Like it says in the Summary, this didn't fit anywhere in my fic, Torn, and so its here. Rated T for Ed's mouth and what comes out of it.
This fic is Disclaimed, and whilst the characters are not mine, the idea to force them together in this way was, so I'd appreciate your opinions on it.
"Why did you defect?"
"I didn't defect"
The room went cold as everyone went on guard and turned toward Ed warily. He sighed and explained. "If I never considered myself his soldier, how could I possibly consider my leaving any kind of betrayal?"
"Then why did you leave? I know you never followed him, but you did stay, for a time. So what made you leave, and why then?"
"I was… getting my bearings. The entire thing is a new experience to me, and I needed to know exactly what was going on with everything before I made any decisions"
"Ah… that is quite acceptable"
"Thankyou for the approval, but I really couldn't give a flying fuck what's acceptable. He annoyed me. I left."
"He… annoyed you?"
"What, you don't think he's not completely irritating? He's a fucking arrogant bastard! Sure, the man's a powerful prick, but so very stupid. He thinks that all Arrancar become instinctively loyal to the most powerful, because of their survival instinct, because they want a share of that power. He's made too many decisions based on the fact that he assumes all hollow are alike and instinctual.
But hollow aren't like that, not all of them. Those behaviours have more cultural aspects in them than any kind of inherent uniformity. Hollows have their own consciousness, and own conscience, and so those two states of mind can override their instinct, or support them. So it's not really our instincts, but our decisions. And yet he thinks he's got enough power to keep everyone meek as mice, and he has this arrogant little, self-satisfied smirk he gets and you know- you just know- that he thinks he's got you, and he's successfully played his little mind-fucking games with you and you haven't really noticed.
Like I said, he's in it for the power trip, and likes to think he can fool everyone with his little sword. For those first three months, all I wanted to do was punch the shit out of his arrogant head. Seriously, the man's worse than Mustang- at least he had skill"
Everyone was especially silent after that particularly long rant, wide-eyed with surprise that anyone had the lung capacity to spill all that out without taking a breath. Truly, it was one for the history books. Urahara blinked, then cleared his throat awkwardly.
"So, ughh… you left because he was justifiably arrogant about his power?"
"Justifiably?! Justifiably? The man had an ego larger than his spiritual energy! Weren't you listening to anything?"
"Okay! Alright! So we all know why you left. But… why would you return Orihime to us?"
Ed snorted, "You make it sound like she's property. She's not. And they had no right holding her under duress and making her closest friends doubt her loyalty… trust is something I value." his face darkened in memory, and many of the present shinigami- those involved in Ed's capture- shifted uncomfortably, "Orihime never broke your trust, but it was Aizen's plan to make it seem so. I didn't like it, so I screwed him over" his face brightened and he began digging through his pockets, "Oh, and I also stole along this pretty little rock. Aizen seemed to like it a lot, so I thought I'd take it just to spite him. His presumptuous ass was once again screwed over- I mean, the man thought he was so powerful that he could leave it in a glass case, on a pedestal, in the middle of the table and no one would have the balls to steal it? Idiot had it coming to him."
And everyone stared at the Hyogoku Ed had just pulled from his trousers and thrown carelessly onto the table between them. And while most spent the next five minutes staring in awe, Urahara looked upon Ed contemplatively. He didn't avert his gaze when Ed's eyes met his either. He only looked on, deciphering the steady, determined glint in the youth's eyes and realising that this was a man who could possibly be an extremely dangerous enemy… or equally powerful ally.
"You- do you even know what you've done?" Ishida looked as if he were about to have an apoplectic fit. Ed stifled his smirk and put on his most guileless expression.
"I know perfectly well what I did. Smug bastard liked the pretty rock. I stole it to piss him the fuck off. I think I've accomplished my goal" here Ed squinted like he was trying to decipher the shocked expressions, "Why? Is it important?"
Ishida's eyes were about to pop out of his skull. "You mean to say, you just walked up and took the Hyogoku and walked out, and you didn't even know what it was?!"
Ed cocked his head, "What's a Hogohok?"
"what's a- what… I need to sit down" and with that he flopped onto the ground and ended his extremely out of character rant with quiet ramblings about ignorant hollows. Ichigo peered at Ishida contemplatively.
"Hey Goldilocks, I think you broke him"
Ed choked, "G-goldilocks?!"
Ichigo's only response was a smirk. Ed scowled and reassessed his opinion of the man before him. And thus concluded that this guy was a prick. Satisfied with his assessment he went back to baffling the audience he had accrued.
"So what's so special about this rock?" he gestured vaguely to said rock. Urahara, who had been silent for a while- quite a feat in almost everyone's opinion- narrowed his eyes.
"You're an Arrancar aren't you? Shouldn't Aizen have tried to ensure your loyalty by using this 'rock' as you so eloquently put it, to give you the powers of a shinigami?"
Ed looked utterly befuddled; this time however, he was not acting. He truly was befuddled, "What, so you're saying this glowing trinket is the reason why a bunch of powerful assholes have gained the ability to summon big ass-swords at will? I was under the impression that that power was dependent on the level of spiritual energy an Arrancar has. Is that not the case?"
Again with the stares. Only this time they were annoying, because no answers came with them.
Kisuke Urahara managed to compose himself, and suddenly the calculating look he levelled at Ed was no longer merely inquisitive, but had the hunger of a scientist behind it. It would have made Ed shiver if he himself wasn't a scientist, and thus equally prone to those looks sometimes. Nevertheless, he still leaned backward when Kisuke bent down into Ed's personal space and eyed him slightly pervertedly.
"Then where did you get your sword?"
"I dunno. I woke up with it in Heuco Mundo. After my death. It was a car crash if I remember correctly. I was trying to save my brother" he was lying through his teeth, but only he and Al knew that.
Kisuke's eyes widened, and he too, suddenly felt the need to place his ass on the floor- possibly to stop his stomach from dropping further. He was distracted from enjoying the moment by Toshiro, who was now accusing him of something utterly redonk. That's right, it was so ridiculous it had become redonk (he had learnt the term from a particularly obnoxious teen… Keigo, was it?)
"You're saying you remember your previous life, and when you died you skipped every step in the process of hollowification and just… woke up as a complete Arrancar, with shinigami powers?"
"Repeating things people have already made obvious is stupid, Toshiro"
"It's Captain Hitsuguya!" he forcibly calmed himself "Regardless, there's only one conclusion I can come to that fits with this scenario." He took a breath, and when next he spoke, it was the tone police use when telling someone their loved one has died. Ed decided he wouldn't like whatever news came with that tone, "and the only thing that seems to fit is that you were created by Aizen as a spy. You probably don't even know it, and your memories were probably created too. He could be controlling you from a distance…" he trailed off as he realised many people were looking at him speculatively, as if trying to decipher what kind of brain injury he was suffering from.
Ed, on the other hand, was stock still. He had listened to Toshiro's paranoid suspicions with little reaction, except maybe a twitch of his fingers, like they were straining to strangle something. And the red haze that was slowly clouding his vision, but he suspected that only he noticed this. By sheer will alone (will can do many impossible things, like make people grow tall) he clamped down on his rage, instead fuelling his desire to violently murder the white-haired captain into the tone of his voice, as he tried for logic and reason, "Do you hear yourself?! I thought you were a prodigy? You're a fucking moron. I seriously worry for the future of Soul Society if these are your standards"
Drawn sword. "Excuse me?!"
Ooh, a challenge. 'bout fucking time.
"What you expected me to be polite when you just questioned my very existence? Fuck you! This is racism right here! You're being prejudiced; just because I'm a hollow you think I'm not capable of having morals and not being violent, and so when you find out something odd about me you just assume it's because I'm not real?" oh, he was on a roll now. Step back everyone, "Where the fuck do you get off judging the existence of people, huh? You don't even have your own body, but you're still here as a soul bound to manufactured flesh. How's that for created?" and suddenly he realised what he had just said, and sucked in a horrified breath. He quickly glanced to Al, and his heart dropped to his stomach as he took in the stricken face of his little brother.
Aww, crap. Now he had to apologize.
"Ahhh… Dammit. Sorry. That was over the line" he rubbed the back of his neck, "but I'm not- I'm no less real than you are." And then added with a growl, "and no one controls fuck over me" except for when assholes used Al as their bargaining chip, but he was certainly not about to tell anyone that.
Kisuke raised an eyebrow and shifted his gaze from Ed to Al and back again. Ed glared daggers, "Shut the fuck up Kisuke"
Whilst everyone consulted each other about this apparent non-sequitur with confused expressions, Urahara smiled slightly, thinking this was indeed an era in which powerful allies seemed to emerge. Ichigo, Al, and now this man…? Yes, the future of Soul Society was worrying indeed. But also extremely entertaining.