Title: Birthday Celebrations

Rating: G

Contains: Fluff. A little birthday fic for Shunsui. Prompt: family.

Note: This was originally posted for the Week of Love challenge on the shunsui_nanao community on LiveJournal. I don't own Bleach, in case there was any doubt.

Ukitake blinked, taken aback for several beats as he regarded the blushing girl in front of him. He could feel a smile rising unbidden to his lips, but muted the urge quickly into a gentle upturn of his mouth. She was already embarrassed enough and calling attention to her cuteness could only exacerbate that problem. "I think that is a wonderful idea, Lieutenant Ise. I'm sure Kyouraku will appreciate it."

Some of the tension eased out of Nanao's back for which Ukitake was grateful. She had been standing so stiffly a moment before, he had wondered if her vertebrae might snap. "Thank you, Captain Ukitake." She bowed stiffly, but hesitated to take her leave.

"How about some tea, Nanao-san? We can sit out on the engawa and we can talk about it." He moved to ask for the tea before waiting for an answer, ignoring the tinge of pink settling on Nanao's cheeks as she followed him obediently to the porch. She eyed the cushion he set out for her warily, before arranging herself on it in perfect seiza.

"Now." Ukitake poured tea. "You asked about Kyouraku's previous birthdays. Yadomaru-san did arrange them in recent years, it's true. Typically she arranged for some sort of entertainment during the afternoon, and then met with a group for dinner in the evening. But really, Nanao-san, he will enjoy anything you arrange." Truth be told, Ukitake doubted very much if Kyouraku would even remember his birthday, much less expect anything special. They would go out for drinks in the evening, but that was hardly remarkable, aside from the amount of alcohol that Kyouraku would likely consume.

Nanao's brows knit as she listened, more than once her hands twitching for the pen and paper she hadn't brought with her. "I see. The recent events might make it hard to do anything in the living world. But I was thinking…"

"Captain." Shunsui raised his hat a few inches to see Nanao standing beside him.

"Nanao-chan?" His eyes flickered curiously to the basket Nanao had clutched in both hands, noting with amusement that it was big enough for her to fit inside. "Let me help you with that." He reached for the oversized burden, but Nanao stepped back, staggering a little under the weight.

"Sir, with your permission, I've brought lunch."

Shunsui's eyes widened, staring at her until he realized she really was waiting for his nod of approval. He did so, pulling himself into a sitting position and setting his hat on the grass. Sitting primly beside him, Nanao and began unpacking the basket with military-like precision while Shunsui watched her with avid interest. She spread out a blanket and began laying out the lunch things, blushing in a way Shunsui found adorable. Slowly, he pushed himself off the ground to sit near her, careful not to upset any of the items.

"While I'm delighted to be brought lunch by my adorable Vice Captain, didn't Nanao-chan have plans today?"

Nanao's flush deepened, pausing with a bowl of fruit she had been setting out. "You ready my note." She fidgeted, despite her best efforts.

Someday, Shunsui reflected, she would be stunning. Already in the short time as of her tenure as Vice Captain, she had matured. Her natural elegance, still largely hidden by a child's body, was beginning to change. Movements, once fraught with a child's clumsiness, sharpened. Kido incantations, once spoken low lest someone over hear a mistake, now held the sure ring of command. He was immensely proud of her. Unfortunately for her, she still lacked the bearing that demanded respect.

"My birthday is hardly a reason for Nanao-chan to inconvenience herself." His eyes and voice softened, touched by her actions.

"You inconvenience me every day," she muttered and then flushed scarlet as she realized she had spoken aloud. "It is my duty as Vice Captain to support you in any way I can. Vice Captain - that is, previous Vice Captains have always seen to your birthday in the past."

Shunsui allowed himself a small grin. Nanao took pride in her work, and that was important in any position but particularly for an officer, and she defended her position fiercely. That she would be possessive of this too was really no surprise.

They chatted throughout the meal, Nanao relaxing by degrees until Shunsui was able to coax a few laughs from her, much to his enjoyment. Their position necessitated a close working relationship, one that extended beyond the office.

"Nanao-chan, what made you decide on a picnic?"

Nanao blushed, ducking her head quickly and retreating back into her shell. "You spend a lot of time outside anyway. I thought maybe…"

A terrifying thought occurred to her. What if he didn't like being outside? What if the only reason he spent so much of his time outdoors was to get away from the office? What if he was just trying to get away from her and her childishness? The thoughts bombarded her in rapid succession, and she felt herself shrinking into a ball.

"It's a lovely picnic, Nanao-chan." A large warm hand on Nanao's arm and she raised her eyes to meet his. His eyes were warm and sincere, not chiding or condescending like she expected.

"I just thought it might be nice," she whispered. "I know you miss… you miss her too. And we miss her too. We all do. But…" Her hands twisted in the folds of her uniform.

"You miss me too?"

She nodded. Ever since Lisa's disappearance, Shunsui had often been absent from the 8th Division. When it came to the day to day running of the 8th, Shunsui never worried too much over the details. He had a reason though, and Nanao, like the rest of the members of the 8th, knew this. Unlike other divisions that required a great deal of supervision, Shunsui never worried about the the 8th because he knew that he didn't need to. He had worked hard to foster a sense of ownership and pride in his division, and was secure enough in himself and his abilities that he had long since lost the need to be the centre of the division like so many of the younger captains. But his division, he realized, still needed him.

"It was a lovely picnic, Nanao-chan."

Cautiously, she peeked up at him. "Vice Captain Yadomaru said that it is the Vice Captain's job to know things," she said, answering his unspoken question.

Shunsui looked surprised for a moment before grinning. "Did she?"


"What else did she say?"

"That you are lazy and a pain to keep track of," she said bluntly, then blushed.

Shunsui roared with laughter. "She said that? I'll let you in on a little secret, Nanao-chan," his voice lowered and she instinctively leaned closer, eyes wide. "She's right."

Her eyes popped wider, and Shunsui was amused to see her scandalized expression.

"But, you're a Captain," She whispered, still leaning in close.

"That hasn't bothered me for quite a long time," he winked conspiratorially. Someday she would understand, when she was older and had a division of her own. The thought caught him by surprise and he realized that, unlike other gifted people who had passed through his division over the years, he accepted her eventual promotion as an almost foregone conclusion. It disturbed him more than he would like to admit, the idea that she would one day leave the 8th Division family.

"I can hardly remember the last time I had a picnic like this. We should do it more often. And besides," he grinned down at her. "I got to spend the afternoon with my cutest division member."

"Well, truthfully it wasn't my idea, sir." She fiddled with one of her chopsticks. "Well not all of it."

"Guess what, Nanao-chan. I'll tell you another secret." He leaned in again. "I know."

She was a lot of fun to tease, unfortunately for her.

"Captain Ukitake helped you didn't he?"

Her mouth popped open. "How did you-"

"The picnic blanket, Nanao-chan. It's always the one I take for Captain Ukitake when we go out and he isn't feeling well."

"You are amazing, sir."

"No sweetheart. Just observant."

"Oh. … Then I guess you already know the surprise."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "You mean my birthday dinner tonight?" He stifled a laugh at her face. "At my age it's difficult to surprise me, Nanao-chan. Keep trying. You might manage it someday."

Her eyes glinted with determination as she rose to his challenge.

"You are ridiculous, Captain." But her smile stayed.

A/N: Happy Birthday, Shunsui! Thanks for reading! I'm having a bit of trouble with the document editor. Hopefully this turns out alright :)