In the Cat’s Ear Ch3 Ficbit – Panic

The market door-jingle was a welcome distraction. Ichigo peered that way despite the intervening shelves, hoping to distract Li from imminent death by security camera embarrassment. Cats were distractible, right? Where was a laser pointer when he needed one?

Which made his mind grind to a halt with the image of Urahara, Yoruichi, and a laser pointer. Because Sandal-Hat so would.

“Hideyo?” A woman’s voice, not too old, wavering on the edge of shrill. “Hideyo, where are you?”

There was something seriously wrong with his life, Ichigo thought, already moving, that he could recognize terror and imminent panic from just five words.

But if there was something wrong with him, at least he wasn’t alone. That soundless presence was Li was right behind him, and Kirsi and Uncle Kuno had already stepped back from the bulletin board. Uncle Kuno in particular was giving the frazzled thirty-ish woman gripping the counter in front of Mrs. Sasajima an assessing look that had cop written all over it.

“He’s not here either?” The woman shook her head, stray black hairs flying from her neat bun. “I just looked away for a minute-!”

“Now, now, Mrs. Asao,” Mrs. Sasajima clicked her tongue, “I’m sure he just got distracted. You know that next door has that sale on the little transforming lion-robots-”

“I looked there first!” Mrs. Asao cut her off, knuckles paling. “I’ve looked all over the street! He’s not anywhere! I have to – I can’t-!”

“You have to sit down.” Rounding the counter, Mrs. Sasajima caught her by the shoulder. “Li! Get Mrs. Asao a cup of water.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Eyes wide, Li handed Ichigo the duffel.

Thankfully he’d handled it before when they climbed, so Ichigo knew to subtly get his center of mass underneath. The bag looked like it had maybe a change of clothes in it. Which it did. It also had a considerable heft from everything else Li had packed in, and Ichigo was kind of morbidly curious about how much of the wires and harness and who knew what else was actually legal.

Don’t ask. Can’t get in trouble if you don’t know, right?

And then Ichigo had to do a double-take, because Li’s hands actually shook handing Mrs. Sasajima the water, and he knew Li was cool and calm with the anticipation of trouble coming so how did he do that?

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23 thoughts on “In the Cat’s Ear Ch3 Ficbit – Panic

  1. So, simple lost, or kidnapping. And I infer Mao was in, and behaving funny. How much was soundlessly cuing Li that there was a problem?

    Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Despite my love of the “original” Voltron, when I take my Nostalgia Goggles off, I have to admit it… lacked depth. However, the recent Netflix reboot manages to capture the best of the original, while growing it up and adding depth, without going all “dark and edgy”, and also without going Full Cheesburger the way too many recent ’80s-mining remakes have done.
    (Although it still descends into slapstick humor more often than I’d like, but whatever, nobody’s perfect).

    As for Li’s hands shaking…while I doubt Li/Hei are an actual “split personality” situation, I strongly suspect a split self-image — Hei’s convinced himself that he’s a contractor who just happens to still have some tiny, residual emotions, and Li is just an act. And Li *really* feeling things (ref his comment about listening to Yuzu last snippet) is just part of the act. For verisimilitude. Really.

    (Yes, Hei, contractors lie. Have you ever considered you’ve been lying to *yourself*?)

    The Chinese Electric Batman meme becomes especially apt, when you get into some parts of the Batman mythos where he’s convinced himself that Batman is the “real” person, and Bruce Wayne is just a “mask”. Clark Kent, of course, sees this self-deception for what it is, which is why he’s able to put up with Bruce’s batty ways (heh), and World’s Finest comics sold so well. I wonder who might play Clark to Hei’s Batman…?

    At any rate, I imagine that “missing child” plus “distressed family member” pushes *buttons* that Hei’s never been able to disconnect. So he shunts all those distracting inputs to the Li.exe process so that Hei.exe can continue to run without any emotion-triggered non-maskable interrupts….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many buttons are being pushed here, yes. Ichigo’s own buttons are just starting to ratchet up, because missing kid in Karakura can have even more awful explanations than usual RL.

      *Nod* And pretty much; Hei thinks of Li as the “cover”, and the cover has to look real, right? So no problem “faking” feelings there. Poor guy.

      (Ichigo wants to figure out who’s responsible for that and beat them into the ground. Because Ichigo. 🙂 )

      Liked by 2 people

    2. There’s a reason I’m planning to channel David Drake some for the Hei fic. Though a different part of Drake from what I’m planning to channel for the Yuzu fic; I’m just gonna write her as someone with so strong a sense of responsibility that she’ll do stuff she’s not really ready for simply because it needs doing.

      Immediately after Bai’s disappearance, Hei is very far from finding the peace he has during season one.

      Batman is arguably something that was originally horror. A Drakean ‘Bruce Wayne died that day’ coping mechanism is a legitimate choice for a writer of Batman.

      I’d also defend it as a legitimate option for writing Hei. I think not quite what I want to do with Hei.

      Bunnies today were a wee bit obnoxious. Sarah’s running her ‘how to write a short story’ material at PJ Media, and I may have it easier finding the time to write shorts right now. Don’t want to use Yuzu or Hei settings for shorts before I get the main stories written, because I may need the flexibility. So the bunnies gave me “what if the space Bakumatsu gets interrupted by Minaka’s sekirei plan?” Still nothing usable for a short.

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  3. On the bit of levity that started this snippet?

    At first I thought, “well Ichigo knows what to get Urahara for Christmas.” Then my mind went other places, and had that gift being delivered to Soi Fong.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The fact that she probably wouldn’t dare is a good half the reason Uruhara would probably send it to her anonymously as a birthday or other holiday gift.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Because Sandal-Hat so would.

    At least once.

    Knowing very well that he will pay for this.

    It also had a considerable heft from everything else Li had packed in . . .

    Can give one a new appreciation for how fast Hei can move seeing how much that weighs. Probably not heavy-heavy but if Ichigo needs to shift his center of mass underneath it, it has got some heft to it.

    Can’t get in trouble if you don’t know, right?

    Oh you can get into a lot of trouble for what you don’t know.

    Ignorance is not always considered a viable defense. Especially when the powers that be don’t believe you were ignorant.

    And then Ichigo had to do a double-take, because Li’s hands actually shook handing Mrs. Sasajima the water

    Triggered a flash-back?

    It’s trouble of the “I can’t kill it” variety?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I headcanon Urahara has used the Red Dot on Yoruichi more than once. And yes, he has paid in blood.

      *G* Not heavy-heavy, no – but more serious than it looks. Which Ichigo thinks is Li all over.

      Ignorance is no excuse, no. Ichigo is an optimist?

      “Missing kid” is not a good headspace for Hei, no. After all – he and Bai were missing kids for a while. And then the Syndicate got them, and things went from bad to worse.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I headcanon Urahara has used the Red Dot on Yoruichi more than once. And yes, he has paid in blood.

        Headcanon accepted!

        I submit that Urahara’s response is always “Worth it! Totally worth it!” for after the beating and “I regret nothing!” when Yoruichi realizes that he got her with the Red Dot. Again.

        . . . and things went from bad to worse

        Yep. *wince*

        Very much out of the frying pan and into the fire.

        Liked by 2 people

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