So this is a birthday fic for my very best friend. It's a little crackish. Actually it's a little more than a little crackish. This whole idea came from us watching episode 9 which is the only episode where Hugo makes an appearance and we were joking about how everyone sooner or later gets a crazy crush on Tenma. And then we were imagining what it would be like if Hugo and Tenma actually got together and we both thought of a cute wifey Tenma. And we both liked the idea enough to not make it a joke anymore. So there's the origin of this... whatever this is.

Anyway, I didn't know if the girl from episode 9 had a name so I came up with my own name for her. I called her Thein. It pronounced as follows. The 'th' is pronounced like the 'th' in 'thought'. the 'e' is pronounced like 'ee' like in 'free'. and the 'in' is pronounced like 'aim' so it's 'Th-ee-aim' is how to pronounce it. It's a Burmese name and it means 100 thousand. I don't know the significance of the number but I hope it's something good. Anyway enough of me talking about useless things. Enjoy and to my darling friend Happy Belated Birthday. Please enjoy the cracky fluff!

Tenma walked up the dirt road eager to get to his destination. It had been a whole month since he last walked up this road to a place that he could possibly equate with the word home.

Walking up the road, he sometimes would glance up at the trees that surrounded the path, seeing if he could spot a brandling with its chicks in the trees. He could hear some calling out to each other. He smiled as he remembered the first time he'd come to this place as he did every time he came back.

A long time ago, he came here in search of a means to get to a very drastic end. He needed to learn how to shoot a gun in order to kill Johan. The only thing that this place had meant to him back then was practice, precision, training, and awkward nights at the dinner table.

But now it meant something else entirely. It meant warmth, comfort, family, and… still sometimes awkward nights at the dinner table. But nights nowadays were a different sort of awkward. It was a more companionable awkward like how you didn't know what to say to someone at a fancy dinner party who you were more or less forced to talk to. The old days were a more creepy awkward like how you're having dinner with a war veteran whose teaching you how to shoot a gun and could possibly kill you in your sleep if you looked at him the wrong way because he knows exactly where you're sleeping because it's under the same roof he's sleeping under too.

But Tenma had recently been accepted to work as a doctor in a hospital in a town not far from the little cabin in the woods. And while work wouldn't let him come home as often as he wanted to, once in a while it gave him ample time to spend a weekend or even a whole week with his makeshift family.

And what a family they made. An orphan girl who hasn't spoken a word in all of their time together, a veteran who's probably killed more people than he could count, and a doctor who had taken it upon himself to rid the world of Satan incarnate just because he had been doing his job as a doctor and had mistaken said Satan Incarnate as a regular human boy.

So they each had their own flaws that needed fixing but Tenma couldn't help but feel certain and unwavering compassion for the two people that waited for him in their modest home in the woods.

Presently he could see the little log cabin in the clearing and he could see the little girl with her jump rope skipping away without any care in the world. Unable to contain his joy at seeing her, he ran as fast as he could and called out, "I'm back!"

The girl looked up to see Tenma and immediately threw her jump rope down in order to run as fast as she could to greet Tenma. On her face was the most beautiful smile Tenma could ever imagine.

Tenma slowed down so that he wouldn't plow the poor girl over with his momentum but the girl, a lot denser than she looked, plowed him over with hers. Tenma laughed as she tackled him to the ground and as she gave him a hug at the same time. "You've gotten stronger, haven't you, Thein?"

Thein was the name that Hugo and Tenma called her by. She had never really talked so neither of them really knew what to call her. Tenma had suggested the name Thein since it was a Burmese name and the girl had come from Myanmar. They had asked her all those years ago if Thein was an acceptable name. The girl had nodded and she had thus become Thein.

Tenma was brought out of this reverie by the same girl as she tried to choke him to death with all of her love.

"I missed you too," he gasped out, "but I can't breathe."

Thein loosened her grip on Tenma but would not let go. A smile coming to his face, Tenma wrapped his arms around the young girl he considered the daughter-he-never-had. They stayed like that for awhile until Tenma couldn't help but ask, "Thein, where's Papa?"

She got off of Tenma and looked at him. She replaced her usually sweet smile with a cheeky grin as she got a hold of Tenma's hand and led him into the cabin.

As he was led to the man he hadn't seen in an entire month, Tenma's heart hammered inside of his chest. Sure, they already had an established relationship. Sure, a month wasn't a really long time to not see someone in the grand scheme of things. But a small part of him couldn't help but be nervous at the thought of finally, after so long, being in the presence of the man he loved.

He presently found himself at the door to their bedroom. Thein was still holding on to his hand but with her other hand she was trying to stifle giggles as she anticipated Hugo's response to Tenma being home. Seeing her do that, he had to try and suppress some chuckles of his own.

But he put a finger to his lips to signal her to be quiet. She nodded her head vigorously in silent agreement and knocked on the door.

"Thein? You can come in," said a gruff voice.

The girl opened the door for Tenma and motioned him to go in.

Tenma hesitated for just a split second and then went in.

Hugo was seated at his desk in their room. He had a desk lamp on and he was reading a book. The creak of the floor board seemed to alert the veteran that someone a lot heavier than Thein had entered the room.

Hugo looked up and saw Tenma. He looked mildly surprised but for awhile didn't say anything. After a few agonizing minutes of a silent staring contest, Tenma wished the man would say something. He didn't have to drop everything he was doing in order to lavish him with kisses and profess his undying love to him and say how much he had missed him or anything like that. It'd be nice, sure, but Tenma didn't need it. He would've liked, however, if Hugo would just say something… anything.

Okay not anything. But probably anything along the lines of, "Good to have you back," or, "How've you been?" or "How're the people at the hospital treating you?" or even (and he knew it was stretching it but couldn't help but hope for) "I missed you and I love you."

But after a while of silent nothing Tenma decided to give and say something first. "Hello, Hugo," he said and tried to put a convincing smile on for him.

Hugo continued to stare for a bit but then uttered a simple, "Kenzo…"

Tenma was grateful for progress and even just a few months before he had been trying to get the man to call him by his first name. And before he had left last time, Hugo still seemed to struggle with it. He'd start saying Tenma but quickly correct himself and say Kenzo. And hearing Hugo call him by his name without hesitation really made the doctor feel, for lack of a better word, special.

Tenma smiled once again and responded, "Yes?" seeing if he could prompt the usually silent and stoic man to say something else.

The burly German man stayed quiet for awhile still staring at him. Then Hugo's eyes shifted just a fraction of a centimeter away from Tenma's eyes and a hoarse, "Welcome back," was muttered.

Tenma's smile widened. That was all he had been asking for.

A small growl from his stomach alerted the doctor to the fact that his body needed sustenance in order to support its metabolism. "I haven't eaten in a few hours so if it's alright with you I'm going to go start dinner then," he said quite sure he wasn't going to get anything else out of the veteran, "I'll call you when it's ready."

Hugo once again fixed him with a steadfast stare not betraying any sort of emotion. He made to get up and said, "I'll cook. You just got back from a long trip."

Tenma put a hand up to stop him. "It wasn't that long of a trip and besides," Tenma's smile widened a fraction more, "you just want to get out of using chopsticks."

Hugo didn't have anything to say to that. The doctor chuckled and said, "Don't worry, I'll be making stew and you can just use a spoon like you normally do."

When Tenma said that, Hugo relaxed back into the chair. He grunted his consent but continued to level a gaze at the doctor to see if there'd be anything else. And only when Tenma had left did Hugo return his attention to his book.

Tenma walked out of their bedroom feeling that their reunion had been more or less a success. While other people might question whether or not a greeting like that after a month apart from your significant other was a sign of a healthy relationship, he was completely satisfied with it.

Just knowing that he had had the veteran's undivided attention for the brief amount of time that they had talked made him feel important in his eyes. Tenma knew that if he really didn't mean anything to the silent man then Hugo wouldn't have even looked up from his book. He was trying really hard to be a good… whatever they were, Tenma really couldn't think of a name to describe it… and little by little it was showing.

And Hugo had even offered to make dinner. Tenma couldn't help the giddy fuzzy feeling bloom in his chest.

When he made his way through the hallway to get to the kitchen, Thein was waiting for him and looking at him with those innocent eyes but with a stare that pierced him through.

He smiled at the child and said, "I'll be making stew for dinner, would you like to help, Thein?"

The girl's eyes shimmered with delight as she nodded her head. But then her eyes traveled from Tenma to the door of Hugo's room and adapted a different sheen. It was more quizzical and perhaps confused.

"Papa's in his room," Tenma said trying to guess what the girl was thinking. "He seems to be working on something so let's leave him be for awhile."

Thein pouted a bit at Tenma and proceeded to her bedroom which was just down the hall. She opened the door and went in. He stood in the hallway and waited until she came out with one of her favorite story books.

Whenever Tenma was home the young girl would silently beg Tenma to read her favorite fairytale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The book was beautifully illustrated and the ends of the pages were embellished with gold, making it seem a lot more remarkable then it probably was. Presently the girl was flipping through the book and seemed to be looking for a very specific page.

Her eyes lit up and Tenma surmised that she had found it. She turned the book around so that Tenma could see. On the page there was a beautiful illustration of Sleeping Beauty as she was being kissed by her prince.

She was pointing to the picture and at the same time looking at Tenma and the door to Hugo's room interchangeably. Finally after a few seconds of utter confusion, Tenma guessed what was going through the girl's head. "You're wondering why Papa and I didn't kiss?"

Thein nodded her head. Tenma sighed scratching the back of his head. He could feel his face heat up.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to address this issue with the girl. It's not like Tenma and Hugo hadn't kissed at all since they became… whatever it was they were. They kissed once when Tenma had come back the second time since the business with Johan was over. And that had caught Tenma by complete surprise and when he had pulled back to look at Hugo, it seemed he was surprised as well. Then after that nothing had really happened for a few months.

Then Tenma had gotten up enough courage to try and return the favor and that was their second kiss. He had hoped that with that kiss maybe Hugo would know that Tenma wasn't ashamed of having a more physical relationship. And he thought he had gotten the message across because a few days after that they had their third kiss while making love. But then after that the physical aspects of their relationship flat-lined and was never quite brought back to life.

Tenma didn't mind though. The kisses had been nice, sure, and that one time they had sex was spectacular, but he didn't really need those things to reassure himself that he was wanted or that he was loved. Maybe he would've needed it in the past before Johan.

In fact, while thinking on it, Tenma was absolutely positive that if they had started a relationship before the business with Johan it never would've worked because he realized that he had been a little too needy back then. He had thrived on the support and praise of others and was crushed whenever criticism came his way. When he wasn't met with anything more than a "Good job," it almost broke him. And the only reason it didn't break him was because he would focus so much time and effort into making everything perfect so that "Good job," was only the least of the compliments he would receive.

He used to think Eva loved him because she had practically showered him with hugs and kisses and sex. But really all she was doing was trying to convince him that she loved him so that he would provide for her and that her future would be secure.

He used to think that that was love.

It wasn't until recently he realized how wrong he was.

But trying to explain all of that to his "daughter" would've been hard so he merely tried to brush off the unasked question by saying something like, "Well, he's really tired right now and he looked really busy. Anyway let's make that stew. It's your favorite, right?"

Tenma guessed that Thein's hunger out-weighed her curiosity in her foster parents' love lives since she seemed to focus most of her concentration on helping Tenma prepare dinner.

While making dinner, Tenma shared stories of the hospital with the young girl. He tried to pick out stories that he knew the girl would enjoy. Her favorite stories were the ones with happy endings of course, especially the ones where there was a reunion of sorts. She loved stories where out of something bad came something good and Tenma enjoyed those stories as well.

When finished with dinner, Tenma called Hugo to the dining table. Like all those years ago, whenever he came home they all sat at the dining table and had dinner together… like a family. It probably wasn't as talkative or noisy as most family dinners were but Tenma wouldn't trade it for anything.

Every so often, he'd get to hear Hugo compliment him on his cooking. It would either be a hum of approval or something simple like, "This is good." And whenever it happened Tenma couldn't help but be tickled pink.

After dinner, Hugo told Tenma that he'd clean up and to spend time with Thein.

"She missed you a lot," he said, "without you around she doesn't have anyone to tell her stories. Lord knows she wouldn't want to hear any of mine."

Tenma nodded and left his… he left Hugo to do the dishes as he went to find Thein.

Thein was in her room sitting on her bed with her back propped up against the headboard looking through the fairytale book that she'd referenced earlier in the day as how romantic relationships should be.

Upon hearing her door open, the girl looked up and greeted Tenma with a dazzling smile and scooted over in her bed to make room for Tenma.

After Tenma settled in next to her, he asked her what she'd like to hear.

Thein flipped through the book until they found just the story she was looking for and he began to read.

Princesses trying to find their place in the world, knights valiantly slaying monsters, witches crafting the demise of the hero: all of their stories were told. Hours passed by as Thein demanded that Tenma read more.

But as the night fell on their cabin in the woods, two very tired persons began to nod off. One from the exciting stories that had been told to her and the other from a long trip. And soon both of them had fallen asleep right on the girl's bed.

And that was how Hugo had found them. Thein was snuggled between Tenma's arm and the rest of his body. Sleeping on her side, she was facing Tenma.

Tenma was lying on his back with his mouth slightly open occasionally making snoring sounds. Both of his hands seemed as if they had been clasping onto the book that was currently on his stomach but in sleep their hold had relaxed.

And that picture alone made Hugo the happiest he ever thought he could be or perhaps he never thought he could be this happy. And while it was endearing, sleeping like that couldn't be good for Tenma because the doctor's legs nearly came over the edge of the small bed for the small girl.

Hugo could barely contain the smile that was too stubborn to not show itself. He walked over and gently shook Tenma whispering softly, "Kenzo, come to bed."

Tenma slowly opened his eyes and blinked a few times to reorient himself to being awake. His eyes went directly to Hugo's and the doctor smiled. "Alright, I'm coming."

And Tenma did his best to disentangle himself from Thein without waking her but to no avail. The girl woke up and looked at Hugo and Tenma rather pointedly. Then seeing something that she seemed pleased with, she rolled back over and went to sleep with a small smile spreading across her face.

Taking Tenma's arm, Hugo led him back to their room. Every once in awhile Tenma rubbed his eyes and yawned and to Hugo it was… endearing. Or at least it would be a more appropriate term than cute to describe a grown man.

When they finally got to their room, Tenma unceremoniously and for lack of a better term flopped down on the bed immediately. He closed his eyes and draped an arm over them as if to make sure they stayed closed.

"Kenzo," Hugo said, "at least take your shoes off."

The doctor tried to sit up to do what he was told but found some difficulty in doing so from how tired he was. And after the second try, Tenma just turned over and laid there.

"Later."

"You see, it was a long trip wasn't it?"

"No… it really wasn't… I just… my eyes got tired… while reading… and I just wanted to rest my eyes a little…" a yawn "before I went on with the story…"

A grunt. "That's why you can barely sit up and untie your shoe laces?"

"I'll be up in a minute."

"Jesus, Kenzo."

And it wasn't until he felt a big muscular hand on his ankle, did Tenma sit up straight as a board. He stared as Hugo sat down on the bed, took his foot, placed it on his lap, and proceeded to untie the laces, and gently as he could slip the shoe off of his foot. Then repeated the process with the other foot.

All the while he was muttering things like, "Those bastards work you to the bone at that damn hospital they should at least give you some sort of transportation so you don't have to walk back and forth. Goddamn bastards."

Tenma, as he watched, half-asleep and stunned, couldn't help a small smile to form on his face and a blush to spill across his cheeks as he realized just how much he had fallen for this man.

Hugo dropped the remaining shoe to the floor and got up off of the bed.

Tenma lay back down but his eyes never left Hugo for a second. He watched as Hugo went around the bed to their closet. He watched as Hugo stripped off his shirt and discarded his cargo pants in favor of sweat pants.

Tenma's eyes passed from the back of Hugo's shoulders down to the small of the veteran's back. While muscular and aesthetically pleasing in that regard, Tenma couldn't help but cringe at all of the scars littered across his back.

He suddenly felt himself shudder and realized how cold it was in their room.

"Hugo," he murmured perhaps a tad bit more pleading than he wanted. He wished that the ex-soldier would hurry the hell up before he froze to death.

The veteran gave him a soft smile. He walked over to the bed and climbed in next to Tenma.

He lifted the comforter so they both could burrow underneath and use it to trap their body heat.

Tenma shifted closer to Hugo's side of the bed and Hugo shifted closer too so that they met in the middle. Hugo wrapped his arms around Tenma for some cuddling.

Tenma was so thankful for little moments like this. He didn't need them… but they were still nice.

He nearly drifted off to sleep like that but heard Hugo call his name quietly with a deep rumble in his chest.

"Hmm?" he answered too lost in a dreamy state to manage to respond with much else.

"Uhmm…" Hugo paused. Tenma very rarely heard Hugo use such speech fillers. He only ever used them when the situation made him really uncomfortable. He had opened the monologue of his love confession with an "Uh… Dr. Tenma…? Umm… could we talk?" He'd use them in order to buy some time to think about a response to whenever Tenma asked if Hugo would go with him to those ritzy staff socials they have for the doctors at his new hospital that Hugo always ended up saying no to. Tenma knew that Hugo would never go to any of them he asked more out of principle than anything else. He didn't really believe that Hugo actually thought about going within the 5 seconds the filler allowed for him to gather his thoughts. Tenma always thought that Hugo had used it to think of a nice way to say no.

So hearing such inarticulate phonemes spill from the veteran's mouth always alerted Tenma that whatever came next would be incredibly important to Hugo because he's been harboring it, keeping it under lock and key for awhile now. And since it was so important to Hugo, it was important to Tenma as well.

"Yes, Hugo?" Hopefully the use of his name would be encouraging.

"I was talking to Thein… the other day…" A rather long pause.

"Oh?" Another pause.

"And…" After yet another pause, Tenma got worried. He was mostly awake now and pulled away a bit from Hugo's embrace to get a look at the man's face.

His face was set firmly with an expression of determination but something behind his eyes told Tenma that he wasn't as nearly calm on the inside as he appeared to be on the outside.

"What is it, Hugo?"

"… Are you happy, Kenzo?"

Happy?

"Yes. I couldn't be happier. But why are you asking me that?"

Some of that inner turmoil that Tenma had seen behind Hugo's eyes diminished significantly but some of it was still there.

"As I said, I was talking to Thein and she's convinced I don't show you how much I love you often enough… She kept showing me pictures in that fairytale picture book you got her with kissing princes and princesses. I think she wanted me to kiss you when you got home. And I thought maybe you would be happier if I did more… romantic things. Maybe even go to one of those parties with those shit-bastards that keep you too long at the hospital. Uh… so I… I got a book… on how to be more romantic…"

Tenma stared. He couldn't not stare. He was completely dumb-founded. He was stunned. He was flabbergasted. He… He couldn't even think about anything else besides being so shocked he was so shocked. He certainly couldn't begin to wrap his head around the fact that Hugo had bought himself a book that told him how to be more romantic. Speaking of which…

"Was that what you were reading this afternoon?"

Hugo averted his gaze. "Y-yes."

Unbeknownst to Tenma and Hugo (who was currently not looking at Tenma), Tenma was grinning like a big dumb dork in love.

"What did it tell you?"

Hugo sighed. "Well, the chapter I was reading told me what to do to be more loving."

"Like what?"

"…"

"Hugo, tell me."

"To offer to make dinner… and to clean up… and it told me to kiss my partner whenever I got the chance… but I didn't know about that…"

Partners! That's what they were. Tenma liked it. It wasn't as mushy gushy as lovers and it wasn't as juvenile as boyfriends. It was practical and realistic and described their relationship perfectly.

But still…Tenma couldn't help but erupt in a fit of suppressed chuckles.

"What are you laughing at?"

Tenma could detect just a small trace of something reproachful which was understandable. Here he was laughing at his honest attempts to be a better partner.

"I'm not laughing at you. It's just… You're really sweet at heart, you know?"

Hugo spluttered and if it wasn't so dark Tenma was pretty sure he would've seen that normally stony stoic face painted a nice shade of red.

He decided to continue before Hugo organized his thoughts enough to properly scold him for calling him something as incriminating as "sweet."

"Hugo, I really appreciate you actively trying to make me happy but you really don't have to go through so much trouble. I'm happy just knowing that you love me-"

Hugo cut him off. "But what's the point if I don't show you that I love you."

"But you do show me. Every day. You may not realize it but little things you do let me know that you do love me and that's enough for me. You don't have to push yourself to be any more 'romantic' or 'loving' than you already are…"

At the look of disbelief from his partner Tenma decided to clarify. "…but if you so choose I'd happily welcome any kind of 'romantic' displays of affection that you learn from that book."

"So kissing falls under that category?"

"Yes."

With that, Hugo cupped the side of Tenma's face with his hand and leaned in for their fourth ever kiss. Tenma really didn't need kisses to feel like he was loved, but still having the man you've hopelessly fallen for have his arms around you while sharing his bed while kissing you in such a way that lets you know he wouldn't trade you or any of the times you share together for anything else in the world… Tenma couldn't really think of an analogy to use at the moment because his mind was too pre-occupied with the fact that Hugo was in fact kissing him.

They pulled away from each other.

But Tenma didn't want a big gap between this kiss and the next one so he reached up and put his hand behind his partner's head to keep it in place as he leaned in and closed the gap himself.

When they pulled back, they stared at each other. Tenma had a goofy lop-sided grin on his face that made Hugo crack his own smile.

Tenma scooted a little so he was snuggled right up against Hugo. Both of them couldn't have been happier with their life or their relationship.

Tenma's eyes slowly fluttered shut as the weariness from the day's travel once again caught up to him. But as he drifted off to sleep with the feeling of Hugo's muscular hands running through his hair, Tenma never felt safer, or more at home in a long time. And he could only pray that life would continue to bless him.

Uhh... the end? Hoped you liked it *kissses*