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The Agreement

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The agreement is voiced on the third consecutive night that Nanaki wakes up screaming bloody murder.

Raw and hoarse and desperate and keening, the shrieks trickle slowly into Shuu’s dreamless sleep and pull him up like a noose around his neck: a noose woven with incomprehensible sobs and wheezing breaths when the other man's system remembers it needs oxygen. He waits to see if it will pass and if Nanaki will go back to sleep, and is completely unsurprised when it doesn't.

Shuu sighs and props himself up on his elbows. "Kazuaki, open your eyes."

Nanaki does, a little too quickly for Shuu's liking, and they dart about the darkened room for a moment before resting on his face and widening. Suddenly he's on top of Shuu, fingernails digging into his arms and making him suck in his breath.

"What are you doing in my house, Isa?"

"I live here," Shuu replies calmly, "now could you please get off m--"

"You're here to kill me too, aren't you?" Nanaki's eyes are too wild to be fully awake yet; a fact Shuu chastises himself for overlooking. "Some kind of twisted joke for what I- what I...!"

His nails rake down Shuu's side to his legs and Shuu cries out when the bandages tear before clamping his mouth shut, gritting his teeth. The sound seems to make Nanaki fully awaken, and his hands slacken against Shuu's skin, but he doesn't get off. "...Oh, dear."

Shuu only looks at him. "It appears your bedsheets are going to be bloodstained. Congratulations."

Too harsh. He doesn't care. Nanaki  takes a shuddering breath as Shuu reaches beside him for his glasses and to turn on the lamp. The small light source casts shadows on the other man's face and Shuu can see the tears Nanaki has gotten better at holding back sparkling in his eyes.

"...I thought you were getting better." Shuu's voice sounds more accusatory than he would have liked.

"I am getting better."

"This isn't better, Kazuaki." Shuu pushes himself higher, his shoulder shaking under the strain. "Get off me."

Nanaki practically melts into the mattress beside him, burying his face into the pillow. There is a moment of silence and Shuu wonders if the other man hasn't fallen back asleep already. Then, "I..."

"You what."

"I--Doctor, I don't want to do this anymore." Nanaki's voice is muffled by the pillow and by a sob threatening to choke its way out of him. "I... can't do this anymore."

Shuu raises an eyebrow. He should have seen this coming, but it still catches him off guard. "You can't be serious," he says.

"I am. I..." Nanaki looks up again. "Doctor, be honest with me. This... this isn't going to go away, is it?"

There is a pause before Shuu responds. "...I can't answer that."

"Because... I don't think I can get better. I don't think I want to get better. I just..." Nanaki looks away. "I want to be with him, Isa. I want to see him again."

Shuu stiffens.

"You can... you can give me something, can't you? So it doesn't hurt when I--"


Nanaki blanches. "No?"

"No," Shuu repeats, with more volume as he sits up completely. "Are you really that much of an idiot to think I would do that for you?"

"Why not?" The genuine curiosity in Nanaki's voice is maddening.

"Do you really think I would put myself through that?" Shuu is incredulous, and his rising tone does nothing to conceal it. "Do you really think I would gain anything from killing you, Kazuaki? Would it bring me joy to watch what's left of any light die in your eyes?" Violet darkens,  narrows. "Give me one good reason why I should help you."

"I shot you. Three times." Nanaki's voice is back to its usual airiness. Not a good sign.

Shuu exhales slowly. "Are you apologizing?"


"Then you aren't at fault. I won't punish you for something that you are not at fault for."

 Nanaki doesn't meet his eyes. "But..."

"It would be punishing both of us, Kazuaki." Shuu brings up a hand to force Nanaki to face him. "Do you understand me? Neither of us are in any shape to carry on on our own. Why do you think I'm still here? Why do you think I didn't take your gun to finish myself off the minute you turned around?"

He's practically yelling now. He can't recall ever yelling, and if Nanaki's face is anything to go by, he can't remember such an occasion, either.

Nanaki is the one to speak. "...I don't know. Why are you still here?"

Shuu blinks. "Excuse me?"

"You don't care about me. You're just doing your job." Nanaki frowns, and it's the saddest thing Shuu has ever seen. "I wonder, Doctor--have you ever cared for someone?"

Red spots taint Shuu's vision. "...Once. You know that."

"And they left, didn't they? They're gone."

He's gone, Isa. He's gone and you watched him fade with every passing day and there was nothing you could do about it. You helped all those people you never knew and you couldn't save the one person you ever gave a damn about.  And you aren't even humane enough to regret it properly.

Some miracle worker you are.


Purple eyes blink open, slowly; Shuu had not realized they had closed. He runs one hand through his hair.

"Doctor, are you--"


It is Nanaki's turn to blink. "Pardon?"

"I'll do it." Shuu's expression is lax, careful: everything a good medical practitioner needs to break something to a patient gently. Everything he has grown to perfect. "I'll give you what you want. You will see your brother again." He doesn't add that the thought of a potential  afterlife still makes him want to be sick to his stomach, despite all he's seen.

"Oh, thank y--"

"I'm not finished, Kazuaki." Shuu takes a breath. "If you agree to this... if I do this for you... you need to return the favour."

"You're... coming with me to see Nageki?" a note of panic rings in Nanaki's tone, clear as a bell and piercing through the suddenly thick night air. "But you--"

"My unfinished business is not with Fujishiro," Shuu interrupts, pushing the covers back and ignoring the sting of his wounds. "My demons are old and heavy, and I... I don't have a family that I want to see."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

Shuu laughs: it is short, breathless. Joyless. "I'm not. And I don't want your pity." He swings his legs over the side of the bed, eyeing the chair at his side with some disdain. "I don't want anyone's pity."


It takes five minutes for Shuu to suffer through getting into his chair (after another two minutes of ignoring Nanaki's offers to help) before he wheels to the bathroom they share and opens the middle drawer. He then proceeds to remove what appears to be a false bottom, and starts pulling out and piecing together some sort of contraption that Nanaki takes a moment to recognize, but when he does his eyes widen.


"I presume you are familiar with intravenous medication." Shuu's voice is perfectly monotone as he strings up an empty bag and unscrews the lid on a brown bottle.

Nanaki appears a little too engrossed in the procedure from his position in the doorway. "How long have you..."

"Long enough."


Shuu looks up and smirks. "Did you really think changing my mind would be that easy?" He turns back to the contraption and pours the stuff into the bag. "No. I've had this for... a long time."

Nanaki's smile flickers. "You're stronger than I am, then."

"Strength is relative, Kazuaki. Only fools compare their tolerance of this world to someone else's." Shuu's hand fumbles and he grimaces. "Did you have anyone you wanted to say goodbye to in the morning?"

"No." Nanaki sounds a little surprised. "You mean we're waiting until morning?"

There is no response for a moment. Finally, "Then I don't see a reason to wait."

The relief on Nanaki's face would have broken Shuu's heart, had it not lost that capacity two names and three lifetimes ago.

Some time later the device is attached to the headboard and dangles down the middle of the bed, where Shuu and Nanaki are sitting across from each other, Nanaki's legs crossed neatly and Shuu backed against the pillows. He two tubes in one hand, thin fingers wrapped a little too tightly. With his other hand Shuu motions for the other man's arm. "Roll up your sleeve, then."

Nanaki obliges, the smile never leaving his face. His arm shakes, however, and Shuu grinds his teeth together in an attempt to keep the needle from impaling Nanaki or himself anywhere unnecessary.

"Are you nervous?"


"Then stop jittering. Breathe."

Nanaki exhales and looks away as Shuu clumsily tears off a strip of tape and places it over the skin. "Are you?" he asks.

"Am I what, Kazuaki."

"Are you nervous, Doctor? About dying?"

The second needle is trickier, and Shuu mutters under his breath as his fingers slip. Nanaki reaches over and tentatively slides his own hand over Shuu's, stabilizing his movements. "Why would I be? Everyone dies, eventually."

"But you can never come back..." Nanaki stares at the tube  now embedded into Shuu's arm. The doctor can't even feel it. "That doesn't scare you at all?"

"I did what I had to do here." Shuu's shoulders jerk up in a sort of shrug as he reaches for the tape with his other hand: The one occupied by Nanaki's is oddly still.

"That's... rather cynical, don't you think?"

"Says the man asking me to help him kill himself," Shuu replies coolly.

Nanaki doesn't say anything for a while.

Shuu's fingers move their way to the switch: the little piece of plastic that stands between the two men and their final wish. A wish, Shuu realized with some amusement, he could grant both of them with much more ease.

"All you'll have to do is count slowly backwards from ten," Shuu tells Nanaki, "just like for an operation."

Nanaki lets out a laugh that doesn't reach his eyes, and the hand on the doctor's squeezes a little. "I can do that."

Shuu slowly releases the switch. "Very well."

"I..." Nanaki's eyes widen. "This is for real."

"Don't even think about backing out of this now," Shuu warns.

"I'm not!"

"Good." He sinks further into the pillows. "Start counting."

Nanaki follows suit, his eyes not straying from Shuu's face even as he leans back. "...Ten."

The doctor shifts against the covers.

"Nine--ah, do you suppose someone will find us?"

"Probably," Shuu replies with a wave of his hand. The tube tugs at his skin. "Who knows? It's not like we have anyone looking for us."

"...Eight." Nanaki's voice is quieter as he avoids responding to the comment.

Shuu frowns. "Kazuaki."

"Seven." A little louder. Nanaki blinks rapidly. Shakes his head the slightest bit. Left. Right.

There is a pause, then. Shuu wonders if the drugs had worked faster than expected.




"I..." Nanaki exhales, laces his fingers between Shuu's, who tells himself it's only because they're both about to fall asleep forever and Nanaki's always been one to claw at anything with resemblance to intimacy. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry.."

Shuu blinks. "But why--"

"I'm sorry!" Nanaki grips his hand tighter, suddenly leaning over Shuu's face, panic lighting his eyes for one brief flare before the drugs dull them a little more. "Isa....I'm...."

Shuu realizes too late Nanaki is leaning closer and closer, and when their lips meet he can't bring himself to pull away.

Nanaki tastes like mangoes and ginger. He tastes like fading sunlight. He tastes like blood when Shuu's teeth sink into his bottom lip.

"You know what your problem was?" He asks against Nanaki's lips.



"You never could let go of anything." Shuu's eyelids are heavy. Tiny pepperings of static begin to mesh together at the outer edges of his vision. "It's what killed you, Kazuaki. Not me. Not your brother. Congratulations. You didn't need my help after all."

Nanaki pulls away. "I'm s--"

"Don't be sorry." Shuu's limbs feel like lead; his head falls against something soft, and he registers Nanaki's movement beside him on the bed. "I'm not."



"What is it."

"Do you... think Nageki will even want to see me?" Nanaki's lips are against his hair, Shuu thinks, but he could just be imagining it.

"I can't answer that."

"Can't or won't?"

"Kazuaki, I'm too tired... for your stupid questions..."



"What is it."

"I hate you." Nanaki laughs, and Shuu can practically feel his eyes close: long lashes batting over amber orbs that flutter shut in an odd show of tranquility. "I really, really hate you."

It's Shuu's turn to laugh. "I don't care."

"I regret not killing you when I had the chance."

"Oh. I suppose I lied earlier."


Shuu sighs. "I regret you not killing me when you had the chance, too."


"Isa..." The hand in his loosens its grip. Bit by broken bit.

"Sleep, Kazuaki." Please, Shuu doesn't say, because his tongue is turning to sand in his mouth or because he can't release his last shred of pride, he doesn't know. Doesn't want to know.

"Thank you, Isa."