Categories > Anime/Manga > Yami no Matsuei


by Macx_Larabee 0 reviews

after an attack, Tsuzuki is left with a contagious fever and has to be quarantined... in the most unlikeliest place. Part of the Darkness Unleashed series. Complete!

Category: Yami no Matsuei - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Tsuzuki, Other - Published: 2006-11-05 - Updated: 2006-11-05 - 5676 words - Complete

Fever Fever
Part of the Darkness Unleashed series
by Macx
Slight change from one scene in the Kyoto arc: the Count didn't visit Tsuzuki. In our take on him he's restrained to the palace and the palace grounds. We took that idea from the masquerade scene where he says the palace is his prison.

The man lying in the huge bed was flushed with fever, his skin hot, dry, but also glistening with sweat. Chapped lips opened, a gasp escaped the parched mouth, and eyes roamed behind closed lids. For a moment the eye lids cracked open, the glassy, violet color barely visible, then they slid shut again. He clawed at the rumpled sheets and tried to push the blanket off the heated body.
Hands reached for the feverish man, brushed the weakly moving hands aside and gently drew up the blankets. A soft moan voiced the protest, but the prone man was too weak to really do anything. The same hands stroked over the hot face, gentle, loving.
"Shhh, it's okay. It's okay..."
The voice was just as soft and gentle and loving, but also sad.
Tsuzuki Asato whimpered again, twisting in the sheets, trying to escape from the nightmares that held him in their grasp. He whispered something, too soft to be heard by the sole watcher, but the tone of voice said it all. It was panicky, pained, filled with need and despair.
One hand continued to stroke while the other grabbed the flailing hand of the insensate patient.
"I wish I could take away the dreams, Tsuzuki. I wish I could do more, but there is nothing. Nothing at all."
Eyes the color of blood strayed from the sick man to the darkness outside the windows. It was night, the second night Tsuzuki was here, and the second night there was nothing to do but sit and wait for the nightmares to pass, for the body to quiet down, then try and feed liquids into the poisoned system. Tsuzuki was strong, he was a fighter, but the creature had doused him with a dose of almost lethal poison and that poison was now running through his blood, emanating from his very pores, and no one could get close - except for a select few.
It had been the reason why Tsuzuki wasn't in the medical facility of Meifu. He was contagious and whoever of the shinigami came too close might catch the same symptoms.
So he had been brought to the only safe place in this realm, a place that was secluded, was a prison to the one being residing in it - the Palace of Candles.
The Count looked at his guest, visitor and patient. A sad smile flitted over his features. Of course he had agreed to have the handsome shinigami in his home, in his bed, so to speak, but his thoughts were far from erotic.
"Any other time I would have been delighted to have you here," he whispered. "Any other time I would have seduced you, Asato, you know?"
Tsuzuki shivered, curling up, another cold spell hitting him. His eyes were screwed shut and a steep line of pain was visible on his forehead. The hand the Count was still holding clenched around his.
"You are the best thing that ever happened to me," he murmured. "You are what I needed to go on. You were a ray of sunshine in a cursed existence. I'm sentenced to be alone, without a chance to be pardoned, and it was hell. But then you came. You're so alive, Asato, so wonderfully warm and innocent and powerful. You're what makes this miserable existence worthwhile again. You're brighter than all the candles put together."
He chuckled and pushed a rogue strand out of the hot forehead.
"You'll never know what I feel for you. More than I could ever imagine feeling again, more than I thought anyone could feel. I have to hide from the world, from myself, from those who sometimes come by. I can never come to you and your friends; I have to rely on visitors."
The Count smiled again, his face visible to the world. But the world was just one unconscious, feverish shinigami. The mask lay on the nightstand, forgotten. It was his punishment, his cross to bear. He would never be able to look at this man and have him see him. He could never smile at this wonderful being and tell him that Tsuzuki made him live.
"You've come so far, my friend," he whispered, never stopping the caresses. "You overcame obstacles others would never have attempted to cross. You are the life line of so many, changed so much without ever attempting to... and I wish... just once... I could look into your eyes, face your power, have you look at me in turn, and smile."
He leaned down, placing a chaste kiss on the hot forehead.
"I love you, Tsuzuki Asato, and I can never have you. I would never take what you will not give; I could never force you."
He liked to play with the shinigami's inexperience, with the innocence that was so innate as was his power. He liked to see him flustered, embarrassed, maybe even slightly bothered, but he had never gone too far. The Count knew that had he been persistent in the past, he might have gotten what he had desired back then.
Not now.
Not any more.
Tsuzuki had a partner now, he had Hisoka. The boy was what this man needed, and Tsuzuki was perfect for the bitter and sometimes emotionally cold young man.
"You found what you need," he murmured. "You found happiness, and it's all I need. Your happiness is my life. I need you, Tsuzuki. Never leave; never try to leave again."
His suicide attempt had shaken the Count's world, had made him want to break the barriers of his prison, run to the medical wing, see that this wonderful man was all right. And it had made him want to throttle Tsuzuki, demand reasons, an answer... even though he had known.
He knew Tsuzuki wasn't human, had seen and felt it from day one. It was what had attracted him; it was what mesmerized him.
Demon blood. Except for Konoe and Enma-Daiou, only he had known.
Of demon descent. So strong, and so vulnerable in one. You fear that side of you, you have its power and its resilience, but your heart is very much human.
The demonic side was quite strong; it showed in Tsuzuki's abilities, his powers, which had developed a lot lately. The Count could feel the changes, was aware of the tamed darkness, and he smiled sadly again.
Tsuzuki whimpered in his nightmares, twisting, crying out a name.
"No!" came the repeated denial from the delirious man. "Don't... don't hurt him... please...!"
"No one's hurting him," the Count reassured him softly.
One of the nightmares Tsuzuki had fought through lately. One of many that dealt with death and punishment and his shikigami; or with pain and agony and an old ghost... Muraki. The man was no longer a threat, was no longer here, but his ghost would be in Tsuzuki's subconsciousness for a while to come.
"He didn't mean it," Tsuzuki whimpered. "Didn't... Touda!"
The scream was ear drum shattering and the slender body almost bolted from the bed.
"No!" Tsuzuki screamed. "NO!"
He had little time to think as the other man tried to lunge up. The Count caught the hot body and held on as Tsuzuki screamed and pleaded and cried, fighting invisible bonds, crying for his shikigami, tears tracking down his feverish cheeks.
He held him. He caressed the sweaty back, held the shaking man as Tsuzuki whimpered, hands clawing into the white shirt, until the shinigami finally sagged, breathing hard.
"Touda..." was the broken plea. "Don't... not his fault... hurts... stop!"
The Count sighed softly. It wasn't the first episode since he had been brought here, and if he was any judge, it wouldn't be the last. Watari had estimated a week for a complete recovery, about three days for the poison to run its course.
"It's all right," he murmured, stroking over the trembling form. "It's okay. You're safe, Touda's safe... it's just a dream..."
Violet eyes, glazed with fever and the echoes of whatever horror they had seen, looked into the Count's inhumanly red ones. He smiled at the child-like expression, the need for reassurance, and ran his hand over Tsuzuki's cheek.
"Get some sleep, Asato. You need to recover. Your body needs to heal."
He didn't know if the other man heard him, but the violet eyes slid shut and he felt the body in his arms slacken. Placing him gently back onto the sheets that would need changing soon, the Count sighed softly.
You're my life, he thought. My light, my reason to continue this cursed life. You came when I was close to losing everything, myself, my mind... and you brought me back. You'll never know all of this Tsuzuki Asato, and no one will ever be able to tell you. I'll protect you, what you are... what I need, just like so many others.
And he would never touch this man in a way that would blemish this light.
Another sad smile crossed the thin lips.
"In another life I wouldn't have let you off like that," he murmured and pulled up the blanket. Tsuzuki was sleeping more peacefully now. "In another life I wouldn't have been deterred by Hisoka. I would have pursued you, wooed you... but this isn't that life."
But he had also been warned not to touch this man, though he had no idea what else could be done to him by the means of punishment. This was the ultimate horror already - the loneliness.
With a last, gentle caress he rose and straightened. Slightly shaking fingers picked up the mask and looked at it.
My curse.
My punishment.
I deserve it, and I do not deserve you, Tsuzuki.
And he slipped it on, becoming invisible to the world, turning into the transparent being everyone knew. He settled back, eyes on his feverish charge, as he had done the other night before.

The night passed, turned into morning, and for the first time Tsuzuki actually woke up with some sort of conscious awareness of who he was, though he had no idea where exactly had ended up.
His memories were a jumble. Mostly of a fight, of some hellish creature, and then the pain as he was bitten. Fire burning down his veins, tearing him apart... poison... He had been poisoned.
Everything else was a blur.
Now his slightly unfocused gaze roamed around an unfamiliar room and his mind fought to remember more. But he drew a blank.
Getting up was no easy task and his knees buckled several times, the young man holding onto the massive, wooden bed, the wall, the chairs, whatever there was. He stumbled over to the door, the only exit of the room he was in, and he managed to get out into the corridor.
He blinked as his vision swam, as his body announced that he wasn't fully healed, that he required rest. He managed three more steps before his knees finally gave way and he sank onto the carpeted ground in the wide hallway, moaning softly.
Where was he?
Why was he here?
This wasn't the medical facility...
/Touda?/ he sent through the bond.
There was no answer, just silence.
It was like running into darkness. Not the familiar, cool darkness of his serpent shikigami's presence. This was just... emptiness.
A sob escaped his throat and he curled up, flinging the bond as wide open as he was capable, frantically searching for the one who belonged to him.
Someone touched him, talked to him, and his wavering vision showed him... nothing. Just... a mask. Half a mask. The Count? Why was the Count here? And if it was really him... then Tsuzuki had to be at the palace?
"Gone..." he whimpered.
The voice was soothing, reassuring, but he couldn't make out any particular words. He was sliding back into unconsciousness, but the cold, dark place where Touda was missing was there with him, an open wound that hurt bitterly.
He looked at the fragile, vulnerable young man in his arms. Tsuzuki had surrendered to the darkness, but it was anything but helping him relax. His face showed his pain, and when he had cried for Touda, the Count's stomach had clenched in realization what it meant.
"The poison is still disrupting your system," he murmured, carding his fingers through the tousled hair. "The healing process has to run its course."
He sighed a little as he rose, taking the too light form with him. Tsuzuki's body was burning up energy and the little he had managed to feed him wasn't enough.
"Do you require more soup?" a gravelly voice asked.
The Count looked down on his only companion in this prison, nodding a little. "Yes, Watson. Make it a strong one. He needs it."
The dwarfish, inhuman creature waddled off and the Count carried his patient back to bed. It didn't take long for Watson to arrive with the strong broth, which he placed on the nightstand.
The Count rested his chin on his folded hands, looking at Tsuzuki, mind going through so many memories.
They had entrusted him with this special person's care because no one else could come close. All shinigami were susceptible to the poison leaking out Tsuzuki's pores. He was no shinigami, and neither was Watson. They were immune.
They trust me to take care of you, he thought. They trust me not to harm you. As if I ever could, Asato. I would never lay a hand on you, whatever perverted pleasure I seek otherwise.
And he had sought many in his damned existence. He had distracted himself with many things, had done what others would call sick and perverted. It was what had convinced him sometimes that he was still alive, that he could still feel. Watson never judged; he was still here, still served, was the only one to talk to when the days grew too long to bear.
"Even if you had given yourself to me willingly," the Count whispered, "I could never ask of you to share this curse with me, Asato. Because you'd be trapped in my misery, my pain. You don't deserve this. Not you."
No one did. He was serving his eternal sentence alone.
"They trust me," he murmured and reached out to touch one lax hand. "And I swear to all Powers that I will not ever hurt you."
Tsuzuki sat in the large bed, leaning back against freshly fluffed up pillows, eyes on the sunny day outside. He felt much better than the day before, of which he remembered very little. Just fragments, mostly tactile sensations of someone touching him, and of a voice. A voice that had talked to him before, had soothed his nightmares, and there was only one who could have been here, he knew. There were only Watson and him and... the Count.
Isolation. Quarantine. Until he was better, until the poison was completely out of his body.
Touda's presence was back, it was weak and wavering, but it was back. If he concentrated, he could feel the shikigami, could touch him for brief moments, and he was held fiercely throughout those temporary interludes. The more he healed, the better the link would become. Touda had soothed him, had told him everything would be fine, that he should just relax, and Tsuzuki followed that suggestion.
His mind reflected back on the voice. On the touches. On the presence that had been there for him throughout the worst nights.
The door opened and he turned his head, looking at the roughly cut half-mask floating in mid air, the white gloves covering long, slender fingers, and he knew that this man had sat with him, had been there.
"Hello, Tsuzuki," the Count said calmly. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine," he answered. "A bit tired, but fine."
"Good. If you wish for something to read, I can have Watson bring you a book."
Tsuzuki still stared at the invisible face, something niggling in the back of his mind. "No," he heard himself decline the strangely unexpected offer. "I'm too tired to read, actually."
The Count nodded, not coming any closer, not showing his usual exuberance, and there was very little suggesting that he was leering at the man who was currently wearing a simple white shirt and nothing much else. Tsuzuki had never really known the Count not to pursue him, to take every available chance to touch and make lewd comments.
"Call for Watson if you need anything," the invisible man now said, already leaving again.
"I will."
He tried to look into eyes he had never seen, gauge what was going on, but the Count turned and just left, his movements somewhat jerky and subdued from the little Tsuzuki could see.
He had never seen the man who was taking care of him.
The niggle was back and suddenly he had a flash of strange eyes, warm and caring and loving. Eyes that looked at him while ungloved hands caressed his heated skin. He looked into a handsome, young face, with black hair, unlined by age; a face that spoke of sadness, of love, and of reverence.
He blinked, staring at the closed door.
Had he looked at what lay beneath the mask? If yes... why? Why had the Count taken off the mask? In all his seventy-odd years Tsuzuki had never seen the master of the Palace of Candles for real.
Why now?
He was working; actually doing his job. As much as it was routine by now, it was a routine that was so mind-numbing that it deadened all thoughts, especially of the man still recovering within these walls. The Count stared at the names and numbers, wrote his lines into the book that held all names of the dead, all the people whose flames had been extinguished, and he wrote on.
There was a soft noise, a door opening, and he glanced up, freezing. Violet eyes in a pale, tired face met his own gaze, and he was infinitely glad that he couldn't be seen by Tsuzuki.
"Tsuzuki... what are you doing up?" he asked, thanking the Powers his voice was stable.
Looking at the young shinigami, dressed only in a simple shirt and dark pants, he tried to think of anything but the man before him. He honored his promise; Tsuzuki was Hisoka's partner and he would never touch him again.
"I was alone," Tsuzuki said softly. "And Watson's not exactly the company I was looking for. Why do you evade me all of a sudden?"
The question was direct and the Count sighed softly.
"I'm not evading you, Tsuzuki."
The angel of death walked closer, violet eyes clear and for the first time showing no signs of fever or pain. And they were harder than usual. There was an intensity the Count had rarely seen there before.
"You are. Whenever I visited before, you never let an opportunity go by to... be with me."
"You are my guest," was the firm answer. "You are sick. Your care was entrusted to me because I'm the only one who couldn't fall victim to the poison."
The violet gaze unnerved him and his hands clenched slightly.
"Which is why I thought I would have some company while I recovered; at least I had hoped you'd be there while I was awake and coherent enough, not feverish and barely lucid."
He... knew? He remembered?
An icy cold feeling shot through the Count and he felt the breath leave his body. No, he couldn't have!
"Tsuzuki... I know I left a rather... bad impression on you ever since we met, and I apologize for my behavior," the Count said, tongue leaden, feeling strangely detached by the sheer panic that the other man might have seen him. "I know you and Hisoka are partners, and I honor your relationship. My past pursuits were never meant in any harmful way... I just... it's rare I get visitors and you were such a delightful way to wile away a few moments..."
He stopped, freezing a little. Gods, why was he talking about this?
Tsuzuki's gaze never wavered. "So now you have me as a guest, for days, but you only spent time with me while I was unconscious. Why? If your claims are true you wouldn't touch me now, you wouldn't make me repay my debts."
"No more debts," he answered automatically.
It had been a game, like so much else. It had been his way of being close to his life line. He had wanted to see Tsuzuki again and again.
Both men looked at one another and Tsuzuki's face was hard to read.
"Why?" he asked softly, breaking the silence.
The Count rose abruptly, pushing away from the desk, away from the close proximity of the man he loved, though in no way Hisoka or one of his shikigami did.
"I doubt we have much to talk about," he answered warily.
"You cannot leave this place; all information comes through whatever channels you use. Your life here is... restricted." The words cut into him, delivered slow and measured. "And you want to tell me it doesn't matter if I'm here, able to answer questions, give you a bit of life from the outside?"
The Count started to tremble. "Tsuzuki..."
"I hate to be alone," the shinigami repeated his earlier statement. "I hate to be confined. I wouldn't be able to last in here, without my friends, my shikigami... Hisoka..."
The tremors increased.
"I never understood what this is for you, what this means, that this is your punishment for whatever it was you did."
You have no idea/, he thought desperately. /No one but Enma-Daiou will ever know.
"But I'm here now and I don't want to spend another hour in that bedroom, staring out the window, hoping I can get a fragment from Touda to keep me from trying to leave this place before the contagion no longer exists. Please... talk to me... don't leave me alone!"
He was in front of the younger man, touching the too pale and haggard face with one gloved hand, shushing him. Drawn to the pain, to the sheer need like a moth to the flame, he wanted nothing more than to calm the waves, soothe the pain.
"You're not alone," the Count murmured. "I'm here. We can spend the time together, as much as you're comfortable with."
A smile graced the tired features. It softened the expression, turned the man who had pierced his soul into the innocent creature that had captured his heart.
"How about some tea?" the Count offered, reluctantly severing the contact he had had with the still slightly too warm skin.
"That would be nice."
He nodded. "Sit down on the couch, make yourself comfortable. I'll call Watson."

It was how they spent the afternoon and when Tsuzuki started to nod off, the Count just accompanied him to the assigned room. He watched as Tsuzuki curled up and fell asleep, and he smiled gently. A smile that no one saw.
I know him from somewhere. I know this aura, this feeling, and it's so familiar I could scream because I can't say where from!
Tsuzuki sat in the afternoon sun, gazing into the sky. Cherry blossoms moved lazily across his field of vision, the blue sky filling the gaps between the leaves. It had been two days now that he had left the Palace of Candles, two days since he had been declared non-contagious and had been allowed back with his friends. Watari had checked him from head to toe, but there had been no ill effects left. He was healthy again, whole and healthy, and there was no lingering pain, fever or sickness.
Hisoka had been there when he had been told it was time to leave. Walking out of the palace, the massive building at the edge of the underworld, so far removed from everything else, Tsuzuki had felt the gaze of his host on him. And he had sensed the aura. Now that he was better, now that his powers were back, now that his link to Touda was strengthening... now he sensed the sadness, the pain, the longing. He had never done so before.
He had never been what he was now before.
Tsuzuki chewed on his lower lip as he let memories pass through his fever-free mind.
He had developed his abilities a lot lately, mostly thanks to Touda's bond, and he knew that what he had sensed from the Count had been real. He had noticed the aura before, but he hadn't really given it much thought after the horrifying events in the palace throughout the masquerade. The Count had helped him, had supported him in a manner that was so unlike his usual approach, he should have noticed.
He hadn't.
He should have.
Now he had.
Tsuzuki closed his eyes, felt the darkness inside him move, and he felt Touda's presence.
/What is he?/ he asked his shikigami.
/I can't answer that/ was the reply.
/He's none of us. He's not a shinigami, but I know his aura. And I felt his sadness, his need... but it wasn't like before. It wasn't as if he just waited for me to fall into his bed. And... I saw him, Touda. I think I saw him.../
/You saw him?/
/His face... I remember a face and strange eyes, looking at me... someone touching me... holding me throughout the nightmares. It was him/
/He showed himself/
/Yes. We... talked, too. It was the first time we actually did so... normally. He's so alone.../
/It's his punishment/ was the soft reminder.
Tsuzuki looked at the black shikigami and drew closer, feeling old memories of Touda's own punishment rise. He wrapped himself around the dark presence.
/I wonder what he did/
Touda chuckled darkly. /There's only one person in this realm that knows. I doubt you'd get an answer/
Yes. Only one person. Enma-Daiou... And the Lord of Hades wouldn't talk. Tsuzuki wasn't inclined to ask anyway. The last time he had seen the powerful entity had been when Enma-Daiou had initiated the bond between him and Touda, and it had been a terrifying and painful experience.
/He's only human/ Tsuzuki murmured.
/You all are/
There was movement in the outside world and Tsuzuki reluctantly drew back from the familiar anchor, blinking his eyes open. He met a cool, green gaze, a familiar expression in a young face that showed no emotions. That changed from one second to another as warmth chased away the ice, melted the mask into a human expression, and Tsuzuki smiled at Hisoka as the young shinigami sat down beside him.
"You okay?"
It was a redundant question from an empath but Tsuzuki appreciated it anyway.
Those green eyes penetrated his shields, searched for the true answer, and finally Hisoka nodded. Out of an impulse, Tsuzuki leaned forward and brushed their lips together. Hisoka hadn't moved away and now had the younger one's hand cup his neck, hold him, answer his loving contact, and Tsuzuki felt the mouth underneath his open willingly.
When he drew back, he pulled Hisoka into his embrace, snuggling against the familiar body, relaxing into the warmth.
"What did he do to you?" Hisoka asked after a while.
"Nothing," Tsuzuki answered, clearly aware of what was being asked. "He was a perfect host."
"Something's bothering you. If it isn't some perverted scheme from the Count, then what?"
He was silent for a while. "He's lonely, Hisoka. So terribly lonely. He can't leave, he cannot show himself to us... he's invisible to all and dependent on our visits. Whatever he did... whatever it was... it can't be so terrible that it deserves this eternal sentence."
Hisoka looked at him, face unreadable.
"I felt his aura, Hisoka. It was familiar, but I don't know why. And I felt his pain."
"And probably his perversion, too."
"I think I would be like him if I had been imprisoned for so long... I can't remember him not being there. He was there before Tatsumi, before Konoe, before all of us. Decades, centuries... more? Always alone, except for Watson. I think I would have lost my mind a long time ago." Tsuzuki sighed, instinctively searching for reassurance both from inside, from the bond, and from the warmth in his arms. He received both. He needed both.
"You can't change it," Hisoka simply said.
"No, I can't."
"So why do you think bout it?"
"I spent a week with the Count, Hisoka, three days of which I was out like a light because of the fever. The rest we talked. I think I glimpsed something familiar now and then... and I... I just wish I could ease his pain."
"You can't change the world into a better place."
He chuckled at the cool statement. Hisoka had always been the emotionally more controlled, the more logical and rational of them. He saw everything from outside, rarely got involved, but when he did it usually shattered him. Tsuzuki wanted to help, did get involved, and it more often than not left him hurt and bleeding inside.
Hisoka moved to straddle his lover's lap and leaned forward, capturing Tsuzuki's lips, kissing him with a depth and love the young shinigami rarely showed outside their private life.
"I love your compassion," he whispered when they parted. "I love your warmth and love and empathic ways when it comes to other souls, but you cannot change the facts."
"I know." He ran his hands over the slender back, feeling the living, breathing body under his touch.
It was like an instinct and whenever he sensed that need, that pain, he had to help. He knew he rarely could. He was an angel of death and bringing life and warmth wasn't in his job description.
Hisoka kissed him again, melting against him, bringing their bodies together, and Tsuzuki held him tightly, losing himself in the other, trying to forget what had been, knowing he never would.
Watson watched his master walk through the palace, checking the candles, his movements fluid, lithe, almost predatory. As usual. He was doing his job, but there was a new touch to his behavior.
Ever since Tsuzuki.
The presence of the young shinigami had both depressed and elated the Count. He was his life line and his bane. He was his most fervent wish and something he could never have.
Watson knew more about this man he served than any other. He knew of the atrocities he had committed in his former life, the very deeds that had brought upon him this eternal sentence. Tsuzuki would run from this man should he ever know; he would never be able to understand. Watson did understand, had seen more than anyone else, had been there when it had happened, and he had survived. His master had made him what he was today, a reminder of his past, never to be forgotten.
As if anyone ever could.
The servant turned to the table of dishes and started to clean them away. He didn't mind sharing his master's sentence, but sometimes he ached deep inside when he looked past the façade this man projected. He had gone through everything with him, had been there for the ups and downs, for the pain, the desperation, the despair and finally the perversions.
He didn't judge. He never had. That was someone else's job and it had already been done.
No ordinary man would have survived as intact as the Count had, and what he hid behind his pleasantries and his 'hobbies' was a wounded, keening soul that sought for nothing but companionship in any form given to him.
Because he could never demand. He could only beg.
Watson waddled off into the kitchen with his tray of dishes.
He could still remember the day Tsuzuki Asato had arrived in Meifu. It had been the day when the Count had suddenly changed, when he had stood on the balcony that faced toward the far away Judicial building, that was the farthest he could get from the palace. He had stood there for hours, just staring, and he had smiled.
So softly, so longingly.
Watson had been intrigued, and he had been even more intrigued when the young shinigami had come to the Palace for the first time. His master had flocked toward him like a starving man toward a buffet table. He had flirted, wooed and almost thrown himself at this young one, and Watson had watched.
"My salvation," the Count had whispered in a private moment later on. "My light, my life. Oh Tsuzuki... just a smile from you gives me more than any pleasure I could think of."
As time went past Watson began to understand. He witnessed the blooming of the shinigami's power, his gathering of shikigami, his influence on all around him, without even noticing any of it. And he saw his master change, come out of the shell that had kept the world from his torn soul. He had watched him turn toward Tsuzuki like a flower to the sun, open up, inviting him in, but he never let any of his real motivation show. He still hid.
Watson sighed to himself as he stacked clean dishes into the cupboard.
The Count would never be able to show his true self to Tsuzuki. Not the man who looked for an erotic adventure but the man who had committed a crime that he would never be able to pay off, the man who had been brought from the depths of Hell to another hell, a much worse hell.
A man who could never escape.

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