Author: Ansela Jonla
Warnings: non-con, violence, blood, language, yaoi, bondage(?)
Summary: Yumichika's shelter from a blizzard isn't as safe as he expected it to be.
Word Count: 2998
Notes: thanks to tea_fiend and agenttrojie for betaing.
Snow crunched underfoot as Yumichika trudged along the barely visible path through the trees, arm raised to shield his face from the wind-driven snow that was still falling. His hakama clung wetly to his legs and his other hand held his kosode tightly closed. It was a miserable day to be out, the weather bad enough to kill an unprepared or weak man, and Yumichika cursed internally for not reading the signs and choosing more appropriate clothing before setting out. His sheathed zanpakutou whipped against his legs, and he wished he'd had the foresight to at least tie it to the backpack he carried, instead of in its usual place on his sash.
Cliffs loomed ahead, and Yumichika smiled weakly, spluttering as he got a mouthful of snow for his action. His destination wasn't far now, and he renewed his efforts to push through the blizzard that swirled around him. The path led right up to the cliff face, which was clear of snow and sheltered from the wind that blew from the north. Small gusts of stray wind still occasionally whipped at him, but they didn't concern him as he slipped into an almost invisible opening in the rocks.
Inside the cave was warm, by virtue of being out of the wind and snow, and signs of occupation littered the floor. A small shrine lay undisturbed at the far end, and it was here that Yumichika went first.
"I'm back, Yahiko-sensei. I kept my promise, as I always do." Yumichika crouched in silence by the shrine, which contained a crudely drawn picture of a smiling old man, for a few moments before standing again. "I can stay a few days this time. Eleventh Division is on stand-down right now, due to Zaraki-taichou and Ikkaku getting themselves injured fighting a whole nest of Hollows by themselves. Really, you'd think they'd have learned by now, how to judge when they actually do need some backup in a fight. It wasn't like it was one on one, at least until they'd killed all of them while barely standing. That's why I stay with them though, I guess. I love them. They're like family to me."
As he talked, Yumichika rearranged the cave for his own purposes. A fire was soon crackling in the fire-pit, its smoke rising to a hidden natural vent in the ceiling, the rough bedding was laid near to the fire and a battered kettle hung over the flames, having been filled with snow from outside. The pack lay against the wall, zanpakutou next to it and wet clothes beside it as Yumichika changed into dry clothes that had been protected in the waterproof bag.
"The weather out there is pretty awful, sensei. It's possible that no one will show up this year. They'd be risking their lives to come here in that blizzard." Yumichika smiled and sat by the fire, a bowl full of vegetables in front of him and a knife in his hand. "I'll just have to have patience, won't I?"
"So this is where ya come to, Ayasegawa-goseki? I always wondered why ya slipped away at the same time ev'ry year," someone drawled from the entrance. Yumichika looked up, narrowing his eyes as he saw his visitor.
"Ichimaru-fukutaichou, sorry, taichou? What are you doing here?" Yumichika resisted the urge to grab Ruri'iro Kujaku from the wall to defend himself. There was no need, despite the subtle menace given off by Ichimaru. They were both Shinigami, both on the same side.
"Sat'sfyin' my curiosity. What's the signif'cance of this place to you?" Ichimaru peered around the cave, seeming to take in every detail despite his perpetually closed eyes.
"Before I met Ikkaku, on a night like this, I collapsed in the forest outside, alone, with no food, and wearing thin clothing that was barely enough to cover my upper body and legs. I would have died, if Yahiko-sensei hadn't been returning from a trading trip with the nearest village and found me lying in the snow. He took me in, told me I could stay until the storm was over. He broke his leg the second day I was here though, and I remained to help him. It was over three years before I left in the end. He died shortly after I became a Shinigami, on this day."
"So ya come all the out here ta honour his mem'ry and... what?" Ichimaru was by the fire now, his hidden gaze making Yumichika feel like a trapped rabbit cornered by a hungry snake. He mentally shook away the feeling and concentrated on peeling the carrot he still held in his hand. He wasn't some powerless child to be terrified by the mere presence of a Captain.
"The villagers come up here sometimes. Yahiko-sensei was always capable of sensing reiryoku in a person. He taught me how to control mine, way back then. I promised to perform the same service for any villager who came to me at this time every year."
"Imagine tha', an Eleventh Divis'ner teachin' control. Then again, ya do seem to be the sens'ble one of the current command structure." Ichimaru was still standing by the fire, and Yumichika's instincts were screaming at him to flee, to grab Ruri'iro Kujaku and run back into the storm, away from the predator that stood over him. Ruthlessly he squashed the feeling, but he did shift his grip on the knife slightly, to hold it more securely in his hand.
"Did you come out here to mock me, Ichimaru-taichou?"
"Mock ya? No, I wouldn't do that." Ichimaru was fast, even by Shinigami standards, and the blade clattered to the rocky ground as Yumichika was sent sprawling backwards, defenceless. He scrambled to his feet, wincing as his wrist twinged where Ichimaru's hand had smacked away the knife.
"Ain't you goin' ta defend yerself, Ayasegawa-goseki?" Ichimaru was just standing there, where Yumichika had been sitting, seemingly unconcerned by the venomous look he was being given. "I didn't think it would be this easy fer me ta beat an Eleventh Divis'n officer."
Yumichika shunpo'd to Ruri'iro Kujaku, drawing the temperamental zanpakutou smoothly and discarding the sheath. "I never thought that a Captain of the Gotei Thirteen would sink so low as to attack another officer without reason, Ichimaru-taichou."
"I have a reason, though. Ya jus' don't know it yet," Ichimaru said, vanishing from Yumichika's sight.
Yumichika whirled, blocking Ichimaru's zanpakutou inches away from his back. "Coward," he hissed, pushing Ichimaru back and counter-attacking. The longer reach of Ruri'iro Kujaku gave him the advantage over Ichimaru's wakizashi-like blade, and Ichimaru was soon retreating from Yumichika's attacks. It was easy, in Yumichika's opinion, maybe a bit too easy to defeat a Captain.
"Ya haven't beat me yet, Ayasegawa-goseki." Ichimaru vanished again, and Yumichika looked around cautiously for any sign of his location. There were many nooks and crannies in the cave, passages leading off to what used to be storerooms and a now-blocked back entrance. "Ikorose, Shinsou."
Yumichika saw the glittering lance too late to do more than move the bulk of his body out of the way, and the point hit him in his left shoulder. The force of the blow knocked him back, and the retreating blade pulling out of his flesh yanked him forwards again.
"Is that your shikai, Ichimaru-taichou?" Yumichika shunpo'd to where the attack had come from, but the dark corner was empty. "How fitting that your zanpakutou allows you to strike from the shadows like a coward." He brought his own zanpakutou up to chest height, holding it horizontally across his body and smiling. "Let me show you mine. Sake, Fuji Kujaku."
The sword in Yumichika's hand changed shape, twisting to a sickle-shaped blade with the cutting edge on the inside. With a flick of Yumichika's wrist the single blade unfolded into four identical ones, and he spun and blocked another strike with them, trapping the spear-like blade in his own.
"Yer better than I thought ya would be, Ayasegawa-goseki. No' many people can block an attack from Shinsou." The blade retracted as Ichimaru spoke, and Yumichika heard the rustle of fabric as he changed his hiding place again. "Still, how long can ya keep it up, I wonder?"
"Long enough," Yumichika said, casting his eyes around for any sign of Ichimaru. 'I hope.'
-Use me properly. We can defeat him beautifully then, instead of being defeated in an ugly way.-
'No. There is no guarantee he'll keep our secret.'
-He will if you kill him.-
'He's a Captain, Kujaku. I'd never get away with that.'
-Then you have no right to complain when he defeats you.-
'I doubt that I will be able to complain, Kujaku.' Yumichika blocked another strike aimed at his back as his zanpakutou's presence retreated to the back of his mind. The conversation had taken only a few seconds, which was more than enough time for Ichimaru to reposition himself for another attack. Yumichika growled and pushed Shinsou's blade away.
"You are a coward, Ichimaru-taichou. How did someone so afraid of attacking a lowly Fifth Seat head on become a Captain?" Yumichika lowered Kujaku as he spoke, leaving himself open, hoping that this would work. Ichimaru seemed to be a distance fighter, using his zanpakutou's extension ability to strike from out of reach of his opponent. If he could be taunted into a close range fight, maybe Yumichika would have an advantage. "Why don't you show yourself and fight blade-to-blade?"
Yumichika gasped as Ichimaru's reiatsu filled the cave, pressing down on him like a heavy weight, trying to force him to his knees. Gulping convulsively, he forced his trembling body to stay standing under the immense pressure. Eleventh Division did not bow to cowards who couldn't even fight fairly. Yumichika was one of Zaraki's chosen men, one of the few who were strong enough to stay at his side no matter what the situation. This was nothing.
"Yer strong, Ayasegawa-goseki. I never knew a Fifth Seat who could stay standin' under even this much of a Captain's reiatsu before. I s'pose bein' 'round tha' brute ya call a Captain does have its uses." Ichimaru stepped out from the shadows, Shinsou held loosely in his hand, at its sealed size once again. "I could fight ya man-ta-man, I guess."
He struck again, fast as a snake, and Yumichika barely blocked it. Again and again the rogue Captain attacked, and every time Yumichika blocked with a superhuman effort. His limbs felt like lead, and his feet refused to move from where he stood. 'He's toying with me,' Yumichika realised, 'he could kill me any time he wished.'
"I'm gettin' bored now," Ichimaru said, taking a few steps back and raising his zanpakutou to shoulder height. "Yer better than most of yer rank would be. Ikorose, Shinsou."
Yumichika was unable to evade, and Kujaku dropped from his hand as Shinsou punched through his right shoulder, knocking him back into the wall. This time the blade didn't retreat, but it did shorten as Ichimaru walked towards him, a smug grin on his face. "Yer not good enough though."
"Fucking cowardly bastard," Yumichika spat, lashing out with his injured left arm. Ichimaru casually grabbed the limb and twisted, making Yumichika scream in pain as his elbow dislocated.
"Tha' wasn't very nice, Ayasegawa-goseki. I thought yer was the polite one of the band of thugs tha' runs the Eleventh Divis'n." Ichimaru let Yumichika's arm drop limply, letting go of Shinsou's hilt at the same time. "Look at ya, pinned ta the wall like a little butterfly on a board."
Yumichika tensed as Ichimaru's long fingers pressed into the wound in his left shoulder, whimpers escaping from his lips as he suppressed the scream that threatened to tear from his throat. Ichimaru trailed his bloody fingers up Yumichika's neck and face, pressing them to his lips as if encouraging him to suck them clean of his own blood. When Yumichika refused with bared teeth, daring Ichimaru to force him and risk his fingers, Ichimaru simply grinned and took the bloody digits in his own mouth, licking them with unholy glee.
"You're sick, Ichimaru-taichou," Yumichika growled, glaring at his captor. "You kill me and the only thing you'll have to worry about is if Zaraki-taichou or Ikkaku will tear you apart first." Yumichika kicked out, trying to force Ichimaru back so he could remove the blade still stuck through flesh and muscle. "That is, if I don't kill you first."
"Who said I was goin' ta kill ya, Ayasegawa-goseki?" Ichimaru said, looking at Yumichika like he was an interesting insect specimen. "Yer even prettier when yer covered in sweat and yer own blood. Did ya know tha', Ay-as-e-ga-wa-kun?" A wave of reiatsu slammed into Yumichika, pressing him against the rock wall, constricting his chest so he couldn't breathe and paralysing his muscles so he couldn't even blink. Ichimaru ran his hand down Yumichika's face, as if he were a trusted lover, and leaned down to whisper in his ear. "Poor little thing. Can't do anythin' but slowly choke under this pressure. Ya've never felt anythin' like this before, I'll bet. So helpless, so weak, yer life drainin' away at the whim of someone else."
Yumichika's head sagged, too heavy for his tired neck to hold up under the pressure, and he could do nothing but watch, his vision beginning to blur, as Ichimaru's other hand roughly tore at his hakama and fundoshi. He desperately tried to force his muscles to bend to his will, but Ichimaru's reiatsu was much too strong.
"Tha' look of terror is jus' too cute, Ayasegawa-kun. If I'd known how much fun ya could be, I'd have done this a long time ago," Ichimaru crooned softly. The oppressive reiatsu lessened slightly as he roughly forced Yumichika's legs apart, allowing the Fifth Seat to breathe again but nothing more. Shinsou scraped against bone and nerve as Ichimaru pulled Yumichika's body up and forwards, allowing him to position himself at Yumichika's entrance before he roughly forced his way inside. Ichimaru's hands dug into Yumichika's shoulders, the bruising grip the only thing stopping the rough thrusts from causing even more damage from the blade still pinning Yumichika to the wall. "Tha's good. Cry fer me, little insect." Ichimaru licked at the traitorous tears trailing down Yumichika's face, his tongue briefly flicking against Yumichika's parted lips as he did so. "No' this time, Ayasegawa-kun," he whispered, in response to an unbidden whimper.
The reiatsu returned again as Ichimaru came with a harsh cry, the force of it enough to knock Yumichika into blessed oblivion. He didn't notice as Ichimaru pulled out of him and retrieved Shinsou from his shoulder, nor did he notice the small wave that his attacker gave to someone in a shadowed alcove on the other side of the cave.
Yumichika tried to sit up, his muscles screaming in agony, and flopped back onto the rough bed with a sigh. Movement nearby made him turn his head, and he frowned with confusion as he saw the Fifth Division Captain tending to the fire nearby. "Aizen-taichou? Wha' happened?"
"You're a very lucky man, Ayasegawa-kun. Most Shinigami of your rank wouldn't have been able to take on the Hollow that were hiding in this cave by themselves," Aizen said, smiling kindly at Yumichika. "You would have died from the wounds you sustained if I hadn't been following you out of my own curiosity. Despite your skill they managed to injure you in several places, including both your shoulders and your left arm. I considered taking you back to Seireitei, to Fourth Division, for treatment, but the blizzard was too strong."
"I..." Yumichika sat up to face Aizen, forcing his muscles to obey him and wincing as he felt something open in his shoulder. He scowled as he tried to call up memories of the fight Aizen claimed he'd been in but failed. "I don't remember fighting any Hollow. I can remember releasing Fuji Kujaku, but nothing more."
"One of them threw you into the wall," Aizen gestured at a patch of rock, which Yumichika saw was stained with blood, "and you hit your head. I healed a wound there that may account for your loss of memory."
"I see." It was as likely an explanation as any, Yumichika thought. It wasn't as if he hadn't seen the same happen to Ikkaku on occasion, during their time in Rukongai. "Thank you, Aizen-taichou, for saving my life." He bowed his head to the Captain.
Aizen stood up, retrieving his sword from where it lay next to Ruri'iro Kujaku. He bowed to Yumichika and shook his head. "There is no need to thank me. It is my duty to do everything in my power to assist another officer of the Gotei Thirteen. Do you feel capable of moving?"
"I can't leave yet, Aizen-taichou." Yumichika wouldn't break his promise to his old sensei, wouldn't leave without giving the villagers a chance to speak with him if they needed his help.
"If it is about the people of the village near here, several of them have already been to visit. You've been asleep nearly three days, Ayasegawa-kun. Don't worry," Aizen said softly, "only one of them needed to be taught how to control their growing reiryoku. The others were all there out of a feeling of safety in numbers, due to the Hollow that had been attacking the village recently. The Hollow that you have already taken care of."
Yumichika stood up, stumbling as sleep-weakened muscles tried to give way under his weight. He bowed to Aizen, unable to think of the words needed to express his gratitude. "I think I can follow you, Aizen-taichou. Maybe not at speed though, so please don't worry if I fall behind."
"I'll wait for you, Ayasegawa-kun." Yumichika missed the sinister smile that crossed Aizen's face briefly as he retrieved his pack and zanpakutou. "It wouldn't do for you to have an accident before we reach Seireitei, would it?"