A/N: This is a very short summary of the original ending of the story. From the very beginning, the ending had been cemented in my mind. But around halfway through writing the ending seemed to shift and change until something entirely different had been chosen. But I was in love with this ending, and even though no one seems to be too interested in it, I'm going ahead and posting a summary of it, as well as the very last scene, which I had written back in June.

"The Noble Sort: Alternate"

Instead of being freed by Central to return to shinigami service, Minako is imprisoned for her actions in the human world. Her imprisonment starts a string of actions—Akane leaves silently in the night, fleeing to the States to meet up with Rin and Mori to start a new life. She contacts Kenta, Isamu, and Chouko to let them know what has happened, and they immediately put into place Plan B.

While waiting on her rescue, Minako refuses any visitors to her cell. This means the few she gets—namely, Ukitake—say their part and then leave. Soon, Kenta and Isamu, both former members of the Kidō Corps., sneak in, break her out, and head to Rukongai. Her uncle sends three divisions after her but makes it known he is not entirely set on having her back in jail. He believes the only way he can help her is by letting her leave. Kyouraku congratulates him on finally having learned how to break the rules when needed.

The Eighth, Tenth, and Thirteenth are sent. The Eighth does nothing but patrol without any intent of bringing her back. The Tenth and the Thirteenth halfheartedly try to find her though, with Ukitake eventually capturing her before she can make it to the gate the boys have opened.

They have a long conversation, settling everything between them, and he is at first set on taking her back, trying to win her freedom legitimately. But he eventually lets her go after she pleads for her freedom. Minako makes it to the human world.

She is reunited with old friends briefly as she hides, trying to organize an escape from Japan. Finally she does leave, although she sends her uncle videos, pictures, and a letter through Yoruichi before she does so to thank him and explain how to find her in case he needs her in the future.

The letter also contains her messages to Nanao, Isane, Kyouraku, and Ukitake, who are happy she is free but upset at how things have turned out.

Minako returns to her old lifestyle as a defect shinigami.

The original final scene of the story takes place almost four months after this.

Four Months Later

The shop wasn't anything like what she had expected. It was bright and glowing in the late evening sun, no brighter than anything else on the Reno streets but different as well. While everyone else was selling sin, the store advertised hiking gear, skis, snowboards. All important items in the early winter near Lake Tahoe.

She could see Akane's brown hair—the girl looked good although the red hair was missed—through the large glass window. She was smiling, laughing with a customer as she tried to sell him a snowboard. Akane was a brilliant saleswoman, Minako knew; she would make the sale.

Minako smiled from the sidewalk across from the store. The girl was doing well. There was a brief tug, a wish to go to see her, but she knew she couldn't.

Akane wasn't being hunted. They had let her leave, the sou-taichou literally forming a wall of protection around the girl much like he had for the Visoreds. She was unknown here, safe with Rin and Mori's protection and knowledge of the human world.

It felt more like leaving a child than it should, but it was the only thing she could give her to keep her safe.

She looked down at the brown dog next to her, his gigai making him look like a nondescript Great Dane. His tongue was lolling out as he doggy-grinned, although she knew he was upset at leaving the girl behind as well.

But sometimes they had to do things they didn't want to do.

She silently whispered her goodbyes before turning and heading on down the street. She could catch a taxi near one of the larger casinos up ahead, then head to the airport and get going. She had everything she needed in her pack to set up a new life in Brazil.

She had been there once, with Matsu, when they were on their way to Argentina. It was a beautiful country, with enough rural space and hidden areas that she could make a new life without anyone ever getting even the barest hint of where she was.

Brazil was freedom.

"How much Portuguese do you know, shishi?" she asked lightheartedly, meandering down the road while she tugged on his leash.

I know only what you learned—how to find a bathroom, an airport, a hotel, and food.

"Hmm…can't be too different from Spanish. I guess we'll find out when we get there," she murmured, her mind already drifting to the house they would have to set up, the people they might meet, the new land they could come to call home.

She would see Akane again. Shinigami in the human world always had need of each other. It wouldn't be long before someone put her back on the network and friendships, old alliances, were reestablished.

She may even have a reason one day to return to Seireitei, to see all the people she had left behind there as well. Pale hair above warm, copper eyes floated in front of her vision and she genuinely smiled for the first time in a very long time.

She looked forward to it.