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save me from this darkness (that has lost its light)

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Ebony black and cold and dark. That was what the mansion was to Kang Yohan. He could hear his own breaths, almost echoing through the vast rooms and corridors.

Unease seemed to be omnipresent in the house but in the dead of the night, a sort of dread permeated the walls, creeping into Yohan's very bones.

He tread the wooden floors of the mansion. Mindlessly taking turns, yet carefully avoiding the corners that hid anguish, ready to pounce at him and take him prisoner.

Sleep was not coming to him tonight, ever so elusive. A part of him found it better to walk the sprawling mansion in a sleepless state. Because he knew that when sleep did come, it came with fire and smoke and ash, a church burning and a lone figure staring into his soul.

Memories threatened to tip over and he felt heavy. An eternity's fatigue caught up on him. Maybe he should go lay down.

Yohan hesitantly made his way to his bedroom. Sleep was still very far away but he thought better to face the unwelcome thoughts within the walls of his own bedroom.

He removed his bath robe, exhaling as he felt the cool air breeze over his bare skin. He shuddered, the idea of staying under a blanket felt great right about now.

'What was that?'

From the quite of the house came a whimper. It was barely audible but Yohan's ears were attuned to every little wind that whistled through the place.

The whimper was now turning into gasps and illegible words and it was coming from down the hall.

Yo Han kept his footsteps light, following the noise, his eyes strained for any sudden movements.

He came to a stop infront a dark wood door, slightly ajar, moonlight shining through. And inside was the source of the cries.

Kim Gaon lay on the bed, the curtains cast aside, letting the moon create a halo on him. His head shook from side to side as he struggled for air.

"No. No. No." His voice was low. Yohan thought it sounded pained. It was clear he was having a nightmare.

Yohan tilted his head to the side, observing. The whimpers had turned into whines and soon he'd be sobbing.

Should he do something? Wasn't this personal? Would he be intruding?

A scream.

Yohan's eyes widened. Gaon looked to be in too much turmoil now.

He weighed whether he should wake him up. He knew the horror of waking up screaming. Waking him up would help but did he care? Yohan turned around and left the room.

He maneuvered downstairs, getting a glass of water from the kitchen. He returned, stepping back into the room.

Gaon was not breathing enough now. His gasps too less. He was crying.

Yohan set down the glass of water, sitting down at the side of the bed.

"Kim Gaon" he kept his voice low and calm, choosing against shaking him awake, "Kim Gaon, wake up."

He wasn't breathing anymore, mouth open in a noiseless scream. He would choke at this rate.

"Kim Gaon!" Yo Han raised his voice, urgent now, "Wake up."

And Gaon bolted awake, eyes wide and frazzled, gulping for air. He was shivering.

Yohan let himself exhale and waited.

It took several minutes for Gaon to start breathing normal again. Much longer for his body to stop quaking. His head was cast down, hands fidgeting with the blanket.

Quietly, Yohan presented the glass of water to him and for the first time since he had entered the room, Gaon looked at him.

His eyes were red, cheeks stained with tears, hair a messy mop that hid his forehead. He looked pale. The white glow of the moon deepening the shadows beneath his eyes.

Gaon was quick to take the glass, gulping down the water in one go.

Yohan felt a pang in his chest. He wanted to hold him. He ignored the thought, taking the now empty glass from the other's hands instead.

"Thankyou." Gaon's voice was coarse.

Yohan nodded an acknowledgment. And silence stretched and warped around the room.

Gaon's hands were still fidgeting with the sheets. There was a tremor in his body, a hitch in his breath. This was not the Gaon that the people saw. Not the righteous boy who held hope for this world. This Gaon had his head down, had eyes filled with rage and grief. This was the boy who had seen darker days and been in darker places.

Yohan was notorious for being hard to read, for having walls and masks that never let anything known. But he suspected the man in front of him had as much masks and thicker walls. Gaon never let himself be this vulnerable around others.

No, that was wrong. He had seen him like this before, vulnerable and screaming. On the prison grounds. The revelation about the con artist. The loud cries of Gaon piercing through the air, echoing through Yohan's mind, painfully clear.

He had convinced himself that he felt no remorse. He did what had to be done. And yet as days went by, as Gaon's eyes grew heavier, his smiles weaker, Yohan's heart twisted strangely, a blade digging into his chest.

He cast his eyes over the other once more. Was he the reason for the nightmares? It seemed plausible. It wouldn't be the first time he caused someone's nightmares.

He got up, inhaling sharply. It would be better for him to not be here.

The blade in his heart dug deeper. He clenched his fist. Of course he would be the one that bought along memories that would rather be discarded. Of course.

"Ok then. Go back to sleep." Yohan's voice sounded tight, forced.

Cold hands grabbed his upper arm. He felt himself go frigid, the sudden touch startling him out of his thoughts.

Gaon's grip on his arm tightened, he was breathing faster now.

"I don't think I would be able to." He murmured, his voice small.

A beat passed. Without saying another word Gaon dropped his hands, pointedly looking away, clenching the sheets.

Yohan stood in silence, letting his breathing even out and decided to sit back down. An awkward quiet hung in the air. This was difficult for both of them.

He scratched his forehead, unsure of what to say. Comforting wasn't his forte, seeing how he had never any use of it.

Gaon's knuckles had turned white now. Nails digging into his own palm. Yohan felt an impulse to touch them, to ease their deadly hold, to warm them.

He chased the thought out. He had to say something. A distant memory passed his mind, words that had left him equal parts flustered and warm. Words spoken by the man sitting in front of him.

"I understand." He kept his voice steady and let the words hang heavy in the cool air. "Sleep doesn't come easy on nights like these."

A ghost of a smile reflected on Gaon's face. It was something so minimal and yet the blade in Yohan's heart felt a little lenient now.

"Do you get nightmares often?" Gaon's voice was rough, filled to the brim with unvoiced screams.

Yohan realised that Gaon actually wanted to keep the conversation going. Registering, quite late, that he wanted to keep talking.

"Yes. I.. it's usually" his voice broke off. He looked out into the night, a void with a lone shining moon. He trailed his eyes along the beams that cast into the room, falling on the eyes of the man sitting right infront of him. He sighed, not looking away.

"It's usually about the fire, ten years ago. At the church.." Yohan completed the sentence, following it quick with a question, "What was yours about?"

Gaon inhaled and looked away.

Yohan reprimanded himself in his head. Asking someone who just woke up from their nightmare what their nightmare was? Real great move Yohan.

He cleared his throat, preparing to say something, anything.

A heavy voice interrupted before he could, "It was about my parents. The same as usual really, my dad and my mom, their.." he screwed his eyes shut, agony coating his face.

"Uh, sorry." Yohan muttered, gaze darting across the room, searching for a diversion.

"It's always the same. The empty funeral room, the knife, the blood, the pain. Always the same" Gaon took a staggering breath, blinking faster now, "every single time and yet I can never face it. It never gets easier."

He dropped his head, clenching his jaw.

"It never does." The softness in Yohan's voice disconcerted himself, "The bleeding stops, the wounds heal over but the ache remains the same."

Gaon looked up at him. Eyes glistening, pressing his lips together. He was quivering again.

"It hurts too much." He gasped out, a few tears escaping his restraint.

Yohan wanted to wipe them away. He gathered his hands onto his lap, pressing his lips together. The blade in his heart was twisting and turning and ravaging him now.

The glow from the moon enveloped Gaon as he sat there, staring at the teardrops that hit his clenched fists.

And Yohan watched. Watched, as the man who had stood up to him broke down. Yohan watched, as the man who had dared to punch him, to challenge him, to get to know him, cried his heart out.

He watched Kim Gaon, the man who had truly seen him more than anyone could, the man who understood him.

And it occurred to Yohan, that this was the man who he cared for. The man he perhaps, if capable of such emotions, was in love with.

And it made sense. It really did. Why his eyes searched for the other when he made a judgement, a dormant part of him still seeking approval. Why his ears perked when he heard the other laugh, his own lips finding it hard not to beam. Why his body always turned ever so slightly towards the other, in an eternal strive to stay close.

It all made sense, too much sense. Clear evidences that pointed to one single verdict. A verdict, which, for the first time in a long time, he had not taken account of. And it should have left him reeling. But Yohan was an experienced judge and he had all the attestations laid plain and simple in front of him and it made sense.

His arms reached out, engulfing the other in an embrace.

There was a moment where Gaon went rigid but soon he was melting into the others arms, sobbing into his shoulders. And Yohan sat there, holding him, humming words too low for both of them to hear, words that soothed.

Several minutes passed. It could've been hours or seconds but that was hard to gouge. Ga On's sobs had reduced, tapering into occasional sniffs and then to deep breathing. And still his head was buried in Yo Han's shoulders.

An abrupt thought of his lack of shirt crossed his mind. That explained why his skin in contact with Gaon's seared at the touch.

He bit his lips, letting out a huff. He loosened the grip he had on the other.

Gaon took the hint, untangling from him. His body shivered, detesting the sudden absence of warmth.

And so he didn't withdraw his hands completely, choosing to drop it into the other's hands. He avoided the pair of eyes that searched for him.

"How do you feel now?" He asked, eyes trained on the moon.

"Better" Gaon's voice was still sore from the crying, "You made it better."

There was a smile in his voice and his will to look away was subdued just like that.

Yohan let himself stare at the other man's face. His lips had a small curve, eyes bright with moisture, tears still fresh on his cheeks.

He was at the whim of his body now. He let go of one of the warms hands that now enclosed his palms and raised it to Gaon's face, resting it on his jaw. He gently used his thumbs to wipe away the tears.

"I didn't really do anything" His voice was barely above a whisper, eyes now trained on Gaon's.

"You made the pain bearable." Gaon said, voice mirroring his own, holding the gaze.

He felt himself shudder and his palm rested on his cheek. They were breathing in the same rhythm now. The blade that had lodged itself in Yohan's heart gave way, the vice it had around him falling apart.

He sighed.

The blade in his heart made sense as well and he wondered how many strange things would start seeming reasonable soon. But Yohan knew not all verdicts are passed. Knew better than anyone, that some verdicts were wrong as much as they were right and that most verdicts didn't leave everyone happy.

But that was a worry for later because Gaon's eyes were drooping. He'd have to leave soon.

The sky was getting lighter now, the dawn just hours away. His hand dropped.

"We'd still get a few hours if we sleep now" Gaon mused. He yawned right after.

Yohan realised with surprise that he too was sleepy.

Gaon rubbed his eyes, looking years younger now. He yawned again. The night must have been tiring for him.

Yohan braced to let go of the warm contact and go back to his room. He wondered whether he'd feel sleepy there too.

But the hold the other had on his hand wasn't removed. He looked down at it, puzzled.

"Why are the beds in your house so awfully big?" Gaon was speaking near gibberish now in his sleep addled state. The exhaustion was catching up quick on him.

His lips parted to say his leave. But Gaon was moving to lay down now, hands still held, dragging him along.

"You're warm. And your hair is a mess. You should eat more regularly. Maybe I can do this when you have a nightmare. Do you know your A.I calls me owner now?" Gaon murmured, slurred words said at the edge of sleep.

Yohan should be getting up, he should leaving but instead he felt his body go slack, felt a strong grip drawing him in.

He hummed a yes, settling into the blanket. He should be restraining himself now, but sleep had come to him when he thought it's arrival was impossible.

He felt fuzzy, a word he'd never thought he'd associate with himself. But the man in front of him seemed to be creating quite a number of miracles.

Gaon raised his free hand, wobbling till it reached Yohan's forehead. He pushed away the hair that covered his eyes, trailing his hand down and resting it right above his waist and through half closed eyes, stared at him.

Yohan did not know what he would do with his realization, what his judgement would be but sleep was lulling him. He knew he'd wake before the other man, leaving before they could discuss whatever had happened. It would be better for both of them like that. When they'd meet, they'll act like they always do. Maybe the atmosphere would be different but for now he felt content being enveloped in the gentle arms and the shining moon.

"Thanks" was the last murmured voice he heard before the other fell into a deep sleep

And before his eyes closed, before he succumbed to the drowsiness, a thought crossed his mind and he let himself follow one more wish of the night.

So he leaned in, pressing his lips onto the forehead of the man sleeping soundly in front of him. It was a quick contact of lips on skin before he settled back, a contact that left him breathless still.

Gaon, lost in slumber and dreams, smiled a content smile and in that moment, as his own conscious slipped under, Yohan's world felt bright and warm and serenely white.