Chapter Twenty-Two: Scar Tissue:

Several hours later, Anna went home and took a shower. The new information lingered in her ears. Emiko sat in front of the other woman as Anna came to.

“Hi,” Emiko whispered with a smile. The woman blinked for a moment.

“What happened?” she asked. The butch demon smiled at her.

“A lot,” Emiko answered.

“How do you mean?” Anna asked still trying to recover her senses. Emiko leaned in, smiling.

“After the whipping, we gave you some electrical shocks,” she said in a low voice. Anna looked at her with big eyes. Emiko chuckled at her reaction.

“Oh don’t worry, you’re not dead,” she explained, “But, something interesting did happen.”

“And what was that?” her student asked with a puzzled look on her face.

“When we finished the experiment and checked on you, you had two big white wings on your back,” the butch demon told her. The look on Anna’s face said that she didn’t get where this was headed.

“What? Why?” she asked frantically.

“That’s what we wondered,” Emiko added, “So, I did some research on you while you were resting. I found two things: the cracks in the shield are deeper now and your Hell Stone protected you.” Anna blinked on the last part.

“Huh?” she asked.

“The wings come out to prevent you from dying from serious injury,” Emiko said as she leaned back in her chair, “However, the more the wings come out, the weaker the Hell Stone becomes. Your extended life span shortens because of it.” Anna slowly took it all in.

“By how much?” she asked. Emiko shrugged.

“Who can say?” the butch demon said, “It depends on how strong the stone was made.” That new information stayed with Anna.

Even with papa’s shield breaking, I still can’t escape death, she thought as the cold water rained on her body. This time, I could end up bringing myself to a quicker death in battle. The smart thing to do would be not to fight, but that was out of the question. Why? She was still working on that part. Anna had just got out of the shower when there was a knock on the door.

“Yes?” she asked she looked up.

“It’s only me,” a voice said on the other said on the other side. The woman froze up almost immediately.

“Tsuzuki?” she asked.

“Is this a bad time?” he replied.

“Uh… no, no!” she said in one breath, “I just got out of the shower. I’ll be there in a second.” Anna quickly dried off and got dressed, but as she was putting on her bra, the woman finally noticed something. Anna looked in the mirror and saw the scars on her back. Such ugly things they were; a price to pay for her unanswered need to fight and defend herself. Now she would have to have these scars until she died again.

“Are you sure this is a good time?” Tsuzuki asked, “I could come back later.”

“No, no!” Anna insisted as she came back to earth, “I’m almost dressed!”

“You sure?” he asked.

“Yeah, hang on a sec!” she yelled. Anna quickly hooked up her bra and put her shirt on. She opened the bathroom door. Tsuzuki looked straight at her.

“Hey,” he said with a small wave.

“Hi,” Anna said back, “What brings you by?” Tsuzuki’s face became serious.

“I played the tape for Ju-Oh-Cho,” he told her. Anna became serious as well.

“And?” she asked. Tsuzuki gently took her by the hands.

“They are looking for Yumiko’s body and examining Kirika’s,” he said calmly, “We are getting closer to closing the case.” Anna looked at him happily.

“Thank you!” she murmured as she bowed down. Tsuzuki embraced her tightly.

“We’ll get to the bottom of this, I promise!” he said. Tsuzuki was too caught up in his excitement that he didn’t notice the fresh wounds on Anna’s back. The woman let out a painful gasp and collapsed in the Shinigami’s arms. Tsuzuki looked up in worry.

“Anna? Anna?” he asked clutching her tight in his arms. He slowly lowered the woman to the hall floor on her stomach.

“Anna! Anna! Anna!” Tsuzuki yelled in panic. He began to fear the worst. Was the Hell Stone finally breaking down? Was she going to be white ash now? However, something caught Tsuzuki’s eye. He looked at his hands and saw them covered in blood. Confusion coated his face.

Blood?, the Shinigami thought. He looked down and saw Anna bleeding through the back of her cute white t-shirt. Tsuzuki quickly lifted up the cotton fabric. He was horrified to see the old and fresh whip lashes all over her back. What the hell had Anna been up to the past couple of weeks?