A/N: And we've come at last to the end. I loved writing this story, it's been non-stop fun from beginning to end, the characters just sort of taking off and dragging me along. Due to the lack of Shunsui and Nanao fluff in the last chapter, I wrote this epilogue-esque piece to wrap the story up nicely and not leave you in want of more fluff. This fluff in fact is slightly lime-flavored but I wanted to keep my T rating. Thank you so much to all of you who reviewed this story. How about just one more for old times sake?

Tossed Aside
Epilogue: Getting Used to It

Nanao watched her sleeping Taichō. His back, partly wrapped in the very tangled sheets, rose and fell with each deep breath he took, a small smirk playing about his lips.

She blinked, still unused to not having her glasses resting protectively on the bridge of her nose. Nanao wanted to walk downstairs and retrieve them from where she had left them on her desk. She didn't want anyone to walk by and see them laying there, along with her other belongings, and put two and two together.

She knew that it would be very difficult to keep her relationship with her Taichō secret for long; she just wanted to introduce the concept subtly and try to avoid at least some of the scandalous gossip that was bound to sweep across the Gotei Thirteen like a storm whenever people found out. However, she was skeptical of her ability to achieve this, especially when she considered the rather loud, ostentatious nature of her chosen lover.

That was the other reason that Nanao yearned for the familiar glint of her somewhat concealing lenses. Without them she felt incredibly venerable, a state which Shunsui thoroughly enjoyed seeing her in, but Nanao was less than comfortable with after they had been so…intimate.

It had been this lack of confidence which had led Nanao to wrap her previously naked body in the first garment she could grab without having to vacate the bed― the infamous pink haori.

She snuggled farther into the silk garment, the shade of her face nearly matching the color of the fabric as the memories of the night's activities replayed themselves vividly in her mind. Nanao could not believe some of the things she had done or, more importantly, some of the things he had done to her.

But what she could not believe most of all was the fact that she had almost hurt him again. She would have hurt them both, had he not stopped her…

Nanao had expected their first time together to be hurried, impassioned, almost rough as over one hundred years of the desire within them boiled over, finally able to be expressed.

She should have known that with Shunsui, nothing was ever how she expected.

Nanao was therefore greatly surprised after their initial heated kiss in the office and the removal of her sash halfway up the staircase. When they finally reached his bedroom she saw the bed was neatly made and strewn with scarlet rose petals. Shunsui placed her gently on the silken sheets and set about lighting the four small votive candles floating in a large glass bowl on the bedside table, throwing flickering light onto the walls of the dark room..

He certainly is prepared, Nanao could not help but notice as her heart thudded painfully in her throat. She was fully aware that there was no going back now.

"It looks like a shrine," she commented quietly without thinking.

Shunsui moved towards her, removing his haori and allowing it to pool on the floor. He placed one knee on the bed, leaning over her.

"All the better to worship my Nanao-chan," he replied, meshing their mouths once more.

Nanao had imagined this moment many times, but none of them came even close to the reality. There was the slow slide of lips, the flaring heat that ravaged her body quickly as Shunsui attended to her with meticulous fervor. He was uncharacteristically thorough, as he diligently caressed every inch of skin until she was trembling when they finally joined, driving them both to a mind-addling release.

It wasn't until after the luminous glow of the glittering stars behind Nanao's eyelids had long faded and Shunsui's breathing had grown deep and even beside her that the doubt had encroached upon her peaceful bliss.

What if he had been disappointed? He had seen everything she had to offer, not like she had had the presence of mind to care when he did, but what if she didn't measure up?

He's had many women and they had to have had flaws, Nanao thought, but this didn't comfort her in the slightest. What if she hadn't measured up to his previous lovers?

As her mind was sent spinning down this dark path, Shunsui's closeness once again seemed oppressive, the sound of his breathing like a clock ticking away the moments until he would wake and tell her the truth― that she was too plain, too inexperienced― breaking her heart.

Nanao slid out of bed and pulled on her hakama; it was the first thing she found. The shirt was long, it was meant to be tucked in, and fell to her thighs when not neatly flounced out of her waistband. She stole his sash, because hers had been discarded on the staircase, and was in the process of trying to find her pants when his voice sounded quietly behind her.

"Going somewhere, Nanao-chan?"

A sudden flare of light behind her told her that Shunsui had lit one of the lamps on the bedside table but when she slowly turned to face him, she found that he was sprawled on the bed, propped up on his elbow, regarding her with shrewd eyes.

"I―" she began, but couldn't find any excuse to explain her behavior except that she was leaving him.

"Why are you dressed?" he frowned. "The night is still young and I had never considered it ending like this."

He pushed himself into a sitting position and she could not help but admire the elegant ripple of muscle under his sun-browned skin. She swallowed, tugging listlessly on the hem of her shirt, trying to get it to cover more of her. She wanted her glasses badly

"Did I disappoint you my Nanao-chan?" he asked.

This question was such a surprise to Nanao that her head snapped up of its own accord. Disappoint her?

"What?" she stammered, brushing a piece of hair behind her ear.

"I asked if I disappointed you," he repeated. "I know that I have a reputation and much of what is said about me is untrue but still…Did I not live up to your expectations, Nanao?"

She let out a strangled laugh at this idea, it was so ridiculous. "No, everything was wonderful…perfect, actually."

"Did I whack you in my sleep or something then?" Shunsui said frustrated, running a large hand through his hair which was barely managing to stay in a disheveled ponytail.

"No," Nanao returned, her eyes searching the floor again for the remnants of her clothes. "You slept with your arm around me most of the time. It was… lovely to be held like that." She choked slightly on the last word, now wanting her pants and her damn glasses more than ever.

Shunsui caught the catch in her voice and slid forward so he was sitting on the edge of the mattress. "Look at me, Nanao."

He grabbed the hand nearest to him and tugged her around to face him when she didn't comply. His eyes searched hers as she looked helplessly down at him.

"You're still doubtful," he said incredulously. The blush in her cheeks was answer enough.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, trying to turn away but he caught her waist in both hands and prevented her from moving. "It's just everything was so…and I…I just lay there thinking…"

"Thinking I had made the final conquest and hadn't found it satisfactory?" he finished for her.

"Nanao-chan," he said, shaking his head. "It only made me want you more. You said last night that you believed me when I said that I love you. This isn't just some lustful fantasy, though I've got plenty of those involving you too." Shunsui smiled and wiggled her hips lightly as if to dispel her demons. "Now, why don't you just come back to bed?"

"So," Nanao said timidly while Shunsui began to untie the sash holding her shirt closed. "I wasn't too terrible then?"

He gave her the same smile he had the night before when she amused him.

"Yare, Nanao-chan," he replied. "For a woman who seems so sure of herself, you have a lot of insecurities."

Shunsui flicked the sash to the floor, parting the shirt and running his hands slowly up her bare sides.

"What will I have to do to assuage these annoying feelings of inadequacy?" he asked, kissing her bellybutton. "Will begging your favor on my knees while professing my undying love work?"

She stared as he slid off of his perch on the bed, his hands trailing down her thighs as he came to rest on the floor before her. She placed a hand on his shoulder prepared to tell him that he was being silly when he lifted one small foot in his hand and, with a sly look up at her, placed it on his other shoulder.

"Kyōraku Taichō what are―" she began but stopped when he pressed his lips sensuously on the inside of her thigh and she realized exactly how he was planning on begging her favor.

"Shunsui," he whispered against her flesh, his warm breath causing her skin to break out in goosebumps. "Say my name, Nanao-chan."

She nodded her assent but realized he wasn't looking at her.

"Shunsui," she breathed unsteadily into the cool night air, fulfilling his request as his lips reached their intended destination. Any capacity her brain still had left for doubt was soon efficiently shut down…

Nanao shuddered, brought back to the present by the unusually cool summer breeze that drifted through the open window along with he early pre-dawn light. She was tempted to huddle closer to the warmth her Taichō provided but didn't want to wake him unnecessarily.

She watched with amusement a few moments later when his tan arm inched along the silk bed sheet, searching for her. It was almost as if he had read her mind. His fingers connected with the silk sleeve of his own haori and one eye shot open.

He sighed deeply in relief closing his eyes again sleepily after seeing her face on the pillow a mere foot from his own.

"Yare, Nanao-chan," he said, rolling onto his side, his eyes still closed, his arm curling around her waist. "There are times when a man wants to wake and feel skin, especially when you've been so skittish."

His hand smoothed over the fabric she had wrapped around her and he finally blinked both eyes open, grinning lazily at the vision before him.

"Are you wearing my haori? My 'ridiculously flamboyant' haori?"

She smiled softly, unable to stop herself. "I was cold," she replied honestly. "And this was close to the bed."

Shunsui pulled her tighter, his hand slipping under the fabric of the robe. She splayed her own hand on his chest and tilted her head to look at him better.

"You could have moved next to me," he said, kissing her gently.

"I didn't want to wake you," she replied, blushing.

"I wouldn't have minded in the least if you had." He rolled so he was hovering on top of her.

"I'm sorry, Kyōraku Taichō," she said, wrapping her arms around his neck. "I just feel so out of my league here."

"Shunsui," he corrected her. "Keep business that is not of my own making out of our bed Nanao-chan." Her heart leapt at the phrase our bed but the words did not wipe the wide-eyed expression from her face.

"See," Nanao replied, her hands absentmindedly playing with his hair. "I can't even address you correctly."

"You addressed me fine last night," he replied, capturing her lips with a smirk. She opened her mouth to profess another concern but he cut her off. "Don't worry so much, Nanao-chan. You'll get used to it. And the best way to get used to something," he continued, raining kisses down the column of her throat, "is to keep at it until you've gained your confidence."

"And then what?" she asked, arching an eyebrow at him.

He positively beamed down at her, and she could not help returning the gesture. "You do it some more."

She laughed euphorically. He captured her lips once more, turning them so that she was lying pressed against him.

Maybe I could get used to this, Nanao thought as Shunsui nibbled gently on her bottom lip. Even his haori is rather comfortable…

Not that she would ever admit it.

The Beginning

A/N: Thank you all again for reading my first bleach fanfic. I have to admit that I'm a little shocked but delighted all the same that it was so successful.

On request of my good friend Conterra-san, as well as some of my wonderful reviewers, I have decided to write a short spin-off of this story dealing with the bet between Hitsugaya and Matsumoto.

I can't decide what to entitle it. I am open to suggestions if any of you would like to include it in your review. Keep an eye out for the story in August, as I am taking a writing hiatus in order to enjoy the debut of the final Harry Potter book, a rather bittersweet event as I feel like I am bidding goodbye to a childhood friend.

Until we meet again,

Cryssi (BVB)