Dark Adaptation.

DISCLAIMER: Descendants of Darkness (Yami no matsuei to all you adamant Japanese nuts) belongs to... people whom are not me. Therefore establishing that Descendant's of Darkness, does not belong to me. What a shame. Because I like money. And bishounen. And if I owned Descendant's of Darkness, I would thus own both money and bishounen. I guess some dreams are just not meant to come true.

Note: Hello, weary readers! I am the helpful narrator; a nameless voice that will guide you through this all new version of DA; which I like to refer to as DA: Deluxe! XD

As of February 2009, all the original chapters of DA have undergone a dramatic facelift. This first chapter marks the beginning of this long process. Much of the original chapter content remains but has been altered to suit my current style of writing and many additions that weren't present in the year I began writing this story. Since Yami is set in Japan, the name references, manner of speech and so forth, will be true to the Japanese culture, as much as I am capable of. (For example; instead of 'Mr. Tsuzuki', Muraki addresses him now as 'Tsuzuki-san'.) Additionally, a number of additional scenes have been added, though not in this first chapter so much. Instead of following on from the anime, this fanfiction is faithful to the events and characterizations of the manga, with respect to its' esteemed creator Yoko Matsushita. There might indeed be references to some events that transpired in the anime and that would be because I feel that they add to the overall story, rather than take away from it. But in general, readers should look at this as continuing on from the manga.

Through this process, I hope to tell a better, more engaging story. I'm very excited to be presenting these new and hopefully improved chapters of DA to you my lovely readers and I can only hope that you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

And of course the traditional warnings. Like most Yami no Matsuei fanfics, this story takes place post-Gensoukai arc. (Hisoka and Tsuzuki in the Shikigami world, Tatsumi and Watari investigating the Kurosaki family.) The pairings are Muraki/Tsuzuki and Oriya/Watari, as well as a number of other minor pairings that occur throughout the story.

I offer a warning now to all those younger readers that much of the material that appears in this story is… not particularly nice. (Goddammit, as a writer you would think I could come up with the right word for that particular sentence, wouldn't you?) Dark Adaptation contains course language, supernatural horror, gore, violence, thermonuclear yaoi, (male/male relationships) the suggestion of incest and oh, possibly a few sexist and religious comments here and there, just to make sure I offend as many people as possible. If you don't like any of these things, then I would suggest reading no further.

Watari: You make it sound so menacing…

Tsuzuki: Don't interrupt her, she's doing her pretentious new intro! She's trying to sound smart.

Hickok: Guys, go away! You're ruining my ominous sounding lead-in! Now no one is going to take my scary story seriously!

Watari: Whatever! Can we just get to the man-loving already? Whose got the remote?

Saki: I do! (Waves remote around) I was just taping a cooking show. Hold on, I'll switch the television to the AV channel! (Pushes button, television turns off)

Tsuzuki: Saki!

Saki: Muraki did it.

Muraki: Oh sure, blame me for everything!

Saki: Turnabout's fair play, Zuta-chan. Didn't anyone ever tell ya that? (Turns t.v back on, accidentally changes channels.) Oooh look! Cardcaptor Sakura's on!

Hisoka: Saki, give me the remote before you break something.

Hickok: It's not a DVD you guys. It's a STORY. You know… one of those things you read.

Tsuzuki: Reading's hard! Especially when there are no pictures! Why can't this be a manga instead of a fanfic?

Hickok: One; coz I can't draw all that well and two because I'm not the original writer of the series! All I can produce is a fanfic.

Tatsumi: We could make more money if we sold the rights to a television company and they produced a five part mini series. Stock options, people!

Hickok: Again; I don't actually own this. I could get sued here guys! And being sued definitely means that if you didn't have much money to start with, you most certainly will not have much money afterwards.

Tsuzuki: If this becomes a TV series, I totally wanna be played by Gackt! And Hisoka can be played by that guy from Twilight!

Hisoka: Oh, for the love of-

Saki: (Accidentally fast-forwards too far) Whoops! My fault… now we know how it ends!

Hickok: You're yards ahead of me then.

Oriya: (Looking at screen) Holy shit… I am so not looking forward to that.

Tsuzuki: Why? What happens to us?

Hickok: (Turns T.V off) You guys don't get to find out that easy! Just go ahead and read the story.


In matter's relating to the world of the dead, there is an institution that judges the sins of the deceased…

The Ministry of Hades.

The Summons Section of the Judgment Bureau comprises a group supporting the ministry's operating functions by guiding the lost souls that wander the mortal world.

They are also know as the Guardian's of Death.

Yami no Matsuei:

Dark Adaptation

~ X ~

Deep inside, locked behind its' wavering gaze

The porcelain moon shatters leaving nothing but a stain


The brilliant world has descended into the darkness without a sound

The seconds are counting down as we fumble blindly in the dark

Speak not so predominantly, the new time is here now


Injured black wings puncture through angels quills

Glimmer beautifully then are still

They're rising upward in a beautiful dance

Soaring in the light of the moon


Now, the crimson kiss flows deeply into the heart,

Penetrating into one's dreams,

Leaving nothing behind but the broken shards


The sky sinks away, now nothing else remains

Prayers wind upwards soullessly in a final requiem

Hear now the hearts solace in refrain


Destined to walk forever, I'll keep wandering to meet that end

Searching for the entirety of that dream, come now and meet me at my Eden


Injured black wings puncture through angels quills

Glimmer beautifully then are still

They're rising upward in a beautiful dance

Soaring in the light of the moon


Now, the crimson kiss flows deeply into the heart,

Penetrating into one's dreams,

Leaving nothing behind but the broken shards

"My Eden" – To Destination

~ X ~

Dark Adaptation Def: "The process by which our eyes adjust to a low level of illumination and become more sensitive to light. Dark adaptation is experienced when we go from a place with a high level of light intensity to a place with a low level of light intensity in a relatively short period of time." (Psychology – Grivas and Carter 2000)


"Driving down the wrong road and knowing it,
The fork years behind, how many have thought
To pull up on the shoulder and leave the car
Empty, strike out across the fields; and how many
Are still mazed among dock and thistle,
Seeking the road they should have taken?"
~Damon Knight, The Man in the Tree, 1984


A Brief Recap before we Continue


Oh Lordy.

Those were the first words that popped into my head, the moment the burlap bag was lifted from my face and light flooded my senses. I did a quick calculation of my condition and was surprised to find that I was still able to feel the contusion on the crown of my head, not to mention the grazes to both my knees and dull bruising across my shoulders. My healing factor would have ordinarily taken care of that in a jiffy. The only explanation I could fathom was that a restraint of considerable mana energy had been placed upon me, constricting my Shinigami powers. Which didn't really affect me all that greatly in my present condition. It was more an irritation than anything. However, it would definitely become a hindrance later were I to suffer more damaging injuries.

Or a hangover. My healing factor isn't generous enough to assist me in dealing with that little quandary.

So, regardless of the resounding throb from my skull and the smug dancing disco lights pervading my sight, I was relieved to find that I had not been completely screwed by whomever had done this to me. And no, this is no reference to the state of my posterior thankyou. I am directing your captive attention to the fact that my corrective lenses were safe. Crooked, snagged in the length of wavy blond hair tucked behind one ear no doubt likely to cause me much grief in disentangling later, but present and accounted for.

So a brief recap before we continue: I had no idea where I was. On the bright side, I was awake; my head was no longer in a scratchy musty old bag with the distinguishable scent of chloroform lingering about my nasal passages. My glasses were on, my hair now cropped about my ears (I'll get to that later) was out of my face and for once in my eternal afterlife I was grateful to find that I was not naked. My perception of everything around me rang clearly like a gong struck by a baton: swift and lingering. My somewhat lackadaisical reflexes coiled into compressed springboard energy. I was a cat about to pounce! I was an owl preparing to swoop down on an unsuspecting rodent and ensnare that squealing life between my talons.

And I was off!

Only I didn't seem to be going anywhere.

If I had truly been in my noble state of mind at the moment of my revival, I would have noticed the constriction surrounding my wrists. Something sharp and cold, the essence of silver digging in altogether too tightly on the prominent wrist bone. I'd often condemned myself in life for my weak wrists. Weak joints in general, which probably explains why I never made an esteemed field operative in Guardian duties. You tend to get laughed at a lot (not to mention significant numbers are docked from your pay) when you attempt to run from a fatal demonic attack and slip on a perfectly good piece of cement, twisting your ankle, forcing you to cry for your partner to carry you to safety. Usually a girls' complaint in horror movies I'm told.

I guess the point I'm trying to establish, is that I was in a right swell jam. I had handcuffs around my wrists. Handcuffs I ask you! I, Yutaka Watari, am not one to be restrained by the mortal inflection of criminal steel application! I am a Shinigami!

Yet all my internal posturing and immortal glory did little to assist my weak wrists in the task of snapping the chain of the cuffs and sprinting to safety, tossing a well deserved raspberry over my shoulder as I went. No, Shinigami or not I was indisputably, out of commission.

And what really infuriated me at that moment was not the rough, disrespectful treatment, oh no. Let them manhandle me, let them shove my head in a bag and crack me on the back of the skull when I'm quietly trying to break into their headquarters and expose them for murder, rape, kidnapping and political interference in the demonic hierarchy. Come what may, if I deserve it, I deserve it.

But no one deserves to look a mess when they're being held against their will. Ingrates. If I was going to be captured and tortured at the expense of the entire Judgment Bureau, fine. But the least they could do was let me look good. Or comb my hair. It was even harder to maintain now then it was when it was long!

I glanced to the side, ignoring the dull throb to my cranium as the figure that had been kneeling beside me, was relieved of his burlap burden also. Oriya Mibu inhaled desperately as the bag was pulled away, possessing that natural mortal hunger for oxygen. He shook his head briefly, hair that used to be as long as my own and as dark as dogs' eyes, now cut in short jagged barbs that framed his perfectly symmetrical features, whilst still managing to compliment them. Unlike me, he had a large purplish contusion to the left side of his face. He'd had time to face our attacker at least. But me and my weak wrists had gone down without a fight.


Oriya distributed a rather maidenly sigh as he took in our situation. Like me, he was bound at the wrists, the samurai sword he'd held sanctioned to his wide hips, nowhere in sight. Obviously it had been removed from his good graces in case he thought to use it to relieve us of this disagreeable situation. I could feel the floor vibrating slightly beneath my knees and when I looked forward, opposite where we were seating, I could see the backs of pilot and co-pilot seats.

We were in a helicopter. A military helicopter at that, judging by the broad space in the back where the soldiers were designated positions against the wall. We were being transported somewhere and under strict, flattering security. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Oriya winced a little as he too registered the sharp whiplash of his injury through his skull. Attempting to lighten the mood a little, I caught his eye and gave a cheerful wink, trying to cock my head to the side and look as Tsuzuki-ishly cute as possible. It always comes much easier to my co-worker then it does to me.

"Lovely day for an abduction, isn't it?" I asked conversationally. Oriya stared back at me as though I had taken leave of my senses and I started to back pedal, thinking he wouldn't appreciate my sense of humor in a situation like this. But then, much to my relief, he cracked a grin.

"Nothing gets you down, does it?" He asked rhetorically, knowing the answer without my even saying a word. I always try to look for the best in every situation, even when I recognize full well the negative foresights and consequences. Oriya by now knew me well enough to understand this.

For some reason, that thought made me very happy and I offered him another smile. Nothing out of my pay packet.

"Smiles are free." I said spunkily, the nicest way of saying 'No duh' to someone I had really taken a fancy to.

That? Well it's a long story...

Oriya sighed again and started to relax, allowing his back to touch the wall of the helicopter. His prominent shoulder blades provided an odd counter balance and prevented his hands from being uncomfortably wedged into his lower waist. I leant forward a little to see around him and noticed our other two companions still had their heads bound up.

The child whom had released me, (Not a one of our captives, not even the pilot appeared to be much older than nine or ten) stepped up beside the individual closest to Oriya and abruptly tugged the bag from his head. Tsuzuki emerged gasping for air like some dumb dolphin that had forgotten how to breathe. His shaggy black hair was ruffled characteristically and his violet eyes quickly swiveled to peruse the boy who had rudely saved him from drowning in the burlap bag. That Tsuzuki; no appreciation what so ever.

Our captor, or at least one of them, ignored his baleful, 'I'm-gonna-knobble-you-good' glare and moved onto our forth resident. Sitting up on his knees, very straight and barely moving an inch with the intake of every musty breath. In fact, it came as no surprise to me that Kazutaka Muraki's eyes were staring directly at the boy who removed his bag and that he didn't even inhale on the air as it rushed forth to greet him. Our captor couldn't help but gasp a little, seeing Muraki's abnormal silver and blue stare focusing on him as though he'd been watching him purposefully through the bag before it's removal. As though it hadn't been a hindrance in scrutinizing his surroundings.

And that stare... If Tsuzuki's was 'I'm-going-to-knobble-you-good', then Muraki's could be defined as 'I'm going to knobble you good, then I'm going to go to your house and knobble your whole family, sleep with your Mom, drown your cat, drink your Chocolate Milk and burn the place to the ground.' It was cool countenance. Arrogant disinterest. 'You've got me tied up for now,' he seemed to be saying. 'But you won't for long. I'll bide my time.'

And though he was here, assisting us in a manner of speaking, it was Muraki who still disturbed me the most. More so than those holding us. I was just glad he was on our side for once.

The boy gathered our collective bags and left, moving towards the front of the helicopter. Tsuzuki coughed a little and glanced at me, amethyst eyes wide in silent question. Silent questions, for there was not but one that could have covered all the confusion he and I both were feeling at that moment. And Oriya too. Muraki? Who knew? The man never seemed fazed by anything and now was to be no exception.

Tsuzuki bit his lip a little as though he'd only just observed the lingering pain from any one of his wounds that had long since failed to heal. His eyes met mine.

"Our powers seem to be useless here..." He mumbled, flexing his fists in the constriction of the handcuffs, testing their strength. "It's almost as though there's some sort of barrier between my consciousness and my spiritual energy. ... Dammit!"

I nodded understandably. I too could sense that unsurpassable wall stretched over my spiritual mentality, as though this figurative blanket had somehow lulled the mana within me, to sleep. It was unresponsive to any of my mental probes. "Well it comes as no surprise really. It seems obvious, given the nature of who we are dealing with, that these 'children' must have various methods in order to restrain supernatural beings from accessing their powers. Otherwise they'd be unable to secure their own safety, no?"

The dark haired Shinigami muttered his agreement, inhaling sharply as though restraining a cloud of pent up aggression and frustration. It was interesting to see Tsuzuki this way; he was usually as goofy and laid back as I was. I suppose there are such things as being pushed to the edge of one's limit. And it seemed that Tsuzuki was teetering on the end of his, balancing on the tip of a knife blade so to speak. Precariously tilting either way would be more than enough to overthrow him into a deep pool of uncertainty and fear from which he would be unable to surface.

No? Ah well, call it the poet in me.

Tsuzuki looked at each of our faces in turn, expression softening as he met Muraki's intense gaze for a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. He heaved a little sigh.

"Well, on the positive side of things, at least Hisoka and the others managed to make it out!" He grinned determinedly, hope restored in those wide amethyst eyes. At the mention of the kid's name, I noticed the doctor bridle a little, a slight shiver cascading along those broad shoulders like a cat bristling its' fur in a cold wind. The mention of Hisoka's name clearly provoked some level of disconcertment in him, which I could only assume surmounted to jealousy on his behalf. Perhaps to him the kid represented nothing more than a rival for Tsuzuki's attention. As quickly as the action occurred it was gone and Muraki was simply staring off into space again as though nothing had happened.

"So... any idea where we're heading?" Oriya finally conceded to asking the question that was on all our minds. I wished I could have answered it and astounded him with my vast pool of knowledge, but for once I had to surrender my powerful logic to a typical, blond stereotype response.

"Beats me! I don't know about you guys, but I took a nice little detour through the fascinating world of the interior burlap bag and missed the lecture regarding our final destination. A sacrifice, but well worth it to see dust mites in their natural habitat."

"You geeky idiot." Oriya said, clearly praising me affectionately for my superior sense of humor and ability to lighten an otherwise dull mood. "Unfortunately, I'm as clueless as this dippy blond. Seems I was unconscious for too long to overhear anything useful."

"Dippy blond... now that's something you haven't called me in bed before!" I said brightly.

Oriya flashed me a look of love and adoration. "Don't think these handcuffs will stop me from finding a way to hurt you, cupcake."

I cut short my well-deserved pun about how he had a lot of practice escaping from handcuffs and just settled for an innocent looking smile. He tutted in return and glanced over at Tsuzuki and Muraki, his expression asking whether or not they had managed to figure out anything useful.

Tsuzuki met my gaze and sighed irritably, response enough to establish that he was in the same boat as us. Hesitantly, and pointedly avoiding eye contact, he inclined his head a little in Muraki's direction. The doctors' eyes were trained towards the front of the helicopter, flickering across the corners made by the wall of the vehicle and the backs of the seats and moving to appraise the wall to the right of me. I shied away from his intense gaze, relaxing into a sitting position beside Oriya. The swordsman nudged me with his shoulder in a sort of comradely gesture and then turned his attention to his old friend, who was subjecting the interior of the helicopter to his fierce scrutiny.

"Do you have any idea where we're heading?" Tsuzuki asked, trying to sound stern and failing to withhold the timid tremor wavering beneath the surface. As always, the presence of the doctor only served to make my co-worker timid and bashful.

Muraki continued to look completely beyond us. "No." He said simply, distracted.

I wondered what had snagged his attention so aptly and decided that I should take a look for myself. A more responsible Shinigami would have done so immediately after revival to ensure that they were safe from ulterior magical forces and spells, but no one can ever accuse me of being responsible. Thank god.

A Guardian of Death is bestowed with a series of mystical abilities to assist them in missions regarding supernatural forces. Though particular magical properties are specified depending on the spiritual energy of each individual, there are some attributes that are compulsory and do not differ between agents. Such as invisibility: the ability to phase into what we called our Ghost Form and evade detection from the eyes of normal human beings. The most useful ability in my opinion is that of the Sixth sense: allowing us to perceive elements of the Nether Regions such as Shades, wraiths, yurei and demons. Whilst most mortals are unable to register the presence of such beings, it is a necessity for Shinigami to sense and appraise them for the purpose of our investigations.

Primarily, most guardians have a sixth sense radius of three distinct levels of penetration, which is usually enough to see the more esteemed of supernatural beings. Those that we are expected to engage in combat are more often than not, the type that possess the stereotypical arrogance of demon kind and will appear on the first level, becoming visible to even mortals. It's a confidence thing, I suppose. Demons like to show off this way in order to enforce their superiority and whilst not exactly practical, it portrays their power and establishes their dominance. Such as an owl puffing up its' feathers to make itself look bigger, it is the illusion that will lend to the adversary a pre-conceived cognition of power and glory. When it boils down to it, it's all about the posturing.

However, for those of us who are more lover than fighter, the second level of penetration, allows guardians to see one another when we shift into invisibility. That way we don't lose each other if we are scoping out a large building and are forced to shatter the illusion of stealth by calling out one another's names. Supernatural beings such as wraiths and shades also appear on this level, with the exception of the spiritually exceptional ones that are able to cross over into the first level from time to time, imprinting themselves there for whatever reason they have.

Usually these two fields are more than enough, especially for guardians. But as a student of demonology, I always thought it practical to possess an understanding of various levels of penetration that spiritual beings possess. Most garden variety ethereal creatures have a sixth sense of eight or so level penetration, able to discern other beings whether they are in their true form or not. For example, a demon operating on the eighth level of penetration would have been able to see Saagatanus for what it was when it took possession of Tsuzuki. Something I wish I had been able to see myself and save us all a lot of trouble.

Because of my desire to obtain a deeper level of sight into the various fields of spiritual penetration, I took the liberty of enforcing my glasses with a self-enacting link into the third and fourth level of penetration. I plan to possess all eight one day in my humble corrective lenses but for now I am satisfied with four. On the third level I can discern the insubstantial form of most minor demons, detect curse markings and distinguish malignant influence over a mortal. It also assists in translating demonic scripture, which can be quite obtuse and random even among demons. It's a wonder they have any idea what they themselves are writing. I've known cases where demons have become confused by scripture that they themselves wrote!

This link in my glasses did not come at an easy price. It was a risky affair, which just happened to involve the binding of a djinni named Ichibana, whom I had sealed into the glass. It was his sight I had 'borrowed' and as a result, I had a constant traveling companion to stay on top of. I had a great deal of trust in the djinni however and he was now integral to our plans.

Whatever the case, now that I had actually focused my attention on the area in which we were sitting, the cause of Muraki's distraction became embarrassingly apparent. In the first and second field of penetration I was unable to discern much of anything, if you did not count the subtle feeling of negative essence pilfering from Muraki like a bad smell on the second plane. On the third level however, I registered five distinct spiritual essences from the four major corners and one directly above the area in which we were sitting, suspended from the ceiling like some unnatural bat. It took me a while to recognize them for what they were, not from insufficient knowledge mind you, but from my lack of familiarity with them. This particular breed of spiritual entity was rarely employed nowadays mostly due to their mischievous nature and tendency to cause more trouble than they are worth. I knew this from experience.

Flattering security indeed. Wherever we were being transported to, we were being taken there first class in the company of djinn. Each one was contained within a pentagram detectable only on the second level of penetration. All were stationary, resting outside of their physical forms that were prone to putting additional strain on their essence whilst they served their sentence in the mortal realm. No doubt that they were the cause of the supernatural restraint, preventing my healing ability from taking effect. I glanced over at Muraki, realizing that he too was able to glimpse beyond the first level of penetration, an amazing feat for a mortal. Most mortals with the sixth sense can only view brief glimpses of the second level of penetration, which is why they limit the sixth sense as a perception in singularly the register of ghostly apparitions. I wondered whether or not Muraki too had enforced his glasses in order to enhance his field of supernatural vision? I certainly did not believe that he sincerely needed them to aid in his mortal vision. Perhaps that abnormal icy blue orb jammed into his right eye socket was the enforcement that made his Sight possible? Whatever the case, I got the impression that Muraki was able to penetrate into many more levels then I was able and I was suddenly, and abruptly feeling jealous.

I returned to studying the Djinn. They weren't of the particularly dangerous tribes such as shaitan and marids (it would have been absurd to contain a marid in an area far from water, anyhow) but that didn't make me any less wary of them. A djinni is best renowned for its' intelligent and resourceful nature. And like a woman who knows that she is beautiful and a man that knows that he is handsome, they were more often than not boastful about it. Again, a first hand account.

The two djinn stationed behind the pilot and co-pilots seat's, were of the Jann variety distinguishable by their insubstantial form of swirling dust motes. Ichibana, my own djinni, was of this particular tribe himself. The ones in the two corners of the wall we were leaning against were of the Jinn tribe, their essence revealing itself as a small whirlwind. The one above our heads was of the same type, though this one was slightly more dashing in the rising and falling semblance of a dust devil. This seemed to be the only one of which was currently active. The others appeared to be in a stationary form of rest and were remaining relatively passive.

Muraki made a brief, disgusted noise. Like a snake spitting.

"Unpleasant." He murmured, resting back against the wall, paying little mind to the stationary djinni separated by no less than a foot from his left elbow. He made a prim, courtly gesture with his head. "Sit back, Asato. Judging by our level of security, I think it is safe to say that we are expected to be waiting for some time."

Tsuzuki shifted a little on his knees, that stubborn childish expression fixed very firmly across his lean features. It was amazing how much he looked like a kid about to throw a temper tantrum whenever he pulled that face.

"I'm fine." He said at last.

Muraki was curt, lifting one silver eyebrow in barely suppressed humor. Clearly he was well versed with my friend's behavioral tendencies by this point and found it as amusing as I did.

"Surely you are not going to crouch like that until we reach our destination?" The self-trained sorcerer asked, his eyes traveling dangerously low down across Tsuzuki's back. "I certainly would not complain if that is what you choose to do, but I'm sure it is bound to get uncomfortable after I while..."

I chuckled a little nervously and wondered whether I should warn the gentle natured brunette that he was being languorously undressed from behind by this creepy, psycho perve. Evidently, I didn't need to say anything. Tsuzuki apparently had reached the edge of his restraint and consented to the fact that kneeling on the steel, vibrating helicopter floor was not going to do him a world of good. With a defeated sigh he wriggled back, much to the doctors' obvious delight, and squeezed himself between Oriya and Muraki, closing himself off as tightly as possible from making any physical contact. Despite his having already consented to the doctors' advances, there was very little open reciprocation in their public appearances. Well, less from Tsuzuki, if we're being brutally honest here.

Oriya did not notice his discomfort, or else chose to ignore it completely. He pressed the crown of his head to the wall behind us and puffed his cheeks out, exhaling loudly to express his growing discontentment.

"What did you guy's see?" He indirectly asked Muraki and I. "You were both staring at something I couldn't make out. Do I even want to know?"

I explained to him the presence of the djinn and made it perfectly clear that their actions towards us were solely dependent on what was ordained to them by their current masters. Oriya was suitably impressed.

"Guess this means I can relax for a while then." He murmured, allowing his dark eyes to sheathe themselves behind long lashes. "Damn... I just want to get this over with already and have a puff of my pipe."

I smiled warmly at his light-hearted complaint. I was fond of Oriya. Although saying that I was fond of him, made our current relationship sound lighter than it actually was. I liked his forthright nature and austere dignity. He was a noble, loyal man with traditional values of morality in family and friendship. Though young (To a Shinigami like me that is, to mortals you might argue that by early 30's you are not technically classified as 'young') I imagined him with the essence of someone whose soul was much older. And this did not include his crouching spider. This was the soul that belonged entirely to Oriya. The soul that had seen many lives before this one and still retained the knowledge necessary to deal in any matter presented to him. Oriya was unusually clement for someone with close ties to Muraki; a brutal man in application of all emotions, such as the obvious passion he exemplified for Tsuzuki.

Oriya did not have that feel about him. Despite his loyal ties to the good doctor, the swordsman possessed warmth, a gentle teasing nature that fleshed him out beyond that of an exemplary Samurai. Much to everyone's surprise, including my own, he and I got along swimmingly. Even more surprising, was that it had not taken long for the two of us to grow comfortable in this arrangement. By the eve of our first fortnight together… well, you know all about that.

I watched him silently for a moment and then decided it was worth the risk, and shuffled closer leaning my head on his broad shoulder. One eye immediately cracked open to focus on me.

"Just what do you think you're doing?"

I gave him my most winning smile. "Snuggling." I nuzzled his neck with my face to emphasize the point. If this trip really was going to take forever and a day, I at least wanted to spend it comfortably and Oriya's shoulder proved to be a most appealing roost. Excellent comfort and support!

His eyebrows furrowed. A sign that usually indicated that he meant to tease me. "I'm not your pillow."

I ignored him and shut my eyes, taking in the heady scent of masculine sweat rising up from the collar of the tight black shirt he had chosen for infiltration purposes. I found this tactic worked best whenever Oriya was intent on teasing me, for more often then not he reciprocated when he saw that I was moderately serious.

Success! At my lack of witty reply, I felt the slightly oppressive weight press down over the rise of my hairline as he rested his head against mine. A straight nose rubbed against my forehead briefly in hesitant affection and I gave a slight smile, thinking how nice it was to be awarded this sensitivity without even needing to get drunk.

Tsuzuki broke through my momentary contentment by reminding us all that he has to be the center of attention all the time. What an attention whore, honest to God!

He emitted a pitiful puppy whimper that probably had nothing to do with the fact that Muraki was attempting to stick his tongue down his ear and tears beaded up in the corners of his eyes.

"How did we manage to get ourselves into this situation, again?" He asked no one in particular. "How did it snowball into something this big? I can't seem to put a finger on one particular event that led to all this!"

It was Muraki, surprisingly who answered. Relenting in his onslaught of Tsuzuki's audio receptor, the doctor lent back against the wall, his visible eye shut and a knowing smile slightly peaking his lips.

"I can help you there." He said in that same predatory tone of voice that sent shivers up my spine whenever I heard it. And not those good spanky kind of shivers either. "And seeing as how we have time to kill, we really ought to attempt to fill in the blanks and collaborate our acquired information. It may come in useful later once we've eluded our kind hosts here."

I like how he didn't for one second doubt that we were going to elude our captors grasp. To Muraki, as always it was simply a matter of when. When it suited him. When he felt like it. Sometimes I had to wonder whether or not he had some perception of things before they even happened, as he was always so assured and confident in how people and events would unfold before his eyes. Then I remembered Kyoto and quickly relinquished the thought.

"Sounds like the best course of action to me!" I enthused, lifting my head from Oriya's shoulder in renewed energy. In my opinion, there was only one worse thing in the world then being up shit creek without a paddle, and that was being up shit creek with a toothpick as a paddle and no wet wipes. Having direction gave us motive. And I too was curious to unfold a few more layers of this seemingly complex mess we had landed ourselves into.

Muraki considered silently for a moment as though settling on an appropriate opening for his version of events. He eventually nodded as though he had targeted the most satisfying point and turned to our captive attention.

"Well..." He began. "I suppose that my involvement here, began the moment I entered into a nightmare I have became all together too accustomed to..."

- EC -

A/N: Thanks everyone for all the support over the years! I appreciate every one of my readers, for all the kindness you have shown me. It still amazes me to this day that people are out there enjoying my work, reviewing still and really get involved in the story! Makes all the work worthwhile. So thanks again for all your patience and I hope you guys enjoy the all-new version!