Rukia had always seen konsou from the viewpoint of a shinigami. From knowing what would happen next, and hoping somehow it would still come out right for a lost soul.
Two years. If Ichigo’s heard him, watched him…. “You saw his chain of fate pulling away.”
“Told you. I see ghosts, Rukia. Have for as long as I can remember.” Ichigo shrugged, looking away. “I try to help them figure out what they need to do to pass on. And… I figure out where all the bound ghosts are. So if they don’t pass on-” He ducked his head, as if falling dust were the most interesting sight ever. “I couldn’t fight that guy at the clinic. You saw.”
Rukia swallowed. “You knew this soul was going to Hollow.”
“Eventually. Yeah.” Ichigo still wouldn’t look at her. “Kind of like watching a car wreck.” Another, formless shrug. “Drives you a little bit crazy.”
I never thought about it.
She knew how souls suffered in Rukongai. What it took to fight your way out of the slums, struggle through the Academy, and try to exist in a noble family where her so-called brother wouldn’t even look at her.
But the living also suffer.
She’d trained at the Academy to protect souls from Hollows. To do something about the monsters that had stolen Kaien and Miyako from her life. Yet so long as she had her zanpakutou and kidou, she could fight.
Ichigo could only watch souls crumble.
She straightened, violet eyes meeting brown. “Are there other earthbound souls in Karakura?”
“I know a few.” His scowl softened. “Rukia?”
She raised a curious brow.
Another day, another dozen emergencies. Loki downed a cup of strong tea, stalking over to the window of the tiny staff lounge in Karakura General for some bracing sunlight. Ordinarily he could take back-to-back shifts interning under Ryuuken and assisting at Isshin’s clinic; jotunn stamina outlasted the merely human any day of the week. But after that fiasco last night, with Ichigo, a Hollow, and a shinigami all tangled up in blood before he could get home and stop them-
Sunlight glinted off steel, laced with the aura of Ichigo’s power.
But Ichigo’s at school…. Oh. My. Gods.
Grinning like a wolf cub with his first kill, a black-robed Ichigo waved at him from the roof of the office building opposite the hospital. Gave him a thumbs-up, and drew runes on air with a blue flicker of power.
“Got the idiot stuck to Akasuki Hospital. Going to try to hit a few more before I get back to school. Talk later!”
Walking in behind Loki, Ryuuken choked. “Is that-?”
“It is,” Loki said dryly, absently charging a levin-bolt between his fingers as Ichigo picked up a slight, dark-haired form. The boy was fifteen; he was mortal, mostly….
And he was currently running around without his body. Of course.
I need to put a location spell on his soul, not just his body. Wonderful.
“And that girl!” Ryuuken’s eyes narrowed, icy chips behind glass, as Ichigo dashed away.
“The shinigami Urahara swore he’d take care of. Yes.” Loki’s own eyes narrowed. Gray skirt, white blouse, red tie – he knew that uniform. “Since when did take care of mean put in Ichigo’s school?”
Cursing under his breath, Ryuuken picked up the phone.
“Hello, my valued customer!”
“Urahara,” Loki and Ryuuken growled as one.
“Um. I can explain?”
“Ichigo is running around Karakura dressed as a shinigami,” Loki said dryly.
“You put a shinigami in my Quincy son’s classroom,” Ryuuken bit out.
“…It seemed like a good idea at the time?”