A/N: Yeah. I updated. VulcranDune requested I add this to the story, ultimately making it a twoshot. I know the first chapter was depressing. But I think this may cheer all you people up. So enjoy, read, and review!
GROW Second Time Around
As the shock of Sosuke Aizen's betrayal, along with Gin Ichimaru and Tousen Kaname, died down within the Seireitei, and reconstruction began on the decimated city, one shinigami was bored out of her mind.
Ise Nanao sighed as her face portrayed what she felt at that exact moment. Boredom. Not to say the whole Aizen off to destroy the world thing wasn't important, but with a whole week off decreed by Captain Yamamoto in order to recover? She had grown bored without her usual daily paperwork to fill out. She actually seemed to miss all those papers coming in and out every day and her stamping them with Captain Kyouraku's seal, because he never did his own paperwork of course.
Her captain sure seemed to be enjoying this weeklong break, though.
"Nanao! Come!" Shunsui Kyouraku busted into Nanao's room. She looked up from her place at the windowsill, which she had just been looking out her window at the noonday sky.
He held his arms out dramatically and she just sat there, staring at him. She turned back to staring out the window.
"Nanao! Why do you ignore me? Can you not hear me? My sweet Nanao's ears have been damaged in battle? Don't worry Nanao! I shall be your guide, wherever you go, I will follow!"
She threw a potted plant at his head, which he dodged with ease. She glared at him.
"I'm not blind." She muttered.
"Wonderful news! Then my sweet Nanao-chan will accompany me?" His eyes pleaded with her.
"What do you want this time?"
"Remember the ryoka boy I fought? He's not leaving until they fix up the gate to the human world! He wants to see me and he has invited the human shinigami boy that fought Byakuya Kuchiki! I HAVE to see him!"
Nanao looked at him like he was a five year old. Her eyes rolled as she gave in.
"Oh, thank you so much my dear Nanao-chan!" Kyouraku ran as if to hug her, but she promptly kicked him in the gut and walked out the door, leaving Shunsui gasping for air as he tried to keep up.
The two arrived at 8th Company's courtyard. Nanao spotted the ryoka from so long ago. He stood tall and looked healthy, despite taking a blow from her captain a while ago. He seemed to be alone. She wondered where his 'friend' was.
"Mr.Yasutora!" Kyouraku waved his large arms enthusiastically as he and Nanao walked up to the tall teenager. The boy looked up and raised a hand in greeting.
Captain Kyouraku conversed with Sado Yasutora for quite a while. Nanao let herself daydream. She really hated pointless idle chitchat, and avoided it whenever necessary. She wondered where the ryoka's friend was.
"Sorry I'm late, Chad! I ran into Orihime on the way over!" A young man's voice sounded behind her. She turned her head and her eyes grew wide.
'Who is he?' He mind shouted in anxiousness.
Shunsui recognized the look on Nanao's face. He quickly walked up beside her lightly touching her back so she could recompose herself.
Ichigo looked Nanao over in a glance then turned back to Sado as he started talking. Shunsui joined in, and the three spoke for a long time. Nanao stared silently at Ichigo. He looked all too familiar.
Finally, Sado and Ichigo left. Nanao breathed a sigh of relief. Shunsui gave her a rare serious concerned look.
"It's not him, Nanao."
Nanao nodded. She knew it wasn't him. Kaien Shiba was dead and there was no way to bring him back to life, ever. Ichigo just looked similar to him. A coincidence. That was all.
"Well, if that is all Captain, I'll take my leave now." She bowed. The tears were already spilling.
"Nanao, I just-"
"Please, don't." Nanao turned quickly and walked off in the direction of nowhere. Shunsui watched her depart with sorrowful brown eyes.
Nanao walked dazedly into the garden within Seireitei. Her tears fell freely as she felt unconfined within this small slice of peace. She held herself in a hug as she walked along the little stone steps that protruded from the ground.
"Why am I crying now? It's been so long. I thought I was over it but…"
She barely noticed the small presence of someone pass by her as she kept walking forward without a care.
Nanao looked up with fogged glasses. Embarrassed she slipped them off and wiped them with a small white handkerchief. As she replaced them upon her face she gasped. It was Ichigo Kurosaki standing before her with an all to familiar look of concern upon his face.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I…" She was at a lost for words. He smirked.
"I'm Ichigo Kurosaki." He held his hand out to shake. She looked down at the friendly gesture and sniffed as she grasped it with her smaller one.
"So…what's the problem?" He went back to looking concerned.
She looked up at him and then down at her sandaled feet. How could she even explain something like this with a total stranger? But then, this was how it had been with Kaien too. She smiled fondly at the memory and decided to place her trust in this particular stranger.
"You look a lot like someone I used to know."
He looked dumbfounded.
"Really? I've been getting that a lot lately since I came here. Would you mind explaining who this person is that I supposedly look like?"
Nanao swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. Ichigo and her sat down upon the grass.
"His name was Kaien Shiba."
"Shiba? You mean he was related to Ganju and Kukaku Shiba?" He asked in surprise. She giggled at the fond memory at meeting Kaien's family and nodded.
"He was the vice-captain of 13th Company a long time ago. He and I were very close, but then some things came up and I never really spoke to him again."
"Were you two together?" He asked in a non-subtle way. She blushed and nodded while readjusting her glasses. She felt compelled to tell him the whole truth.
"Yes. We were together for a long time. But then he was from a noble house, and he was to marry someone else. We had to end our relationship."
Ichigo looked apologetic for bringing back such memories. He could understand her feelings.
"Then, his wife was killed by this hollow. He went out to fight it himself. He ended up dying as well." She turned to look at him with tears forming in her eyes.
"You look so much like him, it's scary. If you had black hair, then I would really be worried." She smiled, but tears fell down her cheeks. The memories were haunting her again like the time when Kaien had died.
Ichigo looked confused and tried to comfort her by placing a hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off.
"I apologize. You're a total stranger and I'm pouring all my feelings out about this guy who looked like you. I'm so stupid." She wiped her tears away again.
"It's okay. It must be hard to see my face when you lost a loved one." He pondered for a bit and then he looked up with a smile. The moon twinkled in his eyes and Nanao realized they had been sitting in the garden for hours.
"I'll cheer you up! I promise!" He smiled at her as she looked confusedly at him. He stood and waved goodbye as he ran off on to some unknown destination.
Nanao sat there in the garden for a moment. She smiled. Rising up on her legs she stood tall and walked to her room, content with telling a total stranger her story.
Weeks quickly passed by. The ryoka had left a few days after Nanao's encounter with Ichigo. She had happily returned to her duties with completing all her and her captain's paperwork. This was her reward in life.
As she finished stamping Kyouraku's seal on another document, a person entered her private office. She glared up expecting her captain, but was surprised to find a new visitor.
"Hello, Nanao. Remember me?" Ichigo smiled as he gave a small bow. She stood to her feet in surprise.
"Kurosaki-san? What are you doing back here in Seireitei?"
Smiling, he reached into his shinigami robes and pulled out a book. He handed it to her. With a look of surprise she stroked the cover with adoration. She loved reading in her spare time. She looked back up to him. How did he know? And why was he here?
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm here on business. I was just about to leave but I forgot I had to deliver this."
"Why?" She questioned and motioned to the new book.
"Because I promised to cheer you up, didn't I?"
"Thank you, Kurosaki-san."
"Ichigo." He corrected her.
"Thank you…Ichigo." He smiled back and waved goodbye.
Nanao hugged the book to herself as a smile graced her lips. Perhaps this Ichigo Kurosaki was exactly the kind of person she needed around to make her feel better about herself.
More time passed by. Nanao went on as if nothing had changed. Just Ichigo had entered her life. He would occasionally come to say hello and they would talk for long periods of time before he had to return to the world of the living.
Later, the Women's Soul Reaper Society meeting was taking place. The members were still working on the male shinigami calendar. The job was becoming more tedious then ever.
At that time, they were deciding on who else to put into the calendar, because some of the men that were supposed to be in the calendar, were very good at avoiding the women when they were on business.
"What about Ichi?" President Yachiru Kusajishi suggested. The women all discussed amongst themselves.
Matsumoto Rangiku looked knowingly over at the vice-president, Nanao, with a sly smirk.
"Yes, what about Kurosaki-kun, eh, Nanao-chan?" She smiled. Nanao looked alarmed. She regained her composure quickly.
"I don't know what you mean."
"You can't hide it from us, Ise-san! We see how you two talk all the time whenever Kurosaki visits!" Kiyone Kotetsu pointed a gloved accusing finger at Nanao.
"We merely talk to each other, and rarely at that. He hardly visits Seireitei anyway. Only on business." Nanao explained. Kiyone sat back down disappointed.
"But I see Kurosaki visiting more frequently for these past few weeks. I've never seen him so enthralled to be here either." Unohana Retsu spoke subtly. Nanao glared at the 4th Division captain. Sometimes that woman knew her all too well.
"It's nothing." She muttered a little too hurriedly.
"Ichigo is too stupid to notice girls anyway." Rukia Kuchiki laughed. The rest of the girls giggled as well, but Nanao was fuming.
"How can you say that about him! He saved your life, didn't he?" She shouted across the table at Rukia. Rukia looked stunned.
"I was just kidding around Ise-san." Rukia said as she tried to calm Nanao down.
Nanao frowned as she stormed off in frustration. The girls all looked at the open door to their meeting place. The silence was wearing thin.
"I think Nanao just doesn't want to get hurt again, like with Kaien." Unohana commented. Rukia looked up at the mention of Kaien's name.
"Nanao knew Kaien-dono?" Rukia spoke in amazement. Retsu nodded.
"They…were very close. Or so I here from Captain Ukitake."
Rukia looked back towards the door in nostalgia.
Nanao lay sprawled out on her futon mattress. Her sleeping yukata was wrinkled from all the tossing and turning.
"Kaien, what should I do? I know it's not you. I can tell the difference perfectly. But I still don't know what to do." She spoke to the thin air within the confines of her room. She sighed and turned over once more to fall asleep.
Ichigo continued to come back to visit Nanao. Throughout the whole summer, the two became close friends.
One morning, Nanao awoke to another sunny day. As she slipped on her glasses and tied back her black hair into a bun, she noticed something hanging on one of her chairs.
She walked over to see a beautiful black dress lying upon the chair. It was embroidered with black lace flowers and she touched it. An envelope sat atop the dress on the chair. She picked it up and read the short note inside.
'Put this on and come outside.'
She set the card on the small table beside the chair as she turned back to the pretty dress. She stared at it for few seconds and then proceeded to dress into her shihakusho and out the door.
Rangiku jumped her and Nanao dodged with expectance. The curvaceous woman dusted herself off, as she stood disappointed.
"Why aren't you wearing the dress?" Rangiku asked scanning Nanao's body.
"So you're behind this?"
"Not just me, all of us."
The whole women's soul reaper society committee appeared out of nowhere. They had conveniently hid behind some bushes earlier.
"Please Nanao-chan! Go on the blind date!" Yachiru hugged Nanao's knees and looked expectantly up at her. Nanao's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"What?" She looked at all the other girls.
"We kind of sort of…" Isane Kotetsu spilled over her words.
"We set you up on a blind date." Soi Fong finished.
"Oh, no. No way. I'm not going." Nanao turned to leave.
"But it's an important date!" Yachiru cried.
"Where is it?" Nanao demanded.
All the women looked at each other and gave nervous glances.
"In the human world…" Nemu Kurotsuchi spoke up.
"Now I'm definitely not going." Nanao turned to walk in the other direction.
"You have to go! Or else Ichi will be stood up!" Yachiru cried.
Nanao looked back at all the girls. They all smiled eagerly. Nanao groaned and smacked herself on the head with the palm of her hand.
"Fine. I'll do it." She gave in. The rest of the girls all smiled as they took her inside her room to prepare her for her date.
Nanao arrived in the human realm around evening time. She stared up in awe at the huge restaurant across the street from the park she had just appeared in. Golden lights could be seen from inside the windows as many people were entering through the grand entranceway. It looked very high class.
The girls had 'borrowed' some of Captain Kurotsuchi's stuff in order to get Nanao here in the first place. Rukia had instructed them how to create a gate a week earlier based off Kisuke Urahara's designs. The gate allowed Nanao to pass through and compose the make up of her body to that of a normal human's. She checked herself out to make sure she looked no different.
The black dress that had been slung over her chair had actually fit her form pretty well. It flowed to about her knees and swished with every step in her black flat-heeled shoes. She flipped some loose strands of hair behind her ear. She was forced into keeping it down and it was annoying her a little bit.
She took in a deep breath and entered the established restaurant. The inside was even more luxurious then the outside and Nanao wondered if Ichigo could even afford to come to such a glamorous place. Not that she thought he was poor, it just seemed a little too high strung for a high school student.
"Name, miss?" A man behind a wooden podium asked her. She looked up in surprise and readjusted her glasses.
"Ah! Right this way, madam. Your friend is there waiting." The stranger smiled as he directed her to a waiter and was led towards a booth in the corner. She started blushing red as she spotted Ichigo's priceless trademark hair.
As they drew near, Ichigo looked up and spotted Nanao. He took a double take. She seated herself across from him and he just stared with surprise. The waiter laid out two menus. Both ordered the first thing they laid eyes on.
"Your food will be ready momentarily. Have an enjoyable evening." The waiter smiled and left the two. They both avoided eye contact until Ichigo coughed. He took a sip of some water that was brought out earlier. Nanao looked nervous as well.
"Well, this is some blind date. Except I know who you are." He finally broke the tension within the secluded booth. She smiled. Ichigo pulled at the tie he was wearing with his black suit.
"I didn't expect you to be the type of person to go on blind dates, Ichigo." Nanao spoke heartily. Ichigo smiled too.
"Well, my dad threw this suit at me after school and said I was going on a date with some girl. I refused, but then he pulled his guilt trip dad powers on me and I caved in under the pressure. Now I'm actually glad I came."
Nanao blushed. "I'm glad too."
"You look really pretty by the way. Beautiful, actually." He commented her with a slight blush. She looked back down into her hands in her lap.
"You look good too."
"So are you the one who asked me out here?"
Nanao choked. Did he think she liked him like that? She did, but she wasn't ready to tell Ichigo anything about that. She couldn't!
"Actually, my friends forced me to come. It was a trick. I'm sorry if this date is bothering you. I'll just leave and you can go home as well."
She stood up and was about to leave but a warm and strong hand grasped her arm in a firm grip.
"I don't mind. I was just asking."
She sat back down with a blush. He reminded her of how Kaien used to act. Nanao shook her head of the thought. Ichigo was not Kaien. Ichigo was Ichigo and he was very different from how Kaien used to be.
"Oh. I just…I just feel that you shouldn't be doing something like this with me when you probably have a girl that you're seeing already. I wouldn't want you to get in trouble with her. You should be spending time with someone you like, not me."
She looked down at the table, not daring to look up at Ichigo's face. She was ready for him to say 'fine' and leave. She was used to that sort of thing now.
"Why wouldn't I like you, Nanao?"
She looked up with surprise. Ichigo was gazing at her face. Her hair had slid over her shoulder and he took a hand to push it back to its proper place. Her breath was caught in her throat. She couldn't move. As his hand touched her bare shoulder she gasped.
Their eyes locked. Nanao smiled and leaned forward and Ichigo leant forward too, to meet her.
Their lips met with a quick kiss. Nanao's eyes fluttered and opened. Ichigo was staring at her so close up and she blushed. He removed her small frames that hid her whole face from his gaze and she blushed more. He blushed to and their lips met again in another warm kiss. The butterflies were swimming all through Nanao's stomach and she smiled at Ichigo. She secretly thought something that made her blush.
Ichigo was a very good kisser.THE END
A/N: There. This is the end of the twoshot! If anyone has a pairing request for this series or another one, I'd be happy to do so! I accept any and all pairings! I hope you enjoyed this chapter and now REVIEW! Thanks!