Disclaimer- I do not own Bleach. Never have and never will.
A/N- First of all, not my area of expertise. I wrote this fic because my best friend said that there weren't enough Nanao/Shunsui fics out there so I did this just for her. Ticia, this is dedicated to you from your bestest friend in the whole wide world. Hope everyone else enjoys, I apologize in advance if they're OCD. . . wait I mean OOC.
The battle had been fierce and had lasted many hours but now it was finally over. The goal that they had all been striving toward for the past year had been accomplished and the group of Shinigami, those still standing at any rate, all looked on as the traitor Sousuke Aizen fell to the blade of the Substitute Shinigami Ichigo Kurosaki. Then, once his battle was won and his friends were no longer in danger, Ichigo, wounded and exhausted, dropped to one knee. He knelt there, attempting to catch his breath after the fierce battle, and he was soon surrounded by his friends, those who had traveled from the world of the living to fight at his side.
"Over at last," Squad Eight Captain Shunsui Kyouraku said, turning to look for his loyal vice-captain Nanao Ise, who had been fighting at his side throughout the battle with the two other traitor captains and the Espada. His gaze soon found that which he sought however he gasped in horror at the sight that met his searching gaze. His Nanao-chan, his loyal and hardworking vice-captain lay on the ground surrounded by a pool of her own blood.
"Dammit!" Kyouraku growled as he quickly crossed the few feet that separated them and dropped to his knees at her side. He'd been too engrossed in his battle with the traitorous former captain of Squad Nine Kaname Tousen to keep a proper eye on Nanao and as a result she'd ended up wounded. "This is all my fault," Kyouraku thought as he gently pulled Nanao into his arms and examined her injuries. "I should never have allowed her to come."
Although his mind was clouded with grief over what had happened to Nanao, Kyouraku instinctively knew that he needed to locate someone from Squad Four. His vice-captain would require immediate treatment for her wounds if she were to be saved and as far as he was concerned losing her to the battle was not an option. As his gaze swept over the battlefield Kyouraku saw that members of Squad Four were hurrying about, treating the many casualties of the massive battle with Aizen, Ichimaru, Tousen and the Espada. One of them, a woman who's name he did not know, saw his frantic, searching gaze and rushed over.
Without a word to the captain, the Squad Four member reached over and attempted to ease Nanao from his arms. And although he knew that the woman was only trying to help Kyouraku found himself inexplicably reluctant to release his grip on her.
"It's alright Captain," the woman spoke in a calm, soothing voice. There was a reassuring look in her brown eyes as she once again attempted to pull Nanao from his arms. "I'm here to help but you have to let go of her."
Kyouraku slowly nodded and relinquished his hold on his vice-captain. The Squad Four member took her gently from his arms and layed her down on the ground. The Squad Eight Captain gazed on in wonder as the member of Squad Four held her hands over Nanao. A glowing aura of reiatsu surrounded her hands and her face held a look of extreme concentration.
The Squad Four member held this position for several long minutes before letting out a deep breath and relaxing. She quickly checked the Squad Eight vice-captains' wounds and then turned to face Kyouraku. "There sir. I've made her stable enough for transport. You should get her back to the Squad Four barracks where they're better equipped so that her treatment can be completed."
Kyouraku nodded and gently scooped Nanao up into his arms. Cradling her head gently in the crook of his arm he got carefully to his feet and, with a nod of thanks to the Squad Four member, used his flash-step to rush them both back to the Seireitei. The battle had been fought out in the Rukongai, which had been evacuated before Aizen's arrival with mere seconds to spare, but Kyouraku traveled the distance back to the Seireitei in mere seconds.
When he arrived at Squad Four Captain Kyouraku reluctantly turned over the care of Nanao to another member of Squad Four who's name he did not know. This man placed Nanao gently on a gurney and then rushed her toward a treatment room, calling out over his shoulder, "I promise we'll take good care of her Captain."
Kyouraku knew that the Squad Four members were all very capable and yet he still felt uneasy about leaving his Nanao-chan in their care. The two of them had been together for decades now and he was so used to her presense that he didn't know how to act without her at his side. As he sat down in the hallway to await news his mind conjured an image of his Nanao, whole and unharmed and glaring up at him with that stern look that she always wore.
"You have to get well soon my little Nanao-chan," he thought to himself. "Without you Squad Eight will fall apart."
Time passed slowly, unbearably so as far as the Squad Eight Captain was concerned, however Kyouraku was soon joined by his best friend and the Head Captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, Jyuushirou Ukitake. Ukitake made his way slowly down the hallway toward his friend and sat down in the floor beside him. "Is there any news Shunsui?"
Kyouraku shook his head, his gaze shifting to the face of his best friend.
"She'll be alright," Ukitake said in a reassuring voice, placing a comforting hand on his best friend's shoulder. He could see the tortured expression within his friend's eyes and wanted desperately to erase it. This was not the Shunsui Kyouraku that he knew, the carefree and fun loving Captain of Squad Eight. "Squad Four will have her as good as new in no time. Trust a frequent patient."
Kyouraku nodded, appreciating the gesture. Ukitake was one of the few people aware of his true feelings for his vice-captain. True, several people had guessed that there was more there than normal feelings for a subordinate, however the Head Captain was the only one that he had actually confided in.
"Don't you think you should get your wounds treated Shunsui?" Ukitake asked gently.
Kyouraku shook his head. His wounds were nothing, really, and he had already vowed not to leave this spot until someone came out to tell him how Nanao was doing. He would be here for her, for as long as was necessary. He owed her that much at least.
Ukitake nodded, understanding his friend's unspoken feelings.
"How are the others?" Kyouraku asked. Having left the battlefield immediately after Aizen's defeat he had no idea how many casualties there were.
Ukitake shook his head, a sad expression in his eyes. "Captain Komamura, Captain Ziraki and vice-captain Kusajishi all perished in the battle. Several others, including Nanao, are seriously injured and almost everyone has some minor injuries. This victory was hard won."
Kyouraku nodded, having known that there was absolutely no chance that they'd made it through the battle without any deaths. So much tragedy and heartache, all because of one man's quest for power. The Squad Eight Captain shook his head in disgust. He hated confrontation and would much rather have a friendly drink as opposed to engaging in battle. If only everyone had the same philosophy.
The two old friends remained together, seated on the floor in the hallway for several hours and during this time they watched Shinigami from different squads emerge from various treatment rooms and make their way toward the exit. The walking wounded all nodded respectfully at the two captains, who returned their nods, before making their way down the hallway.
"This is so hard Jyuu," Kyouraku mumbled, his concern for his vice-captain growing with each minute that passed. Someone should have brought word to them by now. Her wounds must be extremely serious if it was taking them this long to treat her.
"She'll be alright," Ukitake repeated.
"But. . . but what if she's not?" Kyouraku asked, voicing for the first time the concern that he'd had ever since he'd turned on the battlefield and found his Nanao in a pool of blood. "What if she. . . what if she dies without knowing?"
"She isn't going to die," Ukitake insisted. "For one thing your vice-captain's too stubborn to die like this. Before you know it she's going to be up on her feet and bossing you around like always."
Kyouraku smiled at the thought of his Nanao-chan, giving him that stern look and reminding him for the hundreth time that he had paperwork to finish and as the captain of Squad Eight it was his responsibility to see that it was completed on time.
"You know Shunsui," Ukitake said, breaking into his friend's thoughts. "Maybe when Nanao wakes up you should tell her how you feel."
"I. . ." Kyouraku stuttered. "I don't. . ."
"You can do it," Ukitake encouraged. "Just a few simple words and you'll feel much better."
"Perhaps," Kyouraku thought to himself as he turned his gaze away from his best friend and absently stared off into space. It's not like he hadn't tried, about a hundred times, to tell her how he felt. He'd wanted to speak the words for some time now and yet, every time he'd tried, the words had died in his throat. "Maybe this time I'll be able to."
"Captain Kyouraku," a voice spoke up.
"Yes?" Kyouraku lifted his gaze and focused on the vice-captain of Squad Four, Isane Kotetsu.
"Nanao is awake," Isane informed him. "And I thought that you might like to see her."
Ukitake offered his friend a smile as he watched the long awaited news sink in. Watched as the twinkling light returned to his best friend's eyes. Resisting the urge to say 'I told you so' the Head Captain said, "She's waiting for you Shunsui."
Without a word Kyouraku jumped to his feet and rushed back to the room where his vice-captain lay upon a bed. Nanao wore a white robe however Kyouraku could see the bandages that were peeking out of the neck of the garment and his heart ached at the sight. He quickly walked across the room and stood at her side, gazing down at her with an apologetic look on his face.
"Not. . . your. . . fault," Nanao said quietly, knowing why her captain wore a guilty expression.
Kyouraku chuckled softly to himself as Nanao gazed up at him with the stern expression that he knew so well. He didn't know why he was surprised that she'd been able to read him like an open book. After all, she'd been interpreting his looks for a long time and doing a fairly good job of it.
Heart pounding and desperately hoping that she wouldn't pull back or reject this gesture Kyouraku reached down and tentatively picked up his vice-captain's hand. Much to his delight she didn't pull her hand free but instead allowed him to hold it in his own. Gazing down into her eyes he opened his mouth. "There's something. . ."
"Captain there's something that. . ."
Both paused, having spoken almost the exact same words at the exact same time, and when their eyes met they each instinctively knew what the other wanted to say. Closing their mouths Kyouraku and Nanao nodded to one another. What existed between them was what it was and spoken words would not make it more real. The battle was over and both had escaped with their lives. For now they were content just to be together and share a companionable silence.
Just because the truth was unspoken didn't make it any less real, at least not to them.
A/N- and there it is, my contribution to the Nanao/Shunsui fandom. Hope you enjoyed and for anyone who wonders why Ukitake's the Head Captain I have four words for you. . . I HATE OLD DUDE! But if you want a better explanation then feel free to read Enemy in Soul Society.