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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 21.
Chapter 1.

The sun fell in sharp squares through the windows of the Tenth. Shunsui covered Nanao's delicate hands with his large ones. "Nanao-chan," he said. His voice was gentle, but she still winced, and it hurt him to see that. "Did you sleep last night? Your nightmares—"

"You look like you stayed up all night drinking on your porch." She glanced away from his face.

"It seems we could both use a nap. Let's go home, Nanao-chan."

She swallowed. "What—did you decide what you're going to do?" Her eyes darted back to his face, then away again.

"I'm not going to pursue the complaint, not now. But after the confidentiality is lifted, I'm going to pursue it in whatever way I think is best. I'm going to protect you then, Nanao-chan. Are you going to fight me when I do?" He cupped her face in his hand.

She breathed a shivering sigh. "No." She looked at him, and he could see the vulnerability leaving her eyes, chased out by relief. "I won't fight you. I'll tell you everything then, if you still want to hear it. And I'm sorry that I slapped you like that."

"I'm glad, Nanao-chan. For both things." He kissed her lips, a soft touch.

"If you try to trick me again, I'll make sure you have to supervise personally all the ranked personnel reviews this year." Her voice was sharp, but her eyes were still soft.

"I won't. And personnel reviews? That's really mean, Nanao-chan."

"Don't imagine you can get around me just because we're involved."

He smiled slightly. "I would never think something like that. Let's go home, Nanao-chan." He leaned his forehead lightly against hers.

"Thank you, Shu—captain, for respecting the confidentiality."

"I respect you, Nanao-chan; I don't give a damn about the confidentiality. Hmm. You were very close to saying my name just then, weren't you, lovely Nanao-chan? Would it help if I coached you? Shunsui. Shunsui. Shu—"

Nanao's hand came up to cover his mouth. "Stop that."

He began to nibble at her fingers, teasing her hand until she pulled it away. "Sweet, sweet Nanao-chan, say my name. Shunsui. Shhhhuuuuunnnssssuuuiiiii."

She shook her head, a small smile gracing her lips. "You're ridiculous. Stop making that noise."

But she'd encouraged him with her smile, and he escalated his attack, adding his kissy face to the drawn-out calls of his name.

"I'm not going to say it. Your efforts are wasted." There was a little color in her cheeks now and her normal crispness had returned.

He grinned and brought his face close to hers, still sing-songing his name.

She silenced him by pressing her lips to his in a kiss. Her tongue slipped into his mouth, hesitantly at first, but she grew bolder as he responded. She wrestled with him for control of the kiss, for dominance, and he reveled in the pleasure of the duel. Nanao was assertive with him in other areas of their relationship and he enjoyed the games they played. If she would play with him in bed the way she was playing with their kiss, he would be a very happy man. It might take some time, but Shunsui could be patient.

They separated for air, and he saw the pink blush lighting Nanao's cheeks. "I think this is the first time that face has gotten me a kiss from you."

"It seemed like an efficient way to quiet you." Nanao's lips pressed together and she nodded once. The professional effect was somewhat marred by the way her swollen pink lips glistened and the sexy low tone of her voice.

"I am a great fan of efficiency," he said, and kissed her.

"You've never cared about efficiency before." She was a little breathless.

"I am a great fan of anything that gets me kisses from you." He couldn't resist trailing a line of kisses down the elegant column of her neck. If he thought she would let him get away with it, he would spend hours covering each inch of her pale skin with kisses and love bites. He ran a hand down her shoulder, the outer curve of her breast, the dip of her waist.

She stilled his hand with one of hers. "We're in the office."

"But Nanao-chan, this isn't even our office. And it's Saturday."

"All offices are the office." She smoothed her hair with one hand.

"Your dedication to professionalism is remarkable, Nanao-chan. But how did you develop something like that in our division, I wonder?" He leaned away from her skin to see her face. Her eyes were violet and her tongue darted out to wet her lips. She looked tempting and delicious, so he kissed her mouth again.

"Stop that. This is inappropriate behavior for the office," she said, but the sternness of the words was ruined by the small kisses he draped across her lips and jaw.

"You're right, Nanao-chan, we should go home." Shunsui rose from his knees and lifted her from her chair with both of his hands around her waist.

"Wait. I need to write a note for Captain Hitsugaya. Do you know he's been filling out forms related to the division laundry? That is very clearly the duty of the Fourth Division's Nineteenth Seats. Those officers are shirking their work, intentionally or not."

"Oh? You don't do those forms?"

She turned back to the desk, scrawling out a brief note. "I do all of the work necessary to our division. I do not do any paperwork that falls outside of the responsibilities of our division. If I did that, I'd never have any time left for my kidō instruction or anything else."

"You're a marvel, Nanao-chan. Poor Toshirō-kun. You should give lessons on this." He wrapped his arms around her and enjoyed the press of her back to his chest.

"What, on paperwork? Regulations? As if anyone would attend a lecture like that, even though it would be quite useful." She finished her note and moved out of his arms to walk out of the office. He caught her easily and pressed a hand to her lower back as they walked. To his surprise she allowed the contact, even when they passed some members of the Tenth Division in the courtyard.

"I would go to any lectures by my darling Nanao-chan." He grinned down at her. They were in the street now, but it was almost deserted.

She paused in her walking, looking up at him. "I—" She stopped speaking. He could see she wasn't sure if burying the fight they'd had about the complaint was what she wanted, but she didn't really seem able to talk about it any further.

"I know, Nanao-chan. We'll manage somehow." He smiled. "Let's go home."

*****************************

Nanao woke warm and rested. The light coming in the window suggested late afternoon, which confused her until she remembered she'd come home with Shunsui and taken a nap. He had her napping in the middle of the day now, which made her smile and shake her head at the same time. It was harder and harder to keep any part of her heart away from him.

Her barriers had fallen so far that she'd nearly used his name without thinking in the Tenth's office. He'd brought her dreams so close to the surface in the last few days that they were nearly spilling from her lips. If she said his name, she didn't think she could hold anything else back from him. She felt overfilled with emotions and needs. Nanao did not know what to do with those things; but she was sure Shunsui would know and that he could understand her emotions and fulfill her needs. If she said his name, she wouldn't be able to keep any distance between them at all, and she wasn't ready for that yet. Distance was safer; distance was smarter.

But what distance was between them now, when she slept half on his body, her head on his chest and one of her hands tucked inside his shirt? She sat up. His arm wrapped around her waist, his other hand stroking the back of her neck.

"Precious Nanao-chan, how are you feeling?"

She glanced at him. "I'm hungry."

He sat up behind her, leaning his chest against her back lightly. "That won't do. Do you feel like going out or staying in?"

The undertone in his voice made her shiver a little. Distance. "Let's go out."

"I'd be honored to go to dinner with my Nanao-chan." He rose to his feet and helped her up. "Shall we go?"

"Wait, captain. I need to freshen up. My uniform is wrinkled." Nanao headed out of his bedroom and went to her guest room.

"My uniform is wrinkled too, Nanao-chan! We match. You don't need to change," he called from the main room.

Nanao sorted through the selection of clothes she had. Distance, she thought again, but her hands picked up a garment of their own accord.

When she came out Shunsui was lounging on the floor. He hadn't bothered to change, even though he'd slept in his clothes, as she had. Then again, his uniform was so haphazardly put together on a daily basis it wasn't likely anyone would notice that he was extra rumpled today. He sat up when he saw her, but didn't say anything.

"What? Is this an improper manner of dress for the restaurant? I thought this was an appropriate choice for a date." Nanao glanced down at her dress. She'd bought it on one of her shopping expeditions with Rangiku, but hadn't had an occasion to wear it yet. She wasn't sure why she'd brought it to Shunsui's house, except that she'd thought of him when she chose the dress. It was a deep purple dress, a simple A-line that fell to her knees. Uncertainty and irritation edged into her voice. "Should I change into something else?" One of her feet tapped a quick rhythm against the floor.

He pulled himself off the floor and stalked towards her. "No, this is lovely. I didn't know you had something like this with you, Nanao-chan. You look beautiful." He smiled and pulled her close with an arm around her waist. "I'm going on a date with my sexy Nanao-chan," he murmured next to her ear.

"Discretion. Remember discretion?" Nanao gave him a stern look that made him grin wider.

They walked to the restaurant side by side. It was a warm afternoon, quite contrary to the season. Shunsui couldn't stop looking at her, which was both pleasing and unnerving. He kept glancing at her feet, which were clad in black shoes with purple ribbons wrapped around her ankle and tied in a bow over her heel. She stopped in the street after the fourth time she caught him staring at her shoes. "Is there something wrong with my feet, captain?"

"Wrong? No. Intriguing, yes. It's the ribbons."

"The ribbons?" She twisted her head to look at the back of her ankles. "The ribbons are still tied. What is concerning you about the ribbons?"

"It's just a bit more whimsical than I would have expected." He smiled at her.

"They are not whimsical. They provide additional security for keeping the shoe on," she said, but she'd bought them because she liked the way the ribbons looked.

"Of course they do." His eyes were amused.

She sighed and started walking again. "The SWA has voted to promote the use of Living World styles in Seireitei."

"That organization votes on the most interesting things, Nanao-chan."

"The SWA exists to promote the causes of female shinigami and to improve conditions for all women in Soul Society."

"I fully support anything that leads to Nanao-chan in that lovely dress." His hand slid down her back, leaving a line of heat on her skin.

She fought back a blush. "The resolution we voted on was Rangiku-san's suggestion."

"I'll have to thank her when I see her." His fingers drew lazy patterns on her lower back where his palm rested.

Nanao rolled her eyes a little. "That's totally unnecessary."

At the restaurant there were only a few people eating; it was still a bit early for dinner. Shunsui secured them a private room and ordered a wide assortment of dishes for them to share.

"There's no way we can eat all of that," she protested.

"But this way you can enjoy a taste of everything," he said, and she just shook her head.

They ate slowly, savoring the food and each other's company. Shunsui tried to feed her choice tidbits, which she refused at first. Eventually his persistence and charm won out and she accepted his offerings, her lips opening for the bites of food. Perhaps she shouldn't have indulged him, but they were alone and it was a date, and she liked to see his eyes spark with pleasure whenever she said "Yes."

She wondered what his eyes would look like if she said yes to indulging him in other ways. Goosebumps rose on her flesh, though she felt very warm. Distance, scolded a tiny voice in her head, but she ignored it.

After dinner they walked back through the restaurant, now crowded mostly with shinigami. Shunsui was greeted frequently as they left; he seemed to know everyone, and everyone wanted him to join them for a drink. He refused the offers with warmth that left no one feeling slighted. Nanao marveled at how different they were, not for the first time. His gregarious nature was in direct contrast to her serious and cool manner.

When they finally reached the street Nanao was relieved to be out of the loud and bright restaurant. She'd been the subject of many curious looks; although she and Shunsui were often together, she was rarely out of uniform at those times. "You could have stayed if you wanted," she said. She felt a little guilty for keeping him from his many friends and acquaintances.

"During my date with my lovely Nanao-chan? Why would I want to do that?" He grinned at her. It was at least the tenth time he'd mentioned that they were on a date, and his satisfaction with that was all but radiating from his body.

She shook her head. They strolled down the street in the faint light of evening. His hand brushed against hers and she touched his palm with her fingers, wrapping her hand slightly around his before pulling back. He made a pleased sound and clasped his hand around hers. They walked down the quiet street, exchanging nods with people that they knew.

"Beautiful Nanao-chan, do you want to get a drink or perhaps something sweet?" he asked, watching her face as they moved.

Nanao breathed in the crisp air, felt the heat of his hand on hers, and knew what she would do, even as that small voice scolded her in the back of her mind. She raised her eyes to meet his gaze. "No. I want to go home early," she said, deliberately echoing one of their earlier conversations. She left off the 'and play in bed' part, but from the way his eyes changed he clearly grasped her meaning.

He stopped their forward motion and cupped her face with his free hand. "Anything for my Nanao-chan." He lowered his arm to hold her waist an instant before he stepped into a rapid shunpo.

*******************************

At his house she stepped away from him, trying to catch her breath. She bent to untie her shoes, but he knelt in front of her, grasping her right ankle in his hand. "What—" she started, but stopped when he ran one large hand down her calf.

"Let me," he said, and his voice was that dark tone that stirred her nerves to life.

He stroked her calf, eventually untying the ribbon on her shoe and sliding it off her foot. Nanao made a sound of pleasure when he massaged her arch and drew in a sharp breath when he kissed the top of her foot. His lips ran up the curves of her leg to the inside of her knee where he gave her skin a playful lick. Nanao leaned against the wall, watching him with narrowed eyes.

He repeated his attentions on her left leg, but kissed his way higher up her body, shifting her dress to expose a few inches of her thigh. She gasped when he licked a sensitive spot on the inside of her thigh. "What do you want, Nanao-chan?" His whiskers brushed against her skin as he spoke. She shivered.

"I want to take a bath," she said. Her heart was fluttering wildly and it was hard for her to stay in place.

He pulled back to see her face and nodded. "And then?"

She raised her eyes to his. "Yes." She didn't give an explanation but he didn't need one. That desire that had frightened her on previous occasions darkened his eyes, but she felt a rising excitement climbing with the fear.

He rose and pressed silky lips to her cheek. "Take your bath, Nanao-chan. I'll be waiting."

In the bathroom Nanao took her time, washing thoroughly with the lemon-perfumed soaps Shunsui had given her. She reveled in their scent and texture as she lavished attention on her hair and body. Sitting in the bath relaxed her. She ought to worry about a thousand things—about what she did know, what she didn't know, what they would do—but she felt calm.

Her decision was made, and for better or worse, she would go forward with Shunsui. She shivered a little, some of the excitement and fear returning to her. After the bath, she prevaricated over what to wear—she'd brought a sleeping robe and undergarments into the bathroom, but in the end she put on only the robe. He wanted to see her naked, and since she wanted the same thing, she saw the extra clothes as unnecessary. But it seemed like too much for her to walk out of the bathroom without anything on, so she wore the white robe.

When Nanao stepped out of the bathroom it was to the flickering light of candles. Shunsui sat on his heels on the bed, watching her. She sat down on her heels across from him, their knees nearly touching.

"You're so beautiful," he said, and brushed a hand down her cheek.

Nanao shook her head at him.

"It's true. You're beautiful." He took one of her hands between his. "I want you to know that that there hasn't been another woman in years. I've been waiting for you, Nanao."

Nanao looked down at their joined hands. Was it true? His face and voice were sincere. She tried not to follow his nocturnal activities since it was painful for her. When was the last time she'd heard about him and a woman? Some falsely concerned shinigami were always telling her rumors about him, hoping to get firsthand gossip on Nanao's reaction to his personal life.

"Years?" she asked, and cursed the hopeful rise in her voice.

"Four years. Not since that particular anniversary. You remember. I swear it, Nanao."

She believed him. Perhaps she was a fool, but she looked at his eyes and saw a hope there that mirrored her own. She looked away from him, blinking her eyes a few times. He'd waited for her. A sudden thought struck her and she laughed a little.

"What is it?" His eyes turned from hope to worry.

"I've waited longer, so much longer," she said. A small smile curved her lips.

"You've waited for me?" He sounded surprised.

She shook her head. "You have no idea."

"Tell me, please."

On to Chapter 23.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
darkmystcompel
Aug. 30th, 2011 07:01 am (UTC)
Poor Hitsugaya-Taicho! Someone's been taking advantage of the new captain!

Two absolute favourite moments in this chapter:
"Sweet, sweet Nanao-chan, say my name. Shunsui. Shhhhuuuuunnnssssuuuiiiii."
and
"But Nanao-chan, this isn't even our office. And it's Saturday."
I couldn't stop laughing :D

And another cruel cliffhanger! What a tease :P
r_dahlia
Aug. 30th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
It's so hard to know where to cut chapters! So I just picked a spot pretty arbitrarily, because otherwise all the chapters would be 9k words long. It does leave it hanging a bit! ^_^;

I don't know if they have the weekend off in Soul Society, but I am going with that! Nanao's professionalism is admirable, baffling, and amusing by turns. :P

I imagine Hitsugaya gets taken advantage of a bit, the poor guy! He needs Nanao to consult for him.
akai_miko
Aug. 30th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)

Oh oh oh! Im so happy! They finally will be heading further with they relationship. I liked action in Tenth office xd and only thing that's left for perverts(ekhem) to be delighted is...*drumroll* LEMON! yes do it! XD

r_dahlia
Aug. 30th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
Well, hopefully people will be happy with the content I've written. XD I'm surprised a bit how much people have responded this story - there's not a huge amount of "action" really, it's mostly emotional, so the enjoyment people have expressed has been really pleasant.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )