The Quincy invasion was nothing but ancient history now, many years having passed by since they were defeated. Many casualties had occurred and the ones that had survived had mourned their passing, the deceased ones living on in the surviving Shinigami's memories.
Toshiro was one of the ones who had been lost in the war, the theft of his Bankai the thing that had sealed his death warrant. It had torn Shunsui apart to have lost his lover the way he did but he had learned to cope after many pain-filled months, finding solace in the Lieutenant who had never left his side, no matter who he had become.
Jyuushiro and Mayuri had survived with minor injuries, the Twelfth Captain caring nothing for the dead. Ukitake, however, was heartbroken to have lost the boy he saw as his own son – especially since they had just begun to make amends.
The sickly male had used this time to comfort the one who had once been his best friend, the love he held for Kyōraku never wavering, no matter what. The brunet had been inconsolable at first, the stress making him more aggressive towards the younger than ever, but Jyuushiro had stayed through it all, understanding.
Currently, the three Captains were sitting in the First Division quarters, reminiscing about the past. Shunsui had been named the new Captain-Commander, and he used his power to do everything he could to make it up to Jyuushiro about the things he had done.
"Lieutenant Ise spoke to me yesterday," Ukitake said softly as he sipped at his tea. "She told me you were planning a special event dedicated to the ones we lost."
Shunsui smiled sadly as he nodded, ignoring Mayuri's presence; the two had never gotten along ever since the Winter War, both jealous of the other in terms of Jyuushiro's love. They both feared losing the white-haired male to the other. "It makes sense to honour them. Don't you think, Ukitake?"
Jyuushiro couldn't say it didn't hurt to have his best friend being so formal with him, but he knew the taller man did it, trying his best to start afresh and regain the right to be called his best friend. "It does. Mayuri-kun and I went to visit their memorials. I paid my respects to Shiro-chan."
Tears welled up in grey eyes at these words, but they didn't fall, disappearing as fast as they had appeared. "...Yes, I... need to make time to visit him... I've been too busy with my duties and haven't had the time."
Mayuri mumbled something under his breath about the senior Captain's now-non-existent laziness, but didn't make a direct attack, knowing it would hurt his lover if he did such a thing.
It was true that Shunsui continued to change the more years passed by. Ever since he took over the First Division, he no longer slacked off his work or disappeared randomly throughout the day to sleep on the roof and drink sake; he worked diligently, ensuring he did his job as best as he could. Nanao had confided in the Thirteenth Captain once that she was actually upset about no longer being able to hit him over the head with her book and yell at him to get back to work.
Deep in his heart, Jyuushiro knew Shunsui was trying to make their late father-figure proud, making up for all the times he had let their teacher down. In the brunet's own way, it was his apology for rarely being the perfect student and son-figure, unable to be like Jyuushiro who worked his ass off every day and had never once been a disappointment, so much unlike his friend.
Shunsui sipped at his sake, his sad eyes gazing out of the large window, taking in the view of the Seireitei. He was silent for a few minutes, his thoughts focused on Toshiro.
A frail hand grabbing his was what snapped Shunsui of his stupor.
"Shiro-chan would be so proud of you today." Jyuushiro's bright smile and shining eyes brought Shunsui into the breakdown he had tried to avoid for so many years.
Jyuushiro held his friend as the other cried out his pain and sorrow, whispering soothing words as he ran a hand through messy brown hair. He looked at Mayuri, seeing the understanding in the other's eyes – even if Mayuri didn't care about Shunsui in the first place.
Jyuushiro nodded as his lover stood up to leave, knowing that this wasn't something the younger wanted to be here for because of his own reasons. He only held his friend, patient as a God, while the other cried himself to sleep.
Ukitake knew that this was the turning point, the symbolisation that he was about to have his best friend return to him, the happy-go-lucky idiot without a care in the world. He couldn't stop his own tears as they rolled down his cheeks at this realisation.