Apartment 121. The door was locked, the blinds inside the windows shut against the light. Nagira shifted his grocery bag full of nice, hard liquor to his other arm, fumbling in his pocket for the key. He didn't want to go in. This apartment was always dark, and it always smelled like old long-drank booze, cigarettes and pain. Two out of these three weren't so bad, but the pain overrode them.

Inside. Sure enough, no light filtered through the blinds. What little Nagira could make out in the dimness of the apartment was stained charcoal, hazy shapes lurking around corners. Not that there was much in the apartment anyway. A fewplastic boxes overflowing with glass bottles of all shapes and sizes were stacked neatly (symmetrically, for fuck's sake) by the door, waiting to be recycled. The kitchen had no table, no traces of having been used. At the end of the small room, partially blocked by the stacks of boxes, was the doorway to the living room, looming dark and ominous. Every time Nagira walked through that damn doorway he expected to walk straight into Death. Given the only resident, it was a valid concern.

Empty. The living room contained three main objects: a couch, a coffee table, and a man laying sprawled on said couch. Bottles cluttered the table, arranged neatly in uniform rows, set like soldiers before a battle. These, though, were only incidental.

Silent. Nagira never expected Amon to be awake when he entered this room. At least half the time Amon was passed out, or maybe so drunk he couldn't even form coherent words. Thankfully, even when he was this bad, Amon had the good sense to keep his mouth shut. He was a quiet drunk. Nagira thanked whatever deity existed for that.

Dead. Tonight Amon was stretched out on the couch, one arm thrown over his stomach, one hanging to the floor. Nagira approached him and squinted at his chest, trying to see if there was movement, breathing, life … hope. He picked up Amon's wrist and felt for a pulse, something in his chest tightening when he found one. It wasn't that he wanted Amon dead, exactly. But it would be so much easier if he was.

Labels. Amon didn't drink because he was an alcoholic. Nagira knew him too well to believe that. The neatness and sterility of this place spoke of control, precision, obsessive attention to detail. Amon drank solely because he was too much of a chicken-shit to slash his wrists or put a gun in his mouth. He would have found it too melodramatic (as if this wasn't). He wanted to die, that was for sure, but he also wanted to suffer a little before he went; pay penance with empty bottles and a liver fucked halfway to Hell and back. Had Nagira been a better (or stupider) person he might have tried to save his dramatic little brother. But who could save Amon? Well, who that was still alive could save him?

Haze. Steel eyes opened, pupils heavily dilated, staring Nagira down. Once upon a time Nagira would have never been able to wake Amon up. He had slept like a cat, light and alert. Now he slept heavily and for most of the day, willing himself to never wake up. Damn kid. He never really had enough will-power.

"You came back," Amon said through a hoarse throat.

"Just couldn't give you up, you crazy bastard," he set the bag down by the couch. "How much did you have last night?"

"Not enough," Amon croaked, pulling himself into a sitting position.

Omen. Months of constant self-abuse had demolished whatever Amon had been in his former life. Now he was thin and pale, weak; always sick from starving himself of everything but alcohol, cigarettes, and the occasional piece of dry toast. His hands shook unless he held onto something. His hair was getting far too long for its own good, hanging limply over his face. The Grim Reaper had nothing on Amon in terms of looking like Hell.

"What did you get this week?" Amon gestured towards the bag.

"Little bit of this, little bit of that," Nagira shrugged. Amon wasn't picky; he'd drink anything that burned on the way down. "Mostly vodka."

Reminisce. Before everything happened, back when Amon had still walked amongst the living (kind of) they would every once in a while get together on their nights off. In the cheap liquor store by Nagira's office they would stock up on whatever booze they could get their hands on. Then they'd go to the all-night gym a few blocks away, get on the mats and beat the living shit out of each other. Once they had enough bruises to satisfy their hatred of each other, themselves, everything, they'd go back to Nagira's apartment and drink until the angles of the room were waves and curves. That was the closest to good-times they got. Now it was on the floor of Amon's empty new apartment, and there was no satisfying pain to go with it. At least, there wasn't for Nagira. But what else could he do for his brother? The thought of a man drinking himself alone was sad, but with someone else to drink with, well, it hada betteratmosphere.

Guilt. Suddenly he just couldn't deal with this anymore. This wasn't what he signed up for when he volunteered to watch out for his kid-brother. Assisted suicide courtesy of a fortune's worth of sharp tasting liquid? Great way to spend a Friday night. He could be banging his girlfriend or catching up on work or, or … changing his water filter for fuck's sake, anything but this. Too damn bad if Amon had given up on his life. Nagira didn't want to give up his own because of it. As much as he liked seeing Amon hurt after ….

"I got things to do, buddy," Nagira sat up and started to walk away. "Behave yourself."

Amon shot him a look, and then reached into the bag, grabbing a bottle of vodka and setting to work opening it.

"See you next week," Nagira called from the door, holding one of the boxes of empty glass bottles.

Empathy. His eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the apartment, so the fading sunlight of day stung. Nagira felt his eyes tear up involuntarily. Damn Amon, he thought. Stupid kid had to go and –

Suspicion. One night, Yurika had told him (mechanically, after too much wine) that when Father Juliano saw Robin's body he'd ordered Amon killed. Why that never worked out was beyond Nagira. Perhaps it was too merciful. Perhaps Juliano felt that Amon needed more suffering than Hell could offer him; he needed some mortal pain that made the room spin. And maybe even that was too good for him.

Close. She had loved him. Nagira had seen it the second she glided into his office, bird-bones shaking and eyes wide, whispering that Amon had sent her to him. He never touched her, never flirted (seriously) with her, because he knew he'd never be able to wrench this one away from Amon, no matter how many times he held a gun to her head. And he'd really hoped his stupid, masochistic little brother would shelve the self-loathing and take the one good thing he was ever offered. But he couldn't keep his finger off the trigger, not to save his life.

Resentment. How could he? She's been fucking fifteen, and beautiful, and she'd offered herself up on a platter for him to sample, taste, drown in ….

Crash. Shards of glass littering the sidewalk awoke him from his thoughts. How long had he been standing there like an idiot? Long enough, that was for damn sure. And it was all because Amon had to fucking hate himself so much, but hate quick-fixes like razors and sleeping pills more.

Vengeance. So the damn kid wanted to hurt? Fine. Nagira would make him hurt if it would make him get on with it. It wasn't like he hadn't earned it. He whipped around, ignoring the box of broken glass, and stormed back into the miserable little flat.

"You know," he said, standing over Amon, "she really loved you. Did you ever even realize that? Did you think about that when you pulled the fucking trigger?"

Amon looked up from his vodka.


"Then why?"

A long hard pull, followed by a dry cough.

"There's things you don't know," Amon said softly.

"Bullshit," Nagira said, wrenching the bottle from his brother's hands and taking a long drink himself. "You never wanted to make your life better. Not when you were a kid, and sure as hell not know." Another long drink. "You love pain, buddy."


As if that explained it all.

Nagira handed the bottle back. Amon sipped at it, and finally looked Nagira in the eyes.

"What are you still doing here?"

A half-assed smile spread across his face as he reclined against the coffee table.