- - - -

Ayame never liked to be woken early in the mornings, and he especially disliked waking up on the morning of the first frost of fall. So when the phone rang at 5 am, he heavily considered not moving from his comforter and Mine-chan at all. As it was, he stared into the long strands of his silver hair that mingled against her chestnut ringlets, and a surge of emotion was stirring in his heart. He reached out his arms to hold their hair together, to be as close to her as he could ever hope to be. Ayame found it soothing, and pointedly ignored the ringing phone.

The answering machine picked up, and, for some mysterious reason, the person on the other line did not wait for the beep but had, apparently, been ranting before even calling Ayame. But when the snake heard Shigure's voice, he, of course, absolutely had to answer it because there was urgent Mabudachi trio business that needed to be discussed. And Mine's hair would always be beautiful next to his.

The snake flounced at the phone, his long sleeves covering the ear-piece as he held it to his ear.

"Ohayo, 'Gure-chan, is this morning treating you fairly!" he boomed, and dramatically swept his silver hair over his left shoulder. He wondered if there was a way he could license a 'hair-flick powder' that would actually make hair sparkle when desired. It would be just the thing for many men's dreams.

Shigure sulked from the other line. "This morning is typical and dreary. But it is as well as a morning can be without you, my dearest Aya," Shigure sulked from the other line. "Indeed, in your absence, a pivotal event has unfolded..."

"Does it have to do with my dearest brother, Yuki?"

Shigure laughed falsely, and suddenly, the snake's eyebrows shot up. "Is it about the thing, 'gure? Is it about the the thing? You gave it to Yuki, didn't you?"

He was not alone in A couple of feet away, Mine popped awake at the mention of the thing. "Did Yuki use the thing, Aya? Tell me, tell me! I wanna know!"

"Hahaha, my dearest Mine, Shigure has not yet said a word."

The snake cradled the phone in his hands. "It made Yuki look magnificent, did it not? I bet Kyon-Kyon didn't know what to do about fighting Yuki in that fantastic costume! It was perfectly designed to transform him into a desireable, young, German fruehler girl! With a beautiful petticoat-"

"- In deep greens, like those herbs he plants -"

"-And these fantastic stockings, they're rather beyond words-"

"- A schoolgirl! In apropriately matching cream," Mine agreed.

The two laughed in triumphance, until a couple of minutes had passed and Shigure cut in with a false cough. "Ahh, Ayaa," he said, gently as he could, "About 'the thing'... Yuki didn't want anything to do with it, I'm afraid..."

Ayame paused, waiting for Shigure to recant himself. When Shigure said nothing else, Ayame brought his free hand to his forehead and began to tremble with horror. "This is terrible news, 'Gure-san..." He moved the phone slightly away from his shoulder.

"Mine, Yuki trashed my affections like a pair of shoes - again!"

The brunnette wiped a tear from her, currently, un-lensed eye. "That's awful, Aya. The thing would've looked so beautiful... And we'd worked so hard on it together!"

"I will have to commit sepuku," decided Ayame, now clutching his heart, "To try and right the unrightable wrongs to Yuki-chan..."

"Wait! Wait, my love!" cried out Shigure, crackling from the other line. "Yuki was indeed head-over-heels in thanks to your incredible designing prowess! He wanted nothing to do with it himself, you see, so he found another to assist him in wearing it..."

Mine-chan, now donning glasses, had sidled up behind Ayame and leaned towards him, perilously perching her head onto his shoulder.

"...And actually," continued the writer, fondly, "It is beyond words. You will simply have to see it yourself," exclaimed Shigure, and Ayame couldn't help but imitate him by bringing two fingers to rest on the ridge of his nose. "He made a lovely image with his lover..."

"What's Shigure talking about?" Mine murmured.

Ayame turned to Mine, literally glowing with pride. "The first morning of prenuptial bliss, Mine! Little Yuki has gotten laid! I MUST GO AND CONGRATULATE HIM IMMEDIATELY! SWAP STORIES OF CONQUEST!"

"Now, now, Aya. Your brother might not appreciate being woken at this time in the morning. Judging from the noises I kept hearing, it was a long night for them," Shigure paused, his mood suddenly taking a 360, "And it was a very, very long and lonely night for me..."

"Don'tworryShigure,I'llvisityousoon. But really, Yuki used the thing, didn't he!" Ayame shouted, and took a brief pause to laugh insanely with his hands (and the phone) on his hips. Mine cocked her head and watched with sparkling eyes. At last, Aya recovered and turned back to the phone with a more serious tone. "Tell me, 'Gure. It went well, did it not?"

"Oh, yes, Aya. I think it went very well. It reminds me of our first time to sleep over," Shigure audibly winked over the phone, "And I believe that the two lovebirds are curled up together on the floor, even now."

"My, my, didn't make it to bed, did we!" Aya paused to yell after Mine, who had by this point, begun cooking breakfast in disregard of the early hour. "My little brother is taking after me very well, Mine! He didn't even get to the bed for his first time! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

"Well done, Aya!" she laughed, and waved an spatula with pastry batter high up in the air.

Ayame talked for a bit longer before hanging up the phone, and sank onto his futon. Mine walked in a moment later with two cups of Aya's special green tea. She sat down next to him, put down the o-cha, and automatically pulled his head into her lap.

"Oh, Mine," he said to her, a soft smile breaking across his face. "It took them a while, but they've been nurturing this for years. I'm so... relieved that my little brother finally found his happiness. Even if it is with Kyou... Even if it has very little to do with me."

"Don't say that, Ayame. You helped plant the seeds," she replied, cradling his head, "And the thing brought them to each other after all."

Ayame closed his eyes, and sighed regretabbly. "The cat lover wore it."

"Oh," Mine blanched, "I didn't exactly think of him as that... type."

"He's not," said Aya blandly, opening his eyes and wrinkling them at the edges, "He would be far nicer in leather or chains. Oh yes, I can see it. Perfect! I think that Yuki will find men's romance is most unescapable."

Mine shook her head with tinkling bell laughter, turning her fingers through his hair.

Together, in the twilight prior to sunrise and the darkness that overwhelmed their days, Mine and Ayame sat in contentment. And together they drank to a new morning.

Fin Plants.

But if you want more, who am I to stop you?

Check out the Sequel, "ACHE". Completed 10/26/06.