When Izuru left the office the next morning, it wasn't surprising when his own squad members avoided him like the plague. If they saw him coming they quickly changed directions or if the blond lieutenant tried to stop them to talk to them, they'd make up excuses and leave as soon as they could. It had been this way ever since the betrayal on Soul Society, and Izuru just didn't understand why some had even gone as far as to transfer out of the Third Division.

The morning started out the same way as usual; Izuru skipping breakfast and doing paperwork, but once he had made a considerable dent in the stack of papers on the desk, he knew he needed to go and find Captain Ukitake.

With a stretch that made his already-aching body hurt more, Izuru got to his feet and made his way out of the Third Division barracks and made the considerably long journey to the Thirteenth. He was greeted at Ukitake's office by the man's two amicable, if not competitive, third seats.

"Is Ukitake-taicho in...?" Izuru's soft voice held a tremor of anxiety as he studied the two before him carefully. Their eyebrows were raised and there was a protective glint in their eyes, as if daring him to try and bring harm to their beloved Captain.

"..." Kotetsu Kiyone and Kotsubaki Sentaro shared a look before they nodded, albeit warily.

"He's doing paperwork at the moment, but I can bring you to him," Kiyone offered.

"No," Sentaro cut in, pushing Kiyone out of the way. "I will bring you to him!"

"I offered first!" Kiyone growled as she shoved Sentaro to the ground. "The Captain would want me to do it!"

"It's me he'd rather!" Sentaro shouted.

Izuru stepped back, his visible eye wide. He had heard stories about the two third seats notorious for arguing over every little thing, no matter how minor. How could Ukitake put up with this day in, day out...?

"What's going on here?"

Izuru, and the two third seats who were now oddly silent, looked at the rice paper door that used be to closed, only to find Ukitake Jūshirō standing there with a puzzled look on his face.

"Sentaro was preventing me from escorting your visitor to you, sir!" Kiyone cried, pointing an accusing finger at the black haired man.

"No!" Sentaro pointed back, a horrified expression on his face. "It was her who didn't let me escort him in, sir!"

Jūshirō observed his two squad members with a soft look before he nodded. "Where is my guest?"

Kiyone and Sentaro stood before they bowed deeply, pointing to their left where Izuru stood, a frightened expression on his face.

Jūshirō studied the blond carefully for a few seconds before he smiled. "Kira-fukutaicho. Please, come in."

Izuru nodded and followed the Captain into the office. The rice paper door slid closed behind him, and he stood there, looking down at his feet. What was he supposed to say...? Would Ukitake even want to see him...? It wasn't like they were particularly close, having only spoken a few times on business, and Kira was... the lieutenant and lover of a traitor...

"How have you been, Kira-fukutaicho?" Jūshirō asked as he made his way back to his chair, his gentle smile never wavering. "I can't imagine it would be easy on you after everything that has happened. Are you doing okay?"

Izuru fidgeted, unable to answer those questions directly. "...U-ukitake-taicho... I..."

Jūshirō was patient, knowing that there was no need to rush the clearly distressed boy. He picked up his cup of tea and sipped at it slowly.

"Could I get you some tea, Kira-fukutaicho?" Ukitake offered. "I find it helps me when I feel sick or distressed."

"U-uh, Ukitake-taicho..." Kira was startled by Jūshirō's generosity; there were few Captains who would offer you beverages; especially if it weren't clear why you were standing in their office, looking as if you were about to cry.

"Please, have a seat." Jūshirō smiled as he gestured at the chair sitting in front of his desk. "I will prepare some tea for you. You aren't here on business, are you, Kira-fukutaicho?"

Izuru shook his head, not knowing how else to reply.

"I'm glad you came to me," Ukitake called over his shoulder as he headed through the door leading into the private rooms that every Captain's office had for when they were working late or couldn't return to their own home. "I will be right back."

Izuru sat still, glancing around at the office. The desk was in the middle of the room, much like the one in his own Division, and the walls were lined with scroll arts, bookshelves lined with books, and a small couch. Small photo stands lined the desk along with the many stacks of paperwork and the cup of tea Ukitake had just been holding. A book was laid on the side of the desk, and a letter in an envelope addressed to Rukia lay on top of it. Already, this office was much more homely than his.

Jūshirō returned just a few minutes later with a cup in hand. He smiled as he handed it to his guest and took his seat back behind his desk.

"What would you like to talk about, Kira-kun?" Ukitake asked.

Izuru's eyes widened at the honorific. "W-what did you just call me...?"

"Kira-kun." Jūshirō's happy expression only became brighter. "We are not speaking as Captain and lieutenant right now; we are speaking as friends."

"O-oh..."

"Is it something about the recent betrayal, Kira-kun?" Jūshirō was gentle as he spoke, his kind smile ever present.

"...Ukitake-taicho..." Kira whispered, but Jūshirō raised a hand, signalling him to stop speaking.

"You may call me Jūshirō," the frail Captain said softly. "I am your friend right now; not your superior."

"J-jushiro..." Tears welled up in Izuru's eyes; everything this man did reminded the blond of his lover. He wasn't used to such kindness from anyone except for the one who had just broken his heart. "I-I feel... so lost..."

"Ichimaru-taicho meant a lot to you, didn't he?" Jūshirō was sympathetic, understanding what the lieutenant was going through. "I've heard stories about the two of you, and Ichimaru-taicho spoke very fondly of you himself."

"So why did he leave me...?" Izuru whispered as tears cascaded down his cheeks. "...W-why...? Wasn't I g-good enough for him or something...?"

Jūshirō stood up and moved to Izuru. He moved quickly, knowing that the blond would move away otherwise, and embraced the young Shinigami. "Don't ever say or think that about yourself, Kira-kun. You are a beautiful, kind-hearted and smart young man. If anything, Ichimaru-taicho wasn't good enough for you. Please, don't put yourself down, okay?"

"I-I don't understand..." Izuru whispered, hesitantly grabbing the white haori that represented a Captain. "Was everything we shared together... just a lie...?"

"I do not know the answers to your questions, Kira-kun..." Jūshirō soothed as he ran a hand through the blond hair. "I can certainly tell you that whatever it was that you both shared in the past... it wasn't a lie. I know love when I see it, Kira-kun, and he truly loved you. But you need to understand that Ichimaru-taicho is gone, and you need to move on. He wouldn't want to see you like this, would he?"

"N-no..." Izuru wiped at his eyes. "G-gin would... He used to tell me it was okay that I cried, Ukitake-taicho..."

Jūshirō ignored the title he was called and instead focused on comforting the boy in his arms. "It truly is, Kira-kun. Everyone needs to cry every now and then, and you're only young. Please, do not feel bad for being in touch with your emotions; it is a good thing to be able to do."

"..." Izuru rested his head against Jūshirō's shoulder, trying to draw in the comforting aura that radiated from the Captain. "...Is it bad that I'm afraid to be open with you, and tell you everything...?"

"Not at all," Ukitake whispered tenderly. "You had your trust in people shaken; I expected this. But can I tell you something, Kira-kun? As your friend, I feel as if it is something you should know."

Izuru lifted his head, almost afraid to hear what Jūshirō was going to say.

"I want to tell you that somewhere out there," Jūshirō started, playing with Izuru's hair again, "there is a person who loves you very much. They understand that you feel as if you are in a lot of pain, but they're waiting for you to move on. They're waiting; just for you to acknowledge their love."

Izuru found it hard to believe Jūshirō's words but this was a man who never lied; it went against his moral code. He licked his lips before he whispered back. "...Do... Do you know who they are, Ukitake-taicho?"

Jūshirō nodded, smiling softly. "I do. But I cannot disclose names to you while you are feeling so fragile. I understand that you don't want to talk about everything just yet, but please understand that I am here for you always. I will listen to you, and I will care. Take your time and tell me what you can once you're ready, okay?"

Izuru nodded. He pulled himself out of Jūshirō's arms and stood up, wiping at his tears. He then placed his untouched cup of tea on the desk and looked away. "T-thank you for letting me come to you... I-I know I didn't say much, but I just wanted to know that you would listen before I talked..."

"I know." Jūshirō put his hand on Izuru's shoulder, smiling gently. "I'm always here. And please, think about what I said, okay? I know they'd appreciate it if you thought about what you wanted to do about them."

Izuru nodded. "I-I will, but I doubt I'll really accept them... Gin is the only one for me..."

Izuru didn't see the tiny flicker of pain in Jūshirō's green orbs, but the man's smile never wavered. He bowed respectfully and thanked the old Captain again before he left, leaving Jūshirō alone in his office.

Jūshirō moved to the couch and sat down, mulling over Izuru's words. He knew not to expect anything just yet from Kira after having been betrayed so savagely, but it still hurt to be told that Izuru may never accept him.

"I just hope he can move on and at least want to try and be with someone..." Jūshirō muttered to himself as he stood back and moved to his desk. "I've loved that boy, ever since I first saw him..."