Characters: Yachiru, Kenpachi, Ikkaku, Yumichika
Word count: 1,358
Summary: Yachiru tries to imagine a life without Kenpachi, but she can't even though the possibility is staring at her square in the face.
A/N: Written for table #5: light, prompt #12: peace of 12_stories.
"How's Ken-chan doin', Feather-brow?"
"The Captain's doing fine, Lieutenant. All he needs is just s – Lieutenant, don't go in yet! He needs his rest!"
Yachiru looked up at the Fifth Seat, sporting a pout. "But I wanna see how Ken-chan is! I haven't seen him for three hours now!"
Actually, she hadn't seen him for just a little over an hour, but Yumichika omitted the fact as he knelt down and heaved a sigh. "You can see him tomorrow morning, okay? You can ask him to bring you to the candy store," he made a mental note to stay very, very far away from the Eleventh Division tomorrow, "or play dolls with you, but right now, he needs to rest. If he doesn't rest, he won't be able to take you out, understand?"
Yachiru lifted her chin, staring up at her inferior through suspicious eyes. "I don't believe you, Feather-brow. You're lyin' to me. You just don't want me to go in there because you've wrapped Ken-chan up like a mummy and you don't want me to go pokin' 'round and eatin' sweets in there."
Yumichika let out a weary sigh. "Lieutenant…"
"He's right, y'know." Ikkaku, who had been leaning against the wall, watching the exchange all this while, finally decided to come to his friend's rescue. "C'mon, Lieutenant, I'll play with ye. I'll even bring ye over to Captain Ukitake's for some candy. That man always has some stashed away for ye, and I bet he's waitin' in his division right now."
Yachiru stared at the bald man for a moment or so, trying to come to terms with his words. The prospect of ravaging Ukki's Ugendo for confectionary was quite an irresistible idea, and had it not been for her captain being in recovery, Yachiru would have raced Ikkaku to the Thirteenth in a heartbeat. But now, all she did was shake her head, wide, ruby eyes somewhat pleading him to let her go.
"I don't wanna," she said, voice low, very much in contrast to her jovial nature. "I just wanna see Ken-chan."
Ikkaku and Yumichika, silent, exchanged glances. The desolate look on her face wasn't one that crossed by often, and they were more than worried over it. But still, it would be wrong to disturb the captain when he was still in recovery – gods knew how sour he got whenever someone woke him up from his afternoon naps. When that happened, the whole division often had to go through a wild beating that sent a little over half of the squad into the Fourth's intensive care.
Coming to a decision, Ikkaku shrugged. "Suit yerself, kid. Just don't blame us if ye get yer ass handed to ye." But, as he and Yumichika turned heel and left the child to herself, alone in the hallway, he knew that the only person who wouldn't receive a beating for waking the captain up was his lieutenant.
Yachiru, once the two officers disappeared down the corridor, sneaked into Kenpachi's bedroom. It was dark; not even a candle was lit, but she knew the place and could maneuver through with ease. Silently padding her way across the room, she came by the bedside, and there lay her eyes upon the face she had longed to see.
With his eye-patch gone, long hair spread about the pillow, a cotton pad taped to a cheek, Kenpachi looked the same as he did just this morning, when she had leaped from the top of the cupboard and woke him up by means of landing hard on his stomach. The only catch was this time, he wasn't sleepy – he was actually tired. That fight with the Ryoka boy had drained him of everything, and though it was exciting to watch the two beasts clash in battle, now it was only painful to see him in such a state.
Unable to take in anymore, Yachiru hopped onto the windowsill and gazed out over the Seireitei. Evening had descended, and the small lanterns hanging from rooftops cast a warm, homely glow across the buildings. She could see Ukki's Ugendo in the distance, but for once, she didn't feel like going over for some candy. For once, she had no appetite. The only thing that whirled around in her mind right then was how Kenpachi was faring. When he was going to wake, whether or not he was going to wake.
Yachiru squeezed her eyes shut and buried her face in her forearms. Trying to imagine a life without him was unbearable – she wondered why she even attempted it in the first place. It was hard to believe that he had fallen, that after so many battles, after even emerging from the clash with the previous Kenpachi unscathed save for a cut on the shoulder, he had found someone to bring him down to his knees. For her, it was difficult to imagine anyone being stronger than him, and this was what distressed her so.
During the aftermath, she had to stand by and watch as he mulled over the past. It wasn't like him to do such a thing, as he always thought that bringing up history was just an excuse to avoid demons from the present. Sign of the coward, he often said. But then there he was, asking her whether she remembered the moment when he had given her a name.
She remembered like it was just yesterday. "Yachiru" – her name, the first word she'd ever uttered. And he had given it to her, made her someone from the nothing that she used to be. He gave her something, somebody to hold on to. Her anchor, and without him, she'd be washed away by the wild tempest that raged about in her mind right then.
Her chest ached, her head pounded, her eyes watered, and it was only when he called out to her in a rasp that she gave a start.
Whirling around, she locked eyes with him. He raised a hand, though weak, and flashed her a grin. "Yo."
And in the next moment, she hurled herself to his chest, squeezing a cough out of him.
"Goddamn it, brat," he growled lowly, rolling around to lie on his back so that she had enough space to snuggle up to his side. "Took ye long enough to check up on me. What, did Ukitake bribe ye with candy an' kidnapped ye t'his Ugendo?"
"No!" Yachiru glared at him, poking him in the temple. "Feather-brow and Baldy didn't want me to come in because they were scared that I'd disturb your sleep and they said that you needed to rest, and then Baldy said that he'll bring me over to Ukki's for some candy, but I told him that I didn't want any and that I just wanted to see Ken-chan."
Kenpachi couldn't really hear half of what she was saying, her words tumbling over one another and coming out almost in incoherent verses. Instead, he nodded with a smirk and wrapped an arm around her small frame. "They're outta their minds, tryin'a pull some bullshit like that on ye. I'm gonna have t'pound some bricks into their heads the minute I get out."
"You better, 'cause they were bein' stupid and makin' me scared."
Ignoring the pain in his forearm, Kenpachi tightened his hold around her, all the more protective. "Ain't no one gets t'scare ye, runt." With his free hand, he pulled the covers over them and tucked Yachiru in. "Ye ain't gonna have somethin' t'eat? Dinner or somethin'?"
"Maybe later. I'm not hungry." She wiped at her eyes, blinking back the moisture. "I just wanna stay here."
Kenpachi gazed at her for a while, the top of her pink head facing him, but he knew just what was going on within her. They'd been together for gods-knew-how-long. He knew the way her mind worked like the back of his hand, and vice versa.
He brushed the hair out of her eyes, gently patting her back, and as he wrapped his arms around her, engulfing her in that warm, familiar embrace, Yachiru found herself finally being able to rest in peace.