Characters: Kenpachi, Yachiru
Word Count:: 857
Summary: Yachiru practises her art skills, and Kenpachi is reminded of his past with the first Yachiru.
A/N: For my dad: Happy birthday!
From across the fire Kenpachi watched as the child bent over in concentration, so low that her forehead was touching the ground. He had long stopped wondering just what the hell had managed to catch her interest and hold it for the better part of an hour – or maybe even more. He had asked her once what she was doing, but she simply ignored him.
Or maybe she just didn’t understand him.
Either way, he didn’t give a rat’s ass. She could do anything she wanted so long as she didn’t annoy him.
Kenpachi lay down on his side, back facing her and the fire. He closed his eyes to try and catch some sleep, but knowing how dangerous the wilderness was had him on alert, now more than ever since he had taken Yachiru under his wing. He crooked his elbow, used his forearm as a pillow against the hard ground, but still the little sounds of childish amusement kept him awake.
“Oi, runt,” he snapped, turning his head slightly to look at her over his shoulder. She stopped what she was doing and faced him, eyes wide in a questioning stare. “Come over here, it’s time for bed.”
She blinked, once, twice, and returned to her own business. Kenpachi gritted his teeth in irritation and scoffed, squeezing his eyes shut.
If she wanted to die then he’ll just let her have her own goddamned way.
Don’t blame me if ye get cut up while I’m sleepin’ my freezin’ ass off.
No sooner had he thought that, a familiar squeal gave him a start, and Yachiru hurtled herself into his back. She crawled across his body, coming to rest on his chest when he rolled around.
“The fuck d’ye want now, brat?” he growled, pushing her face away when she leaned down.
“Ken-chan, Ken-chan!” she kept on chanting, tugging his hair like reins. “Ken-chan, Ken-chan, Ken-chan!”
“Shit gods,” he snarled, forcing himself to sit up. “What d’ye want?”
Yachiru continued to lead him – by means of pulling his hair – around the fire to where she had recently been, sat down and pointed frantically at the soil. Kenpachi had to bend almost as low as her just to read the faint dirt scrawls. She had written “Yachiru”, though he had to add a few strokes to the last kanji character before it appeared presentable.
“Ye’re improvin’,” he admitted, hiding the faint sense of nostalgia that name induced. He still remembered carving it out when he gave it to the child. She had been practising it ever since, and though sometimes he just wanted to turn away to avoid seeing her sacrilegious writing, he would force himself to look, correct it and tell her to write once more till she got it right.
He didn’t have to this time though, and all he did was sit in silence and watch as she did her correction. It took a short while before she was done, but Kenpachi had to admit that she indeed was improving.
“Nice work, Yachiru,” he said absently, forcing his eyes not to linger on the name. “Time for bed.”
“Ken-chan!” she whined and pulled his hair hard. With a sigh, he turned back to her, followed her finger, and was met with a rudimentary picture of a pair of stick figures. One was tall, with a long line attached to its back – he supposed it was to signify a sword – and the other was tiny, a little blob at its companion’s feet.
Kenpachi held his tongue from spitting out degrading words of which he was so used to. Instead, he only stared at the soil art, mouth set in a thin, dispassionate line. Yachiru crawled between his legs, looked up at him with bright wide eyes as if asking for opinions. He stared at her for a moment, then, after much thought, picked her up and lay down with a huff.
“Why the fuck d’ye always make me think of ’Chiru, eh?” Before he even completed his question he already received an answer: ’Cause ye named the damned brat after ’Chiru, dumbass.
Kenpachi scoffed at his own stupidity, took off his torn haori and wrapped the child up in it. She nestled against his chest, hands curled up in little fists beneath her chin. He tucked her in, made sure she was comfortable, that the hard ground didn’t dig into those fragile ribs of hers.
Unconsciously, his eyes strayed back to the picture. His arms tightened around her small frame when he felt her bury her face in his bare chest, and he looked down.
“But she’s gone now, runt,” he murmured into her hair, blinking in surprise when she looked back up at him. The innocence in her eyes willed him to go on, and that night he finally gave in. He rested a hand on top of her head and held her close. “It’s jus’ me ’n ye now, Yachiru.”
But, even after all these years, Kenpachi still remembered those words which he had murmured to Yachiru, and he couldn’t help but feel like she was right there with them, watching over them.
And laughing at his godforsaken parenting skills.