Disclaimers: I do not own ZOMBIE-LOAN
A/N I know it's taken a while. But here it is. The final chapter of Death Offer. Thank you for your patience, and for tuning in this long to my story! Really, I deeply appreciate it. You guys are awesome. I hope you all enjoy it! And don't forget to R&R!
Chapter 13. Reaper's Key
"I-I d-don't understand—" Michiru began in a stuttered, confused as to why this was happening.
"Isn't it obvious?" Shiba continued to smile, genuinely for once. He stood, heavily leaning on his scythe with a sigh at his lips. He spoke softly and honestly, which had surprised the girl immensely.
And had caused her eyes to go wide in shock.
"Isn't there anyway for us to find her? What if we called Shimotsuki-san?" Toko had been first to ask.
The Z-Loan team were currently located in the living room. Well, most of them were anyways. Bekko-san and Yuuta-kun weren't there, however Sotetsu-san as well as Otsu-san had attended. As for Undertaker-san, there was no way for him to meet with the group since he was busy with his daughter.
"Even if she did get here, what would be the point of her using her abilities? We have no idea where to even begin searching for Kita-san." Shito explained with mild frustration.
"We should really look into implanting a tracking device on this girl. How many times have we lost her now?" Chika grumbled hotly.
"I've lost count personally." Sotetsu-san piped amicably.
"This isn't something good to joke about you know." Otsu-san dully pointed out.
Sotetsu eyed his friend and shrugged. "I'm only trying to lighten the mood. Besides, as many times as she goes missing, she always does come back in one piece. Our Michiru-chan is a tough cookie."
As much as he hated to admit it, though at least never aloud, Zarame did agree with the other red head. Michiru is a very strong girl, and can be quite clever when she wants to be. She could very well beat that idiotic Shiba to a pulp and potentially return to this world with only a few scrapes. Except that even though the Reaper knew this, it didn't help to soothe his worries any less.
He was actually contemplating leaving the group behind to go begin searching himself, but as the others pointed out, where would he even consider starting to look? 'This is entirely too frustrating. Michiru-chan should not be out there, nor should I be standing here waiting for these ningen to conjure some form of solution to this problem.' Zarame thought as he coolly stared out of the living room window. He couldn't bear sitting down next to anyone, let alone be near them with the amount of energy he was letting off. People were keeping warm with tea due to his bursting frosty aura.
"We should at least be doing something productive here! By contacting Shimotsuki-san we'd be able to start somewhere. It's better than just sitting around." Toko threw in suddenly.
Chika clutched his girlfriends hand and squeezed lightly. "I agree with that. We shouldn't just be waiting here for the answer to just come to us." He looked up to his partner and grinned. "How about we go to the Ferryman and see what he can do?"
"He wasn't answering any of my calls when I tried reaching him." Otsu-san said gruffly. "I don't think he's at the office."
"Feh, he'll just show up once we get there. I mean when has he never been in his office when we go?" Chika brushed off easily.
"It's worth a shot." Zen added.
"Let's be going then." Shito muttered, pushing himself off the wall he had been leaning on. He sent Sotetsu a look. "Stay here and protect Koyomi-san. Akatsuki, Inubashiri, Touma-san and presumably Shinigami-san and I will be going to the Ferryman."
"Now that's what I'm talking about!" Toko smirked. "Let's go Whitey." She tugged her boyfriend out of his chair and made her way to the door.
"Okay, I guess we're staying back to hold up the fort Otsu-kun~." Sotetsu scratched the back of his neck and chuckled a bit.
"Aa." Otsu muttered in agreement, making himself comfortable on the couch. "Don't be long."
"No worries." Zen shot him a thumbs up and followed after Chika.
Zarame held back a sigh as he turned away from the window, exchanging small nods with Shito. "Let's make it a short visit. I am not fond of your Ferryman." He spoke softly, walking past the rest of the group. He had noticed how they shivered from his aura as he made his way by. He would have to try his best to keep calm to prevent accidentally freezing them into blocks of ice with his anger. Michiru wouldn't be too happy about it if he did…
"Don't worry." Shito came up behind Zarame and placed a hand on his shoulder. "We will find her. It's just a matter of time."
Zarame grunted in response. 'You are correct, we will find her. And when I do, I will rip Reiichirou Shibas' heart out of his weak little chest.' He mentally vowed, his eyes burning with much untamed hatred.
"Let's be going."
One bus ride and a four block walk later, the team found themselves staring into what used to be an office space occupied by Z-Loan. No furniture was left in the room let alone any documents or even a hint of Bekko-sans' whereabouts. It was all just empty.
"What the hell?" Chika walked in cautiously, looking around the entire place.
Shito narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Odd."
The two A-Loan members trailed in after Chika, and looked just as confused. "Has this ever happened before?" Toko asked curiously.
Her silver haired boyfriend had shaken his head, "No, this place has always been occupied by the Ferryman. I don't get—"
"I recognize this kind of work." Zarame spoke suddenly, almost urgently from the doorway. He had a scowl that darkened his face as well as a hint of annoyance that sparked in his eyes. "We need to leave."
With one brow raised, Chika dared to open his mouth. "Uh, are ya gunna tell us why we're leaving?"
Honestly, was this little brat for real? Actually questioning the Reaper?
Maybe he had felt the sheer anger that pulsed from the innocent but deadly looking school uniform clad reaper. Or perhaps he had noticed the minor twitch of the eye that had occurred after he had spoken. Either way, Chika was holding up his hands nervously as Zarame entered the room.
"Easy there guy, no need to turn on ourselves." Zen said in a rather squeak-ish tone.
Zarame snorted at the thought. Yes, how ironic that these people in front of him were actually fare game for him to take out, and yet he wasn't because they were friends with his girlfriend. He dare not admit that they meant anything to him. Because lets face it, a reaper should not be so dependant on others, not to mention he generally lacks in time to spend with such people. Well, except for Michiru-chan. He wouldn't ever leave her for long periods of time alone anymore. Not ever.
The amber haired boy had shifted into his reaping form in a burst of a purple glow, loose feathers floating gently to the floor. "If you all don't immediately circle me and take hold of my scythe," Said blade materialized nearly instantly. "Then we might be in for a minor problem."
Toko and Zen were the first to jump and snatch the handle of the blade, the girl encouraging her boyfriend to do the same. When Chika had grudgingly grasped the handle so did Shito, and next thing they knew they had been transported back to the dorms together.
"Well that was an awkward feeling." Chika shivered. "Let's not do that again."
Shito rolled his eyes, placing a hand to his temple to calm his nerves. "Why did we just teleport back here Shinigami-san?" He asked coolly.
Zarame grunted, brushing back his cloak slowly. "Apparently we didn't escape fast enough. She followed us here."
"Hn? She?" Shito murmured, surprised when a figure had just suddenly appeared in front of them.
At that moment, the group had actually begun to take in their environment and peak around what used to be the living room. Safe for the Reaper, who kept his sights on the new person invading their space.
"What the hell happened here?" Chika yelled. "Where's our furniture? The others?"
Toko gaped as well, eyes widening as she watched the woman materialize what looked to be an oar. "That's a Ferryman!"
"Indeed it is." Zarame growled almost viciously at the woman.
Yes, she was dressed in a similar style of outfit that Bekko-san once wore, her hood shadowing her eyes just as well. The Ferryman merely ignored their outbursts and regarded them with a cold look. "By order of the higher ups, we are to delete all that threaten to destroy the Akashic Records." She spoke tonelessly.
The Reaper resisted the urge to grin wildly, thinking that a good show down with a ferryman would be just the type of thing he needed to wind down. "Hn, I highly suggest you step down. You are not permitted to even lay a finger on me, let alone those whom I carry under my charge." He gripped his scythe rather tightly as a warning.
The woman grunted in a very un-lady-like way. "Do not undermine me, little Shinigami." She shifted her Oar so that it touched the walls of the living room, displaying her own power.
Bit by bit, the Z-Loan teens had watched as their precious living room turned into nothing, which soon caught on to the rest of the dorms. Next thing they knew, the whole building had disappeared, as if it had never existed. Beneath them were now grass and an extended cemetery.
"What the—" Chika began to curse, feeling a little bit outnumbered.
Zarame had narrowed his eyes slightly more, regarding the woman with one of his best cold looks. "Little you say? I would never judge by appearance, you insignificant pest."
"You lecture me still despite my strength?" The woman began say but was silenced by the arctic wave of aura that had come over her. When she raised her gaze to actually look at the Reaper, she had found that a flash of his true nature had appeared briefly in place of the boy. The image of the original Reaper, the true Death, had brought a bit of a shiver down her spine.
"As you can see, I am not a minor Reaper. If you ever dare to insult me in that manor again, I might be forced to delete you." He seethed, the grass around him beginning to gather frost.
The Ferryman recomposed herself and dared to argue. "If you are Death, then why is it you fight your very nature to protect those that endanger the Fates? It is your duty to enforce the law. You of all should know that best, Zarame-sama."
"Even so, I have my reasons." He replied easily, feeling the group behind him grow a little uneasy from this exchange. He needed to wrap this up quickly so that he could find a safe place for them to lay low. "And you remember your place."
"Tch!" The woman bit back a curse. "This isn't over. Next time I find them without your protection, they are mine to be claimed." She hissed. "Believe me, I am a woman of my word." With that said she had dispersed in a small bundle of light, leaving the zombies and the Reaper peacefully in the cemetery.
In the distance a crow squawked from a tree that used to be at the side of the building. Now it just sat next to a bunch of headstones, looking more eerie than usual.
Sighing loudly, Chika had defused the tension in the air a little before speaking. "So, I'm guessing that she was the one who erased our stuff…"
"Probably during a struggle to do the same to the others," Shito added.
Toko gasped. "Oh m-my—The others—Did she—?"
"Probably not." Zarame grunted, turning to face them. "She seemed awfully angry to me." He resisted a small grin. "She had most likely just missed them and in misplaced anger had all but demolished your living room."
"But we were barely gone for an hour! How do you know they got away? Shuuji-kun and those girls, and Koyomi—" Toko babbled worriedly. She jumped when she felt arms wrapped around her waist, but calmed when she realized it was simply Chika trying to comfort her. "Shiro-chan..."
"Don't worry; I'm sure they got out, somehow." Chika tried to comfort, squeezing her gently. He looked up at the Shinigami and added weakly. "Ne Shinigami?"
Zarame nodded. "I am confident they are fine. If you would all hold onto the Scythe again, I will take us to a safe location."
They had been transported to yet another place, however it wasn't familiar to any of them. The best way to describe it was to simply say it was a room in a house. But it didn't have any doors or windows. Oh and the place was fully furnished and equipped with a nice entertainment system.
"Pinch me, I think we're in heaven." Chika sighed dramatically.
Zarame resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "You are in a form of safe house. This is a place that was created by me in cases of emergencies. This is also the dimension in which I had originally brought Michiru, though not the same home."
"R-really?" Toko said in disbelief. "So then…" She began hesitantly. "Do you get satellite here or cable?"
"Are you kidding? He totally gets satellite if he's got that huge of a TV." Zen squealed.
Clearly no one was going to listen to him now, so he just sighed and turned to Shito. "You will all be safe here for now until I locate Michiru and bring her back. That annoying shore man shouldn't be able to find this place so easily. If she should… Well we won't go there."
Shito nodded. "We'll lay low here then. Ganbatte."
"Same to you. Also, that television doesn't have cable. It can play movies and games." Zarame pointed out.
"Great…" Shito muttered.
"Heh." Zarame grinned and disappeared in a flash of black feathers.
"Man! No cable!" Chika's voice bellowed from the couch, causing Shitos' eye to twitch slightly.
'He'd better not take his time. I don't know how long we'll be able to last in this place without killing each other.' Shito thought with a sigh, turning to his friends.
"Lyca, would you please pour me another cup of tea?" The young girl asked softly.
"It would be my pleasure Miss Shimotsuki." Replied the young Werewolf. He took the pot carefully and poured another cup for the girl, mentally thanking Yuuta-kun for some tips on handling delicate pots like this. And just as he finished, he gently place it back on the tray and was about to take it away when something had alerted his senses. Letting out a growl, his eyes had narrowed into slits as his hackles rose. He moved quickly to Shimotsukis' side and stood protectively with his fangs and claws barred at the intruder of his mistress' home.
Shimotsuki had barely even noticed the person, merely sipping at her hot tea while she placed her bookmark in her novel. Looking up she had sighed and greeted the guest, "Shinigami-sama, I had been expecting a visit."
Zarame snorted, "If that's true then call off your puppy."
The Were only snarled in response, "Why you—"
"Lyca." Shimotsuki spoke, silencing him immediately.
He looked back at his mistress and calmed. "Please call for me if you need anything, Shimotsuki-san." He murmured before leaving the room, eyeing Zarame as he passed him.
"Well," Zarame began. "You said you were expecting me."
"Hai," She placed both her book and cup onto the coffee table and folded her hands in her lap. "It has come to my attention that there have been shore men hunting the Z-Loan team. Though I am not under any loan, my family is involved with Bekko-san to some degree that I do not care to explain. In any case, I have noticed that the dorms are missing…"
"Work of the Ferryman." Zarame cursed.
"Yes well, I am not particularly happy about this… Yet you should know that everyone is safe from them, although temporarily until I can discuss a proper agreement with Bekko-san to terminate all the debts."
"Terminate them? What do you mean by that…"
Shimotsuki stared at him and shrugged. "It means that I am looking into buying out Z-Loan to end all of these problems. This way you can return to your duties, the Akashic Records can have time to mend and Michiru can take care of tying up some loose ends with ARRC. She is strong enough to handle that much which will in turn completely stop the records from further crumbling."
"Ah," Zarame nodded. "However the way I understand it, it would be quite the expense."
"That is why I am negotiating with Bekko-san. In addition to buying him out, I would also force all the debtors to repay me the money I am lending them to eliminate their contract. Essentially they would be under a different contract with me until their debt is paid, though without the un-dead portion to it." Shimotsuki explained, regarding him in a serious manor. "Until it is resolved, I will keep the location of the team undisclosed as should you. Ferrymen could be listening to us as we speak."
"I know of their nature." Zarame growled, tightening his grip on his scythe. "While you settle things here, I will try and find Michiru."
"How do you plan on doing that?" Shimotsuki asked curiously.
Zarame shot her a lopsided grin, brushing his cape aside. "I have my ways."
She observed the Reaper dematerialize from her living room, assuming that he had left for another dimension entirely. With a sigh, the girl had picked up her cup of tea and taken another sip. "Hmm." She hummed quietly, looking off to the side. "Shall we continue with our business then?" She questioned aloud, staring stonily at the bored blond man in foreign robes.
Bekko-san merely stepped out from behind a set of doors, his hood pulled up as he proceeded to enter and take a seat. "Gladly, and surprisingly enough, matters have been altered in our favour."
"Hm." Shimotsuki closed her eyes in thought. "Lyca." She called.
"Hai," The Werewolf was within the room in seconds, bowing to his mistress politely while awaiting instructions.
"We will need more tea."
Toko had been tearing whatever paper she could find to make talismans. Since she couldn't find scissors, she had to be extremely careful. She had luckily found pens and markers that had been stored inside the coffee table, but knew that painting ink on the seals would work best. 'We can only pray that this will be enough.' She thought as she continued to make strips.
A loud rumbling had caught some of the people in the room off guard, heads turning to the origins of the sound.
Zen blushed slightly, "Sorry, I feels like it's been days… I'm starved and there's nothing to eat in this... This living room."
"That's because it has been days." Shito said as he chewed on his lip, staring at the TV screen with the utmost interest. "Remember, this dimension was the one Kita-san was taken to in order to train her abilities. In the human world days had passed, however by her description, years had occurred here." He continued in a zombie-like voice, so entrance by the game he was playing.
"Heh… I got you now!" Chika bellowed, pressing several buttons on his controller and successfully using a boost on his go-kart to just barely pass Shito's character on the screen. The winner flashed in big letters on the TV, Chika jumping up to howl in excitement. "Hell yeah! I won! In your face shit-Shitooooo."
The blue haired man had stood up and growled. "I demand a re-match, porcupine."
"Cheh, you're just jealous that I keep whipping you." Chika challenged tauntingly. "No matter how many times we do a re-match, you'll just loose again. Face it, Mario Kart in my game!" He pointed to himself smugly.
Toko rolled her eyes at the comment. "Correction big boy, but I think I made it very clear yesterday that Mario Kart was my game."
Shito grinned at his partner and sat back down on the couch in content. "Yes, I recall the same."
Chika sputtered at his girlfriend and resisted a small whiny noise. "I-I know that! I-I just meant that between me and him it's my game."
"Uh huh," She said in mild doubt, now writing on her seals the proper symbols. "You keep telling yourself that."
Zen snickered lightly, earning himself a glare form the white haired boy. Clearing his throat he had laughed nervously and looked over at Shito for a new topic to discuss. "So… If we've been here for days, does that mean you think the Shinigami forgot about us?"
"He's probably still looking for Michiru-chan." Toko piped helpfully as she scribbled some more.
"I guess.." Zen murmured.
Chika put down his controller and walked around the back of the couch to peak at what his girlfriend was doing, raising a brow at the messy seals. "What are these Toko-chan?"
She looked up at him with a mild twitch in her eye. "They're talismans, baka."
"You mean the kind you use against illegal zombies and stuff?" He asked.
"What else could they be, dobe…" Shito shot at him in annoyance.
"Why you teme—" Chika growled.
Zen huffed loudly, interrupting Chika's phrase. "C'mon you guys, you haven't gone one day yet without fighting."
"It's his fault!" They both said simultaneously, pointing to each other.
Toko stood up with her seals in hand, giving each of them two. "Here, I infused magic in all of them. Help me put them up, two on each wall." She instructed, shutting them up. "They should stick almost like magnets to the walls because of the magic."
Once they had done so, she had asked the boys to clear a space in the center of the room so that she could make a circle to focus in. "I want to keep these active for as long as possible, so I'll be meditating now. It should help to keep the Ferrymen out. But then again, I've never faced one before." She said anxiously.
"It's worth a shot. And at least it gives you something to do other than waste time with us playing video games." Zen laughed, running a hand through his messy hair.
"Yeah…" Toko rubbed her arms in a comforting way before sitting down cross-legged
in the center of the floor.
"Is there anything else we can do to help, Touma-san?" Shito asked politely.
"A-ano—" She stuttered, but cut herself off with a loud gasp. "Someones—" She began, standing to her feet quickly only to find it all too late. A force had broken through her makeshift barrier and now…
Several shapes were materializing in the room, one after another until nine full humans had formed and been removed of their glow. Yet lo and behold, as if by some miracle, there stood the rest of the team that had gone missing.
Sotetsu stood squarely next to the equally intimidating Otsu-san while Undertaker-san stood off gloomily to the side of them, none too impressed he was involved in this to begin with. In front of them were Shuuji-san, Koyomi and surprisingly Lyca as well, which meant someone was watching out for them. And off to the far side were the three little female Reapers glowering at the entire group, still slightly bruised up and ragged looking.
"Shimotsuki-chan got us here!" Koyomi piped. "We were so worried over you guys!" She started to sniffle, almost mulling Shito down as she threw herself at him for a hug. "W-well I was m-mostly worried." She admitted quietly to her boyfriend, smiling brightly when he squeezed back reassuringly.
Lyca glanced around the room quietly, sniffing lightly. "I smell magic… Are you trying to place a barrier here?"
"W-well—" Toko blinked, overwhelmed by everything.
"Aa, those are Toko's seals alright." Shuuji remarked. "Though a little more messy than I remember them being." He also added.
"Aw man, you guys had a TV?" Sotetsu drawled out loudly. "That's not fair, where we were there was absolutely nothing!"
"What more would we need while we had you around for entertainment, Sotetsu." Otsu pointed out dryly.
Sotetsu chuckled loudly, scratching the back of his neck. "Yeah.. Hey at least it was never a dull moment."
Koyomi unlatched herself from Shito, though she kept her arms loosely around his neck she had beamed a smiled at Toko. "You said something about a barrier? I can help you with that!"
"Well then," Toko smiled gently. "I guess everyone should just make themselves comfortable while we work on that."
Soon after, the group had started to babble loudly while Toko tried to understand how they were going to do this. Since the bubbly girl wasn't able to actually properly control her spiritual abilities with Yomi inside her, they had discovered a different way to use her. Despite not being able to have complete access to her powers, they were after all still there. So Toko had thought of using Koyomi had an amplifier to her own abilities, drawing strength from her to make the barrier around their shelter stronger.
"This may not be good enough to hold back that crazy bitch of a Ferryman though.." Chika mumbled worriedly.
'Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chika-kun.' Toko had mentally shot at him.
"Eh? Bitch? A girl attacked you?" Sotetsu asked loudly.
The room had quieted, allowing them to think of this seriously. "Yeah, wasn't she the one who tried to catch you as well?" Shito questioned critically.
"Iie," Otsu had cursed gruffly. "It was and old man with white robes."
Chika had exchanged looks with Shito, a frown on his lips. "Well Shit."
"So basically we have giant targets painted on our back and more than likely several Ferrymen on our asses?" Zen clarified, only earning silence from all of them. "Right, great."
"H-hey, we shouldn't even be here right now. So screw this, we're leaving." Momo-senpai had stood up in a huff, both her comrades mimicking her.
Otsu glared at the Trainee Reapers, "We've already been through this before coming. You can't leave or you might attract the Ferrymen."
Momo shook her blond head in anger, shrilly shrieking. "So unfair."
"Cheh." Chika snorted in distaste. He was about to point out how childish they were being when the building had started to suddenly rumble. At first gently, but then it gradually grew to a more violent shake, the boy falling off the couch roughly while the place continued to quake.
"W-what's going on!" Undertaker-san squeaked in alarm.
"Koyomi!" Shito shouted above the deafening noise of the roaring room.
Said girl squeaked in alarm, but remained in place, trying her best to help Toko. "S-someone is trying to break in! I-I think they followed our trail somehow!" She cried.
The place continued to tremble violently, dropping dust and pieces of plaster from the ceiling on them. Everyone was sent of the floor, covering their heads while larger pieces crumbled and fell over them. Cracks began to form up all the walls around the seals, which were all letting out glowing pulses to reject the invaders.
Beads of sweat rolled down Toko's temples as she concentrated on holding her ground and re-enforcing all the talisman's with every ounce of strength she had. She knew she wasn't as strong as Michiru, but that didn't mean we would give up so easily. She had purpose, a need to protect all these people for as long as humanely possible. She had to, because without her, they were all sitting ducks, just waiting to be erased by the Ferrymen.
"C'mon…" She whispered hoarsely, feeling her surge of strength beginning to dissipate. Then she felt it. Her seals were being overwhelmed, beginning to crack away as easily as the walls.
The Reapers were screeching in terror when the ceiling really began to come down on them. Large chunks were falling, and too frozen to do anything, Momo just watched as part of it was aimed at her. Her eyes widened, another scream set in her throat. She covered her head with her arms and waiting for the pain to occur, yet nothing happened. Squinting, she had peered passed her arms and found the blue haired man with glowing fists had saved her. 'Otsu-san?' She thought in confusion.
"Oi, Sotetsu!" Otsu yelled over the noise, his fists still glowing as he mutilated the large chunks of rubble to harmless dust and stones. "Get your head out of your ass and help me!"
Sotetsu hollered with laughter, forming his axe with ease. He bounced up off the shaking foundation, swinging his axe over his shoulder. "Well then, I'll cover the little witches over here while you take care of them." He jumped over the furniture, whacking away any potentially dangerous pieces as he went.
"I-I c-can't…" Toko stuttered, her body feeling more than just exhausted.
"Hang i-in there." Koyomi encourage.
Lyca growled in a very un-human like way while he kept most of the harmful pieces away from both himself and Undertaker-san. Since the old man chose to cower slightly in fear at the crumbling safe house, this left Lyca to grudgingly protect him. His mistress wouldn't have it any other way and he would never disobey her orders.
The red head with the axe on the other hand kept working at shielding the girls to the point where he didn't need to knock away any pieces anymore. The roof seemed to be clear off now, giving them all a view of the night sky. "Now that can't be good…" He swallowed the lump in his throat nervously.
With the roof gone, and the seals now burnt through, the pink haired girl could only let out a soft moan before collapsing forward onto Koyomi. Her energy just completely zapped right out of her.
"A-ah! Toko-chan!" Koyomi gasped, hugging the girl protectively. 'She probably hadn't expected that it would take up this much strength to try and keep out those creeps.'
Chika looked up from the protection of his arms to see his girlfriend out like a light bulb in Koyomi's enormous chest. 'Shit, she pushed herself too much—' He thought, his heart suddenly leaping into his throat. "Toko!"
"Well then, what is it that we have here?" Came a woman's voice.
"Illegal zombies, huddled together." An older males voice pointed out in amusement.
Two cloaked Ferrymen stood above the safe house, staring into the broken down place through the missing roof. It was hard to believe that all it took was the strength of two Ferrymen to bring down the house like they did, which made them all the more nervous.
Momo stood up at the comment, dusting herself off so that she could properly glare at the Ferrymen. "We are not illegal zombies. We're Reapers! We've got nothing to do with this!" She yelled at them hotly.
"Ah, and three annoying little Shinigami… My mistake… Run along now, we don't have orders to erase your kind." The older Ferryman said with a gesture of his hand.
Momo looked down at her terrified friends and nodded to them. "Girls, lets get the hell out of here." She growled, leading the way out as she tore open a portal to leave. She sent a brief apologetic look towards the others, the group looking as tired and scared as her. 'Kami help them…' She thought as she left, her friends trailing behind her.
"Little wimps." Chika cursed.
"Agreed." Shito grunted, tossing his right hand to Chika. "We should at least go down fighting, Akatsuki."
"Heh." The white haired boy grinned, catching the hand and tossing his own. "Agreed." He mimicked, attaching his real hand to his wrist to form his Katana.
Shito formed his pistol, feeling a whole lot better with the smooth weapon in his hand. "Be prepared."
The woman smiled darkly at them. "Well, isn't this cute. Do you really think you stand a chance against us? Such persistence…"
"…Is quite irritating." The older Ferryman finished.
Both Chika and Shito stiffened, preparing themselves for what could possibly be their last fight. They shot looks around the equally nervous group in the house, all most likely thinking the same thing.
'How in the hell are we supposed to get passed these guys when they can erase us with a touch of those Oars?'
"Actually, I find them to be quite inspiring."
The sudden chill in the air was the best damn indication that back up had arrived. Not to mention just watching as the Oars held by the Ferrymen began to ice over from one end to the other. The enemy had been forced to let go of their weapons in order to preserve their hands from the attack. However before the things could even remotely land, a snap of a finger sounded causing the ice to shatter, destroying the Oars in the process.
"S-shinigami-sama." The woman hissed. "How dare you—"
"Actually, how dare you Kanro." Zarame snarled at her, standing directly opposite of them on the house walls. "I already told you, these people are under my protection and supervision. You cannot harm them."
"Not to mention…" Came a second voice, a blur of white and lilac forming next to Zarame on the wall. "As I hear it, you have new orders from the higher ups."
Kanro, the female Ferryman, narrowed her eyes on the lilac haired girl. "You. You're that little nuisance with the sun goddess's soul."
Michiru frowned, forming her scythes in a flash. 'Nuisance?' She mentally repeated.
The girl glanced down for the first time on her friends, smiling warmly at her partners. "Chika-kun, Shito-kun." She greeted.
"Pleased to see you're alright too." Shito smirked, placing one hand in his pocket while the other held his pistol casually.
"Well I'll be damned before I let these illegal zombies get away again!" Kanro interrupted shrilly. "They have caused enough problems with the fates!" She yelled, charging forward with or without her oar.
"Kanro-san!" The older Ferryman shouted in alarm, shooting out an arm to try and catch her.
Michiru had moved at the exact moment the woman had, her olive eyes narrowing on her target as she produced an extensive wall of flames to stop the crazed woman in her tracks. As it turned out, it had done the trick to stop her. The woman had just barely been able to fall back, burnt portions of her robes proving just that. Whereas Michiru had landed gracefully on her feet next to her partners, twisting her blades so that they were protectively in front of her body before dispersing the flames.
"I told you, your orders have changed. Leave now." Michiru warned darkly, her eyes glowing with a hint of gold. "Or I won't be so nice."
"Little brat." Kanro spat, standing next to her partner once more.
"Nice." Chika grinned, leaning his Katana on his shoulder smugly.
Shito mirrored the grin. "We have missed you presence dearly Kita-san."
"Yare yare…" Came the groans of an exasperated Bekko-san. He had appeared in front of Koyomi and the knocked out Toko, his hood covering half his face which made him appear more gloomy than usual. "Alas Kanro-san, she is right."
"Bekko! That's not possible, the records—" Kanro began to argue.
"—Are all safe and sound back where they belong. And repaired practically seamlessly no less." Bekko-san answered easily. "Now if you wouldn't mind leaving, I have other business to tend to with every person in this room… Well with the exception of you Lyca and of course Koyomi." To which the Werewolf merely grunted.
"Let's just leave, if our commands have changed we should be informed immediately." The older Ferryman told his partner.
The woman bit her lip in frustration, but nodded nonetheless. "We'll be seeing each other again, little girl." She vowed, following her partner as he created a doorway to Higan.
When they both left, Michiru had dropped her guard and dematerialized her blades with a small sigh. She had felt Zarame appear next to her and leaned slightly on him while she yawned. "Thank gosh she didn't pick any fights…"
"Yes, you put on a fabulous act." Zarame held her side and supported her weight. "You've exhausted yourself too much."
"W-wait, what do you mean she exhausted herself?" Zen jumped in front of Michiru. "Would have been able to fight at all if that Kanro had decided to ignore the warning?"
Michiru smiled sheepishly, "We-well… No. I nearly passed out just making that wall to stop her." She laughed weakly.
"So essentially we would have lost big time if they hadn't turn tail and run." Shuuji concluded.
"Now that's a little bit of a scary thought." Zen muttered.
"Well thanks for the save anyways! And you smell like sweat and dirt by the way." Chika pointed out with a laugh. "You need a shower Gopher."
Michiru glared at him. "Mou, you are so mean." But then she looked up at Zarame, a little self conscience. "Um, am I really that bad?" She asked in a tiny insecure voice.
The Reaper rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I really don't care what that baka says. I've been depraved long enough from holding you."
Michiru held back a blush, though not much would have been seen since her cheeks were covered in mud anyways. She really was a little roughed up.
"Hai hai, everyone is happy to be together again. Now if you all don't mind I am on a strict schedule." Bekko-san told them all uninterestedly. "Onegai minna-san come gather to the centre of the, well, what's left of the room."
"Yay yay! Come on minna-san~!" Yuuta bounced up from behind Bekko-san in one of his usual outfits. "Announcement time~"
"Uh," Zen blinked as the others gathered around Bekko, and looked up at Michiru. "Do you know what this is about?"
Michiru smiled weakly. "No need to worry." She held in a giggle when her two partners gave her the same look.
"Now now." Bekko-san had ushered them to quiet down. "All your contracts have been paid. Though the sum varies between you all, your ties are broken with me and you are all living, breathing, humans once more." On that note, all the weapons that had been formed had dissipated. "Though your debts are paid off from me, you are now under a new living contract with Shimotsuki-san. She will provide you all with the paperwork of the total debt that you owe her family."
Chika stared down at his right hand, the feeling washing over him completely foreign and… welcomed. He felt warm, he could feel his heart beat again. He shot a glance to his partner, and grinned at his widened eyes. "Heh, so how does it feel, shit-Shito? Feeling alive?"
"For the first time." Shito muttered back a little dumbfounded. 'Is this truly real?'
Michiru inclined her head to her boyfriend and sighed happily. All of their hard work had finally paid off. The timing was close, but they had made it. 'Thank kami their safe. All my friends… they had me worried… But Shiba-san…' She zoned out for a few minutes, just thinking of the boy and what a true sacrifice he had been in order for all of this to occur.
"Now remember everyone, you are human again. So don't be reckless anymore. Next time you die, it will be the real thing." Bekko spoke tonelessly. "Oh, and also don't forget to thank the combined efforts of Michiru-chan, Yuuta-kun and Shimotsuki-san for making all of this possible."
Maybe it was due to shock, which everyone was… Because the room, well whatever was left of this safe house, was absolutely quiet.
"I-is this… Really it?"
It was Undertaker-san that had spoken up in a stutter.
"We're… alive." Otsu-san had muttered in disbelief.
Suddenly there was a round of cheering. Howls of laughter and hoots of glee as they all celebrated they're lives being restored. Though Bekko kept to himself, he had shot Michiru and Zarame a look that insisted he did not want to remain with the joyful group. It just wasn't his thing being all happy and loud. He much preferred silence with a hint of gloom in the air. So without much of a word he had let himself out of the dimension quietly, shooting a crooked grin at the always surprising and interesting girl, Michiru.
The girl had returned a small smile towards Bekko-san, sighing when he had left. This life now, would take a large turn for all of them. Everything was different now that the Zombie-Loan contracts were paid off. 'Well, they still owe someone money. But I don't think Shimotsuki-san will have much of an issue with that once they're under a contract with her family.' She leaned a little more heavily against her boyfriend, dots beginning to cloud her vision. "Za-Zarame-kuuuuun…" She slurred slightly. As if on cue, her white apparel had shimmered and disappeared, leaving her in her Prince costume from the day of the school play.
"Michiru-chan!" Her boyfriend had said in fright, feeling her lean more and more into him.
"L-let's… go h-home." She said finally with a smile, before letting her body do its thing and pass out.
Zarame silently swore when she slump against him, awkwardly shuffling her into his arms until he was alright to carry her properly. Although he was worried that she would be out of it for a while, he couldn't help but feel okay just because of that smile of hers that remained on her lips even as she slept. So he let out a breath he wasn't aware he was holding, and turned his gaze towards the group that had suddenly become anxious.
"Let's return to your world, shall we?" He smirked.
"Hell yeah!" Chika spoke up for everyone.
The Reaper resisted rolling his eyes and merely turned around instead, opening a portal back to the proper dimension. And without any further ado, they had all walked in, returning home together.
"…Now do it, take them and get out of here before they show up and delete your friends." He coughed, more blood coating him.
The spirals of flames that had been in an endless battle with the freezing element had quickly conquered over it, eliminating them and lighting their battlegrounds in an orange glow.
"I-I d-don't understand—" Michiru began in a stuttered, confused as to why this was happening.
"Isn't it obvious?" Shiba continued to smile, genuinely for once.
Michiru shot up in bed, beads of sweat running down her face as she tried to calm her racing heart. She stared down at her comforter and breathed in deeply, trying to decipher her dream from reality. 'I remember now…' She put a hand against her forehead and closed her eyes. 'Shiba-kun…' She thought desperately.
She then shook her head and looked around, gathering her surroundings. Well, she was back in her room at the dorms, a chair placed next to her bed where she presumed Zarame sat most of the time. 'Where is he? Usually he's glued to my bedside.' She thought as she rolled her shoulders a little and stretched her arms. It felt like she had been asleep for years she was so stiff.
There was a small knock at her open door, and in walked her boyfriend with a relieved smile on his face. "Michiru-chan? Thank Kami you're finally awake." He walked around her bed and made his way up to her to check her temperature. "You know you can be the most idiotic person when it comes to protecting your friends." Zarame grumble, his smile rapidly slipping off his face.
"S-sumimasen." Michiru blushed at her nervous stutter. "I can't help it sometimes."
"You've had everyone worried for the past three days." He chastised, leaning back to place both his hands in his pockets. "Especially after disappearing the way you had… I thought for a moment that I had lost you." He admitted, his brows knitting together in deep thought. He withdrew one hand from his pocket and brushed some stray hair away from her heart shaped face. "On another note, your friends are curious to know how it is that their contracts are broken since last I checked, they had all been in an immense amount of debt."
"W-well i-it's a l-long story—" Michiru began, and next thing she knew, she was hosting a full house of people in her room. Excluding Shimotsuki-san and Lyca, they were all pretty much there.
"Can't start the story without us, Gopher." Chika grinned.
Oh kami, how embarrassing… She was covered in sweat and most likely hadn't showered for days. How could they even bare to stay in the same room as her?
"After all, we do have you to thank for saving us." Toko also added in with a big smile.
Sure she had saved them all, but it did cost something…
Sotetsu chuckled loudly and leaned on both Shito and Chika. "Yeah, not to mention if it weren't for you, we wouldn't have gotten the dorms back after they'd gotten erased."
And… Wait the dorms had been erased? When had that happened?
"Either way we a very grateful, Kita-san."
Michiru just stared at them in awe, feeling slightly overwhelmed. Though this was normal when it came to her friends, so she had turned away to look for her glasses while she hid the dark blush that coated her cheeks. When she found them, she had turned around to face them again and stared before placing on her glasses.
"A-ano… m-minna-san… I don't know where to start… I just know that the only reason I was able to help you was because I had to sacrifice a great power to pay off most of your loans." She started, her eyes turning sullen at the thought of her tiring battle.
"What do you mean?" Zen asked.
"I-I was fighting Shiba-kun, tooth and nail to stop him from ever hurting any of you again. But when it came down to it, the only reason I was able to over power him was because he gave up." She looked up at Chika sadly.
He dropped roughly to his knees, his weight leaning against his scythe to keep himself up right. "This needed to look real. Needed to look like I was ready to kill you…" His voice strained, the boy coughing up more blood. "I—" He covered his mouth to shield her from his blood, groaning in pain when he coughed more violently.
"Sh-Shiba-kun!" Michiru dropped to her knees as well and touched his shoulder.
"I've been waiting now, for the perfect time to betray ARRC. This is it. The cores that I stole are much greater in value, you can use them now." He said urgently, looking down at his bloodied hand in disdain. "I've done a lot of terrible things as a false reaper, but it was all vital for this." He dematerialized the scythe he had been leaning on, his arms dropping into the sands roughly.
Michiru gaped at him, in complete disbelief of his confession. "Y-you mean to say, you planned for all of this?"
Shiba shrugged as best as he could. "Not immediately, no. But after I accidentally stole that core and realized its value, I started to make strategies against ARRC." He grinned up at her, blood leaking down both sides of his mouth. "So do it, take the cores and hurry back to HQ. Hakka is bound to be there. He won't be expecting you. He also has the records." He reached into a pocket of his jacket, taking out a folded piece of paper that was covered in dirt and blood. "Here, these are the coordinates to the dimension."
"B-but Shiba-kun, what about you—I can't just do this to you—!" Michiru cried, her eyes tearing up. "What will I tell Ch-Chika-kun?"
He forced the paper into her hands and grasped them. "Tell him that this was always the plan. That I wish him, and all your friends the best. It's been fun." Shiba smiled gently. "Now remember little Michiru-chan, repairing the records won't be easy. You need time. So take down ARRC first and make sure other Ferrymen are there to help. After that, you have to combine your abilities with a core to mend the records. Okay?"
"Y-yes, Amaterasu-sama has already informed me how to properly repair them. But I never thought that I would be using a core to do it. I—I originally planned to sacrifice my powers…" She mumbled a little, sniffling loudly and wiping away her tears.
"I'd never let you do that. Especially since your boyfriend has been waiting centuries to find a girl like you." Shiba half chuckled and half coughed. He sighed and slouched a little, leaning forward so that his forehead was against her shoulder, white feather tickling his cheeks pleasantly. "Now do it, you need to do it now. But just promise me one thing before…"
"Yes?" Michiru whispered, fighting back another wave of sorrow.
"I'm afraid of… this death. I w-wasn't before… But now… Will I be accepted into heaven? Can you send me there? Onegai Michiru-chan..?"
She choked back a sob, her eyes definitely leaking tears. "I-I swear, you will find peace in the after life. I will send you to heaven Shiba-kun."
"I was able to take his cores from him, and used one to pay off a large amount of all your loans. The other portion I had used after I had broken into ARRC and repaired the Akashic Records. If it weren't for Shiba-kun telling me everything, and forcing me to take back the cores, you all wouldn't be here. I even managed to help capture Hakka-san, the leader of ARRC, along with a few other members. By the time I had finished my part, Zarame had found me and a deal had been reached with Bekko-san and Shimotsuki-san. Then we rushed to see all of you, and stop those Ferrymen from harming you."
"…Shiba did that, for us?" Chika asked with a choke.
"Chika…" Toko muttered softly.
Shito placed a hand on his partners shoulder in a comforting manner. "Apparently we were wrong about him. What he did was honourable."
"Because of him, we're all alive right now." Shuuji added in his usual dull tone.
Chika looked up at Michiru and then towards the Reaper. "Do you think.. He went to heaven?"
Michiru blinked in surprise at the question, but nodded nonetheless. Her warm smile graced her lips and she beamed at Chika. "I'm positive that's where he is. I guided him myself. He is at peace."
"Then if that's so…" Chika sniffled loudly, unshed tears in his golden eyes. "I'll be happy. Because that's what the baka would want." He grinned.
Michiru nodded. "Yes it is.. And if you want, we can hold a proper funeral for him—Though not many of us actually have the money to do that…" Michiru thought out loud, placing a finger on her chin.
"I may be able to pull some strings to create a grave for him… If you don't mind skipping the ceremony since it is quite a cost…" Undertaker-san suggested helpfully. "We can also settle for sending him a prayer every year, on this day."
Everyone looked back at the fidgety man, some having even forgotten his presence to begin with. "Seriously? You'd do that for us?" Chika asked.
Undertaker-san had placed his hands on his hips. "No. I would be doing it for the person who gave up his life in exchange for ours." He stated stubbornly.
"Whatever, we'll take it." Shito answered for a peevish Chika, holding the boy back from attacking the poor man.
"Then it's settled~!" Koyomi shouted gleefully. "I'm so happy~!"
Michiru sighed happily, 'It's over… I can hardly believe it.' She thought. "Oh wait, about the dorms…" Michiru began. "Are we still able to live here? I-I mean the reason we were here was because of the Zombie-Loan. And Shimotsuki-san—"
"Is pretty much allowing us all to stay here unless we have another place in town that we can live at." Zen answered easily. "As long as nobody leaves the city without notifying her, we're pretty much bound to this place until we finish up our contract with her."
"Which totally sucks!" Sotetsu grumbled miserably. "I still have adventures I want to go on… So much food to taste~!"
Otsu-san slapped the back of Sotetsu's head roughly. "Quit your whining. You are by far the worst slacker of us all. You owe a lot to Shimotsuki."
Sotetsu cried dramatically. "Why are you so mean to me Otsu-buddy?"
Michiru tuned out their little argument and turned to look over at her silent boyfriend, his hands still in his pockets as he stared at their group of friends. "Zara-kun?" She called sweetly, earning his attention. "W-what will happen with you? I-I mean us..?"
Zarame shot her an are-you-dumb look. "Obviously I'll be staying where ever you are. As long as these other Shinigami continue to do their work, I won't have as much of a burden to bear." He smirked at the lilac haired girl. "I'd like to finish this school with you. I can do so while balancing my own duties without a problem I'm sure. Either way, I will be spending eternity with you, my dear. That is, unless you're trying to get rid of me?"
Michiru squeaked when he had lowered himself to her level, his face so enticingly close to hers. For a moment, she was concerned about her bad breath and her horrid stench. 'I hope I don't stink. I—' Her thoughts were cut off when the herd of people had suddenly fled her room, all of them claiming not to be in the mood for watching a horny teenaged couple go at it.
She must have blushed ten shades of red if that was even possible. "I—I.." She stuttered hopelessly, her glasses drooping down her nose.
"Hn?" Came Zarame's ever classic response.
"U-uh—!" She inhaled deeply, the red headed Reaper catching her lips in a hungry kiss before she could even form an excuse. She had felt him place both of his arms on either side of her, leaning onto the bed to deepen the kiss. Except that as much as she wanted to moan and accept that he had won this battle, she couldn't help but feel gross and gritty. And oh Kami, he may smell delicious but she knew she currently did not smell like roses. So…
She broke away roughly and suddenly shouted. "I—I need a bath!" This had successfully distracted her handsome Reaper to give her enough time to scoot out of her bed and book it to the baths in record timing.
After the dust settled from his girlfriend fleeing so fast, Zarame had chuckled loudly and slowly decided to follow after her with a certain glint in his eyes. There was no way she was going to get away from him. Not tonight.
In fact, not for the rest of eternity.
He was sure of it.
A/N Oh my freaking god, I'm glad I was able to finish this. I hope that everyone is happy too. I know it's sad that this story is coming to an end, but it needs to. Heck I never even planned to make this a story to begin with… It was supposed to be a one shot. So much for that, huh? Well, I hope you all enjoyed this! And hopefully some time n the future I can write another Zombie-Loan fic! R&R