Chapter 1

Out of the Blue

Golden rays of the sun slipped through the cracks in the blinds, filling the room with a natural brightness that the sole occupant did not like. A disgruntled groan issued from the bundle of red and black sheets piled on the simple bed in one corner. The cool morning air filtered in through the window, twirling the ends of someone's long, black hair as they peeked out from beneath the blankets. Vivid, scarlet eyes peered out of the shadowy alcove of her makeshift fort. The bright morning sun made the girl squint and rub at her odd-colored eyes. She snorted as the action proved fruitless. Digging her face into her feather-filled pillow, the small sixteen-year-old girl tried to escape the inevitable day.

A knock at her bedroom door interrupted her plans, and she moaned in displeasure.

"Wake up, Night!" a woman's voice shouted through the elegantly-crafted wood. "It's already noon! It's time for your photo shoot!" Both the knocking and shouting ceased as Night's strict manager/guardian huffed and continued down the hallway.

Night released the breath she had been holding, realizing that she had given up for another fifteen minutes at least. Digging herself out of the tangle of sheets around her thin body, the girl model climbed to one side of her bed in the direction of the window. With an exasperated sigh, she stretched out her slim arms—the long, white sleeves of her nightgown slipping down to her elbows—and whipped the heavy, red curtains shut, blocking the intolerable light. Night sat back on her heels and ran a slender hand through her silver-streaked black hair.

"I don't want to do this anymore," she whined in a bell-like voice, pale-pink lips turning down in a pout. "All the models are always so stuck-up. It is so aggravating." She tried to growl, but her body created more of an endearing purr rather than the vicious snarl she wanted. "Man!" she cried out in exasperation, throwing her head back dramatically and letting herself fall back-first onto the springy mattress. The carefully-detailed vines on the marble ceiling of her room greeted her crimson eyes as Night simply lay where she fell. It had been her idea to have the artwork up there. In fact, she had been the one to sketch it out all over her ceiling. She had wanted to inlay the delicate silver and precious stones herself as well, but her guardian, Arisa, had considered that as going too far. Night had to settle for hiring an experienced artist to finish her work, instead. The man hadn't done too badly by Night's insanely-high standards. He had stuck with her plans quite closely which had surprised her. Usually an artist would make his or her own tweaks here and there, but this one hadn't. He had been quite nice, too. Night could still recall the few simple words that had lifted her spirits day after exhausting day of boring photo shoots: 'You are an exceptional artist, Yoru-chan. You should go professional.'.

Night sighed, shaking her head to rid herself of the pleasant memory. There was no way her "Aunt Arisa" would allow her to pursue her own dreams. Especially when Arisa's modeling plan had become such a huge success. Such a success, in fact, that Arisa now owned a gigantic mansion in Kyushu, Japan, and had hoards upon hoards of cash. Never mind that it was all thanks to Night's child-like body and angelic face . . . .

Her flawless, alabaster skin felt smooth beneath her fingertips as Night ran her hand wonderingly along one side of her face. Suddenly curious, she climbed off her bed, taking one last fleeting look at her decorative ceiling before walking over to the plain floor-length mirror standing at the foot of her bed. She cocked her head at the person staring back at her. The girl reflected in the glass looked like a familiar stranger to her crimson eyes. Silky, black hair hung loosely at her hips; the silver streaks running through it looking more artsy and tasteful rather than silly. A simple cotton nightdress clung to her small form, the white of the cloth only intensifying the white of her skin. The collar had stretched out after earning the title of "favorite" and had fallen down far enough to reveal the gentle curve of her narrow shoulders. The long sleeves—with lace sewn on to the ends—hid her small hands from view. Night had put on the sash to the nightgown the night before, but it had loosened sometime in the night. The golden cord now dangled just below her trim waist to rest on her slim hips. She had a figure, sort of. Her chest wasn't as developed as most girls her age, but it wasn't completely flat either. With her 5'2" frame, slim figure, and angelic face, she looked like a child. A desirable child, but still a child. The only thing that didn't fit in her appearance were her eyes. Their color as red as blood. It seemed that only demons should have such eyes. Yet, here they were, on her face. Strange, that it was because of her demonic-looking eyes that she had first gotten noticed as a potential model.

Night sighed again. At least it hadn't been a total waste of time. Most of the jobs she had gotten were right up her alley: the supernatural. Angels, demons, etc. That sort of thing. Usually, though, she was the angel. Although there were a few times they had her cast as a vampire. She just had that look was what most people would say when she had asked them why she had been chosen. They never would tell her the real reason, but Night wasn't as stupid as everyone seemed to believe. Nor was she as innocent as she looked. She may have the appearance of an elementary student, but she possessed the intellect of someone's grandmother. Everyone—including the girls—thought her attractive. Very attractive. The danger of being with a minor—an adorable minor—was too enticing not to be drawn to. You could say that Night (or "Yoru" in Japanese) was considered a Lolita-type. And the gothic scenery the photographers preferred her in only intensified the allure.

"Night," Arisa's voice came again at her door. No impatient knocking accompanied her words this time. In fact, her tone was far less intimidating. Even—dare she say it—friendly. Night perked up at this, wondering who was with Arisa. She would never be this kind to her unless a guest was in the mansion (Night didn't consider the place a house. It was much too big and formal in her opinion.). "There are some people here to see you. Come out to the tearoom when you're done getting dressed." And, with those words said, Arisa walked away again. This time, however, Night heard the nearly-nonexistent footfalls of two people following her.

"I wonder who is here?" Night wondered aloud to herself, cocking her head curiously. She had picked up the habit from the several dogs that always hung around the perimeters of the mansion. Unfortunately, no animals were allowed on the grounds. Arisa hated nature. Even all the plants decorating the inside of the gigantic place Arisa considered "home" had been constructed out of plastic. Night would never understand Arisa's peculiar tastes . . . .

Skipping over to her antique wardrobe, Night whisked a brush off her nightstand as she passed it and started pulling the stiff bristles through her absurdly-long hair. She used her free hand to open the armoire as she quickly brushed out the knots she had acquired during the night. Her scarlet gaze swept over the large collection of gothic-styled clothing. Her upper lip curled up in a sneer when she saw that most of them were dresses. It wasn't that she minded the free feeling of the simple design, but she absolutely loathed the males that would try to take pics with their cell phones up young girl's skirts. Needless to say, Night wouldn't wear a dress out in public if she could help it.

"Ah!" Night exclaimed suddenly, catching sight of one of her favorite outfits. A triumphant grin lit her features as she tossed her brush behind her. She heard the soft thud of it as it landed safely on her mattress.

Reaching into the oak wardrobe, Night let her fingers wrap protectively around a pair of knee-high black boots with buckles strapped around them. She pulled out a pair of green-and-white striped tights from a small cubby hole just above her shoes. Placing those on the floor beside her, Night turned back to retrieve the rest of her outfit for the day.

.::In the Tearoom::.

Arisa lifted the delicate teacup from the silver tray her butler held out in front of her. She made sure to keep one elegant pinky up in a show of her false aristocracy as she sipped from the blue-and-white china. Seeing as how her hands were full—cup in one hand, fragile saucer in the other—Arisa motioned with a slight nod of her head for her servant to offer her guests a drink. She watched with sharp, brown eyes as the young blond boy politely turned down the offer. His companion, on the other hand, eagerly accepted the expensive beverage. Arisa had to suppress a chuckle at the happy look that passed over the brunette's face. He resembled a kid getting his well-earned treat . . . .

"Is Night doing well in this life?" the blond asked. Arisa suddenly recalled his name—Hisoka Kurosaki.

'Hm,' she mused. 'The Kurosaki's are a wealthy family, right? If I play my cards right, I could marry into the family.' The boy sitting calmly in front of her looked to be about the same age as her sixteen-year-old ward. Hisoka was definitely a pretty boy. Which boded both good and ill. Good, because she knew Night had an interest in such guys after seeing her practically drool while staring at Hijiri Minase at a concert a few weeks back. Ill, because that could mean Hisoka had a greater preference for the male gender, instead. Arisa missed the sudden flare of anger and embarrassment in Hisoka's face as she sighed and glanced towards Hisoka's partner, Tsuzuki.

"Of course, she is. Why wouldn't she?" she answered Hisoka's question while she studied the brunette. Her chocolate-brown eyes traveled down the well-formed body of Asato Tsuzuki appraisingly, admiring his physique even through his business suit. His violet eyes caught and held her gaze when she ventured back up. She was surprised to note that he looked suddenly serious.

"Fame and fortune aren't for everyone, Miss Nishi," Tsuzuki informed her, his eyes growing cold. "I heard that she's a rather-talented artist. Is she developing that at—?"

"Of course not!" Arisa rudely interrupted, dropping her tea in the process. China smashed against the edge of the coffee table the three had gathered around, causing tea and bits of teacup to go flying everywhere. The woman ignored it, focusing, instead, on glaring at the strangers. "She's got a career. There's no time for such nonsense," she explained bitterly. Her muscles tensed as if ready to spring at the brunette's throat if he said or moved the wrong way. For a long moment, no one dared to breathe much less speak. A quiet cough from one of the artistically-crafted archways into the room broke the uncomfortable tension. Three pairs of eyes turned to stare at the new arrival. Two of them widened in obvious admiration while the last narrowed in displeasure and distaste.

"Am I interrupting something?" Night asked to the silence that greeted her. A smirk played about her lips. She was amused which both baffled and fascinated Tsuzuki and Hisoka. You'd expect fear or trepidation from someone who had just walked in on such a disturbing scene, but Night had a smile on her face! She even looked like she was holding back laughter! "My name's 'Night' or 'Yoru', as most people here in Japan call me," the girl introduced herself with a polite bow. Her black jacket shifted whenever she moved, acting like a pair of wings. It actually looked like a pair of wings. Instead of the usual design expected of a coat—the straight cutoff at the bottom—Night's jacket was split in two at the back. The black material reached past her knees, ending in two pointed tips. The split began halfway up the back, just below her hips. A hood attached to the back so she could whisk it over her head in a downpour. Seven silver bands had been arranged carefully around both upper arms, over the jacket's sleeves. A silver clip fastened the coat around her neck, but the jacket itself completely revealed her body. A red halter top—made out of a sweater-like material—covered most of her upper body. It left only a few inches of her flat stomach uncovered. A pair of black shorts started at her hips. Two strips of black cloth hung down the front of them, secured by a pair of silver clips. The diagonal ends of the odd fashion statement stopped just above each knee. Green-and-white striped tights concealed what little could be seen of her slim legs. Night had donned black combo boots that reached all the way up to the base of her knees. Three belt buckles fastened each boot securely on her feet. She even had a black butterfly hair clip stuck randomly in her hip-length hair. The wings sparkled even in the brightness of the white room with crystal-like glitter.

Hisoka couldn't keep his eyes off the girl, knowing he should look away but being unable to move accordingly. The girl was undeniably breath-taking. She looked younger than him, like she shouldn't be sixteen but maybe thirteen or even younger than that. Still, he couldn't deny that she did have some sort of appeal with the gothic Lolita look. And her chest wasn't completely flat, just underdeveloped . . . . Oh, gods! What was he thinking?! Hisoka shook his head to rid himself of such perverted thoughts. He didn't have any right to check her out. Besides, it wasn't as if he'd be seeing her for much longer anyway . . . .

"Ah, Night-chan!" Arisa cried out in a falsely-happy tone. She swept over to her ward, arms wide open. Night side-stepped her "auntie", grimacing at the horrifying honorific added to her name. Moving over to her guests, she offered them a basket of sweets and fruit she had asked one of the kind servants to prepare for her. She smiled as the brunette dove straight for the sugar while his friend politely took a shiny, red apple.

"Do you need anything else? Something to drink?" Night continued playing the kind hostess, violet eyes glittering with excitement.

"They have drinks, my dear," Arisa bit out in a sickeningly-sweet voice. The vein in her temple throbbed as Night just grinned impishly at her.

"Something good to drink?" Night corrected herself, turning away from the heated glare her aunt had tossed her way. The scalding tea had never really been in her top ten list in this house. Which was probably why Arisa always bought it. "I've never had guests before so just tell me if you want anything." She skipped cheerily over to a sofa across from the pair and flopped down, grinning all the while. She knew she could get away with anything she did or said as long as someone was in view of Arisa. Oh, she'd get it later, that was for sure, but that was still later. For now, she could have some fun.

"W-well," Hisoka started. He had to stop to clear his throat before continuing. Night stifled a giggle at the scarlet coloring his cheeks. Her fingers moved to her own face as she checked to make sure her blue contacts hadn't fallen out accidentally in all her jumping around. "We came for you," as he said this, he emphasized the "you" and glanced towards Arisa. Night followed his look before returning her eyes to Hisoka's blushing face. She nodded once in understanding.

"Arisa, leave us, please," Night commanded in an authoritative voice. Hearing the muffled complaint of her guardian, she cut her eyes at the woman and glared. Arisa acquired a faraway look in her eyes as she obediently got up and left the room without another word. Night turned back to her guests, a serious expression falling into place.

"What do you need with me?" she asked them calmly, folding her hands in her lap. A hint of laughter still remained in her face, but she suppressed it, knowing that the situation had turned too somber for any sort of joviality. Her dark hair fell in shimmering waves over her arms as she glanced from first one unsure face to the next. "Well?" she pressed, cocking her head. The endearing movement seemed to jumpstart the conversation.

"Well," Tsuzuki started off. His violet eyes focused on the girl's own dark-purple gaze. The information he and his partner had been given had specifically said that Night's irises had the color of garnet not ofamethyst. The conclusion that she must have put in contacts quickly came to mind. "We're from the Judgment Bureau at the Ministry of Hades." He paused, gauging her reaction. Seeing nothing more than a slight raise of her eyebrows, the man continued. "Do you know what that is?" he inquired. Having read her file before arriving at her mansion (he couldn't call it a "house", either), Tsuzuki wasn't too surprised when Night nodded her head in affirmation.

"So . . ." she thought aloud, odd-colored eyes turning up to the ceiling in contemplation. The heels of her black boots balanced on the edge of the couch as Night brought her legs to her chest. She had the image and actions of a child. It was simply amazing to meet someone as strange and relaxed as she. "If you guys work there, then would that make you Shinigami?" Her violet gaze swept back down to the two unfamiliar faces as she got the response she sought.

They both nodded in answer.

Night's eyes lit up; pleased with herself. All the research she had done before arriving in Japan had paid off. The acquaintance with Japanese culture had been Arisa's idea, at first, but the job had went from tedious to pleasurable the second she had hit the books. History, myths, and the supernatural had always been of great interest to Night. Japan had all those things in bulk. That may have been the reason why Arisa had tried to keep Night as busy as possible to keep her alone time to a minimum. Sometimes, Night was sure that her guardian's sole reason for existence was to make her life as miserable as possible . . . .

"Hold on," Night interjected, comprehension dawning over her face. "Does that mean I'm dying?" No hint of fear threaded through her words, only curiosity. The two Shinigami were visibly surprised by the lack of alarm.

"No, you're perfectly healthy," Tsuzuki reassured with a kind smile. The fact that the girl hadn't reacted the way normal people usually did when they were told that their time had run out, kind of baffled him. Still, they didn't have time to bother with such trivialities. "We need you to come with us, though. Back to the Ministry," his voice had turned serious again, all trace of his usual-childish self gone. The abrupt change surprised Night, but she kept any comments she had to herself, as usual.

"Well, that's good to know. But, then, why?" the teenage model asked, confusion filling her own face. Her emotions passed over her angelic features easily and without restraint, making her an open book. Hisoka didn't even need to tap into his empathic abilities to determine her mood.

The blond-haired boy sighed and ran a slender hand through his over-hanging bangs. This was not going to be easy to explain. "You're flame in the Hall of Candles has, er, changed," he began. Feeling the puzzlement in Night's emotions only strengthen at his words, Hisoka dove headlong into greater detail with a roll of his green eyes. "It grew larger. And is beginning to affect the surrounding candles with longer flames, as well. Nothing like yours, but still . . . ." He carefully watched Night's expressive face after he finished. Confusion, embarrassment, and, finally, understanding swept through the girl.

"Does that mean—?" Night started but got cut off by Hisoka.

"You're causing other humans to live longer than they should," the empath voiced her thoughts aloud. The green of his eyes glowed brilliantly as he continued to stare at her. It seemed impossible for him to tear his gaze away from the girl. Something about her odd nature pulled at him, but he couldn't figure it out. She reminded him of something, but whatever it was kept skipping just out of reach.

"We've figured out that by placing your candle in a special room by itself, we can limit and even reverse the effect it has on people's life spans," Tsuzuki explained. An extended break in his speech caused both Hisoka and Night to turn to him. The two sixteen-year-olds both sweat-dropped at the sight that greeted them. The violet-eyed brunette had two cupcakes from Night's gift basket smashed in his mouth. White and chocolate frosting caked his fingers and the corners of his lips. Some sprinkles had fallen from the tops of the small desserts to decorate the black of the Shinigami's business pants. "Fuht?" (translation: "What?")

Hisoka groaned, getting aggravated with his sweet-loving partner fast. He buried his face in his hands in an effort to control his temper.

"If you fixed the problem, then why are you here?" Night asked the pair, turning to face Hisoka expectantly. Tsuzuki, obviously, had enough on his plate, quite literally. Well, more like enough on his palate. Which was probably slathered with icing, too. Night shivered, trying not to think about the man's horrendous eating habits too much.

Hisoka smiled to himself, amused with the raw emotions the girl felt towards his fellow Shinigami's sense of etiquette, or lack thereof. "It didn't fix the problem," he explained patiently to the young teen. When her violet-colored eyes focused on him, he felt his own heart jump. Startled, he realized that he was feeling her heart skip a beat. Shaking himself mentally, Hisoka started up again, "You also cause greater longevity in the people you are around. And you, yourself, will continue to look the same as you do now for several centuries if not longer." He nodded at the look of shock that Night had finally acquired. "We have been ordered to bring you back to the Ministry of Hades for Judgment. Even though, technically you're not a soul yet."