Title: Artists Alike.
Series: Loveless
Character/Pairing: Kio/Soubi.
Rating: PG-13, probs
Word count
Summary: Precanon. Kio begins to unravel the secrets. Some Kio/Soubi.
A/N: Sweet-charity for Misura. Thanks to Saaski for the beta.

1. It wasn't like one of those movies where they caught sight of each other across a crowded room. Or maybe it was, but only Kio heard the music. Soubi looked away and back to his friend, a person who Kio would come to know during the time later. Someone with a name, a family he'd learn to hate.

But that was only to come later.

Of course, Kio admired beauty but his was a practiced eye. He saw things that other, non-artists never caught. Such as the slope of a shoulder, a perfectly curved brow, the many shapes a body could take, from aquiline noses to hard, angular jaws, Soubi looked full of mystery, the kind of look that could compel someone to find out his secrets, and many secrets he had.

When he found out that Soubi too was an artist, Kio knew to make his move. He was hardly a blushing virgin anymore and he had a hunch that Soubi wasn't adverse to the attentions of males.

But then, Kio didn't just want a night spent between the sheets. It wasn't a one-night-stand in the making, but a partnership to come. Kio had plans, and his plans never failed – at least not entirely. They always succeeded one way or another.

The first time Kio asked he was refused. And so went the second and the third, and many other times after that, but Kio did not give up so easily. He inserted himself in Soubi's life until they were by all definitions friends. To the point where even Soubi couldn't deny it.

Kio just didn't give up.

2. Kio was born without the gene for shame, and Soubi didn't seem to be too troubled by shame either. He proved the perfect model that Kio had been looking for, to the point where he didn't have to look any further. Soubi's expression was enigmatic, a face made to be painted. His fine, attractively built body didn't hurt either.

So the first chance a nude study came up, Kio asked even though they only had technically been friends for a month or two. Soubi agreed.

"I'll do it, but I won't tell even if you ask," Soubi told him.

Kio looked quizzically at him, mouth half-open to ask what on Earth Soubi was going on about...and then he saw them. As Soubi pulled off his shirt and the dressings about his neck, the fingerprints of past gashes, past sorrows.


"I told you," Soubi said.

Beyond the scars, Soubi's body was beautiful. He didn't have a bit of fat on him, the muscles over his abdomen lean and well built. If Kio had really thought about it, he would've assumed Soubi was one of those gym-loving types. Gym bunny, gym rat, – whatever rodent it was that made up the term. He couldn't have imagined then the tale the scars would tell him later. He thought those rumors of that game and Fighters and Sacrifices was the kind of urban legend teenagers believed in. Who would believe in such a thing?

The scars on Soubi's neck revealed one word in a circle of thorns: Beloved.

It left him with a lingering sliver, a nagging thought. Who considered him their 'Beloved'? What kind of lover would leave scars like that? Or was it another, a longer-kept pain?

But he didn't ask any of those. He'd sworn that he wouldn't, and he had a feeling that if he asked, Soubi would walk right out and leave. Kio painted his subject that night but he left out the scars. They were his secret; his and Soubi's together. The skin he painted was clean, pure and pristine. It had no marks or gravestones to the agony a man had endured so long ago.

Kio didn't know what had happened yet, but he had a feeling it had something to do with Seimei.

It always came back to Seimei in the end.

3. There was an all night coffeehouse than Kio frequented quite often; a local brand that he could swear tasted all the better for not being mass-produced. It was called Coup D'état, and a haven for all the young artists that gathered in that prefecture for all night wanderings. Mondays had poetry readings, which Kio only visited if he was in dire need of a laugh. Overwrought angst was not his style, and Mondays was when the methheads and the heroin users tended to crawl from the cracks. Coup D'état really did bring in an eclectic crowd, and in truth, that was half its appeal. He could spend hours people watching with people who were far more interesting than the types that went to the Starbucks of the world.

He could laugh behind his hands or take a quick sketch of a stolen moment. Frozen in time on his sketchpad was the rough hands of a worker, the dead eyes of a junkie, the cynical eyes of a goth poet.

But secrets like this were made to be shared, and so one time he had dragged Soubi along. You could tell a lot about how people liked their coffee. He didn't ask his other artist friends, not Yuki or Marii or Kei, just Soubi. It was Soubi's secrets he was most interested in. Soubi always asked for coffee that was almost black, though Kio did convince him to try a dark chocolate mocha once. He never could quite tell if Soubi liked it or not. He and Soubi spent the night passing coffee-stained sketch pads about and drawing each face they saw. The night turned into daylight and they just kept on. When it was too late – or early – to pretend otherwise, they swaggered out, hungover on lack of sleep, drunk on drawing, drunk on life.

5. Kio wasn't big on respecting privacy or personal space – both of which Soubi had too much by his personal reckoning. He wouldn't go so far as to tear through someone's room for a diary or open their mail, but if something was left in the open, unattended, then it was ripe for the plundering. By Kio's reckoning, if someone left it out like that – without a lock or some kind of personal watch, then they wanted him to look. This coupled with an insatiable sense of curiosity made Kio equal parts five year old and eager kitten who just found a box to climb into.

And Soubi left his art case right there next to Kio's table before he went home.

Soubi did weird, complex things. Dark chaotic drawings that were a tangle of thorns and blood and flying psychedelic ravens. Considering the mesh of scars, all those tangled knots of damaged flesh, Kio expected nothing less. Painting was an expression of one's soul, and the colors of Soubi's were the darkest black. Not the dark, evil, sort – but the tormented type who hadn't found their way out of a long, dark night and were still fumbling for the light of day.

Kio quirked his mouth into a thoughtful half smile. Just as he had predicted, there were plenty of the dark things Soubi liked to do.

There were triangles and an exercise in cubism for a class, then the usual dark, gloomy landscapes with ravens and brush that Soubi liked. A chaotic abstract, a picture that verged on BDSM, and then... A picture of himself. Another, and another, and another. A laugh, a smile, a frown that verged on characterizing (he did inot/I look that much like a spoiled child, thank you very much).

These were painted in softer strokes, not the thick charcoal that dug into the paper and left marks like that of claws as it was dragged down.

These were mere whispers, tickles against the paper. He'd never seen this kind of quality. Compared to all the pent up anguish that made up most of Soubi's work, this one was almost happy.


"You left your things here," Kio said in a sing-songy voice.

Soubi grunted and lifted up the case. If he noticed anything amiss he didn't say anything. Wasn't that like him, so full of secrets that it only came out of him in drawn chaos, bled to the pages of his sketch pads.

But now Kio knew a secret too: his plan was working. Soubi was softening in hidden ways. A part of him was unfolding, a part of him was soft and unknown and could show the gentle lines of a smile. A laugh. An inaccurate rendering of anger that was drawn so affectionately that Kio could practically see the hint of a smile that must've been on Soubi's face then. And one day he would learn all about the Aoyagis, about Seimei and then Ritsuka and the scars, but now was just a first step. A window to Soubi's soul through portraits. How funny. Maybe he left them there on purpose, maybe he didn't.

"Wanna go to Coup D'état tonight? It's Amateur Slam Poetry tonight."

Soubi smirked. He took the case and slipped his fingers through the handle.

"Fine, I'll come."

"I'll help you with your homework you know– Whatcha got? I've got Impressionism. You too?"

Did he know? Maybe. Probably. Possibly.

Soubi made an expression that could almost be interpreted as a smile. Almost.

"Yes, me too."