laurose8: (003)
[personal profile] laurose8
Title: Encouragement
Author: laurose8
Rating and Warnings: very G
Fandom: Yami no Matsuei
Disclaimer: Yami no Matsuei is the creation and property of Yoko Matsushita.
Summary: Hisoka ships Tatsuki

beta'd and bettered by the already harried [livejournal.com profile] pennypaperbrain
author's note: So [livejournal.com profile] seshats_prodigy shouldn't, in compunction for Watari and Hisoka, be deterred from writing her excellent Tatsumi/Tsuzuki.



Set well back in the hills, the restaurant was neither convenient nor very well run. There were pine needles between the terrace's flagstones, and in the bamboo weave of its Western style furniture. As well, the elderly wait staff were apt to give their customers rather more privacy than they usually wanted.

Not more than Hisoka wanted, though. This morning, he particularly valued it. And he always loved the view, of pine forest and wildflower meadow falling away to a distant lakeshore.

He was sure he was over his distaste for the sweet, soft smell of cherry blossom. Living and working where he did, he'd better be. But he still preferred the scent of pines.

The staff did take care to set the table as well, and as tidily, as possible. The little squares of cake were arranged on good china. Hisoka had even taken trouble to get trays figured with cranes, the symbol of faithful love. But Tatsumi had high standards.

For one thing, he was punctual. With a quick stab of dismay, Hisoka saw him stepping onto the terrace. Watari should have been here already, to back Hisoka. Hisoka had a sudden impulse to hide away the trays. It suddenly seemed Tatsumi was bound to take them the wrong way.

Hisoka had run into the fire for Tsuzuki. He could certainly do this. Even so, when he bowed to Tatsumi, he knew his gritted teeth gave him a scowling look.

“Kurosaki-kun, it was most kind of you to invite me to this tea, on your day off, too.” Most of Hisoka's days off were spent catching up on the backlog, but Tatsumi was ever one for the formalities. “It has to do with your partner, I believe?”

Hisoka bowed Tatsumi to the inner seat. When they were seated, he eyed the sweet cake with unease. Perhaps it would remind Tatsumi of the happy glutton the absent Tsuzuki liked to play, and help Tatsumi to persuade himself Tsuzuki was managing.

Which he wasn't.

Tatsumi was saying how glad he was to see Hisoka looking so well after the last stay in hospital. “Watari-san was telling me you were badly hurt.”

Hisoka bowed his head over his plate – the cake's sweet smell made him feel slightly sick – and said, “It's nothing, compared to the hit Tsuzuki took for me.” He looked into Tatsumi's eyes. Tatsumi must understand this was considered, not just a hysterical outburst arising from seeing his partner nearly ripped in two. “He wouldn't have been hit at all if he hadn't been trying to protect me!”

To the eye, Tatsumi looked unmoved, but his dark, still aura flickered. He didn't like strong emotion, and he hated seeing Tsuzuki hurt. But the mannerless lack of introductory small talk didn't surprise him as much as Hisoka would have thought. Had Tatsumi, like him, thought so much of this estrangement, that they seemed to have been having this conversation for a while? He spoke as measuredly as if he was going over an expense account. “The senior partner always looks out for the junior.”

Hisoka shook his head stubbornly. “I know more now, than when we became partners. And I can move fast when I need to. I was ducking away...I wouldn't have been hurt nearly as bad as Tsuzuki was.”

Tatsumi spoke with a business-like sort of kindness. “You don't know that. Tsuzuki's been in the field far longer than you. He has a much better idea of the risks.”

“His feelings are loud. I can't miss them. He saw the monster die with relief, but not with as much relief as when he thought himself dying.” Tatsumi had such strong feelings under the dark. Hisoka braced himself against them, and with an effort kept his voice calm. “What does he have to live for?”

That had come out more accusing than he meantit to. Tatsumi felt anger as well as grief and remorse, but the anger was less important. “He has you.”

“I'm not enough. We work well together, and he likes me, because he likes everyone.”

Tatsumi said coldly, “I had the impression you were more than work partners.”

“He was the first person to treat me as a person.” Hisoka bowed his head, so his bangs screened his eyes. “I really cared for him that way, and then...” Hisoka still didn't quite understand how his teenage crush no longer fit, but for Tatsumi, it was Tsuzuki's feelings which were important. “He's kind, and he liked being liked.” Hisoka's own shadow curled in around his ankles, like an enemy.

“And now?”

“He made his choice before he met me.” It was a relief admitting it. There had been so many times Hisoka had wondered what if. If he was a bit older, a bit more knowledgeable, a bit more Tatsumi. “You two belong - ”

There was a dizzying snap of cold, and one of the terrace flagstones shattered. Tatsumi must have deflected his strike of anger at the very last instant. He addressed Hisoka in a flat, dull voice. “Because your extraordinary insolence is on behalf of Tsuzuki, I will say this once. Anything between us is over. It was Tsuzuki who ended it.” Then he was gone with a sharp snap of air, and the shadows breathed again.

Half an hour later Hisoka was still bargaining with the restaurant's owner over the flagstone's cost. The owner was elderly, but a big man still. What the years had taken from his shoulders they'd added to his belly. Besides using his size, he tried to intimidate Hisoka with various estimates and receipts of the last repairs.

The owner was realising he'd met his match when Watari strolled in, with a swirl of gold hair and green coat, and a breezy, “Sorry I'm late. I got lost. Pavement, eh? That's a new one. You're good for us, bon. Get us out of our rut. Pay the man, so we can talk in private. I would myself, but I'm still paying for the last laboratory but two.”

Hisoka did so, reluctantly. The innkeeper went back into the inn, pleased enough over the transaction to annoy Hisoka a shade more.

Watari shook his head. “Don't spend your life worrying over a few yen. One Tatsumi's enough. That's how he got to be the miserly soul we know and love. Fretting over things he could control, to make up for things he couldn't do anything about. I suppose you didn't persuade he could do anything about..?” he broke off and his golden eyes scanned Hisoka's face. He was one person who generally read Hisoka better than was read by Hisoka. Now, all empathy heard was cool good cheer, Watari flavoured. Hisoka had read much the same from Watari when he succeeded in ushering a reluctant soul to the next life, and when he'd healed a shinigami of dragon fire burns. It was all on the surface, as always. Tatsumi's mind was a black and still lake, but Watari's the quick bright mirrors of a running stream, almost as good at hiding what was beneath the surface. He shrugged, and the little owl on his shoulder fluffed in protest. “I guess no use for that little speech I've been rehearsing, about how Tatsumi and I are going to stay friends?”

003 mumured a little coo, and flew towards the nearest dish of cake.

Hisoka asked, “What about Tsuzuki?” It had always been likelier Tsuzuki would listen than Tatsumi, to their try at mending the breach.

“Saa, all he would say was it was Tatsumi's decision, and babble about how Tatsumi was so happy with me.” Watari gave a small, elegant snort, and raked his loosening hair back into its band. Most of it promptly came out again. “As if either of us are fool enough to try for more than the occasional good night.” Hisoka couldn't help but agree. By empathy and otherwise, he'd seen through Watari's sunshine enough to know there was a will as strong as Tatsumi's own.

Still, that wasn't his problem. “Thanks for trying to help, Watari-san.” Perhaps now was the time to ask why Watari had chosen to give Hisoka, of all people, a nickname?

Watari's eyes flashed. “We've barely begun! We've tried your way. I've got lots more. We can - It's getting on lunch time, and at that price mine host owes us a lunch, at least. I'll go and order.”

He was quite some time. Hisoka needed it all, getting 003 off the cake, and then the cake off 003.

Watari reappeared with a cooler, and a frown. It disappeared when he saw Hisoka. “The old guy wants to start repairs right away. He's packing us off with a picnic, and we have to return the cooler.”

Hisoka shrugged, and prepared to teleport back to JuOhChou. 003 flew from his hands to perch on Watari's shoulder, as she always did for teleportation.

Watari said, “Hold up! We've got good picnic grounds here. He moved toward the table. “And we're only helping him by shifting the furniture.” Hisoka reached toward the nearest chair. Watari waved him back, and took out his pencil to scribble on three pieces of furniture.

Stiff legged and reluctant, the table and two chairs rocked themselves across the terrace. Each managed a teetering, tottering hop down to grass. Watari followed just behind, with an occasional encouraging word.

It was a very good picnic. The cook seemed to have chanced on all Hisoka's favourite foods.

Seated on chairs which had taken root, and were gradually growing feather-like leaves of mingled gold and green, they talked. Their talk was rambling, as were most talks with Watari. Of their friends, and books Hisoka didn't realise Watari had read, and the three worlds Hisoka knew, and others he didn't. Watari did most of the talking, except when he dived into his notebooks to write down something. 003, who seemed very pleased about something, was at her bounciest and friendliest.

When Watari concentrated, his mind flowed with bright patterns. Hisoka couldn't understand them, and he knew there were darker things underneath, but it was nice anyway. It was nice not having to be clenched against the next overwhelming wave of emotion. It was nice...As he finished his tea, he realised he was more relaxed than he had been for a long time.

Next time he would ask about the nickname.


FIN

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