Disclaimer: Not mine.


Tsuna got out of the car and onto the gravel path leading to their…house.

Xanxus got out of the driver's seat and grunted at him. A command, Tsuna surmised. He hurried to the back of the car to help with the luggage. Of course, in the end, most of it was carried by Xanxus who frankly had all the muscles between the two of them.

As they approached the…house, Tsuna took stock of the…whole picture. It was a dreary October, brown and orange decorating the tops of trees and lining the ground with a crunchy carpet. The air was crisp and cold, blowing a few ragged leaves here and there. The sun was setting, an explosion of purple, red, and deep violet invading the sky. And the house, the strange ancient house stood on wooden supports in the middle of the depthless lake. There was no other house in sight. Around the lake, was a…an army of tangled trees and Escher-like roots.

It was romantic, of course, Tsuna thought. Very romantic for his boyfriend to bring him out here…in the middle of nowhere…

Tsuna wanted to go back to the city, where it was full of people, full of books, of movies, of news, and new food, and new distractions. But…he looked guiltily back at his boyfriend who was cursing angrily and searching his pockets for the keys no doubt. Ever since…Nana's death…

He'd had a…breakdown. A mental breakdown, the doctor had said. All he needed, really, was a bit of peace and quiet…to think things through and in perspective. Xanxus had listened with a ferociously intent face at the doctor who'd started to stutter. Tsuna had quickly intervened, saying, yes that might be a good idea.

So Xanxus had canceled most of his business meetings and dealings for the next two weeks and kidnapped Tsuna for a vacation here. And Tsuna hadn't much protested.


Tsuna looked at the sun, finally hiding itself under the horizon and couldn't help but feel a shiver go up through his legs to his spine to his mouth. This place…

Xanxus grabbed his wrist as he'd finally found the damn keys and yanked both of them and their luggage inside.


"Hello, fish-face."

Tsuna batted at the scarred hand tugging at his hair. He curled more into the cave of blankets and warmth, trying to avoid Xanxus who drank too much coffee in the morning. The older man tugged harder at his hair, calling out in a sing-song voice, "fish-faaace."

Tsuna growled something unpleasant as the older man cruelly tore the blankets away. "Wstime?"

Xanxus dropped an apron on him and said, "Time for you to cook breakfast."

The not-morning brunette finally stood up with a pointed sigh, "Useless man. Can't or won't cook, 'm not sure."

His lover grinned back at him. "Won't."


Donned in an atrocious orange sweater and Capri's and a plain black apron, Tsuna flicked the dish soap bubbles away from his nose. There was a window, directly above the sink and small leafy potted plants crowded around the sink, some on the ledge, and some on the counter. Tsuna could see outside to the shore of the lake, where Xanxus had gone to haul some wood back in. He wanted to use the fireplace in the living room. Tsuna had protested, saying it wasn't that cold.

Xanxus had slid half-shut eyes at him.

Tsuna had gulped. It was easy to translate a look like that. It said, I want to have sex with you. I want to have it in the middle of the living room, on the floor. On the nice, white, fluffy carpeted floor. And there will be a fire in the fireplace. And there will be wine. And chocolates. Expensive chocolates, which we'll share…mouth-to-mouth.

And Tsuna had finally realized the purpose of all that chocolate in the luggage.

So, he'd backed off and let his pig-headed lover do what he wanted.

And he was left with washing the dishes.

Which, wasn't such a bad deal, Tsuna thought. Outside on the shore next to the small shed, Xanxus was hauling wood, muscles rippling underneath a form-fitting shirt. Honestly, Tsuna thought exasperatedly. It was, this time admittedly, easy to follow the line of Xanxus' thinking. Tsuna was sad. So, Xanxus was going to pamper Tsuna silly. With sex, of course. And chocolates.

Tsuna wasn't that…sad. He really wasn't. He hadn't cried…ever since his mental breakdown. He tried not to think about it at all.

A glass crashed to the floor. He jerked and bent down quickly to pick up the pieces.


Red drops bloomed on his thumb and index finger. Two dropped to the floor, beside the broken pieces of glass, before Tsuna stuck both fingers in his mouth. He took them out again and, carefully this time, picked up all the pieces. He threw them in the trash and went off for a band-aid in the bathroom.

On the polished wooden floor tiles, the smudge of blood slowly faded away.


Tsuna had just finished cleaning the living room when the grandfather clock started to chime its heavy bell. Five o'clock, Tsuna counted. Where was Xanxus? He should have been done by now.

He walked to the door and started shouting for the big hulk. He waited, tapping a foot against the floor. The sun was setting, drowning in a sea of grey clouds, and still no sign of his recalcitrant brat. He frowned and walked along the pier to the shed. Could he have fallen asleep? Lazy.


He wasn't there. Hewasn'tthere.

Tsuna pressed a shaking hand against his chest, his heart beating itself madly against his ribs. Calm down, he thought. Calm down. Take a few breathers…One. Two. Three. He could be…just taking a walk. Yes. Yeah.

He ran back to the house, pounding on the wooden planks that creaked in annoyance and the waves underneath, roaring faster. He ran through the hallways, up to their room, and there! His cell phone, it was there on the dresser.

His nervous fingers tapped out Xanxus' number. It rang.

It rang.

It rang.

It clicked and Tsuna heaved a sigh. "…You've reached Xanxus' voicemail. I'm busy. Leave a damn message."

Tsuna bit his lip.

But…Xanxus carried his cell phone with him everywhere. Unlike Tsuna who often left his on a convenient table or any other surface, Xanxus had a clip on his belt for his cell phone for any immediate contact with his company.

Where was he?

Tsuna had called the nearest police station, which was located in a small village at the edge of the forest which by car would be three hours at most. The police at the other end of the line had ordered him to breathe for fifteen seconds before he'd let the nervous man talk. He said you couldn't file a missing report until the person was missing for exactly twenty-four hours. Most likely, Xanxus got lost in the woods. If Tsuna would flash a light on the balcony, Xanxus would find his way back. Like a lighthouse.

Tsuna had asked, wasn't there a storm coming?

The police said, it wasn't that big of a storm.

Tsuna asked again, would it be…bad for Xanxus?

No, no it wouldn't be. As long as he didn't get struck by lightning. The police laughed at his own joke. No, probably, he's gonna come back, wet as a rat. Mind his cold though. Could become the flu.

Then the man's voice became more serious, if he hasn't come back by morning, we'll come down there and help look in the woods. For now, lock your doors and windows.

Why? Tsuna asked.

The policeman avoided the question, just lock it, 'kay? Lock it. And flash that light on the balcony. When you do find someone stumbling in the dark, make sure it ain't a stranger when you let him in.

On the topmost balcony, Tsuna sat behind the glass door and flashed the large flash-light off and on and off and on several times. He'd done as the policeman had asked and locked all the doors and windows. Even the second and third floor windows were locked. He'd been right too. The storm wasn't too bad. It rained heavily though, and rocked the waves underneath the groaning pier.

Streaks of lightning flashed in the distant clouds.

Tsuna was sitting, cross-legged, with the huge flash-light on his lap, flashing on and off. Rain drummed against the metal bars of the balcony and against the glass. This was a third-floor…tower. The house had three of them, one in the middle and the other two at opposite sides of it. And the rest of the house looked like three normal ones crashed together in some sort of traffic accident. And the windows! There were so many of them around the place. And they had these steel frames, curling and looping in leaves around the glass like in fairy tales…

Xanxus would come back. There was no reason to…

The wood here was polished to shine. Patterns of age and news and events seemed drawn on the wooden floor tiles. And even the roof, the black tiled roof, well…it looked wooden. It felt as if the house had been carved out of a giant dinosaurish tree…by an insane carpenter who'd also been drunk that night. And he'd probably have used a rusted chainsaw.

Xanxus could take care of himself. He was a grown man. For goodness sake, he had all those muscles! And the one between his ears, he used quite a lot too.

Maybe an ax too. Tsuna had readied a large cast iron pan near him, just in case. Knives sounded well and good but a nervous Tsuna tended to be clumsy too. Better to use something that couldn't hurt Tsuna while he was just holding them.

On and off. On and off. On and off.

Tsuna jerked awake as the loud grating sound of the doorbell resounded in the house. It was Xanxus!

He bounded down the stairs, a lecture on making his tiny boyfriend worry already forming in his head. Then he stopped before his hand could grip the doorknob and turn it. He remembered the policeman's serious tone. He jumped a bit, to see at the top of the door which was glass to the person outside. It was pitch-black outside. Should he open the door?

This time, someone banged their fists against the door. "Look, your friend is missing right?"

Tsuna's heart leaped to his mouth and he steadied himself against the door from collapsing.

"I know where he is! But you have to let me in. You have to let me in, now!"