1. Mask

Summary: Kurotsuchi Mayuri hides his face behind a mask. That mask also hides who he really is. One day, someone discovers who he really is, and they both find a new friend.

Pairing/s: None.

Warnings: Mayuri definitely out of character. More than one person out of character-fic. Mention of blood and gore. Slight spoiler for the previous twelfth captain.

Disclaimers: I don't own Bleach.

-

Not all of us are really who others think we are

Kurotsuchi Mayuri was the freak in Soul Society amongst the Shinigamis. He was abnormal, anti-social and cruel. He abused his 'daughter' Nemu, he experimented on all people he could find and he loved to take things (and living beings) apart. Painfully slow.

Oh, how little everyone knew. Mayuri rested the left side of his head on the cool table and breathed deeply. He had told Nemu to go to bed long ago, as he had seen she was getting tired. Despite of how he treated her in public, he truly cared for her. And she knew that, and accepted the behaviour he had outside their private rooms. Even his own people thought he abused her. Or most of them; Akon seemed to have the ability to see right through his mask. The man never said anything about his captain's behaviour outside the small safety space Mayuri had made, knowing him better than Mayuri liked.

He could show all people that he did care, if only he knew how to. Nemu knew he had a hard time to show emotions of any kind in public except for anger and disgust. Anger and disgust at others, always faked when it came to her. Nemu knew if she died, he would die as well. That was why he built her strong, trained her so much and made her always work harder to become stronger, more independent.

He closed his eyes before rising up. Before him lay a zanpaktou, the first a Shinigami had managed to build. Never underestimate a Kurotsuchi. They were scientists at heart, good with their hands and tools. Not good with people. Nemu was an exception but that was because Mayuri had made her one. He did not want her to be like him, anti-social and hard to be friend with. He wanted his daughter to have friends.

He chuckled weakly. What would his parents say? To create a daughter with tools, inhuman machineries… it was taboo for even his family to do so, so he had broken the rules. No matter; all of his family was dead so why should he care?

He caressed the zanpaktou he had just spent several hours checking over. It was now perfect. Ready to be given to Nemu. Her own zanpaktou. He had no idea what its' name was so it was for her to discover. He smiled and lifted it gently. The man sheathed it carefully and carried it out from the laboratory. The halls were quiet and empty as it was five in the morning. Akon usually got up before the two Kurotsuchis, around six in the morning but for now the man was asleep.

He slid the door to Nemu's room open and stepped inside, his steps soundless on the cold floor. She was deep asleep and did not even stir as he put the zanpaktou on her night-stand. He then exited after a last look at her.

Not feeling like going to bed just yet, he stepped out from the compound of the twelfth division and began walking the streets of Seireitei. The sun had just barely begun to rise and he raised his eyes to watch it. He was well aware of his mask being gone but was confident no one was awake to see him. He did not even know how he looked like. It had been too long since he last looked himself in a mirror. He was vaguely certain his hair was blue. Nemu had once said he looked handsome but Mayuri did not know how a person looked like when they were handsome. Acceptable perhaps? Not too ugly?

He jumped over the walls surrounding Seireitei easily and landed on a street. It was quiet there as well, the souls still sleeping. Only one or two were up and looked frightened at him. He paid no attention but used Shunpo to continue. He had no idea where he was going but he needed some time alone. The war with Aizen had ended, with the death of said man and his tools called Espada. Almost all Shinigamis had celebrated the victory but Mayuri could have cared less. So what? They won this time. It would come someone else in the future, and maybe that time he or she would win. Being a Shinigami meant fighting for all future. Always fighting, never resting. Because there was always something to fight. Always.

He came to stop in a meadow and took a few breaths. He swept his hair away and noted it was indeed blue. Blue… how abnormal. He had never seen a person with blue hair. The most abnormal hair colour he had seen was Kurosaki Ichigo's orange mop of hair, or perhaps that fucking Szayel. Pink… Mayuri shuddered at the thought. Pink! At least the pink looked fine on that brat Yachiru. Maybe he should have counted her in as well, but he had seen her with that hair for so long that he did not react on it any longer.

He sat down by a tree and looked up at the sky that grew brighter as the sun climbed higher. He knew he was not liked, and not just because he wore a mask or what he suspected to look underneath. They did not like his personality, who they thought he was. They could think all what they wanted that he had no idea; they were foolish if they thought he had no idea. He heard the whispering among him, even when he walked through the corridors of his own division. The few who remembered Urahara Kisuke said he was a much better captain and how much they missed that man.

Well, sometimes Mayuri missed him as well. With Kisuke in charge Mayuri could retreat to a laboratory for days or even weeks. The man never tried to make Mayuri social but let the blue-haired man do as he wished. So many had envied him for his position, that he could come and go as he wanted and that he was never told off by their captain. Many had gotten angry when Mayuri was made captain after Urahara Kisuke fled.

He himself had felt some sort of pride that he qualified for that position, a position where his sort of idol had been. Now though… he was just tired of it.

He bent his head and curled up. Emotions like sorrow and pain was far away but when they came, they came hard. He had not let them come through for a long time, and thought he was safe in this meadow. He would go back before Akon or Nemu found out he had not been sleeping that night, or that he had been out for a while.

-

Zaraki Kenpachi wondered what he did out fucking five thirty in the morning in the middle of nowhere but did not really care. He had not been able to sleep, but luckily Yachiru had not woken up when he had gotten up. He would let Yumichika and Ikkaku deal with the brat when she woke up; they deserved that after drinking up his sake.

He came into a meadow and stopped suddenly. At the other side sat a Shinigami, curled up with his head resting on his forearms.

Blue hair? Kenpachi had never seen a Shinigami with blue hair in Seireitei. He walked closer, actually a bit curious of whom it was.

"Oi."

The head shot up and yellow eyes met his own. Kenpachi's eyes widened and he burst out:

"Kurotsuchi?!"

-

Mayuri blinked at the giant man, where did he come from? and then replied in his eerie voice:

"Zaraki-san. You startled me."

Kenpachi was a bit confused with the calmness of the man, as he only knew Kurotsuchi Mayuri to be an angry man who loved to torture others.

"Is there something you want?" Mayuri asked.

"… Nah, not really. What are you doing here?"

"Time-out," the smaller man said. He turned his head and Kenpachi saw the ears appeared to be missing. He could not stop staring at the man. Tan skin, that blue hair, slight stubble… why the hell did he hide behind a mask?

"Why do you have a mask on when you look like this?" Kenpachi asked and crouched down. His neck hurt looking down for so much.

"I have always worn a mask," Mayuri said and stroke away his hair. The giant Shinigami could not help but notice the twelfth captain was thin, the wrists looking so fragile. Was this really the man who on a regular basis threatened to kill someone? The man continuing talking woke the big man up from his thoughts, "And no one has given me a reason not to wear a mask. You all think you know me, so why should I try and be myself when you have already assumed who I am?"

"Keh, that's because you behaves like an asshole," Kenpachi said and peered at him.

"Nemu says I need friends," Mayuri said and smiled sadly. The smile was strange to see, and Kenpachi wondered if he was the first one to see a somewhat real smile on that man's face. "Only I am not so good at making friends because no one has ever tried to understand me. I stopped trying long ago."

"Why?"

Why indeed?

Flashback:

Mayuri was little yet he understood why everyone was scared of him. He was not like them, he did not act like them or did really feel like he had to be like them. Therefore, he was not normal. And if something was not normal, stay away from that thing.

So Mayuri had simply stopped trying to be friendly.

Waking up from memories he firmly pushed aside, the blue-haired man replied:

"Because no one understood me. Not even my parents. And everyone thought I was strange anyway, and you don't go close to strange things if you want to remain normal."

"Why didn't your parents understand you?" Kenpachi was slightly disturbed with how dead Mayuri sounded as he spoke about what had happened.

"Dear, there is something wrong with him! Why isn't he like everyone else?!"

Mayuri tried to shut out his mother's voice, knowing she thought he was out. The blade dug deeper and the pain suddenly was the center of his focus. His own blood, so dark, dripped down on the floor. He watched in fascination as his blood escaped his body, ignoring his screaming parents. They never wanted him so why had they kept him alive?

"I wanted to become a Shinigami," Mayuri said, not quite ready to tell the truth. He wondered if he ever would be ready to tell the truth to anyone as he himself still denied it. "They didn't understand why as they had never had a Shinigami in the family. A family who will die with me."

"With you?"

"Yes. Nemu might be able to get children but her DNA is so different from mine so the children will not belong to the Kurotsuchi family but to Nemu's own. Not that I'm not complaining."

The giant man stared at Mayuri, realizing the scientist was rambling… to him, to the wild man that everyone seemed to despise at some point. Mayuri seemed to realize he was rambling and stopped. He looked at the eleventh captain and said:

"Forgive me. Lately I have rambled a lot."

"Haven't noticed that on you," Kenpachi replied, amused as he fully sat down. To his credit the scientist uncurled and sat down Indian-style. He gripped his ankles with his hands and looked at the giant man.

"Do you find me handsome?" Mayuri suddenly asked.

"Handsome?" Kenpachi repeated, just to make sure he had heard right.

"Yes."

"You look nice," Kenpachi tried with. "Little weird with your hair and ears but I gotten used to that already. Otherwise you don't look any different."

Mayuri touched his hair absently as Kenpachi rested against the tree as well. The smaller man's head reached the giant's shoulder. Said giant yawned and realized the warming sun made him sleepy. Looking over at Mayuri, it seemed the sun had the same effect on him.

"Is this how it's like to have a friend?" Mayuri asked after a little while.

"I don't really know. I don't have friends."

"Oh… seems like I'm not alone then."

"No… you're not."

The scientist nodded, mostly to himself, and then made himself comfortable against the tree trunk. When Kenpachi looked again, Mayuri was asleep. Without really thinking, the violent man followed the petite man next to him.

-

Yachiru's screams woke Yumichika and Ikkaku up, and the two men woke up with a start and simultaneous groans. They got up from their futons and staggered out. The pink-haired girl attached herself to Yumichika who fell down at the force.

"Ken-chan is gone!" she wailed.

"Vice-captain, Zaraki-taichou maybe was just going out for a walk," Ikkaku tried, trying to bring life into his brain. Why did he have to drink all that sake?

"Ken-chan's sword is still here!" she continued. "Ken-chan would not leave without his sword!"

They looked at each other, trying to work out what had happened. True; their captain did not leave the compound without his zanpaktou.

"Ikkaku, could you please help me?" Yumichika said and then turned to Yachiru. "Vice-captain, how about we ask around a bit if anyone saw Zaraki-taichou leave?"

The girl considered this and then nodded before letting herself be pried away from the petite man.

-

When Kenpachi woke up again, the sun had climbed much higher. He guessed it was around nine in the morning and swore mentally. Yachiru must have been up for over an hour already. He had planned to go back only after a few minutes after she had woken up if he wished to have his division intact and not lying at the fourth division for injuries Yachiru caused while searching for him.

He turned his head down and saw Mayuri sleeping against his shoulder. So that was why his left shoulder was warmer than his right. The scientist did not look scary at all when he was without his mask. Kenpachi smiled a bit and gently shook his companion awake.

Mayuri looked around in confusion before looking up at Kenpachi.

"Oh… good morning." The intelligent scientist appeared a bit slow in the morning hours.

"Can you get up? The time should be around nine."

"Nine? Oh shit." Oh my, he woke up quickly from his sleepy demeanour. As Mayuri tried to rise up, the two of them realized he would not be able to. His mind may be wide awake but his body certainly was not. He had exhausted himself.

"You need help?"

Mayuri looked at Kenpachi and nodded. The scientist thought the man would just pull him up which would result in him falling down again.

To his surprise, Kenpachi kneeled down and offered the man… a piggy-back? Well, Mayuri had not had one for a very, very long time. Only once had his father done so, and Mayuri had been so small that he could not remember it very well.

His thin hands gripped the worn material of the white robe and he heaved himself up. He was easily lifted up, Kenpachi's hands meeting underneath him to hold him up. The giant began walking, Mayuri resting fully against the man's back. The blue-haired one smiled; if this was like having a friend, it was great. The feelings he had felt only hours before was washed away due to the very presence of the eleventh captain.

"You falling asleep on me, Mayuri?"

He did not even mind this man calling him by his given name, but instead he only replied:

"You try to work for six days without sleep and see how well you feel."

"Fucking hell, are you all in twelfth division this crazy?"

"Mostly."

"Insanity," Kenpachi muttered.

"That is what we call your division," Mayuri said with a grin.

"Mine?! You are the crazy ones!"

As they continued to bicker back and forth, they had not realized a bond had formed between them that would not be easy to break.

-

"Vice-captain, please calm down!"

Yachiru was currently wailing and Yamamoto leaned his head into his palm, looking strangely relaxed as the eleventh vice-captain screamed all she could… and that was not little. His vice-captain was protecting his ears, something Yumichika and Ikkaku could not blame him for. They were tempted to do so themselves.

"Our deepest apologies," Ikkaku said and bowed to the first captain. "We are currently looking for Zaraki-taichou and vice-captain thought it a good idea to ask you."

"Is Zaraki missing?" Yamamoto said and looked at them with calm eyes.

"We do not know yet. We woke up with him not being in Seireitei."

"He might have just gone outside of Seireitei," the captain said over the girl's wailing. "I'm quite sure he will turn up soon."

Just as he finished the doors opened and Nemu stepped through. She bowed and had a look around. She appeared confused.

"Yes, Nemu-san?" Yamamoto asked, wondering why yet another vice-captain came without the captain.

"It appears that Mayuri-sama had left the compound, and I was wondering if you might have called for him, Yamamoto-sama," Nemu said and bowed once more. "It seems my efforts were naught as he is not in sight."

"Has Mayuri disappeared as well?" the old captain asked in disbelief. One was fine, but two? Was this a new bad habit of the captains to suddenly disappear on their vice-captains?

"He must have just gone for a walk, otherwise he would have brought his zanpaktou with him," Nemu said. "Forgive me for my intrusion; I shall take my leave."

"So shall we," Ikkaku said and motioned to Yumichika. The man nodded and they bowed to the first captain before following the woman out, Yumichika carrying a wailing Yachiru.

-

"Is there something wrong?" Nemu asked, looking at the crying girl. She was walking with them to the eleventh division.

"Zaraki-taichou was gone when we woke up, that's all," Yumichika said. "Have you had breakfast, Nemu-san?"

"No, not yet. I usually eat with Mayuri-sama but he appears not wanting to show up… again."

"Again?" Ikkaku said, raising an eyebrow.

"Mayuri-sama dislikes eating breakfast," Nemu said with a hint of a smile, "and gets a bit rebellious when I and Akon make him eat in the morning."

"Rebellious? Kurotsuchi-taichou?" the two said in disbelief.

Seeing her chance of making her father appearing a bit more human, she laughed a bit (freaking them out as she had never done that before) and continued:

"Yes, he can be quite childish at times, especially when things do not go the way he wants it."

The two men gaped at her. Yachiru was calming down, and Nemu wore the brightest smile in the whole Seireitei that morning.

-

"Vice-captain! Third seat! Fifth seat!"

The three looked up as several Shinigamis ran up to them as they entered the compound.

"What is it?" Ikkaku asked as Yachiru ignored them.

"Zaraki-taichou has just returned," one of them said. "With a guest."

"A guest?!" both Ikkaku and Yumichika shouted, as that was unheard of. Nemu looked confused at them.

-

They rushed into the dining room and Nemu wanted to burst into laughter at the faces of shock the others wore.

Kenpachi and Mayuri were currently engaged in a tug-war with an egg roll, both eager to have it. Her father was acting like he does only in the company of herself and Akon, which meant the giant had broken through faster than they had.

"Taichou?!"

Kenpachi looked up at Ikkaku's shout, and lost the egg roll to Mayuri who happily ate it up. He had not been wearing his white haori so it was no surprise no one knew who he was. He was currently dressed like a normal Shinigami and his blue hair hid his missing ears.

"What?" Kenpachi growled.

"Who's your guest?" Yumichika asked as he kicked Ikkaku in the shin before letting go of Yachiru who ran up and tried to hug the life out of her 'Ken-chan'.

"Fascinating," Mayuri muttered and the three who did not know who he was turned wide eyes towards him. While not recognizing his face, they did recognize his voice.

"What is so fascinating?" the giant asked as he pried the girl away from his neck. He was not having strangulation for breakfast.

"How utterly ridiculous it sounds when you are called Ken-chan. It breaks all that are intimidating about you," the blue-haired man said with a dazed expression. He then noticed Nemu, waved and said, "Hello Nemu. What are you standing there for? Come and sit down."

"Understood, Mayuri-sama," she said, barely holding back her laughter as she moved to sit down. Yumichika and Ikkaku were currently trying to pick their jaws up. Yachiru stared at Mayuri for a while and then said:

"You aren't wearing the clown-mask."

"Clown-mask?" Mayuri said, amused. "I was not aware I looked that ridiculous."

"That wasn't nice, Yachiru," Kenpachi said. "Although you can't find a nice nickname even if you tried."

"I can!" she said, arms crossed and glaring up at him.

"The only one decent is Ichigo, and there you only call him Ichi."

She began to protest at the same time as Mayuri began to protest what Nemu loaded up for him to eat. Yumichika and Ikkaku could not believe their eyes.

-

"Well, I most certainly had an interesting morning."

Nemu looked over at her father as they walked down the streets to their own compound, having left Kenpachi to explain what had happened.

"It seems you had," she replied. "Have you spent the whole night out?"

"No, I went out early this morning," Mayuri replied. "I do think I will turn in early tonight. Is there anything Akon needed me for?"

"No, he is just keeping the others busy."

"Good. I knew he would be able to make decisions even with the two of us gone."

After that they walked a bit in silence. Then Nemu spoke up again:

"So you and Zaraki-taichou got along with each other?"

Mayuri looked at her, grinned and replied:

"Just perfectly."

End


Not the last time you will see this! I read a fic… somewhere, don't remember where or what it really was about but Mayuri and Kenpachi was kinda friends in that one.

So since I like both of them, I decided to make them friends! Hopefully I'll make this into a series of one-shots. So await the next one, "True Face", if you like this!

Until later,

Ja,

Tiro