I'm only going to do this once. I don't see the point in doing it every time I post a chapter.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. If I did a couple of things would be different. For instance, Ichigo's fights would not follow such a predictable yet dependable pattern: 1)Ichigo meets rival. 2)Ichigo gets owned by rival in Round 1. 3)Ichigo trains and/or fights in the interim between rounds with rival, supposedly getting stronger. 4)Ichigo gets owned yet again in Round 2 and/or fight is interrupted. 5)In Round 3, fight is somewhat even until Ichigo finds some power that wasn't in him 2 episodes ago and manages to win.
Also, Ulquiorra-Orihime would be canon. And Orihime would not say (depending on which you're watching/reading) "Kurosaki-kun" or "Ichigo" every 5 seconds. And what happened to Ulquiorra... don't get me started.
We can only hope that the Great One (Tite Kubo) has some grand master plan that in the end will leave us satisfied and not piss us off like the ending of Inuyasha.
But I digress…
Onto to the story...
Reign Over Me
Chapter 1: Mission 1
That was what Orihime Inoue saw every day. It was the only color acceptable in the world she lived in. As she thought about that for a moment while chewing on a pen, a smile came to her round face.
Technically, I am wearing ALL the colors at once, she thought happily. The irony...
Orihime was brought from her daydreaming state by a loud voice. She blinked and turned to see her best friend, Tatsuki Arisawa, standing over her. Tatsuki was holding a piece of folded paper with one hand and had her other hand on her hip.
"Hi, Tatsuki. What's that you have there?" Orihime asked.
"Rangiku is sending you to... Orihime, when did you get that necklace?" Tatsuki asked.
"What?" Orihime looked confused. Then she fingered the diamond pendant on the gold chain around her neck. "This? Oh, um, Mr. Aizen gave it to me a few weeks ago. It's a fairy. See?" She smiled innocently while holding the pendant out to Tatsuki. Tatsuki did not smile. Instead, she appeared rather displeased.
"I don't like that man, Orihime," she said. Orihime stared at her friend, replacing the pendant on her chest.
Sosuke Aizen was the ruler of... pretty much everything Orihime could think of. He ran his dominions with such ease, grace, and a terrifying, yet hidden, brutality. And he did it all with a deceptively charming smile. Aizen did not like disorder, and his dominions certainly reflected that. Curfews and uniformity were stressed. There were thirteen different authorities in the government. Tatsuki and Orihime both worked for the 10th Authority. They covered the media.
"Tatsuki, what did Rangiku want?" Orihime asked, changing the subject.
"Burger run. It's your turn." Tatsuki gave the list to her. "Hurry now!" she said as she left the room. Orihime sighed and looked at the list.
Well at least it's not coffee this time, she thought, remembering an awful experience involving lattes and hot chocolate.
Tatsuki watched Orihime leave. Once she was sure her friend was gone, she bolted for the main office on their floor. She opened the door without knocking. There, a woman with strawberry blonde hair was lounging in a swivel chair. She glanced over at Tatsuki and smiled.
"Tatsuki! You're back. Is Orihime gone?" Rangiku Matsumoto, the vice-chairman of the 10th Authority, asked. Tatsuki stepped further into the office. She walked over to Rangiku's desk and sat in the chair across from her. Rangiku frowned. "What's the matter, Tatsuki?"
"That man. There's something I don't like about him, Rangiku," Tatsuki said.
Rangiku immediately knew who she was referring to. They all had their suspicions about Sosuke Aizen. They all treated Orihime like a little sister and felt the need to protect her. Aizen being who he was did not make that job any easier.
"Well, it's not like we can just gang up on him, Tats. He IS Sosuke Aizen. What if he genuinely likes Orihime?" Rangiku asked. Tatsuki shrugged.
"I don't know. Maybe he does..."
Outside, Orihime was thinking about Sosuke Aizen as well. She was not sure why, but one day someone from the 3rd Authority had shown up at her door with a message directly from Gin Ichimaru, the head. The only reason Orihime knew anything about who Gin Ichimaru is was because of Rangiku. Rangiku's mood was sometimes directly related to how her date went with Gin the previous night. The 3rd Authority handled all of Aizen's affairs.
But, the letter had been inviting her to lunch. Orihime could not exactly refuse an offer from a man like Sosuke Aizen. She went on the lunch date and she had to admit, he seemed like a pretty nice guy.
That was a whole year ago. They still saw each other. But Orihime felt more and more like Aizen was... waiting for something. He could have any woman he wanted. Why would he choose her? Surely he did not want to...
Of course not! Orihime stepped off the curb. She immediately jumped back when a white van sped past, completely bypassing the stop sign. Orihime stumbled before falling back. She winced.
"Ow," she mumbled and watched the van. It was driving towards the 12th Tower, which was where the 12th Authority was located. Orihime had been in that place once and had vowed to never go again. For the life of her, she could not remember what had occurred while she was there. She got up and dusted herself off. She watched the van vanish in the sea of white and continued on her way.
"Nnoitra, are you TRYING to draw attention to us?" a tan, blonde, green-eyed woman asked. She was dressed in a white unitard. Her hands wore white gloves. A hood was connected, but she had not pulled it over her head yet. The driver glared at her through his lone eye.
"The bitch should've looked both ways before crossing the street. I'm in a fucking hurry," Nnoitra Jiruga said. His female companion shook her head.
Nnoitra pulled into an alley a block away from the 12th Tower. He put the van in park and turned it off. Then he looked over at his companion. She was tucking her hair in the hood. Then she covered her face so that only her narrow eyes showed.
"You sure you don't want any help, Halibel?" Nnoitra asked. Tia Halibel glared at him. Nnoitra put his hands up. "Fine, fine. Just asking."
"This is only the Twelfth Authority, Nnoitra. It's just a bunch of scientists. This will only take a moment." Halibel got out of the van. Nnoitra blinked and she was gone.
Damn, that woman amazes me.
Orihime made it to the burger shop. She noticed the parking lot was packed. It was lunch hour, so it really was not a surprise. She continued on her way inside. Her smile faltered for only a moment when she noticed who had overrun the burger joint: the 11th Authority.
The 11th Authority was the militia and on occasion Aizen's personal guard. They were also some of the most savage, raving, bloodthirsty lunatics to ever grace the planet. They did one thing well: fight.
Orihime tried to make her way into a line and go unnoticed. It did not help that she was a) female and b) she had orange hair. She stuck out like a sore thumb among all these men. She spotted someone she knew and hustled over to them quickly. She pulled on his clothes. He looked down on her, a little surprised to see her.
"Orihime, what are you doing here?"
"Oh, nothing, Ichigo. Just... grabbing lunch for the office. Do you mind if I..."
"Next customer, please!" the cashier yelled. Orihime raised her hand and rushed up to the counter, leaving Ichigo Kurosaki in her wake. She turned back and smiled at him. Then she faced forward and began giving her order.
"Wow. She's good," a little pink-haired teenager said as she stepped up next to Ichigo. She was eating on some fries. Ichigo glared down at her.
"Shut up, Yachiru," Ichigo mumbled.
"Is that any way to speak to your lieutenant, Ichi?" Yachiru Kusajishi asked. "I'm telling Kenny. Kenny!" she yelled. Ichigo immediately covered her mouth, looking around for the captain of the 11th Authority, Kenpachi Zaraki. The guy was always trying to fight him.
"Fine. I'm sorry. What do you want?" Ichigo asked. Yachiru held out her hand. Ichigo sighed and gave her some change. Yachiru smiled and skipped over to a gumball machine.
Orihime walked back over to Ichigo carrying a few bags of burgers. She smiled at him.
"Thank you, Ichigo. See you later." She wore her smile out of the restaurant.
Halibel stood on the rooftop of the 12th Tower exactly 3 minutes and 48 seconds after departing from Nnoitra. She had crossed a garden filled with all kinds of traps and climbed an eight-story building. Obviously, they did not want someone to get in the building without proper clearance. Halibel had done all that without a moment's rest. Now she needed a little help.
"Octava," she said into her headpiece. After a few moments of silence, someone spoke.
"Why does it always feel like a demand rather than a question from you, Halibel?" a voice said.
"You aren't supposed to be using names, Octava." She sighed. "Just give me a way in."
"As you wish, Tercera Alpha." About thirty seconds passed. "To your left is an air conditioner duct. At the bottom of said duct, there is a fan. So be careful."
"What floor, Octava?"
"Hn." Halibel pulled the top of the duct off. At the bottom of the duct was indeed a large fan. Halibel narrowed her eyes. "Quinta."
"Huh?" came the reply from Nnoitra. Halibel rolled her eyes. She hooked her bungee on the edge of the duct and secured it on her belt as well.
"I'm in," Halibel said.
"Fifteen minutes?" Nnoitra asked.
"Ten." Halibel jumped headfirst into the hole.
Orihime juggled the five bags of food she carried back into 10th Tower. She tried not to touch the greasy white bags to her pristine white dress. When she finally made it back to the tenth floor, she was bum-rushed by Rangiku for the food.
"Orihime, you took forever! I thought I was going to have to send Chizuru after you." Rangiku winked at her.
"Well, I almost got hit by a van. He completely ran the stop sign. Then the entire Eleventh Authority decided they wanted to have lunch at the burger shop," Orihime said while following Rangiku to the conference room. Their boss was waiting silently. Rangiku skipped over to him, waving a bag in his face. Orihime sat down quietly, watching the two.
Tatsuki walked in the conference room. She saw the food and hustled over to Orihime. The two watched as their boss and Rangiku argued over the bag of burgers. Rangiku was the only one who could ever provoke him into a rage of any sort. Tatsuki bit into her cheeseburger just as their boss rose from his seat, mad as a hornet.
"Give. Me. The. Bag," he said.
Did it suddenly get colder in here? Tatsuki thought.
"Toshiro, you're no fun," Rangiku said while pouting. She handed over the bag of burgers. Her silver-haired boss snatched the bag away from her.
"That's 'Chairman' Hitsugaya, Miss Matsumoto," Toshiro Hitsugaya said. Rangiku waved her hand in the air.
Pretty soon, the whole tenth floor was enjoying burgers and fries while having an impromptu meeting. Toshiro Hitsugaya, chairman of the 10th Authority, was in charge of all media. That included television, magazines, and newspapers. Everything went through him first. He had even found a way a monitoring the internet. It paid to be a boy genius. In comparison to some of his female subordinates, he was Einstein.
"Rangiku, what's Chizuru reporting on tonight?" Toshiro asked. Rangiku looked at a piece of paper next to her.
"Tonight's approved top stories are the Exequias, the upcoming Valentine's Ball, the disappearances, Kurotsuchi's new lab, and the tax increase," she said.
"Disappearances? What disappearances?" Orihime asked. Rangiku shrugged.
"People leave and simply don't come back. The Exequias believe that we don't know about that, but Tatsuki's the best at getting the scoop. My current theory is that Kurotsuchi eats them."
"Suddenly I've lost my appetite," Tatsuki said. Laughter erupted among their co-workers.
Orihime looked at Toshiro. He seemed to be in deep thought about something. For someone so young, rarely did she see her boss appear happy or at ease. He always seemed so tense and serious. After a moment, he returned to listening to the chatter around him.
I wonder what he was thinking about, Orihime thought.
"So, Orihime. Me and Tats are going to get a few drinks in tonight before curfew. You up for it?" Rangiku asked. Orihime turned her attention to Rangiku. Her mouth hung open for a second.
"Well, I... uh... I have plans already," she said with a smile. Tatsuki glared at her.
"With Aizen? Am I right?" she asked. Orihime nodded sheepishly. "I tell you, Hime. Something about that man screams 'evil.'" Tatsuki said.
"He's no worse than Ichimaru," Toshiro piped. Rangiku glared at him.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked loudly. Toshiro had his eyes closed and his arms crossed.
"Gin Ichimaru is as creepy as they come. You have got to be the only woman I know that gives him the time of day. Heaven knows why..." Toshiro said.
"You don't know what you're talking about. Gin is not... creepy. Right girls?" Rangiku looked over at Orihime and Tatsuki. "Right?" Tatsuki and Orihime looked away from their friend.
"Well, he is kinda... eccentric," Tatsuki said.
"Yeah. He's just different," Orihime said. Rangiku frowned and stood up.
"Oh, you all can go to hell." She stomped out of the conference room in a huff.
Nnoitra pulled up into a large parking lot. At least, it looked like a large parking lot to the outsider. He kept driving until Halibel punched him in the arm. Nnoitra smirked and made a left turn. He pressed a button on the steering wheel. Ahead of them, a portion of the lot dropped, revealing a ramp and tunnel. Nnoitra kept driving. Once they were through, the ramp sealed itself once again.
After driving down the narrow tunnel for about ten minutes, it began to widen. Nnoitra nearly smiled when they saw the massive underground palace before them.
"Home sweet home," he said. He drove around to a parking garage and parked the white van among many other pasty cars. Halibel exited and headed for the door with Nnoitra following close behind.
They reached what appeared to be a dead end in the massive garage. Nnoitra came up behind her. Halibel touched the wall and a portion of it disappeared. She stepped forward on the moving belt below her. Nnoitra followed her into the red room. The wall closed behind them.
As they moved ahead, small lights and motorized objects circled around them. Halibel watched them with a bored eye. Nnoitra looked annoyed.
"Welcome home, Tercera Alpha and Quinta," a computerized voice said.
"Yeah, yeah," Nnoitra mumbled.
"Tercera Alpha, Segunda requests an audience with you." The door at the other end of the corridor swung open. Halibel narrowed her eyes. She had no desire to interact with anyone else tonight except one person. This person was not that person.
Barragan, she thought as she walked through the door. Nnoitra rushed past her into the deserted foyer.
"Honey, I'm home!" he yelled. His words echoed throughout the halls. Fifteen seconds later, a shoe hit him in the back of his head. Nnoitra whirled around to face a little blonde girl. "Lilynette..."
"Quiet down! Stark is sleeping," she said. Lilynette then turned around and went back to the room from whence she came. Nnoitra rolled his eyes and looked at Halibel. She was making her way up the stairs. Nnoitra raised an eyebrow.
"Going to meet up with the old man already? I thought we had something together, Hali-baby," he said. Halibel stopped at the top of the steps. She hated the nickname with a passion, but decided to ignore it since he was so far away.
"He did request my presence." She turned the corner.
Nnoitra watched the spot where she had been before moving on.
Halibel stopped at an old wooden door. There was no other door in the underground fortress like it. In fact, no two doors were exactly alike. Halibel put her hand up to knock but decided against it. She simply let herself in.
Barragan Luisenbarn was the unofficial leader of the faction Halibel and Nnoitra were a part of. This was partly because he was the oldest. Another contributing factor was simply because no one wanted the responsibility of being called the "leader." Besides, Barragan's rank was technically "2." There was another ahead of him.
"You called for me, Barragan," Halibel said. Again, it was a statement, not a question. She was simply stating a fact. Barragan did not face her.
"Did you complete your mission as ordered?" he asked in his gruff voice.
"Yes." Halibel pulled a small computer chip from a pouch on her belt. Barragan turned and looked at her. She met his eyes. "I was not seen, but Kurotsuchi will know that someone was there." She left it up to interpretation.
Barragan seemed to ponder her words for a moment. Then he nodded slowly. He looked away from her. He let out a sigh.
"Well done, Halibel. Tomorrow, we set our revolution into motion in earnest," Barragan said. Halibel narrowed her eyes.
"I am being sent on assignment again?"
"No." A shifty smile graced Barragan's aged face. "Cuarta and Sexta Alpha will be going to deliver our statement of intent." Barragan never used the actual names of anyone except her.
"Cuarta and Sexta Alpha?" Halibel stared at Barragan in shock. "Is that... wise, Barragan?"
"I think those two will get our line of reasoning across the best," he said. Halibel nodded, thinking of the contrasting personalities and, oddly enough, the one similarity of the two in question.
He does have a valid point, she thought.
"Drop the chip off with Octava. He'll know what to do with it."
"Yes." Halibel turned and left the room.
Orihime moved the ice cream around in her bowl. She brought the spoon of vanilla ice cream to her mouth. As she put it in her mouth, she looked up. Down the table, across from Orihime, sat a rather handsome man. He was drinking tea in an almost serene way. Orihime smiled.
"Serene," she whispered. She looked back down at her ice cream happily.
"Why do you laugh?"
Orihime glanced up to see Sosuke Aizen looking at her. She stopped moving with the spoon a few inches from her face. Aizen smiled at her; or rather, he smirked. Orihime ate the ice cream and swallowed.
"I was just thinking of how serene you look while you drink your tea. Just like," Orihime thought for a moment, "an angel."
Aizen took another unhurried sip of his tea. He stood up and slowly made his way down the table. Orihime watched him, gripping the spoon tightly. In the year or so of their courtship, she could still say that Aizen scared her. The man's aura was frightening. While he had never done anything to cause her to feel such irrational terror, that was just her general mentality when it came to Aizen.
He induced panic just by gazing at you.
Aizen came to a stop right at Orihime. For a moment, she felt as if she was being suffocated. The feeling passed as soon as it came, though. All they did was stare at each other. Then Aizen cleared his throat softly.
"I have done nothing to warrant being called an angel." He lifted her chin a bit.
There's that smothering feeling again, Orihime thought.
"You are the angel, Orihime," he concluded. The feeling passed yet again.
Orihime stared at Aizen in wonder. He always made her feel so small. She felt like asking him what was so interesting about her. After all, a man of his stature could have anyone. So why her?
"I have another gift for you, Orihime." Aizen produced a small white box. Orihime stared at it. Then she glanced back up at Aizen, eyes as big as saucers. "Go ahead. Open it," he said. She slowly took the box and opened it.
Inside was a diamond ring; a princess cut, brilliant, platinum diamond ring. Orihime coughed when she realized that she was not breathing. Then she looked back up at Aizen again.
"Sosuke, is this a..."
"It's a gift." He took the ring from her and pulled her to her feet. Orihime watched as he slid it on her finger. "When we want it to mean something more, it will. But for now, let's just be happy." Aizen kissed her forehead. Orihime nodded numbly.
"Okay," she mumbled. They glanced at one another. Aizen moved in to kiss her and Orihime closed her eyes.
"Lord Aizen!" one of the servants called. Aizen diverted his head away from Orihime. He sent an angry glare at the servant.
"What?" he replied.
Orihime knew that tone. It was his business tone. From what she had observed on their various excursions, Aizen seemed to have different ways of speaking. She sometimes said he had a case of multiple personalities, to which he just laughed. Orihime stepped back away from him and looked at the servant. He seemed to have forgotten how to form coherent words under the cold stare of Aizen. Giggling at his misfortune, Orihime sat back down to her melting ice cream. Then Aizen bent down to her ear.
"I will be back, Orihime. Duty calls," he said. She nodded.
Out in front of Aizen's massive estate, Mayuri Kurotsuchi stood. He looked very unnerved. When he saw Aizen approaching, he tried to relax somewhat. Aizen stopped in front of one of his top scientists and cleared his throat.
"What seems to be the problem, Mayuri?" he asked calmly.
"Lord Aizen, there seemed to be a break-in at the Twelfth Authority today," Kurotsuchi said.
"I see. Was anything taken?"
"Upon first glance, no. But further investigation found that computer files were tampered with," Kurotsuchi explained.
"Tampered with, you say? What files?" Aizen inquired.
"Just normal research data. Nothing too important. They all have back-ups. But..." Kurotsuchi drifted off. Aizen's eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly.
"Urahara's Goddess Project was not deleted. Records show that it was copied instead and a virus was planted in our copy to distort it. I cannot open it nor can I work around it," Kurotsuchi said. Aizen stared blankly at one of the heads of the 12th Authority.
"Do you know the culprits of such a crime?" he asked.
"No. The only way to hack our system is from the inside. It requires two people to even get IN the main computer's room. It's a synchronized action. It's a TIMED action. It had to be an inside job!" Kurotsuchi was getting worked up.
"It wasn't," a new voice said.
Aizen looked past Kurotsuchi to see Kisuke Urahara waltzing up. He met the two men and tipped his white hat at Aizen. Kurotsuchi glowered at his co-worker.
"And how do you know it wasn't an inside job, Kisuke?" Aizen asked. Urahara shrugged and smirked.
"I don't. But I do know that no one in the Twelfth Authority is smart enough to pull off such an ingenious plan," he said. "I have back-ups for the Goddess files at my place. Do not fret."
"Very well. Is that all, gentlemen?" Aizen asked. The two mad scientists nodded. "Then good night."
Orihime moved the ring around on her finger. She'd long since finished her ice cream. Now she just stared at the ring and how it sparkled on her finger. She was so lost in thought that she did not notice Aizen come up behind her.
"Huh? Oh! Sosuke, I didn't hear you," she said. Aizen simply smiled down at her.
"I have a favor to ask you..."