On a day that is now far in the past but not too much, Kaine flew into the arms of his audience like a giant scarlet flower, gravity pulling at his body and dragging it down down down mercilessly. The trail of blood that followed him shined under the sunlight like comet tail.

The sun had been high and hot back then, and it still burns Die's eyes whenever he remembers; and he finds himself still shaking a bit at these times, though not as badly as in the beginning.

It's in the past, after all.

And now the story goes like this:

Kaine's hair is still red, though the color is duller and dark roots are showing: he asked Die to cut it for him about a month after his release from the hospital (and, Die is sure, had Kaine done it himself, the result would have made much more sense to the eye than this cropped mop of hair), but he's never mentioned anything about dyeing it again. Die wonders – he really can't help it – if it isn't yet another way to forget, and the thought almost scares him: there are nights when he can't sleep, or afternoons when he feels too lazy to do anything and, in these moments, Kaine's smirking face haunts him, uncaring, only to disappear, swallowed by the mirage of greedy flowers. Gone forever from Die's life.

On such days Die will grab his keys and drive to Kaine's place, open the door without even knocking and Kaine will just be there, blinking at him with a puzzled look on his face or merely staring into the distance, apparently oblivious to his presence. There will be no blood nor pills nor alcohol, and Die will feel selfishly disappointed, because if all of that is simply gone, has simply disappeared before he could fix it, does it mean that a part of Kaine has truly vanished.

Kaine's new home is very small, the furniture neither cheap nor expensive and made of wood for the most part, so different from his old apartment and just as impersonal: the walls and Kaine's stare are so white and empty and huge that Die feels like he's being sucked into a cold void every time.

Kaine's favorite place seems to be the couch (which is velvety under your fingers and the same color as bitter, dark chocolate) because he spends there most of the time when Die's around, and Die, during the last few months, has been staying in his own apartment only to sleep and eat something in the morning. What remains of his time is divided between the last shards of his crushed dream and Kaine, trying to hold onto whatever his left of his friend to prevent him from fading away completely. Sometimes, Die ponders that, in the end, that could very well be what Kaine's long-lost heart actually longs for, but he just can't bring himself to let go; he won't stop being the heavy chain which keeps Kaine earthbound, unable to fly away.

So they spend lazy afternoons and empty evenings together; sometimes in utter silence, with Die occasionally lighting a cigarette or Kaine resting his cheek against his shoulder; sometimes chatting about the most trivial things or (though it's pretty rare) about facts that happened back when they were still high school students, which makes Die feel as though as he's walking on thin ice.

There are times when he's feeling unusually daring, or too much beer has made him foolish, and Die attempts playing an old song with his guitar—he knows the Endorphines are over, but the thought of Kaine is ever-present in his mind, preventing him from composing anything new. Kaine himself has never tried to sing along up until now, and perhaps it's a lucky thing, a good thing for them both.

Sometimes instead they drink and laugh, or decide to experiment and cook something together, even if neither is particularly skilled, because they just know enough to keep themselves from starving when take away food doesn't sound too appealing. These are their better days, when their morale is up without a reason and they choose not to question it, simply letting themselves go with the spur of the moment.

But no matter what they do, Die is always lying: with his mouth of course, but also with his silences, his soft smiles and his eyes. Most likely, some part of Kaine knows this but plays along; Kaine himself is, nowadays, nothing more than a bunch of lies and figments which won't quite fit together anymore. Die knows and wonders yet again; he wonders if there's still something – no matter how small or fragile, as long as it's there – binding them together.

Everything around them is too frail to last—Die himself is, he muses, realizing that they're living inside of a bubble: air and soap which are meant to melt and disappear in due time.

Today, Die awakes rather abruptly to a nasty headache, and Kaine is still asleep at the other end of the couch, one pale hand on his stomach and the other that brushes lightly against Die's forearm as he breathes.

Die blinks, once, twice, till he can make out the empty cans resting on the coffee table and the moquette covering the pavement. The colorful aluminum shines in the same dull way it did when Kaine and he were just teenagers getting smashed in the weekends for the sake of acting like cool grown-ups, and this realization has Die freeze for a long moment, with Kaine's quiet breathing echoing in his ears, making his blood boil sweetly. It's a strange feeling, new and familiar at once, and Die decides to savor it, eyes closed and head thrown back. Then, like an old movie playing on the reddish back of his eyelids, Die is finally seeing it—the future.

He sees this orange light washing away the blank emptiness off the walls; it dances all around and fills everything up—it descends upon everything, enveloping and protecting and warming as his future self wakes up to the sound of Kaine's laughter, intimately meant to mock him.

This powerful light blurs edges and colors, yet every picture is clear in the way which only something that's meant to happen can be. Die sees himself sprawled on the dark brown couch, can almost feel the hellish crick in his neck that he'll surely get from sleeping like that, and Kaine's smile is the same as many years ago, dazzling and captivating, not gentle at all and yet loveable. It's obvious that Kaine must have woken only a while ago, and Die pictures the messy sheets on his bed and, for some reason, he can't bring himself to say aloud: "Bastard," and instead settles with a grin.

Kaine closes his eyes, and they turn into dark half-moons of curved eyelashes and smudged make-up; then, leaning a bit over Die, he says: "Get up already! The sky is clear: today will be a good day," and just when he's about to reply that Kaine himself has never been a morning person, Die feels the other's fingers wrapping around his elbow, trying to shake him awake from his little fantasy.

Opening his eyes, he's met by the sight of Kaine's face, but this time, of course, it's real, and even if his eyes aren't as bright as they were in the dream and he isn't smiling, Die knows it will all come true. Or maybe the stress has merely taken its toll on him, and he's finally lost it, but this feeling – this hope – is too great, too strong to fade away just because it could be an illusion, and Die laughs, startling Kaine, thinking that, perhaps, it will happen when all of Kaine's hair goes back to its original color, and that he'll probably still need to lie about certain things, but – he's sure – in the end it will be worth it. It will be alright.

Die will be finally able to write music again, now inspired by Kaine's smile. And, sure, it won't be eternal happiness, because no one in this life can obtain such a thing, but hoping for a tiny bit of serenity doesn't sound too idealistic (though with Kaine one can never know).

After all, the day Kaine flew into the arms of his audience like a giant scarlet flower is already in the past, and it only grows more and more distant: day after day, minute after minute.

Someday, it will be a good day.

[2008.08.13; revised: 2011.10.30]