CENTENNIALS

700: Present Absence

Over the years, each person in Soubi's life developed their own way of expressing they missed him

Kio tended to eagerly latch onto the excuse of school work, hoping it would mask how he checked up on Soubi.

FROM: KIO
Sou-chan! If you don't show up for classes the professor is gonna fail you! You better be home when I come by with your assignment tomorrow or I'm kicking the door down! Where are you?

If Soubi ever failed to honour a meeting with Seimei, however, there were no probing questions as to his whereabouts. The message would be far calmer. Brief, but friendly. Terrifyingly so.

FROM: Seimei
I didn't see you at the school today. I was under the impression you'd meet me. Perhaps it will be more convenient for you if I visit you instead. Tomorrow, Soubi.

Then there were those that left a bitter taste in Soubi's mouth when he thought about being missed. With grim satisfaction, he always chose not to alleviate that supposed loneliness.

FROM: [unknown number]
You never give your sensei a call. I'm hurt. Nagisa has been tinkering on her science project creations. I would suggest you visit me for a few lessons to assure that you are well prepared, Soubi-kun.

Soubi flipped his phone shut with a sigh, slipping off his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose. His head was pounding, clothes clinging to the sheen of fever sweat covering his body.

The sudden assault of a particularly vicious flu had made him sleep through most of the afternoon. When he jerked awake and saw the time, he still forced his unwilling body from his bed, out the door.

Three hours late. Soubi confirmed what he already knew when he arrived at the school to find no Ritsuka. He immediately began trudging the long trek back to his apartment, shivering uncontrollably in the moderate warmth. More and more colour washed out of his face with every wave of nausea that accompanied his dragging footsteps.

Ritsuka hadn't sent any kind of message. He hadn't called. Maybe he hadn't even noticed that Soubi had broken his promise to accompany Ritsuka, Yuiko and Yayoi to the ice cream parlour after school.

Be it out of nosy concern, wrath, or selfish desires, before he'd at least known his absence was noted.

Sagging down on his bed, Soubi dully stared down at the phone held in his limp hand. 'Ritsuka...'

'Soubi!'

'Ritsuka?'

The door flung open, and in stormed Ritsuka, cat tail and chest puffed up. Soubi rose clumsily, blinking at the sudden appearance. 'Rit-'

'Where were you?' The entirety of Soubi's sensitized body felt the accusatory prod that Ritsuka gave his chest.

'I'm sorry, Ritsuka,' he said with a weak smile, clammy hand closing lightly on his Sacrifice's raised one to discourage more poking. 'I-'

He wanted to say more, but Ritsuka's flesh felt so searingly hot against his own, and he was abruptly taken aback at Ritsuka's sudden appearance, his proximity. His skin to Soubi's.

'Did Ritsuka miss me?' Soubi's voice tuned as soft as his touch was, cradling Ritsuka's hand in his sweaty palm.

Ritsuka looked flustered, swiftly going on the defensive. 'Well- you promised you'd be there! And you didn't come! And-And I couldn't ask my friends to wait around for you, so we... had to go without you.' He stuck his chin out defiantly, silently daring Soubi to be affronted at being denied ice cream.

'And then you came to check on me?' Reluctant though his languid body was to move, Soubi just had to touch that flaring cheek.

Ritsuka frowned up at Soubi, anger flagging into confusion. 'What's wrong with you?'

His smaller hand covered Soubi's, still resting on his cheek. 'Your hand's really warm.' Bright eyes scanned Soubi's face, frown etching itself a little deeper, and ears perking in alertness. 'And you look flushed! Soubi, are you sick?'

Wrapping his long arms around the teen's shoulders, Soubi let himself slump backwards onto the bed, pulling Ritsuka with him. He disregarded the deep aches that wracked his body as the squirming, protesting Ritsuka collapsed against his chest. 'Soubi! What's wrong with you?'

'Nothing, Ritsuka. I'm fine now.'

A/N: Thank you very much for reading! Hopefully my next update will be quicker.