A/N: Hello beloved readers! This story originated from a scene which I decided to cut out of Tossed Aside, but it is modified slightly to make a pleasing one-shot which has nothing to do with that story except for the two loveable main characters. I could not help but notice that there is an unsatisfying number of Shunsui/Nanao stories out there, and to hopefully rectify that situation, I am going to issue a challenge, the details of which are located at the bottom of this story. Also, to those of you who requested stories, I am working diligently and will eventually get through them all. If you would like to make a request, please read the statement in my profile!

Meet Me Halfway
A Shunsui and Nanao One-shot
By BlackVelvetBand

This is dedicated to all of the readers who requested more Shunsui and Nanao.
And to the girl whose name I stole, you know who you are.

Ise Nanao glanced around quickly in order to make sure that she was completely alone. Hoisting her foot up onto a handy lower branch, she ascended to her retreat; a large wooden platform nestled in the high branches of an ancient oak tree.

The gnarled tree was located on a deserted piece of property on the outskirts of the Seireitei once owned by a fallen noble clan. The platform had probably been installed as play place for the family children. The house Nanao was certain had once stood there, was already long gone when she came upon her hidden abode. She happened to have wandered there on her first day off, a little over two hundred years ago, looking for a peaceful and Taichō-free place to read. The platform, unlike the house, was sheltered by the branches of the tree and had been in reasonable condition. Nanao had reinforced it with a few handy kidō spells and climbed into the tree, slightly curious. Ever since then, it had become her sanctuary for the times she needed solitude to think or wanted more privacy than her quarters provided.

Nanao sighed contentedly. She sank into a sitting position, taking a moment to enjoy the calming trickle of the stream which ran near the base of the tree. The water glittered, almost seeming to wink at Nanao as if it understood her reason for coming there, a few hours alone with her guilty pleasure. A few, brief, blissful hours free from the overwhelming presence of Kyōraku Shunsui, the man she was inexplicably attracted to.

Her Taichō was a womanizer with a hefty reputation, she knew this. However, he was the only man who had pursued her so relentlessly for such a long period of time.

Shunsui was one in a small group of men who had tried their hand at convincing Ise Nanao to come into their beds. Only two of that number had succeeded and only one encounter out of the pair could have been called passable at best.

It was not that Nanao did not want that type of relationship. It just so happened that the man who had caught Nanao's interest was her superior officer, who often chased anything with breasts. Strangely, he seemed to find Nanao's most appealing.

But Nanao did not have the reputation as one of the most intelligent shinigami for nothing. She was not stupid enough to believe that entering into a relationship with Kyōraku Shunsui would end in anything but disaster, perhaps mutual, strained friendship at best.

Despite their mismatched appearance, Shunsui and Nanao worked well together. The two shared an odd friendship, something that was absent among the leading teams of many of the other divisions. Nanao did not want to jeopardize that closeness. If she was forced to leave the Eighth Division, who would be there to ferry through the wreckage for survivors when the squad literally drowned in paperwork?

No, it was much better to feign disgust and pray that the attraction would pass. In the meantime, she would read the new romance novel Matsumoto had forced on her and indulge in harmless fantasies involving her captain.

Settling with her back against the tree, Nanao cracked open the front cover reverently and began to read.

- - -

It was a little past mid-afternoon when Nanao finally reached what Matsumoto would call the 'juicy' part of the book. Sprawled out on her stomach, Nanao sighed wistfully as the hero came upon the heroine in a large grassy field near a pond on the outskirts of the enormous castle which belonged to the girl' father.

Derek stood across the pond yet, the small body of water was not all that separated the two lovers.

"I love you," he shouted and Gabriella felt her heart clench.

"Does that matter in the slightest, sir?" she called miserably back. "You and I can never love each other. The world will not permit it!"

"The world will have no choice," he exclaimed. "Our fates are our own to decide, can you not see that? Yes, our love may end in sadness as some do, but what are we to be if we do not act on our feelings? Pining away, miserable without the other, having to hide our feelings from each other and the world! If the result that could be achieved by giving in is more desirable, and the alternative the same as if you never acted at all, what have we to lose, my darling?"

Gabriella's hand flew to her throat, the other clenching the fabric of her elaborate gown. She knew in her heart he was right and what had denial brought them so far…pain and misery. She knew she could not pretend any longer…

"Nothing," she whispered, but the water seemed to carry the message across its rippling surface to the man she so desperately wanted. "We have nothing to fear."

"Then meet me half-way, Ella my love!" Derek cried, sprinting around the surface of the pond toward her. Gabriella lifted the many layers of her jewel-encrusted skirt and ran as fast as she could into the arms of her love. He caught her around the waist and crushed her against his velvet tunic before his lips smothered hers in a blistering kiss.

His hand trailed slowly down her side…"

It was not until that moment, caught up in her book as she was, did Nanao notice the presence of a person next to her― a person who was lazily stroking his fingers up and down her side.

Shrieking in surprise, Nanao turned over to see none other than her Taichō sitting next to her, framed in his ridiculously pink haori and grinning from ear to ear.

"Kyōraku Taichō," Nanao barked, readjusting her glasses and scrambling to sit up. "What are you doing?"

Shunsui merely gave her a lazy smile. "Why, sitting with my Nanao-chan, of course."

"Shouldn't you be in the office?" she demanded indignantly, furious at being found just when things were getting steamy.

This was getting ridiculous. He harassed her enough as it was but he usually respected her one and only day off.

"How could I remain in the office when my lovely Nanao-chan did not show up for work today?" Shunsui protested, enveloping her diminutive hand in both of his. Nanao flushed brilliantly. She moved to yank her hand out of his vice-like grip when she was stopped by the genuine look of anxiety on his face.

"Is something wrong, sir?" she asked bemusedly.

"I thought something had happened to you," Shunsui replied, tilting his hat up with one finger before encasing her hand again. "When Ran-san and I were in the bar last night, we overheard some men in the Eleventh Division say they have taken a…liking to my Nanao-chan." His fingers traced over her upturned palm gently. "I've been looking for you for over an hour, but my tricky little Nanao had her reiatsu masked."

Nanao shook her head slightly. "It is the nineteenth of August, sir. I told you yesterday that I wouldn't be into the office today," she sighed, wondering why she couldn't find the willpower to withdraw her hand from his grip. "If you would just listen to me, you needn't have worried."

"But I do listen to my Nanao-chan!" Shunsui protested. "How can one not listen to the dulcet strains of her lovely voice? However, I hear what is more important… the softly sung secrets of her heart."

Usually, this would have caused Nanao to laugh in Shunsui's face but she was incredibly frightened that her warrior-poet Captain, who was much wiser than he appeared, actually could read into the silent, deep, dark caverns of her hidden attraction.

Wrenching her hand from his finally, Nanao tried to ignore the tingling sensation which was still affecting the piece of anatomy. She picked up her book and turned her back on him perfunctorily.

"Well, if you could listen to the softly whispered secrets of someone else's heart back in the office, it would be most appreciated," she snapped, opening the book once more and pretending to read.

"Why would I want to go listen to someone else's heart?" Shunsui drawled, moving so that his front was pressed against her back. He leaned down so that his lips barely caressed her ear and rumbled in his deep, earthy voice, "Your's is the only one I want, Nanao."

Nanao stiffened. He had dropped the diminutive from her name which was always a dangerous sign. Shunsui only did that when he was being completely, totally, and utterly, serious.

"Taichō, I kindly request that you vacate the premises so I can be left in peace to read," Nanao said firmly trying to ignore the undignified cart-wheeling of her heart.

"And how are you going to do that?" Shunsui asked with genuine interest in his voice. His breath tickled the nape of her neck and she shivered slightly. Nanao swore she could feel his victorious smile.

"What do you mean, Taichō?" Nanao asked crisply.

"Your book is upside down, Nanao-chan," Shunsui chuckled, reaching around her to right the betraying object.

She pressed her eyes closed behind her glasses and prayed to the gods to spare her from this humiliation.

The gods it seemed were enjoying this just as much, if not more than Shunsui.

Shunsui placed his legs on either side of Nanao, resting his chin on her shoulder, his hands resting lightly at her waist.

Nanao blanched. "Sir, this is most inappropriate," she said as evenly as possible but the venom was gone from her voice, replaced by a slight tremor.

"Not as inappropriate as what you're reading, my naughty little Nanao-chan," Shunsui said, his eyebrows shooting up in surprise.

He would never have imagined that Nanao, his serious, organized, and unfailingly practical Nanao would read such frivolous things as romance novels. Especially if said romance novels had very explicit love scenes in them.

But then again, Shunsui mused, remembering his Nanao's face flushed with anger as she berated him for missing the captain's meeting again, hitting him triumphantly with her fan, and the furious blasts of her kidō in battle. Shunsui had always believed there was a passonate woman lying dormant in Nanao. He had wanted to try and awaken it, but now he knew she was trying to suppress it. The knowledge excited Shunsui as he wondered just how long it would take the smothered woman in her to break free.

"Yare," he said, his eyes scanning the page from the point where Derek met the fair lady Gabriella at the pond to the page opposite where Derek had the fair lady on her back in the grass.

Nanao, her mind so clouded with Shunsui's presence and her ultimate mortification at her Taichō's discovery, had little sense of mind left to close the book.

"Derek pressed his lips to soft flesh of Gabriella's neck and she trembled against him…" Shunsui trailed off in his reading.

Raising an eyebrow as a wonderfully reckless idea popped into his brain Shunsui bent down and pressed his own lips to the glorious curve where Nanao's shoulder met the column of her throat. Shunsui wondered idly how straight her back could go before it broke as he trailed kisses up to just below her ear where he bit gently down on the skin and Nanao had to stifle a groan.

"Kyōraku Taichō," she whispered, terrified.

"You're not trembling Nanao," Shunsui said slowly as his teeth closed gently on an earlobe. "You're supposed to tremble."

And tremble she did when one large, sunbrowned hand spread itself slowly over her stomach, the other reaching up to withdraw the hairpiece which held Nanao's hair so neatly in place.

It unfolded itself to her shoulders and Shunsui delighted in running his hands through the ebony silk.

She sighed softly, leaning into his touch.

"Nanao," he murmured and she turned to look at him, her eyes wide, full of longing, and apprehension.

"Taichō," Nanao whispered, but Shunsui silenced her by placing his mouth over hers.

The man may not be skilled at paperwork but he is certainly skilled at this, was all Nanao could think.

His lips were gentle at the same time they were demanding. He gave all the while he encouraged her to take. Nanao became completely devoid of all coherent thought as Shusnui's tongue came in contact with her own. She turned so that she was kneeling between his legs, barely removing her lips from his. Heat pooled warm and tingling in her stomach, her nerves were singing an aria, and her brain spun from lack of oxygen.

Shunsui pulled her closer too him, her breasts pressed against his chest. Her hands tugged insistently at his shirt. Shunsui was pleasantly surprised at how his Nanao had responded to him. She had not yet pushed him away; instead she was kissing him as though her life depended on it, straddling his legs. Shunsui's hand ghosted tantalizingly over her side and she gave a full out breathy moan, rocking slightly against him. He hissed as a shockwave of pleasure shot through him.

Shunsui broke the kiss, his lips once more blazing a trail down Nanao's throat and lower, nipping along the edge of Nanao's shirt. Shunsui's hand found the sash which secured the garment and grinned up at her. "I didn't read too far, but I believe he next removes the lady's gown," he breathed with a sultry smile. He kissed her leisurely this time, his hand continuing its previously appointed job.

He frowned when Nanao tore her lips from his and pushed him away roughly, scuttling towards safety. Forgetting where she was, Nanao's hand slipped over the edge of the platform and she would have fallen if Shunsui hadn't grabbed her wrist in time. He pulled her toward the center of the platform, to what he considered safety. Nanao began to think she should have taken the fall as a long silence fell between them.

"How long have you felt this way, Nanao?" Shunsui asked, his dark eyes gazing fixedly at the top of her head, as she had her head bowed as she knelt in front of him.

Nanao attempted to fix her incredibly wrinkled shirt before reaching up to adjust her glasses which she belatedly realized weren't there anymore. They glinted on the platform behind Shunsui and despite the fact that she felt incredibly exposed without them, she wasn't about to go near him to retrieve them.

"It was a mistake, sir," she whispered. "I-I got carried away. It has nothing to do with feelings of any sort. You should know that," she added bitingly, her voice stronger than when she had started.

"Bullshit," Shunsui replied emphatically.

"Excuse me?" Nanao queried darkly.

"You heard me, Nanao," Shunsui said. "I've been your Taichō for over a century. I know you well enough that you don't run around kissing people because it's fun. You have to feel something for them or else like you're cheating them out of something."

He put his hand under her chin, jerking her unguarded and startled gaze up to meet his eyes. "You must feel something. And… if you don't act on it, you're cheating us both," his deep voice was softer now, almost pleading.

"But we can't," Nanao whispered.

"Yare, Nanao-chan, why not?" Shunsui returned.

"It's not allowed. The rules don't permit it―" She was cut off as Shunsui held the lurid novel at eye level in front of her face.

"Read your own book, Nanao-chan," he chuckled, his finger pointing to the passage he wanted her to look at.

Frowning, Nanao took the book.

"The world will have no choice," Nanao read aloud. "Our fates are our own to decide, can you not see that? Yes, our love may end in sadness as some do, but what are we to be if we do not act on our feelings? Pining away, miserable without the other, having to hide our feelings from each other and the world! If the result that could be achieved by giving in is more desirable, and the alternative the same as if you never acted at all―"

"What have we to lose, Nanao?" Shunsui said, plucking the book out of her hands and setting it aside.

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, her mind in overdrive. She wanted this terribly and yet…there were so many things stopping her. She had feelings for her Taichō, strong ones. He must have felt at least some of that as he was willing to try a relationship with her.

When had she become so cowardly? When was the last time she stood up and took what she wanted?

"What have we to lose, Nanao-chan?" Shunsui repeated carefully, one large hand reaching up to cup her cheek. Her large, spectacular violet-blue eyes opened slowly, and the look in them rendered Shunsui momentarily breathless.

"Nothing," Nanao replied. "We have nothing to be afraid of."

Shunsui pulled her back into his lap with a dazzling grin.

"Then meet me halfway, Nanao-chan

my love," he said, leaning in slightly.

And she did.

A/N: Review! Or I will have Shusui follow you around endlessly singing songs from High School Musical while completely inebriated with sake!

BlackVelvetBand's Shunsui and Nanao Challenge

RULES: All entries must involve Shunsui and Nanao involved romantically and must be short in length. This means that stories can be no longer than five chapters. Stories can be original and do not have to subscribe to the prompts below, however if you work better with a prompt please feel free to use one.

All people entering the contest must notify me (by private message or review ) of their intention to enter by Saturday September 2. Actual fics are due for submission the following Sunday.

I will read all of the entries along with a small group of impartial judges (anyone want to volunteer?) and we will award the best story with the crown of Best Overall Entry. Other titles as well as those planning on submitting fics will be listed shortly in my profile.

I hope that this challenge is received well and that we can fill the world with more delicious Shunsui and Nanao stories.

Possible Prompts:

1. blue haori, crushed glasses, and the quote "slippery sea monster"

2. odd behavior, cookies, and the quote "Great balls of Kidō!"

3. red lipstick, ponytail, and the quote "Play it again, Nanao."

4. bandages, singed eyebrows and the quote "I enjoy wriggling my toes"

5. tongue twisters, blonde hair, and the quote "my cup runneth over."