Volume Two

Hisoka and the hungover Tsuzuki are assigned to the case of a girl, Hisae, a dance instructor who was supposed to have died three months earlier. Since all of her relatives are already dead, they wonder what's keeping her in the world of the living. Their plan is to pose as friends of her recently deceased brother to get close enough to find out what's happening. Tsuzuki walks in on a fight between her and her dance partner, who has just said (apparently coerced by another student) that he's quitting. When Tsuzuki speaks up, at first Hisae mistakes him for her brother, who has the same type of voice. She says she still doesn't feel as though he's dead.

As they have tea and chat, she checks out his figure and suddenly invites him to dance. He winds up becoming her dance partner for a competition coming in two weeks. (Her brother's dog takes a liking to him, too. Animals love Tsuzuki.) Hisoka introduces himself as Tsuzuki's younger brother, and she invites him to stay as well. She (not to mention Hisoka) is surprised by how well Tsuzuki can dance, so he explains his older sister pounded it into him long ago. She expects they'll win easily, but Tsuzuki says it's hopeless as long as she views her partner as a mere tool. Kachou calls him up and chews him out for delaying the investigation to dance with a pretty woman, warning him he'd better get his job done and not go harboring any feelings for her.

Tsuzuki tries making spaghetti for them, but as much as he loves to eat (especially apple pie), he's a horrible cook. Hisae thinks about how different he is from her brother, yet how relaxed she is with the two of them there. One day, they enter the studio to find the mirror wall shattered. The former student shows up and claims the dead brother is responsible--that his spirit is seeking revenge because Hisae killed him. Hisae collapses and has a vision of her brother when their mother died, promising he'll always be with her--then it turns bloody and adds, "Even if you killed me."

When she comes to, she explains that her brother had always taken care of her. She was hospitalized for an illness and he visited her every day. It was on one of those trips that he was killed in a car accident. She left the hospital, though she wasn't fully recovered, and took up continuing the dance school in an attempt to fulfill her brother's dream. She's determined to stick to it until she wins the competition, despite her body's condition. Hisoka thinks they should simply take her and be done with it as Kachou suggested, particularly before Tsuzuki gets too attached to her.

Tsuzuki discovers that she practices dancing past midnight, even though her body's getting worse. The day before the competition, someone breaks in and ruins the studio, including the costumes they were going to wear. Tsuzuki insists it's not a ghost--a ghost would have made as much noise as possible, but a human would have to do it quietly to avoid being caught. Then they hear a noise from Hisae's brother's room and follow it to find a box with a dress he had left as a birthday present for her. At first they think the dog made the noise, but then they see the brother's image bow to them in the mirror and disappear.

Hisae hears there was no one named Tsuzuki at her brother's college, so she confronts him and he reveals the truth. They only appear to be normal humans because they're exercising power to do so; usually only people with high reikan can see them. He says he's helping her because a long time ago there was someone very special to him, someone that was part of his soul, and he could only watch helplessly as that person died. Seeing her struggling to fight after losing her brother, not running from the pain, made him want to give her a chance. She doesn't know why, since he's come to kill her, but she's not scared of him.

At the competition, Hisoka accuses the former student of being the one to do all the damage to the studio. The student had been in love with the brother, but he never paid attention to her because he was always caring for his sister. Before Hisae's time to compete, her legs cramp up and Tsuzuki says she's at the very limit of her endurance. Tsuzuki dashes off to the mansion of the Earl, a figure separate from the place the shinigami work, who has power over human life and death. The Earl is in lust with Tsuzuki, so he agrees to extend Hisae's life in exchange for...favors. (Tsuzuki never *pays* his favors, so he runs up quite a tab.)

Hisoka is a little depressed because Tsuzuki had told him he only felt respect for Hisae, nothing deeper, and Hisoka knows he was lying. For her part, Hisae feels like she's betraying her brother for thinking about someone else, but she's finally realized that a partner isn't just a tool. After the dance, she leans against Tsuzuki's shoulder and asks if she can rest for a while, she's really tired. He smiles and tells her it's all right, he'll wake her later, and wishes her good night as she closes her eyes and dies.

* * *

A violinist named Minase is released from the hospital after a successful cornea transplant. He asks if he can offer his thanks to the relatives of Tatsuya, the donor, and the doctor says that he had a daughter named Kazusa. When Minase goes to visit her, he hears that two others had just been to see her about her father's death. The girl says that her father used to play violin, too, and she'd love to hear him play. After the visit, however, Minase can't help feeling guilty her father died, as if he were responsible.

There's tension at Minase's private high school between the rich kids and those who are there because of their talent. Minase is assigned a violin solo, which the rich kids don't like. His eye begins taking on a catlike slit-pupil appearance, though he doesn't notice. There's a fire at the school that burns all the students' violins, but he can't prove who set it. Depressed, he goes to see Kazusa again, and she gives him her father's violin.

He spots Tsuzuki following and watching him, but no one else can see him. Then he notices Hisoka, whose face is practically identical to his, though the hair color is different. It turns out they were following the violin, which is cursed. Tsuzuki poses as the school doctor. Minase tries to play the violin, and he goes into a frenzy, continuing to play even after one of the strings snaps. The other students jump to the conclusion he's possessed by a demon and several girls go running to the doctor about it. The song he was playing was called "The Demon's Trill," a difficult piece said to have been composed by a man who sold his soul to a demon. When even Kazusa grows afraid of him, Minase decides to commit suicide.

Tsuzuki and Hisoka bring him to Enma-chou and tell him who they are. They say the violin is cursed such that it allows the owner to play beautiful music, but then it drives him to kill himself. But Minase's involvement doesn't end there. The shinigami had managed to get their hands on Tatsuya's diary, in which he describes meeting a demon in a dream and making a contract with it to become a violinist in exchange for whatever was most important to him. The demon inscribed the contract on his left cornea--which was donated to Minase after Tatsuya died in an accident. They examine Minase's eye and find that the demon is supposed to get Kazusa after fulfilling the contract. They don't know why the demon wants her, but it can't collect until Minase is dead.

The shinigami set themselves to the task of identifying and nullifying the demon that made the contract. Tsuzuki promises to protect Minase, but Hisoka refuses, saying he won't make a promise he doesn't know if he can keep. Minase wonders why two people with such completely opposite personalities agreed to be partners. (Tsuzuki-"He fell in love with my passionate technique." Hisoka bops him over the head.)

A stray dog shows up and Minase takes it in for the night. The demon appears to him and tells him not to give up the violin, it's already a part of him. Playing it is like an addiction. Gushoushin finally figures out that the demon is Brigade Leader Sargatanis. He wants Kazusa because she has the power to see a demon's true form, and he doesn't want her falling into the hands of Enma-chou. Sargatanis usually takes on the shape of a large black dog.

Minase goes to Kazusa and asks her to come with him for her own safety, even if she hates him. She says she doesn't hate him, the reason she was scared on his last visit was that something was behind him. Tsuzuki shows up to warn him about the dog. They decide to burn the violin, hoping that will make Sargatanis come in person--though they have to restrain Minase to do it. When the demon starts attacking, Tsuzuki summons Byakko to fight it. During the battle, Sargatanis bites Tsuzuki's shoulder.

As soon as the demon disappears, the scientist Watari strips off Tsuzuki's shirt and searches for a parasite that might have been left behind. If the bite leaves a demon mark, Tsuzuki could be possessed, but Watari figures there hadn't been enough time. Minase is concerned about Tsuzuki getting so injured on his behalf. Tsuzuki insists he's all right, but the moment he's apart from the others, the demon starts taking over him from the bite as a black X mark becomes visible.

While on a sightseeing trip, Minase relates what happened to Hisoka, who is concerned that he hadn't heard about the bite. At the school, Tsuzuki picks up a huge knife on the pretext that he'll be pruning a branch. When he gets back, Hisoka tests him for a change in personality (also using his empathic powers). Tsuzuki tries to regain control, but the demon is too strong. He returns from taking a bath and demands something in gratitude from Minase for protecting him from the demon. At Minase's agreement he says, "I'll take your body." Minase begins to struggle, so he pulls out the knife and hacks into him, then gouges out the eye with the contract.

Hisoka reports to Kachou about Tsuzuki's condition. Before they have a chance to act, Tsuzuki attacks their headquarters with both Suzaku and Byakko, ordering them to produce Kazusa, claiming the contract is fulfilled now that Minase is dead. At that moment Minase appears. The one Tsuzuki had injured was Hisoka in a wig--and a simple dismemberment isn't enough to kill a shinigami. Hisoka asks Kachou for permission to carry out a procedure to extract the demon from Tsuzuki, even though it's dangerous--otherwise the demon will manipulate Tsuzuki into hurting his friends, and he knows Tsuzuki wouldn't want that.

Tsuzuki begins breaking free of the binding Hisoka places on him. It snaps, the released energy backlashing. Furious, the demon makes Tsuzuki attack Hisoka, and the whole place collapses. He heads toward where he senses Kazusa. Watari traps him in a force field, then Hisoka shows up, vowing to save Tsuzuki. The demon taunts him, wondering what value he sees in a creature like Tsuzuki. He reveals that he read Tsuzuki's memories and knows about the night of crime from seventy-nine years before, just a taste of which brings the empath Hisoka to his knees.

In his mind, Tsuzuki is lost and panicked, begging for forgiveness yet being shown only hatred and revulsion. Then Minase appears in his nightmare telling him that he cares. He doesn't know what might have happened in the past, but Tsuzuki protected him, and he loves him for it. He asks Tsuzuki to come back, his words making a crack in the demon's control.

As Tsuzuki fights back against the demon in his mind, Hisoka's recast binding starts taking hold and draws Sargatanis out of his body. After the battle, the division administrators go to Enma for a decision about Tsuzuki's fate. Enma absolves Tsuzuki of responsibility for what happened while he was possessed. The two shikigami had finished off the demon once he emerged from Tsuzuki's body, which set Minase free of the contract. However, in the destruction Kazusa died protecting Minase from falling debris.

Tsuzuki feels guilty for what he had done. Minase tells him it's all right, that he should concentrate on living life for his own sake. Minase promises he'll get stronger himself, until the can play "The Demon's Trill" with his own ability. Tsuzuki is still all torn up over not being able to protect those he intends to, and Hisoka tells him he understands.

Tsuzuki's pay is docked for the foreseeable future until he can cover all the damage he did to the headquarters. Tsuzuki, Hisoka, and Kazusa go to watch Minase's school concert, where he plays the song perfectly, making it sound beautiful rather than frightening. He promises that all his music from then on will be dedicated to them.

End Volume 2

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