“It changes everything,” Hei said quietly, feeling that wince in his own soul. “Because then you have to think. As long as they’re all monsters, everything’s easy. Fight and survive. Nothing else matters. But if they’re not? If some of them might not want to fight, if you could just talk? It breaks… everything.” He had to look away. “Why didn’t they just tell me?”
“Ah.” Mao’s voice was very dry. “Haven’t you figured that out? If your files are accurate, you were Bai’s bodyguard. And Amber’s, half the time. It wouldn’t be rational for those two to tell you Contractors could feel. The Black Reaper might hesitate.”
“Cat,” Huang warned.
“No. It makes sense,” Hei admitted. “Bai didn’t trust anyone else to watch over her.”
“Wait a minute,” Ichigo was muttering, elbows propped on the table. “Wait, just – no, this makes no sense. If you’re a Contractor why would anyone have to tell you, and-” He choked. Eyed Ryuuken. “Long-term possession.”
“I don’t know all the details,” the doctor stated. “And what I do know, I will not mention without explicit permission.”
Ichigo swallowed, looking at Hei. “It’s bad?”
What do I tell him? What should I tell him?
…I don’t want to lie.
“Yes,” Hei admitted. “It’s bad.”
“My Messier code is BK-201.” Hei pointed up and slightly north, face cold as it’d been hunting the Yakuza. “That one.”
Ichigo craned his head back enough to see the first glimmer through sunset, mind racing. What was it like to feel a star? Or, well, something that at least looked like one.
“If you hear it mentioned by someone besides Section Four, run,” Hei advised. “The people who know that code know it’s one of the early Contractors; the star appeared less than two weeks after the Gates. Ten years of experience means a very dangerous power, or a skilled survivor. Usually both.” He took a breath. “But I’ve only been BK-201 for five years.”