Chapter Two: Bamboo Baby:

Love is powerful. It seems endless, creating and recreating itself all the time. One of its best-known by-products? Offspring. But, what of those unable to add that little slice of happiness to their lives in the traditional “normal way?” Well, there are other options.

A giant storm has hit Okinawa. Ju-Oh-Cho got right to down to business wading through stacks of paperwork and collecting souls. Tsuzuki decided to take Anna with him to do a “soul sweep.”

“I don’t understand,” Anna said.

“Don’t understand what?” he asked.

“Why you brought me here with you.”

“Extra help.”

“But I’m not a shinigami. I’m not even dead, sort of.”

“We’re swamped here so I thought you'd be a good person to help me, Anna. I trust you.”

“Okay…” Anna nodded. “So, what do you need me to do?”

“Keep an eye out, that's all. Hisoka and Byakko are helping me, too.”

“Sure,” she agreed. Don’t know what use I could possibly be here, but I'm gonna stick around. The moment Anna made up her mind to help out the best she can, Byakko rushed over to the couple in a near panic.

“Tsuzuki!” the tiger shouted. “Tsuzuki!”

“What is it?” his master asked.

“I found someone alive!” the shikigami exclaimed. Tsuzuki and Anna turned to each other with surprise on their face. As if they felt a wave of shock.

“Where? Show me...” the shinigami demanded.

“Hop on, and I’ll take you!” Byakko shouted. He lowered himself on all fours to allow his master to straddled him. Once in position, Tsuzuki reached over to Anna and helped her mount the tiger’s back by pulling her up.

“Hang on tight,” he told her. Anna wrapped her arms around Tsuzuki as Byakko took off flying. They arrived at a giant ruin of a house. The roof already caved in. Not much was left standing. Tsuzuki made an odd face.

“Byakko, are you sure this is it?” he asked.

“Yes!” the tiger insisted. “They're definitely in there! I saw them.”

“Okay…” Tsuzuki said uneasily. He and Anna teleported into the house. Once inside he discovered that it looked just as bad as the exterior, if not worse. Since water was dripping from a giant hole in the ceiling, there was no point in exercising the usual custom of removing their shoes.

“We can barely walk around,” Anna complained.

“It'll be okay, just stick close to me. Alright?” Tsuzuki told her.

“Right,” Anna scoffed.

The water came up to the couple’s ankles. The there wasn’t much in the house, which seemed to be littered to the rafters with debris: water logged furniture, floating pieces of wood flooring and chunks of plants and trees from outside as well as the odd animal carcass.

“How bad was this storm again?” Anna asking, looking around her at the damage.

“Pretty bad,” her husband answered.

“Like how bad from one to ten?”


“Damn. Why didn’t it make the news?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out.” The duo entered a bedroom door at the end of the hall. Byakko stood guard, waiting for them to conclude their investigation. Two bodies, a man and a woman, lie dead on the floor. It wasn’t exactly clear how yet exactly how they had died. Their bodies still looked fresh. Tsuzuki turned his attention to Byakko.

“They're both dead,” he whispered. “How can you be sure that anyone’s alive here?”

“There!” the tiger insisted, nodding his head toward another room. Right then, they heard a soft cry.

“Is that…?” Tsuzuki asked. He and Anna ran toward the muffled cry. The dead woman was cradling crying infant. The child couldn’t have been more than a week old and had been swaddled in a white blanket before all hell broke loose. The cries grew louder as they approached.

“Look at you, little one,” Tsuzuki cooed as he picked up the baby. “How long have you’ve been here like this?” Anna walked over to have a look for herself.

“The cheeks look so red,” she remarked.

“Think the baby is sick?” he asked.

“Well, the kid can’t stay out here,” she said.

Tsuzuki bounced the baby, and rubbed between its shoulders. “So, I guess we’re taking the baby with us?” he shrugged.

“What else can we do? The parents are dead and I don’t see anyone else nearby.”

“Good point,” Tsuzuki nodded in agreement. “Where do we find baby supplies?”

“I guess we can look around the house first, then head back to the city.”

Anna, Tsuzuki, and Byakko searched the house for anything that could help before meeting back in the main room.

“I’ve got nothing,” Anna said.

“No luck here, either,” Tsuzuki replied. Just as they had given up hope of finding anything useful, Byakko entered the living room with a diaper bag in his mouth.

“Here..,” he offered. The tiger dropped the bag onto one of the few dry spots left. Anna rushed over, unzipped the bag and rummaged around inside. She found three fresh diapers, a blanket, and a clean baby bottle.

“Hm, I guess everything else was used or washed away,” she said. “Are you sure this is it?”

“Yes,” Byakko said.

“Okay,” Anna said. “Shopping it is then.” Tsuzuki smiled as he continued cradling the baby in his arms.