Within

Author's Note: This is an angsty fiction by moi again. For those who don't understand the phrase 'to go Within' it's from X1999. When someone suffers from heartbreak or betrayal, they fall into a sort of coma and lock themselves away in their own hearts so they won't experience any further pain. They still carry on living, but in a selfish and isolated way. Stereotypically, their eyes are open and glassy. Think about Tsuzuki during the Kyoto incident. I would also like to add that this is my own take on it, so please don't steal anything.

Thanks to EternallyFaithful, for being my beta even though by now you're probably wishing you weren't. Also thanks to all the marvellous reviewers in the Yami no Matsuei fandom, you're the best reviewers I've come across so far…

Disclaimer: I don't own Yami no Matsuei.

X

Chapter One: Within

"I like you," Hisoka forced out. Tsuzuki blinked, turning around from where he'd been putting books on the shelf. Hisoka stood there, wringing his hands in front of him, gnawing on his lip and looking anything but sophisticated. Tsuzuki deflated.

"Hisoka… I…" he began. Hisoka took a few quick steps forward, putting his arms around Tsuzuki's neck and kissing him. It didn't last long, as Tsuzuki pulled away almost as soon as their lips touched.

"No," Tsuzuki held Hisoka's shoulders, pushing him away a little too quickly. Hisoka fell over his own feet and lay, sprawled on the floor, looking up at him with large, hurt eyes.

"N-No?" Hisoka repeated. Tsuzuki closed his eyes. He didn't want to have to see Hisoka's heartbroken face.

"I can't do that with you Hisoka," he said. He heard a shuddering gasp that was surely crying and then the sound of rapidly quietening footsteps. When Tsuzuki opened his eyes he was alone in the library and there was an ache in his heart.

X

"Kurosaki-kun?" Tatsumi and Watari had been walking through the cherry trees when he'd drawn their attention. He was just slumped against a tree, not moving. As they moved closer, they stopped in horror.

Hisoka looked like a doll that had been sat up against the tree, his head lolled slightly to the side, his eyes open but dead and glassy. His arms were limp at his sides, palms facing upwards, gathering sakura petals.

"Is he dead?" Watari asked, rushing forward and checking Hisoka's pulse. It was fine, he was breathing. He didn't seem to have anything wrong with him. Watari flicked Hisoka's nose but got no reaction whatsoever.

"Kurosaki-kun!" Tatsumi yelled. There was still no reaction. Watari picked the boy up, expecting some kind of sound but getting none. Hisoka just hung, completely limp…

"He's like a puppet with its strings cut off… Do you think it could have something to do with Muraki's curse?" Watari asked. Tatsumi brushed the hair out of Hisoka's eyes. He just didn't have the answer…

X

"Tsuzuki-san! There you are!" Wakaba rushed forward. Tsuzuki looked up from his book. It was a particularly difficult case. A woman had sold her soul to a demon to bring back her husband, but instead of her husband returning, it was just a shell that looked like him. Distraught she continued to talk and sing to her puppet until she became half-crazed herself.

It was probably her emotions rubbing off on Hisoka that had caused his outburst earlier…

"Tsuzuki-san, thank God!" Wakaba grabbed his hand, pulling him out of his chair and towards the door. Tsuzuki didn't even have time to grab his jacket from the back of the chair.

"What is it?" he asked. He recognised the way they were going, out the main office, across to the hospital wing. He felt a sickening sensation fill him. Had something happened to Tatsumi or Watari? Or maybe it was Kanoe? Had they run into trouble in ChiJou?

Whatever was wrong, Wakaba was moving them along too quickly for conversation. Eventually she just broke into a run and skidded to a halt before a door. She pushed the door open.

"Watari-san. I've got Tsuzuki-san," she said. There was a murmur from inside and Wakaba stepped aside. Feeling confused, Tsuzuki stepped inside and… stopped.

"No… Hisoka…" he breathed. What the hell had happened? The boy hadn't left Meifu… He couldn't be cursed… How? He looked like he was dead while still alive.

"No…" Tsuzuki moved forward, stroking Hisoka's cheek. He knew the signs. He guessed that he had looked like this during the Kyoto incident…

"We haven't figured out what triggered it yet. Tatsumi is checking the CCTV to track his last few movements. It could just be that everything finally caught up with him but… We just don't know… It's the first time we've been able to study someone who's gone Within," Watari said. Tsuzuki sat down heavily.

Had he been the cause? Or had something else happened? That had to be it. Someone else had hurt Hisoka. It could only be someone else…

Tsuzuki wasn't sure how long he sat there, holding Hisoka's hand, hoping against all reason that Hisoka would wake up out of it. He didn't notice Tatsumi walk back in, or the hushed conversation that followed. It wasn't until Tatsumi and Watari sat on the opposite side of the bed and one of them cleared their throat that he registered he wasn't alone.

"You were the last person Hisoka spoke to. He ran from the Library and collapsed under the tree. He cried for a while but eventually he just… well… this…" Tatsumi seemed to run out of words. Tsuzuki looked at the dead green eyes that had once held so much warmth… Warmth that Hisoka had shown no one else but Tsuzuki.

"What did the two of you talk about?" Watari asked. Tsuzuki stared at his hands. Meifu's CCTV system wasn't really all that great. It wasn't really even needed, but after the Saagatanas attack, Kanoe had ordered it as a precaution. Most were outward facing though. The CCTV camera in the library faced the door, so it could capture all the faces leaving and entering. Tsuzuki knew that what had happened between himself and Hisoka earlier hadn't been spread.

"Can we get someone to get inside his conscious? There's a spell isn't there?" Tsuzuki asked. Tatsumi frowned.

"Tsuzuki-san, I am not going to allow you to recklessly plunge into someone else's conscious. It's too dangerous. We should be able to get hold of an onmyouji in Kyoto," the secretary said. Tsuzuki clenched his fists, looking up at Tatsumi with determined, defiant violet eyes.

"They'll fail," he stated flatly. Watari sighed, fishing around in his breast pocket to get a piece of paper out. It looked like a piece of old parchment from an old spell book. Tsuzuki read through it and nodded.

"We better touch his shoulders or we won't get pulled in," Watari said cheerfully. Tatsumi raised his eyebrows and Tsuzuki looked slightly alarmed.

"You two can't risk this as well! EnMaCho can risk losing one shinigami but three!" Tsuzuki protested. Watari smiled.

"You mean four. If we don't succeed, we'll lose Hisoka as well," Tatsumi reminded him. There was a pregnant pause where they all looked at each other. Every gaze was defiant, daring the other to try to stop them. Eventually they all looked away and started to get into position.

Tsuzuki pressed is forehead against Hisoka's. The boy's breath tickled his lips, making him lick them subconsciously. He began to chant, trying to ignore Tatsumi and Watari's hands on his shoulders. His own voice started to sound far away…

Tsuzuki found himself caught in a strange wind. It was trying to hinder his progress. Tsuzuki knew he had to move down. He wasn't quite sure when he'd gone from sitting on Hisoka's bed to being on the edges of the boy's mind, but now he was here, he noticed it was a very nice shade of green. Pretty…

He headed down, struggling against the wind, Tsuzuki finally managed to put his feet down somewhere. The swirling green faded away, leaving a bleak and desolate scene in its wake.

"So this is Hisoka's conscious?" Watari said, shuddering. Even Tsuzuki, who knew his conscious was a little creepy, hadn't quite expected this. Blood covered roses was one thing but…

The only vegetation in the place was sakura trees, whose petals fell to the ground and disappeared into hard, grey rock. There were also many rivulets and brooks that meandered through the landscape. Most looked like normal water, but it was unmistakable what the other was.

"Rivers of blood?" Tatsumi asked, walking towards where one of the clear rivers met one of the blood ones. He dipped his hand in the clear one, touching it to his tongue and wincing.

"Salt," he said. Tsuzuki was still looking around the landscape in general, trying to spot Hisoka somewhere.

"Rivers of blood and tears. A recurring theme in Hisoka's life," Tsuzuki mused. He couldn't see Hisoka anywhere. The creepy rivers of blood and tears moved with the splashes of water, it really was quite a perfect landscape. A macabre masterpiece in fact…

"Behind you," a flat voice said. Tatsumi, Watari and Tsuzuki turned as one and their mouths fell open. Behind them was the largest of the sakura trees. Attached to it was Hisoka, hanging as though crucified. His head was hanging forward as though it was too much effort to keep it up. Apart from the nails in the centre of his hands and feet, all that was keeping him bound to the tree was barbed wire, cutting into his flesh and causing glistening trails of blood to drip down his chest. It was perhaps strange, but Hisoka had a kimono on made from fine silk with a feathered collar and hems. It had fallen off his shoulders however, and it was rapidly getting soaked in blood.

"Hisoka, don't worry, we'll get you down!" Watari rushed forward but Tatsumi grabbed his lab coat, pulling him back.

"Don't be an idiot. That's Hisoka's own conscious representation of himself. Even if you got him down, you'd look away and he'd disappear and be back up there again. You can't change anything here," Tatsumi warned. Tsuzuki was looking up at Hisoka, ignoring what was being said behind him as he walked forward. Looking up at Hisoka, he could see the boy's tears, the desperate longing in the boy's eyes.

"Come back," Tsuzuki said softly. Hisoka shook his head violently, causing a ripping sound to echo around the dreamscape. Tsuzuki watched as a shred of clothing, ripped from Hisoka's kimono by his movements, fell to the floor. The skin beneath it was shredded, blood dripping into a small pool on the floor.

"It was different before," Hisoka said softly. "There were the sakura trees, but there were some birds… Sparrows… When I died I retreated in here. Last time I only had a rough calico kimono, but it's softer now. The blood and tears are a recent addition though. So's being crucified… Last time I was just chained to one of them… Strange, ne?" Hisoka asked. Tsuzuki looked away. It had changed. Hisoka had changed.

The calico changing to silk and feathers… that must have represented Hisoka opening up. The blood and tears… were recent additions because Hisoka had only recently been crucified; the blood was all running from Hisoka into those rivers… So that would mean the tears were as well…

"It's strange… I see people differently here," Hisoka mused. "Do you want me to show you what I see?" Tsuzuki wasn't sure. If it would help Hisoka then maybe it was right to go along with anything he said. They were still in his conscious, that was a good sign.

A mirror appeared, Tatsumi and Watari were in it. Watari looked very feminine, almost motherly, beside him Tatsumi looked a lot more masculine… It was strange, as though what they were seeing was a slightly distorted image…

It then changed and Tsuzuki was the only one visible. At first it showed a memory of Hisoka's. It was the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto, where Tsuzuki had looked up and smiled a fake smile. There was a spring light… Tsuzuki felt tears in his eyes when he saw how Hisoka saw him…

But then it changed. The face became different, colder. One eye grew deformed and a smirk played at the mouth. Tsuzuki took a few steps back, staring at the mirror with shock.

"That is how I see you now," Hisoka's voice was almost mocking. Tatsumi pushed passed Tsuzuki, putting an arm in front of him as though to protect him from the mirror.

"Kurosaki-kun, that's not true!" Tatsumi yelled. Tsuzuki was covering his face with his hands.

"Perhaps it is not your truth but it is mine. What is the difference between the two? Are you saying that they are so different? Muraki broke my body but he never broke my spirit. Tsuzuki never even gave a second thought-" Hisoka stopped and in the mirror it scrolled down to a form at Tsuzuki's feet. It was a bloodied, broken body with its heart ripped out. Watari gagged.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry," Tsuzuki looked up, the tears in his eyes as genuine as Hisoka's. The boy just smiled a cruel, cold smile.

"Goodbye, Tsuzuki…"

And the sakura tree faded out of sight. Tatsumi blinked and looked around, frowning.

"His presence has gone?" he asked. Watari sighed, running his hands through his hair. Tsuzuki staggered to his feet, taking a step forward, his hand reaching out to where Hisoka had been.

"He's retreated further into his conscious. There are three levels. The Conscious Level, which we're in now. That's the one where what we're going to say, do etc. etc. gets decided. Then there's the Dreaming Level, where what we wish we could do. It's halfway between the Subconscious Level and the Conscious Level. Then there's the Subconscious Level, where things that aren't to do with the current situation are stored," Watari explained. The landscape around them was changing and Tsuzuki was becoming aware of his body again.

"Is it possible to travel to all three?" Tsuzuki asked. Tatsumi looked alarmed.

"Yes, it's possible. But dangerous. If you have to go into the Subconscious Level and Hisoka goes again you'll have to give in. The last Level is impenetrable," Watari warned. Tsuzuki concentrated on the landscape, keeping his conscious in there and pushing through the barrier. He wasn't sure he was doing the right thing until he heard a giggle.

Everything was black. He could feel Watari and Tatsumi pushing in either side of him. He stood still, trying to make out something in the darkness. He felt something bite his ear and turned quickly to see Hisoka fading into darkness. There was a lot of disembodied laughter.

"Who thought Hisoka would be this macabre?" Watari whispered. The ribbon was pulled from his hair. Tsuzuki stood still, allowing the phantom to kiss his ear, running a tongue playfully against it.

"Show yourself," Tatsumi ordered after receiving a particularly hard slap to the back of the head. There was laughter. It was so strange to hear Hisoka laugh. He rarely did it in real life. Yet another regret of Tsuzuki's…

As though a spot light had suddenly switched itself on, Hisoka was stood bathed in light, although it cast eerie shadows. He was dressed in only a sheet, which was slipping down around his hips. Out of his back wings had sprouted; one a tall, thin black one, looking like wet leather; the other was the same height and width but with soft, white feathers.

"Cover yourself up!" Watari said, covering his eyes and reaching over to shield Tatsumi's eyes. Hisoka giggled and let the sheet fall completely. Tsuzuki couldn't help but take in this view of the perfect ivory skin that had always been hidden before. He tried to push down the sudden lust.

"Why hide it? I understand. You do not want me, you just want someone. Keep things impersonal and people don't get hurt. Of course, that's why those close to you, those who grow to care and love you, are the ones you can never be with. You pretended to be hurt when Tatsumi left you, but it was just a façade. In reality, you were glad because it meant you hadn't hurt him. It's what you're most afraid of. Hurting others," Hisoka was walking forwards. He reached out, cupping Tsuzuki's cheek. He brushed away a stray tear with his thumb, smiling in a bittersweet manner.

"But the world isn't like that. People get hurt. Everyone hurts. You hurt Muraki every time you rejected him. You hurt Oriya, by attracting Muraki in the first place. You hurt Tatsumi by acting as though there was nothing ever between the two of you. You hurt Watari by flirting with Tatsumi when you think no one else is looking. You hurt Terazuma by being better than him at everything. You hurt Wakaba simply because everyone else is hurting. You hurt Hijiri, that girl in Kyoto, Maria Wong, me… You do nothing but bring pain to others yet you deny me escape from mine," Hisoka brought his other hand up to Tsuzuki's face now, brushing away the tears that were falling. Tsuzuki drew Hisoka into a tight embrace, his fingers entwining in the feathers of the one wing and the boy's hair.

"Please come back," Tsuzuki's voice was weak.

"Gomen ne. I don't want to. You don't understand yet. You can't understand yet. You are selfish Tsuzuki. You haven't even noticed that Tatsumi and Watari have been immobilised, or that this dreamscape is disintegrating around you. Even if you don't care for your own soul, you should be careful with theirs," Hisoka was fading again. Tsuzuki tried to grip onto him but it was like trying to catch smoke. In the end he turned to Watari and Tatsumi who were finally able to move again. They blinked in confusion.

"Hisoka's gone further inside. Please go back," Tsuzuki asked. Tatsumi and Watari looked at each other.

"It would make sense for one of us to go back. That way if something happens, that person can break contact…" Watari said, then he turned to Tatsumi and folded his arms.

"You're only here because you want to keep check on Tsuzuki, you have no other use except for that. Go back," Watari said, it sounded almost commanding. Tatsumi sighed and looked to Tsuzuki.

"Don't do anything reckless," he said and then slowly disappeared. Watari and Tsuzuki looked around them at the dissolving dreamscape and concentrated on getting deeper into Hisoka's conscious…

They opened them once more in a bright, airy room. Now this was different… The walls were a pale blue, the curtains a soft yellow… The window was open, a light breeze brushing the curtains… In the centre of the room was a bed, piles of plushies and stuffed animals sat upon it. The rest of the room was similar, toys were scattered around the ground.

There was silence except for the trills of birds from outside.

And there, in the middle of the bed, cuddling a doll with blonde curly hair and a cracked face, was Hisoka. Not the Hisoka that Tsuzuki or Watari knew, but the Hisoka of eleven years before… He looked to be five years old…

"I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster," the boy was whispering to himself over and over, rocking backwards and forwards, gripping the doll as though it was a dying child.

"Hisoka?" Tsuzuki stepped forward. The boy didn't even look up.

"I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster."

"He doesn't hear us," Watari said, looking around at the quaint little room. He began to study a little toy car, made from various wooden blocks all stuck together and painted in primary colours.

"I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster."

"Everything here has a meaning. This toy, that doll, even the way the breeze moves the curtain. Maybe if we decipher it we'll know how to talk to Hisoka?" Watari suggested. Tsuzuki stared at the sobbing boy in the middle of the bed. He could place where this was. This was the boy's room just before he was about to be locked away in the cell…

"I'm not a monster. I'm not a monster!" He was getting worked up now. Tsuzuki could almost feel the anger radiating off the boy's small frame. "I'm not a monster! I'M NOT A MONSTER!" He threw the doll and it smashed against the opposite wall. Hisoka shrank back then, staring at the broken pieces in horror and getting on his hands and knees to pick them up. His small hands snatched at the pieces of porcelain, slicing his fingers. He tried to place them together.

"What have you done?" a tall man, whose face was blurry and not entirely there, demanded. Watari and Tsuzuki stepped back, even though it was obvious that they couldn't be seen.

"I'm sorry… I didn't mean to…" Hisoka said feebly. The man snatched the boy up by the wrists and stared at his cut hands. The man smiled cruelly.

"You demon. Go and wash your hands. And make sure you use soap." It was amazing how a faceless man could smirk… Tsuzuki knew that he only knew the man was smirking because this was one of Hisoka's memories. The man was probably his father…

"Yes sir," Hisoka whimpered before walking out of the room. Watari shrugged and gestured for Tsuzuki to follow him. They followed the five-year-old to the bathroom, where the man stood over his shoulder and watched as the boy grimaced and cried as the icy water washed over the painful cuts.

"Does it hurt?" the man asked, seemingly sympathetic. Hisoka removed his hands from the water, nodding.

"Did I tell you that you could stop, monster?" the man yelled, slapping Hisoka across the face so hard that he fell over. The boy was trembling as he stood up, washing his hands over and over.

"I can't watch this anymore," Tsuzuki said, moving forward, taking the young Hisoka in his arms. The boy tensed but then relaxed, turning around and putting his thin arms around Tsuzuki's neck. The shinigami lifted the boy up, balancing him on his hip. Everything had frozen, the man, the curtains, outside the birds were hanging in the sky like a mobile.

"'Tousan doesn't mean it. He just wants to teach me to be better. He just doesn't want me to be a monster anymore," Hisoka said into Tsuzuki's shoulder. The shinigami leaned the boy back so he could see his face, carefully brushing away the tears.

"You aren't a monster, Hisoka, you're the most wonderful person I've ever met. If anyone was a monster it would be me…" Tsuzuki said to him. The boy sniffled then smiled.

"I'm a good person?" he asked. Tsuzuki nodded.

"Then I can go… As long as you still think well of me, I can disappear…" Hisoka began to turn translucent… It started with his eyes, spreading to the rest of his head and then down his body.

"What are you doing?" Tsuzuki asked, panicking as his arms went through Hisoka. Watari suddenly stepped out of the shadows also, grasping at Hisoka's hand.

"If you go further you'll never be able to return!" Watari yelled. Hisoka smiled as he vanished.

"He's gone?" Tsuzuki whispered. Watari's shoulders slumped in defeat.

"We tried," Watari said, taking hold of Tsuzuki's shoulders. The blonde closed his eyes and prepared to leave. He opened them again when his hand fell through Tsuzuki's shoulder.

"What are you doing? What are you doing you fool?" Watari yelled, but he was already withdrawing from Hisoka's consciousness.

"There's no way Hisoka's coming back now. So I'm going to go where he is… I'll merge our souls together, so he won't be alone…" Tsuzuki looked back over his shoulder with his deceptive smile.

"Ja ne, Watari," he whispered. The blonde was plunged back into reality, still screaming and trying to grasp at Tsuzuki's shoulder…

Tsuzuki himself was falling through something like green water. It swirled and whirled and was highlighted as though the noon sun was shining on it. Although it was more like silk… if silk was ever a liquid…

He looked at himself, only to see that he was made of the same strange substance, except he was purple tinged with light blue. He felt himself swirling into the green mass, and a comforting warmth filled him.

He felt Hisoka's thoughts and his own becoming one. He felt the euphoria as the soft caresses of Hisoka's spirit brushed against his own and their spirits mingled in a whirlpool of each other.

It was then that they truly understood each other…

xXx

Tatsumi rubbed his temples. He didn't like this… He didn't like this at all… Tsuzuki was in a coma, but so was Hisoka. The problem was that Tsuzuki wasn't showing life signs and Hisoka was. Under the law in Meifu, Tsuzuki had to move on for judgement if he died again, but his soul wasn't in his body, it was in Hisoka's… There was no way of either of them standing trials as individuals, simply because there was no Tsuzuki or Hisoka anymore… There was a strange hybrid that might remain in a coma forever.

"On the vague possibility that they return?" Tatsumi asked. Watari sighed.

"We'll have to reawaken their senses, touch, sight, taste, hearing and smell… Other than that I have no idea…" Watari smoothed Hisoka's hair off the boy's face. Tatsumi sighed.

"It's up to them then…" he said, before turning to try to explain the situation to Kanoe.

xXx

End Notes: Ta-da! There you go, end of chapter one. Chapter two coming soon.