PAIRING: Implied ShunUki, Shunsui Kyoraku, Juushiro Ukitake
COMMENTS: AU, Death. I find sometimes when I'm pretty emotionally broken writing helps. Sometimes..... not sure about this time.
Bleach and all characters belong to Tite Kubo, Unbeta'd so all mistakes are mine alone.
Valley of fear
It was a year since Soul Society's crushing defeat. Nearly everyone and everything had been obliterated in the Quincy invasion. A few select shinigami had been kept alive but that number was dwindling daily: either by execution squads or self inflicted injury. There we even hunts held every weekend. They took pleasure in their kills; parading the heads of the fallen on their victorious return.
Several of the squad four healers were kept alive to heal the wounded. And the biggest claim to fame was the capture and imprisonment of the only surviving captain: Juushiro Ukitake would have gladly forgone that pleasure.
He was kept like a pet or a zoo attraction, only his life and living arrangements weren't splendid or cherished. He lived in a squalid cell; dirty and reeking. He felt weak and pathetic. He hadn't been able to help in the end and the worst of it was seeing friends and comrades fall in battle. The Quincy onslaught had just been too much for them.
The worst had been watching his beloved Shunsui crushed under the falling debris as the Seireitai crumbled. He had was the last man standing and fought to the bitter end. Even his mighty power couldn't overcome tons of rubble falling on top of him.
Ukitake had no more tears; they just refused to flow anymore. Even his own spiritual powers were waning. He could no longer hear the voices of his zanpakuto.
"My people tell me you're not eating, Juushiro Ukitake."
Juushiro glared at the hulking leader of the Quincies. "I'm not very hungry I'm afraid."
"I can have them force feed you."
"Why? Why do you bother to keep me alive?"
"It amuses me for the moment." Juha Bach replied.
"You can go straight to hell." Ukitake hissed.
"Ah the polite veil has fallen away I see."
"As Shunsui would say.... FUCK YOU."
The Quincy leader chuckled while shaking his head. "Missing your lover?"
"That's not your business."
"Oh but it is. You see I need my prize possession alive and perky." he taunted. "I'm going to parade you around the Soul Society to prove how the mighty have fallen."
"Isn't destroying everything enough? There's nothing left for you to gloat over."
"Except you dear captain."
"You're a bastard."
"Such harsh words from such a pretty face. No wonder the late captain-commanders both had a thing for you."
"I'm begging you............ please kill me. I have no wish to remain. I'm sick and powerless, there's no need for this." Juushiro pleaded.
"Frankly, you're bait. Thanks to your imprisonment we've successfully killed quite a few stray shinigami who foolishly thought they could free you." His footfalls echoed as he began to walk away. "Be grateful you still serve a purpose Juushiro Ukitake."
"I'd rather be dead." The caged man called out.
"Keep hoping." Was the final parting shot.
Ukitake curled up into a ball of misery in his dreary cell. Eventually one of the enslaved squad four members brought him what passed as his lunch. As usual it was an unappealing mess and he just pushed it around listlessly with the crude scoop like thing they gave him to eat with. No knives for cutting or forks for stabbing. Just a flimsy little wooden stick that hardly held up to the weight of the slop they served him. It would keep him alive but just barely.
Day after day the Quincies would parade by and gloat at the fallen captain. Most of the time he just lay on the filthy mattress, largely ignoring the rude comments and gestures. His heart just couldn't break any more than it already had.
"Captain?" A soft voice called out to him one day.
"Don't call me that. I'm not a captain any longer."
"Just go away can't you, leave me be." he murmured. "I'm almost dead, just go away."
"I'm here to help."
"Help? How? Why?" Juushiro sat up and rubbed his bleary eyes. Before him was a young familiar looking Quincy.
"I know of no other way to help you escape this. I think it's deplorable how they've treated you." He held out a sheathed tanto knife. "I know how you've felt, I've heard them laughing at your plight."
"Please take this, I know it's not right of me to do it, but I really want to help ease your suffering."
Juushiro stared at the knife for a bit, "Do you think I'm cowardly for wanting to die?" The young man shook his head. "This really is the only way to escape this, isn't it?" There was a nod in response. "Why are you helping me, you know you'll get into trouble."
"I don't care. I just hate seeing you like this. They plan to keep you here for a very long time, and I just can not tolerate it."
"Why? Why help me?" Juushiro pleaded once more.
"Kurosaki was............" He hesitated a moment and hitched his glasses up to the bridge of his nose. "... my friend." he concluded. "Quickly now, they'll be coming back soon. Godspeed Ukitake-taicho."
Juushiro's voice caught in his throat. "Thank you Ishida-san." The blade swiftly cut though his flesh and pierced his heart.
As death's shadows enveloped him, he whispered. "Soon I'll be with you beloved." He could have sworn he felt his lover's strong arms tangle around him and a breath brushed against his ear.
"I've got you, never fear love."