unconventionality

"I'm not complaining," Shunsui said to the surface of the water. It was deliciously hot and he was mostly submerged in it, trying to find that ideal position which allows the bather to recline with his arms draped to either side while simultaneously getting as much of his chest as possible below the surface. "I'm just a little tiny bit surprised by how fast my Nanao-chan has taken to the current situation. I expected a much longer period of coaxing before she even started getting comfortable with things."

"The thing you have to understand," Jyuushirou said lazily, "is that –"

"Excuse me," Shunsui said. "She's my vice-captain. I should be the one explaining her to you, surely."

"Ah, but you're unconventional," Jyuushirou said.

Shunsui thought about that. He couldn't see any immediate insult in the concept. "Possibly," he admitted. "But it's not something I've ever really had to work at."

"What you don't understand is that conventional people are quite comfortable with unconventionality once they've worked out how to fit it into their understanding of the world they live in," Jyuushirou said. He paused to remove a tendril of hair that had floated in front of his face. He was in the practically-nothing-except-the-face-above-the-surface position, and Shunsui could hear it in the comfortable sluggishness of his voice. "And similarly, unconventional people are profoundly conventional when it comes to things that they have never bothered to think about."

"An example?" Shunsui asked. It was too much trouble to argue without actually having an example to argue against.

"Take Kaien," Jyuushirou said. For a moment an old grief shadowed his face. "Was he unconventional? Yes indeed. Did he treat Kuchiki-kun with an outright and inappropriate lack of respect for rank and house, and by doing so made her a great deal happier? Absolutely. Did he, in fact, constantly treat everyone as his equal in a very unconventional way?"

"Except when they were Captains or elderly aunts," Shunsui agreed. Kaien had had the sense to treat Captains as his superiors, since indeed they were his superiors, and nobody with any sense would try showing disrespect to elderly aunts.

Jyuushirou nodded. His hair rippled in the water. "And yet he made an utterly conventional marriage. Kuchiki Byakuya was far more unconventional there."

The two of them shared a thoughtful silence for a moment. One way or another, they'd met most of the aristocracy of Seireitei at some point, and the only thing that they knew for certain was that Kuchiki Hisana had never been part of it. Kuchiki Byakuya had brought her out of nowhere to marry her, and all the best efforts of snobs, rumour-mongers and desperate elder relations hadn't been able to find a single trace of her family line or heritage.

"Well, but Kaien-kun loved his wife," Shunsui pointed out.

"Mm hm," Jyuushirou agreed. "But between the two of us, if he'd met some pretty girl from nowhere in particular and they'd fallen desperately in love, tell me, do you think he'd have married her? Or would he have set her up somewhere as his cherished mistress, with all due affection and propriety, and then married properly to satisfy his House?"

"I don't know," Shunsui said slowly. "After all, a man marries for -" He realised what he was about to say.

"Quite," Jyuushirou agreed dryly. "A man, or a woman, marries for family, children, alliance, or heritage. You and I had that thoroughly drummed into us as boys, didn't we?"

Shunsui lay there, turning the thought over in his mind. "Of course I haven't suggested anything of the sort to Nanao-chan," he said.

"Well, of course not," Jyuushirou agreed. "It's not that sort of relationship. And she's not at all unconventional in that sort of way. She's a very conventional woman."

"And yet she's . . ." Shunsui made a gesture which not only conveyed sharing a bed with us tonight, but also positively thriving on it, without quite managing to be obscene or even mildly lewd. He had centuries of experience, after all.

"She has managed to assimilate us into her conventional viewpoint," Jyuushirou said comfortably. "Everything now becomes straightforward and obvious to her charming eyes. She no longer asks, is what I am doing upright and moral and proper, but instead she just puts her mind to doing it."

"Indeed she does," Shunsui said, a little peeved at being lectured on his very own pretty Nanao-chan. He reached out to push Jyuushirou under the water.

Jyuushirou came to the surface pushing his hair out of his face. He spat out water. His eyes flashed. "I take it there was a reason for that?"

"I'm just an unconventional man," Shunsui said cheerily. "And my Nanao-chan has fantasies about drying your hair. She's such a conventional woman, after all."

"When I imagined sharing a bed with your vice-captain," Jyuushirou said, "it didn't involve her towelling my hair dry."

"You must just be too conventional," Shunsui said, and reached for the wine.