Aizen Sousuke's intentions should have changed that day. He knew that now, after the War had been lost, after he'd been imprisoned by Soul Society's best – and meager – measures.
And after he'd escaped back to Hueco Mundo to regroup.
Thinking about it now, nearly two years after the War, he knew he should have thrown away his plan of decades, the so carefully conceived plan to take down Soul Society and impose himself as god of the Underworld, and any other world he chose.
He hadn't, of course, and he'd lost. Failed.
He stood at the rebuilt portion of Las Noches. It wasn't so much fortress now as palatial complex. For the Arrancar army he'd kept it a military institution. Now, well, now he wanted something a bit different.
He looked to his remaining Espada. Grimmjow had survived mostly intact, Ulquiorra not so much, but he'd been passably repaired. They looked back at him, Ulquiorra out of a remnant of respect, Grimmjow out of necessity.
Aizen's gaze went back out across the crystal sands of Hueco Mundo, letting his mind wander to where it usually did since his devolution from what the Hyogoku had made him. Back to being a shinigami, to what he'd been before Shinji had made him realize there was no room for him in Soul Society.
"Yer too damn smart, don't ya think?" his former captain had told him. "Smart is good, but there's no room in the Gotei Thirteen for independent thinking. Not for yer style, Vice Captain."
Aizen smiled. He'd proved Shinji wrong, proved everyone wrong, fooled them all. It had started as a pastime, a distraction from that loneliness eating a hole through his soul, an ever increasing void that could only be filled by one person.
He leaned his hands on the rail running around the wide wall, taking in the semi dusk that filtered through the region, watching a few stray Arrancar in the distance roam, aimless. Delusions and illusions had made him forget, for a time, that she was no longer at his side, her soul somewhere adrift in the living world until being reborn. She'd forget him, move on in her new life, begin anew as if there had never been them.
She was supposed to remember; she'd promised to always remember him, through death, through rebirth, through their time in Soul Society, and then past death again. She hadn't. She'd slipped through Soul Society and drifted back to be reborn in the living world.
And she forgot him.
Aizen straightened and sighed slowly. He'd searched all of Tokyo, instead finding his sister, Masaki, and his nephew, but no princess.
He supposed it was ironic, that she, his lost love, would befriend the very focus of his plans, plans made after he'd given up on finding her. Forgetting her hadn't happened, and by the time he had found her again, he'd become something she couldn't accept.
But that could change, he told himself. He'd make her remember, make her understand.
And make her his again.
He glanced to Ulquiorra, debating testing those fragile strands of communication the Fourth Espada had with Orihime Inoue. His gaze shifted to Grimmjow. Not a better choice, he decided. He looked back to Ulquiorra.
"Bring Orihime Inoue back here," he said.
Ulquiorra's face registered surprise, even for him. "You want her brought back?"
Aizen nodded. "To stay."
Grimmjow looked shocked, and then chuckled.
Aizen spared him a look. "You get a crew to clean up a room for her near my quarters."
Grimmjow couldn't let the order pass. "You're serious?"
Aizen turned back to look out over the darkness growing over the desert. "She's coming back to stay."