Chapter 1: Marked
"You are right on time," said the cloaked and hooded man, as the Central 46 guard stepped into the darkened clearing, "You have...been to see him, then?"
"Hai," said the guard, looking around nervously, "I tended him yesterday...and he did seem interested."
"Of course he was interested, Jun-san," said the hooded man, "He has no way out, on his own, and he realizes that."
"But he was reluctant about the idea of giving up the hougyoku. Even though it will not recognize him as its master anymore, he will not free it because it gives him immortality."
"But what good is immortality if no one will ever set him free?"
"Exactly," said Jun, "I made exactly that argument and he said that he would consider it and let me know tonight. I work the late shift and have agreed to tend him through the night."
"See that you do that," said the hooded man, "And if he agrees, then you will unbind him, free his own powers, but leave the seal on the hougyoku...and you will give him this."
He handed the guard a green handled katana, which the guard slipped into his belt, next to his own weapon.
"But I have to give them my weapons when I go in to see him," Jun objected.
"Ah," said the man, "But this weapon will conceal itself, as it has ever since he abandoned it. Trust me. You won't be questioned about it at all."
"If you say so," Jun said nervously.
"I will be here when he arrives...or when you come to tell me he has refused."
"What will you do if he will not agree to your terms?" asked Jun.
The man smiled.
"I will convince him otherwise. Now go."
He watched as the guard flash stepped away, then stepped out into the moonlight. He drew back his hood and gazed up at the moon and stars through ice blue eyes.
"You had best not keep me waiting Aizen Sousuke," the man said softly, threading the fingers of a prosthetic hand through his silver hair, "I did not come back from the dead to waste my time. You promised me a great many things for the privilege of having me follow you...and now, you will deliver on your promises. You will deliver on them...and then you will die!"
He sank back into the brush and sat down to wait.
Inside the gates of Central 46, Jun walked to the front entrance, and showed his identification to the guards. As promised, none of them asked about the second katana he wore, nor did anyone seem to notice it as he made his way through the main building. He passed freely through the upper levels of the prison, and was not stopped until he reached the lowest level...Muken.
Jun handed the bored looking guard his identification and waited as it was verified.
Jun handed the guard his zanpakutou, and breathed a sigh of relief as he was allowed to pass, still bearing the green hilted zanpakutou.
I guess that guy wasn't bullshitting me...the thing really does conceal itself.
He entered Aizen's cell and went about his usual cleaning. As he finished, he heard an odd voice in his head.
You may uncover his eyes and mouth now, but leave his hands bound.
Jun wondered if it was simply a memory of the hooded man's instructions or if the voice was real. He glanced uneasily at the zanpakutou he carried, then shook his head and walked to Aizen.
No one will see or hear you. You may speak freely with him.
Jun shivered softly, but walked to Aizen and unbound his eyes and mouth.
"Jun," Aizen said, smiling, "How nice that you have returned. And...do I sense that you have brought a gift for me?"
Jun bit at his lips nervously.
"The man who sent it warned me to only give it to you if you agree to his terms that I told you before."
"I see," said Aizen, "Apparently, he does not understand the bond between my zanpakutou and me."
Jun caught his breath in surprise as the spirit form of a tall, pale man with deep green eyes rose up out of the sword. His eyes went wide and he turned to call for help, but found himself frozen.
"Do not worry, my friend," Aizen whispered, "You have been helpful, so I will not harm you. Come here, Jun. Pleasure me...like you did before."
The guard felt the strong compulsion that always seemed to draw him to the charismatic prisoner. He sensed the awful danger, but couldn't resist getting closer, undoing the binding around the man's lower body and kneeling between his parted thighs. He might have been bound, but Jun could feel the barely restrained power in the man as he began. Aizen managed to move slightly within his bonds to increase the feeling.
"Ah," Aizen sighed languidly, "So kind of you, Jun. You are such a lovely young man. You must allow me to reward you."
"Hmmm?" Jun queried uncertainly.
"Relax," Aizen said softly, "Do not be afraid. My zanpakutou has decided to help me reward you for your kindness."
The young man couldn't help shivering as he felt another warm body settle in behind him. Strong fingers threaded into his hair, encouraging him, while the spirit's other hand swiftly deprived him of his clothes and prepared him. Jun gave a nervous moan and tried to pull away, but found himself trapped between the bound prisoner and the suddenly manifested zanpakutou.
But how can it be doing this? His powers are sealed. It is...acting independently of him?
He started to struggle, but was frozen in place as the spirit invoked an odd, hypnotic powertook control. It felt strange, dangerous, almost rapturous, being trapped between the two like that. He knew that he should be terrified, but whatever power the zanpakutou spirit held over him would not allow it. He was caught up in the delicious, mind numbing sensations...the absolute thrill of being taken at both ends. And by such a man as Aizen Sousuke and his notorious zanpakutou! He quivered and moaned heedlessly, panting and writhing. Aizen's lusty moans joined his, and he could feel the spirit's hot breath as it pressed up against his back. Jun heard Aizen groan preemptively and responded quickly as their pleasure peaked. Jun sagged against Aizen, overcome with numbing bliss. His mind barely registered the sudden shock of power that made him collapse onto the floor at Aizen's feet.
Aizen smiled as the zanpakutou spirit extracted homself and began to free the prisoner from his bonds.
"Just so you understand," Kyouka Suigetsu said in a low voice, "You freed me, and so you no longer command me unless I choose to obey your wishes. I do not trust you. But I need you to bolster my power, just as you need me now to support yours."
"That makes sense, I suppose," Aizen agreed, "So, we will work together, but only where we both will it. But will you tell me? How did you survive? I remember you crumbling."
"Someone picked up the pieces...and that someone awaits you. You should not trust him either, but he will be useful in continuing our plans against the king. You see, we have found a way around having to use that thing in your chest. You will need to free youself from it, as it is needed for the ritual we will perform. But we have found a way around the sacrifice of a million souls. We need only one special soul. But the man who assisted me will fill you in. We will go to meet him now."
The spirit looked down at the guard's crumpled form.
"Should I kill him?"
"No," said Aizen, shaking his head, "He was rather enjoyable. We will leave him alive, but he shall serve another useful purpose."
He picked up the bindings that had secured him to the chair. Kyouka Suigetsu nodded briefly and picked up the guard, placing him in the chair and waiting as Aizen carefully bound him. Then, the zanpakutou invoked his power, making Jun look like the bound form of Aizen.
"Superb," Aizen complemented the zanpakutou, "You have outdone yourself. Now, it you will change my appearance, we can be out of this dreadful place."
Kyouka Suigetsu quietly invoked his power, and Aizen took on Jun's appearance. And with astonishing ease, Aizen Sousuke waltzed out of the Central 46 prison without so much as a challenge. He left the compound and followed Kyouka Suigetsu into the forested area nearby. The spirit led him to a small clearing, where a hooded man waited for him. Aizen stood calmly, waiting as the man turned and revealed himself.
"Gin," Aizen said softly, surprise lighting his face, "So...you survived."
"No thanks to you," the silver haired man said solemnly, his lips unsmiling, "You owe me Aizen Sousuke...for your broken promises and all of your lies. You never intended for Tousen Kaname and me to stand with you in the spirit dimension, but now you can't get there without me. I have found a way to create the king's key without the sacrifice of a million souls. It will require the willing sacrifice of that infernal stone in your chest. But if you will part with it, I will find you a kind of soul that can be sacrificed instead of all of those people. I know of three shinigamis who have this kind of soul. I won't tell you what it is. I don't want you just using me and trying to kill me off again. We are going to do this together, and then when you are king, you will see to it that I never want for anything...and you will return the arm you tore from my body."
Aizen smiled and his eyes glinted softly in the darkness.
"Very well. I accept," he said, nodding, "Release the seal on my powers then, but not the one on the hougyoku."
"You do know how to unfuse yourselves, ne?" asked Gin, "I wasn't sure how it could be done."
"I will see to that," Aizen said, sighing contentedly as the silver haired man shattered the seal on his powers, "You can just gather those three souls you were talking about."
"All three?" asked Gin, "We only need one."
"We should have extras...in case we run into any snags along the way. That should take care of any unforeseen circumstances, ne?"
"I imagine it would," agreed Gin.
"So, who is our first target?" asked Aizen, looking around the clearing.
"You let me worry about that," said the silver haired man, "I'll take you to my hideout, then while you start working on separating yourself from that stone, I will kidnap our first victim. I must warn you, though. They will be a handful."
"They are all taichou level."
"But not taichous, ne?" queried Aizen.
"Two are taichous. One is a fukutaichou...with ban kai."
"Abarai Renji? Or Madarame Ikkaku?" he asked.
"You will see. Let's go and get ready."
He glanced back at the prison.
"You...killed him? That guard?"
"No. He is merely doing a lovely impression of me to keep them from knowing I'm gone until it's too late."
"Hmmm," said Gin, "I don't know if that was crafty, or if you are just going soft."
"There was no need to kill him," said Aizen, "And he was very good. Ask my zanpakutou. He looked extremely satisfied. Thank you, by the way. He was most pleasant company."
"Oh, you are welcome, Sousuke. I thought you would enjoy him. I certainly did. And what a kindness to leave him in bondage. He loved being tied up and handled roughly. I suppose we could sneak back in there..."
"Another time, perhaps," Aizen said, shaking his head, "I am done with that place. I will never see the inside of that prison again."
"No," agreed Gin, cryptically, "I don't believe that you will."
"Here's the last of the reports, Taichou," said Renji, yawning sleepily, "Damn, I thought we'd never finish."
"Nonsense," said Byakuya, "I told you that it was merely mind over matter, and you see...it is done. You are to be commended, Renji. Not only is everything done, your writing is actually nearly legible."
Renji laughed softly.
"Yeah, I've had enough practice. That's for damned sure!"
"Well, you may rest your writing hand for the next two days. There are no missions on the board, so you are welcome to take the next two days off with pay, if you like...to reward you for your efforts."
"What? Really, Taichou?" said the redhead, looking genuinely surprised, "Taichou, are you sure you aren't talking in your sleep? You are Kuchiki Byakuya, sixth division taichou, ne?"
"I am," said Byakuya, smirking, "And believe me. As hard as you will train when you return, you are going to need the rest. So go and enjoy your time off. I will handle things here in your absence."
"Well," said Renji, "Okay, if you're sure, Taichou. Just...you know, if anything serious comes up..."
"I will be sure to recall you," the noble promised, "Now, you had best go before my good mood wears off and I change my mind."
"Ah, right," laughed Renji.
He returned to his desk and gathered his things, leaving Zabimaru in the sword stand behind his desk.
"See you in a couple of days, Taichou," he said in parting, smiling as Byakuya nodded briefly in farewell.
Renji left the sixth division and walked down the street to the noodle shop. He inhaled a large order of teriyaki and a glass of sake, then bypassed the bar, as his friends looked to have already gone home. He reached his apartment building and sighed in resignation at finding the elevator wasn't working...again. He stumbled up the stairs and to his apartment, fumbling for his keys as he reached the door and realized he had left them at the sixth division.
"A-gain," he sighed, "Fuck."
He started to turn around, but was hit with a shock of kido, so hard and so fast that there was no time to respond. He collapsed into his attacker's arms and lost consciousness immediately.
"Thanks," Gin said to Kyouka Suigetsu, "Couldn't have been so sneaky without you."
The spirit looked back at him quietly and said nothing.
"Too bad you can't carry him too," Gin complained, flinging the redhead over his shoulder.
"Do your own dirty work," said the spirit off-handedly, "Neither you nor Aizen Sousuke tells me what to do anymore."
"Hmmm," sighed Gin, "Someone is going to need a severe reality check...soon."