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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
Contains: Consensual adult activity.  The first section contains this content; it is plot-relevant, but could be skipped; if you wish to skip it, the second and third section do not contain adult content.
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 23.
Chapter 1.

Nanao emerged from her reverie, watching Shunsui with interest.  He looked stunned as he recalled that long ago day.  “You’ve waited for me since then?”
“From that day.”  Nanao was shocked by how calm she felt when she was standing on the edge of doing all but admitting her love.  Even if she held back the words, Shunsui was a clever man.  He would easily grasp the implications of her actions.
“And you never—there was no one else?”
“How could there be?” she asked simply.  It was obvious to Nanao that pursuing relationships would have been pointless; her heart was occupied, whether she’d wanted it to be or not.
“Nanao—” he said, and she was surprised by how tender and sad his eyes were.  He cupped her face in his hands.  “I’m so sorry, Nanao.  If I’d known—” He stopped abruptly.  His mouth opened, but no words came out.
"Why should you be sorry?  You didn’t do anything wrong.  I told you that before.  Your life is your own.  I had no reason to expect you to behave otherwise.”
He looked pained.  “I love you.”  He dusted small kisses across her cheeks and lips.  “You’re the woman I love, the only one.”
She smiled slightly.  “When you say it like that, I can nearly believe it.”
“Believe me.  I’m going to prove myself to you.  I told you that after you gave me your note, remember?  I promised I would meet your condition,” he said.  He dropped soft kisses her forehead, her nose, and her lips.
I need proof of your love.  Nanao remembered the note of cryptic words and his sincere response at the party.  What constituted proof of love she wasn’t sure; but Shunsui seemed so confident that she felt happiness fluttering out from her heart.
“Tonight is for you,” he murmured, kissing down the column of her neck.  She tipped her head to the side to give him more access.  He nibbled and teased at the joint of her neck and shoulder. 
She untied the sash at her waist and the robe slipped loose.  Shunsui smiled against her skin, pulling back as he pushed the robe off of her shoulders with his hands.  She shrugged out of the robe, gathering it up and folding it.  He watched her set it neatly beside the bed and then rest her hands in her naked lap.
“Is something wrong?” she asked when he continued to stare at her with those dark and glittering eyes.  She swallowed once.
“You could be in the office, sitting so straight and proper.”  He smiled.
“Should I do something else?”  Her hands fidgeted a little.
“No.  This is perfect.  I’m going to sit in the office and in meetings with Yama-jii and remember you like this.”  He wrapped his hands gently around her shoulders and guided her down to the bed.
She lay on her back with him lounging beside her, leaning over her chest with his weight propped up on one hand.  He traced lazy circles around her breasts with one finger.  “You shouldn’t be distracted in meetings,” she scolded, but sounded breathless.
“Why not?  The only one it would be hard on is me.”  He licked at her nipple with just the tip of his tongue and she arched her back.  He rewarded her by taking her nipple into his mouth and sucking on it.  She gasped at the sensation and drew her hands through his hair.  “I thought you’d have something on under the robe,” he said, licking a path up her breast to her neck.
“I thought it would be inefficient and unnecessary.  Did you want me to wear something else?”  Her brows drew together, though she was having trouble pulling up words as one of his hands roamed over her skin.
“Mmm.  No.  This is perfect, too.  You’re delicious, Nanao.”  He brought his mouth up to hers for a kiss.  She opened her mouth for him without prompting and he teased her with his tongue, leading her into a sensual dance.
 A small sound escaped her throat into his mouth.  He made a pleased noise and drew his hands down her body, brushing over her breasts and thighs, but avoiding the place where she desired his touch the most.  He gave her long, drugging kisses until her hips arched up at the slight brush of his hand on her stomach.
Nanao couldn’t think.  She was overwhelmed with sensation, with need.  He pulled away from her lips to see her face clearly.  She watched him through heavy eyes, licking her swollen lips.  “Beautiful, Nanao,” he murmured, brushing his thumb over her bottom lip.
He took his time, as leisurely about this as he was about everything.  He explored all of the details of her skin, pausing here and there to stroke the curves of her body, lowering his head to taste her flesh.  The bend of her elbow, the dip of her navel, the arch of her foot—each was lavished with his careful attentions.  Only one place on her body was ignored; she ached to be touched between her legs, but he skimmed around the area, teasing near and then away with his fingertips.
He spent another eternity teasing at her breasts, licking and suckling, pinching and tweaking.  She was sweating and shaking, small noises escaping her mouth with every new manipulation of his hands and lips.  But still he wouldn’t touch her center.
Finally she tugged at his head, hard, her hands tangled in his hair.  She parted her legs slightly and said “Please,” but her voice was demanding instead of begging.
He smiled at her as if he’d been waiting for an invitation.  “Anything for you.”  He slipped one large hand between her legs, sliding a finger gently into her body.  He rubbed her eager flesh with his thumb, circling slowly. But she was so heated and needy she peaked right away, clamping her legs over his hand.
She dropped back into awareness slowly.  Her voice made little noises at the twinges of pleasure he extracted with a few more slow movements of his hand.  She could feel his eyes on her face, as they’d been the whole time he’d touched her.  Still, she couldn’t summon up any embarrassment, even when he pulled his hand away from her center and tasted the tips of his wet fingers.
“Delicious Nanao, do you want more?”  He teased at one of her breasts with a fingertip.
"Captain—” Nanao said, but couldn’t find any more words.
“No, Nanao.  Shunsui.  Say my name, sweetheart.”  He rolled her nipple gently between two fingers and she gave a small moan.
She opened her mouth but his name wouldn’t come out.  Decades of restraining herself from ever letting anything as intimate as ‘Shunsui’ pass her lips held her back.  She’d said it before in this room when she was alone and had allowed her secret dreams to escape, but with his dark eyes on her face, with her body naked before him, she felt exposed and vulnerable.  Calling him captain left a small distance between them that she clung to as a safety, even though she’d been thinking of him as Shunsui for days in all her thoughts and for years in all her dreams.  “I can’t say it,” she said.  She flushed and looked away.
“Yes, you can.  You just need the proper motivation.  What if I spelled it out for you?  Would that help?”
She stared at him wordlessly.  He moved between her legs, parting them to expose her to him.  Her eyes widened when she felt the exquisite brush of his tongue against her overheated folds.  “You can’t!”
“I am.”  He wrote his name against her center with careful strokes of his tongue.  Nanao struggled to hold herself still, but by the second drawing of his name she was moving against him, trying to press herself more fully against his tongue.  He held her hips, locking her in place.
“Please, oh please,” she said, and this time it was closer to begging.
“You know what to say.  I’ll do anything you want, if you say my name.”  His voice was like silk sliding over her skin.  He kissed the inside of her thigh as he waited for her response.
Nanao wanted to say it, to gift him this piece of intimacy, but something held her back.  Her instinct for self-preservation was too strong.  “I can’t.”  She shook her head.
Shunsui kissed his way back down her thigh.  He continued to torment her with his tongue, backing off when she was too close to orgasm.  Her legs trembled and her breath came in small pants.  She lasted through four endless writings of his name, her hands tangling in his hair, clutching at his arms, desperate for release.  He rose up to meet her narrowed eyes.  “Nanao.  My precious Nanao.  Please say my name.  I’ll treasure it; I’ll treasure you.  I promise.”
She looked into his eyes, and the yearning there crumbled her last barriers.  Her lips parted and she gave voice to her secret dreams.  “Shunsui.  Please, Shunsui,” she whispered.
He rewarded her immediately, taking her most sensitive flesh into his mouth, licking and suckling her.  She climaxed quickly, sobbing his name, clutching at the blankets and twisting them in her hands.  He didn’t move away until she eased back onto the bed, breathing hard.
Shunsui lay down beside her, propping his head up on an elbow.  He raised his other hand to her cheek, cupping her face and then caressing her neck.  He rested his hand on her left breast, to feel her racing heart.  “Thank you, Nanao.”
Nanao’s hand came up to curl around his.  “Shunsui.”
Her heart slowed gradually.  He lifted her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles, her fingers and the palm of her hand.  She stared at him, her eyes sleepy and her lips swollen.  “I love the way you say my name, beautiful Nanao,” he said.  He held her hand to his cheek.
“Aren’t you going to—” she asked.
He shook his head.  “I told you, tonight is for you.”  He smiled.
She shivered.  “Shunsui.”
He stroked his hand down her body approvingly.  “My Nanao-chan is such a fast learner.”

On Sunday Shunsui persuaded her to picnic with him in the park.  She wore a dark blue yukata with a pattern of autumn leaves falling on the fabric, only a few at the top but increasing to many at the bottom of the garment.  Shunsui proclaimed her the queen of the season.  She shook her head at him, but smiled.
They spread the blanket under one of his favorite trees and ate picnic foods.  Afterward Nanao read the kidō book he’d given her as a gift.  She refused flatly his attempts to get her to sit in his lap, but she did lean against him as he rested against the tree.  He drank sake with one hand and caressed her back and shoulder with the other.  Occasionally he would wave to passersby that he knew; it was a nice day and it seemed as though all of Seireitei was out to enjoy it.
Nanao knew there would be gossip spread about her and Shunsui, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.  She’d heard so many terrible false rumors about herself over the years that she couldn’t raise any concern for a rumor about them sitting together in the park.  Perhaps she would have cared more a few weeks ago, but she’d begun to understand in recent days that it didn’t matter as much what people said about her and Shunsui; it mattered what was true about them.
A large part of the reason gossip had so upset her when she was younger was that none of it was true but there was no way to stop the spread of the lies.  Now that she was older and she was actually in a relationship with Shunsui, she knew gossip about the two of them was inevitable, but it didn’t really matter unless she let it matter.  She still felt like squirming when a passing shinigami stared at them with interest.  Nanao hoped that reaction would pass in time; after all, she’d chosen a tactile and expressive man as her lover, and stopping him from touching her in public would take vigilance and violence she was not willing to apply constantly now that they were in a romantic relationship.
Her request for discretion from him never had a chance, as she’d suspected at the time, but the pleasure of being the recipient of his attentions and affections was enough that she would accept the minor consequences of being stared at and talked about.  “Shunsui, what does this phrase mean?  It says horse cow flying attack?” she asked.
He dipped his head down next to hers.  “Hmm, I haven’t heard that in a long time.  Let me see.”
She studied his face as he talked about the phrase’s origins and told a story about a fight in a bar he’d inadvertently started by using it.  The story was amusing but at the end she smiled and shook her head.  “You should have been more careful.  You could have been killed.”
“If I was always careful, I’d miss out on so much life, Nanao-chan.”  He grinned.
“I’m always careful,” she said, looking away as the smile faded from her face.
“You’re cautious most of the time, but not all of the time.  Look at what you’re doing now.  Aren’t you out here with me, enjoying your afternoon exactly as you want to, even when people stare at us like confused squirrels?”
The corners of her lips turned up.  “You’re a special circumstance.”
“I like that, being special to my Nanao-chan.  I don’t know about being a circumstance, though—maybe I could be your special consort, or your handsome suitor, or your romantic lover, or your sexy boyfriend, or maybe the worshipper of Nanao-chan’s luscious, sweet, round—”
Her hand covered his mouth.  She shook her head at him, but she could feel the smile on her face.  “You’re ridiculous.”
He kissed the palm of her hand and then tugged it over to press against his cheek.  “Or maybe I could just be the man who loves Nanao-chan,” he said softly.  His eyes were filled with an emotion that Nanao had seen many times over the years when he looked at her, but she couldn’t identify it exactly; the emotion was hot but soft, and it made her feel embraced by him without ever being touched.  He’d just spoken of love, and that was when his eyes had changed from amusement to this other emotion.  Could it be?
Nanao’s eyelid fluttered down.  She swallowed once.  His skin was warm under her hand.  “Maybe you could be,” she whispered.

She was starting to believe him.  Shunsui’s words echoed in her mind for the rest of the afternoon and the evening, as they sat in the park and as they ate dinner with Captain Ukitake at Ugendō.  Nanao had been right about what would happen if she gave him his name.  Every time she said it, she could feel herself opening to him more and more, and she knew that sometime soon she would give him all of her dreams to protect or crush as he wished.
Nanao hadn’t allowed herself to think about it very much, but the judgment for her crimes in the command post could destroy much more than her career.  She’d known this before, but it had seemed more cerebral and survivable then; now, when she was letting herself feel so much for Shunsui and receive so much of his feeling for her, the loss of his affection and respect might break her.
If I can’t have distance, then I must have strength.
“Nanao-chan?  Did that fish offend you somehow?”
Nanao turned her head away from the pond at Ugendō.  She’d been frowning at a suspiciously large fish while she thought.  Her frown eased as she looked at Shunsui and Ukitake.  “The fish are fine, although they seem to be larger than before.  Are you feeding them something new, Captain Ukitake?”
Ukitake smiled.  “I’m not sure why the fish are so big, but they’re really doing well this year.  Perhaps it was the mild weather.”
“If it wasn’t the fish, what made you frown, Nanao-chan?”  Shunsui sounded only curious, but Nanao had noticed he’d been very careful not to embarrass her while they’d been at Ugendō, something he’d never bothered to do while she’d been only his vice captain.  She thought perhaps he was nervous that if she felt uncomfortable in social situations as a couple, she would have second thoughts about their relationship.  But she’d enjoyed dinner with Captain Ukitake.  He’d been warm, courteous, and he’d welcomed Nanao and Shunsui without any overt commentary on their new status.
Nanao sipped her tea.  “I am hoping to have an SWA meeting this week, but it should really be an opportunity for our members to relax.  So it should be more of a party or a dinner than a meeting.  I don’t think any of our usual meeting locations would be appropriate.”
“Is it something you’d want to have at our division’s common room?  You could use that space.”  Shunsui smiled at her easily, but Nanao caught the small flash of relief in his eyes at her answer.
“We try to avoid having meetings at specific division spaces.  People take unintended offense if their division is not chosen, even if they would never actually permit a meeting in their space.”
“Oh?  I can imagine.  I know Captain Soi Fon can be very intense about maintaining secrecy in Second Division, for instance.  Perhaps a private room at a restaurant then?  I think Kyōraku and I could help you select one, as we’ve been to nearly all of the ones in Seireitei and most of the ones in the Rukongai,” Captain Ukitake said.
“Something like that might be ideal.  Which places would you recommend?”  Nanao listened as the two men went back and forth on the virtues of various restaurants and sake houses.  She watched Shunsui’s face as he talked and laughed.
Strength.  She would need to be strong for what would come, but there was nothing further to do about her crimes in the command post.  For now, she would concentrate on enjoying her relationship with Shunsui and her last days as a vice captain.
Shunsui and Captain Ukitake had slipped from talking about restaurant quality to reminiscing about past events in restaurants.  Nanao smiled at their stories, but her mind wandered back to that afternoon she’d taken the portable desk out to the park.  She’d surprised him then and she’d taken a small piece of power in their relationship, but it wasn’t enough, not after last night.  He’d spent hours pleasuring her, touching and kissing all of her skin, learning what made her shiver and gasp, drawing his name from her lips over and over.
But in all that time he’d never lost control of himself, never deviated from his intense and exclusive focus on her.  Nanao had been naked and open to him in so many ways, and she needed him to be in the same position.  Equality must be reached somehow.
She spent the rest of the visit half-listening to Shunsui and Ukitake’s stories while her mind worked through various possibilities.  She might not be able to make him sweat, tremble, and beg, but she would give it her best effort.  Nanao was well-known for her diligence, after all.
On to Chapter 25.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:29 am (UTC)
Nanao plotting :) Just another sign that she and Shunsui are a good match!
Sep. 12th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Nanao plots fairly often in this story, I think. I guess I view her as someone who plots! ^_^:
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )