Summary: The Shinigami Women's Association finds out Nemu has feelings for someone.
The last slide appeared on the screen. "And this concludes my presentation of the Substitute Shinigami Work Diary." Kuchiki Rukia said as she turned back to the audience of the packed auditorium where the Shinigami Women's Association held their mass briefings. She was pleased at the round of more than polite applause she received. "Does anyone have any questions?" A lot of hands went up. She pointed to an especially buxom woman in the front. "Yes you, Matsumoto-san?"
Matsumoto Rangiku pointed to the screen where two bunnies in shinigami robes were standing over the words 'The End'. "Tell us, Kuchiki-san," She asked. "Why are the boy bunny and girl bunny holding hands?"
Titters and giggling swept through the crowd. Rukia stammered, "It.. it..it's to convey the good working relationship between th..the substitute shinigami Kurosaki Ichigo, a... and Soul Society"
"Oh, oh, follow up question!" The busty lieutenant said bouncing on her toes.
"That's enough of that." A voice called out. Vice President Ise Nanao stood up from her seat on the stage, "On behalf of the Shinigami Women's Association we'd like to thank Kuchicki Rukia for her entertaining and enlightening briefing on the world of the living. Members can pick up one free copy of the accompanying book from the table in the rear by presenting their ticket stubs. Each additional book will be five kan and will contribute to future functions hosted by the Shinigami Women's Association. We will now adjourn for refreshments."
The President of the Shinigami Women Society lept up from her chair. "Yay, snacks!" Kusajishi Yachiru trilled. She took off in such haste, she left a smoke trail from her seat to the banquet hall.
Kurotsuchi Nemu held the door to the hall open. "Madame President, your usual table has been prepared." She gestured to a table loaded high with cake, ice cream and sweets.
"A good job as always, future vice president!" Yachiru said as she streaked past. She quickly took her seat and started shoveling down the food with both hands. The rest of the women filed in sedately taking plates and working their way down the buffet table while talking over the things they had learned from Rukia's uniquely illustrated slideshow. It had been very educational for shinigamis who hadn't received assignments in the real world yet. Some had already picked up their copy of the book and were going over the child-like illustrations with their friends.
Rukia walked into the hall accompanied by Nanao. "You must attend meetings more often Kuchiki-san."Nanao said. "Your experiences in the real world will provide us with many useful insights and ideas."
"I always mean to."Rukia replied, "but my duties in the real world keep me pretty busy."
Matsomoto sidled through the crowd up to the pair. "Speaking of real world duties, how's Kurasaki-san doing these days?" she asked in a slightly too innocent tone.
"He's improving every day Matsumoto-san." Rukia replied, "I still haven't managed to get him to learn even one good kidou spell yet, but I keep trying. He's so stubborn sometimes."
Matsumoto leaned in with a sly look on her face. "So tell me Kuchiki-san, in all that time staying in Kurosaki-san's closet, in his room, can you say you've never, oh, I don't know, opened the door a little too early? Or maybe forgot to close it all the way?"
"What?" Rukia yelped. "No, of course not! We are always careful."
"Oh, you two are careful, eh?"Matsumoto said with a leer. "I suppose you'd have to be, two young people in such a confined space. What does Bayakuya-sama have to say about your living arrangement?"
"What are you implying?"Rukia squeeked. "We're not like that! We... we…" looking around, Rukia saw she was quickly drawing a crowd. "Excuse me. I have to go...powder my nose."
"I'm not surprised," Matsumoto said, "it's redder than your cheeks."
The small crowd attracted to the conversation giggled behind their hands.
Rukia glared at them all. "Oh you people are terrible!"She said. "No wonder I never come to these meetings." Scowling, she stomped off to the powder room.
Nanao glared at her fellow lieutenant, "Really Matsumoto, you are incorrigible! I was going to ask her to do an autograph session later. I'm going to apologize!"
Nanao followed the diminutive shinigami out of the room.
Hinamori Momo approached Matsumoto. "Do you think her and Kurosaki-san are really, you know, doing something?" she asked.
"No," Matsumoto replied," if they were doing anything, she'd be a lot more relaxed. Hey, there's still spaces open for the betting pool if you want in. Only a buck a square!" She whipped out a paper titled "Ichigo-Rukia First Date! When Will They Give In?" It had squares with various dates filled in from next month to six months out.
"Oh, I don't know," Momo said, "she keep saying they're only friends."
Kotetsu Kiyone put down the ladyfinger she was nibbling. "I wish I had a 'friend' who'd fight the whole Gotei 13 for me."
"And defeat the strongest Captains just to restore my pride." another girl added.
Captain Soifon sniffed. "Men." She jeered. "I don't know why you go on about them. All they do is scratch and belch and fart and pick their noses. Disgusting!"
"They're not all like Lieutenant Omaeda Captain." Kotetsu Isane said.
A small brown haired girl chimed in. "Hey, once I helped Vice President Nanao move some items to storage and walked in on the Shimigami Men's Association meeting. Omaeda had his shirt off!"
A chorus of "Ewww"s went around the room. Yachiru waddled up, licking her lips, her small belly distended with all the sweets she had just consumed. "Say Nemu-chan," she said, "didn't you tell me there's a guy you like?"
The entire room froze. You could easily have heard a pin drop. Every eye in the room turned to the 12th division lieutenant.
"Madame President, I told you that in confidence." Nemu said quietly.
"Yeah, but I don't know what that means." Yachiru replied with a blank look on her face.
Nemu glanced around at all the faces staring at her. She leaned closer to the little girl. "That means it is a secret between us." She whispered.
"Oh." The little pink haired girl said. "Sorry. Do I hear Ken-chan calling me?" She flickered out of sight as she shunpo'ed from the room.
The other women quickly gained their senses and rushed over to Nemu. They fired questions at her in rapid succession
"You actually like somebody? That's great!"
"What's his division?"
"What's his seat?"
Nemu's calm features remained unruffled. "He is not a shinigami. Please do not trouble yourselves further with my affairs."
"Not a shinigami?"
"Is it a human?"
"Is it the big guy with the tattoo?"
"He's who I'd pick!"
"Who is it Nemu?"
"I would rather not say." she said. "It is not important. Please do not question me further."
Matsumoto snapped he fingers. "It's the Quincy, isn't it?"
Nemu did not reply. She cast her eyes down. She did not deny it though. The chattering grew even louder.
"The skinny guy?"
"I saw him when he was here. He didn't look like much to me."
"He sewed four sets of clothes in less than six hours by hand!"
"I'm not sure he's, you know, entirely masculine."
Nemu looked up in reaction to that. "No. You are wrong. He is strong and brave."
"So's Yumichika in the eleventh division. That's not proof."
Nemu actually began to look irritated. "You have not seen him as I have. You were not there in Hueco Mundo. You do not know what he is really like."
How could she convey what she felt about him? She herself didn't see him, really see him, until he used a technique her father had only heard about before to stand up and defend her. At that time, she no longer saw him as an enemy or a specimen. When even that was not enough, in a nova of released energy, he sacrificed everything for victory and became something magnificent. From that day forward, even as she came upon him in defeat at the hands of the arrancar and helped repair his broken body, she knew his spirit could never be defeated. She would always see him as the one winged avenger standing over her.
Her eyes again dropped to the floor. "It is irrelevant. He has no cause to come to Soul Society and I have no mission in the real world. We will not see each other again."
The other women looked at each other. Ever since Nemu had joined the Shinigami Women's Association, they'd done their best to make her feel like one of the group. It wasn't her fault she reacted to things strangely considering who created her. They were glad to see she was normal enough to have feelings for someone and wanted her to be happy. But she was right. There was really nothing they could do to help. The cluster around Nemu broke up and spread out around the room.
"Gee that sucks."
"I still don't know what she sees in him."
"It's Nemu, be happy it isn't something really weird."
"Have you seen the guys where she works?"
"Oh yeah. Brrrr."
"There's a skinny guy with glasses in Fourth division."
"I don't think that'll help."
Lieutenant Matsumoto didn't wander off like the rest of the women. She stood there with her brow furrowed while she considered the problem. Nemu didn't have a lot of joy in her life. Besides the Shinigami Women's Association, she didn't even seem to have a life outside of work. It would really be interesting to see what would happen if she could get to be together with the Quincy boy. Not to mention how fun it would be to irritate the insane clown captain. As she went over one possible solution after another, her eye fell on a copy of the Substitute Shinigami Work Diary one woman had tucked under her arm.
"Nemu-san," She said," I have an idea."