March 3rd 1879
Grell Sutcliff was sitting alone on a beach, chewing his bottom lip in a childish sulk. Perhaps 'sulk' may have been too strong a word, as he had no recent events to really sulk about. Grieving didn't quite fit, either, as no one was dead and he hadn't been abandoned. Not completely. Despair might have worked, he thought with a dark laugh, although again, nothing really existed that he could despair on.
He paused, mid-thought, and the corner of his lips lifted up into a cruel smile.
It had been nearly a century since he had left the Academy.
Only just over a month was left before he'd celebrate his first century as a Shinigami, and yet all the thought brought him was a dull ache of disappointment and annoyance. He'd never seen or spoken to William since that day, when he had left the Academy whispering words so rare and bold that, looking back on it, he'd wondered if he'd said it too soon. Grell wondered if he should have said anything at all, or if he should have fought harder to get away from the Greek branch.
He had stayed at the branch, however, upset but not allowing it to affect him. He'd learnt that from William, and he now had the reputation of being overly happy and dramatic to cover up his true feelings. At times, he missed the dark haired Shinigami who had once been his lover, his best friend, and his partner. Other times, he hated the man for not keeping in contact. But try as he may, the hate never lasted long, as the case of keeping in touch had to be backed up by both sides, and Grell hadn't really done much to try and keep in contact either.
Drawing patterns in the sand, Grell brought his knees up to his chest and glanced across the ocean at the rising sun. Yellow rays of light streaked across the horizon, lighting up the morning sky. A warm breeze moved his hair from his face, sending it flying around his head in a halo of fire as he reflected on the past. The redhead could remember every touch like it were only days ago, could feel every shiver that was suppressed with caresses and William's warm breath tickling his ear; none of it would fade away when he sat on the beach.
He refused to let himself think he was waiting. The idea had been nice at first; to imagine William storming the branch and sweeping him off his feet had been a thought that had him blushing to his toes as he would sit at his desk and daydream. He refused to wait. Grell had flirted, but it had turned out to feel more like betrayal than self satisfaction.
That hadn't stopped him from doing it anyway.
Picking himself up off the floor slowly, Grell flung his scythe over his back it was now the chainsaw design he had asked for in the Academy and turned to enter the cave behind him. He retraced the steps he took every morning on the way to the workplace, his mind wrapped up in memories that he didn't want to keep reliving. One more month, and the century long wait for correspondence would pass.
One more month, and he had a chance of letting go.
Grell Sutcliff could deny many, many things. The only thing he couldn't deny was that his feelings were still as strong as they had been when he had left the Academy, kept alive by a hope of a letter in his box or the appearance of the Shinigami he wanted.
Scowling, Grell hopped up to the cave ledge that hid the entryway to the building of the Greek Branch. It was a unique building, made from glass and perfectly placed angular rocks, with many waterfall fountain features in the courtyard. The original Colossus of Rhodes stood to the left of the building, salvaged by the Shinigami thousands of years before; the original remains had been replaced with fakes to make sure no suspicion arose at the disappearance of the remains of the Ancient Wonder. It added to the aura of timelessness that the Greek Branch held, bright and sunny and simply there.
He himself thought the place was entirely too dull.
Grell gave his usual bright smile to his co-workers as he walked past them all, heading towards the fourth floor to find his desk cluttered with paperwork that needed to be finished.
Sighing heavily, Grell threw himself down into the chair and waited for a miracle.
- - -
April 17th 1879
He'd not gotten rid of the suit jacket.
The thought crossed his mind as he transported out of his home into the lobby of the London Branch that he had transferred to twenty-five years earlier. It hung on a hook on the back of his bedroom door, placed there when it was the first thing he had removed from his case, and hanging there for nearly a hundred years.
William paused in the lobby. Once the London bell tolled noon, it would have been exactly a hundred years since he had left the redhead and the Academy for the Northern England branch. The thought was disappointing, but mainly his entire fault. He'd gotten completely engrossed in his work once he'd arrived at his post in the Northern England branch, and by the time he'd realised exactly how much time had really passed, he'd changed too much to be bothered to set things right.
William T. Spears knew, without even having to think, that Grell Sutcliff would not like who he had become. He could only handle so much annoyance in a day before he'd snap, and when he did snap, he snapped with words. Many a co-worker and subordinate had left his offices nearly in tears from the sharp and cold words he would lash at them, with a polite and calm look on his face but an icy tone in his voice. The calm but sharp mix was adopted even when he was forced to greet new Shinigami to his division, and only the most recent recruit seemed unaffected by it.
Stepping to the side, William moved in time to see the newest Shinigami in question nearly trip as he ran towards him, and a hand lashed out to grip the back of the mans collar to hold him upright.
"Knox, what have I told you about running through the reception?" William asked, letting go of the blond and waiting for him to answer. The blond grinned, running a hand through his hair and revealing the darker hair underneath.
"Director said I had to run; you've got to go meet him in his office in five minutes." Ronald watched William carefully, waiting to see the darker haired man's reaction at such news. William's already narrowed eyes seemed to narrow further.
"Knox, if you or someone else in the department has given him cause to give us overtime-"
"Nah, relax! We've got fresh blood; Eric's going wild at the thought of someone to torment. Good thing, too, though; the girls over in General Affairs might take me seriously now I'm no longer the newbie." Ronald gave him another grin before he walked away, adjusting his glasses and soon disappearing from William's view.
Shaking his head at the blond and his constant pool of energy, William made his way through the building to the Director's office, absentmindedly thinking that Ronald would have gotten on very well with Grell; both had a penchant for occasionally annoying him and being unaffected by any insults he tried to send their way. He wondered if Grell himself had changed; had the redhead matured? Gotten worse?
William admitted to himself that he regretted not being able to know how the vibrant redhead was doing. But it was too late now; he was always far too busy to pen letters, and wasting the pigeons for personal reasons was against the rules he had set for himself and his workers. The redhead wouldn't know him now, anyway. William point blank refused to let his own emotions make him break from the cold, diligent and sharp reputation that he had built.
Slowly opening the door to the Director's office, William walked through the small waiting room and straight into the main part of his office. The man was standing up, a slip of parchment in his hands as he mumbled under his breath.
"You wished to see me?" At his words, the Director looked up at him and nodded.
"Yes; it's about that transfer applicant you accepted. We've sent his cases to your home, since you have required another Shinigami to lodge with you for while. He should be here soon." The Director frowned at William's brief look of confusion before his face changed to its uncaring mask.
"Transfer applicant? I wasn't aware I accepted one for my department."
"Well, Mr. Spears, you did. I believe the slip was signed last week?" William frowned, remembering back to the previous week. He silently cursed himself when he remembered something about a transfer. Ronald had broken his glasses by knocking them off his face, and as punishment he had made the blond sign all the paperwork for him until his glasses were fixed. The blond had mentioned something about an incoming transfer request, but William had ordered he simply 'sign it and be quiet' due to the migraine he had been developing. The matter had been left alone, but the blond must have followed the order.
"I apologise; it must have slipped my mind. Do I need to introduce myself to this Shinigami or has he simply transferred from another department in this branch?"
"Introduce yourself, Mr Spears. This man wanted to go to the Northern Branch; this was the closest he could get and, unfortunately, he claims to not know anyone here. Ah, I think this is him, outside. Go and give him a tour of the building, and I'll make sure your paperwork gets properly distributed." The director gave William a quick nod and ushered him out of the main part of his office.
Standing in the small waiting room, William smartened himself up, readjusting his tie and hair, and pushing his glasses up his nose. All thoughts of Grell left his mind, as they always did; he was simply too busy to think of his old friend. He had learned to ignore the dull ache that announced itself at the absence of the man, as to dwell on it would be foolish.
Leaving the office, however, brought that ache back tenfold when his eyes locked with those of the newest member of his division. His mind reeled back, shouting a single word through his brain: Impossible. His face didn't show his surprise, oh no, he remained as calm as ever on the outside despite the sudden uprooting of his thoughts. The feelings he had locked away fought against the mental bonds he had kept them trapped with, all because of the man in front of him. Quickly shutting them away, he merely kept his gaze strong and didn't break the stare.
Standing there in the waiting room, and looking equally as surprised as William felt, was Grell Sutcliff.