Prompt: “I will breathe in a moment / As long as I keep my distance /
I wouldn't want to go messing anything up.”
Warnings: Mild angst, sexual references, mild language, references to child abuse.
Characters/Pairings: One-sided Yuiko/Ritsuka, Soubi/Ritsuka, Kio.
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
Summary: He breaks her heart a little more with every day that passes, and she could tell him the truth, but she won’t.
Comments: Title stolen from The Spill Canvas’ ‘All Hail the Heartbreaker’. The prompt is also from this song. I’m pretty sure some people don’t like Yuiko very much. I didn’t, to begin with, but now I really do like her—it’s really sweet, how much she obviously cares for Ritsuka, and I think that she’d be a good match for him if Soubi hadn’t already claimed that spot (and I love Soubi/Ritsuka). :D I think their friendship is adorable, and in all honesty, I think the anime shines a bad light on her. ^^; Spoilers up to the most recent volume.
When Ritsuka transferred to Yuiko’s school (to her class), Yuiko became his friend. It took some persuasion on her part, along with a lot of persistence, because at first, he told her that he didn’t need anyone. In her opinion, everyone needed someone, so Ritsuka’s attempt to push her away didn’t work. He was stubborn, but so was she; he cracked first, much to her delight, and told her that he would be her friend.
When Ritsuka told Yuiko in a cold and empty voice that his brother was dead (he’d told her before, but this time, it was different), Yuiko became his sister. She knew that he was hiding something from her, because he hadn’t explained the absence he’d taken from school for the past several days before that. When he returned, he seemed different—it was as if he’d lost something precious. The look in his eyes told her that he’d been betrayed, and even though she didn’t understand the hows and the whys of it all, she vowed that she would never betray him like Seimei undoubtedly had.
When Ritsuka finally told Yuiko the real reason for the seemingly ever-present cuts on his face and the bruises on his arms, Yuiko became his mother, too, fussing over every little cut and bruise that wasn’t caused by his real mother, but merely caused by being a young boy. Carelessness. Clumsiness. It was normal, but Yuiko still worried, anyway. She feared for him—feared for what his mother might do to him. He told her that his mother was sick, but in her opinion, it was just an excuse. Above all, she wanted to protect him like Soubi did, because Misaki didn’t.
When Ritsuka came to Yuiko, confused about his feelings for Soubi, she became his counselor (of sorts), telling him that perhaps it was time for him and Soubi to have a serious talk about their relationship. She wasn’t at all surprised to hear Ritsuka say that he believed he was in love with Soubi, because she had been aware of Ritsuka’s feelings for the other man long before Ritsuka himself.
Yuiko genuinely liked Soubi, and had never thought of him as a rival, in spite of the fact that it was fairly obvious that he loved Ritsuka, too.
She learned that day that it was possible to feel both happy and heartbroken at once. Happy because Ritsuka was happy and deliriously in love, and heartbroken because she was not the cause of his joy or the object of his affection.
Things are different now. Ritsuka is less reluctant to rely on her and less likely to hide things from her. He doesn’t talk about his brother much anymore, but when he does, his voice is tinged with sadness and regret, and no longer completely filled with bitterness and betrayal. Yuiko supposes that the anger has faded a little through the years.
Ritsuka doesn’t live with his mother anymore (he moved in with Soubi and Kio last year), and so Yuiko no longer has to worry about him quite as much as she used to, because she knows that he is safe with Soubi. There are no fresh scrapes or bruises to litter his handsome face, but the thin scars remain—reminders that none of them really need.
Ritsua doesn’t complain anymore when Soubi shows up – expectedly or otherwise – at school. His eyes light up in a way that they only do when Soubi is near him. He does complain, however, if more than two hours pass without receiving a single text message from Soubi. It’s cute how some things remain the same.
Today is the first day of their last year of high school, and Yuiko is standing outside of Soubi’s (and Ritsuka’s and Kio’s) door, momentarily lost in her own thoughts. She shakes her head as if to clear it, and then knocks on the door.
She and Ritsuka have been walking to school together since Ritsuka moved, and even though his residence is now a little out of the way for Yuiko, she doesn’t mind.
Kio answers the door, grinning crookedly. “Good morning, Yuiko,” he tells her before turning away and yelling, “All right, you perverts, get your damn clothes on! Yuiko is here, and Rit-chan, you have school! You don’t want to be late the first day of your Senior year!”
Almost immediately, twin cries of “I am not a pervert” can be heard, and Yuiko can’t help but smile. She can easily imagine Ritsuka’s tail flicking back and forth in annoyance.
Except when Ritsuka comes to join Kio at the door (nearly tripping over his own feet in the process, because he’s trying to walk and put on his shoes at the same time), Yuiko sees that Ritsuka’s tail is no longer there, nor are his ears. This meant that he lost them sometime between now – Monday – and Friday afternoon, because they had lunch together that day.
She can’t say that she’s shocked, really, but she finds herself blushing anyway when Ritsuka’s gaze meets her own. It’s a little awkward, because now, she really feels like the odd one out.
Ritsuka shoots a glare at Kio and then smiles broadly at Yuiko. “Sorry about all of this. Ready to go?”
“Yeah,” she replies, knowing that she’s still blushing. “I’m ready.”
And then Soubi joins them, buttoning up his shirt, and Yuiko feels her blush intensify.
Kio rolls his eyes. “Seriously, Sou-chan. Learn to control yourself, huh? Kid’s got school!”
“His fault,” Soubi accuses, clearly amused and not at all ashamed. He presses an affectionate kiss to Ritsuka’s forehead before smiling at Yuiko. “Hello, Yuiko-chan.” His smile is as wide as Ritsuka’s.
“Not all my fault,” Ritsuka shoots back, taking his school bag away from Kio with a muttered “Thanks”. The blonde moves to ruffle his hair but Ritsuka ducks away, stepping outside to join Yuiko. “I’ll see you later,” he says to the two men still standing in the doorway.
“Well, you’ll be seeing more of Sou-chan than you will of me, I’m sure,” Kio replies with a wink, and Ritsuka gives him another dirty look before smiling softly at Soubi and waving.
“Let’s go,” Ritsuka tells Yuiko, and as soon as Kio shuts the door, he quietly says, “Thanks for not joining in with Kio’s teasing.”
“I-it’s no problem,” Yuiko answers quietly, stumbling over her words as she starts walking, looping her arm through Ritsuka’s so that they can easily keep pace with one another.
Yayoi once told her that several students believed she and Rtisuka were dating. She supposes that walking with Ritsuka like this might help to fuel that particular misconception.
They are together but not together. Close, and yet, worlds apart. Yuiko is Ritsuka’s friend. She is his sister. She is his mother. She is his counselor when he needs her to be. She is nothing more and nothing less. She will never be his lover, and she’s made peace with that, in her own way.
Some days are better and easier than others. This is an old wound, after all. Some days, the scab remains intact, and some days, it is ripped off and she is faced again with that old familiar sting.
As silly as it may seem, she knows that today is going to be one of those days: today is going to be a scab-ripping day.
They walk in relative silence for a few minutes, and then Ritsuka says, “You know, if it hadn’t been for you, I don’t know what would’ve happened with me and Soubi.”
Yuiko tries not to think about what could-have-should-have-would-have been, because thinking along those lines always hurts and always makes her feel selfish.
“You would have told him eventually, without my help,” she replies. “You were already pointed in the right direction. I just gave you a little push.”
“I think,” he begins after another brief silence, “that I take you for granted sometimes.” He sounds so serious, like Yuiko imagines someone without their ears and tail should sound. So grown-up. So unlike her. “I’ve never told you how grateful I am to have you as a friend.”
“Ritsuka-kun,” she begins uncertainly, but she is interrupted by him even before she can get her thoughts in order.
“Let me finish,” he says gently, his arm tightening a little around hers. “I believe that you’re going to make someone extremely happy one day. You know… the person you fall in love with.” He pauses, and then laughs. “Of course, I have to determine whether they’re good enough for you.”
Yuiko knows that his words should make her happy, and in a way, they do. Mostly, they’re just salt in that old, unhealing wound. They burn. They hurt, but she lies for his sake: “I’m happy that you think so highly of me, Ritsuka-kun.” She says ‘I’ and ‘me’ because, in spite of the fact that she hasn’t lost her ears yet, she is certainly no longer a child.
She could tell him the truth. She could tell him that she loves him and that she always has, from the very beginning. She could tell him that it hurts to see him holding hands with Soubi. She could tell him that she wants to be his everything. She could, but she won’t, because she has to protect him, even if that means hurting herself in the process.
He can’t return her feelings, and she knows that. If she were to tell him how much he’s inadvertently hurt her all of these years, it would tear him apart. She knows he loves her, in his own way, and would never even dream of upsetting her.
So she tells him that she’s happy when she isn’t.
Because, no matter how many times he’s unknowingly broken her heart, she knows that she would never be able to forgive herself for knowingly breaking his.
I can imagine Yuiko having thoughts like this. In my opinion, she’s a very brave girl, being willing to sacrifice her happiness for Ritsuka’s.