Ratings/Warnings: PG-13 because Ritsuka is fucked up, but not fucked. Yet.
Summary: In which ritsuka does not ask soubi to take his ears, much to fandom's disappointment, but most other things are fair game.
AN: Ritsuka+demanding favors=alksdkjsdjf. Thanks to darkeyedwolf for listening to the rambling, and also for Happy Goody.
Just So Long And Long Enough
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough
-- e e cummings
Soubi looked up from the paper he had been doodling on and smiled at Ritsuka indulgently. The sixth-grader was glowering at him, arms crossed and tail lashing.
"Soubi!" he exclaimed again. "Aren't you listening to me?! I'm asking you a question!"
"Of course I'm listening." Soubi reached across the picnic table bench to stroke one of Ritsuka's ears, and Ritsuka slapped his hand away. "You know I can't answer."
Ritsuka's hands clenched, crinkling the paper he was clutching, but he didn't say anything else. He turned his face away from Soubi, glancing out over the park. Soubi put his arm around the boy's shoulders, sliding closer on the bench.
"Are you cold?" he asked. "You should sit closer."
"Quit it," Ritsuka mumbled, but he didn't move away, and Soubi left his arm where it was. Silence fell again for a few minutes, until Soubi could no longer fight the temptation to bend his head and press lips to Ritsuka's temple, nose buried in the soft hair. "Soubi! I said quit!"
Ritsuka wriggled out from Soubi's grip and climbed off the bench, snatching up his school bag. Soubi didn't try to hold him back, but turned on the bench and stood as well, dusting a few leaves off his coat and tucking his sketchpad under one arm.
"I'll walk you," he said. Really, it was impossible not to smile at Ritsuka when he was scowling like that, black hair framed so beautifully by the falling orange leaves. One slid to a rest between his ears, and Soubi ached to paint it before Ritsuka batted it off in irritation.
"You shouldn't," Ritsuka said, but didn't order him not to when Soubi fell into step beside him, and he took the hand Soubi offered. The only noise as they left the park was the crunching of the leaves under their feet.
The sky was darkening when they reached Ritsuka's street, and Soubi realized with a frown that they'd stayed at the park later than he'd intended.
"Let me come in with you," he said, his eyes resting on the bandage covering Ritsuka's cheekbone.
"No, don't." Ritsuka stepped up onto the stoop of his house, and winced just a little when there was a muffled crash from inside. He pulled his hand out of Soubi's grip and stared at the ground. "Oi, Soubi."
"Yes?" Soubi put his hands in his pockets so that he wouldn't give into the urge to tuck Ritsuka under his arm with his sketchpad and run.
"Tomorrow, bring me a flavor of ice cream I've never had before." Since the Ichiago Cat incident a few days ago, Ritsuka had been testing Soubi by asking for all sorts of strange things. The requests were more often than not unbearably, adorably simple, and if Soubi was falling a bit behind in his classes because of his other 'assignments', it was well worth the twitching tail his successes earned as a result.
"If Ritsuka wants." Soubi chuckled as Ritsuka slipped inside his door, because any other noise he would have made would not have been half so pleasant.
Ritsuka's expression of suspicion as Soubi handed over the dish of the violently green and pink treat the next afternoon went a long way towards mitigating the frustration Soubi smothered when he caught sight of the wrap covering the back of Ritsuka's hand. Surprise lit up face when he tasted it, banishing the rest of Soubi's dark feelings.
"What's it called?" Ritsuka wanted to know as he slid another spoonful into his mouth on the walk home from school, and Soubi forced himself to look away from Ritsuka's lips as he murmured 'sorbet'.
Ritsuka scowled and said he was a jerk, and Soubi wasn't quite on the same page until a few days later when they got ice cream again, and he realized during Ritsuka's order that Ritsuka was conflating 'sorbet' with his name. Soubi failed miserably to suppress the laughter, and Ritsuka hadn't spoken to him until he'd been bribed with a double-scoop green tea sundae.
"Do my English homework," Ritsuka said a few days after the sorbet, using the tone that meant he was half-joking. His eyes widened when Soubi climbed from the floor up onto the bed beside him and took his pencil from him. "Soubi!"
"Mm?" Soubi wrote in the next answer in a reasonable facsimile of Ritsuka's handwriting. His English letters weren't very neat anyway.
"You should tell me to do my own work!" Ritsuka protested.
"It doesn't matter to me whether or not you learn English." Soubi scratched in another answer, than had to erase it. Goodness, homework hadn't been this hard when he was in sixth grade! "There's only one word I want you to know."
"What's that?" Ritsuka still looked torn between getting out of the work and feeling guilty for not doing it himself. Soubi smirked and erased the name at the top of the paper, replacing it with a neatly scripted 'Loveless'. "Soubi!"
Chucking, Soubi let Ritsuka snatch the pencil out of his hand and return the name to normal, then went back to his work, shooting Soubi a dark look once in a while, but not pushing him off the bed.
A few days after that, Soubi felt his phone buzz with an incoming text message, and excused himself from class, ignoring the exasperated look Kio shot him from the next easel over.
Make me laugh, the text message said when he opened his phone.
Soubi spent two and a half minutes typing the dirtiest joke he knew on the infuriatingly small keypad, the one about the Shinto priest with the cat, and then returned to class chuckling himself.
"Soubi!" Ritsuka shouted as soon as his voice would reach across the schoolyard. He screeched to a halt in front of Soubi, who was slouching against the school's name plaque, finishing a cigarette. "You pervert! What'd you send that for?! Yayoi-kun got a look at it and had some sort of convulsion, Yuiko fainted, and Sensei nearly confiscated my phone!"
Even as Ritsuka said it, a blush covering his nose, he couldn't fight the twitching at the corner of his lips, and the giggles broke loose when he looked over his shoulder to find Yayoi doing some sort of frustrated, hopping dance in front of Yuiko, who was trying to fend him off with her math book. Ritsuka scowled abruptly when he realized he was laughing.
"Soubi…" he turned back to Soubi, drawing out the last syllable of his name in reproval. Soubi dropped the rest of his cigarette and ground it out with his heel before tugging Ritsuka close and nuzzling one of his ears, ignoring the boy's squawk.
Well, really, he wasn't made of steel.
Two nights later, Soubi came through Ritsuka's window, making sure to bang his shin on the sill so he didn't startle the boy too much. Ritsuka was sitting at his computer, but his hands were clenched loosely on the desk rather than typing. He didn't turn his head at the noise of Soubi's entrance.
"Ritsuka?" Swallowing against the skittering of his heart, Soubi approached and laid a hand on Ritsuka's shoulder, and when he still got no response, other than a flattening of Ritsuka's ears, he tugged on Ritsuka's shoulder to make the chair swivel around.
Ritsuka didn't resist, his toes scuffing lightly along the carpet, although he did refuse to raise his eyes to Soubi's face. A fresh gash split Ritsuka's left cheekbone, and there were smears of dried blood across the back of his hand.
"Ritsuka." Soubi reached out to cup the damaged cheek, and Ritsuka flinched. "Are you all right?"
"I'm so tired," Ritsuka said. "Soubi, fix it."
"Yes," Soubi sighed with relief, letting his hand drop and going for the door. He'd taken two and a half steps when there was a sharp yank on his sleeve, and he turned to find Ritsuka on his feet, fingers twisted into his coat and eyes glinting.
"Stop it!" he ordered, jerking Soubi back a step. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"Ritsuka asked me to fix it." Soubi winced when Ritsuka gave another yank and he heard a seam in his coat give. "I will gladly do what Ritsuka asks."
"SHUT UP, SOUBI!" Ritsuka's tail whipped furiously. "You're only doing what I tell you because Seimei ordered you to!"
"Ritsuka," Soubi reached down to untwist Ritsuka's hands from his coat and hold them, but Ritsuka jerked out of his grip, "I…"
"I don't want to hear it!" Ritsuka shouted. His face was scrunched in fury, making fresh blood well up along his cheek. "You don't love me, you love him! You're his, just like everybody else! Just…just GET LOST!"
Soubi tried to reach for Ritsuka, but Ritsuka slapped his hand away. "I'm your fighter now, Ritsuka."
"And you have to listen to me, right?" Ritsuka sneered, and Soubi nodded. "Then stop loving me! If you're really mine, you have to listen to my orders now, and I say you have to stop loving me and go away right now!" Ritsuka crossed his arms and turned away from Soubi.
"Soubi!" Ritsuka twisted his neck to look over his shoulder. Tears were spilling over his cheeks as Soubi took his shoulders and steered him over to sit on the bed. "You aren't mine after all, are you? Cause then you'd have to listen to me."
"I don't have to." Soubi got the first aid kit from its place and knelt in front of Ritsuka. "I want to. I want to do everything you ask of me. But now I'm saying no."
"Why?" Ritsuka demanded, not even seeming to feel it when Soubi dabbed at the gash with disinfectant. His hands were clenching restlessly in his lap. "Soubi, I don't understand!"
"I love you, Ritsuka." Taking Ritsuka's hands to force them still, Soubi cleaned the dried blood off his skin. "If you order me to stay away from you, I will do it. If you order me to stop breathing, I will do it. But I will love you."
"Idiot." Ritsuka sniffled as Soubi placed a bandage over his cheek and re-packed the medical supplies back in the box. He said nothing more as Soubi stood to put the box back in its place, then turned towards the window to leave.
Half-turning to look over his shoulder, Soubi found Ritsuka staring at the floor again, but his ears were perked for a response. "Yes?"
"Bring me a drawing tomorrow. It's an order."
Practically shaking with the need to sweep the boy up and make off into the night with him, Soubi just managed to sublimate the urge into a warm smile.
"If Ritsuka wishes."
The next afternoon brought a brilliant blue sky that matched Ritsuka's jacket perfectly as he stood in front of the school gates, hands curled around a heavy sheet of sketch paper.
"Soubi!" Ritsuka shook the sketch paper at Soubi. "What is this?!"
"It's you, of course." Soubi snaked a hand out to ruffle his hair.
"Where are Ritsuka's ears?" Yuiko wanted to know, peering over Ritsuka's shoulder.
"You know what they say." Soubi bent down to brush lips over Ritsuka's burning cheek. "Life imitates art."