Chapter X

"My, Yuu such a scary face you're making there."

"Don't call me by my first name you shitty bastard!"

"But it's such a nice name Yuu, why wouldn't you want us to call you that?"

"You stop calling me that or I start dicing you up!"

"So angry on such a bright morning, pity. It's not good for your blood pressure Yuu."

"Get lost or die!"

"Please not so loudly Yuu, you're not alone in the infirmary."

"Drop dead!"

Jade closed the door just in time to block the vase sailing towards his head. He chuckled hearing the boy cuss at him through the door, it really was too much fun not to tease him.

He was honestly reminded too much of Asch to keep away. Not that he wanted to, he did after all have to keep an eye out for his 'fellow apprentice' didn't he?

The smile fell from his face as he was reminded of the reason why Yuu was in the infirmary in the first place. And why there were near to 100 coffins in the hall.

The sounds of crying and the faint smell of death were noticeable before he even opened the door. He took in the mourning people hanging their heads over coffins, the laments and whys murmured in broken voices and tore his eyes away.

It wouldn't be the first or the last time he had seen a scene like this, there wasn't much he could do about it other than lessen the number of coffins. And the chance to do so did not come around as often as he would have liked.

He searched around the room for Komui, the man would be lurking around, attempting to keep an eye on Leenalee who he saw crying somewhere among the crowd.

It was at the balcony overlooking the room that he found the supervisor. Although he wasn't alone.

Eyes narrowed when he didn't recognize the people with Komui. An old man, short and with little hair to speak of along with a young man, the red hair was the only distinguishable feature he could make at this distance.

And it seemed like they wouldn't be moving from that spot for a while yet. Jade sighed, he wasn't keen on interrupting them for a report of casualties that Komui would be seeing on his desk either way. If it was ever cleaned.

He was exhausted.

Jade checked the chart on the last patient in the infirmary, making sure that all was clear before he gave up for the day and found some corner to curl up and forget everything for a few hours. And to think it was barely dinnertime.

His stomach grumbled, sending a pang of pain through his abdomen, which didn't help the headache he's had going since morning.

He put the chart down slowly and turned to leave closing the door as quietly as he could without waking anyone up.

A small groan of pain left his lips and he leaned his forehead against the cold door for a moment when his head throbbed rather painfully.

With a sigh Jade turned on his heel and felt a wave of light-headedness wash over him for a moment.

He could barely feel his toes, numbness working its way up his limbs slowly, he felt like throwing up even though his stomach was pointedly empty.

His back hit the wall and he slid down to stare with blurry vision at the ceiling.

Maybe if he passed out now, when he woke then he would only have to deal with a complaining stomach and not the piles of problems he had to take care of while keeping himself from flying off the handle.

Maybe he wouldn't have some weird nightmare, or nobody would find him till morning and he would have a night's full sleep instead of only 5 hours worth of decent rest to work with for 3 days.

Maybe someone else could take over mixing at the lab for him tomorrow, or by the next time an akuma raid happened Komui would have found another coroner and he wouldn't have to work through corpses that numbered to the three digits.

Maybe Reever would have mercy on him and not let the others drag him into projects that needed more engineering than the physics they called him over for.

Maybe Leenalee would decide to talk to Kanda tomorrow instead of him playing at psychologist in the worst possible way and end up making her feel worse.

Maybe Tiedoll would not find him out and drag him and Marie and Daisya to Kanda's side to make sure with his own eyes that his students were still alive and not about to die and leave him just a bit more alone in his world.

Maybe when he dreamt he would be seeing some pleasant memory from Auldrant to keep him company and bring him a smile the next day.

Maybe if he closed his eyes he would find a little more peace and if he let himself listen he would hear the ever-present voice of Tear singing the Great Fonic Hymn and pretend it was just one of those nights where Luke had convinced her to sing for the sake of singing and she lulled them all to sleep.


Bookman had been on his way back from the library, taking a walk around the Order to familiarize himself with the identical corridors of the tower when he saw the person slumped over at the side of the hall.

Judging by the white coat it probably was a member of the science team or one of the doctors.

He crouched by the man he check to see if he was still breathing. From what he'd seen of the members of the science division he wouldn't be surprised to see them keeling over.

But the man was pleasantly alive, if his breathing was rather shallow.

Well, at least, he mused to himself, the infirmary is right next door, as he moved the much taller man inside.

It was much later after this small incident that Bookman and Jade actually met properly.

Bookman had been eating at the cafeteria with Lavi when Jade walked in, accompanied by Leenalee.

At first he only gave them a cursory glance, but when Lavi called the girl over to their table he turned his full attention to the man.

He had met Leenalee Lee days ago, when she had joined him and Lavi on their first mission as an extra pair of eyes.

She was a rather pleasant person and a good exorcist. She made for good observation material and they worked well enough together. Lavi had been less tense around her, that she help with easing his apprentice into his role was a secondary benefit.

The tall man however was a mystery. He was a member of the Order, that was clear, but he hasn't had the chance to actually see him working. Or awake for that matter.

He had met just about every member that worked here at headquarters but it would seem that this man was more elusive or busier than everyone else.

It was when Leenalee introduced the man as Jade that Bookman understood who he was and finally had a face to pin the rumours flying around to.

The man had quite the reputation. Mostly bad but it was all more just something simple being blown out of proportion. One such example was that Jade experimented on corpses and made them into his servants.

The only basis this particular rumour had was the so-called Freezer where the doctor kept blood and some organs in storage.

And apparently the man's morbid humour and teasing nature from his observation of Jade's interaction with Leenalee and Lavi.

But try as he might, there was something nagging at him at the back of his mind. There was something in the brunette's demeanour that was sharper and more cunning than he let on.

The easy smile that barely reached his eyes reminded him of liars. But the man had told no lie and nothing in his behaviour concealed anything.

And apparently his scrutiny would go neither unnoticed nor unreturned. Jade was staring right back at Bookman, smile dropped for the moment now that Leenalee and Lavi had started a smaller conversation that the older man had not chosen to take part in.

The stare was piercing and almost warning in nature, but there was no hostility in the gaze. If anything it was just as searching as his own, if the time spent observing was much shorter.

And in a moment the brown eyes switched back to his coffee and he felt the hairs at the back of his neck fall.

Only when the man stood up to return the tray and return to his work did Bookman notice a piece that had been teasing him from the moment he took to observing the man.

It was his grace and complete control of movement that reminded him of a dancing fighter. All fighters had a different way of moving, but they all had it. That presence of power.

Only with Jade it was concealed beneath smoke, mirrors and a sickle smile that could cut without you noticing.

It was only after the tall man had left the cafeteria that he returned to his cooling tea.

There would be time to solve this puzzle later.

For now he had an apprentice to discipline for trying to steal his dango.

A/N: So, who else thought I was dead? ...Yeah, me too. XD