The scouting mission had been unsuccessful for both parties, and time soon found them standing together on the corner of one of the main streets. It was night and there weren't many people around.

"Did you find anything?" Shunsui asked, clutching a bottle of sake he had purchased after managing to slip away from Nanao long enough to buy it – among many other bottles he had downed in his time running away from his Lieutenant. "We didn't."

Jūshirō shook his head. "Nothing. But we can't stay here; Kira-fukutaicho is exhausted. We need somewhere we can rest."

"What about the Substitute Soul Reaper?" Nanao offered. "Do any of you know where he lives?"

Jūshirō put a gentle hand on their subordinate's shoulder. "I believe Kira-fukutaicho does."

Izuru yawned and wiped at his eyes. He nodded. "I've been there before... It's not too far from here..."

Jūshirō frowned in concern when the Lieutenant's body suddenly slumped against his. He rested his hand on blond hair before he spoke in a worried tone. "Are you okay?"

When Kira just nodded, Ukitake knew he was being lied to. The stress the smaller male was going through must have been phenomenal and the inadequate rest seemed to be catching up to him. Without a word, the Captain scooped the younger up into his arms, holding him close.

Izuru couldn't resist; he was just too tired. Instead, he closed his eyes and mumbled directions to the Substitute Shinigami's home before he fell fast asleep. Jūshirō held him close, not wanting to let him go.

Shunsui gave his best friend a knowing look as he saw this, his face red from having drunk too much alcohol; his gigai couldn't hold a quarter of the liquor Shunsui was used to. "It's him you were telling me about."

Jūshirō nodded, a small blush coating his cheeks. Nanao looked between the two Captains in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"Nothing, Nanao-chan~" Shunsui sung happily as he turned to move in the direction Izuru had pointed them in, swinging his sake bottle as he went. "Lovely, lovely Nanao-chan~!"

Ukitake nodded to Nanao as he followed his friend, knowing that Shunsui was probably drunk already and it was best to not let him out of their sight lest he get into drunken mischief.

Time skip~~

When at last the Shinigami had found their comrade's home, Jūshirō was wondering why they were standing at the side of the house, looking up at the window on the top floor. He tilted his head, watching as Shunsui jumped up and onto the ledge while Nanao berated him from the ground. He sighed and shook his head when he heard the resonating sound of a window being pushed open with such force it sounded like thunder.

As expected, the substitute's annoyed voice started yelling from inside the building, followed by Shunsui's intoxicated attempts at making himself seem pitiful.

Jūshirō shook his head and looked at Nanao, clutching the sleeping Kira in his arms tighter. "Let's go get him before he wakes the entire neighbourhood up."

Within seconds, Jūshirō and Nanao had joined the other Captain in the bedroom, calmly assessing the situation. Shunsui was sitting on a bed, bouncing up and down happily as he laughed whilst the orange haired Shinigami yelled at him for interrupting his study time.

"Please calm down, Ichigo-kun," Jūshirō sat as he moved further into the room, startling the younger more. "He is drunk. I apologise for him intruding upon your personal life."

Ichigo turned frustrated eyes to the pale Captain. He huffed before he spoke. "I have a test tomorrow, and I'm nowhere near prepared for it!"

"Yare yare, Ichigo-kun," Shunsui called in a lazy tone as he lay down on the bed, snuggling in close to the pillow. He attempted to pull Nanao onto it with him but she retaliated with a hit to the head with her book as per usual. "You wouldn't turn away this old man, would you? Look at his startlingly handsome face and reconsider, would you?"

Ichigo sighed. "Alright. What are you all doing here? Why are you holding Izuru, Ukitake-san?"

Ukitake moved to sit on the bed beside his friend, ignoring the way the brunet pulled at his shirt to make him lay down with him. "Kira-fukutaicho is exhausted and collapsed. But to answer your other question, we are here on a mission to investigate a sudden increase in Hollow activity. We were looking for a place to stay for the night."

"I'm busy." Ichigo wasted no time sugar-coating his words as he moved back to sit at his desk. "You'll have to find somewhere else."

"There isn't anywhere else for us, Ichigo-kun," Jūshirō said softly. "Neither Shunsui nor Nanao-chan nor even myself have been here in many years, and though Izuru comes on missions every now and then, none of us know anyone else we could ask."

"Why not Orihime, or Chad or something?" Ichigo asked, turning back to face them. "Really. I'm busy with this test."

Jūshirō sighed. "I am so sorry to be a bother and I really do feel horrible, but I must insist; our Lieutenant has collapsed from stress-induced exhaustion and the other Captain is too drunk to take out in public."

"Fine." Ichigo spun back around to face his papers. He pointed to the bed. "There's a spare futon under the bed. Nanao-san can have the closet where Rukia sleeps. You three will need to share the futon. It's all I've got and my family is home."

"Thank you very much, Ichigo-kun." Jūshirō smiled. He laid his crush down on the bed and then reached under it, pulling the futon out. He unrolled it and moved to place Izuru down on it instead.

When Nanao opened the closet, she mentally prepared herself for her Captain's rambunctiousness. As expected, Shunsui made his move.

Jumping off the bed, Shunsui hurdled over the two Shinigami crouched on the floor and ran to Nanao. "Nanao-chan~! Let me share the closet with you~!"

Nanao just raised her book in a threatening manner, effectively warding the sexual deviant known as Shunsui away. Without a word, she climbed into the closet and closed the door, ignoring the beaten puppy look Shunsui directed at her.

Ichigo tried to ignore the Soul Reapers behind him, but it was a hard thing to do when Shunsui was talking very loudly – or yelling, for a better term – about his latest rejection by Nanao to a politely-listening Jūshirō who soon offered him a pat on the shoulder. He was just about to turn around and tell them he had changed his mind and that they were to leave, but Jūshirō spoke to him before he could do such a thing.

"I am so sorry for the bother we are causing," Ukitake said sincerely. "I'm trying to get Shun into bed so that he doesn't disturb you any longer. I'm so sorry."

Ichigo nodded, his respect for the Captain only growing; as always, the ill Shinigami was considerate of everyone around him. He watched as Jūshirō pulled a small bag from his shoulders and placed it on the floor before he opened it and pulled clothing out.

"Would you like for us to change into our sleeping wear in another room, Ichigo-kun?" the white-haired male asked. "I would hate to make you feel uncomfortable in your own home."

Ichigo shook his head. "No; it's fine. I won't look."

Shunsui crossed his arms across his chest in a stubborn manner, refusing to take the pyjamas that were being held out for him. "I don't want them, Juu! I wanna sleep in the nude!"

Jūshirō sighed. "It is not your home, Shun. Please? Just for tonight?"

Shunsui shook his head, and it took a few minutes of strained patience and desperate attempts to keep Shunsui from stripping off in unacceptable fashion from Jūshirō before the brunet finally accepted the pyjamas and changed.

Jūshirō moved to the closet and knocked on the door once he had successfully stopped all drunken groping directed at him as he changed his clothing. "Nanao-san? Would you like your pyjamas?"

"No; I'm not changing with him in the room!" Nanao called, not opening the door. "He'll try and grope me again!"

"I see." Jūshirō moved back to Izuru and sat next to him, wondering if he should change the blond's clothing or not. He blushed at the thought of doing such an intimate thing before he decided against it; Izuru wasn't the most emotionally stable person he knew, and he didn't want to cause any problems between them.

"Juu-chan~"

Jūshirō sighed as Shunsui hugged him from behind, pulling the smaller male onto his lap. He didn't put an end to Kyōraku's intoxicated feeling of his body, but he did try to talk his best friend into sleeping.

"It's very late, Shun," Jūshirō said softly, pressed up against the strong chest he knew so well. "We should get some sleep."

"I don't want to sleep," Shunsui muttered, his hot breath against Jūshirō's ear. "I want you."

"You're drunk." Jūshirō pulled himself away from his friend and moved back to the futon. "I'll let you cuddle with me if you try and sleep, okay?"

Shunsui smiled and stumbled over to the futon, collapsing next to the younger two. He pulled Jūshirō in close, holding him against his warm body and murmuring to him softly. Jūshirō just kept his eyes on Izuru, wishing with all his being he could hold the blond the way he was being held himself. He was sure Izuru would feel safe with him, but it might upset Kira to wake up in someone's arms and realise that they weren't his traitorous lover.

"Love you, Juu-chan~" Shunsui sung before he closed his eyes, falling asleep instantly.

"I love you, too, Shun..." Jūshirō mumbled, knowing that said male wasn't going to hear him anyway. He reached out and brushed a strand of blond hair from Izuru's face before he whispered to Izuru. "I love you, too... Izuru..."

Ichigo had tried to ignore all of this happening behind him, but it was hard to ignore the fact that he had just found out that Jūshirō was most likely gay, and Shunsui – if it weren't just from the alcohol – was bi. He bit his lip, unsure of what to make of this. He wasn't homophobic in the least; it was just strange to find the two people he had such deep respect for liked their own gender.

Ichigo sighed and moved from the desk. He switched the light off before he changed into his own pyjamas and stepped over the futon into his own bed. He glanced down at the ground, finding Jūshirō looked up at him. He smiled.

"Night, Ukitake-san," Ichigo said softly.

"Good night, Ichigo-kun." Jūshirō beamed up at him. "I apologise for everything that has happened tonight, and I hope you sleep well."

"Don't apologise." Ichigo left it at that and rolled onto his side, facing the roll. He fell asleep not long later, leaving Jūshirō the only one awake.

Jūshirō moved his gaze back to Izuru, smiling at the peaceful expression on the young face. He carefully pulled himself from Shunsui's grip and moved closer, pulling the smaller male into his arms. Just for a little while, he thought.

It felt so amazing to have Izuru in his hold; he never wanted to let go. He buried his face into the blond hair before he let go after a few minutes, not wanting to wake him up. He didn't return to Shunsui's arms, either; he just lay in between them, trying so hard to resist the urge to fall asleep cuddling against Kira.

When he did fall asleep, Jūshirō's dreams were all about the Lieutenant, a vast change from the nightmares about Kaien he had most nights.