Title: How in
the Hell did I Get in This Mess?
Theme/Topic: Parallel piece to "How in the Hell Did I Lose to You?", "How in the Hell Did I Get Stuck With You?" and "Who in the Hell are You?"
Pairing: Kenpachi, Yachiru, Nemu, Mayuri
Spoilers: Whole Soul Society Arc
Word Count: 2,305
Time: 3.10 hours (no edits…too cold. --;;)
Summary: Kenpachi has a tendency to pick up strays.
Dedication: sophiap- I was going to do a drabble for your bleachexchange thing, but then I realized that one of your requests was the perfect excuse to start my Kenpachi arc early. ;; Hope you don't mind. Special thanks to Jen for the edit… hehe she called it something like trudging through muddy water. But I suppose I've done worse. XD
A/N: What? I had an idea for some Kenpachi action. We'll see how this pans out. O.o Also, in tandem with sophiap's bleachexchange request: "Zaraki/any canon female other than Yachiru. I don't care who you choose, I just want something realistic, not cracktastic." I don't know if this is realistic, but um… it's vaguely less cracktastic than IkkakuxKira? O.o
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
She's the kind of girl who, when you first see her, doesn't leave much of an impression.
She's a shadow, kind of, there and unimpressive and not anyone someone like the great Zaraki Kenpachi would look twice at on a normal day.
His first words to her are: "The hell're you goin', ya idiot?"
She bows. "Excuse me, Zaraki-taichou…"
He glares at her. "Watch it, will ya? People're walkin' here," he grumbles, though the collision with her small frame hadn't done him any harm.
"My apologies," she says, quietly. She doesn't even raise a fuss or anything about how he'd been the one yelling at Yachiru while he walked, not paying attention as he'd rounded the corner and bumped right into her.
Luckily for her he'd caught her before she'd fallen, but still. It's the principle of the thing.
"It was Ken-chan's fault!" a little voice pipes up then, as Yachiru scrambles up from Zaraki's back and perches on his shoulder.
He glares at her. "The hell asked you, ya little…"
She laughs and pats his head. "People who lay fault on others for their own shortcomin's is cowardly!" she crows. "Least, that's what Frilly-brows always says!"
Zaraki growls and swats halfheartedly at her, his big fist easily dodged as she relocates to the other side of his shoulders.
Nemu frowns and straightens again, eyes still trained on the ground. She wonders if Zaraki often beats his daughter for her insolence.
But he only scowls and says, "Shaddup," causing the little girl to laugh. He sighs and turns back to the forgotten vice-captain then. "Look…" He promptly trails off when he sees her face, even though she keeps her chin down, out of the light. "Hey…" he starts. "I didn't do that, did I?"
The bruise on her jaw is swollen and ugly, but not fresh. "No, taichou," she assures him. "Please pardon me for my clumsiness."
"You sure?" he says, sounding gruffly uncertain.
"Your fault!" Yachiru sing-songs from his shoulder, earning another tired look and a swat at empty air.
"You didn't strike me, Zaraki-taichou," Nemu murmurs, hands folded in front of her. "I… this is my own fault."
Zaraki looks vaguely befuddled. "Ya punched yourself then? Che. Wouldn't be surprised. If I were related to Kuro-kooky I'd wanna punch myself too."
She winces. "Please excuse me, taichou. Fukutaichou."
He winces too. "Er. Well. Didn't mean it that way. Joke, ya know. Mostly."
"Yes. I'd best… return to Mayuri-sama now."
"Yeah. Guess you should do that. Keep that crazy bastard under wraps, huh?" he poses, sounding oddly awkward. He moves to the side to let her pass.
Surprised, though it doesn't show, Nemu steps lightly around him and continues towards her destination.
"She lost a fight!" Yachiru mused. "But even still, she was pretty."
Kenpachi eyes her. "Probably it. Twelfth don't win all that many fights, I recall." Pause. "Yeah, guess she was okay. Kinda quiet though."
Yachiru drops to the ground lightly beside him, looking up and smiling. "Maybe it's 'cuz Ken-chan is so loud!"
He sighs. "The hell're we goin' anyway?"
"To buy candy, Ken-chan, candy!" she tells him for the umpteenth time, sounding disappointed at his slowness. "It's important!" the little girl exclaims, before marching off in the direction of the supposed candy store.
Zaraki scoffs. "Tch. Sure it is." But he ends up following the little pain in the ass regardless.
The second time he runs into Nemu it's nearly the exact same thing as the first time they bumped into one another, except that the bruise on her face is somewhere else—it's swollen her eye shut this time— and there are hand-shaped marks on her throat that tell him there wasn't any Hollow involved in the last fight she lost.
He knows that he hadn't done it to her for sure this time, because when he'd run into her it hadn't been hard at all, and he definitely hadn't had his hands anywhere near that tiny pencil neck of hers.
"Excuse me, Zaraki-taichou."
"Er yeah. Watch where you're goin'."
And then she's gone, but something about those bruises bother him even after he can't see her anymore. He finds himself thinking about the whole thing more than he should for a while afterwards, wondering what there is about a little, insignificant type of girl like that that can make him stop for a minute, that can make him forget what it was he was going to do and turn his attention to thoughts of her.
She's hardly impressive. Quiet, sullen almost. Shy, too. Too damn polite.
He wonders what she looks like without any part of her face swollen and discolored.
Pretty, probably. Like Yachiru said.
He gets annoyed for pondering it at all and eventually forces himself to go out and beat some dudes up, get his heart going again. And it works. For a while. At least, until one of those sorry ass faces he'd been beating on is looking back at him with a swollen eye and the second most pitiful expression that Kenpachi's ever seen.
It aggravates him.
Because he knows something is wrong. Hell, if he's really honest with himself, he might even be able to figure out what it is. But that's not the point.
The thing that's wrong with this whole picture is the fact that he's thinking about it—about her-- at all.
It bugs the hell out of him that he's wondering about those bruises.
And how they don't look quite right on a girl like her.
The third time he runs into her, he stops completely.
Maybe it's because she's not alone this time.
Mayuri's there, and throwing another one of those infamous temper tantrums of his, right there in an alley beside the main street where everyone can see and hear.
Normally, Kenpachi would walk by without a second glance because anything that has to do with Kurotsuchi and his hissy fits instantly pisses Zaraki off and ruins the rest of his day if he lingers too long in the vicinity.
But this time he finds himself pausing because, just before he passes them completely, she looks up at him. It's less than a split second of eye contact between the two of them, right as her father viciously backhands her, the sharp sound of his hand against her face echoing through the little alleyway loud enough to make Kenpachi wince.
Just a second of them looking at each other and Zaraki stops dead in his tracks.
"Useless whore!" Mayuri spits, moving to strike his vice-captain again. "I'll end your insignificant little existence right this second! You think you're special? You think you matter? I could create hundreds of you in the blink of an eye, if I didn't find you so disturbingly worthless!"
Zaraki doesn't know why it happens but without thinking, he steps forward and catches that arm before it can move an inch closer to her, pinning it in the grasp of one big palm. He squeezes, just to be an ass.
"What's the meaning of this, Zaraki!" Kurotsuchi exclaims, snarling angrily at the sudden contact and struggling to break free.
Kenpachi doesn't feel like explaining, especially because he doesn't quite know what the hell's going on himself. So after a second of deliberation, he just punches the bastard, sending him through the nearest three or four walls.
She moves to go after her creepy bastard of a father then, and Zaraki doesn't know why, but the thought of that pisses him off even more than the image of Mayuri's creepy face.
That doesn't happen a lot.
"The hell is wrong with you?" he gripes, grabbing her too. Except he hauls her off in the opposite direction.
"But Mayuri-sama is…"
"Ain't dead," Kenpachi snorts, tugging her away. "Least, better not be if he's worth a good goddamn. And now you ain't dead either. Nothin' wrong with that, right?"
She looks distressed. "But…"
She sounds so lost that he can't help but let her go then, once they're some distance away from where Mayuri is laid out. "But what? Ain't you ever heard of self-defense, ya idiot?" Zaraki finds himself growling at her. He pauses, suddenly realizing something. "Say, those bruises from before… he do that?"
She looks away. "Yes."
"Damn bastard, pickin' on girls," Zaraki growls. Then, to her, "Your fault too, though, I suppose. Fer lettin' him. Should knock that old meathead on his ass, that'll teach him to never smack at ya again."
The thought of returning her father's blows puzzles her. "But Mayuri-sama is…"
"Don't matter," Kenpachi insists, crossing his arms and looking down at the small, sad slip of a girl in front of him. "Someone tries to hit you, you hit 'em right back! Don't matter who. First damn thing I taught Yachiru, ya know."
She looks at him, puzzled by the thought of him teaching his own child how to strike him.
Sensing her disbelief, he sighs and reaches around his back. "Oi. Wake up, ya damned brat. I'm talkin' here."
"Mmm?" Yachiru makes a general sound of discontent as she's woken from her nap, somehow sleeping and managing to hang on to Zaraki all at once. "Ken-chan?"
"Get up here," he urges, and obediently, she scrambles up on top of his shoulder, rubbing at her eyes blearily.
"First thing I taught ya… what was it?"
"Don't chew so fast?" Yachiru offers, yawning.
"Tch. No. The other first thing I taught ya."
"Whhhy?" Yachiru whines, pouting. "You already know it."
With a sigh, Zaraki picks the pink ball of child up from his back with one hand, dangling her by the back of her gi in front of the other vice-captain. "Not me. Tell her."
"Oooh!" Yachiru wakes up then, apparently stirred by the thought of having company. "Hiya!"
"Hello, fukutaichou," Nemu greets, nervously.
"She's all purple again," the young vice-captain observes, clinically, looking questioningly at Zaraki.
"Che. I didn't do it." He shakes his hand then, sending Yachiru up and down a bit. "Now tell her. That other first thing."
"Ken-chan says if anyone hits me I hit 'em right back! Harder and meaner though!" Yachiru announces from memory, the announcement made all the more bizarre by the fact that as she says it, her guardian is dangling her in the air with the ease of a person lifting a piece of paper "Even if was him who hit me! Just pound him back."
Nemu blinks. "Even…your own father?"
"Ain't her dad," Zaraki clarifies, though it's mostly an automatic response to an accusation that's probably been made so many times now that whether he is or isn't her actual father doesn't even matter anymore.
"Yup!" Yachiru agrees readily. "Hit 'im right back!"
"Not that she'd do me a lick of damage," Zaraki clarifies. "But it's the principle of the thing."
"Right," the young girl echoes. "Principles!"
Nemu looks at them both. "I should really…"
"You're pretty," Yachiru interrupts, squirming out of Zaraki's hold and dropping to the ground beside Nemu. "Even purple."
"Um…thank you, fukutaichou…"
Zaraki sighs. "You ain't subtle, kid."
Yachiru blinks back at him sweetly. "What's that?"
"Tch. Nothin'." Then, resignedly, "Just ask her already, ya damned brat."
"You wanna come play with me for a while?" Yachiru asks, tugging on Nemu's sleeve excitedly. "Been a while since I had anyone to play with who wasn't Ken-chan! Not since Frilly-brow and Shiny-head left to be vice-captains too!"
Kenpachi snorts. "Yeah well, good to know ya valued those hours of useless fingerpaintin' with me, kid."
"Excuse me, but I don't think… I mean, I really shouldn't…"
"But you will, then? Yay!" Yachiru smiles. "C'mon, c'mon! We'll play tag!"
Of course Zaraki doesn't feel guilty at all for letting her favorite playmates go off to be vice-captains in the first place, but he supposes, if she's missing them, then the least he can do is let the brat make new friends. "Tch. Just remember not ta run off too far, ya hear? I ain't got time to go skippin' 'round lookin' for ya if ya get lost again."
"Ken-chan, you too!" she prompts, pouting. "Tag!"
He snorts. "You got someone else ta play with now, so play."
She sniffs. "You're just mad 'cuz you're a big slow-head at tag."
He scowls. "I ain't slow."
"BIGSLOWHEAD!" she says, doing it quickly just to be a brat.
"Why you little…" Losing his patience, he moves towards her, menacingly. But before he gets anywhere near her she grabs Nemu's hand and darts off, giggling excitedly. "Ken-chan's it!" she announces, before the twelfth division vice-captain feels herself being pulled happily away, faster than she'd ever moved on her own.
Yachiru laughs happily, giving an enthusiastic squeal of delight before speeding up still, calling, "Ken-chan is a big slow head!" over her shoulder as the captain's threatening (but oddly, not really) reiatsu trails, just a breath behind them.
"Damned brat!" Zaraki growls, "I shoulda left you on the damned roadside when I had the damned chance!"
Even if the words are a bit harsh, Nemu can't help but feel like they really aren't at all, somehow.
From beside her, Yachiru's laughter rings bright and clear, and as the two of them run 'for their lives', Kurotsuchi Nemu can't help but think that the ecstatic smile on the little girl's face is part of the reason why.
"Hurry, hurry, Pretty! He's gaining, he's gaining!"
She runs beside the other girl as quickly as she can, and while she can't quite find it in herself to laugh as heartily as Yachiru, Nemu does feel something that might be a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
And for a moment, for just a breath in time, she lets herself forget about Kurotsuchi Mayuri.