Tatsumi-centric instrospective angst. He's just had his fondest wish come true. So why isn't he happy? Not related to my Little Things stories. Mentions of Tatsumi/Tsuzuki and Hisoka/Tsuzuki.
By: youkai_girl AKA eternalsailorsolarwind
Disclaimer: All characters and Yami no Matsuei are owned by Matsushita Yoko. I just write fanfics with her characters.
A/N: Tatsumi-centric introspective angst. NOT related in any way to my short-ficverse /Little Things/.
According to the dictionary, it means "1. a state of well-being and contentment: JOY. 2. A pleasurable or satisfying experience."*
Tatsumi slammed the dictionary shut with uncharacteristic vehemence, as it if had offended him. And indeed, today it had. Reclining back in his comfortable chair, the kagetsukai allowed his eyes to wander over the myriad cracks in the ceiling. At the moment, he was feeling anything but happy, which mystified him, in a way.
Had not his greatest wish finally come true?
Tsuzuki was happy. Finally, after so long, Tsuzuki was truly happy. And while he was pleased for his oldest friend in Meifu, his heart ached at the same time.
Because he was not the reason for the other man's happiness. Tsuzuki had found it with and in another.
Tatsumi knew that he should not feel this way; had known for years that there was nothing more to be had in his relationship with Tsuzuki other than friendship. But knowing that did not lessen the pain one bit.
Getting up, Tatsumi looked out his window. Unsurprisingly, he could see Tsuzuki and the reason that his former partner was so happy. Kurosaki Hisoka, Tsuzuki's current partner, friend, and now, lover. The pair was having a late picnic dinner together. Tatsumi could see the sunset in the reflecting pool behind the sakura grove where the two were relaxing. That they were there was surprising in and of itself, given Kurosaki's dislike of the tree and the falling petals. But the youngest shinigami had shown time and again that he would brave anything for his partner; even reminders of his own pain.
That was one of the reasons that Tatsumi could swallow down his jealousy of Kurosaki. Because the boy was willing to go that far to make Tsuzuki happy. Kurosaki braved his own demons to love the man who taught him how to live life - or his afterlife, anyway - to the fullest.
He turned away from watching the two lovers when Tsuzuki leaned in to kiss his partner. Tatsumi had no desire to witness that, as the very thought clenched at his heart. Returning to his desk, he sat, opening the bottom drawer, and pulled out his deepest, darkest secret: a candle.
It wasn't just any candle. No, it was a scented one that he had specially formulated just for him. It smelled of cinnamon and brown sugar, with just a hint of vanilla. He rarely burned it, because the traces would linger for days; making Tsuzuki scent for hidden sweets. But on occasion, he would; closing his eyes and letting himself drift backwards in time. Back to when he was partnered with Tsuzuki, and could catch this scent honestly, just by standing near his then-partner.
For even after more than 50 years, Tsuzuki still smelled of baked sweets. No matter where Tatsumi was or what he was doing, if he caught the scent of baking cakes, cookies, or pies, he automatically thought of Tsuzuki.
Lighting a match from the book that he kept with the candle, Tatsumi inhaled the scent of memory, of being the one who had, for even a short while, been the one who had lessened the sadness that permeated Tsuzuki. After a moment, he looked down at candle, seeing beyond the caramel color of it to the medium-sized seashell that was glued to the holder. Another memory of Tsuzuki flooded to the surface of his mind, this one making him smile fondly.
They had been in Nagasaki on a case, and Tsuzuki was feeling upset about it. Tatsumi had suggested a detour down to the waterfront. Tsuzuki had readily agreed, and so they had walked along one of the public beaches. Tsuzuki had stumbled, going to his knees in the sand. When Tatsumi had helped him up, Tsuzuki had thanked him by giving him the small shell that he had found when he had fallen. It was perfect, with a beautiful soft pink color on the inside. He'd kept it all these years, a hidden treasure. Almost a touchstone to remind him of those few peaceful moments he and Tsuzuki had had over their short time together as partners.
Because no matter how much he cared for the other man; loved the other man, he could not make him truly happy. There had been a few fleeting moments, before he had broken their partnership, that Tatsumi thought they could have made it work. But then another case would come along, and Tsuzuki would again collapse, needing his strength to just stay afloat. After only two months, Tatsumi realized that he did not have the strength to continue to be Tsuzuki's life preserver. He would have sacrificed his own sanity, if it would have made a difference, but he knew that doing so would have made life unbearable for Tsuzuki.
The man's guilt was deep enough to drown even Tokyo Tower in its fathomless depths, let alone a single shinigami.
So he had broken their partnership, not only to save his sanity, but to keep Tsuzuki from floundering even deeper. He had seen the hurt in Tsuzuki's eyes as he had broken off their partnership; broken off the nascent romantic relationship that he himself had initiated.
There had been exactly one kiss between them. That day, Tatsumi had lost the ability to be strong in the face of Tsuzuki's exquisiteness, and had captured his lips with his own. Tsuzuki had returned the kiss, however hesitantly, and Tatsumi had cheered internally, thinking that this was a beginning to something more than just a mere partnership. But it was the only kiss, and as time passed, Tatsumi sometimes caught Tsuzuki looking at him as hesitantly as he had returned the kiss.
Doubt began to eat at him. Had Tsuzuki not wanted the kiss after all? Was Tatsumi mistaken about how his partner felt about him?
So he left.
Still in love with the other man, Tatsumi was determined to find a way to make Tsuzuki happy. He took the lateral move into the Secretary position when it became available, hoping that he would be in a position to help and guide his former partner. Every decision he had made over the last 50-plus years was orchestrated to make one man happy. But nothing he did helped; keeping Tsuzuki stable was the most he could accomplish.
And then Kurosaki entered the picture, and everything began to change. By the time their first case was completed, Tatsumi knew that the boy was the one that could make Tsuzuki happy. He watched their relationship grow, and he began to slowly step out of the way, letting the partners become closer. Even as he swallowed his burgeoning jealousy of the boy.
Kyoto had only cemented what he knew was happening. Kurosaki loved Tsuzuki. Was willing to die his second death if need be, just to be with Tsuzuki. Whereas he was only willing to let Tsuzuki die, if that was what his former partner wanted. Tatsumi mentally cringed away from the memory, even though Tsuzuki - and everyone else involved - were willing to forgive his hesitation, he was still not able to do so. He felt as if he had failed Tsuzuki.
He hadn't, he knew, not really. The pain of those memories was starting to lessen with time, as older memories had already done. Perhaps, in time, the ache in his heart would also dissipate. Perhaps one day he would no longer be jealous of Kurosaki for being the one who could make Tsuzuki happy; for being the one loved by Tsuzuki.
Standing up, he blew out the candle, letting the thin trail of smoke rise and dissolve, willing his pain to follow it; knowing that it would take time. Putting the candle and the matches away, he glanced back out the window. The pair was still out there, Tsuzuki's head resting in Kurosaki's lap. Looking away again, Tatsumi swallowed hard against the lump in his throat, deciding that perhaps a tea break would be helpful in regaining his equilibrium.
As he left his office, his stern mask in place to hide his emotional state from his co-workers, an English saying floated into his mind:
Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.
* Taken from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary.