This War's Not Over: Chapter 26
The Inner-Outer Battle
Hey everyone, fellow readers, fellow authors!
Welcome to the final chapter of this fic! I'm so sad to see it go by so quickly. *sobs* I thought this fic went pretty well… But not to worry, I have a chapter of my new fic all written up and ready to be updated!
I hope everyone enjoys this last one. I'll try and make it good. ;)
Let's start us off with two flashbacks—just a brief reminder of previous chapters that will explain the ending.
"Silence!" Rukia's brother shouted. "You are nothing but ice that shatters when it is stepped on."
Rukia retreated, humiliated to the corner's of her prison due to the transfer of her powers to Ichigo.
But she knew now how wrong Nii-sama was. For she was not ice. She was snow, and snow does not shatter when it is stepped on.
Rukia staggered upwards, but as she did so, light headedness took over and she crashed back down to the ground. As he approached her, she realized she was completely helpless against him. Like a lamb. And the reason why he had gone easy on her for this long was unknown to her.
But now, he designated the frozen array of buildings, his golden eyes cold and filled with bitterness. "Look at this place! When King trips into despair, his world usually fills with water. But now, there is only ice, this form of water that will not disappear and remains glued to the buildings, preventing any growth! It is so easy to break that Aizen can shatter it with his own hands."
Rukia had finally had enough time to stand up now, taking one last desperate step forwards, trying over and over again.
"If you let me heal you, I will clear the ice from this world and cover it with snow."
Ichigo felt disturbingly good after destroying the entire palace. He could see that his father and Hiruzen had barely paused to see how suddenly exposed they were, all the walls separating them reduced to nothing.
Ichigo's red eyes widened as the Spirit King wordlessly slipped into a very very fast flashstep and flung Ichigo into a pile of rubble with his drawn sword. The blade was gold instead of an average silver zanpakuto, the hilt adorned with stones. Ichigo scrambled away as the Spirit King dove in to properly cut the teen. He ducked just in time to have a few strands of his spiky long black hair sliced off.
Anger was now evident in the Spirit King's eyes, and Ichigo didn't spare a few precious seconds revelling in it. He quickly avoided his opponent's quick onslaught of jabs, before grabbing the sword arm and tearing a good slash on his shoulder. When the wound welled up with the familiar red liquid, Ichigo's heart burst with hope. He could cut him. The Spirit King's reiatsu wasn't as terrible as he'd imagined.
"Don't get too cocky, worm," the Spirit King snarled and sliced his sword across the side of Ichigo's cheek.
The man was much faster than Ichigo had expected—it was hard to believe since his opponent had a bulkier build than the teen himself did.
"Don't kid yourself, hollow boy," his enemy's voice sounded behind him. "I'm faster than you."
Ichigo whipped around, only to have the Spirit King's zanpakuto stabbed into his front rather than his back. Ichigo gave a choking cry as the man mercilessly wrenched his weapon out of the teen's body and kicked him right where he cut him, sending him flying into a pile of debris once more.
Ichigo's lungs heaved. Dust and smoke still filled the air from the palace's destruction. He could barely breathe as blood gushed through his lungs and made its way to his throat. He coughed and spluttered as he spat out the liquid that came along with the metal tang, gagging at the taste of it. What hadn't made its appearance on the dust covered ground was trickling down his lip.
Ichigo's lips curled into a snarl as the Spirit King stood floating above him, his expression being like fighting Ichigo was some annoying chore that he shouldn't have to be dealing with. Ichigo scowled. He gripped the wound he held with his hand tighter. He hadn't felt like this ever since Aizen had told him that he was the second hogyoku.
Ichigo hated this particular emotion with all his heart. He tried not to think about it while he fought. He had to build a wall in between it and himself, like he had with Shiro. He had to divide away from it. Get it out of his system. That's what had created his hollow in the first place. But why was he feeling it now?
Ichigo shivered. Where was Shiro? He searched inside his mind, but Shiro's presence seemed no longer directed outwards to the fight—but rather, inwards. Ichigo's heart rate quickened as he tried to deal with his fear. There was nothing Ichigo hated more than fear. While Ichigo fought, Shiro had devoured most of these emotions to help Ichigo fight better. Now it seemed Shiro's control had loosened quite a bit. An odd sensation travelled through Ichigo—he wasn't quite sure what it was.
"Shiro?" he asked inside his head, feeling stupid.
There was no answer. The teen frowned when he realized a wall had been raised in his mind. Had Shiro put it there? Ichigo stood up, eyeing the Spirit King.
"What did you do?" the teen demanded, readying Zangetsu.
The Spirit King laughed. "I unsealed my zanpakuto when I stabbed you. That's what I did."
Ichigo's mind snapped back to what Aizen had told him. The Spirit King's zanpakuto enables him to enter your soul. He destroys his enemy from the inside out, breaking down their inner world.
Ichigo's eyes widened as he stared at the Spirit King. "You're inside my soul?"
The man's eyes gleamed. "My zanpakuto can easily enter it when it tastes my opponent's blood."
Ichigo cursed. What was he supposed to do now? With Shiro strangely absent and a wall in his mind, what else could Ichigo do but fight him out here? He felt betrayed. Right when Ichigo needed his hollow most, he had closed himself off to Ichigo for no apparent reason.
Ichigo flailed in his mind as he struggled against the wall. His mind snapped back to what was going on outside like a rubber band when he felt someone else trying to break the wall beside him.
The Spirit King smiled as if he was seeing something that Ichigo could not see. "Your zanpakuto spirit is very smart. It put up a barrier around your soul. But the wall is weak. I can easily crush it."
"What?" Ichigo gasped.
Had Zangetsu realized what was happening before Ichigo had? Was that why Ichigo himself had no contact with his inner world?
"If you think it's just my zanpakuto you're dealing with, then you've got another thing coming," Ichigo mumbled under his breath.
His eyes narrowed. He wasn't going to let him get in his soul. He charged at the Spirit King with all his speed, swinging his sword in a way that anyone could easily tell he was just trying to distract his opponent.
His enemy blocked every one of Ichigo's blows, his mind elsewhere. In my soul. Ichigo tried to fight off the panic. What if the barrier didn't hold? He could feel it waning this very second. Ichigo flashstepped behind the Spirit King and fired a Final Getsugatensho.
The Spirit King blinked, caught off guard by the sudden change in the rhythm of the fight. The getsugatensho hit him squarely in the right shoulder where Ichigo had first cut him. It would have blasted his arm off if the Spirit King hadn't ducked away in time.
Ichigo felt a crack in the barrier that struggled to hold within his mind. He felt his lungs start to heave again. It made Ichigo feel sick. If it was this bad now, Ichigo would probably lose consciousness if his opponent destroyed it. Aizen hadn't been kidding when he said the Spirit King would kill you from the inside out. Ichigo raced to fire one of his point blank getsugatenshos.
"Finally," the Spirit King smiled unpleasantly.
Ichigo's world exploded.
His head snapped back like he'd been punched in the face as the barrier splintered and broke. Ichigo cried in pain as the splinters seemed to bury themselves into his brain, compressing it until it exploded into a billion stars.
The Spirit King had never seen an inner world that looked so odd. He strode across the ice, noticing that it didn't slip like it should. The buildings were all tipped to one side horizontally, the sky being parallel to the Spirit King's body.
He drew his zanpakuto instinctively as he felt spirit particles being displaced behind him in the air. He blocked a thin white sword, eyes widening at the amount of malice behind it. His attacker deftly sprung around so that the Spirit King's back was facing him again. The man struggled to keep the opponent in his line of vision.
He had never seen anything like this inner world. And clearly not the inhabitants that resided here. He expected just Kurosaki Ichigo's zanpakuto to be here. But there was another being that was crouched before him, and judging by his drawn sword, the one who attacked him.
Kurosaki Ichigo? He was here? But that was impossible. The Spirit King was supposed to kill off the zanpakuto spirit of his opponent and leave their masters defenceless. Why was the master here as well?
But something was odd about the young man. The soul reaper shihakusho was bleached. His hair was bleached. His skin. Everything was white. Discoloured. Lifeless. Death itself.
The white creature stood up, a wide and anticipating grin so odd on Kurosaki Ichigo's face. But the instant its eyes came into view underneath all that long white hair, the Spirit King knew what it was.
"Hollow," the man said, his voice dripping with contempt. "What's it doing here?"
"More like what the fuck are you doing here," the hollow copy of Kurosaki Ichigo sneered, matching the contempt in the Spirit King's voice.
The man wondered why the inner hollow was here. Surely Jun had gotten rid of it and Ichigo received all of its powers? He strode less confidently now towards the hollow, the zanpakuto spirit's cloak swaying behind it. "I'm here to kill Kurosaki Ichigo's zanpakuto."
The hollow raised his sword arm, looking at Tensa Zangetsu. The cold zanpakuto's eyes of ice swept over the hollow, before he nodded tersely. And slowly Tensa Zangetsu began to fade away into the counterpart's colourless sword, slowly turning it from white to black.
The hollow's eyes gleamed as he stared down at the fully black-coloured zanpakuto he held in his hand. He laughed, his voice warbled. He finally had Ichigo's black Zangetsu. Only before had the zanpakuto refused to fight by the hollow's side. It looked like Ichigo was now being fuelled by Shiro's power, and Shiro was using Ichigo's, being consequently Zangetsu's power.
The hollow leered at the Spirit King, licking its lips in anticipation.
"Guess you'll have to kill me first."
"Ungh," Ichigo groaned as he pushed off another slate of floor tiles off of himself.
His head pounded mercilessly. Ichigo flipped himself onto his hands and knees, gasping as he began to regain his bearings. His loss of consciousness had made him crash into one of the few remaining walls of the palace that had barely withstood the blast of his getsugatensho.
As his head began to clear, yet not losing that heavy feeling, Ichigo's glare scoured the battlefield. He jumped up when he found his opponent. The Spirit King seemed awfully fascinated with something.
"Shiro," Ichigo called again. "Zangetsu?"
"Busy," came the snarling voice of his counterpart.
Ichigo relaxed a little. The wall had broken so he could still talk with the inhabitants of his inner world. "Are you…fighting him?"
"Nah, we're just having a friendly chat," Shiro spat before the clanging of swords was heard in the background.
Ichigo tensed, but he knew Shiro wouldtake care of things in his inner world. He trusted him, after all. Tensa Zangetsu was twice as strong when he had someone to wield him. The Spirit King hadn't been counting on that.
Ichigo charged at the Spirit King, deftly swinging his sword to the right; his opponent expertly blocked it, before Ichigo gave him a kick in the shoulder for payback. The Spirit King only stumbled a couple of meters away, but that was enough. Ichigo was already coming at him with a Final Getsugatensho burning on his white sword.
The teen unleashed the black and angry flames on his enemy, the ebony blast tearing up the ground and splitting it in two. Once again, the flames missed him by a couple of inches.
It was already the Spirit King's turn to attack. With his superior flashstep, his zanpakuto caught Ichigo's wrist, raking the sword up his arm. Ichigo gasped, pulling away from the fray. He almost jumped when Shiro's instant regeneration kicked in, sealing the wound in one clean sweep. Ichigo smirked at the Spirit King who stared at the healed wound sheepishly.
But this didn't put his enemy off as the Spirit King came twice as fast and twice as angry. Ichigo was on the defensive, not sure what he could really do but protect himself. How fast was this guy?
His power to enter souls is very similar to that of the Hogyoku, Ichigo. That is why you have a chance of beating him.
Shiro expertly spun tensa zangetsu by the chain as it uncoiled off his arm, before chucking it at the Spirit King. His opponent was caught off guard—this wasn't Kurosaki Ichigo's moves. It plunged into his stomach before Shiro called the sword back into his hand.
Shiro's grin stretched wide. It had been a long time since he had had visitors. Especially visitors who could fight so well. He wasn't going to let Ichigo ruin this even if it killed him. Shiro laughed in glee as he tossed the sword at the Spirit King.
This time his enemy caught it, before tugging at the zanpakuto and dragging the hollow with it. Shiro leaped over the man before he got into the Spirit King's range, flipping himself over and twisting to tear tensa zangetsu through the man's flesh.
The Spirit King had made a big mistake. Now he was entangled in tensa zangetsu's long chain, and Shiro lowered his head as he prepared himself to fire a cero from the two horns on his head.
The man gasped as it fired, shards of glass and ice flying in all directions as the red blast connected with the building they were standing on.
Shiro laughed in glee at the fireworks, and watched as the Spirit King appeared out of the smoke. The man laughed too. Shiro scowled. He didn't like it when other people laughed but him. Only he was entitled to an evil laugh.
"You cannot kill me as long as I'm still alive in the outside world," the Spirit King smiled unpleasantly.
Shiro cocked a brow. "And what if Ichigo did kill you?"
"I'd still be alive because my soul is here," the Spirit King laughed. "My zanpakuto makes it so that it is nearly impossible for you to kill me."
"Then I'll cut you up every single time you stand up again," Shiro grinned. "See how much pain you can take."
"You're welcome to see," the man smiled arrogantly.
Shiro was already gone.
Ichigo jumped, his eyes being so intent on the enemy appearing out of the smoke of his cero. "What?"
"Tensa says you need to use the Hogyoku no Getsugatensho. Now."
Ichigo frowned. "Why? I've only ever used it once! It depleted almost all my reiatsu the last time I tried it in training! What if it doesn't work? Then we're screwed."
"Aizen was right. The Hogyoku no Getsugatensho is very similar to the Spirit King's ability. But the Getsugatensho directly reaches the soul. Hell, it's a much faster way to kill somebody than to go through all his shit."
Ichigo was using the concealing smoke to catch his breath. Sweat was beading on his brow. "I can't guarantee it'll work. I never expected the Spirit King's reiatsu to be so much greater than mine—my attack might not cut through! Then we'll have no reiatsu to defend ourselves with. I can't take that risk."
"Then let Queeny and all your other stupid friends die, Kingy."
Ichigo's throat seized up before throwing all his anger at Shiro. His hollow's mocking laugh echoed across his mind. "Hit a nerve did I?"
Ichigo was about to bite back a snide reply when the Spirit King's hand wound its way around Ichigo's throat. The teen choked as he was buried into the floor, the smack against the concrete crushing his windpipe.
"You shouldn't be distracted when you're dealing with me, hollow boy," the Spirit King hissed, squeezing tighter.
He continued to squeeze as Ichigo writhed and squirmed, but his opponent kept him firmly in place. Ichigo could feel his consciousness waning as his body began to lack the air, his struggles becoming more and more feeble. Shiro was swearing all kinds of things, but they were becoming more and more distant. His hollow was right though—how could Ichigo give up without even trying? Since when had his life ever mattered when his friends were in danger anyway?
"I don't even need to kill your zanpakuto to exterminate you, runt," the Spirit King crowed.
"F-Fuck…you. Bitch," Ichigo snarled as Shiro's anger took over and the cero practically blew the Spirit King's face off if he hadn't let go of Ichigo neck.
While Ichigo wheezed for breath, the Spirit King frowned as he realized that he was making no headway in either worlds. Why was it that this brat kept fighting? Why couldn't he just die like a good boy?
"I've had enough of you soul reaper runts trying to stand up to people that are so much stronger you. How dare you defy the Spirit King?" the man roared, seized by fury and impatience.
Ichigo staggered to his feet, a cocky smirk playing across his scowling face. "Sometimes people just don't die. Now you know how I feel."
The King didn't respond. He only raised his sword while Ichigo's body wracked a massive shudder.
Isshin drew in a raspy breath as he locked Yamashita in another bakudo while Hiruzen fired with highly advanced kido. He took this opportunity to glance at his son's battle. It was then that the reiatsu sent all three fighters crashing down to the ground, Isshin's bones creaking as he hit the concrete floor.
Hiruzen let out a shocked cry at the immense reiatsu. Isshin had never felt the Spirit King's reiatsu in bankai. But right now he felt like getting his ass over there and carrying his son away. How could he have put him up against such monstrous reiatsu? Ichigo was seventeen. He was still a boy. He didn't deserve this—he never belonged in this war.
While Isshin despaired over his son, he heard Hiruzen getting up. Hiruzen had gotten much stronger than Isshin, seeing as he spent decades training while Isshin had softened up to human life. He could stand up to the reiatsu.
But Yamashita would never let them pass, no matter how badly Isshin wanted to race over and help his son. His heart hammered and ached as his mind flashed to Masaki, and how he'd been helpless to save her because of the absence of his powers. He had his powers now—and yet…here he was, still unable to save a member of his precious family.
Isshin bowed his head, but he wasn't the sort of man to give up. He may not be in a good state to save Ichigo right now—but Ichigo could. Ichigo could save himself.
So he drew out the device he had slipped into his shihakusho and keyed the radio. A voice crackled at the other end.
"It's time. Release Ichigo's limiter."
Ichigo's body had taken quite a beating. He lay slumped on an upturned slab of stone, barely breathing as he felt three of his ribs puncturing his lungs. He wheezed, coughed, tried to move but the pain was agonizing. Ichigo was wondering if he was hallucinating when he felt light hues of blue flicker around his fingers like tiny flames.
Ichigo managed to push himself of the slab of rock, landing with a painful crack on the ground below him. He couldn't stop his scream as one of his ribs buried themselves deeper into his lung.
Shiro's healing was struggling to pull out the bones out of his lungs. It couldn't do it. Ichigo's body shook with despair. He could hear Shiro suffering too. Even though his counterpart had been dealt with serious blows that the hollow could heal, the regeneration all depended on how much reiatsu they had left. That wasn't much.
He could hear the Spirit King pacing slowly towards him. His opponent was taking his sweet time with him, making him suffer. Ichigo sucked in a whimper as he shakily got on his hands and knees.
His eyes searched for tensa zangetsu that had been stomped out of his hand earlier. It lay a few feet away. He crawled towards it, sucking in each scream as he dragged his body forwards.
The pain was definitely making him hallucinate. The tiny blue flames were coming up his arms and shoulders. They turned red. Then black. Blue again.
Ichigo reached his sword. The Spirit King leered at him, enjoying Ichigo's helplessness. Ichigo dragged the sword towards him, the chain rattling against the ground as he did so. He gripped the handle lightly, watching with dry amusement as the hallucination took him further into believing that the blue flames spread to his sword and surrounded his whole body.
Then it suddenly exploded.
The Spirit King gasped, staggering backwards as the reiatsu of his opponent hit him full force. Ichigo stared at his hands uncomprehendingly, his eyes still disbelieving. But it was real. The reiatsu, the huge, incredible reiatsu—it was his.
The reiatsu numbed the pain like morphine. Ichigo laughed as he stood up. It was too good to be true. How was this happening?
He felt the overwhelming presence of the hogyoku kick in. Ichigo felt as good as when he'd fought Renji for the first time in the world of the living.
"Nice," Ichigo whispered as he stared at tensa zangetsu.
The Spirit King was staring at him disbelievingly.
"You can't kill me," Ichigo laughed, completely giddy.
"Stay off the coke King," he could hear his hollow laugh. "Looks like we had more reiatsu than we thought."
Ichigo frowned. He couldn't believe it. How much reiatsu did he have? And why had it come now?
"Who gives a shit?" Shiro hissed. "We have enough reiatsu to kill the Spirit King!"
Ichigo's eyes brimmed with new confidence and the purple-blue glow of the hogyoku. He readied his sword, raising it in the air. Ichigo sonidoed away as the King dived in to stop him. Ichigo clashed sword with him, wincing at the dulled pain—he only had a few minutes left in him.
"We need to hit him at the same time," Shiro said suddenly. "Just to make sure we get him body and soul."
Ichigo nodded. He sonidoed a couple of times around the Spirit King, getting closer and closer to the confused and angry man.
"How is this possible?" the Spirit King spat. "You were ready to die a minute ago!"
The King was tired while Ichigo's new batch of reiatsu had just kicked in. The split second Ichigo appeared at his back was all Ichigo needed as the hogyoku's aura wrapped around the white blade, giving Shiro the heads up to do the same.
"Hogyoku no Getsugatensho!"
Shiro's black blade and Ichigo's white blade struck the inner and outer Spirit King squarely in the back. Ichigo was blown away as the Hogyoku no Getsugatensho's purple-blue destructive wave blew up in the air. His face smashed against one of the remaining walls, but he didn't shriek. He was silently scouting for the Spirit King's reiatsu.
His heart thudded. Had he succeeded? The smoke cleared, yet Ichigo felt no reiatsu.
"It's over Kingy. I can feel that the bloodlock is gone."
Ichigo felt his head begin to spin, mostly from relief, as if a hundred ton weight had been lifted right off of his shoulders. He crashed back onto the ground, welcoming the black that enveloped him.
Miko. Your wish has been granted.
Rukia was ragged and bloody, her face covered in a layer of grime. She'd frozen her opponent, just catching her breath before Renji destroyed the ice sculpture with his bankai. Suddenly, a questioning cry came in direction of the Gates.
"Captain Yamashita! What happened?" the voice cried again.
Rukia stared at the man with one arm, his shihakusho torn and only a remainder of his haori present. Renji put an arm on her shoulder listening intently.
It seemed everyone had stopped fighting to listen. It must be the captain of Squad 0 for everyone to quieten down like this.
Yamashita had his chest heaving, his eyes glazed over in grief.
"M-My father. The Spirit King is dead."
ONE DAY AFTER THE ROYAL WAR
Ichigo welcomed the breeze that blew through his orange hair, glad to feel the comforting feel of the fabric of his soul reaper shihakusho. He hadn't worn it for a while. He sat with his feet dangling on the edge of Sokyoku Hill, staring down at the constructions taking place to rebuild Seireitei. It wasn't much, but while waiting for the Barracks to be rebuilt, temporary tents had been put up with banners of each Division painted on the front.
Ichigo closed his eyes. Buildings could always be constructed and replaced. But the lives that had been lost in the Royal War were lost forever. He wished he could have been there to save them, being Ichigo.
"Not gonna jump are you?" a voice came from behind him.
Ichigo's brown eyes glanced back at the petite girl who was constantly making fun of him.
"You shouldn't be mocking the hero of the Winter War and of the Royal War," Ichigo said coldly, imitating Byakuya's monotone voice as Rukia sat beside him.
The petite soul reaper gave him a humorous glare. "I needed to reduce that elephant-sized ego of yours."
Ichigo snorted, his eyes travelling once more over the Seireitei.
"Why is it that I always find you up here?" Rukia asked suddenly.
The corners of Ichigo's lips curled up into a rare smile. "Makes me remember how I came and saved your ass."
"I'm sure I could have rescued myself," Rukia retorted, scowling.
"You couldn't have fended off that overfed phoenix even if you tried," Ichigo scoffed.
"It's called a Kikoo!" Rukia snapped.
Ichigo waved her off. "Kikoo, phoenix, whatever."
"Oh, I forgot, you have this disease where you can't remember people's names," Rukia chided.
"It's not a disease!" Ichigo argued.
"Yeah? How do you like this disease?" Rukia hissed, punching Ichigo in the jaw.
Ichigo slipped off the cliff, gasping, as he held onto the edge with both his hands, his whole body hanging dangerously off the side.
"R-Rukia?" Ichigo trembled as she towered above him, before stomping on his hands. "Ah! Wait n-no!"
Rukia continued to stomp mercilessly on his hands while Ichigo pleaded for her to stop. It was Grimmjow who came and rescued him.
"Ah…Am I interrupting something?"
Ichigo snapped, quoting the line Shiro had said to him in battle, "Nah, we're just having a friendly chat."
In the end, things were beginning to take shape. Aizen and Gin paid their respects to Miko's grave; she had been buried in Rukongai where the Royal Guards men had taken her away from. Then the traitors left to Hueco Mundo. Despite having had reason behind their treachery, they were not forgiven for conducting experiments on Shinji and the rest of the Vizards. Ichigo had reassured Nel and Grimmjow that he didn't have a problem with the two espadas if they wanted to leave with them.
The teen discovered why he had been given supplement reiatsu during his fight with the Spirit King. Aizen had put a limiter on him, which was the reason why Isshin and Aizen had been exchanging glances with each other. Isshin explained that of course they had to put Ichigo on a severe limiter—his reiatsu could crush anything in a forty mile radius.
So Isshin had moved back to Karakura along with Karin and Yuzu, while Ichigo had remained in Soul Society to pay his respects to Miko.
As for the Royal Dimension, Yamashita had refused the position of Spirit King after discovering the truth behind Isshin's words about his father. Ichigo had disappeared before they had the chance to ask the hero himself if he wanted to take the Spirit King's throne. Hiruzen had been the popular choice to put in his place.
Before Aizen left through the Garganta with Gin, Nel and Grimmjow, he paused to look at Ichigo. "So who's side are you on now, Ichigo?"
"I can't say I approve of the soul reapers' methods, or yours for that matter," Ichigo's eyes narrowed, but his voice was strong. "But I trust the soul reapers."
"And when they do something I don't like," Ichigo smirked, "I'll be there to stop them."
Aizen smiled warmly at Ichigo. "It's never stopped you before, Kurosaki Ichigo, 0 Espada, Second Hogyoku."
He disappeared through the black abyss of the Garganta.
Ichigo stalked towards the Gates that led to the world of the living, a warm feeling spreading over him as Orihime, Uryu and Chad walked in front of him. This wasn't the first time they'd done this. They'd done this countless times. He watched as his friends disappeared into the glow of the doors, before giving one glance back at Soul Society like he always did. With Rukia standing there.
"We're saying goodbye so often it's not even funny," Ichigo smiled at her.
She laughed, wrapping her arms around herself. "Too often."
Ichigo saw something flicker in her eyes. Was that regret? He turned towards the gate like he always did. Waved. Like he did every single time. Stepped towards the light—
Rukia had gripped his sleeve. She immediately pulled away, embarrassed. Ichigo turned back around, raising a brow. "Rukia?"
Rukia's heart thudded faster.
"Stay," she breathed before she could stop it. "Stay here."
She was being selfish again. Hadn't she berated herself for that? Ichigo had his life somewhere else. He belonged over there, not here. Was she stupid?
Ichigo's eyes flickered with surprise, before they narrowed into the more understanding Kurosaki Ichigo. "You know I can't."
Rukia stepped back, lowering her eyes. Why was she being so horrible, making Ichigo choose? She had her duty as a soul reaper of Gotei 13 and he had his as a human high school student. "I-I'm sorry."
Ichigo stared at her searchingly, but he didn't move towards the gate as she expected he would. Rukia had never apologized to him. What was happening to her? Why couldn't she have just waved him away like she always did?
"I just…This time I didn't want to see you leave," Rukia said.
She looked up, wide-eyed, as Ichigo stretched out his hand towards her.
"Then come with me."
She looked at his outstretched hand. She took it.
Deep in the corners of Ichigo's inner world, the pale white creature stood crouched in his usual position, Zangetsu standing atop his pole. Everything had returned back to normal. Shiro's eyes trailed across the thin layer of ice that still covered the inner world. Well, almost everything.
He ran his black nails across it, before noticing a tiny white flake float down and land on top of his hand. Shiro blinked as more and more tiny flakes began to settle down over the ice. He stood up, looking at the sky which shined with rays of the sun. The sun. That was new. It was melting off all the ice. Was King happy?
He watched as the white flakes grew bigger, still continuing to accumulate over the barely present ice.
"Kuchiki Rukia," Shiro rolled the name off his tongue again.
His golden eyes stared in wonder, the corners of his mouth curling up into a grin.
Hopefully everyone understood that last part. It was relaying back to the flashback at the beginning. So yeah…
The end of my first fic 'This War's Not Over'! Whoah. I'm really glad I finished this.
So I wanted to thank everyone for every single review, follow or whatever made me jump around in joy cause you simply just read my fic. You made a writer very very happy.
I'm sorry for those who wanted this to be yaoi, I'm just horrible at writing those stories…
My next fic is going to be called 'To Die Alone', but it's up to you whether you want it to be the sequel or a completely new fic… I guess I'll decide based on what everyone says. Maybe not. It can go either way. It'll still be about Ichigo and Shiro, but it'll probably be Ichiruki like this one.
Once again, thanks to everyone who has reviewed, please tell me what you think about this last chapter and if you want my new fic to be a sequel or not!
Enjoy your summer,