Summary: The title really says it all . For Fireworks, who proposed the challenge. Fireworks left another really interesting option which was 'five things Kouyuu has been punished for', but I'm in far too evil a mood to inflict that particular challenge on Kouyuu at the moment. There is some slight Shuuei/Kouyuu present, so if that is not your cup of tea then you have been prewarned.

Five things Kouyuu is secretly embarrassed about.

Even though it was something Kouyuu would never, ever admit anyone, there was a part of him that was embarrassed that Reishin had adopted him. Which then lead him to being embarrassed about being embarrassed, because who in the world would think that being saved from the streets could ever be a bad thing, even if said savior was a little bit strange and occasionally unstable? His embarrassment wasn't because of Reishin, although the man who had adopted him has a habit of doing things on a daily basis that made Kouyuu burry his head in his hands. Reishin ... Reishin was someone that Kouyuu could never quite understand, and yet simply being allowed near him had a strange effect on him that was difficult to ever put into words.

And, maybe in a way it WAS because of Reishin, because there was no way Kouyuu would ever be able to compare or live up to what people expected from someone who was only really masquerading at being Reishin's son. He had seen it in their eyes the moment he had first stepped into the palace confounds, disdained gazes meeting him at the front gates. They expected something else, someone brilliant and suave and ... someone like Shuuei, most likely. Shuuei would have made the perfect son for Reishin if not for the pesky little fact that Shuuei unfortunately had a father already. Nobody had expected petty, elegant, searingly intelligent Reishin to adopt a mishmash of a child who couldn't even get back to his own residence without getting lost. Even now, Kouyuu still found himself embarrassed when they would look at him, silently sizing him up as though he was some slab of meat at an auction and finding him wanting. If it hadn't been Reishin that he was being compared to, if it had perhaps been someone else who had come by that day ...

But it hadn't been anyone else, and the mere thought of not being at Reishin's side was enough to leave Kouyuu cold. If this secret embarrassment was the price for being allowed near the man who had adopted him, well there were greater prices Kouyuu would (and had) paid. It was something that didn't quite ever dash away the fear, however, that perhaps his embarrassment was something that Reishin shared.

Only Shuuei knew that Kouyuu was secretly afraid of ghosts, which was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Shuuei was unlikely to tell anyone else about such a fear, if only because Kouyuu knew enough about Shuuei's own little fears to be able to buy his best friend's silence. On the other hand, Shuuei was the only person who knew that Kouyuu was secretly afraid of ghosts, which meant hours of endless teasing and whispers of 'boo!' in his ears. Most people tended to avoid the things that they were the most afraid of, but Kouyuu had never been one to allow his fears to dictate how he went about his life, and chose instead to tackle such obstacles head on. Shuuei had often said that that had little to do with fears and dictating, and a whole lot to do with the fact that Kouyuu was simply stubbornly pig-headed. His best friend made a habit of 'accompanying Kouyuu on his fear conquering moments of insanity' as Shuuei so elegantly liked to put it, and it was only because Shuuei would make his life even more difficult if Kouyuu went without him that Kouyuu allowed such a thing. He knew why Shuuei went with him of course, just like he knew exactly why Shuuei would deliberately irritate him to the point where he could see nothing else through a blind haze of annoyance. Shuuei's deliberate ploys to manipulate Kouyuu's thoughts away from whatever was plaguing him were something Kouyuu refused to ever feel embarrassed about, mainly because you could hardly feel embarrassed about something you stead fast refused to acknowledge in the first place.

So, when the festival for the dead rolled around and Kouyuu braved the streets, daring both people and ghosts alike to mock him for stepping out on the most ghost-ridden day of the year, Shuuei's long stride easily kept pace with Kouyuu's hurried ones. And, when rumors spread that a ghost had infiltrated the palace, Shuuei was there talking about the latest pretty girl he'd just met.

It wasn't his fear of ghosts, however, that Kouyuu was secretly embarrassed about - any sane person would be afraid of ghosts, after all. It was more the fact that he had gotten over this particular fear some time ago, and he just hadn't quite gotten around to telling Shuuei that yet.

Kouyuu wasn't quite as virginal as everyone thought. It was an illusion he rather liked, however, and one that - if forced upon him enough - he could almost let himself believe was true.

For years, Kouyuu had kept a collection of all the small little things that were important to him in a small sack under his bed. At the very beginning there had been only a little rock slab in the bottom and a plum blossom that he'd pressed between two books so that it never completely faded away. He'd only ever added to the collection occasionally, as there was rarely ever anything to add, but each addition was handled with childish reverence before being placed carefully away. A tiny red bow that had been wrapped around the first present he'd ever, ever received (Kouyuu hadn't cared that it had been left at the end of the bed, nor that no-one had claimed to have left it for him), a bookmark that had once been Reishin's but which Reishin had given to him one day when he'd noticed Kouyuu admiring it. It had been his own private, secret little stash, and he protected it with a youthfulness that had been unlike him.

Just after he turned twelve, Reishin had somehow found the sack and had coldly asked Kouyuu what it was. Kouyuu still didn't know how Reishin had gotten a hold of the sack in the first place, although he had a sneaking suspicion that it had been discovered by the housekeeper. He had simply glared in response, far too embarrassed to admit out loud that he had painstakingly collected all his memories of the other man together just in case one day Reishin decided that he didn't want to put up with him anymore and sent him away. Reishin had narrowed his eyes in return, before sweeping out of the room, taking the sack with him. What exactly Reishin had done with it Kouyuu didn't know. He wasn't entirely sure whether he wanted to or not, either.

Of all the things that Kouyuu was secretly embarrassed about, falling in love with Shuuei of all people had to top the list. It was bad enough that trying to keep something like that from the other man was damn well impossible, and the way his best friend-slash-stupidstupidcrush's gaze had stopped being contemplative recently and become something far more predator-like had Kouyuu completely on edge. But, but ... it was the fact that everyone else had seen it before Kouyuu had that made Kouyuu grind his teeth and glare as hard as he possibly could in the hope of driving away the angry blush that was sure to come if he didn't. The odd little comments from Reishin suddenly made more sense - although they were far more disturbing that way, and Ryuuki's continual confusion whenever Kouyuu said that he didn't care that Shuuei frequented the red light district beyond the fact it meant the other man wasn't doing serious stuff like actual work looked a whole lot different when lit by a little self awareness.

And people had actually thought that Kouyuu had known, and that he just hadn't ... hadn't what? Wanted to risk his reputation? Was above things such as relationships? Didn't know how such things worked? Kouyuu had no idea, although the gossip mill apparently did. What was even worse (and it just kept getting worse) was that everyone seemed to know that Shuuei actually felt the same way, which was ridiculous and stupid because Shuuei would never, ever-

And it just. Kept. Getting. Worse.