Teaser: “Protecting Jūshiro and Toshiro became my top priority, even to the point of hiding who I was, what I was. I’d once sworn to Mizuki that I would do anything for her family: it had simply become the time to put my money where my mouth had been.”
Inspiration: “One Day At A Time – SIDE A” had a very unresolved ending... I felt like the story needed more –not to mention, I wanted to write about Shunsuí! Additional inspiration continues to come from “One Day At A Time” as performed by Cody Longo.
Rating: T, for swearing and male/male kissing
Warnings: -Male/Mair pairings -Bisexual men -Sweary words -SPOILERS (at least right now, haha) -Sappy -Angsty
Main Pairing: Jūshiro Ukitake / Shunsui Kyōraku
Minor Pairings: -(past) Jūshiro Ukitake/OC (Mizuki Ukitake)
Setting: In the fictional nation of Kōsei, which the gentle Jūshiro-sama rules.
POV: Jūshiro got his turn –now it's Shunsuí's. First person perspective.
Summary: I never believed I had a chance –not when he was still so in love with her. But his kiss and his words changed everything. If I didn't reach out and take what I wanted this time, I would never get another chance. Would I reach for him? Or was I too afraid?
Additional ANs: I never intended this part to have so damn much angst! I mean, it was Shun's turn, so I expected it to be lighter. Instead, I fell into a darker piece again. Still, this is not the end! The last part in this set will be “One Day At A Time – CODA”. Keep in mind, in this AU, Toshiro is Jūshiro's son. Jūshiro's wife's name was Mizuki –consider it a shout out to my favorite Bleach OC. The daughter they lost was named Tsuki. Like the “SIDE A”, there's a lot of internal monologue … but unlike “SIDE A”, there is no real action... not sure how I feel about it, but that's how it came out. Despite the angst level, I tried to keep it humorous... Hope I succeeded...!
Universe: One Trick Pony (OTP) Universe! This takes place after the “One More Night” set and runs parallel to part of “One Trick Pony”. I'll get back to you on which chapter it follows. It directly follows “One Day At A Time – SIDE A”.
Word Count: 1724 words about childhood friends trying to figure things out...
I have loved him a long, long time, since before he married his sweet Mizuki, since before he had even shown any interest in girls, really. To be well and truly honest, I have loved Ukitake Jūshiro-heika, King of Kōsei, since we were about ten years old. One beautiful day, we had been playing in the royal gardens, just as we usually did. We were running up and down the cobblestone path, laughing and carrying on like children do. When Juu-chan fell, I hurried to his side, mid-panic and wondering just what I was going to tell the king and the queen about letting the crown prince get injured. He hardly shed a tear, really –he just stared at the new wounds on his knees with a strange look of wonder on his face, as though he had never seen such things before. Crouching by his side, I had asked him if he was alright. “I've never scrapped my knees before,” he had admitted, still a little awe-struck by his bleeding knees. Long-used to dealing with younger cousins, I leaned forward and pressed a light kiss to each knee –to “take the sting out”, I had explained to him when he asked me what I was doing. When he gave me that smile of his –the happy, laughing smile that could eclipse any moderate-sized star –I had somehow known that I was utterly doomed. It had probably also been why I persisted in using a pet name that he never even allowed his beloved wife to use. I could never begrudge Jūshiro his marriage to Mizuki, but, quite ironically, I could apparently begrudge her marriage to him. Still, they had loved each other so deeply and so much that I told myself I could be happy to stay by his side and watch the man I loved be happy with someone else. Surprisingly, I made it an entire year before I needed some sort of coping mechanism to ease the pain. So I chose a depressant –alcohol. They were barely twenty when they had Toshiro and I thought their happiness would only grow from there. When our old friend Sojūn predicted some rather terrible things in their future, we did our best to ignore them. Even knowing that Sojūn was the Deviner, that there was no Seer more powerful or accurate in our world, we each discarded the warnings for our own selfish reasons. Jūshiro ignored them because he was so happy with his lovely wife and his beloved son and because they were trying for more children. Meanwhile, I was busily trying to convince myself that I could be happy with women who were less than half of what Jūshiro was, women I found myself comparing to my best friend each and every time, and I was so guilt-ridden for resenting his happiness. There were only three real joys in my life, and they only happened when I was sober. The first of which was playing with little Toshiro. He was the most adorable child I'd ever laid eyes on. It amazed me how much he resembled his father at that age. Sometimes, I felt as though time was playing tricks on me, turning backwards for Jūshiro while it still marched onward for me. Oh, how I loved that little boy! I had been the one to call him “Shiro”, a nickname that stuck so well even his mother used it for him. My second joy was a young woman around my age, the only daughter of one of the other noble families. Kurosaki Misaki was stunning and to this very day, I have never met a more beautiful woman. Still, she was like a sister to me. She touched parts of me I thought had died with my own younger sister and I wanted deeply to protect the light that she was to me. When she became betrothed to the Ishida scion, I was at once both pleased and saddened. Pleased, because it was a great match for what it was and Ishida Ryūken was also a dear friend of hers. Saddened, because I knew she loved another, a man she rarely spoke of, if at all. When she broke her betrothal and married a nobleman from Nigotta –the head of the mighty Shiba family– I wasn’t sure what to feel, because I knew she deeply loved him but her absence had left a heavy emptiness in me. My last little joy had been the young prince of Nigotta. Unlike the current monarch, little Byakuya had his uncle Sōjun’s reserved manner and introspection. The little prince also had his uncle and every one of the rest of us wrapped around his tiny fingers. So little love had been in his life that he honestly had no idea what to expect when he came to be tutored by his uncle. The lack was such an offense to the rest of us that we desperately sought to all but smoother the boy in love every time he was with us. Though we had him for a few weeks at a time every few months, it never seemed like enough time, and the coldness of his parents still showed in his manner at times, but even as a young man, I could see the warmth and the love that had been seeded into him by us in those weeks he’d stayed with us, and it warmed me to no end. All the while, I tried to lose my own feelings –the inadequacy, the voluminous jealousy– in vice and wine and women. But nothing could cover it, because I never sought to uproot the feeling that had planted the seeds. When Mizuki fell ill shortly after losing the daughter she and Jūshiro had been trying so hard for, I gave up my vices. Something in me taunted me with the possibility that my ill will had caused such tragedy because of my deep desire for her husband. With the heavy weight of such guilt, I doted on Mizuki. I stayed with her whenever Jūshiro couldn’t, which was unfortunately more often than not with the duties he juggled. My guilt became the vigil on her death bed and peek-a-boo with her son and sitting through the funeral of a baby girl that never had a chance to live. The day after Mizuki’s death, I found my way back to my vices. Before that day, I’d never drank anything but sake. After that day, I’d have drank anything –anything to forget, to black out, to meet oblivion. I saw less and less of Jūshiro and Toshiro and my other joys as I gradually spent less time with a clear mind. I lost count of the days and months I lost between her death and the day I woke up in the hospital. Collapsed in a chair at my bedside was my king –my very best friend, the man I loved more than life. Curled beside me on the bed was Toshiro. His little eyelids fluttered, then opened as he realized I woke. “Uncle Shun? Why did you make Daddy cry?” the little boy asked me, so serious and so calm. “I didn’t mean to, Shiro,” I told him hoarsely, honestly. Laying there, with my honorary nephew and best friend near to me, I listened as a doctor explained a condition I hadn’t even known was possible. In that same bed, Toshiro slept beside me as many nights as he was allowed. In that same bed, I finally bore the brunt of the young king’s loss and hurt and pain. Even then, as miserable as I was watching him fall all to pieces, I wanted to take all that pain away from him, to be his strength and his confidence. So I got better. I moderated my sake consumption and I stayed away from everything else. I was careful when it came to my affairs and companionships, frequently choosing to cross the boarder into Nigotta where fewer people knew me. It was on one such trip into Kaede that I encountered a boy called Strawberry. He immediately reminded me of Misaki and I told him so one night in his chamber. He had stiffened. “Shiba Misaki was my mother, Lord Kyōraku. May I ask how you knew her?” Upon learning of Misaki’s death, I wept in earnest and he somehow understood –he wept with me. We continued to meet again and again just to speak to each other. He had his mother’s easy manner and stubbornness and we debated many things and shared so many secrets. On several occasions, I had urged him to return to Kōsei with me, to be recognized as a young noble of the Kurosaki house. “They would never accept me, Shun. Never. They disowned my mother, after all, and no spirit as gentle as hers resides in me. Never mind that I have become a fallen woman, of sorts.” He laughed ruefully. “No, there is no home for me there.” Our meetings continued until he told me of his plans to move to the Nigottian capital city. But the loss of my confidant led me to backslide more. Still, I was careful to drink to excess only when Jūshiro and Toshiro were away or would not hear of it. I shunned the companionship of anyone but the royal families of Kōsei and Nigotta and the Diviner himself. Celibate for close to a year, I devoted all of my energy and attention to those who would always be dear to me. Protecting Jūshiro and Toshiro became my top priority, even to the point of hiding who I was, what I was. I’d once sworn to Mizuki that I would do anything for her family: it had simply become the time to put my money where my mouth had been. So if really pressed, I couldn’t tell you what made m push Juu-chan down. Was it the celibacy and months of lewd dreams he always stared in? Was it the sake on my breath? Was it my own inability to deny my feelings any longer? I’d lost count of the number of times I had dreamed this situation. Yet now that it was here, I was torn between his pride –my pride– and my fear. But we hurt each other in ways we never saw coming. Hurting him hurt me almost as much as his scathing reaction. His touch was a drug too sweet to be the sake I drank frequently enough. His kiss put all of my vices to shame. And he wanted me to forget it –and his confession? Not bloody likely!