Warnings: Shonen-ai (Tsuzuki x Hisoka), angst…the usual.

Spoilers: Anime, a little of the manga.

Disclaimer: Owned by Matsushita Yoko. I'm just messing around with her characters for a while.

Notes: This is a sequel to Finding a Place to Belong, so if you're really interested in reading this, please read Belong first, or I doubt this would make much sense. Also, please be patient, since it won't be getting anywhere till the end of my government exams in December. Mostly, I'll try to get a chapter up every month, but I don't think I'll be able to manage it. I might not even be able to finish it after my exams, since I'll be spending all of my time trying to get into college and the likes. Um…in short, I might fail miserably in this.

Prologue

            There was a time when he didn't know who he was, what he was, where he was. Life flashed by in monochrome, but he could never tell if it was black, white or even gray.

            Those were the colours of his world—dull, uninteresting, and dreary. Those were the colours that taught him not to care, not to love, not to trust. He couldn't care because there was no one to care for him, couldn't love because he found no one worth loving, couldn't trust because the trust of a small child was brutally broken.

            When a person could no longer care, love or trust, it meant that he could no longer feel. It didn't matter, because if he couldn't feel for himself, he felt for others. And he hated it. He hated it because the world that existed in another human's mind was always colourful, and those colours shattered the peace of his cocoon. They reminded him of his insignificance. They told him the truth that he had known all along, but simply didn't want to admit.

            They told him that he should never have been born, because his world had no colours.

            And everybody should have colours in their minds.

***

            Then someone came along, and that someone started adding the colours to the shades of black, white, and gray. First came the light, hesitant dabs of yellow, then came the melancholic blue, followed by the comfort of a soothing green. 

            Soon the colours evolved into a confusing blend, just like an abstract piece of art where the artist would strew the canvas with every colour imaginable, and the onlooker could never tell if the picture he was looking at was the sea, the sky or the earth.

            It came to the point where the canvas itself did not know if it was supposed to be scarlet, mauve, or cerulean.

            In the end, only the artist himself knew what his work was supposed to be, because he was the one that gave a blank canvas the colours that made it a work of art.

            It was what he was waiting for all along. He was the blank canvas, and he simply hoped that someone would be the artist that painted the colours.

            He wanted that someone to tell him who he was, because only the artist would understand the colours of his making.

            That someone did.

            And when he knew who he was, he knew that he deserved to be in this world as well.

            Because he now had colours.

            Then he didn't understand, couldn't understand…

            Why did someone have to destroy a painting that was already finished? Why did someone have to ruin the work of another?

            He asked the artist, and the artist couldn't give him an answer.

            Instead, the artist cried, and he knew he would never ask that question again, because he didn't want to see that person cry.

            But it didn't stop him from wanting to know why.

***

            "Why…" Hisoka asked softly of the air.

            The person next to him stirred from his seat and looked at him in mild curiosity. "Why what?"

            Hisoka shook his head and turned away. "Nothing."

            The other looked disbelieving. "Really? Tell me!"

            "It's nothing, Tsuzuki." // Nothing you would ever be able to answer. //

            But every question had its answer, and he sure that there was one to his as well. He just had to search for it himself.

            For now, it was calming to lie back and let the faint tides of Tsuzuki's mental touch wash over him. It was like reaching out to warm himself by a fire, just enjoying the innocent warmth and companionship the other offered. It was all he wanted—to simply not have to face being alone. He didn't need anyone to tell him that it wasn't much of a demand; he knew it wasn't. It was what every child would have, what every normal human would own. And because he wasn't normal, he didn't have it; because he wasn't just any child, he didn't own it.

            Now he has it, but it would not last. If he cried for what he could not get, it would not be out of sorrow or grief, although he would feel those as keenly as any emotion he had ever experienced. No, if he cried, it would be because of the sheer anger and hatred, the utter resentment that he felt at the whole unfairness of it.

            And he cried tears of fury.

            "Hisoka?" Warm arms wrapped themselves around him, and soft words that meant nothing and everything soothed away his tears. Worry and anxiety seeped into his being without being intrusive like everything else he felt. Those emotions melded into his soul as part of his own, and the tears slowly ceased. The feelings that would normally hurt had they come from another didn't--they offered comfort. The touches that he would have rejected were instead accepted gladly, purely because they came from him--Tsuzuki and no one else. 

            Tsuzuki cried too, but for different reasons. His tears were mostly tears of grief, and those tears weren't so easily placated. If Hisoka leaned against him and gave him the silent reassurance they constantly gave each other, it might or might not stop the tears. Sometimes Tsuzuki would cry himself to sleep, or sometimes Hisoka would find himself waking up to what would seem like any other ordinary day, the cheerful sound of Tsuzuki's voice, the enticing aroma of coffee…

            But he only had to close his eyes, and he would see the tears, the anguish, and then the emotions from yesterday would once again flood his mind and everything would shatter.

            His own tears resembled something more alike to a child's tantrum, much as he hated to admit it. It was like having something he had always wanted in his grasp…only to have it snatched away again. He might kick and scream for it, but he was never going to get it back. So he cried instead at his own inability and helplessness and worked himself up into a frenzy enough to do murder.

            Anger and grief, acceptance and denial, guilt and accusation. Two people who were different in almost every way, yet found mutual consolation in being with each other.

            If only this could last.

            At the slight tingling that always signaled the beginning of the pain and agony, he lifted his arms, letting the long sleeves fall back to reveal the curses that were eternally etched into his skin. His movements were almost impassionate; something that was done so frequently until he no longer felt the importance of it. To him, nothing mattered anymore. If he had to endure this for another three years, so be it. It was a small price; a token he had to give to experience what he had never experienced in life.

            There was no such thing as perfection in this dark world, and his world was marred by the shadows of another's lust.

            As curse scars blazed to life and mind-numbing pain commenced, he finally understood. Amidst fresh tears, the answer to his question finally came.

            Why did someone have to destroy a painting that was already finished?

            Because that painting was flawed.

            He was that painting.

            And the curse upon him was proof of his imperfection.

***

            If time was never enough for him, it flies when his days passed by in hazy catches of red and black. He would fall asleep to the soft morning rays, only to open his eyes to the reddish pink hues of sunset. And he would find himself screaming inwardly at the loss of yet another precious day.

            He didn't need to count the days to know that he didn't have many left. If he did, he would know that he had half a year.

            All he had to do was reach out, and he could feel the warmth that was Tsuzuki under the tips of his finger, feel the essence of the other's existence.

            It was always that way between them--just the hesitant, tentative physical touches, sometimes the slight slivers of mental exploration that slipped past their senses. It was never anything more, and neither asked for more. It was everything they needed, and everything they wanted.

            Right now, he only let his finger trail down Tsuzuki's cheek before quickly withdrawing that hand. He wasn't afraid; it was because he wasn't completely accustomed to displaying affection in any way, not even with Tsuzuki. He knew that he wasn't the most open of people, and given the choice, he was more apt to spend his time in silent brooding than in conversation. If words were hard for him, touches were even more of a challenge.

            He didn't know the meaning of touches, did not know if a brush against the forehead was supposed to signify concern or something else, and he found it strangely fascinating when Tsuzuki started teaching him. Sometimes it was just a simple gesture of pushing back the stray strands of hair from his forehead, and Tsuzuki would laugh in their minds and told him that it meant care and affection. If it was the outwardly unintentional grasping of hands, he would be told that it symbolized a strong liking.

            Sometimes, but very rarely, those touches would be something more. At times it would be in the way of a goodnight kiss on the forehead, or even the quick brush of lips. It was always fast, and it had no other purpose than that of showing love.

            Tsuzuki was always straightforward and naïve when it came to displaying his emotions, and he had an innocent air around him that put Hisoka at ease. Slowly, yet inexorably, he opened a new world to Hisoka's eyes, and that world had everything his own world lacked.

            Tsuzuki was many things, but among those things, he was also a teacher.

            He became Hisoka's teacher, and Hisoka knew that even within the short span of time after they first met, he had already taught him more than he had learned in his sixteen years of life.

            Knowledge was always judged by its usefulness, and the knowledge that Tsuzuki gave him turned out to be what he needed most, so he felt that Tsuzuki was the most important teacher he ever had—or perhaps he could name Tsuzuki his one and only teacher, because no one else could teach him what Tsuzuki had.

            Tsuzuki caught his hand as it withdrew and held it against his cheek. Neither said anything, but the silence itself was already enough to ask more than needed. The curses were intended to bring pain, and Tsuzuki knew the depth of its effects almost as well as Hisoka himself. Anybody else would have asked if he was all right, if he still hurt, but Tsuzuki didn't, because he knew everything.

            So it was always this way, just silent concern without words, because this was a time when both of them did not know what words to say, when both were afraid that any word spoken would ruin that delicate balance; that balance between blatant denial and admittance.

            He did not know what Tsuzuki was to him, because Tsuzuki seemed to be everything. He was a parent, an elder sibling, a friend, a partner, a mentor…

            …and much, much more.

            How could one single person play every single role in his life?

            Was it right for him to need Tsuzuki for everything?  

            A small voice in his mind would always whisper that what he was doing was wrong, that it was foolish to entrust everything he had in one person, but he couldn't bring himself to care anymore.

            If finding the one person in the world who loved him was wrong, he didn't know what was right anymore.

            There were times when his mind would stray to idle fantasies, where he wondered what would happen if that fateful night hadn't happened, if he hadn't died…

            …hadn't met Tsuzuki.

            There were so many possibilities, and he could never judge which was the most likely to happen. But he did know…

            If he hadn't died, he wouldn't be as happy.

            Maybe happy wasn't exactly the correct word to use, since they were still a long way from achieving happiness, but he did know that he would never be as…

            …as satisfied.

            If he laid his head on Tsuzuki's chest, he could hear the soft beating of the other's heart; feel the steady rise and fall of his chest. And he marveled at the life that Tsuzuki possessed.

            // Why…what…//

            Why did he trust Tsuzuki so, and what was Tsuzuki to him?

            Everything. Tsuzuki was everything to him, because he had no one else.

            He trusted him, because…

            He loved him, loved him in a way he never felt for anyone else, loved him so that he would willing give everything he had to this one person.

            Raising his head a little, he gently pressed a soft kiss on Tsuzuki's forehead, mimicking the same gesture that Tsuzuki always used on him. Faint surprise registered in the tender presence in his mind that was Tsuzuki, and he found the almost childish glee the other felt amusing. What he had just done…it was something he had never done before.

            He didn't know that Tsuzuki would like something like that so much.

            Tsuzuki smiled, and softly whispered, "Good night." And he returned the kiss.

            // Good night. //

            Just like that, and it was everything to them.

            And Hisoka was content.

***

-- Feedback, of course, is extremely appreciated. Praise would be nice, but criticisms would be worshipped. (bows deeply) And this is totally random, but I would be very happy if you wished me luck in my exams as well (I know I'm insane, but I'm very in need of encouragement right now).