Summary: What other people don't know about Mikaela is that behind the façade of tranquility he wears on the outside, there's a weakness he never lets the others see, not even Yuichiro. Even before vampires took over the world, Mikaela didn't allow his dark past in his everyday life. When Mika comes back from Ferid's one night more exhausted than usual, Yuu demands to know what's going on.

Memento Mori
Definition: an object serving as a warning or reminder of death.

The road was a blur under Mikaela's feet as he panted heavily, using the sides of buildings as his crutch. His mind was occupied by only one thing however: I need to walk this haziness off before I get back to the shelter. If Yuu or anyone else is still awake, I can't let them know...

Not paying enough attention to the movement of his feet, Mika's toes got held up on something. His legs crumbled underneath him, launching him frontside into the cobblestone ground. Unable to reach out in time to stop his fall, Mika fell onto his face. Propping his arms on either side of him to lift himself back up, Mika pushed against the ground as hard as he could, but his arms quivered too much. Blood gushed from his nostrils, running in small tributaries in the cracks on the cobblestone ground. When he finally managed to lift himself a few inches, he crashed back to the ground again, out of strength.

He was too weak... too weak to do anything. Just like back then, when his parents came at him brandishing knives or fists raised... All he could do was lie on the ground and take it. I can't let them know, he thought, trying to dowse the tears that shot into his eyes from pain. I can't let them know what I'm doing to get that stuff for them...

Twenty minutes later, Mikaela regathered enough strength to attempt to sit up again. This time he was successful, though it took a lot out of him, and he had to sit against the side of the building he'd fallen near for twenty minutes more, panting like the livestock he was for allowing a vampire noble to nearly drink him dry.

Mikaela smiled inwardly to himself. Even if it was only a chimerical dream for a quiescent soul like him, he would keep going. So I can be as strong as Yuu, who's protected us and kept us in hope even after all that's happened, he thought, looking at the pale color of his palm. I have to show my appreciation for that, and without any complaints. Mika hoisted himself onto his feet with the building as his support again, wobbling back and forth for a moment before catching his balance. Then, deliberately, he stepped forward.

He would get used to the sensation of having more and more blood taken from him directly. He would not give up the euphonious sounds of everyone laughing together, talking together... For now, he would deal with the burden by himself.

~A few weeks later~

Yuichiro sat up on the top of the bunkbed, hearing the susurrous sounds of someone walking up the steps before the door. Immediately on the alert, Yuu grabbed the lantern at the bunkbed's railing and lit it with the matches he had nearby, descended the ladder to meet whoever intruded upon their house. "Hey, who's there?" he called in a voice shaking with anxiety as the door creaked open. If necessary, he'd fight any vampire to keep everyone else safe, but he knew very well he wouldn't be able to hold one off for long. Yuichiro's defensiveness subsided when he saw the blond head that poked around the door instead. He let out a huge sigh of relief. "Jeez, Mika, you could have at least knocked. You almost gave me a heart attack thinking you were –"

But Mika didn't answer. He fell forward into Yuu's arms. "Hey, Mika, are you –?" Turning Mika over in his arms, Yuichiro saw how pale his friend was. For a moment he feared the worst, measuring the length of each of Mikaela's breaths. Yuu, himself, turned a sheet-colored white. "H-hey, Mika! Mika! Are you all right?!"

Slowly, the blond opened his cerulean eyes and tried to smile up at him. "Ah, Yuu... Sorry, I'm just really tired right now."

"Like hell you are!" Yuichiro burst, wanting to drop Mika from almost making him start crying from worry.

As Mika watched Yuu blink back the tears in his eyes, a feeling of guilt spread from Mika's gut. Yuu... you weren't supposed to know... I should have waited to come back until later, when I felt better... like usual...

"What were you doing, you idiot?!" Yuichiro demanded with feigned harshness. "Can you even stand?!"

"I'm fine now..." Mika managed to say in the same light and airy tone he usually donned, albeit now laced with fatigue. "If you could just help me over to the ladder..."

Taking notice to how Mika avoided his first question, Yuichiro helped his friend to his feet, one arm draped over his shoulder, to help Mika stumble to the ladder. When Mika made no move to let go of Yuu at the base of the ladder, Yuichiro asked, "Do you need help getting up there too?"

"Please," Mika said meekly.

Yuu scoffed in irritation as he all but dragged Mika up the ladder with one arm around his waist, setting him and the lantern against the wall next to the sleeping others.

"Thanks, Yuu," Mika whispered, smiling at Yuu as he shuffled up blankets and pillows from the sleeping group and handed them to Mika, giving him the evil eye. The guilty feeling in Mika's gut became worse by the second. "I'm sorry for making you worry..." Mikaela murmured, sobering his tone.

"I wasn't worried!" Yuichiro rebuffed. He went back down the ladder to the kitchen, retrieving a makeshift cup from the cabinet and leaving Mika in the light of the lantern with the blankets he'd gathered. Traveling under the eerie yellow light of the nighttime street lamps, Yuu headed toward the well pump at the end of the road, and filled the cup to bring back to Mika.

"Here," he said, holding out the cup of water to Mika who'd wrapped himself in the blankets and pillows that Yuu had gotten him.

"Thanks, Yu –"

"Don't drop it!" Yuichiro caught the cup just in time before all of it was spilled across the wooden top of their bunkbed, and held it for Mika to grasp in his quivering hands. "Jeez," he uttered, watching Mika try to lift the cup to his face. "Need help with this too?"

Mika didn't answer, and kept trying to hold the cup steady enough to drink, but Yuichiro took it upon himself to help his sick friend. "Idiot," he puffed. He took the cup from the slightly astonished Mika and scooted closer to him. One arm around Mika's back, Yuu helped Mika lean forward, bringing the cup to his pale, chapped lips until he drank half of the water. Yuu then eased Mika's back against the wall, situating the blankets back around his exhausted friend.

"Thank you, Yuu," Mika said again, still with that guilty, cheerful air to his voice. He barely looked Yuu in the eye as he said it.

Yuichiro didn't make it a practice to pry into anyone else's business, but he had never seen Mika like this. And this wasn't the first time Mika had come back late. Yuu needed to know what was going on. "Hey, Mika," he started, hesitant. "What have you been doing out so late recently?"

Grasping the cup in his hands, Mika knew he couldn't lie to Yuu. It would only make him more ardent to find out what was going on. After everything else Yuu had helped him with that night and on-going, Mika couldn't bear the thought of letting him know that he was allowing a vampire noble to drink blood from him directly. He'd go ballistic. So Mikaela stayed silent, not looking him in the eye. "I'm sorry, Yuu," was the only thing he said.

"Don't apologize for it!" Yuu reprimanded. The tone of his voice startled Mika so he looked at Yuu. He was angry, but more than anything else, he was pleading, begging Mika to let him know what was going through his head. "Tell me why you've been so sneaky lately! It isn't like you!"

"I-I can't do that," Mika said, looking away from him again.

"I thought you said we were a family now... How could you say you can't tell me what's going on after everything else we've been through together?"

Once again, Mikaela was caught off-guard by the tone of Yuichiro's voice. Looking at him again, tears had resurfaced in Yuu's eyes, making them dark, yet clinquant emeralds in the light of the lantern. His entire face was in conflict, trying not to show any signs of emotion, yet crumbled from the agony he felt at Mika not letting him to know.

Staring at Yuu now, Mika stayed silent, until tears of his own stabbed his eyes and ran down his face. Yuu watched his friend as he cried, bemused by the reaction. Only a few of Yuu's own tears slipped down his face while Mika cried profusely, trying to stifle the sobs that jerked his throat and body. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean for you... to see me like this... I'm sorry..."

Yuu thought of telling Mika that he wasn't angry, that everything was fine... Instead, he joined Mika under the tent of blankets. Mika, completely taken aback, lifted his wetted face from his hands. "You're cold as hell," Yuu commented quietly, the blood rushing to his cheeks and ears in a light blush. "Besides, you took all of my blankets and pillows so I have nowhere else to sleep."

Although Mika was surprised by Yuu's uncharacteristic intimacy, he smiled. Even if this time together where Ferid Bathory doted upon his family was ephemeral, he would make the most of it. Shimmying farther down into the blankets, Mika answered, "Yuu, as I recall, you're the one who gave me all your blankets and pillows."

"Zip it," Yuu snapped back, turning away from Mika and trying to take most of the covers with him. Mika's smile was interrupted by Yuu saying, "I wish you trusted me enough to tell me what's going on, though..."

"It's nothing..." Mikaela murmured, trailing off.

"Don't lie to me!" Yuu burst loudly, sitting up on the bunkbed again.

"Shh, you'll wake up everyone else," Mika whispered, glaring at Yuu with a finger to his lips.

Yuu growled at him angrily before glancing at the rising and falling bundles of blankets of the others, then he settled back down under the covers. It wasn't until nearly ten minutes of silence later that Mikaela spoke. "...I've been thinking about them a lot. My parents, I mean."

At this, Yuichiro opened his eyes and turned back around toward Mikaela. He never talked about his family or their problems. The only time Mika had mentioned it was when they first met, and Yuu had had the audacity to claim he was the only kid at the Hyakuya Orphanage to have any kind of baggage from his past.

"I think about how they used to say they loved me," Mika continued, "but the next thing I knew, they'd come at me with some kind of weapon, telling me to get over whatever I was crying about. I never understood why they did that. But I didn't question them, because they were my parents, and if they said they loved me, then I should love them back..."

Yuu thought on Mika's words; his tears had ceased. He spoke as if the past he told Yuichiro of had no connection to him at all. Yuu couldn't understand why.

"I thought, 'If they love me, it doesn't matter if they hurt me, right? I can bear this. I need to stop being a baby like they always tell me. I need to grow up like they always tell me,'" Mika said. He paused again, eyes refocusing on the ceiling. "I didn't know, at the time, that what they were doing to me wasn't out of love. Because I didn't know what 'love' was supposed to look and act like. Even after I was brought to the Hyakuya Orphanage and met Akane and the others, I still didn't know. Not until..."

"Not until...?" Yuu coaxed.

Mika shook his head, humming a short "mm-mm." He turned toward Yuu so that they were face to face. "I wish this moment was sempiternal, Yuu."

Flustered by the dreamy look in his friend's eyes, Yuichiro stammered, "Wh-what are you, a raconteur now?!"

"A raconteur tells stories that are hard to believe or unreliable," said Mika with a small frown. "I'm telling the truth."

"Whatever," said Yuu, trying to turn away from Mika. But Mika latched onto Yuu's hands with his own. Eyes hidden under his blond bangs, the air about Mikaela told Yuu that something was wrong. "Mika...?"

"I... I mean what I said, Yuu." When Mika's cerulean eyes reappeared, Yuu saw more tears. "I wish we could stay like this. Forever and ever," Mika said with a small hiccup.

Yuu shifted his body back so he was facing Mika fully again, closing his fingers tightly around Mika's hands. "Who says we won't?"

Mika was taking in heaving sobs, but he let out a gasp of exhilaration when Yuichiro wrapped his arms around him, hugging Mika close to his chest. "One day, we won't have to worry about any of this vampire stuff or being livestock," Yuu promised. "We'll live somewhere happily with everyone else. I guarantee that..."

When Yuu retracted his arms from Mika, they moved closer to share each other's warmth, their foreheads touching with each lengthening breath.

"Thanks, Yuu," Mika said one last time. For everything.

"Just go to sleep..." Yuu slurred, not moving from his spot.

Mika grinned. His billet-doux confession would have to wait. Someday, when what Yuu had said was true, when there were no vampires and no livestock for them. When they had escaped the vampire city, and left all their troubles behind...

~Four years later~

Awoken by the dim aubade of birds at dawn, Yuu rubbed his forehead with one hand. "Not again," he mumbled. "Again and again and again. It never fails." Every night he dreamt of Mika and Akane and the others. He dreamt of Ferid slaughtering them all without a second thought. He dreamt of Mika bleeding in his arms, choking on his own blood, screaming at Yuu, pushing him away, telling him to leave him behind...

Yuichiro reached under his pillow. Beneath was the pistol Mika had stolen from Ferid's mansion. Yuu kept it there, closest to himself, in case something tried to creep up on him while he was sleeping. The pistol had saved his life the night that...

Yuu sucked back the sob that welled in his throat at the reminder. He wouldn't allow himself to cry over his dead family any longer. He would only become strong enough to avenge them.

As Yuichiro walked to class the first day of his suspension, he couldn't stop his mind from sifting over the thing Mika had said the night he'd been found so weak. "Because I didn't know what 'love' was supposed to look and act like. Even after I was brought to the Hyakuya Orphanage and met Akane and the others, I still didn't know. Not until..."

Not until what? What had he been meaning to say? C'mon, Mika, Yuu grumbled internally, slamming the door to his locker shut after dropping the pistol inside. You never talked to me about your past. I told you every little bit that happened with my parents whether you wanted to hear it or not. Why didn't you ever tell me of the kind of impression that yours left on you? A lead weight settled itself in Yuichiro's chest once the annoyance at his old friend's secrecy had gone. Why didn't you tell me while you were still alive, idiot...? Yuu struggled to keep the tears from his eyes, having reached the classroom where he would meet Shinoa, and eventually Yoichi and Kimizuki.

Whether Yuu's redamancy toward Mika's feelings had already come and gone, neither Yuichiro nor Mikaela knew.

Miles away, Mikaela could only stare at the doorway to the world Yuu had disappeared, thinking what he was doing now. Mika could only wonder if he was making friends, if he was living happily among them. I wish you could stay in that ignorant bliss forever, Mikaela thought. But I'm afraid I have to tear you away from that. Even if you've found a new family, I've lost mine. All except one. And I will not let my last family member perish, especially when you're the one I love most.

Hey, hey, hey! Guess who's going down with this ship way more than they ever intended?! ME! I know this idea is really overused, Mika coming home after being at Ferid's, but I saw this list of eloquent words on Tumblr and my mind immediately jumped to MikaYuu, so here I am. More likely I'll add more chapters to this fic instead of the one I wrote before it if/when I get other MikaYuu ideas...

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I promised myself I'd write my other stories first before anything else, but uhg this idea just hit me like a freight train and I had to write it 'cause I can't get these two out of my head. Please don't forget to tell me what you thought below!