Disclaimer as before.

Thanks to all my reviewers, and apologies for the time it's taken.

For sparkleshadowcat, who finally got me moving. Thank you!

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A gun; a stench of sweat; an overwhelming sense of terror – he cried out, trying to struggle, but his hands were restrained and as he moved, pain shot through his body, radiating from his shoulder.

He cried out again, twisting his head away, tears of pain and fear leaking from his eyes. A hand on his arm made him flinch away with a sob, and it dragged him from his nightmare.

Opening his eyes, blinking away the tears, Rei focussed on a dark skinned, female face in front of him. "Sweetie, I'm Lisa. I'm a nurse. You were having a nightmare, I thought you'd want to wake up."

Nodding mutely, Rei cleared his throat then whispered, "Thank you."

The room was dark, lit only by the light coming through the door from the corridor. Rei could only see Lisa's white uniform and her teeth as she smiled reassuringly at him.

Lisa handed him a glass of water before he even had to ask, and he took a grateful sip before handing it back. "Thank you," he said again, louder this time, although his hands were shaking even more.

"I've got to carry on with my rounds now, but I'll keep an ear open for you." She patted his arm softly then left, shutting the door behind her.

Alone in the dark, Rei let the tears fall.

- - - - - - -

Twenty minutes later, someone pushed open the door and slid inside, clicking it shut behind them. Rei rubbed at his cheeks, and turned his head as nearly silent footsteps tracked across the floor. "Who's there?"

"Shh, it's only me." Kai. The older boy flicked on the bedside light. "Sorry, the nurses are around. Didn't want to get caught."

Rei blinked several times, then turned to look at Kai. "Where did you go?"

"Just for a walk." But his eyes flicked away, not meeting Rei's.

"Don't lie to me. You know I can tell." His voice was quiet but firm, and he reached out to hold Kai's wrist in a strong grip.

"The police station. Someone called me, told me… the guys who… they made bail and were released from hospital. About an hour ago."

Rei closed his eyes, releasing Kai's wrist as though he were no longer strong enough to hold it. "What did you do? You can't be arrested, I…" His voice cracked for a moment before he could speak again, "I need you here."

Pushing his friend gently over to the other side of the bed, Kai perched on the edge. "I won't be arrested. They'll never find out what happened. No bodies, no evidence, no crime." He shrugged. "The cops will just think it's another two assholes on the run from the law. Even if they don't, I've taken precautions."

Blinking slowly, Rei processed this. Generally opposed to revenge, and also to capital punishment, the young man supposed he could make an excuse. He looked up into his friend's eyes, and nodded slowly. "I'm glad," he whispered, holding Kai's hand with his own as though it was a lifeline.

Silence fell, and Kai mutely gripped Rei's hand between both of his, then brought it to his chest and held it close, letting the younger boy feel the steady beat of his heart.

He sighed, gave a brief, sad smile up at Kai, then let his eyes drift shut. Within seconds his hand was limp in Kai's grip, and the callused fingers gently guided his arm to the bed. Letting go with one hand, Kai held on tight with the other, vowing not to leave his friend alone even for a moment this night, the second of many bleak nights to come.

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Rei awoke to a soft snuffling sound close to his ear, and a tight grip on his hand, and was momentarily terrified before he recognised the dark hair that had flopped onto his face. Kai.

He must have moved, as there was sudden movement from beside him and Kai sat upright. He squeezed his hand briefly then let go. "How are you feeling?"

Rei let a small smile slip though the mask – a mask he had carefully constructed to keep from screaming in remembered terror – and cleared his throat. "Better. Morphine kicked in not long ago, I think."

Kai snorted, not indelicately, and ruffled his hair, before looking embarrassed. "Jello?"

This drew only a groan from Rei, who raised an arm and put it over his eyes – which, Kai noticed, were suspiciously dilated. Apparently Rei's guess about the morphine had been correct.

"I'll see what I can do."

Scrambled eggs and toast went down very quickly – particularly Kai's portion, which included two slices of bacon. Apparently, he could be nice to people when he wanted to be, and had charmed the nurses into providing exactly what he wanted.

Rei ate most of his before pushing it away. At Kai questioning glance, he shook his head. "Still a little queasy. The anaesthetic must be slow wearing off."

"Sure you don't want any more?"

Looking away from the plate, Rei shook his head. "No more." To be honest, the sight of the food was now making him feel seriously ill.

"Fine." Kai shrugged, and switched the plate with his own, munching on the remaining half slice of toast and scooping up the eggs with a fork.

A knock on the door announced the arrival of a nurse, pretty and blonde, with a nametag that read 'Rachel Evans'. "Good morn- Oh. Hello, I'm afraid you're not supposed to be here. It's outside visiting hours."

Kai stood up slowly, unfolding his lean and muscular figure. "He needed me to stay." The silent threat from his body language and the faint note of pleading in his voice combined to sway the nurse, at least a little.

She frowned. "I'll see what I can do."

Rei held back a smile at her unconscious echo of Kai's earlier words, before whispering a thank you.

The nurse softened at the weakness in his voice. "That's alright, sweetie." She glanced back at Kai. "I'll clear it with the duty nurse."

He nodded, softening his posture and settling back on the bed. "Thank you, Rachel."

She was somewhat charmed by his use of her name – most people just called her 'nurse' – and by his obvious fondness for his friend. Checking on the IV drip leading into Rei's damaged arm, she nodded. "I'll be back in about an hour to change that for you."

Rachel left, as crimson eyes followed her from the room. Rei had collapsed back onto his pillow, already exhausted and feeling sleepy once again.

"You okay?" Kai glanced down at Rei as the door closed.

"Uh-huh." One golden eye opened. "Morphine's running out. My arm's hurting again."

The older boy snorted. "You'll get it when you need it, I'm sure."

There was silence again, and when Kai glanced down at his friend, he noticed the deep and steady breathing that signified sleep. He sighed, and brushed damp hair back from the pale face. "Dreamless sleep, Rei."

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Feedback feeds the writer's soul. It's hungry.

Fortunately, chocolate isn't so hard to come by, so the rest of me doesn't suffer.

Kazuki.