Jyuushiro awoke groggily, feeling as if a dozen cackling Espada were dancing on his head. He groaned, struggling to peel his eyes opened. On the edge of his conscious, he heard a chuckle.
“Well, looks like lover-boy’s finally coming around.”
“I’ll let Unohana-taichou know,” another voice inserted. There was the patter of feet, a sliding of door, and then, only one person remained.
Jyuushiro recognized the reiatsu in an instant. “Shun… sui?” he croaked.
A hand grasped his, fingers squeezing gently. “Hai, Jyuu-chan. I’m here.”
Forcing his eyelids to raise, Jyuushiro peered into the outrageous brightness, finally seeing the form of his friend beside him. “I feel dead,” he said, much to Shunsui’s amusement.
“You should.” There was a pause. “Eh… sorry about the hilt to the forehead there, Jyuu-chan, but it was necessary. Retsu-chan says the mark should go away soon.”
Jyuushiro reached up with an unsteady hand and felt the knot on his head. He winced, realizing it was the reason for his pain.
“It’s okay. I understand,” he assured his best friend.
The day before began to filter back to him in startling clarity. Apparently, he had lost his mind again. Not that it happened often. But enough that Shunsui and Genryuusai-sensei had created the proper countermeasures.
He groaned again and closed his eyes, laying his head back against the pillow. “How was it?” Jyuushiro asked with evident dread, hand scooting down to cover his face.
There was a pause. “I’m not going to lie to you, lover-boy. It was bad.”
Giggling seemed to punctuate his friend’s point. Peering through his fingers, he caught sight of a bevy of female Shinigami passing his room. They paused, peeked inside his room and then kept on going, giggling and whispering amongst themselves. He could only imagine the topic of their conversation.
Jyuushiro groaned again.
“Look on the bright side, Jyuu-chan,” Shunsui stated cheerily, reaching for one of the apples in the fruit basket at his bedside table and biting deeply into it. “I did manage to stop you before you continued your tirade on the nobles and Chamber 46.”
“Small favor,” he muttered. “Just tell me straight, Shun. What happened?”
Chuckling, the eighth division captain leaned back in his chair. “Well, Kiyone and Sentarou haven’t spoken a word since they rushed to me and informed me that you were a little… perturbed. I think they’ve been hiding in the thirteenth division for their own safety.”
Jyuushiro felt a sinking feeling in his stomach but gestured with his free hand anyways. “Continue,” he asked, not that Shunsui needed any encouragement.
“Sure.” There was a crunch as he bit into the apple again, the sweet smell filling the room. “Whatever you said to Nanao-chan, thanks. It’s really opened her eyes. But whatever else you said to the vice-captains instituted a brawl at their weekly meeting. I’m sad to say that Yachiru was the winner. But don’t worry; your boy-toy made it out completely unscathed.”
Blinking, he peered at his best friend. “Boy-toy?”
Shunsui grinned. “By the way, you and Hisagi-kun have a date for next Friday.”
A cute, scarlet flush spread across Jyuushiro’s cheeks. “That’s… good?”
“You bet it is, lover-boy,” Shunsui answered, gesturing towards him with the apple. “Soifon’s been walking around with this twisted scowl on her face. I think she calls it a smile, but no one believes her. And Kurotsuchi’s had a mysterious and oh-so-tragic near-fatal accident. Not that anyone really cares.”
He shrugged, taking off his hat with his free hand and waving air to his face. “But really, Jyuu-chan, how does a person poison himself with mercury?”
“I can’t even imagine.” His answer was muffled behind the mask of his hand.
Laying the hat on the side table next to him, Shunsui continued without prompt. “Renji-kun is in the next room over. Apparently, Hinamori-chan did quite a number on him. As well as the rest of them until Yachiru stepped in.”
“Please tell me that’s all,” Jyuushiro inserted, tone taking on a hint of begging. Really, he didn’t think he could get any more mortified than he already was.
Shunsui shook his head. “I wish. But I still haven’t told you what happened in the captain’s meeting. Byakuya-hime and Shirou-chan nearly called out their bankai thanks to the disagreement you sparked between them.” He crunched into the apple again. “But don’t worry; at least Sajin-kun still likes you.”
The captain of the thirteenth division felt a migraine coming on, which had nothing to do with the impression of Shunsui’s zanpakutou still in his forehead.
“Not to mention, Iba-kun hasn’t seen straight since yesterday, which might have something to do with the fact he keeps squinting. Apparently, he hasn’t not worn his sunglasses for quite a few years.”
He paused, tricking Jyuushiro into thinking that was all.
“By the way,” Shunsui thought fit to add. “You made Orihime-chan cry. Not very nice of you, Jyuu-chan. And-”
“I think, Kyouraku-taichou, that my patient is still recovering,” a sweet voice, not unlike that of an angel, suddenly filled the room.
Jyuushiro breathed a sigh of relief.
“Please refrain from saying anything that would stress him further.”
Shunsui’s grin widened. “Retsu-chan!” he greeted.
Jyuushiro lowered his hand at the sight of the serene woman and gave her a thin and wan smile. “Thank you, senpai. I’m sorry to trouble you.” He paused, only to amend himself. “And… I’m sorry for whatever I might have said to you.”
She inclined her head towards him and paused at his bedside to give him an once-over. “It is no trouble at all, Ukitake-taichou. But perhaps you might consider a better outlet for your frustrations. Letting it build up and explode once every five centuries is not good for your health.”
His blush deepened at the chastisement. “I will keep that in mind.”
“Good.” Her eyes roamed over him as she carefully checked his vitals. “Well, you appear to be in fine health now, all things considered. But I still recommend some rest. Do you feel up to a visitor?”
Jyuushiro smiled lightly. “Doesn’t Shunsui count?”
“Kyouraku-taichou has always been the exception,” she countered pleasantly, the two of them sharing a knowing chuckle.
“Let them in!” Shunsui announced, as though jealous he had been left out of the joke. “Jyuu-chan could use the visitors.”
Patting him on the shoulder, Unohana turned away from the hospital bed. “You’re free to go as you wish,” she told him and headed for the door. “And remember what I said.”
“I’ll do that,” he called after her. Jyuushiro breathed another sigh of relief.
Shunsui nudged him with a finger, poking him in the shoulder. “You got off easy this time, lover-boy.”
“I know it.”
“Excuse me, taichou?”
The two captains turned their attention to the doorway, where a blond wearing a shihakushou stood, hands dangling at his sides. He looked somewhat familiar, and it wasn’t until Jyuushiro spotted the vice-captain’s badge around the right forearm and the familiar symbol that he recognized the man.
Kira Izuru of the third division.
He had cut his hair, making his lovely blue eyes visible for once. The effect was startling, softening his appearance.
“Kira-kun?” Jyuushiro said in surprise, wondering what on Seireitei managed to convince him to shear the long locks.
He nodded and then bowed deeply. “Thank you, Ukitake-taichou, for your wonderful advice,” he said honestly. “It was most helpful.”
And then, he was gone, the smile barely present on his lips a rare but rather beautiful sight to see. Jyuushiro had nearly forgotten just how pretty Kira-kun could be when his face wasn’t hidden by that horrible hair style.
Shunsui chuckled. “One of the more positive outcomes of your rampage,” he explained with a gesture towards the now empty doorway. He flicked his eyes towards his best friend. “By the way, Jyuu-chan, exactly how long has it been since you got laid?”
The other man absolutely froze. Had he actually said something to that effect?
His mortification increased tenfold.
His best friend continued without prompting, clearly having his fun, “You know you could have just asked,” Shunsui added, patting him on the shoulder. “I would have taken one for the team.”
Jyuushiro narrowed his eyes. “You know, Shunsui,” he began slowly, beginning to remember his anger with his best friend. “You’re half the cause of yesterday.”
“A… Am I?” Shunsui asked with a suddenly nervous laugh, gaze darting around. “Now, why would you say such a mean thing, Jyuu-chan?”
His anxious sight caught a glimpse of two forms moving past the doorway. “Oh, look!” Shunsui suddenly declared, jerking to his feet. “There’s Sajin and Sado-kun! I’ll just go say hello. Be back soon, Jyuu-chan.”
He was out the door in seconds, leaving behind only the faint impression of a pink flutter.
Disappointed that he couldn’t see his revenge and that he had been left alone in the fourth division, Jyuushiro settled back in the bed. Perhaps he would get some rest after all.
But really, he hadn’t seen anyone pass by the door, even though he’d been staring right at it.