Hi, everyone! It's Zan again. So sorry it took me forever and a day to get this chapter written and posted. .:deep bow:. Please have patience with me! TT.TT

Satoshi seems so out of character in this chapter! .:cries:. They both would be to an extent after everything they've been through, but still!

So, until chapter twenty-one, bai now!

The sky was a brilliant strobe light. In flashes it was light as day while in reality the clocks over town were striking midnight—at least, those clocks that ran on battery-power were. The electricity had been knocked out for hours. Heavy rain beat a steady tattoo against the rooftops of the city, a pounding drum for those still awake to dance to. The throbbing tempo was a perfect soundtrack to the two teenagers in the upper floor of a lonely apartment building.

He pulled back somewhat in surprise, his eyes wide and shocked. "You do? After everything I've done… everything I haven't done… everything… you can honestly say that?"

I love you, too. Those four little words, so sweet yet so rare. Satoshi had never dreamed of hearing them from Daisuke so soon. He'd thought he'd have to prove his love to the younger boy, and that prospect frankly scared the hell out of him. He didn't know the first thing about the physical side of love between two men. Well, he had a general idea, but not knowing the details for certain unnerved him.

Satoshi's surprise sent chills down Daisuke's spine, but at the same time set him somewhat at ease. Had he said the wrong thing, acted out of line? He truly loved Satoshi—how long had he known for certain? —but did he do the right thing in admitting it? But at the same time, he felt that Satoshi truly was as naïve as he about these things—not that he knew exactly what "these things" were. As the butterflies in his stomach searched fruitlessly for a place to settle, he nodded. Unable to look Satoshi in the eye for fear that the blunet would see his fear and unease, Daisuke lowered his eyes to his hands resting in his lap and thanked any higher power that was looking out for him that it was dark in the room.

The cool feel of Satoshi's hand on his flushed cheek guided Daisuke's face up. Their eyes met in the semi-darkness, and they drifted closer. The boys' eyes fluttered closed as their lips brushed together.

Something inside Satoshi sparked, setting a fire deep inside him. Their kiss, gentle and asking at first, escalated into something else entirely. Satoshi's arms slid around the frail redhead short of possessively as his lips ruthlessly plundered Daisuke's. Eagerly Daisuke participated, seeking to cool his own fires and set his heart at ease.

The boys fell back together across the mattress without breaking their kiss. Daisuke threaded his fingers through Satoshi's hair, clinging tight to the older boy, while Satoshi's hands skimmed down Daisuke's bare torso. Satoshi sat up on his knees, straddling the redhead's waist, to eagerly pull his shirt up over his head. He tossed the cloth to the floor and traced his hands back up Daisuke's body, pressing the younger boy's hands into the pillow on either side of them. Satoshi felt the younger boy trembling beneath him as he lay carefully atop him.

A sudden feeling of warm dampness on his face stopped Satoshi. Propping himself up on his elbows, he looked down at the vulnerable redhead lying beneath him, eyes soft with concern and dark with love. Tear tracks glistened on the younger boy's face, tracing from the corner of his tightly-closed eyes to his ears. Reverently Satoshi leaned down and kissed the wet twin trails.

"Dai-kun?" he whispered. "Why are you crying? Do you want me to stop?" His fingertips danced softly over the sides of the little redhead's face in a soothing motion. "Dai-kun?"

"I… I'm scared!" Daisuke cried after a moment. Eyes still squeezed closed, he turned his head away. A soft sob escaped his throat. "I'm frightened, Satoshi."

"What are you scared of, Daisuke?" Satoshi made his voice gentle and coaxing, reassuring. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to, kaji. Just talk to me, please. What are you afraid of?"

"I don't know," Daisuke sobbed. Flashes of his last night at the correctional facility kept racing through his mind: the heavy feeling of Kazumi on his back; the feelings of utter helplessness and fear as he realized he couldn't make Kazumi stop; the blood blossoming across Koji's chest. "I don't know," he repeated brokenly.

Slowly so as not to startle the poor boy any further, the blunet commander rolled off his would-be lover, but did not leave his side. Very gently he cupped Daisuke's cheek. "Is it me? Are you scared of me?"

Daisuke's eyes snapped open immediately, claret clashing with cerulean in the dim moonlight. "Iie! No, not you." He held Satoshi's hand to his cheek and nuzzled it softly. "Never you."

"Then what?" Satoshi kept his voice gentle though inside he was screaming with frustration. "Please, Dai-kun, kaji, I want to help you. But I can't if you shut me out."

"I-I'm sorry… I'm not afraid of you, it's just…" His voice trailed off as he wondered how to put his feelings into words. It's time I stopped acting like a child and running from my problems, he told himself firmly. This is Satoshi-kun, my Satoshi-kun. He would never do anything to hurt me. I love and trust him. So what am I really afraid of? "I guess I'm just afraid I'll disappoint you in some way," he stalled.

Satoshi blinked, startled. "Disappoint me? Kaji, whatever would give you such a crazy idea? I love you, you could never disappoint me!"

Daisuke fidgeted. "I've never done… I mean, I don't know how… I mean, I'm not a complete idiot, I have a basic idea, but…" Flushing a shade to match his hair perfectly, Daisuke glared at the pillow beneath his head. Embarrassment fairly radiated from him.

He couldn't help it: Satoshi burst out laughing. Anger and hurt fused in the pit of the redhead's stomach, tempered with acute humiliation, and he sat up, pulling the covers from his lap and moving to leave. "Well excuse me if I'm not little mister experienced!"

Still chuckling, Satoshi pulled him back, enveloping the frail boy in his arms. He pressed his face into the delicate curve of Daisuke's neck and held tight to his shoulders to keep him still. "Gomen, gomen, I didn't mean to upset you, Daisuke-kun. I'm not laughing at you."

Daisuke raised an eyebrow.

"All right, I was laughing—but not at you, honestly! At how cute you are." Satoshi smiled. "But what makes you think I'm so… experienced, to use your word?"

The redhead shifted nervously, uneasy with being put on the spot. "You seem to know exactly what you want and how to get it… while I…" he stopped speaking before he could further incriminate himself, a hot blush staining his fair skin.

Satoshi smiled softly. "I don't know any more about what I'm doing than you do, baby." He kissed the soft curve of Daisuke's shoulder. "You can trust me. I'd never hurt you. I don't care that you're 'inexperienced'; I wouldn't change that even if I could." He grinned then, and his hand began to move lower, further down Daisuke's abdomen. "Besides, there's something distinctly sexy about your naïveté as it is, and your first time will be mine as well."

Another flush crept up Daisuke's skin, but this one was the fever of the passion ignited in his blood rather than the embarrassment of his virginity. Still, something bit at his mind, ate at his conscience. He felt almost as if he was lying to Satoshi, but why did he feel that way? He doesn't know about Kazumi… or Koji… Would he still feel the same for me if he knew what happened, what almost happened? Daisuke caught Satoshi's wandering hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the fingertips and palm with feathery precision. "Satoshi, before we do something you might regret, I need to tell you what happened while we were apart…"

Satoshi sat quietly throughout the story, still holding Daisuke's slender body close to his own. A cold hatred built up inside him but took backseat to the anguish he felt on behalf of the two younger boys. He felt horribly about everything Daisuke had been through—he'd thought he'd known. How could I have thought he'd abandoned me? As terribly as Dark had painted the picture, Daisuke's version was worse. Softly he stroked Daisuke's sides, back, anything he could reach, trying to comfort him through the retelling of the horrific tale.

When at last the narrative was over, Daisuke lay slack against Satoshi. He sniffed and hiccupped, and realized he was crying. Dimly he wondered when that had started and wiped his nose on his arm. Satoshi reached around him and pulled a handkerchief from the bedside table, then tenderly wiped Daisuke's face clean. He placed his hands softly on the boy's heated cheeks and tilted Daisuke's head until their eyes met. "Hey."

Daisuke reluctantly raised his eyes, but said nothing.

"It's not your fault." Satoshi brushed his fingertips across Daisuke's temples. "It's not. None of this is your fault. It's just a series of bad events."

"He died, Satoshi—" Daisuke choked on a sob.

"Shh." Satoshi gathered the distraught redhead to him, stroking his hair and back. "I know it was bad, baby, but you can't blame yourself."

Daisuke buried his face in Satoshi's chest and hiccupped over a sigh, then sat straight up and pressed his lips urgently to the blunet's. Surprised and no little bit startled, Satoshi resisted for a moment.

"Don't you love me?" Daisuke asked when Satoshi didn't kiss him back.

"Of course I do, I just don't—"

"Then love me." Daisuke looped his arms around the blunet's neck. He rolled back onto the bed, pulling the older boy down with me. "Make them all go away. Please, make it all stop. Love me."


"Say my name." But betraying his own order, Daisuke silenced him by engaging in their hottest kiss yet.

Satoshi could feel his control slipping through his fingers but he didn't know what to do about it. He fisted his hands in the pillow on either side of Daisuke's head, nearly whimpering as the silky strands of Daisuke's hair snaked across the bare backs of his hands. Why was Daisuke acting so possessive?

"Say it." Daisuke ground his hips into Satoshi's. His hands were busy trying to touch every inch of the blunet's body at once and kept tripping over one another. His nails were leaving tiny angry furrows in the older boy's pale skin.

Satoshi whimpered at the delicious feelings and tried futilely once more to regain control of the situation. "Niwa—"

"Say it!" Daisuke all but shouted. "Say my name!"

Satoshi sat up suddenly, grabbing the redhead's hands. He held onto his wrists tightly, holding them securely against his chest. Daisuke struggled against the restraints, yelling over and over for Satoshi to call his name, begging for that one word. Tears were streaming down his cheeks angrily.

"Daisuke!" Satoshi brought the back of his hand against the redhead's cheek; not hard, just enough to get his attention. The tears stopped abruptly, glimmering in Daisuke's eyes, transforming them into translucent rubies.

"S-sa-Satoshi?" he whimpered, his voice watery.

"Stop it, Daisuke," Satoshi said, his voice softer now. "This isn't you."

The younger boy shrank back against the mattress. "I'm sorry, Satoshi…"

"Go to sleep." He placed his hand lightly over Daisuke's eyes. "It's okay, just… get some rest, okay?" Slowly he moved off the redhead.

"Okay," he whispered back. "I'm sorry…" He reached out and caught the material of Satoshi's pants. "Stay with me? I'm sorry, I am, I'll behave, I'll be quiet, anything, just don't leave me."

Slowly Satoshi sank back onto the bed. "What do you want me to do?" he asked almost harshly.

Daisuke sniffed and wiped at his eyes with the heel of his other hand. "Just stay with me." The tears had started up again. "I won't try anything, I swear. I just don't want to be alone again."

Guilt washed over Satoshi and he took Daisuke's hands away from his face. He pressed soft kisses to the tears. "Shh, Daisuke, it's all right. Just go to sleep, okay? I won't leave you. Here." He pulled the boy up a little until his head rested in Satoshi's lap. Softly he stroked the younger boy's tresses, gently scratching his scalp. "See? I'm right here. It's okay."

Daisuke hiccupped again on something that was half cough, half sob. "Thank you…"

"Shh," he soothed. "Go on to sleep. I'll stay by you."

All was quiet for the longest time. Daisuke's breathing had evened out and deepened. Satoshi sighed and leaned against the wall. His fingers automatically continued their mindless journeys through Daisuke's hair. Then, out of the darkness, came a soft, shivery voice.

"I love you, Satoshi."

He smiled tiredly. "I love you, too."

The sudden cool of the bed brought Daisuke up from the dregs of sleep. Pale moonlight filtered in through the open window, he could see it through his closed eyelids. He heard a voice from the darkness of the hall, but his sleep-drugged mind wouldn't process the words properly. Dully he rolled over and tried to coax his eyes open and his mind alert, but both stubbornly ignored him.

When the voice came into the room, Daisuke was about to fall asleep again, but at the sound of his name, his body decided to cooperate. His eyes slitted open. Satoshi was on the phone, his voice hushed, but Daisuke could make the words out now.

"I don't know about Niwa. I'm going away for a while," he said to the person on the other end. "I just need some time to myself… to think some stuff out."

The sounds of another person talking—it was a female, from the pitch.

"No, I'm going by myself." He cast a hurried glance towards the bed, and Daisuke immediately shut his eyes. "I'll be fine. I'll be back in a few weeks, or something. I don't know yet… No, I haven't been planning this, I just have a lot on my mind right now… Okay, I'll call you when I get back. I love you, too." The phone clicked, and the line was terminated. Daisuke heard Satoshi place it on the stand on the beside table, then the mattress dipped down again as the blunet slid back into bed. He gathered the supposedly-slumbering redhead into his arms and sighed deeply, his face buried deep in Daisuke's hair.

In the darkness, a single tear slid down Daisuke's cheek.