Huang and Mao looked after the bento boxes; and if the cat might be snarfing another scrap or two of fish as they went, that was his business. Yin was helping the girls pick up plates and stuff. Ichigo blinked at the little specter in the iced tea pitcher, wondering what it was like to navigate the world seeing through something that wasn’t your own eyes.
Weirder than stabbing ghosts. I think.
He and Hei swept around the edges of where their game had been, making sure any stray napkins got snatched and trashed and otherwise patting turf and stuff back into order. Karin played hard.
Hei had played just as hard right back at her. He took her seriously. Kid or not. Girl or not.
Which made the looks Hei was sliding the twins’ way right now even weirder. They were quick, and Ichigo’d bet Hei was trying to hide them, but – that was beyond worry. That was….
Oh. I know that look. From the mirror.
Heartbreak. Something broken, in a way that’d never really get fixed. Just patched over and lived with.
Ichigo eased over that way as he poked for leftover trash, waiting until Hei really looked at him. “Like somebody said once. I don’t know what I can do, but it looks like something hurts. And it’s… not my sisters?”
Don’t shrug. A shrug’s wrong here, this is serious. Just wish I knew what was right.
“It could have been them.” Hei’s voice was almost too quiet to hear. “Years ago. What I did in Heaven’s War… it was wrong. I was protecting Bai, but – so much of what I did was wrong.”
Ichigo told the hairs on the back of his neck to stand down, damn it. Hei had tells; hard to see, but he had them. If the ex-assassin had suddenly decided he wasn’t ex anymore, he’d know.
“So back then you might have hurt them,” Ichigo got out. “But you wouldn’t now.”
“No!” Blue eyes flashed wide; almost as wide as Li at his most innocent. “Nothing’s worth that now. Bai is gone.” Hei looked away, pale. “Bai… is gone.”