The apartment was small, a one bedroom affair with a pantry kitchen and a tiny excuse for a balcony. The hardwood floor and the brick walls were a plus, though. It was rustic in its look and belonged to several dozens of its kind in an old warehouse district that had been abandoned and later restored as a living area.
Sitting on the slightly beaten looking couch, Terazuma Hajime stared out the window, one of many cigarettes of the day between his lips. The ash bin was overflowing with the butts and he had spent more than enough money on supplying his nicotine habit in the last two weeks. They tasted terrible. Always had, always did, always would, but right now he couldn't care less.
A mug of by now cold coffee stood on the low table next to the couch, untouched. Caffeine didn't help at all. Neither did the smoking, for that matter, but he didn't stop anyway.
Sohryu had lied to him.
Those lines kept running around in his head. Sohryu had lied, had deceived him, had played him.
Terazuma stubbed out his cigarette and stood abruptly, pacing the small confines.
The shikigami had played with his emotions, had used him... and he had fallen for it. He had opened up to a complete stranger -- so not his usual behavior -- had let him touch him in ways no man had ever touched Terazuma before... and he had slept with him.
He screwed his eyes shut, gritting his teeth. It had been good. It had been so incredibly good, and the argument and protest of ‘I'm not gay' was slowly getting weaker. He was a shinigami. To hell what anyone thought of him! To hell with prejudice! He could do whatever he wanted in his private time... even sleep with one of Tsuzuki's shikigami...
Red eyes opened and blearily gazed at the busy world outside.
"Why was I so stupid?" he moaned. "Why me?"
He took another cigarette, lit it, and there was a little whine from the shikigami inside him. He was about to lash out, tell the stupid cat what he thought it could do with its protests, but then he stubbed out the cigarette.
It wasn't the lion's fault. It was his own. He had let his guard down, he had let his need take over, and for a brief time it had been so good to have someone touch him.
An image of Sohryu appeared, a tentative, quizzical message from his shikigami.
"No," he whispered. "That's over."
Another whine, but the Black One curled up, confused.
As was Terazuma. His emotions were so confusing, so strange, and he didn't like it. Sohryu had done something to him, and that was why the lie had hurt even more.
Leaning his head against the wall, Terazuma wished he could just wipe it all away, forget about those days. He couldn't. It had been too good.
So he had to live with the pain.
° ° °
Two weeks had passed since Terazuma's return from his forced vacation. Wakaba had been overjoyed to have her partner back again, but she had also noticed the changes. First of all, and most positive, was that there seemed to be a manner of more self-control. It had shown itself when she had hugged him without really thinking about it -- and he hadn't changed.
So GensouKai had worked its magic somehow, had balanced him, had started to even him out, smooth some ruffled fur. But there was also a new kind of tension and the bristling toward Tsuzuki had taken a turn for the worst. Poor Tsuzuki had no idea what was going on and he was completely clueless as to why Terazuma was even more aggressive toward him than usual.
He seemed to despise him for simply existing. Just entering the shared office was reason for Terazuma to growl and the tension rose. Verbal stabs, snide remarks and derogatory attacks multiplied. It grew worse each day and there was only a brief reprieve when one of them was on a case.
"Why don't you mind your own business, you brainless moron?" Terazuma snapped and glared at his hapless colleague.
Tsuzuki bristled. Two weeks of constant abuse had worn him thin. Very thin. Verbal sparring had taken on an even nastier touch and by now he felt the whole situation was reaching its peak.
"I would, if a certain mutant wasn't so hair bent on being in my way all the time!" he snarled back.
Terazuma bristled in turn, staring at him, baring his teeth. "Who are you calling a mutant, idiot? How about you look into a mirror first and then call other people names? I wonder why Enma took pity on you and made you a shinigami! No one else would have taken you, huh?"
Tsuzuki recoiled, feeling something inside him rise to that remark. Sore spot. Very sore spot.
"At least I wasn't stupid enough to be saddled with a parasite!" he whispered harshly.
"No, you have twelve of them! Did they take pity on you, too? Do you like having twelve personal servants, slave master?"
The darkness rose and Tsuzuki felt no inclination to control it. The hateful words hurt -- a lot. It was the accusation against his shikigami, against him, that he would abuse them, that he had enslaved them.
"We settle this now! Once and for all!"
"Yeah, why don't we! I'll show you who's superior!"
The call cut through the air and Wakaba sprinted down the corridor, placing herself between the two combatants.
"He started it!"
"You were the one who assaulted me!" Tsuzuki snapped back.
A hand curled around his wrist, pulled him back with force, and he glared at the one who dared to interrupt. Green eyes looked back coldly, a pale face set in a decisive mask.
"Tsuzuki, stop it!"
"Oh, lover-boy comes to rescue you!" Terazuma taunted.
The darkness crackled dangerously.
Something inside the furious shinigami rose, but it wasn't the power that was threatening to cut lose. It was like a weight pulling it back down, a cool, firm touch.
He was pulled back further away from Terazuma, who had Wakaba moving him in the opposite direction. Tsuzuki growled softly, then tore his hand out of Hisoka's grasp, feeling anger and an old pain swirl inside him. Touda held back the innate power that made him so dangerous, counteracting all spikes, calming the waves.
::Tsuzuki?:: the shikigami asked.
Ignoring Hisoka, he walked briskly down the corridor until he reached an intersection, then blindly just went down one way. It wasn't until he had reached one of the outmost sections of the judicial building that he stopped and leaned against the wall, inhaling deeply.
::A good summary of the situation:: Touda remarked wryly. ::What happened?::
::Terazuma happened! Over the last weeks he's been homing in on me like a cruise missile, always spoiling for a fight. Today... today was the last straw:: He sank down the wall and took a few more steadying breaths. ::Ever since he came back from GensouKai, something has changed. He's... well, he's even worse than before... Touda? What happened over there?:: he asked softly.
Okay, that had been too fast. The anger still present, Tsuzuki turned his full attention toward the bond, not holding back what he felt. And it was a lot right now. Terazuma had hit several raw nerves and sore spots. He had hit Tsuzuki where it not only stung but was pure agony.
::Do I have to come over and ask you in person or are you gonna tell me the truth?::
A sigh answered him. ::He found someone over here:: he finally said. ::They grew close. Intimately close::
Tsuzuki blinked in surprise. He hadn't expected that kind of explanation. ::Oh. Well, that's great! Uh... there are only shikigami in GensouKai.::
::So, Terazuma found a shikigami girl-friend?::
::Who is it?::
::Someone I know?::
::Ah. So, who's the lucky lady?:: Tsuzuki asked curiously, the anger almost evaporated.
::It's not... a lady::
::Ah. Okay. Well, he always had a problem with women touching him. So... a man?::
::Terazuma... and a man. Well, okay...:: Tsuzuki shrugged. ::Why the aggression then? Why me? Did they break up?::
Touda sighed deeply, shifting a little. ::Terazuma found out who the man he slept with was::
A frown ::He knew he was a shikigami, right? I mean he has to be stupid not to realize that!::
::It's not that:: was the quiet answer. ::He never knew who he was in this realm, Tsuzuki. He didn't know his position::
Tsuzuki frowned more. ::Come again?::
Touda exhaled slowly. ::If you had slept with your first male partner and then found out he's not only a high level shikigami, a Divine Commander, but also the leader of the realm you're currently in -- and a colleague's shikigami... well, I guess you'd be pissed as well::
Tsuzuki's jaw hit the floor. For a full minute his mind was torn between a total blank and shock.
::S-s-sohryu?:: he finally stammered. ::Terazuma slept with Sohryu?!::
::Well, more like Sohryu slept with Terazuma, but essentially, yes, they got together::
Another long minute of shock.
::Oh... my... well... yes...:: Tsuzuki stuttered, trying to combine the information and the image of the two men he had. ::Sohryu...::
::The big blue one, yes::
::I know who he is!:: he snapped.
Touda chuckled wryly. ::Of course you do::
Another chuckle. ::Don't tell me I've to explain to you how it works, Tsuzuki:: The serpent grinned evilly. ::Then again, I just might. Tell me, how far have you and Hisoka progressed?::
Tsuzuki flushed. ::None of your business!::
::Ah, I see. Not that far then. Maybe I've to explain it to you after all::
Laughter answered him and it sounded wonderful in Tsuzuki's ears. Despite the serious situation of before, hearing Touda laugh was something he had rarely heard before. Ever since Byakko that had changed, though.
::So... so Terazuma slept with him and because Sohryu's my shikigami, he now has a problem with me?:: Tsuzuki finally asked.
::No. He thinks Sohryu lied to him because he never told him who he is position-wise in here::
::That's stupid!:: Tsuzuki immediately argued. ::Sohryu doesn't lie!::
::No, he just withheld information. Right now, you're a convenient target.::
The shinigami sighed deeply. ::Great::
There were soft steps, announcing a visitor and Tsuzuki looked up, right into the eyes of his partner and lover.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey," Hisoka replied. "You okay?"
"Touda kick your ass for pulling that stunt?"
Tsuzuki smiled wryly. "Kinda. I'm sorry I lost control. He just... hit a raw nerve."
"I figured." Hisoka remained where he was, hands in his pockets. "Ready to go?"
Tsuzuki nodded. He got to his feet and smiled at his partner. Hisoka's eyes showed no emotions, just as usual, and Tsuzuki's did more than ever. Suddenly a slight niggle of emotions flickered through the green eyes and Hisoka stepped closer.
"We should leave for today."
Tsuzuki's eyebrows shot up. "Huh? You want to skip the rest of the day?"
"No, I want to save the others from a potentially dangerous encounter between you two idiots again."
The taller shinigami smiled and suddenly leaned down, catching his partner off guard as he brushed their lips together. Hisoka hesitated just a moment, then answered the light kiss.
"How about tea?" Tsuzuki offered. "There's this little tea house in Nagasaki..."
Hisoka smiled a little. "Tea sounds fine." He grabbed Tsuzuki's tie as he wanted to straighten and pulled his partner back down, planting a deeper kiss onto his lips. "You pay."
Tsuzuki just gave him a happy grin.
Touda rumbled appreciatively in his head. ::If you still need a little help...?:: he teased.
::Oh shut up:: was the mild reply.
A chuckle answered him, then Touda slid back into the deeper recesses of Tsuzuki's mind, leaving his shinigami to enjoy the rest of the day.
° ° °
Touda was still smiling to himself as he closed the connection between
himself and his master. Sometimes, Tsuzuki was a fountain of amusement,
but he would never take the teasing too far. He knew how emotionally vulnerable
the shinigami was sometimes. It was getting better, but old wounds healed
slowly, sometimes never at all.
Walking the empty corridors of the palace, Touda was looking forward to some peace and quiet in these for him sacred walls of Byakko's palace. Yes, by now he had his own residence, but he liked the closeness he shared with the white tiger, and ever since the new building had been raised next to the wind god's mansion, he had barely ever slept there. At least alone.
Entering the sleeping chambers, Touda felt the smile grow as he looked at the dozing figure of his partner and lover. Byakko lay naked on the large bed, the blanket draped haphazardly over the sinewy, lean form, and he had his back to the door. Touda followed the lines of the muscles down the toned back to where it met the softly-furred, striped tail. Byakko's hair was open, falling in thick strands over his back, and he had curled up in cat-fashion.
As the serpent shikigami came closer, the slender figure moved and red eyes blinked open as he turned his head. A lazy, warm smile spread over the youthful features.
"You're late today," he said softly, no accusation in his voice.
"I had a last minute crisis talk with our master."
Byakko turned fully, suddenly alert. "Is he okay? Did something happen?" Anxiety crept into the voice.
Touda shed his coat and sat on the mattress to get rid of his boots. "No, he's fine, Byakko. It was just some minor trouble."
Those red eyes narrowed briefly. "He touched his power?"
Touda nodded, kicking the shoes off. "An altercation with Terazuma. We had a talk about what happened here and where the problem lies."
"Oh." Byakko smiled a little at the thought. "Guess he was kinda surprised, hm?"
"Mildly put, yes." Touda leaned over and captured his lover's lips in a tender kiss. "He'll get used to it. Like we did."
Byakko wrapped his arms around the other shikigami, in the process dislodging the last of his blanket from his body. Touda was treated to the enticing sight of the nude form of the man he loved so much.
"It's been a long day," he murmured.
Byakko smiled. "A long week," he begged to differ.
"Uh-huh..." He kept kissing the delectable mouth, hands wandering down the firm skin, straying to the equally firm behind.
Byakko shifted into his touch, his tail twitching, and he moaned encouragingly. Suddenly he moved and Touda found himself lying flat on his back, on the bed, with the silver-haired wind shikigami straddling him. The sight was more than delicious.
"I think it's most important to make up for lost time," Byakko purred.
Touda could only agree.
° ° °
It wasn't until the Kebi case that Terazuma seemed to come around. Kebi Hara had been a young man who had fallen in love with another guy and had, because he had misunderstood several things in their relationship, killed him out of jealousy. He had then tried to kill himself, but his tattered soul had been unable to leave his body, bound to the mortal realms, living inside the house he and his lover had shared for months until Terazuma and Wakaba had put an end to his suffering.
It was right after this case that Terazuma asked his partner to send him to GensouKai. For reasons he didn't tell her, but she could guess. The Black One was coming close to the surface again, Terazuma was evading her touch once more, and she had prepared herself to tame the shikigami with an ofuda should another accident happen.
Wakaba looked into those distraught, red eyes, saw the deeply etched lines, took in the mental exhaustion, and she granted him the request.
* * *
The lake had lost nothing of its beauty. It was a dark blue, calm water that reached peaceful depth where sunlight only rarely touched it. Like fingers the light stabbed through the surface, broken by molecules, thinning out until there was only twilight. Water plants reached up from the grounds, stretching toward the surface, their thin membrane leaves almost transparent where the sun touched them. Schools of glittery, silvery fish darted away as a newcomer entered their territory.
Sleek, athletic, with powerful strokes of arms and legs, the human form swam through the underwater world. Red eyes, barely discernible as such in these depths, took in the hidden beauty of the lake waters, followed the fish as they darted toward a bunch of plants, then angled sharply to the left and followed their unseen paths through this silent world.
Nothing disturbed him down here.
Nothing entered his mind but the calmness, the peace, the distance of everything. He was alone down here, and he preferred it to the bustle of the world outside.
Terazuma swam toward the ground, then let himself drift up again to breathe in air. Shinigami had abilities that went beyond that of a human and holding their breaths for a long time was part of it. Powerful strokes took him to the shore and when he came closer he discovered he had a visitor.
A well-known, very familiar visitor.
And his body tingled.
It had been close to three weeks by now. Three weeks since he had left GensouKai and Sohryu, three weeks since he had experienced the betrayal. Now, looking at the casually dressed man holding out a robe to him, Terazuma was surprised to feel little of the initial anger. There was a longing, mixed with wariness, and the need to understand.
Sohryu. The dragon. Tsuzuki's shikigami.
At the thought of his colleague the anger bubbled up.
Yes, his main problem was Tsuzuki's claim of possession on this man.
Terazuma slipped into the offered robe and wound it around his damp body. No words were lost as both men climbed the slight incline to a spot that had been their favorite meeting place for weeks.
They sat together, not looking at each other, gazing out over the lake. It was still warm, the breeze moving the leaves of the ancient trees around them, and despite his tension, Terazuma felt the relaxing atmosphere take effect. This was a place he remembered as nothing but peaceful, as a place of learning and relaxation, of calmness and quiet. Swimming had helped, too.
"Why did you come back?" Sohryu finally broke the silence.
"Wish I knew," he snarled.
Blue-gray eyes glanced at him and Terazuma had difficulty seeing the elaborately dressed being, the statesman, in the currently simply dressed man at his side. A man he had seen in all his glory, who had touched him so deeply, who had changed so much for him. For the better.
"What's your problem with me, Hajime? That I'm the leader of my people or that I'm Tsuzuki's?"
He huffed. "Do you know how it feels, Sohryu? To find out who you are? To find out the lies behind the pretty façade? You deceived me!" he spat. "You knew who I was! I told you my story! And you conveniently forgot to tell me the little fact that you're not only a God but also Tsuzuki's shikigami!"
Sohryu met the rage with his usual calm. Like he had met so many emotional outbreaks from Terazuma. "So the problem is Tsuzuki," he cut the rant down to the core.
"Of course he is the problem! He always was the problem! That no good, lazy moron!"
A tilt of the head. "Why do you dislike him so much that it cuts into your private life?"
Terazuma glared, feeling the old anger rise. "Because of what he is! How can you serve such a lazy ass? He has an incredible power at his disposal! He is one of the strongest shinigami I ever met! But what does he do with that power? Nothing! He could be in charge of Tokyo now, but he decides to spend his time eating sweets, taking care of a few easy cases in Kyushu, and bumbling around the office! His reports... don't get me started on that! And he has twelve Divine Commanders, four of them Gods... Tell me why he has such power and doesn't use it!?"
There was a silence that stretched until Terazuma was about to launch into another rant, when Sohryu stilled him with a simple look.
"You have known Tsuzuki for close to three decades now. But still, you never got to know him, Hajime. You know little of his soul."
"I know he has power and is just too much of a coward to use it," he grumbled, chewing on an unlit cigarette.
"Have you ever felt that power?"
"You did once. In the library. We faced off against each other. Granted, it was me he called and I fought Kagankokushunkei, but we met that day. Our combined force leveled the new library building."
Terazuma looked away. He barely remembered that incident. The Black One had taken over and Wakaba had turned him back again. It had been embarrassing. Tsuzuki just sparked something inside him, a fury that couldn't be controlled. The man had such potential to do more... and he wasted it!
"Tsuzuki is strong. He conquered twelve of us," Sohryu went on. "I actually challenged him back then. I was furious at his audacity to master two gods, and I thought I could beat him. I nearly killed him and myself in turn. But he stood up against me, he remained standing, battered and broken and bleeding, he showed me what is inside that innocent form, that apparently gentle and child-like man. He beat a dragon, Terazuma, a God. He beat four of us."
He defiantly stared at the ground. Tsuzuki was a bumbling idiot, nothing more, nothing less!
"His power is lethal, Hajime. It can consume him. It eats away at his soul, wants to be unleashed, but he is afraid of killing people. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. And he could. He could level everything if he ever let go. He could destroy what we love and it would break him. There is a fragile balance inside him, maintained by a soul that is so much stronger than what you can see." Sohryu's voice was soft as he told him this. "I saw into that soul. I love that soul. I protect his innocence."
"He's an angel of death!" Terazuma growled. "His job is to take lives!"
"As is yours. Tell me, do you like it? I don't think so. All human life touches you. No shinigami is immune to it. Tsuzuki even more so. He's sensitive in a way that he built walls around him, that he lets you see what he's safe to project. We, his shikigami, have seen what lurks behind it. We see the contradiction he is, the riddle, the enigma, and we love him."
"Why are you telling me all of that?"
Sohryu smiled a little. "Because I want you to understand."
"I understand Tsuzuki very well, thank you!"
"No. You only touch the shields and you see what he wants you to see. You see a man who hasn't made an attempt to rise up the career ladder. You see a man who adores sweets, who acts like a child, like a puppy, and you wonder why he can command us shikigami. You do not see the person who died so long ago, that suffers, that tries to find stability. You do not see the darkness in him that threatens to devour him. You do not see the man who never lived, who only suffered, who continues to evade the people around him. You are challenged by him because the alpha inside you can feel the alpha hiding behind that soft façade. You can feel his challenge. And you react."
Sohryu sighed softly, sadness tingeing his voice.
"Just like me. I challenged what I saw and I failed to see beneath the
surface. Appearances can be deceiving, Hajime. Tsuzuki is compassion and
kindness and protection. He protects the souls he has to bring in, he protects
his partners and friends. He protects them from others and from himself.
You call it incompetence, slacking off, failure. I call it the greatest
strength there is. Tsuzuki loves with all his heart, he would go through
the fires of hell for his friends and colleagues, and he has.
Unconditionally. That is the man you need to find underneath all those layers."
Silence fell and Terazuma tried to wrap his mind around the words, around Tsuzuki. He knew little of his colleague, granted, but he had never tried to get to know him.
"I am his," Sohryu jolted him a little. "I am loyal to him, I love him. He is my friend. I will protect him, I will serve him, Hajime. But my bond to Tsuzuki has nothing to do with what I shared with you. Nothing at all."
He gritted his teeth. "Then why didn't you tell me?"
"Because what difference does it make who I serve? What difference does it make who I am? I came to this place to relax, and I found you." Sohryu regarded him calmly. "I liked you from the beginning, Terazuma Hajime, and what we shared was wonderful. I found you a relaxing companion and I had hoped you felt the same. If you had truly wanted to know who I am, why didn't you ask more questions?" he wanted to know.
Terazuma bit his lower lip. Yes, why? Good question. "Dunno," he muttered.
"Because it doesn't matter."
"Because of Tsuzuki."
He met the blue-gray eyes, lost. "Yes... no... I don't know any more!"
"Why did you come back, Hajime?" Sohryu asked once more.
Silence. He watched the lake, wishing he could immerse himself in its calm waters forever.
"Why?" Sohryu whispered.
"I wanted to see you again," he murmured.
"I wanted answers."
He glared at the dragon. "Because! Stop asking stupid questions!"
"Stop behaving like a pouting child. You are worse than my own children!" Sohryu replied with a little sliver or sharpness.
Terazuma growled. "I'm not a kid!"
"Oh really? Then why do you behave like another boy took away your favorite toy?" There was a seductive glint all of a sudden and Terazuma cursed his body for the tingle it sent through him at the words. "Tsuzuki is not my lover. He is my master. I love him, I serve him, but I do not bed him. You, on the other hand..."
And then he was pushed back, a suddenly very aggressive Sohryu leaning over him.
"You," the shikigami whispered, "you, I bed."
Lips met in a less than tender kiss and Terazuma dug his hands into the lush hair, giving as good as he got as two men battled for dominance of the encounter. He felt the Black One stir, growl his approval, and he fought the tongue in his mouth, pushing back. When they finally separated, neither man a winner and neither a loser, Sohryu's face radiated sexual aggression. He licked his lips and Terazuma found himself growing harder still.
He had missed this. He needed this. It wasn't... no, it wasn't love. It was need. He wanted this man and knowing who he was had sent him into a spiral of anger and rage. Sohryu was Tsuzuki's, was his shikigami, but Terazuma wanted him, too. The alpha inside him laid a claim to this handsome man.
"Hajime," Sohryu murmured, fingers playing through his hair, caressing the tips of his ears, making him shudder.
Lips met again, gentler this time, the contact deeper. Sohryu blanketed his body, he felt the warmth all around him, the hard evidence of the shikigami's desire, and Terazuma's own hands wandered over the delightfully sinewy body, coming to rest on the curve of the hip, slipping closer to the tight cheeks of his behind.
"We can stay here," Sohryu breathed, one finger teasing his sensitive ear. "Or we can continue this on a nice, large bed..."
Now that ear was licked and his nerve endings were on fire, a prickling feeling spreading over his skin.
"Bed sounds nice," he managed, groaning as that wicked tongue licked over the tip, knowing very well what a hot spot it was. "Shii-it! Sohryu!"
Sohryu chuckled and left the tortured ear alone. He kissed him again, licking over his lips. The shikigami withdrew slowly, deliberately brushing over his body as he sat back. Terazuma felt shivers race through him at the sight. Desire boiled up inside of him as he looked at the man, a Sohryu so different from the regal, imposing ruler of GensouKai he had only once seen. The image had burned itself into his mind, looking at the representative of a realm, the serenity, the majestic power. Now it was just a simple man.
No, not simple. Very much a proud shikigami, powerful and striking in his appearance.
I missed you, he thought dimly. Even in my anger and disappointment, I missed you. And I want you so badly...
When Sohryu rose he followed, catching the taller man in his arms and demanding another kiss. Desire multiplied, taking his breath away. It quickly grew out of hand, both men stumbling back against the near-by tree. Terazuma's hands glided over the firm behind, catching a moan from the shikigami, and he smiled evilly.
"Hajime... stop..." Sohryu whispered.
"Or what?" he teased.
"Or we won't make it to bed..."
Terazuma ran a firm hand over the bulge at the front of the dark pants. His grin grew.
"Just to take the edge off," he whispered hoarsely, taking advantage of the turning tables.
The dragon gasped, head thrown back, as he deftly slipped into those pants. Sohryu didn't last long. Neither did Terazuma when those wicked hands of his lover retaliated.
They leaned against the tree, Terazuma blanketing the taller man, riding out the waves of the climax.
"Now... we can leave," Terazuma murmured, nibbling at an exposed collar bone.
"Devil," was the softly whispered reply.
A gentle kiss followed and Terazuma enjoyed the loving contact, letting it soothe his electrified nerves.
"I think we need a bath first," the shinigami remarked, smiling a little.
"Definitely. How about dinner?" Sohryu asked as they stripped and walked into the lake, both unconcerned with their mutual nudity.
"Is that a date?"
A wicked gleam. "It is."
Terazuma ran gentle fingers through the long hair he loved so much, water droplets clinging to the strands.
"A date, hm?" Something jittered through him.
It sounded... wonderful.
Sohryu pulled him close, water lapping against their bodies, and he kissed his lips, his jaw, his throat. Terazuma closed his eyes, arms wrapped around the other man, enjoying the sensation of holding him, of having him in his arms, of being with him.
The lion purred in delight, lazy, stretched out in his mind, eyes half closed in satisfaction. Its emotions were clear. It approved of what had happened, of what would happen throughout the night, and it was happy.
Terazuma smiled to himself. He would never have thought that it would be important for him that his shikigami felt happy. Now it was. Very much so.
* * *
Dinner was a private and thankfully small affair. Terazuma had secretly dreaded a large banquet table and dozens of servants bringing food. As it was, they ate in the private chambers and the food wasn't a ten-course meal. It was rather simple, tasteful, and the sole servant was the headwoman who only once appeared to attend to the drinks.
Terazuma watched his lover while they ate, took in the lines that hadn't been there before he had left, and he knew he had hurt the shikigami with his accusations and his subsequent leave of GensouKai without seeing him again.
"I'm sorry," he said after a while.
Sohryu raised an eyebrow. "What for?"
"Everything. I overreacted."
"You were hurt. I understand that now."
Terazuma played with a carrot. "Well... I was... I felt like you didn't trust me, like you only wanted to use me."
"I'm not like that."
"Yeah. Like I said: sorry."
Sohryu smiled warmly, but whatever he was about to say was interrupted. There was a light knock on the door before it was pushed open and the little girl Terazuma had met before bounced into the room, followed by an older boy with blue hair -- Sohryu's son, he assumed. Tenkou beamed happily at her father, climbing onto his lap and chattering about the events of her day.
Terazuma nodded a greeting as she waved at him, sending him a flashy smile and a hello, and he simply watched how Sohryu listened to her talk nineteen to the dozen and even asked a question here and there. The boy had sat down at his father's side, answering the questions about his day far more quietly, and something inside of him stirred. Sohryu apparently was a loving father, putting everything else behind. So unlike his own...
Looking up Terazuma realized that it had become quiet, and he blushed a little when he noticed the intensive blue-grey eyes of his lover directed at him. Sohryu smiled before he returned his attention toward the little girl on his lap.
"Tenkou, it's past your bedtime already. Say goodnight."
Tenkou wrapped her arms around her father's neck and kissed him soundly on the cheek before she took her brother's hand, waved a good night at Terazuma and disappeared.
"You really love them..." Terazuma muttered, sipping at his wine.
"Very much. They are all my pride."
"Will your son follow in your footsteps one day?"
"No. He's not supposed to, if that's what you're asking, and even if he wanted to, as a wind shikigami he wouldn't be able to. He could be Byakko's heir one day. No, it's Tenkou who can become Goddess of the East. She's a water shikigami. But only if she chooses to. She's not forced to follow a path she doesn't want to go because of silly traditions."
For a brief moment Terazuma wished his own family had had that take on traditions. It would have made his life easier.
The gentle tenor drew him out of his thoughts and he looked at his lover. Sohryu stood, stretching out his hand in a silent invitation, and Terazuma took it, following him willingly into the large bedroom -- and into the large bed.
° ° °
Waking up in the middle of the night, feeling pleasantly sore in places that hadn't felt sore in all his lifetime was a relatively new experience for Terazuma. The moon was bathing the room in a bluish light, illumination enough for him to see the face of the man lying at his side. He had never seen Sohryu sleep, it occurred to him, and he couldn't help watch. The fine chiseled features relaxed, the long blue hair looking almost like a veil on the pillow, defined shoulder muscles -- a man in every sense of the word.
And he had fallen for him. He, Terazuma Hajime, had fallen for a man, was lying in his bed right now, had slept with him, and it had been good. Oh yes, it had been good. Sohryu knew a lot of tricks from the book and he had used each and every one on him, starting with a deep muscle relaxing massage with warm scented oil that had Terazuma almost melt into the mattress, followed by skilful hands and fingers turning the massage in a deeply erotic sensation and finally the lips and tongue in places where he had never even assumed a tongue would go.
Sohryu had introduced him to the ‘secrets' of male loving, but they had gone all the way only once before. This time Terazuma had felt much more at ease and relaxed, and he had encouraged his lover to take him, to extinguish the burning need he felt. Sohryu had followed his -- more or less - silent requests only too willingly, and after taking the edge off -- twice - he had finally slipped into him, cradling his body against his chest, and caressing his sweaty skin until Terazuma had screamed out his release hoarsely. Sohryu had followed him over the edge with a choked moan, buried deep inside him. The shikigami had held him afterwards, riding out the afterglow together and Terazuma had fallen asleep to the soft stroking of Sohryu's hands on his skin.
Right now Sohryu didn't look much like the god he was. Without all the robes and kimono, without all the tresses and stuff he wore when representing, without the scowl that used to appear when he was under stress, Sohryu looked young, almost ageless.
Why did I fall for you, Sohryu? Why was it that you wormed yourself under my defenses?
I'm not gay.
Terazuma stretched out a hand, slowly sliding fingertips over the soft skin he had touched often in the past, had felt sliding against his own, had even tasted.
I'm not gay ...
Blue-gray eyes regarded him sleepily, and he started.
"I'm not gay ..."
Strong arms wrapped around him, pulling him down onto the slender figure, lips met his gently.
"I love you, too."
° ° °
It wasn't unheard of that shikigami manifested in Meifu. There had been instances of Suzaku or Byakko appearing, though in a destructive manner because Tsuzuki had been about to be completely taken over by a devil. On this Friday afternoon, a tall man strode confidently through the halls of the judicial building. Long blue hair, bound into a pony tail that started high up on his head, fell down his back. The narrow face was handsome, the blue-gray eyes definitely not human with their slit pupils. He was wearing a simple white, long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers. Not exactly the outfit of a shikigami, let alone a high level one, least of all of a God and Protector.
Sohryu smiled to himself, noting the looks he got from the few shinigami still on duty. He stood out, he knew. The pointed ears were a dead giveaway, as were the eyes, and if not for that, the aura was quite outstanding.
It was no great surprise for him that when he entered the Shokan Division he was already expected by his master. Tsuzuki must have felt his arrival, one of the many little connections between shinigami and shikigami, just like Sohryu could always tell when Tsuzuki was visiting GensouKai.
The greeting was a beaming smile and he was hugged Tsuzuki-style, the young shinigami embracing him. Sohryu wrapped his arms around the slender form, smiling at the stormy welcome.
"What are you doing here?" Tsuzuki asked, pushing away to stand an arm's length away. He took in the outfit. "Oh, wow... Looks different."
"But it looks great," Tsuzuki added, still smiling. "You looking for Terazuma?"
Sohryu froze. He hadn't known how to approach the subject of why he was here. He hadn't come for a social visit and he hadn't come to see his friend.
Tsuzuki's smile warmed even more. "He's in the archives, looking for something. You'll find him there."
"I know," was the gentle answer. "Go and see him, Sohryu."
The dragon stared at him, once again surprised by the young man. He would never be able to understand him, his thoughts and actions, his whole being. Tsuzuki was Tsuzuki, and understanding him took more than a life time.
"I will. Thank you."
He was hugged lightly. "I'm happy for you."
Something inside Sohryu fluttered. It sounded like a blessing and from his shinigami it meant more than anyone could ever know.
He left for the archives after a promise to see Tsuzuki before he went back to GensouKai, whenever that was.
The archives were located a good distance away from the main office structure and Sohryu encountered hardly a soul. It was Friday and only those working a case were here. It suited his purpose because the attention he had gotten already was enough. Enma-Daiou was probably aware of his presence here and if the Lord of Hades objected to it, Sohryu would know soon enough. So far he had been left alone.
The archives were part of the library building and with it under the control of the GuShoShin. Sohryu knew the library. Well, as much as one could know the building one had been involved in destroying after the grand reopening. He smiled slightly. Tsuzuki still wasn't allowed back unless Hisoka was with him. The same went for the archives. Terazuma had apparently been let in without a watchdog because the dragon couldn't see a trace of Wakaba anywhere.
Following the large signs indicating the archives, he finally stepped into the cool, semi-dark vault. Fine-tuned senses took in the room, looking for his lover, and he smiled to himself as he discovered him not too far away. Sohryu quietly approached the man.
Terazuma grumbled to himself as he searched through the old files, looking for that one name that had so far been eluding him. The case had been simple until the moment the names had no longer fit the facts. So they were looking for a ghost, a shadow, a name that had been altered or gone lost, and the soul now associated with it wasn't the one they had been sent out to look for.
The case had no high priority and he knew he should be on his way home,
get some beer, relax, sleep in, watch TV. Monday would come up sooner than
But there was no one at home and he didn't look forward to the loneliness. He had changed; he had a lover. He missed his presence and while on a case that was usually no problem. He could live with that. Cases took all his concentration and he was on business. His private time, though... well, that was another matter.
"There you are," he muttered and finally pulled the file out of the electronic database.
He scanned over the entries, then sent it to his and Wakaba's office addresses for further actions on Monday. With that done he shut down the computer and rose, stretching stiff muscles. He hated computer work, just as much as he hated libraries. He had told his partner once that books gave him headaches and it was true.
Terazuma felt a brief tingle at the edge of his senses, but no alarms went off. The shikigami usually rose when there was danger, but apparently the lion felt completely at ease.
There was a presence and Terazuma was about to turn when a pair of strong arms slipped around his waist. He felt the warmth of the other body, smelled the familiar scent of his lover, and his whole posture relaxed into the light hold. Sohryu kissed his neck, warmly, wetly, teeth scraping lightly over the sensitive skin.
Terazuma gasped when those teeth tortured one ear and his knees almost gave way under the sensation.
Another nibble. "Why?"
"Because it would be embarrassing if I came in my pants!" Terazuma whispered hoarsely.
A chuckle made him shiver and Sohryu stepped in front of him, smiling seductively. Before Terazuma could reply he was kissed. Deeply, lovingly, with a lot of fervor... oh hell!
He wrapped his arms around the other man, holding him close, giving as good as he got. When they finally separated his braincells were wildly misfiring. Sohryu was still smiling, eyes warm.
"Hello," he murmured.
"Mhm, I like you speechless."
Terazuma forced the gray mass between his ears to work. "What are you doing here?" he stammered.
"Visiting my lover."
"But... uh... okay." Red eyes blinked, dazed. Then he discovered the outfit.
Sohryu looked... edible. Terazuma found one hand gliding over the white shirt, coming to rest on the waistband of the jeans.
"Nice," he murmured.
Sohryu smiled again, looking sex and simply irresistible. "You free tonight?" he asked.
"You asking me out for a date?"
Sohryu grinned more. "You interested?"
Terazuma leaned in very close. "Very much," he breathed.
"Good. Your place or mine?"
Terazuma nipped at the delectable lips. "My place is in the world of the living."
"Meifu is fine, too."
The kiss was proceeding, the nips and licks growing deeper, more insistent, and Terazuma found himself pushed back against the computer table. He clung to the taller form, the temperature in the room rising.
"Sohryu!" he gasped. "Not here..."
"Like I said, your place or mine?"
He looked into those loving eyes and smiled. "Well, you're here already... and there are some nice places..."
Sohryu stepped back and Terazuma straightened, trying to pull himself together. "Lead the way," he murmured.
And Terazuma did, quite conscious of the handsome man at his side as they left the judicial building. The weekend was looking better and better. Actually, it was going towards perfect.
* * *
Tsuzuki had had a while to come to terms with the fact that one of his shikigami was in a relationship with Terazuma Hajime, the very man who made his life hard and was the bane of his existence. That Terazuma had apparently resolved his problems with Sohryu being the leader of GensouKai and so on showed when his moods changed, when he left Tsuzuki alone, and Tsuzuki could finally walk into the office without the knot of trepidation forming in his stomach.
That Sohryu now also visited his lover in Meifu spoke lengths and Tsuzuki was secretly happy for the dragon. He had never known Aya, his only wife and companion, mother of their equally deceased son Keijin, but he knew that Sohryu was a person who could give love, who needed it in return, and he was a wonderful father. While he represented an untouchable façade to the outside, Tsuzuki had always managed to break through, overrun him with his affections, and Sohryu gave his love for his shinigami freely.
Now Terazuma held Sohryu's affection, too. Tsuzuki didn't know if it was love, but at least it was something along those lines. Why else would the dragon come to Meifu then? Terazuma meant something to him.
Good, he decided. It didn't mean he liked the man a lot better, but at least the possessed shinigami was tolerable now.
Sohryu dropped by Tsuzuki's office on Monday morning, surprising his shinigami who hadn't expected him to still be there. Tsuzuki had spent the weekend with Hisoka; their relationship was progressing at a pace both men were comfortable with.
"Sohryu!" Tsuzuki greeted him cheerfully.
"Like I said, I would pay you a visit before leaving," the dragon said calmly.
They left the judicial building and walked along the cherry trees, finally coming to a bench that was a bit out of the open.
"You stayed here the whole weekend?"
A nod. "Yes."
"Well, that was nice." Tsuzuki still smiled. "I'm glad you and Terazuma made up. He wasn't really in a good mood..."
Blue-gray eyes regarded him solemnly. "I made a mistake before, Tsuzuki. I won't make it again."
"So he means a lot to you, hm?"
Sohryu smiled slightly. "Yes." He tilted his head. "And you don't know why."
A shrug. "You chose him, Sohryu. I accept that. You're my shikigami, but this is your life. I've no right to demand an explanation."
"No, you don't, but I want to give you one anyway. How well do you know your colleague?"
Tsuzuki leaned back against the bench. "Well, I've known him ever since he came to Meifu, about thirty years ago. We never got along, for various reasons, and except that he doesn't insult me as much as before, that hasn't changed a lot."
Sohryu was silent for a moment. "Terazuma is lonely," he then said quietly.
"Like all of you, he died a violent death, but unlike the other shinigami here, he was forced into a partnership with a shikigami. Neither side was asked and it didn't really work well. You know that."
Tsuzuki nodded. Everyone knew that.
"Terazuma pulled away from others, refused to be touched, and soon a touch by a woman would set off the shikigami he carried. It has actually not much to do with women," Sohryu said with a mild smile. "It's more like a rising stress level. You launched his attack just like a woman's touch would. It's adrenaline and the shikigami's need to protect his master against a perceived enemy."
Tsuzuki listened curiously.
"It all made Terazuma a very lonely person. Add to that that cat shikigami are very sensuous beings and you can understand the rising frustration."
"Oh. So... it was just... frustration at himself?"
"Yes, and some other things. Terazuma didn't like his shikigami, he actually despises the act of gaining power through one, and you... well, you have twelve. You also harbor an incredible power."
"I know," was the quiet reply. "But power doesn't mean I have to use it. Power can hurt. I won't hurt anyone through my abilities, Sohryu."
The shikigami gently touched the young man at his side, running a tender caress over the pale skin. "I know. We all know. And we appreciate your control, we love you and respect you. For someone like Terazuma who doesn't have this intimate knowledge of you, it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull. He charges because he feels cheated, feels like you have so much more than him and you don't use it."
"But... I don't," was the soft protest. "You are all my friends, not my weapons. I'm not any better than all the others."
Sohryu's thumb never stopped his gentle caress. "In his eyes, you have so much and he has only something he never wanted, and you don't use it. You have a different take on your job, you are different, Tsuzuki. And I mean that in a very positive way."
Tsuzuki leaned into the touch, closing his eyes, shivering a little at the words. He had never wanted to be different; being different hurt.
"Terazuma is different as well, quite obviously even," the dragon went on. "But he never had the acceptance of himself to begin with. He never accepted the shikigami that is so much part of him. When he came to GensouKai, the lion's pain was palpable. I only wanted to help him; the rest... was almost by accident."
He smiled at the expression the violet eyes.
"Get to know him, Asato," Sohryu said softly.
"Well, I can try. I mean, you like him and you're together, so... I'll try."
The dragon pressed a close-mouthed kiss on Tsuzuki's head, smiling more. "Thank you.
° ° °
Terazuma wasn't kidding himself. His relationship with Sohryu, across two dimensions, was nothing but a way to have fun. There could be nothing deeper behind the visits to the digital world. Nothing at all.
But slowly, doubt settled in.
'I love you, too.'
Sohryu's words that night still stuck with him. And he felt something in return. He felt good when he was with this man, he felt like he had found something he had missed, and it wasn't just the sex.
He wiped the thought away. No. No, no and no.
Instead of mulling over the deepening relationship he started to try and get to know the man so closely connected to his lover. Tsuzuki Asato, his long-time, not very much respected colleague.
It wasn't easy.
Not because it was difficult to get to know Tsuzuki but because Terazuma wasn't the man to just walk up to a colleague and chat. He left that to Wakaba. And then there was their shared history. A really bad history marked by shouting matches, posturing and blowing up the new library.
No, it wasn't easy.
But over time Terazuma used his detective skills of observation, taking note of the little things, of the interaction. He began to see past the façade Tsuzuki presented and he was treated to a person that made him thoughtful. He began to see what might be the shinigami in control of twelve Divine Commanders, none of them inclined to see him as weak or unworthy.
It wasn't until the annual cherry blossom festival in the Count's palace that Terazuma actually could get a deeper glimpse, though. And the shock of his lifetime.
Like every year, the whole division had been invited and Watson had outdone himself concerning food and drinks. The atmosphere was relaxed, laughter filling the air, sometimes broken by the Count's remarks that went way below the belt. Terazuma looked around the ballroom, drink in hand, unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. Wakaba was chatting with some of the other shinigami and he had been left alone next to the buffet, indicating he wasn't looking for company.
He really wasn't.
Crowds still weren't his forte.
So when he didn't find Tsuzuki on his third and fourth sweep of the room, the former cop frowned. Hisoka was there, reluctantly enduring the Count's humor and talk, but Tsuzuki...
Terazuma prowled around the room, then finally left and passed through the ancient corridors, silent and held in twilight. The voices of the party faded and finally there was silence. His senses exhaled in relief and he did likewise. Control or no control, it was still hard.
Wandering around, letting instinct guide him, he finally found himself in one of the many large rooms that seemed to have no higher function. The Count lived alone, aside from Watson, and the palace was incredibly large. Most of the rooms were taken up by the candles, flickering ominously, but this room was strangely free of them.
A study perhaps?
It was here he discovered Tsuzuki, sitting on the broad window sill, one leg propped up, an arm resting on the bent knee, eyes on the darkness outside. He looked pale and there were signs of distress.
Terazuma hesitated and was about to withdraw when those expressive, inhuman eyes pinned him down. He froze, feeling like caught in the act. Tsuzuki tensed a little, shutters dropping, and he seemed to ready himself for a confrontation.
"Terazuma," he said warily.
"Tsuzuki," he answered, shifting the cigarette from one corner of his mouth to the other.
Both men looked at each other, sizing the other up, but Terazuma felt none of the bristling posturing he usually experienced. He recognized Tsuzuki as an equal, but he wasn't about to preen and ruffle his feathers to show off.
"What do you want?" Tsuzuki finally asked, looking away, sounding tired... upset.
"You got lost?" Terazuma simply asked in return.
He remembered the last incident in these strange walls. The candles did something to people, brought out nightmares... bad feelings... They made his hair stand on end.
"The candles, huh?"
Terazuma didn't know why he tried to make small talk. They had barely been civil before.
Tsuzuki briefly closed his eyes, then shrugged. "I just needed some time away. Don't worry. I'm not going to wreck something." His smile was false... forced.
"Good to know. But I'm not here for that. Just wondering why your partner's not picking up on you."
"Too many other emotions."
Terazuma walked closer, hands stuffed in his pockets. He finally removed the cigarette and studied the other man as if he saw him for the first time. In a way he was.
"You gonna stay here and wallow in whatever happened or you gonna go back before the rest of the cavalry arrives."
Tsuzuki gave a soft chuckle. "Since when are you my cavalry, Terazuma?"
A shrug. "You're a colleague. Can't let you get lost in this pervert's house."
That got him a strange look. And then Tsuzuki smiled. It was a warm, happy smile that completely caught Terazuma off guard. He had never been the recipient of that expression.
"I'm glad you finally found someone, Terazuma," the older shinigami said, catching Terazuma even more off guard. "He's good for you, y'know."
Tsuzuki couldn't possibly know... But it sounded like... a blessing?!
"You and Sohryu."
"What?!" He knew he was repeating himself. "How... what the fuck is going on? How do you know...!" Terazuma felt anger rise, coupled with embarrassment.
Tsuzuki shot him a confused look. "Terazuma...?"
"How do you know? How can you possibly know?!" he demanded, close to grabbing the slender man and banging him against the wall to get answers. "Is it because you're his master and they run to you telling you everything about their personal lives?!"
Tsuzuki looked clearly disturbed now. "No... Terazuma, I'm just happy you found someone... nothing else. And I know because Touda knows."
"And he immediately told you?!"
"I picked up on it." Tsuzuki shrugged. "When he gets angry, the shields waver."
Angry? Touda had gotten angry and it concerned Sohryu? The words launched a strange sensation of worry.
"Don't worry, Terazuma. Everything's okay. I mean, I think it's great." Some of the old Tsuzuki enthusiasm came back, but there was a hard little light in the center of those violet eyes that wouldn't leave.
Terazuma snorted, angry at himself and whoever else he could think of.
"I think finding a partner who accepts you as you are is wonderful, Hajime," the soft voice of his colleague penetrated the fog of anger. "It's rare and for us it's even rarer than for a human in the world of the living."
Terazuma swallowed as he looked into those firm eyes.
"We're not different from them in that regard. We want someone to be there for us." There was a little wistful smile. "Sometimes it takes more than a human lifetime, sometimes we don't see what's right in front of us. I'm just happy you're happy, that's all."
He stared at the man, confused, befuddled, surprised and amazed. "You... don't care it's Sohryu?"
A frown. "Why should I?"
"He's your shikigami!"
"I...ah..." Terazuma deflated a little and sighed. He ran a hand through his hair, tousling it. "Who else knows?" he finally asked.
"Byakko and Touda."
"No. I think it's up to you to make such an announcement." Tsuzuki smiled again and slid off the window sill.
Terazuma fell in step beside the other man as they went back to the party, glancing at him out of the corner of his eyes, thoughts still whirling.
Tsuzuki knew. About him and Sohryu. So what?
He swallowed as he felt something rise inside him, something he had suppressed again and again, and it wasn't his shikigami.
I'm not falling for him, he thought again, more desperately this time.
But something was happening. Slowly but surely. And it was getting stronger. The sudden flash of fear when Tsuzuki had told him he knew... the brief embarrassment and sudden resolve to fight the other man if need arose... and the words... the simple words from his lover.
'I love you, too.'
Wakaba was happy with her 'new and improved' partner and she was also very happy to provide him with access to GensouKai to 'let the lion feel at home'. That it was actually Terazuma who wanted to be with Sohryu she didn't know about. Terazuma would keep it his secret. Still, he felt like abusing her trust and using her as a shuttle service. There had to be an easier way to see his lover. Other couples lived distances apart, too, and...
Whoa, stop! Couples?
Terazuma froze, breath catching in his throat at the thought.
Couple... no! This was just a casual relationship, right? Just to... make him feel good.
'I love you, too.'
Lately this had come to be a problem. Lately, he was beginning to echo those feelings. Lately... lately things had complicated.
He ran a hand through his tousled hair and shook his head. He wasn't interested in Sohryu that way. Not at all!
He wasn't in love...
No... he wasn't.
His emotions begged to differ.
° ° °
Sohryu watched the man he had come to love, to admire, pace up and down his private quarters. Agitation was coming off Terazuma in waves and the dragon couldn't place the source just yet. His lover had appeared a few hours ago, clearly not coming for a social visit or something else, and when Sohryu had finally been able to get away from his duties, he had found him here.
In his most private chambers where servants were unlikely to interrupt them. Then again, the palace servants knew Terazuma by now and kept their silence as well as their distance whenever the shinigami was around. Sohryu didn't care about the rumors as to what was going on; he couldn't care less. What had surprised him was when the headwoman of the staff had brought him his usual afternoon tea and remarked how well he looked lately, how relaxed, and how the shinigami's presence seemed to do wonders to his mind-set.
Looking at the man he loved, the man he had yet to tell what he really felt, he wondered what was going on.
"Hajime, stop pacing. You're wearing down the rug," he chided gently.
Terazuma stopped, red eyes narrowing, hand clenching and unclenching. Finally he exhaled explosively.
"Sohryu, I... lately, I've felt..." He shook his head, raking his fingers through his hair. "Damn, I feel like an idiot!"
Sohryu walked toward him but the other man held up a hand, asking him to stay away. The dragon did just that, frowning slightly.
"What's wrong, Hajime?"
Red eyes looked at him with a silent desperation.
"I love you," Terazuma finally whispered. "I love you and I don't know when... when it started or why... I never planned on falling for you. I thought... it was nice... I liked it and all, but then I fell in love..."
Sohryu felt warmth blossom inside him and he smiled. "I've fallen in love with you a long time ago," he told the agitated man.
"What?!" Terazuma blurted.
"I found you interesting when we met the first time, but later, I fell in love, Hajime."
"No..." Terazuma moaned. "No! Why?"
"Why? Does love have to have a reason?"
"Yes, it does! I'm a shinigami, Sohryu! I work as an angel of death!"
"I know that."
"I was human once. I'm in the service of Enma-Daiou..."
"I'm quite aware of that fact."
"You're... you're a shikigami, a guardian spirit! Tsuzuki's guardian spirit! This isn't just... a weekend relationship! We're separated by dimensions!"
Sohryu tilted his head. Apparently Terazuma had given this a lot of thought and it had him agitated. He knew their relationship was difficult, but he had never thought it to be impossible.
"I... I can't just come home and have you there, back from work like me, and we can snuggle up and watch TV!" Terazuma went on, voice rising. "We can't just meet up for lunch or dinner any given day! I need Wakaba to get here! You don't have phone lines or trains running on a regular schedule, or any schedule at all!"
"No! I love you, Sohryu, but this won't work. I should have stopped when it became too good, when it felt better than anything I could possibly have imagined. I should have... stopped... but I didn't... I'm sorry..."
Sohryu blinked, stunned by the words. Had he just been dumped? After Terazuma told him he loved him? After he had told his lover he felt the same?
"I'm not gay," Terazuma whispered. "I'm sorry... but I'm not... it will never work..."
And then he was out of the door.
Sohryu was after him in a flash, but to his surprise he only saw an empty corridor. When he raised his eyes he saw a huge, winged lion flying away. He smiled sadly for a moment.
You learned, Hajime.
He had given the shikigami free flight to flee, and the lion, confused by his master's emotions, did just that.
Sohryu fell back against the wall, insides clenching as the lion grew smaller and smaller. Terazuma had... left... him.
And he loved him.