Author's Notes: Another one about the brothers, set in the tree house. It starts before 'Desperate Times', but spans... well, you'll see. There're a good deal of spoilers up until the game's end. The songis 'Angel's Lullaby', by Richard Marx... which is a beautiful, beautiful song, if you can manage to find it. Now; enjoy!

Oh, wait, one last thing! I've been told this one's even more depressing than usual, so this is the official angst warning... Now enjoy. ^_^


The quiet of nightfall had descended on the tree house, bringing a kind of peace to its inhabitants, lulling them with the quiet whisper of the wind through the trees and the hush that the blanket of stars brought upon the world below. In the large room downstairs, a fire burned comfortingly against the darkness, and a Woren boy sat before it, warm and contented, lost in thought. His eyes were half-lidded, weighed by sleep, and it wasn't long before he rose slowly, stretching, to make his way up the stairs.

Slow, padded footsteps brought him shortly to the top, and the Woren made his way blearily into the darkened room, casting aqua eyes about in a brief gesture of habit. He couldn't help but smile at the sight that greeted him; a young boy lay sprawled across one bed, violet hair falling in hopeless disarray and in countless directions.

I was never alive...
Till the day I was blessed with you...

The expression on the Woren's face was gentle as he regarded his little brother. He still almost couldn't believe how easily they'd come together, how well they'd managed to get along... How it seemed impossible to think of life without him now that he was here...

Had it really been so short a time ago that he'd found the boy unconscious in the woods, alone and abandoned? Had it really been so short a time ago that he took the child into his home, the place he'd lived for as far back as he remembered? He could hardly remember when the cocky boy with sanguine eyes hadn't been with him. Because before then, the Woren had been alone, too......

When I hold you late at night...
I know what I was put here to do...

A whimper from the sleeping form drew his attention, then, and a slight frown creased the Woren's features.

"Please no..." The murmured words of the sleeping child were slurred, thickened with sleep. The terror in his tone was unmistakable, however. "Please... Don't let her..." Nightmares again. The frown deepened slightly in response to the observation. It seemed as though the boy suffered from them constantly... But he denied them as long as daylight managed to keep them at bay.

"Rei... Please... Please... Don't let her take me......"

The quiet plea drew him to the bedside, the Woren's heart seeming to constrict as Teepo shifted restlessly, pale face creased with fear of the dream images. Clawed hands surprisingly gentle, Rei lifted the child from the bed as he took a seat himself, lifting the slight form into his arms effortlessly.

"Hey, Teeps..." he whispered, softly enough to avoid waking the boy, as he smoothed a silken strand of violet hair from his forehead. "It's okay. I'm right here...... I won't let anyone take you."

I turn off the world...
And listen to you sigh...
And I will sing my Angel's Lullaby...

Slowly, very slowly, the boy relaxed, brow smoothing as the nightmares were dispelled through a gentle touch. With a sigh, the child shifted slightly, leaning against his brother comfortably and unconsciously taking a loose handful of vest in one hand.

"Huh," Rei grinned down at him. "If you were awake right now, I'd have a foot in my stomach... hard." The Woren's hand brushed away more of the mussed purple hair, smoothing it; his smile softened slightly as the child moved again, making himself comfortable in his brother's lap. "Glad you're asleep, I guess. Don't get to see you so quiet whenever you're up and around."

Apparently some part of the boy was still registering what was going on, though, because this drew a discontented murmur, in the tone of his usual joking threats. With a chuckle, Rei stroked the violet masses of hair soothingly. "Calm down, I didn't mean it..." And when the boy settled once again, the Woren knew he was still slumbering; the waking Teepo didn't take orders, even if it was his big brother giving them.

Long moments drew onward as Rei cradled the sleeping child in his lap, quietly regarding his sleeping form... And then, in the dark, the Woren began humming softly, strangely driven in an effort to comfort the boy further.

The song was old, and scarcely remembered, a fragment of a memory seemingly ages ago, before the Woren's mother had decided he wasn't worth the effort to feed and abandoned him... Only a word or two came to Rei as he hummed it softly, not enough to actually attempt putting them to the tune. In several places he couldn't even quite recall all of the melody, and so he made it up before returning to the segments he knew for certain.

But it was a pretty song, lacking though it was, and Teepo relaxed further in his brother's protective arms, drifting to sleep once more under its spell.


Know I'm forever near...
The one you can always call...

"REI!!" The scream tore through the little tree house, frightened and urgent, more than a little unsteady.

Stairs proved little barrier to the Woren; he leaped them four at a time, padded feet bringing him into the small bedroom on the second story in no time at all. "Teeps?" he shouted, concerned. "Teeps, where are you? What's the matter?"

Rei's eyes widened sharply as he spotted the boy; crouched by the bed where he had fallen, he hugged his knees to his chest and tried as best he could not to cry too loudly. When he heard the Woren's voice, though, Teepo glanced up, relief flooding his face at the sight of his brother.

"Rei," he gasped between sobs, "She came to take me!" His crimson eyes were wild with terror. "She was here, she was here, and she was... was..." He broke off into tears again, babbling softly but incoherently.

Right now all you know to fear...
Are the shadows on your wall...

With a worried expression, the Woren moved quickly to kneel beside his crying brother, stroking the boy's hair softly and wrapping strong arms about him protectively. "Shh," he urged quietly. "Shh, it's alright, Teeps. It was just a nightmare."

"But," the boy stuttered, protesting. "But I saw her! She was... She was..."

"Just a dream," Rei insisted gently. "Nothing but a dream. Or maybe even the fire from downstairs, throwing the light around."

Teepo raised his dusky eyes, still wet, to the Woren's worried aqua ones. "...Really?"

A warm smile reassured him. "Really."

I'm here, close enough...
To kiss the tears you cry...
And I will sing my Angel's Lullaby...

Scowling slightly as the Woren brushed back a strand of hair from his face, Teepo blinked rapidly to clear the tears. He struggled to push his brother away and stand, having recovered rapidly from the disconcerting period after waking from a nightmare. His usually pale cheeks were flushed with shame; the boy was angry with himself for letting a dream get to him so badly.

"No," Rei told him firmly, keeping his hold. "I'm not gonna let you leave while you're crying."

With a glare, Teepo snapped, "But I'm not," ignoring entirely the tears still streaming down his face.

Sighing, the Woren leaned forward, brushing his lips to the boy's cheek tenderly. Silently, Rei put his fingertips to his mouth... and drew them away wet. "Yes," he told the boy softly, "You are."

For a moment the child stared up at him with dark, tear-filled eyes, trembling slightly... And then he collapsed, as though proof of the lie rendered him unable to pretend any longer, leaving sobs to wrack the slight frame held in protective arms. Small, quiet gasps filled the air as Teepo cried, burying his face in the Woren's shoulder, shaking in the aftermath of the dream terror. Gradually the sobs subsided, though, both quieted and covered by the sound of soft humming.


Tell me how to stop the years from racing...
Is there a secret someone knows?

"...Has it really been that long?" The Woren could hardly believe what he knew had to be true. "It seems like I found you out there yesterday."

Teepo snorted, dismissing the statement effectively. "Seems to me like I've been here forever."

Rei chuckled, used to the violet-haired boy's remarks of the sort. "I guess it was forever ago, for you... But it seems like I just closed my eyes and... here we are."

I'll never catch all the memories I'm chasing...
I'll never be ready to let go...

The boy laughed, and it brought a cheery sound to the kitchen. "Then whatever you do, don't rub off on me- the last thing I need is to start falling asleep for five years!"

Rei's answering grin was sunny, reflecting the warm light that streamed through the kitchen window. "Y'know, I remember you when you weren't any bigger than the table," he smiled, watching Teepo pile apples into a basket.

"And I remember when you used to spend all day thinking out one robbery that didn't work." He paused and cocked his head, feigning contemplation. "Oh wait. That's now." Grinning hugely, the boy barely had time to duck the tail that flew toward his face.


And when the world seems cold...
And you feel that all of your strength is gone...

It was gone. They were gone. Everything was gone.

He felt like crying, but all of the tears had already fallen, and he only felt empty now that they had gone, too. Even the arms wrapped loosely around him, meaning to comfort but succeeding only in rising a nameless sort of disgusted dread, were not enough to force him into action. Even Myria's touch, so gross a parody of those who had actually cared for him, wasn't enough to drive the boy to shrug her away yet again. He felt cold inside, dead.

He couldn't fight her anymore. Not when she had told him what would happen if he tried.

There may be one tiny voice...
Your reason to carry on...

Everything was gone.

Any hope of finding his brothers again and picking up whatever remained of their lives was dashed to bits. So too were the wishes of finally going to Wyndia with Ryu and Rei to live, where they wouldn't have to steal anymore, and could manage enough to eat so that days wouldn't elapse between meals. And even more, any dream of being something besides the worthless little orphan boy whose parents hadn't even wanted him died the moment he was taken from the world whose acceptance completed the wish.

But every now and then, when the thought would come to him that the sword he still carried could solve the problem quickly, something stayed his hand. Vaguely, he clung to the hope that someday he would see his brothers again, if only to say goodbye.

And when I'm not close enough...
To kiss the tears you cry...
You will sing your Angel's Lullaby...

A soft melody drifted emptily through the false beauty of Eden, sounding alone and desperately weighed by sadness. Its simple tune was broken by quiet sobs, and vaguely reminiscent of better days, a time when at least the brothers had had each other.

Let this be our Angel's Lullaby.

Now, it was all that was left.