“The paperwork hasn’t been filed,” Ishida said plainly. “I’ll ensure it’s not.”
Hei tried not to visibly tense. Too easy.
“Because he’s my patient.” A hint of exasperation crept into Ishida’s tone. “I have some experience with being hunted. You may not be entirely human but you went to no little effort to make sure your associate would survive. I’m inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, even if your enemies are human.”
Yin tilted her head, likely trying to make out the blur of the doctor against the room’s lights. “You’ll help?”
“Within reason.” Ishida looked over them all. “If you do think you’ve been found, I’d like enough warning to keep my hospital out of the line of fire.”
A sane, rational, selfish request. Hei almost breathed a sigh of relief. They could work with this.
Whoever Ishida was, he had enough experience to feel the tension drop. The doctor nodded, and glanced at Mao. “An ikiryou is a living ghost. All or a portion of someone’s spirit sent out at a distance, for purposes that may be harmless or actively malevolent. You appear to be one that has detached completely from your body; which implies your original life is either in a coma, or dead.”
Mao tilted his head, whiskers one slow flick. “Explosions don’t leave much. And… interesting. I’d read about displaced spirits in folklore, years ago, but I didn’t know you had a word for them here.”
The way glasses gleamed, Ishida had just added that to whatever pieces of their puzzle he’d put together. “As for Keiyakusha… I’d never heard Contractors referred to until those explosions on the news last night. But I would say I am not one, simply because the traditions of training spiritual abilities I am familiar with generally do not have to train people not to kill. Rather the reverse. Sometimes an exorcist has no choice but to destroy a possessed body, but taking a life… it’s never easy.”
Hei traded a glance with Mao, and then a shocked Huang. If Ishida wasn’t lying-
Then he’s right. He’s not a Contractor.
So what is he?