Hello! As you can see, I'm not dead yet, though I expect many have forgotten this fic. Well, I myself almost forgot about it, so we'll consider it even. University (and a crap load of assignments!), problogging, part-time jobs and other fandoms steered me away from this fic, not to mention that I've lost the original draft. Still, here's the next chapter of Solitude Chronicles. Thank you for your continuous support – your e-mails, private messages and reviews – thank you for all of them. And I am terribly sorry for not being able to reply to them. I hope this satisfies you. And the lyric to the song (How You Killed Me) in this chapter was written by me XD

"If only night can hold you where I can see you, my love
Then let me never ever wake again
And maybe tonight, we'll fly so far away
We'll be lost before the dawn
somehow I know that we cant wake again from this dream
it's not real, but it's ours"
Before the Dawn by Evanescence -

Chapitre 8: Barophobia
Fear of Gravity

The computer screen glared at his tired eyes. For almost half an hour, Carlain spent his time staring at the open document on the crystal bright LCD, eyes sharp and focused on what was written there. There were three programs running – a scheduler, a word processor and an internet browser. Next to the laptop was a thick black book where his untouched coffee cup was laid to cool off. The intensity of Carl's eyes would have melted the screen had it not been for the fact that he possessed no supernatural abilities. His eyes ran back and forth between the scheduler and the word processor, and occasionally they would glance at the electronic article displayed on the internet browser.

The scheduler enlisted all of Shuichi's activities from the past year to the present date. Carl took a long time to analyse Shuichi's visit to England, which was written down in the scheduler. There was no accompanying note next to the departure, and Shuichi had gone to England alone for two whole weeks without a valid reason save for the singer's questionable just-looking-around excuse. Ryuichi had, of course, been so worried before Shuichi called to inform everyone of his whereabouts. Locke had almost filed a missing person report – in other words, Shuichi's sudden flight had been a disaster on their parts. The younger singer hesitated at first before telling them where he was, but that was until Carl threatened to trace his phone number.

Shindou Shuichi - Sage, had no relatives anywhere in Great Britain thus it remained a mystery as to what he was doing in the foreign country. While others had blindly accepted his excuse, Carlain had not believed in him. He was determined to get to the bottom of things. The internet article on his browser was an almost-answer to his dilemma; it was a lab report regarding a new medication targeted for Cancerous cells developed in the United Kingdom, mainly for brain and lung cancer. More than a hundred volunteers worldwide applied as testers, though the full extent of its effectiveness was yet to be reported.

Carlain Winchester was no fool; he knew how far-fetched Shuichi's symptoms to those of bronchitis. It was something more – something Carl was sure would devastate not only him but Ryuichi and everyone related to the younger singer. He was almost sure that it would affect Ryuichi the most that Shuichi found the need to keep his secrets sealed tightly away from the man. Carl did not like to preach, but he had to.

The door to his shared room swung open unceremoniously, revealing a shocked manager. Locke blinked stupidly at the state of the room. The curtain was tightly closed, allowing very little shower of sunlight to seep through the otherwise dark room. He peered at Carl, who had managed to switch to a game of Hearts the moment his friend threw the door open. To Carl's relief, Locke did not show any indication that he was suspicious of Carl's action. Shrugging his shoulders, the manager put a small black bottle on his nightstand and jumped into bed, covering his eyes with a pillow.

"Wake me up before lunch," Locke called out to Carl, which was answered with the latter's simple 'Sure.'

Soon enough, the only sound in the hotel room was reduced to Locke's soft snore and the ticking of the clock on the wall. Carl swept his eyes over the small bottle on Locke's nightstand. His frowned deepened at the similarity of the bottle to the one shown in the lab report he was reading.


Ryuichi stared at the cup of coffee being presented to him; his eyes followed the trail of vanishing steam it gave off, trying hard to avoid the eyes of his sole company in the empty living room. Sakuma Shinichi was just like how Ryuichi remembered - kind eyes and gentle smile.

"I put extra sugar inside just the way you like it," Shinichi proclaimed, breaking the impending silence.

Ryuichi risked a glance in the man's direction and he was immediately rewarded with a gentle, kind smile. A strong wave of guilt and shame washed over him. Suddenly Ryuichi found himself wanting to do nothing but break down and cry in front of this kind man.

"Shinichi-oniisan… ," he started, though not really knowing how and where to start. From the moment of short and simple exchange of greetings at the door, none of them really said anything. The silence between them was both a blessing and a curse to Ryuichi – a blessing because it gave Ryuichi time to devise words he wanted to say and a curse because it unnerved him to no ends. How do you start a conversation with someone whom you had not been on speaking terms with for over ten years? The singer certainly found it extremely hard, but all he could do was to go through it for he knew he had no one but himself to blame.

Shinichi put his steaming cup down and looked at Ryuichi. "How have you been all these years, Ryuichi?"

Ryuichi almost jumped at the question. It was asked in the gentlest tone he had ever heard, throwing him completely off guard. "I've been fine, I suppose."

No, that's not it! What the hell was he saying? Ryuichi resisted the urge to pull his hair out in frustration. He summoned all the courage he had left and looked up to meet the older man's eyes. "No, that's not it. I… I… My life was a disaster, and it still is."

The older of the two straightened up in his seat. His gentle smile transformed into that of worry and ultimate concern. Ryuichi refused to break down. He had a lot in his mind to say and he definitely could not afford to lose his cool just yet. The storm in his head needed to be calmed, if not cleared. He took a deep breath, willing the inner turmoil bubbling on the surface of his heart to a calm rest rather unsuccessfully. He looked up just a little to see Shinichi looking at him with his smile in tact. Flashes of life from long ago threatened to choke him, and before he knew it, he felt warm tears trickling down his face.

It was then that Shinichi's eyes faltered into a mild look of panic. He reached out to the younger man, brushing the falling tears ever so slightly, afraid of scaring Ryuichi away. Ryuichi succumbed into the comfort; he closed his eyes and let the sudden rush of emotion overwhelm his senses. He wondered why he ever pushed the comforting warmth away when he still had it on daily basis years ago.

"You've been right all along, Shinichi-oniisan. I was wrong. So wrong," Ryuichi murmured forlornly. "Everything you told me was right. I just refused to accept the truth. I was scared to even know the truth."

"You need help, Ryuichi."

Ryuichi looked up from his keyboard, arching his eyebrow in a challenging manner. He wondered what claptrap his brother was going to sprout this time around. He had had enough of the older man telling him how he should behave. He was tired of Shinichi trying to tell him what he should and should not do. He was not going to let his brother talk him out of his dream – he was not going to stop pursuing his dream job in the entertainment arena. Sakuma Ryuichi had the look, the voice, the charisma, the personality – he had everything a successful celebrity demanded. Ryuichi was damned if Shinichi asked him to give up his dream.

"What kind of shit is it this time? I don't want to listen to you telling me how bad celebrity life is for me. I told you I'm not going to change my mind."

Shinichi let out a heavy sigh and looked at his brother with apparent dismay written all over his face. "I'm not referring to your choice of career, Ryuichi. I'm talking about you."

Ryuichi rolled his eyes, annoyed. "Oh, what, pray tell, do you think I need help with? I can assure you I don't need help dressing myself or finding my way around. I'm not a little kid anymore, Onii-san. I'm old enough to decide what to do with my own life."

For one brief moment, anger flashed in Shinichi's eyes. He yanked Ryuichi up by the collar and threw the boy against the wall, careful not to let his brother's head hit anything sharp. Before any protest was made, Shinichi pulled his brother's shorts down to his knees and pointed at his now exposed thighs.


Self-inflicted scars.

Since the untimely death of his parents, Ryuichi had started to hurt himself. Somehow, he blamed himself, claiming he was the one who caused their death time and time again. The three of them we involved in a car accident, but Ryuichi was the only one who survived. His sweet, sweet mother died on the scene, and his dear father died on arrival in the ambulance. Ryuichi was fifteen, and still very much attached to his parents who never stopped giving him all the encouragements he needed in his life. When he learned of their death, he had wanted to die with them too.

"You need help, Ryuichi. Let me help you."

Shinichi would have said more had Ryuichi not chose the moment to roughly push his brother away, sending the older man tumbling staggering backwards in shock. Rage, fiery rage, swallowed him whole. His eyes flared dangerously with fury, body shaking as he tried to slow his rapid breathing. The slightest feeling of guilt died as he reminded himself that Shinichi deserved it. He convinced himself that Shinichi did not have the right to pry into his business. Sakuma Shinichi deserved Ryuichi's anger.

"How dare you?!" Ryuichi spat, still consumed by rage and vengeful fury. "I'm perfectly content with what I do! I don't need help! And even if I do, I'm sure it wouldn't be from you! You couldn't even help your dying wife and you want to help me? You must be joking!"

A loud pang resonated around the suddenly quiet room. Ryuichi's mind reeled from the impact of Shinichi's furious palm against his cheek. He didn't need a mirror to see the bruise that was forming. For a moment, time stood still between them. None of them moved or said anything for a full couple of minutes. Shinichi was quick to feel guilty about hitting his brother so hard. As small trickle of blood escaped Ryuichi's mouth following the impact, Shinichi knew he had gone too far.


"No, don't say anything."

Shinichi watched in stunned silence as Ryuichi shoved his clothes into a large trolley luggage he had and packed his keyboard into its carrying bag. With one final glance at Shinichi, Ryuichi headed for the door.

"Ryuichi –"

"I'm leaving."

"Wait –"

The door slammed shut.

"You were too young, then. Your thirst for rebellion was still strong then. I'm sorry I did not understand you better."

Ryuichi shook his head. "No, you have nothing to be sorry for. I should be the one apologizing. Even if we were arguing, I should never have mentioned Rika-oneesan. It was not fair, I know. I guess I just wanted my words to hurt you."

He had been running away for too long. He refused to succumb to the force of gravity - refused to be pulled back down to Earth. He refused to see how far he had strayed from the path he once led.

Silence reigned between them until Ryuichi finally looked up to gaze into the understanding eyes of his elder brother. Without hesitation, he rolled his sleeves up and showed Shinichi the scars he had, now without any dollop of makeup to hide them from view.

"I need your help, Shinichi-oniisan."

Shinichi smiled.


Shindou Shuichi was an angel, Yuki thought earnestly.

Even after he had done and said hurtful things that drove Shuichi away from him, they young man could still plead in his letter to his friends to spare Yuki the blame. If Shuichi did not blame him, why did he greet Yuki with hurtful words? Why did he not want to see any of them? Why did he live without telling anyone? Why did he hide his letter so.. so… carefully? Even though the letter was addressed to his former band members, Shuichi had hidden the letter so neatly as if he did not want them to find it. Maybe he hoped his friends would never find the letter.

"Did Ryuichi leave you anything?" Tatsuha inquired, looking straight at Tohma who was still reading Shuichi's letter.

The president shook his head in dismay. "Unfortunately, no. I couldn't find anything in our workroom or his old apartment. When Nakano-san first informed me of Shindou-kun's letter, I had immediately started looking around for anything that Ryuichi might leave for us to find. I couldn't find any. I guess he really didn't leave anything behind."

Tatsuha closed his eyes, swallowing back the pain that threatened to resurface.

There is no other way for me.

Hiro and Suguru were most confused by that single line. What could possibly be so bad that Shuichi thought there was no other way to escape it but to leave everything he had behind? Even K could not determine the real reason behind Shuichi's abrupt flight. It is even weirder that the letter held an air of desperation so great that it left its readers breathless. They could feel Shuichi's desperation – his frustration, his confusion, and his overpowering grief. The only thing they could not decipher was the reason 'why'.

Their attention immediately switched to Tohma who cleared his throat softly as he look at the other occupants of the small meeting room. "I don't want to say this, but… Um… Shindou-san sounded as if something he could not help had happened to him."

K frowned at the notion. "Something he could not help?"

Tohma nodded. "Something like… Death."

Yuki held his breath. Tohma did not just say what he thought he said. Tohma did not just associate Shuichi to the dreadful word 'death'. "Why would you say that?" He asked softly, anticipating what his brother-in-law had to say about his premonition.

"He said it's even better for him if we hate him or forget about him. He sounded like he was going to die, and he left to save us the pain of losing someone we love in the hands of Death. If we hate him, it won't affect us at all if he dies."

Tohma's words rendered everyone speechless. The room fell into perturbed silence as they relate the content of Shuichi's letter and Shuichi's reaction upon their little 'reunion' to what Tohma had just said.

Could it possibly be true?

Now that Yuki could think clearly, the blood that Shuichi claimed to be unreal did not seem fake at all. The substance looked real in Yuki's memory. Was it real blood? Was Shuichi sick?

Was Shuichi dying?

"No, that can't be true."

All heads snapped towards Yuki. The novelist kept shaking his head, continuously denying the hypothesis. There must be another answer as to why Shuichi left. Shuichi. Could. Not. Be. Dying.

"He can't be dying."



They watched helplessly as Yuki bolted from the room and promptly vanished from view before Tatsuha anyone could call him back.


You were the love I once held dear
in my eyes, in my mind, it was all clear
I would let you take it all away
I would die for you every other day
Even if it's just so I know you're okay
I refused to know, refused to see

That your eyes never really saw me
and now I live with the truth
and I'm screaming
I'm crying
I'm bleeding

I cried the day I realised
You killed me with your eyes
your golden coils of lies
You killed me with your lips
your mouth forever zipped
You killed me with your heart
your shining work of art
Did you not see? (Did you not see)
Did you not see how you killed me?

You were the one who held my heart
in my eyes, in my mind, we were never apart
I would let you take it all away
I would die for you every other day
Just to hear you say you're okay

I refused to know, refused to see
That your eyes never really saw me
and now I live with the truth
and I'm screaming
I'm crying
I'm bleeding

You told me you just realised
You killed me with your eyes
your golden coils of lies
You killed me with your lips
your mouth forever zipped
You killed me with your heart
your shining work of art
Why is it only now you see? (Did you not see?)
Did you not see how you killed me?

You were the love I once held dear
You were the one who held my heart
And that is how you killed me
time and time again...

Shuichi stared at the music sheet. Somehow, the new lyrics fit snugly into the melody. He personally liked the way the lyrics rolled off his tongue, synchronizing with the melody he composed from the scratch. Ryuichi was not there when he woke up. He wanted to show the piece to the older man, all the while wondering what Locke and Carl would say to it. It was not as heartbreaking as the last song he composed. Granted, he was still very much shaken after everything that happened from before and after their first concert. Seeing Yuki again after so long shattered his confidence. It shook the barrier he struggled to build around himself. Even after so long, Yuki still had an extremely powerful effect on Shuichi. He should have know, having infatuated with the handsome novelist for years.

He was about to sing the song for the second time when the door to his room was opened by Carlain. Shuici offered a bright smile upon seeing the young producer closing the door behind him. The moment he saw the grim look of Carl's face, however, his smile faltered.

"What's the matter, Carl?"

Carl held Shuichi's gaze, determination set in place. "We need to talk."

- To be continued -

Ah… I have seriously lost my touch…