“You probably noticed Ichigo’s all grouchy,” Isshin stated. “It’s not your fault. Not really anybody’s fault. He’s just going to be cranky for a while.”
“Because he can’t help Rukia with the Hollows anymore?” Yuzu’s hands twisted together, nervous and sad.
“Kind of, yeah.”
Karin’s eyes narrowed. “How long until you knock him out of it?”
“Eh… he’ll get himself out of it,” Isshin waved her worry off. “Though it could take a few days. Or weeks. Or… well, if it’s more than a month, I’ll figure something out.”
“A month?” Loki groaned along with the girls. “It hasn’t been a day, and he’s already impossible. A month? Have you felt his magic? It’s quiet-”
“Too quiet,” the twins chorused with him.
Yuzu giggled at his face. Karin rolled her eyes, then bent a scowl on her father. “Loki’s right. Ichigo’s a bonfire. Right now it’s all… buried. It’s kind of freaky.”
“…Okay, now that’s freaky.”
“Ha! Not to worry, my darling daughters. Daddy has a plan-”
Karin tapped the toe of her sneakers on the clinic floor, tiny sparks of power crackling.
“Seriously. This is something your brother’s got to do himself.” Isshin looked over them all. “His powers are awake. He’s just got to find them.”
“Find them? You can’t lose the power in your own soul,” Loki objected. “Not without outside interference.”
“You can’t,” Isshin stated. “And I bet Ichigo’s sorcery works just fine. But a zanpakutou isn’t sorcery, kiddo. It’s alive. It’s got a mind of its own. And it wants to fight.”
Yuzu’s eyes widened, alarmed. Karin frowned, and looked a question at Loki.
Your guess is as good as mine… no. Wait. “It’s testing him?” Loki hazarded.
“A shinigami and his zanpakutou have to be partners,” Isshin nodded. “He’s got to want it.”
“Believe me, he does,” Loki said fervently. He would have expounded on that at length, if they had to put up with a month of Ichigo acting like a typical teenager he thought he might go mad….
But there was a rare stubborn look on Yuzu’s face, and instincts for self-preservation belatedly awoke. “Is something wrong?” he asked carefully.
“Every shinigami has a sword-spirit.” For once, Yuzu scowled at her father. “There’s someone in our family we’ve never even met?”
“Engetsu was hurt when I lost my powers.” Isshin gave her back look for serious look. “It would have hurt him more if I’d brought him out to meet you. But now… what do you think, partner?”
Shadows thickened, gathering into raven wings that unfurled to reveal a grinning man in purple robes, sword at his side and an odd ringed staff in his hand. “Kids!”
Karin blinked. Glared at her father. “Your sword’s a tengu?” She rolled her eyes at the ceiling. “Why am I not surprised?”