"Why won't you let yourself rely on anyone else?" Shuuhei thinks far too much for his own good, and Yumichika shows him that it's easy to not be alone even when one is fighting by himself. Shuuhei...
Shuuhei has always known that Yumichika always fights alone.
It isn't that Shuuhei minds, not really, but it is rather disheartening when Yumichika pushes him aside and doesn't let him help. He knows it isn't that he is weak, he is a vice-captain after all, but he can't help but think that Yumichika is stronger, far stronger than he can ever be.
Shuuhei thinks that Yumichika wouldn't grieve and rage like he did if his Captain left. He thinks that Yumichika will simply pick himself up and train harder to get even stronger, strong enough to kick his captain's ass and wake him up for leaving them. But Shuuhei also knows that Zaraki-taichou isn't Tousen-taichou, and even though Tousen-taichou (Tousen isn't a captain any more, but Shuuhei never tries to stop calling him that) seems much better on the surface, he sometimes (always) thinks (knows) that Zaraki-taichou is somehow a hundred times better than Tousen-taichou, because Zaraki-taichou will never leave his Division, will never leave his vice-captain.
And so he watches Yumichika fight alone, quiet and admiring both his courage and his ferocity. Yumichika fights with a viciousness that seems to carry over every single of the 11th Division, but, Shuuhei thinks, it is a brutality that is more beautiful than savage. It fits Yumichika very well, he thinks.
And so he watches Yumichika fight alone, sweat gleaming and a triumphant smile on his lips, his zanpaktou like a light that leads him from the darkness back into the (bloodstained) world. He watches Yumichika and marvels at how different they are, how different their Divisions are because Tousen-taichou has always taught his subordinates to work as a team, to work together and /survive/. Tousen-taichou had taught them, taught /him/, that survival is more important that pride and battle and victory, and that it's better to live and run away than to die a victor.
But Yumichika doesn't think that way, and always, always fight alone, his body and his sword in tandem, a dance so hypnotizing that Shuuhei can't help but watch. And so he watches, and wonders, just why he was wrong, why Tousen-taichou was /wrong/, and why do all of the Eleventh fight alone but they're the strongest anyway. Tousen-taichou had said that teamwork is the secret to victory.
And so he asks Yumichika one night, when he pants and his nerves feel like they're on fire. He asks then, because he doesn't know if he has the courage to ask any other time.
"Why do you always fight alone, Yumi? Why won't you let yourself rely on anyone else?"
"Taichou has always taught us that victory is everything, that our own strength is the most important. I rely on only myself and my sword in battle, because, in battle, they are the only things I can /trust/. I'm not saying that you'll betray me or stab me in the back, but, Shuuhei, I can only fight with someone who completely trusts me, and who I completely trust back."
"I trust you. But you don't trust me, Shuuhei. You stand at the side and watch me fight and never try to join in. All you do is watch. It's... it's as if you don't dare to trust anyone else with your emotions. You watch, at the sidelines, and you block your heart. I trust you, but you have to trust me back, Shuuhei."
"Why won't you let yourself rely on anyone else?"
It's true, Shuuhei knows what Yumichika is saying is the truth, but he can't (he shouldn't) believe it himself. If he does... if he believes Yumichika, it will mean that everything Tousen-taichou says is wrong. And if Tousen-taichou is wrong, then it must mean that all his beliefs are wrong as well, and that he has believed in nothing but lies all this time.
And so he turns away from Yumichika and pretends to fall asleep, and hears Yumichika's little sigh and feels warm breaths against his back. He closes his eyes and wills himself to sleep, but he can't get Yumichika's words from his mind. Perhaps he watches not because he respects Yumichika's wishes, not because he knows Yumichika wants to fight alone, but perhaps... perhaps...
Perhaps he just fears to get to close, that, one day, Yumichika will leave again and there will be nothing. Maybe he is afraid to be left alone, and so he chooses to be alone because, that way, he wouldn't be abandoned. He finds that the logic makes no sense whatsoever, but it has the ring of truth.
He turns back to Yumichika, who is watching him with knowing eyes and a smile. Shuuhei sits up, grabs his lover's shoulders and starts to talk.
He tells Yumichika everything, about his childhood and his first crush and his parents and his disappointment about failing the entrance of the Academy twice. He tells Yumichika of his first tattoo (the sixty-nine), his entrance into the Academy and his excitement of having a squad assignment (the ninth) before he graduated. He tells Yumichika of Tousen-taichou, of his principles and beliefs and how Shuuhei had believed so completely in them, so much that he almost couldn't breathe when he held his zanpaktou to his Captain's throat.
Then Yumichika gets up, kisses him on the lips once, then left, leaving Shuuhei bewildered and confused and afraid that he has scared the other man away. Then Yumichika comes back and places the cups of tea on the bed. He sits on Shuuhei lap and Shuuhei can feel the heat and the warmth of his lover.
Yumichika speaks, and Shuuhei learns. He now knows that Yumichika had once been in Rukongai, although he has forgotten which district for he never cares to remember them. He now knows of Yumichika's parents (killed by bandits), of his various jobs (prostitute) and of meeting Ikkaku and Zaraki-taichou. He now knows of the prejudices Yumichika had met with, both for his looks and his sexual preferences, and he knows of his lover's beliefs and fear and /strength/. He now knows everything about Yumichika's zanpaktou, and he smiles for his lover has never told anyone that before.
They talk until the morning comes, the sunlight bathing the room in golden light. Shuuhei stands up and grabs the tray of tea (untouched and cold), and holds out a hand for Yumichika to hold. He gets a smile (understanding and /happiness/) as a soft, warm hand grips his and he pulls Yumi up, smiling back with equal warmth.
And so he watches Yumichika fight once more, watches the dance of blades and sees the bodies of the Hollows fall. And he waits.
He sees a casual glance to his side, and smiles and takes his zanpaktou and joins the battle at Yumichika's side. And they fighttogether, and, somehow, Shuuhei feels that it's better this way.
He has more than himself to rely on.