Fandom(s): Loveless and Star Ocean 2.
Crossover Note: Leon is the only thing from Star Ocean 2. He crossed over into the Loveless realm. For those not familiar with Dr. Leon Gehste of SO2, he is a professor (at age 12), and he does have cat ears. He does not, however, have
Content Notes: Mild blood, references to violence.
Chapter Word Count: 4018 words.
Total Word Count: 13,626 words.
Summary: Dr. Leon Gehste is experimenting with his newest spell when something goes wrong. Suddenly, he is flung, not through realities, but back through time. Stranded when he can't get the spell to work again, he settles in for the long haul, blending in as best he can. This means school (elementary school at that), where he meets an interesting individual.
[[ … Chapter Three: Variance ….. ]]
There was something wrong. Leon twisted around, trying to get a really good, clean view of the crest on his shoulder, trying to determine how bad the redness really was. He could barely move the arm without pain shooting across his back, and- his eyes narrowed- was that something leaking out of the scab? He swallowed and quickly looked away, his gaze pausing on the first aid supplies he had managed to collect since arriving. It just didn't seem like it would ever be enough.
He drew another breath and just as he reached around to try to start cleaning it again, he heard something. His ears twitched back, and he looked up toward the bathroom door, frowning as he stood up, rolling his shoulders a little, trying to push back the discomfort the motion brought. He started to call out, but then stopped himself; Claude had shown him horror movies on the flight from Expel to Earth. He knew what happened to the idiot that called out 'hello.' Instead, he braced himself and let his senses flare out- something he'd been trying to tightly reign for the past several hours.
His crests flared into life, causing a fresh gush of something down his back. Gritting his teeth, he ignored it and stepped into the main room in the apartment (only the bathroom was set off with a door). He scowled, throwing the towel he hadn't realized that he'd been gripping in his hands at the intruder. Mostly in the window already, Soubi tugged on his other leg and closed the glass carefully behind him, then reached up and locked it.
"You shouldn't leave your windows open, Leon-kun."
Leon sighed, his shoulders dropping. He gave up. There clearly was no moral or ethical code by which these people seemed to live, and certainly no sense of privacy. "What are you doing here, Soubi-nii-san?"
The blond walked over to him slowly, leaning down to really look at him. It was only when Leon reached up to push him away that he realized what Soubi was looking at. The crests were all lit up from the pain in his shoulder, and since he was wearing only a pair of jeans, the glowing patterns were impossible to miss. He flushed, reached for the lab coat he'd kept and moved to tug it on.
At his wince, Soubi took it from him and stepped around him, dropping to one knee to look at Leon's back. His touch was cool, soothing, and Leon shivered under it, wondering vaguely why he felt like he couldn't move. No one had ever touched him so delicately, as though he were something fragile. Not him, the child prodigy of Lacuer.
"It's infected. Hurts?"
Leon swallowed, then he nodded. "When I move it," he whispered, and Soubi led him back into the bathroom, where he took over the cleaning process. Leon hated to admit it, but he was grateful. Had he thought, even for a moment, that the teleport crest was going to give him this much trouble, he would have had it tattooed elsewhere. … Not that he had any other space on his body large enough for it that could be exposed to air quickly enough to use.
"What is it?" Soubi's touch was tender along the inflamed skin as he worked, and Leon closed his eyes, willing himself to relax.
"A crest," he answered after a minute of debate. Soubi claimed to be some sort of spell-casting Sentouki; he couldn't laugh at anything Leon told him. Ever. "It..." He clenched his fist and committed himself; all or nothing. "It's for a spell."
The touch didn't stop, and Leon breathed out a quiet breath of relief as Soubi asked, "A spell?"
Leon nodded, and he felt something cold touching his back. Rubbing alcohol, from the smell of it. He had honestly not been entirely certain what to do with the first aid supplies he'd collected, and he was grateful for Soubi's arrival, no matter how unorthodox. He glanced in the mirror, suddenly pleased to see that he could watch what Soubi was doing. The man looked very intent on his work, his long hair spilling down his back, his eyes focused and sharp behind his glasses. A small smile touched Leon's face.
"Yeah. Doesn't work though. I used it too soon and some of the ink washed out."
"It won't ever work without the ink?" The little cotton ball was set aside, and then Soubi was squeezing something over his fingers out of a small tube. This 'medicine' didn't have a smell, oddly enough. Leon wrinkled his nose a little as he tried to twist around to look once more at the crest on his back. Soubi's other fingertips gently lifted and pushed his head back to look in the mirror instead. Leon stuck his tongue out, but obediently stayed still all the same.
"No. The ink is necessary to complete the symbol; it's the symbol itself that gives power. I mean, I suppose you could use regular ink, or even a ..." He faltered only a moment, trying to recall the word, and then he nodded to himself. "Even a marker, if you're precise enough when drawing it. But it has to be exact." Idly, Leon hooked his thumbs into the belt loops on his jeans.
The bandage was very carefully applied, and then Soubi was rocking back on his heels for a moment. Leon turned around, still blushing slightly at the thought of being so vulnerable in front of someone that struck him as being so dangerous. It wasn't that he was uncomfortable being without a shirt on; a heraldic master got used to being unclothed in front of people. It was the fact that Soubi had so gingerly bandaged him up, that Soubi had taken care of him. Leon swallowed. He couldn't remember the last time someone had bandaged one of his crests for him.
"You never answered my question," he finally said softly. Soubi tilted his head and smiled. It was a strange smile; one that whispered of secrets. "What are you doing here?"
A moment, and then Soubi stood, brushing off his knees idly. "Ritsuka sent me. You weren't at school, and he was concerned. Have you eaten yet?"
"This is my house. You can't offer to cook me something in my own house." Leon rubbed his arm and then he frowned all over again as he realized there was another whole set of questions to be asked. "For that matter, how did you even know which apartment was mine?"
"Your battle domain." Soubi apparently had selective hearing though, because he was in the little kitchen area, opening cabinets. "I sensed you."
"And you could tell I was alone?"
Another one of those smiles. "In this building, the first floor is entirely studio apartments." Slowly, the blond closed the cabinet door. "There is nothing here to eat, Leon-kun. What do you normally fix?"
"I... I haven't had time to do much shopping. I tend to buy whatever I'm going to cook that day." He walked over to his dresser and found a t-shirt to pull on. Emblazoned over the front of it was 'It's dangerous to go alone; take this!' with a strangely drawn sword under the words. For whatever reason, Leon found that he liked it in the same way that he had rapidly taken to the jeans. Clothing was strange here, but not bad.
"Mm." Soubi closed the last of the cabinets, turning around just as Leon got the shirt all the way on, wincing slightly as he reached up to rub his shoulder again. "Don't. If you scratch through the bandage, it will get worse."
"It itches, Soubi-nii-san." Leon was aware that he was pouting, but in that moment, that instant, he didn't care. He was sick of being mature and taking care of himself. He was sick of being an adult. Rena and Claude had taught him that it was okay to act his age, and as soon as he had learned that, accepted that as a truth, he'd been jerked away and thrown into a place where it was a lie all over again.
Soubi walked back over to him, crouching down so that he was just above eye-level with Leon. The youth swallowed when Soubi leaned in a little, studying him intently. Just what intent Soubi had, Leon wasn't certain, but something was there. It was in the way he gaze narrowed, in the casual manner that he used when he reached up to brush Leon's hair away from his eyes.
"Your parents don't live here." It wasn't a question, and Leon didn't insult either of them by pretending it was. He stood perfectly still, returning the look as evenly as he could. Dealing with Soubi was like dealing with a volatile compound- you had to be extra careful with any movements you made. Strangely, it made Leon think of Dias, and he ignored how his heart twisted at the thought of any of the people he'd left behind. They wouldn't even be born for another four hundred years; it was impossible to miss someone who hadn't even entered the universe yet, wasn't it?
Leon brushed the thoughts away, turning his attention back to the man in front of him. He reached up and pushed Soubi's glasses up a little, using the motion to steady himself. It might have been incredibly rude by their standards, but given what he'd been put through, he felt as though he'd known Soubi for far longer than only a few hours. "I live here; that's what matters, isn't it?"
Soubi nodded slowly, and he reached up to capture Leon's hand between his own. He pulled Leon's fingers down to his mouth, where he placed the softest kiss that Leon had ever felt. "You can't stay here alone. If the Seven Moons find out about you-"
"How would they?" Leon tilted his head, his brow furrowing as he studied the blond. When Soubi didn't answer, Leon pulled his hand away. "My domain. I still haven't constricted it enough." He looked up, sighing, his ears twitching at the idea. His heraldic training was working against him here; he'd worked most of his life to keep his 'domain' as open as possible, to sense for monsters and other casters alike. Now, it only served to make him a target. "I thought I was getting better."
"You are." Soubi reached up and ruffled Leon's hair before he pushed himself back up to his feet. "You're a fast learner. You'd be faster with a teacher."
"I'm not a Sentouki." Leon's hands clenched into fists. Soubi was right, of course. If he could be instructed, or at least corrected when he did something inefficiently, he would improve much more quickly. He wasn't foolish; he knew that it was perfectly logical. He also knew though that living with someone created risks that he wasn't entirely sure he was prepared to take.
"No, you're not." Soubi's fingers lingered on one Leon's ears for just a moment before he dropped his hand back to his side. "You haven't been trained yet."
Leon's ears flattened. He'd been training since he was old enough to talk. His first crest had been inked when he had been only three, making him the youngest heraldic caster in Expel. But he did his best to give no indication of the insult, instead he nodded slowly. "What are you suggesting then?"
"Move in with me. Doesn't have to be for long. Just until you learn to hide yourself better."
"... I can't." No matter how tempting the offer, it was far beyond what Leon considered an 'acceptable level' of risk. "You already have two living with you, and besides my parents-"
"No one else lives here, Leon-kun." Soubi's smile returned, and Leon flushed, looking away from him quickly. "I'm not going to even try to guess why you don't have parents living with you. To be fair, unless it affects Ritsuka..." Soubi paused just long enough to watch Leon shake his head violently. "Then I don't care. But Ritsuka cares about you, and you living here alone is a risk. One that will affect him, whether you mean it to or not."
Leon hesitated. No matter how much he didn't want to be a burden, no matter how much he wanted to just fit in, it seemed that he was doomed to cause more problems than even he could solve.
"At least until your shoulder heals then?" Soubi reached down and tilted Leon's head up, encouraging him to look at the blond. "You will need someone to help you care for it. And if it gets worse, it would be safer to stay with someone." His hand slid back into Leon's hair, pulling Leon closer to him. Slowly, their foreheads touched together, and Soubi looked at him over those glasses.
They stayed just like that for a minute, Leon's brow furrowing as he tried to figure out Soubi's game, as he tried to determine what exactly was going on. Nothing was ever this simple; normal people didn't think this way. That thought brought a small smile to his lips. After all, when had he ever been normal? He swallowed then and nodded against Soubi, his eyes closing. "Just until my shoulder heals," he agreed quietly. Soubi smiled- Leon didn't have to see it to know it was there- then pressed a soft kiss to Leon's forehead before he moved.
He flipped open his phone, and Leon tilted his head as he watched Soubi tap out a text message to someone. Ritsuka, probably, given their connection to one another. Leon sighed and reached for his lab coat, pulling it close to his nose, breathing in the lingering scent that clung to it. Claude had been so close to him for most of the trip from Expel, and Leon had even stayed in Claude's quarters. His smell still clung to the white fabric; it was Leon's tiny slice of home.
By the time he had centered himself once more, Soubi was already gathering Leon's clothes, most still in their shopping bags, tags only pulled off when Leon went to pull them on. A small smile crossed Soubi's lips, but he didn't say anything as he folded things and put everything in a single bag to carry. Leon glanced over at the small stack of books in the corner- mostly technical manuals designed to instruct him on how everything from plumbing to electricity worked in this society- and he dropped to his knees as he began to put those in a bag as well.
It was probably not a good thing that it only took them a few minutes to get all of Leon's belongings ready for travel and that just the two of them could carry everything with no trouble, but Leon didn't let himself think about it too much. He certainly didn't let himself remember the room he'd had in Lacuer, filled from floor to ceiling with books on spells and monsters and plant-life; or even Claude's room on the ship, with its 'lived-in' appearance due to clothes and everything else scattered all over the place. And when Leon turned the key to lock the door, he swallowed, feeling as though everything was beginning to spiral out of his control. He didn't like the sensation crawling under his skin, and he shouldered his bag carefully, not letting his discomfort show. He could feel Soubi's gaze on him.
Then a hand lightly landed on his shoulder, pulled him close, and Leon leaned into the heat of Soubi's body, his eyes sliding closed. Instinctively, his senses flared out around himself, and, with considerable effort, he reigned them back in, knowing that it was a dangerous habit to have. He opened his eyes when Soubi chuckled, and for just a moment, he felt it bubbling up: the biting retort that he normally would have fired off. It died on his tongue when he saw Soubi's face, the genuine happiness that lit the Sentouki. Any discomfort over the idea of being laughed at faded.
They walked in silence until Leon couldn't stand it any longer, and he finally asked quietly, "How am I going to explain this to Ritsuka-kun?"
"However you like."
Leon lifted his gaze to study Soubi's face, to really look at the expression there. "Soubi-nii-san," he started slowly, drawing a deep breath to brace himself; he hadn't learned how to ask something like this until he'd traveled with Claude, and it still didn't come naturally to him, "will you train me as a Sentouki? Teach me?" There was a sudden stillness between them, and Leon swallowed, instinctively knowing that the question was a loaded one. Hesitantly, he reached out and touched Soubi's wrist. "Please?"
Soubi looked down at him for a moment, and then he looked back ahead of them. They had reached Soubi's place before the blond finally murmured, "I will teach you what I can." It was said so quietly that Leon almost missed it.
He nodded and smiled though, willing himself to behave 'normally,' at least as best he could. "Thank you."
The door opened just as they reached it, and another young man- about Soubi's age- stood there, a white stick in his mouth, the earrings in his ear making a soft jingle when he moved. He smiled at Soubi, but the expression faltered just a moment when he looked down at Leon. Leon blinked, and, sensing another explosion of emotion that he wasn't sure he could handle, he purposely widened his eyes as far as they could, dropped his shoulders, and let his lips part just a little, the epitome of shyness and nerves.
"Soubi-nii-san," he murmured, reaching up and wrapping one hand around Soubi's forearm. The young man in the door smiled slowly before he stepped aside, allowing them entrance.
"'Nii-san?'" He tugged the door shut behind them, and Soubi deposited Leon's things in the middle of the room.
"Leon-kun, meet Kio-kun." A small smile was on the Sentouki's face, and Kio squatted down to look at Leon eye-to-eye. Leon purposely kept his eyes wide, and he smiled hesitantly, reaching out a hand to Kio. "Leon-kun will be staying with me for a little while," Soubi called as he rolled up his sleeves and stepped into the kitchenette.
"A please to meet you," Leon murmured, and Kio shook his hand, raising an eyebrow at the motion. "My parents had to return to America for a family emergency on my mother's side. Soubi-nii-san was kind enough to offer me a place to stay so that I don't have to change schools again this year."
"That..." Kio hesitated, and then twisted to look at Soubi for a moment before his attention returned to Leon. "That's very kind of him. You're American then?"
"Not exactly." Leon fidgeted, looking down briefly before he glanced up at Kio. He reached up to brush his hair from his eyes, his ears flattening just slightly. "I'm Japanese, but my mother has family in the United States. In Seattle."
Leon heard Soubi's little chuckle, and he shot a quick glare into the blond's back. Then Kio was reaching up to touch his ears, and Leon stilled, his breath coming in shallowly before he ducked away from Kio's touch. Another person without ears clearly having some sort of strange fascination with them.
"It's funny," Kio said with a little laugh as Leon began moving the few bags of his things against a nearby wall. "Your hair and eyes are the exact same shade, but your ears are different. Is your tail brown too?"
Another bland smile, and Leon reached for the knotted jacket around his waist. Kio clearly took the smile as a 'yes,' because then he was speaking again, and Leon took the moment to dart over to Soubi's side, taking over salting the water for pasta. Soubi let him, reaching to ruffle Leon's hair just slightly. Both of them looked up when there was a little groan from the bed tucked away in the corner.
A pillow shot across the room toward Kio, and the young man caught it with a laugh. "You have to be faster than that," he called, and there was another plaintive groan from the bed, and a flash of movement as the blankets were pulled up over the occupants. Kio crossed the room to stand near Soubi and Leon, lowering his voice slightly as he pulled the white stick from his mouth. "To be honest, I forgot they were in here," he said with a little laugh.
Leon smiled as he adjusted the heat on the pot, and Soubi handed Kio a plate of vegetables. Without question, Kio began chopping them up, and Leon's smile widened in to a grin. It was the second night in a row that Soubi had managed to pass off that duty to someone else. Perhaps he didn't like cutting up the vegetables when he didn't have to?
Soubi took the moment to check his phone, and then he had stepped outside to type a message out on it. Ritsuka must have responded, but Leon hadn't even heard the little device go off. He bit his bottom lip just a little. There was still a lot he had to learn about this place, things that he was having to relearn since what little he had managed to learn was only applicable four hundred and fifty years in the future. With a little sigh, Leon dumped pasta in the boiling water, and he listened to Kio talk.
"What is that?" he finally asked, unable to stand it as he watched Kio pull the white stick out of his mouth. Clearly, there was some sort of candy at the end of it; Leon could smell the sweet rolling off of the thing, but he'd never seen a sweet like it before. Kio was staring at him, so clearly, Leon should have known what ever the thing was, and he took advantage of the moment to take it out of Kio's hand. Hesitantly, he sniffed it, trying to figure out what was so appealing about something that was so sweet.
"You've never had a lollipop? A chupa?"
"I don't believe I have." Finally, he handed it back, and he watched as Kio shoved it back in his mouth before he started fumbling at the top of his bag at his feet. Then a wrapped candy was shoved in Leon's hands, and he stared at it curiously before looking back up. "A chupa?"
"Yeah. It's a lollipop. You suck on it?" Kio reached over impatiently and unwrapped it before handing it back to Leon. Leon studied it a little more, certain that there had to be more chemical in the thing than actual food. Finally, with Kio's expecting look weighing down on him, Leon tentatively licked it and then put it in his mouth, like Kio did. He wrinkled up his nose at the sheer amount of sugar he could taste, but what little flavor did manage to overpower the sugar was good. Kind of like an apple, if he used his imagination.
"Yeah? You like it?"
Leon smiled around the little white stick jutting from his lips, and he nodded. Soubi snorted as he shut the door behind himself.
"Kio-kun, are you giving Leon-kun candy before dinner?"
"He'd never had one, Soubi-kun! He needed it!"
Leon hid a little smile as he resumed fixing dinner for them. Perhaps living with Soubi wouldn't be as scary as he kept thinking it would.