Chapter One: New Yearï¿½s Birthday:
Running. Adrenaline racing. Sweaty palms. The club's music pounded in the background. His paranoia unfolded in sections. The colors blurred in his eyes. Heavy breathing.
What is thisï¿½
The countdown began. Ten. His heart rate increased. Nine. He could smell Hell. Eight. Alice jumped down the rabbit hole. Seven. Make it stop! Six. Circles. Five. Circles. Four. Circles. Three. A pixie walked up to him. All pretty in pink. Two.
"Give me a kiss," she said. One. He lunged at her. A scream filled the club. Happy New Year! Her blood flooded the marble black floor.
January 1st, 2010.
Tsuzuki awoke to the sound of match being struck. He looked and saw Anna sitting on the floor lighting white candles on a small cake. She mumbled a small chant over the candles. She looked drained and hollowed out. The shinigami sat up in her futon.
"Have you been crying?" he asked. Anna looked up at him.
"Hm?" she asked. The woman reached up to her eyes.
"Are there tears?" Anna asked.
"Noï¿½" Tsuzuki said at first. However, he looked closely at her face. "Wait. Yes, you are."
"Damn it," Anna mumbled. She sniffled as she wiped her new forming tears.
"What's the matter?" Tsuzuki asked. Anna shook her head. Her fiancï¿½ climbed out of bed and walked up to her.
"Aww come here," he whispered. The shinigami held her to his chest. She cuddled up close to the warmth of his body.
"It's his birthday," Anna mumbled. Tsuzuki looked down at her.
"Who?" he asked. His woman looked up at him.
"It's Papa's birthday today," she whispered. Tsuzuki didn't say anything.
"Anna-chanï¿½" he said. Tsuzuki felt his own heart aching. There must be something he could do. He stared deep into her greenish-brown eyes.
"Let's go to the shrine," he said. Anna gave him a puzzled look.
"What for?" she asked. Tsuzuki held her cheeks.
"Trust me on this, okay?" he whispered. Anna closed her mouth. Tsuzuki gave her a little smile.
"Very good," he whispered. He kissed her on the lips.
At ten, the couple headed out the local shrine. They didn't talk the whole time. She didn't even smile. Tsuzuki fought to keep it together. Ten long years, he thought. Must be hard. He came up to the bell.
Let Anna-chan heal this year, Tsuzuki thought. He gave the bell one ring. Anna waited for him at the entry.
"Did you pray for his soul?" he asked. Anna nodded at him. She looked like she would cry again. Somehow, he felt like this didn't really help out like he hoped it would.
"Ready to go?" Tsuzuki asked. She didn't answer. He forced himself to smile.
"So," he said. "Want to pick up a meal?" Her man breathed out. "Okayï¿½" he mumbled. Both headed into the city.
"Forty-five," Anna spoke up on the walk. Tsuzuki paused and looked at her.
"Hm?" he asked. Anna looked up at him.
"Papa would've been forty-five today," she said.
"Ah," Tsuzuki replied. He held her hand tighter. "You can cry if you want. Just let it out." His fiancï¿½e shook her head.
"I can't do this anymore," she said. "I spent up all of grieving. Now I just have a loneliness that I don't know how to get rid of." Her grip tightened in his hand.
"So, I do the ritual to feel something year after year," she said. Anna went quiet as she noticed the pity in Tsuzuki's eyes. She quickly shook her head.
"Oh forgive me," she brushed off. "I seem to be bringing you down on New Year's Day. Sorry about that." Tsuzuki gave her a little smile. His finger trailed along her cheek.
"It's alright," the man whispered.
"He loved Kurosawa Akira's films," she said in a low voice. "Kurosawa was his favorite director."
"So that's why you rented all of those DVDs yesterday," Tsuzuki said. Anna nodded.
"And bought the cake," she said. Both went silent. Time to try and change the subject before they both got really depressed. Suddenly, Tsuzuki remember something.
"We haven't set a wedding date yet!" he gasped, trying to cheer her up. Anna looked up at him.
"Oh that's right!" she said. "When will we get married?"
"Uhï¿½" her man said. Anna raised an eyebrow at him.
"Did you even tell them?" she asked. Tsuzuki looked nervous.
"I'm working on it!" he complained. Anna pushed on his arm.
"Asato-kun!" she said.
"I can't find the right moment!" he said.
"They'll find out sometime," Anna pointed out.
"I know!" her fiancï¿½ said.
"So when?" the woman asked. Tsuzuki nuzzled her on the neck. Anna giggled.
"Ooo! That tickles!" she murmured. Tsuzuki leaned close to her ear.
"We'll talk over the cake and one of Kurosawa-san's films," he whispered. Anna looked over at him.
"You meanï¿½" she said. Her man smiled and nodded.
"Yes," he said. Anna fought to keep down her emotions.
"Can we watch Dreams?" she asked. "That was our personal favorite and my first Kurosawa movie." Tsuzuki gave her a little smile. He patted her on the head like a little sister.
"Anything you like," the man replied. Anna smiled back. Happy started to the New Year? Wellï¿½