Disclaimer: I do not own Loveless or any of the thumbnails used those belong to Kouga-san and their respective artists.
A/N: This is the last chapter to this prequel. The name of the continuance to this story is entitled Loveless or Not?
Ever lasting is the pain of it
Loss in many ways
Loss of freedom
Loss of choice
Loss of belonging
Of who you once were . . .
Pain of Loss
How long has it been since I have felt alive, hours, days, months, an eternity? The pain of being alive, of feeling an aching agony in my heart, twisting it mercilessly, was that all being alive ever really meant? Was that what brought about the feeling of existing? Now . . . I feel nothing . . . numbness . . . a black hole of loss . . . an abyss within me that is swallowing up who I once was . . . driving me mad with the lack of being able to feel nothing but loss, grief, devastation, and torturous physical pain that vaguely registers anymore. This . . . unreasonable need to cling to physical pain in order to remind me I am alive leaves me disgusted and disappointed with myself, controlled by the very ones that have driven me to this . . . My state of mind has changed already in such a short amount of time, am I really so weak as to allow such a change?
Ritsuka sat hunched in the chair where he was handcuffed and gagged. The metal of the cuffs around his wrist not really all that painful anymore even as they relentlessly bit into his wrists. The wound from being shot was a distant pain. Upon awaking, he didn't know where he was, how long he had been there, but one thing was for certain, Soubi wasn't there. He couldn't see him, even when a dim light entered the room as one of those that took pleasure in his pain entered the room from a door across from him. The room was a cell, damp, cold, a smell of mold and stench of many that had most likely died in this very room wafting over him, seeping into his skin.
He couldn't smell his own blood, couldn't really tell just where he hurt exactly, it was as though he had a wound beneath his skin, throbbing with the rhythm of his heart, with every breath, as the blood pumped through his veins. He didn't look up when the light came in front of him, refused to look up when a clicking sound was made with the person's tongue. He stubbornly tried to resist the hand gripping his chin and forcing him to look up.
He glared, his violet eyes had been tinged with red since his arrival and still burned rebelliously. He was backhanded, as always when he glared, but the glare remained on his face. Jace, the one standing before him, with the lantern in his hand, raised his hand to strike him again.
But the cold, indifferent voice behind him made him still his hand, "That's enough Jace."
Jace growled but stepped away with a nod and moved to stand off the to side of Ritsuka. The footsteps always echoed in the empty cell, well save the chair bolted to the floor with Ritsuka bound to it. His ankles had been shackled with the iron cuffs on the front legs of the chairs. When he'd first awoken he had fought, kicked, bit, whatever he could do to rebel. He wasn't above violence considering his situation, and the anger he had felt before, the anger that had slowly started to rise in him, was turning him away from his pacifist views every time the anger lingered.
Ritsuka didn't like the change in him, detested what he could do from the anger in him. He couldn't figure out why the anger invoked violent thoughts and actions. It was as though he was watching from the background as he fought, watching from the inside as his outer self did exactly what he never would have imagined himself doing. He would never find out why, not if he didn't live through this.
He couldn't search for Soubi, couldn't find the strength to call out to him, or the want to do so. His mind was jumbled, hazed with the loss of his friends, with what he had been through in little more than a week. Everything was falling apart, had fallen apart, he was Loveless and now he was stuck with the way destiny had played his life out to be. He had fought it, tried to stop it, but his efforts were in vain, everyone had still died in the end.
The reason he had lashed out upon first waking up is because Yuiko had been brought into the cell. He had been forced to watch them beat her, and then Jace had slit her throat, right in front of him. All the emotions and feelings of pain he had felt before had disappeared, leaving only anger, bitterness, an unrelenting desire to retaliate. But with the last few torture sessions he had lost the drive to retaliate. Only his angry glares served as a way to rebel.
He couldn't tell what wounds he had, but he'd been cut up with Jaces' favorite knife, whipped, beaten, and then it had been followed by confusing words and questions. He wondered what they planned to do today.
The man stopped in front of him and knelt down in front of him. Ah, words today, questions or more confusing words.
"Ritsuka-kun, will you concede to do as I ask today?"
Hmm, scratch that, torture today.
"No," came Ritsuka's scratchy, ragged reply.
The man sighed, Ritsuka still didn't know his name so he stuck with man or Ice. His green eyes were as cold as ice, his voice always cold and indifferent and his pressence empty, as though he didn't feel anything at all. There were times when he would smile, but it never meant anything good, times when he smirked meant cruelty, and Ritsuka had found the hollowness of the man catching, a good way to try and block everything out.
"Hm, well that is your choice. But I think I shall go with just talking to you today."
He looked at Jace, "Your pressence isn't required today."
Jace growled and with a bow of his head he left the room. Ritsuka cast his gaze back at what it had been on most of the time, his lap. Ice walked away, somewhere towards the door, but slightly to the left and Ritsuka heard something similar to a fold up chair scratch the floor. Then the footsteps approached him once again and the clang of the chair made his ears ring as it was set in front of him. He heard a shuffling noise as Ice sat down.
"Ritsuka-kun, you can't keep this up forever. You will have to either do as I ask of you, give up on your own pride, or give in to your anger. Your anger and pride will only cause you more pain. If you do as I ask of you then no one else will have to get hurt and things will be much easier on you. If you co-operate with me then I will hand you back to the school, but only if you swear to remain there."
Ritsuka lifted his head a little to look Ice in the eyes, he still felt the uneasiness, the chill, but it hardly effected him while he felt so numb and empty. "How long can you?"
The man chuckled, "Keep this up, well I rather like watching you suffer, it's entertaining for now since you still continue to rebel at times and are stubborn. But when I grow tired of you, then I will just kill you."
"Then just kill me."
"I can't do that yet, and truthfully I want to avoid killing you. I want you to make the choice to do as I say on your own."
Ritsuka scoffed, Like I actually have a choice in the matter. It's do as you wish or die from being tortured to death.
Ice continued, "If you concede to return to the school, the nurse can heal you and you will be handed over to your previous instructor. He may be pleased that you have developed a higher tolerance for pain. He may even go easier on you."
Ritsuka hung his head again with a sigh, "My answer is still no."
"Foolish child, Jace will end up killing you one day. He has less patience than I do and his is already running very thin."
"I don't care."
"As you wish, we shall discuss this another time. I will have water and food brought to you."
Ice stood and leaving the chair where it was left the cell. Ritsuka wasn't aware he had fallen asleep until he was jolted awake when the door opened and footsteps approached him. This time it was a woman, in her early twenties, carrying a tray with soup and water. She set the tray on the chair and knelt down in front of him.
Ritsuka looked up to see the pale woman, her long red hair tied back in a braid, her jade green eyes comforting to see compared to the eyes of Jace or Ice. The only thing Ritsuka knew about her was that she and her fighter, her boyfriend were being held here against their will. She wore a long sleeved, black, V-neck shirt with worn blue jeans and a pair of black boots. She had a scar on her left cheek, diagonally running from under her eye to just under her ear.
"Ritsuka-kun, time to get something in you."
Ritsuka nodded slightly, her voice was comforting, soothing to listen to. He wanted to trust her, to look to her as a friend, but he couldn't risk that happening with what had happened to all those around him, all those he had cared for. She was the only one that showed him any amount of kindness within this prison of a place, always the one to come in with his meals. Though she couldn't tend to his wounds, she was kind enough to feed him, kind enough to talk to him as though he were alive, as though he was more than just a tool or some sort of prized toy to only be used for others benefits. It was comforting in a way, but he did his best to try and block out the warmth her pressence brought to him, because that warmth also brought with it the feelings that threatened to swallow him, to break him, to devastate him. He feared breaking, had come to detest his weakness, his emotions, his lack of power to do anything to stop what had happened to his friends, what could have happened to Soubi, which he still didn't know. He shoved those thoughts away and focused on her, trying desperately to avoid his pessimistic and depressing line of thought that had become influenced from his time held as a prisoner.
She picked up the bowl of soup and the spoon and held it in front of him, dipping the spoon into the bowl and holding it up to him. He took a moment before he allowed her to feed it to him. Once he finished the soup she gave him the water to drink, making sure he drank all of it. She then set the tray on the ground and sat in the chair.
"Do you have any idea how long you have been here Ritsuka-kun?"
He shook his head as much as he was able and she nodded, "Most don't. It isn't until they finally get out of here that they notice, I mean out of the cells."
"Where," Ritsuka cleared his throat, grateful the water had soothed the scratchiness to it and the water had soothed the dryness to his throat and mouth. "Where exactly is this place, what really?"
She smiled gently, though the smile wasn't fond, more as if she was happy he was speaking to her. "This place is underground, beneath Tokyo. I couldn't tell you where exactly. But what, well this place is a school or sorts, like the Seven Moons, only it has this basement here, where you are."
"Why are you down here?"
"Hmm, well my fighter is within one of the cells, a punishment for fighting one of the teachers. This is where the truly demented teachers are located. Seven Moons is much more . . . leniant I guess than this place. We, my fighter and I, have been here for well over six years now. We were brought here when we were fifteen. My fighter, he is a lot like you, refusing to meet their demands, refusing to give in to their torture. He rebels against everything any chance he gets. He's strong, as are you, but I don't want to see you suffer like he did."
The sincerity in her voice almost made warmth rise up in him, but the pain of losing his friends and everyone he held dear threatened to follow it so he shoved it back down. "So I should just give in, do as they wish and stop rebelling."
"It would save you a lot of suffering."
"When everything is lost to you, the only suffering left is to die and that would be a blessing."
"How do you know everything is lost to you?"
"Can you prove to me otherwise?"
"I can say that you are the first sacrifice to be brought here without their fighter."
"Who said I was a sacrifice?"
"As though Loveless isn't known even here. I know why they have an interest in you. In the time you have been here, they have already begun to change who I heard you to be. You have a cold look in your eyes, and an angry one, one that promising violence. That is not who you are."
"How would you know, you know nothing more than my name."
"I know more than you think I do. I'm not condemned to this hell for no reason."
Unless you can read my mind, I highly doubt you know anything about me.
"I can read your mind, so I do know a few things about you. Even if you don't acknowledge me as a friend, I acknowledge you as such. I don't blame you for being so guarded. Losing your parents, betrayed by your brother, losing your friends, even the adults you knew and considered friends, not knowing if your fighter, your lover, is still alive. That is a very just reason to not trust anyone, to not want to get close. And that your main thought and concern is what may befall those who get close to you only proves your selflessness. Instead of thinking of your own suffering you think of the suffering those around you indured and guard yourself against getting close to anyone in hopes you can save anyone else from the same fate."
"However, it is not your fault that those around you died, that blame is cast to those who killed them, not you. Even if the power to save someone's life is within our abilities, the power to know of all the possibilities leading to their death is not. We cannot save everyone, we can't predict what will happen, or how twisted and vile the person seeking to take anothers life is, regardless of their reason. We're human, that is something that we all have to understand, no one is indestructible, no one is immortal."
"They would still be alive if they had never met me."
"They would have missed out on the pleasure of knowing someone like you. Plus, even if they are gone now, I'm sure that they did not blame you for their deaths."
"That, I highly doubt, they were aware of the danger of knowing me towards the end . . . "
"And they still resigned to remain your friend, they truly valued your friendship. So in turn, you should value the time you did have with them. Don't beat yourself up over losing them but cherish the time you had with them. Cherish the good memories you shared with them."
Ritsuka remained silent for a while and he looked to the young woman when she moved to kneel before him. She didn't touch him, but her hands rested on her lap and and she met his eyes, "Ritsuka-kun, don't give up. Don't let them destroy you or who you are."
"It's getting too late for that . . . " he said with a weak voice. She frowned and sighed, "Then agree to go to the school so you can keep what's left of who you are."
"Who I once was is already dead."
She closed her eyes and got to her feet, "I'm sorry to hear that."
She grabbed the tray and dishes and stood with her back facing him. "You've been here for more than just a few days or weeks you know. I've been here for years, they've been trying to break you for just short of a year now. Take their offer to go to the academy, it's ten times better there than it will ever be here, especially if you stay here."
Ritsuka looked up at her, "What's your name?"
She looked over her shoulder at him, her smile once again threatening to force emotions to rise up in him, feeling him with a vaguely noticed warmth. "My friends call me Angel."
Ritsuka almost felt a smile curl his lips, but he gave a curt nod, "It's suiting."
"Thank you Ritsuka-kun."
Ritsuka lowered his head and she walked back over to him, this time lightly touching his chin. He lifted his head up and blinked when she kissed his forehead. She pulled back with that heart warming, gentle smile on her face, "You're sweet Ritsuka-kun."
"Could you give me a name, one that wasn't addressed to who I once was?"
She caressed his cheek making him notice the dried blood from a cut on his cheek at the same time. She pulled her hand away, "Ritsuka."
He glared and she laughed, this time the warmth stayed in his heart, "You don't need a different name to change who you are if that's what you wish to do. You just have to do so. But if I may, who do you wish to become?"
Ritsuka looked past her, his gaze fixed on the door as he said with a conviction in his tone, "I want to become someone that doesn't have to depend on others. I don't want others to die or sacrifice, or go through pain for me."
She nodded, "That can be a good thing, but try to remember to allow others to help you and don't lose yourself entirely."
When she walked out of the room Ritsuka stared at the door for a long time thinking on what she'd said. He resigned that he would go back to the school, he couldn't sense Soubi here and he refused to believe him dead without solid proof. He was going to go to the school, and this time he was going to finish this Fighter training and he would never again be a helpless victim to their games.
He was never going to let them take the lives of his friends, his family, just to get to him, just because it would hurt him. He knew it was his fault, that if had given in to their demands sooner that everyone would be alive. Even if he'd resigned to never let himself be controlled and a victim again, he was aware of what their ideal of strength would cost them, and he would pay it, no matter what. In the end, he wasn't going to be the one standing in the background unable to do anything or save anyone.
Yuiko, he had to watch them kill her, watch them kill her right in front of him. They'd beaten her and in the end slit her throat. Yaiyo, he'd been too late to save Yaiyo. He and Soubi had been too late to save Kio, Natsuo, and Youji, they hadn't even been able to say goodbye to them, to see them that one more time that would prove to them they were really dead, that they'd truly failed in saving them. They had to accept it in their own minds, and Ritsuka found that was harder than anything. He hadn't been able to say proper farewells, attend funerals, anything, he could only honor his lost loved ones within his own mind and heart.
He would never forget them, no matter what, he refused to forget them. He wouldn't forget all the good times he had been lucky enough to share with them. But he couldn't forget how they had died, why they had died. He hung his head, his eyes were already closed. Angel, her name was fitting for her, but it was ironic really. She'd stirred the emotions within him he'd fought to keep down, he had tried to keep the pain that twisted inside of him from rising up in his throat and breaking his heart.
For the first time since he'd been there he felt the burning in his eyes, the tears moving swiftly down his cheeks and a painful sounding sob, even to himself left his throat. The dam broke, the tears falling from his eyes with each sob, and he shook with the effort of his crying, trying and failing to reign it all back in.
Angel stood with her hands folded behind her back leaned against the door. She would stand guard to his door for as long as he needed. She smiled sadly, It's good that he's crying, he needs to release all that pent up loss. Trying to hold in the pain of losing everything, everyone is never something anyone should keep locked up inside them. Even as it breaks my heart to hear his sobs and know he is hurting and crying, it's the only way for him to begin to move on.
She stood there for the better part of four hours and when she could no longer hear his crying she opened the door to see him slumped in the chair asleep, exhausted from crying. She quietly walked back into the cell and knelt before him, her hand on his knee jolting him awake.
She smiled sadly at him and then she embraced him the best that she could, being mindful of his injuries. She held him for a few moments and when she pulled back she held her hands on his shoulders, "Ritsuka, pull yourself together and please go to the academy."
He nodded and sniffed, she moved her hands to wipe away the tears that left streaks down his face and smiled, "Good. Don't ever let yourself lose the ability to feel, even if it hurts. That, is something you can never let them take from you."
He nodded and said softly, his voice raspier than before, "Arigato Angel."
"You're welcome, Ritsuka-kun."
She stood up and turned to leave, as she closed the cell door behind her she knew in her heart that she would never see him again. That was something bittersweet to her, bitter because she had grown to care for him and sweet because she was happy that he would be getting out of the hell he was in while he was here. She tensed and gather the tray and dishes when Jace and his master of sorts came walking down the hallway.
Jace sneered at her and Angel bowed her head and headed towards the kitchen having to walk past them to do so. Jace's master nodded to her, "Good work Angel."
She closed her eyes and bowed her head sadly, "Arigato," she whispered with twisting guilt in her gut then continued on her way.