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Title: The Trials of Nanao Ise
Genre: Romance/Drama
Pairing: Shunsui/Nanao
Spoilers: Through manga chapter 423
Status: Ongoing
Rating: R
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 18.
Chapter 1

She was more than an hour late to work. She'd meant to be on time, and she'd woken at the right hour. But the world outside the bed was cold and Shunsui was so warm, she didn't want to leave him. She spent some pleasant time drowsing in his arms and committing his sleeping face to her memory. He looked happy in his sleep; with his eyes closed, the sad, aware expression they often held was hidden, and his mouth curved up, especially when he felt her touching him.

She wondered a bit that he slept so easily through her wakeful presence, but then again, how uncomfortable would it be to always be waking up whenever anyone with reiatsu was near? Perhaps he was at ease with her, awake or asleep. The idea made her smile slightly.

She rose on her knees and tugged at his clothes. Shunsui shrugged out of his sleeves and rolled on his stomach, barely awake. His wounds from the war were close to completely healing. She lit her hands with kidō and placed them on his cero wound and the sword wound from Aizen. Her reiatsu flowed into his body and he made a low sound of pleasure in his throat. They passed the minutes in silence, Nanao's fingers absently stroking the skin under her hands.

She kissed his shoulder as the kidō faded, then pulled back and rose from the bed. He watched her with heavy-lidded eyes. She smiled, a small curve of her lips, and he smiled back, wide and warm.

No one seemed to notice her tardiness at the Eighth, or if they did, they didn't say anything to her. Nanao knew her expression was extra severe today. She'd given Shunsui so many liberties that she drew her vice captain persona around her more tightly than ever at work, afraid that everyone would see on her face what she felt for him.

When she stepped into the office she stopped as soon as she saw her desk. There were flowers—delicate white and pink lilies—in a beautiful porcelain vase. She felt delight at the mystery of it—when had Shunsui gotten these? This wasn't the right season for them. When had he put them here? She'd been with him or in the office nearly all of yesterday. Perhaps he'd gotten someone to help him. She petted a silky petal with the tips of her fingers and sniffed the heart of one of the flowers.

There was a note on her desk: These are beautiful, but not half as lovely as you are. Yours, Shunsui

The sentiment was romantic and exaggerated, Nanao thought, but in the privacy of her office she allowed herself to enjoy the pleasure of being a woman that a man would go to a lot of effort for just to make a sweet gesture.

She spent the hours of the morning working on her response to the complaint and finished it before lunchtime. The papers she tucked back into the folder Sasakibe gave her; she would see him this afternoon and return them. She stood, stretching, and strolled over to the window to stare out at the courtyard.

Shunsui's reiatsu appeared at the edges of her awareness only a moment before he wrapped around her body from behind. She leaned into him briefly and then straightened. "What are you doing here?"

"I work here, lovely Nanao-chan, remember?" he said near her ear.

"But you weren't coming in this week."

"You're at work." He kissed her neck.

"Stop that. We're in the office." She scowled at him over her shoulder.

"So?"

"What if someone comes in?"

"They can't see what I'm doing if you're in front of me. You're too small." He nibbled at her ear, her jaw.

"That's not the point," she said, though the point was rapidly fading away in importance. "Thank you for the flowers. When did you do that?"

"That's a secret, Nanao-chan. Did you like them?"

"They're beautiful, although you didn't have to go through the trouble of getting them."

He caressed the pulse in her neck. "I would go through any amount of trouble to see happiness on your face." He bent to kiss her again, turning her enough to reach her cheeks and then her lips.

"That's unnecessary," she said, but she allowed him several seconds of kisses, because the flowers were beautiful and because she liked his kisses. Eventually she pulled away from him, ducking under his arm. "I was just going out for lunch," she said, straightening the neck of her uniform.

"Excellent. We'll go together."

She nodded. This was normal enough; they went out together for a meal often. They walked through the division, Shunsui greeting everyone with good cheer.

"You're happy today," she said as they sat down in the restaurant.

"Well, I'm having a very good week." He grinned. She glared at him. "And now I'm with my Nanao-chan." He reached a hand out to caress her neck but she slapped him away with her fan.

"Stop that," she hissed.

"And, Ukitake is going home today, which I'm helping with later," he continued blithely, as if she'd never hit him or hissed at him.

"Captain Ukitake is being released from the Fourth? That's good news."

As they ate, making light conversation about their friends and Shunsui's new straw hat and the paperwork, Nanao gradually relaxed. She'd been afraid that if their relationship changed things wouldn't be normal between them anymore. But here they were, talking, laughing, bickering as usual. Shunsui did have a ridiculous smile on his face, but she could live with that.

Back in the office she sat down at her desk, settling some of the backlog paperwork in front of her. Shunsui flipped over and over on the hated sofa.

"It's a nice day, and you aren't even supposed to be back at work yet. Why don't you go sleep outside?" Nanao raised a brow at him.

"I want to be with my Nanao-chan." He rose from the sofa and sauntered across the room to lean over her desk.

"I'm just going to work. And I'll see you later, at home." She stood up, glancing around, and darted a small kiss to the side of his mouth. "Go on."

He grinned at her. "I'll be at the park."

Now she was the one with a ridiculous smile. She shook her head, sorting through the backlog.

After an hour she came across something interesting. She drummed her fingers on the desk and finally nodded to herself.

Members of the Eighth stared openly at the sight of their vice captain leaving the office in the middle of the day without telling anyone where she was going.


Nanao walked briskly through the park, never taking her eyes from her target. She carried under one arm her portable desk, and under the other a book and a sheaf of papers. The desk was not new; it had been a gift from Captain Ukitake some years ago, shortly after she became vice captain of the Eighth.

He had given it with the intent of making her working life easier by allowing her to bring work to her captain, instead of struggling to bring her captain to work. She'd thanked him politely for his gift but never used it. The captain should come to the office and work. Nanao had believed in that principle strongly and spent the next few decades trying to push Shunsui behind his desk.

Today was the first time the portable desk had left Eighth Division.

She stopped under the foot of a maple tree and sighed at the man laying there. He wasn't asleep; she doubted he'd been asleep from the moment she'd entered the park. Shunsui was always aware of her; it was something that had long both unnerved her and pleased her. She had tried hard to maintain a level of professionalism, and never to let the pleasure of his attentions show, but she felt certain he was always aware of her feelings.

Last night he'd demonstrated his easy mastery over her body and over himself. She'd enjoyed everything that happened, but she felt keenly the inequality of their positions today. Shunsui had never panted for air last night. He'd never lost control of himself. Nanao had, and while she'd been satisfied by his efforts, she was unsatisfied with her own role and with Shunsui's ease in all of their physical encounters. She wanted to see him sweat and tremble and maybe even beg. It might take time, but Nanao was very goal-oriented.

Today she would take the first step to try to change their roles. He might still dominate, but she was going to wrestle for more power between them, and he was going to be completely engaged in their match.

"Captain," she said.

His new straw hat tipped up, and he looked at her with warm eyes. "My lovely Nanao-chan. Have you come to admire the day with me?" He shifted over, leaving space open on the pink haori he was resting on, but did not sit up. "Please, sit with me."

He watched from under his hat with some interest as she set out the portable desk next to him, opening it and arranging the sheaf of papers on it. She carefully opened the closure on the ink and pulled out a brush from a compartment in the desk.

"Clever Nanao-chan, where did you get that?"

She sat in front of the desk, parallel to his chest, and straightened the creases of her uniform. She set the thin book on the desk. "Captain Ukitake gave it to me."

"Ukitake gave you a traveling desk? You see, Nanao-chan? I'm not the only one that wants you to get out of the office more." He tipped his hat back and grinned at her.

"Captain Ukitake was trying to make my working life easier," she said, her back very straight. She picked up the book and opened it to the first page.

"Yare, yare, Nanao-chan. Even under a tree in a grassy field you manage to look like you're behind your desk at the office. Why don't you relax a little?" He lifted a lazy hand to her arm and trailed his fingers up to her shoulder. Her fan tapped him lightly on the fingers before he could reach her neck.

"We're working, even if we're not in the office. I need you to review the new edition of the uniform regulations code."

He pulled his hand back to rest on his stomach. "That doesn't seem like something that would ordinarily bring you out to find me. Why don't you review it, Nanao-chan? I'm sure you know much more about uniform regulations than I do." He met her baleful gaze and smiled. "When did Ukitake get you the desk?"

"Of course I know more about uniform regulations than you do. I read the new edition every year and sign the certification for Eighth Division." She closed the book with a loud thwap and held it up near his face. "However, this year Vice Captain Sasakibe specifically asked that you review the uniform code and sign the certification personally, as well as a certification acknowledging that you are breaking the uniform code in at least eight different ways."

"Eight? That seems like an awful lot of violations."

"Those are only the visible violations. You could be breaking the code further without Sasakibe-san's knowledge."

"Visible violations? My Nanao-chan is welcome to inspect me for further violations." The hand resting on his stomach came up and parted his uniform top further, baring a long expanse of chest and stomach. He grinned wickedly, but froze as Nanao put one hand on the ground and twisted to lean her head over his chest, a few feet above from his body.

Nanao studied his chest and stomach, privately admiring the golden skin and firm muscles. She was aware of his gaze on her and glanced at his face out of the corner of her eyes. He was watching her with an intensity that made her swallow, his eyes dark and glittering under the shade of his hat.

She set the book down on her desk and slowly let her freed hand drift towards his body. When her fingers brushed against the muscles of his stomach he tensed but did not move. Nanao pulled the right side of his uniform top across his body, covering his exposed flesh. The back of her hand stroked over his skin as she neatly tucked the fabric under the sash riding low on his hips. She repeated the gesture with the left side of his uniform top.

Shunsui was not even breathing.

Nanao turned back to the desk and picked up the book, opening it and flipping through the pages. She stopped near the middle and turned back to face him, one finger tapping the page. "Wearing your uniform like that is also a violation, captain." She stared at the book.

"Nanao," he said in that deep, hot tone that sent a curling heat through her body. He'd dropped the diminutive from her name, and she knew that this was dangerous territory, that this was the point that she should run away and admit that she was not capable of navigating this field, or let him take the lead again, walking her slowly through; but today was a new day, and if she wanted to dominate or just to have equality in the match between them, even if only for one day, she needed to navigate this ground herself.

He moved then, easing into a seated position beside her with a care usually reserved for approaching wild animals. Her spine began to stiffen further, and at the exact point she thought—I can't really win this match, not with him—he leaned back, resting his weight on his hands, tipping his face to the sun.

"Would that have been nine violations?" He kept his eyes closed, and everything about his face and body radiated ease. Nanao felt her vertebrae relax, one at a time, until she was sitting straightly as she normally would, but not with the stiff formality of a soldier at attention.

"Ten."

"Ten? Really?"

"Each opened side of the uniform constitutes a separate violation. Therefore you were at ten violations."

"You know the rules so well, Nanao-chan. What use would it be for me to read that book, when you are already so capable of addressing the uniform regulations code?" He tilted his head to watch her with heavy eyes.

Nanao had already anticipated this, but she still sighed, so he would know that she did not approve. "I have prepared a summary," she said, setting the book on the grass and picking up a few papers from the desk. She held it out to him, her face carefully blank. His face was lit with amusement at their familiar play. She raised one eyebrow at him when he did not reach for the papers.

"Read it to me."

She had anticipated this, too, but shook her head and sighed at him again before adjusting her glasses and turning the papers. She began to read through the dull information, occasionally pausing for interjections from her captain.

"My haori is a violation, the color of my haori is a separate violation, and covering the number on my captain's haori is another violation? That seems a bit excessive, Nanao-chan."

"The number on your captain's haori is supposed to be exposed so that people will easily recognize you and the authenticity of your authority."

"Everybody knows who I am, Nanao-chan, because of my pink haori. If I stopped wearing it suddenly, no one would recognize me instantly anymore."

"That is not really the point," she said, the corners of her mouth twitching up as she continued to read her summary. He was right, of course, that everyone recognized him as he was; if he did start dressing as a proper captain would, it might take years for Seireitei to get over the shock.

"Is not wearing tabi one violation per foot, or one violation total?" His hand was drifting up her arm again, caressing her through the fabric of her uniform.

"One violation total," she said, slapping him absently with her fan. She ignored him and flipped to the next page of her notes, reading aloud.

"I need my hat to protect myself from the cruel morning sun!"

"If you weren't hungover so often, the sun wouldn't seem so cruel." She smacked the hand wandering across her lower back with the fan.

"My Nanao-chan is as cruel as the sun today, and just as bright and beautiful."

"Technically, your ankle bracelet is also a violation, which should put you at nine violations, but Sasakibe-san must have missed that." She glared at him over the top of her papers, hiding her smile behind the parchment.

"It's a precious charm! My Nanao-chan must have been watching me very closely to notice so many details of my appearance." He was grinning widely at her now, leaning in closer to her face. She bopped him on the nose with the papers in her hand and it caused him to retreat a little, still grinning.

"I see a great deal of your feet and ankles, since you insist on sleeping in the office so often. Moving on, to the regulations of undergarments for the active duty shinigami—"

"Undergarments? There are actual regulations for undergarments?"

She certainly had his full attention now. "Captain, there are regulations for everything. What we are doing now violates at least five regulations I can think of immediately, and I am certain there are more that could be found in the rulebooks at the office."

"We could try to violate more rules while we're out here. No one comes to this part of the park at this time of day." He gave her a suggestive look.

"That would be at least twenty violations of various regulations. And I passed three people in the park on my way here."

"You are a wonder to me, Nanao-chan. So clever and responsible, and with such a luscious—"

"The regulation of undergarments for active duty shinigami, section one," she read, cutting him off before he could elaborate on her luscious parts.

Nanao noted with some amusement that Shunsui listened to the undergarment regulations with more attention than he had ever lent to any previous reading of regulations before. When she finished, she set aside the summary papers on the uniform regulations code manual and shifted through the papers on the portable desk. "Now, you need to sign two separate certifications, one that you have read the uniforms manual, and another one that says you are aware of your uniform violations and the consequences of continuing to dress inappropriately for duty."

"What consequences are there for my uniform violations, Nanao-chan?"

She tapped one of her fingers against her lips, irritated. "There aren't any consequences at the captain level," she said.

He leaned towards her, eyes on her mouth. "What are the consequences for violating the uniform code if you do it?"

"I have no visible violations of the uniform code; therefore there are no consequences for violating it."

His eyes narrowed. "No visible violations. Do you have some secret violations, Nanao-chan?" His gaze fell to her chest.

She barely held down a blush rising on her cheeks, so she turned to the desk, lifting it across his sprawled out legs. "Sign this page."

"Do you have something secret on under your clothes? I've never seen your undergarments, which is a terrible oversight on my part." His voice was smooth and slow like the drip of honey, and she swallowed again.

"Just here at the bottom of the page," she said, tapping the spot.

"Maybe something I got you? Are you wearing one of my gifts, sweetheart?"

She huffed lightly at that. Frequently during her tenure as his vice captain he had given her inappropriate gifts: silk lingerie, satin cocktail dresses, tiny swimsuits, even a corset in soft buttered leather. At just the thought of these items her cheeks flamed brilliant scarlet, but she huffed, "As if I would wear one of those. Your taste is appalling."

"But you are wearing something you aren't supposed to have, aren't you, lovely Nanao-chan?" One of his hands came up to cup her cheek and turn her to face him directly. "You aren't wearing bindings, perhaps?" He swept his eyes over her chest. "Or are you wearing some sweet panties? Forbidden little white panties—"

She pulled his hand off her face and slapped it down on the portable desk. "We're working. This conversation is inappropriate. Pick up the brush."

"My sweet—"

"Pick up the brush," she snapped, and she knew her face was still pink and her eyes narrowed with embarrassment.

Shunsui watched her with open speculation and amusement, but he did pick up the brush and dip it in the ink. "Anything for my Nanao-chan."

She made a disbelieving noise in her throat and looked away, across the trees of the park. How easily he could fluster her, still, after all these years as his vice captain. Today was supposed to be the day she made things change, the day that she won their match. If her time with him was coming to an end, she wanted to finish it on her terms. She wanted to fluster him. She wanted to hear him say her name as he lost control of himself. Her shoulders stiffened with new resolve.

She turned and rose up on her knees, leaning towards his body without touching him. Her face only reached his shoulder, and she used one hand on his arm to guide him into leaning down slightly for her, so his ear was even with her mouth.

"Nanao—" he said, and began to turn his head to face her, but she put her hand on his cheek and faced him towards the desk.

"Sign." Her tone was soft and cajoling, all of her violent embarrassment disappearing from her voice.

He began to sign, his body tense.

Halfway through his signature she shifted her lips to an inch from his ear, letting her breath fall on his cheek. He stopped signing.

"Nanao—"

"Sign," she interrupted him, still using that soft tone that had rarely left her lips before.

Just before he finished his messy signature she drew in a breath.

"They aren't white."

The last line of his signature jolted up the page, leaving a long streak of ink. She smiled slightly. He tried to turn his face towards her, but she kept her hand on his cheek, pressing him to face forward, towards the desk.

"Turn to the next page. This is your certification of uniform violations. Sign at the bottom."

"Nanao—" he tried to speak, but she moved her hand over his mouth as her other hand trailed into the open neck of his uniform and glided over the front of his chest before resting on his shoulder.

"Sign." When he swallowed, she could see the muscles in his throat working. She pulled her hand off his mouth and back to his cheek when he began to draw out the characters of his name.

As he drew the last character she opened her mouth to whisper in his ear.

"They aren't black."

He barely finished signing, and drew in a shuddering breath. "Nanao, you—"

She licked down the shell of his ear and bit down gently on his earlobe, tugging once, then broke away from him and took the portable desk off his lap, straightening the contents. Pulling the brush from his frozen fingers, she tucked it into its compartment, closed the ink, sealed up the desk and put it under her arm. She picked up the uniform regulations code manual and tucked it under her other arm.

"I need to get back to work. Thank you for your cooperation, captain." She took a final look at his shocked face and still body. A wave of satisfaction rolled over her. A tune popped into her head and she hummed it lightly as she walked briskly away from her captain and the park.

It was nearly five seconds after she started walking that Shunsui appeared beside her. "You must have other work for me to do."

Her lips twitched upwards at the eagerness of his tone. "Actually, we are ahead of our current obligations, captain. The remaining work at the office is non-critical and has an extended due date. I don't think I will have any reports for you to view for at least a few days."

"Now Nanao-chan, that can't be true. There is always some work that I've neglected."

"Well, although you don't do very much work, captain, I do several hours of work a day, and I have the authority to take care of nearly everything that comes through the division. You have made your hanko available to me in the office to stamp your name as I see fit. In fact, unless it is explicitly stated on the item that it must be reviewed personally by you, I am able to approve everything that passes through our office. You are free to enjoy your afternoon." She smiled at him beneficently.

"Nanao-chan, please, I want to help you with the important work of our division." He walked beside her but leaned down, so that he could see her obvious amusement and her smile. She made no effort to hide her feelings behind a professional mask, and it felt incredibly liberating.

"I'm afraid there isn't anything that needs a captain's attention. I'm going to take these documents over to First Division. Weren't you going to visit with Captain Ukitake today?"

"Yes, but I can always visit Ukitake later if you need my attention now."

"Please enjoy the afternoon at your leisure. I will be taking tea with Sasakibe-san, so I would not be able to use your attention even if I did have it."

Shunsui sighed. "My Nanao-chan is so—" he paused.

"Cruel?" Nanao suggested brightly.

"Are they pink?"

"I'm sorry, captain, but I don't have any work for you to complete and I have other obligations. Have a good afternoon." She braced and stepped into her shunpo, just hearing him speak as she sped away.

"Definitely cruel," he said, but in that dark honey tone that made her shiver.

Her victorious smile lasted all the way to the doors of First Division.

 On to Chapter 20.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
meroko26
Aug. 20th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
*removes blood from nose* Okay then. Very nice. But what color are they? If she IS wearing them? I love Nanao making Shun uncomfortable. And he probrably loves it too. :) Although I feel things will change once Nanao goes to the first. The calm before the storm. Can't wait for more.
r_dahlia
Aug. 22nd, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading! Nanao's undergarments will remain a mystery at present, to Kyouraku's dismay. I wonder how many reports it would take him to get a peek? ;p
darkmystcompel
Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:03 am (UTC)
I laughed my way through this chapter. She's really learning how to torment him in the best way possible! :D

It also amused me that for all her worrying, it was her own actions, and not Shunsui's, that were curious to the division members :P

My favourite lines were:
It was nearly five seconds after she started walking that Shunsui appeared beside her. "You must have other work for me to do."

Her lips twitched upwards at the eagerness of his tone.


and

"They aren't white."

The last line of his signature jolted up the page, leaving a long streak of ink.


Wonderful stuff!



r_dahlia
Aug. 22nd, 2011 11:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked this chapter! The afternoon in the park was one of my favorite sections to write, it was a lot of fun. I like exploring the power dynamic in their relationship and how it changes as their relationship changes.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )