The first time Hisagi Shuuhei met Muguruma Kensei it had been in the aftermath of a fight. Maybe it was fate that their second meeting was also the end of a battle. To Shuuhei, it felt a little like a chance to start again.
"Muguruma-taichou… I mean…" And to put his foot in his mouth again, apparently. Shuuhei cleared his throat and settled on, "Muguruma-san."
Muguruma’s mouth quirked fleetingly, and he glanced down at his very civilian clothes. "Yeah, not a captain any more. Heard you were, though." He clapped a hand on Shuuhei’s shoulder. "Good work."
Shuuhei made a throw-away gesture. "Only acting."
Muguruma’s hand turned over, knuckles rapping Shuuhei’s shoulder. "Hey. None of that. Have some pride in yourself." His smile flashed again. "Not that I’m in a position to chew you out any more, I guess."
"That’s not true!" Shuuhei flushed as Muguruma’s brows rose, and he glanced down. "I remembered you," he said, quietly. "I’m here because I wanted to live up to what I remembered."
Muguruma’s gaze traveled over Shuuhei’s cropped sleeves, the leather bands around his right am and throat. Finally his fingers rose to brush over the 69 on Shuuhei’s cheekbone. "Yeah?" His voice was husky. "I’m glad. We didn’t think anyone in Soul Society remembered us well."
Shuuhei turned his head just a little into Muguruma’s hand, aware his ears were probably bright red. "Some of us did."
Muguruma glanced over to where Nanao was talking to Yadomaru, book clasped tight to her chest, eyes bright, and his smile lasted a little longer this time. "So I see." His hand cupped Shuuhei’s cheek for a breath, thumb stroking Shuuhei’s cheekbone. "Well, come on then. Tell me about it while we get this mess cleaned up."
Shuuhei noticed the stares of his division, as he walked next to the man he’d once thought would be his captain, and knew he was smiling too.