Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations I put them in. Everything else belongs to somebody else so give credit where credit is due. Thanks to all my readers and especially those who take the time to review!

Rikuo's Thank You

Trudging back to the store Kazahaya and Rikuo opted not to say a word to each other. Once again they'd nearly gotten themselves killed once on one of Kakei's so called easy assignments. Easy their asses, Kazahaya thought with a dark look as he kicked an empty soda can out of his way. At least it hadn't been his fault this time. Rikuo had fallen through the floor and would have likely broken his stupid neck if he hadn't grabbed the jackass in time. As it was he'd nearly broken his own neck, not to mention his back hauling Rikuo back up. The wooden floors had been destroyed by termites and they'd been on pins and needles making their way up to the attic to get the prize they'd come for. But they had it, safe and secure in his backpack. Glancing over at Rikuo Kazahaya frowned. The jerk hadn't even said thank you. He ALWAYS said thank you when Rikuo saved him, which was admittedly a lot more often than the other way around. Still, the bastard.

Feeling the hot gaze digging into his back Rikuo turned his head, looking over his shoulder at his partner. "What are you pouting about?"

"If you don't know then I see know reason to tell you, you jerk."

Raising an eyebrow Rikuo just smirked and turned his head to continue up the street, enjoying the sound of frustration Kazahaya made behind him. He knew perfectly well what the little idiot was waiting for and it wasn't coming any time soon. It was just too much fun to wind him up like this to spoil it already by giving him the thanks he wanted. And Kazahaya had saved his ass back there. As much as it pained him to admit it he probably would have ended up breaking his neck among other bones if Kazahaya hadn't grabbed him in time. He still couldn't figure out where the idiot had gotten the strength to not only hold on to him but actually pull him up since he was a lot bigger, not to mention heavier. He'd seen Kazahaya wimp out on carry a lot less at the store.

"Saving my life was probably the only thing you've ever done that could be considered nice in your whole, friggin life." Kazahaya muttered under his breath. He understood perfectly Rikuo's confusion as to why the assehole had ever picked him out of that damn snow bank and brought him to the store. That was probably the only truly unselfish thing the jerk had ever done in his miserable life. Or maybe somehow Rikuo had somehow realized that saving him like that would reap him benefits in the future. Like having a toy to play with, Kazahaya thought darkly, well aware of the delight the bastard got from tormenting him.

Hearing him clear enough Rikuo grinned, showing his hands into his pockets. Maybe he was twisted but God, he loved messing with Kazahaya so much! It was just too easy. Messing with his partner's head was probably the only thing he had to look forward to these days. Well that and watching Saiga mess with him too. Though lately, he hadn't enjoyed that so much. If he didn't know better he'd think he was getting possessive, Rikuo thought as his grin slid into a smirk. Not that Kakei's lover boy was going to go after Kazahaya any time soon. He just got..weird when he saw Saiga putting his hands on Kazahaya to rile the guy up. Which was so stupid. He didn't even know why it bugged him. Not that he'd say anything about it. Knowing Saiga or Kakei they'd just jumped to the wrong conclusions. Just because they were gay didn't mean that he and Kazahaya were. Then again, Rikuo thought, looking back over his shoulder as his grin slide back into place. Kazahaya could easily pass for a girl. He'd seen enough guys hit on his partner to know.

"Thank God we're almost there. This thing weighs a ton." Kazahaya muttered, interrupting Rikuo's thoughts. Adjusting the straps that were biting into his shoulders it was only sheer stubbornness that had him not begging Rikuo to take it. The bastard would do it too. Carry it like it was nothing just to piss him off even more. Well to hell with that.

"Poor Baby." Rikuo taunted, turning to walk backwards so that he could see Kazahaya's face better as it went red with anger. The only time Kazahaya was more adorable was when he spazzing over something stupid. His angry face was a close second and always a joy to watch.

"One of these days I'm going to kill you in your sleep. I swear it!" Kazahaya snarled, shaking his fist at Rikuo. "I saved your life tonight, you prick bastard! Now you're picking on me on top of not even bothering to apologize? Could you possibly get any worse?"

"I could try."

Making a sound very close to a strangled scream Kazahaya's face lit up with rage as he picked up his pace, deliberately bumping into Rikuo hard as he passed by. Half walking, half running Rikuo just shook his head and enjoyed the silence and view until they reached the store. Unlocking the door they slid in, not surprised to see Kakei waiting for them with his usual soft, harmless smile. Yeah right. About as harmless as a black widow spider, Kazahaya thought as he marched over, shrugging off the pack. Shoving the pack into Kakei's chest it took all of Kazahaya control not to break into a rant about how he'd been treated and why Rikuo should be fed to ravenous rats. He'd been saying it for months now and they still didn't agree with him.

"You were successful then." Kakei said with a delighted smile, walking over to set the pack on the counter so that he could get the prize. Opening it up he took out the wooden chest with a pleased look on his face he set it beside the pack. "You both did well and will be paid."

"Thanks." Kazahaya said stiffly than to everyone's shock walked out of the room. No dance for joy. No quick rebound from their usual bickering. Not even a sigh of relief that he finally had some money for expenses.

"Well that's unusual." Kakei said slowly, looking over at Rikuo who looked equally surprised at Kazahaya's unusual behavior. "Did something happen that I should know about?"

Shaking his head Rikuo shrugged like it was no big deal, even while he racked his brain trying to think of what he'd done to set Kazahaya off. Nothing worse than usual as far as he could remember. "Anyway I'm going to head to bed, see you tomorrow."

"Yes, and wish Kazahaya a good night for me as well." Kakei said with one of his half sweet, half sly smiles as he watched Rikuo head for the stairs. "Interesting." he muttered to himself, running a finger across the smooth wooden surface of the chest. "Very interesting."

Opening the door Rikuo stepped into the room, coming to a quick halt as he stared at Kazahaya. The little idiot looked like he was in a lot of pain as he leaned against a wall, his hands braced there with his shirt clenched in one of his fists. His head was bowed but the heavy breathing and tense muscles said it all. "What the hell is wrong with you?" Rikuo demanded, marching over to stand beside Kazahaya who didn't move a muscle, definitely a really bad sign.

"Just leave me the hell alone." Kazahaya hissed, his face contracting with pain.

"Like hell I will. Look at me, damn it! Tell me what the hell is wrong with you?" Rikuo demanded, the only thing keeping him from making Kazahaya look at him was the fear that it would make things worse. What the hell was wrong with the idiot?

"It's my back. I strained it pulling you up and the damage finally hit when I was getting my shirt off." Kazahaya groaned through clenched teeth. "And if you say one word about me deserving this or make fun I swear to God, I really will kill you in your sleep if I live through this. If I don't, count on some serious haunting coming your way. You'll never get laid again, I swear!"

"Well isn't that a pleasant thought." Was his partner's dry reply as he moved closer, studying Kazahaya for a moment before shaking his head. "You've really done it this time."

"I've done it? I've done it!" Kazahaya repeated, outrage clear in his voice. Trying to straighten up he gasped, biting down on his lip to hold in the whimper of agony that had threatened to spill out. "Just go to bed. Just go to bed and leave me alone." He finally whispered, just loud enough for Rikuo to hear. And here he'd thought things couldn't get any worse, he thought bitterly.

"Don't go anywhere." Rikuo said with a chuckle, reaching over to ruffle Kazahaya's hair before walking away, Kazahaya blinking in surprise when he heard their door open and then shut. Now where was he going?

It was just one of those few times Rikuo was actually glad to be working here. Whenever they were sick or hurt there was a store right under him with products he could help himself to regardless of the time of day or night. He'd have to pay their boss back but that could wait until they were open tomorrow. Heading for the right aisle he browsed quickly then getting what he needed made a mental note of their prices. Turning off the lights behind him he headed back up the stairs, moving faster than he normally would have. As much as it pained him he was feeling damn guilty now and though he would never admit how low he was feeling at the moment he could at least do something to alleviate his guilt slightly and help the idiot out. Returning to their room he walked over to the dresser beside Kazahaya who hadn't apparently tried to move a muscle since he'd gone downstairs.

"Go to get a camera?" Kazahaya sulked, his lower lip coming out in a distinct pout. Where was the sympathy? Where was the consideration? Did no one in this place give a damn about him at all? Was he all just toys for their amusement? And what was Rikuo doing, he wondered, hearing the sound of a box being opened beside him.

"I knew I forgot something." Rikuo drawled, rubbing the muscle cream in between his hands to warm it up slightly. "Now I'm going to put something on your back. For your own sake don't jump around."

"What are you doing to put on my back?" Kazahaya demanded to know, his tone almost tearful. In his present condition Rikuo could write something or draw some perverted picture on his back. He'd be helpless to stop him. Life was so damn unfair.

"Don't be such a baby." Was his answer as Rikuo got behind Kazahaya and began to gently massage the cream into Kazahaya's shoulders, carefully working out each knot as he ignored the younger man's protests. He knew it would hurt but it was necessary if Kazahaya was going to be able to go to sleep, much less in his own bed tonight.

Eyes going wide Kazahaya bit down hard on his lip to keep himself from making a noise as Rikuo's hands worked out the kinks in his shoulders and neck before working his way down his back. He'd like to think this was some sort of torture Rikuo had devised but he knew that was just mean thinking. There were a lot of ways Rikuo could be making his life hell right now, ones that didn't involve something that was actually doing as much good as harm. Yes it hurt but he was also doing an amazing job unloosening the knots that were keeping him bent over like this.

"God, I've seen less knots in a hundred year old tree." Rikuo muttered under his breath, adding more of the cream to his hands. And talk about the skin of a baby, he thought as he returned his hands to Kazahaya's back. He'd known girls in school who would kill to have this kind of skin. What a waste to put it on a guy. Really, when you thought about it it was really probably a good thing that Kazahaya had never gone to a public school. The girls would have either been after him like rabid wolves or they would have hated him for being prettier than them. Hell, the guys would have been after him too and made the little girlie boy's life hell. It wasn't like Kazahaya had the brains to handle that sort of situation either. He'd handled himself pretty well at that boarding school though so maybe not, though his own presence had probably kept a lot of the rougher guys from approaching Kazahaya. Now that had been an interesting assignment. Pretending he was all hot and bothered over the stupid little idiot. As if.

Ignoring that comment Kazahaya was too grateful to point out his back would have been just fine if some idiot hadn't fallen through the stupid floor. He might not have been the brightest person in the world, far from it, but even he was smart enough to know that he should be grateful Rikuo was bothering to help him at all. This was Rikuo after all.

"You're surprisingly silent." Rikuo commented, not about to admit he was glad that Kazahaya wasn't making a big deal about this. After all this had to hurt a hell of a lot and his patient wasn't exactly known for being quiet, especially when he was in pain.

"So you can't thank me but I'm supposed to thank you, is that it?"

"That wasn't what I meant. I know you'll thank me, it's a compulsion with you." Rikuo pointed out, pleased at the sass in Kazahaya's voice. Apparently the pain was letting up.

"Thanks so much." Kazahaya shot back, his sarcasm plain. It was the truth but he hated it when Rikuo rubbed it in how often he had to thank him. So he was polite, so sue him. He'd been taught to thank people when they helped, since when was that weird and old fashioned? It was plain common curtesy, dammit.

"You're welcome. Try straightening up." Rikuo said as he took a step back, rubbing what was left of the cream into his own skin. "If you can that is." He added, putting in the taunt to make Kazahaya that much more determined to pull it off.

"Go to hell." Kazahaya shot back through grinched teach as he slowly straightened up to his full height. It hurt, but he could do it. Trying to roll his shoulders he winced and decided he wouldn't try that again for a little bit longer. Bending back down again he still felt shooting pains but at least his muscles weren't tensing and seizing up anymore. Straightening he turned and looked over at Rikuo, his eyes a mixture of pain, gratitude and annoyance. "Thanks, I'll pay Kakei back for the stuff."

"I brought up some painkillers, that should help with the rest." Rikuo replied, motioning towards the dresser where the empty box for the cream lay beside the other, smaller box that contained the pills. He himself hated taking pills of any kind so he was pretty sure there weren't any in the medicine cabinet.

"Why are you being so nice to me?" Kazahaya demanded to know as he took the box off the dresser to open it, eyeing Rikuo wearily. This just wasn't like the jerk at all. What Rikuo should be do is making fun of the predicament he'd found himself in, not helping him out of it. Especially when there was nothing to be gained from lending a hand.

"What? Aren't I a nice guy?" Rikuo said with his most innocent face, pulling it off other than the wide grin he just couldn't hold back. Kazahaya was looking at him like he was some big cat waiting to pounce on a mouse.

"Hell no."

"Now that hurts my feelings." Rikuo said silkily, walking over to set his hands on Kazahaya's shoulders, enjoying the combination of surprise and steamed outrage that was written in big bold letters on the other man's face. "Where's my show of gratitude for going out of my way to help you, huh?"

"I already said thanks, didn't I?" Was Kazahaya's snarled response, his face scrunched up like an annoyed little boy who wasn't getting the cookie he'd been pleading for. "What more do you want? Me to get down on my kneesand kiss your feet or something?"

"If you want to. Sounds good to me."

He'd always hated Rikuo smart ass replies, especially since the jerk always came up with ones that were ten times better than his own. Glaring fiercely an idea popped into his head. It made his stomach recoil in protest even while his mind acknowledged that it would be the perfect revenge. The question was, would the overwhelming joy of humiliating, unsettling and upsetting Rikuo like that outweigh his own personal embarrassment over it?

"What are you thinking?" Rikuo asked, his suspicion plain. There was such an assortment of emotions crossing Kazahaya's face that he couldn't even keep track. Just what was going through the little idiot's head?

"That you're right, I should thank you properly." Kazahaya said slowly, an almost evil smile crossing his face as he looked up at Rikuo. "After all, if it weren't for you I wouldn't be able to stand up, much less move."

Okay, something was definitely wrong here, Rikuo thought, not liking that smile at all. It was the kind of smile Saiga got on his face just before he pounced on Kazahaya unexpectedly. Since when had Kazahaya gone evil on him?

"Well if it's a kiss you want...well then I guess I'm just obligated to give you one. Unfortunately I'm in no shape to reach your toes, so this'll have to do." Kazahaya said sweetly as he reached out and grabbing Rikuo's head firmly between his hands forced Rikuo to bend slightly so that he could plant a kiss on the other man's shocked lips. It was quick, just enough to make the contact obvious before he let him go, easily pushing the shocked Rikuo back. Oh that had so been worth it. Winking he stuck his hands in pockets, the pain forgotten in the joy of watching Rikuo's face go red for a change. "I think I'll go have a shower." Whistling under his breath Kazahaya practically skipped across the room and closing and locking the bathroom door behind him couldn't remember ever feeling this smug. Damn, it was good to be alive.