Ukitake was honestly surprised to find himself missing his brunet annoyance. A week had passed without any sign of the taller man. Had his illness really scared the other off? If so, why did it hurt to know that Kyōraku was just like the others? Had the man's almost-stalkish behaviour really been so bad? He had been one of the few people who paid attention to him – and not in a negative manner, the only other person besides Yamamoto who had not mistreated him.

With a sigh, Ukitake dragged himself out of bed and over to the set of drawers sitting in the corner. He grabbed the small box off the top of it, slipping out a foil package containing tablets. He popped three of them out of the wrapping before he took them into the kitchen, grabbing a glass of water to take them with.

Taking medication had been something Ukitake had always hated, feeling as if it only highlighted his most resented flaw; an illness he hid from everyone around him. Even Yamamoto, who knew of his adoptive child's condition, was not allowed to talk about it with the white-haired man.

Ukitake moved himself out to the living room after he had swallowed the tablets, sitting on the couch. He didn't particularly want to do anything today, but his plans of sleeping were ruined by a knock on the front door. A shred of hope sparked inside of him, the idea that Kyōraku could have returned prompting him to get to his feet and answer the door, his heart pounding for reasons he couldn't understand.

The empty feeling that consumed the ill male when he opened the door would have dropped a weaker person to their knees, but Ukitake couldn't allow himself to act in such unbecoming ways. The messenger who was standing on the porch looked almost intimidated to be standing here, but he relayed his message without problem.

"Yamamoto-sama would like to see you," the blond man said. "Immediately."

Ukitake nodded, not replying before he closed the door on the smaller male. Slumping his shoulders, he prepared himself mentally for the battle to get himself ready to attend to his task. Sleeping was much more desirable, but he knew better than to disobey Yamamoto's orders; a thrashing did not seem appealing right now.

A quick shower was all the white-haired male did before he dressed himself and left the house, finding himself at Yamamoto's headquarters not long later. Not much had crossed his mind as he walked the fair distance, his thoughts solely on what Yamamoto could have wanted with him; the old man didn't usually request a private meeting unless there was an important mission assigned to someone.

"Ah, Jyuushiro."

Ukitake closed the door behind him as he looked at the bald man. He nodded in greeting before he sat at the chair in front of his elder's desk. "Yes, Genryusai-sama?"

"I have a mission for you." Reaching down into the drawer at the side of his desk, Yamamoto resurfaced with a vanilla folder. He handed it over and waited for his adoptive son to open it before he spoke about the contents. "It may come as a surprise, but your target is none other than Shunsui Kyōraku; the brunet assassin of the Eighth Branch."

Ukitake's eyes widened in surprise; this was unheard of – why would he be tasked with killing another? "I..."

"I can't tell you the details," Yamamoto continued on. "It's rather confidential. I'm sure you'll find out in due time. Dismissed."

Biting his lip in what he couldn't decide was stress or eagerness, the white-haired male stood up and left the office, the vanilla folder clutched tightly in his hand. Was this... a test of some sorts...? Why would he have to kill the only one who had ever paid normal attention to him?

Maybe... the universe just didn't want him to be happy.

~~With Kyōraku~~

Kyōraku couldn't say he was willing to carry out this assassination, but he knew if he argued with Yamamoto over the orders, there would be hell to pay. He had spent the entire day since having received the vanilla folder locked in his house, drinking himself into as best a stupor as he could manage; the demand to kill the one he was certain he had fallen for weighed heavily against his almost-impenetrable heart.

Ise wandered back and forth from her office to her boss's bedroom, worried about how he was taking this; ever since the brunet had first laid eyes on the smaller man, he hadn't shut up once, an excitement shining in his grey eyes she hadn't seen in years. A lifetime of murder had damaged the happy outlook Kyōraku had on life, leading her to believe she would never see the man enjoy anything other than alcohol.

"Sir?" Ise knocked on the hardwood door, gathering her courage up to talk to the man she looked up to like a father. "Sir, may I come in?"

Kyōraku hiccupped before he slurred drunkenly to her, not moving from the futon he was sprawled on. Blurry eyes watched the slim figure of his assistant enter his room and, in his miserable mood, he wanted more from her than she was willing to give.

"Nanao-chan, come here, please." Shunsui lifted a hand, gesturing for her to approach him. When the shiny raven hair was in reach, a large hand raised against it, stroking softly. He knew Ise did not appreciate his intoxicated advances, but he also knew she understood he would never hurt her. Running his hand down to a soft cheek, Kyōraku caressed the flesh tenderly as one would a newborn baby.

Ise stayed stiff by her commander's side, allowing him to explore what he wanted, knowing she could stop this any time she wanted, but part of her felt sorry for the man who had never known what it was like to be truly loved by a partner in return. She bit her lip, stifling her protests as another hand reached out to rest on the hem of her pants, wanting to be of whatever help she could. However, when the man slurred an all-too-familiar name, she realised what was happening; Kyōraku wasn't seeing her in front of him; he was caught in a delusional fantasy involving Ukitake and himself.

Pulling back harshly, Ise narrowed her eyes, reaching up to adjust her glasses. "Sir, enough of this. It's time for sleep."

Kyōraku couldn't find the strength to answer, watching only in pain as the woman went about his room, gathering what bottles of sake she could find to remove from his possession. When he was alone, he sighed, uttering a soft cry of 'Ukitake' before he fell fast asleep, the aching of his heart pronouncing in his dreams of betrayed love.