This chapter was written after I came home from school due to personal reasons and was a means to keep my mind off things, so forgive me if I have messed anything up.

"Ukitake, I have a question for you."

The white-haired male looked up from where he had been reading a book on Haiku, an exhausted yet cheerful smile plastered on his face. He was recovering from his most recent bout of illness, and he was just glad to know that his boyfriend was happy to stay with him.

"Yes?" Jyuushiro's smile didn't falter in the least as he closed the book with gentle hands as if he were afraid he would break it. "I am happy to answer anything, Mayuri-kun."

Mayuri chewed on his bottom lip as he thought about the questions running through his head. He wanted to know why the other male was happy with him, didn't treat him differently, wanted him around. Surely he was nothing but a rebound, right?

"Why are you still here?" Mayuri questioned, his voice void of any emotion. "I was certain I was only something to get over that asshole."

Jyuushiro chuckled before he shook his head. "Of course not, Mayuri-kun. I really am happy with you. How can I prove that I am not using you?"

Mayuri shrugged. "I don't care either way."

Pushing his book away, Jyuushiro gestured for his partner to come closer. He smiled when Mayuri did and soon placed his lips over the other's.

To say that the scientist was confused was an understatement, but when warm hands soon started sliding up and down his sides, he understood what the older male wanted – and, to say the least, he wanted it, too.

"Mayuri-kun..." Ukitake's voice was husky, his words coming out as a strangled moan. He placed his face against a strong shoulder, angling his hips so that they rubbed against Kurotsuchi's thigh, showing the other his excitement.

A grin crossed Mayuri's face, realising that they were about to move on to the next stage of his experiment – sex. Forcing the other down onto the futon in a rough manner, his hands moved to undress them both, wanting no piece of clothing in his way.

Jyuushiro moaned softly as a hand brushed against the bulge in his hakama, his eyes closing. A soft sigh escaped his lips as he raised his hips, making it easier for the black fabric to be pulled from his waist.

"I want you..." The frail Captain whispered, his eyes cracking open, revealing a hint of lust.

Mayuri felt a tide of arousal surge through him at these words. Without further ado, he prepared the older male before he pushed inside, having his way in a rough manner with the other.

Jyuushiro's eyes opened when he heard a second set of footsteps approaching him, snapping him out of his daydreams. He looked up, finding Shunsui trailing behind Mayuri, an uncomfortable look on his face. He smiled softly; despite his uneasiness, he was just glad that the brunet had come.

"Shunsui..." the white-haired male's voice was very soft, conveying his nervousness. He fidgeted slightly when his previous lover sat next to him, not knowing what to say.

"...I..." Shunsui seemed to be in the same boat as the other, rubbing the back of his head as he looked anywhere but at the younger. He was silent for a few minutes, trying to gather his thoughts, before he spoke again, deciding that the best course of action would be to at least check on his friend's injuries. "...How are you...?"

Jyuushiro smiled, shrugging slightly; he knew that the older male was probably blaming himself over what had happened, and he wanted to dissipate those feelings. "I am fine, Shunsui. Thank you for asking."

"No thanks to you..." Mayuri muttered from the doorway, his eyes rolling.

Both Jyuushiro and Shunsui ignored this, not wanting it to be harder than it already was. The frail Captain spoke next, knowing how much courage it must have taken for his old lover to come here after everything that had happened.

"What about you, Shunsui?" He hid it well, but Shunsui could still see the pain in the smaller man's eyes. "Gen... Genryusai-sensei would... Would want you to be safe..."

When Ukitake's eyes slipped closed at his own words, the brunet instantly understood; Jyuushiro was not just in pain because of him, he was also hurting over the loss of their father-figure – just like he was.

Reaching out, Kyōraku slipped his hand into the white-haired man's, squeezing. With his other hand, he lifted Jyuushiro's chin, gazing into green orbs that were covered with a thin layer of tears.

"Jyuu-chan..." Shunsui's voice was choked, tears of his own falling down his cheeks, "...I'm sorry... I'm just so sorry... Please... I... I understand you're happy with Captain Kurotsuchi so... I'm letting you go... You'll be happier with him than you could ever be with me again... I'm sorry..."

Jyuushiro shook his head, his tears leaking from his eyes. He shook his head and moved closer, almost as if these words caused him physical pain. "Shunsui... Please..."

Pulling his hand out of the other's grip ever so tenderly, Shunsui shook his head. "...I'm hurting you... When I thought I had lost you, I lost my own mind, Jyuu. There's no telling what I could do to you from now on. That's why... we have to go our separate ways. I... don't want to hurt you..."

He's right... Jyuushiro thought, realisation hitting him like a ton of bricks. We can't be friends any more... Not because of what has happened... If we stay friends, we'll only hurt each other... He's trying to do what's right – after all the wrongs he's made... I can't say no when he's trying to fix things... It's all he wants – all he's ever wanted – my happiness... But could I really be happy without him in my life? The one who's been with me for over two-thousand years? I don't know...

"...Shunsui..." Sniffing back tears, Jyuushiro nodded. He understood that, in order for them both to move on from everything that happened, they needed to start afresh. Just because they had to go away from each other didn't mean they had to stay away, right? Sometime in the near future, because they could repair their bond once Shunsui recovered from whatever had made him like this. Maybe... it was for the best to say goodbye now before it became even harder. "...I'm sorry..."

The brunet shook his head, reaching out to brush white strands behind Jyuushiro's ear. "Don't be sorry. None of this was your fault. I just need to sort myself out. I need time. That's all."

"...I understand..."

Shunsui honestly couldn't say to the younger that it had taken a suicide attempt to clear his eyes; that would just hurt Jyuushiro more – make it as if the frail Captain had to take desperate measures just to make Shunsui understand.

"I'll see you around." With that said, Shunsui stood up and left Ugendo, unable to take his friend's presence any longer; he knew he would cry if he stayed, and he couldn't stand crying in front of others – especially Jyuushiro.

Ukitake watched the older man leave with sad eyes, but he knew it was for the best – it had to be; anything had to be better than what had been happening for the last couple of months.

"Thank God he's gone." Mayuri's eyes narrowed as he stared out of the door, moving closer to his lover. "I would have used him for my next specimen if he had remained."

Jyuushiro chuckled and moved into the warm arms that were now embracing him. "I'm glad you're still here with me, Mayuri-kun. I love you."

Kurotsuchi would never understand when Jyuushiro became more than just an experiment. He would never know why he had started having true feelings towards the other. But one thing he would always hold dear to his heart was this moment – when they both shared their first declarations of love.

"I know." Mayuri couldn't say those words himself, but he knew the sickly Captain would understand. He smiled softly and tightened his hold when a pair of soft lips planted a soft kiss on his cheek.

Whatever happened in the future regarding Shunsui and the Quincy war would happen – there was no denying that – but, right now, things felt perfect, sharing this moment together.

A/N There will be an epilogue next chapter.