Shunsui Kyouraku looked at the white-haired shinigami in front of him, a smirk curving his lip ever so slightly.
The handsome man had been by his side for as long as he could remember. Their academy days spent in each other's company, the other's green eyes always light yet somehow disapproving of his actions. He always shared a special bond with this one, their souls followed the same path. Yama-ji had said so. He had never given it much thought, it was fact whatever it meant.
Always by his side no matter what, Jyuushiro Ukitake looked at him differently for once in their long friendship. Those kind green eyes had always somehow hid something deeper that lay just beyond Shunsui's grip, always guarded despite their path, or perhaps, as he thought now, because of their path.
Today, of all days, they bared all to him. The gentle caress to his cheek as he lay wounded, the white-hair shinigami in no shape to be up himself, told a centuries old story of betrayal, hurt, and secrecy that had always hidden behind the endless sea of green.
Today, the full realization of their shared path hit Shunsui harder than the shot through his stomach. Ukitake was offering the most precious possession he had to the one-eyed head captain.
The thought, even stronger the last, broke Shunsui's heart. He had already been given that. He held Ukitake's most precious belonging and it had slowly killed his best friend.
It was true, every time he received someone's most prized belonging they died. Ukitake's was not a physical death but if he looked in those glistening green eyes wet from tears the frail shinigami held back, Shunsui saw it, the death of the person Ukitake was and could have been.
He could give it back now but what use was there in giving a broken heart to a dead man. If it did not beat, it would not revive him. The girls, the drinking, the blantant ignorance of his friend's feelings, all of it had sufficed in slowly but meticulously killing Ukitake's very soul.
His heart still beat. The thought struck like lightning and his reflexes moved just a quick, grabbing the long pale fingers that had betrayed their owner's intent. If he possessed Jyuushiro Ukitake's heart then why not allow the white-haired shinigami to possess his.
"I love you."
It was a mumble, all the strength he had left couldn't have made it louder but it worked. He felt the spark in Ukitake's reiatsu that travelled from his finger to the place where his heart had once called home to the twin beads of deepest jade that the man unfairly, in Shunsui's opinion at times, called his eyes.
The light blush on pale cheeks as the man turned his head, wary of what his eyes would betray to the other, relieved Shunsui's fears. For once, he had saved someone.
A balance, like their styles of fighting; joining his friend finally on their shared path, it had all been accomplished in those weak but honest words.
Another thought occurred to him as he listened to the white-haired man sputter out a "what did you say, Kyouraku?" His heart had been dead too. He had not rightfully had possession of it, and had deprived it of its only source of sustenance for too long. But now that it had awakened, he planned to lap at the too sweet sake of Ukitake's pure, unconditional love.
He pulled, not meanly, on the hand within his grasp. It was enough. The other, too engrossed in trying to figure out if what he had heard was really what his friend had said and meant, fell into his lap with ease. He groaned in pain- worth it- as the too light shinigami landed on his barely closed wound. He had precious little time before Ukitake recovered and moved for fear of reopening the wound that had put the head captain in Squad Four's care.
He reached out with his other hand and firmly, perhaps even a little desperately, guided the other's chin within reach. He had, he must admit at least to himself, had dreams of pressing his lips against the other's many times in the past, but always in denial, Ukitake had always been a woman in those dreams.
He could taste the sickly sweet taste of candy, the white haired man probably had sneaked a few pieces in before coming to see him, and the bitter, metallic taste that betold of the man's illness, the combination uniquely Ukitake's.
A moment's thought struck panic in Shunsui. How could he have known it was uniquely Ukitake? The realization spurred him to drink deeper of the willing lips.
One night, centuries ago, he had finally somehow intoxicated the white-hair m...boy at the time. They were in the academy. Ukitake had stumbled through a confession of love and crashed their lips together. Despite allowing him to linger longer than necessary to reject him, he had pushed the smaller framed boy away with a laugh and a "you've had a bit too much, Jyuu-chan." That was when it happened, he concluded, and if so, he had centuries to make up to the man.
"Jyuushiro Ukitake," still barely a whisper but he made certain it spilled into the green-eyed shinigami's ear, sweeter than the sweetest candy the other had ever tasted. "I'm sorry. I've loved you for as long as I remember. Please forgive me for not allowing you to hear those words sooner. If only I could..."
A long, pale digit pressed against his lips. The look in the deep green that drew him in every time he looked at the other's eyes scolded him silently for being over-dramatic, as always.
"I love you too."