Hello and welcome to my first YnM fic. This story takes place after the Kyoto arc in the anime but I have read most of the manga so the extra details should be at least vaguely canon. Uh...just for reference, Kumamoto is part of the Kyushu province, according to the net it has lovely nature parks etc.
This fic will mostly explore the relationship between Hisoka and Tsuzuki and I should probably put up a warning for violence, sex, swearing etc, just so everyone's aware of what they're getting into here.
Also also, I know this is late...but sometimes these things have got to be written, y'know?
Disclaimer: I own nothing...one day I might...but that may require a nuclear weapon sized pinch and a team of ninjas.
The Kumamoto File - 1
The red moon smothered the land casting sinister shadows over every visible surface as he stepped across the tatami mats and slipped on the geta lying near the doorway. He wasn't sure what compelled him to escape that night but he didn't fight it. He ambled across the grounds of the estate glancing up at the moon, purposefully keeping his eyes cast upwards so he wouldn't have to look at how the crimson colour warped the land. He breathed in deep and felt his chest tighten, like the very air itself held the sinister mood that came with that moon.
He only looked down when the sakura tree came into sight. It was a fleeting image in his peripheral vision but it stood out, was almost iconic in its sadistic imagery. It was a dark gnarled shape against that moon and the sakura blossoms burned bright, falling away in the wind like drops of blood from a stiffened human hand. As he stared at it, his eyes were drawn down by movement under the branches, the silhouette of a man holding onto a woman.
For a moment he thought that they were beneath the tree as lovers, kissing beneath the red moon but as he watched, the man's arm drew upwards holding onto something that glinted sharply in the red light of the moon.
He gasped before he could help it and felt the scream rise in his throat. It stopped as the blade pierced the slackened form of the woman and blood washed across the already crimson night staining it darker than he had ever dared to imagine. His heart pounded in his chest, his ears rang as he watched the man hunch over her. He wanted to run but was rooted to the spot, caught in the childhood fear that if he dared move then the monster would see him.
The man turned, eyes burning cold and silver through the blood and locked onto him.
Hisoka sat bolt upright and stared blindly at the ceiling as the remnants of the dream churned through him. He was shaking and sweating, the sound of heavy breathing covering every other sound in his tiny apartment. For a few moments he simply sat, letting himself calm down as he finally realised where he was, that the moon of that night was a life time away and he was safe, dead and safe in another life.
He took a deep breath and glanced at the digital clock beside him which flashed neon green in the dark to tell him it was just after 1 in the morning, he'd only been asleep for an hour.
'I should go back to sleep...' He thought to himself, glaring at his pillow like it might try to bite him if he laid his head down for another moment. He shook his head.
'If Muraki's feeling that way tonight then I won't get any sleep.'
Carefully, he swung his legs out of the little bed into some slippers, thankful somehow that he wasn't on call with Tsuzuki who would make far too much fuss of the same nightmare. Thinking of his partner produced a whole different sort of stress, pushing all thoughts of Muraki to the back of his mind.
Since Kyoto, the pair had been on desk duty for a lengthy recovery period, not because of their fleeting health but because the Chief and the count were worried about the fragile state of Tsuzuki's psyche which had been in jeopardy more than once. Tsuzuki hadn't taken being stuck on desk duty very well and his slacker attitude had been worse than usual. In the last few days, he'd taken to sleeping on the desks in the afternoon or sneaking out to buy sweet cakes down in the streets of Fukuoka.
Of course, neither of them had mentioned what Hisoka had said in the fire and Hisoka had no idea what it meant for his partner, how he'd taken it. He'd been though it all again and again in his mind, wondering what Tsuzuki thought of his ambiguous statement. There was an infinite number of ways to take a statement like that and the problem was, he wasn't even sure what he had meant himself.
Was he in love with Tsuzuki? The guy was clueless, an idiot and always butting into things that didn't concern him...but he had been so kind to Hisoka, had shown him a level of support that just hadn't been there before, it was only natural that Hisoka would latch onto it in some form or another.
He shook his head, it was all too confusing, he needed to clear his mind. Standing, he strode purposefully towards the little closet in his apartment and pulled out a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He'd go down to the dojo and practice for a few hours, martial arts especially required one to clear the mind and start afresh.
The day dawned bright and clear, as did all days in the netherworld. The sakura blossoms dropped their delicate petals across the path to the bureau as Tsuzuki ambled in, a half hour late with a doughnut in his mouth. He waved half heartedly at a lounging Terazuma and cheerful Wakaba before knocking on the door to the meeting room.
The door flew open and hit Tsuzuki squarely in the face as he tried to back away. The doughnut he had been carrying in his mouth exploded, splattering the window of the office door with a jam smear. Chief Konoe peered around the door, up towards the now thoroughly jammy face of Tsuzuki.
"You're late!" he yelled, grabbing the side of Tsuzuki's coat and dragging him into the little room.
"Huh? Hey, I didn't know there was going to be a meeting!" Tsuzuki whined, waving at everyone assembled inside.
"You should have been on time anyway," the chief snapped at him, licking his finger where he'd accidentally wiped some jam off of Tsuzuki's coat.
"Hm, I know you like dessert Tsuzuki," Watari said, a broad grin breaking across his face, "but for you to be wearing it now..."
"Oh come on Watari, Chief Konoe opened the door in my face, I'm not so weird!" Tsuzuki threw at him, flustered. He turned to look at the ruined remains on his coat.
"I was really looking forward to that," he said tearfully, taking his designated seat next to Hisoka.
"So what's going on chief?" Hisoka asked, opening one green eye to look at the older man. Tsuzuki chanced a side glance at his partner, searching for the disapproving expression that always followed one of his dessert based escapades but the youth was strangely stoic as he sat before the party. Tsuzuki tried not to visibly turn and gawp at the kid but he started doing a mental assessment anyway, pausing on the dark rings shadowing his partner's bright eyes.
"I'm fine idiot," Hisoka snapped, making Tsuzuki start in surprise. Despite how long they'd worked together, Hisoka's telepathy still caught him off guard occasionally. His eyes travelled hesitantly round to face the cold eyes of his partner. He put a hand sheepishly behind his back and winced when he felt the squelch of doughnut.
Hisoka raised an eyebrow.
Chief Konoe cleared his throat to bring attention back to him. On the other side of the table, Tatsumi, secretary for the Summons Division of Enmacho, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose to show that he meant business.
"We've had word of a strange case situated in the Kumamoto area," Chief Konoe began, bringing out a brown file and laying it on the table. "There have been several murders around that area which looks to be the work of your average serial killer but for the case of one man."
Chief Konoe opened the file and Hisoka's eyes widened as he stared at the picture. For a moment he thought that he was staring at a photograph of his partner but the eye colour was wrong and jaw was just a little too square. Other than that, the resemblance was uncanny. Hisoka frowned as he tried to remember if Tsuzuki had ever mentioned relatives.
"Wow, he looks like me," Tsuzuki said, reaching over the table and pulling the file across to have a closer look.
"Yes," Chief Konoe cleared his throat again, "I must inform you that we did run a background check on this one before assigning the case. As this falls under your area, you have the right to take the case first but I wanted to make sure that your first field job back was something without personal ties."
"So what's so different about this case?" Hisoka asked, purposefully sliding the file back towards Chief Konoe, uncomfortable with the man's appearance.
"According to the records, this man was due to die a couple of months ago. His name appeared on the Kiseki but when he didn't turn up in Meifu, an investigation began into the whereabouts of his soul, revealing that it was still on Earth and still bound to the man's body. He was still alive."
Before he could stop himself, Hisoka's eyes swung round to his partner's face which was strangely unreadable. Carefully, he probed the man's feelings, experiencing the slight discomfort that Tsuzuki felt having been shown a picture so like himself. There were no strong emotions suggesting that he had any particular ties to the man in this case.
"This man is currently in the Kumamoto general hospital. I want you two to investigate the reason for his continued existence," Chief Konoe concluded.
Tsuzuki stood up from the little table and gave a solemn salute.
Hisoka sighed, resting his chin on his hands.
"You'd better get home to shower, there's no way I'm sharing any kind of transport with you covered in doughnut remains," he told the older guardian.
Tsuzuki grinned at his back.
"But it makes this body of mine all the more sweet."
He enjoyed the cold flash of green as his partner whipped round growling and easily dodged the kid's swipe.
"You idiot, I'll give you something sweet," Hisoka yelled, grabbing Tsuzuki's collar and hauling him out the door. Even the cries of 'Tatsumi, save me,' weren't answered as he was yanked through the office and out into the bright light of the netherworld.
It was raining when the pair appeared in Kumamoto, the sky was an ominous swirling grey and the rain slapped at their backs as they began trudging in the direction of the hotel Tatsumi had booked for them. Tsuzuki was in charge of the map which gave Hisoka a sense of dread. His partner had never shown much aptitude for direction, the paper white tracking birds aside, and Hisoka was worried that they were going to end up in a back alley somewhere despite the fact that this was Tsuzuki's province. As they walked through the cold and wet, Hisoka could feel the first onset of fatigue, a lingering reminder that he'd managed to get little sleep the night before. His feet felt like lead on the concrete, his whole body ached and as they passed through a crowded high street, he could feel the emotions of the people around him like needle pricks.
Tsuzuki frowned at the map, leading them down a winding stairway and through a narrow gap between some houses. If his assumption was correct then the next alleyway would bring them straight out at the hotel entrance. He turned back to tell Hisoka that they'd be there in a minute, a cheerful grin in place despite the rain but when he glanced back, his smile slackened as he caught sight of his partner leaning up against the wall looking disheartened.
Tsuzuki opened his mouth to say something to Hisoka but something held him back. Ever since Kyoto, Tsuzuki had hoped that the boy would be willing to be more open considering what he'd admitted to bring Tsuzuki out of the dark, but if anything, the kid was more closed off than ever. Tsuzuki wasn't sure how to read the signs, did it mean that Hisoka wanted him to back off and not take what was said in Kyoto the way it sounded? Or was it simply that he was scared of something so intimate when his life had been so devoid of affection? The whole thing had Tsuzuki going round in circles, he wasn't even sure how he felt about his blonde partner.
Sensing Tsuzuki watching him, Hisoka straightened, hair plastered to his face, and scowled. He marched forward, trainers spraying puddle water over the residential gardens as he walked, and snatched the map from Tsuzuki who protested feebly and put his hands up when Hisoka shot him another withering death glare.
"We're lost aren't we," he said simply, turning the map until it was facing the right way up.
Tsuzuki could feel the heat rise in his cheeks as he realised he'd been going in completely the wrong direction.
"Uh..." he said, trying to think of an excuse so he wouldn't look like a complete idiot.
"Tsuzuki," the young shinigami said, rolling up the map in a threatening way. Tsuzuki took an automatic step backwards.
'Such a dark aura...you're in for it Tsuzuki,' Suzaku helpfully commented in the recesses of his mind.
Hisoka was advancing now, rolled up map raised like a weapon.
"How can you not know where you are in your own province?" Hisoka asked him, real menace in his voice.
"I...uh...don't really come to Kumamoto often..." Tsuzuki confessed, cringing away from the map. Just as Hisoka was raising the map, aiming a well placed slap to the side of Tsuzuki's head, Tsuzuki spotted a light through the rain and gawped. Distracted, Hisoka turned and stared too.
Suddenly, Tsuzuki was smiling and all the anger inside Hisoka evaporated.
"How about we re-group in the cafe?" Tsuzuki asked, turning the brilliance of his smile on the cold eyes of his partner. "I'll buy you a hot drink!"
Tsuzuki watched the burning face of Hisoka for a moment, afraid that this revelation would just fuel the fire of anger but Hisoka's eyebrow had started to twitch. A sure sign that he was about to give in.
He lowered the map and pouted at Tsuzuki.
"Alright, but you're going to have to be the one to talk to Tatsumi about over-expenditure..." Hisoka told him, leading the way through the alley up towards the cafe.
As soon as they'd set foot in the doorway, Tsuzuki was pressing his nose up to the display cabinet, ogling the treats they had in store. Hisoka was already regretting his moment of weakness in letting them seek shelter from the rain here. The place was packed with people and the low buzz of emotions coursing through his system was picking up in intensity, disorientating him.
"Shall I get a table?" Tsuzuki asked from somewhere far away.
"Uh..." Hisoka managed, unable to concentrate on what his partner was saying.
Tsuzuki's image wavered in front of him. He watched as his partner's easy expression morphed into a look of concern but was unable to figure out what to do to reassure Tsuzuki.
There was a moment when Tsuzuki thought that Hisoka might give in and pass out. The youth was standing in the doorway absolutely petrified by the thoughts of the people in the cafe. On a reflex, he reached out and grabbed Hisoka's thin hand.
'Just focus on me,' he instructed the youth, knowing that Hisoka would read his thoughts.
Hisoka glanced up at his partner and, with a gargantuan effort was able to narrow his empathy, relieved when the feelings of the people around him dissolved into the calm pulse of Tsuzuki. He appreciated the pattern of his partner, something that had become so familiar now, how Tsuzuki's emotions changed was completely unique to him and it helped Hisoka to be able focus.
With Hisoka's hand tucked into his, he led them to a table away from the crowd in the doorway and sat, making sure Hisoka had the chair next to the wall.
"Are you okay?"
Hisoka nodded, a frustrated expression on his face now that he was away from the crowd.
"Sorry to trouble you..." he said, all formality in place.
Tsuzuki blinked at his partner and recognised that this formality was an erection of those same protective barriers he had hoped would gradually fall away. He knew that Hisoka hated to show weakness of any sort, especially when it came to matters concerning his empathy but something was off. It was unusual for Hisoka to be so easily overwhelmed. Once again, Tsuzuki found his eyes being drawn to the dark circles beneath his partner's eyes that seemed to have become more prominent since their meeting that morning.
"I'll get you some green tea," Tsuzuki told him, reluctant to voice his concerns, knowing how Hisoka would take it.
Hisoka glanced at his partner and tried to ignore the headache that was settling in behind his eyes. He could feel the tumult of concern and suspicion moving through Tsuzuki's system though faintly now as Tsuzuki had put up a shield in response to Hisoka's sensitivity.
"Thank you Tsuzuki," he said as his partner pushed off from the little cafe table and made his way across the crowded counter.
As soon as he was sure Tsuzuki wouldn't be able to see, he put his fingers up to his temples and gently massaged the throb that was starting to pulse through him. It made him feel slightly nauseous and he wondered vaguely if he'd had the foresight to pack some painkillers in his bag. The emotions of the people around him had been lulled into a distant rolling wave by Tsuzuki's focus and for that he was grateful but still, he had to curse himself for his weakness. Even in death he was unable to look after himself and if he couldn't even manage that, how was he supposed to watch out for Tsuzuki, provide the support the older shinigami clearly needed?
He reached down for his satchel, intent on rooting through its contents for some painkillers when something brushed across his arm. For a moment, a darkness so profound that it made Hisoka recoil seeped into his system and tainted his soul. His eyes shot upwards into the face of the offender and silver eyes met green.
"No..." Hisoka whispered.
Muraki smiled at the young boy through the crowd of people pressing in on all sides and Hisoka could do nothing but stare, at the sinister curl of his lips, at the lingering burns on his face, at the mechanical eye...
Instinctually, he remained motionless, his only thought to somehow signal to Tsuzuki. He didn't want to look away, even for a moment lest this man advance towards him again but if he had any hope of getting Tsuzuki's attention, he knew he had to. His eyes flicked away, settling on the visual of Tsuzuki walking back towards the table with a loaded trey, a disarming smile on his face, then back towards the place he'd seen Muraki but there was no one there.
Hisoka jerked up out of his seat, eyes racing over the cafe, searching the face and the emotions of every individual he came across but there was nothing, no sinister intent, no silver eyes.
"What's the matter Hisoka?" Tsuzuki asked, a serious tone to his voice. Hisoka reluctantly dragged his eyes back to his partner and opened his mouth to say something.
But something stopped him.
In his mind's eye, he could see the black flames of Touda's fire and the slackened form of Tsuzuki in Muraki's lab. When he called out, Tsuzuki turned but his eyes were dead, devoid of all hope.
Muraki had caused that...
Hisoka closed his mouth again and thought.
"Someone just brushed past my arm," Hisoka told Tsuzuki, sitting back down, telling himself to relax, "the emotions were just...a bit too strong."
Tsuzuki searched his young partners eyes, surprised at how disturbed Hisoka was. If he was having such issues, perhaps it was too soon to be doing cases, perhaps Hisoka hadn't recovered from the Kyoto incident as readily as he was making out. He sat down opposite Hisoka and pushed the green tea towards him.
"Maybe you should stay at the hotel when we get there," Tsuzuki said carefully, spooning sugar liberally into his coffee.
As predicted, Hisoka shook his head.
"I want to come with you," he insisted, taking a sip of his tea.
Tsuzuki shrugged nonchalantly and started to cut into a chocolate éclair. Hisoka's workaholic attitude was all well and good but Tsuzuki made a mental note, if Hisoka had any more trouble with his empathy on this trip, he'd talk to Watari and if Watari suggested it, he'd have Tatsumi pull the kid off of the case.
The halls of the hospital were white wash. The smell of the place was a mixture of disinfectant and despair, it seeped into Hisoka's clothes and hair making him grimace. Last time he had been in a real hospital, he had been a patient under Dr Muraki, a test subject for a torturous art so elaborate that it had followed him beyond the grave.
Somehow he knew as they passed through a set of double doors leading to the Akiyama ward that the curse marks left on his body by his killer were burning brightly now. He no longer needed to check them to know how Muraki was feeling.
The man they were searching for had a bed next to the window and was sitting up reading a book when the two shinigami approached. Tsuzuki had tried to prepare himself to be professional about the resemblance between himself and this man but it was almost like looking into a mirror.
"Uh..." he faltered, putting a hand behind his back apologetically as the man looked up.
'This is impossible, I feel like I'm talking to myself.'
"Excuse us Mr Takahata," Hisoka said, stepping up and bowing slightly, "my name is Kurosaki and this is my partner Tsuzuki. We came to ask you some questions about your attacker if you feel you can answer them."
The man stared at them both and Hisoka felt himself relax slightly as he saw the man's eyes were a dark blue.
"Oh, are you with the police?" Takahata asked, putting his book down on the little bedside table.
"Something like that, yes," Tsuzuki said, falling into the natural rhythm of his job. "We are from an investigation department that specialises in this sort of thing. We know the particulars of this case and we are still trying to catch the culprit. If you have any information to give us, it would aid us substantially."
Hisoka had to give credit where credit was due, Tsuzuki had managed to dance around the face that they were from Enmacho and had kept his professional air throughout. He found himself wondering about Tsuzuki's ability to lie so naturally when he was such an earnest person.
"Oh...uh..." Takahata shifted uncomfortably in the hospital bed, his eyes cast downwards. Tsuzuki's air changed immediately.
"Please, take your time, I know this has been a traumatic experience for you," Tsuzuki said in a soft voice. Takahata's eyes slowly travelled up to meet Tsuzuki's and he gave the shinigami a hesitant smile. He took a deep breath.
"I'll...I'll try my best but please...please understand that it is...difficult..."
Tsuzuki nodded, making sure his expression was as friendly as possible. Hisoka had to envy his partners free bedside manner.
"Anything you can tell us at all will be a great help but please don't feel you have to push yourself."
Takahata took another deep breath and visibly relaxed. Hisoka recognised it as a mental preparation step before he revisited the incident.
"I was walking home from work..." Takahata began, "it was late but the moon was out and huge so I thought it would be quicker to cut my way through the park..."
Tsuzuki could almost picture it, a man alone in the dark walking over the ornamental bridge just wanting to get home. A shape in the dark with deadly intent following him by the wayside, unseen until it was too late.
"He cornered me by the skate park, he was furious, mad. He kept saying that I'd killed him and that he'd come for revenge..."
Before he could stop himself, Hisoka's eyes darted to Tsuzuki's face. His mind was racing.
"He came for me...s-stabbed me...in the side...and when I collapsed, he..."
Takahata's eyes were filling with tears now. Hisoka's own green eyes were drawn to the distraught man in the hospital bed as his empathy set to work. He could feel the panic, the desolation and the resigned feeling that he knew so well. No one was coming, no one would ever come.
Discreetly, he sank back until he was leaning against the wall, determined not to let the trauma of the man overwhelm him.
"He told me that he still desired me...that he wanted me more than anything...more now that I'd killed him. I...kept trying to explain...even though the wound was...agony."
Hisoka clutched his side, channelling the man's memory. He could almost feel the hole as though it were his own, the pain was unbearable.
"I thought he'd killed me...but I woke up here. The doctor told me it was some sort of miracle that I didn't die. They want to write a news story about it," Takahata finished, glancing over at Tsuzuki.
"What did the attacker look like?" Tsuzuki asked, leaning forward on his chair.
Takahata's eyes clouded for a moment.
"Hard to say in the darkness of the park but I remember his eyes, they shone through the moonlight, one of them was silver and the other was a lighter colour. He had odd eyes...the lighter one might have been false...what's the matter?"
Tsuzuki had drawn back in his chair, his hand pressed to his mouth. His head whipped around to face Hisoka and his eyes widened when he saw his young partner hunched up against the wall, clutching his side.
They had to get out.
He turned back to Takahata, fighting the panic that was starting to churn in his stomach.
"Excuse me Takahata," Tsuzuki lowered his head, "the description you gave does actually sound familiar, therefore we might have a lead. Thank you for your information and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions."
Tsuzuki stood, purposefully keeping his movements slow and controlled. He stepped over to Hisoka and lightly took the boy's arm.
Hisoka opened his eyes and glanced up into the face of Tsuzuki, Tsuzuki didn't return the look and instead continued to address Takahata.
"If we have any information, we will contact you. In the meantime, rest well and rest assured that we will protect you."
He bowed low, pulling Hisoka down into a bow as well.
"Oh...uh...thank you," Takahata replied, bemused by the abrupt departure that seemed to be taking place.
As they left, the older of the two detectives had a smile on his face and for some reason Takahata found it reassuring. He sat back against his pillows, calmed by the detective's words that he would be protected. Although he had been asked to relive the incident, somehow, he didn't feel as distraught as he had. He picked up his book, feeling that a distraction from the whole ordeal was in order.
A few minutes later, a nurse walked in to check his wounds and as he lifted up the bandages, she noted with some concern that the angry red tattoos carved into the skin around the wound were still there, blazing brightly as ever.
Reviews are good for my ever fleeting will.