by Kira (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Title: Yami no Kenzoku, meaning 'Family of Darkness'. From Yami no Matsuei OST 1, track 09.
Spoilers: Entire TV series; takes place following.
Pairings: TsuzukixHisoka, TatsumixTsuzuki, MurakixTsuzuki
Genre: Multi-parter angst, fluff, romance, violence, action, horror, twists, mystery, oh my.
Notes: I have no idea where this story is going. Bear with me, please. ^-^ Also, since I've only seen the TV series and am only 'so-so' familiar with the manga, I take some liberties concerning Meifu and the way it functions. I try to keep most it true to the manga (in tankoubon 1, the special JuOhCho lessons, Tatsumi does say that Meifu is a replica of Chijou – the Land of the Living) but otherwise I have my way with it. And, this goes without mentioning, but EnmaCho and JuOhCho and everything confuses the hell out of me, so if I mess something up, again, I am having my way with it and trying to stay as true to the manga and series as possible. ^-^;;Prologue
One of the very few luxuries Hisoka had been allowed growing up were books. He was given dozens of them at a time, so that the few trips his parents made into the cellar were even fewer than usual. One meal was brought a day. Twelve books were brought each Sunday, by either his mother or father, while it was a servant that brought him his meals. They showered him with books to distract his mind from thoughts of escape, but more to keep him from reading the minds of others. Hisoka read through them as though he thought they would be snatched up at any moment, until they had started to bring him entire boxes of books rather than the usual dozen.
The one certainty he had learned from them was that in stories, there was always a beginning and an end. Life was the same way. There was a beginning – that was birth – and there was an end – death. His life was not like those in the storybooks, much less the real world. There was a beginning, but no end. There was not even a resolution in his life. It continued to flow through time until he wondered where the years had gone and if there was truth in the phrase 'redemption in death.'
Unlike most children, growing up Hisoka had thought often of death and whether or not there was actually an afterlife. Never in his wildest dreams had he ever imagined that it would be the way it actually was, but he supposed that was the way death was supposed to be. Death was ambiguous. No one knew what it felt like to die until it actually happened to them, and though most people had a concept of what would happen following death, none would have thought it turned out to be what it was.
Meifu, the Land of the Dead, was a replica of the real world, with very subtle differences. Because it was the Land of the Dead, where fantasies and dreams were true, there was no filth, no poverty, no murder, no violence. There was no building in Meifu that was blemished in any way shape or form. Trees were always green and laden with leaves. Flowers were always blooming. The sun was always shining. It was a replica of Chijou, the Land of the Living, but it was a much brighter, tranquil, desirable world.
People lived in Meifu as they did in Chijou. Occupations were accessible, should they be desired, but it was not as though it was necessary. Each spirit was provided with a home, and while the dead did not need to eat, they were provided with a never-ending supply of food. It did not function as a natural society, as with a government or with someone in charge of the entire system, as with peaceful, obedient spirits populating Meifu, such things were unnecessary.
Meifu was very peaceful for those that had died and been judged to be righteous, good people, and at times a far better experience than Chijou had been, where they could meet loved ones and live eternally. For those that were judged as cruel, heartless people, Meifu was another thing entirely. After all, in the Land of the Dead, there had to be a Heaven (Joukai) and a Hell (Makai), and Meifu had its own functioning Hell. But Hisoka knew nothing of it, having never been to Makai and knowing only one of its demons, and no one was taught what kind of place Makai was.
And then in Meifu there were people like him. People that had suffered through their lives and therefore developed an attachment to the world of the living. This made them candidates to be shinigami, gods of death, that were employed by the Shokan Division of EnmaCho and dealt with bringing the deceased to appear in the court of JuOhCho to be judged and sorted in Meifu. Because they answered to EnmaDaioh, those in EnmaCho were the highest ranking individuals in all of Meifu, but paid very little.
It had taken more than a week for Hisoka to completely comprehend, and he was still certain that there was something that he was missing. The system, however, was actually no concern of his so long as he functioned as a shinigami and did what was expected of him. It was not the system he was thinking about anyway, as he stood beneath one of the many blooming sakura trees outside of Meifu's replica of the Diet Building, where EnmaCho made its headquarters. He was thinking about books, and how in them, there was always a beginning and an end.
Dying and becoming a shinigami had been the beginning of his story. It had continued when he had met his current partner, Tsuzuki Asato, and they had worked on their first case together. The stage of their chaotic play, as Muraki would have said, was set at that time. The first act had ended and led them into the second, which Hisoka supposed, in terms of a story, would have been considered a subplot because it did not deal entirely with the one man who would become their most loathed enemy. The third act was when they had met that man again, when Muraki Kazutaka had been behind all of the murders taking place on the Queen Camellia, a luxury liner. The fourth and most recent of acts was Kyoto, when a marginal resolution had been reached, but there was no ending.
His story continued, and there seemed to be no end in the near future. Muraki continued to live. Their hopes that Tsuzuki had been able to kill him were crushed when Hisoka had revealed to them his body still marked by the blood-red characters of the curse Muraki had placed on him. Without Muraki dead, Hisoka did not think that there was a definite ending to their story. For there to be an end, like in all of the storybooks, Muraki had to die. It was a classic tale; good triumphing over evil. He wanted his story to be the same.
Maybe it could be considered bloodthirsty or morbid of him to want one man's death so badly. But he felt justified in his desire. Muraki had tortured him, cursed him, and eventually been the one to murder him. He had kept Hisoka hanging on a slender thread of life for those three years that he was cursed, not knowing what had happened that evening when he had been unfortunate enough to find Muraki murdering someone. That was what had damned him. A mistake. A step away from his normal path when he was allowed outside for his late night walks. If he had kept to the same path, if he had not looked toward that red moon, he would have never seen anything.
Still, he wondered if it was better that he had died. In Chijou, he had been alone, without a single person in the world that cared for him. His days were spent trapped in the basement of the home he had once shared with his parents. His evenings were dark, dismal, and ultimately led to tragedy when he was allowed outdoors. Maybe it was better that he was dead and had escaped from that hell of life. Here, there were people that cared for him. He had a family here. That had never been something accessible to him in that life.
But life was /not/ any easier as a shinigami than it had been as a human. As a shinigami, he was forced to constantly face death in the eye and to cope with the deaths of others, and not even the natural deaths that JuOhCho was able to supervise without the help of the shinigami. What he saw were murders and people forced to live horrible lives, people that had been possessed by the dark side of life, people without a hope. He understood now that he had seen the world with the eyes of a shinigami why Tsuzuki was often upset and felt guilt for what he did as a shinigami.
Only two weeks since it had all happened, he thought with a sigh. Tsuzuki was still in the infirmary. Wounds of a shinigami healed much more quickly than those of a human, but because his wounds, a variety of burns, had been caused by a shikigami with the power to kill a shinigami, it would take longer for him to fully recuperate. Everyone in the agency went to visit him every day. His spirits were beginning to perk up, especially when they brought with them various treats of cake and pie, but Hisoka could tell that he was still more than slightly damaged. It would take him a long time to completely overcome what had happened in Kyoto, and even then, Hisoka knew he would never forget.
Tatsumi had told him only yesterday that if Tsuzuki wanted to forget that he would. Tsuzuki /wanted/ to remember, Tatsumi had said, because only then would he recall past mistakes and know he never wanted to commit such a sin again. Hisoka did not know whether or not that was healthy, but it was one of Tsuzuki's wishes that he would not go against, and Tatsumi and Watari certainly would say nothing. They believed what was right was to allow a person to do as they wished, even if that meant their own death or coming undone. Hisoka disagreed.
Maybe it was selfish of him. No one had said they thought he was selfish for what he had done, and he sensed no feeling from anyone that would have labeled him as such. But he had to wonder whether or not he had been acting selfishly. The death of the girl Tsuzuki had sworn to protect, the needless deaths of so many others; he had wanted to escape the pain of immortal life and die. He had wanted Touda to destroy him. But Hisoka had stopped him, on perhaps had stopped him on a selfish whim. At that moment he had thought of nothing but Tsuzuki's safety and what life would be like if there was no Tsuzuki. What his mind had come up with was almost too much to bear. He /had/ to stop him.
And so he did, and because of Tatsumi rescuing them, respecting Hisoka's wish above Tsuzuki's, they were still alive today. Tsuzuki did not think he had been acting selfishly. In fact, he was the same cheerful, bubbly person he had always been, and had no regrets for not having been consumed by Touda's flames. Yet Hisoka continued to wonder if what he had done had been right. He wondered if, even though Tsuzuki was happy now, he would have been happier if he were dead.
Dead was an interesting term to use, considering all shinigami were already dead, Hisoka realized. He supposed it still meant the same to them as it did to any normal person. Dead was in fact dead to them. A shinigami's life was immortal. They were essentially given a second chance at life and able to walk amongst the living, but unable to walk amongst the other dead in Meifu outside of JuOhCho. If Tsuzuki had been consumed by Touda's flames, he would have died and gone to Meifu, and Hisoka would have never seen him again unless he too were to die as a shinigami.
"Thinking too much will give you wrinkles."
Hisoka turned. Tsuzuki stood beneath the shade of a sakura tree, dressed in a robe beneath his dark trench coat that was tossed casually around his shoulders. He was smiling, that usual crooked smile of his that constantly graced his attractive features. Hisoka did not think he knew anyone that smiled nearly as much as Tsuzuki did.
"Baka," he said softly, his words coming out on a sigh. "That's just an old wives tale."
Tsuzuki laughed softly. "Well, maybe," he agreed.
He slipped out from beneath the shelter of the sakura tree to come stand beside Hisoka's side, overlooking the lake that stretched out beside the replicated Diet Building. In Chijou, there was no lake near the Diet Building, much less all of these sakura trees. That was another of the subtle differences between Meifu and Chijou.
"I thought you might be hungry," Tsuzuki said as he approached, and Hisoka resisted the urge to wince. What Tsuzuki thought was suitable food made him retch. He did not have nearly as large of a sweet tooth as his partner did, and if it was something that Tsuzuki had made himself, that was almost worse than death.
Surprisingly, what Tsuzuki offered him was neither sweets, nor something he had attempted to make on his own. It was just a simple sandwich, one that Wakaba had most likely put together, since the men around the agency were always complaining about stomachaches and never getting any food. She made the sandwiches to shut them up.
Taking it from Tsuzuki, Hisoka murmured quietly, "Thanks."
Tsuzuki shrugged and smiled at him. He always had a smile ready for Hisoka.
Hisoka settled down on the grass to nibble at the sandwich. It was actually quite good, and as he took a few more generous bites, he realized how hungry he actually was. He couldn't exactly recall the last time he had eaten anything. Most of his time was spent in the infirmary with Tsuzuki, and whenever food was brought there, it was specially catered to Tsuzuki's tastes. He had only come outside because Konoe and Tatsumi had usurped the room Tsuzuki was staying in him to discuss how much longer he would be out of field duty, and then lost track of the time. Tsuzuki must have come out to look for him.
"You shouldn't be wandering around," he reprimanded, his tone not sharp, much less very forceful. "Tatsumi-san and Kachou want you to rest."
"I'm tired of sitting around in bed," Tsuzuki complained. "It's so bor~ing."
He flopped down on the grass beside Hisoka. The younger shinigami spared a glance at him. It /had/ been two weeks, after all. Tsuzuki was no longer as condemned to bed as he had been previously, and from the looks of things, his wounds had all disappeared. Konoe and Tatsumi simply wanted to be absolutely sure that he was at the peak of health before they allowed him to leave the infirmary and go home, however. And even then, Hisoka doubted he would be allowed on field duty.
"Why aren't you working, Hisoka?" Tsuzuki asked curiously.
Hisoka swallowed the last of his sandwich before responding, as he did possess more manners than Tsuzuki did when it came to gobbling down cake. "I don't have a partner," he answered pointedly.
"They could have assigned you to someone else for awhile."
"Terakuma and Wakaba are taking care of our block, so I guess it wasn't necessary to make me work with someone else while you're out of commission."
"Guess so . . ."
Hisoka knew that Tsuzuki realized the reason that he was not working was because Konoe and Tatsumi thought that his being in Tsuzuki would help him in recovery, more mentally than it would physically. Hisoka did not know whether or not it was working. On the outside, Tsuzuki was the same as always, always smiling and still with his usual bright and cheerful nature, but on the inside Hisoka had no idea. He had built up walls around himself to prevent Hisoka from knowing his feelings and suffering from them as he did, which Hisoka was honestly grateful for. But not right now, when he could not tell whether or not Tsuzuki was hurting or anything.
"Feeling better?" Tsuzuki asked, looking at him with a sudden bright smile. It took Hisoka a moment to realize to what he was referring to.
"Oh, yeah," he answered. "Thanks. I really was hungry."
Tsuzuki continued to smile at him for a moment, until Hisoka began to wonder if there was something on his face, but eventually Tsuzuki gave a shrug and looked away. Locking his hands behind his head, he fell back against the grass, stretching out comfortably. His eyes slid closed.
"It's really nice out here," he said thoughtfully.
"It always is," Hisoka replied. Like everywhere in Meifu (specifically, in Joukai), this place was never plagued with weather storms like Chijou was. It did, however, snow periodically, but even then it was never cold and the sakura blossoms never died.
"I think I'll take a nap here," Tsuzuki announced, and he gave a huge yawn to reaffirm the statement.
"Tatsumi-san would come out and scold us both," Hisoka replied.
"Aa, yeah," Tsuzuki laughed. "He'd tell me I'd get a cold."
Tatsumi always said things like that, but it was because he cared for Tsuzuki and worried about him. Hisoka knew that, and he thought that Tsuzuki realized as well. Tatsumi was not exactly very subtle in showing how he much he favored Tsuzuki.
Hisoka almost felt threatened. It was a strange feeling. He knew somewhere in his mind that it was a blind threat, that Tatsumi would take from him what he had with Tsuzuki (whatever that was, he mentally reminded himself), but it was a thought in his mind all the same. Childish jealousies and fears, he supposed.
"Come on," Hisoka said, standing up and dusting off the sakura petals that had fallen to dot along his pants and shoulders. He offered a hand to Tsuzuki to help him up. Tsuzuki took it gratefully and fell into step beside him as they wandered toward the Diet Building.
"Thanks for staying with me."
Hisoka could feel his cheeks tingeing slightly red as Tsuzuki said those words. He said them so honestly and openly, his tone completely serious and expressing how much it had meant to him with ease. Hisoka felt embarrassed for some reason.
"Idiot," he muttered, "it's nothing."
Tsuzuki just smiled at him, and Hisoka could feel the blush spreading across his face.
Tatsumi had his nose buried in the company budget when they entered the building, making it possible for them to sneak past without the man feeling the need to scold them for being outside when Tsuzuki should have been resting. Watari was occupied in his lab as well, and he was currently too involved in whatever concoction he was creating to take notice of them, otherwise he would have been very cheerfully pointing out the blush on Hisoka's cheeks.
Tsuzuki slung his jacket over the back of a chair and climbed back into bed where he belonged obediently enough. Hisoka had only needed to remind him two times before he had given in. He did not, however, rest as he should have been doing, instead choosing to root around beneath the bed before he came up with a white package. With a more than smug smirk, he settled the box on his lap and opened it to reveal one of the many cakes Wakaba had smuggled in for him. Hisoka sighed.
"Someday your teeth will fall out," he said, settling into the chair where Tsuzuki's jacket lay.
Tsuzuki was far too involved with shoveling it into his mouth before Tatsumi or Watari caught him to notice. Hisoka rolled his eyes heavenward.
"You're going to choke."
Fortunately, Tsuzuki did not choke on his cake, nor was he discovered before he had finished it. The box was tossed aside into a trash can, and with a contented sigh, he settled back against the comfortable feather pillows.
"I think tomorrow they'll let me go," he said. "And in another week I'll be working again." He glanced at Hisoka and smiled. "I'm actually kinda eager to get back to work."
"Tch. You'll be eager for all of five minutes before something else gets your attention."
"Naa, Hisoka, you're so mean . . ."
Hisoka of course didn't mean it; he was simply teasing Tsuzuki. He gave a mock exasperated sigh.
"Go to sleep, Tsuzuki."
"Yes sir. You'll stay for awhile?"
Hisoka nodded, not needing to reaffirm that with words. He almost always did stay, even if it was not necessary for him to. Tsuzuki slept well enough and never woke up needing anyone's assistance. Hisoka supposed he stayed simply because his presence being there helped Tsuzuki fall asleep to begin with.
Tsuzuki drew up the sheets around him and settled down to sleep. Hisoka flipped out the light and returned to the chair he had previously occupied, taking Tsuzuki's jacket from where it was slung over the back to tug it over and around him. Once Tsuzuki's breathing had become even as he drifted away, Hisoka closed his eyes as well, content to listen to him and nothing else.
Death made memories of life at best hazy images of a past long forgotten. Dreams made those images vivid, real, and true. Hisoka's dreams played out before him like a cinema screen. He was the audience member, watching his past as it played out before him. The moving screen was always in black and white in his dreams, and the image was always clouded over, making it difficult to see true landmarks or where he was. The only thing that stood out clearly were the faces of people in his dreams.
The dream was more vivid than ever this time. He was seated, actually seated, in the middle of a movie theatre and watching as one of his memories played out before him. He was only seven in the memory. His mother, a petite woman, golden of hair and pale of eyes was in the image. They were seated together, and what appeared at best to be a restaurant. His mother was speaking to him, but his attention seemed to be caught elsewhere, by something else.
"People shouldn't fight in public," his mother said suddenly, irritably, referring to a couple not far from them that were engaged in a very loud, very obvious battle. His mother took a sip of her tea. "I wonder what's got them so worked up."
"The man slept with another woman," the seven-year-old version of him said quietly. "The woman is upset with him because of that."
"How do you know what?" his mother asked, surprised. "Did you overhear them say that?"
"No. I just know."
His mother frowned. "Boys who lie go to bad places, Hisoka," she said reprimandingly.
"But I'm not lying! He really did, and she's really upset with him because of it."
"Of course. And I suppose you can tell me what that man's thinking."
His mother made a distant gesture with her hand. Hisoka looked to where she was pointing him toward, finding a man talking in hushed, angry tones to another man, much younger than he.
"He's really angry," he answered, "because the waiter stole from the machine . . ."
His mother paled slightly.
"You're scaring me."
"You're not happy either, are you, Mama? Why do you cry at night?"
"Did Dad do something?"
"Stop it, Hisoka! Stop it!"
He snapped awake. Tsuzuki was leaning across the bed, shaking him by the shoulders. His eyes were filled with concern. Hisoka wondered what was wrong, then realized rather numbly that he was whimpering. He had been dreaming again and talking in his sleep. Tsuzuki had woken him up.
"I-I . . . sorry," he murmured. "Bad dream . . ."
"Are you okay?" Tsuzuki asked. "You sounded like you were crying."
Hisoka shook himself, coming back to his senses. "Just a bad dream," he repeated, tone firmer this time. Tsuzuki flinched back, as though wounded.
". . . sorry, Tsuzuki. For worrying you."
Tsuzuki recovered and smiled brightly. "It's okay. Have bad dreams often?"
"Not really," Hisoka answered, and that was the truth. He had them occasionally enough, like any person, but not constantly. And they were never so bad that he woke up crying or genuinely upset, no different than he was now. He was simply shaken, having not been expecting being torn from the dream by Tsuzuki.
"Didn't mean to wake you," he said apologetically.
"Eh," Tsuzuki said, grinning. "No big deal. You should get into bed. Sleeping in a chair isn't good for your posture," he added pointedly, sounding very much like Tatsumi and earning a small smile from Hisoka.
The younger shinigami climbed obediently into the bed beside the one Tsuzuki occupied, keeping Tsuzuki's jacket in his grip and using it as a blanket rather than the actual sheets. He felt more comforted when it was Tsuzuki's jacket. It smelt like his older partner, and for some reason, that set him at ease and made him feel safe and secure.
"Okay now, Hisoka?" Tsuzuki asked. He was lying on his side, hand against his cheek and elbow propped up on the mattress.
"I'm okay," Hisoka answered.
Tsuzuki yawned. "Good. Good night, Hisoka."