When night came – or what Ukitake assumed would be night as there was no way to tell in this windowless room – the white-haired Captain was surprised to find that he was being fed. Starrk had disappeared out of the room after sleeping for the rest of the day, only to return fifteen minutes later with a bowl in his hands.
"I am not hungry," Ukitake said softly, not wanting to be rude at what was apparently an act of kindness, but his survival instincts telling him not to eat it – what if it was poison? Or something equally devastating?
"It's not poisoned," Starrk said without missing a beat, as if he had read the other's mind. "Would you like for me to take a bite and prove it?"
The sickly male wanted so badly to refuse the food, but he was so hungry...! Back in the Soul Society, he was always eating, keeping a convenience store of candy in his clothing, but now... As if it had waited for this exact moment, his stomach rumbled, conveying just how hungry he really was.
Ukitake sighed in defeat, lowering his head. What was he supposed to say now without coming off in a cruel manner? This may have been an enemy, but the brunet had been nothing but hospitable towards him – nothing the other had done warranted impolite behaviour.
Starrk silently placed the bowl of ramen into the Shinigami's hands, his eyes half-lidded in what Ukitake knew was boredom.
Taking the bowl, the white-haired male went against everything he knew and picked up the spoon sitting in the food, sipping at the soup. He then grabbed the chopsticks, grabbing a few strands of udon noodles warily.
"...Why are you feeding me?" Ukitake questioned, trying to understand why on earth his enemies would be giving him food – surely they would benefit more from starving him?
"Because I did not believe it right to leave you in hunger," Starrk said as he sat back down on the same chair he had occupied all day.
"But..." The green-eyed male couldn't help himself; he raised the chopsticks to his lips, gulping down the noodles. He swallowed the mouthful before he spoke again, "...Would Aizen not prefer me weak?"
The Primero Espada shrugged, a yawn escaping his lips. He glanced at the doorway briefly as it opened and a dull green-haired girl entered, clear features of an Arrancar gracing her body. "Aizen does not know I fed you, and I do not really care about what he prefers. Please, eat. It will be less effort for us all."
Ukitake nodded, understanding that Starrk wasn't the only one in danger here – before the betrayal, Aizen had been a kind-hearted, gentle person but, now after the traitor made it clear it had all been an act, who's to say that Aizen wouldn't be cruel enough to take drastic measures against his subordinate's actions?
"...Thank you..." the Thirteenth Captain whispered, his attention moving to his food; it felt so good to get something into his stomach after several hours of hunger pains.
The frail man listened silently to Starrk's conversation with the green-haired girl who had entered the room, learning that her name was Lilynette Gingerbuck and she was a sealed part of Starrk's power. Her words and mannerisms were vulgar, upsetting the green-eyed Shinigami; he was very conservative, frowning upon anything but a polite, respectful and charming child - maybe it had been the way he himself had been raised, but it just didn't feel right to see a kid being so improper.
However, Ukitake couldn't deny that it was amusing to watch the girl berate Starrk about being so lazy, climbing all over him in a way that surely resembled a monkey before hitting the brunet. He smiled softly before he raised more noodles to his lips, eager to finish off his meal.
The way Starrk responded was characteristically lazy, slouching even further in his chair and just raising his arm over his eyes. He grunted a few words out before he closed his eyes, attempting to sleep, but he was soon awoken when Lilynette pinched his nipples, provoking a loud yelp from the brunet.
As much as Ukitake didn't want to admit it, he knew that things were better here than they could have been with any other Arrancar; Starrk seemed like a genuinely nice person, even if it were only because he seemed to be too lazy to be truly bothered by much.
Why was it that thoughts of Kyoraku suddenly flashed through the Captain's mind at this acknowledgement, even if for only a second?
~~Later that night~~
Ukitake probably shouldn't have been surprised when the Primero Espada announced that he was going to sleep in the chair tucked away in a corner for the night, not leaving the room. It was probably a precautionary measure put in place by Aizen, whether to keep Ukitake from escaping or even attacking the other Espada, the long-haired man would surely never know.
It was slightly uncomfortable for the Thirteenth Captain, not used to sharing a room with another male apart from Kyōraku. He felt as if he were intruding upon the other's personal space, not quite sure on how to hold himself. Should he just act normally as he would if it were only Kyoraku? Or should he pretend Starrk wasn't there? No; the latter would be very unbecoming of him. But if he were to act as he would around Kyōraku... He couldn't do that, either; he was always intimate with his lover when they were alone.
As if sensing the elder's discomfort, Starrk spoke, an almost invisible grin on his face. "Please ignore my presence as I will not trouble you, Ukitake."
"I'm imposing..." The white-haired man frowned, hating this feeling of inadequacy.
Starrk shook his head. "If anything, I'm the imposition." With that said, he closed his eyes and, in what looked to be a very uncomfortable position, he went straight to sleep, having barely moved from the chair he had been in almost all day.
Ukitake, as best he could when he was still chained to his bed, curled up under the covers, trying to fight back tears. The fact that he was here, far away from the man he loved and would probably never see again, finally became reality. The silence that filled the room, the uncomfortable cold that not having a sleeping companion created, the way there was no warm chest to snuggle in against, nor those strong arms that held him close every night. There was nothing but the loneliness to keep him company tonight.