Hisagi Shuuhei felt like a fuck up.
There were times, even now after serving under Captain Muguruma for nearly 3 years already, that Shuuhei regretted allowing his former captain to get so far under his skin while he served under Tousen. Times like now when he couldn’t bring himself to trust in his own abilities simply because his previous captain had constantly told him that he needed to fear his own abilities in order to grow. It had been Captain Muguruma who had beat into him the truth. Shuuhei had grown so much under his new captain than he had under Captain Tousen in the short period of time Kensei had taken over the division.
A simple mistake during training had left the vice captain’s anxiety skyrocketing through the roof and as soon as Shuuhei had finished his paperwork for the day he had returned to his quarters to attempt to relax for the rest of the night. He hadn’t even made dinner for himself before he curled up on the couch with a thin blanket and tried to go to sleep. It hadn’t worked for the two hours he had been home already and he hadn’t even been able to calm his anxiety down at all.
“Are you just going to mope around all night Hisagi?” His captain’s voice sounded from outside the door to his quarters. Shuuhei jumped in surprise before his door opened and Kensei walked in. He held a bottle of sake in one hand which surprised Shuuhei.
“Captain?” Shuuhei realized how bad he must have looked to his captain, with his eyes bloodshot from crying and his hair disheveled. He was still wearing his uniform but the fabric of his kosode was wrinkled. To put it simply he was a mess.
“We’re off duty now, no need to be so formal. Kensei is fine.” The silver-haired man put the bottle on the small table and made his way over to the vice-captain. The captain stared at the younger man for a short moment before he took a seat next to him. “You didn’t answer my question. Are you just going to mope around here all night?”
Shuuhei flushed with embarrassment as he tried to shrink away from the larger man on his couch. It wasn’t the first time Kensei had invaded his personal space like this, and typically Shuuhei wouldn’t have minded at all to be so close to his childhood hero. Tonight, however, the vice-captain wanted to be alone and wallow in his self-pity.
“Have you eaten yet? I can have Shinji bring something over. Or I can attempt to cook something for us…” Kensei knew that he wouldn’t get an answer out of his vice-caption but he already knew what the answer was. Both men also knew that the larger man wasn’t a good cook and typically ate at restaurants unless Shuuhei brought him food. Shuuhei would have suffered through his terrible cooking if it meant that he didn’t have to deal with more people invading his privacy, and especially not Shinji if he could avoid it. The younger man shook his head.
“Let me call Shinji and have him bring us something. He won’t stay long.” Kensei could tell that Shuuhei didn’t want company, he could see it written all over his face, but that didn’t mean the captain was going to leave the man alone.
“I don’t…” Kensei didn’t give Shuuhei a chance to finish his sentence as he called Shinji and requested he bring them something to eat. All of Shuuhei’s complaints fell on deaf ears as Kensei explained exactly what to get and claimed he would pay the other captain back before turning his attention back to his vice-captain.
Shuuhei’s eyes shifted from the man in front of him to the bottle of sake that Kensei brought with him and a small part of him wanted to laugh at the fact that his captain thought to bring alcohol but not food. He supposed that Kensei had thought his visit through to an extent. He had enough forethought to bring a drink for them to share but had to call another captain in order to get dinner. As if Shuuhei wouldn’t have made them food had Kensei asked him too.
Shinji arrived at Shuuhei’s quarters not long after Kensei had called him. He dropped off two bentos with food for the two men before leaving once more. Shuuhei was surprised that the blond man hadn’t tried to invade in the vice captain’s privacy as he had on many occasions before just as his captain was doing at that exact moment.
The two men ate in silence, with Kensei refilling their cups as they both finished them. Shuuhei tried not to drink too fast; he did have to work tomorrow after all and the last thing he needed was to be hungover and depressed still. Things were an unsettling quiet for a while after they both finished their dinner and the bento boxes were placed to the side. Kensei had filled up their cups once more but had yet to take a drink from his cup as he watched Shuuhei closely.
“Are we going to bring up what happened during training this afternoon?” Kensei asked after a few minutes. The gentleness of his captain’s voice took Shuuhei by surprise and even though he had jumped at the silence being disrupted he was thankful for how soft Kensei was being with him. Even if he felt he didn’t deserve it. Why should he, when they had already been through his anxiety and self-conscious issues of his own shortcomings once already?
“I messed up.” A mess up like that would have gotten his team killed in the field and that’s what stuck out in Shuuhei’s mind the most. He remembered his time in the academy when he watched his best friends die when he had gotten the scar on his eye.
“You did, but that’s why it’s called a training session.” Kensei finally took a drink from his cup and that made Shuuhei feel somewhat better about how much he was drinking. He took a sip from his cup as well.
“If we were in the field that would have gotten the team killed.” He closed his eyes and immediately saw the blood of his friends splashed on the ground.
“Accidents happen all the time. People will die. There is nothing that anyone can do to avoid that from happening. We train to limit those types of accidents but no matter how much training you have, you’ll still make mistakes. What matters is that you made that mistake in a training session and can learn from it in a setting where no one actually died.” Why was Kensei trying to comfort him so much? Had he been a lower seated officer he would have been yelling at him for his stupidity for at least a week.
“I…” Shuuhei didn’t even know what to say. What could he say? He had fully expected Kensei to tear him apart for his mistake like he did every other member of their division.
“Don’t tear yourself down for a small mistake. These things happen to the best of us and the only way you can avoid it in the future is to learn from it and move on. Wallowing in self-pity is going to cause you to lose sleep and forget what made you worthy of being my vice-captain.” Kensei continued as if Shuuhei hadn’t even tried to speak.
“C-captain?” Shuuhei was surprised by his last comment, because not only had it been Tousen who had promoted him but Shuuhei had the feeling that Kensei kept him in his position to keep the division from rebelling against him.
“I wouldn’t have kept you as my vice if I didn’t think you were fit to be in the position. You’re strong as a fighter and a very capable leader Hisagi, you just need to gain more confidence in yourself. I’ve seen you raise your companions up and helped those in the division when they struggle with something but you don’t have that ability to do so for yourself. As your captain that falls to me and I’ll make sure that I don’t fail in making you the best person you can be.”
Shuuhei didn’t know what to say. How was he supposed to reply to that? He couldn’t form actual thoughts and ended up simply staring at Kensei as if he was speaking a foreign language. His captain, the man who had bulldozed his way into the ninth division, was acting like a mentor to him in a way that even his former captain never could. It was surprising but it was oddly comforting. Kensei Muguruma, Shuuhei’s childhood hero, the man who had saved his life who he had thought died and had gotten a tattoo of in memory of, was trying to comfort him for a mistake a rookie would have made.
“Why?” Shuuhei definitely didn’t mean to ask that. He shouldn’t have opened his mouth. He had no reason to question why Kensei was trying to help him like he was when he should have just accepted it.
“Why what?” Kensei wasn’t surprised by the question but he wanted Shuuhei to be as specific as he could about what he was asking. Shuuhei had a habit of letting his insecurities get the best of him and he didn’t always communicate things the best way he could.
“Why are you trying so hard to make me feel better?” Shuuhei chose his words carefully as he tried to keep his eyes focused on anything but Kensei. The last thing he wanted was to see his captain’s expression, not that he could tell whether it was pity or annoyance.
“For one, you’re my second in command and I need you at your best as often as possible. I also care about you as a person Shuuhei. You are a good officer and while we haven’t spent much time outside of work you seem like a good person. I know you have a problem with your anxiety and I don’t know how much of that is related to Tousen’s training but I want to help you with it as much as I can.” Kensei for his part didn’t tear his eyes away from the lanky man in front of him.
Somewhere in their partnership, the captain had started to develop feelings for his vice-captain that were stronger than what he had felt for any of his coworkers or friends in the past. He would be blind not to notice how attractive the man was, especially when he gave off that cocky attitude to other vice-captains who tried to discipline any member of the ninth division. Kensei respected how much his own division looked up and admired Shuuhei, especially when he had run the division by himself after Tousen’s betrayal. The man was a hard worker and refused to take a day off even when he needed it. He took care of the people under him better than he took care of himself most days.
“I like you Shuuhei.” Kensei couldn’t deny how much he wanted to kiss those pink lips or tear stained cheeks but he didn’t want to risk upsetting Shuuhei more. His vice had never given him any indication that he liked Kensei in such a way.
The confession took Shuuhei by surprise and the younger man snapped his eyes to his captain in shock. It was almost as if by hearing that he had hope that maybe the feelings he had been suppressing for as long as he had been working with the elder man were returned. Shuuhei refused to let himself fall into that hope so easily, however. Just because Kensei liked him as a person didn’t mean that he wanted him in other ways.
“Does that surprise you, Shuuhei? You’re a very kind and attractive man. And you’ve never simply put up with me out of fear like many people have before. You’re a hard worker even when I’ve told you multiple times that you don’t need to stress yourself so hard to get everything done before you leave for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you take a day off. But every time Shinji and I try to invite you out you make up some bullshit excuse about being busy and avoid us...or are you avoiding me?” Kensei seemed to be speaking less to Shuuhei and more to himself but Shuuhei felt the need to reply still.
“I’m not avoiding you...I just don’t want to occupy all of your time...and sometimes I am busy with other things.” Shuuhei’s voice was quiet and almost inaudible as he averted his gaze again. He had noticed how often the two captains invited him out, especially for drinks on Fridays when their work week was technically over, but he was usually working on other projects or going out with Renji and Rangiku. The few times he wasn’t busy he avoided Kensei as best he could to keep from making things awkward. Shuuhei was afraid of what would happen if his captain realized that he was attracted to the older man, both physically and emotionally.
At first, Shuuhei thought his feelings were simply because he had viewed Kensei as his childhood hero come back to life. He admired Kensei not just as his captain but as the man who had saved his life when he was a child. As their relationship of captain and vice-captain grew Shuuhei’s feelings evolved from simple hero admiration to legitimate romantic feelings. Shuuhei had a crush on his captain and didn’t want to face the fact that those feelings wouldn’t be returned.
“What if I want you to occupy my time?” Kensei asked, bringing Shuuhei’s attention back to him. Kensei could almost see the gears turning in his vice’s mind as he began to comprehend what he said. “If I didn’t want to spend time with you I wouldn’t have kept asking you to come out with us...I just didn’t think you’d want to go out with just me.”
Kensei wasn’t used to being so upfront about this aspect of his feelings, but then he had never had someone that he wanted to love as much as he did with Shuuhei. The younger man brought out emotions that Kensei had never really felt before and while he wasn’t against being open with what he was feeling, this was a whole new territory for him. Apparently, he should have just been open about his feelings and told Shuuhei how much he wanted to get to know him.
Shuuhei took his time collecting his thoughts and trying to figure out how to respond. How was he supposed to even reply to that? Shuuhei definitely didn’t know.
“I guess...I should have asked if you were serious.” He finally said after a couple of minutes of silence.
“You get so stuck in your head that sometimes you forget that you can talk to people about what’s going on. You cause yourself more stress than you need just by overthinking. I don’t want you to burn out too quickly just because you can’t stop thinking.” Shuuhei couldn’t believe how sincere Kensei sounded.
“I…” Shuuhei knew that he couldn’t deny Kensei’s words. He overthought things often and it led him to the habit of miscommunicating with others. Both of them knew that Kensei was right too, so Shuuhei had nothing much to say in his own defense.
“Let me show you how serious I am about liking you Shuuhei.” The black-haired man paused for a moment in hesitation before nodding. Kensei shifted closer to the lanky man slowly. He waited as if he expected Shuuhei to back away from him. When he didn’t he moved closer once more, this time moving to kiss the younger man. When Shuuhei still didn’t back away from him, Kensei took the last step and pressed his lips against the younger man’s.
Shuuhei didn’t hesitate to kiss back. This was what he had been wanting since he had first realized that he was in love with his captain. The very same captain that was now kissing him to express his own feelings. The kiss made all of his stress and anxiety melt away and he relaxed.
Kensei himself relaxed when he knew for certain that Shuuhei wasn’t going to run away from him. He wouldn’t put it past the younger man to run away from his own home if it meant getting himself out of a situation he didn’t want to be in. Thankfully, it seemed like Shuuhei wasn’t going to run away from him. Not this time. Kensei wasn’t going to let him run away from him either.
“Gorgeous.” When Kensei pulled away from the kiss he noticed the flush on Shuuhei’s skin and couldn’t help but to express how beautiful it made him look. The blush grew redder at the compliment and it only made Kensei want to kiss him again. “Can I kiss you again?”
“Anytime.” Shuuhei could easily get addicted to Kensei’s kisses.