Chapter twenty

Positions on the Septimal Moon board were handed down to the next generation of the current holder's family. Ritsuka's family had held a position on it. Ritsu's family had held a position on it. Seimei was getting kicked off of the board and probably executed very soon. It was only logical that Ritsuka would take his place on the board. He was the next descendant in line for it, after all.

It was obvious that Ritsu was getting old and it was getting to be the time for him to retire. This would mean giving up his position on the council and handing it down to the next person in line for it. The only catch was, Ritsu didn't haveany kids. All he had was Soubi, who was not directly related to him, but was the closest thing he had to a child. He had raised Soubi. Granted, he hadn't raised him in the best way, but he had still been somewhat like a father to him. Ritsu didn't have anyone else. The only person eligible to take Ritsu's place as head of the council…was Soubi.

"Do you understand now?" Ritsu pressed, pushing one of the stacks of papers towards him, one with Ritsuka's name written on it. The other packet—the one with Soubi's name on it—he kept in front of him, probably knowing it was useless to give it to Soubi.

"I…I don't know if I can agree to this…" Ritsuka stared down at the packet, his hand tightening around Soubi's. He didn't even move to open it. To be honest, he was a bit afraid of what was inside. He was only thirteen. He wasn't sure that he wanted this kind of power. The Septimal Moon board governed everything in the Fighter-Sacrifice world. They kept two worlds separate. They even worked with the government and did other confidential things, things that Ritsuka wasn't allowed to know about. Did he want that kind of access? That kind of responsibility? It would, of course, give him more accessibility to research everything, but it came with a huge price.

Did he want this? Ritsuka stared at the packet, unable to make up his mind. Soubi would've been able to help him make up his mind. He couldn't do it alone. This was just too hard of a decision. He was just a kid. No matter how hard he tried to be mature and adult-like, in the end, he was just a child who had gone through a lot. He was a child trying to be an adult, but still knowing that he couldn't succeed. He found himself suddenly wishing for Soubi, wishing for the man's memories to return so he could tell him what to do. Soubi always had good advice. He could tell Ritsuka what to do.

But Soubi didn't have his memories, so Ritsuka was lost. He needed time to think. He couldn't answer Ritsu. Not now. He had too much to focus on—teaching Soubi, the end of school, getting into a high school, Seimei, the guy who sent Soubi the letter and claimed to be part of his family, researching further into what happened to Soubi…and now this. Maybe once school was over, he would make a decision, but not now.

"I don't need an answer right now," Ritsu informed him, tapping his pencil on Soubi's forms. "But we need to discuss Soubi's memory loss."

"Yes," Ritsuka agreed, glancing over at Soubi. He was distracted, looking at the piano a few tables away with interest. Ritsuka had never seen Soubi take interest in anything musical, so this came as a bit of a surprise to him. Had Soubi known how to play the piano? Ritsuka wondered about that and let go of Soubi's hand, curious to see what he'd do. When Soubi looked at him as if to make sure it was okay, Ritsuka nodded and Soubi got up, going to the piano.

"Can he play?" Ritsuka asked, folding his hands in his lap, hearing Soubi tentatively press a few keys.

"If I remember correctly, yes," Ritsu's eyes were behind Ritsuka, clearly watching Soubi. "Students attending Seven Voices are required to pick up a musical instrument. Music helps students, particularly Fighters, understand the flow of things and how there is rising action, climax, and falling climax to everything, including battles and music. In other words, there's a rhythm to everything and music class helps students realize that. I recall that Soubi-kun didn't want to take music, but I forced him to. He was very, very good at the piano. He picked it up quite quickly."

"I never knew that…" Ritsuka looked behind him again, watching as Soubi sat down on the bench and pressed a couple more keys. He paused, his hands resting lightly on the keys. Something wonderful happened, then. Soubi's hands started fluttering over the keys, pressing them down, the notes coming together to form a beautiful harmony. Soubi was play a song, one that Ritsuka had never heard before, but it sounded strangely familiar. One of Soubi's hands played a darker portion on the lower keys, while his right hand played a light, fluttery, almost French-sounding melody.

"Amazing, isn't it?" Ritsu interrupted softly, a smirk on his face. He, too, watched Soubi intently.

"What is?" Ritsuka questioned, his eyes flickering between Ritsu and Soubi.

"The human mind," Ritsu answered. "Soubi-kun has no memories of ever attending Seven Voices, and yet, he can still play the piano. Do you know what that means, Ritsuka-kun?"

"No…" Ritsuka frowned, feeling like Ritsu was trying to make him stupid and confused. If he was, it was working.

"The system of memories and memory storage is very, very complex, Ritsuka-kun," Ritsu-sensei went on, still not looking at Ritsuka. "There's two different kinds of memories. Short-term memories and long-term memories. If a memory is significant enough, it gets committed to the long-term memory. There's much more than that, but we haven't the time to explain it. Perhaps some other day, Ritsuka-kun."

"Where are you going with this, Ritsu-sensei?" Ritsuka was beginning to see that Ritsu had a habit of taking a long time to explain things and that he liked to show off him knowledge. Ritsuka knew he didn't have too much time.

"I think Soubi's memories are still there," Ritsu said just as Soubi's melody turned significantly darker. All the people in the café were now watching the mysterious man seated at the piano, playing music from his head. "But they've been blocked and locked up. Soubi can't access them. The spell Seimei told Nisei to use was a powerful one. It has essentially created two different parts of Soubi's mind. Or, more correctly, it has separated his mind. It blocked off an area for his old memories and put something like a lock or a block over it. The section that was supposed to store his memories was emptied out and now holds the memories that he has since the spell went into effect, the new ones. But, see, here's the catch…"

Ritsu began doodling on the cover page of Soubi's intake packet, drawing a broken oval. He filled in the left half of it, and then drew a wall around the outside of that half and a large lock on that wall, protecting the shaded half. In the other half, he drew little gray dots, spotting the inside it. He then lightly sketched a larger circle around both the halves of the oval so that they were inside the bigger circle.

"This is Soubi's brain currently," Ritsu finally looked at Ritsuka, pointing at the circle with his pencil. "These are the memory portions of his brain," Ritsu tapped each of the halves of the oval, stopping at the fully shaded one with the lock on it. "This is what his old memories are like. All of the brain has to access memories. When we're born, we only know how to do about two things. Soon, we're taught to walk and do other various actions. Those teachings are seared into our memories. Whenever we want to do any physical action, our mind pulls out the 'how' from our memories."

Ritsu added in lines going from each half of the ovals out to the edge of the larger circle. The lines going from the half that represented Soubi's locked up memories started from the wall locking them out, while the lines on the other one went directly from it.

"These are the connections that allow the rest of his mind to access the memories. When they try to access Soubi-kun's blocked off memories, they can't."

"So…what's the catch?" Ritsuka crossed his arms, sitting back. Soubi's playing suddenly got a lot darker and slower. From the looks of things, he was drawing quite a crowd.

"Soubi-kun's mind senses that the memories are there. It just can't break the wall keeping them away, but it knows they're there. I have a feeling that Soubi is going to get very sick as soon as his body's immune system attacks the blockage."

Sick. Soubi wasn't just going to get sick, he was going to get really sick. His body was going to finally sense something was wrong with it and immediately attack it, which would just make him extremely stick. This wasn't good. Wait…sick could mean anything. Would the doctors be able to treat it? From the way Ritsu talked, it sounded like Soubi wasn't going to come down with flu-like symptoms. It sounded as if it was going to be much worse. Could Soubi possibly die from this?

"Wha…" Ritsuka stared at Ritsu with wide eyes. "How sick?"

"Very. It's hard to pinpoint just how much. The wall creating the blockage will release chemicals that could cause a variety of different diseases, depending on the exact spell. Since it's Seimei…I'm guessing that it's going to attack either his heart or mind first. Maybe both."

"No!" Ritsuka stood abruptly, slamming his hands down on the small table, nearly knocking over Ritsu's coffee. He startled Soubi as well, causing him to suddenly stop playing. Still, Ritsuka didn't stop, too shocked and enraged to realize that there was a crowd of people who had heard Soubi's piano playing and come inside to watch. "Seimei wouldn't want to kill Soubi!"

"Why wouldn't he?" Ritsu shot back at him, raising his voice, too. "You have no idea what Soubi was up to before Seimei attacked him!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Ritsuka yelled. The information of what would happen soon making him so shocked that he was finally taking some of his built-up anger out on Ritsu. "Soubi wasn't 'up' to anything. Seimei has no reason to want to kill him!"

"Would you be quiet?" Ritsu hissed, lowering his voice. "There are people in here! One of them might call the police if they hear you talking like that!"

Ritsuka wasn't listening. He refused to stop yelling. Ritsu didn't know what the hell he was talking about. He was old and probably pretty crazy. "Tell me what you mean by 'what Soubi was up to'!"

Ritsu sighed, scribbling down an address on the cover sheet and then tearing it off, giving it to Ritsuka. "That's the address of Soubi-kun's laboratory. Go there. It's locked so…" Ritsu produced a key. "Use that key."

"Soubi's…laboratory…?" Ritsuka repeated, sitting down, dumbfounded. He picked up the key, turning it over in his hand, seeing a small label written on it. Copy 01: Ritsuka. It was written in Soubi's hand writing, too.

"Yes," Ritsu told him just as Soubi began to play the piano again. "I recently got an email from him, one that was sent before, but only arrived on the date Soubi specified. He said that he mailed me a key and that he wanted me to give it to you—but only if you've listened to his recordings and read his letter. His email gave an overview of the things he's been testing. He told me to bring you there."

"What…what's he been doing?" Ritsuka pressed, wondering what Soubi would be doing in a laboratory, let alone his own.

"Research, and a lot of it," Ritsu answered simply. "I can't go into detail. He asked me not to. I would usually prosecute someone for doing unauthorized research…but Soubi-kun…well…he was doing some research against Seimei. Although…I don't exactly approve of him doing self-experimentation."

What had Soubi been doing before his attack? Ritsu-sensei was throwing all of the terms at him now. Self-experimentation…testing…research…Ritsuka had no idea that Soubi had been doing all of those things. He had thought he knew everything about Soubi. Why had he hid this from him? It didn't make any sense! He hadn't even written about it in the letter. Soubi wouldn't have lied and keeping things from him counted as lying.

Soubi had apparently been doing some kind of research, something against Seimei, something that went against his name. Ritsuka wondered what exactly he had been doing and, more importantly, when he had been doing it. Things just didn't add up. Soubi spent a lot, if not all, of his free time with Ritsuka. He had classes, too, so that and his time spent with Ritsuka accounted for nearly all of his time. It didn't seem as though he would have any time to do research in a lab. What the hell was going on behind Ritsuka's back?

"Those aren't the only things I wanted to talk about," Ritsu stated, watching Soubi again and drumming his fingers on the table. "I wanted to tell you a little about Soubi-kun's past. You deserve to know and I'm guessing he wrote a lot about it in the letter. I'm also assuming that he wrote about me, too."

Ritsuka nodded, putting the slip of paper Ritsu wrote on in his bag. He would go to the laboratory soon, but he needed to get a little better first. Plus…he'd have to think of a way to explain this all to Kio. God… That was going to be a huge disaster. He had snuck out and gone all the way into Tokyo when Kio had told him not to leave the house. He had disobeyed a parent figure. He hadn't even planned on Kio even finding out. He was going to get punished, he was sure of that. Kio was probably going ground him and Ritsuka could not stay cooped up in the house for much longer. He realized he was still hurt and he still had broken ribs and bruised bones in his hips, but he was tired of lying around all day. He wanted to go back to school. He was scared he wouldn't be able to graduate if he missed any more school.

"I'm aware that," Ritsu looked down, away from Soubi and Ritsuka. "Soubi-kun didn't… like me very much."

"He hated you," Ritsuka interjected, thinking of all the horrible things that Ritsu had done to Soubi. "You raped him. He loved you and you betrayed him."

"He told you that?"

Ritsuka began tapping his fingers in time with Soubi's music, closing his eyes as he listened to him play, responding to Ritsu almost absentmindedly, "No. When Seimei kidnapped me, he took me through a lot of Soubi's memories."

"He did what?" Ritsu's voice raised in surprise, though Ritsuka had sort of expected that.

"He used Ueda-san, the Timeless Fighter," Ritsuka opened his eyes, hearing Soubi stop playing again. He glanced behind him, seeing Soubi stretch and then got up. He ignored the applause from the people gathered in the café and came up behind Ritsuka, wrapping his arms around him loosely.

"Hello, Ritsu-san," Soubi greeted Ritsu politely, nuzzling Ritsuka's neck lightly. Ritsuka smirked and reached up, running his fingers through Soubi's light blonde hair. Ritsu watched, narrowing his eyes at them, an unreadable expression on his face. Maybe Ritsuka was trying to make him jealous, trying to make him see what he had lost. He wanted Ritsu to feel bad, to regret giving Soubi away to abusive Seimei. That was really all he wanted—for Ritsu to express some kind of guilt for all the things he had done to Soubi. Ritsu was capable of feeling, it was just hard to get him to show or express emotion. That quality reminded Ritsuka of his father, Kiyoshi.

"That was a nice song you were playing, Soubi," Ritsuka leaned up, kissing Soubi's cheek. "I didn't know you could play the piano."

Soubi glanced over at the instrument he had been playing. "Piano?" He repeated, nuzzling Ritsuka's neck some more, pressing his lips against the side of it very lightly.

"Yes. You should sit down. I'm going to get something to drink."

Ritsuka went up to the counter, quickly buying a cup of hot chocolate for himself and a doughnut for Soubi. He was still worried about Soubi's eating habits, since he had barely ate during the time that Ritsuka had been kidnapped. That worried him, especially if Soubi's own body was going to be attacking him soon.

When Ritsuka approached the table, he saw that Soubi was talking to Ritsu-sensei. Ritsuka stopped, watching and able to overhear what they were saying.

"Ritsuka has a tail," Soubi was telling Ritsu excitedly, a big smile on his face. "Rit-chan has a tail, too. Rit-chan is a cat. Soubi named Rit-chan. Rit-chan is named after Ritsuka."

"…That's great, Soubi-kun," Ritsu stated dryly.

Soubi closed his eyes, smiling still, "Soubi loves Ritsuka."

Ritsuka turned red and returned to the table, sitting next to Soubi and giving him the doughnut. Soubi leaned over, kissing Ritsuka's cheek, just as Ritsuka had done to Soubi a few minutes before. Ritsuka just blushed even more, not knowing what to do to hide it.

"S…so, about what you wanted to tell me…"

"Yes," Ritsu reached into his coat, sliding a stack of photos over to Ritsuka. "Those are some photos of Soubi-kun while he was at Seven Voices. You'll see a pretty dramatic change once I…"

"…Raped him?" Ritsuka finished for him, flipping through the photographs. The first ten or so photos were of young Soubi smiling at the camera. In a couple of them, he was missing his front teeth. In one of the pictures, Soubi was with a group of boys, his arms thrown around the middle boy, his clothes dirty and a grin with missing teeth on his face. In another picture, Soubi was hugging Ritsu, who was obviously embarrassed to be in the photo.

Ritsu gave Ritsuka a sharp glare, "After I took his ears. He got a lot more violent after that. He was getting in tons of fights. He even ran away once, though he didn't get very far since he couldn't drive a car."

Ritsuka reached the pictures after Soubi was raped and immediately noticed the dramatic change. There were no more happy pictures. Instead, Soubi either looked angry or had no idea the photo was being taken. Ritsuka paused, looking at one particular picture. Soubi was glaring at the holder of the camera and looked as though he was trying to block the lens. He looked like he hated the person behind the camera. He also looked a bit…sad, like he was about to run away or cry. Ritsuka assumed the person taking the photo was Ritsu-sensei.

Another picture was of Soubi laying on top of a picnic table, his head hanging off of the edge, looking up at the blue sky. A similar one came next, this one of Soubi sitting on the picnic table in the rain alone, soaked as it rained hard on him. The pictures that showed Soubi like this were depressing. It really showed Soubi's loneliness and hurt.

"He didn't have any friends," Ritsu spoke softly, his eyes on Soubi, who was gradually eating. "He did before…he lost his ears, but apparently some kids recorded him and I one day and sent it to every kid in the school. Nobody wanted to talk to him after that. They all just mocked him and picked fights with him. They even teased him for being gay, even the boys with male partners."

"His life was a living hell," Ritsuka stared at the rain photo, speaking as he did so. The more he looked at that photo, the more he realized just how hard Soubi's school life had been. "And you made it that way."

Ritsu didn't speak for a long time and dropped Soubi's gaze, taking to looking out the window. When he finally did say something, it was almost too quiet for Ritsuka to hear, "…I regret it…"

"You…you regret it…?" Ritsuka repeated, shocked. He never thought he'd get Ritsu to actually admit it, at least not this easily. Ritsu seemed like the type of person with a lot of pride and would not easily admit to being wrong or doing something wrong. He did appear to actually have human feelings, unlike Seimei, who Ritsuka quite honestly doubted was human. Before, when Ritsuka had first found out about what Ritsu did, he had placed Ritsu in the same category as Seimei, but that was wrong. Ritsu was human; he just wasn't necessarily a good person.

"Yes. Soubi-kun looked like his mother, but…that wasn't the reason why I did it…Well, it sort of was, but I did love him and not because he was like his mother."

"Then why did you give him to Seimei?" Ritsuka demanded, raising his voice again. If Ritsu had really and truly loved Soubi, then he wouldn't have given him to Seimei. He wouldn't have let Seimei abuse Soubi. Ritsuka couldn't believe that Ritsu loved Soubi, not when he had caused Soubi to take all that abuse. That abuse had changed Soubi—and not for the better. It had made Soubi unable to truly be happy unless something horrible, like losing his memories happened. Ritsu had put Soubi under the control of a sadistic bastard, a bastard who would beat him mercilessly and leave him alone, bleeding and bruised and only wanting his master's love, something he knew he would never have, even if he gave up everything he could for Seimei.

"I didn't know Seimei was going to treat him like that," Ritsu ran a hand through his gray hair, tugging gently at a clump in the back, surprising Ritsuka by pulling an entire clump out. Ritsu sighed, fixing his glasses, and for the first time, Ritsuka saw what he failed to notice before. Ritsu seemed paler than usual. Soubi was the palest person Ritsuka knew and Ritsu was still paler than him, his skin an almost sickly color. His hair was really graying out, too. The last time Ritsuka had seen Ritsu, it was still a dark blonde-ish color that was just beginning to get gray, but now it was a cross between gray and light blonde with more gray than blonde. His eyes were cloudy and pale and he looked as if he was still having a lot of trouble seeing.

"Ritsu-sensei…are you sick?" Ritsuka asked, truly curious and concerned. He appeared very frail and nothing like the man Ritsuka had met after what happened at Seven Voices. Even then, with his eyes violent gorged out, he still looked healthy.

"Sick?" Soubi repeated, his voice worried. "Ritsu-san is sick? Is Ritsuka sick?" Soubi whimpered, meeting Ritsuka's eyes and leaning his head on Ritsuka's shoulder, pulling Ritsuka's chair closer by wrapping his arms around Ritsuka's waist.

Ritsuka patted Soubi's head, running his hand through his hair for a moment. "I'm not sick, Soubi. Not anymore."

"I am, though," Ritsu answered finally. "Nagisa noticed it first. Well, it was actually Soubi-kun when you and him visited a couple months ago. He said I looked old and told me he hoped I was dying of old age…"

Ritsuka had begged Soubi to take him back to Seven Voices a couple months after the incident. Finally, after Ritsuka asked about ten times, Soubi had given in. Soubi had been tense the entire weekend, even though they were just going to check that everyone was alright. Ritsuka had even noticed Soubi drinking a little more and being more distant at the hotel room after their talk with Ritsu. Ritsuka hadn't known why then, but he did now, and he felt bad for asking Soubi to take him back to Seven Voices.

"How sick are you?"

"Very," Ritsu wasn't looking at Ritsuka again, he had his eyes on Soubi, who still had his head on Ritsuka's shoulder, his eyes now closed. Ritsu placed his hands on his hot Styrofoam coffee cup, probably to warm himself up. "Nagisa thinks I may have a brain tumor. She has to stay by my side to make sure I don't collapse."

"Where is she now?" It was a question Ritsuka had been wondering since he arrived. Nagisa was by Ritsu's side when Soubi and Ritsuka had visited Ritsu and again when Ritsu had come to Ritsuka's school.

"Shopping. I told her to go. She wanted to take Seven and go around the city. I don't need her here, anyways." Ritsu paused for a long time, "I wonder if Soubi-kun would be happy to see me so weak…I suppose I get what I deserve for giving him to Seimei."

"Why'd you do it? I mean, if you loved him, why wouldn't you just have him stay with you?"

Soubi nuzzled Ritsuka's neck gently, kissing the bottom of his chin and pulling him a bit closer. "Are you tired, Soubi?" Ritsuka whispered to Soubi, watching as he rested his head on Ritsuka's shoulder and shut his eyes. Soubi nodded, yawning. "We'll go home soon, I promise."

"I did it because, as much as I was in love with Soubi-kun, I loved his mother more," Ritsu slid some more photos over to Ritsuka, all pictures of Soubi's mother and, occasionally, a young-looking Ritsu. "She was still my Fighter. I had to try to find Soubi the best Sacrifice, someone who would treat him well and as an equal."

"But…I thought everyone considered Fighters as below Sacrifices…" Ritsuka stopped stroking Soubi's hair, confused. That was how it always seemed to him.

Ritsu shook his head, "Untrue. I see that Seimei has corrupted you."

"He has not," Ritsuka frowned, not wanting to think that Seimei had influenced him in any way. Even he knew that was a lie, though.

"Seimei believes that Fighters are simply 'war machines'. That's what he told Soubi-kun and Soubi-kun was trained to believe every word he said. I probably made a few mistakes in his training…I shouldn't have told him that every word his Sacrifice says is law. That was only supposed to apply to battle. See, I didn't think Seimei would tell him he was worthless and lie to him. When I met with Seimei-san, he would play innocent and I believed his act. He would say that he just wanted a strong partner, someone to stick by his side and be his friend. He was in the process of getting accepted onto the board and I thought he was just a normal child Sacrifice, despite his strange true name. He didn't start showing signs of his real self for a couple months, after I asked him about the bruises on Soubi's face. Sometimes, Seimei-san would bring Soubi to the school when he came for weekend classes and Septimal Moon meetings. Soubi-kun would often be bruised or have cuts all over his face. It didn't take me long to figure out what was happening."

"Did you try to stop it?" Ritsuka felt his chest tighten with the knowledge that Seimei had treated Soubi even worse than he first thought and had lied to Ritsu. Ritsu had given Soubi to Seimei thinking that he was going to treat him well and as an equal. He'd been deceived and Soubi was the one to suffer. Then again…if none of this had happened, Ritsuka would've never met Soubi…

"I did. I demanded that he give up Soubi-kun, but he refused, saying that he 'owned it'. Occasionally, Sacrifices think that they 'own' their Fighter, which is untrue, because a Fighter is not a piece of property. I never thought of Soubi's mother like that. I never thought of Soubi-kun like that. Most Sacrifices don't think that way, but the ones with a blank Fighter like Soubi think that since they are unable to create a bond with them."

"But…" Ritsuka started, loosely wrapping his arms around dozing Soubi's neck. "I don't think of Soubi that way even though he's a blank Fighter."

"And that proves to me that you really love him," Ritsu told him without hesitation. "I used to suspect that it was just an act like Seimei-san was, but I see now that you're not. Seimei-san would never even touch Soubi-kun in the way that you are," Ritsu nodded pointedly at Ritsuka, who knew what he meant. Seimei would've never held Soubi like this. He thought that Soubi was 'dirty' and a 'monster'. Soubi was a person though, just like Ritsuka and Ritsu. He was a person that Ritsuka looked up to and loved dearly. He wanted to stay with Soubi forever, whether he had his memories or not, it didn't matter. He was still Soubi. He was still the same man Ritsuka loved. He just didn't understand why Seimei thought Soubi was so 'dirty'.

"I look up to Soubi," Ritsuka stated simply, looking at Soubi sleeping on his shoulder. "And I love him. I love him more than anything and I'll never treat him like Seimei did. I don't understand my brother. I don't think I'll ever be able to. I'll never forgive him, either."

"That's probably for the best," Ritsu-sensei mused.

Something strange happened, then. Ritsuka felt something coming through his and Soubi's connection. Ritsuka closed his eyes, feeling as though he needed to and let it come, finding himself in a memory.

Ritsuka blinked, confused, finding himself on a high up balcony overlooking a forest. Soubi sat on the edge, his knees underneath the railing and his feet hanging off the edge. There was an open can of alcohol on the cement next to him. The sliding door to the balcony opened and Ritsuka saw himself come out, barefoot and padding towards Soubi.

"You know I don't like it when you drink," Ritsuka's other self said, kneeling behind Soubi and draping his arms around his broad shoulders from behind. Ritsuka knew where they were now. This was when they had gone out to Seven Voices and stayed in a hotel.

"I'm sorry, Kitten," Soubi reached up, stroking Ritsuka's arm. The other Ritsuka leaned down, kissing Soubi on the lips.

"It's fine. Just please don't get drunk like my dad."

Ritsuka swayed, feeling Soubi's memories from his and Ritsuka's visit with Ritsu rushing to him. It had been painful for him, even more so than Ritsuka expected. The memory ended, then, just as quickly as it started and he found himself lying on a bed, staring up at a bright light as someone shone it in his eyes.

"You alright, Ritsuka-kun?" A female voice asked shutting off the light. Ritsuka blinked multiple times, trying to clear the light from his vision. Nagisa-sensei came into focus, standing over him on the hotel room bed, wearing a white lab coat.

"Ritsuka!" Soubi darted next to Nagisa, looking down at Ritsuka with a scared expression. Ritsuka sat up, rubbing his eyes and glancing up at Soubi. Soubi immediately pulled him into a crushing, protective hug. Ritsuka, still groggy, hugged back, not really knowing how he'd ended up here.

"…What happened?" Ritsuka mumbled as Soubi let loosened his hold. He could see Ritsu sitting in a chair, fast asleep.

"Ritsu said you just suddenly passed out," Nagisa informed him.

Ritsuka glanced over at the clock, finding that it was nearly nine at night. He was suddenly fully awake, pulling out of Soubi's arms and hurriedly getting his shoes and coat on, saying quick goodbyes to Nagisa and telling her that he had to get home. Kio was going to be really angry… Soubi grabbed Soubi's hand, pulling him out the door, clutching the note with the address of Soubi's lab in one hand.



YAY!'s so late. I need to get to bed. Sorry, I can't write all your names out, but thank you all soooo much for reviewing the last chapter! You all really made me want to write more!

Also, I got my very first flame.

Sephiren : Who's bat boy?

Tamer Lorika: I'll be answering that in a later chapter :)

Lumeton: I'm not too sure. A lot? Probably over thirty.

Once again thank you for all the reviews! I'm going to shift this story to more of what Soubi was doing before he was attacked and also Ritsuka growing up.

Please review and tell me what you think of this chapter! I'll write more if you do!