A/N: Well. I've had this idea in my head for a while now. I read a small "spoiler" from the third Bleach fanbook, Unmasked, and ever since then I've been wanting to write this.
"Aizen was stronger than anybody else, and because of this, he was lonely and misunderstood by everyone. The loneliness that came with this strong isolation was very deep, and very sad."
Nothing's been confirmed, but when I read this I wondered what would have happened if someone tried to understand Aizen. And thus, this story was born.
I did not translate that, just so you know. I credit the original person who did it (I cannot find the original post, I only found copies. If you would like to see it, just PM me and I shall give you the link.)
Pairings: The main pairing will be AizenxOC, but there will be MANY more. The more prominent ones will be: UlquiorraxOrihime, GinxRangiku, NnoitraxNeliel, StarrkxHarribel and IchigoxRukia, but there will be many more.
Warnings: A little OOC'ness, bad words and future mature situations. This takes place in an Alternate Universe in an unnamed country. Feel free to fill in any blanks with whatever you wish.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. This is based off Tite Kubo's manga Bleach, and all his characters are owned by him. I merely own my OC's and this AU plot.
The train was always going to be crowded at this time of the morning, Ueshima Noa could already tell. There were people packed side by side like sardines, business people and commoners alike. However, she'd already made up her mind that she wouldn't be deterred by crowds, since this was cheaper than driving everyday, especially when you factored in things like gas money and tolls.
The one thing she did mind about having to take the train everyday was how much standing she was going to have to do. She got on at one of the latest stops and by that time all the seats were taken. There might be times when chivalrous young men would offer their seats to her, but she would always end up giving it to some old lady. She was weak like that, something her friends often pointed out to her.
'It's not my fault, though...' she thought to herself. 'It's just how I was raised. Besides, it's good manners, right?'
So she decided to stick it out and ride the train, six days a week for half an hour in pinching heels on the way to and from Seireitei Inc., her new place of employment. It was the biggest company in the country with several branches into various fields of work, so uncomfortable trains rides were worth it, no matter how crowded they were.
Gripping the pole she was leaning against, Noa sighed nervously. Here she was, freshly graduated and about to join the business world. Getting hired at Seireitei Inc. was no small feat, and she was proud of herself for accomplishing it. People from all different walks of life dreamed of having the comfortable, powerful life of a head at Seireitei Inc., and Noa was no different. However, she wasn't really after one of the top positions. It took years to get there, and only the best were chosen from hundreds of other hopefuls. No, all she wanted was a secure profession earned through hard work and talent.
'Now stopping at Dangai Station. Please watch your step as you depart, and have a nice day.'The crackled sound of the announcement snapped Noa out of her inner thoughts. This was her stop, the first of many to come. Or so she hoped.
Stepping off the train, she composed herself into what she hoped was a business-woman like stature and began to walk. She had practiced walking in heels for days, and she wasn't going to embarrass herself by tripping on her first day.
Slipping in between old men chatting to each other over newspapers and stock reports she made her way towards the stairs that lead to the main buildings of the company. Noa could see them peeking over the tops of cherry blossom and maple trees; huge, modern buildings that shone in the early morning sun like beacons. This was her new life, and her eyes drunk in the sights. The cobblestone path she walked on was free of any sort of debris, the hedges and trees were shapely and beautifully well-managed. And all around her stood important men in women in expensive suits and pencil skirts, talking and discussing the going-ons of the world.
She was so lost in admiration that she didn't hear the voice calling her name until it was right behind her. "Noa! Noa!"
Turning suddenly, she bumped into the chest of the young man calling her name. "Oh, Tesla! It's you!"
Tesla Lindocruz, her friend and senpai at their university smiled at her with calm honey eyes. "It's so great to see you. You work here now?" Tesla asked when he noticed her smart attire and the thin briefcase she held.
"Yes. I was accepted into the editorial and publishing department in the Gotei division," Noa said excitedly. "It's my first day."
Tesla grinned. "That's great! I was actually just on my way over to the Gotei building. I can show you around if you'd like." He straightened his tie, and Noa admired how comfortable and assured he looked. Back at the university, he had often spoken of his dream to one day work at Seireitei Inc., something they both had in common. This shared dream led to them becoming friends despite the three year age difference. They had lost contact after Tesla had graduated, and Noa was glad he had accomplished his dream.
"That'd be great," Noa said, smiling softly. She walked along side her friend, glad she had found someone to show her around. "So, where do you work Tesla?"
"In the Las Noches division, under Gilga Nnoitra. He's head of the military recruitment and training over there, and I'm directly under him," Tesla replied. "It's a hard job, but I don't mind. I look up to Jiruga, and I wouldn't trade my position for any other."
'I've heard of him,' Noa thought to herself. 'He's supposed to be pretty extreme in his methods...' However, if Tesla liked him then maybe she'd have to change her perception of him. Sighing, she raised her face to the sky. It was still morning, and the sun was slowly making its way to it's peak. Spring or not, it was going to be a warm day.
"Why so quiet, Noa? Although I guess I can't really say anything...you've always been that way," Tesla turned, his gentle eyes meeting her placid blue ones. "I always liked that about you. You make yourself heard through actions, not by words."
Laughing quietly, Noa scratched the side of her nose in embarrassment. "You flatter me, Tesla. I could say the same about you. You were always the good student, and now you work in military training and recruitment. I always thought you'd end up research or something.
Tesla shook his head. "No, I've no patience for things like that. I prefer immediate results, and in my field that's exactly what we aim for. There's no room for trial and error there."
"Here we are," Tesla announced, leading her up the marble stairs into the Gotei division. The doors were huge, wooden with large windows set within them. They stood open in the spring air, allowing people to walk through freely. Situated on either side were men and women in uniforms and badges decorated with the kanji for two. At their sides were weapons of the highest caliber, and their faces were stern and watchful. Noa's gaze lingered on them before Tesla tugged on her arm, leading her into the great foyer of the Gotei division.
It was huge, decorated with a taste for traditional Asian décor. The wooden floor gleamed like it was brand new, and bamboo and Chinese maples grew in large pots situated around the great room. Statues and wall scrolls decorated the walls, along with benches and tables places in strategic locations much like stones are placed within a zen garden.
Looking up, Noa could see straight up to the glass top of the building fourteen stories up, the blue sky a distant splash of color. The building was slightly oval in shape, and each floor wrapped around. There were stairs to her left and right, leading up to the second floor.
"Come on," Tesla called, walking over to one of the huge elevators. "The editorial department is on the ninth floor." Pushing the call button, they waited for the elevator to arrive.
"Where are you going?" Noa asked as the elevator arrived with a quiet 'ding'. They stepped inside, and Tesla pushed the buttons for the ninth and eleventh floors.
"Up to the eleventh floor. I have something to pick up." Noa nodded, and began to straighten her hair and outfit. She had chosen a nice neutral gray and blue skirt and a simple silk blouse for her first day, and had curled her mid-back length brown hair into gentle ringlets. She had wanted to appear professional, but not old. She was only twenty-one, after all.
The floors sped by out the glass of the elevator. Noa brushed her hands against her skirt nervously, and bit her lower lip. It was habit she was trying to get rid of-she always made her lips chap and bleed.
The elevator began to slow. "Here you are," Tesla smiled again, brushing his dirty-blonde hair out of his eyes. "We work in different buildings so we probably won't see much of each other. Other than outside of work, that is," he said, rubbing the back of his head. "Speaking of that, would you like to go get something to eat after work? Get caught up and all that?"
Noa smiled. "Yeah, sure. Sounds like fun." Inside, she was very excited. She had missed her friend.
Tesla grinned. "That's great. I'll wait for you outside at around six. See you then," he waved to her as the elevator doors opened to the ninth floor. Noa waved, stepped out, and immediately was pushed to the side by people rushing past with arms full of paper and office supplies.
"Where is that manuscript? Goddammit, if Iemura forgot to turn it in again, I'm going to march down to the fourth floor and kick his ass," a booming voice sounded from behind a stack of paper on a filing cabinet.
"It's right here, Hisagi, keep your pants on," a woman's voice answered in an annoyed voice. "Go make yourself useful instead of breathing down the necks of people who are actually working."
Noa swallowed nervously and tightened her grip on her briefcase. All around her people were typing on computers, printing, faxing, scanning and throwing papers everywhere. It was pure chaos.
'What have I gotten myself into?' Noa asked herself as she narrowly dodged being mowed down by a short man with a smoking printer in his arms. 'Come back, Tesla! I think you dropped me off on the wrong floor!'
She turned a corner and was met with the sight of a man with spiky black hair running from desk to desk, grabbing papers and marking them with a red pen. The whir of electronics and the shuffling of papers drowned out every other sound.
"Uh, excuse me..." Noa called out, but no one noticed. The man kept running, the other employees kept typing, and Noa was getting more and more frustrated. This wasn't what she was expecting.
"Hey...hey...HEY!" She yelled, and immediately regretted it. Everyone stopped to look at her, and she suddenly felt very small. It wasn't like her to yell like that, but she was getting nowhere otherwise.
"Uh...can anyone tell me where I can find the head of the editorial and publishing department?" She asked quickly. Everyone stared at her, until the man with the spiky hair and red pen stepped forward.
"Yeah, what do you want? We're kind of busy, in case you haven't noticed," he said in an exasperated voice.
Clearing her throat, Noa held out her hand. "I'm Ueshima Noa. I work here now, and was told to come to you." Noa tried not to stare at him; he wasn't what she expected him to be. For starters, he had the number 'sixty-nine' tattooed on his face, along with three thin scars over one eye. He was attractive in a wild way, but not exactly what the words 'editorial and publishing director' brought to mind.
Once her name was mentioned, his eyes widened. "You're the new girl? That's great! We need another pair of hands around here...especially when the people who already work here DON'T DO THEIR JOBS RIGHT!" He turned and shouted at the people behind him in desks who jumped and began to work again. Noa cocked an eyebrow and waited for him to continue.
"I'm Shuhei Hisagi," the man said, shaking her hand, "Head of the Editorial and Publishing Department at Seireitei Inc." He began to walk away, motioning for Noa to follow. He lead her through a maze of desks, explaining things to her the entire way.
"You've come at a hectic time. It's Hell Week- all our manuscripts and drafts for our spring clients are due. We've got to get them proof-read, printed, signed and stamped by the big guys before they can be sent out. We publish everything, from children's books to safety manuals for microwaves," Shuhei explained. Noa nodded; nearly every printed thing in the country had the 'Seireitei Publishers' stamp on it.
Shuhei stepped over a upturned paper-shredder and opened the door to a spacious office in the back. It had a large window that made up the entire back wall, and several computers and various other machines lined the walls. A large desk was in front of the window, and a large pile of papers sat there as well.
"We'll start you out helping me in here," Shuhei said, pointing to the desk. "Those are drafts at the final stage; I need you to proof-read them. If you find any mistakes, put them in this basket," he pulled a shallow metal paper basket out from under the desk, "And send them back for correction. Use a red pen- it stands out." And with that, he shook her hand again and left, shutting the door behind him.
Noa stared at the closed door, and sighed for what felt like the billionth time that day. "Well," she said to herself, looking back at the papers on the desk, "At least I won't be bored." Pulling up a chair, she grabbed a red pen from the plentiful supply on the desk, and pulled the nearest draft towards her. "Here goes nothing."
Several hours and several hundred pages later, Noa yawned and cracked her knuckles. It was over, finally. After going through drafts on what was mostly brochures on healthy dental hygiene and the proper way to remove aphids from ones tomato plants, with a generous helping of sending things back for correction, it was over. Gazing up at the clock on the wall, she noticed the time. It was two-o'clock, her lunchtime.
Standing, she stretched and straightened her clothes. As the day had wore on, the noise from the rooms behind her had lowered considerably until it was merely the occasional quiet murmuring and the electronic buzz of machines. It was all quite lovely, actually. "I could get used to this," she told herself hopefully.
Leaving her briefcase where it was, she left the office, tucking the red pen she had used into a skirt pocket. It was going to be her new best friend, she could already tell.
Heading to the elevator, she was greeted by several friendly smiles and welcomes. 'Everyone seems to be in a much happier mood,' she noticed. Pushing the button to call the elevator, she waited in silence, wriggling her toes in her heels every so often to lessen the numbing.
"You did a great job back there," a voice said from behind her. Turning her head, she smiled softly at Shuhei as he came to stand beside her. "I was impressed.
"It was nothing," she said humbly. "Editing isn't so hard, you just have to have a quick eye so you don't miss anything." Back at the university, and even in high school Noa was asked by her friends and sometimes even teachers to help edit and proof-read papers. She had a knack for that sort of thing.
"Still," Shuhei said, stepping forward as the elevator opened. "I don't think I've seen such thorough work before, especially for someone who just started. We'll have to get you on one of the upcoming projects. Maybe you can get some of the lazy-asses back there to work harder."
Noa grinned. "Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it." Shuhei smiled at her as he pushed the button for the ground floor. "Lunchtime, right?" He asked. When Noa nodded, he continued. "Why don't you come sit with me? I'll introduce you to some of the other guys you'll see around."
Although she was a little daunted at the idea of sitting with someone who was at a much higher rank than she was, she nodded. 'It's kind of him to offer. I'm glad I'm working under him.'
It wasn't long before the elevator stopped. "The cafeteria is this way," Shuhei said, leading her to the other end of the building opposite of the large entrance way. "The food they serve is pretty good...nothing gourmet, but good nonetheless."
"It's so big," Noa said in awe as he led her into the large eating area. People were everywhere, standing in lines and sitting at tables, laughing and talking and eating.
"A lot of people work here," Shuhei explained. "What'd you expect?"
Noa shrugged. "I suppose you're right." Getting in line behind him, she watched as he piled a large amount of food onto his tray. Rice, vegetables, teriyaki and pre-packaged sushi all found a place on his tray. Deciding she wasn't that hungry, Noa settled for a carton of yoghurt and a small fruit salad. Her stomach was still churning slightly from the newness of it all.
"That's all?" Shuhei asked incredulously as she followed him to a table. She nodded, slightly embarrassed. Should she have gotten more?
"Whatever. Girls are so weird...with all their diets and 'eating right' bullshit." Shaking his head, he sat at a table across from a man wearing a strange pair of eyeglasses and a very busty woman with beautiful strawberry blonde hair. Next to Shuhei a man with blonde hair that fell into his eyes looked up at Noa. "Who is this, Shuhei?"
"My name is Ueshima Noa. It's a pleasure to meet you," Noa said hastily as she sat next to Shuhei.
"This is my new proof-reading genius," Shuhei said with a mouthful of rice. "She just started today. I said I'd introduce her to you guys. This," he said, gesturing to the blonde man next to him, "Is Izuru Kira, head of the Third Division at Seireitei Inc. The idiot with the glasses is Tetsuzaemon Iba, vice-head of the Seventh Division, and the woman next to him is-"
"I'm Rangiku Matsumoto," the woman interrupted, smiling at Noa. "Vice-head of the Tenth Division. We specialize in crime investigation and the like." She had huge brown eyes, and Noa couldn't help but notice how Shuhei watched her. 'Ah...so he likes her...'
"I'm in people services," Iba said gruffly. "Not exactly my piece of cake, but hey. The position was open and I'm not gonna complain about a top spot."
"Who are you kidding, Iba? Everyone knows you worked your ass off to get accepted there because you didn't want to disappoint your mom," Izuru muttered, taking a sip from the can of tea in front of him. Putting it down, he smiled at Noa. "I'm in marketing, mostly. My division also helps out all the other ones at times. We're versatile."
Nodding, Noa pushed a couple of grapes around her salad. "I see." 'So many top spots...I feel rather unaccomplished at the moment...'
"You're so quiet!" Matsumoto gushed, placing her elbows on the table and her head in her hands. "Tells us about yourself! Where do you come from?"
Clearing her throat, Noa put down her fork. "Well, I-Oof!" She was suddenly interrupted by a man she recognized from the ninth division editorial department pushing in between her to wave papers in front of Shuhei's face. "Hisagi! We finished the draft report and got the signatures from the president! All it needs now is Las Noche's approval and we're good to go!"
"Aw, crap," Shuhei muttered, taking the paper from him and looking it over. "I don't want to walk over there now...I just started lunch." Grumbling, he began to pack up his food.
"Sir..." Noa said quietly. "If you like, I could take it over there for you." Shuhei looked at her in surprise.
"Are you sure? It's your first day..." He looked a little worried, but Noa decided to insist. 'I want to prove that I'm a capable worker.' "Please sir," she continued. "It's no trouble."
"Bah. Let her go, Hisagi," Iba said, leaning forward. "She volunteered."
"Are you sure, Noa?" Izuru leaned forward to peer at her. "It's a...long walk and all..."
"I can do it," Noa insisted. "I need to learn my way around anyways."
Shuhei sighed, and handed the papers to her. "Alright, then. Just get the signature of approval and come back. I'll probably be back up on the ninth floor, so just head there." Noa nodded, and stood.
"Don't worry," Iba said, looking like he was trying not to laugh. "It'll be good experience...if she comes back, that is."
'Yeah, it'll be good ex-Wait, what?' Noa looked at Shuhei. "Who am I taking it to, exactly?" She had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, and the others were looking at her like she had just volunteered to wade into shark infested waters while covered in blood.
"The head of the Las Noches division...Sosuke Aizen."
"Sir, your tea is ready."
Strong brown eyes looked up from the desk as the young raven-haired woman set a steaming tea tray on the dark carved surface. The young woman bowed lowly and departed, closing the door with a click behind her.
The owner of the eyes sighed, and reached for the expensive cup of tea. Inhaling the fragrant steam, he sipped it quietly with closed eyes. Jasmine pearls with just a small hint of chamomile. Delicious.
'I'm going to die...my first day of work, and I'm going to die.'
Noa walked slowly back down the cobblestone path she had been so eager to venture down earlier. Now the walk was considerably less enjoyable, and she had to keep herself from frowning.
'Sosuke Aizen...one of the most powerful men in the country...no, in the world...and I have to get his signature...' Heaving the biggest sigh of the day, Noa clutched the papers in her hand. Everyone in the world knew who Sosuke Aizen was, and with that name came the power and knowledge of the man behind it. Most of what she heard was probably just wild rumor, but one could only wonder if they were true.
Apparently, if Aizen didn't like you then you weren't going to last very long. There were rumors that he had 'taken care of' several opponents in the past, along with various underlings who weren't up to par in his opinion. It was different for people like Shuhei, people who had been in their positions for years and most likely met the man before. But for people like her, people who had just started and barely knew anyone in her own division, it was like walking to her own funeral. Even if he decided he didn't want to have her 'taken care of', he could, at the very least, ruin her chances of going anywhere in her career. Noa wasn't sure what she was more afraid of.
The Las Noches division's building loomed ahead of her, almost exact in its appearance to the Gotei division's building save for the landscaping around it. It was much more modern in appearance, and white seemed to be the motif here. Hedges that bloomed with white flowers, birch trees with white bark, and fountains made of white and gray marble stood in perfectly trimmed green grass.
Taking a deep breath, Noa started up the stairs, noticing the considerable lack of people here compared to the Gotei building. Right now, she could only see guards stationed outside the huge marble doors, each of them as passive and intimidating as the next. Going up to the top step, she lowered her head and slipped in between the huge stone doors.
If she thought the outside's motif was white, Noa had no idea what was in store for her on the inside. It looked like everything here was white; the floors, the walls, the desks, everything. Huge bright lights shone from an unknown source, while above her, much like the Gotei building, the sky beckoned to her, the only splash of color around.
Looking around her, Noa could only see a few people here and there. She walked forward, flinching at how loud her heels sounded within the stark, quiet atmosphere. Going up to the desk, she waited for one of the secretaries to notice her.
"Excuse me," Noa said quietly. "I need to speak with Sosuke Aizen. I have something he needs to sign." Crossing her fingers behind the papers, Noa hoped the secretary would say something like 'He isn't here today', or 'I'll do that for you', or 'Please, give me those and run as fast as you can out the door and never come back-'
"Take the elevator to the top floor. It's the first door you'll see, you can't miss it," the secretary said without even looking up at Noa, unbeknownst to the fact that she had just crushed Noa's every hope and dream with that one sentence.
"T-thanks..." Noa replied quietly, gathering up what courage she had left to make her way to the ,yes, you guessed it, white elevators. Pushing the button so it glowed faintly, she closed her eyes and offered a small prayer to the gods. 'Ding.'
Stepping into the elevator, she let out a shaky breath when her stomach told her they were moving up at a quick pace. 'Pull yourself together, Noa! You won't stand a chance if you go in there acting like this, even if he is the kind of man people make him out to be. Just be calm and professional, and when it's all over run like you've never run before.'
Nodding to herself, she clutched the papers to her chest and situated her curls around her face. "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this..."
"I can do this!" Noa whispered to herself ferociously. Stepping out of the elevator, she gazed up at the impressive marble and wood doors that stood directly in front of her. She walked forward, raised a shaking arm to the door, and knocked as loud as she could possibly manage in this state.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a review. Kind words are appreciated as well.