A/N: Hello again friends! I wasn't sure if I would be doing a third in this series, but a few ideas came to me, and hopefully they'll keep coming. This one will be slightly AU, since it's difficult to place it neatly in the manga timeline, and I've had to improvise a little with the given facts in the manga, so bear with me. Anyway, I'm very eager to know what you think!
Disclaimer: I do not own Yami no Matsuei or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Any gods mentioned herein are loosely based fictional characters and not meant to be representative of any actual deities, so no offense or disrespect is intended!
Hope Montague drug her feet down the hospital hallway, exhausted after another twelve hour shift at Tucson General. She would normally tear out of building as quickly as possible, before someone tried to coax her into doing just one more thing before she left, but she felt drawn to the room she had visited daily since the arrival of the patient inside.
Hope was not a romantic. She had seen enough in her life and career to quash needless flights of fancy. She never gossiped about her patients, and lacked both the imagination and the interest to speculate what their lives must be like outside of their ailments. But nonetheless, she found herself wondering about John Doe. There was something undeniably mysterious about this pale, unearthly creature which had found his way into her care.
He'd been discovered by hikers in a shallow cave near the desert, with no identification and still seemingly untouched by the sun. They had been unable to discern what exactly had left the man in his state of unconsciousness, nor did they have an explanation as to why he could not be roused from his coma. The neurological examinations had found his brain was not suffering any damage, and was indeed unusually active. She wondered what was racing through his mind as he lay there, still and sleeping day after day.
His flesh was a patchwork of white scar tissue. He seemed to have suffered from an injury that it was miraculous he'd survived, and yet the scars' age proved them to be unconnected to his current state. She would watch him, willing him to wake and reveal his secrets.
Slowly opening the door to his room, she was startled to find others inside.
"Are you this man's doctor?" a man in a dark blue suit demanded.
"Who are you?" she asked, scanning the faces of the two men questioningly.
"We're with the FBI. We're here to investigate a possible homicide," the other man answered, holding up his badge. She looked the badge over slowly, trying to make sense of what was happening, when she glanced in the direction of the hospital bed.
John Doe was gone.
Hisoka poked at the contents of his plate with mild horror. The little taiyaki fish had two tails. It did not bode well.
"I'm not going to eat this, Tsuzuki," Hisoka muttered, pushing the plate away. Tsuzuki leaned his head back from the kitchen door, lip curled downward.
"But -- but I made it for you," Tsuzuki whimpered pitifully.
"If you love me so much, then why are you always trying to poison me?" Hisoka said, rising from his seat and taking a deep breath before peering into the kitchen. It looked like someone had set off a firecracker inside a bag of flour. Hisoka groaned and reached for a broom.
"No, I'll clean up. It's my mess," Tsuzuki said sadly, taking the handle from Hisoka's hand with downcast eyes.
"Don't get upset," Hisoka said. "I just don't like sweet stuff for breakfast, okay? We'll save it for later. Let me help you clean up."
Tsuzuki consented, somewhat placated. They put away the food and began sweeping and wiping up the kitchen in relative silence. Tsuzuki pondered his failed attempt at a surprise breakfast for Hisoka and the ways he could make it better the next time, when he felt like he was being watched. Turning, he caught his younger lover watching him distractedly while the boy rubbed at the same spot on the counter for much longer than necessary.
"Something wrong?" Tsuzuki asked. Hisoka looked up, startled, and colored slightly.
"Um -- no, nothing," Hisoka said, trying to avert his eyes from Tsuzuki, who was clad only in his pajama bottoms. Tsuzuki smiled.
"Well, the kitchen's clean now. How about a shower?" Tsuzuki asked, wiping a smear of white from the boy's cheek.
"Yeah. Why don't you go first?" Hisoka murmured, turning away. Tsuzuki took his arm and pulled Hisoka to him gently.
"That wasn't exactly what I had in mind," Tsuzuki whispered into his partner's ear, giving it a little lick. Hisoka shivered, giving a pleasured little gasp as the two men rubbed against one another.
"Um -- yes, Tsuzuki," Hisoka said breathlessly, as the older shinigami nibbled at his throat.
"Do you know what I'd like for breakfast?" Tsuzuki murmured against his skin.
"Hmm. Tell me," Hisoka said, his legs growing shaky as they fell against the kitchen counter, leaving him with a view of the door over Tsuzuki's shoulder, where a fascinated blonde scientist stood gawking.
"Don't mind me," Watari said cheerfully, as Hisoka's eyes widened.
"D -- don't you ever knock, you bastard?" Hisoka sputtered, as he shoved Tsuzuki away. Watari was chewing away merrily on the taiyaki cake, dropping crumbs down his labcoat, with an amused grin.
"See? Watari likes my cooking!" Tsuzuki announced triumphantly. The scientist's eyes went wide and his face a bit green, as he rushed out of the room.
"Serves him right," Hisoka said sulkily, turning to Tsuzuki. "I'm going to the shower." Tsuzuki looked at him hopefully. "Alone! You need to learn to lock the front door, baka!"
"Oooh! Someone's in the dog house now!" Watari chirped, returning to the kitchen and receiving a glare from Hisoka as he stalked by.
"Yeah, no thanks to you," Tsuzuki said with a pout. "Any particular reason you're spoiling my off day?"
"Oh, hush. Like you two aren't always at it anyway. Let me have a little fun, you selfish meanies," Watari said with a laugh. "I'm here because we've heard from Jarrett St. Cin in the American division."
"Jarrett? What's going on?" Tsuzuki asked, inclining his head for Watari to join him at the table.
"There have been some strange things going on over there in the state of Arizona," Watari said. "It seems a Tucson hospital admitted a very strange unidentified patient about a week ago, with white blonde hair and an unusually resilient healing capacity." Tsuzuki sat up straight.
"Muraki," Tsuzuki said. Watari nodded.
"It gets even weirder. They found him in a cave in a deep coma with no identification, and admitted him into the hospital as a John Doe. Then, a few days ago, two bodies were discovered in roughly the same area, one of an older Native American man who had been missing for almost a month, and the other of an unidentified man in his twenties. They studied the clothes Muraki had been found in and discovered a strand of the older man's hair, connecting him with the murders," Watari said.
"Do you mean the authorities have finally caught up with him?" Tsuzuki asked. Watari shook his head.
"Not exactly. You see, someone broke into the hospital and snuck him out in the middle of the night," Watari said. Tsuzuki cursed beneath his breath.
"Terazuma and Wakaba went to Kyoto to check on Oriya, since he is the most likely suspect for harboring Muraki. They should be back soon," Watari said.
"Isn't Kyoto your sector?" Tsuzuki asked. Watari beamed.
"I'm on a bigger assignment. I'll be going with you to hunt down Muraki again!" Watari said as if he were announcing he were going on holiday.
"What are you talking about?" Hisoka asked, returning from his shower, looking uneasy at the mention of the doctor's name.
Terazuma and Tsuzuki sized each other up with sullen glances as their partners pleaded with them to control their tempers for the meeting.
"What did you two find out?" Tatsumi asked.
"Nothing. Oriya's a tough nut isn't he?" Wakaba said with a frown. "Hajime almost got into a fight with him."
"I didn't like the way he was looking at you," Terazuma growled.
"Aww! It's so cute when you're jealous!" Wakaba said with a giggle. Terazuma glowered.
"I'm not jealous! It's because of that brothel he runs!" Terazuma said indignantly.
"Oh, I see," Wakaba said, blushing deeply. "Well, there is one thing. He didn't tell us anything useful, but while we were there, I kept feeling something. It's difficult to explain. It just felt like there was some peculiar energy in the air. I've been having strange dreams about the Imaginary World, and --" Wakaba paused, looking troubled.
"What is it?" Tsuzuki asked with concern.
"I haven't been able to contact Kotaro and Kojiro. It's the first time anything like this has ever happened," Wakaba said.
"Are you sure Watari didn't just screw up all of our computers again?" Tsuzuki suggested.
"Hey! I never!" Watari interjected.
"No, it's not that," Wakaba said. "I think something is terribly wrong."
The three shinigami waited in a fast food restaurant near their hotel for Jarrett St. Cin. The sweltering desert heat already seemed to be taking its toll on Hisoka, who irritably waved off Tsuzuki's concern for the third time since their arrival, as the tall dark haired man entered the building looking very out of place. His usually proud gait seemed stooped, and he looked as if he'd had little sleep.
"Hey, Jarrett! Long time no see!" Tsuzuki greeted him, placing his hamburger back on the plastic tray before him. Jarrett nodded as he slid into the booth beside Watari.
"Arizona is out of my sector, but since I have special ties to the case, they've asked me to work with you. All things considered, it is probably for the best," Jarrett said with a weary smile.
"Where's Hy?" Tsuzuki asked. Jarrett peered out the window.
"He should be along shortly, I imagine," Jarrett said. The other three exchanged glances at their friend's strange behavior. "Please do not mention my son Michael to him. It will be easier."
"What do we know about the victims?" Hisoka asked, changing the subject, for which Jarrett looked grateful.
"We still haven't been able to identify the younger one, though I suspect we'll know long before the living authorities do. The office of this sector is combing through the death register for likely candidates as we speak. The older man was in his late sixties, Nastas Greenwood. The records show that he is of the Navajo tribe, though he's lived in Tucson for over thirty years in a run-down little brownstone. He was reported missing by a lady who brought him groceries once a week," Jarrett said, lacing his long fingers together and resting his elbows on the table.
"Well, I guess it will be impossible to find a connection between the two until we know who the younger one is," Hisoka said. "Did Mr. Greenwood have any family?"
"No. We should probably talk to the other tenants in the building," Jarrett said. "I'll call and get the address."
While Jarrett was occupied with the cell phone, Hy entered. The three men stopped talking among themselves, staring at the boy curiously. They could immediately tell that something was different about him, but it wasn't until he drew closer that the changes were apparent. His eyes were no longer gray, but gold, and his smile revealed pointed canine teeth. There was a streak of white and grey in his dark brown hair, still pulled up in his usual high ponytail. Hy broke the shocked silence with a warm laugh. It didn't seem that his personality had changed much.
"Kind of a shocker, ain't it? So what do you think of the new look?" Hy asked, his golden eyes flickering with mirth.
"What happened to you?" Tsuzuki asked, neglecting his apple pie.
"I went to Eden," Hy said, his smile dropping somewhat, as he drug a chair to the table. The two older shinigami nodded.
"I don't understand," Hisoka said, still staring at their friend in disbelief.
"Eden is the Westerners' realm in the Imaginary World. Hy has a parasitic shikigami, like Terazuma has with Kuroshungei," Watari explained.
"So does that mean you turn into some kind of beast when you touch a female?" Hisoka asked. Hy laughed.
"Is that what happens to that Terazuma guy? No wonder he's so dog gone uptight," Hy said, straddling the chair. "No, but my guardian spirit isn't under my command in the same way Tsuzuki's and Jarrett's are under theirs. It's up to him when he wants to break loose. Lucky for me he's kinda lazy. And he's nocturnal, so he can only possess me at night. He's only appeared once so far. They say I turned into a big ol' scary wolf hound, but I don't remember it clearly. Sure scared the crap out of the guy who pulled a knife on me though."
"I have the address. The Judgment Bureau is turning the case over to the five of us officially. I think they're relieved to pass on it," Jarrett said when he'd finished his phone conversation.
"I can see why. I'm not even sure where we should begin," Tsuzuki said. "For all we know, Muraki has been smuggled out of the country."
"Have you been able to sense him at all, Hisoka?" Watari asked.
"No. I haven't in a long time," Hisoka said quietly.
"Well, I guess we'd best start with that address then," Tsuzuki said.