Tide Will Rise.
Soubi thinks that, perhaps, he's being a little bit unfair.
"No," Ritsuka enunciates carefully, glaring at him, putting his small bag down. "You're staying here and that's an order."
And he knows it's an order, he had heard it from the first time Ritsuka had said so already, when he had suggested it, half jokingly and half serious, now completely serious at the possibility of five whole days without Ritsuka.
Ritsuka sighs then, wraps his fingers around his wrists and tugs him towards a corner. It's early enough that no one sees them as Ritsuka pulls him down a little – just a little, because fifteen had meant Ritsuka hitting up his growth spurt, and six months after that he reaches his chin easily – and he kisses him. Soubi wraps his arms tight around Ritsuka as he opens his mouth for the kiss, trying to draw out as much as possible of this because it's going to have to last for almost a whole week.
"I'll see you on Sunday, okay?" Ritsuka asks when he pulls away, always needing some room after he's shown affection.
Soubi wants to hug him and he wants to cling to him but he also knows better, so he keeps his fingers from reaching for Ritsuka again by taking a cigarette out.
"Stop smoking so much," Ritsuka adds, when he sees him, wrinkling his nose as he starts walking again.
"Mmm," Soubi says, but he doesn't say yes as he starts walking. It wasn't an order, this time.
Soubi-san, says Yuiko's e-mail on his phone a few minutes before he gets to Kio's place, so he walks slower, Osaka is so beautiful! We've only seen temples so far, but Ritsuka-kun has been telling me a lot about them. We're gonna eat okonomiyaki, later, and the hotel we're in has an onsen and-- oh, Soubi-san, I didn't ask you before, I'm sorry! What would you like as a souvenir?
Attached is a picture of Yuiko, pretty and charming in her uniform, with Yayoi and Ritsuka by her sides, Ritsuka as tall as her now, smiling and well in the picture.
For a moment, Soubi thinks about answering 'you're already bringing me back something', because Ritsuka will be full of stories and memories and mementos and smiles, and more importantly he will be back. But Soubi is also sure that Yuiko won't get it and Ritsuka will be mortified.
Instead he tells her that he is very glad they're having a nice time and that he would love to get some okonomiyaki for him, if she'd be so nice, or perhaps some frozen gyoza would be good, too.
Yuiko keeps on sending him emails of the places they've seen with photos' attached and every-day lessons. She tells him about Ritsuka having won a karaoke competition – and being so embarrassed by it – and how when some girls from other school had been picking on her, Ritsuka stood up to her. The pictures are often out of focus, but in some Ritsuka looks just wistful, fifteen-going-sixteen, staring at the flowers and the temples, his smile soft but a little sad.
"You're being ridiculous," Kio glares at him when half of his food is still on his tray. "Just call him! Tell him you miss him!"
Soubi thinks about telling Kio just how many times he has been about to speed dial Ritsuka's number, how much it hurts that he hasn't heard his voice in days.
Instead he smiles, shrugs; "He said he'd call," and then he shrugs once more when Kio curses and calls him an idiot.
Friday night he's awake in his bedroom, the lights on and he has resorted to counting the minutes until Ritsuka is back, not as a way to get to sleep but simply as a way to remain almost sane.
And then there's the usual pull of Ritsuka, and he picks up his cellphone before it has even finished it's first ring, knowing it seems desperate and not caring, not right then.
A moment of silence, and then-- "What are you doing up? It's late."
There is no way to tell Ritsuka how little he has been sleeping these days, and instead he basks in the sound of his voice to ease away the craving.
"Mmmm. Where are you?" Soubi asks, turning off the lights, closing his eyes, trying to pick even the tiniest sounds so that he can picture that he's there, that Ritsuka is within arm's reach.
"Outside," Ritsuka answers, softly. "Didn't want to wake anyone up. Couldn't sleep."
"Miss me?" Soubi dares to ask, teasing. But then there's Ritsuka's silence agreeing with his statement and Soubi thinks his chest might break; the pain exquisite and his heart thumping hard against his chest.
"Have you been well?" Ritsuka asks instead, and Soubi can almost see him: ears down, feeling vulnerable, looking down, hunching a little as if to expect a blow.
He licks his lips and wishes for a cigarrette. "I miss you."
More silence. He can't hear much from Ritsuka's side of the line and Soubi craves for something more than just his breathing.
"If... if I was back home," Ritsuka says, in a smaller tone of voice than before, hesitating and sweet and scared. "... what would you do right now, if I was there?"
Anything. Everything. Soubi has to swallow twice and make himself calm down. Ritsuka's kindness is the sweetest cruelty he knows, one he wouldn't change, but it still aches and hurts, the way Ritsuka wants him to be someone rather than something, makes him wish for things for himself and become selfish.
"I'd kiss you," Soubi answers, eyes as closed as possible, both to hear the little hitch in Ritsuka's breathing and to picture it better, the way he'd wrap his arms around Ritsuka, the way Ritsuka's arms would cling to his waist, or perhaps his fingers would tighten around his shoulderblades, wanting to keep him right there. "A lot."
He hears Ritsuka swallow. "And? Tell me."
The 'please' is implicit, but Soubi is good at ignoring those when Ritsuka does it. He swallows, breathing in deeply and then letting the air out in a soft rush through his mouth.
"I'd feel you. Touch your back, your sides. Trace your hips through your jeans, follow the line of your shoulders, of your neck. I'd keep on kissing you until you told me to stop."
And he would, Soubi knows. Eventually, even if Ritsuka had been pressing against him, his body tense and demanding, eventually Ritsuka would get control of himself and push him away, claim that it's late. He'd be flushed, lips bruised and sweating and letting him go would be the sweetest, most painful thing Soubi had ever done.
Then, Ritsuka's voice once more, breathy and small, uncertain and certain at the same time.
"... what if... what if I didn't ask you to stop this time?"
Soubi's mouth goes dry and his whole body goes tense: it takes him too much time to be able to free his mind of the picture of Ritsuka's skin, of the touch of Ritsuka's scarred hands on his body.
"I'd still touch you," he says, his own voice gone softer and he's hard but dares not to try and touch himself. "If you'd let me. If you ordered me... if you'd..."
"If you'd what?" There's a quiver in Ritsuka's voice, out of need rather than anger and his body shivers through the ripples of that.
"... tell me what to do." And even Soubi isn't sure if he's still saying what he'd do or if he's asking Ritsuka for orders once more. Ritsuka's breath catches once again and Soubi wonders if he's feeling the same way he is, wrapped up too tight within his skin and yet incomplete. "I belong to you."
"I..." Ritsuka pauses a moment and Soubi can almost see him – still hunched forward, hands tight over his lap, ears pressed against his hair, probably blushing. "... I want to touch you. I want you to..."
"... Soubi, take my ears." there's silence, after that, and his mouth goes dry, too dry.
And then there is sound he doesn't care to hear, Ritsuka's teacher asking him what he's doing up.
"I've to go, I'll see you in a couple of days," Ritsuka says instead, embarrassed and soft and wanting. Ritsuka wants him. Knowing that is enough to stop Soubi from asking for him not to go, or ask him to let him go for him.
"I love you, Ritsuka."
Soubi keeps on listening to the line until he remembers how to breathe.
Saturday night, Soubi is trying to decide if Ritsuka's 'see you on Sunday' counts as an order or not. He should be home by now, his class coming back to Tokyo today and he wants to see him, he would've gone to see him if only Ritsuka hadn't ordered him to stay.
But before he can decide if that would extend to going to his place already, there's the pull again – Ritsuka calling him, Ritsuka owning him and Soubi can't be bothered to focus on the lapse of going from the window to the door, just that he's opening and that Ritsuka hasn't even knocked; it doesn't matter because Ritsuka is embarrassed and glaring at him with one hand still searching for his key and there. Soubi hugs him tightly against him, allowing the weariness of almost a whole week to vanish.
"Welcome back, Ritsuka," he mutters against Ritsuka's soft hair.
Ritsuka relaxes against his body and nods a little, hugs him back and close. Over the corner of his eye, Soubi realizes that Ritsuka's luggage is right by the door, meaning that Ritsuka came straight here from school.
"I'm home," his master says. He can feel the way Ritsuka smiles.
Yes. Much better.