A High Price

Chapter 20

By Lizard



The word repeated itself incessantly, like a chant that seemed to drown everything else out and always in that same, bitter tone Tatsumi had used. Tatsumi's voice speaking it. He could see his lips moving to form the word, but not in time with it, like a badly dubbed film.

He didn't notice the curious glances he received from people he ran past, too busy to care more than a few seconds about a frantic man sprinting down the street without a coat or even a suit jacket on a blustery winter day. He had to get to Muraki's house as quickly as possible, nothing else mattered, he just wanted to be safe, feel wanted and welcome, and then forget about everything in his arms. Yes, let Muraki devour him emotionally until nothing mattered anymore except what the two of them felt for each other. Not for the slightest moment did he imagine Muraki might not reciprocate his love.

By the time he reached the secluded building, he was breathless, the night air stung his lungs every time he inhaled, and he could barely see for tears. The cold always did that to him, made his eyes water and he could taste their salt upon his lips. Not a single light was on in the house, not even the flicker of a candle. It had been foolish of him to think that Muraki would be there, he was most likely working in the hospital. That or up to something the Shinigami didn't want to contemplate. The doctor's crimes had always cut him deeply; he couldn't stand to see people suffer. Briefly, he dared hope that Muraki would cease with such things. Afterall, they had more often than not, been designed to lure Tsuzuki out, so really there was no more reason. He possessed him now utterly.

Now what? He couldn't return to Meifu, not back to Tatsumi, whom he was sure despised him. Not to Hisoka, he'd already burdened the boy with his troubles, and no doubt Watari would know of things by now and turn him away too. Shivering violently, he made his way up the path to the door, slumping against it miserably. The thought of such rejection from those people he was closest to was heartbreaking. In the past he'd done everything in his power to hide the details of his life and come across as friendly, frivolous and carefree, because he had feared what the reaction of others would be.

He was about to close his eyes, doze there in the cold and wait, when he suddenly saw a shadow move past one of the windows within the house. He blinked, thinking he'd imagined the dark figure, but he saw it again a moment later, felt his heart flutter in his chest. It was not Muraki, of that he was sure, this figure was more slender, small waist, long hair judging by the way it hung, but not a woman, far too tall and broad at the shoulder. He watched it moving for a while, within the room, almost furtive in its motion, as if taking care to be quiet. An intruder then? Tsuzuki's brow furrowed, and moving discretely so as not to draw attention to himself, he got to his feet. Cold, almost entirely numb digits clasped the door handle, tested it with a quick turn, and the door moved inward a little. Unlocked, same as the night he'd run from Muraki. It seemed he was careless about his security.

Determined to apprehend whoever had invaded Muraki's home, feeling almost defensive about it, he slipped inside, closing the door quietly behind him, and then went in search of the room where he'd seen the silhouette through the window. It wasn't an easy task. Too many rooms and corridors. It would be easy to lose track of someone in this place, but Tsuzuki didn't care about getting lost at the moment, and wound his way further, heading in as direct a route as he could to the room.

Finally, he heard the faintest of sounds from behind one of the heavy oak doors, and not daring to breathe, whole body tense, he opened the door. No one struck at him. There was no thief caught mid-raid. Nothing whatsoever. For some reason that chilled him all the more. Either he'd entered the wrong room or the intruder was skilled at concealing themselves.

He took a few steps further inside, amethyst eyes alert as he scanned the shadowy areas, beginning a circuit of the room.

Table at the centre, grand old fireplace with a marble mantle-piece, fur rug pale in front of it. But what was that dark shape sprawled upon it? His breath caught in his throat as the moon finally slipped from behind the clouds and its radiance came pouring in through the window, drenching the room in a pale silvery light.

Muraki lay on the white, fur rug, limbs sprawled as if he'd fallen that way, delicate glasses askew on the bridge of his fine nose. His eyes were closed and the veil of hair that usually concealed the right side of his face hanging aside for once. He looked beautiful, as serene as he'd been when asleep in Tsuzuki's arms. Only the dark, bloody stains upon his clothes, and on the rug, marred the picture.

Silver and Crimson, the glint of light on the tiny shards of a broken wine glass lying slightly to the side, contents a dark pool on the polished floorboards.

Tsuzuki couldn't move. It felt like someone had clamped his feet to the floor, and was forcing him to stare at this image, beautiful and grotesque all at once. His arms hung limply at his sides, fingers twitching faintly as he tried to force some movement into his limbs. When he finally summoned the strength, he almost toppled over, suddenly light headed, as if he might pass out at any second. He knelt down at Muraki's side, knee sliding in spilt wine, smell of blood making him feel faintly nauseous.

His hand shaking, he reached out, and pressed his fingertips to Muraki's pale face. Cold as ice. They drifted until they sat upon his silken lips, waiting for the faintest whisper of warm breath, but there was none. Check for a pulse, his wrist, he told himself, and he reached for the limp arm, drawing it onto his knee, two fingers pressing slightly into the flesh just beneath the sleeve of his white shirt. Not even the faintest murmur. Muraki was dead.

Tsuzuki felt something building within him. His heart seemed to tighten agonisingly in his chest, no rhythm to its beat, and his eyes ached from staring, unblinking, for so long. No, no, no, no, no, no. His mind repeated, growing from a soft whisper to a deafening roar. He knew it was such a roar that was building in him, a cry of pure anguish that would have no witness. He couldn't breathe, couldn't think, couldn't function at all.

And then he seemed to be flying, only to land a second later on the cold floor, something cold pressed to his throat, a weight pinning him down cruelly, knee in his stomach. He peered up at the figure that held him, not able to see much, since his attacker's back was to the window, face in shadow, but he could see it was the male he'd spotted in the window, long brown hair trailing over his arms and brushing the floor, pipe clenched between his teeth. It was a Katana, digging into his neck.

"Now what have we got here?" Deep, cultured voice, barely above a whisper. Oriya grinned at the man trapped beneath him.





Author's note: Yet again, please don't kill me >.< I know things are a tad confusing at the moment, but all will be explained. ~ Lizard ~

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