Volume Seven

Tsuzuki notices that Hisoka has been looking pale recently, and he admits he's been having the dream about Muraki assaulting him. Tatsumi introduces them to their next case, concerning a series of ten murdered women. The one thing they all have in common is that a hank of hair has been cut off. Hisoka and Tsuzuki are assigned to go to Kyoto to help Watari. Tsuzuki asks why them specifically, and Watari confesses it's because they uncovered silver hair gripped in the hand of the latest victim.

Muraki is staying with a friend, Oriya, who runs a secret high-class brothel. He's not worried that the police have his hair; on the contrary, he left it as a sign to lure the one he wants. Tsuzuki is furious that Muraki's up to his tricks again and vows to do whatever he can to solve the case. Hisoka goes for a walk to think and stumbles across Muraki himself, who taunts him. The others come looking for him, and Muraki wants to go somewhere they can talk.

Two high school girls, Mariko and her friend, discuss that the college they plan to attend was on the news for cloning. It's rumored that they're working on illegal human cloning in an underground lab. Muraki takes Tsuzuki to his friend's house, but he refuses to answer questions about the murders, saying only that it was to bring Tsuzuki to him. Luckily for the hapless shinigami, Oriya comes bursting in to uphold the standards of his business. (Women, not men!) Tsuzuki swears he won't let Muraki get away with whatever he's planning. Muraki pulls out a photo labeled "1925" and murmurs that his grandfather's patient will soon return.

Mariko is asked to deliver a book to Professor Satomi at the college. She meets up with Muraki in front of the professor's door. She remembers that Satomi is the head of the cloning experiment and wonders if Muraki is involved. Muraki shows Satomi the picture, taken at his grandfather's hospital, where he worked on top secret projects for the government and military. The picture is of a patient who was locked up in the hospital without food, water, or sleep for eight years and yet continued to live. From the time he entered the hospital until he finally died, he didn't age. Muraki has been searching for him, for Tsuzuki, to grant his long-held dream.

In the afterlife, the Gushoushin brothers have been on strike ever since Tsuzuki trashed their library, so Tatsumi can't get them to act as a communication link to the human world the way they used to. Tsuzuki is pondering the time he had slit his wrist, when Hisoka finds him. He insists he's all right, but Hisoka yells at him for always butting into other people's business when he keeps his own troubles hidden. Tsuzuki admits he would rather be viewed as an unfair man than have the truth be known and be scorned by his friends. That hurts Hisoka, thinking that his partner doesn't trust him or value him enough to talk with him.

Watari appears and tells them he learned about Muraki working at the college known for cloning. When they arrive, Tsuzuki notices that Mariko's friend Maki can see them, but Watari shrugs it off--they're in spirit form, invisible to normal humans. Back at their lodging, Hisoka offers to tell Tsuzuki their fortune. He starts out by announcing their match is the absolute most horrible bad luck possible, but he continues by saying that covers everything that's happened to them so far, which means it can't get any worse. Tsuzuki realizes he's offering a promise and thanks him.

Mariko and Maki encounter the doctor on their way home. Muraki knows that seeing a shinigami is a sign that one is about to die, so he obliges by killing Maki. Tsuzuki comes upon the scene while out shopping and freezes at the sight of so much blood. It's all he can do to try to protect Mariko from the doctor's beasts. At the last moment, Tatsumi steps in and saves him. He can't forgive anyone who hurts Tsuzuki. He's a shadow-wielder, a talent so rare only he and his teacher possess it. Mariko regains consciousness in time to hear they're shinigami before the doctor retreats.

When Tsuzuki awakens in the hotel room Tatsumi reserved for him, he blames himself for the girl's death. Tatsumi silently vows to make Muraki pay for causing Tsuzuki to cry again. Hisoka thinks Tatsumi would be the best choice to stay and console Tsuzuki, having known him longer, but Tatsumi declares it's not a question of time. He gives in to Hisoka's request, but he expects the boy to do it himself the next time, because that will make Tsuzuki happiest.

Tatsumi forces Tsuzuki to go shopping and sightseeing with him for a day. (Tsuzuki stops protesting when he hears the places they're going to eat.) When they stop for tea that evening, he remembers when they had gone there before as partners, and he had been upset over having to kill a child. He wants to protect Mariko to avoid creating any more sad memories there, and Tatsumi agrees to help him.

Mariko returns to school, angry that the police didn't believe what she told them about her friend's death. The four shinigami enter the school, three as teachers and Hisoka as a student. Mariko is afraid they've followed her to kill her. All the girls go crazy over them, which makes them jealous of Mariko for "monopolizing" such lovely men when they notice one of the four is always with her. Mariko starts freaking at not only the blame for the murder of her friend but also the grudges of the other girls and being under constant watch by four people she thinks might kill her at any moment.

She finally yells at Tsuzuki how she feels, which makes him gloomy that trying to help her has made matters worse. He runs into Muraki, who invites him to a Noh performance. While he's out of the classroom, Professor Satomi comes by and picks up Mariko on the excuse that she has a phone call. Muraki threatens Tsuzuki that if he refuses, Mariko will die, and Hisoka corroborates that she's been taken.

At the performance, Muraki explains that he knows everything about the time Tsuzuki spent at his grandfather's hospital, mostly insane except for brief moments of clarity, staring at nothing with his inhuman violet eyes. When Muraki tested the tissue sample that had been preserved, the results showed genetic data that was unmistakably nonhuman. Sensing his partner's distress, Hisoka runs to help him.

In the afterlife, Kachou tells Enma the details of the case, particularly involving Muraki. Enma decides to wait and watch a little longer to see how far the doctor will go. He doesn't believe any creature such as a human can interfere with their plan. Hisoka catches up to the dazed Tsuzuki, whose mind is blank from shock. He tries to remember the last thing Muraki said to him, that he has a monster's blood. At the college, Satomi wants out of Muraki's scheme. He recognizes that the doctor is crazy, babbling about being able to commit any crime as much as he wants and then wash it away to be reborn.

Tsuzuki goes and gets drunk, finally confessing to Hisoka that he's not human. But if he's not human, he doesn't know what he is. He was always teased about his eyes as a child, called a monster by the other kids. He tries stabbing himself to make his eyes go away, and Hisoka reads his memories, his feeling of guilt simply from being alive. He knew he was different but he wanted to be with people, dreamed of being human.

Hisoka grabs him and proclaims that Tsuzuki *is* human, that he'll vouch for it. He's always been human. Hisoka urges him not to cry and hugs him. Even if everyone else abandons him, Hisoka will still be there at his side. They start walking back when they stumble upon Mariko. They take her back to Enma-chou, where Tsuzuki stays with her while she sleeps.

After everyone else leaves, a voice calls to her to awaken. Her body begins transforming, and the voice orders her to kill the one who made her suffer.

End Volume 7

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