Desmond doesn't know what to think as he trudges through the woods. He had traveled back to Hell along with Lucifer for details and advice, but now he is on his own. He knows he won't like doing this task, but what choice does he have really? Kill an innocent person or never get his soul back. Never live again. Never feel again. Desmond still can't believe his emotions aren't real. They feel real. How can you feel an emotion without having that emotion? That would be like feeling angry, but not being angry. Feeling happy but not really happy. To Desmond happy is happy, angry is angry, sad is sad.

But he does feel empty. He doesn't realize it, mostly because it's hard to remember every detail of emotion, but he knows there's something missing. Emotions fill your body, not just your mind when you feel them. When you feel regret, you feel it in your mind, in the tears streaking down your cheeks, in your clenched fists. When you feel happy, you feel it in your crinkled eyes, your brightened smile. You can feel it in your heart. You feel it. Desmond doesn't feel that. He knows what he wants to feel, but it's only in his mind. It makes him empty. Dethatched. Dead. No longer human. But he can't accept that fate. So he doesn't. He tells himself they're not just memories and ignores the empty feeling that has consumed him. He does have a conscience; he is not alone; he is not dead; he will feel remorse.

He doesn't shiver from the cold. He had changed from his shrunken pajamas into a suit, not his first choice but Lucifer had insisted that he wear it. It is not a suit of shadows, though it is dark. It consists of a stylish black blazer, a midnight blue shirt and a red tie, to add a little style to his look. Top it off with black dress pants and casual-but-classy shoes and you have a suit fit for reaping. His dark ginger hair and blue eyes make him seem friendly, which does add to the look. That was the slender man's plan. He wanted Desmond to be likable. Trustworthy. He wanted the boy to earn the trust of those he takes, wants them to arrive in Hell on their own accord. So far, he definitely looks the part.

The day had gone by quickly while the two colleagues were down in Hell. The sky had cleared in the late afternoon, exposing the sun for a few hours before it diapered under the horizon. Desmond had always loved the sun, and he loved the feeling of its rays on his skin. Unfortunately, it was long past dusk before Lucifer had let him go. Now he walks through the trees at midnight, nothing but the feeling of the bark to guide him. The moon isn't out, but through the cracks in the clouds he can see the tiny specks of stars, scattered across the sky. It doesn't satisfy Desmond, but it's enough for now.

He had been told not to throw her into the cave. Not yet anyway. There is a reason this girl is alive. There's a reason she wasn't thrown into the cave at a younger age like the others. Lucifer had explained the process to Desmond, telling him the body is thrown into the cave during innocence, but only reaped when the soul is corrupt. If left to his own devices, Desmond would have committed a crime against all ethics and morals at the moment his soul was taken from him. That's how it works. They wait until the child turns evil, and then they punish them. Desmond had tried to squeeze more information out of the man, but had come to no avail. He asked for the reason the girl was being kept alive, but Lucifer only said "Curiosity killed the cat." That was the end of that conversation.

So that is his task. To kill a girl, but not yet. To not poke into his master's business, because a cat wasn't careful. He doesn't like it, but he follows his orders. He doesn't want to end up back in the cold pit at the bottom of the cave.

The ginger boy trudges through the woods slowly, making it to the girl's house just as the sun is peaking over the horizon. He witnesses the brunette girl climb into her mother's car, pulling the sleeves on her coat over her palms in an attempt to keep her hands warm without gloves. Desmond still hasn't realized how cold it is, his attention focused in nothing but the girl as the car backs away.

So he waits. He waits in the dark of the woods behind the home that used to be his. He waits for the sun to move across the sky. He waits for the green-eyed girl to come home from a busy day at school. Desmond won't question his orders – he wouldn't dare – but he envies this girl's chance at life. He envies the fact that she grew up standing, not falling. He wonders how it would have been like to live on the surface of the Earth. The thought makes him sad – not truly sad, but close – so he stops. He brings his thoughts to another place.

Finally the girl arrives home. There is only an hour left of light left in the day, so she wastes no time running out into the woods to explore. She passes the ginger boy as she runs into the trees, but she doesn't see Desmond. He wonders if all children who live in this house are drawn into the woods. Probably. But he wasn't sent here to think.

So he follows.

Through the woods. Past large trees. Over roots and under low standing branches. He watches her, studies her. She finds the tree labeled with Crimson and the other with his name. He does enjoy himself, only because he has missed the dirt floor of the mysterious woods behind the house he used to call home. Despite the fact that Desmond would much rather linger along the familiar trees and walk along his preferred route, he continues to follow the nameless girl. He keeps a constant distance. He is just far enough back to be hidden from sight, but he can see the young brunette quite clearly.

He is almost silent. He knows how to be. Partly from experience after spending evenings treading quietly through the woods, partly because he is dead. He is death. Or a fraction of it. One key part of a larger, grander image of death. The ability to be quiet comes with the job, and the fact that he no longer needs to breathe. Traveling with speed is easier to him now, seeing as he no longer needs to maintain a steady breath. He knows where to step to not be heard as anything other than a rustle.

He is a predator, stalking his prey.

He finds her strangely beautiful. The way she can move through the woods almost as quietly as he does. She's had years of practice on her side, years that he had spent rotting in a cave. Her movements are fluid, almost like second nature – or perhaps it is. Compared to her path through the trees, Desmond seems clumsy, uncoordinated in his movements, though he is still silent nonetheless.

Or, almost silent.

Because she turns around. Desmond takes cover behind an old oak, holding the breath he doesn't use. She stands still for a moment, scanning woods slowly, purposefully. She doesn't know what she's looking for, but she knows it's not wildlife. She knows it's smart enough to hide. She just doesn't know what – or who – it is.

She eventually gives up on looking. She is cautious now, almost paranoid, looking over her shoulder every couple of seconds. Desmond can time his steps to be able to find a hiding spot just in time, but with every delay the girl gets farther and farther away. Eventually she disappears from sight. Completely. The memory of anger builds up within Desmond, mostly at himself for losing the girl in the woods. He knows these woods well, but apparently she knows them better.

He turns to leave, grumbling under his breath. He was supposed to keep an eye on her. Watch her. Keep track of her. But he turns to find someone waiting for him. With a flash of brown hair, green eyes and a thick purple coat, Desmond is sent backwards. He trips on an unearthed root. Falls onto his ass. He is helpless.

She is the predator.

He is her prey.