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Chapter 5 has landed!!

This chapter nearly killed me. I wanted to punch myself in the face about a hundred times while I wrote it.
I'll spare you my gushing and just remind you that this is co-written with 0_xrosax_0 , who deserves some kind of medal for putting up with my whining and all the amazing work she's done on this fic <3
Anyway, without further ado, here it is.

How do find something that you once lost? How do you rebuild something after it's been shattered?

Persistence.

Stay close, and a bond will grow. No matter what, never leave that person's side.


Shuhei had previously thought that after the betrayal, everything had changed. It was now, after the Winter War was over, that things really felt alien to him. Time waits for no man- things around you change constantly, and if you aren't paying attention, they sneak up on you.

Shuhei wasn't sure when exactly he'd started enjoying running his squad by himself. Or how exactly he'd gotten good at it. Shuhei also didn't know when Renji and Kuchiki-taicho had started getting along so well, and where the mutual respect and semi-friendship between them had stemmed from. It was wonderful to see, and the general sense of relief now that Aizen was safely locked away and that the fighting was over was palpable. Shuhei had never liked violence, or the fear in the air when the War broke out.

Of course, not everything was happiness and laughter. Momo was back in hospital, and Hitsugaya-taicho was a wreck. After the death of Ichimaru Gin, Rangiku seemed quiet and withdrawn, not her usual bubbly, cheerful self. When she smiled, there was a sadness to it. It just made her even more beautiful, in Shuhei's eyes. He'd always found her beautiful. He couldn't remember when he'd stopped wanting to fuck her, though. He used to fantasize about her full, pouting lips all over his body, her heavy round breasts in his hands… Now when he looked at her, it was more like admiring a well-loved painting. She was a good woman- he cared about her.

The Winter War had damaged Shuhei too. Perhaps that was what he saw in Rangiku- a shared pain. He witnessed and committed such horrific, painful acts that day- was it just one day? A week? A lifetime? – in Karakura Town, he knew with a heaviness in his chest that he'd never be the same again. It had aged him. Having to resort to releasing Kazeshini in front of the whole Gotei 13, battling a terrifying monster that had picked him up, squeezed him till he vomited pints of his own blood, tried to eat him, just like the hollow Kensei had saved him from as a child. In that moment, as he'd stared into the approaching cavern of its mouth, much as he hated to admit it, he'd hoped his saviour might come again- to slay the monster, and save his fragile life, to tell him not to cry. Instead, he had been thrown into the side of a building. Not to mention the sight of his ex-captain's hideous hollowification, the dull buzzing of its wings, the way its skull was rendered in twain under the force of Shuhei's zanpakuto. Finally, his last moments with Tousen-taicho, the man he remembered- his captain, not the traitor- before his blood, his insides, the very essence of his being was splattered all over Shuhei as Aizen ended his life, tearing away his dignity.

Since that time, Shuhei was sure he hadn't slept more than a few hours. He'd struggled with insomnia since the betrayal, but with those images permanently burned into his retinas for the rest of his natural life, he found himself in a never-ending wake, day and night merging together indistinguishably, until he was never sure what day it was. His eyes were darker than ever, and he found himself becoming increasingly jumpy and over-alert. The tiniest noise or sudden movement made the scarred man jump out of his skin. It had gotten so bad recently he could swear he was almost becoming scared of the dark. Pathetic. Was it the sleep deprivation? The buckets of coffee he consumed while he worked? Or was it just the horrors he had witnessed, always lurking in the peripherals of his exhausted mind? Either way, the only way he could sleep was to drink himself into a stupor, but he soon abandoned that plan of attack, as every time he managed to sleep for more than a few hours, he would inevitably wake up screaming and reaching out for Kazeshini, to combat the gloaming terrors he saw in his nightmares. Sweat would pour off him as his reiatsu spiked and fluctuated ominously, often alarming nearby squad members in the Ninth Division barracks.

It wasn't all bad, though.

Since the re-establishing of communication that week or so after the betrayal, Shuhei had managed to re-build and expand upon his friendship with Kira. They ate together, talked for hours, opening up and pouring their hearts out to the other, and when news of war came, they spent every spare moment they had together, training. Kira had even gotten his senpai to show him his shikai, after many sessions of badgering and pleading.

It was only natural they arrived on the scene in Karakura Town together, that they fought side by side, supported eachother. They just… felt safer in the other's company. There's nothing wrong with that, right? We're sticking together. Sticking together is what friends do, especially in battle.

But when Shuhei had released Kazeshini, and when he'd been flailing in Akon's death-grip, even though rage and terror had been coursing through him, blood pounding deafeningly in his ears, both times, he still heard it.

Hisagi-san…

He heard that voice, calling out to him, clear as day.

Kira.

Always watching, always those clear, blue eyes, fixed on him. Whispering his name in awe as he watched him fight. Screaming out for him as he was attacked, begging him not to die with his ragged, shaking voice. He could feel Kira's eyes on him every single second from when he unsheathed his sword.

But why?

We're just friends. Best friends. I fought to keep our friendship alive because a friend is a precious thing. Especially when people you thought you could rely on betray you.

And yeah, I fought to make him smile. Make him laugh. Make sure he ate, and carried him home when he was drunk. I'm his sempai, that's what I'm here for. Besides, nobody likes to see a grown man cry.

And yeah, I saved his life, back in the Academy. So what? I would have done that for anyone. I saved Renji and Momo too, it's not like I swooped in to rescue him, I was just defending some underclassmen from a hollow. Anyone would have done the same.

It's only natural that he nags me about overworking myself. Or suggests teas that might help me sleep. Bringing someone your leftovers is just normal if you know they like your cooking and that you're too busy to cook for yourself. He knows I'd just forget and go hungry or eat instant ramen if he didn't.

So what's bothering me? Why am I trying not to think about him? Surely thinking about something other than the awful things I have seen is a positive thing.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

In the Ninth Division, Shuhei perched on the edge of his desk as he chatted to Kira, who'd dropped in to visit him while on a walk in the pleasant weather they'd been having.

The raven-haired shinigami handed the younger man a steaming cup. "Here. It's that new tea you brought over."

Kira accepted the cup and gazed down into the china, almost smiling. "I'm glad you like it. Has it helped at all?"

"Not really." Shuhei admitted. "But it smells nice." He offered as consolation.

"Oh." Disappointment. "Maybe a different type would work better."

The other chuckled amicably. "That's alright- you've brought me like seven this week already…"

"I just want to help you sleep..." Kira gazed up at the tattooed man before him. "I don't like seeing you so tired all the time..."

"W-well, I appreciate your concern…"

Neither of them said anything for a minute, and they quietly drank their tea, before Kira quietly asked, "Hisagi-san, how do you… feel about me?"

Shuhei stared dumbly at him and asked him to repeat himself.

The blonde started to shakily explain, "It's just… you do so much for me…"

"I do things for lots of people. I like doing it." Came the flat reply.

"But Hinamori-kun was in a worse state than me, I just wondered.. I just thought…. Maybe there was more to it…"

"Stop saying things like that… It sounds weird…" Shuhei desperately didn't want to have this conversation, didn't want to think about these things that his kohai was saying. He'd tried so hard to ignore these feelings for so long, and now this man was just going to point them out like that?

Kira got uncharacteristically bold at his friend's flat denial.

"If I don't mean anything to you, then why did you do those things to me the week before graduated?" He blurted out, fists clenched by his side.

"I don't—"

"Don't you dare say you don't remember! You pinned me down on my living room floor, kissed me, pulled my clothes off, and—and…." He frowned, faltering in his anger to be embarrassed for a fraction of a second. "If you truly don't remember, then how exactly should I feel about it? That was my first kiss, Hisagi-san! That was my first anything. And you were so disgusted by it -by me- that you just ran off!"

"That was my first time sucking anyone's cock, you know! There's a reason I just ran off like that, and a reason we never spoke about it until now! So fucking shut up about it, Kira!" Shuhei retorted, blushing as his volume crept up.

"Hisagi-san…"

That voice.

"I told you to shut up about it."

"Hisagi-san, please—"

That voice, calling out to me.

"Stop it!"

At that, Kira's big azure eyes began to brim over as he stared up at the taller shinigami.

Idiot. You yelled at him.

"I-I'm sorry… I j-just…"

Stop him crying. Make him smile.

"Kira…"

Shuhei placed a hand on the blonde's shoulder.

Make him laugh. Protect him.

"I was scared, Kira. People run away when they're scared. Please don't ever think I'd be disgusted by you."

Fight alongside him.

"What were you scared of, Hisagi-san?"

"My… feelings, or whatever. I was scared of liking you."

Make sure he's okay.

"And… what about now?"

Care for him.

"I'm still scared… But I still like you. More."

Love him.

A pale fist closed around the material of Shuhei's black uniform, and then he was being kissed. The lightest, airiest, most ethereal kiss he'd ever imagined shimmered over his lips, planted by a thin, sweet mouth. He felt like his very breath was being stolen from him, along with everything else that he'd poured into the smaller man. He brought the hand on Kira's shoulder up to his slender jaw, and kissed back with a gentle pout. They stood, frozen in the awkward, cathartic, heart-shattering kiss for a few seconds, and then drifted apart, both red in the face and inexplicably panting.

"Wh-why… did you do that?" Shuhei breathed, still gently stroking Kira's jaw.

The other gave a tiny smile. "Why did you kiss me, that first time?"

"I dunno…. I just wanted to."

"I wanted to kiss you first, Hisagi-san."

Shuhei smiled at his friend, still breathless and plain amazed. "You can kiss me any time you like… I just want you to be happy…"

"I know…" Kira said bashfully, hiding behind his hair. "And I am. You're the only person who's ever put this much effort into getting to know me, listening to me, making me smile... Having you as a friend is the greatest happiness I've ever known, Hisagi-san…"

"Shuhei. My name is Shuhei."

"O-oh, right. Well… I guess you can call me Izuru as well, then."

"Okay…" Shuhei took a moment to look at the situation, at his hand on the blonde's jaw, on Kira's hand still balled up at his side. The tingling on his lips. "Izuru… Should we really be doing this?"

"I… don't really know… Maybe if we just kiss, but nothing else, it'd be okay."

"Yeah… It's just… friendly. We are friends, some friends kiss. It's okay."

"It's fine."

"Some friends give each other blowjobs, too."

Kira smacked him on the arm. "Shuhei!"

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And so, that is what the two did. Nothing really changed between them, except now when they sat and talked, they'd hold hands. Sometimes they sat in silence and just held each other tightly. They would breathe in the other's scent, touch foreheads, and kiss lightly. When they kissed, they'd hold hands, or sit on them, to keep them from wandering. Nobody was ready for that yet- all either of them knew was that it was a lot easier from then on in.

Shuhei loved the feel of his friend's small, toned frame in his arms. The soft smell of his hair, his skin, like black peach tea and new books. Kira basked in the warm, glowing heat of his sempai's embrace, and gave dry, chaste kisses to those scars he had seen made, bandaged and healed, all those years ago. Both of them separately wondered if this converging of their paths was inevitable- if it really was fate that was moulding their friendship into a relationship. But in the end they both concluded that it wasn't- this relationship had always been there, ever since they'd met. They were just adding the intimacy of touch on top of it, little by little, like the stacking of pebbles. Shuhei knew that eventually the lustful desires of his subconscious would overwhelm him and that he'd want to take Izuru as his lover. Izuru knew one day, when that happened, that he'd be brave enough to let him, and confident enough to enjoy it, too.

But for now, the tattooed shinigami and the shy blonde were satisfied to hold hands under tables, to hug after work, and to kiss goodnight. This had been half a century in the making- there was no rush.

Next chapter: ANGST and SEX. Yeah. Because I can write anything else. Hurrrr.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
cptnsuz
May. 17th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
This chapter was very realistic and sweet. I like the gradual building up of their relationship. Looking forward to the next chapter :)
jazz_trousers
May. 17th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much~
I am looking forward to writing it- rawr!
ichibanseiken
May. 18th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
I like the "no rush" part. You are beautifully descriptive in some parts but it's fast and brusque at the same time. Like a dip in cold water.
jazz_trousers
May. 18th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!! That's what I was aiming for with this, I'm glad it worked ^_^
sofeenalee
May. 22nd, 2011 02:55 am (UTC)
Babe, you can jazz in my trousers anytime.

Just through all the chapters in one go. Can't wait for the next chapter, I'm really in the mood for some hot angst right now hahaha.
jazz_trousers
May. 22nd, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC)
LOL thanks!! One of my betas does affectionately just refer to me as "Jizz".

Next chapter is coming soon, I can feel the words in my fingers, ready to burst out.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )