You who haunts those
Of the dreaded night


Laying Judgment


Smile to hide those ugly scars,
That rotting heart,
corrupted might.

He's never been normal, as far as normal has ever been concerned. He knows this like he knows that he has a strange talent for killing. He knows this like he knows the fact that he simply has no heart to speak of. He's been third-seat of the fifth squad for a while, unable to move forward because his sword doesn't have a name. It's a stupid excuse to keep a young prodigy like him from advancing, but he doesn't really care. He's all past caring.

It's morning when he lazily stretches and moves to get off his futon. He's still the same as ever, the same as when those kids in Rukongai had steered clear of him, the same as when he'd cut down the useless excuse for a third seat. His frame is thin, but not slight. It makes his above average height seem positively monstrous and he enjoys it. He enjoys the fear radiating off of his subordinates as he walks by them, one pale and skeletal hand waving greetings while the other is clasped firmly onto his sword. He's the loose cannon in the thirteen squads, the Devil to Aizen's supposed Angel—or maybe the right word is God, he isn't sure. It's ludicrous anyways. God doesn't exist. Never has and never will.

But he's in it for the thrill—the ride. He loves chaos and Soul Society's rigid structure irritates him, but not enough for his ever-there smile to drop for even a second. They aren't worth that. He goes through the routines of training some of the new lackeys, one hand cupping the cheek of one of the spirited females in a mock caress. She stares back at him with defiance burning brightly like flames in a hallowed skull. He laughs, tells her that her form is perfect, and moves on. He's sure she'll apply for a transfer by tomorrow.

Aizen doesn't like defiance, after all.

It's with a quiet, sinister whistling tune that he waves goodbye to Aizen and turns to go back home. The clouds hang low on the sky, thunder rumbling from a distance away. There's danger in the air, as cliché as that sounds, but it surrounds him and dulls his senses. He should be alert, but he isn't. He reaches languidly for his sword and freezes when the edge slices open his palm instead. His smile vanishes briefly, eyes narrowing in a look of pensive apprehension at the otherwise perfectly ordinary blade.


The rain mingles in with the sound of his blood hitting the empty street and he continues onwards, never taking his eyes off of the road ahead. His mouth is pulled into a grim line and he uses more force than he should as he slides open the door to his living quarters. Behind him, lightening cracks the sky apart. It fades away in the background, hides itself beneath the curtain of rain and the growing discontent of the sky.

The next flash sends with it a sharp jolt through his heart. He lurches forward, eyes widening in surprise and steadies himself against the floor, breath coming out in heavy and sharp gasps. Impossible, he thinks and turns disbelievingly to the still-open door. The thunder comes to fill the silence and a voice tears into his mind, crystal clear and deadly. There are words, but he can't hear them because the thunder is growing louder and louder (or is it the beating of his frantic heart?) and his eyes blur as a third lightening flash sends another searing pain through his body. He grits his teeth and swears softly, the edge of his lips twisting up into a malicious smile. He can play the game. And he knows exactly what's happening. Outside, the rain rises up to meet his door, flowing and swirling around his ankles and hands. He jerks uncontrollably and forces himself to a standing position, eyes gleaming in the darkness.

"It's a pity you aren't having much fun. I thought you'd enjoy having the tables turn on you for once, my dear wielder. Guess not." The voice is consuming his thoughts in his mind and he flexes his fingers warningly, raising the burning sword with shaking hands. He opens his mouth to respond, an unnecessary move since he can just communicate through thoughts, but the words lodge in his throat as the next lightening flash brings him back down to his knees.

He hisses, slowly and painfully, and gets back up. This is his game, sword spirit or not. And he will never get on his knees for anyone. "This must be too boring for you, I guess." He comments in between harsh breathing and lingering jolts of pain but his tone is still the same as ever—uncaring, flippant, mockingly polite and sinister.

"Aren't you considerate? Would you like for me to stop now? Maybe you're not ready yet." The voice laughs softly in his head, and Gin draws up his smile again, jagged edges of teeth glimpsing from behind tightly pressed lips. The words are thrown out casually from the heated sword in his hand, as if consideration and thought are things quite unneeded in life. It's almost amusing, to think that they can be so similar and try so hard to break one another. He shrugs thin shoulders and braces himself as the air fairly crackles with eminent warning.

"Saaa…who knows? It'll be the same either way." He murmurs as the next lightening flash splits the sky in half. And his heart is beating erratically, as if the blood is turning and turning on itself, rushing and swirling in all the wrong directions. It's as if his heart has been punctured and the blood is leaving it until there will be nothing left. He feels bloated and empty.

He stumbles, grasps wildly for a solid support, features struggling to keep his smile, but it's all in vain. He staggers for a step, and then two. But the darkness washes over his eyes and he crumples to the floor.

His heart stops beating.

From the crevices of his mind, a voice rings hollowly, echoing words of the future. "I'm just kidding. I wouldn't have stopped even if you'd asked me to."

The world blurs in front of him, spinning and spinning until he can feel his cold, dead heart drop to the pit of his stomach. He's on the ground in this strange new place, blood trickling out from the corner of his still-smiling mouth. He pushes himself up slowly to his elbows and then into a sitting position, eyes glancing briefly from place to place. It's a world of metal and puzzles twisting into themselves. He glances down and sees a massive chessboard displayed beneath his feet. He is a playing piece, the King of the black pieces. Instinctively, he turns to regard the white pieces before him and opens his eyes in mild contemplation at what he finds there.

"Funny, I thought you'd look a bit more like little 'ole me." He drawls, shifting slightly on his marked place.

His sword smiles back, the grin anything but comforting. "Did you? That's just too bad." A slender hand with spider-like fingers lifts to push away a lock of flame-colored hair from a pale face. Cool amber eyes blink slowly before narrowing into a well-amused expression. "It's your move."

And so it is. Gin pretends to think about it carefully, though the next move is obvious. He directs a fidgeting pawn forwards and watches as it is sacrificed. He does it to humor his sword, to watch the growing expression of satisfaction turn to understanding and then to surprise once he makes his true move. But he isn't in a hurry and he bides his time, watching as more and more of his players are sacrificed or killed unnecessarily.

"You're not even trying." His sword says mildly, flicking his wrist and decapitating Gin's Queen. "You really should hurry up, your physical body's going to be dead for good if this keeps up."

Gin smiles easily, shrugs and steps forward onto the square to the right of him before bothering to reply. "And since when have I ever cared about that? Hm?" He cocks his head and watches behind customary slit eyes as a white pawn tentatively approaches him. He leans forward, never leaving his assigned square, and sinks his hand through the white chest presented to him, withdrawing with the equivalent of the pawn's heart in his hand. It's a pearly white sphere and he throws it behind him with an aura of nonchalance. The pawn crumples into dust and fades away.

"Oh, why didn't you say so before?" A wicked smile forms and his sword steps forward as well, inclining his head in a mocking form of politeness. "I wouldn't have wasted all this time if I'd known." Amber eyes gleam with anticipation and pale hands clench at the sides. "Well, that's life for you. Or would it be death?"

They stand facing one another, both wearing identical jester masks and both hiding the deep seed of maliciousness within them. They stand, one soul regarding its reflection in some shadowy mirror of a nameless dimension. They are perfectly matched; their thoughts are one and the same. Gin knows it's time and the sword stares back passively, flaming red hair dancing about his face. What a game, they both muse calmly, what a game. Too bad it's going to end.

Snake-like eyes open first and Gin dashes forward, ignoring the protocols and the rules of the game. His sword, no longer possessing a soul in this world, calls out as he withdraws it to place the edge firmly against the spirit's neck. There's a long silence and then smooth laughter fills the empty space. "Ignoring the rules? You really are too amusing." There's brief moment with neither of them moving and then the amber eyes flash, one hand reaching back to lock firmly around Gin's neck in a fatal chokehold maneuver. "But I guess we wouldn't be here right now if you weren't so entertaining."

"Who knows? But I think it's about time now." The smile is frozen, etched onto unsympathetic features and the chessboard rapidly melts underneath them. He isn't surprised, quite frankly. It takes a lot to catch him off guard, after all. The hand on his neck tightens, dangerously close to crushing his windpipe and he presses harder on the sword, watching as a sliver of blood trickles its way down. "Or you know, we can stay like this for awhile."

"Just checking." And then the spirit too, fades away, leaving only a lingering pain around his sore throat and blood polishing his sword's edge. "Maa…you didn't need to be abusive with me, Ichimaru Gin. But I guess you won, even though you cheated." One pale arm extends in a false invitation before being withdrawn, the air snapping chaotically around an open palm. "I'm Shinsō. And don't forget to shoot to kill."

"Divine spear?" How ironic, he thinks. That of all things for his sword to be called, it has to be something related to Gods and deities. Divine. Even his sword is a mess of irony and criticism. And all he can think of this moment, gazing thoughtfully at the spear held in Shinsō's hand, is that Aizen will surely be angry. A subordinate wielding a divine and Godly weapon! "Fancy that." He says and laughs as the world fades away, a knowing smile fixed on Shinsō's face. They don't play by the rules and they don't align themselves with anyone. Life, after all, is only a game with winners and losers and plenty of amusement to be had. It's why they're divine, in the end.

They're above the rules.

Immersed in water and the cold sticking to his skin, Ichimaru opens his eyes again. The newfound sword at his side echoes a final laugh in his head and he stands up slowly, casually tying Shinsō to his side. No one questions the extra dose of cynical glee in his charlatan smile that night, nor does anyone notice that the hilt of his sword has changed. He falls back into routine again, drinking a bowl of miso soup and adjusting the futon's covers around him as he prepares for sleep.

Tomorrow, Soul Society will be sent reeling with shock as the first Hell Butterfly of the day reaches them before the break of dawn.

"Vice-Captain of the fifth squad has been killed during the seating match. The new lieutenant is Ichimaru Gin." Such a note of finality, Gin will think as he stands over the lifeless corpse of his previous superior tomorrow. Such a lovely note of finality to death and he turns to lock gazes with Aizen, lips curved into a little mocking smile.

He's in it just for the fun.

And when the time comes…

Well, he'll just enjoy the look on dear Aizen's face as Shinsō pierces like lightening through his heart. Gods, after all, don't exist.

"Shoot to kill, neh?" He will murmur aloud to no one in particular, strolling back home with the vice-captain badge fastened securely around his arm. His fingers will almost tenderly clasp Shinsō's hilt, his smile perhaps a little more satisfied and a little less cynical for once.

"Of course, shooting just to injure would be a little cruel, hmm?" The voice surfaces again, a little pleased in the edges.

"That's simply horrible." He will reply, eyes fixing themselves on a small fledgling of a shinigami with raven black hair and violet eyes the color of dark and rich amethyst. "How terrible of you Shinsō, to consider dragging out the torment in an enemy." His tone is softly chastising, but it's just a joke in the end. It's always been a joke to him.

"We're such horrible hypocrites, Gin. We're simply awful."

Gin will smile, razor sharp teeth eliciting a small gasp of fear from the petite shinigami. It will be a smile that she will never forget—poor Kuchiki Rukia. He watches her quick and flurried steps fade away from him before he bothers to reply.

"Oh well, that's too bad."

You would revel in my misery,
Drink from my anguish and






Me through the heart,
Even as you say you loved me.

Author's Note: I had a lot of trouble imagining up Gin's sword because its name is Divine Spear, roughly translated into English. And Gin is really anything but divine. I wanted to use a serpent of some other undesirable and malicious beast to represent Shinsō, but none of them fit the picture of a spear or had any such connection. In the end, I resorted to mythology and found a Norse God named Loki. He's the God of Mischief and does rather more harm than good (he kills a fellow God to amuse himself). In addition, he's associated with Odin, the King of Norse Gods. One of Odin's spears has the unnatural ability to elongate itself when you "throw" it and won't stop until it pierces flesh. Lightening from Zeus (a thunderbolt, which can be counted as a special form of a spear) starts the story with an ominous reference to Gin's weapon form. I made up the appearance of Shinsō to make him seem completely otherworldly, or in some sense of the word, divine. Crimson red hair and amber eyes just seemed to be the most stunning combination in my mind. Do review and tell me what you think. By the way, this will be the format for the rest of the chapters. I'll go back and edit the format for Soi Fong's chapter so that it matches later.

Up Next: Hisagi Shuuhei was just a simple prodigy from the Academy, one who had talent and not much else going for him. But now his fellow classmates are dead and he's scarred for life. Out of the ashes of pain and despair comes a voice—one he'll have to listen to in order to survive.

Note Part Two: I am so excited about Shuuhei's zanpakutou. You can expect his to be quite stunning just because the idea is so vivid in my head. Stick around, I'll make sure you won't regret it.