A/N: I wrote this way back in September, year 2008, but it was nameless back then, and remained so until the first quarter of this year, when I finally came up with a title. It can be interpreted in two ways: ain't a way and ain't away. Somehow I find both of them fitting for this pairing and this piece.
Warning: slash. Definitely not worksafe.
Disclaimer: BLEACH is the intellectual property of Kubo Tite and all associated companies. Likewise, Yami no Matsuei is the intellectual property of Yoko Matsushita and all associated companies. This piece of fiction is in no way associated with any of them and is not meant to infringe on their copyright in any way or form, and it does not claim any ownership. Furthermore, no money is being made from this, as it is a fan-made contribution to the fandom, created solely for the purpose of entertainment.
It was... a way to pass time. Certainly, there were better ways, but this one provided interesting research materials and kept him interested, which was always a bonus. Shinigami were shinigami. Hollows were hollows. Humans were humans. Except for the Quincy, and that woman of Aizen's desires. They were a different brand, a more interesting test subject, though his chances of getting his hands on them were extremely limited. In one case it was the nigh-extinction of the Quincy as a species, and in the other – the woman being off limits to any harmful or impairing activities (leaving lasting effects, at least) directed at her.
But this human… The one he had in his lab right now… He was not a human anymore. What he was though, had yet to be determined, and Szayel had not yet succeeded in finding out an answer that would be satisfying enough.
"I am immortal. You cannot kill me."
Szayel did not believe those words. Humans were not immortal. Even shinigami were not. Even hollows were not.
"You won't be the first to try."
Szayel tried. Again and again. For the sake of science, of course, and not because he would simply want this man dead (as was the case though; or would be – eventually). He preferred to have the most interesting objects of study remain alive for as long as possible. Otherwise he grew rather bored of spending the time in his laboratory with his old experiments and barely anything new to catch (and keep) his attention. He was a perfect being, after all. He needed perfection in everything around him.
"Didn't I tell you?"
Szayel jerked his shoulders up in alert at the silky voice suddenly sounding right next to his ear. He was sure he had left the man strapped down to the examination table.
"Aren't you tired of trying?" the voice inquired, half laughing.
Szayel knew what kind of sight would await him when he turned around; therefore he chose to not do so. (For a moment, anyway. He couldn't ignore his newest and most frustrating subject for too long.) He snorted in annoyance and rearranged his medical instruments, trying to decide which one he should use first.
"I should ask you the same. It's impossible for a human..."
"But I'm not human," the man cut in, holding back laughter.
Szayel ignored it and carried on talking. "...to be immortal. Even shinigami..."
A devious smile was slowly forming on those lips that he could not see, but the grimace was so poisonous that he could feel it even with his back turned (which wasn't an entirely smart choice, he admitted).
"I'm not a shinigami."
"...die permanently when they are killed."
"I have been killed."
"Hollows can be killed. Everyone can be killed." Szayel emphasised in annoyance and whipped around finally, his hands going up in the air in a desperate gesture that was supposed to emphasise his annoyance and exasperation. "And when they die, they stay dead."
"Apparently," Muraki opened his hands as if in surrender, smiling all the while, "I am an exception to the rule."
Szayel ground his teeth in anger and crossed his arms. Exceptions to rules he could not break were making him very irate and very, very murderous. "I will find a way."
Muraki's expression changed momentarily and not a trace of the previous amusement was left. Instead, his eyes were full of sadness and the look on his face could be considered very moving. (According to all human standards, anyway. Szayel, personally, didn't care about such trivial matters.)
"I wish it were a promise."
Szayel snorted. He knew the 'look of a fallen angel' (as Muraki had once called it during one of his odd moods when he felt it appropriate to retell an event from his life) all too well. Apparently, humans could be tricked by that. If Szayel really thought about it, it was quite like the tear-marks on Ulquiorra's face. That bastard went around killing like nobody's business and yet most people confused those teal marks for a sign of weakness: a sinner looking for absolution and finding none. Szayel could have told anyone who would have cared enough to ask that Ulquiorra was an emotionless bastard. He wasn't the fourth Espada for nothing. Only the top three surpassed him, and even then barely, and only thanks to their fraccion.
Muraki was very much like Ulquiorra in this respect. The innocent, emotion-filled expression and eyes that begged for absolution led people to believe that he was a truly kind person. Though Ulquiorra's stone-set face seemed to be just as good a decoy (even if he needed none), and his very presence spoke volumes due to his unconcealed power. Contrary to him, Muraki made it a common practice to hide his spiritual power, letting his opponents underestimate him all they wanted to turn the tables on that at the most unexpected of moments.
Szayel had to admit that, in the very beginning, he had made that same mistake as well. He had considered Muraki to be an easily breakable plaything. Yet sometime halfway through their first fight, he had found himself tangled in wires and unable to release his zanpakutou while Muraki's summoned creatures obliterated his fraccion. Why had not killed him then and there, Muraki would never tell. And it did not matter how many times Szayel asked him about this, or how much torture he put the man through, just to wrench those words out of him, but to no avail. Muraki would always manage to dodge the subject, and eventually Szayel gave up on trying. And did it really matter to know?
The man had a wire fetish, Szayel decided upon finding the first loops of the thin wire already around him. Wire and cross fetish, he continued his thought, as his arms were drawn out to his sides and fastened to the part of a collapsed wall that resembled a broken cross. Why Muraki insisted on always breaking out portions of walls like this, he also would not say. He had mentioned something about personal aesthetics once, in a passing-by manner, and that had been that.
"You're not even trying anymore, Szayel," Muraki breathed against his ear while reaching around him to check how tight the wires were pulled. Just like the scientist, he very much enjoyed playthings that were hard to break.
A little more, and the wires cut through Szayel's white robes and into his hardened skin. This had always made him wonder what exactly those wires were made of. He didn't quite believe Muraki's claims of them being made from women's hair and reinforced with Netherworld's magic. First of all, he didn't believe that such a place as Netherworld existed. If it had, Aizen would have mentioned it and would have staged an invasion in that direction as well. And secondly…
It was true. It was obvious. He told himself that it was just all a part of his research. That, for the sake of science, he could afford a little loss here and there.
"Neither are you."
Muraki did not respond. Instead he picked up a scalpel and gave it an experimental flick. "It looks different than the human ones. Have you adjusted them to your... hollow needs?" He looked up at Szayel expectantly, calculating how much damage he could do within the short period of time he still had.
Szayel looked slightly insulted. "A hollow's skin is ten times more resistant and tougher than that of a human. Of course I would need all my instruments adjusted."
"I see. This makes things all the more interesting."
Szayel raised his eyebrows. "Interesting?"
"This means you are hard to kill. I will enjoy it then." The last sentence was no more than a whisper and a strange gleam set in the man's eyes.
Muraki met Szayel's gaze and smiled in satisfaction. He had just reached a valuable realisation.
"I have decided," he announced with flair.
Szayel had not seen an expression like this on Muraki's face before. What was the damned man on about?
"Indeed." Muraki tilted his head to the side slightly and leaned in close to place a soft kiss on Szayel's neck right above the wire that was starting to cut into skin. "You are the most perfect body for my needs."
"Needs?" Szayel laughed at the audacity. "I'm afraid I..."
"...don't swing that way?" Muraki breathed on his neck, gracing his earlobe with a tentative brush of his lips. "Not too long ago you did. And you will do it again. And again."
Before Szayel could say anything though, Muraki changed the subject.
"I have a brother," he said while carefully dragging the tip of the scalpel along the wire around Szayel's neck, watching as it cut through where the wire was still failing slightly and the blood began to ooze out. The blood, he mused, was always the same; no matter to whom it belonged. "And he desperately needs a new body."
Szayel bit back a moan. Muraki had done this to him before, sans all the discussions about family. So the scientist decided to share a bit as well; something he never, ever did.
"I had a brother too."
"Oh?" Muraki raised an eyebrow in feigned interest. "Did you kill him?"
It was a casual, emotionless query that reminded Szayel very much of Ulquiorra. He made an annoyed noise. It was just his kind of luck - being stuck on the same floor with two arrogant emotionless bastards. Luckily for him, only one was present at the time, though whether this one – or the other – was the worst of the two remained undecided.
"I didn't kill mine, either."
Was that a hint of regret Szayel heard in his voice?
"But that will change soon."
Szayel wanted to point out the obvious flaw in Muraki's logic, but the hand rubbing against the front of his hakama was too distracting to have him caring about proper phrasing. Especially when Muraki was already kneeling down, undoing his clothing on the way.
"Szayel Aporro Granz," Muraki began, stroking Szayel's hardening member, "I have decided that you will be my brother's new body." With that said, Muraki took it in his mouth and Szayel forgot to think about his words.