Just because you love someone doesn't mean you have to be involved with them. Love is not a bandage to cover wounds. -Hugh Elliott,
She lets the dishes pile up. She purposefully uses as many pots as possible, and then nonchalantly mentions how the dishes need to be done. He considers suicide every time.

He never does the dishes right when she tells him to. He smiles and hurriedly thinks up an excuse to leave the house. It's never the truth, not even after Soubi has come into his life. Lies: he always ends up walking around the park, thinking about this and that.

She's attacked him. Everything in the house is a weapon to her. The dishes hurt the worst. First she breaks them on him, and then she uses the shards. The first time, he'd come away with pieces of porcelain embedded into his feet.

Seimei had been angry, because he hadn't been there. Their mother had shown no signs. It had seemed so innocent when she asked Ritsuka to do the dishes. Ritsuka had been so eager to see her happy and pleased for once and…She'd done it. Seimei had been beyond angry, but there was nothing to be done.

Ritsuka doesn't come home until he fears he'll break his curfew. Then he goes straight into the bath, then to his room. His father is never anywhere is sight. It isn't until late, around eleven o'clock, that he tiptoes down their creaking wooden stairs and into the kitchen.

The dishwasher is empty, meaning he is the one required to fill it. He isn't sure whether that makes things easier or harder…all he knows is: the faster this is done the better.

Everything is stacked haphazardly in the sink and just from looking Ritsuka can tell it won't all fit. He grabs a bowl and…every clink of every dish makes him want to cry.

There's no way to muffle the sounds. He tries to steady his hands and be more careful, but then it just sounds like someone is trying to put away dishes quietly. Not succeeding. He strains his ears, human and cat, listening for any signs of his mother's approach.

There are five huge pots, that he cannot even image uses for, that remain in the sink. But by some God give miracle he gets everything else into the dishwasher, pours in the detergent, starts it up, and gets back to his room unscathed but for his taught and twanging nerves.

He lies in his bed, shaking, clutching the cell phone and wondering if Soubi would answer if he called. More importantly, wondering if Seimei ever told Soubi about…about this.

He's too terrified to sleep. He watches the door, even though it's locked, and then his eyes dart to the clock.

He doesn't have to wake up for school until six…so, when its face reads four o'clock he starts to get ready. By four-fifteen he's clothed and groomed. He makes his escape out the window, school bag slung over his shoulder. If Soubi can do this all the time, so can he.

He makes his way to the park where intends to read until he sees the other kids heading on their way to class.

He should have known better though. He never gets away, someone always finds him…He supposes he's grateful that it's only Soubi, instead of his mother or father.


"What?" he replies gruffly, hunching down in his jacket. He scoots down the bench, away from the circle of light cast by the lamp.

"I wonder why you are out at this time and place," Soubi murmurs, approaching and then bending in close to take a good look.

"I can ask you the same question," Ritsuka grumbles, not meeting his Fighter's eyes.

"I'm just out walking."

"Well so am I!" the boy snaps.

"Do you not have to get up for school?" Soubi wonders, his voice infuriatingly calm.

"I'm up, aren't I?"

"I suppose that is true. May I keep you company?"

"If you want to." The indifference meets with no reaction.

"Is there a reason you have left your house and just gone out walking?"

Ritsuka doesn't answer for a long time, and when he does, Soubi does not particularly like the answer. "Did Seimei ever say anything about…our mother?"

Soubi sits down heavily beside him. "Not much. There was some dislike for her."

Ritsuka gives him a strange look, gauging the truths and withholds behinds his words. Such a cynical child!

"Did…he tell you not say anything?"

Soubi shifts and declines to comment.

They sit in heavy silence for longer than should have been comfortable.

"I'm tired," Ritsuka whispers. Soubi finds a smile on his face despite himself. He turns and opens his arms.

"I make quite a comfortable pillow," he offers gently. His Sacrifice is reluctant to accept, but in the end he gives way, toppling over into Soubi's arms.

The park is quiet and the night isn't too cold. Soubi's long hair tickles his face, almost like a moth's wings, but he isn't inclined to move, not even for the most minute of fidgets. There is one more thing however.

"Soubi?" he mumbles plaintively.

"Yes, Ritsuka?"

"I need plastic dishes."

"Yes, Ritsuka."

"Mmm, thank you."

"I love you, Ritsuka."

The boy shifts in his arm, squirming closer, nuzzling his neck. "Hmm."

"I will wake you for school."

Ritsuka smiles, drifting off to sleep.

Disclaimer: I do not own Loveless.