Yao sat comfortably back against the futon, taking another sip of oolong tea as he took in the hanging silence that had swept itself over the room. He let out a long, satisfying sigh as the quiet seemed to soak into his body, relaxing all of his tense muscles and cleared his mind until it was rid of all his troubled thoughts. It was bliss. He couldn't remember how long since the last time he felt like this; days, weeks, years perhaps. Ever since his little brother Kiku began living with him again, the house was never quite as free and leisurely as it used to be. The raven kept his polite distance from his nii-sama, but for Yao, once in a while it would've been nice to not have that disgruntling feeling that there was another presence in the vicinity just waiting to butt into your personal, private life. In short, it was nice to be alone at times.

And lately, that's all he ever really was. For a while now, Kiku would frequently be out of the house for long periods of time. He would leave unannounced and would only return home after several hours, without uttering a word to his brother. In fact, Yao would sometimes wake up in the morning and the raven's bed would already be neatly made. Then in the middle of the night, he would hear the muffled creak of the door being opened slowly and the patter of hushed footsteps. Although Yao respected his little brother's privacy as the raven respected his, more than once did he question what exactly Kiku's motives were; where in this world would he go at such ludicrous hours, and why he never bothered to consult with his nii-sama about it.

Aiya... Why should I worry? the Chinese thought as he took another sip of his tea. He was always such an isolated, socially awkward country. Perhaps he's finally made some friends.

And suddenly his peaceful meditation was bluntly interrupted by the rasp of the door scraping open and the nonstop babbling of an unfortunate and all too familiar voice.

"Woah, dude! This place is like... way more totally rad on the inside, bro!"

"Ah, Alfred-san, please keep your voice down..." came the quiet, frantic reply of Yao's little brother.

"Aw, why?"

"I'm worried that Nii-sama might still be home..."

"Don't worry about your bro. After all, what's not to love about me, the hero?"

"Of course there is much to love about you, Alfred-san." Yao could've almost sworn he heard a trace of affection in Kiku's voice, and it almost frightened him.

There came a chuckle. Then Alfred asked, "So, you wanna, like, give me the household tour... but save your bedroom for last?"

Aiya... What?

"Uwah, don't make such erotic comments unannounced like that! Someone might still be here..."

"Aw, come on. You know you want to."

"Alfred-san!"

"You're cute when you're angry, you know. It's makes me want to - "

"Ah! A-Alfred-san... wh-what are you - " There was an abrupt gasp and the raven's voice was cut off.

Yao immediately sprang to his feet, accidentally knocking down the tea but taking no notice. He bolted towards the corridor, his fists tightly clenched, ready to punch that American bastard's mouth if he had inflicted any type of harm to his younger brother.

"What the hell is going on here, aru?" he hissed. "You better not be messing with... my... brother..." His voice trailed off with a wisp, and his jaw dropped.

Alfred's body was pressing so close against Kiku's, that the raven's back was forcibly pushed against the wall. The caramel-haired man's hands gently caressed the raven's surprised face, and he melded his lips with his, moving them together in a soft but passionate kiss.

Yao didn't know whether he made some kind of choking sound or not, because the two men suddenly broke apart. Kiku's coffee-brown eyes widened at the sight of his brother and almost instantly a pink blush rose to his cheeks. "N-nii-sama..."

"Yao! D-dude... what's up?" Even Alfred looked perpetually embarrassed at being caught making out with his long-time ally's little brother. He stammered feebly, "H-Haven't seen you in a while... You look... great."

"Likewise."

"Nii-sama, you're home early... I... I thought you had work today."

"I was home this whole time. Don't you remember saying good morning to me, aru?"

"Ah..." The redness in the raven's cheeks flushed even more to a deep crimson, and he suddenly had taken an interest in fiddling with the belt loops on his pants.

"So, Yao..." Alfred continued, in an attempt to strike up conversation to minimize the uncomfortable mood in the room. "It just so happened that Kiku and I coincidentallycame across each other on the street, and... and we started talking, see. Then I asked him how things were doing ever since the earthquake - since, y'know, he got into a pretty bad debt from that - and hey, what d'ya know, he offers me to check out his place to see for myself! Crazy, right? I know, couldn't believe it myself... Oh, by the way, the cherry blossom trees are just wonderful. Do they always bloom such a perfect shade of pink and white like that every year? That's awesome, dude! Just beautiful. Totally rad. Oh yeah, and guess what? The other day I met this fruit vendor who lives around here, and he was like - "

As Alfred rambled on and on about his meaningless adventures, the situation only seemed to get more and more pitiful in Yao's eyes. But even though he thought of Alfred to be a scatterbrained excuse of a country, he could see the minuscule, warm smile beginning to form on Kiku's lips through his red face, and the soft, endearing glow that pulsed in his brown eyes as he watched his partner blabber on. The affection his brother showed for the American only made Yao more exasperated, and so he heaved a big sigh.

Aiya... Of all the guys to bring home, why'd you have to choose this loudmouth, aru?

"...Down the hall, aru."

Alfred's chatter stopped. "What?"

"Down the hall, to your right."

"Nii...sama?"

"There's... a bedroom there, aru."

"Eh?" was both Kiku's and Alfred's reply.

"Don't forget to close the door. I'll be in the living room. And -" Yao added over his shoulder as he shuffled away. "...use protection, okay?"

He left the two with baffled looks and gaping mouths. Then Alfred grabbed Kiku's hand and spoke excitedly, "Well, you heard the hermit. Let's go~!"

"Ah, A-Alfred-san! Are you... maybe we shouldn't..."

The caramel-haired man gave the raven a quick peck on the lips. "It's okay. We don't have to if you don't want to. I just... I'm glad your brother's okay with our... our feelings for each other. Because... because I really do love you, Kiku..."

"Alfred-san..." Kiku blinked, and this time it was he who planted the kiss. "I... I love you too." And he added in a serious tone, "Hai, I think I will take up on your offer then." He reached for both of Alfred's hands and guided him down the hall and to the right. It was followed by the sound of a door slowly creaking shut.

Only then did Yao relax just the slightest bit. He suddenly felt drained of energy. That took up quite a bit of my stamina, the dark-haired man mused to himself.

But... I hope Kiku ends up happy with that man.

He returned to the living room, only to let out a long string of unnamed Chinese curses at seeing the spilled oolong tea already soaking into the expensive mahogany of the table; something he'd completely forgotten in his haste to rescue Kiku, when he thought he was being harmed by Alfred. However, even as he fetched a cloth to clean up the mess, his mind and ears kept flitting back to the room down the hall, and before he even noticed, he was straining to hear what sort of "activity" was ensuing inside those walls.

...Maybe I should go for a walk, aru.