Author's Note: Reviews are always wonderful: I'd especially appreciate some constructive criticism. If it isn't clear (which I think it is, but still), each new section is a new point in time. And, of course, Kaine and all related characters belong to Kaori Yuki, not myself.

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I always came when he called.

We were friends, of course. That was what was expected of me. To come when he called. Like I was his dog.

We were both stupid kids, drunk on adrenaline and high on endorphins, taking on life with no holds barred. Both of us were popular. But I could never outshine him. He drew people to him, pulled them into his orbit and never let them go.

I was just as enthralled by him as all the rest of them were.

"Get over here," he'd demand. I'd start to move, but then he'd wave me back down. Then he'd walk over and look over my shoulder, always leaning on me and wearing an all-too-familiar smirk.

"They're lyrics," I stated, before he could say anything.

"They suck." He would stand straight again, strutting around my chair and resting his elbows on my desk, all too conscious of how everyone's eyes followed him.

"Shut it, Kaine." I'd stretch out my legs as I responded, taking in the boy everyone identified as my best friend. I was the only one he was close to. He had everyone in his orbit... but no one was allowed to touch him. No one except for me.

"Can't take a critic?" He'd say, stretching one of his pale hands out to shift the papers on my desk towards him, mockingly running his eyes over them again.

"Bastard."

"Are you jealous of me, Die?" He'd ask coquettishly. How many times had I heard that question? It was always accompanied by another smirk, something that hid a deep pain. Something he tried to hide. But it sounded like a reasonable question. Everyone loved him. Everyone was just as fascinated by him as I was.

I should hate him for that.

But I couldn't. He captivated people... he captivated me.

"We're starting a band," I said off-handedly.

"Oh yeah?" His voice was languid, and he straightened himself out, before sitting on my desk, brushing a stray strand of his hair out of his face. Then he leaned down, his eyes intense and his face inches from mine. "So?"

"If nothing else, you're as good-looking as a lead singer should be," I told him matter-of-factly. If nothing else. Hah. He had a voice that could shake all of Japan, and a face that would be plastered on billboards and posters, all over the country. He would be famous. That was inevitable. All that I could do was to chain him by my side, and then I would be able to rise with him.

"What, do you have the hots for me or something?" His smirk was back. He found himself so amusing. How much irony did he think was in that statement? How true did he want it to be?

I never responded to that. He could imagine up his own answer. We had this conversation too many times. This scene played out like someone's favorite scene on a video tape. Played until it was worn out. Until something finally changed. Until he finally gave me an answer.

"I'll do it."

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He knew I would always come when he called.

That's why he did it. It was a desperate cry for attention. More than that, it was the plea of a kid that just wanted to be loved. Had he ever had anything that he could call pure love?

I guess I was the closest he could get.

Nothing I felt for him was pure. It was tainted far too much by hatred for what he was doing... to me, to everyone around him, to himself. But as much as I hated him, I couldn't abandon him. He had captured me a long time ago. I was his prisoner, and he would never let me go.

This razorblade was just one reminder of many. Sometimes it would be his house key. Other times, the top of a bottle of prescription drugs. Maybe a knife or a bullet. Always, I rushed over, always thinking that I could just leave him. It wouldn't be my fault. He was killing himself... why did I have to stop him?

I always found my way to his door.

It was always unlocked, and I'd find him on his bed, or on the couch, killing himself and simply waiting for me to save him. He was waiting. I knew that much. The day I didn't come would be the only day he would actually go through with it and kill himself. He could if he really wanted to. But he had never done anything to himself that couldn't be cured: and that was exactly the point.

All he wanted was validation that someone cared for him. Even though he pushed everyone away from him as much as he could, he wanted proof that someone loved him even after he rejected them. And he knew that I couldn't help but follow his summons... I never seemed to be able to say no to him.

This time, he was lying on his four-poster bed, his hair spread around him like blood-red wings, and crimson blood tracing a path down his pale wrists as he held his arms above him. "You came, Die," he said calmly, his eyes lethargically sweeping towards me. I saw something almost like a gleam of triumph in his eyes, before they became impassive once again.

I was silent. There was nothing, really, that I could have said to him. Instead, I grabbed the end of the bedsheet, tearing it up into two long strips and binding his wrists, then reaching over him for the phone.

I didn't call for an ambulance, of course.

I had only called 119 once, in a blind sort of panic, the first time he had done something like this. Now I called our producer. She would know what to do, what hospital to put him into, which doctors could be bribed to keep their mouths shut. So Endorphins' lead singer could remain the perfect prince that the public saw him as. So Kaine could keep glowing in the spotlight for the world to see, and sinking into the shadows with only me to watch him.

She would be coming soon, she said. Just make sure that he didn't do anything else to himself. I put the phone back down, straightening myself up and sitting next to him on the bed.

"Why do you bother, Die?" He asked. His voice was still strong, even though he could have been dying, but there was a tone to his voice that was only obvious at times like these. This was what he was hiding with his sarcasm, his arrogance, his devil-may-care attitude towards the world: this aching need for someone to accept him.

I didn't answer. I never did. He knew why... and if he didn't, then he was free to imagine whatever answer suited him. I just sat next to him in silence, wishing I had a cigarette, and waiting for the producer to come.

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Why couldn't he have called out for me?

I would have come to him.

I could have saved him. Just like I always had.

"Damn it. You bastard."

I stood up, walking over to him. "Wake up." I stumbled, nearly landing on top of him rather than sitting next to him. It was only then that I noticed blood pouring down from wounds on my legs... on my chest... on my arms...

It was strange how I couldn't even feel the pain.

Was this what shock was? This numb, empty feeling?

I managed to sit down next to him, to look at his face. That was when it sunk in. Kaine was gone. He would never have looked this peaceful if he was still alive. Surrounded by a crimson halo of blood, his hair splayed out... I bent down and brushed a strand of his hair away from his eyes. Then I was on my knees beside him, just looking into his face.

Vaguely I heard screaming. Small, insignificant noises. It was easily drowned out by the ringing in my ears. It was high-pitched and painful, like the feedback from an amp prolonged endlessly. Maybe it was because of the gunshot. It had been so loud.

I had given him that gun.

I had thought I was protecting him. But I could clearly picture the smirk that would play on his face. He would find it funny. He had finally forced me to kill him.

Damn him.

He was smiling so calmly, without any sort of guile at all. It was hard to even recognize him like this. His face held no hint of his ever-present smirk, and his pale skin was almost glowing under the bright stage lights. I couldn't even see his shadow.

Maybe that was good. I could always see his shadows... in his eyes, in the way he acted, in the way he always broke our promises. Maybe, after he was gone, he could stop being haunted by his darkness.

And maybe I could finally be free of the shackles that bound me to him.

I could be free of him. Now and always.

No.

As I looked down at his angelic face and the content smile that graced his corpse, I knew that was wrong.

I would never be free of him.

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I knew that I would always come when he called for me.

I could almost hear his voice. Not his speaking voice, that indolent voice that hid self-loathing and a keen need, but his singing voice. A sound that made my lyrics resonate, touching a cord within anyone who heard him.

A sound like an angel singing. A beautiful angel with a broken heart and broken wings.

I brought my guitar to his funeral. Maybe he'd like that. He had never been one to discuss what would happen when he died... someone else might find that strange, maybe, after he had tried to kill himself so many times. But that wasn't the type of person he was.

No one had come to his funeral; not for him, not really. Of course, there were hundreds of thousands of people that said they were mourning for him. Mourning for the loss of a pretty face, of a pretty voice, of a pretty mask that hid a scared little boy.

In the end, they could care less.

I mourned for the person that I had seen behind the fa├žade. The kid that I cared for far more than I should... the kid who always broke his promises and made up with me without ever doing anything different.

Nobody would ever sing like he did, with every simple word turning into a sermon. That kid could get you to believe in God, even as he worshipped the devil.

I played Imashime no Oto. The Sound of the Condemned.

He was the only one who knew that song. The only one who could ever sing it. I think it's best that way. So as I played the melody, and his funeral pyre was lit, I wondered if he was finally at peace. Flames, brilliant like the fiery color of his hair, stretched up towards the sky. Sparks lit, flew, and disappeared in a second, just like he had risen to the top of the world and jumped off the highest peak it had to offer him.

There was no one to cry for that lost angel. Just me and my guitar. Maybe he would have liked that.

"I couldn't care less what you do." I could have sworn, for a second, that I heard him speak, his words pushing me away as he held onto me even tighter. Like always. He'd walk towards me with a swagger in his step, and he'd stand beside me and look down with a disdainful smirk.

I couldn't help but smile at that. I could still picture him so vividly... it was hard to believe he was gone. Maybe some people, if they were in my place, would have been relieved that he was dead. But I was still ensnared by his bright red hair and his sad eyes. I always would be.

I stood up after I finished playing. For a while, I just stood, looking at the flames and the ashes. That was all he was, now. Nothing more. Whoever had said that people live on in our memories was a liar.

I paused for a second, and then looked down at the flower that I had set beside me. A red rose: beautiful, but covered in thorns. It reminded me of him. With a soft sigh, I picked it up and threw it into the fire with him.

I knew I would always come when he called me. Always. It was just impossible to believe that he would never call for me again.