Bleach does not belong to me. Tite Kubo has that honor. I am merely borrowing without permission. I am making no money from the writing of this fic.
Also, all of the characters depicted in sexual situations within this fic are of legal age. In the case that I erroneously state otherwise, please consider it an error that I will work to find and correct.
Therefore, in most cases, this will make the fanfiction presented AU.
Title: The Virtuous Man
Warning: AU after Ch 295
Description: Oneshot. is a virtue. And despite popular opinion, Aizen Sousuke is a rather virtuous man.
Dedication: To Lady Azar, my beta, written for her birthday way back in May. She just happens to love this pairing.
Aizen Sousuke was a very patient man. He had been crafting this plan for greater than a century, after all. Waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect chance, to put everything into motion. All the while in the background, he was perfecting his skills and abilities, fine tuning methods and creating Las Noches.
It stood to mention then that he was very capable of waiting.
He stood in one of the main halls, near a set of double doors that led to the outside and its shifting white sands and black night. His hands were folded in his sleeves, and he merely waited. If his suspicions were correct and they usually were, Ichigo and his merry band of followers would be passing by at any moment.
He had been waiting for this chance, this moment. He couldn't have expected to run into someone of Kurosaki Ichigo's strength and reiatsu. But not only was Sousuke patient, he was also flexible. He could adapt. And he had already altered his designs to include the young Vizard.
But the sound of many pairs of waraji slapping against the pristine white floors of his hall floated to his ears then. Aizen straightened in interest, trying to appear friendly and nonthreatening. As he turned his eyes towards the curve in the hall, a crowd of beaten and battered people came into sight, Ichigo in the lead…
...With a broken and battered Grimmjow slung over his shoulder.
Sousuke couldn't help but lift a brow in surprise. He should have suspected this, however. Ichigo never really ascribed to the same beliefs as the Shinigami. The boy helped whomever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He was notorious for sympathizing with his enemies. It was a trait that Aizen valued in the boy, and one he planned to use to his advantage.
The entire group skittered to a shocked halt as they noticed his presence, the Quincy immediately forming an arrow and aiming. Abarai-kun dropped his hand to his zanpakutou, despite holding an unconscious Kuchiki in his other arm. The others held a certain amount of wariness as they crowded around their leader. On second glance, Sousuke was quick to note Nel Tu clinging to Ichigo's robes. Another interesting surprise. Then again, the boy seemed capable of inspiring loyalty in nearly anyone, even self-proclaimed enemies of the Shinigami.
"Chad," Ichigo growled, never taking those eyes off of Aizen. "Take Grimmjow."
The tall, silent boy with interesting reiatsu didn't even argue, simply nodding and slinging the blue-haired Arrancar over his massive shoulder. A good follower that one. He would be quite valuable.
Sousuke should know; Ulquiorra was just as loyal.
"Kurosaki-kun?" That was Orihime, her eyes flickering worriedly between the boy she loved and the former captain.
While Aizen had been interested in her powers, acquiring the girl had served two purposes. Studying and using her abilities and luring Ichigo to Hueco Mundo. Sousuke knew that the boy wouldn't waste a minute in coming after his friend, even if it appeared she left of her own free will. He was loyal like that… and certain to blame it on himself.
Ichigo shook his head and drew Zangetsu, leveling it at the ex-Shinigami with determination glittering his near silver eyes. Aizen still had not spoken. He was simply waiting for the opportunity, letting the boy realize that he was not intending to attack them.
"Go," he ordered, not yet taking his gaze away from the traitor. "Renji, Ishida, get everyone out of here. I'll follow in a minute."
Sousuke watched as they seemed ready to protest, Nel going so far as to clutch onto his robes and wail loudly. He could see the look in Kurosaki's eyes, however, could imagine the thoughts running through the boy's mind.
Ichigo was battered and bleeding, fatigued beyond measure, but he didn't care. Even if Nel cried or the others protested, he was not going to give in. And it was easy for Sousuke to discern all of this simply by observing. Ichigo wasn't going to back down, and he wasn't taking no for an answer.
It was the silent boy, Chad, who finally made the decision for them, taking off with Grimmjow and pulling Orihime by the hand. They passed directly by Aizen, and he could see Ichigo's muscles twitch, fully prepared to intercept an attack should the traitor perpetrate one. But he didn't, and the children escaped without a hitch, Chad punching open his door with one strong fist. Sousuke couldn't help but sigh. It had taken a long time to carefully craft that. Now, he would have to rebuild.
Abarai-kun and the Quincy were soon to follow, but Ichigo was unable to convince the toddler attached to his hakama to cease. It wasn't until the other two Arrancar behind him, who Aizen hadn't immediately noticed because they were managing to hide quite successfully, offered their aid that she was convinced. Or to be more precise, given no choice in the matter as she was manhandled away, sobbing all the while.
The noise passed, and still, Aizen made not a move, watching with faint amusement. He let them escape, having no use for Orihime any longer or for the others. No, it was Ichigo who held all his attention, and he had already known that the boy would stay behind, leaving his friends to escape ahead of him.
Everything was going according to plan.
Silence fell between them, and Sousuke took the moment to study the boy. His shihakushou was ripped and shredded, barely an arm available to him on one side. Blood stains spattered the white kosode as well as his skin, and a few wounds were still lightly seeping. Dark circles lined his eyes. Plainly put, he looked exhausted, which Aizen reluctantly admitted was partly his fault. Nevertheless, he chased away the strange flutter of guilt that thought provoked. No need for unnecessary emotions this early in the game, especially when it was yet to be played.
The boy's brow furrowed. "What do you want?" Ichigo demanded, voice echoing through the quiet of the halls.
It almost sounded like a threat. Aizen's gaze had to flicker to where Ulquiorra was hidden, a warning not to emerge. He didn't need protection nor for the Espada to interfere, even if Ulquiorra wished to do so.
Sousuke simply looked at the teenager. "Why did you take Grimmjow?" he countered, slowly easing his way into the conversation. Although he understood Ichigo's motives, he also wanted to hear it from the boy's mouth.
Brown eyes watched him warily. "Why do you care?"
"He is my subordinate. I care about all my children," Aizen responded simply, easily.
Ichigo snorted and backed away one step, edging in the direction of the broken doors where freedom laid just a few shunpo away. "Why didn't you stop them?"
"I stopped you."
That brow furrowed into Ichigo's usual scowl, something Aizen had come to learn the boy was never present without. "Why?" Fingers curled even tighter around the hilt of the unusual black and silver zanpakutou.
Sousuke smiled. "I have other plans, Ichigo-kun."
The boy's eyes narrowed warily, seeming very much like an animal backed into a corner. The wrong move and Ichigo would fight back viciously, especially if the former captain made even the slightest hint towards threat of his friends. Aizen half-suspected to see him bare his teeth and hiss. Kisuke-kun had not been purposely deceptive, after all.
When Ichigo didn't respond, Sousuke easily moved into the next stage. "Would you hear me out?" he asked, knowing he must play carefully.
As though surprised by Aizen's friendliness and lack of immediate violence, Ichigo didn't speak. He straightened, though he didn't lose his grip on his zanpakutou, and actually ceased his subtle backing towards the door. It was as much permission as Sousuke figured he was going to get.
"I was wondering, Kurosaki-kun, if you would be willing to join my side." He tilted his head, smile pleasant and inviting.
Ichigo blinked at him as surprise registered on his young features. "Why?"
"They are going to betray you," Aizen answered without a trace of hesitation.
"And I'm supposed to believe you." Ichigo snorted and rolled his eyes. "No fuckin' way. You're the enemy."
"True." Sousuke could concede that much. "But my point is proved because they already have. You are walking out of here and into a trap."
But dear Kurosaki-kun wasn't convinced. "I came here walking into a trap. What's the difference?"
Aizen was having trouble hiding his amusement. "A trap set by an enemy has different purpose than a one set by an ally, does it not?"
He could tell that the boy was thinking about it. Some of the tense battle-readiness began to loosen from his shoulders.
"Shall I show you?" Sousuke tempted him softly, gently. Speaking like he would to a spooked horse.
Ichigo internally debated before dropping his guard and sheathing his sword. "Fine."
"A quick decision," Aizen responded and arched his brow.
Ichigo had given in without much of a fight.
The boy shrugged. "Lies or not… Either way, my friends're escaping."
Sousuke's grin widened. "How true." The ex-captain turned and made a silent gesture for Ulquiorra to appear.
The Espada stepped out of his hiding place, making Ichigo instantly wary. The lord and master of Hueco Mundo quickly offered him a reassuring smile.
"Relax, Kurosaki-kun, this is how I intend to show you." He looked at the fourth Espada. "Ulquiorra, if you would?"
He glared at Ichigo in his own way but finally conceded. "Yes, Aizen-sama." And the Arrancar reached up to remove his eye.
Aizen was amused by the horror on Ichigo's face as Ulquiorra crushed the eye and turned it to dust, only to form an image. The disgust melted away once the boy began watching, the emotions all too easy to read on his face. Sousuke knew what Ichigo was seeing since he had already seen it once himself, and Ulquiorra was entirely dispassionate.
There was an ambush just outside of the Urahara shouten. Of course, the man himself was already gone, having disappeared not long after letting them into Hueco Mundo. Aizen didn't know whether his dear friend planned on coming to Las Noches or keeping his operations in Karakura. Either way, he would still be very much a part of everything.
The trap didn't look like one. Many of Ichigo's friends were waiting for him, many of the Shinigami he knew. They were led by Hitsugaya-kun. Perhaps they had been misled by the old man and Chamber 46, tricked into thinking it was for Ichigo's own good or that he had turned traitor. Maybe they had been shown false evidence and made to believe such a thing. Or perhaps they had been angered by what was looking to be more and more like a personal betrayal.
Sousuke wasn't certain how they had been convinced, but he was sure that no method would have been beneath Soul Society. They wanted to keep Kurosaki Ichigo away from him, knowing how easy it would be to lead the boy astray once he had discovered the truth. And in the end, they had sealed their own fate, putting him right in Aizen's hands. He would have to thank them one day.
Still, it didn't look like an ambush. At least, not on the surface, not superficially. But only a keen eye could catch the anxiousness, the constant checking and re-checking of positions. And only a suspicious person would question why they didn't ask to help and why they would be waiting when they knew Ichigo had been told not to leave. Sousuke knew that the boy was far too intelligent to miss the signs. The reason why showing him would be much more effective than telling him.
When the image ended and the dust from Ulquiorra's eye had faded, the former captain turned his attention towards Ichigo, dismissing his Espada with a flick of his hand. Ulquiorra departed with a wary look, leaving them alone in a quickly ensuing silence. The boy just stared at the ground, hands clenched into fists.
"Why?" he said, grinding out the question between his teeth.
Aizen tipped his head to the other side. "One can only assume. I would suppose they have claimed that you're a danger or a traitor."
He lifted his gaze, pinning furious gold-tinted eyes on Aizen. "You knew this, and you still let them leave." He pointed a finger towards the direction his nakama had gone. "They're walking straight into that trap!"
"True," Sousuke agreed, taking a step and moving between Ichigo and the door. "But I was more concerned about you than them. Soul Society knows that you are the strongest of your little group. They will not harm your friends."
Ichigo snorted. "Now, you're the one trying to manipulate me." His hand moved to his zanpakutou, and the sense of battle swept from his reiatsu, filling the small hallway. "Get out of my way." His voice was little more than a growl, his Hollow evident in the distorted tones.
"I'm afraid I cannot do that." Aizen shook his head. "I cannot let them have you."
There was something on the boy's face, something unnamable but agonizing.
"You're just like them," he spat.
Aizen's expression hardened ever-so-slightly at that, hating the insinuation. "Once, I was them, but no longer. I do not wish to use you, Kurosaki-kun, but prevent your unwarranted punishment."
He could see the struggle beneath flash across Ichigo's face and the strain in his muscles, the desire to catch up to his friends and protect them. All the thoughts and feelings warred inside of him. He clearly felt torn, and a part of Sousuke was disturbed by how much that worried him. How much he hated what this war was doing to someone like Kurosaki Ichigo, who had only ever wanted to protect his family.
Kurosaki-kun ground his jaw. "I'm not going to let Soul Society take them." His eyes were defiant.
"I understand that," Aizen replied calmly. "However, running into an ambush will do none of you any good. I know you didn't recognize some of those present, but they are from the Kidoh Corps. And I know you are aware how weak you are against that."
Ichigo's ability to combat against his truth was faltering, Sousuke could see it.
"I don't care," the younger Vizard growled, though the uncertainty gleaming in his eyes proved otherwise. He took a step towards the door, a step nearer to Aizen.
"Might I suggest another option?" the ex-captain interjected smoothly and gestured.
The wariness of a trapped animal returned. It was tacit permission.
"Remain here," the older man suggested. "Allow me to teach you, and then, I will aid you in rescuing your friends."
Ichigo's gaze dropped as he considered it. The offer was a better option, and the boy knew it. But his stubbornness wouldn't let him accept it easily either. Especially since he still perceived Aizen Sousuke as an enemy.
Yet, the ruler of Hueco Mundo was fine with that. He would win Ichigo over to his side later. Right now, he just needed the boy not to leave. He just needed to win an ounce of belief, of trust.
After several long moments, Ichigo exhaled sharply and removed the hand from his blade.
"Fine," he said in a growl. "Show me."
And Sousuke couldn't help but smile, lips quirking with pleasure and possibilities.
For the next several weeks, Aizen taught Ichigo what he could. Helped him understand the basics behind kidoh, taught him more of the Shinigami arts. Rather than hand the prodigy over to Tousen or Gin, he taught the boy himself. He knew that Ichigo would respect him better for it.
It didn't take long for the young Vizard to pick up on everything, as Aizen had suspected. The boy had a learning curve that was simply astounding. He flourished under Aizen's tutelage, expanding how long he could hold his mask and even learning several levels of kidoh. Sousuke could see Soul Society's fear; they were right to be afraid of this boy's power.
Thanks to Kisuke-kun, Ichigo had been reassured of his friend's health. They were well and uninjured, though all presently in Soul Society under guard and imprisoned. Nevertheless, Aizen could see with each passing day Ichigo's impatience to rescue them. Though he never tried to leave on his own, it was obvious that he was more than ready to do so.
More than the training, however, was the slow relationship building between student and master. Sousuke had learned to respect the boy's power and intelligence, his maturity. And in turn, Ichigo had come to understand why so many had fallen for Aizen. Just how the man commanded so many with so little effort.
It was perhaps Aizen's feelings that had changed the most, and he could easily argue what inspired so much loyalty to Ichigo. There was something about the boy that was gravitating, inviting. That led a person to love deeply and never want to let go. He wasn't sure when he was first attracted to Kurosaki Ichigo or when his desires started to lead towards that familiar scowl.
Just like so many others, Aizen had fallen under the boy's spell. But he had expected it to go nowhere and dismissed such thoughts. He had more important things to take care of, after all, ensuring the safety of Kurosaki-kun's companions and continuing his coup d'état against Soul Society.
Therefore, no one was more surprised than he when Ichigo kissed him one day, completely out of nowhere. They had been talking, discussing rather, Aizen's reasons for what he had done. Ichigo had asked him why. No one but Gin had ever done that before.
Aizen merely laughed. "Honestly, there isn't much worse I could do than the corruption in Soul Society now."
Ichigo snorted, completely understanding. "I can see that, yeah. But what proved it to you back then. You were only a lieutenant when you first started, right?"
Gin must have been telling secrets again. Aizen could only assume since he didn't really remember divulging that much.
"Yes," he agreed. "It was after the unexplained disappearance of a classmate that I became suspicious. And once I dug a little deeper, I discovered all of Soul Society's hidden secrets."
Ichigo nodded and turned his eyes to the side. He appeared to be thinking.
"My dad was a Shinigami, wasn't he?" he asked suddenly and rather out of the blue.
Aizen blinked at the sudden question before inclining his head. "Yes, a long time before he ever met your mother."
The boy shrugged. "Guess no one really likes Soul Society," he commented, but it was more to himself. "Why did you want me on your side anyway?"
"It's taken you more than three weeks to ask," Aizen replied smugly. "Any reason why?"
Ichigo exhaled, idly scratching his nose. "I was trying to figure out your motivations for myself. But your lackeys are really loyal. They won't talk."
Aizen's lips twitched into a smile. "I assure you, I didn't order them to remain silent. Yet, if you would really like to know, I will tell you." He turned towards the boy and met his eyes. "I would like your help to win this war, but if I were to simply use you, I would be no better than them. To be honest, I would rather you choose to join this battle then do so because I asked. It is up to you, Kurosaki-kun."
Aizen wasn't sure what the boy was implying. "Pardon?"
The furrow in his brow eased. "Just call me Ichigo," he insisted, rubbing the back of his head. "All that other stuff annoys me."
Aizen grinned even more at that. And then Ichigo was looking at him, a strange expression in his eyes.
His words were cut off by Ichigo's lips, the boy pressing their mouths together firmly. Aizen was so surprised it took him several long moments to react, hands rising of their own accord to grip Ichigo by the upper arms. The younger man didn't seem too angered, leaning into his touch.
It was a bit inexperienced and tasted faintly of something spicy. But for a man who expected nothing out of his unrequited desires, it was the most he could have asked for.
When the kiss ended and they were looking at each other, the normally unflappable lord and master of Hueco Mundo could only ask one question.
Ichigo shrugged, lips faintly moistened and red. "Thought now was as good a time as any." And then, he scowled, as if going longer than a minute without doing so was hazardous to his health. "But it's not because I wanted anything."
"Of course not," Aizen agreed, finally realizing that he was still clinging to the boy's arms and releasing them.
He searched for the proper words to say in return, but usually eloquent, he drew a blank. And Sousuke just threw caution to the wind, went unplanned, and kissed Ichigo again. Actions spoke better than words, after all. He was a firm believer of taking advantage of good will when it came his way.
Ichigo was inclined to agree.
They started slowly, after that, building a relationship amidst the trials and troubles of a war in progress. Aizen kept true to his promise, and not long after, he aided Ichigo in retrieving his friends from Soul Society. The captain-commander had not been pleased by the destruction that little maneuver had caused. Sousuke would have paid good money to see the look on the old bastard's face.
Ichigo was a lot less restless once he was assured of his nakama's health and especially after Aizen promised the safety of his family as well.
Aizen grew used to the sight of Ichigo being around him. He always made room in his schedule to teach his lover more kidoh or to explain his plans and ideas. He watched as Ichigo made friends with most of the Espada, even Grimmjow, who still itched for a fight. Though Ulquiorra remained wary, an almost sort of jealousy glimmering in his eyes. Aizen would have stopped it, if he hadn't been so amused by his taciturn Espada.
Kaname had merely sniffed at Ichigo's presence, stating something about using whatever necessary means for the pursuit of justice. Needless to say, Ichigo wasn't too fond of the man, and Aizen worked especially hard to keep them from being in the same room and alone together.
Gin had been immediately accepting of Ichigo, adopting him as a brother of sorts and promising to spar with him often. He compared Hollow's masks with Ichigo, trying to determine whose was cooler, and even helped Ichigo when Nel was being particularly clinging.
The look he had given his beloved captain at the sight of the boy was entirely understanding, almost mischievous. As if he had known of Aizen's crush all along and was glad for him. And perhaps he was. Even after all these years, Aizen wouldn't dare claim that he understood everything about his subordinate.
Sousuke simply wished he could have seen Yamamoto's face and all those others when they found out the truth. Just seeing Abarai-kun's expression, a mixture of envy and surprise, had been amusing enough. Orihime had promptly broken into tears and ran away, to be comforted by dear Rukia later. It appeared she hadn't been aware that the person she "loved" did not favor the fairer sex. Such a thing amused Aizen probably more than it should have.
The tall, silent boy… Chad had been accepting. Certain that if Ichigo wanted it, then it must have been okay. The Quincy had made a few vague statements before flittering off to design a new "Hueco Mundo" outfit, he and Stark chatting the whole time about stitches and weaves and leaving Aizen unexpectedly befuddled.
In the end, all had gone well, and Sousuke was satisfied for it.
There was still a war going on. He against the world, so to speak, but while Aizen had expected to spend every battle alone, he wasn't anymore. Ichigo was right there beside him, firing off Getsuga tenshou left and right. And growing exponentially. He would be a match for Kaname any day now, Sousuke was sure of it. Which meant he had to keep them apart even more.
As for Aizen himself, well, he was getting used to having a lover again. It never bothered him that Ichigo was male, even if he hadn't had male lovers before. In fact, their relationship was probably the better for it.
He was finally accustomed to waking up with warmth in his bed, to an arm slung rather possessively across his chest. To a grumpy face, no matter how good the night had been. And to familiar scowling furrows that Ichigo seemed to always sleep with. He was getting used to a sleepily mumbled, "G'mornin'" before the boy would roll over and try and steal a few more minutes.
He enjoyed the lack of obsequiousness in Ichigo. While the younger man would concede to him on certain matters, agreed that he was the lord of Hueco Mundo, he didn't bow and scrape. He wouldn't do anything simply because Aizen said it without explanation. And very rarely did the boy obey entirely, most especially if he didn't agree. Aizen enjoyed that part of him immensely.
And Ichigo was intelligent, far smarter than his rather headstrong and almost thuggish exterior proved. To Aizen's surprise, he later learned that Ichigo was also a fan of Shakespeare. It gave them even more common.
Aizen never would have expected this relationship, never in all his planning. But he wouldn't turn it down nor would he turn it away either.
It seemed patience always did yield a better outcome, especially when one stopped waiting.
a/n: So yeah, that's all there is of this. There won't be any more. I'm not continuing it. Though I will write another Aizen/Ichigo, entirely unrelated. the plot is sitting on my desktop, waiting for me to write it. Be on the lookout for that.
In any case, I look forward to your comments. I hope you enjoyed.