Who says that you deserve this,
And what kind of god would serve this?
We will cure this dirty old disease.
If you've got the poison, I've got the remedy.
-Jason Mraz, 'The Remedy'
“Where the hell have you been?” Tsuzuki glanced up, startled, caught dripping and fumbling in the doorway. His long black coat, shiny with rainwater, trailed on the ground, tangled and knotted around his wrists and the plastic grocery bag he held in one hand. He yanked one arm out of a sleeve, trying to negotiate his way out the mass of cloth without dropping the bag, his movements overly clumsy.
“’Soka!” he said, so cheerful and oblivious, slurring the word. “I was- I was nowhere. Comin’ home.” He switched the bag to his other hand, letting the last of the coat slide off him and onto the floor, making a plop against the wood. He stared at it as if the law of gravity was a new and unexpected thing. “Whoops.”
“You’re drunk,” Hisoka said, hearing his own voice go angry and tight without quite wanting it to. Tsuzuki’s emotions pressed against him like soap bubbles, pure and clear and brief, appearing and popping and replaced. But so dark. There was guilt, and grief, and failure, and a deep inadequacy that Hisoka feared.
Tsuzuki shrugged in response. His hair was wet too, darker than normal, slicked into twisted strands and clinging to the sides of his face, to his cheeks where water still glistened like tears. His eyes were closed, or he was looking down, and all Hisoka could see of them were the long lashes like two smudges of ink. He crossed his arms, looking to the side, looking at the floor, looking anywhere but at the man still standing, small and pitiful, in his doorway, as if that could deflect the anger and worry he couldn’t contain. “Is that where you were all day? While I was calling everyone who might have seen you and searching all of Meifu, you were sitting in a fucking bar somewhere, getting drunk?”
Tsuzuki rubbed at his face, and a small, dispassionate part of Hisoka noted that he looked exhausted. “I guess. Yeah.”
“You guess?” Hisoka said in disbelief. “What the hell does that mean?”
Tsuzuki’s mouth went hard and flat, his lips pressed thin, and Hisoka knew that expression. Had he been anyone else, there would have been screaming now, fighting and yelling and harsh words, hard to take back the next day. But Tsuzuki just stalked past Hisoka, not looking at him, shoving the plastic bag into his hands. He left his coat where it was, a sodden pile leaking a puddle across the floor. “That was for you,” he said over his shoulder, words cold, as he disappeared back into the shadows of the empty hallway.
“What is it?”
“Dinner. When I realized I was going to be late, I stopped and bought you it. Thought you might appreciate it.”
Hisoka sighed. The bag held nothing but a small cardboard box gone lukewarm and a cheap pair of wooden chopsticks, a gesture that was either very stupid or sort of touching. “It’s after midnight, Tsuzuki,” he said, his voice settling on exasperated.
There was a long pause before Tsuzuki answered, his voice drifting back to Hisoka. “I didn’t realize... You already ate, then.”
“No, actually,” Hisoka said, slowly following after Tsuzuki. He left the bag on a table, the rustle of the plastic loud in the stillness of the house. “I think I spent most of dinnertime on the phone with Watari, trying to think of somewhere you might have gone.”
Hisoka stopped in the doorway of the bedroom, looking in. Tsuzuki sat on a corner of the bed, toeing off his shoes. His tie was a dark curl on the floor, like a dead snake. He glanced up slightly, but it was too dark to see his expression. “Didn’t mean to make you worry.”
“Fuck you,” Hisoka said. Tsuzuki winced. “No one had seen you since lunch. You just disappeared. I had no idea where you were. No one knew, nobody knew where the hell you were or what had happened, you just went off and left and went fucking drinking and didn’t tell anyone-”
“I looked every single fucking place I could think of, and you weren’t anywhere! How could you do that? How the hell-” Hisoka stumbled over his own words, sputtering out. He wanted to shake Tsuzuki, scream at him until he’d seen what he’d done, every one of the hours Hisoka’d spent searching for him, sick and desperate with worry. And then he just turned up, alone and unhurt and fine, such a relief that Hisoka felt sick to his stomach with the release of tension, unsure if he wanted to kiss Tsuzuki or slap him. “Why?”
“Don’t apologize. Do you know what I was really afraid of?” Hisoka asked, choking on the word, some instinct still telling him never to admit fear. “Not that you were kidnapped, or trapped, or off doing something stupid... I was afraid that you were hurt. Or dead. By your own hand.”
Tsuzuki didn’t say anything. Hisoka’s eyes were adjusting to the darkness, and he could see him studying the knees of his pants as if they were fascinating. In a small voice, Tsuzuki began, “I wouldn’t-”
“Ha.” Hisoka cut him off, surprised that he could sound so angry and bitter when he just felt like crying. “I know what Tatsumi told you. I know all about how our latest case committed suicide because he couldn’t live without his wife. The wife that was oh-so-conveniently killed by the demon we were chasing. And then you just wander off? What was I supposed to think?”
“I couldn’t- Hisoka, I just couldn’t stay there any longer. I had to get out.”
“So why couldn’t you tell me!” Hisoka shouted, storming forward to shake Tsuzuki’s shoulders, then realized what he was doing and broke off. He swallowed hard before trying again, quieter. “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone with you.”
Tsuzuki pulled away, shaking his head. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I could have- I don’t know. I don’t know. I could- I could have done something. I’m sorry. I messed up, and now they’re both dead. Because of me. I’m so sorry.” He was crying, pressing his hands against his face as if he could hide it, and it was making his words incomprehensible.
“You’re an idiot,” Hisoka said, crawling onto the bed to catch Tsuzuki in a clumsy embrace. Tsuzuki leaned into him gratefully, curling down to press his face against Hisoka’s chest, his hands clenched in Hisoka’s shirt. He sobbed, crying too hard to speak or breathe, clutching at Hisoka like a life-line. Hisoka curled his arms around Tsuzuki’s shoulders and lay his cheek on the top of his head, the still-damp hair prickly under his face, and listened to him weep, struggling to stay above the whirlpool that was Tsuzuki‘s emotions and his own pain at the man’s misery.
Hisoka didn’t know the words to help Tsuzuki, so he didn’t say anything, didn’t do anything except wait, half-cradling Tsuzuki, who smelled like cigarette smoke and sweat, until he could feel the warm wetness of tears against his skin. Tsuzuki was tired, and he was drunk, and it took a long, long time before he stopped. He didn’t move, just grew gradually quieter, until the only sound was their breathing. For a moment, Hisoka almost dared to hope things were better. When Tsuzuki spoke, he sounded calm. “I don’t know how you can stand to touch me.”
“Shut up,” Hisoka said mildly, but his arms tightened around Tsuzuki. Tsuzuki lifted his head, hooking his chin over Hisoka’s shoulder. Hisoka pressed the sides of their faces together, Tsuzuki’s cheek wet and flushed against his own. “I want to touch you,” he said awkwardly, feeling like something else needed to be said, to fill the silence.
“You shouldn’t. Someone else could make you happy. Wouldn’t put you through this. You deserve that, Hisoka, you should be happy. You shouldn’t worry about me. Just- someone else-” Tsuzuki voice was bubbly, just a little too happy and bright.
“Gods, Tsuzuki, please shut up.” Hisoka rolled his eyes, pained, knowing it couldn’t be seen in the dark or with their position, but unable to resist anyway.
“No.” Hisoka leaned back a little, just enough to see Tsuzuki’s face. “You make me happy. Alright? So stop talking about it.” Tsuzuki nodded reluctantly. “And don’t you ever do this again. Do you understand me? Don’t you ever, ever do this, don’t you dare.” He punctuated his words with tiny shakes to Tsuzuki’s shoulder, barely enough to move him. “I am not going to lose you.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Promise me.” Tsuzuki pulled back a little further, and looked away, opening his mouth and shutting it without saying anything. Hisoka’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and the dim light spilling through the door from other rooms was enough for him to see the pain on Tsuzuki’s face, even if he hadn’t been able to feel it. “What’s wrong?”
“You... Hisoka, you said I shouldn’t make promises I can’t keep,” he said, his voice tiny and miserable.
Hisoka squeezed his eyes shut and pulled Tsuzuki close again, buried his face in the corner of his neck and shoulder, as if feeling him, touching him, smelling him would be enough to make keep him safe, preserve him. He knew Tsuzuki wasn’t alright, knew just how far he was from it, knew it was stupid to think he could heal him just because he wanted to. But it terrified Hisoka to think that maybe he wouldn’t get better, couldn’t, and that there might be nothing at all he could do about it. “It’s okay just this once,” he whispered. “You’ll keep it.”
He could feel Tsuzuki nodding against his shoulder, but didn’t want to pull back enough to see. “Promise.”