Maegaki: Yami no Matsuei (Descendent of the Dark) and all characters from the series belong to Matsushita Youko sensei; it is serialized once in a while in Hana to Yume Comics. Spoilers through tankoubon volume 11. These characters appear in the manga only, not the anime, so here's the relevant info.

Meifu is the land of the dead, and it's administered by a bureaucratic system, the Juou-cho, which judges the dead on the basis of their past deeds and assigns their ultimate fates. The court bureau, Enma-cho, is headed by Enma-Daiou, god of hell. Enma-cho's jurisdiction is divided into ten areas. The staff of the Shokan, the court's summons division, comprise the lowest tier of each block's staff -- high status, but bottom of the barrel pay scale (just like life...sigh). They retrieve the souls in the difficult or unsolvable cases, as referred to them by the divisions farther up the bureaucratic system. The staff of Enma-cho Shokan are also known as "shinigami," gods of death.

Chogoku, Gokan-cho (4th area) Shinigami: Wakaba Kannuki, 18 years of service (senior partner), junior high school student at her time of death, also a hereditary miko and "keeper" of the Suzaku Gate. Hajime Terazuma, 6 years of service (junior partner), 28-year-old police detective in Hiroshima Prefecture at his time of death. [Also see the atogaki.]

Otoko no Otoko

"Aaa-ta! There he is!"

As predicted, the small boy was sitting firmly, implacably on the curb.

The computer had calculated a 95% probability that Yamada Shirou, 5 years old, would fail to appear for his scheduled court appointment, based on his stubborn personality and attachment to his mother. The juvenile court advocate of Gokan-cho had put in an early watch request for this case to the Summons Division.

"Shirou-chan, konichi-wa!" Wakaba Kannuki announced cheerfully. She leaned over him and smiled.

The boy's lower lip protruded. He pointedly ignored both Kannuki and her stonily silent partner, Hajime Terazuma.

"Shirou-chan..." Kannuki said. Sirens were beginning to wail in the near distance. She sorted a few ofuda scripts from her pocket and tossed them to the side to block the sound. She always found the sirens distracting.

"What the hell are you doing now?" her partner snarled at her, lighting the ever-present cigarette dangling from his lips. "Just grab the damn brat and let's go,"

Terazuma -- Hajime-chan, she called him, because he was so cutely annoyed by it -- had insisted they avoid the normal wait for the deceased's decision, and go collect this boy immediately. Shirou's tiny flame in the Castle of Candles had been snuffed scant moments before their arrival.

Hajime-chan was so anxious for those promptness bonuses lately; division secretary Tatsumi-san was still docking his wages for repair costs after that last disagreement Hajime-chan had had with second-block shinigami Tsuzuki-san.

Tsuzuki-san's reputation as the Enma-cho "demon of destruction" always seemed to inspire similar high achievement in others. It was just too bad -- Kannuki had loved the new library building.

But Hajime-chan's newest work incentive was becoming tiring. Unlike him, she didn't have an on-board shikigami to draw physical energy from. As keeper of the Suzaku Gate, one of the four entries to the Gensoukai, the world of the gods, an "attendant-god" of her own would have been a conflict of interest.

Not that Hajime-chan's shikigami was an unqualified benefit.

The new library had been so lovely.

She sighed.

"Hajime-chan, that's not very nice," Kannuki said mildly. She crouched down beside the boy, tucking in the pleated folds of her sailor-fuku school uniform around her legs.

"Nice! Since when does 'nice' have a damn thing to do with this job?"

She shook her head. As always, he had a point. If Shirou-chan had been older, this outright refusal to comply with his own death would make him a good candidate for shinigami as well. We're all too willing to do whatever it takes, she thought, if we can maintain our grasp on this shadow of our former lives just a little longer.

Even if it means the death of babies like Shirou-chan here.

But now was not the time. She shot her partner a warning look, and turned back to their current case. "Shirou-chan, I'm Wakaba. Yoroshiku ne! Well, we're here to take you back home now."

"Kaachan is supposed to take me home, not you," he said flatly, not looking at her.

"Well, yes, but--"

"And I'm not supposed to talk to strange people!" he shouted. "Kaachan said! She said that if I got lost, I was supposed to stay put, and not talk to ANYONE but a policeman! And I'm not supposed to go with ANYONE but a policeman!"

Ah ha. Kannuki grinned. "Of course, and that's very wise! Hajime-chan is a policeman, you know."

"Ehhh?" He glanced at her for the first time, startled. Then his eyes strayed to her partner, who'd been resolutely ignoring the entire exchange.

"Hajime-chan?" she prompted.

He studied the sky dourly, apparently seeking patience somewhere among the clouds. Then, without looking, he reached into his trenchcoat, whipped out a small case. He flipped it open and held it aloft in a practiced move.

"Hiroshima Prefecture Police, Detective-grade, Terazuma."

The boy's eyes were round as plates. "That was ... just like on TV," he breathed.

"Exactly!" Kannuki nodded vigorously.

"Yeah, whatever. So let's cut the crap here and roll," Hajime-chan said, shoving his wallet back into the recesses of his coat.

Kannuki cringed at this newest descent into rudeness, but the boy looked delighted.

"We really do have to go now, Shirou-chan," she said.

"But..." Impressed as he'd been Hajime-chan's walking the talk, she saw that Shirou was still regarding them both with a doubtful expression. He blurted, "Oneesan has weird eyes, and the detectives on TV don't look like that." He pointed at her partner.

Kannuki reddened, and refused to look at Hajime-chan and the smug "should have done it my way" expression she knew he'd have. Her eyes were two different colors, a characteristic of a guardian of a gate to the god's realm. But Hajime-chan was the more difficult problem: The red eyes with slitted pupils, black stripes under his eyes, pointed ears, and fangs were all physical manifestations of his possesion by Kagan-kokushungei, his unwanted shikigami.

Hmm, she wondered, so how do I explain about Kuro-chan?

She gave it a shot. "I know he looks like a suspicious person, but it's all right," Kannuki said, lowering her voice conspiratorially. "I'll tell you a secret. The grouchy oniichan looks that way because he's really ... a monster cat!"

"A, a monster cat?"

"A huge, enormous cat. With long black hair. And red eyes. The size of, of ... of a library building."

Hajime-chan -- who, of course, was listening to none of this -- visibly winced.

"Really?" Shirou looked intrigued, if not yet convinced.

"I swear it. It's completely true." She lowered her voice even further. "But, um, he's a grumpy cat as well. You can probably tell that. It's a problem."

"Obaachan-next-door's cat is grumpy," he said thoughtfully.

"Ah. What do you do?" Kannuki gave him a stern look. "You don't throw rocks at that cat, do you?"

"No! I give it leftover fish sometimes. It likes that, and then while it's eating it I can pet it. It's stripy and yellow."

"That's very clever." Kannuki said, with an approving slap of fist to palm. "Even the grumpy cats like fish. Then they're not always so grumpy."

"Ne, I don't think they know they're grumpy. They just think they're normal cats."

"Ah, there's that." She nodded. "Shirou-chan, you're absolutely right. I should feed him more fish in his obentou."

The boy giggled. Hajime-chan apparently had had enough.

"Kannuki!" he growled.

"Oh. Well, he's very impatient. We do need to go." She held out her hand. "Shirou-chan?"

He still didn't move.

"Shirou-chan," she said softly. "You remember that big truck that came around the corner back there?"

He nodded. "I got out of the way. That was a stupid driver!"

"Very stupid," she agreed sadly. "He knows that now." She looked away, poked a finger at a rock on the street. "It was very brave to try to get out of the way. Many people would have just gotten scared and not moved at all." She hesitated, then said it: "You almost made it, too. But ... you know you didn't."

She heard the sniff, and looked back. A tear was rolling down his cheek.

"Ah, but that's why we're here. Shi-chan..." She reached out gently to touch his face.

"Yamada Shirou-kun!" Hajime-chan barked suddenly. "Are you crying? Aren't you a man?"

Kannuki and Shirou both sat up stiffly. "E-eh?"

"You," he sneered. "What would your mother think, seeing you sitting there blubbing with a dirty face?" He tossed down his cigarette butt and ground it under heel.

"A-ah," the boy started hastily wiping at his tear-sodden cheek with his shirt sleeve, only succeeding in smearing it worse.

"Te-terazuma!" Kannuki said, appalled.

He was ignoring her. "You've already worried your family's spirits here with your thoughtless behavior -- chasing balls into the street and not looking! Are you sorry for that?"

Shirou looked around, alarmed. "Hai! Go-gomen..."

"Is this gaman? Are you going to trouble them further with this improper behavior?"


"That's a man's attitude," Hajime-chan said, satisfied. He rapped out another cigarette from his pack and lit it. Then he waved his hand abruptly, cigarette between two fingers. "A man recognizes his responsibilities and keeps his appointments. That would make your mother proud." He snapped: "On your feet!"

Kannuki and Shirou both shot off the curb. Kannuki blinked, confused.

"Let's go! Kannuki. Yamada-kun." He shoved the cigarette back between his lips, and spun on his heel.

She held out her hand again. "Shirou-chan?"

"A,ano. Can I," his voice dropped to a whisper, "maybe could I go with the monster cat oniisan?"

"What was that?" Hajime-chan turned his head and looked down on the both of them. Kannuki quailed at his expression. Slitted eyes, grim set of mouth, dangling cigarette -- her partner in his most frightening "suspect interrogation" mode.

"A,ano, boku..." Shirou began haltingly. Then with more force he said, "Shirou wants to go with the cat-detective-oniisan!"

"Chi-." Hajime-chan swiftly stooped down; he scooped the child under his arm like a sack of rice, and stalked off down the street.

Kannuki stumbled after, in his long-legged wake. By the time she'd caught up, the child had graduated to Hajime-chan's hip.

"Is detective-oniisan ... really a cat?" Shirou was asking.


Kannuki heard the sharp intake of breath, and rolled her eyes. Who knew that lions were more manly than cats?

"Do, do you have a gun?"


Silence. Then, "How can I be in the police?"

"Education. Training. Guts," Terazuma said curtly. "Think you got what it takes to bring dangerous criminals to justice?"

He nodded, finger in mouth.

"Did you have something to say, Yamada-kun?"


"Keep it in mind for the next round then," Terazuma said. "The police can always use good men."


"Women too," he added grudgingly. "But you don't have to have anything to do with 'em when you're not working."


"We have to stop for ice cream for that Kannuki. But these women, they bitch up a storm and won't let you read your damn paper in peace if they gotta eat by themselves, so we'll just have to have some too."

"Because ... we're men?"

"Yeah. That's right."

Kannuki latched on to the trailing belt of Hajime-chan's trenchcoat and let herself be towed along, hair ribbons flying. And she pondered the strangeness of men.

Atogaki: Posted elsewhere, now moved here. I took a wild guess at some stuff. For example, the character book says Terazuma was 28, but doesn't say how long he's been in the division. It says Kannuki was a junior high student, no age specified, and that she's been in the division for 18 years. She's been there far longer than Terazuma; he's her second partner, per volume 9. Appearances aside, she's older than he is, I believe. And I suspect that the only person with less time on the job than Hajime-chan is the new kid, Hisoka Kurosaki.