A/N: Written for a LiveJournal 500themes writing challenge for the prompt 370 - Love's pretty follies. And yes, I went there again. Luka/Touko. Het in my yaoi-themed anime? Hell yes! And I'm going to ship it till the cows come home.

Warning: worksafe.

Disclaimer: Hotaru Odagiri and all associated companies are the rightful owners of Uragiri wa boku no namae wo shitteiru. This work is in no way associated with them, no copyright infringement is intended with this, and no profit is being made from this.

Today never happened before

She didn't do it on purpose. She hadn't intended to, not the first time, not any of the following ones. But with Luka being the only one who didn't need to see her strong all the time, Touko didn't really have any other option. They were all caught up in a war and she couldn't let her friends see her weak; she couldn't allow herself the courtesy of being the source of their worries. She didn't want them to lose focus in the middle of a fight only to be concerned with her safety. She was a capable fighter and could never forgive herself if any of her friends got hurt because of her, and with Luka she had this ring of safety where she didn't have to think about it. She could be as weak as she wanted to and he wouldn't care, though she didn't want to use him like this all the time. However, she was tired of hiding away to cry and then hide her eyes because Tsukumo could always find her, always did find her, and she couldn't lie to him. She had learned to hold in her tears, to school her face into a smile, an occasional look of concern, but never tears; she forbade herself to break down in front of anyone.

Therefore Luka's not-really-comforting statement had been a great relief. He was not a Zweilt, he didn't care what they did, and this was Touko's salvation. She leaned on him when her world was falling apart and he waited patiently until she could piece herself together again. She didn't ask for more and he didn't offer. It wasn't that they couldn't change anything about their destinies; it was that they didn't want to, too committed to the cycle of centuries. Now Yuki had broken it by being reborn as a man. It had been a surprise to every one of them. And Luka had gotten the rough end of the deal in this because he had loved Yuki when she had still been a woman. This change had put a distance between them – a rift that wouldn't be there if Yuki were a woman because they had loved each other through the centuries.

And as the rift between Luka and Yuki had appeared, the rift between Luka and Touko had diminished. Touko had had feelings for him, even in the past. But now that Yuki was reborn in a new appearance, neither Touko, nor Luka could be as close to him as they had previously been due to the awkwardness of the situation. Nothing of what they had been able to do together, the ways they had treated each other previously was possible now, not without a great deal of awkwardness. Admittedly, it felt even more awkward for Touko to be relying so much on Luka now, when all the previous lives she'd kept her distance out of respect for Yuki and her feelings. But the Yuki from this life…

Touko could see the way Luka struggled with his feelings even if no one else noticed it. She had had feelings for Luka previously and she had considered Yuki a best friend, and she could notice things the others had not even the slightest inkling about. Still, Touko couldn't deny the guilt she felt whenever she got closer to Luka, whenever she took Yuki's place by his side. It wasn't simple, even in her mind and with all of her feelings combined. It was complicated and at the end of the day she wasn't sure where exactly they stood now, in this twisted triangle of feelings. If Yuki weren't a man in this life, it would have been so much simpler for all of them. But he was. He was.

Touko leaned against Luka's back, the tears long since having dried on her cheeks, but she didn't want to pull away. She had wanted to be here, so close to him for the longest time, and now when she had the chance, the guilt was overwhelming. It would have been much simpler if Yuki were dead, and she shuddered at that thought, suddenly terrified of herself for just thinking that. She would never wish death upon the soul who had been her best friend throughout the centuries, and who – in a way – still was, even if with a new identity.

"I'm sorry for burdening you like this," Touko whispered. "I didn't want to make a habit out of that one time."

"I don't care."

Touko smiled. He was lying. Luka, too, found some sort of comfort in this; a sense of belonging somewhere, because his usual place by Yuki's side wasn't the same as it had been before. It didn't feel the same, couldn't; not with the tables turned on him by Yuki's decision to no longer live as a woman. Luka didn't know what to make of it, how to understand it. Yet despite all that, he was going to keep his promise and stay by Yuki's side through it all until they would be reborn again. And Touko – though he would never admit it, not even to himself – was his bridge to what used to be. She hadn't changed. She still had feelings for him, still as distant from him as before because Yuki would always stand between them as the margin defining their relationship. But she was marginally closer now; a momentary temptation before guilt and old promises took the upper hand.