Chapter Twenty-Four: Never Let Go:

Tsuzuki found Hisoka face down and passed out in the hallway to the professor's lounge.

"Hisoka!" he whispered as he shook him. "Hisoka! Hisoka!" The younger shinigami moved a bit under him. Tsuzuki sat back and breathed out.

"Good," he muttered. "Good."

"Who's there?" the man heard someone ask. Tsuzuki froze. Oh crap! The shinigami grabbed his partner and teleported away as soon as he heard footsteps. He took Hisoka straight to the infirmary and pounded on the door.

"Watari!" he called. "I need you help!" The door slid open and Watari poked his head out.

"Yes?" he asked. The scientist looked down and saw Hisoka. "What the hell?"

"Please help him," Tsuzuki pleaded.

"Okay," his friend said. "Just give him here." Tsuzuki handed Hisoka over into Watari's care. The shinigami waited in the hallway for twenty minutes. He lifted his head when he heard the door open. Watari stood waiting.

"How is he?" Tsuzuki asked. His friend smiled.

"He's fine," he replied. "Hisoka's resting right now."

"Can I see him now?" Tsuzuki asked, breathing in relief.

"Sure," Watari said. He moved aside and let his colleague in. Hisoka slept bandaged up in one of the beds near the window. He looked so angelic in the moonlight. Tsuzuki walked over to his side and knelt down to his ear.

"I just want to say that I'm glad you're okay and I'm sorry if I hurt you," he whispered. He pushed aside the hair from the boy's closed eyes. "I'll call you in the morning," he whispered. He patted the boy on the head before leaving. Tsuzuki had another issue to resolve.


 The shinigami came home later that evening. "Anna," he whispered as he poked his head into the doorway. "Are you still up?" The shinigami took off his shoes and went inside. "Anna, Anna."

"I'm right here," she replied in the dark. Tsuzuki looked and found his wife on the couch waiting for him already dressed for bed.

"Oh," he said. "You didn't have to wait up for me."

"Had to," she said. "I can't sleep."

"I see." Tsuzuki took a few steps forward. "I have to know something."

His wife eyed him. "What is it?"

He took hold of her hands. "Tell me right now. Tell me that you'll stay by my side not matter what. Just say it."


"Say it."

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Please say it!" the shinigami pleaded. Anna looked down at his hands.

"Alright," she said. "I will stay with you."

"No matter what?" Tsuzuki asked.

"No matter what," she repeated. He looked at her with big eyes.

"That's all I wanted to hear," he murmured. The shinigami leaned in and kissed her on the lips. Anna lightly pushed him off.

"Are you okay with this?" she asked.

"Please?" he asked.

"But I could drain you again."

"I don't care."


"Please�� He closed the distance between with another kiss. He wouldn't give her the chance to argue. Tsuzuki led her back to their bedroom. Anna fell back on the futon, looking up. Her husband climbed over her. She didn't say a word as he slid off her black pajama top.

"I don't want to hurt you," she said.

"I don't care about that," he said. "I need you now." He loosened his tie and threw it aside. He leaned down and kissed her. Anna threw her arms around his neck. He reached under and unbuttoned his jacket. We shouldn't do this, Anna thought. Yet, she couldn't reach him. His need blocked out logic. Tsuzuki slipped from under her grip and sat up. He discarded his jacket and shirt. He chuckled at her pink cheeks. The man knelt down and gave her another kiss. His mouth trailed down to her throat. He took in the whimpers from his wife's lips. The sound only made him hungrier.

Tsuzuki reached down and slid down his wife's brown pajama bottoms. Anna bit hew lower lip as his warm hands touched her thighs. Protesting wasn't an option anymore. She inched forward and unzipped his trousers. Tsuzuki gladly let her strip the rest of his clothes off. It didn't take long for lacy white panties to join the rest of clutter.


The priest came out into the moonlit field outside the temple. He followed a bird-like song to the place. The voice itself sounded familiar and put a strong sense of calm in his heart. The priest came to forest of cherry trees. Through the swirling pink blossoms he found his goddess, Konohanasakuya-hime. Her youthful beauty awoke butterflies in his soul, but a pit of sorrow also stirred within him.

"What's the matter?" the goddess asked. The priest knelt before her.

"Forgive me, my goddess," he said. "Your beauty makes me weep." He couldn't bear to bring himself to look upon the pinkish white bridal kimono she wore tonight.

"Why is that?" Konohana asked. The priest wiped the tears from his eyes.

"You will forever stay young and beautiful," he said. "But me? I'll just be a shriveled up old man and die." The priest lifted his head. "My goddess, I only ask this of you: Please let me stay by your side until then. That would make me happy. Please?" The cherry blossom goddess walked forward and rested her hand on top of his head.

"Goddess�" he whispered. She didn't part her lips. You don't need to speak, Konohana said in his mind. I will stay with you. The priest's eyes lit up with joy. He bowed his head again.

"Thank you, Konohana-sama!" he said aloud.

Come in with the woods with me, she said in his head. The cherry blossom goddess removed her hand and turned to the thick, dead trees. The priest could see her back through her kimono as she walked. Such smooth, milky pale, bare skin drew in his attention. Before he knew it, he found himself following close behind through the dead, dry trees.


Tsuzuki slept soundly beside his wide awake wife.