~~~Massive pissiness is my excuse for this, plus I'm taking a break from idiots. I don't own HYD, but I'd like a free trial sample of Akira, oh yes, I would. Does that come with a free sample of Soujiro too? Even better. . .

This is an AU. It is set in the US, hence all names will be in the western style, family name second. Wow it feels weird to write them that way. Everyone is in their mid twenties. Think 25-7 range. Expect angst. Duh. Ok is that everything? Of course not. As ever, therez warnings for squeamish people, but I'm not saying what they are.~~~

Tsukasa sprawled across his bed, staring sightlessly at yet another drab and cracked hotel room ceiling. His lips were pressed tightly together in his habitual scowl, and his fingers, laced together behind his head, twitched restlessly to some unheard rhythm. Outside, a cold rain pelted down from the dark November skies.

It had been a night like this that day as well. . . Icy rain falling, freezing one to the core, blinding one with the needlelike intensity of the water falling on unprotected eyes. They'd certainly been blinded. Them or the other. . . The police had never been sure just whose fault it had been in the end.

A well muscled arm shot out abruptly and fumbled for the remembered bottle on the bedside table, as Tsukasa fought the memories. Anniversaries were the worst time for him. He couldn't bear to think of how many more he had yet to suffer through. His scowl deepened, darkened, as his questing hand failed to find the liquid oblivion he sought.

"It's no use, Tsukasa." Akira's concerned voice emanated from the other bed occupying this drab hotel room. "I already poured it down the drain."

Tsukasa's brows drew together thunderously, and his breath hissed out through clenched teeth. "You had no right."

"If he hadn't, I would have." The room's third occupant spoke drowsily, as if he wasn't quite awake yet. "You gotta take better care of your liver. .You'll never catch a woman if you're all jaundiced from liver failure."

Soujiro's jaw clicked shut, as he realized he may have said too much, again. . . He closed his eyes against the sight of Tsukasa pushing to his feet and restlessly pacing back and forth before the rain streaked window. Maybe if he kept his eyes shut, he could go back to that dream he'd been having before -- the one involving Miss September and that groupie from last night. . .yes the one with the fascinating tattoos on her breasts.

"You're drooling on my shoulder." Akira squirmed a bit, as he shifted under Soujiro's weight. The two men were currently sharing one small bed, having forfeited the other to Tsukasa as usual, and now they lay entangled, also as usual, in a comfortable state of undress. Soujiro was using Akira's shoulder as a pillow; his arm outflung across Akira's chest, while Akira absently stroked Soujiro's back soothingly with a free hand. Looking at them, one might have mistaken them for players in some erotic film; but that would have been far from the truth. In fact, all appearance to the contrary, the two men were purely platonic friends. It was just that Soujiro found comfort in human contact, and couldn't bear to be alone for long-- much less to sleep in an empty bed. Similarly, Tsukasa sought comfort in the bottle, and Rui. . . Well, everyone knew what had happened to him, and the less said about That, the better.

Tsukasa turned his stormy gaze away from the rain to stare at his two friends.

"You're not alone, Tsukasa." Akira took up where Soujiro left off, but more tactfully. "We're here still."

"We're not going anywhere. . ." Soujiro added softly

"He left." It was almost an accusation, the words loaded with pain and anger.

Akira's hand left off its soothing caresses to cover Soujiro's mouth. He knew what the next words would be. After all, they'd had this same conversation a hundred times before. And it never got any better. Soujiro would accuse Tsukasa of being determined to follow in Rui's footsteps, one bottle of vodka at a time. Tsukasa would shout back something hateful about how Soujiro was the one angling to get syphilis or AIDS at the rate he was going. Soujiro would snap and start in on the, "you're not the only one who's hurting here." speech, followed by the, "You're not the only one who lost someone." attack. Tsukasa would shout back that he'd lost more than any of them, and Soujiro would try to hit him, or sometimes, just break down and cry, depending. Akira, of course, Almost never got a word in edgewise. He'd learned to give up on that long ago. Instead, he'd be the one to patch things up afterwards, calming Soujiro. Soothing Tsukasa. Forgetting his own, lesser hurts by helping his friends. After all, he hadn't lost as much as they had.

"I'm going out." Tsukasa, of course, hadn't failed to notice the way Akira silenced Soujiro.

"I'll come with you." Akira attempted to extricate himself from under Soujiro.

"No, I'll go." Soujiro turned dark eyes on Akira, "I need to get out anyway."

"You sure?" Akira was concerned; the state they were in, they'd probably start fighting the second they left the room, and if he had to take another week of Tsukasa refusing to speak to Soujiro, then he thought his head just might explode.

"I don't need a chaperone." Tsukasa glared sulkily at his friends.

"Yes, you do." Akira remembered all too clearly what had happened last time they'd made the mistake of letting Tsukasa wander the streets by himself-- the bars, the liquor stores, the drinking, the fights. . . If they were lucky, he'd only punch out some fool reporter who tried to get too close, but sometimes Tsukasa would explode for no reason at all-- at least none that they could fathom, and strike out at random. Those were the incidents that just screamed "LAWSUIT" in big capital letters. It was all good publicity though, apparently. The fans just loved seeing Tsukasa's steely glare plastered across the papers as he nursed bloody fists. . . The trio had been lucky so far, that they'd been able to buy off all Tsukasa's victims. But that luck couldn't last forever. So now, Soujiro and Akira never let him out of their sight for long. And never, ever did they leave him anywhere where he could drink unsupervised. It was tough to police him at all times like this, but what else could they do-- for when you came right down to it, the only ones they had to rely on were each other. No one else would have understood.

To be continued

~~~man, is that a vague prologue or what? . This fic is the curdled take on 'f4 in the music industry' standard au device/setting, in case you hadn't guessed already. ~~~