Characters: Kenpachi & Yachiru
Word Count: 3,218
Summary: Everybody cries. Nobody wants to be alone.
A/N: Got a little carried away towards the end. These two - they do that to me. Written for Prompt Set #1 of 5_times.
"It's just a goddamn cut, brat," he snapped, slapping her tiny hand away when she tried to reach for him. "I've gone through much worse than that lil' shit right there. There ain't nothin' the both of us can do. Just suck it up and deal with it!"
Yachiru, then still a small, fragile infant, stared up at him through wide, bright eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but only incoherent letters tumbled out, irritating Kenpachi further.
"What, ye want somethin' to stop the pain? Well, then," he picked up a nearby rock and held it up, "what 'bout this for starters, eh? Want me to beat this thing into ye till the pain wears off? Do ye?"
Yachiru, though still without skill to speak, understood each word he said. She shook her head, shrinking back a little, fear clouding her eyes over.
"Now, shut up." He threw the rock away and plopped down to the ground on his side, using his forearm as a pillow. "I need sleep, ye need sleep, or else we'll die tomorrow. And I ain't gonna let us die, ye hear me?"
She nodded, biting her lower lip, but she just sat there and stared at him. After a while of silence save for the rustling of the trees in the dark, he lifted his head and, upon settling his sights on her, glared. "Stupid brat, I said sleep, goddamn it!"
She looked up at him, hesitant, afraid, and then she crawled over to him. She ducked under his arm and lay down, curled up on her side, back pressed up against his chest.
Kenpachi tried hard to ignore the trembling that raked her tiny body and held her close to him, words remaining unsaid on his lips.
All she saw was blood as the blades swung and struck, swung and struck, and with each connection to flesh a shade of red burst across her vision. Bodies fell by the numbers on either side of her, staining the ground with ripped innards and flesh and muscle. A decapitated head rolled into her vision. She took a glance, and then she twisted back to look at it, scrutinize it.
And Yachiru woke up screaming.
She stumbled out of her room and tripped over the quilts wrapped around her ankles, falling with a loud thump on the wooden floorboards. But she was numb to the pain in her limbs, her sides, her nose as she disentangled herself and shot down to the door at the end of the corridor.
She collided with a large figure and dropped to the floor on her backside.
"Yachiru, what the hell're ye doin'?" came the all-too-familiar voice through the darkness, and she couldn't help but launch herself at his chest. She wrapped her arms around his neck, breathed in his scent of sandalwood and freshly cut grass, those earthly fragrances that always put her emotions at ease. "The fuck's goin' on?" He retreated back into his bedroom, pulling her off him, and settled her on the bed. "Nightmare, is it?"
Yachiru nodded, gritting her teeth; the expression on her face was one of relief as she looked him over. "Ken-chan, you're okay," she whispered, wiping the moisture from her eyes.
"'Course I'm okay. The fuck're ye talkin' 'bout?" With an irritated groan, Kenpachi lay down on the bed, his back facing her. "Now, go back to yer room and get some sleep. Ye know how I hate it when someone wakes me up."
Yachiru jumped onto the bed and snuggled up to his back, pressing her nose to his flesh, but he moved away, as if her touch had burned him, and sat up. She could see that the look on his face, with the help of the moonlight filtering in through the translucent curtains, was grim.
"I said back to yer room, Yachiru." He pointed to the door, mouth set in a thin, straight line. "Now."
"No, ye can't." He picked her up by the scruff of her collar, opened the door and dropped her out in the corridor. "Ye need to sleep in yer room. I don't fuckin' care how many nightmares ye get and I don't care how scary they are. Get back to yer room. Now."
Kenpachi slammed the door in her face.
As Yachiru sat outside, back against the door, knees brought up to her chest, he blocked out her quiet sniffles and cursed the shit gods for making her grow up so fast.
Kenpachi watched as Yachiru stared at the boy across the street. Or, more specifically, at the small bag in the palm of his hand. He picked out a pink piece of konpeito candy and popped it into his mouth. He chewed. Yachiru kept on staring.
Kenpachi had had enough. "Let's go, Yachiru." He didn't even wait for her to catch up to him, certain that she was at his heels, but when there was no weight upon his shoulder in the next minute, Kenpachi turned around.
Yachiru was still there, sitting on the chair with a confused waitress beside her who kept telling her that her "father" was going to leave her if she didn't hurry. The advice fell on deaf ears.
"Yachiru." He went back and picked her up by the back of her collar. "Ye ain't gettin' any of that, all right? Now, c'mon."
"But I want some, Ken-chan." Her eyes never left the boy even when she was sitting on Kenpachi's shoulder.
"No means no, brat."
"But Ken-chan! I want some!" That high-pitched whine in his ear was enough to put him off, and the next second, Yachiru found herself back on the dirty ground, Kenpachi glaring down at her.
"Fine, then go and get some money and buy some for yer goddamned self, ye hopeless lil' spoiled brat. I ain't got cash with me. We're one-skint broke, okay? And if I could, I'd just leave ye here in this fuckin' town to find food for yerself. Why the fuck should I give a shit 'bout ye anyway?" Fury boiling within him, Kenpachi turned on his heel and stormed away, shoving off anyone who got in his way.
Yachiru stood there, staring after him. "Ken-chan…" And then she turned to look at the boy. He popped another one into his mouth – a purple one this time – and she scampered over to him. "Hi," she said, smiling brightly, "can I have some?"
He was stunned at first, but then, recovering, dropped one into her already waiting hand.
"Thanks!" But before she could even taste it, he knocked it out from between her fingers. It fell to the ground, and she, giving a cry of shock and despair, dropped to her knees and reached for it. He crushed it under his foot, sneering down at her.
"Like I'd give anythin' to a street rat like ya." He spat onto her face, and with that, walked away with a nasty laugh, leaving her to stare down at the crushed little bits of green konpeito before her. She was very much ignorant to the spit hanging from her forehead as she rose to her feet and looked around.
Not a single familiar face in sight.
Yachiru felt her heart wanting to burst through her chest as she ran through the streets, head whipping from left to right, back and front. "Ken-chan!" Tears pricked the back of her eyes. The soles of her bare feet hurt as they came in contact with the rough ground. She wasn't used to this, having always been on Kenpachi's back all the time.
"Ken-chan!" She turned into corners, met dead ends, sped between peoples' legs, bumped into a fat woman, causing her to spill a bucket of water all over her small frame. But she didn't care.
"Ken-chan, where are you?" she screamed at the top of her lungs, unsure whether the moisture running down her cheeks were tears or just water.
She knew she was running in circles around the village, for she came back to where she and he parted. The waitress stood by the entrance to the tea house, biting her lower lip as Yachiru spun around and around, eyes searching wildly for any sign of that torn haori she used to sleep in.
The sudden clamouring behind her made her whip around, and when the dust and debris from the ground cleared, she saw the boy lying on his back, a fresh cut on his right temple bleeding profusely. His eyes were wide, filled with fear and panic, as he stared up at the large figure looming above him.
Kenpachi grabbed him by the collar and, with little to no effort at all, lifted him up from the ground. He marched over to where Yachiru was and dropped the boy onto his knees, kicking him in the back hard when he didn't say a thing.
"Sorry," the boy murmured, earning himself another kick that nearly broke his spine. "I'm sorry," he screamed, bent over so low in pain now that his forehead was pressed to the ground.
"Wasn't that easy." Kenpachi shoved him to the side and, without even a glance at Yachiru, walked away. She looked from him to the boy and bent down to inspect him. "Yachiru!" At that firm growl, she scampered away and climbed up onto Kenpachi's back.
For the rest of the afternoon, Yachiru didn't say a word. Nor did Kenpachi.
Because they both knew that he couldn't leave her even if he did try.
It was one of the many times that they got lost. Kenpachi didn't know just how many times she managed to get them lost with her nonsensical, hopeless as fuck directions. And he… Well, he kept questioning himself over and over and over again just why the fuck did he ask her in the first place.
For the umpteenth time, Kenpachi turned his head around to glare at the little girl on his back – the little girl with an even smaller brain. "Are we there yet?"
"Um…not yet, Ken-chan." She touched the tip of her index finger to her pouted lips in thought. "Let's see… Turn right!"
"Ye sure this time?"
"Don't you believe me, Ken-chan?" She knocked him on the back of his head, causing his bells to jingle. "If you don't believe me, then fine! Don't follow me." With that, she crossed her arms across her chest and looked away.
Kenpachi, with a weary sigh, sped off to his right. Damn the Seireitei and its stupid as fuck maze. Was there even such a necessity to build such a ridiculous layout? Didn't the Captain-Commander know that it was difficult to manoeuvre with walls on either side? Why can't there be just open streets without walls, for starters?
"Goddamn it," Kenpachi hissed when he reached another dead end. "Yachiru!"
"That's all ye got to say? 'Oops'?" he yelled at her, furious. "We've been goin' 'round in fuckin' circles and missin' out on all the action! If the fightin's over and I don't get a piece o-"
A hell butterfly fluttered past Yachiru's nose and came to hover before Kenpachi.
"What now, fuckhead?" he barked.
All captains are to gather at the First Division's barracks for a meeting. The battle has been won. Hollows are retreating back into their nests.
Kenpachi slapped the butterfly away with the back of his hand, seething. "Look what ye did, Yachiru! We ain't got no action 'cause ye kept actin' like some smartass givin' directions. Some fuckin' smartass ye are!" He had to resist the urge to throw her a mile away when he ripped her off from where she perched atop his shoulder and dropped her to the ground. "Go back to the division. Now. Tell the pretty-boy to get some sake for me or I'll fuckin' beat the shit out of that dil-hole."
"Can't I come too, Ken-chan?" she bounced on the soles of her feet, grinning in excitement. "Maybe I can get some candy fro-"
"Get yer ass back to the fuckin' division right now," he snarled, "'fore I kick it there!" And with that, Kenpachi turned heel and stormed down the street.
It took a while for him to reach the First Division, having to go through the maze without his guide, but when he finally arrived, the meeting was already concluded and the captains were ready to go back to their respective barracks. He stood there in the doorway, gripping his fists and gritting his teeth, more than ready to kill someone in the room.
"I expect you got quite a number under your belt, Zaraki," Jushiro said, grinning as he approached, wiping the sweat from his brows. "Had fun?" But he stopped short when he saw the murderous glint in Kenpachi's eye. "Is…something wrong?"
"Go fuck yerself."
Outside, hiding in a tree, Yachiru almost wanted to pounce on Kenpachi for saying such a thing to her Ukki, but she contained herself as she watched him march his way out, spiritual pressure flaring through the roof and almost stunning his fellow captains.
Jushiro stepped out a moment later, a frown etched across his face. A drop of water fell upon his cheek, and he glanced up , but he found that the sky was blue and completely clear.
Until he spotted Yachiru's small figure curled up in the heart of the tree.
Yachiru never liked to be alone. She always wanted Kenpachi to be there with her, because he was always with her since the beginning. He was the one whose touch and care made it possible for her to be alive, to be breathing in the air of a place she had never known before he showed it to her.
He never said it, but she knew for herself that she owed him her life.
From the beginning she told herself that she would be better for him, that she would stop being a little cry baby for his sake because he didn't like the weak, because he always yelled at her and got angry whenever she so much as allowed a tear to fall.
So when she fell down and cut her knee, she tried to "suck it up and deal with it."
When she saw his decapitated head in a pool of blood in her dreams, she had sat outside his room instead of going back into hers because she wanted to make sure that he would be okay until she saw him again in the morning.
When she wanted the konpeito candy, she had asked from the boy and got ridiculed. But she didn't care about that, because she had been more preoccupied with her search for him in the crowded village. "Ken-chan, where are you?" she'd screamed, ignoring the people as they turned to stare at her in puzzlement. She couldn't express her relief when he appeared to give the boy a piece of his mind, and she still didn't know what she would do if he had really left her there alone in the village.
When she got them lost yet again during the hollow invasion, she hadn't gone back to their barracks even when he told her to, and she tried to contain herself up in the tree until Ukki appeared and coaxed her to come down. Ukki had promised not to tell anyone, especially Kenpachi, of what happened.
She had gone through all that, but this time, as Kenpachi lay before her in a pool of his own blood, with his chest and abdomen torn apart, she could contain herself no longer. She hated the grimace on his face as the tears streamed down her cheeks. "It's just the rain," she said, forcing a smile, but they both knew better. With all her willpower, she forced her eyes away from him and stared at a puddle of water before her, at her reflection.
"It's okay to cry once in a while, Yachiru," he murmured, chest heaving painfully with each word. "If someone tells ye otherwise, don't believe 'em, 'cause it's bullshit. Ev'ryone cries. Ikkaku cries, that prick Princess Kuchiki cries – hell, I ain't surprised if the old bastard cries 'imself some either."
"What 'bout you, Ken-chan?" She looked at him then, her fingers gripping the knees of her shihakusho so tightly that her knuckles were stark white against her fair skin. "Have you cried before?"
"Me?" Kenpachi scoffed, causing him to choke on his own blood and cough hard. Yachiru, hesitantly, reached out and wiped the blood from the sides of his smirk with her trembling fingers. "Yeah, I've cried 'fore."
Her eyes widened at that. "Why?"
"Same reason why ye're cryin' now." He closed his eyes, breathed a sigh. "Guess it's like some circle'a life thing, eh? Someone dies, another lives, and it goes on and on. Forever. It ain't gonna stop, Yachiru, so don't end yer life here with me. Ye have to go on."
"But, Ken-chan," she gripped his haori tightly, gritting her teeth as she shook her head in denial, shook the water from her vision, "Ken-chan, if you go, I'll be alone. I don't wanna be alone."
"No one wants that." He tried to lift his hand, wanting so much to just take her into his arms for the last time, but he couldn't even feel his limbs. A bitter chuckle whispered past his lips, painfully disappointed. "Believe me, ain't no one wants to be alone."
"Then don't go."
"Yachiru." He regarded her with his eyes, the eye patch having being ripped off a long time ago, and grinned, bloody in its execution. She knew that tone of his voice, one that meant he was serious but not so serious, that he wanted her to listen but at the same time willing her to go her own way; it was a tone that showed he was still fighting demons within himself despite knowing that, for the first time, he was going to lose the battle.
Yachiru lay her head on his chest, feeling the heat from his blood sting her cheek.
"Ye won't be alone, dumbass," he wheezed, chest rising and falling in a hitched, difficult rhythm. "I'll always be here with ye."
She raised her head, hope gleaming in her eyes. "Really?"
"Yeah, really. Ye ain't gonna get rid of me that easy, brat." He turned his head, allowing his eyes to drift to a close. "Just…just stay here with me for a bit." Ain't no one wants to be alone.
Yachiru lay down, curled up against his side, head resting in the crook of his neck. Kenpachi pressed his nose to her hair, breathed in the scent of coppery blood and dirt and soil, the stink of carnage and the bloodbath that he never wanted her to witness.
"Now ye're all dirty," he murmured, smiling a little as he recalled the moments he had to bribe her with candy so that she would allow him to bathe her. "When this is all over, go home and take a shower. And stop cryin'…okay?"
"Okay," she whispered.
And when it was all over, Yachiru returned alone and reported back to the Captain-Commander with the torn, bloody captain's haori in her grasp. "Ken-chan didn't lose it this time," she said.