Author's note: I didn't really add anything new to this story, just fixed mistakes and also I did something I should have done at the very beginning, broke up the text into chapters! 27K words is just way to much to have as one long one-shot so I have broken it up into slightly smaller chapters for easier reading and a more enjoyable experience overall.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach nor any of it's characters.
~ 10 Years after Yhwach's defeat.
Three soft raps on his door were what drew him from the paperwork on his desk, "Shiba-taichou."
"Come in, Lisa." quickly the door to his office slid open, revealing his Lieutenant, "What's going on?"
Lisa 'Tsk'ed' at his question, "Shiba-taichou, did you forget what day it was?" the look of enlightenment which came after a few short seconds told her that yes, he did forget. Her braid swayed softly behind her as she shook her head, "Kuchiki-taichou is outside right now, he want's to know if you'd like to walk with him to the Sokyoku hill?"
"Byakuya?" that made him smile, it took a while but eventually he cracked the mans though outer shell and gotten him to admit that the two of them were friends, their relationship had only improved since then, "Yeah, tell him I'll be there in a moment." She nodded and left.
Signing the last document on his desk he sighed happily and stretched his body, not wanting to leave them waiting too long he stood and turned to the small table where Zangetsu rested behind his desk, grasping the black hilt softly he felt a warm pulse from the blade which calmed him like nothing else could. As he strode through the door, Zangetsu was slid securely into the red obi around his waist.
Walking through the halls of his division he greeted many of his division members – most of which were female – he knew Kyoraku was a womanizer but on his first day in office he was shocked to find that over 95% of his division members were of the opposite gender. That took some time getting used too. His nearly all female division didn't help in dissuading people from using his unofficial title of 'the sexy rogue that turns good girls bad.' he could feel his cheeks heating up as the gate came into view, just before exiting he greeted the two Eighth Division guards and upon turning right he came face to face with a group of three.
"Yo, Byakuya, Renji," he greeted, he didn't greet Lisa again because he'd obviously just seen her.
"Yo Ich-" Renji started, though a sharp look from his Captain made him correct himself, "Shiba-taichou." Ichigo just rolled his eyes, Byakuya was always a slicker for rules and regulations, he didn't care what Renji called the Eighth Division Captain when they were both off duty, but during regular hours it was 'Shiba-taichou'
Speaking of the man, Byakuya regally inclined his head before offering a greeting of his own, "Good afternoon, Shiba-tai-" this time it was Ichigo who interrupted the noble.
"Ah, ah, ah! We've already gone over this Byakuya, you and I are friends and in terms of rank and status were equals, there's no need to be so formal anymore." Even though he put up a front, Ichigo knew that Byakuya appreciated what he was doing. The man his it well but he had been lonely for a long time, yes, having Rukia with him helped him a lot, Renji too, but he had wanted a true friend again for a long time, and now Ichigo was that true friend that he's always wanted.
"My apologies, you are correct, Ichigo."
Both of them smirked – Byakuya did well to hide his but it was still there – as they started walking towards their destination, Renji and Lisa were trailing a few steps behind them, talking with each other. They had become good friends over the years due to Ichigo and Byakuya visiting each others divisions frequently.
"So how are things with your division, Ichigo?"
"Eh, same old same old." he replied, giving a lazy wave of his hand, "Paperwork is as boring as ever but I've gotten the hang of it, and with Lisa's help it doesn't take very long to finish. I recently demoted my third seat as well."
"Oh? What was your reasoning?"
"Mm, well when I first got here he was pretty fit for the job, I don't disagree with why Kyoraku-san originally promoted him but now he just doesn't make the cut. Many of my lower seats have already surpassed him in power and achieved Shikai, plus he just doesn't have a leadership mentality, hes to arrogant, believes himself to be above everyone else. I don't want people like that holding high positions in my division."
Byakuya nodded, "I believe you made the right choice then." he knew Ichigo's now former third seat and could understand his fellow Captain's reasoning.
"How's the sixth doing?"
"I have no complaints." he said simply, getting a nod from Ichigo, "Have you received word yet from the Central 46?"
A look of contemplation crossed the young Captain's face though it quickly switched to annoyance, "No, I haven't heard anything, what do they want now?"
Byakuya smirked at that reaction, so predictable, "They have called for another meeting between the four great noble houses, though I do not know what for."
"Che," in truth Byakuya did know, and so did Ichigo, they were trying to get a one up on Ichigo and regain some of their former control in the Seireitei however their plan had backfired horribly. Three years ago, Ichigo was called to the Chambers of the 46 where he was told that due to the machinations of Aizen, the Shiba's fell ungracefully from their former position, they wanted to reinstate them as one of the four great noble families however Ichigo was by rights and by law the next hair, so it was up to him.
At first he wanted to deny it, but then he remembered all the conversations he'd had with his father, Kukaku and Ganju about the Shiba clan and their former glory. They may have played it off well but Ichigo could tell how much pride they still held for their name of Shiba, and Ichigo could understand why, it was in his opinion the best out of the four just because it's lax rules. They didn't have a clan elder system to mess things up and they didn't force arranged marriage either, they believed in the concept of marrying for love and so did Ichigo.
So, for his father, and for Kukaku and Ganju he agreed, the Shiba's were reinstated as one of the four great noble families and had their land in the Seireitei returned, and Ichigo had his name legally changed to Ichigo 'Kurosaki' Shiba. He would never abandon the name Kurosaki, that was his mothers last name and he felt like he would be abandoning her and her memory if he did such a thing.
It was difficult at first, reallydifficult, there was so much paperwork, so many meetings with the Central 46, as well as many of the various noble families of the Seireitei who wished to get in the Shiba's good grace early on. A great noble family headed by a two time war hero? They were like rabid dogs trying to suck up to him as soon as the news was made public, and he couldn't just deny meeting requests from other families or else that would cause problems later down the line.
Thankfully he had such good friends who supported him because if he didn't he doubted that he'd be able to follow through with the revival of the Shiba Clan after all. When his father, Urahara and Yoruichi first found out they all made a trip to the Soul Society, his father had to follow some procedures to officially pass on the title of Clan head to Ichigo considering that technically Isshin still held the position, after a couple weeks of chaos when everything settled down, Urahara and Isshin returned to the world of the living, Yoruichi however stayed behind. She used to be the head of her own clan, and now that she had so much free time she decided that it would be best for her to stay in the Soul Society for a while and help Ichigo along.
Ichigo was surprised with how hardworking she could actually be when the need called for it, along with her, Byakuya and to a lesser extent Rukia each helped him greatly. The tutoring sessions with the Captain of the Sixth had given form to one of their favourite hobbies together, drinking tea in the gardens at the Kuchiki manor, that was often where they'd spend their time during breaks when Ichigo's head couldn't accept any more information.
Thanks to the help of Yoruichi, Byakuya and to and extent Rukia, Ichigo successfully did it, and like everything else in life his capacity for growth was astounding and within a year he was already at the top of his game, putting up with the crabbiest of nobles and dealing with the toughest of clans.
But, the Central 46 made one large mistake when they offered him the chance to bring the Shiba Clan black, they forgot to look into Ichigo's relationships with each of the clan heads, all of which were very good. Ichigo had a long history with the head of the Kuchiki clan and his younger sister, the current head of the Shihoin, Yushiro, was Yoruichi's brother, and even if Yushiro and Ichigo weren't friends already – which they were – then all Yoruichi would have to do is put in a word and the Shihoin would back Ichigo 100%, finally for the Kasumioji Clan, once again, Ichigo had a long relationship with Rurichiyo and she supported him completely. Their plan to regain authority in the Seireitei only served to further strengthen the Gotei 13 against them.
Sure, the Central wasn't as bad as they used to be, but no one wanted to trust them again, most believed it was time to give all control to the Gotei 13 and its Captains.
A soft flutter of cloth alerted the group of four to the newcomer, "Kuchiki-taichou, Shiba-taichou," she greeted, falling into step beside them. Byakuya merely inclined his head towards her in response.
"Yo, SoiFon, what brings you here?" Ichigo was much more vocal in his greeting.
"I thought I'd inform you that the Karakura group has just arrived, if you wished to greet them at the gate."
He brightened instantly at those words, he couldn't wait to see them, "Thanks for telling me, Soifon, I'll head there right now." the Captain of the Second nodded and flashed away again, she still had things to do. Turning his head to the left he addressed his other companion, "Yo, Byakuya, do you want to come? Or should we just meet at the hill?"
The Sixth Captain gave a head shake of his own in response, "No, I shall join you." and with that the two vanished in a Shunpo of their own, their Lieutenants quickly following after.
As soon as he arrived he noted some Shinigami were already present, saying hello to their friends from the human world, Ichigo couldn't even get a word or greeting out before he was brought into a large hug by his two younger sisters."
"Yuzu, Karin, it's so good to see you again." he responded, tightening his hold around them. As they continued to hug he glanced upwards from the space in between them and noticed his father giving him a smile from the group, one that he returned. Finally Yuzu and Karin relented in their hold on him and allowed him to greet everyone else, it was so good to see them all. Sure they still visited each other and had kept in touch through the ten years, but unlike him, all of his human friends were getting older and their lives were growing ever busier.
His father still ran the clinic, both Yuzu and Karin still lived at home with him though Yuzu had taken his old room over when he left, she had grown too big to still be sharing a room with her sister. As for what they had been up too, Yuzu graduated culinary school and is now taking part time courses in business for her new restaurant she just opened up in Karakura and Karin is riding a sports scholarship through University, just taking whichever courses peak her interest, she plans to play soccer internationally after she's all said and done with her schooling.
Urahara still run's his candy shop with Tessai though Ichigo still doubts that the man has ever had a customer, Yoruichi still bounces between the human world and the Soul Society, as free spirited as ever. Ururu and Jinta had started University as well, though Ichigo knew not what for.
Ishida had graduated University, with degrees in accounting and business he started his own company, he is known around the world for being a ruthless business man who always come's out on top. On the side he enjoys making clothing and he has a small fashion line that is quite successful itself.
Inoue is currently doing online courses for a medical school, after nine hard years she is finally close to graduating. She has remained a part time worker at the same bakery this whole time, while odd her cooking has become quite famous in town. Ryuken has offered her a position at his hospital for when she graduates, her abilities would help save a lot of lives.
Tatsuki opened her own Karate dojo which has become rather famous due to it's ability to continually produce and develop prodigies.
Chad is still in his band, they aren't famous worldwide but they have enough success to make it a living, he is happy. On the side he has his own class in Tatsuki's dojo which teaches young people the importance of using their fists for others, and not themselves.
Keigo is vice-president of a large game development company, he has found success and happiness.
Mizuiro hasn't found his true calling yet and is bouncing between part time jobs while attending University.
Ryo is a famous and accomplished runner, she has won gold at the Olympics twice.
Michiru is an elementary school teacher.
Chizuru, in her love for beautiful woman, chose the path of photography and is currently the lead photographer for a swimsuit magazine.
Mahana, much like Mizuiro, hasn't found her calling yet and works full time as a waitress.
To put it simply, everyone was doing well.
Everyone was curious as to what the big event was right now, no more then a couple weeks ago each of them were contacted and given invitations to come to the Seireitei for a big gathering and celebration, though no one knew yet what it was actually for. Figuring that they had waited long enough, the youngest of the two Quincy in the group asked what they were all wondering.
"Kurosaki, no one has told us anything yet, why did we all get invited here?"
Ichigo just waved him off, "Come on, don't be so impatient Ishida, you'll understand once we get to our destination." not wanting the Quincy to start sulking as Ishida hated not knowing things – the Captain of the Eighth gave them a clue. Turning to the side he stretched his arm out and pointed towards something, or more specifically somewhere in the distance.
Those who had only been here a couple of times didn't understand the importance of the landmark in which their eyes were directed too, but Ishida, Chad and Inoue did, and they could only stare wide eyed at not only the hill that held so many bad memories, but the fact that it was so different. Instead of the barren rock that stuck out like a sore thumb, it was now smaller – a side effect of the final battle with Yhwach – and at the very edge there was an enormous, but incredibly beautiful cherry blossom tree which shone out like a beacon of hope and peace for all of the Soul Society to see.
~ Sokyoku Hill
After finally climbing the long staircase and reaching the peak they were surprised to find that it was even more different then they last remembered. What once was a barren plateau of dirt, now had been reclaimed by mother nature and was covered in lush green grass which swayed softly. There were many other Shinigami on the hill with them, some of the Captain's and Lieutenants waved over to the various members of their group as they passed, but Ichigo had one destination in mind for them, and as they reached the base of the massive cherry blossom tree they all understood the purpose of today.
'In memory of all the brave men and woman who fell during the Thousand Year Blood War, thanks to each and everyone of you, the innocent people around the world may keep their smiles, may continue to live, grow old, share fond memories with friends and family.'
'We hope that you will forever rest in peace knowing that your sacrifice was not in vain.'
In a soft voice, that still managed to reach the ears of everyone present, Ichigo spoke. "You were each invited here today for a couple of reasons. The first, was to celebrate the completion of reconstruction in the Seireitei, and the second, was because of this. Today marks the ten year anniversary of the end of the Thousand Year Blood War, the day in which peace was returned to the world. Today is a day of remembrance for all the people who fell fighting for the balance of the world, but, today is also a day of happiness and celebration, a day which marks the end of a dark chapter, and the start of a new and much brighter future, not just for you or me, but for everyone.
So there it is, this is for the most part how I would have ended Bleach if I owned it, but I don't so this is the best I can do. I've wanted to do something like this since the actual ending but never got around to it until recently, I was having some writers block and so I said screw it and put that project on the side and just started writing this. I tried to cover most of the important things in this one shot but I did literally zero planning whatsoever so if there was something I missed then sorry.
If you guys care to know why I did some of the things the way I did in this one shot then stick around, if not I hope you enjoyed it and have a good day.
So first I guess I'll talk about the romance aspect, as you can see I didn't have any official pairings, I don't think Bleach needed them and they just made the ending more of a mess then it already was. I didn't try to write any Inoue bashing in this so I'm sorry if it came of like that but at the best of times I dislike her and at the worst I outright hate her. Even before I got into reading and writing fanfiction, even before Bleach was ever close to ending I disliked Inoue. I originally got into the series through the anime and I'm sure there are lots of people who would agree that her voice actor was annoying at best, there are only so many different ways I can hear 'Kurosaki-kun' before I want to rip my hair out.
And even more then that, I stand by my beliefs that I wrote in this story, I don't think Inoue ever truly 'loved' Ichigo, this isn't just me spouting random shit, it's fact that the only things she knows about him – and the things she does know a few and far in between – were told to her by someone else, mostly Tatsuki and Rukia, she never made an attempt to know the guy that she supposedly loved. The thing I hate most about her is the fact that she could never accept Ichigo as what he is, part hollow, she never could. Even at the end during the Yhwach fight when Ichigo used his new hollowfication she froze in fear again, Ichigo had to assure her that he was still him just for her to calm down, he shouldn't have to do that.
The only other person who showed real fear at Ichigo's hollow side was Ishida during the fight on Las Noches, and do you know how he responded? By saying "Stop Kurosaki, you've done enough Kurosaki, if you go any further than this then you won't be you anymore," he didn't say "stop hollow" or "stop you monster" he said "stop Kurosaki" he knew that no matter how terrifying he looked on the outside that it wasstill Ichigo and he just needed someone to help bring him back to the light. Inoue could never look past his appearance, her love for him was superficial, she loved him as a night in shining armour, nothing else.
Anyways that's enough of that, I know I'll probably get some angry IchiHime supporters in here throwing a fit, so it's best not to keep provoking the children lest I want a review section full of temper tantrums.
Next I'll talk about the refilling of the Gotei 13, I know that in the manga Lisa was Captain of the Eighth and Iba the Captain of Seventh but I disagree with that. I don't know enough about Iba or his powers to be comfortable doing something like that and besides I wanted the rest of the Visored to come back. It would have only been Hiyori, Love and Hachi in the world of the living and I think that's stupid, I feel like they'd want to stay together, the only thing that stopped all of them from returning before was that the soul society was the same as when they were wrongfully exiled, but it's different now, much different, and they know that Ichigo would never allow something like that to happen again, even if he had to fight the whole of the Soul Society.
Hachi was former Lieutenant in the Kido Corps and he'd definitely want to go back there so I made him Captain because we were never told anything about the Kido division or if they ever got a new Commader/Captain after Tessai and Hachi were branded as traitors. Love actually used to be Captain of the Seventh before their exile so that worked out perfectly, I just gave him his old spot back. Hiyori was a little difficult, I figured that shed only want to be in a division with Shinji so I made her a Co Lieutenant of the Fifth. That left two spots open, Captain of the Eighth which I wanted to go to Ichigo, and Lieutenant of the Thirteenth.
I'll start with the thirteenth, Ninth has two Lieutenants, but I doubt Hisagi or Mashiro would want to leave Kensei and so that left either Hiyori or Hinamori, as I stated earlier I doubt Hiyori would work for anyone other than Shinji and so she was out. Hinamori I could see transferring honestly, yes she had lots of ties with the Fifth that would make her want to stay however there are also a lot of bad memories tied with that division due to Aizen, so I think if given the chance to be Lieutenant somewhere else she would, and Rukia is her friend so why not?
Now for Ichigo, I know a lot of people are going to say that making him a Captain so soon was dumb, but I don't understand why. He's powerful, arguably the strongest Shinigami alive right now, he has charisma, he's intelligent, he's a born leader, he's literally the perfect person for a Captains position, the only thing he lacks is experience, but so what? You have to start somewhere, and look at his Lieutenant, Lisa, she served as Kyoraku's second in command for who knows how many years and we all know how lazy that man can be. She was basically a Co-Captain the whole time, she would easily be able to help Ichigo learn quickly and take up his extra slack until he got the hang of things. I believe that giving Ichigo anything less than a Captain's position is an insult to him.
Besides, I've always loved the idea of Kyoraku becoming an uncle like figure to Ichigo, teaching him life lessons, helping him through hard times and teaching him how to dual wield. I want Kyoraku to be to Ichigo what Yama-jii was to Kyoraku and Ukitake when they were younger.
Anyways, what else should I talk about. As you probably noticed I made Ichigo really close with Byakuya, Yoruichi and SoiFon. I've always felt that Ichigo and Byakuya would be best friends if given the chance, Byakuya was just like Ichigo is now when he was younger, wild and free spirited but much like Ichigo he was forced to grow up too fast. As for Yoruichi, she is my favourite female character, like ever, and also my favourite person to pair with Ichigo soooo, yeah haha.
As for SoiFon, I know a lot of people hate her and she is quite the bitch sometimes but I feel like people are too harsh on her. Look at how she grew up, trained as an assassin since she was young and the one person she really bonded with and grew feelings towards – Yoruichi – had to leave her for reasons she couldn't know, she thought she was abandoned by the one person she potentially loved for over a hundred years, how did you think she was going to be after all that?
Anyways that's all I really want to elaborate on. This wasn't perfect, there were some parts that maybe I should have elaborated further and some parts that I didn't need to go into so much detail with but I'm happy with the end result and that's all that matters. If you enjoyed it let me know, if you hated it, I guess you can tell me that too but I don't really care so it'd be best to just save your time and not bother.