Title: Nii-sama Anew
Pairings/Characters: Kuchiki Byakuya, mentions of Kusajishi Yachiru, Zaraki Kenpachi, and a few others
Spoilers: Maybe a few for the omakes, but that’s all I can think of
Word Count: 1316
Prompt: Byakuya, no yaoi
Written for: January Birthday Contest - Byakuya Fanfic Cate atbleachness
Description: What does it take to change a man?
a/n: Sorry Adam, I tried to get my Kenpachi/Unohana one done on time, but it just isn’t going to happen.
It was amazing what one little person could do to your life. He’d hated the snow. Even when he was small, it was more nuisance than amusement. It was wet, cold, and never failed to put creases and stains in his otherwise pristine uniform. Then along came one little pink- haired terror and Byakuya’s life flipped upside down.
Now here he stood, willingly watching Yachiru frolic in the snow. She ran by squealing in joy and pelting Renji with a snowball every so often when his guard was down. Rukia was busy making another ice rink, since the last one had been torn to shreds when Yachiru had tried to teach Zaraki how to ice skate. It had been rather humorous. Even with Byakuya’s years of practice keeping a straight face, it’d been a herculean effort not to crack a smile.
No one had been shocked when, on the sixth fall, Zaraki had taken his nameless zanpakutō to the ice, beating it into submission. Byakuya had been truly impressed that Zaraki had shown even that much patience with the absurdity of the moment. It was just another testament to Yachiru’s power over everyone who loved her.
There was no doubt either, Byakuya did love her. Yachiru was the daughter he’d never have. Unfortunately, he had to share that honor with Zaraki, whose presence most days he simply endured. He’d come to realize that she needed both of them as parental figures for different reasons. Byakuya would never feel comfortable teaching such a small child the stark brutality of battling hollows. Yet, Zaraki managed it with little fanfare and a seemingly bottomless amount of patience, something that earned him Byakuya’s very grudging respect and a bit of admiration. Even their sparring matches, as rough and tumble as they seemed, were obviously something Yachiru delighted in.
The first time Byakuya watched them spar with live blades he’d felt an unaccustomed spike of terror. Fortunately, it immediately became apparent to his trained eye that Zaraki, though rough around the edges, was a master swordsman. There would be no injuries to Yachiru, and the injuries to Zaraki were designed to teach Yachiru what happened when a fighter let his guard down. Besides, Byakuya was of the opinion that Zaraki took pride in every slash and nick Yachiru inflicted upon him. It was a twisted sort of affection between the two, but it seemed to work for them, which Byakuya supposed was what was most important.
For his own part in Yachiru’s life, Byakuya had to admit it’d taken a while to understand it. At first, her invasions into his household and personal space had caused him nothing but irritation and a fair bit of horror, though he was loath to admit that even to himself.
The meetings of the Shinigami Women’s Association were insufferable, but after repeated attempts to block them, Byakuya decided that ignoring them was the better part of valor. Even the missing fish from his garden ponds were stoically disregarded. Thankfully, Ukitake was gracious enough to return most of the very costly koi.
It was when Yachiru began to illustrate his walls at random intervals that he nearly lost all his composure. Byakuya’s staff was far from over worked, since he was the sole noble occupant and away from the mansion most of his time. With Yachiru’s appearance, however, many of his servants took on supplementary duties of washing and repainting the walls, and even cleaning up broken decorations and furniture.
When he’d discovered that he could keep her visits limited if he plied her with enough candy, Byakuya had begun stocking up on the distasteful stuff. The more he gave her, the less she visited. Then suddenly one day, he realized he missed Yachiru. He missed the childish drawings. Byakuya even missed seeing some hideous heirloom smashed to pieces.
It was about that time he got a visit from a very disgruntled and harried Zaraki. The tirade about Yachiru and too much candy was closely followed by a challenge to a duel and death threats. Byakuya would’ve scoffed, except it wouldn’t do to show such emotion to anyone, especially the most vulgar of his colleagues.
At first, Byakuya had told himself he’d simply taken pity on Zaraki, but even then he’d known he was deluding himself. Watching as Yachiru shrieked and dashed after Renji, once again burying him in the excess snow Rukia had made for her, Byakuya finally admitted to himself that he’d cut back on the candy just so she’d visit his home more often.
Byakuya had set aside a room for her, with sturdy furniture and blank white walls, perfect for all the illustrations she loved to gift him with. A special tea set he’d had made in the living world to be nearly indestructible was a cherished gift they both enjoyed in that room.
After that, each time she visited, she’d paint or draw him some indecipherable scene that he found inexplicably beautiful. The first time he’d had that room painted over to provide Yachiru with a new canvas, it’d nearly broken his heart. It was a difficult decision, but the next time the room was in need of repainting, Byakuya had embarrassedly asked Rukia to take pictures of the walls with the camera from the SWA.
Her startled look had not reassured him, but Byakuya was determined not to ask for her silence. It wouldn’t do to add more tension and secrets in his household. A week later, a small scrapbook with the first of many pictures of Yachiru’s room had shown up on his desk in the Kuchiki manor, with no fanfare. It seemed the women in his life were determined to make their mark on him in some enigmatic way. Each passing year brought small, but welcome changes to his person and his household, and he’d found a way to be grateful for every single one.
Watching Rukia finally finish the ice rink made him want to smile. She’d taken to Yachiru’s visits and requests like an indulgent older sister. It made his heart ache for Hisana and all she missed, but Byakuya knew she’d finally be happy for him. He no longer walled himself off from the world; instead, with the help of some other remarkable women, he was living again. Standing in the snow with a warm expression on his face had to be the biggest indication of his change.
Byakuya watched as Yachiru made another snowman. Like her drawings, they were difficult to decipher and unique. When Rukia gave her a hand they tended to all look a bit like rabbits, though this one seemed to have orange spikes on its head rather than ears. It was then Byakuya realized he couldn’t see Kurosaki anymore. That thought briefly changed the gentle upturn of his lips into a rare smile.
Looking around at the directed chaos, Byakuya realized he’d inadvertently created one of the most outlandish families in the history of Seireitei. To be sure, it was definitely the most eccentric of any Kuchiki family, but he no longer concerned himself with such inconsequential matters. Instead, he simply enjoyed the laughter and sight of his unconventional family at play.
What did he bring to Yachiru’s education? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Either way it was no longer relevant. She was as much a part of Byakuya’s family as the rest of the reprobates running around out there in the snow. Furthermore, he loved her. As she ran by squealing and cheering, he snatched her up into his arms on the pretense of scolding her, when really all he wanted to do was hug her. Instead, he patted her on the head and asked her to let Kurosaki out of his ice prison before the idiot froze to death and joined them permanently. Byakuya didn’t think he could handle that just yet.
One step at a time.