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I will not fail you Aizen-sama. I will not fail you Lilinette.

Starrk fought harder than he'd ever fought in his life. The aching void in his mind and soul was agonizingly painful but only spurred him on to greater heights. He would not lose. He was going to kill this man…

That thought brought more pain. After all his years as a hollow, Starrk loathed death with a soul deep intensity. And yet, he'd sworn to do this. Stand beside his comrades. Fight for Aizen-sama. Lilinette…

The blow that took him across the chest was fatal. He knew it instantly. But his mind screamed a denial and with the very last of his strength, a thin light of blue erupted from his hand. It was like a cero but also not and it slashed through the surprised shinigami's guard. Grey eyes widened as he took his own lethal wound, directly through the chest. Then they were both falling from the sky, droplets of blood flowing behind them.

Starrk hit the ground hard and was aware of the doppler thump, his opponent falling beside him. He calmly waited to die, content yet pained by what he had done. He had taken a life. He had fulfilled his debt to Aizen-sama and avenged his Lilinette. He was dying, but that was meaningless. In fact, he preferred it. Anything to be with Lilinette…

Then he became aware of something and cursed himself. His stupid body was attempting to regenerate. It was doing so by attempting to devour the shinigami he'd just defeated. The man was still dying, just as he was dying, and Starrk vaguely became aware of a second heartbeat. A second set of lungs, struggling for breath as they were filled with blood. A startled awareness, turning towards him.

What… is… this…? The thought was fragmented, more images than real words. But Starrk got the gist.

My apologies… taichou-san… my body… is reluctant… to give up… His own thoughts were nearly as badly fragmented as he choked, feeling the horrible cracks spreading from his hollow hole. Such a bad place to take a blow. It is… trying… to eat… you… not… working… His strength was fleeing too rapidly. His desperate, hungry hollow reiatsu had made a connection but it was not enough. They were united in pain, falling together into death. Strangely, the thought was comforting.

Ah. Starrk could feel the other man relaxing, accepting the inevitability of what was happening to them. How strange. I am not alone… That thought made Starrk's breath catch in his throat. Because it was true. This was their final moments and somehow, miraculously, they were not alone. They had been enemies but it hardly seemed to matter now. Not with their final moments upon them.

No. It is amazing. Starrk gazed up at the bright blue sky, feeling their hearts struggling in tandem… then failing, also together. We are not alone…

Never alone.

Many years later.

"Fuck." The young man muttered as he looked at his target. It wasn't going to be easy.

"Is this a good idea?" His brother said worriedly and he suppressed the urge to snarl. Instead, he just gave the worry-wart a pointed, unpleasant truth.

"At the moment? Probably not. In the long term, with possible starvation on the horizon? Yes. It's a good idea." That was the ugly truth of the matter and his brother paled a little before nodding. "Are you with me, Shunsui?" He asked and his twin nodded, his grey eyes firming with resolve. Then the other boy turned his attention to the strategic problem, which was a relief. He was better at such things.

"If we're really going to do this, I think the best way would be through that skylight." He said and Starrk tilted his head to catch a glimpse. "Getting on the roof will be tricky but I think we can do it."

"Alright. Let's go." If they were going to do this they really should get started. Sorting themselves out, they found a good place to deploy the grappling hook.

The two young men were thieves and they had been for quite some time. They were twins, born to a woman in the Rukongai. She'd been astonished and unhappy to discover that her two boys were powerful enough in reieryoku to require feeding. Luckily for them, she had loved them enough to make the attempt. Many children like themselves were abandoned to die, in the warrens of the Rukongai. The shinigami tried to discourage it, even took such children to orphanages in the Seireitei, but they couldn't get them all. The world was hard, sometimes.

However, despite all she could do, their mother had been forced to push them out of the house at a young age. A strong man in the local crime syndicate had claimed her as a concubine and he had no use for her young sons. So Shunsui and Starrk had been stealing to support themselves. It was dangerous but the only other possible occupation was whoring and they both had too much pride.

Now they were embarked on a dangerous but lucrative mission. They were going to steal a stash of drugs from a crime lord. Not to sell themselves – these drugs were not the type you found on street corners – but rather, to give to a rival crime lord in return for a substantial reward. They were tapped into the underground and had confirmed the offer.

It was dangerous as hell, of course. If they were caught they would die, but only after agonizing tortures. If they succeeded they would have earned the enmity of a powerful man. But Starrk and Shunsui were survivors and it wasn't the first time they'd pissed someone off. They would immediately leave this district for some place safer, with their ill-gotten gains. Enough money to keep them for years, if they were frugal.

That was critical because all they needed to do was reach the minimum age to become shinigami cadets. That was two more years. Then they would be safe from any retaliation, well fed and kept. Of course, being a shinigami would be dangerous. But what in life wasn't?

Starrk pulled out his knife, wetting his lips as he looked at the guards. He didn't like killing. He didn't like it but he'd decided a long time ago that he would do it, if it was the price of survival. And it wasn't like he had a whole lot of sympathy for drug pushers. Of the two of them, though, Shunsui was the more cutthroat. He could kill without an ounce of regret.

And that was precisely what they did. Starrk landed directly behind one of the guards. The man was just turning when he got a hand over his mouth and his blade slashed across an unprotected throat. Hot blood splattered and there was a quiet grunt, nothing that would be heard outside the room. Shunsui's victim went down even easier, struck dead before he could feel it.

"Alright." Shunsui murmured, cool and composed. "You take that stuff. I'll get this." They both had bags to carry the booty. Starrk nodded, swallowing back his nausea.

"Right." They quickly got the drugs packed away and jumped back into the rafters, using their reiatsu to fly. That was the great advantage they had over random street toughs. Being spiritually powerful might be a complete pain in the ass in some ways – all the food needed to fuel it – but they both had a rudimentary grasp of their power. A bit of crappy shunpo and the ability to fly went far, when you were smart.

Back out the skylight and onto the roofs. Starrk breathed a bit easier when they were several blocks away and glanced at his brother. Shunsui was grinning, to his surprise.

"We did it Starrk! This is our ticket to the good life. Cheer up!" He said and Starrk blinked before smiling slightly. It seemed like they switched places regularly, when it came to which of them was worrying and which was pushing them onwards.

"We'll see if they try to stiff us on the pay." He said good-naturedly and Shunsui made a face at him. "Speaking of which, let's get rid of this." The less time they had it, the better. And the rival crime lord would see them for this.

That was guaranteed.

The next six months were beyond stressful for the twins.

The rival crime lord had been quite surprised but extremely pleased to have his contract fulfilled. He'd paid them immediately and in full, but with a warning that the man they'd just wronged was noted for being vengeful. The boys hadn't been concerned. They would just make it too expensive for him to pursue them.

Or at least, that had been the plan.

"I can't believe it. He must have spent three times what that shit was worth trying to catch us!" Shunsui spat and Starrk nodded morosely. "Is he insane?"

"Quite possibly." To the two young men, this verged on utter lunacy. Money was critically important. Money was how you bought food, clothes, all the vital necessities of life. Of course… "He probably doesn't need to eat and has more money than he knows what to do with. And we've affronted his pride." Clearly, pride meant more to this man than money. They hadn't anticipated that. It was very foreign to their mindset and frankly, to most other crime lords. For most of them, there was always a point where it ceased to be worth it. "We need to sleep." Starrk said practically. "And this place is safe enough."

"Mmmm." Shunsui seemed to be thinking of something. Starrk briefly wondered what, but then decided he didn't care. He settled onto the floor, pulling a tattered blanket over himself. They were hidden in the attic of an abandoned building. No one had seen them get in and no one would see them leave. There was a soft sigh and Shunsui joined him under the blanket, an arm around his waist and a hand…

"Shunsui, what are you doing with my ass?" Starrk said in an even tone. That hand was definitely on his ass, squeezing and massaging him. It felt… nice. Not that he would admit it. There was warm breath on the back of his neck as his brother spoke.

"I'm scared Starrk." The honesty was disarming. "I don't want to die a virgin." That hand slid into his pants and Starrk had a bad idea of where this was going.

"Shunsui, I'm not a virgin. And I swear to god that if you stick a finger into me without at least licking it, I will belt you." He said before realizing that gave his brother tacit permission to stick a finger in. "But we're brothers. Twins! This isn't right." Shunsui chuckled before removing his hand. Starrk glanced over his shoulder and sure enough, he was sucking on his fingers.

"I know you want me Starrk. You talk in your sleep, you know." Shunsui said seductively and Starrk blushed, remembering. That particular wet dream… oh, crap. "And I'm serious. I don't want to die a virgin." He said, his grey eyes dark and Starrk swallowed, weakening. It was unnatural and probably sick, but he couldn't deny that he'd always wanted his brother. Well, since he'd started thinking of sex. Which had only been about a year ago, actually. "Please, let me have this."

"…Alright." He suddenly gave in, sitting up. "But we're going to do this my way." He'd only had one sexual experience in his life, but it had been with a man and it had been reasonably good. Painful, but he'd expected that and there had been pleasure in the end. "I don't trust you not to fuck it all up." He added and Shunsui grinned as Starrk shoved him down and climbed on top of him.

"You're so cruel to me!" He said and Starrk snorted before reaching down to cup Shunsui's crotch. His brother was already half-hard and Starrk quickly made that worse, rubbing his palm against his pants. Then he gripped his own hakama, pulling the fabric down. Shunsui swallowed, reaching up to cup and stroke him in turn. Starrk shuddered slightly at the feel of those callused fingers on him, as he shoved his brother's hakama away. Then he licked his hand before reaching down to stroke them, together. "Oh… that feels good…" Shunsui said, his voice heavy with lust.

"Yes." Starrk felt much the same way, shifting and groaning softly as their erections moved together. He wished he had a better lubricant though… shaking away the thought, he stuck his fingers in his mouth again. Keeping one hand on their cocks, he reached behind himself to work on his opening. If he was going to do this with his brother he would take it all the way. No hesitation, no regrets.

"Here, let me…" Then Shunsui's hand was taking over for him, which was helpful. Their eyes met again and Starrk felt the intensity of the connection, the burning lust he was sensing from his twin. Shifting, he concentrated on stretching himself as that hand pleasured them both. It would still hurt but he could do a lot to make this better…

Confident that he was as ready as he could be, he pushed Shunsui's hand away before mounting the other boy. His brother swallowed and then gasped as Starrk began to lower himself, impaling his body on that hard length. He hissed at the burn but didn't stop, working his hips until he had his brother fully sheathed inside himself. It hurt but he'd known it would. His first experience hadn't been much different.

"Kami!" Shunsui sounded like he was losing his mind. For a moment, Starrk wondered what it would be like on that end. He'd have to find out someday… then his brother moved and he gasped as the sting increased. He braced himself and began to move with his brother, confident that he would find…

There! Starrk shuddered as his twin's cock scraped across that special spot inside him. "Yes…" That felt good, so damned good. "Hey, jerk me off…" That would help him out a lot.

"Huh? Oh, right." Shunsui's hand was around him then and Starrk rested his hands on his brother's chest as the speed of their coupling began to increase. Fortunately, his twin was big and despite his inexperience, there was no problem finding his prostate. "That… good for you…?" Shunsui panted out, struggling to stay in control. Starrk grunted.

"Yeah…" He managed, his eyes glazing over as the pleasure continued to increase. The pressure in his loins was building as sweat began to bead on his body, despite the chill of the air. "Shit… yes…!" He was getting closer. And from his brother's quick breathing, the urgent way he kept thrusting upwards, he was getting extremely close. "Uh… please…" He just needed a bit more. Just a tiny bit…

Shunsui gave him that, managing to hit his prostate dead on just as he gave him a particularly firm stroke. Starrk arched in a mix of pain and pleasure as he erupted, his cum coating his brother's hand and splattering across his belly. Shunsui gave a choked off cry as Starrk's insides abruptly tightened around him and a moment later, Starrk could feel the pulse inside him, the heat bathing his insides. He closed his eyes, just savoring the feeling.

For a while they just stayed like that, linked together and trembling in the aftermath. Starrk rested his hands against Shunsui's chest and smiled as his brother opened his eyes, smiling up at him lazily. The expression on his face was so beautiful, so warm and content that Starrk suddenly didn't regret any of it. Certainly, they were twins. Surely this was very, very wrong. But he just didn't care.

"As good as I'd imagined." Shunsui murmured and Starrk laughed before pulling away. Tearing off a small piece of the blanket, he used it to clean himself before reaching for his clothes. It was too cold to sleep naked, even curled together. His brother groaned before reaching for his hakama, getting himself back in place.

"Yes. But don't count on it happening again anytime soon." Starrk teased and Shunsui looked so disappointed that he immediately relented. "I'll show you something else. I'm told I give a very good blowjob." Although could you really trust the opinion of someone you'd just blown?

"Really? You're so good to me." His brother sounded delighted at the prospect. Starrk shook his head as he settled in beside him to sleep.

Maybe this was sick and wrong, but somehow, it just felt right.

Finally, the twins decided to approach the shinigami a year early.

They knew it might not go well. Sometimes, the shinigami handling to admissions was a stickler for the rules. Sometimes, though, they weren't. Starrk and Shunsui weren't sure if it was because of personal differences or if sometimes, the shinigami desperately needed recruits and deliberately relaxed the entry requirements. But they decided to find out.

Fortunately, the woman processing the forms took their statement that they were fifteen at face value. And when she tested their reieryoku, she smiled a bit. Soon they were ushered inside the white walls and the twins both breathed a sigh of relief when the slums were behind them. A quick tour of the Academy and they settled neatly into their rooms. Which gave them some time to think about things.

"He'll leave us alone now, right?" Shunsui asked as Starrk stared morosely at the ceiling. They shared a room and had bunk beds. He'd gotten in first and staked a claim on the top one. "I mean, he has to!"

"Mmm hmm." Starrk's hum was eloquent. Shunsui continued, voicing their thoughts.

"He'd be crazy to keep going. If it was expensive as hell just in the Rukongai! I can't imagine how much it would cost to hire assassins in the Seireitei."

"Mmm hmm." Starrk didn't disagree with a single thing Shunsui was saying. There was a long pause as Shunsui thought about it and came to the same ugly conclusion his brother had already arrived at.

"So we should plan on him following us into the Seireitei. Right?" He said and Starrk sighed before nodding.

"Right. But look on the bright side. Someday we'll be shinigami. Then we'll kill him, if we all live that long." There was always the possibility that their tormenter would fall to another crime lord. They could hope, anyway.

Until they knew for certain that had happened, though, they would continue to watch their backs.