So, this is the end of this story. I'm thankful to those who have read this story all the way through to the end. I hope you enjoy the final chapter of "A Rose That Won't Bloom".
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or its characters.
Byakuya Kuchiki's zanpakuto, Senbonzakura, fell to the ground. As the blade plunged into the earth at Captain Kuchiki's feet, multiple swords of enormous proportion raised around Tousen. Renji knew the fearsome power of his captain's Bankai, having only narrowly survived it before when he'd fought Captain Kuchiki once. He could only watch as the giant blades shattered and swarmed Kaname Tousen. There was no chance of escape. The battle would be won here and now. Renji only wished he could have been able to fulfill Kagami's dying wish.
Tousen was impaled by millions of sword pieces in the next instant. His blood seemed to explode out of his body, raining down and staining the white clothes he wore. As Senbonzakura returned to its original form in Captain Kuchiki's hand, Tousen fell to the ground with a sickening thud. His attire was nearly entirely crimson from his own blood. Much to Renji and Ikkaku's surprise, the traitor was still alive. Ikkaku stared down at Tousen with a slight scowl; his fun in the battle had been lost. Rather than stand around, he left to fight more of the Hollows and Arrancar that were still attacking. Renji looked to his captain, a bit confused as to why he wasn't finishing Tousen off. Instead, Captain Kuchiki sheathed Senbonzakura as he stared at the pitiful, barely living form that was once the proud Kaname Tousen
"I leave the rest to you, Lieutenant Abarai," Captain Kuchiki said as he walked away, taking the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi with him.
Renji pulled Zabimaru into its sealed form, making it look like a regular katana again, and sheathed it as well. He knelt down and picked up the broken tip of Kagami's zanpakuto. Tousen could only watch as Renji walked towards his defenseless form.
"This is for Kagami," Renji growled and plunged the broken blade into Tousen's heart. Finally, it was over.
Once Tousen had been taken out, disposing of the Arrancar and Hollows was a simple matter. There had been attacks at the other gates, but none as large as at the East. Now, the battle was over and the war against the Arrancar was finally won. All that was left to do was take care of the wounded and count the number dead.
Renji couldn't move at first.
He could only stand between the two splotches of bloodied soil. One marked the death of Kaname Tousen; the other marked the sacrifice of Kagami Okasawa. Renji still held the bloody, broken blade that had once been Kagami's kodachi. His palm sported a thin slice from gripping the blade too hard when he killed Tousen. He didn't bother to wrap it yet. All he could do was stare down at the ground where Kagami had died for him. Hours later, that was where Kira found him.
"What happened to Kagami?" the blond asked apprehensively. He was afraid he already knew the answer, but was praying he was wrong.
"I couldn't save her," Renji mumbled, a scowl pulling at his lips. "That stupid idiot got herself killed because of me!"
"She took an attack for me. It killed her." Kira sighed heavily and noticed the broken sword in Renji's hand, as well as the blood dripping from the tip.
"She must have known the cost. She spoke to Hinamori and me before the fight."
"She said she couldn't lose me too," Renji growled. Even now, he didn't understand the significance of those words. Why had Kagami said them?
"Kagami protected the people she cared about," Kira answered. "I wasn't supposed to tell you this, but she loved you." Renji's eyes widened and he finally tore his gaze away from Kagami's blood on the ground. He now stared at Kira, shocked by his statement.
"What?" It was all he could utter. Kira's eyes averted, falling to the place Renji had previously been staring at.
"Kagami would often confide in me, especially when we were in the Soul Reaper Academy. She told me she loved you."
Renji finally let the broken zanpakuto fall from his hand and land on the ground with a harsh clattering noise. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Kagami had died to save him… because she had loved him. Her final act had been to protect the one she loved. Renji felt that uncomfortable, empty hole in his gut again and rested a hand on his stomach. There, he could feel Kagami's dried blood, stiff on his shihakusho.
"Dammit," he growled, his hands clenching into fists. "Dammit!"
"You should go and rest," Kira suggested carefully, afraid to further upset the Sixth Division lieutenant. Reluctantly, Renji left the battlefield, but took both pieces of Kagami's broken sword with him.
Once in the Sixth Division barracks, Renji had his hand wrapped and returned to his room. There was no point in going to the Fourth Division for such a minor injury. Many Soul Reapers needed much more immediate attention. Renji took the two pieces of Kagami's zanpakuto and carefully set them on the small table beneath his picture from the Academy days. For a moment, he wished he could have gone back to those times again. It was a time when Rukia was still his best friend, Hinamori hadn't been betrayed by Aizen, Kira wasn't depressed and Kagami was alive. Life was less complicated then.
With a heavy sigh, Renji grabbed the stack of paperwork from the mission and left his room. He had a report to write, complete with Kagami's involvement. It was only right that her final days were spent working to protect the people she cared about. That was just how Kagami was, Renji figured. She'd cuss you out and be a smartass, but at the end of the day, she would lay her life down for you. She'd done it for Hisagi in the Academy, and he'd done it for Renji just before her death. Renji sighed heavily as he tucked the paperwork beneath his arm and headed towards his office.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this. To be honest, I was actually going to be very cruel and leave a cliffhanger that would never be fulfilled because I wasn't going to be writing a sequel... Gin was going to escape Maggot's Nest. Luckily for you guys, I decided to cut it at the last minute and just leave you with that final, parting paragraph of Renji leaving to tell Kagami's story.
Please R&R. I would love to hear what you all thought of the story as a whole.