what you have tamed.
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." The fox, the Little Prince.

"Once upon a time," Soubi murmurs, his smoke white-gray against the late afternoon, against the reddish leaves that fall down. He doesn't carry on after that, just lets the words linger between them.

Ritsuka eyes him, half distrusting and half curious, ears twitching, his book still half up.


"Nothing," Soubi says, and he smiles. "I was just remembering a story. Once upon a time, there was a fox who--"

Ritsuka closes his book with a snap, interrupting him. "Shut it, I don't care."


"Fairytales are stupid," Ritsuka says. He puts his things back into his bag, not quite looking at him. He's frowning, though, genuinely upset. Sad. "Stupid things people had to do to make their children behave. Ways to scare them. Stupid, meaningless things. Lies."

Ah. Did your mother read fairytales to the other you, Soubi doesn't ask. Neither does he wonders if it was Seimei who made those promises, then.

"Besides, happily ever after is a cruel promise," Ritsuka mutters, his voice softer. Soubi thinks that he might have forgotten he was arguing with him. "Too cruel."

Instead he presses the butt of his cigarette against the ground and blows the smoke away before he wraps his arms around Ritsuka and pulls him against him in a flurry of 'Soubi!' and thin arms. Ritsuka falls against him and Soubi smiles when Ritsuka's indignation is that of an embarrassed teenager rather than that of a jaded soul, and then he nips at Ritsuka's ear just enough.

"Soubi! Let me go!" Ritsuka says, trying to squirm off his embrace. "I'm gonna be late for my curfew!"

They both know that's a lie: there is no chance that either of them would forget Ritsuka's curfew if it's been a lazy, calm afternoon.

But Soubi lets go, brushing off crushed leaves from his jeans when he stands up, walking besides Ritsuka.

(Once upon a time, there was a young boy that came from the stars searching for a friend. He traveled through many planets, some vast and mighty, some small and crumbling; he met a lot of people, some smart and cruel, some kind and harsh; but he didn't find a friend.

And then he met a fox, but the little boy had never seen one before so he was charmed by it and he tried to talk to it.

Little fox, would you be my friend? the boy asked.

The fox, however, had been hurt before so he didn't care for the young boy. Men tried to hunt him and scared him away, their voices loud, their footsteps heavy.

I won't be tamed, the fox answered instead. Go away.

But the young boy wanted so much a friend that he stayed and he stayed and he stayed.)

Whenever Ritsuka hurts, Soubi thinks that he can feel the ghost of it over his own body. He dislikes the bonds that pain can cause, the way they wrap chains tighter than many spells; he kneels in front of Ritsuka with the cotton to clean up his wounds and he feels the way Ritsuka's eyes cut through him, even though Ritsuka isn't looking at him at all.

You shouldn't be here, he doesn't say. You should be with me he doesn't say either. Ritsuka doesn't want to hear what he thinks about this, Soubi knows, and he has been ordered not to. It leaves him feeling a little more useless, a little more broken to know that he can't fix this, no matter how much he wishes for it, how much he'd even do it, even without Ritsuka's orders.

It scares him, too.

Instead, Soubi wraps his arms around Ritsuka and pulls him off the bed and down on top of him, falling down against the floor. Ritsuka makes a surprised noise, wide eyed and staring at him as he stops himself from just collapsing on top of him with his hands curled over his shoulders.


Soubi smiles at the blush dusting Ritsuka's cheekbones before he leans forward to kiss him.

(One day, the fox got close to the little boy, even though the little boy had lost count of how many days he had been there, waiting.

I don't want you to tame me, the fox said. He was injured again but he didn't let the young boy take care of his wounds. I don't want to!

I just want to be your friend, the young boy said. Is that so bad?

You'll leave, answered the fox. I'll be hurt. I don't want to be hurt like that.

But you are already hurt.

But not my heart, the fox said. My heart isn't hurt at all. If you keep on taming me, I'll get hurt, because you'll go. Humans do that. And then, things that were dear to me will be painful. I won't enjoy the way the wind sings, because it won't carry your voice. Blue skies will be horrid because they are not your eyes. Go away, please. I don't want you to tame me.

Ah, the young boy said, thinking of the way nor apples nor autumn red leaves had the right shade of red of his fox' fur. But he still wanted a friend and he thought that the fox would like a friend, too, so he stayed. And stayed and stayed and stayed.)

The way Ritsuka kisses him is a lot like Ritsuka's way of being: hesitant and direct and honest and shy; Soubi can't get enough of it, even as he nips a little at his tongue, even as he touches the warm skin of Ritsuka's waist, not daring to push his hands higher or lower, doesn't know if he wouldn't break like glass if he was to have more of Ritsuka's skin.

So he kisses Ritsuka and pushes against him and Soubi pays attention at every little sound Ritsuka makes, at the thump of his tail against his thigh, at the way his hands curl and uncurl from his shoulders, at the way his thighs press against his side.

(Soubi doesn't remember how the story ended. In tragedy, most likely. Sensei liked that kind of stories. The boy probably left the fox. Or perhaps the hunters got the fox and it was the boy who was left alone.

It doesn't matter much.)

This is, Soubi thinks, his favorite way to be; Ritsuka warm and pliant in his arms, half asleep and not caring much about anything for the moment but the way that Soubi scritches him behind his ears. Soubi smiles and leans forward, brushes a kiss against Ritsuka's head and enjoys for as long as it'll last the way Ritsuka fits in his arms.



Ritsuka squirms a little so Soubi pauses, waiting for whatever it is that Ritsuka wants to say.

"... tell me a story?" He sees the way Ritsuka ducks his head, feels him squirm again and he knows that Ritsuka is blushing, knows that he's feeling embarrassed. "... one with a happy ending?"

His heart hurts, a hard thumping inside of his chest that Soubi almost fears will break. He wraps his arms around Ritsuka and hugs him tight, leaning against him, voice a low, careful murmur so that no Words may escape from Ritsuka's embrace.

"And a happily ever after?"

Ritsuka nods again, small fingers curled around his forearms. Soubi feels the way he nods against his own face.

"Once upon a time..."

(He makes up his own ending instead.)