A High Price

Chapter 13

By Lizard


Briefly, Tsuzuki wondered whether he'd get into trouble for leaving Meifu without asking permission. Nobody had told him that he couldn't go, they had all just assumed that he wouldn't want to, and now here he was, wandering contentedly towards the park, an ice cream in his hand that he'd purchased more out of habit than out of any particular need for food or sweets.

It was a pleasantly calm evening, the streets quieter than usual, and the sun hanging low in the sky, its upper curve just visible over the tops of the trees. No sakura blossoms around here, it was the wrong time of year, and it made the Shinigami appreciate how brief their spell of glory was, not like those in Meifu, that despite all their delicacy, seemed less precious in their longevity. He lapped messily at his ice cream, embarrassed for once as he felt half of it end up on the tip of his nose. Stopping to peer in a shop window to be sure he'd wiped it all away, he was abruptly distracted by a rather distressed "meowing" coming from the alley beside the building. The ice cream hit the ground, forgotten.

Without even a moment's hesitation, Tsuzuki bounded into the narrow space, determined to aid the poor feline. He had a blatant soft spot for animals, and the thought of one being hurt or trapped was quite enough to upset him. The alley was strewn with cardboard boxes and litter, bags full of trash that overflowed, spilling their contents into shallow puddles. The sound was becoming distinctly louder as the animal became more panicked, but no matter how hard those amethyst eyes scanned the area, they could catch no sight of it.

The bags to his left shifted, and with a sigh of relief, Tsuzuki began to dig through them, flinging them aside with little care about where they landed. Revealed before him was a sleek, grey cat with eyes of a piercing cobalt blue. One of its front paws was trapped in a drainage grating, and already thin streaks of blood were marring its silvery fur, where its struggles had rubbed the skin raw.

Crouching beside the wary feline, Tsuzuki reached toward it, narrowly avoiding getting his hand swatted with fully extended claws and taking hold of the trapped leg. The animal hissed noisily, tail lashing violently from side to side, and lashed out at his cheek. Several deep scratches later and Tsuzuki had managed to tug it free, and once in the Shinigami's arms, the cat seemed to settle immediately.

Blood streaking one side of his face, and a bemused cat curled in his arms, Tsuzuki smiled, nuzzling the silken fur on the top if its head. A deep purr rumbled up from its chest, eyes closed contentedly, aching paw forgotten as the Shinigami murmured quietly to it, babbling about nothing in particular. The sound of a side door opening into the alley from one of the buildings made both Shinigami and cat turn to look behind them.

"Tsuzuki-san, what a pleasant surprise."

All at once his heart was aflutter, limbs paralysed and all logical thought fled. Just a few softly spoken words and he was reduced to this trembling mess.

As always, the doctor looked beautiful, dressed to perfection and with his characteristic ghost of a smile. Breathtaking. He stood with his hands in his pockets, pale hair hanging in a soft curtain over his false eye, gaze locked on Tsuzuki in an expression of pure and simple longing. He approached slowly, as if he were afraid the startled man he coveted would turn and flee. For Tsuzuki, it was strange to see him looking unsure of himself, but it didn't help him snap out of his shock in the slightest.

Pale hands reached towards the cat he held, the animal seeming as spellbound as he, though he knew this was no dark magic Muraki had worked on him. This was undoubtedly his own response and it frustrated him by no small degree. The doctor set the cat down, and it trotted out of the alley, limping slightly, but not really any worse for wear.

"Muraki, what are you doing here?" Tsuzuki's voice was little more than a whisper as his gaze swept over the regal figure before him, but always returning to that one, visible eye.

"Pure chance actually, this meeting was not of my design, whether you choose to believe me or not. I was merely tending to a patient."

Something didn't quite add up. If he were being honest, why would he have left by the side door, rather than the front? Despite this minor question, Tsuzuki believed him anyway.

"Tsuzuki-san, you are bleeding."

Amethyst eyes widened a little as the doctor's slender fingers brushed his cheek, and he jerked backwards sharply, finally finding himself able to move.

"No, the wounds are healed, I'm fine." Tsuzuki murmured, voice breathy. How could such brief contact have caused such a reaction, such a craving in him?

"Yes, your restorative abilities work quickly. You truly are amazing, you Shinigami." Muraki restrained himself from reaching out to snare the man in his arms. He had to tread carefully if he were to extend this meeting for as long as he would like.

Tsuzuki could feel his face reddening, fearful to do anything that might provoke the doctor into making any sudden moves. It had been a bad idea to leave Meifu, how utterly foolish of him to have thought he'd be safe and able to defend himself if need be.

Pale fingers ran the length of his jaw-line, and he blinked in surprise, wondering how the man had come so much closer without him even noticing. He could feel heated breath upon his cheek, stirring up memories that ultimately awoke another part of his body and sent shivers racing along his spine. Muraki's touch was so soothing, so gentle, that it was hard to believe he could also be a fierce and passionate lover. Tsuzuki pulled away again, backing towards the entrance of the alleyway. If he could get out onto the street, perhaps the doctor would be less inclined to touch him.

It seemed that Muraki predicted this and as soon as he turned to run, Tsuzuki was pulled backwards roughly, almost losing his footing, before powerful arms held him steady.

Firm chest pressed against his back, slender hips tight against his buttocks. The Shinigami was intoxicated by the touch and scent of him, and barely noticed as he was pressed face first against the damp wall. Muraki pinned his arms behind his back with one hand, reaching around to clasp Tsuzuki's jaw and bring his head back against his shoulder, face turned upwards.

"Why waste your time running, Tsuzuki-san? Are you still so very afraid of me?" Ivory lips brushed against his ear, teasing him mercilessly.

"You scare me more now, than you did before." Tsuzuki answered, speaking between clenched teeth as he squirmed to try and free himself, trying desperately to ignore the hand that left his jaw, caressing his exposed throat. He wanted so terribly to give in to his feelings but it was impossible.

"You act as if I handled you without consideration that evening, as if you didn't enjoy the experience. Tell me you felt nothing, and I'll leave you alone."

Tsuzuki froze, mind reeling at the possibility. All he had to do was lie, and Muraki would leave him be, end his harassment, and he would never again be faced with this temptation.

But it was a lie, nevertheless, and the Shinigami could not bring himself to tell it. He remained silent.

Silence reigned, not a word spoken, only the soft whisper of Muraki's breath as it issued between slightly parted lips, then all at once, Tsuzuki felt himself spun about, his back pushed harshly against the wall, hands roaming his body roughly as if they were starved for contact.

"Let go of me!" He whimpered desperately, only to find the doctor's lips pressed demandingly against his own, tongue seeking entrance and plunging into his mouth. Tsuzuki turned his head away, shoving the larger man away from him with all the strength he could muster. "Stop it!"

The doctor stared at him as if he were bloodthirsty, chest heaving, barely able to restrain himself from moving in again and taking what he wanted by force. Tsuzuki looked so deliciously vulnerable in his dishevelled state, gasping for breath, hair in disarray and blood smearing his cheek. Muraki knew that he could easily overpower the smaller man if it were left to physical strength alone, but the matter was somewhat complicated by the existence of 12 Shikigami who would serve their master unquestioningly. He didn't particularly feel like being burned to a crisp in Suzaku's flames, or feeling the deadly teeth of Byakko tearing him apart. Oddly enough, it wasn't the threat of Tsuzuki's mighty guardians that stopped him moving in for another attack. He needed Tsuzuki to want him, as much as he desired the Shinigami, and so he straightened up, clearing his throat and straightening his clothes.

"Tsuzuki-san, you have my apologies. I did not intend to get so carried away."

Tsuzuki only stared at him, dumbfounded.

"I promise not to lay a finger upon you again this evening, unless it be your wish for me to do so, and humbly request that you accompany me for a short time. I simply wish to speak with you for a while, our last parting was far too, shall we say, unexpected?"

Tsuzuki looked away, wondering why he felt ashamed for having left Muraki alone. He'd been trying to help Tatsumi for goodness sake. Lounging in bed with a homicidal maniac had not been an option. Still, guilt alone was no reason to agree to Muraki's request, so why was he now exiting the alley at the doctor's side?





Author's Note: I can't quite decide whether Tsuzuki is a little OOC here, particularly at the end of the chapter, but as I always say, this is what splurged out as I typed, so it can't be helped. I thought it was about time Muraki made another appearance, afterall, it's been about 3 chapters since he graced the story with his beauteous presence, and I'm too much of a fan to ignore him.

Response to error about the spelling of Konoe's name: Ack you're right! My humblest apologies to everyone for making such an idiotic error. Weird thing is, I was thinking how similar those names were just the other day. ::Sighs:: I must have been going through a blonde moment when I wrote that chapter. (No offence to blondes meant there, as I am one myself.)

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