A/N: Hey! I finally managed to get around to paying attention to my reader's requests. I was asked to write on this particular pairing by RaeSJ a looooong time ago, when I published Running Away. So here you go! I'm sorry it took so long K Muah
Ise Nanao was a woman of principle; she had always put duty before pleasure, always done the right thing no matter the sacrifice it required. She had worked day and night in the Academy because she thought that was what it took to be a good Shinigami. She practiced endlessly to train herself for the performance that Soul Society would expect of her. She did all that she did just so she would be able to hold her head up high, so that she would never have to go back to where she had come from. She rejoiced quietly in the dignity with which other people treated her and worked herself to the bone just to keep that respect. She spent so long a time buried in her books, under the burden of her pride that she forgot how to live.
Matsumoto Rangiku had been a blessing in disguise, not to mention a very unwanted one at the time. She had stumbled into Nanao's quarters when they were both lowly seated-officers, thoroughly drunk and exceedingly insistent that 'librarian-girl' come out and play. Nanao, after being dragged out by her nose, had thought that one round of sake to pacify the rather homicidal blonde-haired woman could not do her much harm…and it was a weekend after all. Matsumoto managed to get Nanao drunk and although Nanao still makes it a point to turn up her nose at the mention of the events of that fateful night, she still considered it the only occasion when she had felt so utterly uninhibited. They had ended up at Matsumoto's place nursing colossal hangovers and much bruised modesties. It still surprises her that it took one joke and a throaty cackle from Rangiku to make her realize that it had been years since she had laughed.
Her second emancipation came on the day she was promoted to Vice-Captain, under the 8th Squad Captain; Kyouraku Shunsui. The moment the man floated in with his pink flowery coat with his bottle of sake and his profuse lack of manners, he set off a twinge in her that took her otherwise brilliant mind years to interpret. To her surprise, she realized that the twinge in her was actually envy. Envy towards the drunken, womanizing, slothful escapist she called Taichou. Because Ise Nanao was no fool, never had been. She knew that the life of a shinigami was fickle, no matter how long it lasted. She knew that in this world the next moment could be your last. Kyouraku Shunsui made her feel like she had been missing out on the fun side of life. In time, he made her feel like she had been missing out on life itself. It took a couple of hundred more years full of his liveliness and utter lack of reserve to make her feel like he was her life.
Nanao was used to summing people up with one glance. Her observational and inferential skills were unmatched. She could deduce a man's entire personality through one quick glimpse of his fingernails. She had been confident, secure in her ability to see through to people's weaknesses and strengths, and to manipulate them to suit either hers or their best interests. Kyouraku Shunsui, however much she had denied it, was the only person she could not understand. His entire being was cloaked in thick fog to her mathematical eyes, leaving her unsure and questioning herself. She just didn't know what to make of him. He was a square peg that she tried to fit into her neat, round slots, trying doggedly even though she knew he wouldn't fit. The man was a mass of impulses, tagging after her quoting tacky love poems one moment and turning into a beacon of strength and power the next.
He made her feel…incomplete. She decided she didn't like being that way at all.
Soon after he had 'saved' her from Genryuusai Sama and sent her heart skittering from her grasp, she concluded that she couldn't take it anymore. One moment she felt like she was walking on air. The next, she felt like the gods had assigned a special little raincloud to hover over her head.
So when she showed up at his door in the middle of the night her decision was firm. Tonight she would finish this masochistic torture. She had agonized for a while whether he would be sober enough to actually…follow her plan, until a little voice in her head told her that he was never truly drunk, he just pretended to be.
The shoji rolled back, revealing Shunsui in a yukata, rubbing sleep from his eyes. It took him a second to realize who was standing on his veranda. Brows lifted amusedly he motioned for her to enter before sliding the door shut and leaning against the doorjamb to survey her playfully.
"Nanao-Chan? Why are you here so late at night? Have you come to seduce me?" the man grinned as his eyebrows waggled suggestively. Nanao pushed her glasses up delicately with her forefinger before gathering all her courage and drawing on all of Matsumoto's abundant advice, fixed him with the most heated gaze she could muster.
"Yes. Yes, I have."