Claimer: Needless to say, the plot, characters, and everything else in this story are mine. If you want to borrow them (would you really? o.O) ask, and remember to give me credit, and I'll be honored. ^^

Rating: R, but as a precaution for future chapters.

Warnings: Shounen-ai, yaoi, slash of the male/male variety, whatever you want to call it; self-mutilation, drinking, swearing, torture/abuse, and possibly sexual situations, if I can pull it off.

Chapter One: FRIEDEN (Peace)

Tapered white fingers wrapped around the porcelain handle, lifting the steaming vessel to a pale pink mouth. Traces of the appetizing aroma of vanilla floated on the air as the tall man tipped the cup back and sipped carefully.

He set the cup back down, stopping to admire the way the delicate paleness of the cup complemented the mahogany table. He licked his lips absently, to remove any residual liquid, taking his time, subconsciously aware that he was putting off what he had to do. Since he came in, he'd been simply enjoying his drink, not to mention his surroundings, instead of trying to work.

Reluctantly, he looked back at the glaring, blank sheet of paper, whose stark, naked whiteness disrupted the harmony of all the other tones in the café. It seemed to be angry at him for not having written anything on it.

Leaning his chin in his hand, a resigned sigh whispered past his lips. He tapped the offended pad of paper with the pen and looked restlessly around the café. As usual, it wasn't very full. He habitually came here when most people were at work. His gaze roamed over the rugged brown tiles covering the floor, then rose to take in the large windows looking on to a view of grey, uniform buildings and a few dusted trees that were strong enough to survive the polluted city air. Their leaves were royal, reddish gold and littered the ground in plenty.

A breeze scooped up some of the leaves and chased them across the café windows. He always sat at a table near a window - even if the weather was bad, or the view not much to look at. The tables were small, round, and dark wooded; lined up neatly. Deeper inside the café, there were large cushy sofas and racks of magazines. He listened to the quiet wind for a moment; chin still perched thoughtfully on his folded hands.

Even though he wasn't aware of it, he completed the overall picture beautifully. His pale blond hair resembled the mild sunlight of early morning; waved, wonderfully soft-looking bangs framing a long, delicately formed face, in which two sky blue eyes were set. His skin was unusually pale; looking all the more so because of the contrasting color of his attire. He wore a black, v-necked sweater and black trousers.

He glanced at the paper with a serious look on his face. He had been coming to his favorite café, Alvida, for days on end - ordering lattes and staring at his notepad, waiting for an idea to come to mind. Asahel Llewellyn was an acclaimed writer - famous for his fluid, dreamlike style. He wasn't anxious about his temporary writer's block, instead patiently waited for something to spark his imagination.

It wasn't as if there was nothing in Alvida to inspire him - he always found any kind of person compelling in some way - be it pleasantly or unpleasantly. He ran a hand through his soft blond hair and smiled at the couple which had just come in; both beautiful, if you knew how to appreciate the right features.

Look at the way they glance at each other - so shy.. hands just touching.. the man has the strangest bump on his nose, and the girl's hair is such an unusual color...

A love story, maybe? He attempted to follow this train of thought and ignore the unusual weight that had suddenly settled in his chest. Love story, love story.. a man and a woman fall in love. They fall in love because.. because..

He let the idea burn out, feeling disappointed, yet somehow relieved. Gathering his scattered thoughts together, he took a deep drink from his cup and set it down with a determined clunk.


The clock on the wall ticked - an hour had passed.

Asahel's brow was furrowed in concentration, eyes riveted onto his notepad, pen skimming over the paper as if it was the center of his universe.

He let out a tired breath, leaning back on his chair, one arm draped over his stomach, taking a break from the strenuous work.

Covering the page in front of him was an extremely complicated doodle which would have made any graffitist proud.

Asahel sighed. He should probably just go home. He wasn't going to get the ideas flowing by forcing it. A twinge of anxiety invaded his mind, the corners of his mouth turning downwards in a small frown. He suddenly wondered where his concentration had disappeared to.

He decided to take a quick nap when he got home. He hoped he'd have some ideas after that. He gathered his notebook and papers together, but before he could put them away he noticed a shadow fall across the table.

He studied it in mild surprise, trying to see what the person looked like from just their shadow.

Inclining his head a little to the left, he noticed someone waiting expectantly. The ginger haired newcomer smiled, shining hazel eyes crinkling at the corners.

"Adair," Asahel smiled warmly back, reaching out an angular hand.

"Asahel," the person nodded, speaking in deep, elegant tones.

She then launched herself at him and latched onto his arm, hugging it tightly.

"ASAHEL! I haven't seen you in ages!" Her originally low voice leaped to an impressively high pitch, and Asahel eyes widened. The woman in the cream pant suit let go of his arm to grab him around the waist, giving a happy little squeal, unruly amber locks flying. Recovering from the energetic assault, Asahel laughed as his friend proceeded to speed through a long explanation of what she'd been doing for the past two weeks, racketing on at a breathless pace, making impossibly elaborate hand gestures and still managing to keep a death grip around the blond's frail waist.

Asahel, paying rapt attention while trying his best to breathe around her affectionate, albeit painful, hold, managed to catch her last sentence fully.

"...and I was hunting around for you to tell you, since you weren't picking up your phone again (hermit!), and I ran all the way to your apartment, but you weren't there, and I finally remembered how to get here. It's really hard to find, you know…" the tanned girl rambled on.

"Adair," Asahel interjected finally, an amused grin playing about his lips as he caught the wrist of her rapidly moving hand, causing her to look at him questioningly. Asahel smiled gently, having gotten her attention, and gathered up his black overcoat which hung on the back of his chair.

"Why don't you come over to my place? You can tell me about it properly there... all I managed to hear just now was that your gallery was approved? That's good to know," he was still smiling as he finished putting away his notes. Adair backed off, an apologetic, yet radiant, smile on her face.

She calmed down enough to reply, "Alright." The scatterbrained girl played absently with a lock of long autumn-orange hair.

"Oh, and Asahel... is the first chapter for your book finished yet? I have some time to read it, now," she added, rocking slightly on the balls of her loafered feet.

Asahel sighed shortly.

"I haven't written anything yet," he admitted. "I've been waiting for inspiration for a while now..." he murmured, putting on the comfortable overcoat (not bothering to button it) and retrieving his bag. Adair stopped restlessly twirling her hair, fiery-hued eyes widening with an expression of comical, exaggerated shock, as she leant down to look into Asahel's downcast face.

"You? Out of ideas? I can't believe it," she drew up again, letting go of the lock of hair and running her fingers through it instead, tidying it. Not that the mane of layered hair stayed neat for long. She looked at her reflection in the window briefly, and then turned back, smirking.

"Maybe the coffee in this place isn't up to scratch," she remarked in her customary resonant voice, arching an eyebrow. Asahel turned on his heel and walked out of the exit, Adair beside him, and shot her a wry glance.

"Don't insult a writer's refuge, Adair," he warned blithely, as they strolled companionably down the streets, the rays of the early morning sun peeking through the red-gold canopy of leaves above them. If it had been anywhere else, the dusty streets would have been noisy with activity and traffic. Asahel glanced at his watch. It was only 10 am. He had plenty of time.

Adair was humming a tune in a carefree manner as they walked.

"Oh, yes, I've been meaning to ask you, Asahel, if you'd like to come with me to the opera this weekend. They're performing La bohème. I already asked Artemis if he wanted to come, and..."

Asahel suddenly stopped in his tracks, sucking in a sharp, shocked breath, vaguely hearing Adair's pleasant voice trail off. She stumbled to a halt beside him.

"Asahel?" she asked, surprised.

Asahel didn't reply. His stare was nailed onto a man in their path. The man had stopped walking, too, to survey Asahel in turn. He was deathly pale – he looked almost vampiric; or it was as if his skin had been bleached. His sleek, black hair was pulled back with hair gel, displaying breath-stealing sapphire blue eyes. They looked like they were burning in their sockets…

Just like they had always looked...

Between them lay a bumpy nose, with a long, raised scar torn across it. His thick, black brows bunched together as he frowned unpleasantly, the dangerous eyes glaring into Asahel's own. The wide mouth moved, as its owner bit his bottom lip savagely. He stood tense and unmoving.

 Asahel could feel Adair's clueless glance flicking from him, to the man, and back again, her eyes probably wide and blinking with childish fascination. Asahel resisted the urge to stand stiff and rigid, and forced his muscles to relax. He couldn't look away, even though he'd been standing like that for a while now and Adair was wondering what he was doing...

The other man continued glaring, and then narrowed his eyes. Finally he closed them, almost in resignation, and smirked softly, hefting his dark, heavy bag over a broad shoulder. He sauntered past Asahel's rigid form and Adair turned around innocently to watch him go. She clicked her tongue disapprovingly.

"He's messy looking," she murmured, probably referring to the way his white shirt was untucked on one side, hanging out of his black trousers.

She turned back around to look at Asahel, who was standing stock still, fixed in the same position and looking straight ahead.

"Asahel?" Adair's tentative voice brought him back down to earth. Asahel moved, putting his hand to his temple to knead it gently.

"It's nothing, Adair..." He wouldn't turn around.

Adair took one last look at the retreating figure of the well-built man before scurrying after her friend through the flurry of leaves blowing in the autumn wind.


A/N: Finally - the first chapter of my first continuous fic done. Hardly anything happened in this chapter ;_; There is a plot, however. *throws confetti* R&R, all comments welcome ^^ Oh- and to the people who reviewed my other fics - thanks very much.