20 Myths and Legends about Zaraki Kenpachi
Rating: PG-13 for language
Pairing/Character/s: Kenpachi, Eleventh Division
Word Count: 3,092
Warning/s: No major spoilers I can imagine. Just randomness…
Summary: The mysterious Zaraki Kenpachi.
Dedication: Uhm… Greg and Yoshi! Thanks for visiting today.
A/N: Another unofficial 20-point type essay sort of thing—I'm finding that I kind of like doing them because they're a quick and easy way to make me feel marginally productive. If I didn't hate fandom I might actually join the community and do these officially, or something, they're that fun.
Disclaimer: Not mine- I'm not that creative.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
There are those who claim that the moment Zaraki Kenpachi first stepped through the gates of seireitei the earth itself seemed to rumble while the skies shrieked in pain-- both ominous harbingers warning of his arrival.
Ikkaku thinks the dumbasses who claim that are damned romantics, exaggerating everything they see and hear for the sake of a good story.
Yachiru had needed a diaper change.
Everyone had been hungry.
Ikkaku might have had gas.
When Zaraki ripped the torn and bloody jacket of the defeated eleventh division captain off of the shoulders of its former owner, everyone remembers being surprised at how well it had fit.
No one's sure whether it was because Zaraki had seemed so huge at that moment, or if the former captain of the eleventh division had just come to look that small.
It was posited at first that delicate-looking Ayasegawa Yumichika was kept around as the captain and the third seat's unwilling love slave, stories spun from initial rumors about how Madarame had won the pretty young man in a poker game one night and from there, the group had taken him on to take care of (in turns) those male urges less reputable men like Zaraki and Madarame sometimes had late at night.
But observing the three men's behavior over time served to make most sensible people reconsider the wildly flung about speculations, and after a while it was decided that Yumichika couldn't possibly be their love slave after all.
They suspected instead, after much dedicated scrutiny, that Zaraki and Madarame might be his.
They say with a good amount of certainty that the bells are a warning he puts at the ends of his hair for his opponents to listen for, so the poor bastards can hear the coming chimes of their own fast approaching deaths. They're not entirely wrong on that point, Yumichika supposes. The origin of the bells themselves however, is a topic more subject to homespun yarns of grandeur and mystique—whether the innocent looking metal balls are actually ancient charms of the unspeakable evil Zaraki serves or a priceless holy gold stolen from the bodies of monks he'd killed on the road during the course of his travels all remains to be seen.
But it's generally agreed upon that they really have to be something great and special for someone as scary as Zaraki Kenpachi to choose to wear them on large spikes in his hair. It would be far too ridiculous otherwise, wouldn't it?
Yumichika lectured Zaraki-taichou some years back on how, in a toddler's life, the earliest years were some of the most important regarding proper mental development. He remembers waggling a finger at the taller man and admonishing him with the words, "If she has nothing to stare at but your big ugly back day in and day out she's going to grow up impaired."
The pretty fifth chair isn't quite sure where the whole idea for the bells came from, but remembers that when she tired herself out trying to become fast enough to catch the pretty shiny things bobbing up above her with her tiny fists, the gently rhythmic chiming did end up providing a great lullaby to soothe her to sleep with.
Rumor has it that once, in the midst of a particularly fierce battle, Zaraki Kenpachi pulled the mask off of a large Hollow with his bare hands.
Several lower-ranked eleventh division shinigami swear on the graves of their sainted mothers that they saw this happen, but given their penchant for living inebriated as often as possible (as well as the fact that several have mothers who are very much alive), no one is sure exactly, what to make of their stories.
All Zaraki himself does in response to questions regarding the issue is smile in an unreadable manner and say, "Sounds like as good a way as any…" while his lone eye glimmers dangerously.
They say that he can barely read, that his handwriting is almost worse than his vice-captain's. They say he's not smart and he doesn't know anything beyond living like a wild animal-- how and when to kill things. He's a monster, a demon, a devil, or all of the above-- one whose sole purpose in this world is to destroy things. He doesn't need to utilize functions of higher learning then, doesn't need to be a civilized, intelligent person.
He's all brawn and no brains.
Yumichika smiles to himself when he hears that sort of talk, and thinks that for such a dumbass, his captain sure figured out how to neutralize Tousen-taichou's bankai rather quickly, especially considering the fact that before, countless "smarter" men had simply died under the same conditions.
Renji remembers a time when he'd gone to Zaraki-taichou as a member of the eleventh with the full intention of letting his captain know he wanted to join the sixth, even though it was considered a weaker and far inferior division (and Zaraki considered Kuchiki-taichou a total bitch).
He remembers being hesitant, remembers having to drink a good amount of sake before he left to meet with the captain he'd come to—somehow—respect over their time together. He hadn't wanted to be looked down upon by that man.
When he'd finally gotten the guts to do it, he remembers sitting in Zaraki-taichou's office and sweating a little and saying, "Sir, I'm going to join the sixth division as the new vice-captain there."
Instead of deriding the sixth like he'd expected though, Zaraki had simply grunted and said, "A man's gotta do what he's gotta do, right?"
Renji has carried those words with him ever since that day, and hopes that he continues to live as a proud example of an eleventh division shinigami no matter what division he's in.
Zaraki Kenpachi inspired Renji that day.
Though in all reality, Kenpachi had simply thought Renji was leaving because he was gay for Kuchiki—he'd come into the office all red-faced after all—and really, the eleventh division captain hadn't wanted to talk more than was absolutely necessary on such an awkward subject.
No one tells Renji this, of course.
For all the drinking Zaraki seems to do, Kyouraku-taichou is convinced the man is simply incapable of becoming inebriated.
"I plied him with four jugs of sake and a bottle and a half of tequila last night, Jyuu-chan," he complained to his companion on the morning after a particularly heavy bout of drinking.
"Your poor wallet," Jyuushirou murmured, and smiled back at him crookedly.
"My poor head, you mean," Shunsui prompted. "I bet he isn't even hung over, the bastard. It was so amazing I would have called it impossible if I hadn't been watching it for myself, Jyuu-chan."
"I believe this is what we call a research bias," Ukitake replied, and had his own suspicions about what exactly, had happened that night.
That same morning, in the eleventh division headquarters, Yumichika found a not-hung-over-at-all Zaraki Kenpachi eating eggs and toast for breakfast. "How was drinking with Kyouraku-taichou last night?" the fifth seat asked brightly, and served himself fresh fruit.
"For a bastard who likes to praise himself for always pickin' up the tab for his 'kouhai' or whatever, he's the one who ends up drinkin' most of the stuff anyway," Zaraki grunted, and stole one of Yumichika's pineapple chunks in a surly manner.
9. An Aura
"Does taichou smoke?" some eleventh division members wonder one day, and look at each other expectantly.
Someone has to know the answer to that, after all. They're all in the man's division.
For some reason, no one really ever notices something small like that when they're in Zaraki's presence.
For some reason, women aren't really afraid of Zaraki. This, like everything else, has led to quite the stir in the rumor mill, and people wonder if it's because of Yachiru and the fact that women can't be afraid of a guy who has such a cute little daughter.
"It's 'cuz taichou don't hit women unless they hit him first," some eleventh division members insist, and many suppose that that makes sense too.
"Maybe he's afraid of them."
"Maybe he's gay."
That last one makes everyone curious, and various brave women around Soul Society have come to see it as a mission of sorts.
They just have to test him and see.
So when Matsumoto returns from her attempt to corner and flirt with Zaraki in a hallway on one such occasion and all she can do is blink dumbly and say, "He didn't look at my chest once," no one quite knows what to make of it.
A general murmur of "oh my gods" and "I told you sos" erupt from the crowd.
And then her cheeks get a little red and she winks, because there's an addendum she needs to make. "He looked me right in the eye."
The women think that's horribly romantic.
"He's misunderstood!" they wail, and his popularity goes soaring amongst their ranks. "What a gentleman!"
Yumichika wonders if any of them noticed that if Kenpachi actually tried looking further down on Rangiku's small frame (and it had looked like he'd wanted to), the slight crick in the enormous captain's neck from just making eye contact with the petite woman (especially given how close she was standing) would have actually become quite painful.
11. The Eleventh Division
It's possible that he chose the old eleventh division captain to challenge on a whim, but people are learning to suspect that Zaraki Kenpachi has hidden, ulterior motives to most of his actions.
He's dastardly, after all—nothing a demon like him does can be taken at purely face value. They just don't know why, exactly, he chose the eleventh to take over in particular.
But they're watching, waiting, and one day, the clues will all come together. They'll figure it out.
Ikkaku remembers a game of darts they'd played together when they'd been only a couple of days away from reaching seireitei, and he still smiles to himself whenever he thinks about how he and Yumichika had blindfolded Yachiru and spun her around for a while before telling her to throw her makeshift dart at any one of the thirteen annoying-ass bandits they'd lined (tied) up for her in a neat (comedic) little row.
He and Kurotsuchi-taichou did have a fight before, though everyone in the vicinity ran away in lieu of watching because they didn't want to choke to death under the thick, menacing reiatsu that had gathered around the two captains as they'd exchanged insults and prepared to fight.
No one knows what the ultimate outcome of the battle was, and no one really asks for fear of recreating the environment and having the two captains go at it again out of spite. Their fight is already legendary in the safety of people's own imaginations.
Yachiru, as the only witness to the battle, remembers it as one of the most interesting fights she'd ever seen. When Ken-chan hit Clown-chan, Clown-chan had exploded into a big puddle of gooey-goop and Ken-chan, upon seeing that, had laughed so hard he gave himself a stomachache and doubled over on the ground while Clown-chan sputtered and tried to pull himself back together. Neither of them ever spoke of it again.
To this day she insists that Ken-chan won that fight because he didn't turn into gooey-goop, but he can't ever deny or confirm her assertions because whenever he recalls that particular incident he always laughs so hard he sometimes chokes on his own spit.
13. Buried Treasure
He once roamed the countryside as a bounty hunter before becoming a shinigami—or at least, that's what some folks say—and rumor has it that he killed many a deadly foe for purely mercenary interests. They suspect that he's got a hidden hoard of treasure stored up somewhere, that he's kept his riches untouched for all this time for whatever reason, not even using it to improve the state of his band's clothes or means of travel through the vicious areas of Rukongai. "He's like a pirate," they say, "and he's buried his treasure somewhere only he knows."
They suspect the means to finding that rich fortune is stashed somewhere that's always nearby, perhaps even permanently on his person.
Little do they know—and neither Yumichika nor Ikkaku are going to say anything about the matter either way— but those folks are exactly right (in a manner of speaking). All the bounties Zaraki ever collected did indeed go towards building up a great and wonderful treasure.
Yachiru had a surprisingly happy childhood for all the traveling and violence they saw during their travels. She always had toys and food and warm clothes, and though she can't always remember the exact details about all of it, the ones who do can't help but think they—along the way—discovered the greatest riches in all the world.
Kenpachi in the meantime, still can't get over how fuckin' expensive diapers were.
Everyone but his men themselves is convinced he doesn't give a good goddamn about any of the shinigami under his command.
Ikkaku thinks that's fuckin' hilarious on account of the fact that he may be the only captain in all of seireitei who actually believes in his men enough not to worry about them.
Just because he doesn't have anything to be afraid of doesn't mean he doesn't care.
15. Protector of the Weak
Yachiru claims that Ken-chan once saved a cute little bunny rabbit from being eaten by a hawk because he's nice like that. Yumichika confirms that that indeed happened—much to Kenpachi's annoyance—though the fruitcake strategically neglects to let everyone else know that Zaraki had only ended up saving that bunny rabbit inadvertently. When he'd snatched that bewildered hawk outta the air he'd only been thinking about how it'd been a long damned time since any of them had eaten any chicken rather than wondering about why the hawk was in the middle of a swooping dive that put it well within his reach near the ground.
Yachiru insists that Ken-chan is a nice man. Yumichika likes being ambiguous, and agrees with her.
Kenpachi grunts at both of them and thinks that he only wanted some goddamned chicken.
They say he's indestructible—for the many years he's been captain of the eleventh division no one has seen anyone else draw blood from Zaraki because their powers have always ended up being insufficient. "He's not a normal shinigami," they murmured, and couldn't believe that he was strong enough to be hit with an attack and injure his attacker purely by the power of his own protective reiatsu.
Only those closest to him have ever seen his defense destroyed before, and to be fair, the attack that was required to achieve such a feat had been absolutely devastating.
Anyone would have lost to Yachiru's five-hour long barrage of "Please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please…" after all.
"They must have been infected by his aura."
It's the general consensus when people try to figure out why Zaraki has so many subordinates who are so strong and yet, still choose to stay under his command rather than branch out on their own into more highly ranked positions.
"He's brainwashed them with his monstrous reiatsu."
Yumichika of course, sees a general flaw in this logic as Ikkaku has no brain to have washed in any possible way while he, well… beautiful men can't be harmed by any old reiatsu as far as he's concerned. Especially ones they could potentially absorb like a delicious, energy-filled low-fat buffet if they wanted to.
"Why do you follow him?" more daring people ask the two of them sometimes, and Yumichika can't help but smile sweetly at the rather naïve inquiry.
"Why, because he loves small animals of course," the fifth chair says, facetiously.
"Because he kicked the crap outta me and didn't kill me," Ikkaku says, honestly.
No one believes either of them anyway.
18. A Demon
"He's clearly a monster," Tousen Kaname said one day, and Komamura sighed at that, because Iba and Shuuhei were both there to overhear. The larger captain didn't think they should promote any sort of disunity in the gotei-13 in front of their subordinates.
Especially because it had looked like Iba desperately wanted to say something to contradict Tousen-taichou right at that moment.
"Perhaps our philosophies just differ," Komamura offered instead, and Tousen turned towards him then, looking vaguely pained.
"A small difference maybe, but in the end, the type of thing that ends up causing senseless wars," he'd said ominously, but left the subject well enough alone from there.
Tousen Kaname believed that it was men like Zaraki Kenpachi who would eventually bring about the destruction of the world.
Lots of people agreed with the ninth division captain for a long time on that front, but when, in the end, Tousen ultimately proved himself to be the type who caused wars rather than Zaraki, all Kenpachi had to say about the blind captain on the matter was, "Who?"
No one was certain if he was being purposely obtuse or if he genuinely didn't know who they were talking about.
19. A Lone Wolf
People speculate that Zaraki killed Yachiru-chan's parents when she was a baby, which may or may not be true as no one really knows. But the reasons they suspect he kept her for vary from person to person, given that he doesn't really seem like the social type.
"He kept her for emergency food, clearly."
"To be sold into slavery, poor girl."
"To ransom off!"
"As a hostage!"
"She was obviously kept as an alibi—no one would believe a man with a cute little girl like that was a psychotic killer."
"Maybe he was going to raise her to become his bride!" Pause. "Eeuw."
And underneath all those wild ideas, the following is occasionally posed: "Maybe he was lonely."
Everyone always laughs at that possibility when it comes up, but then again, none of them really understand what it's like to not have anyone in the world there to call your name.
20. The Ultimate Mystery
Everyone's still trying to figure out why so many people are willing to die for this man.