Title: Patience
Author: Hawk Clowd
Disclaimer: Gravitation is the creative property of one Maki Murakami, and she's welcome to it. All I ask is the opportunity to play around with 'em a little bit.
Blood Type: Hot cocoa.
Warnings: A quick bit of blood.
Author's Notes: I wrote this a while ago and, upon re-reading it, decided it was salvageable. I hope you enjoy it!



Mika sighed and brushed hair out of her eyes, reaching around Shuichi to help him wield the chopping knife. She took hold of his wrist and moved it out of the blade's way. Once his fingers weren't in any danger, she moved the leeks and guided his other hand to cut them properly.

"Like this," she urged. "Do it slowly. All right?"

"Mn!" Shuichi said, beaming. She took her hands away and he continued cutting - very, very slowly.

From his spot leaning against the wall, Eiri let out a derisive noise. "This is just a waste of your time."

"I'll decide that for myself," she countered, moving to fill a pot with water.

"And she's a much better teacher than you," Shuichi said, tossing Eiri a grin.

Mika glanced over to him. "Pay attention," she snapped. "You nearly cut off your hand." She set the pot on the stove to boil and looked to her younger brother again. "And just for your information, all it takes is a little bit of patience, Eiri."

"And the hospital on speed dial," he muttered, digging through his pockets. When Mika saw the cigarette pack appear in his hand, she shot him a glare and cast a meaningful look to the other room, where her infant son was sleeping on Eiri's couch. He pretended not to see the glare, but re-pocketed the cigarettes anyway.

"I'm running out of leek room!"

Mika moved to stand behind Shuichi again, and reached around him to press on the end of the root with her fingertips. "Slowly," she reminded him.

Shuichi bit his lip, pausing in his cutting entirely. "I don't want to cut you, though, so... Maybe we should just use another one."

"There's still plenty left to cut on this one." She put her free hand over his, guiding his slices again. "We shouldn't waste what's left."

He looked doubtful. "I guess..." Still, he continued, moving everywhere she led. When they finished that particular leek, she got him started on the next.

Eiri snorted. "This is going to take forever."

"It used to take you a long time, too," she reminded him.

"I was nine." He moved past her to the refrigerator and took out a beer, substituting one vice for another, and then returned to his spot at the wall. "Don't get so close to him when you do this. You might catch something."

"I'm not sick," Shuichi piped in.

Eiri's lips pulled down into the start of a sneer. "You could still infect her with stupid, moron."

Mika rolled her eyes, returning to her pot and, seeing the rolling boil, turning down the heat. "I think maybe you're the moron, Eiri."

"He's enjoying this too much," Eiri muttered, casting a glare at Shuichi's back.

Getting the idea that he hadn't intended her to hear that, Mika didn't reply. Instead, she went to check on Shuichi's slicing, turning away from her brother. She nodded approvingly and reached around Shuichi to correct his grip on the knife. This time, because she was paying attention to it, she didn't miss the way Shuichi leaned a little closer than was necessary, or the singer's tiny, barely-there pause before he went back to the leeks. Mika glanced over her shoulder at Eiri, who looked pointedly away, and bit back a smile. Eiri was jealous? That was rich.

And ridiculous. Really, Shuichi was probably just enjoying the attention, and even if it was something more than that, it was probably minor. This was probably the closest the singer had been to breasts since his mother had weaned him, and what hot-blooded young man didn't take advantage of that when he could?

Nonetheless, Mika took advantage of her brother's irrational jealousy just a moment longer before she moved away. Eiri glowered at her back the whole time, and Mika was silently grateful Tohma wasn't around. Her husband had made a hobby out of removing things that made Eiri unhappy, and Mika was loathe to become one of the things that needed removing.

Still, Eiri's possessiveness was adorable. He'd been that way with his things as child, too, and it was nice to see a hint of the old Eiri now and then. Mika was glad for it, even if -

In the other room, the baby cried and Mika knew what would happen before it did: startled, Shuichi jumped and sliced open the palm of his hand, then dropped the knife by his feet and jumped back, putting himself in danger of maiming his foot as well. She surged forward, intent to do something about it, but - to her surprise - Eiri was already there, kneeling and clamping down on Shuichi's ankle to keep the singer from stepping on the knife and reaching for a cloth with his free hand. Once the knife was out of the way, Eiri straightened and took Shuichi's hand in his, examined the wound, and then pressed the cloth against it. He wordlessly led Shuichi, who wasn't crying so much as apologizing tearfully, to the other room, where the baby was still crying.

Mika cast a glance around the kitchen to make sure nothing would be left the worse for being left alone, and followed them. Her first priority was of course her son, but once he had stopped crying, she turned her attention back to Eiri. He had taken a seat on the other end of the couch, sitting far back so that the singer had room to sit in front of him, and was reaching around the brat, much as Mika had done in the kitchen, to clean and bandage his hand. And, just as she hadn't missed the way Shuichi had briefly leaned against her, she didn't miss the way Eiri leaned against him, or how her brother lingered when touching the singer's palm, or the way the closeness of it all seemed to pacify Shuichi, even in spite of the blood and the bandages.

Suddenly, Shuichi's begging her to teach him to cook so "Yuki would maybe love him a little" seemed all the more ridiculous, and Mika sighed, shaking her head. She stood, baby still in her arms, and started to gather her things.

The movement caught Shuichi's attention, and his head snapped up. He nearly clocked Eiri in the process, but her brother managed to lean backward enough to avoid any head trauma. "Where are you going?"

"It's getting late," Mika reasoned. "And besides, Eiri can handle it from here. Can't you, Eiri?"

Her brother frowned. "What the hell are you -"

"It just takes patience," she reminded them both, and before either could reply, she was out the door.