Disclaimer: I do not own Yami no Matsuei. No profit is made. It's all just for fun.
Author: Green Sail
Summery: Tsuzuki dances to forget. Tatsumi dances for Tsuzuki.
Timeline: Pre-series. When Tatsumi and Tsuzuki were partners and Tsuzuki was an emotional wreck.
Tatsumi is tired. He looks down at his feet to the shadows sprawled across the floor. He is too proud to use them for support, but his shoulders slump a little. "Tsuzuki," he says. His voice is soft, gentle. He does not want to be gentle. "Tsuzuki, let's stop for a moment."
Tsuzuki shakes his head. Black hair flutters to make more shadows, this time on Tsuzuki's face, and Tatsumi notices dark circles under Tsuzuki's eyes. It looks as though his skin has been colored in with ink. Shadow Ink, his mind whispers. Tatsumi bites the inside of his cheek, the sting bringing him back to the present. Tsuzuki hasn't noticed anything.
Tatsumi tries again. "Tsuzuki, I—" I need to rest. We have to stop. I'm tired. "Let's stop for a moment."
"No, Tatsumi. We can't leave in the middle of a waltz." Tsuzuki steps expertly. One, two, three. One, two, three. Twirl. "I don't want to upset the musicians."
Tatsumi looks around. They are the only ones in the room. The music comes from a small black box that Watari smuggled into Meifu just last week. Tatsumi closes his eyes to the light from the candles perched in the alcoves of the walls.
"There are no musicians," he says.
Tsuzuki's head jerks to indicate an empty corner. "They're in the shadows," he said. "You can't see them." He turns around. "People like it better that way."
Tatsumi, who for all intents and purposes is the shadows, sighs. "Tsuzuki . . ."
The music stops, but Tsuzuki doesn't let go of his partner. Tatsumi wants to scream. Instead, he grasps Tsuzuki's cold hands in his own, and disentangles the other from his clothing. He steps away. Tsuzuki follows.
"No," he says.
"It's over," Tatsumi says. He is tired enough to collapse where he stands, dignity be damned.
"There's another waltz," Tsuzuki insists. He isn't looking at Tatsumi. "We have to finish the whole thing."
"That's the end, Tsuzuki," Tatsumi says. "We've been dancing for hours."
"Minutes," Tsuzuki says. His grip on Tatsumi's suit tightens, the fabric clenched in a white-knuckled fist.
"Tsuzuki . . ."
"Tsuzuki, look at me." He reaches out to grasp Tsuzuki by the chin. "Asato," he tries.
Tsuzuki's eyes meet with his. They are red-rimmed.
"Tatsumi I," his voice cracks. He tries to look away, but Tatsumi won't let him.
"Tomorrow," Tatsumi says. He lets go of Tsuzuki's chin, and traces his hand down Tsuzuki's cheek. "We'll do it again tomorrow night."
"I'm sorry," Tsuzuki says. He wants to let go of Tatsumi's shirt, but he can't. "I'm sorry." He bows his head. "I don't—"
"I know," Tatsumi says. "I know." He places his hand over Tsuzuki's. "I'm not upset."
"Tomorrow evening?" Tsuzuki asks. His voice is quiet enough to be mistaken for a breeze. Tatsumi can barely hear him, but he knows how to answer.
"I expect you to be on time."
Tsuzuki nods. With patience bordering on sainthood, Tatsumi wait for Tsuzuki to step away.
There is a wrinkle in the fabric of Tatsumi's suit where Tsuzuki's hand has been. He gives a ghost of a smile. It makes Tatsumi's chest hurt.
"Thank you, Tatsumi," Tsuzuki says.
Tatsumi watches as Tsuzuki leaves the room, his boots clicking. His eyes are downcast, but Tatsumi knows he does not see the swirling patterns adorning the floor. Tsuzuki sees faces. Tatsumi shudders. He does not want to know what else Tsuzuki sees reflected in the marble.
Tomorrow night, Tatsumi will forgo fixing the budget and organizing his office. He will not work overtime to keep up with his reports. Instead, he will travel to the Hall of Candles, where the Count is willing to lend them his ballroom in exchange for the pleasure of watching Tsuzuki dance. Tatsumi will consent to be Tsuzuki's partner and will dance until his feet are too sore and his legs too tired to continue.
The next day, his coworkers will tell him that Tsuzuki is falling, and dragging Tatsumi down along with him. They will comment on his haphazard look and his messy office. Watari will ask him to return his record player. Chief Konoe won't say anything, but he'll have more lines in his forehead than before, as his gaze switches back and forth between Tatsumi and Tsuzuki. But Tatsumi will pay them no heed. If dancing helps Tsuzuki to forget, then Tatsumi is willing to sacrifice his evenings for eternity.