-1It is night now, my favourite time. This is the time when all else sleeps, and that peculiar hush that accompanies the darkness muffles the world. The house settles around me in the cool air, an imitation of the life that walks through it by day, but it cannot fool me. I alone remain, awake and unfettered in the deep, quiet pocket between dusk and dawn. This is when all things are as they should be.

Sitting up, a textbook rests open and unheeded in my lap, but my attention has long since wandered to matter more attractive. The sound of your soft, even breathing swells to adulterate the silence that surrounds me; the warm weight of your small body beside me softens the edge of my solitude. We are a tiny island, you and I, in the vast ocean of darkness that is the night.

I am pleased by this.

Your ears flatten against your head as a nightmare grips you. A small moan escapes your throat, but I lay my hand on your arm and the sound subsides. Even in your sleep, you know me. My touch, my voice, my scent - since the day you were born, I have woven these things through your consciousness until you would know me, though you be stricken blind and deaf. I wonder what pictures play in your head while you sleep. Do your dreams remember the you that was? It hardly matters, but I do wonder.

Weary of the pretence, I lay my book aside and slide down under the covers beside you. You are curled up and I shuffle closer to your back to feel your heat through our night clothes. Reaching up to brush back a strand of your hair - so silky against my skin - I see the still-swollen bruise that our mother left on your cheekbone this afternoon. My heart constricts to see it, but there is nothing to be done. You do not run from her, as you should. Run to me, and I will protect you.

Resting my head on my hand, I permit myself to caress your cheek, my fingers like a whisper across your battered skin. Leaning close, I breathe the scent of you. Something in me quickens, and I am loath to dampen it, so rarely do I indulge. My touch is gentle, infinitely tender as I glide my hand down your arm to rest on your small hip. Another sound from you, the purring sigh of a contented kitten, and you snuggle a little further into your pillow.

Your long eyelashes rest lightly above your rounded cheek, like a cherub's in the soft light of the bedside lamp. You are so sweet, so cute with the faint flush and the fuzzy smell of sleep clinging to you; I reach up under your shirt to touch your belly with my fingertips. It must tickle, because you squirm a little. I make gentling sounds in your ear, reminding you that it is I beside you. Yes, it is I - my touch, my voice - and these things are right and good. I am your protector, the one who loves you.

You settle quickly, and I spread my fingers to span your chest. It is not so small now as it once was. You have grown so much in this last year, from a tiny sprout to a sapling under my watchful gaze. I accidentally graze across one of your nipples, and I can feel it harden under my touch; growing, indeed.

Back down now, I slip my fingers carefully under the waistband of your pyjama pants. Soft cotton above and softer flesh below; I have to restrain my desire to knead the flesh of your hip before sliding my hand along the length of your thigh. Still so scrawny, though you gain a little every day. But then, I am tall and thin; I will be pleased if you grow in my likeness.

Yes, I will be very pleased, indeed.

I trail up and over your behind - oh, so careful not to wake you - rounding your hip to finally cup my hand between your legs. Your sex feels small against my palm, but it stirs, swelling sweetly into my touch. The skin here is still mostly smooth and hairless, just the first thin fuzz of adulthood to soften this contact. Very gently, I wrap my fingers around your length. I know that this is too much, that I should not, but I have acquired quite a taste for a well-made mistake, and so I stay. I want to move, to feel this skin, so soft over hard flesh, slide through my grip. I want to, but I cannot, lest you awaken.

When I close my eyes, visions drift through my head of the day when I will allow myself the pleasure of pleasuring you. Soon, I tell myself, when everything is over and no one is left to come between us. Then I will be everything for you. Yes, it will be soon, and that must be soon enough. I must make everything perfect, and that is not yet the case. The worst is yet to come, and I must not rush this.

Slowly, I release my hold on your sex and pull my hand up out of your pants. Your tail twitches a little, and I wonder if it is because your body is already missing mine. The thought makes me smile and I move closer to you, wrapping one arm around your waist and sliding the other up under my pillow. You snuggle back a little, pressing your small back against my chest and trapping my erection between us, torturing me sweetly.

I might call it penance, but I have nothing to repent. That will come later, after the conflagration to come. It will be difficult for you, but it is necessary. Those who would stand in my way, those who would tear us apart, all will fall before me. I will make a world for the two of us alone, and you will belong only to me. Believe in this, brother. Keep faith, for I will never abandon you, my beloved, my Ritsuka.

I will burn the world to keep you by my side.