Disclaimer: I don't even own a human butler, let alone a demon one.

Author's Note: Challenge #1 for my livejournal's Drabble Writing Meme, as requested by Siberianchan-san. :D

Oh, and also—this plays with the manga!cannon idea that Bard is an American, as well as the Japanese's stereotypical interpretation of what it means to be an American. (IE: That we're kissing machines. Not that we're all huge jerks. Thought that is another stereotype. XD;;;)




Bard lived in a house run by a child protégée. His immediate superior was some sort of superhuman with ruby-red eyes. He was constantly blowing up a kitchen that, despite rubble and fires and the laws of nature, was somehow always immaculate the following morning. Not to mention his fellow co-workers were ex-assassins-slash-genetic experiments.

But that didn't bother him. On the contrary, those sorts of things all seemed perfectly normal. Stuff like that, Bard no longer even questioned. It was natural.

This, on the other hand, was so out-of-the-blue and all-around bizarre that it left him floundering for a response.

"What is it?" Finny asked, concern in his normally sing-song voice and apprehension in his large green eyes. "What's wrong?"

"Uh… well," Bard hesitated, chewing awkwardly on the end of his cigarette as he examined the single white rose. It was pretty, he supposed. In a…. flowery… sort of way. But he wasn't exactly sure what he should do with it. Particularly right now, with Finny staring so expectantly at him. For lack of anything better, he started twisting its stem between two fingers; the bud began twirling in rapid circles, as if some sort of demented, upside-down top. "It's just…"

"Just?" the blond prompted, tilting his head in demure confusion. Fisted hands lifted to his chin; a wobbling bottom lip promptly caught the cook's attention. "You don't like it?"

"N—no, that's not that!" Bard quickly amended, rapidly waving his hands. It took him a moment to realize that such exuberant gestures were doing the flower no good; he deceased with a cough, hoping Finny didn't notice how droopy the rose had become. Or the sudden snap in its neck. "I mean, it's nice of you to think of me, and all… I guess… but, er, in my country, you give flowers to girls."

"Eh?" Finny blinked twice, all innocence and flustered astonishment. "Really? I thought you gave flowers to the people you like!"

Bard was fairly certain he'd prefer the appearance of another demon dog to whatever the hell was going on right now. He at least knew how to handle a demon dog. As it was, this turn of events required some processing, on his part… That in mind, he allowed the heavy silence (well, at least heavy for him—Finny seemed as carefree and cheery as ever) to linger for a moment, the gardener's words slowly taking root in his brain.

"…you like me?" he then slowly paraphrased, more surprise than he would have liked coloring his quiet words. But no, he was reading far too into this; after all, this was Finny. That saying about ignorance and bliss (and quite possibly a number of blonde jokes) were practically invented for him. There was no way the boy could possibly mean—

These musings were interrupted by Finny's response. Which was, as usual, immediate and whole-heartedly happy. "Yeah!" he chirped, all grins and butterflies and invisible (yet, still somehow tangible) cartoon hearts. "I like you a lot!"

And maybe it was the way he giggled. Maybe it was the way he smiled. Maybe it was the genuine affection reflected in those wide, feminine eyes… or maybe Bard had just inhaled the fumes of one-too-many fire extinguishers. But whatever it was, something in the cook's head suddenly snapped away from reality; before he'd even fully come to terms with what he was doing, he'd reached out, snagged the smaller boy's shoulder, and placed the swiftest of lingering kisses upon that smooth, pale cheek.

For a full ten seconds, time stopped.

Then Bard wrenched himself hastily away, one hand rubbing at the back of his neck as the other clenched tightly at his side, the limp rose dangling from his fist. "That's how we say thanks in my country," he muttered, his stubble-covered face flushing pastel-pink as the gardener gawked at him, clearly startled.

After a minute, Finny, too, turned an endearing shade of rose. Then he beamed, gloved fingers lingering over the mark of Bard's gratitude.

"…I like your country's way of thanking people, too."