A High Price

Chapter 21

By Lizard


Tsuzuki trembled slightly, holding back tears. He wasn't scared. He didn't care really whether he died or not, but Muraki's death was preventing him from reacting with any real will. He just lay there, utterly miserable, head turned sideways so that he could look at the doctor's graceful form slumped upon the rug. It would be fitting for them to lie in death, side by side.

"I know you. You're the Shinigami he was so besotted with." Oriya seemed unbothered by Tsuzuki's lack of attention, but he recognised the slender man beneath him from the doctor's numerous descriptions. "I can see why of course."

Tsuzuki finally tore his gaze from his lover, and stared up at the stranger, watching as he sat up, but remained straddling his waist.

"You killed him." His voice sounded alien even to himself, not his usual timbre. Oriya arched a brow, sliding his blade back into its sheath with the delicious grate of metal upon well-oiled leather.

"Don't jump to conclusions." Came the calm response. Tsuzuki didn't seem to register those words. He was staring at the body again, eyes vacant. He looked so beautiful lying there, that Oriya wished he'd found him before the doctor had ever come across him. Getting to his feet, Oriya stepped away from him, and stood near Muraki's head. "It's hard to believe he's anything but innocent when he looks like that, isn't it?"

Tsuzuki was shocked, horrified that this man, whom had obviously been Muraki's confidante judging by the comments he'd made, could talk so nonchalantly while he lay there dead. His pain was fast turning to anger, a heat that knotted in the pit of his stomach. He would kill this man for taking the only one that loved him.

"I wonder how long it'll take." Oriya was murmuring, inhaling so that the contents of his pipe burned brightly for a moment, bright spot of gaudy light amidst all the silver. Tsuzuki caught a glimpse of his face. Calm brown eyes, lean, angular and without lines. "He said he's done this before, but I suppose with this being a longer trip he felt it wise to have someone keep an eye out for trouble." The swordsman gave a world-weary sigh at that. Muraki didn't seem to think about what would be convenient for Oriya, and he knew his friend would never refuse him a favour.

Tsuzuki of course, was confused. Oriya was talking to him as if he should know what he was babbling about. How long would what take? The anger dropped from a boil to a simmer as he felt the faintest glimmer of hope.

"What do you mean? How long will what take?"

Oriya glanced up at him, then began to idly flick some of the smaller shards of glass into a pile with his forefinger.

"His trip to Meifu. I suppose he'll be back quite soon, since you aren't there. Besides, it isn't safe for him to be separated from his body for too long. He said it might reject him when he gets back." Another lung-full of smoke and Oriya closed his eyes, sheathed Katana resting across his knees.

For a while, Tsuzuki stood there in complete shock. Muraki wasn't dead then? But only the dead went to Meifu unless they were under the protection of the Shinigami. It was all too complicated, but somehow the doctor had managed to shift his soul there, and left his body in the custody of this man, whoever he was. The relief was extraordinary; something akin to an orgasm in the way it left him breathless and light headed. He almost passed out right there, but Oriya was on his feet, supporting him as he swayed dangerously.

"You don't look too well. I didn't know Shinigami could get ill." He murmured, helping him sit down beside the rug.

"I'm not ill. Just relieved. I thought he was, you know." Tsuzuki couldn't bring himself to say it, and rubbed his face free of damp where his tears had dripped.

"You thought he was dead and that I killed him." Oriya grinned a little, teeth clamped around the pipe. "No, this was all his own doing. It'd take an awful lot to kill him. I'm not exactly sure how he's performed this little feat, but no doubt it's some dark magic he's been experimenting with. There was something in that wine, something to do with blood too." With a grimace, the longhaired man touched the cuts in Muraki's neck. The blood flow had stopped, and congealed into dark, semi-solid scabs over his pale flesh.

"How long has he been gone?" Tsuzuki asked, still a little dizzy with the relief, one hand twined with Muraki's, thumb sliding back and forth across his fingers tenderly. "Did he say why he was going?"

"I can only assume he meant to find you there. He's been gone a little over an hour, I think." Oriya noticed the gentle way the Shinigami clasped his friend's hand, the way he seemed to focus upon nothing but that pale, lifeless body and a faint smile curled his lips.

For a while, Tsuzuki seemed content to sit there and wait, saying nothing, and not once looking up at his companion, whom he still didn't know by name. But after ten minutes or so had passed, his mind shifted up a gear. Muraki had been gone for quite some time. Muraki had gone to Meifu or JuOhCho to be precise, and that was where Tatsumi was. Tatsumi hated Muraki. Trouble.

Panic began to set in again for the third time that evening. Could Tatsumi harm Muraki when he had no real solid form? After all, his body was safe, here with himself and Muraki's friend. He glanced at Oriya, who seemed to have fixed his gaze on the clock on the wall. He wasn't the only one worrying then.

"This is taking longer than I expected." Was there a tremor in that smooth baritone? Tsuzuki was sure there was.

"You're right. I should go and find him." The swordsman only nodded, watching as the Shinigami rose unsteadily and wandered out again with one last lingering glance at the doctor.


Elsewhere, two tall men stood facing each other, eyes of cerulean locked with mismatched orbs of silver and icy blue, one form solid, the other barely more than a hazy apparition.

"Muraki. I'll make you regret the day you ever set eyes upon him."





Author's Note: I thought I'd better add the next chapter before I started getting death threats or something >.< Anyway, how could people think I'd kill off Muraki like that! Hehe, yes I know I was cruel to do it, but it's all explained now. Kinda. Anyway, thanks again for the reviews!

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