Author's note: I do not own Bleach or its characters. This is inspired by Celulind's artwork "It's Hers" on deviantart.
His Nanao-chan was the stubbornest woman he knew. Shunsui sighed as he looked at his desk. Nanao's lieutenant badge was sitting in the middle of the desk, its tie neatly folded. Why wouldn't she listen to him? This was not the first time that Nanao had tried to turn in her badge of office since Lisa had returned to the Seireitei. Shunsui had been very clear about his opinion on the subject. He closed his eyes, remembering the scene.
She had stood there in front of him holding out her badge of office. "Take it."
He'd held his hands up, unwilling to even think about it. "Nanao-chan."
"She'll be wanting it back," Nanao had insisted.
Shunsui winced at her flat voice.
"Take it!" She insisted.
"I gave it to you for a reason, Nanao, and it wasn't because you'd give it back freely."
Shunsui had refused to accept the badge back then, and he wasn't about to accept it now. But it looked like he needed to make some things very clear to his lovely Nanao-chan. But first he would have to find her. Apparently, since she knew he wouldn't accept her resignation in person, she had left the badge for him and disappeared.
It took him the better part of an hour to find her. For all that he knew Nanao quite well, she was surprisingly hard to find today. When he did finally find her, she was perched on a rock in the Sixth Division's formal gardens. Shunsui frowned slightly, trying to figure out how best to approach this. He needed Nanao to really listen to him this time. Deciding on a course of action, Shunsui flash stepped forward, scooped Nanao up in his arms, and flash off again.
He finally settled on the roof of his private quarters, Nanao in his lap, trapped where he could make sure she looked him in the eye.
"Have I ever lied to you, Nanao?"
Eyes wide, she shook her head.
"Remember that. I need you to listen to me." He freed one hand to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. Looking directly into her indigo eyes, he tried to find the right words. "You are not a replacement. You never were. Yes, you did take over the same job that Lisa had. That is because you were the best qualified for the position and the best fit to work with me. I had two lieutenants in between you and Lisa. Neither lasted long if you remember. You earned you position, and I will not replace you. I can't replace you. Lisa is my friend, and I have blamed myself for years for her death. I'm glad she is alive. But she cannot replace you either in the Eighth Division or in my life. You are my Nanao-chan. Nothing will ever change that."
He held her gaze, willing her to believe him. Shunsui understood her vulnerability. The Eighth had been Nanao's only real home for years, and now her place there felt threatened. But it was being threatened by someone she loved and respected. And he knew that Nanao had always harbored the suspicion that she was simply Lisa's replacement and nothing more. Of course she wasn't. Nanao and Lisa were different people, and while Shunsui loved both of them, it was in rather different ways. The thing was Nanao couldn't be replaced in his eyes, no matter what she thought, and she was the best choice for the Lieutenant of the Eighth Division at the moment. And he wouldn't let her suffer or lose her because of her misconceptions of her own importance.
Nanao stared back, unblinking. But whatever she was looking for, she seemed to find it.
"Are you absolutely sure?"
Shunsui nodded. "Yes, Nanao."
With a smile, Shunsui pulled the badge from his pocket and tied it back around her arm. He kissed Nanao's forehead. She was his Nanao-chan, and he didn't know what he would do without her.