Damn it, I’m not getting through, why- oh.
Oh. And hell. Hei had said his sister was gone. He hadn’t known she was dead until her ghost left him, which meant….
“I’m going to tell you something my dad told me, once,” Ichigo said quietly. “You couldn’t save her. She chose to protect you. You knew her better than anyone. You think your sister would die for someone who wasn’t worth saving? You were worth everything to her. Don’t you dare think you can stop living now.”
It was wry, but that was definitely a smile on Huang’s face. And that was an amused flick of whiskers, as Mao leaned up against Yin’s arm until she stroked his ears.
Good, Ichigo thought. They want him to get better, too.
Though he could tell right now that coaxing Hei back into it’s okay to be alive was going to take a lot more time. The guy wasn’t walking an empty riverbank, but he’d bet two of Yuzu’s sweets that was mostly because Hei wasn’t a kid anymore. He had responsibilities. He couldn’t fall apart. So he just… wouldn’t let it happen.
Going to have to get through that, too. No way am I letting him get as crazy as Dad.
How was the question. He’d fixed Byakuya with a good bankai-on-bankai clash and a punch in the face. But the very noble head of Kuchiki had gone all self-sacrificing ice prince because of the whole upper-crust tangle around bringing Rukia into the clan in the first place. Once a few of those nobles just plain weren’t around anymore – thank Aizen for inadvertent favors – Byakuya had gradually loosened up to human again. Or, well, shinigami. Close enough.
Hei, though… Hei had gone from witnessing murder to bodyguarding the murderer to child assassin and who knew how much worse. He’d walled himself up in ice just to stay sane.
No wonder the guy thought he was a Contractor.
So. Knuckle sandwich wouldn’t work. Time to bring out the Kurosaki family’s unstoppable secret weapon.
Ichigo thumped Yuzu’s bento down on the table. “Okay! Enough gloom and doom. You’re going to eat, and I’m going to tell you everything Chief Kirihara said.” He grinned at them all. “Because you should have seen her face.”