For the first time since he had been given the orders, Kyōraku found himself seeking Ukitake out. He found the other at his home, sitting out by the koi pond in the backyard.

Opening the white gate quietly, the brunet entered his 'friend's backyard, clearing his throat in order to grab his attention.

Ukitake turned around and, the second he saw the taller male, he grabbed the swords lying beside him, getting to his feet in case he needed to fight.

"What do you want?" Ukitake snarled. In truth, he didn't want to fight today – not when he was feeling so ill.

Kyōraku raised his hands in defeat, his voice soft as he replied. "I just want to talk."

"No, you don't." Struggling to hold back a harsh cough, the frail man took a step back. "If you want to fight, let's just get it over with."

The stubbled man knew this wasn't going to be easy, but he still had to try. "If you really want to fight that bad, so be it; just answer a question for me first, okay?"

Unconsciously, the pale man's body tensed; question...? What was he up to...? He couldn't stop the waver in his voice as he interrogated this. "...W-what...?"

"Tell me what I can do to make you trust me." Kyōraku didn't skip a beat as he explained carefully what he wanted. "I understand your family made it hard for you to do so, but I'm not like them."

Green eyes narrowed as Ukitake's grip on his sword tightened. "...Don't... Don't you dare pretend like you know anything about it!"

"You're right. I don't. That's why I'm asking. I'm asking because, even though I know you won't believe me, I want to help you."

"If you know I won't believe it, why are you even trying?" Ukitake snarled. "Can't you just leave me alone? I hate you. I hate you!"

"I don't hate you," Kyōraku whispered. "It's okay if you hate me; I can handle it. I just want to be your friend."

"Friends? Friends? I don't need any friends; I don't want any friends. All I want is for you to die."

"Can I make a proposition?" the bigger male offered. He noticed the way fear fluttered over Ukitake's face, but he didn't comment on it, not wanting to stress the other further. "...If you really hate me that much... can I try and show you I'm being honest? If you still don't believe me... You can kill me with your own sword. I won't stop you."

Ukitake had been surprised by these words but, before he could so much as process them, he was shocked when, without warning, Kyōraku was charging at him, knocking him to the ground and covering him with his heavy body. His breathing hitched as his eyes widened, his hands scrabbling to push the brunet off him.

However, the white-haired male's actions quickly stopped when a loud groan of pain startled him. Glancing up with fearful eyes, he saw a trail of blood quickly making its way out of Kyōraku's mouth, dripping onto his pale cheek instead.

Grey eyes were half lidded as the orbs gazed down in pain. When Kyōraku spoke, it was clear he was hurt if the slurring was anything to go by. "Are you... okay...?"

Ukitake honestly didn't understand why Kyōraku had put himself in between him and danger; he wasn't worth it – he was something even his own parents hadn't wanted. Why would a stranger want him?

Looking past the injured brunet, Ukitake come face-to-face with one of the strongest branches of their association. He couldn't take in much more other than the fact that he was outnumbered five-to-one; the anger clouding his judgement wiped all coherent thought he had. When Kyōraku slumped upon him, it was clear the other had passed out from the knife that had embedded itself within the small of his back, looking as if it had hit the man's spinal cord.

"You..." The realisation that Kyōraku had been honest in admitting his feelings struck Ukitake like lightning; the one person who really did want him in their lives was now probably dead because he had been too stubborn in taking a chance with them.

Looking back up at the others who were now closing in with their own swords drawn against him, everything went black as Ukitake fell into a blind rage.

~~Kyōraku~~

By the time Kyōraku's eyes opened, he found himself in the infirmary of the Gotei Thirteen. Looking around with blurry eyes, he found someone was sitting by his bed, covered in bandages with torn, bloodied clothing.

"Awake, Kyōraku?"

Kyōraku closed his eyes again as a smile graced his lips. He nodded, answering his visitor. "I am, Jyuu-chan. I'm glad you're okay."

Ukitake didn't reply to this and instead sat quietly, observing the other as the brunet went back to sleep. He couldn't help but feel a strange, yet warm, feeling in his chest, one he had never experienced before. It felt as if his heart was about to jump out of his chest, though he wasn't sure why.

When Kyōraku awoke again a few hours later, the man was much more coherent and, though he had to be patient, managed to coax his friend into a small conversation.

"I don't know what happened," the white-haired man explained. "All I remember is Genryusai-sama carrying me to the hospital. He said we have to remain here for a trial, but the chances of us getting out of execution aren't high."

"Then we should leave. Together." Kyōraku couldn't help but feel excited as he suggested this, hoping with all his being the other would agree.

Ukitake twitched before he shook his head. "No. I do not understand you, Kyōraku."

"Wouldn't you rather be with me and get to know me instead of dying?"

Ukitake couldn't help but admit the other had a point. Should he trust the brunet? It was true he felt as if he were infatuated with the other, and it was also true Kyōraku was an honest person. Maybe...

"Is your proposition still in effect?" Ukitake whispered. He felt his mouth go dry in excitement as he received a nod in reply. "...Then... I will leave with you... But be warned, I will not hesitate to kill you if you try and cross me."

"I wouldn't have it any other way." Kyōraku grinned.

Ukitake wasn't sure what on earth had provoked him, but he soon found himself leaning down, kissing the taller man warily. When it was returned in such a gentle manner, he couldn't help but want more, opening his mouth to give the other access.

When the two broke away for air, Kyōraku's grin only widened. "I'd love to stay and chat, but we have to get moving, don't we?"

Ukitake nodded, reaching out to help the other to his feet. Supporting Kyōraku, they walked silently to the door where the white-haired man opened it, stabbing the guard outside the room with the knife he always kept hidden on his person.

With the black-haired man out of the way, Ukitake helped his new friend out of the hospital, relieved that they weren't far at all from the back door.

When they got outside, their escape was easy; word hadn't gotten out yet about their 'betrayal', so no one tried to stop them.

While Ukitake was still uncertain about putting trust into the brunet, Kyōraku was sure this was the best decision of his life, even though he would miss his friends and dear Nanao-chan greatly.

I think the ending is shit, but it was one I didn't have much motivation to finish :P