A Bleachy Christmas Carol

A/N- Well, it's finals week for poor CAT again. After writing a long essay at home, then going and writing two more for exams, I was utterly tired of writing in general. That is, until this idea wormed its way into my brain. Something's got to remind me that I don't hate writing, no? At first, this was going to be a series of shorts (and I might still post the others), but this one grew so much it was clear it needed to be its own fic. Bleach Christmas is too fun to write about. Happy Holidays and enjoy!

No matter if you're in the realm of the living or the dead, there are always people who dread the holidays and who look at you like you're an idiot if you call Christmas "the most wonderful time of the year". Some of them have good reasons. For some, it's a mild annoyance, like for Captain Yamamoto, who is constantly being mauled by Yachiru, who mistakes him for Santa and demands presents at swordpoint. Some are allergic to fake snow (the Seireitei is much like southern California in that there is no such thing as weather, just varying degrees of sunniness). Some spend weeks stressing over what to buy their loved ones, only to wake up Christmas Eve and realize that they haven't done any actual shopping. This never ends well and usually ends with a last-minute dash to the nearest convenience store. Some have to work through the holidays. Because of this, there is much tension between retail slaves and last-minute shoppers. Some just get really crappy gifts. No matter how much the thought counts, it's impossible not to be disappointed when the most intruiging package under the tree turns out to be socks. Again, this is mainly the last-minute shoppers' faults, as anyone who's ever gotten a 7-11 ice scraper as a stocking stuffer can attest. Of course, old people are major culprits too, as they're the only people (besides the British) who think a tea cozy's a great gift.

...Then there are the ones who hate the season for no good reason, besides the fact that it makes other people happier than they themselves are. In the Seireitei, no one falls into this category better than Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, the notorious sociopath and mad scientist. Yes, if anyone ever needed a holdiay intervention, it was certainly him. The only problem is that no one dares to stage such an event for someone who would sooner dissect you than utter the words "Merry Christmas". Indeed, for someone that scrooge-ish, it takes something almost supernatural to change their mind...

On this particular Christmas Eve, Mayuri sat behind his highly-polished stainless steel desk and slowly steepled his fingers. In front of him, Nemu stood stiffly, as if she had a spine made of metal (which she probably did). All in all, this would have been like every other meeting the vice-captain and her boss/creator had held, but something just didn't belong. In this case, it was the incongruously cheerful santa hat perched on Nemu's head.

"Lieutenant..." he said, trying to ignore the bile rising in his throat, "What is that ridiculous thing attached to your head. I certainly hope you're using it to cover an experiment-induced tumor, rather than for... ornamentation."

As he spat the last word, he shivered slightly and was relieved that his mask covered the look of revulsion and queasiness had had frozen on his normally blank face.

"I believe it is a symbol of Christmas festivity, sir. Vice-captain Matsumoto gave it to me and it seemed rude to refuse."

Mayuri peered at Nemu and his swivel chair squeaked in protest as he leaned forward.

"I'm sorry," Mayuri hissed in a slithery sort of tone that made the breath catch in Nemu's lungs, "I may not have been clear. I meant to ask why the hell you dared defile my office by wearing that... that... atrocity."

Nemu gulped. "I-I'm sorry, sir. I just thought..."

"Bakudou #137,823,541!"

A swarm of tiny scissors popped into existence and heeded Mayuri's call by cutting the offending hat into so much Christmas confetti.

"You thought what?"

Nemu paused for a moment, as if considering what she was going to say next, then she lifted her chin and looked at her captain.

"I just thought I'd spread a little Christmas cheer. This "goodwill" is an interesting concept. I assumed you'd want to research it more extensively as a scientist."

"I KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS INFERNAL HOLIDAY!"

Fortunately for timid Nemu, his verbal tirade was interrupted by hesitant knocking at the door. Mayuri looked at Nemu expectantly and she scurried to open the door.

"How can I help--"

Before she could finish her greeting, a shinigami with hair like a rooster and a personality just as loud burst into the room, followed by an exasperated-looking Rukia and a few younger shinigami who looked downright petrified.

"Captain Kurotsuchi," Renji began in a slightly stilted tone of voice that implied he was regurtitating a memorized speech, "We're here on behalf of STRAYS, Shinigami Training Rukongai Area Youth Students. Every year, there are hundreds of spiritually-gifted children that are ignored because they don't live in the Seireitei..."

Mayuri brightened slightly and his urge to stab the 6th division vice-captain lessened somewhat.

"...And you want me to experiment on them. Perfect plan! If they don't have families, I won't get all these pesky compaints. Are those ones a present?" he said, gesturing to the noobs, who promptly ran out the door.

Renji raised one eyebrow (which took extra effort since it covered half of his face).

"Uh, not quite. You see, we're asking for monetary contributions so we can sponsor under-priveleged youths in their entrance to the academy. All the other captains, even Kenpachi, have donated..."

Renji trailed off meaningfully and rattled his donations bucket. Likewise, Rukia smiled sweetly and hoisted a baner that proclaimed in big bold letters, "Merry Chrstmas, help an orphan!".

"For only a dollar a day..."

Under his mask, Mayuri's face turned red-purple.

"Get out, fools! I don't care about Rukongai tramps and I certainly don't care about the C-word!"

Rukia and Renji hesitated for a second, then Mayuri reached in his desk and pulled out a blowgun and a syringe filled with glowing green liquid. With reflexes like a startled bunny, Rukia ducked behind Renji.

"Hey, what am I, your personal human shield?" Renji said indignantly.

Rukia grinned.

"Yup, pretty much. What else are you good for?"

Renji lunged at her and she danced away, laughing mockingly. Meanwhile, insulted at being ignored in favor of a petty squabble, Mayuri raised the blowgun menacingly and cleared his throat. The two gulped and retreated out the door without another word.

"Bah humbug!" Mayuri snarled.

He turned his attention to Nemu once more.

"You are dismissed, unless there is anything else?"

The room descended into icy silence and Nemu turned to go, then stopped.

"Sir, there is one more thing. Well, two, to be accurate."

Mayuri waved his hand impatiently, signaling for her to speak.

"I was wondering if I might have a half-day off tonight. Merely for personal research, I assure you."

"Oh yes." Mayuri drawled, "Personal research. Of course."

Though see couldn't see, she knew by the tone that her captain's mouth had just twisted into a cruel grin.

"I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that it's Christmas Eve and the Gotei 13 Christmas Party is tonight."

The lieutenant visibly wilted and couldn't help but extend her lower lip in a mild pout. Perceptive as usual, Mayuri had pinned down her intention, despite her efforts to hide it. Nemu swallowed the dry lump of fear stuck in her throat and steeled herself for another round of derisive rage, much to her surprise. This was almost the most she'd ever challenged her father.

"Maybe, sir. It is expected that 12th company will be represented."

"Hrmm... trying to trick me, eh, girl? Unacceptable. We have too much to do tonight for any frivolity. But you had another order of business, did you not?" he said challengingly.

Nemu paused in her sulking for a moment and put a finger to her chin pensively.

"Uh, what does "Bah humbug" mean, master?"

"It means that you should stop wasting my time and get back to work!" Mayuri snarled.

Nemu jumped and strode efficiently to the door.

"Yes, sir. My apologies."

Never able to resist having the last word, Mayuri spoke up again.

"And I better not hear anything else about the subject!"

With that, he refocused on his desk and started sorting the various vials in the drawers, comforted by their soft clinking. The whole ordeal had reminded him of that Christmas. Reflecting back on it, in ways it seemed ancient, but something about it still cut like it was yesterday. He scoffed and shook the silly, petty memories from his head and reminded himself that if he exerted any more force on the test-tube of bount DNA, it would shatter, permanently eradicating the bounts forever. Unfortunately for all the filler-haters, he controlled himself and placed the container back into its compartment. In its place, he pulled out a few unfinished equations and perused them disinterestedly.

But despite his abnormal intelligence, he could have never suspected what would happen to him that night.

Post-story A/N- I think you all know where this is going. Take that, Charles Dickens! I've gotta admit that it's kinda weird doing a fic with Nemu and Mayuri as the main characters, since I've never been all that fond of them. Once I started thinking about it, though, I had to use them. Well, I've wasted too much time on this when I should be studying, so leave me a review as a reward. Pretty please? It'll get me through my next two finals! Upper-level college econ course are teh suck.

Now review or the periwinkle button in the lower left-hand corner gets it!

Periwinkle Button: Please... she has a relly sharp candy cane and she will use it for stabbing. Think of the children!!!