Chapter Twenty-Five: Hi-Chew:

A single ray in the dawn,
The bliss of our love
Is incomprehensible.
No sun shines there, no
Moon, no stars, no lightning flash,
Not even lamplight.
All things are incandescent
With love which lights up all the world.

--“VIII” from The Love Poems of Marichiko by Kenneth Rexroth 1978

Tsuzuki looked tense for the rest of the day. He was going to be in serious trouble if he didn’t comply with Tatsumi’s demands. Tsuzuki buried his head in his hands. “Oh god,” he mumbled. It wasn’t supposed to go down like this; now they had to do the damage control. Tsuzuki sighed; he wasn’t the only one hurting.

Hisoka hadn’t said a word since this morning. The older shinigami couldn’t bring himself to look at the boy. He had no idea that Hisoka felt that way about him. Tsuzuki never saw the signs. Tsuzuki tightly shut his eyes. One problem at a time here, he thought. The shinigami lifted his head.

Right, he thought. Tsuzuki picked up his phone and dialed Anna’s number.

“Come on,” he mumbled while he waited as for the phone to ring on the other line, “Pick up!”

“Hello?” a voice asked.

“Oh good, Anna!” Tsuzuki said as he relaxed, “You’re there.”

“What’s going on?” his beloved asked. Tsuzuki paused and swallowed as he looked around the office. Hisoka left the room twenty minutes ago. Tsuzuki breathed out a little bit, but he knew that he wasn’t in the clear. He slipped under the desk with the phone to his ear.

“We got a problem,” the shinigami whispered.

“Why? What’s wrong?” Anna asked.

“Our secret is out,” he whispered in a quick tone.

“What?” his beloved asked “How?” Tsuzuki frowned as he prepared to tell her the worst.

“That bounty hunter told on us to Tatsumi,” he said, “And…”

“Go on,” Anna said. Her lover paused before spilling it out.

“He’s given us three days to break up,” he whispered. The shinigami began to fear the worst when she didn’t respond. Please don’t be angry with me, he thought. To his surprise, Anna didn’t get angry.

“Oh,” she spoke softly on the other line, “What should we do?” Tsuzuki closed his mouth for a pregnant pause. He hadn’t planned that far. Tsuzuki bit his lip as he looked around from under the desk. No one in sight still, but instinct told him to wrap up the phone call right now. He looked back at the phone.

“Look Anna-chan,” Tsuzuki whispered, “We’ll talk about this tonight, okay?”

“Okay,” his girl said back, “I’ll see you tonight. I love you.”

“Love you,” Tsuzuki said before they hung up. The shinigami crawled out from under the desk and tried to go back to work.

Anna lied back on her futon back at Kimoto Manor, holding the phone to her chest. Was the end here already? Anna tightly shut her eyes as her grip tightened around the receiver.

Is this how it’s going to be in my life?, she thought, People get so close to me and end up leaving me? Will Asato-kun be like Papa in the end? Anna clinched her teeth and other fist.

No!, she thought, I’m tired of isolating myself! We’ve gotten too close to end it now! Anna ripped open her eyes and sat up on her futon. Her heart raced as she mentally prepared for a battle. It took ten years for her to finally start to heal and stopping would not do.

Okay then, I will fight, she thought. They just had to talk about what to do next tonight. Until then, Anna tried to find something to do. Right, the woman thought. She got off the futon and went over to her laptop.