, and the sympathetic gaze he offered was not welcome to Toshiro's even icier demeanor. He despised their pity more than anything else.

As Ukitake stepped forward, he drew a long, purple sheathed zanpaktou from his robes and held it out to the boy, who merely stared at it curiously.

"I thought… it was protocol for a zanpaktou to be destroyed when a soul reaper is exiled." The boy mumbled dully.

The captain raised his eyebrows. "Toshiro, you're going to go up against Aizen! Even the Head Captain couldn't deny that you'll need this."

After blinking a few times, the boy took Hyourinmaru with a nod, trying to not think about the truth of Ukitake's statement. He just didn't want to think about Aizen at all.

"We're not supposed to take long. I'm sorry Toshiro, but you have to leave."

Toshiro nodded softly, and turned to the gate.

Before anything could happen, however, he felt two pairs of arms wrapped around him and immediately was surrounded by a sudden warmth. Looking up, he found himself in the arms of the two women he cared for most. Rangiku, thankfully, had embraced him from behind, and Hinamori was right in front of him, burying her face in his silvery hair as her tears fell.

Toshiro, usually uncomfortable with others in such close proximity, for once took comfort in the warmth, knowing full well he would be around them nearly as often as he used to. Even when Rangiku finally pulled away, now shedding tears of her own, Momo remained, and Toshiro couldn't help but return the tight hug,

The group was almost incapable of finding any words to give to the boy, nothing seemed to be strong enough to emphasize their wish for his well being, but as Momo stepped back, trying desperately to wipe away her tears, Ichimaru advanced and put a finger to Toshiro's forehead.

The boy gave the older shinigami a confused glare, but Gin merely touched the area just above Toshiro's left eyebrow and smiled a little weakly.

"Sorry about that." The man said softly, referring to the incident between them that had happened before Aizen had even betrayed the Soul Society. The event seemed so insignificant and had been nothing compared to all that happened afterwards, and Toshiro might've given a grim smile at the comment had he not been in such a foul position.

"It's nothing." the boy responded, pulling away from Gin and walking further towards the gate.

Ukitake, seeing that the boy only wanted to get the goodbyes over with, rapped on the gate several times and called for Jidanbo.

Slowly, the heavy gate opened, revealing a small Rukongai town, and the giant Soul Reaper who now heaved open the west gate. The giant's eyes widened a little when a saw the small soul reaper.

"Hitsugaya?…. I heard that you…" The huge man's words were less upbeat than usual, and he almost sounded sad, remembering the small friendship the two had shared when the boy was growing up.

Toshiro looked up at the giant, but found himself at a loss of words. Eventually, all he could do was try to stop himself from revealing the sadness that came rushing at him. He merely tore his eyes from the friends who were now behind him, and focused on placing one foot in front of the other.

"Hey, Toshiro!" Renji took a final opportunity to shout the only words he could find. "You better take care of yourself!"

The boy turned back to look at the lieutenant, his gaze somewhat incredulous.

"If you don't, Ichigo's gonna flip out on us all!" An obnoxiously large grin had spread across Renji's face, and he gave a small wave.

Toshiro's eye twitched, until he finally, for some unfathomable reason, found himself shouting back.

"If that idiot comes back, tell him to mind his own business!"

At that, added to the mixture of anger and confusion that made up the boy's expression, Rangiku burst into laughter. It wasn't long until all of the goodbye group were either laughing or had a weak smile, and Toshiro could only stare back in annoyance, though he couldn't help but notice his shoulders felt lighter.

"We'll come and visit as soon as possible, Lil' Shiro!" Momo yelled loudly as Jidanbo began to close the gate.

The boy opened his mouth to complain over her usage of words, but he gave up, and a very small smile of his own came to his expression, even though it only lasted until the large gates closed between them.

Not too many hours later, Momo sat, staring out a small window from her room in squad five. Though the boy had left with a small smile on his face, she knew it wasn't long lasted. He still had a world of despair to face ahead of him, as if he hadn't already been through enough.

Momo silently wondered if he would ever smile again.

Somewhere far off, deep into the forests of the Rukongai, beyond every village and settlement, a lone man bent forward by a tree. His fingers bled ceaselessly as he held a katana in his hands by the blade. The man's brown eyes were wide, filled with either very strong confusion or insanity, as he muttered incoherently.

The man gripped the blade tighter and tighter, until it cut it his bone. But Sousuke Aizen didn't feel any of it.

Kyoka Suigetsu, the man's only guide, was gone, and with out the comfort of his zanpaktou to ease the shock of defeat, Aizen's state of mind had slipped far beyond his normal behavior.

One eligible word found its way onto the man's lips. One word. One name.


Okay, there. I added some Aizen fun. Having him go nuts is extremely difficult to do while keeping in character for the change. I think I did a bad job of it. I'm sorry…

I believe I owe the length of this story to all to you wonderful readers … whether you've reviewed or anything, the fact that so many people (I think I'm sounding arrogant here) have enjoyed my story makes me very happy and willing to continue it… thus it just ends up going on and on and on and on…. I shouldn't be giving this little speech though, THIS IS NOT GOODBYE! I still have an entire sequel to write! I have posted information concerning my plans for upcoming stories on my profile, and I have dates and everything there if you want to know when I'll probably start the sequel. My one-shot will be coming out very soon.

Now then, since I am pretty bored, I'm gonna write a part of the sequel, that, for some reason, I like, and give you a preview of what it's gonna be like!

*Akite stared, his dark blue eyes wide, at the bloody scene before him. Blinking several times, he slowly adjusted his eyes to the moonlit clearing, disbelieving of the situation.

"It's him, Akite, this bastard is the one who killed your family." Domoji's voice twisted into a spiteful curse as he reached down, grabbing the collar of the shinigami at his feet. Blood splattered to the forest floor as Domoji planted his foot into the stomach of the boy below him. The crimson substance trickled down the chin of the boy, but he didn't make a sound.

Enraged, Domoji's finely built muscles stretched as he brought the boy to his knees by the collar. Akite could only stare, shocked and barely comprehending the true nature of the person before him, as the small boy slowly opened his eyes.

This boy… The teal that was revealed as the boy's eyes opened rested upon Akite, in a silent gaze that reminded him so much of that night, several months ago. This boy is a murderer.

The boy's gaze lingered on Akite, almost as if he was only vaguely curious of the other shinigami, but not reflecting any fear in the least. Those eyes, the eyes of Toshiro Hitsugaya, empty and dark, buried more remorse and despair than Akite could ever fathom.*

I should say, there's technically a whole village of OCs, but that's just what it has to be. That's really one of the few parts of the story that's seen from Akite's eyes. And the whole thing with OCs is only one part of the sequel... Anyway, look forward to the sequel, and thanks for reading!