"Empire State of Mind"

Chapter Four

New Soul

"I swear to God, Kid! Were you shooting guns or were you doing interpretative dance?!"

"I was merely attempting to subdue the kishin egg—."

"You looked like an idiot! Even the kishin egg was staring at you like you were a drunken moose playing DDR!" Liz tossed her bag onto the couch, planting her hands firmly on her hips. A kishin egg had broken onto the campus of the private academy she and her sister attended alongside Kid, leading to a horrific all-nighter in which they had stalked the creature through the halls of the school in a perfectly-symmetrical manner. "Not to mention it was all dark and freaky in there! That was horrible!"

"That was so cool!" Patti giggled, running into the family room with a bowl of lucky charms. "Kid we were awesome! You were flyin' around like: PSHEW! And then we were all flippy like: PEW! PEW! PEW! And we totally got him!"

"I agree." Kid nodded, stifling a yawn with the back of his head. "But right now I need to get to bed. Would you wake me up around noon?"

"Sure, whatever." Liz scowled, trudging towards the kitchen, muttering darkly as she heard Patti start the TV to watch her Saturday morning cartoons. "I wasted a perfectly good Friday night playing Ghost Hunt at school… I'm going to bed right after this, I'm starved."

Liz opened the fridge, eying the strange Japanese foods that occupied the majority of the shelves before she reached around a tub of what Kid had said was bean-paste-stuff to grab a yogurt, snatching a spoon out of a drawer. Back in the sitting room, Patti was perched in front of the television, already giggling madly at the antics of a yellow sponge. Liz fell onto the sectioned couch gracelessly, ripping open the top of her yogurt.

"You going to bed after breakfast, Patti?" She asked.

"Nope." Her little sister replied. "Not tired. I'll go to bed tonight."

"Okay." Liz shrugged, knowing that she'd probably pass out by three in the afternoon regardless of what she said.

There was suddenly a crash from the kitchen, causing Liz to bolt upright as her Brooklyn instincts took over for a split second before realizing that she was in no danger. It was most likely the cook starting up lunch or something—

She was quickly proven wrong as she heard a familiar chant of "Ow ow ow ow…" That could only come from one person. Lo and behold, he appeared in the sitting room moments later in an oversized hoodie and sweatpants clutching a poptart, looking for all the world lost in his own home.

"Morning." Shinigami-sama mumbled, wiping sleep out of his eyes. Patti stared up at him with a little smile as he glanced at the television and promptly crossed the room, falling down backwards onto the couch. He blinked at the ceiling several times before glancing at Liz. "Were you kids out all night?"

"Yeah, uhm—a kishin egg got onto campus at St. Amo's, so we stayed there all night hunting it—we got it, though!" She told him, expecting some sort of lecture. But to her surprise, he merely held up a single thumb.

"Cool beans. Did Kid go to sleep?" He asked.

"Yeah, he wants to be woken up at noon." She replied. "Is today your day off, sir?"

"Don't call me that at hooooome." Shinigami-sama moaned, covering his eyes with the poptart. "I get enough of that 'Sir' and 'sama' and 'Lord Death' stuff at Shibusen. It's my day off, I wanna be called—." He paused to yawn. "By my name. And it's way too early to be up. Sleeping in until noon sounds so goooood." He added sleepily.

"It's not really that early—." Liz began, glancing towards the reaper, only to find that (quite ironically) he already appeared to be dead to the world. For a long while, she sat there, ignoring the sound of Patti's cartoons and the younger girl's periodic cackles, and just took in the form of the Shinigami-sama.

It was strange how similar he looked to Kid, and yet so vastly different at the same time. It was clear to see that they were father and son, with pale skin, striped black hair, and a slender, lithe build. They were even similar in small ways that Liz hadn't noticed throughout her two-month stay at the Ryoji estate: long, dark lashes and oddly smooth and boyish skin on their faces. But it was his angular jaw line and height that set him apart from his round-faced and petite son—not to mention the stark contrast of their personalities. But lying there asleep, however, Liz half-expected him to bolt awake ad start barking to her and Patti about symmetry. Her mouth quirked into a smile at the ridiculous thought.

There was also something… approachable about The Grim Reaper as he slept. Relaxed and open there on the white couch, he could have been easily mistaken for a human. He stirred in his sleep, turning onto his side and burying his face in the crook of his arm. Liz's smile faded as he continued to stare. Despite his supposed Godhood, he really was mortal, wasn't he? Kid had said his mother and grandfather had died, and she assumed his grandmother as well—didn't that mean that Lord Death as well as his son were both able to be killed?

It really made both of them seem much more human.

Kid ran a hand through his hair. It was well past three and he was still no closer to falling asleep. Through his open window, cicadas buzzed with obnoxious intensity. The heat was driving him absolutely insane, even in the dead of night. The weather report had said that the next few days were going to be some of the record hottest in Death City in the past twenty years, and with his air conditioner broken, he was going to have to suffer until midday without cool air. He silently considered reorganizing his room or taking out an old issue of Guns and Ammo, but he felt nearly paralyzed under the dry heat and sufficed for crawling out of his bed and shutting the window.

Suddenly, there was a muffled thump from downstairs, and Kid poked his head into the narrow stairwell that lead from his room to Liz and Patti's. As par usual, Liz had left the door closed, and he could no longer hear the noise from before. Quietly, he started down the stairs, pushing the door open gently. Liz was curled up on top of her sheets, her hair twisted into a bun at the top of her head. However, Patti's bed strewed with plushies was oddly empty.

'Did she go to the bathroom?' Kid thought, crossing the room to the doorway before pausing, golden eyes locked on the pink and blue bed sheets. 'Her pillowcase is missing…'

He pushed the door open, surprised to hear soft sobbing from down the hall and the sound of running water. Eyes narrowed in concern, he crossed over to the open door, pausing when he heard a very gentle exchange.

"Its okay, Patti. You don't have to cry."

"I'm sorry," Patti hiccupped between her gentle cries. "I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to..."

"Hey, it's not an 'I'm sorry' situation, its okay." His father said softly. "Kid used to get nosebleeds all the time when he was little. These things happen when it's really dry and hot out."

"B-but I ruined it!" Cried Patti as Kid leaned against the wall, peeking into the bathroom. His father was crouched over the sink, running cold water over the stained pillowcase. Patti was curled up on the toilet seat, holding a washcloth up to her nose. Her entire body was racked with tremulous sobs as she rocked back and forth, apologizing again and again. "I'm so sorry! I'm really, really sorry!"

"Its okay, its okay." His father assured her, holding up the soaked pillowcase. "See? Most of it came out really easy! I'll put this down the laundry chute and Jenny will have the rest of the stains gone in the morning, okay?"

He raised his hand towards her and suddenly Patti clapped her hands and the bloody cloth on top of her head, flinching away. "Don't hit me!" She sobbed, shaking violently. "Please don't hit me!"

The reaper gently retracted his hand and knelt to Patti's level, gently placing his hand on her knee. "I'm not going to hit you, Patricia. No one's going to hit you. I'm not mad at all."

She sniffled, slowly blinking open her tearstained eyes. "B-but… when I was little and I messed up, I always got hit by my daddy. He said I deserved it. I deserve to be hit for wrecking your nice things, Mr. Shinygami, you gave me an' my sissy a place to stay and nice things and all I ever do is mess everything up—."

She was cut off as the shinigami embraced her, tucking her head into his shoulder and gently stroking the back of her hair. "No one's going to hit you anymore, Patti. No one. I won't ever let that happen. You're safe here, you understand?"

Patti nodded, still sobbing as she wrapped her hands around him, burying even deeper into his shoulder. "O-okay. Okay. Thank you so much, you're the nicest person I ever met. I really love you and Kid, Mr. Shinygami. You two have always been the nicest to Lizzy and I, even after we did all those bad things."

Kid smiled softly, feeling the heat rush to his cheeks as he considered Patti's words. He'd never heard someone other than his father tell him that they loved him, even if it was in a brotherly or sisterly manner.

"I love you too, Patti." Shinigami-sama said, kissing the crown of her head softly. "You and Liz are very sweet girls, and you're doing a lot of good things to make up for the bad things you did."

The blonde sniffled, pulling away as she wiped her nose with the back of her hand before she faced the tall man. "Mr. Shinigami… I think you're what a daddy is supposed to be: really nice and you don't ever hit me like my other daddy did. Can… will you be my new daddy?"

Kid could practically feel his father melting. "Of course, Patti." He nodded, pulling her into yet another hug. "Of course."

The younger shinigami smiled, backing away from the crack in the door; he was sure that Patti was going to be okay.

"Why is there never any normal people food in here?!" Liz asked no one in particular, glaring into the fridge where nothing but foreign foods occupied the shelves. She considered waiting until the cook returned to start preparing dinner, her stomach growled in protest of the thought and she sighed, picking up the tub of bean-paste-stuff marked MISO and spinning it in her hands. The back included a list of instructions that were, thankfully, in English.

"Tofu and green onions." She mumbled, pulling out a small white package and a wrapped stock of the onions. "Okay, this shouldn't be too hard to make, I just gotta boil water and dissolve this stuff in the rest."

Liz set to work, pulling out a chopping board to dice the tofu and onions while boiling a small pot of water next to the softly bubbling rice cooker the maid Anna had loaded earlier. Despite popping the tofu package and getting a great deal of milky water over the front of her, the process was relatively simple, and she found herself stirring the yellowish paste into a tiny bowl moments later, emptying the contents into the pot along with the tofu. Quickly going over the directions, Liz plucked up the onions and emptied them into the boiling soup, turning off the heat and feeling strangely proud of herself for completing—

"Shinigami chop!"

The blonde squeaked as she felt his hand come into contact with her head, spinning around to face a wide-eyed Shinigami-sama, his dark cloak low on his shoulders and mask tied to the side of his head.

"U-uh—sir!" Liz stammered, standing up straight. "I didn't know you were coming home for lunch today! I'm really sorry, was this specifically your food—?"

"What about the dashi stock?" He asked, golden eyes still as big as saucers.

"The—the what?" Blinked the teen, shaking her head slightly.

"The dashi stock!" He cried, dashing across the kitchen and ripping a small blue-green box from the cupboard. "You can't have miso soup without the dashi stock! It'll taste all wrong! Here, here!"

He flung the box onto the counter, snatching a spoon from a drawer and dipping it into the soup. "Taste a little—taste that!"

Liz stared up at the tall man, who stared back earnestly, holding the spoon out to her lips. Carefully, she pressed her lips to the side of the soup, blowing to cool it and then taking a small sip. "It tastes fine."

"Right, right, of course it does." He nodded, grabbing the box and removing a little packet. He shook it, and then emptied the contents into the miso soup, where it hissed and dissolved quickly. "But the dashi makes it taste so much more authentic! Here, here—taste it now!"

He jammed the spoon back into Liz's face and she blinked up at him incredulously before taking another taste of the soup. Her eyes widened a fraction. "Woah!"

"It really makes a difference, doesn't it?" He grinned, removing two bowls from one of the cupboards. "You mind if I have some?"

"Not at all." Liz shook her head as he dished them out into equal portions.

"You wanna learn to make onigiri next?" The shinigami beamed, gesturing excitedly towards the rice cooker steaming on the counter. "I told Anna to start up the cooker before I got home so I could make some for lunch."

"Sure." Liz nodded, watching him sip from the rim of the miso bowl and quickly doing the same. "I mean, if you have the time. I know you're always really busy."

"I can take time for onigiri." He said, staring at her in shock. "I can always take time for onigiri. But only if you promise to take me some at work sometimes."

"Okay." She agreed, watching him pop open the lid and empty the rice into a glass bowl to cool. "But, uhm—what're onigiri?"

"Riceballs." He replied, shedding his cloak and tossing it over the island nonchalantly. "We have a cloth around here? I needa pull back my hair—aha!" He triumphantly snatched a blue kerchief off the counter and flipping his hair upside down. "You grab one, too, okay? I don't want to look like a dork by myself. I already do that on a daily basis."

Liz giggled, picking up a cloth and flipping her hair upside down, just as the shinigami had done. "Like this?"

"Uh huh. You're really good at that! Sure you weren't a Japanese baker in another life?" He asked, grabbing an empty bowl and filling it with water. "Okay, I just need some sesame seasoning and nori—I think we have some of that teriyaki-seasoned kind left…" He crossed the kitchen again, returning with a plastic case of roasted seaweed strips and a shaker of black sesame seeds and salt. "Okay, so! First you need to get your hands wet so the rice doesn't stick, but not so much that it gets drenched." He explained, dipping his hands in the water bowl and shaking off the excess liquid. "Next you take a handful of rice and kinda squish it I your palm, and once you've done that, you can make it into a little ball." He demonstrated, beginning to mold it with his pointer finger and thumb. "And then you make it into a little triangle, like this. So nowwww—." He grabbed a piece of nori from the case, wrapping it around the bottom of the onigiri. "You just add a little shake of seasoning, and you're done. Here ya go!" He beamed, thrusting the riceball into Liz's face. She smiled and accepted it, taking a small bite.

"That's really good!" She exclaimed, taking another bite. "Where'd you learn to make these?"

The shinigami laughed as she finished off her riceball and began to work alongside him. "My mother. She taught me to make them when I was—God, I dunno, seven? So it was a good eight hundred years ago, then."

Liz gawked; Lord Death laughed awkwardly and tugged at the cloth upon his head sheepishly. "You think that's bad? I'm being gracious to myself. No idea how I've gone so long without going senile and forgetting all about my parents."

"Wow." Liz whispered, holding up the riceball for him to inspect. "Is this alright?"

"A little small, but a good start." He nodded, and then stopped, snorting to himself. "Aw, man. I need to stop watching The Office in my spare time, can't make those kinds of jokes in front of my kids…"

Liz coughed, noting the blatant 'that's what she said' joke looming beneath the conversation, and tried to steer it back in the original direction. "So, what was your mother like anyway?"

"Amazing." He grinned. "She was both a housewife and the lady of the house. One of those I'll-clean-my-own-kitchen-if-I-very-well-please-now-shoo-servants type of people. She taught me to write and read in both English and Japanese; and even though it may seem like I'm speaking through the nostalgia filter, she was very intelligent. Not to mention very pretty." He sighed, shaking his head. "She had these beautiful, kind silver eyes and was the very last shinigami to ever have them."

"But wait." Liz interrupted, wrapping the bottom of her onigiri with a sheet of nori. "I thought that reapers have golden eyes."

"North American ones." He explained. "There's a different eye color for each region: gold for north America, orange in south America, brown in Africa, violet in western Europe, green in eastern Europe, scarlet in southeast Asia, and blue-green in Oceana." The shinigami listed off before he scowled. "Black used to be central Asia, but that entire race was wiped out by the Kishin years and years ago."

"Woah." She whispered in awe. "So what about the stripes, then? Is that a north American thing, too?"

"No, it's a family thing." Explained Lord Death, tapping his head. "My father had them, and it looks like I gave them to Kid as well—they'll start connecting the older and more experienced he becomes.

"I see." The blonde nodded, resting her elbows on the counter. "So what happened to the silver-eyes anyway?"

"Well, originally the silver-eyed reapers occupied Japan and the other pacific island countries like Korea and Taiwan." The shinigami went on, shaking a healthy amount of seasoning onto his riceball. "The red-eyed reapers moved in from the mainland and they wanted the territory. Very few escaped and went on to live with other reapers. By some strange coincidence, my mother ended up in Europe and met my father there—the golden-eyed reapers originally held central Europe before they moved to America and took over that territory—time went by and she was eventually the last of her kind left. However, some sort of political scandal landed her in an undesirable position and she was killed; my father followed soon after in an attempt to avenge her."

"That's horrible." Liz stared at him in shock. "I'm so sorry…"

The shinigami shrugged, moving the now-empty bowls into the sink. "I do appreciate it. But it's not something I'll have a mental breakdown over if I talk about it; you can ask me whatever you'd like."

"What about Kid's mother? What was she like?"

Lord Death froze above the sink before releasing a deep sigh and gripping the edges. "Kid's mother?"

"Yeah. He—."

The door swung open and Kid himself stepped in, glancing from his father, to Liz, and then back. Shinigami-sama grinned and stood up straight. "Heya, Kid! I came home for lunch and I'm showing Liz how to make onigiri, you wanna help?"

"Ah…" Kid stepped backwards, looking down at the tiled floor. "No, I think I should get going. It's okay."

"Kid—!" His father began, but the younger reaper had stepped backwards out of the room. The man sighed again, rubbing his temples in exasperation. "There he goes again, it's like he's afraid of being in the same room as me. Sometimes, I think he actually resents me."

"Of course not!" Liz cried, gripping her hands into fists earnestly. "Kid idolizes you!"

"But to him he'll never be good enough unless he reaches a certain level." Shinigami-sama frowned, picking up a riceball and staring at it as if it held the secrets of the universe. "Not to mention the fact that I let my work all but consume me after his mother left us because..." His hand tightened around the onigiri as he trailed off. "I tried to erase every bit of her from our lives, thinking it would be easier on him… he was so small and I thought that—." He shook his head. "But I was an idiot. Still am. It never occurred to me that the biggest reminder of her existence would be Kid himself, and that's why I just separated myself from him and hid behind my work."

Liz was silent as she watched the pain cross over his usually jovial face. It was strange seeing those expressions, those reactions, hearing those words from a person who was usually so larger-than-in terms of insanity and goofiness. There really was a man hiding behind that mask.

"So Kid's a lot like his mom?" She finally asked, feeling an intense need to break the silence. "What was she like?"

The sharp expression suddenly left Shinigami-sama's face, leaving it blank as he leaned his elbows on the counter. "Delilah was the most beautiful, manipulative, intimidating, cut-throat succubus that I have ever met." His lips broke into a smile. "God I loved her."

"Ehe." Liz laughed, not bothering to question his reasoning. "So, uhm, what—?"

"What attracted me to her in the first place if she was such a cruel person?" He completed for her. "Honestly, her looks. I know it was shallow of me, but I had no idea of what kind of person she was when we met; and we met a long time ago. I didn't see her for a great while after that." He explained. "But I met her again in the late 1800's and I found myself more and more attracted to the enigma that would become my wife. She was almost like a puzzle, you see? Almost figured her out and BAM!" He smacked the counter, grinning. "She'd throw something new at you!"

"That does sound like Kid." Liz giggled, a drop of sweat rolling down the back of her head.

"She was phenomenally kind and protective—though she'd never let anyone see that side of her if she didn't want them to." Lord Death went on. "Also, Delilah was a complete perfectionist; there always had to be a place for everything and if stuff was left lying around or things didn't go according to her plan you sure as hell would feel her wrath. I think that's where Kid got it from."

"What did she look like?" Liz prodded, sipping from her cooled bowl of miso. The reaper sighed, turning to lean on the counter and Liz winced, realizing that she may have prodded the difficult subject too far.

"Small and gorgeous." He explained. "With long black, black hair and big, penetrating grey eyes. Kid definitely got her eye-shape and her stature—and there are all these little mannerisms he has, too. Sometimes it's like he is Delilah."

"Well," The blonde began softly. "I mean, even if he is part of her, he's part of you, too, right? Looking at him doesn't always have to be painful." The shinigami turned to face Liz, looking mildly surprised. "Every time I look at Patti I see our mom in her. How happy she always is, and the way she can be so damn scary at times." She shivered. "She has Mom's face and her eyes and everything—and Mom used to say that I looked like our dad and how I was a big 'fraidy-cat just like him. But, you know, she said that made her happy. Because even though he was gone, dad still lived on in me and that I was always going to be there to remind her of his love for her and all the good times we had together before he left. And for awhile after Mom died, I didn't even wanna look at Patti because it hurt so badly. But when I remembered what Mom had said about me, it didn't hurt as much."

When Liz finally looked up at Lord Death, he was smiling. He proceeded to reach out and ruffle the cloth in her hair, leaving a piece of rice in his wake. "I don't care what Kid says about you, I think you're alright."

The teenager giggled, picking out the rice before she sobered. "I really appreciate you sharing this with me: the cooking and the stories, I mean. It really means a lot."

"Anytime." He beamed, removing the cloth from his own hair. "I hate to dine and dash, but work waits. I'll definitely keep what you said in mind, Lizzy. Thank you."

"You're welcome." She nodded, picking up the bowls and beginning to load them into the dishwasher as he headed for the kitchen door, scooping up his black cloak. "And,"

He paused, glancing over his shoulder at her, "Hmn?"

"Thanks Dad." Liz blushed. The shinigami smiled warmly and nodded before he went on his way.

"Hey retard."

Patti turned on her heel towards the tall boy standing behind her. He glowered down at the freshmen with brown eyes.

"That's not nice." Patti scowled, adjusting her red backpack over her shoulders. "I'm not retarded."

He rolled his eyes, crossing his arms over his chest. "Whatever. Where's your sister?"

"She's back in the classroom." Replied the younger of the two; she shrugged away from him, frowning. There was definitely something icky about this guy and the way he acted.

"Which classroom is she in?" He asked impatiently. Patti nervously gripped the pleats of her plaid skirt, shrinking away from him, there were little warning lights going off in her head, and all she could see in the demeanor of this boy was the tall, intimidating form of her step father.

"I—I dunno." She lied; his eyes locked back onto her and he snarled softly, grabbing Patti harshly by her shoulder and giving her a fierce shove into a wall.

"Fucking little brat." He growled. "Just because you're one of Lord Death's son's little sluts doesn't give you the privilege to freaking lie to me. Now be the good little piece of street trash you are and tell me where your sister is."

Patti wavered on the spot, pinned by the boy's fierce glare. Her fingers twitched, aching to twist into the form of a barrel, but she was almost completely paralyzed. She should do something. She should cry for help. But nothing escaped her throat accept a tiny, horrified noise. The boy gave her another violent shove and she fell to the ground, cupping her cheek numbly as the upperclassmen stalked off.

She sat in silence on the floor for a good several minutes, mind reeling.

From down the hall came a ferocious slam and she was on her feet. Everything she heard came a second too late; everything she saw was too fast. It was just like those times when he'd come home drunk and amuse himself by smacking her and Liz around for awhile before—

Something awful uncoiled and gave a violent lurch in Patti's stomach as she came to a standstill before the classroom door, staring in at the form of her sister pinned against a wall by the side of her head.

'Turn your fingers into a barrel and shoot him, Liz.' Patti thought. 'Just like the old days when the guys in the alley used to try an' beat you up. You can take him. You really can.'

But Liz wasn't doing anything. Her hands were wrapped around his wrist, shaking as she tried to remove him. He snarled something lowly at her. Through the door it sounded like 'whore'. Patti took a step backwards. It was almost as if she weren't in the school at all. She was peeking through the crack in her door, watching their step father demand to know where thirteen-year-old Liz had been as he pushed her up against a wall time and time again. They didn't know they were guns, then. Completely helpless, completely trapped.

"—why my girlfriend thinks I fucking slept with you, you little skank!" There was a terrible noise as Liz was shoved up against the wall again. Patti could hear the boy's words clearly now. Why didn't Liz just turn into a gun? Just like in the old days.

"Are you making shit up about us?! What the fuck makes you think you have the right to do that?!"

No, not the old days. The days in-between where they could do whatever the hell they wanted to and get away with it. Patti was backing up on trembling legs. She couldn't go in there with her step father and risk getting hit. She couldn't turn into a gun this time, they'd get in trouble. That wasn't an option here in this nice school with all the nice things their new nice daddy had given them. She'd mess up again and have to go back. And then she'd get hurt. Liz knew and she was taking the beating for Patti.

Slow, tremulous steps soon became long strides as Patti tore down the hallway, cuffing violently at her eyes. He'd promised she'd never get hit again. Daddy would help Liz when she just couldn't. Someone, someone—

She crashed into him, chest heaving violently.

"Patti?" Kid asked; he sounded angry, but also concerned. "What's the matter? Why did you run into me—you just messed up my shirt! Where's Liz—?"

"HE'S HURTING HER!" Patti shrieked, gripping the front of his polo shirt in trembling fists. "HE'S FUCKING HURTING HER AND IT'S ALL MY FAULT!"

"What?!" Kid pushed away from the girl, attempting to unclench her fists from his shirt. "Patti, calm down! What's going on?"

"LIZ! IT'S LIZ! AND HE'S HITTING HER REAL HARD, JUST LIKE BACK THEN!" The younger of the two cried hysterically, collecting a few odd glances from the other handful of after-school stragglers. Kid gripped her shoulders tightly.

"Who's hitting Liz?" He asked, voice surprisingly steady.

"A boy! A boy came up to me and called me retarded and then he asked where Liz was an' I didn't tell him so he threw me into a wall, and—and—." She took a deep breath between sobs. "AND NOW HE'S HITTING HER! IT'S MY FAULT!"

Before she knew it, Kid was gone.

Patti whipped around, watching her meister sprint down the hall. Before she knew it, she was following him, running as fast as her still-shaking legs would carry her. By the time she arrived at the classroom, the door was open and Liz was curled up at the foot of the wall, holding the side of her head in pain. Patti's eyes twitched to Kid.

He was livid.

The younger Thompson sister had only seen Kid get this angry on the occasion of somebody messing up his symmetry—but never had she seen the reaper snarl and hold someone against the wall with such ferocity that they shook in fear. He had grabbed the upperclassmen by his collar and slammed him into the wall, and was now boring burning golden eyes into terrified brown ones. Patti stood in awe, watching the shocking reaction from her meister. She had no clue he could get so mad over another person.

"I—I promise, man! I won't touch her again!" The boy stammered. "I heard some shit, and—!"

"You think that makes it acceptable for you to assault her, you lowlife?!" Kid snarled, giving the boy a fierce shove into the wall. "May I remind you she is the future death scythe of the heir to deathood. It's a miracle she took mercy on you. Trust me; you'd be permanently scarred by the lesions from her 'bullets'."

He finally dropped the boy, who crumpled to the ground and stared up at the reaper in horror. "I'll be sure that you will be expelled and tried for battery, Mr. Zachariah. Now get out of my sight."

The upperclassmen tore off, his sneakers squeaking loudly against the linoleum floor as Kid turned towards his weapon, taking her gently by the shoulders. "What the hell were you thinking, Liz?!"

"I couldn't shoot him." She mumbled, refusing to meet his eyes. "I didn't want to get in trouble."

"It would've been in self-defense! I know you could've fought back, Liz! Easily!" Kid shook her softly, his eyes narrowed earnestly. Patti found herself lowering to Liz's height, still shaking softly with tears.

"I should've done something." The smaller blonde whispered. "I'm so sorry, Lizzy. I should've—."

"No." Her sister snapped. "The last thing I want is for you to get in trouble, too, Patti."

"No one would've gotten into trouble!" Their technician growled, helping Liz to her feet. "You're both idi—!" He stopped, seeing both Liz and Patti turn their tearstained eyes onto him. The shinigami sighed, taking each of his weapons' hands in his and turning towards the classroom door. "Let's get to the nurse's office. After that, I'm having a word with the Headmaster."

"'Phenomenally kind and protective', huh?" Liz said under her breath. Patti blinked large eyes up at her as Kid led them down the hallway.

"What was that?" He asked.

"Nothing." Liz smiled, tears sliding down her cheeks.

Author's Note: Heeeeey guys, sorry for the huge gap in-between updates. I've had this chapter written for awhile, but I was putting off proof-reading and posting it due to the fact that it was the last part of the story that I had pre-written before posting. Also, because of numerous projects from the Kuroshitsuji fandom that I've been obsessing over for awhile. Nope, no procrastination or laziness fitting into this equation. Not at all BD However, because of my dedication to current projects as well as graduation looming just more than a month away, I'm going to have to take a break on this story for awhile :c I'm sorry that you guys have to hold out so long!

Anywho, this is probably my favorite chapter thus far. I really, REALLY love Shinigami-sama and my favorite things to write usually include his patronly interactions with Liz and Patti as well as his struggle to connect with Kid, his biological son. Between you and me, a lot of my own dad's personality goes into writing for Shinigami-sama, which is why he's such a fun character for me to write :3

This chapter is dedicated to dragonnova, because she rocks my stripey socks!