What was Aizen thinking when he asked Tousen to join him in his little endeavor?
Pairing(s): None really, only mentions of possible AizenGin and GinKira.
Notes: I came home from work the other day to find a lovely review from a reviewer named 'dot dot dot'. They were curious about Tousen's part in Aizen's plans, before the plans came to fruition. I was intrigued by the idea and decided to write something up. This doesn't exactly coincide with my other fic 'Breaking in the Reins', but it is suggested that while that story described Ichimaru's role in Aizen's plans, this describes Tousen's role. I'll also call it AU for the most part, due to the barely there yaoi element and possible odd happenstances.
Also, it's a little choppy, but I like to think that Tousen had little to do with the actual planning and was more of an afterthought, as if Aizen had decided at the last minute to take him with them. After all, what good is justice in a world where laws don't even exist?
The sound of silence had ceased to be deafening even before Kaname learned to speak to keep himself company. The brilliant darkness he looked through became a haven for his thoughts, a canvas upon which he could ponder life's mysteries and soothe his all-too-often-jangled nerves.
Blind, they had called him. Nearly useless as an individual because the world needed more fighting men, not men whose lives became reliant upon others to survive. Kaname Tousen never relied on anyone other than himself and those around him found it astounding, but they never seemed to find the time to tell him. They tolerated him, but it was entirely different. His arguments became pointless once he met Komamura Saijin and found in the similarly shafted man, a love for conversation and a companion who refused to judge him.
Within the Gotei 13, decades after meeting and befriending the now seventh division captain, the ninth leader still found it hard to relate to his shinigami comrades. He was never disregarded or left out of meetings or social gatherings and being a strong-willed person by nature, Tousen never turned down an opportunity to mingle, albeit quietly.
In the fifth squad captain, the dark skinned shinigami found an interesting ally, one who also shared his love for conversation but it never seemed to match that of Komamura's. No, Aizen's conversational themes piqued an interest in Kaname that was borderline obsessive. Day after day they sat together in the broad gardens surrounding the central court, Sousuke sitting formally as a wise teacher with Tousen at his side, resting comfortably as if he were listening to the day's news and not a recipe for absolute justice.
At Aizen's side sat his beloved fukutaichou, the boy's youthful, ever-smiling face brightening the elder man's afternoon while Tousen tolerated his odd behaviour and languid speech. He didn't hate the slur and hitch to Ichimaru's voice but the accent was entirely different again, something Kaname found hard to listen to for long periods of time. His fellow captain brushed it off as a simplicity of life and with a brush of Sousuke's knuckles over Gin's face; a scene Tousen failed to see but heard, oddly enough, the younger soul reaper got to his feet and scurried off.
“Even without your eyes, Kaname, you can see his beauty, can you not?”
The dark skinned shinigami nodded silently, tugging at a blade of grass as if it were anchored into the dusty ground. He had become aware of Aizen's love for his young fukutaichou nearly from the beginning of their comradeship and though he secretly detested it, he tolerated it for the greater good.
“He is very beautiful, Aizen-san, as you all are to me. Though I cannot see any you, the images of your faces burn into my mind as I hear your speech and learn your mannerisms.”
Sousuke seemed placated by this answer and he nodded imperceptibly, shuffling to his feet and giving a light grunt as he shook off many hours worth of leg cramp. Age had never seemed to catch him but occasionally, it did give him a squeeze that told him just how close it truly was.
“Would you care to continue this in my office, Kaname? Over tea perhaps? I believe Gin has prepared a pot for us and is finishing his paperwork as a good fukutaichou should.”
The very notion of a vice captain's duties was known to the ninth captain and he gave a light scowl after the elder captain turned his back and walked off, giving the impression of it anyway, as his retreating footsteps suggested as much. To the braided captain, it seemed like Aizen was purposely egging him on, causing a stir between them to see how he would react. Bragging about how diligent and devoted his subordinate was while Tousen's own spent far too much of his off-duty time drinking in bars and picking up the somewhat unwilling female shinigami who happened across his path.
Tousen had been considering a replacement but had declined to choose one as of yet, the candidates still so young and only just out of the academy. He had heard of a certain man, with a scarred face from a confrontation with a Hollow during a training session, who intrigued him to no end. His skill level and absolute devotion notwithstanding, according to the other academy students and a few of the proper teachers, Hisagi Shuuhei was justifiable.
The indomitable spirit of who was once the shinigami academy's most uproariously deviant students was like a blanketed fire, nearly choking Tousen as he entered the fifth division's main office. Hardly a moment had passed between the time Aizen had slipped into his office and Tousen had followed close at his heels, entering a well kept room scented with jasmine tea and a subtle hint of ginger. The dark skinned shinigami nodded as the elder man offered him a seat before the low table, his demurely covered eyes blissfully ignorant to the obvious look of fear plastered onto the young fukutaichou's face.
Sousuke, pleased with Gin's subservience, patted the boy's backside and gestured towards the desk after the tea had been poured, indicating without words that the vice captain should finish the paperwork while he had a friendly conversation with his fellow taichou. Ichimaru nodded almost imperceptibly and went to do just that, his head down as he tried to ignore the two elder males.
“The tea is jasmine, Kaname. Please, try some. It's before you there, on the right.”
His tone was again mocking and Tousen found it hard to suffer through, huffing softly as he reached for the steaming cup, not missing a beat as he scooped it up, sipped it and set it back down. No hisses of pain from the heat, no burned fingers and no spills. As he had perfected for himself in an almost forgotten lifetime.
“Thank you, Aizen-san. I appeciate your hospitality.”
The fifth captain waved his hand and took a ginger buscuit from the plate, biting into it carefully while pushing the plate towards his guest, watching the blind swordsman for any hint of recognition. The fact that Tousen surprised him by drinking the tea flawlessly was behind him as he watched him reach out in the exact direction of the plate, picked up a wafer-thin cookie and ate it quietly, not a single crumb falling from his fingers or lips to soil his uniform in any way. His voice breaking the silence caused Gin to jump and Aizen had to fight back a sinister chuckle.
“This game is old, Aizen-san. Many before you have tried, but I am beyond your limitations.”
“Sou, is that right, Kaname? I thought your methods of humouring those of us curious enough to test your skills had been honed to the point where it didn't faze you any longer.”
Ichimaru shuffled at his desk, tucking papers away into a file folder and starting the next pile, purposely busing himself more than he should so his blind guest was aware of his whereabouts. If nothing else, Gin knew that Tousen-taichou was suspicious of what he couldn't quite grasp.
“Formalities aside, Aizen-san. What have you asked me here for?”
The other man's absolute lack of couth or gentle good humour was the only flaw Sousuke could truly find in Tousen. The constant need for order and absolute perfection itched just below the fifth division leader's skin, demanding that he set the corn row toting shinigami in line immediately, before he made his move.
“Loyalty, Kaname. Your desire for justice and my desire for ultimate totality go hand in hand.” He sat forward slightly, certain that the younger man had noticed his movement even without seeing it outright. “Because I understand you in more ways than the others do, because I can relate to your desire and offer you a common goal for the both of us.”
Tousen blinked unconsciously behind his glasses, sitting ram-rod straight with his hands now folded neatly in his lap. The suggestion his superior was giving was dual sided, that much he knew. The gentle connotation of a possible breach in total Seireitei devotion hung between them like thick smoke.
“What are you suggesting, Aizen-san?” He spoke quietly, unsure of how loyal the other man's subordinate truly was. “How many I safely ask about the details?”
Knowing that his comrade was wary of Gin's presence, the elder man called the fukutaichou to his side and gave him a pointed look.
“Swear your allegiance to me, Gin. Allow Kaname to see how well you behave.”
The young shinigami swallowed audibly, enough so that Tousen could hear the click in his throat, a sign of weakness and fright that could hardly be misunderstood.
“I swear, Aizen-taichou. I'll never go against ya, or anyone ya tell me not to. I wanna help ya any way I can.”
The Kansai speaking shinigami's accent still irritated Tousen but he tolerated it again, choosing to believe the boy's words and nodding his acceptance, much to Aizen's delight and Ichimaru's relief. He bowed and hurried back to his desk, the very picture of a man being chided as a boy, though he himself was far from being a child any longer. For Aizen, it was almost a thrill to know that he could control a high ranking officer with such ease.
“Though I may regret it later, please explain the details to me, Aizen-san. To be called upon by you personally is an honour and I accept whatever challenge you may be setting upon me.”
The tension in the room lifted quickly and was replaced by something darker and more tangible, a presence that the ninth captain neglected to take into account. Aizen's reiatsu was like a fourth body, pressing upon him and demanding his attention. The sinister force abated somewhat as Gin gave a light squeak, his body almost limp on the heavy desk chair, too weak to repel his captain's powerful spiritual energy. Sousuke chuckled and dropped his voice to nearly a whisper, distrustful of his subordinates outside of the room, as well as eavesdroppers below the windows.
“It involves our betrayal of Soul Society, Kaname. I'm planning on causing a scene that the entire populace will remember for years to come. The destruction of the brain behind the Gotei 13, the retrieval of a certain object hidden from us by an old comrade of mine and the creation of a new legacy.”
It took almost eleven years for Tousen to finally agree to Aizen's conditions. Five to think it over, four to make the preparations and two to detach himself from everything he had come to enjoy, appreciate and look forward to.
Less than four weeks before what could be called summer in Soul Society, the dark fifth squad captain clapped Kaname on the back and celebrated their joining with a drink. Needless to say, Ichimaru never forgot that night. The pain of being forced down by his captain's reiatsu and the utter disdain that tugged at his heart because Aizen had chosen another to serve with them, etched into his memory like a rancid burn.
Once the blind taichou had left for the night, back to his sullied division, with its spurned reputation over the former vice captain's dalliances and the new vice captain, a virile young man fresh out of the academy, Gin made his presence known a second time that evening, the messiness cleaned up from the small celebration. His lover, though Sousuke loathed the word and preferred to refer to Gin as his consort, looked up from the long divan he had chosen to lie upon, one arm draped over his forehead while the other hung down enough so that his knuckles brushed the highly polished floor.
“Is something wrong, Ginyanote?” He asked softly. “You look as if you've got something important to say.”
The boy, though more a man now than ever but forever shadowed by his captain's age, sighed quietly as he knelt beside the elder man, his head bowed somewhat. Giddy and outspoken when given the chance, Ichimaru was oddly humbled when alone with his taichou.
“Why do we have to take Tousen-taichou with us? Ain't he a liability?”
“Why would you assume him to be a liability? Have I ever suggested that?”
The younger shinigami shook his head, getting to his feet and turning to leave, huffing suddenly as Aizen caught his wrist and wrenched on it rather viciously, causing the silver-haired swordsman to turn in alarm.
“You keep silent about this, Gin. I'm counting on you to be by my side when we make this journey. Kaname may want justice and his personal reasons for deciding to join may conflict with my own in the end, but no one is to know about this until the day we leave. Is that understood?”
He had heard the speech from his captain a thousand times in the past, each time with a different pain attached to it; his arms behind his back, a firm hand in his hair tugging the strands out by the roots, or a more personal invasion he yearned for but was seldom allowed to experience, especially now that defection had taken up permanent residence in Aizen's mind.
“Hai, Taichou.” He whispered, giving his arm a small tug and walking away as he was released.
A strong man by chance and a giddy child by nature, Ichimaru found it hard to believe just how beaten down he had become and though he hated himself for it, it also brought along a keen sense of belonging, as if he had been conditioned to be Sousuke's right hand from the moment he had first joined the Gotei 13.
In the hall outside of the fifth captain's personal quarters, Kaname pursed his lips into a tight smile, starting to walk away again as he had stayed to hear the young subordinate's take on the events, knowing that he wasn't accepted by the fukutaichou and honestly ignorant of it. If two grown men with similar ambitions decided to make a stand for what they believed in, what say would Ichimaru really have?
“Good evening, Tousen-taichou.” The guard at the gate spoke quietly as the corn row toting shinigami passed him. Kaname gave him a sleight nod and continued on his way, determined to return home and think over just what Aizen had told him. It was late enough that he could go straight to his home instead of back to the squad house and as he neared the building, he turned to look over his shoulder, the barest hint of familiar spirit energy haunting him from behind.
He doesn't even have to fully turn around to confront his stalker.
“Ichimaru-fukutaichou. I suggest you return to your barracks before nightfall is entirely upon us. A curfew is in effect during the week, is it not?”
Gin stood his ground, his zanpakutou sheathed and at the ready, tucked expertly into his obi. “I won't lie to ya, Tousen-taichou. I don't trust ya.”
The elder man turned this time, staring the smaller swordsman down with something akin to a scowl, due to his visor hiding his true expression.
“Are you suggesting that my intentions aren't noble? Have you forgotten that I am in a social standing much higher than your own and as such, you must adhere to rules between captains? You have forgotten yourself, Fukutaichou. Again, I suggest you return home. I have nothing else to say to you on this matter.”
“I ain't finished with ya!” Gin hollered. “Ya don't know Aizen-taichou like I do. He'll expect a lot from ya and ya can't just ignore him to do what ya wanna do for yourself.”
“What are you saying?”
“It ain't a free ride, Tousen-taichou. I don't think ya know what you're gettin' yourself into.”
Kaname scowled in disbelief, intent on telling Aizen of his subordinate's infraction, choosing his beloved justice over common sense, hurriedly flash stepping away from the angered vice captain. Gin grinned darkly, his eyes hidden by the smiling slits everyone had slowly become accustomed to, his little game taking shape at a wonderfully fast pace.
The banishment of Urahara Kisuke and his second division comrade threw both a wrench into Aizen's plans and a lifeline he knew he could not avoid and must take hold of. The Hogyoku, the orb of distortion that the blond captain had created, had been lost. The wrench had been thrown. Years later, after countless hours spent trying to find it, it was almost dropped into the brilliant taichou's lap, in the form of a wild young girl with the rank of nobility.
The day of the trio's ascension, Tousen's vice captain, blindly devoted Shuuhei, was too injured to watch his taichou betraying the entirety of Soul Society, his spiritual energies drained to a lethal point by the eleventh squad's arrogant fifth seat. Kaname hardly even thought of his subordinate as he left with Aizen and his consort, aware that he was breaking all of their homeland's laws, as well as Hisagi's heart. The younger man didn't love his captain in the traditional sense, but devotion and the desire to do well by his sempai ran along the very same lines.
Darkness surrounded the group as the window between Soul Society and Hueco Mundo closed, Tousen's blindness keeping him ignorant to the change, other than the temperature, which seemed cooler by measurable degrees. Ichimaru, now a conniving and evilly cruel bastard due to Aizen's constant conditioning, refused to smile. He turned away from the other men and started walking towards the grand set of buildings that would house them for the coming months, his sleeves flapping in the desert-like breeze while his inclined head kept his hair from blowing away from his face.
He missed his beloved fukutaichou. The blond had not even been there to see him off. The silver haired shinigami ached inside, battling himself over whether or not his little toy had even felt anything for him, as the great gaping maw of the Hollow doorway closed the distance between them. Ichimaru was hardly as emotionless as people were given to believe but at a time like this, when his hope was torn between serving Aizen to the best of his ability and missing his young subordinate, only a face like a blank slate and the chance to kill something out of sheer frustration kept up what little spirit he had left.
The change in his demeanor was seen by Sousuke and he grinned, knowing what pained the younger man but choosing to ignore it in favour of addressing his newest comrade, though the dark skinned captain could feel the animosity still radiating from Ichimaru and the obvious preening nature of Aizen's energies.
“We did it, Kaname. How do you feel?”
“Awed. It took less time than I had anticipated.”
Sousuke knew that despite his agreeable nature and eagerness to 'do the right thing', Tousen did not entirely trust him, nor did he trust his former fukutaichou. Turning to watch Gin's retreating form and the approaching figures that resembled great shadows cast onto the sun-bleached land, Aizen felt as if he had won.
The battle, if not the war.
Tousen felt as if he had just entered a previously bloodied battlefield, filled with ruined corpses and a landscape better suited for a massacre.
They had only just arrived, but the ninth captain did not know why the overbearing feeling of losing something dear to himself weighed so heavily upon his shoulders. How did the others tolerate it so easily? Why did it stink like the ghastly aroma of failure and subjugation?
Watching Aizen disappear into the largest of the palace's buildings gave him a good idea, as the hollows surrounding the doorway parted to allow him room, following immediately afterwards once giving Ichimaru his own space. Gods of a new world, Tousen's mind told him. Surely he could fit into their mold if given the chance. He had been bestowed a gift by the fifth captain; the chance to better himself in a world where justice could surely be taught as law.
If not law, then a suggestion that must be enforced upon the rest of the known worlds. Starting with the living world...