[Bleach] Minutes to Midnight 17

Whisper of the Apocalypse

Scriiiitch! Clang!

With a huff, Ichigo spun, his waraji barely clinging to the sand and trying to slide out from beneath him. He ignored his uneven footing, however, and swung Zangetsu in a wide arc, hoping that this hit would finally land.

In the brief moment it had taken him to blink, Gin had disappeared. And he was left staring at thin air. How the hell was the man that fast?

Gritting his teeth, Ichigo whirled, gaze darting around the area. His eyes widened, and he had only a split second to throw himself to the ground.


Shinsou went sliding past him, clipping the edge of his clothing and sending a fluttering of white to the sand. Ichigo rolled as he struck the ground, barely keeping a grip on Zangetsu. He was on his feet before he stopped moving, sweat dripping from his body and sand clinging to his clothing.


A burst of fiery flame, larger than he could control and with no real attempt to aim, flew from his fingers in the vague direction Gin had just been. A red glow filled the air as he felt his reiatsu explode. Ichigo didn’t waste any time seeing if it hit. He was already flitting in another direction in a burst of shunpo, furiously scanning the training grounds for signs of Gin.

The chuckle behind him was his first hint. “Yer gettin’ better,” Gin chirped. “That almos’ burnt my hakama.”

Gritting his teeth, Ichigo whirled, bringing up Zangetsu in enough time to parry Shinsou. Their swords met in a fierce, ringing clang that echoed through the sky. They squared off against each other, hovering a good dozen feet above the ground. Gin still smiled at him, perfectly calm.

“I’ll show you who’s better,” Ichigo growled playfully, quirking an eyebrow at his lover.

Gin’s grin widened. “Please do.”

There was a breath of wind, and Ichigo suddenly broke away, flitting backwards as his waraji dug furrows into the path he created on the very air itself. Smirking at Gin, he lifted Zangetsu, reiatsu swirling around him fiercely. There was only one way for him to keep up with the man’s speed.


The burst of his reiatsu would have knocked out any normal person. Gin merely smiled, the wave of power hitting him straight on but barely making his clothes rustle.

Ichigo growled on the inside.

He was barely situated, adjusting to the change in Zangetsu’s weight before the kidoh barreled towards him, some kind of series of fiery darts. He knew from personal experience that those things hurt like fucking hell. And he was in no mood to feel that ever again.

Getsuga kensen!

Ichigo was already counter-attacking, sweeping Zangetsu out and releasing the energies swirling inside of him. A wider form of getsuga tenshou burst from the blade in a sweeping semi-circle, fully able to obliterate anything directly in front of him. Including the damn darts.

That was what he loved about fighting against Gin. He didn’t have to hold back because he could count on his sparring partner to successfully elude anything particularly dangerous. Perhaps a bit too successfully since Ichigo usually lost these little matches.

He couldn’t ever go all out against his other friends. He feared hurting Ishida and Chad, and Renji sulked if he lost too much. Ichigo could only handle a first-class Renji-sulk every once in a while before he lost just to avoid the man’s pouting.

Gin and he had been sparring like this for the better part of an hour, Ichigo getting his ass kicked from one end of the training grounds to the other. There was no way around it. Gin was simply better than him, both stronger and faster. Though Ichigo was catching up. He was an even match for Stark now when he hadn’t been a few months before.

Ichigo hovered in the air, waiting to see the results of one of his newest attacks. It was something he had been working on with ossan. He strained his senses, trying to focus on where Gin would come from next. The former captain was a master of sneaking up on him, striking from the least likely position with the most surprising of moves.

“Yer gettin’ faster,” he heard his lover chime from somewhere around him.

The teenager frowned, whipping his head around. Where the hell was he?

There was a whistle of something, some kidoh that would probably sting like fucking hell. His realization came much too late, even with the speed of his bankai. Gin popped up from beneath him in the space of a second, blue and black eyes peering from beneath the white of his mask. He had only a millisecond to recognize the echoing quality of Gin’s laughter.

Kitsune-bi,” Gin chanted before Ichigo felt the full brunt of his lover’s favorite kidoh jam into his belly.

Ichigo grunted from the force of the spell, a curl of white-blue fire shaped like a fox rushing towards him and slamming him backwards. He went flying, the air whooshing out of him as he abruptly crashed into the sand, a great burst of dust rising in his wake. Zangetsu slipped from his fingers, skittering a few feet away.

His head spun from the abrupt blow as he struggled to draw in a breath, blue flame slowly smothering under his spiritual pressure. Ichigo groaned, shoving one elbow into the sand to rise but was thwarted when a shadow fell over him, the tip of a sword poised above.

“Looks like I win a’gin,” Gin’s voice taunted from above him, distorted but still essentially the same.

Ichigo narrowed his eyes and abruptly rolled out from under the blade, ignoring the pain in his abdomen. His foot swung out, sweeping against his lover’s knees. Gin grunted and faltered, which was enough for Ichigo to launch himself upwards. One hand grabbed his lover’s wrist, pushing it aside, as he tackled the older man to the sand.

They landed with a harsh grunt, Ichigo straddling the former captain. One hand pinned Gin’s wrist to the ground, the other splayed against the man’s chest.

“I win,” Ichigo huffed, still struggling to draw in a breath from the rough tumble he had taken.

Rather than concede defeat, Gin laughed and reached up with his free hand, prying off his mask. Ichigo only caught a glimpse of luminescent red irises before his lover’s eyes slitted again. It always amused him, how Gin’s eyes were blue within the mask and yet returned to scarlet afterwards. Both suited his lover perfectly.

The mask dropped to the sand, slowly cracking and withering away. “Maybe I letcha,” Gin teased.

Ichigo snorted. “You say that every time I manage to win.”

“Do I?”

“Yes,” Ichigo retorted in an insistent tone, poking Gin in the chest.

His lover laughed at him again and reached up with his free hand, tangling thin fingers in Ichigo’s hair and pulling his head downwards. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what the man wanted, Ichigo meeting him halfway for a hungry kiss. His grip on Gin’s wrist went slack, hand landing against the sand for better balance.

It seemed their matches always ended like this until one of them abandoned their superior position and dragged the other back to their room. Yes, one room. Ichigo had long given up on remaining in his. It was too bothersome.

Gin parted his lips, eagerly deepening the kiss. Ichigo slid his tongue into his lover’s mouth, hand sliding across his chest and slipping easily into the gap in his clothing. His palm encountered pale, warm flesh, causing the older man to groan beneath him. Gin’s free hand wrapped around Ichigo, pulling his body down against him.

They broke off from the kiss with a chuckle from the former captain.

“Tha’s better,” he murmured as their hips came in contact.

Ichigo rolled his eyes. “Pervert,” he commented affectionately.

Thin fingers again tangled in Ichigo’s hair, which he would have to cut soon. “Yer bleedin’,” Gin returned, sliding his hand down to trace a finger along the side of Ichigo’s face where a thin trail of blood was slowly starting to dry.

“My gut’s also twisted up, but you don’t see me complaining,” Ichigo responded with a snort, feeling the bruising on his stomach but also knowing that it was already slowly starting to knit itself.

“How true.”

And then, they were kissing again, open mouthed and hungry tangling of tongues that did nothing but increase the strength of their libido. Blood rushing through their veins from the rush of battle only heightened the lust.

Gin’s hand ventured from the small of Ichigo’s back, drifting further down, urging their groins into a slow grind that made his lover gasp into his mouth. That cute flush, which Ichigo still hadn’t managed to completely eradicate, spread across the teenager’s cheeks and the bridge of his nose. He decided to tease on his own, sliding his palm beneath the many layers his lover insisted on wearing and deftly finding a nipple.


There was a cough, barely filtering through their senses.

“I’d hate to interrupt,” a familiar voice lazily drawled, “but the boss wants to speak with you.”

With much reluctance, the kiss ended with a parting nibble to Gin’s bottom lip. Ichigo sighed and rolled off his lover. And in one smooth motion, he rose to his feet.

Gin peered up at their visitor through slitted eyes. “What about?”

Stark shrugged, idly flicking a hand through his hair. “Isn’t my business to question the boss. He just sent me to find you.” He flickered his gaze over them. “Not that you’re that hard to find.”

Swiping Zangetsu from the ground, Ichigo dissolved his bankai and returned his zanpakutou to his back. “We didn’t destroy the ceiling this time,” he countered, though he knew Stark was only teasing.

Of all the Espada, excluding Nel, Ichigo found Stark to be the most agreeable. They were friends of a sort. Much like he used to be with Ikkaku.

He turned away from Stark and offered a hand to his lover, helping pull him to his feet. “I think Numero Uno’s jealous,” Gin chimed with a smirk tossed the Espada’s direction.

“Of me or of you?” Ichigo countered, finding Shinsou and returning it to its owner.

Stark arched one brow. “How about neither? I have my own amante, thank you very much. I prefer them female anyway.”

“With ample assets,” the teenager inserted with a snicker, always amused by teasing Stark because the Espada was so calm. Even in the midst of battle.

“Then, why do ya keep walkin’ in on us?” Gin accused playfully.

The brunet whirled on his heels with a parting wave. “Well, if you didn’t insist on copulating wherever the mood strikes you, I wouldn’t be forced to stop you,” he threw over his shoulder. “Better talk to the boss soon. It’s important.”

Ichigo exchanged a glance with Gin, the two of them quietly snickering. A hand raked through orange hair, dislodging bits of sand and grit that had gathered.

“Important, huh?” Ichigo repeated.

“Guess there’s no time fer a bath then,” Gin replied with a lascivious grin, curling his hand around Ichigo’s waist and dragging him nearer. He pressed their lips together briefly.

Ichigo squirmed, knowing they didn’t really have the time. “Not that it’s ever just a bath with you,” he teased, though brown eyes were dark with want.

Gin chuckled. “How true, Ichigo. How very true.”


He found the feeling of fingers running through his hair to be simultaneously soothing and irritating, contradicting emotions. Not surprising when considering the owner of the touch, who was currently perched on the arm of his throne as if he belonged there.

“Must you sit there?” Aizen asked, feeling his eyebrow twitch.

The hand stopped in its motion for only the briefest of seconds before continuing. “I could sit on your lap if you want,” Urahara responded brightly, face hovering just behind Aizen’s ear. And though he couldn’t see his good friend’s face, Kisuke imagined the man had a familiar, amused smirk.

The lord and master of Hueco Mundo sighed. “We can provide you with your own, if you would like.”

“I like yours better,” came the simple response, Benihime tapping at the man’s side and creating a rapping noise that echoed throughout the throne room.

Aizen didn’t bother to repress his second sigh, wondering if perhaps he had made a mistake when allowing his dear friend to join him. Not that Kisuke had given him much of a choice in the matter.

“I suppose because I am in it.”

He knew Kisuke had to be smirking at that one.

“Of course.”

And the hand in his hair playfully traced across the shell of his ear.

Aizen Sousuke merely resigned himself to the situation and patiently awaited Gin and Ichigo’s arrival. He contemplated how much amusement he would derive from “accidentally” knocking Urahara from his perch and absentmindedly wondered how big of a dent the man would make in his floor.

The door chose that moment to crack open as both of his heirs stumbled in, covered in dust and some measure of blood, their outfits somewhat rumpled. Aizen arched one brow at their appearance, easily able to guess what they had been up to when Stark found them.

“It wasn’t urgent enough that you could not have changed,” he told them as Kisuke continued that infernal petting.

Aizen was already secretly plotting something irritating and devious in return.

The two exchanged a secret lover’s glance. And really, it was the most adorable thing he had seen in quite some time.

Ichigo shrugged. “Stark said it was important.”

“He thinks dinner is important,” Urahara snipped with a snort. “That is, when he’s awake for it.”

“Now, Kisuke,” Aizen admonished, casually straightening and no longer leaning against the arm opposite the shop owner. “There is no need for such petty jealousy.”

It was Ichigo’s turn to watch the exchange between the two with a skeptical expression. Finding it difficult to believe that were merely “special friends” as Gin had called it.

“But you did want to speak to us, right?” he asked, redirecting their attention.

Aizen inclined his head. “Gin, Ichigo, I have a mission for you. And I think you’ll enjoy it. How would you like to wreak a little havoc?”

Interest perked on both of their faces, though Gin looked ready to accept without even asking.

Ichigo, however, was a bit more wary than his lover. He knew the geta-boushi a bit better than Gin, after all. “What do you want us to do?”

Urahara stirred at the query. “I found out some interesting news,” he explained with a hint of bemusement to his tone. “It seems Mayuri’s not as useless as we all thought.”

“Oh?” Gin commented dryly. “How’s that?”

“He created a gate,” Aizen inserted with a small frown. “One that will allow Soul Society to freely enter and leave Hueco Mundo.”

Ichigo crossed his arms over his chest, looking years older as he contemplated. “I didn’t think they’d invade. It’s too forward and direct.”

“They’re not.” Urahara snickered, finally withdrawing his fingers from Aizen’s hair and shifting positions. “They are building a cannon to fire through the gate at Las Noches.”

“Fucking cowards,” Ichigo muttered, not surprised in the least. He looked up at his king with a smirk. “You just don’t want them to damage your palace.”

He was given that enigmatic smile in return. “Quite. Of course, there are other objectives I wish for you to accomplish.”

“Like what?”

The former fifth-division captain gave a faint gesture. “Gin undoubtedly wants to fetch his fukutaichou,” Aizen expressed slowly.

Gin perked up in interest. “Sounds good ta me. Is that all?”

“Should you find anything else that needs attending, feel free,” Aizen answered with an elegant shrug, basically giving them free rein for destruction. “It would be an excellent time to settle several scores.”

“I know a certain little taichou that’s been beggin’ fer a visit,” Gin murmured, more to himself, but Ichigo was in full agreement.

He nodded. “And someone does need to wipe that arrogant smirk from Byakuya’s face.”

The two shared another secret lover’s glance as Gin grinned. “We’ll just have ta make a list,” he announced.

Above them, Urahara chuckled. “Try not to destroy the twelfth too much, boys,” he warned. “I might want it back, you know.”

“I’m not making any promises,” Ichigo responded, thinking of his hatred for the creepy and slimy head of the research division. Ever since he had heard of what the freak intended to do with Inoue and Ishida, Ichigo couldn’t look at him without the urge to draw Zangetsu.

“And perhaps,” the shopkeeper added with a knowing glance to his student with shadowed eyes. “You might consider speaking to Kuchiki-san and Abarai-fukutaichou.”

Ichigo sniffed. “I’ll think about it.”

In other words, he had no intention of doing so, and Urahara knew it. He understood. Ichigo was still quite bitter with Soul Society and anyone possibly connected to it. Even if they were without the knowledge of their superior’s plan, he still found it difficult to entirely trust. Not when his family and friends had been in danger.

“When do ya want the cannon destroyed?” Gin asked, his face filling with an eager sort of anticipation.

They had been stuck in Hueco Mundo for quite some time, the passing of two whole seasons, without any sort of altercation with Soul Society. He was likely feeling a little stir-crazy.

“You can leave tomorrow night,” Aizen suggested.

Gin’s lips pulled into a wide grin. “Hai, Aizen-taichou.” He turned and grabbed his lover’s hand. “We’ve got a list to make, Ichigo-kun.”

“List,” the younger male snorted. “Right.” The reddening of his cheeks proved otherwise, even as he allowed Gin to pull him from the throne room.

Urahara watched their exit with a sobering expression. “You know,” he murmured, never taking his eyes off the two, “they’re going to kill Hitsugaya.”

“Of course,” Sousuke responded, drumming his fingers on the arm of his throne. “And with great reason.”

“Nothing less than he deserved,” the shopkeeper agreed.

There was a pause as the door closed behind the two younger men.

“But then, who among us gets what we deserve?”

Aizen made a noncommittal sound in his throat. “That, my dear Kisuke, is the question. Who indeed?”



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