A High Price
Tatsumi sat alone in his office, lights off, face pressed into the palms of his hands. It wouldn't go away, that image of Tsuzuki standing there broken and bloodied in the middle of the road, not noticing them until Hisoka had called out to him. What had Muraki done to him? How had he, En Mah Cho's Secretary of all people, fallen into such a simple trap, and endangered all of his friends. He had come to the conclusion that this was all his own fault. When the letter had been found addressed to Hisoka, written in the doctor's familiar, elaborate script, he had chosen against handing it over to the boy, and read it himself. Threats and subtle lures designed to bring the youngest Shinigami from Meifu. Tatsumi had arrogantly thought that Muraki would flee from him, and told no one about his expedition, even so far as to break the rules. Shinigami must always travel in pairs; it was the first thing any of them learned.
His arrival had been a surprise to the white clad man, but there had been none of the fear he was expecting, only a faint smirk that roused unfathomable anger in the Shadow Master. He had known at that moment that something was very wrong, and Muraki had confirmed his fears a second later, striding over with complete confidence as Tatsumi struggled to use his powers. Then blackness. The doctor had knocked him out, and he had awoken, restrained in a rickety little chair. Muraki was so strong. Tatsumi shuddered at thoughts of those powerful arms crushing Tsuzuki in a terrible embrace, the tears in those amethyst eyes that always provoked some heart- wrenching response in him. Tsuzuki was the innocent one, the purest and most fragile of them all, and he, Tatsumi, had been the cause of his undoing that evening, or to be more specific, Tatsumi's pride had.
He felt moisture upon his hands. When had he started to cry? Removing his glasses, he wiped impatiently at the tears and made an attempt at regaining his composure. If only Tsuzuki was awake! If only he could hear him forgive him. No, that was not good enough. He deserved to suffer for what he had caused, and that would require the man's condemnation, not forgiveness. Frustrating that he wanted both equally, and yet could not hear either while he slept.
Nothing else could have provoked such an emotional response from Tatsumi, nothing but this event, something he had tried so carefully to prevent in the past. Now his stern fašade and mask of calm had fallen, and there was no way of gluing the pieces back together. Narrowed, cobalt blue eyes flashed dangerously in that dark room, the shadows seething, shifting around him as if magnetised to his very presence. Sliding his chair back, he rose, and left his office.
His heels echoed noisily in those cold corridors, strides carrying him hastily to the infirmary. His passage did not go unnoticed, and Watari dashed out after him. There had been an expression on Tatsumi's face that he had not seen in all his years as a Shinigami, and it scared him. Whatever the secretary was planning, it was not good.
"Tatsumi-san!" The blonde called out, and when he received no response, began to run after the predatory figure. The scientist got no more than three strides before the shadows lashed out, encircling his arms and legs in a grip that was far from comfortable, and even slightly painful. "Seiichiro!" He yelled pleadingly, grabbing at straws as he tried to think of a way to get his attention. The secretary paid no attention.
Tatsumi continued through the labyrinthine corridors until he came to the Infirmary, and without hesitating, strode in. He was somewhat surprised to see that Hisoka was not present, he had thought the boy was intent on staying with him till he woke. Not that it mattered, this provided the perfect opportunity.
Tsuzuki lay fast asleep, curled on one side with his face pressed snugly against his arms, knees drawn up against his chest. Typical foetal position, insecure and in need of comfort. Someone had wiped the blood away from his face and neck, wrapped him carefully in a soft white Yutaka. One mark remained however, a dark love bite against the side of Tsuzuki's slender throat, Muraki's way of marking his property he supposed. Tatsumi moved to the side of the bed, leaning over the sleeping figure, his anger somewhat cooled now that he could see his friend sleeping so peacefully. Maybe, he thought, he should let him rest afterall, there would be plenty of time to talk in the morning if he felt up to it.
Turning to leave, he froze upon the spot when he heard a distressed whimper come from the man in the bed. Tatsumi span around looking down at the lean figure that now shifted restlessly beneath the thin sheet draped over him.
He'll calm down in a minute. Tsuzuki has always had nightmares, this is nothing new.
Tsuzuki's distress became more apparent with every moment, limbs lashing out forcefully at something that simply wasn't there, as if he were trying to push an invisible attacker away. The gleam of sweat was visible on his furrowed brow, his breath coming raggedly and mingled with muffled little cries. Tatsumi clenched his teeth as the guilt clawed its way into his chest, tearing whatever control he had into tattered shreds.
A single tear slid down Tsuzuki's cheek.
Like a lion leaping upon a stray antelope, Tatsumi flung himself at Tsuzuki, grabbing his bare shoulders and straddling his thighs, shaking him harshly so that he flopped in his arms like a rag-doll. Tsuzuki's eyes flew open, full of fear and confusion, struggling to see who was upon him in the dark room.
"Let me go!" The amethyst eyed Shinigami pleaded, pummelling blindly at Tatsumi's chest with all the force he could muster. The secretary snatched at his wrists, abruptly pushing him back down against the pillows. All he could hear was the thump of his own heart and the pleading sobs beneath him. What in God's name was he doing?
"Tsuzuki-san!" He snapped, his voice harsh and commanding. The struggling ceased immediately, the sobs decreasing in volume until they were mere sniffles.
"Ta-Tatsumi?" The question was softly spoken, not at all accusing. "I can't see."
The secretary released his wrists, sitting up straight, and nodded, though he realised the futility of nodding in the dark a moment later.
"Yes. That's because it is still night, and the lights are off." He was surprised at how calm his own voice seemed, despite the maelstrom of emotions he was feeling.
Without warning, a pair of arms wound around him, trembling slightly, a head pressed against his chest, a mass of silken hair brushing against his chin. Tsuzuki clung to him quietly. Gingerly, the secretary held his friend, at first scared, not wishing to be rebuffed, and then holding him just as tightly.
"I'm so glad that you're OK Tatsumi-san." The younger Shinigami murmured weakly. The secretary thought his heart might break, and nuzzled against Tsuzuki's neck gently. Why was he accepting such attention? He didn't deserve it! "I wanted to come back and help you.but I didn't know where I was going." Tsuzuki's voice was growing sleepy, his grip weaker, muscles trembling as he tried to stay sitting upright.
The lights flashed on suddenly, and both men shut their eyes tightly, Tsuzuki whimpering pathetically and trying to press himself harder against Tatsumi's chest. The latter turned to peer at the pair stood in the doorway, Hisoka looking utterly confused, Watari decidedly suspicious. The secretary's control of the shadows had slipped without him even realising it, freeing the scientist.
Tatsumi ignored both Shinigami's, and peered down at Tsuzuki, whose eyes were still squeezed tightly closed.
"Tsuzuki-san. You should sleep now." Tatsumi pressed him back down against the bed, ignoring his protests.
"It's all right Tsuzuki, I'll sit with you till you fall asleep." Watari announced, moving to the side of the bed, watching the secretary warily. His wrists still ached where the shadows had gripped him.
Tatsumi only nodded, prying Tsuzuki's fingers away from his shirt, and leaving the infirmary without another word.
Author's note: Woo, that one just all splurged out at once, which is a good thing I guess, because it meant I didn't spend ages struggling to think. Anyway, apologies for the big gap I left between chapters 9 and 10, I had a big genetics assignment to do and it stole my time, but fear not, there is more to come, plenty of angst and complications. Fuck knows how I'll end this. Thanks to all that have reviewed it so far, it's great to know there's so many Yami no Matsuei fans out there. Oh! And Rei Eien, sure go ahead and archive it, I'm honoured you want to!
~ Lizard ~
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