Title: Precipice

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Ha, I wish I owned this. I'm afraid I don't own a thing and won't make any yen.

Summary: The witness to a friend's breakdown tries to prevent his own as he ponders fate. Giovanni character piece; set at the end of episode 18, Independence.

Author's Notes: If this sounds familiar it was once on two smaller sites. Maybe on here it'll actually get read.

This was written a year ago and I can't for the life of me remember where the idea of Claire being drugged came from, so don't ask.
I remained watching the youth sleep as Daisuke's footsteps grew fainter. I could only hope the effects of whatever the attackers injected Claire with were wearing off.

Not that he was much different off the drug.

I didn't dare move. Too often, his peaceful slumbers would descend into nightmares, leaving his throat raw and his body bathed in sweat.

The nightmares were practically the only times Claire conveyed any emotion, any reaction to what we'd endured. Perhaps it was easier for him to keep his pain contained, but I couldn't see how.

Though I remained strong in his presence, I reacted frequently in private, screaming and sobbing to every higher power as I shot rounds at bottles in the alleyway when it was safe out.

They all had Noriega and Mauro's faces.

Claire curled into a foetal position, fisting the blanket. I waited for the grip to loosen before taking the blanket from him to cover him.

It disturbed me, seeing how the mighty had fallen. It was nearly immediate, from a king to a peasant within the course of a day.

Would the confident person I once knew ever return, would the shock ever wear off? Or would Claire spend the rest of his days in a constant search for ghosts?

The pain of Ian and Mitchal's deaths were devastating for me, but the pain of watching Claire's soul die was unbearable. If he joined the others in the abyss, I'd have to follow. The prospect of going on without him, the only family I had, was too much for me to even contemplate.

Ironically, I grew up a latchkey, shuffled between various relatives and foster parents I barely saw. I basically raised myself and never grew too close with anyone. I knew there was no point, what with them all either moving away or expiring eventually.

I would still be that boy had Lorenzo Leonelli not found me that day. I met Claire soon after. He was so tiny, sitting on that hard bench. He seemed as lonely as I'd been my entire life.

As he stared at me with those large, brilliant eyes, the urge to protect him from the horrors of the world gnawed at me. We immediately bonded and I gladly took up the role of friend and bodyguard, despite being unable to become official until my training and hiring at eighteen.

Mitchal occasionally teased me about being a mother hen towards Claire. It had irritated me, but I wasn't so sure I hadn't become one as of late.

I watched the teen a few more minutes until I was convinced a nightmare wouldn't come soon. Satisfied, I washed up, took a blanket and pillow from the closet, and made a pallet beside the bed.

I was sure I'd drift off the instant my head hit the pillow. Instead I lay awake for at least an hour, gazing up at Claire's pale, delicate face in the dim light. He was so helpless and it destroyed me. Before now he'd at least had his money, his confidence and his bodyguards.

All he had now was me.

What would our fate hold? Would we be running for the rest of our lives, constantly dodging bullets? With the code to the safe soon to be in the hands of the city government, a little of the pressure should be off, but I knew we'd never be left completely alone.

Suddenly I yearned to have Mitchal and Ian back. Maybe everything would work out better were I not going it alone.

Claire let out a sigh, shifting again. I turned away from him, laying back on my pillow and facing the ceiling.

I'd never felt so helpless in my life. I could do nothing but make sure we survived each day, keeping our heads down. And, of course, sustain hope.

Kia and Daisuke had stuck their necks out for us, and now Shogun had given us this room. Perhaps there were reasons to keep hope alive.

With this in mind, I finally fell asleep, basking in my moment of peace. With any luck it wouldn't be the last one.

The End