Title: The Deep End

Pairings/Characters: Kenpachi/Shuuhei, Yumichika

Ratings: T

Warning: We enter slash territory here. And Language.

Words: 2916

Description: Last in the series, right behind Dance with the Devil! 'Take it like a man, Shuuhei,' he told himself. 'Take it like a man.'

Shuuhei was surrounded by silence.

Except for the warm wind and its faint scent of cherry blossoms. And a few birds. Vague shouts in the distance that were probably some minor disagreements. The leaves rustling in the scattered trees.

Alright. It was mostly silent.

Quiet, however, wasn't something that one would usually associate with Zaraki Kenpachi. Loud cackling maybe. The sound of battle possibly. A booming voice yelling at his subordinates even. Not really silence though. Yet, here, they were in the middle of nowhere Rukongai, meditating. Except Kenpachi was the only one actually concentrating.

Shuuhei was too busy having a mental meltdown.

He was fine with being good friends with Kenpachi. That didn't bother him at all. The eleventh division was becoming like a family to him. He was getting used to Yachiru's weight on his shoulder. He and Ikkaku spared often, which was reassuring since he had a bit more of a fighting chance against him than he did against Zaraki.

All in all, it seemed like things were going well for him. His division was prospering, and Amaterasu was speaking to him. Why, any day now he would be stumbling into his bankai. He was certain of it.

It was just, somewhere along the way, the friendship he shared with Kenpachi started to mean a bit more. It began to run just a little deeper. And before he knew what was happening, he had fallen into lust with the captain.

Literally. Head first, veins singing, and insanity all taking over.

It wasn't so much that Kenpachi was a man that bothered Shuuhei. He had never really defined himself by his sexuality anyway. He wasn't entirely inexperienced. There was a time, back when he had first become a vice-captain, that he and Izuru had fooled around a bit. They were both lonely, and at the time, it both had and hadn't mattered. They were friends, and that was all that was important.

No, it wasn't Kenpachi's sex that was the issue.

It was the insane urge to kiss Zaraki Kenpachi at all sorts of odd times even when they were doing something as normal as talking or sharing a bottle of sake. Or even sparring. After all, kissing was the sort of thing that got a person stabbed by a certain captain. Who, as far as Shuuhei knew, had never shown any sort of interest in men at all.

To his horror, Shuuhei had caught himself imagining and pondering. Wondering what it would be like to kiss Kenpachi. If he would be as forceful and consuming as his personality. How he would taste. Like steel and blood and sandalwood, Shuuhei imagined. Like something harsh and strong, nearly unbreakable. Like the pure rush of battle. Like something without constraint.

Somewhere along the way, friendship had turned into much, much more. And Shuuhei was damned if he knew how or when.

It certainly wasn't what he had intended, that day he barreled into the eleventh division and demanded answers. But he also supposed that was the way things worked concerning Zaraki Kenpachi. Completely unpredictable. Sweeping a person away, somehow managing to instill loyalty in the blink of an eye. It wasn't too much of a stretch for Shuuhei to have been easily swept up in Kenpachi's tide.

There, he was, desperately trying to swim along with all the other drowning idiots as Kenpachi led them somewhere. Anywhere really. It didn't honestly matter to them because Kenpachi was leading and that was what truly counted. It was sort of the same effect Kurosaki Ichigo had on the people he met, only Shuuhei didn't want to kiss Kurosaki-kun. He wanted to kiss Kenpachi.

Hard. With tongue even. And maybe some other stuff. Hands roaming and bare skin and teeth. Yes, he could involve teeth. Warm mouths and wet tongues. Fingers splaying across sinewy muscle. The thought simply made him shiver, in spite of the warmth of the day soaking into his skin.

He wasn't meditating at all.

Shuuhei had the feeling he was going just a bit insane. Only a person entirely out of their mind would consider kissing Zaraki Kenpachi. Or maybe someone with a death wish. Only Shuuhei liked living; he rather enjoyed it a lot. But that didn't stop the urges.

There was a lot to like in Kenpachi, after all. He was strong and confident, and he was able to think for himself rather than blindly follow rules. He inspired loyalty and was in turn loyal himself. He was kind enough to take care of an orphaned girl, though Shuuhei wouldn't ever say that aloud. And he was very, very attractive. Especially when he took his hair down from those spikes.

He wanted to lean over, right now, where they were, and kiss Zaraki Kenpachi. Just once. Or twice. More if the man would let him. Shuuhei had to know if it was just a passing madness, or if it really did mean something more like every instinct in his body was telling him it did. The last time he'd been this uncertain, he'd become friends with Zaraki. Shouldn't it stand to reason that everything would turn out fine this time?

Worse than his sudden attraction was the fact that he was certain Ayasegawa had already figured it out. The flirtatious fifth-seat was just too crafty for his own good.

Like today for instance, when Shuuhei had dropped by the eleventh to drag Kenpachi out for their weekly mediation attempts. Sometimes, the captain went willingly, sometimes he whined like a little kid. But every time, he eventually conceded and let Shuuhei drag him away from his "important paperwork." Bull. Shuuhei knew he only did it when he was bored.

It wasn't Kenpachi's reaction that he was recalling, however. It was Yumichika's.

He had arrived at the front entrance, no longer knocking anymore since he had a longstanding invitation. A few lower officers and unseated Shinigami had called out greetings to him, having learned to recognize him on sight. He had caught a glimpse of Yachiru chasing around Sneaky-Beard, whose real name he still hadn't learned.

Yumichika had been dusting of all things, humming under his breath as he swiped some feathered contraption around the vice-captain's office. And since it was Yachiru's office, which boggled Shuuhei's mind completely, it had been covered in finger-paints of questionable substances. There had been a neat stack of paperwork on her desk, not to mention toys. Lots of toys. And her zanpakutou. It had been resting neatly against the wall.

The fifth seat had smiled when he saw Shuuhei, pausing to place one hand on his hip. "Here to see taichou again, Hisagi-fukutaichou?" Yumichika asked in a light tone, but just the way he said it made so many implications.

Shuuhei had to fight down a blush. He must have been unsuccessful because the grin on Yumichika's face only grew wider. His eyes had turned even more predatory.

"Oh, that's precious," he had purred, idly waving the duster in the air. "So what are your plans for today, Shuu-chan?"

In two seconds he had gone from vice-captain to Shuu-chan. He would never understand Yumichika. And dammit, his blush had not been precious at all. It had been embarrassing, and he had fought to swipe it from his face with little success.

"Meditating," Shuuhei had blurted out to his utmost horror, displaying none of his usual calm. "Innocent meditation. So you know. Just like every other Friday."

Why he had felt suddenly defensive had been just chalked up to another one of those strange reactions that Ayasegawa always managed to bring out in him. The man was simply a demon in disguise.

One feathered brow had risen. "Oh?" Yumichika responded with an ever-widening grin. "Well, have fun then, Shuu-chan. The taichou's been waiting for you."

"Ayasegawa!" a voice had roared from the inner office.

Shuuhei had recognized it as a "Zaraki has been annoyed by his fifth-seat all day. Use Caution" bellow.

"Stop hassling Hisagi!"

"Hai, taichou!" Yumichika had practically sang, returning to his dusting, humming under his breath.

Shuuhei had watched him warily, waiting for the fifth-seat to say something else before he inched towards Zaraki's office. Where it was safe. Away from the insinuating Yumichika, who thought he knew everything and probably did since he could convince anyone with his weird, demonic powers. Kami-sama help the world if there were ever more of him.

He had escaped to Kenpachi's office, opening the door without so much of a knock since it wasn't expected anyway. It was a credit to how much he'd been around the man that he hadn't even blinked at the wave of reiatsu that had blasted him in the face. It had likely been a result of Ayasegawa. He knew that the fifth seat enjoyed tormenting his captain just for his own amusement. Kind of like father and daughter if he dared wrap his shattered mind around that.

Stepping inside, Shuuhei had closed the door behind him, blocking out Ayasegawa's presence. He had swept his eyes over the office. Kenpachi had been sitting behind his desk, a dark aura hanging over his head. Irritation had practically radiated from him.

"Ya know, he only bothers ya cause ya react like that," Kenpachi had stated with a snort.

Shuuhei had lifted a brow. "The same could be said for you." He had looked around pointedly. "The walls are practically shaking."

The captain had snorted again. "Came in here with that feathered shit and started chirpin' about brightenin' things up and flowers and some pansy shit. Had ta chase him out twice." His elbow had thunked on the desk as he plopped his chin on his palm.

It had been kind of cute, that indignation, and cute wasn't a word normally associated with Kenpachi. Cute like a baby tiger was cute, despite knowing it would mature and become a ferocious carnivore. Even that hint of danger hadn't keep Shuuhei from wanting to kiss Kenpachi, which had given him another bout of blush to fight down.

Kenpachi, seeming to sense his sudden craziness, had eyed him. "What's the matter with you?"

"Nothing," Shuuhei had responded hastily, banishing all lusty thoughts from his brain. "But we should probably get going."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Meditating." Kenpachi had grunted, still expressing his dislike for the whole thing. Yet, he had risen to his feet, glanced briefly at his paperwork, and then had reached for his still nameless sword.

His eye had flickered to the door, where Yumichika's humming could still be heard, before Kenpachi jerked a finger behind him. "We'll go out the back."

Shuuhei hadn't been able to fully express his relief. "Fine with me."

Yet, even as they had slipped out the back way, Ayasegawa couldn't help one last jab. "Have a good time!"

Damn insinuating fifth-seats.

And that was how they got here, to this place, meditating. Well, Kenpachi was concentrating. Shuuhei was still slowly losing his mind.

Giving up all pretenses, the lieutenant peeled open his eyes and stared at the object of his current thoughts. Kenpachi's eye was closed, his face slack in contemplation. He didn't look quite so fearsome when he wasn't grinning threateningly, even with the eyepatch. And the wind shook his spikes, making the bells tingle softly.

Shuuhei still wanted to kiss him. He was absolutely insane. The urge to lean over and try it, just once maybe, rose up strongly within him. Completely overriding his common sense. They really weren't that far apart, sitting side by side.

Tousen would have been horrified to learn of his former subordinate's thoughts at this moment. But Tousen wasn't here. He was in Hueco Mundo with the rest of the traitors, living with his justice. The thing that required he betray the people who mattered to him and wage war against Soul Society. Innocent lives would be lost for his justice. No, Tousen's opinion didn't matter very much at all. Not anymore.

The indecision tore at him, and Shuuhei chewed on his bottom lip. He was going to get nowhere if he remained a coward. And if it all went flat… well, Kenpachi would simply stab him. And he'd eventually heal. Then, they would later laugh about it.

It could work.

Seeming to sense his companion's mental issues, Kenpachi's eye suddenly popped open. "What's wrong, Shuuhei?" he asked with an amused grin. "Can't concentrate?"

Shuuhei didn't answer. He was going for it.

Before he could entirely convince himself to stop or his rationality could catch up with him, Shuuhei leaned over, closing the space between them. He pressed his mouth to a stunned Kenpachi's lips and kissed him. The overwhelming scent of sandalwood surrounded him. A drizzle of want spread down his spine.

Zaraki wasn't responding. And somehow, that thought pierced his brain. Shuuhei abruptly pulled back from the brief kiss.

Damn. Fuck.

He'd just kissed Zaraki Kenpachi.

Shuuhei blinked, his mind instantly conjuring up images of a bloody death. Being sliced to ribbons by a sword he was only starting to learn to block. Chewed to bits by a cranky Yachiru. Kenpachi cackling all the while.

He really knew how to screw things up.

A firm flush of heated scarlet flashed over Shuuhei's face as he unconsciously licked his lips, staring at an unblinking Zaraki. He couldn't interpret the look on the man's face, too busy having a mental freak-out.

Shuuhei cleared his throat. "Umm... oh, shit."

Oh good, Shuuhei. There went his points for being eloquent.

He fidgeted, fingers clamped on his knees, not returning to his own space and instead just staring. Why the hell hadn't Kenpachi said anything? He could have sworn twenty years had passed in the last two seconds. Damn, wouldn't the man just blink! And why hadn't the bloodbath started yet?

Sweat trickled on his forehead. He knew it. He was about to receive a very disturbing death, a very painful end. He would be cut to bloody pieces, which would years later be found even in Hueco Mundo.

Kenpachi stirred, a hand reaching out.

He fought the urge to run. 'Take it like a man, Shuuhei,' he told himself. 'Take it like a man.'

Kenpachi grabbed his upper arm, fingers wrapping around a bicep, and tugged.

Shuuhei was ready to meet his fate, heart pounding in his chest.

Kenpachi kissed him.

His mind absolutely short-circuited.

There were lips pressed against his, far less hesitant than his own pansy attempt at kissing and far more demanding. Hungry and interested. Shuuhei's mouth fell open, and then, there was tongue, wet and slippery, sliding into his mouth. A shiver of warmth spread through his body as he made a noise.

Please, Kami, don't let that have been a really pathetic moan.

Shuuhei finally responded, waking up from his daze and returning the kiss with equal fervor. He didn't allow himself to think, instead concentrating on the here and now, not the possibly bloody future.

And then, it was over, Shuuhei licking his lips as if trying to savor the taste. He knew the look on his face probably resembled that of a scared rabbit.

"What's that look for?" Kenpachi grunted, his fingers still wrapped around Shuuhei's arm. "Ya look like you're expectin' to be stabbed or somethin'."

Well, that had been his initial belief.

Shuuhei blinked. "I kissed you."

Kenpachi snorted. "Yeah? And I kissed ya back."

"But I kissed you."

Clearly, he had lost his brain somewhere. Possibly back in Kenpachi's office with Ayasegawa and his insinuating grins.

A single dark eye stared at him. "You're not quick on the uptake, are ya? Tousen completely scramble that brain?"

"But I kissed you."

He was really stuck on that point for some reason, still cringing and waiting for the last hammer to fall. Doubt was still creeping into his thought processes… or lack thereof.

"Ya act like you've never done this before."

Shuuhei bristled. "I have!" he countered and then abruptly deflated. "That doesn't bother you?"

One eyebrow arched. "Che. Should it?" Kenpachi shrugged, one finger of his other hand sticking in his ear and idly cleaning it out. "Women're nice and all, but they're delicate. I might break 'em or somethin'. And then kids." He gave a shudder. "I got one brat. That's enough."

"You have a point," Shuuhei mused aloud.

And then, Kenpachi was kissing him again, having given up on trying to talk. It effectively cut off any other befuddled protest Shuuhei might have been able to dredge up. Apparently, there wasn't going to be any bloodshed, which he was rather glad to learn. He would survive, all limbs intact.

He idly wondered if Kenpachi liked scarves.

Hunger stirred in Shuuhei's belly, lusty thoughts ping-ponging inside his brain, knocking against one another. He had the desire to drag Kenpachi back to his house and do... something. A lot of something. Hell, he'd figure it out when he got there.

The kiss ended, much to Shuuhei's disappointment. And they were left staring at each other. The vice-captain wondered what was supposed to happen next.

Then, Kenpachi smirked, answering all of his unvoiced questions.

"Well, Yachiru has been asking for a mommy."

Shuuhei supposed it could have been worse.

a/n: I have reached the end! So... did I shock you with teh slash? Lemme know! Believe it or not, I had this in mind from number two! Blind was actually supposed to be in my drabble series Seireitei Monogatari but I saw the potential for a longer continuation and thus! This is born.

I hope you enjoyed. I'd be much obliged for some feedback. Thanks!