Author's Notes: The song I choose is from the second Wolf’s Rain OST, if you’re curious. It’s in English originally, so just pretend I’m translating it. Keep reading and you’ll understand what I mean.
By Sakura no Miko
Kyoto. That had changed everything, certainly. It wasn’t so much that he’d seen Tsuzuki’s pain, his suffering—or even that Tsuzuki had seen his as well. No, he’d already known that.
When he’d woken up, the pain fading, in the familiar infirmary of EnmaDaioh, there was something…different. Instinctively, he turned to the bed beside his, seeking the familiar form of his partner, making sure that what he’d feared had not come to pass.
He sighed in relief. Tsuzuki was fine. More than fine, by the looks of it—half-eaten sweets lay cluttered at the foot of the bed. He’d thought it was just…well, natural. You don’t come so close to death without wondering if you’re really alive at the end. There were no marks, no signs that any of it had even really happened.
And yet…something had changed, something palpable yet…uncertain. He didn’t want to dwell on the strange feelings inside him…
Soon Watari had cleared them to get out of bed. Tsuzuki was awake first, and he’d decided to spend his freedom outside, beneath the sakura blossoms. Hisoka, on the other hand, chose a rare bout of sleeping in to celebrate.
Every so often, Hisoka glanced outside, catching sight of Tsuzuki sitting peacefully under the trees, before drifting quietly back to sleep. It was pure chance that he’d awoken at that particular moment.
Hisoka blearily looked out the window, surprised to see two figures where there had previously been one. He blinked before realizing that Tatsumi was sitting with Tsuzuki. He shook his head. There was…something strange…
Too many emotions to define whipped past him, through him. His body twisted in pain at the suddenly onslaught, tears filling his eyes, making everything hazy. Audible sobs reached his ears, and he forced his eyes to focus.
His breath caught in his throat before he realized what he was seeing.
Tatsumi was sobbing. Not only that, he was sobbing against Tsuzuki’s shoulder. Hisoka could see Tsuzuki’s hand lying atop Tatsumi’s dark hair, stroking it with the gentleness of a mother comforting a child. His other arm held the man close, snaked around his waist, pulling him so…so close.
Another tidal wave hit Hisoka, almost making him double over. He was starting to make out some of it—pain, mostly, mixed with fear, and grief, and a desire to be forgiven.
He cried out in pain…
Eyes blurring, Hisoka almost thought he could see…the faint outline of Tsuzuki leaning over Tatsumi, their faces close enough to…
Hisoka tore himself away from the window, heaving. Pure feeling shocked his veins, so pure he’d never felt anything like it. Slowly—achingly slowly, to him—the pain dissipated, replaced by a warm, fuzzy sort of afterglow that rang of…forgiveness. So tender, this sensation… So why did he…why did he hurt so badly? Tears were welling up in his eyes, thicker than before, but they wouldn’t move, no matter what he did.
He couldn’t stop seeing it—the embrace, the tears, the…the…
And he’d believed Tatsumi when he said it was him Tsuzuki wanted!
Anger tore through him, disappearing as quickly as it came. No, he didn’t have the right to be angry. He… Hisoka searched for the right emotions. He should be happy, shouldn’t he? Because…they were happy…
His tears fell the moment he stopped trying to cry.
The rain came down, strangely loud in the otherwise quiet night. Strange weather for such a tranquil place, Hisoka thought absently, watching the drops pound against his window. Why were such cold and inconvenient things a part of the eternal spring that dominated EnmaDaioh? Did it keep the illusion of spring showers? Or was it just to change the endless, unchanging season? In the end, it didn’t matter, really. The sakura blossoms would return, untouched, by the light of dawn. As if nothing had ever even happened in the night…
But something had.
Hisoka was chilled by the cool, rainy breeze against his bare torso. He should really put something on, but… He looked down at the pale expanse of flesh, still disbelieving.
He’d woken up that morning, like every other morning, only to feel an icy chill run through his body, tracing with terrible accuracy the lines of curse burned into his immortal skin. He’d hurriedly thrown off his light shirt, searching for the crimson markings that heralded the return of Muraki…
Pale skin greeted his eyes—skin hidden from the sun and prying eyes, from ridicule and exposure—pale skin he’d almost forgotten he possessed. It shone, faintly, in the pale light of early morning.
His breath caught. He could feel—deep, deep in his very soul—that they were gone. He was gone. No…he couldn’t get his hopes up that high, not yet. But the faint sense of dread and sickness he’d always felt, even when they faded, as they were wont to do, whenever he had the fortune of keeping the mad doctor away, was utterly and completely gone.
Tsuzuki would be so happy…
Hisoka pushed the errant thought out of his mind quickly, but it still brought a smile to his face. He thrust his hand into the small dresser near his bed, seeking the soft material of a very particular shirt. A memory surfaced in his mind, of a birthday not so long ago. How Tsuzuki had found out the date was beyond him—he’d hardly known when he was born, except that his family seemed somehow more abusive of him during a particular month.
Ah, there it was. The soft fabric was unmistakable to his hands, having been held so often, for no particular reason. He’d been angry when he first got it, thinking it was some sort of sick joke. Yeah, he remembered it all too clearly. The small, neatly-wrapped package opened under his fingers easily, revealing a pool a cloth so green it almost hurt his eyes. It was the style, however, that surprised him—sleeveless and high in the neck, a style he almost immediately thought of as girlish. Besides, Tsuzuki knew his reason for preferring a less…exposing style of clothing. What in the world was he thinking?
“I thought you’d look good in it,” he explained simply, with that ever-annoying, ever-cute smile.
Hisoka dragged himself to the bathroom, clutching the shirt. He blushed slightly before pulling the light shirt over his head. It fit perfectly…
It was the same color as his eyes.
He went to work as usual, ignoring the usual complete lack of heating, and waited, as usual, for Tsuzuki to arrive. The moment Tsuzuki stepped through the door, Hisoka chose to casually peel off his coat, despite the cool of the building. He felt Tsuzuki’s shock, his questions. A tiny smile lit up his face.
He didn’t expect to feel warm fingers tracing his arm…or the sudden flood of emotion accompanying the act.
“Why…how…?” Tsuzuki whispered, strangely close to his ear. “Hisoka, what happened—”
A soft cough from the doorway interrupted them. Hisoka jerked away, his breaths quick, his face crimson. A deep embarrassment ran through him at the thought of being seen in such a state. Tsuzuki always had to be so…!
Tatsumi stood in the doorway, his face turned. Tsuzuki took one look at Hisoka, who refused to meet his gaze, and then stepped out to meet Tatsumi. Hisoka could hear the low voices, punctuated by a strange pause. He knew they were staring at him, and he felt his blush rise. What did he expect? Tatsumi must have thought…he and Tsuzuki…
Footsteps. Tatsumi must have left. Hisoka began to turn, to ask…
Tsuzuki’s arms were awfully warm, he found himself thinking. Tsuzuki wrapped him up from behind before he could speak a word. “You knew, didn’t you?” Tsuzuki’s voice was warm, too. “You already knew he was dead.” No need to ask who “he” was. Hisoka knew, just by listening to his partner’s voice—a seemingly icy chill, but seething with hot anger beneath. Muraki.
The news hardly registered in Hisoka’s mind. He was happy, of course. But with Tsuzuki so close, he couldn’t tell if it even was his own happiness. The thought sent a chill down his spine. That was the thing with empathy, wasn’t it? You never knew whose emotions were whose…if they were even your own.
But the happiness, whoever’s it was, felt so nice…so comforting. Just a moment, he wanted to whisper. Just another moment of this peace and I’ll never be able to move again. But his lips wouldn’t…couldn’t form the words.
It wasn’t his place.
It wasn’t his right.
When Tsuzuki abruptly let him go, he was torn between rejoicing and crying. “I knew you’d look good like that,” he heard Tsuzuki say softly. “It goes so well with your fair skin.”
Hisoka mind snapped back to the present as the rain began falling with a fierce strength. “Just…” he whispered faintly. Just a moment. He couldn’t even say it now!
And what if he had? If he’d just been selfish for once in his life, impulsive for a moment…if he didn’t care so much more for everyone else. It was for the better this way, he told himself harshly. Tsuzuki had Tatsumi now. He’d always had the older man with him. It had been him who blundered in, who saw that tender moment that no one should have seen.
He’d been the one to think, so audaciously, that Tsuzuki might have…might have really wanted him for who he was. Hisoka bristled. Tsuzuki had probably thought he’d been Tatsumi, that night in the flames. It hadn’t been Tsuzuki looking at him like that, it had been…someone else, thinking of someone else.
Always someone else…! Hisoka threw the closest object in reach against the wall. Never him…. The tears were welling up again. He laughed harshly at the response. His tears never fell. They burned and stung his eyes, blurring his sight and making him feel so weak.
Tsuzuki was always so happy. It was impossible not to see it, to feel it. It was impossible to feel anything but happy when you were with him. Hisoka shook slightly. He was never happy without Tsuzuki. He could only get sucked into Tsuzuki’s feelings, feeding off them like a monster. He was a monster!
He got up, suddenly, ignoring the ache in his head, the blurring sight that made him dizzy. He flopped on the bed, aimlessly grasping for something on the dresser. A familiar melody drifted up as he knocked against the CD player he’d left there.
He buried his face in his pillow, willing the salty tears to go away. He’d forgotten how much he’d loved this song. Even Tsuzuki had commented on how much he listened to it…
Why did everything come back to him?
Why was he the only person who made everything seem like it changed? Nothing ever changed…
He remembered how Tsuzuki had teased him—it was only days ago, he remembered with a shock—because he couldn’t understand the words to the song he cared for so much. It didn’t matter. The music swelled, the words growing louder, faster. He really enjoyed that part.
Besides, he did to understand some of it. The important part. Heaven. The song was about Heaven, the wonderful place where you went after you died. He snorted as the song began to wind down. Hisoka tapped the repeat button gently, his mind finally starting to think in a reasonable, logical way.
Heaven was, as far as he could tell, a very empty place, considering that most people chose to have another go at life—or afterlife, as the case sometimes was. In fact, of all the cases he’d seen, not even half chose to go on to Heaven. The only really large group of people who went were…
Hisoka’s mind froze. That was right. He’d never actually met any of the Shinigami who went on, but…well, wasn’t that how it was supposed to be? After you dealt with whatever it was that was holding you back, you went on.
What was holding him back…?
Muraki was dead.
There hadn’t been any cases that really needed his help.
He’d always gotten along before, hadn’t he? Hisoka smiled at the thought. He wasn’t efficient, or punctual, or even all that strong, when you got down to it. His partners moved on more often than most, or so he’d heard. In fact, Tatsumi was the only of Tsuzuki’s partners still around…
Tatsumi would take care of Tsuzuki, wouldn’t he?
Oh, God, he wasn’t actually thinking about this… Hisoka shook his head. No. He couldn’t. He promised…! Hisoka clung to the thought. They’d promised, hadn’t they, to live for each other? To save each other?
…but he had Tatsumi now…
He broke the promise.
He…didn’t want it anymore…
…didn’t need him anymore…
Hisoka found himself suddenly calm. It was so simple, wasn’t it? The more he thought about it, the more sense it made. No one had ever kept a promise to him. No one had ever wanted him. No one needed him.
He’d thought himself brave that night, racing through the black heat of Touda’s flames, thinking only about Tsuzuki. Thinking to save the one person who cared about him—wasn’t that selfish? Yes, so selfish. Tatsumi…Tatsumi, who knew Tsuzuki better than anyone, had told him not to go. He would have given Tsuzuki his peace, his death.
But Hisoka’s selfishness kept him here, tied to this afterlife.
How Tsuzuki had begged him for death…
How Tatsumi would have let him go…
How he ruined it all…
Hisoka’s hands trembled. Monster. Freak. Unwanted. Hated. His parent’s voices soothed him for the first time in his life. Yes, they never lied to him, did they? They told him the truth.
Oh, Tsuzuki… He begged for forgiveness. Tsuzuki, who always lied to him…
He could never hate him for his lies, but…he couldn’t bear to hear them anymore. So weak. He was always so weak, to cling to lies as truths. So weak to believe that the violet-eyed Shinigami—such beautiful violet eyes—look at him tenderly, made him warm and…happy for a reason.
So weak to believe that he might even…care for him…
Heaven was starting to look so much better.
“You’re…what?” Tsuzuki’s voice shook, but he bravely tried to steady it.
“You heard me.” So cold, so aloof—just like when they first met, Tsuzuki thought. “I’m leaving in two days. I’m sure they can find you a new partner soon.” A pause, and then, “I’m sure Tatsumi would be happy to take the job again.” The younger Shinigami noiselessly left the small office, unaware of the devastation left in his wake.
Tsuzuki collapsed in his chair. What had he done? He’d never seen Hisoka so…angry, so cold. He practically radiated pain. He’d thought…he’d thought Hisoka was happy…
He’d thought…they could be happy…
What a failure. How could he have been so blind? Hisoka must have been hurting so badly, and he didn’t even see it! What kind of partner was he? What kind of friend was he…? Hisoka was in so much pain…
Maybe this was right, then. If he couldn’t…if he was so blind…
He wanted Hisoka to be happy…
“Asato.” Oh, Tatsumi was here. He must have heard, too. He didn’t look happy at all…
“Yes?” he almost whimpered.
“Asato.” Tatsumi whispered gently, trying to get Tsuzuki to look at him. His eyes were so…glassy, as if he wasn’t really seeing anything. “Asato…you’re not going to just let him go?”
“Asato…please, tell me. Trust me.”
“I am an idiot,” Tsuzuki replied hoarsely. He was smiling, but the tears were already leaking from his eyes.
Tatsumi clenched his hands. He’d thought they were over this. But if anything were going to change, they had to be the ones to do it.
“Sei, I—” Tsuzuki roughly grabbed Tatsumi’s jacket, burying his face against the older man’s stomach. “I didn’t even know…how much he was hurting. I couldn’t see it at all. How can I… What can I do about it? I…just want him to be happy…”
Tatsumi gently began to stroke the younger man’s hair, trying to sooth him. “I…” He stumbled. He wasn’t proud of what he was about to say, but it needed to be said. “Once…I wanted you to be happy, Asato. But I think Hisoka knew better that night.”
Tsuzuki’s sobs quieted. “I think…I need to go home, Sei,” he said quietly, his voice still rough.
Tatsumi brushed the soft hair one last time. “Make sure you make the decision you truly want, Asato.”
Tsuzuki nodded. “Thanks, Sei,” he whispered, giving a strange sort of half-hug from his position. Then he was gone.
Tatsumi looked at the empty office. A strange sort of ache filled him. If they lost Hisoka…they might very well lose Tsuzuki, too.
The gates of heaven were beautiful, no matter how many times you saw them. Purest white, constructed of ivory and diamond, alabaster and pearl, they shone with a promise of beauty and eternal peace.
The farewell was everything he expected. Saya and Yume mourned the loss of their ‘cute little Hisoka’ loudly enough for all of Meifuu to hear. Terazuma’s gruff farewell was probably forced out of him by Wakaba, whose own long, twisting goodbye managed to get everyone looking at their watches. Chief Konoe was next, giving the formal thanks of EnmaDaioh for his years of service, finally adding his own brief farewell to the end. Watari’s ‘good luck and goodbye’ promised that he would, someday, show Hisoka his working gender-changing potion, even if he had to go up there himself. Finally, Tatsumi began a soft, perfectly normal speech that, for some reason, unnerved Hisoka more than anything else. The words were exactly what you’d hear in any goodbye, and yet…Hisoka felt as if Tatsumi were trying to say something else, something important.
Tsuzuki was late, as usual. Without Hisoka’s constant watch, he probably couldn’t be on time for anything but the buffet. But…why now, of all days? Maybe it was better if they didn’t have to say goodbye…
The delicate notes of a flute sang through the air. It was the signal to leave. Hisoka smiled, trying to hide his anger. Where was he? He said his own goodbyes quickly, turning away before he began to get emotional.
“Hisoka!” Tsuzuki’s voice rang out behind him. “I’m so sorry! I just wanted to make sure I got it right but I wasn’t sure and I—!”
Hisoka stopped, but…he couldn’t turn around. He just couldn’t look at Tsuzuki, not now. But the familiar rambling apology brought a smile to his lips.
“Get on with it,” Terazuma broke in gruffly. He didn’t like long goodbyes, and he hated listening to Tsuzuki’s mindless chatter even more.
“I brought a gift for you, Hisoka.” A soft plea followed. “Please?”
Hisoka turned around, keeping his eyes on the ground. “I can’t bring anything with me. You know that,” he mumbled.
“Ah, but I got you something you can.” Tsuzuki smiled as if nothing were out of the ordinary. “‘Heaven’s Not Enough.’”
Hisoka blinked. He looked up, wondering what in the world Tsuzuki meant. He wasn’t…going to try and talk him out of leaving, was he? Hisoka felt a strange flicker of warmth at the thought.
“That song you liked… I was translating it for you. I mean, I had to hurry up, but…”
The flute sounded again, though it seemed…louder. Hisoka shook his head. “Tsuzuki…I have to go.” He wouldn’t get another chance for…a very long time. Surely Tsuzuki understood. He…he had to understand… Hisoka turned around. He didn’t want to be so cold, but…he had to. He had to go now.
heaven's not enough
if when you get there…
just another blue
Tsuzuki’s clear voice rang out behind him. Smooth, gentle, and yet…so sad. Just like the song.
“I’ll listen as long as I can,” Hisoka said quickly, already stepping towards the gates. It was the only promise he could make.
He hated Tsuzuki, he really did. Who else could have made him question his every thought, with such a simple gesture? Hisoka cursed silently. Alone, everything made perfect sense, but as soon as Tsuzuki said a word…everything fell to pieces. He summoned, against his better sense, the image of Tsuzuki and Tatsumi’s gentle meeting. That sweet, tender love he could only watch from afar… Heaven would give it to him. Just remember that, he thought to himself.
Because…Heaven wasn’t anything like real life.
Nothing there could hurt you.
and heaven's not enough
you think you've found it
and it loses you
He still found it hard to believe such a place existed. He’d never even known what ‘Heaven’ was until he became a Shinigami. That was for the best, probably—he wouldn’t have been able to understand before that.
He hadn’t known happiness, or love, or peace as a child. So how could anyone have explained ‘Heaven’ to him?
But even unknowing…hadn’t he dreamed of this day? Every night he dreamt of…something he couldn’t understand or recall, something warm, without pain or anger. Someplace where he wouldn’t have to feel others’ emotions, and could finally rest peacefully.
He remembered a night, when he was very small, and a careless—or caring—servant had left the window of his room in the attic open. It was much, but…he could see. He saw the moon, the stars, the trees and flowers. He felt the cool breeze on his face. And, in the blackest part of the night, he heard nothing but silence.
He stayed awake all night, amazed. It was his first glimpse of the world. Such a simple thing had made him…feel so strange.
It didn’t last, of course. The next morning, he was found out, and the offending servant disappeared. That was when they moved him to the basement…when the long days of isolation and darkness began…
All because he’d been happy, just once…
you've thought of all there is
but not enough
and it loses you in a cloud
Tsuzuki was still talking, Hisoka recognized vaguely. He’d been walking, lost in his thoughts. His partner’s voice never changed… almost like a lullaby…
Another memory surfaced. He hated thinking about his past; so why did all these terrible thoughts suddenly return? A woman…and old woman. Where did the face in his thoughts come from? A voice…not unlike Tsuzuki’s…
Yes, that was it. Another servant sent off in disgrace from his household. Her only crime had been to sing him a lullaby, on long ago night.
Every time he found happiness…it was crushed.
Just like the sakura petals on the ground….
Sakura? Hisoka shuddered. That had been the ultimate example. Yes…that beautiful, tranquil night…beneath the sakura-tinted moon…beneath the flowering tree…
The one night he’d figured out how to escape. But there was nowhere to escape to, and no one to help him escape. Not like now…
Back then, there was only…emptiness. Agony. And the final, ultimate sense, that his life was never going to change. Even without remembering the torture and the lingering curse that was slowly consuming him, he felt it. He knew it. Nothing in the world…nothing any living man could do…nothing would ever change his pathetic existence.
Ironic… After all, it had only taken someone who was no longer alive to do it.
"there" most everything is nothin' that it seems
"where" you see the things you only wanna see
Hisoka was jerked out of his decidedly pleasant thoughts, a soft blush staining his cheeks. A young woman stood before him—though she was noticeable bereft of wings. He’d seen he before, though only from afar. She attended the gates, you might say.
“Have you decided yet?”
“Decided?” Hisoka echoed in confusion.
The girl’s expression changed. She smiled gently. “Ah, I see even EnmaDaioh’s employees are in the dark about how things work up here. It is top secret, y’know.” She sighed, placing he hands at her hips. Short, straight brown hair, dark eyes, and tanned skin—nothing like the stereotypical angel. Well, she was really closer to being a Shinigami, but… “Well, you see, it’s like this: Heaven is different for everyone. What you see depends on what you want. In short, you get to choose your happiest memory and make it last forever.” She paused. A small smile lit up her face again. “And the best part is, you get to forget all your bad memories! So you just need to decide which memories are which, and you’ll be all prepared to go on.”
I'd fly away
to a higher plane
to say words I resist
to float away
Hisoka forgot to breathe for a moment. That…that was so easy! Forget Muraki, forget his childhood—forget everything, as far as he was concerned.
Oh, right…he needed to keep the happy memories.
Tsuzuki… Tsuzuki was always happy, wasn’t he? What made him happy? Food. Nope, no good food memories. Hisoka almost scowled. That food fight they’d had… Nope, his first taste of sake was certainly not a good memory. Especially when he woke up in Tsuzuki’s bed, a fact the older Shinigami loved to tease him about.
What else? Not his past, certainly. That was the only thing they’d had in common.
His sister. The thought surprised him. Wait… he did remember something… something Tsuzuki had said. The memory escaped him. Not much point, anyway. After all, he had nothing good to remember about his family. Maybe he’d ask Tsuzuki about his sister tomor… Hisoka blinked, strangely pained. No, there wouldn’t be a tomorrow, would there?
and heaven's not enough
if when I'm there I don't remember you
But…what was so wrong about forgetting everything?
What would Heaven be like for a person who was never truly happy?
…Was it even…possible?
“Sir?” the girl whispered in alarm.
Hisoka shook his head. “I…need to think some more,” he replied weakly.
She let out a breath and nodded. Business as usual, probably.
How many times had he seen Tsuzuki happy…? Too many to count. There had to be some reason, something that could help him remember his own happiness. It was impossible to think that he’d never, not for an instant, been truly happy. What was keeping him from it?
Hadn’t he been happy to see the chill night with his own eyes, beneath the sakura and the moon and stars? Yes, but Muraki…twisted that memory beyond recognition.
Hadn’t the brief kindnesses of the servants given him hope, even joy? No…they’d been too brief to remember, to understand, to repeat.
Nothing in his life ever made him happy, nothing. But…he was a Shinigami. He had more than life to think about. What was it that he couldn’t see?
and heaven does enough
you think you know it
and it uses you
He was still talking? Tsuzuki’s voice sounded…so monotonous, so unlike his usually animation. It had just faded to the background, much like his farewell committee. He’d really been serious, hadn’t he? That song… Hisoka couldn’t think about something so trivial at a time like this! He felt bad instantly. Tsuzuki was trying to ease his last moments, and here he was, getting angry… If it had been any other time, he’d have been listening so closely, eager to understand the riddle of that captivating song.
His thoughts were getting progressively worse. Why couldn’t it be as easy to think of the good as it was to think of the bad? He knew what he wanted to forget. He knew, beyond a doubt, beyond a care, that he would be happy enough just to forget Muraki!
He wanted to forget the doctor who’d tended to his hurts as a child. He wanted to forget that the man who brought him relief was the same man who…who killed him! He wanted to forget everything the curse had made him remember.
That the man he trusted for years had been slowly ending his life…
That the man who knew him better than anyone knew him more intimately than anyone before or ever after!
Memories of sakura collided with recollections of a more recent event. The same pain he knew in life…suddenly interrupted his afterlife. He’d needed the truth, enough to break the curse on his mind—only to find it even more horrifying than the endless speculations. Muraki had been his doctor, during his long illness. Had he ever told anyone that? What would they think, knowing that he’d had such affection for the man who was, even then, making sure he would never show any emotion to anyone again?
If he hadn’t known…how much less would it hurt?
That night…the soft melody, fading into the night…their first case as partners…
I saw so many things
but like a dream
always losing me in a cloud
It had been like a dream. The slow, lingering illness that had left him unable to do anything was gone; in its place, a stronger, immortal body. But the scars were still there… He’d been so obsessed he couldn’t help but feel anger when he was partnered with someone who couldn’t help him, who’d only hinder him.
But like ever dream…it became a nightmare. Just seeing him was enough to make him hurt all over again.
And so he found himself trapped again…the only sound was his own body, dripping blood and aching against the bonds that dug into his skin…the only voices his own, edged with pain, and the mad doctor’s, edged with pleasure.
…the dark secret…he’d never told anyone…
The only reason he could remember that night was because…he’d relived it all over again.
His nightmares always were endless.
Still…hadn’t it been a strange nightmare? Because, at the end, Tsuzuki came. Despite every reason not to come, every warning that fell from his lips, Tsuzuki not only came, he’d risked his life to save Hisoka’s.
He still remembered, faintly, the words on Tsuzuki’s lips as he fell unconscious, the strain of protecting them from Muraki finally overtaking him: “Are you sure you’re alright, Hisoka? I…I don’t want to lose another partner…especially not one as strong as you.”
The blood loss had made him feel strangely lightheaded, and he hadn’t even been sure of the words, but for the movements of Tsuzuki’s lips. The reasonable, normal thoughts had crossed his mind: But…he wasn’t strong. Not at all. In fact, if Tsuzuki hadn’t come for him…he’d have… His thoughts grew harsher. If he’d had any strength, he could have resisted, this time. If he’d been strong, Tsuzuki would be there, lying in his arms, unable to open his eyes. If…he’d been…strong…
When he awoke in EnmaDaioh’s infirmary, Tsuzuki was already gone. Watari had helped him up from the bed, smiling strangely at him. He finally explained, breaking into an evil grin, that he’d never seen such close partners in his entire afterlife. The other Shinigami—even Terazuma—had been at a loss of how to get the two of them into the infirmary, because they simply wouldn’t let go of each other. With a wink, Watari said his goodbye, ushering Hisoka towards the door, assuring him Tsuzuki would be waiting for him.
He’d been there, under the blossoms…and they’d promised to stay together as partners…forever.
Hisoka had never had a nightmare end like that before.
cause I couldn't cry
cause I turned away
couldn't see the score
Something about that memory was different. But what? He’d been kidnapped, tortured, and used as bait. He’d been used, like he was nothing. Worthless. What had changed since then?
Hisoka threw the thought away. Worthless person, worthless thoughts, his mind compared.
Every memory was the same—if it started out with the positive, it soon turned resoundingly negative. And what happiness could he ever find after the pain? Any warmth he felt was always…tainted.
Everything in his life was tainted!
Even the dream he lived for held no joy for him.
The dream—the mission—that saved his life was as dark and dreaded as everything else.
No, he couldn’t say that. He’d wanted revenge, yes. But it revenge on a faceless, voiceless…meaningless phantom. Hardly enough of a reason to warrant him another chance. Surely so many others wanted the same…
But that was all he’d had. It was the only thing that had kept him alive, and wanting to live. He dreamed of the day Muraki would finally be dead. The day he’d be free to…
didn't know the pain
of leaving yesterday really far behind
To forget? Yeah, to forget. To leave it all behind. To be free of the past…to leave it forever.
He could never be happy if he lived in the past. But his past always affected his present, and his future. His past was always a part of him. All the pain…the disgrace…was part of him.
So leaving it behind…would be leaving himself behind…?
But they were only the parts of himself he’d never wanted….
The inability to let go.
What would it be like, to be touched without fearing that every smiling face hid that blackness? What would it be like, to trust without regret? What would it be like…to be with someone who didn’t care…?
in another life
in another dream
by a different name
That was it. Hisoka finally smiled, for the first in a long time. That was his Heaven. His finally attainable dream.
An endless fantasy…
His Heaven would be a place where he was no longer Hisoka, the vengeful Shinigami. No longer Hisoka, the perpetual victim, searching with lost eyes for a reason. No longer Hisoka, the unwanted, hated son. And…most of all…
No longer Hisoka, the empath, whose feelings were never his own.
gave it all away
for a memory
and a quiet lie
“I know what I want,” he spoke up.
The girl smiled. “Ah, that was quick,” she mused. “You Shinigami sure are easier to deal with than the other humans.”
“I want to forget everything,” he continued softly, “except one thing…”
Her smiled widened. “Well, that’s an easy request. So, what’s the lucky memory you want to keep…?”
and I felt the face
of a cold tonight
still don't know the score
Hisoka took a deep breath. He opened his mouth to speak…
Strange…he’d never noticed before…how clearly the gates showed his reflection.
Just like a mirror…
He looked strange. Was that a smile on his face…? And were his eyes really so wide, so green? Only Tsuzuki had such bright eyes…
He could see…Tsuzuki…standing there, in the distance. He looked so sad…
Where was everyone else? They couldn’t have left yet, could they…? Of course they had. There was so much work for them to do, and they really didn’t have the time to wait for him.
Then…why was Tsuzuki still there…? Oh, right, the song. When had he ever stuck so tenaciously to something like this? Why…why would he bother?
“Tsuzuki…” he whispered out loud.
but I know the pain
of leaving everything really far behind
Hisoka’s eyes widened. He wanted to turn around, he wanted to…
He’d heard Tsuzuki’s voice so clearly, just in that moment. Why did it turn his knees weak?
Why? Why did he say that…?
Why did it look as if Tsuzuki’s eyes were staring straight at him as the words fell from his lips?
No! Hisoka’s mind jerked back to the present. He was lying again. Damn it, what could Tsuzuki possibly know about what he was going through? How could he even begin to understand the pain that he was finally going to lose? His pain was nothing, nothing like his! He could deal with his pain. He could live with it. He had Tatsumi to help him for the rest of eternity!
How dare he stand there, acting as if he knew anything about Hisoka’s life!
Tsuzuki’s pain was nothing like his! He didn’t have to cower in fear of everyone around him…to lose his entire life in the blink of an eye…to beg for mercy from an unforgiving God…
But when he did…he always came out smiling and laughing, just like always.
Deep down, Hisoka knew he hated Tsuzuki, hated him so much it hurt and ached and…
…it wasn’t really all that much like hate…
and if I could cry
and if I could live what truth I did then take me there
His fingers lingered over the smooth surface of the gates, covering Tsuzuki’s face from his view. He willed the soft voice from his head, willed away every thought, every memory, except the fragments of dream he wanted to make real.
He only had to open the gates. Hadn’t he seen it time after time?
Something so simple…could change his life forever.
That was all he ever wanted, and here it was, at his fingertips. Look, wasn’t that his future, shining in the diamond and stone? His own, smiling face? His own fingers reaching to open the doors?
Happiness lay just beyond his reach. A life without fear, without guilt or shame. Heaven, just waiting for him.
Summoning every bit of his strength, he pushed against the hard surface, expecting it to be as unyielding as his heart.
Hisoka longed to be deaf. His hands froze, affected by the soft, yet aching voice behind him. Tsuzuki…
“Hisoka, wait! The last line of the song…”
Why couldn’t he stop trembling?
Why couldn’t he move?
Why…why his reflection crying so openly? He’d never felt such thick tears run down his face…so easily…so unwanted…
Tsuzuki…Tsuzuki held him the last time he’d cried so hard, ignoring the dark blood on his hands…
And…he’d held Tsuzuki…when he cried out against God and his past…his inhumanity…that was so much more than human…
Trembling, such trembling…
And when they held each other…wasn’t that…?
…could it have been…?
That feeling that flared within him whenever Tsuzuki smiled, was that… happiness? That little warmth, so natural, yet so strange? Such a tiny feeling…
But if that was all he was looking for…he had so many happy memories.
If…if that were true…he had countless, innumerable happy memories!
He had more than that. If…if that was happiness…
It was as if a spell was broken. Hisoka’s legs shifted, turned, began to move. He couldn’t see beyond the tears, he couldn’t hear anything above the beat of his heart, but he could still move.
Oh, yes…he had something worth more than all of his happiest memories…
Strange…how that little, tiny flicker…could grow so large…
Hisoka practically jumped on Tsuzuki the moment he was able to. The flood—but it was so much more gentle than a flood, this time—washed over him: shock, first and foremost; relief, soon after; and, finally, a very deep, very warm joy, stronger than Hisoka had ever felt from his partner before.
He’d been looking so hard for this, this sensation, never realizing…
Tsuzuki’s happiness was so deep, so obvious…and his was so small and unassuming…
He’d never even seen that they were the same thing.
“‘Soka?” Tsuzuki never called him that. He felt the little spark in him burn more brightly. ‘‘Soka’…he kind of liked that…
“Just a little longer…” The words fell from his lips without a thought.
“As long as you want”—such a welcoming reply. It didn’t hurt…it wasn’t confusing…it was just…
“Tsuzuki…” His voice was so faint, he could hardly hear it. But Tsuzuki must have, or his arms wouldn’t have tightened in that delicious way… “…did it start so small for you, too?”
He was smiling…they were smiling, with blurry eyes. “Yeah, it did.” Soft, secret words, Hisoka thought to himself, were so much more beautiful than anything else in the world. “But I think you have the wrong idea.”
Panic. Blind, simple panic. Wrong? No, don’t say that...don’t deny this happiness. Hisoka looked up, his smile fading.
Tsuzuki smiled—that same old smile—and said in a slow, certain voice, “Happiness is such a big feeling, you might not have been able to accept it yet. But I think you’re ready now. That little, tiny feeling—” He took a breath, torturously long. “—is something that we call—” Another intake of breath, deliberate and slow. He leaned down, his lips close to Hisoka’s tender ear, whispering the final word: “Hope.”
Hisoka twisted back around as easily, but as firmly, as he could. Tsuzuki’s arms slowly loosened around him. Tsuzuki was letting him choose…no one had ever let him before. The gates still shone brightly, beckoning. He…he still wanted to go there…
…but…maybe not yet…
Maybe he could try this new feeling.
Then…when he returned…he wouldn’t have to search for the happy memories…
He turned back to Tsuzuki, and smiled. It wasn’t much of a smile, really…just a tiny curve of his lips. He hugged his partner—it wasn’t much of a hug, either, but Tsuzuki didn’t seem to mind. Gently, Tsuzuki urged him closer, urged his arms tighter. Now it was truly a hug.
Distantly, he heard voices around them. And yet…he wasn’t embarrassed. Not at all. He could hear the questions, the concern of his friends. They hadn’t left after all. He sank against Tsuzuki, feeling strangely sleepy. Tsuzuki wouldn’t…let him fall…
All these days of pain...all the terrible memories he'd been so close to losing...
...But he didn't regret keeping them any more.
In some strange way, after a life of pain and horror and an afterlife of trying to lay the past to rest…
After turning his back on Heaven and all its promises…
He was finally happy.
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