Characters: Kenpachi, Yachiru
Word count: 1,029
Summary: "Don't want 'em bastards t'take ye away while I'm sleepin'." - Kenpachi oversees Yachiru's futile attempts at walking.
A/N: Written for prompt #7: kindness of 12_stories.
Kenpachi watches from across the fire as the child gets up and starts walking yet again. She takes a few steps, wobbling on her shaky feet, and then falls down. Again.
"Stop that, brat," he barks, irritated now. He's been up for the better part of the night, keeping an eye on her in case something decides to leap out of the underbrush and pounce on her. Small thing like her can be scooped up and kidnapped in just a moment's notice - just like how she was brought away by Kenpachi.
He doesn't think that he has kidnapped her though; who would take care of the kid when there was no one else around? He's merely doing what's right.
Then again, he hasn't been able to tell right from wrong till that bloody morning.
He catches himself, shaking his head, and glares at the child when she ignores his admonishment and rises to her feet. "C'mon Yachiru, it's time for bed. Ye can keep this up till mornin' an' ye won't get any better."
Yachiru seems like she's deaf to his words.
Swallowing his vexation, Kenpachi leans back against a tree and, folding his arms across his chest, closes his eyes. Damn brat never listens to a thing he says - just like her namesake before her.
Kenpachi remembers having a hard time with said woman back in the olden days, with her being the very stubborn one who always didn't care what he thought. Her rashness often ended with her being bullied by the coarse male population, and that always resulted in them being mercilessly sliced up and cut down.
Irritating, the both of them. Just plain irritating.
Why he even picked the brat up in the first place is still beyond him. He doesn't know just what he was thinking when he scooped her up into his arms, when he smoothed her matted, bloody hair down and, cradling her, carried her away from the scene.
Maybe it had been those wide, curious eyes of hers that blinked up at him in silent questioning. That was an odd, foreign expression to him - curiosity. He only ever saw fear, anxiety, terror flash through the people's eyes whenever he was around. Never curiosity. Nobody wanted to know who he was; they just wanted to get away. Didn't want to be killed.
And so, he lived without a name, because what's a name when nobody cares?
That was until the brat showed up.
Kenpachi cracks open an eye to steal a glance over at her. She's crawling, having fallen for maybe the tenth or eleventh time now, but the look on her face is one of determination, of curiosity. Again, she gets up and walks, taking one careful step at a time. He watches, intently now, counting each step.
And she falls again.
He runs his fingers through his hair, slightly frustrated that she can't reach five. At this rate, for her to reach five, it will take till morning, and though he's supposed to watch her, he's tired. After having gone through a district, fighting off bastards who wanted to buy the child to sell her to do gods-know-what, looking for food, hunting for game that just won't fall into his traps, all he wants is rest.
Kenpachi beckons to her. "C'mere, Yachiru, time for bed."
"But I don't wanna!"
She stares at him for a moment, eyes wide, ruby irises glittering from the fire, a pout in place. With a growl, he puts out the fire and juts his chin out, looking down his hooked nose at her in triumph. Tears start welling up in her eyes. He mentally kicks himself and, immediately, automatically, he scoops her up into his arms.
"Don't cry, Y-"
And she bursts into tears.
Suppressing the curses that are now on the tip of his tongue, Kenpachi holds her close, cradling her, rocking her and gently patting her back. He puts her namesake's method into use; he remembers her stroking and patting his back whenever he can't sleep, whispering sweet nothings into his ear till he falls asleep.
Now, thinking back, he thinks he must have been a rather big baby to need such comfort.
He scoffs, rubbing Yachiru's trembling back. Her sobs are quiet, as by now she knows that he doesn't like it when she cries. She'll get scolded when she does, and she has learned to control her emotions. Kenpachi's proud of her for that, though he never shows it.
He pats and pats until she has quietened down, till she isn't shaking, and he looks into her eyes and flashes her a grin."Crybaby."
She sniffs, poking him in the cheek. "Mean Ken-chan."
He can't help but laugh, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Now go t'sleep. Ye can do it again in the mornin', all right?" She nods in obedience and wriggles out of his arms, but he prevents her, tightening his hold around her, and when she looks at him, questioning him with that curious stare, he all but smirks.
"Don't want 'em bastards t'take ye away while I'm sleepin'."
And when she's curled up in his embrace, sound asleep, head resting in the crook of his neck, his haori wrapped around her small form, he wonders why he even said that. If someone takes her away, he'll have a reason to fight.
And he likes to fight.
But then again, the warmth her small body emits is rather comforting on cold nights such as these. Even if she's ignorant, even if he's the one who has to whisper "sweet nothings" into her ear till she falls asleep, he finds himself content. Happy, even, and that's strange because he never feels that way since the death of the first Yachiru.
Really, the two of them are just irritating. But it's a good sense of irritation, one that tickles the sides of his heart, makes him smile, makes him laugh like nothing else can.
Absently, he brushes the hair out of her eyes, bends down and nuzzles her hair, breathing in the scent of dirt and soil and smoke.
It's the kind of irritation that makes him care for someone like he's never cared for anyone before.