The Shinigami Women's Association holds a fundraiser. Nanao thinks she's getting the better of her captain. He's inclined to prove otherwise.
/Disclaimer: /Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite.
Notes: I blame the folks at Capslock Bleach on LJ for this idea, and La for telling me that yes, I should write it. About forty-five minutes of actual typing, on a keyboard that sticks horribly. I blame that for spelling errors. I'm not sure I got Yamamoto's title or Unohana's voice down properly, but I don't have access to anything I can check those against, being at school. Fwee?
Every decade or so, Yamamoto-sÃ´taichou will remember how long it's been since they last held a charity event for the Rukongai Orphans' Fund, and comment on how it's the duty of a shinigami to take care of the dead here as well as in the world of the living. At that point, someone - usually Unohana - quietly offers to organise something. No one argues: if Fourth Squad wants to handle it, then so much the better.
Unohana usually takes the matter to the Shinigami Women's Organisation in turn, at least long enough to get ideas. For a half-dozen times now, someone (usually Masumoto-fukutaichou) has suggested that they auction off the Gotei 13's most eligible bachelors - winner gets a date. For a half-dozen times now, someone (usually Ise-fukutaichou) has shot it down. That's why Unohana's a little surprised when, after Masumoto-fukutaichou makes the same suggestion, Ise-fukutaichou simply pushes her glasses up and nods. "I think it's a fine idea," she says, and the lenses glint eerily.
If she were Kyoraku-taichou, Unohana thinks, she might start running. On the other hand, she's not going to warn him. She's got a hunch that whatever happens will be good for him, and after all, Fourth is supposed to deal with things like that.
- x -
Ukitake's bedridden again, coughing discreetly into a handkerchief, but he agrees to see her anyway, and Nanao does him the courtesy of pretending nothing's wrong. He hears her out, and though he turns a little paler when she mentions the auction, he laughs so uproariously at her request that his subsequent coughing summons both of his third seats (shouting their concern and proffering fresh handkerchiefs, bowls, soup, medicine - everything their taichou could want, and probably a half-dozen things he wouldn't). Once he's managed to get rid of them again, he looks back at her, eyes bright with mirth.
"Certainly, Ise-san. It would hardly be proper for someone being bid on to bid in turn, after all, would it?"
She manages - almost - not to smile in return. "I'm glad we understand each other, Ukitake-taichou."
- x -
She doesn't bother telling anyone else. At least half of Seireitei has been taking bets on whether there's something between herself and her taichou, and at least three-quarters are betting on whether she's secretly interested in him despite her denials. She expects most of them will refrain from bidding against her, if only in anticipation of that winning those bets.
The day of the auction, Kyoraku-taichou makes eyes at her from the moment she turns up in the office, settling down to the pile of paperwork he's neglecting in favour of morning sake. She reacts as she always does, fending him off with book or fan when he gets too close. Anything out of the ordinary might rouse his suspicions. She does suggest that perhaps he ought to drink less - that it wouldn't behove him to go up there drunk, and Unohana-taichou would surely be upset if he ruined things - and he obliges, probably intending to make up for it later. Again, Nanao is forced to hide a smile.
She almost feels sorry for him, until it's time to go, and he once again turns those calf's-eyes on her. "Will my pretty Nanao-chan be bidding on me?"
"I'll consider it," she returns, a little shortly, and when he launches himself at her with a happy cry, any second thoughts vanish. Oh, he deserves this.
- x -
The bidding is interesting, to say the least. Nanao watches as they go up, enjoying the reactions of each of the men in response to the bidding. Aizen-taichou smiles benignly as little Hinamori wins bidding on him, though Hitsugaya-taichou scowls in his corner. Kurosaki-kun provides an amusing diversion (she wonders briefly how Unohana managed to get him here for this, but the thought doesn't linger; he's not the one she's concerned with).
She keeps a mental tally as the auction progresses, and realises this is already the most they've made, at least in her years in the Gotei 13. Ukitake winks at her from the front when it's his turn, and she almost spoils everything by failing to return it with a stern look. Her taichou's next, though, and that thought keeps her focussed.
Kyoraku-taichou is as flamboyant as ever when he takes his turn, flirting both with Masumoto (who volunteered to run the auction itself) and with the bidders. She's not surprised by how many there are at first - he's got no small number of admirers in the Gotei 13. When there's a lull in the midst of the bidding, he pushes that infernal hat back from where it's shadowing his eyes and looks at her across the room. That familiar mock-pout is beginning to show up.
"Nanao-cha~an! Aren't you going to -"
If she doesn't cut him off, she's going to not bid out of spite. And so she does, raising her voice to cut across his, naming a figure far higher than any that have been called out before. In the wake of it, the room's silent. Even Masumoto's looking at her, blinking in surprise.
"Masumoto-san," Nanao prompts.
"Ah, right -" Masumoto colours, calls for other bids. Once, twice, thrice - and as she expected, no one challenges the bid. Now, finally, Nanao permits herself a smile.
She's not sure if the bidding that follows is an anticlimax.
- x -
"Nanao-cha~an!" is the first thing Kyoraku-taichou calls out afterwards, when she comes forward to pay Masumoto and claim him. "Lovely, lovely Nanao-chan! Does this mean you're finally going to admit your true feelings for me?" She swears there are hearts swimming in his eyes.
She sees Ukitake-taichou out of the corner of her eye. That's good; after everything, he'd probably be upset if he missed this. Satisfied with that, she turns back to Kyoraku.
"Two things you should know, taichou."
"Firstly, there were never any stipulations as to what the date would entail. You can expect to be spending ours catching up on all those papers you've been avoiding for months now. I assure you that if you work at a reasonable pace - and you will - that you should be able to get through most of them before the night is out."
His expression is crestfallen now, like a hurt puppy. She'd feel guilty if he actually was a puppy. She doesn't hold with violence towards defenceless creatures.
"And second, that money came out of the division sake budget. You'll note that you signed that authorisation form a few days ago. Maybe now you'll learn to read things before you sign them."
Kyoraku-taichou clutches at his heart dramatically, but there's nothing feigned about the hurt in his eyes. Okay, she thinks, maybe she feels a little sorry for him, but not enough to change her mind. Ukitake's trying manfully not to laugh. Nanao shifts her book under her arm and fixes a gimlet gaze on her taichou. "The sooner we start," she points out, "the sooner we'll be done. Let's go."
- x -
It's a pity, she thinks much later, that she ever turned her back on him. If she hadn't, she might have noticed the look of mischief he directed Ukitake's way, and the white-haired captain's smile of encouragement.
- x -
Though, to be honest (and she tries to be, when she can, even if this bit of honesty will never find voice), she's far from displeased with how things turned out in the end.
- finis -