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Title: The Trials of Nanao Ise
Genre: Romance/Drama
Pairing: Shunsui/Nanao
Spoilers: Through manga chapter 423
Status: Ongoing
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Nanao will face the consequences of her decisions during and after the Arrancar War. Can she overcome these trials, or will they divide her from Captain Kyōraku forever? Canon compliant through manga chapter 423.

Back to Chapter 5.
Chapter 1.

It was a low groan that woke her. Nanao startled out of sleep and nearly groaned herself at the pain in her neck; she'd fallen asleep with her head resting on her hands on the table in front of her.

She stood and leaned over the bed, where her captain was thrashing his legs against the blankets. "Stop. Captain, stop." She put her hands on a shoulder, carefully shaking him. "You're in the Fourth, and you're badly wounded. Stop moving before you hurt yourself."

Captain Kyōraku stilled, turning his body for a better look at her. "Nanao-chan?"

"Yes," she said. "I'm here. How do you feel? Are you in pain?"

"Nanao-chan?" It was more of a pained croak than words. His eyes looked glassy and confused. Disorientation.

"Yes, captain. I'm going to find a nurse to get Captain Unohana for you. I'm just going into the hall, and I'll be right back." Nanao glanced out the window. The sun was marching up the sky; it had to be mid-morning. She'd worked until the small hours of the night on her report to First Division.

In the hallway, complete chaos reigned. The members of the Fourth ran full tilt through the corridors, shouting orders and pleas to each other. Nanao stepped in front of a small nurse with a teetering tower of white linens. "Excuse me," she said, deftly catching the linens as the girl jumped.

"Oh, Vice Captain Ise, I didn't see you there. I'm sorry."

Nanao held onto the linens when the girl gestured for them. "Captain Kyōraku is awake. Would it be possible for you to notify Captain Unohana?"

"Ah, well, that's difficult," the girl murmured, not meeting Nanao's eyes.

"Why is it difficult?"

"Captain Unohana has been so busy that I don't have any idea where she is. And the hospital is just flooded with patients, um, because last night a lot of divisions threw victory parties, and this morning we have a lot of drinking-related injuries and alcohol poisonings and then there's the people from the collapsed building—"

"Collapsed building?"

"It was the Eleventh Division," the girl said, reaching for her linens.

"I see. Then if you could notify one of your officers about Captain Kyōraku, I would appreciate it." Nanao handed off the linens.

"I will, vice captain, b-but it might be a while before anyone is free." The girl was shifting from foot to foot, obviously intimidated by Nanao and late for her linen delivery.

"I understand. Thank you." Nanao let the girl run off and sighed.

When she returned to the room, Captain Kyōraku was struggling to sit.

"What do you think you're doing?" Nanao ran across the room and pushed him upright, just stopping him from tilting out of the bed.

"Just trying to get comfortable," he said. His face was sweating and his brows drawn together in obvious pain.

"Where do you hurt most?"

"It's a blow to my manly pride to answer that, Nanao-chan." He grinned, but it seemed to take a lot of effort.

"If you tell me I'll do a healing kidō to ease the pain." She helped him move to a sitting position, stacking pillows gently behind his back. "Is this alright for your back?"

"My back is painful but my head hurts so much more that I can barely feel my back. Isn't that lucky?" He watched her with interest as she climbed up on the bed to perch beside him. Her hands lit up with a light blue kidō.

"Not that I'm not delighted to be nursed by my Nanao-chan's gentle hands, but aren't we in the Fourth?" She had healed him before, but always on the battlefield, or when they were away from other medical attention, or in other rare situations when going to the Fourth was not the preferred choice.

Nanao was capable of much stronger healing kidō than most shinigami, but she preferred to avoid using it if possible. There was an intimacy to healing that unnerved her. Pushing her reiatsu into someone made her uncomfortable. She tweaked her kidō as she brought her hands up to his temples. "The Fourth is overrun. Not only are they treating the captains and officers who were wounded in the battle with Aizen, but apparently the Eleventh dropped a building during their victory celebration."

"Sounds like a great party," he said. His eyes were closed and he was leaning into her hands. But his brow was still furrowed with pain.

She frowned and increased the strength of the healing kidō, pressing more of her power into his body. The stress on his face eased up, but did not disappear. Nanao began to increase the range of her kidō, leading with her reiatsu and then trailing the healing through his body, into the wounds on his back.

The feeling of touching him on the inside was something she could never get accustomed to when healing. A flush rose on her cheeks and her kidō hesitated when he groaned.

"Am I hurting you?" she asked, concerned. Using reiatsu to expand healing kidō through the body to treat multiple wounds at once was an advanced technique that required a delicate touch. If done poorly, using reiatsu inside someone's body could cause pain and even injury. Nanao was a very skilled kidō master, but she hadn't healed anyone in a long time.

"Don't stop." Captain Kyōraku leaned into her until he was almost on top of her.

"Captain, do you want to lie back down? I'll help you—" she nearly squeaked as he pushed her back on the bed with his body, resting his head on her chest. His body fell onto hers with his chest landing half on her abdomen and his legs sprawled out to the head of the bed.

"That's a good idea, Nanao-chan, let's do that. Don't stop," he said, breathing on her neck.

"This is inappropriate, captain." Nanao reached for her stern voice but found only a whisper. He's disoriented and in pain. Her face flushed but she did not move him.

After several minutes her heartbeat slowed down to a more regular pace and her flush faded. Captain Kyōraku hadn't moved from his position and she wondered if he'd fallen asleep.

She felt some pushback from his reiatsu against her healing kidō; his body was close to the amount of reiatsu healing it could accept in one session. It would take several sessions of healing and likely many days before he would recover fully.

The door to the room opened, and Nanao bent her neck to look upside down at Vice Captain Isane Kotetsu. The tall woman stared with vivid interest at the pair on the bed.

"Isane-san! One of the nurses told me the hospital is very busy, and Captain Kyōraku was in a lot of pain, so I went ahead and did a healing kidō on him." Nanao tried to look as dignified as she could with her head bent upside down and her captain sleeping on her breasts.

"Hello, Nanao-san. It's good that you went ahead and healed him, we're completely swamped here. Your healing kidō looks excellent, too." Isane stepped into the room to stand beside the bed.

Nanao stopped craning her neck and turned her head to the side to talk to Isane. "Yes, I'm nearly done with this session."

"Did you ever consider working in the Fourth? You have a real talent for the kidō." Isane covered her mouth as she yawned.

"I prefer other forms of kidō over healing, honestly. And I wouldn't want to leave the Eighth." Nanao marveled a little at how easily they were both conducting a conversation while pretending not to notice the captain draped across her chest.

"Yes, I understand," Isane said, and she glanced from Captain Kyōraku to Nanao with a nod. Nanao wondered how long it would be before she started hearing this story about herself. Probably a few days, at least; the Fourth was very busy, after all.

"Excuse me for a moment, Nanao-san; I need to consult with Captain Unohana." Isane bowed slightly to Nanao and the prone captain and left the room.

Nanao sighed when the kidō finally wound down. She lifted Captain Kyōraku's head off of her chest and wiggled her body off of the bed, resting his head softly on the blanket. He made a disgruntled noise and felt around for her with his bandaged left arm.

"I hope you're happy," she hissed.

It was over an hour before Isane returned. By then Nanao had worked a pillow into her captain's searching hand and covered him with an extra blanket from a supply room in the hall, since he'd laid the wrong way on the bed and was on top of all the covers. She sat in the bedside chair, reading over her report.

This time Isane knocked at the door and waited for Nanao say, "Please come in," before she entered.

"Good afternoon, Nanao-san. Please forgive the delay; I was detained assisting Captain Unohana with a surgery."

"Of course, Isane-san. I understand how busy you are currently."

Isane nodded. "Busy is an understatement. We're all running on energy pills, and we probably will be for days."

Nanao nodded. "It must be challenging."

"It really is. But what I wanted to tell you is that when I spoke with Captain Unohana she had a suggestion for the treatment of Captain Kyōraku. This is a bit unorthodox, but given the circumstances here in the Fourth, and your own high level of skill with healing kidō, she thought it might be the best choice. If you are willing, you could take him home and treat him yourself, provided you bring him back to the Fourth for a checkup in a couple of days."

Nanao looked over at the sleeping man on the bed. The Fourth really was too busy; since his injuries were not mortal, he would not receive priority care at this time. If she took him to his home, she could give him the necessary kidō treatments herself and stay in his guest room if he needed help at night. She'd intended to stay with him at the Fourth anyway. They would both be happier at his house, even if she would have to endure a lot of his ridiculous flirting. It would be worth it if that expedited his recovery.

"I would be willing to do that, and I am certain Captain Kyōraku would also consent," she said.

Isane smiled. "That's good, then. Let me examine his wounds and make sure they aren't worse than the triage team reported and I'll give you some care instructions for him."

"I'll have to return to the Eighth before I take him home. I need to make some arrangements with our Third Seat and pick up some items."

"If you'd like to go while I make my examination, I can write out my notes on his care and leave them here for you," Isane offered.

"Thank you, Isane-san. I'll go right now." Nanao picked up her completed report off the borrowed table. She nodded to Isane—whose hands were glowing turquoise with diagnostic kido—and left the room, quickly exiting the hospital and using shunpo to get to the Eighth.

At her division there were scattered signs of a recent party and a number of pale shinigami wincing at their desks. But her Third Seat was nowhere to be found. "Where is Enjōji-san?" she asked in the office shared by several lower seats.

"I think he's still in the common room, Vice Captain Ise," a young man said, cupping his hands over his temples as if his head might explode.

In the common room she found Enjōji snoring under a table. If Nanao was feeling charitable, she might have gently shaken him awake. However, she'd used up more than an afternoon's worth of compassion on her captain and been horribly embarrassed for her trouble. She picked up a regulations manual off a table full of them next to the door and dropped it directly next to Enjōji's ear.

He shot up and smacked his head into the table, launching into a stream of pained curses.

Nanao cleared her throat.

"Vice Captain Ise! I thought you were at the Fourth!" He was rapidly turning a shade of green.

"I was at the Fourth. Now I am here, giving orders to my Third Seat."

"Yes, orders, ah, please excuse me, vice captain," he said, running out of the room with his hand clasped over his mouth.

Nanao sighed and walked through the division offices until she found someone who looked both reasonably sober and not sick.

She explained the orders she wished to have relayed to the Third Seat to the older man, and he promised to deliver them. They were fairly simple, and Nanao was confident Enjōji would be able to follow them. She also arranged for a courier to deliver her completed report on the events at the command post to First Division.

In her own quarters, she packed some clothes and other things she thought she might want over the next several days and had one of the younger shinigami on duty deliver the bag to Captain Kyōraku's house. In the captain's quarters she grabbed a yukata out of his mostly empty rooms. She didn't want to bring her captain back to his quarters at the division; he needed to rest, and there would be no preventing an endless stream of well-wishers if he was right at the barracks. Fewer people would feel comfortable coming out to his house.

Back at the Fourth, she carefully avoided the healers rushing around and returned to Captain Kyōraku's room. Isane was gone and Captain Kyōraku was awake. He was sitting on the bed, propping his side against the pillows for support. His legs hung off the edge of the bed and his feet were planted on the floor.

"There you are, lovely Nanao-chan. You just missed Isane-san. She left notes for you." He nodded to neat paper folded on the bed.

"How are you feeling?" she asked, watching his face. Did he remember waking up earlier and falling asleep on her when she healed him? She couldn't tell.

"I'm feeling very good, since Isane-san told me that my lovely Nanao-chan is going to take me home and nurse me back to health with her own hands." He leaned towards her where she stood in front of him, making a kissy-face.

"We haven't left yet. I could still leave you here," she said, crossing her arms across her chest.

"Could you be so cruel to your poor Shunsui?" he asked pitifully.

She raised one eyebrow.

"But you acted so loving to me this morning, Nanao-chan!" His eyes were twinkling with mischief.

"You were awake?" She scowled at him.

"Awake isn't really the word. It's hazy, but I do remember the delightful feeling of resting my head on my Nanao-chan's sweet, soft—oof—"

A yukata hit him in the face, cutting off his praise of Nanao's assets.

"Put this on. We're not going out with you in only those pants." She waved at his torn and dirty uniform pants. The openings in the sides showed streaks of hard thigh.

"You've got it wrong, Nanao-chan, you're supposed to take advantage of my lack of clothes, not put more clothes on me." He struggled to open the yukata properly with only his left hand, and Nanao remembered that he did not have the use of his right arm because of the damage from Aizen's sword slash.

"Here, let me," she said, taking the yukata out of his hands and slipping it onto his arms. She stood a little between his legs and focused only on his arms. He was staring at her, she could feel it, but she refused to look at his face. "Can you stand?"

He stood with some difficulty, swaying slightly, but after a moment he stabilized. She pulled the edges of the yukata together. The back of her fingers brushed against the bandages wrapping around his chest. "Nanao-chan," he rumbled close to her ear.

She wrapped a sash around the yukata and tied it closed in the front for expediency. "I am doing this because it's the best thing for our division for their captain to recover quickly. If I so much as imagine that you are drawing this out on purpose, I will put you back in the Fourth with some fresh wounds. Is that clear?"

"Of course, Nanao-chan. But we'll get to spend lots of time together anyway. Isane-san wrote it all out for you. Days and nights, with just you and me." His voice dropped on his last words and she moved away from him, picking up Isane's notes. She decided to leave the borrowed table in the room. If she tried to return it with the traffic in the hall being what it was, either the table or some poor member of the Fourth was going to end up broken.

"Can you walk? Will you be able to shunpo?" She tucked the notes into her shirt and turned back to him.

He took a few slow steps. Nanao saw that it was hard for him to balance without his right arm working.

"I can help you out of the hospital, but if you can't shunpo I'll go and get a couple of men from the division to bring you home."

"I can do one or two steps of shunpo, Nanao-chan. Enough to get to the division."

She watched him walking and then moved herself under his side for support, bracing her arms around his waist. His left hand rested on her shoulder. "We're not going to the division. We're going to your house."

"To my house?" He sounded surprised and Nanao stiffened against him. He hastily added, "Whatever my Nanao-chan prefers is fine."

"If we stay at the division you won't get any rest. Everyone will want to see their captain." They walked slowly through the halls, the shinigami of the Fourth rushing around them like waves of water around a rock. "Did you want to ask after Captain Ukitake before we go? I have information from last night, but I haven't checked today."

"I asked Isane-san. She said his chances are fair, but he can't have any visitors. They're doing very intense work on him right now."

Nanao glanced up at his solemn face. "You need to see Captain Unohana in a few days. Perhaps Captain Ukitake will be well enough for visitors then." Her words felt inadequate to her when his best friend was in such poor condition, so she fell silent. The image of that child Espada ripping his hand through Captain Ukitake's lungs flashed in her mind.

Outside the hospital Nanao dropped her arms and moved away from him a step. "Are you sure you feel well enough for shunpo? Perhaps it would be better to call in a couple of officers and carry you to the house—"

She'd just turned to reenter the hospital for a hell butterfly when Captain Kyōraku slipped away in a shunpo.

"Hey!" She chased after him immediately, but he was still lounging against the gate to his house by the time she caught up. His shunpo was just that much faster than hers.

"You're last, Nanao-chan!" He grinned at her.

"We weren't playing a chase game," she snapped. Up close she could see he was breathing heavily and his forehead was furrowed, as it had been earlier today. "And now you've strained yourself. Come on." She pushed open the gate and offered herself as a support for him, as she had at the hospital.

"But I like to play games with you, lovely Nanao-chan. I wish you'd play with me more." His voice was close to her ear, his head bending close to hers.

She shivered. Certainly he'd felt it, since he was pressed against her side. How annoying. "No one will be playing with you at all for a few days. You are going to rest quietly and recover very, very quickly, so I can go back to work." They entered his house and she deposited him on a cushion in front of a low table.

The bag she'd packed at her quarters was on the porch, and she went back outside to get it. When she returned to the room Captain Kyōraku looked at the large bag with interest.

"What's in your bag? Can I have a look?" He reached for the bag with his left hand, but his mobility was limited enough that Nanao dodged him easily.

"Paperwork," she said repressively.

As she was laying out her things in his extra bedroom, he called out to her. "Have you noticed, precious Nanao-chan? My house looks different for some reason."

She paused in arranging her clothes in the closet. She'd forgotten about it in the rush of activity during the battle and then after, at the Fourth, sitting with him and doing her report. That first night he was gone she'd come to his house when he wasn't here. She'd cleaned and indulged herself in thinking of him in his bedroom, but he didn't need to know about that part. "I cleaned," she called.

There was a long pause. "You came to my house when I wasn't here and you cleaned?"

She left the guest room, closing the door with a snap. "Does that bother you? I didn't think you'd mind."

There was a bemused expression his face. "I don't mind if my Nanao-chan comes to my house whenever she likes." He smiled up at her chilled expression. "Of course, it's always my hope that you will come when I'm here to enjoy your company."

"You have plenty of company," she said, looking at the clock.

"But I want your company, Nanao-chan."

"I don't see how you can possibly complain about lacking for my company. If you want to see me more, you should come to the office more. I am regularly there for several hours a day."

"It's not the same."

She sighed at him. "Fine, then I don't see how you can complain about lacking my company in your house while I am staying in your house for a number of days." She removed Isane's notes from her sleeve and read through them quickly.

"You make an excellent point. Now I do have my Nanao-chan all to myself in my house for days. It's like a dream of mine come to life, except for the sword wounds." He laughed a little.

"And the cero," Nanao said absently.

"Thanks for remembering." She glanced at his amused eyes over her papers. Even though they were bickering normally, his skin was paler than it should be and the lines on his face deeper.

"I've made arrangements for dinner, but it's too early for it. Isane-san says your bandages can be left off after you bathe since the wounds are healing well. Perhaps you'd like to have a bath?"

"This day just gets better and better," he said.

On to Chapter 7.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
darkmystcompel
Jul. 19th, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
I giggled my way through this chapter. They're too lovely, really, the officers of the 8th :)
r_dahlia
Jul. 19th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
This chapter was one of my favorites to write. Shunsui and Nanao are a lot of fun sometimes. ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )