Kyo sighed as he stared at the water rushing in the river by which he sat. He drew his knees to his chest and laid his head down. The cat was so weary but it wasn't a physical weariness that weighed down upon him so heavily. He felt numb, as if he could only stare at what happened around him, as if anything he did would be inconsequential. There was no will left in his body, no fight, none of the spirit he was known for. The cat had lost the will to survive, to merely exist. It no longer mattered what happened to him, he didn't care. He had given up all hope. It was as if something was holding him down and draining him.

There was no telling how long he sat at the riverbank. It could have been minutes, or hours. He just sat there, completely still, listening to the sounds around him as if they had nothing to do with him. As if they were of a completely different world. One that he was no longer a part of. There was a hand on his shoulder and Kyo looked up. Distant and unseeing orange eyes locked with violet orbs that were filled with concern. Yuki sat down next to Kyo gracefully, folding his legs under him.

"Kyo?" the cat didn't respond. "What's the matter with you?" Kyo only stared blankly at the murky water in front of him. It was almost ten minutes later when Yuki was answered with another question.

"Why would you care?" His cousin's voice was so devoid of any and all emotion that it took Yuki a moment to respond.

"You may annoy me and you may be my enemy as decreed by the zodiac but you are still my family. I still care about, if not enough that I would willingly spend five minutes with you but enough that I worry when you don't eat, or sleep, or say a word for over a week.

"Don't bother."


"Don't bother worrying. I won't be around much longer anyway. My time is almost up." Yuki looked at his cousin, shocked.

"What do you mean?"

"I've failed, and soon I will be locked in a cage, never to be seen again. I'll have only night's comforting illusion to keep me company." Silence overtook the two again. This time, it was Yuki to break it.

"So that's it. I should have figured it out. You haven't beaten me so you've lost your bet with Akito and now you've run out of time?" Kyo nodded.

"Punch me." Kyo looked up at Yuki, showing the first emotion he had in days; confusion.


"Punch me. I won't hit you back." Kyo shook his head.

"I can't."

"Look at it this way, I'm letting you beat me today so that someday I'll be able to fight you and that day you'll win. Not because I let you, not because I'm not at my best but because you'll be better then me. I want that day to come and if Akito locks you up it never will. Hit me Kyo. Hit me today so we can fight tomorrow." Kyo's eyes showed something Yuki had never seen in them before, at least not when they were looking at him. The orange eyes shown with an inner light and without a saying a word Kyo was thanking him.

The Angel of Despair would have to find another victim; Hope had already claimed this one.