A/N: Hello again good readers! I recently posted a challenge on the main forums but was quickly informed by one of my courteous readers that doing so violates our terms of agreement on this site. I must admit that I have been a member here for quite sometime, though my penname has undergone many revisions and I had written no stories until this past spring. Because of this, I was lax during my re-reading of the terms. I apologize for this breach. I had this little gem for a short, chaptered story tucked away however, and it seemed fitting, as I am promoting my Shunsui and Nanao Challenge that I begin posting the first chapter. If you are interested in entering the challenge, the details are in the author's note at the bottom of the page. (I checked, and there's nothing saying I can't post a challenge in this manner as long as a story precedes it, it is in the author's note and not posted on its own).

A Test of Affection: A Prequel to Tossed Aside
By BlackVelvetBand

Chapter One: The Secret Thorns of Roses

"Good morning, Nanao-chan!" Shunsui Kyōraku sang as he burst through the door of the Eighth Division office in a blur of retina-scarring pink and lurid red, his teeth shining whiter than the mid-afternoon sun.

"I believe you mean good afternoon, sir," Nanao corrected, barely controlling her impulse to roll her eyes at her Taichō of just over a month. Though she was still slightly shocked at how someone so lazy could ever become a captain, Nanao prided herself on her quick ability to adjust to any situation, despite how… unsavory the situation might appear at the time.

Nanao frowned as she completed another piece of tedious paperwork and placed it neatly on the stack with its fellows. She had almost finished her share of the paperwork for the day. She had been planning on taking her usual twenty-minute lunch break before returning to the office in order to wade into the chaos which was her Taichō's half of the office.

It looked as if a paper bomb had exploded, showering the nearby area in crumpled and ink-stained forms, which would need to be painstakingly flattened and completed. However, she was already too aware that the presence of her Taichō at this relatively early hour of the day (for him, at least) denoted that her plans were about to be effectively stamped on with all the youthful exuberance that only her positively insane Taichō could muster.

Shunsui ignored the fact that Nanao was clearly ignoring him as best as she possibly could and ambled into the office, his arms wide and outstretched as if he expected his Fukitaichō to come flying into them.

Nanao snorted derisively at the idea. Though Kyōraku Shunsui was undoubtedly…attractive physically, it was one attraction that Nanao was positive she would never act on. This was not merely because he was her superior officer, but because Nanao was quite certain that any flash of heat she might have felt at that easy smile, the twinkle of his earthen eyes, or the graceful gestures of his calloused hands, was easily squelched beneath the incredible weight of his numerous faults.

For one, Shunsui Kyōraku was a womanizer, and a notorious one at that. He was also a terrible drunkard. Her new Taichō drank more sake in an hour than Nanao drank water in a day. This was saying something as she religiously made sure that she drank the prescribed eight to ten glasses, in order to maintain the optimum level of health.

Kyōraku Taichō was incredibly lazy. He always managed to somehow weasel out of his paperwork. It was easy to see why so many fukutaichōs before her had thrown in the proverbial towel after only a few weeks, months at the most. If one was Fukutaichō of the Eighth, one was second in command when it came to everything else, but commander-in-chief of the paperwork completion.

To top off all of these major faults, there were the other, smaller things which bothered Nanao to no end.

He wrote absolutely detestable poetry, which usually revolved around flowers and sappy sentiments of love for whichever shinigami he happened to be eyeing at the time.

His hair was almost always tousled, even though he kept it pulled out of his face. It grated on her nerves as her hair was constantly and impeccably neat. In addition to this offense, he adamantly refused to prescribe to the dress code, wearing a bright turquoise sash around his hakama. But this garment paled in comparison to that ridiculously flamboyant pink and red haori which he wore like a mantle of serenity everywhere he went.

Honestly, what man proudly wore pink?

But nothing, nothing compared to the fact that he insisted on calling her that detestable nickname.


She had never been 'little' Nanao in her entire life. Anyone who had dared call her such a demeaning thing was usually subjected to the ultimate sentence― the removal of the glasses.

"You're so pensive today, my cute Nanao-chan," Shunsui chided as he leaned on the immaculately polished surface of Nanao's desk. His warm, tan hand closed around the hand which was not clutching the pen she was currently considering ramming into his eyeball.

Nanao gritted her teeth, glaring up at his stupidly smiling face through her flashing lenses.

"We're you thinking about your beloved Taichō?" he teased.

Breathe, Nanao commanded herself.

That was another thing she wanted to strangle Kyōraku Taichō for. Somehow, he had gotten it into his evidently pea-sized brain that he should pursue the one woman he knew he could never have, ever.


And, to make it all the more infuriating, he proclaimed his undying affections for his 'wonderful, beauteous Nanao-chan' at least ten times a day and always in the presence of another division member. She could not remember ever reading in the list of her responsibilities as a fukitaichō that being mocked repeatedly was one of them.

"Beloved is a strong word, sir," she responded monotonously to his previous insinuation, arching a brow at him. "And I didn't think that being thoughtful was a punishable offense, despite the fact that I would be the only one in the room displaying such a quality."

Shunsui stiffened for a moment, shifting his weight so he was no longer leaning on the desk. Nanao wondered if perhaps in her frustration and annoyance, she had crossed the line, endangering her still rather precarious position as Fukitaichō beyond repair.

Then Shunsui did something she had not expected.

He laughed.

Nanao flushed in anger and a small part of her (one she refused to acknowledge) in relief. Would the mockery never end?

"So, Nanao-chan has a spine beneath the layers of crisp obedience?" Shunsui chuckled, his dark eyes twinkling. He plucked the pen out of Nanao's hand, grinning even further at her outraged expression. "That's very good, because today, my Nanao-chan must trade in her pen for her sword!"

"Kyōraku Taichō, don't be ridic―" she began but then her brain finally registered what he had just said. "What are you talking about, sir?"

"Yare, Nanao-chan, have you stopped listening to your Taichō already?" Shunsui scolded playfully, as he strolled around the desk with the aura of a child who knew a large piece of interesting news and was about to divulge it.

"Certainly not, sir," Nanao replied primly, standing up neatly and brushing non-existent lint from the front of her uniform in a practiced motion. "However, I could have sworn you said that I would be trading in my pen for my sword."

"And so I did," Shunsui said, standing much too close for Nanao's liking. So close, in fact, that she could smell the scent of spicy incense mingled with sake which always lingered in the air whenever he brushed too near her (which was quite frequently). Nanao was forced to crane her neck in order to look him in the eye. Shunsui appeared to delight in the knowledge that his broad frame dwarfed her petite one.

"Explain, sir," Nanao demanded, refusing to break his gaze, despite the fact that she was practically melting from the heat rendered from this unaccustomed closeness.

"We have a date, my Nanao-chan," Shunsui informed her, his face inches away from her own.

Truly, he delighted in the steely glower she gave him. His new straight-laced Fukutaichō was simply too much fun to tease.

However, Shunsui reflected as he thought about how efficiently she finished the loathsome paperwork, the delightful way she resisted his advances (unlike many of the other female vice-captains before her) and, most of all, that everything about her virtually perfect appearance screamed for him to come and ruffle her feathers. Oh how he longed to discover the real woman who lay beneath the polished marble exterior.

Yes, Nanao had only been with him for a month, but he was already more attached and intrigued by her than he had been to the last five women who had preceded her. One month was hardly long enough to scratch the surface of Ise Nanao. Yet, the time had come for Shunsui to put his new Fukutaichō to the test.

He would find out if Nanao-chan intended to last.

He was surprised at how very badly he wanted her to.

Shunsui wrenched himself out of his reverie in order to enjoy the brand new flush which was rapidly blooming across her elegant features.

"Sir," she said warningly.

"Relax, my Nanao-chan," Shunsui said, tweaking her nose just to watch her reaction. "I merely meant that you and I have a date in the real world…with hollows," he added, as her hand darted up to adjust her glasses.

She had never removed them in his presence but he had heard from her good friend Matsumoto Rangiku that it was never a good thing when she did.

"Begging your pardon, Kyōraku Taichō," Nanao said, sincerely nonplussed. "Why aren't they sending lower-seated shinigami to dispose of the problem?"

"Because I asked them not to," Shunsui said cheerfully. "They were going to send a different Fukutaichō and a third seat from another squad, but I humbly asked if we could take their place."

"May I ask why, sir?" Nanao asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

"Of course," Shunsui said. "I have heard rumors that this beautiful rose has dangerous thorns. I want to see if these particular rumors are true," he added, leaning down slightly so that his lips hovered over hers.

"Sir," Nanao breathed, determinedly maintaining the uncomfortable lack of distance between them.

"Yes, sweet Nanao-chan?" Shunsui replied, his voice low and husky.

"What happened that there's such a high concentration of hollows in one location?"

Shunsui grinned at the practical question. She was the only woman to have ever uttered such a… useful thing at this distance from his lips. His smile faded as he remembered the real reason that he and Nanao were going on this outing.

"A landslide near a small village in the mountains," he replied quietly. "There were few survivors."

"Oh," Nanao whispered. For once words seemed to have failed her.

"So," Shunsui said, his tone falsely bright, "you must fetch your zanpakutō, Nanao-chan. Unless you want me to get it for you," he added with a roguish wink. "I have also heard another rumor that you always keep it tucked inside your shirt, whether we have orders to be armed or not."

He walked his hand down the collar of her shirt, tugging playfully on the folds of it. She slapped his hand away sharply.

"Thorns indeed," he murmured appreciatively as his hand smarted from the force of her blow.

"I am sufficiently prepared, sir," she snapped, her violet eyes flashing menacingly behind the wire frames.

"I am as well!" Shunsui cried, throwing back his haori to reveal his Katen Kyōkotsu hanging nonchalantly from his belt.

"Come then, my lovely Nanao-chan," Shunsui said, grabbing her hand and tugging her after him and out the door. "It is time to see what you're made of!"

Nanao drew in a sharp breath. She was not sure if it derived from her nervousness at the possibility of failing miserably at the first real task her Taichō had set for her, or from the unexpected tingling sensation which was currently dancing up her arm from where his warm hand had wrapped itself securely around hers.

A/N: Review, or Nanao will remove the glasses!

Also, don't forget to check out and enter:

The Shunsui and Nanao Challenge

Presented by BlackVelvetBand

To Enter:

Write a short story, no more than five chapters. One-shots are perfectly acceptable.

Stories can either be completely original or if you choose to, may follow one of the five prompts offered below. Again, prompts are there to use if you want to use them, using a prompt is not required.

There is no rating limit and no specific word limit.

If you decide to enter the challenge, contact me by sending a PM stating your intention to enter the challenge. I will be keeping a list of competitors so that no one gets lost in the shuffle. This step must be completed by Saturday, September 2.

When you are ready to submit, post your story as you would normally do on Then, contact me, either using the information provided in my profile or through PM that your story is ready for submission along with its title. I have created a C2 archive where all challenge entries can be found in one easy place both by those looking to read, and those of us who are judging.

Entries must be completed and submitted by Sunday, September 9.

After all entries are "collected" I and a small panel of volunteer judges (who have already contacted me) will read the submissions. Awards (listed below) will be distributed to the best written stories.

Authors may submit more than one entry, but no author will win more than one award. Writing more than one story however, increases your chances of such an occurrence, and fills the world with more Shunsui/Nanao.


The Pink Haori: Best Overall Story

Katen Kyōkotsu: Best Action Sequence

The Rose Petal: Best Dramatic Piece

The Flashing Glasses Award: Best Unseen Plot-twist

The Sake Bottle: Most Creative Plotline

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."

Much thanks to those of you who already entered, keep working on those stories.

Even if you usually don't ship Shunsui/Nanao or have never tried writing them before, give it a shot. Talent can never be proven unless it is challenged.