Hello to my dearest readers! Thank you all for making it this far with me. It has been one hell of time, hasn't it? Bad news, this is the last chapter. Good news is that I am seriously making a sequel and I have already come up with its name. You should all check it out when I write the first chapter for it. It will be named Lost Warriors. I've thought about that for a while and I think it's the perfect fit for what I have in store for the next story. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this chapter and check out the new story!
It had months since I had been revealed to be alive to the rest of the Seireitei and had gotten my light back. The Seireitei had fallen back to its old ways and peace had been restored once more. I ran my Squad with an iron fist and Momo helped out in every way that she could, a smile on her face that actually seemed true. It had been a while since I had seen it after what had happened to her thanks to Aizen, but I knew that she was much better now. She ran about, just as cheery as ever, and gave orders to our subordinates when needed.
Not only that, but I also received yet another challenge to my captaincy. It was no one from my Squad, rather an outsider that didn't know any better. A few people tried to warn him, but he refused to be dissuaded. I fought him and won rather easily, Toshiro and Momo watching from the sidelines to make sure I didn't overdo it. I made sure to keep my Zanpakuto in its sealed form the entire time, even when I won the challenge. It was decided by Head Captain Yamamoto that any other challenges had to be reported to him so that he could order the limiter on me to suppress seventy percent of my reiatsu, one that could be adjusted as needed while someone monitored the challenge.
A while after that, Kisuke sent word that Ichigo was finally ready to be sent to the Seireitei for a little while. He was on summer vacation and he could stay in my Squad's Headquarters, a room made up for him that he could sleep in during those months. That summer was one of the hottest on record and I wanted nothing more than to bask in Toshiro's presence since he could give off cold temperatures. If it was too warm on some days, we would all go to Toshiro's office and let him cool us off. It was on one of those days in particular that I had called off training.
"What do you mean you cancelled it?" Ichigo yelled, dragging me back into the present.
"It's hotter than hell out here!" I yelled back indignantly. "I may be used to heat and all, but not this much!"
"Are you sure it's not just because you want to go see your husband?" he asked sarcastically.
If he wanted to play that game, then I could be just as grumpy. I jumped at him, flash stepping behind him before he could move and kicking him in the back. Landing on top of him so I could twist his arm behind him, I heard his yowl of pain as I laughed a little. "Really? You're going to be jerk to me while it's hot out?" I growled lightly as I yanked on his arm.
"Quit it!" he told me loudly as my subordinates all turned to watch us. They just shook their heads before going about their day, knowing better than to interfere when I was in one of those moods. "You can't be this irritated! And why is no one even going to help me?!"
"They all know what I'll do to them if they try. It's always better to just let me have my way in these situations," I told him serenely. "Now apologize to me."
"No way! Are you crazy?!" he shouted. "I can't apologize because I didn't do anything wrong here!" I yanked on his arm again and there was another yowl from him. "Damn it, Imayru, you're going to break my arm!"
"It's Captain Hitsugaya to you!" I yelled, using my best impression of my husband. "Apologize or I really will break your arm!"
"Fine! I'm sorry, Captain Hitsugaya! It won't happen again!"
"Perfect!" I said cheerily as I let him go, giving him a bright smile as we both stood up. "Now let's go to Squad 10 and cool off. It's way too hot out to do training today."
I practically skipped through the many streets of the Seireitei until we made it to Squad 10. I made my way over to Toshiro's office and announced my presence by throwing open his door. Rangiku jumped a little in surprise, scattering her stack of paperwork and it flew all over the room. I could see a vein popping from Toshiro's forehead in irritation with Rangiku's clumsiness but it went away when he looked over at me. He gave me a tiny smile as I walked over to him, sitting on his lap as Ichigo came inside and shut the door behind him.
"Too hot outside again?" he asked me as he kissed the top of my head.
"I felt like I was melting," I said dramatically as I leaned against him as if I went limp in a dead faint, throwing my forearm over my eyes. "I brought Ichigo with me since he can't be trusted to stay out of trouble."
"Hey, that's not true!" Ichigo yelled, helping Rangiku pick up the papers that were lying on the floor. "Imayru damn near broke my arm because I told her that the only reason she was cancelling training because she wanted to see you, Toshiro!"
"It's Captain Hitsugaya to you!" Toshiro and I said at the same time and I gave poor Ichigo a grin.
I turned to Toshiro, who had another faint smile on his face, and said, "I will help you with paperwork if you turn up the cold air. Seriously, I'm dying here."
"I can't allow that, now can I?" he said, sounding amused before he let out his reiatsu in short waves of cold, the temperature dropping until it was finally comfortable. I sighed in relief and allowed myself to relax for a bit before sitting up to make good on my word. "You really don't have to help me with my paperwork though."
"Why not?" I asked him. "I want to in exchange for you being so kind that you helped me!"
"He's trying to be kind and avoid telling you no because you suck at paperwork," Rangiku said flatly. "At least, you do with Squad 10's paperwork and especially during the summer."
I looked over at Toshiro with a raised eyebrow and he seemed a bit sheepish. "Sorry, but she has a point, although I wouldn't have worded it like that."
"You wouldn't have said it at all apparently," I said sarcastically.
"If it will make you feel better, you can hand me each paper that I need to sign," he told me.
"That I can do," I said cheerily as I handed him a paper, watched as he signed his name, and handed him another as he placed the previous paper on the completed pile. As I helped out, I said, "You do know that our other friends will be here soon enough, right?"
"That's why I'm trying to get as much work done as possible," he stated with a sigh. "I know that they'll end up knocking the stacks of papers over if I don't get them done now."
About an hour later and we had everything finished up, Ichigo helping out by moving the stacks over to the corner of the room. It was around that time that everyone began to show up in Toshiro's office, sighing in relief at the cold air in the room. I grinned at Toshiro, who looked dismayed by all the people in his office, and gave him a quick hug. That seemed to mollify him and he settled back in his chair with his arms around my waist.
"Who knew that you were so popular, Shiro," I said with a laugh.
"I certainly didn't know that," he grumbled. "It's good to see that people only want to be around when it's hotter than hell."
"That's not entirely true and you know it," I told him. "Just be nice and have some fun for once."
"I have fun with you," he said earnestly, his eyes showing me that he meant it. "My life with you is like one big adventure. It has its ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for the world."
"Aww, how sweet!" I yelled joyously, hugging him tightly around the neck and making him roll his eyes in mock exasperation when the others looked over at us. I kissed his cheek and saw a faint blush appear on his cheeks when I giggled a little.
There was a slamming noise and I looked over to see Rangiku run inside, shoving the door closed behind her. "I brought some sake!" she told us all with a grin as she held up a large container with several cups. "It's a real party now!"
"Rangiku, it was never a party in the first place," Toshiro told her, looking rather annoyed as he glared at her.
"Aww, Captain, don't be a spoil sport," Rangiku told him as she all of a sudden had a look of determination on her face. "I refuse to let anyone leave this room without a single cup of sake. After that, you all can stop drinking it and call it good!"
"Will it get you to leave us alone about drinking it?" Toshiro asked with a sigh.
"That's correct!" she said with a bright smile.
Toshiro looked at me before sighing again. "Fine, let's just get this over with. Pass out the glasses to everyone."
Ichigo walked over after separating from Rukia and said, "I can't have anything to drink. I'm only fifteen. I'm not legal."
"There's not really a legal age here," I explained. "The unspoken rule in the Seireitei is that if you're old enough to become a Soul Reaper then you're old enough for alcohol. One glass won't kill you and I won't tell your father that it ever happened."
He gave me a wan smile before accepting the cup from Rangiku before she passed one to Toshiro and one to me. She counted to three and we all gulped down our glasses of sake. Even though it was disgusting, I felt a pleasant warmth spread through my limbs that went away after a few seconds. I figured that my fire burned it away before it could settle and I pouted a little until I looked over at Toshiro. His eyes looked slightly unfocused as he stared off into the distance and I giggled a little, drawing him back to the present.
"What's so funny?" he asked me with a frown.
"I'm thinking that we found our first lightweight," I told him with a grin.
"I'm not a lightweight and I can prove it," he said sternly before looking to Rangiku. "Fill the cup. I have a point to make."
"Wow, Captain, you're finally lightening up for once!" she said happily as she did as she was told. I held mine out as well since I wasn't going to be affected at all and decided that I might as well watch the fun.
After about an hour when night had fallen, I discovered which kinds of drunks each person was while Ichigo and I stood off in a corner by ourselves. "What kind is Rukia?" Ichigo asked as he pointed to her.
"The angry kind," I told him, both of us watching as she took off at Renji with a lamp. "I don't know what he did, but he better watch out. By the way, Renji is a nice drunk. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I find it ironic considering how we met in the first place."
"What about Momo?" he asked as he pointed to her, both of us turning to see her sitting on the floor in a corner and looking upset.
"The sad drunk," I said with a snicker. "She can change to the happy drunk at times. She can be the wild card."
I saw Ichigo about to ask me something when his face turned bright red and he turned his head in my direction. "I don't need you to tell me what kind of drunk Rangiku is," he said quietly.
"She's attempting to strip, isn't she?" I asked with a sigh of exasperation.
He looked over a little before saying, "Izuru is putting an end to it. What kind of drunk is he?"
"Depends on the day," I told him. "Some days he's a happy drunk and others he can be the flirty drunk. Yet another case of irony since he can be rather awkward at times. Not the crippling kind, but enough that it's kind of cute for some girls."
"What are you two talking about?" a familiar voice suspiciously asked, his words slurred a little. I turned around to see Toshiro glaring at Ichigo and I couldn't help but laugh.
"And here we have the lightweight," I said with a giggle, wrapping an arm around Toshiro's shoulders and turning to Ichigo. "If I also had to hazard a guess, I would assume that he is the sober drunk as well. It might sound like a contradiction, but I know his personality and this one fits the best."
"What's a sober drunk?" Ichigo asked in frustration.
"It's nothing you haven't seen before," I told him with a smirk. "Sober drunks just tell things how it is and have no verbal filter. They'll tell you things with harsh honesty."
"So pretty much no change from how he acts any other day," Ichigo said flatly.
"Your voice is grating on my ears, Kurosaki," Toshiro said without batting an eye, leaning a little against me.
"Good to know that my assumption was correct," I said under my breath before turning to Toshiro. "Shiro, perhaps it's time for you to go to bed."
He rested his forehead against mine and completely ignored what I said. "You're really beautiful," he whispered to me.
"Thank you for the compliment," I told him, "but I'm pretty sure that you've had enough to drink and need to sleep it off."
"Why aren't you drunk?" Ichigo asked me. "I saw you drink as much as Toshiro did."
"It's Captain Hitsugaya to you," I told him since Toshiro was a bit… distracted. He was kissing along the top of my shoulder and slowly heading towards my neck. "The reason I'm not drunk is because of my fire. It burned away the effects of the alcohol before it could even affect me. Looks like I'm forever going to be the chaperone."
"This is why I love you so," Toshiro said with a tiny laugh. "You're perfect for me. I'm never going to let you go again."
"Now you're being extremely affectionate around others," I told him as I shied away before he could kiss the skin of my neck. I really didn't want to react in an undignified way while in front of our friends. "It's definitely time for you to go to sleep."
"If I have to," he sighed.
I grabbed him by the hand and nodded to Ichigo to watch them as I led Toshiro to his quarters. It didn't take long after I had him settled down in the blanket cave that he lay his head on my chest and fell asleep. I chuckled a little as I stroked his hair and not once did he stir as I did so. It wasn't like I couldn't get away with it any other time, but it was more fun to do so while he was asleep, mostly because he looked like the weight of the world had been taken off his shoulders. I knew that he still had some issues that he dealt with from day to day, most of which were centered on my fake death, but he was doing well at handling them. He only had nightmares once in a great while and it was only during the times that I had fallen asleep in my office after practically working all through most of the night to get some paperwork done. I felt myself drifting off to sleep with him as I smiled faintly, feeling warm and happy.
When I woke up the next morning, I noticed that I was alone. I felt a bit confused since it hadn't happened before but I heard noises just outside. I crawled out from the blanket cave and headed outside in the direction of the tiny waterfall to see Toshiro standing under the cascading water, making groaning noises occasionally. I walked over to him with a smirk and stood nearby the waterfall to watch as he slowly turned his head in my direction.
"You have a hangover, I see," I stated the obvious.
"How much did I have to drink last night?" he asked me as he rubbed his forehead with the palm of his hand, sounding groggy and in a bit of pain.
"Well, you insisted that you weren't a lightweight and so you tried to outdrink me, even though I tried to warn you that I wasn't able to get drunk," I told him, then noticed his confused look at my last few words. "Like I told Ichigo, I can't get drunk because my blood burns too hot. The alcohol disappears a few seconds after it's even put into my system. Now, I should get back to answering your question. I think you had about… four cups of sake. I had about eight cups myself since Rangiku kept pushing it on me."
"Lucky," he said quietly. "I think my ice only made things worse. I'm never drinking again."
"Stop saying that just because you drank too much," I told him, chuckling to myself. "Now get out of the water so I can dry you off."
He let out a sigh before he stepped out of there and opened his arms for me to rush over to him, wrapping his arms around me as I did the same. I allowed my reiatsu to warm him up and gradually his clothes began to steam. I heated up my fingers and ran them through his hair until they were back to their normal somewhat spiky state, his bangs hanging down and almost covering his left eye. When I was done, I allowed my temperature to settle back down to normal and rested my forehead against his shoulder.
"You're always so warm that I always think of you during the summertime," he said as he looked up at the sky. "You're like my own personal sun."
"Just be careful, Shiro," I told him with another smirk. "Get too close and you might be burned."
"I think I can handle you," he said with his own smile, looking down at me before pressing a quick kiss to my lips. "You're everything I could ever want. I need you like I need air to breathe. You're extremely important to me."
"And you're my dream," I said on a whisper. "I would say more, but you seem to have taken the words straight from my mouth."
"That's alright," he told me, kissing me again. "I can sense how you feel through our bond. Aren't you glad that we have that?"
"Are you kidding me?" I said with a laugh. "Of course I am! It's been a lifesaver! I've used it more times than not to find you."
"Same here," he said as he wrapped his arms around me tighter. "It's made things much easier for all of us, especially during those times when you would sneak off and I would have to track you down."
He gave me a stern look and I giggled sheepishly. "That's only happened once!"
"Want to guess again?" he asked flatly, raising an eyebrow.
"Fine, it's been a few more times than that, but that's not important!"
"Yeah, that's what I thought," he said with a sigh.
Before I could say anything else, I could hear someone calling my name from out in the courtyard. I grabbed Toshiro's hand and dragged him along, regardless of his grumbling about interruptions. I rounded the corner from past his quarters and saw Ichigo standing there with an amused grin on his face. He pointed over at Toshiro's office and we both looked to see everyone leaving the room, staggering about like they were just as hung over as Toshiro had been. I giggled a little and Toshiro frowned, most likely thinking about what mess was left in the office.
"I stayed with them almost all night," Ichigo said with a laugh. "I was making sure that they didn't wreck the place and when I left it was perfectly fine. I can't say what it might look like now."
"Just great," Toshiro said under his breath before turning to me. "I'm going to go fix my office. I know that it's going to be a complete wreck. You have fun training with Ichigo and I'll see you later."
He lightly gripped my chin, tilted my head back a little, and pressed a quick kiss to my lips before heading towards his office. I had a small smile on my face before turning to Ichigo. "It shouldn't be so hot today," I told him. "We should be able to train almost all day."
"Sounds good to me," he said with a grin.
We headed to the training grounds, more specifically the one that rarely anyone used. We always picked that one so we wouldn't hurt the trainees with the force of our spiritual pressure. For half of the day, we just trained in Shikai and helped him get faster and stronger in that aspect. After we had some lunch that had been delivered to us by a younger Soul Reaper, I decided that it was time to use our Bankai. I still wasn't used to my new Bankai but I was developing new tricks to handle it that sometimes stumped Ichigo, even though he was usually pretty quick at catching on to his opponent's techniques. I would get a laugh for the confused expression that would appear on his face because it was always so comical.
"Quit laughing so much!" he groaned in frustration. "You're a captain and you should be more serious!"
"Have you seen how many serious captains there are?" I told him as I shook my head. "I can be like that if I want, but I've found that my subordinates prefer me to be the way I am. I'm the perfect mix of serious and lighthearted."
"Hey, looks like we've got visitors," Ichigo said with a nod in the direction of the large wall behind me.
I turned around to see four people sitting down on the hill in front of the wall, three of them giving me a wave and shouting catcalls. Those three were Rangiku, Momo, and Rukia and I knew it was all because of my somewhat revealing Bankai. The silent one sitting between Rangiku and Momo was obviously Toshiro, who must have been dragged from his office so they could all watch my training session with Ichigo. He gave me a tiny wave until Rangiku grabbed him by the wrist and did it for him enthusiastically. I could see him looking a bit annoyed from where I was standing and I spun around on the back of my heel to face Ichigo.
"What strange friends we have," I said with a laugh.
"This is true," Ichigo chuckled before he became serious. "Speaking of strange, I heard Momo tell Rukia that you have a friendship with the new ruler of Hueco Mundo. Is this true?"
"Absolutely not," I said with a frown. "Tier Harribel, who is the new ruler, and I have a tentative truce. She agreed to leave the Soul Society and all the Soul Reapers alone so long as we do the same. She also informed me that the truce would be over if I ever stepped foot in their world again unless in dire circumstances. If that was the case, then I was to immediately report to her so I could inform her of the situation. Espada are so welcoming like that."
"Sounds to me like she got more out the deal than you did," he teased.
"Actually, that's not true," I said with a devious smirk. "The Hollows are not allowed to drag me into Hueco Mundo or try to kill me right on the spot if I enter their world for an emergency. If they do, it's a capital offense that is punishable by death. I'm taking that as a win. Now, let's get back to training. You've had a long enough break."
We fought long and hard until close to sunset. It was around then that I noticed Ichigo fighting harder than ever, trying to defeat me for the first time. He's a bit overconfident, Tatsuya said, sounding amused. Let's show him that we are stronger and stop holding back. I let the light out in a single blast, allowing my spiritual pressure to slam into him and force him to his knees. That was the extent I could go to with the limiter on me and it compelled him to send out his own in a feeble attempt to neutralize mine. He staggered to his feet, pointing his Zanpakuto at me as sweat ran down his face before I charged at him. He could barely block me this time and I once again had one of my blades pointing at his neck before he knew it.
"One of these days, you might be able to beat me," I told him before dropping my Bankai. "The most important thing is the fact that you're improving and you're doing it enough so that I have to let out my spiritual pressure."
"I want to defeat you one day and yet I don't at the same time," he told me with a wan smile. "I don't know what I would do if I beat my biggest rival."
"Oh, I'm your rival? Interesting point of view," I said as he let his Bankai go as well. I walked over to him and gave him a quick hug before he could flinch away. "I think I like it. My rival… I don't think I've ever truly had one of those before."
"Toshiro wasn't a rival?" he asked me.
"He and I never really fought before," I told him. "If we did, it was once during our training at the academy."
"Want to rectify that?" a voice asked behind me and I saw Toshiro standing there with a smile, his Zanpakuto already unsheathed and tightly gripped in his hand.
"You really mean that?" I asked him, feeling extremely excited as I began to bounce up and down on my toes. "In that case, let's do this! Bankai!" When the light exploded from me, eventually dying down to reveal my new form and me clutching my two blades now, I yelled, "Choshinsei Tatsuya!"
"Bankai!" Toshiro growled as ice sprouted from his back to form huge wings and a tail, part of the ice going down his arms to form a dragon's head over the hand that held his Zanpakuto and talons on the other. "Daiguren Hyorinmaru!"
"Fire and ice, going at it again," I said with a laugh before I allowed rings of white flame to appear around my wrists and ankles in case I needed to fly. "This should be interesting."
We let out our spiritual pressure in waves and Ichigo grunted, flash stepping away to go stand beside the others on the hill. I saw ice forming on the ground while my fire rings got brighter and wild. I happened to look up when I saw a huge mass of people practically pouring from the woodwork, some of which were trainees who looked at us with wide eyes that showed their amazement. I allowed a grin to form on my face at the sight of them and I saw one on Toshiro as well.
"Imagine that, we have more people to watch from the sidelines," I said to him.
"They must have all wanted to finally see us seriously fight for the first time," he said.
"I call fighting the winner!" I heard Captain Zaraki yell and I could see him in the crowd with Yachiru.
"Like that is going to happen," I said with a shake of the head. "Anyway, let's do this. It's about time we found out who is the best."
We flash stepped to each other and met with a burst of sparks, grinning excitedly as we jumped apart. We kept flash stepping and slashing at the other with everything we had. At one point, Toshiro managed to knock me into the air and I caught myself with an explosion of fire from the rings around my wrists and ankles, keeping me airborne as Toshiro soon followed. Now we fought in midair, which only made it more exciting the longer it dragged out. I could feel sweat beading on my skin and after nearly slashing Toshiro on the chest, I could see that he was in the same situation. When we separated, he sliced the air with his Zanpakuto and an arc of ice flew at me. I let my Zanpakutos erupt into flames, the left one shrouded in shadows and the other in light. I cut through the ice with my right Zanpakuto before cutting an X through the air, crisscrossed fire flying over at him. He was forced to dodge my attack and whipped his tail at me in an attempt to encase me in ice. I cut through it and glared at him, watching him smirk a little in the process.
"I remember that attack," I said flatly. "It's the one where you try to turn someone into a giant icicle before shattering them into a million pieces. I do not appreciate that."
"Oh, stop whining," he told me, his eyes sparking in amusement. "I wouldn't have shattered you and you would melted through it eventually."
We picked up the pace and slashed viciously at each other, looking for an opening so we could end the fight. I was surprised when he managed to find the tiniest of openings in my defense and quickly had to block it or I would have lost. I knew it was because we had been fighting as a team for so long that we knew each other's weaknesses and it was around that time that I caught one of his. Whenever he tried to use a vertical strike, there was a split second hesitation before he attacked. This time, I waited for him to do it again before thrusting my Zanpakuto towards his throat, fully intending on just holding it against his skin to show that I won, when I saw his sharp intake of breath before parrying quickly. We both saw our shots to attack again and slashed at the other at the same time, ending up with both of our blades at each other's neck.
There were cheers and groans in the crowd, the loudest coming from Zaraki before he walked off in a huff. "It was probably better that it turned out this way," I said with a sigh, a smile on my face the entire time. "You probably couldn't handle it if I was better than you."
"Don't you mean that you wouldn't be able to handle me being better?" he asked me with a raised eyebrow, the hints of a smirk making its presence known.
"It's quite possible, but you'll never know for sure," I laughed before we both allowed our Bankai to dissipate. I ran over to him and gave him a tight hug, feeling his answering embrace and when he rested his chin in the top of my head. "Fighting against you is strange, but I don't dislike it. I prefer fighting by your side. We should spar with each other every so often."
"I don't mind that idea," he said. "Besides, I know you're actually stronger. I remember the fact that you've got a permanent limiter on you. Perhaps you could teach me a few new tricks the more we fight."
"Sounds like a plan," I told him happily.
A few hours later and we were back in his quarters after having dinner with our friends. We stood in front of the sliding glass doors that looked out to the tiny garden near the small pool with the waterfall, one that I created with exotic plants and helped grow with my light. There was even an infantile cherry blossom tree that I was nursing to make bigger, pouring light onto it on my spare time and watching as it slowly grew taller. I had a faint smile on my face as Toshiro looked over at me, standing by my side close enough so that our arms were touching.
He slid his fingers between mine before asking, "What are you thinking, Imayru?"
"Just about how everything in my life finally feels… right," I told him, looking up into his eyes. "I don't have anything to worry about that is important, like if I have something I need to get back or someone I need to rescue. I feel at peace for the first time in over a hundred years." I leaned my head on his shoulder with a relieved sigh. "And it's all thanks to you."
"Not just me," he corrected, wrapping his arm around my shoulders to pull me closer. "You can't forget about your family. You've also got Ichigo, Momo, Rangiku, Rukia—"
"Yeah, I got it," I cut him off with a grin. "There's no need to run off the entire list because it's rather long. I'm actually happy that I can say I have a big family. We may not all be related by blood, but we all have strong bonds with each other. Imagine that, going from having no one to having a husband and friends that are family to me."
"Everyone deserves some form of family," he told me. "Look at Captain Zaraki, for instance. He has Yachiru, who must be like a daughter to him."
"You're right," I said. "No one should ever be alone. I'm glad I have all of you."
I stood up on my toes a little and pressed my lips to his before turning towards the glass doors once more. We gazed up at the full moon, which illuminated the Seireitei brightly, and stayed in companionable silence. It was just like the past again and I had always hoped that it would be like that once more in the future. Everything had been settled and I had my former powers back, along with a set of new ones that were just as strong. To say that I was happy was a complete understatement because I was overjoyed. I had the person I loved more than anything beside me and my own version of an extended family from both the Soul Society and the Human World. There was nothing more that I could ask for. I decided right then and there to always cherish those around me and every moment I had with them. It was going to be one hell of a ride before any of us slipped into oblivion.