Disclaimer: I don't own these boys, I'm just having fun with them.

AU in case you haven't figured it out yet and just a smidge of Yaoi.

They walked along the Arno, the silent slap of the water along the banks the only sound. A sheen or orange was in the sky behind them, riming them in warm autumnal colours, heating Uru's shoulders and burnishing Nicholas's blond hair. Just past the Ponte Vecchio they stopped, as one, pausing to watch the last of the sun sink below the buildings in the west, the darkness winning the sky behind them and coating all in shades of velvety indigo.

"I like this time of day," Nicholas said quietly. "It's peaceful."


Nicholas's mouth curled in a crooked smile. "You're so taciturn. One would think you couldn't put three words together."


Nicholas Conrad cast a furtive eye on his companion, the leather-clad Uru Hyuga. Uru, for all his skills, was not much for conversation unless he was regaling an audience with some lurid story of his ludicrous adventures, but this was new. Uru was watching the play of light and shadow under the Ponte Vecchio, his crimson gaze dark and thoughtful.

"What's on your mind?" Nicholas asked.

Startled, Uru looked up at his companion and smirked.

"None of your business," he retorted and turned toward the oncoming darkness. "Let's get going." Uru walked away but Nicholas paused, watching him.

His words prove he's a grumpy bastard, he thought, but his body... Watching Uru walk away he caught the tell-tale signs: head looking down, not up, shoulders slumped, the thumb of one hand thrust through his belt loop while the other was gripped in a tight fist. Nicholas nodded. He's upset. I've never seen him like this before. It's nice to know something can get that bastard's goat, but ... He suddenly realized Uru was disappearing into the shadows and quickly ran to catch up.

A few minutes later they turned a corner, their apartment just ahead. Already the smells of food cooking were wafting along the river and Nicholas licked his lips.

"We should have stopped to buy some food. I'm hungry," he said to the black-clad back ahead of him. Uru did not respond, but stopped abruptly and sighed. That's what I thought, Nicholas mused. He totally forgot to get food this morning. "So, we go hungry tonight?" he asked, goading his dark companion.

Uru's shoulders shook, the one fisted hand quivering with the fighter's desire to punish Nicholas's remarks.

"Shut the fu-" he paused, his taught slumped shoulders suddenly tensing and Nicholas looked up to catch movement in the shadows of their doorway. As he watched, two men stepped from the stairway to their apartment.

"Now what do you suppose they want," he asked quietly, watching as the two men came closer. Both were about average in height, maybe an inch taller than Uru, but they were both muscular, one wearing a torn cotton shirt while the other sported a leather jacket with wide cuffs and they both wore wide grins on their faces. Oh, this is not good at all, Nicholas thought.

Uru moved closer to the approaching tough's, his hands now open and at his sides.

"What do you want?" he snarled, his words a challenge even if he looked innocent of trouble. Nicholas silently wished for his sword, locked up in his bedroom.

"Well, well," one of the ruffians said, his voice gravely. "If it ain't two of the old witch's stable. We've come fer some of what you've got, pretty boys."

Oh shit, thought Nicholas and watched with trepidation as Uru changed his posture. Gone was the open-handed stance that said innocent pedestrian. Now he slid one foot slightly forward, raising his arms, clenching his fists. Oh God, he's going to fight them, Nicholas sighed.

"Well at least the odds are even - two to two," he said and clenched his own fists in preparation, but the two men laughed.

"Can't count, pretty boy?"

Nicholas felt it then, his hackles rising and he turned quickly. Two more men came from the shadows of the bridge, each carrying a large wooden stake as a weapon.

"So, you wanna play?" asked Uru, his voice soft but the turn of his words, the lilt, told Nicholas he was about to attack. In the next second Uru leapt forward, one fist striking the nearer man. He lashed out with a booted foot, leg pushing the other ruffian away to allow him to get closer to his first target, but both tough's were heavier than Uru and barely moved at all.

Nicholas, watching his two grin with delight, knew that, unarmed, he'd have to use whatever skills he had to balance the scales.

Damn, he thought. From now on I carry that sword, I don't care what Carla says! He waited for his two to lunge before leaping forward, one foot catching the stones while he swung his whole body up and over in a forward flip. He came down, heels first on one of the assailants but it wasn't enough. Nicholas flung himself to one side, away from the river, barely avoiding the heavy stake being thrust his way. He landed on his shoulder, rolled and came to his knees, waiting while the first stake-wielder came closer before sweeping him with his legs.

The big man went down but not before striking out again with his stake and this time it connected. Nicholas rolled, trying to avoid the sharp point but it still came down hard and he felt the bruise blossoming beneath his pants leg. Gritting his teeth, he continued his roll, back toward Uru.

The young fighter was handling himself well, but he'd taken a blow to the head and was a bit dizzy. He did not see Nicholas crawling back toward him and worse, he did not see the other stake wielding thug come at his back. Pain blossomed across his shoulders as the wooden stake came down hard and Uru felt tingles in his fingers. He instantly bent forward, leg extended back and slammed his heel into the thug's gut.

"Uru!" Nicholas called and quickly avoided the reeling thug as he climbed to his feet behind his companion. "This will never do," he said.

"Ya think?" was Uru's smart retort.

"Back to back. We've got to take them down quickly," Nicholas said, ignoring the acidic remark.

Uru snorted, punching out at an approaching tough, fist connecting to body with a heavy thud.

"So what? You wanna dance them ta death?" he said through a clenched jaw. Uru wondered what was going through his companion's mind.

"Nicholas frowned. "Tried that - no good," he said, moving so his back was to Uru, their bodies touching, supporting each other. "We need to get them close together in one place."

One brow rose into his long bangs and Uru had to refrain from butting his boot through Nicholas's backside. "Just what the fuck do you think I've been doing here, playing patty-cake?" He ducked the swing of another tough, pulling Nicholas along with him as he grabbed his belt and yanked, the two of them now two feet closer to the buildings. "Why don't you go ballet with these guys and give me a breather," he said, goading his dance partner.

The four tough guys laughed and moved closer, but still not close enough to suit Nicholas. Still, he bent one knee and turned his mind quickly toward magic, feeling the power of God moving within him and the blinding light that was His Presence. He closed his eyes for a moment, gathering the energies, and then gestured toward one of their assailants.

"Here it comes," he said softly and from his extended hand came a blaze of white light that bathed the man in a cascade of white and blue energies. He cried out in pain, screaming before falling to the stones, unconscious or dead, Nicholas didn't know.

Standing above him, Uru snorted.

"Is that all?" he said with disgust. "Man, I gotta do everything!" Uru Hyuga, Harmonixer and fusionist, took one step forward and began to change. His body was suddenly surrounded by dark, coruscating energy, and he seemed to grow and expand. Nicholas scuttled back, ducking as huge wings formed and the large body hunched down slightly. Nicholas had never seen this thing that Uru was using - Is this a demon, he wondered? Uru felt the power and majesty that was Amon filling him, his body growing taller, stronger, his skin armored and gleaming, his eyes glowing with Dark energies and his heart filling with blood-lust. Before him were three human thugs and these he attacked with one razor-clawed hand, sending showers of blood spattering along the flagstones. Three humans cried out in terror and pain and tried to flee but the huge demon that was Amon gestured and a blaze of darkness shot from his hand and swept the area. When it was gone, so were the thugs, bodies but a pile of smoking ashes on the stones.

Uru released his fusion, blurring back to his normal size and shape. He rotated his shoulders, and looked at the remains.

"That's the End for you," he said and smirked. "Bet you thought you had us, didn't you?"

Behind him, Nicholas rose to his feet, a look of horror on his face.

"You killed them," he said. "You slaughtered them."

Uru turned to look at the priest and scowled. "They were trying to kill us first, and don't you judge me, priest," Uru growled and turned, walking toward their building.

Their rooms were small and dark and reminded Uru of a cave. They both lived sparsely, just a ratty sofa and table in the main room, their bedrooms off to one side, each with a bed and chest. They spent the majority of their time at Carla's either dancing or doing whatever that crackpot woman wanted of them. Uru's own reasons for tolerating the dancing and gyrating were as mired in emotions as Nicholas's were hidden behind layers of handsome smiles. As roommates and dance partners, they both knew they had secrets. And right now, Uru didn't care for secrets and didn't want to hear Nicholas's judgments.

He entered his bedroom, pulling off shirt and belts, and kicking off his boots. He wanted nothing more right now that a hot bath and, be damned if he was letting Nicholas hog the hot water! He grabbed his towel and slipped quietly down the hall to the bathroom, tossed the towel on the floor by the tub and pulled the water tap full, plugging the drain. The tub, an old claw footed design, was deep and allowed Uru to stretch out his legs with ease. Bathing and tubs was something he relished, though he'd never admit it to anyone. In his travels through China and Europe, bathing had been a premium with hotels so damned expensive! He'd grumbled more than once over the inconvenient price but always bit his tongue when he caught sight of a tired and bedraggled Alice...

"Damn," he muttered, turning off the tap and climbing into the tub. The hot water hit the few cuts and lacerations he'd gained from tonight's altercation and he hissed with the sharp pain, knowing he'd have hell to pay tomorrow from Carla. She hated fighting; wanted her dancers to avoid scuffles of any kind and most especially her two prize studs.

With soap and sponge, Uru set about washing, trying not to aggravate the wounds and wishing he'd still had some curative items, but Carla had confiscated these in an attempt to curb his temper last year after a particularly nasty altercation between him and some paying clients. Uru hated the dancing, hated the whole suck-it-up-to-the-customers scene. And he really hated it when customers thought they could touch him. Meiyuan had tried that more than once and been paid for his mistake. But these guys... Uru shuddered and shook his head to wash away the memory. He kicked the plug free and rose from the water, sluicing suds down the drain. He sat on the edge, holding the sponge in his hands as he let the water drain and his thoughts with it. More than fatigue made him wish this day was over as he slumped on the tub edge.

It's been a year...

Nicholas waited until Uru was in the bath before heading next door to beg some food from their neighbor. The family wasn't wealthy, but they could afford a loaf of bread and some sliced meat and cheese, especially after Nicholas gave them the money in his trousers; the tip for today's dancing. He didn't begrudge the gold coin, even knowing that thin sliver of gold could feed hundreds back in his homeland. Instead, he added it to the tally he kept - of dues paid and debts owed - when things changed. And they would change; of this he had no doubt. He put the food on the table near the sofa and went to his room, ready now to bathe away the filth of the fight, but found the bathroom door yet closed.

He couldn't still be in the bath, could he? Nicholas wondered and carefully opened the bathroom door. There was Uru, sitting on the edge of the tub, his back to the door, his shaggy head slumped down as if in sleep. Nicholas frowned, ready for a snide remark but then he caught sight of the lacerations on Uru's back and shoulders. He knew he held similar wounds and he knew his companion had to be feeling the pain without medicines. Well, at least that's something I can do, he thought and slid quietly into the bathroom, letting his towel fall silently next to Uru's on the floor.

He stood close to Uru, his hands pressed together, fingers touching, settling his mind to the task at hand. Inside, the darkness withdrew, the cover removed from the cool well of his power and his mind filled with blue-white light. When he opened his eyes, his hands were glowing slightly, gentle light bathing each long finger, and he opened his hands to hover them over Uru's injuries. His fingers barely grazed his partner's skin, light flowing like mist over the wounds, gently healing the lacerations. Fresh, pink skin grew around each cut, and Nicholas watched with satisfaction before lightly touching his shoulders with his palms. Uru did not move and so Nicholas let his hands slide down his arms, around his muscular chest, his delicate touch a caress of both healing and intimacy as his fingertips lightly circled the areola of his nipples.

Uru had nodded off. He watched the water circle down the drain, the soap suds and dirt gurgling away and taking his mind off today, off what it meant to be here, in Florence today. Getting into a fight had felt good, a bare-knuckled attempt to bleed out the anger and self-loathing he felt today - to beat it out of someone else, offer their blood as well as his on the altar of his screwed-up intentions. Yeah, like I ever had a clue what I was doing - I let it go too long, never even asked her what... he stopped the thought, letting it drain away and his eyes fluttered, closing on cheeks wet with more than bath water. The darkness was a balm; not the graveyard of his soul, but the gentle darkness of almost-slumber. He was riding the velvety silence when a coolness washed over him, tingling his body and mind and he felt cool, delicate fingers touching his skin, hands caressing, palms cupping... He opened sanguine eyes to see hands holding him, arms around his body and a cool, refreshing presence behind him that he instantly knew was Nicholas.


Nicholas leaned closer, his body touching that of Uru.

"Don't talk. Just let me help you," he said, his lips close to Uru's ear, the breath moving the wild strands.


"Shhhhh." Nicholas pulled his partner closer, threatening to pull him from the tub ledge. "You've been so tense, so not yourself. I know you're hurting," he said softly.

"An' you're prying again, bastard," Uru said back, just as softly, but made no effort to break the other man's hold. The cool hands, the fingers caressing him felt like ice and fire in one and his body, sore and tired, was enjoying the sensations tingling up and down his spine, sending welcome shivers to flesh and bone alike.

Nicholas huffed a silent laugh, his breath blowing warmly across Uru's cheek.

"Admit it; you like it," he said and he could feel Uru's smirk with the tightening of his neck muscles.

"Admit it, you want it," he replied and could not stop the teasing chuckle from burbling out.

Nicholas was surprised at the offer, or was it a tease? He held the other man in his arms, Uru's back to his chest; he could feel both their hearts beating, feel Uru's breath both on his arms and in his ears as he leaned closer. Was he offering without a fight what he usually refused?

"You offering?" he asked.

"Nah, I'm lyin', you know that."

"Ah, as I thought," he said and he felt his disappointment rising. "I only want to help, Uru. If you're willing ..." Part of him knew he was asking, nay, begging, while part of him truly wanted to help the man in his arms. He swallowed his pride in this moment of inner honesty. He felt the lonliness of their existence in spite of sharing rooms together. He felt the aloneness that only a priest can feel who is far from his calling. And he knew, deep inside, that Uru felt that aloneness as well. Alone in a room full of patrons, a city full of souls - both of them lacking something important in their lives.

Uru could feel the coolness that he associated with Nicholas as he leaned closer, feeling Nick's chest, feeling his nipples prickling against the warmth of the fighter's back.

He's like a cascade in the mountains, he thought, cold and fresh and just a little forceful, with depths... He turned slightly, facing the man behind him, seeing Nicholas's green eyes half-hidden in thick lashes and the paleness that was his northern complexion. Without thinking about it, he let his lips touch the cheek lying so close to him, his nose tingling with the tell-tale scent of Nick's aftershave. He uses that damn minty stuff, he thought, and mentally smirked. How much he smelled and tasted the same... the memories of that first time - that last time - floating up to play out before his mind's eye. The two of them rolling like kids on the floor - Nicholas trying to control the situation and Uru refusing to give in. He tasted like mint then too, cool and delicious, and Uru opened his mouth to take the blond man's mouth in his again, green eyes suddenly looking up, surprise, hope and delight shining like emeralds in his gaze.

Nicholas looked up from his disappointment to gaze at fiery eyes, dark lashes framing those ruby orbs and a small, almost invisible scar along one lid. Warm lips, firm and hard as the muscles beneath his own arms, the other's body suddenly shifting and then standing, Uru's own strong, fighter's arms wrapping around Nicholas's body, fire to ice. Nicholas feel the heat of Uru's body, the strength of his arms holding him back and tasted the tang of the man, spicy hot and warm as the breath they both shared. Facing each other now, they shared lips, shared breath and Nicholas could feel more than just his heartbeat rising in excited delight. Flesh to flesh, lip to lip and not a thought for the consequences, he pulled at Uru, guiding him down to the floor.

There would be no tearing of cloth or ripping of belts this time, no excuses for teasing needing flesh. Nicholas's rise of desire and passion was met and matched by a hunger and need in Uru. Rough palms abraded hard flesh, stroking along an inner thigh while a long-fingered hand, calloused from swordplay, ran through dark locks, gripping tightly as hands explored and mouths tasted each other. No words were spoken, just soft sounds, a moan of anticipation, a rumble of forceful need, followed by soft laughter when all was done.

Sitting now, back to the tub, Nicholas leaning on him, his own legs and arms wrapped around the blond man in a careless caress, Uru rested his cheek against the golden head, letting the feelings wash over him. No, this was not what he wanted, but it was what he needed right now. He could admit that. He was man enough to admit that. He was also satisfied in a way he had not expected. Damn that priest, he thought.

"Hey, Nick, are all priests like you?" he asked softly.

Nicholas, hearing the hard beat of Uru's heart in his ears, and the deep rumble of his voice, smiled.

"I should think not." There was a touch of humour to the response and Uru smiled as well.

"Does Carla know? That you're a priest I mean?"

Blond hair tickled his nose as Nicholas shook his head. "I doubt it."

"Ah." Uru took one of Nick's hands in his, thumb caressing a callous. "So, why are you here, anyway. It sure ain't for the dancing."

Nichols chuckled softly. "No, it's not for the dancing," he replied.

Uru laughed again. "Okay, I got it. We both got secrets."

Nicholas moved around in Uru's arms, nestling closer, head resting on the younger man's muscular chest, his breath tickling one nipple. Uru closed his eyes a moment to ignore the delightful feeling.

"I'll trade you," Nicholas said, slipping his tongue out and tickling the nipple. "One of yours for one of mine," and the tongue circled the nipple before cool lips touched it in a teasing kiss.

"Damn you," Uru growled, shuddering at the cool kiss and the heat igniting in him again. "Fine. You first."

Nicholas smiled, mouth turning up to put cool lips to Uru's own mouth, his tongue sliding in to taste again the hot spice of the fighter before moving away.

"I am not who I appear," he said. "My mother was a famous ballerina in Russia."

Uru growled. "I'd never have known," he said but the smile belied the tone of his voice.

"I have my father's name. And he is a well-known political figure," Nicholas said, his own lips pulling back in an amused smile.

"Just say it, you bastard."

Nicholas chuckled. "My father is Tsar of Russia."

Uru remained silent, drinking in the thought that he had just fucked a prince. "So?"

Nicholas pouted, turning jade-green eyes up to catch Uru's gaze. "Bastard. Your turn."

"I know my parents, even though they're both dead," Uru countered. He thought what secrets he had that might be of interest to a priest; a priest pretending to be a dancer, a priest who knew well how to handle a sword and had magic running in his veins; a priest who knew how to send Uru's pulse pounding in directions he didn't want to think about.

"I had a lover once. A beautiful woman. She's dead now, because of me. A year ago... today," he said and he could feel the pall of that emotion beginning to overshadow him again. The beautiful woman sliding lifeless in his arms on the train; the beautiful woman's last words to him... I love you, Uru...

Nicholas could feel the sudden change in him, looking up at shadowed eyes, the words 'she's dead now because of me' sending a chill down his spine. That's why he's... Nicholas pulled Uru's head closer, his mouth touching, his lips offering a cool solace to the hurting heart. I can't change what happened, he thought. But that doesn't mean I can't offer him healing. It's what I am, after all; it's what I do. I carry God's divine light within me and I need to give it away. I need Uru as much as he needs me. The thought delighted him and he took the hot spice of Uru into his cool embrace, pulling the younger man into his arms and holding him. It's enough for now. It will have to be enough. Time enough for Carla, and revenge and all the things of life. For now there's just him and me.