A/N: Wow… It's been a while since I last saw this story…it got lost in one of my binders or drawers. Cool. Well, I hope you like it!
Disclaimer: Don't own Furuba, not making any money either
Warnings: Very miniscule SPOILER for chapter 97 only
Main Characters: Aaya and Tori
Additional Notes: This is completely cannon…weird for me…
Symbiotic: sym·bi·ot·ic /-'ä-tik/ adjective: a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups) that has mutual benefits for both organisms.
The day was cool as Hatori waited silently in front of the shop doors, occasionally taking a drag off the cigarette between his fingers. It was near noon now, and he was beginning to grow impatient. His emerald eyes flicked to the watch on his wrist before returning to the sparsely crowded street; he sighed.
The door opened behind him and he turned to see the person he had been waiting for. Ayame shivered as the cooler air washed over his pale skin, though the dark royal blue maxi he wore covered all but his face. For added protection he had matching light gray gloves and a long scarf, but already after only a few minutes in the cold air his cheeks had become rosier. He smiled at Hatori, his bright golden eyes dancing. "Tori-san, what are you doing here?" he blurted out as soon as he noticed the other man. "You know I hate to impose on you any sort of inconvenience! How ever shall I repay you for coming?"
The corners of Hatori's lips curved upward slightly. "By letting me walk you to my house and fixing me some of your wonderful tea."
Ayame's grin only widened. "That's brilliant! But of course, what's tea without mikan on a day such as this?"
"True," agreed Hatori as he tugged on the sleeves of his dark trench coat. "Mikan sounds quite delicious at a time like this."
They started walking, lost in an amiable silence, at ease with each other's company. Ayame soon began to lean closer and closer to his taller companion, pulling his coat tighter around his frame and fiddling with the ends of his scarf, humming lightly under his breath. Suddenly Hatori pulled him nearer, putting an arm around the younger man's shoulder, a small smirk twisting on his face. Ayame blinked. "Tori-san?"
Golden eyes softened and Ayame leaned into Hatori's warmth. "Thank you."
Hatori only smiled.
It was so…peaceful, Hatori decided as he sent a quick glance at Ayame. True, it was cooler than he would have liked, but that didn't quell the feeling he had. It was such a warm feeling… Idly, the older man wondered if Ayame was feeling as warm as him, unconsciously pulling him a little closer.
"Tori-san?" asked Ayame. "Did Gure-san tell you?"
Hatori frowned a little. "Tell me what?"
The smile on Ayame's face only widened. "About Tohru-kun's birthday party—she's turning eighteen and Gure-san is throwing a surprise party for her!"
"Interesting." Hatori's lips twitched into a small curve. "And I suppose he wants you and I to handle the cooking and decorating—right?"
"Yes! It'll be so much fun Tori-san!" laughed the younger man, dancing a little though somehow keeping in stride with his long-legged friend. "We'll make it a party fit for a princess!"
"I'm sure we will," agreed Hatori with a quiet chuckle. "But first let's go in and have some of your wonderful tea with some mikan."
A cold wind blew up and Ayame shivered, nodding. They were already to Hatori's doorstep. "All right!" Hatori smiled slightly and opened the door; Ayame stumbled in with a happy smile and waited until the door was shut before he began to shed his extra layers, wriggling out of the maxi and throwing the gloves and scarf on a near-by chair. He reminded Hatori of a real snake shedding its skin as the layers began to pile up.
"Ah," he said, smiling with his bright golden eyes fixed up at his friend. "That's better—shall I start the tea?"
Hatori nodded and took a seat at the low table, knowing already that Ayame would only shoo him from the kitchen if he attempted to help. "So, how is Kuramae-san?"
From the corner of his eye, Hatori saw his friend's movements slow as those golden eyes glazed over; and then it was gone as if it'd never been—Ayame laughed. "Ah, dear, sweet Miine! She's such a help around the store—I don't know what I'd have done if she had never fallen into my life like an angel from the sky above! I'd be completely lost without her, and so would my beloved store!"
Hatori's emerald eyes narrowed for a moment, but he let it go. "It seems like she's perfect—I congratulate you." He kept his voice carefully neutral. "However, perfection has its price, you know."
Ayame frowned as he put the tea kettle on the stove. "I'm not stupid enough to tell Akito. I can wait until she's six feet beneath me, Tori-san—don't worry about me."
The elder shook his head. "I didn't say anything, Ayame."
The silver-haired man only shrugged. Time slipped silently past as they waited for the tea. Ayame passed the time by quietly humming the verse of an old song, having forgotten the words years ago. Hatori smiled and tapped his fingers in time with the old tune. It seemed the lyrics were on the tip of his tongue but the shrill sound of the whistling teakettle blew it from his mind like dust. He sighed.
"Almost ready Tori-san," chirped Ayame happily. Within five minutes, Ayame presented his friend with a tray of steaming tea, setting it on the table between them, and cautiously taking a seat.
Hatori took the cup he offered and held it carefully in his hands, letting he scent drift over his senses. After the tea had cooled a little, he took a sip, sighing in contentment. Golden eyes were fixed eagerly on him, anxiously awaiting the verdict. "Delicious Ayame, as usual," he murmured; His friend grinned, relieved and somewhat triumphant. "Really, if you hadn't become a tailor, I honestly believe you would have made a fine chef."
Ayame's pale cheeks colored slightly. "Come now Tori-san, you're embarrassing me."
But Hatori could see Ayame was pleased and he just smiled. "I give praise where praise is due."
There was a far-off look, soft and distant, on his friend's face. "You know, Tori-san, on the subject of love and women," he said quietly, almost secretively, and Hatori was forced to lean forward to hear. "I believe…that you could be happy with Mayu-chan, if you gave it a chance."
Hatori blinked. "Eh? Mayuko?" He shook his head. "Ayame…you know very well that Kana was it for me. I couldn't hurt Mayuko the way I hurt Kana—I would be able to live with myself."
"Give Mayu-chan a little more credit than that," retorted Ayame, studying Hatori's face. "Listen to me for once; Mayu-chan isn't Kana-kun. She's stronger—she wouldn't give in to Akito's words as easily—she would stay."
Hatori groaned. "Akito would never allow it. She's far too…"
"Tyrannical?" supplied Ayame offhandedly.
His friend nodded. "Either way, it would be suicidal to test her patience a second time." He looked away, running a hand through his jet-black hair. He closed his eyes. "But…it could be possible…to see Mayuko, and just not say anything about it…"
"So you'll give her a chance?"
The elder of the pair smiled almost tiredly. "I won't make any promises."
Ayame smiled and plucked a mikan from the basket on the table, carefully peeling down the sides into four sections with a manicured nail. "Ah, mikan!" he sighed. "I would live off them if they didn't turn one orange." They laughed and Hatori joined his friend in peeling a mikan, finding the small oranges just as delectable as Ayame did.
After he'd eaten away the fruits itself, Hatori looked at the peeling left in his hand; he smiled. "A flower," he said quietly. "It looks like a flower."
"Of course it does," agreed Ayame as he laid his own empty peeling on top of Hatori's so that all the "petals" could be seen. "And now it has an identity!"
Hatori's smile widened a little. "A lotus."
Ayame nodded, grinning before suddenly yawning. "Oh dear," he sighed, leaning back and flipping his silver braid over his shoulder. He smiled distantly, his eyelids beginning to droop. "I believe…a little nap is in order. If you don't mind, Tori-san?"
"Of course I don't." He offered his friend and cousin a small smile as Ayame got to his feet.
Once Ayame was settled on the couch, fast asleep in seconds under three blankets, Hatori busied himself with cleaning the kotatsu and putting away the dishes after washing them. He sighed as he let his mind drift. He looked down at the dishes and Shigure's voice floated through the silence. "It seems to me, Haa-san," Shigure had said, frowning a little, "That just as Tohru-kun is a tranquilizer for Yuki and Kyou, you're a tranquilizer for Aaya. The only difference is, what are you getting from it?" Shigure had shaken his head and taken another drag off his cigarette. "After all, you give him almost constant attention, guide him through everything and shield him—you even drive him everywhere—you spoil him, shelter him. Why?"
Hatori swallowed, putting the last of the plates away. With slow, almost hesitant steps, he made his way to the couch and Ayame's temporary bed. Ayame was turned toward the back cushions, his silver hair free of its braid and cascading down the side in rippling waves. He looked so peaceful, so content. And suddenly Hatori knew the answer to Shigure's question: he needed Ayame.
It was as simple as that.
He needed his cousin as much as Ayame needed him. Without him, Hatori knew Ayame might float away, what with the Snake's personality inherently flighty and airy—carefree. Without him, Ayame would lose all stability, just as Hatori would be dragged too far down without his cousin there to remind him what it was to forget the day's troubles. Truly, they needed each other.
Hatori smiled softly, something he seemed to be doing more and more in Ayame's presence, gently brushing the silver bangs from those closed golden eyes. "Sleep well, Ayame. I have my answers now." And with a tender kiss on the forehead, Hatori left Ayame to his dreams, with the intention of calling Mayuko.
A/N: Wow. That was almost pointless, but sweet. And it wasn't shounen-ai for once! Praise me! …I kid, I kid! If the pairings weren't clear, it was slight AayaXMiine and slight ToriXMayu. I hope you liked it, and please, review!