Sleight of Hand @babykitsune_9
Chapter 13

"Pepper must have leaked that you were going out into town today." Happy said with a small frown as he eyed the not-so-small-ish mob of people that had swarmed the car the second that it had come to a stop.

"Maybe." Ichigo said with a frown as she took note of the various people and the cameras and microphones that several of them were carrying and sighed. Well damn. She thought darkly as she spied several familiar faces amongst the crowd present. It looks like I've picked up a few stalkers already.

Rukia would be so proud of her. Not.

"You ready to do this, kid?" Happy asked as he turned his head a little bit to look at her. As if trying to gauge whether or not they should just leave.

"As ready as I'll ever be for this nonsense." She muttered and glared as something hard hit her window. "Crap! I think if we don't get out then someone just might try to break the damned windows out on the car."

Happy made an annoyed sound as the next hit against the car window nearly shook the car. "That's bullet proof glass kid. Even if they try, it isn't likely to break."

"That's not exactly one hundred percent though. Happy. Especially since I think someone amongst the group might be enhanced or something."

Happy got a funny look on his face. A cross between 'oh shit' and 'are you fucking kidding me' that might have made Ichigo laugh if not for the fact that he was quickly grabbing a gun out of a small compartment between the driver seat and the passenger one and then slipped out of the vehicle.

Apparently not wanting some 'enhanced' dumbass paparazzi to somehow manage to compromise the integrity/safety of the car. He managed to get a lot of people away by flashing his gun- not exactly in a threating manner- but more of a reminder to everyone present that he was licensed to use excessive force if he deemed it totally necessary. To defend not only himself, but her as well.

It must have been something that he had done a number of times when he'd worked as her dad's bodyguard. And while she could appreciate the fact that he was 'reminding' people that he was packing and unafraid to use the weapon in self defense. She didn't like that the weapon was deemed necessary at all. But could understand why Happy had pulled it out anyways.

Enhanced people, and 'supers' were quickly becoming the norm. They often popped right out of the woodworks and if one of them was amongst the crowd outside frothing at the mouth to get pictures of her- then that made that person more dangerous than the usual vulture- ah, paparazzo. She meant to say paparazzo.

By the time he managed to get everyone back, and open the car door for her Ichigo had already seen the face of the guy that had been hitting the car window, and was currently gauging his threat level as she slid out of the seat and stepped just a bit to Happy's other side.

Allowing him to shut the door and lock it before he carefully started to herd her down the sidewalk a little bit.

"How you doing kid?" Happy asked as he managed to put a little bit of distance between them and the crowd. It wasn't a huge distance, but it was just enough to be able to semi-drown out the sounds of various people talking all at once as well as the sounds of camera shudders as her picture was taken.

"Good. You?"

"Anxious. Let's get this over with and get the fuck out of here." Happy muttered as she nodded her head in understanding since she took his words to mean, We're too exposed here. Be quick.

She hadn't meant to rattle or upset Happy when she'd voiced her concerns a few minutes prior. But she understood how he felt about being close to someone 'enhanced' that he knew nothing about, and might have trouble fighting off if they were to try something.

Sighing softly she viciously squashed any feelings of disappointment at not being able to linger out in the city for a little bit. And focused on her task.

Adopt a pet. And get the hell out.

Right, she could do this. It was simple.

However the moment that she entered the animal shelter she sort of...morphed into any other kid looking for a pet. Which she was sure was disappointing to Happy on so many levels. But since she wasn't distracted enough to not be able to sense anything malicious from the guy from before just yet, she went ahead and done the whole walk through thing.

She stuck fingers in cages, petted, talked too and even occasionally cooed at the adorable fur babies there. While others got her attention for entirely different reasons.

One, a little short furred kitten, was slightly deformed. With it's front legs turned in towards it's little chest. Her ears and eyes were a little bit unusual too. The both of them just slightly longer/wider than normal. Oh! And she had a cute little stubby tail!

Ichigo must have stood at her cage for several minutes, just rubbing her short fur and noticing just how unbelievably touch starved the kitten was. She wasn't feral. At least she didn't act like it anyways. But she also acted as if she'd been denied any form of affection whatsoever.

Naturally this didn't sit well with her. And it sat even less well with her when the guy from the front of the shelter came and announced that it was time for the kitten to 'go'. And then opened the cage and started to pull the mewling kitten from it as Ichigo demanded, "Where are you taking her?"

"She's been here too long," The guy said as he started to move to cradle the kitten when Ichigo reached out and literally snatched the little cat from the guy's hands and cradled her against her chest and started to rub her ears to ease her distress. "Hey! I have to take her to the back." The guy protested as she glared at him and growled out.

"You try and touch her and I'll shove you into that miserable little cage."

Happy didn't even try to reprimand her for her threat. Probably because he didn't think that she could actually do it. Either that or he simply was surprised that she was irked enough to really do it. Whereas the guy didn't seem the least bit bothered by her growling at him and simply smiled at her as the kitten started to purr, loudly and simply asked, "I guess you'll be taking her?"

"Yes," She said slowly before then adding. "But I also plan to take several others too." The guy simply nodded his head at her words and said.

"If you can save a few more from dying- you'll make my day. You'll make their day too."

"How many are to be put down?"

"About five for now."

"Show them to me."

The guy just grinned and motioned for her to follow him. She fell into step beside him easily, and Happy wandered along behind them as the guy took her from cage to pen to see the animals whom were set to die. Only one of them was an older animal, a dog. A pretty white and black Malamute that was a little over fifteen years old.

She was about to ask Happy what he thought buy he was already at the pen talking to the pretty boy. She and the shelter guy both glanced at him from over their shoulders as they heard the Malamute let out a low Ror, sounding bark.

Happy grinned at the dog and told him to be good and he'd be back soon before walking off to catch up with them.

One of the other animals set to be put down was a pretty little seal siamese with stunningly vivid turquoise eyes. Ichigo was more than happy to adopt her too. As well as an elderly bunny that someone had injured and left to die, that wasn't doing very well at the moment.

She decided to adopt one more animal before trying to think up an idea for helping the others.

One idea of course, was to buy the shelter and talk to Pepper and Rhodey about helping her organize an adoption event/fund raiser since part of the problem with kill shelters was the overcrowding. Another was limited funding.

The third was the lack of people wanting to take on the responsibilities of owning an older, special needs, or sick animal. Frankly Ichigo thought that anyone dumb enough to take an animal and promise to care for it in sickness and health and then tire of them. The responsibility to care for them and so- needed to be dragged out into the streets and shot.

Maybe more than once. Depending entirely on the severity of their animal's overall health and condition upon their abandonment.

As far as she was concerned there is no excuse for cruelty towards their four legged companions. Regardless of what was wrong with them. Or what perceived insult or injury someone may have received.

After all, contrary to popular belief...thinking that your animal was stupid because they didn't want to behave a certain way, or because they were old and weren't 'cute' enough anymore wasn't any goddamn excuse to abandon them.

Neither was anyone deciding to have an animal killed for scratching or biting when they felt threatened or agitated.

Finally reaching the last cage, she blinked at the slightly large feline crammed inside of it and then blurted out, "Good lord, is that a baby panther?"

"No. But he does have some wild cat blood in him."

"That explains his size then." Ichigo muttered as the feline looked at her with the most pretty citrine colored eyes and then inched closer to the door of the cage to sniff at her hand when she raised it to the metal. "How old is he?"

"About eight months."

"Still young..."

"Yeah. Some cat breeder bred him and then decided that they didn't want the little guy."

"Hn, animal owner's remorse?"

"Nah, stupidity." The guy said as he scratched his chin. "After he left the little guy here, he got himself arrested for illegally breeding special animals and then selling them."

"I hope that they throw the damned book at him then."

"Me too." The guy said with a soft sigh. "I've already had to put his dad and several of his littermates down. I don't really want to put him down too. It's a waste."

Ichigo hummed as Happy walked over and peeked at the feline and let out a low whistle. "Damn he's a pretty little fella."

"Yeah, most people hesitate to adopt him because of his size. Others hesitate to even look at him twice because of his wildcat blood." The guy said. "They find him intimidating."

"Who can blame them? He's huge!" Happy said before then looking at her and huffing quietly as she announced,

"Alright. I'm sold. I'll take him too. Happy," She said as she turned her head to face him. "Go collect your dog." He scowled at her and then said with a haughty sniff.

"His name is Rocky." And then turned and while she wasn't looking jogged back towards the dog's pen and shouted, "Rocky! Guess what? Your going home with me, buddy!"

Ichigo was hard pressed to hide her smile when she heard the Malamute's Ror.

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