Seeds pf Rebellion
Chapter 1: Whispers of One Fallen
"You get what you came here for, Captain Kuchiki?" asked the guard, locking the cell door behind Byakuya as he stepped out into the hallway, "Though I don't know that you could trust a word that bastard says. He's all lies and venom, ne?"
"He is an unpleasant man," Byakuya acknowledged, "but I am satisfied that I was able to finesse what we needed from him."
"Well, that's good."
The guard groaned as a shrill beeping sounded from a device he wore clipped to his belt.
"Damn...another escape attempt," he muttered, "You'll have to excuse me, Captain Kuchiki. I'm needed to subdue a troublesome prisoner. You know your way out though, ne? Just show that pass to the station guards and they'll let you through."
"Arigato, Tsuneo," Byakuya said, nodding.
He watched the guard flash step away, then continued down the passage. He felt a chill inside at being left alone in the cold, dark passageway. Muken, the lowest level of the Central 46 prison, housed the most wicked and violent criminals in all of Soul Society. And being the wise person that he was, Byakuya understood that even binding them and sealing away their powers did not make them less dangerous people. Just being in the place that housed them cast a gloomy darkness over the noble's spirits.
He reached the end of the long corridor and started to turn towards the exit. But as he did so, he heard odd sounds coming from another passageway...low voices, several clanking noises, then sounds of someone in pain. He knew, of course, that not all who came to interrogate the prisoners were men of integrity.
But that kind of behavior violates the tenets of our society. After all, if we forget our humanity, even to force a confession from their lips, what we have is not justice. We have only lowered ourselves.
He moved closer, listening carefully. He counted three distinct voices, in addition to the one that groaned in agony as the others laughed and jeered.
"Not so high and mighty now, ne?" sneered one man.
"Wanted to be king over us all?" said another, "Well, we don't do royalty here!"
"Isn't that what you're doing?" a third quipped, "The would-be king? He's almost royalty, ne?"
"Well, I think he'd agree now that almost isn't good enough."
Byakuya approached a cell door that had been left slightly ajar. He peeked through and saw three guards, gathered around a bound prisoner. One knelt at the prisoner's head, his knees holding the bound man's hands down and his fingers sunk into his hair and tightened. A second straddled his body, holding the prisoner in place and his thighs apart as the third guard knelt between them, gripping the man's hips as he thrust into him with brutal force.
Anger flared hotly inside the Kuchiki clan leader, and he stepped into the cell, raising his reiatsu warningly. He took hold of the man between the prisoner's legs, and propelled him backwards across the cell, where he crashed into the wall and dropped to the floor, howling in pain. The other two men froze, staring at Byakuya.
"How dare you!" the noble hissed, his voice cutting like a knife through the chill air, "How dare you insult the honor and reputation of this institution!"
The guards stared back at him, white-faced. The one he had thrown across the room, recovered himself and edged towards the door.
"Why would you defend him?" the guard asked, "He is an awful, wicked, hateful bastard! He murdered the councilors of Central 46 in cold blood and left them lying in the council chambers as he carried on around them. He betrayed us all and tried to overthrow the king! He's not a man at all. He is a demon!"
"And your way of showing that we are above those uncivilized behaviors is by binding and violating him?" Byakuya asked, barely containing his fury, "You are an insult to lawful society. Get out before I give you what you deserve for such behavior!"
The three man exchanged glances, then fled the room.
Byakuya moved forward to where the prisoner laid, unmoving on the floor. He knelt beside the man and slowly unbound him.
"Do not make any attempt to escape, Sousuke Aizen," Byakuya warned the man, "Even unbound, your powers and the powers of that thing in your chest are still sealed away. You will not escape the prison."
"I am aware of that," Aizen replied, lying perfectly still as Byakuya's slender, graceful fingers worked at the heavy leather straps, "In any case, the hougyoku no longer recognizes me as its master. If it could, it would abandon me."
"And it would be wise to do so before you found a way to betray it, as you betray and turn on everyone foolish enough to trust you."
"I never asked anyone to trust me," said Aizen, watching curiously as Byakuya finished loosing his bindings, "They foolishly chose to do so for their own reasons."
He waited as the last of the bindings fell away, then sat up and began to take stock of his injured body. Byakuya moved forward and nudged his yukata open, planning to heal him. He paused, staring, as it struck him that the amount of damage he saw could not have been caused by the three guards.
"You look surprised," said Aizen in a calm, perfectly controlled voice, "Did you think this was the first time those men had loosed their venom on me, Byakuya? Are you really so naive?"
He noticed that Byakuya's dark gray eyes had fastened on the hougyoku, and he gave the noble a wry smile.
"Go ahead. Touch it if you like. It can't use its powers as long as the seal is in place. You are safe enough."
Byakuya stared for a moment longer, then glanced briefly at Aizen's bruised, but proud face. He said nothing, but leaned forward and began to heal the former captain's battered body.
"How very kind of you, Byakuya. I am grateful. It is comforting to know that honor and lawfulness still exist in some men's hearts."
"I am not doing this for you," the noble said, off-handedly, "Those guards had no right to do as they did. For all that you are a prisoner, and the worst criminal in our society, you are still a person. And as such, you should not have been mistreated while serving out your sentence."
Aizen's smile warmed.
"Ah...if only more people felt as you did, then perhaps I wouldn't be in this predicament."
He sighed in relief as Byakuya's hands moved over his body, slowly undoing the damage the guards had done.
"Perhaps, if there were more people like you, I would not have done as I did."
Byakuya frowned and continued the healing.
"My nature did not stop you from using my sister as part of your plans. If indeed it mattered to you that I have better values than some, you might have chosen differently."
Aizen studied him quietly for a moment.
"I have to confess to having used you despite having a sense of your true nature, Byakuya. You see, whatever your personal inclinations are, you are still the leader of the greatest of the noble clans. It was not so much as strike at you as a strike at what you represent."
"I understand that."
"You are an intelligent man."
Byakuya ignored him and continued with the healing. Aizen quieted and watched him closely as his hands moved lower and began to heal the more intimate areas of his body. A slow smirk rose on Aizen's lips as he spotted the soft blush that had risen on the noble's cheeks as he encountered his former colleague's awakening member.
"My apologies," said Aizen in a seductively tranquil voice, "Having been in this place for some time, I have not been in the presence of one as lovely and sweetly scented as you, Byakuya. And although the guards have used me to pleasure themselves, they have neglected to see that I was equally sated."
"Shut up," muttered the noble, avoiding his eyes and working more quickly to get the healing over with.
Aizen chuckled softly.
"I was teasing you, Byakuya."
"Stop calling me that. You will refer to me as Captain Kuchiki. You are no longer a colleague, certainly not a friend, nor even someone I would acknowledge out of politeness."
"But you are kind not to simply let me be tormented by my keepers."
"I despise those who turn to lawlessness to achieve their goals."
"Truly," said Aizen, "So do I."
Byakuya raised a fine eyebrow questioningly.
"Does that surprise you?" Aizen went on, "I think that if you delved a little bit deeper into my world, Byakuya, you would find that we are more alike than you think."
"That is a frightening thought," commented the noble, leaning forward to address a deep cut, "I have no interest in tainting myself by entering 'your world' and I fail to see how I am anything like you, Sousuke Aizen."
"Of course," said the former captain, shifting to a more comfortable position, "I am not particularly enamored of my world, such as it is, either. But we don't get to pick and choose our circumstances, ne Byakuya?"
"I told you to stop calling me that."
"But your given name sounds lovely spoken aloud," Aizen said, smiling charmingly, "I have always thought so, ever since I first encountered you. You were a handsome and very reckless teen back then...before your losses changed you."
"What are you talking about?" Byakuya asked softly, pulling his hands away from the other man's body, but not yet moving to replace his bindings, "If I have changed, it is only because I realized that I must act in ways befitting of my place within the clan."
"Is that so?" Aizen asked, remaining where he was as the healing ended, "I wonder about that."
"Well, I am afraid I must leave you wondering. I have duties to attend to."
He started to pick up the leather bindings, but froze and stared as Aizen's hand touched his.
"A moment, please. They are supposed to allow me to walk the confines of my cell each day, but you can imagine how well they see to that minor comfort for me."
Byakuya frowned, but stood and helped the prisoner to his feet.
"My legs are weakened from lack of use," Aizen said, leaning against Byakuya as he made his way around the cell, "It will take a few minutes to revive them."
Byakuya was inwardly surprised at the flare of anger he felt at seeing the formerly proud man stagger about the edges of the small cell, leaning on the noble's arm to steady himself. He walked alongside Aizen in silence, aware of the man gazing at him out of the corner of an eye, and ignoring it. Finally, Aizen seemed to regain some mobility and let go of his arm. He walked quietly back to the large chair he had been bound to, and sat down, waiting.
"Aren't you going to replace my bindings?" Aizen asked quietly.
"I am sure that your guards can do that," Byakuya said, looking out the door.
The corridor stood empty.
The noble turned back into the cell, shaking his head.
"It seems they have abandoned their posts," he commented.
Aizen laughed softly.
"Because you scared them out of their wits, coming in here like that. But I am rather glad you did. Their treatment of me was...extremely unpleasant. To have escaped it for any length of time is a blessing. I am in your debt."
Byakuya gave him a cryptic look and moved back to his side. He picked up the leather bindings and began to set them back in place.
"You have gentle hands for someone who I know despises me," Aizen commented as Byakuya wrapped the leather straps around him, "Are you sure that you are not attracted to me, Byakuya? You did blush very sweetly when you were looking at me naked."
"Be quiet," the noble said in an annoyed tone.
"You are blushing again," Aizen went on, "Why?"
Byakuya didn't answer, but only continued the work at the bindings. He strapped the man's arms to the armrests and each leg to a chair leg, then worked his way down Aizen's slender torso, binding his body to the long back of the chair. He was careful as he went, to wrap the bindings tightly enough so that Aizen would not escape, but not so tight as to be constricting. He felt flurries of residual anger inside at seeing the dried blood on the straps that indicated that the guards had not been so precise in their efforts. He finished his task and stood, looking down at Aizen.
"Are you acceptably comfortable?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, thank you, Byakuya."
"Then, I will take my leave of you. I will make certain that the guards who assaulted you do not return."
"Well," said Aizen, "Although I do not imagine it will end my torment, I thank you for the kind gesture. Just understand that this kind of corruption is rampant in our society. That is one of the reasons that I felt the need to take action as I did."
"Do not try to rationalize your egregious behavior, Sousuke," Byakuya said reprovingly, "You will convince no one that murdering the councilors of Central 46 was a necessary act, or that betraying those who trusted you was somehow understandable. Those actions were unforgivable."
"I am sure that you believe that very strongly," said the prisoner, "In any case, I am grateful. I hope that you shall pass this way again, Byakuya. You are far more enjoyable company than the ones I usually encounter here."
Byakuya brushed off the words, and turned to go, but paused, his eyes widening as an ear shattering boom sounded, and he was thrown roughly to the floor. A second heavy shock made the stone walls crack. He regained his feet and sent a shock of kido through Aizen's bindings, freeing him from the leather straps again. Aizen gazed at him in surprise as the noble dragged him along into a corner of the cell. Then a final shock rocked the prison and brought the building down on top of them.
"Give your report," the Captain Commander said, glaring down the two rows of captains to where the Central 46 messenger knelt.
"Sir! About ten minutes ago, unknown assailants detonated numerous devices that had been placed in strategic locations within the headquarters. Whoever it was, knew what he or she was doing. The building collapsed and caught fire. There have been hundreds of deaths and injuries. But the good news is that many of those working within were safely evacuated. The prison levels were cut off from the rest of the building because of the collapse of the rock that the prison was hewn out of. The surviving councilors have ordered the prison completely sealed to prevent any surviving prisoners from escaping."
"They aren't going to even try to rescue the prisoners?" queried Captain Hitsugaya, "I know they are criminals, but..."
"The council does not feel it is right to risk additional innocent lives in an attempt to save those who are not meant to leave the prison anyway. They judge the situation too dangerous."
"But wait!" objected, Captain Ukitake, "What about the guards? And I know, for a fact that Captain Kuchiki was at the prison this morning to interrogate a prisoner. What about him?"
"I am sorry sir," said the messenger, "But no reaitsu was sensed around the prison area following the explosions. The councilors at the site concluded that anyone in the prison must have perished when the rock collapsed on them. They have deemed it even too dangerous to try to recover the bodies. They will maintain the seal to keep us safe from any survivors who try to escape, but they will not allow anyone into the area, given the danger."
"Nice," muttered Captain Kyouraku, shaking his head.
"Head Captain," said Captain Ukitake, "May I go to inform my vice captain of what may have happened to her brother?"
"Go on," said the Captain Commander, frowning, "I am sure that the Kuchiki clan will want to act quickly to determine Captain Kuchiki's whereabouts. As for the rest of you, you are to return to your duties. Central 46 has assigned its own forces to see to the cleanup, and will inform us as to any needs as they arrive. You are dismissed."