Title: Six Feet
Author: Lodestar
Disclaimer: Yami no Matsuei is copyrighted to Yoko Matushita and associates. I claim no ownership and intend no disrespect

hold me now, I'm six feet from the edge and I'm thinking, maybe six feet ain't so far down - Creed

He supposed that most people were able to ignore it when someone was snoring.

Certainly he personally was able to tune most other sounds out. Annoying chatter easily became nothing more than a background buzz. The quiet, live hum of the office he could quickly distract himself from. Even the more painful sounds- loving laughter, the babble of a happy child, the sound of a certain gentle song played over and over on every radio in Japan- he was able to ignore. After all, he'd spent three years willfully disregarding the steady beep and mechanical whir of hospital machinery, closing himself away until he could hardly feel the tubes in his arm and up his nose, or smell the sick-sweet disinfectant, let alone hear anything.

But this sound. This tiny, insignificant thing- not even loud or annoying, just the barest hint of rasping breath- now had the ability to keep him tossing and turning for hours. Maybe because he was so used to quiet nights.

No, not quiet. Empty.

He didn't really mind the intrusion, though. In its own way, it was almost comforting. Knowing that Tsuzuki was sleeping the sleep of the just (or at least the extremely foolish) just a few steps away. A guardian, one he'd never be able to completely push away, no matter how hard he tried. It would be impossible for either of them to ignore the other.

So he had tried to just close his eyes and listen to that gentle sound of another life being lived so close to his, and didn't bother to make sense of what he felt.

Eventually, though, enough was enough. They'd both had a long day- Tsuzuki wasn't the only one who needed his sleep, and as calming as this was what he needed now was oblivion.

Hisoka's bare feet brushed against the worn hotel carpet with a feeling that was almost slick. He moved across the space between their beds silently, though he knew it wouldn't matter if he hadn't. Tsuzuki, appropriately enough, slept like the dead.

He had intended to just reach over and give the other man a little shake, or maybe pinch his nose, as that tactic had proven particularly effective in the past. But there were still some rituals he couldn't escape, even after all this time.

So he stopped and stood, three feet from Tsuzuki's bed, three feet from his own. Poised in the middle, and just watching.

Because Tsuzuki looked perfect asleep.

It wasn't the cold perfection of a statue or an angel. It was a beauty that had to do with warmth and breath and heartbreaking innocence. But that didn't make it easily approachable.

The first time he'd done this, his vigil had ended with a desperate leap that had landed him in the middle of his partner's bed. He'd almost backpedaled, but the need for comfort, the terror of the nightmare that had driven him from his own restless sleep had driven him forward. Tsuzuki, still comatose, hadn't even realized his personal space had been invaded.

They hadn't discussed it in the morning, either. But from then on, for days, no, whole missions afterwards, it hadn't been unusual for them to wake up next to each other, or tangled together, or with one of them hidden under a mound of covers while the other shivered in the early morning air (he'd nearly broken their silence and apologized for that, but caught himself at the last moment. If Tsuzuki wasn't going to say anything, neither was he.) Sometimes, rarely, it was Hisoka's bed they would sleep up in. Tsuzuki had his bad nights too.

They never asked questions. They never talked it over. In Hisoka's opinion, they didn't need to.

But they were past that. With the barrier of a few months between them and any unpleasant incidents, they didn't need to come crying to each other like that. He's been avoiding it in fact, just to prove that point.

But... what harm would one more time do?

His fingers pulled the covers back tentatively, just enough to allow him to slip beneath already warmed sheets. Tsuzuki snored on, oblivious as always, as Hisoka curled himself carefully against him.

This wasn't something he needed. He just couldn't sleep, that was all.

Like magic, the snores that had been so intrusive moments before seemed to melt away to nothing, pushed to the back of the boy's consciousness as he relaxed into the warmth of his partner's body. It would be so easy to fall asleep, almost as if that minor annoyance had disappeared entirely. As if...

... they had stopped. And there was something else, too... something he hadn't noticed because his barriers were up. A quiet flurry of emotions were making their way through his partner's mind.

An arm slipped around his waist.

Hisoka had long wondered whether the positions they had found themselves in some mornings were complete happenstance. That was, he had known they weren't on his part, and thought Tsuzuki might occasionally have made some conscious decisions as well. But he hadn't asked. In point of fact, they never said anything to each other until they were both out of bed and ready to start the day.

But he had never caught Tsuzuki actually doing something before. That was the understanding between them- if you want to move, do it while the other person is asleep. So we can pretend it was an accident. So we don't have to admit anything happened.

The man had to know he was still awake.

Tsuzuki was breaking the rules.

Unable to stop himself, he lifted his head. His bedmate's eyes were open, lips curved up in a soft smile as he regarded the boy gently trapped against him.

"I missed you."

Tsuzuki was definitely breaking the rules.

Hisoka didn't answer. It wasn't that he didn't want to, exactly. Or that he didn't know what to say, exactly. It was just that he knew that speaking would break the charm, kill their already wounded contract. If he said a word, he couldn't stay. So instead he bent his head back down towards the center of Tsuzuki's chest, hiding his eyes under their fringe of lashes too dark for his honey-blonde hair.

For long minutes they just lay there, together and quiet. He tried to keep his breathing level, slowing it to a sleeping pace. Tsuzuki's palm and fingers were stroking up and down the base of his spine. Not intrusive, just thoughtful and vaguely comforting. He knew he should pull away and return to his own bed, but there was something so right about the two of them being there and finally acknowledging it, even if it was without words. He found himself letting the shields slip slightly, reveling in the waves of contentment that washed back and forth between them like a self-contained ocean.

There was a rustle of bedclothes as Tsuzuki turned his head. "Hisoka?"

"Hn?" It had slipped out entirely without thought.

"Can we sleep like this... every night?"

He could feel the blush blooming across his cheeks. "You mean on missions?"

The emotions were easy to sense now, and too painfully strong to be missed. Embarrassment. Affection. Uncertainty. Hope. "Well... But not just on missions."

His head snapped back, wide green eyes meeting softly vivid violet. The blush had probably traveled all across his pale skin by now. He couldn't mean... but that would involve... did he want them to live together, or something? Usually people who shared a bed every night... well, they did more than sleep next to each other like this. Nervously, he licked his lips. "What are you asking me for?"

Tsuzuki smiled. "Just this. I like it this way, don't you?"

Such a naive comment. Such a wealth of meaning hidden in it. It said: 'I'm not asking for anything you can't give.' It promised peace and stability and trust and so many more things Hisoka had never known. It was a pledge more serious than many wedding vows. It was a Moment of Truth. It put to rest the fear that had been within them all along, that saying anything would destroy what they both knew already existed.

Or it would, if only Hisoka could find the words to answer.

So it wasn't traditional. More importantly, it wasn't what most people would assume was going on if he agreed to this ridiculous plan. It wasn't even very practical- they'd probably drive each other mad within a week.

So, like Tsuzuki, it was insane and childish and straightforward and warmth and breath and heartbreaking innocence.

It was absolutely perfect.

He made a show of grumbling, "When we get back to Meifu, you'll be the one moving all your stuff," before tucking his head snugly under Tsuzuki's chin.

Tsuzuki faked a snore.

This is my first work of fiction in almost a year. If you've gotten here, hopefully it didn't strike you blind. I'd love any criticism you might deign to throw my way, though. Also, if any of the authors who post here would be willing to donate fanfics to the soon-to-be-open archive at my YnM site, Bleeding Moon (http://shounen-ai.org/ynm/), could you please contact me via a review or email?