It was hard to sleep sometimes.
Even nightmares that first had taken hold several days before at times had had a way of lasting longer after that, nightmares during dreams and sometimes events that were actually real, and while often he tried to suppress, there came also the reassuring truth that there always would be consolation from Big Brother.
Seimei, I had a nightmare, there was no need, no need really for these words, so Ritsuka wouldn't say them, and Seimei already would know; he would carefully, quietly open his door and allow his little brother in, disoriented, sleepy Ritsuka, slender and fragile and dreamy and warm, come sleep in my bed tonight—
Seimei's large, gentle hands, careful as they closed around Ritsuka's bony shoulders, no other place had ever felt so safe—
Tonight also Ritsuka didn't say a word, and again without a word Seimei let him in, affectionate, gentle as always and strong, his long fingers intertwining in his with infinite patience, leading him toward the bed.
Seimei said softly, his voice just a whisper, confident but tender, colored with unmistakable, encompassing love, love for his brother alone—
"Come, I'll show you something—"
Only partly awake, Ritsuka rubbed tiredly at his eyes, his limbs wiry and slight beneath too-long pajamas, dark strands of hair hanging messy from sleep, as Seimei guided him forth in the darkness, stopping when they reached the bed.
There came through the partly-open window a dim, silvery glow, illuminating vaguely a silhouette upon the bed, a soft, milky cascade of hair pouring just over the bony articulation of his back—
And, as Ritsuka's eyes became accustomed to the dark, he could tell, he could see that there were fine, wiry lines across his back, all across, the aftermath of cuts that have yet to have healed—
Seimei, who is that, Ritsuka might have asked, and, hand still in his, Big Brother gently smiled, "His name is Soubi," he said, "he's for you."
Ritsuka tilted his head, curious and confused, and he followed his brother as Seimei had led him along. In the dark, Seimei's thin figure bent slowly ahead, soft curls falling forth just a bit, Ritsuka watched as his lips moved in silence against Soubi's ear.
He couldn't tell what it was that he mouthed to him then, he watched as Seimei's teeth closed very lightly just at the cartilage shell, and, carefully, gingerly, after some time the other boy turned to face him at last.
Without saying a word, Soubi quietly rested his gaze on Ritsuka, Seimei attentive, as well, still whispering things in his ear—
Take good care of my brother, he said, there is no one more important than he is—
The boy whose name was Soubi had said nothing back, but merely continued to gaze, sleepy, unmoving, long hair falling slightly just over his face;
"Don't be afraid,"
Seimei said as he pulled Ritsuka closer, the younger boy slightly reluctant but trusting, no less, and Seimei then took his hand, carefully bringing it to Soubi's face, brushing just against his cheek and his temple from there, dark eyes glittering in the dim light—
Soubi allowed it with quiet composure, eyes curiously batting.
"Soubi is my fighter," Seimei explained, now sliding Ritsuka's fingers through the boy's hair, his smile was gentle when he softly laughed, "the best there is, isn't that right."
Rituska turned toward Seimei, then back to the other boy. It appeared, he now realized, his brother had waited some time for this moment to come.
He startled when Soubi reached out, gentle though he were as he brought his hand to touch the boy's face, but Seimei carefully soothed him after that, murmuring in hushed tones that it was okay, that he should let him go ahead—
So Ritsuka allowed it, biting his lip unbeknownst to himself as the digits moved then with quiet affection, curiously sliding his hair from his face.
I want to kiss him, Seimei, Soubi thought, but Seimei gazed back as to say, not just yet, so Soubi held back, and he waited with patience for what was to come.
"You don't know how to use him yet," Seimei said to his brother, "but you will."
Ritsuka murmured, confused and uneasy about the idea but trusting whatever his brother had said— this person— this fighter— was visibly older than he was, himself, and he gazed at Ritsuka with infinite kindness, gentle and warm, yes, I will take care of you—
You feel it, Seimei thought, he was sure of it then, don't you, you've lived your whole life to get to this time, to take care of him—
And Soubi nodded as though he understood, very softly beginning to smile, use me, yes, and at last he turned his gaze to Seimei, "When," he asked, "tell me when it's okay—"
"I'll tell you," there came the reply, the boy grinning with quiet contentment, and when he let him at last, Soubi had carefully sat up in bed, he was slender and tall, very tall, Ritsuka now realized, very gentle, Ritsuka's eyes went big in the dark as his slender arms came around him, he flipped his head in mute panic to his brother, but Seimei had said it's all right, it's all right, to sit still and to let him, so Ritsuka did, quiet and still while Soubi embraced him, his soft hair cascading over his shoulder and neck;
He smelled pleasant and soft, like shampoo and fabric, the fresh feel of clean, and Ritsuka felt fragile and small in his arms; Seimei looked on with reserved curiosity as his little brother's hands came tentatively around the boy's back, intrinsically delicate and colored with compassion for wounds he didn't know about at all—
He was a precious creature there in Soubi's arms, there went words unspoken and promises exchanged, despite the cruelty, despite it all, there was absolute trust when Seimei had left in his care what truly mattered most—
He reached carefully to brush his little brother's hair, Soubi's eyes following the motion from behind the boy's shoulder, quietly, patiently breathing in; he'd never felt so completely possessive before, so purely devoted or so far intent to protect and to love and console, he'd never known so profoundly that something was his—
"That's enough," Seimei said, "he should go to sleep now—"
So, reluctantly, carefully, Soubi let go, Ritsuka tense and confused and a little relieved, warily taking his place at his big brother's side as he lay down in bed.
Soubi watched as then Seimei's long arms came around Ritsuka's back, the two now turned away from him, a tender aching in his heart that he couldn't quite contain.
To be continued