Notes: This story contains content that is mildly shota-esque. It is also AU, and I took lines out of the manga. (English, volume 10.) This is also a bit graphic, a bit dark, and not really for most people. However, you do not have to read if it isn't your kind of thing. Thank you.

"I'm going to tell you everything about Seimei and myself."

The pair called Moonless had melted slowly into the shadow. I stood at the doorway alongside Soubi, not even noticing how tightly my hand held his forearm. I could hear the girl Sacrifice Mikado chuckle in the darkness. I didn't understand their magic, or why Soubi seemed too keen for them to leave. Even Natsuo looked unsure, cowering with Youji behind Soubi's tall, striking form. The pair of Zeros weren't usually fearful of other people. Youji didn't even recognize their name, but he trusted Natsuo's knowledge.

"You can return in the daylight Gomon. Besides, my place is a bit...full to capacity,"

Her bright, white smile had beamed at Soubi, who only kept frowning in her direction. But she collected Tokino and led him stumbling into the night. Youji yawned widely right into my ear. I made a sour face and Soubi caught it, the way he always notices everything. He patted my head a little too hard and cleared his voice.

"Ritsuka and I are going for a walk,"

"Whaaaaat?" Natsuo whined. "Is he staying home?"

"Is he coming back?" Youji added. Both of them had been so attached to me at school, I was getting sick of seeing them.

Soubi smiled at my distaste and just shook his head. "Go to bed, both of you. I'll be back soon."

The surly Zeros wandered back inside. A moment later the windows went dark. Then they electrified with the blue light from Soubi's video game. I sighed, my tail involuntarily curling around my wrist.

"Did you want to go home?"

I looked up at Soubi's ever-cheerful smile. Tokino's face blossomed into my memory, his know-it-all voice rushing through my ears like a wild stream.

"They say you two are pretty far apart in age!"

I shook my head, dark hair curling around my cheekbone.

"Are you nine? Or maybe ten?"

Soubi's hand felt hot and too big to hold my small, cold hand. I let him lead me away to the park. I wondered vaguely if Moonless would watch us from some nearby hide-out, but Soubi looked unconcerned. He knew when a pair wanted to battle with us, at least he was supposed to. But I had people always telling me that our magic would never be powerful. That we were divided over and over because Soubi was never meant to belong to me.

"I'm twelve and Soubi's twenty-one."

"So that's nine years...that's pretty much the limit."

"...what is?"

I didn't let on how those comments made me feel agitated. Just like I didn't punish the Zeros for picking on Yuiko. They didn't know any better at the time. I kept those things hidden inside. Sometimes they would just burst out of my mouth without warning. More than often it happened in front of Yuiko. I guess that was for the better. She was the least likely to repeat my words. If I did it to Soubi, I wasn't sure what he would say.

We walked hand in hand for a few moments. The park was quiet, even the wind had settled down. An old bench beneath a shady tree came into view as Soubi pulled me around the bend. It creaked woefully as the tall, blond Sentouki lowered himself onto it. I stayed standing, but he didn't question that. Instead, he let go of my hand.

"What is it, Ritsuka?" Soubi's voice was soft and warm even though he was at a distance. "Did Gomon bother you? We don't have to talk to them."

"I want to hear what she knows about Seimei." I said sternly.

Something dark flickered in his eyes. I grew more agitated. Soubi knew all kinds of things about my older brother. Things he could never tell me because he would always belong to someone else and no one else at the same time. I acknowledged the hurt in my stomach, but refused my body's willingness to encourage it. I swallowed over and over, trying not to be the harsh Sacrifice I resembled.

"I see," Soubi finally muttered. His voice was no louder than a whisper.

"For a relationship, I think. I hear that if you're more than ten years apart, it won't work."

He had said it so casually, like his words couldn't hurt outside of a spell battle. They cut me deeper than stupid Tokino had even realized. Everyone was so sure we would fail, that we would die. Seimei seemed confidant that Soubi would turn on everyone-, maybe he had, maybe he could...would my brother really use his own weapon to kill me? I had so many questions and no one ever had answers. I had been angry when Soubi sent Moonless away, even though I was relieved to have avoided a fight. Because deep down I doubted us. I didn't doubt Soubi's massive bank of magical knowledge. I had seen his skill at work. But I doubted myself, I had such little trust in our relationship. I had little trust in any kind of relationship.

"Tokino said something to me." I regretted the words as soon as they left my lips.

Soubi looked instantly enraged. His kind of anger was not like most, it didn't burn fiery red, but white hot. The glassy quality of his eyes made them glow in the park's misty darkness. I motioned for him not to get up. He remained seated to my surprise. I supposed that maybe I did have some level of control.

"What did he say to you, Ritsuka?"

"That we...that we were close to the 'limit'...that relationships with big age differences couldn't work." I hated how young and pointless I sounded.

Soubi looked down at the dark path below our feet. He cleaned his glasses against his white, loose fitting shirt. I didn't know what to look at, so my eyes centered on the thick bandage around Soubi's neck. 'Seimei did that...your brother, he did that to him,' A little voice spoke inside my head, its tone nothing more than a rough, choking drawl...

"Is that all?"

I looked up into his eyes. He was smiling! Tears burned the corners of my eyes and I watched the smile drop from his pale lips. Warm, strong arms picked me up off the ground. Unwillingly. I thrashed in Soubi's embrace like a wild animal. But I didn't make any sound of a protest. I just let him carry me like a child to the bench. He sat me down on his lap, my thighs sliding up against his sides. I opened my eyes and reassessed the surroundings. I hated most contact with people. I let Soubi touch me with within reason. Like a battle...or when I was scared. Not that I owned up to being frightened. I laid rigidly in Soubi's grip, like stone. He just smiled at me in the same way he always did, like I didn't realize how much he cared. That made me more angry than anything. I gave his right arm a weak punch. And then another. Then I hit him as hard as I could manage.

Soubi just watched me in adoration.

"Ugh! No it isn't all! Everyone always tells me that we won't work...I'm just sick of hearing it!" I choked on the end of my sentence.

"Ritsuka," my name was a purr in his throat, "I will always fight for you. I lo-,"


Silence fell over us like a blanket. I didn't leave his lap, but I refused to look Soubi in the eye for several minutes.

"I want us to be closer." I said with a grunt as if talking to him was some kind of dreadful chore.

There was a look of surprise in his features. My face flushed a little. Did he really see me as that heartless? Like Seimei?

"Ritsuka...we are close," Soubi grinned and bounced me on his thighs. I squeaked and fell forward into his chest.

"That isn't what I meant!" I yelled in his ear.

Soubi just laughed at me and tickled my black, furry set of ears. "I know."

"How can I feel closer to you? Like a part of you?"

The air between us changed immediately. Everything around me suddenly felt heavier. The mist. The sound of leaves rustling. Soubi wasn't laughing at me anymore. He was looking at me as if I had turned into a stranger.

"Oh, Ritsuka..."

"I mean it! I know everyone thinks I'm some dumb kid brother...but I'm not. I don't know...I don't know if Seimei was bad, because the one I knew...he was different." I felt the hot tears slide down my cheeks. "But if he was bad...I don't want to turn into him."

"You aren't him, Ritsuka."

I sniffled into my sleeve. "Show me then. Show me what he wouldn't do,"

Something in my words had sparked a reaction in Soubi. His eyes locked with mine and he muttered soft whispers under his breath. The world around us became silent and still. Before I could ask what spell he had used to shelter us from others, I felt his fingers grip the backs of my thighs. My heart slowly began to race inside my chest. I didn't stop Soubi. I didn't even ask why he was so close. His soft, warm lips kissed the side of my neck. The kissing was unlike anything I had felt before. Soubi's tongue pressed against my skin. It was a nice, gentle kiss that didn't stop. His mouth moved along the length of my throat. He kissed over my windpipe and I wiggled in his lap as his tongue slid down onto my collarbone. Apparently my moving caused a reaction in Soubi, one I did not understand. Suddenly he gasped a puff of warm air against my neck.

He looked up at me, eyes cloudy and full of an unfamiliar emotion. I stroked my hand across his pale cheek. I did this repeatedly until his breathing regulated. Soubi's long fingers entwined delicately into my hair. He tickled my ears, but not in an unpleasant way. Then he kissed my mouth. This I had experienced before. I was so pleased to be doing something that I knew that I leaned too eagerly into the moment. My body pressed against Soubi's much larger one and I felt something beneath where I was perched on his lap. Vague textbook definitions hurled through my overheated brain like baseballs. But all of them were too embarrassing for me to acknowledge. Again, however, I did not pause to order Soubi to stop. This was mostly because...I just didn't want him to stop touching me.

I felt his hand slide up and down my exposed thigh, my shorts now lifted at a shamefully high length. But what Soubi did next made dark black flowers burst in front of my eyes. His fingers pulled my shorts over to the side, forcefully. His entire hand...I watched as Soubi placed his hand up inside my shorts, feeling a part of me that I never imagined anyone touching before. A burning sensation filled my abdomen. I still couldn't see beyond the blossoms dancing in my eyes.

"How do you feel, Ritsuka?" Soubi's voice was suddenly in my ear, cutting through the haze.

I made some kind of sound that I hoped seemed agreeable. Soubi chuckled warmly against the side of my face. His fingers slid me against his rough palm inside my underwear. The movements Soubi was preforming with his hand weren't unfamiliar. I laid my head into the crook of his neck, unable to do much else at that point. His free arm curled around my waist and held me tight against his chest. I was about to kiss his neck-, what I could see of his neck-, when the feeling in my abdomen imploded. My shorts felt wet and so did Soubi's hand when it pressed against my thigh again. A mixture of emotions, and not all of them good, welled up inside my throat.

Something was entirely right and wrong at the same time. I had enjoyed Soubi touching me. why did I also feel so strangely guilty? I gripped the front of his loose white shirt into my hands, balling up the fabric inside my fists. Panic instantly bled into Soubi's voice as the spell around us shattered into pieces.

"Ritsuka? Did I hurt you?"

I held onto him harder, trying desperately to cling to a memory that I no longer possessed. "No..."

"I didn't mean for it to go that far,"

I nodded into Soubi's chest. "I wanted it to go that far."

Silence. I felt his breath ruffle my hair. Despite how strange I felt after the fact, the actual content of our actions had made me feel things I hadn't ever felt before. My mind wandered into darker places. Touching Soubi that way, for one example. I knew he would strip in the middle of the park if I only asked him too. I was getting carried away with my curiosity. That felt dangerous. I released Soubi's shirt and looked up into his worried eyes.

"I want to go home."

"OK, I will walk you there."

"No...not to my house." I used my bossy voice, hopping off of his lap like I did it everyday. But this time, my legs buckled slightly after I jumped.

Soubi's eyes did a curious sweep of my figure. I noticed how he was looking at me slowly, his eyes lingering on my rear.

"You want to stay with me?"

"I will... sleep with you tonight." I tried to sound commanding. He only smiled at me, taking my hand again to walk me out of the park.

Epilogue, Soubi's point-of-view:

I opened the front door into a pool of darkness, infiltrated by yellow light streaming in from the window. I shepherded the small Sacrifice into the room. He yawned and stretched. I watched his young muscles twitch and contort beneath his clothing. I loved Ritsuka. He was the picture of innocence and he restored a small bit of my faith in the human race. The moment in the park had been a sweet surprise. I didn't mean to make him release inside my hand. My intent hadn't even been to touch the boy at all. But he seemed so earnest to form a connection with that he knew Seimei had never established.

Ritsuka stood beside the bed and began to casually undress. I watched with a creeping feeling that he intended me to stare at him as he lifted the shirt over his head. He folded it neatly and sat it on the floor. Then he slid his shorts down his slender legs. These too he folded with a rigid sense of perfection. Part of me-, a darker part of me-, hoped that Ritsuka would get completely naked right in front of me, even with the Zeros sleeping across the room. But with a sick disappointment, my little Master slid into my bed in just his underwear and socks.

"Well...?" he called me after an appropriate amount of stillness. I sprang into movement, feigning an obedient response to Ritsuka's request.

I followed his suit and undressed in the same manner. I left my glasses on the nightstand and gently laid beside the small, cat-eared boy. We would have a tough day once the sun rose. Moonless would likely return that night. And what if the daylight shed something new on what had happened? What if he regretted it? I never would...but Ritsuka...the boy who was usually so cold, so unwillingly coddled, had voluntarily submitted into my arms. I had to say something that would probe into the issue.

"I'm happy you want to be close to me...Ritsuka."

He grumbled.

"May I hold you?"

He moved up against me beneath the blanket. His soft, warm body curled against mine in a new closeness that filled me with a comforting, mind-numbing happiness. Daringly, I let my hands fall and cup his small rear-end. I was rewarded with a tiny squeak and no sign of protest. I wanted to explore Ritsuka...get to know him more intimately before time ran out. I was so afraid that he would push me away in the morning.

"I know you want to say it...just say it," he said into my ear. His voice wasn't commanding, it sounded uncharacteristically unsure.

"Say what?"

"Tell me...tell me it, Soubi."

"I love you, Ritsuka."

" go to bed!" he whisper shouted against my hair. His small face was laying on my side of the pillow.

I laughed under my breath and pulled him tighter against me. "Of course, Ritsuka."

- End.