A Bleachy Christmas Carol

Chapter Two

A/N: Beware OOC-Nemu. She truly is frightening. I couldn't help myself: normal Nemu was too boring to write. By the way, the Bleach fandom is the suck. One review? C'mon, people. Lame. Just 'cause Hitsugaya's not in it yet... And it doesn't have a coupling... Aah, I kid. Anyways...

Disclaimer: Bleach does not belong to me and neither does 'A Christmas Carol'. Though it seems like 'A Christmas Carol' is fair game, seeing how this time of year you can't turn on the TV without seeing a B-movie version of it. ...But I'm doing the same thing, aren't I? Crap.

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After a long evening of alternatively filing and fiddling with his expansive collection of DNA samples, Mayuri decided to call it a night. First, however, he had to attend to cleaning his laboratory, which wasn't exactly a simple task. He'd been attempting to create another Quincy clone, but all he'd been able to produce was a surly, cupid-looking midget with a bad attitude and a mop of blue hair.

'Not that far off...' he thought to himself encouragingly.

As Mayuri approached its holding tank, it let out a string of curses that were made inaudible by the two inches of glass that separated it from the rest of the world. Mayuri tsked at it and it bared its teeth.

"But still a failure.." he sighed, his finger hovering over an ominous red button on the tank's control panel. "Too bad."

The clown-faced captain pushed the button and waved as the specimen was deluged by a flood of swirling water and flushed like an expired goldfish. Uryuu would have been disturbed to know that deep in the sewers below the Seireitei, a race of mutant pseudo-Quincies thrived, plotting world domination and biding their time by being emo and sewing stylish uniforms for the Revolution.

Mayuri turned and trudged up the stairs that led to his living quarters above the lab (the screams helped him sleep at night) and laid down on his utilitarian bed that was barely one step up from the operating gurneys he was around all day. The exhaustion of the day caught up with him, and soon he was asleep, but not before his pesky subconscious reminded him that when he woke up, it'd be that most cursed of all holidays, Christmas. He made a note to figure out a way to surgically remove his subconscious.

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Meanwhile across the squad compound, Nemu curled up on her fluffy pink bedspread (trimmed with maribou and sparkles) and sniffled.

"It's-- hhhng... not... uehhh... fair!" She hiccupped angrily to a bright clown plushy, tears brimming in her eyes.

"You never..." she paused to blow her nose loudly, "--let me do anything fuuun! Why did you even give me stupid feelings?"

She threw the doll across the room and turned to her next victim, a plush kitty that she squeezed to her chest.

"He doesn't understand how hard it is being his vice-captain!" she gushed on, tear-rivers flooding her cheeks, "None of my friends ever want to come over to my house to play. And all my friends in the company eventually get sliced and diced for the sake of science! I just wanna be normal! I hate you, daddy!"

With that, she tore the head off the cat doll and threw the remains across the room.

Nemu never really thought about how or why Mayuri kept her supplied with stuffed animals, but the rest of the company caught on quickly when they heard particularly awful screams come from the laboratory one night and saw Mayuri emerge in the morning with a handful of plushies. Since then, it's been a monthly occurrence... one that eerily coincides with the monthly firings. Every time Nemu gets angsty, the lower members of the company in charge of clean-up always find several grotesquely mutilated toys with their stuffing leaking out. They invariably shudder and run out of the room without looking at Nemu, who is always profoundly confused by their behavior. That's the first way Captain Kurotsuchi keeps his company in line and his daughter removed from the outside world.

The second way was a bit of a mistake on Mayuri's part. When he constructed Nemu, he tried to give her an artificial intelligence that matched her outward appearance of maturity. However, sometimes nature just won't be ignored, and Nemu's emotional maturity has progressed at a natural rate. Her blank mask outside Squad 12 and in front of her captain is just a cover for the seething bundle of crazy underneath. Currently, she's going through her pre-teen stage, which means that several of the squad members who live around her are kept up at night while she blares boy band music and whines about her life.

So when Nemu was asked to join the Shinigami Women's Society, she was exposed to social interaction for the first time, and since then, her angst attacks have severely reduced in number. Until today.

'Well, as Vice President of the SWS, I planned most of this party. There's no way I'm going to miss it! Besides, Yumichika promised he'd make me fab-u-lous! I can't let him down!"

Nemu grabbed the life-size model of the anatomy of a shinigami corpse Mayuri had gotten her two birthdays ago and threw it on the bed, where she covered it with blankets. Then she carefully placed her "Do Not Enter Or I Kill Your Face" sign on her door and threw open her window. Without a moment of hesitation, she leapt from the fourth-story to the ground without so much as a broken bone. Being a real-life bionic woman can come in handy sometimes.

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As night spread across the Seireitei, the 12th squad captain slept fitfully, tossing and turning. His night clothes and hair became rumpled, his sheets came untucked, and his pillows fell to the floor until all he slept on was a bare mattress. Gradually, the inky blackness of his dreamless sleep lifted and he woke shivering despite the blanket twisted around him. He quietly and efficiently remade his bed, climbed back in, and pulled the covers past his shoulders to ward off the creeping chilliness. Despite all this, he couldn't shake the feeing of quiet foreboding that told him someone was watching him. And in his line of work, it pays to be paranoid. Mad scientists don't usually get to the top without stepping on (and cutting off) a few toes. So instead of ignoring his instinct, Mayuri stood and addressed the darkness.

"Who's there? Show yourself now!" he demanded sheepishly, fumbling in his nightstand for a flashlight.

He needn't have bothered. Just as Mayuri found the torch (and realized it was the one thing in his lab that didn't work), an ethereal spot of light flitted spastically around the room and left neon afterimages dancing across his vision.

"What...?" he began, only to be interrupted by the distant sound of clanking shackles.

Mayuri paled, but still continued his futile interrogation.

"What is the meaning of this?"

Silence reigned for a brief moment, and Mayuri managed to convince himself that everything had been a figment of his imagination. That is, until a disembodied voice spoke in an unbearably quiet tone that nagged at the edge of his perception.

"Woooh... Kurotsuchi... the pain...the emptiness... the rising darkness..."

Mayuri gulped.

"Nemu Mark 1? Is that you? If so, I'm sorry about forgetting to make you a spleen."

The bright spot reappeared and gradually grew in volume until it turned into the outline of a man. The outline solidified and the ghost creature's features morphed into the familiar smug grin and body shape of Kisuke Urahara, though a few degrees more transparent than usual.

"Why if it isn't my old buddy, Lieutenant Kurotsuchi! Sorry about messing with you earlier, but you should've seen your face! Priceless. So, how's it hanging?" Spirit-Kisuke grinned, floating luxuriously a good three or four feet above the ground.

"This it you speak of was hanging better before you showed up. I thought you were banished to the human world. Does this sudden misty morphological change mean that you've passed on... again? If so, don't expect your job back."

Cloudy Kisuke folded his arms and glowered.

"Yuri-chan, is that any way to greet your mentor and brutha-from-anotha-mother?"

"Don't call me that! It's Captain Kurotsuchi to you, worm!" Mayuri shrieked before regaining his composure. " And unless there's a reason for this late-night visit, please leave this place."

"Oh, but there is a reason, Monsieur Crankypants. Allow me to elaborate. You see, the universe in general thinks you're a major jerkwad and you've gotta change your ways or karma'll kick you in the nads and you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life. You know, the usual."

Mayuri scowled.

"Your descriptions are as colorful as usual, Kisuke. But what makes you think that you can make me change my ways? You were the one who started the Research and Development unit. I'm just carrying on your legacy. Of course, I'm better at it, but that's no reason to try to sabotage with this spirit nonsense."

Kisuke surveyed the cramped room and gave his best you've-gotta-be-kidding look.

"I'm only doing this for your own good, Krotchi-chan. I've been watching you for a while now and it's only today that you've been able to see me. I'd say that's an omen, yessiree."

The room went silent except for the faint sound of Maruyi gritting his teeth. Kisuke hummed obliviously and swayed slightly from the air current.

"How long did you say you've been spying on me?" Mayuri snarled.

"Oh, a couple weeks, give or take. It's actually an interesting story. You see, a couple of weeks ago I was experimenting with my latest invention, the Diary of Doom, when I dropped the prototype. Well, some kid with homocidal tendencies and a god complex picked it up and started to use it for a killing spree to cleanse the Earth or something."

Listening to the story, Mayuri came as close as he permitted to pouting. Kisuke Urahara was unique in that he was the only person Mayuri Kurotsuchi considered crazier than himself. After Kisuke had been banished, Mayuri had taken several measures to remedy this, including experimenting on himself, constantly showing off his creepy bloated-baby zanpakuto, and beating out both Gin and Zaraki in a popular opinion 'Person you would least want to run into in a dark alley alone at night' poll. The fact that Kisuke could still shock him annoyed the hell out of Mayuri, so he stopped the rambling ex-captain.

"...And how exactly do you kill someone with a diary?"

Kisuke grinned that unsettling grin of his and flapped his fan a few times modestly.

"Well, all you have to do is write their name and know what they look like. I imbued the paper with a spell that takes those two variables into account, then summons one of my specially-designed Reaper hollows, which then murders said person. You get off scot-free. Comes in handy when someone tries to avoid paying their tab. Did I mention I have a shop in the human world? It's super-cute. Anyhow, naturally, I hunted megalomaniac-boy down and very politely requested he stop being a freak and gimme my toy back. I was nice; there was hardly any blood at all... I just made the mistake of wearing my name-tag from the shop and he used that to kill me a bit. My dear employees are working on a gigai, but without me, they're making slow work of it. So until I get all fixed up, I've been spying on you guys. You're the most interesting, though. Or pathetic. I can't decide."

During Kisuke's speech, Mayuri had become progressively redder until it looked like his scientifically-altered head would explode. Kisuke noticed and hovered over and put one ethereal arm around Mayuri comfortingly. Mayuri tensed and batted him away as though he'd just been attacked by an over-grown mosquito.

"Hey, May-chan! That wasn't nice. Look, I apologize. The pathetic thing wasn't supposed to be an insult, it was just... you know, a fact."

The veins in Mayuri's forehead bulged and his eyes started twitching simultaneously.

"Stop calling me by those ridiculous nicknames or there will be consequences. If I hadn't thought you were a hallucination at first, I would have already called for reinforcements. You're no match for my rogue konpaku task-force."

Trying hard to look innocent, Kisuke put one finger to his cheek quizically.

"Sorry, I didn't catch that last part. Who're you gonna call?"

"Listen, you fool. I said you should already be deleted by my rogue konpaku task-force. They're a fearsome bunch of--"

"No! You got it all wrong! You were supposed to say 'GhostBusters!'. I tell you, you Soul Society losers have no sense of humor, big time." Kisuke said smugly before he launched into a fit of hysterical giggles at his own joke.

At the sound of laughter, Mayuri tensed and involuntarily shuddered in annoyance.

"So, you mentioned that there was a reason for you being here? The sooner you do whatever you need to do, the sooner you can get the hell out of here."

Kisuke paused. "Oh, right. I forgot. You see, these chains--" he gestured to his chest and the inga no kusari attached there. "Were forged by my misdeeds in life. I've had to carry around these burdens since I passed on, and trust me, yours will be worse unless you mend your ways."

"Uhh, that's just your chain of fate." Mayuri sneered.

"Whatever! It's different when you're on this end of it!

"Right... As interesting as this all is, it's an utter waste of time. I'm going to find some sleeping pills." Mayuri said, turning to leave.

Just as Mayuri's fingers wrapped around the doorknob, Kisuke wafted in front of him and hit his successor with his pimp sword-cane, which happened to still be solid enough to smack a bitch. Mayuri let out a noise composed of equal parts indignation and rage, but slowly removed his hand.

"Bad captain! Drugging yourself won't take away the pain! Just say no!"

Unfortunately for Kisuke, Mayuri had removed his hand from the door to draw his zanpakuto. The bloated baby glared at him menacingly from the hilt.

"Shall we see if my sword can cut through pure reishi? Somehow I think the answer is yes, seeing how that's what it's composed of."

Both assumed their fighting poses.

" It's on!" Kisuke nodded, grinning ferociously, "Scream, Benihime!"

"Go get him, Ashisogi Jizo!"

Nothing happened for either one. That is, until their zanpakutos materialized and a smokin' hot red-haired vixen and a rugrat-resembling baby appeared. Benihime put one hand on a shapely hip and shook the other at her wielder scoldingly.

"You can't be serious, Kisuke. You actually want me to attack a cute itsy bitsy baby? I could never do that. Besides, what makes you think I'll listen to you? You always ignore me. In twenty-one volumes of manga, you've only drawn me once. And even then it was against some pre-teen ball o' angst. Even Hanataro's zanpakuto's gets more action!" Benihime pouted.

"Benihime," Kisuke hissed under his breath, "You're breaking the fourth wall again."

Benihime put her hand over her mouth sheepishly.

"Oops! Anyways, I'm not gonna hurt the ickle cutie-kins. No, I'm not. Who's a good baby?" Benihime cooed.

"Ga?" Ashisogi Jizo responded.

"Are these mean testosterone-crazed men being mean to us? Yes they are!"

"Goo." It tried to stand up in agreement, but it's chibi-legs couldn't support it and it fell back to the ground and bawled. "Waaaah!"

Benihime picked up the distressed toddler and held it to her ample bosom, where it snuggled happily.

"And we're not going to fight for them, are we?"

"Ga!"

The two captains looked at the scene, then at each other, severely disturbed.

"Let's, uhh, never mention that again." Kisuke said, sheathing Benihime.

A pale Mayuri nodded and did the same.

"Agreed."

Kisuke peered at his watch, which read :58 in blinking red digits. As he watched, it slowly counted down toward zero.

"Aw, crap. I think that's all the time I get. Listen and listen well. You'll be visited by three other spirits tonight-- The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future. Note the capitals. They're that important, so don't piss them off, kay? Well, I'm off to get my body back and exact revenge. I'm totally genocide-moding that whiny little Kira kid. Not the Soul Society Kira, of course, even if he does have mega-unstylish floppy hair. Well, my job's done. Toodles for now, Chi-chan!"

Ghost-kisuke vanished as his watch blinked :00 and let out a high-pitched beeping noise. And with that, Mayuri was left alone once more in his room.

"Nonsense." Mayuri muttered to himself, "Three ghosts, indeed. Kisuke's just trying to pull a trick on me. And if he's not, I'll just have to practice my konso. Problem solved."

Somehow, Mayuri couldn't convince himself it'd be so easy. Resigned, he sighed and settled in for one long night.

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Post-Story A/N: Just in case you all didn't pick up on it, the "Diary of Doom" thing is based on the DeathNote series. For some reason, it came to mind that only Kisuke would be crazy enough to invent a DeathNote, and the idea spiralled out of control from there. XD Next chapter, a few of our Shinigami favorites show up, Nemu's origins are kinda-sorta revealed, and there are alpacas. Not really. But I do love alpacas. Until then, leave a shiny review or I'lll haunt yooooouuuu! Or maybe I'll starve the periwinkle button and turn it into a ghost. Either way, it's on your conscious!

Periwinkle Button: Please, sir, can I have some more... reviews?
CAT: You fail! Wrong Dickens story!