Chapter Twenty-Eight: Night Shift:

Tsuzuki and Anna sat on the porch watching the driveway in the late hours of the night. Two days and nothing had happened, but yet there was no time to rest. Yasuo could show up at any moment tonight. Anna was trying to sleep and Tsuzuki was lost in thought. Hotaru’s words had really gotten him. Why was he still keeping Anna alive? Was he actually in love with her? Risking his job for love?

The Shinigami quickly shook his head. Nah, that’s crazy; right? Tsuzuki looked over at Anna. She had her eyes closed, trying to sleep. The Shinigami couldn’t help but smile. Boy, she looks so peaceful, he thought, It would be wrong to wake her…

“Anna, Anna,” he whispered as he tapped her on the shoulder. She began to frown with her eyes shut.

“What, Tsuzuki?” she asked sounding cranky.

“Talk to me,” he whispered.

“No!” the woman hissed, trying to go back to sleep.

“Why not?” Tsuzuki asked, pouting.

“I want to sleep!” Anna complained.

“But if don’t talk to me, I’ll fall asleep too,” he reasoned, sounding like a sweet little kid, “Then Yasuo will show up and kill you again. Then, I’ll be fired and regret not saving you.” A plus-cross shape appeared on Anna’s head as she gritted her teeth.

“Fine!” the woman snapped, “What do you want to talk about?” Tsuzuki shrugged.

“Just anything, really,” he replied with a little pout.

“That’s not good enough,” Anna said in a bitter tone, “Think of something or I’m going to sleep.”

“Okay, uh… Have Emiko and Hotaru been talking to you lately?” the Shinigami asked in desperation to keep her awake. Anna opened her eyes and looked at him on that one.

“Emiko has, why?” she responded.

“I think they are trying to make us into a couple,” he said.

“You notice that too?” Anna asked staring at him.

“Yeah,” he said, nodding.

“Buy why?” the woman asked with her eyes narrowed at him, “What are they up to now?” The Shinigami shrugged.

“Tell me and we’ll both know,” he said.

“Hm,” she said in thought. Tsuzuki noticed Anna’s left wrist.

“Anna,” he spoke up. The woman stared out into the night.

“Uh-hm?” she asked.

“What’s with your bracelet?” the Shinigami asked back. Anna looked down at the jewelry in question.

“Oh this?” she asked, “It belonged to my aunt Kirika. Papa gave it to me years ago.”

“Ah,” Tsuzuki said, nodding. The woman felt sentimental so suddenly.

“His little soldier,” she mumbled to herself, “That’s what he called me; his little soldier.”

“You and your father sounded like you were really close,” Tsuzuki stated.

“We were,” Anna murmured. She looked over at the Shinigami.

“What about you? Were you close to anyone?” she asked. Tsuzuki went quiet. Should he talk about her? He was learning about her father each and every day. The man lowered his head.

“Yes, a sister,” he said softly, “Her name was Ruka.”

“Were you really close?” Anna asked.

“Yes; sweet girl,” the Shinigami answered, “She was the only person in the world that cared about me. I didn’t know what to do without her.” Anna understood how he felt.

“What happened to your sister?” she asked. Tsuzuki lower lip trembled.

“She died…” her murmured. He could feel his heart breaking all over again. Anna herself felt a little bit of his sorrow.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said softly. Tsuzuki fought hard to smile.

“It’s okay,” he tried to lie, “I’m fine now, really!” The look on Anna’s face told him that she didn’t believe him.

“You sound like I did in college,” she said sternly. Tsuzuki frowned at her.

“Am I that obvious?” he asked. Anna didn’t say a word. Tsuzuki looked down at his feet.

“Oh…” he said quietly. Anna decided to change the subject.

“So… slow three days, hasn’t it?” she asked in a more chipper voice. The Shinigami looked up and nodded.

“Yeah,” he said trying to really cheer up. Anna shuffled her feet a bit.

“So… how are you?” she asked.

“Good,” Tsuzuki answered, “You?” The woman nodded and pressed her lips together.

“Good,” she replied. So hard to find the words after opening old wounds again; yet they both had the same question in their minds. Could they have an intimate relationship together? They had a guess to that answer, but they wanted to hear it out loud. Who would be first to ask? Why couldn’t they word it the way they wanted to say it? The clock ticked loudly in their heads as the pause lengthened on and on. Anna finally opened her mouth to speak when they heard footsteps in the darkness.

“You hear that?” Tsuzuki whispered.

“Yeah,” Anna whispered back. The Shinigami drew out his fuda.

“Stay by me,” he whispered to the woman. Anna nodded as the footsteps crept closer and closer. The pair looked up and saw Yasuo standing only six inches away from them, smirking.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Am I interrupting anything?” he asked sarcastically.