It wasn’t spring yet, but that didn’t mean Koichi couldn’t clean his apartment out. These urges didn’t wait for flowers to bloom and birds to sing. Sometimes, they happened in the dead of winter, when he was lying on his bed, too hot to sleep, too lazy to get up and mess with the thermostat. Sometimes these urges didn’t even wait for daylight. Sometimes they came directly in the middle of the night, and they just needed to be filled.
He didn’t live with anyone, so it didn’t really matter. It wouldn’t matter if he did, anyway. I mean, what would they do? Tell him to stop? He was the Angel of Death. If he wanted to scour his apartment to perfection in the middle of the night, no one would tell him otherwise. The only other person here was Seer, and she was his employee. She didn’t live here.
Koichi started with the place he always started, the source of the haunting thoughts and uncleanliness that defiled his apartment: his closet. In his closet there were pictures, trinkets, things he had picked up during his terribly long lifetime. Like that pair of shoes he bought in 1961, or that book of poetry he picked up in 1797.
He hadn’t gathered them thinking they would become smudged with memories and regret, but having something long enough led to that. He had just picked them up because they seemed useful or interesting. And they had been, some more than others. But now, they sat at the back of his closet, buried under memories and feelings Koichi hadn’t realized he’d kept: growing, nursing hurts, glaring at him from the dark, damp corners like little monsters.
It was time to clean out those corners. Koichi’s mind was getting too cluttered, and he was starting to feel the familiar panic that happened when it got cluttered. “Out of sight, out of mind” was his weapon, and it was time to brandish it anew.
Koichi stacked his row of dress shoes aside to reveal the toaster-sized box behind them. He took it out of the closet and settled onto the floor, starting to rifle through the polaroid pictures, ticket stubs, and various other pieces of junk Koichi had kept for some reason or another. Pictures of himself with other people, standing at a careful distance so he doesn’t accidentally brush against them with any exposed skin.
He made two piles: a keep pile, and a throw-away pile that was much larger. If he had learned anything over the centuries, it was that he keeping souvenirs was not only dangerously sentimental, but it was also impractical. If he added one new thing a year, he would bury himself. And he had kept more than one new thing a year.
With a quick glance at each picture, Koichi tossed them, one by one, onto the throw away pile. He hesitated on one. It wasn’t even a particularly important picture to him at the time, but somewhere along the line, it had developed a consciousness of its own, an aura of control and he couldn’t tear his eyes away.
It was a picture of himself and Seer at the debut of the first Host conference. He was dressed in a slim black suit with a bright blue tie, and Seer was in a silky white dress, her matching long white hair in a fishtail braid. She had his arm. Both of them were smiling, excited for what the future would hold.
Koichi moved to put it into the throw away pile, but he couldn’t get his hand to open. He retreated, looking at it again. He ran his ungloved hand along the picture, along her face, pretending he could do the same thing in real life without steep consequences because of his curse.
A sharp knock on the door. Koichi jumped and slipped the photograph underneath the box.
“Come in,” he said, his voice even with years of training.
The door opened to Seer, who was in her usual suit, but wearing her evening reading glasses. She was obviously doing one of her near-all-nighters taking care of the logistics of the conference. Her suit was crumpled and her white hair was frizzing, but otherwise she looked wide-awake.
“Sir, I saw your light come on, and I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong,” she explained, coming just inside the room.
Koichi got calmly to his feet, as straight and noble as if he wasn’t in his embroidered silk pajamas.
“Nothing is wrong, Seer,” he assured her, bare hands behind his back. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I might as well make use of the time.”
Seer glanced at the box and piles on the floor but said nothing about them. “Would you like any assistance?”
Koichi smiled thinly. “No, but thank you all the same. It seems you have your own nightly project to get back to.”
Seer nodded pensively. “Well, let me know if you need anything,” she said. “I’ll be up all night, probably.”
A/N: Sometimes reason fails and nature takes over; that innate, bloodthirsty, drive to clean and organize the life out of something. So vicious.
Countersink is a bit too short and linear for my taste, being mostly told through Louis’ point of view, with a few chapters from the perspectives of Summer and Seer. There aren’t any scenes from the antagonist’s point of view, which works in some stories, but it makes Countersink a little flat. So here’s some of what the big, bad Angel of Death has been up to.
Antagonist character development. Love it. (eeee)
Also, you landed on a new name! It fits well. 🙂
Thank you! Koichi needed some love.