title: Beloved/Pervert
fandom: Loveless
characters/pairings: Ritsuka/Soubi, vague Kio/Soubi
rating: G
warnings: outsider looking in
summary: Ritsuka defends Soubi.
notes: takes place in anime continuity, post series, much post series... placing Ritsuka where he should be at 15 here.

Kio had to juggle his bags and cell phone and key, but he proved victorious - as long as it didn't matter that he dropped everything as soon as he got inside, which it didn't - and he had gained access to Soubi's apartment.

And found himself staring at Aoyagi Ritsuka.

"If you knew I was outside, why didn't you help me?" he whined, tossing his keys in his shoes as he kicked the bags further inside.

Ritsuka shrugged, still curled up on Soubi's futon. "I didn't know who you were. Soubi would be mad at me if I let just anyone in." He flipped the page he was reading in his book between his fingers, and looked over his knees at Kio's bags, as if they might start walking on their own.

"I had a key! Who did you think it was!?" Kio stormed.

"Soubi," Ritsuka replied simply, and Kio couldn't deny it; if it had been Soubi, Ritsuka did exactly what Soubi would have wanted.

Kio sighed. There was no winning here...

"Help me now, at least," Kio groused.

Reluctantly, Ritsuka stuck a bookmark - one Soubi had made for him, Kio noticed - in his book, and he picked up the bag closest to him. "Eh? Kio? Why do you do Soubi's grocery shopping for him?"

Kio rolled his eyes. "Well, do you think he would do it for himself? He's totally helpless without me, you know!" Even though he was complaining, he was smiling, too. All through college, and even now, in grad school, Soubi just drifted through life, and expected things to be magically taken care of. It hurt a bit to be taken for granted, but the pain was offset by being the one that Soubi could depend on; he was needed by Soubi. "He has no idea how to take care of himself. Can you see Soubi in a grocery store? Picking out meat? Or at a vegetable stand, selecting roots? He's useless!"

Ritsuka snickered a bit, and looked up at Kio from under his heavy bangs. Damn. Kio hated seeing the kid being so damned cute. "You're a kind person, Kio."

That was a bit like a knife twisting in his heart, but Kio just ruffled the kid's hair, and tugged on his ear (not that he was checking, but still). "And you! What are you still doing here? You were here when I left on Friday. Did you spend the weekend?"

Ritsuka blushed, and looked away. "Soubi let me stay, yeah."

Kio blinked. Soubi said some things sometimes, about Ritsuka's home life. Maybe he was just doing it to be a protective big brother... but that wasn't how Soubi thought about this kid... Kio grabbed Ritsuka's tail and pulled, hard. "Now look here, kid! You can't be doing stuff like that! Maybe it was ok a few years ago, but Soubi's a big time pervert! And when you least expect it, he's going to do terrible things that will make your ears fall off prematurely!" Kio used his best dramatic voice. He loved his best dramatic voice.

"Hmph," Ritsuka pulled his tail away from Kio and glared, but not cutely, because Kio did not think Ritsuka was cute. "You should stop saying that, you know. Soubi isn't a pervert."

"What?" Kio laughed. "See, you are too naïve, you have no idea what sort of sick fantasies Soubi is harboring about you."

"They're not sick," Ritsuka bristled. His tail was stiff, and the hair was sticking straight up. His cheeks were getting redder and redder, and he was staring at his feet, like he was reading what he was saying off his toes. "Soubi's honest about how he feels, all the time, to everyone. It can be annoying, but he's dedicated to following his heart. The th-things he dreams about, the things w-we'll do s-someday, well, it's not sick to think about doing that with someone you love. He loves me, and I l-love him, so it's not perverted at all."

There was the sound of something heavy being dropped, and Kio and Ritsuka turned to see a stunned Soubi standing in the door, his arms still out though the portfolio he was carrying was on the ground, and several sheaths of paper were spread away, escaping.

Ritsuka nearly combusted with embarrassment, and he ran out to grab his backpack from next to the futon. He was about to storm past Soubi, having barely shoved his feet into his shoes, but Soubi caught him by the elbow. "D-don't go. Don't run off. Don't... Please. Stay... a bit longer..."

Ritsuka refused to look at Soubi. "Mother... will expect me for dinner, I told her I'd be back on Sunday..."

"B-but, just a little longer..." Soubi cleared his throat. His expression... Kio's heart fell. Soubi was happy. How could it be that he'd never seen Soubi happy before? "I wanted to show you some things." Soubi looked down at his portfolio.

Ritsuka seemed like he might explode, but then he deflated. "Fine. But just a little bit longer! I have to be home." He was almost whining, and he snuck a peek at Soubi from the corner of his eye. Soubi was watching him, and he smiled softly. Ritsuka made a small 'oh' noise, and looked down, but he was smiling, too.

Kio... was an intruder here. A catalyst that was no longer part of the reaction. He was an encumbrance now. Swallowing it all down, he forced himself to smile. "Well, I, at least, should go. Many more rounds to make, of course. Have a good night, boys..."

"No!" Ritsuka looked a bit panicked, and then he bit his lip, looking from Soubi to Kio. "I-it's not necessary. Soubi will want to show you his work, too, right, and then you two can eat together, so S-soubi doesn't have to eat alone. That's right, isn't it, Soubi?"

Soubi smiled. "Of course. Kio. Stay."

Just like that, it was decided. Ritsuka left a little less than a half hour later, after he'd flipped through Soubi's term project. Soubi's work was good, but Kio knew that he had better pieces, pieces he shared with no one, because they were of Ritsuka. At one point, Soubi had reached out and put his hand on Ritsuka's small hand, and Ritsuka had blushed, and smiled.

Kio just watched.

After Ritsuka left, Soubi cooked, completely unaware of the fact that the cupboards that had been bare now had supplies. Kio watched, and wondered who would take care of the two of them, once he was no longer needed to buffer them.

It wasn't fair.

Soubi didn't tell Kio to leave, and so he stayed after dinner, curling up on the futon with his head on Soubi's lap. Soubi absently brushed his fingers through Kio's hair, and Kio stared at Ritsuka's book, discarded on the floor.

"There isn't much time left," Kio sighed.

"Mm?" Soubi looked at his watch. "Are you going somewhere tonight?"

"You're going somewhere," Kio closed his eyes. "And I can't even be mad about it. I just wish..."

"Kio. What are you talking about?"

Soubi's voice was so even, so flat. Kio knew exactly the expression Soubi would be wearing. He knew Soubi's favorite foods, and his preferred brands. He knew the scents that Soubi liked the best, and he knew what shampoo and soap Soubi used. He knew Soubi's shirt and pants size, and his shoe size, and he knew what kind of jewelry Soubi liked to wear.

He knew everything that he could, but it wasn't enough.

"It's not up yet, though," he smiled, and he sat up, and kissed Soubi's unresisting lips. "Will you let me stay the night, Soubi?"

Soubi blinked. "If you like."

Kio smiled, and lay back down on Soubi's knee. "I like." For now, at least.

What he had was better than nothing, for now, after all. As long as that kid made Soubi happy, he had no reason to complain.