A/N: Hello everyone! BlackVelvetBand here. Welcome to my first bleach fanfic. I was introduced to the series around Christmas by my good friend Conterra-san (that is actually her screen-name) and was converted into a huge fan. I decided to write this because I fell in love with Shunsui after I first saw him; he's my favorite character besides Byakuya "Epitome-of-Manliness" Kuchiki. I decided to write this fic after I was hit by a random inspiration for a scene which I built the story around. I suppose it could have worked for any pairing but I chose Shunsui and Nanao because they just don't get enough love. This could be set anytime after the Soul Society Arc, I didn't make it specific because I'm only partway into and not nearly finished with the Arrancar Arc. Hope you enjoy the story and don't forget to review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or any of its characters despite the fact that I wish I did because I would be incredibly wealthy.
Chapter One: Orders Disobeyed
Nanao Ise was running.
The battle cries of the surrounding shinigami mingled with the unnatural shrieks of the hollows, causing her head to pound in time with her heartbeat. The smell of blood, sweat, and smoke mingled in the air, coating her throat and lungs, making it hard to breathe. Her always impeccable hair was disheveled and falling to her shoulders, she slicked it back, the blood from the shallow gash on her forehead coating it. Nanao hoped it would dry soon and hold the hair in place.
She was bruised and battered but she felt no pain. She was heedless of everything but her mission.
The hollows were everywhere, they were pouring through the tear in the world gate; an endless tidal wave of destruction. A nearby hollow lashed out at her with its foot-long claws, grazing the shoulder of her sword arm. She merely gripped her sword tighter and vaulting lightly off the ground, delivered a furious finishing blow to its skull. Nanao rolled to her feet, instantly running once more. It would take more than a mere hollow to stop her.
Her taichō was out there somewhere, and she wouldn't rest until she found him.
- - -
Nanao broke through a clearing in the forest, looking around desperately for the sight of Kyōraku Taichō's signature haori. She darted forward, only to be stopped in her tracks. In front of her loomed a thick circle of hollows, among them was not one, but three menos grande.
It was then she heard his voice and she breathed a sigh of relief at the same time her heart plummeted in her chest. If he could speak he was alive, but with foes like that it was uncertain how long it would remain that way.
Her resolve was fully formed.
Nanao aimed a blast of kidō at one of the lesser hollows to blast a hole in their ranks. Running forward, she catapulted herself off of its disintegrating form, gracefully flipping in the air at the same time she leveled another shot of kidō to a different hollow. She landed harder than she intended to and staggered slightly to her feet. A blur of pink and white filled her vision.
He was there, fighting back to back with Ukitake Taichō, just as she knew he would be. Their four swords moved with a grace and speed that was nearly impossible to follow.
"Nanao-chan!" he cried, momentarily stunned, the movement of his Katen Kyōkotsu ceasing. "What are you doing here? I told you to stay-behind!" A shot of Nanao's red-flame took care of the hollow taking advantage of his shock.
"Taichō," she yelled over the din as she hurried to stand beside him, creating a small circle of defense. "With all due respect I disobeyed your order." Shunsui shot her a look out of the corner of his eye.
"Nanao…" he began but she ignored him, rapidly firing a shot of kidō with deadly accuracy as one of the menos bore down on them. Nanao's taichō whirled into action and Nanao automatically followed.
Within fifteen minutes, one of the menos grande was blown away with the wind.
The battle wore on, the three working in tandem. The furious light from Nanao's kidō illuminated the four bloodstained blades. The hollows fell upon them like a tide, but the three remained strong like a boulder in the middle of the roaring ocean. Ukitake stiffened as he delivered the finishing blow to the second menos grande.
"What is it Jyū-chan?" Shunsui asked, his blades detaching a nearby hollow's arm.
"That reiatsu…it feels like Unohana Taichō's!" The white-haired captain automatically dodged an oncoming attack. Shunsui whirled his Zanpakutō, killing the hollow directly in front of him.
"What's wrong, Taichō?" Nanao yelled over the shriek of the hollow her captain had just dispatched.
"It's fading…" he trailed off. He met his best friend's eyes for a brief moment and understanding passed between them.
"Go to her, Jyū," Shunsui said, as he brought his swords up to block an oncoming attack from the large menos grande, but he wasn't quick enough. He hissed in pain as the creature's nails left a shallow gash near his shoulder. Ukitake hesitated.
"GO!" With a fleeting look at his best friend, Ukitake ran to Unohana's aid.
Nanao fired another kidō blast across Shunsui's vision, dispatching another one of the remaining hollows. The battle appeared to be slowing down, the tear in the world gate repaired. It's a good thing too, Shunsui thought as he blocked a blow from the menos grande. He was tiring, but Nanao looked much worse off. She had fought hard to reach him and she had been holding nothing back since she reached his side.
"Nanao," he called to his fukutaichō as she ran forward to deliver the final blow to the last remaining hollow. "Go see to the rest of the squad, I can take care of things here."
"No, Taichō!" Nanao flat out refused, her breathing ragged. She stood next to him, as he faced off against the menos grande, fiery kidō already coalescing in her hands. She fired off a shot, and Shunsui took advantage of the creature's blindness to attack. He was knocked back a few feet when the enormous hollow's arm swept out in retaliation.
"Now that wasn't very nice," Shunsui commented dryly. Taking a calculated risk, he used a precious amount of his remaining energy to shunpo behind the creature, delivering a single blow with both swords to the back of its head. The strike was too shallow however, and the creature, roaring in protest, grabbed the captain throwing him over his head.
"Taichō!" Nanao cried in horror as the menos began to move toward Shunsui. She hit the creature with a barrage of kidō as her vision began to blur. She had expended too much energy but she refused to give up when her taichō finally needed her.
Shunsui sat up slowly, shaking his head, attempting to clear his vision after his momentary lapse of consciousness. His eyes widened as his addled brain made out the sight of the approaching creature; he reached for his zanpakutō as the white mask loomed over him…
Using her last bit of energy, Nanao used shunpo to place herself in front of her Captain, directly in the path of the creature's claws.
Nanao screamed in agony as the creature's claw raked across her torso, leaving a deep bleeding gash from her left shoulder to her right hip. She faltered, feeling her reiatsu drop. She vaguely thought she heard her taichō call her name in panic but she would not be deterred.
Using every last ounce of strength, Nanao fired the most powerful blast of energy she could at the oncoming creature. It staggered back and Nanao pushed off the ground, burying her zanpakutō deep into the menos' skull, before she fell to the ground in a flurry of ashes and blood.
Still in shock at the speed and agility with which his fukutaichō had dispatched the menos grande, Shunsui rushed forward as Nanao attempted to stand, swaying precariously on her feet. It was only then that he noticed just how deep the jagged gash was. Nanao fell forward, and Shunsui, caught off balance, fell to the ground desperately trying to soften the fall for his injured Nanao.
She let out a throat-rending cry of pain at the impact, and Shunsui felt his heart drop in his chest.
It took all of Nanao's effort to lift her head and meet her captain's worried eyes. Her hands weekly gripped the silken fabric of his haori. Her vision started to darken.
"Why?" she croaked thickly. "Why did you leave me behind?"
Then her grip slackened, her head falling heavily to his chest. Shunsui had longed to hold Nanao since the very moment he met her, but never had he imagined that the first time would be like this.
"Nanao-chan…" he whispered, a hand reaching out to stroke her blood encrusted hair.
Shunsui watched in horror as his pink haori slowly turned to red.
A/N: Now, there's a little button down there that says "Go." You know you want to press it. It's calling to you…