He had not thought that taking in one little boy could affect him so much.
When he closed his eyes, he saw the child Ginji had once been, wide-eyed and in love with the world, who’d curled against him in fear of thunderstorms and giggled at his silly stories.
When he closed his eyes, he remembered the tiny scrap of a boy who’d trusted him so openly that first day, who’d followed him without question despite his own fear.
But when he opened them, he saw the pale cool face of Raitei, and mourned the loss of that happy child.
The first kill had not been beauty blooming out of necessity. He knew some people believed that, and it made him laugh.
He killed the first time because he’d been bored, and hours of reasoning with a fussy, nervous client had worn even his patience down. When the other man finally turned aggressive, he left himself wide open and died without a sound.
When it was over, he stood there and admired how the blood looked on the wall. It surprised him, how very easily the scalpel cut through muscle and bone.
The “J,” however–that had been an accident.
She remembers Yamato teaching her to breathe.
“In a way, it’s like being born all over again; you have to learn to do it properly”–those are his words, which she carries with her even today, two years later. Even in a roomful of poison gas, finding breathable air isn’t difficult.
In, out. In, out. The same, but still so different–and years later she still has some trouble maintaining it if she loses her calm.
Her professionalism is so important to her because otherwise, she inhales wrong and finds herself threatened with drowning in a sea of clean air.
Usually, he hears their voices in his head as a restless murmur. Except for Natsuhiko, they are content to sleep, and wait until there is a fight. If they speak, it is amongst themselves, somehow, and he is rarely involved.
Occasionally, though, they find something to pique their interest.
The feeling of shifting out, losing himself temporarily, is one he cannot get used to. He never has any warning–just a blur, a whisper, and his stomach dropping down to his ankles.
Unlike the others, he stays to watch, rather than sink into sleep and wait for his next turn.
She is a woman of the present, though her roots lie deep in the past.
When the boy first comes to her, terrified behind his bravado, she smiles and decides to play his foil.
She has no interest in being a mother, and her biological clock has long since ticked itself out. But she can be a friend, a cheerful tormentor, to this strange child that her old teacher has sent her.
Thus she prods, she plays, she needles him out of his sadness.
And when he disappears from her home without a word, she laughs and wishes him luck.
She knows all about ghosts, though she is not her mother. They whisper to her softly, all the echoes of her childhood condensed, hidden within art:
I am sitting at Mother’s feet and watching her paint a sunflower, golden and bright …
I am standing in the doorway as Mother opens herself to Renoir and weeps with his shared sorrow …
I am bringing Mother tea with lemon, because it has become winter and she will not leave her attic studio until this final painting is completed …
They follow her everywhere. She doesn’t mind–she’d be lonely without them.