the passionate approach

It was three in the morning, and a lamp was still burning. Kyouraku-taichou was reading the newspaper. Ukitake-taichou was serving as a pillow for this difficult and dangerous pursuit while gazing dreamily at the lamp. Nanao was brushing out her hair. Admittedly this did not take up as much time as brushing Ukitake-taichou's hair, but it still required some attention.

Kyouraku-taichou snorted.

"What is it?" Ukitake-taichou asked.

"Someone's column," Kyouraku-taichou said. "This Please Be Moderate one."

Nanao put down her comb. "Oh?" She couldn't think of anything particularly drastic that she'd said in her last column. Then again, half the point of the column was that it wasn't drastic. It was amazing how many of the readers appreciated that.

Kyouraku-taichou coughed to clear his throat, then declaimed, "How many of us overstate the simple comfort of a friend's touch? There is no need to assume romance, or anything as complicated as a passionate approach, when the obvious gesture of a hand against hand, or the basic reaching out to each other, is all that is implied - and, indeed, all that is necessary."

Nanao sniffed. "I thought that was a perfectly good paragraph," she said. "And I didn't even go into the whole comfort-through-fighting aspect."

"My beloved Nanao-chan -"

Nanao sniffed again. She always knew he was about to try something when he started a sentence that way.

"- underrates the 'passionate approach'," Kyouraku-taichou finished, undaunted by her warning sniff. He leaned across and blew the lantern out.

Nanao desperately tried to remember where she'd put her comb. It would be a nuisance if she sat on it in the dark and broke it. Even if Kyouraku-taichou might have far too much fun extracting its teeth from her buttocks.

She was distracted by a familiar pair of hands descending on her shoulders. With a sigh, she let herself be tugged down to the bed and forced (yes, forced was definitely the word for it, because she certainly hadn't asked for it) into a pleasant backrub, modulating into a stroking down her arms.

"My Nanao-chan's been working out again," Kyouraku-taichou cooed in her ear. "Her upper arms are more muscular than before."

"Regular physical exercise," she mumbled into the pillow. "Some of us don't just spend all day sleeping."

"I am rebuked," Kyouraku-taichou said. He didn't sound particularly unhappy. "Am I not rebuked, Jyuushirou?"

"Justly rebuked," Ukitake-taichou agreed. His fingers wandered down Nanao's lower legs (how had he got to that end of the bed? Captains must be masters of strange arcane secrets of movement) and across the soles of her feet.

Nanao squeaked and kicked out before she could stop herself.

She felt the brush of hair as Ukitake-taichou drew back. "Not fond of foot massages, Ise-kun?" he asked in the darkness.

"Not there," she said in stifled tones.

"All right." His hands slid back up her legs again, stroking knots out of the muscles, firm and knowing against her skin, as Kyouraku-taichou's hands drifted back up her arms again and over her back, his calloused fingers possessive in the dark, and -

"I'll consider a retraction," Nanao gasped into the pillow.

"A retraction?" Kyouraku-taichou's hands slid round to the front of her body. "My sweet Nanao-chan, I'm hoping for an entire new column."