Author's Note: This started as a theory and sort of accidentally became short fiction. Oops?
Disclaimer: Bleach, Zaraki Kenpachi, Yachiru, and basically everything else may be someone else's property, but they sure ain't mine. Alas.
Rating: T for casual mauling.
Its Name Knows Him
Zaraki Kenpachi is resting.
He is not sleeping- not in the traditional sense, at least. The man is a monster, a demon, and such men do not permit themselves the release of true slumber. All the same, this strange, half-wakeful stillness is the closest that true unconsciousness can ever come to him- at least, without the intervention of severe physical trauma. So he lies on his mattress and closes his one exposed eye and remains motionless for hours at a stretch, but he does not sleep. He waits.
In his right hand, there is a sword.
Zaraki does not know his sword's name, but its shape is long familiar to him. The extended hilt, the close-cropped handguard, and even the nooks and crannies which sizzle across the blade edge have been his anonymous companions through years of warfare. The sword has tasted rare bloods- captains, ryoka- and bathed in the vitals of more plebeian opponents, and, nameless or not, it is his constant companion.
In his left hand, there is a girl.
He calls her Yachiru, a word that sprang into his mind full-formed as she grinned up at him from some long-lost battlefield. That moment gave him his name, as well, and the girl and the name have stayed with him through all the intervening years. She is his vice-captain, now, a death god in her own right- and she curls innocently in the crook of his arm, a bundle of pink hues scarcely larger than his head. Sleep comes easily to Yachiru, and she snores into his ragged captain's robe.
With softness on one side and steel on the other, Zaraki Kenpachi rests.
She dreams, sometimes, and the dreams are always the same. She is in a forest which stretches above and around her as far as her eyes reach, and for a moment the woods are quiet.
Then she hears him.
Awake, Yachiru's spiritual senses border on the nonexistent. Asleep, she feels Kenpachi's presence like the sun, its warmth beating against whichever side of her happens to face him. So she turns, skips into the woods with her deceptive speed, and finds him.
He never sees her, though. She makes sure of that. Yachiru does not know, but would not be surprised to learn, that this place is the inside of Zaraki Kenpachi's mind. In there, at his core, he has never left the wilds of Rukongai, and so his world prefers that shape to the constraining corridors of the Pure Courts. It is his most private place- so far as he cares about such things- and Yachiru feels it would be wrong, even for her, to visit him here. So she hides, content in the knowledge that he will never see her there, and watches.
Sometimes Kenpachi just sits, seeming to rest in here just as his massive frame reposes outside. Other times he fights, and the blur of his sword is nearly lost to view as it slices the phantom enemies who spawn from his memories and race to challenge him. She often sees familiar faces- Baldy Ikkakku is a frequent visitor, always finishing broken but alive, and orange-haired Icchy is a recent addition. These times, Yachiru sits and smiles, content to watch her demon-father laugh and slaughter.
Lately, though, Ken has done neither of these things, and this troubles her. He simply stands, glaring Cyclops-like at the heavens, and yells.
"TELL ME YOUR NAME!"
These times, she shrinks further into the bushes, not from fear of him but from fear for him. The woods ring with his bellowing for hours, sometimes, and she can do nothing but wait and shiver.
"WE'LL FIGHT TOGETHER, YOU AND I! WE'LL BECOME STRONGER- DON'T YOU WANT THAT? TELL ME YOUR NAME!"
Once she thought she heard him whisper, "Please," but that was unquestionably an illusion.
Yachiru knows he is not speaking to her- it is his sword, that twisted half-blade, whom he addresses. Still, she has to fight back the oddest urge- a desire to spring forward and cry Yachiru, Yachiru, my name is Yachiru, Ken-chan! Let's go! But she never does. Eventually, even Kenpachi's voice fails him, and the woods are silent again.
The sword never answers, either.
Any seated death god is expected to have met his sword. After all, from whom could he have learned his blade's name, if not the blade itself? As mastery improves, the vice-captains and above learn to draw out their soul slayer, forcing it to take form in their world, rather than they in its. Kurosaki Ichigo managed it for an instant, during his fight with Kenpachi, but that Zangetsu was invisible, a phantom. Even for Ichigo, it was possible to force a public materialization only through the genius of Urahara Kisuke- and the strain was enormous.
For a man to maintain such a materialization for years, even decades at a time is unthinkable. It would be exhausting. A death god who could do so unconsciously… he would have to be a monster.
To never realize that the entity beside him was a fragment of himself, he would have to be blind, as well.
And for the sword to be similarly clueless- improbable as that seems- well, it would have to be as blind as he was, wouldn't it?
Zaraki Kenpachi is resting. In his right hand, he holds a sword; in his left, a girl. Steel on one side and soft on the other, they sleep.
And every time Yachiru snores, the blade hums.