A Yami no Matsuei Sekkushiaru Roman

By Sailor Mac
“Where’s this cart of. . .junk food going to?”

Tatsumi paused outside his office as he watched the young apprentice Shinegami wheel a platter down the hall that must have been loaded down with a million calories. Cakes, fruit tarts, candies. . .

“Infirmary,” said the twenty-odd-year-old redhead. “One of the patients called the main kitchen and ordered ‘em. Guess he’s having a party in his room or something.”

“Or something,” Tatsumi said, adjusting his glasses — something he must have done hundreds of times a day. “Very well. . .continue on.”

He shook his head as he watched the rookie roll the sweets the rest of the way down the hall.

“This can only mean one thing,” Tatsumi said aloud. “Tsuzuki is feeling better.”

* * *

“Is there *anything* even halfway healthy on that plate?” Hisoka said, folding his arms and scowling at his partner. Tsuzuki was sitting up in his hospital bed, violet eyes ablaze with joy as he regarded the food cart that had just been wheeled in.

“It’s *all* healthy, Hisoka!” he said cheerfully, reaching for an oversized, sprinkle-covered cupcake. “It’s going to give me lots of quick energy. . .”

“You mean a *sugar rush,* the teenage blond replied, narrowing his wide green eyes. “Meaning you’re going to be bouncing off the walls for an hour or so, driving everybody nuts. Then you’re going to crash all of a sudden and either doze off or get cranky.” I have seen this routine *so* many times, Hisoka thought.

“Well, I’m not planning on eating it *all* at once!” Tsuzuki said, peeling the paper from the cupcake almost reverently. “I’ll eat a little of it now. . .and a little of it later. That way, I won’t crash at all!”

“You don’t think *anything* through, do you?” Hisoka said, leaning back further in the plastic chair he’d pulled up to Tsuzuki’s bedside. “You put all this sugar in your system. . .eventually, it *is* going to backfire on you. One way or another.”

Idiot, Hisoka thought. The last thing in the *world* he needs right now is an overdose of sugar! After what he went through. . .Hisoka felt himself shudder a bit deep inside as he remembered how their nemesis, the evil doctor Muraki, had literally driven Tsuzuki to attempt suicide.

“Aww, Hisoka. Can’t a guy have a little bit of. . .”

But he was interrupted by a voice saying from the doorway, “Good morning, Tsuzuki! Doing better today?”

Tsuzuki looked up at the bespectacled man in the staid business suit, and his smile widened. “Good morning, Tatsumi! Much, much better!”

“He *won’t* be after he eats all those,” Hisoka said.

“Well, I have something that will make you feel even better,” Tatsumi said, sitting on a second bedside chair. “Tsuzuki, I’m sending you away to the La Mer resort for the weekend.”

“La Mer?” said Tsuzuki. “Isn’t that the real swanky place?”

“Yes,” Tatsumi said. “A series of cabins by the sea. And each one is isolated enough so that you can have peace and quiet. You’ll have a nice, relaxing couple of days.”

Tsuzuki frowned. “I don’t know. I don’t really *need* to go away. I’m perfectly happy here.”

“Tsuzuki. . .please. You do need this. I’m serious.” He smiled. “Now, would I authorize an expense like thisif I didn’t think you *needed* it?”

He’s got a point there, Tsuzuki thought. Tatsumi was notorious for being stingy with Enma-cho’s funds. . .how many times had he browbeaten Tsuzuki for his food bills?

“Well. . .”

“And I’m sending Hisoka to keep an eye on you,” he added. “Is that okay with you, Hisoka?”

“Yes,” Hisoka said, thinking that he was glad to be sent — he didn’t want to leave Tsuzuki out of his sight. There was still the fear in his mind that any second, their nemesis might show up again, and try to finish what he’d started in Kyoto.

Tsuzuki sighed. If it was *that* important to Tatsumi. . . “All right. . . I’ll go.”

“Wonderful,” Tatsumi said. “Your reservations are for tonight, so you’ll want to start packing right away. So you won’t have time to finish all of these.” He stood up and took hold of the wheeled tray. “I’ll put them in the big fridge.”

“What?” said Tsuzuki, his face suddenly dominated by huge puppy eyes. “But. . . .Tatsuuuumiiii!!”

“No buts,” Tatsumi said. “You have to get ready.”

Tsuzuki just sat there, looking stricken.

“You wouldn’t be able to travel weighted down with a hundred pounds of sugar anyway,” Hisoka said, standing up. “I’m going to get ready.”

The younger Shinegami left the room, the sounds of Tsuzuki pleading for his sweets still ringing in his ears. He can be *such* an idiot, he thought. Nobody would know he was almost a hundred years old. . .he acts sometimes like he’s seven.

But Hisoka knew that his partner wasn’t as shallow as he often seemed to be. After all, he’d been an empath all his life — one reason why he avoided people and closed himself off. It was downright painful feeling other people’s emotions all the time.

There’s nothing painful about Tsuzuki, he thought. It’s like his emotions don’t *crowd* in on me, stifle me. . .they’re just kind of. . .*there.* They feel *natural* I wonder why?

He jammed his hands in his pockets and lowered his head as he walked down a path lined with perpetually-blooming sakura trees, the petals drifting around him on the light breeze like pink snow. He hated the sight of them. They were a reminder of the night that was the beginning of the end of his earthly existence, when Muraki had put him through an unimaginable agony of body, mind and soul.

Someday, he thought, I will make that bastard pay. Both for what he did to me, and what he did to Tsuzuki.

He opened the door to his own apartment. It was spare and austere. . .a plain beige couch and chair in the living room, a brown box of a television, a shelf with some books. His bedroom was even more sparse, containing just a bed and dresser. Nothing hung on the walls.

Going into the closet, he pulled out the same suitcase he’d taken along every time they were sent out on a mission. He remembered Tsuzuki teasing him as he’d unpacked it on the Queen Camillia. . .” Why do you have such a big case when you bring nothing?”

“I bring what I *need*,” Hisoka had replied. “Unlike *some* people.” He pointed to Tsuzuki’s own overflowing case.

“But you never know when you’re going to need this!” Tsuzuki said, unpacking hairdryers. . .a sewing kit. . .several rolls of dental floss. . .

“Chances are. . .you aren’t,” Hisoka replied, starting to put his own things away. “And then you’ll have lugged that big bag for nothing.”

“Nothing? What do you mean?”

“Idiot,” Hisoka had mumbled. . .and then mumbled it again as he watched Tsuzuki struggle to put away all he’d brought with him.

He’ll bring *nine* cases with him this time, I’m sure, Hisoka thought. And have them all over the place. And I’ll probably have to spend all my time cleaning up after him. . .

But that was part of life with Tsuzuki. And Hisoka had to admit that he’d gottten very, very used to it by now. And. . .it wasn’t such a bad thing.

* * *

Tatsumi stood at the window of his office, watching Tsuzuki and Hisoka head down the front path, suitcases in hand. They paused, then their bodies began to shimmer. A second later, they were gone, having teleported to the world of the living.

I hope this goes well, Tatsumi thought. If this works out. . .

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of giggling behind him. He turned to see a perpetually cheerful figure, eyes framed by owlish glasses, blond hair tumbling in wild disarray down over his lab coat.

“Watari?” Tatsumi said. “What do you seem so pleased about?”

“Oh, nothing,” said the scientist, templing his fingers, a look of innocence on his face. “I just gave them a little something in Tsuzuki’s suitcase. . .”

“A little something?” Tatsumi said. He knew all too well that Watari could come up with some downright *scary* things in that lab where he spent most of his afterlife.

“Well, we both know that those two have been getting closer and closer. . .but they haven’t quite made it to the stage of being full-blown lovebirds. So. . .” He chuckled, looking *very* pleased with himself in deed. . . “I gave Cupid a little boost.”

“What *kind* of little boost?” Tatsumi said, sitting behind his desk, adjusting his glasses, and looking downright worried.

“Just a thermos of tea,” Watari said. . .and then burst into gales of giggles, flung his arms wide, and proclaimed, “Loaded to the gills with GINSENG! Nature’s aphrodisiac!” He stalked over to Tatsumi’s desk and leaned over it, saying, “Just one cup of that. . .and the flames of passion will be. . .” He swept his arms in a grandiose gesture, shouting, “BLAZING all night!”

“You. . .you didn’t. . .” Tatsumi said, looking even more worried.

“I most certainly *did*!” Watari said, chuckling gleefully again. “They’ll never know!”

“Watari. . .you don’t know what kind of effect it’s going to have on. . .”

“Oh, it’s harmless,” Watari said. “I’m the doctor to both of them, aren’t I? I know what’ll make them have nasty reactions. But this reaction. . .” He chuckled again, and clapped Tatsumi on the shoulder. “. . .will be nasty in only the very *nicest* sense of the word!”

Tatsumi was going to make another retort. . .but he could only chuckle. Watari was thinking along the same lines that he was, after all.

Watari leaned toward his friend, a big, sly smile on his face. “And. . .I don’t think *your* motivations for sending them on this trip were *all* about having them get some *rest*, were they?”

“Watari. . .whatever gave you *that* idea?” Tatsumi said, fiddling with his glasses again.

“Oh, just the little smile on your face as you watched them take off. That was definitely an ‘I’m-trying-to-matchmake-these-two’ smile.”

Tatsumi folded his hands and smiled. “You caught me. Yes. . .I do have my own hopes in that direction. It’s something that Tsuzuki definitely needs. . .now, more than ever.”

Watari flopped down in a chair opposite the desk. “You still care about him, don’t you?”

“I do,” Tatsumi replied, idly fiddling with a pile of papers. “He and I never quite worked out as a couple, but he’s still very dear to me as a friend. And I do want to see him happy.”

“And you think the boy’s the one?”

“From the moment he came to us, I sensed. . .something between them. Even when they were shouting at each other.” He smiled at Watari. “And you must have, too. . .otherwise, you wouldn’t have given them that little cocktail.”

Watari laughed. “Now, would I perform an experiment on that on subjects that weren’t willing?”

Tatsumi remembered all too well a few occasions where Watari had slipped his potions on people as a surprise. . .like the time he’d turned one of his former partners into a bird. It was with good reason that Watari worked alone, even though Shinegami usually worked in pairs.

“I don’t think you’d do anything like that to Tsuzuki and Hisoka,” he said, diplomatically.

“Good answer, my man,” Watari said, getting up. “Well, we have a couple of days to wait it out and see what the results are, right?”

“Yes,” Tatsumi said. “It will be very interesting to watch them when they get back.”

* * *

“HISOOOOKAAA! You have to come see this!”

Tsuzuki bounded back into the cabin, where Hisoka was putting away the last of his things. Good gods, he thought, he’s gone into yappy puppy mode.

“What is it?” he said, coming out of the bedroom.

“A hot tub!” Tsuzuki said. “A *big* one in the backyard! Look!” He grabbed his partner’s hand and dragged him out the sliding door, onto the back patio. Sure enough, there was a blue, bubbling pool, wisps of steam rising up into the air. Off to the side was a little shed. . .a dressing and undressing room, Hisoka thought. . .and mounted on the side of that, near the roof, was a spigot, a dish of soap mounted further down — for the Japanese custom of washing one’s body before soaking in hot water.

“Isn’t that going to feel good later on?” Tsuzuki said. “Gods, I’d love to have one of these back home. . .after a case. . .”

“So you could stay in it all the time?” Hisoka said. “You *know* you would.”

“I would *not*!” Tsuzuki said. “I *do* take my work very seriously, you know!”

That was one thing Hisoka couldn’t argue with. For all his laziness and overeating, when there was a job to do, Tsuzuki got it done. Of course, that had a lot to do with his own massive spiritual power, and the fact that he could summon and command the 12 most powerful Shikigami, or animal gods.

Hisoka secretly hoped he could attain anything near Tsuzuki’s level of power someday.

Instead of fighting, he said, “I’m going in to cook dinner. I’ll call you when it’s done.”

Tsuzuki watched his partner go back into the house. Hisoka seems so. . .unenthusiastic, he thought. Well. . .he *always* does, doesn’t he? But he’ll come to love this place, I know. *I* definitely do!

He walked out beyond the hot tub, further into the yard. . .and realized they were just a dune away from the beach. He took off at a run, going over the hill easily, and continuing out onto the fine, white sand.

Tsuzuki paused. A clear blue sky stretched over him, seeming to go on and on to infinity. Gulls wheeled overhead, calling to each other in almost melodic tones. The ocean swept onto the shore, looking like a bridal veil spreading itself over the sand.

He flopped down on the sand with a contented sigh and stretched out, letting everything around him fill his senses.

The darkness that had almost consumed him seemed so, so far away now. . .

Tatsumi chose well, he thought. He’d never needed something like this more in his life, or afterlife.

What he’d just been through had been hell. . .*beyond* hell. Muraki had put him there, telling him over and over that he wasn’t really human, that his purple eyes and superhuman healing abilities were a sure sign that he had demon blood. . .

And it was Hisoka who had pulled him *out* of that hell, literally and figuratively. Tsuzuki could still remember Hisoka running to him through the flames, holding him, sobbing, “If you have nothing to live for, then live for me!”

Standing up, he started to walk toward the water, leaning over to dip his fingers as a wave washed in.

My life has changed so much since I met him, he thought. The darkness didn’t come as often as it used to. At least. . .not until Muraki. . .

No. He wasn’t going to think about his enemy. Not when he had a nice, relaxing weekend to look forward to. He was going to concentrate on the sun and the sea and the gulls, and put Muraki behind him. Forever.

* * *

Tsuzuki finally put down his chopsticks with a contented sigh. “That was a *great* dinner, Hisoka!” he said. “You’re a *terrific* cook!”

“I try,” Hisoka said, looking around at the totally empty bowls and bamboo steamer. There’s *nothing* left, he thought. Nothing. I thought I’d made enough for 10 people. . .even taking his normal appetite into account!

“You *more* than tried,” Tsuzuki said. “Well, since you did dinner tonight. . . I’ll cook tomorrow night!”

A look of utter alarm crossed Hisoka’s face. He’d been subjected to Tsuzuki’s cooking before. So had most of their co-workers in Enma-cho. It had been a borderline traumatic experience.

“No, I’ll cook again,” he said. “I’d like to get through this weekend *without* a massive hole burned through the lining of my stomach!”

“Aww, Hisooookaaa!” Tsuzuki said, turning huge puppy eyes on his partner. “My cooking isn’t bad! You just didn’t give it a chance!”

“I gave it a chance,” Hisoka retorted. “And I still didn’t like it!” But, in his mind, he was thinking. . . I’m snapping at him on automatic pilot, aren’t I? As if it’s what he *expects* me to do. Funny. . .I don’t *really* feel annoyed.

This just served to make him even more confused. He was *supposed* to feel annoyed when Tsuzuki acted like this. . .wasn’t he?

“Well, at least let me clean up tonight,” Tsuzuki said. “You go sit outside and relax.”

“That’s fine,” Hisoka said, getting up from the table.

He walked out on the patio, looking up at the sky. The sun had set, and a crescent moon was rising. Hisoka was glad that it wasn’t full. Full moons. . .especially when they were tinged red. . .brought back memories he never wanted to relive.

He could still hear Muraki’s voice in his head. . . "That night. . .a moon red as blood. . ."

He was jolted back to the present by another voice. . .that of Tsuzuki, cheerfully singing over the clatter of dishes. He breathed a massive sigh of relief, thinking that the sound of Tsuzuki singing was welcome. ..even if his voice wasn’t the greatest.

The blond Shinegami sat in a patio chair, thinking that this was the first time he and Tsuzuki had been together without a mission in a long time. It seemed that recently, it had just been one case on top of the other, climaxing with the Kyoto fiasco.

I’m looking forward to this, he thought, to just quiet time alone with him. And he realized he was looking forward to it. . .a *lot.*

Suddenly, he felt confused by his own emotions. What is it I feel for him, anyway? he thought. What led me to charge into flames generated by a Shikigami to save him? That’s not something you do for a casual acquaintance.

All right, he thought. . .I did it because he’s my partner. People save their partners all the time, right? Police, firefighters. . . But the feelings continued to churn away inside him, feelings toward Tsuzuki that were *not* those of a casual partner. . .were they?

Hisoka stood up. “Why am I so good at reading everyone else’s emotions,” he wondered aloud, “and so bad at reading my own?”

His eyes fell on the pool of steaming water, which was glowing now from bulbs concealed under the surface. It looked. . .inviting. . .

Maybe, he thought, a soak is what I need to clear my head. And he started for the shower.

After a quick washdown, he slid into the hot water, which seemed to embrace him like a pair of loving arms. He relaxed almost instantly, leaning his head back as he felt little currents bubble and flow around him.

It feels good, he thought. Gods, I didn’t realize how tense I’d been until the tension started to flow away. . . Then again, he wondered if there was ever a time when he *didn’t* feel tense. Life had not been easy for him from the beginning, from the moment his family realized there was something “different" about him and began to fear him.

He’d never felt understood at all. . .until Tsuzuki. . .

As the water continued to caress him, his head drooped to the side, his eyes drooping shut. He felt himself starting to doze off.

He didn’t hear the shower starting to run again.

A splash opposite him made Hisoka awake with a start. He found himself looking into a pair of amethyst eyes. . .at very close range.

“Hello!” Tsuzuki said as he leaned back against the opposite wall of the hot tub.

Hisoka pulled back. “What. . .what the HELL are you doing?” He stood up on instinct, preparing to climb out. . .until he realized he had just given his partner a glimpse of his full frontal nudity. Turning bright red, he sank back into the water, up to his chin.

“I’m taking a soak, same as you,” Tsuzuki said, happily.

“Well, you could have waited until *I* was done!” Hisoka said, sinking even deeper.

Why does he seem so nervous? Tsuzuki thought. There’s no big deal about two guys sharing a hot tub together. Heck, I’ve gone in hot springs with Watari and Tatsumi all the time!

Then, he realized that on the occasions when they’d visited hot springs together, Hisoka hadn’t come with the others, preferring to go to a private spring instead. The explanation for that seemed logical. . .

“Hisoka,” Tsuzuki said, “are you ashamed of your body?”

Hisoka shot up out of the tub, exposing his chest, and splashed Tsuzuki in the face. “Idiot! That’s NOT the case!” He then rapidly ducked back down under the surface, burying himself chin-high in water again.

Tsuzuki wiped his face. Maybe he just needs something to help him relax more, he thought. . .and reached for the tray he’d set down at the edge of the tub. On it were two cups.

“Come on, Hisoka. . .have some tea.”

Hisoka found himself staring at his partner as he turned toward the cups. . .his eyes drinking in the well-muscled torso, the broad shoulders. . .he felt something stirring deep within him, something strange — and delicious. . .

What the hell am I thinking? he said to himself. . .and when Tsuzuki handed him the cup, he took a deep gulp, as if the contents were liquor, not tea. He had to admit this was an unusually good brew, with something of a spicy edge, as if something had been added.

Drinking it *did* seem to relax him again. He settled back in the water again, watching Tsuzuki sip from his own cup. Somehow, having both of them in the tub together didn’t feel as strange as it had before. . .and he found himself thinking again that the view was *very* pleasant.

“It’s nice not to have a case to worry about, isn’t it?” Tsuzuki said.

“Yes,” Hisoka replied. “I can’t remember when we haven’t had one.”

“We didn’t even get a chance to catch our breath between the Queen Camillia and Kyoto cases.”

Tsuzuki noticed a flicker of pain crossing his partner’s face when he mentioned the Queen Camillia. Oh, gods, he thought. . .maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that one. He remembered all too well holding the sobbing boy in his arms as they fled the sinking ship, as he gasped out that he’d killed Princess Tsubaki, the girl he’d become fond of.

“Hisoka,” Tsuzuki said, “do you want to talk about it?”

Hisoka set his jaw and shook his head no, vigorously.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Hisoka said. “I’m sure.”

But the ice in his eyes, in his voice told Tsuzuki that Hisoka was really damming up his true emotions, that he was trying to hide as he had so often in the past.

You don’t have to hide, Hisoka, he thought. Not anymore. When you’re with me. . .you don’t have to hide anything.

He reached out and grasped the younger boy’s arm. “Hisoka. . .you are *not* like Muraki. I don’t know what he might have said to you about the Princess Tsubaki case, but. . .whatever he said, it’s not true. You just did your job as a Shinegami. . .you released her from being trapped between life and death. Muraki had made her a zombie, Hisoka. She should have died long before you met her.”

Hisoka looked down into the water. “That doesn’t make things much better.”

Tsuzuki reached out again, this time brushing a stray lock of hair from Hisoka’s eyes. The younger boy cringed a bit. .. but then relaxed.

“Hisoka,” Tsuzuki said, gently, “did you love Princess Tsubaki?”

Hisoka suddenly felt like a deer in the headlights. What the hell kind of a question was that? He had no right to ask it. . .even if it was true. . .

He snapped back, “Did *you* love Hijiri Minase?”

Now it was Tsuzuki’s turn to be taken aback. Memories flooded his head of the young genius violinist, who he’d protected from a demon. . .at the cost of ending up possessed by the demon himself. . .

“Yes,” he said, quietly. “I. . .did feel something for him.”

Hisoka found himself sinking a bit deeper into the water again. “I knew it,” he said. “I sensed it whenever you were around him.”

“I didn’t pursue it, though,” Tsuzuki said, quietly. “He was human, after all. And I’m. . .not.”

“Stop saying that,” Hisoka said, a bit sharply. “You are *very* human. You’re the most human person I’ve ever met, Tsuzuki. I’ve never met anyone else who *cares* so deeply.”

“No, no. . .I didn’t mean it in. . .*that* sense.” He gave Hisoka a smile tinged with a bit of sadness. “I mean. . .he was from the world of the living, and I’m a Shinegami. It was impossible.”

Besides, Tsuzuki thought, I was never quite sure if I loved him for himself. . .or because he looked so much like you, Hisoka. But he didn’t want to say that to his partner out loud.

Hisoka sighed. “Both relationships. . .they were doomed to fail even before they began. We’re both destined to be alone. And. . .maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”

Tsuzuki reached out and brushed the back of his hand across his partner’s head. “No, Hisoka. You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone again. We have each other now.”

Hisoka didn’t know what to say to that. What does he mean? he thought. Does he mean as friends? As partners? Or as. . . He looked away, flushing a bright pink. No, he thought, why should I even think that way? Something like *that* between us?

Tsuzuki frowned a bit. Why does he look so uncomfortable? he thought. Does he have a hard time accepting the fact that someone cares deeply for him? I’ll bet that’s it. . .

He said, quietly, “Hisoka. . .when you came after me through the fire. . .I can’t tell you how moved I was. It was the most. . .well, I never thought anybody would do something like that for me. Ever.” He looked down. “I. . .didn’t think I was worth it.”

Hisoka’s head snapped up at that. How could Tsuzuki think that way? How could he not see his own worth? “Of course you’re worth it!” he cried. “Tsuzuki. . .what Muraki said to you was all lies! You’re the most *human* person I’ve ever met!” On impulse, he leaned over to hug his partner. . .

. . .and was instantly struck by how *natural* it felt. There was no unpleasantness, not at all. No stifling rush of Tsuzuki’s emotions into Hisoka’s own brain, like what he felt when he touched other people. Just a very natural flow. . .as if he and Tsuzuki were literally one mind.

Almost unconsciously, the younger boy slowly settled into a position where he was leaning against Tsuzuki, head on his shoulder. Tsuzuki was startled at first. . .then relaxed. He liked the feeling of his partner snuggled against him. A lot. His arm came up to drape across Hisoka’s shoulders.

For a long moment, they just sat there, savoring the closeness, the warm water bubbling around them, making things all the more cozy.

Then, Tsuzuki said, “Hisoka?”


“I have a confession to make. I was jealous of Princess Tsubaki.”

Hisoka raised his head. “Jealous? Why?”

“For being so close to you all the time.”

Hisoka pulled away a bit, and Tsuzuki noticed he was looking away and blushing again.

“Hisoka. . .is there something you’re not telling me?”

Now Hisoka pulled away completely, his arms crossed over his body like a shield. “No! No, nothing!”

“Like, perhaps. . .you were jealous of Hijiri?”

The look on Hisoka’s face. . .like a deer in the headlights. . .said it all. He had been found out.

“It’s all right, Hisoka,” Tsuzuki said in his softest, most gentle voice. “I’m very flattered.”

Hisoka looked up at his partner and felt a strong pulse of emotion coming from him, a honeyed sensation that seemed to caress his very soul.

“Tsuzuki,” he said in a breathless whisper. Slowly, Hisoka found himself inching toward his partner, almost involuntarily, as if guided by something bigger than himself. . .

Then, Tsuzuki’s arms swept around him, pulling the younger boy against him, and their mouths came together, softly, lips gently caressing lips. Hisoka let out a gasp of surprise at first, as his partner’s emotions suddenly rushed in on him like a wave pouring onto the sand. . .but he quickly relaxed. The emotions were so soft, and sweet, and warm. . .

And ohh, the feeling of their mouths together. . .soft on soft, wet on wet. . .A slow heat started to steal through the blond boy as their mouths parted just for a second, then came together again, harder and more insistent, Tsuzuki’s lips moving on his as if he was seeking some buried, secret treasure.

Hisoka found himself tentatively flicking his tongue against the place where their mouths met, then drew back, his face flushing.

“Sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry. . .”

Tsuzuki smiled at him. . . Hisoka could be *so* cute sometimes. For all his outward cynicism, he really was still an innocent underneath.

Brushing a few locks off his partner’s forehead, Tsuzuki said, “There’s nothing to be sorry about, Hisoka. It’s okay. . .just relax and do whatever you want. . .”

“I’m not sure what to do.” Hisoka looked away. He meant it. . .the only experience he’d ever had with anything sexual was. . .

No. That had *nothing* to do with what was happening here. I refuse to think of him, Hisoka thought. I refuse to let the memories of what Muraki did to me ruin this!

“It’s all right,” Tsuzuki replied. “I’ll show you.” He drew his partner into his arms again, and their mouths claimed each other once more, the kiss growing hot and insistent very quickly. When Tsuzuki slid his tongue into Hisoka’s mouth, the younger boy felt his knees grow weak, and his arms tightened around his partner. . .and oh, he was becoming *very* aware of the full-body contact, of Tsuzuki’s wet skin sliding over his. . .chests pressing together, thighs rubbing against thighs. . .and. . .and. . .

Hisoka found himself shifting his hips just to the right, a little movement, but all that was needed. Their erections brushed against each other as Hisoka’s tongue searched for his partner’s, finding it, stroking it. . .

The double-barreled blast of pleasure made the boy give a whimper. . .he couldn’t believe the sensation! Hot and thick and sweet, like drowning in steaming honey. . . He started to pump his hips, rubbing his hardness against Tsuzuki’s again and again. . .he could never get enough, never, never. . .

Hisoka’s mouth parted from Tsuzuki’s, and he found himself kissing along his partner’s neck, grinding his pelvis into the older man’s. . .moving to the right, then the left, brush, rub, caress, making him feel like he was going to burst into flame any second, but he loved it. . .oh, how he loved it. . .

Tsuzuki leaned his head back, letting out a long, low, throaty moan. Gods, he didn’t expect Hisoka to be that aggressive! But he didn’t mind. . .not in the least. . .especially when he felt his teeth nip right at a sensitive spot on his throat. Tsuzuki jumped and gave a yelp.

Hisoka pulled back, startled. “What’s wrong?”

Tsuzuki laughed. “Nothing’s wrong. It felt. . .too good.” He gently disentangled himself from his partner, pulling back in the water a bit. “We don’t want to do too much at once.” He saw Hisoka’s look of disappointment, and he bent over, kissing the top of his head.

“Why don’t we go inside?” Tsuzuki whispered. “There’s a lot I’d like to do that’s easier on a bed.”

At the mention of a bed, Hisoka’s heart pounded, both with fear and anticipation. He wanted Tsuzuki. . .oh, how he wanted him. . .but at the same time. . .the pain and fear of his experience with Muraki came flooding back.

“I. . .I. . .”

“Don’t worry, Hisoka,” Tsuzuki said. “I promise. . .I won’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.” He winked at his partner and kissed him on the forehead. “Trust me. I know what I’m doing with these kind of things.”

“Well, at least you know what you’re doing with *something*,” Hisoka retorted.

Tsuzuki only laughed at that. At a moment like this, it was very obvious the boy didn’t really mean it. The passion in his eyes was an indicator of his *true* feelings.

The older man hopped out of the tub, and Hisoka raked his eyes over his body, a delicious shiver passing through him.

That beautiful body would soon be open to *him*. He’d be able to touch and taste and explore to his heart’s content. The very *idea* made him feel like he was going to explode.

What’s happening to me? Hisoka thought. I’ve never felt like this before. . .not even close! I don’t think I’ve ever let myself go over anything. But. . .I am now, and. . .it feels so, so good. . .and so natural. . .

Tsuzuki was holding his arms out to him. Hisoka let his partner help him out of the tub, and then he found himself wrapped in a big beach towel.

“Can’t have you getting the sheets all damp!” Tsuzuki said, vigorously rubbing him down. Hisoka luxuriated in the feeling. . .having the barrier of cotton between Tsuzuki’s hands and his body only made it all the more tantalizing.

When he was done, Tsuzuki tossed the towel aside and pulled Hisoka into his arms again. They shared a lingering kiss, their tongues teasing each other just a bit, a promise of greater pleasures to come.

They headed back into the house, hand-in-hand, and went straight for the bedroom. Once they were inside, Tsuzuki kissed his partner again. . .oh, I can never get enough of those lips, he thought. He tastes like cinnamon and butter. . .utterly delicious. . .more delicious than any sweet could ever be.

Their lips moved against each other as Tsuzuki’s hands began to roam. He stroked down his back, feeling the smooth, soft skin, the taut muscle beneath — the result of long and hard martial arts training. Hisoka felt coltish, boyish. . .but definitely masculine.

It just made Tsuzuki’s blood run all the hotter.

His hands moved lower as his tongue began to slowly wander up the boy’s cheek, over to his ear, teasing the tiny hole, flicking in and out. When Hisoka moaned, he nipped very gently at the lobe, as he cupped and squeezed. . .ohh, what a glorious little ass he had! So firm, so shapely. . .

Hisoka’s head was swimming, and all he could do was gasp and moan as Tsuzuki’s fingers danced over the curve of his bottom. . .kneading the flesh gently, then a firm squeeze, then a tickle. . .his palms rubbing up and down, top to bottom, until his fingertips began to trace the curves reverently, like a sculptor working on a masterpiece.

“Tsu. . .zuki. . .” Hisoka gasped. “Please. . .please, more. . .”

Tsuzuki slid his hands away so he could pull the boy in his arms again. “What do you want, Hisoka?” he whispered, kissing his cheek, his neck, his ears. . .

“I. . .I want you to. . .” Hisoka just knew he needed Tsuzuki to do *something* about this delicious torment. . .although he wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to be released from it or if he wanted to intensify it. Or both.

Gently, Tsuzuki eased his lover back on the bed. “I think I know what you want,” he said. He lay down beside him, and they embraced, mouths colliding like freight trains, tongues eagerly seeking, finding, caressing.

Hisoka felt Tsuzuki’s lips leave him. . .and then, something hot and wet and lovely sweeping down his neck. He cried out as his partner licked at his collarbone, slowly. . .then nibbled at his chest as he worked down, down down. . .

When he reached a pink bud, Tsuzuki stared at it almost reverently for a second. Then, he brushed his fingers over it. . .the most feathery of touches. . . Hisoka gasped and arched toward him.

“You like that?” Tsuzuki said.

“Y-yes,” Hisoka gasped.

“Hmmm. . . I’ll just have to give you more, won’t I?”

Tsuzuki’s head descended, and he lapped hungrily at the nipple, flicking the very tip of his tongue over it once, twice, three times. . .then slowly, slowly licking the pink around the bud. He kissed it a few times, very rapidly, then fluttered his tongue. . .pulled his head back and blew on it, slowly. . .then lowered his head and lapped with long, slow strokes again,

Hisoka writhed, whimpering, his fingers tangling in Tsuzuki’s midnight hair. Why did this feel so incredible? What was a nipple but a little tan peak? He never dreamed that men could feel. . .so *much* there. . .

When Tsuzuki’s lips closed around the bud and he began to suck, Hisoka cried his name, his whole body wriggling, his head moving side to side rapidly, as if to say no, no, so much pleasure couldn’t possibly exist. Tsuzuki’s head came up. . .and Hisoka cried, “Why? Why did you stop?”

“Sshh,” Tsuzuki whispered. “I’m not stopping. . .be patient. . .”

And his head rapidly descended again, this time to the other nipple. His hand was moving down Hisoka’s body as his tongue rubbed slowly, slowly over the second peak. . .sliding over his stomach, stopping to massage the flesh here and there, drawing patterns, teasing, tantalizing. . .

At the first touch on his manhood, Hisoka stiffened. A sudden memory slammed into his brain, a memory he didn’t need. . .no, not now! A hand gripping his most sensitive flesh, roughly, causing pain. . .the face leering over him, framed by silver hair. . .

Tsuzuki noticed the sudden change in his partner’s mood, and he backed away, kissing his cheek. “Hisoka. . .do you want me to stop? I know what’s going through your head right now. The last thing I want to do is. . .”

But Hisoka was breathing deeply, trying to get control of himself. I have to get past this, he thought. I want to do this with Tsuzuki. I want to be one with him. Focus on something pleasant. . .

He caught a sense of Tsuzuki’s emotions. The sweet warmth. . .the concern. . .something warm and hot and delicious. . .

The opposite of what I felt coming from Muraki on that night, Hisoka thought. I can focus on Tsuzuki’s emotions. . .and I’ll be all right. . .

“I’m all right,” he said. “Tsuzuki. . .keep going. I want you to.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. “ Hisoka took his partner’s hand and guided it back downward. “I want you to.”

Tsuzuki leaned over, kissing his partner’s lips, tenderly, as he began to brush Hisoka’s erection tenderly, gently, sliding his fingers up the shaft very slowly. . .then down. . .then up again. . .

Hisoka closed his eyes, letting the sensation wash over him. It was luscious. . .like what he’d felt when they’d been rubbing against each other, but even more intense. He arched his hips, mutely begging Tsuzuki for more.

Tsuzuki got the message. He began to flutter his fingers over the head, then rub his palm back and forth, rapidly. . .then slid his fingers down the shaft again, leaving his thumb at the top to tease the opening, then move in quick circles. . . The boy’s low, throaty moans fired his own desire, making him feel like his blood was literally boiling.

I can never do enough for him, he thought. I want to make this boy moan and whimper and scream with ecstasy. He moved down the bed, so his mouth was even with his manhood. . .

Mmm. . .I want to lick him like an ice cream cone, he thought. . .

His tongue sought out the base of the boy’s erection, and he moved it upward, slowly, slowly. . . When Hisoka let out a throaty love-sound, he was tempted to go faster. . .but he held on, moving it around in little swirls, going inch by inch. . . When he got to the very tip, he slid it in and started to suck.

Hisoka let out a loud cry, tangling his fingers in Tsuzuki’s hair, delicious sensation flooding every last bit of his being, making him feel like his blood had turned to lava. He wanted this to go on and on, forever. . .but he wanted him to stop at the same time, because he didn’t want to go over the edge, not yet, not yet. . .

Tsuzuki slid his lover’s erection in as deep as he could comfortably take it, sucking in long, slow draws, letting his fingers brush against the sac beneath. He slid it out, only to flick his tongue over the head, then draw it back in again.

“Tsu-Tsuzuki, keep that up and I’ll. . .”

Reluctantly, Tsuzuki slid Hisoka out of his mouth, came back up and kissed the boy’s sweaty, flushed face. “Oh, that’s what I *want* you to do,” he said. “Just. . .not yet.”

Hisoka opened his eyes, slowly, and found himself gazing into Tsuzuki’s face. . .so sweet, so gentle, so very, very beautiful. . .and those hypnotic amethyst eyes, the sexiest thing about him. . .

Suddenly, Hisoka felt an urge to give back what Tsuzuki had given to him. He crushed his mouth against his partner’s, rolling them both over so that he was on top. Tsuzuki was a bit startled. . .but he also felt his heart pounding in anticipation of what was to come.

Tsuzuki was a medley of sensual textures. . .silken hair, satiny skin, velvety lips. . . Hisoka kissed him hard, sliding his tongue in and out in a rapid rhythm, his fingers tangling in the raven tresses, then skimming down his neck, caressing his chest. . .

The worry that he wouldn’t know what to do didn’t even cross Hisoka’s mind. He began to kiss down Tsuzuki’s neck, as his partner had done to him, pausing to flutter his tongue here and there. It came as no surprise to him at all that Tsuzuki’s flesh had a sweet taste. All that sugar he consumed was literally coming out of his pores. . .or maybe it was just his sweet personality. . .

When he encountered a nipple, he swirled his tongue over it, and a shiver of heat passed through him as he felt the bud harden. He kissed it once, twice, three times, before drawing it into his lips, suckling rapidly.

Tsuzuki’s whole body bucked off the bed as he let out a loud cry. The boy was *so, so* good! He knew *exactly* what Tsuzuki wanted. . .light tongue dartings, sucking, then a brush of his fingertips. . .then sucking again. . .

“Good,” Tsuzuki moaned. “So. . .so. . .so. . .”

Hisoka let a hand slide down to his partner’s length. Amazing, he thought, how Tsuzuki could feel so much like me. . .and at the same time, so different. . . His fingers swept over the shaft as his mouth moved to the other nipple.

How would this feel, he thought, inside me? The idea filled him with a rush of excitement. . .and a rush of fear. Again, an unwelcome memory flooded his brain, a memory of agonizing pain, of Muraki towering over him. . .

Hisoka took a deep breath again, and focused on Tsuzuki’s emotions. There it was again. . .the warmth, the sweetness washing over him like a sea of hot chocolate, sweeping away the bad and leaving only good in its wake.

He quickened his stroke, his hand moving up and down, rapidly. . . Tsuzuki let out a cry of passion, only spurring Hisoka to stroke him faster, faster. . .

Then, Tsuzuki’s hand was on his, gently easing it away. Hisoka made a small noise of disappointment.

Tsuzuki wrapped his arms around his lover and rolled them both over so they were side-by-side. He kissed the younger boy gently, then said, “Hisoka. . .what do you want to do from here? Do you want to go all the way?” He added, quickly, “Please. . .don’t feel that you have to. If you don’t want to. . .there’s other things. . .”

Hisoka wouldn’t dream of it. He *needed* to be one with this man. . .to consummate their relationship, and to put Muraki behind him forever.

He kissed Tsuzuki back, and said, “Please. . .take me.”

“Are you sure?”

Hisoka cupped Tsuzuki’s face in his hands, gently. “I’ve never been so sure of anything.”

Tsuzuki’s heart flooded with joy. He wants me to do this, he thought. After everything he went through. . .he still wants to be one with me. . .

Hisoka let his head drop onto his partner’s chest. “Only. . .I wish I could have come to you as a virgin. Muraki stole that from me.”

Tsuzuki stroked his hair. “Hisoka. . .you *are* a virgin. You never *chose* to give yourself to anyone before. What Muraki did to you. . .that was an act of *violence*, it had nothing to do with lovemaking. What’s between us. . .” He took Hisoka’s hand and kissed it. “It’s something different altogether.”

“Then. . .I want you to be my first.”

“If you’d rather not be penetrated. . .I can be uke the first time. I’ll just talk you through it.”

The idea was definitely appealing. . . Hisoka had a vision of himself plunging into Tsuzuki’s hot, writhing body, his lover’s sheath tightly gripping his manhood. . .

No, that was for another time. He knew he had to get past the psychological barrier against being penetrated *now.*

“I want *you* inside *me*, Tsuzuki,” he whispered.

“All right, then. . .that’s what we’ll do.”

Tsuzuki rolled away for a moment, and reached for the nighttable, coming back with a metal tube of something in his hand.

“I found this in my suitcase,” he said. “Do you know what it is?”

Hisoka shook his head no.

“It’s K-Y,” Tsuzuki said. “Lubricant. It’s to make lovemaking easier. What I’m going to do is put it on my fingers, and then open you up. When you’re ready. . . I’ll take you.” (And it’s *medical* K-Y, Tsuzuki thought. There’s only one person in Enma-cho who’d have that. I have to thank Watari when we get back.)

“What do you want me to do?” Hisoka said.

“Lie on your back. . .spread your legs, and raise them a bit. . .”

Hisoka did what he was told, his heart pounding. He heard the squish as Tsuzuki used the tube. . .and then, a finger began to gently probe him. . . There was a flash of pain, and Hisoka almost screamed, his mind groping for his partner’s, looking for those sweet emotions to help him hold on. . .

But the pain began to fade as Tsuzuki began a slow in-and-out motion. . .and then, a warm pleasure began to mix in with it. . .growing stronger and stronger as the pain faded away more and more. . . Tsuzuki lowered his head to Hisoka’s chest, sucking at a nipple as his finger moved faster, and Hisoka let out a loud whimper of pleasure.

“Do you like that?” Tsuzuki whispered.

“Yeeeess. . .”

“Good. I’m going to give you more. . .”

Tsuzuki slid the finger out and reached for the box of tissues on the nighttable to wipe it off. He relubed it, along with a second, and began to gently massage Hisoka’s opening, coaxing it to let him in again.

Hisoka sucked in his breath as the pain came again, but he knew what to do right away, and he focused on Tsuzuki until it faded. . .and when the pleasure came this time, it was twice as intense. Hisoka tossed his head back and let out a loud moan, his hips pushing back toward Tsuzuki’s fingers, wanting to be penetrated more and more. . .

“You’re ready,” Tsuzuki said. “I can feel it.” He slid the fingers out, and Hisoka heard the squish of the tube again. Gentle fingers applied some more of the chilly lubricant at his opening. He lifted his legs a bit more as Tsuzuki positioned himself on top of the boy, and the tip of his manhood pressed against him.

Tsuzuki leaned over and kissed Hisoka’s lips, tenderly. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered.

“So are you,” Hisoka replied.

“Now. . .just relax. . .”

Tsuzuki pushed forward, and Hisoka gritted his teeth. He was being filled. . .and filled. . .until he thought he was going to burst. . .he fought against the ugly memories of the past, opening his mind fully to his partner, drowning in the warm, sweet emotion. . .

But the pain began to fade rapidly, much more rapidly than Hisoka thought it would. . .and the pleasure was. . .overwhelming.

Tsuzuki felt the boy’s passage grip him, and he let out a loud, low groan. So good, he was so good. . . He quickly surprised an urge to thrust hard, to bury himself in the boy to the hilt. He had to take Hisoka with the utmost care and gentleness.

He took the boy’s hand and brought it to his mouth. With just the very tip of his tongue, he traced a line across his palm, then up to the fingers. . . He licked his way up the index finger, and slid it in his mouth and started to suck as his hips moved, thrusting into the boy slowly, so slowly. . .

Hisoka began to move his own hips, saying to Tsuzuki without words, yes, yes, go faster, I’m ready, , . His partner got the message, picking up speed, and Hisoka felt delicious, warm sensations start to flood him, radiating outward from his passage through every bit of his body, warming even the very tips of his toes. . .

“Tsuzuki,” he moaned, taking his finger out of his lover’s mouth and tracing the outline of his lips. “Keep going. . .ohhh. . .ohhh. . .you feel so good. . .”

“Yes. . .oh, *gods*, Hisoka. . .” Tsuzuki leaned his head back, moaning loudly as he moved faster yet. . .ohh, he was so, so tight, every thrust sending another wave of hot tingles through the older Shinegami. . .he didn’t want this to end, *ever*.

Hisoka slid the finger into Tsuzuki’s mouth again, and he moaned as his partner sucked on it, sliding it in and out. . .their hips thrust to the same rhythm, in, out, coming together, parting, the excitement mounting and mounting until neither thought he could take it anymore. . .it was torture, but delicious. . .

The wet finger left Tsuzuki’s mouth and moved down to his nipple, beginning a rapid back-and-forth stroke that made the older Shinegami throw his head back, crying out loudly, struggling to hang on, not wanting to come before he brought his partner to the peak of ecstasy. His own hand moved to his partner’s chest, seeking his own hardened knot. . .

The caress sent Hisoka over the edge. He let out a loud cry as everything exploded in white heat, as one luscious spasm after another wracked him. . .he thought it would never, ever stop, and he didn’t want it to. . .

The throbbing within his lover touched off an answering climax in Tsuzuki, and he cried his lover’s name out as the liquid flame flooded through his body and soul. He collapsed atop Hisoka, panting, trembling, and they clung together, their lips meeting in a gentle kiss.

“Tsuzuki,” Hisoka whispered, “I. . .I. . .”

“What is it, love?” Tsuzuki whispered, stroking his face.

“I love you,” he said. Hisoka surprised himself by saying this. . .but he knew it was true.

“I love you, too.”

They settled into a comfortable position, Tsuzuki on his back, Hisoka’s head on his chest. They wrapped their arms around each other, and Hisoka sighed in contentment.

I never, ever thought I’d be this happy, he thought.

“I’m so glad we went away for the weekend together, Hisoka,” Tsuzuki said.

“Me, too. This wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t.”

“Oh, I think it would’ve, eventually. But I’m glad it happened now.” He hugged Hisoka tighter. “We have the rest of the weekend ahead of us. . .maybe we can even fulfill a couple of the fantasies I’ve had.”

Hisoka raised his head. “Fantasies?”

“Mmmm. Mostly about covering you in whipped cream. . .or pudding. . .or chocolate syrup. . .and licking it off slowly.”

Hisoka sighed. “Why does it not surprise me that even your *erotic fantasies* are about sweets?”

“Awww, Hisoka!”

Hisoka leaned over and kissed him. “Never mind. Being covered in food for you to lick off. . .might be a very nice thing after all.”

They snuggled down and fell asleep.

* * *

“Tatsumi! Take a look at this!”

Tatsumi looked up from his computer terminal to see Watari peering out the window, a look of sheer joy on his face. What on earth brought *that* on? he thought. He got up from his desk and joined the scientist.

There, outside, were Tsuzuki and Hisoka, coming up the walk to the main building looking like high school sweethearts. Tsuzuki had his arm around Hisoka’s shoulders, and Hisoka was leaning his head against his partner.

“Oh, my,” Tatsumi said, adjusting his glasses. “It seems the weekend was an even bigger success than I’d hoped.”

“It worked,” Watari giggled, rubbing his hands together, a look of wild glee in his eyes. “My love potion WORKED!”

The two entered the building, and Watari and Tatsumi hurried away from the window, trying to look busy, Tatsumi sitting at his desk, Watari opening a file and pretending to look through its contents.

Tsuzuki and Hisoka paused outside the doorway. They knew they had to act “normal” in front of the others. . .at least, until they were ready to “go public” with the turn their relationship had taken. They moved apart from each other, took a deep breath, straightened their clothes and went in.

“Hello, everyone!” Tsuzuki said.

“Hello,” Tatsumi said. “So nice to see you back. How was your trip?”

“Oh, lovely!” Tsuzuki said, stretching. “Sun, sea and sand, you know?”

“He ate junk food the whole time,” Hisoka said, deadpan as ever. “And he got bit on the toe by a crab.”

“Awww, Hisoka, you know that’s not *all* that happened!” Tsuzuki said. . .then stopped short, thinking, oh, crap, I just gave us away. . .was that just a knowing look passing between Watari and Tatsumi?

But Hisoka said, “No, that’s *not* all. He also managed to nearly torch the kitchen when he tried to cook dinner.”

“Ah,” Watari said with a small smile. “So. . .the weekend went as expected.”

“Yeah,” Tsuzuki sighed. “Pretty much.”

“We’re going to check in with the chief,” Hisoka said. “We’ll talk to you later.” The two headed down the hall.

Watari and Tatsumi looked at each other. “What do you think?” said Tatsumi.

Watari grinned. “Success. Hisoka came up with that ‘torch the kitchen’ line in the nick of time, but. . .it’s *real* obvious. They looked like they were having difficulty keeping their hands off each other.”

Tatsumi sat back down at his desk. “I think so, too.”

Watari headed back to his own lab, chuckling all the way. I knew it! he thought. I *knew* they were a couple waiting to happen! All they needed was a little push from good old Mother Nature. . .and from me, of course!

He busied himself checking the contents of a beaker filled with fluid that looked like liquified rust. . .until a footstep at the doorway made him look up.

“Oh. . . Tsuzuki!”

“Hi,” Tsuzuki said. “I thought I’d stop to see you for a moment on the way to Chief Konoe’s office. Watari, I have to thank you.”

He figured it out! Watari thought. He knew he’d been slipped a love potion! The idea just made him chuckle all the more.

“Oh, it was my pleasure, Tsuzuki,” Watari said. . .then nudged Tsuzuki with his elbow. “Or, should I say. . . *your* pleasure?”

“Well, yes,” Tsuzuki said, blushing a bit. “And, oh, yeah. . .I wanted to return this.” He handed the thermos back over.

Watari took it from him. . .and thought it felt a bit heavy. . . He turned it this way and that, and felt liquid sloshing. It was still completely full.

How could that be? he thought. Maybe they refilled it with something else?

“Thanks,” Tsuzuki said, “but I ended up brewing my own tea. . .they had my favorite kind at the little shop at the resort.”

Watari stared at the thermos as if it was something that had just come from an alien spaceship. “You. . .didn’t drink *any* of it?”


“Hisoka didn’t, either?”

“No, I made him the kind I like. But. . .it *was* appreciated, Watari.” He clapped him on the back. “And the *other* thing you put in my suitcase was appreciated even more.” He winked.

“Well. . .you’re welcome,” Watari said, a bit stunned.

“Gotta go see the chief!” Tsuzuki said with a wave. “Talk to ya later!”

After Tsuzuki left, Watari just stood there for a moment.

It *wasn’t* me, he thought. It wasn’t my love potion! He didn’t even drink it! And yet. . .they used the K-Y. . .

Watari looked at the thermos again. . .and then broke out in a fresh wave of chuckles. If they didn’t drink the tea, that was even *better*. . .because they’d discovered their feelings for each other on their own.

Sometimes, even Watari had to admit that there were some things that were better than science.

* * *

“You’re late,” Hisoka said, cooly, as Tsuzuki rushed into Chief Konoe’s office.

“Had to talk to Watari for a moment,” Tsuzuki said, breathlessly, pulling on his tie and sinking into the other chair in front of the chief’s desk.

“You’ve never been on time for anything in the past,” the chief said, gruffly. “I wouldn’t expect you to start now.”

“That’s not fair,” Tsuzuki said. “I do my job.”

“Don’t ask me *how*,” the chief said.

“Chief,” Hisoka said, “what happened in our district while we were gone? Do we have an assignment?”

“Actually, no,” the chief said. “It’s been very quiet in your district. It looks like you’ll have another day or so to recover from your ordeal.”

“Really?” Tsuzuki said, with shining puppy eyes. “That’s terrific!”

“But if we hear someone in another district needs backup. . .we’re going to summon you!”

“No problem,” Tsuzuki said, jumping to his feet. “Come on, Hisoka. . .I know of a good way we can pass the time in the meantime!” He winked at his partner, and Hisoka felt a delicious shudder pass through his body. He knew *exactly* what Tsuzuki meant.

The two of them left the chief’s office and started to walk back down the hall. . .when Tsuzuki suddenly swept Hisoka up in his arms, hanging him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

“HEY!” Hisoka yelled. “What the HELL are you doing?”

“Carrying you to my place, of course.”

“WHAT?” Hisoka struggled, but Tsuzuki held fast.

“Aww, Hisoka. . .don’t you want to be carried over the threshold?”


But for all Hisoka’s struggling. . .in his heart of hearts, he really wanted Tsuzuki to walk faster. A *lot* faster.

Tatsumi heard the shouting outside his office window and looked out. There was Tsuzuki, humming happily to himself, carrying Hisoka across the lawn, while the younger boy fussed and yelled.

The chief’s secretary chuckled to himself. He’d never seen a more welcome sight in his life. . .because he knew that Tsuzuki had found his happiness at last.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This was my first excursion into Yami no Matsuei, a series I fell for fast and hard. Tsuzuki and Hisoka are such a lovely couple, IMHO. . .two lost souls who've found each other. Ah, if only the series were longer than 13 episodes. . .

Many thanks go to the members of the TsuiXHi ML; to my dear friends Sonya and Mandy, who I dragged with me into Yami-dom ~_^; to my very dear friend and editor Steve Savage, whose first exposure to the Shinegami came via this fic; and to everyone who's written to me regarding my works — your comments mean more to me than I'll ever know.

I have a new E-mail address: Please use that one for all comments regarding this or other fics, as my old address will be discontinued as of Nov. 1.

Yami no Matsuei is owned by Yohko Matsushita and Hana to Yume. These characters ain't mine, I'm just borrowing them for a little while.