A/N There is minor yaoi at the end of this chapter. It's also a short chapter because I want to do a time skip next chapter.

Jūshirō was sure that Shunsui had finally abandoned him. The brunet had left him alone in the apartment, saying he needed to go over to see Gin and that he should stay home in preparations for when Shunsui started his new job, but the Kyōraku had been gone for a long time.

Jūshirō hated himself more than ever for having gotten his hopes up at having finally found someone to stop the pain in his heart, and he just wanted to die. He had already cut through his wrists again, but he didn't want to die that way.

That's why Jūshirō was standing on the balcony of Shunsui's apartment, looking down at the four story drop. He sniffed as tears run down his cheeks and his lip quivered. It was a long drop onto the hard cement below, but it would be worth it to stop the absolute agony that he had to deal with every second of his life.

Ukitake put one foot onto the railing, and then the next, until he was standing up. It would be so easy to just inch one foot forward and then he would lose his balance and tumble down…

Jūshirō felt like he was choking. His world was spinning and he felt as if he was going to explode from all the pain he was feeling. He closed his eyes, hoping that this would be a quicker death than cutting his wrists. He went to move one foot forward, but then…

"Jūshirō!"

Jūshirō yelped as his name was screamed and he fell forward in fright, certain that he was going to die. However, someone grabbed his wrist just in time, stopping him from falling any further. He looked up into Shunsui's red face, gulping as he realised he had made a huge mistake.

"Izuru!" Shunsui cried to someone behind him. "Help me pull him up!"

Jūshirō whimpered as an unfamiliar blond ran forward and grabbed his wrist, trying to help Shunsui pull him up. He didn't understand why he was scared that Shunsui would let go of him; hadn't that been what he wanted just seconds ago…?

After what felt like forever, Jūshirō had finally been pulled up and back onto the balcony. He was in Shunsui's lap as the brunet hugged him and cried into his shoulder, his fingers tangled in his white locks.

"Why…?!" Shunsui sobbed. "I just lost Nanao; I can't lose you, too…! I love you so much, Jūshirō…! S-so much…! I can't lose you…!"

Jūshirō clung back, trembling as fresh tears fell down his face. He was aware of the blond's eyes on them, but he paid it no heed. He was, however, taken by surprise when Shunsui pulled his head back and crushed his lips desperately against his own.

The white-haired man moaned and opened his mouth, accepting the tongue that had been begging for entry. He felt hands grip at him desperately and tried to return the kiss as aggressively as Shunsui was making it.

When they pulled apart, Shunsui's tear-filled eyes made contact with Jūshirō's own. There was a deep pain in them, one that Jūshirō knew had no business being there. He flinched as the brunet's voice spoke, cold and harsh for the first time towards him.

"Go to bed, Jūshirō." Shunsui growled as he stood up.

"I-I –" Jūshirō tried to speak, but he was quickly cut off.

"I said go to bed!" Shunsui snapped. "You're tired. Sleep."

Jūshirō winced and made haste towards the spare bedroom he had been given. He sobbed, unable to understand why Shunsui was suddenly angry with him. Was it because he… had tried to kill himself…? But why was Shunsui just now getting mad at him for it…?

The Ukitake threw himself down onto the bed and cried into the pillows, shedding so much pain that was kept locked away inside of him. His cries were heartbreaking to hear, filled with nothing but the sound of agonising sorrow.

Shunsui himself was crying. He sat on the couch with his face in his hands, what had happened replaying over and over again in his mind. Izuru sat next to him, rubbing his back, not knowing what to do. He picked up the puppy that was whining at their feet and held it tightly, hating to see the people he loved so upset and unable to do anything to help.

-XX-

When Jūshirō awoke a few hours later, he was scared of the idea of leaving the bed. Was Shunsui still mad at him…? Would he… hit him…? Maybe even… use him…? Such thoughts only distressed the male more and brought a fresh wave of tears down his cheeks.

The man slowly stood up, creeping towards the door. He pulled it open a crack and peeked out, not hearing anything at all. He held his breath, trembling as he stepped out and into the hallway. He made his way to the end of the hallway and glanced out, finding Shunsui sitting on the couch, watching the TV while the blond from before was seemingly tapping buttons on a phone.

Jūshirō gasped and stepped back when Shunsui's gaze moved to him. He sat down against the wall and pulled his knees up to his chest, trying not to cry.

"Jūshirō…"

The Ukitake looked up at his head his name being called. Shunsui didn't sound angry… He stood back up hesitantly and walked towards the brunet, stopping a few feet away. He hugged himself and looked down, very much resembling a scolded child afraid of getting berated by its parents again.

"Jūshirō, I'm sorry for snapping at you…" Shunsui held his arms open, inviting Jūshirō to sit down on his lap. He wrapped his arms around the smaller man when Ukitake did so. "I was… so scared… I just lost my girlfriend, and all I could think about was that I was going to be alone once again… Please, forgive me for being angry with you…"

Jūshirō's hand fisted the white shirt. He pulled himself closer and nodded, accepting the apology instantly. "…I'm sorry for scaring you…"

"Don't be sorry," Shunsui whispered. He ran his hand through the white locks, smiling softly. "I understand."

Jūshirō nodded again, basking in the comforting aura from Shunsui. He looked at the blond before burying his face in Shunsui's chest shyly as the stranger smiled at him.

Things were silent for a few minutes before Jūshirō spoke tentatively. "…When I was little…"

Shunsui made sure he was listening, knowing that Jūshirō didn't open up out of the blue unless he wanted to explain his actions – and even then, that was very rare.

"…I went through lots of foster homes…" Jūshirō continued on, rubbing at his eyes. "…They didn't want me there… They hated me… They yelled and hit me… And when they finally had enough of me, they just left… They'd pack up, ready to move houses, and once everything was on the trucks… they'd tell me to stay behind and they'd be back for me… I-I would wait for hours, sometimes days for them to come back… But they never did… One foster parent even dumped me on the side of the road, promising to be back… But I never saw them again… So when you were gone for so long, I thought you had finally gotten sick of me, too, but I couldn't understand what I had done to make you hate me…"

"I'm so sorry, Jūshirō…" Shunsui whispered. "I swear I will never do that to you. I will never leave you behind. I love you too much to do that."

Jūshirō flinched as the blond spoke softly, unexpectedly. "…I had to live at foster homes, too…"

"…Really…?" Jūshirō whispered, raising wary eyes to look at the blond.

"Yeah. My parents died in a car accident when I was three, so I got passed around a lot. But none of them seemed to want me as well. I eventually started running away before they could dump me. That's how I met Gin and Rangiku."

"Gin and Rangiku lived on the streets for quite a while, too," Shunsui explained. "They took Kira-kun in and looked after him until they turned their lives around."

"…Ichimaru-san is…" Jūshirō bit his lip, not understanding how this could be true – not when Gin was always smiling and having fun. "…Happy…"

"He's happy because he knows not to take life for granted," the blond whispered. "He lives life to its fullest because he doesn't dwell on his pain. He's… the strongest person I know."

Jūshirō looked up at Shunsui with watering eyes. He whispered, "Can I… be strong, too, one day…?"

"You already are," Shunsui reassured. "You're still here, and you're willing to give life another chance. You're strong – even if you can't see it."

Jūshirō frowned for a few seconds before he nodded. "Can I… ask what happened to you, Shunsui…?"

Shunsui shrugged. "My dad molested me until I grew old enough to fight back. It really messed me up, Juu, but I figured there's no point in, as Kira-kun said, dwelling on something you couldn't help."

Jūshirō nodded again. "…Where's Komamura?"

"Kira-kun put him in the bathroom. And that reminds me; Kira-kun, this is Ukitake Jūshirō; Juu, Kira Izuru."

"Nice to meet you, Ukitake-san." Izuru smiled gently. Shunsui had explained to him that he thought Izuru could help out with Jūshirō's healing process because they shared a similar pain.

"…K-kira-san…" Jūshirō whispered shyly.

"You boys play nice, okay?" Shunsui laughed as he gently placed Jūshirō on the couch next to him. "I'm going to get started on dinner. Are you saying the night, Kira-kun?"

Izuru shook his head as he moved closer to Jūshirō. "Gin will come pick me up after dinner."

Shunsui nodded. "Okay."

With that said, he left the living room, leaving Jūshirō and Izuru alone to get to know each other. So far, his plan of introducing the Ukitake slowly to his friends was working well; it was getting the man more social experience and helping him realise that there are others out there who have suffered and will care for him.

-XX-

A week had passed by, and Jūshirō was sitting alone in the apartment, trembling as he held Komamura close to his chest. He was alone again, having been told that Shunsui started his new job today and would be home by seven.

Shunsui had wanted Jūshirō to feel more comfortable with being left alone without the fear of having been abandoned, and promised that he would be home no later than seven-thirty.

When at last the front door was unlocked and opened, Jūshirō got to his feet and waited. Shunsui walked in, and Jūshirō let out a small squeak before he ran to the older man and pressed himself against the other.

"I'm glad you're safe," Shunsui whispered as he kissed the smaller male. He had finally come to terms with the fact that he loved Jūshirō, though it had taken having to catch the younger before he plummeted to his planned death just to realise this.

Jūshirō was quiet, just content with being in the other man's arms. He walked when Shunsui pulled him over to the couch, and he obediently lay down upon it as the other charmed him into doing so. He knew what was coming, and it was very welcome to him.

Shunsui invaded the smaller male's mouth with his tongue, coaxing it to battle for domination with his own. His hand slowly travelled down Jūshirō's body until it came to rest just above the smaller man's crotch. They had made great leeway within the last couple of days, and Jūshirō was now comfortable enough to let the brunet massage his member through his pants. It was the first time in his life he had ever felt pleasure through such an intimate act.

"Ohh…" Jūshirō moaned softly as he pulled away from Shunsui's mouth. He raised his hips, wanting more friction as he was palmed gently.

Shunsui knew that Jūshirō trusted him to not take advantage of the younger, and it made his heart soar to know that this was how much trust Jūshirō had in him. He leant down and kissed the younger again, feeling Ukitake's bucks become more erratic as his orgasm approached.

Jūshirō moaned loudly, crying out and throwing his head side to side as he became drowned by pleasure. He bucked helplessly as he stained the front of his pants with his seed, but he was pleased; letting Shunsui touch him like this made him feel good. He felt safe, and the care that the brunet took in assuring his comfort during such an act made him feel like he truly was loved. He didn't indulge in this actively solely for the pleasure; he indulged in the unknown emotions that were invoked by Kyōraku's hand.

Jūshirō's eyes lidded as he panted, looking up at Shunsui. He smiled softly and rolled onto his side, closing his eyes and purring as a large hand stroked his cheek.

"I'll take you to bed," Shunsui whispered as he picked Jūshirō up and carried him into his room. He laid the younger down in his bed and pulled the covers over him, leaving him to rest while he started on dinner.