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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 4.
Chapter 1.

The gate between Soul Society and the false Karakura bustled with activity. Triage teams streamed in and out, hurrying to aid Captain Unohana with healing in false Karakura, returning to the Fourth Division with wounded shinigami on stretchers. Soldiers from other divisions provided additional muscle as needed. Overall, it appeared to Nanao that the triage plans were functioning well two and a half hours into the recovery effort.

She walked over to one of the Fourth Division officers coordinating the entrances and exits of the triage teams. "How are things working here? Do you need additional support?"

"Things are going as smoothly as can be expected. The support from other divisions has been great," the female officer said, looking up from her clipboard.

Nanao nodded. "Has Vice Captain Sasakibe returned yet?"

"He'll be returning soon. The captain commander will require a lot of additional stabilization in false Karakura, so Vice Captain Sasakibe is returning to Soul Society in advance of him." The small woman turned to shout at a triage team rushing towards the gate. "Make certain you retrieve any lost limbs for reattachment!"

The triage team entered the gate and disappeared into the blinding light. "Will you be able to reattach the dismembered limbs?" Nanao asked, curious.

"It depends on how they were lost, the condition of the limb, and how quickly we can begin the kidō surgery. Truthfully only the higher ranking officers of our division can do work like that successfully. We're going to be really busy for the next few weeks."

"I see. Ah, could you please tell me if Captain Kyōraku has returned yet?"

The woman flipped through some pages on her clipboard. "Yes, he was brought to the Fourth about fifty minutes ago. He was stable with no limb dismemberment."

"Thank you," Nanao said. He's not dead. She nodded to the woman and moved slightly away from the gate, to avoid being an obstacle. Although the desire to go to the Fourth immediately and see Captain Kyōraku was strong she did not move. Nanao was still in command of the Gotei 13.

Until she could report in to Vice Captain Sasakibe and be relieved of her command, duty must come before anything else. She dreaded telling him of the events of earlier today, when she had both disobeyed an order from the Central 46 and attacked an officer of the Kidō Corps.

The gate flared and Sasakibe walked out alone. He looked nearly the same as he had when he'd left, just a little dustier.
Nanao stepped towards him. "Sasakibe-san. I hope you are well."

"Thank you, Ise-san. I am well. How are things here?"

"The triage plans are functioning as intended. I've left a log of my other activities during my command at the First Division office. Would you like me to report now?" She walked with him towards the First.

"Unless there is some pressing matter that will impact command going forward, I would prefer to wait for your full written report, if you do not mind, Ise-san. There are some preparations necessary for the captain commander's arrival that I need to see to." Now that Nanao was next to him, she could see the dark circles under his eyes and the deep lines of weariness around his mouth.

"I do not mind Sasakibe-san. I will prepare my written report and have it sent to First Division as soon as I can." Nanao was careful to keep her tone even and professional, although she felt a wave of relief wash over her. At least she would not be arrested for a few days. She would be able to stay with Captain Kyōraku at the Fourth.

"Under the circumstances, as long as we have a completed report within the next few days, there is not a rush."

Nanao nodded. "Thank you, Sasakibe-san."

"If there is nothing else, Ise-san, I will relieve you of the command of the Gotei 13. Thank you for your excellent service during this difficult time."

"Thank you, Sasakibe-san. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance." Nanao bowed and said goodbye, then flashed into shunpo towards the Fourth.

She entered the hospital at the Fourth and stepped into a low-grade hurricane. Shinigami rushed through the halls, barely avoiding collisions. Members of the Eleventh argued in the waiting room over who would see Captain Zaraki first, a few of them coming to blows. Officers from other divisions, including the Eighth, talked loudly, opening drinking sake.

A timid looking man Nanao recognized as a Fourteenth Seat of the Fourth was talking to the room. "Um, this isn't really a good day to visit. Captain Zaraki and the other members of the Eleventh will be released soon, and we have a lot of patients today, so if you could just—"
A few of the men from the Eleventh leered at him and reached their hands towards their swords.

"May I?" Nanao asked, tapping the Fourteenth Seat on the shoulder.

"Oh, Vice Captain Ise, please, go ahead," he said, shrinking away from the waiting room.

Nanao whistled loudly. The occupants of the room all turned their heads towards her. "Good afternoon. I know you all wish to visit your injured officers, and I am certain that they would appreciate the sentiment. However, wounded shinigami are still being brought in from the battle and the Fourth Division is extremely busy today. If you would like to leave notes or packages for your officers here, I will have them delivered. For the sake of the health of the injured, the Fourth Division would be grateful if you would all return to your divisions and visit at a later date."

Most of the room emptied at her words, several people stacking items onto a chair that Nanao indicated. She nodded to room, pleased. With a gesture she drew aside a member of the Eighth and then requested that he have report supplies sent over for her use and inform the division that Third Seat Enjōji was to remain in charge at the Eighth, although she would be available here if they had important questions. The officer nodded and left for the Eighth.

Only members of the Eleventh remained in the room, though they cowered slightly under Nanao's glare. "It is not too late to send the Twelfth new volunteers for medical testing," she said.

The room emptied completely in seconds.

"Oh wow," the Fourteenth Seat whispered. "Vice Captain Ise, that was amazing. Thank you. I was afraid those guys were going to destroy the waiting room and maybe me, too."

"If I may make a recommendation? When dealing with the Eleventh Division, remember that there are three things they are all afraid of: Twelfth Division experiments, your Captain Unohana, and their own Vice Captain Kusajishi. Those three things are the most effective levers to get their members to behave properly."

"Wow. I'll have to try that out. Well, at least tell the higher seats about it, in case they want to try it out."

Nanao nodded. "If you have the time, I would appreciate it if you could direct me to Captain Kyōraku's room."

The Fourteenth Seat hesitated.

"Naturally, if I am here, I will make myself available to assist with any disruptions that may occur, so that the Fourth can conduct their important work uninterrupted."

The young officer's face brightened at the thought of having Nanao face down any further visitors from the Eleventh. "It's no problem at all, Vice Captain Ise. I can take you to Captain Kyōraku's room right now. He is not actively receiving treatment."

He led Nanao through the corridors of the Fourth and up to the third floor. Outside of a room, he stopped and picked up a clipboard, flipping through the pages. "The triage team suggested that Captain Kyōraku could wait for further treatments until he wakes up from sedation, since he is stable now and his wounds are in relatively fair shape. If he wakes up, please keep him still, because although the wounds are closed, they could easily reopen. Ah, he will likely not have the use of his right arm for a time because of the location of one of the sword wounds. He's also had a head injury due to heavy impact. He may be disoriented. Please tell someone when he does wake up so we can check him."

"Thank you." Nanao nodded to the Fourteenth Seat and entered the hospital room. The light in this room was dim, and she realized there were no lamps on yet. The sun was dipping low outside the window. Captain Kyōraku lay on his stomach, his head turned towards the window.

She walked around the room, turning on the lamps on the side of the room away from the window. When she was satisfied that the room was bright enough for her to work on her report to First Division but would not disturb Captain Kyōraku, she reluctantly approached the bed.
His chestnut hair was badly tangled, some of it still wrapped in his hair tie and some of it loose and crusted with dried blood. One of his hairpins still stuck out of the hair tie, but the other had fallen out and gotten caught in a knot at the back of his head. It would take a serious washing and a lot of effort to straighten out the mess of his hair. Nanao extracted the hairpin in his hair tie and carefully worked the other out of his hair, succeeding after several minutes.

She set them on the bedside table. When she smoothed the hair overhanging his face back, her breath caught. His left temple and cheek were bruised purple and black. He must have tried to break his fall after Aizen cut through him, but judging from the damage to his face and the bandages wrapped up his left hand and arm, he hadn't totally succeeded.

His back was completely covered in bandages down to where the blanket came up over his waist. He hadn't died, but he'd come much too close to it for Nanao's comfort.

"You idiot. You unbelievable idiot," she said, bending over his face. Her captain did not stir.

She brushed one hand lightly over an unbruised spot on his jaw. "You idiot," she whispered, and blinked back tears.

At the sound of footsteps in the hall she jerked upright. A soft knock at the door followed and she walked over to open it. It was an unranked shinigami from the Eighth with her report supplies. He tried to catch a glimpse of Captain Kyōraku over her shoulder.

Nanao thanked him for the supplies, and seeing worry as well as curiosity in his face, she said: "Please inform the division that although the captain's injuries are quite serious, he will recover. As soon as he is well enough, we'll come to the division, perhaps have a small party. I'll let the Third Seat know when that will be. Until then, if everyone could please refrain from visiting him here at the Fourth, that would be for the best. You must have noticed how busy it is here."

He nodded.

"The captain will be fine. I am going to stay here with him and make sure he receives all appropriate care."

He smiled at her words. "Thanks, Vice Captain Ise. I'll let everyone know."

After the division member left, Nanao closed the door and carried the report supplies to the chair beside the bed in the lit side of the room. There wasn't an appropriate table to work on, so she decided to go borrow one from the Fourth.

"I'll be right back," she said, leaning over the bed.

In the hall Nanao cornered a harried looking nurse. She told Nanao there was a table that Nanao could take from the staff room, if she wanted. The nurse's stomach growled while she was talking and she pressed her hands over it in embarrassment.

"Have you eaten dinner yet?" Nanao asked.

"No, there's just no time to go down to the mess hall. Please excuse me, Vice Captain Ise."

The nurse ran off down the corridor and Nanao frowned. How many members of the Fourth were not eating? It was now approaching eight o'clock in the evening and the Fourth had been working hard since early afternoon. It wouldn't do for the healers to go without food, even if they were taking their energy pills. Nanao extracted the location of the mess hall from another nurse carrying a huge mound of bandages and headed in that direction.

At the mess hall, she spoke to the woman in charge and arranged for trays of sandwiches and pots of soup to be delivered to all of the staff rooms in the hospital with appropriate dishes and utensils. Nanao thought for a few minutes, and then made further arrangements. Similar simple meals were to be delivered to the staff rooms at regular intervals tomorrow. She might be overstepping her authority, but Nanao believed it was important enough to risk a future rebuke from Captain Unohana.

Heading back upstairs, she stopped at a nurse's station on each floor to let them know that food would be available in all staff rooms soon and asked that they spread that news to other members of the Fourth. She also inquired into the status of the other wounded shinigami. Captain Kyōraku would want updates about his friends when he woke up.

By the time she returned to Captain Kyōraku's room with her borrowed table and a couple of the sandwiches she'd taken from the mess hall nearly an hour had passed. She yawned widely and sat back in the chair. Weariness washed over her. The past few days had stressed her severely, and it wasn't as if she'd gotten a lot of rest with the weight of the secret orders from Central 46 and her fears for Captain Kyōraku's life hanging over her head.

With a sigh Nanao straightened the report supplies on the table and picked up her brush. She had no doubt that the awful vice captain of the Kidō Corps would rush to report her crimes in the command post to First Division. Her formal report, complete, accurate and timely, might be the only real defense she could muster.

But it wasn't really much of a defense to admit to disobeying the Central 46 and using kidō to bind a fellow officer.

Certainly she would be punished. Most likely she would be stripped of her rank, but beyond that, Nanao wasn't sure. Would they put her in Maggot's Nest, the prison that the Second Division maintained? Did her crimes warrant exile from Soul Society or perhaps even execution?
She rubbed a hand over her temple. Again she wondered what her captain would have done in her place, and what he would think of her actions when he found out. Since the confidentiality of the orders and the events was still in place, Nanao wouldn't even be able to discuss it with him when he woke up, although truthfully that was a bit of a relief for her. She wasn't prepared to face his reaction.

Disappointment at her failure? Anger at her disobedience? Sadness at her likely removal from her position as his vice captain? Any and all of those reactions were possible, and she would accept any delay to avoid them. Somehow she was less worried about what the captain commander would do to her than she was about what Captain Kyōraku would think of her.

She shook her head and dipped the brush into ink. All of that was worry for another day. Right now all she could do was work on her report and wait for her captain to wake up.

On to Chapter 6.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2011 07:40 am (UTC)
This is wonderful. I love the way you write Nanao, thank-you so much for sharing!
Jul. 17th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )