Facing the Music

Sanada’s and Yanagi’s reactions to the whole story about Belial. Drama with Angst, I-3

Saying that Genichirou and Renji were not happy simply did not address the
magnitude of their feelings on the subject.

Seiichi found that he couldn’t really blame them; his own feelings upon seeing
Mad Hatter’s hunger for Niou were comparable enough that chiding them would
have made him a hypocrite.

“What’s in it for him?” Genichirou demanded, after his explanation,
in simple terms, of the nature of his deal with Mad Hatter.

“That,” Seiichi said, coolly, with the weight of his team’s
eyes upon him, “is a private matter between me and Hatter-san.”

His team allowed the matter to drop, for the time being, but Genichirou and
Renji fell in at his side as he locked the clubhouse after practice. They
followed him home, making small talk about the club and the team’s
preparations for Nationals, and lingered in the kitchen to make small talk
with his mother while she prepared a tray of snacks for them before Seiichi
led them upstairs to his room.

Seiichi took the bed, Renji chose his normal seat at Seiichi’s desk,
and Genichirou paced back and forth. The pacing lasted for some time before
Genichirou whirled, crossing his arms and glaring at Seiichi. “Were
you going to at least tell us?”

“If the need arose,” Seiichi said calmly, sipping his tea. “Which
it did, today.”

That set Genichirou to pacing again, while Renji took a cake and asked, “A
deal with the devil?”

“Not the devil,” Seiichi corrected him. “Hatter-san is a
lieutenant of the devil’s, if I understand correctly.”

“And what does the devil’s lieutenant want with a junior high
student’s soul?” Renji asked.

“I haven’t asked. Hatter-san is not the type to give away unnecessary

“And knowing what he wants with your soul isn’t necessary information,
Seiichi?” Genichirou was verging on an explosion.

“Not particularly,” Seiichi said. “When you’re not
certain whether your body is going to be able to draw its next breath, and
you can’t lift your hand to scratch your nose, and the tennis courts
seem so far away that they might as well be on another planet, you find that
the concept of hell loses a great deal of its terror.”

Genichirou stopped mid-stride, and when Renji spoke, he sounded stricken.
“It was that bad?”

“Worse,” Seiichi said.

Genichirou turned back to him. “I don’t like it,” he said.

“I’m not asking you to,” Seiichi said, “but it was
my choice to make, and I have no regrets.” He met Genichirou’s
gaze and held it.

Genichirou nodded, satisfied, or at least placated, before grabbing his bag
and leaving abruptly.

Seiichi laughed, soft and wry. “He took that rather well, don’t
you think?”

“Well enough, although I suspect he’s heading off to disembowel
straw dummies,” Renji said, rubbing his forehead. “I don’t
suppose you’d care to tell me what the terms of your contract are?”

“That’s really a rather personal question, Renji,” Seiichi
told him.

“If you tell me, perhaps I can find a way around it,” Renji countered.

Seiichi blinked, and then smiled honestly for the first time since Mad Hatter
had revealed hirself to his team. “I doubt you’ll find one.”

“It’ll make me feel better to try,” Renji insisted.

“All right,” Seiichi relented. “I’ll see about getting
you a copy of the contract, such as it is.”

“Thank you.” Renji stood. “I need to be going. See you in
the morning?”

“Of course.” Seiichi stood as well, and saw him downstairs. After
Renji had put on his shoes, he said, “Thank you.”

Renji looked back at him, and smiled. “You’re welcome,”
he said, and left.

Last Modified: May 15, 12
Posted: Jan 05, 05
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