//We're the casualties
No one tells you about us
You'll hear stories that you have to live to believe
We're the bodies
Piled up by the road side
You'll smell us burning
It'll give you bad dreams

Don't run away
We're a cautionary tale
Walk softly and take heed
Don't offer us your sympathy
You don't know what we need//

He glanced up as the door shut softly, the sound of wet shoes on linoleum unmistakable. He looked towards the window as a flicker of lightening caught his gaze, lowering the paper that he had been pretending to read. He rose soundlessly to his feet, dropping the newspaper onto the vacated couch and moving into the front hall where the other was shrugging out of a jacket, hanging it on a peg by the door, sniffing a little as the water ran down his shadowed body.
He stood watching him, just out of sight. He hadn't bothered to turn on any of the lights. He liked it dark. He was at home in the shadows, away from prying eyes. Blood and water looked the same without the light.
His partner turned, finally spotting him, and gave a little jump of surprise. "Jesus," he hissed, breathing a little quicker and shaking rainwater from the hat he tugged off his hair. "You scared the shit out of me. What're you doin' hiding in the dark again?"
He didn't answer, merely stood there, waiting.
The other man hesitated at the lack of response before shrugging it off with a little carefree grin, hand automatically going for his pocket, the click and flare of a lighter illuminating his handsome narrow face and the honey bangs tumbling down the sides and around his ears. He grinned around the cigarette already thrust between his lips, lighting the end of it, never taking his eyes from his room mate. "Ah hell..Never mind. The mission was a success, by the way. Didn't you have one last night? Haven't seen you since." He tucked the lighter back in his pocket, pulling the cigarette from his lips just long enough to exhale a lungful of smoke. He reached for the lightswitch. "You got any injuries...?"
A slender hand rose up to still his own, and he hesitated, looking down at his silent companion.
He shook his head slightly. "We don't need the light," he said quietly, pulling a little on the hand. His companion followed with little resistance, padding gracefully after the other towards the living room.
They stopped in front of the window, where the occassional lightening and the street lamps lit up the interior of the room enough to see somewhat, if you were accustomed to the darkness.
These men thrived in it.
The darkness on his taller friend's arm couldn't be hidden by the poor lighting. He reached towards it. "Getting careless again," he said coldly. "You never *think*."
"I *do* think," Yohji interrupted, snagging the wrist so that the other was forced to meet his gaze, "..Aya."
"...." The redhead stared at him silently before tugging his hand free and reaching out once more to roll up the sleeve, ignoring the intense jade gaze raining down on him as he inspected the gash on the taller man's bicep.
Finally Yohji looked away as his friend left the room to get the first aid kit. He flicked a glance towards the window as Aya returned, face its normal icy mask. "Did you have another nightmare?" he asked softly.
There was a slight hesitation in those normally steady hands as he dabbed at the wound with cotton. "What makes you say that?" he demanded coolly, putting aside the darkened cotton and reaching for the gauze.
Yohji reached up with his free hand to lift his cigarette from his lips, blowing smoke to the side because Aya hated it when he blew it near his face. It had been a fight to be allowed to smoke around him in the first place. "You were hiding in the dark again.."
"I wasn't *hiding*," he bit out quietly.
"..And you always act so damn defenseless after those nightmares of yours."
The bandages being wrapped diligently around his arm tightened suddenly, painfully, and he winced. "Ow!"
Aya glared up at him with smouldering violet eyes, expression like stone. "Watch it, Kudou." His voice was low. A warning. He finished tying up the bandages with a few rough jerks that caused his friend to yelp and flinch. Tossing the roll into the little case along with the unused gauze and cotton, he clipped it shut and made as if to put it away again.
Yohji reached out, seizing his arm, and instead of wrenching away as he had done on more than one occassion, Aya looked back at him, for once failing to hide the almost desperate look crouching in the back of those upturned plum eyes.
Yohji ignored the nagging warning in his head and carefully pulled his partner closer, never releasing the other's gaze from his.

//We're the lost that burn forsaken
Screaming just to hear a voice
A sound to fill up empty spaces
A hand to hold and still we're shaking//

"What do you want?" Aya asked quietly, hoarsely, and Yohji knew he wasn't referring to why he had held him back.
He hesitated, reaching up and lifting his cigarette from his mouth, exhaling the smoke and scrubbing the butt into an ashtray on the windowsill. Still he kept his eyes locked with Aya's. There was confusion hidden there, and fear. "Tell me what you dream about," he said, ignoring the question. "Maybe I can help."
Aya looked away immediately, face hidden in the shadows. The lightening highlighted his crimson hair. "You can't help," he said bluntly.
"You won't tell me," Yohji said grimly. "That's what you mean."
Aya didn't respond, his arm limp in Yohji's grip, his face still turned away.
Yohji heaved an internal sigh. So many nights of listening to Aya in the next room tossing and turning...going to stand in the doorway only to be torn apart inside by the muffled cries and groans of terror his partner issued. He would go over, try to shake him awake... The times that he succeeded, Aya shot up in bed, white as a sheet, shaking all over. Wild eyes would take him in without recognition, body poised for fight or flight, his heavy, panicked breathing sounding harsh on the air, and it was then that Yohji would see Fear for the first time drowning in violet. Fear so strong, that even as it was quashed moments later, it hung with the blond and never left his mind's eye. These nightmares were slowly driving his friend over the edge. Without Weiß..without being forced everyday to confront genki Omi and optimistic Ken--even free from watching Yohji flirt with girls in the flower shop that kept him sane...the absense of that that had seemed ludicrous was what was keeping Aya from finding his feet again. Sometimes Yohji wondered what would have happened to him if he hadn't convinced the redhead to let him move in with him. They were, after all, he had argued, the only two that had remained assassins after Weiß broke up. Didn't it make sense to stick together?
Besides, he knew what would happen if Aya stuck to himself and his dark thoughts too long. The marks and scars on his wrists were no accident. It had been a year since it had happened.. since she had... He stopped the thought quickly.
"You won't tell me what you dream about so how am I supposed to help you?" Yohji demanded in a hiss, and met with immediate resistance as the other man tried to break away, his motions jerky and violent, face turned down and to the side so that he wouldn't be forced to meet that anxious emerald expression.
"I don't need your *help*," he growled thickly, trying to wrench free. But his movements lacked their normal strength, lacked the deadly intent he usually expressed. "I don't need anyone's...*help*.."
"Wrong, Aya," Yohji growled irritably, seizing both arms and twisting the slim man around to face him, giving him a little shake. "You *do* need help. You just refuse to accept it, that's all. You accepted Ken's help, why not mine?"
A bark of sharp laughter erupted from Aya's form, startling Yohji.
"That wasn't help," Aya said slowly, staring up at the other man with hooded lids, lips pulling back from his teeth in a humorless, self-loathing sneer. "That was sex. It kept the darkness and the...knowledge back for a little while. But it didn't stop it."
"You..." Yohji released Aya numbly, staring at him in surprise. "You fucked Ken?"
Aya snorted quietly, turning away and heading for the bathroom. Yohji followed dumbly. "Aya..you *fucked* *Ken*?" he repeated incredulously from the bathroom doorway as Aya opened the medicine cabinet above the sink and shoved the first aid kit inside, shutting the cabinet door with a bang. Yohji noticed the pale man's hands were trembling, even in the darkness of the small room. He shifted slightly so that moonlight from the living room windows could trickle in a little. "Aya...*why*?"
"Because he wanted to," Aya growled quietly, gripping the rim of the sink in a knuckle-white grip, eyes glued to the mirror as he stared at his own haunting reflection. "And because it created a diversion. It kept me from thinking...about *her*."
Yohji merely stared silently at him for a long time, listening to the muffled thunder and the harsh breaths of his friend, watching the slumped figure and the way the moonlight reflected dimmly in the mirror. He stepped into the room, shutting out most of the weak light. "What..." He tried again. "What did he call you...when you two had sex?"
"What?" Aya grated out, glaring at Yohji's reflection rather that turn to face him. "What kind of garbage--"
"What did he call you?" Yohji demanded. "Did he call you Aya?"
"...Of course," he grated out, eyes burning with flickering anger. "What else would he call me?"
Yohji hesitated, glancing over his shoulder towards the doorway. Lightening flashed, almost blinding him, as if delivering an ultimatum.
Leave him leave him just turn around and walk out realll smooth just let him deal with this just pretend you never saw that fear that hopelessness in him just walk away just walk away...
He turned away from the doorway.

//We're the spineless
The skinless and the broken
We are crushed 'cause we can't stand on our own
You'll get around us
Comfort and hear us
But the nature of our pain will remain unknown

Don't come to me for happiness
I'm an open pit and you will just fall in
Don't ask me what my problem is
I wouldn't know where to begin//

Aya stiffened in surprise as lithe arms entertwined around his waist, a firm body pressing against his back, lips hovering near his ear and blowing hot breath across his cheek. His first instinct was to pull away, to retaliate with his elbows and his fists...
Then he spoke, the name whispered quietly and gently right against his ear.
His eyes widened slightly, and he froze, unable to think or move for a few precious heartbeats.
Skilled but tender hands moved over his torso and his chest in soothing, loving patterns, the lips pressing against the skin right under his ear, causing him to shudder before trailing a hot path down his neck to the junction where shoulder met throat. "Ran," he murmured again, one hand sliding under his shirt, long fingers splayed against a tight abdomen, the other hand reaching up to wrap around his chest, clutching his shoulder so that he was held in a strong but tender embrace. "You're so beautiful," Yohji murmured, gazing at Aya's reflection with eyes that burned like a cat's in the moonlight, filled with previously hidden lust and..something else. "Like..a porcelian doll.." he breathed, running his hands across the torso once more in a featherlight touch that caused Aya to gasp quietly and lean more heavily back against him.
"Let me help you. Let me show you another way..." Fingers played with the rim of his pants, "..to chase away the darkness. Ran."
There was no response, only Aya's quickened breathing and the way his eyelids fell to partially cover smouldering eyes as he stared transfixed at their reflection, half-limp in the other's strong grasp, fighting an internal battle. "Nnn.." He tried valiantly to put up a fight. Something hot slipped down his cheek. Was it blood? He stared at it in the mirror. Blood..tears...they all looked the same in the darkness. He couldn't tell. "Yohji..."
The older man pulled slightly, and Aya allowed himself to be led from the bathroom to his own bedroom, following meekly as the hand wrapped around his wrist tugged insistently. Then the door was shut behind them and the only light was from the single bedroom window, and he was drowning because Yohji's lips were over his in an instant and all he could taste was salt and Yohji. He responded without hesitation, tugging his arms free from Yohji's sudden embrace to grip the other's shirt like a lifeline. "Make them go away," he gasped when Yohji finally pulled away for air, staring up into liquid pools of emerald, voice wavering close to pleading. "They won't..they won't leave me alone...at night...."
Lips skimmed over his face and down his throat and he tilted his head willingly, giving himself, closing his eyes to be fully encompassed in the darkness, knowing he needed this, needed something to stop the torture inside of him. Something to cover the harshness of reality with the softer cover of something that was not quite love but stronger than lust. He had not loved Ken, but it had been a distraction from the darkness. As nimble fingers unbuttoned his shirt and pushed the material over his shoulders, lips covering his in a bruising, passionate kiss, his mind was too whirled with colors and light to allow the darkness that had been haunting him any room or acknowledgement.
He let Yohji push him to the bed, arched his hips as jeans were tugged quickly off, sighing into a mouth that tasted like cigarettes as hands explored his pale skin in surprisingly tender caresses, the mouth on his far more skilled than Ken's had been, and filled with twice the longing. He gave himself up to it, turned his back on the darkness and let Yohji's colors fill him and silence the screaming of those he had killed, of those that had died.
...And best of all they blurred the image, the memory of her, the screams that had resonated in his mind for a year. The gunshots, his own screams of horror...all gone, all washed away as wave after wave of impossible ecstasy rushed over him, flooding his body in one endless moment with something that was so close to perfect he screamed with the explosion of it, body arching from the bed to meet the one crouching over his own, nails dragging down the shuddering back above his, tears slipping from his tightly closed eyes, for once free of the bitter taste of regret and pain.
And when next he opened his eyes, the darkness was gone.

//We're the lost that burn forsaken
Screaming just to hear a voice
A sound to fill up empty spaces
A hand to hold and still we're shaking

We're the wasted and the weary
Giving up and falling down
We're the needy, sick for your love
A hand to hold and still we're shaking

Letting go and letting down
A drug to take to stop the aching

I get so tired of holding on
I get so cold but I am chilled to the bone
I cry so hard it knocks me down
I just don't want to be alone//

He woke to the smell of a cigarette, opening his eyes slowly and lying perfectly still, staring wordlessly at the wall across the room from him. Early sunlight shone through his window, and the clock on the wall said six twenty one. Yohji was sitting at the foot of the bed, still undressed, gazing up at a mark on the ceiling in silence as he lowered his cigarette from his mouth, blowing out a slow, lazy cloud of smoke. Aya watched it as it curled towards the ceiling, fading and spreading until it was a mere haze. He reached tentatively for the overbearing darkness and despair he always woke up with, and...
Slowly he sat up, looking around as if he did not know where he was.
Yohji looked at him over his shoulder, offering a small smile. "Up early as always," he joked, but his tone was quiet, and there was something different to his eyes as Aya stared owlishly at him.
He snorted softly, still smiling, and took another drag from his cigarette.
Aya's eyes drifted to the bandage still tied around the other man's arm. It was stained red.
Not black.
Red. Blood. Life.
He shifted, untangling his long legs from the sheet and carefully avoiding the wet spot as he slowly scooted to the foot of the bed, letting his side fit limply, softly, against Yohji's. A tanned arm came up without hesitation, resting around Aya's own pale shoulders, and the lips that brushed across his forehead were tender. "Sleep well, koi?"
"..." Aya stared forward silently, not bothering to shrug off the arm or complain about the smoke smell that would be in his room for days. "..Aa," he said finally.
"No nightmares?" Yohji asked quietly.
"...." Aya reached out, touching the bandage with a white finger, watching the red seep through the gauze a little and stain the tip of his fingernail.
Red. Life.
Yohji. Yohji was life.
"No nightmares," he whispered. "Not anymore."

//We're the lost that burn forsaken
Screaming just to hear a voice
A sound to fill up empty spaces
A hand to hold and still we're shaking

We're the wasted and the weary
Giving up and falling down
We're the needy, sick for your love
A hand to hold and still we're shaking//


Author's notes: The song, "Casualties", is by Red Delicious, and it is an *awesome* song that I've been addicted to for quite some time. ^_^ If the lyrics are a little off (and i think there's a verse missing.. *Sweat*) don't blame me.. ^^;; my sister got 'em by listening to the song over and over. so oh well. hope you enjoyed it minna ^^ a little darker than some of my other stuff.. ja~ ^__^

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