Title: Nothing is Forever

Rating: PG-13 for now.

Fandom: Yami no Matsuei

Pairing: Muraki x Watari, Watari x ?

Summary: When an depressed Watari falls victim to the clutches of the pyschopathic doctor, is it possible for him to escape?

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Shine another glass, make the hours pass. Working every day in a cheap café…

Once in work, he smiles at Tsuzuki, tells him he'll meet him in five minutes, and walks as fast as he dares to his lab, wilting in relief, when he realizes the flask has not been touched. He has broken out in a cold sweat, and he thinks to himself never again. He can't go on like this, every moment a tense beat, every second one of fear. He is pulled as tight as a bowstring, as though but a single shock would cause him to break. He sits in his laboratory and sinks to the floor, his arms folding around himself for comfort, even for support. The air tastes dusty, and it clings to the back of his throat as he breathes in deeply. The hairs on the backs of his arms are raised, and yet the air is not cold. Coldly detached, his scientist's mind merely notes that increased sensitivity to cold is one of the more severe symptoms of damage to his body. He tries to remember the last time he ate, but absurdly all he can remember is the chocolate pudding he shared with Tsuzuki about two weeks ago. He laughs. It's impossible. He must have eaten in the past two weeks surely. As he strains his memory though, nothing else emerges. Watari is not exactly an epicure,- he'll eat almost anything put in front of him except fish (which he'd always felt was odd, to be Japanese and yet hate fish so thoroughly,) but he does like his food.

He remembers Tsuzuki no doubt patiently waiting in the common room, and with leaden footsteps makes his way there, remembering to plaster a smile on his face, and a bounce in his step, in order to convince Tsuzuki that everything is okay, and that they really don't need to talk about his little problem. The scent of coffee, sharp and strong wafts its way over to him from the little percolator, and as though his body is taking instrutions from an unknown source, Watari walks that way, to be presented with a cup of coffee by a beaming Tsuzuki, and to have a piece of cinnamon cake shoved into his hand. He is in all truth rather touched by the gesture. Food was roughly equivalant to love in Tsuzuki-world, and given up with about the same ease as a religious girl her virginity. So for Tsuzuki to give up a piece- and a big piece at that of his precious dessert must surely mean something. He does try to eat it, he truly does, but the first bite causes him to choke and spray crumbs all over the place. While Tsuzuki is busy with glasses of water and pats on the back, Watari manages to smuggle the cake whole into his pocket, and crush his feelings of guilt. He'll buy Tsuzuki a wholecinnamon cake in recompense. He wonders if this proved he was normal after all. Surely an insane man wouldn't care about whether his friend's feelings would have been hurt by refusal, but surely only an insane man would refuse to eat such a succulant treat.

Back in his lab, he drops the pretence with a sigh of completion. Sitting in a chair, he surveyed his overflowing intray with an expression little short of disgust. The sticky taste of the bite he had put in his mouth of cake lingers, synthetically sweet and artifical, clinging to teeth and gums, distracting him as he tries to read the report in front of him. The words blur, swimming in front of his eyes, and he makes himself a deal. Just one sip. Just one sip of whisky to clear the cake away, and he'd start to work. He is painfully aware of how such promises and deals with himself usually work out, but he ignores the little voice in the back of his head, instead unscrewing the flask, and taking a little nip. He is about to raise it for a second swallow when he remembers where he is, and who he could be seen by. It is as effective a deflatant of his whisky lust, as the thought of greasy bacon had been for his appetite. He licks his lips, and resists an urge to smile at the warmth spreading through him, like a salacious secret that no-one else knows about. He focuses on the first report. A Departmental-wide review into the effects and research purposes of the common spiritual ectoplasmic matrix when applied to unsanctified spirits. His eye is caught by the word spirits. Idly he flicks through the pages, noting the precise applications, and clear purposeful dialogue. He admires the working style, and wonders who wrote it. He looks at the cover, and is struck with utter surprise. The neat font states that one Yutaka Watari authored the production. Beside it is a list of his qualifications. He can't help but smile a little proudly though he can't remember actually writing it. Well before he started jumping to conclusions like fairy godmothers, he'd do better to check his logbook, where in code he wrote short details of every piece of work he finished. Sure enough, two months ago, his neat precise handwriting stated that he had finished work on just such a booklet. He'd even been paid for it, which had been pleasant considering that for the amount of jobs he did in his departmental capacity, he got a suprisingly meagre salary. Granted living accommodation was provided, and it wasn't like the amount of the food you had to eat to keep functioning was large, but he felt they could be rather more generous.

He shuffled through the rest of the paperwork, making short notes here and there, even disposing of some of it. At the end of two hours, he felt as though he had been oddly productive, and was in fact rather proud of himself. It had been some time since he had been able to concentrate on his work, and he wondered if he dared hope that he was improving, that there was light. When he starts coughing though he doubts it. It racks his slender body, which has never been the strongest, and which deprived of food for such a while is actively weak. He knows without even looking that the hand he has raised to his mouth will be flecked with droplets of blood, and he merely wipes it on the old labcoat he is wearing. Hygiene has never been one of his chief traits, but then it's not like anyone could catch anything from his blood anyway. Hundred percent completely sterile. He should know, he did the research. The inside of his throat feels raw and swollen, almost analogous if such a thing were possible, with the human throat infection. At a knock on the door, he straightens hastily, and brushes his sleeve across his face to take care of any stray traces. The last person he expected to see was there. "Ah, Chief Konoe," he said brightly.

The chief entered and put an envelope down on the desk. "I was passing, and thought I'd drop this in." He paused and looked at Watari shrewdly. "Are you well?" he asked bluntly.

Watari can feel his bones when he crosses his arms across his chest. They dig in painfully when he folds them hard. His heart beats like an out of control drum, faintly irregular, but then its not like its necessary for the dead to have a heartbeat. He can taste copper in his mouth, and faint traces of alcohol, and even fainter traces of stomach acid. He smiles and nods brightly. "Of course Chief. Just a bit under the weather." Neither of them need to point out the weather never changes in Meifu. The look the older man gives him is a strange mix of annoyance and concern, but he leaves with no more intervention. Watari decides that the best thing he can do right now is brush his teeth. It doesn't take him long to find a toothbrush in the general melee that is his laboratory, but the toothpaste is rather harder to find. Small things do this to him now. The most minor things catch and hold his attention, indeed become the penulitmate purpose of his life. Usually it's his next drink, but now all he can think about is toothpaste. He must have it. If he doesn't... His mind doesn't fill in the blanks for these sort of questions, usually just a sense of impending doom is left to spur him on. He grows panicky over it, hands clutch at the air impotently, Where on earth can he find some?

He leaves the laboratory, and checks the bathrooms, but all they yield is indigestion tablets and sanitary pads- possibly two of the most useless articles in the world for a Shinigami rest-room to possesss. His saviour comes in the form of a small owl swooping through the air bearing a tube of toothpaste. He thanks it fast, not even stopping to enquire from where it was retrieved, nor how it is known that he wanted it. He merely dashes to the bathroom, and begins to brush his teeth. He has to brush carefully or he'll harm the gums. Granted, they will grow back, but with his current state, it'll be painful, and take some time. After that is done, work has receded from his world view, as had that hope of a possible recovery. Tsuzuki has appeared as though from nowhere, and is standing at his elbow. "Are you all right?" he asks anxiously. Watari has to lie.

"Yes. I just felt a little faint." He feels foolish clutching a toothbrush and toothpaste, and what had seemed so essential only moments before, were now worthless in his eyes. He attempts a smile, and perhaps he is a better actor than he ever thought, because Tsuzuki makes no demure. Perhaps not an Oscar winning performance, but certainly worthy of a minor gong at the Television Awards ceremony. He leans back with a sigh, and that reminds him of something. "Tsuzuki-san, I am sorry to ask this if it troubles you," he begins with all necessary politeness. "I was wondering how things are going with you and Kurosaki-kun." Well he's known as a gossip so surely he can ask?

There is a peculiar light in Tsuzuki's eyes for a moment, almost one of pure joyful excitement, before it is veiled. "I love him," he said simply. "But we agreed some time ago, that it is simply not the right sort of love to carry into a relationship. Hisoka is my partner, and..." he paused for a second. "It's like with Tatsumi-san. I have a tendancy to have a crush on people, mostly because I don't ever think they will ever reciprocate, though I am lucky in that I form deeper relationships with those whom I like, like that, even if not romantic. I love Hisoka, in not quite the same way as a brother, but certainly closer to that than romance." He walked a little closer to Watari. "Hisoka cleared a matter up for me as to who I do like though," he added. There was a sudden tension in the air, that even Watari could not fail to notice. For a moment, Tsuzuki leaned closer, looking searchingly at Watari, but apparantly not finding what he looked for, because he leaned away, and the tension in the air was released. "But that will have to remain a secret for another day," he said gaily.

Watari wrinkled his nose and smiled. "As long as it isn't on Terazuma-san, you can crush on whom you like."

"I don't think this is a crush Watari-san. And why the restriction on Terazuma-san? Do you want him for yourself?" Tsuzuki jested.

Watari's delicate eyebrows shot up. "Now I pray you are joking. Touch him? I was merely thinking of your much battered heart, and the cruel refusal he will be sure to give you." He mimicked Terazuma-san to perfection. "Get away from me! Aaah!"

This elicited a smile from Tsuzuki. "Well I hope that the person I'm thinking of will be more receptive," he said gaily. "Now I really must go. Tatsumi-san wants to lecture me on money again. The third time this week," he lamented, as he left.

Watari looked in the mirror, and wondered what on earth that had been about. He peered at his reflection in the mirror. It didn't seem to know either. In fact it shrugged at him, which was not entirely out of the ordinary for his reflection. Well it was certainly a new achievement for him. For what had been all of six minutes, he had held a normal conversation- indeed managed to actively participate and understand what was transpiring on at least the oral level. He hadn't drifted off or stopped listening. He'd even cracked a rather weak joke. Granted it had taken a lot of effort, but at least it proved it could be done. He would have liked to have known what was on Tsuzuki's mind though- the other man had seemed so serious at one point, and even in the depths of his own depression, Watari retained concern for the other man.

So it was at the bar that evening that Watari manifested the abnormal profile of a fairly amiable drunk, instead of the hostile combative stance he usually assumed, when he had consumed too much alcohol, a fact that was not un-noticed by the familiar white figure who occasinally frequented the club. Indeed he was at that stage of drunkeness that when Muraki renewed his offer to go get a coffee, he accepted. Maybe that was all he needed to feel more human, the touch of another, the warmth of a body beside his own for however brief a time. The impersonal coffee shop did nothing to dampen this feeling, even the coffee was not enough to bring him to his senses. These days it seemed, madness ran like a poison through Watari's body, madness and that recklesness he had always had in his character. When he concentrated on something be it as meagre as a tube of toothpaste, or as strange as sleeping with a stranger, nothing could deter him, it filled his mind, until when fulfilled its importance dimished and shrank.

Muraki for his part was somewhat amused at the change that had occurred in one night. Such an erratic, headstrong man. Unpredictable was one word that sprung to mind, and disturbed was another. Already this man was spiralled, a maelstrom of broken glass and fire, cutting himself to shreds, even as he blazed. Interesting, beautiful and potentially worth watching. Something bothered him though about the body of the man sitting next to him. Not merely its slenderness as though it could be broken if held too hard, but something un-natural. It plagued his mind, darting in his remembrances of others, until he finally caught hold of what it was. Strength. This body, weak and thin though it was at the moment (and he surely recalled it being sturdier than this,) gave an aura of indefinable strength off. Not unlike that of all those Angels of Death with whom he had encounter so far. Indeed, now he thought on it, exactly the same. He shook with silent laughter for a moment then was still. The Gods indeed. In all the entire world, of every bar in all the world, he had to walk into the one which held a mentally unstable Shinigami. His luck or his intuition, had truly surpassed itself this time. And the irony was of course, that he hadn't even noticed. Had thought for those months that he had kept a casual eye on the doings of the blond stranger, that he was human. Just another weak mote. This deserved something special, something he could not devise in one night, something to be savoured and enjoyed like the finest and rarest of wines. Or perhaps even this once, he would travel the game as it played out, with no particular destination in mind, but that of his ultimate satisfaction in whatever way possible.

A couple of notes about this chapter. (1) I don't think Tsuzuki could possibly have been more unsubtle in his hinting if he'd tried. I personally prefer Tsuzuki to be with Hisoka myself, but it seemed fiting to have him at least dropping hints. (2) About Muraki not noticing Watari is a Shinigami. I would assume that unless you came into close contact and were paying attention, even Muraki would find it hard to spot a Shinigami who he did not know at all in a crowd.

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