Ichigo was biting his lip. “Sometimes they don’t have chains.”
Ah. So there was reason for confusion. “Then how do you know they’re spirits?” Loki asked, trying to keep his tone simply curious. A little fear was good, spawning the caution that might keep the boy alive. Terror would shut down thought; and given what stalked these streets, that would kill Ichigo faster than any blade.
He drew a breath, seeing his hands fade back to Aesir-pale, warm again. He wasn’t sure if it was a relief.
“They feel scary. And sad.” Ichigo frowned. “And – they disappear, and I don’t see them anymore….” Staring out the shattered window, he went white.
Loki followed his gaze to the shimmer still slipping over ice, and bit back a curse. Most of what he could sense from out there was hunger and pain. But under that, like the echo of a half-forgotten melody….
Scary. And sad.
Unlike a certain son of Odin he could mention, there was obviously a working brain in Ichigo’s head. The boy had put two and two together, and now huddled close with his sisters as if he would protect them from the whole world.
…Which left him huddling oddly close to Loki, as Yuzu had taken the fading of jotunn-blue as license to snuggle. “You’re all right!” the girl gulped.
“Darn it!” Karin grumbled. “The blue was way cooler.”
…Oh gods. Bad puns ran in the family. Help.
“No it’s not!” Yuzu said fiercely. “He’s better this way.”
“Is not!” Karin shot back.
Loki eyed Ichigo. Who looked as bewildered as someone who’d had their favorite sword glued into their scabbard.
“He’s like a superhero!” Karin declared, obviously expecting this to win the argument.
Super-villain, to be precise, Loki thought dryly. I wonder if SHIELD has a file on me yet?
Yuzu looked about to burst into tears. “Mom was a hero! I don’t want anyone else to go away!”
“He’s not going away!” Ichigo said fiercely. “He’s gonna stay ‘til he gets better. Dad said so.” An impressive young scowl challenged Loki to deny it.
“It seems the wisest course,” Loki said judiciously. “For now.” He peered out into the gray street, worried; ice was melting at the edges, and he wasn’t sure how he’d managed to summon it in the first place-
A small black blur shot through the air, diamond-glints of claws slashing heat-shimmer like a hot knife through butter.
Gone. Only a cat, licking her paw before she sauntered off the road.