A/N: HOLY CRACK. I love saintalecto for requesting this (for the make-up fic bleach flashfic round on LiveJournal), it was certainly a challenge. XD I've discovered that I quite like Yachiru, and also that I quite like Byakuya when it comes to Yachiru. I hope you enjoy this weirdass dynamic as much as I did.
The first word he said to her was this: "No."
The second was also "No," as was the third, fourth and fifth.
Naturally, this led to Yachiru assuming that every answer out of his mouth ever was going to be the same, and so she stopped bothering to ask him anything unless she felt like pestering him. This was not unwise, as had she tried, the answers would all likely have been no anyway.
That was the kind of person Kuchiki Byakuya was-- he only ever said yes to a handful of people, maybe less, and the rest he didn't even listen to.
Unlike the vast majority of the occupants of the Court of Pure Souls, Kusajishi Yachiru understood that perfectly.
For that reason and that reason alone, he was not as irritated by her as everyone expected him to be. As long as she kept her awful singing at least six blocks from his earshot and never tried to touch his hair, he was perfectly capable of tolerating her.
It helped that he understood something about her that most of those selfsame people did not-- though she was tiny and offensively pink, the zanpakutou at her side was perfectly functional and she could do some fairly impressive damage if she ever set her mind to it. Thankfully she preferred playing pranks to putting people in the hospital, but the capability was still there and he did not forget.
They had a sort of unspoken agreement between them not to forget those things, since nobody else could seem to figure them out to begin with.
Yachiru aged so slowly that no one ever noticed. She went from being tiny and pink to being slightly less tiny but still pink, so they could hardly be blamed, but she felt obscurely depressed over it.
Ken-chan wouldn't notice burgeoning womanhood if it hit him in the face, unless it somehow managed to make a dent in which case he would enthusiastically beat it to a pulp, but out of perverse curiosity she still wanted to know if he was aware of it in her.
"How old do I look?" she demanded of Ken-chan the next day, suddenly deeply curious about the answer. How did the people around her see her? She hadn't cared overmuch before, but suddenly it seemed the most important thing in the world to know.
Ken-chan scrutinized her carefully for about ten seconds, then shrugged. "Hell if I know."
And that was it.
It was pure chance that the next person she ran into was Byakuya, but it made her happy nonetheless because now she could salve her pride with zero effort. "Bya-chaann," she drawled cutely.
"Do I look like a little girl to you?"
He looked at her for all of half a second. "Yes," he said indifferently, then turned and walked away.
Yachiru was thunderstruck. The first time in the decades she'd known him that he'd ever said yes to anything she'd asked him, and it had to be this question.
Suppressing her reiatsu to the maximum so he would think she'd run away in a huff, she snuck up behind him and bonked him soundly right on the weird hair-thingies, which miraculously did not shatter. "I do not," she snapped huffily, then ran away for real.
Someday, she vowed, she would show him and show him good. She was thirty-six years old. Just because she looked approximately nine was no excuse to treat her that way. Someday she would be full-grown and a knockout with big boobies like Matsumoto, and then he'd see, oh yes. And it would absolutely serve him right if she cut his hair in his sleep for being a jerk.
Byakuya was highly unsettled. For the half-moment he'd met her eyes after her question, he'd seen a glimpse of the terrifyingly bombastic, cheerful pink womanhood that lay in her future, and realized that she could easily take him on if she wanted to.
It was terrifying mostly because the likelihood of her coming after him with that intent was not zero.
It was hard to imagine her ever leaving the (relative) comfort of Kenpachi's shoulder, but not impossible. Eventually she would get curious about what else the world around her contained, and would leave his side to come searching for things to interest her.
God help him if he happened to be anywhere near her warpath when that happened.
He knew from observation that she thought something about him, something he was fairly sure was alarming, but he wasn't quite certain exactly what it was. It made him uneasy.
If he was perfectly honest with himself, Kusajishi Yachiru was one of approximately three people in the world he was truly frightened of. The overcaptain was the second, and Shihouin Yoruichi the third, the former because he had a death glare more formidable even than Byakuya's own, and the latter because she kept toying with the notion of marrying their houses together for kicks (and the thought of sharing a bed with her was deeply intimidating on every level).
Yachiru frightened him just because he could never seem to get an accurate estimate of just how dangerous she really was.
Some days she seemed downright harmless, flailing around but doing effectively zero damage beyond some spit-dampening some pates and denting some egos.
Other days, days when she did not smile, the reiatsu rippling off her made veins constrict in startled horror and lungs forget to breathe. When she concentrated, she moved so quickly that there was no one in Soul Society would could catch her, not even the petals of his Senbonzakura.
Most of the time she appeared silly and somewhat dense, as though the world she saw was drenched in rosy hues and contained nothing of blood or grief or warfare.
But sometimes, sometimes, she looked upwards and he could see the memories of Rukongai's darkest corners and the horrors she had seen there before (and after) finding Kenpachi. Kusajishi was a name hard-won by her survival in its vicious clawed embrace. There were days when this truth was closer to the surface than on others.
It was those days that she frightened him the least, because at least he knew what to expect then.
Though he would never ever admit it out loud, he privately thought that when she finally reached true womanhood decades from now, she would be a woman worth reckoning with.
"Bya-chaann," she called cutely. "Do I still look like a little girl?"
He turned to find a painted caricature of a face, lips (and most of the chin) sinfully scarlet, eyes brilliantly ringed in violet, cheeks ravaged with rouge.
He stared. "No," he said at last, "you look like a Hollow I met once."
"Was she cute?" Yachiru asked brightly, hopefully.
Byakuya resisted the urge to bite his lip. "No, he wasn't." In a split-second of prescience, he flash-stepped away from her faster than he thought he'd ever done.
He was just in time to escape the vicious blow from her still-sheathed zanpakutou, which cleaved the air right where his unprotected head had just been. "Bya-chan I hate you!" she yelled furiously, tears brimming in her clownishly painted eyes.
Byakuya suddenly felt oddly guilty. "Kusajishi-fukutaichou," he said formally from a rooftop a respectful distance away. "I think you look much nicer the way you are normally."
She brightened. "You mean I look okay usually? You don't think I look babyish?"
He sighed and admitted defeat. "No."
Letting out a whoop of delight, she vanished and reappeared at his side with frightening speed. "When I turn into a woman with big boobies like Matsumoto, will you marry me?"
Before he could even think to resist the urge, he bit his lip and looked down at her hopeful face. The vision of her future flashed before his eyes again, a small but vivacious woman with shining eyes and a sharp tongue. He almost said yes.
"No," he said instead with his usual indifferent tone.
She was not the least bit convinced, he could see from the gigantic smile that suddenly spread across her face. "Okay!" she said happily, then leapt up and planted a messy, uncomfortably wet kiss on his regal cheekbone, undoubtedly leaving behind a great deal of hooker-red lipstick.
Of the three people in the world he feared, she was at the top of the list because he knew it was not impossible for him to love her.
After Hisana, that was the most frightening thought he could ever summon up-- loving again.
Right now it seemed ridiculous as he watched her tiny girlish form skip off across the rooftops, beaming her grotesquely painted face to the world... but that vision of the future would not leave his mind, and he understood that it would not always be so. Someday she would come after him with the power to make a real case, and he really wasn't sure what he'd do in that event.
Yachiru grinned to herself.
Bya-chan always said no, but there were times when it meant no, times when it meant maybe, and times when it meant yes. This hadn't been the former, and that was enough to make her day completely.
She was going to be the prettiest woman in Soul Society, after all, so she would need a man who could match her. He was the only one pretty enough to do that. It was only natural, and she'd make sure he understood that thoroughly when the time came.
A/N: Oh Yachiru. XD