The first Arrancar was a silly thing; selected, Kaname had theorized, for her obvious loyalty, how quick she had been to kneel at the feet of her new god and how eager she seemed to do anything he asked of her. Gin had responded only, "Oh, do you think so?" and smiled in a way that somehow managed to remind Kaname why they didn't talk much even though the man couldn't actually see it.

Gin had known better. The first Arrancar wouldn't have been anyone important. His captain, his god, was still a scientist at heart. Even if he could have made the first one perfect, he wouldn't have wanted to. It was more educational to see what happened when he used too much of the Hougyoku's power and made her explode.

Besides. The little Hollow girl who clung to his every sweet word had been far too much like Hinamori-chan, and if Aizen had wanted a replacement for her, well. He would have simply brought her with them.

The second Arrancar made the first look lucky. He lasted two days before the Hougyoku's power, this time insufficient, began to wane. Gin had watched him fall apart for the better part of an hour, making the most fascinating gargling noises as if something in his throat had begun to liquefy, and then Kaname had muttered quietly that they would have trouble finding a third volunteer after two mysterious disappearances and an hour of agonized screaming.

It hadn't been addressed to him this time, so Gin said nothing, but he thought it rather funny that the other man could even think such a thing. He hadn't enjoyed the little show, had stood behind Aizen rigidly and radiating disapproval, but when he was told that he could, finally, put an end to the pitiful creature's suffering, hadn't he been relieved? Even grateful? And the Arrancar himself, hadn't he died with a smile, leaking something that wasn't quite blood and praising Aizen for his mercy in that thick wet voice?

Trouble? There were more volunteers waiting right outside the door.

Sometimes Gin thought that the power of Kyouka Suigetsu's seductive illusions was really nothing compared to her master's sheer charisma. Aizen needed no help from her to bring his subjects to their knees, and not even she could have made them so very, very happy to be there.

The third Arrancar, he never even saw, but she or he must have existed, because by the next one Aizen was making them pleasantly human-shaped and chuckling that Eve might have turned out better if her god had only given it one more go.

"Does that make this paradise?" Gin had asked him, smirking because by that point it was only the two of them and he could be pleasantly irreverent. "Think I was expecting someplace a little longer on the daytime and shorter on the sand."

Aizen had only smiled, that perfect polished smile that let his admirers think whatever they liked, but the next day he started building a lovely blue sky over Las Noches, and even knowing him, it was hard not to feel flattered. Yes, Kyouka Suigetsu could whisper her lies, but only Aizen Sousuke could make you want to believe them, and that was the spell they had all fallen under.

Shinigami and Hollow alike, seeking the favor of their lord.

And it was probably just another testament to the power of that spell that they had twelve Arrancar before any of the worshipers seemed to notice that, while they were happy just to be allowed to kiss his feet, there were others who dared to stand in his presence as if they were something like his equals.

The Arrancar hated them both, resented them both, but Gin was under the impression that they at least understood Kaname. He was Aizen's blade. His right hand, the weapon that struck down those unworthy even of God's wrath, so that Kyouka Suigetsu herself need never be stained by common blood. Kaname's strength, his purpose, were obvious. And if Aizen favored him ever so slightly over those less gifted -- well, that was only to be expected, wasn't it? The Arrancar hated him, but they also wanted to be him, to someday take his place at Aizen's side.


Well, Gin liked to think of himself as Aizen's left hand. He sat folded neatly in God's lap, sometimes very subtly drummed out an impatient beat on the arm of his chair. He only went to some of the meetings, and he never spoke, but if any of the Arrancar with them today had seen Aizen fight up close, Gin thought they might have noticed that Kyouka Suigetsu stayed at his side, rarely stirring, while with his empty innocent left hand he twisted the air and caught bankai. Might being the operative word; they were only Hollows, after all, in pretty Hougyoku wrapping paper, and so far none of them seemed especially subtle. To their eyes, he must have been an abomination -- special and protected and better than they were, but useless. Decorative. Utterly confounding.

The only Arrancar who wanted to be him were the jealous cloying creatures who thought Aizen had brought him along just to keep his bed warm at night. Which was really pretty hilarious, if you knew the man at all. As if Aizen ever did anything for only one reason.

And that was why he tensed a little when his captain said carelessly, "The children don't seem to like you. Why is that, do you suppose?"

"I can't imagine, Sir," Gin replied. Innocent. Waiting for it. "I've always thought I was perfectly charming. Everyone likes me."

"They think I favor you," Aizen suggested, almost but not quite as if he hadn't spoken. "They think you're -- what -- my lover?"

One broad, unimaginably powerful hand settled politely on his belly, thumb stroking the musculature with a certain lazy possessiveness that made him shiver if not completely relax. His body was very responsive. Touches like that invariably led to pleasant things.

He took a deep breath, and smirked. "With all due respect, Captain, they think I'm your whore."

The husky laugh was warm on his shoulder, almost gentle. "Are you so sure you're not?"

"Ohhh, what a mean question. You're heartless." Gin turned his head so that he could meet the sudden kiss, warm and wet and insistently invasive. He licked at the tongue in his mouth, sucked on the other man's bottom lip and then went pliant, letting Aizen take whatever he wanted. Giving him what was at least probably the right answer.

Yes, he was sure. No, it wouldn't have mattered if he hadn't been. He knew better than to think God really needed a blade any more than he needed a willing fuck.

Either way, Aizen had brought him here, Aizen had some use for him, and so he was allowed to stand at the man's elbow and watch him do what he did best. He would get to see the world remade. (He couldn't wait.) The privileged place the Arrancar so loathed him for, the still-unexpected soft edge as the kiss slowed that said Aizen would have been willing to reassure him if he'd needed it, those weren't necessities. Just... perks. Yes, Gin liked that word.

But then, well. He liked all of this, didn't he?

He almost tripped over an Arrancar in the hall outside Aizen's chambers. A boy or a girl, it wasn't always easy to tell. It seemed both indignant and embarrassed to have been caught there, so Gin decided it didn't have official business. Another worshiper hoping for a glimpse of God. He was about to turn away and leave it be when its large pale eyes slid from his face down to the disheveled rest of him, and its whole expression darkened.

Gin paused. Smiled. Bent at the waist to meet those so-judgmental eyes. "Yes? Something on your mind, little one?"

The Arrancar must have not have expected an actual response to its unfriendliness, because now it seemed terrified -- swallowing and hastily averting its eyes. But even then he could almost feel it thinking, You're sullying him. He lowers himself to ever touch you or anyone else in that way.

Briefly, Gin entertained himself by imagining the neat second hole Shinsou would have made through the Arrancar's skull. But he had the funny feeling Aizen wouldn't have entirely approved, so instead he reached out and ruffled what passed for the kid's hair. It flinched and stared up at him and looked so revolted that he was hard-pressed not to laugh.

"Don't worry," he told it. "Aizen-sama'll be with you shortly."

Just as soon as he notices you're alive.

Maybe, Gin thought as he moved away, some of them did want to be him for more than just the sex they seemed to think was all he ever did. And maybe there were one or two perks he wouldn't have given up so readily. To look in the face of God and know he was looking back at you, that he saw you and not just another of the faithful--

that he really might have been willing to build a sky just because of something you said

--well. That was really pretty nice after all, wasn't it?