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Quiet Things

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Light is not supposed to be in the Quik-E Mart near the cafe and the park. He's supposed to be at a regular, respectable department store.

But the Quik-E Mart with the bad fluorescent lighting has a pharmaceutical department and is somewhere nobody who knows him will be. And for what he's there for, he doesn't want being known.

Light walks up to the counter and slides the prescription across to the doctor along with his identification. The surly-looking, middle-aged man doesn't seem like he particularly wants to be helping him, and Light resists the urge to say that he doesn't want to be there, either.

After what seems like an unnecessarily long time examining both forms, the doctor stomps to the back, pulls out two small cartons none too gently, and drops them on the counter. Light stiffly accepts his driver's license and the cartons. One goes in his pocket, the other doesn't fit. He's just turning to leave when it happens.

'Antidepressants? For someone like you?'

There they are. The magic words. Light takes a deep breath and begins walking away. Not now, not today, not again.

'Hey, didn't you hear my question?' The doctor's voice is sharp and mocking, and God, it cuts Light deeper than he'd ever admit. 'Come on, boy, answer me.'

And he's right, isn't he? Light is a college student studying to become a detective. His grades are impeccable. His family is the nuclear unit. He shouldn't be here, standing in the middle of this flickering convenience store trying to stop his mouth twisting into a quiet sob.

What went wrong? What did he do wrong?

Light is walking away, shutting the words out of his mind. There's some dusty shelves nearby, and he sits down on one of them. The cheap white metal sags beneath his weight.

He stays still, curled there for a half-second before his head drops to his chest and presses the carton into his neck.

The Quik-E Mart near the cafe and the park is badly illuminated and it's very dark where the young man is huddled. The carton is cutting into his chest, and yet he doesn't move.

Just keep breathing is his rule, and he's promised himself to keep it.

0o0o0o

Across the store, someone else is at the counter, and the doctor knows them well.

'Back for more?' the man asks.

'Always,' they say, and pick up the boxes. They are having a hard time carrying them all, and keep overcorrecting.

Nobody else is here, just as nobody should be. This is his store, with the music so bad it's almost good (or is it just familiar? Funny that he'd like the soundtrack to his own disappointment of a story).

He tips his head up and loses himself in the music for a few moments. 'Alternative rock' or some garbage like that. Go one way or another. Of course, who's he to talk?

It's because of the beat of the music that he's glancing around at the surroundings, and it's because of that tic that he sees them.

They aren't supposed to be here is the first thought in his head, but it's quickly pushed away. This might be a newcomer, but he's not quite a stranger if he's here in the store. Only people who have two different faces come here, so they must be kin one way or another.

Monstrous kin indeed, but they share some kind of bond in this shifting world, and it's maybe it's just that red string and no more that draws the raven towards him. He waits as the brunette rises, holding back, glancing at the counter.

0o0o0o

Back near the outdated vinyl albums that nobody ever buys, Light slowly uncurls, finally stands up and breathes. He has just decided to walk towards the exit when he sees them.

He holds himself like he is all too aware of his own fragility. He looks like someone who would tape themselves back together and stand up.

He's standing in front of Light, and he's struggling with the boxes in his arms and it's been just a few seconds too long before Light remembers what he holds and shoves it behind his back.

He drops one of the boxes, and Light automatically bends down to get it. He does the same, and they nearly collide and two of the three other boxes he was holding tumble from his arms with another muttered apology.

Light gathers those, too, and glances at the label before standing up. He can't help himself.

They're sleeping pills, the strong kind for people with severe insomnia. Not the commercial junk.

Light arranges the boxes in his arms and steps back. For the first time, Light looks at him truly.

He has wild raven hair and his eyes are shadowed and he is too tall for his body and he is staring at Light like he's not sure if Light will hurt him.

Light holds his breath when he steps closer and traces those shadows with the tip of his finger. They look well-worn.

He flinches back like he's been burned and Light yanks his hand away. He holds up a hand in a 'wait' gesture and the boxes nearly fall again.

'Sorry.'

His voice is rough and quiet like he never uses it and Light is filled with a odd kind of sorrow that the first word he heard from this Elysian-esque man would be 'Sorry'.

Neither of them say anything before he talks again.

'You look angry at yourself,' he says quietly, more an observation than a true conversation starter. Light nods numbly, because that is what he's feeling, somehow all summed up in under ten syllables. Magic, isn't it?

They stand there for what seems like an absurdly short time before they hear the doctor coming back. Light starts and grabs his hand to pull him out of the store. For some reason, he wants no one intruding on this first meeting.

It's a sultry August night and the month is young. The wind is just enough to make Light shiver. They stand there outside the sliding automatic doors, the horrible fluorescents slipping around the contours of their faces like oil, not really sticking to sweat-dampened skin. He is made of shadows, and his eyes are pure black pits from this angle, and it disturbs him-no, not that badly. Just rubs Light the wrong way? It's enough to make the brunette guide him to a different angle, just enough to see that those dark eyes are alive.

They must look odd, two strangers meeting in the parking lot outside a convenience store with light spilling from the entrance, watching each other in the way someone does when they aren't quite sure if they recognize the other.

And maybe it's just because they stand too close for normal conversation, but any word becomes a rough whisper.

'August,' he says, with a little quirk of his mouth. 'They say it's named after Julius Caesar's great-nephew Augustus Caesar.'

'Hot as fuck and generally awful,' Light grumbles.

He looks up and his eyes absolutely sparkle for a second. 'Roman emperors always were notorious for such heinous acts as poisoning geniuses and occasionally being stabbed thirty-six times by all their friends.'

'Twenty-three,' Light corrects automatically, before realizing his mistake. But it's too late: his smile is wicked and brutal, and he clearly planned that, and Light is loving how smoothly he'd been played a little too much for comfort.

'You know I meant the…!' Light steps forward, and he backs up a step in mock-deference, still grinning.

'Did you? My mistake. You never know, after all, and if the statues are to be believed…' He leans closer, and growls the next words. 'Have you seen those cheekbones?'

It's a bit too long before Light pulls back, but his mind is immediately turning to those statues, comparing the face against other's. And yes, they're sharp and tight and oh God, he kind of wants something like that right now…

With a choked noise, Light returns back to him and his infuriatingly knowing smile. How can someone look so satisfied while barely balancing four boxes? Him, he can.

'Yes, he was known to be quite a catch. Bloodstained and murderous, a bit deranged, a touch sadistic-as you do, in positions of high power, and especially back in Rome-but if that's your thing, then by no means let me stop you.'

Light stiffens at that. He pauses, then raises an eyebrow. The highlights on his face are truly dramatic.

'Don't tell me,' he teases.

With a slipping snarl, Light grabs his upper arms and pushes him back against the wall. 'Keep fucking playing…' he whispers.

His eyes widen and the boxes clatter to the ground once more. Light doesn't move to grab them this time, just holds the raven against the rough brick storefront.

They stand there for what must be seconds, but they'd hold the pose for hours. They seem right like this, so possessive and controlling, and yet so alien. They aren't supposed to be like this, not now. Maybe later, maybe earlier, but not now.

They breathe in tandem, and it's the echoing kind of sound. Breathe, breathe, as humans always do.

Breathe with me?

'So…' It's barely a breath of a word. 'The angel's got fire. Can I burn you with your own weapons, little angel?'

'Don't try,' Light says. It's silent. 'It's heavenly fire,' he adds impulsively, unsure about what he's doing.

'Are you implying that I'm a demon?' he chuckles. 'Mmm, not denying anything just yet. This does beg the question: How am I able to touch you, then?' As if to prove that he can, he lets a finger brush carelessly across Light's palm. It trails sparks and Light shivers closer.

'Maybe you're just a fallen angel,' Light suggests.

'Or maybe we made a deal. What did you sell your heart and soul to me for?'

It's intimate, the voice they're both using for whatever roleplay this is that they've caught onto.

'What I could never get from humans,' Light replies, and with that, the veneer the odd moment had given the air is gone. They stand there together against the cold brick wall, but there's a easiness beneath their movements now.

'If we're going to be such…' Light struggles for a word for a long second. 'Rivals. I should get to know who I'm battling, shouldn't I?' His throat is dry and his voice almost cracks when he gets the words out. 'The cafe with the best strawberry cake. Nine PM, tomorrow. I'll be waiting in the back booth...angel.'

Without another word, he kneels to pick up the boxes. The raven is frozen speechless and stays a pliant statue as Light places the boxes back in his arms.

The sun is setting behind the brunette, and it gilds his hair and illuminates each tousled strand. Something has settled in the raven's stomach, and it feels a lot like respect and maybe want. He wants the brunette boy as his, and maybe that was another red string pulling them together.

The raven inclines his head just barely. It could be anything, but it's 'yes'. If Light takes it that way, and he does.

Light smiles, and it's beautiful and brilliant, just like him. Then he steps back. It's hot in August and the wind ruffles Light's hair when he turns and walks away.

He called me 'angel'.