A/N - These pieces are connected by a theme - Shinigami and Death the Kid - and are in chronological order. Because of the length and time differences, I have split this up into chapters.

1. Soul

The first thing that struck Shinigami was the size of the thing. He had collected the souls of countless young children, frequently the innocent casualties of a Kishin's avarice for chaos and wanton destruction. So, he knew what they looked like; small, fragile and so pale as to be almost transparent for they lacked the colour and size human souls gained through the wealth of experience that came from life. But this one, its owner no longer than his hand and hours old, had an energy to it that was quite different; intense, fierce and promising a power and influence far beyond the human fare.

Bright yellow eyes gazed up at him, focussing in a way Shinigami was fairly sure would be impossible for human children of the same age. Certainly they didn't see what this little one was capable of perceiving; the soul of every living thing, the places that lay where no living human could tread but would all, in death, travel to.

Yet it was unfamiliar to Shinigami to consider his own nature in this way. He had never, not since the first soul died upon the earth, needed to contemplate just how his personal duty – not the work of human Technicians – could be carried out by another. He was Death itself, simple and absolute: the image of the thing and the whole of the thing. Once, it was the work of a moment to see across all possibilities, the fates of souls from the newborn human to the ancient witch. Asura's betrayal and resultant imprisonment had greatly limited Shinigami's influence in the world. His sight was clouded by the seal that bound him within the foundations of Shibusen and the boundary of Death City.

A sound broke through Shinigami's thoughts. The baby, resting awkwardly in one arm, had begun to cry softly, apparently vying for attention more than anything else.

"You shouldn't do that, you know. You're not hurt or anything, are you?" Shinigami muttered, having picked up from running a school full of young humans and the odd parent member of staff that a crying child was going to be annoyed about something. He decided to be rational. That generally worked with adults, at least

"All right. I've never – ever – had to look after a child. But," He raised his free hand in emphasis "it seems you are mine, and I'm sure if I put some effort into it, I can adapt yes?" Effort. Adaptability. They were the sorts of things he told his students, who thrived on positivity because the alternative could – literally – kill them. In this case, the boy paused as though taking in this determined claim of parenthood. He was staring, as though transfixed, at Shinigami's hand.

"What? Oh, this?" Shinigami waved slowly being rather impressed by the way the child's gaze followed his fingers back and forth. Then, a tiny hand copied the motion; a sign of life here, of all places. Standing upon the banks of the river crossed by myriad souls, Shinigami was struck by the feeling that, for the first time in centuries, he had a true connection to the world and the humans that inhabited it. Granted, it wasn't the sort he'd ever had expected but maybe this turn of events would be a blessing in disguise. It wouldn't be easy for the boy, for Shinigami had come into the world in a position of utmost authority and certain duty. He'd never had to grow into it – it was simply what he was. Yet the soul he gazed upon now, in healthy mind and body, was so close to his own, so similar as to even resonate with it on a minute level; an indelible connection of blood and spirit. A life created to ensure death. There was a clear and perhaps cruel contradiction in that kind of nature.

These aspects were to be expected, after all; this was the soul of his…son. No wonder Shinigami felt as though he was looking into a mirror.