“What you fail to realize, Tosen-san, is that I don’t make it a habit of mine to regularly observe Gin-san’s pelvic region— or any other’s, for that matter.” he replied dryly, interest slightly piqued as to both what the blind man’s logic behind his actions were, as well as why the Cuarta (of all people) had suddenly been consulted by the third in-command whom he’d barely exchanged a handful of words with prior to this.
“Allow me to make a conjecture, but are you perhaps referring to the sudden reappearance of Matsumoto Rangiku within Soul Society, as well as the interest that Ichimaru Gin has clearly taken with her?” he inquired blandly, apparently uninterested in that piece of old news. The Cuarta already had proper plans in place to execute the stupid woman should she ever even set one hair within Hueco Mundo, but Tosen had never projected himself as a patient man… perhaps there had been a new development that would cause him to become so urgent in the manner in which he spoke?
“What of it, Tosen-san?”
“You would accept any detail, however minute, eluding your gaze Ulquiorra-san?” Tosen replied calmly, careful to monitor his own levels of stress in regards to the current issue. “I have not come here to accuse you of fostering a deep longing for Gin’s pelvic region, or indeed any part of Gin’s body. You are Aizen-sama’s most loyal Espada and are not one to treat an issue with this level sensitivity with any mockery or humor. I would accept one with your standing to understand the seriousness of the issue.
Would we not be toying with fate if we lay in wait for the moment that Matsumoto Rangiku entered Hueco Mundo?” He allowed a moment for Ulquiorra to commit thought to the scenario, rather than brushing him aside. “Why should we allow a Shinigami who believes themselves better than Aizen-sama to enter his land and tempt his officers with her unjust curves. Is it not better to strike now- hard and fast, before Gin can be given a moment to doubt his choices?”
He frowned at the Cuarta’s suggestion that his senses had been inhibited (further) from an outside source. He had tried to avoid alcohol since opening ‘Blind Drunk’, considering consuming the substance to be unprofessional, and after all the lessons he had had with Wonderweiss about the ‘bad-things-drugs-make-you-do’ he would be a hypocrite to try them. Of course, he could not expect Ulquiorra Cifer to know all these details, so he replied to the accusation as simply as he could.
“Wonderweiss would not permit such actions, Ulquiorra-san,” he replied quickly, seeking to rectify the confusion. “I assure you that I am in a right frame of mind and the urgency behind this topic demands that we do not wander off into idle chatter related to the actions of Loly and Menoly, the taste of Aizen-sama’s newest tea, or why certain footage of the Septima exists.” He shook the thoughts from his head, forcing himself to stay on track for the sake of his friend.
“I do not wish to pull rank, but Gin-san’s genitalia is indeed at risk, or has this fact escaped even your all perceiving eye?”
“Harribel an’ Baraggan?! Ack, ya gotta be kiddin’ me! I hope she’s smart enough ta stay away from that grumpy old man, he’s done more bad than good these days anyhow.” The image alone in Gin’s mind made him feel queasy. Ever since he got into that fight with the Segunda last year, he tried to keep his distance from the old hollow king. He wasn’t looking to have to fight him ever again, really. Gin didn’t have the time nor the patience to deal with him; he’d rather leave such uncooperative Espada to Aizen.
As Tosen began to mention some sort of restaurant in the World of the Living, Gin felt his stomach start to growl in anticipation. He was pretty hungry, and thirsty, and just looking for a good meal in general. Drinking with Tosen would also provide for a lot of entertainment for the Second in Command; he needed to have some fun for once.
….Although, all of his previous thoughts were thrown to the wind as the ex-shinigami felt a surge of a very familiar reiatsu. Even though it caught him off guard, he pretended not to notice. There was nothing he could do about it, really, and more than anything he hoped that he wouldn’t run into any of his old shinigami friends during this outing. He wasn’t looking for a fight, nor was he ready to be in the presence of certain people again.
So, Ichimaru Gin did what he did best: he pretended not to care.
“Ice cream..? Yah, I like ice cream. I like anything’ sweet, really. Although I’d rather not share a cone wit ya…. that’d be just plain ol’ creepy, Kaname~” he grinned, laughing a little bit at the image.
“Creepy?” Tosen tried to imagine what would be creepy about sharing the Human desert. “So long as there was no touching-” he poked his index fingers together, acting out how the tongues may appear- “then there wouldn’t be an issue? In fact, I believe we may save some of our Human currency for more sake later if we were to share. Do you disagree, Gin?”
He was hurrying his friend along, grabbing his hand to make him walk faster. For a brief moment he had sensed the Reiatsu of a certain Shinigami whom he had hoped to avoid. It had been faint, and fleeting, but the presence was enough to warrant a suitable distraction. However, could ice-cream suffice? If Tosen’s suspicions were correct, with absolutely nothing to base them on but instinct, could a cone shared between two friends truly dissuade Ichimaru Gin?
He quickly turned around mid-step, causing Gin to stagger into him, roughly grabbed the sides of the man’s head, abandoning his hand, and kissing him. It was not passionate, rough or gentle; it just was. The was no emotion behind the action, only a way to distract Gin. Theft of the chocolate heart was not an attempt at romance; it was the path of Justice. This action- this kiss was the Just path, and he would hold it for as long as was necessary; until the Reiatsu had well and truly disappeared.
However, if Gin became more accustomed to the kiss, Tosen was not sure if he could muster the determination to distract the man for much longer. Truth be told, although Gin was not unattractive, this ordeal was very much undesirable, and made him feel quite ill.
Gin walked into the World of The Living with ease, a smile plastered across his face as he turned back to acknowledge his friend’s words. “That was a pretty crappy joke, Kaname,” Gin chuckled, “But I guess I gotta tolerate yer presence as well, ne?”
It was amusing to Gin really, the image of Tosen standing beside Aizen as his Second in Command, instead of himself. Gin couldn’t help but wonder what his life would be like if he hadn’t chosen to follow Aizen all the way to Hueco Mundo….—When he stopped to think about it, however, the mask that he wore seemingly fell apart, a frown pulling at his lips. Would he be happy if he had stayed? His life had become so filled with revenge, that he couldn’t focus on anything else. What was he doing? How was this plan of his helping anyone in the long run? He’d lost everyone he ever really cared for along the way, and never even stopped to consider their feelings.
Gin quickly shook such thoughts out of his head. This is why he chose to ignore his feelings; they only got in the way. He had adopted traits of a sociopath, masking his emotions so that they didn’t burden him while he tried to seek his revenge. He didn’t need a conscience, or to feel love and pain; such emotions were only a hindrance to Ichimaru Gin.
As Tosen spoke about a lack of surprise in Aizen’s life, Gin’s smile quickly returned to his face. “Maaa, that’s a horrible image in my head! I can’t see tha Segunda with anyone, really. If anythin’, he’d just have an affair wit that crown a’ his~” With a chuckle, Gin took in the slight breeze emanating from the human world, letting it push back his hair a bit.
“So, where we headed now? Ah, I know! Let’s go get somethin’ ta eat, an’ then get some of that human sake…~~”
He chuckled alongside the Shinigami, internally weeping. He had spent a great deal of time perfecting the joke; the content, the appropriate amount of humour and the timing. He had spent many nights doing stand-up comedy at ‘Blind Drunk’ and the patrons had found his material enjoyable enough. Perhaps he would attempt the same jokes when they had consumed less.
“I imagine that would be rather painful,” Tosen replied. He had felt the false King’s crown once before and memory did not depict it as a suitable substitute for a mate. “You would be surprised, Gin. Baraggan spent a great deal of time preparing a dinner for Harribel, and has in fact spent many nights meeting with Arrancar to find out her likes and dislikes. Whatever his desires may be, Just or not, I trust Aizen’s Tricera to resist the advances of such a pitiful creature.”
“From memory, I believe there was a fine Human establishment that-” he froze, absorbing the multiple spiritual pressures spread around town. He had expected a great deal from Kurosaki Ichigo and his comrades, but he did not expect so many to flock to Karakura town for their Valentine’s outings. Several identities were easily confirmed and there were considerable suspicions, but he could not dwell on them while he was with Gin.
“Do you like ice-cream, Gin?” He asked, smiling as if nothing had happened. Gin wasn’t particularly lacking in the ability to detect the reiatsu of others, he only hoped it would not cause a problem. “I could buy us a cone each? Unless Human culture still dictates that on a date a single cone is shared?”
Gin didn’t really need to put any effort toward appearing unaffected by Tosen’s words. The mask of deceit had grown so attached to his face that it had begun to feel like his own. Gin was surrounded by monsters on a daily basis, and the words that he had told himself over and over again when he was alone, in order to keep his sanity, were slowly fading away, growing distant, unreachable. The mask was cracking on his skin, being absorbed into his personality. He had spent so long beside the monster that he swore himself to kill, that he had become a monster himself.
“You abandoned childhood friends, a devoted lieutenant and a Division who looked up to you when you chose to follow Aizen-sama.”
These things were all true, and were facts that Gin had come to terms with. After all, he had spent years preparing for the moment he betrayed the Gotei 13, specifically Kira, his lieutenant, as well as his squad members… and Rangiku, his childhood friend and sweetheart. He showed no signs of regret while he looked over at Tosen with a smile on his face. In all honesty, he had buried those feelings long ago. Holding onto his attachments to Soul Society would only hurt him in the end, and complicate his plans. He needed to focus completely on the task at hand.
So, Ichimaru Gin pushed forward, his grin nearly splitting his face as his squinted eyes peered over at his companion. “I dun care about all a’ that, never did. It wasn’t part of the plan anyway, Kaname. I knew I would be followin’ Aizen-taichou before I was even a fukutaichou, or a taichou in the Gotei 13. So, being here is good enough fer me.”
“Where exactly would you wanna be, Kaname?” Gin questioned, one eyebrow lifting as he inquired about Tosen’s thoughts. “I’m sure there’s a million other places you’d rather be, without my presence surroundin’ ya~”
In response to Tosen’s comment about Aizen, Gin’s interest piqued a bit. It was funny he would say something so ironic; Gin was sure that his betrayal would surprise the God-King, and what would be even more shocking to Aizen was that he would eventually fall at the hands of the boy he had raised as a weapon. “I’m sure there are some things that would surprise ‘em,” Gin murmured to himself.
That was a point that he had overlooked; Gin’s time with Aizen-sama was a lot longer than his own. Gin had only been a child when they had met and from there the relationship had bloomed. Truth be told, Aizen-sama’s lieutenant had always been Gin, regardless of what the Gotei 13 and the Captain Commander thought about it. The unease had not left, but perhaps he could just narrow it down to jealousy? Did he envy Gin?
“In a perfect world, Gin,” Tosen began, splitting the Garganta open and stepping out into the World of the Living, “I would be beside Aizen-sama. I believe, should Aizen-sama’s plans succeed, I would stand by his throne while the world was reshaped. I would assume, however, that you would be there with us, and so I must learn to tolerate your presence.” He tilted his head slightly, smiling. “That was a joke, Gin.”
He frowned at Gin’s quiet remark. “I don’t believe you are right, Gin. Aizen-sama might be mildly amused by the workings of his Espada, but I doubt they surprise him. I think, if there were words to explain it, Aizen-sama is watching a movie play out, having already read the book.
“Unless of course you believe that he did not expect the rebellions and relationships to occur when he gathered the Espada? If they were truly a hassle he would intervene. No, the only real surprise would be if Baraggan and Harribel wed, and unless senses have dulled I think we may be saved from such an event.”
“Ack. Never liked that kid,” Gin mumbled under his breath. He knew Tosen was fond of Wonderweiss, however, so he decided to just let the topic drop for now. He listened as Tosen mentioned the blooming relationship between Harribel and Starrk, and just as he finally opened his mouth to respond, Tosen’s next question through him off-kilter.
Ah, so that was the reason. Gin was confused by Tosen’s sudden interest in his affairs, however the Second in Command knew to be prepared for any sort of trouble. He had left Rangiku behind a few months ago in order to protect her, and keep her safe… what good would it serve to go confuse her by coming back now? He left her without any sort of reason, he broke her heart, only to walk beside Aizen Sosuke.
She deserved better. He couldn’t provide her with the happiness she needed. Gin only caused anger, and frustration, and frowns to fall upon her lips. And he wanted her to be happy. If breaking her heart was what he needed to do for her to move on, then so be it. At least he’d be able to rest knowing that she could go on with her life, especially if he was to fail.
“No one,” Gin murmured lowly. He stopped dead in his tracks for a moment, wanting to get through to Tosen that he had no interest in spending Valentine’s Day with anyone or anything other than his thoughts. “It ain’t like I’m a popular guy, Kaname,” he smirked, hiding his true face whilst beginning to walk again. “Women aren’t necessarily fallin’ at my feet lookin’ ta steal my heart. I thought it’d be better ta keep to myself today anyways. Less trouble that way.”
Gin breathed out a sigh as he continued walking on the platform of Tosen’s reiatsu, inwardly hoping that they would reach their destination soon. It was hard enough to deal with the pain of breaking her heart, but it was even worse for Ichimaru Gin when he stopped to remember how happy he had been beside her. And how such moments were just dust in the wind now, ever fleeting. Gone forever.
“…Actually, I was a bit surprised Aizen-taichou decided ta jus’ skip town. He enjoys gossip as much as I do, an’ there’s gonna be a lot of it when all these dates are over, wouldn’t ya say~?”
When one found themselves lacking a sense as crucial as sight, often other senses would be heightened. Tosen often used the reiatsu of others to navigate around Las Noches, and when he was alone he would rely on smell, touch and sound. If anything, it was sound that helped him the most. He could hear the displeasure in Gin’s voice at the mention of Wonderweiss, and he could hear some untold truth in his answers.
He walked behind Gin, listening carefully, trying to discern some unknown secret that would clarify his suspicions. The modified Arrancar had always been wary of the Shinigami, but he had suspected that to be due to Gin’s alternative views of Justice. Wonderweiss was not the most perceptive child, and Aizen-sama didn’t feel that anything was wrong with his Second in Command.
“You give yourself no credit,” Tosen murmured, still following close behind. “You abandoned childhood friends, a devoted lieutenant and a Division who looked up to you when you chose to follow Aizen-sama. By doing so you gained the respect of a few Espada, and even more Arrancar. Respect gained from fear, perhaps, but anonymity is not a fair description of your status in Hueco Mundo. I’m sure you can think of somewhere you’d like to be.”
He listened closely, throughout all this, for any change, no matter how minute, in Gin’s breathing, heartbeat or even step. Something that would betray him. In truth he had no realistic reason to suspect his friend. As such, he could offer no accusation or challenge of loyalty. He had only these paltry tests and hunches. He gripped Suzumushi in frustration, biting his lip.
“…I believe Aizen-sama’s interest in our affairs is a weak hold to mortality. He knows all and sees all, and I believe he enjoys our reactions to information that could appear only trivial to him. Aside from the occasional substitute Shinigami, what could truly surprise him?”
”..Since when does Wonderweiss actually talk?” Gin questioned, not in a teasing or amused manner; he was actually very confused by the idea. The only words that came out of that creepy kid’s mouth were slurs and moans. Ack…. whatta weird kid. Just thinking about him made Gin feel uneasy. “Leave it to you ta be the one who actually talks ta him,” he chuckled, smirking at his friend.
“Starrk’s a good cook, yer right, I nearly forgot ‘bout him… but he spends most a’ his time sleeping, so it ain’t often anyone can get ‘em to cook.” Gin let out a huff before folding his arms behind his head, one hand gripping the wrist of his other arm in a means of comfort. He held this position for a while, walking on the platform made by Tosen’s reiatsu with ease.
Gin peeked over at Tosen while he went on about ulterior motives. He had a feeling there was a reason for his actions, after all, Tosen never acted unless it was absolutely necessary for him to do so. As nervous as the Second in Command had been about Tosen actually being in love with him, he wasn’t blind to the fact that there was most likely a more suitable excuse for the stealing of his chocolate heart.
“Oh~? Ya mean you aren’t head over heels in love wit me~~?” Gin laughed, trying to soften the mood a bit. After a brief pause, Gin investigated further. “So, why’d ya want it so bad anyways? The suspense is killin’ me…~”
“It is indeed difficult to communicate with Wonderweiss,” Tosen admitted. “But he is a pure Arrancar, designed to Aizen-sama’s exact specifications. He acts selflessly and is an instrument of Justice. It just so happens that the price of this purity is the curse of being.. well, rather simple.” He could think of no nicer way to explain Wonderweiss’ predominant issue.
“I have heard, as of late, that Starrk has eagerly awoken on occasion that he may spend his time with Harribel-san,” Tosen was unsure as to how old or new this news was, only that the Las Noches security cameras often picked up the odd private exchanges.” He had at first felt embarrassed to watch the everyday lives of the inhabitants of Las Noches, but it was necessary to aid Aizen-sama.
He paused at Gin’s question, somewhat confused. “I apologise Gin, but I was under the impression that you preferred to spend romantic occasions with women. Regardless, it might be that this question may strike you as an odd one; if I had not secured your heart, who had you hoped would?” He hesitated, hoping that the question made sense. It was a difficult subject to address.
Gin just stood there in shock as Tosen’s hand slowly brushed across his face. His eyes opened wide, his mouth slightly agape as he tried to figure out what he was to do in this sort of situation. He nearly dropped the wallet in his hand while Tousen continued this slow caress of his face, but after he was able to take in the moment and get over the surprise of his companion’s wandering hand, he shoved the wallet into his pocket and closed his eyes once more.
The Second in Command loosely grabbed Tosen’s wrist, dropping his hand down to his side. “That ain’t my wallet, Kaname,” Gin murmured in response, although he was unable to fight off the amusement in his voice. His lips twitched into a smirk, and he nearly let out a laugh. “And yer not forcin’ me to do anything, so stop that. An’ stop touching yer zanpak—….hey, how come ya get ta carry that with ya!? Ya don’t see me bringin’ Shinso along! Maaa, I thought this was a date!” he teased, folding his arms across his chest in feigned annoyance. Still, Gin followed after Tousen, stepping into the Garganta and waiting for his friend to follow.
“Wherever we go, there better be some good food. I gotta say, I’m gettin’ awful tired of the meals in Las Noches. Do arrancar even have taste buds?” Gin whined as they continued to walk through the dark. “I’m pretty sure they don’t taste-test the food they make us, at least.”
He hesitated, gripping the hilt of Suzumushi a little tighter. “If I did not bring my Zanpakutou then we would make easy targets in the World of the Living. However, I feel it inappropriate to have my guest armed.” He followed Gin into the Garganta, closing it behind him. It was eerie, this silence. He knew that his senses were just as useful as any others’ while he was here but it did little to alleviate the unease he felt whenever crossing from Hueco Mundo to another plain.
“I have heard only good things about Coyote Starrk’s culinary skills,” he answered, admittedly never having tried the Primera’s food. “Wonderweiss also told me that Ulquiorra Cifer was quite capable in the kitchen, although I worry about his sense of taste. I once caught him nibbling on the corner of a table..” He trailed off, struggling to remember the last time he had seen his innocent young friend.
“I must make a confession, Gin,” he quickly said, no longer comfortable with the facade. He turned around to face the Shinigami, not that it made conversing any easier for him, only that it might make things a little less uncomfortable. “I had ulterior motives when I stole your chocolate heart.” He spread his reiatsu out evenly, making a comfortable platform to stand on while they spoke. The emptiness of the Garganta would guarantee some privacy at least.
Gin inwardly cringed as Tosen placed his hands on his shoulders, and he couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was going through the other man’s mind. He was way too shy to ask him, however, so Gin decided to just keep his thoughts private. He didn’t want to hurt Tosen’s feelings by rejecting him, but he also didn’t want Tosen to be offended that Gin thought he was in love with him if he really wasn’t. It was a tough situation for the Second in Command, and he figured he would just do what he did best: bottle it up inside, never to let such thoughts be revealed until it was absolutely necessary.
The smirk spread across Gin’s face as he listened to Tosen talk. So, he messed up their dinner? He couldn’t say he was surprised; even Aizen made sure to never eat Kaname’s cooking. His meals always had a funny way of turning out rather…well, rather strange. “Ahah, that’s alright Kaname, ya dun haveta cook! This ain’t that fancy of an occasion anyway, ne? We dun need any dinner by the candlelight, we can jus’ go somewhere in tha human world!”
Yes, Gin favored that idea greatly. The more he could avoid any and all possible romance, or romantic ambiance, the better. Gin grabbed his wallet off of his desk before stepping outside of his room, locking the door behind him.
“I dun know that many places we could go ta eat though, really. I’m sure there are lots of places, so we can jus’ figure it out when we get there… unless ya got a place in mind~?”
“I can not allow you to spend your own allowance on this event, Gin-” he leaned forward to take the wallet off his friend, but instead grabbed something somewhat larger. It had a small lump on its front side, and his fingers brushed across two indents. He frowned, trying to figure out what it might be. It was certainly not a wallet. He moved his hand further across the object, noticing how it was rather cylindrical. He kept his hand on the side of this object for a few more moments, concluding eventually that it was indeed Gin’s face.
“Perhaps we should just wander until we find a place,” he murmured, pretending the mishap hadn’t occurred. “If you’ll follow…” He opened a Garganta at an intersection down the hall, where there would be more room. He stepped to the side to allow Gin to enter first.
“I’m still paying,” he warned, lightly touching the hilt of his Zanpakutou. “It would be unjust to force you here only to rob you of your money. Aizen-sama would think me a gold digger.”