Humans believe death is the end of every living being. Little do they know that death itself is yet another journey and trial. Two men will discover this as they are given life anew in the form of ...
The idea behind this fic came from a request by Twylise on the CFFML and I asked her if I could write it and she agreed, so the credit for its existence should go to her.
Till Death Do Us Part
By Ariss Tenoh
Till life forget and death remember,
Till thou remember and I forget.
"That was a good job you did on your last assignment."
"Thank you, Konoe-san."
Konoe, a man in his late fifties, frowned. It was a little unnerving to be called by his last name, especially when everyone in his department had called him 'Chief' for centuries. The man seated before him, however, never did. Even at their first meeting.
"As excellent a job you did," an irritated voice began, "There remains the matter of your partner to consider."
A pair of glasses were pushed higher on the nose they rested on. The blue eyes behind the glasses narrowed.
"I assume you know that your current partner has asked to be relocated to another division." The man with the blue eyes stood beside the chief's desk waiting for an answer.
"No, I didn't. He didn't tell me," was all the man dressed entirely in black would say. Though it was said with a smile.
The blue eyes narrowed into slits.
"This is the fourth partner you've had and the second to ask for a relocation. Your first was seriously injured to the point where he couldn't perform his duties claiming some kind of trauma as his reason. The second died, and that's saying something for a Shinigami. The third asked for a relocation immediately after finishing his first assignment with you. And now this."
The Chief winced. During this little speech, his secretary's voice had become lower and softer and that was never a sign beneficial to anyone's health when he moved into 'Cold Fury' mode.
Yet, the speech appeared to have no effect on the person whom it was intended for.
The man sitting before the Chief's desk continued to smile and said, "Surely you can't be implying that I'm to blame, Tatsumi-san."
"That is EXACTLY what I'm implying," replied Tatsumi Seiichirou, secretary of the Summons Division. "Your record of partners is intolerable. You're becoming almost as bad as Tsuzuki-san was before he got Kurosaki-kun as a partner."
This time there was a genuine smile on the man's face. "Ah, I've always held a secret desire to best Tsuzuki-san at something."
Konoe stifled a chuckle at the look of supreme indignation on his secretary's face. There were few people who could remain unfazed when confronted by Tatsumi's anger, and he was going to enjoy the moment while it lasted.
Before Tatsumi could give the man a proper tongue-lashing, the man in black spoke, "Perhaps it's merely a streak of bad luck I'm having with my partners. I'm sure the right partner will come along soon."
There were hints of a sly suggestiveness in that last sentence which Tatsumi didn't like.
"I'm sure that's the case. I guess we'll just have to find you a more suitable partner then," Konoe quickly interjected before the situation could escalate any further.
Unfortunately, that left him on the receiving end of a very scary Tatsumi Glare.
"If that is all..."
"Yes, that's all. You'll be informed when your new partner is assigned. Meanwhile, enjoy your break."
The man rose and left the office.
Time to face the demon, thought Konoe and he turned to his secretary.
Tatsumi stood before him with a Look on his face.
"Tatsumi, it IS partially our responsibility to provide suitable partners to the Shinigami working here. You can't really blame the man if none of his previous partners could keep up with him," Konoe reasoned. "We need to find him a partner who will be an asset to him rather than a liability."
"It isn't only that, Chief." The anger seemed to have drained out of Tatsumi. "His methods of working are unorthodox and bordering on breaking more than a few rules of our department. Despite his impressive record in the one year since he's been working here." The latter was added rather grudgingly.
The Chief suppressed a smile. He knew quite well that his secretary wouldn't object to any means the other man used no matter how unusual or illegal they were as long as they didn't lead to any damage-incurring payments and causing a hole in the department's yearly budget.
In a serious tone revealing the bitter experience behind his years, Konoe said, "Tatsumi, I want you to pay a visit to Asahi-san tomorrow. He seems to have a new candidate who was picked by Enma DaiOh-sama himself. You are to go and see Asahi-san's progress and bring back his report to me."
Tatsumi's face was tight and a bit pale as he answered, "Yes, Chief."
Outside the Chief's office, their object of discussion was being assaulted by a wild ball of energy with violet eyes.
Tsuzuki had hurled himself at the man the minute he spotted him and was demanding his promised treat in child-like eagerness.
The tall man laughed. "Yes, of course. I placed the box on your desk."
Tsuzuki's smile widened. He was about to say 'thank you' when an ominous voice asked, "Tsuzuki, just what do you think you're doing?"
If he was in an anime, Tsuzuki would have had a very large sweat drop over his head at the moment. He turned to greet his partner.
"Hisoka, want some apple pie?" He asked nervously.
His partner gave him a look that was a mix between exasperation and boredom.
"The apple pie from Piffle Princess is quite delicious, Kurosaki-kun. You should try it," suggested the man to whom Tsuzuki was still attached to at the waist.
"No, thank you. One glutton in the department is enough."
A hurt look crossed Tsuzuki's face before it disappeared. He thanked the man and bounced happily to his messy desk and where the sweet prospects of dessert awaited him.
Hisoka sighed. There really was no stopping Tsuzuki where sweets were involved. He turned just in time to catch an amber eye glancing at him before the older man took his leave.
Emerald eyes watched the black figure pivot on one heel and disappear down the hallway.
He didn't like their new colleague. There was something about the man which raised an uneasy feeling in him. Hisoka couldn't exactly put his finger on the nature of it, but he would often catch the man looking at him with a blank expression on his usually smiling face. He had tried to read the man's emotions, but the older man had impressive mental shields almost as strong as Tsuzuki's on the rare occasion his partner decided to block him.
No, there was something strange about the man. He was sure about it, and in time he would find out what the mystery was.
This mystery named Sakurazuka Seishirou.
Tatsumi strode quickly and with an air of authority and purpose toward the labs located in the basement levels of the Scientific Research and Mystical Studies Center.
Personally, he had his own name for the department and the people working in it. But he didn't think anyone would like it, least of all the man he was here to meet. He loathed any need he had to set foot in this building with a passion that was unrivaled except for the hatred he bore a certain silver-haired doctor.
The Center was tucked away from curious eyes on a corner of land far away from the rest of the administrative buildings of JuOhCho. Its existence made known only to a few select individuals in Meifu. Tatsumi counted himself rather unfortunate to bear this knowledge as well.
His steps echoed loudly on the metal stairs leading steadily downwards to the very heart of the Center. The shadows were thick and dank, the air was recycled and smelt of artificial cleaners and chemicals. He arrived at a large steel door. He placed his hand on the pad beside the door and looked straight into a red lens above it.
A few moments later an almost human voice announced, "Identification verified. Tatsumi Seiichirou, secretary of the Summons Division. Clearance level: Four. Access: Granted."
Tatsumi found it ironic that a mere computer would decide if he could enter a door. As if he couldn't simply wrench it open. The shadows stirred uneasily around him.
The door opened with a puff of air and a whirring sound.
He stepped into the lab only to be greeted by the sallow face of Dr. Asahi.
"Ah, I see that Konoe wasted no time in sending you here," the doctor unnecessarily remarked.
When his visitor didn't reply, the doctor turned with a bored expression to his assistant.
"Yuki, fetch some tea for our guest won't you."
"No, thank you. I'm not here to drink tea, Asahi-san. I believe you have a report for me." Tatsumi forced a blank look onto his face.
"Ah, but why don't I show you my latest achievement Tatsumi-kun? It is truly marvelous. Possibly the best I've created since my dark angel." Asahi moved deeper into the lab.
Tatsumi fought very hard to mask his anger. The slight to his name was to be tolerated since this man had been working here long before even Konoe was Chief, but he refused to call this man 'doctor'. In his opinion, Asahi's 'research' was monstrous. Even the famed Muraki paled in comparison to this man. Not that he would ever admit that to Muraki, of course.
But like all things in the world, it was justified as a necessary evil.
They arrived at a dark room lit by blue fire, magical flames set to keep spirits and minor sprites away. Several oval cylinders lined the four walls. Asahi moved toward one cylinder in particular. Tatsumi stood near his shoulder and looked at the cylinder.
He saw a pale face with floating black hair behind the thick glass. Its eyes were closed, its long eyelashes formed crescents on its cheeks.
Inwardly, Tatsumi shuddered.
This was how Shinigami were born, or rather made. Lost or mourning souls were brought to this underground laboratory and tested to determine if they could be used as Shinigami. This was the reason he hated his work, Tatsumi thought. No being, living or dead, should be placed under Asahi's mercy.
Asahi had one hand on the cylinder and was stroking it in a proprietary manner. He had a dreamy expression on his face and asked, "Tell me Tatsumi-kun, how is my dark angel?"
Blue eyes narrowed. Through gritted teeth came the answer, "He's fine, succeeding in every assignment he's given if one ignores the fact that his partners are all injured and one is dead because of it."
The doctor nodded sagely. "I expected that. A fine specimen like him is hard to come by. It's only logical that he needs another one such as himself as a partner."
The tension in the room rose a few degrees after those words. If Asahi noticed, he didn't show it.
"But this one will be perfect. A white seraph to complement my dark one. Just needs a little bit of work and it'll be ready for duty," Asashi crooned to the figure in the cylinder.
Tatsumi hid his discomfort and put some steel behind his words. "Asahi-san, if you don't mind I'd like that report now."
His eyes still on the cylinder, Asahi gestured and said, "Of course, of course. Yuki, if you'd give Tatsumi-kun the report."
The assistant seemed to appear out of thin air and handed Tatsumi a thin yellow folder. She was as pale as the snow she was named after, even her hair was more white than blonde.
He took the folder from her and cast a last look at the cylinder. Asahi was still stroking its metal plate.
A name was etched on the metal plate.
Tatsumi squinted a bit before he turned and left the room, and the lab, in quick ground-eating steps.
The name had read Sumeragi Subaru.
~ The End? ~
I'm not sure if I'm going to continue this story. I have a few ideas but nothing substantial yet.