Categories > Anime/Manga > Bleach > Twice1 Reviews
"He has seen her with her zanpakuto unsheathed only twice the second time is by accident." Shunsui watches his fukutaichou train.
/Disclaimer: /Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite.
Notes: I suck at titles. I'm also still not happy with the first paragraph of this (it feels clunky), but since I've been gnawing at it for several weeks now to no avail, I give. Written in great part because of the zanpakuto discussion on the Shunsui / Nanao community on LJ a while ago. Nanao's zanpakuto and the traditions mentioned here are purely speculation.
He has seen her with her zanpakuto unsheathed only twice. His Nanao-chan is a kidou adept, one of the best in Seireitei, and it is that she favours in battle. She wore the blade when she was accepted into Eighth, some years after her graduation - he presumes she wore it when she was assigned to her first squad as well, as it is part of the ceremony that accepts new recruits into a squad. She bared it when she was made his fukutaichou, proving by shikai (as tradition demanded) that she knew its name.
That was once; these days, she no longer wears the blade openly, though he knows it's tucked in the folds of her kosode. Eighth - indeed, all of the Gotei Thirteen - are more used to seeing her with a heavy tome at hand. He's even heard rumours that the book is her zanpakuto. Nanao neither confirms nor denies it; Shunsui keeps his own counsel.
The second time he sees her zanpakuto bared is by accident. She never drills with the rest of Eighth, nor does she give in to his exhortations to join him; he's wondered a few times what she does for practise, if maybe she never joins because her zanpakuto's sealed form is unlikely to hold up against longer blades, or if it is simply that she is intensely private. The swords are the echoes of their souls, after all, and his Nanao is not the kind to bare hers freely.
He wakes early once, though; she's slipping out of the office almost noiselessly and he, curious about every little thing his Nanao-chan does, cloaks his reiatsu and follows. The sky is still dark when she stops out past Rukongai; when she assumes a 'guard' position in the middle of the clearing, the tanto that is her zanpakuto's sealed form in hand, he finds a hiding place in a nearby tree and waits.
He does not hear the release command. All he knows is that a moment after she speaks it, the air becomes charged, heavy. Reishi seems to pool about her, limning her slender form, haloing the blade. He realises that either the shikai she showed him years ago had been tightly contained, or her power has grown dramatically - wonders, suddenly, if she's achieved bankai, and feels his heart clench at the thought. He's not sure what he'd do without her.
She's moving, though; her eyes are closed, perhaps as if to better imagine her opponents, her face a mask. He's not sure what he expected, but it wasn't this - not a surprising fluidity, an unexpected grace. He had not thought to find her beautiful with a blade in her hands. He should have known better.
Mesmerised, he doesn't notice at first that she's stopped - not until she seals her zanpakuto and tucks it away once more. Her gaze finds him unerringly; the twist of her mouth might be amusement or disapproval. "You might as well come out, taichou."
He obliges her, dropping from the tree to join her in the clearing. Her hair is a little mussed from the exertion, her cheeks a little flushed. A number of flippant remarks spring to mind, but instead he only says, "How long did you know?"
"Since we left Eighth," she answers. He's more than a little surprised; he thought he hid himself well. Maybe he's just out of practise - or maybe she's just too used to looking for him. "Don't do it again."
He contrives to look wide-eyed, guilelessly hurt. "But if my Nanao-chan was injured on the way, I would never forgive myself!"
It's silly; she can take care of herself, and she knows he's aware of that. It's an excuse he's hidden behind for years now, and they're both aware of /that/. She doesn't answer him, though, turning to look at the city spread below them, the sprawl of Rukongai and, further still, the pale walls of Seireitei, gleaming even in the wan grey light of predawn. "Shut up, taichou," she says, but it's fond.
He stands beside her in silence, watching with arms folded as she looses her hair. It falls about her shoulders unbound, a richer darkness than the black of her kosode, but too quickly she gathers it, twists it neatly, pins it back up, smooth once more. Her hands are small, quick, white against the dark.
"I don't know how much longer we'll have," she says quietly, unexpected candour, "with this war coming. This reminds me of what's important."
He opens his mouth to ask a flippant question, shuts it when his gaze follows hers, to see the sun rising rich and gold over Soul Society. A glance back finds her painted in the same hues, pale skin and white kosode luminous, face solemn and proud and unexpectedly vulnerable in this light. He doesn't think she notices.
He won't tell her she's right. That, she probably already knows.
- finis -