Chapter Twenty-Three: Mind Games:

Hisoka ran down to the end of the hall and scanned the darkness.

'Where did it go?' he thought. A child-like giggle caught his ear, making him dart his head forward. Kohaku floated down in front of him, giving him an innocent smile. The shinigami took a step back.

"You!" he gasped, "but� but� You're dead!" Kohaku shook his head.

"No," the child said, "I'm alive, aren't I?" Hisoka trembled.

"No� No!" he shouted as he kept backing away.


Muraki led Tsuzuki outside. The shinigami looked around.

"Alright, Muraki," he hissed. "What do you mean and why are we here?" The doctor didn't turn around.

"Why Tsuzuki-san," he said. "Whatever do you mean?"

"Cut the crap!" the shinigami barked. "How did Anna and I cause Hisoka's pain?" The doctor smirked.

"You just don't get it, do you?" he asked, causing Tsuzuki to narrow his eyes at him.

"Get what?" he asked.

"My, my, my," Muraki said. "You just can't see it."


On the other side of the school, Kohaku floated over to Hisoka. The child embraced him.

"Get away!" Hisoka hissed. Kohaku forced a kiss on his lips. The shinigami still struggled away from him and the child pulled away.

"My," it said. "You still taste just as sweet as ever, bitter, but sweet."

"Get off!" Hisoka barked. Kohaku pretended to look hurt.

"Aww, baby," the child cooed, "don't be like that!" Hisoka gritted his teeth.

"How the hell are you still alive?!" he barked. Kohaku licked its lips at him.


"He loves you, Tsuzuki-san," Muraki told the other shinigami. "He really does."

"Okay," Tsuzuki said. The doctor turned and shook his head.

"No, you still don't get it." he said. "He really loves you. Has that woman made you blind?" Tsuzuki reached for his fuda but Muraki put up his hand.

"Hear me out, please?" he asked. Tsuzuki lowered his fuda.

"Now," the doctor said. "That boy loves you, loves you as much as you love that woman. Oh, yes. Didn't you know?"


Kohaku giggled. "You summoned me, silly!" Hisoka shook his head. The darkened, cold hallway made his skin crawl.

"I didn't!" he denied. Kohaku embraced him again.

"Yes, you did," the child insisted. "You called me with your heart." The child cuddled up close to the shinigami. "You called me with your heartbreak and distress."


"It's funny, really," Muraki said.

"What?" Tsuzuki asked.

"Oh," the doctor replied, "you're fighting to save a woman you'll have to kill anyway." Tsuzuki gritted his teeth.

"What did you say?" he hissed.

"I would hope you understood that," Muraki said, "after all, she is the mother's new chosen handler." Muraki held out his hand to summon his 'pet.'

"And your point is?" Tsuzuki challenged.


"I heard your sorrow after you learned that your partner married her," Kohaku went on, "must have been hard. They're closer than ever and here you are, all alone and miserable."

"I am not!" Hisoka shot back and Kohaku shook its head at him.

"Hisoka-kun," he cooed, "Why do you still believe your own lies?" The child reached forward and stroked his cheek.

"It hurts you, doesn't it?" Kohaku pointed out. "You can't take it, can you? It tears you up inside, makes you sick seeing them together. Do you hate it?" Kohaku position itself over Hisoka and gently tackled him to the ground. The child looked him in the eye.

"How does it make you feel?" it asked. "Do you feel helpless, alone, angry, jealous?" The child smirked at the shinigami.


Muraki's blackened creature arose from the ground next to him. The doctor smirked at his object of affection.

"You know," Muraki said, "marriages to kitsune and their handlers don't end well. I wonder how yours will meet its demise with that woman." Muraki straightened his glasses.

"You and her won't last," he said, "She will die by your hands. I hope you are aware of that."

"No!" both shinigami yelled, "It's not like that! Everything is fine!" Muraki and Kohaku all but laughed.


Kohaku smirked as it shook its head.

"You poor soul," the child said. "It Looks like I'll have to make you see the truth!' Hisoka's widened in alarm.

"No, stay away!" he pleaded while Kohaku leaned downward to the prey as the darkness swallowed them both in the quiet.


"You just don't get it, do you?" Muraki asked. "A shame, really. Looks like I'll have to help you!" With one swift gesture, the blackened creature sailed towards the Shinigami. Without time to think, Tsuzuki drew out two fuda.

I only have one shot to the chest, he thought. I can't miss this! He counted down before striking head-on. The blinding impact threw the shinigami down on the ground. The dying screech the creature made as it exploded into flames was enough to give him a migraine. Tsuzuki sat up and looked around to see Muraki nowhere in sight. Damn it, where did he go?

"I'd rather enjoy your demise with that woman!" he heard the corrupt doctor's voice above him. Tsuzuki whipped his head around. Once he confirmed that the area was clear, the shinigami ran back into the school to find his partner.