Chapter 1: Don't Look Back
Aizen Sosuke was not usually a greedy man. When he had acquired one thing to suit his needs he usually was content with only it. He never needed to go looking for another because he always picked the best. Rarely did he ever go looking for something better.
However, in this peculiar instance it was not something better that fell into his presence. It was simply something he had to have; something he could not let it get out of his grasp. His interest had been piqued and he wanted to know more about this something.
At the moment, Aizen stood in the shadows of a training room of the Shinou Academy, concealing his reiatsu. He was currently spying on a new prospective protégée. He already had a protégé under his wing as his fukutaicho. Where was the harm in acquiring another?
She was a fast learner. She excelled in all shinigami arts with ease. Her specialty, while not of particular use to him, was hakuda, though. Aizen had a feeling that in her three years of being in the eight-year course at the Shinou Academy, she had been bored to death. He saw a certain gleam in her eye that had been in his as well; a need for knowledge and a thirst for power. She needed new challenges. She needed to climb higher mountains.
Being at the Shinou Academy was not helping her.
But as he spied on her, he felt there was something else he needed to know about her; something important. She appeared to be friends with his fukutaicho; something not many could say. That would make it easier for her to be persuaded and controlled.
Yes, she'll do just fine, Aizen thought with a smirk. He disappeared from the room quickly.
Matsumoto Rangiku relaxed under a tree. She let out a yawn. "I'm so bored. There's always nothing to do on Saturdays," she whined. She jumped when an onigiri was pushed under her chin by a small hand. "Thanks, Kyoko."
"Yeah, yeah," Utsuri Kyoko said. "You should be happy you aren't preparing for exit exams."
Rangiku shrugged. "I don't understand that, Kyoko. You entered this school four years after me and Gin and now you're already graduating." She thought for a moment. "Well, it only took Gin a year, so..."
Kyoko took a bite of her own onigiri. "If you studied more, maybe you'd be graduating with me. And no one is smarter than Gin. Everything just comes natural to him."
"Aw. Ya givin' me way too much praise, Oko-chan."
Rangiku and Kyoko looked to their left. Ichimaru Gin was approaching them. There was a wide smile on his face. He stopped and scooted in between the girls. Sighing, both of them had to adjust to his slim body. Kyoko passed him an onigiri.
"Thanks, Oko-chan," he said.
Kyoko sighed. "How many times have I told you not to call me that ridiculous nickname, Gin?" she growled.
Gin's smile widened. "I've always called ya tha'. Wha's stoppin' me now?"
"He does have a point, Oko-chan," Rangiku teased. "He calls me 'Ran-chan.' What's the difference?"
"Unfortunately, I'm not a kid anymore. So you can't call me that ridiculous name any longer." Kyoko glared at Gin. "Aren't you supposed to tending to your duties, Ichimaru-fukutaicho?" she asked. She leaned on Gin.
Rangiku nodded and leaned into him as well. "Yeah, Ichimaru-fukutaicho. Aizen-taicho wouldn't be missing you, would he?"
"I'm sure Aizen-taicho doesn' ev'n realize tha' I'm gone. It's not like I'll be gone for tha' long. He'll be fine." Gin looked over at Kyoko. "Have ya picked a division yet?"
Kyoko looked down. "No. I've actually been offered a seated position in the Eighth and Thirteenth Divisions." Then she looked at the other two. "I'm not really sure I want to join either, though."
"Well, you better hurry and choose a squad. You don't have that long left," Rangiku said.
Kyoko nodded. "Yeah, I know."
The next week, Kyoko was sitting alone outside. She was trying to study. Her classmates were making it incredibly hard not too far from her. She tried to block them out. Heaving a sigh, she looked up at them, shooting them evil looks.
"Having trouble studying?"
Kyoko gasped and looked up. "Ai-Ai-Aizen-taicho!" She started to rise. Instead, Aizen held up a hand to stop her. He came down to her level. "Hello, Aizen-taicho."
Aizen smiled at the much shorter girl. "Hello, Utsuri-san," he said.
Kyoko raised an eyebrow. "You remembered my name."
"Of course. Why wouldn't I remember the name of such a promising young lady like yourself?" Aizen asked. He noticed that she was staring at him with a mixture of confusion and wariness. "I am interested in your talents, Utsuri-san."
Kyoko looked shocked for a moment. This was the first time that Aizen had shown any sign of interest in her. Why now was he taking such a liking to her? "You want me to join the Fifth Division, Aizen-taicho?" she asked.
"Only if you want to, of course. I'd be willing to give you a seated position," Aizen said.
"You'd seat me right away? How high?" she asked.
"With your abilities, you are good enough for the fifth seat's position. Don't you think so?" Aizen asked.
"I hardly think..."
Aizen placed a hand on Kyoko's shoulder. She stopped talking and met the taller man's eyes. "You must not sell yourself short, Utsuri-san. You are more than capable of being my fifth seat. That is where Ichimaru-fukutaicho began. Maybe you will follow in his footsteps."
Kyoko snorted. "I find it hard to believe anyone could follow in Gin, I mean, Ichimaru-fukutaicho's footsteps, Aizen-taicho. He's had some amazing accomplishments," she said.
Aizen shook his head. "Nonsense, Utsuri-san. Ichimaru is just a special case. That is all." He removed his hand. "You will think about my offer, Utsuri-san?"
"Of course, Aizen-taicho," she said.
Aizen nodded and turned to walk off. "I will not take no for an answer, Utsuri-san," he said quietly; it was almost a whisper. Kyoko barely heard him.
He won't take no for an answer, huh? We'll just see about that, Kyoko thought. She sat back down and opened her book to continue her studying, putting Aizen and his offer out of her mind for the time being.
Kyoko opened her eyes. She was standing on a summit. It was night and there were very few clouds. The full moon was high in the sky. She looked down at her attire. A sigh escaped her lips as she noticed what she was wearing: she was dressed like her zanpakuto's spirit. She glanced around, searching the other peaks for the elusive spirit.
"Where are you?" she asked. She turned on the peak she stood on, managing to keep her balance. She finally saw the spirit on a peak, standing in the same position that she stood in, albeit inversely.
"How's it going?" the spirit said.
"You've called me in here for what reason?" Kyoko asked.
"I didn't call you in here. You came in here yourself. Perhaps you wanted to have a little chat. Or maybe a little spar? I'm game if you are," the spirit said with a smile. "Of course, we'll spar in the sealed form. I wouldn't want to bruise that ego of yours too badly."
Kyoko held out her right hand. Her sealed zanpakuto materialized in it. It was a nodachi with a clear hilt. The tsuba was in the shape of a teardrop and it seemed to reflect the moonlight. She noticed the spirit mimic her moves.
"Are you ready, mistress?" the spirit asked.
"Any day now," Kyoko said.
The spirit was soon in Kyoko's face, causing Kyoko to block as fast as she could. "Tell me, mistress. Which division are you gonna choose? I refuse to work with a weak division," the spirit said.
"That's a good question. I just got an offer today from Aizen-taicho," Kyoko said. She pushed the spirit away from her. Then she attacked of her own will. The two had the exact same fighting style. While their weapons were nearly as long as them, they handled them quite easily. Both could just as effortlessly fight with one hand as they did with two.
"Aizen... That would be Gin-kun's taicho, would it not? What's wrong with him?" the spirit asked.
"The man seems a little... off. He says it's an offer, but that he still won't take no for an answer," Kyoko said.
The spirit jumped back away from Kyoko as thunder and lightning struck between them. "I see. You're conflicted. And you're gonna give me shitty weather if you don't get your act together. I can't pick this one for you, mistress. You should be learning how to manifest me. That'd be interesting."
Kyoko watched as the spirit began to disappear. "So that's it?"
"I suppose. For now at least. You now know my opinion. I cannot live your life. I can only help you attain certain... goals. We both know what you want. But we need assistance in getting what we want. We both know how far you'll go to get what you want, but are you willing to make that choice?" Only the spirit's glassy eyes were left. "Until next time, mistress."
Kyoko nodded as her inner world began to fade. "Until next time, Shinkyō."
Gin walked in Aizen's office. He wore his usual smile, even though he was somewhat troubled. Aizen did not look up from his work as he heard his subordinate approaching.
"Aizen-taicho?" Gin asked.
"Yes, Gin?" Aizen answered calmly.
"I heard ya was thinkin' 'bout takin' on Utsuri Kyoko as the new fifth seat. Is tha' true?"
Aizen finally looked up, a smile on his face. "Yes, it is. She's such a sensation, much like yourself. I thought that she'd fit in wonderfully here at the division. Don't you think, Gin?"
"If ya say so, taicho. It's just tha' Oko-chan is... special," Gin said.
"Special like what?"
Gin smiled and turned to leave. "Oh, you'll see soon, Aizen-taicho," he said.
Aizen raised an eyebrow. Beyond her unique abilities as a shinigami, what was so special about Kyoko?
Kyoko twirled a bo around as she practiced. Rangiku was watching her.
"I don't get it. Why do you need to work with a bo? That's not what form your zanpakuto takes when it's released into its shikai," she said.
Kyoko did not stop moving. "No. But in some way it does resemble it. I can't very well release my zanpakuto right now, can I? I'd end up slicing off your head by accident. This is a much less... dangerous way of practicing," she said.
"But isn't the real thing heavy? I've seen your zanpakuto and that thing is enormous. I'm surprised a tiny thing like you can wield it. If you ever achieve bankai I shudder to think how massive that thing could get," Rangiku said.
"No, it isn't heavy, Rangiku. Of course, I say this because it's mine. Of course I wouldn't think it's heavy. However, you might if I gave it to you." Kyoko thought for a moment. "And I don't think my bankai would necessarily be corporeal..."
"Corporeal? Like something I can touch? Considering your shikai, you might be right. Still, why would I want to carry that massive thing you call a zanpakuto around? In its sealed form alone it's gargantuan," Rangiku said.
Kyoko stopped moving for a moment, holding the bo above her head. "I have no idea. But, you'll never guess who I talked with the other day," she said. Rangiku just looked at her. "Aizen-taicho."
Rangiku was immediately more attentive. "Aizen-taicho? Really? What did he want? Did he offer you a place in the Fifth? Say he did, Kyoko! Please say he did!" she squealed.
"Calm down, Rangiku!" Kyoko sat down next to Rangiku. "Yeah, he offered me fifth seat."
"Fifth seat? That's so high! That's the same seat Gin got when he was first accepted into the Fifth Division. Kyoko, you have to go. You just have to!"
"You think so?" Kyoko watched Rangiku nod happily. "Well..."
Exams came and went faster than Kyoko had anticipated. Before she knew it, she was being accepted into the Gotei 13 and shown into the barracks of the 5th Division. She did not have many belongings to begin with. So, aside from her zanpakuto and some clothes her only other worldly possession was a mirror.
After a meeting and weird demonstration with Aizen and the other recruits, now the short girl was looking around her room in the barracks of the Fifth Division. Sighing, she stepped in and sat her bag of clothes down. There's no way I'll be able to do any training in here. I wonder what the division training grounds look like...
"Cozy, ain't it?" Gin asked from the door.
Kyoko turned around to see him standing there with a wide grin on his face. "What do you want, Gin-kun?" she asked.
Gin shook a finger as he began to approach her. "Ya can't address me as such anymore now tha' I'm your fukutaicho," he said.
Kyoko sighed. "What do you want, Ichimaru-fukutaicho? Better?" She rolled her eyes and went back to unpacking.
"Tha's better. Anyway, Aizen-taicho wants ta see ya for tea." Gin picked up her mirror and looked at it. In it he saw Kyoko giving him a strange look. "Somethin' wrong, Oko-chan?"
"Aizen-taicho wants to see me for tea? Tea?" she asked incredulously.
Gin shrugged. "Ya will learn tha' Aizen-taicho loves his tea. Best not ta keep him waitin' long, Oko-chan," Gin said. He sat her mirror down and left the room.
Tea? Who the hell has tea anymore? Aizen is so weird, Kyoko thought as she watched Gin's retreating form. She turned and examined herself in her shihakusho. I already hate this thing. She started to fix it to her liking.
15 minutes later, Kyoko was shown into a very bright room. Tea was set up on a table in the center of the room. To her left were giant windows that let the sunshine in. She heard the door slide shut behind her and suddenly she felt like a prisoner in the spacious room.
Odd. I'm free to leave but yet I feel like a prisoner, Kyoko thought as she walked over to the large windows.
There was a garden full of flowers outside. It appeared to be well taken care of. Nothing was out of place. Kyoko placed a hand on the window. She leaned forward a bit as she gazed outward, losing herself in the mesmerizing flowers.
"You like gardens, Utsuri-san?"
Kyoko gasped and whirled around. Her long, sloppy black hair whipped from her right shoulder to her left shoulder, nearly smacking her in the face. Aizen was standing by the table with his hands hidden in his haori's sleeves. He had his usual pleasant expression on his face.
"Aizen-taicho," Kyoko frowned, "I didn't hear you come in." She straightened up and threw her hair over her shoulder and out of the way.
I really need a haircut...
Aizen nodded. He noticed that her shihakusho appeared too large for her tiny frame. The black was almost harsh against her pale, porcelain skin. He also noticed that he could practically see himself in her somewhat narrowed crystal blue eyes.
"Would you care to join me for tea, Utsuri-san?" Aizen gestured to the table. Kyoko shook her head as he took a seat on a pillow.
Kyoko sat across from Aizen. She watched as he calmly fixed both of them tea. Obviously, he was not going to speak first. "Aizen-taicho?"
"Yes, Utsuri-san?" Aizen finished and looked at Kyoko. He picked up his tea.
"Why did you call me for tea? I just got here," Kyoko said.
Aizen took a sip of his tea. He sat the cup down and smiled at Kyoko. "Why did you become a shinigami and join the Gotei Thirteen, Utsuri-san?" he asked.
Kyoko was a little shocked by the question. She sat up straight and looked away for a moment. After gathering her thoughts, she glanced back at Aizen. "Why, you ask? I pretty much had no choice," she answered.
"No choice, you say?" Aizen raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. I was told that my reiryoku was all over the place and affecting the area around me. It needed to be checked. It was either become a shinigami or go to some prison. I guess it's by chance that I happen to make a pretty good shinigami," Kyoko said, fingering the edge of her cup.
Aizen inwardly smirked. She was a hungry mind, indeed. It remained to be seen whether she would follow him or not. From the way she acted around him, she appeared unimpressed most of the time. Other reactions that he had elicited were surprise and annoyance.
Those are to be expected when one sneaks up on you, I suppose, Aizen thought. Still, she holds no admiration for me like others do. Dare I say that it is... refreshing to see that? Someone who isn't awed by me; that's hard to come by these days. I suppose that's what intrigues me about her.
"So what led you to finally decide upon my division?"
Kyoko looked up from her tea. "Me and my zanpakuto had a little chat. Also, I suppose it was an offer I just couldn't refuse, Aizen-taicho. I'm fresh out of the academy and already a fifth seat. That's amazing," she said flatly.
"You have aspirations to go higher?" Aizen probed.
Kyoko sighed and met his eyes. Her eyes hardened for a moment. "Division hierarchy doesn't interest me in the least, Aizen-taicho. However, power does. Whoever has the most power makes the rules, no? Whether I'm a twentieth seat or fukutaicho, makes no difference to me. All I want to do is get stronger. And once I've reached my peak, I'll see where I go from there..." she trailed off.
Aizen stared into her cold, blue eyes for a moment. He could literally see his entire reflection within them. "Your goal is to become stronger, Utsuri-san. You believe my division will help you attain said goal?"
Kyoko raised an eyebrow. "Well, Gin-kun and his short attention span haven't gone astray. So, I assume you must be doing something right, Aizen-taicho. Besides," she smirked, "something tells me that there's far more to you than meets the eye."
Aizen let out a soft chuckle. "Is that so, Utsuri-san?" He watched her nod slowly. "How?"
"Remember your demonstration for the recruits?" Kyoko asked before finishing off her tea.
"Yes. What about it?" Aizen looked away and started to pour himself some more tea.
"Kyoka Suigetsu is not a water-type zanpakuto."
Aizen nearly dropped the teapot. He fumbled with it for only a moment before sitting it back down. Then he looked up at Kyoko. She was grinning at him. It was the same smirk Gin wore when he knew something Aizen did not. It was a smug grin. It was a mocking grin. It was an INFURIATING grin.
"What makes you believe that?" Aizen asked as calmly as possible.
"Well, I don't know exactly what it does. If I had to take a guess from the responses it drew from my fellow recruits, I'd say that maybe it casts illusions. But, I know it is NOT a water-type zanpakuto." Kyoko chuckled. "The good and honest Aizen Sosuke-taicho caught in a lie. This is too good. So why don't you tell me what it really does. I promise I won't tell," she said with a wink.
Aizen stared at the girl. His normally calm composure was shaken for only a moment. He could kill her in 100 different ways without anyone ever knowing, but this new development was interesting. Instead, he simply smiled back at her. "Kyoka Suigetsu's true power is that of absolute hypnosis. All senses are under my control once you see my shikai once. Until I release you from it, there is nothing you can do about it."
Kyoko whistled. "That's a pretty phenomenal ability. And it's extremely dangerous. I can see why you would keep it a secret. But, it would seem that I am impervious to this little hypnosis. I wonder why that it is..."
Why indeed... Aizen thought. How is she the only one who isn't BLIND that is immune to Kyoka Suigetsu? I'd always thought such a thing was impossible. Apparently, I was sorely mistaken. Better that I have her under my wing now more than ever.
"Utsuri-san?" Aizen got her attention once more. "I'll be happy to assist you in your growth and development as long as you keep up with your duties."
"This wouldn't have anything to do with me knowing your little secret, would it?" Kyoko asked, giving him a lazy eye.
"Not at all, Utsuri-san. I'll always be here to help a subordinate." Aizen stood. He helped her up. "And another thing, Utsuri-san."
"Stop by my office tonight. I will have something for you then." Aizen paused. "And bring your zanpakuto."
Kyoko watched the elder man exit through another door. She ran a hand through her hair and smiled to herself. I have a feeling we will use one another mutually. But, that's how life is sometimes.
She walked back to her cozy little room in the barracks. There, Kyoko pulled out the light blue sheath that held her zanpakuto. She was by no means a master when it came to fighting with her nodachi. However, when it came to fighting with what the nodachi could turn in to, she was a legend. She sat the zanpakuto down and began to undress.
"I wonder what he wants with me tonight. He sure seems to enjoy my company..."
Aizen sat at his desk. He was finishing off the day's paperwork. Not too far from him, his younger fukutaicho fidgeted. The only other soul in the room, Tousen Kaname, stood off to the side quietly. They were all waiting on a special guest; one whom Aizen had high hopes for.
"Wha's takin' so long, Aizen-taicho? Shouldn't this special person ya've been goin' on about be here already?" Gin complained.
Aizen sighed. "Patience, Gin. All in good time. I promise you'll like this special person," he said.
Gin folded his arms. "This better be worth mah time..." he mumbled under his breath.
"Oh, I promise it is, Gin." Aizen flashed Gin a grin to match his own in mischievousness.
Kyoko had almost forgotten about her meeting with Aizen. She practically flew down the pathways to get to Aizen's office. Her feet barely touched the ground as she went past. She dodged people on patrol, trying not to trip them up with her zanpakuto.
I'm actually glad I put my hair up this time, Kyoko thought wryly. She slid to a stop in front of Aizen's office. She made sure her damp hair had not come out of the damp knot it was in. Then she knocked firmly and confidently on the door. She was mildly surprised when Tousen opened the door.
"Tousen-taicho..." she murmured.
"Enter," Tousen said.
Kyoko nodded and stepped past Tousen inside the dimly lit office. She saw Aizen was sitting at his desk, still doing paperwork. Then she noticed Gin sitting on top of his own desk, wearing his grin. She smirked at him as he waved at her.
"Ichimaru-fukutaicho, Aizen-taicho," Kyoko muttered.
"Hiya, Oko-chan," Gin said.
Kyoko cringed. "What have I said about that nickname, Gin?"
"Ah, ah, ah. Remember I'm your superior now, Oko-chan. Ya gotta call me Ichimaru-fukutaicho," Gin teased.
Kyoko suddenly felt the urge to draw her weapon and decapitate him. Instead, she turned her gaze to Aizen, who had risen from his seat to look at her. He was smiling at her. His eyes dropped to the chain she had slung over her shoulder.
"This is the one you say is special, Aizen-sama?" Tousen asked.
Kyoko frowned for a moment. She turned and looked at Tousen. Aizen-SAMA? What the hell? I don't remember Aizen being a god or anything. It's not like he's Yamamoto-soutaicho, she thought. She glanced back at Aizen. He still had that little look on his face.
"Yes, she is special. Even Gin thinks she is special," Aizen said. "Would you care to know why she is special, Tousen?"
Tousen stepped up next to Kyoko, causing her to look in his direction. He still did not seem too impressed by her. "Please explain, Aizen-sama."
"I will." Aizen walked closer To Kyoko. Kyoko did not move. Instead she just looked up at him. "Utsuri-san here appears to have a very curious talent. She is immune to Kyoka Suigetsu's powers."
Tousen seemed mildly shocked for a moment. "She can see through it?"
"That she can."
"That would pose a problem, wouldn't it, Aizen-sama?" Tousen asked. His hand was inching towards his zanpakuto.
"Not at all, Kaname. Now, Utsuri-san," Aizen stared into Kyoko's eyes, "I might say some things that make you uncomfortable. You have a choice in this matter, though."
"What, Aizen-taicho?" Kyoko asked. She was quite intrigued with what was going on around her. Why were Gin and Tousen in the room?
Well, I can understand why Gin would be here. But Tousen? And why does Tousen keep referring to Aizen as "Aizen-sama?" That's just... weird, she thought.
"You can walk out that door right now and we'll never speak of this again. However, if you stay here there is no going back; only going forward," Aizen said, his tone drastically different from the one he used on a daily basis.
Kyoko stared at him for a moment. Then she shrugged. "Sure. What is it?"
Aizen was a bit surprised at how quickly she made the decision. "You chose so quickly," he said.
Kyoko smirked. "You are the only one who can help me get what I want. You help me and I'll help you. Fair?" she asked.
Gin smirked from behind them. "Oko-chan is an ambitious one, Aizen-taicho. Best ta watch out for her," he said.
Kyoko shot him a nasty look. "Shut up, Gin."
"Enough, you two." Aizen pulled out something wrapped in paper. "This is for you, Utsuri-san."
Kyoko took the small gift. She unwrapped the white paper from around it. It was a light blue sash. It matched her sheath. "What's this for?" she asked.
"We can't very well have you slinging that zanpakuto of yours around your shoulder like that. How about wearing it in a more practical way? On your back, perhaps?" Aizen said. He watched as she connected the sash to the sheath. He leaned down to her, coming close to her ear. "By wearing this, you now belong to me. Your mind, body, and soul are now mine to do with as I please." Aizen looked back at her face.
Kyoko was staring at him blankly. Then a smile spread across her face. "I know better than to trust you, Aizen-taicho. I am not naïve enough to believe you are capable of earning such a thing from me. I am simply using you as a means to an end. If I have to do a few favors for you in order to do so, then so be it," she said.
Aizen nodded. He would like her yet. He glanced at the teardrop hilt just over her left shoulder. "By the way, what is the name of your zanpakuto, Utsuri-san?"
Kyoko looked at him, a wry smile on her face. "Shinkyō," she said. "And you can call me Kyoko."
AN: The usual disclaimer applies, ppl. "Shinkyō" means "divine mirror."