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Title: The Trials of Nanao Ise
Genre: Romance/Drama
Pairing: Shunsui/Nanao
Spoilers: Through manga chapter 423
Status: Ongoing
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 26.
Chapter 1.

“Two hand-to-hand courses, back to back, Nanao-chan?  It’s very cruel.  Wednesday is brutal,” Shunsui whined as he flopped on the sofa.  His legs stuck out several inches over the end.
Nanao looked at him skeptically.  He did not appear particularly strained or worn out; he wasn’t even sweating.  “I would remind you that you didn’t feel Enjōji-san could lead advanced hand-to-hand courses yet, and that you decided that my schedule was too full to accommodate them.  It was very generous of you to take on both of the courses.  If you like I can schedule them for different days next quarter.”
“But there will still be two of them.”  He tugged his hat over his eyes.
“There will always be at least two of them, unless our division becomes exceptionally poor at combat and requires large amounts of remedial training.”  She rose from her desk and walked over to the sofa.  “Vice Captain Sasakibe has sent me a polite but forceful reminder that you have still not completed your report on the war.”
He tipped his hat up.  “A report?  Yama-jii was right there, Nanao-chan.  He already knows what happened.”  He slid a hand down her waist, clasping her hip.
“Nonetheless, a report is required.”
“Another day.  Let’s do something more interesting, Nanao-chan.”  He tugged her closer to the sofa.
She sighed.  How many times had they maneuvered through this exact conversation?  The subject changed, but the words were almost identical.  “The report must be at the First Division by tomorrow.”
Shunsui said nothing, just grinned at her.
She sighed again.  Always the same—except for the hand on her backside, that was new.  “Stop that.  We’re in the office.”  The offending hand drifted back to her hip.  She continued through her usual lines.  “The report must be done.  Would you like to dictate it to me?”
The grin slipped off his face.  “Not this time, Nanao-chan, not for this.”
She nodded.  He would dictate reports to her occasionally because it allowed him to monopolize her attention, which he enjoyed.  But a report on a battle where he’d killed someone—he wouldn’t want her to live that through his eyes, even though she’d watched the battle on the monitors at the Twelfth Division.
He stood up, leaning over Nanao’s shoulder.  “If Nanao-chan says it’s important that the report be done, then it can’t be helped.”  He smiled, but his eyes were sad now, not playful as they’d been when he’d complained about teaching courses.
“Thank you,” she said, but a pang went through her as she saw him arrange his paper and ink at his desk.  He would spend the rest of the afternoon on this unpleasant task because she’d asked it of him.  She glanced at the portable desk and inspiration struck her.  It might not make his work any easier, but…
He stopped writing in mid-stroke when Nanao’s hands came down on his shoulders from behind and her breath breezed over his cheek.  His head turned slightly so he could see her from the corner of his eye.  “If you are able to finish this report today, so that it can go by courier to the First Division, it would be wonderfully efficient.  Of course, that might be a lot to ask of a busy captain, so perhaps some additional motivation could be appropriately applied here.”
“Motivation?”  His tone was idle curiosity, but his eyes were intense on her face.
Her arms clasped together in front of his chest in a loose hug.  “Motivation.  After all, you are helping me with the important work of our division, aren’t you?”
He smiled and that sadness started to slip out of his eyes.  “Anything for my Nanao-chan.”
“I will give you three guesses about the color of certain personal garments.  If you are correct, your victory will be confirmed with visual evidence.”  She rubbed her cheek against his.
"Even in the office?”
She hesitated.  It was one thing to let him look at her panties in the privacy of home, with all that might follow, but quite another to allow it in the office.  She weighed her professional standards against the sadness she’d seen in his eyes.  “Even in the office.”  Their door had a latch, after all.
“Lovely, lovely Nanao-chan—” He tried to press kisses against her face.
She dodged deftly and walked swiftly back to her own desk.  “Please maintain a professional attitude during working hours, captain.”
He gave her a look that made a blush rise on her cheeks.  “Nanao-chan is naughty today.”
She sniffed at that and flipped through her Eighth Division manual until she found her current page.  They worked quietly through the afternoon.  From time to time she could feel his eyes on her, and she knew he was distracting himself from the ugliness of his war report with contemplations on her undergarments, but she allowed it.  She’d brought such speculation on herself with her motivational offer.  The noises of the division fell off to quiet as daytime working hours ended.  They worked on in silence.
Eventually Shunsui stood, stretching his arms wide.  He said nothing, but he gave Nanao another of those speculative looks as he left the office with his report.  It was only a few minutes before he returned.  He latched the door behind him and sat heavily in the middle of the sofa.  “Nanao-chan,” he called.
She straightened the pages of her manual and laid down her brush.  “You may begin at any time,” she said primly.  She squared herself in her chair and folded her arms on her desk.  Her eyes met his, one of her brows raised.
He grinned.  “I love that you can use that tone even when the topic is the color of your panties.”
“Do you have a guess or not?”  She refused to blush, not when this was her idea and she would be in control of events.
“Pink.”  His eyes were heavy-lidded and alive with sensual interest.  Nanao swallowed.
“No.  That’s one.”
“Hmm.  White.”
“No.  That’s two.”  Her voice dropped into a lower, softer tone in response to his caressing tone.
“No.  That’s three.  You have no more guesses, and you were not able to guess correctly.”  Nanao leaned back in her chair.  She wasn’t sure if she was relieved or disappointed.
He smiled, slow and wide.  “But Nanao-chan, how can I be certain I’ve lost?  What if there are color variations or multiple colors?  The results need to be verified.”
She frowned.  “You have a point.”  Damn it, he did.  Her sense of fairness nagged at her; she knew that he’d lost, but how could he be sure?  No wonder he’d smiled—he thought that he would get to see her panties regardless of the outcome.  She flattened her hands against her desk and rose from her chair.  “There is no need to show you the original specified garment.  This is a matching set,” she said as she marched to the sofa.  She stood before him, her back straight and her head high.
With one hand she pulled at the neat neck of her uniform until it slid down one shoulder, revealing a thin strap and the top of her camisole.
“Red.”  Shunsui’s eyebrows rose.  “Wait.  How interesting.”  He wrapped huge hands around her waist and drew her closer.  “Red silk.  I bought this for you.  You kept it?”
Now she did blush, despite her resolve.
“Sneaky Nanao-chan, letting me believe that you threw away all my inappropriate gifts, when you were actually wearing them against your skin.”  His hand hooked into the other side of her uniform top and tugged, and then she was standing in the office with nothing heavier than a red silk camisole covering her breasts.
“Many of your lingerie gifts were in very poor taste, and I did get rid of most of them, but—”
“But you liked some of them.  You wanted to wear them.  Silk over a woman’s skin, it’s a beautiful feeling.”  He trailed his fingers over her collarbone.
“I didn’t see the harm, as long as you didn’t know.”  She licked her lips.
He tugged her down to straddle his lap.  “I think if you understood how much leverage the thought of you in lingerie I’ve chosen would have handed you, you would have told me years ago.  The amount of paperwork you could get from me with red silk is tremendous.”
She made a harrumph sound.  “You should do your work because it’s your duty, not because of my panties.”  She brought one hand up to rub at her temples.  “I can’t believe I just said that.”
He laughed, long and low.  “Delightful Nanao-chan.  But you wear bindings sometimes.  I’ve felt them when we spar on Fridays.”
Her flush deepened.  “Well, for sword work, something like this wouldn’t be appropriate, so I wear bindings, but on normal days, I don’t need any bindings, since my bust is—”
“Perky?  Luscious?  Exquisite?”
“Small,” she said flatly.  He grinned and brought his hands up and cupped the assets in question.
“Perfect.”  He rubbed his thumbs over her nipples.
She drew in a sharp breath.  “I shouldn’t allow this behavior.  You didn’t win.”  She frowned at him.
“I know, and I haven’t even had a single glimpse of your panties, which is so sad.  You should take pity on me, Nanao-chan.”  He made a pouty face.
“I have no pity in the office, especially for inappropriate behavior.”
He stood up suddenly, moving his hands under her to hold her up against him.  “Nanao-chan wants to go home?  It’s after working hours, isn’t it?  We were so diligent today.”  He stepped into a shunpo so quick her breath stopped.
She breathed deep and long a few times before noticing their surroundings—the bedroom at his house.  “I will not tolerate this flash stepping without obtaining my agreement.  It’s very annoying.”  She stepped away from him.  His hands lifted from her waist and her uniform dropped to the floor.
“You’re right, Nanao-chan, I’ll tell you next time.”  He tilted his head to better see her panties.  “Beautiful.”  His mouth landed on hers, hot and firm.
She knocked the pink haori off his shoulders and the hat off his head.  Her hands slipped into his gaping uniform and pushed it off his shoulders.  At his waist her hands fought with the numerous ties keeping his clothes on, but she couldn’t hold her focus while he kissed her.
“Let me,” he said against her lips, and shed his garments in a few movements.
Despite his speed in bringing her home, once they were in bed he was slow, as if they had all of eternity to spend exploring each other.  The world shrunk down to the softness of the bed, the roughness of his hands, and the heat of his eyes.  The air was cool and scented with the crispness of autumn, and Nanao knew she would never see fallen leaves again without thinking of Shunsui.
He seemed fascinated by her skin in silk, his lips suckling her breasts through the fabric, his fingers stroking her panties in leisurely patterns.  Nanao urged him to hurry with words and with her nails marking time with small crescents, but he would not be rushed.  He would never be rushed.
Her need and frustration mounted until her teeth closed around his shoulder and she bit him.  His hands tightened on her body in response, and she slid her hips against his palm.  “My Nanao is so impatient,” he murmured.
“You’re slow,” she snapped, and then, in a voice much softer, “Shunsui.”  Her lips landed on his mouth.
He shifted his large hand between her legs, his fingertips touching her through the silk in a way that made the small world spin, and then she shuddered against him, releasing soft cries into his mouth that he swallowed.
When her heartbeats slowed she pushed him down onto his back and rose above him, stretching languidly on her knees.  He followed her movements and her lips curved up at the avid interest in his eyes.  She straddled his abdomen, sitting neatly.  His eyes were not the only part of him feeling avid interest.  She raised one brow at him.
“It’s because Nanao-chan is such a delicious temptation,” he said.
She traced the outlines of his chest muscles, wiggling her bottom a little to angle closer to his face.  His hands grasped her hips.  “But not enough of a temptation, it seems.”
He considered her face closely.  “Nothing could be more tempting than you are.”
“And yet you’ve been holding back.”  She studied his face as he studied hers.  Nanao wanted to remember him like this later, when she couldn’t be with him anymore.  His curling hair brushed back haphazardly from his forehead, his eyes warmed with that emotion she’d identified as possibly love, his strong nose and cheekbones, the lines around his mouth and eyes, the contours of his whiskery jaw, and his wide mouth with those sensual lips.
“We’ve been savoring and enjoying each other.”  His mouth tensed, and she raised her hand to it, running her fingertips over his lips.
“We have.  But why won’t you give me what you’ve given so easily to so many others?”  She leaned down until her face was only a foot from his, resting her weight on her hands on his chest.
He looked away for a moment, and when his eyes met hers again they were serious and sad.  “Because you’re important, Nanao.  Because what’s between us is important.  This isn’t just fun and games.”
Now she was the one to look away.  She nodded once.  The words were hard for her, but he needed them, so she spoke.  “Yes.  What’s between us is important.”
He sighed, the tension easing out of him.  “Then you understand why I want to wait for the ideal moment.  A romantic evening, with a high moon, brilliant stars, perhaps near water, truly a transcendent environment for our love to blossom—”
She laughed softly and brought her hand up to cover his mouth.  “You’re too much sometimes.”  But he’d been so tense.  She stroked his cheek.  “Are you nervous?”
“What?  No, it’s not that.  I just want everything to be perfect for you.  This is very important to me, Nanao-chan.”
She bent her head to kiss him once.  “You’re such a romantic.”  She smiled.  “This is perfect.”
“What?  Now?  No, there should be roses, music—” Worry ran through his eyes.
She clasped his face between her hands, bending to kiss him once, twice.  “No.  This is right.  How could it not be?  This is the world, and we’re the only ones in it.”
His eyes softened.  “Nanao—I don’t know if I can make it perfect for you now.”
She shook her head.  “Perfect is a bad goal anyway.  Perfect is nearly unachievable.  Perhaps you should try for optimal, although I would also accept excellent or superior.”
He chuckled.  “Getting cheeky, Nanao-chan?”
Her brow arched.  She pulled off the camisole with one brisk motion.
He swallowed.  “Nanao-chan,” he said.  “Nanao-chan.”
She leaned down.  “Give me everything.”  She kissed him gently.  Her voice turned soft and cajoling.  “I want everything with you, Shunsui.”
He sighed, and then smiled a little.  “As if I’ve ever been able to deny you anything.”  He kissed her, his hand on the back of her neck.
Nanao felt the world shift and opened her eyes.  He’d flipped them over, and she was covered with his body.  She arched her breasts against his chest and sighed at the lovely friction.
“Nanao.  I love you, Nanao.”
His eyes were full of that same emotion that had puzzled her for so long, but now she accepted fully what she’d realized days ago.  She nodded, just the slightest shift of her head, barely a movement at all.
He breathed in sharply.  His lips were on hers, his body on hers, and she lifted a hand to his face.  He surrounded her.
A long time later, she surrounded him, holding him tightly inside her body, and she thought, so that’s why this is important.  He was so close to her; there could be no space between them now.  It didn’t disturb her as she might have expected.  Instead she wanted more, so much more of him.
“Come closer,” she whispered.  His arms tightened around her, his mouth coming back to hers.  She could smell him, taste him, and feel him around her and inside her.  She opened her eyes to see his face.  I love you, she thought, and his eyelids lifted as if she’d spoken out loud.
“Nanao,” he murmured, his hips pushing against hers faster.
“Yes.”  I love you, she thought again, and kissed him.

On Thursday afternoon Nanao left work directly after leading her final kidō course.  The division members in her courses were doing very well for the most part.  Seated officers she’d chosen would take over her basic and intermediate courses after she was judged for her crimes, but Shunsui would likely have to lead the advanced course until a new vice captain could be found.  He’d be annoyed by that, but he would do it.  Or perhaps the Eighth’s advanced kidō class could be temporarily joined with the Thirteenth’s class.  That wouldn’t be ideal, since they didn’t have the same schedule, but it could be done.  She made a note to add both options to her manual as soon as possible.
She washed and dressed at home, selecting Living World clothing to follow the SWA’s resolution.  The halter dress in a forest green fabric was simple but appropriate for a party.  Her hair she twirled up into loose bun held with chopsticks.
“Nanao-san!” Rangiku’s voice rang out from the front of the house.
“Come in,” Nanao called.
“Oh, Nanao-san, there you are.  This place is so much larger than your quarters.  I was a little surprised you wanted to meet here.”  Rangiku burst into the bathroom in a burning red dress cut low on top and high on her leg.
“Surprised?” Nanao asked, smoothing her hair.
“It is your captain’s house, isn’t it?” Rangiku said.  She laughed and raised an eyebrow suggestively.
“Oh, Shu—that is, Captain Kyōraku needed continued medical treatment after his checkup with Captain Unohana, and this was the easiest way to guarantee appropriate treatment.”  Nanao’s cheeks flushed despite her best efforts.  Had she become so comfortable here she’d forgotten to care what other people would think?  This wasn’t her house, after all.
“Hmm?  You don’t have to make excuses like that to me, Nanao-san.  We’re friends, aren’t we?”  Rangiku leaned in.  “So, how is it with your handsome captain?  Is he romantic?  Good in bed?  Have you used any of my awesome advice on men?”
“We should get going so that I can check that everything is right at the restaurant.”
“Sure.  Will you answer my questions on the way?”
Nanao marched to the door, stopping to put on her shoes.  “Your questions are very personal and embarrassing, Rangiku-san.”
“Of course they’re personal, that’s the best kind of question!  Come on, Nanao-san, who else are you going to talk about this with?”
“No one.”  Nanao shut the door behind them with a clack.
“Exactly.  But you said yourself that you’re new at this kind of relationship.  Don’t you want to review your efforts and get another opinion on things?  You have the opportunity to tap my expertise right now.”  Rangiku endeavored to look interested and innocent, but she was no more capable of looking innocent than Shunsui was.
Nanao sighed.  “I did want to talk to you.  But this stays completely between us.”
“Absolutely.  I’ll tell no one.”  Rangiku tapped her finger against her mouth in a silence gesture.
“And you have to answer any questions I have.”  They walked briskly through the crowded street.
“I promise, I’ll answer any questions.”  Rangiku’s eyes glittered in the sun.
“Good.  First, whose idea was it to get me a riding crop?”  Nanao raised one brow.
“Have you finally decided to take an interest in that fun thing?  I knew it would suit you.  I’m so happy for you, Nanao-san!”  Rangiku burst into a laugh, her eyes crinkling at the corners, and Nanao’s lips turned up in response.  A small chuckle escaped her mouth. 
Several shinigami turned to watch the two women, who couldn’t be more different in appearance and personality, walking together, talking and laughing.

On to Chapter 28.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
Just. OH. Your writing style is amazing. I just love how you are portraying all characters. And all of this fic. It's just simply amazing. and oh. we finally got to the citrusy content.
Sep. 18th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you like the characterization in this story, and the story itself. This chapter was very hard to write--I must have rewrote it seven or eight times looking for the right tone and to make the citrus content reasonably readable. Sex is hard. ^_^;
Sep. 21st, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
No problem :) I'm happy that you are updating so frequently :) I can imagine...XD

btw you prefer comments here or reviews on ff.net? or both?
Sep. 22nd, 2011 03:25 am (UTC)
I like all comments and reviews, it's always nice to get them, whether here or on ff.net. I don't have a particular preference, and I check both places. ^_^
Sep. 19th, 2011 08:24 am (UTC)
Gorgeous! :D

(And I admit, I was curious as to the colour as well!)
Sep. 20th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC)
Thanks! Nanao-chan is sneaky, keeping Shunsui's presents secretly...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )