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Yami No Matsuei Secret Valentine Exchange

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Happy Valentine's Day, Brigdh! [Feb. 14th, 2005|12:10 am]
Yami No Matsuei Secret Valentine Exchange


Title: This Unique Distance from Isolation
Author: ???
Recipient’s Name: wordsofastory (Brigdh)
Pairing: Tsuzuki/Hisoka
Summary: It's raining again.
Rating: PG

Tsuzuki wakes up to the sound of rain, a dim misty patter just on the edge of hearing. The room around him is filled with a dull illumination the curtains can't quite keep out. It's early for Hisoka -- not yet nine -- but the other side of the bed is empty; Hisoka's always been good at not waking him.

Tsuzuki lies there a few minutes, listening. It was raining that morning too, when --

He rolls out of bed, not bothering with a shirt. After days of being hot, the air feels good against his skin.

Light from the kitchen spills out into the hall. He hears wisps of the radio playing something with no words, and picks out the faint smell of garlic and onions. The rain outside is invisible against the low gray ceiling of the sky.

Tsuzuki waits for a moment in the doorway, watching. Hisoka is stirring something on the stove, his back slightly hunched, his shoulders rolled forward, his shirt pulled tight against his skin, hinting at the knobs of his spine.

Tsuzuki clears his throat. "Couldn't sleep?"

Hisoka shakes his head. "It was too hot."

It's probably more than that -- Tsuzuki knows better than to ask. But maybe he's being unfair, maybe it was just the heat -- Hisoka's never been able to stand hot weather.

Tsuzuki gets a bowl from the cupboard. "What are you making?"


Tsuzuki never cared much for soup in the morning, even as a child when that was all he ever had. He pulls down a box of cereal instead.

"Is there anything but sugar in that?" Hisoka offers as commentary. His tone is perfect -- detached and vaguely irritated -- but Tsuzuki knows by the way his eyebrows creep up, he doesn't mean anything by it; maybe even teasing -- although Tsuzuki wonders sometimes if Hisoka knows that's what he's doing.

Tsuzuki smiles. "You forgot the artificial colors and flavorings."

Hisoka makes that noise, a cross between a huff and a snort -- not laughter really -- and goes back to his miso. Tsuzuki reaches around him to get a spoon. The music fades away and a man with a high wheezy voice comes on and gives the weather report: rain off and on today, hot again tomorrow and tomorrow and the day after.

"You know," the powdery stuff at the bottom of the box falls into the milk and Tsuzuki grimaces. "I don't think I can ever remember it being this hot this long. Not here."

"Just my luck," is the mumble he hears from inside the fridge where Hisoka is digging around in the vegetable drawer.

"Well, there was that hot spell of '39," he adds, just to get Hisoka to straighten up and send him that curious, skeptical look over the refrigerator door; his face looks washed-out in the blue light from the fridge.

A pause, eyes narrowed, head cocked to the side. "You're making that up."

He is, but the idea's caught his imagination. "No. It was horrible." Tsuzuki spins out the story between bites of cereal. "The old air conditioning system broke -- you know the sort they still have on the second floor. And nearly ten percent of Meifu's population decided it was time to move on just to get away from the heat. There was an employment crisis! One of the lower ranking judiciary gods even died of heat-stroke."

Hisoka calls him a liar without any particular malice. Tsuzuki smiles again and doesn't bother to deny it. It's raining a little harder now, a steady murmur -- sad, as though the rain knew something of longing -- and on the radio a woman with a brittle, raspy voice sings about the man who broke her heart.

Later Tsuzuki throws out the empty cereal box. He turns around and -- nothing. Just a blank moment when he's standing in the middle of the kitchen, motionless, listening to the patter of the rain; a tight, heavy feeling somewhere inside his ribcage. It sounds so much like--

Nothing important.

He forces himself to move forward.

Maybe he'll watch some TV.

Tsuzuki's on the couch in the living room. If he turns his head he can see Hisoka in the south-facing room at the back of the house, sitting on that saggy over-stuffed chair under the window, framed by the two doorways between them.

The television's on, but Tsuzuki is hardly watching it. The sound's turned way down and he can hear the rain as it eases off, vanishing. The clouds come apart in uncertain tatters, revealing broken-up sections of pale blue. The sun burns through in long columns like nails driven through the top of the sky. Hisoka's tee-shirt looks rust-colored in the fitful, wavering light.

Less than dozen steps and Tsuzuki could be kissing the corner of Hisoka's mouth, down the curve of his chin -- the faint warmth of sunlight settling across his neck, easing down his back, tumbling around him and accumulating in his shoulders like the slow build of an unacknowledged tension. The insides of Tsuzuki's hands tingle. Hisoka's shirt is old and worn; it would be soft, he knows, against the heel of his palm as the side of his thumb, the tip of his fingers slipped over the edge and onto bare --

Hisoka turns a page. Nothing else.

His shielding is better than it once was.

The TV plays softly -- a blurry, indistinct noise -- its blue light flickers in the dim, cool room, trembling against the walls, brushing along the edges of his awareness. Tsuzuki's hands hang loosely from his wrists, huddled close together as though joined by unseen manacles.

He reaches for the remote and turns the volume up.

Outside, Tsuzuki knows, the roses are fully blown, great swelling globes ready to come to pieces at the slightest touch. The plums -- small, golden and sweet -- growing against the hot south-facing wall are ripe, wet now and shading into rotten. The grass needs cutting and there's dirt caught under his fingernails. He flips from channel to channel, but nothing's on that can hold his interest. Downstairs, the washing machine grumbles to a stop, the timer buzzing. Tsuzuki pulls himself off the couch, calls out, "I got it."

Tsuzuki's house is old and the steps downstairs are narrow. The laundry room's small and dark, little more than a converted closet. The only light is a bare bulb that slowly dims, surges bright, and fades away again and again. Tsuzuki sorts out the clothes he knows will shrink, but he's a bit careless about it, always has been. Hisoka's inherited a number of his shirts that way.

He opens the dyer, but finds there's a load already inside, rank with mildew. He must have forgotten. Tsuzuki's always been good at not paying too close attention.

The room's close and muggy and the musty smell lingers, clinging to him. By the time he's finished, the clouds have knit themselves together again into a surface of rough, uniform gray.

It feels like lunch time, or close enough.

"Hey, Hisoka, you hungry?"

Tsuzuki's standing in front of the fridge. He sniffs the milk out of habit -- there's no reason to, Hisoka is meticulous about throwing out food that's past its expiration date -- and he drinks straight from the carton. This used to bother Hisoka; now when he catches Tsuzuki at it again, he just shakes his head -- but Tsuzuki's learned to read the humor that gathers in faint lines at the corners of Hisoka's eyes.

Hisoka can never help adding that it's unsanitary, breeds all sorts of bacteria.

"Yeah," Tsuzuki laughs. "Bacteria. That's what's going to kill me."

Hisoka's hands are covered with soap bubbles, so he jabs out with a sharp, bony elbow. But his eyes fold up little.

Tsuzuki imagines the sound of laughter.

Lunch is quiet.

The plates end up back in the cupboard. The silverware's clean and back in its drawer. The empty containers go in the trash, and the afternoon slips away -- one minute pouring slowly into the next, but the hours rushing by.

Later they will have dinner -- take out from the ramen place on 12th. They'll sit at the round wooden table Tsuzuki's had since the early 30's and talk, little pieces of conversation nudged across the space between them. There'll be a pause where the only sound is a faint scrabbling on glass like a moth tirelessly knocking itself against a window.

It's just the rain.

There are things Tsuzuki means to do, but doesn't. Instead he listens to one of the old baseball games that come on Sunday evenings. It's game six of the 1974 Japan Series and the Orions still beat the Dragons. Then one thing and another and somehow it's almost midnight; Hisoka's already gone to bed. A song is playing quietly on the radio, drifting through the room -- it's a waltz, unhurried and wistful, the kind you slow dance to when you're very much in love.

Tsuzuki turns off the radio; goes around the house locking the doors and turning out the lights.

Changes -- flosses -- brushes his teeth -- turning off the tap, he pauses. It's still raining. Everything around him is silent except for that one sound, and for a second it feels like waking up that first morning after to an empty bed, sitting there for hours until the sound of rain falling softly had lodged somewhere inside him. A part of him had known this was coming, what did you expect, you can't blame him, he doesn't mean it, doesn't know...

Nothing. It's nothing at all, just a sound. He spits and washes the taste of toothpaste out of his mouth.

Hisoka's already asleep, curled in on himself, just a head of tussled brown-blonde hair against white sheets.

Tsuzuki watches him for a moment. Then he turns off the last light and climbs into bed.

In the dark the faint sound of Hisoka breathing seems louder. The wind's come up, sending the rain tapping against the windows, hesitant like a stranger lost out in the storm seeking shelter.

The wind, the rain, the sound of Hisoka's breathing blur together.

Tsuzuki closes his eyes and lies still, listening.

[User Picture]From: mistressrenet
2005-02-14 11:16 am (UTC)
So sweet and melancholy and beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-16 12:18 am (UTC)
Thanks -- I was worried about this one.

Someday I may even get off my melancholy kick, and write something not in a minor key. Ah, someday...
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[User Picture]From: mistressrenet
2005-02-16 02:48 am (UTC)
oh, but why, when the results are so good?
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[User Picture]From: wordsofastory
2005-02-14 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh my God. This is amazing. I feel like I'd have to read it a million times to get everything there is in this story, but I wouldn't mind, because it's so lovely.

And I will say more later, but I have to run off to class now. Still, wow. I am so grateful.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-16 12:26 am (UTC)
*whew* I'm so relieved you like it. You can't imagine how inadequate I've been feeling -- you had only three simple, open-ended requests and for a while I thought I wasn't going to make the deadline.

Really, this story was written on a pile of the corpses of dead and dying failed storied. I was amazed by my inability to write an established Tsusoka fic. Just amazed.

Happy Valentine's Day!
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[User Picture]From: wordsofastory
2005-02-16 04:20 am (UTC)
Oh, honey! I *love* it! You shouldn't feel inadequate at all. I adore this story so much- I've been telling everyone about it. And I'm really touched that you put so much effort into it; that means a lot to me. It turned out wonderfully, I have to assure you.

I remember now that I did leave my requests really open, but I'd meant for that to be easier for whoever got my fic. I didn't want to ask for something that you'd have trouble doing. Heh, I guess it was one of those instances where too much choice is just as bad as too little.
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[User Picture]From: boniblithe
2005-02-14 02:39 pm (UTC)
That was lovely - a quiet, ordinary day at home, but under the surface Tsuzuki's mind is still racing, will he ever feel like he actually deserves to be happy ... time will tell I suppose ... such old pain isn't easy to leave behind, but your story makes me hopeful. *happy sigh*
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-16 12:32 am (UTC)
Thanks. It's kind of sad, and a bit pessimistic, but I don't think Tsuzuki will ever really be convinced he can just be happy -- not completely. But if anyone can give him a piece of that contentment, I think it's Hisoka and what they have together.
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[User Picture]From: ranalore
2005-02-14 11:00 pm (UTC)
This is so delicately beautiful, understated and yearning and so bittersweet. I held my breath through the whole thing, it's that kind of story.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-16 12:36 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm so glad the sense of yearning came through.
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[User Picture]From: p_zeitgeist
2005-02-15 05:59 am (UTC)
This is one scary story, and I mean that in a good way.

Like Brigdh, I have the sense that I need to reread before I'll have gotten a fraction of what's here; and I'm not sure I can comment intelligently until I have. Right now I'm at the stage where all I can really think is, *wow,* with a side of, 'it's too hot in here, and way too quiet, and ohmygod this is the land of the dead, isn't it?'

But inadequate though this may be, I wanted to get it in before writer's names are revealed. Which sounds like it's going to be, any minute now.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-16 12:44 am (UTC)
Thanks. It's nice to get feedback that you know is really just about the story. And while Yami as a series doesn't have a very, well, serious view of the afterlife -- and for some characters (like Hisoka) it's fairly easy to make a case that they're better off dead (which is profoundly sad if you think about it too much) -- I still thought: they're dead. That has to mean something.
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[User Picture]From: animadri
2005-02-15 02:26 pm (UTC)
This was lovely, b_hallward. Quiet and soothing, yet bittersweet...lovely.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-16 12:46 am (UTC)
Thank you. And props to you for putting this whole thing together. ^^
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[User Picture]From: cyne_dias
2005-02-17 09:01 pm (UTC)
I'm in awe of the somewhat lyrical quality in this piece. AWE. Just, yes, lovely.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2005-02-17 10:34 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: bladderwrack
2007-01-11 07:11 pm (UTC)
First things: I found this reading back through p_zeitgeist's journal, and I hope you do not mind me commenting at this time, as some people find it creepy. And then: I am an absolute junkie for this kind of atmosphere. The rain, the static-y machinery, the pale bleaching-out and inertia, the sense of painful things buried that can only be dulled, because there has not in a long time existed the energy to remove them.

I love your words and sense of spacing.
Tsuzuki's hands hang loosely from his wrists, huddled close together as though joined by unseen manacles.

The clouds come apart in uncertain tatters, revealing broken-up sections of pale blue. The sun burns through in long columns like nails driven through the top of the sky. Hisoka's tee-shirt looks rust-colored in the fitful, wavering light.

Hisoka's hands are covered with soap bubbles, so he jabs out with a sharp, bony elbow. But his eyes fold up little.

Guh. Stick-in-your-throat perfect: the imagery, the - neatness? - of the last bit qouted.
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[User Picture]From: b_hallward
2007-01-12 03:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! And I don't mind at all; quite the contrary, it's very heartening. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it.

I must confess that I love this particular kind of atmosphere, too, whether I've got on my reading hat or my writing hat -- all suspension and disconnect and dull unresolved pain -- so it was fun, bordering on self-indulgent, to write this.
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