“Don’t you worry about your brother.” Engetsu’s grin wasn’t quite Isshin’s; more serious, and yet more reckless. “His partner’s already yelling at him. Give him another day or two. They’ll work it out.” He slanted a look at the girls. “’Course, that means you’re going to have to share him. Shinigami protect. You think he’s bad looking after the youkai now….”
“We’ll have to sit on him so he gets some sleep,” Karin said dryly. Smiled, in one of the best Sibling Being Evil expressions Loki had seen outside of a mirror. “Or we could get Rukia to sit on him.”
“Karin!” Yuzu protested.
“That’s the spirit!” Isshin gave his dark-haired daughter two thumbs up, echoed by Engetsu’s raven-cackle. “Grandkids!”
“Isshin!” Loki sputtered, trading a long-suffering look with Yuzu. The man was shameless. “He’s barely sixteen.”
“You never know how much time you’ll have.” Old sorrow darkened Isshin’s eyes, before he shooed them all toward the door. “Ichigo’s going to need some quiet to figure it out. Who wants ice cream?”
“You, too?” Loki arched an eyebrow at the cheering tengu.
“It’s Karakura.” Engetsu chuckled. “You think anybody’s even going to notice?”
Okay. Enough of this.
Ichigo lay back on his bed, scowl firmly in place. Kon was out of sight under his desk, quiet except for the rustle of pages and a few salacious snickers. Loki was oddly absent; clinic or seminars, Ichigo wasn’t sure. The girls were downstairs putting together a project for class, with the odd groan drifting upstairs as Isshin helped.
The silence from his closet was deafening.
She’s out there. Hunting the Hollows, with Uryuu and everybody.
I should be out there.
:Come and find me.:
Ichigo slammed his head back into the pillow, wondering if there was a way to go deaf inside your own head. It’d started as a faint whisper, tickling his spine in the darkness of that awful night he’d given up Rukia’s powers. It’d escalated with every sight of the waxing moon, until now it drummed loud as his own heartbeat.
:Come and find me. Come and find me. Come and find me, Ichigo, I want to fight!:
“Makes two of us,” Ichigo growled under his breath. “You want a fight?”
Oh, this was a bad idea. Everything Loki had ever taught him said playing with magic when you were pissed was stupid–
Rukia’s gone. Most of my power’s gone. Even shifting hurts. My friends, ‘Miji, all the Karakura youkai – they need me. And I’m not there.
You want a fight, old man? You’re going to get one.
A quick breath, and the world fell away.