Part One: Disposability

The way Soul Society was hobbling around as if in a daze after the devastating departure of three of its finest reminded Shuuhei very strongly of one of his first missions. It had been the farthest from Tokyo he had ever been and they had to deliver so many souls… so many of them were still wandering around, looking for the charred remains of their bodies. Those alive looked like they were searching for the same thing.

Needless to say, it had left a mark on him. A strong mark. He had never wanted to see souls so miserable, so lost, ever again. And yet, here they all were.

It was an unspoken rule to keep all personal emotions out of your job. For the most part, he was very good about it. That's what his division always told him. He had a difficulty showing emotions, his friends told him.

But when he looked in the mirror this time around, he found himself looking just as lost as everybody else, with more. He looked like he had just been used once and tossed into the trash. He felt like he had been used once and tossed into the trash.

What happened to things tossed in the trash? He didn't know. But it was all he could help wondering as he, too, wandered around Soul Society in a daze. None of these haunted eyes seemed to ask the same question, but they also didn't seem to have his answer either. He scanned the crowd searching.

When their eyes connected, it took Hisagi Shuuhei a minute to remember that he truly wasn't alone. Amidst the crowd of lost souls, Kira Izuru stared back at him.

And his eyes mirrored the same question and at the same time the same understanding.

Indeed, where do things used once and tossed into the trash end up?

--

Part Two: First Date

"Thank you, Hisagi-san," Kira said for what was probably the third time this evening. It made his dark-haired friend smile a little to hear it each time, the note of politeness in that sweet voice.

"Really, it's nothing," he says for the third time that evening. "It's a good night to eat out."

Really, beneath his polished surface, he's in turmoil. These polite niceties with the man who has grown to be his best friend in the last few years aren't personal in the slightest. Kira talks this way with everybody and he talks in the same manner to the same people.

"Well, yes," the blonde agrees with the tiny little smile he's learned to put on for his entire life. That lesson comes in such handy nowadays, Shuuhei notes. "But there are other things that this nice night could be used for, Hisagi-san. Is there any particular reason you chose to, of all things, come to dinner with, of all people, myself?"

And suddenly, Shuuhei kind of wishes for the impersonal politeness again. Because this Kira asks questions that he wasn't quite ready to answer yet, and questions that don't really have much of an impersonal reason. He pauses for a long minute, and wonders if he can blame the red beginning to blossom in his cheeks on the spicy food he finished nearly fifteen minutes ago. He's drinking tea and not sake, so there's nothing else he can blame it on.

Finally, the words come, as guilt-sodden as the expressions passed between them those first two days of consoling each other. "I just wanted to spend more time with you." He knew that it wouldn't get left at that, it never did.

Sure enough, delicate golden brows that were already usually contorted in some heartbreaking expression knitted closer in confusion and he gave the most adorable, oblivious look Shuuhei had seen on anybody in a long time. "Do we not spend enough? I'm not saying that I would protest, but if you're still feeling lonely, I would be more than happy to come over sometimes, or-"

"I mean it differently," Shuuhei said evenly, looking down at the remains of his food. He had to stop the tangle of words produced from that sweet mouth. Somehow, Kira would find a way to blame it on himself, and the dark-haired man didn't think he could bear that tonight. "I mean it on another level."

He only had to look up once to see the look of mutual understanding in Kira's eyes.

--

Part Three: First Kiss

"Shuuhei!"

The tired Shinigami looked up from where he was coming in from a mission and his eyes immediately brightened for two reasons: Kira was there to take him home and Kira was using his first name, something it had taken weeks to get him to even attempt. The dark haired man grinned and made his way through the crowd, hugging the small blonde affectionately.

"You look tired," Kira said as he pulled away, rather obviously.

"I also look like shit and probably smell worse," his boyfriend (of nearly two months, unofficially) responded, making a face. "Can we hit the bath house?"

"Of course." He knew he needn't have asked; sometimes it annoyed him, but Kira never had any reason to say no to anything Shuuhei asked. The blonde darted his way through the crowd and onto the less crowded walk ways of Seireitei as his tired boyfriend tagged along, envisioning the sweetness of warm water already.

He was also envisioning the sweetness of a naked Kira Izuru in that bath with him. But that was definitely an image for another time. Their relationship had to go slow. Well, didn't i have /i to. But Shuuhei wouldn't let it go any quicker, not after a few tiny remarks about Kira's past with Ichimaru. Shuuhei could put two and two together and he wouldn't dare use his boyfriend's eager to please nature to his own advantage like the sick bastard of a captain had.

He hadn't realized Kira stopped until he knocked into the smaller man. Confused, he looked up and didn't see the looming building of the bath house before them.

"Kira, what-"

"Shuuhei."

That took him by surprise. Kira never cut him off, not even when he was drunk and lost a little bit of the tight control over the manners he had ingrained into his head. It actually made him kind of nervous until the blonde turned around, slowly.

Over the months, Shuuhei had become fluent in Kira's body language. After such a long time of behaving a certain way around his commandeering captain, it had taken a bit to break Kira of certain habits, but he still went back to them when nervous. He had been recently doing very well about looking people in the eye as he spoke, but now his head was bent so that he was several inches shorter than his true height and his eyes were obscured by that dangling lock of hair. He wasn't saying anything.

"Kira, what's up? Come on, look at me." Sometimes it just took some coaxing to snap the boy out of it. This time, he looked up and blushed before looking back down. Shuuhei smiled softly and got down to his level instead. It pained him when his boyfriend did these things, mostly because it was like he couldn't stop it sometimes.

He wasn't prepared for Kira to move a little bit closer when he got down that far. His heart rate increased a little when they were close enough for Kira's breath to leave his nose a little bit moist. That breathing hitched once, as if unsure, and before Shuuhei could think, the soft mouth was pressed against his own.

He didn't need to be asked to kiss back, but he did it carefully, part of his mind in shock that Kira would initiate it and the other part glad that he did, because that meant that he surely wanted. Shuuhei wouldn't have said no.

As they broke that first kiss in their relationship, Kira straightened again, though his face remained flushed, and their eyes met.

Just like always, there was a mutual understanding.