A/N: based on the latest chapter *497*

i do not own the characters of this story all mistakes are mine alone. i make no profit from the writing of this story.


Promise

Two things flitted across his mind as he lost consciousness. First: he was glad the fight was over and they had won (once again) and the second: Nanao-chan was going to kill him.

A very haggard looking Retsu Unohana smiled tiredly at him when he finally woke up. "How are you feeling Kyoraku-san?"

He sighed, "Like someone jabbed a hot poker in my head, but otherwise alive."

"That's to be expected." She patted his arm comfortingly "I'm afraid that your eye..."

He stopped her mid sentence. "I already know; it's an acceptable loss."

He wasn't expecting the smack that landed on the other side of his face. "How can you say that, Taicho?"

"Nanao-chan?" he turned to glance at her.

"How can you say that's an acceptable loss, Taicho?" her face was angry and tear-stained.

"Yare, yare Nanao-chan, we're still alive aren't we?" he reached out to brush away a lingering tear, "that's all that matters, one little eye is nothing in the grand scheme of life."

"You're an idiot..." she frowned then added, "Sir."

He chuckled quietly, "It'll be alright, I promise."

A small thunder cloud passed over her face. "You also promised you'd come back uninjured, yet just look at you," she huffed. "Just like you promised to come back with the fight against Aizen uninjured."

"You never keep your promises," she grumped; crossing her arms and glancing to the side.

"I'm alive aren't I?" He reached out for her hand. "Isn't that more important than one little eye?" he glanced over at Unohana and attempted to sit up. "Am I free to leave?"

Nanao gasped loudly, and Retsu let out a tired, frustrated sigh. "If you must, but you should rest more."

"Taicho...you're badly hurt, you should just stay here."

"I'm just taking up needed space," he looked at Unohana, "if I stay in my room will that be alright?"

She nodded and added, "As long as you have someone nearby in case you need anything, and someone from fourth will be dispatched right away." She let out a tired sigh, "truth is we do need the room, I have patients in the hallways and a free bed will be most welcome."

Although it was unnecessary he leaned on Nanao's shoulder as they made their way to his quarters. "How bad is it?"

"Sir?" she cast a sidelong glance his way. "You mean the eye?"

"No, soul society," his head began to ache just a little more, "how bad are the losses?"

She bit her lip tightly, "it's bad." Sliding the door open to his room she guided him to his futon and waited patiently for him to lie down. "We lost a lot of shinigami."

"Any captains?" she nodded and turned away. "Tell me."

"Sir..." she hesitated, not really wanting to say anything. "Hitsugaya-taicho, Kurotsuchi-taicho, and... oh gods," she covered her face, "also Yamamoto-soutaicho"

"So Yama-jii's gone...who's in charge now?" He rolled onto his left side.

"Right now Ukitake-taicho is taking care of things." she pulled the cover up over his shoulder. "But he's wearing himself out." she fussed with a crease in the cover. "And Unohana-taicho is exhausted too."

"There's other captains left."

"Yes sir, but most are injured, or..." she hesitated again. "Not interested in taking control." she sat beside his bed. "I hate to say it, but I think it's going to come down to you being in charge."

He let out a loud groan, "Somehow I knew it would come to that."

"Rest now sir, Ukitake-taicho said he can hold on for at least another day baring any further problems."

Shunsui Kyoraku patted the knee of his lieutenant and closed his remaining eye, "To a better tomorrow, eh Nanao-chan?"

"I swear I'm gonna smack you around more when you wake up, just for making me worry like this." she grumbled at him, "Sir."

He smiled softly as he drifted off to sleep. Nanao wandered over to the large overstuffed chair in the corner of his room and curled up in its cushiony softness. She reached out and lit the small table lamp, then picked up one of the many books piled on the table. Somewhere, somehow she fell sound asleep, and failed to hear the footsteps as they entered the room.