Disclaimer: In no way shape or form do I own the Anime "Ronin Warriors" or the characters therein. I'm not profiting from this piece, either. I'm just havin' some fun! I hope ya'll enjoy!

A Hand to Hold

A stormy night, a dark and rainy sky, and a cold room… it's the worst. Rowen rolled over for the umpteenth time, now facing their solitary window on the West side of the house. The rain pounded against the glass pane and the wind rattled the outer shutters ruthlessly. The house was silent in the late hours but with the noise coming from outside, it kept the bluenette awake. He just couldn't sleep, hard as he tried. Sitting up with a sigh, he glanced through the darkness, only faint light illuminating the room through the window, to gaze at the other bed in his room: the one belonging to the bearer of Halo. Sage always slept so silently, hardly making a sound or even moving in his sleep. How he could sleep so peacefully, Rowen wondered, almost jealous. But there was a calmness as well as a fierceness to this blonde that could not be denied… even in the worst situations, he maintained his self-control and kept a level head… how was it possible to calm his mind no matter what? Rowen wished he could be so calm…

Well, around the others, he didn't seem to struggle with it. He'd laugh and joke and mess around, and no one seemed to notice just how dark he was on the inside. Well, maybe Cye was catching on… he'd been staring at him more often now when he was quiet, so in all honesty, Rowen… had been ignoring him, avoiding him. He knew he should apologize. Behaving in such a way to a dear friend was very mean and he didn't want to upset anyone. Sometimes, though, that Brit was just too damn observant.

Rowen shivered, so he hugged his knees close, trying to become as small as he could, to lock in his warmth. His t-shirt wasn't helping any to warm him. Why was it that he felt so cold at times like these? When his mind would go to dark things, it was as if all warmth would leave him, and he just felt… so alone. Just like back at his father's home where he grew up. It was difficult… most of the time he'd be all alone in that dark, cold house… He'd come home from school and work silently on his assignments instead of making friends to go out with. He'd have to fix his own meals and at times go without if his father forgot to shop or at least leave some money. But that wasn't the worst of it… What Rowen wanted so much was attention… to be praised, to be held in warm, caring arms… for his existence to be acknowledged… what he got, however, wasn't fair. On bad days, some of the only days he'd see his father, he'd come home drunk. His breath smelled of liquor and his eyes were glazed over… he truly was frightening. Most of the time, Rowen would hear him coming and retreat to his room where he could hide. When he was like this, his father… just wasn't normal. On more than a few occasions, however, he was unfortunate enough to get caught and on those days, he wished for something else.

…He wished he could disappear.

His methods of torture would vary between mindless beatings, slurred screaming and berating, and twice… he was even strangled. One couldn't imagine what he'd felt during those times. To feel his father's strong, calloused hands wrapping around his thin, frail neck. To feel his father's raging heartbeat as he tightened his grip, and to smell and taste the alcohol on his breath… it was intense. The smell… even now, he could smell it. He was almost drunk off it himself, but those memories were enough to ward him away from drinking. He never wanted to become like his old man… Who would he end up hurting if he did? No, it wasn't something he wanted to think about. Thankfully, he got away. He found people who would never hurt him and who actually loved him. Still, what would they think if they found out? Would they treat him differently? Would they pity him and try to spoil him? Though it would be cool in some ways, Rowen knew it wasn't something he wanted. He just wanted everyone to think he was this happy-go-lucky genius boy… but there was one who knew. He knew…. Because he'd seen him in that terrible state. That one person… was sleeping in the bed across the room.

It was raining that night, too… and he'd inconveniently forgotten his umbrella at school, so he had to rush home in the torrential downpour. As soon as he got home, he showered and proceeded to dry off. He stepped out of the bathroom in his jeans, heading to the kitchen to get some tea made…. But his father was home early. His feet were glued to the floor, his eyed wide, every muscle in his body tensing up. It was clear the moment he looked into his eyes…. It was one of those days. He never did find out what set his old man off, but before he knew it, he'd taken a back hand to the face, sending him to the floor. Before he could get up, a foot connected with his ribcage and forced the air out of his lungs. He couldn't breathe, his vision blurred and the whole room was spinning. Rowen closed his eyes tightly, trying to regain his composure, brain screaming at him to get up and run, but when he heard his father's footsteps walking away, he thought it was over. He thought he was safe… but he was so wrong.

It was a new sound… strange, metallic… Rowen feared what it's source was, but he knew he would find out soon enough. The boy debated opening his eyes to see or keeping them closed until it was all over, but in the end, they ended up opening and the first thing they were able to focus on was the knife in his father's hand. Never before had he used a weapon like that on him… Rowen's mind was racing, his heart pounding so hard as though it was trying to leap from his chest. Was this it…? Was his father going to kill him now? Is this how he was going to die? He was frozen stiff as his father knelt over him, staring down blankly… did he even recognize him? Did he know who he was or what he was doing?

The first cut came slowly… a shallow cut across his cheek, as though the man was testing to see if the blade was sharp. Rowen grit his teeth, feeling the cold steel slide through his delicate flesh and afterwards feeling the cold blood leak from the wound, beading up and rolling down his face. Rowen tried to plead with his father to stop, but the man above him showed no reaction whatsoever. That's when… it all went downhill. Rowen couldn't remember how many timed he'd been cut… some deep, some shallow… but every single one of them hurt like nothing else he'd ever felt. With every slice, he cried out in pain and desperation, begging for someone, anyone to save him. No one had come for him before, despite their apartment walls being so thin, but for the first time ever… a savior walked through the door. It slid open and Rowen weakly turned his head to see his classmate standing in the doorway. He was holding the umbrella Rowen had forgotten, still dripping from the rain and his eyes… they showed absolute horror. Rowen's father stopped only for a moment to stare up at the intruder, but he was too far gone to care. Rowen's breath was coming in short gasps, blood splattered all over and tears forming in his eyes. Tasukette… he wanted to say. He wanted someone to save him, but in his father's state, he might lash out at anyone. This boy, Sage… he was fairly nice to him. Smart like he was, but also a bit of a loner. He didn't want his classmate to watch him die or get hurt, himself… so instead of asking for help, he strained his voice- weak from screaming- to say one word.

"R…run…"

The boy's eyes widened more, clearly distressed by what he was seeing. Perhaps he wasn't as smart as Rowen thought, for a smart kid would turn on his heels and run far away from there, but this boy… he wasn't about to do that. Instead of fleeing, he dropped his book bag and the umbrella and charged right at the crazed man just as he rose the knife again, ramming right into his side. The man yelled and fell off of Rowen, temporarily stunned. Rowen had never seen anyone stand up to him like that… nor had anyone done something like that for him before. His vision was blurring again, his body weak from the pain and bloodloss, and slowly his eyes were starting to close. Tired… so tired…

"Don't…! Don't close your eyes!" A voice, so kind and clear called out to him. Who was it…? Could it be… Rowen's eyes opened weakly and saw the boy leaning over him, carefully shaking him. Rowen had never heard this boy's voice before, even in class… it was so soft… and almost entrancing. Was this what angels sounded like?

"Oi! Stay with me! Don't fall asleep! Hey!"

"G….gomen…" his eyes were starting to close again, his exhaustion catching up with him. "I can't…"

"Yes you can!" The blonde looked around for something, anything to wrap around Rowen, who was staring to shake as shock was setting in. He found an old blanket and wound it tightly around him. Rowen winced as his wounds were touched, but he didn't stop. Once he had him wrapped, he managed to awkwardly lift him onto his back. It was then that the man was starting to regain his composure and the blonde had to hurry. He looped his hands under Rowen and rushed out the door. Rowen could hear his father yelling, but the voice was getting farther away… His consciousness was slipping, his warmth draining out of him, but there was a strange heat coming from this boy…. This was a form of contact he'd never felt before, and somehow… it felt nice. Rowen let his cheek rest on the back of this boy's neck, breathing shallowly and one arm managed to slip free of the blanket to drape over his shoulder, clutching the front of his shirt.

The blonde ran as far as he could, not once stopping to rest or minding the looks of the people on the street. Through this contact, their bodies pressed against each other, Rowen could feel his heart beating firmly. Why was this boy, a stranger to him, doing so much to help him?

"Don't worry… we're almost there!" He gasped out. There…? He probably meant a hospital, but maybe, just maybe, Rowen didn't want to go. Maybe he didn't want to be helped or healed… just to have to face that torment all over again the next time his father got drunk.

"It's okay… you don't… have to…"

"What?"

"It's… it's okay…." Rowen's eyes closed again, his pulse weakening.

"How can you say that…? You could die!"

"I've been dying… f-for a long time now… I'm ready…"

"BAKA! I wont accept that! Dying wont do anything good! And there's no way you're dying while I'm around! So keep your eyes open!" It was strange to hear such words….it almost made the injured boy laugh….

"Saying such things… to a stranger… it doesn't matter. After this… I'll just be alone again… I have no one… no reason to keep… going…"

"Then live for me! For my sake!" Rowen's eyes widened, shocked by the firm tone of this angelic boy. Someone to live for… someone to be with him… this was it… this was what he had longed for his whole life... The blonde felt hot tears fall onto the back of his neck and that arm wrap more tightly around him. That alone was enough to ensure him that the boy understood… so he kept on running all the way to the hospital.

Rowen was required to stay for a few weeks as he healed, some of the wounds being severe enough to require stitches, but every day, without fail, that blonde boy came to visit him. He wouldn't say anything… he would just sit at Rowen's side reading with him, or watching him sleep… When he built up the courage, he finally spoke to him.

"Ne… Why… why did you save me?" the blonde looked up from his book with an almost insulted expression on his face.

"What was I supposed to do? Leave you there?"

"well…" This response displeased the boy and he took his book, hitting Rowen over the head with it.

"ow! What was that for?!"

"For being stupid. And for saying that awful stuff about not having a reason to live." Rowen suddenly remembered those words and blushed slightly.

"…About that… did you… really mean it?"

"Mm?"

"About… letting me live for you…?"

"…You really are hopeless, you know that?" The boy sighed. "Guess I'll have to keep you around after all."

"Eh?" Rowen turned his way.

"Lets be friends, okay?" he held out his hand. "My name is Sage."

"…I'm Rowen…" their hands met, and from then on, the two hardly spent a day apart. They really did get close… very close… to this very day.

Rowen sighed again. It was difficult to remember such things, but he also loved those memories because they brought him closer to Sage… Sage…. Rowen couldn't stand it any longer, feeling cold and alone so he abandoned his bed and quietly padded across the floor. Sage was sleeping on one side like usual, leaving a whole half of the bed free. Did he do this on purpose…? Well, either way, Rowen was happy about it, slipping under the covers in the empty space. Yawning, the bluenette snuggled closer to the source of warmth, nuzzling Sage's back. It wasn't long before a sigh erupted from him.

"I was wondering what was taking you so long."

"…you knew I was up, huh?" Rowen laughed softly. "You know me so well…"

"You're always like this, especially on rainy nights. You're always more needy…"

"Am I?" Rowen continued to nuzzle him. "If you don't like it, you can kick me out. Push me away…" But he knew Sage wouldn't. He hadn't done so even once… Instead, Sage shifted quickly and before he knew it, Rowen was pinned below him. Sage was propped on top of him, sharp yet gentle eyes piercing right through him. Sage hadn't changed much since they were kids… he still looked like… an angel.

"You really are a handful, you know that?"

"Yeah… but I don't care, so long as you'll stay by me." Sage smiled softly, reaching down to lightly stroke Rowen's cheek.

"You're stuck with me for life. So deal with it." Rowen smiled back at him, exceedingly happy for the contact. But… he still wanted more.

"Well shoot… now we're both awake."

"You're fault." Sage replied. "So you'd best take responsibility…" And slowly, Sage lowered himself down and their lips finally connected. Soft and gentle, yet hot and passionate… One of Sage's hands slipped under Rowen's shirt, softly brushing over old scars left on that day and his other found Rowen's hand, their fingers entwining. In that moment, nothing else mattered but the heat between them.

That sad day in the rain, a bond was forged between them, and their hearts were connected by a force stronger than fate or destiny… Even if the world fell apart around them, Rowen would follow Sage… No matter what…. he would live for him. Forever.