"Snails, Shiro-san, are wonderful things..." Shunsui and Ukitake share breakfast. And stuff. Some language, but i swear the only ones gettin' any are the snails.
He should have suspected something when the cheek of the black lacquered bowl felt cool against his fingers. If it had held the usual enough-for-two-and-a-half-captains serving of green tea rice that made up his customary morning meal, it would have been warm to the touch. But Ukitake wasn't at his most alert - he'd had a bad night; his face felt dry and hot still, and the fever had made a singing in his head that wasn't entirely gone. Or maybe that was his table-companion.
He looked up, trying to focus his eyes on the man sitting across from him, legs tucked comfortably under the /kotatsu/, humming the way a big, sleek cat would hum at breakfast, if cats could hum. The shining, uncombed spill of dark brown hair over his shoulders didn't quite hide that his yukata was tied rather carelessly, and -
"Eat your breakfast, 'Shiro-san, and stop staring. You're making me feel all shy and pink and virginal." Shunsui didn't look like he felt anything of the sort as he reached across the table to push the covered bowl a little closer to Ukitake, in fact, he might have been smirking. Just a bit. In a lazy kind of way...Ukitake went pink himself instead, coughed, and went pinker still when a bare foot slid itself against his under the table, brushing the sensitive spot just beneath his ankle-bone.
"That's better," Shunsui said, and picked up the newspaper he'd been reading. "Now /eat./"
Ukitake fumbled for his chopsticks and lifted the lid off the bowl. Instead of wet rice and a couple of pickled plums, the bowl held a small something, maybe half the size of Ukitake's fist, neatly - no, elegantly - wrapped in what looked like a page of the same newspaper Shunsui was scanning with such concentration.
"YOU did this," he said accusingly to the larger man, poking at the object with a chopstick.
"Did what? Oh. What makes you think I had anything to do with that? Go complain to the cooks if you don't like what you're served, princess."
Ukitake dropped his voice a little. "Shunsui..."
"As if anyone else here could wrap something in a piece of newspaper and make it look like a treasure. What is it?"
"A dumpling." The foot touched his again.
The newspaper rattled, a page was turned, and Shunsui scrubbed at his chin. "Why don't you open it, if you're so curious, Shiro-san."
The little package had been constructed to open like a flower, and Ukitake took a moment to admire it. Simple, perfect - typical. Shunsui only appeared haphazard; Ukitake had never seen him do anything clumsily - the long fingers were surprisingly deft and gentle, careful and -
"Open the damned thing, Ukitake. You're making me twitch."
Ukitake sighed and set about it. When the last petal had been unfolded, he studied the object that lay revealed. It was a piece of worked ivory, yellowing with age and handling, small enough to fit into the hollow of his palm with his fingers closed around it. He held it up, trying to determine what it was... a pair of smooth, conjoined spheres, a neatly rendered ripple-effect marking their intersection; they looked like - Ukitake's mouth dropped open a little - no, it was impossible. Netsuke came in a lot of interesting shapes, but -
"Snails!" announced Shunsui, abandoning any pretense of looking at the paper.
"Sna..snails?" Ukitake said, relieved, and, looking more closely, he saw the delicately-carved whorls of their shells, the miniature horns and eyestalks twined together, the two sinuous little bodies joined..."But they're -"
"Fucking." Shunsui nodded, extending a finger to stroke a spiralled shell lovingly. "Beautiful, aren't they? Been in my family for generations. Come over here, I'll attach it to your sash."
"Snails. Fucking. I can't wear..."
"You can. You will." Shunsui's smile spread and he leaned forward, one elbow on the table, the fingers of his other hand following the curve of Ukitake's lips with much the same gesture as he'd touched the carved ivory, moving slowly from lips to cheek, from cheek down along the curve of Ukitake's jaw. "Snails, Shiro-san, are wonderful things...they don't care anything about rules or roles...a little warm rain and another of their own kind is all they ask, maybe some moonlight..."
"And each snail has inside it everything another snail could ever want because no snail is one thing or another, and when they love their bodies go silver and tremble... come here, Jyuushiro."
Ukitake never knew if it was the hand, or the words, or a last trace of the delirium of fever, but he found himself standing beside the other shinigami, looking down into Shunsui's face through a pale mist that might have been his own hair in his eyes, or something else.
"Wear it for me, Shiro-san."
The clever fingers tied the little carving to the sash of his captain's coat, fastening it carefully, then, just as carefully, they began to unwrap the sash, sliding beneath the loosened garment, easing it away from Ukitake's body and finding smooth, heated skin. Ukitake's own fingers tangled themselves in the dark hair, pulling Shunsui closer, feeling lips and the soft-rough scuff of beard against the muscles of his stomach. It was perfect, just as Ukitake knew it would be.
Shunsui never did anything clumsily.