Writers Notes:

I just recently discovered this manga and anime. I also just began writing again, so I decide to give this a try. This is my first Yami no Matsuei fic. I found myself making up little stories about it that may or may not fit in with its universe. Oddly enough I found myself wondering what the American branch would be like. I was surprised at some of the criticisms of American lifestyle, beliefs, judicial system and business practices that started to surface. I suppose this has been due to my ten years of working in corporate America, and being surrounded by many "mainstream" Americans. Most of these observations are not flattering, and I am embarrassed by it- but this is my story, so I decided to write it down anyway. Hopefully what I have created is tolerable enough, and entertaining.

I have also decided to use the writer's device of one language, to push the story forward. I have also introduced some characters of my own. I have read that some people don't like this in fanfic, but once I started with these characters, I couldn't get them out of my head. And I didn't want to edit myself by saying it was wrong to add my characters to the story.

The American Way of Death- a Yami No Matsuei fan fiction by JG.

Chapter 1- the invasion

Seiichiro Tatsumi disliked Americans. They were loud, pushy, spoiled, wasteful, obnoxious and oblivious and worse- coming here to EnmaCho. The world of the living was being thrown into financial chaos by them, and it seemed that it was above as it was below. The economy of the Meifu was feeling the pangs. Money that should have been coming in was simply not there. He knew that power higher than his office had the financial world of the afterlife entangled in other afterlife governments for a while. But now as the dollar was down it dragged down the yen, and everything was a financial mess. This cross pollination had gone so far, that his office received a memo that within the next couple of weeks some American office members were coming to their office, and taking up residence there. To save office space, and share resources and build understanding- these were the reasons given. But Tatsumi knew deep down why- their American counterparts had expanded too fast and depleted resources. Now they had Shikigami offices with nothing to support their overweight spending, jobs were cut and jobs were moved. And you didn't have too much leeway once you became Shikigami- you couldn't cry that your job had been relocated and simply find another. You had to go to where it was. Other governments, out of pity or with the hope to cash in and get some American secrets, and created jobs for these Shikigami- the office of Cho was no different. The gaijin were coming, and Tatsumi was dreading it.

The news hit the office like an atom bomb. The only one unfettered was Asato Tsuzuki and Yutaka Watari. Tatsumi seemed to be in a permanent bad mood these past few weeks, looking over everyone's spending with added gusto- after all how his office could support more mouths to feed? Where were the resources? But he was nothing but ordered to find them and find space. Desks were moved around, and people had to give up space. Terazuma fumed he would not, would not sit next to some gaijin. And he fumed and raged and commented on how whiny he had found every American Tourist when he was alive. They were nothing more than a nuisance. Hisoka added they did not know the common sense to remove their shoes. He was equally upset because of the new arrivals would be sitting by him. He was furious though he was silent about it. It was hard enough for him as an empath to be working in a crowded office- but this invasion by the foreigners was all but unforgivable. Tatsumi had never heard the teenager snap so much at Tsuzuki. Every other word was "baka". Tsuzuki had dreams of American food in him. America to him was an open buffet and he was sure they were bringing it with them. No amount of fussing from Hisoka could dampen these dreams of food. America was not the place of land and honey- but of pizza, and soda, chocolate and candy beyond count.

Tatsumi sighed and shook his head. He liked straight lines, and dealing with Americans was anything but straight forward. He was getting a head ache. He had to find some place to put them, as most Japanese would not rent to gaijin. And as the entire business was economically driven- the price to put them in a commercial gaijin guest house was out of the question. They would have to make room on campus somewhere- he thought there was the basement, a spare room in the office and a spare janitors room in the library. They could be used, and would have to be.

The knowledge that the twice rebuilt library would be the dwelling of one of these foreigners did not sit well with the gushoshin brothers. They would have gone on strike a second time to protest, but this changing involved power larger them, and their hands were tied. They did however come up with a book of rules and regulations that were to be followed by whomever it was that was going to be taking up residence there. The room was located in the back behind the last reference section and they hoped that whoever it was would never come home.

"If I remember brother," said one bird to the other" Americans love to drink. Maybe ours will be out in all the time in Roppongi, like so many others." Hisoka added his other complaints as well as when he found out that his sanctuary was going to be invaded as well. This seemed to put him in an even fouler mood than the dread of sitting next to one.

Over all, the mood was dour. The only one who didn't seem to have a comment to say one way or the other was Watari. He checked his email a lot more often than normal, and Tatsumi noticed he seemed to be writing to someone. But when Tatsumi tried to steer the conversation that way, or Tsuzuki came by his desk at the lab- Watari either changed the subject or hit control, alt, delete to lock his station. It wasn't like the scientist to be so secretive, and many wondered what he was up too. But he was good at smiling and dodging the subject.

Their luggage came first. Tatsumi explained that Americans had a lot of things in life, and in the death offices this trend continued. There were two slated to be coming, and over thirty boxes came. Most of them were hard wooden boxes nailed shut. The office was full of boxes so much they could hardly walk. Hisoka muttered under his breath as the dodged the boxes all around trying to maneuver from the coffee maker to his desk.

"Maybe we should start opening them," Watari suggested. "That way we could at least send some to their living places. Clear some of this stuff off."

"..Yeah" Hisoka nodded.

All eyes went to Tatsumi who thought for a moment, giving no hint what he was thinking nothing in his blue eyes. Then he nodded. Upon examination, 29 of the thirty boxes belonged to some one named Bert Myers. Most of these were wooden boxes nailed shut. The only odd box out was a cardboard box taped shut with the name on it.

"This is a lot lighter." Tsuzuki said tossed the box up in his hands. As it landed though in his arms, the box itself gave forth a loud animalistic yowl that made the Shikigami almost drop the box. Tsuzuki put the box on the empty desk next to Hisoka's desk and tore open the lid. Inside were a few books, a Native American headdress made out of the skull and fur covered bear head. There was also a cat carrier with three points of light glaring out of it. Tsusuki took a look at the headdress and shrugged to himself and put it on the desk.

"Baka!" Hisoka barked. "Don't put that thing there next to where I sit! It's disgusting!"

"Where do you want me to put it then?" Tsusuki asked

"I don't care- but not-" A yowl cut the argument off, and the cat carrier buckled. Tsusuki lifted it out of the box to see a cat growling at him through the bars. This cat though had three eyes- two normal eyes and one vertical eye in the center of the forehead turned. That eye did not have an eye in it, but glowed with an eerie yellow light of its own. Most of the room shrank back in repulsion, but Tsusuki blinked and then smiled cheerfully at it.

"You want out neko-chan?" He asked, and before anyone could do anything he put the carrier next to the bear headdress and opened the door.

"Tsuzuki! Don't let it –"Hisoka began and then cut himself off. It was too late the cat sauntered out. No longer hissing it looked up into Tsuzuki's face, studying him. Tsuzuki scratched under its chin and smiled.

"I've never seen a cat like you before. What are you neko-chan?" The cat meowed, almost as if responding to the question. It then surveyed the room, as if looking out over its new found kingdom. It didn't seem to take much interest in anyone. It hesitated for a second on Watari and cocked his head. The scientist smiled and pushed his glasses back as if he shared some hidden joke with the animal. The cat then looked around again, scanning and scanning until its eyes fell upon Hisoka.

As it looked at the blonde teenager, its normal eyes dilated greatly. Its center eye seemed to expand slightly and a brighter density of the light was emitted. Hisoka felt warmth spread over his forehead and he felt his temperature rise, bringing a faint blush to his cheek. The cat jumped gracefully from one desk to the other and began rubbing its chin on the boy's arms and shoulders.

"What the-"Hisoka yelled.

"Hey, you got a new friend there, Bon!" Watari laughed.

"Get away from me, neko!" Hisoka growled. But the cat ignored him as was relentless. It moved from his arms to his chest, rubbing its heard and purring loudly.

"What do we feed this cat?" Tsusuki said as he looked in the box. "There's no food here for it or me."

"You won't have to feed it." Watari said matter-of-factly. "It's like us- already dead."

"Already dead?" Tsuzuki asked. "How do you know?"

"Seen it before." Watari winked. "Watari-san," Tatsumi asked. "Do you know who is coming?"

"As a matter of fact I—" But the scientist was cut off from his statement but the sound of sound of Wakaba and Terazuma gasping as the pried open of the nailed down lids. But Wakaba's gasp was that of fright, but from Terazuma the emotion was quite different...

"Sougoi!" Terazuma cried as the reached into the box and brought out a very large and very powerful hand gun.

"Look at this! It's the latest model! I just read about this, but to see it- ah, look at the craftsmanship!" He said has he turned it, examining it in his hands.

"Weapons of this caliber are illegal in Japan. And I'm very sure the EnmaCho wouldn't take kindly to such weapons being shipped here without their knowledge." Tatsumi said his eyebrows in a frown.

"Which is why I filled out all the paper work, months ahead of time." A brutish voice rang out in the office. "Pain in the ass that it was."

In the door frame stood a large shadow. His broad frame would have taken up the entire opening, had he not been slouching. He smelled of gunpowder and cheap cigarettes. Hisoka was washed over with a feeling of someone who was weary, but still pressed on- mostly because there was no where else to go. And there was something else. Hisoka felt that this person was keenly aware of his surroundings in the way an animal was.

He was unkempt looking with his five o'clock shadow. His hair was dark and greasy looking, as if he had not bathed for some time, no cared if he did or not. His clothing was army green fatigues, complete with combat boots and a green sleeveless shirt. His skin on his arms was tattooed with a superman tattoo, and had scars from what could only be assumed to be combat.

"Ah! Myers-San!" Watari said cheerfully. "How was your trip?"

"Long and tiring." He said to the scientists welcome. Then the turned sharply to Terazuma." But get your hands off my stuff." He growled at Terazuma." I didn't send it ahead so you could paw at it." And in one movement he moved so quickly he disarmed the Shikigami. For a moment the ex police officer blinked, and then yelled back.

"Hey!" Terazuma barked. And then his anger disappeared, to no one in the office had seen from him in a along time- surprise and admiration.

"That was the standard disarmament technique, taught to us by the corp. Where'd you learn that?"

"My first day in the field." was the reply.

Terazuma eyed the stranger and the stranger looked back at him straight in the eye. It was like two dogs trying to stare each other down. Terazuma then laughed to himself, and shook his head. He put forth his hand in the universal gesture of friendship. Bert looked at it suspiciously for a second, his eyes questioning. But it was only for a moment, and then he took the officers hand in a firm grip, patting his shoulder as if they were old friends.

"It's always good to meet another soldier. " Bert said matter of factly. "Recognized you right away as one- armed forces?"

"Police." Terazuma boasted, his chest swelling like a some bird in a long forgotten cock crow.

"Really- where?"

"Hiroshima."

"Before or after?" the American asked.

"After. You?"

"Vietnam – marines for several years. Never got out of my blood though, being a soldier."

"I can tell." Terazuma said. "About damn time we actually get some people who can hold their own in this office. "He said glaring at Tsuzuki. "Tsuzuki-Chan over there is pretty worthless."

"Hey!" Tsuzuki yelled.

Bert looked at Tsuzuki for a moment and his eyes narrowed. Hisoka as we watched felt a word unfold in his mind.

*So that's the hybrid. * said the voice. It was Bert's thoughts. *Hmm- the eyes are a dead give away.*

Bert seemed to ignore Tsuzuki's outburst and said to Terazuma plainly. "There a shortage of soldiers in this office?"

"I've been lone gun for a long time." Terazuma explained. "Good to know I'll have some back up now. You know I was actually not looking forward to working with you."

"Why did you think I'd be one of those bloated yuppies?" Bert said sarcastically. "Huh, hardly."

"Are these types of arms standard issue?" Terazuma asked, motioning to the gun. "Man, if we were allowed to have type of firepower."

"No it's not standard. It's my personal collection as it were." Bert said. "Never did stand much by standard issue weapons."

"They are illegal here." Hisoka said flatly.

Bert's eyes went to the teenager and Hisoka felt himself as if for a moment he was being sized up. His mind was again flooded with Bert's thoughts and feelings.

*Empath. Boy they weren't kidding. Still has baby fat on his face.* Bert's thoughts labeled him. Hisoka blushed as he felt he had been found out some how. Bert half suppressed a smile, and the thoughts of some one else came into Hisoka's brain. He saw the image of a tall, skinny Caucasian girl. She had brown hair and blue eyes. The only name he got from the image was that of Summers.

Bert pulled away and Hisoka felt his connection with him suddenly become severed, as if by some foreign entity. Bert looked away from him and back to Terazuma.

"Like I said, the paperwork was a bitch." He shrugged, "But there is always a work around."

Hisoka looked at the torn open box sitting at the desk next to him.

it said.

"Kampai!" Watari cheered as the drink glasses chattered in their meeting for the toast. The scientist had insisted they go out to celebrate their new comrade's arrival. Much to Tsuzuki's ire, Terazuma insisted on coming as well. He and the new office mate had much to discuss and much in common. Soon they were talking over guns, ammo and battle stories like they were old friends. Hisoka noticed that Bert-san was a heavy drinker, but was seemingly unaffected by the amount of alcohol he consumed. But Terazuma just seemed to get drunker and drunker. And of course, not to be out done, Tsuzuki challenged him to a drinking contest. The American seemed to watch the rivalry between the two Shikigami with some amusement.

"So I've been meaning to ask how is Summers-Chan." Watari asked. "She's been emailing me, says she nervous about coming here."

Upon hearing the name Summers, Hisoka turned his attention to listening rather than watching his humiliating partner drink himself blind.

"Yeah." Bert-san shrugged. "She nervous about coming here. Cant say I blame her- her experience with people either live or dead hasn't been great."

"Hmm." Watari said, and his expression seemed to darken momentary. Then it lit up again in the typical Watari way. "But still I told her she wouldn't have to worry about anything here."

"Hmm." Bert nodded. "Still- memories die hard. And some not at all. If I went through what she'd did, I'd be a recluse too."

"Who is Summers?" Hisoka asked. "Your partner?"

"Hmm." Bert laughed a little bit to himself. "You picked that up with your empathy, did you?" He looked at the empath with his brown eyes. His eyes were piercing, and as Hisoka looked into them, he saw a sharp intelligence there that let him look unafraid into him. But Hisoka sensed that there were limits as to how far he could see into this new arrival. Doors to his innermost mind were shut with out apology, and by someone far skilled than himself.

*Look all you want, son.* Bert thought to him, *But you'll only see what I want to see. What I don't mind you knowing.*

Hisoka's face revealed his surprise at this psychic communication to him. Bert smirked.

*Surprise you? I'm not one of you kind, but I was trained by someone much more powerful than you. *

"Ah, sorry." Bert said aloud. "I got busy psi-talking, and left you all in the lurch." Bert said apologizing to the other members of the table who were surprised by this sudden quiet staring contest between Hisoka and himself.

"Oh you learned finally!" Watari cheered excitedly. "I remember you were really struggling with that when I left."

"Yeah, well even an old dog like me can learn some tricks." Bert shrugged. "It's hard though, since I'm not wired like the kid here."

"I'm not a kid!" Hisoka barked.

Bert smiled slightly, and began to tell Watari about the rigors of psychic training, how difficult he found it and how it felt. He was seemingly ignoring Hisoka's outburst and trying to keep it civil. Watari, as he was always eager for knowledge, was rapt. But over the droning talking, Hisoka heard the American speaking to his mind loud and clear.

*Oh yes you are. You still got baby fat on your face.* Bert thought matter of factly. *Jesus, I thought we recruited young.*

Hisoka felt anger flood into his mind at being so easy dismissed.

*Asshole* he thought back at Bert.

Bert snickered slightly. And Hisoka knew it had nothing to do with what he was saying to the others, that it was meant for him. *Glad we cleared that up. Yes, I am an asshole. I prefer to use my powers for good, though. Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta cut this off. I'm not like you; I can't split my mind off in so many directions like you can. Not for long anyway.*

And like a door shutting, the thoughts ended and Hisoka found himself alone with his own thoughts. And Bert seemed to fall right back into the conversation he was having during this time.

"How do you know all this, Watari?"Tatsumi asked.

"Remember a few years ago, I went to America to study the workings of the female mind?" He said. "Well while I was over there I did a lot of research on Summers-chan. "

"Wait, wait!" Terazuma said, totally drunk. "Who is Summers- Chan- your partner?"

"I guess you could say that." Bert shrugged. "We American Shikigami don't really have the formal pairing like you all do here. But yeah, we did end up being partners eventually."

"You don't work in pairs?" Tatsumi asked, surprised. "How do you all keep each other to abide by the rules?"

Bert let out a sarcastic laugh. "We don't. It's usually an every man for himself free for all."

"Well that's certainly insufficient." Tatsumi said with disapproval. "And dangerous."

"Trust me I know." Bert nodded. "The reason Summers and I were the ones chosen to come over here was because we already were a pair, as it were. It would seem to be an easier transition into your office rather than most others."

"Eh," Terazuma asked. "Who is summers again?"

"My partner." Bert said flatly. "She's an empath."

Tsuzuki's face lit up at this! "Amazing! My partner is an empath too! Oh! How exciting!"

Hisoka's face went red with embarrassment as his partner started bragging like a proud mother about his natural powers.

"Eh, two empaths- together?" Terazuma asked. "Wont' they, you know like clash? Get feed back something like that."

"Oh but bon's frequency is different than Summer-Chan's." Watari explained. "So it shouldn't be a problem."

Bert smirked again, and his brown judgmental eyes went quickly to Hisoka's face.

*Bon?* the tone of the thought was definitely one of amusement. * Apparently I'm not the only one-*

*Shut up!* Hisoka thought back. *Its nothing- only a nickname!*

Bert's mind laughed, and he turned his eyes away from Hisoka. The communication with him was broken off once again.

"Empaths all have their own frequencies." Watari explained. "Like radio waves, but if they are different enough it shouldn't matter. The frequencies won't overlap. "

"Oh! " Wakaba interjected. "Like listening to two radios at once on different stations in the same room?"

"Right Wakaba-Chan!" Watari said excitedly. "But if the frequencies are too similar, its like when you stand next to close to the speaker when you sing karoke."

"So," Terazuma asked, all alcohol now relinquishing his inhibitions. "Is your empath as damn moody as this one?"

Hisoka sat up straight at the insult.

Bert laughed aloud. It was a loud American laugh that caused many others in the restaurant to turn their attention momentarily to him.

"I guess you could say that- But don't be so hard on them, they can't help it- it's the way they are wired."

"I guess…"Terazuma mused. "This one's here so moody, you think he was having a damn period sometimes!"

"Hey! Watch what you say about my partner you shape shifting freak!" Tsuzuki yelled, jumping to his feet.

"Well, he is!" Terazuma yelled back also jumping up.

"Uhm, Terazuma-san, Tsuzuki –san!" Watari said, standing up to try to separate the two rivals as they leaned into each other.

"Uhm, I'm going to leave now" Hisoka said, his face purple with humiliation. "I'm tired. I'll see you all tomorrow morning."

As he left, Tsuzuki followed after him, calling- "Wait, Hisoka- wait- we haven't got desert yet." The door's bells clinked shut after them, and a dead silence fell over the restaurant after the out burst.

The Chief was about to open his mouth to apologize for Terazuma behavior, but he never got a chance. Before he even got a word out, Bert leapt up quickly with eyes blazing and sent an upper cut across the chin. Terazuma spun literally in place, wobbled in place for a second then crashed to the floor.

"Terazuma-san!" Wakaba cried out. She bent over him at the floor and fussed at him. "See this is why you shouldn't drink so much! Your mouth always runs away with you!"

"Sorry about that." Bert said as he sat down. "I don't like to hear that shit. My partner got made fun of most of her life and un-life for her ability. "

"How did you know Kurosaki-kun was an empath?" Wakaba asked, and she coaxed her partner to stand up. She was careful not to touch him as he staggered to his chair.

"Empaths don't smell like us, miss." Bert said. "Their smell is ... different I guess is the only way to describe it. Purer, like the earth after a rainstorm. Most of us – our smell is muddied."

"Smell?" Wakaba asked. Terazuma held his head in his hand and groaned.

"I'm a hunter. A demon hunter to be specific. I don't have any magic, per se but I can smell things that others can't. The second I smelt him, I knew that kid was an empath. And that's not the only thing I was able to tell." Bert gave the Chief Konoe a knowing look.

The Chief's eyes widened in surprise.

"You know then?" he stammered in shock.

Bert nodded.

"That was one of the reasons I was sent."

Tatsumi sat up, tense. "By whom. For what purpose."

"By your own government." Bert said matter of factly. "Mine simply went along with it.

"By who though?" the chief demanded, his voice rising.

"By top men." Bert said, giving him a knowing look.

"But why?" Wakaba asked.

Bert sighed, collecting his thoughts before he answered. "To watch and observe."

"And report no doubt." Tatsumi said accusingly.

"We can't have another incident like what happened with the Tern snake or Sagatanasu. Your bosses want me to guarantee that that doesn't happen again."

"And what else have you been authorized to do to guarantee that Tsuzuki doesn't try anything else of that matter," Tatsumi demanded.

Silence what the reply.

"Why are you telling us this?" Wakaba asked, perplexed.

"Because if the time comes, you won't be able to stop me. So it makes no difference weather you know or not." Bert said matter of factly.

Tatsumi's eyes narrowed. "I will allow no harm to come to Tsuzuki." He said hotly.

"I don't think there's any reason to get hostile. It's not like it's personal. You have a problem with it take it up with your own superiors. Plus from what I've seen- there won't be a need. For a demon hybrid he's the most unlike demon I've ever met. Weird."

"And is Summers-Chan involved in this?" Watari demanded.

"No." Bert said. "I didn't want her getting dirty with this."

"Then why is she coming here?" the scientist pressed.

"Because America is no place for an empath. And she wants to leave- to many bad memories back home as it were. She's tired. Didn't think you would mind seeing her again, Watari."

"I don't – not at all- but to know that you come with this- with nothing less that Tsuzuki's death warrant if need be—"

"How can we trust you," The chief demanded, interrupting. "How can we trust either of you not to spy on our thoughts, or report our actions?"

"You can't." Bert said. "Not me anyway. But like I said, it most likely won't come to that. That's what I'm going to tell them, at least right now. Plus, Summers is a nature empath mostly, she won't find it as easy to get in your heads. She's not telekinetic.

"That's a different animal all together. And much more dangerous."

_________________________________________________________________

Hisoka was too angry to sleep. He walked Tsuzuki home to his apartment, as the elder was way to drunk to make it home on his own. Since the affairs of Kyoto, several months had passed and their relationship had deepened. It was now not unusual for him to spend the night with Tsuzuki, both in his apartment and in his bed. It has been a slow by steady blossoming of friendship to something much more powerful and unconditional. And as it ripened in it emotional state, it bore physical fruit. And that fruit was sweet indeed.

Tsuzuki was a gentle and patient lover. Hisoka was grateful that he was, because the coupling of violence and pain with sexuality was deeper in his mind than he had anticipated. Hisoka had not expected the scars of Muraki's violation to be not only upon his body, but his mind. On that first attempt, Hisoka found himself panicking against his will. Tsuzuki had sat next two him on the couch, flipping though channels as Hisoka tried to tune out the noise and read. Eventually Hisoka found himself thinking less of what he was reading and more about the person next to him. And to his surprise they were not platonic thoughts, but thoughts about Tsuzuki's body and smile. The thoughts frightened and thrilled him at the same time, and he didn't know if they were his thoughts or Tsuzuki's. It became so jumbled in his mind. He felt Tsuzuki's weight of his shoulder, and looked up shyly at him. He was surprised to find Tsuzuki was already looking at him.

He smiled at him. But it wasn't in the way he smiled for treats, or sweet things. There was a different glimmer in those amethyst eyes. Hisoka felt a hand descend to his opposite shoulder. He had not even noticed the elder shikigami's arm extend around him as he was reading. Or perhaps he did notice, and that was why he started picking up the change of mood and thickening in atmosphere.

"Ah, your blushing, Hisoka." Tsuzuki whispered.

"uhm, no I'm not." Hisoka stammered, feeling the blush rise to his ears.

"Yes you are." Tsuzuki said softly, bringing his face closer. Hisoka could feel the elder's breath upon his cheeks, and it was quick and shallower than normal. Hisoka could feel something like need rise in his mind, need and want for the physical flesh. But again he felt that these were not mostly his own, but Tsuzuki's. Still as these feelings grew, he felt himself wanting to respond to them. Yet he felt bewildered and lost.

"'Soka," Tsuzuki murmured and his free hand cupped the empath's chin. Hisoka felt a warm set of lips upon his own as he felt Tsuzuki's other arm pull him in close. He kissed him long, lingering on that spot, as if he was drinking him in. Eventually there was another kiss, not as long but just as gentle, and another quick one after that. It was like a gentle rain upon his empathic senses. Soon the kisses were moving from the lips to the cheek, to the neck. The hand that was upon his check descended to his knee and gave it a gentle squeeze. Hisoka felt Tsuzuki shifting his legs on the couch, adjusting his weight. Hisoka felt his chest being softly pushed against and yet supported, and his legs being pulled towards Tsusuki as he found himself being lowered on the couch. Tsuzuki shifted his weight sideways, and kissed Hisoka again on the lips with more eagerness, but with such gentleness.

"'Soka," Tsuzuki whispered. His hands had a slight tremble in them as the started unbuttoning the empath's shirt. "You wear too many buttons."

Hisoka looked at him, but could not bring himself to respond. He felt his throat tighten with the pant rising up in him. He felt his own breath become shallower. But he was at a loss of how to express these things, these feelings rising up with in him. He could only look emotionally at Tsusuki and felt the gentle spirit of his partner as he smiled back him. Tsuzuki touched the blonde hair softly playing at it and Hisoka noticed his slight tremble. Hisoka could feel his partners anticipation, and desire, and oddly enough a slight nervousness. Before the empath could sort these out, he felt himself being kissed but now more passionately as he felt Tsuzuki adjust himself again and lay on top of him.

Tsuzuki's kisses moved again from the neck to the now bare chest. And weather it was this touch, the pressure of his partner upon him that triggered his next reaction, Hisoka never did know. But suddenly he felt a cold come over him completely like he had been dunked in ice water, and his spine stiffened. In fact his entire body went rigid at the memory, the memory that now reached in to this intimate moment and clutched out his heart. Panic filled him mercilessly. Hisoka swallowed hard, and to his shame he felt streams of tears flowing from his eyes.

"No. Please stop." He pleaded. It was barely auditable, but it took all the empaths strength to push past the lump in his throat.

This sudden change made Tsusuki look up from kissing on the empath's chest. He looked up into those silent crying eyes, which pleaded with him like he had never seen before. It reminded him of a rabbit he had once come across that was caught in a snare. Tsusuki had helped rabbit get free, but for a moment he held the rabbit down as he loosened the snare around the leg, and the rabbit's hyperventilating was so great that he wondered if its heart might burst. That same beginning of terror Tsuzuki saw now in the sharp rapid breath of Hisoka. Hisoka who was now as white as a sheet.

"Hey, Its okay, Hisoka." Tsuzuki said. "I'll stop. It's okay."

For a moment the empath didn't seem to breathe, as the knowledge that what he dreaded would not happen. But it was only for a moment, as his eyes fell upon Tsuzuki's his face came full with shame.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Tsuzuki." He sobbed. "I'm...I'm so sorry. I just, I can't. I can't. It like he's in my...my mind." The empath began sobbing hysterically. Tsuzuki sat upright, and pulled Hisoka close to him, holding him close in his arms. He shushed Hisoka gently, and rocked him back and forth in his arms as the empath sobbed at his chest. And as Hisoka wept, he felt how strong those arms were around him and he felt- knew that they would do anything to protect him.

"Shhh. It's okay." Tsuzuki said. "It's okay."

"I'm sorry... sorry. I know you wanted…, I did too, it just that…Oh god, will I never be free of these thoughts, these feelings? When? When?" Hisoka sobbed.

"Shh, don't rush it. Don't worry." Tsusuki said gently. "It's not like we don't have anything but time."

"…umm." Hisoka murmured as he nodded.

As the television went from show to show and commercial to commercial, Tsusuki held the empath, until his sobbing softened to crying, and then he fell asleep exhausted. Tsuzuki watched the images play across the screen as he gently stroked Hisoka's blonde hair. Whatever the show was about he didn't know, because Tsuzuki's mind was too full of concern- and rage.

"Muraki, for what you have done, I will never forgive you." He said to himself.

But these private moments Hisoka did not know, he only knew of his shame and humiliation upon that first attempt. In the time that followed, Tsuzuki never brought this moment up, nor questioned Hisoka about it. And it occurred to Hisoka that though he constantly talked to Tsuzuki about acting like a kid, that in this area it was Tsuzuki was indeed the elder. And he had the patience and gentleness of a good teacher.

There were to be three more attempted rendezvous in the time that followed. Each one of these failed. Granted each time the stopping point was further along, and not as devastating to Hisoka. In these Tsuzuki never lost patience. Never questioned, or demanded. This gentleness at last yielded fruit and it was sweet indeed.

On that night in question, Hisoka laid in Tsuzuki's arms quiet for a long time afterward. Tsuzuki smoothed his hair and said nothing. There was no need for words for some time; the air was so full of things never spoken that had been put into action. Hisoka felt something besides the euphoria, he felt peace flood into him. And that for once, with this person, he felt might be safe. Safe from harm and safe to be himself.

"Is it always like this?" Hisoka asked quietly.

"Yeah," Tsuzuki whispered as he planted a kiss on the other's shoulder. "Sometimes better."

There passed another long pause, and Tsuzuki sighed. "You know I have a confession to make, 'Soka."

"Hmm?" Hisoka murmured. "What is it?"

"For a long time, I have thought being here with you like this."

"For a long time?" Hisoka asked, surprised.

"Yes." Tsuzuki said between kisses. "I don't think I have ever wanted someone so much. It frightened me, almost. Made me nervous. That's why my hands always shook."

"Baka." Hisoka laughed gently.

But the contentment of that time was far from what Hisoka was feeling now. Now as Tsuzuki slept soundly next to him, Hisoka's thoughts filled with the anger at his meeting with their American comrade. To be talked down to, and dismissed as a lightly as he was infuriated him. He knew that he would always be thought of by some, as a kid, and there was not any he could do about it. He tried to push it out of his mind, and hoped not for nightmares.

The night was not so kind to him that time. In his dreams he saw a Caucasian woman with large brown eyes and full dark hair. And as he stood behind her, she looked back at him. And her eyes, seemed to fill up his mind- invading it in some fashion that was horrifically familiar to how had felt that one night under the sakura trees. He woke up with a start, panting. He still felt her eyes upon him and it was a heavy weight within his mind and heart.

"Mmmm." Tsuzuki said as he reached for him. Even though he was still groggy from drink, Hisoka still found his touch comforting.

"It's okay," he murmured as he patted him gently. "I'm here. I'm here, 'Soka."