Characters: Kenpachi, Yachiru
Word count: 765
Summary: However irritating she turns out to be, he still can't find it within himself to kick her out.
A/N: This is set pre-series, when Kenpachi and Yachiru are still in the Rukongai. Written for table #5: light, prompt #2: Comfort of 12_stories.
He looks at her from across the fire, wondering just what it was that had overcome him when he first picked her up.
Night has descended upon the land, and now they sit on the ground with only a small fire as their sole illumination. Dinner included pieces of a roasted bear cub he managed to find wandering alone in the forest. Despite his being the rather merciless killer, he still feels slightly bad for hunting down such a little thing, but he knows that it had to be done.
Either that, or he would have to sit through the brat's tantrum.
She sits down and faces him, eyes burning bright with the orange flame.
"What're ye lookin' at, ye brat?" he growls, trying to frighten her off, but she remains unfazed and continues to stare at him.
Then she bursts into a fit of giggles, which irritates him even more. He barks a scoff and, leaning back against a tree trunk, closes his eyes and folds his arms across his chest. But it's hard to sleep with high-pitched, annoying as hell laughter reverberating in his ears, and he cracks an eye open and glares at the child.
"Shut the fuck up, runt, or d'ye want me t'roast yer ass for breakfast t'morrow?"
He doesn't expect her to understand. She doesn't appear to either, as she continues to giggle at him, showing her toothless mouth which he, deep down, finds rather amusing. But he needs sleep; he knows that it will be yet another long day for him – no, he reminds himself, it's no longer just him. It's become "them", though he still isn't used to it.
He looks at her out of the corner of his eye. Still laughing. As he tilts his head up towards the dark, moonless sky, eyelids drifting to a close, he wonders whether it's too late to just abandon the brat and travel on his own. She would be nothing but a nuisance anyway and, as proven thus far, a big pain in the ass.
Eventually, her giggles die down – at the back of his mind he wonders just what it is she's laughing about – and silence engulfs them. But, just when he thinks in satisfaction that he's finally going to have a peaceful night, he feels something soft tickling his thigh, and he immediately jerks away.
There the child sits, right in between his legs, staring up at him with those wide eyes that he finds so disturbing yet entrancing at the same time. He swallows, glaring down at her.
"What d'ye want now, brat?"
She tilts her head to the side and, after a moment of giving him a look that appeared to question him of his stupidity, she leans forward and places her head against his stomach. He freezes, controlling the urge to grab his zanpakuto as a chill runs up his spine.
"Get away, runt, or I swear I'll cut ye up," he growls through gritted teeth, but she doesn't seem to hear him. Instead, she clutches fistfuls of his haori and buries her face in the cloth, curling up and closing her eyes.
He tries moving away, but her fists tighten and she lets out a whine. For a while there he sits like a statue, glaring holes into the top of her head, until he finally hears her breathing slow into a constant rhythm, a slow and calming one that seems to bring peace to his very soul. His own heartbeat begins to slow, eventually leaving nothing more than echoes in his ears, and he breathes out a dreary sigh.
For a while, he watches her sleep, once again trying to figure out what it was that made him take her off of the streets in the first place.
A harsh wind blows, rustling the leaves overhead, and she shivers. Without much of a second thought, he strips out of his haori, gently prying her fingers from the cloth, and wraps her in it. She squirms a little as he scoops her up in his arms and holds her to his chest, haori secured around her.
"Cold now, are ye?" he murmurs, absently brushing the hair out of her eyes. She snuggles against his chest, the top of her head tickling his neck, and he lets out a meek sigh.
"Don't worry, brat." He relaxes back against the tree trunk, tucking her in the haori and tightening his hold around her. "I'll warm ye up."
At least he has some company for the night, even if it's a big pain in the ass.