How to Lose Your Ears in Ten Days
For Rahzel, for everything you've done for me and being a sweetheart about it.
Ritsuka had recently developed the annoying habit of chewing on his pencil. It had started sometime during the beginning of his tenth year of school that he had noticed that he had picked up the habit. The taste of treated wood filled his mouth for weeks and he was beginning to get splinters from writing out his assignments before he switched to pens.
Pens were so much nicer. They didn't have that bitter taste, didn't give him the feeling that he had been gnawing on cheap, press-board furniture all day. They didn't develop that rough, pockmarked surface before slowly starting to splinter between his teeth. Pens were smooth and plastic, something that he could chew on that was a bit tougher than the pencils. He could gnaw on them until they were crooked and deformed, their sharp angles pricking against his tongue, their ink ejaculating into his mouth.
It was a habit he had to break.
Ritsuka stared at the innocent little pen, nestled so comfortably in the groove of his hardwood desk that was covered with nicks and scratches from years and years of use. Graffiti was scribbled and scratched into the surface of the varnished wood, proclamations of love and hate throughout the years as well as the affirmation of one's existence with the occasional 'So and so was here.' In one corner the name 'Soubi' was scratched into the wood in cursive English, with a heart instead of a dot over the 'i'. He was annoyed with himself. Philosophy was his favorite class of the day and he couldn't even pay attention to it.
He picked up his pen and started to chew. At least then he could think.
Slowly, one by one, the kids in his classes had begun to come to school without their ears. He could remember the first one who he had seen in eighth grade, a little red-faced girl who came to school with her eyes downcast and wouldn't look at anybody the whole day. Ritsuka had noticed that she wouldn't speak to anybody but her closest friends in muted whispers and giggles.
After that, when he had entered high school, the numbers had increased. It seemed that practically every week one or two newly de-eared students would arrive at school. Some would come to school with their eyes downcast and blushes on their cheeks while others would hold their head high and proud, not afraid to announce to the world that they had become an adult. At this point, now in eleventh grade, about half of the students were adults.
The last straw for Ritsuka, though, had been when Yayoi and Yuiko had come in a couple days ago without their ears. Yuiko had been as vapid and bubbly as ever, talking to everybody loudly and laughing at everyone's jokes. Yayoi, on the other hand, had been quiet and reserved the whole day, watching her from afar and wishing that he could join in her jubilance, but his sense of propriety preventing him from it.
Yuiko had no sense of propriety at all, Ritsuka thought.
No one ever said anything, of course, when a student lost their ears. The teacher would go on as if nothing had happened, and the students were forced to tear their eyes away to pay attention to the lesson. Anyone caught staring too long would be sent out in the hall. After a couple days, the air would clear of the unspoken buzz and life would resume to normal until the next adult came to class.
Ritsuka's ears twitched. He shouldn't let it bother him, he knew that. After all, Seimei had been seventeen when he had died, and he had still had his ears. In retrospection, knowing Soubi, it was a miracle that Seimei even still had his ears.
Ritsuka tried not to allow his thoughts to go in that direction. He didn't like to think about what kind of relationship Seimei and Soubi had had. Soubi never did say much about it, or offer any details, unless Ritsuka asked. Ritsuka was too afraid of the answers to ask the right questions. His stomach churned when he thought about Soubi wrapping his arms around his older brother much like he did to him on occasion.
Of course, those occasions were becoming increasingly rare. It seemed as Ritsuka got older, Soubi pressed him less and less for physical contact. It had been a relief, for a while, that Ritsuka didn't have to deal with the physical aspects of his and Soubi's relationship. He knew he wasn't ready, but Soubi had seemed to enjoy pressing him just hard enough to make him question his readiness. It didn't really take much, just a few stolen kisses or short snogging sessions could take his breath away and cause tremors to go through his young body.
But things had changed. Soubi had seemed to back off a bit with each passing year. They still spent a lot of time together, they still went on dates and outings with their friends, there was still a romantic mood about them. They were a couple, and everyone knew it, including themselves. They had been ever since they first met and went to the park to take all those photos. Sure, they had had a tumultuous relationship for that first year or so, an on-again-off-again love affair on Ritsuka's part mostly, but they had always and consistently been together.
What was missing was passion. It seemed that Soubi had lost the desire to be with him like that. With the exception of holding hands occasionally and chaste kisses, they hadn't made any progress with each other. He still treated Ritsuka as if he was twelve, if he hadn't treated him better when he was that age. What could have made the man slack off so much?
Maybe it was because he was getting older. Perhaps Soubi really was a pedophile and Ritsuka was just getting too old for him. Perhaps soon he would go and find someone younger.
No, that couldn't be it either. Seimei was the same age as Ritsuka when he died, after all.
Ritsuka snapped to attention and he realized that the teacher was calling on him. He rose up out of his seat quickly, a natural reaction, really, and his chair balanced precariously on its hind legs. He reached back quickly to steady it before it fell over, keeping his eyes on the teacher the whole time. He took the pen out of his mouth.
He paused dramatically for a moment before asking "Can you rephrase the question, please?"
Oh yes, he had been paying attention the entire time.
Fujimori-sensei, his philosophy teacher, smiled. "Based on your readings from last night, how did Kantian philosophy reconcile sense experience and rationality?"
Ritsuka paused again, acting like he was collecting his thoughts before speaking. He didn't want everyone to know he hadn't been listening at all. He could taste ink in his mouth so he wiped his lips with the back of his hand. It would be so embarrassing to have black ink dribbling from his mouth.
"Kant amended Hume's treatise by saying that space and time are prerequisites for understanding sense experiences and that they are faculties of our perception and understanding. He said that causation is 'synthetic apriori,' a causation of our understanding. He called this transcendental deduction, that we need both empiricism and rationality."
Fujimori-sensei looked taken aback. "What a very thorough response, Ritsuka."
Ritsuka took his seat. He knew Immanuel Kant like the back of his hand and he hadn't even bothered to do the reading last night. He didn't know why Fujimori-sensei was surprised that he answered the question, he knew he was good at this stuff, that's why he always seemed to call on him when employing his Socratic-method of teaching. Maybe the teacher had realized that he hadn't been paying attention after all.
Yes, the annoying pen habit had to stop. He also had to stop agonizing over Soubi so much. Maybe Soubi really had given up on him. That couldn't be it, he knew, because their relationship was so good in so many other ways.
He knew, fundamentally, about the triarchtic theory of relationships. You had to have intimacy, passion, and commitment. They had intimacy, they even had commitment. That word, passion, is what his mind kept returning to. They didn't have passion and he still had his ears and his tail to show for it.
Soubi didn't have his ears. He had been an adult for the entire time that Ritsuka had known him. Soubi still, to this day, never talked about it. Ritsuka just tried not to think about it, just like he tried not to think about Soubi and Seimei being together.
He wondered if there was a way to surpass both Seimei and the person who took Soubi's ears. He wanted to, he wanted to be the most important person in Soubi's life now and forever.
He looked around his classroom at all the earless heads, and his own ears twitched in annoyance.
The bell rang to signal the end of the day, and Ritsuka gathered his stuff together. The pen he had been chewing on was little more than twisted plastic now, and he threw it away in the trashcan on the way out the door.
Soubi had gotten into the habit of waiting for him everyday after school. Even though Ritsuka was now attending high school with a much larger number of students, he could still find Soubi waiting outside the school gate, smoking a cigarette and just generally looking cool in his candy-pastels and jewel-toned eccentric wardrobe– just like the first time they had met.
Ritsuka rushed outside and practically ran through the crowd of departing students, haphazardly wrapping a scarf around his neck and trying to get his other arm into his jacket at the same time. He skidded to a halt just outside of the gate, and his messenger bag heavy with books knocked against his hip.
Soubi took a long drag on his cigarette and glanced over at Ritsuka. The younger man was looking a little disheveled, a little out of breath and flushed, so he couldn't help but smile. So cute. He released the smoke out through his curled lips.
"Ritsukaaaa-kun!" Yuiko yelled as she hurried across the front lawn. She launched herself at him, and he barely managed to side step so that she landed on nothing but thin air.
"O-Oi!" Ritsuka yelled, slightly annoyed by her trying to glomp onto him like that in front of Soubi.
"Hey, Soubi-san!" Yuiko greeted him, bouncing up with her usual cheerfulness.
While Yuiko had been taller than everyone else at the age of twelve, she hadn't grown an inch since then. Even Ritsuka and Yayoi managed to pass her up in terms of height. No one though in their class had passed her in terms of her assets. She still floated through the world totally unaware of her buxom body, and she still had those annoying pigtails that made her look so young. She had barely changed in the years that Ritsuka had known her.
"Did you have a good day at school, Yuiko-san?" Soubi asked, reaching out his hand and patting her on the head. "Oh. There's something different up here…"
"You're not supposed to mention that!" Ritsuka exploded at him, stalking forward and grabbing the cigarette out of his hand, stomping it into the pavement until the red embers faded to black. "Do you have to be so vulgar all the time? And I thought you're supposed to quit smoking!"
Soubi smiled his patient smile and ruffled Ritsuka's hair. "I am quitting."
"You're still smoking!"
"It takes time."
Yayoi finally caught up to the group. He doubled over, out of breath. "Yuiko-san! You didn't even wait for me!"
"That's because Soubi-san is here to pick Ritsuka-kun up and I didn't want to miss seeing him," she said, looping her arm through Soubi's.
"Yuiko-saaan!" Yayoi whined, tears welling up in his eyes. While he had also grown taller and was beginning to look older, he still acted like a kid sometimes. He pulled his hair back in a low ponytail now, and that helped him look more mature at least.
"Soubi?" Ritsuka looped his arm through Soubi's other one. Soubi was wearing the plum fur trimmed suede coat that Ritsuka secretly loved him in. He liked the feel of the fabric under his hands. "Do you have to work today?"
He nodded. "I just came to pick you up during my lunch break. I have to go back after I walk you home."
Ritsuka frowned. He had been hoping that Soubi would be off today.
"Well, we don't want you to be late!" Yuiko announced, veering Soubi down the sidewalk. Since Ritsuka's arm was still linked with Soubi's, he was pulled along too. "Let's go, Yayoi!"
Yayoi trailed behind the group, looking a little put-out.
Yuiko chatted everyone's ears off during the walk home, telling them all about her day and the newest mishap that she had in her Home Ec class. Soubi, as usual, was very polite and interested in her candy conversation while Ritsuka and Yayoi listened to them talk in silence. They both felt like they were outsiders at times like this since they really didn't have anything to say to contribute to the inane conversation.
"Aw, already?" Yuiko whined when they reached the corner where they'd have to split up to go each their separate ways.
"Afraid so," Soubi told her, slipping out of her grasp and navigating Ritsuka in the direction of his house. "We'll see you tomorrow, Yuiko-san."
Yuiko waved at them, her breasts swinging with each movement. "Bye Soubi-san! Bye Ritsuka-kun!"
"Bye," Ritsuka yelled back over his shoulder. He saw Yuiko grab Yayoi's arm and drag him down the other road, out of sight.
He turned back to Soubi and glanced up at him. Their arms were still comfortably interlinked. He had grown taller, but still wasn't as tall as Soubi. The top of his head reached past the older man's shoulders, and his hair had grown out a little bit longer to brush against his collarbones. When he worked on his computer, he liked to pull it back out of his eyes into a ponytail at the back of his head like Soubi.
"You're always so nice to Yuiko," Ritsuka said, his eyes never leaving the pavement. It's not like he was jealous or anything like that.
"She's a nice girl, and very innocent," Soubi replied. "Er, was very innocent."
Ritsuka's head snapped up, but instead of getting mad he only blushed.
Soubi pretended not to notice. "Yayoi is missing them too," he began conversationally. "Same day?"
Ritsuka nodded, his mind returning to his thoughts earlier that day.
The rest of the walk home passed in silence, each man in their own little world, with their own thoughts to keep them company. Soubi stopped at the front gate, he never liked to walk Ritsuka up to the door. Ritsuka thought it was probably because he was either afraid of his mother, or afraid of what he would do to her if he saw her. Ritsuka was sporting a gauze bandage on his upper arm that Soubi still didn't know about.
"Can you come over later tonight?" Ritsuka asked when they got ready to say goodbye.
"I have my late class to teach tonight, so I won't get done until around eleven," Soubi explained apologetically. "I really shouldn't."
"I understand," Ritsuka told him. "Tomorrow night then?"
"Sounds good," Soubi leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead.
When he turned to leave, Ritsuka reached out and grabbed his hand. Soubi turned back around, raising an eyebrow. "What is it?"
Ritsuka fought the urge to look sheepish. "Another kiss?"
Soubi pulled him close with a hard yank of his arm and planted a searing kiss on his forehead. Ritsuka fisted his hands in the fur of Soubi's coat, half out of frustration and half out of swooning. He realized that he wasn't going to get much more than that unless he took some action.
When Soubi released him, Ritsuka kept his hold on the fur of the coat. He looked up at Soubi. They were so close. He raised onto his tip toes and pressed his lips firmly against his, using his mouth to coax open Soubi's and slide his tongue delicately into the other man's mouth.
Soubi jumped back as if he was bitten by a snake, it had surprised him so much he couldn't help his reaction. He stared at the younger boy, his fingers hovering a few breaths away from his lips.
Ritsuka's heart thudded painfully. He hadn't expected him to have such a volatile reaction to his advances. He forced himself to smile, though, playfully and flirtatiously before turning around and walking up to his front door, leaving Soubi to stare after him as he left.
After a performance like that, what could he possibly say?
Author's Note: This story takes place five years after the end of the Loveless TV series. I have only read the first two volumes of the manga as of writing this, so I really don't know if it contradicts the manga's ending or not. It is my understanding that the manga hasn't ended yet, but will soon. If it coincides with the end, then great, if it doesn't, consider it an AU .
Also, I have never seen "How to Loose a Guy in Ten Days" and would rather pluck my eye out with a spork than see it. It served as a good title for my purposes, and nothing more.