Spring, the season where life begins anew. Most enjoy the season, as the atmosphere is calm and peaceful. Unfortunately for one individual her peace was about to be shattered.
"Nanao-chan! Where are you my little Nanao-chan?"
She could feel her eye twitch in annoyance. She just wanted to read her book and her taicho was now looking for her. Most likely for a stupid reason she thought. With a sigh, she bookmarked the page she was reading and stood up to go meet with her taicho. Might as well get this over with.
"Did you need something, Kyoraku-taicho?" she asked when she found him.
"There you are, my little Nanao-chan! I've been looking all over for you!"
"I really wish you'd stop calling me that, Taicho. It isn't very professional," said Nanao as she adjusted her glasses.
"Nonsense! Anyway, I have a question for you."
Nanao raised a dainty eyebrow at that. "What sort of question, Taicho?"
"What's your opinion on Byakuya Kuchiki?" asked Shunsui.
The young woman could only give her taicho a blank look. This is what he wanted to ask her? She knew it was going to be a waste of time.
"Taicho, why are you asking such a question when there are more important things to worry about?"
"I was just curious, Nanao-chan. Feel free to speak your mind on the matter too. I promise everything will stay between us," replied the pink-wearing man with a smile.
Nanao could only narrow her eyes in suspicion. What was her taicho planning now? She had a very good feeling what it was.
"Taicho, you better not be trying to set me up with Kuchiki-taicho! Remember what happened when you tried to set me up with Minato?"*
"Trust me, Nanao-chan, I am not trying to hook you up with Byakuya-kun. I'm just curious as to what your opinion of him is since most women your age seem to swoon over him, yet you don't."
"…If you must know, I find Kuchiki-taicho to be a pompous upstart who looks at others as if they are beneath him. Plus I don't like how he insults the classics!"
"Classics?" questioned Shunsui, tilting his head in confusion.
"Hai. He believes that since he has never heard of Shakespeare then that must mean Shakespeare is not a great author and playwright. He is foolish to think that. Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers of all time!"
Shunsui tipped his hat down to try and hide his smile, which was a mix of happiness and sadness. When it came to books, his little Nanao-chan was like a small child on Christmas morning. She also reminded him so much of his Lisa-chan with her love for books. Pushing the memory of his love to the back of his mind for now, he looked up to meet eyes with Nanao.
"I see. I guess you don't care for Byakuya-kun then."
"He's a stupid man who thinks the world revolves around him."
"Now, now, Nanao-chan. I'm sure Byakuya isn't that arrogant. Anyway, I need to go see Jushiro about something so can you hold down the fort while I'm gone? Arigatou, Nanao-chan!"
Without waiting for his fukutaicho to reply, Shunsui took off leaving behind a very confused woman.
Entering the Thirteenth Division, Shunsui headed straight for Jushiro's office. Luckily he didn't have to run into those third seats of Jushiro's. Opening the door to the office, he was greeted by Jushiro who was busy with paperwork.
"Ah, Shunsui! What brings you here at this time of day?" asked Soul Society's elder Shiro with a smile.
"I need help finding a boyfriend for Nanao-chan, Jushiro."
Jushiro sweatdropped though the smile was still on his face. "Are you still on that, Shunsui? Do remember last time you tried that?"
"Somewhat. I was drunk at the time, but this time I'm sober so my plan should work out perfectly."
Jushiro let out a sigh as Shunsui walked over and sat at his fukutaicho's desk, propping his feet up in the process.
"I guess I could help you. At least that way there is a chance it will work. Why are you doing this again?" asked the white-haired man, giving in.
"…I see Nanao-chan as a daughter, Jushiro, you know that. I'm unfortunately not going to be there forever to protect her so I want to make sure she's taken care of when I'm gone."
"You do know that won't happen for a very long time, right?"
"Still doesn't hurt to be prepared."
"Do you even have any ideas on who could be Nanao's potential boyfriend?"
"I do know for a fact that she hates Byakuya-kun."
Shunsui went on to tell Jushiro what Nanao said about Byakuya. Jushiro was very surprised that Nanao could actually say such things about someone.
"I know! I was surprised too. But it shows that she's not like those women who fawn over Byakuya-kun because of his looks and wealth. I'm so proud of her!" exclaimed Shunsui as he wiped away a pretend tear from his eye.
"What other candidates do you have in mind, Shunsui?"
"Hm…how about Izuru-kun? He seems trustworthy."
"He is, but according to Shiro-chan he's making progress on working up the nerve of asking Momo-chan out. You know how she needs someone in her life more than Nanao does, right?"
"Hai. Someone needs to help her get over Aizen and Izuru-kun might be the only one. How 'bout Renji then?"
"Last I heard was that Renji was dating a girl from the Land of the Living. I think she was one of those Fullbringers who were manipulated by Ginjo."
"Oh yeah, I think I heard about that. I believe Ikkaku mentioned last time we all went drinking that Renji was dating some dark-skinned girl. Jackie was her name if memory serves correctly."
"Okay then. Scratch Renji and Izuru-kun. Ooh! How about Ichigo? He and Nanao-chan have similar personalities and tastes and if they do get together, Isshin and I can be in-laws!"
"…I don't think everyone would share your enthusiasm on that last part, Shunsui. Besides, Ichigo is with Orihime, remember?"
The pink wearing man gave a pout. He really thought Ichigo would be best for his Nanao-chan. "Then how about that Quincy boy who always hangs around Ichigo and his friends?"
"No," came Jushiro's reply. According to Rukia, Uryu was apparently seeing Nemu from the Twelfth Division, but it was to be kept secret.
"Then who would be best for my little Nanao-chan?" questioned Shunsui. This was a lot of work, trying to find Nanao a significant other. He really needed a drink.
"Why not Hisagi?"
"Hisagi? I don't know. Do you think Nanao would go for a guy who looks like a punk?"
"You said it yourself, Shunsui. Nanao does not go for those on appearance alone," said Jushiro with a laugh.
Shunsui had to grin at that. His friend was right. Nanao wasn't superficial like most women. This could work, but there was one problem.
"Doesn't Shuhei have a crush on Rangiku though?"
"He does, but unlike Momo who indeed needs to get over Aizen, Rangiku truly loves Gin and I don't think anything will change that. Perhaps Nanao could help Shuhei get over his crush on Rangiku," suggested Jushiro.
"Hm, not a bad idea actually. They'd be helping each other in the long run. Now we just need to get them together and I know how to do that!"
'Why do I suddenly feel that this will not end well?' wondered Jushiro in his head.
"You want me to do what?" questioned Nanao as she looked at her taicho with wide eyes.
"You heard me, Nanao-chan. You are being temporarily reassigned to the Ninth Division to help Shuhei-kun. Apparently, Yama-jiji gave him more work than he can handle on his own, so I thought I'd be nice and send someone to help him until it's all done. Who better than my little Nanao-chan?" explained Shunsui.
The truth of the matter though was that Shunsui went to Yamamoto and let him in on the plan, hoping the old man would be willing to help. Shunsui was surprised that Yamamoto agreed to it and gave Shuhei the extra work. With that done, Shunsui waited a few hours before confronting Shuhei, who looked ready to pull his hair out. Offering to send someone from the Eighth Division to help, Shunsui held back a smile when Shuhei quickly accepted and thanked the older man.
"But Taicho! If I'm at the Ninth Division, how is any of the work here going to get done?"
"Don't worry, Nanao-chan. I'll have Tatsufusa handle things while you're gone."
"That's none too reassuring, Kyoraku-taicho."
"Nonsense! Now run along, Nanao-chan. Don't keep Shuhei-kun waiting," said Shunsui as he waved her off.
With a sigh of defeat, Nanao left and made her way to the Ninth Division.
Sounds of banging and crashing could be heard from the Ninth Division, as Nanao got closer. Picking up her pace, Nanao quickly arrived at the barracks and had one of the division members escort her to where Shuhei was. She became confused when they passed the division's main office and were heading out to the back. When they arrived, Nanao found Shuhei working on an object she had never seen before.
"Hisagi-fukutaicho! Ise-fukutaicho is here to see you!" stated the division member.
"Alright then. Dismissed!" said Shuhei, not looking up from his work.
The division member left and Nanao came closer to the punk-looking man.
"Shouldn't you be working on your paperwork?" questioned Nanao, crossing her arms over her chest and narrowing her eyes at Shuhei.
"Hai, but it was becoming overwhelming with how much of it there was. So I decided to come out here and work on my motorcycle."
"So this is that contraption I heard so much about. I thought you got in trouble with the Soutaicho for bringing it here to the Soul Society?"
"The only reason I got in trouble was because of that idiot of a red pineapple touched it when I told him not to. It's a good thing I learned from a friend of mine how to fix this thing or it'd still be a wreck,"* explained Shuhei.
"That's very nice, but I think you should go back to your paperwork. I'm apparently here to help you with it."
"Not that I don't appreciate it, Nanao, but aren't you more suited to keep the Eighth Division in line instead of helping me?"
"I am, but Kyoraku-taicho insisted that I be the one to help you. I would like to finish this as quickly as possible as Kyoraku-taicho put Tatsufusa in charge in my absence."
Shuhei laughed at that. "Then I guess my motorcycle will have to wait. Come on."
Wiping the grease off his hands, Shuhei then lead Nanao back to the office ready to tackle the paperwork inside.
What had thought to be a one maybe two day thing became much longer as Yamamoto kept sending more work for Shuhei to do, which meant more work for Nanao as well.
"I am very sorry about this, Nanao. If you want, you can head back to your division and I can just handle everything that's here," said Shuhei.
"That's okay, Shuhei. I don't mind helping. At least here, I'm not doing the paperwork all by myself," replied Nanao.
It has been a week since Nanao started to help Shuhei and while one would think she'd be annoyed with how much work had to be done, she actually didn't mind it and was enjoying being in Shuhei's company. In fact, she was surprised by how much she enjoyed it. She always figured that since he always hung around the likes of Renji, Ikkaku, and Yumichika, he would be just as barbaric as they were most of the time.
It was during this time that Nanao learned that he was completely different from some of the other men, as he would rather avoid fighting unless absolutely necessary and he was much more responsible than they were. She would also admit, though not out loud, that she found Shuhei to be very handsome.
"Looks like it's almost lunchtime. Want me to whip something up for lunch?" asked Shuhei, breaking Nanao out of her thoughts.
"I would like that, arigatou," replied Nanao with a smile, hoping to hide her blush. Another thing she learned that Shuhei was an excellent cook.
Returning the smile, Shuhei left the room and headed to the kitchen to make lunch, while Nanao tried to get more of the paperwork done for her host. While she was sorting through the stacks of paper she came across a book she didn't recognize. It was entitled Goodbye To Yesterday's Me. Curious, she cracked open the book and started reading it.
As she read she grew more interested in the main character's journey. The plot was that hero was saved from a grotesque monster as a child by a powerful warrior. From that moment forward the boy wanted to become as strong as the warrior, wanting to protect the innocent.
"I see you found one of my books," came Shuhei's voice, making Nanao jump in surprise.
"Gomen! I must have gotten sidetracked," said Nanao, a small blush on her face.
"Hehe, it's alright," said Shuhei with a smirk. He set down the tray that held their lunch. "I'm just surprised that someone like you would like one of my books."
Seeing the confused look she held, he then pointed at the book cover to where the author's name was. Her eyes widened in surprise when she noticed that it was Shuhei's name on the cover.
"You wrote this?! I didn't know you were so talented as a writer!" exclaimed Nanao, turning to the tattooed man.
"I'm not that talented," replied Shuhei with a shrug. "That particular story, believe it or not, is based on my own life."
"Your own life?"
"Yeah. When I was a kid a large Hollow attacked me. Just as the Hollow was about to kill me, I was saved by Kensei Muguruma, the former taicho of this division. I'd be dead right now if it wasn't for him and he's the reason I wanted to become a Soul Reaper and why I got this sixty-nine tattoo," explained Shuhei, pointing at his tattoo with his thumb towards the end.
"So you want to be like Muguruma-taicho?" asked Nanao. It reminded her of when she was younger and wanted to be like Lisa-sempai.
"In a way. I know I'll never be exactly like Kensei, but I want to become strong like him so I can protect others. Though sometimes I wonder if it's worth it."
"What do you mean by that? Of course it would be worth it! How could you say such a thing?" demanded Nanao, narrowing her eyes at her fellow fukutaicho.
Shuhei glanced at the woman and saw the fire in her eyes. "…How can I protect anyone with my zanpakuto?"
"You're not making any sense, Shuhei. How could your zanpakuto keep you from protecting someone?" She did not like how he was suddenly putting himself down.
"…Follow me and I'll show you."
Shuhei had led the young woman to the training field of the division. When he reached the middle he turned to Nanao.
"Now I'll show you why my zanpakuto won't help me protect others," said Shuhei as he drew his blade. "Reap. Kazeshini!"
In a flash of light, Shuhei's zanpakuto changed its shape. It went from looking like an ordinary katana to now taking the form of two Kusarigama-like weapons, each with two scythe blades, with one inverted, giving it the resemblance of a pinwheel. The blades were connected to spiked rods that were tethered together by a long chain.
"That's what your Shikai looks like?" questioned Nanao, amazed by what she was seeing.
"Hai," replied Shuhei with venom. "These blades cannot protect. Their only purpose is to kill and I hate it."
"Why don't you change that then, Shuhei? It is up to the wielder of the blade on whether or not it protects or kills."
"It's not that easy, Nanao. If you've met my zanpakuto's spirit, and I really hope you never do, you'd know why. He's a demon who likes nothing more than to kill," explained Shuhei as he reverted his blade back to its sealed form.
"Shuhei, out of all the fukutaicho, you are quite possibly the strongest. I know you will be able to beat this demon and be able to accomplish your dream," said Nanao.
She then surprised both Shuhei and herself when she walked up to Shuhei and wrapped her arms around his torso, bringing the shocked man into a hug.
"Don't let him beat you, Shuhei. I…I don't want to loose you," said the glasses wearing beauty, holding onto the tattooed man tighter as if she were to let him go he would vanish.
Those words of hers shocked Shuhei even further. He never would have guessed Nanao of all people would be worried about him. In the back of his mind, he would normally want Rangiku to be worried about him and hold him close. For some reason he couldn't explain though, this felt right. Almost as if Nanao was meant to be there for him and he was glad about that. Wrapping his arms around the woman, he held her close.
"Don't worry, Nanao. I'm not going anywhere and I won't let him win."
As the two young Soul Reapers stood in each other's arms, they didn't notice that they were being watched by two figures that were sitting on a rooftop a few meters away.
"See Jushiro. I told you my plan would work. Maybe Nanao-chan won't kill me when she finds out I set this whole thing up for her."
"Just to be on the safe side though, Shunsui, I think it would be best to keep your plan a secret. Even though it's obvious that Nanao is happy with Shuhei, she will be greatly upset if she finds out that you planned this."
"Yare, yare. I guess I can keep it a secret from my little Nanao-chan. I'd rather see her happy rather than angry anyway."
"Very good, Shunsui. Come on, I'll by you some saké as a way of saying congratulations for your plan succeeding."
"You're such a great friend, Jushiro. Maybe I should try finding you a girlfriend next."
"Stay out of my love life, Shunsui, or I tell Sensei who put starch in his beard shampoo all those centuries ago."
"Staying out and shutting up."