Shuichi woke to the uncommon glare of sunlight piercing through the curtains and slicing across the bed. He shut his eyes firmly against the rare occurrence and snuggled closer to the warm body beside him. After mind-numbing hours of unwanted wakefulness, Harley had eventually pulled him into bed with her and held him until he was able to fall asleep, just like Hiro used to do whenever Yuki upset him… He must have imagined it after all. The Harley he'd met yesterday couldn't possibly exist inside this wonderful person. And as far as he could tell, she had been right about everything. He was so much better off this way. Though Yuki had left him only five days ago, it now seemed more like five years ago. The pain was still there, of course, but it had subsided to the feeling of being stuck by a needle whenever Yuki's name popped erratically into his head.

A ceaseless pounding on someone's front door jerked him back into awareness abruptly. Harley's front door, he thought vaguely. Do I really have to get up? He wondered and shook Harley's bony shoulder. The girl offered no helpful response, however, and the invasion of the usually blissfully dark apartment only gave him one more reason to move. Before he could even contemplate any complex actions, however, he would simply have to take something for that pounding headache.

"…Hiro? H…how did you find me here?" Shuichi asked skeptically. Was this really even happening? If his imagination could conjure up a scenario as absurd as sweet Harley Johnston murdering her parents in cold blood and threatening to murder him as well, what else was he making up?

"Shuichi. We need to talk, about Yuki—"

"I don't want to hear it," he said and shut the door. Hiro stopped the weak movement with one hand and pushed the door back open. He didn't wait to be invited in.

"What is wrong with you? This isn't like you, Shuichi…I'm worried about you."

"What are you talking about? I'm perfectly fine," Shuichi said, his tone conveying an air of finality. "I don't' need Yuki anymore, and I don't need you either, Hiro." Hiro's face darkened.

"Apparently you do. She's in your mind now, Shuichi. She's infected you. Can't you see it? She'll—" Shuichi never got to find out what 'she' would do, as his ex-best friend's chest exploded in a spray of warm red stickiness. Harley ran one red-soaked finger down Hiro's wide-eyed face as the other simultaneously freed his still-beating heart from its cage of bone and flesh. It wasn't until she put the detached article to her white, white lips that he saw his own horror reflected in vacant blue eyes.

"No. Don't leave."

Hiroshi Nakano and Suguru Fujisaki turned at the sound of Yuki's voice coming from behind them. The anger in Tohma's face deepened.

"Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about, Eiri! You're still weak." Yuki ignored his would-be savior.

"Please," he said on the verge of tears. "Take me back to Japan."

Her malicious bloody-toothed grin was looming over him, shimmering and melting away into blood-tinged tears, dripping in slow motion down the night sky. When they reached the ground, they solidified into hundreds of little red capsules, shaking and rattling away inside his brain. Then they were melting again into puddles liquid red, flowing over the edge into square plastic molds. The substance cooled and became solid. The terror was in him again. His heart was beating so fast, he knew it would explode inside his chest soon, and all his veins and organs would rupture. He would die staring into laughing red teeth…

"I think…you've made the right choice," Hiroshi choked on the words. Suguru buried his face in his lover's chest.

All-eluding consciousness. Frozen in time. Gleaming crystal trapped behind immovable vestiges of flesh. Infinite pain, left without escape. The barest flutter of a heartbeat stable. Forever reliving the vision of a friend fallen by the hand of a friendly foe. The only thing left to be grateful for:

He died staring into shinning amber eyes.