In the Cat’s Ear Ch4 Ficbit – Scenarios

Then Hei’s words hit, and Ichigo froze.

I pulled us out.

Like it’d been another mission. When Ichigo knew Hollows. Knew how they fought, what they wanted, how they hungered. He’d gone to the Vizards and demanded help not so much for himself, though he’d been terrified, but for his sisters.

A Hollow’s first target was family.

His sister became a Contractor, and she killed – god, who knows. Their parents? Anyone else there? The whole damn neighborhood? Hei can do lightning bolts; a Hollow with that power wouldn’t have held back. And Hei – Tian – he picked up the thing that killed their parents and ran….

And the worst of it was Ichigo couldn’t blame Hei at all. If Karin had changed one day, and he hadn’t know about Hollows… oh hell, even now, knowing all he knew, he’d have done the exact same thing. Because Karin was his sister. And big brothers protected their little sisters. Always.

Only he’d have tied her up and run straight to Urahara. Because if anyone on the face of the planet could fix a mess like that, Sandal-Hat would.

Tian hadn’t had an exiled shinigami to run to. Just his own wits, and barely-teenage guts. Against a living monster.

Wait. That doesn’t make sense. “How are you alive?” Ichigo demanded.

“All Contracts have their price,” Hei shrugged. “She needed to sleep. I watched over her. She knew I would.”

Chalk one up for Ryuuken, Ichigo thought, trying to ignore his goose-bumps. Living Arrancar was right. A Hollow wouldn’t have been able to think that far ahead.

“The Syndicate found us a few months later.”

“A few months?” Mao’s ears went up. “How did you keep the body count that low?”

“Arguing. Rationally.” Hei didn’t blink. “I told her, leaving bodies in the street made it harder to keep her safe.”


38 thoughts on “In the Cat’s Ear Ch4 Ficbit – Scenarios

  1. Its interesting that Ichigo defaults to thinking about Karin when thinking about what happened to Tian and Bai. Does he just not believe that Yuzu could do anything that bad?

    I love these snippits; they help me wake up for the day and boost my mood before class. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Honestly I tried to picture the twins Hollowed after this comment (the whole ‘don’t think about purple elephants’ thing), and it was pretty scary.

        Karin as a Hollow mostly looks like Hollow Ichigo, though a little smarter and a little more likely to obviously toy with opponents than Ichigo – even Hollow Ichigo.

        Imagining Yuzu meanwhile all I can picture are those creepy as hell characters whose affect is still all smiles and kindness as they brutally torture and destroy people. …Yeah, no offense to Karin or Ichigo but Hollow Yuzu’s scarier.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. So does that mean you don’t want to see Vizard Yuzu in that fic of mine that is on the backburner? XD

        Come to the dark side, we have Soul Cakes. (Kingdom Hearts, Hollow Bait Incident breaks the World, Yuzu manages to escape thanks to a Keyblade. One of the other Worlds is Discworld, complete with the Soul Cake Duck. Things do get fixed.)

        Liked by 3 people

    1. The fact that he’s even still alive when most new Contractors’ reaction to “Don’t kill X” is, canon, “But why not?”

      Yes. Hei is very scary. Not because of his physical skills so much as the fact that he obviously had to weigh his actions in every moment and pick the one that would work.

      And even before that – the mental toughness for a barely-teenager to get beyond “This can’t be happening!” to “This IS happening, I don’t know why, I have to deal with it.

      Hei’s nerves are made of bleeping titanium.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I second Insert Witty Name. Horrifying. Tian took the unsuspected monster *with him*. If he had been in a splatter film instead of psychological horror, or if Bai was as dumb as most contractors…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fortunately smarts seem to have run in the family.

      And yes. Heck, that’s probably part of why Hei was so willing to believe he’d become a Contractor later. Every death Bai caused could theoretically be laid on his head, because he was the guy who protected the monster.

      Who was his little sister. Whom he loved.

      The guilt has to be awful.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The guilt has to be awful.

        Yes . . . and a very good reason to want to believe as hard as he could that he was a Contractor. Because Contractors don’t feel guilt. They do not hurt that way and he was tired, so very tired, of hurting like that.

        Hei has probably more numbed / bottled his emotions about all of this than dealt with them. It’s going to be ugly when either his brain cannot keep bottling and has to let some of that out . . . or he finally feels safe enough for his brain to decide NOW is the time to start processing this.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thing is, there are psychological abnormalities that are not sociopathy, and aren’t pathological, that might be a possibility for Hei, and might mislead him.

        I’m reminded of some things Ringo said on Baen’s Bar, back in the day, about the March books. One thing in particular was combat fatigue immunity. The WWII statistics is that the vast majority will cease being able to function in combat after a couple hundred or so days of intense combat. But there are people that this doesn’t seem to apply to.

        Canon Hei has most of his experience with Contractors and civilian non-combatants. Canon Darker than Black is a relatively peaceful world, Brazil was pretty bad, but the world wide level of pitched combat might be at the expected value for the nineties. Canon Hei would not have known anyone who successfully transitioned from the battlefield to a peaceful civilian life. Yes, he would have known a few veterans of serious combat, but he would not have known them also on the battlefield.

        Surviving Bai would have selected for developed of traits that pitched combat also does. But canon Hei lives in a world where there isn’t really enough pitched combat for very many people to have developed that way, and Hei doesn’t know them. A false positive self evaluation as a Contractor is rational.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Or as Tsuki-llama pointed out in some ANs on their AO3 fics, nobody goes from nice young kid to skilled and deadly assassin if the base talents aren’t there in the first place.

        My headcanon is that Hei is, indeed, one of those “highly resistant to combat fatigue/capable of high aggression when necessary” types of people. He honestly and sincerely would rather be a nice, sweet guy who never hurt a fly. But… while he’s definitely sweet, compassionate, and careful about collateral damage, he is not nice.

        Huang’s no slouch there either, given trained sniper and ex-detective.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Woof. The most terrifying bit? Bai not killing Tian. That’s. Yes she did need someone to keep her safe, but how did she know about Renumeration at that point? And then Tian leveraged her need of his protection to keep everyone else around them safe. He was his own hostage.

    Just, so much of their story at the beginning doesn’t make sense. Mostly how Tian got missed, because until the first time she fell asleep, I don’t think she’s know she needed protection. Unless she got hit with her Renumeration before she got to him…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Remunerations seem to come with psychological compulsion. She probably knew that something in her mind was forcing her to sleep before she lost consciousness. Actually, she probably had awareness while forced to lie down /before/ she went to sleep. Otherwise, she’d have eventually ended up killed because of a bad fall from a standing position.

      There’s also some question why, of all the ways she could kill someone with her power, she found it enough easier to use electricity that she assumed that it simply was how her power worked?

      Presume that there is a serious learning curve with her power. She started out ignorant, and maybe first used it all the ways. The electricity had obvious, lethal effects, and they knew what it was. So they noticed that, she trained to use electricity, and the effects of learning not to do the other things were conflated the effects of learning to kill people more efficiently with electricity.

      So, she kills her parents, and because she doesn’t know how to use her power, it is time for a nap, and Tian has taken her away and hidden her.

      Her remuneration raises some interesting questions. Killing people, adrenaline, then sleep. How does she remember how she killed people well enough to learn? Might there be something odd about her sleep states? Xing may have processed the results of that first killing while asleep, then figured out the rest when she woke up and hadn’t been killed by Tian.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Come to think of it, early on, the Syndicate might not have known much about training Contractors to kill fewer people.

    I wonder if Hei might have known, briefly, a lot of psychopaths early on, and few November 11s, or even Ambers.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. A Hollow’s first target was family.

    The similiarities are eerie. And probably NOT a concidence.

    And big brothers protected their little sisters. Always.

    Even if they get turned into a monster.

    Maybe especially if they got TURNED into a monster because, often, people don’t ask for that. Someone just does that TO them.

    And maybe some part of you hopes you can find a way to either turn them back or make it better in some other way.

    Because if anyone on the face of the planet could fix a mess like that, Sandal-Hat would.

    And knowing Urahara, whatever he came up with, would WORK.

    It wouldn’t be fun.

    It wouldn’t be sane.

    But it would work.

    “A few months?” Mao’s ears went up.

    The first time The Team is hearing some of this as well, huh?

    “Arguing. Rationally.” Hei didn’t blink.

    “It was good practice.”

    Because he was going to be doing that A LOT in the future and not just with Bai.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Because he was going to be doing that A LOT in the future and not just with Bai.

      That’s why the year spent, among other things, sheparding baby Contractors, and steering them away from a life of murdering people or organized crime, would work so well.

      I haven’t found much in the way of awesome plot for recent SAO/DtB plot bunnies. One reason is that setting Hei to /irrational/ psychopath whispering isn’t as good a match for his skill sets. (Another is that I hadn’t found anything that he cares about in the current plan for the mess.)

      Liked by 2 people

    2. What the bunnies really liked here is, Ichigo saw what happened with Sora and Orihime. He has direct experience of how someone can become a monster and it’s not their fault. Most people have no mental framework to hang “and then someone was a Contractor and killing people” on; they just go with “monster!” Ichigo, in contrast, has seen that even monsters deserve to be saved. Stopped, yes, but saved.

      Heh. The team hasn’t heard most of this. Mao knew about Hei’s sister only from his Syndicate files.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sora and Orihime also taught him that the Shinigami don’t make it to every soul to konso them before they are attacked by Hollows.

        Through Sora did mention hanging around after his death for a while before he was attacked . . .

        I cannot figure out if the Gotei 13 just hasn’t been handling things as competently as they should or they are chronically and criticially understaffed, some combination of both (likely with Aizen either creating the mess or making the existing mess even worse) . . . or it is just a case of that there is just too many souls. At full capicity, competently run and organized and they would STILL miss people because there is just too much space and too many people to watch everyone and everywhere.

        Or all three. They are understaffed, there is incompetence, and there is just too much for any organization to stay 100% on top of.

        But the bunnies do like the idea that the Gotei 13 HAS been better at their jobs than they have been lately. But with Aizen messing things up for a 100+ AND who knows who else has been making a mess of things.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. because the noble attitudes mean they don’t often go actively looking for candidates among commoners.

        Spirits preserve us from hide-bound idiots who ignore the elephant in the world because it doesn’t match their internal narrative.

        Anyone not noble has to show up at the Academy to even be considered.

        And many of the commoners avoid approaching too near the Seireitai where the Academy is.

        Which pretty much restricts recruits to people who gather up enough pluck to overcome that hesitation, just don’t care (Zaraki), or are desperate.

        And that’s if they even try. Most souls seem to assume they don’t have the power . . . granted, most of them are right about that. But many of the ones we know are from the Rokungai stated that they didn’t know why they were hungry, etc, all the time until a random patrolling Shinigami told them why. And in Hitsugaya’s case, very strongly encouraged him to go to the Academy (because he had gotten powerful enough to start hurting ordinary souls with his power).

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Look at the lead time on a powerful Shinigami. Look at world population growth numbers. That’s something that could produce an organizational problem growing over centuries.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. That’s something that could produce an organizational problem growing over centuries.

        True enough.

        Bunnies agree that is probably the MAIN actual issue is that the world’s population grew much faster than they can produce enough Shinigami, let alone powerful Shinigami.

        But they also note that it would not be out of character for Aizen or some other force to make that problem worse.

        Arguably Aizen did make it worse – look how many powerful Shinigami the Gotei 13 lost as result of his actions. All of the Vizard were either Captains or Lieutenants. Tessai was Captain of the Kido Corp. Yoruichi was Captain of the Demon Arts Corp + 2nd Division (which is basically the same thing). Urahara was a Captain and scientific genius. Isshin was a Captain. That is a lot of powerful Shinigami the Gotei 13 didn’t have. Plus all of the unnamed Shinigami who were killed or disappeared as the result of Aizen’s experiments.

        Then when he leaves he takes off with two more Captains.

        Just saying that Gotei 13 has limited resources in terms of personal and Aizen did his best to make sure that resource was even smaller.

        The bunnies think the Gotei 13 has not been operating at their full capacity for a while. Which only makes the problem that even when they are at full strength, they still don’t have anywhere near enough to keep up with the population the living world has grown to even worse.

        They submit that is one of the reasons why not killing and/or aggravating Ichigo too much was likely recommended by someone sensible. Because powerful Shinigami did not grow on trees. In more ways than one, they NEED him. But in many ways, Ichigo doesn’t especially need them.

        Liked by 2 people

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