Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...
Let's keep going, shall we? Sorry, it's a little short.
Hueco Mundo High School
He adjusted his glasses and looked around the large classroom at the various teenage faces from his perch in the back. They were too busy chatting or engaging in horseplay to even notice his presence. All except one, of course.
"Yo, Sosuke, what's up?"
Aizen scowled as he registered the quiet, deep baritone of his tall, dark-haired neighbor. He adjusted his glasses again and slowly faced the handsome teen settling into the desk beside him. He gulped a little and studied the clear blue eyes that always seemed to see right into his soul.
James Jaegerjaques, better known to his peers as JJ, smirked and turned to the backpack he'd just plopped onto his desk. "You talk like an old man, dude."
The first time JJ had accused him of such, Aizen had been indignant, totally offended at the notion...until JJ had turned that disarming smile on him. Against all better judgement, Aizen had swallowed his anger and accepted the gentle ribbing. Now, he was used to it, so, instead of getting upset as he was prone to do, he rolled his eyes and hid his own smile.
Before he could make a comment, the classroom door burst open, revealing a blond teenager with a weird haircut. The teen made a beeline for JJ's desk, grin wide and up to no good. He swooped in for what Aizen assumed was a hug, but JJ's large hand prevented it, grasping the blond boy by his narrow face.
"Kisuke, use your words," JJ rumbled.
Urahara Kisuke straightened with an exaggerated pout and crossed his arms over his chest. "So mean. Anyway, guess what, JJ!"
"No, just tell me."
Urahara rolled his eyes and perched on the edge of JJ's desk, mouth opened to no doubt start trouble, but before he could get another word out, a smooth voice floated from behind.
Aizen watched a tall, Cuban teenager stroll towards the desk on JJ's right before slipping into it and pinning Urahara with a deadly, olive-green glare. Urahara thinned his lips and sank into the seat in front of JJ, who turned to the newcomer with a sideways smirk that gave Aizen butterflies.
Javier Yasutora shrugged, grin cryptic and haunting. "Just Kisuke being a chismoso."
JJ shrugged. "Oh. ...What's that?"
Javier chuckled, voice already deeper than the usual teenage boy's. "Ehm...gossip?"
JJ's eyes brightened with a mischievous light as he snorted. "That makes a lot of sense now."
"Heyyyy," Urahara whined like a five-year old. "I'm right here, you know."
"Jesus Christ, Kisuke, shut uuuuuuup," a slow, lazy drawl grumbled, though muffled.
Aizen craned his neck to get a glimpse of the sleeping brunet draped over the desk in front of Javier. Coyote Stark had his head buried in his arms, his voice emanating from the depths of the pit he'd created. He carefully lifted his head, wavy brown locks brushing across his face as he sent Urahara an arctic-gray death stare.
JJ smirked at the scene as Javier chuckled. Aizen sighed and shook his head as the teacher entered the classroom and called the students to order. What he'd just witnessed was nothing new. The group of teens were thick as thieves, every last one of them sinfully handsome and popular in their own ways. However, Aizen only had eyes for one of them, and that one was currently leaning across the aisle in his direction, blue eyes vivid as the ocean on a clear, Summer day.
"Sosuke, you got a pen?"
Javier massaged the space between his eyebrows as he gave a hefty sigh. "Sosuke...this is not news. In fact, I'm sure we all knew of your infatuation with JJ. It doesn't explain why you suddenly began to hate him...so much so that you fucking shot him."
Aizen's deep brown eyes narrowed with what Javier could only identify as annoyance. He sat back in the comfortable chair and steepled his fingers, his gaze cool as he considered Javier.
"Are you going to let me tell my side of the story? Or are you content with interrupting and assuming?"
Javier arched a brow and did his own version of sitting back and regarding the man before him. Aizen wore an impeccable poker face when he wanted to; it was one of the things that infuriated everyone who knew him.
"Fine. My apologies. Please, do continue."
Hueco Mundo High School
Aizen gathered his belongings as the bell rang signaling the end of class. Their math instructor had been feeling particularly cranky, tossing out a pop quiz when Urahara had gotten too mouthy. That had done nothing but turn the entire class against the blond. Aizen thought it was hilarious. The students could never really hold a grudge against their beloved class clown anyway.
Aizen climbed to his feet, slung his bag over his shoulder and was headed towards the door, when a strong hand gripped his upper arm for a brief moment. He turned to the offender and froze up. JJ was standing over him, his height impressive, his serious face inhumanly handsome.
"Your pen," he grunted.
Aizen glanced down at the black pen he'd loaned JJ earlier in the class and shook his head. "Keep it. I have others."
"You sure? I know how you can be about your stuff."
"I said so, didn't I?"
JJ's smile teased the corners of his full lips. "Yeah, you did. Thanks, Sosuke."
Aizen nodded as JJ eased by towards the door. He smelled amazing as usual, like a lazy Sunday morning, and his shoulders were broad and strong looking. He didn't realize he'd stopped in his tracks to stare at the young man until a pair of curious, gray eyes brought him out of his reverie. Urahara's gaze was entirely too amused for Aizen's liking, so he averted his stare and hustled out of the classroom.
He tried to move through the hall unseen, as was his usual, but this time, he wasn't alone. A slender arm found its way across his shoulders, and when he glanced over, he came face to face with a narrow, devilish smirk.
"Hey, Aizen. Can we have a chat?"
Aizen wanted to roll his eyes and depart from the entire situation but figured he would entertain it, just because he was curious of what Kisuke Urahara could possibly want.
"What is it that you wish to chat about?"
Urahara paused for a few seconds before bursting into laughter. "You really do talk like an old man, huh?"
Aizen wanted to protest until he realized that Urahara's words meant that JJ had to have mentioned him to his friends. The thought almost made him blush. Instead he averted his eyes and waited for Urahara to say what he had to say.
"Well, anyway. I noticed that you tend to stare at my buddy a lot. Does that mean you have a crush on him?"
Aizen scowled. He'd had an idea that this was the topic of discussion on Urahara's mind, but what Aizen didn't understand was why Urahara felt it was his business.
"Why should I answer that?"
As if affronted, Urahara mock-gasped, an impish grin curling the right side of his mouth. "Because I might be able to help you!"
"You expect me to believe that?" Aizen snorted with a roll of his eyes.
Before Urahara could continue, yet another loud, boisterous voice filled the hallway, interrupting the conversation. A tall, dark-haired teen moved through the crowd of students effortlessly, eyes dancing with mischief.
"Yo! JJ!" the teen called, although his shouting seemed completely unnecessary.
Aizen tried to discretely find his blue-eyed crush, even with Urahara's thin arm still slung across his shoulders. It didn't take long to spot JJ casually leaning against a locker, arms folded over his broad chest.
"Isshin, isn't it too early for you to be this noisy?"
The other tall, dark-haired teen grinned from ear to ear as he sidled up beside JJ. They were close to the same height, JJ beating Isshin by a scant few centimeters.
"It's never too early to be joyous, my good buddy!" Isshin crowed as he too leaned against a locker.
JJ snickered and went silent. It appeared Isshin had much more to say, but his attention was suddenly stolen by an apricot-haired beauty who happened to walk by with a few of her equally pretty friends. She glanced over at Isshin with a coy grin, her finger twining a coil of hair around it before she turned back to her friends. The effect was instantaneous. Isshin's eyes went dark with unmistakable determination as he mumbled something under his breath and followed behind the object of his heart's desire.
Everyone in Hueco Mundo High knew about Isshin Kurosaki's mountainous crush on Masaki. It even served as amusement for the teachers. Masaki had yet to acknowledge Isshin's devotion, but everyone could also see that she liked him just as much as he liked her. It was inevitable that they end up together. Masaki just seemed to enjoy torturing the boy until then.
Aizen sighed and rolled his eyes, his gaze going back to his own crush. His situation was pretty hopeless, however. Even though JJ was quiet, his presence was a powerful force. Many students sensed it and had their sights set on him, girls and guys alike. Aizen knew he didn't stand a chance, but the thought was a nice one.
His heart stuttered in his chest when he realized that he was being watched by said crush. JJ had his head tilted to the side a bit, a perfect dark brow arched in confused amusement. And that was when Aizen remembered his unwanted guest. Huffing a breath, he shrugged away from Urahara's grip. The moment had passed, and there was no way in Hell Aizen was about to share his secret with Kisuke the gossip – offer to help be damned.
For the next few months, school crept by as usual. It was their last year in high school, but nothing had changed. In fact, it seemed things were meant to stay the same. Except for one, of course.
Aizen's eyes were glued to the book in his hands as he enjoyed the crisp weather outside on one of the benches surrounding the large campus. Imagine his shock when a tall being gracefully settled beside him, movements stealthy as a cat's. Startled, he turned to his guest and had to keep his mouth from falling open.
"…What's up, Sosuke? Why ya out here all alone?"
It took a while for Aizen to find his voice. "I-um…I uh…I enjoy it. Being alone. Actually."
JJ chuckled. "You don't sound too sure about that."
Aizen shrugged as he pretended to focus on his book again. "I'm used to it." After a small stretch of quiet, his curiosity got the best of him and made him turn back to the beautiful teen beside him. "What are you doing here, James?"
JJ gave him a sideways glance and shrugged. "I like bein' around you for some reason."
Aizen's blush was sudden and all-consuming. That had been the last thing he'd expected from JJ. It was almost too much. What did that mean, exactly? Was JJ saying that he enjoyed Aizen's company? Did he want to be…friends? He had to be sure.
"Are you making fun of me?" he asked, eyes narrowed.
JJ outright laughed at that, the sound deep and hypnotizing. "No, man. I'm just saying. It's peaceful around you. Even though you talk like an old geezer."
The last statement had been made with a sly grin that made Aizen's blush flare up again. This was going to be an issue. Aizen coughed into his fist, squirming, trying to find something to say that wouldn't feel so awkward.
"Don't think too hard about it."
Aizen nodded, heat reaching the tips of his ears, down to his chest. "OK."
"What book ya readin'?"
"Um…The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Have you ever heard of it?"
JJ didn't turn to face him, but Aizen saw him smirk. "Yeah, actually. It's one of my favorites. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, huh? You read the other two books in the series?"
Aizen couldn't stop himself from staring if he tried. He was mind-blown. And sure, it was kind of lame of him to judge JJ by his appearance, but it didn't hide the fact that this was yet another unexpected side of his crush. Just what else didn't he know about JJ?
"I-I have. They're equally as enthralling. Would you also happen to read Dan Brown?"
JJ turned to face him this time, a big smile forming. "The author of the DaVinci Code and Inferno? Angels and Demons? The Lost Symbol? Hell yeah, I've read his stuff. It's extremely 'enthralling,' as you say."
Aizen couldn't keep himself from smiling in return. Dan Brown and Caleb Carr were two of his most favorite authors, and JJ not only knew of them, but he favored them as well. It was such an adrenaline-inducing feeling that suddenly caused him to open up like an automatic door.
"I love his writing. After the first time I read the DaVinci Code and The Lost Symbol, I had goosebumps and chills for days. He gives such life to the characters, and his action scenes are so engaging – you feel like you're actually there witnessing it, rather than just reading it. It's really good stuff. And there's this other book that I think you'd like…why are you looking at me like that?"
Aizen's speech came to an abrupt stop at the bewildered look on JJ's face. Had he said something wrong?
JJ took a moment, but finally smiled – a genuine one – and shrugged. "That's just the most I've ever heard you say at one time since I met you."
Aizen really wished he could hide his blush. It was so embarrassing.
"Just try it. You won't regret it, I promise."
Aizen smirked as he watched a wrinkle form across a straight nose and blue eyes narrow.
"What is it?"
"You really are like a child, aren't you?"
"Don't be a jerk, Sosuke. Can't ya just tell me what that is?"
"No," Aizen stated, small grin still lifting the corner of his lips. "Here. It's good."
JJ grimaced but held out a large hand. Aizen set the small pastry in the dark-haired teen's palm with a satisfied flourish, chuckling quietly when JJ rolled his eyes and popped the treat into his mouth, albeit with a slight hesitation. After chewing for a moment, JJ's face brightened with pleased surprise.
"Wow, that is good. …What is it?"
Aizen finally relented with a smug look. "It's a mango cake puff."
JJ hummed and licked his lips. "I like it."
Aizen, however, was too busy staring at his crush's mouth. JJ was unfairly handsome, but he didn't even acknowledge it. At least, Aizen didn't think so. He was still ogling the other teen when a deep, low laugh startled him out of his reverie.
"Ya know, Sosuke, you stare at me a lot. Why's that?" JJ drawled as he leaned over the small cafeteria table where they were seated.
Aizen felt like he'd suddenly swallowed his tongue. He tentatively met vivid blue eyes, wondering if JJ was making fun of him. But he should have known better. JJ made it very clear when he was joking around. Right now, he was deadly serious. Aizen opened and closed his mouth a few times, wondering just what he could say that wouldn't reveal his true feelings. He couldn't confess and risk being utterly humiliated.
Before he could answer the casual question, a thump indicated another person's arrival at the table. Olive-green eyes twinkled as Javier Yasutora gave them a benevolent grin.
"My, my. You two sure have been spending a lot of time together." With that, he turned to JJ specifically. "Am I missing something?"
JJ let his gaze linger on Aizen for a while longer as if saying he wouldn't forget about their conversation, then he faced his best friend. "Yer not usually this nosy, Jav. What's up?
Javier shrugged and leaned his chin in his palm, his arm resting on the table. "I dunno. I guess I'm just curious. You never show this much interest in anyone outside of our circle."
JJ chuckled and mimicked Javier's pose. "What're you, my mom now?"
Aizen watched his crush, completely enraptured. JJ was not only handsome but smart, witty, funny, and his voice did very wicked things to Aizen's imagination. There were many times he caught himself wishing he could be a little bolder with the dark-haired teen. However, he knew that was wishful and foolish thinking. JJ couldn't possibly be interested in him.
He quietly observed the conversation, a smile forming without his permission. He'd discovered over the recent time spent with JJ that what had seemed like a quiet, aloof person at first had, in fact, turned out to be a rather talkative teenager. Aizen supposed it had to do with JJ's comfort levels. The more comfortable he felt around someone, the more he had to say. Aizen's face warmed a little at the thought of JJ being relaxed enough to chat openly with him.
"We're having a meeting at my place later. Are you still coming?" Javier asked.
JJ nodded, expression guarded. "I'll be there."
With that, the Cuban teen gracefully left the table. Once he was a suitable distance away, JJ gave Aizen an intense look, blue eyes blazing under the fluorescent lighting.
"So, you gonna answer my question or not?" he rumbled. "I didn't forget, ya know."
Aizen sighed. There didn't seem to be a way out of this predicament at all. He'd had a temporary savior in Javier, but now the spotlight was back on him. He was still trying to come up with something that wouldn't make him look like an idiot, when JJ gave a low chuckle that seemed to vibrate the table. He slowly rose from the table and glanced down at Aizen with a knowing grin.
"I already know, Sosuke. I jus' wanted ta see if you would tell me yerself. I'll wait 'til yer ready, though."
After such profound statements, JJ ambled away, gait slow and confident. Aizen stared, stunned and speechless.