Destiny intrudes upon another love story
Ritsuka sighed as he carefully snapped his phone shut, making sure it made no sound. He winced as the effort reopened the raw cut in the soft flesh between his index finger and thumb. A drop of crimson made its way down to his wrist and, fuelled by the continuous flow behind it, made a course down into the wrist band of his pullover.
He ached in too many places to count and felt the sting of the corners in his body he knew were bruised and swollen. He was no longer fazed by the situation he found himself in, by the circumstances in which he lived and only wondered if there were enough plasters in his under-bed stash to cover up his new injuries. Six years of experience had forced him to accept it, had forced him to learn and prepare; six years since Seimei had "died".
He supposed he would have to get up and find out about the plasters, or he would bleed all over his dark pullover, one of the few remaining that did not look like it had been bled in despite the many instances he had already. But it hurt less to remain here, on the floor by his closed bedroom door and rest.
Weary, though not in body, he had considered calling Soubi to him but had changed his mind at the sight of the blue butterfly wallpaper in his phone. The butterfly often reminded Ritsuka of battle, the battle of Fighter and Sacrifice. It reminded him of Kio's words to him long ago: He, that Soubi, he was always beaten, always in a mess because of that Seimei.
Being reminded that Soubi also had sustained many injuries in his time as half of Beloved, urged Ritsuka into finding his pride again. He had never wanted anyone to find out about his home life, and those who did know he tried to keep out of it as much as possible. That they knew made him feel humiliated and weak, and he hated those feelings most of all.
So I'm back to square one, aren't I? Ritsuka thought to himself, gathering his strength and getting to his feet. His mother's sobs echoed through the house, and through his door. He could discern her wails, her begging and questions to a non present entity as to the whereabouts of her son, her real son.
Ritsuka had heard it many times in the last six years, had become accustomed to the emptiness that blossomed in the pit of his stomach whenever she said such things, whenever she turned those horrified eyes on him. Eyes that saw only a monstrosity before here, that refused to recognised him.
He had lived with it all, now a tall and slender sixteen year old. Still pale skinned, with the same rugged hair cut and still sporting white plasters across his face to school almost everyday.
Ritsuka stumbled over to his bed, careful to avoid dripping blood on his clean sheets, aware that he had already tracked the stuff across from the door. He dropped to his knees as carefully as he could, and bent over to reach under the bed. He had not expected his equilibrium to tilt as he did, had not anticipated the wave of dizziness to hit so hard.
As he keeled over, he wondered if he would wake in the middle of the night early enough to clean the blood off the floor before his mother decided to come upstairs. If there would be enough time to clean and tend to himself but still rest enough for school in the morning...
Four miles away in his moonlit apartment, Soubi awoke to a silent call he knew could only have come from Ritsuka and rose to dress.
And in another distance, Tsubaki's slim body unclenched with the loss of her Sacrifice's consciousness. The pain dimmed, the shadows of pain in her body that she knew only Loveless could be suffering. She had felt each blow, each stab in his heart, as they had been inflicted upon him.
The mourning in his heart echoed in hers, and though it was but a whisper she knew that his pain must be so much worse for it to resound in her like this. Her vision wavered under the onslaught of tears.
"Thank you, Soubi," Ritsuka murmured as he lay back against the pillows, Soubi carefully withdrawing his arms from beneath RItsuka's knees to stand back up. Bare skin glimmered in the moonlight at Soubi, whose eyes here hidden in the darkness from Ritsuka's vision. Not that he really needed to see the man's dispassionate and clenched look he so often wore when dealing with Ritsuka's injuries.
And he was tired. It would just be so much better to sleep...
"How is he?" Tsubaki's soft voice drifted through Ritsuka's consciousness and he pulled himself back from the edge.
Soubi stiffened at the sound of her voice, aware that both he and Ritsuka knew she had arrived before he had, though she had but waited on the balcony to Ritsuka's room.
Her immediate connection to Ritsuka was something Soubi intensely despised. He knew that her bond to him was connected before they had ever even been born, and that Tsubaki sensed Ritsuka far more acutely than he ever could. But she had waited as she had always waited, for Soubi to take care of Ritsuka. For this reason only did Soubi himself tolerate her presence in his and Ritsuka's life.
"Tsubaki," Ritsuka muttered almost accusingly, before Soubi could reply. "What are you doing here?"
"Still asking useless question, Ritsuka?" Tsubaki's voice, as always, deceptively soft and gently as it always was no matter what she said. "You know that I feel your pain, you know that I hear you when you cry, no matter how far-" She had stepped closer to Ritsuka and reached toward him as she spoke, her love and longing nearly choking her but that Soubi stepped into her path again.
It had become the norm for her, Soubi stepping in the way with his incredibly forceful Fighter's will as always blanketing her with that pressure of warning: Come any closer and I will hurt you. Already a sharp stab of pain pierced her mind.
She knew that if she put up a fuss, Ritsuka would order Soubi to stand down but she didn't want to worry him. She quieted, averted her eyes and willed herself to calm down. A glitter caught her eye, and she looked without thinking. It was Ritsuka's butterfly earrings that sparkled in the moonlight. The ones that he had asked Soubi to pierce into his ears, She thought.
Her heart burned at the memory of realising that those earrings matched the stud Soubi wore in his left ear, his right lobe half gone in evidence to the stud that had once been there too.
I gave him those earrings, the ones that I pierced him with. He wanted to become mine, to have a reminder that he belonged to me. And then I... I wanted to belong to him too.
Ritsuka understood too late how his words might hurt her/ But that was some time ago, it happened before I met you... And yet could not continue, obviously confused as to how to deal with the conflict in his heart over the two Fighters.
She did not want to watch Soubi gather a blanket to lay over Ritsuka, whose breath had begun to slow and even out as he settled into slumber. Instead, she knelt to gather the cleaning spray and paper towels under the foot of Ritsuka's bed and, reassured that he would be attended to, began to tend to the floor.
Carefully, she cleaned away all traces though each glimmer of the drying liquid cast another fracture upon her heart.
Ritsuka decided that carrying the messenger bag by its hand strap hurt less than wearing it over his shoulder or across his body. In that order, the pain classed Bad, Worse and Unbearable. Bad would have to do, then, he thought and made his way out to the street.
Good thing his high school uniform was long-sleeved and high-collared. It always covered up all the evidence of his mother's outbursts. His cat ears flattened as he hoped that Yuiko wouldn't insist on launching herself at him this morning, he hated to think about how that would hurt. But then, Tsubaki was good at keeping Yuiko off him on mornings like this. She always waited for him at the end of his street, at the first corner he turned to walk to school
My Fighter, he thought as his eyes easily found her slender frame leaning against the wall at the bend in the distance. As usual, his eyes knew where to look to find her, just as his heart always seemed to know her emotions. His mind seemed to always know the gist of her thoughts, and as always that eerie familiarity bothered him.
Tsubaki gave a small smile as she sensed his discomfort at having sensed her again. She looked up at him as he approached and smiled, his handsome appearance striking her as it always did. She could never find words to describe him, only always thinking that he was the most beautiful boy she had ever seen.
Ritsuka saw the greeting in her golden eyes as he approached, not needing to hear the spoken words. Good morning, Ritsuka. Are you alright? And, returning the smile though his was rather weak, he knew she understood his reply. Don't worry, I will be fine. I don't want you to worry.
They fell into a companionable step together, their steps a steady rhythm that both noticed: Her two paces equalled his every one and half.
Her pleated mini skirt fluttered in the wind, and brushed against his jeans, making Ritsuka realise how close to each other they walked without touching. Even that whisper of contact made him horribly all the more aware of her presence. It made him clench slightly, made him wonder at her more. He liked to look at her, to see this person with whom he was told he shared the same soul.
She wore the plaid pleated miniskirt uniform of their school, her white polo shirt all the more pristine in contrast to her yellow soft knitted vest and neatly bound dark neck tie. She came up to just past his shoulders in height, slim and slender just as he was. Her brown reddish hair fell in soft straight locks about her shoulders, a contrast to her pale skin.
Not as pale as Soubi's, He thought, and immediately chastised himself for thinking about his brother's Fighter. And yet at the same time he gritted his teeth. Soubi is mine now. I will decide my own fate, because my name isn't just "Loveless", it's Aoyagi Ritsuka!
Tsubaki sensed the mental rejection of her as they walked through the school gate. Mentally sighing, she consoled herself with the fact that his rejection of her was no longer simultaneous to laying eyes on her as it once had been.
Anyway, she had Yuiko to handle who, as custom, attempted to pounce on Ritsuka the moment she spied him never mind they were no longer in the same class and were now in high school. Even though she was dating that Yayoi-san, who seemed to be the only male in school with whom Ritsuka really got on well.
When the school bell rang, Ritsuka's heart leaped. Soubi would be waiting at the gate as usual, nonchalantly smoking his cigarette and garnering plenty of both surreptitious and open glances of admiration.
Ritsuka hated to make Soubi wait as much as he hated waiting to see Soubi himself, and so made his usual mad dash out to his locker to grab his coat. Tsubaki had long since become accustomed to this and was already matching his habit, always a step behind.
He jumped to sling his arm about Soubi's shoulders, momentarily oblivious of Tsubaki's feelings but aware to not say Soubi's name aloud so that his many nearby admirers would not learn his name. Their stares always riled him, the effects evident in the slight frizz of his tail fur.
This jealousy delighted Soubi greatly and, as he always did, he reached out to lightly grip Ritsuka's tail as close to the base as possible and, letting the tail swish out of his grasp, he smoothed the fur down.
He knew this ritual calmed Ritsuka, it was obvious to anyone looking that the two shared a special connection. And there were many habits they had developed over their four years together. Although, Soubi reminded himself, there had been fewer developments in the past year since Tsubaki had come into their lives.
Instead he had been forced to watch the two gaze wonderingly at each other each time they synched on anything and most everything. It irritated him, that pre-ordained bond that seemed to have been born the moment their gazes had first met. It was a bond that he, Beloved, could not deny the existence of nor intrude upon.
But when Ritsuka peered up at him like that through his hair, an almost imperceptible blush staining his cheeks, he could think only of how much he wanted to bend his head and...
"Hello, Agatsuma-san," The villainess starring role woman in his life said in her same sweet voice. It pulled him out of the spell Ritsuka's lips so often cast on him. Her smile was as gentle as it always was, but his arm still reflexively tightened about Ritsuka's shoulders.
It pained him to notice that she looked quite attractive, her stylish straight chopped fringe falling lightly to her brow, the length of her gleaming hair dancing wispily in the breeze about her slim shoulders. She won her own admiring looks from her fellow students, stares that misunderstood and often turned to glare at Ritsuka's back.
"Hello, Kurosaki-san," Soubi politely replied, refusing to release Ritsuka from his arm though prolonged public contact made Ritsuka uncomfortable.
Ritsuka led the trio away from school, lifting an arm to wave to Yuiko and Yayoi and indicating they would go ahead. It was obvious that they were heading away from the usual route, so Yuiko didn't bother bouncing cheerily over to insist they all walk together.
They were obviously heading for Agatsuma's residence and Tsubaki, knowing she would most likely have to endure the discomfort of Ritsuka asking Soubi to invite her in, she decided to make her escape. She had already said her piece, anyway. The ball was in Ritsuka's court.
"Ritsuka!" Tsubaki piped up cheerily, "I have to get back and do some laundry this afternoon." She failed to hide her disappointment yet determinedly maintained her smile. "I will leave you in Agatsuma's care today."
"I see." Ritsuka nodded, looking somewhat relieved. "Then, take care on your way back." And with a wave, Tsubaki turned off and headed back to her dormitory.
Ritsuka could sense the hurt from her as she left, feeling guilty that his relationship with Soubi could harm her so much.
But it simply could not be helped, really. He had decided on Soubi. It was Soubi he wanted to see.
He had come to accept his life at his mother's home, lived with the beatings and had regained as much control of living his life as he could. Ritsuka had, with the help of his psychiatrist Katsuko-sensei, come to accept himself again.
"I think you cannot love someone else if you don't know how to love yourself." She had told him so a long while ago, and since had helped him further along.
He had opened up more, and cemented his friendships with Yuiko and Yayoi. He had come to have other friends in school, had learned from them to become more approachable and had even joined the soccer club. He had become popular in his freshman year at High School -this judged by Yuiko according to the number of pretty little scented love letters he kept finding in his locker.
He was still a rare person to have for company, preferring to spend his time with his two closest friends above other acquaintances.
And when those two friends started dating, when he had become a bit of a third wheel, his friendship with Soubi had deepened. Soubi... He had even told Katsuko-sensei about his brother's "friend" and had come to terms with the possibility of being gay.
"If you find someone whom you care about, whom you want to make happy and who makes you happy too, then you should follow your heart. No matter what gender that person is."
Her words had helped him so much.
He had made other progress as well, the kind he could not share: After that horrifying dream four years ago, of the Soubi who had killed everyone dear to him, Ritsuka learned to cast Words. His emotions had been the power behind his spells and he had initially made quick progress. But his abilities had come to a plateau as his old anger and frustration at life lessened.
The second generation Zero couple, Natsuo and Youji, happily provided themselves as practice subjects whenever they were around for a visit. They could never pass up a chance to mock the non-matching named pair. And there had been a few battles whenever Ritsu-sensei from the Seven Moons School felt that he needed to try out or even punish a new Fighter-Sacrifice couple by setting them on his precious prodigy.
Then Ritsu-sensei had sent Kurosaki Tsubaki to him, her arrival slyly timed to coincide with a confrontation with the then-latest couple. She had taken advantage of Soubi's absence as the Sensei had suggested and grabbed Ritsuka, taking him into her arms.
The imminent danger had forced Ritsuka to declare his name for the first time and, taking Tsubaki's hand, had felt the words flow from his lips: "We who share this dark name will cast your bond, your love, asunder."
The racing electricity of power in his body at the incantation had shocked him. He had not expected to call upon his power so much more easily than with Soubi. That strength had shocked Tsubaki as well, for her Sacrifice to lend so much energy to their Link. With that much at her disposal, Loveless triumphed easily.
She was ecstatic to have found him, and Ritsuka was immensely curious to be drawn to her so. He had wanted not to trust her for she had come on Ritsu-sensei's instructions after all, that man who had left those disgusting scars across Soubi's beautiful back. But he could feel right through her: She wanted only him.
Needless to say, she had hated Soubi on sight. She could not accept that he and Ritsuka, her Sacrifice, could share such a strong association. Further, she had been positively infuriated that they chose to battle together, falling all too easily into step together the next instant a battle presented itself. She could take little comfort in that Ritsuka was rather embarrassed to abandon her.
But if she thought she was incensed by that, it was nothing in comparison to witnessing them kiss. She believed that Soubi had stolen Ritsuka from her.
However, her love and longing won out and so she remained by Ritsuka's side, in his school and in his life. Her patience sometimes paid off, as there had been a few other opportunities for them to pair in the year since they had first met. There had been days when Soubi was busy at work, when he was not around or when Ritsuka chose to spend time with her. She adored that he cared how she felt, and for her it made every moment of seeing him with Soubi almost worth it.
"I can take it that you prefer Soubi," Tsubaki told him, eyes downcast as she stood half turned away from him. "I can understand because he was there for you first, and has been with you for these past years,"
Ritsuka had bowed his head, his cat ears folding. "It's not that he was here first-"
"I can understand that you want to follow your heart, too," She interrupted, her own ears miserably drooped. "You love him, I know this."
She turned toward him, caught his gaze and bared the back of her left forearm to him, displaying the faint script that appeared there. "But this is something to consider, too."
As the two made their way back to Soubi's apartment to spend the rest of the day together until Ritsuka's curfew, Ritsuka contemplated on how to break his news.
This was something he had not discussed with Soubi before. He recalled another Zero, another girl who had asked him about his name. It appears on your body, doesn't it? Your name is written on your body somewhere, show me! You know, it's a bond between you and your Fighter. It proves you are meant for each other.
He considered this as they entered the apartment and shed their shoes in comfortable silence.
Soubi set a kettle of water on the stove and began to prepare the cups for their tea. As he made the preparations, Ritsuka came up behind him and leaned into his back.
"Ritsuka?" Soubi's voice low and puzzled.
"Just for a bit," Ritsuka could not shake the sensation of separation that had been sneaking upon him from the day before, since that conversation with Tsubaki. He leaned further into the familiar warmth, breathing in that scent of Soubi's that had always seemed to calm him.
Sensing Ritsuka's tension, Soubi turned and took the boy into his arms. It bothered him to see Ritsuka's tail lashing like this, his ears pricked to the side -all the things he did when he was upset.
In the circle of Soubi's arms, Ritsuka thought about fate. Fate is coming to get me, even though I choose Soubi. Even though it is Soubi I love.
The kettle began to whistle and Soubi, taking Ritsuka with him, siddled over to switch off the stove. "Ritsuka, what is wrong?" Soubi stroked the boy's head, ruffling hair and holding him close with the other arm.
Fiddling with a droopy ear, Soubi decided he did not like this touch of sadness he sensed. He slid his hand down to catch Ritsuka's chin, and tilted that smooth face up to his. The troubled expression there only worried him further.
"Do you love me, Soubi?"
The taller man's eyes widened, his posture stilling at the sudden query. But in the next moment, he replied. "I have truly loved you since I stopped saying that love spell, Ritsuka." He frowned slightly. "You know this, I have told you before."
"I love you, Soubi." It was but a whisper, and Ritsuka had turned his face back into Soubi's soft cotton polo shirt so that his voice was muffled.
The heat of Ritsuka's breath still seeped through the cloth and seemed to seep in further into Soubi's heart. It made that swell of gladness rise in his chest, until it strained just beneath his throat and threatened to choke him up with happiness.
But there was something wrong, and he was determined to get to the bottom of this. He knew Ritsuka had a tendency to mull over matters too much and he carried enough on his slim shoulders as it was.
Beautiful slim shoulders, thought Soubi as he attempted to massage the tension away there. It wasn't really working.
He drew Ritsuka to the bed and sat him down. But seeing the boy's ears still drooping, that haunted expression in his eyes, he changed his mind and drew Ritsuka down onto the bed with him, and pulled him close.
Soubi wrapped his arms around the slight frame of this young man, the one he loved most in the world. He tucked Ritsuka's head under his chin and prodded "Tell me." Adding a soft promise, "Tell me everything that plagues you and I will chase it all away."
"I choose you, Soubi." Ritsuka muttered fiercely against Soubi's chest. "I choose to be with you, I choose you as my Fighter and I choose to love you." His arms gripped Soubi tightly.
"Then there is nothing there to be afraid of," Soubi replied, glad for the comfort with which Ritsuka said such wonderful words. "Because I choose all those things, too"
"But I am not Beloved,"
A pang in Soubi's heart. "You are beloved by me," He teased lightly, disliking the tone in Ritsuka's soft voice.
"But I am not "Beloved"!" Ritsuka pulled away suddenly and sat up to glare down at Soubi. "I don't have the same name as you!"
"That doesn't matter if you chose-"
"I have her name!" His voice was almost a wail.
Ritsuka's eyes shone fear and hurt, and suddenly Soubi understood. His insides clenched.
They have fought together enough times and he has been near her in school more often than I have been out of it. It would only be natural.
Soubi sat up, his eyes hard, and gripped Ritsuka's shoulders. His voice caught, making it lower pitched than normal. "Where is it?" he demanded almost roughly.
Ritsuka miserably held up his right arm and folded it back to let his palm rest on his own shoulder. He averted his gaze and presented the underside of his fore arm.
Fingers trembled slightly as Soubi reached out to unbutton the cuff of Ritsuka's black uniform jacket and white polo. His eyes drifted shut as he tugged the sleeve lower, but once the cloth had bunched about Ritsuka's elbow there was no choice but to look and see.
He could not restrain a sharp intake of breath. Ritsuka's eyes clenched, and Soubi realised his own reaction was not helping. But the evidence of their difference was there, making its slow and steady appearance.
The script was beautiful, he decided as he ran a finger over it lightly, some mad thought that he could wipe it away flitting through his mind. It was so unlike the scratchy lettering on most he had seen and like his own. The cursive traced lengthwise down Ritsuka's arm, precisely where it should touch its mate, were Ritsuka to grasp Tsubaki's arm and align his forearm with hers.
With hers... Soubi's expression darkened at the thought.
A little frantically, Soubi recollected how a Zero series Fighter had once reformed bonds with another Sacrifice. Yet, he also knew that Tsubaki would not let Ritsuka go without a fight, nor was she a Zero who could cast that particular spell.
Soubi knew, from all the lectures that Ritsu-sensei had hammered into his head, that Ritsuka was undeniably Tsubaki's Sacrifice. It is a name decided before one is born, it is a destiny to belong to another of the same name.
Unconsidered, the thought drifted across his mind. Seimei is my Sacrifice.
Giving himself a mental shake, Soubi spoke firmly. "Seimei was my Sacrifice," He gathered the boy into his arms and pulled him close. He tilted Ritsuka's face up to his as he bent, his voice dropping further. "And now you are mine, the one I love..."
Ritsuka sighed as the gentle pressure settled upon his lips, worry melting, the hot sensations sliding down his throat and chest; down to knot tightly in his belly as it always did. His skin hummed, and his heartbeat resounded faintly in his ears. He reached for Soubi, rising up lightly on his knees a bit and giving himself over to Soubi's control.
The Fighter's strong hands slid forward to take a firm hold behind Ritsuka's legs and pull him forward yet further, and into sudden contact with a hard abdomen. Ritsuka's breath caught, the intense kiss breaking, and Soubi gasped lightly as they made intimate contact through their clothes.
The heat was unmistakable, the passion very strong. But still Soubi paused, gave Ritsuka time for air and allowed the young man to calm. He very much wanted to continue, but the other might not be ready to receive further advances. Still, Soubi enjoyed making Ritsuka breathless from kisses, and squirm with tension. He bent his head once more, and slid his lips gently down over Ritsuka's chin.
His hands found the neck of the uniform jacket, and swiftly undid the fastenings to peel the garment away. His mouth followed belatedly, to the soft curve between neck and shoulder that he found most tantalising. He undid the buttons of Ritsuka's shirt and tossed the obstructive clothing aside.
Ritsuka could barely think as Soubi's wet mouth closed over the corner of his shoulder. He shuddered as soft blonde hair slid over his chest and yet also tickled his back. "Soubi..."
The quivering rush of breath that spelled his name entranced Soubi. It made his blood run hotter and his fingertips' yearning stronger. His hands dared to slide further down to Ritsuka's trousers.
The reflex to arch his back took him over in a rush of exhaled breath. Ritsuka thought he might go mad as Soubi's hands caressed his straining hardness through the trousers of his uniform. He liked the sensations that bombarded his body, loved the feel of Soubi in his arms and wanted to explore it all further. But his hand had found the bandages about Soubi's slim neck, the bandages which concealed a name.
A name dissimilar to mine...
The resistance from his embrace brought Soubi almost as quickly to sobriety as the harsh call of his name. Unwilling to surrender, his arm held the boy fast as his other hand remained precisely where it was against the youth's throbbing evidence of arousal.
Ritsuka paused as his eyes met Soubi's, aware that he was still sweetly trapped quite literally in the blonde's hand. Resisting the urge to squirm, he pulled the bandage away to reveal the scar-like lettering of Soubi's Fighter name. He lightly traced the harshly etched word with a fingertip, causing the muscles beneath to jump in reaction.
The letters worried him, creased his brow and chased away thoughts of lovemaking. But Soubi's unrelenting gaze clearly announced he had no intention of letting Ritsuka go.
"Does having a different name make you love me less?" Soubi asked in a near hoarse voice, eyes hard as if braced for a negative reply.
Ritsuka heard the plea beneath the words, the unnecessary beg that wrenched at his heart. He tilted onto his knees and pulled Soubi fiercely to him, angry that such a question had crossed Soubi's mind, much more even pass his lips. His teeth gritted, he curved himself over Soubi's shoulder, pulling the Fighter yet tighter to him.
As Soubi drew his arms around Ritsuka and returned the embrace, the torment in his heart calmed. Not a word need be spoken; the boy almost radiated his outrage at the question, tail a-frizz.
It was a miracle to him that Ritsuka returned his love. After all, he had practically forced his way into Ritsuka's life, forced the then 12 year old to deal with the half truths surrounding Seimei's death. Further still, he had forced Ritsuka to fight. An unschooled child in battle, what had he been thinking?
Ritsu-sensei had always insisted that a Fighter was nothing more than a tool for a Sacrifice, and Seimei had issued almost nothing but orders. But Ritsuka, child as he was, took him as a person, had stormed at him for his strangeness and told him to think for himself.
To think as a person and not a Fighter
"What did you say?" His question a whisper, jaw slack, so shocked he had been to hear the words he had thought would never, ever grace his ears.
Ritsuka had been on a proclamation spree, telling those he cared about that they mattered to him. He had told his mother he loved her, having caught her in a good mood, putting his arms around her and telling her he was back. She had cried in his arms that day.
He had told Yuiko and Yayoi that he hoped high school would not separate them the following year because he felt they were the most important friends he could ever have.
He had told Katsuko-Sensei how much he appreciated her for guiding him through the last few years of his life back to how he remembered it felt to be alive.
But never did Soubi expect to hear what he had just.
"Don't be silly, you heard me." Ritsuka huffed, looking away, his face beginning to redden. Soubi reached for him but Ritsuka swatted his hands away.
"I can say that I love you because I love who I am, too." Ritsuka paused and took a steadying breath. "I am Aoyagi Ritsuka, and I love Agatsuma Soubi." He glared, cheeks burning, voice rising slightly. "But you still say you love me without any purpose behind it, a spell to cast a bond between us as Fighter and Sacrifice, and completely without-"
"I love you, Ritsuka!" Soubi grabbed him harshly, anxious that the words had lost their power, that they would never reach Ritsuka at all.
"Stop saying that!" The little one stormed, batting away the Fighter's hands, eyes glinting brightly. "You don't know what it means to love, having no sense of who you are and what you want, and-" Ritsuka's voice cracked, "-still following a dead man's orders!"
Soubi froze, his hand poised in midair where it had been pushed aside. "To say that I would die for you might pass so easily from my mouth, Ritsuka," Soubi said, his voice shaky from the hurt Ritsuka had wrought. "But that does not mean that I would not do precisely as I said."
Ritsuka wanted to stamp his foot in sheer frustration. "Who would want you to die?!" He turned to face Soubi completely, planted his feet and pierced the taller man with his feverishly raging glare and nearly yelled, "If you died then you would be breaking every other promise you have ever made! You would be leaving me!" His voice rose until it truly was in a shout that he said, "And you would break my heart!"
Ritsuka glared no less ferociously having said that but continued in a lower tone, having completely stunned Soubi to attention. "You are not just a Fighter, you are not just Beloved, and you are not my brother's has-been war tool!" Ritsuka grabbed Soubi's shirt collar with both hands, frustrated beyond words. "You are Agatsuma Soubi, University senior and my friend!"
Ritsuka turned away to collect his bag and jacket, spitting, "And if you don't know what it means to be any of those things, then where is the person I love?" He stormed out of the apartment, past the frozen and speechless Kio on the steps and ran home.
"That brat's got some way of slapping you with the truth," Kio muttered much too audibly as he made his way into the apartment. "He's right, you know."
"Then why are you here?" Soubi asked wearily, putting a cigarette to his lips with slightly shaking hands and lighting it, at almost a complete loss. "What is it that you want from me?" He knew he was lashing out a bit, but an unfamiliar confusion gripped him.
Kio smiled almost sadly, an odd sort of clarity in his eyes. "I am here because I love the Agatsuma Soubi who didn't seem real, who called me when he couldn't move, bleeding out and completely happy about it," Shifting his gaze down to the bandage at Soubi's throat, he continued, "Who was strange and called Aoyagi Seimei his Master like it was the most normal thing in the world,"
Kio sighed softly, as he turned away to a chore. "I love the Soubi who wasn't truly part of this world, and that boy loves the Soubi who is."
Kio put the cans of beer in the shopping carrier he held away in the refrigerator, stood, and popped the tab on the one in his hand. "So I guess you have to choose: To remain here with me and stay weird, or go and be the person you have every right to become."
Soubi pulled Ritsuka down to set on his lap. He reached out a hand to the base of Ritsuka's tail, making the boy shiver as he caressed that sensitive place where skin became fur, and smoothed down the tail frizz. His fingertips lingered briefly on the tip before finally releasing it, pleased to watch it flick back toward him where it curled gently about his hip.
He adored how Ritsuka's ears always swivelled swiftly at the sound of his voice, that his tail always sought contact with him. He loved how Ritsuka flushed that pale shade of pink whenever they kissed, and his heart ached sweetly whenever the boy reached for him of his own volition.
Soubi's eyes rose to meet Ritsuka's as he contemplated these things he loved, including that frizzed-kitty air the boy had when acutely annoyed with him; Contemplated bits and pieces of the young man he loved.
They had chosen. That they could choose was something they both appreciated, because they had refused to be gathered into the flow of that entity dressed in the beautiful word Destiny. They were together despite all obstacles, despite all hurdles, and despite the passage of rough times.
Ritsuka can share his name with her, Soubi decided. Because I am content to own his heart. His gaze met Ritsuka's, whose breath caught at the words that shone there needing no voicing.
Ritsuka leaned, his lips finding Soubi's ever soft ones and seized him in a kiss. On a sigh, they broke apart, but did not move away. Even if they tried, their skin would only cling, their hands would only want to caress and their eyes would only seek the other.
And both their thoughts would be filled with the single question as to why a simple name would hinder them so.
- 29 August 2006
Please leave a review. This is my very FIRST fan fic, though I have accomplished some creative writing. Would like to hear suggestions, too, as I am considering finishing this to an ending of my own.