Soubi's leg is probably broken and, if not, very close to being broken. He also lost his glasses in the explosion the other team had caused so everything is kind of blurry. He thinks he might have to call Kio for help to get home.

He doesn't mind. Seimei is actually looking pleased from the results and he gives him a smile, even takes out his handkerchief and cleans of a cut he had carelessly gotten.

"Good job, Soubi." Seimei says and there is no pain at all because his Sacrifice is looking at him as if he was truly, really proud. He bows his head, wisps of hair hanging over his shoulders.

"Thank you, Beloved."

Seimei opens his mouth and Soubi's soul clings to the hope of getting another praise. Seimei always keeps a tight control of his words and he always knows just which word is needed, how to cut and how to tie just with the tiniest infliction of his baritone. He waits but Seimei is interrupted before he even starts.

"Seimei!" And Soubi remembers that he had been allowed to walk Seimei over his younger brother's school to pick the kid up but that he had been told to stay a block away, but then the other team had appeared and the battle began. "Why are you here?"

"I came to pick you up." Seimei says easily since it is the truth, and his voice is warmer than anything Soubi has ever heard and - he knows the Sacrifice has pretty much forgotten his presence there. "Would you prefer I didn't?"

The young boy laughs, holding unto Seimei's arm. Soubi squints, trying to get a clearer picture but all he can truly pick on is amethyst over a pale face and a tail swishing enthusiastically.

"Of course I don't! Seimei, can we go and get some ice cream?"

"It'll spoil your appetite."

"Awww." He can hear the kid's pout and Soubi straightens, tells himself that he ought to move as to call Kio but he can barely start doing so when he feels the boy's eyes over him. "Seimei? Is he your friend?"

He doesn't turn to look, just catches the somewhat blurry tall form of Seimei and his younger brother from the corner of his eye; notices the way Seimei's hand rests over dark hair and tousles it.

"No. He's no one important. Let's go home. What do you have for homework?"

Even myopia isn't enough to hide the fact that the look he received pales in comparison to the one that small kid is getting.


After Seimei's death, their mother is extremely adamant about not giving any of his things away, not even his clothes. For once, Ritsuka agrees, even if he doesn't say it. His father makes a good case: there are people who needs them more and Ritsuka won't be able to use it in years; but saying 'Ritsuka' just causes his mother to go into another fit, shrilling that the boy there 'is not Ritsuka, not Ritsuka, where is my Ritsuka, I want my sons!' and, after three or four repetitions of this, his father just stops trying. He pretty much stops talking.

Ritsuka is glad but, even then, he picks up some of Seimei's clothes (Seimei's second favorite sweater since the first one disappeared, a pair of pajamas, a couple of shirts) and hides them in his room, takes the shirt and lays it over his pillow at night and curls around it and it's the only way he gets any sleep, if he fools himself into believing that Seimei is right there by his side, warm and strong and breathing and alive.

Soon after that, he redoubles his efforts of taking pictures of everything with Seimei's camera; photographing everything he doesn't want to forget. People, he has come to understand, won't stay even if they say they will.

It's easier to collect memories and call them his own if he has the paper prints mounting over his bed, taking some of the empty space away. It almost makes him believe he is human enough.


Soubi never gets enough of watching Ritsuka sleep. Sometimes he is sure he might stay awake all night just to watch the way Ritsuka's hand curl near his face, how his ears flicker a bit at the tiniest of noises and his tail kind of brushes his side.

He never does stay awake all night. Kio, after making the obligatory 'Pervert-With-A-Jailbait-Boyfriend' comment, says that it's because he couldn't be lazier if he pulled over thirty pounds and started wearing sweat pants.

Soubi ponders on this one of those nights that are becoming more frequent in which Ritsuka stays over his house; half reading a book and half taking notice of how the teenager isn't as shy as before of walking with only his pajama bottoms as he dries his hair, picking up one of his shirts to put over flannel pajama pants.

"Soubi?" He asks, opening the bed and turning to look at him. Soubi pretends he has just stopped the reading of his book to look at the boy; the Fighter's pleasantly surprised to find the fine dusting of a blush over his face. "Are you going to sleep?"

He bites off the 'Is that an order?' to instead smile, nodding. "Of course."

It doesn't take Soubi much to get ready for bed and, when he does, Ritsuka has turned off all the lights except the one besides the bed and he's facing the wall. Soubi pads his way to the bed, turns off the light and slips under the sheets and immediately turns to his side, letting an arm go around Ritsuka, pulling him close until his back is against his chest.

"Good night, Ritsuka." Soubi says softly, contenting himself to kiss Ritsuka's neck and feel his shiver run through his body completely. "I love you."

"Stupid." Ritsuka mutters softly and it's almost an endearment before rolling over to also have his arm around Soubi's waist.

Soubi smiles and closes his eyes, taking a deep breath of the scent of his shampoo over Ritsuka's hair. He guesses he can always try to think if he's lazy or not in the morning.


"I don't like watermelon."

Soubi smiles the amused-smile-that-it's-not-really-amused when he rejects his offer and he can feel his ears flattening over his hair and the boy turns down to look at his homework as if trigonometry had the answers as to how to deal with your friend/boyfriend/Fighter/whatever-the-hell-Soubi-was worrying about you and your amnesia.

Ritsuka knows that Soubi's used to Ritsuka saying this and giving no further explanation, even if sometimes he had been curious to taste many of the rejected things. Seimei had told him that he didn't like it and that was enough for him.

Soubi picks up another piece of watermelon from the plate with his long fingers, biting half of it and Ritsuka watches a drop of water hang on the corner of Soubi's lips and he has to busy himself with the proper functions of angles and triangles to stop himself from feeling envy of a drop of water.

"Want to try it now?" Soubi asks, offering the half bitten piece that's still between his fingers, a drop rolling over them and down the back of his hand and Ritsuka watches how Soubi gets his hand close to his mouth to lick the drop off. "Maybe your taste has changed."

It's kind of weird, having free will. Ritsuka sometimes tries to think about this, usually when he's watching Soubi and pretending not to be doing that. It is weird because he thinks that every human being should be able to have it, certainly says it (and every variation of 'say' – scream, sigh, shrill…) enough so that no one has doubts that he believes it and yet…

And yet, at times, he thinks that he might be a mirror of Soubi, waiting for orders so that he actually exist. He looks from the corner of his homework to Soubi's offered hand and bites his lip because even if he ends up liking it, he'd just have to avoid eating it at home, right?

"… I guess…" he says, cat ears a little flared back and tail unmoving as he accepts the piece of watermelon, chewing the soft-yet-not texture while sugary flavor coats his tongue.

Soubi smiles, using his thumb to brush over his lower lip and then he licks said thumb, making him blush.


"Did you like it?" the painter asks with a warm smile and Ritsuka feels the same kind of nervous-giddy-happy turning of his stomach that he actually kind of hates. He turns to look to his homework again, tip of his ears human ears red as his tail swishes nervously.

"It's not bad." He offers, reaching up to take another piece, letting it dangling from his fingers as he tries correcting the equation he did. Soubi then takes the chance to take the watermelon from his fingers, licking his finger and Ritsuka's 'Soubi!' is a mix of annoyance, embarrassment and gratefulness.


And there was the time where Ritsuka was just sad. Unbelievably, unbearably sad, as if thousands of memories that he didn't know where hitting him over and over so hard that he couldn't see them, couldn't grasp them but they were choking him up, didn't let him see straight, even if he wasn't particularly hurt right then, or anything. He was just sad.

Warm April night that turned cold, turned rainy, crushing blossoms with its weight and force impact and he was choking and then he was in front of Soubi's apartment without the tiniest idea of how he had gotten there and his cellphone hadn't stopped ringing for a while and Soubi was right there in front of him and Ritsuka felt ashamed, so ashamed of being there and feeling up like crying when there was nothing to cry, no reason at all.

He was just sad.

"Soubi, I'm…" he tried to laugh it off, tried to pretend that he was shaking because of the cold, tried to ignore everything but Soubi just hugged him then. He ignored his attempts to getting free, his protests about being wet, about soaking his clothes and just got him inside and to the warmth and he never let go for more than an instant, there taking off his clothes, giving him one of the sweaters he had left there once and some sweats that were to big, drying off his hair, kneeling in front of him and not asking questions as if it was okay that he was there, so sad and wet and lost and it wasn't okay because he shouldn't be, couldn't be.

And then Soubi hugged him close, kind of crushing him against his chest and there was the sadness again, that thick feeling and Ritsuka closed his eyes against Soubi's chest, felt himself sliding off the bed and tried to hold on unto whatever sanity that was left for him.

"It's okay." Soubi said in a soft whisper and Ritsuka kind of tumbled, ending up against Soubi's thigh and his hands curled even more over the denim of Soubi's jeans, he curled closer to the warmth, to Soubi, everything. "It's okay, Ritsuka."

And despite everything, Ritsuka kind of believed him then.


Ritsuka's arm is broken. Ritsuka laughs it off to Yuiko, Yayoi and Shinonome-sensei, who never really grew out of her students or most of her students her and they still visited her on occasions when Junior High School wasn't too demanding. He had been sleepy and thus ditzy and really, it had been a little dark; he slipped over the stairs and landed on his arm, no big deal.

Soubi's fairly certain that no one in the group that visited Ritsuka in the hospital believed him. Yuiko starts saying as much before Yayoi cuts the teenager off, asking loudly if Aoyaki-kun would like him to copy down their homework and bring him some of it or maybe directly talking to the teachers so he doesn't have to worry about writing? Ritsuka had seemed so grateful for that interruption.

He of course doesn't believe him. It's only because Ritsuka forbid him (really forbid him, desperate and scared, his good hand clinging to his wrist, and Soubi thinks that more than an order it might have been begging, and how much did he hate having to think of only one of Ritsuka's arm being healthy?) that he doesn't go to his house and break that woman the same way she has been breaking her son for years. Instead he slips back in the hospital at night, way after the visits are over, and gets inside Ritsuka's room, sees him sleeping and slowly, carefully, gets on the bed and moves to hold the boy's body in his arm, giving a soft smile when Ritsuka sighs in his dreams and cuddles closer, cast over Soubi's stomach.

The next day, it's strangely comforting to hear Kio rant and plot cruel and impossible deaths for Mrs. Aoyagi, and admit that he's particularly fond of the one that involves canvas.


There is something truly beautiful about the way Soubi's naked back curves when he wakes up, quiet, pale sun weaving his hair and back with gold.

Ritsuka watches quietly, hand curled by the side of his face, the other one still resting on the warmth that Soubi just vacated, watching the muscles twitch and tense as Soubi stretches and the hair moving against his shoulder blades. One day, he vows to himself, he's going to be able to take a picture of that even if he has to stay awake all night to do so. Not then, he thinks. He reaches to touch Soubi's hair, kind of expecting it to melt over his fingers, and he's a little amused when that surprises Soubi, and that he turns to see him.

Ritsuka extends both arms towards him as if he was a child waiting for a hug and Soubi's eyes are warmer than any summer sky he has ever seen while he leans towards him and then Soubi is kissing him, and morning breath be damned, he's kissing back, feeling Soubi lay down besides him, hand over his hip and his arm firm around his shoulder.

It's Ritsuka who rolls them over, knees against each side of Soubi's hips and he leans forward, fingers moving to unwrap the bandages around Soubi's neck as he starts to rock against Soubi's body, kissing where the pulse beats and feeling Soubi's fingers underneath the elastic of his sweats, holding unto his hips.

And soon, after rocking like this together, there's a Ritsuka against his ear that is part sigh and part moan and then he's closing his eyes too, clinging to Soubi, letting out a soft 'Soubi' as everything turns white.

When the world returns to his axis, he's still on top of Soubi even if he can feel they're both clean and he'd bother to try and make some sense of everything but Soubi's tracing his back inside of the shirt and Ritsuka almost smiles when he feels Soubi making butterfly wings over his back.

He snuggles closer, knees still at each side of Soubi's hips and he feels Soubi kissing his hair, cat ears twitching contently.

"Good morning." Soubi says in a soft whisper and Ritsuka really doesn't want it to be morning yet because if it is he'd have to move from his very comfy Soubi-bed and that's a no.

"Not yet." He says, nuzzling against Soubi's neck, taking a deep breath and smiling a bit, just craning his neck to look up to the artist.

"… what Ritsuka wants." Soubi says calmly and his hands continue rubbing over his back, such a warm look over his eyes that Ritsuka blushes all over and has to bite his lip to refrain from saying an 'idiot'.

He's pretty sure that never before he has gotten such a look and, if he has, he can't remember when or why.