Your voice makes me tremble inside
And your smile is an invitation
For my imagination to go wild.


He wasn't sure when he'd first started to notice it. He could only estimate that it had been around five years ago, in his early teenage years. It wasn't hard to notice and everybody had, at some point or another, but all had eventually dismissed it as a charming (the girls) or annoying (everyone else) personality quirk. At this point, he was fairly certain he was the only one who paid any attention to it anymore. All things considered, he rather inclined towards the girls' opinion.

It was rather pathetic, Fuuta lamented, when you couldn't focus on the message because you were too busy focusing on the messenger.

"And so the Varia hath assured us that they are willing to train with us, and shall arrive anon," Basil concluded. The reaction he got was somewhat mixed. Tsuna looked both relieved and a little worried, no doubt imagining the mayhem the Varia could and would cause. Gokudera was busy fuming that he'd been outvoted, but subsided into a low mutter when Chrome tactfully pointed out that his beloved Tenth had been part of the majority. Yamamoto and Ryohei were gleefully anticipating their sparring partners, while Lambo, who for once had been in complete agreement with Gokudera, contented himself with pulling faces at the thought of his own Varia counterpart. Hibari, having neither counterpart nor use for training, was the only guardian not in attendance.

Fuuta was merely a spectator here. He always felt a little awkward at these strategy meetings; he could only gather intelligence, provide information, perform basic spy work at best, but not defend the family when the occasion called for it. But Tsuna always asked him to come, and Basil always asked him to stay, so what could he do? Especially when Basil asked in that unique way of his.

"Fuuta, art thou attending the meeting? Mayhap 'tis a short one today." He'd tried to refuse politely. He really didn't want to impose.

"Methinks thou ought to attend; it would please Sawada-dono and myself greatly, and I hath reports to make to the family." Well, now. He could always tag along. For Tsuna-nii's sake, of course.

The meeting broken up, the guardians left the room in twos and threes, either exulting or sulking or in Chrome's case, plotting to collaborate with Fran and bust their master out of Vendicare. Basil was busily tidying papers and stacking them in his briefcase, while Fuuta lagged behind in the hopes of letting him catch up so they could walk and talk together, as they sometimes did. Just then, he felt an insistent tug on his sleeve.

"Fuuta, let's go down to the kitchen and see what the ladies are cooking," Lambo said, in a tone that brooked no disobedience, not that Fuuta could ever refuse the once-child he'd helped raise. Hiding a look of disappointment, he followed his charge out the door, missing a similar but not quite so well-concealed look on Basil's face.

In thy face I see honour, truth and loyalty.

~ William Shakespeare

Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made for kissing, lady, not for such contempt.

~William Shakespeare

"VOOOOII! Fucking brats!"

"Haha! Hi, Squalo!"

"Ushishishi. Miss me, bomb brat?"

"Like hell I did, knife bastard!"

"Lussuria! Let's extremely spar to the EXTREME!"

"Right behind you, darling~"

Fran said nothing, but nodded meaningfully at Chrome, who promptly withdrew into the mansion with him in order to discuss their jailbreak plans.

Levi glared threateningly at Lambo, who was doing his best to remain calm. He was flanked by I-Pin and Fuuta, both of whom could clearly hear him chanting "To-le-rate" like a frantic prayer under his breath.

Xanxus was received last by Tsuna and Hibari, the former of whom discreetly dispatched Bianchi to direct him to the pantry and "for all our sakes, Bianchi, let him feed himself". The last thing they needed was a legitimate excuse for the Varia to wreak havoc while staying with them; they did enough of that for no particular reason as it was.

We have some salt of our youth in us.

~William Shakespeare

The course of true love never did run smooth.

~William Shakespeare

"No sooner met but they looked; No sooner looked but they loved; No sooner loved but they sighed; No sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; No sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy-"

"-And in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage," Lussuria finished as he sashayed into the room. Fuuta glanced up, not perturbed in the slightest; when you lived with the Vongola, you got used to random people appearing out of nowhere in every and any room. Or you had a nervous breakdown.

"You've read As You Like It?"

"Dabbled in Shakespeare, dearie, back in the day. So romantic, some of them; you don't often get young men like that these days," and the Varia's 'mother' shook his head over the degeneracy of the times as he pranced around in a pink apron over his uniform, brandishing a feather duster in one hand and a mini-vacuum in the other.

"But perhaps you have one in mind, dear?" Lussuria continued, flicking his duster efficiently over the bookcase, which was filled with worn out but clearly cared-for novels.

Fuuta said nothing to that, choosing instead to bury his head in The Complete Collective Works of William Shakespeare. Lussuria changed tack and steered him further into dangerous waters.

"You've read all of that, poppet?" He gestured at the enormous tome, which weighed more than himself.

"Yes, I've read it already, but I've got a presentation based on this material due next week."

"Of course, I forgot some of us are still schooling; but I would have thought you'd have memorised the entire book by now."

"Doesn't hurt to read again," Fuuta murmured, already lost in poetry and prose.

"Why not ask that nice Basil boy to help you, dearie? I'm sure he would if you asked him, and getting his help would put you at an advantage." Fuuta mumbled something along the lines of it "not being fair to others".

"Rule number one of the Varia, dearie," Lussuria patted his nose confidentially with his feather duster, sneezing a moment later.

"All's fair in love and war."

When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.

~William Shakespeare

"So dear I love him that with him, all deaths I could endure. Without him, live no life," Basil read softly. They were sprawled out in the shade of an old olive tree in the back garden, the book spread forth on the cool grass. Fuuta was listening intently as Basil read selected passages. He'd never realised just how many love quotations Shakespeare's works contained before now.

"Did my heart love till now? Forswear it sight, for I ne'er saw true beauty till this night."

There was something beautiful about his voice, Fuuta mused. Perhaps it was the characteristics attributed to his Rain flames that made it so calming. But he felt far from calm at this point.

"Such is my love, to thee I so belong, that for thy right myself will bear all wrong."

They were lying flat on their stomachs across the grass, their bodies almost touching. One more shift to the right would just about do it.

"One half of me is yours, the other half yours - mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, and so all yours."

Fuuta scooted over almost imperceptibly, until his side was all but pressed against Basil's. He sighed in contentment, soaking up the extra warmth and revelling in the feel of another's body. Basil hadn't changed much in ten years; he'd dropped most of his puppy fat and now nobody ever had cause to inquire into his gender, but he still retained a hint of feminine features despite having grown into mostly angles.

"Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar but never doubt thy love."

Was it his imagination, or did Basil's voice suddenly sound deeper, huskier? Fuuta twisted slightly, his gaze shifting from the marked page to Basil's face. That was a flattering shade of pink, he realised. Was he uncomfortable with their proximity? Fuuta made to back up slightly when a hand shot out and took hold of his wrist. He looked up and his heart stopped; Basil was looking straight at him, the blush unmistakable. His hand moved down Fuuta's wrist in a gentle caress, bringing their hands up to lace their fingers together, eyes never leaving his as he whispered the next marked line:

"Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts."

Fuuta's eyes were probably the size of dinner plates by now. He was dreaming, he knew it was so, because this would never happen; there was no way Basil, the man he'd known for ten years, crushed on for five and loved for two, was actually considering him as a potential love interest.

It was a highly realistic dream. Basil squeezed his hand when he didn't answer, both his hands moving to cover Fuuta's. A thumb ghosted over the back of his right hand, leaving a fizzling trail wherever it touched.

"Fuuta?" He asked gently. "Art thou alright?" Fuuta realised he'd stopped breathing, and struggled to speak.

"A-ah, I'm fine." What was wrong with him? Basil's eyes bored into his, his expression unreadable. Fuuta searched his face for any tell-tale signs of insincerity, anything to show that he was kidding, or perhaps just oblivious. He found none.

"... Tell me more."

"I beg thy pardon?" Basil asked, all confusion.

"Talk to me like you always do." Best to be honest, right? Fuuta met his eyes frankly. "I can't get enough of that." There was that blush again. Basil looked simply delicious when he was flustered, but still he rose to the challenge.

"My heart is ever at your service." Their hands still laced together, Fuuta covered the last inch until there was no longer any distance between them.

"More." He was rather enjoying being the one in control, for a change.

"I would not wish any companion in the world but you." He hooked a finger into Basil's collar, pulling his face down to match his.

"Again." Give him some slack, then reel him in.

"I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say 'I love you'," Basil whispered against his lips. Their lips melded together, slow and shy at first, seeking the other out.

"While we lie tumbling in the hay," Fuuta finished as he pulled back, an uncharacteristically mischievous grin slowly forming. Basil gulped audibly before Fuuta's lips crashed into his, leaving him no room for protests - not that he needed much persuading.

And when love speaks, the voice of all the gods makes Heaven drowsy with the harmony.

~William Shakespeare