Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo... or Aizen. Probably the second one.

Notes: Recent plot twists in Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece drove me to this. I don't expect you to like it. I rather hope you don't (if you do, something is wrong with you, though maybe that should be "us" instead). I'm tempted to label it a crackfic, because I certainly wouldn't write it under normal circumstances.

Summary: Aizen's power has no limits. Neither, it seems, does Ichigo's potential. Smells like a setup, doesn't it?

The Master Puppet

A (Positively Evil) Bleach Oneshot by

Nate Grey (xman0123-at-aol-dot-com)

It was a dark and stormy night. She had always thought it would be, when she finally saw Aizen again.

There was no malice in his face. There never had been. He didn't need it, never had. Aizen was always in control. Malice was for people who lacked control.

"It's been a while, Masaki," he said in a pleasant tone. "I've missed you."

"Give me my son," she whispered as loud as she dared, hoping to turn the plea into a demand.

Aizen glanced down at the unconscious child that he held by the collar. "Your son, Masaki? I'm afraid I don't have him. I was only aware that you had two daughters that belonged entirely to you."

She knew what he wanted, what it would take to secure Ichigo's freedom. At least, for the moment. But Masaki also knew that Ichigo would never be free of Aizen. All she wanted in that moment was a few precious last seconds with her son. She knew, or at least strongly believed, that Aizen had come here to kill her. Her only option was to give Aizen exactly what he wanted.

"Then... give me... our son. Please, Sōsuke."

He smiled. "There, was that so hard? That's what I always liked about you, Masaki. You're such a good girl."

Ichigo didn't have her gift, so he had fallen for Aizen's illusion all too easily. Isshin had instilled in the boy a sense of manly pride early on, in the hopes that Ichigo would be eager to protect his sisters. Unfortunately, that same pride made Ichigo easy prey for a damsel in distress.

And even though she now had the curious ability to see through Aizen's illusions, or at least to see them as hazy outlines laid carefully over reality, Masaki had been easy prey for Aizen as well. She had only gained that ability seconds after Ichigo was conceived: that horrible moment when Isshin had pulled away from her on their first night together, only for his face to suddenly become transparent, revealing Aizen beneath.

Isshin, wonderful man that he was, had stayed with her despite the betrayal. For some reason, he accepted Masaki's story without question, and forgave her instantly. If nothing else, they could both confirm that Karin and Yuzu were their daughters alone. Isshin had even claimed Ichigo as his own, suspecting that his true father never would.

Even now, Masaki knew that Aizen hadn't come for Ichigo. If that was all he'd wanted, he could have simply approached Ichigo while the boy was alone and taken him, without ever giving her or Isshin any indication as to the kidnapper's identity.

But Aizen did everything for a reason. He had laid a trap for her and Ichigo with a goal in mind, one that apparently involved Aizen posing as a hairy, white-faced, grinning monster. Masaki couldn't begin to guess why: Ichigo had only seen the girl, and assuming that Aizen succeeded, Masaki wouldn't live to tell anyone about this.

It never occurred to her that this was more of Aizen's usual flair for the dramatic: playing a role to the very end, even when it was entirely unnecessary.

"Come and take our son from me, Masaki," he invited. "You have my word that no harm will come to him."

What else could she do? Despite what Ichigo represented, he was still her son, and she was prepared to give her life for his. If Aizen meant to kill her solely because she could see through his illusions, then he would do so whether she obeyed him or not. But if there was any chance that he would spare Ichigo, or that Ichigo might not learn the awful truth for some time, she had to take it.

In the end, Masaki had to give Aizen some credit. He didn't stab her in the back until Ichigo was safely in her arms.

"Don't worry, my dear Masaki," Aizen told her as her life slipped away. "I would never kill Ichigo. He's far too important. On the day that we truly clash, I will accept him as my son. Then I will take his power for myself, and his purpose will be fulfilled."

She had no idea what he actually meant. Masaki could only see the tortured expression of her own face as it vanished into the depths of Aizen's bloodstained sword.

The End.


If you think the story is bad, the real kicker is the overall implication: since Ichigo has already fallen victim to Aizen's illusions, there really is no hope of the good guys winning.

And here I'm going to make a wild guess at Aizen's Bankai: the ability to drain the spiritual power/reiryoku of any spiritual being, adding it to his own. This is of course similar to Aaroniero's Resurrección, with 2 key differences: 1) Aizen doesn't get their abilities, and 2) Aizen has standards AND control, so he doesn't end up looking like Return of the Son of the Blob That Ate My Minivan. So, if true, probably not a good idea for Ichigo to come in contact with him. While we're on the subject, probably not a good idea for ANYONE to come in contact with Aaroniero, because, um, ew.

Don't read too much into Masaki's ability: even if you're aware of Aizen's illusions, you can't actually resist them.

So, um, loose ends: every time Grand Fisher appears in canon, it's Aizen, or one of his illusions. I don't know that there's a distance related to his hypnosis, so for all I know if Aizen activates his sword in Hueco Mundo, people in Karakura could fall down and worship him. I dunno, you decide. Or let him. He certainly decides everything else these days. Poor Momo...

Okay, you can hate me now.