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A Foolish Figure

Chapter Text

The freezing autumn rain sprinkled on the outskirts London. Not a soul could be seen in the damp, vacant streets, but in a back alleyway stood a lone figure, concealed by a black, sodden hood and the thick, heavy, London fog. The whipping wind ruffled the cloak, letting the stinging, icy droplets meeting the figure's pale skin. It mentally cursed itself on the lack of layers it was wearing; yet it remained eerily silent in the shady alleyway. It remained completely still, however, occasionally, it switched from one foot to another as proof it was more than a mere statue. The white mist of its breath mingled with the infamous London fog, and the being almost seemed like a mystic entity in the faint moonlight. It stood there as the minutes turned to hours. The clock named Ben, towering over the sleeping city, struck twelve. And now, in the darkness of the night, the figure seemed as if it were waiting for something—or someone. Then, suddenly, there came a sound.

One, two…

One, two…

One, two…

The sound of footsteps echoed in the still night, and a pair of large brown boots stepped in an icy puddle only a few feet behind the first figure. The first whipped around with the speed of someone who had just heard the distinctive sound of a rattlesnake, and realized in mute horror who it was who had just appeared behind him.

"Master." greeted the first after several moments, biting his lip nervously as he gave a slight bow. As the second shifted slightly, the first flinched and bit his lip even harder. With every breath he shuddered, and even after several moments, he was only dimly aware of the coppery blood filling his mouth.

"Good evening. Quite the weather we're having, aren't we?" said the second, nodding in the first's general direction. Beneath the shadow of his hood was the faint glow of a cigar; somehow still burning despite the rain. Two pairs of glowing, green eyes focused on the first figure. His voice was gruff and held a certain depth only magnified by the smallest hint of a British accent that it held.

"Indeed, master." He was no longer gnawing on his lip now that he was aware of the blood filling his mouth, though he didn't mind the taste. Anxiety was rolling off of him in waves. He clutched his fists at his sides. He flinched at every movement the second made and he had every right to be afraid.

"They say it's going to storm."

"Isn't it storming now?" inquired the first, watching the second suspiciously with his luminescent, glowing, pink eyes.

"No, 'tis but a sprinkle—a mere prerequisite to the coming storm." The second breathed out of his nose in a sigh, smoke mingling with misty breaths and heavy fog.

"Does this mean the plan is starting soon?"

"Correct," stated the second simply, almost distantly as he slowly reached out a single, gloved hand, catching tiny droplets within his palm. "We will make it rain."

"E-Excuse me, sir?" The first had taken a step back and was staring at the second with an almost alarmed expression. He swallowed, now fearing for his life.

"We will make it rain," the second repeated, and even though he couldn't see it, the first could feel the sly smile spreading across the second's lips. "But it won't be any rain, my friend. No, it shall be made of something else entirely."

The first had a feeling of what the other would say. Nevertheless, he couldn't resist the urge question, raising a quizzical eyebrow in the process. "And what shall it be made from, master?"

The reply was a cruel, icy word, followed by a mirthful laugh. The first's lips turned upwards in a sly smile; revealing two pairs of razor sharp fangs. The fear in his now crimson eyes was doused and placed with a malicious lust.

The game was about to begin.

And it started with that single word.

"Blood."

 

 

Chapter Text

A raspy, ragged breath broke the still of the night. Weak legs struggled to carry their owner and finally collapsed in a dirty, dingy puddle. A tired body fell on the stone road, and it only paused to try and pull itself together. Nevertheless, it had not the strength to keep going, and it began to drag itself across the cold, rough ground.

Short, broken nails aked in mud dug into the crevices between stones in an attempt to escape the looming death behind her. She kept trying to move forward, and her rags of a dress could not protect her as she crawled through broken glass near a dumpster in an alley. Blood, sweat, and tears fell on the wet stone, hiccups following pitiful sobs. Wails of terror and pain fell from her swollen lips, and as she struggled forward, she tried to gain the strength needed to stand, but her thighs caked in a humiliating white that spoke of the horrors she escaped the first time were worn and trembled for they could no longer carry her. 

No one would come to save her. It happened all the time in the slums here, and no one would know of her death. Her bare feet tried to dig into the crevices of stone she was using as handholds in an attempt to gain speed, but it was as if she were dragging her own, dead corpse through the muk of a trashy alleyway. The stench filled her lungs, threatening to suffocate her choked up breaths. 

A cruel heel dug into her spine before a hand grabbed her neck, picking her up from the dirty ground. Adrenaline and instinctual fear pressed her on to fight as she kicked and screamed against her attacker, but it was silence with a gush of blood from her mouth and nose as she was slammed foward into a stone wall. Her eyes rolled back in her head, her vision fading as her head spun. A wail she could no longer hear with her ringing ears passed through a wide open mouth as saliva and blood dribbled from her lips and down her chin. And as she tried to reach back and grab at his face, she was slammed forward again, and everything went black for several moments. 

Her limp body was dropped to the ground like a limp rag doll, and she didn't have the strength to catch herself. She lay sprawled on her back, eyes half-lidded as she looked at the shadow crawling toward her. A sadly familiar pain between her legs caused her to softly cry again, chest heaving as she tried to focus on the passing, grey cloud above in the starry sky. Tranquility tried to wrap her in the blanket of unconsciousness as her lashes fluttered, heart broken and will shattered. However, a scream fell past her lips as agony flooded her body. 

Lifting her head, it snapped back against the cobblestone, and she accidently arched forward into the pain, a rose of vermilion blooming in her chest. Wide eyes focused onthe gleam of silver through her chest, and bloody snot flew from her nose and strung down her pale lips parted with agonized screams. Her body writhed like a snake, toes curling, and when she thought that the pain in her lungs could not be worse, a flicker across her neck exploded into a suffering no one should have to endure.

Blood poured from her neck onto what was left of her clothes and onto the street to form a wide, warm pool around her chilling body bathed in pain. She felt herself drowning in that sea of red. She struggled and gasped, trying to breathe in air, but only succeeding in swallowing her own blood. Choking and rapsing, she clawed at her neck as if to rip out her own throat and free herself from this prison of suffering she was trapped inside like a caged animal. Her lungs were bursting, her vision fading, but the pain still continued. Her eyes dripped tears, though they would do her no good. her body twitched and spasmed and contorted itself in ways she did not know it could. She wanted it to end. Oh god, she needed it to end. Death would be a welcome resppite for this horror. And she reached out a twitching, desperate hand toward the man who attacked her, and the little girl whispered pleas to be spared the pain for any further moments, yet they were but feeble whispers on deaf ears. 

The man looming over her gave her a crazed grin, enjoying the sight of pain as he tapped his foot impatiently in the blooming red around her body slowly falling into the abyss of darkness. He loved the sight of her suffering, and instead of fear at the end of her heartwrenching record, she felt nothing but anger--an anger to avenge her death. 

An anger that even in death brought about life once more.

Even when the light in her eyes had died, and her limp, bloody body was discarded in a nearby trash dumpster, that anger still filled the air. Justice would be brought about. And one day, that man would pay.


 

"Miss Marie Francis. Age seven. Born 1909, died 1916 of suffocation. No special notes..." muttered a bland voice. Glasses flashed in the moonlight above, adjusted by the end of pruning shears before a tall, dark figure jumped down from above and stood beside the bin. Two, dirty, blood feet stuck up from the bin, the only thing indicating the rotting body inside. The stamp of complete echoed on the page, and William closed his ledger. 

Yet another brutal murder...They were becoming more frequent during this war. At least he hadn't been put on the frontlines. Then again, the rate of death here in London was growing in number. As short staffed as they were, William was unsure on how they could possibly handle the growing death rate. 

Shaking his head, he stepped down from the bin and walked down the alleyway toward the street. Another death was scheduled nearby in a half hour, and there was little time to waste. However, something gained his attention and tugged his being, begging him to look over his shoulder at the burtally raped and murdered child in the trash can. 

The feet that had once been limply hanging out moved, twitching and toes curling. Hand on the trigger, William approached the body skeptically with a scowl. It was rare occurance for a body to begin moving again, and that was usually the work of a demon or perhaps the work of a reaper trying to manipulate the work of the famous Undertaker and his bizarre dolls. 

As he approached the bin, the toes retreated into the bin, and slowly a head of white rose up. Once black hair had somehow been bleached white, and equally ivory lashes fluttered over familiar dual-colored irises--green and gold: the sign of a Shinigami. 

How could this be? 

With a frown, William paused and watched the awakened reaper from a distance. Surely this had to be some sort of prank. Only the souls of those who had committed suicde could be reborn as a Shinigami...at least that was how it had always been. Nevertheless, the victim of murder had risen as a Grim Reaper, and she looked around, likely confused with lack of sight. 

She then stopped, staring directly at the other reaper in front of her, and William knew that this was no prank now. No human could ever see a Grim Reaper unless they willingly showed themselves. 

"Hello...Miss Francis?" he began, approaching the girl with even, practiced footsteps. 

A startled scream fell from her lips as a shadow of a man approached her, and she tried to scramble from the bin. Fear clouded her senses as she began to cry, and nothing but the memory of pain was all she had left--pain and that shadow. 

Startled by the sudden screech, William paused, watching the panicked reaper with confused polychormatic eyes. "Post-traumatic stress..." he muttered before sighing and banishing his scythe and ledger. He slowly approached the confused reaper, crawling acorss the bloodied ground on her hands and knees and curling in the corner of the alley. "Miss Francis, the danger has passed. There is no reason to be afraid..."

"NO!" she screamed, her chest constricted and tight as her once slitted throat, now healed, choked up and tears stung her eyes. All she could think of was that pain and all the pent up anger toward something she could not remember.

Kneeling on one knee, William reached out his hand to help her up, only for the white haired reaper to lunge forward and bite him through the glove. He nearly yelped, quickly drawing his hand back. His eyes were wide again in surprise. No, it hadn't hurt--far from that infact--but it had been nonetheless startling.

Glaring at the scared child cornered in the alley, he breathed in a deep breath to maintain the patience that was tried nearly on an hourly basis. He took out the small Hershey's bar from his pocket he carried around when he could not stop for a lunch break and handed it to the scared child. "Here. Eat this. It's good."

With a sniffle, green eyes tried to make out the blurry image coming closer to her face. She flinched, seeing a flash of the silver labeling and picturing the knife that had been plunged through her throat. 

"No, it's food. Go ahead, it won't hurt you," he consoled, trying to put some sort of sincerity in his usually bland voice. He felt more like a soft human trying to draw out some sort of a scared animal in a thunderstorm. 

Reluctantly, Marie gently reached out blindly, missing the bar by a longshot. William only sighed, knowing she likely couldn't see the item clearly. He instead pulled back only to open the package and break off a piece. He took her hand gently, placing the chocolate in her hand and allowing her to have it. 

She brought it to her nose, sniffing it curiously before licking the brown surface. William watched her quickly nibble on the piece before looking at him and slowly crawling toward his figure. He could see how tense she was, ready to spring back at the slightest movement.

"Would you like some more?" he asked, unwrapping the whole bar and slowly offering her the rest of the chocolate. 

Nodding slowly, she took the bar in her pale hands and kneeled before him, eating the offered candy. When she had finished, she crept closer and paused before leaping forward to hug his waist. 

William let out a sudden OOMPH! as his eyes widened, and he pulled his arms back away from the reaper hugging his midsection and curling up in his lap. Blood was staining his pants, and tears began to soak his suit jacket as the reaper child began to sob softly. There wasn't much he could do, and pushing the reaper off would mean that she may run off. Hesitantly, he grimaced and cringed as he patted her messy, white hair. It wasn't too bad...but it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, and the supervisor began to look around as if afraid that Sutcliff may prance in suddenly and squeal at the sight of him 'nurturing' a child. Scythe forbid he begin to form ideas...

With a scoff, the reaper tried to think of a way to get this child off him, but his cold heart began to soften at the pitiful, teary-eyed Shinigami looking up at him. "Don't get the wrong idea," he began, wanting desperately to get this dirty thing off. 

Marie only buried her face in his jacket, humming gently as she curled up in contentment and wallowed in the security of his presence. This was a man she could trust. Yes, she would be safe with him. He was a nice man...

"Miss Francis, I strongly ask that you please release my person," he continued, hands hovering over her as if to push her off, but he didn't have the heart. "Miss Francis, please let go. Miss Francis??"

After several moments, he frowned as he realized that she had fallen asleep despite his insistent pleas. With a sigh, he shook his head as he reluctantly scooped her up in his arms. Surely it would take long to take her back to the realm...

As he approached a wall to form a portal, he stared down at the tranquil, pale face blotched with blood. Somewhere in the deep abyss many called his 'heart', he began to feel sorry for this innocent being chosen to serve another endless life. Perhaps dying in such a brutal manner would strengthen her for the years to come...

Sure, her unnatural way of coming into this world would be questioned by the High Council, and there would be much paperwork with her arrival, but something about this tiny child told of all the wonderful things that were to come. There was just something...special that William could feel deep within his marrow. And as he passed into the reaper realm, he froze with wide eyes at the words mumbled from her lips. 

"Daddy...?"

William T. Spears paled and nearly deadpanned.

Oh shit...

Chapter Text

A door shut behind the echoing footsteps of polished, black dress shoes. All eyes turned on the new arrival, watching as the man clad in black set a folder filled with papers on the table and quietly sat down.

"Ah, Mr. Spearz? It is pleazuree to zee you ahgain," giggled a blonde, her hair done up in a bun. Her white suit and knee-lenth skirt accentuated the black framed glasses perched on her nose and stunning green eyes. Felicianna Costi was the Italian Dispatch's director, one of the more legendary reapers of her time at the table. Her accent was more docile then most Italians, most S's turning into Z's and the slightest inflections of her voice at the vowels at the end of the word. She had always tried to tone down her accent in the presence of those not familiar with it for the sake of being professional. In a way, her accent sometimes seemed more German than Itlaian. Perhaps, it was because she spent a lot of time talking with the German Dispatch during these troubled times.

"Ms. Costi, it is always a pleasure to see you again," was William's curt reply as he spread out the paperwork. He then paused, looking toward the two empty chairs at the very end of the table. "Where is Mr. Geier and Baasch?"

"Zey will be here shortly, I azzura (assure) you." She gave a small smile, straightening out the cuffs of her suit jacket and then placing her gloved hands on her crossed kneees. She sat two seats down on the right from William, who sat at one end of the table.

As if by fate, the door opened to the last two members of the table, and twenty-two pairs of glasses fell upon the new arrivals. The first was a very broad-shouldered man that appeared to be in his mid fourties, his stomach a bit chubby, and brown hair trimmed professionally. He even sported a beard and moustache, close shaven and orderly. The man behind him was even taller and more muscular. His face was clean shaven, not a speck of hair on it. However, his long, blonde hair behind him was tied into a neat ponytail, and his green gaze was a cruel one behind grey, wire-framed spectacles. 

"Ve are all 'ere, I pwesume, ja?" The man with a beard's accent was thick, sometimes hard to understand when he spoke. He sat down at the very end, the blonde man to his right. 

"We, Major Geier," called the French Dispatch's director, Fabian Lafez. He sat to William's left, looking down the row of black suits to the only man clad in a green, military uniform.

Major Geier, Germany's director, was a known military genius and ran his Dispatch as if it were an army. Needless to say, they were a very efficient organization, and the director's prowess in battle could rival that of even the Undertaker's. He was usually the leader of all the European countries at the table.

At the table, there sat eleven countries. Each country had two representitives--a director and one of the many supervisors. From William on the right sat Martin Riesenberg, the British director, Felicianna Costi, her supervisor: Ricardo Riche, Aurel Aubu, director of the Ottoman Empire, Adam Daulca, Aurel's supervisor, David Grene, director of  the Netherlands, his supervisor, the director and supervisor of Austiria, the director and supervisor of Prussia. To the left sat Fabian, his supervisor: Pierre Folly, Gergi Dimitri, the director of Spain, his supervisor: Arthur Hermez, the director and supervisor of Poland, the director and supervisor of Scotland, the director and supervisor of Russia, and Clayton Baasch: supervisor to Major Geier. 

All stared down to the German director, waiting for the meeting to commence. 

"You all know of da incidant dat ve vere all called 'ere fer today. Ze one in question vas a mortal by ze name of Marie Francis who vas ressurected of 'er own fwee vill--a homocide and not suicide.  There be many agenda to get to, but ze first is vhat ve are all 'ere fer: how vas dis possible?"

William's supervisor, a tall, platinum blonde man, who resmbled more of the jolly green giant (minus the green), straightened his tie and cleared his throat. "Do you mean to imply that my supervisor played a role in breaking the conduct by resurrecting a soul scheduled to die? William T. Spears of all reapers?"

"No one is saying zat, Mr. Riezenberg," said Fabian with a slight frown. 

With a huff, Aurel rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath, "But many of us were thinking it."

"We must all remember that William is a very ezteemed member of da Dispatch. Do nona of you remember the prophecee told many fortnights ago?" Felicianna pointed out with a pursed frown. 

"You're too soft to be a director, Mizz Cozti," accused Clayton, sneering at the blonde Italian and crossing his arms. 

"And you'ra too-ah hard headed!" 

"SILENCE!" screamed Major, his large fist pounding into the table. "Zere vas no accusations against Mr. Spears! Ve must not jump to conclusions!"

Like a plague, silence insued amongst the other Shinigami gathered, and lingering glares were thrown across the table.

"Now, who vill answer my question? Does anyone know of how dis happened fer sure?" Major Geier looked at every polychromatic pair of eyes at the table one-by-one, his own narrowed and moustache wrinkled with his determined glare. No one answer, leaving him to speak again. "No one knows? Perhaps Mr. Spears could give us some insight, ja? Mr. Spears, please give us da account of vhat happened."

Adjusting his glasses, he prepared a few papers before looking down and opening his mouth to speak.

"Must you read vhat happened? Are you really zat fergetful?"

Looking up with a surprised blink, he tried to maintain his composure. "No. I wrote this report the night of the incident and was reading them over as to not leave out any substantial evidence. We cannot assume that anything specific took place without a plausible amount of evidence to support it."

"Ve all have read ze report, Spears. Ve vant your account vitzout ze aide of ze initial report. Continue, Villiam."

Closing his manilla folder, he shifted slightly in his chair. This had been his first major Dispatch Council meeting. Usually the supervisor of Burmingham was the one who attended these with Martin, yet now he was thrown into this meeting with no notice, and without say. He swallowed the saliva building in his throat, and he spoke in a clear voice, careful not to stumble on his words. These, after all, were the elite of the European Shinigami. 

"On the night of the incident, I was pulled out of office duty due to another Dispatch officer's failure to arrive on time. There were three reapings scheduled within that hour, and the one in question was my second. After finishing my first reaping, a woman who had died to pnuemonia at the age of sixty-three four blocks away, I jumped along the rooftops to reach my destination. The screams of the atrocious murders were able to be heard from my first reaping, and I scarcely managed to finish that one before the murder began. During the last minute of her life, I was indeed present, and there were no signs of demonic activity. Though the man who committed the crime, Harold Carmichael, was an evil man, he was not demonic himself, nor was he tied with such a creature in any way. Upon the actual reaping, I can also rule out any demonic activity in the area. There was no one else present in the area when she was murdered or reaped with the exception of Mr. Carmichael and myself. When I began to leave for my third collection of the night, I heard something stirring inside the trash can in which she had been stuffed inside. Her feet moved first, disappearing into the bin, and when she rose up, her hair had turned white, and her eyes from blue to green ringed with yellow. Emperically, she has no recollection of her murder, but was still in the mental state of distress. There were no other clues to demonic or even angelic activity, and there were no other Shinigami-auras in the area except for my own."

"Is it entirely possible zat it could be the work of the Legendary Death?" Fabian asked, slipping from a French accent to a normal English tone. 

"I do not believe so, Mr. Lafez," William spoke. "I believe that this was the work of Marie herself. There was no tampering with her records, as I had already collected them, and angels cannot mask their presence."

"So...what could this be?" asked Gergi, who had been silent most of the meeting, being a rather shy, Spanish reaper.

"It could only mean one zing. She could be ze one ve have been looking fer." Major frowned deeply, drumming his fingertips on the desk. "One last test, ja? Bring Mizz Marie in here. I vant to speak to her directly."

William nodded, standing as he bowed once and briskly walked out the door. Once it had closed behind him, his stiff posture slouched only the tiniest bit, and he let out a long, tense sigh. It was not easy to stress the supervisor who dealt with a mad redhead daily, but it was not every day he sat amongst the finest Death Gods that had ever lived. 

"Are they scary?" 

Marie was curled up in one of the waiting chairs, new trainee glasses perched on her nose. Her inquisitive, green eyes focused on the ravenette, and she hugged her knees to her chest. 

It had been only two days after her murder, and the only pair of clothes she had now was a simple, white gown and black dress shoes. William did not want to spend well-earned money on a girl whose fate was unknown. Her white hair was brushed out, hanging down to her shoulders and badly needing a hair cut. 

"No. They are not...'scary'," he explained, frowning deeply. "However, they do wish you talk to you Miss Francis. Will you please join us?"

"You mean, go in there?" she squeaked, hiding her face in her legs. "I don't want to go."

"Miss Francis, I must insist. We require your presence," pressed the supervisor, approaching the ivory-haired child. "Please?"

With a sniff, Marie looked up with huge, sad eyes like a beaten puppy would do. Lower lip trembling, she fought tears as she spoke. "You promise dey won't be mean?"

Knowing the reputation of some of his collagues, and not being one to make promises, he simply sighed. "They shall not touch you."

"You promise?"

"Will you come if I say yes?" he asked, frowning as he looked at her and then the door. 

"Yes..."

"Then yes, I promise," he sighed, adjusting his glasses. 

Sliding out of her chair and her heels clicking on the floor when she landed, she looked up at the taller reaper with that same, pitiful expression. "Will you hold my hand?"

His eyebrow twitched, and his hands reached up to awkwardly straighten his tie. "What?"

Batting her long, white lashes, she smiled gently and reached out her tiny, pale hand. "Will you hold my hand?"

Knowing how hard it was to convince her that he was not her father yesterday, he knew that if he gave in, she may revert to the same mentality. Therefore, he said, "No. There is nothing to be afraid of in there. Please, follow me, Miss Francis."

He turned, walking to the door and reaching for the handle when he realized that Marie had not followed. Green eyes looked back over his shoulder as the sniffling child, threatening to break into tears. Desperate not to deal with a sobbing seven-year-old, he rushed forward with wide eyes. "Miss Francis, do not cry or I will..."

Marie burst into tears, chest heaving with heavy sobs and wails breaking the silence of the hall. Quickly, a gloved hand covered her mouth, and William grit his teeth in frustration. Unlike Sutcliff, he could not beat her in order to shut her up. No, that would simply make things worse. If the rest of management heard the ruckus, it may set a bad example of him. 

"Fine, I will hold your hand, but only to your seat. Do you understand me, Miss Francis?" William looked side-to-side, making sure no one would see the rather dramatic display. 

The wails quieted down to tiny hiccups, and Marie nodded slowly. "Mmm-hmm..."

Trying his damnest not to roll his eyes or sneer in disgust, he held her tiny hand in his own, large gloved one. "Follow me, Miss Francis," he ordered after wiping away her tears (and reluctantly, snot) on his sleeve. He would need to write a reminder to get his suit dry cleaned by tomorrow.

Marie reluctantly followed William into the board room, and she stayed slightly behind William on his right as if to hide behind him. She sniffed, looking at all the eyes staring at her. Some were glares, others were nuetral, and some (much like Felicianna's) were warm and inviting. Swallowing, she allowed William to guide her to his chair where she sat down shyly.

To think, he had lead a child in here...like a child! William tried to keep a straight face, putting up a grand facade as if he were not dying on the inside. Honestly, to make William T. Spears appear so soft...

"Gutentag, Miss Marie," Major greeted with a slight, fond smile. 

With a blink, Marie tilted her head, past sadness and fright throw into the corner of her mind. "Good tag nog? Is that a game? I like games!"

A few muffled chuckles broke the tension. "No, zat is how you say hello in Germany, young child." Major let out his own laugh and continued when he saw Marie blush and dip her head in shame. "Do you know vhy you're here?"

"No..."

"Do you remember vhat happened to you?" he asked, trying to speak a bit clearer and tone down his accent so that she could understand him.

"I died. That's what Daddy said."

William tensed, wide-eyed and trying to fight the slightest of blushes on his cheeks. He thought he had already gone over this with her! "I am not your father, Marie. We have already gone into discussion about this in great detail."

Letting out a whimper, Marie cowered. She didn't want to disappoint the man that had once shown her kindness. "I'm sorry, Willy."

William's brow twitched. At least 'Willy' was better than 'Daddy'.

"Vell, I am sure zat 'Villy' is a very smart man. Vhat else did he tell you?" Major chuckled, and many at the table made a side note to tease the supervisor about the silly nickname more privately. 

"That I am dead, and that I help other dead people now, and I can't see stuff, and I have to wear dese silly things called glasses, and I don't like glasses cause they hurt your nose, and that my hair changed colors, and..."

Impatiently, Clayton cut in with a huff. "VHAT ZE HELL DID YOU DO?! VHAT TRICK DID YOU PULL?!"

Startled, Marie slid down in her chair as her eyes watered and she threatened to cry.

Clenching his jaw, William prepared to lash at the German supervisor, but he was instead cut off by his director's hand and then his voice. 

"Mr. Baasch, sit down and kindly shut the hell up before I shove my you know what up where the sun does not shine. I would rather not lecture you in the presence of a young child, and I am sure that your own director shall be having a few words with you in private later. So, again, I must intercede and oh so politely request that your arse be touching the seat and your lips be touching each other. Thank you, for you cooperation." Martin raised an eyebrow, staring intently at the supervisor as if daring him to try to challenge his authority. 

With a deadly sneer, Clayton sat down and glowered at his coffee mug. 

"Do not mind zem, dear child. Zank you fer your help, Miss Marie. Will you please go outside again for a little while?"

Rubbing her watery eyes, Marie hiccuped before she nodded and slipped out of the chair again. She looked at William, staring at him for a moment before walking out of the door in silence. 

William took the now empty chair, clearing his throat as he tried to ignore the glares passed between Martin and Clayton. Felicianna sipped her tea cup with a smirk, hiding her amusement in her drink. 

"I have seen all I needed to see. Ve shall keep an eye on Miss Marie fer now," he announced with a breif nod. "Zis shall be investigated furzer at a later date. For now, arrangements must be made to provide for ze child until zey are able to care for zemselves. Are zere any volunteers?"

Felicianna giggled, pressing three fingers to her lips to stifle her laughter before speaking. "I believe that the job shall go-ah to-ah, William. Are-ah there-ah any betta canidates?"

"I believe you misunderstand my position. It is an instinctual thing for a newborn, living thing to attach itself to the first thing that it sees. I had the unfortunate circumstance of being the first thing that Miss Francis saw. I do believe that it is in the best interests of Miss Francis to be placed in the care of a more capable reaper that will have the time and energy to provide for her."

Martin laughed, his large hand patting William on the shoulder. "Of course not! You can't put her in a foreign country, and the only one in our Dispatch with enough time to do it is Grell and Ronald! Surely, you wouldn't subject her to that lifetime of torture!" His bellowing laugh caused William to cringe. 

Major nodded, standing up straight and neatly tapping his paperwork on the table to neatly stack them together. "Zen it is decided. Villiam T. Spears shall be caretaker of Marie Francis until ze time she graduates from ze Academy. Zis meeting is adjourned."

WIlliam paled, still sitting in his chair with wide eyes as each reaper left single file out the door. Martin, on the way out, patted William on the shoulder a second time. "Good luck, Will. You're gonna need it."

He still sat there until only Felicianna and himself were present. The Italian Shinigami approached him slowly, smiling as she looked down at him and offered a hand. "If there iz anyt'ing that you need, just call me."

Swallowing, he shook her hand slowly and stood. "I appreciate the offer, Ms. Costi."

"Goodnight, Mr. Spears." With a dip of her head, she walked out the door, her mind on the pasta she planned to eat that night...

He stood there, alone in the meeting room as he gathered his papers. Against his will, he had been assigned the strenuous task of becoming a 'caretaker' for an emotional, unpredictable Shinigami who was not even supposed to exist. And it was all Sutcliff's fault. It wasn't often that Grell was late, he quite liked his job. However, it wasn't hard to guess that some 'fashion emergency' or a hair-styling appointment that had gone wrong had delayed him in arriving to work. He didn't even show until the last hour of his scheduled shif!

If it wasn't for stupid Sutcliff, he wouldn't even be in this mess!

Mind churning in anger at the redhead that had ruined his plans at being promoted any time soon in the next century, he slammed the door behind him when he left and nearly ran over the short child no longer sitting in the chair. Instead, she stood right in front of him. 

"What's going to happen to me, Willy?" she whispered, a tiny hand gripping the bottom of his suit coat. Her polychromatic eyes wavered, looking up shyly at William's. 

"You shall be coming home with me for now...Come, Miss Francis. We shall not delay any further, lest we be late for dinner," he sighed, turning as he walked past her with his eyes trained on the exit. 

The voice behind him turned his blood cold, and he froze in midstep at the words. 

"Will you hold my hand?"

Standing straighter than his scythe, he took a deep breath and calmed himself before he did something that would upset the child. He knew that refusing would result in another 'scene'. And...quite honestly...it wasn't as repulsing as he had thought it would be. 

Slowly, a gloved hand left William's side and reach out to spread its fingers and allow a tiny, pale palm to wrap around it. The small smile and shy expression was enough to make him forget about his predicament for even a moment. And by the time he had gotten home, he had realized that he had neglected to ever let go...

And when she lay on the black couch on his living room under a quilt, he held her hand by her request until she had fallen fast asleep.