Reven came out of a lust-filled dream like he'd been snapped open, his body screaming warning and already rolling to one side off the bed. Someone rushed across the room - there was an unfamiliar smell, though nothing more than a hint across his nostrils.

There was noise, but hideous quiet at the same time, the air in the room vibrated suddenly with suppressed, chilled fear and anticipation.


His thought was instinctive and loud in his head. His senses recorded a complex mix of triggers that swamped his consciousness. A glint of metal against the sliver of moonlight from one of the slits in the wall - a gasp of breath on the bed, as if through gritted teeth.

Reven turned even as he fell, and spun back round to face the figure still on the bed. Inoue was struggling to move; his knife was gripped by muscles that were not obeying him quickly or strongly enough.

A dark figure leaned over him, arm moving down towards his heart, nothing but a shadow of death over a man who had little defense.

Reven acted without thought. He threw himself over Inoue's body, careless of any pain he may be causing, reaching for Inoue's knife hand. He gripped it, folding his fingers tightly round the larger, stronger hand. He twisted it, sharply, feeling it try to resist him, but his own strength was increased by fear and desperation.

Up through the heart, he thought, wildly, memories flooding him of street talk, of cruel laughter, of cold discussion of the best way to inflict harm with knives. Who had told him these things he couldn't remember - he didn't care. He twisted the knife enclosed in their joint hands and he wrenched Inoue's arm across to meet the path of the intruder.

The man plunged down at them, his knife a breath from Reven's tousled shirt, from Inoue's torso. Reven yelled and pushed back up at him, forcing his body weight up and behind the knife, looking to deflect the other body, bigger though it was. He was faster than most people, he knew that - he was wiry, he was flexible. He twisted in under the man's guard, felt his knife strike first, felt it pierce the man's clothing and sink on into flesh with a sickening suck of sound.

At the same time he kicked at Inoue's body, shoved it with his own, trying anything to push it out of the way.

Things were a chaotic mess-- it would have been easier to do this had Reven stayed asleep but something had woken him just as the assassin approached the bed.

When Reven jumped atop Inoue the redhead's eyes rolled into the back of his head and he gasped sharply before swallowing down the moan of pain. The bony boy was right on top of him, putting pressure on weak and tender wounds, causing blisters to break and cracking open brittle skin like the top of a burnt casserole, causing it to boil over with blood, lymph and pus. Even still Inoue managed to keep hold of the knife, and he felt the strange sensation of hands closing around his own, adding to his strength-- and then the unique feeling of one's knife sinking between bone and into vulnerable flesh with a wet, metallic noise. Both assassins paused as Inoue opened his eyes once more to look and see if it had been a fatal blow...

No go. The other assassin was still alive though critically wounded. What had possibly been a lethal strike to the heart had gone into the man's shoulder, and the masked assailant lifted his weapon once more with intent to plunge it into Inoue's heart just as Reven kicked at the redhead.

He kicked right to the legs with his brutal little foot-- and Inoue screamed. It was something he hadn't done in years but he screamed in sheer agony as Reven's foot sank through tender flesh and pulled away with a large chunk attached to his foot. The fucking child was doing more harm than good! All in the same instant as Inoue screamed, his body reacted like never before-- with one thunderous boom of his own heartbeat in his ears, he grabbed the knife embedded in the assassin's shoulder, pulled it out, and thrust it upwards through the soft part of the man's throat just beneath his chin, forcing it up through his skull and right into the brain, bringing the knife coming down towards Inoue's chest to a halt. Exactly two seconds later the dead assassin's hand released and the knife was released, striking Inoue's sternum point-first, creating a deep but survivable wound before it fell onto the bed.

The masked assassin crumpled on top of both Reven and Inoue, adding more weight on top of the burnt male as he lay there, taking in sharp, harsh little gasps through clenched teeth and holding his eyes squeezed shut as tears of pain that no amount of willpower could restrain slipped down his cheeks.

Reven couldn't breathe. Why the fuck was that? What was the throbbing pain in his head - the pressure on his chest, feeling like it was squeezed between two equally strong buffalo?

In another second, his head cleared and he remembered what had happened. Nausea raced through him.

Someone has screamed! His body jolted, straining against the dead weight on top of him. He heard what was left of his shirt rip, as he struggled to free himself; he felt a slimy trickle of liquid run along his neck, and to his horror he saw blood drip over his shoulder and on to the body beneath him.


Someone else's?

The body beneath him … In sudden shock, he also remembered just who the fuck that was, and the agony he must be putting Inoue through. Was the man alive? Was he, Reven, sandwiched like baked ham between two dead bodies?

Grunting, he heaved up against the man who'd been killed and pushed him aside. A heavy yet limp hand trailed against his neck as it slipped off the bed - the thick fingers clawed at Reven's hair and he swallowed back a gagging reflex as he wrenched his head away from its lifeless grip.

He peeled himself off Inoue a little more carefully, but he doubted that made it any easier for the assassin to bear. To add further horror, he thought he could feel skin coming away with him, sticking unhealthily to his sweaty legs and torso; there was plenty more blood, leaking all over Inoue's body, slicking Reven's own limbs as he tried to move away without destroying even more of the man's flesh. Was he breathing?

Reven heard the rattle of an anguished sob in Inoue's throat, but barely recognized such emotion from the assassin. The dark eyes were closed to Reven - the glorious red hair was tangled and soaked with sweat and blood. Reven sat back on the bed, panting with his exertions, relieved that Inoue was alive, but appalled at the damage the fight had wreaked on his companion.

Fuck, he thought. If he didn't know better, he could swear there was the trace of tears on the man's cheeks.

His body was trembling, and just to keep his muscles tense ached like nothing he'd ever known before, but if he relaxed then he would have given into the pain and passed out. Inoue remained perfectly still.

Drastic times, drastic measures. His good hand lifted slowly, shaking violently as he opened the fist very, very gently. Lowering the hand until the fingers settled on one side of his throat and his thumb on the other, he kept his eyes closed and exhaled before letting his muscles contract once more and his hand clamped shut around his own throat. Inoue did not struggle; he fought the screaming inside his head that only he could hear, listening as well to the heartbeat pounding in his ears and the rushing noise surrounding him. His eyes opened briefly; watering and still filled with agonized tears, violet staring at the horrible fucking ceiling. Normally he would never do this to himself; it was never wise to put yourself out of commission when there was possible danger around, and he had no idea if that assassin had been the only one.

But if it came down to it right now, death or more of that agony, Inoue chose death while swept up in the sea of his own unconsciousness. His eyes widened before rolling into the back of his head and closing as he passed out on the bed, finally going limp as his body glistened with fresh wounds all bleeding out slowly. All was darkness.

Reven watched the barely conscious man as his senses rolled away. The horror clung to him - the dead body lay on the floor on the far side of the bed, still leaking blood on to the scarred floorboards. Reven thought he should probably strip the man of his weapons and anything else that might be of use to them. But his priority was to see to Inoue.

He'd never seen anyone do that to themselves - just black themselves out. Did Inoue have some kind of death wish himself? Was it all too much for him to bear?

Reven shook his head, trying to clear his confusion and shock. Trying to remind himself that the assassin didn't match any behavior that he, Reven, had ever known. He had to stop trying to understand him, and just keep him fucking alive.

He scrambled over to the medical kits that they'd brought with them in a search for help. He'd wash and treat the wounds again, that he was used to, of course, though he'd have to seek more hospital supplies soon, because the already vulnerable wounds had reopened, they were living in a place only one floor up from the city sewer, and their existing supplies were already depleted. No, the most important thing was to relieve Inoue's pain so that he could be tended.

Reven knew no pills strong enough to cope with that, though there were plenty of unusual and unlabelled tablets in the kit. He was more satisfied when he found a couple of syringes and small phials of clear liquid that Inoue had once told him were for emergency use only.

Guess that's now, right?

He took them to the unconscious body on the bed and swabbed Inoue's arm in preparation. He took the man's arm with an almost gentle touch; he knew he couldn't be seen or felt at this moment. He slowly fed the liquid into his reluctant patient, and took only a moment's consideration before he opened a second phial and injected that too.

Then he turned to the sink in the corner of the squalid little bathroom area and started to run some water. There were sterilizing tablets in the kit, and clean, sealed cloths. He knew there were phials of antibiotics too. He'd begin again on the man's broken body, trying to heal him, trying to help him. Likely it'd be a long and arduous job.

He stepped over the intruder's body to reach for a rickety chair to set a basin of water on, looking curiously at the man laid out there, but then he dismissed him from his thoughts. He'd deal with that after he'd seen to Inoue.

He didn't know how long he was out, but when he woke he wasn't in pain any more. He felt entirely numb and detached... The redhead glanced over at Reven and watched him wind the last bandages over Inoue's hand, finishing up a rather decent job of tending to the wounds as far as he could see. He closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again and looking up into the boy's face. Once more Reven looked frazzled, frustrated and ready to break. Of course this had to happen just as Inoue had managed to relax him.

It felt incredible not to be in constant pain. No standard drug could do this-- Reven had tapped into the emergency supply. Inoue sighed with pleasure, the first he'd really felt in weeks. Reaching out, he pulled Reven close and slipped one hand round the boy's waist, looking up into his face and watching it tremble and warp a little. Alright then... the drugs were working a little too well. Fine. He could still keep some manner of hardness and Inoue-ness about right?

Inoue-ness? Shit. He was really fucking gone.

The redhead pulled Reven down further, guiding his apprentice until they were laying side-by-side in the freshly cleaned and changed bed. "You did well," he said quietly and stupidly-- his tongue was thick in his mouth and slow but he could still speak reasonably well. "Better than I'd ever expect. Good instinct, good reaction." He brought Reven closer until the boy's head was resting on Inoue's good shoulder, and he ran his fingers through the thick black hair as he stared at the swirling ceiling and some small voice in his head was telling him to shut up and stop doing this before he made a bigger fool of himself. The voice went unheard. He traced the boy's jaw lightly with his fingertips, trying to soothe when he couldn't kiss or stroke or give physical pleasure in this lucid state. Some even smaller part of him said that this was nice as he turned his face to watch the boy in the bed with him. The voice spoke of Inoue's repressed longing to have human contact... to have a relationship again and to have someone nearby to caress and hold and fall asleep with. That voice was one that he always kept silenced at every other point in his life, and it was only getting out now thanks to the drugs.

Reven lay totally still for a moment, enclosed within Inoue’s arms. He still held a spare length of bandage in his hand, but he let it drop to the floor where it thumped quietly and ran off in to a corner. This was weird, he thought, that Inoue should hold him like this – should talk to him, albeit in that drowsy voice, albeit with his veins pumped full of painkilling drugs. Oh, but it was good, too! He felt disorientated; surprised but thrilled at the unusually gentle treatment. He didn’t dare move in case he was pushed aside, or – like before – struck violently away.

He breathed in the smell of the man, the tang of old blood that he couldn’t entirely wash away, and the chemical smells of the dressings and ointments. And Inoue’s skin, warm against him, tantalizing strips of bare flesh in among the expanses of bandage. Inoue’s fingers touched him in turn, almost affectionately.

Shit, Reven thought. He didn’t trust any other words, any other feelings. He was exhausted and still coming to terms with the attack.

“He was going to kill you,” he whispered. He’d seen plenty of bloodshed during his time with Hellman’s security, but he’d never been directly in the path of a sole assassin – at least, not until his own life had been in Inoue’s path, and he’d nearly lost it. Hellman had put out plenty of contracts, so Reven knew – but he’d never known much about the targets, nor cared for them. He’d been a little shocked himself at his instinctive move to protect Inoue.

“I guess this won’t be the first, nor the last time someone comes after you. So we should keep moving until no-one tries any more.” He didn’t expect Inoue to answer him, but he nuzzled his head up against the man’s palm, seeking more of the firm caress.

“I know somewhere else we can go,” he said, softly. “OK?” He was nervous of Inoue’s scorn still – but what was the guy gonna do without him to help? Reven needed to be active, to make things happen, Inoue would have to play along with that for the moment. Reven intended to take advantage of the man’s drugged state. “It’s a club a few miles from here, just starting up, not fashionable, not known to the mob round here yet. I only just met the guy in charge, so he doesn’t know me from before. He’s offered me a job and there’s a room I can use as well. I think we could hide out there for a while.”

He pressed himself closer to Inoue, gingerly. He wasn’t sure how he felt about what he was next going to say, though he didn’t expect Inoue to care one way or the other. “But I’ve been thinking about what you said – about being careless and showing my face back out around town. Maybe it’s better I disguise myself.” He saw the knife lying by Inoue’s side, where they both always left it. He stretched a hand out and ran his finger along the handle. “I thought maybe my hair was too distinctive. Not like yours, of course – but anything to confuse people who may be looking for either of us. I reckon I should colour it, or…” He stroked the knife again, feeling Inoue’s fingers clenched in amongst his dark, silky locks. It felt so good … his hair had always been a trademark of his, a stupid vanity. “Or cut it off,” he finished, his voice too sharp.

"He was going to kill me," Inoue agreed blandly. "It happens." He listened to the boy ramble on about moving and people coming after them and... what was that last one? Disguise himself? "Pointless," he uttered quietly, his voice still hoarse from both the smoke ravaging his throat had taken and impending sickness and weakness. "Changing your hair-- pointless. Facial reconstruction and height alteration maybe. Break bones, saw them down, re-set them... effective. But unnecessary. I can keep you alive as long as you listen to me." He curled his fingers in the thick black hair. He rather liked it; it was always soft and draped over Reven's shoulders in loose, attractive curls, and he wanted to just reach out and touch it, even when it was dirty and tangled.

When Reven moved a little in the bed, Inoue moved his arm and draped it around the boy's waist, pulling him closer and letting dark curls rest on his shoulder. The weight there was nice; nicer than he'd expected it to be. He turned his head slightly to look down at the one resting against him, staring at the black hair that shone blue even in the low light. "Leave your hair," he uttered quietly. "I appreciate it as it is."

There was a long moment of silence before he spoke up again. "You're frightened; good, fear will keep you alive and alert. But you need to be smart as well as scared; why would this strange club owner offer you a job? What did you present to him that would make him compassionate enough to offer money and a place to live? Is it something that will make him want more of you than you're willing to give? Is it something that makes him think you're something you are not?" He let his fingers slip out of the hair and along Reven's cheek, caressing the soft skin with the pad of his thumb. "We do need to move," he conceded. "It was wise for you to look. That might have been the only attack-- it might have been the first of thousands. This time the move has to be quieter-- better. You've practiced one, I need you to perfect the second."

He curled his fingers under Reven's jaw and let them skim over his lips gently, tracing and memorizing them. "When we have moved I will start teaching you how to defend yourself as well. Though your instinct was good, it needs to be honed into more than a desperate lunge to save yourself or another." He moved his hand down along the boy's throat and to his shoulder, feeling the muscle there, and along his arm to the elbow, then back up once more. "You have grown stronger since I took you under me-- I will make you into a weapon instead of a wild animal."

Inoue's gaze wandered across the room. He did not see the body, and he had never given the boy instructions on dismembering and disposal. "The enemy?" he inquired in a whisper, unsure if the child had fallen asleep on top of him because Reven's breathing had become deeper and steadier.

Reven was almost asleep - Inoue's touch was both sensual and soporific. The man had said more to him this time than he ever had before. Reven wondered whether he could keep pumping him full of drugs if he could get this response.

He didn't want to talk to Inoue about the job. He thought it was time he went his own way on some things, and in all honesty, they didn't have many other choices, did they? Inevitably the job would come with conditions, but Reven was prepared to take it all for the sake of getting back into the world outside, and finding sanctuary for them both.

Maybe he would have to give more than he'd like - maybe he was being misled. Did Inoue think he was a complete moron? There were things about the job that maybe Inoue wouldn't like - but then it was Reven's decision, right? It was all necessary - the assassin needed care and he needed to be near to do that: Inoue had to tolerate whatever Reven did if it helped him in the end.

Reven yawned. He was exhausted and struggling to keep up with all that was happening. It'd be an advantage to start afresh as someone new - that's what he wanted. But for now, he wanted to curl up against the man beside him in the bed and enjoy the rare, gentle caresses. He'd mould up against his hip, let him tangle his hand in his hair and hold him ...

Inoue thought he'd done OK - Inoue was going to tutor him.

It was enough for Reven.

"The enemy?" The words startled him out of drowsiness.

"Ah ... yeah. I got rid of him. You didn't look like you were up to helping me, after all." He yawned again. Inoue didn't need to know the details, did he? Then as the man stirred beside him and his hand tightened a little in Reven's hair, Reven realized that fuck, it probably looked like he did!

"I burned him!" he gasped, quickly. "Took him out last night, half-carried him like he was tired or drunk, then took him to a crematorium I found round the back of town - only used for occasional private ceremonies." Inoue stiffened - Reven was horrified suddenly that he might have angered him. Had he done wrong?

"I was careful, I swear it! I did it all myself!" He twisted, trying to see more of the previous dreaminess in Inoue's expression but the man's eyes were half closed. Reven spoke quickly, trying to redeem himself before Inoue passed out again. "I know what to do, you'll have to trust me on that, you never asked for my fucking resume, did you? No-one saw me - no trace left of the body except a pile of ash, and that -" he paused, waiting for Inoue's anger, waiting for any response at all - " and that I brought back with me! Bag in the corner ..."

The man's body had stilled, like when he was sleeping, and his hand had slipped away from Reven. Reven felt the loss very keenly. "You can tell me what to do with them tomorrow. Fuck ..." Talk to me, he cried inside, but it seemed the closeness had been withdrawn.

This was no good-- all of it, no good. Reven was increasing the chances that people knew where they were, and Inoue already knew that it wasn't likely only one assassin would be coming their way to...

To uh...

Man the ceiling was full of holes. The assassin took a deep breath that melted into a yawn, forgetting whatever had annoyed him and looking up at the face looking down at him desperately. What was wrong? Did Reven need more tending to? Annoyance revived in Inoue, and he figured that's what he'd been agitated about, but he also figured that this had to be done to keep the boy happy and healthy. He lifted his hand again slowly and slipped it behind Reven's head, drawing him down and letting their mouths meet in a soft kiss as he closed his eyes.

Inoue slid his tongue out and along Reven's lower lip as his arm moved down the boy's back and pulled him close with as much kitten strength as he had right now, but his mind wandered idly even as he kissed, contemplating the way the holes in the walls seemed to be moving as of late before he actually drifted off into a half-sleep state. He pulled the warm body in the bed closer and turned his torso slightly to meet and synch with it, brushing his lips against Reven's forehead before making a soft, sleepy noise. He tried to talk but it was just an idle mumble, and Inoue dipped down into the blissful world of unconsciousness without being in any pain, both mental and physical.

Reven leant his head back a bit to be able to look into Inoue's face, and he watched the man slide into unconsciousness. Guy didn't even have the energy to chew him out any more. He ran a hand back through his hair and smiled to himself. He touched his fingers to his own lips, feeling the warmth of Inoue's still there, though it had been the gentlest of kisses. He didn't know what he felt about this Inoue - it certainly was different.

Daring a little, he leant back forward and brushed his lips to Inoue's cheek, then across his jaw, and along the lobe of his ear. He tasted him - he savored him. Guess he mightn't have that chance once he was conscious again.

It was fine.

He placed his palm gently on Inoue's bound chest ... ran it down his torso, though never putting any pressure to it. It barely moved with the man's deep, slow breathing. He couldn't feel the heart, though he knew it was beating. Wouldn't fucking dare not to, he thought, wryly. Inoue demanded control over every inch of himself, even when the outside world had ripped him apart like this.

He moved his hand just above Inoue's belly, as if he stroked it, over the hips, down to the strong thighs, over the unresponsive groin.

When you're OK again... thought Reven. What would happen to them then? He wasn't gonna worry about it. Live for the present, he thought. Yeah. It's lucky I've got that at all. He lay back against Inoue, his fingers still trailing at the man's side, and he sighed deeply. Tomorrow he'd go and sort things out. Hadn't he said that before?
He grinned to himself, settled down as best he could on the hard bed, and was soon asleep as well.