Hajime had figured out some time ago that Kurosaki could feel what other people
felt, especially if they felt it strongly. It was equally obvious, to anyone
who watched carefully, that Kurosaki didn’t have perfect control of this
‘gift’. Accordingly, Hajime had dropped a few hints about Nationals, how
many people showed up, how excited everyone got about the matches. A few
He was starting to think both his team’s self-appointed guardians had completely
Kurosaki had been fine until the matches started heating up. Now he was a bit
glassy-eyed, and swayed every time the crowd shouted. It probably didn’t
help, Hajime admitted, that they were currently watching Fudoumine playing
Hyoutei. Being in the vicinity of Atobe’s club, once he’d finished winding
them up, was probably like getting hit over the head with a hammer, for Kurosaki.
Hajime watched with scientific curiosity to see how long Kurosaki would hold
out before he fell over.
"Hisoka?" Tsuzuki murmured, putting a hand on Kurosaki’s shoulder.
Well, yes, that had been the other major possibility.
Kurosaki bit his lip, hard. "I’m not… it’s…"
Now even Yuuta and Akazawa were noticing that Kurosaki was having problems.
Hajime considered Kurosaki’s prickly pride and whether Tsuzuki would hold
off any expressions of concern because of it. Extremely unlikely, he decided.
Sure enough, Tsuzuki ignored the people around them and actually pulled Kurosaki
into his arms. Hajime was a bit surprised that Kurosaki only muttered a protest
and didn’t pull away. In fact, he even let Tsuzuki press his his head down
to Tsuzuki’s shoulder and some of the piano-wire tension eased out of him.
Of course, now he was shuddering intermittently, but that was all right;
Tsuzuki had a good grip.
Hajime adjusted a few of the assumed values in his mental equation of Tsuzuki’s
and Kurosaki’s relationship. Apparently the threshold of distress for Kurosaki
to accept Tsuzuki’s help or protection was a good deal lower than Kurosaki’s
snapping and growling suggested. Kurosaki could, it seemed, be practical
about some things after all.
"Does he need to be away from here?" Akazawa asked. Another one,
Hajime reflected affectionately, with a broader practical streak than the
casual watcher might expect. It was a good thing that Hajime wasn’t a casual
"I’m fine," Kurosaki said, a bit muffled. And then flinched as Tachibana
drove the ball past Atobe and every spectator roared. His fingers clenched,
white knuckled, in Tsuzuki’s shirt. Hajime shook his head. Kurosaki could
give Yuuta lessons in stubborn, and that was saying something.
"Excuse me," interjected a new voice. "Here."
When a complete stranger closed his hands firmly on Kurosaki’s shoulders, Hajime
braced for the explosion. He’d never met anyone as fanatical about his personal
space as Kurosaki.
The explosion didn’t come. Instead Kurosaki slumped against Tsuzuki, suddenly
breathing easily again. And Tsuzuki, who had been reaching for a pocket,
and presumably some of his ofuda, paused and looked down at his armful of
exhausted partner, wide eyed. "Hisoka?"
"It’s good," Kurosaki answered, sounding quite relieved, and pulled
himself upright. "Who…?"
The newcomer smiled as Kurosaki turned to face him. "Raziel. Pleased to
meet you. They are a little overwhelming, aren’t they?"
Everyone stared at the bright wings folding back away. Hajime simply had to
pause a moment to chuckle over the irony. Tsuzuki and Kurosaki were hanging
around St. Rudolph to guard the mortals from undue celestial influence, and
here it was an angel who managed to help Kurosaki when he was incapacitated
by a crowd of mortals. Delicious.
Kurosaki blinked a few times. "How did you know…?"
Raziel shrugged casually. "I used to get like that, too, before Zaphkiel-sama
taught me how to turn down the intensity." He looked down at the match
with obvious curiosity. "And they’re pretty intense about this."
"Are you associated with any of them?" Tsuzuki asked, cautiously.
Raziel laughed. "Oh, no. I just came to see what could possibly be keeping
all of the Great Angels here. Not," he added in a dry tone, "that
is isn’t quieter with them gone."
"It was that demon that’s hanging around Kanagawa, the one that dresses
weirdly," Kurosaki supplied, clearly regaining some of his usual snap.
"Mad Hatter," Raziel sighed. "Of course it was." He paused
and eyed Tsuzuki for a long moment. "Bet he had some fun with you."
Kurosaki bristled, and Raziel waved a hand. "I don’t play those kind of
head games, don’t worry. But my organization keeps an ear out for rumors,
and you’ve been a pretty popular rumor for a while now, Tsuzuki-san."
"Mad Hatter," Tsuzuki said tightly, "is operating under some
mistaken assumptions, the first of which is that I have any interest in that
part of my blood."
Raziel grinned. "Well, you could always join us instead."
Hajime had been wondering how long it would be before someone made that suggestion.
He nudged Yuuta to keep quiet and folded his arms, watching.
"I could what?" Tsuzuki asked, after a second.
Raziel’s mouth took on an exasperated twist. "Look, a third of the demons
are angels, or at least were. And the rest are descended from angels.
Either from the Grigori who took human lovers or from the children of Lilith
and Lucifer. The angels like to make a lot of their perfect forms, but that’s
just labwork and killing off the ‘imperfect’ ones. The children of two angels
have just as much chance of being altered by their power as the children
of demons. Take it from me." The green eyes that had been cheerful were
chill now. "It’s all the same blood in the end."
Tsuzuki looked stunned, and Hajime put a hand over his eyes. "Do you honestly
mean to say it never occurred to you, Tsuzuki-san?" he asked. Surely
that particular connection was obvious to anyone who had the most passing
acquaintance with angels and demons.
Tsuzuki just blinked at him. Hajime shook his head, ruefully.
"You’re a menace to yourself," he informed Tsuzuki. "You need
a manager. I’d volunteer out of humanitarian considerations if I weren’t
Kurosaki glared fiery death at him and edged between Hajime and Tsuzuki. Hajime
smiled his most urbane smile back and chalked up another success. What he’d
told Tsuzuki was true; Kurosaki wasn’t a challenge. He was, however, extremely
Raziel seemed to be trying not to laugh. "You, on the other hand, would
fit in very well somewhere else," he noted.
"Yes, I got the offer already," Hajime murmured.
"Mizuki-san," Yuuta said, at last, giving Hajime the look that meant
he wasn’t going to hang around in the cross-fire of one of Hajime’s games
for much longer.
Hajime patted his shoulder. "Of course, Yuuta-kun. Of course."
Raziel shook his head and turned back to Tsuzuki. "I’m not really joking,
though. The Third War upset the basic structure of Heaven and Hell. I’m not
truly surprised that the powerful ones who survived are looking for new sources
of influence and power. To be honest, I expect a major influx of human souls
fairly soon. If you want to come, the Anima Mundi will have a place for you
and your partner; and your spirits, too. Think about it." He smiled
at Kurosaki. "And good luck with your gift." He turned away, strolling
on through the crowd.
Hajime looked after him. "I think recruitment must be some kind of genetic
predisposition in celestials," he mused. "And Tsuzuki-san,"
he added, without looking back, "I think you, too, may need to choose
again. Or, perhaps, choose for the first time. You won’t have any peace until
"Is that your analysis of the situation?" Tsuzuki asked, quietly.
"Gratis," Hajime agreed. "Consider it repayment."
Behind him, Tsuzuki chuckled, and Hajime was hard pressed not to start when
his hair was ruffled. "Friends don’t give help expecting a return, Hajime-kun."
Hajime sniffed skeptically and did his best to ignore the amusement in Akazawa’s
face and the suspiciously pleased smile on Yuuta’s. Even Kurosaki wasn’t
glaring at him properly.
Honestly, some people just had no sense of propriety at all.
"Rumors," Tsuzuki muttered. "Information." He glanced at
Kurosaki. "Maybe I will think about it."