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On to To Raise.
NB: This is set during the King of Swords arc, when Tsuzuki accepts
Muraki's bet. There are flashbacks to and memories of earlier incidents
(both canonical and non-canonical), but the chronology ought to be fairly
clear. I've gone with the manga version of the events (thought I've added
more than a few between-the-panels moments). At this point in the story,
the manga differs from the anime primarily in that Tsuzuki does not set a
victory stake for himself. Interesting, ne? The information about Eileen
comes from a source other than Muraki in the manga.
All manga dialogue is quoted with permission from Theria's translations
One last warning: kinkiness ahead. This is rated NC-17 for a reason!
No explicit smut yet, but we all know that real sex is all in the psyche,
Prelude to a Flush in Hearts
"What game would you like, Doctor?"
"Poker." The word rolled off Muraki's lips like cognac. Like cognac, it
burned all the way down Tsuzuki's body, heating his skin. Like cognac, the
flavor was far from sweet, a flavor too complex to be entirely pleasurable
but too enticing to be forgotten.
Tsuzuki had known this game was coming. Even before the Muraki's threat
to expose him as an impostor, he'd known it was coming. From the moment he'd
looked up to see the figure in white descending the stairs, he'd known the
hunt was under way.
Knocked flat by the wine bottle crashing against his head, it wasn't pain
or surprise that kept Tsuzuki down on the floor. It was Muraki's gaze that
thrust through his chest, pinning him to the floor as Muraki inspected every
inch of the dealer's uniform, which was so much less concealing than Tsuzuki's
usual trenchcoat. Under that gaze it was so difficult to move, even to think
– to be anything other than the object of Muraki's desires. All the voices
telling Tsuzuki what he ought to do, what he needed to do, receded beneath
that gaze, becoming as empty and echoing as the sound of the sea in a shell.
Perhaps there was a part of Tsuzuki that didn't want to climb to his feet.
As he lay there, sprawled and exposed, his pulse raced beneath that gaze,
and raced still faster at the restrained smile that promised Tsuzuki would
spend a great deal of time in that position.
That part of Tsuzuki looked up at Muraki standing over him, knew precisely
what Muraki offered him, and said one word. While Tsuzuki could stop the
word from leaving his mouth, he was certain it escaped through his eyes.
"Please," it said, shameless in the desire for Muraki to keep that implied
promise. "Please. Pleasepleaseplease."
Muraki had taken his hand and pulled him up a little too forcefully, so
that Tsuzuki had stumbled into the taller man's body. Tsuzuki had been caught
by those impossibly white hands. Hands which clutched him hard enough to
draw forth bruises, and then relaxed, even caressed, becoming all solicitous
gentle support of the dazed Shinigami. Tsuzuki had whimpered at the sensation,
and again at the shame of letting free such a revealing sound before his
Always that combination of harsh and gentle, stinging punishment and encouraging
support, pain and pleasure, left Tsuzuki trembling, unable to move, unable
to speak. Even the slight hints of that treatment Tatsumi from time to time
provided-- strong fingers pinning his face, harsh words paired with gentle
fingers that brushed skin just the barest moment longer than necessary to
clean his face-- left Tsuzuki breathless. In those moments, he was barely
able to suppress the urge to collapse against Tatsumi, to wrap his arms
around the man and beg without the slightest dignity for more. All that,
from just the hint Tatsumi offered.
Muraki gave so much more than a hint.
Muraki was a murderer. He tortured people, used them, chewed them up and
spat them out. He'd done all that to Hisoka, left the boy broken in ways
Tsuzuki was only barely beginning to comprehend. Ways Tsuzuki would probably
never be able to heal.
Despite that, Tsuzuki had been unable to move away as Muraki's arm, firm
around his shoulder guided him to that small table. Weak. He was so humiliatingly
weak. It wasn't until a new bottle of wine was ordered, delivered, and approved
that Tsuzuki found the willpower to even speak.
"You're still alive," he'd said. Scarcely a declaration of war. Muraki
had even called him cute. Muraki had been amused, damn it-- or damn Tsuzuki
himself, if he wasn't already. There had been too many conflicting emotions
surging within Tsuzuki to even begin to sort them out.
Thank god Hisoka hadn't been there. It was a betrayal of the boy to feel
this way around Hisoka's torturer. Hisoka would despise him, rightly, and
that would be terrible, as Hisoka was just beginning to try investing the
slightest bit of trust in his partner. It might be a foolish trust on the
boy's part, but to shatter it would be unforgivable, and Tsuzuki's soul
couldn't handle many more unforgivable acts.
He would not let Hisoka walk up and find him this way.
That need to protect Hisoka-- that boy whom nobody else had ever protected--
had been a fire hot enough to burn away the invisible silken ribbons that
Muraki and his promises wrapped around Tsuzuki's limbs and throat.
"Stop with this nonsense! What are you scheming this time, Muraki!"
Tsuzuki could keep himself free of the snare of shameful desire and hypnotic
fascination for a few moments, at least. He'd lashed out, then, attacking
Muraki with the litany of the doctor's sins in Nagasaki.
Had it really been Muraki he was lashing at?
The question didn't really matter. All that mattered was the moment Muraki
had answered. His words snapped tight around Tsuzuki as the trap the doctor
had fashioned was sprung.
"So then...what are you going to do?"
No words would come to Tsuzuki. None. No promise to stop Muraki, no threats
of ending the doctor's life, not even a quiet declaration of his opposition
to hurting any more innocents. Tsuzuki stared at those white hands that
now caressed the wineglass, and couldn't speak. He'd tried to make the encounter
a confrontation, but somehow each defiant word only added new layers to
the seduction that Muraki was spinning.
"If I, on this ship, desire a new victim, what are you going to do, Tsuzuki-san?"
All Tsuzuki could do was keep the words from escaping his mouth. To struggle
against that horrible weakness within himself that cried, 'Make your new
victim... me. Please.'
If they hadn't come across Hisoka and that girl, what might have happened?
What might Tsuzuki have allowed without the wounded look in Hisoka's eyes
to save him? Would those words have finally escaped beyond all possibility
Now, with the cards in his hands and Muraki again before him, Tsuzuki tried
desperately to convince himself that all he'd wanted at that moment and
all he wanted even now was to make sure that no one else was hurt. That
no other innocents fell before Muraki's bloody enchantment. That was all
he'd meant, all any part of him had meant. If Muraki wanted to pick a new
victim, Tsuzuki was far from innocent and he was strong enough to survive
anything the doctor could do. That was all.
The sound of the cards shuffling through his fingers was mocking laughter
to his ears.
"Ne, Tsuzuki-san. Will you have a match with me?"
A redundant question, wasn't it? But it seemed to be Muraki's nature to
coat his most coercive actions with the politest of words. To imply that refusal
was a choice.
What sort of words would Muraki use in bed? Nothing vulgar, Tsuzuki was
certain, such coarseness was anathema to the urbane doctor. Nor, he suspected,
would the doctor raise his voice in anger or passion. No, Muraki would offer
gentle words of encouragement as he bound and struck, would offer gentle exhortations
to bear the pain and instructions to take pleasure in it because that was
what Muraki desired.
Muraki would offer commands made all the more chilling, all the more irresistible,
for the civil, almost deferential, language they would be couched within.
Oh, gods. Which was more dangerous to Tsuzuki's will-- Muraki's presence
edging into Tsuzuki's space or Tsuzuki's own imagination? Hisoka was off
with Tsubaki-hime, whom he seemed to find so very fascinating. There would
be no rescue from that quarter for Tsuzuki tonight. He shuddered, gooseflesh
spreading across his arms beneath the thin shirt.
"Not with chips, but betting something else...Wouldn't that be more thrilling?"
Against his will, the roses on the table beside Tsuzuki captured his attention.
There were so many of them, without a single wilting petal. They had been
so heavy in his hands. Had he ever received flowers before?
Yes. Yes, he had. More than once, in fact. There had been a spontaneous
gift of wildflowers from Watari, a corsage from a dance partner, and even
a single daisy given to him by a passing child because 'oniisan looked sad.'
But none of those flowers mixed petals softer than velvet with hooked thorns.
None of the givers, certainly, had brushed the flowers down Tsuzuki's cheek,
catching one of those thorns in the skin so that a single line of pain was
bracketed by all those petal caresses.
Muraki had chosen the color carefully. The blood that had painted the petals
as Muraki had spoken of Tsuzuki blossoming beautifully beneath him was nearly
invisible now. Tsuzuki remembered how he'd tried to avoid Muraki's gaze
as the man had teased tormented him with the roses, staring instead at the
petals. But there were so many, and so close, and they had made Tsuzuki
lightheaded, almost dizzy. Against his will, Tsuzuki's eyelids had fluttered
shut as Muraki loomed above him.
By the time Tsuzuki found enough outrage to open his eyes, to pull his
face away from the roses, to squeak out a protest, the scratch was healed
as if it had never been. The roses had been pressed into Tsuzuki's hands
and then placed on the table, where Tsuzuki was again staring at them. They
were still dizzying.
Muraki let his prey scurry before him for a few lazy moments, babbling
and falling and protesting. Then that feline voice pounced.
“Isn't it just a game? Are you afraid of losing, Tsuzuki-san?”
"Isn't it already clear?" The voice was a purr, filled with the sensuality
of fur rubbing against skin as well as the promise of teeth and claws.
It was just a game. Was he afraid?
Of course not. What was there to be frightened of? Muraki’s perverted stakes--
one night to do as he liked to Tsuzuki’s body? What was there to be frightened
of in that? He was 96 years old, no virgin--
...even if it had been decades since the last time he’d climaxed to
a touch beside his own...
--no stranger to the intricacies of the dance between two men--
...Eyes blurring the subdued pattern of the silk tie binding his hands
to the headboard into an infinite watercolor spill of blue, overwhelmed by
the sensation of Tatsumi. Tatsumi was thrusting into him, into the ass Tsuzuki
had offered, held raised, open and vulnerable, kneeling in a silent plea
for this very treatment. Deliberately relaxing that ring of muscle, banishing
every piece of defensive tension from his body, finding that space in his
head where he was utterly receptive to anything his lover put to him. Tatsumi’s
hands on Tsuzuki's hips, inflexible, irresistible, pinioning them so each
precise, measured stroke stabbed against that spot deep within his body.
Yes, Tatsumi was as precise and measured and perfect in this as in every
--and even if it hurt, even if Muraki took no care to avoid damage,
Tsuzuki was Shinigami. Almost any wound would heal. It was just a game.
He couldn't really be hurt. There was laughter at this thought, cackling,
too frantic, too frenzied to be mocking, laughter from someplace deep inside
...Tatsumi leaving his bed that night, too distraught even to unbind
Tsuzuki's wrists before he'd stumbled out of the room, the clumsiness of alcohol
that had abandoned him during their lovema... no, during their sex, returning
in full force. Tsuzuki had left his hands bound through the rest of the night,
the pain in his shoulders providing no incentive to move, no more than the
pain in his knees and hips had provided. He stayed locked in that pleading,
kneeling position until dawn crept into the room.
Only then had Tsuzuki shifted his hips out of the angle Tatsumi had chosen
for them; only then did he untie his wrists, fingers slow, clumsy, and prickling
with agony from the long binding; only then did he finally remove the shirt
that Tatsumi had all but torn open yet not stripped from his shoulders.
He cleaned himself and dressed. Forcing his appearance into an appropriate
state was the only apology he could make, white-faced and wordless, when
Tatsumi returned that morning. Tatsumi, who was all formal apologies, promises
of no further lapses, and a stiff request for the return of his tie.
Tsuzuki had handed the tie over with great reluctance. Tatsumi had seemed
so angry, so ashamed, of what they had done that Tsuzuki suspected the tie
was certain to be sacrificed. Tsuzuki searched the trash, even the
ashes, for that tie later, but never found a trace of it, and Tatsumi had
never worn it, or any other tie in any shade of blue again.
And Tsuzuki had taken care to never again be alone with Tatsumi during
the annual office vacation. Not for a moment, not during any of the dozens
of trips taken since... Tsuzuki knew Tatsumi had wanted that night as badly
as he had. If that craving hadn't faded in the decades between the end of
their partnership and that night, Tsuzuki thought it might well never fade.
Even that agonizing morning-after scene hadn't quenched Tsuzuki's desire,
and he didn't trust himself to resist temptation. He didn't want anyone to
be hurt again...
Still there was that mad laughter, from a part of him that did not feel
like him, but Tsuzuki had long practice at drowning it out with the constant,
overwhelming rush of the momentary minutiae of living. Say whatever else
you would about the man, but Muraki was rich in striking, even magnificent,
Holding himself elegantly, Muraki watched Tsuzuki. His pose was full of
the patience of a man who knows what is to come and finds the journey there
amusing. For a rare moment, that other eye-- wide and unnatural-- could be
seen beneath the long fall of bangs.
Muraki was wrong, Tsuzuki realized. It wasn't his own freakish purple eyes
that had the power to bewitch-- it was Muraki's eyes, with twin promises,
that captured the soul. That fearless silver eye watched, narrow and aristocratic.
The one visible eye held no doubts whatsoever-- only desire. Never fear.
Even when faced with the flames of Suzaku, Tsuzuki had seen no fear in Muraki;
the doctor's desire had only burned the brighter.
Even Hisoka had been skittish around Tsuzuki after that little display,
alarmed at the amount of power his fool of a partner could throw around. Oh,
nothing that couldn't be managed. Tsuzuki had long practice at diffusing that
kind of fear; he knew how to play the fool, play the klutz, and play the
ever-suffering victim. His lies worked so well upon his friends, keeping them
friends, keeping the fear down to a twinges of worry that only surfaced after
a particularly impressive fit. Those lies had even seduced Hisoka into remaining
Tsuzuki's partner, although the boy had been forcibly shown that Tsuzuki
couldn't protect him from Muraki.
But Muraki didn't need the lies. Muraki might be the one human being who
had some idea of what Tsuzuki could do, and didn't fear him in the least.
No... If Muraki really knew the truth, he might well be afraid. He certainly
ought to be. Yet Muraki's display of absolute assurance that he could control
Tsuzuki, could chain the unnatural power that came with those violet eyes,
was almost enough to make Tsuzuki believe him. It made Tsuzuki want to roll
over and bare his belly, beg Muraki to do anything to him just so long as
Muraki would keep him from hurting anyone else ever again.
To be able to lay down that ever-present terror would be worth almost any
cost, if the promise of control in that silver eye could be trusted.
The promise of destruction implicit in that other eye, the one Muraki kept
habitually hidden... It was that duality. Pain and pleasure. Protection
and destruction. Muraki would make him feel, would overwhelm his skin until
pleasure became pain, and pain became interchangeable with pleasure, all
spiraling into overwhelming sensation. Sensation that could silence memory.
That could overwhelm Tsuzuki's very self, leaving him a creature of instinct
and blind need.
The fear of what Muraki might do, of what Tsuzuki could see Muraki wanted
to do, transmuted into aching heat in his cock. And the knowledge that Muraki
would eventually do it called to something even deeper. If pain sang loud
enough through his body, everything else was dimmed. Guilt. Fear. Misery.
All would be subsumed beneath the kind of pain Muraki's mad eye promised.
And if that eye promised something beyond that... Ah, well. Tsuzuki had
heard the siren call of suicide before, and he could not deny that it held
a temptation still. Would it be so bad? Might everything else Muraki promised
be worth the risk?
If he gave in to Muraki-- in the end, he would get what he deserved.
What he wanted.
The words echoed in Tsuzuki's ears: "It's just a game. Are you afraid of
Oh, yes, he was afraid. But more afraid of himself or of Muraki, he didn't
want to say. Muraki was a man of his word. After one night, Tsuzuki would
be allowed to walk away.
If only he could be sure that he would be able to.
If only he could be sure that he would want to.
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