My fingers were burning as I wrote this I swear! I would like to say a grand and final thank you to everyone who has read, favourited, followed and reviewed on this story despite my delayed updates and writer's block, it has taken a while but at long last, we arrive at the final chapter. There will be no sequel for this story, so this is the end I am afraid.
So, for the last time... Thank you x
Chapter Twenty-Six: Demonically Ever After:
Weeks after his rescue and giving birth, Ichigo found himself in Yamamoto's office with the Leaders of the different Clans. Word had spread concerning his extra passenger, meaning Scalpturio's presence, and the Leaders had requested an audience with his host, meaning Ichigo, to discuss what should be done.
There were of course two things on the agenda for the meeting, the first being the presence of a Clan Founder in the body of an heir to the Clan and the second being what to do with Willow.
Ichigo sat beside Stark on one of the couches and sighed heavily as the various Leaders and Second in Commands entered the room one by one, their faces a neutral facade of detachment. He smiled when Byakuya and Renji entered the room, chuckling as he saw the redhead was carrying their own child (Katrina) in his arms, apparently unwilling to leave her at home while they came to deal with the issues at hand.
When everyone had taken a seat in a circular pattern around the room, Yamamoto got to his feet, he was battered, and recovering from an injury sustained in the battle at Aizen's palace. He went and stood beside Ichigo, resting a hand on the young man's shoulder.
"This is Kurosaki Ichigo; you have already met him before at the war meeting we held some time ago. He is the host of Scalpturio, and heir to the leadership of this Clan." The older man introduced, his voice steady and calm, "I have spoken at length with Scalpturio, as he is able to come forth and commune with us when he desires to, and he has informed me that when he disappeared all those thousands of years ago-"
"Could we not hear this from him?" Soi-Fon asked, interrupting him boldly.
Yamamoto glared at her for a moment before he looked down at Ichigo, "Do you... Feel comfortable to allow him to come forward?"
The strawberry hesitated before he sighed, "Very well." He closed his eyes and allowed his body to slacken as the exchange went on in their head and body.
A moment ticked passed before he began to glow a misty golden colour, when he opened his eyes they were like liquid sunshine, his voice was deeper and wiser, like it had been on the rooftop when he had battled Aizen for the final time.
"Greetings and salutations to you all, it has been many a winter moon since I laid eyes on so many Leaders gathered together in one place... I hope you are all well, and that you have ruled to the expectations of your Founders, their pride in you each would be immense no doubt. I must thank you for your assistance in rescuing this boy from his captor." He murmured, standing up slowly and walking into the centre of the room, "I am Scalpturio, my soul resides within this child as both a blessing and a curse, I intended to remain asleep within him, never affecting his life or controlling him in anyway, but regrettable Aizen Sousuke dragged me out and we are now sharing this body. It is not uncomfortable; we can talk to one and other and lend each other our power. But we can never exist as two separate entities again."
Ukitake Jushiro, the Leader of the Vampire Clan cleared his throat, "Could you tell us how and why you came to reside within Ichigo? We have been under the impression that all the Clan Founders were dead."
"Of course," Scalpturio inclined his head to the man, "War was brewing between myself and Dominis, it was dragging the other Clans into it and threatened to wreck the entire world... So I did the only thing I could do to protect my people and my world, I left and hid myself. My body began to decay and I found a new host, mainly animals like birds and lizards... It was an interesting existence for a time, then I began to venture into the Human world and viewed things through a human's eyes I never harmed any of them; I was merely a fleeting visitor.
"However I began to get tired, I needed a host that I could hide in, I wanted an end, I had lived far beyond my own time... That was when Ichigo was born. I could sense straight away that he was of my bloodline; I was surprised to find that my son, Isshin had left the Demon world and gotten married. I was happy for him... I spoke to him, made him swear not to tell another soul before I got his permission, and faded into his new born son's soul. I was to be a silent companion, hibernating and waiting. My intention was to die when the boy died, it was the only way I could finally find peace." He sighed quietly, "But that will no longer happen, Aizen brought me to the surface and woke me from hibernation, Ichigo is now a full demon in some standards, he will share the same life time as him. He will not die for a long time, longer than what it would have taken before... But at the same time I have found a new lease of life... And I am contented."
No one spoke for several moments, but Stark rushed to his lover's side as he crumpled, Scalpturio fading from the forefront of his mind. He caught him in time and helped him back over to the couch, sitting down with him on his lap as he waited for him to come around.
"That is... Incredible." Ukitake announced, "I assume we all agree that this is a kosher occurrence?" the rumble of agreement which sounded the room finalised it, "The question is whether or not we should be instating the boy as a Clan Leader, he has the blood to do it, and he has the soul of a Founder within him. But then what are we to do concerning Yamamoto?"
"What if we had a compromise?" Byakuya murmured, "Clan Leader in training, perhaps. Ichigo still knows very little about our cultures and about our world, so it would make sense to have him tutored before thrusting him into the world without explanation."
"That is a good idea." The white haired man agreed with a nod, "Yamamoto, do you agree?"
"It will take him about ten years or more to learn everything and my retirement is already scheduled for around that time so I have no problem with it at all. Providing you remember that you might want to ask Ichigo about this..." the older man replied with a small shrug.
It was at that moment that Ichigo began to come around, "Man I hate that... It gives me such a headache!" he grumbled.
Stark smiled weakly and stroked his cheek, "It will fade, the more used to it you get the quicker it passes."
"I know... But I still hate it!" he pouted before he yawned and stretched, looking around as he saw everyone was staring, he went scarlet and looked up at his lover.
"Don't worry about them." the brunet leaned down and kissed him gently before pulling back, "They are talking about you becoming a Clan Leader in training, because of your heritage and your passenger. It is your choice, Yamamoto is fine with it, and you have my blessing as well."
The strawberry stared for a moment before looking at the demons again, "Uh... What's involved?"
"You will have to study our culture and political ways of life," Byakuya informed him, "You will have about ten to fifteen years to do so before Yamamoto retires and you take his place."
"Oh... Well, if you guys think I can do it then I am happy to, but I need time to be around my cubs as well, Stark had to carrying me scratching and biting out of our room when I had to come here without them..."
"Don't worry Ichigo, I couldn't get Renji to leave ours at home full stop, but there are ways around it. You needn't concern yourself; everyone here has been through or will go through the same thing at some point. We all understand." Byakuya smiled comfortingly.
"Well... Okay then... I don't have any reasons to refuse..." he answered after a moment.
Soi-Fon stood up, "That is another issue... Your cubs."
Ichigo tensed slightly, "They are not an issue..."
"One of them is that traitors... It should be disposed of to save us any trouble in the future, you agree don't you Yoruichi-sama?" the second in command looked at her superior for support.
"I agree that the child could pose a risk," she paused as she saw both Ichigo and Stark growl, "But I do not believe the child should be blamed for her heritage. Perhaps a day will come when she rises up and sets the world on fire but until then who are we to judge. She has loving parents and a secure environment to be raised in. I say we leave her be." Soi-Fon sank back in her chair as she was humiliated publically and pouted at the floor.
"I think that is the general consensus for everyone present." Unohana announced, "It would be wrong to blame the girl for her father's misgivings."
Ichigo felt a sigh of relief leave his lungs as a decision he could support seemed to be made, he glanced up as Renji cleared his throat quietly and frowned.
"I... Uh... Considering she is an Incubus child, would it be possible for her to either come to our Estate a couple of nights a week to study our particular ways of life, or perhaps a willing tutor from our Estate could come and stay here to teach her? Only once she is old enough of course." He added quickly.
"I like the second idea." Ichigo said, taking Stark by surprise, "She deserves to know who and what she is... I won't stop that."
"Then it is agreed." Yamamoto announced, taking his seat again, "If that is everything then this meeting his over.
It took a while for everyone to leave, even then Byakuya and Renji decided to linger for a while, Ichigo disappeared momentarily before returning with his two cubs, sticking his tongue out when Stark rolled his eyes. He sat beside his redheaded friend as they discussed the joys and nightmares of parenthood.
Stark sat beside Ichigo and out an arm around him kissing the side of his head before he drew his attention, "Ichigo, will you marry me?"
"Do you really need to ask?" the strawberry asked, kissing him deeply and heatedly, "Of course I will."
And as the saying goes, they lived happily ever after, or as happily as a dysfunctional family of demons can.