*Warning: Manga/Anime Spoilers*


I don't own Yami no Matsuei

Beta: Eria

Request fic for: general zargon

Setting: Takes place after Kyoto in the anime/manga and ignores GenSoKai Arc. I guess this could be seen as alternate universe or alternate story line.

Special Thanks to: Eva, Bethany, Vi-chan and Sara (Eria)! You girls are my rock. 3 I went through some seriously messed up shit this summer and it just got worse through the fall semester. I had some health problems, my sister was in a scarily dangerous accident and she flipped her car over, and my cousin has diabetes type 1 and my grandfather is struggling with Parkinson's disease. When everything was building up all at once and was hard for me to handle, I had you wonderful ladies to count on. 3 If it wasn't for you all, I'd have gone crazy. Thank you for your positive encouragement and for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. Good friends are so hard to find and I'm so glad that God has blessed me with each and every one of you.

Dans l'Obscurité
By EggDropSoup

Chapitre Un: Coucher de Soleil

It had been months after Kyoto had happened. Tsuzuki never said anything about Hisoka's practical love-confession and instead acted like the whole matter hadn't taken place at all.

Hisoka did the same, choosing not to speak about his behavior during the incident. He was too embarrassed to bring it up or explore what his actions and feelings toward Tsuzuki might have meant.

It was easy for the two partners to fall back into their routine in the small community of the Shokan Division office. Tsuzuki would pout and whine over paperwork, and Hisoka would snap at him and tell him to be quiet.

None of their coworkers asked them about it, maybe because they were worried it might dredge up horrible memories for them, but they were both put on paperwork duty for several months just in case. Konoe's orders.

She was desperate.

For nearly a decade she had maintained her house, feeding off the lost wanderers who came upon the property. But the flimsy tourist humans were as sustaining as lead. A good soul was like a good wine, so exceptional and so very rare.

No, she'd need something more to keep her here- a secure energy source that she could feed off forever with no fear that she'd fade away.

It was very simple, she decided with a ghastly smile as she studied herself in the full-length glass mirror-her dark hair and eyes standing out vividly against her ivory skin.

If the souls that came to her weren't enough, then she would just lure someone who would be.

He had woken in the dark. Through the slats in the window shades the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed. Parts of the shadows fell over his face, making him feel like he was in a cell.

It reminded him of the times he had looked out through the barred windows of his family's cellar to the big red moon that stretched across the dark night sky.

For a moment, Hisoka just laid there -shuttered and imprisoned- until the daze of the dream faded and his adrenaline kicked in. He jumped off the bed and sprinted to the switch near the door. It only took a quick flick, and then the room was flooded with light -briefly stinging his eyes- but he didn't shut them. The darkness was gone, but the cold chill of the nightmares still remained.

After nearly eight months of being assigned to desk work, Hisoka still had dark and sinister dreams. The temporary leave from cases was supposed to re-energize and de-stress him. But as the months of being off-duty increased, so did the nightmares.

He hadn't told anyone about them, least of all Tsuzuki. If he did, then their return to casework would be postponed even further. Besides, Hisoka had enough problems with keeping his feelings in check when it came to Tsuzuki. And the sooner they were out of their shared office and back to investigations, the sooner things between them would be back to normal.

Or so he thought.

It wasn't a shock for him to find the bureau quiet when he arrived. The other employees had been on and off cases the last few weeks, leaving him and Tsuzuki relatively alone. Nonetheless, he had never expected to see Tsuzuki there early, sitting at their shared desk and talking quietly with Tatsumi.

His partner was in the same chair as always, looking concerned and alert to what Tatsumi was telling him. Tatsumi was standing and had his back to the door, but Hisoka could see that he was holding a manila folder at his side. They didn't notice he had come in and though he couldn't hear what they were saying, he could tell by Tsuzuki's serious expression that it was something urgent.

"What's going on?" he asked, a little impatiently, pulling off his jean jacket and hanging it on one of the empty hooks by the door. As soon as they heard him, both men stopped talking and turned to look at him.

"Hisoka, you're here early." Tsuzuki smiled brightly and eagerly, quickly waving him over.

The blond gave a small shrug as he moved closer, stopping right in front of them. "The same could be said for you."

Tsuzuki's face instantly soured, obviously not happy about that, and hooked a thumb at the older man standing next to him. "Tatsumi called me to make sure I was here. Said he had some news he wanted to tell us."

The secretary gave a little smile -proud of himself- and the Hisoka knew that Tatsumi would be giving Tsuzuki spontaneous wake-up calls more often. He wasn't sure how he felt about that.

"That's right. I tried calling you as well, Kurosaki-san, but your cell phone was off."

As if remembering, his hand went to his right jean pocket where he'd put it before he stepped outside his apartment. "Sorry, I forgot to turn it on this morning." He normally did before work, but his thoughts had been scattered since he had woken up.

Tatsumi nodded patiently. "Well, since now that you're both here I might as well tell you. You're being assigned to a case."

Hisoka only lifted an eyebrow, "Case?"

"There have been unexplained disappearances of souls in an old abandoned house," Tatsumi explained, placing the folder on top of Hisoka's side of the desk. Hisoka immediately sat down and opened it up, sifting through the police reports and photos of the victims, his eyes scanning over the names and identifying information of each one. Tsuzuki stood up and moved behind him, looking over his shoulder.

"Where is it?" Hisoka asked, grateful for the distraction and already scanning through the police reports as fast as he could.

"The house is in Karatsu. Before, there wasn't enough evidence to classify this case to our jurisdiction. The police reports had labeled it as a homicide. But after further investigation, we have reason to believe that there is something in that house that has caused many souls to not arrive at judgment. This case needs to be investigated by a Shinigami team right away."

"Oh! Karatsu! I love Karatsu!" Tsuzuki grinned over his shoulder, bouncing excitedly. "We might be able to catch the festival while we're there. They usually have it this time of year."

Hisoka rolled his eyes before swiveling his chair around to face him. "Tsuzuki, we're going there to work. Not to sight-see."

"But Hi-so-ka!" he sounded out, "You've never been there before. We've gotta have fun while we're there." He was insistent, leaning forward and wagging a finger in the younger's face. Hisoka tried to swat at it, but before he could it was out of reach. "Don't worry; I know where all the tourist hot spots are. We'll go to the beaches in Hematoma and then we'll see all the great restaurants and-"

"Not so fast, Tsuzuki-san," Tatsumi reminded him coolly, crossing his arms and taking a stern stance. "You still have to keep to your budget while you're there."

"Tatsumi!" Came the obligatory whine as Tsuzuki turned his attention from Hisoka to him, "You can't do that to Hisoka. Think of what he'll be missing out on."

"From what you're describing, I don't think I'll be missing out on much," Hisoka said blandly, shutting the file closed. There was no way he could concentrate on reading more when his partner was making so much noise.

Tsuzuki didn't seem to hear him as he was busy reminiscing with his face held in his hands and his eyes dreamily cast up to the ceiling, "Ah, I have such wonderful memories there. It was so much fun. When we go, we can explore the place together!"

Hisoka didn't share his enthusiasm and quickly snapped out, "Who wants to go with you?! Don't go deciding those kinds of things by yourself!"

Surprised, Tsuzuki sat down in his chair again and leaned in close enough so that he could stare down at the blond with big purple eyes. "Eh?! You mean you don't want too?"

Flustered and a little uncomfortable, Hisoka fidgeted in his seat, turning his face away from that intimidating gaze. "Of course not, stupid."

"Hisoka, we're a package deal, remember?" Tsuzuki raised his arms and flailed them wildly, but it didn't have the desired effect since the blond didn't see it.

Face turning darker, Hisoka finally worked up the courage to face him and said with forced effort, "If that's your way of describing us as work partners, then I don't want it!"

Instead of backing off or being hurt, Tsuzuki only smiled and leaned further in, enveloping Hisoka in a big hug. "Aww, 'Soka-chan, don't be shy~"

Hisoka's brain couldn't wrap around what had just happened. It had ceased functioning the moment Tsuzuki had hugged him. He could feel Tsuzuki's arms holding him close, and the warm comforting emotions that seeped into him through the contact. It was the first time since Kyoto that he had come into full bodily contact with his partner. Before, he hadn't been able to appreciate it or be aware of the emotions that had been expressed between them. And now, it was almost like he was starting to like it, could feel his head go fuzzy and Tsuzuki's face was so close that if they could just-

The moment Tatsumi cleared his throat -reminding them he was still there- the illusion vanished and Hisoka wasted no time in forcibly pushing the brunet away and standing up from his chair.

Tsuzuki couldn't react quickly enough to prevent himself from falling. He landed on the ground, the chair having turned over with him, and glanced up at his flustered partner questionably. "Hisoka?"

Willing his face to cool down, Hisoka turned away indifferently, sitting in his chair. "Stop fooling around," he said warningly, hoping he didn't seem too affected as he turned his attention back to Tatsumi.

"Was there anything else, Tatsumi-san?"

The secretary shook his head, a slight bemused expression on his face that made Hisoka hate that he couldn't tell what the older man was thinking. "All the details regarding the case are in the file." His curved mouth suddenly thinned and his voice came out more gravely, almost as if he was worrying and debating on whether or not to send the pair off or not. "Just make sure to be careful. I expect a call everyday with updates."

"Geeze, Tatsumi. You act like we're not responsible," Tsuzuki joked good-naturedly; already up from the floor and was now standing slightly behind Hisoka. Hisoka didn't have to see his face to know that Tsuzuki was smiling that crooked smile he always got when talking to his former partner. He could hear it in his partner's voice and it corresponded with the warm, fond emotions he could feel that Tsuzuki was projecting at his back.

The corners of Tatsumi's mouth tipped up at that -reaching his eyes- and momentarily banished the serious air that had settled around them. "I know that Kurosaki-kun is, but you Tsuzuki-san…well…" He trailed off, shifting his eyes away. Tsuzuki pouted and Hisoka could hear him muttering something about cold-hearted secretaries under his breath.

"I have some other matters I must attend to," Tatsumi announced when no other words had been exchanged. "Good luck on your case and take care." He glanced at them both, gave a light wave, and walked out the door.

After Tatsumi had left, Tsuzuki sat down and turned toward Hisoka in his seat and said, "This is a pretty big case. Maybe we should just turn it down and have someone else take care of it."

Hisoka's nose was pressed into the file he held in front of him "No way. This is the first assignment we've had since Kyoto. I'm not just handing it off to someone else." Not when they finally had something meaningful to do after months of desk work.

Tsuzuki's face turned grim at the mention of the place that had left them so broken and instead asked, "Are you sure?"

Finally having lost his patience, Hisoka huffed and slapped the open file down in front of him before shooting Tsuzuki a withering look. "Of course I'm sure. This case is to figure out what happened to some lost souls. How hard can it be?"

How hard indeed.

The house was on the outskirts of town and part of an old abandoned property. It was small, and a little outdated from not having anyone live there for years. Upon further inspection, Hisoka and Tsuzuki found that the last owners had left several items of furniture behind. Some pretty old antiques too, considering the Victorian, silver framed mirror in the living room and a few vases here and there. But the rest was all so dusty and dingy that it wasn't much to be impressed with.

After scouring through the house, they chose the small study down the hall to stay in and, while Hisoka stood watch, Tsuzuki worked on making enough protection spells to put around the room.

"Why would any ghost pick this dump to hang around in?" Hisoka asked, getting bored. He had been leaning against the wall for what felt like forever, and he was tired of having to shuffle his legs to prevent them from falling asleep.

"I don't think ghosts are concerned about what their homes look like so long as they're set with a place to stay and a stable energy source," Tsuzuki answered, as he tapped the end of his calligraphy pen to his chin thoughtfully. "Vengeful spirits can possess people and feed off souls for energy. This one probably has a whole smorgasbord of souls stored inside an anchor somewhere."

That was something the blond hadn't expected to hear. "Anchor?"

"Yes, ghosts need something to tie themselves to in order to stay here on Earth. Without some kind of connection, they either become devoured by demons or they eventually fade away."

Hisoka frowned, his expression souring. "That could be anything in this house."

"Well, that's the tricky part," Tsuzuki said, bobbing his head in agreement. "We just have to be careful. Vengeful spirits are unpredictable, so make sure to stay alert."

"Yeah, yeah. I got it." The empath rolled his eyes and tilted his head back against the wall he was leaning on and looked up at the ceiling.

The ceiling was white, normal. Everything about this house seemed normal, looked normal. The only indication that anything was remotely strange was the low humming of spiritual energy he felt when he had first set foot inside the house. No regular person would have guessed that so many people had died in this house by just looking at it. Even he didn't believe it at first. There was no emotional residue left on anything he touched. Almost like the whole house had been swept clean.

"Are you almost done securing the room?"

"Yeah," Tsuzuki answered as he painted the last paper, and Hisoka mildly wondered how his calligraphy was always so nicely printed on the charms but when it came to his paperwork, the brunet's handwriting was messy and far from aesthetically pleasing.

"I wanted to finish this before it got too dark since there's no electricity in the house," his partner told him as he got up from kneeling on the floor. He placed the last paper charm up with the others on the wall, making sure they were all aligned symmetrically. "Figures that Tatsumi wouldn't pay for us to stay in a hotel. He's too stingy."

Hisoka pushed away from the wall and shrugged. "Maybe he thought we'd have a better chance at solving the case if we're in the house."

"Maybe," the brunet conceded, as he surveyed the room. Once he was pleased with his work, he turned to Hisoka. "I'm going to bring in the rest of our stuff. Go ahead and start setting up. It'll be dark soon."

"Okay." Hisoka gave a small nod and was already walking across the room to where his duffle bag lay behind the low coffee table. Once he reached it, he wasted no time in unzipping it and began to rummage through it, looking for the flashlights and candles he had packed along with his clothes.

Tsuzuki moved away from the wall and stepped towards the door, but before he left the room he tossed over his shoulder, "Oh and Hisoka?"

The blond glanced up from this duffle bag, "What?"

"Since we're out of power it may get cold here at night."

"And?" Tsuzuki took a long look at him. Oh how he loved it when those golden brows buckled together, forming one concentrated line over narrowed green eyes.

"Well, just let me know if you need help conserving body heat." He paused, his lips shifting up into a grin and winked. "My bed's open all night."

Hisoka's face, predictably, flamed and he had to dart out of the door quickly to miss the sweater aimed at his face.

Once outside the room, Tsuzuki continued down the hall grinning like a loon and thinking just how gorgeous his partner looked, even when angry.

After their belongings had been brought in, Tsuzuki and Hisoka immediately set to work. They spread out all the contents of the file across the coffee table. Each reading and analyzing the documents as much as they could. They had arrived at the house some time in the evening and with setting up the room and unpacking, they weren't able to get through much of it before the sky became dark. The flashlights, candles, and hurricane lamps they had packed helped a little, but Hisoka had to admit that they couldn't compare to good old fashioned overhead light electricity.

Tired down through the marrow, Hisoka yawned until his jaw cracked. Tsuzuki was already asleep, snuggled up in his dark blue sleeping bag on the other side of the small coffee table -his back facing the blond- having given in to tiredness hours before.

Hisoka knew it was somewhere in the vicinity of four in the morning, and he'd only gotten up from his seat in front of the coffee table twice to go to the bathroom. His desire to at least finish reading a few more pages of the case file overrode his need for rest.

The yellow mug in front of him was empty. He had tried getting up at around two to put on a fresh pot of tea, but his legs had fallen asleep from where he sat cross-legged on the floor and from that point, the rest of his body had followed by example, becoming sluggish. His arms felt like jelly and his spine ached painfully from being hunched over the table throughout the night.

Even his eyes had trouble focusing and keeping track of the words he was reading. They all seemed to blur together on the page and the more he looked at them, the more the place between his eyebrows throbbed.

He let out a tired breath and sat back, turning his gaze away from the paperwork before him and directing it onto his sleeping partner's profile. Hisoka couldn't see much of Tsuzuki's face, but he could make out the curve of his cheek, the slight angle of his nose, and the only visible closed eye whose lashes were fluttering from dreams.

Tsuzuki's body seemed relaxed; he wasn't tossing and turning or speaking out so Hisoka assumed they were good ones. Good ones meant that Tsuzuki would get a good night of sleep and they also meant that he wasn't dreaming of the incident.

If Hisoka had a choice, he would wish that Tsuzuki didn't remember the embarrassing proclamations he had made in Kyoto. Of course, he meant them…but when he said them he wasn't thinking rationally. When he and Tsuzuki were in the depths of Touda's fires, he hadn't even thought of the possibility that they'd make it out alive. The chance of death made it easier to say the things he had kept inside himself for so long. He knew he would have regretted it if he hadn't, but he still had yet to hear Tsuzuki's answer.

And now he was stuck in this situation -in a weird sort of partnership with this man around which he now no longer knew how to act. From that point on, anything exchanged between them -be it words or actions- were now assumed to have a hidden meaning to it. He felt like if he miss-stepped or was too nice or too mean to Tsuzuki, then that fine line that held their friendship in place would be torn.

He wasn't ready for things to change between them and nor was he ready to think too deeply to what his proclamation to Tsuzuki in Kyoto meant. So when Hisoka's injuries had healed and he returned back to work at the Shokan Division, he acted like nothing had happened. Tsuzuki, while confused with Hisoka's sudden change in behavior, had also fallen back into the routine of their daily office banter.

Hisoka knew that his partner wasn't really as stupid as he pretended to be. And he knew that it was selfish to give someone mixed signals and act on one thing and say another, but he was scared. Scared to open his heart up to Tsuzuki anymore than he already had and too scared that if he were to learn how the other truly felt, he'd be left broken hearted. Tsuzuki could so easily make or break him with a simple 'yes' or 'no'.

So that's where they stood with each other. They both pretended that they didn't care about what had happened, but they still cared enough to fill their days with each other awkwardly, dancing around each other in order to maintain their partnership.

Things between them were so complicated that Hisoka didn't even know how to fix it, even if he tried.

It was even worse to be on a case, alone, and without any office-mates to distract themselves with. Even now, the blond found it hard to not watch Tsuzuki's covered side rise and fall with each breath. Or the way he would lightly snore. Not so loud that it was obnoxious, but just enough so that Hisoka was conscious of it when he listened in the silence of the early morning.

He yawned again, his head lulling and his eyes falling nearly closed.

Secretly, the blond found a lot of enjoyment watching his partner. And it wasn't hard to understand; after all he wasn't the only one who'd ever looked the veteran shinigami over with hungry eyes.

Not that Tsuzuki ever noticed when someone was checking him out, he was always too busy talking or eating to pay attention.

Though, who could blame them? What person wouldn't fantasize now and again about the tall, dark, and ridiculously handsome type? Especially when he came with a killer grin, heart-melting eyes, and a rather nicely built frame?

Hisoka could admit to himself that he was attracted to his partner, but he also appreciated Tsuzuki's presence in his life too much to indulge himself enough to take a hungry bite out of him.

But imagining doing it didn't hurt a thing.

He contented himself as his eyes finally fell closed, with the scattered fantasies of Tsuzuki flashing in his mind. Sweet dreams filled with the brunet and the little things that Hisoka had learned about him from all their years working together. Like the way Tsuzuki's mouth moved when he spoke or the way those big hands of his could so easily hold Hisoka close.

The empath let a small smile slip as his body finally succumbed to exhaustion and he drifted off to sleep.

It was the singing that stirred him- the voice so soft that he almost didn't notice it as he lifted his head from his folded arms. The muscles in his neck and back protested at the odd angle they had been left in, causing him to wince as he blinked his eyes to focus.

It was then that he saw her- the figure in the white dress that stood in the doorway, softly singing a lullaby he didn't know. Her dark eyes met his, but she just smiled and continued singing as the room turned cold.

Hisoka's skin was slicked with sweat when he woke and the unexpected constraint of the sleeping bag around him caused him to panic. His still prickly fingers found the zipper -pulled it down- and he shot out of bed so fast that the room seemed to spin.

When it settled -and he felt that he could move again- he rubbed his arms. His body still felt like a thousand needles had been jammed into his skin and he tried to calm himself down as he took in the mid-afternoon light streaming in through the window. His partner's sleeping bag was rolled up in the corner, indicating that Tsuzuki was already awake and had been the one to move him.

He didn't know if he should be annoyed or grateful for his partner 'putting him to bed', but with the nightmare still weighing heavily on his mind he just wanted to be somewhere where he wasn't alone.

Sighing heavily, he quickly changed out of the clothes he wore the day before and went to find Tsuzuki.

Hisoka searched the rooms of the house until he stumbled upon Tsuzuki in the kitchen. As he stepped into the modest sized space, he looked around in surprise. The kitchen was not in the state it had been last night. The dust that had covered every inch of the room was now gone, making the plaster walls and scarred wooden floors appear brighter, cleaner.

The older man was standing by the gas stove, with the sleeves of his white shirt pushed up above the elbows and was busy stirring something. The window by the sink was open, allowing the bright sunlight to spill into the room. "What in the world are you doing?"

Tsuzuki didn't stop stirring or look at him as he answered, "Cooking."

"I can see that. But, why?"

"I was hungry and there was nothing in the cabinets. Well, nothing unexpired anyway. There aren't any restaurants nearby so I went to the nearest convenience store and picked up some instant ramen."

Hisoka scrunched up his nose. It wasn't his ideal choice for breakfast but at least it was something simple. Tsuzuki could at least manage to cook ramen without ruining it…right?

He stepped closer, intending to examine the state of the boiling noodles. They didn't smell weird, but he wanted to be sure. "You didn't put any seasoning in it did you?"

That had Tsuzuki chuckling.

"No," the brunet assured him, "I'm just boiling the noodles. You can put in the seasoning on your own."

Because Tsuzuki was so much taller than him, Hisoka had to crane his neck in order to catch a glimpse of the white noodles cooking in a silver pot. They looked normal enough. "Did you clean the kitchen last night?"

"I cleaned it this morning."

"Why didn't you wake me? I could have helped."

Tsuzuki turned around, met his eyes, and smiled. "You were sleeping so soundly that I didn't want to wake you."

The empath shrugged, looked away. "Real good it did me. Half of the day is gone."

"Relax, Hisoka. It's not the end of the world." Tsuzuki's smile grew wider. "Think of it this way, you've got your rest and as soon as you're done eating you can get back to work."

Hisoka struggled to ignore the flutter of unsettling feelings deep inside. He blamed it on the gastric juices in his stomach and the fact that he hadn't eaten anything substantial since yesterday. "I doubt I can get much work done with what's left of the day."

"I'm sure you can. But don't make it a habit to stay up as late as you did last night, Mr. Night Owl." Tsuzuki winked at him but glanced back at the stove when the water in the pot sizzled, rising up to the edge. "Ah, it's ready."

He quickly turned off the burner, cutting off the gas. After slipping on a pair of worn, red oven mitts, he picked up the pot by its handles and moved it to the round wooden pot holder beside the stove. Satisfied, he slipped the mitts off and faced Hisoka. "Let's eat and then we'll do a check through of the house. See if anything sticks out."

Hisoka nodded, watching as Tsuzuki grabbed two bowls that were sitting on the other side of the counter and used an old wooden ladle to dish out the soup. He supposed his partner was right, there was nothing wrong with taking a breather and he couldn't very well concentrate on work if his stomach was grumbling like it was now. He also didn't want to do anything that would make Tsuzuki overly worried about him.

When Tsuzuki held a full bowl out to him, he took it without comment, and sat down in front of one of the make-shift placemats set out on part of the counter. Tsuzuki took the pace beside him, bringing over his own bowl and the little packets of seasoning for their soup.

Hisoka took one of the packets and peeled it open, dashing a small amount of the seasoning into his soup. Tsuzuki practically dumped all the contents of his packet into his own bowl and Hisoka winced instinctively. For all the years they'd worked together, he still didn't understand why his partner put so much flavoring into his food.

As he ate, Tsuzuki told him about his trip to the store. Hisoka tried his best to pay attention, but he became distracted and ended up only half-listening to most of it. His thoughts unconsciously went back to his dreams, and he wondered just what they meant and why the only thing he could remember from them was that he kept seeing the image of dark and cynical eyes in his head.

The check through the house after lunch hadn't brought about any leads, much to Hisoka's disappointment. Nothing stood out to the two partners. Whoever this ghost was, they were good at masking their presence and power. So the boys were back to the drawing board, examining the police reports and files they had gotten in Meifu for any possible leads or ideas.

They continued to work hard into the evening, only stopping for restroom and food breaks. (Though Tsuzuki abused his number of breaks.)

The silence between them was very tense -despite Tsuzuki's light attempts at humor and was only broken by the loud, obnoxious ring tone coming from Tsuzuki's cell phone.

The brunet blinked distractedly before he picked up the phone from the table and looked at the screen -his eyes widening in surprise when he saw who was calling.

"Oh. Sorry, gotta take this real quick," Tsuzuki said, as he pushed himself up from his spot on the floor, pressed the answer button on the screen, and walked out of the room into the hall. "Hi, Tatsumi. What's up?"

Curious, despite himself, Hisoka stopped focusing on the file in front of him and leaned his head toward the open door of the room.

He heard Tsuzuki's voice from out in the hall, speaking quickly to Tatsumi about how there hadn't been any progress on their case. And while the blond listened, he felt a little envious at how freely and openly Tsuzuki seemed to speak to his ex-partner.

Those two had known each other longer than Hisoka had even been alive. He couldn't compete with that. There was no way in comparing the two partnerships. Tatsumi's influence in Tsuzuki's life would always win by default, which made Hisoka feel all the more insecure and unsure on how to handle certain situations with his partner.

Even worse, there were times that the blond thought Tsuzuki was still in love with Tatsumi -leaving him with more than just his insecurity over their partnership to be preoccupied about.

The empath huffed as he crossed his arms moodily and slouched on the cushion under his crossed legs. What was so great about that old money-pincher? The man had left like the rest of Tsuzuki's partners. He didn't understand how Tsuzuki could so easily accept and still care for someone who had betrayed him so badly.

If anyone deserved Tsuzuki's attention it was him. After all, Hisoka was the only one who had stayed. And he could do it, make Tsuzuki happy. Make Tsuzuki forget about everyone else and focus only on him. It would be so easy that all he had to do was just-

Hisoka stopped that thought before he could be finish it, now conscious that the room was marginally colder than it was before -causing the exposed skin of his neck and forearms to pebble with goose bumps. Distractedly, he rubbed at his frigid arms -his short nails grazing skin- trying to calm himself down. What had gotten into him just now? He didn't want to monopolize Tsuzuki and keep him only to himself. He just wanted his partner to be happy.

He was so distracted in his thoughts that he barely heard Tsuzuki saying "Good bye" to Tatsumi outside. Coming to himself, he quickly grabbed his pen and started scribbling notes from the police reports into his blank notepad -pretending to not have noticed or been concerned with Tsuzuki's phone call.

"Sorry, about that," Tsuzuki said, walking in with a slow stride -not seeming to notice that Hisoka had been eavesdropping. "Tatsumi called to see how we were doing."

The blond looked up to give him an acknowledging glance, but what his eyes saw made his gaze linger a little longer than he had intended. He hadn't noticed earlier, but Tsuzuki's white button up shirt was un-tucked and hanging down a little past his hips. The first two top buttons were left undone, exposing a little of the older man's chest.

Hisoka gulped, felt his face flush instinctively and quickly cast his eyes back down to the open folder before him -reluctantly choosing to stare at the glossy crime scene photos instead. "Oh?" he asked.

Instead of continuing on, Tsuzuki seemed to notice something that hadn't been there when he'd left as he sat back down on the floor. "Hey, what happened?"

There was a light tap against his arm and Hisoka looked up to see what Tsuzuki was talking about. When he looked closer, he saw a small gash on his forearm. He must have accidently scratched himself by rubbing his arms. The skin wasn't terribly torn, just a small cut that would quickly heal on its own.

"Oh, I didn't even notice."

"How could you not notice that?" Tsuzuki asked skeptically, and a little doubtful, as his hand went to his pocket, and pulled out a small, pink band aid with a white kitty cat face.

He held it out to Hisoka. "Use this."

The blond's eyes went wide and he tilted his head. "What the hell is that?"

Tsuzuki shrugged a shoulder. "It's a band-aid."

Hisoka frowned, scrunched up his nose and leaned his upper body away from the table. "Band- aids aren't supposed to be pink."

The brunet let out a frustrated breath, his eyes rolling up to the ceiling. "Would you just take it already?"

"What for? The cut's almost healed." In fact it almost was. The skin was repairing itself as they spoke.

"Come on, take it. Just until it heals so none of the dust around this old house gets in it."

"Why do you even have band aids?" Hisoka prodded for an explanation, half curious as he was biding for time, not wanting to give in just yet.

"Well, just in case someone needs one. Besides, they're cute!" Without waiting for Hisoka to argue further, Tsuzuki leaned over the table and pressed it to the blond's arm, covering the almost fully healed cut. "There you go- a cute band aid for a cute kid."

Hisoka snorted irritably, but didn't make a move to take the band aid off. Its florescent pink color contrasted strongly with his pale skin. "I'm not a kid."

Tsuzuki suddenly got a look on his face, a kind of half-smile that the empath couldn't make sense out of. "You're right. You've grown up a lot since we first became partners."

'What did he mean by that?' Hisoka wondered. He was about to ask, but before he could open his mouth the other man was already getting to his feet.

"Ah, sorry, I got distracted," Tsuzuki quickly said as he stood, and it only confirmed Hisoka's suspicions that the other man was trying to evade being asked about what just happened. "I'll go ahead and clean up some in the kitchen. Just yell if you need something." His eyes darkened as he rose to his full height, reaching over to quickly ruffle his younger partner's hair before the blond could protest.

Hisoka was caught off guard from the warm feelings that were transferred through that touch, leaving him breathless and stunned as Tsuzuki gave him a wink and walked out the door again.

But even as Hisoka sat there, wondering just what the hell happened, there was a small light glowing in his heart.

If he wasn't sure before, he was now.

He was in love with Tsuzuki.

A suivre.

Dans l'Obscurité is French for In Darkness/Into the Dark.
Chapitre Un: Coucher de Soleil is French for Chapter One: Sunset.
A suivre
is French for To be continued/To Follow.

Special thanks to Retired Kitkat for help with these translations. :)