Retsu stared up at the moon, lost in memories long since banished from her dreams. Once upon a time, she'd known a very
kind man. He'd been beautiful in every way, inside and out. They'd even been engaged for a while, but one day... One day,
he simply broke it off. Something about how he was sorry, but he didn't want to hurt her.
"Ret- no, Unohana taicho," a voice said behind her.
She turned, surprised, and smiled at her younger lover. "Sosuke, what are you doing here so-"
"I need to speak with you about something," he said, frowning ever so slightly.
Retsu nodded curiously. "Okay, let's go into my office, then," she suggested, her smile gentle as she reached out and clasped
his hands in her's.
"No, that... That won't be necessary at all." He shook his head and closed his eyes, face lowered. "I... I can't, Retsu.
I'm so very sorry to tell you like this, but..." His eyes rose to meet her own, and her breath caught in her throat, unable
to pass by as worry flickered in her gaze. "I don't want you to get hurt." He shook his head, looking confused, broken and
dissatisfied with himself. "No, no that's not right...," he muttered, his brow furrowing and lips twisting in displeasure.
"I don't... I don't want to hurt you. I'm so sorry. We can't go on, this is it." He squeezed her hands, almost desperately
and certainly regretfully, before dropping them, his gaze sweeping over her face as if he'd never see it again. "I'm breaking
off the engagement."
With that, he spun around, nearly seeming to be trying to escape, and she could only stare in shock at his retreating back.
At the time, she'd been so confused, so completely torn. All at once, she'd wanted to act rash for a change and charge
over to his quarters in the fifth, demand to know what he was talking about, that he just explain himself with more than 'I
don't want to hurt you', but at the same time she'd wanted to accept his decision, like she did all other things, and cry
by herself once she could go off alone.
She ended up running across the fifth seat of the third division on her way to do the latter, then. Somehow, the girl was
able to learn everything about the situation, without so much as asking.
After hastily excusing herself from the division, Retsu rushed through the nearly empty streets, her tears of dismay and
pain barely held back by decades of practice doing so. However, despite this, she was distracted, thoughts whirling through
her mind - does he hate me? Sosuke... Did I do something wrong, Sosuke? Is there something you found out about me that
you don't want any part of? What could have made him run away? - and she never saw the small girl round the corner in
front of her, causing her to quite literally trip over the poor thing.
"Go-gomen, Unohana taicho!" the girl gasped, naturally assuming it was her fault.
"No, no... It's fine. It was my fault, I... I wasn't paying attention when I should have been, do forgive me."
The girl gaped at her. "Oh, no! It wasn't your fault, Unohana taicho!" she gasped. "It was mine! I-"
Retsu smiled at the girl, despite her sadness over Sosuke. "Please, tell me your name."
"Oh, I'm Kotetsu Isane, Unohana taicho," she said politely, smiling back shyly.
The older woman sighed, closing her eyes and helping the girl to her feet. "I really do apologize. It's just... I've had
a bit of a bad night," she admitted, looking down at the shorter girl. Isane stared up at her, open curiosity on her face.
That, coupled with obvious sympathy, proved to be her undoing, and before she knew it, Retsu found herself telling the girl
all about her heartbreak, from their first meeting when he'd become a vice captain, to earlier that night, when he'd broken
off their engagement.
Isane listened quietly, a silent, understanding presence at Retsu's side, and then, much to the captain's surprise, she
cried for her, just as soon as her tale was told.
Unohana smiled. "Isane," she murmured, sensing the other woman's reiatsu.
"T-taicho?" the Kotetsu fukutaicho inquired, coming out from where she'd ducked to after seeing her captain sitting there,
seemingly watching the stars. The look in her eyes had been so achingly familiar that Isane hadn't wanted to disturb her,
pushing away her own silly phobia for another time.
"Was it that dream again?" Retsu asked, patting the porch beside her.
Ashamed, Isane nodded. "H-hai, taicho," she admitted, looking down and fiddling with her fingers, remaining where she was.
She was already feeling guilty for interrupting her captain's musings, she didn't want to make any more of a nuisance of herself.
Hanataro, who'd dozed off in the corner after finishing his duties, stirred at their talking, mumbling something undiscernable.
Retsu smiled and beckoned them both to her side. "Sit with me?" she asked, shooting Isane a quizzical look.
"H-hai, taicho," they chorused, and took a seat on either side of her, though Hanataro wasn't quite sure what was going
Isane smiled slightly at her captain, unable to keep any sort of negative emotion while around the gentle woman. At least
not for long. "Are you doing well, taicho?" she asked, beaming up at the older woman. She noticed that, while she was taller
than her captain, she appeared shorter while they were seated. It was an oddly idle thought for Isane, but she pushed it aside
Retsu nodded, chuckling slightly. "Of course. I was just... musing," she answered, a note in her voice almost whistful.
Isane's eyes widened, though poor Hanataro looked confused. "About him?" the vice captain asked, her brow knitting worriedly.
"About who?" Hanataro added right afterward.
Letting out a faint sigh, Unohana gazed quietly up at the moon for a moment, debating on whether she should say anything.
She didn't want to worry her fukutaicho any more than necessary, after all. "Hanataro," she murmured, choosing the question
that would have an answer suited for both queries. "I want to tell you a story about a man." She smiled fondly, tilting her
face back down as her eyes slid shut. "I can still remember the way he used to smile..."