Karmic Ocean Dried Up
by Rana Eros

Wren, Eliza, and Boni did beta duty for this one. Thank you, ladies. Thank you to all my betas. This series would not be readable if it weren't for all of you. Sixth and last in the Some Blissful Dream series. This one is for my betas and for Anna.

There's no place like this in the living world, at least none that Tsuzuki knows of. The sand is so soft and the water so inviting, that he only has to plead a little to get Hisoka to put down his book and come walk in the surf, the sea sucking gently around their ankles. They climb a gentle fall of rocks, and find a tidal pool on the other side, full of small and colorful life. Tsuzuki tries to reach in and pet a sea urchin, but Hisoka grabs his wrist.

"Baka," Hisoka says. "There are jellyfish in there, don't you see them? They would sting you."

"Oh." Tsuzuki sees them well enough, and the knowing fondness in Hisoka's voice makes him smile. "You always watch out for me, Hisoka."

"Someone has to." The fondness does not fade.

They crouch at the edge of the pool and watch for a while, until Tsuzuki's stomach growls. Hisoka gives him one of those almost-smiles that are better than other people's grins, and they head back toward their inn for lunch.

It's strange to be able to do this, wander through an entire day without planning. He still half expects Tatsumi to appear and lecture them both on responsibility, though Tatsumi has been gone for fifty years and his replacement is too intimidated by the combined reputations of Tsuzuki Asato and Kurosaki Hisoka to do more than hand them their assignments and then stare in awe until they leave his office. It's the reaction of all the Shinigami they work with these days. Of those who worked for JuOhCho when Hisoka came to them, only Tsuzuki himself is left.

All of the Shinigami come to this place, sooner or later. Sometimes they come in twos or threes, but there is always at least one of every party who does not return.

Eighty years ago, Tsuzuki thinks, he expected Hisoka to be sent here. Muraki Kazutaka was dead, and Hisoka's reason for being Shinigami was fulfilled. Hisoka had been summoned by Chief Konoe, though, and come back a few hours later to continue his work as though there had been no interruption. Tsuzuki didn't dare ask what happened.

Now, he thinks he knows. Hisoka was given the option of moving on, and had chosen to stay as long as he could. Tsuzuki is grateful. Now he has had eighty years to prepare himself to say goodbye. He does not think he will ever be truly ready, not to let go of this partner, but at least he is fairly certain he will not make things too difficult for Hisoka.

He wants Hisoka's fondness to never fade, if that is at all possible.

They eat lunch, then move out to the inn's veranda to bask in the warm afternoon sun. Hisoka reads some more, and Tsuzuki falls asleep to the soft sound of turning pages, the occasional touch of Hisoka's hand in his hair. He dreams of the first time they kissed, the first time Hisoka shyly invited him into his bed, and he wakes to Hisoka looking down at him hungrily.

They eat dinner in their room, feeding each other tempura and nibbling sticky rice off of salty skin. Their windows face the ocean, and Tsuzuki finds its muted roar a perfect backdrop to the sounds Hisoka makes under his hands and mouth. He draws those sounds from Hisoka deep into the night. Truth be told, he never wants to stop. Even Shinigami grow weary, though, and eventually he lets Hisoka rest.

Hisoka sleeps holding onto him these days. He will miss that.

He doesn't sleep, himself, just lies awake listening to the sea and stroking Hisoka's soft honey hair. Eventually, the room starts to lighten. Hisoka stirs in his arms, then blinks a little and opens his eyes wide.

"Tsuzuki, do you hear that?" Hisoka breathes, and that's when Tsuzuki realizes there are birds crying out over the sound of the sea, and they do not sound like seagulls.

They rise, and don yukatas, and the light grows so swift and bright that it cannot be the sun. Tsuzuki thinks he knows what this is, and despite his preparations there is a tearing at his heart and moisture at the corners of his eyes. Hisoka looks at him for a long moment, then reaches up to brush a tear away.

"Tsuzuki," he whispers, then reaches down to take Tsuzuki's hand and lead him out of the inn.

There's a bridge of birds arching over the ocean when they make their way to the beach, and the water is receding under it. The birds shine, as though their wings are made of crystal, and this close it sounds like they are singing, not crying. Tsuzuki's steps slow as they approach the bridge, but Hisoka pulls him forward, and he will not lose Hisoka's touch before he must. It is not until they reach the bottom of the bridge, the first living, singing, shining step, that he draws Hisoka to a stop.

"Hisoka, wait--"

"Come on, Tsuzuki, they're waiting for us."

"Us?" Tsuzuki blinks. "But--"

Hisoka looks at him, and gifts him with a rare smile more blinding than the shining birds. "Tsuzuki, do you hear that?"

"I hear the birds singing," he says carefully, and impossibly Hisoka's smile widens.

"You could not hear them singing if they were not here for you. Tatsumi told me when he brought Watari here, and I said I would not come until they sang for both of us."

There is only one answer for that, and Tsuzuki pulls Hisoka close and kisses him, long and sweet, before he pulls away enough to answer Hisoka's smile.

"Well," he says, "what are we waiting for? Come on, Hisoka!"

"Baka," Hisoka answers, and now Tsuzuki is certain that fondness will never fade, as they both take that first step up the bridge.


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Yami no Matsuei
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