Heart and Soul, Steel and Iron - Enigma. This is the final chapter of Colors of the World. Thanks for everyone that reviewed, favorited, subscribed, whatever. I hope it comes to your satisfaction. Any complaints? Epilogue? Enjoy!


HEART & SOUL – STEEL & IRON {ENIGMA}

It was, in all honesty and perspective, a routine search. A routine Hollow. The forested park floor filled itself with vibrant leaves and flowers of spring. The entire area spun as you would expect upon coming off of a spinning object. Leaves fluttered down with their blossoms, the swirl of colors making a pink, green and brown mix. The Hollow roared angrily, disturbed by the presence of the Soul Reaper, launching itself out of the grove to her right. Every step it took, the sound of glass shattering burned through her ears. No one, no human, walked through the area at that point.

Odd. Strange. Peculiar as it was, she paid no heed to it, dodging the Hollow easily, Zanpakuto lifted out of it's sheath. Another Hollow ripped through the brush, much smaller. Compared to anything in reality, it would be the size of a Mastiff K9. It shrieked, stomping down on two spring-jointed legs and charging with it's raptor-like mouth agape. It's aid, a monster taller than a one story home, clashed against the earth and ran like a bear, tail of a fox and face of a moose.

The largest one suddenly vanished, inches from being cut away by her Zanpakuto. The second, smaller beast jumped high, above her head by several feet.

Everything flashed, glass shattering in her eyes and the sharp points of each shard pressed into her pupil. Smacking the ground hard, eyes blooded by whatever it was, she scraped at them, sword forgotten. Again the sound of glass shattering rung by. An image of the window from the ship in Argovia flashed over in her mind, somewhere in her subconscious. In reality, the large Hollow towered behind her, hissing a low beat and tapping its large hand to the ground. The smaller of the two stood over her, foot pressed in the middle of her chest, claws reaching up to the base of her neck. Both stared down harshly, observing the blood rushing from the sliced pupils.

Again, the hallucination of glass shattering rung through her ears. Anri kept nearly silent, gasping for breath and hands pressed up against the organs. A slap of cold water hit her. It felt equal to that of when her father pushed her out of the ship's window, the same pins and needles feeling rocketed up and down her entire body. The flush of numb appendages came into feeling. Her spirit energy whipped around from a spike to a shallow, nearly gone source.

Sam's body floated just above her line of sight, as if envisioning him inch to the surface and being pulled up by that mysterious woman. Then, the hands latched onto her body, a golden flame licking the skin she touched. The moment Anri broke the water, she saw the eyes of the woman. Hollow, empty like the parasites they battled and with the vine like vessels protruding out of the socket. The woman sneered, teeth bone white and razor sharp. At the size of needles, there must have been a few hundred lining her mouth.

Then the image was of a television screen and a reporter by the bodies of her father and Taro's. The man kept talking into the microphone, his voice empty of sound. But as if the barrier broke away, she could hear him.

"Conclusions of the Argovian crash are still unconfirmed. Officials say there is no way the ice would have been thick enough to make such gouging marks in the side of the ship. So now we wonder, what caused this magnificent work of art to collapse and the people," he paused to move to the side and give a better view of the bodies, "to suffer such an extraordinary fate?"

The two hollows howled, the larger one laughing at the motionless Soul Reaper, blood tears trailing down and pooling in her hair and ears. Head lolled to the side, her fingers lay still, the Zanpakuto silently resting on the ground a few feet away. The smaller, raptor like Hollow crooned, size suddenly increasing and body becoming a vast shadow. It stood, for an instant, a height taller than the Empire State Building. Then, in the same instant, it shrunk back down. The smallest one trailed away, the larger wrapping it's teeth around Anri and walking in the opposite direction.

Narugen, quivering, closed itself away with it's yellow spirit energy, dissipating into the air. As if a television lost it's connection for a moment, the screen sharding out black, several humans appeared, the rest of the world continuing about it's business. The trees stopped swirling and the leaves ceased to dance. A light quarrel of music sung out from a vendor, children laughing at the strange shapes on magician made and how he had the cards reappear behind their parents' ears.

Ichigo tapped his fingers impatiently as he waited for Rukia. She reappeared from the Soul Society and had spent the day at school with him. Renji also followed suit, doing the same.

"Come on, I don't have all day!"

"Quiet, fool, I am merely getting my work together!" He sighed.

"You have no work, this is your first day!"

"Whatever! What's your rush anyway?" Renji broke in, staring his friend down.

"I need to go to Urahara's place. I want to know how it went at the park today."

"Why, did he do something?"

"Not crazy, I hope." Rukia added.

"No, A-" His voice cut off. Ichigo frowned, feet stopping his movement.

"What?"

"I can't remember now." Rukia glared at him, smacking her bag into his stomach.

"What the hell was that for?"

"What do you mean, you don't remember?" She huffed, stomping ahead, "Let's just go."

It was rather odd arriving at the Urahara Shop. Sitting with Tessai and the two kids in the back, the store owner ignored them almost entirely. Before them, a television screen lite up the somewhat dark room.

"What are you doing, Kisuke?" Rukia asked, quirking an eyebrow.

"We're watching something quite fascinating, actually. You do recall the Argovian Wreckage that happened some time ago, yes?"

Ichigo nodded, unsure.

"Yes, well, apparently, they are now unsure of how it sank in the first place. More so, they are concerned about the gashes in the side of the ship and how they were made." The TV showed a close up of one side of the ship – speared and shredded. Renji squinted for a better look.

"If I'd have anything to say about it, it looks a lot like a-"

"A Hollow's marks." Ichigo finished. "Why would there be a Hollow in a place like that?"

"That is the question, is it not?" His signature fan waved back and forth, "I believe it might have had something to do with the passengers. Perhaps they all had some spirit energy?"

"That's insane." Renji said, "There's no way that many spiritually away humans would all just happen to be in one location."

"But I think there were!" He sang, "Because I also don't believe a Hollow would be out in the middle of a freezing ocean with no human souls around."

"It would have had to be a pretty big Hollow." Ichigo muttered, "Something doesn't feel right about this at all."

"Right. Aside from that, Kisuke, what were you doing in the park today?" Rukia accused.

"I was doing absolutely nothing! I have been here the entire day, right kids?" Ururu nodded, Jinta snorted and continued to watch the screen.

"Forget what I said, I'm going home." Ichigo turned and walked out the door, "Do I need to save dinner for you, Rukia?" She shook her head. The teen shrugged, walking away.

The walk was silent aside from his footsteps. Something didn't seem quite right. He couldn't even think of the ending to that sentence he said earlier, and that in itself aggravated him. Stopping at the corner to his street, he came face to face with a raptor Hollow. Unlike the others, it didn't have a distinctive mask. At most, it's face was painted white, but it's eyes held black holes, vessels protruding from the space. It's neck craned and head propped to the side with a noise of curiosity.

Ichigo felt as though he head the sound of glass shattering and the whistle of water rushing down toward him. However, either failed to appear in his line of vision. It hissed at him, walking backwards several feet, but finally calming, vaporizing into a black smoke that quickly vanished. What was left – Ichigo grasped onto a sudden, empty feeling.

"Ichigo!" Yuzu waved from their door, "Dinner is ready, hurry!" His body teetered. A few screams from his sister, then sister's, and the rush of heavy footsteps, and he collapsed.

His fingers ran through the strands of hair, entwining themselves and print pressed to the scalp of whoever he held. It felt so real, his forehead pressed against another, warmth radiating to him. However, in a burst of alertness, his body flung forward and he awoke to reality.

"Ichigo are you okay?" Yuzu cried, yanking on his free hand, the other twirled in his hair.

"I'm fine Yuzu, just a bit tired." His father walked in, wrapped up in his doctor's coat.

"I've diagnosed you with exhaustion." His father said, hand suddenly flinging out, grasping his son's hair and slamming his forehead into Ichigo's, "What are you that made this happen, my son?"

"Dad piss off, I didn't do anything!" They argued, Karin sighing in relief at the doorway.

"Come on Yuzu, let's go eat." The blonde nodded, skipping out and away from a punch. Ichigo tossed his father against the wall.

"I'm going to eat!"

"Then eat you shall!"

"The hell does that mean?"

"My son, you must be strong!" Rivers of tears ran down, his father pouncing up, face planting into the wall behind his son.

"Get the hell away from me!"

"Oh my son, why are you so cruel?" Ichigo swore, stomping down the hallway and sitting in his chair at the kitchen table, food already set in front of him.

"Thanks, Yuzu." With a sound of approval, they all began eating, ignoring the painful sliding of their father across the floor, dragging himself to the chair.

"Why me!" He whined, mouth full of rice.

"Pipe down old man!" He stood, eyes shut with a growing irritation, and trotted up the stairs.

"I'm taking dinner in my room!" He ignored the commotion downstairs and set the bowl down, resting on his bed, eyes still closed. His mind drew a blank for the empty feeling he had, obviously food did nothing to cease it's existence. Though he felt it was a problem, the thought of exhaustion again in the morning waved the thoughts and Ichigo fell asleep.

Ichigo left for school, traveling on the same, ingrained route he took every morning. At the last stretch of path, his uneasy feeling vanished, the entire area consumed with a warm, butterfly feeling. For once, he felt completely at ease. He yawned, mind drifting elsewhere. The Soul Society was unusually quiet so that meant he had plenty of time to just be normal. Other than that, his friends sometimes visited, as Rukia currently is. He continued forward, stopped by a hand jumping out and grasping his pant leg.

A young boy with blonde hair and very bright blue eyes had ran up to him. By the skin tone, this child obviously was of a western descent. His small fingers curled around Ichigo's pants, tugging on the fabric with a bright smile. Another child, a girl with brown hair and small pig tails ran up beside him.

"Sam, what are you doing?" The little girl asked, eyes apart from Ichigo's. His body flooded with warmth, the little boy's hand bringing his body to a relaxed posture.

"Don't we know him from somewhere?"

"Don't be silly, Sam, we can't talk to strangers! Remember that Daddy said?"

"Yeah, but we know him from somewhere!"

Her eyes finally landed on his. Ichigo smiled a bit, feeling awkward with the two young ones at his feet, little bodies practically clinging to either of his legs. The little girl cracked a wide smile, similar to that of her friend.

"Oh, I remember you!" He could suddenly understand the young foreign child. She dropped her broad smile to one of almost sympathy or something a mother would make if their child was hurt in some minor way.

"Ichigo Kurosaki." She said it in such a way of familiarity, his mind flashed to a moment he no longer could truly remember, a moment where they lay in his bed, muttering a small, quiet argument. Their words were inaudible, but he felt as though it truly happened.

"You don't remember me, but I remember you." Her hand lifted up, Sam's smile dropping to one of a knowing smirk. "I remember you from many experiences." Her voice sounded older, "But I don't remember what they were." And the smile moved back to that of a child's.

"Thank you, Ichigo!" She cried out, teeth gleaming and still small, grasping Sam's wrist and skipping passed him. The entire time, she continued to thank him. The blonde boy skipped along, smiling but saying nothing. Their eyes never turned back, and the moment he turned away, his didn't either. His eyes, instead, met those of his friends, waiting just a few yards up the paved path.

The empty void felt warm and full again, disappearing from his mind and body. He waved to Orihime and the others, half jogging away. The little kids ran down the road, opposite, excitedly jumping into their fathers' arms and being taken away. Carter and William laughed with each other, the kids quietly grasping their sleeves.


Finally! 70 chapters plus a few more! Do you understand?

She, like everyone else that remembered, disappeared, though not exactly went insane. It happens to even the best of us! Still, she pretty much had a happy ending.

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