As he suffered in wait for anyone to show up, Hisoka was eerily reminded of the early years of his life. All those years, just abandoned in a cold cellar, left to rot. Granted, it was much less painful then, as he didn't have barbed wire on his body, binding him down. He closed his eyes weakly and prayed, something he hadn't done throughout his life or death. He prayed to God for forgiveness of his sins, the safety of Tsuzuki and everyone in the bureau, and finally for his second death. He apologized to whoever was listening, knowing he was being selfish, but he was so tired. He wanted release.

Every breath Hisoka took was agonizing, the barbed wire digging into his chest with each rise and fall of his chest. Even flexing his fingers hurt, but he knew the next chance he received, he would take and try to escape. His odds were basically death, or death, and he'd rather die off of his own accord.

That's why, when the door opened, Hisoka didn't bother looking up to see who it was, he just snapped his eyes shut and feigned sleep. The sound of footsteps grew closer until they eventually stopped and Hisoka felt calloused hands working on his bindings. His empathy told him it wasn't Muraki, but he couldn't quite put his finger on who exactly it was. Hisoka had to hold back a sigh of relief when he was finally released from all of the wire and laid gently on the floor. Any moment now...

"I'm sorry I have to do this." The soft, regretful voice spoke.

Hisoka's eyes snapped open. The man was Natsu, someone he'd seen around with Muraki a few times. "I'm sorry too." The blond hissed and forcefully shoved his fist forward, catching Natsu off guard, and hitting him under the chin. Hisoka quickly rose to his feet and made a run for the door, but his arm was caught by the new Shinigami. "LET GO OF ME!"

"Just stop for a second!" Natsu yelled. "I don't want to do this to you as much you don't want it done... Please, just..." His grip loosened on Hisoka's wrist. He sighed. "... This isn't what I signed up for... Look, if I give you this," He pulled a key out from his jacket. "I need you to promise me that you won't say anything to anyone, alright? If you go to this hotel, you'll find Tsuzuki..."

Hisoka rubbed his aching throat as he looked at the key. "Why are you helping me?"

"There's no time to explain. Muraki's at his office for about an hour. That should give you enough time to get to Tsuzuki and hopefully have your power restored enough to teleport back to JuOhCho." Natsu shoved the key into Hisoka's bloody hands. "Go!"

Hisoka nodded skeptically, but turned anyway and once again head for the door. Natsu sighed in relief and tenderly touched his throbbing jaw. That kid sure packed a powerful punch.

....

As he clumsily ran through the empty streets, Hisoka thanked his luck for it being such a foggy and wet evening; no one dared put themselves through traveling in this weather. At the speed he was going, the rain felt like dozens of tiny needles hitting his skin at once, but the pain was nowhere near the amount he'd experience if he slowed and allowed Muraki, wherever he was, to catch up to him. He had a vague idea as to where he was going; Hisoka was pretty sure it was the same hotel he and Tsuzuki stayed in on his first case.

He wondered what the emotions Tsuzuki and he would experience when he showed up at the doorstep of the hotel. Would Tsuzuki cry? Embrace him? Would Tsuzuki... kiss him? Hisoka blushed a bit at that thought. Certainly that wouldn't happen. Tsuzuki had probably moved on since then. He then wondered about his position at the bureau. Would he go right back to work after a recuperation period? Or would he be out of work and have no place in JuOhCho?

Hisoka knew he'd have to be mindful of Muraki if and when he returned to field work. The thought of his own idea of going after Muraki made him sick to his stomach. It was one of the stupidest things he'd ever done. Hisoka just hoped he'd make it to Tsuzuki and get them both back to JuOhCho before Muraki could and would catch on.

The sprint to the hotel was long and exhausting, so when Hisoka had come upon the shabby hotel Tatsumi had no doubt set Tsuzuki and Natsu up in, he had to stop and take multiple deep and shuddering breaths. Still out of breath, he held up the key to look at the number before venturing quickly around the back to find the door to the room.

16, 17, 18...

19. The door to the room was an ugly olive green with peeling paint, but Hisoka happily dubbed this his new favorite door. The curtains covering the window were closed, and no light was coming through. That scared Hisoka a bit, if Tsuzuki wasn't there, what would he do? Go back to JuOhCho himself and just hope that Tsuzuki made it back before Muraki tracked him down? Would he even have enough power to get himself back? There was only one way to find out; and with shaking fingers, Hisoka shoved the key into the lock and turned it. A 'click' sounded, signalling the door had unlocked. The blond made a mental note to come back when this was all over and make the door beautiful.

With a deep breath, he grasped the doorknob and turned, pushing the door open. A stray tear of relief rolled down his cheek at the sight revealed to him.

--

Tsuzuki wasn't fully asleep, just slightly dozing with his back facing the door. He was actually afraid of falling into a deep sleep. He didn't want to have another of those menacing dreams again, he didn't want to be tricked again.

When he heard the key being shoved into the lock, he didn't move, knowing it was most likely returning with food after going to a bar for a drink. The door opened, lights from the street flooding into the room, the sound of the pouring rain echoing loudly through his ears. He grabbed the extra pillow next to his head and used it to cover his ears and eyes. "Natsu... Close the door..."

"Tsuzu... ki..."

His eyes snapped open, and the pillow slipped from his grasp, falling to the floor. He refused to turn around, refused to acknowledge that couldn't be... It was just... Just a... "It's just a dream..." He let out from trembling lips.

The bed next to him dipped, and he felt his shoulder being pulled on by a cold and wet hand. Hisoka was above him, an agonized expression on his face. His hair was a mess, and his drenched skin and clothes were stained with crimson and black. "Tsuzuki... please... We," Hisoka looked behind him, at the still open door, making sure no one was around. "We have to go... I need your help, I don't think I can make it back by myself... please... Muraki.. I don't know when he's going to show up..."

Tsuzuki raised his hand to touch his previous partners frigid face. Hisoka seemed to relax a tiny bit, and allowed his eyes to slip close. "Hisoka..." It felt so right, too good to be true...

Realization set in, and Tsuzuki jerked his hand, raking his nails down Hisoka's face, leaving several bleeding cuts. As Tsuzuki dragged himself to the head of the bed, a shocked Hisoka gingerly raised his fingers to his bleeding cheek. "I'm dreaming again! I'm sick of it! I'm not going to be tricked anymore!" Tsuzuki cried, biting his knuckles. "I just... I need to wake up, and then I'll-"

A loud 'slap' rang through the room.

Hisoka slowly lowered his hand, looking desperately to the brunette. "Tsuzuki! Pull yourself together! It's NOT a dream! We need to get back to JuOhCho!"

It was Tsuzuki's turn to caress his stinging cheek; and he slowly came to his senses. "I'm awake... O-Oh god... Okay, I'll get us back..."

Not exactly needing to do so to teleport, Tsuzuki pulled Hisoka tightly to his chest and they wrapped their arms around eac hother, and dissipated from the room.

--

"I'm severely disappointed in you, Natsu."

"... They don't deserve this. I can't do it to them... Tsuzuki-san is my partner." Natsu lowered himself to his hands and knees in a bow at the doctor's feet.

"Hm; and here I thought that Miss Carolyn didn't deserve getting involved. Maybe I was wrong."

Natsu snapped his head up. He wouldn't. Carolyn was his reason... His everything. He quickly got off of the ground and grabbed roughly onto Muraki's lapel. "No! Don't hurt her! I'll... What... do you want me to do?" He asked, defeated.

Muraki pried Natsu's hands from his coat and took his glasses off, wiping them clean. "Discard the bouya. I'm sick of waiting games... Actually, " Muraki grew a sinister grin. "I have a brilliant idea... Listen closely."

--

Sorry! Sorry. It took too long for such a chapter. _ I struggle a bit when writing stuff that isn't... fluffy uber dooper romance. I'm trying, I promise. REVIEW PLEEEASE. Gives me major fuzzies.