All characters © Toboso Yana


Of Wanton Variegation

The human world, like a tropical island to its inhabitants, was a common vacation site for the creatures of the underworld. They would swoop down from time to time to observe the busy life, and sometimes they would make their stays permanent. After all, it was very easy to blend in and you could get away with practically anything.

Shinigami, despite their sway over death and the numerous abilities that they were granted, looked exactly like humans. They required sleep and ate the things that humans ate. There was only one way, really, to tell the difference between a human and a shinigami. All you had to do was lay your ear against its chest. If you managed to get close enough to do so, you would hear (or rather not hear) that they lacked an essential asset. Usually something small that beats.

For a young Grell Sutcliffe, being mistaken for human was more than he could bear.

He had been hired as a Dispatch rookie because of his individuality—both in his actions and his personality. A diva at heart, Grell couldn't stand to go unnoticed. When he was among the humans, reaping his first souls, they passed him by with not so much as an extra blink. It was infuriating.

True, he had a nice, healthy crop of red hair that was his most salient trait—but it was not original enough. Plenty of humans had red hair. Shinigami did too. Many were even natural silvers, blues, and greens.

Like most Shinigami, he was myopic. It seemed to come with the job more and more frequently these days. Grell liked to boast that he wore glasses only for style, but in truth, he couldn't see the tip of his own Scythe without them.

All in all, Grell Sutcliffe couldn't stand being plain. When around the humans, he wanted to be recognized and remembered.

And now, standing in front of his mirror in work pants and a slim-fitting blouse, he realized that he could spice things up a little bit. He had the looks to pull it off, too. With his keen nose, Grell sensed a makeover coming on.

He started by growing out his red hair. It lengthened quite nicely, too, spilling over his shoulders like velvet fire. Then, he got permission from the Dispatch Management services to change the prescription on his glasses. He didn't really need the stronger lenses, but used this opportunity to get ones framed by a red, hexagonal shape. During his trips into the human world he picked up some lovely skull-beads, which then he deftly attached to his glasses.

Grell looked into the mirror again, and saw crimson hair down to his shoulders, saw stylish spectacles that matched his locks. He looked into the mirror again, and frowned. It still wasn't enough. There had to be more that he could do. Then, an idea dawned on him.

When he wasn't on overtime, Grell began to gather the necessary supplies from human blacksmiths, smuggling them into his room after the missions. It was sometimes difficult to get the right equipment, since the humans had not invented this caliber of tool yet. But after a few months his work was done.

Grell gazed fondly at his newly modified Scythe. It was a chainsaw now, as opposed to those rusty, antediluvian contraptions that the Dispatch rookies were forced to operate. Its double-edged blade gleamed like some insidious diamond in the moonlight, and when you turned it on it made the most delicious buzzing sounds.

But even then, it wasn't enough. There was something else that was missing, some final piece that would set him apart from the others. Grell looked into the mirror again, and felt that piece settle into place with a nice little snick.

---

"Sutcliffe, we're going to be late," a voice chastised from the other side of the door. It was bland-sounding and monotonous, meaning that it could only belong to one person.

"Gi'ee a 'inute!" Grell whined, sitting in front of the desk-mirror in his room. Lately he had made a hobby of collecting mirrors. It was a wonder he hadn't thought of it before.

Silence on the other end, but only for a brief moment. "I don't care what you're doing in there, but I'm coming in," the voice said. Hence the door opened and William T. Spears stuck his head in. Will was another rookie, like Grell, but different in every other sense of being.

William stared at his partner silently, contemplating what to say. The latter's red hair, now almost waist-length, was pulled back into a horse-tail with a few rogue fringes framing his face. His glasses, with their little morbid chain of skulls, were pushed up over his brow and he was concentrating intently on his reflection in the mirror.

"I had no idea you were intending to become a dog," William stated dryly. "Will you stop doing such nonsensical things and come on?"

"Hey! The Vikings used to do this—the Ticuna Indian women too!"

William's eyebrows rose. "...You are neither."

Grell pouted turned around, putting down the file. For a moment he regretted speaking, since he was not yet used to his new teeth. When he had pronounced the "v" in "Vikings" a moment ago his pointed upper row had torn open his bottom lip. Blood now dribbled freely down his chin. He didn't mind the pain and blood—it was a lovely shade of red. It matched his hair.

"And go clean yourself up, Sutcliffe. I don't want the Director to see me alongside something that looks like a shark hybrid."

Grell licked some blood off the tip of his chin that was threatening to fall and stain his shirt, grinning. William only gave a disproving sniff and crossed his arms, waiting against the door's frame.

After that Grell Sutcliffe finally got the attention he so desperately craved. Humans would gawk, gape, and turn their heads whenever he breezed by on his platform shoes like they had just seen the living dead (which was not so far off from the truth). He wanted to show them all that even though he walked like a human and talked like a human, he was clearly not a human.

Eventually the Shinigami Director had to put an appearance-alteration spell on him because of all the attention that he attracted.


Author's note: Hope you enjoyed! I think Grell's glasses are actually in a pentagonal shape...