A/N: A particular picture on tumblr my muses decided to kick few dust bunnies into action and came up with this.
bleach and all it's characters belong to Tite Kubo. Completely unbeta'd since mine's gone MIA
It wasn't long after Lisa's disappearance that Shunsui really started to keep a close eye on the tiny child that was a member of his squad.
The girl had admired and practically worshiped the lost lieutenant.
As a squad they all mourned the loss of the vivacious, raven haired woman. Poor little Nanao Ise seemed completely and utterly destroyed.
Shunsui recalled having to deliver the devastating news to the child, and how she cried for hours as he held her in a comforting hug. When she had finally exhausted her self, and ran out of tears he hoped that she would be able to move on and begin healing.
This was not the case.
Nanao somehow got it into her head that Lisa was simply missing and she simply had to go look for her: as if it was a game of hide and seek that the two of them use to play.
At first Shunsui didn't think much of it; only keeping track of when she'd leave and return...until the one time she returned covered in scratches and tears in her uniform.
He knew she was strong and brave. He knew that she was equally stubborn and sometimes reckless. She was a master of kido already at such a tender age. Yet something had happened and she was hurt, he worried that she might be getting into things that were way over her head.
As her captain it was up to him to keep her safe. He'd do the same for anyone in the squad, but Nanao was special. She was like Lisa's little sister and he was NOT going to lose another person under mysterious circumstances.
And that's how he started following her. He stuck to the shadows; thanks to his sword's abilities he could manipulate the shadows, he wove an elaborate and impressive trail trying to keep up with those quick, clever little feet. He chuckled to himself about how sneaky she had gotten. Lisa had always left trails in their games of hide and seek, little clues as to her whereabouts, Nanao was looking for those clues; leaving no stones unturned. That's how she was getting into trouble, she was concentrating so hard on what she was doing that she failed to notice her surroundings.
He smiled as she leveled some thugs with a powerful kido blast, she really could take care of herself he thought.
This little game of stalking the wandering child lasted roughly a week before the big trouble started.
Her wanderings were taking her further and further into the rougher sections of the rukongai. Some of those areas were hardly safe or fit for adults, let alone a tiny girl-child like Nanao. Shunsui began to worry for her safety.
Occasionally he'd step out of the shadows and scare away anyone who appeared ready to threaten the child, then slip back into hiding to avoid being noticed by her. He couldn't help but feel this was the worst game of hide and seek in history, but he'd continue so he could ensure the child's safety.
At first she didn't seem to notice the gang that was following her. They were mostly human but Shunsui felt some twisted reiatsu at the edges of the area and that could only mean hollows. They were attracted to her pure, sweet spiritual pressure.
This was trouble, big time. He moved closer; ready to intervene at a moments notice. Several of the thugs moved in, trying to corner the girl against a stone wall. She shot out an impressive volley of spells to drive them off. It worked for a bit, until they really got organized and began to move as one terrifying wave. That's when one of the hovering hollows figured out that everything moving was potential dinner and also moved in, attacking the human souls with an ear splitting screech. The humans ran.
Nanao was trapped against that wall, turning in circles looking for any means of escape.
Shunsui ducked into the closest shadow. Using the shadow the terrified girl was casting on the wall, he extended his hands and pulled her in. He stayed in the shadows, traveling all the way back to the squad headquarters; Nanao tucked safely at his side.
She was terrified and crying when he slipped out of the shadow and into the courtyard in front of his office.
He gave her a stern look. "Nanao we need to have a little talk."
"But how'd we get here, clearly I was just..."
Cutting her off he continued. "You were about to be in a whole lot of trouble if I hadn't been there, you do realize that, don't you?"
She hung her head, "Yes sir."
"Nanao..." he sighed deeply "I know you think you're going to find Lisa-chan, but she's gone, child... Lisa will never return to us."
Her gem like eyes began to fill and her bottom lip trembled. It broke his heart.
"Nanao, you are the bravest, smartest young woman around, but you can not go wandering off like that."
He shook his head. "No, no buts about it." He sat down heavily on the open porch that ran around the outside of his office. "It's dangerous out there m'dear and you'd make a lovely snack for both hollow and some of the less scrupulous humans." Shunsui really hated having to say harsh things to her, especially when her eyes were threatening to spill hot tears down those round cheeks. "Nanao believe me, I'd love for Lisa-chan to just pop out of a hiding spot and claim it was all a huge joke but it's not going to happen, she's gone, she's left us, never to return." Now the tears were threatening to run down his own face.
She began to cry in earnest and flung herself into his arms.
Tears finally dry, they sat together and they began to read from the book that she loved. Shunsui vowed to keep this one close and never let any thing harm her. She'd never have to fight if he had anything to say about it. Even if he had to rescue her using the shadows again, and again.
She kicked his shin as if she had read his mind.