A/N: A wicked idea that's been stirring for a while. Sort of a psychological story messing with haziness of present and past. Bit of a short intro. 8 chapters, anyone care to beta?

Not the Same




Yesterday, Soubi was okay.

He painted a crooked line that morphed into a flower, ate a quiet dinner by himself, and picked out the off-white shirt and black pants he'd wear the next day.

Soubi thought about his day as he laid in bed.

He thought about Ritsuka, Seimei, Ritsu. The people who he was bound to. Naive Ritsuka, adamant Seimei, and pristine Ritsu. Their souls he could not, and would not touch. There were rare flowers in the world that grew beauty out of dead land, and he knew they were easily damaged. He would not let Ritsuka follow Seimei's path and become another cruel cold Ritsu.

He has something to live on, hopelessly devoted.

Everything was as it should have been.

Morning rolled around and Soubi stretched out his long limbs awkwardly as he did everyday, wishing for just five more minutes of darkness and sleep. He ran his fingers through ash colored hair, carelessly removing the tangles sleep had tied into his hair. Grabbing glasses, he slowly walked over to the bathroom. A clink announced the unceremonious placement of his glasses on the porcelain sink beside the faucet.

Still tired and half asleep, Soubi turned on the water. Wordless flowing laughter poured out of the faucet. He splashed the cold water onto his face and was mercilessly jerked out of his fuzzy mental state. Strands of hair caked together from water. Officially awake and functioning, he dried his face with a towel and put his glasses on.

He opened the mirror and took out gauze to wrap around the mark his owner has gifted him. Taking the fabric end in his left hand, he held it to his permanent necklace and fidgeted to set the gauze in the right position to be wrapped around.

He could feel fingers gliding across the scars, marking ownership. Cold fingertips, weightless gauze, a non-comprehensible whisper in his ear that said he belonged completely.

Soubi turned around to meet the breath on neck. There was no one there, only an empty bedroom still cloaked in the fuzzy darkness that was dawn.

"Never let anyone see it, Soubi."

The strong voice echoed in the hollow silence of the room. There was no sound other than the beating of a pair of human hearts. Seimei curled a lock of hair around his fingers and twisted it in thought. A ghost of a smile flickered across his lips. He reached upward to touch his handiwork. No one could touch this, this was solely his. It stole his breath away.

"No one else needs to know. It's not something for you to parade around; someone might become too interested. Don't ever forget that you are mine."

"I am yours alone."

It had been a while since Seimei spoke so directly. He couldn't resist leading Soubi a bit more. It was such a thrill to see the will of a beautiful creature bend to his desire, to see such a fiery soul extinguished under his command. In the beginning, there were flashes of that flame. But he had crushed any indication of independence and made sure that Soubi became completely submissive. If he, Seimei, said to live. Soubi would live. If he said to die. Soubi would surely die.

"What would you do if I were gone?"

Soubi looked at him unsure. He lifted his hand to cover the boy's, still gripping his throat. Cold hands on cold. Heavy lidded eyes glanced down and he bowed his head. Ashen hair fell on his master's arm, rose-lit by the soft light of falling dusk. "I would follow you there," he said without hesitation. The air was dense.

The smirk appeared on Seimei's face again. Possession was such a sweet poison. He stated coldly, "And what if I told you that where I'm going, you can't follow."

Soubi's eyes flew to Seimei's face, shocked. The panic on his face made the boy smile inside. Seimei took the gauze from Soubi's hands and carefully wrapped layer after layer around the etched work. That was the one and only time two pairs of hands participated.

It was such a common ritual for Soubi that he didn't even look in the mirror for guidance. He had been wrapping his precious mark for years, always the same gauze, always twisting it with expert skill that spoke of endless practice. But for some reason, today he looked up. The figure in the mirror stared back with a fierce intensity and pointed up toward his neck. His eyes widened and the gauze roll fell the floor in a muffled thunk. Soubi's hands couldn't stop shaking. He stood still, breathe caught in, unable to comprehend the situation.

His hands gripped the sink rim for support. He was sure the one in the mirror wasn't him. Tentatively, Soubi glanced up at the mirror, but this time, it was only his reflection. Clear eyes shifted to where the figure had pointed. There was something wrong. Something was not the same.

With trembling fingertips, he gently reached up and examined his throat.

The 'B' was a shade of pale rose, barely noticeable compared to the deep scars of the rest of the word.

He covered it in an attempt to hide the disturbing letter. Perhaps he was hallucinating. Soubi took his hand away and hoped that it would be dark, just as it should be. But the jagged letter was still that same pale skin tone. His breath caught in his throat, and he felt as if he were suffocating.

BELOVED was fading.