Chapter two

When a grim reaper weeps horribly out of a pouring emotion too much to handle, it can take over the entire body. Their desires can become so strong, it has been rumored that their tears contain a special property. Getting hands upon a reaper's tear is of the utmost rarity, and it was now ingrained in Undertaker's tabletop.

Extracting the tear was nearly impossible now, but Undertaker wondered if Grell had ever strived to take any task so far. All he could do now was reread the texts, which were not significant in number, about the reaper's tear. All these books were theory based, for no researcher has ever gotten so close to a situation in which the properties of the tear could be analyzed efficiently and systematically. This could very well be his best chance.

Daylight was positively bothersome, if there could be anything more annoying to a professional reaper. Sutcliff weaved his way through town until the pace just wasn't coming along fast enough. Getting to know rooftops was the best decision he'd made in reaper's school system.

Hearing nothing of the sounds from cars, passerby conversation, nor even the crying children in the early morning market, the red reaper couldn't bare to think of what he would find when he reached Undertaker's destination.

"You better not be dying on me William. I swear to the heavens above I won't let you."

C in ethics...that was about right, the way this reaper could kick in a door. However, there was no one in immediate sight. The flat was rather simple in taste, but the art on the wall definitely signaled that inside dwelled a fellow grim reaper. The carpets were black, the furniture mostly grey with dark brown fixtures. Very few photographs, but there were a lot of files on the desk in the corner.

There wasn't much Grell could hear over the sound of his own heart throbbing and the way his chest heaved with every breath. His pace had been near the speed of his personally modified death scythe running along its motor. Finally, he'd stopped for a moment to kick down the door and allowed the work to transfer to his cognitive senses.

"Will?" this was a desperate cry. "Where the hell are you?"

Outside the window, Undertaker sat peacefully in a tree, observing the situation with a few dog biscuits.

There was mumble from another room across from Grell's current position. Slowly, the reaper found himself walking towards the cross section, not knowing which way was the right way. It seemed so strange, just a moment ago he'd do anything to get here, and now that he was almost face to face with what was going on, Sutcliff didn't want to make any mistakes. Treading carefully, a sudden clicking reached his ear and within a split second, his death scythe had come up to save him. Grell had just turned the corner to find a figure writhing in a corner. A hedge clipper death scythe, undoubtedly William's. Grell's scythe had just cut off the end of Will's. Both of them remained frozen until Will's death scythe retracted.

"Sutcliff," his voice was raspy as he turned to spit into a basket alongside him. Green eyes stared, fixated upon the shadowed corner, just enough not to be able to see Will's face. A shiver flowed from the back of Grell's delicate neck to his lower back. Seeing someone like this was nearly worse than a murder. Even with the spectacles back upon his face, there was no better picture of the situation.

All he could bring himself to do was stare, speechless at what was going on before him. Will looked as though he were one of those dying victims in the streets, starving or dreadfully ill.

There were more heaving sounds, this time not from Grell. Clearly, the black reaper's illness was something most mortals would have died from already. With a sudden motion, Grell remembered the bottle in his pocket, pulling it out swiftly. He brought himself to move toward William.

"You need this," Grell said hastily, kneeling near him and offering the small bottle. "It's actually from the Undertaker."

Will's hand reached for the bottle, black as the carpet beneath them. Grell had been accustomed to his manager always wearing those silly gloves, but something wasn't right. This was intimate contact only flesh could provide.

"By God, what the Devil is happening to you?" Grell exclaimed, retracting his own hand. William wasn't wearing gloves. His chest heaved again and he once again retreated to the basket.

"Grell, leave," William ordered as he popped the cork from the bottle.

"No," the red reaper protested, watching as William took the draft. "Not until you tell me why your hand is as black as the cat I passed in the street and why you-"

"I said, leave!" Will's face emerged from the shadows, revealing a ghastly complexion that made even Grell wince at the sight. Still, his ground would be held, no matter what happened. Will's face was fraught with outbreaks of black and red and...whatever the purpleish stuff was resting between his cheekbone and neck. His hands were turning black and he was having trouble breathing...

"I don't want you to catch this."

"Will!" Grell exclaimed. "No! No, I'm not leaving! Not with you like this. I couldn't bare it!"

Silence issued as William bent over again, this time with another squint of agony ready to emerge from his throat.

"What's happening? What's wrong?" Grell was becoming overprotective at this point, but William wouldn't have it. As he reached out to touch his shoulder, William fought back.

"Can't you see? I'm dying, Sutcliff. There's nothing that can help me. Leave, now!"

Grell gasped, overcome with an emotional sediment that wouldn't go away. Will stopped moving for a few moments, letting his body go limp. He was too weak to fight, allowing himself to hit the floor out of exhaustion.

"Will!" Grell returned once again to the reaper's side, lifting the limp body to find that he was still breathing. "No! No no no no no no no no no..." The black was beginning to spread a little farther up his cheek to align with his eyes, and Grell could see the veins beginning to die. The breathing was shallow, and it seemed as though Spears was beginning to lose hope even in himself.

"William T. Spears..." Grell swallowed hard. "You, you are not dying. You are not at Death's door." There was no answer from the reaper.

"Please William, answer me! Anything, anything at all, I don't even care. Tell me you hate me, come on. Say something!" Sutcliff exclaimed, thinking this is what it must be like when humans describe agony.

Sutcliff kneeled on both legs this time, holding Will in both his arms, watching for a sign of improvement. The bottle was empty, why wasn't anything happening? His vision began to cloud as a reaction. He did not want to see Will like this, ever again.

The breathing got even slower, but Grell was too afraid for once in his life to flee and get help. He was afraid it would be too late and Will would die alone before another reaper would come and collect his soul.

"I'm not, I will not, I could not, I could never, Will!" he began to shake the body, leaning over it to whisper the last statements. "Don't make me do it, Will. Please. Don't make me collect your soul..."

"Oui! You, step aside!" there was a voice coming from behind them. Grell stood up, William in his arms, but all he saw was another reaper, instantly recognized by the man standing in the doorway.

Sutcliff sat on the bed, still keeping to William. He clutched the body so close to him, it was the last thing he would ever give up. Hiding behind his hair, Grell let the teardrops fall onto Will's face before laying him aside on the bedspread. Taking one last look, Grell wasn't giving up so easily.

The chainsaw was revved and ready.

"Move aside, I need his soul."

"Over my deadly body honey," Grell growled, grinding his teeth and beginning to find his deeper breaths again. The reaper was just trying to do his job, Grell understood that much, but this wasn't an easy matter for him to accept at the moment.

The two reapers went after one another, fighting for the soul collection.

"Ooo, this is getting good!" Undertaker exclaimed, leaning in to further examine the body of William T. Spears. The teardrops had hit the reaper's face and were now making their way to his mouth. Undertaker watched as all the energy Spears had left went to extending his tongue to hit the salty delight of both teardrops Sutcliff had provided. He swallowed while Undertaker was taking notes. William too believed the myth of a reaper's tears were his last hope.

The chainsaw revved and roared as Grell finally cornered the novice.

"Check your list again!" Sutcliff snapped, narrowing in and watching as the boy took out his book and opened to the page with Will's name on it, looking back up at Grell. "The list is strictly for mortal souls, here me? Mortals."

"So sorry, my mistake...but I don't understand," the reaper was looking up in confusion, showing Grell the book. "The space is blank now. Does that happen often?"

Grell snatched the book as the list moved up, a name removed from the list. Why was Will's name on the To Die list if he wasn't a mortal? That could only mean the disease would have to be strong enough to kill a reaper from the inside, removing mortality and the frozen heart, thus adding him to the list.

The red reaper slashed his opponent as a warning and threw him out of Will's apartment, slamming the door and locking it.

"Don't ever let me find you here again!" he screamed before shutting it.

He ran back into the room where Undertaker was leaning over Will.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Grell ran back to Will's side, noticing the infection upon his face was starting to fade. Undertaker smiled.

"Congratulations, Grell Sutcliff," Undertaker said. "You have allowed for me to finish my research. William will be fine by tomorrow afternoon."

"How do you know?"

Undertaker set a book down onto the bed.

"Like I said, I haven't dealt with this in at least 500 years. It isn't often you see a reaper contract the Plague, but it's even less often you find a cure for them. It was the only ingredient I was missing."

Undertaker disappeared into the broad daylight, probably back to his shop. Grell glanced at the book resting on the bed. The Reaper's Tear. He noted that William had begun to sleep soundly and the infection was wearing thinner and thinner. Sutcliff picked up the book and began to read the theory behind a reaper's emotion. This seemed to be something of a legend more so than a theory, but there had never been any experiments.

A reaper's tear of sincerity was of one of the rarest objects in the world. There was never any room for emotion, especially within the job. Reapers lived when everyone else around them died; it was an everyday occurrence, and they pay no mind. Everyone around them was a part of their work, but every now and then, there are some who just cannot stand to see one soul be departed. Most of the time, this fact may sting the heart, but it never amounts to a single tear.

There were folk stories about the reaper's tear containing miracle properties, and some of the stories even involve reversing death itself. This matter was a complex one, for if they could take a life, why couldn't they be allowed to restore one, if only a few times? William was technically frozen, as were all reapers, so contracting a disease was already highly unlikely. The heart was still beating and the body functioning, so it was definitely possible. But, the Plague? How had William come in contact with the Black Death?

More stories told of a reaper who saved a medical professional because of sheer worry the person would contract the disease, using the reaper's tears. There was no scientific proof of the effects a tear could have on the frozen heart and the body system of other reapers.

"Hold on a second, are you telling me that I-oh," Grell remembered Undertaker's departure just then, looking at the clock to see that it was already 7pm of that same day. The bounder had long gone.

Grell looked at William, noticing his color was starting to return. The veins were returning to life, completely restoring themselves. That lovely, ghostly pale color! After propping him up onto a pillow, Grell took out the basket's contents to see that it was pure black. Cringing, he dumped it out back, hoping never to have to see it again.

The book was placed onto the nightstand next to the bed, and Grell continued to stay with William. Had Undertaker now collected proof about the reaper's tear? They were, after all, Grell's tears up for experiment. Smirking, he took Will's spectacles from his face and set them aside, letting his own drop to hang around his neck.

"So this is why I haven't seen you in a month."