First Alichino fic! There really should be more fics in this fandom. Just a small, semi-cute ramble inspired by the bonus manga at the end of volume two.

Sort-of Family

He never liked being alone. Even when he pushed those closest to him aside, even when he sought solitude, he never really, truly enjoyed his seclusion. It was a shell that kept him from the rest of the world. If he was not close to anyone he would never hurt anyone and neither would he be hurt by anyone. His shell kept him safe, and at the same time it suffocated him.

Even if I tried to live by myself, if someone cares about me, then I can't help but hold that person dear too.

It had happened again. Somehow, he was sitting in a room, in a house, with people. And this was normal.

These people were not family, he had no relatives remaining, they were no anear-enough family or a rag-tag family or even a dysfunctional, wanna-be family. They were…people. They were separate living beings that, tossed by the tides of Fate, had somehow come into each other's lives. Sometimes he questioned just what they were. Friends? Comrades? Nothing ever seemed appropriate, there was no category in which their unique relationship could be sorted.

Currently, the grandfather clock was ticking the seconds by. Outside the large windows the sun was dipping into the horizon and dim golden light flooded the room.

"Myobi, I wish you wouldn't bait him so," Enju spoke calmly between sips of steaming tea. The man had an aurora calm around him that shimmered like a silken veil. It was Enju whose capable hands he had left Tsugiri in and perhaps those two were the only ones who could pass as family, though not in appearance but in the way they acted around each other.

"I bait him," Myobi admitted, stretching her limbs in her human form, "but it's his fault for taking it and besides," she smiled slyly, "it wouldn't be half as much fun if he didn't."

Of course, the person that they were all referring to was the kusabi, Tsugiri the young boy that he and Myobi had saved from the brink of death. It had been a lifetime ago and yet it seemed so very recent.The boy had survived andgrown into something as beautiful as an alichino but with a purer soul than the creatures that preyed on humans. Unfortunately, the kind soul he knew was hidden somewhere within Tsugiri seldom showed itself in Myobi's presence. The two just did not seem to get along and this was just another of their old arguments.

"You're as twisted as your fashion-sense," Tsugiri muttered. He always began with an insult to her clothes or her personality.

"What did you say? I could say the same thing about your clothes too!" the alichino retorted. She was unusually mindful about her appearance.

"That body is really unsuitable too," Tsugiri continued. "Or do you like the attention of paedophiles"

Myobi smiled. "You know Ryoko is the only one for me," she said and before he could move he felt her arms snake down his chest as if to prove her words were true. "Though I can't say the same for you Tsugiri, that gorgeous face of yours is attracting quite a bit of male attention, isn't it? You should be careful at night, believe me, some men are very perverse," she chuckled, sliding her arms further down.

Sometimes, he did not know whether he hated Myobi or loved her to death. He supposed the outcome would be the same no matter his feelings. Her hands were certainly warm when they massaged his chest and there were times when he wanted to loose himself to reason and just gave in to her wiles. She was an alichino though, and he would never forget that, nor would he forget what she had done in the past.

The two continued to argue, biting at each other with cold, curt words, absorbed in nothing else but to bait the other and taunt their opponent into submission.

"There's much more Tsugiri has to look out for than perverted men," he muttered, more to himself than to anyone else

"Oh, but I would never let him out at night by himself," Enju smiled and offered him a cup. He had been so absorbed in the alichino and kusabi's argument that he had almost forgotten the presence of the calmest one among them.

"From the way you talk, sometimes it seems like you still think that he's a child."

"He is still very young."

He laughed. No matter what anyone else said, Enju's concern for Tsugiri was endearing and Tsugiri's fondness of Enju was charming to the point of being cute. "Did anyone ever tell you that you act just like a mother hen sometimes?" he asked. His tea smelt like rosemary.

"If that's true, then you're the laid-back uncle that always acts aloof but ends up spoiling the child," Enju countered with a gentle smile.

At that, he almost choked on the piping hot tea. Did he really come across that way? Perhaps he was getting soft. He had never wanted people to get too close to him, not when they always ended up dying on him in the end, rather like Tsugiri.

"As for Myobi," Enju continued, "sometimes I'm uncertain as to whether she's the teasing big sister or an impudent little one."

"She's more like a crazy aunt to me," he murmured but his words fell too softly to be heard.

They were still at it. He made a mental note to time the next argument Tsugiri and Myobi had. Perhaps they could start a league table. Watching them, he did feel a little like that aloof old uncle Enju had described him as and he was not sure if that should worry him or not.

He had neverwanted people to get too close to him but it was impossible not to be with people and to care for them too. Give up, he told himself, stop trying to hide in your shell. Let life win.

Even though he was not quite sure what they were, he did not think that living the way that they were was all that bad either. After all, at times like this they almost a sort-of family.