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Heart to Heart

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Typical days… Normal days…

Days that seemed to run the same day in and day out. The occasional argument between rivals, the occasional slap on the head, the occasional threat of cutting people's salaries, the occasional explosion coming from the laboratory down the hall, the occasional squeal from two girls determined to dress someone up like a girl, the occasional headaches, the occasional whining about sweets.

But those days were gone forever. Things would never be the same again. They could never be the same, not after what happened.

The memory of what happened was still clear in everyone's mind. How close they were to losing something that could never be replaced. How close true death, a second death, was knocking on everyone's door. The intensity of the situation had scared everyone so much, to the point where they all now had to question every single action they took from day in and day out.

What would drive someone to their second death? Especially someone who seemed like he had no care in the world. What could cause a person to question their self worth, especially when there were people around that someone who obviously cared about them?

Things had to change. Whether people liked it or not.

That's the conclusion that Hisoka Kurosaki had finally come to realize, despite the way things seemed around the Shokan Division. Being empathic had its advantages in this case. The overall impression of Tsuzuki's near second suicidal attempt had affected everyone, including himself.

All this time, he thought he knew Tsuzuki, his childlike partner. He was used to his smiles and his 'puppy eye pout' (as people liked to call it) and his obsession with sweets and butting into everyone else's business to help. That seemed like the perfect description for the nearly one hundred year old Shinigami.

Yet, the above description was so grossly wrong, that a bitter smile made its way across Hisoka's lips. That's the perfect image that people had of Tsuzuki. If anything Hisoka now knew about his partner was that he was a very good actor.

It didn't help that Tsuzuki had naturally strong shields around himself. Hisoka knew that Tsuzuki hid things from him and put it under the excuse that he didn't want Hisoka to get hurt. That he didn't want to be a burden to everyone else.

The truth was, though, he didn't want anyone to know what might possibly be the 'real' him. He was deathly afraid that if someone came to know him, that he would face rejection. It was what Tsuzuki feared most of all, to be rejected. And Tsuzuki knew it would feel a lot worse if someone close to him started to fear and loathe him.

So he kept his secrets hidden. Hidden away from everyone's eyes and tried to act like that the incident in Kyoto never happened.

He wasn't fooling anyone, especially not Hisoka.

It wasn't until after the incident in Kyoto that Hisoka realized how fragile Tsuzuki really was. He learned many different things about Tsuzuki and saw a different side to Tsuzuki, that in fact, he wasn't as brave and powerful as he seemed. He was, and will always be, despite his protests to Hisoka, human.

Tsuzuki had weaknesses, like everyone else, and those weaknesses affected Tsuzuki all the more deeply. Despite him being able to summon twelve powerful Shikigami at his command, they couldn't help fight the battle that was taking place in his own psyche. They couldn't help him when he was being manipulated mentally.

When it came to powers, Tsuzuki was at his peak physically, but mentally, he was as weak as a newborn kitten.

It wasn't until Tsuzuki was kidnapped by the mad doctor, Muraki, that Hisoka realized how much he had taken for granted. How many times had he hurt Tsuzuki by yelling at him and calling him an idiot, by slapping him on the head, by pushing him and telling him to leave him alone?

Hisoka never meant to hurt Tsuzuki intentionally, by any means. It ended up becoming like a habit, a routine, a ritual that looked and felt normal. To Hisoka, to put it simply, it was just the way things were between them.

But normalcy could never be an option now. After seeing how vulnerable and fragile his partner can be, how could he ever go back to the way things were? What if it was because of his yelling and screaming and the way he treated Tsuzuki was part of the reason that Tsuzuki decided that he wanted to die for good?

There was no way that Hisoka was going to make a mistake like that ever happen again. More than anything, he didn't want to lose Tsuzuki to something like that again. It was a chance he wasn't willing to tempt Lady Luck again.

But more than that, Hisoka noticed something different about his partner one day. It was as if Tsuzuki had come to some sort of conclusion about something that had been bothering him for a while. Hisoka had no idea what it could possibly be. He didn't want Tsuzuki to hide anything from him, especially if it was important. But if Tsuzuki wasn't willing to tell, he wasn't going to tell and would hide his secrets well, although Hisoka would drop subtle hints that if Tsuzuki wanted to talk, that he was here to listen to him.

It was after that day when Tsuzuki started to behave and act very strange that Hisoka was going to confront him about this one day. Whether it was today or tomorrow or even a year from now, Hisoka had no idea. But he told himself that he would listen when Tsuzuki was ready to tell him.

'Because we're partners… Because we're friends… Because you're my family…'

Or was it because Tsuzuki was something more…?