The battle was supposed to be easy. It was supposed to be so simple to beat these two, who call themselves Lifeless. They heard about the rumored Zero pair, the ones that could feel nothing, physically, at least. It was a spell battle, between Zero, Youji and Natsuo, and Lifeless, Akira and Kouta. Anyone would think that the Zeros would win. Anyone… even Lifeless themselves half-expected it. So why….
"NATSUO!" the sacrifice yelled. Youji staggered forward, gasping for breath, reaching out for his fighter. The maroon-haired boy fell forward and hit the ground with a thud. Akira, the fighter of the pair, stepped back from the damaged he caused, flipping his navy blue hair back over his shoulder, laughing manically. Kouta, the sacrifice, heaved a sigh of relief, but was confused to why the fighter had fallen as to the sacrifice. The one with the mint-colored hair looked weaker anyway, he thought scornfully.
Youji held Natsuo in his arms and shook him, trying to wake him up, calling out his name, and even pinching his cheek once, desperately trying to awaken his fallen partner. "Natsuo, no… what happened…" Youji violently glared at Lifeless, especially the blue haired one. "What happened?"
"My spell had a better effect than I thought… either that, or Zero is weaker than we thought, right Kouta?" he turned to his sacrifice.
"Right, I see, but what did you do, exactly?" Kouta titled his head to one side, his brown hair getting into his eyes.
"It was a spell, as you know, but it doesn't affect the body of the victim, so the pain isn't transferred to the sacrifice. It quietly shuts down the soul and, if used to the best of its ability, can leave the body nothing but an empty shell. Luckily for you," Akira said, turning back to the two boys, "I went easy on you. At best, he'll just be in a coma."
"Akira! That's going too far! I know the other times it was necessary, but these are just kids!" called out Kouta. The fighter narrowed his eyes, still smiling, and said, "If we didn't kill them, then it would've been us. We're done here, let's go." Akira walked away, grabbing Kouta by the hand and pulling him away with him. The Zeros were alone.
"Natsuo, please, don't do this." Youji cradled the unconscious Natsuo in his arms. The latter's breathing was getting more and more shallow. Dammit, Youji thought, I need help, I need- , he stopped himself, shaking his head. He had to swallow his pride. He gently laid Natsuo on the ground and got out his cell phone.
Ring ring, ring ring –"Hello?"
"Soubi!" Youji choked on his own words.
Sensing the distressing his voice, Soubi voiced his concern.
"Soubi, please, come over to the park. Natsuo, he…" he couldn't continue.
It took them a few minutes to drive over to the specified place, but a few minutes that Natsuo couldn't afford. His breathing was getting more labored and shallow. When Soubi finally got there, the maroon-haired boy was ghostly pale and Youji ran over to him.
"Help him! We have to get him back home." Youji begged, tugging at the blonde's shirt.
Soubi nodded and went over to him and lifted Natsuo up into his arms. Soubi, although he didn't show it, was startled about how cold Natsuo was. They walked over to the car, and Soubi laid Natsuo in the back, and Youji sat in the passenger seat. They drove in silence the whole way home.
Youji glided his hand across his partner's chest as he was lying on the bed. On his back his breathing had gotten a little more even, but besides that, he was in bad shape, or so said Soubi. Natsuo's skin felt soft and cold, not that he could feel it, as Youji sighed and withdrew his hand. When hadn't he been by my side, he thought. Natsuo never left him when he was unconscious some months ago, so Youji wouldn't leave him. He looked over Natsuo's eye patch. He didn't know how he got it; he just started wearing it one day. When asked about it, Natsuo just laughed it off and went on to another subject.
Hearing the door open and close, Youji turned around to see that guy. Ritsuka's eyes showed concern. Youji tried to flash a mischievous smile, as he would any other day, but due to the situation, it came out a little awkward. Ritsuka went over and looked him in the eyes. "You don't have to pretend." He said sternly.
"What are you talking about?" Youji looked away, not being able to hold his gaze. "He'll wake up soon enough, and when he does, you better watch out…" Youji tried once again to smile but he choked on the last few words, tears were gathering in his eyes. "Ritsuka, I… I don't know what to do… He, Natsuo, didn't have to take that blow… I'm the sacrifice. I should have protected him."
"That's exactly what he said when you were out." said Soubi, who was standing in the doorway. "But, in my opinion, you're doing the best thing you can do." He pushed his glasses up and walked away. Ritsuka look back and forth between Soubi and Youji, and then walked back through the door.
Natsuo slightly stirred in his bed, and Youji ran back to him. "Natsuo!" he cried, wiping his tears away.
"Yo- Youji…." He whispered faintly, reaching out his hand. Youji earnestly grabbed it and held it close to him. Natsuo smiled and his head lolled to the side. Again, his breathing began to sound labored and painful. Youji's ears and tail drooped.
"Natsuo?" he didn't respond. "Na… Natsuo!" Youji shook his shoulders a little bit. Natsuo gasped. Youji stood very still hands just hovering over his maroon-haired partner's shoulders. Green eyes fluttered open just a crack and a weary, yet mischievous, smile spread across his pale lips.
"Youji, you stayed. I'm… so…happy." He closed his eyes once again but this time, his breathing stopped altogether.
"No… No!" Youji lifted his best friend's head and he pressed his cold lips against his own. Natsuo's eyes twitched a bit and he gasped for breath. Breathing heavily, Natsuo cuddled closer to Youji's body, attracted to the warmth of it. Youji hugged Natsuo and stayed liked that until he fell asleep.
When he woke the next morning and Natsuo was still there. Youji hastily checked for a heartbeat. He placed his hand over Natsuo's chest, and, although it was faint, it was there. Youji sighed a breath of relief.
"Hey, Youji, eat some breakfast, would y-" Soubi's friend came thru the door, but came to a halt when he saw Youji leaning over Natsuo's half-naked body. Kio didn't say anything for awhile, but then just simply walked out the door. "They still have their ears, at least." He mumbled. After he left, Youji was still over his friend, and he quietly laughed to himself. "If you where awake, we could've gone farther with that joke…" he said to himself.
Back at the park, Lifeless and the Zero stare each other down. Akira was, as always, smiling a cool, knowing smile, as Kouta, standing behind him, was looking down, not being able to meet Youji's eyes. Akira stepped forward and spread out his hands in a mock welcoming gesture. "You called us here, so what do you want? A rematch, with only you? You want to avenge your fallen partner?"
"He's not dead yet. But…" Youji pulled off the first smile, the mischievous one that he used when he fought Soubi for the first time; he did for a long time, "You're going down for sure!"
"You idiot," called Kouta, "you're the sacrifice! You'll kill yourself!" the words were filled with a caring warning. He really hated seeing people hurt, but because he was tagged along with Akira, it was common occurrence.
The hair on the back of Youji's neck stood when he sensed the familiar pull, the pull that a sacrifice felt when his fighter was calling him. No way, he thought. He abruptly glanced behind his back, and there in all his maroon-haired glory, was Natsuo, trying to catch his breath. Youji ran over to him and embraced his newly recovered companion. "Youji, did you really think I was down for good? Give me some credit!" he knocked on his best friend's forehead. Upon hearing Natsuo speak again, Youji felt a large lump in his throat.
Swallowing the lump, he said "You wanna try again?"
"Then let's beat them to a pulp!"
"Well there's only one thing left to do…" Youji painfully got up and reached into his pocket.
"What's that?" Natsuo also got up and rubbed a bump on his head. He thought it's going to bruise, not that he could tell or anything.
"Call Soubi; tell him to pick us up, and make his friend cook us food!"
"I second that!" Natsuo pumped his fist into the air. He sighed and let himself fall back onto the grass once again. "I'm sick of sleeping, though. Let's do something tonight!"
Youji raised an eyebrow and smirked. "What do you suggest?" Natsuo crawled over and whispered into his ear. They both nodded. "Sounds good!" they said simultaneously.
"Come one, Youji! Push it in harder!"
"Here I… It's not working! How do people do this?"
"Don't you want to be a man?"
Kio slammed the door open, "What the hell is going on in here?"
Natsuo and Youji looked up sheepishly from their board game. "I can't get the blue piece into the car."
"Yeah, the pink pieces fit in so much better, so why can't you just pretend it's blue?"
Kio looked down to see the game Life spread out across the floor. "At this hour? You know what," he put his hands up in surrender, "do whatever. I give up, besides, this scenario is better than the one I was thinking of."
Youji and Natsuo looked at each other and laughed. "Good times, good times."