(This one is a requested storyline by alabirdie, who loves Aizen and Tetsuya together and dreamed up this story that pits a half-breed noble's purity against the more selfish nature of the hougyoku. If you loved these two together in The Hollow King and The Brotherhood, you will love them even more as their lives crash together when a planned abduction goes oddly awry. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!)
Chapter 1: Mistaken Identity
"Arigato, Torio," Byakuya said, pulling away hastily, before the youth was completely finished taming his hair, "Time is short. I must leave now or I will be late."
"And since when does our clan leader ever arrive anywhere late?" asked Tetsuya, smiling at him from where he stood in the garden doorway, "Not to worry, Cousin. We can take Arashi and be there in no time."
"Ah, arigato, Tetsuya. Soutaichou is adamant that we protect the dimension wall as the war gets underway, so I need to be on time to the strategy meeting."
"And I will make sure that you are protected while you rush about the Seireitei at all hours of the night," Byakuya's blue-eyed cousin said, good-naturedly, "There have been pre-emptive skirmishes all over the area. You need to be cautious."
"Nonsense," said Byakuya dismissively, "Not one of their Espadas is strong enough to take me in battle and you know it. With the exception of Aizen Sousuke, himself, none among them is strong enough to…"
"Yes, well," Tetsuya said, interrupting him gently, "Hadn't we best be off? You are going to be late."
Byakuya gave his cousin a soft glare, then flash stepped after him to the barn, where a tall black stallion stood loose in an open stall. He nickered softly and sniffed at Tetsuya and Byakuya briefly, then waited almost sleepily as he was saddled, and the two climbed onto his back. Tetsuya's heels touched his sides and the warhorse turned out of the barn and onto the dirt path outside. He broke into a trot and moved swiftly to, and out of the front gates of Kuchiki Manor and in the direction of the first divsion.
"Have you sensed anything regarding Renji-san and Rukia-chan?" Tetsuya asked softly as they rode.
"No," said Byakuya, "only that, for the moment, they are still alive."
"Well, that is something," said Tetsuya, "I was surprised when you let them go like that. It was…"
"It was the right thing to do," Byakuya finished.
"You must worried sick about them."
"I am worried for all of us, Tetsuya," Byakuya said, glancing around them as the dark clouds above them thickened and a soft rumble sounded around them, "Even had they stayed, they would have fallen into harm's way, even as we all will. There will be no safe place."
"It is monstrous what he's planning," Tetsuya said softly, "How does a man even consider doing such a thing as destroying over a million living souls? I can't imagine…"
"No," said the clan leader, studying his younger cousin's handsome, half-turned face, "A heart like yours couldn't conceive of such a thing, Tetsuya. But Aizen Sousuke appears to have parted ways long ago with whatever acted in the manner of a heart for him. He will show no mercy…and he will offer no quarter. He will stop at nothing to reach the spirit king."
Tetsuya sighed and nodded quietly, falling into thought as the warhorse carried them the rest of the way to the first division. They stopped outside the gates and the two men slid down.
"Arigato, Cousin," Byakuya said, inclining his head, "You have delivered me, as promised, and on time. And now you should return to the manor and get some rest. You may not be going to Karakura Town or into Hueco Mundo, but things will get dangerous here and I will need you to keep order in the family until I return from the battles."
"I'm not going to leave you to walk home in the middle of the night," Tetsuya said firmly, "I'll be here when the meeting is over."
"Don't be ridiculous, Tetsuya," said Byakuya, "I am more dangerous than anything lurking in the Seireitei tonight. Go home."
"Hmph," Tetsuya muttered, "I don't know why you even have a personal bodyguard if you are not going to avail yourself of him on occasion! You went to all of the trouble to work your way past all of the council's grumbling over the fact you wanted a half-breed for a position of such trust. The least you can do is to allow me to make an attempt at doing my job."
"Oh…very well then. Stay if you wish. But at least go down the street and wait inside at the division. Rikichi is likely about and can keep you company until I come back."
"Ah, I haven't talked to Rikichi-san in a while. It will be good to visit with him. Very well, then, I will wait at your division."
"As you wish," Byakuya said, turning away.
Tetsuya watched him disappear into the first division, then turned back to his waiting mount.
"Go on home," he told the warhorse, "I'll be along later."
Arashi tossed his head and snorted.
"Go on," the blue-eyed shinigami said, swatting him lightly on the rump, "I'm going to visit a friend. I don't need you hanging around and making a nuisance of yourself."
The warhorse gave him a stern look through one dark blue eye. Tetsuya gave an impatient sigh and shook his head, reaching up to loosen and remove his zanpakutou from its place alongside the saddle. He slipped the weapon into his belt and looked back at the warhorse.
"Happy now? I have her. Not that I couldn't call her to hand if I needed her, you know. Besides," he said softly, glancing down at the sheathed blade, "It's not as though the two of us will ever be going to battle. Remember…she is only to be raised in the defense of the Kuchiki family…our members…our honor…or our pride. We are not allowed a use, other than that."
Arashi stepped closer, brushing his soft muzzle against his master's cheek and nickering gently.
"Arigato," Tetsuya said, curling a hand around the beast's face and finding a smile again, "Now go on. I'll be along when Byakuya-sama returns."
The warhorse tossed his head and neighed, then reared and broke into a gallop, disappearing quickly into the darkness. Tetsuya stood quietly, watching as the clouds parted for a moment, revealing the full moon they had hidden. He sighed softly, letting the light touch his delicate features. So intent was he that he didn't see when a dark form detached itself from an alcove and approached him from behind. One moment, he stood, gazing up dreamily at the white moon, and the next moment, something struck him forcefully from behind and he was falling.
"Are you sure that's him?" asked a rough, hoarse voice.
"Yeah," said his companion, "Aizen-sama said that he was tall and had black hair and dark eyes, powerful reiatsu…and that he would smell like sakura."
"It's dark. I didn't see his eyes that well. And don't the Kuchikis all kind of look similar."
"Yeah, but only one of them was called to this meeting tonight. It's him. Let's go."
"W-wait," said the other, tugging on the first Arrancar's arm, "Are you really sure? Aizen-sama will kill us if we're wrong. And besides, shouldn't Kuchiki Byakuya be a little harder to surprise like that?"
"He said the Kuchiki gets all dreamy and distracted by the moon. And he was staring at the moon when we snuck up on him. It's him. Now, grab his feet and let's go before we're sensed. Not everyone has seen the boss's shikai, you know!"
"All right, fine," the Arrancar said, taking hold of Tetsuya's legs and lifting him, "He's light…"
"Shut the fuck up! It's him, I tell you!"
One of the two hollows removed a sword from his belt and opened a garganta, then the two carried the unconscious noble into it and turned in the direction of Las Noches. They earned more than a few surprised stares as several of their comrades recognized the shinigami and congratulated them on their 'prize.'
"See," said the taller of the two Arrancars, "I told you it was him!"
"I guess you're right," said his companion, looking more cheerful as they approached the throne room.
They were waved past the guards immediately and carried the unconscious noble to a place just short of the throne Aizen occupied, then dropped Tetsuya, rather unceremoniously at Aizen's feet.
Aizen smiled at the sight of the slumped form, moving forward and turning him onto his back, then taking a closer look as Tetsuya stirred and his large, blue eyes opened and blinked in confusion. Beside the leader of the hollows, Gin began to laugh.
"Oh," he said, shaking his head, "Oh…you morons! I don't know who that is, but it is most certainly not Kuchiki Byakuya!"
"But you are a Kuchiki, ne?" said Aizen, "Tell me that you are someone relatively important, so I'll know that all of my planning hasn't gone to waste. Are you one of the elders then?"
"No such luck, I'm afraid," the noble said with unusual poise for one just realizing he'd been abducted by the devil, himself, "I am no one…a half-breed. I am worthless to you…even as a hostage. You may as well kill me."
"He was carrying this," said one of the Arrancars on a trembling voice, terrified at having disappointed their leader.
Aizen accepted the lovely blue-hilted zanpakutou from the Arrancar and drew it, then studied it carefully before sliding it back into the sheath.
"Do you have a name, Kuchiki half-breed?" he asked softly.
"I am Tetsuya…Kuchiki Tetsuya."
"And who are you…Kuchiki Tetsuya…that you are not an elder and yet you carry a blade of such power?"
If I can just touch her…
"Tetsuya?" Aizen said again, looking up at the blue-eyed shinigami's face again.
His hand moved carefully and he shifted slightly, managing to brush his fingers against the fine hilt. He managed the release command and slipped free of his body, taking on an almost invisible waterform. He moved slowly, his blade re-forming in his hand as he slipped out the doors of the throne room and, remaining in the waterform, he began to run. He was grateful that the lights in the fortress were not strong enough to expose him, but he knew that he had to escape before the form he had left in the throne room broke apart…
Back in the throne room, Aizen slipped a hand under his captive's fine chin, lifting it to look into the blue eyes again. As he did, Tetsuya's body dissolved into water, as did the zanpakutou Aizen had been studying. Gin grinned.
"Oh my! Isn't this fun? The pretty fool actually thinks he can escape!"
"Sound the alarms," said Aizen, "I believe our young friend has just indicated that he is more useful than he appears to be. Perhaps, once he is back in our hands, you can use some of your methods to loosen his tongue and get him to talk to us."
"It would be my pleasure," Gin said, grinning more widely and heading for the door.
Tetsuya felt the waterform's destruction and caught his breath sharply as his body slowly regained its solidity.
"Touei," he panted, running forward as numerous false images of him rose up and ran in different directions, distracting the guards as Tetsuya flash stepped away.
He searched desperately for a way out of the fortress and breathed a sigh of relief as he found a storeroom and slipped into it, concealing himself behind several stacks of boxes. He reached down inside himself, as Byakuya had trained him to do, and repressed his reiatsu to make it harder for the hollows to track him. He took his blade and tried to open a family senkaimon, but shook his head and sighed as he realized that some force within the fortress prevented it from opening.
What do I do?
How do I get out of here?
I have to warn Byakuya-sama that Aizen was seeking to abduct him. But how do I escape?
He opted in the end to leave another copy of himself in the storeroom and stepped out of his body, cloaked in his waterform again. He waited until the sirens had faded and the area around his hiding place had gone quiet again. He hoped beyond hope that Aizen would think that he had already escaped, and would not be continuing to search for him. He smelled food cooking and thought it might be safer to move into the more common areas of the fortress that might hold more enemies, but such enemies would be at ease and not expecting him. He found the kitchen and moved quietly through it, pausing before slipping out a back door that had been propped open. A few feet away, several hollows worked at unloading stacks of boxes. Tetsuya looked around carefully and waited until they had their backs to him to pass by.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he neared the end of the section lighted by Aizen's false sunlight. He was relatively certain that if he could make it to the darkened area, he could get a family senkaimon to operate, and make his escape. He was only a few yards away as he felt the destruction of the copy of himself he had left in the storeroom, and his body began to solidify again.
"HEY!" he heard an Arrancar yell, "That's him! The one Aizen-sama wants! Get him!"
Stunning ceros blasted out of their hands and Tetsuya instantly loosed his zanpakutou and raised a thick wall of ice in front of him. He turned and flash stepped away, gaining the cover of the darkness as the ice wall behind him shattered and the hollows surged after him. He flash stepped faster to gain distance, then turned and, to the surprise of the ones following, loosed a ban kai.
"Bet you weren't expecting that!" he hissed, watching as a huge barrage of ice blades erupted from his zanpakutou and forced the hollows back.
He turned away as the shocked hollows roared in fury and tried to find him again, and confused them further by loosing another group of copies, running in all directions. He spotted a light far off in the distance, and hoped it was the shinigami base near the Seireitei border. He flash stepped madly, abandoning all attempts at fighting, and focusing solely on escape. But he was discovered again, not far from the lights of the base he had seen and forced to turn and fight.
The hollows knew better than to let him stay armed and sacrificed several of their number in an attempt to get close to him and to try to tear his weapon from his hand. His blade exploded in a heavy blast of water, pushing some of them back, but missing just enough to that the hollows could disarm him. Kido fired from his hands, but Tetsuya was beginning to feel the harsh burn on his spirit centers from too much sustained fighting. And as many hollows as he destroyed, more surged in to attack him. Finally, even his kido failed, and the noble was faced with the horrid decision of whether to run blindly, like a stricken deer…or to turn and die fighting.
He thought briefly of his cousin, and whispered a soft goodbye, took a steadying breath, and looked up at his incoming enemies. His hakudo was at least as good as his cousin's, even as worn down as he was, and with his spirit centers tormenting him. He threw himself on his attackers, taking down one, then another, as the rest of the hollows watched in bemusement.
I'll take as many of these bastards with me as I can. It won't make a dent in their numbers, I wager, but I am grateful to have finally raised my sword and fought for something…
Something hit him hard in the abdomen, stealing his breath and throwing him down into the cold sand. He landed facedown, and was surprised when the sounds of the hollows faded and he felt Aizen's strong presence move towards him. The leader of the hollows knelt next to him and quickly sealed away his spirit energy. Surprisingly gentle hands helped him into a seated position, and the brown eyes that sought his were decidedly curious.
"Kuchiki Tetsuya," Aizen said quietly, "You are quite a tenacious fighter. I would say that you are nearly as powerful as Byakuya himself. Tell me, how is it that a half-breed came to be so powerful? And who are you exactly? How do you fit into the Kuchiki family?"
"I don't," Tetsuya replied, lowering his head, and trying to catch his breath, "I told you. I am no one. If you told them you would kill me if they didn't do your bidding, they would offer to help. My family despises me."
"Hmmm…" said Aizen, studying his smudged and bruised face in the darkness, "But if that is true, then what were doing at the first division when they took you? Are you a new taichou?"
"I am not allowed to serve in the military…nor allowed to raise my sword, except on behalf of the clan."
"And yet, you were at the first division…or outside it, at least."
He thought for a moment.
"You were with him…with Byakuya. Why?"
Tetsuya stared at him in silence.
"Well, Tetsuya, I think I have just discovered your usefulness. You may not be useful as a hostage in the case of the rest of the clan…but…Byakuya values you."
"Bastard!" yelled Tetsuya, jumping to his feet and tackling Aizen.
The blinding shock of striking the traitor's reiatsu exploded through him, sending him spiraling back into the darkness and crashing down into the sand again.
"Quite the spitfire," Gin commented, as Aizen lifted the unconscious shinigami into his arms again and turned back towards the base, "Oh, he's just adorable, Sousuke! What will you do with him?"
"Actually," said Aizen, glancing at the noble's handsome face, "I haven't the slightest idea yet."
"Ah," said Gin, smirking, "Somebody's a bit smitten!"
"Don't be ridiculous, Gin. Come."