In which conspirators misjudge their would be 'sacrifice,' and instead unleash a veritable force upon them all. Aizen/Ichi. AU.

An idea that relentlessly invades my dreams and therefore cannot be ignored.

The Dark Side That Is Me

Who's deceiving Who?

Rukia glared.

Renji glared.

The orange haired seventeen year old Ichigo, draped over the length of a tattered up dark blue chair looted from god knows where, grinned like a Cheshire cat having been offered a tasty little treat.

Renji flicked his eyes towards Rukia, his scowl deep and his voice a barely contained gruff whisper.

"We're wasting our time here, Rukia. We can just deal with this on our own."

Renji had a valid point, from his perspective, she knew. But she couldn't back away now that she was standing before him. The man was well known for his recklessness and thorough disregard for self-preservation, which is why she was convinced that they needed him.

There was no other option.

"Stop, Renji." Even though the male was higher ranking than her, he listened, making a 'Che' sound as he turned and moved away from them. He stopped after a few irritated steps, eyes narrowed and arms crossed over his chest, clad in a black buttoned up top, the color of his pants and shoes matching.

She looked side long at him, tracing his single long braid of fiery red hair. To match his temper, she though silently to herself before turning back to Him.

"Pleasant fellow, isn't he?" The words were low, smooth as he mocked her partner. She really wanted to throttle him just for that but she resisted with a deep breath.

"So? Will you help?"

That grin turned a bit mocking as well, his orange yellow hair sliding to fall over his caramel brown eyes as he sat up, stretching like a lion waking from a nap.

"Help implies doing something for nothing."

He stood slowly, unfurling in a way that made her feel as if she were his prey. She parted her lips to speak, but was interrupted by Renji's fury.

"See Rukia! He's a good for nothing outsider. Trash. Let's just go."

Rukia watched warily as the man before her allows his grin to fade into a small, barely there tilt of his lips, chin tilted a bit up and to the side as he shot a sidelong look to Renji, eyebrows somewhat raised.

Before she was able to speak up his lips parted to let out a sound she could only describe as a purred laugh, his eyes finding her once more.

"Do you find him as feisty in bed?"

The question was delivered in a nonchalant way, more curious than malicious.

Rukia sputtered and blushed.

Renji cursed and unsheathed his sword angrily.

Ichigo bent over to retrieve a black cloak trimmed in red and pulled it over his cotton pullover red shirt, his greyish black pants brushed off with a careless hand before he adjusted the loose waistline.

"I suppose we should get going. It would be a shame to be late to your own party."

He looked at them both with laughing eyes and Rukia was the first to break, turning on her heel to stamp past Renji, who waited for Ichigo to pass before pulling up the rear.

"Try not to drool as you stare back there, Lieutenant."

Ichigo's lazy voice drawled out and Renji fumed, gritting his teeth as he sheathed his sword and clenched his fist.

Ichigo slid a pair of blue tinted glasses from his pocket, slipping them on his face as they exited the small shack, taking in a deep breath of fresh air with another animalistic smile.

No one asked how he knew that Renji was a Lieutenant.

Ichigo Kurosaki was, afterall, Ichigo Kurosaki.

They watched him with barely veiled horror as he ate, wolfing down everything within reach as if he hadn't eaten in days which was more than likely the truth.

"He's disgusting." Rukia allowed her gaze to slide to the one who had spoken. Ishida was his name, and he pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, sneering as his black hair fell to frame his face. For once, Rukia does not try to defend the orange haired male, does not even want to.

The insult seemed to fall on deaf ears, or perhaps said male could not hear over the chomping of his own teeth, crunching happily away at anything and everything, regardless of what might taste good and what might not. A particularly juicy bite into the leg of a pheasant made Rukia cringe and close her eyes, missing the way that Renji placed his fingers against the bridge of his nose and pushed.

He was like a barely trained animal that they had drug in from the wild. Or, perhaps even worse. She questioned her decision at that moment, wondering if perhaps they would have been better off not inviting this oaf into their territory.

But they had needed an answer, needed a solution, needed someone to step in from the outside so that when it happened it didn't so much look like an act of treason, an act of betrayal, rather than the temperamental rise in a simple commoner tired of the way things were being ran.

They had needed a lamb, to sacrifice and appease the general populace, whose blood would flow and sate the appetite for revenge.

Who better, who more suited, than the Rogue who plagued the minds of those in power? Who better than the one who caused mischief, no matter how menial? Who better than to serve up Kurosaki Ichigo, whom most believed a savior, and yet secretly feared from the shadows?

It couldn't be a better plan that Yamamota had come up with, despite his own dalliances in the less than tasteful markets, those that included the very man that they were about to place on a platter and serve up to the hungry wolves that had been so very loyal to their current King.

But that was a minor detail, something that most who were involved with the planning of the Coup could simply brush away, ignore like the annoying buzz of a rather persistent fly. It would do no good to think about such things, not when they were so convinced that their current King was evil, that he needed cleansing, needed purging. The world would be better without him and his blood soaked throne.

It wasn't his to begin with. It belonged to the real Royals, the ones who had been pushed away, been nearly castrated during the war sixteen years ago that most people had chosen to forget but still lingered in the minds of the ones who had fought, who had bled, who had lost.

And all because of the underhanded techniques, ones that had taken their footing from beneath them. Betrayals that ran so very deep that blood had turned against blood, undergoing the worst treachery that the Kingdom had ever endured, splitting the entire land in half when it came to where loyalties lie.

A rather abrasive burp gurgled through the room and the sound of a chair sliding against the stone floor brought each person out of their silent thoughts, attention rooted fully on the barbarian who they couldn't help but need as he pressed his feet against the legs of the large wooden table, tipping himself backwards, balancing on only two legs of the thing that he sat upon.

He rubbed his stomach in a contented way and again Rukia heard a disgusted noise come from Ishida though nothing more from the male, and she noted that Renji still held his eyes tightly shut, as if in pain, whereas the other occupant of the table stayed stone silent, eyes leveled on the wall across from the table as if he could ignore the rude, ill-mannered heathen that graced their presence.

Hitsugaya was good at that sort of thing, despite his age, and his relatively overall powerless appearance. Though Rukia, having watched the younger male for far longer than any other at the table had no misconceptions, could see the younger genius' mind turning and clinking like the gears in an ancient clock that had seen too much and traveled too far.

"So then, down to business." The teens voice mocked out happily, caramel brown eyes all sly twinkles and lips cured almost demurely. So many different facades displayed all at once, designed to catch them off guard, to throw them off kilter. And Rukia could tell that it somewhat worked, at least with Renji who snapped his eyes open in disbelief, and Ishida who sat back only to cross his arms over his chest.

"I know what you want me to do. Relatively easy enough, despite the person." He trailed off, eyes rolling to the ceiling as if it held the most interesting view, his facial expressions hidden from them with the simple move. The silence stretched out in the room, broken only by a deep chuckle as the orange haired teen dropped his gaze back down, leveling Rukia with an indescribable stare that she would rather have directed somewhere else, even before his words flowed out so easily from poisoned lips that she couldn't help but watch.

"But, again. There is the small little issue of payment. It is, after all, a very hefty task to place upon someone without some sort of compensation." Yamamota had been expecting this sort of thing to crop up eventually and Rukia is really surprised that it has taken even this long for Ichigo Kurosaki to actually press into them about it, though she chose to ignore the slight begrudging respect she felt for him and his self-restraint.

She exhaled, deeply, reaching somewhere beneath the table that he could not see, pulling a heavy drawstring leather pouch for him to see, tossing it idly into the air a few inches before catching it again. She watched as his hungry caramel eyes followed the movement, and she wanted to lash out at him for his greed, berate him for his willingness to work just for treasures so meaningless, but she refrained, if only because their mission meant more than the enlightenment of one bastard's soul.

He caught the pouch easily as she tossed it at his head, more amused that put out by the obvious aim, and tests the weight of the bag before he slowly pulled the string loose, peering inside. She knew that he would not complain because for all of Yamamoto's stiffness, he was not cheap, the red rubies and untarnished lumps of diamonds within were testament to his belief that the man before them could be bought.

With his eyes shining he pulled the string tight again, tucking it somewhere on his person, gleaming gaze meeting Rukia's from across the table and she knew immediately that the old man had been correct in his assessment of the younger man, had been knowledgeable at how receptive the male would be after a handful of jewels.

"That is only half, you get the rest when you have completed your task." She said it monotone, lips thinned into a dispassionate line. Task. It all made it sound so domestic, so calm. As if they weren't really asking the young man before them to do the unthinkable. But even then, Rukia had to hide her smug tone, because for the orange haired male before them, he would never see the other half because he would be bent over an executioners block as Yamamota stood to the side, the vision of grief over his cousin's untimely death, bearing the heavy weight of the newly placed crown upon his head.

All in due time.

The teen nodded, complacent with his pocket newly filled with gems that were stolen from the very man he was planning on confronting, uninterested in such small things as loyalties and the such. He had learned a long, long time ago to push such frivolous connections from his mind and heart. It only caused hardships in the end, accentuated only by the seeming abandonment of his once former instructor when he had disappeared without a word, leaving a very confused and angry fourteen year old in his wake.

He fingered the edge of the table absently, unconcerned with the other four occupants of the room, as if their presence was nothing to be worried about. In reality, they were not, a little more than the horse crap that he scraped off of his boot before he entered his own dwelling. But they need not know such a thing. Besides, he wasn't completely raised without manners, and found the act of insulting them with such a comparison rather childish in nature.

Though the sudden vanishing act that Urahara.. Kisuke, he begrudgingly added in the back of his mind.. had concocted was slightly devastating at the time, Ichigo himself couldn't really bring himself to be too sour about it, because all in all it had taught him a valuable lesson of life that he would never forget.

He couldn't trust anyone.

No matter how close they seemed, no matter how friendly they tried to be with him. He couldn't give in, and never would. Another innocent childhood delusion that he had never been able to experience. Some would call that a shame, he referred to it as a blessing.

His life had never been rosy, so why would he wish for anything less than the absolute and undeniable truth? Even now, in his current situation, he could sense it. He could feel the truth being withheld by the four sitting at the table with him, but he couldn't bring himself to care. It's not as if he called them out on their easy lies, or the way that they kept the rest of after to themselves.

Ichigo Kurosaki might have been many things, and he even portrayed himself as the village idiot at times, but he was very far from that in truth. His mind worked like that of an old, retired general, constantly ticking off as many conspiracy theories that he could muster, while simultaneously choosing to ignore said conclusions.

He did not have a death wish, but he did not fear it either.

"And so? When do I execute this little job?"

His words were smooth, carefree, jovial to the point that he found all pairs of eyes staring at him in an almost incredulous manner, as if they couldn't understand his glee, his thirst for a real challenge that they had dumped into his unsuspecting lap.

At first it seemed as if no one would answer him and then the quiet one, the one with too blue eyes and shocking white hair and an all too young face to hold such a haunting expression answers, slowly, as if calculating his words and the impact they may have.

"The King's Banquet is in two nights…" There is a pause and the too young male looked to Rukia then back to him with a tilt of his head, "We expect it to be done after."

And he understood, because he had to, that they wanted it to be after a happy gathering, after a celebration, so that the people would rebel and flare and be begging for retribution for their King's death, for his murderer to be skinned and beheaded and staked before the gates of the town as a warning to all.

But Ichigo Kurosaki did not mind.

Such things, such challenges, were simply in his blood, little did he know.

Another one that creeped up on me and refused to let go until I wrote it down and posted it here. Sorry for the delay in my other stories, mostly the ones concerning Naruto and Sasuke, but my fascination with Ichi/Aizen pairings has just become too great! Hope you enjoy!