The Spirit Wish – Chap. 2

A/N: Thanks for the reviews, faves, and alerts! People seem to be interested in this story, so here I give you chapters 2 and 3 together. Please let me know if it's still interesting to you.

Warning: limey yaoi scene at end. Don't read if you don't like.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. All main characters are 18 years of age or older, even if they appear younger.

(Originally posted 7/30/2011.)

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Ichigo opened his eyes to the corrugated tin ceiling of the shack he called home. Pre-dawn light was filtering in through the cracks in the shed. All was quiet; Renji lay on his back, his red hair mussed from sleep, his mouth slightly open, emitting a faint snore every now and then. Rukia was wrapped up tightly in her blanket, her back pressed against Renji. It had been a cold night, and the three of them frequently slept huddled together to conserve body heat. He smiled at the sight of his friends looking unusually soft and vulnerable, and felt a wave of affection and protectiveness for them engulf him. He grinned to himself. If they were awake, they would both be making sarcastic remarks about the uncharacteristically tender expression on his face. It was just another reason he liked getting up early before they woke up.

He threw off his blanket and slipped out of the shed. Outside, he walked briskly to the docks in the pre-dawn stillness. He loved this time of day, before most people were up; the few drunks and troublemakers from last night were usually too exhausted or sick by now to bother him.

As he rounded a corner, a low whimper from one of the alleys caught his ear. Then a deeper voice responded, and the whimper was cut off. That was odd. Ichigo moved closer, stealthily. He would intervene if he could; although sometimes it was more prudent to stay out of such conflicts.

He moved to the mouth of the alley and peered around the wall. He saw two figures in the dimness, one a small boy, crouching before the other, who stood tall and menacing over him.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" whimpered the smaller boy. "I promise I won't do it again! Please, please don't…"

The taller boy said something that Ichigo couldn't catch, but it was enough to make the other one hunch his shoulders and start crying softly. "I… yes…" he choked out between sobs. "I'll do whatever you say…. Only please… don't…"

Ichigo had heard enough. He stepped out openly into the mouth of the alley. "Hey. What's going on here?"

The two figures spun to face him, the smaller one's pale eyes going wide with terror at the sight of Ichigo. He had tangled, dirty black hair, raggedly cut, and an unhealthy-looking face. The taller one, to Ichigo's surprise, was the handsome, brown-haired boy who had saved him a few days ago. Ichigo had asked around and learned the boy's name was Aizen Sousuke, and that no one knew much about him.

Ichigo's protective bluster wilted. He owed the youth for saving his life earlier, and he always paid his debts. Aizen had a mild expression on his face at odds with the appearance of threat Ichigo thought he had seen earlier. In a more peaceful tone than he had intended to use, he asked the brown-haired youth, "Is there something wrong?"

Aizen shook his hair back from his face and smiled gently. "No, nothing," he replied calmly. "Luppi here was showing me how he begged for coins from the nobles." He smiled with affection at the younger boy. "He's quite an accomplished actor, and his technique is very successful."

Ichigo looked in puzzlement at the boy, who raised his chin defiantly. "That's right," he said, his voice sounding firmer now but still whiny. "I'm very good at what I do."

Ichigo shrugged. "Sorry. I guess I thought something else was going on." He looked at the taller youth and said, "I didn't mean to interfere."

"It's all right," Aizen said. "Luppi was just heading off anyway." He glanced at the boy, who jumped to his feet, nodded once, and darted away. Aizen's eyes tracked the boy until he vanished around the wall at the end of the alley. Then he turned back toward Ichigo. "I wanted to talk with you anyway," he said, fixing Ichigo with a penetrating stare. "Kurosaki, right?"

Ichigo nodded, unsurprised that the youth knew his name. There were always ways to find out information in Inuzuri if you knew whom to ask. Although Aizen was a newcomer in their part of town, he looked savvy. Ichigo had already heard that he was establishing himself as a presence in their neighborhood and gathering others around him. Ichigo eyed him cautiously, wondering what he might want from him. In his experience, any attention from another could lead to a bad end.

"I was walking to the docks," continued Aizen. "Come with me?" He cocked his head and smiled slightly.

Ichigo shrugged. "Why not?" He fell into step beside the taller youth.

They walked through the narrow, stinking alleys in silence until they reached the docks. The sky over the ocean, flawless and unmarked by clouds, was turning rosy like the inside of an eggshell, and Aizen paused to gaze off into the distance, taking a deep breath.

Ichigo watched him. There was not much room to appreciate beauty in the Inuzuri streets, but as the lightening sky cast its glow over Aizen's porcelain skin and finely etched features, Ichigo felt a stirring of pleasure in his heart at the pure esthetic appeal of the youth's face in the pre-dawn light. Aizen gazed out at the still water as if unaware of his scrutiny.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Aizen's deep voice was quiet as his eyes traveled over the horizon. Again Ichigo wondered about his having the confidence to mention something like that, something that could get you called "soft" or worse in Inuzuri, where it was all about appearing even tougher than you already were, all the time.

But something about Aizen drew out the truth in him. "Yes," he returned, looking out at the water stretching out into the immeasurable distance. "I love coming here in the morning just before the sun rises, before all the people come shouting and fighting."

Aizen looked at him sidelong from under thick brown lashes. "I knew you'd understand," he said softly. Then he straightened and faced Ichigo fully. "But I wanted to talk to you because I have an idea. You get hungry, right?" Ichigo stiffened slightly. He didn't like to admit his vulnerability out loud. "I know a warehouse," Aizen continued, "where we can obtain a large amount of rice." One side of his mouth curled upwards, and Ichigo found himself following the other's lips with his eyes as he felt an odd stirring deep in his core. "I need a couple of strong, fast runners to help me out with my plan... to liberate some of that rice."

Ichigo's eyes narrowed. "I might know some people like that… but it would have to be worth our while."

Aizen smirked. "Oh, it will be."

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So began a series of heists with Aizen leading the three of them. The youth was extremely clever, and although his plans often seemed needlessly complicated to Ichigo, he had to admit they were unfailingly successful. Renji and Rukia became firm supporters of the brown-haired youth, eagerly following him on whatever scheme he devised. Ichigo was still a little suspicious, especially after the scene in the alley, but even he found himself looking for excuses to go out searching for Aizen whenever he wasn't around. Something about the older youth fascinated him, drew him like a magnet, despite the hint of darkness surrounding Aizen, and Ichigo's intuition that he wasn't exactly what he seemed.

But for the first time since the three of them could remember, they were no longer constantly starving. Their faces stopped looking gaunt as their flesh filled out slightly. Renji began shooting up, getting taller every day. Rukia lost her haunted look, and became even more feisty as her energy levels climbed.

Soon the four of them were squabbling over the campfire almost every night like old friends. In the code of Inuzuri street rats, Aizen had earned their trust; they had stolen together, had watched each other's backs, had saved each other and insulted each other. Within the space of a very few short weeks, it seemed like the four of them had always been together.

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"Hey." A match flared briefly and Ichigo blinked his eyes open and was surprised to see Aizen leaning over his straw pallet. The older boy was fully dressed all in black and his long knife hung at his waist. His dark eyes were dancing with excitement, and he looked far too awake than anyone should be at this time of the night.

"Huh?" asked Ichigo sleepily. It was pitch black outside and it felt like it was the middle of the night. "Go away. I want to go back to sleep." He rolled over and closed his eyes again, wrapping himself more tightly in his threadbare blanket.

Aizen kicked his side sharply with a bare foot. "Get up, Ichigo. I just learned something very interesting."

Ichigo groaned. "Can't it wait till morning, Sousuke?" But he could tell from Aizen's tone of voice that he wasn't going to leave him alone.

Grumbling, he sat up, blinking. Aizen had lit one of their small torches and pinched off the match. The smell of sulfur spread in the small lean-to. Beside him, Renji and Rukia were motionless lumps under their blankets. Aizen had lifted the flap in the burlap cloth covering the entrance to the lean-to, and the night air smelled fresh and cool.

He squatted beside Ichigo's pallet. "I heard from a reliable source that Overseer Omaeda and his family and servants have left town for a few days."

"So?" asked Ichigo grouchily. "That could easily have waited till morning."

Aizen's eyes flared. "No. It means their house is vacant and unguarded tonight." He paused to see if Ichigo would understand the significance of his words.

"You surely don't think we should—"

"Break in and steal some of Omaeda-san's ill-gotten gains?" Aizen's eyes were dancing with wickedness and anticipation. "It's our best opportunity. The house is empty, after all."

Ichigo sat up straight, all sleep dashed from his brain in a rush of adrenaline. He frowned. It sounded like another one of Aizen's overly ambitious, risky, and downright dangerous plans. Maybe even worse this time. Ichigo felt that it was his job to keep his friend in line at times. "How do you know they haven't left a guard?" he asked.

"My source says the guard has gone home to his mother tonight."

Ichigo frowned again. "Who's this source of yours? Can you trust them?"

"Implicitly," said Aizen with that arrogant self-confidence that irritated Ichigo no end. "She works as a servant in their household, and hates them. You can imagine how they treat their servants."

"Why would she tell you the truth?"

In the dim light, Ichigo saw Aizen's lips curl upwards. "She… admires me."

Ichigo shook his head. For some reason, all the girls in the district seemed to have developed crushes on Aizen. What's more, he encouraged it shamelessly, flirting with them and playing them off against each other, never letting any one of them become a clear favorite. Ichigo was just a bit jealous. No girls looked at him that way. Aizen's features were striking, his body was well muscled rather than gaunt, and he always dressed just a notch better than everyone else. But it was really the way he carried himself, that aura of supreme confidence, that charisma that Ichigo had to admit was incredibly appealing. It was why Aizen had become the leader of their little group in such short order. He was always so certain his plans would succeed… and so far, they always had.

Ichigo got up and began to throw on his darkest clothes. If Aizen was going to burglarize that asshole's house, he'd be damned if he'd be left behind.

"Better take your black cap," Aizen murmured, "to cover up all that lovely bright hair of yours."

Ichigo scowled at him. Aizen's compliments on his appearance never failed to fluster him, and he was certain the older boy continued them for that very purpose. Still, he put the cap on his head and tucked his orange hair in underneath it. Aizen was right; his hair made him the most identifiable thief in Inuzuri. It was definitely an occupational hazard.

They walked quietly on the shadowed sides of the narrow streets, now almost completely silent in the night chill. A glance at the clear sky with only a thin sliver of moon told Ichigo that it was probably two or three in the morning. Plenty of time before dawn. As they passed the mouth of a stinking alley, they heard intermittent, loud snoring as a drunk slept off his binge of the night before. Off in the distance, Ichigo heard raucous laughter, cut off abruptly by a scream.

Just a typical Inuzuri night.

They passed into the streets where the compounds of the nobles and rulers of Inuzuri were located. Here the rich lived behind high walls studded with broken glass. Ichigo had never been behind one of those walls. Turning into an alley, Aizen paused at one of the back gates. Glancing back and forth down the length of the alley, he drew some slender metal tools out of a pocket and began working on the locked gate.

Ichigo watched in fascination. He knew Aizen was good with locks and gates, but he had never seen him in action before. He watched as the youth's slender fingers used the tools to stroke and caress the lock, almost like playing a musical instrument. There was a brief flare of light, indicating a reiatsu lock was present as well. Aizen held his hand over the light and it extinguished immediately as he deactivated the magical portion of the lock at the same time as he picked the physical lock. Ichigo shook his head. He was poor at sensing spiritual energy, but Aizen, though he had never been trained, could detect and manipulate the energies better than anyone else Ichigo knew.

If it hadn't been for the unjust rules that kept magical knowledge locked up, the exclusive property of the noble clans, Aizen would clearly have been a strong candidate for the Shinigami Academy. Hell, they all would have been candidates. Perhaps then they would have been doing something other than becoming criminals and thieves. Ichigo scowled even as he continued to keep a careful watch up and down the alley.

The gate clicked open and Aizen smiled triumphantly at Ichigo. Heart pounding, he followed Aizen into the Overseer's compound.

As the door clicked shut behind them, Ichigo swallowed. It was dark, quiet, and filled with the sweet fragrance of flowers behind the walls of the Overseer's garden. They were committed now. If they were caught, they would be sentenced to death for sure. His heart was pounding and he was sweating as he followed Aizen along the garden path to the back door of the main house. Aizen, on the other hand, appeared cool and fearless. He made a small kidou light and used it to light his way along the path.

At the back door, he pulled out his burglar's tools once again and made short work of the lock there as well. As it swung open, the two boys slipped into the house of the Overseer of Inuzuri.

The interior was dim, illuminated only by Aizen's hand light, but Ichigo could already see that Omaeda lived with luxuries he and his friends had only dreamed of. Heavy, polished floorboards of some dark wood lined the large rooms. Ichigo felt his toes sink into soft, silken rugs scattered over the floors. He trailed his fingers over a tapestry, feeling the alternating pattern of silk and wool, and sighed. Any of these items could keep their entire group in clothing, food and water for years. Of course, not that he could ever sell anything like this. He would be immediately imprisoned for selling stolen goods.

Aizen glanced at Ichigo and in silent agreement they moved toward an open door that led to the pantry. Here was their primary goal. Ichigo stopped for a moment and stared. Rows and rows of shelves completely covered with all sorts of wonderful food. He almost felt faint, looking at it all. He quickly laid out his large bag and began sweeping some of the prime items into it.

Aizen had opened a large icebox, kept cool by kidou, and was pulling out some of the meat and cheese and other items and putting them into his own bag. He glanced at Ichigo, his eyes intense.

"Can you believe how much they have here, and he threatens to beat us because we steal one loaf of bread?" His voice was low but Ichigo could hear the barely disguised fury.

Ichigo shrugged. "Yeah, that's the way they all are. But think of it this way, we're getting some of it for ourselves now." He didn't stop rapidly shoveling food into his bag.

Aizen, however, had paused and was staring around the elegantly appointed kitchen. "How can you sit there and just take it?" he hissed. "The only way the world is going to change is if someone does something about it." He gestured at the kitchen, then at the entire house, an expression of disgust twisting his features. "Are you just going to accept the way things are? That's the attitude of a loser!"

Ichigo stopped and glared at Aizen. "Don't you dare call me a loser, you bastard!" Struggling to keep his voice down, he stalked over to Aizen and grabbed the taller boy by his lapels and leaned into him, his face only inches away from the older boy's. "You don't have the right to say that!" Even though it was stupid and reckless, he was ready to fight if he had to.

But the other youth merely relaxed in Ichigo's grip. "Now, I like to see that expression. It looks like someone who has been asleep for years is coming back to life." His eyes flashed.

Ichigo suddenly felt awkward, holding the other boy so that their faces were so close together. He stared into Aizen's eyes, and found he couldn't look away. He was suddenly aware of the warmth of Aizen's skin against his knuckles where he held his lapels. Aizen's tongue appeared at the corner of his mouth, and slowly, he licked his upper lip. Ichigo found to his shock that his eyes traced the path of Aizen's tongue around his mouth and he felt strange. What was going on?

Aizen reached forward and cupped his hand around the back of Ichigo's neck, stroking the bare skin. "Mmm," murmured Aizen. "Your skin is as soft as I've always imagined it." His fingers were warm and set Ichigo's skin tingling.

Still smiling faintly, he drew Ichigo's head to his until their lips met. He kissed Ichigo softly, his lips brushing the younger boy's at first, and then taking hold of his mouth more insistently as Ichigo stood stunned for a moment, overcome by the incredible sensation of his first kiss.

Aizen drew back for a moment to examine his face. Ichigo's eyes were wide, his expression frozen in shock, but his lips were slightly parted. Aizen smiled again at that and threaded his other hand underneath the cap. With a single motion he pulled off the cap and plunged his fingers into Ichigo's spiky orange hair, caressing and stroking. "Ah," he sighed, "do you know how long I've wanted to do this?"

"What— what are you doing?" stammered Ichigo, feeling a flush suddenly rise up his neck and onto his face. How could his friend, another guy, kiss him? It was— it just wasn't done. It was wrong. Certainly it went against all the teachings the fat old priest in the temple was constantly shouting out, about how marriage was only between a man and a woman, that anything otherwise was against God. "This is forbidden…" he said, trailing off.

The other boy gave a low laugh. "Forbidden? Have you forgotten where we are?" Ichigo felt himself blushing.

"Besides," Aizen whispered, "that just makes it more fun." He was smirking at him now. "Doesn't this feel good, Ichigo?" he murmured, running his fingers through Ichigo's hair, stroking his neck and the skin of his cheeks again, and dipping his head slightly to trail kisses over Ichigo's throat. His lips felt gentle, like rose petals against Ichigo's skin, like something he half-remembered from long, long ago.

Ichigo thought, vaguely, that he should push Aizen away, he should tell him to stop it… but somehow his body was not listening. Instead, he leaned in to the taller boy and closed his eyes.

Aizen pulled Ichigo into his chest. To his shock, Ichigo realized that he was already aroused, and he could feel that Aizen was as well. The older boy kissed him again, this time licking at Ichigo's lower lip and teasing him with his tongue until Ichigo parted his lips. Aizen made a pleased noise deep in his throat and plunged his tongue into Ichigo's mouth, tasting and exploring him, insistent now, taking and demanding. Ichigo felt his knees go weak even as his emotions rose up in a swirl of mingled shame and exhilaration. He couldn't believe he was doing this, with another guy, when he hadn't even thought of kissing any girls before— oh my god, was he gay?—and in the middle of burglarizing the Overseer's house, to boot. He suddenly came to himself and pushed away from Aizen, his breath coming harsh and fast as he stared at the older youth.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he hissed. "We need to finish this job and get out of here."

But Aizen merely looked at him with eyes hazed with lust. "We have plenty of time," he drawled. "No one will be coming here before morning."

"You're crazy."

Aizen laughed suddenly. "Crazy about you, Ichigo," he whispered. He brought his lips to Ichigo's ear, his warm breath tickling the shell of his ear. "Why don't we take something for ourselves? It's not often we get this kind of privacy. Besides," he murmured, his voice deep and seductive, "this environment just makes it more of a thrill, doesn't it?"

Ichigo pulled away and stared at him, mouth open. Aizen laughed again and spun away. He began opening cabinets, looking for something. "Ah!" he said in triumph after a moment. Ichigo saw he held two elegant crystal wine glasses and a dusty bottle of some deep red vintage. "Let's celebrate, Ichigo."

"Celebrate what?" Ichigo hissed. "We haven't done anything yet."

Aizen's eyes danced with wickedness. "We're going to change that right now." He put the glasses and wine bottle down on the counter and began searching the drawers again. Shortly he held up a corkscrew and grinned at Ichigo, who just shook his head. Gathering up all the implements, he swept out of the room. "Come!" he called imperiously to Ichigo.

Shaking his head again, Ichigo followed in his wake, asking himself, why am I doing this? Aizen always gets me to do things I don't want to do. Why do I follow along with whatever he wants? But he could not stop himself from enjoying that little forbidden thrill that Aizen often elicited in him. Ever since he had met the other youth, he had found him exciting. He always kept him on edge, just on the verge of fighting, always kept him off-balance. There was no comfort around Aizen… but somehow, it felt just right.

Aizen had entered a room at the end of a long hallway. Ichigo's feet caressed the smooth surface of the silken runner beneath him as he slowly followed. He paused at the set of double doors into the large, sumptuously appointed room.

It was a bedroom. There was a wide, canopied bed in the very center, draped in yellow silk and finely wrought embroidered throws. Aizen had placed the glasses on a polished round table under the window. Heavy curtains blocked out the night and protected them from prying eyes. He poured the wine and brought one glass to Ichigo, his eyes glinting.

Ichigo took the glass, still unsure of what Aizen wanted. Aizen raised his glass in a toast. "To our future," he said.

"If we have one," replied Ichigo with a scowl.

Aizen smirked, then drank down the wine, his eyes half closed, savoring the flavor. "Ahhh," he sighed. "That is likely the best vintage I've ever tasted."

Ichigo took a sip, and raised his eyebrows in surprise. "You're right." Without thinking, he tipped the glass back and drained it. It was only after he set it down on the table that he realized it might not have been the smartest thing to do, right in the middle of a burglary where if they got caught, they would be killed. He would need to have all his wits about him.

But Aizen had approached him again and slipped his arms around him. They kissed again, and Ichigo didn't want it to stop. He could taste the wine in Aizen's mouth, aromatic and heady, as the older boy delved his tongue into Ichigo's mouth again. Almost unconsciously, Ichigo ground his hips forward into Aizen's, hardly believing what he was doing. He sighed when Aizen pulled back a little. The other youth shot him an utterly wicked smile, his eyes glittering.

Was he really going to go along with what he thought was going to happen? The wine had fogged his mind, muted his resistance. Somehow it all seemed rather thrilling to place himself in Aizen's hands, though there was clearly something very wrong about this entire situation. As a street kid in Inuzuri, Ichigo thought he was free of most societal expectations. Not having enough to eat or clean water to drink got you over scruples against stealing in a hurry. But he still had a fairly strong moral code. He never stole from other street rats, only from those who had enough; he never initiated fights; he only defended himself or his friends. He had never killed, nor sold his body.

Now, he realized, he had no idea about Aizen's ethics. How well did he really know the older boy? Not well at all. Since Aizen had come into his life… was it only a few weeks ago?... he had said little about his past. Indeed, he often disappeared for days at a time, only to return with some new booty or another daring scheme. But he had learned enough to know that Aizen scorned all moral codes and professed himself to be unhindered by such things. It had disturbed him to some degree, but in his fascination with the older boy he had ignored his concerns.

How far would Aizen go? Could it be that he merely wanted Ichigo's body? He had been offered quite a bit of money to become someone's plaything for a night, although he had always refused. There had even been those who had tried to take without paying.

They had gone home bruised and bloody from Ichigo's fists.

Was Aizen one of those who amused himself with a good-looking youngster for a night, used him for his pleasure, and discarded him afterwards? He looked up at the taller youth, whose eyes were now dark with lust, and hesitated.

Aizen slipped a hand under Ichigo's robes, making the younger boy gasp as he felt Aizen's long, clever fingers on his sensitive skin, stroking his nipples, sliding down the sides of his torso, reaching lower down until Ichigo moaned and fell against the taller boy. With a low chuckle, Aizen suddenly scooped him up and dumped him on the bed, then threw himself on top of him.

"No," panted Ichigo. "Not on their bed…"

But Aizen had taken his mouth in his again, that sinful look dancing in his eyes again. He rubbed their bodies together until Ichigo groaned. At this point, he realized, he no longer cared if Aizen only wanted to use him. He only wanted to give into the sinful pleasure of feeling Aizen's fingers, skin, and tongue against his bare skin… wait.

What had happened to his robes? He was dressed only in his underclothes now, and Aizen's fingers were slipping underneath his waistband; then suddenly, they wrapped around his member like warm silk, and Ichigo felt himself become almost painfully hard. He gave a long, loud moan, not caring if anyone heard him anymore. Aizen laughed deep in his throat and tore the rest of Ichigo's clothes off, then divested himself of his own.

Then they were rolling back and forth across the silken bed sheets, tangling in the smooth and scented fabrics. Aizen began kissing and licking and sucking every square inch of the pale, delicate skin, marking him, claiming the younger boy as his own with one possessive kiss after another.

And Ichigo moved with him, returning the kisses, moaning in helpless pleasure beneath Aizen's touch, completely forgetting where and when he was.

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A/N: Please let me know if you want me to continue.