;D I'm back! It's been rather busy for me recently - I've got exams at the end of June, eeks. x-x And to those who've been following the couple of Mr. Left fics, yes, I'm planning for another sequel. I just don't know what do put in it yet. T-T
Getbackers does not belong to me, and I don't think I want to own it, either.

Ohana
By Aquarius Galuxy

"Speaking of which, you're going to be my future doctor, right? I'm pleased to meet you, Juubei-kun."

-O-

It was probably due to the sheer combination of fatigue and draining battles they'd had recently, Juubei told himself as he watched Kazuki walk unsteadily down a deserted alley in the Lower Town. Shadows were cast along the brick walls that framed the pathway; all they could hear were the scampering of hidden mice and the echoes of their footsteps.

Then again, they had missed out on sleep last night as well, fending against more undead people who had descended upon them from the Beltline. With the Fuuchouin in this state, he had offered support, but Kazuki was being stubborn this time. It wasn't that he himself was unscathed, however. Perhaps he was better built to withstand such strain.

He followed closely behind the Thread Master, ever conscious of each small step his friend took. It was a wonder how Kazuki managed to move around in that pale damask dress of his, which fell almost to his ankles. He cast his gaze down the rest of the alleyway. Vaguely, he remembered that Toshiki would be catching up with them, but that didn't matter for now.

A sudden movement caught his attention – Kazuki had lurched forward, his foot catching on the uneven cement floor. Time, for Juubei, stopped in that moment – he could feel trepidation spear his mind. "Kazuki!"

In a heartbeat, he had shifted to the Fuuchouin's side, holding the younger man's arm in a firm grip, before slinging that same arm across his own shoulder. He slipped another arm around the Thread Master's waist for support.

"I'm fine, Juubei." Did his charge really think so lowly of how much he knew?

The needle-wielder lowered his friend gently onto the ground, kneeling before him. Kazuki breathed a sigh and leaned against the brick wall behind. He let his eyes slide shut.

"No, you're not."

Juubei took the Fuuchouin's wrist and felt for his pulse, eyes trailing over the limp, shoulder-length tresses. Sweat and dirt had stained the cloth keeping the two locks of hair in place by his cheeks. At least – and Juubei was thankful for this – no trace of blood was visible on his body.

The faint throbbing beneath his fingers told him what he already knew, as well as how close to falling unconscious his friend was. Worry piled onto his being; without giving a second thought, he placed his hands on the Thread Master's shoulders, lightly squeezing the slight frame. Weary hazel eyes opened and stared blankly at him. "Try to stay awake, Kazuki, I'll get you to a safer place."

Something in those eyes flickered, bringing life back to them. Kazuki directed a warm gaze at him and smiled wanly, struggling to sit straight up. "Thanks for always being there for me, Juubei."

"It is my duty to protect you." He did not know what compelled him to answer in that fashion – maybe the impression had been branded into his mind since so long ago that it only seemed natural to think about it first. Deep inside, though, Juubei knew that it wasn't the only reason why he felt such heightened concern for his charge, even until now.

A light breeze wandered down the alley, catching strands of their hair and toying with them. If he hadn't been watching the Fuuchouin so intently, he would have missed the slight fall in his expression, that took some life back out of his eyes. "So you're only doing this because it's your duty to?"

Kazuki sounded softer now, almost faraway. His lower lip pressed upwards, just the slightest bit; but to Juubei, that one change meant so much... He'd hurt his closest friend.

"N-no..." How could he put into words what he could only feel? Anxiety ate into his thoughts; the Kakei was filled with a sudden urge to let Kazuki know that, in his mind, their proximity had transcended reason.

Yet all that faded into the background when Kazuki lifted a hand to his cheek. The slender, calloused fingers were glazed with cold; his palm was just the slightest bit warmer. He took this time to study Kazuki again, their faces less than a foot apart. Something about this made the air around them thicken. His heart raced. Was Kazuki –

Juubei almost missed the way his friend leaned forward, until he seemed too close, until the outlines of his face became blurred, until he could feel the heat radiating off Kazuki's skin. His breath caught.

The Kakei wasn't quite sure which he felt first – Kazuki's fringe brushing his own, the warm breath caressing his skin, or the suddenly-intense gaze the other man cast at him. Then there was a soft, dry texture on his lips, that pressed lightly to him, that pulled at his lip with a light pressure. Right then, he could not have cared less if he were to wake up and find that it had all been a dream.

It was impossible, now, to describe that momentary rush of emotion through his heart. And beneath the overlying traces of sweat and grime, he could catch the sweet, floral scent that belonged only to Kazuki. His heart pounded. He could feel heat spreading all over...

Before he could attempt to respond, though, the Fuuchouin pulled away, hazel eyes dark with the same indescribable intensity. The floral scent lingered in the air. Why did that moment have to end? Yet, what would happen after this intimacy they had shared? Words were lost on his tongue.

"Tell me you don't love me that way, Juubei," the Thread Master murmured, keeping a light hold on his cheek. In such a moment, that mellow voice and soft gaze affected him like no other; he could not deny that his unwavering loyalty and concern for Kazuki stemmed from something bone-deep within him.

He could not deny having wondered how Kazuki's lips would feel against his own, either.

"I can't." Juubei looked solemnly at his friend, acutely conscious of what he had just admitted. He had no reason to fear rejection, though, because there was no question as to how Kazuki felt towards him. A sense of calm descended over his heart.

The Thread Master did not reply, nor did he need to. Instead, he smiled a pure, contented smile, turning to his side and patting the ground next to him, before looking back. Juubei hesitated for a while, then shifted to the spot beside his friend. It seemed that all Kazuki had intended was to be close to him, from the way he leaned in and nestled his head on Juubei's shoulder almost immediately. Their shared warmth was comforting.

Another cool breeze trailed down the dark alley. Blinking, the needle-wielder drew his arm up, over his friend's shoulder. A vague image flitted through his mind, one of a spiky-haired blond. The longer he dwelled on the last member of Fuuga, though, the more unsettled he became.

"What about Toshiki?" he finally ventured, watching Kazuki from the corner of his eye. The Kakei had little desire to wonder about how their teammate would be affected by their level of closeness, or if – if­ – Toshiki saw something in Kazuki as well.

"Do you honestly think he can come between this bond we share, Juubei?" The Fuuchouin looked up at him, resting a delicate hand on his chest.

Come to think of it, the man made sense. His lips pulling slightly upward, Juubei wrapped his arm tighter around Kazuki's shoulders, dipping his head to rest his nose against the soft brown hair.

Kazuki smelled of flowers.

-X-

There's an absence of Japanese terms in this fic, it seems. Ohana means "the flower" in Japanese, if I'm correct. Do you guys prefer Japanese terms in fics, or do you not?

;D So... How was the fic?