A/N: Grr... Boris is back in angst mode, this is what happens when I have a stressful week. *Sighs* Please don't kill me for this.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters the belong to Tite Kubo.
Warnings: Character death, violence, angst.
Fratres Usque In Finem
The winter breeze swept through the air chilling those who passed through it to the bone with it's bitter bite. From on high the pale, red tinted moon illuminated the world below giving the world below a sinister yet otherworldly glow.
Standing beneath the tainted moonlight long white hair fluttering in the breeze stood a man, old eyes watching the bustling life below. He smiled gently sweeping a few strands of hair from his pale face, an odd aura of melancholy surrounding him as he waited.
There was a rustle in the trees behind him and the pale man turned eyes narrowing in distrust as a figure emerged from the brush, hand instinctively flying to the hilt of his Zanpaktou.
The new arrival stood silently taking in every detail of the scene before him. Dark eyes swept across the ghostly form clad in nothing but a thin robe, the only sign of his incarceration, while he too was observed by dulled hazel orbs.
The two friends stared one another down, the tension between them thick enough to cut with a knife.
"I see you found me, I thought you might."
Ukitake's voice was somewhat wistful but lacked any real element of surprize, his hand remaining firmly gripped around his sword. Kyōraku noticed the reaction and frowned.
The pale man tilted his head, eyes glazed over with hidden emotion.
"I don't want to talk Shunsui, my mind is made up and you can't change it."
The brunette grimaced and sighed this was what he'd been afraid of, he'd been afraid that his friends stubborn nature would rear it's ugly head. He made to step forward but stopped as he caught Jūshirō's gaze and inwardly winced at how worn he looked. It had been a little over a week since either man had seen one another but even in such a short time Shunsui could see the difference in the other man. It was in every minute movement, every shift of reiatsu and it made the brunette's heart ache. It appeared being locked away had not bore Ukitake well.
"This can't be the only way, what on earth were you thinking escaping like that?"
The wind whipped through the clearing rustling through the thin robes that Jūshirō wore causing him to shudder slightly. His lips pulled down into a frown and there was a steely look of resolution in his eyes as the white-haired man withdrew Sogyo no Kotowari and rose it against his oldest friend.
"I grow weary of this idle chatter Shunsui, it is time to end this."
Kyōraku's eyes went wide as he watched the silver blade sweep up, the point aiming directly at his heart. The shock subsided quickly and the grim realisation set in, he knew his friend would not be dissuaded from his path and both of them had come to far to turn back now. Slowly and deliberately he drew the twin blades of Katen Kyokotsu feeling their consciousness bristle against his own at the situation.
"I agree old friend, this charade has gone on long enough... Flower wind rage and flower god roar. Heavenly wind rage and Heavenly demon sneer Katen Kyokotsu."
There was a melancholy in Shunsui's voice as he released the blades, they instantly transformed and the blackness of the metal seemed to absorb the moonlight around them. Shunsui gripped the dual hilts tightly and readied his stance as Ukitake released his own Zanpaktou, a wave of pure energy washing over them.
The two Captain's stood stoicly assessing one another for a nanosecond before throwing themselves into the fight, instantly slipping into flash-step and disappearing from sight before flickering to land a blow. The two twin swords clashed against one another, a sonic boom pulsating outwards as they came into contact due to the sheer speed of the strikes.
The air sung with the sound of swinging metal, the deadly melody ringing true and clear in the silence of the night. Neither man appeared to be gaining the upper hand both too familiar with the others style to let a critical blow land. Moonlight glinted off sweat-slicked skin as both men pushed for dominance trying in desperate earnest to overpower their opponent. Blades clashed again sending sparks into the night sky as they hacked and slashed at one another, the glancing strikes enough to spray the ground with a fine mist of blood.
Jūshirō panted slightly ignoring the brutal burning sensation in his chest as he adjusted his grip on Sogyo no Kotowari. He could hear the twin boys in the back of his mind whimpering softly but he had no time to mentally console them before Kyōraku was on him again Katen Kyokotsu slashing downwards. The white haired man barely dodged the incoming strike, the dark blade catching the long ends of his hair and slicing them clean away. He jumped away to momentarily regroup before charging wildly at the other man.
There was a brief moment where Shunsui's eyes went wide at the wild attack but he quickly recovered and shifted his stance a dead look in his eyes. Time slowed to almost a halt as he moved the smaller of the blades into a direct striking range and lunged forward. Jūshirō's face flickered for a second as pain overwhelmed his nerves and the momentary lapse was all that was needed, the wakizashi drove home right through Ukitake's abdomen.
The hazel eyes went wide when the blade pierced his flesh before softening as he slumped forward into Kyōraku's arms.
The brunette caught him gently and lowered him to the ground, the fight instantly draining from both combatants as blood seeped into their clothing.
"Thank you Shunsui, you kept your promise."
The words were whispered through bloodied lips and Shunsui looked away his eyes glistening with unshed tears.
"How long?" He asked tentatively.
There was a gurgled sound that Kyōraku guessed was a chuckle.
"A day... Maybe two.."
The white-haired man coughed violently blood erupting from his mouth after a few minutes it subsideded and Ukitake gave a weak smile.
"Don't be sad Shun... Like I said I had a few days left and we've both known this has been coming for a long time. I'm content, you kept your promise."
"A fucked up promise Juu..."
"But a promise none the less and you did keep it, you saved me from wasting away..."
The dark eyes were inconsolable.
"By striking you down..."
"By letting me die a warriors death, rather than that of an invalid, by doing what no one else would or could, you saved my pride, my dignity, me... I can never repay what you've given me tonight."
There was another barrage of coughs and Shunsui did the best he could to make his friend comfortable as his life slipped away. He knew his friend would soon be free of pain and he had to admit the knowledge wasn't as comforting as he'd hoped. Brushing a hand across the pale forehead the brunette tried to soothe the weakening man by reccounting some of their earlier misadventures, his voice a steady baritone despite his grief.
Ukitake smile serenely as he listened his pale hand grasping Kyōraku's as a sign of reassurance that his friends actions had been the right ones. He felt his eyelids become heavy as a peaceful weariness struck him and try as he might he couldn't keep them open to listen to the end of the tale. Deciding that it wasn't worth the effort he let them slip shut, the gentle smile still stretched across his lips as the last trickle of his life force ebbed away.
As the pale hand fell limp from his own Shunsui finally succumbed to his grief sobbing in earnest over his best friends lifeless body. The pain was all consuming burning him right to the depths of his soul and he didn't give a damn.
Jūshirō was dead.
Jūshirō was dead by his hand.
Even if it was what the other man wanted and what they had both agreed to it didn't stop it from hurting any less.
He wasn't sure how long he sat there in mourning but it wasn't until the sun began to peek over the horizon that he felt another presence. The slow burn of reiatsu should have been a comfort to Shunsui but how could it be when he had just robbed the other presence of someone he considered a son.
Yamamoto walked into the clearing already well aware of what he expected to find. He met the brunette's gaze and was filled with a sadness that was bone deep at the look of broken despair on Shunsui's face.
"It's what he wanted Yama-Jii.."
Kyōraku's voice was so quiet the old man almost missed it.
"I know my boy, I know."
Their gazes met once again and Yamamoto was reminded of the lost, angry young man he'd taken under his wing all those centuries ago.
"What do I do now?"
The words almost broke the elders heart.
"We mourn and we move on, Jūshirō would not want you to wallow... He knew you would be stronger than this."
Shunsui swallowed hard unable to find the words to refute his mentors claim and stared down at the body laying just in front of him, the smile of utter peace still etched across the pale features.
"You are stronger than this Shunsui do not doubt it."
And for that brief moment in time the brunette believed him.
A/N: *Stares blankly at screen* Okay I am so angry at myself for writing this, this piece of tripe... I really am. I don't even know why I wrote it...
Let me know what ya think.