The next day, Jyuushiro dragged himself to the Captain's meeting. When he walked in, ten minutes late and interrupting Yamamoto's speech, all eyes turned to him; never before had Jyuushiro walked into a Captain's meeting late, norwithout Shunsui by his side. The two Captains were near-inseparable and, unless Jyuushiro was sick, you would never see one without the other.
However, what gave away the fact that something was seriously wrong were the tears that stained the usually pale face. Shunsui looked away as he saw this, a small smirk on his face. He didn't know why he was doing this, but he couldn't help but be amused by the younger Shinigami's pain.
Everyone looked away from Ukitake, either not caring enough to ask what was wrong or not wanting to disrupt Yamamoto's speech. Jyuushiro took his spot amongst the Captains, keeping his head down and remaining quiet throughout the entire meeting.
When the Captains were all dismissed an hour later, Jyuushiro was the first to leave. He pushed past the others and quickened his pace, just wanting to get away from everyone.
Jyuushiro tensed as someone called out his name. He stopped and turned around, finding Tōshirō standing behind him, an emotionless expression on his face.
"Are you really so upset over losing him?" Tōshirō asked, adding to the pain he had already caused Jyuushiro. "He's happy with me. We've been seeing each other for three months now. You had your time with him."
Jyuushiro didn't know what to say. Here was the Captain he saw as a son, telling him that he was going to be with his lover from now on. Fresh tears welled up in Jyuushiro's eyes as he spun back around and continued on to his Division, tears leaking down his cheeks.
By the time Jyuushiro returned back to his office, he slammed the door closed and locked it, letting no one in to see him. He didn't want them to see the way he curled up in a corner of the office, his knees against his chest as he cried into them. He didn't want to be seen as weak – though he knew that was what he was right now.
Ukitake's heart ached, such pain foreign to him. He had never thought he would be without Shunsui; suffer such agony because of him. He felt like he was choking on his emotions, drowning in this pain. He couldn't feel angry because the overwhelming sense of betrayal only made room for tears. He wanted to rip his hair out, to tear his skin off, not wanting the memories of Shunsui's touch that was attached to them. He wanted to curl up in his bed forever, see no one else for the remainder of his life. He wanted to be alone.
As members of the Thirteenth Division pounded on the office door in great concern, Jyuushiro wouldn't let them in. He eventually cried himself to sleep, still in that same corner with his knees pulled up to his chest, his face red and stained with tears. His dreams consisted of Toshiro and Shunsui, and they weren't pleasant – not in the least.
It had been nearly a month since Jyuushiro's heart had been broken, and he had been searching everywhere for the solace he knew he needed. He didn't care who gave it to him, but the only thing he seemed to be getting was pity. No one even bothered to talk to him about, leaving him to wallow in the pain no one guessed he was truly suffering.
The only person who even bothered to talk about it was Jyuushiro's fellow Captain, Mayuri Kurotsuchi – and even then, it was only for research purposes.
The two were standing out the front of the First Division hall where their meetings always took place, the Thirteenth Captain crying as he tried to explain everything to Mayuri.
"I-I just..." Jyuushiro choked on a sob as he pulled at his hair in distress. "I feel... so betrayed... I..."
Mayuri nodded as he processed all of this information. It gave him an idea for an experiment, one he could run on both Jyuushiro and himself – but in order for that to happen, he'd need to make Jyuushiro think that he cared about the other's problems.
"Why not be my partner instead?" Mayuri suggested nonchalantly. "Who cares about him?"
Jyuushiro wiped at his eyes as he nodded, so desperate for the pain in his heart to stop. He knew that Shunsui was done with him; the brunet had avoided him ever since their anniversary. "O-okay... T-thank you..."
Mayuri just shrugged. "Come along, then. I need to prepare some stuff back at Twelve Division. Come with me."
Jyuushiro smiled as he nodded, hoping that Mayuri would make things better. The thought that the scientist may just have been using him for another research subject never crossed his mind – maybe he was just so scared of being hurt again that he couldn't think about such possibilities.
However, after spending several hours with Mayuri at the Twelve Division, Jyuushiro was just glad to know that the scientist seemed to have more than just experiments and research on his mind – why else would the unstable man allow him to stay for so long otherwise?
Mayuri, however, truly didn't see his fellow Captain as anything other than research material, and if he had to give Jyuushiro the wrong impression in order to get the best results possible without extraneous or confounding variables, he would do so.
The two were sitting by the computer where Mayuri stored all his data, the long nailed fingers tapping away at the keys while Jyuushiro sat by his side, his mind thinking back to Shunsui. He remembered all of the times they had shared together, and he was so lost in memories he didn't even realise he was crying again.
The white-haired male was startled back to reality when a fingernail scraped against his cheek, brushing tears away.
Kurotsuchi scoffed as he looked at the tears he had gathered on his finger. "Emotions. Such a useless thing to have."
Ukitake shook his head and spoke in a soft voice. "I don't think they're useless."
"Oh?" Mayuri grinned in interest. It was true he had never researched extensively on emotions before and, being the kind of person he was, he didn't have much personal experience to go on. It would be intriguing to get another person's view of the things he had deemed petty lifetimes ago. "Do explain."
"...Emotions make us human..." Jyuushiro started to explain, taking his time as he gathered his own thoughts about the topic. "...They let us know when we're truly enjoying something, or when we really love someone... They help us determine whether or not we truly live our lives. If you love someone, you'll be happy knowing that they're happy. If you're upset or hurting, someone will stop and help you, because they care. If we try and go through a life without emotions, how will we really know what makes us happy and sad? Who we truly love and care for? Emotions... make us different from everyone else in what they make us feel at any given time. Don't you think...?"
Mayuri tapped his nails against his keyboard, processing the words Ukitake had spoken. It was true that he himself had never regarded emotions in such a way, but Jyuushiro was a kind, passionate person who loved life. It was a given he would see the world in such a way that related to his optimistic demeanour.
"Is that what you think?" Mayuri finally asked after a minute of thinking. "That emotions are worth the pettiness?"
Jyuushiro nodded. "Truly."
The Twelfth Captain hummed, thinking to himself. What an interesting test subject he'll turn out to be.