Layman here, bringing you all an extra special Christmas chapter of Cold Fuzz. Hooray! Anyways, I'll just get right to it since I pretty much took November off.
Disclaimer; Bleach is the product of Kubo Tite-sama and is owned by Shonen Jump and Viz media. (Buy their products! They make great Christmas gifts!)
Ah Christmas, such a festive time of year! A time of Black Friday sales, gluttony, greed, and spending time with annoying relatives who you (thankfully) only see once a year and have to be putting up with them pinching your face, giving you socks and underwear, and sleepless nights as your family tries to cram twenty other people into your room.
But on the flip side it's also a time where, at least for one night, people put aside their differences and enjoy each other. A time of beauty as the world gets covered in a glittering sheet of newly fallen white snow. A time of unrivaled joy as you watch a young child's face light up when they receive the one thing they've been wanting all year. And it's a time of unmatched majesty as people celebrate Jesus Christ's birth into the world as Savior.
For the KPD, it means it's time for the annual Christmas party and all the fun that comes with it.
"OK," Ichigo said, replacing his winter hat on his head, "everybody know who their Secret Santa is?"
"Yup!" chorused the female members of the KPD, waving their slips of paper as if to emphasize their point.
"Remind me again why we're doing this?" complained Yumichika.
"Because we do this every year," Renji explained. "It's been a Force tradition for as long as we've been around. Besides, we did it last year!"
"I wasn't there, remember?"
"Oh yeah, you're right," said Ikkaku, remembering the last Christmas they had.
"I wasn't there either," Rukia pointed out, "what was it like?"
"Oh, it was great," Ichigo said, "we had tons of food-"
"And booze!" Matsumoto cried.
"We didn't have any dancers last year," Tatsuki corrected.
"Sure we did," counted Kiyone. "What about your friend Chizuru? She showed up."
"Yeah," Tatsuki growled, "except she was supposed to be in a cell until after new years."
"Why was that again?" wondered Isane.
"Because I felt this town really needed a break from her. It was my Christmas gift to Karakura."
"I was actually surprised; she left with all her bones intact," Yumichika commented.
"Too bad it didn't last…" Renji sighed, remembering the night all to well.
"Why?" asked Rukia, "what happened?"
Tatsuki; "…And stay out!"
Isane; "Don't you think you were a little rude to her, Tatsuki?"
Tatsuki; "I don't know what it is about her, but something about her just really ticks me off." *Tatsuki's cell phone rings* "Hello? Oh, hi Hime-chan. …You're where? Ok, I'll come pick you up." *hangs up* "I'll be right back, guys; I have to go drive a friend of mine home."
*Tatsuki leaves and drives to the bar where Orihime said she'd be. She spots her stumbling along the sidewalk*
Inoue Orihime; *is piss-blind drunk* "Wow, I am so plastered; I think I'll take a shortcut home through this dark, sketchy looking alley. I'm sure it's perfectly safe. *hic*"
Orihime walks down the alley until she meets a shady looking woman blocking her path.
Chizuru; *dripping with innuendo* "Hey there cutie, want to have a good time?"
Orihime; "But I *hic* don't even know you. *hic*"
Chizuru; *cuddles Orihime* "Mm, that's aright, you'll know me reaaaaally well after tonight."
Tatsuki; *out of nowhere* "Arisawa Special Attack; Dragon Super Kick!" *sends Chizuru flying* "I thought you knew better than to try anything on my watch, you damn lesbian hooker!"
Chizuru; *head swirling* "Oro...thank you for your patronage please come again!"
*Tatsuki proceeds to beat the crap out of Chizuru.*
Tatsuki; "Merry f**king Christmas, hooker!"
"It's not really important right now…"
"Hey, remember what happened to Hanatarou before that?" asked Kiyone.
Ikkaku; "Here ya go man, I got you a present!"
Hanatarou; "Thanks, Madarame-kun. What is it?"
Ikkaku; *sniggers* "You'll have to open it up and see."
Hanatarou; *shakes it, then puts it up to his ear* I can hear ticking… Is it an alarm clock?"
Ikkaku; *barely keeping it together now* "Oh, it'll wake you up, alright…"
*bomb explodes. When the smoke clears, Hanatarou is covered in ash and his hair is blown back*
Hanatarou; "*cough*, God bless us, everyone…" *falls over*
"Ikkaku!" Rukia scolded. "That was just plain mean!"
"Yeah," chuckled the baldy in question, "but it was totally funny as hell! Besides, it was only a stink bomb."
"That still doesn't make it right! He could have been seriously injured or something!"
"Hey, here's an idea," Renji said, trying to derail the argument, (he was personally siding with Ikkaku on this one), "why don't we all go around and say our favorite Christmas memory?"
"Sounds like a good idea to me," Kiyone agreed, "Why don't we go first, huh Sis?"
"Sure," Isane shrugged. "I remember this one time…"
Young Isane; "Okaa-san? Do we really have to have a real Christmas tree? It'll leave needles everywhere, and it stinks, and we'll just have to throw it out in a month, and on top of that I think I'm allergic to pine."
Young Kiyone; "'kaa-san, please make Isane-chan stop complaining! I actually want to have a real tree this year!"
Mrs. Kotetsu; "Isane-chan, don't worry; I'm sure having a real Christmas tree isn't as bad as all that."
Young Isane; "But what if it falls!"
Mrs. Kotetsu; "Don't worry, Isane-chan, nobody is going to get hurt because of a tree falling on them."
Mr. Kotetsu; *calls from car* "Hey everyone, I brought the tree!" *he begins to take it off the car when it slips and it falls on top of him*
*Isane throws up*
"That was a horrible Christmas!" Kiyone shouted. "'tou-san was in a cast for two months because of that!"
"But it was the first time I proved that I was right," said Isane, a serene smile gracing her lips, "I remember you all listened to me a lot more after that…"
"Well, Bah Humbug to you too!" Kiyone huffed and crossed her arms, turning her back to her sister, "I didn't even get the Nintendo 64 I asked for, either…"
"I have a happy Christmas memory!" Matsumoto piped in, bouncing in her seat and waving her hand like an eager fourth-grader.
Aizen Sosuke; "Rangiku, I'm giving you the night off tonight because you made more then your quota this month already." *tossed a bottle of saké at her feet* "Merry Christmas."
*After Aizen leaves, Matsumoto opens the bottle and drinks deeply, letting the alcohol wash away all the agony of her life*
Somewhere amidst the Christmas decorations, Yumichika's cricket chirped.
"…What?" Matsumoto asked.
"That was your happiest Christmas memory?" Rukia wondered.
"Yeah, and it's also the reason I took up Professional Boozing."
"So the police thing is just a side job?"
"Ahh," sighed Matsumoto after taking a swig from the bottle she was holding, "yep, pretty much."
"You think that's bad," Ichigo scoffed, "wait'll you hear what my family did one year…"
Kurosaki Isshin; "Aw, come on, son!
Ichigo; "Dad, for the last frigging time, NO!"
Kurosaki Yuzu; "Pleeeeease, Ichigo! It's just no fun without you!"
Kurosaki Karin; "Don't bother; he'll just hog all the fun to himself, anyway. It's better if he doesn't join in."
Yuzu; "How can you say that, Karin? And after the promise we all made Mom…"
Ichigo; "ARGH! All right, I'll do it too! You happy?"
Isshin; *pats Ichigo on the back hard* "That's the spirit, son! I knew you wouldn't let us down!"
*The Kurosaki family proceeds to go outside and have a grand old time in the first fallen snow of the year making Snowmen, snow angels, sledding, and having snowball fights*
"OK," Renji said, "I'm confused; how exactly is that worse than Matsumoto's Christmas again?"
"Because they guilt tripped me into doing it! There totally would have been other snows."
"Did you have fun?" Rukia asked.
"That's beside the point," Ichigo retorted defensively.
"I don't see how; if you had fun then it wasn't all that bad." Ichigo just "humph"ed and sat down messily, pouting.
"So how about you, Yumi-chan?" Kiyone asked. "Any happy Christmas memories?"
"Are you kidding?" he gasped incredulously. "Holidays are basically just an excuse for the layperson to indulge in wanton gluttony; why would I have any happy memories about that?"
"*hic!*" Matsumoto eloquently pointed out.
Quincy's exercise wheel squeaked.
"You people are too depressing," Renji said, finally reaching his limit, "I'm not gonna let you guys ruin this holiday with all your melancholy." He cleared his throat, "Now, when I was ten…"
Young Renji; "Mom, Dad, wake up! It's Christmas morning!"
Mr. Abarai; *groggy* "Thanks for reminding us, son. Now go put your clothes on so we can open presents."
Young Renji; "Aye aye, Captain!" *runs of to get dressed*
Mr. Abarai; "Honey, remind me why we celebrate Christmas again?"
Mrs. Abarai; *resolutely* "So that we could see the joy on Renji's face when he opens his presents." *gets out of bed* "Now hurry up and put your clothes on so we can watch our son open presents."
*fifteen minutes pass, and everyone is dressed. After a hastily eaten breakfast, Renji dashes into the den and tears open his gifts*
Young Renji; "Oh wow! A tattoo kit!"
Mr. Abarai; *looks over at his wife* "I thought we weren't getting that for him?"
Mrs. Abarai; "Oh don't worry about it dear, we might as well let him get it out of his system now."
"…And when I got older, I filled it out with the real thing."
"You know," wondered Isane, "I always wanted to know why you got those horrid things on your eyebrows."
"You're just jealous!" Renji sneered before turning to Rukia. "So how about you, Rukia? Any happy Christmas memories?"
"Well," she said, "there was this one time…"
Kuchiki Byakuya; "Merry Christmas Rukia." *hands Rukia a present*
Young Rukia; *gasps* "Thank you, Nii-sama!" *rips open present* "An art set! It's just what I wanted!"
Byakuya; "I'm glad you like it. It was the last one in stock as well."
Young Rukia; "Oh, Nii-sama!" *glomps him, then grabs another present. She opens it, then looks confused* "Mayonnaise?"
"You sure like mayonnaise a lot," Kiyone pointed out.
"Your brother seems like a nice guy," Ichigo said, "if only slightly strange…"
"Yeah," agreed Rukia, "he was always looking out for me. Our parents both had jobs, so they weren't home a lot of the time. He always made sure I ate right, he always took me to school, and he always made sure I kept up with my self defense classes."
"You took self defense?" Tatsuki marveled. "Are you any good?"
"They I say we put it to the test!" she announced. "Hey, Pachinko Ball!" she called, "Get over here!"
"I'm not coming!" Ikkaku hollered. "You called me Pachinko Ball!"
"Just get over here anyways; You could help me win a bet!" Tatsuki cajoled.
This perked Pachin- I mean Ikkaku's interest.
"What's the bet?" he asked, finally coming over.
"To see if Rukia can take a punch like a man," Tatsuki lied, winking conspiratorially at Rukia out of the corner of her eye.
"What does the winner get?" Baldy wondered.
"Twenty bucks," Tatsuki said simply.
"That works for me," Ikkaku said as he would up a mighty punch.
Unfortunately, it never hit its mark as Rukia grabbed his arm and, in a series of complex twists, sent Ikkaku sprawling on the ground, whimpering for his mommy.
"Wow Rukia, you really are good!" the Mohamed Ali of the KPD whistled.
"My spleen!" Ikkaku choked out.
After playing a few more tricks on the gullible members of the Force, (i.e. getting Rukia and Ichigo together under a mistletoe, popping a paper bag behind Tatsuki and running like hell, and just generally messing with Matsumoto in her inebriated state), the intrepid police officers decided to turn in so they'd be well rested for Christmas morning tomorrow.
I know! They were actually being responsible!
Then again, they are getting presents out of the deal…
Anyways, the next morning…
"WAKE UP YOU LAZY BUMS! DON'T YOU INGRATES KNOW THE MEANING OF THE WORD 'ON DUTY'? COME ON, GET YOUR LAZY ASSES OUT OF BED AND GET TO WORK; THE STREETS AREN'T GOING TO KEEP THEMSELVES SAFE HERE!"
"When did we get a drill sergeant installed?" Tatsuki wondered as she shuffled into the station rec room.
"We didn't," Renji said, rubbing sleep from his eyes, "it's this alarm clock I picked up the other day since the other one broke. They say it's absolutely foolproof."
"You just had to pick the most undignified method for waking us up, didn't you?" Yumichika griped.
"Are you bakka just going to stand there arguing all day or are we going to start Christmas?" Kiyone asked, walking out in a pair of pink footie pajamas and holding a little stuffed lion.
"Did the Easter Bunny come yet?" Matsumoto asked, staggering into the rec room holding her head.
"I think you're confusing holidays there, Rangiku," said Ichigo as he entered the communal recreation area of the station after her.
"Can we open presents now?" Kiyone bounced up and down excitedly. "I want to see what I got this year!"
"Shouldn't we wait for the others?" Ichigo wondered. However, not seconds after he said that, he heard the sound of a toilet flushing, followed soon after by Ikkaku's proud entry.
Only here's the thing; he was wearing Long Johns.
As in legit, old-fashioned, pink Long Johns. (They even had the butt flap in the back and everything!)
"What?" he asked as his cohorts just stared at him.
"Where did you find those things?" Tatsuki asked, flabbergasted. "1937?"
"I thought I knew you…," Yumichika sighed, facepalming.
"Let's just open presents!" Ikkaku shouted, his face reddening beyond belief.
"We can't yet," Renji explained, "we're still waiting on Rukia and Isane."
It turns out that they didn't have to wait long, because a few minutes later Rukia and Isane came into the room class in their nightgowns. (Hey, at least it's better than what Chrome Dome was wearing.) After they snickered at Ikkaku they each found a seat near the tree.
Now the Annual Karakura Police Department Secret Santa Gift Exchange could finally begin.
"Here you go," said Renji as he handed Isane a gift bag. Isane flung the tissue paper away and held the gift up for all to see.
"Paper lunch bags?" Rukia wondered.
"For when I start hyperventilating," the medic explained. "Thank you Renji!"
"No problem," he shrugged, "now you go."
"OK." Isane grabbed a box from under the tree and handed it to Yumichika, "Here."
Yumichika methodically disassembled the wrapping and opened the lid of the box.
"A mirror for me," he said, taking a hand mirror out and placing it on a table, "and one for my cricket. This is the most beautiful gift I could have gotten! Thank you Isane!"
"It was nothing, really," she blushed.
"Anyways, my turn now." He reached behind a pillow on the couch and pulled out a wine bottle with a red bow on it. "Merry Christmas, Rangiku. It's the good stuff"
For a moment, Matsumoto just sated at the gift, her eyes welling up with tears. Then, she leapt forward and embraces Yumichika for all he was worth.
"This is best thing I've ever gotten since I worked for Aizen!" she sobbed. "Thank you sooo much!"
"Can't…breath!" Yumichika gasped, turning a little blue.
"Eeep!" she- I mean, Matsumoto squealed, releasing the poor guy form her vice like grip.
"Have you ever considered breast reduction surgery?" Yumichika panted.
"Harm my girls?" Rangiku gasped, crossing her arms over her chest protectively, "Never!"
"Why don't you just give your gift instead?" Renji sweatdropped.
"OK, sure!" Matsumoto reached between her ridiculously large cleavage and pulled out a bottle identical to the one Yumichika just gave her. "Here you go, Baldy-kun!~"
"Hey, no fair!" Yumichika shouted. "No copying gift ideas!"
"Isn't this more of a gift that you'd like?" Ikkaku asked Matsumoto.
"Good point," she said, uncorking the bottle and taking a swig.
"Anyways," he said, ignoring his alcoholic compatriot for the moment, "where did I put Arisawa's gift…Oh that's right!" He grabbed the top of his head and began to unscrew it, then reached inside and pulled out a package about the size of a small paperback book.
"How the hell is that even possible?" wondered Tatsuki, her mouth hanging so low it was almost touching the floor.
"I'll tell you some other time. For now, just open your present." Feeling the conundrum of Ikkaku's head to be too big a problem to tackle at the moment, she instead tore into her gift.
"Sweet! Brass knuckles!" She gave Ikkaku a friendly punch on the shoulder, "You know me too well."
"Glad you like it," he beamed.
"I'll be right back," she said, hurrying out of the room a coming back a few seconds later. "Merry Christmas Kiyone!" She held out a heavy looking box. Kiyone tore at the wrapping paper with wild abandon.
"A new Kevlar vest! Thanks a bunch Tatsuki!" She embraced her friend on a joyful hug.
"Not at all…" Tatsuki said, a little uneasy. (Psst! She's not really a very 'huggy' person.)
"Anyways, here's Strawberry's present." Kiyone reached under the tree and pulled out a small gift bag. "From what you told me about your family, I think you'll really get use out if this." This piqued Ichigo's curiosity, and fished around the bag before holding up his prize.
It was a bottle of aspirin.
"You're right Kiyone, this'll be perfect for when my relatives all come in next week," Ichigo said, "Thanks."
"No problem!" the towheaded cop beamed.
"Is your family really that bad?" Rukia wondered.
"You haven't seen them drunk," he said simply. "But that's not important right now; it's my turn to give the gift, right?" Reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out an elongated jewelry case. He handed it to Rukia, who opened it apprehensively.
"Oh my god," she breathed softly. Inside the case was a beautiful necklace; it had a hollowed out, heart shaped pendant made of 24kt gold that had little amethysts around it. "Ichigo, this is…this is beautiful!"
"I thought you'd like it," he said as he took the necklace out of the case and slipped it around her neck. "Merry Christmas, Short stuff."
"Awwwe!" everyone else cooed. Needless to say, Rukia and Ichigo both lit up like Rudolf's nose on nuclear batteries.
"Why don't you just give your gift so everyone will stop staring at us?" Ichigo whispered.
"Sounds good to me," Rukia agreed in the same hushed tones. She shuffled hurriedly over to the stocking everyone had hung the night before and pulled a rather soft looking package out of one. "Merry Christmas Renji!"
Renji raised an eyebrow, but accepted the gift nonetheless. He tore the paper off methodically, and froze.
In his hands was a genuine, eight inch long, officially licensed, white plush furred-
"I knew you like Chappy, so when I saw this one on sale, I just knew it would be perfect!" she said cheerily.
"Renji likes Chappy?" Ikkaku guffawed. "Ha ha ha! So that's what that thing was doing in your desk! OH, this is priceless!"
"I didn't know you were that kind of guy!" Tatsuki said, trying to hold in guffaws of her own.
"I like Chappy too!" chimed Matsumoto.
"How the hell did you even know that?" Renji shouted at Rukia, clearly flabbergasted.
"Well, it was back at our Halloween party, and I had that dream-"
"I'm ruined…" Renji slunk to the floor. "My secret is out; I'll never be able to show my face in public again…"
"As much as we'd like to," Yumichika said, "you have nothing to worry about, Rudolf Head; you're secret's safe with us."
"Really?" Renji said incredulously.
"Yeah," Ichigo said, "we've all got stuff we'd rather the general public don't know about."
"You mean like the fact that you're related to celebrities?" Kiyone pointed out.
"Yeah…" Ichigo grit his teeth. "Anyways, what I'm trying to say is, we're all in this together. No-one outside this room will know about your shameful attraction to a children's media icon."
"I say this calls for a toast!" Matsumoto announced.
And seriously, did anyone else not see this coming?
"Why not? It's Christmas!" Kiyone cheered, grabbing a bunch of paper cups from out of the kitchen and passing them around, then filling them from the bottle Matsumoto opened earlier.
"To secrets kept secret!" they all said, raising their cups high.
"And Merry Christmas!" Rukia said before they all down their cups.
"And God bless us, everyone!" a new voice said, causing everyone to do the mother of all spit takes.
There, standing in the doorway bundled up to the nth degree, was none other than Yamada Hanatarou!
"Hey, Droopy's back!" Matsumoto cried, wiping some spit from her chin.
"Not really," 'Droopy' said, his voice shaking a little, "I really just came to say 'hi'. You know, it being Christmas and all…"
"It's good to finally meet you in person, Hanatarou," Rukia said cheerily, shaking the young man's hand.
"We haven't seen you since that fateful day when you got run over by the hive entity," Tatsuki said.
"What happened?" Rukia asked. She still hadn't gotten the full story about that.
*Hanatarou is in a hospital bed with numerous machines beeping around him*
Hanatarou; "I think maybe this job might be bad for my health, I'm going to resign!"
"That's all?" For some reason, Rukia was expecting more.
"That's all," Hanatarou said. "I had a lot of fun here with these guys, but I was just getting hurt way too much on the job." He thought for a moment, "And off the job…"
"Too bad," Ikkaku sighed, "it hasn't been the same around here since you left." He gave Hanatarou a mighty pat on the back, which sent the small man hurtling right into the Christmas tree, felling it on top of him.
Isane threw up.
Did you honestly think that a story like this would end on a tender moment? Pfft, f**k no! Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Anyways, this story takes place between chapters 23 and 24 of Cold Fuzz proper, so some of the things in the Arctic Thunder will probably make more sense if you read that before this. If not, don't worry, nothing gets spoiled, so you'll be in for quite a surprise when you get to reading it.
And lastly, Happy Chrismahanakwanzaka!