There was nothing much Shuuei could do when Ryuuren announced at the drop of a hat that he was forsaking his travel plans for the time being and proceeded to follow him home. After all, if Ryuuren had behaved himself at Kou Shouka's residence the night before in the company of his new favourite kokoro no tomo Kou Shuurei…perhaps he would behave himself as well tonight. A far-fetched idea, but it was not as if Shuuei was not used to his younger brother's antics, as bizarre as they were.

So far so good.

Ryuuren was still sitting in the same position since they retired from dinner at dusk; flattered as Shuuei was at Ryuuren's sudden interest in spending time with him, it was still something he was not quite sure what to make of. It did not help clear matters, the almost amorous way his baby brother kept staring at him and not uttering a word.

It was quite interesting, the book he was reading, but the crazy person who insisted on not leaving him alone was ruining it for him. Shuuei shifted in his chair.

"Paint a picture. It lasts longer," he said absently.

Ryuuren's eyelashes barely fluttered; his violet eyes tumultuous and intense.

Shuuei heaved a long, deep sigh tinged with more exasperation than he intended.

Guess there's no use telling Ryuuren to go back to his room when he's like this, he thought wryly.

Long seconds passed before the statue crouched so inelegantly on his bed finally moved. Ryuuren unceremoniously dropped onto his belly, propped his elbows on Shuuei's pillows and cupped his cheeks in his palms.

Shuuei could feel the stare bore a hole in the side of his head.

The thudding sounds Ryuuren's heels made upon impact against the wall next to his bed as he rhythmically swung his legs in antagonistic motion were in sync with the throbbing in Shuuei's temple.

"Foolish Older Brother the Fourth."

Finally he speaks!

"What is it, Ryuuren?" Shuuei answered tensely.

"If I told you I had something to tell you, assuming you and I have always been on good terms, and assuming we always tell each other secrets, and assuming I would want to tell you, and assuming you would believe every word, would you want to hear?"

Shuuei looked on blankly.

"Idiot Brother?"

"I'm afraid you lost me at the first two sets of assumptions, Ryuuren."

"I thought as much." Ryuuren scrambled off his brother's bed and walked over to Shuuei's desk slowly, looking suspiciously calculative and quite unlike his usually dysthymic self. "You would think years of hanging around that friend of yours would have made Foolish Older Brother the Fourth slightly brighter."

Shuuei did not so much bother to bristle at the suggestion of an insult as to grow wary at the sudden mention of his- "Friend? Which friend?"

Ryuuren looked genuinely confused. "Do you have very many?"

Shuuei palmed his temple in frustration. "What was the original question again?"

"If I told you I had something to tell you, would you be curious to know? Would you be prepared to give all of yourself just to find out what it is, assuming I'm telling you the tru-"

"Stop with all the assumings, I get it." A hand impatiently poked Ryuuren in the shoulder. "What is it do you wish to tell me?"

"Something I learnt about your friend, the one who is and isn't a Kou-" Ryuuren frowned. "Why is that exactly? The ambiguity of his identity lends a somewhat mysterious air to his persona which in itself does not speak of very much; he has books for pillows, he talks in his sleep, he forgets the direction to his own roo-"

"Ryuuren," Shuuei reprimanded sternly. "Your point being?" Kouyuu talks in his sleep? Really?

Much to his surprise, Ryuuren proceeded to put his hands on his shoulders. "Foolish Older Brother (the Fourth)."

"Uh...yes?" Ryuuren looked dead serious.

In growing suspense, Shuuei went rigid as Ryuuren leaned in closer…until their noses were almost touching…and his lips were brushing against his ear-

And Foolish Older Brother IV's eyes widened as the meaning of Ran Ryuuren's whispered words sank in.


"Paint a picture. It lasts longer," Kouyuu growled.

Still Shuuei said nothing.

Kouyuu clenched a fist. "Stop staring at me!" He promptly propelled a book in the general direction of his best friend's head, which Shuuei easily dodged, but he'd thrown it so hard it bounced off the wall and hit a vase of flowers on the table instead, sending it crashing to the floor. Shuuei cracked a wince as he lifted a leg to dodge flying bits of glass.

"Now look what you've done!" Kouyuu shouted in rage, shaking his hands in the air. "What is the matter with you today? If you're just going to sit there and watch every move I make, then just get out and get lost and stay lost!"

"Ah, but I am not you," Shuuei said almost wickedly. He nudged a piece of broken glass with his toe and rested his leg back on the floor, sitting back comfortably again in his chair. "I can tell north from south, west from east. But lucky for you, love requires neither direction nor map, eh?"

"Aaa-?"

"Kouyuu…" Shuuei was looking at him funny again, and Kouyuu could feel his face flush to the roots of his hair.

"W-w-what is it?" Kouyuu stammered. He was getting more baffled with each passing second.

Shuuei rose from his seat and strode slowly across the room toward his friend's desk onto which (from the way he was hiding behind it) Kouyuu seemed to be hanging for dear life.

"You're looking flushed," Shuuei teased. "Are you feeling hot, Kouyuu-chan?"

"Haaa???!" Kouyuu forgot all about his wariness and shot out of his seat, all green-haired and -eyed. "What did you just call me???"

Shuuei's hand snaked out to grasp his wrist, and with enough strength to propel Kouyuu completely out of his chair, he pulled Kouyuu away from the table. With a yelp, Kouyuu knocked his back into the wall and uttered an involuntary gasp when Shuuei pressed his thigh against Kouyuu's hand, trapping it in between him and the wall.

He took Kouyuu's other hand and promptly entwined his fingers with Kouyuu's clammy ones.

"Shuuei, what the hell-?" his friend hissed angrily.

"Shhh…" Shuuei's smoky dark eyes were unusually stormy, and the way they lingered for longer than necessary on the general area of his lips sent a shiver down Kouyuu's spine.

Shuuei sensed it. "Don't be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you."

"Hurt me-" Kouyuu's eyes flashed. "What's gotten into you today? Not only did I have to deal with your twisted brother, now you too? You Ran brothers are the strangest bunch I've ever-"

"Kouyuu don't you think it's time you stop belying your own heart? I know."

"What are you babbling about? Know what???" Kouyuu screeched as he tried pushing Shuuei away. "And stop touching me! Let go of me, you crazy pervert!"

Shuuei tsk-tsked. He pressed his torso hard against Kouyuu's belly, feeling the hard muscles underneath contract involuntarily at the sheer intimacy of the contact. Kouyuu's mouth closed abruptly; he looked stunned. "Such angry words, Kouyuu…"

"Yet still as beautiful," Shuuei said wistfully, running a light finger down the stiff line of his companion's jaw.

Paralysed now, Kouyuu could only hold his breath as the finger was soon replaced by the gentle butterfly touch of Shuuei's lips; Shuuei's hot breath against the sensitive skin of his neck sent a painful cramp shooting through his stomach, and he grunted.

Shuuei smiled. "You alright?" He asked softly.

"Shuuei…" Kouyuu's lips worked to form the name but no voice emanated from his throat.

And Shuuei kissed him.

Kouyuu's heart stopped.

Shuuei's lips were soft, dry, yet undiluted honey still-

Kouyuu's eyes slowly, so very slowly, fluttered closed.

The tips of Shuuei's fingers lightly lingered on Kouyuu's temples, before digging deeper, bolder, unconsciously kneading the sensitive area behind his companion's ears with his thumbs in time with each delicate probe of his tongue; Kouyuu was still guarding, but Shuuei could sense his overwhelming desire to give in-

"Kouyuu…"

He could feel the resistance falling little by little; Shuuei deepened his kiss, releasing his grip around Kouyuu's wrist only to travel lower until his hand was resting on the flat plane of Kouyuu's stomach, caressing it gently, telling his body to relax-

And all resistance fell away; Shuuei's lips traveled alongside the arc of Kouyuu's cheekbone, and finally closed around the lobe of Kouyuu's sensitive ear.

"Kouyuu…" Shuuei's breath whistled against the side of Kouyuu's temple, his whisper hot and raw with emotions. "I like you too…"

He tried to kiss Kouyuu again, but a hand shot up to put a rein on his searching lips. Aware of the sudden rigidity of Kouyuu's form, Shuuei drew back to take a look.

Kouyuu was wearing the most peculiar expression on his face; a cross between uncertainty and suspiciousness. "What did you say?"

Shuuei stared longingly at Kouyuu's red, swollen lips- "What?"

"Just now. Repeat what you said to me?"

"I said…" Shuuei leaned in closer. "I said I like you too…"

Again up came the hand and Shuuei found himself kissing Kouyuu's palm for the second time. Frustrated, he looked at Kouyuu expectantly for some sort of explanation-

"Too?" Kouyuu echoed. "Too??!!!"

Shuuei blinked. "Ryuuren told me."

"Told you what?" Kouyuu asked tensely.

"That you…liked me?"

Kouyuu's face, flushed and hot merely a minute ago, now drained of all colour. "W-Wha-Who--" He sputtered. "Huh??!!!"

"Uhmm…he spent the night at your house the night before last?" Shuuei suggested helpfully. Why was Kouyuu acting as if he could not remember?

"Ryuuren-? Me-? Liked you?" Kouyuu shook his head vehemently in sheer panic, confusion, and disbelief. "I never-!"

"Hey," Shuuei said loudly. "Hey, it's all alright-I like you too! I've always liked you." He added with a soft, almost bashful smile.

Kouyuu went all rigid again as if spooked, still not following. "This is not happening."

"Kouyuu?"

"That was not a kiss."

"What?"

"I'm pretending it never happened." Kouyuu wriggled out of Shuuei's tight embrace and smoothed a hand down his tunic, clearly embarrassed.

Now it was Shuuei's turn to be confused. "Why?"

"It's too complicated. We have no idea who confessed to who first."

A strange thing to say. They both knew Kouyuu did. Didn't he? "Does it matter?"

"Of course it does." Kouyuu was blushing to the roots of his hair. "You kissed me only because you thought I liked you. Where the hell did you get that ridiculous idea anyway?"

"B-but Ryuuren told me you confessed! He told me he heard you say you liked me!"

"I never confessed anything! And why on earth would I be talking about such things with your insufferable brother in the first place huh???"

"Uh…he said you were talking in your sleep-that you were calling out my name-- and-and-saying other…umm…things…"

Kouyuu could kill Shuuei right at that moment. "I told you I did not get a wink of sleep that night, did I not?"

"Uh…"

"Didn't I???"

"Uh…come to think of it, you kind of did…" A sheepish, guilty half-smile. Yes, he remembered now. Something about pulling weeds in the wee hours of the morning.

"SO?"

"I don't get it! What's the problem?" Shuuei was almost wailing now.

"Are you telling me if Ryuuren had not deliberately tricked you, you would not have said anything? Ever?"

"I didn't know the feeling was mutual!" Shuuei tried vainly to defend himself.

"It's not!!!"

"B-but you let me kiss you!"

"I didn't let you, you pervert! You kissed me under false presumptions!" Shuuei would not be surprised if Kouyuu were to start stomping his feet any second. "My first kiss, and you stole it because you were stupid enough to be tricked by your moron of a brother! And for heaven's sake, I do not talk in my sleep!"

"Kouyuu," Shuuei growled, a hint of impatience tinging his tone. "Stop being so-so-idiosyncratic!"

"Idio-" Kouyuu was so angry he was at a loss for words. He grabbed Shuuei by the lapel. "Me? Me?!!!"

"Wait-did you say your first kiss?"

"Ran Shuuei, you are so dead!"


...aaaand as Ran Ryuuren walked down the streets of Kiyou, he walked happily, he smiled pleasantly, and he hummed happy songs.

Why? Because he now had a new entry in his book of lifetime achievements: To ruin his brother(s)'s relationships even before they started.

THE END

Glossary:
Kokoro no tomo Soulmate

AN: That was fun-ish. . Dunno if it's turned out as well as I'd planned it in my head but it's half four in the morning now so good night and thank you for reading! chu Shuuei/Kouyuu foreva!

p/s: I have no idea how to fix them up so...imma leave it at that. C&C is always nice, thanks.