"Haha! I win again, Nanao-chan!"

Glowing with his little victory, Shunsui faced his petite lieutenant who was breathing hard after having flash-stepped so far so fast.

"That wasn't fair!" She protested. "I wish you weren't so fast." She snatched the wad of paper he had stolen from her desk out of his hand, it was the only reason she had chased him in the first place. Those forms had to be filled in and sent off to first division by the next day and she was sure that that would never happen if her captain took custody of them.

"Nonsense, my little Nanao-chan. You're getting faster – you were only half a step behind most of the way here." He was purring at her, trying to massage her ego after bruising it slightly with his little game. "Besides, if I wasn't so fast, how could I open the doors for you?" He flashed her a grin, hoping that she wouldn't be annoyed for long. After all, he had plans. "So," he went on, "Since I won, I say we should leave the office this afternoon."

"But, sir!" Nanao whined, thinking back to the stack of paperwork she had to complete, in addition to the urgent forms in her hand. The work had been piling up for weeks and she couldn't get it out of her head.

"It's such a lovely day to be outside, Nanao-chan!" His voice drowning out her own. "Can't you feel the sun shine on your skin, or hear the birds singing their lovely songs?" He lightly touched her arm, silently asking her to play along.

As seemingly carefree as he was, Nanao knew that once he had set his mind to something, Shunsui was unlikely to ever be dissuaded from it.

"Fine." She finally conceded, after pretending to think about it for longer than necessary. His face broke out into a smile. "But I'm bringing these." She waved the pages in his face as he rushed off, leaving her shaking them at nothing but air. She followed him, half a step behind once again.

Shunsui took Nanao's foot in his hand as he sat in one of his favourite spots by the river. The cherry trees' light fragrance that danced in the breeze was enough to soothe any soul.

Well, almost any soul.

Narrowed eyes peered over the top of the papers she was finally reading. Nanao cocked an eyebrow and cleared her throat to draw Shunsui's attention.

"Are you alright, my darling Nanao-chan? Would you like something to drink perhaps?"

Nanao refused to reply.

He was half way through untying her sandal when he finally rolled his gaze toward her lovely face.

"What are you doing?"

Shunsui's eyes creased in the smile that radiated warmth enough to melt the chill in her tone.

"Just making you more comfortable, my love."

She heaved a sigh, but couldn't quite muster enough irritation for it to do anything but relieve a hidden tension from somewhere inside her, so she clicked her tongue in a semi-translucent attempt at annoyance instead.

Being divested of her sandals and socks, he began delicately tracing patterns across her feet, occasionally pressing his fingertips to her arched instep with a little more pressure. When she thought she felt the slight, warm feather of his breath skimming her skin (or was it just the breeze?) she glared at him. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy his attentions, in fact quite the contrary was true. It was that since he had started moving his hands across her she hadn't been able to comprehend a single word written infront of her. Either oblivious to her stare, or purposely ignoring it, the patterns moved up to cover her inside ankle. Invisible flowers started appearing on her calf.

He had decided that she wasn't going to be working that afternoon and was gently but firmly coaxing her round to accept his decision. He had left orders for the rest of the squad to start doing what was left of the paperwork while he whisked his lieutenant away for a bit of relaxation. He knew she deserved it so was willing to accept the telling off he would no doubt get for allowing the squad to mess up the forms, but at least the majority of the work would be done for her.

His hands were around the back of her knee by the time Nanao finally surrendered and dropped the paper beside her.

"Fine. I've stopped."

Shunsui looked up at her again, his grey eyes widened in a badly engineered expression of surprise, as if he had no idea what she might mean. It earned him a playful kick to the chest. Feigning injury, he doubled over revealing a book which had been hidden behind him.

"What's that?" Nanao asked, her curiosity piqued. The only books she ever saw her captain with were of questionable content and she doubted he would have brought another after the last one he tried to make her read was promptly incinerated by an impeccably executed kidou spell.

"Ah," he began, propping himself up on an elbow, thumbing through the mysterious article. "This is a book. It's a very good one at that, in fact it's my favourite book. I had thought that we might read it together." He chuckled softly to himself. "If you can keep up, that is."

A genuine smile graced her features. If anyone had asked, he would have sworn it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

"But if you weren't faster, who would turn the pages for me?" she giggled.

She wriggled about, making herself comfortable. Listening to his baritone whisper, the passages began to unfurl in front of her. Nanao had to admit that sometimes half a step behind was exactly where she wanted to be.