Ichimaru Gin settled his insignia a little more elegantly, and again felt that little thrill of delight at its weight on his arm. There. Everything was as ready as he could make it.

Here on the walkway, he could look up and see the night sky of Seireitai. The stars ruled the night, but the moon above them was brighter than them all. They had shone down unpityingly once on a pair of children, hungry and afraid. They shone on him now just as kindly -- or just as unkindly -- as they had done then. Only a moron looks to Heaven for mercy. A sensible man takes what he can.

"Come in," his new Captain's voice said from inside.

He slid the door open and stepped inside, bowing politely. Aizen-taichou was kneeling at his writing desk, his attention on the papers piled in front of him. A plain brown robe was drawn round his shoulders, and his Captain's haori hung in the corner, like a white ghost against the wall. The lamplight struck glints from his glasses and from his zanpakutou where it lay on its stand.

Kyouka Suigetsu, Gin thought. He'd heard stories of the Captains' blades. Everyone had. They were the sort of tales that were passed round in the Academy, somewhere between daydreams and horror stories -- they did what and they killed how many? -- and that were repeated more thoughtfully by serving shinigami and seated officers, who had a better idea of what was possible, and a better idea of what they wanted.

Gin felt his perpetual grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. Oh yes, Aizen-taichou. Some day. Some day I'm gonna show ya.

"Ichimaru-fukutaichou," Aizen said formally. "Thank you for coming by."

Gin raised a hand to scratch the back of his head, feigning embarrassment. Act mild. Ingratiate yourself. "Aw, weren't nothing, Aizen-taichou. When you said you wanted a word with me tonight, no problem at all. Glad to be useful."

"It is a little late." Aizen glanced towards the lamps. "I hope that I haven't taken you away from any other appointments."

"Nothing important," Gin reassured him. This was going to be easy. The rumours he'd heard that Aizen Sousuke was one of the softer Captains were clearly true. Competent, of course -- what Captain wasn't? -- but not a lunatic like some, or a stone cold killer like others. The nice type, like Ukitake-taichou in Thirteenth. Polite. Gentle. Someone he could use.

"Then please," Aizen waved towards the mat close to him. "Do make yourself comfortable. I just need to finish this."

Gin nodded, walked across, and folded down to his knees. He looked round the room from under his eyelashes as Aizen finished his writing. It was well-furnished; expensively, but not gaudily so, with a degree of good taste that members of the aristocracy had been known to lack. A futon in the corner, with a few scattered pillows, suggested that the Captain was even in the habit of spending the night here. The quiet ticking of a clock barely broke the silence, whispering in the background almost more softly than the strokes of Aizen's brush on the paper.

He still wasn't sure quite why the Captain had requested his presence at this hour of the night. A private discussion about the Division? Possible; there might well be things that Aizen-taichou didn't want to discuss in public, or where they could be heard. Trying to find out more about his new Vice-Captain? Also possible; they were strangers to each other, and it made sense to know your subordinates. (Of course he would know everything about his own subordinates, when he was a Captain.) An assignation? Unlikely; he was certainly ready to take advantage if that was the case, but Aizen-taichou hadn't given any of the usual signs of interest.

He resigned himself to waiting, and a moment later, Aizen set down his brush and turned to face him.

"I regret the loss to your previous Division," Aizen began, "but I am glad to have you serving under me." He smiled mildly. "I should mention that I've had my eye on you for a while now."

Gin shrugged, still smiling, but the flame of smugness inside him tilted the corners of his grin that little bit further. "Well, I don't like to boast, taichou, but a man doesn't mind having his record known or being wanted, know what I mean? Shows he's doing his job properly."

"Indeed." Aizen seemed pleased by that bit of frankness. "Your zanpakutou is Shinsou, I believe?"

Gin nodded. "That's its name, taichou." Divine Spear. It rang in his head as he thought of it, whispering steel in the back of his mind, hungry to lunge out and kill. He had never been surprised by the nature of his zanpakutou, as some of the other shinigami were, had never felt ashamed by it or separate from it. It was the tool of his will, the other part of his spirit.

"May I see it?" Aizen asked, and held out a hand.

Gin blinked at the sudden shift in the level of the conversation. While it was normal enough to comment on the look or power of another shinigami's zanpakutou, to actually touch it or hold it was intimate. It wasn't done. It wasn't even suggested. Even in some of his own relationships, when he would have liked to see what it was like to take a bedmate's zanpakutou between his hands and find out what it would do to the other, he had enough delicacy not to suggest such a thing. Not that they'd have let him, anyhow, not even Rangiku, but . . .

He realised that Aizen was still waiting for an answer. "I -- taichou, that is . . ." He trailed off, trying to find words for no.

Aizen smiled paternally. "Just as your Captain, Ichimaru, nothing else. As I said, I've heard good things about you." His large hand was still open and outstretched, waiting.

Gin swallowed. Really, it wasn't as if the man was a lunatic or even so much as impolite, and he was his Captain, and maybe this was the sort of thing that a Vice-Captain should allow his Captain to see . . . The zanpakutou's hilt seemed to tremble in his hand as he drew it from his sash, and the curved guard caught the lamplight as he laid it in Aizen's hand, still sheathed.

"What a lovely piece of work," Aizen said softly, raising it to look at it more closely.

Gin swallowed again, and felt the pulse quicken in his throat. It would be rude to demand the zanpakutou back immediately, but surely Aizen would give it back after this moment's inspection. Surely he would.

"A wakizashi is perhaps a little unusual." Aizen brought the zanpakutou down again, and laid it across his knees. "It suggests a shinigami who prefers to keep his powers in reserve, don't you think, Ichimaru? A shinigami who has a fondness for only showing what he wants to."

Gin moistened his lips. "Taichou --"

Aizen eased the zanpakutou a fraction out of its sheath. The lamplight glimmered on the revealed blade, lying coldly on the steel.

Gin shut his mouth again, firmly, and folded his hands in his lap.

"Excellent quality," Aizen said approvingly. His hand closed around the hilt, and he slid the blade fully out of the sheath.

Gin felt as if he was on the edge of a precipice. He desperately wanted to demand his zanpakutou back, now, and damn the consequences, but if this was some sort of test then that might ruin his new Captain's opinion of him forever. And everyone knew that Aizen-taichou was a soft touch. A kind person. An easy person.

His throat was too tight. He swallowed again.

He looked at the man kneeling opposite him, and tried to see him properly, rather than through all the usual layers of habit and custom and easy idle visual shortcuts that went with the daily estimation of dangers around him. Wide shoulders. Large hands. Reiatsu rooted deep like a mountain. Eyes that he hides behind his glasses. A voice that persuades beyond any dictates of common sense.

Aizen ran a finger along the blade, and Gin gasped and bowed over, clutching at his chest, as he felt the touch inside, on nerves that the body shouldn't have. It was a pressure against his spirit, a coaxing yet firm movement on parts of him that should not be able to feel those things. "Taichou! Don't --"

Aizen clicked his tongue. "Really, Ichimaru. Telling your Captain no. That's not the sort of thing that you should do, is it?"

Gin set the palms of his hands on the floor, forcing himself upright. "But ya can't touch it like that," he said, through lips that felt both numb and sensitive at the same time.

"Can't." Aizen set his palm against the blade, and stroked it again, more firmly this time. "An interesting choice of words, Ichimaru."

This hadn't happened before -- this hadn't been done to him before -- he'd had lovers, he knew what it was to feel someone else's hands on him, but not on this innermost part of him, not such a violation. Gin's back arched and he shut his eyes as the gesture ran through his body, stroking down him; he couldn't think clearly, it was too close to him, he couldn't focus because it was his focus that was being touched and broken in such a familiar, intimate way.

"Come now." He was conscious of the touch being removed. It was almost the only thing that he was conscious of. "Gin. You're my Vice-Captain. You submit to me, don't you?"

The words echoed senselessly in the quiet room. They had no meaning. He still felt naked, open like a book that could be read, vulnerable. "You're my Captain," he mumbled, shaking his head. "But . . ."

"Good." He felt Aizen's hot breath against Shinsou, felt his Captain's lips touch it, felt just for a moment the brush of Aizen's tongue against the steel, and he moaned out loud, collapsing onto one elbow. It was echoes in his body, harmonics, a ripple in his pulse; Aizen's reiatsu ran over him and through him and around him, and he bowed down before it, let it touch him and know him.

There was a click as Aizen set the zanpakutou down on the ground.

Gin opened his eyes. The motion itself felt langorous, sensual; his body ached to be touched as his spirit had been. He smiled weakly at Aizen as his Captain leaned across to him and slid an arm under his body, drew him close.

Aizen was smiling as he kissed him, that same gentle, understanding smile that he had been wearing earlier. His mouth was firm and demanding as his tongue parted Gin's lips and as he deepened the kiss, dominating it as he dominated the embrace. With his free hand he traced a line down Gin's neck to his collarbone, then parted Gin's kimono at the neck, sliding back the fabric to expose his shoulder.

This was seducing his Captain, wasn't it? Or something? He'd meant to . . . the touch of Aizen's hand against the naked skin of his shoulder distracted Gin, as Aizen traced an old scar round onto his back, his fingers firm against it as though he was painting it into Gin's skin. He was conscious that Aizen was baring his other shoulder, but it wasn't important, not when he needed so badly to feel his Captain's hands on him. He leaned into the kiss, gasping as Aizen's hands moved down his back, warm and solid in the cool evening air.

"Gin," Aizen said softly, "my Vice-Captain. You belong to me, don't you?"

Yes. Yes, of course he did.

"What do you want me to do?"

"Please." It was so hard to breathe. He had to hold Aizen against him, to rest his cheek against the other man's chest,. He had to be closer. The air whispered against his skin but wasn't what he wanted to feel, wasn't his Captain touching him. "Please, I'm yours --"

"You're so wanton." There was a deep amusement in Aizen's voice. His Captain's large hands traced round his ribs to the front of his chest, paused for a moment to stroke his nipples, then gently grazed down to the waist of his hakama.

Gin closed his eyes again and shuddered. He had been played with before -- had, far more to his preference, played with others -- but had never felt so exposed, so totally vulnerable. It scored through the haze of eroticism like nails through cloth, but he couldn't shake the dizziness away, couldn't break this thrall of submission. As he felt the ties of his hakama come undone, felt the waist loosen as Aizen gently eased it down and away, he opened his eyes again to look at his Captain.

Aizen returned the gaze calmly, and for the first time Gin could see, even through the glasses, the deep control that underlaid the calm, the steel will beneath the mild surface. He'd thought he could manipulate this man. Now he just wanted to cling to him, to mold himself to him.

Shinsou murmured in the back of his mind, still shaking with the echo of fingers on steel, and Gin moaned in response.

He was naked now. He didn't remember the stages in between, not properly, just a tangle of images and touches, and now he was lying here amid his crumpled clothing, the armband insignia lost somewhere in the tumble of black robes. Aizen slid an arm under his knees and another around his shoulders and picked him up, carrying him across the room in a few smooth strides to the futon and the pile of cushions there.

Gin raised a hand to trace the line of Aizen's chin delicately, brushing the corner of his Captain's mouth with one daring finger before following the line of his throat down to where his robes covered his chest. It was closer to what he needed, this urge to feel skin against skin, but it wasn't enough.

Aizen put him down against the cushions, setting him down with as much care and gentleness as he had done the zanpakutou earlier, kneeling beside him.

No, Gin thought through the haze, please touch me, hold me, I need you, please . . .

"What do you want me to do?" Aizen asked. He was a robed silhouette against the lamplight, dark hair and darker eyes. He laid the palm of his hand on Gin's stomach, the edges of his sleeve trailing across Gin's body. "Gin?"

It was so sensual to hear his name in his Captain's mouth. So personal. So close. "Please, Taichou," he whispered. "I want you . . ."

"That's right." Aizen's hand moved lower, stroked along Gin's length in a ruffle of fingers and silken sleeve, and Gin closed his eyes and arched his back, biting his lips as he struggled not to cry out. "Yes, that's right. You belong to me." He slid his other hand under Gin's shoulder and gently rolled him onto his side, so that the cold air whispered down his back and buttocks. "And now I'm going to take you, aren't I?"

The words were a comfort that Gin could hold on to. "Yes," he agreed blindly. "Yes, taichou."

He could map Aizen by sound and by touch now, behind him; he could hear the whisper of clothing, feel the brush of lips against the back of his neck, and then the harder pressure of teeth; feel the large hands that traced down his back to his buttocks, that parted them as he lay there trying not to whimper, trying not to let himself beg; feel the finger that slipped into him, the slow movement, the slick pressure.

"Hush, Gin," Aizen whispered, so close to his ear. "Be quiet for me."

He bit his lip again and clutched at one of the cushions, unable to hold his Captain as he wanted to, only able to submit to the hand on the small of his back, to Aizen thrusting into him, and finally, finally he was being taken, being screwed, the vocabulary of his urchin past coming back to him as he lay there and gasped, and it was almost enough, Aizen inside him and using him, Aizen's hand on him and around him and stroking him and finally giving him release, a moment that lasted a dozen heartbeats as he tensed and spasmed and then gave way to lie quiet under his Captain, in his Captain's arms.

Slowly, slowly the echoes started to fade, and the pressure against his spirit paled like the clouds after thunder. He lay there under Aizen, naked in the pile of cushions, and he could not bring himself to turn around and look at his Captain. It wasn't shame, and it wasn't fear, and it wasn't even bitterness or anger, but he was afraid that if he met the other man's eyes, he would submit again and beg.

He'd been wrong. Aizen Sousuke had all the power that anyone could want. He just hadn't chosen to show it. Gin should have recognised that. He wanted that power, but he couldn't -- his mind was still in turmoil, he couldn't frame the words properly -- he couldn't do anything except submit to it, submit to his Captain, both spirit and flesh.

"You're my Vice-Captain," Aizen said again, and stroked his hair. "Don't worry, Gin. Go to sleep. I'll keep your zanpakutou safe."

For a moment, Gin imagined his blade, Shinsou, Divine Spear, arcing out over a moonlit ocean, falling into darkness. The image went down with him into sleep, as he lay there naked, still yearning towards his Captain's touch.