What can I say? I'm a sucker for brotherly fics, especially when there's a hint/pinch/HANDFUL-OF-DOOM of angst sprinkled on top. This one goes out to Uber Spoonz, my fellow angst-sadist (bwahaha) who introduced me to this addictive show that redefines so many things, "awesome" and "epic" only being two of those things.

Disclaimer: Hold on, let me check... Nope! Still don't own anything!

Simon hated earthquakes. No, hate wasn't the right way to put it. He was outright terrified of them. If it weren't for the earthquakes, then maybe, just maybe, he would still have two parents. He would still have a family there to hold him close and calm his nerves. He wouldn't always find himself curled up in the farthest corners of Jiiha village every time the earth shook. He wouldn't always have to be alone.

Then again, if it weren't for the earthquakes, that wouldn't have been how Kamina had found him on one such occasion. Even Simon had to admit, he was pretty pathetic, shaking worse than a newborn mole-pig, and it had been almost humiliating to think back on just what kind of state he had let himself be caught in.

"What are you hiding down here for, Simon? Real men don't cower in fear over some puny little tremors! See? It's already over. Nothing to be afraid of!" To emphasize, the taller boy waved his hands toward the room's entrance with a flourish. Simon peeked out over his knees. What did Kamina know, anyway? The rest of the village didn't call him "the liar's son" for nothing. He wasn't given much chance to think on it, though, before another tremor shook through the area.

Kamina's overly confident grin fell as his audience curled into a tighter, whimpering ball. "I'm not scared," the small boy started to chant, like a protective mantra they both knew wouldn't do anything. "I'm not scared. I'm not scared. I'M NOT SCARED!" The earth shook more violently around them, causing small flakes of stone ceiling to rain down, and Simon cut himself off with a short, wailing cry.

Kamina, meanwhile, was silent. Or maybe Simon simply couldn't hear over his own hyperventilating, or through his hands clasped painfully over his ears. Whatever Kamina was doing, Simon really didn't care. He didn't care that someone might be speaking. He didn't care that someone was standing nearby. He didn't care, as the earthquake reached a frighteningly familiar scale, when someone sat down beside him.

He did care, however, when a set of arms wrapped around his thin shoulders. The person was talking – he could feel the vibrations in the chest his forehead was pressed to – and even though he couldn't listen to what they were saying, his breathing gradually became less erratic as he focused on it. A steady, comforting hum. Not the loud, unpredictable roar he could never get used to.

He didn't open his eyes again until the world quieted and fell silent, but, even then, all that he could see was the white undershirt Kamina wore. "Why don't the earthquakes scare you?" he asked hoarsely another moment or so later, relaxing the hold over his ears. "If the roof collapses, we could all die. Why don't you run like everyone else?"

"Because I know that one day the roof will open, and I'll be able to go back to the surface." He didn't answer in his usual, boisterous way, and Simon had to look up at the young teen to make sure it was still the same person. Kamina just grinned at the opposite wall, as though everything he said made perfect sense. "My old man's up there right now, with no collapsing roof above him. He told me to join him again when I'm ready and grown up. So no matter how much the walls shake down here, I know that nothing will stop me from doing just that."

Simon hummed, relaxing more against the wall and Kamina's side. "Must be nice, having no roof. This place is all I've ever known, but… I don't like waiting for the day the ceiling will cave in and kill us all." He cringed inwardly as the memories haunted him. "I don't want everyone to die like my parents did."

They were silent for a moment, but finally Kamina's grin broadened. "Then I guess I'll just have to take you with me to the surface, Simon." Simon gave him a questioning look, but Kamina seemed confident in his own resolve. "Yep, that's exactly what I'll do. So don't you worry over earthquakes so much anymore, Simon. Your big brother is looking after you now. Just believe in me, and someday, we'll pierce the heavens and reach the surface world together."

Any normal person would have probably doubted such logic, or wondered why the village idiot was suddenly calling them his younger sibling. But to a small boy named Simon, there was nothing greater. "R-Really? You'll really take me with you?"

"Of course I will!" Kamina shifted to pull a pair of sharp red sunglasses from his belt string, keeping one arm protectively around his newfound little brother as he placed the shades upon his nose. "Just who the hell do you think I am?"