A/N: Definitely don’t own Calvin & Hobbes. (Darn!)
The snow looked different this time.
Zangetsu raised an eyebrow, but let his footfalls crunch on it anyway. He was the visitor here. And he was going to be polite.
The circling white and ivory fins, slicing through the icy crust, almost made him change his mind.
He could have left. He could have attacked.
Zangetsu chose to laugh, instead. “Snow sharks? You’ve been in Ichigo’s comic books.”
“Why not?” drifted in the wind. “They seem quite effective.”
“I am certain they would be.” Ah; the echoes were confusing, but Zangetsu knew how to slice the wind. He ignored snow, ice, and fogs, and inclined his head toward this soul-scape’s owner. “It is good to see you.”
Loki stepped out of a veil of blowing snow. “What is your name?”
“That, I will first give to my shinigami,” Zangetsu said levelly. “Ossan will do.”
“Old man?” The sorcerer looked amused. “I could give you a hundred years for every one of yours, and still be your elder.”
“In a way,” Zangetsu mused, “I think you have.”
The moaning winds quieted. Not still, not quite; but Loki was listening to him. “Isshin said you were Ichigo’s sword-spirit. That you were born with him. You should be a child.”
“I was,” Zangetsu agreed. “I am not certain what happened. But….”
Patient as the drifts whispering past, Loki waited.
“Isshin’s companion tells me Masaki knew some of what he was,” Zangetsu stated. “What Ichigo might be. And what she wished most of all was to protect her son.”
“A dying wish,” Loki murmured. “Even from a powerless human, those may warp the very strands of fate.” Green eyes narrowed. “Yet she was not powerless, was she?”
“No,” Zangetsu shook his head. “She woke me, when I should have still been in slumber. She begged me to breathe, to act – to save him, and myself. And I tried. I tried. But I was still a child.” He sighed. “Then you came. And the power wrapped about you said, protect my son.”
“A resonance.” Loki stroked his jaw with a thumb, thinking. “We were both under similar enchantments. Ichigo had the power I needed to survive. And I… well.”
“You have centuries of experience discerning friend from foe, and improvising to survive them,” Zangetsu stated. “I do not know the events that formed your knowledge. But… I feel them.”
“So you are no longer a child.” Loki drew in a sharp breath. “Did I harm Ichigo?”
“Which would have been the greater hurt?” Zangetsu countered. “To feel sorrow and joy too soon? Or to know only the fear of what lurks in the dark, and be helpless to fight it?”