Disclaimer: I do not own Gravitation, or any of its characters. I write this piece of fiction solely for fun, and not for profit. Also, this work will feature several lyric samples by the Ataris. I do not own these, either.

...Holy cow, I wrote a mature disclaimer for once.

Disclaimer Two: This is a very dark story, very different for me. I got the shivers just writing the first chapter. It's dark, it's gritty, it's real. But knowing me, the fluffy bits will work themselves in somehow. But, just as a warning...It's dark.

Crushed Velvet.

Chapter One: Lullaby

xx

Stumble. Clink. Clatter.

Shit.

Shuichi flinched, silently praying to everything he could think of, that somehow the beer bottle he'd just kicked, and broken, would go unheard as it clumsily made its way into oblivion. The alley.

Shuichi tried to step on any glass. He didn't mind the pain, much, anymore, but it would sting, and he would yelp.

He couldn't help it.

He was vocal.

Not as much as he used to be. Now, he knew how to be quiet. He'd learned how to tiptoe, whisper.

He'd done so with great difficulty, but eventually, he'd achieved silence.

He pushed a rebellious strand of dyed-pink hair from his nose, trying his hardest to minimize, muffle, each movement. He didn't want to wake anyone up. He couldn't. It was...dangerous.

He had an apartment. Somewhere. But the rent was long overdue, and the place was despicable anyway.

Besides, on nights like this, dark, so dark, and blurry, he couldn't remember where it was.

He didn't know where he was, either.

Sit down. Wince. Try not to squirm.

He rested his head against the side of a garbage can. Metal. Cold.

Grit your teeth. Clench your fists. It's okay, you can shiver.

You can cry, here, in the dark.

No one's here, Shuichi, he reminded himself, not entirely convinced yet.

You can cry tonight, and it will go unheard.

xx

From this second-story window,

I can hear the church bells calling out my name.

This table is set for one.

xx

"Go home, Seguchi."

Tohma sat down on the couch. Plaid, ugly, ratty. And itchy. He shifted. Why did Eiri still have this thing? He could afford better.

He could always afford better.

"I wanted to see you, Eiri-san," Tohma said softly, sweetly, his voice dripping syrup, honey. He leaned back, trying to make himself comfortable on the hideous couch, making it clear he was not going anywhere.

"Okay, you saw me." Eiri flicked his cigarette, his arm hanging, dangling, lazily off the armrest. Tohma watched the flickers of light fall to the ground. Crash. Smother. Dead. "Now get the fuck out."

"Eiri-san," Tohma cooed, sticky-sweet, molasses. He leaned forward, cupped Eiri's handsome, grimacing face in an elegantly-gloved hand, "is that any way to talk to your brother-in-law?"

"It's the only way." Eiri swatted the hand away, and moved further down the couch, out of arm's reach.

Always out of arm's reach.

"Just one night," Tohma implored. "One more?" He tried to look innocent, tried to look sweet, harmless, with a good-natured twinkle in his eye.

But he knew Eiri well enough to know that all Eiri saw was the evil glint in his eyes, the sparkle of the blade he kept always on hand, just in case there was something he needed to slice. Mangle. Destroy.

Power could be quite convenient, sometimes.

"I'll tell my sister," Eiri said, his voice choked. Strangled. He'd been smoking too much.

Always smoking.

Always remembering.

"And why would she believe you?" Tohma took Eiri's hand, placed it lovingly inside his own gloved one. Tohma wore his glove on top of his wedding ring.

Wouldn't want it getting tarnished.

"When was the last time you told anyone the truth, Eiri-san?"

Eiri coughed. Too much smoke. He wriggled his hand free of Tohma's, still coughing.

So much smoke.

"You're an asshole," Eiri said, his voice all but stolen.

Tohma blinked. Stood up from the couch. It was ugly, and it smelled like smoke.

Just like him.

He couldn't stand it.

Eiri smirked. Tohma couldn't help but liken the glint to Eiri's eyes to that in his own.

"There, I told the truth. Now get out."

xx

Even angels would be homesick in this forsaken town.

xx

Shuichi's eyes jerked open.

He bit his bottom lip, held back a whimper.

He'd been stepped on. His finger twitched helplessly, without his permission. His pinky finger.

He chewed his lip harder. Chomped. Choked back a sob.

It was the nicest, most expensive-looking boot he'd ever seen.

It even smelled good.

Shuichi tried not to move. He tried forgetting how to breathe, how to exist.

It never worked, though.

"My, my," a voice said, pouring into Shuichi's ears from above. He couldn't see that far up. It was dark, and it hurt to move. Shuichi imagined this voice coming from heaven, if there was such a place.

Sugar-coated. Rhythmic. Hypnotizing. Like a chant, a lullaby.

Lullaby.

The edges of everything blurred, fuzzed, melted into darkness.

He hadn't slept in days.

"What is such a pretty little thing doing out here?" Shuichi heard the voice ask, to no one in particular.

He hated being called pretty. It sounded girly. It was demeaning.

And it was a lie.

Shuichi knew he was dirty. Filthy. It didn't matter how many showers he took, how frantically and obsessively he washed himself, whenever he could...

He was dirty.

Shuichi felt himself being...lifted. This person, his hands were so soft. Silk? Velvet? He couldn't remember, he didn't know.

He fell asleep in this person's arms, to the tune of his voice. Melodic, captivating.

The last thing he remembered it saying, the final verse of his lullaby, echoed through his mind as he faded into unconsciousness.

"Let's see if I can't clean you up."

His teeth released his bottom lip. He tasted the blood, along with his own tears. Salty. Dirty.

You can't clean me up.

In this man's arms, he cried himself to sleep.

I'm dirty.

xx

A/N: Wow. I'm pretty sure no one enjoyed that. I love dark, twisted things, but...wow. A few lines in here really made me cringe. Just a few points I have to bring up.

This is an experiment. I wanted to try writing something a bit more realistic than usual. Something with substance. I was tired of candy heart stories. I wanted to really sink my teeth into something...and come out with something amazing, something I may never have thought of before.

This story...is gonna be one heck of a journey.

I also wanted to experiment with the third-person narrative, which I, for one, think I'm terrible with. It's practice. I'm also working on what Vindalootoo, one of the most fantastic authors in the Gravi section, calls 'intense third'...which is pretty much like limited omniscient...but...intenser. :D

Speaking of Vindaloo...I hope this doesn't seem too similar to 'Casting Couch'! I actually started writing this before she posted that story. It all started when I read a newspaper article about prostitution...

This is getting really long, but one more thing. Please don't hate me for making Tohma a bad guy! I don't hate him anymore, but I still like to think there's always some maniacal cackling going on behind those serene smiles. Someone has to be the villain, you know. Oh yeah, and the blade I mentioned is just a metaphor. Sorry, I don't do violence. Just angst. :D

Lastly, if anyone actually made it through this whole thing, thank you SO much for reading! I don't really expect anyone to like this, but hey, constructive criticism is always welcome! So tell me what you think, please. And thanks again!