Warnings: Implications of sex, angst, potential cursing
Summary: Shuuhei and Kira recover together after the betrayal by their captains.
It was probably the hardest for Kira and Shuuhei. At least Hinamori was unconscious, so she had a little more respite from the fresh hell her thoughts were sure to bring her. All three lieutenants had been betrayed, each in ways that were specially tailored to hurt them the most, and the sudden loss of their guides and superiors left them all adrift.
Kira was left with guilt. Gin had made him draw arms against his comrades, and drawn him into a plot which he knew nothing of. He drew his zanpakuto against Matsumoto and Hinamori, and after all that, Gin had still left him behind, without a word of explanation or farewell. Kira felt used and abandoned, and he wandered like a specter around the 3rd Division, keeping up basic duties without really being mentally present. He couldn't justify the things he did for his captain, and yet, he could not bring himself to say that he should have abandoned Gin, for the bond between captain and lieutenant, once forged, is not easily broken.
Shuuhei knew that well. Tosen had been his teacher and role model for years, and to have him leave without a word hurt immensely. He considered raising his zanpakuto to restrain his captain one of the hardest things he had ever done. He felt conflicted, and guilty, though for different reasons than Kira. He had not chosen to defend his captain in the end, and that made him question what he did wrong. Did Tosen sense that this would be Shuuhei's choice-duty over personal loyalty-and choose not to confide in him? Or was the plan simply something that did not include his lieutenant? Or-and this possibility hurt Shuuhei worst of all-was he simply that insignificant to Tosen that he had not even figured into the man's calculations? Shuuhei was confused and disillusioned. His sense of duty and justice had been nurtured by Tosen, as had his strength of character and skills in combat. And yet, the man who had helped train him to become the shinigami he was had simply left. Shuuhei tried to abandon the man in return, eject him from his fond memories, but the task was simply too monumental. As much as he tried to paint his captain as a villain, the kind words and strong sense of justice kept shining through. Everything in the 9th Division seemed to sing Tosen's virtues, and, in effect, point out Shuuhei's failings. He threw himself into keeping the Squad running, working himself to the bone because that's all he could manage to do.
Kira and Shuuhei automatically gravitated to each other. They had been friends since their battle with a huge hollow in the academy, and were fairly close friends in the Gotei 13, although their time was mostly consumed by the duties of a lieutenant. Just as a harrowing situation had first brought them together, and yet another harrowing situation drew them back together, closer than ever before. Kira crept away from the 3rd Division at night, to sit with Shuuhei and cry over a bottle of sake. Shuuhei was the only person to ever see Kira cry, and he did not judge the other man for it. Instead, he simply moved over and held him, in a way that was completely meant for comfort rather than anything romantic or sexual. Then Shuuhei would remember Tosen's kindness to him when he was worried, and he too would start to weep. The two men remained on the floor of Shuuhei's room, clinging to each other like a lifeline, because really they were all that was left.
The deepening of their relationship could also be attributed to the defection of their captains. Kira's room reeked of Gin, and all of Shuuhei's possession held echoes of Tosen. Kira had been slightly uneasy around his captain, but his loyalty had been absolute, and the betrayal was raw. Hisagi had considered Tosen something of a father figure with the level of closeness they had with one another, but Tosen's defection left him questioning the nature of their relationship. Alone, each man became trapped in their thoughts and regrets, and sleep seemed to evade them. They began to have dinner together in Shuuhei's room, and talk about the few things which skirted the subject of their captains, until they would part ways for a night of restful sleep. The change came quietly. Hisagi began to talk about things that mattered, like why Kira always had dark circles under his eyes. One night when Kira stood to leave, Hisagi just pulled him away from the door. No words were exchanged, but they spent the night in a kind of tentative rest which came from the feeling of another body. Shuuhei's arms grounded Kira and forced him not to fade away, while having someone to hold on to and take care of helped Hisagi chase away the memories of how Tosen cared for him. They found that touching reduced the sting of betrayal, and kissing made their minds go blank. Sharing a bed, bare skin pressed up against each other, helped ease in real sleep. The relationship was not prompted by romance, but by pure, unadulterated, need. Need for comfort, for companionship, a need to protect and be protected, to be cared for, and a need to forget. They were each other's outlet, and together they pulled themselves out of the pit that had sprung up with the defection pulled the ground out from under them.
Eventually, life started to move again. No longer frozen by guilt or regret, the men took on the task of leading divisions left headless. They made it their task to help Hinamori return to life as they had, although she still looked like a walking ghost. They pulled their lives back together as a pair, and the thought of separating now that the urgent need was passed never crossed either man's mind. Kira still spent his nights in Shuuhei's bed, and the feel of his arms kept him whole. Eventually they realized that when they kissed, it was for the sheer enjoyment of the thing, not just to chase away the memories. When they touched, it was pleasant in of itself, because they no longer needed constant comforting. Little by little, they ceased to need each other, and eventually the pair became conscious of the fact that they were no longer so utterly codependent. And they then came to the conclusion that since they no longer needed to be together, then they must want to be.