Yamamoto was droning on and on about diligence and determination in the war against Aizen, and they were forced to listen since it was a strategy meeting, captain and vice-captain alike in a complete stupor. The old man stressed strength of character and forgiveness, telling them to have a merciful hand upon their enemies. He warned them to go into battle with eyes wide open.
“Because swinging your sword with your eyes closed isn’t the smartest thing to do. Eh, Zaraki?” Shunsui muttered under his breath, cutting his gaze at the taller captain across from him.
Nearby, Ukitake Jyuushiro couldn’t hold in his laughter, dark eyes sparkling warmly.
Zaraki snorted. “Seemed ta work awful well for those bastards Ichimaru and Tousen.” The eleventh division captain let out a bark of laughter, disturbing Yamamoto’s continuous and boring buzz.
The old man instantly paused, glaring at the two deviants, and Ukitake turned his laughter into a very believable cough, pretending he had just been ill the entire time. Zaraki barely managed a look of chagrin as he humphed and crossed his arms over his chest.
The aged commander cleared his throat with the intention of continuing his tirade, but a sudden and rather familiar reiatsu flooded the area around them, instantly grabbing their attention. As one, their heads swiveled to find the source, immediately centering on a location just outside the chamber door.
“No,” Soifon denied, shaking her head. “He would not be that stupid.”
Byakuya’s face was grim. “He just might be.”
“Outside! Everyone! Blades at the ready!” Yamamoto barked.
The entirety of the Gotei 13 rushed outside, prepared to do battle to preserve peace and justice and sanity. Hands were hovering over hilts of zanpakutou, and there was determination alit in many eyes. Finally, the ultimate evil had come to finish waging his war.
Why he had decided to come in person and directly into Seireitei itself was a mystery that they didn’t care to ponder.
“Aizen!” Hitsugaya roared, the first to arrive at the scene as he flitted far ahead of everyone else. “You will get your just–”
The young shinigami’s threat died in his throat as he took in the scene, only to skid to a sudden and complete halt as his eyes widened impossibly large. It was all Matsumoto could do not to collide with her captain, performing a clumsy pirouette of her feet, only to trip on the end of her sash and crash to the ground.
And still, Hitsugaya gaped.
The rest of the Gotei 13 arrived, and like the tenth division captain, they could only gawk at the spectacle before them.
They were under attack, or at least, they had thought they were. Surely, there was no other reason for Aizen to reappear in Seireitei with the other traitors at his side. Or in Tousen’s case, somewhat at his side. They must not have been on good terms any longer since the blind shinigami had been both gagged and bound, being dragged by Aizen, who tightly clutched the end of the rope.
“We surrender,” the former fifth division captain professed, and Ichimaru waved a white flag through the air beside him, which fluttered wildly in the nice summer breeze. “Can we come back?”
Many pairs of eyes blinked in stunned disbelief, clearly confused. Hands still lingered near swords, indecisive as to whether they should draw them. Perhaps it was all a clever ploy? Did he plan to trick them once more?
“Or a truce even,” Aizen continued gravely, brushing a stray strand of hair out of his face. “Just make it stop.”
Beside him, Ichimaru nodded in agreement. He waved his white flag a few more times, acting as if it somehow made up for all of their past mistakes.
Shuuhei, having noticed the fate of his former captain, started creeping towards the bound man. Perhaps he wanted to hear Tousen’s side of the story.
Aizen shifted where he stood, shooting his silver-haired companion a glance and silently ordering him to stop with the flag-waving. He then continued, noting the disbelieving stares that were being sent his way.
“You see, the Arrancar have discovered pop culture. They refuse to cease singing Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On regardless of what I threaten.”
He paused as several of the younger shinigami winced, while their elders merely looked confused.
After a moment, Aizen went on, “And Tousen’s vocabulary has degenerated to just one word–”
In the background, Hisagi made the mistake of removing his former captain’s gag, and finally, they learned the reason for it.
“Justice, justice, justice,” the dark-skinned man chanted continuously, his voice low and raspy from disuse. Apparently, he had been restrained for quite some time before Aizen had decided to make his reappearance.
The former fifth division captain rolled his eyes, while Ichimaru shuddered. “Gin misses his toothbrush, of all things, and well… my boyfriend’s not really into evil.”
The chorus of gasps that echoed around the gathered shinigami was nearly deafening. Aizen tightened his jaw at the sound before a low chuckle, assumingly meant to be surreptitious but resounding noisily, disrupted the shock.
Shunsui elbowed his lover gently. “If we had known he was into men sooner, we could’ve fulfilled your threesome fantasies. Eh, Jyuu-chan?” he whispered loudly, eyes flickering to Byakuya, who was given them strange looks. “Though, we could always try for Byakuya again, ne?”
The Kuchiki heir gradually began to inch away, wondering if it was too cowardly of him to stand that much nearer to Renji.
His vice-captain didn’t appear to mind.
However, Ichimaru chose that moment to speak. After his gaze had swept over the crowd, alighting on a very familiar face, his mouth split open in a very wide grin.
“Hiya, Ichigo!” he called out. “Nice ta see ya with your clothes on this time.” He flopped his thin, pale hand at the substitute shinigami with little subtlety, and it almost seemed like little sparkly hearts fluttered around his head.
Ichigo turned redder than Renji’s hair as he slapped a mortified hand over his equally mortified face. Every shinigami present whirled towards him as Rukia’s jaw dropped in utter shock.
“T–that’s where you’ve been sneaking off to!” she demanded, her voice slightly shrill. “But… but he tried to kill me! He tried to kill you!”
“So did yer brother,” someone, who suspiciously sounded liked Zaraki, muttered from the side.
Aizen sighed and pinched his nose, while Ichigo shook his head. He scraped his hand across the back of it, disheveling already disordered locks.
“I… uh… I…” the boy mumbled, not exactly sure how he was going to explain this, especially with the way everyone was gaping at him so vividly. Even the ever-composed Kuchiki heir looked dumbfounded.
And in the background, a voice still murmured “…justice, justice, justice…” in a never-ending diatribe.
“You bastard, let me go!” Hitsugaya’s voice rose above the crowd as he struggled in the grasp of the much taller eleventh division captain. He had recovered from his stupor in just enough time to remember how much he hated Aizen. The youngest captain wanted nothing more than to hurt the traitor for what he had done to dear, sweet, and innocent little Momo.
Zaraki grinned, bearing fang-like teeth as he held Hitsugaya up with one hand, dangling the smaller shinigami several feet above the ground. “Quiet down, pipsqueak,” he rumbled in return, single eye glinting dangerously. “I wanna hear this.”
“If I’d known that becoming a god was this much trouble, I never would have tried,” Aizen explained, attempting to gather their attention once more and direct it away from his… liaison with the Kurosaki boy. He wanted to sound contrite, but somehow, it just came out sarcastic. “It’s not worth it. Can I just… you know, not be evil anymore?”
And then, a voice rose above the crowd. It was loud and excited… but most importantly, distinctly female.
“Aizen-taichou!” the woman cried as she burst through the throng, darting forward with arms outstretched and a look of manic glee on her face.
In tandem, Ichimaru and Aizen shrieked in terror, nearly climbing over each other in a desperate attempt to find a hiding place. Tousen was left to his own fate as Aizen darted towards his younger lover, ducking behind orange hair. Meanwhile, Ichimaru took up refuge with Komamura, hoping that the much larger and furrier male would be his solace. The seventh division captain was too stunned to react, merely blinking his lupine eyes, whiskers twitching.
“Save us!” the two traitors cried, casting pleading eyes onto their onetime fellow shinigami.
In the background, justice had finally gone silent.
Yet, the bouncy fifth division vice-captain didn’t seem to notice their looks of abject terror. “You came back to me!” she chirped, skipping towards them. “I’m so happy. I love you! Let’s make babies!”
Both Aizen and Ichimaru paled as the cheery girl trotted their way, hearts bubbling in her eyes. However, that was only until she noticed her beloved captain was currently cowering behind Ichigo, who was rubbing the back of his head in an embarrassed daze. Suddenly, candy hearts became the raging fires of hell as her saccharine and kind tone turned to that of a rampant, snarling beast.
“You’re with that BOY AGAIN!” she howled with the voice of a demon, her hand immediately going to her zanpakutou at her side. Her cute face contorted into something that would make even a Menos Grande flinch away.
“Ieeee! GO AWAY!” Aizen begged desperately, not at all sounding like someone who had once tried to take over the world. He clung to Ichigo’s shinigami robes as if they were a lifeline, peeking over the younger boy with fear-filled eyes.
In the background, very disturbed by the strange display, Jyuushiro and Shunsui exchanged glances.
“Yare, yare,” Shunsui drawled, taking off his straw hat and waving it in front of his face. “The real reason for Aizen’s defection comes out.”
The white-haired man nodded in agreement. However, he was cut off from saying anything further when Momo’s enraged shout pierced the air, causing his ears to ring painfully.
“Don’t you know that I’m the one who loves you!” she roared petulantly. “I love you, not that freak!” She drew her blade and rushed at Ichigo, madness swirling in her once cute eyes.
Out of nowhere, two blurs attacked her, both covered in tattoos. It was several moments before the other shinigami could distinguish their identities, given the mass of limbs flailing about and the expletives filling the air. Renji and Shuuhei had jumped to Ichigo’s aid, and yet, it seemed that Momo had the upper hand. It appeared that cuteness was equal to strength when combined with the fiery hell of unrequited love. It presented a deadly combination.
Shuuhei received an elbow to the face, ensuring that he would be sporting a rather lovely black eye later. And Renji suffered a nasty gash across the back of his right arm. For a moment, the gawking shinigami feared the two men would be overthrown by the slight female. Thankfully, however, Kira decided to join the fray and save them from the humiliation.
He jumped in with a quick binding spell before throwing himself unnecessarily to the top of the pile. Momo crumpled beneath the combined weight of the three males, and an unnatural silence fell over the entire scene. Everyone was stilled, seemingly frozen in place.
A cricket chirped.
Yamamoto stepped forward, a pained expression on his face. His honorable eyes swept over the spectacle. He took in Aizen hovering beside the Kurosaki boy, and not even his aged gaze could miss how they were surreptitiously holding hands, fingers tightly intertwined. To their left, Ichimaru had a strained smile on his face, which was covered in fear as a very upset Matsumoto stalked towards him. That reunion did not look to be pretty.
Lying on the ground, still bound and looking quite pitiful, Tousen had stopped speaking altogether, much to the relief of the gathered shinigami. And beneath the pile of squirming male limbs, Hinamori Momo still struggled ineffectually, her cries of rage actually muffled by the pair of socks someone had shoved into her mouth. She wiggled around, almost managing to worm her way free before a sock-less Renji caught her foot, dragging her back.
Yamamoto sighed, rubbing his suddenly aching temples. Some days, it just didn’t pay to be the captain commander of the Gotei 13.
“Well, he did kill all of Chamber 46,” a voice ventured out of the crowd, thinking it wise to point out all of Aizen’s misdeeds. “And you know, the whole trickin’ us with his bankai thing.” The crowd parted to reveal a very self-satisfied Iba, even if he did look vaguely perplexed.
Shunsui snorted derisively. “They were a bunch of corrupt and useless bastards anyway,” he commented, ignoring the elbow that jabbed him in the side as Nanao adjusted her glasses. “Not much of a loss there. What did they actually do?”
“A big hunkin’ wad of nuthin’,” Zaraki muttered, watching Aizen and Ichigo with a wolfish smirk. “Kinda like the king.” He finally released Hitsugaya, whom had been reduced to gaping at his childhood friend.
The tenth division captain wondered if Hinamori had ever been sane. If not, she was really freaking good at hiding the madness.
Ikkaku frowned then, his forehead crinkling. “A king?” he piped up, having arrived at the scene after hearing the warning clanks echo throughout Seireitei. “We’ve got a king? I’ve never seen a king.”
Yumichika sparkled prettily at his side as he, too, contemplated the existence of that so-called king. Between them, Yachiru grinned, wiping at the bloodstain on her sleeve.
In the middle of the throng, his hands clasped behind his back, Yamamoto considered all of their very valid points. Silence fell as the whole of the Gotei 13 and a few stragglers waited for him to make his decision. The oldest shinigami frowned and then shifted his weight. He tilted his head to the side.
A breeze wafted by, carrying on it the scent of cherry blossoms.
Someone coughed into his hand.
It might have been Jyuushiro.
Yamamoto sighed, still blinking with confusion at what was perhaps the most perplexing mystery of the entire affair: Aizen and Ichigo, who had yet to release each other. In his old heart, he simply couldn’t blame Aizen… or maybe he was just getting senile.
It was probably the senility.
With a final sigh, the captain commander rapped his staff on the ground. “All is forgiven,” he announced. At least this way, he would only have to replace one captain instead of three. Perhaps he could finally convince the Kurosaki boy to stick around now.
A wind stirred before a brief and ragged cheer erupted from the crowd, its origin unknown.
“What a useless venture,” Mayuri whined, shaking his strangely altered head. “I’ve wasted a whole day.” He turned on his heels, stalking away with a brief flutter of his captain’s robe. “Come, Nemu.”
Soifon frowned, though it was difficult to discern from her usual expression. She was disappointed that there had been no battle, and beside her, Omaeda picked his nose. He was just glad that he hadn’t even had to lift a finger… or remove it from his nostril.
The crowd began to disperse with varied reactions, most indistinguishable from the rest. Aizen turned towards Ichigo, his arms slipping around the boy’s waist as he laid his chin on his young lover’s head. Meanwhile, Ichimaru made a strangled sound, struggling to breathe from his position on the ground, a very irate Matsumoto smirking with her foot on his chest. Nearby, Hitsugaya blankly walked over to the pile of limbs that was four vice-captains, blinking as Shunsui and Jyuushiro trotted up behind him. Tousen just sat dazedly in the dirt a few feet away, not even mumbling anymore, Komamura wondering what to do him.
In the background, Ikkaku continued, “A king? We have a king? Someone s’plain to me about this king! I ain’t heard nothin’ bout no king. Oy! Renji, who’s the king! Someone tell me! Who’s the king?”
…and somewhere in Seireitei, Yamada Hanatarou sneezed.