Ichimaru Gin was one of the greatest vice-captains in the Gotei 13. Kira knew about him even before he entered the Academy, though that wasn't uncommon. The captains and vice-captains were famous. Still, the tales didn't prepare him for actually seeing the man.

Kira had walked past Gin on his first day at the Academy. It was a bright day and there was a light breeze stirring the dust in the courtyard. Kira would grow to hate that dust - it seemed to cling to everything when he was a student. Gin had been standing at the far end of the courtyard, well away from where the new students were being herded through the halls in a quick tour. Captain Aizen was there too and they were talking with a few of the other captains and vice-captains - Captain Tosen, Vice-captains Hisagi, and a few others he didn't remember. Gin was smiling and Kira's first thought of him was that Gin was a snake hiding behind the captains. It made him think of power.

Kira remembered thinking how cool the captains were, cooler than he'd ever be - a level of power that was unattainable for normal Shinigami. He hadn't thought much of it at the time, but for minutes afterward he'd felt like he was being watched. He told himself it was just nerves.

Classes consumed him. He'd always been good at studying, but he wasn't the only one. There were other bright students here, some as good as him, maybe even some that were better. He put his whole concentration into learning. The sound of clashing swords became the rhythm of his day. Training was everything to a student, always training. If he was going to be a Shinigami, he wanted to be one of the best Shinigami and then maybe the captains would notice him.

They already had, but he didn't know that.

Still, it was fun. He had friends - Renji and Hinamori were like the siblings he never had. He got along well with most of the people in his class and what time wasn't spent studying was spent with others, until he couldn't remember a time when there wasn't someone nearby. The loneliness that had filled him after his parents death faded - he hadn't even realized he'd been so lonely until he wasn't anymore.

He remembered the sun and laughter and the perpetual clouds of dust that came with school - normally it was from Renji unexpectedly knocking him over with a kick while they were walking or knocking him flat in combat training. He learned the difference between the crack of two swords crossing in midair and the hollow his of one sword sliding against another in a parried side-strike. He also recognized the sound of someone about to hit the ground. Most often, in those early days, he was the one falling. Every day ended with his robes caked in dust.

He smiled more in those years than he ever had before or since.

Dust didn't stick to the captain's robes. It seemed like it was a student thing, the dust. He remembered wondering if their last lesson just before they graduated would be some magical trick to keep the dust off of them.

He saw Gin a couple more times his first year, always brief flashes from far away, normally through a crowd of people. Gin was like a snake hiding in the long grass - quiet, deadly. A couple times he'd even thought Gin was looking at him but that seemed strange. Kira was nothing, just a student - a student at the top of his class, but still a student.

Then his class had gone on their fated field trip to the human world and everything changed. He hadn't realized how brave he could be until Hinamori showed him. Watching Gin fight... it was beyond amazing. That was when he finally decided that he was going to be a vice-captain - Gin's vice-captain - and his entire definition of himself shifted. It didn't matter that the vice-captains had an insane amount of power. He was smart, he could get there. He had to.

Gin noticed him in his second year. Kira liked to tell himself that Gin remembered him from the many times their paths had crossed - that the vice-captain really had been watching him. After the field trip, he'd found himself almost preternaturally aware of Gin's proximity. When Gin spoke, even if it wasn't to him, it was like a magnet, pulling Kira towards him.

After Gin had noticed him, actually spoke to him, it was like a spark lit inside of him. He would have done anything for Gin. Anything. All Gin had to do was ask.

Gin never asked.

Every word, every faint touch - it was like a promise, though Kira didn't know of what. They became close as Kira rose through the ranks in training. They were becoming comrades. After he graduated Captain Aizen picked him for the same unit. He served with Gin.

If anyone noticed how much Kira doted on Gin, they didn't say anything. He knew Matsumoto knew, but in that they shared the same obsession. They never spoke of it, but it was a bond between them - they both loved the same man.

"Come to my room tonight," Gin told him, one warm night not long after Kira had graduated.

He'd gone, obediently. Gin called him in even before he'd knocked on the door. He slid the door open and wondered why Captain Aizen was there.

"Close the door."

He'd closed it and Aizen drew his sword. There was a flash of light and he didn't remember anything after that.

When he woke, he was lying down, naked on Gin's bed. There were no covers and Gin was smiling at him. He hadn't known whether to be excited or afraid.

"Shh," Gin had said before Kira had even made a sound. Then Gin leaned forward to kiss him and he couldn't have made a sound. Gin's lips were cold. For a brief moment, he wondered if Gin really was part snake. But the tongue that slipped inside his mouth wasn't forked and the inside of Gin's mouth was warm - making up for the heat lacking in Gin's lips. Chill hands lifted his legs and he froze in surprise - or perhaps it was fear disguised by admiration.

Gin leaned back to align himself. He was still mostly dressed, his robe parted in the front and his pants pushed down to his knees, and at the time that had struck Kira as the oddest thing about the entire evening.

Then Gin pushed himself inside Kira, with no warning and no preparation, and he screamed. Or he would have screamed except for Gin's hand tight over his mouth, clamped down hard enough that only a muffled whimper escaped.

"Don't make a sound." Gin's eyes made that a warning, opened a slight fraction, enough for Kira to see the chill blue normally hidden behind lowered eyelids.

It hurt, it hurt like he was being stabbed repeatedly and he almost wondered if Gin really had shoved his Zanpakuto inside of Kira. But the flesh was warm, not cold steel, and he kept telling himself that he wanted this. Gin's hands on him distracted him, sliding over flesh - pulling his legs up higher, rubbing up along Kira's chest, holding his arms over his head for a brief moment before letting go and moving elsewhere. Teeth too distracted him and it took Kira a while before he didn't flinch every time Gin bit down on another part of his body. He'd have bruises tomorrow, and aches in his legs that would be hard to explain.

He came before Gin did and it felt strange, lying underneath Gin, both hands clenched in the back of Gin's robe, while he waited for Gin to finish. From what the other students had said, sex was supposed to be one of the most enjoyable thing you could do. The most enjoyable, if you asked some.

Kira wasn't sure if he enjoyed it, or even if Gin did.

He remembered feeling relieved when Gin finally stopped, his seed dripping from between Kira's thighs as Gin pulled away. He used a rag to wipe himself before pulling his pants up and fixing his robe. This was another thing, like the dust, Kira thought. Gin looked impeccable while Kira felt like he'd been ripped apart.

"Get dressed. Go to bed."

Gin shifted back to give him room to get up. Instead of feeling hurt, he felt empty. His clothes were waiting, folded next to the bed for him. He didn't look at Gin while he dressed, or while he quietly walked to the door.


He stopped. Gin's hands turned him and those cold lips kissed him once more. Gin was smiling, like always and he knew now how hollow it was. One of Gin's hands trailed over his throat.

"You're mine now."

That was not the last night he spent in Gin's bed. Some nights he remembered, some he didn't. Gin was a snake and Kira, his mouse, running around on the glass stage Aizen had set. It was all part of the show, all of it, and when Gin finally shed his skin and broke out of the cage, he didn't need his little mouse anymore.

He would have gone with Gin. All he had to do was ask.

Gin never asked.