Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations I put them in. Everything else belongs to somebody else and that's just the way it's gotta be whether we like it or not. Thanks very much for your continual reading of my works and please continue to review as I love to hear from you.

Once You're Sober

Finishing off the last piece of parchment Captain Shunsui Kyoraku gave a sigh of relief, one that suggested he'd just been through a terrible ordeal of unreasonable proportions. The truth of the matter was that his beautiful, but strict, vice captain had threatened him with serious bodily harm if he didn't get the paperwork done for tomorrow and like a fool he'd left it all to the last minute. Again. But thankfully she wouldn't find out about that this time because it would be all done and waiting for her on her desk when she came in tomorrow morning, he thought with a pleased grin, getting to his feet as he walked over to said desk with the papers in hand. Her desk was so much neater than his was, you could actually see the wood of the table and find things without having to search under stacks of paper. Not that his desk ever stayed messy for long with Nanao chan around to reorganize it for him. Which she did regularly since his messy habits drove her insane. Sometimes he even felt a little bad for letting her do so much of his work.

Laying the papers down with a sense of satisfaction he nearly jumped when the front door slid open, the light he'd left burning on his desk barely illustrating the form that walked into the room, weaving ever so slightly. Not that he wouldn't know his Nanao chan form anywhere, even in darkness, but what was she doing here? Dumb question. "The papers are all done, Nanao chan. You came all this way for nothing." He called out smugly, thinking it had been a long time since he'd been able to say that and not be lying. "Just like I promised."

"Huh? Captain? What are you doing here?"

Raising an eyebrow at the strange tone of her voice Kyoraku left her desk to walk closer, the light just bright enough to make out the fact that his vice captain was looking very un Nanaoish this evening. She was dressed in black slacks and a sleeveless red blouse, something that was completely unsuitable given the cold night air that was coming through the door as they stood there, the wind ruffling her loose black tresses. "What the hell are you doing out in this weather without a coat?" He blurted out, whipping off his pink haori and throwing it over her shoulders to provide her with some covering, wrapping it tightly around her like a shawl.

"Oh..wasn't I wearing a coat? I was wearing one before. I wonder where it is?" Sounding both surprised and bemused the usually all knowing, all seeing vice captain just stared up at him, as if he had the answers to her questions.

"Nanao chan...are you drunk?" He could definitely smell liquor on her breath now that he was this close and she was definitely acting very unlike herself. It was actually freaking him out a little bit, the way she was looking at him so intently with eyes that were unframed by her absent glasses. She never took off her glasses and the not blinking thing was just freaky.

"I am not drunk." A frown crossing her elegant face it was obvious Nanao didn't like his insinuation at all. "I only had two glasses..maybe three. Or was it four? It tasted like fruit punch though so I'm sure I'm not drunk. I never get drunk. Only idiots like you get drunk. Matsumoto would never have let me walk home if I was drunk. That would have been very irresponsible of her as my hostess."

Used to being called an idiot by his supposed subordinate Shunsui concentrated on the more important matter which was figuring out what his lady had been up to. A drink that tasted like fruit punch...oh but that sounded familiar. He didn't know where Matsumoto got the stuff but he knew for a fact that anything over two glasses was enough to send the average person into a drunken heap quickly and efficiently. Especially one who didn't have any tolerance for hard liquor, like Nanao. "You were out drinking with Matsumoto?" Though the two vice captains were friendly enough he couldn't imagine that his elegant Nanao and the busty 10th division vixen had very much in common. Not to mention the fact that he'd never seen his girl drink more than a glass of wine and she was certainly not the bar hopping type the way Matsumoto was.

"We were at her place. She needed someone to drink with her cause today is the anniversary of the day she fell in love with the rat bastard Gin and Kira and Hisagi weren't available. She probably would have rather had them there cause they're stupid enough to get drunk with her too. I told her I wasn't going to get drunk but that I'd come cause it sucks to be in love with a jackass who doesn't appreciate you. It really, really, really..what was I saying? Oh right, I was talking about Captain Ichimaru, right? That guy needs a shrink almost as badly as Captain Kurotsuchi does. Hey, you ever noticed how many captains and vice captains we have in this place who would benefit from a sit down session with a licensed professional? It's scary really, when you stopped to think about it."

Deciding to leave the matter of shrinks and his fellow colleagues alone Shunsui opted to concentrated on the matter that interested him much more. After all, he already knew they needed a division of shrinks for all the other divisions to go to. "And what would you know about being in love?" He asked, his eyes narrowing slightly since he wasn't about to let this opportunity pass him by. His Nanao chan was a very private person and what little he knew about her life was either from her records or bits and pieces she'd let slip over the decades. Had she once been in love, had her heart broken? Was that why she wouldn't give him a chance? Just the thought of someone abusing his love in that manner had him thinking very violent, very out of character thoughts.

"That it sucks." Was her slightly slurred answer as she reached up to rub her left eye with the back of her hand. "You know, you're sorta blurry. I need my glasses. Where are my glasses anyway? Why aren't they on my head where they're supposed to be? Did I leave them on my desk? Maybe that's where my coat is too."

"No, they aren't on your desk. And why do you think being in love sucks?"

"If they aren't there then where are they? I really need them both if I'm gonna get home okay. Or can I keep your pink thingie? It's warm and it smells like you. It probably looks better on me anyway."

Amused, her captain would have killed for some way to record this conversation so that he could play it back to her later. Oh but he hoped she remembered all this tomorrow morning. "You didn't answer my question, Nanao chan. You always tell me it's very rude to do that."

"It is rude, I'm sorry." Eyebrows drawing together and a serious look coming over her face it wasn't hard to figure out that Nanao was struggling to remember just what his question had been. Finally the light went on and a smile lit her face, obviously pleased with herself. "You asked me why being in love sucks! I remembered! I remembered!"

"Yes, now answer the question."

"Oh. Yeah. I knew that." Now she had to think some more since she was having a hard time thinking at the moment for some reason. "Uhm..lets see...being in love sucks because...because it hurts lots and lots and lots when you aren't loved back. That's why being in love sucks."

As someone who'd loved her as long as he'd known her Shunsui's heart ached at the idea of someone hurting her that way. It hurt even more, he realized, to know that there had been someone in the past who'd possessed the heart of his dream girl. But right now, Nanao chan was more important than his own selfish thoughts. "Someone broke your heart?" He asked softly, wanting to make sure he hadn't misunderstood somehow.

"Yup, the rat bastard. The incredible, unbelievable rat bastard. I mean really, how could he not fall in love with me? I'm PERFECT for him! I make his life so much better but does he even realize how much I do for him? Nooooooooo! No, it's okay to flirt with me and lead me on but when it comes to actual commitment..well I would have been better off setting my sights on Matsumoto's rat bastard. At least he was a one woman man! Unlike mine, the two timing, woman crazy pig bastard." Eyes flashing it was obvious Nanao was just warming up with her list of grievances. "And so maybe I don't have as big of boobs as some girls and maybe I'm not as pretty but I'm still decent to look at and I'm not flat chested either. I'm smart and talented and a vice captain for Christ sakes! What more could he possibly want!"

Damn, she must have set her sights on a real bastard if Ichimaru looked good in comparison. Shunsui really couldn't think of anyone that they worked with though that fit her description. A two timing play boy that flirted with her a lot? He certainly would have noticed that. It would have to be someone that they both interacted with too because they were usually together for most of the day. Maybe it was someone in her neighborhood that he hadn't met yet? Whoever he was he was a dead man. How dare he hurt his Nanao chan's feelings like this. How long had his Nanao chan suffered at the hands of this villain, his brave little vice captain hiding the pain from him and everyone else. Well that ended tonight, he was going to see to it. "Obviously he's not good enough for you-" He began only to be cut off.

"You're damn right he's not good enough for me. Don't think that I don't know that. He's nothing like my dream guy was supposed to be!" Eyes beginning to shimmer with unshed tears Nanao went from murderous rage to tearfully emotional in the blink of her eyes. "Why am I so stupid? Why can't I just give up and move on like a normal person? I could do so much better!"

"You certainly could." Her captain agreed whole heartedly, holding back the urge to point himself out as an example of someone much better suited for her. "And as soon as you tell me his name I'm going to make him sorry he ever toyed with your affections, Nanao chan. When I get done with him his own mother won't recognize him! He'll regret the day he ever so much as looked in your direction, I promise you."

Blinking his vice captain stared up at him in confusion, a frown crossing her upturned face. "But Captain...you CAN'T beat him up."

"Why the hell not?" Not happy at all over the conviction in her voice Shunsui could only assume she was protecting the guy since there was no way she could possibly mean he couldn't actually beat this scum up by himself. He wasn't so arrogant as to think there was no one who could beat him but none of the ones who could fit her description, unless you counted that carrot topped guy of Rukia Kuchiki's, who he didn't know well enough to know whether the kid was a playboy or not. But Rukia didn't strike him as the sort of girl who'd let her man strayed so he couldn't see the guy being the player type and living to tell about it.

"Well but...how are you supposed to beat up yourself?"

When a good minute went by of complete silence, with her captain just staring at her dumbly, Nanao decided the conversation must be over and skirting around him walked over to her desk, opening drawers as she tried to find her spare pair of glasses. Finding them neatly tucked away Nanao took them out of the case and slid them on, turning to beam at her captain who was watching her, his mouth still wide open and his eyes as big as saucers. "Wow." Nanao said after a pause of her own, as she considered the look on her captain's face. "You look even weirder with my glasses on. You know, you shouldn't make a face like that for so long, Captain. What if it sticks that way? You're weird looking enough as it is without being stuck with an expression like that. Captain Ichimaru was bad enough."

He was really trying to find words but all he could think of was that she'd just said that he was the guy she was in love with. The fact that she thought he was a two timing, good for nothing rat bastard was a close third though, right after the revelation that she actually didn't realize that he loved her. "How could you not realize I love you?" He asked hoarsely, not even recognizing his own voice. "I've told you that I love you a thousand times and you always hit me with that damn fan of yours or your book!"

"Because YOU'RE never serious when you say it." Was her prompt reply as she continued to look through the papers he'd left on her desk. "I can't believe you actually finished these without me having to remind you again. I should mark this down on the calendar, don't you think?"

Overcoming with the overpowering need to bash his head against something Shunsui was smart enough to realize that she was in no condition to take anything he said or did seriously. Her attention span was proving to be shorter than a three year old at a zoo, he thought with a loud sigh, seeing that she was back to flipping through the paperwork again. Right now, he was better off taking her home or better yet, to his house where she wouldn't be able to get away once she sobered up. Pleased now that he had a plan of action of sorts that could potentially save his sanity Shunsui walked over and put a firm hand on his vice captain's shoulders. "Nanao chan, we're going now."

"Where are we going? Did you forget to tell me about an assignment?" The outrage back in her eyes Nanao's hands went automatically to her hips, in a pose very similar to one a mother takes when her son's come home with his new shoes dirty.

"No, I didn't forget to tell you about an assignment. You're coming home with me." He informed her patiently, praying for sanity and the patience to deal with her in her current condition. This was his punishment, he decided, for using her drunken state to find out more about her. Now he'd just found out she loved him and there was nothing he could do to convince her he felt the same way about her. She hadn't even meant to tell him in the first place for Christ sakes. Than again, since when had she not driven him crazy and vice versa?

"I'm coming home with you? How come? Are you picking me up?" Dark eyes going wide behind her glasses Nanao's hands dropped away from her hips in obvious shock over the idea. "You've never tried that before. You've never even tried to kiss me!"

"Because you never told me you were interested in me! You always got mad when I hit on you!" Just thinking of all the wasted years they could have been together was enough to drive him bonkers, if she didn't first!

Only because you hit on anything in a skirt! If you'd just hit on me we would already be at your house and we wouldn't be having this argument!"

"Why would we already be at my house?"

"Because we'd be sleeping together, you idiot!"


Both annoyed and frazzled now it was a toss up as to who was closer to saying to hell with it and leaving the other in the office first. Shunsui was determined to have this out though so he called on what little strength of will he had left and taking her arm tugged her in the direction of the door. "I'm not picking you up, I'm taking you home so that you can sober up while I supervise. Then you and I are going to have a very, very long talk, Nanao chan."

"For the last time I'm not drunk!"

"If you weren't drunk would you have told me that you loved me?"


His ears ringing over her outraged announcement Shunsui didn't know whether to comfort her or be amused at her mortified outrage. "Don't worry, it's only temporary. You'll be back to your dignified, sober self in no time." He assured her with a smile, patting her shoulder comfortingly as he opened the door for her, herding her out into the cool night air.

"She's going to pay for this." Nanao muttered, referring to Matsumoto who was thankfully not within strangling reach. "This is not how I pictured this at all."

"Pictured what?" Shunsei asked curiously, drawing her into his arms for warmth and to make their transportation from their office to his home a lot quicker. The sooner they were inside and out of this chilly air the better.

"You taking me home after I told you I loved you. This isn't nearly as romatic and my underwear is completely inappropriate for the occasion. Uh oh...I didn't just say that outloud, did I? "

"Nanao chan...there's a lot you've said tonight that you're going to wish you hadn't said outloud in the morning."

"I think...for once..you're absolutely right, Sir."