-- CENSORED ED. The uncensored ed is at my site or the MuxTsu ML, for more info check out the author's notes at the bottom, ok?!
standard disclaimer applied.
BIG thanks to Tiggy Malvern for super-dope beta skills and patience. Arigatou nya! *glomps*

* * * * *

Cold Flower
Part 7

Tsuzuki tightened the belt of his dark coat as they stepped out of the house. The wind was cold today, and he couldn't wait to slide into the passenger seat. It was almost mid afternoon and he remembered that he hadn't even eaten breakfast yet. But somehow he didn't feel hungry any more; that was something that rarely happened.

Muraki didn't say anything about what had happened between them in the bedroom. He didn't even make any comments about the clothes Tsuzuki had chosen for the lunch, unlike the other night when they went to the birthday party. Somehow, the situation felt like it was killing him.

When they finally got inside the car, Muraki turned on the radio to listen the news. Again, Tsuzuki felt that feeling of loneliness creeping up inside him; as if Muraki was drowning himself inside his own world and leaving him behind. And why did he feel like he was the bad guy in this game? That was supposed to be Muraki's role. And now, because he called Hisoka's name when they were kissing -- correction, Muraki was the one who kissed him -- he was being treated like he was the one to blame.

But if Muraki thought he was going to apologize for it, well, he was so damn wrong!

Tsuzuki leaned back in his seat and started to close his eyes. If Muraki had his own life, so did he, and he wasn't going to let Muraki intimidate him. So why the hell was he feeling so shitty?

"Tsuzuki-san, here we are."

Tsuzuki opened his eyes surprised at his own relief that Muraki had started talking to him again. What the hell was he thinking?!

The car was parked in front of a big house, bounded by wall; funny how he hadn't noticed the wall last night when they came to the party. There were too many things on his mind last night perhaps; or maybe he just didn't care...

Muraki stepped out of the car and he followed. A woman was waiting for them by the front door; it looked like she was a servant in the house. She bowed politely and opened the door for the two of them.

"Kenji-sama and Mayuko-sama are waiting for you in the tea room, sensei." The servant smiled politely; she seemed pretty familiar with Muraki and once again Tsuzuki found himself trying to guess what Muraki's business with the family was. He knew that Muraki knew some important people in Japan, but he was still curious about his dealings with the Matsuoka family.

But the doctor just smiled at her and turned back to Tsuzuki who was still standing by the door with an assessing look on his face.

"Tsuzuki-san? Are you going to wait there all day?" he asked incredulously and then smiled at him; his hand reached out for Tsuzuki to hold. The shinigami slapped the hand away and walked beside the silver-haired man to the so called tea-room.

"Muraki." A man stood up from the sofa as they entered the room, smiled politely at the doctor and then turned to Tsuzuki, "...and nice to see you again, Tsuzuki-san."

Tsuzuki just nodded; the truth was he didn't even remember this man named Matsuoka Kenji from last night. Muraki must have introduced them at the party, but his mind wasn't exactly in place yesterday.

A woman appeared from another door, smiling warmly at Tsuzuki. "Ah, Muraki-san! You've brought Tsuzuki-san with you." She walked straight to Tsuzuki. "Are you feeling any better, Tsuzuki-san? You didn't look too good last night. I was worried when Muraki said that you were ill so you had to go home early..."

"I'm fine, thank you for your concern..." Tsuzuki smiled back. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he did vaguely remember this woman, the lady of the house who had treated him so kindly last night.

The woman seemed delighted by the answer. Tsuzuki turned to see Muraki and found the doctor smiling at him, "Tsuzuki is much better this morning, am I right, Tsuzuki-san?"

The violet-eyed man was taken aback, but only nodded for an answer. The next thing he knew the woman took him by the arm and guided him to the next room. "You must be hungry, Tsuzuki. Let's have lunch now, that's why we are here in the first place." She chuckled lightly; Tsuzuki wondered if the woman could read his mind.

The lunch went smoothly and no one, except Muraki, seemed to notice that he ate a double portion of the dessert. His appetite was back, which was a good start. Afterwards, Muraki engaged in a conversation with Matsuoka Kenji while Tsuzuki decided to follow Mayuko to her antique collection room. For some reason, he didn't want to go near the doctor for a while.

"Tsuzuki-san, I hear that you're staying at Muraki-san's place for a few days. Are you a good friend of his?" Mayuko started as they entered the room, "...I was wondering why he doesn't come here with Ukyou-san."

"Eh?" Tsuzuki was startled and then remembered. Ukyou must be the name of Muraki's fiancée. The Matsuokas were good friends of Muraki's, so it wouldn't be a surprise if Mayuko knew about Muraki's relationship. "I don't know either," he decided to answer.

Mayuko smiled. "You must be so special, ne?" she sighed and then turned to face him. "I don't really know about her either. Did you know that their engagement was arranged by the families?"

Tsuzuki didn't know and didn't want to know; he didn't even understand why he was having this conversation with Matsuoka Mayuko. Did she think that he had some kind of intimate relationship with Muraki?

"I didn't know that..." Tsuzuki only shrugged and then followed her to the nearest shelf in the room. He saw porcelain dolls lined up on the glass shelf; all of them dressed in luxurious dresses, either western style or Japanese traditional wardrobe. "These are beautiful."

The woman tilted her head slightly, eyeing one of the dolls on the shelf. "Muraki-san was the one who made me interested in antique dolls. And he didn't even know it," she chuckled. "Did you ever have the chance to see Muraki's collection back in Tokyo?"

"No," the shinigami answered; he was astounded himself by what Mayuko had said.

"When I was still a little girl, my father took me to the Muraki family house. And then I met Muraki Kazutaka for the first time." She smiled slightly. "He didn't say anything to me though, just stood there with a doll in his arms, looking really... strange."

Tsuzuki lifted one eyebrow but didn't say a word, letting the woman to continue. "I learned that he had this collection of porcelain dolls, all of them are beautiful. I was amazed by each of them, and as soon as I reached home, I begged my father to buy me one." She giggled and took one doll from the shelf, showing it to Tsuzuki. "This one is almost identical to the one I saw Muraki-san holding that day; this one is my favorite."

The violet-eyed man just stared incredulously at the doll's face. He'd never really been interested in dolls; sometimes they even scared him. The doll in his hands had long blonde hair, was dressed in a beautiful gown, and had a pair of blue eyes. And somehow, she looked kind of sad.

"She was the first in my collection," Mayuko said. "My mother never really like the idea of me collecting these dolls. She said that it would made me look like I was lonely, just like Muraki."

The shinigami froze at the words, lifting his head to see Mayuko's eyes filled with remorse. "What do you mean?"

"Like I said before, I don't really know Muraki... But I've always known that he was lonely. His father was always busy with work, and his mother was rather strange, at least that's what my mother had told me." She shrugged and looked away. "I went to France afterwards, and when I got back here, everything had changed. I heard that all his family had died, and that he had became a doctor. No surprise there, because all the men in his family were doctors."

Tsuzuki bit his bottom lip as he stared at the doll's eyes; the color of blue filled his vision. He wondered what Mayuko and Muraki saw in those marble eyes. So, Muraki was indeed lonely, at least he used to be. It was quite scary for him to drown this much in the doctor's life, just from a simple conversation with a woman he barely knew. So was the Muraki he saw last night the same man Mayuko had told him about just now? The lonely little Muraki Kazutaka who held the doll in his arms?

"Mayuko."

Tsuzuki turned his head to the door and saw a man standing there. He was tall with dark eyes, and would be considered handsome enough by most girls. He was probably in his early thirties and somehow reminded him of Muraki. Frowning slightly, Tsuzuki knew that he didn't like this man.

Mayuko seemed to recognize the stranger dressed in an extravagant suit. "Shuji," She smiled at the man and gave him a hug, turning to Tsuzuki afterwards. "Tsuzuki-san, this is my brother in law, Makishima Shuji. He just got here this morning..."

The man called Shuji smiled unpleasantly at Tsuzuki. "Nice to meet you, Tsuzuki..." He caught Tsuzuki's hand and shook it rather too long.

The shinigami pulled his hand away after a long minute. "Nice to meet you too," he said with a dry smile, knowing that it was a pure lie. He didn't like the way the man was staring at him, studying every inch of his body with his eyes.

"If I'd known you were coming to lunch, I'd have spent more time at home instead of taking a walk around town," Shuji said to the violet-eyed man with a low tone that Tsuzuki found rather annoying.

"Now, now, Shuji..." Mayuko stepped between the two. "Tsuzuki came with Muraki-sensei; I'm sure you've met him with Kenji outside, ne?"

Tsuzuki noticed the lady emphasized the word 'with' as she spoke, and guessed what she was really trying to hint to her brother in law. Shuji smiled, nodding as he did so and took a step back, away from Tsuzuki. "Oh yes, I've met Muraki. He's alone now, though. Kenji received a phone call."

"Ah!" Mayuko gasped. "I should see Muraki now then. Mm, it won't do to leave a guest alone."

Tsuzuki didn't want to see Muraki just yet, but neither did he want to be left alone with Shuji. He stepped forward to follow Mayuko towards the door, but stopped when Shuji suddenly stepped in front of him. The shinigami looked up and smiled slightly. "Uhm, I have to go..."

"Don't worry, Tsuzuki-san. I'll accompany you, ne?"

"Eh, Mayuko-san." Tsuzuki didn't want to sound too panicked as he called after his host, but apparently she didn't hear him and disappeared through the door. "Excuse me, I have to see Muraki." It was the only thing he could think of to get away from this situation. But the man standing before him didn't move even an inch.

Tsuzuki walked around the man, but Shuji's hand stopped him, grabbing him by the arm. "Now, Tsuzuki-san. You're not afraid of me, right?"

"Let me go." Tsuzuki glared at his captor, trying to sound convincing with his threat. But he knew that it was useless.

* * * * *

Muraki eyed the door where his host had disappeared. Matsuoka seemed to be engaged in a long conversation on the phone; and from the looks of it, he could tell that it was probably a secret matter. Matsuoka had closed the door as soon as he took the call, and hadn't come out since. The doctor sighed, thinking to find his shinigami and take him home instead of wasting his time in the Matsuoka residence. There was nothing to do here after the lunch anyway, although he would like to speak to Mayuko and find out what the woman had been so concerned about. He still couldn't forget how she'd sounded on the phone that morning. She needed something from him, and it was something important.

"Muraki-san."

Muraki turned his head in the direction the voice had came from and saw Mayuko jogging towards him, a pale expression on her face. "I need to talk to you..."

Muraki smiled; he had guessed right. It was Mayuko who had invited him and Tsuzuki here instead of Matsuoka Kenji. "Of course, Mayuko-san. I'll be glad to hear your problem..."

The woman smiled bittersweetly, "Can you come with me to the balcony..."

He nodded and followed her outside; Mayuko closed the glass door behind them as soon as they were alone. Her face looked rather nervous as she turned her face to Muraki. "It's about Kenji..."

The doctor frowned on hearing the name, "Yes?"

"I think... I think..." Mayuko stuttered, her hands trembling as she reached the edge of the balcony, "I think he's trying to kill me."

Muraki's brow furrowed. He tipped his glasses gently, trying to understand the whole story. "And why do you think that, Mayuko-san?"

"I... I heard him talking on the phone... before the birthday party... I think… I think he's asking someone to kill me..." She finished the words with tears, biting her bottom lip. "I don't know what to do..."

To tell the truth, he wasn't so surprised to hear it. The motive was clear enough. It was an old rumor that Matsuoka Kenji had married the woman for her money; and it seemed now he had all he wanted, he was going to get rid of the woman. He just hadn't expected him to ask someone to kill her. Mayuko was deadly in love with him; she would probably give him everything he wanted.

Although he couldn't stop thinking how careless it was for Matsuoka to let his wife overhear the conversation.

"But that's not the only reason why, Muraki-san..." Mayuko said again between her tears. "I know that... he has another woman... it's been almost two years since they got together... and still..."

"Mayuko-san..." Muraki touched the woman on the shoulder. "Have you tried to talk about this to anyone else? About the woman, I mean..."

She shook her head, "I can't. I... I can't trust anyone... anyone but you... He might leave me if he knew... We've been married for so long but we still haven't had children. He might have used that as the excuse to leave me... But now... he wants to kill me... I..."

Muraki nodded, releasing the woman and stood beside her. "You want me to help you?"

"The woman came to this town yesterday," Mayuko said suddenly, not exactly answering. "Kenji left the house after all the guests went home, to see her. I followed him... and I saw them..." She began to cry again and Muraki handed her his handkerchief.

"And the person he contacted to uhm-- kill you..." Muraki tilted his head. "Do you know who that person is, then..."

"No, but I can guess... Muraki..." Mayuko turned to him once again and clutched his arms. "You can do something, right? You can help me. I know you can, that's why I... I..."

Muraki smiled and let her go, "We'll see about that, Mayuko-san." He turned back and opened the glass door, stepping into the room with Mayuko following behind. "I have to go home now. Can you tell me where Tsuzuki is?"

"Oh," Mayuko was startled, looking like she'd only just remembered the other man. "I left him in the collection room with Shuji!"

The doctor's eyebrows shot up. "Makishima Shuji?" He growled and almost hurriedly walked to the collection room.

* * * * *

"Why are you avoiding me, Tsuzuki?" Shuji followed the shinigami as he walked to the glass cabinet, putting aside the doll in his hand. "I've told you, you don't have to be scared..."

Tsuzuki shot him a glare, not trying to hide his dislike for the other. "I'm sorry, Makishima-san..."

"Shuji," the man corrected, reaching for Tsuzuki's hand and squeezing it gently. "You can call me Shuji."

The shinigami hissed as he pulled away his hand. "I really have to go now, if you don't mind, I--"

"I do mind," Shuji stopped Tsuzuki's retreat and caught his wrist, spun him until their faces were merely inches apart. Tsuzuki was having déjà vu -- not a good one -- in that position and tried to struggle free from the other's arms. But Shuji was stronger than he had thought. All his efforts to get away were futile, and he started to feel the man's hand roaming his back. Something he didn't like at all.

"Let me go!" Tsuzuki said harshly. "What do you think you're doing?!"

The man chuckled lightly, squeezing him more tightly. "Are you playing hard to get now, Tsuzuki-san...?! I know that you're one of Muraki's toys, aren't you?! Don't worry... I can be better than he is... You won't be disappointed..."

By that point, the shinigami was really angry. He elbowed the other man hard and saw Shuji wince slightly, before grabbing him back more possessively. "So you like to play rough, do you? Is that how Muraki treated you, hmm? I can do that too... or do you want me to take you slowly, hmm?"

Tsuzuki's eyes shifted; he braced his feet hard but he couldn't do more than that. Both his wrists were locked in a tight grip, and he didn't like the feeling of the hand starting to slide under his jacket now. Should he scream for help? Or even better, maybe he could use his fuda instead...

But the door opened before he had the chance to do anything. Shuji released him almost reluctantly and Tsuzuki took a few steps back, not wanting the man to be near him ever again. He felt glad that he'd been rescued, but not for long once he saw that it was Muraki who had stepped into the room.

The doctor smiled at him; his visible eye narrowed slightly as he studied the shinigami's rumpled clothes. And then he turned his face to Shuji, who looked rather disappointed at his arrival.

"I hope he didn't do anything improper to you, Tsuzuki-san." Muraki's voice flat and low.

Tsuzuki smoothed his clothes but didn't answer the question. Shuji glared at the doctor and said mockingly, "Why are you so mad, Muraki? It's not like he's so special. Why don't you let an old friend have some fun, ne?"

"I must warn you, Makishima-san." Muraki smiled dangerously; his eyes brightened with something Tsuzuki didn't like at all. "He is mine and you are not my friend. Now, Tsuzuki-san..." He walked closer to Tsuzuki and stretched his hand towards the shinigami, smiling warmly, "...let's go home, ne? We've wasted our time here..."

Hesitantly, Tsuzuki took the hand. Only this one time, he made a note to himself, and followed the doctor's steps. As they walked past Makishima Shuji, Tsuzuki was certain that he heard the doctor whisper to the man with a warning tone in his low voice,

"If you ever touch him again, I'll kill you."

And Tsuzuki knew that Muraki wasn't just joking around.

* * * * *

"I am not yours," Tsuzuki said as soon as they walked out of the room, slapping Muraki's hand away. The doctor only chortled at the statement, taking Tsuzuki's hand in his once again. "So would you prefer to be Makishima's instead?"

The shinigami snorted. "You know that is not what I'm talking about."

"Ah, no one can escape your charm, Tsuzuki-san," Muraki commented, lacing their fingers together. "I guess I'll consider myself lucky then, ne?"

They stopped in the living room and Tsuzuki felt the doctor let go of his hand. He looked up and saw the lady of the house waiting for them there. She smiled at him and then stared meaningfully at Muraki.

"Are you leaving already?" She sounded a little disappointed; her eyes looked as if she'd been crying.

Muraki smiled. "It was nice to be invited here today, Mayuko. But it's getting late now, and we really have to get back."

"Thank you for coming," Mayuko said again and then added, "...and thank you for everything."

Tsuzuki shook the woman's hand and followed Muraki to the door, still turning his head in the woman's direction. He thought he saw tears flowing down the woman's cheeks as they left the door. So he was right, Mayuko had been crying. But all those thoughts left him as he saw Shuji join her at the door to say goodbye to them. Tsuzuki turned his head and never looked back.

* * * * *

It was starting to drizzle as they reached the car and Tsuzuki hastily slid inside. Muraki followed him and turned on the engine. As they left the drive of the Matsuoka house, the rain started to come down harder. They were caught in traffic afterwards for almost an hour because of a car accident. Muraki said that it was probably because of the sudden rain that drivers became careless, but truthfully, Tsuzuki wasn't sure if the doctor really cared.

"Home at last..." Muraki sighed heavily as they finally reached the small house. The sky was almost dark and the weather had turned cold once again. The rain hadn't stopped, but they were lucky to have the garage so they didn't get soaked.

Tsuzuki shrugged off his jacket once he was inside the house, flopping himself onto the sofa in the living room. He could see the rain still falling heavily beyond the glass door; the backyard looked so beautiful that way, almost like a small paradise. But he knew that he was far from Eden.

"I'd better take a hot shower." Muraki stepped into the house after he locked the car away. Shrugging off his white coat, he threw the car keys onto the table in front of Tsuzuki. "You should too, Tsuzuki-san. Even shinigami can catch the flu, I think..."

The shinigami didn't have the chance to answer, as the doctor went to the bedroom and left him alone again. Well, maybe it was a good thing, Tsuzuki said to himself dimly. He still couldn't forget the tears he saw in the woman's eyes as they left the house; he also couldn't forget that bastard Makishima Shuji molesting him in the collection room.

Geh! He really didn't want to remember that part...

Tsuzuki stood up and walked around the living room, studying it for the first time. He walked to the small fireplace, noticing something placed on top of it. He gasped as his hand reached for the porcelain doll; his finger traced the contour of her face. Her cheeks were cold, and so were her deep blue eyes. And then he remembered what Mayuko had told him, about the Muraki she met a long time ago. The lonely Muraki, holding a porcelain doll in his arms.

Why do you have to care?!

He put the doll back as he heard the rustling sound from the doorway. Muraki had finished his bath and wore the white bathrobe Tsuzuki had seen this morning. He felt his stomach roll at the sudden memory of this morning's incident, and he ran to the bathroom without paying further intention to the doctor, slamming the door behind him.

He didn't even know what he wanted right now. One thing for sure was that he wanted to get back to Meifuu and see his friends again. He wanted to see if Hisoka was all right now, wanted to make sure that he wasn't having those nightmares again. But hadn't he promised himself he wouldn't regret his decision to come to Muraki for help?! He didn't have any other choice anyway... Not if Hisoka's soul was at stake...

In the end, he only showered quickly and put his shirt and trousers back on, forgetting completely to brush his hair; it always looked messy no matter what he did. He was glad Muraki wasn't waiting for him again in the bedroom, although he knew he couldn't run away from the doctor forever. Sooner or later...

He walked to the door separating the bedroom from the living room, pushed the doorknob gently and stepped through. The room was rather dark; Tsuzuki noticed the sky had gone dark, the rain still falling heavily outside. His eyes swept the entire room and found the only source of lighting. The fireplace crackled, Muraki kneeling in front of it, starting the fire to warm the room.

The fire reflected gold upon the doctor's white shirt and trousers; and Tsuzuki was forced to step closer. Muraki noticed his presence and stretched his hand towards him, smiling gently. "Come here, Tsuzuki-san, you'll get cold..."

Tsuzuki sat in front of the fire with the doctor, not saying a single word as his eyes drifted to the fireplace. Muraki was the one who broke the silence. "The heater isn't functioning, this is the only thing I can do to warm the room."

"Ah." The violet-eyed man nodded vaguely, eyes never leaving the fire.

"I'll cook dinner," Muraki said suddenly. "Are you hungry?"

The shinigami pondered. "No."

He heard the sound of liquid being poured into a glass; Muraki put a glass of red wine in the violet-eyed man's hand. "Let's drink, Tsuzuki-san, to your health..."

Tsuzuki's mouth open and closed, eyes planted to the liquid inside his glass. If he could only get drunk before the night was over...

He swallowed the whole glass in two gulps and turned to Muraki, "One more glass..." He said it almost like a plea.

The doctor finished his own glass and refilled Tsuzuki's. The shinigami drank his wine to the last drop and once again pushed his glass towards Muraki. "Again..."

Muraki took the glass and put it away along with his own glass. Tsuzuki almost screamed in frustration at not getting what he wanted. He needed the drink, he needed to forget everything, to wash everything away. Muraki turned to face him; until then, the shinigami hadn't realized the silver-haired man wasn't wearing his glasses.

"Tsuzuki-san," he whispered thickly, hands reaching out to touch Tsuzuki's cheek. The shinigami was startled by the sudden contact, surprised because of the warmth that radiated from the other's fingers. He felt a lump in his throat, suffocating him. "Don't torture yourself with it... Just let it be..."

His eyes were burning, ready to cry. He knew that he couldn't control his emotions any longer as the doctor shifted closer and kissed his neck gently, whispering the words, "Give yourself to me willingly, and I promise you it will feel good..."

"No--" Tsuzuki's voice was swallowed by the sound of the thunder cracking the sky. He felt the mouth moving against the area between his shoulder and neck, leaving warm traces against his pulse. Skillful fingers worked to unbutton his shirt and he felt the heat of the fire beginning to flow over his skin.

Muraki pulled away just slightly, smiling at him almost sincerely before planting a kiss on his lips. For the first time, Tsuzuki tried to understand what was inside the silver eye. No, no... it couldn't be true...

I've always known that he was lonely...

He remembered the words Mayuko had spoken today; he remembered the Muraki who had stood before the glass door the other night. If he could only pity this man who had killed so many people, who had hurt innocent people...

Tsuzuki felt himself being pushed down to the rug as Muraki planted hot kisses all over his neck and down. Another peal of thunder crashed, filling the room with its lightning. His eyes saw that porcelain doll on top of the fireplace, sitting in the dark with a blank expression in her eyes.

He was lonely...

He closed his eyes as he felt his back touch the warm rug, felt Muraki's weight settle on top of him. His hands were trapped in a strong grip, but he had no thoughts of running away. His body strained in fear, sweat forming on his forehead, while his heart beat faster every minute.

"Tsuzuki-san." A whisper and then a kiss followed. The shinigami opened his eyes and saw Muraki smiling in triumph. "You're finally mine, ne?"

A low chuckle hovered in his ear; lustful kisses were planted on the side of his neck and Tsuzuki started to cry. He knew that this time, Muraki was right.

-tbc-

* * * * *

notes: go to my site for the uncensored edition (apparently I can't write the direct address because FFnet won't allow it *cries* it's sorta missing in the preview, you know what I mean...). I'm trying to play by the rules that there aren't suppose to be any lemon content in FFnet *snerk* (not because the admin erased 2 of my fics because of that, ack!). For you who don't want to read the lemon part you could skip it. It won't change the story too much, I think..

Leave a review! here, there, anywhere I can see it so I know what you think, ok?! Thank you reviewers for being so kind with me and tolerated my mistakes and madness, if you spotted it... *hugs*

- kaz misaki
www.geocities.com/aosou23/