I know it'll be cliche... Soubi taking care of Ritsuka... but i wanted to do it. This'll be a chapter story, though probably not very long. Forgive me if it's mediocre... Soul Eater is on the TV and I'm distracted =3

That couldn't possibly be the sound of my alarm clock. I had only just gone to sleep. That infernal beeping noise must be coming from somewhere else. It wasn't time to wake up yet. Not when I'd spent most of the night tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. It had been sweltering in my room. I had only just slipped into a light sleep.

The beeping persisted. I guess denial wasn't going to cut it for me. It really was time for me to wake up. "Shut up," I groaned, irritated with the world, but I dragged myself out of bed anyway, slamming my fist down on the snooze button of my alarm clock. The room spun for a moment and I felt a little light-headed, but it passed after a few seconds.

I rubbed my neck as I trudged to my bathroom. Maybe this was a nightmare. That would make more sense. Every part of me hurt, somehow. My head was throbbing, the most prominent part of it behind my right eye. My limbs ached and were much too stiff. Worst of all was the burning sensation in my throat, like I hadn't had a drink of water in days. And my room was still sweltering.

I yanked on the knob of my sink that would produce cold water and stuck my head beneath the faucet, lapping at the steady stream with a parched sort of urgency. It did nothing to help my throat. Made it feel worse, if anything.

I grimaced and shut the water off, knowing that I probably shouldn't go to school today but unable to bring myself completely to that conclusion. I can't stay home from school on account of being sick. My mother would freak out, and when she freaks out, the likeliness of her snapping heightens considerably. If she started to beat me, I'd be too weak to defend myself.

I scoured my drawers for medication, knowing the attempt would prove fruitless before I started. I had used the last of my hoarded pain meds only a week ago, after my last serious beating endured at the hands of my mom. I wished I had taken them a bit more sparingly. Mother doesn't let me have any pills, and to ask her would be suicide. I was going to have to survive the day without the aid of drugs. Somehow.

We should turn the house's air conditioning on. It's sweltering in here.

I lingered in the shower, reveling in the cold waterfall and the relief it brought me, and towel dried my hair. I left the rest up to the forces of nature. There was no way I was going anywhere near my hair dryer. That would only make the place warmer.

The issue of clothes was a frustrating one. I badly wanted to wear a pair of shorts and a tank top, the clothing I own most equipped for sweltering weather, but that would expose nearly all of my bandages, and Lord knows that Miss Shinonome and Yuiko would both have heart attacks were they to see my collection of scars and injuries. In the end, I settled for a T-shirt and long pants, which covered all my bandages save for the one wrapped around my wrist and the one ever-present on my cheek.

I went out of my room and down the stairs to the kitchen, preparing myself to tell a series of lies, both in the way I acted and the words I spoke. I would have to act perfectly fine, should my mother be downstairs, so that she wouldn't sense weakness and take the opportunity to attack.

She was already seated at the breakfast table, eating. I let out a sigh of relief. She only eats on her good days, and more importantly, doesn't insist I dine with her. I could make a quick escape this morning if I could feign needing to leave for school early. "Good morning, Mom."

"Ritsuka!" she greeted me, smiling. It made my heart lurch. "Look, I made breakfast for you!"

My stomach churned in a highly unsettling way. Food was not going to be something I could handle today, at least without some very negative results. "It looks great," I told her honestly, because it did. "But I have to be at school early today. Me and a friend are studying for an English test."

She looked sad for a moment, and then recovered. "Well, then I'll just pack up some food for you and you can eat it on your way."

I am a terrible person.

She packed a biscuit, two slices of bacon, and a hardboiled egg into a Tupperware container for me. I smiled and thanked her with as much sincerity as I had in me, tucking it into my bag and assuring her I'd eat it during my walk to school.

She followed me to the front door, wishing me a nice day and reminding me to wear my coat since it was, to use her words, "freezing outside." I allowed her to help me into my jacket, silently cursing the heat. As I reached for the door handle, Mother kissed my forehead and smiled. "I love you, Ritsuka."

I shut my eyes, almost unable to stomach the horrible wave of guilt crashing over me. "Love you, too."

I left the house with a small sense of accomplishment sitting in my chest. She obviously hadn't noticed anything different about me. But more prominent than accomplishment was a sense of guilt, and it only made my headache worse. More than that, it was too hard to think with the horrible temperature. What had Mother been talking about when she said it was cold outside?

As I turned the corner, I saw a trash can set out on the curb for garbage collection. I stopped at it and took the Tupperware of food out of my bag. Feeling so guilty it was making me nearly physically sick, I dumped the food into it. Once that was done, I stripped off my jacket, tied it around my waist, and set off down the street.

Going to school had been a stupid idea. There was too much activity; too much noise, too many lights, too much movement. It all made me feel like someone was beating on the inside of my skull with a hammer. More than that, speaking physically hurt me. My throat burned with an even more insatiable thirst every time I replied to Yuiko or another one of my classmates, and each time a teacher called on me and I had to give an answer in front of the class. I even got yelled at for trying to open a window.

Apparently, the only person who feels like they're sitting in a sauna is me.

I managed to make it through only two class periods before my body succumbed to whatever illness I have. The bell signaling the end of second period rang and I shrunk away from the noise, hypersensitive to sound of all types. My cat ears flattened and I even let out a small moan as my head throbbed like my brain was threatening to burst.

Yuiko stood and gathered her things, and she was halfway out the door before she realized that I was still sitting in my desk, cradling my head in my hands. "Ritsuka?" she asked hesitantly. "Are you okay?"

Not at all, I wanted to tell her. But I nodded anyway and stood up on unsteady legs. For an instant, everything seemed fine, but then the room spun violently and everything blurred – the desks, the floor, the walls, Yuiko, and my teacher – before my knees buckled and I crumpled to the floor as everything went black.

I opened my eyes and blinked in the harsh light. I was being carried; I knew the sensation from when Soubi took me places after refusing to put me down and let me walk on my own. But these were not Soubi's arms.

The world slowly came into focus for me, and I looked up to see who had taken the job of bringing a sick preteen to the nurse's office; my math teacher. I could see why they'd fetched him for the job. He was a large, brawny man, who could easily handle carrying a frail-bodied boy a few yards.

However, if we were to reach our destination, it'd be over for me. "Put me down," I protested in a small, rough voice. "I'm fine."

"Ritsuka, you fainted!" Yuiko's frazzled voice exclaimed, and I startled. I hadn't noticed that she was there too, trotting alongside our math teacher. She looked concerned. "Plus, you're burning up! They're sending you home!"

"I can't go home!" I said, too quickly. Both my math teacher and Yuiko cast me strange looks.

Fear clutched at my heart. If they called my house and Mom answered the phone, then that was it. The next time I went outside, I'd be getting carried out of my house in a body bag. "My parents are out of town," I lied after a moment of panic. It was the only explanation I could come up with, however feeble. "My dad had to go away for business. Mom went with him."

"I'll have them call your emergency contact, then," my math teacher said firmly. "I'm not having them send you home alone like this."

I couldn't believe that the lie had worked. It was an incredible load off my mind, although I did have to wonder what Soubi would do when he got the call from my school and was informed that I was sick.

When we reached the nurse's office, I was instructed at once to one of the cots and Yuiko offered to gather my homework. The nurse thought that was a good idea, and also told her to get my schoolwork for a few days in advance. Obviously, she didn't expect me to be healthy enough for class for a couple of days at least. My math teacher informed the school nurse that she should call my emergency contact and left.

That was the last thing I registered before sleep took me.

Review and I'll post chapter two!