warning: Oz/Gil, angst, fluff, semi!au.

a/n: Well, first Pandora Hearts story; takes place after Elliot's death and deviates from the canon scene where both Oz and Gil "come to terms" with Elliot's death. This is just my interpretation of what could have/should have happened. Enjoy, and leave a review? :)

Disclaimer: I don't own Pandora Hearts.

momento vivere

The walls are closing in on him as he lays on his bed, eyes unseeing and clothes rumpled from the tossing and turning; his muscles are sore and his heart aches, a sick pool of sadness, horror, confusion, guilt knotting in his stomach as the earlier events play through his mind like a never-ending record. Forgotten memories and foreign feelings ghosting over his skin, dreams of long-lost gardens and the crushing claws of darkness; he sees the Abyss and a rabbit, he tastes a plethora of flowers and vines, but they all weave together into a web of unfamiliarity. There's a pulsing in his head and no matter how many times he rolls over, face digging into a soft pillow and hands clenching a white nightshirt, he can't shake the illness spreading through his veins.

And his thoughts, his traitorous, numbing thoughts that haunt him when he's alone, remind him that he's not the one who's suffering.

But he doesn't know what to do.

And he hates that he doesn't quite understand anymore.

So when Gil knocks, Oz lets him in and the man enters his room, bruises under his eyes and a dead, haunted spark reflected back at him, Oz can only push himself into a sitting position and blink because he doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to ease the pain when it's obvious that it's affecting both of them but Gil so much more. Oz opens his mouth to say something—anything—just to fill the silence yet no words come to mind to make any of it better.

And that's when he sees a younger Gil, the one who stood up for his master to the man who hated his own son; he sees the time spent playing around the mansion, outside, anywhere. It leaves a nostalgic sort of ache in his chest and he wants nothing more than to be able to offer the same sort of comfort the boy—man—Gil gives to him.

"It's alright," Gil says quietly, setting the cup of tea on the table. Oz is silent, contemplative, worried. He folds his legs, ignoring the tea for a moment, trying to decipher the code that is Gil; he has the urge to yell, scream, kick and cry, just to elicit a response from the rather zombie-like man, his feet dragging and his movements lethargic. It dawns on Oz that sleep has probably escaped him, promising nothing but nightmares much like his own if not worse.

"Gil," Oz finally says, leaning his cheek against his palm, elbow resting on his knee. Said man glances over, a faraway look in his eyes and Oz thinks if he stares too long he might just get lost himself—


"Sit," he responds quietly and quickly, lashes lowering and his other hand patting a spot on the bed next to him. Gil hesitates for a second, always hesitating, before complying and sitting on the edge.

Always so close to the edge.

"You can talk, if you want," Oz mumbles, catching Gil's eye only for a moment before both turn away; he remembers when this was easy, simple, natural. Now it feels as if he's walking on wet stones, two paths to take with one leading to Gil and one leading so much farther away. It's a constant fear in the back of his mind he doesn't address often because he's learned to adjust, has learned to accept whatever comes but sometimes he doesn't like it.

Oz watches as Gil's eyes close, breath escaping in a sigh, waves falling into his face, a pained expression flitting across his features for the briefest instant.

Perhaps talking isn't the best remedy, he thinks, his lips twisting into a frown. He places a tentative hand on Gil's arm, trying to call him back into a reality; he opens his eyes the smallest amount and Oz understands more from the swirling gold than he ever could from explanations.

"It's alright to cry," he whispers but Gil shakes his head, a hand lightly covering Oz's own and for that instant they're connected by more than just master-and-servant or Nightray and Vessalius, B-Rabbit or Raven.

They're not bound by titles.

The candle that was lighted an hour ago has nearly burned down, casting an ethereal glow while shadows dance along the wall; Oz is tired, exhausted, and he can tell from the way Gil is sitting with hunched shoulders and limbs like lead that he doesn't feel much better. So he smiles a thin smile, tugging on the white material of the contractor's shirt to pull him back a bit.

"W-what are you doing?" Gil asks, taken off guard and nearly losing balance.

"There's no way you can make it back to your room without passing out on the floor first, so just stay here for the night."

You don't want to be alone tonight.

In the barest form of honesty, Oz is slightly apprehensive of leaving Gil alone at all because he knows how harsh one's own thoughts can be, how quick resolve can turn dangerous. Wasn't it Elliot who had lectured and yelled at him to not be so quick to throw away his life? But the thought of Elliot brings a chill to his spine and a burning in his eyes.

Impatient and overtired, Oz tugs harder at the sleeve before scooting backwards and unfolding himself, laying sideways and expecting Gil to do the same. He falters but Oz's hand is still clasped to his shirt, unrelenting and expectant.

"Are…are you sure?"

"I gave an order," Oz says, a smirk tugging at his lips at the sheer normalcy of the simple statement, almost as if they are both young again, before the Abyss and before the tangled mess they are trapped in. Gil's stare is innocent, looking much like a lost child, before he sighs and slowly lowers himself onto the bed, facing Oz and unsure if he should really be here because he should be in his own place with his own bed and his own drowning thoughts and half-burned cigarettes.

"Stop thinking."

Oz ruffles the man's hair, clasps the shirt once again and shuffles closer to the other body in his bed, closing his eyes. Gil is stunned, not daring to move or breathe—and then Oz's breaths even out and he's asleep within moments. He can't help but wonder how Oz does it after the Abyss and Alice and the truth, but then he's reminded of the moments where those emerald eyes aren't his own, when he isn't the boy from ten years ago when everything wasn't great but it was still okay.

"Stop thinking."

Gil sighs once more before letting his own eyes drift close, terrified of the nightmares but calm nonetheless; and they end up sleeping through the night, thoughts brimming with unshed tears, bodies close enough to touch.

In the morning, Oz's hand is still tangled in the white shirt.