The once-attractive lounge was a shambles of broken furniture, blood, and bandages. Muraki had gracefully donated from his personal stock, and everyone except the housekeeper was wearing haute couture in white gauze to some degree. The only decidedly happy people in the room seemed to be Tsuzuki and Muraki, except when they looked at each other. At those moments, their eyes would meet, and then Tsuzuki would blush and look away, and Muraki's smile would develop a decided edge.

Watari finally broke the silence, startling Hisoka into dropping the end of the bandage which he was knotting around the brooding Tatsumi's wrist. "I think it's time to say our goodbyes."

Muraki nodded. "It's been very pleasant to see you all." He didn't bother to let his voice show open irony; the choice of words said it all. "I hope to meet you again soon. Well -- some of you, at least." He smiled towards Tsuzuki, who crossed his legs nervously.

Hisoka twitched. "But... but..."

The doctor didn't even seem to notice his interjection. He poured himself another cup of coffee from the small service on the table next to him, and cupped it in both hands. His new grey yukata hid most of the cuts and gashes across his body, but his movements were perceptibly rougher than his usual smooth grace. "Please do show yourselves out."

Tsuzuki jerked to his feet. He didn't want to look at Muraki, and he wasn't sure how he was going to face his dreams. He reached for Tatsumi's sleeve, preparing to pull him to the door. And out. Out was the important thing.

Tatsumi resisted the tug, pausing to regard Muraki flatly. "Aren't you going to say anything?"

Muraki curved his lips in what was not a smile. "Why should I need to say anything at all?"

"This changes nothing, you know." The secretary's voice was mild and cold. "You're still a multiple murderer."

Muraki shrugged. The early evening light came slanting in through the broken window, haloing him in dull gold. "I have no delusions."

Tatsumi turned harshly, making for the door, and now he was dragging Tsuzuki along behind him. Hisoka and Watari had already reached the door, and were forced to hurry through to make way for the other two men.

"Secretary, do you read Marlowe?" Muraki called after them. "Think'st thou that I who saw the face of God..."

Tatsumi slammed the front door behind the group, and his face made the others fall silent: not because they did not wish to provoke his anger, but because his eyes held a pain that turned in on itself like a maimed animal.

Finally, Tsuzuki said, "Come on. We need to go, Tatsumi-san."

"Yes. Of course." Tatsumi's voice was normal again, and the normality was so obvious a falsehood that it made Hisoka wince.

"Stop it!" Tsuzuki stepped up close to the other man, and grabbed him by the lapels. The disparity in their height might, under other circumstances, have made the pose look amusing, but there was a passion in Tsuzuki's gesture which dwarfed the situation. "You told me it wasn't my fault. You always used to tell me that. You'd try to help me by reaching out to me. You said before that it wasn't my sin what the demon had done, that you didn't believe I was corrupt. Well, I don't believe you are. But don't look me in the eyes and expect me to believe what you say to me in the future if you aren't prepared to believe it about yourself." He released the taller man. "That's . . ." His voice shook, and he turned away. "That's all. That's all."

The rays of the setting sun moved across the garden path, and slowly, slowly, Tatsumi reached out his hand to Tsuzuki's shoulder. "Baka." He took a breath. The evening air was full of the scent of flowers, even here, on the threshold of death. "Don't cry. There's too much to do."

The four men were silhouetted by the setting sun for a moment, and then vanished in a turn of air.


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