Author's Notes: I figured these two needed their own collection since I've been writing a lot for them lately. This one has many spoilers for the manga Soul Society arc, so beware if you're an anime watcher. Otherwise, enjoy. ;)

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

The night they view Aizen's soul-less body, it's raining lightly and Nanao holds an umbrella over her head, quiet and still as water drips in front of her, muffling sounds and washing away sins and blood alike, somewhere. She stands outside the 4th Division's headquarters as Shunsui ducks under the doorway, taking off his hat and letting rainwater puddle on the floor. Unohana doesn't notice.

They talk quietly for a moment and Nanao can't hear what they're saying, Shunsui's dark amber voice thudding against her heart and bones, Unohana's gentle alto a low counterpart that soothes and comforts. She doesn't really want to know what they're saying, though, because she sees Aizen behind them and she feels a chill that has nothing to do with the rain.

It's the first time she thinks about her own death.


She lifts her head to find Shunsui watching her carefully, concerned, and she realizes she's let the umbrella drop and rain is dripping from the ends of her hair, turning it an inky black in the twilight. Steadying herself, she closes the umbrella with a soft snap and steps inside, feeling suddenly cold and stiff and wondering how many memories are painted on her face. Shunsui spares her the explanation though and goes to Aizen's side, standing over the fallen shinigami solemnly, hat in his hands.

"It's strange to see him this way," Unohana comments softly, and Nanao knows the healer is speaking to make her at ease.

"Yes, it is," Nanao replies, surprised her voice comes out so firm, so polished. Shunsui hasn't moved. She turns to the other woman. "There are still no leads as to who...?"

Unohana shakes her head slowly. "No." The word is strange and barbed and dances across the room like something dangerous and uncatchable. Nanao decides to stop asking questions. There is no protocol for the murder of a shinigami and all her logic cannot hope to create one. Not in this place.

She and Shunsui leave after a few minutes, bidding farewell to Unohana who knows too much about death, all kinds, and doesn't mind sitting down to tea with it alone. The rain has stopped and they walk along wet pathways, past flowers full of dew and through mist that sticks to their skin like lace. After a moment, Shunsui abruptly stops and she pauses with him, staring at his back.

He doesn't say anything and she understands he's waiting for her to speak. And so she does. "Something is happening."

He nods once. "Yes."

And that word is just as dangerous as its opposite. Nanao folds it and puts it into the sleeve of her uniform like a secret letter, burning with traitorous information. She'll hold onto it, to protect them.

They start walking again.

The End