To Be Loved

I don't own Bleach. Pairing: Ukitake x Soifon. Don't like, take a hike.

Standing all the way out in the street she could still hear that awful racking cough that meant, like every other day of the week, and if he was really unlucky, every other hour, the Captain of the Thirteenth division was ill, again.

Soifon hissed through her teeth and berated herself for coming here. Whatever possessed her that this would be a good idea? It sure wasn't her natural kind and giving personality, that much was certain. She just didn't buy into the whole spontaneous kindness shindig, and if she needed another reason, she hardly knew Ukitake aside from his very rare star appearances at their Captain's meetings.

She would have thought he would steer clear of her too. Even when he did turn up they were at opposite ends of the room, with not even the option for casual (at least on his part) conversation. You couldn't put much more distance between them if you tried. What about her was likeable anyways? Not a whole lot, unless you were Kenpachi Zaraki looking for a fighting partner. Ah well, at least she had one friend, even if they used her to some extent, it wasn't deceitful, like Yoruichi's methods had been. Which brought them full circle.

The last time that Yoruichi had left, she had nearly broken down. She, who prided herself on being so strong could be reduced to a teary mess by the very one she had claimed to have surpassed was just wrong. None of the others really got it. They thought she was a lesbian, even though she and Yoruichi had no romantic relationship, only the adoring little sister looking up to big sister kind. And if that wasn't the case, then they weren't much interested anyways. They didn't know her, she was just fodder for their drunken ramblings.

But one person treated her differently. One person treated her like someone who, with all their power and rank, had feelings beneath the disdainful mask.

And he was the current reason she stood alone outside this building. She had never even been here before, not even for paperwork purposes. There was always someone else to send. Though she would never have admitted, she had slight trouble locating the other division. And over her dead body would she have asked anyone, lest they question her motives for wanting to know. Not that they would dare.

Lately he had had a spate of bad spells that had quieted even his ever squabbling third seats to an extent. He was well liked, and nearly everyone in the Seireitei had either visited or sent well wishes, even those unemotional ones like Byakuya and even Nemu, though her father was absent. Probably for the best, any kind of 'well wishing' coming from him would most likely kill him faster.

So, when it came down to it, she was the only one left, though she owed more to him than anyone knew, not even the man himself.

And it was why she was finding this oh so difficult. So seldom did anyone do something that was purely for her own comfort, and peace of mind, that when they did, she didn't know how to react.

'Better get it over with' she thought dejectedly. Forcing her reluctant feet to move she entered the grounds of the Thirteenth. When she walked through the door, Kiyone and Sentaro were standing in the centre of the room, both with hands on hips, standing so close their foreheads were almost touching. Arguing again. She walked right up to them and cleared her throat and they both looked at her in surprise. Both started simultaneously and saluted.

"Soifon-taicho!" they cried. "What can we do for you?"

"I'm here to visit Ukitake-taicho. Is he well enough for visitors?" she asked simply. The duo shared stunned looks before turning back to her. "I suppose he is…" Kiyone started hesitantly "…he has been sleeping all day after all" Sentaro finished. She nodded. "Then may I see him?".

"We'll show you to his room" they said together and she followed them down the hall. She noticed the atmosphere, and how different it was to her own division. However, she supposed that there wasn't much comparison. She and Ukitake differed greatly in personality, and her division was a hugely combat and espionage centred one, whereas here, there was a safer feeling, a peaceful one. One she might get used to if she wasn't careful.

They arrived. The two knocked. "Ukitake-taicho! You have a visitor" A muffled cough was heard before a call of "Let them in" was heard. Kiyone and Sentaro bowed low to her before opening the door. Soifon walked through and heard it slide shut behind her. Trapped.

The patient raised his head to see the last person he had ever expected would seek him out enter his room and sit down by his side. "Ukitake-taicho" she greeted stiffly.

"Er…hello Soifon-taicho" he replied nervously, wondering why on earth she was here. Maybe to deliver a message from the General? Yes, that must be it.

"So what brings you to my division Captain?" he asked jokingly, seeing as she had bowed her head and looked strangely like she was daydreaming. Her head snapped up and her cheeks were revealed to be a dusted a light rose shade that Jyuushiro found very attractive. It looked good on her, though he could hardly say so.

"Um, I had heard that…you had had another relapse of your illness…and decided to visit you…" she trailed off lamely and looked away. Had she not, the shock on his face would surely have made her run for the hills. Recovering somewhat, he managed to squeeze out "Oh, well thank you"

She couldn't see his face and she still wanted to die. The surprise in his voice made her cringe inside. Why did she even come? He must have dozens of visitors that were better than her to entertain him.

Jyuushiro bit his lip as he watched her. Evidently she felt awkward now, and he hated to be the cause of other people's discomfort. He'd better say something fast.

"So, how are things outside? Any new word of what exactly Aizen's plotting?" he asked desperately. Soifon heaved a sigh of relief as he said that. A safe topic. He'd given her a way out.

She sat up in her seat all business and began "Well the data coming in from Division Twelve is saying that the numbers of arrancar don't seem to be decreasing. If anything, they seem to be multiplying at a massive rate. A few days ago I lost eight of my officers when they went to check out a tip off. They were outnumbered approximately five to one. What's worse, this has revealed that their surveillance is improving, for we had no idea that any of them, never mind that many, were still there. We thought they had fled. Instead, they know exactly where to find us, and take full advantage of that".

Jyuushiro interrupted with a frown. "From what you're telling me it sounds like they have had too much success to be considered merely lucky. Have you looked into the possibility of a mole?"

His question startled her. She actually hadn't. "No, but on your suggestion I will do so as soon as I return to my division" He nodded and they remained in silence for a minute. Then he asked another question and they started again. By the time they had exhausted all work-related topics the sun was beginning to go down.

Jyuushiro looked out the window. "My my, we have been talking for a long time haven't we?" he mused aloud. Soifon made a small noise of assent. She had become so comfortable over the last few hours spent chatting that she wondered what she had been so afraid of. She should've known he wouldn't make it difficult for her.

Soifon decided to bite the bullet and say what she had been feeling. "I had a nice time talking to you" she murmured honestly. He turned back to her, without surprise this time she saw, because she was able to meet his eyes now. "I did too" he whispered softly. The silence that came after was one both wished could never be broken. But all good things must come to an end.

"Ukitake-taicho, Soifon-taicho, we're going home now!" Kiyone and Sentaro called through the door. Both addressees called back their assent. They heard them leave, arguing all the way out. Soifon chuckled uncharacteristically, making Jyuushiro glance her way, taken aback at hearing her laugh.

"Are those two always like that?" she asked. He gave a wry smile. "Every minute" he replied ruefully. Both laughed.

Soifon looked at the darkening sky with regret. "I should be getting back home too" she said, but she didn't move. "Do you want to go?" he asked her quietly. She thought about it. "No, I don't" she told him honestly. A gentle smile took over his face. "Then don't. Stay" he implored.

Soifon had so many things to think about then that she didn't know what to start with. And he didn't give her the time to either. He reached out and grabbed her hand. "Please stay" he begged her. The pleading in his eyes broke down her iron defences like they were children's building blocks and she found herself giving into the man it was rapidly becoming hard to say no to.

"Alright then. I will stay" she whispered, eyes downcast with embarrassment, cheeks flushed that lovely cerise pink once more. This time he felt it was safe to voice his thoughts. "You…look good in pink" he said softly, though not without a touch of humour. Soifon looked at him, totally confused, and then copped on, her hands flying up to cover her flaming cheeks.

"Thank you, I suppose" she muttered in embarrassment. He laughed, but it didn't feel like he was laughing at her. No, he would never do that. Each marvelled at how comfortable they had become with each other in mere hours.

But it was now decidedly late, and she knew that he needed his rest. "I will retire now. You need to sleep" she informed him and she rose from her chair. His eyes followed her feet on their path to the door rather sadly. For once, sleep didn't seem as appealing as it should have.

"Goodnight Soifon" he sighed, and closed his eyes. He didn't hear an answer. Opening his eyes again, he saw that she had stopped in the doorway, her hand resting on the frame.

"Soifon?" he asked questioningly. She turned around, and from what the moonlight allowed him to see of her face, it was twisted in indecision. Finally she spoke. "I…haven't been entirely honest" she got out eventually, causing the man to raise an elegant white eyebrow.

"Mm hm. I did come to see you, as I said, but I wanted to say something too".

His thoughts were racing. What could she possibly want to tell him? His body dipped to the left as a weight bore down on his mattress. He looked up at the woman, who seemed to be finding it difficult speaking right now. He caught her wringing hands in his own and made her look into his eyes.

"Whatever it is you can tell me" he told her softly, and the way he said it, gave her courage. If anyone would listen to her, it was him.

"You already know" she whispered. "When Yoruichi left last time, I was ready to fall apart. Every day I began to break a little more, piece by piece. And nobody noticed, nobody cared…except you"

He knew perfectly well what she was talking about, though to have her actually telling him herself spoke volumes for how much she wanted to say this.

"It was clear to me how you were suffering, how much you needed there to be someone to support you. For even for one as strong as you are, like all of us, you need to know that someone cares" he followed softly.

She bowed her head. "That day, I was ready to just give in, and to hell with everything. I didn't care anymore. I had nothing to hope for anymore" His hands began lightly rubbing over hers, their warmth giving her the courage she needed. "And then you found me. You took me in your arms and you let me cry. You consoled me where all others would have shunned me and without any ulterior motive at all. And you told me, that I had to learn to love myself before others could".

Soifon raised her head to look at him defiantly. "And I think I do now".

"When I saw you like that, curled up like something waiting for death, I couldn't do nothing. I just wanted you to be happy, because I knew she wouldn't come back. I couldn't stand to see you in pain anymore, so I did what felt right. I know I'm a poor substitute, but can you accept that I, at least, care about you?" he asked her pleadingly.

Soifon smiled earnestly. "I can. I did when you carried me all the way back to my bed, and tucked me in. I'd never experienced that kind of comfort before, not even in my childhood, and I was so overcome that it was only later I realized…I hadn't thanked you. I meant to do it the next day, but you fell ill, and the whole Gotei was in chaos…there never seemed to be a moment…until now".

She leant closer to him until their breaths mingled and kissed his cheek. "So now I'm saying it. Thank you Jyuushiro, for saving me from myself" she whispered , her tone full of gratitude she could never wholly express, for it was too bounteous. Soifon found herself yanked down and she yelped, but she only hit a soft pillow.

Jyuushiro gazed at her in unconcealed affection. "If you'll let me, I promise I will never let you down. I will always be there for you, always cherish you, always love you" These last words made her eyes go wide with shock. Dozens of questions along the lines of 'When', 'Why' and 'How' flew through her mind, but she asked none of them. The loving gaze burning into her was enough to render them, and all speech unnecessary. She simply cuddled into his embrace and once again, they were silent.

"I guess I'm not going to the guest room" Soifon muttered into his chest. He chuckled, making her body and her heart bounce a little at the vibration. "If you like you can, but then I'd be lonely" he said cheekily. She snuggled into him more and he dragged the blankets over them both.

Who knew what this day would bring. If someone had said this morning that she would be in bed with Captain Ukitake, she would've advised that they go over to Kurotsuchi's lab and get their brain replaced, after she was done blushing and whacking them upside the head enough for them to need a brain transplant of course. Miss Perfectly Organised couldn't have foreseen this, and for once in her life, she was just fine with that.

And both of them were completely happy with what she said next.



"I've just realised…I love you too"

Yes, they were just fine with their lives, exactly the way they were.

Well there it is. Cripes, over two and a half thousand words! See what happens when I try to do an under a thousand one. THIS! But still, I'm very happy with it. I know that the chances of many people liking this pairing are akin to an ice cream factory in hell taking off, but I think I did the pairing well.

I know they're a bit OOC but I have excuses for that! One, I've seen very little of them in the anime and I can't get a hold of more. And with my useless internet and exam work I don't have time to go through all 300 and whatever chapters to find them. If any of you have a little free time do you think you might compile a chapter list where they are in the manga? With all aspects of their character, because I don't know enough to be really confident, even I think I did good with this. If anyone, or everyone, would, I'd appreciate it.

Second excuse: I know that Soifon is very tough and uncaring normally, That much I know. And about Yoruichi. That's why I think that its okay to let her appear this vulnerable

Well that's about it, just one more thing. I'm looking for good stories, romance mainly, multipairing preferably. Though sheer brilliant humour or adventure is welcome too. Please tell me your favourites!

And please review :)