'Zero' Means Everything.


"That is my fighter?" The aqua haired boy asks, arms crossed. Natsuo huffs.

"Tch." He says, loud enough for the boy to hear, never mind that he is with Nagisa-sensei. "That' has a name, y'know?'"

"Oh?" His apparently-going-to-be Sacrifice actually looks interested then, the beginnings of a smirk playing right beside his lips. He looks up towards Nagisa-sensei, raising an eyebrow. "Okay, I'll take him."


- Natsuo gets injured in one of their first battles. It had been Youji's fault, too: he had doubted for a moment on giving the next order to finish, and when Natsuo asked what to do he didn't answer. The other team had attacked then, and before he knew it, Natsuo had stepped in front of him. He had a hand pressed against his face and there was blood between his fingers.

"Stupid, I'm the Sacrifice." He scolds while Natsuo stays in the hospital. Even if he can't feel pain he's sedated, just in case. Still, Natsuo's now only eye is open and the Fighter gives him a tired smirk.

"Don't doubt next time, then."

Youji huffs and doesn't answer; he just moves from his chair to lay down besides Natsuo over his hospital bed.


The only thing they don't feel is pain and cold. They feel warmth and pleasure and even happiness and contentment; they touch each other as much as possible to try and draw every single feeling they possess.


Their name doesn't appear until after they turn thirteen, just after they lose against Soubi. It had been something of a sore spot for both of them, so instead of holding a name they used to hold tightly unto their hands, tight enough to bruise, and for months and years the mark of fingernails on the back of their hands replaced their name.


'Zero' means nothing. It's a shadow, it's empty of value or form, implying that it can be replaced and nothing would happen as long as it still exists.

It's also a perfect circle, endless, perfect, indestructible. Them.


It's offensive to think that there are more Zero out there. Natsuo thinks that it's almost taking part of who they are. He doesn't voice this, but anyway Youji seems to think the same, for the way his hand clenches over his.


After their fight with the female Zero-wenches, Natsuo learns two things. One, that one day he is going to kill them for having dared to hurt his Sacrifice like that. Two, that there's nothing in the world that scares him as much as the idea of living without Youji does.


He can't stop himself from respecting Soubi just a little after that, for surviving the death of Beloved.


Both Natsuo and Youji would like to say that it angers them that Soubi has been able to have another Sacrifice, that now he is Beloved for Loveless… truth is that Ritsuka is so cute and he is so much fun to tease that they let it slide most of the times.


Natsuo doesn't bother with jealousy, when Youji teases Ritsuka. He is Youji's and Youji is his, no matter what their teachers had said at school about Sacrifices and Fighters. They're Zero and they belong together.


That doesn't mean he doesn't like knowing that he can make Youji jealous if he pretends to pay a little more of attention on Ritsuka, if he clings to Loveless and pretends to nuzzle at his side.


Or that he has to like it when Youji's eyes seem to linger a bit too much on Soubi.


Youji likes to comb his fingers through Natsuo's hair. He untangles it slowly with deft fingers, taking care of not pulling on it in a way that doesn't seem like him. Whenever he finishes and he hears Natsuo's contented breath, Youji grins and plops down by Natsuo's back and hears Natsuo's falsely annoyed voice.


They've challenged each other to see who's the one able to drink the most beer without fainting or puking. From time to time, Kio watches them drink the beers as if they were water with some kind of sick fascination. They have also put eating ice cream and chocolate on that list.


They don't suffer hangovers… but after drinking, they really don't feel like going out of their futon, so Natsuo nuzzles against Youji's neck, Youji wraps his arms around Natsuo's waist and they try and see if they manage to sleep twenty four hours straight.


Sometimes, Natsuo thinks he would like to feel pain. It's not because he's some sort of masochist, but because he thinks (he knows) that Youji would like it if he did.


Neither of them expects the sudden sadness they feel on leaving Soubi's house. Youji keeps rubbing knuckles over his chest. Natsuo moves his free hand over the inside of Youji's arm, on the arm that ends in their tightly holding hands.

"What's this feeling?" Youji asks, annoyed and confused.

"Dunno." Natsuo answers and leans closer. It helps a little.


Since he doesn't bother with jealousy, it doesn't bother him that Nagisa-sensei only pays attention to Youji, even though usually she just cares about the Fighters. Besides, he likes watching the soft smile on Youji's face at that, and he wonders if there'd be a way for him to cause that smile.


"I'm never me." Youji mutters after telling him about Nagisa-sensei's sister, but he sounds resigned. Natsuo rolls his eyes before draping himself over Youji's shoulders as a warm blanket, rubbing his face against Youji's neck.

"Stupid," he calls, weaving fingers through long strands of hair that fall to Youji's waist. He also nips on an ear and tugs on it. "Youji's Youji. Always and forever."

He actually feels Youji relaxing for a moment, leaning against him, but then he's being tackled to the bed by a pretending-to-be-mad Youji who's asking out loud 'Who're you calling 'stupid'!' and everything is fine.


"We're home… right?" Natsuo wonders during the night. Youji hates not to know the answer of something so he just shrugs. A few moments later, Natsuo moves to tuck himself against Youji's backside, and he gives a soft sigh when Youji's hand moves to entwine his fingers with his.