Chapter One: Two Years Earlier
Clearly. That's what this was about. Everything about this job was supposed to be about clarity, and for now, she could see a sharper vision.
"Congratulations," Pops said, watching her as she took her first glance in her new frames and handed him the recruit model. "You should be proud to have made it this far. You're partner wasn't so lucky it seems..."
The frames were golden and charcoal black, a gradient starting with the black and shaped perfectly to her ears and transformed into gold. A rather sharp look, and her florescent green eyes blinked for the first time.
"He was consumed with the regret and memory of the dying soul," she said. "I would never allow such to slide."
Pops nodded. "Don't fall down the rabbit hole."
"Ha ha," she said. "As if I've never heard that one before." Pops smirked and she walked out of the office to head to the dispatch association.
"Death scythe," she stated, approaching the window. The reaper gave her a strange look. Alan seemed to be working the counter for a while, due to a strange condition he'd developed on a collection one night.
"What? You've never seen a girl before?" she snapped. Alan snapped back into focus.
"I-I just didn't think you'd have...this model," he quivered. She remained silent. She was handed her death scythe, a double bladed classical grim reaper's scythe. Alan apologized for his stereotype, not meaning any offense to her.
In return she extended her greeting and apologized for her temper before walking into the office of William T. Spears. She wore a black dress which she'd cut at the bottom into a ragged style so she could move much easier about the town and her boots were two inches high to match. Around her neck lay a chain with a bottle attached to it, but it held nothing inside.
With only one book in her hand, she knocked on the door and was permitted to enter. Spears sat ever diligently at his desk, looking over paperwork and writing things down. He didn't even look up at her for a few moments, flipping a few pages over.
She cleared her throat.
"Mr. Spears," she stated.
"One moment," he replied, finishing a document and signing it. She waited until he finished, and finally he took the time to look at her.
"Ah, Alice," he said, opening a desk drawer and handing her a book with markers in it, instructing her that inside were the souls she was scheduled to collect. As a first time collection, her amounts were smaller than the usual amount to be sure she could warm up to the job.
Taking the book and clasping it into her left hand, Alice was on her way out.
"Classical death scythe model, addition double blade," Spears stated, making her stop at the entryway, but she didn't look back. He adjusted his glasses and looked back up at her.
"I haven't seen one of those since the model came out. Interesting choice."
Alice walked out, not saying anything about her choice of death scythe. She was eager to start collection, and she walked herself out to the streets of London, where she passed many reapers, just waiting it seemed to poke fun at her name.
Of course, she ignored the name-calling and the Carroll jokes, as she'd done throughout school, but she found reaper Knox particularly enjoyed messing with her. As long as he didn't interfere with her soul collection, she paid him no mind. As the first night droned on, Alice collected her souls, finding that the first night wasn't at all what she expected.
A few other reapers were willing to talk between souls, but the collection itself wasn't what she suspected. Luckily, to her it seemed easier than the final exam, perhaps because her partner really wasn't qualified for such a task. She'd managed to pass the exam after multiple complaints about the jr. reaper had been filed from others. A couple of friends backed her up, and the board proceeded to allow her to collect the soul on her own. She succeeded, was given the proper title and moved into dispatch.
There was nothing that phased her about the job and watching the living around her, but it did bother her when others, particularly men, treated her as a lesser, or felt that she needed help. Ronald Knox was definitely taking well to the fact that there was a girl in dispatch, besides Grell Sutcliff of course.
Alice hadn't gotten to talk to Grell since she'd first started, but according to nearly everyone, he was a complete floozy, forever having his eyes set on three immortals: some demon named Sebastian, the infamous Undertaker, and William T. Spears.
Upon the closing of the night and the end of her shift, Alice reported to William, only to find the red reaper emerging from his office.
"Alice, isn't it?" he asked, looking her straight in the eyes.
"Yes. Grell Sutcliff," she replied. "Nice to formally meet you."
"Be careful honey, Will's in a bit of a mood," he said, scanning her body and her death scythe. "My my, aren't you a classy one with a twist of sauce."
"Thanks," Alice replied. "...I think." Grell passed her, wishing her farewell. Alice took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
She did so, setting down her textbook and pushing up her glasses with her thumb and index finger on the right side of her face.
"Death scythe," he said. She set it on the desk in front of him, causing him to look up at her in somewhat of a surprise. As Alice glanced at the other scythes, she found the reason for his surprise. It was Thursday, so all death scythes were taken to be cleaned at the end of the night for a thorough job. Alice could see now why he might be surprised.
"..." Will seemingly didn't have much to say.
"My apologies, I'd forgotten it was Thursday, else I wouldn't have-" she started.
"You maintain your death scythe with the utmost care and responsibility. You may wait until next week," Will said, unsheathing it to analyze her work before setting it back down. "Take it."
Alice took the scythe from the desk. "Thank you." Their eyes met for a few moments until Alice looked away, bidding him good night. The manager cleared his throat.
"Yes, good night Alice," he replied as she punched out.
"Heeeeyy," Knox met her in the hallway. "Party downtown tonight, wanna come?"
"No thank you," Alice replied. Knox cut off her path.
"Aw come on, make a few friends," Knox replied. "You can leave whenever you want."
In her peripheral vision, she saw William walk out of his office and Grell was running passed them both. Knox shouted out to Grell.
"Sutcliff-senpai. Coming to the party?"
"Oh you know it, darling," he winked back at Knox. "I'll just be a few minutes."
Alice took that opportunity to run away from the blonde reaper, and he didn't chase after her, thank goodness. Returning to her residence and setting her death scythe aside, she put herself to bed, knowing that tomorrow might hold the same as today had. Alice slept for a long time, and knowing this, the earlier she slept, the better off she was.