Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it's not mine. :D
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6 am and Iori couldn't sleep, so he rolled off the bed—or tried to, but he'd been sleeping on the floor. He ended up on his stomach and tangled in the blanket, groaning softly at the pain that shot through him due to a few broken ribs. He felt like one eye might have been swollen shut (although he couldn't tell, immediately; it might have just been his hair covering that eye again), his shirt was missing, and his entire body felt sore. He couldn't even find the energy to push himself off of the floor and find some pain pills, so he just rolled back onto his back to alleviate the pain in his ribs and closed his eyes. Or eye, or whatever.

"Ah, I'd expected you to sleep a few hours longer."

Even feeling like he did, Iori recognized that voice and immediately tried to force himself up and into a fighting position. It wasn't the worst he'd ever been beaten up, and he could do this. He could.

Except he wasn't as young as he'd been once, and Kusanagi was making no move to attack him. Still, he opened his eye to find Kusanagi and demand how he'd gotten into Iori's house.

Kyo was leaning against the door frame, one ankle crossed over the other and his arms folded over his chest. He looked... delicate, standing like that, and unscathed, so Iori figured that he hadn't been the one to tear him up so much.

"I wouldn't move if I were you," Kusanagi advised, pushing off of the door frame and coming inside. "You took a pretty bad beating."

Humiliating to think that Kyo knew what had happened to him, and he didn't. His eye followed his rival across the room, remaining focused on him as he knelt by Iori's head. Try as he might, Iori just couldn't remember what had happened. Vaguely, he thought there had been alcohol involved.

"You don't have anything to be ashamed of," Kyo said, responding to his internal monologue. "There were eight of them against you, and they had a chair. You probably could've beaten them, but you'd been drinking a lot." He was doing something with his hands that Iori couldn't see, but before he could ask, Kyo kept talking. "They were gone before I could get to you, or I could have helped. After you passed out, I thought that the least I could do was bring you home. I guess it's lucky for me that your keys were in your pocket."

"You just want to help everybody, don't you?" Iori croaked, and then hissed as Kyo touched an alcohol-saturated cotton ball to the cut on his chest.

"I guess it's a character flaw," Kyo replied softly. He looked a little crestfallen, and then apparently decided to keep chattering. "I couldn't get you onto the bed, I'm sorry... and I didn't want to call for help because I figured you wouldn't want anyone to see you like this."

For Kyo, it was surprisingly thoughtful.

"If you think you can, I'll help you onto the bed. It has to be more comfortable than the floor," Kyo said when he'd finished dabbing at the wounds. "And I'll bring you some water and pills."

Iori nodded, and struggled to sit up without having Kusanagi touch him. He couldn't shrug off the helping hands, though—how pathetic he'd become—and settled for collapsing on the bed as gently and as quickly as he could.

He wanted to curl up and sleep for at least four days, but all things considered he was probably still a little drunk. Kyo had disappeared, and came back presently with a bottle of water and two pain pills, which he handed to Iori before wrapping a supporting arm around his back and helping him sit up.

Iori wished Kyo would leave him alone and let him at least have what was left of his dignity, but he didn't say anything. It might start a fight, and if Iori started a fight then he'd be obligated to finish it.

"I'll be around, then," Kyo said, and started to walk out.

"There's a spare bedroom," Iori muttered, not even sure that Kyo heard him.

"Then I'll be in there," Kyo corrected.

"Kusanagi. Why me?"

"A character flaw, I told you," Kyo replied, and Iori was asleep before he could ask what Kyo meant by that.

11 am and Iori's hangover finally caught up with him, and he limped down the hall to the bathroom as fast as he could. He wrapped an arm around his broken ribs and stumbled to his knees before the toilet, and the pain made him throw up just as much as anything else.

He didn't care much about disturbing Kusanagi; he'd always been a quiet person when he was being sick. He'd had a lot of practice at it, after all—and besides, he imagined Kusanagi was one of those people who could sleep through a typhoon.

But a cool, wet washcloth was placed lightly over his neck, and it didn't put itself there. "I didn't mean to wake you up," Iori muttered, leaning his forehead on his free arm.

"You didn't," Kyo replied from the doorway. "I expected you up about an hour earlier, actually."

Iori thought that he was done heaving up his guts, so with effort he leaned back, flushing the toilet and slumping against the wall. Kyo was ready to hand him a towel to wipe his mouth on and another bottle of water—probably not the same from earlier, unless Kyo had gone into his room after he'd fallen asleep to get it back and put it in the fridge, because this water was still cold and soothed his throat and his ribs, too—or it felt that way.

Kyo handed him a second dose of aspirin and he took it, looking up at his unexpected companion. "Where'd you learn so much?"

"I've had experience," Kyo said vaguely. "Do you feel better now?"

Maybe not better, but at least he wasn't puking, so Iori nodded his head. Without waiting for help, he pulled himself off of the floor and stumbled back to bed.

Through the next two days, every time Iori woke up, Kyo had anticipated it and was already there to take care of him. Even arguing about it didn't seem to do any good, so Iori had given up, and was maybe even getting more used to his rival than he would have anticipated.

It wasn't like he was doing any physical labor that he needed Kusanagi's help with, anyway. He was only sleeping, and he didn't need help for that. If Kusanagi wanted to stick around and be an idiot about it, then Iori wasn't going to stop him.

"Why do you hate me so much?" Kyo asked out of the blue one day as he was retaping Iori's cracked ribs.

"Iori!" One lash, then another, and the whip was discarded and replaced with fists. A picture of a cute boy with brown hair was held in front of his face, smiling innocently back at him while he tried to keep from screaming. "Do you see this? Kusanagi is the reason you're such a bad boy!"

The blows rained down and the Kusanagi boy kept smiling. Iori whimpered, closing his eyes, not wanting to cry in front of this boy—as if the picture was a real person, who could help him but wouldn't. "Hate him, Iori! Hate him! If it wasn't for him you could be a normal little boy!"

What Iori wanted more than anything was to be a normal little boy, who had friends and slept in a real bed and not in the bathtub even though he'd misbehaved, or even though he was reading fairy tales instead of practicing.

"I was just taught that way," Iori answered vaguely, not wanting to discuss it.

"You've said before that it's more than just family rivalry," Kyo argued. "You said you hate the sight of me. But the thing is, Yagami, I've never done anything to you. I don't understand why you'd hate the sight of me when the first time I remember seeing you is in 1995."

"I wouldn't expect you to understand if I did explain," Iori snapped. He turned his head away and closed his eyes, and Kyo let the subject drop.

"Why are you still here?" Iori asked a few days later. "I can obviously take care of myself now."

Kyo thought about it for a while. "I thought you might need a friend," he said at last, carefully. "Besides... I don't mind, and you haven't kicked me out yet."

Iori couldn't argue with the last part, so he went for the first. "I don't think you and I count as 'friends', Kusanagi."

Kyo smiled like he'd been expecting that response. "But we know a lot about each other, likes, dislikes, and we always end up gravitating to each other... you probably know more about me than anybody else does, and I know I have a lot of useless information about you. And if all that's not good enough... well, we have some common enemies, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Iori honestly didn't have any people he considered friends, and he'd never thought about it like that, but he supposed since he didn't have any friends that he couldn't argue with the logic of someone who'd had a lot of experience on that subject.

"What do you dream about?" Kyo asked him over dinner several days later. Iori could walk without a limp now, and Kusanagi didn't do anything for him anymore, but for some reason he hadn't yet told the boy to get out, so Kyo had stayed.

A little boy, both arms broken in two places, pale-faced and biting his tongue to keep from screaming and making it worse. A nurse, lifting him onto a table to check for internal injuries and asking his father what had happened.

"He fell out of a tree," the elder replied, and the nurse looked suspicious but in the end only set the bones and sent Iori home.

The question came out of the blue, and Iori had a hard time finding an answer. "They're only dreams. Why do you ask?"

"Because you talk in your sleep," Kyo replied softly, and got up to clean the mess, leaving Iori feeling shocked and shattered at the table.

"You never answered my question," Iori reminded Kyo. "About why you helped me when you knew I hated you." He didn't even realize thathated was past tense, but Kyo noticed.

"You seemed hell-bent on destroying yourself, Iori-kun. I was the same way, once, but it got better for me and I wanted to make it better for you. Because I don't hate you."

Iori knew without Kyo mentioning it that this was his way of letting Iori in, telling him something personal in exchange for hearing what Iori shouted in his sleep. Iori didn't know how to say thank you without sounding like a sap, or how to tell Kyo that he appreciated it, so he didn't say it in so many words.

"I hate being called Iori-kun," he said, turning away with a scowl.

"I see," Kyo replied softly. "I'm sorry. Yagami, then."

"...Just Iori will suffice."

Kyo's bright smile was really the only thanks Iori needed as a response to that.

"I should probably go tomorrow," Kyo announced. "I don't need to stay anymore."

Suddenly the salmon in his mouth was dry and the hardest thing he'd ever had to swallow. "If that's what you want to do," was all Iori said when he'd gotten the bite down, and nothing else had been said.

Later, Iori was lying in bed—not sleeping, because he was too busy trying to remember how the house felt without Kusanagi down the hall—when a shadow covered the doorway. He turned his head and then sat up as Kyo hesitantly put one knee on the bed, then the other, crawling up to sit beside him.

Without speaking, Kyo leaned down and pressed his lips to Iori's, pulling back quickly and folding his hands in his lap. "If you want me to stay, then tell me," Kyo whispered. "And I'll stay."

Iori cupped Kyo's cheek with one hand, brushing his hair back from his face, then tilted his head forward to return the kiss.

For the first time in his life, Iori woke up with a small smile on his face the next morning. At first, he wondered what could have possibly changed—it had been the first time he hadn't dreamt about his childhood—but the warm body in his arms shifted and he didn't need to remember any more.