Fic Summary: Because of Tsuzuki's demon heritage, strange things happen and he becomes more possessive when he goes into heat. Who has the demon chosen as his mate? The one closest to his heart, of course.

Pairings: Tsuzuki x Hisoka, slight Tatsumi x Watari.

Warning: This story is slightly AU and contains Yaoi/Slash, Lemon/Hentai, MPREG, Strong Language, and OOC-ness.

If you don't understand what these words mean or are uncomfortable with homosexual themes, then you should not be reading this fanfiction. Run like your life depended on it and click the "back" button please; I will not be blamed for your ignorance or prejudice. Flamers will be dealt with by a pissed off don't want to see him when he's angry.

This fanfiction is not beta-read; therefore any spelling or grammatical errors are solely my fault.

Disclaimer: Descendants of Darkness/Yami no Matsuei© is the property of Yoko Matsushita. Other characters and plot independent of Matsushita's original creation are property of me. I, S.W., in no way make any profit from this story. Do not take/use any material from this story without my express permission.

Dedication: This is for you Yaoi-fans who share my twisted fantasies. If you have not seen Descendants of Darkness/Yami No Matsuei you must! Buy it on eBay or find it online, you will not be disappointed; will satisfy every anime craving for humor, depth, mystery, adventure, fantasy, and shounen-ai!

A Demon's Kiss

By Scarlet Willows

Chapter One – Level Twenty-one

I always felt a tingle of power across my skin whenever a high level Guardian came within a hundred feet of the Ministry of Hades. For some, it was a light, almost ticklish feeling like rain drops, indicating they were barely in the high level range, but high enough to warrant notice. Others made my body shiver as if my limbs had fallen asleep and I was trying to move them to re-circulate the blood, as if all my cells had died and were violently reviving, popping back into existence – These were the higher level Guardians, but not the highest – Mr. Tatsumi and Mr. Watari fit into this category and I wondered why they were stuck in the Bureau instead of doing field work. The highest level Guardians were few and far between; mostly our bosses were in the highest levels and a few field-working Guardians – I believe most of the high-leveled Guardians, the few that existed, worked in the classified sections and I could feel their power from my office on the fourth story.

There was an actual classification system; my abilities were just convenient to assess people. The way that it was explained to me was fairly simple. Guardians were classified based on their strength and individual powers (Guardians had some powers that were common to all – like immortality, invisibility, teleportation, inner vision and general things that would help them infiltrate and accomplish missions – and some that were unique – like my clairvoyance and empathy). There were four classes, A to D, with five levels each, one to twenty.

Missions were classified in a similar fashion, based on the foe or task's difficulty. The capitalized or lowercase letters for classification were mainly for convenience in reports, capitals indicating Guardians and lowercase indicating missions. "D Class" (Level One to Level Five) Guardians were matched to "d class" missions, while "A Class" (Level Sixteen to Level Twenty) Guardians dealt with "a class" or lower missions. Luckily, there were rarely "a class" missions because we only had a few high-level "A Class" Guardians. The second "A Class" Guardian I had ever met was Mr. Konoe and he was a Level Seventeen. I assumed Tatsumi and Watari were high-level B's. The last known Level Twenty had retired and now worked in Administration – he had had such god-like abilities that it was scary and I could barely walk by him without swooning. The difference between a Level Seventeen and a Level Twenty was staggering and I almost thought that Level Twenties should be in a class of their own if they all made my skin feel like it was on millions of searing pins-and-needles.

I was proud to know that I was fairly high ranking.

Hisoka Kurosaki

Death Age: Sixteen

Class: B

Level: Thirteen.

That's what my file said. I'd been working for the Ministry as a Guardian of Death for almost twenty years now and I still didn't know my partner's level. Nothing about him made sense to me. I couldn't feel pins-and-needles, nor shivers nor tingles, and he had never said anything regarding it, so I had assumed that he was a mid to lower B. But that didn't fit for when we fought enemies during missions, he was stronger than me and he displayed powers beyond a mid to lower B. Even the Twelve Gods bowed before him. And I still couldn't feel anything from him – I thought at least his thoughts would give it away because they usually came in loud and clear. Nope. Nothing. It was so confusing.

So the day I finally discovered his level, I was quite put-out and I didn't know what to believe.

I was passing by the training rooms, five large gym-like areas, one for physical training with tread-mills, stair-matsers, and weights, two for combat practice with slashing-weapons or just hand-to-hand, one for guns with a shooting range, and one for spiritual powers which was heavily warded. Each gym had an Observation Room attached with a tinted window, some chairs, and a mini-fridge.

I was passing by the Spiritual Training Observation Room when I saw Tatsumi standing by the tinted window, arms akimbo, eyes fixed on the training figure. Curious, I entered the room because I had nothing better to do.

I realized I knew the figure – it was Tsuzuki Asato, my partner. I smiled slightly, but didn't say anything. I had rarely seen him workout, let alone practice – I wasn't even aware that he did practice, I just assumed that he kind of "winged it" when on the battlefield. Not to say that he wasn't good, because he was, but there was just this manner about him that suggested he improvised.

He had abandoned his regular dark suit for jeans and a very accentuating Wife-Beater tank top. His chocolate locks were messy, as usual, his eyes closed, long sooty lashes concealing the most striking shade of violet pools, amethysts that I knew were all too hypnotizing. He had a black cloth in one hand and a katana in the other. The sword began to levitate before him as he tied the cloth around his eyes. Then he took out an iPOD and I realized I had never seen him use anything more modern than a cell phone. I wondered what kind of music he was listening to. I'd known him for twenty years, I could probably tell someone all the tiny insignificant habits (things that used to irritate me to no end) to the central facts (things that impressed me) about Tsuzuki. So it was with good faith that I bet it was industrial, a mix between heavy metal and techno, that's what usually got him pumped up.

He settled into an adept and practiced kata, one that looked so familiar to him, like it was second nature and the sword was just an extension of his will. And I thought I was the one that was proficient with the sword. I was so wrong and I'd known it because years ago I had taken to training him and he'd surpassed me. It was an easy warm-up kata, but soon became complex and I only recognized this because I myself was skilled with a sword, otherwise, to a passerby it would've looked easy. After ten minutes or so, I could not recognize the moves or the style, it was furious, twisting, thrusting, exerting and it was ridiculously graceful – a word I had never really associated with Tsuzuki.

I was taken aback as I watched slightly glistening pale golden skin slide tautly over compact muscles as his moves interweaved. I watched that tall, lean body bunching and straining as he parried an invisible foe, his incredibly defined torso stretching as he raised his arms over his head or bent at odd angles that suggested he was double-jointed and flexible, his pastel choral lips parting and panting as he worked to an unknown melody that went beyond music. He was amazingly lithe and sleek, a fact that his black duster hid…and fast, almost too fast for me to see with my eyes.

Suddenly, Tsuzuki raised his hand, fingers outstretched as he jumped into the air and hovered, calling forth mid-level shadow spirits – just moving targets to practice with, nothing serious. Then, and this is what surprised me, Tsuzuki, swung his blade diagonally and the gym rumbled fiercely, the tinted pane of the window shook violently, and the shock wave dissolved the spirits.

Then he summoned armored shadow spirits, higher levels this time. I personally didn't like training with them, they were trickier to handle and dispose of. Just a handful of them were frustrating. Tsuzuki had summoned about fifty. He moved so fast that I actually could not see the movement with my corporeal eyes. So I opened my inner eye, seeing in saturated hues as Tsuzuki used convoluted and dance-like combos on the armored shadow spirits. Even in my inner vision he was blurry from speed.

He was blind folded and I could sense that he was not using his inner eye or his Guardian-gifted speed – he was just that fast. They were all disabled within three seconds and, when I opened my real eyes, it looked as if Tsuzuki hadn't moved from his spot in the center of the room. He wasn't even winded. Next, he summoned aerial monsters, "b classes", and I was nervous because the last time he and I had been up against these beasts we had had some trouble and there had only been a few. Again he called many and, flipping into the air, he kicked or slashed at some until he dropped his katana and used a modified form of telekinesis on the rest. He stood there, legs apart, arms outstretched to his sides, hands open, body tense until he made a simple move – just a gesture, really, but I saw the power pulse around him. He closed his hands and balled them into tight fists. The monsters appeared to be gripped in his power and started writhing and screeching as they were crushed into bloody pulps. The cracking of bones was sickening, as was the gurgling of their last breaths. They burst into flames and were ashes instantly, then he waved his hand dismissively and the ashes turned to smoky shadows and disappeared.

He waved his arm around the room and wherever he pointed erupted in flames. A circle of light appeared on the floor around him as he summoned a powerful "a class" behemoth. I had never been up against one, but I had heard horror stories and I made a move to run to Tsuzuki in the next room, to shout at him and tell him to stop before he killed himself. How could he be so reckless! Tatsumi touched my arm and gave me a look that told me whatever happened next would be interesting.

The great beast snarled at my partner. Tsuzuki didn't even flinch. I was so scared for him and I was so angry that he would be this reckless and arrogant, thinking he could take on an "a class" behemoth by himself. And he did something that made my jaw drop. He knelt before the creature and smirked as it tried to claw at him. The claws bounced off an invisible shield and he was thankfully unscathed. His torso began to sway slightly as if in tune with his music on the iPOD and I couldn't imagine anyone could concentrate on music when they knelt before a behemoth – a creature feared by most Guardians. He looked so calm and unfazed, a side of Tsuzuki I had never seen, and almost cold and calculating – another word I would've never used in the same sentence with Tsuzuki.

The air around him started glowing red, until the whole room erupted in the most angry red flames that grew hotter until they turned green, then blue, and finally purple, the hottest visible temperature. The creature's skin literally melted off like wax, his muscles and insides spilling onto the floor then vanishing, too, with the fire. And in the midst of this sat Tsuzuki, unhurt and unaided by the God Suzaku. The fire was from Tsuzuki himself.

What bothered me most, besides the fact that I had never seen him exhibit this level of power, especially without the assistance of one of the Twelve Gods, was the fact that he remained indifferent and unstrained, like this was common place and it was all too easy. It was almost anticlimactic. With a wave of his hands, the fire receded, pulling back into his body it seemed, then he continued to summon monsters that he and I had been up against, monsters that we had struggled to beat, and I watched stunned as he beat them with ease and what had taken us ten minutes to kill only took him two seconds. Sometimes he didn't even need to move, he just stood there and made hand gestures that elicited different methods, but resulted with equally painful deaths.

I realized I would never be that powerful…and he had been hiding it – for reasons I could only guess at.

"You wouldn't know it, but he's more intelligent and studious than even Watari – he has several doctorate degrees in diverse subjects – he's more shrewd and discerning than me, and he's more powerful than the boss and Kiosuke in Administraion." Tatsumi spoke for the first time and it startled me a bit because I had forgotten he was there, but I didn't show it.

"Wha-…then that means…but…no…he can't be," I stuttered in shock, my expression slack save for my eyes that were as wide as dinner plates, staring through the tinted glass of the Observation Room.

"He is," Tatsumi said calmly, nodding his head slightly to himself. "He doesn't like it to be known, I probably shouldn't have told you. But I just thought you should know because you're his partner…and because he allowed us to watch." I must have looked slightly confused. "Make no mistake, he knows we're here, that we're watching. And it's most likely that he knows what we're thinking and feeling, he can probably even hear us. He doesn't mean to eavesdrop because he respects people's privacy, but it happens a lot I imagine. You should have more respect knowing that you're working literally with the best of the best. The only Level Twenty-one in existence."

"I…I never disrespected his power, I...I guess I just underestimated him. I've never seen him like this. And I…I can't feel anything…." Tatsumi looked at me, puzzled and expecting an explanation. "I can feel the levels of Guardians. When I'm around you and Mr. Watari, I feel shivers, which tells me you're high B's or low A's." He nodded understandingly. "When I'm near Chief Konoe, I feel like pins-and-needles. When I walk by Mr. Kiosuke in Administration, I try not to faint. When I'm with Tsuzuki, I feel nothing…absolutely nothing."

My eyes were unblinking as I watched Tsuzuki train. Tatsumi and I were quiet for a while until he stirred slightly. "He's not even using most of his power, it's just the tip of the iceberg. If he did, it would probably destroy this building and anything within a hundred miles – and I'm not exaggerating. No one can even feel it, which is the intriguing thing. He shields so tightly. Even though there are wards on this gym, he's had to put up special ones so his power doesn't leak out. And I suspect if you happen to feel anything – his emotions, his power, his thoughts – it's only because he wants you to. If you even felt the brunt of it, you'd probably overload. Nothing's a challenge to him."

"Then why has he hid it? All our enemies – he could've vaporized them in seconds, couldn't he? Even the max-leveled 'a classes'. We would've never had to have gone through the whole Muraki Incident!" I felt the beginnings of anger flare.

"He came into his demon power some years ago, too late for the Incident though. Watari's still doing tests to this day. We're really not sure, but Watari thinks it's some kind of demon puberty thing. Tsuzuki doesn't like to take anything for granted, so he rarely goes 'all-out'. He never looses control. He likes to do things for himself without using his power. He was going through some issues during Dr. Muraki's case, namely discovering he was part demon – and I think that has a lot to do with everything, it's why he's so powerful – and he was trying to help bring some closure for you. At the time he probably could have fried Muraki in a second even though the doctor was fairly powerful, who's to say? But if he had killed Muraki like that, you would never have had closure. He knew this. And he wanted you to learn things for yourself. He wanted you to grow and become strong. And he was right, you've come a long way since then, Kurosaki, and not just power-wise."

"Then why did he need a partner if he's this strong? Why me?"

"It's policy, but...perhaps he was lonely. Maybe he wants to train you. You'll have to ask him."

I was silent for a while, watching this doppelganger pose as Tsuzuki, at least that's how I this was someone else. "What…what if he lost control?"

"Then we'd be dead." He turned to fix me with piercing azure eyes. "But we have to trust that he won't. Tsuzuki would never do anything to hurt a person that he loves and cares about. And believe me, he cares about us a lot. He once showed me a fraction of his emotions for all of us here at the Bureau…it was staggering, I almost overloaded…and it was only a fraction he said." He chuckled slightly as he joked (although I suspected it was true), "He could probably kill with his love. All this power and he's so gentle. It's touching." He said this more to himself than to me.

This all sank in, but it was logged into the back of my brain for later examination because I was still shaken. Little things began to click into place for me. Every time Tsuzuki had gotten hurt, he probably could've healed it before it even bled. Every time we fought something, he had always held back grotesquely if this training session was even a fraction of his power. Had it all been an act? And why? To be normal – even by Guardian standards? Guardians would kill for this kind of power. Tsuzuki was practically a god. So why had he let himself go through so much suffering? All the little snatches of his thoughts that always leaked into me, did they mean something? They always seemed superficial to me and pointless to investigate. Now I know they were evidently purposeful because he wouldn't let anything unintentionally slip. Why? Why? Why?! I wanted to scream.

Was everything a lie?

The very thought made me want to cry. I had trusted him …him and no other. I wouldn't be able to stand it if everything was an act – his love of sweets, his puppy eyes when someone took away his dessert, his dopey immaturity, his klutziness, his absolute loathing of broccoli and paperwork. Was it a lie when those ethereal eyes softened each time he looked at me, the way he always knew exactly what to say to bring me out of a maudlin humor, the way his chestnut strands of hair would fall into his face when he embraced me. Then there was his caring, humble attitude, his love of innocence – or anything small and fuzzy – the diplomatic way he dealt with angry or hurting people – especially me. He had helped me through it all after my death. I was so full of hate, but he showed me so much persistent kindness and gentle caring that I couldn't help but fall in love with him. I thought he was such an idiot, but I loved him…truly and madly. The Tsuzuki in the next room was a completely different person it seemed.

And now, knowing that he had this kind of power, that my strong shields were for naught, that he'd probably known my feelings from the start, it made me feel so pathetic. I know I shouldn't assume anything, but I trusted Mr. Tatsumi.

Then a thought struck me. "Why hasn't he been promoted as the Thirteenth God if he has this kind of power?"

"They tried to promote him, but he turned it down. Said he wanted to be a Guardian, that he had someone to protect," said Tatsumi almost absentmindedly, grinning vaguely and pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose.

"When was this?" I asked.

"Well, they offer him the promotion every ten years, but he's been turning it down."

"Who is he protecting?" This was the question that had really had me interested.

Tatsumi gave me a knowing look and turned toward the door without saying anything, and before he crossed the threshold he turned to me, "Kurosaki, try not to be angry that he didn't tell you. He cares for you and your opinion is the most important to him. Try to understand." Then the door closed, leaving me with my thoughts and a pane of glass separating me from Tsuzuki, the only Level Twenty-one. And then, I was afraid…I was afraid of him for reasons I couldn't explain. I loved him and I feared him and I felt so betrayed and ashamed. And I was probably broadcasting this loud and clear metaphysically, but I didn't care. Why hadn't he told me? Did he not trust me? Maybe he just didn't want to scare me off.

Was everything a lie?

I decided to pay Watari a visit after a good brooding session. And brood I did. I sulked and begrudged the fact that Tsuzuki hadn't told me the extent of his powers, that he was so far above the rest of us, that everything was possibly an act, and – this is what really made me mortified – that he had probably known of my feelings for him this whole time. The thought made me feel violated and dirty – I desired him…everything about him…and when I had touched myself, even though it wasn't with lewd pictures in my head (it was always of something sweet like the way he smiled at me or the feeling of how incredibly soft his hair was when I had accidentally touched it, making love under sakura trees…just the sound of his name, those heavenly syllables on my lips could get me off), I still felt guilty as if I had obscenely disrespected him on some level that was intangible. If he knew about that, then I sincerely wished I could die. This god of Guardians wasn't meant to be touched. How could I look him in the eyes again? How could I look at him now without a sense of overwhelming awe, or fear? After all, could this really be my Tsuzuki? I was so out of his league that it wasn't even funny.

But through all the years I had known him, Tsuzuki had never looked at me with disgust…but then again he had been such a good actor all this time, covering up his power, so who knows? I'd had enough wallowing in self-pity, so I headed down to Watari's labs in the Science Department.

"Mr. Watari?" I called into the cluttered yet sterile room. A canary-yellow head appeared over a pile of papers, orange hair-tie slightly loose and his glasses a little askew.

"Ah, Hisoka! How many times over the past twenty years have I asked you not to add the prefix Mister to my name?" He asked, smiling goofily as he came around the mountain of files, straightening his white lab coat.


"Precisely four thousand, three hundred and six times," he said this in an all-too-chipper manner. "It makes me feel old."

"Sorry, Watari, I forget. What are you up to?" I looked pointedly at all the other pillars of papers, stuffing my hand into my pocket.

"Spring cleaning." Seriously, I don't know how Watari could smile all the time without cracking his face.

"But it's autumn," I deadpanned.

"Yes, well, I got a late start. Is there something I could help you with?"

"Well, I came to ask you about…Tsuzuki." I must have looked a little sheepish but it seemed like the eccentric blond scientist was expecting this.

"Ah, so…he let you see him in the training room. Tatsumi told me. I know it's a shock, Hisoka. Come, sit down and we'll talk over some tea." He bustled about for a few minutes, moving papers so we could have a place to sit and then he set two china cups, poured us some tea that had been brewed earlier, and set some fruit, cheese, and pastries on matching china plates (I'm sure he kept the sweets in case of an emergency visit from Tsuzuki). I hardly touched mine, I just couldn't stomach anything at the moment, but I took a few cursory sips and nibbles just to be polite. Mercifully, Watari was a good cook. "You're probably angry that he didn't tell you," Watari began after he'd finished half his cup. "He's always been…so cautious about it…and he doesn't want to scare anyone…least of all you." His orange almond-shaped eyes softened, and he smiled genuinely…like he knew something I didn't. "I've done a lot of research on demons since we discovered his heritage. He's come in for lots of tests and I know he only does it to make me happy, he knows more about…everything…than I probably ever will. I don't know how he finds all that time to study for PhD's; it's infuriating. Anyways…yes, the tests…a lot of everything is due to his demon blood. He's not proud of it. It scares him sometimes. And now, he's even more apprehensive because…well…I'll tell you at the meeting tomorrow, everyone should hear it at the same time, that's the way he wanted it. He didn't keep all this from you to hurt you or because he doesn't trust you…he just knew that you weren't ready to hear it until today, apparently. If he really hadn't wanted you to see him today, he would've shielded himself from you and made the entire room invisible. Or he would've modified your memory. Hisoka…he really does…care…about you. You haven't been ready for a lot of things that he's wanted to tell you, and he's been patient, but he's running out of time now." Watari was looking off into the distance, his pianist fingers curled around his warm cup.

"Why is he running out of time?"

"Oh, did I say that? Well, I've said too much. You'll find out at the meeting tomorrow." This time his smile was frustrating. The end of that sounded final, but I wasn't ready to go, I wasn't ready to run into Tsuzuki (or for him to seek me out) and I think Watari sensed this and took advantage of it. "Would you like to stay and help me sort out this mess of paperwork?"

So for the rest of the day I helped the "mad scientist" organize his filing system – it had been such a wreck and I wouldn't have been surprised if my absentminded friend told me that he hadn't touched it in fifty years. This would be good for him; now he could get to his research quicker and he could perform his tasks much more efficiently. Maybe the boss would give me a raise. Yeah, right.

"You should get a secretary…or at least someone that would come in once in a while and wouldn't let your files get this mucked up," I vehemently suggested as I put the last folder into the filing cabinet. I'd color-coded and organized them by category, subject, and date and I stepped back to look contentedly at my handiwork.

Watari was just finishing sweeping the floor (that had been previously covered in papers and scientific instruments) when he looked up, blond tresses in his eyes. "I know. I just haven't had enough time to interview anyone." He pushed his hair behind his ear and started straightening things on the lab tables and his desk. "I was thinking about taking on some interns, you know, to help me around the department…it's a ghost town around here and I think some people besides myself should be interested in this noble pursuit of knowledge!"

I smiled. "I could at least interview some secretaries for you. I think Mr. Tatsumi would appreciate it if it were more organized down here…then he might allow more funding to your department."

"Speaking of which, where is that man? Ya know, I've tried the most kinky ways to persuade him to give my sector more support, but I swear the man is a brick wall," he got this funny glint in his eye, "Even when I-"

"Please, I don't think Mr. Tatsumi would appreciate it if you regaled me with stories of your sexual escapades." I was blushing, but it was from good-natured mirth rather than from embarrassment and I chuckled despite myself. Watari and Tatsumi had been married for fifteen years and were still very much in love. They were so charming together, but were very professional at work. I had been Watari's "bride's maid" and fortunately I didn't have to wear a dress, but Tsuzuki still teases me about it. Ouch, try not to think about him right now, I told myself. Anyways, Watari had worn a nice white suit with an iridescent orange scarf-tie (to match his eyes), but that was the extent of his resemblance to an actual bride – I must admit that I did half-expect him to wear a dress. In the Ministry it was legal and binding for same-gender employees to get married – the Bureau had a very different view on homosexuality than humans did because love was love and, powers or not, we knew that best of all. Life after Death changes your perception of things a bit.

Just then, ironically, Tatsumi walked in, pushing up his glasses as was habitual. "I heard my name." He informed, but it had more of an inquisitive lilt to the statement, asking, between the lines, what we were talking about.

Watari jumped on his husband, wrapping his arms around the tall Guardian's neck. "I was just telling Hisoka what a wild tiger you are in bed!" That time I flushed ten different shades of red and it was from embarrassment.

"Well, naturally. All this stoic energy has to go somewhere," teased Tatsumi.

I clapped my hands over my ears and started singing, "La, la, la, I can't hear you! Oh god, mental image…ew."

"Hey, what do you mean 'ew'…we're hot," Watari exclaimed in mock-offense. His imprisoned husband sniggered quietly then pecked Watari on the cheek. Watari turned to him with stars in his eyes and prompted in a saccharine-coated voice, "I love you. Now, Mr. Tatsumi, what can I help you with?" The Guardian leaned down to whisper in the scientist's ear and Tatsumi must have suggested something sexual because Watari invented a new tinge of scarlet as he playfully swatted at the man and whispered, "Later…. Now, seriously, what did you want?"

"What? Can't an adoring spouse visit his beautiful husband without having an ulterior motive? Other than to get in your pants, of course." he added in a theatrical whisper that I could clearly hear. They were so cute together; Tatsumi really lightened up after he married Watari. I was envious of their relationship – it's what I wanted with Tsuzuki. Usually being with them made me mischievous and happy, but right now it was making be depressed because it made me think about Tsuzuki and my shameful, guilty feelings. Watari blew a raspberry at Tatsumi and I could see the tall man visibly trying to hold back from latching on to the proffered tongue if only for my benefit.

I decided to make a quick escape before Watari attacked his drool-worthy spouse. "I think I'm going to head home now, Watari. It's been…an interesting day."

"Oh, alright. And, you know, don't let this whole thing with Tsuzuki bother you too much. He's still our same ol' Tsuzuki, with a sweet tooth and everything. Just talk to him…when you're reading." Tatsumi was nodding in agreement. "And, if you need to talk tonight, just call us, okay?"


Watari disentangled himself from Tatsumi and gave me a small hug, then ushered me gently out the door.

It was quiet in my apartment when I opened the door, which was odd because I was used to Tsuzuki coming over and making himself at home as I cooked us something to eat. I'd told him years ago that he could teleport over after work whenever he wanted to and he'd taken me up on the offer every day since then. If he'd nestled himself into my couch (which had a Tsuzuki-shaped indent), then there would've been noise of some sort greeting me before I walked through the door – stereo, TV, his humming, anything. He'd taken to reading to me these past few months (I not-so-secretly loved it) and I'd fallen asleep a few times to his deep voice and the next morning I would awake snuggled in my bed – I assumed he carried me and tucked me in. It made me sad to see my couch empty and the room silent, with a lack of welcome from my absent partner. When had I started to think my house was not a home without Tsuzuki? When had I come to look forward to it after a hard days' work, to depend on him sitting there with his smile as he pet my fluffy white, blue-eyed cat, Porker?

Speaking of which, at least Porker came to greet me. He hated everyone else, but he was the sweetest little thing to me (and Tsuzuki) and he slept with me at night; sometimes he'd even curl up under the covers, but his favorite position, at all hours of the day if possible, was sprawled over my stomach. I know he just used me for my body heat, the little slut. He'd probably cheat on me with Tsuzuki any day. Tsuzuki had actually gotten him for my birthday a few years ago; he came up to my desk holding a chubby little kitten with a blue bow and said, "I have a little ball of fuzz that wants to wish you a happy birthday." I couldn't put the thing down after that. Maybe that's why he's so fat.

He rubbed against my legs, curling his feathery tail around my ankle, meowing for food; I'd had to put him on a diet because he'd reached an unhealthy weight (even though I secretly loved his squishy blubber). I went to the kitchen and I set down some food for him then sauntered back into the living room, too preoccupied to cook dinner for just my lonesome self.

I curled into myself on the couch, thoughts revolving around Tsuzuki even though I'd promised myself I wouldn't think about him tonight. For the hundredth time today I thought, was everything a lie?

And before I was about to cry, I suddenly heard a knock at the door and it made me jump. My neighbors never visited and Tsuzuki never knocked…ever. Full of curiosity, I rushed to unlock the door, wiping back non-existent tears. I turned the knob and the first thing I saw was shoes, nice shoes, followed by khaki slacks, a slightly rumpled button-up duster, and then the most beautiful plum-colored eyes I'd come to fall in love with.


To be continued…

Updates are about every other Friday.