Ichigo stopped in the middle of the canned soups and noodles, brain spinning to a screeching halt. “You!”
Jacket discarded for one of the mart’s green aprons over jeans and a white buttoned shirt, Li blinked at him, hands still working to stock the shelves. “Kurosaki. Hi! Did you find any new climbing spots?”
This was not happening. Not happening. How was this even his life? “What are you doing here?”
“Um….” Li looked down at the package of spiced noodles in hand. “Restocking the beef ramen?”
Ichigo was not going to slam his head into the shelves. Mrs. Sasajima who ran the place was old, sweet, sometimes terrifying to would-be shoplifters, and probably completely innocent. He’d hate to make more work for her. “You… have a job.”
“I have a couple,” Li agreed, as if that were a completely normal thing to ask the guy you’d met on top of a construction site. “All part-time. We’ll see which ones work out.”
Okay, scratch his wild theory that Li was another escapee from Soul Society in a gigai. Outside of Urahara and his dad, Ichigo hadn’t met a shinigami yet who could hack normal society’s nine to five. And neither had those two, come to think; they’d each made their own jobs. “You have a job and you don’t have a phone?”
“It’s hard for a foreigner to get one in a hurry,” Li said easily. “Can I help you with anything?”
“Um… no, I come here a lot….”
Words ran dry, and Ichigo bit his lip. Any second now, Li was going to pounce, and talk to him, and he was just so tired sometimes.
Any second now.
Silence, broken only by the soft shfff of plastic on plastic as Li transferred noodles from box to shelf. Blue eyes glanced at him, curious – but only a glance. Not a look askance. Not a measuring stare.
He’s just… checking that I’m still here. Checking if I want to talk.
Quiet, deadly patience. It made Ichigo homesick with the memory of a tattered black coat, long hair blowing in the wind of sideways skyscrapers.
A/N: Ichigo is a Weirdness Magnet. Of course one of Li’s jobs will be where he goes shopping….