Chapter Twenty-nine: Reckoner:

Hotaru loved her new son. Akira filled the hole in her hear that Emiko made when she went to Heaven. She took good care of him like a normal mother.

"It worked, Tsuzuki," Mike told the shinigami two weeks after the baby came into Hotaru's life. "She's much better now! No longer in a slump!"

"Glad to know," Tsuzuki said. However, there came a problem.

March 15th, 2010.

Tsuzuki walked home in excitement. She waited there for him. The shinigami decided to bring home some dinner. Ramen felt like the plan tonight. Just a quiet night in with a dinner and movie. Too bad that would scrapped right about� now. Tsuzuki paused in his tracks. Thanatos stood before him, glaring. She held a half-empty bottle of sake in her hand. The shinigami blinked.

"Thanatos?" he asked. The bounty hunter stepped forward.

"You!" she snapped. "I have a bone to pick with you!" Tsuzuki blinked.

"Okay�" he said. �What is it?" Thanatos took another step forward.

"A couple of weeks ago," she said. "Eros-kun and I turned in a juicy bounty. A prostitute about nineteen years old. A stalker stabbed her in the abdomen finally in� oh, where was it? Hm� oh yeah! Nagasaki!" She glared over at him. "Ring any bells?" The shinigami gasped.

"So that's what happened�" he murmured. He covered his mouth when he realized what slipped out. Thanatos still glared at him.

"Anyway," she said. "We only got half price. Half price! Half fucking price!" She glanced at Tsuzuki with hate in her eyes. "Do you know why?" The shinigami shook his head.

"No�" he said. Thanatos clinched her fists.

"The prostitute only cost half," she said. "Do you know what the other half is?" Tsuzuki shook his head. The bounty hunter saw fire.

"The baby!" she snapped. "Give me the baby!" Tsuzuki backed up.

"I can't."

"And why not?"

"He's with a better family now,� he replied. The bounty hunter fought back a laugh. Tsuzuki raised an eyebrow at her.

"What?" he asked. Thanatos smirked as she shook her head.

"Really?" she asked. "Why bother?"

"What do you mean?"

The bounty hunter gave him a little shrug. "The baby's gonna grow up to be a menace to society."

"No! It's not true!"

"How do you know that?"

Tsuzuki went silent. "Uh�"

She leaned in close to him. "So� Hand him over to me. It'll be good for everyone. You'd be a hero. Give me the little brat."

Tsuzuki shook his head. "No!"

Thanatos frowned. "Fine! Then I'll take your little blow-up doll instead!"

The shinigami himself saw fire. "Stay away from Anna-chan!"

The bounty hunter gave him a little shrug. "It's either the baby or your little doll. That's your only choice." She turned and walked away. "Either way, I will get my money!" Despite the warm night, Tsuzuki suddenly felt cold. He reached in his coat for his phone and dialed an urgent number.

"Hello?" another man asked. Tsuzuki swallowed hard.

"Mike," he said. "I have a little problem."


"There's a bounty on Akira-kun's head."


"I don't know what to do here. She's threatened to take Anna-chan if I don't cooperate."


"What do I do?"

"I'll meet you at Kimoto Manor."

Tsuzuki nodded. "Right."

"See you then."


"Bye." Tsuzuki drew in a heavy breath. That should hold the situation for the time being. The next morning, Tsuzuki knocked on Wisteria House's front door.

"Tsuzuki-san!" she exclaimed. "So good to see you again. Care to come in?" He nodded nervously.

"Sure, thanks," the shinigami said. He walked into a complex trap.