AN:         Okay.  I've seen the anime and read to the end of the fourth volume for the manga.  I like the manga a lot better, so I'm basing this off of the first four volumes, and everything else is AU.  In other words, Watari's never seen Muraki before.  Once we've established that, we'll all be fine.  Also, I'm taking liberties with Watari's character, because I don't know all that much about it.  If you have any complaints, send me a nice long review.

Also, this was inspired by an RP I had, so yes… just bear with me.  I think it'll be good.

Pairings: Muraki/Watari, mentions of Tsuzuki/Hisoka, possibly Tatsumi/Watari later on. 

Prologue:  A Chance Encounter

It was sad, in his opinion, for someone to be sitting alone in a bar getting pleasantly plastered on sake on a Friday night, but that's exactly what he was doing.  Dressed in something other than a lab coat for once, Yutaka Watari said by himself at a small corner table in a dimly lit bar.  His long blond hair was tied back in a tighter ponytail than he normally wore, but, as usual, the shorter strands at the front had gotten loose.  Raising a delicate hand, he brushed the hair off of his face and studied the people in the bar through golden eyes.

                It was interesting, how there conversations all seemed to be variations of the same themes.  How rare it was for them to talk, or even think, about anything other than what directly affected them.  Though they occasionally dwelled in the past of showed foresight, humans lived, predominantly in the present, living each moment regardless of the consequences.

                Smiling sadly, the scientist swirled the sake in his cup.  He envied humans; envied the uncertainty in their lives.  His own past held failure, his present held disappointment, and his future held death and repetition.  Nothing more remained for Yutaka Watari.

                Taking another sip, Watari closed his eyes and sighed softly.  He was lonely, plain and simple.  Everyone had priorities, and things to keep them occupied. 

For Tatsumi, there was money.  It was always about money.  Money came before everything for the Shadow Master, even friendship. 

Teresuma and Wakaba had their odd partnership, as strange as it was.  No one else could be paired with Teresuma, so they would always have the other's strength and friendship.

And then there was Tsuzuki.  The violent-eyed Shinigami had his sweets, his friends, and his admirers.  Watari had never envied than when Tsu was in a room, he was the centre of attention.  Everyone was drawn to the man.  As large a blessing as it seemed, Tsu attracted his fair share of psychopaths.  Take Muraki for example.  Until recently, the blond never would have considered switching places with Tsuzuki; he was the other man's best friend.  What more did he need?

But then Hisoka came along.  As much as he loved and cared for the boy, he resented him.  Tsuzuki and Hisoka had each other now.  They didn't need anyone else, and Watari was jealous of that, not because he wanted Tsuzuki, but because he had lost his best friend to Hisoka.  Also, he wanted someone to love him like that, and always be there for him.  But who would ever care for a crazy, ugly mad scientist?

He slumped into his chair a little.  What did he have?  His research?  Fine companion that made late at night.  It was much the same with 003.  As much as he adored his pet, no matter how he talked to it, the owl couldn't respond.

Setting the cup down, Watari buried his face in his hands and let out a quiet sob.  He knew he shouldn't drink at times like this.  It only served to make him more upset.

He didn't move when he felt a firm hand on his shoulder.  He was too deep in his own thoughts to notice.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" came a deep, gentle voice.

Not looking up, the blond Shinigami shook his head, though he couldn't understand why someone would want to.  There were plenty of other, empty, tables, closer to the bar and to other, more sociable, people.

After a long period of silence in which Watari forgot he was no longer alone, the man sitting across from him spoke again, the barest hint of amusement in his voice.   "It's a shame for someone as beautiful as yourself to be sitting alone tonight."

Watari jerked his head up, startled out of his thoughts, more shocked at being spoken to than the man's words, because they hadn't registered.  When it dawned on him what the other had said, his cheeks reddened and a look of incomprehension covered his face.  No one had ever complimented him, let alone a fellow man.

"I… What?" he uttered out stupidly.

The man, with beautiful silver hair, pale skin and blue eyes didn't answer him, instead giving him a charming smile and producing a single violet rose apparently out of thin air.  Slowly reaching forward, he gently placed the flower behind Watari's ear.  His hand lingered there for a moment, fingering some loose strands of hair, before drawing back.  "It contrasts your eyes," the man commented.

Watari stared at the man for what seemed like an eternity.  He didn't know how to respond.  He'd never gotten a flower from someone else, and the gesture seemed far to intimate.  He raised one hand to finger it, all the while looking into the other's blue eyes.

Another smile from the silver haired man left Watari slightly breathless, and the man's words left him dumfounded.  "I've never seen anyone quite like you.  Your beauty astounds me.  What is your name?"

At a loss for words, the blond scientist could only gape at the other man.  He then suddenly figured out what was going on.  No one would ever call him beautiful.  Ever.  He let out a bitter laugh, standing up from the table.

"Its this your idea of a sick joke?" he hissed at the other man.

The silver haired man looked genuinely shocked and offended.  He stood up as well and headed over to watari, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder.  His eyes were almost pleading.  "I could never mock you.  You captivate me.  Please believe me."

Eyeing the other, Watari let himself be drawn back into his seat.  The silver haired man followed suit, taking a chair closer to Watari. Once seated, the man reached up to tuck the loose strands of blond hair behind the scientist's ear.  His fingers then gently traced along Watari's jaw.

"Please, tell me your name," the man begged.  "I want to get to know you better."

He wasn't sure if he wanted to give into the man's pleas.  The man was a human, and even if there was anything between them, it could never last.  Against his better judgement, he gave in, opening himself for disappointment.  "Yutaka Watari…"  He was just so lonely.

Disappointment came crashing down.

The man smiled triumphantly, and took the blond's hand in his own.  "Watari-san.  Such a beautiful name.  You may call me Muraki."

Immediately Watari jerked his hand out of the other's and stood so quickly his chair toppled over with a loud clatter.  Eyes wide with shock, he stared unseeingly at the silver haired man.  He didn't notice, but everyone in the bar was staring in their direction, and Muraki was looking at him in bewilderment.

"Watari-san?" Muraki asked tentatively, standing up as well.  "Is everything alright?"  The doctor had no idea as to Watari's identity.

Looking frantically for the door, Watari gave a quick bow, said, "I have to go now," and bolted.  He was going to throw up if he didn't get out of there.

Muraki ran out the door after him, but he was too late to catch the shinigami before he'd disappeared back to Eman-cho.

.-~+~*~+~-.

Once in the safety of his own lab, Watari placed his head between his knees and sobbed.  He was such an idiot!  Being approached and wooed so easily by the man who had murdered Hisoka and tormented Tsuzuki.  He was such a fool!  It was almost sickening to think of what had just happened.  He used to pride himself on being an excellent judge of character, but obviously not.  He was a failure.  That was all there was to it.  He'd been a failure in life, so it would only follow that he was a failure in death as well.

After he'd finished crying, he dried his eyes on his sleeves a little, but couldn't bring himself to move.  Given the chance, he would have remained there for the rest of his life.  He would have the opportunity to mope and berate himself.

He wasn't given the chance, however.  Tatsumi opened the door without so much as knocking and poked his head inside.  "Oi, Watari.  I was wondering if you'd finished that analysis I asked you for?"

Feeling as though the only time Tatsumi saw him was when he needed something, Watari pointed numbly towards a stack of papers sitting on the cluttered desk.

"Thank you…" Tatsumi said, and then after a pause he added cheerfully, "You look tired.  You should go home and sleep."

The second the secretary turned to leave, Watari was throwing a beaker filled with only the gods knew what at him.  It came to a shattering halt against the door just as it closed, the contents and glass fragments flying in all directions.

Tatsumi thought he needed sleep.  Tatsumi always thought he needed sleep.  Watari's moods were always brought on by exhaustion.  It couldn't be that he was upset, confused, lonely, or hurt.  Oh no.  You have to have feelings to be hurt, and everyone knows that Yutaka Watari doesn't have feelings.

Grabbing another container, he hurled it with more force into the door, and it too shattered.  Surprised by how satisfying it was, he threw another, and then another, until in an instant, he was releasing a surge of power even he didn't know he was capable of, destroying completely everything in the room.

Once finished, he was left alone in the room sobbing in the centre of the wreckage he had created, feeling more empty and alone than ever before.

.-~+~*~+~-.

Hisoka was on his way to discuss something with Tsuzuki when he ran into Watari in the hallway.  The first thing he noticed was that something was… 'off' with the man.  The blond was obviously bent on getting somewhere, and didn't even bother acknowledging the boy as he approached.

The gently brushed shoulders as they caught up, and in that brief instant, Hisoka was bombarded by the normally guarded scientist's emotions, and they frightened him.

Watari headed around a corner, but instead of following him the young Shinigami headed towards the lab.  The older man hadn't even bothered to close the door, and upon looking inside, Hisoka was horrified by the mess.  It was worse than he'd ever imagined.  Even the most expensive and hard earned equipment had been damaged beyond repair, and it was no accident.

He took off in a dead run towards the chief's office.

.-~+~*~+~-.

Watari had every intention of going home, or rather going to the living space provided by to him by Eman-cho.  Previously he would have considered the lab his home, but now it looked like the site of World War Three.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, he berated himself.

He was stopped dead in his tracks the chief who was blocking the front entrance, and Hisoka who was standing behind him and off to the side.  They both stared at him as though he were a feral animal, ready to strike at any moment.

"What happened in the lab?" the chief asked kindly, though it was somewhat forced.

Watari didn't answer, his pained expression pleasing for them to simply let him leave.

The chief raised a bushy eye brow in response.  Even without Hisoka's empathy, he could tell everything wasn't fine.  "Watari?"

The scientist bit his lower lip before uttering out, "Please."  His voice was raw and almost cracking under the strain, but he'd be damned if he cried in front of the others.

Hisoka leaned forward, whispering something into the chief's ear.  He was apparently speaking of what he felt though his empathy.   The chief nodded once in reply.

"Very well, Watari.  I'm giving you two weeks of paid leave.  I seem to recall you didn't take yours last year."

Watari sighed in relief, and with a forced smile he was out the door.  He didn't have any leave from last year.  He'd used it to pay for a repair on his lab equipment.  He made a note to thank the chief once he was in better spirits… if that ever happened.

AN: Give me some feed back as to what you think so that I can know if I should write the next chapter.  Like a lot of authors, I'm not quite sure of my projects, so any feedback is great.  Tell me if you like it, hate it, and any improvements you think I should make on it.  It would make me very happy if you did.  Very happy indeed.

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