Dark Heart, White Soul
The darkest hearts in the Seireitei, bearing the most deeply bloodstained hands, reside in the lowest level of the Central 46 prison...Muken. And darkest among those souls, a man who tried to make of himself a god, Aizen Sousuke, sits bound and blindfolded, alone but for the only ones who can be trusted to care for the dark ones...white, incorruptible souls, pure ones whose hearts may draw near the evil ones, but will not be corrupted...or led astray.
Chapter 1: Meeting the Devil
"Thank you for coming with me, Byakuya-sama," said Tetsuya, enjoying the warmth of his cousin's body against his back as they rode the younger noble's stallion towards Central 46, "I understand the need for one such as myself for this, but...I could not have imagined that they would choose me, of all people."
"I, on the other hand, was not completely surprised by the decision. White Souls are rare, and they play an important role in the care and treatment of Central 46's prison population. I know it is a burden, having this expectation placed upon you, but..."
"I was born a White Soul," said Tetsuya, smiling at him over a slender shoulder, "I have long known what that meant. And although I do not like that I will be spending time in a prison again, at least this time, I am not an inmate."
"I am not pleased at you being forced to spend your time in that place, especially considering whose company you will be sharing. But you were identified as the soul most appropriate for the care and conditioning of Aizen Sousuke's, so it would be wrong of us not to step forward and take responsibility."
"You are right, of course," Tetsuya said as Arashi came to a stop at the Central 46 headquarters.
Tetsuya slid down, looking around at the oddly deserted looking environs. He knew that outside the structure, cameras and kido powered monitoring and weapons protected the building, but it seemed strange seeing no sign of any people about. He watched as Byakuya dismounted, then walked alongside his cousin to the building's entrance, where each of the two placed his hand on a sensory pad and was granted admittance into Central 46.
They walked to the first security checkpoint and were cleared, then sent on to the prison coordinator's office. They stopped at the man's door and Tetsuya knocked politely.
"Come in," said a male voice from within the room.
The quiet looking, bespectacled man in the room, smiled upon seeing Tetsuya and motioned for the two men to sit. Byakuya and Tetsuya sat down and were served tea a moment later by the coordinator's young male assistant.
"Good morning, Kuchiki taichou, and Tetsuya-san," he greeted them, "Thank you for coming, and for being right on time, as well. I am sure that the two of you have questions. I will be happy to answer them as well as give Tetsuya an outline of his duties."
"Arigato," said Byakuya, sipping at his tea, "I will be honest with you. Although I know you are an outstanding scientist, Takayama Hiro, I am less than enthusiastic about subjecting a member of my clan, especially one who is close to me, as Tetsuya is, to what you have assigned him. I will need some compelling evidence that such action is both safe and likely to work as you expect."
"To be sure, to be sure," said the coordinator, "And let me assure you that I have worked on the development of this technology for many years. I have managed to make the matching system essentially flawless...meaning that I was able to isolate identifiable factors in the inmates that I compared to a list of identified White Souls, and for the past twenty years, we have not had even one match fail because of poor matching. That file in front of you will support that. Pages five through twelve list all of our matches made for the initial test period. And on page twenty is a safety report covering the entire span of the project. And while a few inmates have died because they violated the parameters of the experiment, we have never lost one of our White Souls."
Byakuya looked over the information and then handed it to Tetsuya, who studied it curiously, then nodded and set it down.
"What will I be expected to do while with Aizen Sousuke?" asked Tetsuya, "I understand that I am to see that he is nourished and otherwise cared for, but it seems that there must be more."
"Yes," said Hiro, smiling at Tetsuya, "You are expected to conduct yourself as a kind of...companion to Aizen Sousuke."
"Meaning?" asked Tetsuya.
"You will have plenty of unstructured time, and you may choose to interact in any way you agree upon together...within reason, of course. No helping him plan assassinations or attempts to escape. Of course, you are a White Soul, chosen because you are not the kind to take part in such things."
"I don't understand," said Byakuya, "I do see evidence here that your 'White Soul Therapy' is often successful, but to be successful, shouldn't there be some strategy or approach the White Souls use to accomplish this."
Hiro shook his head gently.
"The science here is not in the approach so much as the matching. You see, my research has led me to the conclusion that these 'Dark Hearts' as I call them, are in the lowest level of the prison because some part of them is broken or missing. They are carefully psychologically profiled and matched up to a White Soul whose strengths lie in the areas of their weakness...sort of an 'opposites attract' theory. When the White Soul enters the cell, the two are enclosed in a white, protective chamber, where they can interact as they choose. the Dark Hearts, being the ones in need will seek what they are missing in their own ways. But the protective field will not allow them to injure or kill their White Soul companions."
"Are there limitations on how we may interact?" asked Tetsuya, "There must be some boundaries..."
"Not to any real extent," answered Hiro, "As I said, the Dark Hearts are not allowed to hurt their White Souls. The White Soul may allow the Dark Heart physical contact if the two desire it, but if the White Soul does not wish it, the Dark Heart cannot touch him. We find that Dark Hearts require different approaches and the White Souls sense what their Dark counterparts need, and offer that."
"So...if Aizen 'needs' sexual contact as a means of connection to Tetsuya, my cousin may be used sexually?" Byakuya asked, his eyes darkening.
"Your cousin will have complete control of that aspect of their interactions. He will not be forced to do anything that makes him uncomfortable. I told you, safety of our White Souls is imperative to the program's success. I am sure that you have heard of the successful treatment of several of Central 46's most difficult prisoners?"
"Yes," said Byakuya, "I have. And that is the only reason that my cousin has reported to you. But...as the Kuchiki clan leader, I have the right, and I consider it a duty, to remove him from the program if he is compelled to do anything that violates his sense of morals."
"I understand," said Hiro, "And I assure you. If Aizen upsets your cousin and he chooses not to continue, I will free Tetsuya-san of any further responsibility."
Byakuya turned to Tetsuya, meeting his cousin's eyes uncertainly.
"Are you comfortable with this?" he asked quietly, "I can appeal the appointment if you have doubts."
"I admit to being nervous about it," said Tetsuya, "But I am willing to go ahead, as long as there is proper assurance of my safety, and as long as I can be released from this duty if it becomes too...disturbing."
Hiro smiled and nodded.
"Those are very reasonable expectations. Now, if your questions have been answered, it is time to take our leave of your cousin and take you to prepare for your meeting with Aizen Sousuke."
Tetsuya glanced at Byakuya and swallowed hard.
"I am ready," he said finally.
"Come then," said Hiro, "I will get you started."
Aizen Sousuke sat calmly, despite the void of darkness and silence around him. Despite the inability of his body to move, his mind remained highly active, repeating a conundrum of plans for when he was freed...because, one way or another, no matter how long it took, the forces that held him back would erode with time. Society would change, or disaster would strike, or perhaps something else would be the impetus, but he wouldn't always be held in that dark, quiet cell. And once the walls crashed down around him for whatever reason, once he was free again, he would see to the things he had so meticulously planned. Although the hougyoku had rejected him as its master, it would not desert him immediately. And while it waited for a stronger master to appear, it would see to the healing of his atrophied muscles, his long deprived eyes, ears and spirit centers. Yes, he would return to pristine health, and then begin again. There was a way to reclaim dominance of the hougyoku...he was sure of it. And being determined and immortal, he would find it.
Only one thing continued to nag at him.
I still do not understand what happened at the end of the battle...why exactly, I ceased to transform. Urahara Kisuke said that the hougyoku no longer saw me as its master. And he made the assumption that it was because of how hard Kurosaki Ichigo pushed me. Yet, once he gave all of his power to striking at me, he lost his power. So, it follows that even if the hougyoku recognized Ichigo's power, it would not have sought to join with him, because going to the ends of his power meant yielding it completely...giving it up. I could have defeated him at that point, had something...had something not shifted. But the hougyoku does not speak to me...not even to tell me why.
Why did the hougyoku reject me?
I do not know of the existence of a more powerful shinigami...or being, than myself. I wonder if the hougyoku would wait forever in futility, or if it would, at some point accept there is no better option. In any case, I will not be idle for a moment, once I am...
He saw traces of white light leaking in around the edges of the binding on his eyes. Then soft footfalls, a light, delicate step...then the scent of sakura reached his senses.
But he walks with a firmer step than this one.
A relative then?
Soft hands removed the bindings over his eyes, ears and mouth, and he blinked in the suddenly painful brightness, trying to focus on the face of the shinigami standing in front of him. His eyes adjusted slowly and came to rest on a lovely young man, bearing the markers of the Kuchiki family...the long, raven black hair, though more wispy and less controlled than Byakuya's, pale, perfect complexion, delicate features and a composed demeanor despite standing face to face with the devil, himself.
But the young man's wide blue eyes, gentler expression and less tightly controlled reiatsu set him apart. There was something about him that was harder to place, something that suggested both unnatural wisdom and innocence at the same time.
"Greetings, Kuchiki-san," he said, testing his voice, "You are a member of the Kuchiki family, ne? You look and smell like one."
"I am," the young man said calmly, placing a tray on the table in front of him and moving to unbind his hands.
As soon as his hands were free, Aizen sought the young man's throat with a clenching hand, but registered surprise as his hand merely passed through the young man's body, as though it wasn't really there.
But I felt his hands touch me...
"Are you really here or are you some kind of illusion or construct?" asked Aizen, studying him and reaching out to touch his face more gently.
This time, his fingers encountered a touch of petal soft skin.
"I am really in front of you," the young man told him, "However, a new technology is being used to protect me if you attempt to attack me. This way, I am able to see to your needs without fear for my safety."
"And why would Central 46 bother with my needs?" Aizen asked sourly, "They seemed content enough to damn me to twenty thousand years in this pit. Why would they suddenly gift me with my own servant?"
"I am no one's servant," the man said quietly, "I am Kuchiki Tetsuya, and I was chosen by Central 46 to be your caretaker."
"Oh, I don't believe that for a moment, and if you do then you are quite naive, Tetsuya."
He smiled at the way the young man flinched at hearing the more personal use of his name.
"I am also meant to be a sort of companion," Tetsuya added.
"A companion?" Aizen said, smirking, "Why would I need a companion?"
"One would think it would be taxing to be bound and left alone for twenty thousand years, Aizen Sousuke," Tetsuya answered, sitting down on the other side of the table he had placed in front of Aizen.
Aizen shook his head and met Tetsuya's eyes skeptically.
"Of what use is a companion who will die long before I am released?" he asked, looking down at the plate that the young man had placed in front of him, "I would go through a number of companions, it seems."
"I wouldn't know about that. I am only concerned with the here and now," Tetsuya answered quietly, sipping at a cup of tea.
"Hmmm," said Aizen, picking up his own teacup and studying it for a moment.
"You cannot be worried about poison," Tetsuya mused, "You are immortal, ne?"
"Poison would still be an annoyance...and I still have not divined exactly why you have been sent, Tetsuya. However, I will accept your companionship for the time being, as it is certainly better than being bound and neglected. I assume that by companionship, you mean small talk and perhaps a game of chess, now and then? Certainly, no wine and lovemaking?"
He found the instant blush that rose on Tetsuya's cheeks enchanting.
"Why don't we just get to know each other, for now," suggested the noble, "We can define things more as we do that."
"Oh," said Aizen, raising an eyebrow, "Then, lovemaking is a possibility? I can't believe that the Kuchiki family would allow one of their fine clansmen to lie down naked with me..."
Tetsuya's blush deepened sweetly, but Aizen was impressed at the young man's ability to keep his composure.
"As I told you, I am no servant," said Tetsuya, "And I am no man's whore."
"That is good," said Aizen, "because my funds have been frozen while I'm here, so I couldn't afford you."
"You seem to great pleasure in being insulting," said Tetsuya, looking into Aizen's eyes, "Would you like for me to go?"
"Actually, I find you rather interesting, Tetsuya," said Aizen, "I have come to a few conclusions about you. Let's see if I'm on track. You did not choose to be here. You were chosen and pressured into it by Central 46. They want something, and they think you are going to help them get it, otherwise, you wouldn't be here, offering food, talk and eventual sex."
"I never offered you..."
"No, you didn't," Aizen said, his eyes taking on a sympathetic look, "But then, you aren't aware of their full plans for you. You are a young, lovely, honorable...and likely virgin man. They are right to think that I would be attracted to that. But it sets off all kinds of warning bells. I will accept your company, given that you don't seem to be too invasive. It may cure some of the boredom of my incarceration. Will you be staying all day, or just coming to talk to me at mealtimes? Will you be observing me, when you're not in here?"
"We will just play it by ear," said Tetsuya, "As long as you are not unpleasant towards me, I will stay."
"Then, I will attempt to contain myself, despite my depraved nature and long abstinence, and your intoxicating loveliness. Will that satisfy you, Tetsuya?"
"I imagine it will do," Tetsuya said, taking another sip of tea, "I notice that you are not eating very much. Would you like me to bring something different next time?"
Aizen blinked in surprise, then smiled.
"There is a small cafe on the same block as the fifth division. The man who owns it..."
"Hideo-san?" asked Tetsuya.
"Yes," answered Aizen, "I see you have been there. He makes a uniquely fine teriyaki. I became rather addicted to it while acting as fifth division taichou. His tea is also superior."
"That is not to much to ask," Tetsuya agreed.
"And what would you like in return for this show of generosity, Tetsuya? I fear I haven't much to offer."
Tetsuya rose and moved around the table.
"Just avoid being unpleasant with me while I am here, and we will call it even."
"Wait," said Aizen, capturing Tetsuya's slender hand in his as the young man started to stand.
Holding Tetsuya's gaze, he brought his lips to the noble's fingers and brushed lightly against them. Tetsuya's blush returned instantly, but he cleared his throat and managed not to react strongly. He moved around the table and removed the rest of Aizen's bonds. allowing him to stand.
"You no longer need to be bound," said the noble, "There is a shield around your cell that only allows me to pass through. It would be good for you to stretch your legs. Would you like me assist you? You may be a bit unsteady at first."
"Arigato," said Aizen, slipping an arm around Tetsuya's shoulders and standing slowly.
His skin is so soft. I haven't felt anything that soft since I arrived here. His scent and reiatsu are as refreshing as a spring rain. It angers me that they use him like this. He has no idea that whatever they told him is a lie.
Aizen remained quiet as Tetsuya helped him around the room, then loosed him to walk a little on his own. He felt as if the brightness the young man had brought to his otherwise dreary day disappeared as Tetsuya gathered the dirty dishes and bid him farewell.
But he will be visiting often...and despite having to be careful not to give Central 46 what it wants from me, I can certainly enjoy the pleasantness of his company.
I almost don't want to seduce him.
Some things really should remain pure...