Renji sneezed, making everyone around him stop breathing. A few monitors flickered, but nothing quit working.
The research and development division members all sighed in relief. Seems the nanotechnology that their temporary lieutenant had been inoculated with was now wearing off.
Renji frowned. "Damn." He breathed under his breath. As long as his sneezing had made electronic equipment stop working, then his captain had been leaving him alone.
Now that the effects were wearing off, the red-head wondered just when Captain Kurotsuchi would be showing his ugly mug around him again.
Nanao Ise straightened the final document on the desk when the door flew open. She stepped back silently, having learned that Captain Zaraki didn't want to hear from her. At all.
The large warrior stalked inside, scowling. But at least it was his usual scowl and not something shiver inducing. She stood back away from him and his desk as she put her hands behind her.
The captain grabbed a pair of spare sandals and turned to leave.
Nanao breathed out a sigh of relief.
Then the captain stopped in the doorway. The lieutenant stiffened, unsure.
Captain Zaraki turned and stared at his desk, frowning. He blinked slowly, twice. Then looked up at Nanao. She felt her face flush as she stared at a spot somewhere over his left shoulder.
The larger male coughed, drawing her gaze to his face. "You afraid of me, lieutenant?"
Nanao shook her head negatively, before even thinking about it.
The captain's mouth twitched. "You should be."
"That's an old line. Very trite." She said coolly, then regretted it. Her acerbic tongue was going to get her in trouble with this captain far quicker than it would have with Captain Kyoraku.
Captain Zaraki stared at her for a long moment. "You don't say a word, do what I tell you, clean my damned desk and do every bit of paperwork. You call that not being afraid?"
She shouldn't rise to the verbal bait, and she knew it. Her mouth opened anyway. "You don't want to hear from me. I'm supposed to do what you tell me. Your desk was atrocious at best. And I only did the paperwork that I'm supposed to handle. The rest is waiting for you to read and sign." Nanao pointed at a neat stack on his desk.
He stepped forward menacingly. She flinched. The captain grinned. "The hell you're not afraid."
"Cautious does not equal actual fear." The lieutenant said, hoping she even believed it herself.
"Yumichika thinks you poisoned his food to get back at him for calling you names during yesterday's training." The captain asked without asking.
Nanao gave a swift nod to indicate her culpability.
Captain Zaraki's face split into a wide grin. "Think you could challenge my real lieutenant to a fight?"
Nanao shook her head. "I am not a good fit for the Eleventh Division."
"Damned straight." He crooned.
"But given proper leadership and stronger organizational infrastructure, I could improve your division." The young woman watched the captain carefully, not sure how he was going to react.
The Kenpachi straightened up, staring hard at her. "You find us lacking?"
"I find your division undisciplined. Candy is not a proper reward for good behavior. You're strong. You're all strong. But you all fight individually and not as a team effort."
She didn't even get a warning growl as the world exploded around her. In fact, the next thing she knew she was lying in the division's main courtyard.
Nanao blinked up, her vision furry for a moment. Ikkaku leaned over her, looking far too amused. The bald man held up one hand to his groaning squad mates. "She lasted longer before he put her through a wall than you thought. Pay up. Bet's a bet."
Dizzy, Nanao managed to sit up. First thing she spotted was a big hole in the side of Captain Zaraki's office.
The captain stared at her with a complacent grin. "Lieutenant? Contact the maintenance people and request they fix my wall. And you're paying for it."
Nanao groaned as the tall man turned away without a backward glance.
Ikkaku looked down at her. "Are you hurt?"
Nanao shook her head, climbing quickly to her feet. Ikkaku frowned at her.
"Damn." The bald man muttered and held up a few bills.
Another squad member snatched at them, but Ikkaku didn't let go of the money. The 3rd seated warrior sighed. "Sure you don't need medical attention?"
Nanao made a face at him, but didn't dignify him with an answer.
"You could at least be a little hurt." Ikkaku sighed and let go of the money to the delight of the other squad member.
Rangiku yawned and padded quietly into the main division office. She smiled as she spied both Kiyone Kotetsu and Sentaro Kotsubaki working steadily on the ever-present paperwork.
She yawned, stretching out her arms as she rotated her lower back. This did very interesting things to the front of her robes, making her impressive cleavage strain against the material.
Both men gawked for a moment, then Kiyone shot Sentaro a dirty look. "Disgusting, letting a pretty sight deter you from duty. Not I!"
"You were too!" Sentaro started working faster on his pile of papers. "I don't even know she's there! My work is my life!"
Not to be outdone, Kiyone began working faster as well. "She who? No one is here but us! My duty is everything!"
Rangiku watched in a somewhat shocked frame of mind as the two men raced each other to see who could finish first, and who could ignore her presence the longest.
Captain Ukitake walked into the room and stopped next to his temporary lieutenant. He eyed the two co-third seats. "What are they doing?"
"Shhh, Captain." Rangiku smiled lightly. "Don't disturb them, they're doing all of my paperwork. Yours too."
The captain sighed and shook his head. "Rangiku, that's not good. They're going so fast that they're not even reading the pages."
"I am! I am reading!" Kiyone looked up with a desperate smile. "Good morning Captain, my captain!"
"No, I was going to greet him first!" Sentaro moaned. "Only I was too busy making sure my work was done properly and perfectly!"
The two squabbled and worked and squabbled and worked and ...
Rangiku turned to the Division Thirteen leader. "Captain Ukitake? Are they always like this?"
Jushiro nodded and sighed. "Rukia always stepped in and calmed the situation, taking over and making sure everything was in order."
Rangiku thought about it at least, but then shook her head. "I'll stop them AFTER they finish all of my paperwork." She yawned and headed over to the most comfortable looking couch.
Captian Ukitake sighed. Maybe it would have been better to let the busty blond work over with Shunsui after all.
Head-Captain Yamamoto sighed heavily, staring at the note in his hand. He wondered briefly if he should take something for his tension headache.
That's when the current source of his pain walked in the door.
The older man looked over at the sweet little girl, complete with candy-pink hair and lovely smile. "How can so much mayhem come from such a small container?"
"Sir?" Yachiru looked puzzled. Sweet and cute, but puzzled.
"You escorted Lady Niara on a tour of the Seireitei today?" The Head-Captain asked quietly.
Yachiru's smile widened. "She kept getting lost."
Yamamoto's hand trembled. "You took the wife of a prominent Noble family with multiple trade agreements through a tour of ...the best sweet shops in the Seireitei?"
The little lieutenant nodded, still looking puzzled. "I thought she'd like them."
"You took the diabetic wife of a noble ..." The Head-Captain stopped and rolled his neck as he regathered his thoughts. "Didn't you see the notation on her paperwork that she can't eat sweets?"
Yachiru put her finger next to her mouth, frowning slightly. "She did eat them. Said they were delicious too."
"Only because you told her they were 'safe' for her!" Yamamoto roared.
The pink-haired girl merely blinked at him, completely unintimidated. "They are safe. Those are the best sweet shops around!"
"Not for a diabetic!" The Head-Captain sighed heavily. "Yachiru? Do you know what diabetic means?"
The older man nodded and put his note down. "The lady will be fine according to Captain Unohana. But from now on, ask if there is a word that you don't fully understand. Why didn't you ask Genshiro about this?"
Yachiru shrugged. "He was busy."
The Head-Captain nodded, picking up another note. "Busy meeting with Captain Unohana as well? Busy with a broken foot?"
Yachiru nodded slowly, looking unsure for the first time. "I didn't mean to break his foot."
"You didn't mean to kick him?" The Head-Captain asked carefully.
"Oh no, I meant to kick him. I just didn't think his foot would break." Yachiru answered softly.
"In three places." Yamamoto winced and put that note back down on his desk. "Why did you kick him?"
"His foot got in the way of my foot." She answered, looking so very sincere.
The Head-Captain picked up a third note. "You sent a thank you gift to Merchant Simtai?"
Yachiru, feeling on better ground nodded eagerly. "I got the gifts when I was escorting the diuretic lady."
"Diabetic." Yamamoto groaned.
"Oh. They're diabetic too?"
"No." The older man shook his head and put down the note. "No. But candy is not always the appropriate gift to send someone."
Yachiru didn't look convinced, in fact she looked downright suspicious about that answer. "I don't trust people who don't eat sweets."
"Kenpachi doesn't eat sweets." Yamamoto couldn't help but point out the obvious.
"He would!" Yachiru didn't allow any derogatory comments at her beloved Kenny. "He just always gives them to me first!"
"I'll not argue the point." The Head-Captain sighed again. "Just run all gifts through me or Genshiro first, yes?"
Yachiru pouted, but nodded.
The older man sighed and put down all his notes. "Lieutenant Yachiru. You have done a great job whipping my division members into better shape. You are an asset in many, many areas. But Division One is run differently than Division Eleven. They are our main fighting force. My division not only has to fight, but we are the negotiators. The public face. The politicians if you will."
Yachiru was back to looking puzzled.
The Head-Captain gave her a small smile. "Let's make this simple. Keep getting the men into shape, but don't break them to the point they have to visit the medical barracks."
The pink-haired girl nodded, her expression clearing.
"All gifts and escorts are to be assigned by you ...to other members of the squad. You are too important to waste escorting people around, or buying gifts." The older man nodded more firmly, yes this would work.
"I am not your Kenpachi. You can not simply say 'NO' on all requests and think your paperwork is all done."
Yachiru grinned brightly, nearly bouncing on her feet. "Oh! I know that one! I already figured that out!"
The Head-Captain of the Gotei 13 smiled happily. "Very good!"
The pink-haired girl swung her arms out wide with excitement. "I know you're nothing like Kenny, 'cause he never says yes to anything. So I thought to myself, that to be YOUR lieutenant ...I have to say yes to everything!"
The older man chuckled. "Well, not everything."
Yachiru's smile faded around the edges. "Not everything?"
Head-Captain Yamamoto sat up with alarm niggling at the back of his mind. "What did you do?"
"Uhm ...I already did all your paperwork. All the requests, anyway." Yachiru smiled hopefully. "Those I was supposed to say 'yes' to, right?"
Seriously alarmed, the older man turned back to his desk. Rosters, letters, reports. All there. Requests. Requests. His headache returned with a vengeance, his left eye starting to throb. "You replied 'yes' to every single one?"
"Uhm ...yes?" Yachiru wasn't sounding as sure as she had been. "There were so many, but then you are the Head Captain and all."
"Many?" Yamamoto's voice sounded weak, even to himself. There had been maybe ten requests. Not so bad.
"I caught up on all the old ones too." The young lieutenant sounded hopeful that she'd done right as she pointed at his lower desk drawer.
The Head-Captain forgot how to breathe as he pulled open the indicated drawers. The crack-pot file. The place he kept all the stupid, silly, and absolutely idiotic requests. Empty.
"I got you all caught up ...and that's good right?"
Yamamoto felt sick as he looked over at the girl. "Have you sent out the replies yet?"
Yachiru nodded and even smiled at him. "Oh yes. I sent them out to Central 46 so they could issue all the new orders through the hell's butterflies. It's all taken care of!"
The Head-Captain closed his eyes in despair.
Lieutenant Momo Hinamori looked over the new orders with disbelief. Then she glanced over at the closed office door of her new temporary captain.
She swallowed hard and walked over slowly, knocking lightly. Hoping that he wouldn't hear.
"Come." Byakuya bade her.
Momo slid the door open just enough to slip inside. She stood quietly just beside the door.
Byakuya Kuchiki sighed. This timid girl was not what he needed in a lieutenant. She was competent enough with his division. And her organizational skills were far better than Abarai. But she still couldn't bring herself to face him, and that irritated him.
"What?" He demanded, probably far more brusquely than was proper.
"Hell's butterflies. Notices. Orders." Momo whispered.
Byakuya frowned. "I can't hear you."
"New orders." The lieutenant's face flamed as she spoke up marginally louder.
Momo shook her head, holding up the papers.
"Read them." Byakuya ordered her, narrowing his gaze in authority.
Momo swallowed hard and looked through them. Finally she cleared her throat. "All squad members are to wear socks with specific colors to delineate which squad they belong to. Red socks for our squad."
"Red ...socks?" Byakuya sat back, stunned.
Momo ran forward and put the notice on his desk. "It says so that those people who can't read will immediately know which squad we belong to."
"Ridiculous." The young nobleman read the notice carefully.
Momo forced a small smile. "Division Thirteen has to wear lavender, it's not so bad with red."
Byakuya scowled and she looked down at the other notes.
"This one states that male shinigami must wear their hair short, and women must pull theirs back into a braid." Momo held out the order and the captain snatched it from her hand.
"Cut my hair?" Byakuya felt his temper rising and ruthlessly tried to calm himself down. "Stupid."
"And it says no beards." Momo looked up hesitantly. "I don't know what Captain Komamura is supposed to do. It doesn't say."
Byakuya put down the note and started writing request to meet with the Head-Captain. "Take this to Division One. On the double."
Momo nodded and held up another missive. Byakuya groaned, his eyes fixated on the next order.
"This one says that all Captains have to set a good moral model for all shinigami." She whispered.
Byakuya's eyes moved to meet hers, she dropped her gaze. There was more to it, he just knew. "What?"
"All captains have to be married by the end of the year."
Byakuya put down his pen and stood, making Momo step back in a hurry. "Don't bother going to Divsion One. I'll take my message myself. In person." He snarled.
Captain Komamura and Izuru Kira stared at each other in disbelief as they both looked through the stack of new orders.
The blond shook his head and pointed at the furry, fox-faced captain. "Does that even count as a beard?"