A/N: hello everyone, thanks to all of you that reviewed and added me to your faves. It really inspires me to hear that you like where I'm going with this fic. I re-wrote this particular chapter about five times. It's considerably longer than my other chapters because I wanted to get Yumi's PoV, Ikkaku's PoV and a flashback in this chapter – it just wouldn't work separated into two chapters. So here it is. Hope that you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.


"I think it's high time that you got outta here."

Yumichika turned his head slightly to the side long enough to give Hisagi a look that clearly read 'fuck you very much' before he turned his head again. Hisagi smirked as he ignored Yumichika's sullen attitude and strolled up to the edge of Yumichika's cot and planted himself on the bedside chair. Yumichika noticed his visitor's laidback stance and sighed.

"Oh, why you look so sad? You've been crying?" He said as he noticed Yumichika's red eyes.

"I'm probably just getting conjunctivitis." Yumichika replied in a bored and slightly defeated tone.

Hisagi laughed. He couldn't believe that Yumichika would rather call upon a hideously painful infection on his beautiful eyes than admit that he was crying.

"I'm guessing this is going to be a long visit?"

"I don't know why you never seem happy to see me."

"Hmmm. Lets' see; how about the last time I saw you I almost died and you made no moves to help me?" Yumichika said in his fakest, cheeriest voice possible.

"Grudge mudge?"

Yumichika sneered at him. Hisagi laughed, put his feet up on the edge of Yumichika's bed and rocked back on his chair as he ignored the blatant looks of disgust that he received from the Fifth Seat.

"I was only trying to help you."

"I'd hate to see you not help me." Yumichika grumbled.

"I was trying to help you see that you needed to apologize to Ikkaku, since we both know that you need him in your life."

"Why do you care?"

"I already told you," Hisagi started in a sober tone, "I inadvertently set some things in motion that have you in the predicament that you're in now."

"Okay, so you told someone about my zanpakutō. Who?"

No answer.

Yumichika turned to look at Hisagi, but the Lieutenant avoided his gaze. After a few moments Yumichika gave up and faced forward again before he spoke up.

"Well I guess it doesn't matter. I can't see how things could possibly get worse."

"It already has," Hisagi muttered but Yumichika heard him. Yumichika turned to look at Hisagi, but was again met with only a profile. Hisagi's eyes faced forward, studiously avoiding Yumichika's penetrating stare. What the hell is that supposed to mean, Yumichika wondered, but soon realized that Hisagi was not about to divulge the meaning of his cryptic comment.

"So what happened between you and Ikkaku?"

Yumichika sighed as he realized that he was not going to get rid of Hisagi very soon. He stared out the window and looked at the beautiful morning sky and shut his eyes tightly as he wished that by the time he opened them again Hisagi would be gone. He opened his eyes. Hisagi was still there staring at him with an expression that read, 'well are you gonna answer me or not?' Yumichika scoffed. How unbeautiful that he could not brood in peace. It was so ugly to have to spend the morning being harassed by this sadist.

"It wasn't really a fight of importance," Yumichika started in a defeated tone, "he said potato, I said potahto. He said tomato, I said fuck you. That was the gist of it really."

Hisagi burst out laughing.

"Have I ever told you that you have a wicked sense of humour? And I had no idea that you had such a dirty mouth."

"Every time I see you obscenities do come to mind." Yumichika replied in a dry undertone that made Hisagi stop laughing immediately, and that made Yumichika smirk.

"Wow. You seem really angry."

"You think?"

Hisagi took his legs down from the cot and much to Yumichika's annoyance pulled up his chair so that he was even closer to the Fifth Seat. Yumichika unknowingly recoiled a bit. Then in a deathly serious tone, Hisagi spoke up,

"Let me tell you something. I'm going to help you understand something. You're wrong! You're fucking wrong! You're wrong and Ikkaku's wrong, so this game that the two of you are playing where you're trying to see who's more vex than the other is senseless. Because you're both WRONG! So stop being so angry; wipe that self-righteous look off your face, put your tail between your legs and just fucking apologize!"

Yumichika was flabbergasted. Hisagi took this as an opportunity to continue.

"You're letting your pride get in the way and for what? So that you wouldn't have to admit that you're wrong? Because let me tell you – you are WRONG! You lied to someone for years."

Yumichika opened his mouth to interject, but Hisagi quickly shushed him. Needless to say, Yumichika was utterly stunned.

"Yes, I know, Ikkaku broke his promise. The whole of the Fourth Division and most likely all of Seretei heard the quarrel between you two last night." Hisagi ignored the look of horror that came into Yumichika's eyes and continued, "So, I know all about the fact that he said he would never leave you, but he did. But Yumichika, if you keep up this angry-pride-shit you're going to lose Ikkaku. And trust me when I say that pride isn't the only thing that's fighting to come between the two of you. You need to get up out of here and head home. You need to apologize. Ikkaku needs to apologize too. Both of you need to stop being such asses."

After his speech Hisagi rocked back on his chair to watch his words sink into Yumichika. Hisagi watched as Yumichika's expression melted from absolute shock to slight confusion to a look that he knew all too well – the inaccessible haughty look of annoyance.

"For the life of me I can't see why you care so much." Yumichika calmly stated.

"What?"

"I'm saying that I don't understand why any of this should really concern you. I get it. You feel bad about telling my secret to whoever you told it to, but you seem to go out of your way to want to help me. And to be honest, I can't see why you would do that, especially since I have been less than nice to you."

"Because I care." Hisagi answered. He was getting tired of having to explain himself.

"Why?"

"Because I just do!"

"But why?"

"Because I care about you and I want to see you happy!"

Hisagi only realized what he had said after he noticed the smug, flattered look on Yumichika's face.

"But why?" Yumichika said again and Hisagi sprung from his chair in an attempt to throttle the beautiful man. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I was only joking." Yumichika hastily said and broke into peals of laughter.

"You are one vain bastard, you know that?" Hisagi continued, but Yumichika only laughed more. "You just need to know that another person is in love with you and you're in good spirits again."

Yumichika's eyes bulged in surprise and Hisagi wanted to slap himself for letting out just how much he cared for Yumichika.

"You're in love with me?" Yumichika asked; his eyes wide with surprise, but probably not as surprised as Hisagi was at his own confession. His face blushed crimson as he searched for a way to back pedal out of the conversation. But Yumichika was not about to let him go so easily, especially not after the stunt Hisagi pulled on him when his body was failing him. Yumichika was going to milk this like a cow.

"It's understandable really. I mean when I think about it, all the signs are there."

"Shut up." Hisagi murmured, but his pleas were ignored.

"I mean, look at the situation. There aren't a lot of beautiful people in Seretei, so it's understandable that you would fall for someone as beautiful as myself."

"Shut up."

Again, he was ignored.

"I mean you have people like Kira to look at. Vinegar would look at him and turn sour. And Abarai is too stupid to mention. So, I can obviously understand how enraptured you became – "

"Would you shut the hell up?!"

Yumichika burst into peals of laughter again.

"I have no idea how Ikkaku put up with you. You don't even listen." Hisagi muttered as he sat back down in his chair and purposely avoided Yumichika's giggling form. But he couldn't ignore the serious tone that Yumichika spoke in after a while.

"Contrary to what you might think, I do listen. I listen very well. You have mentioned the word 'wrong' seven times, so I'm guessing that you're probably feeling seven times as wrong about how you sold out my secret." Hisagi stared at him in wonder and Yumichika took this opportunity to lock his eyes with Hisagi. "I also realized that the person that you told my secret to is Izuru Kira."

Under the penetrating gaze of Yumichika's intensely beautiful lavender eyes, Hisagi seemed unable to deny the fact, yet he had the strong urge not to confess. So it was with all his will power that he broke Yumichika's gaze.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Hmm. Of course you don't. But Kira is the likely suspect since he is your best friend and most recently seems to want to be Ikkaku's. So I wouldn't be surprised if he did tell Ikkaku about my zanpakutō."

Hisagi scoffed.

"Beauty and brains, huh?"

Yumichika smiled at the compliment, but refrained from commenting on it, since he could see Hisagi groaning over letting another compliment slip from him.

"What I can't seem to understand is your fear?"

"Huh?"

"When I said earlier that I couldn't see how things could possibly get any worse between Ikkaku and me, you cryptically replied that it already has. Plus, you said that pride is not the only thing that is fighting to come between Ikkaku and I."

Hisagi couldn't help but be amazed that Yumichika could quote him verbatim, especially when most of the time Yumichika looked like he was not really paying him much attention.

"I told you that I listen." Yumichika said and flicked his hair for added measure, "It's one of my many beautiful skills. Anyway, what are you trying to imply by those words, Hisagi-san?"

Hisagi shifted uncomfortably in his seat, wishing that he had left about three minutes ago.

"Do you trust Ikkaku?"

"Without a doubt." Yumichika answered immediately and it broke Hisagi to hear Yumichika's loyalty. He wondered how Yumichika would feel if he saw what he saw last night. Would Yumichika still be as loyal and trusting if he knew that Izuru had entered Ikkaku's and Yumichika's room last night and when the sun came up, he still had not left?

Hisagi considered Yumichika and for a brief moment he understood Izuru's desperation. For a moment he yearned for that love that Yumichika gave to Ikkaku. He wished that he could trust someone like that again. Yumichika was confident, beautiful, proud, smart, funny and a skilled Shinigami. Hisagi stared into those lavender eyes and he wished that he could have what Ikkaku has. A strong desire to kiss the Fifth Seat burned like a fever within him. It was only for a moment that the thought entered his mind and spilled over into his eyes, but Yumichika saw Hisagi's lust and responded.

"I would never disrespect Ikkaku like that."

Oh how it broke Hisagi's heart to hear such loyalty that he knew was not being returned. He got up to leave, but paused at the door.

"Hisagi-san, is there something that I should know about Lieutenant Kira?"

Hisagi considered the question that left him in a difficult position.

"He's not like me. He wouldn't make the decisions I would." Hisagi cryptically responded.

"Well then I like him already." Yumichika quipped.

"You should go home to Ikkaku, Fifth Seat Ayasegawa-san."

After Hisagi left, Yumichika crawled off the bed to get dressed as he pushed aside the thoughts of doubt that Hisagi had planted into his mind. He was going to swallow his pride and apologize, even if it took all the seas to wash it down.


Morning came and brought with it clarity. Ikkaku did not feel like doing his lucky dance. Instead, he sat on one of the tatami mats with his back braced against the wall, his knees up and apart with his hands drooping over them as he watched Izuru sleep. The room still smelled of Yumichika, but now there was also the slightly overpowering scent of Izuru that was making Ikkaku feel a bit nauseous. Or it could be the massive hangover headache that he now had. Suddenly Izuru stirred and Ikkaku watched him shift on Yumichika's side of the futon, feel about for Ikkaku then turn to realize that Ikkaku was sitting at the far end of the wall. He sat up blearily to face Ikkaku. Ikkaku did not turn away his eyes from the blond that was wearing nothing at all under the sheets. They had no shame between them now.

"Good morning, Ikkaku-san. How are you?"

Ikkaku did not answer Izuru as he hoped that that was a rhetorical question. He clearly looked like how he felt, which was like shit. He had bathed and was already dressed in his Shinigami robes, but still he felt like he was dirtier than dirt itself.

"Ya know, Izuru," Ikkaku started off slowly, his voice in not the usual gruff tones, but softer. Izuru noticed it immediately. "I've known Yumichika for more than two hundred years now. And I've been...involved with him for more than half that time."

Izuru said nothing. He got the feeling that he was not required to comment. Ikkaku continued.

"This room..." Ikkaku cast a glance upwards at the room, but soon closed his eyes as if getting lost in a memory, "...made me fall for Yumichika. We had just made Third and Fifth Seat respectively. I never had any feelings towards Yumi other than I saw him as a friend and even if I did, I would have never acknowledge those feelings. But this room helped me realize something that I didn't even know I was feeling."

Being made a seated officer meant paperwork. It seemed to Ikkaku and Yumichika that the Captain had been purposely holding back on all the paperwork that he was supposed to ever do so that Ikkaku and Yumichika would have something to welcome them into their new positions. Whenever paperwork came to the Eleventh Division the large, broad-shouldered Captain of the Eleventh Division would suddenly become invisible and impossible to find, taking his Lieutenant with him, thus leaving the piling high stack of bureaucratic duties for his favourite Seated Officers. In addition, Ikkaku and Yumichika still had to carry out their duties of patrol, training themselves as well as subordinates, cut down the occasional Hollow or two and hunt down rogue Eleventh Division members (who always got more licks than was necessary because they added to the already stressed workload of Ikkaku and Yumichika). The result was that by the time their first month was over, Ikkaku and Yumichika felt drained and was seriously beginning to questioning why they became Seated Officers after all. Well nothing spoke 'relieve work stress' like a good bottle of sake, according to Ikkaku anyway, so after a particularly stressful day he made his way to Yumichika's room so the two could gripe together. They had yet to become accustomed to their increased workload and as such had spent the last month going home early to sleep and hardly spending any time with each other, other than what directly brought them together due to their Shinigami duties. When he arrived however, he found that Yumichika had already started the groaning session without him and was sitting in the dark looking like the world had just ended.

"The hell's wrong with you?" Ikkaku gruffly asked as he moved around the room to try to put on some lamps.

"Don't!" Yumichika screamed at him like he was some light-hating vampire-bat, and Ikkaku let him know that was exactly what he thought of him.

"Don't ever call me something so ugly again or so help me God I will break in your face." Yumi ground out making Ikkaku smirk.

"Ah. That's the Yumichika I know. Now why are you sitting here moping around all by yourself in the dark? If ya gonna mope you should at least be drinkin'!"

"Oh Ikkaku, can't you see the travesty that has befallen me?" Yumichika moaned. He sounded like he just found out that his mother died – absolute sorrow dripped from his voice. Ikkaku instantly came to stoop in front of him, concern written all over his face.

"Yumi, what's the matter?" Ikkaku asked, his voice softer, his brain wondering what on Soul Society could have his best friend so utterly grief stricken.

"Oh Ikkaku, it's horrible; absolutely depressing. I don't even want to speak about it."

"Yumichika," Ikkaku said tilting the man's head up so that he could look him in the eyes – eyes that looked so forlorn that Ikkaku would give anything to see them shine again, "what's going on?"

Yumichika sighed a deep, heavy sigh that seemed to come all the way from his toes and dragged out all his hurt.

"This room is so ugly. It's depressing and draining all my energy. I can't bear to look at it, much less live in it."

Ikkaku stared at Yumichika for several moments to ensure that Yumichika was not using some sort of metaphor. But judging by the fact that Yumichika refused to open his eyes to look at the walls that had recently become his home as a result of the promotion, Ikkaku concluded that the room in fact was making Yumichika depressed. Ikkaku sweatdropped.

"Are you for real?!" Ikkaku bellowed, "Man, you had me worried that yer gonna tell me Unohana said that you have some terminal disease or something! Che. You are so irritating!" Ikkaku growled and stormed towards the back screen door, flung it open and plopped himself down on the veranda as he continued to mutter words like "insufferable", "absolute pain" and "I was so worried."

Yumichika was stunned. He knew that Ikkaku's outburst was the man's way of saying that he was genuinely worried about him and a small blush appeared on his face at the thought. He quickly got up to head over to Ikkaku to offer an apology. At least, an apology was his intention. However, it came out a bit differently.

"I can't see why you're upset with me! You should know the things that really matter to me. I am insulted that you would dismiss what I care about just like that!"

So much for the apology. What did they say about good intentions?

Ikkaku turned to look at him; disbelief at Yumichika etched onto his face.

"Che," Ikkaku stated as he got up, "I'm not in the mood for this shit. I'm going home."

Yumichika watched in shock as Ikkaku stepped into the backyard and jumped the low wall that separated their rooms and couldn't help but think that Ikkaku's stormy walk out would have been a lot more dramatic if he was not just going next door. He heard Ikkaku's screen door shut. He thought about getting up to actually apologize this time, but he just sat back down and continued to feel sorry for himself.

The next evening Yumichika came into his drab room with the intention of bathing and then going straight to bed so that he would not have to deal with looking at the ugly room. But as soon as he stepped inside, he tripped on a tin of paint. He looked up to see Ikkaku sitting on the back veranda.

"I see you found my solution to your problem." Ikkaku said with a huge smirk on his face.

Yumichika, with as much grace as one could after falling on your face, picked himself up together with the paint and walked over to Ikkaku.

"I'm not even going to quarrel because I know you just wanted revenge over last night. I'm not going to give you the ugly satisfaction of getting me all riled up." Yumichika said, with his head held high.

"But ya look good when ya all riled up."

There was a beat where no one really knew what to say.

After a while, Ikkaku cleared his throat, not so much as to clear phlegm, but more so the burning blush that spread across his face from his where-the-hell-did-that-come-from moment.

"So the paint – " Yumichika started in an attempt to get around the awkwardness.

"Yes, umm," Ikkaku hastily grabbed, "I brought this for ya. Ya know, so you could paint ya room and stop looking like the walking dead."

He received a cuff to the arm for making such an ugly reference to Yumichika, but he gladly accepted it; anything to get away from that Freudian slip he had earlier. Yumichika, eyes wide with excitement, carefully opened the tin to reveal the colour. Ikkaku watched his friend's face fall flat like a pancake.

"What's the matter?"

Yumichika tried to hide his disappointment, but failed miserably.

"Sea Foam Green?"

"Yeah! What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing, nothing." Yumi replied quickly and plastered on a huge grin, "I love it. Thanks for the gift. It is thoroughly appreciated."

Ikkaku chuckled.

"You honestly think that you could lie to me?" Ikkaku saw Yumichika turn his head to the side, obviously he had no idea of the irony of his words, "I know you don't like the colour. It's okay. I'm not upset. But the point I'm trying to make is that I'm willing to help you make the room into something you would like."

Yumichika turned to look at Ikkaku, his eyes paralyzing him with their beauty and emotions. God! How Ikkaku hated when he did that. He always felt like Yumichika could see into his thoughts when he looked at him like that and right now that was the last thing that Ikkaku wanted, seeing as how all he could inexplicably think of was how beautiful Yumichika's eyes were. He forced himself to look away.

"You would do that for me?" Yumichika asked, positively wibbling at the thought.

"Che. Yeah. It's no problem as long as you keep your depressing funk away from me."

Yumichika beamed.

"You're right. Depression is so ugly and does not befit someone as beautiful as me."

And so Operation Make Yumichika Happy by Making Over His Room had started. It was an unnecessary addition to their already hectic workload, but neither complained and actually came to look forward to spending time throwing around ideas and secretly running away from work to go shop for materials in the Rukongai. At first however, the project threatened to fail before it even got started as the two men's varied opinions on what should be done with the room caused them to nearly come to blows. But after much arguing, they soon came to realize that Yumichika's strength lay in designing and Ikkaku's in execution. The project led them to an appreciation of each other that they did not even know they had.

"Yumichika," Ikkaku called one evening. As he stepped into Yumichika's room he momentarily forgot his purpose as he saw Yumi, who was standing in the middle of the room over a rather large piece of parchment and holding up a just as ridiculously large brush and was dressed in a beautiful vine green kimono. But it was the combination of all those factors that caused Ikkaku to pause. Yumichika was doing calligraphy. His body, his hands, his face, his movements all exuded grace and strength. It was just like how he fought- with control and beauty. His face was filled with concentration; his muscles could be seen rippling from the focus and power it took to control the brush. Ikkaku couldn't believe what was happening to him. He was instantly aroused. The realization caused him to panic and he ran back outside to collect himself and clear his mind of such inappropriately sexual thoughts about his friend.

"Ikkaku is that you?" Yumichika's voice rang from inside.

Ikkaku took a deep breath and proceeded to head back inside.

"What are you doing?" Yumichika asked.

"I umm...I just came to tell you that I got the lumber, so I could work on the wooden valances today."

"I can see that. But why are you walking with the wood in front of your eyes?"

Sure enough Ikkaku had walked back into the room holding up two planks of wood in front of his face in a weak attempt to block the image of Yumichika from his sight. Ikkaku really didn't have an answer to give Yumichika, at least not an answer that did not involve lying. Yumichika walked over to Ikkaku and took over one plank as he continued to the back veranda.

"Watch yourself. Don't step on my calligraphy. I'm hanging it on the wall above the futon as soon as the room is done." Yumichika called after him.

Yumichika need not worry about that because Ikkaku was making it his business to stay away from all calligraphy related things from now on.

"Would you like me to help you?" Yumichika inquired as soon as Ikkaku set down the pieces of wood in the back yard. But Ikkaku just shook his head in a slightly annoyed way. He couldn't even look at Yumichika now. All he wanted was to get lost in the soothing simplicity of cutting and sanding wood. He sat down on the grass and began the painstakingly slow process of sanding the Maple and Mahogany wood. He wanted to get lost in the dull, repetitive motions, but his mind would not let him. Something strange was happening to him. As far as Ikkaku knew, he liked girls, yet here was an impossible to ignore desire for his male best friend. And despite the fact that he knew Yumichika for years he still was unsure about his friend's sexual preference. Was it girls, guys, gigais? He had no idea. This was so strange. In all the years that he had known Yumichika, Ikkaku had never had any sexual thoughts about his friend. Yes, he admitted that Yumichika was gorgeous – no one with sight could deny that fact. But these feelings were novel. It was more than just sexual lust; there was something more, something deeper. Why were they occurring now? Ikkaku did not know the answer to that question and he wasn't really sure he wanted an answer. He looked up to see Yumichika had prepared tea for him and left it on the veranda. Che, Ikkaku thought, Yumi always knew when he needed to be alone.

For the next few days Ikkaku tried his best not to focus on his sudden, growing attraction to Yumichika and only concentrate on their project. He did whatever carpentry work that was necessary which included, constructing and hanging the two wooden valances with the circle cut-outs above the side walls and breaking down and reconstructing the entire back wall so that the entire wall would now be paper panels that would subtly let in the light from the back yard. It was hard work, but it was fun and he especially loved seeing Yumichika's face light up with excitement as his new room came to life. At the end of two weeks Yumichika kicked out Ikkaku in order to "put the room together", a task that managed to take the entire day. When he finally entered, Ikkaku was blown away.

"You like it huh? Isn't it beautiful? We did this." Yumichika fawned, his eyes dreamy at the splendour of his own room. The room itself was clean and elegant, just like Yumichika. The carpentry that Ikkaku had done gave the room more depth as well as brightened up the space. Beautiful dogwood flowers, golden rods and lilies were situated in elegantly crafted ceramic vases at strategic points along the room. But the focal point was Yumichika's massive scroll of calligraphy that hung above the futon. The script was of course the word 'beautiful' written in Kanji. And indeed, the artwork was beautiful, just like the artist.

"I'm really glad that you suggested this project, Ikkaku." Yumichika started they sat on tatami mats and admired the room while sipping sake.

"Che. It was nothing."

"I had a lot of fun with the project."

"I know you did. This is right up your alley." Ikkaku said with a small smirk on his face.

"But I'm not sure that you had fun," Yumichika said in a tone barely above a whisper, "I'm sorry if I made things difficult for you."

Ikkaku was stunned. Yumichika was apologizing. Of course Yumichika was apologizing that something he actually did not do, Ikkaku thought cynically.

"Che. You never apologize for the times when you actually do fuck up, but yer apologizing now when ya didn't do anything wrong. Man, you're something else."

"So, you really did like helping me?"

"Yeah I did. I've just had a lot of things on my mind lately. But I really did like doing the project with you. I had no idea that we could work together so well."

That was when it suddenly hit him. He and Yumichika were good together. It was a revelation that Ikkaku's heart had already figured out, but his brain had only just caught up. It took his brain almost a hundred years to realize that he was in love with Yumichika Ayasegawa. And now his brain was making up for lost time by sending messages to his mouth to act on its own accord, for Ikkaku said:

"I think that this project acted as a catalyst to help me realize something."

It was like his brain had run a coup d'état. Ikkaku was no longer in control. His brain was taking messages from his heart and try as he might to stop himself, the words kept tumbling out.

"Realize what?" Yumichika asked and pierced him with his eyes. Oh Kami no. Don't do that, Ikkaku screamed from his mental prison. Those eyes only served to hasten the revolt of his heart.

"I've realized that we could be good together. We're good as friends, but we could be even better at something more."

Now that his brain and heart had successfully completed their siege of his tongue, Ikkaku was allowed control once more. He was left to sit in wretched anticipation of Yumichika's reply. Yumichika expression was not quite readable. He wore only a slight smirk on his face as he brought the sake to his lips.

"Well Ikkaku, I'm glad that you finally realized something that I've known and accepted for quite some time now. You really are slow, you know that."

Ikkaku experienced a strange mix of feelings then. It was joy mixed with fear, judging by the plunge his stomach made to his feet. This was so new. But also, he was feeling annoyed at Yumichika's remark about him being slow, so Ikkaku fell back onto his familiar territory and raised his hand to smack Yumichika for his rude, disrespectful tongue. But Yumi caught Ikkaku's hand and brought him in for a kiss. It was a kiss that was different, but Ikkaku knew it felt right. Yeah, he thought, they could be good together. Che, they were already great together.

Realization dawned on Izuru and it hurt badly. Despite his best efforts he was in the same predicament as he usually found himself in – unrequited love. Ikkaku's story was there to tell him not how nice of a lover he could be, but rather, how nice of a lover he could be to Yumichika and nothing could change that. One night meant nothing. It hurt so badly and Izuru ached for something like that, but he knew that he was not going to get it from Ikkaku.

Ikkaku saw Izuru get up to go the bathroom and was grateful that he did not have to spell it out for the Lieutenant. Last night was the furthest that Izuru would ever reach.

Izuru came back out a while later to find Ikkaku in the back yard standing over a burning futon. It took him a couple of seconds to realize that that was the futon from inside that held all the memories and evidence of the night that he spent with Ikkaku.

"What are you going to do now, Ikkaku-san?"

"I gotta go shop for a new futon." Ikkaku answered casually, but he never removed his eyes from the flames.

"No, I meant about Yumichika."

"Che. I'm going to put my tail between my legs and hope that he takes me back." Again, he did not raise his head from the flames.

The guilt settled on Izuru like snow, seeping into his clothes and skin and chilling him to the bone. But if it was just guilt he might have been able to handle it. He was instead hit with a deep sense of failure and not only his own failure, though that did resound in his mind and heart. But the failure of a great relationship weighed heavy on him and pulled him down. Izuru had loved and lost and as much as he hated the fact that Ikkaku did not want him, he would never wish upon him the agony of heartbreak. He looked at Ikkaku who stared at his mistakes burning brightly in the fire and Izuru Kira wished that he could save the man from such heartache. He was used to carrying around such a heavy, agonizing burden of lost love, and he wanted to save Ikkaku from that. But he knew it was too late and it had been all his fault. He did not save Ikkaku from heartache. He instead, put him right in the line of it. The guilt finally got to him and it burned him like it burned the flaming futon.


A/N: I was watching HGTV when the idea for the flashback of how Yumichika and Ikkaku became more than just friends came to mind. Yeah, apparently designing brings out my fluffy side. LOL.