Hey all, here's the next chapter of my first-ever fic, 'Promise'... hope you enjoy it! I beg of you to please review my fics, I fear that without constant reviews, I may lose the will to continue writing… But for now, please enjoy Chapter 9!

Chapter 9 – Secret Gift

The middle aged man sitting not far away from the couple sipped his coffee slowly as he watched Hisoka go through his lover's wallet. He had been following them for some time now, watching their every move. He did it with such stealth that no one realized his actions at all. He brushed his silver bangs out of his eyes and tried to get a slightly better look. His target. Soon to be his. He chucked softly to himself.

"Soon, empath, very soon…" his chuckle turned into an evil smirk.

YnM

Hisoka felt a sudden chill go up his spine. Thinking it must have been his imagination, he brushed it off and ignored it. He brought his attention back to Tsuzuki's identity card. A while later, he confirmed what he knew.

"Today… is Asato's birthday," he mumbled to himself. Then why is he the one who's going out of his way to make me happy? I've got to get him something in return… but what?

He rummaged through his pockets and placed on the table everything he pulled out. Lint, a bandage (for emergencies), a hankerchief and some money that Tsuzuki gave him (just in case). He counted the money while putting everything else back inside his pockets. A relieved smile appeared on Hisoka's face. Good. I think I have enough to get him a nice present. Asato gave me this money for emergencies only, but I suppose this sort of counts as an emergency…

A minute later, a pretty waitress brought their order of pastries to the table, struggling with the overflowing tray. "Sorry.. for the.. wait.." she gasped. Hisoka smiled understandingly at her as she placed the heavily laden tray on their table with much effort. As she started to arrange the plates, she couldn't help but stare at Hisoka. Gosh, he's pretty. His partner was really good looking too.. are they a couple? –sigh- Why are all the good ones always already taken…? Speaking of which, I haven't seen his uh.. partner for a while… I wonder what happened?

Just then, Tsuzuki stumbled through the front door of the café, looking as relieved as Hisoka was. He sat in his seat across Hisoka, looking somewhat satisfied. "Much… better…" he breathed. ('OH,' the waitress thought to herself as she walked away, blushing) "Ooh! The food's here! Come on, Hisoka, lets eat!" Tsuzuki announced happily, picking up his fork.

"What?!" Hisoka asked incredulously "You just came back from having such a painful stomachache and now you're ready to give yourself another one?"

"But, Hisoka!! The food! How can I see food and not eat it?! It would be insulting the food! It would be like saying that it's not worth being eaten by me! It would-"

"Okay! Okay!" Hisoka cut Tsuzuki off "Go ahead and eat! Its not like I'm gonna stop you, just don't stuff-"

Hisoka gave up talking. Tsuzuki had already stuffed his face with what looked like half of everything he ordered, causing the young blond to sweatdrop in defeat. "There's really no controlling you when food's involved, huh?" Hisoka smiled at the hungry brunet gently while resting his chin in the palm of his hand.

"That's right!" Tsuzuki somehow managed to get the words out with his mouth full of pastries. "Well, anyway, Hisoka, don't just sit there! Eat some too! You're waaay too skinny for a normal human being.."

"Asato, don't you remember?" the young blond lowered his voice suddenly "I'm not exactly a 'normal human being'" he winked a little and smiled slightly as he watched Tsuzuki choke on his food in shock at what he had just said.

"A-ha-ha…" Tsuzuki laughed a little when he finally got over his choking fit "Yeah, well, I sorta forgot about that. Scratch that. Yup, you're right. You're not a 'normal' person. You're something much, much better," Tsuzuki flashed a smile at the now blushing blond.

"Sometimes, Asato," Hisoka replied while choosing a cream tart and placing it in his mouth "I really have no idea what goes on in your head."

"Considering what you are? That's cool." (smiles)

YnM

"I think… I need to go to the bathroom."

"Really? That's a first… I'll go with you, 'Soka. It's not good to keep it in! A healthy colon is a happy colon! Or something like that," Tsuzuki laughed sheepishly.

"Uh… yeah sure."

The couple made their way to the nearest restroom. As soon as Hisoka saw his partner disappear inside one of the restroom cubicles, he dashed out of the toilet to find a shop to buy Tsuzuki's present. Needing to use the bathroom was just an excuse to get enough time to find the man he loved a suitable gift. He found a charming little souvenir shop and entered it. The lady at the counter was a nice, smiling old woman who welcomed him into her shop.

"Hello, dear! Anything I can help you with?" she asked pleasantly with a thick Okinawan accent.

"Yes, I'm trying to find something for my uh.. friend. It's his birthday today, you see."

"From the looks of it, he seems to be closer than a friend to you, my boy," she winked as giggles followed suit.

"Ah!" Hisoka blushed to his roots "I-I suppose you're right,… Michie-san" he read her name-tag aloud.

"Oh, don't be silly, child! Call me Michie! It's cute enough with having to add –san to it and making it sound all formal!"

"Right…" Hisoka smiled at the cheerful old lady "Anyway, I can't seem to think of anything suitable enough to give my friend. He's just been so nice to me and I don't know how to repay him at all."

"Hmmm…" Michie made a thinking action "I suppose you and your friend are not from around here, are you? If you're here for vacation, why don't you get him a nice souvenir as a way to remember your time here? I could suggest some things for you if you like."

"That would be great!"

"Then it's settled! I'll find something for you if it kills me!"

"Ah, please… you don't have to go that far…"

"No worries, young man! Now, I don't suppose you have something or some sort of information that could help me to find something that suits him?"

"Well, he loves sweets, he seems to have a lot of money for some reason, he's very… loving. Ah! He also gave me this for my birthday," Hisoka revealed as he showed Michie the four-leaved clover necklace that Tsuzuki presented him with after their first date. They seemed to go on a date every time it was someone's birthday. Perhaps it was just a coincidence.

"His name is Asato?" Michie asked as she read the inscription at the back of the pendant "He sounds like a nice guy, giving you this pretty necklace and engraving words like 'Together Forever' on it.. He must really love you! (smiles) Gee, now I'm not sure if I have something as good as this in the form of a souvenir, but I'll have a look around and see what I've got. In a meantime, have a seat, will you?" she smiled as she pointed to a seat that Hisoka could sit on.

The empath watched in silent amazement as Michie went through her merchandise like a tornado. Very surprising for someone her age. Through the sound of moving things here and there, Hisoka barely caught her when Michie asked if Tsuzuki was a weirdo in any way. Slightly taken aback, Hisoka answered that he supposed Tsuzuki was weird on some level.

About a minute later, Michie came out from behind the shelves, covered in specks of dust, but looking thoroughly satisfied with herself. "Well, I finally found this specific piece. It's really old; very valuable and not for sale, but I'll make an exception for you, Hisoka," she smiled at him warmly. She showed him the piece she had brought out and unwrapped the cloth around it, revealing a miniature jade figurine. The lion-like statue gleamed a pretty bright green in the sunlit shop. The blond teen stared at the figurine in awe.

"What is it?" he asked the old woman who was currently dusting herself off in the corner. Michie came over to him, smiling.

"That, Hisoka…," she explained "is an Okinawan Shiisaa. Shiisaa are stone lions that guard homes in here in Okinawa. I thought this would be a rather good gift for your friend since it symbolizes protection. So maybe, you both can treat it like a protective charm over your relationship. Also, it's one of the things Okinawa is famous for, so it's a good souvenir too!" she panted.

"That's amazing," Hisoka breathed. He examined the palm-sized miniature with more interest and respect. "I'll take it, Michie! How much is it?" He asked while rummaging through his pockets once more. The old woman shook her head. "Nothing, Hisoka. You don't owe me anything."

Green eyes widened. "What do you mean?! I have to pay for this; I can't expect you to give this to me free of charge!" Sure, he was trapped in a zoo cage for most of his life, but Hisoka was no stranger to buying things.

"Funnily enough, I do, which is precisely why I said that you don't owe me anything." she countered.

"But you said before that this figurine wasn't even for sale! Besides, it's made of jade and so intricately detailed, it has to be expensive!" the teen brought the Shiisaa to Michie's eyes so she might realize the mistake she was making. This store looked like it didn't have much business and he genuinely wanted to help her. This feisty old lady wasn't making it easy for him. He was also probably never seeing her again after this. The only thing he had to look forward to once he returned from this weekend was a getting a cramp from his tiny cage. Before he could continue pondering, Michie spoke up.

"Dearie, I'll admit business has been slow and usually, I'd do anything to sell something from this run-down old place, but finding this particular piece for you and helping you and your friend get closer means more to me than money ever could. All you have to do if you really want to repay me, well… Just promise me that the both of you will stay together to the end!" she beamed brightly at the perplexed teen.

"I…I don't know what to say." He sputtered.

"Well, if you were listening at all, you'll know that you just have to promise me that you'll stay together to the end, now, wouldn't you? Gee, kids these days don't pay attention anymore…" Michie replied as she started gift-wrapping Hisoka's present to Tsuzuki. Her time to wrap the gift was somewhat cut short by a sudden force that almost knocked her off her feet. Hisoka had rushed towards her and hugged her as tightly as he could. He didn't care that physical contact would only heighten his empathic senses. Michie's emotions were rather similar to that of Tsuzuki's. Loving. Warm. Gentle.

"Michie… thank you… so much!" he managed to get out. "And I'll take you up on that promise! I'll stick with him no matter what." The happy old lady gladly hugged Hisoka back. After receiving the now fully-wrapped Okinawan gift and exchanged goodbyes and promises to keep in touch, Hisoka quickly left the shop and hurried back to the bathroom where Tsuzuki must've been waiting for ages. Sure enough, he found the tall brunet pacing outside the bathroom where he dashed off to buy the gift. As soon as he saw that Tsuzuki turned away from the bathroom entrance, he snuck up behind him to make it look as though he had just come out.

"Hisoka!" Tsuzuki had finally (and actually) noticed that Hisoka was there "You sure took a while! I was calling for you for quite some time; I got worried! I was trying to ask you if you were alright, but you never answered me! What's up with that?" Amethyst eyes looked almost frantic.

"Hehe…" the blond replied, realizing that he really must've worried the older man "Well, it's just that I thought it would be uncivilized to talk through bathroom cubicle doors. It's kinda gross…" he blushed.

Tsuzuki smacked himself on the forehead at that. "Ah. Right. Okay… well, anyway, moving on… Ready to go?" he extended his hand towards the teen, who readily took it. "Yeah, let's go." Hisoka smiled at what Michie referred to as his 'friend'. A promise to stay together till the end. His smile widened. The Shiisaa can wait till tonight. Till then, they had the whole day together.

This was long… I read back the first few chapters of this story and I find myself hating the way I wrote it back then. But in any case, I'll try to finish this story soon. This chapter was dedicated to my first Japanese teacher, Matsuta Michie. She's not old. :P please review!