A/N: Over All Things is one of the most emotional pieces I have ever done, and I think that this story shall be the ending of the Aizen and Gin saga in my own little Bleachverse. This is sort of a vanity project, I suppose, since i wanted to write the same story but from Aizen's point-of-view.
Before my readers send me death threats for what I do to my characters, please remember that (1) I don't own Bleach and never will; (2) these characters are evil; and (3) I love them very, very much, even if they are imaginary people living in my brain.
Please review at the end of the fic – even if you hate what I've done to them.
The song I took the title from is Sophie Zelmanie's 'I Will Remember You'. It's the song that's playing right now as I write this piece excerpted from Over All Things.
It is a long, dark passage, which opens onto an arena. Many faces, pale, tanned, dark... all stare at me.
I cannot see Gin; I cannot sense him. "Where is he?" I ask.
"How can you come in here, Aizen Sousuke? You know you are the one man we will not allow to exit this dome alive." I peer around to see who has just spoken. Ukitake Juushiro.
"Where is Gin?" I ask again. He should know, he is a captain.
"Not here." I watch the older Kurosaki – his name used to be Kurosawa, my mind informs me – land in front of me. I see the haori of the third division on his back and I hate him suddenly and fiercely. That is Gin's. That belongs to Gin. He dares to speak. "We're not mistreating him, Aizen. He is getting a fair hearing. Now, either you surrender, or we do this the hard way."
I will deal with him later, I tell myself. The division insignia reminds me of something else instead. "Kira. Kira Izuru. Please, come down."
The young shinigami stands up. I note that he still wears the lieutenant badge of the third. His pale golden hair is cut shorter, but in those eyes I see the same youth we rescued so many years ago. He stops beside Kurosaki. I study him: he appears to be all right.
I step up to him. "Thank you, Kira." Then I kneel and bow, in Gin's place. It is something he had wanted to say to his pretty Kira, he told me some days ago, and I see no reason why I can't apologize on Gin's behalf. "Please forgive us."
I hear some shuffling, and then pattering feet, and then the lieutenant is on his knees and bowing to me, tears flowing down freely. No wonder Gin had adored him above all his other playthings; the boy is truly gracious.
I stand up, knowing that Kira feels better now. But a hard, blazing reiatsu interrupts my scanning of the grounds for Gin. I focus on the brunet before me, and put a name to the face. Hisagi Shuuhei.
"Why did you come back, Aizen?" he snarls. His captain's coat is a little frayed, but that is to be understood. He did take it off Tousen's body, after all. "What have you done to Kira?"
Wasn't it obvious? "I've asked for his forgiveness, and he has given it to us." That ought to answer him. "Where is Gin?"
He snaps, "Waiting to be sentenced after we deal with you." The hard, blazing glare does not fade. "I have a personal score to settle, by the way, and believe me forgiveness is not in the deal. You're going to pay for what happened to Renji."
Renji? What did I do to Abarai? Did Gin do anything to Abarai?
Ah yes. Incinerated his left arm and leg, and almost killed him. No matter. He is still alive. I heard the princess had restored as much as she could of his body. But Hisagi still blocks my way.
"Kurosaki-kun," I call out; I recognize his reiatsu signature. He comes closer, a wary look in his eyes. "Kurosaki-kun, is the package for Hisagi-san with you?"
"Uh, yes." He rummages in his sleeves' pockets. "Here, Hisagi. Um, Yuki wishes you all the best."
Hisagi is surprised. "Wh- Yuki? You got this from... from Ichimaru?"
I tune them out. Around the arena ranks and ranks of shinigami stare down at me. I see a few familiar faces, but I cannot remember their names.
"If you think that would-" Hisagi interrupts me again.
"I know it won't," I cut him off. "But I can't go against Yuki's wishes. Stay out of this, Hisagi-san."
Ukitake speaks; I have just missed his words. But he is the new soutaichou, I know, so perhaps he can help me. "Where is Gin, Juushiro? I must see him."
Someone else cuts across my words. "On what basis should we let you meet?"
I locate Kuchiki Byakuya, a few seats from Ukitake. Still immaculate, still perfectly coiffed. "You come in here, like you own the place, demanding favors when you should be in chains?"
The other shinigami begin to talk. The buzzing in my ears increase. If they will not let me see him when I ask politely, then I will fight my way through. By the time I count to ten-
"Just let them see each other, dammit!"
I looked over, grateful to the Kurosaki boy. He was panting and trying to articulate his thoughts. "Can't – you – all of you – see – can't you see – he just – he's not here – to fight. He's not – here to fight anyone. He just – just wants to see – He just wants to see the man he loves. Just fucking let him see Ichimaru!"
I want to thank him. Kuchiki tells the boy he is out of place.
"I AM NOT!!" the youth shouts. I can feel the echo of Zangetsu in his voice, and the echoes of many other zanpakuto in the arena. It makes sense, sort of; Kurosaki Ichigo had fought with many of these swords before, and the links have been established.
His plea is almost anguished. "Just – let them – meet. You have – dozens, hundreds of shinigami here. All the captains, all the lieutenants are here. I - I am here. He has – no sword. He is alone. What can they do now? Against all of us? What – can he do – now? Let them meet."
"I agree with Kurosaki-san," someone says. I know the voice. Unohana Retsu had been the first person to know of Gin's condition, and, true doctor that she is, has been tirelessly trying to find a cure. Gin knows this; he's probably more aware than I of the number of times I have been talking to Unohana over a communicator about his reactions to certain medications or courses of treatment. She acknowledges me silently. "We should let them meet."
My mind reels with understanding.
The rest of the shinigami blather on mindlessly even as I read in her countenance the truth. She addresses them, but always, always her gaze flicks back to me, trying to reassure me that there is still time. Not a lot. But there is time.
There isn't enough time. I ask her directly; she will not evade me. She knows better than anyone else what I ask for now. "Is he in there? Can I please see him?"
"I'll ask Yamada to push him out." She taps on the door behind her.
Gin is wheeled out, dwarfed by the cushions that support his thin frame. Black veins form a pulsing, menacing net all over his skin, and he is fighting to stay awake. His hands are almost claw-like, grasping the cushion in his lap.
I have never seen a more beautiful Gin in my life.
I want to rush up to him, hold him, but I walk sedately. He looks at me and finds in him a smile. My strong, brave Gin.
"Hey." His voice is nothing more than a harsh whisper, the very song of angels.
"Hey," I answer. Am I smiling? I think I am. "Did you expect to see me?"
He breathes in, breathes out. My heart tightens at his unceasing valiance. "Sort of. You made Ichigo and Urahara-san break their promises."
Who are they? Never mind. "I'll make it up to them." I have to hold him. "You want to sit there or in my lap?"
"Lap, please." He puts aside the cushion and raises his arms for me.
I carry him carefully. He is so light; for an instance I believe that if I let go, he would float in the air. We find a way to sit on the ground, his silver head resting against my shoulder. He smells of spring, of the air after rain, of bamboo.
I will hold him forever.
Instead I retrieve his ice cream from my bag. "Sorry I'm late," I say quietly. He knows I mean more than that. "There was a queue, and then a blockade, and then an argument.
His forgiveness is a balm to my soul. "It's alright," he murmurs with a smile. "You know I don't care about punctuality anyway."
There wasn't raspberry sorbet," I inform him, rather apologetic. He did love that flavor so. "I got you lemon and dark chocolate instead."
"Two flavors?" He is genuinely happy. "Yum."
That is one of our favorite combinations. He said some time ago that the lemon tingled and the dark chocolate aroused, which I had thought rather funny at the time. But it is a wonderful combination nonetheless.
I smile and prepare to feed ice cream to him. "Which?"
The white sorbet is quickly taken into his perfect mouth, his pink tongue flicking to catch the trace of flavor on the edge of his lips. I smile at the sight. I love how he presses his lips together before he smiles, the seductive puckering that he is unaware of. There is an indentation in the center of his lower lip, now not as apparent with his thinness, that always makes me want to kiss him forever. I want him to slow down. Instead I dig out a spoonful of dark chocolate, which he practically inhales.
He has always loved sweet and sour things.
I don't want this to end. I want to sit here for an eternity, feeding him ice cream. But we can't, because he cannot finish it and we both know this. I put the container away.
"I'm full," he murmurs. "I'm sleepy."
That's what he always says after dinner. "You're always sleepy," I tell him, kissing his brow and rocking him slowly. He nuzzles closer and I want to freeze time around us. But I can't – as the caster, I am immune to the effects – and the hougyoku works even within frozen time. We have tried before.
He nudges me with his forehead. "I'm sorry you have to go through this."
He's sorry. He feels apologetic for my mistake.
"It's alright," I answer him, knowing he won't accept any apology from me. "I just wondered why you didn't say goodbye."
I doubt I would have let him go even if he did say goodbye. I had given up the world for him when I deserted that battle. A simple goodbye will not send me from his side – nothing can send me from his side, because he needs me as much as I need him.
"Because... because if I saw you one last time... I wouldn't be able – be able to go," Gin whispers. Is that regret? Did I make him regret? "But I'm tired, Aizen-sama. I'm tired, and I was afraid you'd be angry... I'm so tired of being weak... I was afraid that if I was weak, you'll go away." The smile fades, and he is close to tears.
I rage within, furious with the fates for distressing my Gin, furious with the world for removing that smile, furious at my inability to keep him from the cares and burdens of the world. I should have been stronger. I should have been more ruthless. All the shoulds in the world can't keep him here now, and I rage at myself for being so useless.
I breathe in to center my emotions. He needs me to be strong.
"I won't be angry. I haven't been angry with you for a long time. I'll never be angry with you again." My fingers linger in his fine hair. The same hair I had worshiped last night with kisses, the same hair that I had fantasized and adored through the years. I try my best to keep my voice from cracking. He needs me to be strong now. "Rest, love. Just rest. You're not weak. I won't be going anywhere. I'll be here, with you. I'm always here."
"I know. I know." He presses his lips to the base of my throat in a familiar kiss. There are tears now; I have made him cry. But he is kissing me just above the collarbone, and I feel absolved. How many times had he kissed along my neck, planting little bites? I cannot remember – but I want more. I will always want more. I decipher the words he mumbles into my skin and my heart aches. "I know you love me. I know you will never say it, but you love me. But I won't remember when I wake. Will you remember everything?" He peers at me, his lashes sticking together with unshed tears. "I don't know if I can. I want to, I don't know if I can. Can you?"
"Yes." I shut my eyes to force the stinging bitterness away; he will not have me crying. But I open my eyes again, not wanting to sacrifice a split second. I will not weep. "I can remember. I will remember."
The lovely smile flutters to his lips. My hand on his waist tightens. His breath is strained, shallow. I see the brilliant blue-green of his eyes, the gleam that has enthralled me for lifetimes and still holds me captive. I touch his lips, rubbing lightly. "And when you wake, we'll remember together."
He is fading. And by the protest that flared and died in his eyes I know he knows what I mean. If I insist, he will hold on and fight, but I can't insist. I cannot insist, not anymore, because he is tired. He is tired, and he is still fighting.
"Rest, love," I whisper, not trusting my control any longer. "I'm here with you."
His response breaks my hold over my emotions. "Promise?"
"I promise." My throat constricts; I cannot breathe. I have broken only one promise to him, in all our years together. I will not break a second.
He is fading, still valiantly fighting to stay with me. I feel his hand over my heart slipping down, trying to grab the fabric of my robe, but it ends up nestled in the gap between our bodies. His heartbeat slows to a crawl, and he blinks twice to clear the dampness from his eyes. I mouth the words he has craved for ages. He swallows. A small smile, the one that is for my eyes only, and it fades.
I exhale. "Now rest."
The world ends.
But there are still some things left to take care of. I look up and locate a youth before me. I recognize him after some dredging through my memory, and turn up some more names. "Kurosaki-kun. When you go back home, could you take Urahara and Kira to my place? Take care of our cat for us."
He accedes easily. I peer around, seeing too many blacks and whites and blurs. I say something to them, but the words make no sense to me. At least I have addressed them. That is the proper thing to do.
My gaze fall on my love again. Leisurely I push open his kimono, and there is a little black orb where his heart is. I take it out, wondering curiously at the size of it, and the black lines desecrating Gin's skin snap back into that little ball. I toss it aside.
As I look down again I am struck anew by the peace in his features, and I move careless silver strands away from the sleeping face. "Look at you now. Beautiful as the day we met."
"Aizen. I think you should put him down now."
"I'll never put him down again." And then I remember the cat again. Gin loves Yuki, but we can't go back for it now. "Remember the cat, alright?"
The youth nods, his face grave. I wonder why. He says, "Yeah. I'll make sure he's taken care of."
Is there anything else? I rack my thoughts and came up with a negative answer. Everything is settled. "Good," I tell the boy. Then I press Gin closer, keeping him warm. He is coming down with a chill, his body temperature falling ever so slightly, but he has always been cool to the touch. I study him again, the way I do on the mornings I wake earlier than he.
Long, dark lashes rest on pale cheeks, and the soft lips that knows exactly how to kiss me without my ever telling him. His flawless skin is gently marred by tear stains, and I frown at the sharpness of his cheeks. Too thin, far too thin; he is a big eater but he never puts on weight. My index finger run over his eyelids, marveling that in all creation there is the one perfect shade of blue-green to tint his irises.
"Rest, love," I tell him softly. My hair falls before my eyes and I tuck the brown locks back, knowing Gin prefers the hairstyle I adopted going into Las Noches. He likes to look into my eyes, as much as I adore seeing his. My gaze travels down his face, past his lips, to the slender neck.
There is no pulse.
He is not breathing.
He is dead.
The world ends.