Arc: Twin Souls
Beta: incandescens without her this wouldn't be possible.
Characters: Kyouraku, Ukitake
Rating: PG-13 - adult concepts
Word Count: 2867
Summary: They tend to their homework.
Disclaimer: I don't own or make money off of Bleach. It's all fictional. Really.
Note: Thank you and love to rasetsunyo for the icon. XDD
Shunsui delivered Jyuushiro back to his room after the debriefing, and gently helped the white-haired man back to his bed. Jyuushiro coughed a few times, and curled up under the covers, eyes already heavy again.
"I need to get to class," Shunsui said quietly, and stroked Jyuushiro's hair.
Jyuushiro nodded and closed his eyes at the touch.
"Should I bring homework assignments back for you?"
Jyuushiro opened his eyes to smile. "No need to. Hoshiko-chan has been watching out for me all week. I suspect she'll come at the official visiting hours."
"Along with the rest of her friends?" Shunsui said, laughing.
"Of course. You're entirely welcome then, too, you know." Jyuushiro smiled and saw Shunsui respond with a smile as well, but the big man's eyes were still dark. "We seem to do a lot of the homework together, they give me their lecture notes and I work with them on the assignments."
Shunsui nodded. "Does... Rina come?"
Jyuushiro looked up at his friend, eyes narrowing just a bit. "Sometimes. Probably today, there's the kidou assignments and she seems to enjoy working on those with us."
"I'll probably see you at the usual visiting hour then," Shunsui said. "Sleep well."
"I will. It's good to be clean again. Thank you."
Shunsui chuckled. "You're entirely welcome. Now, go to sleep."
"Yes, sir," Jyuushiro said and the world sank away in soft, clean warmth.
Jyuushiro didn't wake up until someone knocked gently on the door.
He awoke as he usually did, simply coming to alertness. "Come in?"
A tall, slender girl with long black hair and an Academy uniform slid open the door and peeked in. She held a large lunch tray easily. "Ah, your friend has gone?"
Jyuushiro coughed, found a cloth, and she waited patiently until he was done. Then he nodded at her and, short of breath, just said, "Classes."
"You're both Academy students, too?" she asked, her white oval of a face tilting just a little.
"Yes. Your year?" Jyuushiro asked, sighing as he got his breath back.
"This is my second year, so I'm part of the first class. Father thought learning how to fight would be a good idea, but he didn't let me start at the infirmary until last week. Said I wouldn't learn much here, yet."
"Ah, you're Yuuma's daughter?" Jyuushiro asked, as he noticed a physical resemblance between the girl and gentle Yuuma. Yuuma was the leader of the first of the three medical squads that rotated through twenty-four hour shifts. Osamu led the second and Kiyoko led the third, but Yuuma led the whole healers' organization.
She nodded, and then hefted the big tray onto Jyuushiro's lap. "I'm afraid the kitchen thought you still had your guest."
Jyuushiro studied the tray, the bowl of umeboshi-chazuke with the small dish of pickled ume fruit on the side along with a big box of chirashizushi. There were four kinds of pickles, another soup, and a plate of inari sushi as well. His stomach growled and he smiled. "No... they got it right. There's only one set of utensils and only one serving of things."
She blinked. "You're going to eat all of this?"
"Yes. Unless you want some of it, too?" Jyuushiro asked. "Or do you have other duties?"
She looked taken aback. "I have other lunch deliveries to make. I was just... surprised."
Jyuushiro shrugged. "I seem to burn through it quickly. Thank you for the meal."
She smiled. "May you enjoy it." And she slipped out through the sliding door, closing it quietly behind her.
Jyuushiro napped fitfully after lunch, and was glad when the official visiting hour came.
Small feet pattered down the hallway and then came to his door, and there was a gentle knock on the doorframe. He said, "Come in!"
A group of four girls all came in.
Hoshiko-chan led the group, which included Akemi and Mei from earlier, and they'd brought along Shunsui's Takahashi Rina, looking a bit better in the last few days than she had more than a week ago.
"Good afternoon, Ukitake-kun!" All four girls chorused and, chattering, they spread out around his futon and the low table in the room.
"Good afternoon," Jyuushiro said, and then smothered several coughs behind a cloth. Hoshiko-chan laid a hand on Jyuushiro's back and he leaned into the touch a little.
There was another knock on the door and all the heads in the room swiveled to see.
"Come in?" Jyuushiro asked after he caught his breath.
A man all in black slid open the door and gave a formal bow of greeting from a subordinate to a junior officer. Jyuushiro blinked at that, and there was a low murmur from the table full of girls.
"Shihouin-sama wishes to accept your invitation in two days to a..." The even voice paused just a moment, "... snow fort building effort here in the outdoor quad of the infirmary. She hopes that this missive finds you better, and has asked me to take back a report on your condition."
Jyuushiro hm'ed as he finished wiping up the last small traces of blood. "A written report? Or...?"
"Just a verbal report, sir. My own observations plus whatever you wish to add."
Jyuushiro chuckled. "Tell her that in two days I'll be sufficiently recovered to at least watch the proceedings. And that I've invited a few of my classmates and their younger relatives as well."
"Very well." The man saluted Jyuushiro and Jyuushiro, unused to that, fumbled a bit and then saluted him back. The man bowed and vanished in a puff of smoke.
All the girls ooo'ed in surprise, and there was a low, appreciative whistle from outside the still-open door.
"Hello?" asked Jyuushiro.
"Good afternoon," Shunsui said, as his head came around the door, and then the rest of him, even after he'd seen Rina in the room. Kenshin and Hayato came in after him.
"Just leave the door open, Shunsui," Jyuushiro said, laughing quietly. He coughed once, lightly. "There's bound to be more."
Kenshin looked just a little white-eyed at finding all the girls in there, but Hayato just peacefully settled himself by the table and got out his study materials. The girls made room for him.
"Shiba-kun," Jyuushiro said. "You have some cousins that are young Shihouin-sama's age?"
"Damnit, Ukitake, you can just call me Shiba." Kenshin glared at Jyuushiro and Jyuushiro bowed his head in acknowledgement. "Uhm... yeah. Kuukaku could come, she's about the right age, I think."
Hayato shrugged, "Uhm... not that I know of, yet... but I haven't been home for a while, too far. We don't have a castle here in Seireitei."
Shunsui rolled his eyes. "Kids? There haven't been teenagers in our family for... centuries."
"Well, I'll have to have you get Kisuke, then, for two days from today."
"What's up?" Hayato asked.
"Yoruichi-chan is coming for a visit in two days to build snow forts and throw a few snow balls and I thought it'd be more fun with kids than just us. But if Kenshin brings his cousin, there's going to be more kids than I can handle."
"She's more than I can handle," Kenshin said, fervently.
Jyuushiro grinned, "Thank you for your assessment, Shiba. So, if the whole tactics and strategy class wants to make a go of it, I'd appreciate it."
"Us watch kids?" Hayato asked, looking a little horrified.
"How hard can it be?" Shunsui asked. Kenshin snorted. The girls all giggled except for Rina.
Rina was watching Shunsui. Jyuushiro saw Shunsui shift under her gaze, and then, purposefully, he moved towards her. Gently, he took her elbow, and they went out in the hallway.
Everyone else looked at each other. Jyuushiro coughed. Hoshiko-chan and Mei-chan drew close to him. He smiled as he looked up at them, "What was the lecture about today?"
Relieved at the opening he gave them, everyone started talking about the day's classes and homework.
Two more women and a young man came down the hallway and turned into Jyuushiro’s room. Shunsui steered clear of them, and headed down the hallway and into one of the cool, quiet, dark, unused rooms. Rina followed his lead.
Shunsui had promised Kali he'd do this, but some part of him wasn't quite sure why. He'd always skipped from girl to girl, just going where his heart, his desires had led him, never really assuming that he was going to stay with any one for very long. And it had always felt like they understood that he was moving on.
But it was different this time. He and Rina had started months ago, and he hadn't gone to another woman this time. She had been there after the flogging. She hadn't ever demanded things of him that he couldn't give, hadn't told him he disappointed her even when he had disappeared for weeks before the winter exercise.
When they entered the room, she turned to look at him.
"You’re looking well, Kyouraku-kun," she said softly. "The winter exercise seems to have done well by you."
"Thank you, Rina-chan. I'm still pretty sore, though," he said, and felt lost as to where to start on Kali's request of him. "You are looking well, too."
Rina blushed and her head lowered. "But..." she said softly.
Rina's head came up and her eyes sought his. "But you don't come to my rooms anymore. You don't touch me anymore when I'm near. You don't... look at me... that way anymore. Was it something I did? Something I am?"
"No... no..." Shunsui's hands came up and he spread them in a helpless shrug. All he could think of was to just take all the blame and run. "It's not you. It's never you... I... I'm just fickle."
Rina's shoulders sagged. "If... if it isn't me, then there was nothing I could do?" Her voice broke.
Shunsui sighed, unhappy at the pain in her voice. Then he broke his own resolve and took her into his arms. "I... I don't know, lovely Rina-chan. I just..."
"You don't love me," she stated around her tears. But her arms crept around him, and she was so soft and warm in his arms.
"I... I don't think I do, anymore. I don't... burn for you anymore. But you've been so very kind to me." Shunsui said those words knowing they might hurt, but surely better now than dragging things on.
Rina's breath caught and then she laughed amid her tears. "You are very kind too, Shunsui. One of the reasons I've loved you so. May... may I just have one last kiss? You've said that I'm lovely and nice, so I... I can be content with how you see me, even now. But... I would like one last kiss."
Shunsui grinned his crooked grin. "How could I refuse such a plea?"
Lightly, he stroked Rina's cheek and lifted her chin. He gently brushed his lips against hers, until he could feel her breath quicken. Then he deepened the kiss, catching her soft lips with his, and her lips opened to his. He ran just the very tip of his tongue lightly against the inner rim, and then deepened the kiss just a bit more. Her body melted in his arms. He sighed softly and broke the kiss, but held her slender softness close to him.
She hugged him hard, face against his shoulder. And then she turned her head to smile at him. "Thank you, Kyouraku-kun"
"You're very welcome, Takahashi-chan."
They walked back to Jyuushiro's room. Jyuushiro didn't even look up as Shunsui and Rina returned his room: he was frowning too intently over some papers with Hoshiko-chan and Subarou-kun.
Shunsui drifted closer. Rina went over to sit by Mei and Akemi who all hugged her, and gave him speculative looks. There were another three women Shunsui didn't even know, and two men that Jyuushiro spoke to using their given names with a kun honorific. Shunsui went over to the futon and knelt at one edge.
There was another knock on the door frame, and Jyuushiro sounded almost irritated when he said, "Come in. It's open."
Shunsui looked to see who it was, and a willowy young woman walked in with a large tray of snacks, a teapot and several teacups. She was in uniform, but her hair was like a waterfall of midnight darkness.
She frowned at the table now filled with homework and papers, and Shunsui and Hayako and the girls hastily cleared space for the tray. She smiled and set it down and Shunsui couldn’t help but notice the curve of her arms, the gracefulness of her back, the...
Shunsui closed his eyes and forced himself to just look at the books and papers on the sheets in front of him. He was attracted. He knew himself well enough that he wasn't ashamed of that fact; but he knew that he could, at least, keep from acting on that attraction for Rina's sake, for just a little while.
The girl picked up one of the teacups, filled it with hot tea and took it over to Jyuushiro, who smiled up at her and took it. Jyuushiro's sigh of relief as he breathed in the steam as he sipped was audible. "Thank you."
Shunsui leaned towards Jyuushiro, "What are you working on?"
"It's the basis of several attack spells. There's something in all the spells for taking a piece of our reiatsu, and there's parts of the spell for shaping it into the thing that actually does the attack, be it fire, lightning, wind, restraints, healing or whatever we need. On most kidou spells, it's hidden, entwined..." Jyuushiro broke off his explanation to cough.
It got worse, and the long-haired girl handed a cloth to Jyuushiro, one hand stroking his back. Jyuushiro took it, held it to his face, and red bloomed through the folds of it as the force of the coughs shook his frame. Hoshiko came close to him, wrapped her arms around Jyuushiro. Jyuushiro didn't lean into her, but he made a visible effort to slow his coughing and breathe.
Shunsui stayed where he was. He felt an odd mix of wanting to go to Jyuushiro and knowing that Jyuushiro could take care of that level of coughing on his own. Also, Jyuushiro wouldn't appreciate it if he showed too much concern in front of the other Tactics class students.
Jyuushiro tugged on Hoshiko's sleeve, and she bent her ear to his mouth. He whispered something short between coughs. She grinned wryly, and glanced at Shunsui.
Shunsui raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"If you don't mind, I'll finish the explanation," she said with a smile.
"Oh. Certainly, anything to hear more of your lovely voice, Hoshiko-chan," Shunsui said smoothly.
She laughed. "Well, it is based on my research with Kuchiki-sama, so I should know it quite well, no matter how fast Jyuushiro-kun picked it up."
"Kuchiki-sama is teaching and testing based on research work?" Shunsui asked, surprised.
"Oh, no... I was just asking Jyuushiro-kun to doublecheck my work before I presented it, but that's what he was working on when you came up."
Shunsui blinked and looked at Jyuushiro. "You're helping her with her research?"
Jyuushiro shrugged and coughed more delicately into a cloth.
Hoshiko laughed merrily. "Yes, it is a great deal of fun, I can just give him the results of the tests, theories, and he's great at picking out problems and giving me new ideas."
Shunsui just shook his head. "And... uhm... when does he do his homework?"
"Oh, he helps everyone out after we chat a bit."
"Okay... uhm... so.. what is this theory you're working with?" Shunsui asked cautiously.
"It's about how to shape reiatsu into something more like our zanpakutou than just the elements that we've used up to this point. It's really the same stuff in some sense, just... there's something that's different in our zanpakutou that's related to shikai and bankai that I haven't figured out how to capture, yet. But Kuchiki-sama has already gotten both levels, and she's willing to let me observe her soul powers on release to see if there's a way to capture that in a kidou spell." Hoshiko said, excitedly.
Hayato's head came up at the explanation. He moved over to the futon, leaving his papers. "What are you trying to do... create a kidou that can hit like a zanpakutou?" he asked, eyes widening.
"Pretty close. We're just starting to figure out that it's theoretically possible to cleanse a Hollow with just kidou, rather than only with a zanpakutou." Hoshiko said, blushing under Hayato's intense scrutiny.
Everyone blinked at Hoshiko.
"You lost me," Kenshin said with a roll of his big shoulders. "But that last bit sounds great."
"Indeed," Hayato breathed. "That could change a lot of things. Being able to destroy them from a distance would make a huge difference."
Hoshiko blushed and nodded.
"Well, that sure makes our homework look pathetic," Kenshin said, wrinkling his nose.
"Well, pathetic or not, we need to get it done," Shunsui said, resigned. And they all turned their attention back to their classroom assignments.