by Shrift

Sweat beaded at Tsuzuki's temples, tickling his skin before slipping down his cheeks like tears. Water slapped against the sides of the bath as he shifted and sank deeper into the heat. It felt wonderful to be clean and warm again after the hospital. It had been cold there, colder still after Hisoka had been released and no longer shared the room with him, despite the constant stream of visitors.

Not that Hisoka had been very far away since that night. He wasn't far away even now. But as soon as the doctor said he could go, Hisoka had bundled him up and marched him home, convinced that Tsuzuki wouldn't eat and rest if left to his own devices.

Tsuzuki didn't mind. He was still tired, after all, and Hisoka acting motherly was quite possibly the most adorable thing he'd ever seen.

He opened his eyes at the sound of footsteps in the hallway, and then the door slid back. Hisoka stood in the doorway, wearing one of Tsuzuki's robes. It was too large for his frame; the fabric spilled over the belt and the hem brushed the tops of his feet.


Hisoka didn't speak, his face resolute. He simply untied the belt and let the robe slip from his shoulders, his pale body cursed with too many years of pain. Stunned, Tsuzuki could only stare as Hisoka stepped into the bath and knelt between his legs. Hisoka's jaw was firm and unyielding, but his green eyes were open wide. He rested his palms on his thighs, and Tsuzuki saw his hands tremble before Hisoka curled them into fists.

It didn't take any special powers to recognize the look in his eyes: Hisoka was terrified.

Tsuzuki knew fear; he'd known it all his life. He knew it in the memory of stones breaking his skin, Muraki's possessive hand on his neck, Hijiri's blood spattering the walls. The memory of fire. The faces of people he loved at the moment when they discovered what kind of monster he was.

Tsuzuki feared so many things; it seemed strange that this would be the one thing he feared most. But Hisoka could never, ever be afraid of him, because Tsuzuki couldn't bear it.

"Hisoka," he said again. "Don't --"

"No!" Hisoka said. Water sloshed as he surged forward to grip Tsuzuki's shoulders. "You don't get to tell me to leave. Not now."

"I didn't mean..." he said. He lifted his hand and touched his fingertips to Hisoka's face. Droplets ran down his arm and gathered at his elbow, falling and tapping against the water's surface. Dripping blood made the same sound. "You don't have to do this."

"Don't you think I know that?" Hisoka growled. His hands tightened on Tsuzuki's shoulders to the point of pain. "Do you think I'd be here, otherwise?"

None of his flirtatious suggestions meant a damn thing if it meant losing Hisoka, losing how well they fit together after all that they'd been through, and Tsuzuki said so. Or he tried to, but when he opened his mouth, Hisoka breathed in sharply, air hissing through his teeth as if he were in pain. Hisoka closed his eyes and hunched his back like a cat, but it only lasted for a moment.

"Do you remember what the fortune teller said?" Hisoka asked finally. "About compatibility only getting us so far?"

Tsuzuki swallowed. He remembered feeding the fire and hugging his knees while he listened to Hisoka's voice. "Of course."

The firm set of Hisoka's mouth finally softened. "It's time to start climbing."


"Don't look so scared, Tsuzuki," he said gently. "It doesn't suit you."

And then Hisoka kissed him. At first, it was just the warm press of his lips against Tsuzuki's, and the puff of Hisoka's breath on his skin. Even that simple touch made Tsuzuki moan low in his throat. Hardly anyone touched him even now, and of those who did, Tatsumi was too restrained and Muraki too greedy. Hisoka's touch was never unwelcome, at least when he wasn't shoving a gun into Tsuzuki's back, but it was still a surprise when Hisoka pressed his tongue to Tsuzuki's lips. He opened his mouth without hesitation, and Hisoka kissed him clumsily, yet so determined that it didn't matter.

Tsuzuki held still, so very still; he was afraid that Hisoka would stop if he moved, and that wasn't what he wanted at all. He closed his eyes and lost himself in the stroke of Hisoka's lips and tongue; his mouth was strangely cool in contrast with the heat of the bath. He could feel Hisoka's hands on his shoulders and the faint press of his knees on the inside of Tsuzuki's thighs. More sweat beaded at his temples and slipped stinging down his face while Hisoka kissed him, his hands migrating from Tsuzuki's shoulders to cup his nape and jaw.

The kiss ended as gently as it began, their heavy breath mingling while Tsuzuki's mouth itched and tingled. Hisoka stared at him for a long moment, and then turned in the bath, settling his back against Tsuzuki's front with a pleased sigh. His hair was turning the color of wet sand from the heat.

For all his flirting, Tsuzuki was at a loss as for how to proceed with something as important as this. "What do we do now?"

"Idiot," Hisoka said, and glanced over his shoulder. His eyes were as warm as the water. "You can wash my back."


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