Chapter 1: Possible Endeavours
He has made it a tradition to sit in his chambers and sip spiced cider on Christmas Eve. It has nothing to do with the holiday and more to do with a memory, though he’s not certain whether it’s his memory or someone else’s.
Sasakibe always sits outside the door, ever the good lieutenant, never straying from his post until dismissed. Every so often, Shigekuni toys with the idea of inviting him in and telling him the story. Sasakibe would humor him, he knows, and perhaps even enjoy it.
He sips his cider and closes his eyes.
Maybe next year.
Chapter 2: Lessons in Domesticity
Soi Fon is trying to make Yoruichi a scarf. Oomaeda tries to help.
It takes her fifteen failed attempts to make a suitable scarf. This one, she thinks, actually looks like a scarf, which is better than her first attempt, which looks a bit like a mangled string.
She smiles and holds the scarf up for a closer inspection, and Oomaeda nods, careful to not drop any crumbs on Soi Fon’s head. “It looks very good.”
Soi Fon stands and carefully places the scarf in the gift bag that Oomaeda had given her at the start of their lessons. Taking the bag, she nods at her vice-captain and leaves.
Time to find Yoruichi-sama.
Chapter 3: Duty Bound
Gin is wearing slippers. Kira doesn't understand.
He’s not sure whether he should ask; after all, it wouldn’t usually bother him, but the other members of their squad are looking at Ichimaru-taichou with something akin to horror, and as vice-captain, he has a duty to keep the squad sane.
He turns and grins. “Yes, Izuru?”
He doesn’t quite know how to ask this, so he figures it’s best just to blurt it out. “What are you wearing?”
Ichimaru-taichou shakes his head. “My shihakushou, of course.”
“On your feet, taichou.”
“Fuzzy slippers, o’course.”
Kira blinks. “Of course.”
It was better to just not ask, after all.
Chapter 4: Team Building
It's team building time for the fourth division.
“Isane,” Unohana-taichou says in her soft voice and smiles. “I’d like to do a squad activity.”
Isane straightens up and grabs a piece of paper and pen off the nearby desk. “Yes, Unohana-taichou? What kind of activity?”
Unohana-taichou sips her tea and stares out the window. “We will make gingerbread houses.”
“Yes, and we will invite Vice Captain Kusajishi to judge them.”
Isane blanched. “Vice Captain Kusajishi?”
Unohana-taichou is smiling serenely. Isane wonders if someone slipped something in her tea. Maybe Iemura-sanseki.
“We’ll do it on Friday.”
“Of course, Captain.”
“Please let everyone know, Isane.”
“Of course, Captain.”
Chapter 5: Look Up, the Sky is Beautiful
Aizen and Hinamori go stargazing.
He finds her sitting on the rooftop, staring quietly into the sky.
“Good evening, Hinamori-kun,” he says, sitting down next to her.
“Oh! Good evening, Aizen-taichou!” she says, scrambling to her feet. “I’m sorry!”
Sousuke chuckles. “Whatever for?”
“You came all the way up here because of me,” Hinamori-kun explains.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Sousuke smiles. “I merely came up here because the sky is beautiful on a clear night. Isn’t that right, Hinamori-kun?” He pats the space next to him, and Hinamori-kun quickly sits down. “The stars are quite bright.”
“They are, Aizen-taichou,” she agrees. “It’s beautiful.”
Chapter 6: Misfire
Renji makes a tactical error.
It hits him right in the face as he’s walking by. He manages to close his eyes a mere second before impact.
“Oh, fucking shit,” he hears Abarai Renji curse.
Byakuya wipes the remains of the snowball from his face. He frowns.
“I didn’t mean to hit you, Kuchiki-taichou,” Abarai says quickly. “Ikkaku moved.”
He says nothing and turns around and starts walking, leaving the vice-captain staring behind him. He takes a handful of snow, makes a snowball and turns around. He throws it at a dumbfounded Abarai.
“Be on your guard,” Byakuya says. Satisfied, he continues on his way.
Chapter 7: Rudolph
Sometimes, Tetsuzaemon thinks it would be better to transfer divisions.
Sajin holds up the antlers that Kusajishi had given him earlier and puts them on. Tetsuzaemon looks at them and there is a look of horror on his face. “What’s wrong, Tetsuzaemon?”
“Uh, Captain? Why do you have reindeer antlers?”
Sajin flicks one of the prongs. “Kusajishi gave them to me.”
“Right,” Tetsuzaemon replies.
Sajin pulls out a red nose from inside his hakama and puts it on.
“What is that?” Tetsuzaemon asks, aghast.
“Kusajishi said I cannot wear the antlers without it,” he explained.
“Excuse me, Captain.” Tetsuzaemon turns around and runs off.
Sajin shrugs and presses his nose.
Chapter 8: Momentous Occasions
When you live in Kyouraku's world, every day is a special occasion.
That was it. She had just about had it with Kyouraku-taichou and his drinking. She was always stuck doing the paperwork – not that she minded; if she remembered correctly, Vice Captain Yadomaru had always done it – while he was passed out on the couch from one binge or another.
“Honestly,” she muttered. “You would think he’d be sick of sake by now.”
“Ah, but Nanao-chan,” Kyouraku-taichou’s voice whispered in her ear. “It was champagne last night.”
Nanao’s eye twitched.
“It was a special occasion, you see,” he continued.
“And what day is that?” she asked, turning around.
Kyouraku-taichou grinned. “Monday.”
Chapter 9: Unseen
Hisagi loses a bet. Tousen still knows.
Shuuhei has to admit that having a captain who can’t see is kind of useful, especially on days when he’s lost a bet to Kira and Matsumoto and has to wear the stupid Santa hat. Tousen-taichou would never have to know about this indignity.
“Hisagi,” Tousen-taichou calls, and Shuuhei flicks the cotton ball at the end of the cap over his shoulder.
Tousen-taichou lifts a camera and snaps his picture. “Vice Captain Matsumoto asked me to,” he explained. “She said you would be wearing a Santa hat.” He frowned. “May I feel?”
Shuuhei twitched. Matsumoto was so dead.
Chapter 10: Season's Greetings
Matsumoto tries to cheer up Hitsugaya. Hitsugaya does not need cheering.
Hitsugaya Toushirou was very thankful for his lot in life. He was the youngest captain of in the Gotei 13 and was commended by his colleagues for his maturity.
It was a good thing that none of them were around now.
“Matsumoto,” he yelled, pulling the tinsel out of his hair. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Matsumoto grinned at him. “Just trying to bring the holiday spirit to your dreary office, Captain.”
“I don’t want the holiday spirit here,” he replied through gritted teeth. “I want my office to stay insanity free.”
Matsumoto rolled her eyes. “You’re no fun.”
Chapter 11: Jingle Hell
Yachiru celebrates the season with song. Kenpachi is not amused.
He was ready to throw the brat off of his back any minute. “Will you fuckin’ stop it, Yachiru?”
Yachiru flicked the top bell. “But, Ken-chan! It’s so fun! And Icchi says that I have to learn this song if I want to go up to eat all the yummy candy!”
“Cut that shit out. My bells ain’t for that fuckin’ shit.”
Jingle, jingle, jingle.
“I ain’t kiddin’, Yachiru.”
“Ken-chan! One of your bells fell off!”
“That’s cause you were fuckin’ flickin’ ‘em!”
“That’s okay!” she chirped.
Ichigo was dead next time he saw him.
Those fuckin’ bells weren’t cheap.
Chapter 12: Best Laid Plans
Mayuri wants to make a bomb.
Mayuri tosses the log over his shoulder. “I thought I told you it has to be a YULE log, Nemu?” He picks up his notes and reads over them again. “Can’t you even bring me simple materials, you useless girl?”
Nemu bows. “I am very sorry, Mayuri-sama. I will return to Earth and retrieve the appropriate log.”
“Don’t bother. I’ll send Hiyosu to get it.”
“I am very sorry, Mayuri-sama.”
He tosses his notes back onto the desk and looks at the experiment site forlornly. “How do you expect me to make a Christmas bomb with a regular log? Honestly.”
Chapter 13: Baking Envy
Some days, Ukitake thinks he really needs to appoint a real lieutenant.
He is sitting up in his futon, staring at his two interim lieutenants, and sighs. Sentaro and Kiyone are standing side by side in front of him.
“Shove it, Sentaro,” Kiyone snarls, elbowing Sentaro in the gut. “Ukitake-taichou is going to eat my cake.”
Sentaro snorts. “Yeah, right.”
“Tell him, Captain!” Kiyone pleads. “You’re going to eat mine.”
“No, he ain’t, Kiyone,” Sentaro argues, elbowing her in the ribs.
Ukitake raises his hand. “I’ll eat both,” he placates them. If it will keep them quiet, he can eat half of each, then give the other halves to Hitsugaya-taichou. Ukitake smiles.
Chapter 14: Family Time
Isshin declares family time.
Ichigo walks on tiptoes toward the window, making sure to step over the creaky floorboard. He makes it to the ledge undetected, opens the window, and places one leg through the opening.
The door crashes open, and Ichigo is suddenly tossed through the air. His dad is standing in front of him, hands on hips. Karin and Yuzu are right next to him.
“It’s family time, Ichigo!” Isshin booms. “We must sit in the living room and open presents in front of your mother!”
Ichigo twitches, stands, and socks Isshin in the face. “Family together that,” he mutters, and leaves.
Chapter 15: Snow Surfing
Tatsuki and Orihime go sledding. Orihime wants to try something new.
“Let’s go again, Tatsuki-chan!” Orihime suggests, bouncing on the balls of her feet.
“Sure, Hime. Let’s go.” Tatsuki picks up the sled and starts carting it back up the hill.
“Let’s stand on the way down!”
Tatsuki sighs. “Hime, you’ll fall and break your arm.”
Orihime pouts. “I’ve been practicing!”
“Practicing snow surfing?” Tatsuki asks, amused.
“No, but Kuchiki-san says that my eye-hand coordination is better!”
“Hand-eye,” Tatsuki corrects.
“Yeah! So, can we?”
“Don’t come crying to me when you fall,” Tatsuki warns.
Orihime grins and takes off towards the top of the hill. Tatsuki shakes her head and follows.
Chapter 16: Silence of the Bells
Ryuuken has expectations. Uyruu doesn't think so.
“So,” Uryuu begins. “You expect me to sing. To the patients.”
Ryuuken takes a drag of his cigarette. “Yes.”
Uryuu shakes his head. “I refuse.”
“You will,” Ryuuken says. “The carolers are at the nurses’ station downstairs.”
Uryuu watches his father walk away and glares. He turns and heads toward the stairs, bypassing the elevator. He will not sing, so his father can just take his pompous ass and shove it.
He sees the caroling group at the desk. He makes it two steps past before he turns and picks up the sheet music and tersely tells them to follow him.
Chapter 17: presentos para los muertos
Sado buys presents for everyone he cares about, regardless of whether they are among the living.
He doesn’t have a big tree, but there is one on top of the table in his apartment. The decorations are meager and mostly handmade, and a few are falling apart. There are a few gifts underneath, wrapped in dull paper.
There is one for Ichigo, Inoue, and Ishida. They aren’t elaborate – simple gestures to show his appreciation. It is what Abuelo taught him – so long as the sentiment gets across, the cost is meaningless.
He will take his friends their gifts tomorrow, and only one will remain under his tree.
But then, you can’t give presents to the dead.
Chapter 18: Holly Jolly Christmas
The Vaizards decorate their tree.
Hiyori declares herself in charge, and if anyone doesn’t like it, they can kiss her ass. Of course, that means that Shinji rolls his eyes and picks up the tinsel and tells her to shove it, because he can decorate the tree any way he likes.
The rest of the group stay away from them, for the most part, picking ornaments and hanging lights as they see fit.
No one notices Risa’s ornament choices until they’re getting ready to take a picture to send to Urahara.
“Damnit, Risa!” Hiyori shrieks. “We told you, no naked pictures on the fucking tree!”
Chapter 19: Angels Among Us
Kisuke has a grand idea.
Ururu is shoveling the snow while Jinta sits on the porch and directs. Urahara and Yoruichi are inside – she is drinking tea while he tinkers with a gigai.
“You won’t be able to make it any more lifelike, Kisuke,” she says.
“I don’t want to make it more human,” he objects. “I want it to not feel cold when naked.”
Yoruichi sighs. “Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”
Urahara grins. “Snow angels are so difficult to make with layers.”
She rolls her eyes as Tessai comes in with more tea.
“Tessai,” Urahara says, smiling. “Get Jinta. I need him to try something.”
Chapter 20: The Melancholy Death of Ichimaru Gin
The Espada sing carols. Grimmjow doesn't know the lyrics.
Ichimaru is going to die. All ten of them are crowded into two sleighs, the poor horses struggling under their weight.
“Dead,” Grimmjow declares. “Who’s with me?”
They all raise their hands except Ulquiorra. “We must begin,” he intones.
Grimmjow, Halibel, Stark, Barragan, Nnoitra, Zommari, Szayel, Aaroniero, and Yammy groan, and Ulquiorra holds up the tape recorder. Nnoitra flips him off. Grimmjow snickers loudly.
“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too, come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you,” they sing.
“I’m going to fuckin’ kill you, Ichimaru!” Grimmjow screams, staying in tune.
Chapter 21: Plotting by Candlelight
Aizen holds a strategy session during a blackout.
There are flickering candles lighting the room as they enter. Gin looks at Tousen, who is oblivious to the lack of fluorescent light.
“Say, Aizen-taichou,” Gin begins as he takes his seat. “What’s going on?”
Aizen looks at him and smiles. “It seems that all of the wiring has been damaged.”
“Aww,” Gin jokes. “And here I thought ya were tryin’ t’set the mood or something.”
“You are very dim, Ichimaru,” Tousen says stiffly.
“Not as dim as the room,” Gin replies. Aizen smiles.
“Shall we discuss the matter at hand?” Aizen asks.
Gin and Tousen nod, and they begin.
Chapter 22: The Art of Silence
Isshin decides to visit Ryuuken.
Isshin is traipsing through the halls, dancing around the nurses and patients as he hunts down Ishida. The man is nowhere to be found, though Isshin has no intentions of giving up.
He finds him in his office. Quietly, he raises the little plant he had hidden in his haori and tiptoes toward Ishida.
An arrow whizzes passed his ear. Isshin straightens quickly, mistletoe falling to the ground.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” Ishida says, returning to his paperwork.
Isshin pouts. “You’re no fun.”
“I’m plenty of fun,” Ishida replies coldly. “Now get out of my office.”
Chapter 23: The Cutting Edge
Yumichika and Ikkaku go ice skating.
Yumichika wasn’t sure what possessed him to accompany Ikkaku to the human world, though he was sure it had something to do with Kusajishi-fukutaichou pulling on his feather the exact moment Ikkaku asked.
Whatever the reasoning, they were in their gigai, wandering around in search of what Ikkaku called a skating rink. Again, Yumichika didn’t know what one did there, but once they found it, and Ikkaku had his skates on and was gliding around, he didn’t really care.
That was, until Ikkaku thought it would be a good idea to do his lucky dance on the ice.
Chapter 24: It Pays to Have the Hat
The Gotei 13, Ichigo and company, and Urahara decide to do secret santa.
It’s a bad idea. They all know it, but Inoue is insisting, and once she has something in her head, it’s kind of hard to get it out, which is why they are all gathered at Urahara’s shop. He’s grinning at them from under his hat, and Ichigo kind of just wants to sock him in the face, because somehow Urahara knows who they all have, and Ichigo figures Urahara probably rigged it.
Inoue and Rukia are whispering to each other in the corner, and Ikkaku and Yumichika are staring in horror at their slips of paper. Chad and Ishida don’t seem fazed, but then, Chad is always cool, and Ishida only cares if something rips his precious cape.
Renji and Matsumoto are cackling together, and Ichigo thinks that maybe one of them got him, and god would that suck? Well, he thinks, maybe not. He’d probably get booze.
Which he couldn’t drink.
Because he’s underage.
Nope, he decides. It would still suck.
Ururu is trying to hand Hitsugaya his slip, but Hitsugaya is telling her that he is not playing, thanks, and Ichigo wishes it was only that simple.
“So,” Urarhara says, clapping his hands. “Good luck!”
They meet back a week later. Ichigo is pretty sure that the gift he got for his Secret Santa is satisfactory, because if it isn’t, well, then Urahara is just going to have to deal.
Everyone is sitting next to each other, gifts in hand. Ichigo joins the line, flopping down on the floor.
“So, who wants to go first?” Inoue asks excitedly.
Ichigo stands and walks over to Urahara, dropping the gift in the older guy’s lap. “Happy Holidays.”
“Oi,” Ikkaku says, standing. “What do you think you’re doing, Ichigo? I have Urahara-san.”
Yumichika stands and frowns. “No, I do.”
Everyone else chimes in, claiming that, no, they have Urahara.
“What the hell?” Ichigo says. “Are you sayin’ we all have Hat and Sandals?”
Urahara is grinning madly. “Would you look at that,” he says. “Everyone got me a present!”
Everyone glares, and Urahara starts opening his presents.