She thinks he’s beautiful.
It has never bothered Retsu to refer to a man as such. And if he were bothered by her calling him that, he’s never said anything. He simply smiles at her in his usual, gentle and unassuming way and draws her closer for a deep, warm kiss. His large fingers traveling up and down her spine, pressing deeply. Making her tingle and warm all over.
Retsu sighs in his embrace. Running her palm over his abdomen, across his broad chest, over his broad shoulders, across thick muscles that suit him perfectly without making him overly bulky. His skin is a lovely shade of burnished copper, eyes an inviting color of leaf-brown. Retsu loves nothing more than running her fingers through his hair, brushing it out of his face to reveal the force of his steady gaze.
But as amazing as he is on the outside, words cannot express the wonder of the man beneath. He is loyal. Determined. Honest. He’s a steady presence in a land of chaos. Where war has stripped nearly everything of beauty from the world. He is a rock, unchanging and unmoving but still striking in his strength.
Retsu knows that people stare at their relationship with wide eyes and loud whispers. That the others can’t seem to understand the value of emotion shared between two people who have managed to find something of worth.
She is too old for him; he is too young for her. She is Shinigami; he is human. A rather unique human. But still just a human. And perhaps Retsu can understand their concerns. Even she isn’t certain why she stepped past her own boundaries to embrace this young man.
Retsu thinks it may have begun during the war. When she patched his brutally broken and bleeding body back together. She remembers finding him. Or what was left after Nnoitra had finished toying with him. There had been so much blood, so much brokenness. Retsu had feared he was dead.
But he hadn’t been. He had sensed her presence. And the moment he lifted his head from the sand – only a few inches – and met her gaze with his own, she’d seen his strength. Speaking had only produced bubbles of blood, but Retsu had understood. She’d known what he needed.
She remembers healing him, remembers watching him suffer the pain of his body knitting together at an accelerated rate. Retsu remembers thinking that this much suffering should not be endured by this strong man. Just a child in her eyes really. Just an innocent.
Once healed, he’d been adamant. He’d wanted one thing alone. To return to Kurosaki-kun’s side. To join his friend in battle again because he knew that Ichigo would need him, that his strength was necessary. The determination and the loyalty blazed so brightly in his eyes that Retsu’s breath had caught.
Maybe that had been the moment she had fallen for him.
War can change so many things. Loss and heartbreak and blood and tears; there’s no forgetting any of it. Not the sting of betrayal or the sweep of a swamping reiatsu or the agony of weeping over a fallen friend. There is no way to tame the pain or abandon it, one can only endure. And if one is really lucky, they can find someone to share it with.
But the war is years and years ago. Over a decade. And Retsu has things she’d rather be doing than dwelling on the past. Things like moving forward with the wonderful man who managed to capture her without even trying. Who treats her heart as something precious. And isn’t afraid of the smile in her eyes.
A finger brushes Retsu’s chin then. Gently but strongly.
“What are you thinking?” her lover asks, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
Usually one for silent support, Retsu has taken great pleasure in drawing out the more vocal side of him. Both for idle conversation and for… other perks.
She takes his hand and brings his large, strong fingers to her lips, pressing a kiss against the broad palm. Scarred, more scarred than it should be but a testament to his strength.
“You,” she says with a hum of amusement, one that he echoes with a chuckle. “And how beautiful you are.”
He doesn’t blush, doesn’t sputter. Doesn’t draw away and immediately demand that she use a better word because men aren’t beautiful. He just smiles at her, joy dancing in his eyes, and leans down for another kiss. Gentle at first. But like always, it’s quick to betray the depth of his passion.
Retsu doesn’t mind. She simply reaches up, entwining her fingers through his wavy hair as he leans to accommodate her shorter height. She wants nothing more than to stumble backwards into a shared bedroom, where a futon is laid out expectantly. To let the warm spring breeze wash over their nude bodies. To let the sun darken his copper skin to a deeper shade. To feel the force of his passion.
He really is gorgeous. And Retsu takes great pleasure in proving that to him, every chance she gets.