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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 15.
Chapter 1.

"That's not happening," Nanao said as she raised a brow at Shunsui's outstretched arms.

"But Nanao-chan, it's faster if I use my shunpo for both of us." He grinned.


"You let me do it yesterday, when we went to the Fourth." He curled an arm around her waist and she slapped his hand away with a fan, stepping nimbly out of his grasp.

"That was different. We're not going to our division party with you carrying me. We can't do things like that in front of our troops." Nanao narrowed her eyes as his grin widened. "Captain, we're going to be late."

"It's a party, Nanao-chan, not an appointment. And now I want to know what other kinds of things we can do when we aren't in front of our troops." He leaned over her, his hands reaching for her again.

Her brow twitched. Instead of replying, she sprung into her shunpo. He caught up with her before her second step and kept pace with her the rest of the way to the division.

At the division courtyard a cheer went up as the members of the Eighth greeted their captain as a returning hero. He was swiftly surrounded by excited people, all laughing and talking at once, sweeping him towards the open sliding doors of the common room.

Nanao followed behind the crowd. She was not entirely forgotten—a few people greeted her, and Third Seat Enjōji saw her and tried to hide himself behind a couple of female soldiers. The effort was a miserable failure as Enjōji was at least twice the size of the women.

At the doors to the common room, Nanao hesitated. Inside she could see Shunsui laughing and holding court at one of the long, low tables set up for the occasion, a drink already in his hand. The division members were enraptured by a story he was telling—likely an inappropriate one, judging from the color on Enjōji's face—and the scene felt complete as it was to Nanao.

She stepped away from the common room and went to the barracks instead, to her quarters. No one would miss her scolding them for spilling their drinks on the floor or reminding them that tomorrow would be a full work day.

She circled around her quarters, noticing how small they seemed after staying a few days at Shunsui's large house. Everything was neat and clean, her books arranged on shelves with a few trinkets and pictures on top of her bookcase. She had few other personal possessions beyond the clothes in her closet and the chest with her sewing and other projects stored inside. Her life seemed very small and a bit dull when measured by her quarters. What kind of a mark would she leave when she was gone?

She shook off the melancholy thought and walked briskly to her closet, taking out a bag and filling it with the things she would need for more days at Shunsui's house. Her clothes packed, she opened her project chest and pulled out a few works in progress, trying to decide which she should bring, and which supplies she would need.

"Bring the whole chest. It's not very large."

Nanao looked up, startled. Shunsui stood in the doorway to her quarters. "Why aren't you at the party?"

"Because my Nanao-chan isn't at the party." He crossed her quarters in a few steps and sat down beside her. "You're sneaky, clever Nanao-chan. I should have kept an arm around you after all, since you disappeared at the first opportunity. I was waiting for you at the party but you never came in."

Nanao stared down at her sewing projects. "I needed to get some things and I didn't think you would notice I was gone. There were so many people around you already. My presence wouldn't add anything."

"You think too little of yourself and of me if you imagine your absence would go unnoticed."

She occupied herself repacking her projects into the chest. "It isn't as if I am a great deal of fun at parties, captain."

"Captain again? What will it take for you to use my name?"

"We're at the division," Nanao said. She picked up her project chest and her packed bag and walked over to set them neatly at the door to her quarters.

"We're not working." He was behind her suddenly, his hand stroking over the curve of her neck and shoulder. Her body acted of its own accord to tip her head to the side and give him more access to her neck. His lips swooped down to lay a line of kisses from the curve of her jaw to the base of her neck. He licked at her speeding pulse, swirling his tongue around it. "I want you at the party beside me, precious."

Nanao didn't speak. He kissed new threads of kisses onto her neck, tugging aside the edge of her uniform to reach fresh skin for his lips. "Stop that, we're at work," she said, her voice was breathy and low.

He didn't stop, instead planting little licks on her exposed collarbone. It wasn't as if he were holding her down and preventing her from walking away—only his mouth was touching her—but Nanao couldn't find the motivation to move her feet.

Her uniform slipped open a little more. "Someone will come looking for you. It's a party in your honor."

He didn't answer, nuzzling down the exposed skin below her collarbone. She dug both hands into the hair on his head. Arousal and panic fought for dominance in a rising tide of feeling. "We have to go to the party," she said, a little desperately.

Shunsui stopped his kisses, moving back up her body to look into her eyes. "You want to go to the party?"

"No—yes—we're going." The last bit was snapped out.

"Anything lovely Nanao-chan wants." He smiled at her as she struggled to straighten her uniform with shaky hands. Her fingers ran across something stiff in her shirt and she remembered the note she'd written him earlier. This was as good of a time as any to give it to him—at least if they were at the party, he couldn't question her about it right away.

She tugged out the folded paper and handed it to him. "Here, take this."

"What is it?" he asked, unfolding the stiff page.

"It's not an itemized list, but it's your answer." She pivoted out the door as she spoke, walking quickly down the hall towards the common room.

Nanao opened the side door to the common room just as he caught up with her. "Sneaky," he murmured next to her ear. A collective cheer went up as the captain and vice captain of the Eighth reappeared at the party, now well underway.

Shunsui led her to his seat of honor and sat down, trying to tuck Nanao into his side. Nanao gave him a sharp elbow to the ribs and shifted over a respectable distance. Conversation flowed around them as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, because it hadn't. Their captain going too far with Vice Captain Ise and getting slapped back was entirely normal in the Eighth.

The party was enjoyable for Nanao. Unlike some other occasions where he'd seemed determined to embarrass her by forcing her to participate as much as he could, Shunsui took a quieter approach, making sure her drink was full and that she had the opportunity to sample all of the party food she liked. Nanao nibbled through some steamed pork buns and a few pastries filled with sweet bean paste.

One of the female Ninth Seats approached her timidly to ask about the advanced kidō course Nanao was scheduled to teach tomorrow. Nanao assured the young woman that she would be at work tomorrow and would teach all her courses.

Shunsui leaned towards her after the girl left their table. "You're going to work tomorrow?"

"Yes, I'm going to work. I have classes and training to lead, as I do every Thursday, captain." Was it only a few days ago that she'd been called to the First and Shunsui had left for war? How strange time was, moving sometimes so quickly she could hardly recall it and sometimes so slowly every heartbeat was recorded in her memory.

"But what about me? I need my Nanao-chan's tender care to recover from my injuries," he said, pouting a little.

"I will heal you before I leave for work and then at night as usual. Although you are more than well enough now to resume your usual activities at work, captain." She took a bite of a pastry, savoring the flavor and texture in her mouth.

"But I need lots of rest to recover fully, Nanao-chan." His eyes were riveted to her mouth, sending a little tingle through her. She licked her lips.

"As I said, you could certainly take up your usual activities at work. After all, napping at the office should be just as restful as napping at home." She wondered if she could have another piece of pastry without seeming greedy. They were quite small.

Shunsui handed her a pastry. How had he known she wanted one? "About your note, Nanao-chan. I'm going to meet your condition, sweetheart. And thank you."

Nanao glanced around to make sure no one was listening, but Shunsui's low murmur had disappeared into the ocean of sound around them. "What are you thanking me for?" she asked, a little puzzled. She'd thought he'd be more put off by the contents of her note than anything else; her request was vague and likely impossible to fulfill.

"For not giving up on us." His eyes were dark, melting and intense. Nanao flushed and looked down at the pastry in her hand. She took a bite just to occupy her mouth. She wasn't sure what she might say and this wasn't the environment to just let her lips do as they might like.

Nanao could feel the heat of his gaze on her face and she glanced back up at him. Her breath caught at the expression on his face, her eyes snared by his. The party continued, raucous around them, but she was oblivious to it.

A shinigami approached with several fresh jars of sake balanced on a tray, handing them to revelers or setting them down on the tables at designated spots. He stopped in front of Nanao and Shunsui and selected a jar for them. He had just lifted the jar from the tray and started to bend over their table when he was jostled from the back by a drunken shinigami. The jar of sake flew out of his hand, spilling all over Nanao and breaking on the table in front of her, splashing alcohol and pieces of ceramic on her uniform.

Nanao drew in a sharp breath at the surprise and the wetness. She stood up, brushing at her soaked uniform, pushing pieces of wet hair behind her ears. The shinigami delivering the sake babbled apologies, which Nanao waved away. It wasn't his fault.

Suddenly Nanao was the center of attention, several members rushing towards her with napkins and expressions of concern. She was intensely uncomfortable and hurried to assure everyone that she was fine, but they continued to surround her.

Then Shunsui was there beside her, flashing her from the crowd to one of the side doors of the common room. "I'd like to thank everyone for a wonderful party. Nanao-chan and I need to leave now. Captain Unohana's orders," he added when there were several protests and groans from the crowd. "Please have a good time during the rest of the party—there's plenty of food and drink for everyone!" Nanao tugged on his haori and whispered something in his ear. "Nanao-chan would like for me to remind everyone that work will continue as scheduled tomorrow," he said with a grin. There were cheers and laughs from the crowd.

He flashed them to her quarters, picking up her bag and chest and holding them with one arm, his other latched around Nanao's waist. "You'll get wet," she protested.

"I already have. Don't worry about it, Nanao-chan." He stepped into shunpo and they were at his house before Nanao had finished drawing in her breath to protest again.

He'd brought them to the front of the house, but Nanao pulled away from him and went around the side, to the sliding door at his bedroom. He followed her. She was shivering as the cool air chilled the sake on her uniform. "I don't want to get everything wet. Can you please bring a uniform to your bathroom? There should be a couple in the closet in the room with my things."

"Of course, Nanao-chan."

She stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. She stripped off the wet pieces of her uniform and hung them on a rack to dry. Her undergarments she bundled neatly and set aside. She would take those to the guest room and take care of them there, hopefully avoiding Shunsui's interest.

Nanao sighed, smiling a little wryly. This was not exactly the outcome she'd hoped for when she'd been mesmerized by Shunsui's eyes. Somehow she didn't think it was what he'd hoped for either, though she was now naked in his house, which he would probably consider an upside.

Anything that involved Nanao with fewer clothes was a highlight for Shunsui. Unfortunately those moments were usually terrible embarrassments for Nanao. "I have no luck," she whispered, and sat down on the bathing stool.

Nanao washed quickly, shivering as the hot water struck the cold spots the sake left on her body. She ruthlessly scrubbed away the scent and stickiness lingering on her skin. This was a less than ideal ending to the party, but she supposed it could have been worse. The young shinigami could have spilled a jar of sake and a full plate of food on her uniform.

She sighed, relaxing a little in the warm air scented with her lemon soap. At least Shunsui had kept away the well-meaning members of their division trying to dry her off with napkins and ushered her home quickly. Lingering at the party had lost its appeal.

Finished with washing, she straightened her bath things on the shelf and toweled her hair reasonably dry. She patted her skin dry and wrapped herself in a bath towel. Shunsui really needed larger towels, she thought as she tugged on the hem of the cloth, trying to cover more of her legs.

She opened the door and half-stepped into the dim bedroom, looking around for the yukata Shunsui should have left. Not finding anything, she called out, "Captain? Did you bring me clothes? I can't find anything."

Shunsui entered the bedroom. He'd changed into a blue yukata and carried a white sleeping robe in his hands. It wasn't quite what she'd asked for, but it would do. "Thank you," she said, but he set the robe neatly at the end of the futon. "What are you doing?" She scowled and left the safety of the doorway to retrieve the robe.

One of his hands came down lightly on her shoulder, stroking. She stopped moving, her heart fluttering. "My Nanao-chan wants to be courted. I want to give you what you want, and I want you to understand how precious you are to me."

He handed her a fat jar. She turned it over in her hands, trying to see if there was a label in the dim light. It was impossible to make out words. She twisted the top off and sniffed; it was scented with lemon and other tangy notes that she couldn't individualize. It smelled lovely to Nanao; not too sweet and not too loud, it was instead crisp and fresh. "What is it?"

"It's a skin cream scented with a fragrance that I had made for you. There's also a bottle of fragrance and a few other things for you as well. But there's no one else in the world that has this perfume. It's unique to you, Nanao-chan."

"You had this made for me?" She turned the jar over in her hands. "Thank you."

He dipped a couple fingers in the cream and brought it back up to her shoulder, rubbing the cream into her skin, gently working the knots in her muscles. The sensation was wonderful—warming and relaxing. Nanao almost protested when he drew his hand away after a minute. "I want to massage your back with this cream, Nanao-chan."


"You've hardly relaxed at all these last few days, and you're going to work tomorrow. This will relax you. You'll feel more rested and refreshed afterwards." Nanao looked at his face, but it was earnest and his eyes weren't teasing.

"Where would we do this?" Her hands fidgeted with the towel.

"With you on your stomach on the futon. You can keep the towel over the areas you don't want me to massage."

"And you won't try to—" she let the words hang, not sure what she wanted to forbid, just that she should forbid something.

"I won't take advantage of you, Nanao-chan. That would be completely opposed to my effort to court you." His lips curved into a small smile.

She hesitated. Nanao wondered if perhaps this was not a good idea; it could make their footing in the relationship even more unequal by giving him experience with her body specifically to add to his already extensive knowledge of women in general. She'd discovered he liked to be touched by her, but that was as far as her experience with him had reached, and it wasn't as if she had stores of previous experiences to use. But she wanted so much to be touched by him, and there was no one she trusted more—if he said he wouldn't take advantage of her, he meant it.

His hand ghosted back up her shoulder to stroke her skin.

"Yes," she said, surprising herself a little. She stepped hesitantly to the bed, lying down carefully to avoid exposing herself. Her hands fussed the towel free from under her, and she hesitated with the edges in her hands.

"Let me, Nanao-chan." Shunsui took the towel edges from her and folded it neatly down her back until it covered her buttocks and nothing else. Nanao tensed, but Shunsui just sat back on his knees beside her. She could smell the delicious cream and hear him rubbing his hands together.

His touch was firm and gentle and Nanao thought it might be tinted with a healing kidō, but perhaps he was simply very skilled. He worked out all the tension in her shoulders, and then glided up her neck in a way that felt so good she nearly moaned aloud. When he made long strokes down her back her eyes slid closed. When he used more pressure on her lower back she did moan out loud, but she couldn't bring herself to feel embarrassed, especially when he lavished the area with extra attention.

She wasn't sure how much time passed while he massaged her back, but he left no skin neglected. When he finally pulled his hands away she felt warm and relaxed. A liquid heat pooled in her belly, as it always did when he touched her, but that too was slow and relaxed.
His hands reappeared on one of her feet, rubbing tension out of her arch. Nanao sighed with pleasure. This was possibly the most decadent experience she'd ever had.

"Do you want me to stop?"

"Don't stop." Nanao was surprised by the sound of her voice. It was low and almost melting in a way she'd never heard herself sound before. But Nanao was relaxed and melting in a way she'd never been. She felt at that moment that she was actually precious to him. He said words to that effect often, in jest and in seriousness, but she'd never really believed him. What was precious about someone as ordinary as her? But his hands stroked her skin with such care and gentleness that she began to believe in his sincerity.

And there was the perfume. He couldn't have taken that up on a whim this week—he would have had to find a perfumer, have the fragrance created to meet his specifications, and then have it made into the cream and the other things he'd gotten her. Something like this could have taken months. The fragrance itself was perfect to Nanao, and that was also a feat of care and attention on his part.

His hands glided up her legs, lavishing his touch on all the muscles he could reach with her resting on her stomach. As he massaged her thighs she parted her legs slightly so he would be able to reach more skin. The liquid heat in her belly rose and wove through her body, sparking her nerves awake and exquisitely aware of every stroke of Shunsui's hands on her legs. Nanao wanted—needed—more, and when he finally pulled his hands away from her body when they touched the hem of the towel she made a small noise of protest.

"Nanao," he said. She shifted her head to look at him through half-lidded eyes. "I promised you I wouldn't take advantage of you."

"Don't I get to decide when it's taking advantage?" Her voice had the same sound has had surprised her earlier, and she named it now. It was a sensuous voice, a bedroom voice, something that had never come from her lips before.

"What you might decide now and what you might think of that decision later could be very different things," he said, his face strained. His eyes didn't match his words. They were dark and full of the desire that had taken her breath away before, heated and burning.

She was both touched and annoyed by his consideration. He wasn't wrong that she might regret her boldness now at a later time; it was only yesterday she'd wanted to end their relationship less than a day after it started.

Nanao scowled at him. Why did he have to be sensible when she wanted to be thoughtless? "That's very honorable of you. Turn around, then." There was a bite in her voice although her words were complimentary; both her words and her tone were honest, although contradictory. She waited until his back was turned and picked up the white sleeping robe, kneeling to put it on.

"Nanao-chan?" he asked, surprised, as she pulled on his yukata top from behind.

"I have to do a healing session. I didn't do one last night, and if you miss too many you won't be fully restored in a timely fashion," she snapped, her good mood disintegrating. Heat was still roiling through her body and she almost ached with need.

Wordlessly he shrugged out of his sleeves. She tried to restore her equilibrium—kidō was stronger when done with a high level of focus—but after a minute of deep breaths she realized it was futile and began the healing anyway.

As she always did she started with her hands on his worst wounds—the sword slash from Aizen and the cero wound—though they were now well on their way to healing fully. When she had a good kidō working on his wounds she sent her reiatsu through his whole body, following with the healing spell.

His reaction was not as usual. He arched his back as if to escape her touch when she sent her reiatsu through him, but then leaned back heavily into her hands, shuddering a little. "What is it? What's wrong?" Nanao began to pull back her kidō and her reiatsu. He put a heavy hand on her leg and she froze altogether, not certain if she should withdraw or continue.

"I can feel it through your reiatsu," he said, stroking her thigh.

"You feel what in my reiatsu? I don't understand." She was puzzled; what she did to him was a high level healing technique, but there shouldn't be any strange effects, and she'd done this to him successfully several times now.

"I'll show you." He sent a light pulse of reiatsu towards her, and when she nodded he pushed it into her body. Nanao gasped. The sensation was incredible—she could feel his reiatsu like a caress as it flowed through her, and more than that, she could feel the imprint of his desire for her in his reiatsu. It was intimate and powerful and arousing.

Nanao ran a hand down his back and felt his reiatsu jump inside her body, which made her own nerves dance in response. "What is this? It isn't supposed to happen. Does it feel like this when Captain Unohana heals you?"

"No, this never happens when I'm healed by the Fourth. They have a lot of training to make their healing process clinical and impersonal. And it's not triggered by the healing specifically, but by the reiatsu sharing."

"I'm sorry. I never meant to make you uncomfortable," Nanao said, with her cheeks flushed. She let the healing kidō die out and began to withdraw her reiatsu.

Shunsui spun around to embrace her, dropping one hand on her back and tipping her head up with the other, so he could see her face. "Don't be sorry. If it's uncomfortable, it's only in the most delicious ways."

He planted soft kisses on her cheek and jaw, teasing a little at her lips without kissing them fully. Nanao let her reiatsu flow back into him fully and he groaned in reaction. He pulled her into his lap and tucked her against his chest, stroking her hair with one large hand. She moved a little in his lap and felt both her own pleasure at the movement and his reiatsu spiking. He stilled her with a heavy hand on her hip.

"I never read about this in any of my kidō manuals, not even the Unabridged Encyclopedia."

He laughed. "This isn't the kind of thing they put in textbooks. If they do, it'd be phrased so vaguely you'd never know what it was talking about."

She frowned. "Still," she said, disturbed by the idea of books leaving out vital information.

"It isn't a very common reaction, sweetheart. If it were, people would be happier to be stuck at the Fourth."

"Then it's because you and I are—" she stopped, uncertain of what she wanted to say. Because they were lovers? They weren't, not yet. Because they were attracted to each other? Surely it would be a more common reaction among shinigami if it was simply that. Because they were close? They were, but it didn't feel like the right word.


He swung her gently into the bed and came in behind her to cradle her. He pulled his reiatsu out of her body and wrapped it around them like a blanket. Nanao drew back her reiatsu and relaxed in the comfort of being surrounded by him. The burning need in her body eased down to embers that could be easily rekindled by the right touch.

"Nanao, I know what I want with you—I want everything with you. But you should have the same certainty about anything that happens between us. We can go as slowly as you like. I want to touch you, to taste you. I want to bring you pleasure and hear you say my name. When you're ready, I'll be here."

"What about you?" she asked in a whisper.

He kissed her temple. "I've waited a long time for you; I can wait a little longer. You're my priority. Besides, there's a certain pleasure in anticipation."

"Is there really?" Nanao thought of the ache and the heat of her desire and couldn't find any enjoyment in having it thwarted.

"If my Nanao-chan doesn't find any pleasure in anticipation, I am prepared to give satisfaction at any time," he said in a silky murmur near her ear.

She shivered against him. It was a most appealing offer.

On to Chapter 17.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
Gah. Gah! You took this from humour (I can just picture Enjōji trying to hide!) to sweetness to hotness. And it worked beautifully! Although leaving the chapter there was a little mean... what a cliffhanger!

Can't wait for more :D
Aug. 11th, 2011 05:56 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter, and that the various tones worked. Ha, cutting chapters up is actually something I find a bit difficult, I never know what the best spot is, and it's usually pretty arbitrary. This one does leave it hanging a bit! ;)
Aug. 11th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Although isn't Shun's eyes gray in the anime? And you asked on ff.net whether we mind if the rating changed to M. No complaints here. This is an awesome story that develops both of them instead of just tossing them into bed with each other. Can't wait for more.
Aug. 11th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, good catch! When I originally wrote this story, I was under the impression his eyes were brown, from the art book, but I looked it up later and saw they were gray. I've probably missed a few references to the color when I was doing edits. I'm glad you're enjoying this story, thanks for reading!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )