"Aoyagi-sensei! Look at my painting!" She couldn't have been older than seven, splattered cheerfully in what appeared to be red ink. He knelt down to examine her art, marvelling at the expressive wavy lines of red and white. "Agatsuma-sensei taught us how to make wood block butterflies," she declared proudly.
"He did? Where's Sensei now?"
"Ah, he's in the supply room," she answered, hurrying off to her friends.
"Thank you, Mai-chan." Ritsuka stood up, catching a glance at himself in the big antique mirror propped up against the wall. He really needed a haircut or Natsuo would try to braid it again. As acting principal of the Septimal Moon Academy, he needed to look more professional, but with the absence of his ears (which he still was getting used to), he noticed people no longer tried to treat him as a child.
Heading into the supply room, he spotted his Fighter examining wood blocks with a critical eye. "Soubi. Working hard?" he asked.
"Good morning, Aoyagi-sensei," Soubi replied teasingly, setting the blocks down.
Ritsuka blushed, looking away. "You don't have to call me that, you know," he mumbled, fidgeting like he used to do when they were much younger.
"But it suits you so well. You're a really good teacher. The kids all love you," Soubi added more seriously, absently stroking his soft black hair. It was getting rather long, he noticed. It was almost ten years ago, he remembered, that everything had changed. A couple years ago, Ritsuka officially took over as the principal after he graduated and reopened the school. Ritsuka wanted a place for guidance, not indoctrination, a place for growing, not training. It wasn't easy, but the elders respected Ritsuka's rightful claim and together they built a solid foundation.
"Thanks," Ritsuka murmured, idly tracing the faded scars on Soubi's throat. Nearly a decade later, and the scars had yet to completely fade. But they were practically invisible now, simply faded memories beneath the skin. He remembered asking Soubi all those years ago, whether it bothered him that his own name never appeared on his body, despite the many times Soubi checked. He hasn't forgotten the answer either.
I'm not worried about your name. It's there, in a special place that most people can't see. It's written on your heart, Ritsuka, as I believe it's written on mine. How else can we be so connected?
"I better get back to the office. I just wanted to check on your art class,"
"You're welcome any time," Soubi murmured, stealthily slipping his arm around the other's waist, drawing him into a not-so-chaste kiss. Ritsuka was taken by surprise, but pleased all the same, leaning in a little closer in response. Only as the chatter of Soubi's students got too close did Ritsuka pull away to head out, his cheeks flushed like the first day they met.
"I'll see you at home, Agatsuma-sensei," he called playfully, waving from the door.
"See you, Ritsuka."
A/N: Just want to say thank you to all readers and fans of Loveless. All types of comments are welcome, and I sincerely hoped everyone enjoyed the ride.