Oh, this was going to be fun. Pulling his fist out, Hei opened his hand to display two earpieces with mikes.
Always have a backup.
Ichigo blinked, open-mouthed. “…Are those what I think they are?”
“It’s safe,” Hei assured him. “We’ve always checked our equipment for tracers. And our employers were too smart to put tracers on them in the first place. Anything you can track, can be tracked back.” Now he did smile, wry and dark. “The last thing they wanted was for me to know where to find them.”
“Um.” Ichigo didn’t pale. Just straightened, serious and interested. “What did you do-?”
“I was the one they sent when people defected.”
Ichigo blinked. Held that teenage scowl through what had to be a monumental effort of will, for almost ten seconds.
Gave up, and snickered.
Hei let him get it out. It was funny. “Here.” He lifted his own comm to his ear. “This is how you put it on.”
And suddenly he had to catch his breath, because the teenager trusted him enough to mimic him. Even when the earpiece pinched. It had to be secure. The last thing an operative needed was comms cutting out because they’d fallen off when another Contractor’s air-blast sent you through a nearby wall.
Hei watched Ichigo finish. Held up empty hands a moment, then reached over to check the comm really was secure. Nodded, and stepped back. “Comms.”
“Check,” Huang’s growl came over the line.
“Check,” Yin said quietly.
Ichigo took a deep breath. “Check.”
All voices came in clear. Good. Right now Mao was lurking somewhere near the market, ready to break into the net with a warning if a Hollow headed for Yin. And Huang did have a burner phone, with Dr. Ishida on speed-dial. They were as prepared as they could be. “Location?”
“Not on this street,” Yin stated. “Expanding radius.”
“How far can a kid get in a few minutes?” Ichigo muttered.
“More like half an hour, my guess.” Huang’s words were low, but clear, even as the murmur of other voices came through in the background. “Takes a while to admit your kid’s gone.”