Soubi regretted turning Ritsuka.
He truly did. It caused the boy so much pain, especially during the first few days when Soubi could do nothing for Ritsuka's hunger. It had to be done, though, for Ritsuka had been dying and had begged Soubi- outright begged him- to change him. And so Soubi had, as Ritsuka would have died in his arms at the hospital if he hadn't. That didn't mean he didn't regret it. If there had been something else Soubi could've done, he would've done it, but there had been no other choice, no other way, besides changing Ritsuka.
Soubi could smell Ritsuka as soon as he walked inside the Victorian-style house that was used just for this purpose. He had a short talk with Kio, one that merely consisted of Soubi telling him of the current situation with Ritsuka's parents and Kio updating him on Ritsuka's status, which seemed to get worse and worse with each day that passed when Soubi didn't come. Unfortunately, he had other things to do and couldn't be with his Sacrifice and mate every day. It would be different after everything got sorted out, though.
Soubi then headed down the stairs, to the deep underground room where Ritsuka had to stay for the first few months. He carefully unlocked the door, thinking about how horrible it must be for Ritsuka. The child was the one who had insisted on being locked in, out of the fear that he would attack someone if the hunger got to be too much. Ritsuka's scent was much stronger here. Soubi didn't even need a light to find his way down the stairs and tight corridors. He was sure that Ritsuka could smell him by then, too.
Soubi pushed open the door, standing in the doorway to take in the scene before him. The room Soubi had set up for Ritsuka was a mess. Books were strewn across the room's floor, torn up with pages and bindings ripped out. Black soft feathers were all over, too, as if a young bird had exploded and the feathers all fell in different places around the room. Ritsuka was sitting against the back wall, his knees drawn to his chest and his arms and cat tail wrapped tightly around his legs. He was hiding his face in his arms and he was shaking slightly, something that alerted Soubi that he shouldn't have waited this long to come.
Ritsuka could only survive five days without being fed, and by the third day he would start to lose his sanity little by little. If Soubi had waited until four days, Ritsuka would've attacked him as soon as he walked into the room. Soubi, on the other hand, could go nearly a month without starting to feel that gnawing hunger that couldn't be soothed by human food. He had forgotten what it was like to be younger.
Soubi stepped inside, shutting the door quietly behind him. The room was dark, only lit by a candle on the dresser. Soubi frowned, hoping that Ritsuka hadn't been playing with fire. Young ones who were left alone by their mate or unable to get to a feeding source, usually had the overwhelming urge to hurt themselves, but not other people. Soubi would have to check Ritsuka for burn marks as well as scratches and cuts.
"Soubi…It…it hurts…" Ritsuka's voice was muffled and very quiet and weak. It almost didn't sound like Ritsuka. Another pang of regret hit Soubi, but he knew that this was the way it had to be, and it would've been done, one way or another. Ritsuka peaked up, and Soubi saw that his eyes were blood red, a definite sign of the hunger and pain that Ritsuka was in. "Please, Soubi…"
Soubi took his coat off, discarding it on the floor before sitting on the bed that was pushed up against the south wall and the east wall, near the door. "Come here, Ritsuka," He instructed, gently pulling the bandages off of his neck. He opened his arms to the young child, speaking again in a quiet, soothing tone. "It's okay, Ritsuka. Come here."
Shaking, Ritsuka went over to Soubi, the only sound in the room being his little footfalls. He paused before doing anything, though hunger obviously got the best of him and he climbed into Soubi's lap, straddling him. Soubi closed his eyes, feeling little Ritsuka's hot breath on the side of his neck, away from the Beloved scar, before the child licked his skin. This was something that Soubi had learned that Ritsuka liked to do- warn Soubi before he began.
Ritsuka's fangs were small and just-developing, though they still startled Soubi as they pierced his skin. It hurt like a needle prick, sharp and only for a second. A warm feeling started as Ritsuka's teeth quickly slid into place, creating a slightly pleasurable sensation for Soubi. Ritsuka made a whimpering sound, and Soubi felt him beginning to feed, calming the hunger that was so painful and impossible to ignore.
"I'm starting to sort things out with your parents," Soubi told Ritsuka, his hands on the young one's back. He knew that Ritsuka liked for him to talk while he fed off of his blood, and it was the least Soubi could do to comply, since it was his fault that Ritsuka was like this in the first place. "I have another Fighter working the case. He went to school with me. Seven Voices. We're fighting for your parents for custody. Your mother seems like she's finally lost it. She had a breakdown in the courtroom today."
Soubi moved his hands up and down Ritsuka's bony spine, rubbing his back in slow, gentle circles. Ritsuka's feeding didn't hurt him at all. In fact, it made a warm, tingling feeling, something that was meant to be enjoyable. If Ritsuka went too fast, though, it would put Soubi in a lot of pain. Ritsuka was careful of this, and Soubi was grateful that he was nothing like his brother.
'Vampires' were what regular people called them, as well as words like 'the undead' or something alluding to them being dead. They weren't dead. Soubi, Ritsuka, Seimei, and any other Infected had a heartbeat as proof that they were alive. It was also a myth about the Infected being afraid of garlic and the light, as well as them losing control whenever they were around blood. The latter would only happen if an Infected was in dire need of blood, which was a state that was rare and not exactly dangerous to humans. Another myth was that a 'vampire' bite would kill any human. It could hurt, but only if the Infected fed too quickly. After the Infected was done, human would simply have a bite mark, almost like a hickey. It wouldn't get infected and the human wouldn't turn into an Infected.
The terms Infected and Fighter or Sacrifice were nearly synonymous. A person had to be either a Fighter or a Sacrifice to even have the possibility of being turned into an Infected, though not all Fighters and Sacrifices were Infected. Soubi had known this from a very young age, as he had been born into a family of both Fighters and Infected that was nearly purebred. Before all of them had been killed/died, Soubi's entire family was purebred on his mother's side, with the exception of his father. His mother had been a Fighter and an Infected, but she had chosen a normal person as her mate/husband. This was rejected in Soubi's family, so his mother had gotten disowned and her family and they refused to even talk to her. Soubi did have a couple relatives (his mother's mother and his mother's sister) but that was all who was left. Soubi hated both of them, anyways, and they hated him.
"Are you angry at me?" Soubi asked quietly. Ritsuka shook his head gently, gradually going slower and slower, as Soubi could feel from the amount of blood flowing from him. He regretted this. He really, really did…
Ritsuka was dying, Soubi realized as he looked at the multiple machines his little Sacrifice was hooked up to. Soubi himself had multiple injuries, but he was able to care for most of them. Ritsuka, on the other hand, had been hurt both on the inside and out. Spells had been shouted, quick and powerful, and Soubi had been able to do nothing to stop them, for it was Seimei and his new Fighter, Nisei, who they had been fighting.
Ritsuka had refused to go with Seimei and Seimei had taken it the wrong way, thinking that meant Ritsuka didn't love him. He had ordered Nisei, told him to hurt Ritsuka lethally, to make him want to die. Soubi didn't really know what good that did, but he supposed Seimei had finally lost his sanity.
Soubi had been able to do nothing but watch as Ritsuka got hit with spell after spell, all damaging his insides as well as his outsides. Seimei had taunted Soubi during it, telling him to do something, yet knowing just as well as Soubi did that he could do nothing. It had broken Soubi's heart and he had tried to do something, but no spell that he said had any affect. He had attempted to fight back, but it hadn't worked. Ritsuka passed out after a long time, but Nisei still hadn't stopped. He had begun to direct some spells at Soubi, too, as well as Ritsuka. Finally, a spell of Soubi's finally got through, one that made them disappear and go back to where they came from.
Now, a week later, Ritsuka was still in the hospital. Soubi hadn't left his bedside the entire time. Ritsuka's condition wasn't getting better. In fact, it was just getting worse. Almost all of Ritsuka's internal organs were failing and he was having bad heart and lung problems, too. Soubi stayed in the hospital with him, refusing to leave.
Soubi stood from the couch where he had been napping and crossed the room to Ritsuka's bed, staring down at the beautiful boy. The entire reason that he had gotten hurt was because he had wanted to stay with Soubi, not to go with Seimei. Through all of the spells, Ritsuka had never budged from his position, even though Seimei had asked him with every spell Nisei shouted out. It had been the first time Soubi or Ritsuka had seen Seimei since the incident at Seven Voices, which had happened nearly a year ago.
"Ritsuka," Soubi touched Ritsuka's hand, his mind thinking of dark thoughts. Three days previous, Soubi had cut his left wrist, not out of depression, but with the knowledge that an Infected's blood had healing powers, especially if it was from someone who had been an Infected since birth. Ritsuka had seemingly gotten better after he lapped up Soubi's blood, but the next day his vitals fell dramatically again. As the days went by and Ritsuka's condition worsened, Soubi was forced to face the fact that he only had one choice left.
"Soubi," Ritsuka had finished and had pulled his teeth out of Soubi's neck, leaving two small puncture wounds that were bleeding lightly. His eyes had turned to a color between red, the color of an Infected's hunger, and violet, Ritsuka's normal eye color. This hue was a sort of magenta, or a pinkish color. "I missed you."
Ritsuka was Soubi's mate. Infecteds often had mates, whether they were another Infected, a human, or a human turned Infected. Soubi's mate, Ritsuka, was a human turned Infected. Mates established a blood bond where the Infected's primary feeding source was its mate. Even if the other was a human, they had to have drunken their mate's blood at least once. Mates could recognize each other's scent even when they were a ways away. Younger mates, such as Ritsuka, tended to only feed off of their mate's blood, not another human's or another Infected's. The bond between mates was psychological, too. Seimei had fed off of Soubi's blood, and occasionally vice versa, but they hadn't been mates. A pair had to love each other enough and both had to consent.
"I'm sorry, Ritsuka," Soubi was apologizing for more than just leaving him for three days. He was sorry about turning Ritsuka, too, even though it had instantly cured his health problems caused by the spells. "Kio told me that he offered his blood to you. Why didn't you take it?"
"He didn't smell as good as you," Ritsuka answered, putting his head on Soubi's chest and breathing hard. "I like the way you smell. Don't leave again…"
Once the psychological and blood bond was established, it was hard and nearly impossible for an infected and the mate of the Infected to live without one another. It wasn't just because of the need for an Infected to feed off of the other's blood. Even if they had a mate, they could still get blood from somewhere else, so that wasn't a problem. Living without their soul mate, once they found them, was mentally and emotionally hard. A young Infected would have the hardest time with it, as they would seek comfort as well as a food source from their mates. Soubi understood that Ritsuka wouldn't be able to sort out his feelings well without having Soubi with him, which was why Soubi was worried about the common problem of Ritsuka, a young Infected, hurting himself.
"I have to finish things with your parents," Soubi ran a hand through Ritsuka's hair, slightly surprised when he found a small black downy feather in it, one that was the same as the feathers spread out on the floor.
When Infecteds got older, they learned to control their hunger and fit in with normal people. They were still human, but being a Fighter or a Sacrifice created a strange defect in the DNA code. This was what gave Fighters and Sacrifices power and the abilities they had. Unfortunately, this also gave a toxic venom, one that had absolutely no effect on those without the defect ('normal' people). When a Fighter or a Sacrifice was injected with this venom, though, it caused a tolerance and need for blood, as well as extremely heightened sense of hearing and smell (sadly, not sight, which could be useful for a nearly-legally-blind Soubi). Adult Infected could go nearly a month without feeling the slightest pangs of hunger for blood, and, by then, they had usually secured a single, willing feeding source.
Blood wasn't a substitute for regular human food, either. This venom, once it was injected, created a separate hunger. The venom did other things, too, such as the blood red eyes when Infecteds got hungry and the need for young ones to hurt themselves when they were without their mate or away from a food source, and, of course, they all grew fangs. Infecteds tended to be exceptionally beautiful, though that wasn't always the case. Sometimes, it gave powers, but not always. Ritsuka seemed to be the type of Infected with powers.
Once someone was Infected, just like being a Fighter or a Sacrifice, it was hereditary. The more people in a family lineage that were Infected (or Fighters/Sacrifices) the more chance a person had to become one. In Soubi's family, nearly everyone had been a Fighter and an Infected, so it was almost a given that Soubi would be born an Infected. Someone way down the lineage in the Aoyagi family must have been an Infected, as Seimei was born one and Ritsuka was not. The gene that was passed down for Infected was neither recessive nor dominant, but it was chosen based on how strong it was and it was also sometimes randomly chosen.
"I know," Ritsuka whimpered again. Soubi hugged him tightly, unsure of what else to do when Ritsuka sounded like he was going to cry.
"When the summer's over," Soubi tried to steady his voice so that he could properly comfort his little, young mate. "You'll probably be able to return to school. You'll be going into high school, won't you? There's a big one not too far from here. I could walk you there."
"What if I attack someone? What about the sun and garlic? What if someone starts bleeding in class?" Ritsuka had obviously heard the myths tossed around as well as the new lies created by all the Vampire hype recently.
Despite the regret he was feeling, Soubi laughed. He had explained how being an Infected would heal Ritsuka and how it would prolong his life significantly and also how he would physically mature a lot slower, though he would still age. Ritsuka was the one who had jumped in when Soubi had mentioned mates. It was then that he admitted that he loved Soubi and never wanted to be apart from him, which was why he had refused to go with Seimei. Soubi loved Ritsuka more than life itself, so the psychological bond had been formed. Ritsuka had asked Soubi if they could be mates and Soubi was all-too-happy to agree.
"You won't attack someone," Soubi told Ritsuka, nuzzling his kitten ears. They had stayed, probably because Soubi had wished them too, even though they had had sex. Ritsuka could make them disappear when he wanted to, though, which was a power of his. "The only time you would ever attack someone is if you lost your sanity to hunger, which you won't ever have to worry about."
"Because I have you," Ritsuka said quietly, his head still on Soubi's chest. His hands clenched and unclenched Soubi's shirt, kneading it like one of the kittens Soubi often picked up off of the street.
"Right," Soubi went on. "And we aren't afraid of garlic. Garlic only clouds the scent glands, so it's harder to smell things. We don't die by sunlight, either. Our skin is only a little more sensitive than a normal person's. You'll just have to wear sunscreen when it's sunny."
"What if someone bleeds in class?" Ritsuka asked again.
"You'll smell it, but nothing will happen unless you're hungry."
That seemed to satisfy Ritsuka's curiosity and worry. He looked up at Soubi, and Soubi could see what his problem was. He was still feeling that horrible hunger that took over the senses and caused so much pain. His eyes were still magenta and Soubi could smell the heavy scent of hunger on him.
"Soubi, I'm still—"
"I know," Soubi interrupted him. "It's okay. Go ahead." He pushed his long hair back so that the spot Ritsuka had bit before was uncovered.
Ritsuka was sitting up on him again, his legs wrapped around Soubi's waist and his teeth sinking into the same spot as before. Soubi hissed with the initial slight pain that he never got used to, but then sighed at the warm feeling that started immediately afterwards. Ritsuka always made it feel good, something that Soubi hadn't thought possible when Seimei would roughly bite him and fed fast, which caused pain to course through Soubi's entire body. Ritsuka was always so gentle and slow.
"Ah, Ritsuka," Soubi groaned, unable to help himself. Ritsuka's soft kitten ears twitched in acknowledgement and he scooted forward a little so that they were pressed chest to chest. It wasn't unusual for Soubi to start to feel a little aroused. When mates were together and fed off of each other, arousal was a common thing. It was worse for the young ones, especially ones that were just going through puberty, like Ritsuka. The onset of puberty was a lot worse and the chemical reactions that happened for regular people happened a lot quicker and were more severe. Ritsuka would have no control over his arousal when he was with Soubi, his mate.
Soubi was more than happy to take care of it, so it really didn't matter. He would spend the night with his Sacrifice and then leave again. He would hopefully be able to come back later that day, but Soubi couldn't promise that. Things happened, things that prevented Soubi from seeing Ritsuka.
Ritsuka's teeth left Soubi's skin and he licked up the blood flowing from the two small puncture wounds. He looked up at Soubi and pressed against his chest, his violet eyes meeting Soubi's.
"Soubi, please…" Ritsuka begged softly. Soubi could tell from what he felt pushing against him that Ritsuka wasn't begging for his blood this time.