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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, tipsy Nanao, mild sensual content.
Summary: When Nanao's family asks her to consider an arranged marriage, Captain Kyōraku decides to interfere.



Back to Chapter 4.

Chapter 1.



"So Isane-san will conduct the research for our Living World amusement park trip. That should conclude all of our new business." Nanao flipped over the last paper on the podium.

"Wait, wait! There's one important piece of new business that we didn't touch on yet. Your initial match meetings were this weekend. How did they go, Nanao-san? We've all been wondering," Hinamori said, her hand raised for attention.

"I was wondering, too." Rangiku flipped her hair.

"It's not really SWA official business," Nanao said.

"Please proceed, Nanao-san." Unohana nodded.

Nanao couldn't turn her down. "I did have my initial match meetings, yes." Nanao hesitated. Perhaps it would be good to see what sort of reaction her actions would get from her friends at the Shinigami Women's Association. It would help her prepare for the reactions of other people in Seireitei. She left the podium and took her seat at the table.

"And how did it go?" Hinamori asked eagerly.

"The first two meetings were not particularly good. The young men did not share many common interests with me. We didn't connect very well."

"Oh, that's too bad." Hinamori deflated a little.

"But there were three meetings, weren't there? What happened with the third guy?" Rangiku's eyes were sharp.

"I'm not sure that everyone is really interested in hearing about my match meetings," Nanao stalled.

"I'm interested!" Kiyone waved from her seat.

"This data on courtship rituals is fascinating. I would like to collect more." Nemu was taking down notes on a tablet computer.

"We're all your friends, Nanao-san," Hinamori said, smiling.

Nanao nodded. "The third match meeting was with Captain Kyōraku."

"He followed you to your home for a meeting? That's so romantic," Hinamori gushed.

"A meeting about marriage with your Captain? Wow." Kiyone's hands pressed together; her mind seemed to have jumped to another Captain.

"It's not romantic, it's controlling and possessive," Soi Fon said, her eyes narrow.

"Really, it could go either way." Rangiku shrugged.

"Is there more cake?" Yachiru asked.

Nanao raised her hand for order over the chattering. She passed the cake plate down to Yachiru, who dug into the cake with both hands.

"What is important is how Nanao-san felt about Captain Kyōraku's actions. Was it romantic, or controlling and possessive, in your view?" Captain Unohana asked with her face serene.

Nanao pushed her glasses up. "His actions were not particularly controlling. There was some possessiveness, but not to an extent that disturbed me. I have little interest in romance, however."

"Hmm. That doesn't mean it wasn't romantic, though." Rangiku raised an eyebrow.

"Did he kiss you?" Kiyone blurted out, her cheeks red.

"Was there sexual contact? I've read that is a common element in courtship." Nemu's hand hovered over her tablet expectantly.

"That's private," Nanao said, fighting down a blush.

"So he did kiss you." Rangiku grinned.

."That's definitely romantic," Hinamori said.

"So romantic." Kiyone sighed.

"It could have been unwanted attention." Soi Fon tilted her head.

The buzzing conversation stopped as everyone stared at Nanao. She swallowed. "The attention was acceptable to me."

Hinamori and Kiyone both giggled. Rangiku chuckled and Nemu wrote rapidly.

Yachiru licked the empty cake plate. "Do we have any candy?"

Nanao pulled a small bag of sweets out of her sleeve and tossed it at Yachiru. These meetings always went more smoothly if Yachiru was busy eating, so Nanao brought extra supplies, just in case.

"Are you going to marry Captain Kyōraku, then?" Isane asked.

"I didn't say that." Nanao fidgeted in her seat.

"But you are considering him as a possible husband, aren't you?" Hinamori rested her chin on her hands.

"I think it could be a good match. You should consider him, Nanao-san." Unohana smiled placidly.

"I am considering marriage to him," Nanao said reluctantly.

Several members burst into cheers and chatter.

"If that is all, this meeting is adjourned." Nanao banged the gavel on the table.

Captain Unohana nodded to Nanao as she swept out of the room, Isane following.

"If you ever need him scared into line, the Second Division can help you with that." Soi Fon nodded sharply.

"Thank you," Nanao said, although that was an offer she'd never accept.

"The Twelfth Division has extensive experience in reprogramming, Nanao-san. I can offer you assistance if you would like to rewrite Captain Kyōraku's neural pathways." Nemu cradled her computer as she waited near the door.

"Thank you for your generosity, Nemu-san, but I prefer to keep Captain Kyōraku as he is currently." Her friends were lovely people, but a bit frightening sometimes.

Nemu nodded and left.

"Thanks for the candy!" Yachiru dived out of the window.

The other members left slowly, wishing Nanao luck, until only Rangiku and Nanao sat at the large table.

"Maybe it wasn't a good idea to say anything." Nanao tucked the papers into a file.

"What, because of the gossip? Don't let yourself be put off by something like that." Rangiku stood, stretching.

"People will say that I married him for his money. If I marry him," Nanao said, tacking on the last as an afterthought.

"People would say that about any marriage to come out of these meetings. Gossips will put together the condition of your family's fortunes and your sudden marriage pretty quickly. It doesn't matter if it's your Captain or some stranger."

"But it's not fair for people to say that about Captain Kyōraku. He's not a fool and they shouldn't talk about him as if he's been tricked." Nano felt a surprising amount of distress at the thought.

"They'll say that you married him for money and that he married you to get his lecherous hands on a desirable young girl who wouldn't sleep with him otherwise. But why does it bother you so much, Nanao? No one who knows either of you well will listen to any of it."

Nanao scowled, her hands crossed over her chest, holding her biceps. "But the gossip will make our relationship seem sordid and tainted. It's not like that."

"Oh, Nanao." Rangiku walked to Nanao's chair, bending and draping an arm over her shoulders. "Sometimes people are awful. But nothing anyone says can change your relationship with him unless you allow it. Just go on being sweet and romantic without worrying about what people will think."

"I am not particularly sweet or romantic."

"You can't fool me. I've seen you on Valentine's Day and White Day." Rangiku squeezed Nanao's shoulders affectionately and then straightened.

"Don't tell anyone about that." Nanao glanced around, but they were still alone.

Rangiku laughed. "That blush looks good on you; it adds some nice pink to your cheeks."

"Oh, be quiet." Nanao gave her a baleful look before smiling. "There was something I wanted to speak to you about privately, though."

Rangiku swooped into a chair beside Nanao, her expression avid. "I'm listening."

Nanao hesitated, unsure of how to approach the issue. "I think I may have made a questionable decision earlier."

"What's that?"

"I sat on Captain Kyōraku's lap this morning," she said in a rush, and then flinched.

"How did that go?"

"We completed a week's worth of work. It was very productive."

Rangiku motioned her on with a hand wave. "And?"

"He rubbed my back. It was delightful."

"Now I'm jealous. He does seem the type to give good massages. I don't think you're making questionable decisions if you were pleased by the outcome. Something like considering marriage to someone can drastically change what is a good or bad decision, can't it?"

"I suppose so."

Rangiku sighed. "Somehow I don't think my Captain would rub my back if I sat on his lap. I think he'd be very annoyed, actually."

"I wanted to ask you—" Nanao stopped.

"What do you want to ask me?" Rangiku leaned forward.

"I want to discuss certain aspects of marriage."

"But I've never been married," Rangiku said.

"I know, but I believe you have expertise in certain areas of relationships that could be very helpful to me."

"Let's go back to my quarters. This isn't a great place for a conversation like that."

"It's the middle of the afternoon, we both have work," Nanao protested.

"This is a very important conversation, Nanao. Much more important than a few hours of work we can do later. And I have plum wine in my quarters."

"It's the middle of the afternoon," Nanao griped, but followed after Rangiku anyway.


Shunsui lounged on the sofa, tipping back his hat for a glance at the clock. Nanao had been gone longer than he'd expected, but the SWA could be an unpredictable group.

As if summoned by his thoughts, Nanao entered the office by the porch slider. She walked over to the seating area and leaned against the arm of a fat chair at a right angle to the sofa, swaying slightly. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes wandering the room without focus. Had there been a drinking party at the SWA today?

"How was your meeting, lovely Nanao-chan? It ran later than I'd imagined."

She shook her finger at him. "No, the meeting was an ordinary length. After that, Rangiku-san and I talked for a while."

"I see. Did you and Rangiku-chan talk over sake at a restaurant?"

She huffed. "No. We spoke over plum wine, in her quarters."

"What did you talk about?"

She shook her head, her balance questionable. "Not telling you. It was women's business. I had three glasses of plum wine, but it was a necessary fortification."

He smiled. "I'm sure that it was. Why don't you come and sit with me?" Three glasses of plum wine in the afternoon—Nanao was a lightweight when it came to drinking, but the topic she'd needed fortification to discuss was most likely marriage-related.

She shook her head. "I've been making questionable decisions about you."

"Do you feel badly about anything that we've done? I only want you to be happy, Nanao-chan."

"I don't feel badly. I think that I probably should, but actually, I was pleased with the result of our practice this morning." She tapped her finger against her lips. "Should I feel badly?"

"No, not at all, sweetheart. If you're considering a man for marriage, you should feel good about the things you do with him, shouldn't you?" he asked.

She frowned. "I suppose. But I've spent a lot of time denying you, so it's odd to allow you anything."

"When you say you've been denying me, doesn't that really mean you've been denying us? Why shouldn't you allow yourself what we both want? If you want to touch me, to kiss me, you should allow yourself to do those things. Aren't we practicing marriage, Nanao-chan?" He smiled at her.

"You make it sound so simple." Her forehead was creased.

"It can be that simple. Why don't you come and sit with me, Nanao-chan?"

Nanao approached him, dropping herself on the sofa with her legs across his lap and her head against the sofa. She wasn't quite sitting in his lap, but it was close enough. He wrapped an arm around her back.

"What did Rangiku-chan say about you marrying me?"

One of her hands clutched his shoulder. She rubbed her cheek against the uniform over his chest, which he liked quite a lot. Nanao was never so openly affectionate. "She said that you have lecherous hands."

He winced. Even if Rangiku wouldn't give him a ringing endorsement, he'd hoped for something a bit more positive from his friend and sometimes drinking buddy. "Did she say anything else?"

"She said that I was sweet. Do you think I'm sweet?" She drew her brows together.

"Yes, very much so, Nanao-chan."

She huffed. "I'm not sweet." Her hand clutched his haoris for purchase as she tried to rise on her knees. He grasped her knees, parting them over his legs after she'd nearly hit him with one in his groin. She straddled him on her knees, looking pleased by her new height. Her fingers flicked the hat off of his head. She was still slightly unsteady on the thick cushions of the sofa, so he held her waist with his hands.

"You are sweet, lovely Nanao-chan." Her face was close to his, her tongue darting out to wet her lips. He watched every stroke of her tongue, fascinated.

She shook her head at him, but seemed to lose interest in the argument quickly. "You smell good," she said, pressing her face into his neck. She leaned into him and his arms came to her back in an embrace.

"Do you think so?" he asked softly.

"Mmm. Like grass and trees and soap." Her tongue licked a wavy path down his neck. "You taste good."

He swallowed. She was too potent by far. "Nanao-chan."

Her tongue explored the joint of his neck and shoulder. He held himself still as an act of will. He wanted her to be interested in him this way, wanted her to feel free to do what she liked with him. But he didn't want her to regret anything. "Nanao-chan, do you want to rest for a while?"

Her teeth bit lightly in the area she'd covered so carefully with her tongue. His hand shifted down to her butt and squeezed once in reaction. She was firm and lush under his hand, but he hadn't asked and she'd been drinking. He brought the offending hand back to her spine immediately. "Sorry, Nanao-chan," he said, but she only cuddled in more closely to him.

"Rangiku-san thought I might like to bite you." Nanao's hand brushed his haoris and uniform off of his right shoulder, exposing more of his skin. She licked a new spot on his skin and then bit him there, leaving little red imprints of her teeth. "Is it all right if I do this?" she asked, so belated that he would have laughed if he wasn't so aroused by her currently.

"Yes. It's fine for you to do this. I want you to feel comfortable doing all of the things that you like in bed with me." He thought he wanted her praise or another point over the men in the file, but she bit him again and that was more than enough. The sensation of her mouth on his skin went straight to his groin. He took a shallow breath.

"Rangiku-san was right. I do like biting you." She ran her tongue over the line of marks she'd made on him, from neck to shoulder. "Does this mean I have lecherous teeth?"

She asked the question in such a sincere tone that he did laugh. "We're a matched pair, Nanao-chan, lecherous hands and teeth."

"A matched pair," she said, a little dreamy. She pulled back from his shoulder to look at him.

"Why don't you rest for a while? This sofa is very comfortable for naps, I promise."

"I'm not drunk," she protested, but sighed when he took off her glasses. "It was a very strong plum wine, but a necessary fortification."

"I'm not concerned that you had a few drinks with a friend in the afternoon, sweetheart. You've been under a lot of stress lately. Relaxing is good for you." He shifted her to a horizontal position on the sofa, moving to sit at her side and take the hairclip out of her hair.

"It might have been a questionable decision. I'm making a lot of those lately. It's your fault." She sounded annoyed.

He smiled. "It might be my fault. But if you only make decisions that you don't question, then you're only doing safe and familiar things. Any time that you step away from that known path, you might question your decisions, but that doesn't mean that you have to regret them. I don't want you to regret anything you do with me, Nanao-chan."

"It's difficult." Her lips pressed together. "But I'll try."

"Thank you."

"I told the SWA that I am considering marriage to you." She yawned, covering her mouth with the back of her hand.

"Did you? That's all right, Nanao-chan, I'm fine with our relationship being public." He'd prefer it, actually, and having Nanao announce their relationship of her own volition removed a number of potentially thorny issues.

"People are going to say that I am marrying you for your money." She looked worried now, and he hated to see that.

"I thought you were going to marry me for my body, Nanao-chan." He endeavored to look hurt and she shook her head at him.

"Your body is a factor," she admitted.

He grinned and kissed the corner of her mouth. "Will you give me the point over the men in the matchmaker's file?"

She surprised him, her hand brushing over his jaw. "You can have the point."

"Thank you." He smoothed her hair back. "Rest for a while, precious Nanao-chan."

Her eyes closed, her breathing deep and even. He watched her for a few minutes before moving to the fat chair nearby, picking up a book of poems. His fingers ran along the line of teeth prints she'd bit into his shoulder. He was pretty sure that she'd given him some red marks on his neck as well. He opened the book in his lap, but his focus was not on the purple prose in the page. His eyes returned continually to her slender figure on the sofa.

"Nanao-chan," he murmured.

Nanao woke slowly, feeling disoriented. The light coming into the room was the light of late afternoon and it was coming in from the wrong direction to be from the window in her bedroom. She sat up abruptly when she realized she was not in her bedroom, but in the office, and she was not alone.

Captain Kyōraku watched her from a chair, looking a bit fuzzy around the edges. She reached for her glasses on the table in front of her and put them on. Her fingers combed through her hair before she snatched the hairclip off of the table and secured her hair up.

"Did you have a good nap? The water is fresh, I thought you might be thirsty." He drew leisurely characters on a stack of papers resting on the arm of the chair.

There was a pitcher of water and a glass on the table, and she poured herself a drink. She was thirsty. "Are you working?"

"I'm writing the next chapter of my novel for the Seireitei Bulletin." He grasped the papers with a flourish. "What do you think of this? 'He explored her wondrous garden, trailing over the peaks and valleys of her endless delights, both of them wrapped in a glowing filament of deepest rapture.'"

She drank some water, raising her eyebrow at him. "In the last chapter, actually in the last three chapters, I thought they were going to bed with each other. But they've gone for a walk instead?"

He grinned at her. "I am so delighted to count you among my loyal readers, Nanao-chan."

"You're my Captain. I consider it an aspect of my responsibilities to the division." She finished her glass of water.

"That's cold, Nanao-chan! I'm wounded. And they haven't gone for a walk in this chapter; they are making sweetest love under the stars."

"That wasn't clear at all." She stood, stretching her arms over her head.

"Garden is a euphemism for those exquisite parts of a woman that I—"

She cut him off. "Obviously."

He leaned forward, setting his papers and brush on the table. "Did it inspire an atmosphere of deepest romance by cocooning you in luscious words?"

She rolled her head on her neck. The sofa was not a good spot for naps, regardless of what her Captain said. "Not particularly, but I am not generally inclined to an atmosphere of romance," she said. Nanao liked things to be as direct and clear as possible, and romance was usually prevaricating and dancing and flirting around the point.

"Aren't you? I think you've been very inclined to romance lately." He rubbed his neck and he eyes were drawn to the line of red marks disappearing under his clothes.

A wave of embarrassment washed over her, sliding swiftly into mortification. "I'm so sorry about what I did earlier. I molested you—"

He interrupted immediately. "You didn't molest me, Nanao-chan. I liked what you did."

She shook her head, refusing the escape he'd offered her. "I did that without your consent, and the marks—" She hurried over to him, pulling back his uniform to study the full impact of what she'd done. A wavering line of marks where she'd sucked and bit at him ran over his skin.

"That's the second time you've taken my clothes off today. We're getting closer, Nanao-chan." He sounded pleased, but that only increased her agitation.

"I'm sorry. I should have asked. It won't happen again." She withdrew her hand.

"Oh? Don't say that. I really enjoyed it." He clasped her hand lightly and pressed it onto his bare shoulder.

She shook her head, not meeting his eyes. She could feel the flaming color on her cheeks.

He took her hand and pulled her closer, kissing her palm. "Nanao-chan, it's very appropriate to want your partner to be enthusiastic and willing. And I am, I promise you. There's very little that you could ask for in bed that I wouldn't consider doing with you."

She nodded tightly, unsure of what to say. There was a gulf between their levels of sexual experience several miles wide. She couldn't tell him that now; she thought she might choke on her mortified embarrassment if she tried. But that was a problem for after she'd actually chosen a potential husband. Still, she could imagine Captain Kyōraku with mountain climbing gear, merrily throwing his ropes over the gulf and crossing, wearing only a fundoshi and hiking boots. A startled laugh escaped her lips.

"Nanao-chan?"

She shook her head. "You're a bad influence on me."

He grinned. "I hope so."

Her hand lit with kidō. "I'm going to heal these. Otherwise people will think—I'm not even sure what people will think."

His arm looped around her waist as she leaned over him, tugging her into his lap. She allowed it, her eyes focused on her kidō. She probably shouldn't do this with him, but didn't want to move away. Physical contact with him seemed to have an addictive quality for her; she craved it, craved him. She swallowed heavily, saying nothing. His lips touched the side of her neck, following the curve to her pulse with his tongue. Her breathing was uneven, her kidō faltering. He sucked at her pulse and she stopped breathing entirely.

"Don't—you'll leave a mark," she protested.

"Do you want me to stop?" He pulled back.

She said nothing. Finally she tipped her head slightly, exposing more of her neck to him.

He made a pleased sound. "We'll match. I won't bite, though. I like to use my tongue more than my teeth, especially on skin as soft and sweet as yours. You taste good, Nanao-chan." His voice was a low murmur against her throat. He resumed sucking at her pulse, which sped up under his touch. She leaned into him, her lips parted.

The light of her kidō flickered and faded. The marks on his shoulder and neck were muted, nearly invisible in the late afternoon light. She scooted back on his lap. His lips left her throat with a wet, indecent sound.

She stood, relighting the kidō for her own throat, but he rose and pressed his hand to her neck. "Let me." His kidō touched her tender skin, as soft and cooling as his hand was firm and warm.

"Thank you." She stared at his chest, her heartbeat rapid and loud in her ears.

"Nanao-chan." He raised his free hand to her cheek, his fingertips brushing her lips.

She felt a moment of uncertainty at his closeness. She'd enjoyed it when he'd kissed her neck, but could she really handle him if he wanted more than that? Panic itched at her veins. She stepped back, straightening her uniform. "It's getting late. I'm hungry."

"Are you? Then this is an excellent opportunity for me to impress you with my good taste." He held his arm out for her.

She eyed him dubiously, ignoring his arm. "Are you going to cook?"

"No, although I am capable of cooking well. Would cooking impress you? I can put it on our list of things to practice."

"I would only be impressed if your cooking was particularly impressive. I would expect you to have basic cooking skills."

"Yet I imagine none of the men in the matchmaker's file have ever cooked for themselves. They almost certainly leave that to servants or female relatives. If you chose one of them to marry, they might expect that you will take over their kitchen."

She frowned. "That would not fit well into my work schedule." She crossed her arms. "Do you really think that none of the men in the file can cook?"

"Yes, I really do. I'd put money on it, Nanao-chan."

She nodded, and he smiled triumphantly. She held up her hand. "I'm not giving you the point unless you actually cook something. But I will acknowledge that you are likely correct, the majority of noble men do not cook."

"Hmm. But now I'm torn between impressing you with my good taste in restaurants and impressing you with my cooking."

"Restaurants now." It would be a relief to be in public; their growing intimacy was unnerving.

He extended his arm again and she tucked her hand into the crook of his arm, to his obvious pleasure.

"I'll give you the point for good taste if we go somewhere that is appropriate and delicious, and where I don't need to change out of my uniform to feel comfortable."

"The point is mine already."

On to Chapter 6.



Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
akai_miko
Dec. 27th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
You are GODDESS.

This chapter was delicious.
Incredible.
r_dahlia
Dec. 29th, 2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was really thinking about cutting the entire section with Nanao tipsy, because it's mostly just a deviation, but I liked it and left it in. ;x I'm glad you found this chapter delicious! ;)
akai_miko
Dec. 29th, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
I'M glad that you included that bit! It really helped in creating certain atmosphere ;)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )