//Okay.  Next part, finally.  I'm thinking the next chapter will be the last one to fit in the rating rules, and even that one will be pushing the R rating a little.  But moving on…//

Lucifer Wept

He must have been dreaming.  Nothing could be this real.

The world was all in shards of light and dark.  There was someone crying, someone screaming; he could feel a bright flame faltering.  There was blood.

Palmer.  Lying in a puddle of vomit and blood.

Cobwebs were razoring his mind and the pain was too much.  Big black eyes and open mouths, everything so hungry.  He wanted.  He needed.  His insides were screaming for something to make the pain go away.

Something bright trying to soothe his mind.  He reached for it, intending to drink it down and devour it whole, needing to suck it all in and maybe then he wouldn't be so thirsty for something impossible.  But the light escaped him, drawing away with an amazing speed and leaving just a faint trail of sparkles in his mind.

He would have given chase, but he was so tired.

An image- no, not an image, was this another sending?  It didn't hurt, not in a physical sense like all the others.  But there was Palmer again, empty dead eyes and slack mouth trailing spit and vomit and dark clotting blood and he would have screamed, but the black hunger reached up again and he fell into it, flailing out for something that could fill him.

Minds moving farther away, not daring to tempt him.  He couldn't follow.

He could only fall, and let emptiness take him, hand in hand with the hunger and the pain.  As long as he didn't see Palmer again.  That was all he asked.

And he spiraled down.

He was awake.  For real.  It surprised him for some reason he couldn't define.

"Are you all right?"

Chaniel managed to turn his head, though he felt as if it must weigh thirty tons.  There was a fey little blonde boy staring at him, concern and wariness clear in his bright green eyes.  He opened his mouth and Chaniel realized, disturbed, that he wanted to taste the boy's pinkish lips and know if they were as sugary as they looked.

No, not quite a boy.  Probably only a year younger than himself.  Naive face, gentle voice confusing him.  So it wasn't immoral to think- well, certain things.

"You were gone for days," the boy said in a high, sweet tenor.  "I wasn't sure you'd make it."

Mind shutting up and just looking pretty?  Chaniel didn't have the strength to turn his face away again, so he closed his aching eyes.  He didn't like the strange thoughts he was having.

"You'll probably feel crappy for another few days," the boy said uncertainly.  "I'm not sure, Kiran- that's Palmer's big brother- he was the one who researched the whole drug thing.  To help, when we got him back."

Palmer.  Lying in a pool of vomit and blood.  Chaniel's eyes flew open and, despite the gut-wrenching pain, he was sitting up and staring at the blonde intently.  "Where's Palmer?"

He had to wince; his throat was raw like it had been sandpapered and his voice was little more than a croak.  But the boy had heard him, and had flinched.

"Don't worry about that now," he started to say, and Chaniel lashed out with a harsh sending before he could stop himself.

/fear-anger-pain-need to know-tell me-I'll kill you/

The boy actually cried out and threw his hands up into the air as he tried to block the sending.  Chaniel had faltered already; his mind was burning and trying to fall apart and rest in its ashes.  But he'd seen what he needed to know in the boy's mind.

Palmer was dead.  He hadn't been able to handle the detoxification.  His mind had given out, closed down; he had gone to his death even as Chaniel fought through the pain and woke up in the world again with no reason for being there.

No reason.  Tears tried to form in his eyes, but who was he to mourn?  How could he justify crying for such a thing?  Palmer deserved something more than Chaniel's guilt for surviving when someone who actually wanted to live hadn't been able to.

But was that the truth?  Was he just trying to excuse the fact that he couldn't cry, that maybe he didn't care enough about anything to cry, not even precious little Palmer and almost-innocent seduction?  Was there anything he cared about?

A feeling of glitter, bright golden-yellow sparkles trying to sneak into the corner of his mind, feel him out, and this Chaniel remembered from the dream-time.  He quelled the instinct to reach out and devour that sweet shining, which he could undoubtedly manage this time around with his mind much clearer, not half-drunk in desire for some drug he hadn't known he'd been on.

Detoxification.  Hadn't he known?  Hadn't Palmer said, so many times?  They wouldn't let him talk anymore.  They had forced this on the both of them.  And he hadn't even fucking known, or wondered.  It hadn't mattered.  Everything was gray, until Palmer cut away at the shroud he'd let grow around himself.

Suddenly it couldn't possibly be fake, not this sorrow that was choking him and pushing all the physical pain aside, making it non-existent.  The blonde boy's eyes were suddenly so wide and filled with tears, and Chaniel realized that perhaps he wasn't the only one who could be hurting.

And that he wanted to offer comfort again, just because he had done the same for Palmer, and perhaps it was a way to offer something up to that beautiful little boy's memory.

He held out his arms, mutely pleading for a hug, for a shoulder to cry on, for anything, and the boy was over at his side and they were holding each other almost before Chaniel had realized he was daring to ask for this.

He knew that he, at least, would be able to fall back into an empty sleep when his tears were done.

Waking up a second time proved no less painful than the first.  But this time, it included oatmeal.

"You have to eat something," the little blonde told Chaniel fiercely.  The very thought made his stomach try to claw up his throat and escape, but the feeling of retching just reminded him of Palmer.

Fresh wave of grief, quickly suppressed.  It would do no good anyway.

The boy was still watching him closely, and Chaniel almost wished he would try to reach his mind again.  He could swallow him whole.

"Well, drink something?"  Now he was holding out a glass of water.  Chaniel thought that perhaps he could deal with that, and tried to sit up.

The waves of agony rolling through his head quickly ended that idea.

"Come on," the blonde said, pulling Chaniel up and trying to get the glass to his mouth.  "We've got to move."

Chaniel managed to swallow a tiny bit, feeling his throat accept it gratefully but his stomach try to reject its own self.  He pushed the glass away and looked up at the boy.  "Why do we have to move?"

He winced at how raw and broken his voice was, but kept his eyes focused on the bright green ones above him.

"Look, you're fucking projecting helplessness and pain all over the place and we're not in a great section of the city 'cause Kiran ran us out when Palmer died and there were already a few people snooping around and we have to get out of here, okay?" the boy pleaded, his rapid-fire announcement making Chaniel's head hurt even more.  He tried to focus.

"People have been snooping?" he asked wearily, closing his eyes again and taking the glass to drink at his own pace.  The boy stepped back but kept his eyes trained on Chaniel.

"Yeah.  I can keep most of them off, but news goes around, you know?"

News goes around.  Chaniel took a bigger swallow and held back the gag reflex determinedly.  That would mean that someone who the boy couldn't keep off would be snooping around soon, and feel how hurt Chaniel was, and try to-

To eat his pretty little mind right up, with the golden-yellow shine of his nurse being the appetizer.  He could only barely hold back his sneer.  There was no one who could do that to him.  Chaniel knew this in some part of his mind that wasn't touched by pain, fear, or morals.  It was something from before his accident, and it didn't feel entirely human.

"We should get out of here," the boy repeated, and annoyance suddenly sparked in Chaniel.

"Who the fuck are you?" he demanded, ignoring the sunburst of pain in his mind as he snapped his head up to glare at the boy.  "What are you doing this for?  Why don't you just get out of here?"

The boy looked startled, and Chaniel had to bite back a sudden urge to just take the information out of his mind.  "I- I'm Isaac, and I just wanted to help."

Isaac's voice was suddenly hurt and his eyes were wounded, and Chaniel wondered what he would do if Chaniel were to let him know just how edible that made him look.  Instead, he cleared his throat and said roughly, "I don't believe in altruism.  Try again."

"It's the truth!" Isaac flared, and even though he probably didn't mean to send Chaniel got a flash of indignation and had to hide a smile.  It didn't hurt anymore; it actually felt natural and easy to send and receive.

It felt natural and easy to slowly leech Isaac's bright yellow energy so that he could stand, rather wobbly, and grimace instead of smile.  "Are we getting out of here, then?"

Isaac stared blankly at him for a moment, and then darted forward to act as a human crutch and lead Chaniel out of the empty, dusty room.

//Review if you like, flame if you have to, blink in confusion if you just don't get it.//