Title: The Banks of the Rubicon

Characters: Yoruichi, Urahara, Aizen, Stark

Rating: T

Words: 2,406

Warning: A boy on boy kiss. AU like the rest of the series.

Description: It was what he wanted to do. It was what he was doing. It was what he had done.

"The last time I saw you this thoughtful we abandoned Soul Society. Contemplating something dangerous again?"

Yoruichi's voice teasingly pierced the silence of the night as she stood over her best friend, looking down at him. They were on the back part of the shouten, Kisuke sitting with his legs over the edge. His hat was in his lap, a rarity for him, his face deep in thought.

The man tilted his head, gazing up at Yoruichi. His usually present smile was gone, replaced entirely by sincerity.

"If I left again, would you still follow me?"

Her playful grin disappeared from her lips at the tone of his voice. "Kisuke, what are you doing?"

Kisuke sighed, flipping his hat back on his head and tugging it over his face. "It's not like I haven't thought about it before," he responded softly. "And who wouldn't want to be at the left hand of god?"

"You're serious." Golden eyes widened marginally.

"Even more than when it came to leaving Soul Society in the first place."

The Shihouin heir shifted her stance, frowning. "You'll fight against everyone?" Yoruichi demanded. "Even Ichigo? Isshin's son? Your own student?"

Shaded eyes cast towards the ground, his hands clasping together. "Kurosaki-kun has already expressed his own doubts to me. I sincerely believe that I won't have to."

Yoruichi sighed and plopped down next to him, an action that made her seem even less of the princess she really was. "If this is some sort of penance--"

"It's not that," Kisuke replied, cutting her off before she could get any further. "But it's been a century, and it's not fair to either of us." He hesitated, leaning forward. "I really should have let him choose."

She studied him, every expression barely hidden on his face. It wasn't that she didn't understand how much his heart ached. Or that she didn't know the love that had managed to stand the long test of time, long even for a Shinigami. Or the circumstances. But this was different than merely leaving Seireitei. This was fighting against Soul Society, taking a stand against a home where they had once belonged.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Why are you asking?" he countered, just as quickly.

Yoruichi pursed her lips. "So I can know whether or not I should follow. Or maybe it's just curiosity. You're telling me anyway."

Her dear friend remained silent, tilting his head back to look up at the stars, as she had caught him doing so many times before. Inside was an internal debate. How could he answer that when he didn't know himself?

Was it because he missed Sousuke? Because he loved him? Because he thought Sousuke was right in his choices, in what he was doing? Or was it because they finally had a chance, after more than a century, to be together again and he refused to give it up?

Everyone had their breaking point. Kisuke had long passed his.

"I think you already know the answer."

He settled for being vague. It was the best he could give without either lying to himself to or to her. There were some things he would tell Sousuke and Sousuke alone. This regret was one of them.

There was a moment of silence before Yoruichi turned to him, hand laying on his arm. "I sincerely hope you know what you're doing." She squeezed affectionately. "Go get him, tiger."

Kisuke felt a smile twitch at his lips.

He had only been in Hueco Mundo for ten seconds when something appeared in front of him in a flit of sonido. The man was youthful in appearance, resembling a more attractive and sober version of Kyouraku Shunsui. One of Sousuke's minions. Kisuke wondered if he was expected. But then, the invitation had been given, after all.

Kisuke locked eyes with the other man, recognizing that it was not a challenge, but this stranger was merely his escort. There was no hostility in his stance.

"I suppose you will take me to Aizen?" he questioned, one hand landing on his hat as if to hold it in place. He had never realized how much of a habit it was until that moment.

The Espada, for Kisuke recognized the force of this one's power, nodded. "Aizen-sama requested it. So if you don't mind…"

That same loyalty, so similar to what Sousuke had inspired in the Shinigami, in his own division. In poor, deluded Hinamori-chan. Kisuke was not surprised to find that his former lover had inspired it in his new followers, in his children.

Kisuke inclined his head, following the Espada with no further need for explanation. "Who are you?"

White fabric fluttered in the barely present wind of Hueco Mundo. "Stark."

"And your number?"

Stark glanced over his shoulder, a smirk painting his lips. "Numero Uno."

Amusement filtered into Kisuke's expression, his own mouth curving into a faint smile. He should have figured that Sousuke would send his strongest. It was an ever so subtle challenge. And it was also a gesture of respect, a subtle way of saying that he thought only the best capable of keeping up with his former lover.

"I see," Kisuke responded.

Nothing more needed to be spoken. Silence reigned between he and his escort as they quickly traveled to Las Noches and through the large, almost majestic halls. Kisuke admired Sousuke's choice of decoration, wondering what it would take to bring a splash of color to the place. Perhaps Tousen had inspired it, as dull as he was.

Stark led him, not to a large meeting hall as Kisuke suspected, or even a throne room. But rather to a smaller and more private setting. The room overlooked the vast land of Hueco Mundo, the pale sands stretching out further than his eyes could follow, broken only by the appearance of dark trees. A small throne was perched in the center of the enormous balcony, facing the door.

Kisuke was shown inside, and then, the door promptly shut behind him, Stark leaving them their complete privacy. His eyes fell on his former lover, dressed as he had been before, elbow propped on the arm of his throne. Something inside of him clenched at the familiar, appraising glance, his heart stuttering in anticipation.

When Kisuke stepped further onto the balcony, Sousuke rose to his feet to greet him. And then, they were standing in front of each other, actually within touching distance but not crossing that short space.

Anticipation and unspoken issues in the room made for a silent greeting as the two former captains stared at each other. One hundred years could not be entirely accounted for from their last meeting. There was still much unsaid.

"You've become a rather lousy host," Kisuke said, falling back on what he knew best to break the silence: their banter. "Aren't you going to offer me some tea?"

Brown eyes watched him with a flicker of amusement. "I only offer tea to guests," Sousuke responded simply. "I do believe you are here for a different reason entirely."

Kisuke felt his lips twitch, daring to curve into a faint smirk. "I am. You did extend the invitation after all."

"I did."

A bare breath of wind stirred, highlighting the privacy of their location, the sheer silence of Hueco Mundo. It was weighty with expectations, words hovering over their heads and smashing one against another in a fight to be spoken.

"Why did you come?" Sousuke finally asked, the ice broken but not entirely melted.

He meant more than he said, but it didn't matter because Kisuke would understand him anyway. He wasn't upset that his lover had come, but he wanted assurance. He wanted to know that Kisuke wasn't there, only to turn around and leave him again. He had to know Kisuke's reasons before daring to trust again. Sousuke did not want to know abandonment for a second time. Once was enough, and it had nearly destroyed him then.

Kisuke swallowed thickly, eyes shadowed by his hat. "Because you're here, and that's enough."

"Is it?" Sousuke countered, a trace of reproach in his tone. "It wasn't before."

He winced at the frank response. "I deserve that," Kisuke sighed, Benihime tapping against the tile beneath their feet. "You already know the reasons why I left and why I never told you."

"Knowledge and acceptance are not the same thing."

"And I wasn't the only one with secrets," Kisuke shot back, easily falling into their usual rhythm, though their words were less playful and more painfully honest.

Sousuke did not even hesitate. "I have only ever been myself," he responded softly. "But you were unable to see that."

"Did you want me to see?"

"Of course, I did."

Kisuke was thrown by that simple and frank admission. Sousuke had wanted to be seen, for him to see Sousuke, not the Aizen-taichou that he showed to the world. He had said that he expected it, thought that his lover should have been able to notice. And he hadn't.

Kisuke didn't know what to say to that. Like his lines in the play had been lost. As though someone had stolen the script, and he was now forced to make them up because the show had to go on. The banter and exchange of barbs was gone, leaving him teetering on nothing but pure honesty, withholding nothing.

Shadowed eyes shifted off to the side. "Did you really?" he asked softly, more to himself than to Sousuke.

Inwardly, he was mentally re-evaluating all the feelings of betrayal he had worked up, all the indignation he had burned into his being. He had left before anything could really happen. It was his fault and his fault alone that he had never been able to see his lover for his true form. There was no "this way" to like him better. There was only Sousuke and how he had always been. The Sousuke he still held dear to his heart.

Kisuke parted his lips, knowing what he owed his lover. An apology. An admission of his mistake.

Before he could even form the words, however, Sousuke interrupted.

"I know."

He closed his mouth, accepting his forgiveness.

Something eased in that moment, a thin thread of tension snapping and replaced by calm acceptance. The moment was no longer rife with pain and unsaid secrets, instead being replaced with understanding.

"I won't bow to you," Kisuke finally said.

There was the faintest of chuckles. "I never expected you to."

Kisuke hummed in his throat. "I would've thought only Gin had that privilege."

A moment of stunned silence, and then Sousuke laughed, actually laughed. Out loud and so painfully familiar to Kisuke, a sound that was even better than his memories. The remaining tension vanished in that instant, leaving nothing but the memory of a century spent apart.

"And now, you as well, my dear Kisuke," Sousuke responded. He was clearly amused by that hint of lasting jealousy.

Kisuke's lips upturned into a smile, heart thundering at the mere sound of his name on Sousuke's tongue. That same tone he still loved, as if his lover lingered over each syllable, savoring the taste of each vowel. A happy memory that warmed him on the inside, something he had often recalled.

He cocked his head to the side, gaze sweeping over his lover's face. "You took my advice. You lost the glasses."

"Yes. It's a wonderful invention from the living world, you see." He watched as Sousuke's eyes flickered to his head. "And yet, you've gained a hat. A rather... interesting hat."

Kisuke pouted teasingly. "You don't like it?"

"The color suits you."

There was a pause. And then, Kisuke reached up, fingers curling around the brim.

"I think it suits you better," he replied, taking off the addition and placing it on Sousuke's head, right over the new hairstyle.

His hand lingered, only to slide downwards. Fingers curled around the back of Sousuke's ear, brushing against soft hair and the warm skin of his neck inside the collar. The white looked good against Aizen's darker skin, the outfit better for him than the billowy shihakushou of the Shinigami. He looked far less the good-natured dork and far more the confident soon-to-be ruler of Soul Society.

Kisuke couldn't stop his fingers from wanting to linger against Sousuke's throat. It might have been a bit presumptuous of him, so he forced himself to pull away. He only managed a few inches before a hand fell on his, effectively stopping him. A thumb rubbed over the back of his hand and fingers encouragingly.

Bared by the loss of his hat, gray-green eyes sought out his lover's face. Sousuke leaned closer, his lips poised right before Kisuke's ear in a manner similar to their last conversation. He could feel the warm puff of air on his skin, and it made him shiver ever so subtly.

"You always were such a flirt. What would Kurosaki-kun and his friends think if they could see you now?" Sousuke murmured with a chuckle, his voice like liquid desire drizzling down the exiled man's spine.

"I think we can work out an arrangement with that," Kisuke responded, his free hand tightening around Benihime in anticipation.

Sousuke was so close. He could feel his warmth against him, the gentle thrum of his reiatsu, stronger than it had ever been before.

"And so we will," Sousuke assured, lips almost but not quite brushing skin.

A moment of silence passed where Kisuke could practically feel the smile against his cheek. Could hear Sousuke breathing against his ear.

Then, Sousuke added, "Welcome home."

He shifted to pull back, but Kisuke thwarted his plans. He turned his head, and their lips actually met, brushing softly together. The hesitation wasn't even as long as a millisecond before Sousuke returned the kiss, mouths pressing together in a movement that was more sensual than it was chaste.

Sousuke's free hand settled on Kisuke's waist, fingers tightening ever so subtly. The kiss was both familiar and foreign, tempered with the loss of a century and yet also strengthened by that distance. It was everything Kisuke had been dreaming of for decades. And exactly what he wanted now.

Ending the kiss with a faint sigh, Kisuke looked up at his lover and smiled. An honest curve of his lips that no one had seen in a century.


a/n: And thus we reach the end... of this ficlet series anyways. I think Urahara/Aizen is becoming my OTP so keep an eye out for more if you liked this pairing. I know it's gonna crop up a hell of a lot more. I CRAVE FANART. If anyone has any links to awesome pix of these two together, please, please share. Or draw some for us artistically challenged people.

I beg of you.

Thanks for reading!

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