Hisoka stood in front of Tsuzuki's house, knowing that there was no one inside.
The book he held carelessly in his hand felt heavy, and Hisoka noticed with a frown that the front door had been left unlocked.
So he walked in, and didn't lock it either. It meant Tsuzuki was coming back, and knowing him, he probably hadn't taken his keys with him. Jade eyes closed for a moment before Hisoka breathed in deeply, taking in a warm and slightly airy smell, like powdered sugar. It wafted through the house, marking the home as Tsuzuki's. But if before there had been a constant feeling of cheerfulness that Hisoka picked up on from the front gate, now there was only a feeling of emptiness.
The living room was untidy, so much more than last time Hisoka came, which had been so much more than the time before that. Tsuzuki wasn't known for his cleanliness as it was, but his home had always had a cozy feeling to it amidst the clutter. Hisoka had learned to appreciate the mess as a way to make people feel comfortable and unassuming. This mess, though, only made the house feel distraught and disconnected.
Magazines, napkins, shoes that weren't taken off at the front, burrowed among jackets and papers that were all strewn confusedly throughout the room, making the young shinigami walk apprehensively. The leather-bound book was dropped onto the sofa after he'd brushed away a couple wine glasses, which still held a sloshing amount of liquid in the bottom, along with a crumpled newspaper. He felt thirsty; the walk from his own home had drained him more than usual, maybe in dreaded anticipation to this moment.
But Hisoka noted with a sinking feeling that only added to the silence and quiet despair that screamed at him from the walls and then burrowed in the pit of his stomach, that the cake he'd baked Tsuzuki a week ago was still sitting there, half eaten, the way he last saw it before leaving Tsuzuki that night to supposedly eat the rest of his desert. Similarly nibbled tarts and pastries lay scattered around, and Hisoka bit his lip, wrenching his eyes from them before reaching out to serve himself some water.
The cold liquid startled him, but didn't do much to ease the burning of his throat, so he dumped the rest of it in the sink, leaving the glass among forgotten plates and utensils.
There was no telling when Tsuzuki would be back, so he settled on the couch, legs tucked neatly underneath him, his shoulders rolling forward, as if trying to make himself as compact as possible and take up the littlest space he could. The book failed to catch his attention, despite the fact that a week ago he'd been itching to read it. He only knew that he was nervous, it was obvious by the clamminess of his hands, and the way his gaze kept flickering back and forth from the page to the front door, in anxious expectation.
He'd reread the same sentence more times than he could count—seventeen being the last count—and before he knew it, his eyelids were feeling immeasurably heavy, and the book fell from his limp grasp onto the floor. The dull thud startled him slightly out of the doze he'd unwillingly begun to slip into and he shook his head to clear it before making a sweeping gaze around the room.
Tsuzuki's not home yet, he thought despondently, and wrapped his arms around himself, feeling cold. Feeling lonely.
But that wasn't the reason he'd come to visit Tsuzuki.
The brilliant shine that had once been so clear in Tsuzuki's eyes, making them seem like gleaming amethysts and liquid violet all at once, had dulled into an unpolished apathy, like dust had settled over his eyes.
Hisoka had felt confusion and guilt emanating from Tsuzuki when his shields had accidentally fallen. And pain. Immeasurable pain that made his eyes fill with tears when he recalled the pain at night, making his stomach clench. During the day, he had to be strong, and he had to pretend that he didn't feel the despair and fatigue that made his partner's movements slow and his smiles strained. But now the guilt had faded into a sort of indifference, and the confusion had disappeared into apathetic despair and fatigue. The pain was still present, but dulled. Unemotional, covered up, like all his emotions had been thrown underneath a dense veil. Blurry.
At first, Tsuzuki had pretended otherwise, and hid everything behind overly cheerful smiles and false energy that only left him more drained at the end of the day. But soon enough, he began to avoid people, and Hisoka, stumbling after him in frustration, had come across him without his mask. And that was when Tsuzuki had asked him to pretend. And Hisoka had somehow understood, that this was something that he couldn't talk about, not yet, and Hisoka wasn't about to force him.
So he did. Pretend.
But Hisoka couldn't, not anymore. He was sick of looking at Tsuzuki pleadingly, begging him with his eyes to tell him what was wrong, only to have Tsuzuki shake his head lightly and turn back to staring at the sakura blossoms with those lifeless eyes of his.
Once and for all, he was going to confront Tsuzuki.
Hisoka knew he was worried, he'd stopped denying it a long time ago. What he was still struggling to accept was how much he missed the old Tsuzuki, the one who flirted and teased, and irritated him with stupid stories and begged him to accompany him to an emotion-crowded restaurant or café, and somehow, despite all the protests and the fact that Hisoka didn't want to go, still convinced him. The one who insisted that Hisoka attend the office parties, and go on walks in the rain, or smell the rose that he'd pruned that morning. The one who woke up in the mornings, poked Hisoka in the back and asked in a sweet voice if he'd make pancakes for breakfast. The one who sat innocently next to Hisoka on the couch and, before the other could do anything about it, had his head in his lap and reached up to tug Hisoka's bangs gently, smiling at him happily, just glowing with affection and contentment. And Hisoka would sigh and sulk, not having any other option than to just leave him there, while one of his pale hands unconsciously reached out to stroke the dark hair spilling on his lap.
Tsuzuki simply wasn't the same anymore, and Hisoka was afraid that it was Kyoto repeating itself… that Tsuzuki was tired again, and that this time, Hisoka wouldn't be able to stop him. He repressed the shudder that rolled down his back, his arms tightening around himself.
Tsuzuki was finally home, but Hisoka had been too deep in his thoughts to hear the click of the door, or the soft footsteps, or the quiet murmur of his name that followed. Tsuzuki was just suddenly there, kneeling in front of him.
Startled, Hisoka looked up, jade eyes swimming with tears on the verge of spilling, not realizing they were there. Tsuzuki's eyes only held a hint of concern as he looked at the pale face in front of him, emeralds gleaming with tears. An impersonal, polite hint, the kind a child might show on their face at the news that a relative they'd never met had died.
"Hisoka… what's wrong?" When had Tsuzuki stopped calling him 'Soka-chan?
"I-I'm fine," he muttered, breathing deeply, hating how felt no warmth from the man who had before showered him in it.
"You're crying," Tsuzuki said simply, calmly, and as Hisoka quickly reached up to wipe at his eyes, a frustrated blush creeping on his face, Tsuzuki's hand caught his wrist.
"What happened?" he repeated, in that indifferent voice that didn't belong to him, that should have been frantic, emotional, the way Tsuzuki was. Before, in any case… Before he would have hugged Hisoka, and stroked his back and whispered comforts, which, whether truthful or not, always managed to invoke a sense of peace in him. What happened… when had it all changed?
"This isn't about me, damn it, it's about you!" Hisoka cried out, frustrated, wrenching his arm from Tsuzuki's grasp, hanging his head as the most he got out of the other man was a slight flicker in his eyes.
"Why are you here?" there was a commanding edge in his voice, so surprising that Hisoka almost missed it.
"B-Because… I wanted to talk to you."
Tsuzuki stared at him impassively, and despite the chill crawling over Hisoka's skin, he continued, his hands clutching his knees so hard the knuckles turned a milky white.
"Why don't you tell me what's going on? What's wrong with you? You're different! Talk to me about it!" His head pounded with the effort of holding back his tears. He felt like his words were bouncing off a wall and into a never-ending abyss.
"You really want to know?" There was almost scorn in the voice, and the question and tone were so uncharacteristic of Tsuzuki that Hisoka was shocked into silence, and the most he was able to do was nod his head once.
Tsuzuki smirked, of all things, but it was cold and pained, "I'm sick of pretending. I'm sick of smiling when I don't want to, and of living like this. I'm sick of loving you, because you never care."
The words were so blunt, like love was just a word that could be tossed around, so hopeless and monotone, that then was when Hisoka realized he'd lost him. The words were so unlike Tsuzuki, who would never talk about love so carelessly, who would never admit that he'd been lying and pretending this whole time, who would never… never… Hisoka felt something in him break. His heart, crushed, like a chestnut in a nutcracker. He could feel it splintering into a million pieces, and the room swayed out of focus.
I'm sick of loving you because you never care.
Hisoka realized it was all his fault. That Tsuzuki had regaled him with love, and Hisoka, not knowing what to do with it, threw it away. He wanted to scream and hit him, and yell 'I do care!' but one look into those uncaring, burnt out amethyst embers told him it would be useless. They scared him, intimidated him in a way his forward advances and explosive emotions when they'd first met never had.
He couldn't hold back anymore, and the tears fell. For a moment, Tsuzuki stared, as something stirred inside him.
There was nothing left for Hisoka. Tsuzuki was gone, even as he was kneeling in front of him, and the bitter irony almost made Hisoka want to laugh, a distorted, humorless laugh. Nothing mattered now, and all he felt was a black, hollow feeling enveloping him. Sobs rushed out of his throat, years of living without shedding a tear accumulating into his guilt, and his body slowly convulsed into racking sobs. The hot tears burned fire across his face, and the room was far too cold, the air far too heavy, and Hisoka felt like the sunlight hanging from the window was cold and lifeless, and did nothing to lighten the dark room.
Before, he would have been embarrassed to cry in front of Tsuzuki, he would have done everything in his willpower to stop himself. But really, he might as well have been alone now, because there was no one in front of him, and hence, Hisoka had no reason to try to ebb the flow of tears. When had Tsuzuki become the world to him? When had he stopped relying on life, and instead turned to the dark-haired man to lead him through it?
He cried harder.
But then a large hand cupped his face with a tentative gentleness, unsure, as if not realizing exactly what it was that it was doing. Hisoka looked up, his sight blurry, his body tired and drained, and emeralds widened as they recognized emotion in those amethysts.
There was infinite sadness, and though it broke Hisoka's heart to see the wrenching pain and sorrow in eyes that he still thought were beautiful, even though they were dull and unseeing, it sparked a glimmer of hope in him. Maybe Tsuzuki wasn't completely lost. His splintered heart beat faster.
So Hisoka lifted his own trembling hand, closing his eyes for a moment to try to regain some sort of composure, some sort of coherence, and placed it above Tsuzuki's own hand on his cheek.
"I-" he swallowed tiredly, trying to control the wavering of his voice, wanting the tears to stop, wanting to make that glimmer of hope grow, hoping that it would grow and prove to be true, "I can't believe you thought I didn't care."
"But you don't," as if pointing out that the sky is blue. Obvious.
"You never told me you loved me!" Hisoka moaned softly, opening his eyes to gaze despairingly at Tsuzuki, knowing that it was an unworthy excuse, that it didn't fix anything. The signs had been there, but Hisoka had been too dense and afraid too see them.
"Because you never once showed you cared."
The stabs of guilt made Hisoka's gaze become lost as he looked at Tsuzuki, as his body shook, and despite the hand that now felt so warm against his face, the rest of Tsuzuki was still largely impassive.
"I… I didn't know. I'm s-sorry…" pale lips whispered.
Hisoka never thought he'd apologize to anyone with such fervor, but if there was someone to whom he would, it would be Tsuzuki. It was his fault that his partner had lost hope and life, because he never understood the strong, burning emotion that he'd used to get from Tsuzuki, never replied to the gentle caresses, never acknowledged the nights they'd spent in each other's arms after nightmares.
Give me another chance, please, now that I know what I'm losing… he thought frantically, watching Tsuzuki's face, hoping for a flash of the life he'd used to see in those eyes.
"You're sorry…" the words trailed off, as if tasting them, and Tsuzuki looked up at nothing, seemingly lost in himself, but Hisoka's heart leapt as he saw something growing in his eyes, hints of something kindling in them.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that the only thing that had a real chance of bringing him back was the feeling that he ached to express but didn't know how.
"I'm sorry…" and then, on impulse, "Don't leave, please…" I still need you. I still want you.
"I'm not leaving," he said immediately, and Hisoka felt that it was a bit of the old Tsuzuki saying that, reassuring him without hesitation… even if it wasn't necessarily true.
Tsuzuki didn't look at him for the longest time, while Hisoka's eyes pleaded and hoped, praying to a god he'd never believed in before. He was still crying, his lips bloody from biting on them, the metallic taste washing in his mouth, and his chest sore from sobbing. In the midst of his blurry vision, Tsuzuki's face is clear.
The light-haired boy reached out, tugging on his partner's sleeve delicately, and Tsuzuki looked at him, a hint of surprise at the voluntary action seeping through for a moment before vanishing.
"I miss you," was all Hisoka said, and he hoped Tsuzuki would understand. Hisoka tugged himself closer, feeling his unresponsive body crumpling tiredly against the larger man, and he searched for warmth, searched for emotions… but the walls were too high, and he was left weak and helpless against despair.
"You never said anything like that before," there was an almost invisible tone of bewilderment in the otherwise accusing voice.
"I'm sorry… I didn't know…. What I had… Please, Tsuzuki, come back to me… I want you back…" he whispered the last part to himself, wondering how long he'd be able to keep up this openness. It was taxing, unfamiliar, it took real effort to be vulnerable and say those words out loud. But it was necessary, and for Tsuzuki, Hisoka had found he would die for.
I love you. Those were the three words that stood the greatest chance of bringing Tsuzuki back… or so he hoped. But it was so hard to say them, now that he knew it might be futile, that Tsuzuki didn't feel the same way anymore, that he'd lost his chance when Tsuzuki had loved him, and instead broke the heart he'd unwittingly fall for later. He was scared, now that he couldn't feel the emotion he had formerly not known the name of coursing and practically glowing from inside his partner. Hisoka wasn't even sure if he was ready to tell him, it brought about too many consequences and commitments that he wasn't all that sure he'd be able to take. And besides, what could he give Tsuzuki? Hisoka wasn't worth anything… it was beyond his bewildered capabilities to imagine how the hell Tsuzuki had managed to fall in love with him.
But what if Tsuzuki left him? The young shinigami knew he wouldn't be able to live with that. That would be more painful than death.
What did I do? Tsuzuki wondered.
The feel of the light weight pressed in an exhausted, still-sobbing heap against him wakened something more in Tsuzuki, and before his tired mind knew it, he lifted Hisoka's chin, watching the pale face damp with tears, closed lashes glistening wetly, and something told him…
Hisoka's crying because of you.
But it wasn't enough. It didn't mean anything, after years of wanting Hisoka, and loving him, and receiving cold glares and brushoffs in return, he'd given up.
Before Hisoka came, Tsuzuki had considered giving up. Then the younger shinigami came into his life, and for a long time, it was all that drove Tsuzuki forward and kept him going.
It was no longer enough. Just being with him wasn't enough, like it had before. He had wanted more… but had never gotten it, and now… it didn't matter…
Or did it?
'Stay, please stay… come back to me… I'm sorry'
It must be hard for him to be saying all this stuff, Tsuzuki thought mildly, the hand that had been resting on his partner's face reaching up to stroke the ashen-blonde hair. Soft, silky… he remembered touching it, a long time ago.
He's so thin, he added to himself, looking over the small body, He doesn't look like's he's slept much lately. His fingers brushed the pale forehead gently, and remembered… loving him. He remembered the pleasure of being the only one Hisoka was so open with, the only one allowed to comfort him and help him. And from somewhere deep, a small place in his heart where he hadn't given up hopes of love and life yet, his heart rejoiced in the honor of being the only one Hisoka would cry for, simultaneously mourning for the same reason.
"Do you really care?" Tsuzuki found himself whispering, and the small body in his arms managed a weak nod against his hand. A small ember left of his heart, one that hadn't been put out, only swallowed up in the charcoal of the others, flared briefly, its warmth seeping into Tsuzuki. He watched, incredulous, as his hands began trembling, and his mouth opened without him realizing it, and he was further surprised as the voice that came out wasn't calm and uncaring, but shaking.
"But do you… love me?"
Hisoka's eyes flew open, and he stared up, being flooded in relief as the violet amethysts that gazed at him finally glowed with emotion, the dullness beginning to give way to a faint shine. He could feel it, too, the walls crumbling down, and he could feel Tsuzuki begging to be saved, he could feel fear and pain and sadness, hope and anxiety ebbing slowly into him, and his tears came anew, but this time they're out of relief, because he could finally fix things. He swallowed shakily, his hands convulsively clutching Tsuzuki's arms tightly. He wouldn't be afraid anymore. He understood what he felt now, and there was a burning flame growing inside him, growing too big for him, pushing out from his chest, pressuring him to say what he'd been holding back for the longest time… his love was a flame flaring too high to be contained anymore. He'd always had courage to face death… but now, Tsuzuki's hopeful amethysts, he'd finally found the courage to love.
"I… I love you, Tsuzuki…" he whispered, emerald eyes glowing with an inner light. He was surprised at the ease with which the words slipped from his tongue, and the relief that flooded his mind at uttering them, and that it feels good to say them. It was like the mental shackles that kept him from reaching out to Tsuzuki had disintegrated, and he was suddenly free. Free to love, and feel and want, everything he'd been denying himself out of fear…
For a moment, Tsuzuki was speechless that Hisoka was admitting this so easily. Many times before he'd daydreamed of this day, and it had always involved Hisoka relenting to him some how, but never admitting it verbally…
The ember in Tsuzuki's heart became a consuming fire, running like molten lava throughout him, burning every nerve in his body with love for the golden-haired boy in front of him. He could feel tears pricking at the corner of his eyes, and a wide smile tugging at his lips. The darkness that had dulled his vision, and the hollow hopelessness that had been the only thing he'd been able to feel after burying his heart dispel as if by a rushing wind. He felt human again, his emotionless façade that had consumed him in totality being broken by his immortal love for Hisoka.
The only thing he registered with any sort of clearness was Hisoka's slim body pressed against his as he eased his arms around him gently, before abruptly crushing him closer and kissing his hair softly as he felt tears running slowly down his face.
How could he ever have forgotten what it was like to love Hisoka?
Hisoka found he couldn't breathe, so tight was he against Tsuzuki, but he didn't care. He could finally feel warmth from Tsuzuki, and he basked in it, hoping it could last forever.
"H-Hisoka…" he murmured, his voice coming out in a breathless noise, "I don't… I don't know what happened. Everything was just so… gone… and tired and… hopeless… I didn't think you… loved me."
"Love you," Hisoka corrected softly.