Nanao was in an exceptionally foul mood. Her feet ached, thanks to the lack of coverage the office felt drafty and a little too cold to be comfortable and the makeup Rangiku and Nemu had slapped on her face was beginning to itch…
Not to mention the dozen or so subordinates hovering around to 'help her with the paperwork' when she knew all they were doing was trying to do was peek down her shirt.
But what really got to her was that the reason she was putting up with this and not giving everything the death-glare had turned tail and fled within minutes of seeing her
"Look at you~! Doesn't she look gorgeous Nemu chan?" Rangiku sat back happily to survey her handiwork. Isane fidgeted. Nemu nodded solemnly.
"You look very appropriate for your mission, 8th Squad Lieutenant Ise. Were I a male I would very much like to copulate with you."
Nanao blanched as Rangiku elbowed Nemu urgently in the ribs, her smile taking a turn for strained. Isane merely flailed rather helplessly as Kiyone giggled into her hand.
"Why do you poke me so, 11th Squad Lieutenant Matsumoto? I was trying to let Lieutenant Ise know how open and accepting to spontaneous bouts of intercourse she now looks. Was that not the aim of this entire practice?"
Kiyone's giggles evolved into full-blown guffaws as Isane and Nanao dove for the tissues. By the time Rangiku was done booting Nemu out Nanao had succeeded in wiping off most of the hooker-face.
"Rangiku san, I told you not to overdo it! Mou…" Isane complained, dabbing furiously at the purple gook Rangiku had splashed over Nanao's eyelids. Rangiku ignored her and plopped down in front of the now-terrified-guinea-pig.
"Okay, I'll tone it down this time… sheesh, you guys just don't appreciate my talents." She set to work with her brush ( while Isane's background music of 'Natural, go natural Rangiku chan' seemed to be set on repeat) but suddenly stopped mid-stroke.
"Nanao my love, my dear friend, I shall make you beautiful to the best of my abilities, but I have one, just ONE meager condition. Under no circumstances are you to give anyone, and I mean ANYONE, the death-glare."
The girls 'ooh-ed' and nodded at each other. How could they have forgotten such an important facet of the plan? Nanao frowned. Walking around in those torture instruments called heels was fine, smiling that sickening smile the girls made her practice was fine, but keeping the glare under check… that would be challenging…
"Nanao, your answer?" Rangiku brandished her mascara wand with flair and fixed Nanao with an authoritative gaze. Nanao sighed in defeat before nodding. Rangiku squealed happily and bounced up and down.
"Ok, now we haven't established why we're girly-ing you up Nanao. We all know your crazy man and his crazy antics. We also know that although your crazy man can be serious and deep and powerful and all those good things that make us think he's hot and less of an ape, in the end he's a skirt chasing, sake drinking MAN. And I mean that in the most basic sense. Do you follow?"
Nanao cracked open an eye.
"I follow that you're giving me a lot of reasons to not make a fool of myself by indulging in this farce you call seduction…"
Rangiku bopped her head with a brush.
"He's a GUY. A very guy-like guy. Underneath all that *ahem* suavity he's just a guy. And the more masculine they are, the easier they are to read."
Nanao managed a perplexed face even with all the foundation layered on her.
"What I mean is, your guy is very testosterone-driven. Therefore, the easiest way of forcing a response from him is the simplest one. J-e-a-l-o-u-s-y. Jealousy. It's bound to work on him. There's no way he won't be taken by it."
It didn't take much thought on Nanao's part for her to deduce that Rangiku was a genius when it came to men. She told her as much.
Rangiku squawked out her pleasure and grinning, returned to her task with renewed fervor.
He still wasn't back and it was nightfall already. She glanced wistfully out the window before returning to the mindless babble the handsome but brainless 4th seat of the 5th Squad was churning out.
Did this man ever shut up? He was beginning to ride her last nerve on a razorblade. It was a miracle Ahou-dono didn't catch on to her lack of attention, or her oozing murderous intent. He had to be really dense to remain unaware of that…
"—have you been there? I went with my last girlfriend and it was awesome. So was she, by the way… Woo hoo, was she a looker. I only go out with the best you know—"
Oh now he'd done it. Her tongue was cramping from the effort of holding the snark in, and her glasses seemed to have a mind of their own as they slipped down her nose. Just a little further and she'd be able to throw him a custom-made-extra-strong-yet-accidental glare…
"Under no circumstances are you to give anyone, and I mean ANYONE, the death-glare."
She slapped herself mentally. HARD. What were you thinking Ise Nanao? I never go back on my word.
But it wasn't her fault, she reminded herself, for Nanao was nothing if not objective in her outlook. She was tired and achey and disappointed and she just wanted to go home and sleep it off but this stupid man wouldn't let her be done with her job. Luckily, however, Ahou-dono didn't seem to need her to respond and took bored indifference for absolute rapture.
Nanao decided. She would use this empty-headed-ness to her advantage.
Half and hour later Nanao was tearing away at the paperwork, heels toed off, hair pulled back as Ahou-dono continued creating white noise. Things were beginning to get quite pleasant. Too pleasant…
She should have known it wouldn't last…
There was a burst of reiatsu equal to the detonation of an atomic bomb. Nanao gasped as it crashed down on her like a wet lead blanket, oppressing but strangely familiar…
Ahou-dono seemed to have fainted. Good riddance, she thought. Through the haze of spirit power clouding her mind she sensed the reiatsu to have originated from the 13th division headquarters.
It seemed to be drawing nearer. No, it was coming closer to the 8th as an alarming speed. Warning bells went off in Nanao's head as she stumbled to the division entrance. Most of the members still in HQ were incapacitated, bent over themselves on the ground. She couldn't expect any backup…
Where was that useless Captain when you needed him?
The thought hadn't fully crossed her mind when it hit her. That was Shunsui's reiatsu! No wonder it felt familiar. Shunsui pelting out reiatsu while shunpo-ing from the 13th Division HQ, it didn't take a genius to put two and two together. Obviously Ukitake Taichou had said something to Shunsui that upset him, and now he was just that. Upset. Albeit a little more than all those other times…
Nanao calmed herself, strolled back into her office and slid her fan out of her sleeve. She tapped it on her wrist, once, twice before flinging out her arm and slamming the fan into Shunsui's face that had only just occupied the airspace.
The seething anger in the reiatsu faded gratifyingly fast as Shunsui tripped over his own feet, clutching his face. A weak 'Nanao chwa~an' escaped him as his back hit the wall.
"Taichou. Will you kindly explain to me what you think you are doing blasting spirit force and incapacitating my entire division?" the fan tapped a fearsome tattoo on her wrist. At least she had kept her promise and not glared him dead. The reiatsu ebbed away, as Shunsui reestablished control over himself.
Shunsui dragged his hand down his face, his eyes ominously serious. He was missing his hat. She suddenly felt a little bit alarmed, and a little bit frightened. She didn't want to take a few steps closer to him, but she did, reaching out.
"Taichou… are you alright? Is there some danger?"
She noticed how his eyes swept over the office, taking in the two cups of tea, the two cushions at her desk and of course Ahou-dono kissing the floor. Those serious eyes shot back to hers. The movement was instantaneous; his gaze didn't stop anywhere between Ahou-dono's upturned ass and her eyes. It weakened her knees.
This was just like that day… it wasn't fair. How could he be the stupid Captain she knew one moment and then throw it all away for this new façade?
He had pinned her with those intense eyes, staring at her, his expression livid as he opened his mouth to say
"Is he the one?"
Nanao couldn't hold back the stunned and very unseemly "Eh?" Her incredulity didn't faze her Captain at all.
"Is he the one? The one you're…" he swallowed thickly, "The one you're going out with?"
When the disbelief wore off Nanao raised her eyebrows delicately.
Well, that was easy…
Apparently Rangiku's plan seemed to have worked already and it hadn't even been 8 hours. Lovely. She made a mental note to refer to Matsumoto in all instances of man-trouble. Now all she had to do was give the final small push to help the plan reach completion.
"I don't know what you are referring to Captain. I'm not dating anyone at the moment." She calmly turned back to her desk while her heart hammered a military march in her ears and waited for the stammered acknowledgement and embarrassed laughs.
Instead she found herself pinned to the opposite wall facing a very pissed off Shunsui. the look didn't make her inside curl in on themselves. No sir. She was the one in control of this situation and she had contingency plans for this situation.
Now if only she's revised them beforehand… really her captain could be so inconsiderate…
His fingers tightened on her upper arms, warmth flowing promisingly beneath the almost uncomfortable pressure of them.
"Then why haven't you said one straight word to me since you came to me?"
Oh. This wasn't in the plans at all. He wasn't supposed to confront her. Rangiku had said men shy away from talking about the important things.
He shook her lightly. "Well?"
"We've been working together perfectly Captain, there have been no problems."
"I'm not talking about work. I'm talking about us. You won't talk to me straight but you'll flirt relentlessly with other men. Do you want to torture me?"
She was perilously close to word-vomit.
"You are embarrassed by that night, I understand, but there's nothing to be ashamed of Nanao-chan."
"I'm not ashamed! It was my choice and you know I don't go back on my decisions."
"Then what is this Nanao? You wanted pretenses and a one night stand?"
She's never seen him like this. Cold. Controlled. Impersonal. Without a shred of warmth. Anger rolling off him in tangible waves, the tide of it responding to her and reaching to her as though she was the moon.
This does it. This farce can't go on. What was I thinking trying to establish a relationship on games and lies?
"Please stop manhandling me, Shunsui. Now."
She shrugged off his hands, exasperated.
"You idiot. You were playing games with me too! You never once tried to talk it out, you pretended like it never happened!"
Shunsui opened his mouth, indignant, but she cut in. She had no intentions of listening to his psychobabble before she was done.
"What did you think I was doing here with the skirt and the heels and the flirting? I was trying to provoke you into saying something. I was trying to make you jealous. What makes you think I'm interested in Ahou-dono here?"
The man in question groggily shook himself awake to burble out a "I wasn't into you either, ba-ba."
"Anyway," she said, absently digging her heel into Ahou-dono's forehead, "You were being an asshole. And Rangiku said this might help…"
He was silent. It was making her uncomfortable. She wished he would yell, or rant or do something. Anything. She couldn't meet his eyes this way…
"I know tricking you was mean of me. I didn't mean to hurt you Cap-Shunsui… I just…"
The rest of her words were lost as her face dove into a sea of pink patterned silk that smelled of his warmth.
"You little idiot. No, I'm the idiot. You…"
The words wouldn't come so he just settled for fitting her against him and sighing into her hair.
"You witch! You played me like a game of shogi!"
"Are you displeased with the outcome?" her voice floated up to him muffled by fabric and his chest.
They would talk it out. Yes, and he'd make this work. But not now. Now he wanted to ingrain the feel of her into his mind.
"Uh hmmm. I wouldn't have it any other way."