A/N I know that this is a rather large time gap and you'd all want to know what was going on with Juu and Starrk in that time, but you'll still find out within the next couple of chapters. I just felt it more appropriate to take this route :)

Two months had passed by, and Byakuya just couldn't work out why Jūshirō seemed so happy and eager to engage in sexual activities after having gone through an emotional breakdown for unknown reasons. It didn't make sense to him, but no matter how many times he tried to ask Jūshirō about what was happening, the topic was quickly changed to something different. Ukitake was hiding something, and Byakuya wanted to know what.

Kuchiki picked his phone up from the coffee table, deciding that he would remind his boyfriend of their lunch date and perhaps suggest a movie afterwards. He put his book down where his phone was and hit the dial button, waiting for Jūshirō to answer.

"Hello?" Jūshirō's uncertain voice said into the phone.

Byakuya's eyebrow rose; Ukitake clearly hadn't looked at his caller ID before he answered the call. Very unlike Jūshirō. "Jūshirō, it's Byakuya."

"Oh, hi, Byakuya-kun!" Jūshirō sounded bright and happy once again. "What's up?"

"Are you still able to come on our date today?" Byakuya asked. "I was thinking we could see a movie afterwards."

"...Oh..." If Byakuya had not known Jūshirō for as long as he had and sat with him through countless attacks, he may have believed the fake cough Jūshirō made. But he knew his boyfriend too well to fall for it. "I'm sorry, Byakuya-kun; I haven't been feeling the best. Can we change it for tomorrow, please?"

"...Sure..." Byakuya's suspicion rose when he heard someone murmur in the background. "I will come and get you around twelve..."

"Okay!" All pretence of being sick was gone, replaced once again by Ukitake's happy demeanour. "See you then!"

Before Byakuya could even open his mouth to tell the other that he loved him (or as close as he could get to those words), Jūshirō hung up without saying anything more. The raven couldn't help but feel hurt by this action, knowing that something had been going on with Jūshirō ever since the first time he had asked for sex.

"Rukia?" Byakuya called as he stood up and moved to the stairs. He knocked on his sister's bedroom door before he opened it slowly, not wanting to disturb her if she was sleeping; Rukia had been ill and was home from school. When the girl smiled at him, Byakuya returned the expression. "I am going to see Kyōraku. I'll return shortly."

Rukia nodded and closed her eyes again as her brother closed the door behind him.

Something's not right... Byakuya thought to himself as he prepared for his trip across town. I knew something hasn't been right ever since... Ever since everything stopped feeling right, all that time ago... He's been avoiding all our dates, making excuses and faking his illness...

Byakuya couldn't help but fear the worst as he drove through the busy streets. He was upset that he wasn't making his boyfriend as happy as he thought he had been, and that Jūshirō may have found more happiness with someone other than him.

Please, don't let my thoughts be right... Byakuya couldn't help but wipe at the stray tear that trailed down his cheek. Please... He's my world...


Shunsui sighed as Nanao snatched his sake bottle from him and put on his most pitiful expression. "Nanao-chan, please?"

"No." Nanao moved the bottle out of her boyfriend's reach as the brunet tried to grab it back. "I'm sick of you drinking yourself to death because you were being a jerk to your best friend and caused him to stop talking to you."

"He shouldn't have been stupid," Shunsui muttered under his breath.

"You should have been more understanding." Ise narrowed her eyes, glaring dangerously at the older male. "He was reaching out to you, Shunsui! And all you did was treat him like a child that was making a stupid decision with the inability to know what's good for him."

"I'm sick of hearing about this, Nanao-chan..." Shunsui truly sounded defeated. "He wouldn't listen to reason and was going to get himself hurt! All I wanted was to protect him, and now he refuses to talk to me!"

"I would, too, if I had reached out like that to you and you just pushed me away."

Before Shunsui could reply, a knock on the door sounded. He glanced at Nanao, neither of them expecting any visitors, and moved to get the door. He opened it, surprised to find a distraught Byakuya standing there.

"Byakuya-kun?" Shunsui reached out and pulled his friend into the apartment. "Are you okay?"

Byakuya shook his head, wiping at his wet eyes. "H-have you spoken to Jūshirō lately...?"

Shunsui sighed and threw his arms up in defeat. "You know what? I'm sick of hearing about Jūshirō! Nanao-chan bitches at me all the time because I wouldn't support him in feeling things for someone that's only going to hurt him, and now you're on at me, too! I can't win!"

"W-what?" Byakuya frowned; he didn't know that Shunsui and Jūshirō were on bad terms. And what was this about feelings...? "What are you talking about?"

"Oh, he didn't tell you?" Shunsui snorted. "Figures. He's been –"

"Shunsui!" Nanao jumped forward and brought her book down upon the taller man's head, cutting him off. "Don't! Don't you dare! I know you're upset, but you're just going to make everything worse!"

"Why?" Shunsui sounded bitterer than Byakuya had ever heard him. "Because I'm about to tell him the truth about his boyfriend? He needs to hear it, Nanao-chan!"

"You aren't going to say a word to him," Nanao growled as she pushed the heavy male towards the bedroom. "You're going to be staying in the bedroom so I can tell him."

Byakuya's heart thumped violently as he watched the brunet get shoved along. So his feelings had been right... Jūshirō wasn't happy with him... He moved to sit on the couch, waiting for Nanao to return, trying his hardest to keep his tears in check.

"It seems you figured out what the idiot was talking about, huh?"

Byakuya looked up at Nanao's gentle voice. He nodded, moving over to make room on the couch for the girl. "...I was so... stupid..."

"You weren't stupid." Nanao put her hand on the quivering shoulder. "You just wanted to believe that you were the only one in Jūshirō's life. It's normal."

"...Why has no one said anything...?" Byakuya found himself whispering. "...Why...?"

"Because we honestly don't know if Jūshirō truly is cheating on you or not, Byakuya. He's... Jūshirō is conflicted. He doesn't understand his own feelings. Ever since that night, when those people abused him –"

"What...?" Byakuya's frown deepened; what was Nanao talking about...? "Abused him...?"

"He didn't tell you that, either..." Nanao sighed. "This is what he told Shun and I. He told us he had been walking home after a date with you, and had refused a lift home. He got dragged into an alley and he couldn't get away. He had... things put into his mouth, but before it could go further, someone came and rescued him. That person... was Coyote Starrk."

Kuchiki's eyes widened. "...S-starrk... But why would...?"

"From what I understand, Starrk was never truly on Aizen's side," Nanao explained. "He was working on his own motives, much like Ichimaru Gin had. I honestly do not believe there is much to be worried about, except for the fact that Jūshirō is so very confused about his feelings towards the both of you."

"...I..." Byakuya closed his eyes as he breathed in deeply. "...I honestly believed he was happy with me..."

"I truly think he is happy with you, Byakuya," Nanao whispered. "I haven't seen him so happy with someone until he got together with you. But I believe he's confusing his emotions because of the fact that not only had Starrk... protected him, per say with Aizen, but once again prevented something like that from happening to him again. To him, it must feel as if Starrk is the one he loves because of that. Can you see where I'm coming from?"

Byakuya nodded. "...Still, it doesn't change the fact that I feel as if I have been used for all this time... Why couldn't he have said anything...? Just... Just something... I would have talked it out with him... I wouldn't have yelled at him, or hurt him... I just... I feel so..."

Nanao nodded in understanding. "I know. Shunsui isn't talking to him currently because of this. They couldn't exactly see eye-to-eye, and now Shunsui is drinking himself to death."

"I don't blame him..." Byakuya muttered. "...He's made up so many excuses and faked his illness to get out of seeing me... It's like he doesn't want to see me..."

"Then how about we show up to his house and visit him?" Nanao suggested. "We'll talk to him about it, okay? I'm sure he's just worried you'd react negatively."

Byakuya nodded. "Okay..."

As they stood up to leave, Shunsui came storming out of his room and threw his phone onto the couch near them. His face was red with frustration. "If you're going to see him, I'm coming, too."

Both Byakuya and Nanao were startled by the hatred and anger in the man's voice. "What happened?"

"Jūshirō." Shunsui spat the name as if it were poison on his tongue. "He called me. Crying. Says he did something stupid with that bastard."

Nanao didn't question further and instead lead her boyfriend out to the car. She hoped that Jūshirō was okay and Shunsui wouldn't be too hard on him; it wasn't Ukitake's fault he was going through such a hard time.

One hour earlier~~

Jūshirō cried out as he released all over his stomach, his nails digging into Starrk's back as his orgasm rocked him violently. He curled up, burying his face into Starrk's sweaty chest.

"Starrk..." Jūshirō moaned, panting. He felt the hot liquid running through his backside and he shivered, the feeling being so different from when he had been with Aizen. "...Starrk, I..."

Starrk pulled himself out of the younger man and lay down, holding him close. As usual, he didn't show much expression, making it hard for Jūshirō to gauge what he was thinking.

"Jūshirō, are you sure it's okay for us to keep doing this?" Starrk asked as he brushed wet hair out of Jūshirō's face. "You have a boyfriend."

Jūshirō nodded. "...I... I-I know... B-but I can't... I can't help myself... When I make love with Byakuya, I think of you... But when I make love with you, I think of Byakuya... I-I'm so... I'm so confused... Who do I love...?"

Starrk pulled the naked body closer to his own. "You're conflicted. I cannot continue this with you any longer until you sort out your feelings."

Jūshirō whimpered and pressed closer to the older male. He looked up with pleading eyes. "Please... D-don't leave me, Starrk... I-I love you..."

Starrk nodded. "And I'm sure that's what you tell your boyfriend, too."

"..." Jūshirō looked away and bit his lip. He knew Starrk was right, but... "...C-can't I... love you both...?"

Starrk sighed and reached out, turning Jūshirō's face to look at him. He stared into the green ones filled with pain. "If you truly loved your boyfriend, you wouldn't be here with me right now. He's the one you're supposed to love, and I've done nothing but hurt the both of you by allowing this to continue on for so long. I will still come over for lunch, but I want this to be the last time we have sex until you decide who you want in your life."

A single tear slid down Jūshirō's cheek. He buried his face in against the male's throat, trying not to cry. "I-I want you both! Please! I-I... Starrk... W-what they did to me... I-I think about it every day... But when I'm with you, I... I-it... It doesn't hurt... You make the pain go away, just like Byakuya does... You make me feel normal, like I'm not a whore..."

"Jūshirō." Starrk's voice was stern. "I know where you're coming from; I truly do. I want you in my life, sincerely. But I can't keep this up. I'm not cruel enough to hurt your boyfriend if he finds out. Please, Jūshirō. This has to stop."

Jūshirō sobbed. He knew that Starrk was right, but... He wanted – no, he needed the sex to keep himself sane. He clung to the brunet, knowing that he couldn't force Starrk to keep this up. He nodded.

"...I..." Jūshirō wiped at his eyes. "I'm sorry... Please, I-I... Don't leave me..."

"I won't. I'll still be here for you. I need to go. Call me when you desire my company again."

Jūshirō nodded. He held on for a few seconds more before he reluctantly let go. He watched as Starrk redressed before he escorted the other over to the door.

When he was alone, Ukitake broke down. He didn't know what he was doing anymore. He hated his life. He hated the pain. He hated feeling different and alone and always so afraid.

"...Shunsui..." Jūshirō sobbed. He collapsed onto the ground and crawled back into the living room. He grabbed his phone, dialling the one person in his life who he believed could help him – despite the reaction he had received the first time. He waited for the call to be answered for Shunsui to snap angrily at him before he spoke. "...Shunsui... I-I need help... I've done something stupid with Starrk..."