Kiss: Before I say anything more. I absolutely love you. Will you marry me? We can move to California and it will be legal and all! I mean, seriously, and we could fantasize about AiIchi love and even go so far as to go to a sex store and… ahem. Nevermind, forgive my small lapse of sanity. Anyways, on with what I am really trying to say. You, my delightful cream puff, are perhaps the most insightful, most intriguing little butterfly I have ever had review my stories. I am glad that you continue to enjoy them, and that you are picking up the little hints I throw here and there. I am glad so many scenarios are running through your mind, and even more so that you share them with me! I hope you continue to enjoy this story, even when some chapters seem lacking! Much love, yours truly, Me. 3
"Is this fake?"
He can feel everything around him slow to a stop, can hear every breath of air becoming shallow. The man before him does not bat an eyelash, but the people behind him suddenly freeze. He does not look back at them, those blank eyes taking in Aizen, watching him as he has always watched him.
Everything seems to go in slow motion for Ichigo, that dual presence in his mind still settled in harmony even as the darker half, the hollow half, fully lets go of his mind, and the control that it has had upon him since leaving Las Noches, but that means very little to Ichigo, who had for a while taken the back seat in order to see, to watch.
Finally the chocolate haired man's lips part to allow a string of words that make Ichigo even more twisted than when he had heard the declaration of Tosen that the Espada that he had felt beneath his hands, that he had tasted of blood, were still alive.
"Of what, Ichigo, do you speak of?"
Leave it to Aizen to be so carefree, so aloof. Ichigo's eyes narrow, the only truly visible part of his eyes being the never ending blackness, and he grows eerily still as well, his clothing shifting in the small breeze that lifts up around them.
"Don't play with me, Aizen." It's a demand, and yet somehow still a request. Their eyes meet and Aizen tilts his head to the side, chin jutting out to the side, before he speaks as well.
"Answer my question first." A command, one that has the Soul Reapers reacting in much the same way; pure shock. They don't understand, can't exactly comprehend, what is going on. With the exception of Hitsugaya, of course.
This, of course, makes Ichigo pause.
Why had he killed Tosen?
True, he had lapsed into a momentary fit of rage when hearing the man's words. But why had he directed his ire towards him?
His mind had come up with a perfectly good reason why the man should die at the time, but for the life of him, he can't remember what that reasoning was. Go figure.
He reaches back behind his head to scratch absently at his neck.
What was it? Something had set him off. Something had made him so angry that…
"However, Stark was in the West Wing roughly five minutes ago…"
Ichigo immediately clasps his head as he squeezes his eyes tightly shut, shaking his head from side to side in a declining way.
"I am pleased, Ichigo. We shall destroy Karakura Town and I will rule the Soul Society.."
He growls, a low fierce sound that bubbles up from the back of his throat to spill out for everyone to hear.
"With you as my second…."
His lips part and he tangles his fingers in his own orange blonde hair as he bows over, tears threatening the corner of his eyes, a scream building in the back of his throat.
"I am pleased."
And he thrashes out with his riatsu, regardless of the Soul Reapers nearby, regardless of any humans. Regardless of any damage it may cause.
The only one that seems unaffected, the only one that his riatsu does not angrily whip out at, is Aizen. The man stands tall, watching Ichigo as he goes through his little fit, all the while not moving an inch. The wild sound that rips from Ichigo's chest makes him narrow his eyes, however, his arms hanging at his sides as Ichigo takes a stumbled step towards him, the thrashing power quickly receeding though still bubbling up just beneath his last shred of sanity.
"You lied to me. Tosen knew the truth. Tosen told me that Grimmjow is still alive."
He turns burning, accusing eyes on the other man, teeth clenched as he allows his fisted hands to fall to his sides as well.
Aizen takes a deep breath and his eyes move to focus on the Soul Reapers watching their exchange. Well, this is unexpected. He hadn't counted on Ichigo finding out that he had not actually killed the Espada. But, he can still use this.
His gaze returns to Ichigo before he speaks.
"It was necessary for you to release the anger you held within you for them. I need both you and my Espada to complete my mission. Our mission, Ichigo. You tasted your revenge, though it be real or not. Is that not enough?"
He steps closer to the younger male, noting the anger and hurt still swirling in his gaze.
"You did draw their blood, they are currently recovering, though you did a rather large amount of damage before I stepped in. Do you understand, Ichigo? It was imperative that you believed it, that you felt it. Now, you can be rid of it."
Silence stretches between them, in Ichigo can feel the anger, the disbelief, fading from his body like a wave receding at low tide from ravaged shores. He wants to believe in Aizen. He must believe in Aizen. He takes a deep breath, feeling that presence in his mind falling back into a much more passive stance, and the corners of his lips twitch, as if in a smile.
"So, is this Karakura town fake?"
The question is conversational at best, light and uncaring as he turns his head to peer over his shoulder at the Soul Reapers who mill about outside of the shop that once meant so much to him, lingering somewhat on Rukia, blankly taking her in.
There is a pause, a stretch of silence, before Ichigo feels the heat of the other male as he draws up to him, putting them nearly chest to chest, and strong arms wrap around him in a tight embrace, bringing his face to rest against the side of his neck, caressing his hair in an almost tender way.
"That's right, Ichigo. This Karakura town, and those in it, are fake. Replicas. Down to the very Soul Reapers you long to see. It is meant to be an illusion that they have casted to make you leave the very one who has attempted to save what's left of your soul."
Ichigo closes his eyes, taking in a deep breath, inhaling the scent that is so completely Aizen. "Will you let their monstrous trickery fool you, Ichigo? Or shall we return to our Palace, to our sanctuary, and grow stronger, grow better?"
Each word grows softer, like a lullaby, and at the end of his small speech, Ichigo's arms have crept up and looped around Aizen's waist, his face hidden completely by Aizen's embrace, and he mumbles out the only thing that he can manage.
"Take us home."
And he misses the wickedly triumphant smirk that Aizen sends the dumbfounded Soul Reapers as he cuts out their frantic cries from his hearing, ignoring what he is so sure, so certain, is fake.
Short, I know, but I hope you enjoy. Sorry for the incredibly late update.