When Kyouraku Shunsui sneaked into his division offices, he expected to find his vice-captain hard at work. She had, after all, been poring over papers when he left earlier to attend a party, and had barely spared a moment to sniff disapprovingly as he staggered out.

It was several cups of wine later now, and he had decided he couldn't just leave her to work all night. He'd drag her out if he had to. Or emerge from the shadows behind her and murmur in her ear, just to hear that sweet familiar shriek and have her beat him over the head with her book.

He came in on tiptoe, his reiatsu muffled, and peeped through the crack in the door to determine the best angle of approach. His Nanao-chan was sitting at her desk, perfectly composed, finishing off the last of a pile of forms.

She sighed and put down her brush, flexed her hands, and stretched, pushing her chair back from the desk. Then she undid her sash.

Now, at this point, Shunsui was aware, a gentleman would either reveal his presence (and probably be blown through the wall) or politely withdraw himself. But she was his Nanao-chan, and he was dreadfully curious. And he'd always wondered if she had tattoos under there.

She leaned back in the chair and folded back her hakama, neat and precise as ever in the light from the desk lamp. Then she slid open one of the less conspicuous drawers on her desk, and began to lay out items on the desk surface. A thin but elegant black vibrator. A small remote. Two clips.

Shunsui pursed his lips in a silent whistle as he watched. He'd had no idea.

She opened her jacket enough to slide down the bindings on her breasts and apply the clips to her nipples, adjusting them to some tightness that clearly suited her, then closed it again, settling its folds so that it hung in perfect neatness. She slid the vibrator up into herself with the same precision, arching her back as it went in, then drew her loincloth back into place, closed her hakama, and tied her sash again.

The click as she turned the remote on was the loudest noise in the room. She closed her eyes for a moment, opened them, glanced at the clock, then slipped the small remote into her desk drawer and slid the drawer shut.

After perhaps a minute, she shifted in her chair, rubbing her legs together.

The poor girl. He felt a sudden, wine-assisted surge of charity towards his poor beautiful Nanao-chan. To have to sit here all by herself and time herself by the clock, without any real sense of erotic excitement or tension! How could she be getting any sort of genuine release out of this self-imposed austerity?

Clearly he had to do something about it.

"Nanao-chan!" He swept in grandly, and ignored her look of total shock, the twitch of her hand towards the desk drawer. "I've been thinking about it, and I couldn't abandon my beautiful vice-captain to sit by herself all night."

"Truly, Captain," she said through gritted teeth, "I like sitting by myself all night."

"Nonsense!" He caught her wrist and tugged her up from the chair in a flurry of sleeves. "The party was perfect, it couldn't have been better, except in one particular. My lovely Nanao-chan wasn't there to share it with me. And I feel it's my duty to take you along."

There was a growing panic in her eyes. "Kyouraku-taichou, I must insist --"

"So must I," he declared, and swept her up in his arms and along out of the room, leaving the lamp burning lonely on the desk behind them.

She squirmed in his arms, and he could hear her breath coming faster. "Kyouraku-taichou, please, I --"

"Just think how pleased everyone will be to see you!" he interrupted. "Retsu-chan and Rangiku-chan are there, and Jyuushirou, and they were all accusing me of keeping you chained to your desk." He heard her breath catch. "Now don't make me out to be a slave-driver, Nanao-chan. Just show your face for a few minutes and share a cup of wine or two."

"If you insist, Kyouraku-taichou," she said, eyes lowered.

He was sure little wheels of calculation were going round in her head, calculating times and possibilities and how long she could maintain an icy demeanour. He was wondering just the same thing.

Flash stepping across half a dozen roofs, he landed just outside the garden where the party was taking place, and restored his Nanao-chan to her feet. "There you are," he said brightly.

"I should really tidy myself," she protested quickly. "My hair must be all over the place after that . . ."

"My Nanao-chan is as beautiful as she always is." He draped an arm over her shoulders, casually moving it so that he drew the thick silks of his sleeve across her breast, and watched her bite her lip for a moment. "Come on in and let all the other Captains envy me for having such a perfect vice-captain."

She drew herself up stiffly, back straight as a ramrod, and let him guide her in to the party.

Ten minutes later, she was visibly sweating. It wasn't very obvious in the dim light and the glare from the fireworks, but he was close enough to see it, and to note the flush in her cheeks. He hadn't let her out of his sight -- or even more than a few yards away from him -- since they came in, and as they'd been circulating to greet the other Captains and vice-captains present, no doubt the tensions were quite different from if she had been demurely sitting down and concentrating on filing forms.

"Is anything the matter, my Nanao-chan?" he cooed.

"Yes," she said, a little desperately. "I think I've got a bit of a temperature. It's probably just a cold, but I don't want to infect anyone. I should --"

"You should have some wine," he said firmly, and picked up two cups from the table next to them. "Ah. Quite a good vintage. Oh come now, Nanao-chan, you shouldn't gulp it like that -- hold the cup to your lips and let the wine caress your tongue like a lover, drink it gently as if you were drawing out the depths of a kiss -- oh, hello there, Rangiku-chan!"

"Kyouraku-taichou!" Rangiku greeted him cheerfully. She was in blooming health and excellent spirits. Her Captain, somewhere below the level of her bosom, was clearly bored out of his mind. "Nanao! Is something the matter?"

"Hitsugaya-taichou," Nanao said, sounding a little distracted. "Rangiku-san. I'm terribly sorry, I'm just a little --"

"My Nanao-chan has a cold and a headache from sitting doing reports all on her own in a lonely office," Shunsui declared. "I brought her here to cheer her up."

"Oh, you poor thing!" Rangiku threw her arms round Nanao in a hug that Shunsui would certainly have appreciated. "You're absolutely right, Kyouraku-taichou. Her pulse is really high."

"I just need a bit of time on my own," Nanao said plaintively, lips trembling.

"What you need is to have your friends round you," Rangiku said firmly. "And --" She leaned in to murmur something in Nanao's ear.

Nanao flushed. "Really! I d-don't need anything of the sort!"

"Stop it, Matsumoto," Hitsugaya said wearily. "Ise-san, I'm sorry that she's pestering you like this. Perhaps you ought to lie down with some ice."

"Ice," Nanao said, a little desperately. "Yes. Ice would be a wonderful thing. Cool and frosty and soothing . . ."

"Great big spikes of ice like Toushirou here can make," Shunsui said helpfully, "rising unstoppably towards the heavens in huge proud surging --"

"Kyouraku-taichou!" Rangiku interrupted him, which was a pity, as he'd just been putting together some really descriptive adjectives. "It's nothing like that."

"I certainly hope not," Nanao whispered.

"I've upset my poor Nanao-chan," Shunsui said, ignoring the pointed glare that Hitsugaya was giving him. "Honour demands that I get her more wine. Do have a good evening, Rangiku-chan, Toushirou."

He steered his Nanao-chan back to the buffet tables, and let his hand drift down from her waist to her hip, observing happily how neatly her curve fitted the palm of his hand. She didn't even try to stop him, but was concentrating on her breathing, eyes fixed on the ground in front of her with a very glassy stare.

Ukitake drifted across, steaming cup of tea in his hand. He'd managed to lose both his third seats somewhere, and was clearly in a good mood. "Is something the matter, Ise-kun?"

"Ukitake-taichou is very kind," she got out in a single breath. "I have a bit of a headache, I should probably go home . . ."

Jyuushirou's eyes widened in concern. He leaned across to lay his hand on her forehead. "You're burning up, Ise-kun. Shunsui, how could you drag the poor girl here with a fever like this?"

"She just needs some more wine," Shunsui said happily, watching the way that Nanao tried not to lean into Jyuushirou's hand, her face tight with strain. "Best medicine ever invented. Jyuushirou, keep an eye on my poor Nanao-chan while I get her something to drink, won't you?"

"Of course," Jyuushirou said quickly. He shifted his hand to Nanao's shoulder, and gently led her across to one of the seats. Shunsui was able to observe their quiet negotiation about how you should sit down, Ise-kun, I can't sit in your presence, sir, no, really, don't be ridiculous, I absolutely insist.

He smiled in the shadow of his hat at the way that she bit down a whimper when she sat, and took his time about returning with the wine.

His Nanao-chan was doing her very best to hold up a conversation with Jyuushirou, but even her very best wasn't quite good enough. "Yes," she said distractedly. "I quite agree."

Jyuushirou blinked at her. A flare from the fireworks tinted his white hair red. "What, that Ichimaru-taichou is the perfect next choice for Commander?"

"Ah." She swallowed. "That is, I agree that he isn't. I mean, not that his private life has anything to do with anything other than whatever he may be doing with people or . . ."

"Or his shikai," Shunsui said gravely. "So long and so flexible."

Nanao muttered something incoherent about swords and gratefully drowned it in the cup of wine that he held out to her.

Jyuushirou gave him a look above Nanao's bowed head. You're up to something dubious and we'll be discussing it later. Shunsui smiled back happily. I know, and isn't it fun?

"Perhaps my Nanao-chan would like to see the fireworks from a higher vantage-point?" he suggested. "Out of the crowd a little?"

Nanao looked up desperately. "Yes. Yes, if I could just be alone -- just a moment -- to compose myself -- if you wouldn't mind, Kyouraku-taichou --"

"My Nanao-chan's wish is my command," he informed her. In a swooping and certainly not drunk at all movement he scooped her up and nodded to Jyuushirou, and moments later they were in one of the bowers on the edge of the party, unoccupied and unwatched.

Enough was enough. He'd had his fun, and now he'd let her have hers. "I'll just watch to make sure that nobody disturbs you, Nanao-chan," he said, bending to put her trembling form down on one of the benches. "If you need any help, just call me --"

"Don't go," she gasped, holding onto him. Her whole body was shaking. She wrapped her arms round his waist, burying her face in the folds of his clothing, and he put a gentle arm round her as her back arched and as she shuddered and moaned into the silk of his robe.

"There," he said, rubbing her back as her body finally stilled. "There, there, Nanao-chan. It's all right. I'm sorry, Nanao-chan, I just wanted you to enjoy yourself . . ."

"Kyouraku-taichou," she said, her voice muffled. "Please will you let me go and then turn around and not look until I tell you that you can."

He released her and rose like a gentleman, striding to the door and standing there to look out at the fireworks, and did his best to ignore the sounds of clothing being arranged, and the little gasps, and the other interesting noises coming from behind him.

"You can look now, Kyouraku-taichou," she said.

He turned back to see her sitting primly on the bench, hands folded in her lap. A flush still lingered on her cheeks and lips, but otherwise she was quite the usual composed vice-captain that he was accustomed to seeing.

"My Nanao-chan is all right?" he asked quickly.

"I am, sir." Her lips thinned. "I appreciate that Kyouraku-taichou spared me public embarrassment. I could wish that he hadn't got me into it in the first place."

He shrugged. "My Nanao-chan, I will never do such a thing again. Unless you tell me to, of course. I admit that I came in at an unfortunate moment . . ."

She blushed.

He bent over to purr in her ear. "But I don't think that my Nanao-chan's enjoyment would have been quite that . . . extreme . . . if she had simply been sitting in her office with a good book."

"Sir," she said flatly, "don't push your luck."

He wondered speculatively how well she'd last in a Vice-Captains' meeting with that sort of distraction.

He also made a mental note to empty his and Jyuushirou's desk drawers before she could investigate them.

He didn't want her getting any ideas, after all.