Summary: When Rei gets sick, Kai's left playing nursemaid, but do either of them really mind?

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Rei sat there for a long time after that, trying desperately to understand exactly what had just happened. He and Kai had nearly kissed, that much he'd gathered, and Kai had left and hadn't come back all night. But what had physically happened wasn't the problem; it was the emotions that came with it. His he could understand; he was upset, annoyed and bitterly disappointed, but Kai's… those he couldn't fathom. Was the other boy angry with him for trying to get that close? Or was he just scared of showing his real feelings? God, he didn't know. The two of them had been getting closer; he'd thought that over and over again, and he'd thought that Kai had noticed it too; he'd certainly been a lot friendlier these past few days. But he'd gone and blown it, unfortunately not literally. What the hell was wrong with him, trying something like that while on the phone? Especially to Mariah; if anyone was likely to ruin a moment, she was definitely in his top 3. Along with Tyson and his grandpa. Their simple presence could be enough to kill the mood.

Still, after hours and hours of thinking, Rei could only come to one conclusion. He needed to talk to Kai. The idea was laughable; nothing was more likely to make Kai distant than the implication that he had emotions, but it couldn't be avoided. Rei needed to know how he felt, otherwise he'd wonder for the rest of his life. And then, on his deathbed, Kai would tell him he'd always loved him. That's what would happen… or something along those lines. Something painfully ironic. Of course, since he was going to talk to Kai he was going to find out that the older boy had just mistaken him for a girl or something. That was the way life worked, Rei had realised recently. It kicks you in the balls and laughs.

This whole situation was making him horribly negative. It wasn't good for him, this whole issue of unrequited love. Although maybe it wasn't unrequited. And there he went again, wondering. He had to know! Had to find out.

Kai was something of a psychopath though… sometimes Rei wondered just what it was that he liked about the other boy. He was attractive, sure, but that was hardly a basis for a relationship. He wasn't particularly friendly, considerate, compassionate. Although he had shown that he could be. Maybe that was it; his potential. Rei saw him as he could be, and the romantic fantasy of being able to convert him was difficult to resist. To be the only one who could get through to him, to feel needed by someone who shunned everyone else. To feel needed. Really needed. Not like Mariah thought she needed him; needed him to be her strong hunter-gatherer in a horrifically traditional relationship. Needed him to be there, to provide emotional support, to listen and care, or to withdraw tactfully, considering that this was Kai he was dealing with.

Sighing, Rei pulled himself unsteadily to his feet, blinking a few times in an attempt to stop the room from spinning, although he noted with some relief that he was able to suppress the urge to just fall over immediately; something he hadn't been able to manage for the last few days. For that, at least he was thankful; Kai was hardly likely to come to his aid in his current state. Not that he needed help, of course. He just… wanted it. Maybe he wanted to need it. Need Kai.

Rei could hardly believe how hopeless he had become. In the space of less than a week he had been turned from someone with a vague crush on his team captain to a fair imitation of a desperate fangirl. Only more attractive, Rei reminded himself. Also… possibly more to Kai's tastes, judging by a fair number of his actions and his judgement of the comic book that had been sprung on him unexpectedly.

A little hesitantly, Rei made his way to the bedroom door, although it was more from doubt about his team mate's reaction than an inability to walk properly because he'd only been out of bed to use the bathroom in three days. He paused by the door, thinking about what he could possibly say but, at a loss, only waited for a moment before opening it, biting his lip nervously as he peered into the lounge area, quickly identifying the silhouette sitting on the sofa in front of the TV as his target. A glance around the room told him that Tyson and the others were out, providing at least a little relief.

"Kai?" he ventured quietly, slowly stepping closer to the sofa, only glancing at the muted television in front of it. It was showing what looked like a drama; something Kai hated, so the other boy obviously wasn't watching it. The fact that it was on showed Kai was looking for a distraction, but judging by the way he was vacantly staring at the space a few inches above the television, it clearly wasn't providing one. Rei tried again, "Kai. We need to talk."

The only reaction Rei got was a slight nod, Kai's eyes lowering to stare at the floor. The only light in the room came from the television, the flickering reflecting in those eyes as Kai frowned, looking as confused as Rei felt. When the sound of Kai's voice penetrated the silence, Rei almost jumped. He hadn't expected Kai to venture anything willingly, had thought this would be an agonisingly one-sided conversation.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that."

Rei almost fell over in shock. Kai was… apologising? Still, if he was making an effort to… well, make an effort, Rei would too.

"It… wasn't just you, though, was it?" he asked, trying to be distant, trying not to intrude on Kai's emotions while at the same time desperately seeking an emotional response that would reveal once and for all how the other boy felt about him. It wasn't as easy as it sounded.

"You were feverish. I took advantage. I should have had more control."

Kai was using that line of argument again; Rei wanted to smack some sense into him but knew it would be less than productive. And there was something in Kai's voice that stopped Rei from objecting too harshly, because it sounded suspiciously like… guilt. Kai sounded guilty, and Rei wasn't entirely sure which part it was that was making him so. His conviction that he'd been doing it against Rei's will, or the thought that he'd been doing it against his own. As though a loss of control was significant enough to tear him up like this. As though the thought of his own emotions was so terrifying.

"Kai, you can't blame that on yourself. It was… mutual. Wasn't it?"

Rei was pushing it slightly, he knew; implying that he had wanted to kiss Kai was walking into a conversational minefield. The question caused Kai to give him a calculating look, and Rei knew he had at least achieved his initial goal. To let Kai know they were thinking the same thing. Because, from the looks, the uncertainty, Rei could only gather that they were. He just hoped to God that he was right, because he was about to take a risk that could not only cause him to lose his limbs, but also one of his most trusted friends. Seating himself on the arm of the sofa, perched a little awkwardly, Rei began to talk, trying not to think too hard, his own way of expressing his thoughts in his hesitancy.

"I don't know what you want me to think, Kai. You're hiding, behind your own walls and the excuse of my illness, and what I want… what I need right now is for you to be honest with me. Because I'm scared, Kai. I'm scared that I could lose you over this and I don't want to do that. I trust you, Kai, and although I've been told a fair few times that my trust in you is misplaced, I can't believe that it is. You've always stood by me, and… I can't believe I'm about to say this, but… have you ever been to England? Of course you've been to England, I was there, but… they have this phrase. And I think it's particularly relevant in this situation because… considering what I've said already I think you can pretty much gather what I'm about to say. So I might as well say all of it."

"Rei." Kai attempted to get the other boy's attention, a little confused by his apparently irrelevant rambling, but his attempt went ignored as Rei, lost in his thoughts, simply continued, trying desperately to gather the courage he needed because he knew that sooner or later Kai was bound to snap if he just kept rambling without reaching a conclusion.

"But I have no idea how to say it. That's what I'm trying to do now, but the further I go the worse I get. I just don't know what to do. I can't keep going on like this…"

"Rei." Kai repeated, massaging the bridge of his nose as he, again, had no effect on Rei's monologue.

"I just… God, Kai. It's confusing me because I don't know what to think about how I'm feeling, and about how you're feeling, and-"

"Rei!" Kai, unable to take it anymore, moved to place his hands on Rei's shoulders, actually physically turning the other boy to face him properly, "Shut up."

Rei faltered, shocked and kind of hurt by the interruption, but the moment it took for him to gather himself enough to attempt an objection was slightly longer than the moment it took Kai to curve his fingers around his neck and pull him into a kiss. A real kiss, unlike the one they had shared before, full of passion and promises and, oh, God, Kai's tongue was at his lips, soft but insistent, and Rei whimpered as Kai wrapped strong arms around his waist, pulling him down onto the seat without breaking the kiss, pinning him against the arm of the sofa. It was only then that Rei recovered enough to respond, reaching one hand up to tangle his fingers in the soft hair that had always fascinated him while the other rested gently on the small of Kai's back, not feeling quite brave enough to explore just yet. Again, he couldn't help the whimper that escaped his throat against his will as Kai nibbled gently on his bottom lip, and he flushed slightly as he actually felt Kai smile against his lips.

"Don't laugh at me," he objected softly as Kai released his lip, although he smiled himself as another soft kiss reassured him.

"Do you hear me laughing?" Kai asked, and the smile and feigned innocence in his voice made Rei's heart melt.

"Kai…"

"Rei. Please don't talk." Kai requested, adoring Rei's curious look and the way the other boy didn't seem to be able to stop himself from playing with his hair, "My head hurts. I've been thinking too much. Just… tomorrow. I promise."

He looked up to meet Rei's eyes, ignoring the throb of pain that accompanied the movement. Smiling softly, the other boy nodded, and Kai closed his eyes, even the glow from the television penetrating his brain. He felt Rei's hands move, keeping his eyes closed through a combination of pain and trust, unable to keep an appreciative smile from showing as Rei softly began to massage his temples, leaning in to kiss him softly. Lazily, he responded, making a slight noise of objection as Rei pulled back, a thought suddenly occurring to him.

"Won't the others be back soon?"

"Back? They didn't go out," Kai frowned, squinting against the light as he opened his eyes to look at the other boy, whose shocked and horrified expression was completely priceless, "Kidding. What time is it?"

"Kai!" Rei objected loudly, forgetting Kai's headache until the other boy winced at the noise. Lowering the volume, he continued, "Sorry. But that was mean."

"My middle name." Kai leaned in for a final kiss before getting to his feet, the reminder of his team mates' imminent return having killed the mood slightly. Especially considering what Tyson's reaction was likely to be. He suppressed a shudder, "I'm going to bed."

He headed for the bedroom, slightly stunned by how much the pain had slowed his reactions as he failed to notice Rei following him, grabbing his wrist as he neared the bedroom door. Wordlessly, Rei pulled him into another kiss, a hint of desperation in the gesture. Unsure of Rei's reasons, but unwilling to upset the other boy by refusing, Kai wrapped an arm around his waist, the feeling of that warm body against his improved only by the knowledge that it was Rei he was holding, finally.

"What's wrong?" he asked, as Rei reluctantly let him go, looking a little embarrassed.

"Just… kinda scared I'm gonna wake up tomorrow and this'll all have been a dream."

"It's not." Kai said simply, promising himself that the kiss he gave Rei at that moment would be the last of the night; he really had to get some sleep, "I've only ever had nightmares."

And, leaving Rei to think what he wanted of his somewhat cryptic comment, Kai suppressed the urge to once again kiss that beautiful mouth, since it was getting more and more difficult to withdraw with each one he was forced to end, and settled for stroking his cheek briefly. The uncharacteristically tender gesture was not lost on Rei, who gave him one of the most genuine smiles Kai had ever seen and it was with some difficulty that he left for the bedroom, definitely ready for bed.

Rei stood there for a moment, frowning slightly as he wondered just what Kai had meant, and jumped as the sound of the front door opening and three rather too energetic bladers crashed through the door to land in a heap on the floor.

"You guys alright?" unable to keep the smile from his face, Rei watched them as they attempted to get up, Tyson's muttering about Max needing to go on a diet resulting in a further scuffle as Max retaliated, insulted by the implication that he was the heavier one. Rei rolled his eyes, exchanging a look with Kenny, who nodded a greeting before heading for his room. The bag from a shop with the word "technological" in the title, from what Rei could gather, showed that he'd like to be left alone. Max and Tyson continued to fight, Rei wondering just when the guests in the room below them would complain and thinking that, maybe, finally, things were back to normal. He'd had enough of just lying in bed all day.

"Night, guys," he said, amusement evident in his voice as he headed back to the bedroom, his vow to stay out of bed postponed as he realised just how much the simple act of getting up and having a… slightly heated exchange had drained him. Maybe he wasn't completely better yet. Still, tomorrow would be better.

Climbing into bed, Rei allowed himself a last look at the apparently sleeping form of Kai, an involuntary smile on his face as he closed his eyes, sighing contentedly. Yes, tomorrow would be better, he thought, as sleep began to overcome him.

"Rei," Kai said quietly, and Rei, in his desire for sleep, suddenly registered that the voice was closer than it should have been. Damn, he was getting slow, especially considering that Kai was standing right next to his bed and he hadn't even heard him move. Damnit.

"You alright, Kai?" was the drowsy reply, as Kai showed no sign of continuing without a prompt.

"Budge up," Kai's voice was demanding, as usual, but Rei saw in the way the other boy avoided his eyes that he was hesitant about asking. Smiling, he lifted a corner of his cover in invitation.

"Thought you'd never ask."

End chapter

Hahahaha! Look at the ending, and marvel! For it isn't the last chapter! Which is good, because it would be so bollocks if I ended it there. Do you have that word in America? Bollocks?

Nooooooo, I'm getting into this now! I've been sidetracked with House, MD fanfiction (see my account if you love HouseWilson as much as I do) but the thing with writing about doctors is it makes you want to write about sick people! But because I've been watching House so much my Kai and Rei have been getting increasingly out of character. It's cute, though, right?

And no, no you were all wrong! Nicholas is named after the Hot Fuzz character, you crazy Americans! Well, until the next chapter!