Promises Under the Influence
by Uru-Chan

"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost..." The parched cadence of a boy's whisper permeated the tiny chamber, issuing rhythmically from pale lips. Jagged bangs brushed the tips of Duo's fingers, palms fitted snugly together in prayer. Thick streaks of shadow hovered beneath closed eyes, the heart-shaped face bathed in a wash of flickering light.

White candles littered Shinigami's bedroom, clustered atop the dresser, the desk, the bedside table, spilling in misshapen circles from the bed. Wax dribbled from myriad surfaces, pooling on the floor amidst a smattering of burnt-out matches.

"Prayers for the dead," he mumbled distantly, swiping his cheek with the back of his hand. Soot stained the fine white contour, a pale reflection of past brutality. "One for Sister Helen, one for the kids at Maxwell Church. That one's for you, Solo. And this one," Duo whispered, a match springing to life between his fingertips, "this one's for me." Violet eyes gazed at the wan, trembling little flame, wincing slightly as the match-head crumpled and fire lapped at his flesh.

"Kuso! Duo no baka, you wasted it!" One hand grasped at an unlit candle, thumbing the matchbook cover open with the other. Shimatta. Empty. Guess you'll have to do without, Man. Not enough matches. Not enough fucking matches...

Duo rose unsteadily from the axis of his creation, knees buckling, one hand grasping the mattress for support. He collapsed, head thumping against a pillow, feet dangling just above the floor. One hand groped at a cluster of blankets, fingers looping the neck of a glass bottle, liquid sloshing just above it's base. The braided boy's eyes squeezed shut as he swallowed, liquor dribbling along his lip, pooling in the hollow of his throat. He swiped blindly at the shock of chill alcohol against his flesh, fumbling to rescue a non-existent crucifix.

Baka, the braided boy chuckled bitterly. He took it, don't you remember? People are always taking things from me...Slender fingers traced slick patterns on the boy's flesh, lips turned slightly in remembrance.

Heero, Heero Yuy. Mr. Perfect fucking soldier. I wonder where you are tonight. Was it any different then, when you pinned me down, drunk on cheap beer, and took what you wanted from me? You didn't hurt me the way he did; you didn't have to, because I loved you. But what if I'd said no? I wouldn't put it past you Koi. Duo tipped the bottle to his lips once more, licking his lips as he drew it away.

Just look at us now. Did it disgust you so much, knowing I'd been with him, that I'd let him do those things to me? Do you hate me now? Is that why you ran out on us? Gomen Heero; I understand. I can't stand the sight of me either.

**Say the words/ break my heart/ touch my lips with your fingers/ and push them apart/ put your hands in my hair/ and pull me down/ well you're nothing but a stranger/ to me now**

Long fingers toyed with the fringe of a chestnut braid, snapping the band that confined it. Duo lost himself in the ritual of unraveling his hair, eyes fixed on the watermarked ceiling. The faint grumble of long-dead voices pounded at the base of his skull, rattled loose by a bottle of old Jack Daniels.

I'm Shinigami, he whispered, head bowed, face obscured by a curtain of unbound hair. I am the god of death. I could burn the whole fucking house down, and it wouldn't be light enough to pray for every soul. Even if I could remember them all... Even if I was truly sorry.

Duo rose, bare feet padding softly as he navigated the labyrinth of half-molten candlesticks. He paused at the closet door, gazing pensively into a full length mirror at his reflection. Fingers traced the glossy surface of his cheek, his lips, only to fall away in disgust.

He said I was feminine, the American hissed vehemently, fingers balling into a fist. He said I was too pretty to be a boy. "Take your hair down, you little shit! Take your hair down! Spread your legs like a good little girl, you're such a little slut! You like that don't you! Of course you do."

Duo's fist sped in a wide arc, cracking against the mirror, splintering the glass. Tiny glistening shards littered the bedroom, an endless refraction of blood and fire. The violet-eyed boy clenched his injured hand, wincing as thick streams of crimson dribbled along his arm. Idiot! Don't just stand there staring at it! Do you want to bleed to death? "Yes," he replied stoically, even as he bullied his limbs into motion. "That's exactly what I want to do."

**Cause I'm long past feeling/ and I'm too far gone/ staring at my ceiling/ I know silence better than anyone**

The dresser drawer creaked irritably as the American yanked the knob, jolting abruptly open. Duo slid his hand inside, fingers closing on a cool familiar metal contour. He drew the gun from it's hiding place, checking the magazine, driving it back into place with a dull click.

Heero isn't coming back, Duo murmured bitterly, positioning himself cross-legged in the center of the bed. After all, you told him you loved him. Isn't that how it always works? Ai shiteiru. BANG, you're dead. Trembling fingers drew the hair from his face, looping it behind his ears. The pistol lay dark and inviting against the sheets, it's shadow black and jagged against the spread.

"Omae o korosu." Like a broken record. Heh...Maybe I'll just finish it for you. Duo scooped the weapon up, pressing the barrel to his cheek. Eyes squeezed shut, breath ragged as he slid the opening into his mouth. His tongue recoiled from the harsh metallic flavor, and he swallowed reflexively.

Go on then, do it! Pull the fucking trigger! The American's thumb shook violently, tugging ever so slightly, struggling to fire the weapon. Come on, Man! One quick shot and it's over! Do it, you fucking coward!!! Pull the goddamn trigger!

A harsh choking cry escaped Duo's throat , and he yanked the gun free, tossing it carelessly onto the mattress. His arms snaked about his drawn up legs, hugging them tightly to his body, chin pressed to his knees. A low string of profanities spilled from his lips, hot moisture streaming down his cheeks.

There's no easy way out, not for you, he sobbed brokenly, shamed by the notion of kind and generous Quatre, sleeping innocently in the room beyond. Nausea rose at the thought of the blonde boy rapping on his door in the morning, opening the door with a cheerful "Ohayo" when Duo failed to respond, and finding him spread out, half naked in his bed, gore spattered across the wall. Bile scalded his throat, and he choked it down, his conscience riddled with guilt.

You're a sinner, he whispered harshly; you deserve everything that's happened to you. Duo clutched his legs, rocking back in forth in a soothing fashion. He longed to rise from his bed, pound his fist against the blonde boy's door, fling his arms about Quatre's neck. Iie, he doesn't belong to you. Stop longing for someone to find you like this, he hissed, banishing thoughts of Quatre, face flushed with embarrassment. Nobody's gonna hold you and make it all better, bakayaro. This is all you're good forč

"This is what you deserve. Bend over and spread em, you little bastard." The low, mocking voice tore at his memory; he stopped his ears with his hands in a desperate attempt to shut it out. Duo winced, recalling the harsh smack of the strap, burying his face against his knees.

"Don't cry, Koi; you know you want it. You've been a bad boy, haven't you, and you need to be punished. You know I only do it 'cause I love you. Tell me you love me, pretty boy. Tell me how much you love me."

**Say my name/ and look away/ take a breath take a bow/ and take the train/ say your piece/ and say goodbye/ you will regret that alibi**

Duo lay back on the narrow bed, hair tumbling wildly about his heart-shaped face, wrists locked above his head. Blood caked his fingers, oozing sluggishly into the pillowcase. Exhausted, half asleep, the declaration of love from a stoic boy's lips whispered ceaselessly through his consciousness.

He'll be back, Duo reasoned, lips twitching in a pathetic parody of Death's grin. He's fucking indestructible. Heh. Maybe there's hope for me yet. Violet eyes slid shut, images of a perfect soldier pasted behind his lids.

He held me that last night. Even when he finally got it, Heero didn't let me go. He put his hand on my head, and tucked my face into his shoulder. And when he stroked my back, and I felt his lips on my hair, oh God, it was so easy to believe he loved me. Kuso, I just want somebody to stay with me, itsumo, zutto, till death do us part. I think I could love him; he's the only one who could survive it.

Slender fingers toyed with the sweat-slick pistol, trigger hooked beneath his fingertip. "Alright," he slurred wearily, "so I choose life. How long have I got? How much penance can I squeeze in before some OZ bastard blows my brains out? Hell, what kind of penance is there for Shinigami anyway?"

One hand rose languidly from the mattress, intending to loop a non-existent chain. Defeated, Duo's fingers traced a crimson cross-shaped pattern across his breast. May God have mercy on my soul.

**Cause I'm long past feeling/ and I'm loading my gun/ staring at my ceiling/ I know silence better than anyone**

Silence by Tara Maclean

On to part eighteen. Back to part sixteen.