Characters: Kenpachi, Yachiru
Word Count: 1,134
Summary: Why are they even going to the Seireitei in the first place?
A/N: Written for prompt #4: hope of 12_stories .
His nose twitched a little on instinct as the scuffling of a pair of tiny feet upon the ground pulled him out of his half-sleep.
"Time for bed, runt," he muttered through gritted teeth, all the more irritated now that she didn't appear to get the message. He was sprawled on the ground, arms folded at the elbows, hands tucked under his head, substitutes for a pillow, and his posture was more than enough to indicate that he just wanted to sleep. Nothing else. And having to deal with a whiny, spoiled brat was the very last thing on his list.
"But Ken-chan, I need to ask ya somethin'."
Kenpachi cursed the day he ever taught her how to speak. He even cursed the gods for having given her a tongue, wished he had just sliced it off the moment he settled upon the decision - that ridiculously stupid decision - to bring her along. The reason as to why he had done so in the first place still eluded him - he'd long abandoned the thought, too busy trying to pry her hands out of his hair and blocking out her bawling to even care.
"What d'ye want now, brat?" He knew he shouldn't have given in, should have just ignored her till she got fed up and settled for sleep. But the fact was he was actually paying attention to her - humouring her, more like. Submitting to her? Hell, no. Again, that was the last thing on his list.
She climbed on top of him and sat on his chest, legs crossed, tiny palms clamped in front of her, and she bent down. "Where're we goin'"?
Kenpachi held down the urge to recoil away from her, ignoring the fact that their noses were just barely an inch apart. Stupid brat, couldn't estimate the limits of one's personal space. "We're goin' to the Seireitei," he said, rolling his eyes under his lids. "I told ye already, right? Pay attention the next time I tell ye somethin' or I won't be repeatin' it again."
"You just repeated what you said, Ken-chan."
"Shut up. That one time doesn't count."
"But you just said-"
"Shut up, brat. Go to sleep." With that, he turned his head to the side, a scowl etched on his face. The weight, though light, was still upon his chest, slightly burdening his breathing. He had every mind to push her right off when she spoke again.
"What are we gonna do there?"
"Where? The Seireitei?"
"Well," and then Kenpachi stopped, stuck at the question. Why were they going to the Seireitei in the first place? The thought never really came to him. Maybe it was because he was just too busy killing people that he just didn't notice? Maybe. Because the last thing that he did see before he met the brat was blood and carnage and dead, decapitated bodies. No life except for the sudden appearance of a small bob of pink, crawling out of hiding from under a corpse.
Kenpachi gazed into those wide, bright red eyes of hers. They seemed to shine in the moonlight, earning an ethereal glow that made the breath catch a little in his throat.
Yachiru, the child's namesake, used to tell him stories, tales of the Court, the Seireitei. How magnificent it was - large, tall buildings, good food, bathhouses, tea houses, noble families, an organized military system, academy – but he'd never really paid much attention to her though. He was always certain that there was no way out, but then now, as he regarded himself, he found that he was miles away from that hellhole in which he used to live, from where he had been quite sure there was no escape.
"Why're we goin' there, Ken-chan?"
The child's question seemed to echo in his ears, like they were from far away.
Why were they going there? So that Kenpachi could become a captain? So that they would have nice beds to sleep in, good food to munch on? So that he would have a whole group of underlings who he could bully day after day? As inappropriate as that was, it sounded all the more entertaining. It was all in good fun, he thought, but still there laid another matter that was important.
"We're goin' there so I can get ye all the candy ye ever wanted," said Kenpachi, flashing her an encouraging grin as her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.
"Really?" was all she could manage.
"Yeah, really." He ruffled her hair. "But ye need to go to sleep now or we won't be able to make it. If ye don't sleep, ye'll get all wobbly on yer feet tomorrow and we won't make it in time, get it?" In time for what, he wasn't sure, but his statement did have its desired effect. Yachiru nodded in enthusiasm and slid down to the ground.
"Don't worry, Ken-chan, we'll make it!" she chirped, settling herself down beside him. "I know we will."
"Says the brat," he teased lightly, laying out his haori for her to use as a cover. He was more than accustomed to the cold anyway, didn't want the kid to get sick half-way through the journey.
"What kinda candy are ya gonna get for me, Ken-chan?"
At that inquiry, Kenpachi couldn't help but take her into his arms, hold her close. The warmth her little body emitted reminded him so much of that woman. Sometimes he wished that he hadn't picked her up, didn't want the memories to haunt him for the rest of his godforsaken life, but then, most of the time, he found himself wanting more flashbacks of those age-old moments. However irritating they were, and despite how much he was against dwelling in the past, he craved for more.
"I'll get ye all the candy that ye want. Bet ye can't finish them till ye're an old hag, and by that time, ye'll have rotten as hell teeth."
"Oh, yeah? Try me!" She stuck out her tongue playfully, smacking his hand away when he poked her nose.
"That is if we get there. If ye want yer candy, shut up and sleep." He cradled her, telling her stories of the Seireitei, of the fine dining and equally fine clothes. He told her all the stories that Yachiru used to tell him until she drifted off, but never once did the word "if" surface again.
He was sure to reach it. Having to fulfil promises to a dead loved one was a pain, but he'd gladly do whatever it took for Yachiru. For the woman and the child.
They were the ones who had given him hope to continue living in the first place anyway.