A/N: I know there's still a few weeks to go, but I couldn't resist this once the idea came to me. Enjoy!
'Twas many decades ago, a hundred years or so to be more exact, where in the Spirit World lies Seireitei long before the fate of a young teenage, human boy was altered forever, where this story begins. Before the betrayal of captains, and the many battles resulting in the rescue of Seireitei, before the war with Sosuke Aizen and his army of hollows, and it all starts with the Shinigami Woman's Association...
"Ne, let's celebrate something different this year!" fukutaicho Yachiru Kusajishi pipes up.
"Such as what, Chairwoman?" Nanao Ise, the second in command questions.
The deceptively harmless child puckers her rosy lips, a delicate finger pressed thoughtfully against her cheek. "Hmm..."
"A-ano..." the group turn to look at a young woman with her black hair in a bun covered with a light blue cloth. Her brown eyes are bright, sharply contrasting the dark rings under them from lack of sleep... among other issues.
"I- I was thinking it would be nice to celebrate a very popular holiday from America. Even Japan celebrates it, and its really fun-"
"Yosh, let's do it!" Yachiru interrupts.
"Wait, what holiday is this, Hinamori-fukutaicho?" Nanao doesn't need a repeat of the last holiday they'd botched...
"Its called Christmas."
"Christmas? Ooh, isn't that where you give people presents?" Yachiru's eyes glow with childish enthusiasm.
"More or less."
"Yosh, I want sake!" Rangiku pipes up.
"Candy and a pony for me!"
"Hmm, I could use a new pair of glasses..."
"Ne, what else do you get to do on Christmas?"
"Uh, w-well, let's see... you hang up special socks called stockings over fire places for little gifts like candy, and you have to decorate a tree to put the gifts under... oh and then there's Santa Clause!"
"Santa Clause?" Yachiru snaps out of her daze as Nanao exasperatedly wipes up her drool.
"Yeah. I don't really know much about him but he's really fat, but in a friendly way and he wears red- Nemu-san, could you elaborate please? You know more about these things."
"Hai." A dry-eraser board with several diagrams and side notes appear out of thin air. "Christmas: the annual festival of the Christian church commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ; celebrated on December 25 and now generally observed as a legal holiday and occasion for exchanging gifts. Santa Claus, also known as Chris Kringle, Saint Nick, and Father Christmas, among other things, is a legendary patron saint of children who brings presents to children on Christmas Eve as they sleep. It is custom to leave him a plate of cookies and glass of milk as thanks. Location: North Pole. Other customs of Christmas include..."
And so the excited women, girls and child suck in the information and preparations are put in place.
"Oi, Kyoraku, have you heard about the SWA's latest project?" Captain Ukitake questions his oldest friend and fellow captain, Kyoraku Shunsui.
"Yeah. Something about an American holiday... Let me guess, you wanna be this Santa Claus?"
"Of course! Then Hitsugaya-kun will have no choice but to accept my candy!" The man's conviction in trying to treat their youngest colleague as the child he still is never ceases to amuse him.
"It would suit you. Your hair's even the right color," he pokes at him good-naturedly.
"Haha, although my attempts to grow a beard have been rather unsatisfactory..."
"Well, you could have Kurotsuchi whip you up some kinda hair growth potion."
"Kurotsuchi? He tends to add little surprises to his creations..."
"Well, its either that or you'll just be one of those cheap, knock-off Santas that stand in front of stores collecting charity money. Just imagine how sad all those children would be that Unohana's bringing in to give gifts if one of them happened to tear off that fake beard..." Ukitake stops dead, his face shadowed.
"... You're a sick man when you are drunk."
"Hic, I know!"
"You want me to what?" Ukitake struggles to keep a smile in the face of the scientist's disdain. "The last thing I need to be doing is making you such a useless concoction when my time is much more well spent on my research. I am not some dog at your beck and call for the mundane, that's the fourth division's job! If you are done insulting me, I suggest you leave!"
"Oi, oi, be reasonable, surely a man of your skill would take only a moment to do such a little thing-"
"You have my answer. Why you waste your time over such a pointless endeavor for this Christmas," his lip curls as if the word itself were a sin, " is beyond even one such as I."
With that the man spun back around to the large, organ-like supercomputer, fingers typing so fast they're a blur.
Taking the hint, the duo leave.
"Well, that was certainly a waste of time," Ukitake sighs dejectedly.
"I wouldn't be too sure of that..."
"The right gift can get you wonders in return."
"And I am to assume you learned such a wise lesson from past experience?"
"How else do you think I got Nanao-chan to go on a date with me thirty years ago?"
Meanwhile, the pale captain of the twelfth division, Kurotsuchi Mayuri, sits munching on a rare brand of world-famous German chocolates while his fukutaicho, Kurotsuchi Nemu, mixes the hair formula her creator has written down, her alabaster skin contrasting sharply with her braid of ebony hair, green eyes focused on the task.
"Its still pointless..." he grumbles to himself half-heartedly.
"But Ken-chan -"
Lower-ranked shinigami pass out at the spiritual pressure leaking from the six-foot-seven-inch tall Zaraki Kenpachi, captain of the eleventh division arguing with his fukutaicho, Yachiru Kusajishi. His slate gray eyes glare at nothing in front of him as the persistent girl hangs onto his shoulder, tugging on the back of his hair since he didn't like it when she messed with his spikes.
"I'm not gonna be a goddamn, pussy, gay-ass friggin' elf! Or a reindeer!" He adds as she opens her mouth.
"But Snow Brain won't do it and we need more boys to pair with the girls," she whines, her new nickname for Hitsugaya-taichou bringing a quick smirk to his harsh features.
"How many do you need?"
"Elves, how many?"
"Fine, tell Ikkaku and Yumichika they have to help ya', captain's orders."
"I would've already but I don't know where they are!"
"Eh? I thought they were back from the Real World already- oof!"
In a blur of bright pink, the girl vaults from his shoulders, shunpoing for the nearest senkai-gate.
With a shake of his head, the warrior heads off to Rukongai to find a good fight and drink some sake.
Weeks pass, and signs of the upcoming holiday are everywhere. Even Yamamoto Genryuusei, the ancient Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, was supportive of the event, seeing it as an opportunity for the squads to work together and become more united in whole. He even made it mandatory, after much begging on Ukitake and Shunsui's part, and with Unohana's persuasive abilities, for every shinigami in Seretei to participate in a form of gift-giving known as 'Secret Santa'.
The SWA themselves drew the names of whom would gift who and then sent a hell-butterfly to that specific individual, along with the simple rule that the gift must be something the receiver would enjoy.
And so, Kurotsuchi Mayuri and Kenpachi Zaraki are informed of whom they would have to gift this year.
"Of all the bloody neanderthals, I not only have to waste my time and materials on an eleventh division idiot, but the barbaric Captain of all people?"
Their protests fall on deaf ears.
Finally, December 25th arrives...
Seireitei awakens to the screeching of Yachiru Kusajishi.
"WAKEUPWAKEUPWAKEUPWAKEUP ITS CHRISTMAS!"
The sun was barely even rising...
As the celebration and parties break out and exclamations of wonder and thanks are given, the fourth division are over-run by the 160 families personally selected from each section of Rukongai. Each family is given a set of clothes and food rations to aid them in the harsh winter while the girls and boys line up. Running hither and thither are figures dressed in green or red with stockings on their legs and bells on their pointy hats and shoes, trying to keep order among the chaos.
"Who the hell are you calling bald?" a bald man yells at a boy around twelve years old who had stolen his hat. He sticks his tongue out at Madarame Ikkaku, third seat of the eleventh division, the red marks around his eyes complementing the red of his outfit. Restraining the enraged male is a slim and mistakenly fragile man with feathers around his eyes, his face much too pretty for a man's.
"How unbeautiful, Ikkaku." Yumichika Ayasegawa sighs.
"Is there a problem here, Madarame-san and Ayasegawa-kun?" a woman's voice interrups. The duo freeze at the calm aura of darkness surrounding the lovely woman, Retsu Unohana, captain of the fourth division. Her deceptively serene smile is in place, hands tucked into the sleeves of a green kimono decorated with red and white angels, black hair braided in front of her as always.
"U-Unohana-taichou! Nothing's wrong at all!" Ikkaku grabs the troublesome boy in a headlock thinly disguised as a hug when he tries to sneak away.
"This kid 'ere was just givin' me my hat back after I let him try it on!" the trio plaster on strained smiles.
"Sokka," they all breathe a sigh of relief when the aura disappears, "well, carry on then."
Farther up the line of children two 'elves', holding a child each, argue which one of them gets to take their charge to 'Santa's ' lap.
"Your kid was done last time!" Kiyone Kotetsu, a petite woman with dark blond hair and gray eyes brandishes the poor boy in her hands as she growls at her fellow third seat of the thirteenth division.
"So what? Taichou prefers girls over boys!" Sentaro Kotsubaki snaps back, also shaking the said girl, his dark hair covered by an overly large elf hat and his goatee dyed white to match the holiday.
"Hohoho, now now, you two, just bring them both to me!" booms out Ukitake in his best friendly yet captainly voice. He sits on a throne-like oaken chair with scarlet cushions and lined with red and white garlands. Behind him a large Evergreen shines with its many candles, their light reflecting in rainbows off different colored bulbs of blue and red and gold, atop which sat a golden star. Surrounding it are a mountain of presents.
"Hai, sir!" the duo rush forward, trying to either trip or steal the other's child. With an unceremonious "Oof!", the pair trip and Ukitake just barely manages to catch the poor children before his third seats smother them.
The boy and girl, twins to be exact, stare up at the pudgy, jolly old man with a bright white and curly beard, his cheeks rosy and a large, sincere smile upon his face, setting them at ease.
"Now, what would you two like for Christmas-"
Screams can be heard as a whirlwind blasts up the line of children before a pink something slams into 'Santa's ' lap, knocking the wind out of the sickly captain.
With a flourish, Yachiru whips out a rolled piece of paper which unrolls to reveal itself to be several feet long. She clears her throat.
"Mm, mm, Dear Santa, I want..."
Meanwhile, Ukitake struggles not to vomit blood.
The day goes on and the sun is low in the sky when Unohana-taichou knocks on Zaraki-taichou's office door.
"Its open!" he hollers out, not bothering to open his eyes as the woman steps in the room.
"Merry Christmas, Zaraki-taichou."
"Have you given Kurotsuchi-taichou his present yet?"
"Eh?" his eyes snap open to see her holding out a parcel wrapped in blue and gold paper, a violet bow on top. "What's it to you?"
"Well, I happened to know that Kurotsuchi-taichou is sensitive to the cold and I believe he would appreciate this, but I'm not his Secret Santa. Unless you have already given him something?" she cocks her head to the side innocently.
"...What is it?"
"A surprise. I'd have put your name on the card but I didn't think you'd have added one."
"I'm not getting him anything, but yer right."
"Do I need to spell out the simple fact that I am providing an out to you invoking Yamamoto-senchou's and your fukutaichou's wrath?"
The man snarls but snatches the gift from the woman. He stops in the doorway.
"For what, Zaraki-san?" she walks past him to Yachiru's room. "I'll be leaving a present in Yachiru-chan's room if you don't mind-" She turns around but the man's already gone.
"Mayuri-sama, shall I deliver Zaraki-san his present now?"
"Tch, fine, go on already." A pale hand waves her at her as he finishes drying off and injecting himself with a special serum, making his skin secrete a thin, protective layer of white to shield himself from the chemicals he is exposed to on a daily basis. Stepping out of the large, luxurious bathroom, he snatches the black bathrobe off of Nemu's waiting arm and puts on a black mask he'd recently exchanged for the simple one that had only gone over his eyes.
As she disappears out the door he runs a hand through his still-damp hair before shivering when a draft from and open window blows on his neck.
"Damn weather." he slams the window shut and leaves the extravagant bedroom, slipping on a pair of slippers before arriving in his personal library. Hundreds of books obtained from the real world line the shelves along with copies of those in Seireitei's library. Grabbing a stray book, he beelines straight for the arm chair in front of an extremely large fireplace crackling merrily. He settles into it and sighs, grateful for the almost overbearing warmth. Even without the paint he would still have felt cold.
He looks up for a moment and spots the stockings hung up, one for him, Nemu, Akon, and the rest of the scientist staff. At least the girl had only hung up the names worth mentioning-
A heavy spiritual pressure suddenly slams into him and he instinctively raises his own to avoid being crushed by it. Stomping passes by his door before all is quiet again. Kurotsuchi raises out of his chair, seething.
"How dare that barbarian intrude in my division, and in the area of my own private quarters too!"
"Mayuri-sama?" Nemu arrives through a side door at the other end of the library, the small box wrapped in gold and red with a green bow on top still in her hands.
"What in the blue hell is he doing here?" he yells at her.
"My apologies Mayuri-sama, but Zaraki-san refused to allow me to deliver your present to you-"
"Oi, Kurotsuchi!" the door is thrown open so quickly that the fire goes out, blasting Mayuri with another blasted draft of cold air.
"What do you think you are doing? Close the damn door before all the heat escapes!" he fights the urge to shiver in front of the man.
Zaraki stays put and whips out a square box. "Here, take the damn thing so the old man will have nothing to bitch about."
"As if I'd accept anything from you. This whole... holiday is a waste of time."
"Quit yer bitching and take it already-"
"Sir, we have a problem with one of the experiments in lab seven!" a low-ranking shinigami bursts into the room from where Nemu had entered, again blasting the captain with another draft of cold air.
"CLOSE THE DOOR!" he screeches, hunching over and hugging his arms close to his body.
"Nemu! Go take care of these buffoons' idiocy!"
"Hai, Mayuri-sama." She quickly heads for the door, then hesitates and turns around to hand him the present, disappearing before he can order her to give it to the barbarian instead. He looks down at the gift in his hand before glancing at Zaraki, who was staring at him. An awkward silence ensues before Kurotsuchi marches up to his colleague.
"Here. Leave." he shoves it into the other's chest and turns around.
"What?" in response, Zaraki shoves a gift into his own hands. "... Might as well get this over with."
Zaraki just grunts before ripping the paper off, Kurotsuchi hissing in annoyance as the scraps of paper are carelessly thrown onto the floor along with the lid as he whips out a scalpel and begins cutting open the paper.
"The hell is this thing?" in his hand appears to be an ordinary, black eye patch. However, on the inside was the mouth of some creature.
"Its a limiter."
Mayuri sighs exasperatedly. "Its. A. Lim-i-ter," he enunciates slowly as if talking to a small child, " it devours your excess spirit energy and weakens you so the shinigami near you won't be overwhelmed immediately any longer, and serves as a double handicap as you will have to cover one of your eyes in the process. I was going through some old paperwork and happened to stumble across your request for one."
Zaraki stares at it for another moment before closing his eye and putting it on. Immediately the his overwhelming aura is notably smaller. He also notices in the close vicinity of how Kurotsuchi's own reishi was raised in order to combat his own before the scientist lowered it. Despite the difference in physical power he was almost tempted to fight him right here and now.
A moment of silence ensues save for the small rustling as Mayuri removes the wrapping paper, placing it on a small side table near the doorway and removing the lid. Kenpachi leans closer to get a look at what Unohana had given him. Nestled in the box was a type of purple-violet scarf, so well-made it appeared it must be store-bought. Kurotsuchi takes it out of the box and after studying his gift a moment he places it around his neck, seeming to be made for it. He immediately felt much warmer than before. However he looks up with a strange expression on his face.
"Who gave this to you?"
"What?" the question catching him off guard.
"Don't pretend, I'm not blind. This was obviously hand-made and the stitching is too well done to be made by any average seamstress within a hundred miles of here."
"That any way to fucking thank me?"
"Its a simply question as I would like to purchase more of such items from the maker. Not to mention, there's no way you could have done it."
"What's that supposed ta mean?" their voices start to rise.
"It means, you illiterate buffoon, that there's no way in one thousand years you could knit so much as a sock, let alone spin a thread!"
"Well, who says I fucking can't? You can't prove I didn't do that with my own two hands!"
Instead of a response, that look is on his face again, only directed at Zaraki's hands that had been thrust into the scientist's face for the warrior to emphasize his point. His eyes twitches as his expression clears.
"You are so full of it, you're not even funny."
"I can damn well sew-" he stops as Mayuri's mouth twitches along with his eye, "Oi, it ain't funny."
"I have no clue what you are talking about Zaraki."
"Ya didn't even insult me, you're definitely laughing, dammit!"
"I – am not."
"Its obvious yer struggling not to! My hands are good for more than swinging a sword dammit, I just don't have ta! It ain't that hard to imagine!"
"Oh yes, I can defin- definitely picture you holding two needles and just knitting a dress for your fukutaicho- pfft."
He stops himself but Zaraki hears it nonetheless and thrusts his face precariously close to the other's.
"Keeen-chaaaan!" Yachiru Kusajishi slams into the back of her captain's head.
"Ne, ne, Ken-chan, Uki Claus gave me lotsa stuff for Christmas, and Re-re left a present in my room that had a teddy bear in it and- ne Ken-chan what are you doing to Mayurin?" she stops, looking over his shoulder.
The two men are frozen in shock, lips smashed against the other. The small girl looks up ponderingly and points.
"Oh! Its because of the mistletoe, right?" A small, green plant with white berries and a bright red bow hangs in the doorway overhead.
Mayuri is the first to break the kiss and Zaraki rears back in disgusted mortification. The scientist's face is surprisingly empty save for the violent twitching of his hands and eye. Out of nowhere his zanpakatou appears in his hand, and his crazed eyes meet the still shocked Gotei 11 Captain.
"BANKAI!" his scream echoes throughout the Seireitei.
And so at last, our story is at an end. Although one might find it interesting to note that to this day, the two still have their gifts with them in perfect condition...