Title: To Kill the Emperor's Nightingale

Rating: PG-13

Fandom: Yami No Matsuei

Pairings: None. (In this chapter. Later Tatsumi/ Hisoka)

Warnings: None (Yet)

Summary: We are all gifted, some gifts are just more obvious than most. What do we call them? Some call them magic, others call them science.

Loud music flooded the traditional dwelling, as Tsuzuki rocked in time to the rhythmic beat. Hisoka scowled at the noise, and called as loud as he could. When Tsuzuki saw him, he smiled and stood turning off the music.

"Hisoka! Just the person I wanted to see. Tatsumi asked me to ask you to go to him as soon as possible. But I'm interrupting you. What did you come for?"

Hisoka shrugged. "Nothing much. I just wandered here I suppose." Tsuzuki's smile was like the sun coming out.

"Aw, that's so nice Hisoka."

Hisoka felt a little guilty at the effusiveness of his greeting. He'd actually come with a specific purpose in mind, but Tsuzuki didn't need to know that yet did he? Tsuzuki offered to walk with him to the office, but Hisoka declined politely, mind whirring in a dozen scenarios thrown up to him by his more active than usual brain. What could Tatsumi-san wish for him to do?

Well there was an answer to that wasn't there? Nothing. Nothing at all. Since Hisoka had got here, he hadn't been allowed to do anything, and to be frank he was angry with it all. He knew Shinigami worked in partners. So why whenever a more difficult than usual assignment came up, were he and Tsuzuki shifted away from it, and sent on research? Then almost unnoticeably there'd be a request for Tsuzuki, and Tsuzuki would disappear and come back looking guilty.

It was obvious they didn't trust him not to screw up, and so rather than hurt his feelings publicly they shunted him aside. But in doing that Tsuzuki went as well, and the department needed his powerful abilities. So they summoned him back secretly to use them, while leaving Hisoka in isolation.

His thoughts got angrier as he walked along alone. The path was bathed in the artificial sunlight generated by the extraordinarily advanced computer replacements. It was warm and soothing, and not for the first time Hisoka wondered if they were there to sense his moods and provide emotional dampeners. Well they weren't working this time. If anything they made him angrier as an outward symbol of manipulation. He hunched his shoulders against the warmth and strode onwards. It was all so manufactured. Everything was super human, with no flaws. There was not a sakura blossom that was malformed. They were beautifully shaped with the delicate hint of colour in their petals, but there was not one with a petal missing, or which was a different colour, to the pastels its companions had generated. The grass was the same. Always the same length, it never grew, never died, never needed renewing. They healed from the inside like Shinigami.

Somewhere deep inside him, Hisoka couldn't accept magic for magic. All of this was just more science beyond , appropriately revised and upgraded. His empathy was a purely human trait, and was out of place in this land of computers that were so different, that they were no longer computers and were simply called magic.

Where does science end and magic begin? When the first sha-man trepanned the first Cro-Magnon, did he think to himself that he conducted an experiment? Or did he believe the God's had spoken, and told him to release the demons inside the man's head? Did the tribe nod to their own Paré, or did they call it magic?

Hisoka's gifts were shared by so few, that he'd never met another person with the same ability, alive or . But it was scientific. Even if only within the realms of science fiction, it had the mantle of scientific plausibility around its shoulders. Anne McCaffrey and all those who wrote stories about humans sensing emotions, had gifted his talent with a name. Telempathy. They'd never see their dreams fulfilled, but it had happened. All so different from Tsuzuki's macro power of shifting 'magic' that summoned strange elemental beasts with the names of Gods. Just another science, but one that was not dreamed nor named by those who did not wish to be laughed at in the real world.

He stopped as though struck by lightning. Tsuzuki was the most childlike person he'd ever met. Watari was a good deal like him. Wakaba appeared never to have grown up, Terazuma displayed childish lack of control and perception. The department was made up of children, maybe not in body but mind. His rational mind snorted. What about Tatsumi? Easy. Tatsumi did not summon Shinigami himself, like Hisoka he relied on mental talents. Therefore of a necessity he'd grown up. And like Hisoka he could only use simple spells with much difficulty. Peter Pans in the Never Never land of . Because they believed Shinigami existed, they were able to use them. They had no idea that what they were actually doing was using their minds, not spells to control them. He felt almost physically sick at the idea and the implications of what it meant. Who had set up this system? How? When? And most importantly of all. Why?

His feet had taken him to Tatsumi's office, and he looked at it's neat plaque before he knocked. He entered before asked, and so caught a glance of Tatsumi off duty, glasses off, rubbing his eyes. The instant he saw Hisoka though, he whipped them back on, and leaned back in his customary pose ashamed to be caught in even such a small weakness. His eyes were bluer without his glasses, as though the glass blurred as well as illuminated. Idly Hisoka wandered what it would be like to be short sighted, able to hide behind a barrier of glass, so when you felt threatened because someone saw the real you, all you had to do was push them up your nose, and once again you were remote and inviolable.

Tatsumi smiled, the thin twitching of lips that was his normal expression of pleasure. Not the wide smile that Hisoka had seen only twice before in all his time here. "Kurosaki-kun. How are you?" Hisoka replied cautiously. It was unlike Tatsumi to be so amiable. Usually he was frothing because of budget expenditure, or just a silent blank wall of non-space. But now Hisoka was getting glimpses of emotions. Very odd indeed. Tatsumi continued. "You'll be very happy to know that we have a teacher for you finally."

Hisoka wrinkled his brow. "Teacher, Tatsumi-san? I was not aware I had requested one." He was aware how impertinent he sounded and hastily amended it. "I mean I'm sure it is good, but is there a reason?"

Tatsumi nodded. "Of course. I, that is the chief and myself, do not think you are utilizing your power efficiently. You are aware most telempaths use a lot of power in a short time, for relatively short incursions into the psyche. Well your instructor has a very good history of improving both the range and overall effectiveness, as well as developing side talents, that her pupils are not usually aware of." Interesting. The teacher was a woman. Tatsumi was still talking. "Luckily it's a quiet time right now." You mean thought Hisoka, it's a quiet time on easy missions. "So you can start today, a couple of hours a day for three weeks."

Hisoka was careful to cast his eyes down, to conceal the bile that rose in his throat from the amount of anger he was concealing, and responded quietly. "Thank you Tatsumi-san." He followed Tatsumi out the door, working hard to build up his walls. So he was so pathetic he needed extra instruction was he? Well he would prove to them it was not necessary. Whoever this woman was, she was in for a shock.

It was more of a shock to Hisoka though when he saw her. Tatsumi slipped away quietly before Hisoka had assimilated who his teacher was. Obviously European in face and figure, she was dressed in Western clothes. That was another fact to add to his growing conviction about science versus magic. When he died he'd been able to speak Japanese and fairly fluent English. But his understanding now was far beyond what it had been at time of . Did improve language skills? Had part of his brain been enhanced?

She was young, maybe mid twenties, but same height as Hisoka. Her face was open and amiable. Mid length brown hair, more dark brown than black was in a ponytail, and her pale blue eyes were behind black rimmed spectacles. But it wasn't her appearance that had thrown him, it was the power he sensed deep inside her, curled like an unborn child.

She surveyed him dispassionately. "My name's Helene. I'm going to assume you are Hisoka." Her English accent was strong. Used to being arded with stray emotions, he felt like he was surrounded by cool water, a little like he did with Tatsumi. Until five seconds later, when a bolt of thought landed in his mind and began digging. With an audible cry he wrenched it out, unconsciously repelling as hard as he could. Helene's slender body hit the wall, and Hisoka gazed at it horrified. He hadn't meant to hurt her, only to get rid of that irritating niggle in his mind, searching for memories. He needn't have worried, the next bolt lifted him off his feet. It was stronger, more certain as though she knew what she dealt with now. They duelled mentally, each seeking to thrust the other away from powerful memories that dealt with pain particular to them. Hisoka flagged. He hadn't ever met anyone with mental power like this. Maybe if Tatsumi was tested he might, but other than him and that.. he flinched, and Helene took the opening, plunging in. Hisoka gave up, and resigned himself to having his mind plundered. She had won. But amazingly he felt no probing at all. She looked at him, and gently brushed across the surface of his mind, healing cuts gently in his psyche, reading only what he allowed her to read. Inside his head her voice was cool and blue like fresh water. I'm sorry if I hurt you Hisoka. I needed to find out your capability.

Hisoka's own mental voice was black and seemed made of rustling silk, strangely different from his own personality, which was odd as most people's reflected their personality rather than challenging it. That's okay. You gave me a shock, I felt weak, beside your own gifts.

Hm Hisoka. You weren't weak. You put up the best fight I've had in a long time, but you are untrained. You need to be taught, and I appear to be the one to do it. Now where can I find food round here? We'll work on your telempathy after lunch.

Hisoka's mental voice was surprised. I thought we were doing that.

No. That was my appraisal of your telepathic powers. Empathic after lunch.

And that was their introduction.

After lunch, Hisoka led the way to an abandoned room. Helene sat him on the ground and knelt beside him. Her voice was whispery. I'm going to look inside your mind. If there's anything you don't want me to see, hang a sign like this on it. A mental picture of a Stop sign flashed in Hisoka's mind. He nodded and tried to relax.

He let her see most of his experiences since he'd become a Shinigami. She was allowed flashes of his life before he died. But there was a dark blurred area plastered with stop signs about why he'd died. She retreated carefully along the dark passage ways. Interesting Hisoka. I'm impressed to tell the truth. You're very strong both telepathically, and in telempathy. But you appear to have a block about using magic. I can't sense any reason why you can't use it, so it's a little puzzling. You've got quite a nice surprise though in the back of your mind. And no I won't tell you until tomorrow.

She exited back to her own body. Tentatively Hisoka entered her mind, exploring different paths, some of which were cordoned off with red and white tape like a police investigation. It was all mostly normal, but then Hisoka's mind would appear to be so too. He wondered what she was hiding behind those cordoned off places, but dismissed it as none of his business.

It was a shock to hear her voice out loud. "Okay Hisoka. Your major trouble is visualization. Usually I'd recommend this to nobody, as it's the first thing they learn. Most people subconsciously do it all the time, if someone tries to contact their mind, even though they are not talented they build a wall, by imagining bricks and mortar around their mind. And it works unless the attacker is strong enough to break through the mind's unconscious barriers. People can't build it consciously simply because they are not psychically talented enough. However I can find no traces of this in your mind. You skipped straight past visualizing your block, and right into making it. It took less time, but it meant it's sloppy. So the first thing we are going to do is build your wall.

Hisoka closed his eyes, and at superhuman speed surveyed his mind. Summoning a pile of bricks and a bucket of mortar, watched by Helene, he built a part of a wall, and duplicated it around his mind, except for one part that he made of clear unbreakable glass, with an odd system built into it.

Helene couldn't stop laughing. I've never seen it done this way. Most people don't do it physically in their mind. But yours was quicker and neater. What's the glass and speaker for?

For allowing emotions I want to receive, and things I want to hear.

Very clever. Have a look at mine.

Hisoka strolled into hers, the walls were made of concrete and towered over him. But instead of a clear patch and a speaker, she had a spacious lobby with red coated chairs, and a glass coffee table. Wait here. Hisoka waited until part of the concrete swung open and Helene's self image walked out of her castle, clad in the stuff of minds. Silver, and floaty it was part dress, part robe and entirely regal.

It was Hisoka's turn to laugh. An Englishman's mind is his castle hey?

He received a mental slap. And don't you forget boy. I'm queen here.

When the wall was finished, and Hisoka had added a waiting room in imitation of Helenes and she'd added a receptionist in hers, they saw the time. Helene was staying at Tatsumi's house and Hisoka offered to walk her back.

It was late outside, when they reached Tatsumi's house. Hisoka walked onwards towards his own apartment, some way away. When he got there, he slumped on the sofa. Despite the physical tiredness that came with the overuse and extendation of his powers, he felt exhilarated. Someone with actual power had acknowledged him as an equal, had complimented his powers. She hadn't been condescending; she'd treated him as though he needed something that she was willing to give. He was too full of adrenaline to settle down yet, and office hours were over. Instead he lightly spread his mind over the extended area, delighted to feel that despite his tiredness, his range was as wide as ever, and subtle with it. He could feel Tsuzuki and Watari in Watari's apartment talking, and in the light brush that courtesy allowed, felt their simple peacefulness. Other minds touched his briefly, mostly unaware of his brushing past. Helene's mind was broadcasting sleep patterns, but even her dreams were locked against scrutiny, and he admired her minds control. It was a lot better than his own. Even after this amount of time, he still broadcast in his sleep. If he had a nightmare, everyone woke up depressed the next day without realising why, because Hisoka broadcast those emotions like on shortwave radio, to every mind receptive enough to receive the impressions- and all Shinigami's minds were receptive.

He passed over a second set of waves in the same house. But Tatsumi's shadow powers protected his mind from any telepathic contact- including broadcasting. Hisoka wondered idly if Tatsumi was actually able to receive and broadcast, or whether his powers were subconscious and not a matter of choice.

While his body lay on a couch, his mind explored the areas of Meifu, that he hadn't bothered to visit lately, amazed at his own ease. He'd had no idea that his range could extend so far and for so long. It was like flying, riding on invisible wings, far above everyone else. When his mind was clear and unengaged, it was easy to laugh at his so human disappointments and angers and dismiss them as foolish and useless. Once he settled back in his body they returned, but now he was better able to deal with them.

He fell asleep without even realising it, and stupidly forgot his ritual of closing his mind. He should have remembered it particularly today because after his extensive use of his powers, his mind was more receptive to other influences and his sleeping mind was more open to attack.

He dreamt of a white tower, made of ivory in a market town which was deserted. Nothing moved except leaves. Doors were half open, and inside he saw pots boiling, tables laid, washing up water still steaming. It was as though everyone had suddenly- not a minute ago dropped what they were doing and hurried away, but in dreams you can sometimes instinctively tell things, and Hisoka knew without being told, that the town had been like this for fifty years. His feet drew him closer to the white tower, but when he tried to touch it's wall, an electric shock repelled him a few feet. He stepped on something that crunched and realised with sick horror that it was a child's skull. Then the screaming started. High pitched wails poured from the castle's open windows, and as suddenly as they started they stopped. Hisoka advanced- his feet made him, towards the now open door. This time no shock touched him, or at least he did not feel it. The tower was empty except for glowing white stairs. The only decorations were birds pinned to the walls, and Hisoka realised with sick horror that the birds were not , they fluttered feebly, like butterflies pinned to a card without ether. Their broken bodies were piteous, but his hands could not unfasten them, and he was forced to leave them, struggling on the wall, as he mounted the stairs. He didn't know what he would find at the top, but he didn't expect what he found. At the top of the stairs was a familiar figure. "Tatsumi-san!" he gasped.

The figure turned round. "Hisoka! Leave now." The voice was filled with command and a peculiar sort of desperation. "Leave you fool!" But when Hisoka turned to go there was no door and no stairs. He ran to the window but when he put up his hands what seemed like air, was thick and syrupy. Tatsumi dragged his hands away. "Don't put your hands in it. It doesn't lead outside at all; it leads into a different place. I think it's hell."

Hisoka looked round, bewildered. "What are you doing in my dream? Where is this place?"

Tatsumi's voice was dry and bitter. "I'm not in your dream Hisoka. You're in mine. Every night since the day I died, I have come here. I never remember it the next morning. You should not be here. How did you get in, and why?"

Hisoka shrugged genuinely puzzled. "I don't know Tatsumi-san. I fell asleep without shielding, and you must have been actively broadcasting, though I've no idea how."

Tatsumi shook his head slowly. "It was very foolish Kurosaki-kun. Very. You better pray you don't come in here every night." Seeing Hisoka's expectant face, he sighed. "I better tell you what I know. You already know I master shadows. Well in this realm there are no shadows, therefore I am totally without power. I don't know who created it, or why but I believe it is real, and that I did not create this place. I believe that it was the discovery of my powers that precipitated the development of this place. At first I thought it was friendly, a place that would ensure I could harm no-one as I slept, but then I realized it was more ominous. Not only can I not leave this tower, or use my powers, but something uses them itself, and I fear for no good purpose." He finished with a glance out the window.

Hisoka was bewildered. "But I am here. I can leave if I want."

"Only if this place doesn't want to keep you, and I am sure it does want your powers, Hisoka."

Hisoka shook his head. "It can't keep either of us, unless we let it." His dream body sat on the floor, and his mind tenuously found its way back to his real body. "I think you're right Tatsumi-san. This place is not your invention. I can access my body from here, something I can't do in a real dream, but I can do when I'm scanning." He gathered his mind's powers, and threw them against the walls. Almost imperceptibly they shivered, but held firm. He threw them again and again, and each made a hairline . But still they held firm, and Hisoka was obliged to desist from pure exhaustion. When he next spoke his voice was tinged with fear. "I'm sorry Tatsumi-san, I don't think I can." Tatsumi simply shook his head.

"Dawn is near. We will leave then. Tomorrow night shield your mind. Remember I won't remember this during the day. It is best if you do not come here again Hisoka." A low bell sounded, and the door slid open. Tatsumi turned to leave and Hisoka followed. Something thrust him back in the corner and finally frightened, he called Tatsumi. But he was gone. Hisoka breathed deeply, fighting to overcome his natural fear, at being trapped here. Why had Tatsumi been allowed to leave, and not Hisoka? He was only here by . Probably the worst of it was, his mind exhausted from his previous efforts couldn't even contact his body again. He'd have to wait to recuperate before trying to get help. He closed his eyes and lent against the wall. In the real world, his body was still sleeping and gaining energy. Indeed he could feel himself strengthening, and he resolved that as soon as Tatsumi returned he would try and contact Helene. He hoped she didn't think he had simply forgotten to turn up to his lesson. If he was lucky she might even come looking for him. But no mind touched his own throughout the long day. He kept his barriers up high. Whatever ran this place might try and attack him, and use his powers as Tatsumi said his own were used. The hours passed slowly, but Hisoka used the time well in exploring the room. What had seemed empty and blank was in fact filled with curious artefacts, whose use he could only guess at. There were books written in a language he couldn't understand, and pictures that changed if you looked away from them. One beautiful thing was a lizard that blinked and moved if you looked at it out of the corner of your eye. Once he felt a tendril quest at his mind tentatively, but he rebuffed it so fiercely that he didn't feel it come again.

As night approached, he waited eagerly for Tatsumi to return but it wasn't until eleven at night, that he heard footsteps. Tatsumi came in the room, and nodded to Hisoka, who asked him if anyone had noticed he hadn't come to work. Tatsumi looked a little embarrassed. "We did notice, but you're so rarely absent, that we assumed it was urgent, also we had a rather busy time in work."

Hisoka looked at him coldly. "I see." In this strange place where Tatsumi wouldn't remember what Hisoka said, Hisoka decided he might as well tell Tatsumi what he was really thinking.

"And why was my participation so non-essential, Tatsumi-san? Are my abilities so useless, that they are considered so fragile?"

Tatsumi was startled by the ice in his tone. "Don't be ridiculous. Your specialized skills were not necessary for this assignment."

"Oh. I see. And you really, really needed a scientist I suppose? And I'll bet Wakaba was necessary as well. It's odd isn't it, that my skills have been unnecessary for the past months, that every single time something's come up, I have been moved to the sidelines to let the big boys sort it out?"

"That's not true..."

Hisoka carried on, overriding the protestations. "I have been limited to exorcisms nothing more. I can see this department has absolutely no need for such specialized skills as telepathy or empathy. Was my performance at Kyoto that bad? Do I really deserve to be punished, for my bad performance on that occasion?"

This time it was Tatsumi who overrode Hisoka. "Stop it! No-one has ever doubted your fitness to be part of the department. You saved Tsuzuki which was more than I could do; you're his reason to carry on. I'd say that makes you pretty essential."

"How dare you! How dare you throw that reason at me! Is that the reason I'm here? Because if I wasn't, Tsuzuki would sink into depression, and where would your precious department be then, without it's priceless asset? How do you have the nerve to say that to anyone's face, that they are useless except as an accessory to someone else? I warn you Tatsumi-san, if you ever say that to me again, I will be forced to show you how non useless I am."

"I'm afraid Kurosaki-kun, you overreach yourself. I claimed no such thing. You are integral to this department for far more than your connection to Tsuzuki. You are most certainly not useless, and we appreciate far more than you know. We don't blame you for Kyoto. You did far more than was thought possible."

Silence fell in the room, until Hisoka remembered to reach out for Helene's mind. She was asleep, and he gently tapped her walls. Immediately she woke. Ropes wound around Hisoka holding him fast. When she saw who it was she relaxed and the ropes fell away. "Why didn't you come to your lesson?" Quickly he outlined the situation.

Immediately she took control. "I can sense your mind. It's being held prisoner by something more powerful, which we can't break. However we can break both of you out, because the mind cannot use its full force against itself, without irreparable damage. You will be the focus point for both our powers."

Hisoka felt her dissolve into his mind, staying rigidly in a fixed area. That was necessary, because while she was in his mind, both would be able to see fully into the other's mind, and neither wanted that. Thus reinforced, he threw his powers against the walls, and they started to crumble. He remembered what Helene said about visualization, and each wave of power he visualized as a black bolt destroying the walls around him. With Helene's power behind him, he burst through the walls. But to return down the path he had used to come here, required more power, and he started to flag. He could see his bedroom and body in front of him, but already he could feel his mind sucked backwards to where the tower gleamed newly built. With a grunt he concentrated his mind on attacking Tatsumi's mind, at the walls with the strength rage and fear lent to him, Tatsumi tried to help, though the barriers had been up for so long it was near impossible. Finally Hisoka accessed the main brain cortex, and with a brutal hijacking he pulled raw power from Tatsumi, fleeing back into his body. With his last iota of strength he pulled Helene and Tatsumi's minds back into their own bodies as well, letting the remnants of their minds flee his.

His last horrified thought was disgust at his actions, and hoping that Tatsumi wouldn't remember what had happened. He slept three whole days, not noticing the worried people around him, trying to wake him from his semi-coma state. The first thing he saw when he woke up was Tatsumi's face. He turned to avoid the stern blue eyes.

"I'm sorry Tatsumi," he whispered. "I'm so sorry." There was no reply, and when he turned round, there was no-one in the room. Maybe there never had been.

When he next woke, Watari was adjusting his blanket. When he noticed Hisoka was awake, he gave a loud cry and swooped down, a vaguely frightening process. He enveloped Hisoka in a hug, and then started fussing with food and water. Tsuzuki came in next, smiling. Hisoka didn't know how to respond to all the kindness. No-one yelled at him, like he deserved.

His limbs still felt weak enough that he was unable to get up, and his mind was so buffeted that he couldn't, even with barriers down sense anything, but the strongest of emotions, or thoughts so strong they were almost projected. Helene visited. She wasn't as weak as he was, and hadn't suffered the blackout he had experienced, but some marks were still left. She fully understood what Hisoka had, had to do. Of course she had been shielded, unlike Tatsumi and therefore used to being drawn on for power. He thanked her for her help, and smiling she shook her head. Her voice, fainter than usual sounded in his head. Don't worry Hisoka. I'm used to it. Get some rest.

The only person who did not visit was Tatsumi. After two more days, he moved around out of bed, and his psychic powers were almost fully back. Still he hadn't seen Tatsumi, and the first thing he did was write his resignation letter, and a request to be transferred to another department, where he felt he could be of more use. He sent them in, care of Watari who knew nothing of what they contained. He tried to feel glad he was leaving but couldn't. He'd miss them all, Tsuzuki most of all. But he couldn't work in the same office as Tatsumi, a man whose mind he'd plundered and attacked. Tatsumi unused to being the source of withdrawal, had withdrawn himself into the depths of his mind, after his walls had been knocked down. Hisoka done the stupidest thing possible; he had knocked down the years old walls that surrounded an impressionable mind. This meant that if Tatsumi had the slightest empathic sense, he'd go into information overload. Tatsumi could have been driven to and insanity by the senses newly given. Luckily he'd suffered no harm- his shadow powers had cushioned his mind, providing a basic cushion on which to recuperate.

Watari was very careful not to let Hisoka stand before he was ready, but he could do nothing about the misery he could sense even without the aid of an empathic power. If only Tatsumi would reassure Hisoka that he had only done what he'd had to do, to free all three of them, from whatever had held Tatsumi's mind captive every night for at least fifty years. But Tatsumi refused to see him, claiming that he was too busy. Finally after another day of Hisoka moping around miserably looking out the window, Watari had gone to find Tatsumi to inform him that Hisoka needed someone to tell him that what he'd done had been necessary, and that he wouldn't believe anyone except the primary person he had harmed. He found Tatsumi sitting at his customary desk, doing his usual paperwork with the same blank face as always. Watari knew he definitely remembered the details, because it was Tatsumi who had explained what had happened when Hisoka had been almost comatose, and Helene incapable of saying anything understandable. When he poured out his impassioned statement, Tatsumi listened as carefully and clearly as he did to anything. Then he tossed a piece of paper at Watari, who caught in a reflex action he was sure he wouldn't have been able to do if he'd thought about it. In Hisoka's neat slanted handwriting was both a letter of resignation, citing unsuitability for the departmental atmosphere, and a request for transferral. "That," Tatsumi said heavily, "is the reason I haven't been to see him. He obviously does not wish to see me. Before he effected our departure, he unleashed what he really thought of his place here. It was not a wise decision on our part to keep him away from those specific missions."

Watari protested. "But they were traps that had been specifically designed for Hisoka. There was no chance he could have escaped them, as they were specifically keyed to his life , and were totally lethal. I think it's a particular doctor we all know, and even if it isn't well the person is obviously dangerous."

"Hisoka doesn't know that. All he knows is that we think he is incapable of handling anything more than simple cases. And if we did tell him the real reason- that we're afraid we'll lose him to Muraki's traps, he'll rush in heedless anyway. And with him we'll lose not only Hisoka, but Tsuzuki. We all love and value Hisoka, but if we lost him we'd survive. The odds with Tsuzuki are that he'd sink into an irreversible depression, with the lose of the only person whose been able to put up with his vagaries for more than a few months." He covered his face. "I couldn't have coped as Hisoka did. I acknowledge that freely."

"Well that doesn't matter Tatsumi. I think if you went there now, and told him you're not angry at all, and explained to him the real reasons, both why he's been held back from cases, and why Helene was summoned, that he'll probably rescind his resignation. Come back with me."

He led the way back to the rooms that served as the infirmary for those Shinigami who needed a place to rest and recuperate. Hisoka was sitting by the window sill. He heard footsteps enter the room. "Hey Watari," he sighed. "Can you tell me why the seasons never change?"

"Because the only person who could change them, passed to judging a long time ago, and nobody has figured out the algorithms that control the weather yet." Hisoka stiffened when he heard Tatsumi's voice

but didn't turn round.

"Why? Who wrote the program for this place anyway? God? EnMaDaicCho?"

"Some claim EnMaDaiCho is God, but there is another school of thought that says he is only the doorkeeper. He chooses who goes on, and who stays. I believe God did not create this place. Maybe a deputy with a strange sense of humour- possibly EnMaDaiCho did. As God created Earth, so this place is a half way house, evolved so that those like ourselves who cannot let go of life, either because of their gifts or because of vengeance they must fufill still on Earth- in your case both. We're all bureaucrats at heart I guess." He took a deep breath. "I want to thank you Hisoka. Thank you for what you did in getting us all out of that place. It would have been easy just to free yourself, and leave us there, but you risked your sanity to bring us all back."

Hisoka looked at him. "But I disobeyed the deepest rule. You never attack a friend's mind, and you certainly never hijack their brain just to use their power."

"If you hadn't we'd still be there, drained of power. And I never wrote those rules. As I remember I was trying my best to help you find the power inside me. I gave my consent to you, because I trusted you not to screw up. And speaking of messing up, I have something to apologise to you for." He related in short the details of why Hisoka had not been included in some cases. He hesitated then went on. "Helene was brought here not just to help you increase your powers, but also to defend your mind. The wall you built is much stronger, as I'm sure you know." He hesitated awkwardly then said, "Get well soon." And like a shadow himself he left the room.

Damn unfortunately for me, though perhaps fortunately for you XD I was kicked off for an unspecified reason, and alas lost the only complete version of this chapter. The rest survived intact, and I will revise them and repost in the next few days, but there is a good 1000 words missing off this chapter, and though I've tried to remedy it, I can't remember what was said, so its rather choppy, until such time as my memory gets its act together!