New and soft and lovely, you cradle my growing form. Within your careful boundaries, I become strong, even as your surface dries, cracks and withers. Into the light, I emerge and cling to you as my body calms and my wings dry. As I rise into the air and take flight, I look back on the empty shell that used to be you…and I am grateful.
Aizen Sousuke heard the sound of his cell door opening and rotated his one uncovered eye to see a young, dark-haired man entering his cell.
He has been on guard quite a few times recently. A member of the Kuchiki household. Byakuya's own bodyguard, called by Central 46 so that they could enjoy the holidays without fearing my escape.
A lovely young man.
But he's coming in this time?
A brave soul, Kuchiki Tetsuya.
"Kuchiki Tetsuya," he said, looking up at the young man as he approached, "To what do I owe the honor of your company?"
"You know my name?" Tetsuya asked, calm surprise in his youthful face, "Have we met before?"
"I have felt your presence several times in the past few days, and I have heard your name mentioned by the other guards. You are on special assignment, ne?"
"You listen closely."
"Yes," Aizen said, smirking, "But that is easy when one is bound and left with nothing else to do but listen and make plans. But...I must ask again, why have you come into my cell?"
Tetsuya pulled a chair up in front of the prisoner and sat down, then let a small pack slide down off of one slender shoulder.
"It is Christmas Eve," he answered quietly, "Does not even the great Aizen Sousuke crave company on such a night?"
"You...come to mock me, Kuchiki Tetsuya?" Aizen asked, "I am surprised. You don't seem the type to be deliberately cruel."
"I did not come to mock you," Tetsuya answered, reaching down and opening the pack he had brought.
He slipped a hand inside and removed several parcels that he laid on a small table.
Aizen caught a breath of warm spices and felt his mouth water.
"You have come to have Christmas dinner with me," Aizen mused, smirking again, "Why?"
Tetsuya looked into his one uncovered eye dispassionately.
"It is Christmas Eve and your poor behavior has made me have to leave my family and spend the evening with you. I have been instructed to watch you closely, and so I will. However, I imagined you would enjoy having company and something better than prison rations tonight."
"You are a generous soul, Tetsuya."
"I merely didn't want to miss out on Christmas dinner, sitting alone in a cold prison with a heartless criminal," commented the noble, "I hate this kind of place. This is not something I wanted to do."
"No," Aizen agreed, "The council was concerned that in their absence and while guards are shifted about for coverage during the holidays, I might attempt to escape. They must have great faith in you to assign you to guard me tonight. Do you not fear for your life?"
He watched as Tetsuya portioned food out onto two plates, then poured two cups of fine sake.
"No, not you. You are not frightened of me. Only cautious. You are a brave man to think you are safe with me."
"No. I am prepared."
"You are prepared?" Aizen asked, smiling at him, "How so?"
Tetsuya returned Aizen's smile.
"I have a companion monitoring my vital signs, my spiritual pressure, and ready to use taichou level force to impede you, should you attempt to do me any harm. So, even if your power leaks through the seal and affects me, my partner will know and act on my behalf."
"Then...you have a lover?" asked Aizen.
"You are oddly curious about me," Tetsuya commented, taking a bite of food from his plate, then offering Aizen a bite from the other.
The prisoner felt an explosion of warm flavors that seemed to radiate through his restrained body, and barely suppressed a sigh of contentment.
"I don't get many people coming into my cell, as you can imagine. Mostly just boring old men, not usually beauties like yourself. So, yes, I am curious when someone...different enters this place."
"I see," said Tetsuya, "Well, I am curious also, Aizen Sousuke, so before I answer your questions, I want you to answer the same for me. Do you have a lover?"
Aizen's lips smiled more widely and his eye twinkled.
"I was seeing Gin, but he betrayed me and I killed him. Then while here, I did play with one young, naive guard. But someone sensed that I had tampered with him and he left. So, no, I do not have a lover. And you?"
"I have no lover," answered Tetsuya, "And I want none."
Aizen gazed at him curiously as Tetsuya continued to alternate between feeding the prisoner and taking bites from his own plate. He almost purred as the noble treated him to a swallow of heated sake.
"Oh...that is wonderful, Tetsuya. I see why you didn't want to miss out on Christmas dinner at Kuchiki Manor. Byakuya does have very fine culinary experts."
"He does," Tetsuya agreed, "I am glad you are enjoying your meal."
"I am enjoying your company more. Tell me, Tetsuya, why is it that such a lovely young man has such a jaded attitude about love?"
Tetsuya considered the question quietly as he continued to eat, and to feed Aizen.
"I have only been in love once, and my lover was killed."
"I am sorry to hear that. Was he killed in battle?"
"He was killed while we were being rescued from an illegal family prison."
Aizen's eyes widened.
"Yes, how did you know?" Tetsuya asked, "It is a closely guarded family secret."
"I gathered information on the noble families as part of my plans," Aizen explained, "I came across the information amidst the intelligence. You were a prisoner there, then? You are a half blood?"
"Ah, that explains quite a few things about you," Aizen mused, "except perhaps how you came to be Byakuya's right hand. But then, I sense respectable power in you. And he does seem to have a soft spot for people of lesser descent, ne? Are you sure you never indulged in him after his wife passed away? The way you are described..."
"I owe Byakuya-sama my life, and I work at repaying that debt by guarding him carefully."
"Ah yes, and you ready to sacrifice your own life in the effort, no? But what a terrible waste, Tetsuya. I can think of much better uses for that luscious body of yours."
"I am certain you can," Tetsuya answered, a gentle flush touching his features, "And I am equally certain I have no interest."
"Ah, too bad. It has been a long time since something soft and deliciously fragrant was anywhere near me. But then, you were a prisoner. You understand those feelings of longing."
Tetsuya blinked slowly, his dark blue eyes betraying a hint of sadness. Aizen forced his lips not to smile and watched the young man's face fastidiously as Tetsuya answered.
"I do," he said finally, "We were fortunate in being allowed to stretch our legs in the small courtyard there, twice a day as long as we were compliant. And some of us tended the gardens as part of our duties there."
"And stole time with your lovers in secret dalliances, ne?"
"No. I shared a cell with my lover, Naoki. And we were always careful not to let it be known that we were intimate. We would have been separated. The guards liked to use us themselves."
"And I imagine that with such a beautiful face, they did not hesitate in giving you their attentions?"
"No, although I was mostly the property of one man within the prison. But enough of that. Would you like to stretch your legs, Aizen Sousuke?"
"What?" said the prisoner, looking surprised, "You mean...?"
"I mean that I have leave to unbind you and to allow you to walk about your cell...as long as certain measures are taken to protect me and to make sure that you do not escape," Tetsuya explained.
"And those are?"
"I think that I will keep that to myself," Tetsuya said shortly, "Suffice it to say that if you try to attack me, it will bring our time together to a very abrupt end. I think you do not want that."
"No," said Aizen, the smile returning to his lips as Tetsuya slowly unbound him, "You are enchanting company, Tetsuya."
"I imagine just about anyone would be more enchanting than the empty space you have around you most of the time," the noble commented.
He paused for a moment, kneeling to unbind Aizen's legs. Tetsuya froze as Aizen's fingers slipped beneath his chin and coaxed his eyes up to meet the prisoner's.
"Thank you," Aizen said quietly, "for showing mercy to someone serving a sentence far longer than yours by tens of thousands of years. And more certainly, someone who has actually sinned in a manner consistent with his sentence."
The noble let out a soft breath and stood, reaching out a hand to steady Aizen and he lifted himself out of the chair he had been bound to and stood on shaky legs. He leaned against Tetsuya for the first few steps, allowing the circulation to be restored, then released the noble as they continued to walk the edges of the room several times before returning to the table, where the rest of their meal waited.
"Dessert too, Tetsuya?" Aizen said approvingly, joining the younger man at the table, where they sat, facing each other.
Tetsuya portioned out two servings of warmed pie, then dished out ice cream from an insulated package.
"You spoil me."
"It is a time of celebration, and near the beginning of a new year," Tetsuya said, a tired look overtaking his face.
"What is that weary expression?" asked Aizen, "You are a young man with a full life ahead of you. At least you have your freedom."
"But when I lost Naoki, it was like losing part of my soul," Tetsuya said solemnly, "And as resolute as I am to spend the rest of my life in the service of my cousin, who freed me, I..."
He paused, blinking in realization that the sake had caused him to lower his guard too much. Aizen smiled.
"You lack ambition for youtself," he said quietly, "You focus on Byakuya so that you will not feel the loneliness inside you. As much as you claim that you do not desire love, you hunger for it, Kuchiki Tetsuya."
"This from the all powerful Aizen Sousuke, who thought that he could rise above everyone, but fell because he too was lonely?"
"Who told you such a thing?" the prisoner asked, frowning.
Tetsuya looked down at his nearly empty plate.
"I am friends with Kurosaki Ichigo," he explained, "And he told me that, at the end of your battle, he began to be able to feel the soul within your blade. He said that it radiated only intense loneliness."
"Is that so," Aizen mused, "That is interesting. Unexpected."
"Are you saying that you are not lonely?"
Aizen's lips twitched softly.
"That is complicated."
He looked down at his plate.
"I think I rather enjoyed it when you fed me by hand, Tetsuya," he said, smirking, "The dinner was delicious, as is your company. Please, allow me to show you my gratitude."
He captured Tetsuya's hand, and the younger man watched in silence as Aizen's lips brushed lightly against the pale, soft skin. A flush bloomed instantly on the noble's skin, but even as he wanted to pull his hand away, he found that he couldn't.
"Wh-what are you doing?" he asked, his eyes widening, "Don't think you can...!"
"I am not going to hurt you, nor am I attempting to escape," Aizen said calmly, stroking Tetsuya's fingers gently, "I want to give you something in return for your kindness. Yet being a prisoner and owning nothing anymore limits what I can offer you."
"You need offer me nothing," Tetsuya said quickly, freezing again as Aizen's hand captured his cheek.
"Oh, I insist!"
Tetsuya remained motionless, not even drawing a breath as Aizen leaned forward across the table and kissed him warmly on the lips. He sucked in a breath, steadying himself and blushing more furiously as the kiss ended.
"Ah, I am sorry," Aizen said, looking deeply amused, "I've flustered you. How charming, Tetsuya. I am becoming quite infatuated with you."
"Because you think I could be useful in helping you escape," the younger man said, standing and beginning to clean up the remnants of their meal, "Don't think I am stupid, Aizen Sousuke. You use everyone around you."
Aizen moved forward, smiling as Tetsuya backed away until he was gently trapped against a wall of the cell.
"And you do not 'use' the people around you?" Aizen asked, bringing his lips close to the noble's again, "You use me for company, your cousin Byakuya as your motivation for building your strength...for remaining alive even. Need I go on? Your motives are more pure, but we all use the people around us, Tetsuya. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. And right now is the perfect example."
"What do you mean?" Tetsuya asked, his eyelids fluttering anxiously.
"We are both lonely, using each other for company. And we both long for affection and physical contact, but do not desire love, ne? So, we share a common purpose."
"I did not come here to...!" Tetsuya began, his blue eyes flashing.
He broke off as Aizen's lips crashed hungrily into his and feasted on them voraciously, while the prisoner's hands slipped beneath his clothes, one curving around his bottom and the other seeking his nether region.
"Stop it!" the noble exclaimed, trying to pull away, "Stop it or I will...!"
"Oh, don't leave, Tetsuya. I won't do anything you do not agree to. It's just that you are so very enchanting, and I have been locked up alone in this place for more than a year already. I haven't tasted hot, gourmet food, had such stimulating conversation or been close to anyone, let alone a lovely young man like you. And I do not simply take pleasure in being with you. I offer it as well."
"It is Christmas Eve and we are here alone, ne? Except for each other. Are you worried about the other guards peeping in? Or perhaps your partner sensing the arousal in your body? You are very aroused by me already. I can feel that," Aizen said, brushing his lips against Tetsuya's again and enjoying the shiver that passed through the young man, "It wouldn't be selfish for us to ease each others' loneliness tonight. I know you are resolved not to seek love. But surely some physical comforts are not out of the question?"
"If you are thinking of using such a thing to use me to escape..."
"Although young, you are not lacking in intelligence, Tetsuya," Aizen said, interrupting him, "And you are oddly wise for your age...but prison will do that to a person, no?"
Tetsuya stared back at him, wondering suddenly when his fingers had become entangled with the prisoner's clothing. And why he was trembling. Aizen's face turned slightly, so that their cheeks brushed against each other, then his lips found the soft, pale skin of the noble's throat and teased the area gently.
"Think of it this way. We have no love attachments and would be betraying none with our actions. You have no intention of falling in love with me, nor I you. And you are on guard, so will not be useful in helping me escape. Within those boundaries, are we not free to explore each other? Are you not curious to know more of me?"
"Who would not be?" Tetsuya said, the words leaving his lips before he could reconsider them, "I don't think anyone really understands what moves you to act as you do."
"You are curious, then?" asked the prisoner, tickling Tetsuya's flushed skin with his breath and making it darken further, "It is all right to admit that."
"Perhaps. Perhaps I am," the noble answered, "But being curious doesn't mean that I will allow you to manipulate me. What steps I take are for my own reasons."
"Yes," agreed Aizen, taking his lips more firmly.
Tetsuya's eyes closed, and when Aizen's tongue teased his lips, he hesitated for a moment, then parted them. The hands that clutched at the front of the prisoner's white yukata unclenched and spread out onto Aizen's chest. A dizzy feeling of falling passed over him that had nothing to do with the sake he had been drinking and he felt himself being lifted off of his feet and carried, then laid down on the unused cot in the cell. Aizen undressed him slowly, his narrowed eyes feasting on the lovely, angelic body he had so been hoping that he would be allowed to see...to touch...to taste. Tetsuya's eyes opened again and met his calmly, despite the agitated flutter of his heart and the rising sense of danger. He watched as Aizen closed his eyes for a moment and breathed in the noble's light, sakura scent. His eyelids fluttered and opened, and his sly brown eyes burned down into Tetsuya's hazy blue ones.
Aizen's face registered surprise as Tetsuya's hand loosed the tie on the prisoner's yukata, then pushed back the material, baring his chest. The noble's eyes fixed on the hougyoku where it remained buried in Aizen's chest. He felt beads of sweat rise on his skin and his trembling fingertips touched the device questingly.
"It is all right," Aizen assured him, "The hougyoku is under a strong seal, and in any case, it has rejected me. You have nothing to fear from it."
But Tetsuya sensed the danger that still existed as the hougyoku's voice whispered into his mind.
Welcome, Kuchiki Tetsuya. I am glad you have come.
Tetsuya inhaled sharply, pulling his hand away. Aizen gazed at him curiously.
"Did it speak to you? What did it say?" he asked.
I feel your desires...the ones that you would never speak to another living soul.
"N-nothing," Tetsuya lied, his heart pounding.
Aizen seemed to look right through him.
"Ah, that is surprising, if it is true," his said, running a finger along the noble's lips, "The hougyoku is a sentient being, Tetsuya. And like the rest of us, it seeks to use what it finds around it."
"I thought that you said that it was sealed away," Tetsuya objected.
I can give you what you want.
"It is," agreed Aizen, "So it cannot leave my body, nor can it cause me to change as I did before. But remember, even when the hougyoku was incomplete, it had an innate ability to affect the ones around it, based on their desires. The hougyoku senses your inner desires, Tetsuya, and it can, to some extent, grant them."
"If it deems them somehow useful," said the noble, "So it is good that I aspire only to protect the ones I love."
"And you do not think that such a desire is useful to the hougyoku?" Aizen chided him, warming his lips with another long kiss, "I did not think you were that naive. That is exactly the kind of desire the hougyoku would find irresistible. Surely you see that."
"What do you mean?" Tetsuya asked breathlessly.
"To protect your loved ones, you would do anything, ne?"
"If your loved ones were in danger, you would apply all of your strength to protect them. The hougyoku knows that. And more than that, it would benefit from you being pushed to that state, Tetsuya."
The noble felt a hard chill slice through his young body.
"You mean that it would endanger them?" he said in an alarmed tone, pulling away from Aizen and sitting up quickly.
"Relax," Aizen reassured him, curling an arm around him, "The hougyoku cannot affect your family and friends, only you and me. It can only affect the ones within its range. That is limited here."
"But it still requires caution."
"You are wise to see that," Aizen commented, "But enough about that. Come now, we were about to partake of something much more pleasant."
He wrapped his arms around the still uncertain noble, plunging deeply into his mouth and teasing his tongue mercilessly until it couldn't help but curl around his. Tetsuya's arms returned his embrace, and he slid onto Aizen's lap, spreading his soft, creamy thighs and letting their aroused members touch as their kissing deepened.
The noble flinched at the return of the hougyoku's voice, but Aizen didn't seem to notice, only kissing him harder and curving both hands around his bare bottom, teasing his hips into motion. The gentle friction between their bodies distracted him, and he almost jumped when the hougyoku sounded in his mind again.
You have a deep desire that I can fulfill.
The noble moaned helplessly as Aizen's fingers touched him questioningly, then slowly began to prepare him. He clenched at the prisoner's yukata and panted into a strong shoulder as the hougyoku went on.
You want to protect your loved ones.
Tetsuya's eyes closed tightly and his moans became feverish, his mind nearly incoherent as Aizen's probing fingers caressed him until his mind began to lose coherence and he nearly disappeared into the sensation.
You know this man is a danger to everyone, and you know as well that he cannot be killed.
"Oh!" Tetsuya gasped, writhing heatedly against Aizen as the two kissed again.
Although you cannot kill him, you can protect everyone with one simple action.
"N-no..." the noble moaned deliriously.
He went almost breathless with agony as Aizen stopped and gazed down at him.
"Do you want me to stop?" he asked, "I will, if you have changed your mind. This is a willing exchange, after all."
When he takes you, open your heart to him.
"No," Tetsuya panted, unsure whether he was answering Aizen or the hougyoku.
I cannot do that.
Not after what happened before, with Naoki. And this man is horridly dangerous. This can only end in disaster!
He could almost feel the hougyoku's smile.
You can't help it, it whispered into his mind, It isn't in your nature to screw someone mindlessly.
I have been taken plenty of times. But only one person has ever truly reached me, Tetsuya countered.
But those others were not lovers. They took you by force. You don't know the meaning of 'casual sex,' although you think that you do.
Aizen kissed Tetsuya's lips again and slowly lowered him onto his back. He positioned himself between the noble's thighs, opening them wider and smiling down at the beautiful man who laid in full surrender beneath him. He brushed a few long strands of raven black hair away from Tetsuya's sweaty face and met his dazed eyes affectionately.
"I am glad that you came to me, Tetsuya," Aizen said, touching his prepared entrance lightly, "To unexpectedly experience something so lovely and enticing, especially in my current circumstances, is overpowering."
Aizen Sousuke desires an end to his solitude. And you desire an end to the danger he poses. Open your heart to him now, and you will both get what you desire!
Tetsuya groaned fitfully, quivering under Aizen's hands as his body was gently invaded. He shivered and stared at where Aizen's hand had found his and laced their fingers together.
It takes an angel to balance the soul of a demon, whispered the hougyoku, He will cause you great anguish, but in the end you will both find what you desire in each other, as in nowhere else.
Open your heart, Tetsuya.
Let him all of the way inside you.
He felt the deception in the words, but was left defenseless as Aizen's mouth found his again, and his body began to move of its own accord, his heart opening heedlessly without him ever deciding to allow it.
I fear you are right. I have never engaged in casual sex. My heart is there and guides the movement of my body and my soul. All that I do of my own accord is like that. I didn't understand the difference before. When the guards raped me, I could keep my distance. But I willingly laid down with this man.
Yes, purred the hougyoku, Your eyes are fully opened now. Look at what you have done...what no one else has ever done. Your opened heart speaks to his, Tetsuya. He will fall helplessly in love with you.
Impossible, Tetsuya objected, Aizen Sousuke is not naive, nor is he a stupid man. Something like this could never ensnare him.
Look at him, then, if you doubt, said the hougyoku, Look into his eyes and see the truth.
And he couldn't help but look.
Aizen leaned over him, his powerful hips thrusting heavily now into Tetsuya's shaking body. Their mingled moans rose into cries of intense pleasure. Tetsuya's eyes found his, and registered a moment of shock and hesitation. It was gone almost instantly, and their lovemaking continued.
What was that?
What did I see in his eyes?
Aizen's hands clenched, the man's fingers digging painfully into Tetsuya's skin as the body on top of his shuddered, and scathing heat flooded him inside. Tetsuya gave a hard scream of pleasure and closed his eyes involuntarily as he released between their panting forms.
Aizen's body came to rest gently on top of his, and the two resumed their kissing as Tetsuya's mind spun in circles, trying to make sense of what had happened.
It was just comfort...a release from our loneliness. It didn't mean anything and it will likely never happen again.
So, why do the hougyoku's words haunt me?
He drifted off, still wondering, not even noticing Aizen's suddenly predatory smile.
"How careless of you to fall asleep so trustingly in your enemy's arms, Tetsuya," he said, smirking.
Tetsuya came awake some time later to find himself carefully bound into the chair that Aizen had occupied. Aizen stood in front of him, smiling down at him.
"My apologies," he said, offering the noble a warm kiss, "But I needed you to lower your defenses so that I could bind you without setting off any alarms. Bound as you are now, whatever power you planned to use will be inhibited by the restrictive seal in the bonds. And when the guards come, even if the alarm does sound, they will see only me, left in my bindings as before. I realize that this is a cruel fate for a gentle soul, such as yours, but I really cannot overlook a chance to escape this place. You understand, ne? I am grateful to you, Tetsuya. And I will be sure to see that you are freed as soon as it is safe for me to do so."
He paused, noting the strange lack of concern in Tetsuya's sapphire eyes.
"What is this?" he mused, "You do not look very concerned for a man about to embark upon a 20,000 year sentence, Tetsuya."
"I thought that you said that you would have me released sooner," the noble said, giving Aizen a teasing smile.
"Ah. I have...underestimated you then?" Aizen asked, raising an eyebrow. "You have no powers. You cannot be seen or heard by the guards and you cannot move. How will you upset my plans?"
"You should have spent more time, luring me into explaining my abilities," the noble said quietly, "I was certainly beginning to fall under your spell and might actually have given myself away."
Aizen stared as Tetsuya's slender body disintegrated before his eyes, splashing to the floor of the cell in a puddle of water. A moment later, the light in his cell flashed red and Aizen felt a stronger seal encompass the room. The door opened and Tetsuya entered the room, followed by a full detail of guards. Aizen smiled warmly at the noble as he was led back to his chair and bound again.
"You will need to take greater care of the seal on his own powers," Tetsuya directed them, "He was able to use hypnotic powers, although the seal on the hougyoku seemed to hold well enough."
Tetsuya's eyes held Aizen's steadily as the prisoner was bound again, and the guards left them alone.
"My apologies," Tetsuya said, still gazing into his one uncovered eye, "but I could not dishonor my clan by being the one who let you escape."
"I see," said the prisoner, "But will you tell me now? How did you escape? Was it your partner? But...he or she wouldn't have sensed anything. And no power can break those bindings from without."
"The bindings weren't broken," Tetsuya explained, "And although I could not use my powers, my partner was able to free me, using his. You see, my partner isn't actually a separate being, but the physical manifestation of my enormous fighting spirit. It cannot be contained within my body, so part of my power dwells in my stallion, Arashi. And being as one, he was able to invoke his power inside me and pull me to freedom, using waterforms I set before entering this place. He removed me from the cell, leaving a waterform behind, which shattered when I left, then he placed me in another waterform outside the cell."
"Ah, nicely played, Kuchiki Tetsuya. You are truly much more than I gave you credit for. But is this to be our parting? Will you not come and see me again?"
"We shall see," the noble said, leaning forward and kissing Aizen on the cheek, "One never knows. Farewell, Aizen Sousuke."
Even though he didn't look back, Aizen's sly smile followed him out the door. It remained with him as he quietly served the rest of the night outside the prisoner's cell, and as he left Central 46 on Christmas morning and found Arashi waiting for him among the snow shrouded trees.
He climbed onto the black stallion's sleek back and turned him in the direction of Kuchiki Manor, Aizen's smile and the hougyoku's voice still haunting him.
You think that you can walk away, but you won't be able to. You opened your heart to Aizen Sousuke, foolish noble, and bound thereby made your fate. Take care of the secret inside of you. Things will be much more dangerous for you now.
Tetsuya pushed the words away with an impatient sigh, his hand coming to rest absently on his abdomen as he rode, and his heart secretly enjoying the gentle swirl of Aizen's remaining heat inside him.
And somewhere beneath that slender, pale hand, a greater secret grew quietly.