Rikkai encounters shinigami at Nationals. Drama, I-3

The day was clear and hot, good weather for their first match at Nationals.
Renji supposed it was cosmic parity for something else to go wrong. He sighed
when he saw Hatter’s eyes brighten, as the team made their way toward their
assigned court. What had caught her attention this time? He looked in the
direction she was starting to edge in and suppressed the urge to put a hand
to his forehead. Of all the people for Hatter to decide to tease, of course
it would have to be Fuji Yuuta, and, by extension, Fuji Shuusuke.

His concerns about stirring up the opposition unnecessarily were preempted
rather abruptly, though, when two people materialized between Hatter and
the increasingly nervous younger Fuji. Not that long ago, Renji mused, that
would have startled him. "People you know, Hatter?" he asked, examining
the newcomers. A young man, probably not too much older than they were, with
very sharp green eyes and an older man with messy dark hair who probably
looked sweet most of the time.

At the moment he looked both tense and angry.

Not that this appeared to concern Hatter.

"Ah," she tapped a fingertip against her lips for a moment, "Tsuzuki
isn’t it? How nice to finally meet you in person." She eyed the St.
Rudolph contingent behind him and shrugged. "You can have them, if you
like. It’s not as if one doesn’t have one’s hands pleasantly full."

Tsuzuki now looked like he didn’t quite believe he’d just heard the very clear
sexual innuendo. His friend looked highly suspicious. And St. Rudolph’s Fuji
looked like he was considering making a run for it. Renji couldn’t quite
blame any of them. Hatter did often take people like that.

"Besides," Hatter added, thoughtfully, "One did say one wouldn’t
interfere with the games, and destroying all the courts probably counts."
She glanced at Genichirou, brows raised, and got a glare. "One thought
so. Which is the most likely outcome if we got into a tiff over the boys."

"That hasn’t stopped any other demon I’ve met," Tsuzuki said, slowly,
easing back just slightly anyway. Someone who would rather talk than fight,
Renji noted.

Hatter sniffed. "One outranks you considerably, young one, so there’s
no need to kill you for that consideration. Equally, one has no intention
of forgetting the strength of your bloodline. Sargatanas was an idiot and
got exactly what he deserved. One laughed for days when one heard."
A thin smile curled her lips. "Astaroth simply isn’t having a good century.
His lesser demons still, clearly, haven’t learned anything from their fellow’s
destruction; no forethought among them at all. Please do feel free to kill
them off. You can think of it as your contribution to the good of all our
kind, if you like." She adjusted her hat with eloquent disdain.

Renji’s attention sharpened as Tsuzuki and his friend both stiffened. "I’m
not a demon," Tsuzuki said, low and hard. His friend took a step closer
to him.

Hatter’s expression turned tolerant, the way Renji had seen it when Kurai was
around. "Far be it from one to interfere in someone else’s denial. Take
your time."

Renji was genuinely surprised that it was Mizuki who stepped forward and fixed
Hatter with a sharp gaze. "Please don’t think I don’t appreciate the
artistry of your goading," Mizuki drawled, "but is it not the case
that celestials, just as much as humans, can choose their own paths whether
for good or evil?"

Hatter laid a slim hand over her eyes. "Oh, tell one you’re not thinking
that we could only have Fallen through free will because God isn’t enough
of a bastard to have doomed a third of His own angels to that fate?"

"Oh, hardly," Mizuki assured her with wide, ingenuous eyes. "According
to Raphael-san, He was exactly that much of a bastard."

Hatter took her hand away and tipped her head. "You’ve done your research.
An advance on most demons. One doesn’t suppose…" She trailed off,

Tsuzuki looked indignant, while his friend looked suddenly thoughtful. The
younger one must be rather territorial, Renji decided. Both Akazawa and Yuuta
looked distinctly unsurprised.

"Thank you, but I think not," Mizuki replied, charmingly regretful.
He was clearly enjoying himself, and Renji was starting to be amused. Then
the dark eyes narrowed. "The point is that, while you may entertain
yourself by implying otherwise, Tsuzuki-san’s nature no more dictates his
actions than mine does."

Tsuzuki blinked. And relaxed. For someone as powerful as Hatter implied he
was, Renji mused, Tsuzuki didn’t seem to have put much thought into his own
strength or the presumed causes of it.

Given that, Renji wasn’t entirely surprised that it was Seiichi who answered
Mizuki. "Yes and no."

Hatter looked around, brow raised. "Seiichi, one hadn’t thought you enjoyed
these kind of games."

"I don’t," Seiichi said, dryly, laying a hand on Hatter’s shoulder,
"so hush for a moment, Belial."

Renji had to stifle a laugh. That casual command earned some stunned expressions
on the other side.

Seiichi took no notice, focused on Tsuzuki as if they were the only two present.
"Having a nature beyond the ordinary doesn’t make for an easy life,"
he said. "But denying your nature won’t do you any service in the long
run. The only way to deal with it is to claim it, to declare it. And to fight
for it."

The words passed through the Rikkai team like a tangible thread, drawing them
together. The young man’s green eyes widened and he rocked back from them
as if he could see it happening. Tsuzuki shook his head, though.

"No," he whispered.

There was kindness in Seiichi’s gaze, but no mercy. "Then it will destroy
you, and likely those close to you."

Tsuzuki flinched, and his friend shook off his surprise and stepped in front
of him, eyes blazing. "Enough!" he bit out, slashing his hand down.
His mouth, Renji noted, was tight, as if with pain.

Tsuzuki started. "Hisoka," he said, hesitantly.

"Be quiet," Hisoka snapped at him, "I’m fine. You’re not."
He turned his glare back on Seiichi. "You will stop," he stated.

"Yes," Seiichi agreed after a long, considering moment. "You
should think about it though." He turned Hatter around with him and
gestured to the team. "Come."

"You let him go pretty easily," Genichirou observed, as they walked

"Mm." Seiichi glanced over. "Renji? What did you think of Hisoka?"

"I think he could tell what people were feeling," Renji said. "His
responses were too strong for someone just picking up on body language."
That, too, was an answer that might not have occurred to him a short time

Seiichi nodded. "He really wouldn’t have let me push any further. And
the seed is planted, now."

"For your second career, perhaps you should consider becoming a therapist,"
Hatter jibed, probably disgruntled that her fun had been cut short.

"If he’s going to come to us eventually," Seiichi returned, coolly,
"he should come well disposed and not insane, yes?"

Hatter’s stride hitched, and she looked at him with suddenly wide eyes. Renji
smiled. Every now and then Seiichi could still surprise Hatter by the unthinking
ease with which he acted in her support.

"So what, precisely, were they?" he asked, hoping to distract her.
Hatter liked it when Seiichi showed his cold streak, and left to her own
devices tended to express her appreciation in ways that caused bystanders
to stop and stare. It didn’t help, he reflected, that Seiichi encouraged
her if he was in a sharp enough mood.

Hatter eyed him sidelong, but consented to be distracted. "Shinigami.
You asked once," she added to Genichirou, "what usually happens
to human souls. Those two are part of the answer. Most souls pass through
either Uriel’s hands or Enma’s offices and go on, but some do stay to be

"They used to be human, then?" Yagyuu put in. "Well, mostly,"
he amended.

"Yes. Humans with strong spirits, of course, or they wouldn’t have their
current jobs." Hatter paused and looked thoughtful. "Seiichi,"
she said, slowly.

Seiichi raised his brows.

"How would you like to learn magic?" Hatter asked with a wicked smile.

Renji wasn’t the only one blinking at that.

"Um," Seiichi started.

Hatter waved a hand airily. "After Nationals, naturally."

A laugh ran through the team. "Naturally," Seiichi agreed, smiling
as they reached the court. "I’ll think about it."



Last Modified: May 07, 12
Posted: Jan 25, 05
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