Chapter Twenty-Nine: Ramune:
On the cow shedA hard winter rain;Cock crowing.
July 12th, 2009.
Tatsumi came to Kimoto Manor by sunrise and rang the doorbell. He waited before the door slid open. Tsuzuki looked at him abnormally without emotion. Tatsumi had a mirroring expression on his face.
"Tsuzuki-san," he said.
"Tatsumi," the other shinigami said.
"May I come in?" Tatsumi asked.
"Sure," Tsuzuki said. He moved aside and let the secretary through to the living room. Tsuzuki sat beside Anna at the coffee table while Tatsumi sat on the other side. Things started out silent and tense. Tatsumi straightened his glasses.
"So what is your decision?" he asked. Tsuzuki grasped onto Anna's hand.
"I'm not ending it!" he declared, "I love Anna-chan too much!" Tatsumi didn't blink.
"Is that so?" he asked. Anna held her boyfriend's hand as well.
"Yes," she said.
"We've decided to stay together, no matter what the risk," Tsuzuki finished. Tatsumi narrowed his glance at the couple.
"You could lose your job, Tsuzuki-san," he pointed out.
"I know," the other shinigami said in a low voice, "But I can't send her away. I'm going to find a way to keep her here no matter what!" Tatsumi frowned at him. The older shinigami wasn't even afraid of him this time. She had changed him somehow that neither man could explain. Tsuzuki squeezed on Anna's hand tighter. The crushing blow had built up in his head. He was ready for this.
"Go ahead Tatsumi," he declared, "Do your worst!" The secretary pushed up his glasses.
"Fine then," he said, "I'll end it for you." Tatsumi stood up and teleported away. Tsuzuki and Anna stared at the empty space. They expected him to take this course of action.
"Now what?" Anna asked. Tsuzuki felt his pulse race as he held onto her hand.
"We wait," he said dryly. Those words tasted so bitter in his mouth. Anna understood his pain. She looked down at their hands.
Tatsumi made it to the Summons section of Ju-Oh-Cho. He didn't hate Anna; she was just supposed to be dead. Not only had Tsuzuki broken protocol with bringing Anna back from the dead with a Hell Stone, but he had fallen in love with her as well. Tatsumi feared this would happen. Tsuzuki and Anna were in love. The separation process would be much more difficult. Something told him to intervene sooner.
Tatsumi made it to the office to retrieve the paperwork for Anna's summons. He knocked on the door, but no answer came. Tatsumi raised an eyebrow.
Strange, he thought, No one's here. Maybe they went to lunch. The shinigami pushed open the door. The back of the chair was turned to him. Tatsumi tried to peek over the edge.
"Hello?" he asked, "I'm here to pick up the paperwork for the summons on Kimoto Anna." The chair whipped around to him. Tatsumi's jaw almost dropped when saw Hotaru sitting in the chair smiling at him.
"Hiya!" she cheered. The secretary blinked at her.
"How did you get in here?" he asked. The loli demon winked at him.
"Simple," she replied, "I pushed the thought of an urgent visitor waiting in the lobby for him the guy's head and he hurried right out of here. I moved in this place." Hoto-chan smiled and shook her head. "You guys need better security," she said.
"Why are you here?" Tatsumi snapped. The loli demon grinned as she held up Anna's summons before him.
"Looking for this?" she asked, "Curious to know how I got here? Okay then, I was spying on the love birds when I saw you walking up to the manor. I figured that can't be good, so I followed you back here once I figured it all out."
"Give it here," the shinigami barked with cold eyes. Hoto-chan felt scared, but tried not cave under him. She gave him a little shrug.
"Fine," the loli demon said as she gave him the summons. Tatsumi took it in suspicion and began the paperwork. Hoto-chan timed herself.
"Of course," she spoke up, "I wonder about afterwards." Tatsumi didn't look up.
"Why is that?" he asked.
"Just," Hoto-chan said with a shrug, "The heartbreak Tsuzuki will have to endure after Anna is judged; and after he found someone that understands him so well too."
"He has Kurosaki and us," Tatsumi cut in.
"True," Hoto-chan said nodding, "But now quite the same, is it?" Tatsumi glanced up at her. Hoto-chan has his attention.
"I'm just saying," the loli demon went on, "How will you live with yourself after you take away Tsuzuki's newfound happiness? I mean, you care about him enough to keep him happy; I can see it in your eyes. Do you want Tsuzuki to be miserable and hating you forever because you took away the love of his life?" Tatsumi froze; it didn't hit him until just now. For the past four days, he had been focusing on saving Tsuzuki's job and not Tsuzuki's own happiness. This made him no better than Haruka or Muraki. After all that he went through, Tsuzuki did deserve some true happiness after all.
Tatsumi closed up his pen and tore up the summons and paperwork. He looked up at Hoto-chan.
"Fine," he hissed, "But if she becomes white ash in the end, it'll be on you, your girlfriend, and him!" Hoto-chan shrugged at him.
"I can live with that," she brushed off. Tatsumi snorted and walked away. Hoto-chan sat back and breathed out.
"Boy!" she mumbled, "That almost took all of my power; too tense for my taste!" Hotaru disappeared back to home.