Shunsui wasn't exactly sure what had happened to change Juushiro's behaviour, but the younger male didn't seem as distant or untrusting two years later. He was no longer a Captain, and he spoke more freely than before and, though he at times still froze with fear, he was getting better with letting Shunsui and Nanao near him. He couldn't bear to be touched just yet, but it was getting to the point where she and the brunet could sit side by side with him and just look out of the window together.
Kyōraku still didn't understand what it was that always seemed to grab his best friend's attention, but he didn't ask; it wasn't important. What was important was making sure that Juushiro was safe, comfortable and happy.
The physical wounds had all but disappeared from Juushiro's body, leaving behind horrible scars that marred the pale flesh, and the Captain's hair was a mess, handfuls having been ripped out in different areas, the white strands acting as a trigger for him. His wrists were scarred, the male having taken to self-harming in an attempt to end his life, but with patience and understanding from Shunsui, he soon stopped trying.
Aizen had come back, having almost kidnapping Jyuushiro once again, but Shunsui and Nanao had fought tooth-and-nail against the brunet, resulting in serious injuries and almost their own deaths, but Ukitake was a beloved Captain, and almost every Captain and Lieutenant had come to his defence, eventually fighting Aizen off and capturing him. Jyuushiro had witnessed this and his Stockholm Syndrome had kicked back in, making him want to go back to the brunet, but once he was gone, the white-haired man snapped back to reality.
As of right now, however, Shunsui and Juushiro were standing by the office door, the taller male making sure that the younger was rugged up in preparation for the cold, wet weather. He smiled as he adjusted the thick yukata his friend was wearing, having always loved the way light blue suited the pale man well.
"Are we ready to go?" Shunsui was gentle as he spoke, knowing that Juushiro was still understandably fragile. He smiled when he received a timid nod in response and, as he started walking, his heart stopped with joy as a warm hand entwined with his. He fought back tears of happiness as he squeezed the smaller hand in his, feeling as if things would be easier from here on; it had been the first time since bringing him back from Heuco Mundo that Juushiro had initiated physical contact.
Juushiro's cheeks were red with a dark blush as he smiled shyly, following closely behind the brunet. He looked around the streets he had not been in since before the abduction, memories slowly flooding his mind. As he walked further through the Seireitei with Shunsui, they came across the Academy, and he couldn't help but collapse to his knees as he was hit with memories that felt like a ton of bricks.
Shunsui was silent as he knelt next to his friend, his hand on the younger's shoulder. He hoped that he had been right in doing this, knowing that Unohana had warned him against trying to force memories back into Juushiro's mind, but wanting his lover back.
Tears slipped down Juushiro's cheeks as he slowly dug through the memories, a happy smile on his face. He remembered the way he and Shunsui had always been together during the Academy, how they had played many pranks on their fellow students and always got into mischief but, most importantly, how he had his first kiss in Shunsui's dorm room with the brunet.
"Do you remember?" Shunsui couldn't keep the anxiousness out of his voice, needing to know that Juushiro remembered him.
Ukitake nodded as he looked up, his wet eyes shining brightly as he smiled. "I... I-I remember now..."
Shunsui slowly wrapped his arms around Juushiro, holding him close. He moved over and kissed the fragile male's cheek, knowing that after having gone through the trauma, he may not be ready for any type of intimacy just yet. He was, however, surprised when soft lips returned the favour, brushing against his stubbly cheek.
Grey eyes met green ones as they both shed tears of happiness. Shunsui leant forward, waiting for Juushiro to close the distance if he wanted, and he was pleasantly surprised when the white-haired male did so.
When they broke away, the kiss having gone no further than just lips upon lips, Shunsui's voice wavered as he reached out, grabbing pale strands of hair as he smiled.
"I know you don't like it anymore..." Shunsui started, pulling Juushiro closer, "...but please don't abuse your hair anymore; it displays your strength to the world and it was one of the things about you I fell in love with first."
Juushiro reached up, his now-trembling hand joining Shunsui's in his hair as fresh tears flowed down his cheeks. He buried his face in the strong chest, nodding. "...Okay..."
"Thank you." Shunsui's face rested in the smaller male's hair, breathing in the familiar scent that was Juushiro. "I love you, Juu."
"...I..." Juushiro licked his lips nervously as he looked up, his eyes shining with pained emotion. He smiled, one full of pain but yet, joy. "...I love you, too, Shunsui... I-I'm sorry I forgot that I did..."
"Don't apologise," Kyōraku murmured. "All that matters is that you're back here with me."
Juushiro nodded. "...I feel a little tired..."
"We'll go back and let you rest." Shunsui's arms scooped the skinny male up, holding him against his chest.
Juushiro just blushed and snuggled in closer. Maybe Shunsui had been right about his strength – not just for his illness, but for his sanity. Maybe... it had taken so long at first, but... He knew he was getting better – that he would get better as long as Shunsui helped him.
Juushiro hadn't been lying when he had said he loved Shunsui, and he knew with all his heart that he did, no matter what he had thought about Aizen.