A/N - My first Bleach story. I have an idea for a longer piece in the works, but I want to get comfortable with the setting and characters first. Reviews are therefore greatly appreciated.
Gin Ichimaru was not a man given to introspection and self doubt, but he had to admit, there had been times where he had wondered if he was doing the right thing. They had come more frequently than ever in the last few months, as Aizen finally revealed his treachery and the entirety of Soul Society turned against them. The sight of Rangiku Matsumoto standing against him, hairline fractures spreading across the width of her blade as Shinso reached hungrily for her heart… that was a picture that had haunted his nightmares for weeks afterwards. More than once, he had been tempted to abandon his entire plan – to simply lunge at his old Captain during a briefing session or retreat and throw himself on the mercy of his old comrades. But in the end, he'd held fast, and now he was glad that he did. This moment, this single perfect instant… it made everything else worthwhile.
Kyõka suigetsu was cold under his fingers, and Gin fancied he could feel the spirit of the zanpakuto recoiling from his touch. Shinso, in contrast, felt warm and comfortable in his grasp, as though it were merely an extension of his body. And that sound… in that moment, Gin Ichimaru decided that he had never before heard a sound quite as beautiful as that of Sosuke Aizen choking on his own blood. He wanted to cheer, to scream his triumph to the world, but the work was not yet complete. He had waited centuries for this day to come to pass, and he was not about to ruin it now by premature celebration.
"The only way to escape Kyõka suigetsu's ability" he said softly, "Is to be already touching the blade before the perfect hypnosis takes effect. How many decades did it take for me to finally hear that one fact?" He stared into Aizen's eyes, watching them carefully for any sign of acknowledgement. When they widened slightly, the pure white iris expanding in shock, he knew that his words had sunk in. He wanted Aizen to appreciate that this was not some spur-of-the-moment betrayal, a fit of violent whimsy brought about by the death of his beloved Rangiku. He wanted someone, anyone, to know just how much effort had gone into preparing for this one, single act. It was practically a work of art, and an artist always craves the appreciation of his audience.
He retracted Shinso with a thought, and watched with undisguised glee as Aizen staggered backwards, all his previous grace and dignity forgotten as the cold steel slid free from his heart. A gloved hand came up to cradle the bleeding wound in his chest, pristine white cloth stained a deep blood red. Despite the wound, Aizen's voice remained calm, confident in his superiority.
"I am sorry, Gin. But if you think that this is enough to kill me…"
"Oh, I don't." Gin intoned, the faint stirrings of a smile starting to spread across his features. It was a cruel smile, full of predatory glee, and no one could deny that it suited his face perfectly. With two swift steps he crossed the distance that Aizen had put between them, free hand coming up to rest gently on the bared flesh just above the bleeding wound. His voice was as soft and menacing as a snake, whispering in its victim's ear. "Kill, Kamishini no Yari."
"Damn you, Gin…" It was the last thing that Aizen ever said. With a hissing of a thousand snakes, the tiny fragment of Shinso buried in his heart released its poison, dissolving the flesh all around it. The effects were shockingly rapid, almost seeming to vaporise the entirety of Aizen's chest in an eyeblink, leaving only the softly glowing ball of the Hogyoku floating in the sudden void. Gin moved fast, his left hand sweeping around to snatch the artefact from the air, while with his right he brought Shinso slashing in again.
The first blow sliced into Aizen's right arm, severing muscle and bone and causing Kyõka suigetsu to drop from nerveless fingers. Twitching, Aizen swung his left arm up towards Gin's face, but the captain simply bowed low and stepped past his victim, leaving the swipe – whether deliberate or merely reflexive, he did not know – to pass through empty air. Gin spun smoothly on one heel and delivered the second hit, hamstringing the ex-Taicho with a sound like slicing ham, the Hogyoku clutched close to his chest. Aizen fell to his knees, gurgling something that might have been words. Not taking the risk that it might be the prelude to an incantation, Gin reversed Shinso in his hand and slammed it across into Aizen's throat, watching the blood arc elegantly through the crisp morning air.
After that, he lost track of the strikes. Again and again, his zanpakuto bit into flesh, depositing its venom into Aizen's body and burning away whole chunks of his mutated flesh at a time. Gin's smile twisted into a snarl as he stabbed, over and over, ignoring the blood that splattered over his skin and stained his white uniform a deep crimson. Centuries of hatred and carefully concealed malice were unleashed in a few frenzied minutes of carnage, but throughout it all, Gin never said a word. He worked in complete silence, save for the wet sounds of his sword biting into flesh.
By the time he noticed the tall, orange-haired figure standing in the road ahead of him, there wasn't a great deal left of Sosuke Aizen. Gin froze in mid-strike, suddenly incredibly aware of the way the vast pools of blood caught the light, and slowly lowered Shinso back to his side. Ichigo didn't move a muscle – he just stood there, observing the scene with his warm brown eyes. Gin's eyes narrowed back into their customary slits as his gaze flickered over the unnaturally calm ryoka, noting the myriad tiny changes in his appearance. Most striking of all, he realised, was the way the boy held himself. There was a sense of supreme confidence there, a calm self assurance that the captain had only previously encountered in the most powerful of the Espada.
"You finished?" Ichigo's voice seemed entirely too normal for the situation. There wasn't the slightest indication in his tone that he was watching anything out of the ordinary. He might have been asking after a piece of stationary, rather than watching a sentient being getting butchered in a near-manic frenzy. Gin revised his previous statement – the kid was very creepy.
"Ya, I think so." He replied with false nonchalance, stepping calmly over the red ruin that had once been a person. His sandals slapped wetly on the tarmac, but Gin didn't let it bother him. He was too busy studying the new arrival. He was fairly sure that he wasn't concentrating too well at the moment, but he could almost swear…
"Then we should go. "
"I guess so." Gin paused and took one last look back at the street behind him. His lips curled up into a smile as he studied his handiwork. Something Kisuke Urahara had once said came to mind as he looked over the quivering ruin that he had left of the man who sought godhood – When you strike, kill.
Satisfied with his day's work, Gin Ichimaru sheathed his zanpakuto and followed Ichigo Kurosaki into what he was sure would be an interesting future.