Chapter Fourteen: Shuffle the Deck:

December 4th, 2010.

“I know,” Hisoka said. “I ran into two of them in the hall on my way back to the room. They were glaring at me as I walked by.”

“I’m sorry,” Tsuzuki said.

“I’m glad you called. I’m stumped on these cards.”

His partner rose to his feet. “I’m on my way.” Tsuzuki disappeared from the bar.


Hisoka sat on the bed with the cards in front of him. He looked up when Tsuzuki appeared in the room.

“What’s the problem?” he asked. The older shinigami joined his partner on the bed.

“I don’t get what we’re looking at,” Hisoka said. Tsuzuki looked at the six cards in front of them. He turned each one over. The back patterns were black and red diamonds, rather standard-looking.

“He said we’re looking for some mark on them.”

“And we can’t call for help?” Hisoka asked.


Hisoka picked up an empty glass and looked at cards. Tsuzuki rubbed his forehead. Patterns on the front looked random. Watari could’ve helped in a day or two by now. Meanwhile, Hisoka examined the joker again. He must have looked at this card three times now.

“Nothing seems to stand out here,” he said.

“That was the first card found, right?” Tsuzuki asked.


“Hm…” Tsuzuki turned the card upside down. “See anything yet?”

“No.” Hisoka rested the glass on the center of the joker card. He narrowed his eyes as an idea came into his head.

“Hang on,” he said. The younger shinigami turned the upside down joker over again and took the glass into the bathroom.

“Hisoka?” Tsuzuki asked. He heard the faucet running at low force. The younger shinigami returned to the room with a fifth of water in the glass.

“I don’t know why I’m trying this,” Hisoka admitted.

“Okay…” Tsuzuki said as his partner walked back to the bed. “What are you trying exactly?” Hisoka sat the glass on the card.

“What do you see?” he asked.

“Huh?” the older shinigami said as he looked down in the still water. He strained his eyes and spotted something dead center of the black and red diamond pattern.

“Is that a beetle?” he asked. Hisoka took a look for himself.

“Where?” he asked. Tsuzuki used his finger to point out the tiny details through the water.

“See?” he asked. “There’s the head right there. Then the legs. And the rest of its body.” Hisoka finally saw the curving in the distorted pattern.

“Oh, I see it now,” he said. The shinigami went through the remaining cards with the glass of water. Each one yielded a small animal on the back. So far, the boys had a beetle, deer, dove, moth, crow, and a rabbit. The boys looked at the cards.

“What the hell?” Tsuzuki asked. Suddenly, his phone rang. His eyes shifted towards Hisoka.

“Go ahead,” the younger man mouthed. Tsuzuki nodded and picked up his phone.

“Hello?” he asked.

“Tsuzuki-san!” Asmodeus said. “How are you this morning?” The shinigami’s face dropped.

“You again?” he asked. Tsuzuki put his phone on speaker. Hisoka sat in closer.

“You found my mark,” the lust demon said. “Good for you.” Tsuzuki’s eyes shifted left and right quickly.

“How do you know this?” he asked.

“I’m watching you, remember?”

The shinigami looked around the room. Laughter erupted from the other line.

“I’m not in the room if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Tsuzuki gritted his teeth. “What do you want? Your voice annoys me.”

“Aw, why so harsh?”

“Spit it out already!”

“Alright. What do you want to know?”

The shinigami rolled his eyes. “What the hell is this?”

“What do you mean?”

“These little animals. What are they?”

“A pattern.”


“You have to find the right pattern with my marks.”

The boys looked at the cards on the bed. Tsuzuki thought of them laughing at him. His nostrils flared.

“It makes no sense,” he complained.

“Sure it does,” Asmodeus said. “Just think and find it.”


“Look and see. Oh and some of the cards are decoys.”

Tsuzuki’s face dropped. “Huh?”

“Some of the cards won’t fit the pattern. I won’t tell you which ones.”

Figures, Tsuzuki thought. Like you would tell us anything useful, you sick bastard!

“If you still want to talk, meet me down at the Lounge Bee down in Shinjuku-Ni chome.”

The older shinigami frowned. “The gay bar?”

“Exactly. Meet me at eight. Don’t disappoint me.” Asmodeus hung up, leaving the shinigami more frustrated than they did answering the phone. Tsuzuki resisted the urge to scream as Hisoka rested his hand on his.

“Calm down,” he said in a low voice. His partner took a deep breath and loosened his fists.

“What do we do?” he asked at last.

“What else can we do?” Hisoka asked. “We have to go and meet him.” Tsuzuki looked at him with discomfort on his face.

“I know,” Hisoka said. “I know.”

But still…