Disclaimer: I do not own "Loveless" or any of its characters, nor do I own "Then You Stand" by Rascal Flatts. All praises be given to the three great guys that make up Rascal Flatts for giving me so much inspiration for fanfics! I hope you guys like this latest!

"Soubi," a little whisper was heard through the darkness. He was being shaken gently as he heard again, "Soubi, wake up."

Stretching and taking a deep breath, Soubi opened his eyes to see Ritsuka kneeling on the floor beside his bed. He raised an eyebrow and asked tiredly, "Ritsuka? What are you doing here? How did you get in?"

The little boy smiled as he held up a key and said, "You gave me this, remember?"

He stared at the key for a minute, suddenly remembering. "Oh," he said. "Right. So what's wrong?"

"Nothing," Ritsuka replied, helping him up. "I know it's late, but I wanted to see you. I didn't want to stay at home anymore, anyway. Mom was having one of her episodes tonight, and I wasn't getting any sleep. Do you mind if we talk until I can fall asleep here?"

The golden-haired man couldn't help but smile as he put on his glasses, suddenly able to see his young Sacrifice more clearly. Most of the time he acted much more mature than his age allowed, but every so often he would slip, and Soubi could all of a sudden tell that he was no more than twelve.

He petted his head gently and said, "Of course, Ritsuka-kun. Come on and sit here with me on the bed." After the cat-eared boy crawled up beside him and Soubi put his arms tightly around him, he went on, "Now tell me truly, what's really wrong?"

Ritsuka's smile only brightened a little when he replied, "You know me too well, Soubi. That's your problem…and mine." He paused for a minute, gathering his bearings before actually answering his question. "Part of the reason I came is because of my mom, but that's not all of it. There's just so much going on right now that I feel anxious. I'm trying to work out what Seven Moons is, why they killed Seimei, why Zero is trying to kill us, and a million other things. I just don't know where to begin."

Soubi nodded, understanding. "Life has gotten much more complicated lately, hasn't it? I have to admit that I'm not sure how to answer all of those questions, Ritsuka, but I can reassure you: No matter what happens in the near future, I'm not going to let them hurt you."

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright

The two of them stayed there together in that exact position for hours, and finally Soubi whispered, "You just have to stay strong, Ritsuka-kun. Even though I can't tell you anything about Seven Moons or Seimei's involvement with them, you'll find out in time. When that time comes, you will have to make your own decisions about things: where you stand and why. Until that time, just let me worry about things and stay strong. That's all you have to do."

He then looked down to realize that Ritsuka was deeply asleep. Giving him a small kiss on the head, Soubi laid him down on the bed and covered him up before walking out into the kitchen and getting some coffee. He knew he wouldn't be getting back to sleep any time soon, so he may as well have made himself even more awake while he was at it. That way he could contemplate what to tell his young friend when he awoke in the morning.

Everything he'd said to him was true, of course, but that was hardly the point. He felt badly for being unable to tell Ritsuka the truth about everything, but he'd also promised Seimei. It turned out, actually, that all the promises he'd made to Seimei were killing his relationship with Ritsuka, perhaps the only part of Seimei that still lived outside of Soubi's own heart and memory.

Sitting at the kitchen table and drinking his coffee, he remembered what Ritsu-sensei had told him all those years ago when he was training, "You can't be weak, Soubi! You must stand strong no matter what, and never give up! If other teams see you as weak, they'll be able to take you down without even a fight! You can't let that happen! Be the strength behind Beloved, and stand against all who oppose you!"

Stand. It was just one simple word, but it had affected his life more than even Ritsu-sensei probably knew. Every time he would collapse in a battle, he would remember those words and get right back up. Those were the words that kept him going in the battles he had been in since Seimei died, all the ones without a Sacrifice (and a serious point of anger with Ritsuka). He took another large gulp and thought to himself, "Stand strong, Soubi. Stand."

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you stand, Then you stand

"Ritsuka, stay back!" Soubi shouted, angry for the first time around his young Sacrifice. They had become involved in a fight not long after leaving the apartment that morning, so the younger had insisted on taking part in this one. "You stay behind me and let me handle this!"

"But Soubi!" Ritsuka cried, growing more and more upset as the minutes passed. "They'll kill you! You can't take Zero on your own! Please, Soubi, let me help you!"

The two girls laughed, and Soubi just glared at them. "I said stay back," he said again with a more quiet anger. "You shouldn't even be in this battle." He then stared Zero down, preparing for their next move. Whatever it was, he knew that he had to block it fast before it hit Ritsuka.

Unfortunately, they were too quick, even for him. The Fighter unleashed a Blade Attack so quickly that Soubi was only able to block a part of it, and Ritsuka was forced to take the rest of the damage. The Beloved/Loveless Fighter cringed when he heard his young friend screaming in pain as the blades cut him.

The fight seemed to rage on for hours as Zero unleashed wave after wave of unwavering attacks while Soubi blocked as much as he could and returned just as strongly. Meanwhile, Ritsuka was taking anything that his Fighter couldn't block, and it was beginning to take its toll on his young and inexperienced body.

His vision was growing blurry as he fell to his knees and tried to keep up with what was happening. The last thing he saw before passing out was Soubi standing in front of him, holding his arms out wide and blocking everything that Zero was trying to throw at them. "Hold on, Ritsuka," he was saying gently. "We'll be out of this in just a minute. Just hold on for me."

Then there was nothing but blackness and sorrow. He felt cold and tired, as though he couldn't move at all. He was conscious of someone calling out weakly in a whisper, "Soubi…" And he wasn't sure if it was him or not…

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

Ritsuka awoke to see that it was nighttime, and he figured he had been out for hours. Upon looking at the dated clock beside the bed, however, he realized that he'd been passed out for going on three days. Realizing this fact, he jumped up and walked out into the living room to see Soubi sitting on the couch and talking with Kio. "Ah, ha!" the latter said. "So the mummy rises!"

Soubi turned around with a smile and said, "It's about time you decided to wake up. Come and sit with me." Ritsuka did as he requested and rested in his arms as he asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Fine," he replied simply. He was silent for a long moment before he asked, "What happened? I don't remember anything past you telling me to hold on."

Kio let out a chuckle. "Boy, did you miss out on all the excitement. The fight lasted another couple hours after that, and Soubi came home a mess. He could barely stand, and still he carried you all the way back here. I told him I'd take care of you, but he insisted on not resting himself until he knew that you were going to be all right."

"Really?" he asked, looking up at his beautiful blonde friend. "You shouldn't do that, Soubi."

He shook his head. "It's all right, Ritsuka-kun, I promise. I've trained my body to withstand large amounts of pain and recover itself easily. Besides, how could I rest myself knowing that you were in pain?"

The young boy sighed deeply, closing his eyes and relaxing. Soubi was the strongest man he knew and could stand strong in any situation. He'd told him before about how Ritsu-sensei would yell at him to stand no matter what, to stay brave and true in all situations. He could only imagine how he finally got himself trained to take that kind of abuse and still hold his head high.


Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you stand, Then you stand

"Just face it, Loveless!" the male Zeros said angrily as they beat down Ritsuka. "You're nothing without Agatsuma Soubi! You may a well just stay down there on the ground because you'll never get back up without him!"

Ritsuka, now nineteen, had been on his own for going on three years now. It had broken his heart when Soubi had gone, but he understood all the same. Now Zero had come back for him, and this time only him. There was no one to stand between them this time: not Seimei, not Soubi, not even Seven Moons could help him now. This was where it was going to end.

He'd become more and more beaten down throughout the entire battle, and it was becoming difficult for him to keep his balance. He'd fallen to his knees and was glaring across the fighting zone he'd spread out to Zero. He knew that he had to act quickly or he was going to die there in that field. He couldn't let that happen. At the very least he would avenge the loss of his brother and his lover. He'd vowed revenge on Seven Moons years ago, and he figured that destroying their greatest achievement as a Fighting Team was as good a start as any.


Every time you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place

Unable to take any more abuse, Ritsuka took a deep breath and stood up as he shouted, "ICE AND SNOW!" A wave of cold spread around them, and thanks to his experience fighting with Soubi, he knew that their defenses would soon break down and he would be able to defeat him without even lifting another finger.

As he kept shouting and throwing the cold at them, he kept picturing Soubi, standing over him in that one fight ages ago, thrusting his arms out wide and saying, "Just hold on, Ritsuka! Just hold on!"

"That's right, Ritsuka," he thought to himself. "Just hold on. Hold on for Soubi and stand strong. Remember what Soubi used to always say?"

"No matter what, Ritsuka-kun," Soubi's voice rang out in his mind. "Stand strong in everything you do. Whenever you're in a battle and you feel like you can't go on, I want you to remember that I love you. Take that strength with you and show them what you're really made of. Stand, Ritsuka. Stand."

A small tear fell from Ritsuka's cheek as he was Zero collapse. "I will stand, Soubi," he whispered into the drifting snow. "I love you too, and I will Stand."


Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you stand, Then you stand