Ride Your Wild Horses

A final confrontation between Seimei and Ritsuka requires Ritsuka and Soubi to finally make their choices. Drama with Romance, I-4, spoilers to vol. 9

Pairing(s): Ritsuka/Soubi

One: Ritsuka

"Just listen," Ritsuka said softly and pressed the replay button on the answering machine.

Ritsuka? Ritsuka, it’s me; Seimei.

The voice was gentle and cheerful and made Ritsuka’s guts twist. He wanted the days back when his memories were clean, before he had to remember his brother’s cold, crazy eyes matched to this soft voice.

Ritsuka, do you really not forgive me? Can you really not love me? Well, either way. I want you to come to me, Ritsuka. Come to me at Seven Moons.

A click ended the call and Ritsuka hit erase, hard.

"Will you go?" Soubi asked softly.

Ritsuka turned and leaned against the wall, head bent over his crossed arms. "Yeah." He had to try at least once more, to get his brother back.

To hope there was a brother to be gotten back.

One way or another, he had to be sure.

"Very well." Soubi’s hands clenched for a moment and Ritsuka frowned.

"Maybe you shouldn’t come." He looked up just in time to see the tension in Soubi’s face wipe away to bleakness.

"Of course not," Soubi stated, quiet and flat. "I betrayed you. You can’t trust me."

Ritsuka grabbed Soubi’s sleeve. "That wasn’t what I meant!" This didn’t make a dent in Soubi’s expression and Ritsuka nearly stamped his foot in frustration. "Soubi!" He pulled on Soubi’s sleeve until the man at least looked at him. "Seimei scares you," he said softly.

Soubi dropped to his knees and caught Ritsuka’s hand, bowing his head over it. "You are my master. I need to protect you. But I can’t disobey Seimei!" His voice was harsh and drawn. "I can’t even beg your forgiveness for that."

Ritsuka frowned, worried, and wound his arms around Soubi’s shoulders; Seimei really brought out the worst of this in Soubi, and any way he turned that thought he hated it. "Don’t be an idiot. If there’s nothing you can do about it, it isn’t your fault." Soubi said nothing and Ritsuka chewed his lip for a moment. Finally he ventured, "Do you want to try? To do something about it?"

"I can’t really imagine that." Soubi looked up and there were tight lines around his eyes, but the look in them was open and pleading. "But I don’t want to leave you."

Ritsuka nodded slowly and wound his arms tighter around Soubi’s neck, burying his face in Soubi’s shoulder. "You come too, then," he whispered.

Two: Soubi

Soubi didn’t want to leave Ritsuka, but, looking into the unforgiving chill of Seimei’s eyes, he was afraid he was about to.

"I killed the Loveless Fighter." Seimei smiled, bright and careless, and Soubi swallowed hard past familiarity. "What makes you think you’re different?" His smile turned hard. "Destroy yourself. And then Ritsuka will be all mine again."

Ritsuka’s voice broke as he yelled, "Stop!"

Soubi looked over at Ritsuka through the floating after-shreds of battle spells, shivering. "Ritsuka. I’m sorry…" At least he wouldn’t take Ritsuka with him—in the end his unbound nature was a mercy after all. He’d barely cleared his throat to do as Seimei ordered, though, when Ritsuka caught his wrists, staring up at him.

"No." His hands tightened.

The necessity of following Seimei’s order shook Soubi’s whole body, now, and he stumbled down to the floor in Ritsuka’s insistent grip. "I’m sorry," he repeated hoarsely. "I can’t—"

Ritsuka’s fingers touched his lips and Soubi started.

"I know."

Soubi stared at Ritsuka, wonder distracting him for a moment. Ritsuka had a tiny smile on his face and his ears were pitched ruefully. He watched Soubi with grave eyes, child’s eyes, heart-hurtingly clear. In that clarity, will flashed like links of a steel chain—will and determination.

"I didn’t understand," Ritsuka told him simply. "You surprised me. I didn’t understand any of this." His wave took in the building around them and the pair behind him. "But I think… I think maybe I do now." Ritsuka bit his lip and his voice turned small. "It scares me. But…"

Ritsuka flung his arms around Soubi’s neck and Soubi could feel him trembling.

"I understand, now. So. Your name… is Loveless." Ritsuka’s voice rang in Soubi’s head like a bell as he repeated, "Your name is Loveless."

Soubi felt the connection, a piercing shock through his solar plexus, or his heart, or his soul, whatever it truly was that anchored a bond, and he cried out, clutching Ritsuka against him, eyes wide and blind. Ritsuka held on just as tight, half laughing and half crying against Soubi’s neck.

"I am your Sacrifice. You are my Fighter," Ritsuka whispered. And even softer, "I love you."

"Yes." Soubi bowed his head to Ritsuka’s shoulder, breathless with passion and dazed with shock. "Yes, Ritsuka, I swear. I belong to you, body and heart and soul." He felt dizzy with how good it was to belong completely again. And then he twitched at the lazy lash of Seimei’s voice.

"He’s still mine first, though. And I gave you an order, Soubi."

"No." Ritsuka drew in a long breath and straightened, ignoring the two at his back, taking Soubi’s face in his hands. His chin firmed stubbornly and Soubi thought he might cheerfully drown in the fierceness of Ritsuka’s eyes. "Soubi, I order you. You will not obey Seimei."

Soubi jerked, locked suddenly between two orders neither of which he could disobey. His voice turned thready. "Ritsuka…" Compulsion and the fresh bond pulled at him, opposing, and he panted, trying to catch his breath, fighting to submit to Ritsuka’s will and only Ritsuka’s will. "I… I will… not… obey… S-Sei…"

Seimei laughed, bright and sharp, and Soubi flinched.

Ritsuka’s eyes blazed and he wrapped his arms around Soubi again, whispering in his ear. "This is my choice. And you are my Fighter. You and no one else."

As hard as the struggle had been to reach it, the change was just as simple as that. A Fighter must obey his Sacrifice without question or hesitation. That truth was engraved in Soubi deeper even than Seimei’s name.

And Ritsuka was now his Sacrifice.

Warmth flowed through Soubi, and he relaxed. Soft and serene, he answered, "I will not obey Seimei." He took one of Ritsuka’s hands in his and bowed his head to kiss the palm. "I am your Fighter. I obey only you." He rose and smiled down at Ritsuka. "Our name is Loveless."

Ritsuka smiled back, shaky. "All right, then." He turned, standing at Soubi’s side, and pointed at Beloved. His voice firmed, low with sadness and hard with determination. "Defeat them."

The bond wound around them both and Soubi clung to it, his shield against the frozen rage on Seimei’s face. "Yes, Ritsuka," he said, calmly, and raised his hand.

Three: Soubi

Kio looked up as Soubi stripped off his paint-spattered shirt and tossed it in the solvent-before-washing basket.

"You really did get rid of the bastard. Good."

Soubi stared over his shoulder, arrested. "What?" Kio wasn’t there, he couldn’t possibly know what had happened.

Kio snorted and nodded at Soubi’s neck. "Those cuts are finally scabbing over the way they should." He turned back to cleaning his brushes and sponges, scrubbing more viciously than even oils really warranted. "Makes me sick every time I think of what he must have been doing to keep them raw this long…"

Soubi didn’t bother correcting Kio; it would take far too much explaining. Instead he made for the mirror. They couldn’t really be…?

They were.

He stared, running his fingers over the knitting edges of the name. Even when Seimei had cut their bond, however he’d done that, these had stayed raw—one of the things that had made him truly wonder whether Seimei was still alive. But now…

Was it Ritsuka?

Warmth stole through his veins at the thought that Ritsuka held him tightly enough to make this happen, even if he didn’t see how it possibly could.

The teachers might be able to tell him, he supposed.

"Kio," he called, "I need to borrow your car again."

Four: Ritsuka

Ritsuka folded back his ears and hung onto his patience with both hands. He wanted to be sure Soubi was all right. And he wouldn’t kick an injured person in the shins.

Wouldn’t. Wouldn’t. Really wouldn’t….

"Hm." Ritsu-sensei ran his fingers over the old cuts on Soubi’s neck some more. "Well, I suppose we’ll see. I doubt it will ever actually heal. But for now, at least, you seem to have established a genuine bond with Ritsuka. It’s proper enough for him, at least, to take a blank Fighter, given the Loveless Fighter is dead." His hand rested on Soubi’s bare chest and Soubi twitched.

Ritsuka couldn’t take it any more. "Get away from Soubi," he snapped, glaring at Ritsu-sensei, tail lashing. He didn’t care if the man was blind, he was going to stop fingering Soubi right now!

Ritsu-sensei’s lips curled. "Quite a proper bond." He stepped back, feeling for his chair and lowering himself into it.

Ritsuka stomped forward and caught Soubi’s hand tight in his, not mollified. "And Soubi is the Loveless Fighter!" Soubi stepped closer to him and the singing line of their bond coiled around them both. Ritsuka switched his tail, vindicated.

Ritsu-sensei sniffed. "If you’d come and been taught when you should have, you’d know the difference—"

"Ritsu!" Nagisa-sensei broke in, staring at Ritsuka and Soubi. "They are!"

Ritsuka ignored them both, too busy noticing the warmth in his palm. Hesitantly, he unclasped Soubi’s hand and looked, eyes widening. Black letters faded up onto his skin. He looked over at Soubi, questioning, but Soubi was staring, transfixed at his own hand.

There were letters in his palm, too.

Nagisa-sensei seized their hands, examining them with growing disbelief, but Ritsuka was too busy looking up at Soubi to protest much. Soubi’s eyes were wide and shocked. "Does this mean…"

"It’s not possible," Nagisa-sensei interrupted again, letting them go and backing off. "Ritsu, they’re both Loveless! They both have the name on them!"

Ritsu-sensei seemed to be too stunned to say anything, which a corner of Ritsuka’s mind noted, rather nastily, was a nice change. Ritsuka reached out for Soubi’s hand again, pressing their palms together. Soubi’s eyes warmed, slow and wondering, looking down at Ritsuka for a long moment before looking up at the two teachers, cool again.

"Should it have been possible for Seimei to break his bond with me, once the name Beloved was written?" he asked, mildly. "He did, though."

"So much," Ritsuka put in, "for being taught properly." He tugged on Soubi’s hand. "Let’s go, okay?"

Soubi inclined his head, hiding a faint glint in his eye. "Whatever you wish." He held the door for Ritsuka without letting go of his hand and left the two adults still sputtering behind them.

Ritsuka drew a deep breath once they were out of the building. "I don’t think," he said firmly, "that I need to learn anything from them."

"I couldn’t agree more," Soubi murmured, thumb brushing Ritsuka’s wrist.

Ritsuka looked down at their joined hands and up at Soubi a bit shyly. "It’s… it’s where you kissed. When you agreed to be with me."

"That’s the strength of your heart and your will, Ritsuka," Soubi said softly. "To claim even me for your own, forever." He leaned down, fingers stroking the line of Ritsuka’s jaw, lifting his head, and kissed him gently. "I’m glad."

Ritsuka kissed back, light and soft, cheeks heating a bit. "Let’s go home," he murmured.

Five: Ritsuka

Ritsuka felt queasy. "Are you sure this will work?"

"Yes, I’m sure," Kio-san told him firmly. "Listen to the man with the body modifications." He paused to eye Soubi and added, "The healthy ones."

Soubi sniffed and leaned back in his chair to light a cigarette.

"You’re the one who wanted to know," Kio-san admonished. "So listen up. Keep picking off the scabs and cover the cuts with this," he tapped a bottle of greenish goo on the table. "It’ll take longer to heal, but it won’t scar."

Ritsuka swallowed hard and took a deep breath to settle his stomach. He was a little afraid of how Soubi might answer the next question, but the tiny smile on Soubi’s face when Kio-san mentioned not scarring made him ask it anyway. "Can I… Is there some way I can help?"

Soubi looked up to meet his eyes, faint smile softening. "You’ve already done it." He stood up and herded Kio-san out. "All right, I’ll do it. And be careful," he added as Kio-san raised a finger and opened his mouth. Closing the door behind his friend he came back to Ritsuka and bent to place a kiss in Ritsuka’s palm. "And I will belong only and completely to you."

That still made Ritsuka’s stomach flutter uncertainly, but Soubi was standing on his feet and his eyes were peaceful and that made Ritsuka happy. He turned his hand to curl around Soubi’s and smiled up at him.