They'll never be whole but their broken pieces fit together somehow.
This is Ritsuka x Soubi, in that order. Just so you're warned.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two
chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.
-- Carl Jung
I come close, I lift you up
I make a noise in my throat, like a kitten
I change into the sort of creature I wish to be --
-- Spitz, Hagemono (Rejected Goods)
Soubi keeps his hands more or less off Ritsuka until one day he looks up and he realizes:
1. Ritsuka is within an inch or two of his own height, all long slender legs and silky black hair falling over high cheekbones and the same sweet wistful smile that had made Soubi feel like such a horrible pervert when Ritsuka had been twelve
2. There are several people drifting around him with the same muted but obvious intent people had always displayed around Seimei
3. One of them is pressing his attentions on Ritsuka behind the school and Ritsuka is not happy about it.
After the red haze clears from Soubi's eyes and the boy is attempting to flee with his hands cupped protectively over his groin, Ritsuka tilts his head up at Soubi. Soubi really hopes Ritsuka isn't going to grow any more because he'd hate to never have Ritsuka look up through his eyelashes at him again.
"I didn't know you could do that with Words," he says.
"Words are powerful things," says Soubi sedately. He's actually kind of surprised it worked, but he'd been rather irritated.
"What did I tell you about doing pointless things," says Ritsuka.
"I most humbly beg your pardon," says Soubi, lowering his eyes demurely. He knows and Ritsuka knows that he's no sooner sorry he did it than he's the queen of China, but Ritsuka lets it pass. "Will you punish me, Ritsuka?"
Ritsuka's ears flick back in minor irritation. "No," he says patiently. "Give me a kiss and then I've got to get back to class."
Soubi is kind of surprised that Ritsuka wants a kiss but he's totally willing to obey that order. His hands slide up and curl into the hair by Ritsuka's ears. He can't bend his head and nuzzle them as easily as he used to, they're still worth the effort of doing it; they taste silky-fine, with a texture like sable-hair paintbrushes. He mouths one gently and Ritsuka shivers. He's going to miss doing this when Ritsuka lets someone take his ears, he thinks, miss the way Ritsuka's ears and tail broadcast what he feels. He loves the way his ears move, flickering, lying flat, perking up. He loves the way his tail swishes very slightly when he's interested in something, the way he holds it high when he's happy, even the way it droops when he's sad.
"You're so cute," he says, nuzzling Ritsuka's human ear. "So sweet."
"And you love me?" says Ritsuka, which is actually kind of mean of him but Soubi recognizes it as the only punishment he's going to get for inappropriate use of words of power on some brat's dick. He sighs against Ritsuka's mouth. It's hard to believe he had ever had to tell himself, over and over, that he loved Ritsuka, had to make himself believe it.
"I always have," he says simply.
"Hmm," says Ritsuka, and pushes him away gently. Soubi allows himself to be pushed but he clings as much as he dares. "See you this afternoon?"
That's much too long to be without Ritsuka but he's endured worse. "Of course," he says, stealing a kiss and pulling gently at Ritsuka's ear.
Soubi has an exhibition right now that embarrasses Ritsuka, although it's really his fault: he said to Soubi, Why do you paint butterflies all the time if you don't like them?
What should I paint then? Soubi had asked.
How should I know? said Ritsuka impatiently. What makes you happy, I guess. Something. I can't tell you what to paint!
So Soubi had painted what made him happy and the exhibition, Rejected Goods, was an unexpected success; people kept asking him, why is it called Rejected Goods? You paint your model with such tenderness, is he a real boy? His ears, his tail, they express such purity. His eyes are so beautiful and distant. Who could reject him?
That's something Soubi is still trying to figure out but that's okay. Ritsuka had only seen the collection once -- and he'd turned an impossible shade of crimson and tried to slink rapidly out the door before anybody realized who he was. Soubi had caught him by one arm and tucked him against his side and made him look at all the pictures, one by one.
Soubi's personal favorite is one of Ritsuka lying down, carelessly holding an armful of flowers. He's wearing a red shirt and there's a private look on his face, as if he's thinking about a secret only he knows, one that he likes a lot and thinks about when he's sad. It's a look he's seen a thousand times on Ritsuka's face.
This is the only prayer he knows: Ritsuka's name.
So they'll never be all right, not really, but that's okay because they slowly fit their jagged edges together, a mosaic made of broken dreams and bleeding edges. If you look at it closely, it's a mess, but if you step back you see the pattern, the order they have made together. The light shines through them and maybe they're beautiful.
"Can't you tell when you're happy?" demands Kio one day, exasperated.
"No," says Soubi simply. "Someone always told me before."
"Oh, /you/," says Kio, somewhere between laughter and tears. "Go be happy with with your jailbait boyfriend, you freakish bastard."
"Ritsuka makes me happy," says Soubi, experimentally.
"Yes," says Kio. "And you make him happy."
A slow smile spreads across Soubi's face, reluctant and quiet. "I'm glad," he says.
It's a warm spring evening and Ritsuka has decided he wants to lie in the grass on the hill, his black ears flickering as the blades of grass brush against them. Soubi's sitting beside him, not talking or reading or drawing, or even thinking, really -- he's just sitting beside Ritsuka. He puts his hand beside Ritsuka's, not touching, but enough to feel the heat of his body, and he's not really surprised when Ritsuka turns his head lazily toward him and then rolls over and onto Soubi, pushing him down. Soubi goes willingly, bracing Ritsuka's hips with his hands. Ritsuka's hands curl on his chest slowly, uncurl again, and Soubi thinks he almost hears Ritsuka purr.
Soubi feels deliciously warm and languid. There's a yielding, brooding feeling that comes when Ritsuka straddles his hips like this, or when he lies down next to Soubi and curls up against him. He can't define it or explain it but he loves it. He lifts his chin, baring his throat in half-conscious invitation. Ritsuka licks his neck and he shivers.
Kio must be right. He must be some kind of pervert because right now all he wants to do is spread his legs and kiss Ritsuka, nuzzle at his face and chest and the sweet nape of his neck, while Ritsuka takes him, long and slow, rocking into Soubi and making him finally, finally, a part of Ritsuka. His hands slide lazily up Ritsuka's back to the nape of his neck and pull him down for a kiss.
"Soubi," says Ritsuka.
"Mmm?" says Soubi, one hand sliding under Ritsuka's sweater.
"Take my ears."
Soubi freezes for a second and then he shudders, hard. "Here?" he says, thinking crazily that his back is going to kill him afterward, grass is nice to lie on but not that nice. "Now?"
"Today," says Ritsuka, shifting restlessly, grinding against Soubi, and oh he's so beautiful, thinks Soubi helplessly, so beautiful. He could never paint this -- the pure arch of Ritsuka's body, the strength and grace of his hands stroking his chest. "Do you want to take them, Soubi?"
"Yes," he says. "Yes, yes, yes."
One day he's going to paint Ritsuka holding a lotus blossom in his hands, and people will ask him, Is that supposed to represent enlightenment? Purity? What does it mean?
And he will be able to say, It means I found what I was looking for.
The thing about sex is that it's always funny and awkward, the first time, and probably always but after a while you fit into each other's spaces. Soubi's used to that, expects it; really after what happened his first time anything was great, wonderful, amazing. He'd always thought that at least for a little while you were close to someone. But not always, he knows. He remembers Seimei closing his hand around him, watching his reactions with sharp cold eyes.
Ritsuka's not like that and what Soubi regrets is not that he doesn't have his ears, but that he'd given them up the way he had, that he had never had the chance to have Ritsuka chew on them softly like he chews Ritsuka's ears. He nuzzles them thoroughly, grooms them with his tongue, scraping them gently with his teeth until Ritsuka is shuddering hard. "What do you want?" he says softly. "Tell me."
Ritsuka has fine shivers going down his body. He looks decadent, a rich secret thing for Soubi alone. His cheeks are burning red with arousal and he says, "I don't know. What..." Soubi scrapes his teeth down Ritsuka's neck and he moans. "Stop it," he says.
Soubi stops it, waiting patiently for orders.
"What do you want?" says Ritsuka.
Soubi never knows what to do or think or say when Ritsuka says things like this; it's been long enough that he's slowly, slowly learned that he can say things that Ritsuka doesn't agree with but something deep in his mind panics when Ritsuka says things like this. Can he really say what he wants? He doesn't know what he wants. He wants Ritsuka. He just wants Ritsuka. "You," he says.
Ritsuka shivers again and his eyes go dark and for a second the secret smile passes his face. "That isn't what I meant," he says.
"It's true," says Soubi, pressing his face against Ritsuka's shoulder.
"I mean," says Ritsuka and Soubi can feel Ritsuka's skin heat up as he blushes clear to his chest, "What do you want to do?"
"Hmmm," says Soubi and really he shouldn't be an asshole about this but it's irresistably charming, how Ritsuka squirms with embarassment and pulls his hair to make him look Ritsuka in the face. "What do you want to do?"
"Soubi," says Ritsuka, very firmly, "If you do not stop that right now I will -- I will make you go take a cold shower."
Soubi chuckles deep in his throat and kisses Ritsuka softly. "Hold me," he says, and he can't help but be serious now. "Make me yours."
"Stupid," says Ritsuka, and he kisses Soubi on the forehead, like a promise. "We belong to each other."
Soubi's arms spasm around Ritsuka, crushing him to Soubi, as if they can be one being if only, if only Soubi could get near enough, if only Ritsuka could draw him near enough. "Ritsuka," he says, and it's a prayer, it's a plea. "I love you, Ritsuka."
"I know," says Ritsuka. "I love you."
Soubi falls to the mattress, bringing Ritsuka with him. Ritsuka's elbow lands on his stomach and he grunts. "Sorry!" says Ritsuka, looking panicked. "Um. What do we do?"
"Kio only got you ten books about this," says Soubi in a controlled voice, as if he could close his eyes and not have the painfully embarrassing moment where he walked in and found Ritsuka reading a book called 'The Psychology of Submission' with his ears wide and horrified and his tail completely bushed out painted on them. ("But Ricchan likes books!" argued Kio from the tree he was wedged in. "Don't do useless things!" said Soubi, trying to figure out if you could cut down a tree with a palette knife. "Soubi, leave Kio-san alive," said Ritsuka from the window.)
"That's different," says Ritsuka. "I don't want to hurt you. Or --"
"You can't hurt me," says Soubi. He speaks it as truth. It might be painful but Ritsuka would never hurt him. Ritsuka's ears go flat for a second -- he really is going to miss them, he thinks regretfully, but between the ears and the feel of Ritsuka's hands slowly sliding down his chest, he'll take Ritsuka's hands. He closes his eyes and tilts his head back, trying to feel everything as it happens. Ritsuka's hand goes lower, lower, and Soubi sighs a breath out, carefully. Ritsuka's hand around him. He's burning alive. He kisses Ritsuka, a deep sloppy kiss, as if he's forgotten everything he's known about this.
Ritsuka slides down on top of him and fumbles for the lube. He gets it out but his hands are shaking and it takes him a minute to unscrew the lid -- Soubi thinks he'd better not buy that brand again, who puts lube in a container that makes you have to be coordinated but some sort of sadist? -- but then he's got his hands slicked up and he's touching Soubi and all Soubi can think is Yes.
It's awkward and messy and Ritsuka keeps apologizing half under his breath for not knowing what he's doing and Soubi keeps saying It's all right, it's all right. Ritsuka slides one finger in carefully and Soubi moans with real gratitude, pushing back against it as Ritsuka sets his teeth and his ears go back flat against his skull as if he's upset. "Do it," says Soubi. "Please -- Ritsuka -- "
And Ritsuka slides in slowly, carefully, with a hitched breath that makes Soubi shudder. "Soubi," he says, his voice high and thin. "I can't --"
"Yes," says Soubi. Ritsuka moves a few times, slowly, slowly and then his rhythm speeds up and almost accidentally hits the right angle and Soubi really does moan then. It makes Ritsuka stiffen and cry out and then he falls against Soubi again, sweaty and shaking. He's so sweet, thinks Soubi, pressing kisses against Ritsuka's black ears while he still can. So sweet. He coaxes Ritsuka away from him enough to separate and then before he can gather Ritsuka in his arms again, Ritsuka slides down his body slowly, languidly, and licks him. Soubi's mind dissolves into white noise and all he can do is make helpless encouraging noises as Ritsuka sucks on him with lavish attention, as if he likes it, as if he loves Soubi and that's what really pushes him over, the thought, Ritsuka loves me.
They're rejected goods, Soubi knows, useless things that got thrown away. But they're together and it'll be okay, Soubi thinks, it's going to be all right because they can bind each other's wounds. They can help each other stand up, and little by little they'll go on their way.