Regulus stumbles down the stairs in a house that doesn't belong to him; the mask makes it hard to see. Regulus thinks its better that way, and tells himself that he's done well.
He's got to get out, he thinks, and stumbles over his too long robes. He is irrationally afraid he will be sick on the carpet – even if he is, no-one will care. He searches frantically through for the front door; the house didn't seem this big before there were two dead bodies upstairs, but now there are, it seems like a maze. A picture on the mantel piece catches Regulus' eye: parents and two little girls smile statically at the camera, holding ice-creams at the beach. One of the girls has red hair. Regulus throws the frame on the floor and stands on it for good measure. No-one needs it anymore.
Outside, Snape is waiting. Regulus wants to say something – he supposes he ought to boast of what he's done, or at least affirm he's done it - but he is afraid if he opens his mouth he will vomit everywhere, so instead he locks eyes with Snape, who nods once, slowly. Regulus' head is spinning.
"Come on," Snape says, and grabs him by the arm. Regulus still hates Apparating, finds his body cannot grow accustomed to the feeling, and when they reappear in front of a dingy pub, Regulus really is sick, all in the gutter and onto the hem of his robes. He cleans it up shakily afterwards, barely able to hold his wand in his trembling fingers, and Snape watches on dispassionately the whole time.
Inside, in the smoky darkness, Snape buys him a Firewhiskey, and Regulus doesn't know why. The liquor burns his throat, and Regulus lights a cigarette. His fingers aren't trembling anymore. Snape drinks in silence, avoiding eye contact with everyone. Regulus wonders why Snape even bothered bringing him here, if all he was going to do was glower at him in silence.
"You're not much like your brother," Snape says eventually. Regulus says nothing – it's exactly what Sirius wouldn't do.
In the alleyway behind the pub, after they've both had too much to drink, Snape's eyes gleam, and he pushes Regulus up against the wall and crushes their mouths together. Regulus can feel something hard pressing against his thigh, which isn't right, because Regulus doesn't like men, but right now he doesn't care because someone's holding him and someone's hands are in his hair. He knows he shouldn't be doing this, and imagining his mother's face if she knew what he were up to makes it just that little bit sweeter. He supposes maybe he is like Sirius after all.
The alleyway is filled with heavy breathing and dappled fluorescent street lighting. Snape is pressed all up against him, and it hurts a little bit, but Regulus thinks it's better than way, easier. He tries not to think of fragile bone-masks and bodies that are already dead when they hit the floor with a hollow thump.
When it's finished, Regulus is leaning against Snape, his legs like jelly, his head resting on Snape's shoulder, trying to remember where he is. His first thought was, why did I do that? His second was, I'm not sorry that I did.
Snape pulls away first, not quite meeting Regulus' eyes. He turns to leave, and instinctively, Regulus catches hold of his sleeve. He means to ask, "Where are you going?" or, "What just happened?", but instead the words that come out of his mouth are: "I don't want to go home." They sound pathetically weak and childish even to his own ears, and he regrets opening his stupid mouth immediately. Snape freezes for a moment, and then gives an angry, jerky shrug of his shoulders. He turns away again, and this time, Regulus follows him.
They take the Underground back to Snape's. Regulus doesn't ask as Snape pays confidently in Muggle money, and the look in Snape's eyes says, never mention it again.
Snape lives in a dirty high-rise flat, with no elevator. Regulus stumbles up flight after flight of stairs, now desperately aware of how tired he is. Snape seems to be able to climb the stairs with an easy, practised grace, which somehow reminds Regulus of how his father had carried him upstairs to bed as a child. Regulus wants to grab onto the hem of Snape's robes and see whether he can feel the safety of his father's arms in the material. He knows this is ridiculous, but he is tired, too tired to care. Carry me, he wants to say, but that would mean that he was too weak to make it alone, and that's something Regulus can't bear to think.
Inside the flat, Regulus hovers awkwardly by the sofa, undecided whether he should just lie down and sleep there. Snape holds the bedroom door open and looks at Regulus, who staggers gratefully towards him. The bed is hard, and the mattress is lumpy, and the two of them lay next to each other, but not touching.
"I knew them," Snape says, after what seems like an eternity.
"Who?" Regulus asks, although he already knows.
"The two from today."
After that, there is silence. Regulus finds it very hard to sleep; when he eventually does, it is fitfully, and he dreams of the broken glass of a photo frame underfoot, except this time he's not wearing shoes, and the blood runs red like the girl in the picture's hair.
When Regulus wakes up in the morning, there is already sun in his eyes – Snape is dressed, and there are deep bags under his eyes. Regulus wonders if he slept at all.
"I'm leaving," Snape informs him, and Regulus is left alone in the flat. He doesn't know if this is an act of trust, or an act of indifference; with Snape, it's hard to tell.
Regulus spends a lazy morning poking around Snape's grungy flat and chain smoking. He finds a bottle of Firewhiskey in a cupboard in the kitchen, and settles down on the sofa to drink steady glass after steady glass. He knows soon, he will have to go home, that his mother will ask him where he has been, and he won't be able to answer. He doesn't want to think about that. Instead, he simply stubs out his current cigarette in an old saucer that he has been using as an ash-tray, dirtying the tips of his fingers on the cinders that have accumulated there. Lighting another cigarette – his last, dammit – Regulus takes in a deep breath, waiting for Snape to get home, and watches as the patterns curl in the smoke.