Thank you all for the wonderful reviews, and thank you for your patience, I was really stuck as to where to take this chapter, but thanks to an idea from NGBW I was able to pump this chapter out. It is a little short, but I hope you'll forgive me!
Over the course of the next few weeks, Ichigo's school time table became more cluttered, and between his shifts hunting Hollows he spent very little time at home, which Aizen found much to his dismay he didn't particularly like.
To distract himself from the absence of his host, Aizen took more shifts at his place of work, bringing in decent pay packets which he found he did rather enjoy. There was something about making money he could get used to, probably because he had learned quickly that the more money a person had in the World of the Living the more powerful they were. And power was and always had been his love in life.
Opening a bank account had been a somewhat difficult task considering that he didn't have a birth certificate or any form of identification, the only thing he had was a couple of letters from his job and they weren't quite enough.
Thankfully, Ichigo had sweet talked Urahara for him, and although he hated to ask for help especially from that man, the blond had been rather helpful. He had left the Shop with a passport, birth certificate and a driving licence. Although he wasn't sure what he was meant to do with the last article considering he didn't know how to drive and didn't own a car to learn.
Still, it had made things a little easier, he was fascinated by the mannerisms of the human world, the way transactions were made with money from his job to his new bank account, and for certain the money was raking up. It was a steady increase but considering he was barely touching it the amount was getting bigger and bigger with each payday.
Even if he didn't ever convince Ichigo to give him back his powers... Perhaps there was a life to be had in this world.
Ichigo rested his chin on his hand, his tongue poking out between his lips as he concentrated on his essay; sparing a quick glance at the clock to check how long he had left he cursed as he realised he had just fifteen minutes to complete the mock test.
Since Aizen had settled in, his study periods had gone a lot smoother, and considering the man's intense knowledge his own was steadily inflating to the extent he was able to provide fresh information in his classes and express his opinions a lot better.
Needless to say, that had really rubbed Ishida's nose in it. The Quincy had never been as infuriated as he was when Ichigo began to show a sense of aptitude. He much preferred it when the man was senseless, it made him look intellectual compared to him; not that he was dim himself but he liked looking smarter than everyone else. And Ichigo's sudden intelligence was snubbing his brain power.
He had detected peculiar alterations in the man's persona: seeing him concentrate on his work; seeing him taking more notice of the people around him; seeing him smiling more often and watching him curiously as he walked with a lighter step than before. He had not seen his friend looking so light-hearted since before the death of Masaki. What on Earth had happened to change him so dramatically?
Ishida was intent upon finding out, even if he had to stalk the strawberry until he found the answers.
As such, that evening when school finished, the Quincy purposely hung back, making himself pack his books away extra slowly so that he could keep pace with Ichigo; watching him leave the classroom behind he trailed him, he knew his friend wouldn't sense his reiatsu so all he had to do was remain out of sight.
He wasn't sure what he was looking for, but the kind of changes Ichigo had displayed... Maybe he was getting laid? Either way he just wanted to know, he hated not knowing things.
The walk towards the Kurosaki Clinic seemed especially long because of his mission, having to duck and dive out of the path of the strawberry's gaze, who seemed to sense someone watching him, most annoyingly. He had forgotten that Ichigo's impressive battle experience led him to have a slight sense of his surroundings when he was in his Human form as well.
However, finally, Ishida ducked down behind a wall as Ichigo made the walk up the garden path towards the front door of the Kurosaki household. Ishida peeked over the top of the wall and watched curiously, tilting his head slightly as he watched the front door open from the inside despite the fact that he knew the entire Kurosaki family had gone on vacation and left Ichigo alone.
That was another thing he couldn't understand, if Ichigo had the house to himself for god only knows how long why was he hanging out on his own? He hadn't thrown any crazy parties and he hadn't even invited his friends over to stay for a few hours. In that sense he had completely isolated himself.
The thought died in his mind as he watched the tall and lithely muscled figure of Aizen Sousuke step out of the front door to great the strawberry. He felt his mouth go dry as the pair exchanged smiles before the brunet leaned down and pressed a kiss against the younger's cheek before they both retreated inside the house.
"Well damn..." the Quincy breathed, "He is getting laid. By the enemy!"
Ichigo sighed as he dropped his back in the hallway, smiling weakly at his house guest as he slid his shoes and jacket off before he plodded towards the lounge to relax.
"Is everything alright Ichigo? You look tense." The brunet offered curiously.
"Ishida followed me home," he stated, "Stupid ass probably didn't even think it was possible I had detected him."
"Your friend? The..." he paused and considered what he knew about Ichigo and his friends, "The Quincy boy, son of Ryuken and grandson of Sōken?"
"Yeah that's the one," Ichigo agreed, no longer shocked by the man's infinite knowledge of his friends, it was the normality now, "He's so up himself he doesn't even realise I have been learning to sense reiatsu."
"You have?" Aizen asked without thinking.
The strawberry flashed a smile, "It is going pretty slowly, and I can only sense reiatsu when it is really close to me, but Urahara's been pretty patient about it."
"Huh, well, congratulations. That is a big step from what you were like beforehand, and yes I realise that sounded patronizing. I apologise." He smiled and sighed as he finished talking.
"Not at all, you're right, I was hopeless at it! When we first met I couldn't sense you at all! But I was gradually improving as time went by, by the time I fought Gin in the false Karakura I was able to sense things. But only you. I could feel your reiatsu... Even when I could sense nothing else." He shrugged, "And now I am developing that! It is all good! I have the promise of a sparring match with Byakuya when I visit Soul Society next and he is going to assist me in strengthening the defences of my Bankai, and Kenpachi wants to fight me as well; I'll probably take him up on it because the Hollows that have been invading the area recently have been really weak and I need to have a bit of a challenge sometimes!"
"I am pleased you are improving so much, you should be proud of yourself I believe you were able to sense me because we were at a similar level. As much as it bruises my pride to admit it," Aizen chuckled and handed him a cup of tea as he joined him on the couch, "What are you going to tell the Quincy boy?"
Ichigo considered it for a moment, "I guess I will have to tell him the truth before he goes blabbing it around to Inoue and Chad. I know those two will understand but I would rather keep a lid on this until necessary. I'm shocked they haven't seen you on the way to and from work to be honest."
"Orihime-san did get on the same bus as me about a week ago, however I had my brief case and used it to my advantage." The brunet said truthfully, "If at any point my staying here becomes a problem just let me know, we can arrange something else."
"No, don't be stupid. I... Like having you here." He said hesitantly, "... My friends will either accept it or they won't, that's the way they are. I can see them disagreeing with my willingness to prove assistance but in the end they will accept that it is my choice to make. And they will support me. It's what we do."
Aizen nodded once, "Alright then, thank you." He smiled slightly and sipped his drink.
Ichigo opened his mouth to speak when he heard an urgent knock at the front door, "Ugh, three guesses who that it?"
"Hm... Could it possibly be..."
"Never mind." The strawberry scoffed, thrusting his mug of tea into the brunet's hand before he got up to answer the door.
Taking a breath as he rested his hand on the door handle, Ichigo gathered his courage and opened it slowly, forcing a smile as he found himself face to face with a flustered looking Quincy.
"Afternoon Ishida, did you finally detangle yourself from that wall?" he asked casually as he stepped aside and allowed his fellow student into the hallway.
"What wall?" he feigned surprise before he looked towards the lounge, "Ichigo what is going on?!"
"Not that it is anything to do with you," the strawberry breathed, "Central 46 asked me for help, and I accepted. I have a house guest, would you like to say hello?"
"No I don't want to say hello!" he exclaimed, "That man is a killer and a twisted specimen of evil!"
Shaking his head, Ichigo pinched the bridge of his nose, "See this is why I didn't tell anyone. You are overreacting."
Ishida grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him in closer, "Overreacting?! Have you forgotten what that bastard did to Inoue-san?! Have you forgotten what he tried to do to Kuchiki-san?! He tried to kill us all and you're... You're... Fornicating with him?!" he half-yelled half-hissed.
Ichigo's eyes widened in genuine surprise at his words, "F-Fornicating?! I most certainly am not!" he protested, "Besides... What business is it of yours?! I've made a choice now suck it up!"
"I saw you kiss on the doorstep!"
"No you didn't! You saw him kiss my cheek!" he snapped, "Ishida I'm doing a good thing here by helping Central 46 and by helping Aizen. I believe he can be... Rehabilitated with some assistance and that is what I am doing. I would have thought you would be all for giving people second chances considering the number of them you had!"
"What is that meant to mean?!"
Ichigo threw and hand through his hair in exasperation, "Nothing! It meant nothing... Look, Ishida, I don't want to argue with you. Just... Try to understand that I am doing this for the greater good. If you want to tell Inoue and Chad then go ahead... But none of you are going to change my mind."
"Why have you been so different?" Ishida asked suddenly, his voice slightly quieter as he nudged his glasses up his nose.
"You've been different. Happy... Like you don't have the weight of the world on your shoulders anymore..." he paused, "Is it because of him?"
Staring slightly, the Substitute Shinigami glanced towards the lounge and then back at his friend, "Maybe, I don't know for sure. I know that, when he hasn't got his stupid power complex issues going on he is a decent man and he is a lot like me. We get along, we understand each other and... It is nice to have someone who honestly gets me hanging around."
"Just... Just be careful okay? He's still a snake, if it is profitable for him to do so he will turn on you eventually. So... Watch your back. That's all I'll say on the matter." The Quincy conceded and shrugged gently, "Inoue-san and Sado won't hear about him from me but you need to tell them, not least because of what he did to Inoue-san, she deserves to know her one time kidnapper is in town and is living with the boy she has had a crush on for years."
Blinking slightly at farewell statement, Ichigo watched as the Quincy turned on his heel and stalked out with so much as a backward glance at him. He opened and closed his mouth for several moments before he finally walked over and closed the door again.
None of that conversation had been like he had anticipated. For one, he hadn't expected Ishida to give it up so easily, he was never one to simply lie down and take things like a doormat. That entire conversation had been simply awkward and weird, not to mention abstract.
And what the hell did Ishida mean 'the boy she has had a crush on for years?' That was stupid. Inoue didn't have a crush on him, he would have noticed right?