Smoke and Mirrors (Or Twenty Facts about Aizen Sousuke)

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. That honor belongs to Tite Kubo. All characters are depicted as legal age.

Warnings: Spoilers, Speculation

AN: For the 20 Facts meme that's been going around. Also, the idea for Aizen's inner world and his zanpakutou's form are not originally mine, but I'm not certain who to credit.

1. Son

Despite what some might say, he has never had a sexual relationship with Ichimaru Gin and never will. He has watched Gin grow from an awkward child to a man worthy of any father's respect and pride. Gin is the son he never had, his second-in-command and most trusted confidant. The only person who has ever completely seen through the illusion.

2. Monster

Many in Seireitei vilify him, accuse him of all manners of atrocities and evils. Sousuke merely thinks that he is a reflection, an image cast in their own likeness. And they can't stand to see the truth that is revealed.

3. Honesty

For all his illusions, Aizen Sousuke has never once lied. He has supplied nothing but the truth as he sees it, anything else assumptions made by others. After all, a mirror can only show what is truly there; it is people who misperceive reality.

4. Virtue

He has many gifts and abilities, humility notwithstanding, and patience has always been his greatest strength.

5. Superiority

A scrawny, smiling child from Rukongai managed to see in minutes what all the supposedly superior nobles and Shinigami have failed to see for centuries. And Aizen Sousuke has never regretted asking this precious boy for his name.

6. Savior

He is not a predator, a petty thief who steals things in the dead of night. Sousuke is merely a collector of rare and valuable commodities, saving what others have carelessly discarded or overlooked. And he always treats his possessions with the respect and care that they deserve.

7. Reality

Morality is subjective, more like a suggestion than absolute law. There is no good. There is no evil. Only infinite possibilities. Sousuke realized all of this very early on and has never once forgotten.

8. Murderer

Chamber Forty-Six deserved nothing less than what they received. Countless lives have been ruined and souls outright destroyed through their actions. And of course, that fact is conveniently forgotten in the aftermath of his betrayal. But as always, Aizen Sousuke finds that he honestly could not care less what they think of him.

9. Mercy

He is not entirely without compassion; Sousuke knows that she couldn't live without him. Hinamori-kun's death would have been a mercy, quick and relatively painless. The alternative is far worse, a slow decay without reason or sanity.

10. Dragon

Hitsugaya-kun is like a younger version of him in many ways, a realist and a skeptic under all the ice. The only deference is that he was never quite so naïve, quite so believing in the sanctity of the Gotei 13. But given more time, Sousuke is certain that he could have won the boy over.

11. King

The throne in heaven is only a means to an end, not a complete goal in and of itself. He wishes to remake the world, and honestly, it's not like he could do much worse.

12. Girl

Urahara Kisuke sealed her fate the second he hid the Hougyoku in her soul all those years ago and then again when he gave her the power-stripping gigai. Yet, Sousuke finds it interestingly ironic that somehow he is the one to blame.

13. Internal

His inner world is an amphitheater with him at the very center, directing the play from his throne. And none of the audience realizes that they are actually the actors, those on stage running the show.

14. Victor

He is not innocent, not by any stretch of the imagination. But in the end, his crimes are rather small things in comparison. And disparage him as they might, history is always written by the winner.

15. Boy

Kurosaki Ichigo is intriguing, a true hybrid in every sense of the word. It is only a matter of time before Soul Society discovers that dirty secret and makes an earth-shattering and ultimately fatal blunder. Sousuke simply knows that the boy will be a most welcome addition to his ever-growing collection.

16. Authority

Hate is wasted on the Shinigami, who are too ignorant and indoctrinated to ever think for themselves. More than anything, they are like naughty children in need of a firm hand.

17. Origins

He is the youngest child of a mid-level noble clan, a spare and not the heir. His relatives were distant, rather uncaring about what he did or why. Sousuke doubts that his parents and siblings even remembered who he was most days. And had they lived to see it, none of them would have ever noticed his promotion to captain, much less any of his other accomplishments.

18. Unbound

The only true limitations are those one places on themselves. Any obstacle can be overcome, any barrier destroyed.

19. Captain

His captain was powerful but an idiot, too self-absorbed and shallow to be a true leader. So easily deceived and defeated. And even over a century later, he is still no match.

20. Finale

In the end, it all comes down to a boy, orange hair and Hollow's mask. Aizen Sousuke simply sits on his throne, staring out at his new kingdom, and smiles.

Ever Hopeful,