Title: Rough hands

Style: One-shot
Genre: Slightly Romantic more General than anything.
Rating: PG-13 for language/thoughts

Zaraki Kenpachi shifted as the master medic of the fourth division flexed his hand this way and that, bending his fingers towards his palm and out again; gently massaging the oversized extremity.

He fidgeted again, clearing his throat out as Unohana Retsu started doing similar exercises with his wrist, bending it backwards and forwards.

"Is there anything the matter?" She focused on her patient as he cleared his throat a second time, her hands halting in their ministration.

"Nothin', just wondering why you're doin' this."

She smiled and continued with the exercises.
"Fighting is all about wielding a weapon and how efficiently you can wield it, correct?" He nodded. "Well, for that to happen, your body needs to be in good condition, that is why officers are required to visit this division half yearly."
She looked pointedly at him and continued, "But to be the most efficient, the person needs to exercise and to strengthen what they use to fight with. You wield a sword, therefore your hands need to be taken care of. If you had wielded another weapon you might need to strengthen other parts, but you wield a sword and your hands, arms and torso need to be strong. You take good enough care of the other two, it's only your hands that need these exercises and this extra care."

She laced her fingers through his, Zaraki wondering what the hell she was doing before she gripped and pushed, his knuckles giving off a series of cracks.
He snatched his hand back and wrung it, the suddenness of the move more alarming than the actual pain as she started the exercises again on his other hand.

"What the hell was that for woman?" He'd've rushed out of the room if she didn't have such a damn good grip on his other hand.

"Your knuckles get stiff sometimes don't they? Especially after sparring?" His stunned look confirmed it. "Cracking them can often alleviate the stiffness temporarily; it also releases a small amount of chemical that's similar to what's released when you battle."

He gave her one of his heavy lidded looks of slight respect as she twisted his wrist this way and that before lacing her fingers through his again and cracking them, finally finishing with the exercise.
His weight shifted as he anticipated her to tell him that he could go now. Instead she simply twisted to dig around in the cabinet beside her, searching around for something.

"Hey, can I go now?"

She ignored his question and asked another one of hers. "Your hands are rough and cracked. You've been practising without applying ointment haven't you?"

He blinked, replying, "M' hands have always been like that. When the kid was old enough to say her mind, but too little to bathe herself, she complained m' hands were too rough. Still does, as she can't rinse her hair out proper and gets th' bath water soapy, so I've to do it for her. Her 'ands aren't any better though. Comes from hangin' around and climbing things too often."

Unohana produced a small pot and held it out to him, dictating what it was for, "Apply this cream before and after an sparring plus after bathing. Tell Yachiru fuku-taichou to do similar."

"If you're gonna give me something like this, ya might as well give th' entire division some. 'Cept for the pretty bastard."

"I do not know the rest of your division as well as I do you and Yachiru fuku-taichou. It would be senseless to send off large amounts unless I knew there was actual need for it. If you need any more," she turned to place another pot on the cabinet, "all you need to do is drop in."

"If it works," he grunted, lifting it up and sniffing it. "Smells like oranges."

"It contains essences of several herbs and fruits, including bergamot orange and rosemary. It's no suprise," she smiled placidly.

They continued to be seated, patient and healer, for a minute; Zaraki sniffing the ointment and periodically rubbing a little on his fingertip and Unohana busying herself with documents.

"You do know the appointment is finished," the gentle voice stated mildly.

"Huh? Yeah, I know." He stood up, the lid on the small pot finally twisted back on. "Thanks for the ointment, 'm sure Yachiru will stop complainin' now." He grinned a manic goodbye, stopping behind her chair.
"Y'know, you might want to use some yourself, I've never seen rougher hands outside of the division before." He strode out of the room, captains cloak eddying and swishing through the door frame as he left the room.