Summary: Ise Nanao, Yadomaru Risa and Kyouraku Shunsui, and leaving behind a legacy.
Few thought of this practice now, but at the first of every month, the youngest member of a division would come and visit their vice captain, seeking advices and guidance of how to and such. Some calls it nurturing the young buds, training and shaping the youngest to be the most ideal for the division.
Yadomaru Risa of the 8th division was not a conventional person, but she practiced this age-old tradition, one that has borne many high-seated officers.
The room smelled suspiciously like rice wine and gloss paper when Nanao arrived at the division office that night. Vice captain Yadomaru was sitting behind her desk, her chin propped on one hand, nibbling on a rice cracker. She was reading those colorful graphic novels again, the one that has many nearly nude figures with suggestive positions and eye-burning graphics.
It was not Nanao to peek, so Vice-captain Yadomaru showed it to her instead just to quench Nanao's curiosity. But in her young eyes, 2nd seat Yadomaru Risa of the 8th division was wonderful—she was exceptionally skilled in kidou, her prowess with a zanpakutou even outrank the male seated officers, and her vocabulary was so extensive. And on top of all that, she kept the notorious slacker captain in line without even breaking a sweat. It was a great wonder to Nanao up to this day that Vice captain Yadomaru was willing to take her into the division and took great care of her.
"Oh, is it 8 already?" Risa said when she saw Nanao's head at the side of the sliding door. "What are we going to read today, Nanao?" She rose to her feet, revealing long legs beneath the black skirt, and pushed the book into a shelf behind her.
"Anything you want, Vice captain Yadomaru," she answered, fighting hard to nibble her lower lip, seeing Risa massaging her shoulder and stifling a yawn.
"Did you bring anything of your choice?"
"If-if vice captain's too tired, next month should be okay," Nanao quickly countered, hiding the book at her back.
Risa walked forward, however, and grabbed the book her junior officer was hiding. Her eyebrows didn't even raise a notch as she read the book title loudly. "Tale of Hikaru Genji."
They walked back to Risa's quarters while Nanao busily explained and stammered that this was a famous classic literature and one should have insights of such things at early age. Risa just smirked and tousled her hair.
It was Vice-captain Aizen, along with the child prodigy, Ichimaru Gin. Nanao had known and seen his shocking talent at the academy, the hordes of students and onlookers had swarmed at Ichimaru's early graduation, and each of the seated officers from almost every division was sent for his recruitment. Nanao remembered, as it was through this way Kyouraku's squad resorted for her instead, the bookish girl with slightly-better-than-average kidou techniques.
"Aizen," Risa nodded her head in acknowledgement. "Captain Kyouraku awaits you in the division office."
"Thank you," The brown haired man smiled, "And is this the rumored Ise-kun?"
Nanao quickly bowed. "I'm Ise Nanao, of the 8th division, Vice-captain Aizen."
Risa drew the covers up to her waist when they reached Risa's room, and Nanao slipped under the thick blanket, propping the book on her laps, readying to read the first passages.
Between their shared interest, Risa chose to be a listener this time. Nanao stumbled across several kanjis that were beyond her, scribbling each kanji's meaning and correct pronunciation in to her notepad as Risa explained them to her.
At thirty minutes to midnight, Risa blew out the candle beside her futon and tucked Nanao in beside her.
"Are you happy in the 8th division, Nanao?"
Nanao heard herself stifle in the darkness. "Why the sudden question, vice captain?"
"Just somethin' that crossed my mind when I saw Ichimaru. Recent rumor I heard was that he eliminated the current 3rd seat and took over his position in just a day."
"Isn't that a good thing?" Nanao wondered.
"He's about the same age as you," Risa scoffed, "I don't know what is Shinji thinking, but putting someone so young under such heavy expectations tends to mess them up. There's something in that child's eyes that troubles me."
Closing her eyes, Nanao pondered at the idea of telling her vice captain that Ichimaru was already messed up way before he was recruited in to the Gotei 13.
"I like being in the 8th," Nanao answered to the ceiling instead.
"And I like Captain Kyouraku, too."
"What about you, vice captain?"
She felt her vice captain patting her head before slipping further in to the blanket. Right before she drifted to sleep, Nanao heard a mutter of "Yeah, me too."
The next month, she waited for her mentor until midnight to find her captain, telling her in a quiet, low murmur that didn't suggest that Risa was on a dangerous mission and not coming back for the next century.
Ise Nanao has never been in this much predicament, not ever since Ayasegawa Yumichika had came to her, flicking back the elaborate colorful eyelash, and said he would have the honor of gracing the Shinigami Women Association as a brethren.
Nanao shook her head and blinked at the word 'Obliga' on top of the half heart-shaped chocolate staring back at her, the morning after the events of treachery that almost threw everybody's afterlife in Soul Society upside down. It was mid-summer, definitely not the season for something as sweet as chocolate. But Captain Kyouraku loved sweets, and especially, had told her repeatedly and excessively to the point of even stalking her, how much he expected one from her last February 14th.
Though, of course, she also half expected half of her 'Obligation' chocolate to be missing.
Not that she was planning to give it to anyone, after six months. Even in the fridge, chocolate tended to whiten at the edges after a long while, and it was the only successful batch she ever made. Other than that, Nanao was more occupied at the large bite marks on the chocolate. The divisional fridge has never been a good place to store hidden feelings-er, food-because every so often there would be starving officers coming to the kitchen late at night and devour even the year old cheese. But not when they see their vice captain's name on it.
Behind her, Enjyouji Tatsufusa let out a loud, cacao smelled burp. "Ahh, that was a nice meal!!"
Slowly, Nanao turned to stare at the sight of her division's 3rd seat officer wiping his mouth on his uniform's sleeve. "Enjyouji, did you happen to see a chocolate in the fridge?"
There was that prominent gulp that could be heard even from Nanao's distance, and Enjyouji rushed out of his chair to flap his hands desperately, his french braids flailing with each shake of his head. "What chocolate?? I didn't see any heart shaped chocolate that has the lame 'Obligation' written on it, vice captain Ise! Aha-ahahah!"
Nanao wasn't listening to his babble, as she was too busy focusing on the chocolate stain around Enjyouji's mouth. When she rose to her feet and closed the fridge's door, the last thing in Enjyouji's thought was how beautiful Vice Captain Ise's eyes were when she removed her glasses, glinting like bubbling lava and painting his sight with red.
"He's missing again? Maybe you should put him on a leash or something. Mine sauntered to the men's room, like, two hours ago. I should drag him to the 4th for a bowel check up when he comes back."
Rather than saying thanks and going on her way, Nanao paused to stare over Rangiku's shoulder where Kira was prancing topless on top of Hitsugaya's desk, his fundoshi's cloth flinging wildly with each dangerous leap to avoid sharp stationery, singing 'All by myself' in falsetto. Usually, she would have berated them for the impropriety of getting smashed before lunch.
"We're currently celebrating. C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-I-O-N," the voluptuous woman reasoned, more to herself than Nanao, and the 8th division vice captain stopped herself from saying it sounded more like Lamentation.
Glancing sideways, Nanao stood closer to her. "How many glasses?"
"Oh, it's just our third," the blonde wrapped her arms around Nanao's neck, pulling her closer until Nanao's upper arm were trapped between Matsumoto's extra, extra flesh and the alcohol-reeked breath blew into her ear, "--bottle. You should join us, Nanao. Let your hair down for once, we're--"
"NO, thank you. I have a choc—an errand to attend to." Nanao managed to wiggle free from the deadly twin's clutch, and paused to stare at her fellow vice captain sprawled at the division office's window frame, sloshing the liquor bottle in her hand around. "Did you find the thing you're looking for at the bottom of the bottle?"
The blonde's smile dropped for just a heartbeat, and she continued to run her fingernails at the windowsill. "No...t yet. But I will."
"I hope you'll find it in time."
"Thanks, and you too," Matsumoto's tone dropped into a playful one and she added a furtive wink. "Remember, for Captain Kyouraku, it's the thought that counts."
"This time, I brought you a pot of tea to share," Kyouraku took out a teapot and two cups, placed it down, and raised his own cup after pouring one for his companion. "Here's for your recovery."
Chad took his without questioning, and they clicked their cups together. "Hm," the younger man muttered, watching the view of post-Aizen's treason Soul Society, some wreckage here and there, and the occupants looking tired but hopeful. His wounds were fully healed, and he made a mental note to find the time to visit Yuichi before leaving. And here he was, making amends with the only man in Soul Society who injured him over a cup of tea on a rooftop.
The captain raised the brim of his hat to look into his companion's eyes. "No hard feelings, right?"
A shake of head. "Mm."
"How do you find Soul Society?"
His companion placed the cup down, and long, unperturbed silence followed before he laced his fingers together. "Nice."
Kyouraku laughed, a playful low pitch that sounded like an old children's song in Chad's ears. "Even after it's been shook down. I wish you could see it when it's peaceful. Done anything fun lately?"
"…Yesterday, this guy with a number on his face said that he wanted to know how to play a guitar."
"I don't know what's a queeter or whatchamacallit, but it sounded like you found a new friend. Friendship should be treasured, Yasutora-kun. Enjoy every moment, as life's too short to waste on trivialities."
There was a pause as Chad stopped to inhale the tea's fume. "Kyouraku-san, are you sure this is plain tea?"
"Of course it is! Though I've recently used it to smuggle some sake in there so I could drink in office hours and forgot to wash it ever since. ….What's wrong?"
Chad has raised one of his index finger to point at somewhere behind Kyouraku's shoulder, so he bend himself over to find the upside down sight of his vice captain's annoyed face.
"Hellooo Nanao-chan! Isn't it a nice weather to be drinking on the roof?"
Contrary to his early expectations, Kyouraku was glad that Yasutora-kun saved his tea/sake-pot and the cups instead of him, because, well, who could endure the lady armed with such a large tome?
"The recruitment forms need your signature, and some supplies forms need to be renewed, we're scheduled to hold a divisional meeting next Monday and your inbox tray has ants crawling in and out of it."
Even when his cheeks were swollen beyond belief, Kyouraku still managed to grin excitedly and leapt with a neck breaking speed towards the said tray. "So that's where my liquor bon-bon wen--Huh?"
"The expiration date is April last year," she pushed her glasses up. "I already put it into the incinerator."
"SO cruel, Nanao-chan~"
"Surely you're not thinking of consuming it and suffer food poisoning, Captain? If that's how you want to skip these paper work again, I'll go to the 12th this instant and procure a vial of the strongest poison from Captain Kurotsuchi himself."
Managing a weak grin, Kyouraku reached out to grip Nanao's hand gently from across his work desk. "But you know liquor goes ripe with age, my sweet Nanao-chan," his fingertips made trailing, soft touches on the back of her hand. "Just like your captain over he---yeowowowow~"
Through excessive pinch she's been exercising on the back of Kyouraku's hand, Nanao finally got hers back. She pointed to the stack of disordered papers on top of Shunsui's desk. "Captain. Recruitment forms. Now."
"After one sip of my shirazuke here," he pulled a jug dangling from his waist, and actually managed to unplug it before Nanao leapt across the desk and grabbed the jug's neck with a dead grip.
Her eyes shone an evil and wicked glint that could silence even a cackling demon, but Kyouraku only used this chance to-again-touch her face in a way as their faces-especially their lips-were mere inches apart. "Nanao-chan's eyelashes are so long from this up close." His tone suggested that Kyouraku expected her to lean over the desk and render herself half vulnerable and at his mercy.
But even one century of knowing Nanao didn't make him anticipate the next move; as with one swift moment, Nanao grabbed the thickest, heaviest object she could snatch from Kyouraku's desk, or in her case, the division accounts book, and smashed it against her captain's already puffy cheek. Nanao was pretty sure she dislodged one or two of his molars when she left the division office with a heaving breath, ignoring the moans of 'but I'm thirsty ~', and 'now my teeth hurts'.
When Nanao stepped back into the office fifteen minutes later with a tray in hand, Kyouraku was miraculously sober and working. He had even stacked the forms neatly to each category without a scolding.
"Nanao-chan, I finished organizing," he said in a singsong voice, "Now can I go outside and-"
"--drink?" Kyouraku finished hopefully.
"You can drink this," Nanao placed down a mug beside the forms, "I'm sorry for being half a year late."
The 8th division captain peered into the mug and inhaled the fumes of the brown liquid before taking a sip. "…It's chocolate."
Nanao's smile was unfaltering. "As sweet as you like it."
For a second, she dreaded the possibility of Kyouraku getting off his chair just to wrap his arms around her and grope her body parts in a way of gratitude, but instead, he grinned to the mug. "I often wonder if you still remember."
At first she thought he was talking about the stupid V-day and capitalism ideas planted in his brain by greedy chocolate companies, but Nanao noticed the mug she purposely used to serve the hot chocolate. It was stamped with words of 'property of 2nd seat, 8th division'.
Unconsciously, she let her eyes wander to the spines of classic erotic literatures on the bookshelf that Shunsui had secretly hid with scrolls of division members' report and her desk-Her desk- that used to be covered in senbei crumbs.
Nanao fingered the hard cover of the tome she's been carrying for years, and looked at her feet. She'd probably never match her predecessor's battle skill and beauty, but her loyalty, devotion and dedication shaped and molded by the early months with her mentor was unquestionable. She could only hope that vice captain Yado--no, Risa--would be feeling unspoken pride if she saw her now. "I could never forget, Captain."
A century worth of waiting, Nanao suspected, was enough. Everything's revealed, they will eventually get to the truth--
Seconds passed as Kyouraku stared into his mug, and suddenly broke the ice by saying "Does this mean my sweet Nanao-chan wants to give me an indirect kiss? I wouldn't mind a real one~~" with the nerve to even wiggle his eyebrows suggestively at that.
She calmly pushed up her glasses, and replied with an icy smile that could match Sodeno Shirayuki's initial release, "Only if Captain still wants to retain his ability to sire children in the near future."
While Kyouraku Shunsui, Gotei 13's most notorious loafer captain was gulping silently and continuing his paperwork, Ise Nanao, vice captain of the 8th division, managed not to let out a triumphant grin and mentally chalked up her most recent achievement under 1: Making the newbies File Alphabetically and 2: Promoting No Liquor hour, as 3: Rendering the Captain speechless.
A century worth of waiting indeed, Nanao thought again, and she has to smile at that.