Hisoka couldn't hear Tatsumi over the roaring of the flames. Watari was yelling for him from somewhere behind, but Hisoka's eyes saw only Tsuzuki, arms raised as if thanking God for this chance.

"Tsuzuki!" he screamed, coughing as a ball of smoke caught in his throat. The fire bit at his skin, but he didn't care when he saw Tsuzuki turn slowly to face him with those empty, glassy eyes.

"Hisoka…" Tsuzuki's voice was empty too, for a moment, and he squinted as if trying to decide if Hisoka was real.

Hisoka's eyes stung and watered, but whether from heat or tears he wasn't entirely sure. "Come on!" he urged, and his voice didn't seem nearly loud enough, nearly strong enough. "Come on…" He shielded his face when a plank of wood fell from above, covering him in soot, but he still didn't budge.

"Hisoka…" Tsuzuki raised his voice as though realizing who it was. "No! Go back, Hisoka! You'll be killed too!"

Hisoka wouldn't go, refused to go. "Come on!" he shouted, and then softer, "Baka… you think I'm going to let you die after all we've been through?"

The fire burned on all sides, threatening to consume him…

I'm… so tired, Hisoka…

He couldn't move, and watched as Tsuzuki smiled, the flame embracing his perfect body; Tsuzuki screamed horribly in either pain or pleasure, and Hisoka reached out to him but couldn't make it…

Tsuzuki's skin was peeling away in the fire, revealing muscle that was off-colored, strange; Tsuzuki was getting his wish, his immortal life burning alone with their surroundings.

Tsuzuki screamed again, those once-lovely eyes burning…

"Tsuzuki!"

Hisoka's eyes flew open in the near-darkness, his breathing harsh and fast in his mouth. He tasted salt and gripped the sheets to keep from falling out of bed.

A dream. Just a dream.

He sat up slowly and could feel a cold sweat on his forehead and neck, chilling him in comparison to the blistering heat of his nightmare. It was childish to be so uneasy after a dream, but his heartbeat pounded in his ears like a drum just the same.

He tried to tell himself that it wasn't real. Tsuzuki was in the next room, sound asleep and dreaming of pie… but still the image of Tsuzuki's glassy eyes haunted him, and he slipped out of bed uneasily.

Hisoka shouldn't have been so desperate for Tsuzuki's presence. But his dreams were just as likely to feature Touda's black flames as Muraki anymore, and Hisoka tried every night to push from his mind the idea of what would've happened if he hadn't gotten those key cards. Tsuzuki had become everything to him, as frightening as that thought was; he was totally dependent on another person.

He padded through the hallway in his socks, feeling exceptionally small when he stopped at Tsuzuki's bedroom door. Swallowing, he slid it open, and found that his partner was facing the door in his sleep, breathing even and eyes closed. Hisoka took a breath and stepped up to him, wanting to wake him without having to touch the skin that he was positive was hot, burning from fire.

"Tsuzuki," he whispered. In response, Tsuzuki moaned quietly in his sleep, burrowing further into the pillow.

Hisoka sighed and said louder, "Tsuzuki." No reply. Deciding it was inevitable, he reached out with a shaking hand and laid it firmly on Tsuzuki's bare upper arm. There was a reason that Hisoka was so opposed to physical contact, and was reminded of this as he was thrown headfirst into Tsuzuki's own dream.

He was surrounded by high, white walls. A man was there, too, in a pristine and white coat, but was severely out-of-focus. Nothing made sense here, and he touched the tourniquet on his right wrist that covered the scars, proof of the sin of his existence. He didn't deserve to live, he didn't deserve to live, he was worthless and wrong and disgusting…

The man changed, hair turning darker in this blurry black-and-white setting; his sister's eyes were sad and dark as they looked at him in disappointment.

I'm so sorry, he tried to tell her, but all that came out was silence, like one of those old 1920s movies. I didn't mean to, please forgive me…

I don't want to die, Asato! I don't want to die!

No, please… I didn't…

Her pretty mouth formed inaudible words and phrases, long eyelashes wet with unshed tears. Finally he could make out the word she was trying to utter, and he felt his heart constrict in his chest.

It's your fault, Asato. Bakemouno, you don't deserve to live!

He pushed a pair of rusted pruning shears into her throat, half-sobbing, half-laughing at the noise she made when she choked. Blood tried to force its way up into her mouth, but all that appeared there were white, white roses; white, white roses drenched in dark, dark red.

In order for a perfect rose to bloom…

He was in a garden now. A wide, never-ending garden, and the clippings of white, white roses scattered the ground. A boy was sitting in the garden, clipping the flowers of their buds with bloodstained shears, his face twisted and young and distorted…

The boy turned around, green, green eyes looking into his own. The boy laughed a moment before the garden caught fire, Touda dancing across the sky like it wasn't even there. He expected Hisoka to say something like he did before, that he could live for him… instead, all that came was the word bakemouno before he drove the shears through his own chest.

a sacrifice is necessary.

Hisoka! Came the silent scream, the breakdown, the flames exploding and expanding, and why couldn't the boy just have let him die alone, like he deserved…

Hisoka was back in the bedroom once he'd regained control, and Tsuzuki's arm was warm and trembling beneath his hand. Hisoka felt tears in his eyes, his heart slamming, his mind racing…

"Hisoka." All too alive, rubbing his eyes. They were very, very purple in the dimness of the room, but Hisoka was used to the alien nature of their color by now. "What… is something wrong?"

Count on Tsuzuki to be constantly concerned.

Hisoka felt so young, and didn't remove his arm because Tsuzuki's warmth was living, breathing; it wasn't from skin peeling away from muscle in the flame, or blisters erupting over an eternal body. Tsuzuki was alive.

"Can't sleep."

Bless Tsuzuki, who didn't ask any questions as he threw the blankets off of himself and stumbled out of bed in just a pair of black sweatpants. Hisoka wondered why his wardrobe was so excessively black – black, the color of death and loss and something… else. Hisoka followed him into the kitchen, confused when he began to boil water.

"When I was little," Tsuzuki said groggily, "my sister would make me coffee when I couldn't sleep. I must've been around ten or so at the time, but it's a comfort even when you're old and wise like me."

Hisoka rolled his eyes at the idiotic grin that spread over Tsuzuki's face, but said nothing. He was grateful for anything Tsuzuki gave him, because he was alive and happy and the same Tsuzuki he was before Kyoto. It seemed almost too much to ask, but Hisoka could see it with his own eyes.

'When I was ten…' How long ago was it, Hisoka wondered. Tsuzuki was so boyish and enthusiastic that it could've easily been only sixteen years ago instead of the near century of time that had passed.

He was so happy.

"You were close to your sister, weren't you?" Hisoka asked. Cooking, gardening, petting his hair and trying in vain to heal the wounds. Hisoka never had any siblings that he knew of, nobody to comfort him with coffee and burnt cookies until now.

There was a moment's silence, and Tsuzuki didn't smile as he said, "It's mocha. I hope you don't mind."

Hisoka was well-acquainted with the avoidance technique, and let the subject drop like a stone into a pond of unaware gold fish, all scattering in surprise…

"I don't mind."

Tsuzuki was strangely slow tonight, almost lethargic as if he didn't knew where he was, as if he didn't quite recognize his own kitchen but could feel a familiarity in newspapers and the dust on the shelves.

The coffee was so sweet in his mouth, and as he drank it, he could feel Tsuzuki's emotions shift from bright, bright blue to a sort of dulling pink-white, like a faded Sakura blossom sitting out in the snow. Out-of-place, like the feeling shouldn't be here lingering on Tsuzuki's tongue like over-sweetened coffee.

"I think I put in too much sugar," Tsuzuki mumbled. "I keep forgetting you don't like sweets."

It was far too quiet, and Hisoka set his empty cup on the counter with the pile of dirty dishes to break the silence; he'd consumed the beverage far too quickly and felt the pull of near-sickness at his stomach.

"I'm fine," he said aggressively. His head hurt from Tsuzuki's buried emotions, coming at him in blue and pink and green but never violet…

Tsuzuki's purple eyes focused on him, and Hisoka tried not to mind because it was Tsuzuki and he trusted Tsuzuki, even when he couldn't always trust Tsuzuki's power.

"Was it… that dream again?"

In a different situation, Hisoka could've laughed. Yes, it was his recurring dream; but this new one involved Tsuzuki, those lovely demon eyes closing tightly at the blistering pain of Touda's fire.

A dream in which he couldn't get to Tsuzuki in time.

"Yeah," he replied. "It's not a big deal."

Tsuzuki had concern now, boiling over a pale, pale gold. "It's a pretty big deal to me. Recurring dreams about your death must be scary."

Muraki doesn't scare me anymore. You are what frightens me now.

Hisoka looked away, and then to the floor. Besides, dreaming about a life you only half-remember… Tsuzuki's hiding got on his nerves; the hiding from the concern of others, the running from the ghosts of his past.

"I'm okay," Hisoka repeated, and meant it. He was fine; being a Shinigami had nothing to do with his ability to heal. He could adapt because he didn't have a choice.

Tsuzuki nodded and ran a hand through his sleep-tangled chocolate brown hair. "All right. You don't have to talk about Muraki if you don't want to… I'm sorry."

"Don't—"

"No. I'm sorry." And back to blue, as those hands fidgeted, looking for something to do. Hisoka reached over and took them in his own because it was as much as he could do at the moment. Tsuzuki was hot to the touch, burning him with a searing heat that could only come from the hands of someone on the verge of going under.

Tsuzuki looked into Hisoka's eyes at the intimacy that the simple touch stood for. Tsuzuki's eyes were sad, giving away his ghosts, but they weren't empty like they were back then; now they were overflowing with emotion, and you didn't need Hisoka's empathy to see that.

"What happens," Hisoka asked softly, "when you resign from being a Shinigami?"

Tsuzuki answered, "You move on. Your soul moves on," and tried to breathe.

Hisoka looked at him. "Why haven't you?"

Tsuzuki tried to move away, but Hisoka kept his promise and didn't let go. He would never let go again; he wanted to feel every color of Tsuzuki's rainbow, every hue until his soul turned black from the overload.

"Why haven't you moved on?"

Tsuzuki's breathing was uneven and fast, his pupils dilated with just a ring of violet. He shifted his weight as Hisoka held him tighter, feeling the dark orange of something new pulse in the air surrounding their clasped hands.

Hisoka blinked away his tears. "Fine," he said, and let go. He already knew the answer anyway; Tsuzuki didn't want to move on. He wasn't satisfied with simply death, but to be obliterated, his soul destroyed along with his perfect immortal body and every sin he ever committed. Hisoka turned to go, not wishing to face something so depressing, but Tsuzuki caught his arm.

"Because it's not enough," Tsuzuki whispered.

Hisoka hardly knew what was happening before it happened. He ignored the orange behind the eyelids and he stepped closer to his partner, resting his hands on Tsuzuki's bare chest. Tsuzuki inhaled sharply, and Hisoka's empathy was screaming out at the blend of emotions, the blend of colors. He closed his eyes, sensing fear and denial and guilt and something deeper, something untouched.

Tsuzuki's hands were clenched, his eyes wide. Hisoka could feel his heartbeat, a rhythm that shouldn't be there, one-two one-two like a dance count. Tsuzuki liked to dance, Hisoka remembered. He touched Tsuzuki's nose and eyelids and then even his mouth, opened in surprise.

It wasn't enough.

Hisoka threaded his finger into Tsuzuki's hair and pulled him sharply forward to mash their mouths together. Tsuzuki was hot and wet and so very, very alive for someone so very, very dead. He pushed his fingers forcefully underneath Tsuzuki's watchband to touch the scars, ugly and marred and beautiful.

He pushed the kiss deeper at Tsuzuki's moan of shockconfusionregret, and Tsuzuki tasted sickeningly sweet. Tsuzuki flared in violet for the first time, and Hisoka dug into Tsuzuki's scalp to get that whimper of near-pain. Hisoka growled, shoving his tongue inside Tsuzuki's mouth, and their teeth clacked together painfully…

Tsuzuki pushed him away like he never did before, looking lost and confused and helplessly angry, and at least this was a Tsuzuki that Hisoka knew.

"Don't…" Tsuzuki's voice was tense, frothing at a dull red. "You don't…"

Hisoka watched him stumble over words, phrases lost in emotion.

"I'm sorry," Hisoka whispered, and was surprised as Tsuzuki kissed him. A forced affection, just like those stupid smiles, but the desperation was clear.

Tsuzuki was here and hot and alive, but it would never be enough.

Somehow, Hisoka was okay with it. This didn't have to be enough, only a semblance of something that would be. If Tsuzuki would only hold still.

If Tsuzuki would let it be enough, and stop running from his rainbow.