Political Initiation – Chap. 1
A/N: Aizen is an up-and-coming politician, and Ichigo is an idealistic young intern fresh out of college who comes to work for him one summer and gets initiated into a world he never knew existed. AU. AiIchi.
This is an AU; everyone is human and there are no shinigami, but I'll try to keep everyone mostly in character. Thanks for reading. Please let me know what you think and if this story is worth continuing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. None of the characters in this story are intended to represent any real persons, living or dead. It is purely a work of fiction.
The line to enter the White House for the private tour stretched halfway around the block, and Ichigo had been standing in the ninety-degree heat for more than two hours. He frowned and surreptitiously loosened another button on his suit jacket. Why security requirements made it necessary for already thoroughly screened individuals to stand in the sun and the humidity for hours, he didn't have a clue. But he supposed it was worth it, he thought as he gazed up once more at the impressive building redolent with history. He had finally made it to Washington DC, the greatest center of power in the country, and here he would at last have an opportunity to do what he knew he had to do with his life – make a difference in the world.
Last summer and fall he had poured himself heart and soul into the dynamic campaign of the charismatic rebel, Sousuke Aizen, who had ridden a populist wave of incumbent dissatisfaction all the way to the Senate. There was even talk of Aizen as a credible choice, if a bit of a dark horse, at the next presidential primary. It had all been heady and exciting for a young man just starting his senior year in college and looking to make his mark on the world.
He had applied for one of the coveted few senatorial internship positions on Aizen's team, and due in large part to his unwavering and dedicated support during the campaign, he had been chosen out of a field of hundreds. He stood a little straighter in the wilting heat, remembering his final interview with Aizen himself.
"You have a very impressive record, young man," the Senator had told him with a friendly, open smile, leaning back in his black leather chair behind the mahogany desk. He was in his early thirties, with a handsome, expressive face and wavy brown hair swept back from his forehead except for a single curl falling over his eyes. His face was calm and relaxed, but Ichigo remembered the burning intensity he had seen in this man's eyes during his powerful orations, the crackling energy that he had been able to summon up to fire a crowd of thousands with enthusiasm and devotion. "I don't see too many students with your particular combination of talents: a brilliant academic record and a star member of the varsity soccer team – and one who is willing to dedicate long hours to a punishing political campaign." His deep brown eyes studied Ichigo appraisingly, flicking up and down his body. "What made you do it?"
"I want to protect the downtrodden and fight injustice in this world," Ichigo said with a determined expression.
Aizen's eyebrows rose. "A noble goal, to be sure. But also somewhat of a cliché. Surely you have some more personal reasons for this quest of yours?"
"I –" Ichigo faltered. He hadn't expected this to come up in the interview. But from all he had heard of Aizen, he was unusually perceptive and quick-witted, and it was not surprising he would see beneath the surface of Ichigo's obsession with protecting others. "I – I saw my mother shot on the street in front of me, when I was very young. She died protecting me from the gunman, who was never caught."
The Senator's face expressed deep sympathy and his voice was full of concern as he said, "That must have been devastating for you, Ichigo. I'm not surprised that you would have developed a strong urge for justice."
"Well, I suppose that's what kept me going during those long nights."
Aizen smiled at the young man. "And I'm very grateful for the help of volunteers like you, without whom my campaign would not have been successful." He stood up and walked around the desk, offering his hand to Ichigo. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Ichigo, and we'll be letting you know soon about the internship position." His hand was warm as it wrapped around Ichigo's, the young man awkwardly stammering out his thanks.
The first few days of the summer internship in DC had begun with educational lectures and tours of the historic buildings in the city, including the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, and now the White House. It had been exciting, but the real work hadn't even started. Ichigo firmed his mouth determinedly. He couldn't wait to get all the window dressing out of the way and for his new life to begin.
Ichigo sat in the large, wood-paneled antechamber of Aizen's senatorial offices in the Capitol Building. Glassed-in teak bookcases lined the room from floor to ceiling, and a hand-knotted Oriental rug lay in the center of a circle of leather chairs. Around the room sat Aizen's personal staff, aides and counselors, waiting to begin the staff meeting. The conversation in the room was desultory and quiet. A gleaming wood-paneled door at the end of the room opened with a quiet click, and the Senator entered.
Immediately, Ichigo felt the energy in the room rise. Everyone's face turned to Aizen's, and it suddenly struck Ichigo that they looked like a field of sunflowers turning to face the sun, as the tall, brown-haired man entered and greeted everyone. It was a hot day, so he had removed his jacket and tie and loosened his collar. His white shirt lay unbuttoned part way down his chest, and Ichigo could see the faint play of muscles beneath his skin as he moved gracefully among his staffers with a few friendly words.
He seated himself in an armchair at the end of the room, and relaxed, resting his chin in his hand. His brown eyes moved from face to face, gauging the moods of the people around him, as he waited for his chief of staff, Gin Ichimaru, to begin. Ichimaru was a pale, thin man with fine silver hair, eyes narrowed to slits, and a constant smile on his face that masked his true feelings. Ichigo distrusted him; the man's sarcastic wit and perpetually mocking tone confused Ichigo, who was a fairly straightforward person, and he always wondered what the man was implying. But he was Aizen's right hand man, so Ichigo supposed he would have to get used to him.
On the other side of Aizen sat an African-American man in dark glasses with his hair in neat cornrows. Kaname Tousen was legally blind, but his incisive analysis of political strategy and keen grasp of administrative details had kept him a valued member of Aizen's staff for many years.
The others he didn't know as well. There were two women, one blonde and one with hair an unlikely shade of green. One of the men had blue hair, and they all seemed a bit brash, as fitted Aizen's rebellious image, taking Washington DC by storm to overthrow the corrupt establishment.
Gin Ichimaru began with the first item on the agenda. "Today we have a vote in the Senate on the bill to allow the carrying of concealed weapons." As the others listened, Ichigo's gaze wandered once more to Aizen, who was paying attention intently. Ichigo noticed how Aizen's long, elegant fingers stroked his chin delicately, the sinews shifting in his wrist as he gestured and made a comment in his gentle, deep voice. He had never spent this much time so close to Aizen before, and he suddenly became aware of how dark his eyes were beneath their long, dark lashes, appearing almost liquid in the centers, alive with a mercurial intelligence and imbued with the insinuation of hidden power and depth. Ichigo shook his head in annoyance. He was not going to develop a schoolboy crush on his employer, not now of all times, no matter how handsome he was. He was here to get a job done, he thought firmly, setting his mouth in a grim line. He was not going to let his emotions get out of control. He focused his attention once more on the discussion at the meeting and scowled.
After the young orange-haired man had been led off by Nel to his cubicle and first assignment, Gin and Aizen stood to adjourn to the private office for further discussion. Aizen's gaze lingered on the back of the young man as he was led out of the room.
"You just chose him for his looks," accused Gin in a teasing voice, once the door had closed behind them.
Aizen smiled, remembering the angry, passionate young man with the firm body and shock of bright orange hair. "He is very cute," he admitted to his long-time friend and colleague, with a hint of darkness in his smile. "But no, after what happened last year I have completely sworn off relationships with interns, Gin." He lowered himself gracefully into the chair behind his desk, sighing slightly, and Gin took one of the seats in front of it with a smirk.
"Well, you got away with it, after all," Gin offered.
The brown-haired man's smile broadened. "But this year the stakes are higher, Gin. I need to remain focused on my goal. I will not allow distractions to keep my plans from coming to fruition."
Gin's smile matched his own. "But of course. Nevertheless, he's still rather naïve, all that youthful energy so scattered and misdirected. If you wish to use that young man properly for the work you need done, he will have to be… educated." Although his smile did not change, his face took on a slightly sinister cast.
Aizen lifted his eyes to gaze out his office window, over the expansive grounds beneath the Capitol Building, to the White House in the distance. "Have no fear, Gin," he murmured. "I will train him properly… and make use of him in exactly the way I wish."
A/N: So, is this story worth continuing? Please review and let me know. Thanks.