(note: this story was basically written in an attempt to write something based on the above image)
There were times, after arguments about various topics finally ended, that Soubi would fall asleep with his arms still wrapped around Ritsuka. It was a habit of his, to hold the younger male in his arms after their words ceased and a kiss or two was given, although on most occasions Ritsuka‘s lips would shy away from Soubi‘s. It was always quite a long while before he let him go, and on some occasions, he didn’t let go at all. Ritsuka liked those times best.
Since their narrow escape from Shichisei Gakuen, Ritsuka and Soubi’s lives had become completely entwined with each other’s; it was almost impossible for them not to be when Soubi was the only one there to rely on. Soubi seemed to enjoy being relied on, and Ritsuka had to admit that the older male took better care of him than either of his parents ever had. It was like when Seimei had taken care of him… and then Ritsuka shuddered at the thought of his older brother, the cold madness that had been in his eyes that was nothing like Seimei… his eyes had always been so gentle. Soubi had not lied to him after all… though Seimei was alive, Seimei was not Ritsuka’s Seimei now… the Seimei Ritsuka had known was dead, replaced with something malicious and ugly inhabiting the same body. The same person, but painfully altered.
Ritsuka was grateful now for what Soubi had done… disobeyed Seimei for the first time in his life and taken Ritsuka away from him… fled from Seimei as he had wanted to do as a teenager but never had done, all because of his complete devotion to Seimei. And that night, that devotion had been broken when Ritsuka was in danger. Soubi’s only devotion now belonged to Ritsuka, and he had told him this as they retreated from the school, Ritsuka clutched tightly in his arms as though he was afraid he would lose him forever if he dropped him. Ritsuka hadn’t cared then, hadn’t thought about much but the fact that he had finally seen Seimei again and Soubi was taking him away from him. He had told Soubi he hated him when he refused to take him back, and he had never seen Soubi react to anything the way he reacted to those three words. Ritsuka had never seen Soubi have to hold back tears.
He was ashamed now that he had acted that way and hurt Soubi the way he had. It was because of Soubi that they had eluded Seimei for so long. He had an acute sense for when Seimei was near, and often he woke Ritsuka in the dead of night and told him they had to leave, to travel a distance and stay in a different hotel, to stay safe from him. But the one thing Soubi didn’t know, couldn’t tell him, was how long it would be until they were safe, how long they would have to keep traveling. Ritsuka would have missed home if there was anything to miss. But there wasn’t; here, he had Soubi, and not much else he had left behind amounted to half as much.
It was a bit tiring, though, constantly running, staying in a different hotel nearly every night, always in hiding. Ritsuka felt like a convict on the run at the worst of times. But at the best of times, on certain nights, they would both be calm, things would be peaceful, and it would almost feel as though they were normal again.
Tonight was one of those nights… Soubi lying beside him under the cool sheets, eyes closed, dreaming. Ritsuka, safe inside the haven of his companion’s arms, watched him sleep. He loved the way Soubi looked when he was asleep. He was beautiful when he was awake, too, of course, but in sleep, the effect was maximized. Strands of blonde hair hung carelessly across his pale face, and his features were softened in a look of complete contentment.
There was nothing as childlike about Soubi as his expression when he slept, when he looked so soft and vulnerable, and it was Ritsuka’s favorite time to watch him. The pain that so often showed itself in the blonde’s intense blue eyes and smooth, angular face was never present when he was lost in dreams, and for that brief time before he woke, he looked like a normal, happy person. Lately, though he couldn’t explain it exactly, it was Ritsuka’s favorite thing in the world; to see his Fighter happy.
Moving his hand slowly, delicately, Ritsuka brushed the strands of silken hair from Soubi’s face, bringing into clearer view his closed eyelids fringed with long, dark lashes and his soft, pale cheeks, perfect save for a small scar near his mouth. His fingertips stroked the skin lightly after the hair was pushed away, and he told himself that it was an accident. But… that skin was so soft. He touched the perfect cheek again, feeling its smoothness under his fingertips.
He recalled a time the week before when, on a random, uncharacteristically sentimental whim, Soubi had bought him a single white rose at a vendor’s cart when they were out on a Sunday afternoon, risking discovery on a simple “vacation“ from hiding, as Soubi called it. Ritsuka had been embarrassed by the gesture, but something inside had been delighted by it. The rose’s petals had been smooth and white, flawless in texture, and as he touched Soubi’s skin, he was reminded of those perfect petals. It was soft and just as delicate. Soubi, though he didn’t like to let on, was much more vulnerable than met the eye, and when he slept, it became clearer to Ritsuka.
“It’s okay to keep touching you, right, Soubi?” Ritsuka thought as his fingers trailed across the sleeping man’s skin. “You wouldn’t mind even if you were awake, right?” there was a small sense of discomfort in allowing himself to give in to this sudden and strange desire to touch his Fighter. But there was no harm in it, right? As long as Soubi didn’t find out, there was no reason to be embarrassed about it. Besides, Soubi did things like this to him all the time. Didn’t that grant Ritsuka the right to touch him as well? This internally settled, Ritsuka turned his attention back to the Fighter’s pretty face.
Until recently, he had not thought of Soubi as being beautiful, but now that he had started thinking it, he couldn’t stop. Everything about the older man was beautiful. Completely. His delicate, soft eyelids, where Ritsuka’s thumb brushed gently, feeling the soft line of dark lashes tickle him. His slender, curved nose, which Ritsuka ran his fingertip down the length of, noticing that if he looked closely there he could see a small dusting of faint, faded freckles, barely visible now that Soubi was an adult. And then there were those smooth, pale lips that so often caressed his mouth and face. Trembling slightly, Ritsuka slowly slid his fingertip across the lower one. He leaped backward in shock when a soft sigh escaped Soubi’s lips, tumbling out of Soubi’s arms, and quickly withdrew his hand.
“You don’t have to stop that,” Soubi said without opening his eyes. Ritsuka squeaked, ears flattening back on his head for a moment as they always did when he felt threatened.
“S-Soubi! You were awake?” Ritsuka’s face burned with blush as he tried to shake off this latest humiliation. Soubi’s eyes glittered in a way only his could as he watched him, a mischievous gleam that always made his cheeks burn. He quickly slipped from the edge of the bed and stood on the floor beside it… anything was better than Soubi giving him that knowing smirk from a close distance. But surprisingly, there was no smirk.
Slowly, the Fighter rose into a sitting position and smiled slightly at him. “Please don’t stop,” was his only answer.
“Soubi…” Ritsuka had become better at dealing with his Fighter slowly in the time they had known each other, but he never knew how to react when he acted this way… like he truly needed Ritsuka rather than wanted him, like it wasn’t choice that kept the two close but some deep, unbreakable connection that Soubi struggled so hard to form.
“Please…” there was a kind of desperation in the blonde’s eyes, and he sensed a slight shakiness in his voice, as though Ritsuka’s moment of tenderness toward him had set him horribly off balance, as though he was so unaccustomed to tenderness that such a small display affected him like no one else Ritsuka had met. His eyes met Soubi’s, and the pleading that he saw there was almost enough to make him wonder if deep down Soubi was always just as vulnerable as he seemed in that moment. Slowly, carefully, he raised a hand to Soubi’s face, running his fingertips once more across the smooth cheek. When he didn’t get an unpleasant reaction, he did it again, this time raising his other hand to Soubi’s face as well.
Soubi was silent and still beneath his hands, his breath coming calm and steady under the gentle touch of his Sacrifice. Delicately and carefully, Ritsuka became more confident, exploring the elegant dips and curves of Soubi’s features, his fingertips trailing gently over his Fighter and soothing wounds long healed but still painful. The blonde man sat unmoving, allowing himself to be caressed like a kitten, and Ritsuka noticed only now the sense of adoring obedience that Soubi carried about him… the complete trust in Ritsuka, the willingness to do anything, follow any order, to make him happy. He had not believed it when Soubi said he would do anything until now, and looking at him, he could feel an all-too familiar ache rising in his chest.
He was leaning carefully over his Fighter as he stroked his face, and looking down into those closed eyes, the ache magnified itself. Soubi had been through so much for the sake of love… his love for Seimei, his love for whoever else Ritsuka had never learned of; he knew Seimei could not possibly have been the only one. Soubi was one who carried an aura of pain about him, in a way that it almost seemed as though pain was all he knew. He had been hurt so many times, and here he was, lying himself completely open before Ritsuka. Completely prepared to be hurt again.
“I won’t hurt you…” it slipped out by accident, so quiet that Ritsuka himself almost didn’t hear it. But Soubi did; his eyes slid halfway open, and Ritsuka now found himself staring into their piercing blue depths rather than closed eyelids.
“Ritsuka…” the small word was so laden with emotion that it made Ritsuka quiver. He had never heard his name spoken this way before. He could feel the blush returning to his cheeks as he stared into those intense blue eyes beneath his.
“Soubi…” was the only thing he could say, trembling slightly as his hands moved across Soubi’s face once more, surprised to hear that his voice was just as weighed down with feeling as Soubi’s had been. He found himself leaning in closer as he caressed Soubi’s skin, able to see in even finer detail the smooth features, the fiery sapphire eyes. He stroked gently, tenderly, as though Soubi would break if he didn’t. It really did seem at that moment that Soubi could break, that he was fragile enough to shatter into a million pieces, as those blue eyes slid shut once more and Ritsuka was aware of the Fighter’s slight trembling beneath his hands as he caressed his cheeks, his temples, his lips.
“Ritsuka…” he whispered again, his voice quavering slightly. He slowly brushed his cheek against Ritsuka‘s hand, nuzzling into his touch as a soft sigh escaped his lips. Since childhood, Ritsuka had been playfully teased about his similarity to a feisty cat, but at this moment it was Soubi who was like a kitten, nuzzling against his hand in a restrained but desperate plea for affection, and Ritsuka brushed more tenderly at his cheek, moving a hand across Soubi’s hair and stroking that, too.
“Pity isn’t enough to make my heart ache like this…”
Soubi welcomed the hand on his hair and reached up his own hand to stroke Ritsuka’s fingers for a moment before he lowered it and allowed him to continue. At the touch on his hand, Ritsuka’s breath hitched and he could not remember having this reaction to anything before. There was something different at that moment… something in Soubi’s face and presence that made Ritsuka feel weak as he trembled before his Fighter. And this feeling… this strange and dangerous feeling he had ignored for so long, this feeling that Soubi made him feel, flared over his senses in a terrifying wave of bliss.
“Pity is never enough to make me feel this way…”
Ritsuka’s hands left Soubi’s hair and returned to his face, running gently down his cheeks. One hand slipped under Soubi’s chin, delicately using its fingertips to tilt his face upward. “I… I love you, Soubi,” he whispered, hand still on Soubi’s chin, the backs of his fingers on the other hand brushing his cheek lightly. In that moment, Soubi’s entire air changed… his brow knit itself with emotion as his lips parted slightly to let out a soft sound, somewhere between a gasp and a sigh.
Shaking slightly, Ritsuka looked down at the man who had said those words to him so many times himself, now rendered completely enraptured and helpless by simply hearing them back. How many times had he heard Soubi say he loved him? And how many of those times had Soubi ached with his entire being to hear those words uttered back, sincere and full of promises he so deeply needed fulfilled? Trembling and unsure, Ritsuka lowered his head, his fingertip stroking Soubi’s chin. He parted his lips slightly as he lowered himself, slowly and hesitantly, eyes half closed, wavering once, almost abandoning the thought altogether. But he could not turn back now… not when Soubi so sorely deserved what Ritsuka knew this time he had to give him.
“Ritsuka…?” Soubi whispered softly without moving, still obedient, still shaky.
Their mouths collided, parted lips meeting with a force that surprised even Ritsuka. Soubi responded, moving a hand to the back of Ritsuka’s head and twining the fingers through his hair. Ritsuka closed his eyes, kissing Soubi, slightly stunned by the slight wetness he could feel between their lips and the fact that the feeling of Soubi’s mouth against his made him ache in a way it never had before.
In the past, they had kissed plenty of times… all but one by Soubi’s instigation. But it had never felt this way; there was fire in this kiss… energy, as though the two would melt into each other and stay that way. Ritsuka could sense the desperate way Soubi was kissing him, in a way that was nowhere near as measured and controlled as his normal personality. Nothing hidden, nothing kept secret. Purely passionate devotion that he didn’t try to contain. Ritsuka allowed himself to enjoy it, trying to stop his body from shaking as he dropped to his knees onto the bed and allowed Soubi to take him in his arms.
“Ritsuka.” this time, Soubi whispered it against Ritsuka’s mouth, and hearing his name spoken that way melted him in a way he had never thought possible. Soubi was happier than Ritsuka could remember seeing him, clutching Ritsuka tightly in his arms as their lips remained locked together. Ritsuka jumped as Soubi’s tongue brushed against his lip, and he pushed back, allowing their tongues to brush slightly before pulling away and planting a small kiss on Soubi’s forehead; he wasn’t ready to go where any more kissing would most likely lead. Not yet.
To Ritsuka’s surprise, Soubi didn’t complain. He made no clever remark. Instead, he simply pulled Ritsuka to his chest, holding him against him and resting his chin on top of his head. “Did you mean what you said?” he asked, in a voice that was uncharacteristically timid. “That you… love me?”
‘If you love me, Ritsuka… will you give me your whole self? Will you sacrifice your whole being? That is what you do for someone you love?’ Seimei had said, his voice so strange, so much different from the kind Seimei he had known his entire life. “No, Seimei,”he thought firmly. “When you love someone… It means you accept them no matter what you’re done, and that you always want to be together. And I… love Soubi.”
“Yes… of course I meant it.” Ritsuka nuzzled himself closer to Soubi’s chest, and together, in that moment and for the rest of their lives, the world of Aoyagi Ritsuka and Agatsuma Soubi were irreversibly changed.
A bond can be formed in a number of ways… by an action, by a word. And then sometimes, even by a simple feeling. In that hotel room, in that silent moment in the dim light of an autumn evening, a bond was forged. Years into the future, neither of them would remember exactly what was said that night, or the way the evening light looked on the walls, or the exact feeling of each other’s uncertainty.
“Of course I love you, Soubi. I love you…”
But that was of no consequence… because that moment, and that feeling, were carved of something deeper than memory.
Phew! I wrote this in tiny snippets of time before work and during bouts of insomnia... hope it didn't come out too weird!