By Tzigane

It was a rather cute little nightlight, a train with a red smokestack and wheels, and white clearish plastic emblazoned on the side with the name of some ancient medical company long since defunct. It wouldn't fit in the socket right-side up, so it hung upside down, instead, chugging merrily along with its smokestack spilling light all over the floor and the bed. He was glad that he had found it, though. He couldn't sleep without one anymore. Not since they had come.

"Please, Duo, room with me," he'd begged, hating to lower himself that far, but he was so tired. He didn't sleep well at night anymore, ever, only during the day, and even then his dreams were filled with the sound of them, the fear of them, the overwhelming knowledge that they would creep out of whatever hole to Hell they hid in during the day and come to get him, just the way they'd gotten her.

The pilot with the chestnut braid had only laughed, though, and turned down his pleading. "Hey, we got rooms enough for all of us to have our own this time, man. Don't you even want a little time alone for jerkin' off?"

He didn't, and he'd told the L2 orphan that, but that had just made Maxwell even more determined. "I'll give you something to whack off with," had been the response. "Unless you're queer. You queer?" he asked, violet eyes almost seeming to perk with some strange inner glow at that thought.

He'd protested that vaguely -- after all, he wasn't really sure that he was not, and he'd been married once -- and pleaded again, but Maxwell hadn't been inclined to give in to him.

That was when he'd confessed about them.

At first, Maxwell had humored him. He was the baby amongst them, after all, and it showed in a lot of ways. He was brilliant, really book-smart, tactics smart, but he was still the baby, still the one they'd pat on the head if he wouldn't have bitten off a finger or two for an action like that. Still, the other pilot had only gone along with him for so long before he'd finally announced very firmly that there was no such thing as monsters under the bed or in the closet. No such thing as inch high skinless men with glowing red eyes and cannibal teeth, razor-sharp, scalpel-edged. "Don't be ridiculous," the short answer had finally come, and he'd given up then, ashamed that he had pleaded, ashamed that he had said anything. He felt so weak that way!

That night, instead of going to bed, he had sat in the kitchen as late as he could, until the others headed for their own rooms. He didn't want to go, but he was afraid that if he did not, then Duo would tell them about the little men, and then they would laugh and ridicule him and still make him sleep alone. They might even take his nightlight to try and prove to him that there was nothing to be afraid of, and he couldn't risk that. Under no circumstances could he bear to be alone in the dark, because he knew that when the lights went off, they would come out from their little Hell-holes and feast. He had seen it. He believed.

So he'd trudged up the stairs, turned on every light in the room and gotten ready for bed, even the light in the closet. Especially the light in the closet. He wished there was a light for under the bed, too, but there wasn't, just his little nightlight, and he watched it with the eyes of a fanatic.

At first, he'd thought that he had closed his eyes; that he was just so tired that the light had wobbled in his gaze, and that was all. It filled him with heart-sickening terror, just as the little squish-squish joy of the skinless men beneath the bed did. It wavered again, however, drawing a whimper out of his throat even as it began to fade.

That happy squish-squish-slush heightened even as he drew the covers over his head with a little sob, trembling all over. He hadn't stuck so much as a toe out from under his covers since they'd first come for fear that they would nibble on it, and so he hoped that if the light went out, they wouldn't know how to lift the covers, how to get them untucked from around his body, big puffy comforter protecting him from clawed hands and little nibbling teeth.

He hoped....

The light went out.


My name's Maxwell. Duo Maxwell. I run, I hide, and I never, ever lie.

When he said it to me, I thought he was just sufferin' from somethin'. You know, post-traumatic stress or, hell, pre-traumatic stress, whatever you call it while it's still goin' on. There's gotta be a name for it, right? I mean... yeah. He was disturbed. We were all disturbed, right? All of us. Heero was suicidal, an' there was his pink girlfriend, always followin' him around. Trowa an' his obsessive frigid behavior. He was almost like the pink chick, except not horny. Asexual, maybe even. Quatre, who had that whole Electra-ish complex down pat; five bucks says somebody's paternal figure was makin' nightly visits. D'you call it Electra if it's a boy? I've always wondered. Then there's me an' my cross and priest's outfit even though I was spendin' most of my time killin' folks for fun and profit. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned an' all that shit.

An' then there was him.

See, he was different. Not like the rest of us. He didn't wanna get close to anybody an' he always saw through to what was real. He knew when the guys on the other side o' the war were gonna do somethin' to fuck with us. He knew everything, even though he was just a kid compared to people like me an' Trowa, people who've been ancient all our lives. Innocent, maybe even. No, no, not that. Naive. Yeah, that's the word. Naive. So when he went to talkin' about little men and whimperin' an' cryin' in the night, I just figured it was the war. I figured I'd call G an' get some kinda anti-psychotics or somethin' for him, right. Because that's all he needed.

That's what I thought.

I ain't ever seen anything like I seen that mornin', an' I've seen lots in my short life. Don't ever want to see nothin' like that again. It was terrible, the sight of skin that had been such pretty warm color stained with little red streaks of blood, eyes ripped out, mouth open in a scream nobody heard 'cause part of the torn apart covers had been shoved in his mouth. Gorgeous silky black hair was in tufts all over the bed, the tender parts of him gone altogether, belly to balls, even as close up as his throat.

See, I thought it was all just shit. I didn't know. And even I puked at the sight.

Didn't none of the others believe me when I told 'em what had done it, either. They didn't know what it was, but they didn't believe what it was. Hell, I didn't believe it 'til I saw what had been done.

So now I sleep with the nightlight. It's a choo choo train with a little red smokestack and wheels, and white clear-ish plastic with red letters that say MERCK. I replaced the burned out bulb and acquired five or six others. They're all over the room.

The other guys laugh like hell when I go around turnin' 'em on at night, but it helps. See, I know what Wufei didn't. They can't hide in their little holes and nooks an' crannies from Shinigami. I'm the God of Death, and those little bastards are mine, one by one. Been pickin' 'em off with a silenced pistol for days now. They kick when they die an' their little slick skinless muscles squish-squish-squish and spurt and make a fuckin' mess on the floor, their little red eyes burning out into black holes when I don't blow their teeny tiny heads off. The mess ain't so bad, though. Cleanin' it up ain't so bad.

It's that they all smell like him; like Chang Wufei as they pant out their last breaths in wafts of patchouli and coconut that disturb the hell out of me.

I ain't ever sleepin' in the dark again.