"Hisoka, you're pouting," Wakaba said, as she, Tsuzuki, and Watari walked along the sidewalk. "It's so cute!"

Watari and Wakaba had offered to take Tsuzuki out to dinner after the pair had finished working. Hisoka grumbled and drug his feet, as Tsuzuki fell into step beside him.

"I'm sorry I insisted you come along," Tsuzuki said. "If I'd known you were so against it --" Hisoka shook his head.

"No, it's okay," Hisoka said. "Crowded places just make me uneasy."

"Of course," Tsuzuki said sadly. "I should have been more considerate."

"I said it's okay," Hisoka said. "I'm -- I'm actually really glad that you're getting to do something nice after spending your birthday cooped up in the office with me."

"I like being with you," Tsuzuki said with a shrug.

Before Hisoka could say anything, Tsuzuki had plastered himself to the window of a bakery they were passing, staring longingly at the apple pies on display.

"Come on, Tsuzuki, you're drooling on the glass," Hisoka said irritably. "The people inside look frightened."

Tsuzuki reluctantly complied, laughing and sharing jokes with Watari and Wakaba merrily as they continued, before noticing Hisoka had fallen out of step with them.

"Now who's drooling on shop windows?" Tsuzuki asked with amusement as Hisoka peered past the glass of a book shop. "See something you like?"

"Oh, an author I like has a new book out," Hisoka said with a shrug and rejoined them.

xxxx

On their way back from the restaurant, Tsuzuki sighed contentedly, supporting Watari as he swayed drunkenly beside him, singing a little song to himself.

"That was the best birthday dinner ever, guys," Tsuzuki said, his eyes welling with tears. He'd had a bit too much to drink himself.

"Tsuzuki, here," Hisoka said, looking at his feet as he thrust something into the taller man's hand.

"What's this?" Tsuzuki said, looking at the crumpled bill.

"I know you're broke. It's for the pie you saw earlier," Hisoka muttered.

"But you've already done so --" Tsuzuki began.

"Just take it already!" Hisoka snapped. "I wanted to thank you for helping me earlier at work."

Tsuzuki needed no more explanation in urging him to procure his coveted sweet. Giving another quick word of thanks, he nearly sent Watari sprawling to the pavement below as he sprinted off down the sidewalk.

"He sure does like his deserts," Wakaba said with a laugh as she took over being Watari's support.

They hadn't gotten far before Tsuzuki ran back to them, looking ridiculously pleased with himself as he thrust a bag at Hisoka. The stunned younger man observed the bookstore printing on the package, and looked up at his partner.

"You bought me the book," Hisoka said with amazement.

"Bet he's the only one that's surprised," Watari said with a hiccup.

"Aww! That's the sweetest thing, ever!" Wakaba cried.

"Never mind that he bought it with Hisoka's money," Watari said with a giggle.

"Thank you, Tsuzuki," Hisoka said, peering down into the sack.

He didn't have the heart to tell him that he'd gotten the wrong book.

xxxx

Watari and Hisoka had gone in a different direction, Hisoka looking none too pleased at taking over as Watari's crutch as they staggered away.

"Tsuzuki," Wakaba said quietly once they were alone. "You're in love with Hisoka, aren't you?" Tsuzuki stopped.

"Is this some kind of conspiracy?" Tsuzuki asked. "Why does everyone keep asking me that?"

"Um, because it's obvious?" Wakaba asked.

"Look, just because I bought him a book when I really wanted that pie --" Tsuzuki began.

"And there's the way you look at him, and --"

"All right, all right, already!" Tsuzuki said. "Am I in the Twilight Zone today or what?" He shook his head.

Hijime Terazuma was standing on the sidewalk near Wakaba's apartment, going over in his mind any explanations he could give that would make it sound as if he wasn't stalking her, as he failed to run away before she noticed him.

"I -- I lost my cat. Have you seen it?" Terazuma asked, his eyes darting around in anticipation of the return of the entirely fabricated feline.

"You don't have a cat, Hijime," Wakaba said blankly, before the two dark haired shinigami focused on one another, sizing each other up with scowls.

In a desperate attempt to diffuse the mounting tension between the men, Wakaba hastily began chatting away about their evening, enjoying herself immensely in recounting the touching story of Tsuzuki's and Hisoka's repressed love. Terazuma glared at Tsuzuki until she was through.

"I need to speak with you privately," Terazuma said, pulling Tsuzuki away and out of earshot. When they were alone, Tsuzuki whimpered pitifully.

"Not you, too! Come on now, this is getting too weird!" Tsuzuki said with defeat. "All right! I admit it! I'm in love with Hisoka! Are you happy now?"

Terazuma raised one eyebrow, looking at the other man like he'd sprouted a second head.

"Um, so what? I was just going to ask you why you were spending time alone with --"

But Tsuzuki wasn't listening.

"And I bet you were going to tell me that Hisoka must love me, too, after giving me so much stuff for my birthday!" Tsuzuki cried with joy.

"Actually, I was considering kicking your --"

"Wow! That felt great!" Tsuzuki said cheerfully. "Thanks for helping me out, Terazuma!"

Terazuma stiffened and gave a low growl as Tsuzuki hugged him tightly before running off in the direction from which he'd come.

xxxx

"Tsuzuki?" Hisoka said with confusion as he opened his door. "Didn't I just see you?"

"Well, yeah, but -- can I come inside?" Tsuzuki asked, squirming.

"Did you stop by just to use the bathroom?" Hisoka asked warily.

"No! I mean, yes. I mean, I do need to, but that's not why I came by," Tsuzuki said, rushing into the room as Hisoka stepped aside with a sigh.

"That's what you get for drinking too much," Hisoka muttered.

Tsuzuki found Hisoka curled up on the sofa with a book when he finished using the facilities, and stared affectionately at the side of his face for a moment before glancing down at the book.

"I didn't know you like romance novels, Hisoka," Tsuzuki said in a teasing tone, flopping down on the loveseat beside him.

"I don't," Hisoka said, looking up with a withering gaze and blushing. "I'm just reading the one you bought me, because I don't have anything else to read."

"Oh," Tsuzuki said, slowly comprehending. "I got you the wrong book, didn't I? I guess I got so excited that I didn't pay attention to what I was getting."

"It doesn't matter," Hisoka said with a shrug. "It's the thought that counts."

"You seem to like it anyway," Tsuzuki said cheerfully.

"What? What are you talking about?" Hisoka asked with fervent denial, dropping the book in his lap like it had bit him.

"I mean, you seem to have gotten pretty far into it already," Tsuzuki said, pointing to where the bookmark was.

"I was just skimming it really," Hisoka said. Tsuzuki laughed.

"Oh, I see. Skipping ahead to the steamy bits, were we?" Tsuzuki said with a wink, reaching for the book.

"I was not!" Hisoka cried with embarrassment, grabbing the book and trying to hold it out of his partner's reach.

"Bet you were," Tsuzuki said triumphantly, leaning over the boy and trying to reach the novel.

They both paused, as Tsuzuki looked down from where their fingers met in the battle for the book, noticing how close they were, each of them panting for breath from the struggle. Hisoka swallowed hard as their eyes locked upon each other's.

"Tsuzuki," Hisoka said softly. Tsuzuki could feel the boy's heart pounding from where their chests were pressed together.

"Got it!" Tsuzuki announced, using the momentary distraction to wrest the book from Hisoka's grasp. Giggling with glee, he batted Hisoka's hands away and flipped to where the other had been reading.

"Let's see. 'Ryo pressed Jaime against the wall, finally cornering his prey with bated breath, enjoying the friction as their hardened manhoods --'" Tsuzuki read, his eyes growing wide as Hisoka wrenched the book from his now feeble grip.

"That's about two men," Tsuzuki said blankly, looking at the mortified boy at the end of the loveseat. "I bought you a yaoi themed romance novel."

Tsuzuki gaped, stunned, as he heard a strange little noise escape from his partner that he certainly did not identify with the stoic boy. The little twitter grew louder, as he saw the corners of Hisoka's mouth turn involuntarily upward.

"Hisoka?" Tsuzuki asked without recognition, giving him a timid poke, as the person he could have sworn was his partner broke into laughter.

Oh my God. I've finally driven him completely insane, Tsuzuki thought with panic, as Hisoka howled, pounding his fist against the cushions. How am I going to explain to Tatsumi that I broke my partner?

"I have to admit," Hisoka said, gasping for breath and wiping his watering eyes, "I was a little surprised at your boldness."

"So, um, you like reading that sort of thing?" Tsuzuki asked, as Hisoka calmed down, fighting back the odd chuckle at the expression on his partner's face.

"No, not really. It's not my thing," Hisoka said, returning slowly to his more sober self.

Tsuzuki's face fell, feeling like he'd made a complete ass of himself.

"I see," Tsuzuki said slowly. "I think I'd better be g--"

"I -- I like you though," Hisoka interrupted softly, looking away.

"You do?" Tsuzuki asked hesitantly, his heart swelling with hope.

"Of course I do, idiot," Hisoka whispered glancing up him shyly. "Isn't it obvious?"

"I guess I really am an idiot," Tsuzuki said, shaking his head and smiling. "But you love me, though," Hisoka said.

"Yes, I do," Tsuzuki said, placing his hand over Hisoka's and rubbing it with his thumb. I guess I'm not the only one who is willing to act a bit against my nature around the one I love, Tsuzuki thought with wonder. "Even Terazuma knew."

"Terezuma?" Hisoka asked, wrinkling his nose in confusion.

"It's a long story," Tsuzuki said with a smile.

"Let's -- let's save it for another time then, okay?" Hisoka said, allowing Tsuzuki to pull him closer.

"Good idea," Tsuzuki said, kissing him tenderly.