Sometimes, she suspected she was given the position simply because she was the only candidate capable of dealing with the horror that had become the Eight Division's paperwork. She'd certainly believed that the first time she'd seen the Captain's office - or to be specific, not-seen his desk, buried as it were under several feet of papers, books, and who-knew-what-else.
"It's a bit of a mess, isn't it?" Captain Kyouraku said, cheerful. "I'm sorry, haven't gotten round to tidying it up yet."
She was sure he hadn't. Stories about the Eight Division and its paperwork hadn't quite reached the legendary status that the Eleventh Division had long achieved, but they were getting there.
"But you don't have to worry about that right now, it's only your first day after all -"
She gave the office a look, lips thinning at the mess. But Captain Kyouraku was already turning to show her the rest of the Division headquarters, so she could only follow. It was only her first day, after all.
The next day, she started work, ignoring her superior's protestations that she should take her time settling in. She shovelled papers, stacked books, sorted letters. It took her a full week to clear the office, in the process uncovering miscellaneous lost inventories, what looked like a six-months-out-of-date account book, a suspicious quantity of unfinished love letters and bad poetry, and a couple of empty sake jars.
There was even what looked like a rouge stain on one of the jars, red against the rough clay. Nanao studied it for a moment but did not raise her eyebrows. It was not her place to criticise her superior's behaviour, only to carry out of her duties to the best of her abilities.
(In general, though, Nanao found very little to raise her eyebrows at. The Eight Division carried out its duties well enough, the men were disciplined, and if they were not as polished as one might desire, something in their manner said that what they lacked in reverence, they made up for in loyalty. Things were not as smoothly run as they should have been but they were by no means as dire as she might have expected either.)
By the end of the week, she'd restored a semblance of order to the room. Piles of papers circled the desk, but at least they were neat, organised piles, each held down with weights to stop them flying away.
The Captain seemed quite startled to actually see his desk again. He looked at the desk, then at her, half-shielded behind the piles of paper.
"I'm never going to be able to find anything now," he observed in almost mournful tones.
Nanao looked at him with narrowed eyes. "Considering that I've found seventeen overdue reports, one expired logbook and eighty three unanswered letters in here, I don't think you were finding anything," she informed him in reproving tones. "Captain," she remembered to add.
"Ah," he didn't seem abashed at all. He beamed at her, "I'm a lucky man! My vice captain is clearly as efficient as she is lovely!"
If it hadn't been for the wall of papers around her, Nanao suspected he might have tried to clasp her hand or do something equally silly. She found herself drawing back anyway, to say, stiff, "It's my duty, Sir."
"Nanao-chan, you don't have to be so cold," he said with an air of exaggerated hurt.
This was all very undignified, if not downright ridiculous behaviour for a Captain, but somehow, she couldn't bring herself to say so. Instead she tapped her brush on the papers at her desk and frowned. "I have a lot of reports to complete, Captain. Was there something you needed?"
"I just came to see that you were settling in. Everybody tells me you've been here all week. I can't have my new Vice Captain overworking herself so soon, you know," he said and gave her an almost serious look.
"Thank you, Captain, but I am fine," she said, and paused. "I appreciate your concern, nonetheless," she made herself add.
He smiled. "Well. If you're sure you're all right, then," he said.
He left her to her work. She worked in peace for the rest of the afternoon, until racuous singing under the window made her realise the day had given way to evening and she should leave. She stopped and looked at the pile of reports still waiting to be written.
She hesitated, then stood, went to the open window and had to stick her head out to give the shinigami below a sharp lecture on Noise, the making thereof, and where they should not be singing rude songs (namely, Nowhere Near Their Vice Captain). They'd broken her concentration, the sky was darkening, and she was, now she'd stopped to think, hungrier than she realised.
Giving the reports on the desk one last look, she left. They would be there tomorrow.
They were still waiting when she came in the next morning. So was an empty sake jar, a single gardenia standing tall and fresh in it, scarlet against the white of the papers and dark wood of the desk.
She blinked, surprised.
Looking out of the window, she saw her Captain wave from the hall opposite.
"Good morning! I hope you like your gift~!" he sang.
It was still early enough for the yard to be mostly empty but Nanao didn't doubt that he'd be drawing people out if he kept shouting. She considered slamming the window shut but for all she knew, he might well keep shouting if she did that.
"Good morning, Captain Kyouraku," she called out, just for something to say.
"You're so cold in the morning too~! Does Nanao-chan not like flowers? Or maybe I should have left more? Roses, next time!"
She wondered if one could reprimand their commanding officer for addressing them inappropriately. Probably not.
"You have duties to see to, Sir. You will be late for the morning assembly if you don't hurry. You're wasting time on trivialities," she finally settled on announcing, then shut the window before her Captain could think of anything more to add.
With a last 'Nanao-chaaaan', he went on his way.
She looked at the desk, the piles of paper surrounding it, and the small flower that had, so to speak, breached the defenses. It was unnecessary. This was no place for flowers, she thought.
But it would be a waste to just throw it away.
It was still there the next morning, and the morning after, and when it began to wilt, she found a new one waiting, a daisy this time.
She studied the flower, then took a breath, and let it out.
The rules and manuals had plenty to say on a Vice Captain's duties and responsibilities and conduct, on their dress and code and behaviour. They had, naturally, nothing to say on what to do with a Captain like Captain Kyouraku.
(Maybe her lips were a little less thin, her brow a little smoother. If there was any difference, it would have been hard to tell.)
Well. She supposed she might have to make it up as she went along, then.
Maybe it wouldn't even be as hard as it looked.
(It would all too likely be harder, she thought.)