Loveless, From Your Head Down To Your Toes

Title: From Your Head Down To Your Toes [Soubi/Ritsuka]
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, I suppose. no discussion of Soubi’s third piercing, but blushes in interesting places. Shota? I have no soul.
Summary: Ritsuka’s new outfit definitely needs something…Soubi helps accessorize.
AN: Happy birthday, Soubi! about an hour late, but hey, i’m still up.

From Your Head Down To Your Toes

“Soubi! I told you not to smoke here! It’s a school!”

Not bothering to hide his amused half-smile, Soubi turned his head to see Ritsuka glaring at him, arms crossed and tail bristling.

“I’m not smoking,” Soubi pointed out, holding up his hands to wiggle his empty fingers. His words steamed as he spoke; an early cold snap had settled over the neighborhood the night before. “I’m just breathing.”

Ritsuka’s scowl wavered uncertainly, and Soubi reached over to pull Ritsuka into a hug, ignoring his protest. Wrapping his arm around Ritsuka’s shoulders, Soubi frowned when his fingers sank into Ritsuka’s shirt.

“Where’s your coat?” Soubi asked, realizing that Ritsuka’s tail wasn’t bristling from irritation; the fur on his ears was puffed up because of the cold as well. “You’re shivering.”

“M’toobigfrit,” Ritsuka mumbled into Soubi’s chest, pressing in closer against his warmth.

“You are taller,” Soubi agreed, quite adept at deciphering Ritsuka by now. “But it’s almost winter, you have to get a new one.”

“Let’s just go.” Ritsuka pulled away, but let Soubi hold his hand as they walked, his fingers making Soubi shiver a little.

Soubi was able to get a better look at Ritsuka when they’d gotten inside a shop and Ritsuka was settled with hot tea—”I don’t like tea,” Ritsuka had complained, but then had gone silent when Soubi asked if he could even remember ever having it—kicking his legs lightly against the rungs of his chair.

His sleeves weren’t quite covering the bones of his wrist anymore, and Soubi knew for a fact that those jeans were borrowed from Youji. There was no doubt about it; Ritsuka was starting his growth spurt, and judging by the progression of bandages Soubi had seen that week alone, he wasn’t the only one noticing.

“What’re you staring at me like that for?” Ritsuka demanded, tea finally cool enough that he could wrap his fingers around the cup. Soubi reached over under the table to brush fingers above Ritsuka’s knee, and Ritsuka slapped his hand away.

******

Something about Ritsuka’s sweater bothered Soubi after school the next day. There was nothing strange about it, it was a normal black sweater, ribbed, not nearly thick enough, but still, nothing strange about it.

“Soubi!” Ritsuka was clutching his bag to hide the way his hands were trembling. “I said, what do you have behind your back?!” Soubi shook himself a little.

“Put down your bag,” he instructed, smiling in that way that made Ritsuka frown harder, “and close your eyes.”

Ritsuka stared at him for a long moment before beginning to comply suspiciously. “You’d better not try anything funny,” he said as he pulled the strap of his bag over his head and leaned it against the school wall. “People can see us.” Giving Soubi one last warning glare, Ritsuka shut his eyes.

“Closed?” Soubi asked, leaning closer; Ritsuka wrinkled his nose in impatience. “No peeking.”

“Soubi!” Ritsuka snapped, then gasped a little as a warm weight settled over his shoulders.

“Don’t open them yet,” Soubi ordered, running his fingers across Ritsuka’s shoulders to make a few adjustments. He took an unnecessarily long time doing it, until Ritsuka began to squirm from impatience. “You can look.”

Ritsuka’s eyes snapped open, and he blinked at Soubi for a second before looking down to see the ankle-length trench coat draped over his shoulders. It was black, and soft where his fingers brushed it.

And, except for the color, it looked suspiciously like Soubi’s. Ritsuka rolled his eyes and said “Soubi!” again in exasperation.

“It’s a little long now,” Soubi said, smiling a little, going back to fiddling with the collar and smoothing the shoulders, “but you’ll probably grow out of it by spring. Warm?”

Ritsuka was grumbling something that Soubi couldn’t hear, but smiled at anyway, as Ritsuka slipped his arms into the sleeves of the coat. He buried his hands deep in the pockets and, to Soubi’s satisfaction, finally stopped shivering. Soubi slid his hands down to button the coat, letting his fingers linger over the places they pressed in between the buttons. When he teased Ritsuka about the blush dusting his nose, Ritsuka snapped that he was still cold, and Soubi chuckled and let Ritsuka push his hands off.

“Let’s go,” Ritsuka said, starting down the sidewalk.

“Hmm,” Soubi murmured, realizing with a small frown that this meant he wouldn’t get to hold Ritsuka’s hand every day. Next time he would have to examine his plan for such major pitfalls. He settled for wrapping his arm around Ritsuka’s shoulders, and Ritsuka didn’t protest for once, since he was occupied examining one of the shiny black buttons.

Ritsuka was so preoccupied that he didn’t seem to notice where they were going for most of the trip. They walked along in silence until they were only a block or two away from Soubi’s apartment.

“Soubi, what’re we doing here?”

“You said Kio could draw you today,” Soubi reminded, fingers tightening just a little on Ritsuka’s shoulder. “Did you forget?”

“No!” Ritsuka snapped, shoving his hands into his pockets a little deeper. He had nothing else to add until they were up the stairs and ducking into the warm apartment.

“Ri-chan!” Natsuo chirped, pouncing on Ritsuka as soon as he came in the door. Youji, who was draped over Kio’s shoulder as Kio tried to shake him off and sketch at the same time, looked up from where they were sitting on the floor.

“What’s with the coat?” he asked.

“It’s cold,” Ritsuka grumbled, enduring Natsuo’s hugging and ear-pulling until Soubi shooed him off. He began shrugging off the coat.

“Actually,” Kio piped up, finally elbowing Youji out of the way, “could you leave it on? It’s more dramatic.” Ritsuka raised an eyebrow, but tugged the coat back up, slapping away Soubi’s hand when he reached to straighten the collar.

Kio arranged Ritsuka sitting backwards on one of Soubi’s two chairs, cheek pillowed on his wrists on top of the back of the chair, coat flared out behind him. Soubi herded Zero away a little and engaged them in a card game that they had invented.

It had a lot of complicated rules, like having to pinch or slap the other person at least once every twenty seconds, and snatching cards from each other in the manner most likely to cause a wicked papercut. Soubi found it hard to focus with Ritsuka posing off to the side, but Zero didn’t seem to notice when Soubi let his hand of cards dangle loosely over his knee while he simply stared openly at Ritsuka.

Ritsuka developed a blush, and a pointed interest in the wall several feet above Soubi’s head.

Something about the way Ritsuka looked, draped over the chair, was nagging at Soubi. Something about the spill of his hair in between his ears, of his eyelashes over his cheekbones, of the coat over his wrists…

He’d completely lost track of time when Kio flipped his notebook shut and stretched out the kinks in his neck. Ritsuka stirred, blinking slowly as if he’d been asleep, a pink splotch across his cheek where it’d been pressed into his wrist.

“Done?” Youji demanded, as he and Natsuo stirred from the tangle they’d been lying on the floor and hopped up to begin yanking at Kio. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

“I promised them ice cream,” Kio explained long-sufferingly as Zero shoved his coat at him and pulled him along. That was all the explanation he managed to get out before they shoved him out the door. There was a disturbing crashing noise from the stairs, and then silence, as Soubi and Ritsuka shared a glance.

“Ritsuka,” Soubi asked, “have you worn that sweater before?”

“No,” Ritsuka said quickly, dropping his eyes. Soubi smiled just a little as he considered and discarded the idea of teasing Ritsuka about his burning desire for honesty.

“I’ve seen it before.” Soubi took the two steps separating them and pushed the coat off Ritsuka’s shoulders to get a better look, letting his fingers drift over the soft material. The material was thin from multiple washings; Soubi could feel the ridges of Ritsuka’s collarbones against his fingertips. “I have, haven’t I, Ritsuka?”

“Probably,” Ritsuka murmured, still not raising his eyes. Soubi reached down to grasp the hem of the sweater and pulled it over Ritsuka’s head in one smooth motion so he wouldn’t notice whose name was written on the tag. Ritsuka didn’t resist, and let his hands fall back to his sides as soon as they were free of the sleeves.

Soubi bent to press a kiss to the spot where Ritsuka’s neck met his shoulder, then slid his lips up to the curve of Ritsuka’s ear. He thought about flinging the sweater as far away as possible, but just draped it over the nearby chair, reasoning that Ritsuka might need it at some future point.

“You aren’t going to yell at me?” Soubi inquired, hands settling on Ritsuka’s waist, just above the borrowed jeans; Ritsuka’s skin was nearly scalding against his palms. “Not that I’m complaining.”

“I was hot,” Ritsuka shrugged with one shoulder, “it’s too warm in here.”

“I can fix that…” Soubi skimmed fingers just under Ritsuka’s waistband, and Ritsuka’s skin flared impossibly warmer.

“Soubi!” When Ritsuka shoved Soubi back a step, Soubi couldn’t help but smile at the blush spreading down Ritsuka’s pale chest. The smile faded just a little when he noticed how Ritsuka’s sharp frame was beginning to fill out with a wiry strength.

Ritsuka was growing up, Soubi realized again as he tugged Ritsuka forward into a hug; he could feel it in the muscles moving across Ritsuka’s shoulder blades under his palm, in the place where Ritsuka’s nose pressed into his sternum, in the way Ritsuka’s hands crept around Soubi’s waist instead of hanging limply at his sides.

And then they began to slip under his shirt.

“Ritsuka?” Soubi asked, swallowing the tremor in his voice.

“You get to take off my clothes,” Ritsuka shrugged with one shoulder again, and Soubi kissed it reflexively. “It’s only fair.”

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all bad.

Several hours later, Ritsuka had been surprisingly easy to talk into wearing one of Soubi’s button-down shirts home, on the grounds that it wouldn’t be as warm under the coat. He had ordered, however, as he’d finger-combed his hair smooth again, that Soubi not walk him home. It was perfectly safe, he’d insisted, it wasn’t even dark yet! Anyway, he’d have to run the whole way to make his curfew.

Soubi hadn’t pressed the matter, knowing by now that the price of moving forward with Ritsuka was knowing when to let him stew on his own for awhile afterwards. It seemed communicable these days, or at least Soubi had caught it.

The fading autumn light sneaking in the window found Soubi, minus a shirt but plus a sweater, burying fingers in the soft, dark material, stroking a thumb over the tag, which read ‘Aoyagi’ in a sharp, familiar hand.

His phone chirped from somewhere in the blankets, letting him know that Ritsuka had made it home safely. A long moment passed before Soubi laid the sweater aside and began patting down his bed for the phone.

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