Not Alone in the Dark
it's the season of grace coming out of the void
where a man is saved by a voice in the distance
it's the season of possible miracle cures
where hope is currency and death is not the last unknown
where time begins to fade
and age is welcome home
--"the atheist christmas carol," vienna teng
The snow was falling thickly through the orangish fluorescent lights of the hospital parking lot, picture-postcard beautiful and forgivably cold on a perfect Christmas Eve.
Tsuzuki was thinking how much he would rather be somewhere else.
"How long will it take, you think?" Hisoka's sneakers crunched in the new snowfall, looking up at one of the many lighted windows in the hospital. He had brought coffee to share from the vending machine in the waiting room, and warmth seeped through the styrofoam cup to Tsuzuki's chilled fingers, comforting and miraculous.
"Only a little longer, I think." Tsuzuki sighed, and his breath did not fog quite as much as it should have. "I hope he doesn't hang on much more, he's already days overdue."
Hisoka scuffed his foot in the fresh snow, watching it rumple and glitter in the darkness. "It doesn't seem right."
Tsuzuki watched a snowflake land on the surface of the coffee and vanish instantly. "...Yeah."
"I went up there," Hisoka said quietly, now smoothing the snow he had disturbed, his fists rammed deep into the pockets of his jacket.
"It just makes it harder, you know." Tsuzuki took a sip of the coffee and thought of that one snowflake, swallowing carefully. "Why do you think we're not waiting inside?"
"...I know," Hisoka said. "But I wanted to see."
Tsuzuki lifted his head to the cold. "And?"
Hisoka didn't say anything, looking at his feet.
"I thought so," Tsuzuki shook his head, and checked his watch. The wind blew snow against half-hidden scars, melting on his skin. "It was snowing like this the first time I met Tatsumi," Tsuzuki remembered, his eyes going distant.
Hisoka scrubbed his sleeve over his face, glad for the change of subject. "When you were assigned as partners?"
Tsuzuki's smile was soft. "No." The wind blew around them, rumpling their hair and making the sash-ends of Tsuzuki's coat flutter wildly. "When he came to get me." Tsuzuki smiled at Hisoka's slowly comprehending face. "...You know I'm always running late."
"You mean, Tatsumi was your--" Hisoka broke off, as Tsuzuki glanced back up at the lighted hospital window. "I didn't know." Hisoka said quietly, blinking and looking away.
"I was so glad to see him," Tsuzuki murmured. "I knew it was over with. It had stopped hurting." The night seemed to listen to him, the snow whispering down as though the better to hear Tsuzuki speak. "And he said, 'Tsuzuki-san, It's nice to meet you. I've been waiting for you.' Just like Tatsumi, you know." He laughed a little, almost lost in the hush of snowfall. "Nobody in my whole life had ever been glad to see me. Nobody had ever waited for me before."
"Why are you telling me this?" Hisoka demanded, hugging himself, his voice shivering.
Tsuzuki swirled the dregs of the coffee, now lukewarm. "Because while it's hard for them to leave," Tsuzuki said, "Don't you think it's better for there to be someone here waiting for them, who knows their name and is glad to meet them? When I think of it that way, sometimes it's not so bad. Sometimes I don't even mind it."
Hisoka squeezed his eyes shut, and one drop of rain fell through the snowflakes to land at his feet. Tsuzuki slipped his hand from the pocket of his trenchcoat, wrapping his arm around his partner's shoulders. Hisoka curled against his side, shared heat in the cold air. His hair was soft and cool on Tsuzuki's cheek, his hands cold between Tsuzuki's shirt and the satin lining of his coat.
"I'll wait for you," Hisoka said, suddenly fierce, his words warm on Tsuzuki's skin. "I'll wait for you, Tsuzuki."
"I know." Above them, the window in the hospital went dark, and Tsuzuki closed his eyes, knowing they would not be much longer. "I know, Hisoka."
it's the season of scars and of wounds in the heart
of feeling the full weight of our burdens
it's the season of bowing our heads in the wind
and knowing we are not alone in fear
not alone in the dark
don't forget I love
I love you