Summary: Ritsuka reflects on important events in his life that Soubi has missed out on. Its just not the same. He should have been there.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the character Loveless. The series Loveless and anything canon to it belongs to Yun Kouga. I make NO money off this!
Dedication: Happy New Year, everyone!
Dedication 2: As of last night, I am officially engaged! For my fiancé. I love you so much. Thank you for making last night magical and memorable. And thanks to my sister and brother in law and my fiancé's parents for celebrating with us.
Its graduation. I'm going to walk across the stage with my friends, finally, after so long. I never thought I'd make it this far. I thought for sure I'd be killed by my mother or in battle. But here I am. A week after the last day of high school, sitting in the auditorium with everyone else and listening to stupid speeches about how we have our whole lives ahead of us. Yoji is snoring loudly, but on one cares. Natsuo is playing a game he snuck in with his PSP. Yuiko is crying. Yayoi is somewhere wishing he could help her but can't from the distance. Being sorted alphabetically sucks so much. If only they used our first names. But then Yoji and Natsuo would be separated, and we don't need to deal with that. Ah well. Oh, the principal is talking now. They're going to start calling us up one after another. I have to stand with the others and walk up, shake his hand and bow, then go back to my seat to wait for everyone else. Someone wake Yoji. I'm not going to do it.
Okay, here we go. Stand at the side of the stage, be quiet and respectful. Fine, I get it. This is a big deal. I'll just be happy when its over. Kio and Akira are throwing us a graduation party at my father's house. Bad idea. Whoever got champagne needs to be strangled. Yoji will try and drink half the bottle, I bet. Oops, my turn! I shouldn't zone out like that. My name is called. It's up the stairs we go. I shake his hand and take my diploma, I bow. I bow to the other sensei as I cross their half of the stage. Looking out across the crowd, I can't help but feel a little…numb. There's Kio, crying into Akira's shoulder as he snaps a few pictures. There's my father and his wife, her son and their daughter. There's Nagisa-sensei and the rest of Septimal Moon. I can't believe they all came. She probably forced them to. Ritsu is going to offer me his seat, officially designate me his heir, when we all get a moment to ourselves after the party. That's the only reason he came, I bet. Oh, there's Osamu and her parents. I'm surprised they came. She's waving so I guess I'll wave back to be polite. Katsuko-sensei is there too, trying to blend in with the crowd. Everyone I know, everyone that's important to my life is here. But…you're not. I frown as I sit back into my seat. You're not here. You should be here. It's the end of the year, it's the last hoorah before college and adult life hit me. My friends all know where they're going for school. I'm debating going to Ato with Akira and Kio. And you, I'm sourly reminded. You should be there.
You should have been here the past six years. You missed so much. Loveless, my other self, has come to form. We can switch between us almost flawlessly now. I'm getting used to having a voice in my head being my only companion most times. Thank god we got Katsuko-sensei back. That other doctor was a moron. False personality I made up to get away with being an asshole. Fuck him. That's right, I said fuck. I'm eighteen, I can do what I want in my own head, damn it.
I had a boyfriend. Or two. Or three. I can't remember; its hazy. I remember losing my ears. It should have been you. You should have been the one to take them. But…oh well. Things happen as they happen. Just know that if you ever come back, I'm yours in mind and body. You didn't get to meet any of them. Hell, they may not have even been with me if you were here.
Mom tossed me out. You should have been there. I should have been going to your apartment to live. I should have cried in your arms all night. I should have been able to run right to you. But I didn't. and I found Kio and Akira by accident, and they took me in by accident.
Father got remarried and I had to go to the wedding. You should have been my date, not what's his face. You should have been there to endure my step-mother teasing me about me being next, and to be a wall between me and my annoying cousin Maiko. I'm not sure why she even went. Everything was either in bad taste or too poor for her liking. You should have been there.
Prom was boring. You should have been with me. I think I went with Taku. I think he tried to get me drunk at the after party at his place. I can't remember, its all blurry. I lost my ears before that so I'm not sure if I had sex with him, with anyone. You should have been helping me pick out my suit and fix my hair. You should have been waiting at the bottom of the stairs with a limo and our friends when I went outside to meet you all. Instead of you, there was him. Just standing there, holding the door open, looking dashing in a suit that matched mine. Pure evil hiding behind a cool mask, much like my brother.
When Taku and I split, you should have been there. You would have kicked his damn ass for what he did to me. The cheating, the violence that was so much like my mother's. the control and the arguing. You wouldn't have let him get away with it, and I'm not sure I would have stopped you from doing anything about it. But you weren't there. It was Akira and Kio picking up the pieces, Yoji and Natsuo using word spell to make him sick for weeks, Yuiko and Yayoi trying to cheer me up. But where were you? Where were you when I needed you, Soubi?
I almost failed out of a few classes. Why weren't you there to kick my ass into gear to get my grades up? You should have been there to help me. You weren't there. You promised you would be there. You weren't. Why? Why did you lie to me and leave me? Loveless says you had no choice, and I know that, I do! I forgave you, so why am I still so hurt!
Oh, it's over. Everyone is leaving. Yoji is looking at me like I'm an idiot for just sitting here. I guess I zoned out again. I do it a lot. Well, time to go. Time to say goodbye to people I don't care about to go party with everyone else. I don't get why Maiko has to be there. Guess its rude to not invite family for this kind of thing, but since when has father ever cared about rudeness?
The ride to his place is long and loud. Yoji and Natsuo are joking around, Kio and Akira are singing poorly to the music. And I'm just thinking. I should be going to your apartment to celebrate in peace and quiet. I shouldn't be here with them, going to be with people I can barely stand. I should be with you, in your arms, in your bed. Anywhere with you, anywhere but here without you!
Maiko is rude, father gave some pointless speech about how proud he is. Most of my life you were gone, so shut up, I don't want to hear it. Do you even have a right to be proud of me? I wonder if you are. You don't have the right either, though, do you?
There's cake and soda, there's ice cream and champagne. Nagisa stopped Yoji from drinking himself into a coma. Ritsu's coming over, I bet he wants to ask me. Yup, that's what he's asking. Will you do it, Ritsuka? Take over for me, Loveless? I agree, of course. What a nice middle finger for my brother, letting me take over the world he wanted to rule so damn badly.
Everyone is here. Yuiko's family, Yayoi's. my own family, Septimal Moon. Well…not everyone…you should be here. You'd like it. Seeing us all together one last time, seeing what a man I've turned out to be so far. You should be here. We can celebrate you being away from Seimei, too. Could celebrate how far we've come, how far I've come. Things should be different. Every memory I have of my teen years, I have without you. I have Loveless, though. He never leaves, he can't. Yoji and Natsuo pity me too much to leave. Kio and Akira have taken over the parent roles in my life. They're never going away either. But you did. You left because Seimei told you to…but you should be here…
Ritsuka stood at the front of the crowd that the guests of the party had made themselves into. Everyone had given some kind of parting words, so now it was his turn. He didn't want to. He wanted to recede back into his mind and think about how everything feels right, but it isn't. Nothing is right. He's not here. Soubi isn't here. He hasn't been in years. He never will be…will he..?
"Um…I'm not sure what to say…its all already been said." Ritsuka began. "Thanks everyone for coming and showing their support. Um. I wish all my friends the best in their respective futures, whatever that brings them." He paused. "I'm…I don't know what I'm going to do. I really don't. then again, I don't think I ever have. I'm winging it more than anything. Whatever happens, happens, you know?" Another pause. "I just…Its been years…since I moved here and started school and…it feels like an eternity ago." He laughed. "Everything kind of mushes together after a certain point, you know? Guess…I guess in the end I'm just glad my ex is gone and won't be coming back thanks Yoji."
"Welcome!" Yoji raised his glass, making the others laugh.
Not everyone knew the extent of his relationship with Taku, just that it was unstable.
"But…as I look around at everyone…while I'm thankful you're all here…I can't help but realize something is missing. There are people that should be there, that aren't, that can't be. I never really thought I'd graduate without my mother being around somewhere." Yoji and Natsuo gave him twin looks of sympathy, knowing he wasn't just referring to his mother. "I know a few of you are missing loved ones here today as well, and for that I am sorry. That they couldn't be here, I'm sorry. But I guess they're here in a way, so we should be thankful. I'm not trying to drag everyone down, just something I couldn't help but notice, you know? Well anyway, it's a happy occasion and after everything we've all been through over the years, it's about time we had time to celebrate. To celebrate that we survived, that we're going onto bigger and better things than just being high school kids. Good luck to everyone, and thank you for coming." A pause. "And to those that we are all missing today…you should be here…"
The others clapped and cheered, the music going back on and everyone dispersing to do as they pleased. Ritsuka swallowed the entire glass of champagne in one gulp and set it down on the table, maneuvering around everyone to go inside the house. When he couldn't escape people inside, he said his hellos and thanks and farewells to those leaving, and made his way to the front yard. There was a playground built for his sister and a clubhouse in the tree that he and his step-brother spent a lot of time putting together and just hanging out in whenever Ritsuka would come to visit. Not that that was often. He sighed and climbed the rope ladder one more time to sit in his usual corner of the clubhouse. It was obscured from the door and windows enough that no one could see him, but he could tell if someone was coming. Ritsuka sighed, leaning his head back against the wall and looking up thorough a hole in the roof at clouds passing by.
"You should be here." He told nothing. "It…doesn't feel the same without you…none of this does. I've just been going through the motions, just winging it, because I don't know what else to do. I've tried to get you back, but I just don't know how. I've tried to go on without you and just live normally, but there's still a hole there. You're not here. You should be here." He slammed a fist into the floor of the treehouse. "Why aren't you here? You promised me you'd never leave…you promised…why aren't you here, Soubi?" Tears fell. "You should fucking be here!"
"Ritsuka?" A smaller voice wondered.
He turned to see that his step-brother had come into the treehouse when he wasn't paying attention.
"Who are you talking to?" He asked.
"I…someone you don't know." Ritsuka replied. "An old friend…"
"Hm? Dead? I don't know, could be. May not be. I haven't heard from him in years."
"Was that who you were talking about earlier? That the people we're missing should be here?"
"Yeah…" Ritsuka paused. How much was he comfortable telling the eleven year old? "We met when I was about your age…he's Seimei's friend."
"Oh. So he's older."
"Yeah." A laughed. "My first love…god, if he only knew what Taku did to me, he wouldn't have a tongue."
"Gross." He laughed.
Ritsuka smiled slightly. "I guess. He was protective…honestly, I figured out I was gay because I fell in love with him…he promised he'd never hurt me, never leave me and then…he left…"
"Where did he go?"
"Not sure. He just kind of left." Not like that was a lie. He was probably still in Gora, though. Or wherever Seimei liked to hide. Ritsuka knew his Fighter lived in Kyoto, so he could have been nearby.
"That stinks. His family moved away?"
"Something like that."
"This doesn't leave this clubhouse, understood? Dad would freak."
"because he was older? Um okay. Nothing ever leaves the clubhouse, remember. That's our rule." He held out a pinky finger.
Ritsuka laughed, linking his pinky as he brushed liquid from his face.
"You still love him, don't you?"
"You never forget your first love." Ritsuka replied. "But yes, of course I do. I miss him more and more every day…"
"I'm sorry, Ritsuka…I wish he was here."
"He should be here."
He nodded. "Maybe…maybe its just not his time to come back."
"I mean, you're doing okay without him, right? You graduated! And you have other friends. You've dated a bit. So its not like you're struggling. Maybe he's not here because he doesn't need to be." He paused. "Mom once told me that sometimes people leave your life because its their time to go. Some of them God wants back and so they die. Others just have somewhere else they need to be, something else they need to do, so they go away. And when you need them again, when tis time for them to come back, they do. Maybe it's just not his time to come back yet."
Ritsuka paused. Maybe the preteen was right. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, everyone had their role to play, their lot in life, in the battle of Seimei's side versus Septimal Moon's side. Soubi's was at his side, he knew, but for now, he was needed at Seimei's side. When it was time for the final battle, maybe he'd come back. But it wasn't the right time for him to do so now.
"Yeah…he should be here…but he isn't." Ritsuka shuffled to his knees. "He'll come back when I least expect it…and everything will make sense again." He watched his brother nod. "Thank you…I think I needed to hear that, kid."
"You're welcome. I followed you because you seemed so upset. I wish I could help more."
Ritsuka gave him a small smile as rain began to pour down from the cloudy sky outside. "You've helped me more than you'll ever know."
Soubi would be back one day. He knew it. First, there was no way Seimei would win. Second, there was no way Soubi would leave him alone forever. Eventually he'd get sick of the abuse and grow the balls to leave. Eventually he'd come back and take his rightful place with Ritsuka. Maybe it wouldn't be until he took over Septimal Moon. Maybe it would be before that, or after Seimei finally fell. He had no way to tell.
He climbed out of the clubhouse with his brother in tow when their father called them to come inside. Ritsuka chased the younger boy into the house, laughing while they got soaked to the bone and yelled at by Amia for dripping all over the carpet. Ritsuka took one last look outside as his dad shut the door, feeling like something was missing. He saw a figure walking away and put his shoes back on, rushing past his father to chase after them.
"Ritsuka!" His father called. "Where are you going?"
"I'll be right back! There's something I have to do!" Ritsuka waved as he kept running after the figure that disappeared around the corner. "Wait!" he called. "Wait up!"
He turned the corner and almost bumped into the person that had stopped. They held a black umbrella to protect them from the rain, extending it so it covered Ritsuka too. Cobalt eyes looked down at him from a face framed by blonde locks.
"I didn't mean to drag you away from your party." He informed. "I just…wanted to see if you were okay…"
Ritsuka panted, looking up. "How am I okay…how am I okay when you're not here? You…" he paused. "I missed you…"
"I've missed you, as well…I'm sorry I couldn't come sooner…I…"
"it's okay. It wasn't your time to come back…"
"Just…something my step-brother told me. He said sometimes people leave because they have to be somewhere else, but they come back when you need them again. You had to leave to do work for Seimei, right?"
"And now…he doesn't need you…?"
"Something happened, yes."
Ritsuka nodded. "Come on." He held out a hand. "Come back to the party with me."
"I…" Soubi took the offered hand without further protest.
At the front door to the Aoyagi household, they stopped as Soubi shut the umbrella.
"I shouldn't intrude." Soubi stated. "You were all…"
Ritsuka stopped him by yanking him closer by the tie he was wearing and melding their lips together. Soubi froze in the kiss, breathing out a wow when Ritsuka let him go. The former neko grabbed the doorknob.
"Don't go running off on me, now." He scolded. "Come on…" He opened the door. "You should be here."