Catching Up

"Hiya, Willy." William felt the hair on the back of his neck raise slightly at the muttered words behind him, his heart rate picking up speed at the thought of another badly ending confrontation.

"Did you come for a rematch?" The voice behind him spoke again and William turned to face the taller, beefier young man, his face remaining calm, as his teacher had taught him.

"I didn't come for anything, but if you want to fight you have to swear that it'll just be you and me." William stated, glancing keenly around the group before letting his eyes settle once again on the boy who seemed to love bothering him.

"Fine." Adam shrugged innocently, offering his hand in agreement.

William reached out and grasped it, his face twitching slightly when Adam squeezed his hand painfully hard, denying the soon-to-be-reaper the pleasure of knowing he had caused any discomfort.

The two separated without another word between them, each watching the other carefully while they held their fists up near their chest and face.

Adam charged first, swinging his fist down to hit the challenger in the top of the head, stumbling when he hit nothing but air.

William dodged the punch with little effort and repositioned himself a few feet behind Adam.

The young man continued to attack and ran to tackle Spears, again stumbling through air when William jumped up to dodge, this time his momentum being too much for him to handle and throwing him to the ground.

Adam Habell had had just about enough, walking up to William instead of charging this time, he knew William wouldn't be able to dodge. He swung his fist toward the smaller boy's stomach and felt his arm go a completely different direction halfway through the motion.

William blocked the bully's punch almost effortlessly, moving it across the boy's body and stepping around to his back again.

"You think you're a tough guy now? Huh? Smart guy?" Adam jeered, encouragement from his gang coming from the sidelines.

William didn't reply, his face remaining calm and relaxed while watching the instigator slowly tire himself out.

Adam ran again and when William jumped up to dodge the attack he grabbed his foot and dragged him back toward the ground.

Spears hit the ground on his back and elbows, feeling the pain shoot like lightning through his arms and the air leave his lungs from the forceful contact on his back.

Adam got on his knee at William's side, grabbing a fistful of the front of his shirt. He felt a sudden hard force knock into the side of his head and quickly lost his grip on the fabric, holding his hand to the side of his head.

William jumped to his feet after kicking the boy, backing away as much as he could, Adam' friend's now having formed a circle around them so he couldn't escape.

Adam stood up, face contorted into fury.

William lashed out again, swinging his heel into Adam's cheek with a hard and fast back-roundhouse, watching his bully fall over and grab his jaw with a pained cry.

"Get him!" Was all Habell could barely force out while the side of his face burned and swelled under his fingers.

Spears struggled when he felt his arms be tugged forcefully behind his back, the boy pulling his arms upward so he had to bend over.

Adam walked over and punched Spears across the cheek without hesitation, feeling the satisfying pressure of his hand hitting flesh.

William felt his knees buckle slightly but kept his footing, looking to see where Adam's legs were. He kicked as hard as he could upward, feeling his foot made a heavy contact between his attacker's legs, Adam falling down confirming his suspicion about where exactly he had hit.

He followed this up by stomping down on the instep on his captor's foot, pulling his arms loose and punching the boy before dodging an attack from behind, letting a third young reaper run into the one he had previously been attacking.

He blocked a kick and punch in rapid succession and pushed the boy, letting him trip over Adam, who was still lying on the ground, and land on top of the other pair.

William felt a kick land on his back, forcing him to the ground.

The last two weren't going to let him get away so easily, one sitting on his legs and the other, larger one, sitting heavily on his chest.

Spears felt his ability to breathe leave him, wheezing as he tried to take in a lungful of air with the man sitting on top of him, outweighing him by at least a hundred pounds.

The man took an extra precaution and punched him against the temple, dazing William and leaving him with a spotty vision.

"We got him, guys, come on!" The one sitting on his legs yelled to the rest of the group, who (except for Adam who was also trying to breathe) were attempting to sort themselves out.

"What's going on here?" William looked through the closing blackness and tried to see who it was, recognizing the voice.

"Butt out." One of the boys, who was a dropout from the academy, jeered at the worrier.

"Get out of here, all of you. People want to leave and this isn't the place to have your little fight clubs." The voice spoke again with a high level of authority.

The individuals in the group that could run off did, leaving William lying a few feet away from a still crippled Adam and a kid who was wining about his ankle.

"William T. Spears, what are you doing with these boys?" Theodore Eudo walked up to the young man and stood over him, another person from behind picked Spears up from under his armpits and didn't release him until they were sure he was steady on his feet.

"Hi William." Alan greeted his roommate with a wave and small smile.

"H-hi Alan." Spears turned around to see who helped him up and came face to face with a dashing smile and an odd haircut, Eric Slingby patting him on the shoulder.

"How you doin' kid?" Eric looked him over and straightened his shirt collar for him without a word, showing that he could indeed move clothes into a formal fashion but chose not to do so for himself.

"Uh, alright. Hello Eric." William shrugged.

"You seemed to be holding your own against those kids until that bastard sat on you." Eric patted his shoulder again and retreated to Alan's side.

"Yeah! You were awesome, Will!" Alan's face was broken into a smile that could compete with some of Undertaker's larger smiles, although it made Alan's face look strange since he was naturally not particularly emotional.

"And you're back on the student roll." Eudo swung forward on his crutches and smiled at the young man, not wanting to pat him like Eric had in case he was sore.

"Yes." William nodded, collecting his bearings and feeling his pulse level drop.

"You should get home now, you need to sleep and heal unless you're going to try to ask Constance for a day off." Theodore looked pointedly at a bump on Spears' head and a bruise on his cheek.

"I just fought off six bullies, do you think I have a death wish?" William gave Mr. Eudo a small grin, receiving a chuckle and a nod for his comment.

"Come on Will, Alan tells me that you're the rice master." Slingby started walking down the sidewalk with Alan close at hand.

"Compared to him? Anyone is." William jogged to catch up and the trio laughed at his remark of Alan's cooking skills.

"If he would focus his skills on cooking as much as he does on reading books, he would be a master chef." Eric chuckled.

"So how have you been, Eric? I haven't seen you in awhile." William went into his room to change out of his dirty shirt once they got into the apartment.

"Oh, I've been pretty well. Not much going on. I've been needing to help Alan here learn hand to hand fighting because Theo can't do it himself." Eric stretched and thumped down on the couch.

William walked back into the living room and looked Eric over, he looked the exact same as last time, strange hairstyle and messed up clothing, except he had a different tie on (although this one was still undone like the other).

"I never asked, I don't think, but who's your teacher?" William got a bout of laughter for a reply.

"I had Theo two years ago. Another guy named Ethan helped me learn how to fight like I'm helping Alan now." Eric nodded his thanks when Alan came in with water for all three of them.

"You know Ethan? Ethan Moore?" William studied Slingby and decided that, while a little louder and hyper, he did have a similar personality to the man.

"Yeah, why?" Eric finished his glass in just a few gulps but denied it needing to be refilled.

"He was a student of my teacher." William shrugged.

"Yeah, a lot of reapers have been her student." Eric shrugged as well. "I can't remember who trained Eudo though. I know it wasn't her."

"I think it was Undertaker." Alan piped into the conversation.

"Really?" William looked over to him.

"Yeah. He stopped training about five hundred years ago, so that would put Theodore as one of the last people who was trained by him." Eric nodded.

William's head spun, trying to fashion a rough timeline for his teacher and Undertaker.

Constance was about one hundred when she started a relationship with him… right? I'm twenty, and that's the normal age for a reaper to test, and obviously twenty plus eighty makes a hundred.

William felt his head buzzing, Eric calling to him through the static.

"You alright there? You zoned out on us." Eric gave Spears something to focus on to pull him from his mind.

"Yes. I was trying to figure out a timeline… you know, like a series of events? For my teacher." William shrugged innocently.

"That would be very difficult." Eric chuckled. "But Theodore is about a hundred years younger than Constance, so if you figure it out, let me know."

"Are you going to be around for the test?" Alan asked his best friend, sipping his water.

"No, I have to go to Italy for a few months to help Anthony Kermer with a demon problem. I'll be back before you know it though." Eric smiled at the boy and pulled a large piece of fresh chocolate from his pocket. "Want some?"

Both William and Alan partook in the treat and savored the dark, rich flavor, finding that it was almost tastier being slightly soft from being in Eric's pocket all day.

"So, how 'bout dinner?" Eric flashed a bright smile at Spears.

"What did you want?" William looked between the two other young men.

"Well, I bought a chicken a day or two ago and fried it up and I couldn't finish it, if you could make some rice to share with me- it would be my pleasure to share my chicken with you." Eric gestured to his satchel, which, upon closer inspection did seem to be carrying a rather large box in it.

"Sounds good. I'll make the rice." William wanted to make sure that he made it instead of Alan this time since the last time hadn't… turned out… so well.

The water was measured and poured along with the rice, boiled and steamed and whatever else the rice did under the cover of that lid. William would honestly have accepted it as magic… as long as he still got to eat it.

The trio sat down to a rather large meal of rice and chicken, fit for a king compared to what they normally ate.

They chatted and joked about whatever came to mind while they munched away, laughing at Alan when water came out of his nose once during a rather funny joke.

"How about we jog down to the bakery for some pie?" Eric pushed away from the table, stretching with a yawn.

Alan agreed but yawned all the same.

William nodded absentmindedly as he felt a wave of fatigue hit him and stood up. "I think I'm going to bed, I have to train tomorrow and the best thing that could happen would be that Abery doesn't find out about my fight. Night." He waited for the two to bid him good night and wandered off to his room, lying in bed for a few minutes staring at his darkening ceiling before pulling out a piece of paper and a quill.

Abery, 20, is trained by Undertaker.

Abery, 100, begins a relationship with Undertaker.

How many years go by?

Undertaker quits teaching 500 yrs. ago.

Undertaker gives Abery silver chain… 400 yrs. ago.

About 100 yrs ago Abery trains Ethan. Trains John

William could feel a headache starting and shoved the paper and ink and quill back into his drawer, not wanting to think about it much longer but glad he got it on paper.

In the kitchen, a plate clattered to the floor with a thumping squish sound, promptly answered by a "Come on!" From William's roommate and guest.

The apartment dropped into silence as Alan and Eric went on another trip to find more pie.