A/N: well, then... this is... um, well, I always hate the 1st chapters of my non-one/two-shot stories. I wanna know if this looks like it's worth continuing. If not, I'll just focus on my other fics and that's that. I just thought I could try some GinHitsu cuz I like the pairing almost as much as I like IchiHitsu.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach.
Ichimaru Gin had been rich for as long as he could remember. Never once in his twenty-four years of life had he lacked anything – servants were always there to grant each and every wish his mind could contrive. He pointed something, and it was his, he named an object and it was delivered – without delay, without questioning, his desires were never and had never been left unsatisfied. Yes... quite an enviable life he was leading - with his large house, spacious lands, magnificent balls, sultry women and influential friends, there was little in this world that could throw him off the track. He lived his life in a state between the dream and the consciousness, taking everything that he could from every new person he met, from each intriguing situation he found himself in and from every new whim he had had fulfilled. In his realm, Gin was a God and as such, with time even the most amazing things ceased to impress him. All the caprices on the Earth, no matter now eccentric and hard to attain, would always leave him fed up and bored in the end, forcing him, again and again, to search for something new. Something more. He was greedy and hungry for thrills, craving excitement, yearning to feel... what? Anything. Anything at all. And with the time, these traits of his character, along with so many others that could only define the temper of somebody who was too wealthy and too self-centered to have a sober view on the world, made him grow detested and feared by people...
He became hated by those who had so little to be happy about, cursed, silently or aloud, by those men and women with colorless faces whose trembling hands had to struggle for a single piece of bread every single day. But did their disdain, their hunger-filled, moist eyes bother Ichimaru? No. Starvation, and maladies, and plagues – those were not things that deserved his attention. He fancied thinking of himself as a something of a… collector. A connoisseur, you see, a man who saw, understood and appreciated beauty, arranging each new object he clasped his slender fingers around along the line of all his other, precious possessions. All he had to do was find something he liked – no matter the price, the weigh, the distance - and he was going to receive it...
...because, as he so often pointed out, there was not a single thing in the entire world he could not have.
Until one August afternoon someone decided to prove him wrong.
Ichimaru wasn't particularly fond of palanquins (not at all, actually) but today he was coming back from an important visit and using the odious means of transport was inevitable for someone of his rank. At this time of the year it was quite some punishment to travel like this, for the heat could literally suffocate even the most strong-willed people. Because of that issue, after several minutes spent in the overly warm cubicle, Gin ordered the carriers to take a short cut through one of the poorer sections of the town, not carrying in the slightest about the possibility that the experience could turn out to be just as unpleasant as the longer way back home. Sitting inside the stuffy palanquin and counting the minutes before he could finally get out, Ichimaru found himself more and more distracted by the noises that came from outside. He had never been particularly interested in the petty talk that ordinary, uneducated people tended to engage themselves in while crowding the streets in search for the next piece of meat for their unattractive supper, but boredom had a way to find itself something to do, and chunks of sentences, crumbs of words and the occasional shard of somebody's cry or laughter spilled through the openings of Ichimaru's unpleasant means of transport, sprouting a very dull sort of amusement in the man's chest.
Maybe it was a wicked kind of entertainment - to listen with a half-grin to the way people seemed to be so fond of discussing their trite troubles in the middle of the streets or bargaining with sellers for a lower price that would hardly help them crawl out of the misery that they had already buried their heads in - yet the nobleman couldn't find it in himself to care. Some were born lucky, others were meant to tread through mud and grime all their life, but it wasn't in Gin's nature to try and bend down to the level of the wretched ones. Neither of those beef-witted peasants outside was going to change the world, make a difference or speak up their mind and say something that mattered... In fact, if there was anything-
Pausing suddenly, Ichimaru straightened his shoulders a little, perking up as a new, completely unexpected kind of conversation managed to sneak inside the palanquin. The participants in the dialog were positively male, their voices crude and rough, matching the manner of speaking of those inane creatures that were only capable of doing jobs that nobody else would agree to - and whether it was fate or something else that made him pay closer attention to the happening, Gin found himself listening very carefully to their exchange.
"The master said to kill the kid off, huh? That's odd, I'd swear the boy was bought less than a month ago. Bored, already?"
"You'd be sick of the brat, too, if you had to deal with him for this long..."
"Heh... Honestly? I can't believe this midget can be such trouble, I bet this whole story is blown out of proportions, as always." Snort. "Surely he can be sold off at least, some pretty face he's got there..."
The hoarse, unpleasant laughter of the other interlocutor came as a low, bestial growl that simply didn't fit between the previously coherent words.
"No one wants him, mate, don'cha get it? The brat's not worth a rap, because after all these lil stunts he's pulled off, everybody knows what he kid does. And trust me, after a couple of violent escapades, only a crazy man would be willing to have something like that in their house."
At that point Ichimaru's curiosity had reached its peak and he ordered the carriers to stop, getting off the palanquin with a bit too much haste to appear reluctant to leave the thing. He quickly scanned the area, ignoring the half-meddlesome, half-frightened looks that people were giving him and his little entourage, until he finally spotted what he was looking for.
"See tha' group ova' there?" Gin said to one of his servants, nodding towards two bulky men who were dragging a small, only half-conscious form in the opposite direction of where the little cavalcade was heading. "Call 'em 'ere. I wanna ask 'em somethin'."
By the time the two men and their load had returned, a small crowd of people had gathered around the palanquin, keeping their respectful distance from Gin and his men, already half-expecting to be chased away if the master was not in the mood to tolerate such impudence. Instead of being irritated by the unnecessary attention however, Ichimaru simply paid no heed to the audience, his arms remaining folded neatly in front of his chest until the trio that he had asked for managed to arrive before him.
"Ichimaru-sama." The men greeted, bowing respectively (if a little anxiously) to the nobleman. Ichimaru let his arms drop by his sides lazily, showing absolutely no other signs of having heard the words, and languidly allowed his slit eyes to slide between the two simpletons and rest on the small, heavily breathing form that was desperately clinging to the last strings of his consciousness. The boy was pale and very thin, his over-sized, ragged grey clothes hanging on his frame with difficulty. He kept his head lowered but not out of respect or shame as one could assume, but because he could hardly find the strength to look up. An old and extremely large hat was covering his head, hiding both his orbs and every rebellious tress of hair from peeking eyes, whereas his hands were tied tightly behind his back, leaving the two men to drag him around by slinging their hands under his armpits.
"Where are ya takin' this boy?" Gin inquired evenly, continuing to examine and take into account more and more details about the state of the young servant. The two men exchanged glances.
"His master… wants to dispose of him." One of them, the second Ichimaru had heard to speak, said. Gin reached with one hand and grasped the boy's chin, forcing the small face to tilt upwards. A pair of foggy, lidded jade eyes met his own and the boy smirked wearily.
"Hasn't mommy taught you not to stick your hands in the dirt?" the young servant taunted hoarsely, much to his 'companions'' horror. Ichimaru's brows shot up with slight surprise at the question but his grin only widened as he angled the boy's face to the side to take a better look, the action tearing a small savage growl from the brat.
"Ah, pretty indeed." Gin murmured thoughtfully. "Wha's your name, feisty-chan?"
Recognizing the boy's intentions to spit back an offense, one of the men who was holding him hurried to reply.
"Hitsugaya Toushiro, my lord."
"Ahh, Shiro-chan, then." Gin accorded without ever lifting his gaze off the child. "Pretty name for a pretty little thing."
"If you don't get your hands off my face, I swear, I'll bite your fingers off." Hitsugaya snarled ferociously but instead of slapping the impertinent boy across the face as everybody expected him to, Ichimaru merely chuckled with amusement and shook his head.
"It'd be a shame ta lose such a… witty lil mouth, now, wouldn' it?" Gin withdrew his hand and snatched it away just as the boy's surprisingly white teeth snapped in his direction. The fox-face then turned to the two men, unpleasant grin back in place, and added lightly. "How much do ya want fo' 'im?"
The duo exchanged worried glances.
"Ichimaru-sama, we have heard about you… we don't want to get on your bad side. The boy is trouble."
"Lemme decide tha' for myself."
"Our lord thought he could tame him, but he only regretted buying him for such a high price afterwards."
"Tha's fine, I'll pay double the sum he gave fo' tha' kid." Ichimaru rebuffed imperturbably, his voice completely pleasant despite the tinge of menacing impatience that lingered at the end. A small pause followed, the uneasiness of the two men quite vividly plastered on their faces as they turned around to discussed the matter for a couple of minutes.
The deal was quick, rushed even, most likely because the servants were in hurry to finish it before the generous buyer had changed his mind. They handed the boy over, along with a small oblong package that apparently consisted all of Toushiro's belongings and left as quickly as their feet could carry them.
"Even I know the deal was stupid." The boy murmured with exhaustion as his new owner cut the ropes around his wrists. Ichimaru didn't reply but simply rounded Hitsugaya, one hand clasping around the smaller arm and pulling him up. The moment he found himself on his feet, however, Toushiro reeled dangerously and his legs went weak underneath him. Then the world sank into darkness.
Next time he woke up, Hitsugaya found himself laying on his stomach across a quite luxurious palanquin. He squeezed his eyes shut before blinking them open and made an attempt to move, only to groan throatily when a jolt of burning pain shot through his back and across his whole body.
"Ya're awake." A voice sounded from somewhere nearby and the boy turned his head to the side to follow the source.
"Great, the crappy businessman." Toushiro drawled through a grunt of pain, his gaze examining the man that was sitting in front of him for a moment, before falling on his slender fingers that were twiddling something lazily. The boy's eyes widened as he recognized the object, a cloud of shock passing across his dainty features at the sight of what had once covered his own head, and he made some inarticulate sound.
"I like yer hair." Ichimaru pointed out as he lifted the child's hat to his eye level for a second before throwing it out of the window with one sharp snap of his wrist. "Dun wanna see ya coverin' it again, understand?"
Hitsugaya's lips twisted with distaste as he noticed how unpleasantly his snowy-white wisps were now falling in his eyes, but despite the discomfort, no snappy talkback came to his mind. Instead, he continued gauging the situation silently, the apprehensive part of him growing more and more demanding when he noticed Ichimaru's grin falter a little as he examined the servant more closely.
"What?" the boy spat, his brows knitting into a scowl that made his temples throb painfully.
"Ya've been whipped. A nice touch befo' they kill ya off, huh?"
Hitsugaya couldn't suppress a wince at the statement, his bruised knuckles forming a tight fist beside his head as he became aware of the next disturbing fact – the dirty piece of garment that had been covering his bleeding back, was now gone, and the hot summer air was licking his stinging wounds nastily, aggravating their state and making him feel incredibly vulnerable under the piercing gaze of his new owner. A wave of anger washed over him as Ichimaru clicked his tongue in slight mockery and pulled out what had before been the boy's shirt but was now a blood-soaked and tattered piece of nothing.
"Wonder how I didn' notice tha' immediately."
It was Hitsugaya's turn to click his tongue.
"Oh, no, damaged commodity." The boy jeered, raising an impassive brow. "Didn't I mention what a crappy businessman you were?"
"Would ya prefer if I'd let 'em kill ya?"
"Depends on what you're going to do with me."
Ichimaru's grin stretched a bit further.
"Tha's fo' me ta kno' and fo' ya ta guess."
Hitsugaya returned the obnoxious twist of the man's lips with one of his own, shifting a little as he felt a thin trickle of blood trailed down his shoulder.
"You must be aware though, I don't usually follow orders."
"Well then," Ichimaru cooed, reaching with one hand to ruffle the temptingly soft white locks despite the low growl that came as respond to the action. "This ought ta be quite interstin'."
A/N: I think I'll be focusing on Hitsugaya and Ichimaru's characters clashing viciously in this fic... well, if I continue it, that is. Hm, anyway... tell me what you think.