Somewhere I Have Never Been

Author's Notes: By popular demand, here it is. This is a sequel. PLEASE read the first story, Live Through, posted on FFN and at http://www.fatalistic.net/knkfics/miscfics.html -- I guarantee this will make no sense if you don't.

Warnings: Yaoi, Hisoka+Tsuzuki, angst, melodrama, angst, maybe some violence, maybe some NCS, maybe some torture, can you tell that I have no idea where I'm going with this?, cliffhangers (lotsa those if I'm lucky), angst, no sex for God's sake, angst, long waits between chapters, and angst. I really have no idea where I'm going with this and I'm WARNING EVERYONE RIGHT NOW that there may never even be a chapter one for this very reason.

Spoilers: Yeesh. Indeed. For all the TV series. I reiterate that I have never read the manga, and so if this seems untrue to what you know, that's probably why.

Prologue

You know, no one ever tells me what's going on. Honestly, I come in to work and find myself partnerless, and no matter who I ask, no one will tell me where he is. He's my partner, for crying out loud. But either no one knows, or I'm just not good enough for the information.

Ha. I'll show them.

Tsuzuki is just as lost as I am, so with a few gentle prods he agrees to go ask Tatsumi for me. I'm now sitting at my desk, waiting patiently for Tatsumi to fall victim to Tsuzuki's huge purple eyes, as he always does.

Me? Shameless? Not always. But we must be brutal in the search for information.

Tsuzuki comes back about ten minutes later, proving that Tatsumi was remarkably stubborn about handing the information out. He also looks unwontedly serious, which really can't bode well.

"So where is he?" I ask.

"He's on Chijou," Tsuzuki says. "At his old hometown." He pauses slightly. "This is the day that . . . that he was to have been married. Konoe-Kachou gave him the day off."

"Ohh." The light dawns and everything becomes clear. This, then, would explain why Akimiya has been unusually snappish and hostile the past few days. If you knew him, this might make a bigger impression -- Akimiya is never hostile. "Why doesn't Kachou-san ever give me a day off to mope?"

Tsuzuki's lips twitch in an adorable little smile. "Because you'd never come to work."

"Not lately," I say defensively. "I've been angsting a lot less. You know I have."

"I know." Tsuzuki is still giving me that smile which means he's humoring me. So I do the adult, mature thing to do: stick my tongue out at him.

He leans over and kisses the tip of my nose, which naturally causes me to turn a shade of crimson previously unrecorded by man.

"This is ridiculous," I say, mostly to hide my blush. "I'm going to go track him down. If Akimiya actually manages to be depressed, I think the world will end."

"Better check with Kachou-san first," Tsuzuki says mildly. Then he smiles and heads for the small office he has, next to Watari's.

I get permission from Konoe-Kachou fairly easily. Despite what he'd like to think, when there are no field missions, there's very little for me to do. Oh, I can make myself useful for brief periods of time, sure, but if I've got something better to do, he usually doesn't bother me.

He's even kind enough to tell me where I'm likely to find Akimiya.

After about half an hour of poking around the small town, I find him sitting on a bench in the town square. I know he's making it so no one can see him. In such a small town, there were probably many people that knew him. If someone saw him, it would likely cause a great uproar. He is dead, after all.

"Hey." I plop down on the bench next to him.

"Hey," he replies. He doesn't seem surprised that I came, or that I managed to find him. I'd say he doesn't feel surprised, but as always, my empathy fizzed out when I came within about twenty feet of him.

"You'd better watch out," I say. "Angst gives you wrinkles."

He gives me a sidelong glance. "You would know."

"Reigning king and champion," I admit. "I'm defending my position. It's hard enough to keep it from Tsuzuki on a bad day. Don't make me worry about you, too."

Akimiya is a good partner. We'll never connect the way that Tsuzuki and I did, but we work well together and like each other well enough.

"Hisoka, you're a great guy, now please leave me alone."

"I thought maybe I could help," I say quietly. "Believe me, I know what it's like to hurt. Do you want to talk?"

"No. Yes. I don't know." Akimiya stares off into the distance. "I was supposed to be married today."

"I know." He gives me a look. "Tatsumi knew, and Tsuzuki made puppy dog eyes at him until he told him, then Tsuzuki told me. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be underhanded, but . . . I was worried."

He accepts that with a slight nod of thanks. Akimiya knows, almost better than anyone, how hard it is for me to admit to things like being worried. Like caring.

"I just . . . came to make sure she was okay," he finally says, after we've sat in silence for a while.

I remember Akimiya telling me that he wanted his love to find happiness with another; that her happiness was more important than anything. I didn't understand at the time, not really. I'm still not sure I do. I've been with Tsuzuki, as a real couple, for almost six months now, and I'd be no more willing to give him up than I would be willing to give up my own life. Perhaps less. I could never watch him be with someone else, despite how happy it made him.

I don't think that means I love Tsuzuki any more or any less than Akimiya loved his fiancee. What I really think it means is that I'm selfish, and he isn't.

"And how is she?" I ask.

"She's . . . coping. Like I am." Akimiya closes his eyes. "Being able to watch her . . . knowing that if I wanted to, she could see me, she could touch me . . . it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Because she can never be with me, and she's happier not knowing that I'm still here."

I want to protest, but I know he's right. Shinigami do not age. A mortal in love with a Shinigami would be a disaster waiting to happen. And for her to know that he is still with her, but never with her . . . that wouldn't help her right now.

"And . . . him?" I ask timidly. Akimiya told me once that the reason he became a Shinigami was to make sure his murderer never got near his intended.

"In jail." Akimiya pauses, then explains. "Apparently they were able to actually figure out what had happened to me. He'll never get near her again."

"That's good," I say, trying to sound encouraging.

"Hisoka . . ." Akimiya is silent for a long minute. "You know what it's like to hate. And now I suppose I do too. But why . . . why can't I forgive?"

I stare at him. "Akimiya. He killed you. That is not something you forgive."

"I was taught that you should always forgive," Akimiya says, frowning. "That we could never judge people's true motivations. Perhaps he wasn't right in the head."

"Someone once told me," I say slowly, "that by seeking revenge, by not forgiving, that you're only allowing someone to continue to hurt you."

Akimiya nods. "It's true."

"And yet . . . I don't forgive Muraki. I have no wish to ever forgive Muraki. I still think about him every day. But that's my choice. Not his."

"But . . . what Muraki did to you, to Tsuzuki . . . it's far worse than what he did to me."

"Is it?" I think about that for a minute. "In the end . . . I don't think it is. Yes, Muraki tortured me and raped me and drew my death out into prolonged agony before he killed me. But . . . becoming a Shinigami was the best thing that ever happened to me. This is where I found true happiness. And believe me, being alive wasn't really doing much for me. My parents kept me locked in their cellar."

Akimiya flinches and lets out a slight exclamation. I'd forgotten that he didn't know that. He knows so much about me, just from what he's seen in my dreams, that sometimes I forget he doesn't know everything.

"They did," I say. "They were afraid of my empathy. They called me a demon, a monster, and they locked me away where no one would ever see me. They only let me out at night, for fresh air. The three years I was in the hospital, dying, they never came to see me."

Akimiya says nothing.

"But it's different with you," I say. "You had everything while you were alive. And this man took that all away from you."

"I'm not . . . unhappy," Akimiya says slowly.

"I know," I reply. "But I'll be the first to tell you that being 'not unhappy' is a far cry from being happy. It's sort of the same way that being friends with the one you love is a far cry from being a couple with the one you love."

Akimiya nods slightly. "But nothing's going to change," he says.

"That's not true," I reply with a shrug. "You'll change. I'll change. We all change every day. The situation won't change. You'll still be dead and the woman you love will still be alive and there's nothing you can do about that. But with time, you accept it." I don't say what I'm thinking. My own trials have taught me that love, not time, heals all wounds.

"I don't want to accept it!" Akimiya yells, startling me, slamming his hand into the bench beside him. There's a long moment of silence, then he repeats himself, softer. "I don't . . . want . . . to accept this."

I don't know what to say. I have never been the sensible one between us. My comforting skills are pretty much restricted to Tsuzuki. And there's nothing I can say that will make this better.

"I'm sorry," I finally whisper. "But you have to."

Akimiya says nothing. He's staring steadfastly at the ground.

"Come on. It's getting late." I take Akimiya by the hand and tug him to his feet. He comes with me and follows me as I leave town, with the air of a man who isn't really sure of where he is or what's happening. "I think you shouldn't come here anymore," I say, as we walk away. "I don't think it's good for you."

He nods, but I know he isn't listening.

~~~~

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