A/N: Using Keiichi Kimura for the name of the protagonist, as I do in all of my DeSu fics.
It was quiet in the fields of tall grass and wild wheat. A herd of brown and black sheep surrounded a young man garbed in a sheep skin robe. The man, like Cain, had coarse black hair and tanned skin, and the semblances of a beard had begun to appear on his face. He was Cain's brother, younger than him by a few years, and yet it would be so easy to confuse the two of them. Cain stepped through the grasses, moving slowly so he wouldn't make a noise and alert Abel to his presence. His brother looked nervous, his eyes flicking back and forth across the grass. Cain's body dripped with sweat, and he could feel his hands shake. The ram's horn he carried nearly slipped from his hands, causing him to step forward to grab it again. A twig snapped under Cain's bare foot, and Abel jerked his head up. His brother turned around, and the sheep cleared away from him.
"Who's there?" he called, his voice sickeningly innocent, unknowing of why his older brother, the brother he followed like one of his little lambs followed their mothers, called him out to the fields on a day like today, when there was harvesting to be done. Cain knew there was no way he could hide any longer and he stepped out from the tall grass. Abel released a breath and smiled at Cain.
"Oh, you scared me. I was wondering when you'd get here." Abel smiled, his smile as bile raising as his voice. He didn't realize a thing. Cain swung his foot at a sheep, causing it to bleat and take a few quick steps out of his way. He mumbled something at the animal, nothing all too pleasant. Abel's eyes flicked toward the ram's horn Cain carried. He'd taken it from the altar once the fires burnt out, Abel's offering having been completely consumed by their creator while Cain's were left untasted. An anger burned in his chest, spurred on by jealousy.
The man took a step toward Cain, his hand outstretched comfortingly, but Cain swatted it away. "Is something wrong? You're not still mad about yesterday, are you?"
"…He preferred your sacrifice of blood," Cain said, almost mechanically, yet with a tired lean to his words.
"You are still mad," Abel said. "I can't claim to understand why He wouldn't take your crops… they were a fine sacrifice in my opinion. You shouldn't worry."
Cain didn't know if Abel could see the anger in his eyes, the feeling of hurt and abandonment and jealousy that had consumed him. Abel opened his mouth to try and reassure Cain more. He didn't get to finish his statement as his brother swung the horn at him. The blow knocked several teeth from Abel's mouth and sent him reeling. He fell back, his mouth bleeding, staring at Cain with nothing but confusion. Cain swung it again, and the next blow sent Abel to the ground. His brother began to scream and plead for Cain to stop. Cain crouched over Abel's body and lifted the horn once more. His eyes met Abel's, and he nearly stopped then. His brother's eyes were filled with pain and sorrow and incomprehension and he was crying. Cain realized then that he was crying too. Abel struggled against him, and he swung the horn more and more at him. When Cain managed to pull himself away from the body, it was hardly recognizable as human. Just a lumpy pile of flesh.
He stared down at the body, his breaths coming slowly, rasping. Abel was dead. He'd be able to give God that blood sacrifice he needed. All around Cain, he could hear the sheep bleating.
Abel was dead.
At once, Cain began to cry out in horror at what he'd done. He'd killed his own brother. He looked around at the sheep, who had begun to crowd around Abel's corpse, and swatted them away. He knew God and mother and father would be suspicious. He lifted Abel's body onto his back, and the bloodied, broken skull rested against his shoulder. He began to run, avoiding the hut they called a home and proceeding to his fields. A hoe lay upon the ground, and Cain began to dig a hole.
The tool was unsuited for the job. It took him several hours to dig a hole deep enough for Abel's body. He rolled the body into the hole and covered it once more with dirt, and then collapsed on the ground. The sun was beginning to set. He looked down at his bloodstained hands, and repeated his thoughts. Abel was dead.
The sky suddenly grew clouded and stormy, though in truth, it had not done so the first time this occurred. Cain jerked his head skyward. An unnatural light shone from the clouds, feeling both real and dreamlike.
"Where is your brother Abel?"
Cain's heart began to race. He'd been found out. Perhaps he received my sacrifice, Cain thought wryly to himself. He chuckled a bit. "I am not my brother's keeper."
It was the wrong answer. The voice from the sky boomed even louder. "What have you done? Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground!" And as if in response, Cain began to hear cries of pain from the ground he'd buried Abel in. "I curse thee, Cain, son of Adam! You will be driven from this land, and the ground shall no longer yield crops to you. You will wander this world until the day you renounce your sins!"
Somewhere in Cain's head, it registered that his was not how the events truly went, and that this was merely a construct of his own mind. A pressure formed around Cain's chest, and he collapsed to the ground, coughing, choking under his own curse. He brought his head skyward once more, and began to scream curses at the sky.
"Damn you!" Cain screamed. "If this is how I will be punished for one sin, then you are—"
He never got to finish his sentence before he woke up.
Naoya awoke in a cold sweat in his futon. He put a hand to his head and sat up. His heart thumped against his chest with an uncomfortably fast rhythm, leaving him out of breath. He stared up at the ceiling and waited for his heartbeat to slow. Just an old nightmare. Yet no matter how many times he'd had that nightmare, it was never any less terrifying than the last time. It wasn't uncommon for him to have dreams of previous lives. Sometimes he dreamt of those few happy lives where he'd been able to settle down and have a family, to forget his grudge even for that short lifetime, if only because he wasn't in a good position to try a revolt in that life.
The room was very dark; it must have still been late in the night, or perhaps extremely early in the morning. While it would have been most beneficial for him to go back to sleep, his own thumping heart and shaking body kept him from forcing his eyes closed. He pushed himself up into a sitting position. He stared disdainfully down at his damp shirt. The sweat dripping from his body had caused his clothes to stick to him rather uncomfortably. He tugged on the collar and it peeled away with some resistance. Naoya decided to leave it as it was for the moment.
Something moved against Naoya's leg. He looked down to find a small blue-haired child sleeping against him. Keiichi was curled in a slight fetal position. The boy looked peaceful in his sleep. He'd had likely had a nightmare too; it wasn't uncommon for Naoya to find him curled up here after a particularly bad dream. He stroked Keiichi's hair, and the boy shifted positions a little bit and curled up in an even tighter ball.
He watched the boy's chest rise and fall for a few minutes. Keiichi began to raise his thumb to his mouth, and Naoya gently moved it away. Though his cousin made a protesting noise, he didn't wake quite yet. Naoya couldn't help but be reminded of when the original Abel had been this young. He'd acted much the same way as Keiichi. Blindingly naive, dogging his brother's steps, trusting him so much he'd let himself be led to his death.
Suddenly, Naoya realized he was very thirsty. He carefully pulled the sheet from his body so that Keiichi remained covered and stood up from the futon. He walked out of the room and down the hall to the bathroom. The bathroom was shared by the entire family, so the space around the sink was crowded by hairbrushes, combs, ragged toothbrushes, and half-used toothpaste bottles. Naoya reached behind a bottle of mouthwash and grabbed a plastic cup. He filled the cup with water and downed it. While the cup was meant for washing one's own mouth out after the ritualistic brushing the children of the house committed every night (and only the children; Naoya knew his aunt and uncle quite often skipped out on this), Naoya couldn't be bothered to head down to the kitchen for a cup that didn't smell of Keiichi's mouth.
The tight feeling in his chest began to fade as he drank from the cup. After emptying the cup, he decided to head back to bed. He paused in the doorway to his room and stared at Keiichi. His brother slept so peacefully, his dreams unmarred by memories of lives past. He had it so easy. His soul may have been scattered among humanity, but he could live in ignorance, unlike Cain, the first killer, given a disproportionate punishment simply because he killed God's favorite child.
He walked into the room and stood at the foot of the futon. This boy had an innocence Naoya had never been able to experience. His childhood had been taken from him by the memories that rushed into his mind the moment he was mature enough to handle them. How old had he been then? Eight? Nine? Keiichi had been very young, that was for sure. Naoya's parents had died not long after he remembered, and so long as no one ever realized the odd coincidence in this, their deaths would always just be a terrible accident. The boy moved in his sleep and grasped at the futon, mumbling something in his sleep that Naoya couldn't make out.
It would be simple to take a pillow and smother him. It would be quick and relatively painless. The boy would be dead before he even knew what had happened to him. They'd find the body in the morning, "that disturbed Kimura child" the sure suspect. He'd be miles away by then. No one would know the motive, other than Naoya himself. Just one more dead Abel. Save him from the fate Naoya had laid out for any Abel foolish enough to listen to him. He'd let some other Abel, one who didn't resemble the Abel so much be his King.
It was possibly a minute or more, or maybe an hour, that he stood there, deciding what he should do. He walked back to his side of the futon and began to tug at the pillow. It was caught under Keiichi's head. He tugged it free, and Keiichi's head rolled to the side. The boy squeaked in surprise, and Naoya's blood turned to ice. Keiichi's eyelids fluttered open.
"Nii-chan…?" Keiichi asked, ever so quietly. Naoya sat down on the futon and put the pillow in his lap, his hands tightly grasping it.
"Go back to sleep," Naoya said.
"What's wrong?" the boy asked in a sleepy voice. "Did you have a nightmare?"
A small moment of silence. Then, "Yes. It's not a big deal. Go back to sleep."
"I can't sleep if you've got the pillow. What was it about?"
Naoya silently cursed how persistent this boy was. He placed the pillow back in its place on the futon. Keiichi sat up and rearranged himself before laying down once more. The boy stared up at Naoya expectantly. Naoya wouldn't hear the end of it if he didn't go back to sleep now. He lay down on the futon and put his hands behind his head. He turned his head slightly to look toward Keiichi, and found that the boy was still watching him. "I dreamt that you died and I could never come home again."
The boy stared at Naoya, wide eyed, yet also questioning. He was too young to truly understand what "death" was, so of course he didn't understand what Naoya meant. His index finger moved to his mouth and he began to suck on it. "That's a pretty scary dream."
"Yeah, it was. And don't talk with your finger in your mouth."
Keiichi quickly pulled his finger away and shoved his hand under the covers. "Hey, niichan, if I sleep next to you, will it keep the dreams away?"
Naoya didn't answer, only grunted. He rolled over so he was facing away from Keiichi. This only seemed to encourage his cousin more, as he then said, "I'm going to stay right here and keep aaaaall the bad dreams away!"
Naoya felt something move up against his body again and small arms grasp his waist. He turned his head to see his cousin lying against him, his face in a pout but his eyes slowly closing. Soon, the boy was asleep again, lightly snoring away. Now that the child was asleep, Naoya allowed himself to smile at him. Maybe it would be worth it, to stay with this Abel. He just hadn't been thinking straight as a result of the dream.
He closed his eyes, and slowly sleep began to overtake him, his anxieties having faded away. Soon, Naoya had drifted off as well. Somehow, he felt safer with his little brother beside him. It was almost enough to make him forget why he was there in the first place. His sleep was unmarred by nightmares, and Naoya never did dream of the day he killed Abel again after that night.