It was just a few days later when Shunsui felt Juushiro was making progress – but at the same time, he was still worried. The white-haired male was sitting on the futon rolled out in Kyōraku's office, staring blankly out of the window.
Nanao and Shunsui had brought their fellow Shinigami with them to the Eighth Division, not wanting to leave him alone, but had to leave the barracks for a few hours for squad training. When they returned, Juushiro didn't acknowledge their presence at all.
Shunsui moved to sit beside his best friend, not knowing what to say. Juushiro didn't usually reply when asked what was wrong and would instead turn his head, ignoring whoever was near him. But now, Ukitake was the first to speak.
"He's not coming..." Juushiro whispered in an emotionless voice, "...is he...?"
Shunsui sighed, knowing exactly what the younger was talking about. He shook his head. "I'm sorry, Juushiro. Captain Unohana said that you were displaying signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Aizen never cared about you; he was just using you."
Juushiro's shoulders slumped as he dropped his head. A single tear rolled down his cheek. "...I... I loved him..."
"I know..." Those words were like a knife through the heart to Shunsui, but he couldn't get mad; it wasn't Juushiro's fault.
"...He hurt me so much..." Juushiro whispered again. "...The things he did to me... I don't understand how I could love him... Was I... so desperate...?"
Nanao was standing by her desk, listening to the two males talk softly. Her heart went out to Juushiro, but she knew to leave it to Shunsui. She sat down at her desk, trying not to startle Juushiro with his presence.
"...No." Shunsui decided. "You were just trying to protect yourself."
"...He really... made me feel like he loved me in return..." Juushiro sobbed. "...He stopped the others when they... when they did things to me... But I can see that he... He didn't care... Shunsui... I-I... I'm sorry... I... My mind is clearer now, but... I can barely remember you and Ise-san..."
"I understand that." Shunsui was sincere as he spoke. "What you went through was just terrible. Please understand that Nanao-chan and I are here for you."
"...I feel so numb..." Juushiro whispered. "...I know I should be crying and screaming and so angry and hateful, but... I-I can't... feel... anything..."
Shunsui let his own tear slip down his cheek. He reached out slowly, wanting so badly to wrap his arms around the slighter male's shoulders and hold him tight, but Juushiro just whimpered and pulled away.
"..." Shunsui looked down at his lap, not knowing what he could do to help his best friend. "...I should finish my work... Please, feel free to come to me if you need me..."
Juushiro didn't acknowledge these words; he only returned to staring out of the window, his eyes unfocused as rain pelted down against the glass.
Shunsui had returned to his desk, trying his hardest not to cry. He and Nanao worked quietly on their paperwork, talking only about the papers they were signing. When the brunet looked over at the travelling futon half an hour later, his eyes softened as he saw the way Juushiro was curled up in the blanket, his face calm and peaceful as he slept, the only sign of distress the dry trail of tears that stained his pale cheeks.
~~A few hours later~~
Once Juushiro had woken up and hesitantly accepted the lunch that was given to him, he continued staring out of the window, ignoring all forms of communication directed at him. He listened to the rain pattering down on the roof and the pavement around the building, and he paid attention to the members of Squad Eight that came in to talk to Shunsui for whatever reason they had, but he wouldn't listen to anyone that spoke directly to him, his mind shutting down whenever someone tried.
Shunsui was currently crouched by his friend, his hand on the frail shoulder as his Ninth Seat stood beside him, looking down at Juushiro with a bewildered expression; there was no way that could have been the esteemed Captain Ukitake of the Thirteenth Division – Captain Ukitake was such a happy, optimistic and outgoing person, and it was rare to see so much as a frown on his face. He treated everyone, regardless of rank, as equals and he never ignored anyone.
"Juu-chan," Shunsui spoke, having hard to start his sentence a fourth time in hopes that the younger would pay attention this time, "I'll be out on a mission for tonight and I won't be back until tomorrow afternoon. Nanao-chan will look after you, okay?"
Juushiro's blank gaze continued to watch the puddles splash as rain hit them, unable to comprehend what Shunsui was saying; he just wanted to be left alone – why didn't the brunet understand that people coming near him frightened him?!
Shunsui sighed as he patted the trembling shoulder as he stood up. He called over his shoulder to Nanao, thanking her for taking care of his friend and then left, his Ninth Seat in tow.
Nanao just waved at her Captain, her attention focused on her paperwork as she worked diligently. She had every intention of keeping her word, Juushiro being an important person in her life, but she understood that Ukitake needed his space and, right now, he would still be trying to recover from whatever was frightening him this time; it was best to leave him alone until he started showing signs of awareness once again.
It didn't seem to take as long this time for Juushiro to silently clamber to his feet and head to the bathroom. Nanao never knew what he did when he was in there, but Shunsui had always followed him to the door and waited after the first time.
Ise wondered whether or not she should do the same, but she didn't want to make her superior feel uncomfortable after what he had gone through. She decided she would trust him and wait for him to return, and if he wasn't back in ten minutes she would knock on the door and ask if he was okay.
Nanao didn't even have to wait for two minutes before she knew something was wrong if the loud shattering of glass and a pained scream was anything to go by. She abandoned her paperwork and rushed towards the bathroom located down the hallway at the back of the office.
"Captain Ukitake!" Nanao called as she threw the door open, not knowing what to expect. But what greeted her was worse than she could have imagined; the bathroom mirror lay in blooded pieces on the ground while Juushiro was curled up in the corner, his hands and arms covered in blood as he ripped at his hair, whimpers and cries of "No!" the only noise he was making. Specs of blood contrasted greatly with his pale face and even the colour of his hair was dyed red by the liquid.
Nanao rushed forward, grabbing the shaking male by the shoulders. She shook him, trying to get him to pay attention to her, but there was nothing she could do; chunks of hair were ripped from Juushiro's scalp as fresh blood splattered everywhere from the cuts all along the male's arms and knuckles. She didn't know for sure, but she was almost certain he had thrown himself at the mirror.
As hands grabbed him, Juushiro screamed louder, thrashing as the woman restrained him by wrapping her arms around him, keeping his arms pinned to his side. All Juushiro could see was Aizen and hear his voice, remembering everything the brunet had done to him.
"Captain Ukitake, calm down!" Nanao shouted, trying to make her voice heard over agonised screams. She was aware of several members of her Division that had arrived at the commotion, instructing them to grab the syringe that was in the drawer of Shunsui's desk, thankful that Unohana had been able to foresee events such as this and left them with sedatives just in case.
When Juushiro had at last calmed down and lay slumped against Nanao's body in utter exhaustion, Nanao buried her face in the bloodied hair, now realising just how hard this was for Shunsui – how could he deal with this? Shunsui and Juushiro had been best friends and lovers since their Academy days, nearly two-thousand years. Nanao had only known Juushiro for a bit over one-hundred years and wasn't as close to him as Shunsui was. Just how much was Shunsui suffering...?
A single tear slipped down Nanao's cheek as she held the distressed male tightly, for once not caring about her professional imagine and caring only about the Shinigami in her arms who was in more pain than she would ever understand.
Ise could only wish that Shunsui would come back soon, not knowing if she could handle this by herself.
Unohana had made a visit to the Eighth's office and bandaged the injuries Ukitake had received, but Juushiro was now back to staring out of the window, flinching on occasion from pain. It was still unknown what had happened in the bathroom, but Juushiro preferred it that way; he didn't think he could handle remembering the way the colour of his hair had made him so angry and yet, so afraid.
Nanao was shuffling her papers into a neat pile as she stood up from her desk. She took the cup of coffee she had sitting on her desk out into the back room in order to wash it before she made sure everything else was in order.
The Eighth Lieutenant grabbed the heavy sleeping yukata from the corner of the room where Juushiro's sleeping requirements were for when Shunsui had to work late and brought it over to the white-haired male. She knelt down slowly as she reached out, speaking softly to him.
"It's cold and wet out tonight, so Shunsui asked me to make sure you're bundled up," Nanao felt obligated to explain this to the Captain.
Juushiro was distant as he allowed the woman to dress him in the yukata, and he didn't resist when Ise wrapped him in a warm blanket. He stood up when Nanao grabbed his hand and stared down at his feet as he was lead out of the offices and back towards Shunsui's home.
Ukitake was silent, even fifteen minutes later, as he was gently laid down onto the futon set up in Shunsui's bedroom and blankets were lifted over him. He moaned softly, expecting a hand to reach out to touch him in places he didn't want to be touched, and he was grateful when he wasn't.
Juushiro's eyes closed and he fell asleep almost instantly, the heavy painkillers he had been administered earlier taking effect.
Nanao stood by the Captain's side and watched him, knowing that the things that had happened to him where things she would never understand – she wouldn't want to understand. But through all of Juushiro's fear and unaware exterior, she knew that he had the strength to get through this if he only tried – but did he want to try? She could only hope he did.