A High Price

Chapter 19

By Lizard


"Tatsumi, what're you doing?"

The secretary felt his heart sink as his fellow Shinigami looked up at him. He couldn't recall his voice ever having been so quiet, so serious. A serious Tsuzuki did not bode well. To add to problems, he seemed to have shrunk back against the wall, as if he were trying to put as much space between them as possible. Tatsumi didn't know how to react. This was his worst fear, and it was playing itself out before his very eyes. In such a situation, rational thought fled his mind, and rather than backing off, he moved closer, his grip on Tsuzuki's arms tightening.

"Tsuzuki, don't you understand?" His voice was a panicked and breathy whisper, a pained look on his face. His chest ached, a tight constricting feeling, and he felt like he couldn't draw in air.

"Tatsumi, let go, you're hurting my arms." That same tone of voice, quiet, serious, but above all dangerously calm. His words didn't seem to register with the taller man, who felt as if someone were trying to crush him beneath their boot heel.

"Please, don't turn me away." He seemed to hiss the words between his teeth, head bowed. He couldn't look at those amethyst eyes any longer; they seemed so cold and keenly defensive. Tsuzuki reached up with one hand, pressing lightly against his chest, but Tatsumi wouldn't be moved, too afraid that if he let him go now he'd never have another chance.

"This is wrong, you're my friend." Tsuzuki's voice finally seemed to soften, perhaps because he'd heard the pain in his friend's voice, but he would not relent. As much as he cared for Tatsumi, as often as he may have considered the possibilities of being with him in the past, and as sympathetic as he was, he couldn't accept him that way. Not now.

"I know that, but-wait!" Tatsumi manoeuvred himself slightly to one side as Tsuzuki tried to duck beneath his arms and slip away from him. "Don't run away from me. Just listen. I know this must seem strange, sudden even, but I care about you so much Tsuzuki." He couldn't bring himself to say more, it seemed so pointless when actions could speak so much louder, and before the smaller man could protest, he leaned in and kissed him again, arms winding around his back to tug Tsuzuki against him.

Tsuzuki's calm finally broke, but he could do little to free himself with his arms pinned against his sides and a wall against his back. His squirming seemed to do little to persuade his friend to stop, and when he felt a hand wandering a little too far from his lower back, he froze entirely.

"Tatsumi please!" Tsuzuki turned his head away, but Tatsumi's lips only fastened onto his slender neck instead. "Tatsumi!"

Finally the secretary halted, his breath ragged, hands trembling. He stepped away from Tsuzuki, head bowed very slightly, silvery streaks marking his skin where tears had fallen. Tatsumi had never seemed so broken before.

"I'm sorry, but I can't." Tsuzuki stepped away from the wall, still feeling somewhat trapped there, even though there were several feet of space between them.

"No, of course not." Something about that bitter tone to Tatsumi's voice made the other Shinigami inhale sharply. "But you'd let that homicidal freak touch you."

Tsuzuki recoiled as if he'd been slapped again, but this hurt far more than the physical blow he'd received earlier. How had he found out? Was this what had provoked him into acting this way?

"You'd let that, that filth! The very man that's responsible for Hisoka's death and dozens of others!" Tatsumi was crying openly now, fists shaking angrily as he clenched them at his sides. He felt dizzy with rage, his temples throbbing, pulse pounding in his ears. Was he really so low that Tsuzuki would pick Muraki over him?

"Tatsumi stop it!" Tsuzuki was backing off further, hands clamped over his ears. He couldn't bear to hear such words from someone he cared for so much, but everything was true. Muraki was a killer, and there was no excusing that.

"What's wrong with you? Can't you see? Are you so blind that he's won you over so easily!"

"I can't help it Tatsumi, I love him!" As soon as the words left his mouth, Tsuzuki regretted them. The pure shock on the face of the older Shinigami was indescribable, the shadows snaking around his ankles like living beings. But what else could he have said? The words were true, and he'd only just realised that love was what he felt for the doctor, as he was faced with the dilemma of defending him. "I'm sorry."

Tatsumi's silence was overpowering. There were no more tears, no detecting what he might be thinking or feeling, just a total blank that even Hisoka would have struggled to breach.

"You truly love him?" The secretary asked at length.

Tsuzuki could only nod in reply, looking up at those clear, cobalt eyes, searching for understanding or condemnation, but finding neither. Tatsumi was completely closed to him, gaze focused without any feeling whatsoever.

"Are you so inhuman that you could love a monster?"

Amethyst eyes widened, horrified at those words, which brought so many memories flooding back. Tsuzuki couldn't see, couldn't think. Nothing was clear anymore, his body moving as if automated as he groped blindly for the door handle. He didn't register the soft apology from the other Shinigami, who only realised his mistake too late. Tatsumi was one of the few people, along with Watari and Hisoka that knew about Tsuzuki's doubts, about his troubled childhood, and he had seen the sudden change in Tsuzuki as soon as he had called him "inhuman." For the second time that evening, Tsuzuki fled from the office, desperate to get away and headed to the only person he knew that would accept him entirely, make him forget everything. The very person that Tatsumi had called a monster.





Authors Note: Don't kill me Tatsumi fans! ::Takes cover before she can be stoned to death or something of the like:: Heh, I'm not sure whether anyone will like this chapter or not, it was hard to imagine how our favourite Shadow Master would react to being rebuffed, or how Tsuzuki would go about it. Plus of course this chapter was very angsty and mean to both of them, which, I assure you, was necessary for plot purposes. Yes, I am starting to plan an ending, not many chapters left to go now. Hmm, what else, oh yes, about the other three Shinigami knowing about Tsuzuki's problematic past and worries about not being human: I know they don't know in the official stuff, but hell, this ain't official, so I took some liberties. Thanks to you all for reviewing again! ~ Lizard ~

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