Summary: Yachiru and Nemu seem to have a good friendship. How did it start?

Captain-Commander Yamamoto struck the floor with his walking stick.

"This concludes today's meeting. I would like to once again congratulate our newest Captain, Kurotsuchi Mayuri. I am sure we can expect great things from the twelfth division under his leadership."

He struck the floor again, two strong raps. "Meeting adjourned."

With that, he arose with the dignity afforded him by his years and slowly made his way to his private exit. The captains dispersed and headed to the main exit where their lieutenants waited for them in the courtyard. Captain Ukitake Jushiro came up behind the newest addition to the captain ranks and clapped him on the shoulder.

"Congratulations on your promotion!" He said. "Are you excited you made it?"

Mayuri turned to face him, looked at the hand on his shoulder in disgust and gingerly removed it.

"Hardly." He said. "This is all a farce as far as I'm concerned. If I didn't need support and funding for my research, I wouldn't have bothered to apply for the position."

Ukitake was taken aback. "You mean to say you didn't want to be a Captain?"

"I don't care about rank or position." Mayuri said. "I care about my work. If someone else is made captain, who knows what direction they'll take with our mission. I will not allow anything to interfere with my research. If that means sacrificing time for this political rigmarole, so be it."

Ukitake always tried to be positive about everything and see the good in everyone. He had a hard time understanding the captain's attitude. How could he not take pride in his achievement?

"Well, at least it must be satisfying to see all your hard work pay off." He said. "Achieving bankai is no small accomplishment."

Mayuri sniffed. "For others perhaps. Most people simply don't know how to concentrate. It was child's play after I took the time to study the matter. Now if you will excuse me."

Kyoraku Shunsui approached as Mayuri left. "Not exactly the humble sort is he?"

Ukitake turned to his friend. "I was just trying to make him feel welcome."

Shunsui tipped his hat back. "Nothing wrong in trying. Don't get too worked up over his attitude though. You can't make people stop being who they are. Say, I found a new restaurant that serves excellent sake. You want to go there for dinner?"

Ukitake was quick to cheer up. "Sounds good." He said with a quick smile.

Captain Zaraki Kenpachi's stalker spotted him as soon as he walked into the courtyard. He didn't notice the dark form behind him, slipping from pillar to pillar, taking advantage of every shadow and scrap of cover to get closer and closer undetected. At last, with Kenpachi only an arm's length away, his pursuer struck with a fearsome war cry!


Kenpachi stumbled a bit and had to adjust his stride to accommodate the 30 pounds or so of pink fluff that had attached itself to his right leg.

"Ha, ha, ha, ha! Did I get you Kenny?" Yachiru asked.

"Yeah, you got me pretty good." He replied. He leaned over to pick her up and put her at her usual spot on his shoulder.

"How did the meeting go?" She asked.

"Same boring crap as always." He said. "Hollow sightings. Duty rosters. Complaints about the guys starting fights."

Yachiru looked at the captains coming out the door.

"Did somebody have a birthday party?"

Kenpachi stopped walking and looked at her.

"Birthday party? What makes you ask that?"

She pointed behind her. "You had a clown in there."

He turned around.

"That's not a clown you weirdo, that's the new guy. Took over the twelfth."

While captains could modify their uniform if they chose, Yachiru had never seen one paint their face like that before.

"Why's he look all funny then?" she asked.

Kenpachi scratched his head.

"Beats me. I guess it has something to do with being the science guy."

Yachiru watched as a young woman approached the new captain to speak to him and hand him a clipboard. She had a long braid down her back and her uniform was different from the usual shinigami robes with a short skirt. She thought the woman looked sad.

"Is that his Lieutenant?" she asked. "She's pretty."

Kenpachi shrugged. "I guess so."

Yachiru stood up on his shoulder.

"I'm gonna go over and say hi."

With a forward flip, she jumped down to the ground. Kenpachi watched her as she walked across the yard.

She padded over to the woman and tugged on her skirt. Nemu felt the tugging and turned around to look into the beaming face of the smiling little girl.

"Hiya lady!" she said. "What's your name? Hey, we're having women's meeting later on this week. You wanna come? We're having lotsa snacks. I'm the president!"

Nemu looked at her blankly. Puzzled, she turned to look at her captain. Mayuri was irritated.

"Get back to the lab Nemu, we'll finish up later." He ordered.

Without saying a word, Nemu gave a polite bow and walked away. Yachiru put her hands on her hips.

"Hey, wait a minute!" She shouted at Nemu's retreating back. "Where you going? Ain't ya gonna come to the meeting?"

Mayuri stepped closer to Yachiru and leaned over to look her in the eye.

"Little girl, this is a place for grown-ups to work. Scamper on home. We don't have any time for your silly little tea parties."

Yachiru frowned and stamped her foot.

"It's not a tea party. It's a very important meeting. I'm the president. You can't talk to me that way clown-man!"

Mayuri stood up with his eyes wide.

"Clown-man? How dare you insult me you little brat!"

Suddenly, he felt the pressure of an enormous reiatsu pressing down on him.

"There a problem here?" Kenpachi said.

"Is this your child?" Mayuri asked. "Why are you allowing her to run around unsupervised? She's a nuisance!"

Kenpachi frowned. "Yachiru can go wherever she wants. She's my lieutenant and you will treat her with the respect she deserves."

Mayuri couldn't believe his ears.

"This little snot is YOUR LIEUTENANT? I didn't think you were smart, but I hardly thought you were crazy."

The air around Kenpachi began to shimmer.

"I don't like you little man." He put his hand on the hilt of his zampakuto. "Maybe you need to learn a little courtesy."

Mayuri's form also began to shine with released reiatsu as he drew himself to his full height.

"You think you can teach me? I can make you suffer in ways your tiny barbarian mind couldn't even comprehend."

The two antagonists stared at each other, slowly altering their stances. The very ground beneath their feet began to shake as they gathered their energies to strike. Yachiru sank into a crouch, ready to spring out of the way. Suddenly, both captains were struggling under the pressure from a still more powerful third party.

"My, my!" Captain Unohana said. "Everyone seems so tense today. Captain Kurotsuchi, are you feeling well? Your recent promotion must be stressful and I expect it put you in a bad mood."

Mayuri broke eye contact with Kenpachi. Glancing around he saw everyone in the courtyard was staring. He turned away.

"Humph. I don't have time for this. I have more important things to attend to back in the lab."

He stomped off towards his division compound.

Unohana turned to Kenpachi. "I'm sure our latest captain didn't mean to be so rude Captain Zaraki. Let's give him a chance to fit in. It took a while for you to get used to things here, remember?"

Kenpachi took his hand off his sword and allowed himself to relax. "I remember."

He remembered when he took over as captain of the eleventh division. How stiff and polite everyone had been. Letting him know they tolerated him only because they had to. Letting him know he didn't belong. Only Unohana had been genuinely nice to him.

"I still don't like that guy."

She put a comforting hand on his arm.

"I appreciate your patience. Perhaps in time your opinion will change."

With a soft smile on her face, she radiated peace and comfort. Not even Kenpachi could stay angry around her. She turned aside and bent her knees to be eye level with Yachiru.

"Now that the meeting is over, I'm going to be serving tea. Would you like to come along Yachiru?"

The little girl bounced "Will there be snacks?"

"Of course." Unohana said. "I made some cookies fresh this morning."

Yachiru took her hand "Sure thing braid-lady!"

Unohana looked up at Kenpachi. "Will you be joining us as well Captain Zaraki?"

He looked down and scratched his head. "Uh, no. That's OK."

"C'mon Kenny." Yachiru said. "It'll be fun."

Kenpachi hated to say no to her. He always liked to indulge Yachiru's whims. On the other hand, he'd be a bull in a china shop in Unohana's upscale division headquarters. He didn't want to embarrass her or himself with his uncouth manners.

"No. I, uh, got stuff to do. Back at the office."

Unohana smiled at him. "Well if you change your mind, feel free to stop by."

"Yeah," He said. "I'll do that."

Unohana started towards the fourth division compound leading Yachiru by the hand. As they walked off, Yachiru looked back towards the direction Mayuri had left.

"This is not over Mr. Clown."

Mayuri sat behind his desk and stared at Lieutenant Ise Nanao in disbelief.

"What do you mean you're cutting off my funding?"

The lieutenant adjusted her glasses and looked down at the papers in her hand.

"As you know, or should know, the Shinigami Women's Association controls and distributes all funding for the Gotei 13. We have decided to terminate all existing revenue streams for your division and will refuse any future requests."

Mayuri began to sputter.

"Wha.. why.. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! I submit all the required forms, followed the correct procedures for bids, meet all the regulations on tracking and account for every cent. By what right do you refuse me my operating expenses?"

If the captain's anger fazed the lieutenant in the slightest it wasn't evident.

"If you look at the sub-paragraph on the regulation regarding final disbursement, you will see the caveat that all funding is ultimately approved and distributed upon the authority of the president."

"That's me clown face!" said a voice from below.

Mayuri stood up to see where it came from. The front of his desk had concealed Yachiru who was standing besides Nanao with an evil grin.

"You!" He shouted in astonishment "What are you doing here? How did you get in here?"

Nanao answered for her. "President Kusajishi Yachiru is highly skilled at infiltration. She's been here for several minutes."

Mayuri looked at Nanao as if she were insane. "SHE'S the PRESIDENT? How did that happen?"

"That is a long story that is not relevant to this discussion." Nanao replied. "The important thing is she has ordered an audit of your organizations practices and we have found several discrepancies you must correct before we will approve of any more funding requests."

"Discrepancies!" He said. "What discrepancies?"

"That you're a big meanie who's a jerk!" Yachiru said.

Nanao coughed. "What the president is trying to say is the charter of the Gotei 13 explicitly states that all female shinigami will be allowed to join the Shinigami Women's Association. To date, no one in your division has joined."

Nanao handed him a copy of the charter with the relevant chapter highlighted and tabbed. Mayuri set it aside without a glance.

"Perhaps none of my female members are interested in joining your ridiculous club." He said.

"Lies!" Yachiru yelled.

Nanao covered Yachiru's mouth. "An informal survey indicated several interested parties. When asked why they did not join, they cited excessive workload and a climate of intimidation. The Shinigami Women's Association was set up to prevent exactly this kind of exploitation. As long as these conditions exist, we cannot allow your funding to be approved."

Mayuri ground his teeth. If looks could kill, Nanao and Yachiru would be smoldering piles of ash. He didn't need to check the paperwork they gave him to know they had him over a barrel.

"All right!" He exploded, "I'll let my females join your stupid organization."

"It's not stupid, you are!" Yachiru shot back.

Nanao quickly interrupted. "Ahem, allowing your people to join is not enough. You must also address the concerns over excessive overtime, unsafe working conditions, child careā€¦"

"Childcare!" Mayuri exclaimed.

Nanao did not appreciate being interrupted.

"Yes, childcare as well as maternity leave."

Mayuri sat down and put elbows on his desk followed by putting his head in his hands. "Fine, fine, leave me the details and get out."

"One last thing," Nanao said. "You must appoint a permanent council representative for your division. She must be third seat or higher."

Mayuri raised his head, angry at yet another imposition.

"I don't have any females third seat or higher!"

"Yeah you do." Yachiru said. "You can appoint her!"

She pointed to the corner behind his desk. Mayuri turned around to look at Nemu who had been quietly standing behind him, hands folded and eyes downcast the entire time.

"I will not appoint Nemu." He said.

"Why not?" Yachiru asked.

Nanao said "As a Lieutenant, she more than meets the qualifications. You either appoint her, or find a new source of revenue."

Mayuri was torn. On the one hand, he didn't want Nemu out of his sight more than was necessary. There were too many questions that could come up, too many random factors that would be entered into her development. But he needed funding and support to do his work. He felt like pulling his hair out by the roots. He had to make a decision!

"All right, she can go! Are we finished here?"

"Almost." Nanao said.

Yachiru stepped over to Nemu and handed her a piece of paper.

"Tomorrow's my day off, so I'm gonna do a lot of president stuff" She said. "I pick you to be my assistant for the day. Be at the eleventh division HQ at 0900. OK?"

Nemu took the slip with the appointed day and time on it. "Understood Madam President."