Author Notes: Oh dear again! I really thought that Chapter 1 was a one shot and that was it, but then again, I can't seem to keep to one shots! –moans– My apologies for saying this story is complete to those who alerted this fic because here now is the second chapter! And hopefully the last one too. No, I really mean it! –grins–

Oh, and if any of you are as enamoured of Kaien Cross and Touga Yagari as I am, please, please read AND review somewhere-there's From This Day Forward, an absolutely wonderful CrossxYagari story... but only after you read and review mine please, coz otherwise, I fear it will be completely overshadowed by hers! :D

Summary: How the 'long standing tradition' that was mentioned in Chapter Ten of my CrossxYagari story Brief Reflections actually started.

-- Chapter Start --

Touga Yagari was a bundle of nerves – again. Here he was on the day of his good friend and lover's birthday, and he hadn't gotten him a present. It wasn't that the one eyed master hunter had forgotten about it – on the contrary, he'd been thinking about nothing else for the past one week. It wasn't that he didn't have any money to purchase a gift either, he did... if he could only think of what to buy.

And that was it – Yagari couldn't. He didn't know what to get Kaien Cross. To give him something tangible, like an article of clothing - a new scarf, or a pair of gloves seemed so... trite. That was something you gave to your father, or a distant relative or a casual friend; not to someone who made your life worth living again, who didn't care a hoot that you had lost an eye and would forever have to wear an eye patch out in public. Even if they were beautiful, custom made and fitting blue silk ones... and most importantly, who looked at you, kissed you and loved you like you were someone worthy.

Yagari still didn't know if he was worthy or not but that was the thing about Cross. He made the act of loving whoever he wanted to seem right, even if no one else thought so. He'd taken into generous, loving heart an orphaned little girl, an orphaned young male pureblood and an orphaned young human boy turned vampire - Yagari's own ex-pupil, in fact. Mild mannered Cross may be but no one was able to persuade him from letting two of those three mismatched children into his house and all three of them into his heart.

And now, the ex-hunter had even made room for one more. His best male friend who looked like a modern day pirate with his long, wavy black hair, eye patch, perpetual cigarette, high boots and cowboy hat. OK, Yagari knew he was more tough on the outside than he was on the inside but most people didn't know him on the inside the way Kaien did. Like how that tough facade hid a heart that had been hurt painfully before. A scarred and hurting heart that had craved love, acceptance and tender care as much as the next person, even if its owner didn't quite know how to show it like Cross did.

So what could Yagari give his lover for his first birthday since they'd gotten together? A soft toy perhaps? One of those gigantic bunny or rabbit shaped soft toys that were unbelievably soft and fluffy to the touch, complete with scarily huge eyes and a cute, pouting expression? The dark haired hunter had a feeling Cross might actually appreciate something like that - if Yagari could bring himself to actually carry one to his home, even gift wrapped. It would make him look like such a sissy. Him - Yagari - not Cross. Despite his quiet and even eccentric demeanour the older man portrayed while out in public, Yagari knew it was only a façade. The Kaien Cross he knew was honest, strong, brave, clever, fiercely loyal, generous and loving to a fault. The way he looked at you - God, Yagari could get lost – and often did lose himself – in the clear, open, honest, brown eyed gaze of Kaien Cross. Particularly if he was about to kiss you or let himself be kissed by you. And his hands - Yagari could get hard just thinking about those hands. And he hadn't even come to the part where he would lie on his back and let Cross kneel in between his parted legs...

The tall, one eyed hunter mumbled a curse and shifted a bit in his chair, swearing that he was going to get a bigger size for his next pair of jeans. His eye stared unseeingly at the half written report in front of him and as far as he was concerned, the Hunter's Association office that was teeming with hunters might as well be empty for all the attention he paid to the hustle and bustle around him.

But after a minute or two, Yagari's eyebrows narrowed thoughtfully. Actually, there was something he could give to Cross on his birthday. But it was something so personal and so intimate, he shied away from the very thought. It was something Cross had wanted to give him as far back as two months ago but Yagari had said no, he wasn't ready for it. To be honest, he wasn't sure if he would ever be ready for it. But now... Yagari focused on the desk calendar on his desk. Yes, perhaps he could do that. For him - for Kaien.

- o -

"Hey, Touga," Cross smiled as he opened his front door and feasted his eyes on the familiar but most welcome sight of his best friend and lover. Yagari was dressed in his usual gear but sans hat this time and he offered a crooked grin. "Happy Birthday, Kaien," he said quietly.

Cross' brown eyes darted a quick look at Yagari's empty hands. "Thanks! But what's this, no present for me?" he teased and was surprised to see his friend shift about a little consciously. "Ah, that will come later," Yagari mumbled, not quite meeting his friend's gaze. Then he changed the subject abruptly. "Come on, we don't want to be late otherwise they'll cancel my reservation..."

Reservation? Wow, where to? Cross' eyebrows rose higher but he closed his front door before following the other silently, wondering what his lover had in mind. Other than sex, that is - he was sure that was on the menu tonight, too.

Well, dinner turned out to be perfectly grilled steaks, mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes that they washed down with icy cold beer at a swanky Western styled restaurant. It was good... but it was what occurred back at Yagari's apartment later that lingered on in their memories.

- o -

Two hours and many passionate kisses and hugs later...

Yagari kissed a slow, moist trail from Cross' mouth down to his softly heaving chest, paying special attention to the white scar lines that decorated the ex-hunter's right shoulder. Beneath Yagari's warm lips, the pale skin was damp with perspiration and he lapped it up, loving the familiar, slightly salty scent. Slowly, tantalisingly, he made two leisurely detours to either side, taking a sensitive and eagerly hardened nipple into his mouth in turn and adoring the nub with both tongue and teeth. This he went about with a very gentle and light touch. Yagari had found out that his lover was most receptive with feather light touches and true enough, Cross was panting on the rumpled sheets beneath him, his head arching back on the pillows as he mumbled semi incoherently. "Touga... uh, you know I can't stand that-"

Yagari smiled against a swollen and puckered nipple, flushed rosy pink. Yes, he knew... but more was yet to come. He finally released the aching, sensitised flesh from his mouth and moved to the other as he stroked his lover's quivering thighs with calloused hands and fingertips, his elbows braced on the sheets on either side of Cross' naked hips. The dark haired hunter loved how the ex-hunter's skin felt almost femininely soft and smooth against his roughened hands.

Cross' breathing became even more erratic as his other nipple was delightfully teased, his clear brown eyes glazed now with passion. He was grasping his lover's tautly muscled shoulders with both hands but his fingers loosened their hold on the perspiration slicked skin as Yagari moved steadily downwards. But that was OK, because he knew his lover would stop once he'd reached his navel. Yagari never ventured any further than that. Cross would though, or would have if his lover had permitted it.

In the six months since they had become lovers, both men had gotten bolder, more experienced and less awkward with loving each other. It no longer felt odd to make love to a male who had pretty much the same design you had. In fact, it was better because they could each take turns to claim and to receive, and they did. So both Cross and Yagari knew what felt good, what didn't and how prepping each other was a necessary part of foreplay both impart pleasure as well as reduce the pain of penetration. Unsurprisingly, Cross was the better of the two at prepping. His fingers were more gentle, skillful and he had no qualms whatsoever about going deep and even making his lover come before claiming him, although that eventually happened as well. It wasn't that Yagari was unskilled or even rough with Cross in turn. He too, was gentle and caring, and he thoroughly enjoyed seeing his lover squirm and moan with pleasure at his doing. But he preferred to use his fingers for foreplay only and leave the orgasms to after he had claimed Cross, or been claimed by him.

The ex-hunter understood that, just like how he understood their differences of opinions with matters outside the bedroom. And even in the bedroom, he understood and respected the boundaries each of them had. He didn't mind that Yagari was more conservative when it came to other means of delivering pleasure even if sometimes, he wished his lover would let him do what he wished.

Cross' breath hitched in his throat and he groaned breathlessly as familiar, strong fingers closed around his stiff erection and began to pump him slowly but thoroughly. But fingers weren't the only thing teasing him now. With a start, Cross realised that Yagari's lips hadn't stopped at his navel as he usually did but had progressed well below, to more... well, more sensitive places. Cross' head lifted off the pillow immediately and he looked down at his friend who was now crouched between his legs, long and tangled curls obstructing his face. "Touga? What – uh, what are you do– aah!"

Cross broke off on a cry of surprise as warm lips settled at the base of his length and slowly slid upwards in a series of soft and tentative kisses along the underside of his erection. The ex-hunter gasped in disbelief, his quivering body jerking with each tender, moist kiss.

Unbelievable. Yagari was actually doing this? But why? And he'd not let Cross do it to him all this while!

Relief blossomed in Yagari's heart as he pressed his lips insistently against his lover's hard flesh and heard him groan and jerk in response. It was all right after all because it didn't feel as repulsive as Yagari thought it might have. Cross' scent was surrounding him, it was something he enjoyed and Cross' skin here was as smooth against his lips as it had always felt against his fingers and palms, or even buried deep within him. Slowly, Yagari kissed and licked his way up that throbbing shaft until he stopped just shy of reaching the rosily hued head.

Cross' laboured breathing hitched again when Yagari finally looked up, heated determination blazing from his one blue eye as he held his lover's amazed gaze steadily. The dark haired hunter brought his face up a little, chiselled and moist lips hovering about an inch above the engorged, weeping tip of Cross' arousal. The ex-hunter swallowed hard. He was dreaming, he was sure of it despite how hard he was now and despite how good it felt. No way in hell was Yagari going to actually take him in his–

Yagari gave a sudden smile upon seeing the sheer disbelief in his lover's eyes, a smile filled with seduction mixed with pure devilry. Cross actually stopped breathing and just waited, his throbbing flesh standing erect, fully exposed and completely at his lover's mercy.

Then the dark head dipped.

Despite half expecting it, Cross gave another startled cry, hips jerking up helplessly as warm lips and a warmer tongue pressed a passionate kiss directly onto the rosy tip. The ex-hunter had barely dragged a much needed breath into his lungs when Yagari suddenly took him in deep, making Cross expend his hard won breath in a muffled scream barely a half second later. "Oh God, Touga!"

Now that he'd started, Yagari found it actually quite enjoyable. His looked up again, taking in Cross' reaction , drinking in every breathy moan and mumbled curse as he released his lover's length from his mouth before going down to claim him again and again. He teased the engorged tip with his tongue, knowing full well how sensitive it was and smiled inwardly at yet another muffled scream and a plea to please stop now.

Yagari finally released Cross from his mouth, giving the trembling ex-hunter a momentary respite. He ran his calloused fingertips lightly up and down the moist, straining length, watching avidly as Cross closed his eyes, his hips shifting about on the sheets and his mouth moving soundlessly as he struggled against pleading for Yagari to do that again – it felt incredible but even at this moment, Cross didn't want to ask.

Yagari shifted up a little, balancing his weight on his elbows as he offered his friend a serious look, ignoring his own arousal throbbing wildly in his jeans. "Do you want more of this, Kaien?" he asked softly with pretended innocence. Cross thought of denying it, then realised he was already nodding eagerly. "Yes, yes, but – but only if you don't min- unh!"

Yagari hadn't waited for him to finish, he'd shifted down again and was now teasing him mercilessly with his mouth, dark head bobbing up and down insistently as he pushed Cross closer and closer to a finish the ex-hunter suddenly feared. "No – wait! Touga, wait, damnit! I – I can't –" With difficulty, Cross pushed himself up onto one elbow, his other hand reaching out to grasp a fistful of tousled black curls. "Crap, I'm going to – hey, are you even listening to me?!"

Yagari wasn't because he was suddenly afraid he'd stop if he did. He knew what was going to happen, he knew by now how close to orgasm his lover was. But he didn't want to do things halfway. And more than his own, slightly squeamish feelings, he suddenly wanted to see Cross like this – helplessly undone, ecstatic with pleasure that was solely his doing. Silently, he shook off Cross' weak grasp and looked up. There was a moment when they just stared at each other, the hunter determined to continue, the ex-hunter teetering on the verge of a strong and unstoppable orgasm, mouth open in shock at the sudden realisation of his lover's actual intent.

Then the dark head dipped again. Warm lips closed resolutely around him before strong, white teeth lightly grazed over the pulsing, rosy tip. That was all it took – Cross exploded magnificently, screaming as he came. His pleasure shot out in warm spurts, staining his lover's face again and again. It actually stunned Yagari for a couple of seconds before he remembered to take his lover in his mouth again, sucking on that pulsing length intently to squeeze every bit of pleasure from him. The dark haired hunter was no stranger to the scent of the expelled essence but it did feel strange to actually have some of it in his mouth – that was a definite first. The fact that it wasn't even his own felt even... stranger.

Luckily, the deep satisfaction of seeing Cross' wonderful reaction helped to balance the disgust factor and Yagari was able to smile genuinely as he finally released Cross' spent erection and wiped his hand across his mouth and cheek. Then he moved up the bed to lie beside his still panting lover, where he grabbed at a couple off tissues from the box on the nightstand to wipe off the warm residue on his face and fingers.

After a couple of minutes, Cross finally opened his eyes. His breathing was almost back to normal and he enjoyed the feel of gentle fingers combing through his long hair. "Touga?" he murmured.

"Yeah?"

"Come closer..."

Yagari shifted closer, his head propped on one hand as he continued to caress his lover's hair with his other. Then he lost his balance as Cross reached up and suddenly pulled him down for a deeply passionate kiss. "I love you, Touga, but - why the hell did you do that?!"

Cross was still feeling a little weak from his stunning orgasm and he could taste himself clearly on his lover's mouth – the knowledge stirred him deeply. Yagari smiled, Cross's voice sounded sexy as hell when it was all slurred like this, especially when he threw in an unexpected curse. Then his smile disappeared. "I don't know," he admitted. "I guess... because it was something you want-" He broke off when Cross glared at him.

"It was what I wanted to do to you, and not what I wanted to have done to me," he corrected almost sternly. "Not that I mind at all what you did just now – it was amazing – but... but–" It was the ex-hunter's turn to break off now and he frowned. "Touga, did you feel that you had to do this?" he asked suddenly. "Because if you did –" A quick kiss stopped the rest of his words then Yagari drew back to shake his head solemnly at his lover. "No, Kaien, you didn't force me. I – I wanted to do this. For you," he admitted huskily.

The flood of dreaded tears came almost at once and Yagari tried his best to ignore them as well as the very audible sniff his lover gave. "Thank you," breathed Cross, linking his arms around his friend's neck for another hug and passionate kiss. It lasted even longer and when they finally broke apart and Yagari had sat back up, the ex-hunter sighed. "And I want to do the same thing back to you, you know," he murmured huskily. "As soon as I can actually sit up, that is..."

To Cross' surprise, Yagari shook his head again. "Nope. This is my birthday gift to you, Kaien. If you want to do the same thing, you'll have to wait for my birthday." And I'll definitely be looking forward to it...

Cross pouted. "But that's months away!" he protested. Then he stilled suddenly before a look of wonder filled his eyes. It made Yagari look at him uncertainly. "What?" he asked somewhat suspiciously. Cross smiled at him a little shakily. "It's... like a tradition, then?" he asked, his voice a little tentative and his eyes tearful again.

A tradition all our own...

Yagari smiled deprecatingly even though his heart was leaping. "Yeah, I guess," he shrugged casually. Cross nodded and smiled as well, his hands reaching up to glide smoothly over his lover's bare chest before slowly moving downwards. Yagari's breath hissed out through his teeth as gentle hands brushed over the still throbbing arousal through the material of his jeans. Cross looked down at the telling bulge, then up at him. The look in his eyes made Yagari's heart skip a beat and made him harder still.

"So... how do you plan to rectify this, then?" Cross asked softly, a teasing glint in his brown eyes. For answer, Yagari lowered himself onto the ex-hunter and swung them over, reversing their positions so that Cross was now lying sprawled on top of him. "I'd say it's your turn to do some work for a change, Kaien," Yagari rasped out, but his gaze was surprisingly tender as he looked up at his best friend and lover. Cross smiled even as he blinked away more tears. Yagari loved to act tough on the outside but how many people saw through that façade to the giving and trusting soul he was on the inside? No one but him, he was sure, and that only made Cross love him all the more.

"What? On my birthday?" he asked with mock dismay before he sat up, shaking his long hair back over his shoulders. Yagari nodded solemnly even as his blue eye gleamed. "Yup," he said as he reached over and pulled open the drawer on his nightstand before groping around for the half used tube he knew was inside. He handed it to his lover with a smile of anticipation, then undid his jeans and pulled them off.

Cross smiled back as he uncapped the tube and squeezed out some of its contents onto his fingertips before bending forward and offering his lover a gentle kiss. Yagari returned it thoroughly then lay back on the pillows, bending his knees and parting them even more. His eye closed and his mouth parted on a sigh as gentle fingers and cool gel found him.

Cross let his long, straight hair caress Yagari's bare skin as he alternated kisses and licks over the firm, muscular planes of his lover's chest. The ex-hunter supported his weight with one hand on the mattress while his other gently caressed and stretched Yagari, the hunter's pleasured reactions and the way his breathing hitched in his throat making Cross harden again with renewed desire. Still, he took his time, slowly adding one finger at a time and going deep enough to make Yagari curse softly with pleasure. His blue eye snapped open, smoky with desire as it focused on Cross and one hand moved up to grip the other's wrist, halting his persuasive actions. "Now, Kaien!" he rasped. "Or I'm going to come before you even take me!"

Cross grinned affectionately as he slid his fingers out obediently. "Well, we can't have that, can we?" he chided teasingly, both hands sliding to Yagari's inner thighs to stroke them and coax them even further apart. Then he moved closer still before he leaned forward and braced both elbows on either side of Yagari's head. "I love you, Touga," he murmured as he dropped another gentle kiss on his friend's lips.

"I know," replied Yagari and he groaned as Cross rocked forward, claiming him an inch at a time as he slowly and purposefully thrust his hips back and forth. He liked doing this gently but it often drove the dark haired hunter out of his mind. Yagari wrapped his long legs around his lover's waist, gritted his teeth and pulled resolutely. Cross found himself sliding forward in a smooth motion, slowly filling Yagari satisfyingly and achingly deep. The hunter relished both the pleasure and the pain of the joining as he felt his lover stretch him to his limits.

Cross cried out softly as he found himself enveloped in tight, moist heat and he had to swiftly brace his weight with both hands to avoid falling onto Yagari. It wasn't the first time the hunter had done this but it never ceased to catch Cross off guard either. "Hey, don't be in such a rush, Touga!" he gasped. "Take it easy, will ya?"

But Yagari only grinned up at him. The pain was decreasing now and definitely bearable since Cross had prepped him properly and was staying very still now, instinctively giving his lover time to adjust to his possession. Yagari's large hands slid up either side of Cross' smooth hips, over his ribs before clamping onto Cross' upper arms. "Not gonna. Take me deep, Kaien."

Cross smiled ruefully, his clear brown eyes filled with affectionate amusement at his lover's impatience. "I will," the ex-hunter promised. He supported more of his weight on his hands then started rocking his hips again, taking Yagari to the hilt with each purposeful thrust, slowly gaining momentum as his lover's hands on his arms tightened their grip, his hoarse voice urging him on, lean hips pushing up to meet his thrust each time.

They moved together on the bed, their movements more synchronised and not quite as awkward as when they had first started. Flushed skin slid against flushed skin, heated gaze met heated gaze as hips thrust hard and buttocks flexed. Yagari's strong legs were clamped tightly around Cross, his breathing coming out in shortened gasps as he pushed back hard against his lover, urging him to take him deeper and harder each time. The hunter was relishing that sweet ache of his tightly stretched body that was almost, almost assuaged by the jolt of raw pleasure that burst deep inside him with each movement.

It was perhaps a little strange, that Yagari should enjoy his lover's possession so much but this was Cross, someone he knew and trusted more than anyone else, more than even his ex-wife. This was someone who had seen past the hard but brittle mask he wore to the person he really was on the inside. Cross made Yagari believe that what they had was something beautiful, that he, too, was beautiful and worthy of being cared for like this.

There was no shame in Yagari's voice as he cried out in passion roughened tones to the one he was now deeply joined with. Cross obliged, determined to give his lover everything he had now. It was perhaps a good thing he had come once earlier because it was extremely arousing to him to hear Yagari's voice urging him on, not to mention the hug of that tight, tight body that was playing havoc with his faltering control.

Raw, sexual tension coiled tight in both their bodies and more blood rushed to pool warm and full in their groins. The pleasure was almost too much to handle and Cross' hands slid around Yagari's back, holding him tightly so that chest pressed against chest and thundering heart raced against thundering heart. The ex-hunter's gasping breath was shuddering out past the hunter's ear as he fought to stay in control, to not lose it just yet...

Yagari groaned as the increased body contact caused his throbbing arousal to be trapped between his as well as Cross' abdomens. The salty moisture on their skin was causing unbearable, incredible friction with each of their movements. Yagari had been achingly hard for some time now and coupled with the ex-hunter's deeply possessive thrusts and the deliciously sensitive spot within him that gladly suffered the brunt of each of those thrusts, the hunter gave in to the mind blowing ecstasy as the tension in his body exploded. Yagari's body jerked hard with deep shudders of raw pleasure as he pumped out his warm passion between their bodies, crying out sharply with each jerk, his arms looped tightly around his lover's neck.

Cross's movements speeded up as he both felt and heard Yagari's orgasm. His heart warmly fulfilled at having achieved his lover's satisfaction, the ex-hunter raised his hips a little now and drove repeatedly into the other's body, driving himself to his own release. With Yagari's husky cries in his ears, it didn't take long before Cross reached another intense climax, coming deep inside his lover with soft, shuddering cries. He finally collapsed onto the dark haired hunter and was immediately held close to him, his wildly pounding heart and trembling body soothed by calloused hands that caressed his glowing skin with a butterfly's touch.

Minutes passed... perspiration helped to cool their bodies as pounding hearts slowed down together. "I love you, Touga," Cross murmured again, tiredly this time as he dropped soft kisses on the damp and flushed skin of the strong shoulder his head was pillowed on.

A tender, wondering smile curved Yagari's lips and a sweet ache filled his heart. "I'm glad you do," he replied softly. Cross raised his head and kissed him thoroughly but when he pulled away, he saw the hesitancy in Yagari's blue eye. Cross simply smiled at him before lowering his head to tenderly kiss the scars running over his lover's missing right eye. "You don't have to say it back to me, you know," he murmured. "I already know you do," he added.

Yagari's lips parted as he blinked back an unexpected sting in his eye. He found Cross' understanding smile beautiful to see and its sincerity touched his heart deeply. "Thank you, Kaien," he choked out, pulling his lover down for another hug.

Thank you for accepting me... thank you for loving me.

-- Chapter End --