Disclaimer: Kubo Tite invented Bleach, and he and others own its original characters. I own a little Zarachi Kenpachi figure, two Ishida Uryuus, and the fantasy of owning stock in companies that make these toys--especially after Bleach hits Adult Swim audiences this fall of 2006.
Description: Any scar on a warrior's body means that, regardless of victory or loss, his defenses changed. Characters mentioned in this little themed drabble series are Kenpachi, Yachiru, Mayuri, Nemu, Ichigo, Hanatarou, Yoruichi, Orihime, Isshin, and Ishida.
Warning: Specific spoilers for up to chapter 226 of the manga.
Before one great warrior acquired a name, he acquired a scar.
A famous swordsman meant to split the great warrior's skull. He threw all his weight into a swift blow, but it was the blade that cracked meeting the great warrior's face. Pieces of bright sword fell to the ground with large drops of blood. The bewildered swordsman mourned for his weapon, as if it were a living thing with a name and a spirit. "Noooo," he cried. "Don't leave me!"
Then the warrior who would call himself Kenpachi killed the sword-less swordsman. Wiping his bloody face with the back of his hand, he wondered if having a name meant having someone to mourn you when you die.
A few weeks later, the great warrior found the baby he named Yachiru, and he named himself Kenpachi.
Kenpachi thought his scar, a thin line from brow to chin, was an excellent one. It advertised his invincibility. No half-assed fighters would bother him now. He would only be taken on by true challengers … or madmen. Either would be just as entertaining.
"Ken-chan!" the baby Yachiru would squeal into the great warrior's ear. "Who are you going to kill next, Ken-chan?"
And because inflicting a nickname was like leaving a scar on a person's body--a signature of her power--Yachiru learned to rename everyone she met.
The first of his own body parts that Mayuri cut off were his ears. Innocuous flaps of flesh, easily reconstructed if the experiment failed.
Then he cut off his middle finger and replaced it with a more versatile tool. The new finger had a black retractable nail.
Jaw, kidney, kneecap, nose … with each body part, Mayuri perfected his surgeries so that his own skin melded flawlessly with the spirit-constructed new parts. The consummation of his techniques was Nemu--the child had seamless, poreless, faultless flesh.
Nemu's complexion shone like spirit stone. Its whiteness challenged Mayuri to kick it to pieces. It would never, ever be good enough.
Perfect skin would not only regenerate but would become stronger than before.
Mayuri was going to have to work on that.
Had there ever been a Shinigami who spilled so much blood in such a short time as Kurosaki Ichigo?
He was healed by Hanatarou, he was healed by Yoruichi, he was healed by Orihime. Each healer in turn was puzzled by, suspicious of, and awed over Ichigo's ability to remain un-scarred.
What the healers did not notice was that inside Ichigo's soul, a Hollow mask grew coarser and heavier.
Then Ichigo discovered that he was a Visored.
Even after the pain of that discovery diminished, the Hollow mask still strengthened him, still protected him, but Ichigo did not trust it: What does not kill you, after all, only lies in wait for a second chance.
Isshin took his revenge on Grand Fisher, but the equation remained unbalanced. On the one side, his children's sorrow over their murdered mother. On the other side, a monster slain and the mod-soul saved.
Isshin knew that there would be no justice; he had never expected justice. The moment he had slashed his zanpakutou through Grand Fisher it had been like slashing through the impossible equation with a glorious scar.
Killers were cleansed and sent to Soul Society. The Shinigami, known as the Equalizers, never made anything equal.
Kurosaki Isshin sheathed his zanpakutou, stared into the night sky, and smiled a crooked smile. "This universe," he told himself, "sure is fucked up."
On the rare occasion that Ishida went shirtless in public, no one noticed his scar but Orihime. It was a pale scar on a pale chest. Ishida tended to get chilled after swimming, and Orihime thought it was funny that people assumed he was delicate for bringing a robe to the pool.
Orihime was fairly certain she could make the scar, the hand-sized Quincy symbol with five spokes, vanish with just one healing touch, but she wondered if messing with the scar tissue would effect his powers. That, and even if the scar disappeared, being shot through the heart by one's own father was a permanent, life-altering event that no manipulation of time and space could reverse.
Still, she didn't like it.
The scar drew her attention to something that made her feel uncomfortable. Maybe it drew attention to her own paying attention to it.
Although the Quincy was a self-proclaimed destroyer, he and she both understood self-sacrifice, didn't they?
I would suffer this much for you, the scar said. I would kill and die for you.
And Orihime found herself wanting to press her hand, her sympathy, and all her resistance against the mark.