“And Fenris is a youkai,” Rukia said, still not sure if she should be wary.
“Hanyou. We think. Hard to tell.” Ichigo shrugged again; trying for indifferent, but she could almost feel the awkward shyness rolling off him. “So. I said I’d help you with soul reaping. And I mean it. We’ve been trying to keep souls from turning into Hollows for years, and now-” He cut himself off, one hand touching where Sode no Shirayuki had plunged home. “I want to help. Even if it’s scary. I know scary. But….” He waved at the night. “I need time for them, too. Unless you want to try giving us a hand?”
Well. How could she back down from a challenge like that?
In two months, she’d learned more about youkai than in six years at the Academy. She’d learned the odd magic Loki had taught Ichigo’s friends; the way to claim a shape stronger, faster, tougher than a human’s, when you needed it to survive. A weakened shinigami in a gigai was so terribly vulnerable….
And she’d learned why, exactly, Karakura had recently been known as a quiet patrol area.
Mortals. Just mortals. But they’re helping us do our job.
She still hadn’t been looking forward to the reprimand on her record. But even if the penalties were harsh… her captain would be proud of her. And next to the Kuchiki house, where her own brother wouldn’t even look at her – how bad could a few decades of prison be?
It had been odd, how she hadn’t even felt surprised….
Don’t come, Ichigo, Rukia wished now, hands clenched together as she sat in her chair. You can’t help. You can’t. The captains themselves – my own captain – they’ll be ordered to destroy you. Don’t come!
The howl faded from the wind.