Title: How Things Were Done

Author: Eeevee

Genre: General

Rating: K --- wait O.o;; K?

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Challenge fic: Song: "Mad Season" by Matchbox 20. Rules: None. Random selection by my playlist #3 of 5. Pairing: HaruxRin, slight HaruxYuki. Lyrics posted at the end.

"Stupid, stupid ox." Akito jeered, apparently amused by his little chant. He peered up from beneath ebony bangs and whispered, "But you're MY stupid ox. Surely even you can remember that."

Haru's blunt nails dug roughly into his palms and he bit his lip. Rage quivered within him as Akito decided to drag him through a sensitive issue. His knuckles were bone white from the abuse, but he held his temper. He wouldn't dare do anything less.

He wouldn't dare turn Black.

Hatori gently tapped him on the shoulder making him realize he had been entertaining no one. If the person didn't react, then Akito lost interest quickly. It didn't matter; he would find some one else to torment. And then Haru would be safe… for the moment.

Shuffling out the doors, he couldn't stand it anymore. He had to get out of the gated hell he called his family. Usually, Momiji would spot and accompany him, but today the hyper teen was nowhere to be seen.

That suited Haru just find.

He didn't want to answer any awkward questions.

The walk was a familiar one. He would never get lost on this route; it was simply too well traveled. Even more so than even the one to Shigure's house or the one to school. Not that either were anything too important, yet they were. Those were places he saw Yuki. Yuki, who accepted him for who he was. Yuki, who never called him stupid or hopeless. Yuki, who seemed to understand how broken he was at times.

Yet there was someone who he loved even more than Yuki. Both were childhood friends, but it wasn't the same.

Shuffling his sneakers, he paused to tuck his hands deeper in his jacket's pockets and rub his chin against the chains around his neck. The metal was cold from the air but oddly reassuring too. Ruffling his two-toned hair, he stared upwards.

It would be a waste of time and anger to go in. The nurses had notes on her profile to specifically keep him out. The ox didn't claim to understand it. He wasn't even sure if he believed how her "accident" happened. These weren't suspicions he said out loud, even to Yuki. That was very dangerous ground to be treading, and he wasn't sure he was ready to take that risk.

It had been building for a while now. He felt this need to question things. Why were they the way they were? Why was he doomed to be labeled stupid and slow simply because he was born as the ox? What if he had been born as the rat? Would he have had to go through what Yuki did? Would he have become Akito's temporary pet and go half-insane with fear? He wasn't sure he would have been nearly as obedient as Yuki, especially as a child, although, his Black side seemed to be even more out of control the older he got.

What if he had been born the cat? Kyo was an okay guy in Haru's eyes. He was obnoxious sometimes and very loud, but was that any reason to lock him up for the rest of his life? Dooming him to a dreary solitude, just when he had started learning to live.

Haru wondered how Yuki would take that. The rat didn't hate the cat nearly as much as he pretended. He also wondered how the girl would take it. It was a miracle Akito hadn't taken back his bit of whimsy in allowing her to retain her memories. But if Kyo was locked up… that might change. She wouldn't understand that Kyo was the Cat and that was how things were done.

How things were done.

Not a lot of those things being done made sense to him. Parents shunning and ignoring their children… that wasn't how it was supposed to be. Being allowed to run as far as your leash's end, yet always being tugged back. There was no escape, only temporary retreats. Even Shigure and Ayame had to come back from their escapes when the master tugged on the leash. The Dog always came like the loyal animal he was, with his tail wagging. Part of the ox found it revolting.

Blinking slowly, he realized he must have been standing out in the cold for awhile. The tips of his ears and nose were probably cherry red from exposure and while the sun sank down he could lightly see his breath puff.

Yes, things were so obviously wrong with the world, yet, he felt he couldn't lift a finger. Somehow, some way, her pain was his fault. He couldn't understand why she blamed him, shunned him, but he thought he might be starting to get it now. It wasn't going to be said in words why she, her accident, made her push him away.

The hairs on the back of his neck prickled. He craned his head upward to see Rin staring down at him with dark eyes. Her hair dangled into her face. Instead of staring boldly, challengingly when he looked up, she glanced away coldly. As if ignoring him would make him go away.

He gave a half wave and she disappeared back into her room.

He wasn't sure he could do this alone. Rin had become his driving force. Without that he was lost and hopeless, completely undone.

He needed her. He wasn't sure he would ever be unbroken, but she seemed to make him whole.

But in the end all he could do was stand around. Stand around and do nothing, letting his inner strength and conviction rot away beneath him, leaving him stranded. If he were a man, he'd do something about it.

Instead, he gave a sad smile and walked away.

A/N: Meep ;.; I feel like I didn't do the lyrics and the characters justice. But at least I broke 3 pages, if barely. Forgive the lack of honorifics, any OOCness, and if I messed something else up. My first FB fic. I watched the anime and read the English tokyopop manga, but it's been awhile. Rin's hospital stay was construed from spoilers, so again, if I screwed anything up…

Beta's comment: It seems fine to me…Although you're the one that knows more about FB than me. The ending was perfect ;) Poor guy …

DragonLady626 I guess I'm not much for traditional-ness. You didn't make a fool out of yourself; I'm just an oddball. It was more "inspired" although I think I used most of the lyrics in the story.

As requested, the lyrics:

I feel stupid - but I know it won't last for long
I've been guessing - and I coulda been guessin' wrong
You don't know me now
I kinda thought that you should somehow
Does that whole mad season got ya down?

I feel stupid, but it's something that comes and goes
I've been changin' - I think it's funny how now one knows
We don't talk about the little things that we do without
When that whole mad season comes around

So why you gotta stand there
Looking like the answer now?
It seems to me you'd come around
I need you now
Do you think you can cope?
You figured me out - that I'm lost and I'm hopeless
I'm bleeding and broken, though I've never spoken
I come undone in this mad season

I feel stupid, but I think I been catchin' on
I feel ugly, but I know I still turn you on
You've grown colder now, torn apart, angry, turned around
Will that whole mad season knock you down?

So are you gonna stand there
Are you gonna help me out?
We need to be together now
I need you now
Do you think you can cope?
You figured me out - that I'm lost and I'm hopeless
I'm bleeding and broken, though I've never spoken
I come undone in this mad season

And now I'm cryin'
Isn't that what you want?
I'm tryin' to live my life on my own
But I won't, no,
At times I do believe I am strong
So someone tell me why, why, why
Do I, I, I feel stupid
And I come undone
And I come undone

I need you now
Do you think you can cope?
You figured me out - that I'm lost and I'm hopeless
I'm bleeding and broken though I've never spoken

I need you now
Do you think you can cope?
You figured me out - I'm a child and I'm hopeless
I'm bleeding and broken though I've never spoken
I come undone in this mad season

In this mad season
There's been a mad season
Been a mad season