"Including tax, your total comes to ¥538."
Ukitake set some coins on the counter, thanked the clerk, and carried his purchase back to his desk. The heads of his old brushes were frayed from long use, the ends split and chewed absently during stressful bouts of paperwork and reassignments. They could probably have used replacing several months ago, but what with one thing and another, he just hadn't found the time.
There was something deeply satisfying about new brushes, something that urged him to clear out the dregs of tedious paperwork that had piled up as he continually set it aside to deal with later. The sun was low in the sky by the time he set aside the last of his divisional reports and dusted off the top of his desk. Then, he laid out a blank sheet of paper, made up fresh ink, and set his new brush to the page.
Shunsui would argue that so new and beautiful needed to be properly appreciated before being put to such banal tasks as paperwork. He would laugh as he urged Ukitake to paint a beautiful nude, knowing full well that he would only be chided for it. Then, more seriously, he would suggest a flower, something beautiful, yet delicate and fleeting. Shunsui's own desk was littered with such paintings, left on scraps of paper and the backs of old forms whenever his mind wandered or something caught his fancy.
Byakuya would argue that the first piece created with a tool should establish and reinforce its intended use. He kept his desk in strict order, brushes divided out by function and arranged in perfect rows. Never would a brush intended for reports be used for personal communications or vice versa. Even in his leisure, Byakuya believed in structure. Each stroke of his poetry sat crisply on the page, each line composed according to the strictest interpretation of the form.
Ukitake fell between the two extremes. He could not set aside his duties as fully as Shunsui could, nor could he forget his position as a captain, even for a short period. Unlike Byakuya, he did not have to worry about family elders judging his every move, nor did he feel any deep loyalty to the rules of poetic forms, not when he had witnessed their slow evolution over the centuries. No, to Ukitake it was words that gave structure to the ink, drawing forth meaning from what had been an empty pool. At the same time, it was ink that spilled forth into words and carried them along like water, here rushing away from the brush in hurried strokes, there meandering through lazy curves. The words he wrote had been shaped and reshaped over hundreds and thousands of years, and with his brush, he reshaped them yet again, guiding them into new arrangements as he filled the page with his own poetry.
mousapelli you're up!