By TK Date

The day was sticky and humid. Ryo almost felt like he was walking through water instead of air. For a moment he questioned why he had even gone outside today. It was overly hot; so much that his muscled form was drenched in sweat. With a sigh he turned and began to head back to the house. Despite the adverse weather conditions he still needed to keep exercising.

A small smile played on his lips as he recalled the words his koi would always use to describe his form. If not for his own fitness Ryo would always keep in shape for Touma. At the thought images of the blue haired trooper passed though his mind and Ryo couldn't help but sigh.

There was another reason he was out today. He wanted to make sure that there was enough time for Touma to prepare. Today was a special day. Granted Ryo didn't know exactly what Touma was planning, but he was almost sure that the bearer of Tenku wouldn't let this day go without something special. Shin and Seiji had slipped him the hint that the archer had big plans in store for this day. Ryo was almost giddy with anticipation because of the events to come.

Swinging the front door of the house open the ebony haired boy welcomed the rush of cold air that greeted him. Grinning he moved through the living room where Shin and Seiji sat watching the television. Plopping down on the couch he joined them in the activity.

"You are certainly in a good mood today," Seiji commented without breaking his gaze from the television.

"I've got good reason to be. Don't you two remember what day it is?" his reply came with a smirk.

A light laugh arose from Shin's direction, "Of course Seiji didn't forget. He was just joking with you. Weren't you?" a sharp jab of an elbow met the blonde's side.

"Ow, of course I was," a semi-annoyed blonde retorted while rubbing his bruised side.

Quickly Ryo's grins turned to laughter as he rose from his spot on the couch, "Is Touma awake? I want to talk to him about something."

"Are you forgetting some Ryo? This is Touma we're talking about," his answer came from Shin.

Another laugh reached their ears as Ryo moved up the stairs. It was a dumb question to ask if Touma was awake, it was only noon, but deep down inside he hoped that the late sleeper had woken early on this occasion. Still beaming he opened the door to the nuclear war zone as it had been dubbed.

He was greeted with the ever-common sight of scattered books and dirty clothes. Moving his eyes to bed his mood dampened somewhat. Touma hadn't woken up any earlier than he usually did; he was still tangled within his sheets enjoying his precious moments of rest. Meticulously picking his way through the debris Ryo reached the side of the occupied bed. Even though his wish hadn't come true he couldn't stay mad in the presence of Touma's angelic sleeping form. With a slight smirk he leaned over the sleeping boy and delivered a caressing kiss to the fragile lips. A slightly startled sound escaped into Ryo's mouth as he pulled back with a smirk.

"Morning sleepy head."

"S'it morning already?" the bleary eyed Trooper mumbled.

"Of course it is, it's noon silly."

"Mmm" Touma responded, slowly untangling himself from within the sheets.

"Do you remember what day it is today?" a grin tugged at the corners of Ryo's face.

"August 15th, why?"

With a laugh Ryo ruffles the disheveled blue locks atop his love's head, "And what is August 15th?"


Almost instantly the lighthearted expression drained from Ryo's face. How could he forget? It was such an important day. Touma was his one love, how could he forget this day?

"Touma...you're...joking right?" he had to gather his wits before the words choked themselves out of his throat. Shallow breaths in and out were on the verge of sobbing.

"No, Ryo-chan, I'm not," he shook his head, "Now what's so important about today?"

Fiery tears stung the corners of Ryo's eyes. Touma had forgot. He couldn't keep denying it. The one person he had hoped would surprise him would make his day, had forgotten his own plan. He couldn't hold it in; he couldn't keep from crying. Time seemed to stand still. The world was frozen. His heat, broken, was only a dull throb beating within his chest. Everything seemed to fall away; it was unimportant. All he could concentrate on was Touma's face, the confusion within it. It didn't make sense. He could remember tests, assignments, what seemed like millions of books but not one simple date. Why should he be confused? He was the logical one. Wasn't remembering an important a logical thing to do? Especially one you loved.

Before Touma even had a chance to respond he ran out of the room. Tearing himself away from the love, the one he loved. Ignoring the questions from Shin and Seiji he was out of the house in an instant. The tears tore wet tracks down his face but he didn't care as he raced into the blistering heat; it likened the fires burning the fabric of his soul. How could Touma do this to him? He cared about the archer more than anything. Touma was the one person aside from his father that held all importance in Ryo's life. He'd give up anything to make him happy. Now this had happened.

Before he knew it he was at the lakeside cabin that Nasutei owned. It was here that he had nursed Byakuen back to health. If he hadn't already been weeping freely from what Touma had done he would have shed a tear at the memory, but there were already so many being shed for his broken heart. Slowly he moved into the cabin and locked the door behind him. Even though small amounts of golden light slipped in through the windows the mood of the room still remained as melancholy as his soul. No one was here, it was only equipped with bare essentials, a bed. The empty floors were a likeness to the throbbing void he felt within.

Without thinking he moved to the solitary bed within the small room and buried his face within the soft folds of the pillow. It was very soft; it reminded him of Touma, his silken skin on the nights when the archer drew pillow duty. The tender memory only served to invoke more tears from his already wet eyes. He wanted to curl up and die, right there. His love, his koi, his Touma, had forgotten him. He had forgotten his birthday.

Outside the cabin the sun slowly moved about its daily pattern until the dark indigo covered the sky. Even so, the cabin door never opened.

Sitting up in his bed Touma stared in wonder at the open door. Why had Ryo done that? Obviously there was something he had forgotten, but what? It hurt him to see Ryo sad like that. What hurt even more was that he didn't know how he had made him sad. Slowly he pushed himself off the bed with a melancholy sigh. Perhaps the others would know something, he hoped. Once he was downstairs both Seiji's ice violet and Shin's sea green eyes were trained on him.

Before he had a chance to react Seiji spoke, "Touma what happened up there?"

"I'm not sure," he responded, taking a seat on the couch, "Ryo came in and woke me up. He told me it was August 15th. Then he asked if I remembered what today was. I didn't know and he ran out. I don't get what's going on"

Touma" Shin's voice sounded as if it were on the verge of breaking, "August 15th is Ryo's birthday"

Shock liberally displayed itself across his face. Saline beads of water pricked the corners of his eyes.

Words escaped his throat it a cracked moan, "I forgot." Even though Seiji and Shin were at his side, attempting to offer comfort it was of little help. Touma's pale face slid into his hands as the beads formed into puddles and ran down his face.

"How...why...oh god" he mumbled into his palms.

"Shh...it'll be all right Touma. I'm sure Ryo will understand." Shin comforted him.

"Ryo!" Touma surprised them all as he stood, "Where did he go?"

Only confused looks were gained as a response.

"He ran out, we don't know where to," Seiji stated.

"Damn" his hopes of mending the mistake were shot down. There were millions of places Ryo could have gone. The woods surrounding the house were vast and not to mention incredibly easy to get lost in. If he even wanted to perform the search it would probably be better to wait for Ryo to return.

Almost as if Shin could read the muddled thoughts within Touma's head Shin spoke up, "It'd be best if you gave him some time to cool down. You know how Ryo is."

Only a small smile was invoked from the archer as he responded, "I guess you're right..." slowly the smile grew, as he looked upon the situation in the new light, "Yeah, I'll give Ryo some time to cool down. It couldn't hurt."

Slowly some time turned into hours, and days, then weeks.

Soon there were two ever-locked doors on the property, the cabin and Touma's bedroom. On rare occasions one of the two would open as the inhabitant of the room within made a trek to the kitchen for the bare minimums of food or to relieve himself. Once they had been opened simultaneously at the two dwellers had met at the bottom of the stairs. A harsh verbal spar ensured that required the efforts of Shin, Seiji, and Shu to break up. Even so it still developed beyond a simple stage as both Ryo and Touma walked away with injuries.

It baffled them all. Touma and Ryo had been the closest of lovers. They did almost everything possible together. Whenever they weren't spending time in each other's room their affection was obviously displayed through frequent public kisses and hugs. Now it seemed as if each one treated the other as some kind of vile poison that one must always stay a good deal more than an arm's length away from.

In the earlier stages of it Seiji and Shin had attempted to patch up the relationship but neither would utter a word more than a muffled "Go away." Their efforts persisted until the knocks and offers of comfort were only greeted with silence.

Within Touma's room one could only wonder at what he did. There were more than enough books in there to last him a whole lifetime but normally he read each one within a day. Also the quiet rustling of pages was never heard. At first there were muted sobs. Then as time went on, nothing. When he emerged once a week his face was pale and eyes red. It was easy to mistake him for a ghost as he walked to the kitchen in an almost mechanical fashion.

Shin had offered to bring meals to them, both of them, but they had declined his offer. Instead he worried if they were eating enough considering the sparse rations each one fetched weekly. He was resolute to help, though, and made sure that the cabinets were well stocked whenever one would leave the confines of his lair.

Of the two, Ryo was the worst. At first it had taken them days to finally realize he was in the cabin. Touma experienced a total panic attack during that time. The thought of Ryo lost or kidnapped had almost driven him over the edge, but when he found out his koi was on the property, hiding from him, he snapped. Ryo had impassively been told of this through the cabin door. His only response was a faint grunt and, "Serves him right." No one ever heard Ryo cry. Ever. The cabin was silent from the outside and the shades were always drawn. Ryo had successfully shut himself off from the world, with the exception of supply runs.

They continued on the usual schedule until one week no one saw him go. It continued the next. Seiji and Shin tried to contact Ryo within his hideout but gained no response, not even a mutter. All save Touma were wracked with worry if Ryo might have starved to death or worse. Thankfully Shu spotted him during one of his midnight snacks. Ryo had apparently shifted his schedule so that he made midnight food runs. He never saw the light of day.

According to the one account, which was defined as accurate, the once tan boy had diminished into a whiter pallor from lack of witness to the sun's rays. The raven locks hung loosely around his face like a swarming mass of ebony snakes or some odd parody of a white angelic halo. The most disturbing feature by far was his tiger blue eyes. They were once filled with a vibrant aura of energy and life. Now they sat dull as if Ryo's very life had been sapped from him, as if his soul was linked to Touma's. The separation had broken the bond, if it was there, and his soul. His once fiery spirit was now a dying flame.

Things continued like this until early October. Ryo's birthday would have been a thing of the past if not for the stunning events that took place and Touma's was fast approaching. Neither Touma nor Ryo seemed to notice this. Passing of age seemed unimportant to them considering they had locked themselves within the same day of their lives and replayed it constantly in their thoughts and dreams. Reminders of the upcoming date were dropped into both their rooms at least once every other day. Preparations had started early so as to design and extra special day for Touma, in hopes that it would bring him out of his state.

Happily content within his domain of the kitchen Shin set about to perfect the meticulous decorations he was planning for the birthday cake. Through the window the sounds of a decisive wrestling match between Shu, Jun, and Byakuen arose. Shin couldn't help but smile to himself at the joy expressed in their actions. It was a beautiful fall day out with vibrant foliage filtering the golden streams of sunlight. A content sigh would have escaped his lips if it weren't for the task at hand. The navy icing stood out with the light gray and yellow stars that he was busy painting upon it. Touma loved the heavens, almost as much as he loved Ryo. This was the closest thing to Ryo himself that they could do for Touma. If he wasn't brought out of his depression by this all was lost. At the exact instant he was about to turn from his task in sorrow the trio burst into the house laughing and smiling, all save Byakuen. Another smile spread across Shin's lips at the sight of numerous leaves wedged within their hair and fur.

"Having fun out there?" he inquired.

"Sure are," Shu replied with a grin, "Hey is that cake done yet? It looks good...you don't mind if I have a little taste...do you?"

An exasperated sigh alit on the air as Shin firmly glared at his friend, "Now Shu, this is a cake for Touma and I don't think he'd like it very much if he found that you took a taste. Why don't you go help Seiji set up the decorations?"

"There is no need for that," the person in question spoke as he entered the room, "I just finished getting the last of them up."

"Does that me we can start Touma ni-chan's party now?" Jun's eyes were hopeful at the idea of a party. That and the evident sugar rush from too much cake that would follow.

"We have to get Touma first. You all wait here. I will get him," Seiji assured the young boy as he headed for the stairs. They hadn't heard from Touma in a while but there had been reminders that it was his birthday and he'd been making his supply runs.

If all went well at the very least the archer would be able to get a bit more food inside his body. His already slim form was thinning and Shin was showing concern for his health. Usually Touma ate as much as Shu, it was a surprise that he was even surviving on such meager portions.

There was something wrong about that happening. For a moment a flicker of premonition tugged at the back of Seiji's mind. What if Touma couldn't survive on such low amounts of food? Quickly shaking it off he moved to knock on the door. To his surprise it swung open to reveal Touma's frail form resting atop his navy covers. Now that he actually had the time to look at Touma's body Seiji's worry was sparked. His limbs hung limp at his sides and even though Seiji couldn't see his face he was sure that it was filled with the despair that had built up over the past two months.

Furtively creeping so as not to wake his sleeping friend Seiji approached the bedside. Touma would probably curse at him for waking him up at such an "ungodly hour of the morning" but it was only eleven. A light tap on the shoulder proved useless so Seiji resorted to slightly more desperate measures. Usually it was necessary to dump ice water down the bearer of Tenku's shirt in order to get him out of bed in the morning. Ryo was always up to that task, though not in recent days.

After a few moments Seiji realized that his actions were gaining no response from the prone warrior. Usually Touma was grunting and groaning at them to stop by now. Something was wrong. Frantically Seiji sought out Touma's pulse and checked it. There was no beat. Nothing. His own heart beat frantically as he tried again. A small pressure was applied to the base of his finger from under Touma's skin. For a moment he wasn't even sure if it was there but it was. Touma was still alive. He had to act quickly; otherwise he wouldn't be for long.

"Shin! Call 911!"

After his voice carried down the stairs the blonde hurried moved about checking Touma's other vitals. His breath was still coming in a weak stream in and out though it was like his heart and hardly noticeable. It was best to leave him as this, though Seiji direly wanted to administer some help. Then it came to him. Korin. His yoroi would help him heal Touma. Quickly summoning the sub armor in order to amplify his power Seiji gently laid his hands upon his friend's temples. Not caring about the repercussions to himself he drained all his power into the one that dwelt on the cusp of life and death. As his vision left him Seiji's last thought was the hope that Touma would survive.

To those who had not been in the room with Seiji the next turn of events seemed a rushed blur. Shin was at the phone in an instant dialing the ambulance as Shu and Jun stood frozen in shock. Whatever had happened that would cause Seiji to think they needed an ambulance wasn't good; the thump heard on the floor upstairs wasn't much better either. It took the space of several moments before either could speak, Jun being the first.

"Shu ni-chan...Touma ni-chan's going to be okay...right?" his eyes were threatening to spill tears as he looked up to the ashen gray head.

"Yeah...he will..." quickly Shu regained himself, "Jun Touma's going to be just fine. Right now we need to you take Byakuen and go tell Ryo that Touma's in very big trouble. Tell him this is worse than when Arago got him, much worse."

This only increased the tears inside the little boy's eyes but he remained strong with his sharp nod, "Right. Come on Byakuen."

The tiger quickly obeyed and the two of them were gone through the door in an instant. Though Jun didn't quite grasp the entirety of the situation he knew that Touma ni-chan was in trouble. Ryo ni-chan had to know.

"Come on Byakuen you've got to go faster! We've got to tell Ryo ni-chan!"

The tiger was obedient to a word and quickly the two of them were at the cabin. However, instead of slowing upon his approach the white tiger increased his speed, running straight at one of the curtained windows in the cabin. Taking note of the tiger's plan the young boy quickly buried his head in the fur and held on as the beast burst through in a flurry of shattered glass and wood.

Ryo's head snapped up in an instant as he looked with question at the young boy and tiger, "Jun? Byakuen? What are you doing here?"

"Ryo ni-chan!" the little boy all but screamed, "You've got to hurry! Touma ni-chan's in trouble!"

"Touma..." he almost slipped into fantasies of the distant past when they were lovers but wouldn't allow himself to do so, "I don't care about him."

"But Ryo ni-chan!" tears were streaming from the young boy's eyes, "Shu ni-chan said that it's worse than Arago! Arago almost killed Touma ni-chan! Ryo ni-chan you've gotta help him! Touma ni-chan he might...he..."

That struck his heart. Granted he wasn't exactly happy with Touma but death? That was too far. It'd only been started over a forgotten birthday. There was no need to take a life for something so petty. Why had he even done this? If he hadn't thrown such a fit when Touma forgot then he wouldn't be...

Quickly Ryo cut himself off. Now was not the time for self blame. He had to get to Touma, had to tell him the truth. Touma was his one love, his only love, the only one whom he loved with all his heart and soul. Leaving Jun behind in the cabin he started running. As he dashed through the trees and bushes a spark of life flickered behind his tiger blue eyes. His soul was restored.

The ambulance arrived quickly and rushed both Seiji and Touma off to the hospital. As soon as Jun and Byakuen returned to the house Ryo, Shin, and Shu hustled them into the car and sped off after the flashing lights. By the time they reached the hospital Touma had already been rushed into the emergency room. He was malnourished and suffering from possible cardiac arrest.

Ryo was quick to finding which room he was in and soon went about to pacing in the waiting room, praying to every deity he knew that Touma would be all right. Shu and Shin joined him after affirming that Seiji had regained consciousness and would be out soon, though Ryo didn't notice when they entered.

His eyes were locked on the door that remained shut. No one could interrupt his vigil as he stood poised and ready to assail any doctor or nurse that exited for specs on Touma's condition. This constant watch continued for at least an hour until a slight woman exited and was immediately confronted by Ryo. His fierce interrogation continued only for the space of a few moments then he left her to do her business.

Touma was alive. Those few words sparked his hopes like no one could have seen possible. Yet the rest of it wasn't as joyous. He had recovered from the malnutrition and the cardiac arrest but he was in a coma, a deep one at that. The doctors had surveyed his brain waves and the results weren't dismal yet weren't promising.

Ryo took it the optimistic way however, hoping that Touma would recover in a matter of days. Though once their friend was moved to his room Ryo's mood changed. Touma's face was pale and thin, along with the rest of his body. It was unquestionable that Ryo would get the seat near his bed as they all waited for some sign of recovery.


He could hear the voice; it was all around him.

"I know you can't hear me."

It was Ryo. Ryo? But he hadn't seen Ryo in...how long? It had slipped past his memory. Gods he missed him. His voice was everyone, yet he couldn't see him. He wanted to see him. Wanted to hold him. Something came back to him though; Ryo had pushed him away. Because he had forgotten a simple date Ryo had abandoned him for months. Why now? Why had Ryo come back? What had happened before he was here? How come he couldn't remember?

"The doctors say you're in a coma."

A coma. That would explain it. Probably malnutrition. He hadn't been eating enough. So he'd fainted, wound up in coma. Why was Ryo here? Why was Ryo caring?

"Touma I made a big mistake earlier…it just took all this to make me realize it."

No shit. How come this long? Why did Ryo have to wait until he was practically dead to realize what he'd done? He'd gone through those weeks thinking he didn't have a love in the world, that there was no one to fill the gaping void in his soul. It took his near death to make Ryo realize what Touma had known from the start.

"I just wanted to say I'm sorry. And I love you."

So that was it? Ryo really did love him. He really did. Everyone made mistakes; it was human error. Touma's koi had finally realized his. Elation filled Touma's mind. It was true Ryo loved him. If he were in his body he would grin. He had to get back, had to find some way to recover so he could tell Ryo he loved him too, but how?

Frantically he scanned the area around him. It was a bluish void of some type, generated by his mind no doubt. There had to be a way out. Almost on command two lights appeared to either side of him causing a mental frown. Why two? He just wanted to get back to Ryo, there was only one way there. Then it hit him. Life or death, that was the choice. Each light seemed equally warm, equally inviting. The challenge was to determine which one held Ryo's distinct aura.

Touma closed his eyes in calm determination. This choice was the choice that mattered. It was all that mattered. As he stepped forward into the light Ryo looked up to watch the flat monotonous movement of the monitor.