Author Notes: OK, here we are with the 2nd and final part of this story -relieved sigh- The next one to be updated is TOHOM - I promise! :D

By the way, please read my two Brief Reflections stories before this one if you haven't, OK? It'll make more sense that way. Hope you enjoy this chapter and don't forget to let me know!

-- Continued --

As Yagari had expected and desperately hoped, it was Cross at his front door.

The ex-hunter was silent, his features grim as he looked at his lover's face. Even without smelling the whisky fumes, he knew what had happened. In a way, Cross found it a bit amusing, really, how unsure Yagari seemed to be when it came to him - him, of all people to be unsure of! Yet at the same time, the ex-hunter was sad that his lover had apparently found it necessary to drown his sorrows for something as trivial as that scene earlier. Well, it wasn't really trivial since Cross was still hurting deeply at those impulsive words from Yagari earlier and obviously, the dark haired hunter had realised it as well.

"Kaiennn..." Yagari's deep voice slurred a little as he leaned forward, both hands leaning on the doorframe. His single eye looked bleary and a little unfocused. Cross couldn't help wrinkling his nose a little as he smelled the alcohol on his lover's warm breath but he tried not to let his disapproval show too clearly. He didn't come here to pick a fight but to patch things up.

"I... 'm sho glad yooou're heere..." Yagari's mumbled and Cross felt his shoulders sag as he exhaled on a resigned sigh. This wasn't the time to talk about anything. Without saying a word, he stepped forward and placed his hands on the other's shoulders, guiding him backwards so that he could come in and close the front door. Yagari didn't seem inclined to talk much and Cross half guided, half pushed his lover into the bedroom.

Without switching on the light, the ex-hunter pushed at the taller man's shoulders to get him to sit down on the messy bed before starting to strip his shirt off. Yagari sat there quietly, seemingly content to have someone care for him. Cross bent down and with a soft grunt, swung his lover's legs up onto the bed so that he could undo his jeans and tug them off those long, rangy limbs.


The resultant and complete nakedness made Cross pause for a bit and his body warmed with sudden awareness. So Yagari wasn't wearing any underwear at all... and Cross knew what that meant. His lover often did that when he was in the mood for some... uh, action, and despite the ache still squeezing his heart, Cross couldn't help the bittersweet smile that tugged at his lips. Yagari had apparently planned for and anticipated an intimate night for them both, only it had backfired instead.

Oh Touga... you're not the only who missed this - I do, too.

Yagari was now lying on his back, black curls fanning out on the pillows and his eye already closed. Cross decided right there and then that he was going to stay the night with him. Zero and Yuuki should be OK by themselves and he had a loaf of fresh bread waiting in the kitchen for their breakfast tomorrow morning. Besides, Kaname had already left earlier so Cross knew there would be nothing more serious than the usual sibling squabble between his two adopted children.

The ex-hunter bent down to scoop Yagari's discarded clothes up from the carpet but a hand suddenly clamping over his wrist stopped him. When Cross straightened up, Yagari was looking at him, his expression surprisingly alert... almost nervous.


"Yes, Touga?" Cross murmured, his voice softer than he had intended. At the sound of his name, the other man's fingers on his wrist loosened and slipped down to twine with his fingers instead.

"Shtay with me?" Yagari whispered. His voice was endearingly hopeful although still slurred and Cross sighed. Damn Touga, he thought irreverently. It wasn't fair how his lover could still get him to forgo his pride after insulting him earlier but then again, he had already decided he was going to stay, hadn't he?

"I will, Touga," he murmured back, squeezing Yagari's fingers. "I will..."

The hunter's blue eye registered relief and shy gratitude before it closed again and his hand fell back onto the bed. With another sigh, Cross decided that the clothes on the carpet could very well lie there until morning. He stripped off his own clothes - coat, scarf, shirt, trousers, socks and shoes - leaving only his boxers on before he climbed into bed. He had wanted to spoon Yagari from behind but the dark haired hunter quickly turned around and buried his face in Cross' shoulder instead, almost nuzzling into him.

"... shory..." Yagari mumbled. "'m shory..."

Cross felt his lips tilting in a rueful smile as he closed suspiciously moist eyes. He lifted a hand to comb gentle fingers through the tangled mass of black curls spread over his bare shoulder. It was something he loved to do and something that he knew relaxed Yagari even if the one eyed hunter would never admit to it.

"It's OK, Touga," Cross murmured. "Go to sleep. We'll talk in the morning."

Yagari shifted closer to him and in just a few moments, his breathing turned deep and regular. Cross dipped his head to press a kiss onto the black curls, his heart a softly aching mess of contradicting pain and hope.

- o -

When Yagari awoke the next morning, he wasn't at all surprised to find himself accompanied by the dull, incessant pounding of a hangover that made him groan softly. But even though he was sure he hadn't been alone last night, Cross wasn't beside him in bed, nor was he anywhere else in the bedroom.

In a sudden panic that the ex-hunter had already left, Yagari ignored his pounding headache and scrambled out of bed, almost tripping on the covers as he rushed to the door, uncaring of his unclothed state. Cross was sitting on the living room sofa and he looked up calmly as Yagari froze at the doorway of his bedroom, belatedly aware of his nudity, wildly tangled hair and unshaven chin. Not knowing what to say, the one eyed hunter glanced down at the coffee table that was now bare except for a newspaper lying open on its surface. The two beer cans he had left there last night were gone.

"You... uh, cleared the table," Yagari found himself mumbling and could have bitten out his tongue a second later.

Oh, brilliant observation there, man... crap!

Cross shrugged, looking remarkably calm. His hair was still damp from his recent shower and he had left it lying loosely around his shoulders and tucked behind his ears.

"Yes, I cleared up," he replied, his somewhat dry tone making Yagari uncomfortable. He was used to the fact that the ex-hunter was always bustling about his apartment, cleaning up as he went along and nagging for him to do the same but this time, it felt... awkward.

In the silence, Cross' brown eyes perused him frankly and even though they were no stranger to each other's bodies, Yagari still flushed.

"Why don't you go take a shower?" Cross finally suggested, still unsmiling. "I'll make coffee..."

Yagari nodded abruptly and disappeared back into his bedroom. He stepped into his bathroom and scowled heavily at his bleary eyed reflection in the mirror. Crap, he looked even worse than he felt! Quickly, he shampooed his hair and showered, not bothering with hot water. He had to apologise before Cross changed his mind and left after all. Yagari was still feeling awkward as he briskly toweled his hair dry and shaved, but he forced himself not to reach for an eye patch. Despite getting him the custom made pieces of beautifully fitting silk, Cross didn't like him wearing one when the two of them were alone together. Yagari got dressed quickly and exited his bedroom.

This time, Cross was sitting at the small dining table with two mugs of steaming hot black coffee. Yagari felt himself flushing anew as his gaze landed on the two place settings he had prepared for last night's dinner but Cross was silent as he gestured for him to sit down. Yagari slid into the other chair and nodded his thanks for the coffee. He raised his mug and sipped at the bitter, aromatic brew. The cold shower had chased away most of his headache and the coffee helped too.

Unfortunately, he still felt sick inside... sick with guilt and shame. He stole a surreptitious glance at Cross. To his surprise, the ex-hunter was also looking at a loss for words. The current situation had reminded both of them of a similar morning not too long ago... the morning after they had become lovers for the first time. Still, it was a different sort of awkwardness that lingered between them now and Yagari's head was horribly empty of what to say. Somehow, 'I'm sorry' just didn't cut it... not after what he had said last night. After a few minutes of silence, Cross gestured at the chinaware in front of him and Yagari glanced up from his intense study of his coffee mug.

"Why the elaborate dinner, Touga?"

Again, Yagari flushed and his gaze skittered away.

"Well, we hadn't seen each other for a while..."

I missed you, OK? I missed you...

Cross put down his coffee mug and sighed.

"Touga... look, I know I've been really busy lately and-"


Cross stopped, a little stunned at the sudden outburst. Yagari was frowning fiercely at him and the ex-hunter blinked in surprise. He opened his mouth again to speak and this time, Yagari gave an almost violent shake of his head.

"No, Kaien, no! You don't have anything to apologise for! I'm the one who behaved like a damn fool last night... I – I should be the one to apologise."

Yagari halted, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down in his throat as he swallowed nervously.

"What for, Touga?" Surprisingly, Cross looked calm and Yagari blinked.

"What for?" he repeated nervously.

"Yes, why? Why should you apologise for being honest with me?" Cross tried to erase every single trace of emotion from his voice and the resultant words sounded stilted. Yagari felt wretched - his lover's normally warm brown eyes had a carefully expressionless look now that made his heart drop right down onto the floor.

Dear God, I've really, really done it this time, haven't I?

"No, I – I didn't mean..." Yagari's voice trailed away as Cross continued to stare at him in that inscrutable way he had never really seen before. At least, not directed at him...

"No?" Still trying not to let the hurt through, Cross' voice sounded inadvertently cold now and Yagari flushed anew, for the first time knowing what the expression 'die of shame' actually felt like. The one eyed hunter managed to hold his lover's steady gaze but squirmed in his seat for a while before he swallowed again and moistened his dry lips. That made Cross' eyes flick to Yagari's mouth for a brief second, as if the ex-hunter's attention was unwittingly caught by his action and Yagari took heart in that. Nervously gripping his hands together under the table, he forced himself to speak.

"I... all right, you know me too well, Kaien," he said quietly. "I admit I never... really thought too much of co-existence and - and... and all that, but I never meant to hurt you. I - I just - just..."

I just didn't think. Period.

Yagari felt only an inch tall this time as Cross continued to look at him. Not censuringly... but steadily and calmly from eyes that could wring the deepest secrets from the most hardened of souls. Yagari found himself trying to swallow again even though this time, he didn't have enough saliva in his mouth to make the movement successful.

"You know that I never believed that those crea – uh, vampires and humans could actually..." Another pause and with it, another attempt at swallowing.

"... that they could... you know, live together and all that... "

At this point, Cross made a sudden movement with his hand, as though he couldn't stand being silent anymore. Not wanting to be interrupted, feeling like he finally, finally had words to say, Yagari quickly held up a hand to stop him.

"Wait, Kaien! Wait - let me finish first," he said, speaking more rapidly, more urgently now. "But last night, I saw those three kids at your place... sleeping-"

Yagari broke off to shake his head, a look of genuine wonder on his rugged, scarred face.

"Sleeping," he repeated, almost to himself. "I never thought-"

He broke off again and looked at his lover almost shyly, pleadingly. "I... I think I can see why you believe, Kaien," he murmured. It was the truth and Cross' eyes filled with tears. Yagari had to force himself to continue talking, just as he had to force himself to keep his hands by his sides.

"I swear, Kaien, I will never say those words again." But still, the ex-hunter remained silent and this time, Yagari had finally run out of words – he didn't know what else to say, and it hurt so much.


"Guess I... uh, guess I really messed up, huh..." he mumbled. Unable to bear his lover's gaze any longer, Yagari turned sideways in his chair and looked down. His fists had started trembling. His whole body was, in fact and he quickly clasped his hands together on his lap, hard enough for the grip to hurt and for the knuckles to show white.

Another minute of silence passed, one that only served to mock and to condemn him. To his horror, Yagari suddenly felt the humiliating sting of tears in his one eye. It was a weakness that had happened only once before, when Cross had kissed the scars over his right eye socket for the first time. But never since then... not until now, and Yagari desperately willed the mortifying moisture not to well up as he gripped his fingers even tighter.

A sudden movement in front of him made him look up. Cross wasn't in his chair anymore but on his knees now, kneeling on the floor in front of him and looking up into his face. Yagari blinked and returned his look hesitantly, drawing in a shaky breath as Cross reached up to cup his face between soft hands. They were familiar hands that cared, hands that protected, hands that were safe. The ex-hunter's beautiful, honest eyes were looking up at him and Yagari felt his heart bounce up into his chest again and stop beating for a breath stealing moment.

"Tell me, Touga," Cross said softly, the very tenderness in his words making Yagari's eye tear up even more. Silently, the one eyed hunter cursed himself silently for his weakness.

"Tell me what you think of me, and be honest. Even if you still think me a fool and an idiot, I – I need to know."

Yagari shook his head at once and finally unclasped his still trembling hands so that he could place them over his lover's, absently registering the fact that Cross' hands were always softer than his own - much like how their hearts were, actually.

"No, not a fool, Kaien, unless you mean the very best of one! And never, never an idiot - that's me. I – actually, Kaien, I think you're a hero," he murmured huskily, earnestly. "I swear, I really do."

Cross blinked at the completely unexpected words and drew back a little, his hands falling from his lover's face and a sceptical frown appearing on his own one.

"A hero?" he echoed. "Quite a change from being a stupid, naïve fool, wouldn't you say?" His tone was dry and Yagari couldn't help feeling that sharp pang of guilt again, eating at his heart.

"All right," he whispered. "I admit I had initially thought you were too naïve for your own good, but that was because I was prejudiced... biased. Kaien, you know things I don't. I – I only realised that when I saw those three kids asleep at your place."

Cross was still frowning a little. He wanted so much to believe his lover, to know that he wasn't a failure and a fool in Yagari's eyes - or eye, as it were - but this was Touga Yagari, a vampire hunter who truly hated vampires.

"And that made you a believer and me a hero?" Cross' voice was softer now even though doubt still lingered in his eyes. Yagari nodded slowly and then he shook his head.

"Well, not... not really about what you believe in... but at least now I know why you do. Why you believe."

Cross sat back on his haunches, stunned. His heart was hammering in his chest as he stared at Yagari. This was what he had wanted. This was as much as he could have hoped for but had he really, really gotten it after all? A prayer of thankfulness slowly uncurled in Yagari's heart and the churning nervousness in his stomach seemed to ease up a bit as he saw Cross start to look a little lost.

Oh God, please believe me, Kaien... please!

"But why does that make me a hero?"

Yagari winced a little. He really needed to learn to think before he blurted things out but there was no way to retract his words now. Slowly, he nodded. "You are that, to me," he whispered truthfully. "I would never have had the guts to do what you have, Kaien. To believe the things you believe... to do the things you do... to love the persons you love."

The soft brown eyes behind the spectacles shimmered with tears that suddenly spilled over and Yagari reached out to remove the glasses with hands that were still not completely steady. He placed them on the table before wiping away the moisture on Cross' cheeks with gentle thumbs.

"I only hope," Yagari whispered, his voice softer and trembling with emotion, "... that you still have a little room in your heart..." His voice wavered but he forced out the last two words. "... for me."

Even though I don't deserve it...

Cross looked astonished as though he had never expected to hear those words. Then a beautiful, radiant smile appeared on his lips and to Yagari, life was suddenly worth living again.

"Oh Touga, of course I have," Cross murmured back without hesitation and Yagari smiled, relieved beyond belief.

"Just a little room will do," he managed huskily. That only made more tears well up in Cross' eyes but he resolutely ignored the new moisture sliding down his cheeks.

"I will always, always have more than just a little room for you. In my life and in my heart."

Yagari exhaled shakily at that and Cross smiled at him warmly.

"Touga," he chided softly before he gave a soft, quivering sigh. The way he said the hunter's name, with an exquisite mixture of exasperation and affection that only he could utter made Yagari melt inside with wonder.

Just my name... and I'm lost.

"Touga..." Cross murmured again. "Did you honestly think that you mean less to me than any of the others I love?" he asked in his usual, straightforward way that made the seasoned hunter both melt and flush deeply at the same time. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

"No, I - just..." he mumbled then fell silent, feeling more unworthy than ever of this wonderful man's love.

"Because you don't, Touga," Cross continued softly. "You mean more to me than that... More than you could ever know."

Yagari couldn't keep it inside him any more. He uttered a choked cry that would have made him curl up and die if anyone else other than Cross had heard it. Leaning forward, the one eyed hunter threw both his arms around his lover and hugged him fiercely, uttering that same choked sound again when he felt the warm arms that surrounded him in turn. He closed his eye and bent his head to press trembling lips to the silky, light brown hair, thankful beyond words that he hadn't actually destroyed the best thing in his life.

Cross shook a little as he buried his face in his lover's broad shoulder and unknowingly breathed the same prayer of thankfulness. They clung to each other, both wanting and needing that closeness that they had missed. Without any hesitation, they let their lips drop soft whispers as urgent fingers slid into hair to pull each other's faces closer. Two pairs of lips then met in a sweetly passionate kiss that had the bitterness of black coffee and regret as well as the sweetness of confession and love. When the two men eventually parted after several breathless kisses, their emotions had escalated into a swelling, aching need that grew more urgent by the minute.

"Kaien... do you need to go back right now?" The almost shy invitation in that single blue eye was all too obvious and Cross smiled.

"Not right now," he assured.

"But the – the kids..."

"Kaname left last night and Zero and Yuuki will be fine by themselves for a while."

Despite hearing the young pureblood's name, Yagari smiled. It was a crooked, slightly deprecating smile that made Cross' heart start to beat a whole lot faster, sending even more blood rushing down to pool in his groin in a sudden, head spinning rush.

"Then make love to me, Kaien. Please?" Yagari asked in a husky whisper.

I... I need to feel you still love me...

- o -

Hand in hand, the two lovers walked into the bedroom. On Yagari's still rumpled bed at last, they undressed each other with growing haste, kissing and caressing each other with sweet familiarity even though there was an air of uncertainty to their lovemaking, as if it was almost... almost their first time. Perhaps it was because they had found out something new about each other, perhaps it was because they were still feeling somewhat vulnerable now after what was practically their 'first fight' coupled with their recent confessions and apologies.

But before long, the desire that shook them both escalated in urgency and drove away the shyness. With a soft curse, Yagari reached for his beside table, yanking the drawer open and groping around for the lube that was inside. He ached to have Cross claim him, to have his lover inside him...

Cross on the other hand, was still deeply moved by Yagari's accidental confession earlier. When the ex-hunter came here last night, he had been fully prepared to accept the fact that although he was sure of getting an apology from his more cynical lover, Yagari would still think him hopelessly naïve and idealistic. Cross found that he could accept that, as long as Yagari accepted in turn that this was something about his lover that he could not change. The ex-hunter honestly had no idea that there was anything remotely heroic about him now even if in the past... well, whatever happened then was over now. But for someone like Touga Yagari - an experienced and somewhat hardened hunter - someone who was a legend in his own right, to actually think so, well...!

Even better, Yagari's apology had not been a brief, off handed one that Cross was afraid he would get. It was unrehearsed, true, but there was a raw and undeniable sincerity in those awkwardly spoken but completely genuine words that had Cross deeply touched. It really was more than he had expected and he could recognise how hard it had been for his gruff, taciturn lover to bare himself so vulnerably like this. Oh, how on earth could anyone turn down his wonderful man? Cross knew that he for one, couldn't! He couldn't, and he didn't want to.

Not now, and not ever.

Almost lost in his thoughts, Cross was on the verge of sniffling again but he managed a smile for Yagari as he reached for the gel. Without being told, Yagari shifted on the bed, getting up and turning to rest on his hands and knees instead so as to present his bared rear to his lover. Cross blinked, the unexpected sight making him forget about his tear-inducing emotions for the moment. Well, he certainly appreciated the arousing sight of Yagari's toned buttocks, that much was certain, but... why...

"Touga?" Cross questioned, a puzzled frown drawing his brows together. "Why aren't you facing me?" He liked looking at his lover when they made love, regardless of who claimed who.

The one eyed hunter hesitated. He was still rather ashamed of his outburst last night when he had uttered those rash, unthinking words that had hurt this gentle man very, very deeply. Words that he still wasn't sure he was forgiven for, actually. Yagari leaned his weight on his elbows and looked over his shoulder.

"I thought we might... uhm, do it... like this," he explained hesitantly, his lean face now red with embarrassment as well as the faint, lingering flush of shame. In response to those evasive words, Yagari found himself being subjected to an intense scrutiny that only served to deepen his flush. Then there was a resigned, fond sounding sigh behind him before those familiar hands took him by the shoulders and pulled him back, not forcefully, not tentatively, but purposefully.

Yagari relented and settled back on the sheets, sitting cross legged as the same, gentle hands now cupped his face. Again, the one eyed hunter felt about two inches tall as those wonderful brown eyes looked deep into his remaining one and saw the guilt that still lingered there.

"If this is really how you want me to take you, Touga, I don't mind," Cross murmured earnestly. "But please... not because of what happened earlier."

The single blue eye widened before Yagari looked away and Cross knew he had guessed right. With a deep sigh, Yagari rubbed a hand down his face, broad and naked shoulders sagging.

"Sorry," he mumbled. "I just feel so-"

A pair of soft lips pressing lightly against his stopped him from speaking any further and Yagari couldn't help his involuntary tremble as he automatically responded to the kiss, hands sliding up Cross' arms to tangle in that long, straight hair again. When this kiss ended, Cross regarded his lover with an especially tender look.

"Look, I've already forgotten about that, Touga. Please, do the same... for me."

Yagari hesitated, looking - in Cross' opinion - adorably and uncharacteristically unsure but he swallowed and nodded.

"I... OK, Kaien... OK."

Cross smiled, his hands still holding his lover's scarred face, soft fingertips caressing his skin.

"I mean it, Touga. I never want to hear of this again."

Again, silence stretched between them as Yagari struggled with his emotions, trying not to let the stinging in his eye turn to tears again. Finally, he shrugged and smiled a little awkwardly.

"All right. I promise."

But I'm lying, Kaien. I will never forget this. I plan to remember it each day from now on... just so that I will never again make the same mistake twice. It almost cost me everything...

Happily ignorant of Yagari's thoughts, Cross leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss onto his lover's forehead.

"Good. Now, do you still want me to make love to you this way?"

There was a teasing glint in his brown eyes now that seemed innocent yet incongruously sexual and Yagari couldn't help chuckling even as his body responded instantly, making his arousal stand even more upright than before. He nodded without hesitation.

"Yeah, I do. And hard, Kaien. Take me hard..."

Without waiting for his lover's reply, Yagari turned around again, getting on his knees and positioning himself without hesitation. He knew Cross was usually gentle but this time, the ex-hunter was even more gentle as he started prepping his lover with gel slicked fingers. Yagari's breath sighed out of him and he closed his eye, pushing back a little impatiently against his lover's fingers. Yagari was rather on the impatient side when it came to intimate matters and he found Cross' careful prepping excruciatingly slow. It almost felt as if the ex-hunter was punishing him – even though he knew it wasn't true - by refusing to rush things, from the way his fingers pushed so very slowly into him, taking extra care as if this was Yagari's first time, even though they both knew it wasn't.

But at length, buried deep inside him, those fingers began to work their familiar magic and Yagari let his breath blow out as he hung his head, focusing only on the touch of those maddening fingers, how they delighted in alternately teasing his entrance and then pushing in so deep that the hunter couldn't help the soft, breathless grunts that escaped his lips each time they touched his core and caused those tiny, electrifying tingles to spread to his groin. Yagari found himself pushing back hard each time as he grasped the sheets with both hands, trying not to give in to the urge to tell his lover to just take him already...

Thankfully, Cross' patience had its own limitation as well and Yagari almost sagged onto the bed in relief as those fingers pulled out of him at length and something bigger started to tease his slick entrance. Yagari was eager to feel their joining and he pushed back automatically, seeking to get his lover into him as fast as he could. Cross held his lean hips still and leaned over him, his damp chest resting on Yagari's lower back as the ex-hunter pressed kisses on his shoulder blades, equally damp with salty passion.

"Show me, Touga," Cross murmured breathlessly into his ear. "Show me how much you missed me."

Yagari shuddered at the warm invitation in his lover's words, so transparently displayed. He loved that about Cross. He loved how open and painfully honest the ex-hunter was, especially with him, and especially now. Despite the hands holding his hips still, Yagari braced himself and pushed back with a sudden, sharp movement. Both men groaned as the sudden jerk made their bodies merge a little, the head of Cross' stiff arousal finally breaching his lover's tight entrance. Yagari uttered a soft gasp as he shuddered with delight, actually relishing the slight pain that came with initial penetration. But it was his lover's care and honesty he cherished even more. When it came to this wonderful person... what you saw was, in fact, exactly what you got.

And right now, even though Touga couldn't exactly see it, he very much appreciated what he was going to get.

Every... single... inch of it.

With one hand holding onto Yagari's shoulder and his other closing around an engorged, throbbing part of the hunter, Cross inhaled deeply and pushed himself forward, still not as hard as he knew Yagari wanted, but purposefully enough so that he slid in a couple more inches.

"Unh...!" Yagari flung his head back, breathing hard as he thrust his hips back and felt his lover slide in an inch or so more. God, this was killing him... but short of pushing back, there was nothing much Yagari could do. Not when Cross was gripping his arousal and pumping it firmly, seriously distracting him and making his legs quiver.

"Nnh... harder, Kaien! Damnit, I want all of you! Now!" Yagari wasn't sure if his incoherent words were a command or a plea but Cross stilled for one brief moment and Yagari braced himself, placing his knees further apart, his heart drumming with excitement and his muscles tense with anticipation. In the next moment, Cross obeyed him with a strong and deep thrust that finally buried him to the hilt in the hunter's tight depths.

Yagari tossed his head back again, giving an almost primal cry in response to the sudden, full stretch of his body. Cross hardly ever took him this fast, at least not when he had just entered him, but Yagari craved it sometimes and especially now, when there was a part of him that stubbornly thought he still needed some form of punishment, as erotically wonderful as this 'punishment' was. He needed to taken fast and hard even though it hurt.

Perhaps Cross realised it, or read something in his lover's desperate cries for he didn't let up this time, slamming his hips against Yagari's buttocks again and again, almost relishing the slapping sound their damp bodies made when they contacted each time. Still holding onto his lover's shoulder, Cross pumped Yagari firmly, almost fiercely in his other hand.

Yagari shuddered and gasped for breath, his head hanging low and the muscles in his arms standing out in relief as, one shaking hand at a time, he released the sheets and held on to the headboard of the bed instead. He loved how this was but Cross' hand on his throbbing erection was pushing him to the edge faster than how he wanted. Still, it felt too good to get him to stop and Yagari was caught in a maelstrom of feelings, his pounding heart working overtime as it tried to re-distribute the blood that was stubbornly pooling in his groin.

"Aahhh... Kaien... faster...!" Yagari gasped, his body tightening with familiar, unbearable tension as Cross continued to take him faster and harder. The ex-hunter was panting hard as he felt his own climax rushing up to meet him. Yagari's body was tight and hot around his arousal and the way he was convulsing and throbbing all around him made Cross fear he would erupt before Yagari did.

But amazingly enough, they came together after all – both men cried out as the throbbing bliss of their fierce orgasms ripped through their bodies. Muscles contracting sharply and minds blanking with pleasure, they both released at the same time - Yagari's milky fluid spurting out onto the sheets and Cross expelling his seed deep inside his lover. And still, they didn't stop the frantic, jerking movements as they continued pushing against each other, milking the very last of the slowly fading waves of utter bliss.

Finally, Yagari collapsed. His shaky limbs were unable to support him any longer and he sagged onto the sheets with Cross' weight on top of him. They were both breathing raggedly as their bodies throbbed in the aftermath of their intense orgasms. It was a minute or so before Cross managed to roll off Yagari and he ended up spooning the hunter again. The trembling in their bodies was slow to subside and both of them were content to remain silent for now. Then Yagari turned in Cross' embrace to rest on his back. Without missing a beat, the ex-hunter leaned up on one elbow and they kissed again, slowly trailing their fingers over heaving chests and flushed, sweat slicked skin.

After a while, Yagari sighed and gave Cross a little push in the chest.

"OK, get back to your family, Kaien," he said gruffly. To his surprise, Cross merely kissed him again and shook his head.

"I'll call Momoyama-san to come over to see if the kids need anything. In the meantime, Touga, why don't you heat up that soup you promised me last night? It would be a shame to waste the table you so nicely set for me..."

Cross smiled as he watched the slow flush spreading on his lover's suddenly cautious face.

"I'm not sure if it's any good," Yagari said with a rare show of deprecation and Cross' smile widened.

"Can't be any worse than mine..." he quipped.

Yagari let out a surprised bark of laughter, still feeling a little embarrassed and pleased at the same time.

"Are you kidding?" he exclaimed. "I love your cooking!"

Cross pushed his still damp hair back and sat up, his slowing down heart warming at their fond banter. Had it really been that long? He should do something about getting some time off to himself and Touga every now and then. After all, Zero and Yuuki weren't actually babies - perhaps he could fabricate some nightly meetings in town that would allow him and Touga to have some 'together' time...

"Oh? Why is that?" he asked absently in response to Yagari's comment. The laughter fled the hunter's face all of a sudden, leaving it solemn but not stern, and Cross couldn't help staring at him in surprise.

"Because you cook with love, Kaien. So please... I know those kids diss your food but I... I..."

The one eyed hunter was again looking unbearably shy - of all things - as he darted a quick look at Cross.

"I'll always eat everything you cook," Yagari promised huskily and Cross' brown eyes widened and moistened at the same time.

"Oh, Touga...! Really?" he breathed.

Yagari gave a wry smile and nodded, one hand going up to caress his lover's damp shoulder, roughened fingertips lightly tracing the thin, white scars he had once treated.

"Well, everything except liver..." Yagari gave Cross a hopeful smile as he said this and the ex-hunter gaped open mouthed at him before laughing good naturedly.

"It's a deal!"

Yagari smiled deeply just before their lips met again. All was right with his world now and he tumbled his gentle lover beneath him onto the rumpled, damp sheets. It was his turn to love and to claim. The damned soup could wait a while longer - after all, it was still sitting in his fridge.

Silently, the words of a new heartfelt vow slipped through Yagari's mind as he traded a sweet and passionate kiss with Cross.

I will never, ever let anything like this come in between us again, Kaien. Never. You mean too much to me.

-- Story End –-