Cracking open his eyes, Tsuzuki Asato stretched idly, in no hurry to climb out of bed. He and his partner had just finished a big case, and they had the weekend off, so Tsuzuki was rejoicing in his right to be lazy. Still sleepy, Tsuzuki was debating whether or not to go back to sleep when a knock sounded at his door. Ignoring it, the shinigami pulled his covers over his head and snuggled back down into the warm cocoon.

Unfortunately, the person knocking was rather persistent, and after about five minutes, Tsuzuki heard him holler, "Tsuzuki, if you don't open this door right now, I'm going to break it down!" Groaning, Tsuzuki slipped out of bed, wincing as his bare feet touched the cold floor. He was going to have to look into buying a thick carpet for his bedroom in the near future.

Staggering to the front door, Tsuzuki opened it to allow his partner, Hisoka, inside, before stumbling away towards the small kitchenette. Putting on some tea to boil, the violet-eyed man smiled at Hisoka, who just blushed and turned away, muttering something under his breath.

Confused, but not yet awake enough to press the issue, Tsuzuki just shrugged it off. "I'm going to go take a shower. Feel free to make yourself at home. Tea will be soon." Hisoka just nodded once before seating himself in one of the chairs at the small, two-person table that Tsuzuki kept tucked in a small alcove just outside the kitchen area.

A brief, hot shower later, Tsuzuki was more awake and ready to go see what Hisoka needed. The younger boy had never called on him in his home before, and Tsuzuki took a moment to be thankful that he had actually had enough energy yesterday evening to actually clean up the apartment unit that he rented here in the real world, for those times when he didn't feel like staying in Ju Oh Cho.

Dressed now, Tsuzuki wandered back into the kitchen, and saw Hisoka bent over a cup of tea, grasping it tightly in both hands as if to warm them. Tilting his head to the side, Tsuzuki asked cheerfully, "What's up, Hisoka? Don't tell me another case has come up!" He fervently hoped not, because he was exhausted as it was, and having to take on another case right now would help neither of them.

Hisoka just shook his head and didn't answer, as distant as always, and Tsuzuki shrugged. His partner would speak when he was ready to, and not a moment before. Fixing himself a cup of tea, Tsuzuki settled himself across from Hisoka, and studied the younger man over the rim of his cup, trying not to be too obvious.

Since Muraki's death, the younger boy had seemed to open up. The curse remained tattooed into his flesh, which would indicate that the psychopath was not, perhaps, as dead as they might wish, but he was gone enough to not have bothered them for the past eight months or so. Right now, Tsuzuki would take whatever reprieve he could get.

Brilliant green eyes that had been so distant and cold when they had first met, had thawed, and Hisoka was able to show concern and a little bit of happiness. The distance was still there, because nobody could unlearn their entire childhood behavior in a matter of months, or even years. But the constant anger and worry was no longer visible. Instead, Hisoka's eyes had settled into a more serene emerald, a color that sparkled with emotions instead of darkening with them.

Finished with his tea, and accepting Hisoka's empty cup, Tsuzuki moved over to the sink and finished cleaning up, wondering idly if he shouldn't have offered something more substantial than tea. But Hisoka didn't like sweets, and Tsuzuki wasn't much of a breakfast person, so it hadn't occurred to him to offer before now.

Shrugging to himself, Tsuzuki turned around, drying his hands and catching his partner's stare. When Hisoka's eyes met his, the younger boy flushed and turned away, confusing Tsuzuki. Something was obviously bothering his partner, and Tsuzuki was at a loss. He wasn't good at dealing with other people's emotions. He just sort of bumbled along and hoped that he wasn't making things worse. Hisoka was his longest lasting partner to date, and the only one who was determined enough to defy his wishes and rescue him from the hellfire of his own Shikigami. He had forced Tsuzuki to live, and the violet-eyed man appreciated that more than he'd ever be able to admit to the other man aloud.

"Tsuzuki!" Hisoka barked his name, and Tsuzuki blinked, realizing that he had been so lost in thought that he hadn't heard his partner, who had apparently been speaking to him.

"Yes, Hisoka?" he asked softly, genuinely curious. Hisoka just stood and slipped on his jacket, indicating for Tsuzuki to do the same. When they were both ready, Hisoka led the way out of the apartment. Curious now, Tsuzuki barely held in his questions, wondering where they were going, and why.

Hisoka slowed down enough for Tsuzuki to catch up, and they remained side by side as Hisoka led them down several side streets and up a long flight of stairs. Tsuzuki knew what would be found at the top of the stairs, and he bit his lip, refraining from asking any questions. It was here that Hisoka had witnessed a murder, and where he had been captured, forcefully taken against his will. This was where that bastard Muraki had painted a curse into his body that had killed him, slowly and painfully. Hisoka had died in complete agony, all alone, and it had all started right here.

Swallowing heavily, Tsuzuki glanced down at his partner, who continued to look straight ahead, not meeting his eyes. Tsuzuki hoped that the smaller man was shielding hard right now, because he had never been any good at hiding his emotions. They were always plain to see for anyone who looked. For Hisoka, it was much worse, because he could feel Tsuzuki's emotions, even when the other man tried to hide them from him. And it had gotten worse since Hisoka had opened up to him, because he oftentimes let down his guard and relaxed his shields, allowing Tsuzuki's natural warmth soothe his soul.

At the far end of the trees, they stopped, and Hisoka turned and moved over to one of the large sakura trees, the blossoms dancing merrily on the wind as they leapt from the tree branches. Tsuzuki just stood there, waiting patiently, but unable to hide his curiosity from his empathic partner, who smiled wryly.

"I apologize for dragging you all the way out here for this, Tsuzuki," he murmured, his voice low enough that Tsuzuki had to move in closer to hear it. Hisoka took the opportunity to do something else that he rarely did; he moved forward into Tsuzuki's warmth and allowed the other man to embrace him tightly, comforting him as he attempted to speak of something that he had ever only heard of, but never experienced, until now.

Swallowing, he continued, his voice still low and quiet, as if speaking too loudly would shatter what little confidence he had, held in his partner's arms. "This just seemed to be an appropriate place for this. A place that's full of memories for me, of both beginnings and endings. I'm hoping that maybe," he swallowed again, nervous, "maybe I can create a new memory of this place, a happier memory."

Those strong arms tightened around him briefly, before releasing him as he stepped back so he could meet Tsuzuki's startling amethyst eyes, eyes that held so much warmth despite the fact that their very color should have made them as cold as the jewels the color was named for.

"When we first met, I really didn't know what to think, other than that I wasn't happy at having been tricked," he murmured, refusing to look away from the other man's intense stare. A small smiled flitted around Tsuzuki's mouth, and he found himself answering in kind. "But over time, I came to realize several things. You are truly powerful, although you don't see it in yourself. But more than that, you care, Tsuzuki. You care about everyone and everything, and can't but want to help those who need you, no matter what the personal consequences are."

"You've saved so many people, Tsuzuki, and even those who couldn't be saved had peace in the end," he continued, both of them remembering the princess Tsubaki and the girl, Mariko. Just two more losses in a sea of them, but they had done their very best as Guardians of Death, never giving up on those who needed their help.

Falling silent for a moment, Hisoka took a deep breath. This was the most important part, right here, and he couldn't afford to mess it up. "But most of all," he whispered, emotions flickering across his face, "you saved me. More than anyone or anything, you save me, and I don't know if I've ever told you just how much that means to me."

Tsuzuki opened his mouth, no doubt to protest that he hadn't done anything but get Hisoka hurt, but the smaller shinigami glared him into meek silence. "What I'm trying to say," he started slowly, carefully, "is that you've saved more than just my life. You've given me back hope, and peace, and a lot of emotions that I had locked away years before we met. Most importantly," he continued, determined to finish what he had started, "you've taught me how to love again."

A small sound, and Hisoka glanced sharply up at Tsuzuki, who just gazed at him in wonder and confusion. "Hisoka?" he sounded so small and lost, and Hisoka couldn't help himself. Reaching out, he pulled Tsuzuki into his embrace. Arms banded around him automatically, and Hisoka smiled in contentment before standing on his toes and kissing Tsuzuki, gently. It was their first kiss, and Tsuzuki let Hisoka lead, his kiss clumsy and unsure.

Chuckling as he broke from the kiss, Hisoka murmured, "I love you, Tsuzuki Asato." The violet-eyed man just smiled down at him, not speaking, but allowing his own emotions to flow freely between them now, not bothering to conceal them. Hisoka tilted his head back, so that the sun warmed his face, and smiled, too, basking in the warmth of the sun and of the emotions flowing from the man who held his heart.