A/N: I'm not too sure about this one. But since it's a birthday fic, all that really matters is that the person I wrote it for likes it. :)
They couldn't come out completely on top every time. As tough as they were, there had to be someone out there who could put up a fair fight and it had been only a matter of time before they met up.
It had been brutal, a fight that wouldn't end until one of them was on the ground. A meth dealer angry at his profits being blown up had challenged the duo, and they had- perhaps foolishly, though they couldn't be blamed for underestimating this man- had accepted.
They'd been stunned and nearly panicked when the dealer had shown up with a dozen other fighters, all much better than any opponent they'd faced before and with a multitude of weapons at their disposal. Versus Kato it would have been rough but doable, but with Britt, who was still reckless to the point that he was a liability instead of an asset, Kato had quickly realized that there was no chance of them walking away from the fight unscathed. That was where the trouble started.
Kato started to shout at Britt to be careful, not to focus on being flashy and to just fight, only to find a knife inches away from him. He maneuvered away just a second too late and received a stab wound to his right shoulder for his trouble. Britt was still surrounded by challengers of his own; this group hadn't gotten the word that Kato was the real threat, not the Green Hornet himself, and so were rushing him instead.
Grunting in pain, Kato knocked the dealer off his feet and pinned him. The dealer kicked out from under him and grabbed his injured arm, and, resisting Kato's attempts to escape, twisted his wrist until Kato felt an agonizing snap. Despite the pain that almost made him black out, Kato managed to get the upper hand and knock the man's head against the floor, rendering him unconscious. Then he rushed to Britt's aid, the combo of his marital arts skill- even with one essentially useless arm, the adrenaline allowed him to remain a more than competent fighter- and Britt's gas gun quickly overpowering them.
"Let's get out of here," Kato ground out once the last of the dealer's fighters were down. The sick, pulsating pain in his shoulder and wrist were overwhelming, and he wanted nothing more than to go home and drink himself to a pain-free sleep
He felt strangely weak and lightheaded, and he felt a sudden need to lie down. He closed his eyes and leaned against a wall, trying but failing to look nonchalant.
"What happened, Kato?" Britt asked, alarmed.
"Nothing," Kato lied, but the lie quickly unraveled once he took a step and staggered. The adrenaline had started to wear off, leaving him uncompensated for the injuries.
"Kato, man, I think you should go to the doctor," Britt insisted. "Nothing ever fazes you. If you're this bad, it has to be serious."
"I'm fine, Britt!" Kato snapped. He pushed himself off the wall, only to have his knees give out from under him. Britt caught him an instant before he hit the floor.
"This isn't all there blood, is it?" Britt asked, looking at Kato's blood soaked shirt.
"Leave me alone, Britt, I just want to go home!" Kato snapped.
"When I got shot, I went to the hospital. Come on, man, your pride isn't more important than your life," Britt said.
"That was different. You were shot," Kato protested.
"Yeah, and you were stabbed. So?" Britt said. "They're both just as bad."
"Since when are you the voice of reason?" Kato asked. "If you'd acted like this before, I wouldn't have-"
"Come on, Kato!" Britt retorted. "Man, you always…" He trailed off. "Look, when I was shot, you told me we were xiongdi forever. Brothers. And brothers annoy each other, but when it comes to it they always take care of each other. Right?"
Kato sighed. It did make sense. And it also made sense of Britt's sudden maturity: even an immature younger brother could grow up a bit if their dear older brother was in danger. Not that he thought he was in danger, but Britt clearly did.
Kato didn't have the strength to argue anymore. He felt his vision start to grey as the blood continued rushing out from the wound.
"Fine, we'll talk about this later," Kato conceded.
"Okay. I'll drive," Britt said, moving to steady him. He set an arm under Kato's shoulder and started to guide him to the Black Beauty.
"Since when do I let you drive?" Kato asked, the words sounding harsher than he intended. "Sorry-"
"I'll get you back later," Britt said, grinning. They started to walk, or at least, Kato tried to.
"Britt," Kato gasped, knees buckling. Britt's voice faded to a vague roar. He couldn't tell what was being said to him, didn't register anything that was happening.
His vision went dark and he lost control of his muscles, causing his body to become limp. Everything faded into the void of unconsciousness.
When Kato awoke, it was to see two familiar figures sleeping in plastic chairs surrounding his bed. He blinked, taking in the ceiling and antiseptic smell that could only mean hospital.
A faint smile formed as Kato watched Britt and Lenore sleep. Britt was almost sideways in his chair and was facing the television; clearly he'd tried to watch to stay awake but had gotten the opposite result. Lenore looked much the same, her chin resting in her hand and a magazine in the other.
"They really do care, who knew?" Kato thought. He knew they had to care at least a little, but to see that it went this far was touching. It had been so long since he'd felt cared for like this.
"Uhm…" Kato cleared his throat, then trailed off. He wanted to get their attention but wasn't quite sure how. "Britt? Lenore?"
They finally jolted awake, looking at him for a moment before realization set in.
"Kato, man! You're finally awake!" Britt said. "With how long you were asleep, I thought you might as well have gotten hit with the gas gun!"
"Britt!" Lenore hissed. "You do not go around acting like you know about the Green Hornet's MO!"
"Oh, sorry." Britt shuffled awkwardly.
"How long was I out?" Kato asked, curious.
"12 hours," Lenore said. "The doctors told us to expect that with your blood loss. Britt still was panicky after a while, though. And I started worrying, too."
"Well, it's okay now," Kato said, unable to think of anything else to say.
Silence fell again.
"Well, I should let you sleep. Even if you're recovering, stab wounds can't just be shrugged off," Lenore said, standing up. "Britt, don't keep him up too long." She left the room.
"Britt?" Kato asked, once the door had shut.
"Yeah?" Britt responded.
Kato frowned, trying to phrase his question. "Why did you act like… Like you did when I was hurt?"
Britt sighed. "I don't know, man. I was afraid."
Kato raised his eyebrows. He never thought he'd hear Britt say that. "Afraid of what, exactly?"
Britt averted his gaze. "When I was shot, I just realized that we could die doing this. I still like it, because it's awesome, but I came close and I guess I thought you wouldn't be so lucky. Especially since you always try to seem tough. You are but you aren't immortal, you know."
Kato frowned. He hadn't bothered to think that there was more to Britt's recovery from the gunshot than just the physical part. "Are you afraid of dying?" he asked.
Britt thought for a long moment. "I am, but I'm more afraid of…" he trailed off, shaking his head. "Never mind."
Kato wouldn't have minded leaving it at that. He was still tired and in a bit of pain, and he would have been fine going back to sleep and leaving it for another time. But something within him demanded answers. "Afraid of what?" he pressed.
"Look, man, it's nothing," Britt snapped. "You need to sleep. I'm out of here. Night, Kato." He stood and left, ignoring Kato's requests for him to come back.
Two days later, Kato was released from the hospital. Britt and Lenore drove up in one of the other cars Britt had inherited from his father. Kato signed the release papers and let the nurses wheel him out, then struggled to the car.
He fell asleep on the ride over and slept the instant he got to his bedroom, too. When his strength finally returned, he cornered Britt near the swimming pool.
"Britt," Kato said, "What's going on with you?"
Britt shook his head. "Nothing."
"Come on, Britt, just say it!" Kato prodded, stepping closer to him.
"Okay, fine," Britt said angrily. "If you'll get off my case. I was just afraid of what might happen if you died, okay?"
Kato swallowed and thought. It did make sense, though. What would the Green Hornet be without his nameless sidekick?
And now that he thought about it, what would the nameless sidekick be without the Green Hornet? Even if he did most of the work, the Green Hornet was still needed to draw the criminal's attention as well as the police's.
"I don't want you to die, either," Kato mumbled.
"It…" Britt started, then shook his head. He bit his lip as he chose his next words. "We're xiongdi forever, right?"
"Of course," Kato said.
"What would you say if it wasn't just that, though, Kato?" Britt asked.
"How do you mean?" Kato asked, confused.
"Like…" Britt paused again. Then he moved forward and kissed Kato's lips, quickly, before sitting back down.
Oh. Like that.
"Umm…" Kato was stunned. He had thought about this, he had to admit, but knowing Britt was thinking it too was bizarre.
He thought long and hard. This wasn't something he could just agree to lightly, he knew. It would mean so many changes for him and Britt both. Not to mention the fact that he and Britt would argue just as much, if not more, than ever.
But then again, hadn't they been heading here since they'd met? They'd always tiptoed the line between friends and friends. He remembered the day Britt had introduced him to the staff at the Daily Sentinel, remembered all their nights getting drunk together and telling each other life stories. That had all happened a little too quickly for them to be just friends, and there was only so long they could kid themselves with the "just brothers" idea.
"Then I guess you'd be my qingren instead," Kato said finally.
"What's that mean?" Britt asked, sounding a little nervous.
Kato leaned forward, setting his face inches from Britt's. "It means," he said, leaning in.
He kissed Britt's lips, light but still firm. "It means, lover."
Their lips met again.