Hello all! I'm not dead! Really I'm not! There's just been a TON going on! I managed to grab a breath at Christmas and write an Inuyasha Christmas fic, but everything else has been horribly, horribly neglected. I am trying to rectify that and this seemed like a good place to start. So now, because you've waited long enough:

Chapter 3

Ritsuka blinked, watching the boy walk across the room. It was so strange to see him there looking so alike and yet, simultaneously, completely different. There were the small differences; He was shorter, thinner in a slightly lanky way, his face somewhat fresher with youth, his eyes... He couldn't quite place the eyes. They weren't the same and yet...

Then there were the big, obvious things that drew his attention; his pale, unmarred throat and, more startlingly, the two golden ears that glimmered atop his head, perfect and beautiful for all their strangeness. They matched the silky tail that flowed gracefully behind him as he went to stand besides Ritsu, his eyes trailing over Ritsuka curiously.

"LOVELESS," Ritsu began, snapping Ritsuka back to the matter at hand. He gestured slightly to where Soubi stood at his left. "Meet Agatsuma Soubi-kun. Soubi, this is Ritsuka. He will be attending the academy as of this Monday."

Soubi tilted his head slightly, confused as to Ritsu's motivation. He'd never cared if Soubi met the new students before, never encouraged any sort of socialization. In fact, through his favoritism, he'd practically done the exact opposite. Soubi had never been sure whether that was intentional or not. It had just been.

And so why, he wondered, was he being introduced to this boy? He didn't seem like anything exceptional. He was cute though, a few inches shorter than himself, with big eyes and hair so black it shone. His ears were twitching around nervously, towards every little sound. He looked like an anxious kitten, liable to run at any moment, and he wondered if Ritsu noticed this too. If so, he gave no indication of it.

"Hello Ritsuka." Soubi replied, smiling, his head tilting a bit to the side, and though his hair only reached his shoulders the fine strands still managed to flow like water with the movement. "It's nice to meet you."

"Oh, um, it's nice to meet you too", he stammered, blinking himself out of a daze he hadn't been aware he'd been in.

This whole situation was just so unbelievably strange. Sitting on this couch, in this room, in a building he'd been in before. Talking to people he'd spoken to before, talking to Soubi. And yet none of them knew him. Because he had yet to ever come here...only he had...

It was enough to make his head hurt, and if his mind wasn't already overwhelmed with the boy before him, than maybe he'd have noticed the dull ache in his skull. But he hadn't. All he could think was that Soubi's voice seemed softer...more...something. What that something was, however, was just one more thing added to the list of things he didn't know.

Pulling him from his swirling thoughts, Ritsu began to speak once more.

"Soubi. It appears my plans for the day have been altered." Ritsu moved as he spoke, walked over to his desk, shuffling through papers and such, his voice filled with authority and yet somehow seeming careless. Soubi didn't move from where he stood, his eyes moving over Ritsuka a bit before following his teacher. Sitting on the couch, Ritsuka took in the strange interaction. "Ritsuka is to be your new roommate" he continued, "Until the time when his own fighter appears. I don't know how long that'll be so I suggest you get along. Anyways, you are to spend the day showing him around."

"But Sensei, does that mean-?"

For the first time since Soubi'd entered the room, Ritsu turned to look at him, and when he did his eyes locked onto his immediately, bright with meaning.

"It means", his voice was purposefully slow. "That there shall be no training today. However, tomorrow, when things have returned to normal", his eyes flickered in Ritsuka's direction, "that training shall resume as well."

For a moment no one spoke, the silence heavy in the room. Shifting in the tension, Ritsuka couldn't help feeling as if he were intruding somehow, seeing something he shouldn't, and for a moment he had the insane urge to close his eyes. To give them some sort of privacy in which to have this seemingly mundane conversation.

And then it was gone, passed with the minutes, and he found himself increasingly glad that he hadn't. Especially considering that whatever Ritsu had said while he;d been out of it, Soubi was now looking at him quite intently, curiously. One of his ears was twitching slightly, drawing attention to the anomaly.

They just...didn't belong...

"Are you ready to go?"

Ritsuka blinked, still unused to this strange voice coming from this strange form of his friend, but nodded anyways. If Soubi found his silence odd he didn't mention it, as Ritsuka got up to follow him. He did however seem surprised that he didn't have any luggage, bags, anything at all to his name. His eyes swam with curiosity again, his ears twitching, but took Ritsuka's silence as a hint and didn't bring it up again instead just assuring him that Ritsu would get him things...probably. Or Nagisa maybe.

Ritsuka wasn't exactly sold on either, but just shrugged, allowing himself to be led down the hall.

It was quiet, he noted. He supposed that the students were probably all in class, though what they learned here was beyond him. Sure, they learned about fighter-sacrifice things, but what about normal school activities? What about math, or literature?

"The dorms are this way." Soubi instructed, looking back at the strange boy behind him. He was small, his head probably reaching Soubi's chin or so, his cat ears and eyes each seeming rather large on his pale face. He wasn't speaking, but his eyes were darting around taking everything in but at the same time not really seeming to see it, and watching him look so small and lost, it was almost as if he seemed infinitely younger. He couldn't be too young though, he remembered. Ritsu had mentioned him waiting for his fighter, so he had to be at least twelve.

Pulling his eyes away, he frowned, struck by an uncomfortably familiar pang of envy.

Even this boy, as small and strange and new as he was, had a fighter of his own. A name, and someone he belonged to. Belonged with. He may be alone now, but he'd find his fighter soon enough and then he'd never have to be alone again. Not ever, for the rest of his life.

Quite unlike himself...

Forcing it down, he forced himself to smile a bit.

"So", he asked to distract himself. "How old are you?"

"What? Oh, um. Twelve. Almost thirteen." His eyes narrowed a little bit, thoughtfully, before... "You?"

Discreetly nibbling on the inside of his lip, Ritsuka waited anxiously for the answer, unable to believe he hadn't thought of it before. He'd realized he was in the past, but had yet to learn just how far back he'd gone. He knew Soubi was twenty however. If he knew his currant age, it'd be easy enough to figure out the year.

Ritsuka was so absorbed in his reasoning that he didn't notice Soubi's eyes widen marginally in surprise. "Fifteen", he replied softly.

So that was is. For whatever reason, Seimei had somehow sent him back five years. He breathed a sigh of relief at having one less question floating through his mind, the only big one remaining being: Why? What did Seimei hope would come of this? What did he want?

The only thing he could imagine was that he wanted him to see something, or do something maybe? Did he want him to affect the time stream?

Ritsuka gasped as the thought struck him. Was this affecting time itself? Had he already drastically altered the future? And if so, was there anything he could do to make it right?

Was there anything he could do to keep it the same?

Was there anything he could do at all?

"Are you alright?"

Blinking his large eyes, Ritsuka found Soubi looking back at him, a strange look on his face.

"You're making faces." he pointed out, tilting his head again. "is something wrong Ritsuka?"

Ritsuka could do nothing but blink in response, looking up at the boy as the words struck him. Words so familiar to him by now, words Soubi had said so many times, and while the voice was off the infliction remained the same. And to hear them from this boy in front of him, the boy so similar and yet startlingly different from the man he knew...

It was as if suddenly something in his brain had clicked, found some magical way to lock together and like puzzle pieces, when connected, revealed a picture. The truth. And for the first time he seemed to really realize the gravity of the situation.

This was Soubi.

His Soubi.

The same Soubi he'd spent so much time with. That hugged him and kissed him and confused him beyond belief. And who he'd sometimes, at night, pretend actually loved him.

The one who'd lie and keep secrets and never talk about his past. And yet...

And yet here he was, plopped down directly in the middle of that past he hid so adamantly, staring at the part of himself that Soubi had never shared. He had an all access pass to everything he'd ever wanted to know about the man, everything he'd kept a secret, and what's more he could get it first hand.

It was a startling realization that left him somewhat shaken, but somehow he managed to nod.

"Yeah, yeah I'm alright."

"Alright then." Soubi didn't sound entirely convinced, but yet again this small detail went right over the younger boy's head. "This is the room."

They were standing at the end of a long hallway, in front of a rather ordinary looking door. Opening it, Soubi gestured for him to enter, and doing so he was struck by it's... normalcy.

He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting from this room, but certainly not this. It was like a hotel room. Standing in the doorway there was a large window on the wall in front of him, open and gazing out across the campus. They were apparently on the second floor, though Ritsuka couldn't remember climbing any stairs, something he regretted. He shouldn't have zoned out; How on Earth was he going to find his way back?

Brushing the thought off for now, he continued to look around. Two his left were two full size beds, each neatly made and separated only by the nightstand that lay between them. Their headboards were against the far left wall, their feet facing out towards the center of the room. To the right was a desk, with a computer, and bookcase on one side of the wall, a fridge and pantry. There was a chair near the center of the wall, lined up almost exactly with the nightstand, that seemed to divide the room in two.

It was positively...ordinary. Except...

"Why are there two beds?" he blurted, regretting the words the second he said them. Closing the door behind him, he watched as Soubi's mouth twitched up, his eyes crinkling a bit.

"You were expecting to share? Already?"

"N-no!" He snapped, his face heating up in a way that really was quite adorable. "It's just that Ritsu said you'd never had a roommate before so why..."

His words trailed off in his flurry of embarrassment, ears drooping, and Soubi found himself almost wanting to laugh. He probably would have if not for the question at hand. For it's answer...

"They don't make single rooms", he replied, heading towards the fridge. "Pairs stay together. Always. I just....don't have a pair. A sacrifice that is." Popping open a can of soda he was almost proud of himself for his tone. He sounded absolutely unbothered by the whole thing, and Ritsuka was sure to believe that that was the case. "Would you like a soda? I've got orange and strawberry..."

As Soubi began to list soda's Ritsuka frowned. It was subtle, but it was a distraction, he knew. A dismissal from the topic. Something imperceptible to most but that Ritsuka had learned in his time spent with Soubi. It was a strategy the boy hadn't grown out of at that Ritsuka had become quite familiar with.

That being said, he could almost hit himself for forgetting. He knew that Soubi didn't have a sacrifice, knew that Soubi was blank, and didn't know how that fact could have slipped his mind. It was that fact alone that allowed future Soubi to be with him at all...

He also noticed how Soubi hadn't felt the need to offer that information. Choosing not to pry, he shook his head.

"No thanks." Yawning he motioned towards the beds. "Which one is yours?"

"That one", he replied, leaning against the small, two person table that sat off center in the room, in front of the fridge. It formed something like a little kitchen area, with a small microwave on the wall between the fridge and the pantry, hovering above two smalls squares of cabinet space. There was a sink embedded in the cabinet closest to the fridge.

Soubi pointed to the bed closest to the door.

Nodding his thanks, Ritsuka looked around a bit more, finding one more door. The bed that was now Ritsuka's was next to a small wall that only came out a little farther than the bed itself. The back wall with the window was set further inwards and there was a wall connecting the two. That was where the other door lay, which Soubi informed him was the bathroom as he entered it, searching around to see if there was a spare toothbrush lying around.

While he searched Ritsuka allowed himself to fall onto the perfectly made bed. It was cool and soft, feeling very much like a hotel bed, and after uncovering one of the pillows her curled himself around it. Lying there, listening to the rummaging through the wall, lost not only in a strange place but a strange time, he couldn't help feeling very, very small. Small, overwhelmed, and tired.

Yawning, he squeezed the pillow tighter, closing his eyes and pressing them into the pillow. Torn between the wish to stay and the desire to return home, he drifted off to sleep.

Which was exactly how Soubi found him when he emerged. He'd been telling him that he hadn't found anything, half way through the sentence, but stopped when he saw him.

It was such an odd sight to see anyone else in this room. He didn't have friends to come over, had been all but alienated by now. He had classmates, but they were so different from him. All paired off. The only person he really had was Ritsu, but that was nowhere near the same. Ritsu wasn't someone he could talk to about trivial things, or laugh and joke with, or tell his secrets to. He was just his teacher, part parental figure. And even Ritsu had only ever been in here a handful of times over the years.

Frowning, he watched the boy sleep. He was by no means relaxed, his eyebrows bunched slightly, ears and tail twitching, arms gripping the pillow like a lifeline. He was younger then him but...not so much. Just three years really. Looking down at him, that seemed so hard to believe.

Had he ever done that, he wondered? Held onto something like that, seeking comfort? He supposed he must have tried it at some point, but couldn't remember.

Shifting, the boy snuggled deeper into the pillow, mumbling, and while it sounded like a bunch of nonsense, he could make out the words, 'No more toast.'

Blinking, he found himself chuckling before he could stop himself. Shaking his head, he found himself walking to the small closet, pulling a blanket from the top shelf. Ritsuka was sleeping on the bed's, but there were others. Covering him, he couldn't help but quirk an eyebrow and wonder. Just what would it be like to live with someone?

What would it be like to have a roommate, if only for a little while?

OMG! I ACTUALLY WROTE ANOTHER CHAPTER! I was having writer's block so bad, so I'm sorry if the beginning is a little rough. Also, if the description of the room is kind of monotonous. But I think I'm finally getting a handle on Soubi. Young Soubi :) I hope I didn't do too bad a job! ALSO! CHECK THIS OUT:




Much love!