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Title: Practicing Marriage
Pairing: Shunsui/Nanao
Genre: Romance/Drama
Rating: T
Status: Multi-Chapter, Ongoing
Contains: Spoilers through Bleach manga chapter 515.
Summary: When Nanao's family asks her to consider an arranged marriage, Captain Kyōraku decides to interfere.


Back to Chapter 3.

Chapter 1.

Nanao sat at her desk in the shared Captain's and Vice Captain's office in the Eighth. The sounds of late morning drifted in through the closed door. She stared at the pile of papers in front of her. Everything was ordinary—the sounds, the sights, the work—entirely, completely ordinary.

That was the problem.

In the garden yesterday with Captain Kyōraku, everything had seemed so right, like the pieces of a puzzle fitting together. But after they'd left the garden to finish the meeting in the house, those moments in the garden had begun to slip from Nanao's grasp into unreality.

When she'd finished at the Ise estate and returned to her quarters, she'd hesitated for a few moments over whether she should go to Captain Kyōraku's house. He'd asked her to come when they were still in the garden. She couldn't actually bring herself to pack her things and go. The Nanao Ise that color-coordinated her closet and organized all items by the size and use, the Nanao Ise whose books were all arranged by genre and then alphabetical order by author and title, she could not be the same person who had received a proposal of marriage, shared several tender kisses, and agreed to a spontaneous plan to live with her Captain.

Practicing marriage? The very idea was ridiculous. As if the stability and compatibility of good marriage partners could be determined with a few days of sleeping over. But she had agreed to it. That was his fault, for being so handsome and confident and magnetic. He'd asked, with his intense eyes and voice, and it'd pulled at something in the heart of her until her yes had splashed out of her overflowing emotions.

But that magic moment seemed so distant and unreal when she stood in her neat quarters that smelled of wood polish and books. What if she'd read too much into it? What if he hadn't actually expected her to come to his home with an overnight bag?

Just imagining the surprised look he'd give her was enough to push her into her own bed. She lay in the dark for hours, feeling for his reiatsu across Seireitei but retreating before he might notice her reaching for him. When she finally slept she dreamed of dancing with him in a decrepit garden under a full moon. She woke less rested than before she'd slept.

She did not want to see him; she desperately wanted to see him. In the ordinary surroundings of her life and work she couldn't imagine that the moment in the garden had been real. Perhaps magic was something he wore on his shoulders with his pink haori.

She needed some sleep.

There were greetings and giggles in the hall. Captain Kyōraku had arrived. Nanao stood, her hands pressed to her desk, wondering whether she could make it out the sliding door to the porch before he came in or whether she should go to meet him as a woman might greet a man she was considering marrying.

The door opened before she'd made a decision, her feet turned to the porch but her head to the office door. Captain Kyōraku stood in the doorway looking entirely ordinary in his uniform, and not like the high-born noble who'd impressed the matchmaker yesterday. The door shut with a click. "Good morning, lovely Nanao-chan," he said with a wide smile.

She dropped back into her chair, staring at her paperwork. "Good morning."

His footsteps approached her desk. She didn't look up, even when he stood beside her chair, his large hand resting near hers on the desk. "You look delicious this morning," he murmured near her ear, his hand tipping her chin up. He was going to kiss her; his intent was clear. She swiveled her head a quarter-turn toward him, until his breath warmed her cheek. He made a pleased sound, much like the one he'd made in the garden when she'd returned his kiss. But that moment had been extraordinary, and this was an ordinary day.

Her fan pressed to his mouth an instant before his lips reached hers. "Delicious is not an appropriate way to describe my appearance. I am quite aware that I do not look my best today."

He shifted back, pouting his lips to work out the sting. "You do look a little tired, but that doesn't mean you can't also look delicious. And you do look delicious to me, Nanao-chan. But perhaps you don't find me as delicious as I find you?"

"Delicious is not a word I would ever use in a description of you." She'd found him delicious to her mouth in the garden, but would never say something like that to him. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips, betraying her words.

"No? That's too bad. I would really like to be delicious for you, Nanao-chan." There was a warm thread in his voice.

"That's ridiculous," she said without looking at him. Her hands wrapped around the fan tightly.

He leaned his hip against her desk, his thigh brushing her arm. "I missed you last night."

She finally met his gaze. "It was late when I returned from the estate."

"I was still awake."

So he had reached for her reiatsu the same way that she had reached for his last night. "I didn't want to disturb you." She dropped her eyes to her desk.

"I wanted you to come," he said, and his low, burning tone sent shivers through her.

"Everything was so ordinary." Confusing, she thought, but when she glanced at him he nodded.

"You couldn't picture us together outside of the pattern of our usual lives. I understand. That's why we decided to practice first, remember?"

"Practicing marriage? After further reflection, I don't believe that's a good idea."

He grinned. "It's a great idea, Nanao-chan. Listen, let's try it just for this morning and see what you think. If you don't believe it's worth doing, then we'll stop, and you can turn back to the men in your file."

She leaned back in her chair, raising an eyebrow. "You're very confident about this."

"Yes, I am. I thought of the perfect way to illustrate a benefit you'll enjoy as my wife."

"And what benefit is that?"

He pushed off the desk, leaning over her in her chair. "It's something you've always wanted me to do. You've dreamed about me doing it for you. You've spent many hours fantasizing about me doing it." His voice was dark silk and a flush lit her cheeks.

"What—what are you talking about?" she asked, trying for scoffing but ending up whispering. She had so many fantasies about him, but he couldn't know that. Even if he did, he shouldn't know any of the specifics. She'd never discussed her fantasies with anyone.

The corners of his mouth turned up and she swallowed. "Work." He pulled away from her chair, indicating his desk with a grand gesture.

"What?" She blinked.

"I'm going to work, lovely Nanao-chan, so that you can understand the career benefits you'll have because of our marriage." His eyes were filled with mischief—he knew what she'd thought about fantasies, and he'd savored the tease.

She sat up. "You're going to work? Captain?"

"Yes. You do have some work for me, don't you?"

"Of course, I have work for you. There's some on your desk already. I'll bring more work over, if you're serious," she said, standing and rifling through the papers on her desk.

"Thank you, Nanao-chan."

He was sitting in his chair when she brought over the extra work. She eyed him suspiciously. "You're really going to do this work without any coercion?"

"I'm wounded, Nanao-chan. No coercion is required. But I could use your help. Many of these forms are very long, and you've read them already, so—" He waved at the high stack of papers, looking very innocent.

"You'd like me to summarize them for you?" She'd done this for him in the past, many times, usually while he reclined on the roof or in the park, lazily stamping papers on her lapdesk without looking at them.

"That would be wonderful, Nanao-chan. Please, come and sit with me."

"I'll get a chair." She turned away.

"You don't need a chair."

She spun to face him, her eyes narrowed. "What are you suggesting?"

"Come and sit with me, Nanao-chan. I'll be your chair." He motioned at his lap, grinning broadly.

"You want me to sit in your lap? The appeal for you is obvious, but how exactly is this supposed to be a benefit of marriage for me?" She crossed her arms, eyeing him critically.

"Think about it, Nanao-chan. With this one small incentive, you won't have to coerce me into doing work anymore, I'll be eager to begin. If you sit with me for an hour a day, think of all the time you'll save. You'll be able to organize the division more easily, take long lunches, and spend more fun time with me."

"That's ridiculous. If you want to impress me with the benefits of marriage, you should do your work without any incentive."

He rubbed his chin. "I could do that, but it would be a bit unfair to you."

She raised an eyebrow. "Unfair to me? That makes no sense. Why don't you go to your desk and do your work voluntarily, and I'm sure I'll somehow tolerate any unfairness."

"It would be unfair to you because then you might think that I would always do my work that way, without incentives." He leaned over the arm of his chair, his eyes mischievous and apologetic at once. "But everything else is so much more interesting than the paperwork on my desk. Especially you, my cute Nanao-chan."

"So your argument is that you are too distracted by me to complete your work? Setting aside how wildly inappropriate it is for me to sit in your lap, it seems that nothing could be worse for your work than that."

He shook his head, grinning. "You've got it backwards, Nanao-chan. Nothing could be better for my work than sitting with lovely Nanao-chan on my lap. Think of how attentive I'll be to all of the important issues you raise and all of the work in front of me when I'm guided through it by your sweet voice and your gentle touch."

"My gentle touch?" She tapped her fan lightly against her palm, as if to remind him of how stinging her 'gentle touch' could be. But there was a certain temptation to his offer. Anything that made her Captain easier to manage was worth considering. "It's still wildly inappropriate."

"What could be inappropriate between us if we were married? An entire world of leverage will open up for you to use as you please. I'll be putty in your hands, Nanao-chan." He sat back, apparently trying to look like vulnerable putty, and failing completely. She shook her head at him.

Still, even if he was not exactly putty in her hands, he might be more cooperative about work. He was correct that new kinds of leverage would be available to her if they were married. Inappropriateness aside, sitting on his lap did present some positives over chasing him around Seireitei for hours and eventually tying him to his chair in exasperation. She had some concerns for her dignity, but maybe they could try it just one time during the marriage practice and see how it went. "If we do this, there would have to be rules."

A glint of triumph shone in his eyes. "Of course, Nanao-chan. What rules would you like?"

"You will not touch me."

"That's impossible, if you're on my lap."

"This is for work, so you will not touch me anywhere that would be distracting." They probably had different definitions of distracting, but it was easiest to work these details out with him with a strong fan or a heavy book, when she could really make her opinions felt. Besides, he was trying to impress her right now, wasn't he? He'd probably be on his best behavior.

"I'll do my best not to distract you, Nanao-chan."

Her eyes narrowed. "You will work while I am sitting with you. If you aren't working, then you don't need any incentives."

He nodded.

"And you'll keep this completely private. If I hear one whisper of this that originated with you, I will be most displeased. Promotion evaluations, early morning sword drills, the sudden disappearance of the division's liquor—I could go on."

"Nanao-chan's wrath is terrible," he said solemnly, but smiled.

She sighed and walked to the door, latching it locked. When she returned to his desk he opened his arms wide in welcome. She hesitated.

"What happens between us is private, Nanao-chan, now and when we're married. I'll protect your pride."

He meant it; that was clear. She nodded crisply. It might turn out to be a disaster, but she was committed to it now. "As of now, we are practicing at being married, only for the morning." She studied his lap. "How exactly will we do this?"

"You'll sit in my lap, and we'll do work."

"Yes, but where do I put my legs? To the side? Between yours?" Her brow creased.

"Wherever is most comfortable for you."

That was an unsatisfactory answer, but she'd apparently need to work out the logistics on her own. She climbed neatly into his lap, sitting on him as if he were a chair, her legs pressed together and hanging over his legs. Her back was stiff, not touching his chest, and she wasn't comfortable at all.

He grasped her waist with one hand, moving the chair forward until she could have rested her elbows on the desk, her back pressed to his chest. "We both have to be able to see the papers," he murmured in her ear.

She made a disgruntled sound. His thighs were a firm, warm seat and his breath made his chest rise and fall against her back in a steady rhythm. She pointedly tugged his hand off of her waist and he surrendered easily, dropping his hand on the desk. But it was no surprise that he gave her waist up easily; he was already touching most of her. She scowled while preparing ink and his stamp. "Can we begin?"

"Whenever you're ready, Nanao-chan," he said, his tone very agreeable.

She wiggled a little and he drew in a sharp breath. She froze.

"It's fine, Nanao-chan."

She wasn't sure that it was, but it was his fault for asking for this incentive. This was probably a bad idea, but she was already on his lap, so she would power through the awkwardness with a strong focus on work. She could write it off later as a poor choice due to lack of sleep and never do it again. "We'll start with the bonus money requests. One of the Sixteenth Seats has cleansed Black Jowl, a Hollow with a bonus of five thousand."

"That much? How impressive." He stamped the form in the designated area.

They progressed from bonus money to leave requests, Nanao relaxing gradually. Her legs shifted to straddle his, her feet tucked around his calves as she would have tucked them around chair legs, her back resting easily against his chest. "Twentieth Seat Sato would like leave for the birth of his child. He's asked for four weeks." She tapped the form.

"Didn't his wife have a baby two years ago?" Captain Kyōraku glanced at the paper.

"Yes. Multiple children are so rarely this close together." Pregnancy in general was rare in Seireitei, and pregnancies close together were even less likely.

"We should give him eight weeks, then. I think his wife would appreciate the extra time."

Nanao crossed out four and added an eight to the page. "His wife might appreciate it, but I'm not sure Sato-san will. I've caught him napping at his desk many times lately."

Captain Kyōraku chuckled, stamping the form. "I sympathize with him, but with his wife more."

Nanao nodded, making a pleased sound.

It took close to two hours to finish—there had been a substantial backlog of items waiting for his approval—but Nanao tapped the last of the sighed papers into a neat stack, then stretched, rubbing at the back of her neck.

"Are you sore?" he asked, his hands rising to her shoulders.

"No, just a bit stiff." She moved her hands to her lap, becoming aware of their position again. After a little while, it had seemed ordinary to be doing paperwork with him in the office, even on his lap.

His hands began to massage her neck, pushing any thoughts about jumping away from him out of her mind. He was good at this, his hands finding and easing all of the places she'd held the tension of the last few weeks. Eventually he moved to her shoulders, working out knots.

She gasped as he pressed a particularly tight spot and he paused. "Do you want me to stop, Nanao-chan?"

"No. I think I might add this to the list of things that I require in a husband." She closed her eyes, leaning against the desk as he massaged her back.

"You have a list?" He was quietly amused.

"I always have a list. It's just that the list only had one item on it before. Money for the Ise estate. Now this is also on my list." She sighed in pleasure.

"I can do better than this for you, Nanao-chan."

"Can you?"

"With your naked skin, a bed, and some oil, you'll swear that I can do magic." There was a sensual undertone to his voice that made her back arch under his touch.

"I already think that about you," she said, deeply relaxed.

"You think that I can do magic, Nanao-chan?" He sounded bemused.

"Yes. Isn't that what you did in the garden when you made the ridiculous idea of practicing at marriage seem reasonable and desirable?" Her lips turned up at the memory.

"If you find my powers of persuasion magical, who am I to argue? How does this feel, Nanao-chan?" His long fingers worked out the kinks in her lower back.

"Wonderful. Don't stop."

"I'll massage your back as often as you want me to if we're married. Do you think any of the men in the matchmaker's file will do the same?"

"It's doubtful that those men would be interested enough in me to take the time away from the boar stables. You can have the point." She felt very generous, since all of her muscles had relaxed into jelly.

"Thank you, Nanao-chan. And a man who wouldn't be interested in you over boars is a fool." He finished with her back, leaning forward to kiss her hair. She melted back against him, her arms resting on his arms, which rested on the arms of the chair.

Nanao felt both the satisfaction of someone who had just completed several days' worth of overdue paperwork and the relaxation of someone who had just been thoroughly massaged. It was a good combination, much better than the annoyance and stomach-churning worry she'd felt for weeks.

It might be worth exploring the idea of marriage to her Captain more deeply. Maybe he was magic in more ways than she thought already. "I would like to continue with the marriage practice, if you are open to the idea."

"I'd love to practice marriage with you, Nanao-chan." His lips brushed her ear. "We could be so good together," he whispered against her hair. His tongue dipped out to taste the tender skin of her neck.

She shivered, slipping lightly off of his lap. "Let's not run ahead too quickly."

"My Nanao-chan is shy, perhaps?" He ran his tongue over his lips, still relaxed back in the chair. Her eyes followed the movement closely.

"I have a lunch meeting with the SWA in ten minutes. I almost forgot." She crossed to her desk, picking up a fat book.

"I see. Nanao-chan?" he called as she unlatched the door.

"Yes, Captain?" She stood in profile to him, her pink cheeks impossible to hide.

"Next time, I'll make you forget your meeting completely." He smiled, wicked and slow.

She made a scoffing noise, although she had no doubt he could make her forget a meeting. "I'll be out most of the afternoon." She fled from the office, his low laughter following her.

On to Chapter 5.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
akai_miko
Dec. 22nd, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
Mail about update of your fic = one flailing ShunNao fan XDD

...Sitting on his lap, hmm?
I wonder when other people will realize/someone spills and stuff... Or maybe Nanao tells Rangiku, hm?

"Next time, I'll make you forget your meeting completely." He smiled, wicked and slow. hehehehe >3
r_dahlia
Dec. 25th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
I know, I wasn't sure if it was really all right for Nanao to do this, but I just decided to go for it anyway. XD

People will find out soon, I think. ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )