Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. That honor belongs to Tite Kubo.

Warnings: Slight language, Spoilers for Turn Back the Pendulum and beyond

AN: For the Bleach contest on LJ. Mystery Prompt: Twirl.

"We owe a lot to Kisuke. And to Aizen."


He wakes up screaming. Thrashing. Covers winding around his legs as he struggles. Only making it worse. Trapping him tighter and tighter. Until he summons the first kidoh that dashes into his frenzied mind and burns them away. Lucky not to also get the thin nemaki draped across him like a shroud.

He doesn't know where he is. Doesn't recognize this place. These walls.

His skin crawls. Like there is something inside of him. Something foreign but familiar. Sitting deep in his chest. Sending out tendrils to every part of him. Stomach roiling. Thoughts swirling. Dizzying. A downward spiral.

The room dances around. One corner becoming the next and the next. With him in the eye of the storm. The center of the hurricane.

Suddenly, it all comes back. And the universe tilts on its axis. Falling. Whirling.

Kensei. Mashiro. Love. Rose. Lisa. Hachigen.


Attacked. Consumed by the things they've become. Reiatsu a veritable vortex around him. A cyclone of fear and agony. Horror.

And Aizen.

Damn him to hell a thousand times over. Treacherous snake. Backstabber. Always hiding behind those glasses and that parody of a smile. Mocking. Laughing. Taunting. So amused as Shinji stumbles. Just out of reach.

Betrayal running deep. Feeling something move inside of him. Skittering like a spider just under the surface. A serpent that coils and slinks through his veins and in deeper. To his very soul. Twisting and turning and churning.

Eyes unable to focus. Aizen's devilish grin. The forest around them. Tousen so solemn. The ever deepening night. A boy's silvery hair. All of it mixing until it is just a smear. Just a kaleidoscope of colors. Weaving and bending together. Brown and black and purple and white and the darkest blue.

Everything spinning and spinning and…

And a hand on his shoulder brings him back. It is all he can do not to jump out of his own skin. Not to attack. Not to fight with teeth and nails. Not to summon fire to his fingertips.

But the grey eyes hovering above him are soft and familiar, shadowed by blond hair. Sad. Excruciating.

The scream, the furor from earlier becomes a near sob. And the fingers on his shoulder rub a soothing circle. Easy and gentle as he tries to compose himself. To pull all the pieces back together. To calm the raging storm in his soul.

His insides rebel. Nausea stirring from his belly. Tumbling and rising higher.

But a voice breaks through the haze. Strong but not stern. Calling to him. A hundred nameless things impart in a single word.


And finally, the world stops twirling.

Ever Hopeful,