Throwing open the front door, Maka Albarn was surprised by the sight that greeted her.

"Tsubaki-chan! What are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you too, Maka-chan. Can I come in for a minute?"

"Sure." She stepped aside for the other girl to enter. Closing the door, she proceeded to lock it securely. "So what brings you by?"

As Maka slid the deadbolt home, a knife slid into her ribs and punctured her heart.

The scythe-meister slumped to the ground with a shocked expression on her face, and the last thing she ever heard was a voice saying, "I'm sorry, but I can't have any witnesses."

Soul Evans came slouching around a corner of their shared apartment, but before he could so much as blink a throwing star took him square in the temple. His feet slid out from under him, and he collapsed dead with a grunt.

Tsubaki went to collect her weapon from the sprawled corpse. She cleaned it off, making sure no trace of blood remained. Then the assassin slowly rose up to prowl further into the apartment.

"Heeere, kitty-kitty-kitty."


No. I'm too sleep-deprived and wound too tight to take any chances of how I deal with people. This is going to have to be a completely clandestine maneuver.

Maka hummed to herself as she washed the dishes in the sink. Lunch had been a spicy affair of tacos and improvised non-alcoholic margaritas. Soul might not have as much interest in following the recipes as her, but the food he cooked always seemed tasty and filling. Of course, for dinner today she expected something that required a little more effort. He had suggested eating out a while back, and if that was the case, she wanted to make sure he took her somewhere that actually provided stemware to drink out of. With no lids.

The plates clinked faintly as she slid them into the drying stand. Curled up on the counter, Blair's tail twitched sleepily at the disturbance. Their freeloading witch-cat hadn't been too interested in the meal Soul fixed, calling it 'kiddy-stuff' and preferring to doze off in a patch of sunlight streaming from the window. Maybe if there was some tuna she would have roused herself. Still, the less 'aroused' from Blair, the better.

Watching her slumbering there in lazy contentment, Maka was reminded of the time Soul turned the sink spray on her in what he called harmless fun. Being blown out into the street by an irate wet kitty had made sure such antics would never be repeated.

What a nice Saturday afternoon, the dedicated student thought, staring out the window as she dried a particularly large platter. I wonder if there's anything to do so this day doesn't go to waste.

A knock on the front door got Maka's attention. "Coming!"

She flipped off the water and removed her apron before heading out of the kitchen to answer it. Throwing open the door, Maka Albarn was surprised by the sight that greeted her.

Nothing. Nobody. Not a soul.

Peering around, she looked up and down the hallway, with no success. Had she just imagined it? Not one to be taken unawares, her spirit-radar scanned the corridor, but no telltale sign of anyone lurking about came back. Just the other families in their homes. Wait, did I just refer to us as a family?

While Maka was scouting the building, back in the kitchen Blair remained nestled in a fuzzy ball in her nap spot. Her dreams involved bushels of fish and limitless containers of cream.

Two hands slowly rose over the edge of the counter and hovered covetously above the sleeping cat.

Beneath her crooked witch's hat, Blair's eyes blinked open as she felt herself being picked up.


There was a puff of smoke, followed immediately by silence.

A minute later Maka came back no more certain of what just happened than before. Returning to her chores, she took notice of how Blair had wandered off at some point. The window was open, which probably indicated their salacious squatter was out roaming around again. Probably trying to score a free meal at the fish market.

Well, she'll come back eventually. To be on the safe side, the thoughtful teen took some salmon from the refrigerator and wrapped it in a little dish alongside a bowl of dipping sauce. This she left on the kitchen table with a note for Blair to enjoy herself if she wasn't back by the time they left for dinner.

Blair opened her tiny mouth wide, fangs glistening whitely. Dutifully her erstwhile captor reached out and placed her fingers inside that needle-sharp cave.

The cat's pink tongue tickled Tsubaki's skin, and she let go of the sushi.

"Nyummy!" Blair chirped around her treat, and proceeded to munch it in feline bliss.

Tsubaki stroked the fur of the small black creature purring in her lap. Sitting on a bench in the park, the two of them resumed their conversation.

"If anyone had told me they thought about him that way before, I would have looked at them strange. I mean, Shinigami-sama is… sort of like a very old and famous work of art, I guess. Everybody knows of him, but they can't really tell you what he means in their world. And before this happened, I was willing to just live my life without ever having tried to understand what he actually… represents… in my heart."

"Sounds complicated." Blair yawned invitingly, clearly ready for the next treat. The girl doing the confessing complied immediately, picking out another roll of raw fish from the box and popping it into her mouth. She then continued relating the story.

"It is complicated. Or maybe I'm just making it that way. I never even managed to tell anybody else that I needed their help, my fears always cut me off. Which is what brought me to this point." Tsubaki hesitated there. "I really am sorry for the kidnapping."

"Catnyapping," her confidant corrected casually. "And of a nyapping cat. That's a much worse crime, nyah?"

She smiled weakly at the pun. "I guess."

Blair sat up then and began to lick her paw busily. "It's okay, I don't mind. Is your hand doing any better?"

"Fine now, thanks for asking." Actually the spot where Blair had bitten her still smarted, but she knew it could have been a whole lot worse. Apparently the magical feline had recognized the taste and scent of her kidnapper, doubtless from letting Tsubaki pamper her during their first meeting at Soul's place. Otherwise there could have been a lot more tumult involved in the kid… catnapping.

"Good," Blair stated and looked up at her with those luminous slitted eyes. "Now, why did you bring me here again?"

Tsubaki felt her heart plummet. Had she not listened to a word I said?

"I…" Quickly she glanced around to make sure nobody was close enough to eavesdrop. Then Tsubaki bent down and whispered, "I'm afraid I have a crush on Shinigami-sama."

The tiny witch hat cocked to one side. "Why are you afraid?"

"No, that's just a figure of speech. What I meant was…"

"You want to get frisky with him. So what's stopping you?"

Tsubaki's eyes grew wide. Her cheeks flushed the shade of roses.

"I guess you just want some pointers on how to catch a male's interest. That's why you sought out Blair, nyah?"

No. No, definitely not. Actually, Tsubaki's reasoning for seeking out the cat went as follows. Blair was very… open about matters of the heart. Wait, let me rephrase that. Blair was a horny little kitten who wouldn't balk at discussing topics like sex dreams. Not only that, she isn't human, which could actually lend a better perspective on a non-human entity like Shinigami than one might think. But she still knew enough about human behavior to understand the problem. She is a fully matured female (at least in one form), so that helps. Also, she isn't directly involved with Shibusen, so there's no conflict of interest there. In addition, Blair worked at a cabaret club. She could be depended upon, as a professional services provider, not to divulge any private information she was entrusted with (I hope). And best of all, her place of employment happened to be frequented by Spirit Albarn, Death's friend and living weapon. This interaction could have granted her some insight onto the Death God's behavior, if Spirit could be counted on to be as reckless with talking about his life as Tsubaki suspected.

When she tried to explain all that, however, what came out of Tsubaki's mouth was, "I really needed someone to talk to."

This simple admission seemed to catch Blair's interest far more than all the detailed insightful explanations that had come before. She studied Tsubaki's downcast face with concern now. "You could get him to want you, Tsubaki-chyan. Easily! You don't even really need my help, you've got everything you need right here."


The cat jumped slightly at this outburst. When she looked up, Blair was amazed to find Tsubaki crying.

"I don't want him to want me, I… Oh, I don't know what I want really." She shook her head violently. The tears didn't stop as a result. That didn't matter, though. "Blair-chan, I understand if you don't get it, I mean, even I don't get it, and I'm the one feeling this! I've had crushes before, and never expected them to go anywhere. I'm smart enough to recognize that. But this… I feel like I've committed a crime! Like I spit on a holy icon, and now I'm cursed as a result! Why can't I just deal with this like I have before? Why am I letting it ruin my life?"

Tsubaki fell to sobbing quietly after that. There was no way to tell if this outpouring would do her any good, but at the very least she had gotten it off her chest. The cat was out of the bag, as it were. She might regret it later, it's true. Still, that would have to wait.

"I feel like such a mess," she muttered.


Of a sudden the weight on her lap became much heavier. Surprised, Tsubaki opened her eyes to find herself being straddled by a voluptuous young woman in silken black lingerie and leather high-heel boots, all topped by a crazy-looking witch's hat. Golden eyes gleamed playfully on a gorgeous face, purple-tinged black hair spread out around her shoulders. And finally, a pair of stupendous breasts now dangled not an inch from Tsubaki's nose.

"Nyah, Tsubaki-chan."

Manicured hands reached up to bat at the girl's yard-long ponytail idly. In response, the Shadow Weapon managed to raise her sightline out of that eye-popping valley and meet the gaze of the fantastic creature smiling down at her.

And I thought I was embarrassed before. This is a whole different level. Now I know what Soul's always complaining about… kind of.

"That's your problem right there," Blair stated casually, as if they were not both in a very compromising position that any passerby could reasonably interpret as public indecency. "You're looking at him all wrong. You humans always make that mistake of assuming there's some kind of special wall standing between you and Death, when actually he's a very easy guy to get along with!"

"Err…" Tsubaki hoped nobody saw her like this. "W-what do you mean?"

"Just talk to him, treat him like a good-looking tom and he'll be your friend! That's what Blair did when we met, and it's why I'm here today."

"Hold on…" And the girl sat up a little straighter. "You've met Shinigami-sama? Like… in person?"

"Uh-huh." Blair wiggled unselfconsciously. "Why so surprised? Who else do you think comes to meet you when you die?"

That took a moment of further consideration. "When did you die, Blair-chan?"

"After I met Maka and my little Soul-kun. Blair tussled with them for a bit, and then they killed me."

"Oh." That's right, she remembered now. A while back Maka and Soul had been one kill away from making a Death Scythe, and then suddenly it was back to square one for them. All that work for nothing. Eventually Maka had admitted they made a slip-up by collecting the soul of a being they thought was a witch. This information hadn't been clarified until the party where they celebrated Soul's release from the hospital and her defeat of Masamune. That was the day she first met Blair.

"You mean you really did die?"

"Mm-hmmm." The witch-cat settled back on her hands. "Shinigami had a talk with me then. He said it was their bad for messing up like this, and to express his regrets, I ought to come and live in Death City on my next life, free of charge! I said it was fine if I could stay with Soul-kun, and he said, 'Okie-dokie'!" She gave a little salute the same as Shinigami did. "Just like that."

Tsubaki considered this. So cats really do have nine lives. She was about to ask how in the world Soul and Maka could have agreed to that arrangement, when another question flashed through the Weapon's mind.

"So when he came to speak with you after death… was he still wearing his mask?"

A shake of the head. "Nope. No mask."

Tsubaki's heart began beating a little faster. "Then you know what he looks like."

"Of course! Wouldn't have mattered if he wore a mask or not. Cats see through all kinds of tricks humans don't." She had taken to bouncing cheerfully up and down atop her playmate's lap. Tsubaki actually had to reach up and place her hands on Blair's shoulders to make her stop doing that. Any guy would kill to be in my situation. For me, it's just a trial I have to go through to find out what I want.

She locked eyes with the vivacious charmer. I know it's not truly important, but still, I wanna know! "Blair-chan, if it's not too much trouble, do you think you could tell me what he really looks like?"

"Like a fox."


"You mean foxy? Like… he's sexy?"

"He is pretty, but I meant he reminded me of a fox." Her head cocked in remembrance, and she gave a whimsical pout. "He looks like something dangerous but natural, and so you don't want to take your eyes off him. Not that you really have eyes when you're dead! There wasn't any color then except white and not white. But his head is pointy like a fox, graceful unlike other canines, and he can stand up or be on all fours to talk if that makes you comfortable. He was really considerate of Blair, and I liked that! He doesn't have feet, and I guess that's why nobody hears him coming, but he does have legs, and arms. Very long paws, too. No tail, though. And maybe some wings."

Tsubaki tried to form a picture in her mind based on this description but came up short. "I don't understand. Are you saying he looks like an angel? Like a human?"

"He's not human." Blair seemed very adamant about that. "You could never call him human. But I guess if he wanted to, he might pass as one. Or anything else, for that matter."

This was going nowhere. A last-ditch effort had to be made, though. "What about his face? Does he have one?"

Now came an affirmative nod. "Eyes. But he keeps them closed until you're ready for them."

Tsubaki slumped in dejection. So much for final chances. What was I expecting? To find out he was a smoky-eyed Greek god with perfect teeth and black hair? I'm actually even more curious to see what he looks like now. This isn't helping.

Blair seemed to pick up on her crestfallen attitude and craned her head down until they were nose to nose. "So are you going to stalk him or not?"

She really has a feral way of putting things.

"I don't know. What I do know is it was a bad idea to fall for Shinigami-sama in the first place."

"Hmmm." Apparently this emotionally embattled response didn't register with Blair's freewheeling personality. The lovely polymorph tapped one sharp-nailed finger against her lips in a clueless manner. Then her face brightened and she leaned in close once again, causing Tsubaki to draw a sharp breath. "Now you tell me about him!"

"E-excuse me?"

"Yesss! Blair told you her secrets, so you tell me yours! What drew you to him? Was it like with me and Soul-kun? Tell me, tell me!"

Looks like more payment than fish was expected here. Oh, well, the rules of girl talk had to be obeyed. "All right. Before I do, though… do you think you could be a cat again?"

Blair giggled lyrically. "Silly Tsubaki-chan! I'm always a kitty-cat!" There came another POOF, and once more the black tabby appeared. She leapt up to land lightly on Tsubaki's shoulder and curled around her slender neck. "Confide in Blair! Why do you like him?" she purred.

Her cushion considered this idea for a moment. Why do I like Shinigami-sama? Keeping one hand on her passenger to provide support and petting, Tsubaki watched the sun trail away and tried to shape an answer. I'm not sure if I ever really thought about it. I guess now's as good a time as any.

"Well…" and she stood up then to begin a slow walk out of the park. "Usually I like a guy's looks first, and if he has a nice personality, then I get into him even more. But this time… it was different. When we were talking together that day, I suppose I forgot just who I was speaking to. I've always known he cares about our well-being, but I never realized just how much thought and consideration he gave his students until then. It was a different side of him than I'm used to seeing. Shinigami-sama acts pretty silly around us, like a goofy uncle. I think that might be his way of reassuring us, though."

"Reassuring?" Blair murmured sleepily.

"Yes, so that we're not…"

Tsubaki stopped walking.

So that we're not…

"…afraid of him," she murmured.

For a while she just stood there. A realization was coming upon her slowly, building up bit by bit. Memories came with it. She recalled her first day at school, when she had traveled across the Pacific Ocean to enroll at Death's own training academy. Though she had confidence in her abilities and a very good reason for doing so, Tsubaki remained intimidated by the idea of confronting the very soul of death himself. She remembered looking around at the other students at the assembly and wondering if they were all just as nervous as she was. What sort of frightening figure was about to arise before them, in awesome majesty and eternal supremacy?

Then Shinigami had appeared in a large framed mirror up on stage, and he… he was funny-looking. It definitely wasn't what she had been expecting. Her own country's tales about the appearance of Lord Death hadn't prepared her for the silly specter who greeted them cheerfully. It was actually quite a relief. And honestly, a bit of a let-down too.

At least at first.

His way of speaking wasn't as grandiose as she had imagined. But after a while Tsubaki noticed something else. He never talked down to them. It wasn't like an adult speaking before a group of children, lecturing them and expecting they remain silent until he was done speaking. Not that anyone dared to interrupt. But after welcoming them all, the Death God went on to explain in no uncertain terms that they were going to risk their lives from now on, and they deserved to be thanked for that right off the bat. It was a surprise to be addressed in that way, and by a god no less. Weren't mortals supposed to tender them praise and offerings in order to earn their favor? Tsubaki couldn't recall any stories about gods who thanked you kindly just for showing up somewhere. Despite living in a loving family, she never actually had an adult speak to her that way.

He then asked if the new students had questions they would like to ask him. Tsubaki herself didn't dare, but she remembered clearly that this was owing to her nervousness about speaking out in front of that large crowd. It was not about the person she would be addressing. After partnering with Black*Star officially and being summoned before their school's headmaster for confirmation, the bashful ninja recalled being dismayed by her chosen meister's audacity in the face of Death. But one thing she hadn't been was afraid.

The fearful awe she had held for him never appeared again. From that first day on, he was one more person in the world who cared about her. A permanent source of support for everyone under his tutelage.

He expects us to be scared of the things we're going to face. But he doesn't want us to be afraid of him. And why should we? Everyone has to meet him eventually. Death shouldn't be looked upon with dread. He was a wonderful person, human or not. He was a… great guy.

"When he showed me how powerful he really was," Tsubaki finally stated as she resumed her trek, "I think I forgot the person I had come to view him as, and remembered to be afraid of him again. That old fearful reverence for the Death God came back out of hiding. But if you recognize what you're afraid of, you can also see a way to come out on top against it. That's what they teach us here at Shibusen. And yes, he is incredibly powerful. If he wanted to, he could kill everyone and everything in the world, maybe! But the thing is, he doesn't want to! He takes care of us and protects our lives up until it's time for us to come over to his way of being. What's that old saying? 'Fear thee not the Reaper'. And it's true. Shinigami-sama doesn't represent fear to me. He's the one who takes away our fears. And he even shows us how to do it ourselves. It's the reason behind the DWMA. And I'm grateful for it."

Blair appeared to have fallen asleep by this point. Tsubaki continued their journey absorbed in her own thoughts then.

It was a privilege to be held by him. Maybe my subconscious confused fear with desire on some level. Psychologists say thoughts of sex and death make up our most basic selves. They're both revelations, I suppose. Or maybe the fact that I imagined myself sleeping with him was my sense of reason trying to tell me that I don't have anything to be afraid of concerning Death. He's a sheltering presence. The way he behaves towards his students is so we don't feel uncomfortable when we're near him. Or it could be the realization that Death is a person too made me automatically group him into the category of people who are boys. He's a male persona, a masculine figure. Considering my own sexual tastes, that automatically made Shinigami-sama a potential partner. And isn't that what every Weapon wants, to be Death's chosen partner, the Death Scythe?

We want to please him, to be of use to Death in his fight against evil. That's something I don't need to doubt about myself. And I've been worried lately, haven't I? About not being able to accomplish that goal. Could it be that my brain desired to be of value to Shinigami-sama in some way; if not as a weapon, then as a lover?

So then to be sure I never have to feel that way, all I have to do is become a Death Scythe.

That's all.

Hands clasped behind her back, Tsubaki Nakatsukasa walked the lanes of Death City. Her face held a contented smile, and her heart felt lighter than it had in weeks.

Keep dreaming, girl, she advised herself.

Black*Star strutted confidently down the guillotine-lined passageway. "So Master Shinigami wants to congratulate us in person?"

"That is not what I said," Sid remarked back. "If you'll recall, my exact words were, 'Shinigami-sama wants to explain something to you and he wants to do it face-to-face so that there is no…"

"I bet he heard how we aced that last remedial assignment!" The cocky smirk Black*Star wore defended him against any and all arguments to the contrary. "But if he wants to shake my hand or whatever, I really think it should be done in front of the whole school, so they get a good idea about how high I've risen."

Sid made no further comment. For her part, Tsubaki couldn't help but be worried. The success her partner was referring to involved commandeering a busload of foreign aid workers and using it to plow through a wall of Senegalese zombies. Considering his complete ignorance of how a motor vehicle operated, it was a minor miracle nobody onboard died. Upon making it past the encirclement, he and Tsubaki had then fought their way through an airport of cyborg flesh-eaters in order to reach the CEO of the evil Parasol Company responsible for creating the latest viral-zombie menace plaguing the world. The villainous businessman and his entire board of directors were then thoroughly cremated when their private jet was prevented from taking off by having a fuel tanker covered with flaming zombies rammed into it, also courtesy of Black*Star. The resulting explosion not only destroyed Senegal's only international airport, it blew the evil souls of their targets to God-knows-where. And so, after inflicting tremendous property damage and only narrowly managing to survive themselves, she and her technician had returned home empty-handed.

In the face of all that, the hyperactive little disaster zone's only reaction was to wonder if Shibusen could give him a driver's license. Black*Star behind the wheel of a car again; the mere thought made Tsubaki cringe.

I hope Medusa-sensei has an open calendar today. Something tells me she's going to need it.

At last the trio entered the wall-less chamber in which meisters and weapons were permitted to converse with the Death God. Tsubaki felt her body heat increase when she saw that indeed Shinigami-sama was actually in the room, not simply appearing via the grand mirror on the plinth before them. Spirit Albarn stood by his wielder's side with hands stuffed in his rumpled black suit. Neither of them betrayed any trace of emotion.

"Shinigami-sama," their cadaverous escort began, "Here are B-"


Death turned from conversing with his red-headed assistant to face them squarely. Was there any trace of anger in that featureless white façade? Probably not. All the more reason to be worried. Please remember, you cherish all your students, not just the ones who are legally sane.

"Ah, here you kids are." The black-clad deity nodded his head. "Yup, that's great. Thanks for coming on such short notice! There's something very important I'd like to discuss with you."

Black*Star was rocking back and forth on his heels with arms crossed over his chest. "I wish you could have seen the bonfire of baddies we lit in your name. It was huge! Too bad you weren't there for a front row seat like I was!"

"Actually, we got a very good picture on the satellite feed," Spirit declared darkly. "It was broadcast all over the world. You even got in the cameraman's face and demanded a close-up!"

"So? I said 'Bon jour' before my speech, didn't I? If the natives couldn't understand me, they should learn Japanese! Or English."

The Star clan's only surviving member seemed not to notice how close his line was to extinction. Tsubaki smiled timidly at their glowering judges. Love the sinner, hate the sin, right, Shinigami-sama?

"Black*Star, I wanted to chat with you personally because I felt this episode deserved it." Shinigami slid forward until he loomed large right before them. "For a case of such magnitude, I gotta make sure the point gets hammered home."

Tsubaki thought she had a good idea what was coming next and felt no shame in surreptitiously edging away from the vicinity of her ally. Forgive me, Black*Star.

The boy in question only broke out an even bigger grin. "If you wanna pin a medal to me, it better be made of all the gold in Fort Knox! Anything less and I…"


A huge white glove fell and all but split Black*Star's head open. As he dropped limply to the floor, Death lifted one finger and wagged it before his bleeding face. "You are not licensed to drive in any country. Please don't forget that from now on."

A weak moan was his only response.

"Glad we're on the same page." Shinigami then turned to Tsubaki, who prepared herself to receive more of the same. Instead, he only flipped her a thumbs-up and said, "Thanks for making sure all the civilians got out safe, Tsubaki-chan. Not to mention bringing our little Black*Star home in one piece. You're doing a super-duper job."

She ducked her head, hands clasped before her. "Thank you, Milord."

"That's all for now, bye-bye!"

He waved goodbye and then turned back to talk to Spirit. Sid proceeded to hoist Black*Star's broken body over one shoulder and carried him back the way they came. As Shinigami was about to start speaking to his Death Scythe, Albarn cleared his throat and pointed meaningfully behind him.

Surprised, Death turned to see Tsubaki still standing unmoving in the same spot.

"Tsubaki-chan, was there anything else you wanted to talk about?" he asked.

She didn't respond at first. Her eyes remained rooted to the floor. After a few seconds, though, Tsubaki raised a hand hesitantly and made a beckoning gesture. It looked as though she wanted him to come closer.

Shinigami and Spirit glanced between each other. Neither knew what was going on. Finally the Reaper glided over and bent down 'til he was just a foot away from her bowed head.

"Er, are you all right, dear?"


Without warning the gentle shinobi grabbed his mask and yanked it off to reveal…

You know something? No.

No more previews. I'm through being scared.

Without warning, Tsubaki reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck in a soft hug.

Taken aback by this unforeseen display of affection, Death was further surprised when she whispered softly, "Thank you for being you, sir."

Tsubaki let go, and Death drew himself upright to gaze down at her in honest befuddlement. What had brought that on, he wondered to himself?

Rather than offering an explanation, the beautiful Weapon smiled and bowed to them both. She then hurried to catch up with Sid. Nothing to be afraid of, and Tsubaki grinned with a small blush. I'll get to see him one day. It's a given. And with that she was content.

"Hrm." Shinigami rubbed his mask nervously with one finger. Spirit walked up beside him, and when he looked down, the lecherous divorcee only shrugged helplessly back, as if to say, 'Kids, who can understand them? Not me.'

They both returned to watching the brave young woman slipping calmly away.

Spirit crossed his arms and nodded in admiration. "You know, boss, that girl's going to make an incredible Death Scythe one day."

"Yes, indeed," Shinigami affirmed. "Of that I have no doubt."

He glanced down at his left hand, moving the fingers slowly back and forth in their glove.

The memory of holding her came back to him then. Tsubaki Nakatsukasa will definitely become a great Death Scythe, one of the best ever.

Pity I won't be the one to wield her, he reflected.

The disappointment this thought engendered in him surprised even Death. And here he had thought himself prepared for everything. Apparently existence still held surprises in store even for a shinigami.

Hopefully by then Kidd will have gotten over his obsession with twos. He's my son, so he should appreciate superior quality. Well, if not, she's adaptable. I'm sure she'll find a way to accommodate him. After all, it's her specialty.

Feeling a desire to be alone, Shinigami dismissed Spirit and retreated back into his mirror.

That night Tsubaki knew contented sleep, and it was Death who dreamed.