Only One

Chapter 1

By Light of the Firefly

OOOOO

This is told from Nanao's POV. It will be short, just a few chapters. Tell me what you think, there aren't enough Nanao/Shunshui fics out there so I figured I'd add one ;)

OOOOO

Looking at him, how can I even describe it? It's as if his very presence pulls the focus from everything else around me. He holds my full attention in all things.

His eyes lift to mine from under his ridiculous straw hat, portraying his silent question to me.

I nod, of course I'm ready. I would follow him to the end of the planes, knowing he would never ask me to. It is part of the unspoken bond we tied into with each other. He knows there is no thing I will not back him on; I know there is no thing he would deny me.

We've worked together for many years now, a rare team of Captain and Vice who perfectly coordinate with each other. We can say a hundred things with little more than a glance or shift of posture. Bickering and avoiding come-ons aside, we are the perfect team. Snide comments are made frequently by other shigami. We have earned countless nicknames whispered in hushed voices, sometimes rudely. But not a soul would deny that we are a unit, one never far behind the other.

He removed his long stupidly pink over coat and hung it on the peg by the door, followed by his hat. It's strange sometimes to see him in only his white Captain's robes. It's so easy to forget that he's such high rank in the 13 squads.

We walked silently out the door, the chilly breeze greeting us outside. Turning on his heel, he moves swiftly and gracefully forward, leading me to the final battle.

It's all come down to this. The war has been brutal; the 13 squads stand at only a third of the man power we used to have. The rest having been destroyed. Traitorous ex-Captain Aizen's name will be forever remembered for the ruthless snake he is. His bloodlust has shown no bounds, taking lives by the hundreds. For what? More power? Twisted sense of glory? Who knows?

We will end this today. This is a victory that we can't afford to not have. The air is humming with the powerful retsiu of so many ahead of us.

The forces are gathered, the storm approaches…

OOOOO

I had just sunk my zanpakto deep into the hollow's mask I had been squared off with, it's shriek of demise so loud it made my ears ring as it's form dissolved.

Other shigami faced off all around me, the Captains having taken to the sky to dispatch the high level types. It was utter chaos; the ranks had fallen apart as some anxious fools panicked early into the battle. Our dead count was steadily climbing.

The clash of fighting was deafening.

I had only a split second of understanding before the earth trembled beneath my feet. There was a sudden blast of energy bright as the sun, heading straight at me.

Being one of the few vice Captains who hasn't mastered their zanpakto, I rely on my powerful kido spells. After the last several hours of dishing them out, however, I can't pull a strong enough one up in the blink of an eye. I knew instantly without a doubt I could not deflect this attack.

It could very well kill me.

Captain Kyouraku is in front of me before I can finish the thought. His beautiful zanpaktos held crossed over his chest, his form braces for impact as the attack hits him head on. His body is blown back into mine, absorbing the brunt of the energy.

We slam painfully into the hard concrete of the 5th division building. The heat of the attack searing all around us, slowly tapering off. His large form blocking the majority of it from me. I couldn't suppress the soft moan that escaped my lips, the ache of impact making its self known.

Captain steadies himself instantly, his body shielding mine, pressing my back into the crumbling structure behind us. Wasting no time, he instantly fires back an equally deadly attack, his own energy lighting up so brightly I had to shield my eyes as it released.

Whoever fired at me was certainly dead, I had no doubt.

"Are you alright?" His normally smooth voice strained, his hand reaches back grabbing my thigh firmly, as if to reassure himself. He can't afford to turn his back on the fight going on around us to look me over.

I noticed, stupidly, that this is the most intimate contact we've ever had. For all his flirtations, he's never crossed any lines. He most likely couldn't care less at the moment, but I couldn't help but notice the warm hand resting against my leg, the rest of his body still firmly pressing into mine. Like I said, the world looses it's focus when he's around…

"I'm fine." I managed, my own hand grabbing a fistful of his sleeve tightly. I couldn't seem to ground myself to what just happened. "Thank you. I wouln't be so careless next time."

I heard his annoying snort, the one that basically says 'Silly little Nanao-chan.'

If I could see his face I'd probably see the look of disapproval mixed with humor.

The booming shriek is heard overhead, jerking both their gazes back to the major fights going on in the sky above.

"Anything for my girl." He said, lightly. Squeezing my leg in reassurance, he leapt away to rejoin the battles.

I turned as well, charging at the next closest hallow.

OOOOO

Something was wrong. I could feel my body trying to respond to the firing of my nerves; however the process seemed to be sluggish. I wheezed in a deep breath, my mouth was so dry I nearly coughed. Turning my head, I focused on the task of getting my eyes opened and standing.

Forehead pressed into the ground beneath me, I dragged my heavy limbs to position, pushing up slightly. My whole body jerked with the force of the pain that laced through me from that simple movement, nearly knocking me down again.

"Captain…" I breathed, clearing my throat to rid it of the hoarse voice I didn't recognize as my own.

What had happened…?

Blinking several times, my eyes watered from all the smoke in the air. My sense of smell was assaulted with the dank smell of blood, sweat, and death.

Sitting now, I could see total destruction all around me. Bodies of friends and enemies alike littered the scene before me. Soft groans came from time to time, some movements caught my eyes as well, and however I couldn't force my legs to lift me to investigate. Shifting slightly, I yelped as a white hot pain twisted around my lower leg. I felt dizzy suddenly, falling back into the pile of rubble behind me. The hard edges stabbed at my bruised skin, but I couldn't find the energy to sit up on my own.

I'm so tired…my eyes drifting shut of their own accord.

If only I could rest….just a moment….

A flash of memory skirted across my mind. The last moments of the battle.

I sighed heavily…we won. A high price was paid, but Aizen and his forces were destroyed. There would be peace again, at long last.

We had won…

Things were fading back to the darkness.

Where was he…?

OOOOO

I woke again to the sounds of a busy 4th division hospital. Monitors and alarms sounding loudly from every direction, the sounds of the healers rushing quickly from one patient to the next, pain filled screams and grunts. The rush of the whole place tells me many, many were injured.

Myself included, apparently.

My eyes flutter open, focusing slowly on the mess all around me. I was a shock to see so much emotion written on the faces all around the large room. Fear, pain, worry. Typical crisis situation everywhere my vision settles.

So much blood…

I close my eyes, shifting through the mass of varying retsiu crowding my senses, searching for him…

My eyes snap open with a gasp; I jerked my head too quickly to the side. My Captain lay in the bed next to mine, still unconscious. His levels are weakened, but not dangerously. A healer is leaned over him, wrapping him in the strange kido that mends instead of destroys.

He is bruised, his long dark hair fanning out over the pillow. I can see various patches of blood that soaked into his clothes. But his chest rose and fell evenly, under the restful slumber of the healing energy working on him.

He was alright…

My eyelids drift shut again. My own body needing to rest, I started to descend back into sleep.

We had won. Many were dead, many more injured.

But he is alright….

OOOOO

"Nanao-chan…" That heavy strong voice was probably the only one that could convince my sleeping mind to rouse from such a deep state.

I opened my eyes, instantly meeting the intense dark gaze of my Captain, who hovered above me. His face had lost the bruises I saw on him last time; hair tied back once more into the customary low ponytail. He looked refreshed and clean, like he had never even been through the battle.

I glanced around, my surroundings were different. I was in my own room now, back at the 8th division barracks.

The quiet was unsettling after all the noise.

I swallowed, shifting my eyes back to his. "How long have I been out?"

"About a day and a half." He answered softly, brushing my bangs to the side of my face with his warm fingertips. He smiled gently at me. "You needed it. Had me a little worried, you know."

I felt my brows knit in confusion. A day and a half? That long?

"Your looking better." I remarked, remembering again how he looked on that hospital bed.

"I was wounded pretty good." He grinned. "So I got to cheat and heal the easy way."

"Hn." I tried to shift my legs, and noticed a heavy weight.

Noticing my face, he gave me a pitiful look. "Broken ankle. Cast for two weeks."

"Great." I sighed, "Ribs too?"

"Yep. Feel em, huh?" He teased, leaning back a bit. He seemed enormous sitting next to me on my little cot. Especially with me looking up at him from my laying down angle. "You know, I could carry you anywhere you need to go. I'd wrap you up in my arms and be at your disposal. No need to bother with those pesky crutches…"

"Nice try, I'd rather crawl." I mumbled, there was no venom in my voice. This banter had become like normal conversation between us over the years. Rarely did I have to hit him with anything anymore. It simply didn't get to me like it used to. I was insulted when I first took this job. I felt as vice Captain I was doubted in my abilities if he was constantly talking to me like this.

Until I got to know him better.

I can't explain the level of respect I have for this man. It goes beyond words of any sort. For all of his foolish, laid back persona, Captain Kyouraku Shunsui is so full of spirit it literally shines from within him. People are noticeably drawn to him, pulled in by this strange affect he possesses. You can feel the shift in the atmosphere when he enters a room. He has a real, genuine love of life.

"How's…" I wasn't sure what I wanted to know first. He seemed to sense this.

"Rest now, we'll talk of the particulars later. I called for your dinner, it'll be here shortly. Sake for your pain?" He asked, almost hopefully.

I only raised a sarcastic eyebrow at him, causing him to chuckle. "One day I'll find the perfect reason for you to finally have a drink with me."

"You drink enough for both of us." I stretched the best I could, my limbs feeling stiff from so much inactivity.

"Rangiku will be up after dinner to help you get bathed, too. Of course-"

"-You may as well stop where you're at." I chide, not needing to hear the rest of it.

He grinned broadly at me, seeming truly pleased that I was my usual self. His smile was just slightly off.

"What?" I asked self conscience at the strange look in his eye. Did I embarrass myself in my sleep somehow..? I didn't need to ask to know he has been by my side this whole time.

"I had been so sure you were dead. I couldn't get a grip on your retsiu, with so many shigami losing their control you couldn't pick one from another." He said, his eyes shifting to the small window. "I had kept close track of you throughout the fight, but the last attack made me lose sight of you. And then I couldn't pick you up again, when the fight was over. I was so sure…"

I wanted to reach out to him, but refrained. I could only watch his profile silently, waiting for him to continue.

"Anyhow," He said in his light dismissal, meeting my gaze again. His eyes shone with humor once again. "I found you. And you were unconsciounce but alright. So of course I promptly passed out from my own wounds. I'm told I was found half lying on top of you. Which could explain the broken ribs; I'm no small man you know."

I laughed, trying to picture the way we were found. Wincing at the pain caused from my actions, I couldn't help but to smile up at him.

"I'm glad you're okay." He said softly, seriously. I stared back into his eyes, trying to portray how much I feel the same for him.

The spell was broken when a soft knock was heard at the door, followed by a voice announcing that my supper had arrived.

"Eat up, kid. I'll come by later." Leaning over, his warm lips brushed over my forehead in a chaste kiss. Lingering just a few seconds longer than necessary, he leaned back and rested his forehead to mine for a moment.

With a soft sigh, he moved away from me and stood, I felt the loss immediately.

Without looking back, he walked to the door and slid it open to let the young man in with the food.

I watched him as he brushed out the door silently.