A one hour challenge, please see note at bottom for details.
"Hey, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!*"
Nanao sighed quietly at the shrill sound. She had left her windows open to let in the summer breeze but the sounds coming from the courtyard were nothing if not distracting. The group out back was divided into two groups and the ongoing competition, now cresting over an hour in length, was getting on her nerves. That Captain Kyouraku had shown up to watch hadn't made her day any rosier. He had ended up officiating.
"Now, now, let's keep going."
That was him there, the voice of moderation. He was seated, curled up in pink silk, with women on both sides of him being served liquor while he enjoyed the entertainment. The man had the best damn job in Soul Society; he did nothing but eat, drink, and sleep.
Nanao's mouth twisted into a scowl.
"I didn't say it was your fault. I'm just blaming you.*"
Her hands were fisted on the desk, her shoulders tense. Nanao's frame was one tight line of her voice was on edge.
"But Nanao-chan-" he started.
"Don't 'Nanao-chan' me! If you're not going to help, get out. I have had enough for one day!"
Papers fluttered off the top of a nearby bookshelf carried by the breeze from the open window, it was another good idea gone astray. Her teeth visibly clenched.
The crowd out back had dispersed, not because the event was over but because its escalation had ended with a hole being blown in her office wall. One look at the Vice-Captain's face had sent everyone scurrying in different directions.
"Get out, Captain, get out now."
A dose of her favorite blend of morning tea calmed her nerves as she came in the next day. She had, after nearly throttling her Captain, made emergency plans to have the building fixed. Of course, in her mood, she may have been a bit less than pleasant with the contractor. As it was, she didn't care what the man thought of her so long as he did his job in the specified timeframe.
Her office had been taped off the previous day and was officially deemed a construction zone. That being said, she intended to set herself up a temporary space in an unused room down the hall.
She intended to.
When she reached the hall she found a little sign waiting for her. "Vice-Captain Ise." There was a tiny pink arrow pointing the way. She rolled her eyes and followed it, her hands wrapped around her warm mug. The scent was calming.
It, and four other little arrow signs, led her to her Captain's door rather predictably. No doubt he'd stage some kind of absurd production in an attempt to cheer her up. It wasn't as though she didn't appreciate the effort on his part because he did legitimately try; he was just so much work some days. With a heavy sigh, she raised one hand and knocked.
"Come in, my lovely Nanao-chan."
His voice was muffled through the closed door. She reached and slid it open soundlessly, stepping inside. It didn't occur to her to close the door, not immediately; she saw no need until she saw.
Whipping around she slammed the door shut spilling hot tea over her hand in the process causing a small hiss of pain to escape her lips.
"CAPTAIN!" she exclaimed and then averted her gaze. "Where are your clothes?" she whispered hastily.
He stretched lazily under her gaze bearing naked bronzed skin, his essentials wrapped in a white fundoshi. "I wanted to cheer you up."
"By getting naked, Sir?" she questioned, holding her mug tighter.
"Do you want me naked, Nanao-chan?" he murmured thickly, raising an eyebrow.
The tone of voice made her look back at him and found those intense brown eyes centered right on her face.
"How exactly would this cheer me up and not stress me further?" she tried for composure and hoped she had it. Her voice sounded okay in her own ears.
"You should admire something beautiful first thing in the morning; it adds tranquility to your day."
Nanao told herself to take a deep breath.
"How did you want me, Nanao-chan? Like this?" he removed his hands from atop his head and sat forward spreading his knees and curling his legs in. Nanao forcefully averted her gaze, afraid she'd look down at something she ought not look at.
"Sir-"she started and stopped as she heard feet in the hall. "Get up! GET UP! Someone is coming! No, wait, stay down! Find your clothes!" she hissed.
Beside her, he yawned.
He hadn't had his afternoon nap; of this she was keenly aware. After her taxing morning with him she didn't care he hadn't had his afternoon nap. If he hadn't accosted her mostly-naked first thing in the morning she might've been more lenient with him. As it was, she'd been pure hell ever since and he deserved it and he knew it.
Of course, throwing her box of peanut cookies on him, where they, inevitably, fell down his open uniform may have been a bit much.
The general administrative meeting was held quarterly and typically lasted an hour or so. Mostly it was just an announcement of policy changes. Few people rarely paid attention; Nanao wasn't sure why the executive staff was required to attend at all.
The bench seat she was sharing with her Captain was infinitely too small, she thought, as he squirmed again, his thigh pressing into hers. If he kept it up she'd probably get elbowed in the head too.
"Could you stop that?" she murmured softly.
"It's all your fault, Nanao-chan," he leaned close, his breath against her hair. "I've got crumbs in uncomfortable places and it itches." She felt his bottom lip against the top lobe of her ear and didn't notice she avoided his tongue as he went to lick his lip and she ducked her head away from him.
"I don't care if it itches. Please stop scratching. You're embarrassing me!*"
His laughter was low and only made her flush harder. Her ears burned and she hated him for embarrassing her.
Hadn't she outgrown his with him yet?
The door to the Shinigami Women's Association, hosted by Division Eleven for the month, slammed open and then slammed shut. The women inside, the two of them, looked up briefly.
"Your ears are red," Rangiku pointed out as she continued to lean over her magazine. "Captain getting frisky again?"
"Again?" Nanao huffed. "When is he not? Did you see him today?"
The busty blonde made a noncommittal sound in her throat and Nanao came closer noting the woman was looking a magazine with bikini models in it.
"He was flirting a lot today." Rangiku looked up suddenly. "I pointed it out to my Captain and tried to rope him into betting whether or not he'd grope you but he just snapped at me to pay attention. Then I tried to get him to grope me but he told me to play my sex games with people my own age." She paused. "Is he saying I'm old?"
Nanao sighed and took her seat. There was nothing to do until Yachiru arrived anyway. The other woman in the room, Kotetsu Isane, was quietly reading a book and paying no mind at all.
Rangiku turned a page casually. "You're so lucky, Nanao, he's so attentive."
"I'm not lucky, I'm cursed. That man is a menace. I hate everything about him. I hate his stupid smirk. I hate his lousy attitude. I hate how he dresses. I even hate how he ties his sandals!*"
"You noticed how he ties his sandals? Girl, you have got it bad!*"
Nanao gave her a long, even look. "I will not justify that stupidity with an answer."
It was a private affair, but not private enough to exclude her. As Vice-Captain of Division Eight it would be poor form for her not to appear at a seminar that she had helped plan months ago. Division Thirteen was hosting the luncheon and members from Eight, Four, and Thirteen were in attendance. The seminar, on maintaining optimum health, had been a request from some of her younger recruits. She hadn't seen the harm in asking Division Four for their assistance at the time and it had just gotten larger and larger as the Fourth Division Officers delayed to add more material to their presentation and Captain Kyouraku told Captain Ukitake and it got even larger.
She didn't mind it being larger, except that her Captain was being annoying to an unmanageable degree. There was no attributing his demeanor to anything she had done. Perhaps one of his girls had left him, as she was aware he had many such admirers and certainly many such lovers to dote on him. Why was he suddenly so conscientious of her? More importantly, how could she get him to stop?
Usually being in public toned him down. Lately, though it hadn't been much of a deterrent and people were starting to talk. Well, they had probably always talked, so long as Captain Kyouraku and women were around there was talk but Nanao didn't want talk about her.
Seated beside him at one of the front tables she was glad the room was darkened and glad they were not seated hip to hip. It had been ongoing for only a half hour and in her anxiety over her Captain's state of mind she had been paying poor attention.
"Did you hear?"
He leaned, one palm flat on the floor behind her, his spine curved. A hot breath wafted against her ear.
"Excuse me?" She prayed for composure.
"Division Four advocates honesty and taking responsibility to lessen one's burden on the conscience."
How was this related to health exactly? She found it a tad off-topic and glanced up at the presenter to see the bold headline on the backlit screen, "Feelings & You." She repressed a groan and regretted the fact that she hadn't been given editorial control over the subject matter.
The Captain was still close, closer than he ought to have been because she could feel the heat of his arm up her back.
"If you need to admit anything, Nanao-chan, just let me know."
"What would I need to admit, Sir?" she asked with a calm, steady voice. Where was he going with this and did she want to know?
"You never did say, the other day, how you wanted me."
Slanting her gaze toward him she noted she could see his eyes and his skin had a blue tint from the front screen. Biting her lip, she thought a moment and then leaned toward him, startling him. "Captain, Sir, you're a sexmaniac!*" Her voice was a low timbre, barely high enough to reach his ears.
His grin was wide and pleased. "I know and I'm contagious.*"
"Not as much as you wish you were."
"Don't sound so revolted by the idea, when I know that you really want it.*"
The space between them was rapidly dwindling and she was all too aware of it. If they got any closer she'd be in his lap and not only was that not appropriate they were in a room full of their colleagues.
This was all getting out of hand and he shouldn't look so amused with it all because she was not amused.
Especially not happy.
The end of the section gave her a much needed break. When she returned from her foray to the restroom she took a seat further away.
Nanao wandered toward the tiny office kitchenette to wash her mug for the next morning. It was late. The sun had set and the office staff was gone. She was mostly alone except for the new graduates who would loiter around the main building until curfew. Her Captain, thank heaven for small miracles, was out for the night drinking. In blissful quiet, she washed her cup.
Tonight, she would be walking home in the dark. She hadn't done that in weeks and that in itself was a wonder. Stress had been eating away at her healthy sleeping patterns. She was going to bed later and getting up earlier and she thought she looked worse for wear even if no one had commented on it. In all honesty, she wasn't sure if anyone on the staff would dare.
Retrieving the book she'd brought to work with her that morning from her temporary desk, she headed to the front door. It would be locked behind her and it would be unlocked by her in the morning. Just another day at Division Eight, but by the end of the week her office wall would be fixed. And if it wasn't she'd raise hell until it was.
The front gates latched closed behind her pushing her out into high-walled streets that were cold and empty save for the night patrols. She could see them, a pair, much farther down and moving away from her, rapidly disappearing in the long space between the lamp lights. Quietly, she turned toward her home and started on her way. Even her text wasn't holding her attention tight enough these days and it had once been her favorite series.
"Nanao-chan's leaving late tonight."
It was the most unwelcome voice possible. She forced herself to stop and turn. "Captain Kyouraku," she acknowledged. "Is something the matter, Sir?"
For him not to be in a bar, drunk, was massively abnormal. He couldn't be ill, he was still upright. When Captain Kyouraku fell ill he laid flat on his back, usually in the office, and moaned and groaned for the girls to take care of him.
"I came to walk you home. It's dangerous at night for a woman."
Should she be touched by his concern or insulted that he thought she was incapable of defending herself? She was the Vice-Captain, not a new graduate.
"Thank you for the concern, Sir, but I think I will be just fine. You should enjoy your evening."
"Without my Nanao with me?" he quipped, pushing away from the wall and moving toward her.
Nanao ignored the instinct that told her to move back and away from the man in front of her. He reached her side in too few strides. Quickly thinking, she started to walk. Perhaps if she got home quicker he would leave her quicker. This uneasiness with him was new and bothersome and it complicated her life in ways she didn't want.
In silence, they walked until Nanao felt she could be silent on the subject no longer.
"Sir, I think we need to talk."
"Do we?" he asked.
He wasn't looking at her. In fact, he'd been quiet and gentlemanly. Strange, considering it was dark and they were alone when he'd been far more daring with others around.
"Sometime in the last couple of weeks you seem to have stopped thinking of me as your Vice-Captain and started thinking of me as your… floozy… and I would like this corrected."
"Have you submitted that in writing?" There was humor in his tone. No doubt he thought, like everyone else did, that she was over serious about her work. No one appreciated a good work ethic anymore she thought with a grumble.
"No, Sir, I have not," she answered. "You wouldn't have read it anyway."
He was definitely amused then, when he laughed, and it was that same disquieting laughter from before. The Captain laughed differently with her than he did with others and her noticing that made her even more uncomfortable. Why did she have to notice all these little things? Why couldn't she go on being studious and oblivious?
Sight of her front door wasn't nearly as reassuring as it ought to have been. The conversation hardly felt over. He was not going to take her seriously.
"What do you want from me?" she turned as she stepped up onto her front steps to face him.
"I want you to look at me."
Nanao frowned. "Sir, I look at you every day."
"You might look, but you try your hardest not to see."
There was just no way…"You can't possibly be upset because I won't pander to your absurd daydreams. Not every woman in the world-"
"I'm not upset, but you're lying."
The flat statement astonished her. "Lying?" she repeated, narrowing her eyes.
"A man can't confess his love to a woman who won't look at him."
Out of hand wasn't the expression for the insanity unfolding on her steps, she thought. "A man ought not confess his love to a woman he doesn't love in the first place. Who do think I am-"she started indignantly, suddenly angered with his backward logic.
A lunge, a virtual swoop, and Nanao found herself plastered against her front door, his arm and body caging her back against the wall and the railing on her step caging her on the other side. The move left her heart fluttering in her throat and no air in her lungs as he leaned over her, eyes glittering darkly in the night.
"I know exactly who my Nanao-chan is." It was lowly murmured and sounded distinctly like a threat. Nanao dry swallowed and glowered.
"You haven't even kissed me*," she mumbled.
"Did you want me to*?"
Lifting her chin defiantly, she remained pressed back against the wall. "No."
The hand not pressed against the wall came up to curve gently around her jaw. "Lying again, Nanao." He leaned close, his breath against her lips. "I really need to do something about that mouth of yours."
AN: *- Indicates a prompt used from Princess Destiny's one-hour challenge page. Written within the time limit of one hour. I'm proud of myself for writing something and actually finishing it.