I don't know where this even came from... All I know is that the world needs more of these two, because they're adorable and wear matching sweaters.

Don't own Nabari.

What It Means

"Uh... boss... I was wondering if you could tell me... what it means to be in love."

Tojuro Hattori looked with surprise at the dark-haired sixteen-year-old across the table. Gau's gaze was firmly fixed on the ground, and his hands were rigid fists in his lap. He was blushing furiously.

Carefully, Hattori set his teacup down on the table. "Meguro-kun... What would give you cause to ask a question like that?"

Gau jumped. "U-um, no reason!" he said hastily. "I was- was just wondering, um... being in love... how can you tell? How do you know if what you feel is love, or if you just respect that person and owe them your life? Because, uh, what is love? Boss, I-"

"My, my," interrupted Ichiki, the sleeve of her kimono barely concealing a smile. "It seems as though our little Gau has developed feelings for a certain someone!"

Gau's blush deepened. "N-no, it's not like that-!" He tried to stand up and knocked the low table, sending the teacup flying. It shattered with a musical tinkle. Gau gulped in embarrassment. "Aah! S-sorry, sir!" Frantically, he glanced around for something to mop up the mess.

Looking displeased but resigned, Hattori got to his feet. "No matter, Meguro-kun. In answer to your questions, I believe you'll find a more adequate response if you ask your colleagues." The dismissal in his words was clear.

"Ah! Y-yes, sir! Sorry, sir!" Gau stammered out, turning tail and wishing thoroughly that he had thought before asking such an embarrassing question.

"Bahahahahahahahaha! Oh, you gotta be kiddin' me! This is freakin' priceless!"

"I-it's not funny, Yukimi-senpai!" snapped Gau, a bright shade of scarlet. "I'm serious!"

Yukimi calmed down enough to wipe a genuine tear of mirth out of his eye. "Listen, Temper-kun, every one of us knows about your little crush on Raikou-san, but this is just one step too far..."

In a moment, Gau thought he might hit Yukimi. "I don't- I don't know what you're talking about, chicken-head! This has nothing to do with Raikou-sama!"

"There he goes with the '-sama' again..." Yukimi rolled his eyes, leaning back on his chair. "You got it bad, kid."

"Aww, shut up, nii-san!" said Kazuho. She propped herself up by her elbows over the sushi counter. "I think it's cute!"

While Gau appreciated the support, he did not appreciate being termed 'cute' for something that was completely untrue, irrelevant, and a figment of their wild imaginations. "It is not! A-and I want your honest opinions on this! I want to..." He lowered his eyes. "...I want to know what being in love feels like!"

"Overrated," Yukimi offered. He grinned and ruffled Gau's hair. "Now quit it, wouldja? Man up - or at least stop askin' girly questions!"

Gau cringed away. "Yukimi-senpai!"

"Nii-san!" Kazuho said reproachfully.

"Okay, fine." Yukimi held up his hands. He scratched his head. "Listen, Temper-kun... ya want my real opinion? Well... It's a seriously complicated thing, y'know? I mean, it's a waste of freakin' time if ya ask me... Like, take the Nabari world as opposed to the outside world. Two halves of the same coin, yeah? Well, if ya think of that as kinda like-"

"-Hey, Kazuho-san, you're married," said Gau, turning away from Yukimi.

"...Why'd you even ask me if you're just gonna ignore my advice?" Yukimi growled. "Stupid short-fuse."

Teeth bared in a devilish smile, Gau turned to him. "Oh, sorry, Yukimi-senpai, I just wasn't aware that you were capable of feeling something like love."

"What? Kid, you don't know anything."

"So is there someone?"

"Don't be stupid."

"Ooh, nii-chan likes someone!" squealed Kazuho, prodding him conspiritorially over the counter. "C'mon, spill!"

"Shut up," Yukimi grunted. "And don't call me 'nii-chan'." He glanced at Gau. "Listen, like I said, it's sorta complicated, and we're talkin' about your problems with Raikou-san right now anyway, so it doesn't matter."

The scarlet flush reintroduced itself to Gau's face. "I don't have a problem with Raikou-san, I told you!"

"Yeah," agreed Yukimi, "and that is your problem. You freakin' worship the guy like he's some kinda god or somethin'. 'Raikou-sama!'" he mimicked, making his voice cruelly high-pitched. "'I can't wait 'til you get back! Lemme cook you dinner and do all your paperwork! I can't live without you, Raikou-sama! I loo-ooo-oove you, Rai-' hey, short-fuse, where're ya goin'?"

Kazuho shook her head as the door slammed. "Now you've done it, nii-san."

Yoite looked up in surpise from where he had been hunched on the floor. "...You want to ask me about love?"

Gau nodded eagerly. "Um, yeah! I just want to know if you've experienced love, and, well... what was it like?"

In answer, Yoite clasped his hands around his knees and stared broodily out of the door. "Love," he said softly. "No, I have never experienced love, nor do I wish to. I am not truly alive, so to have another person love me would only be a kindness... one which I cannot hope to return. For what is love at all but an unpaid debt between two people? It's those sorts of relationships which I can't afford..."

It was at this point that Gau started backing away, half-expecting Yoite to start spouting Hamlet.

He liked the guy and everything... but he could be a bit intense.

"Love?" Shijima stared at Gau blankly and tapped a corner of his mouth, thinking hard. "Isn't that when a man and a woman-"

"-No, Shijima!" Blushing, Kouichi slapped a hand across Shijima's mouth before she could finish. "I don't think that's the sort of love Gau's talking about! I think he's trying to ask about... you know... him and Raikou...?"

"Oh." Understanding cleared Shijima's expression. "So Gau-kun wants to do love to Shimizu-kun, is that it?"

By this stage, Gau was on the verge of collapse and/or severe nosebleed from the unwarranted mental image Shijima's words had conjured up. "I... what... no... that..." was all that he could splutter out.

On top of everything else, Shijima's grammar was atrocious.

"N-no!" said Kouichi, mortified. "I think maybe you should keep out of this conversation." He pushed her to the side and gave Gau a weak smile. "Now, uh... what was it you were saying?"

Fighting to keep his thoughts at bay - not that they were even there, of course, because he was definitely just asking everyone these questions out of curiosity and not because his mind seemed to want to plague him with thoughts of Raikou in- "Eek!"

"Sorry?" said Kouichi.

"Um, nothing! I mean, well- um, damn it!" Why was he having such difficulty with speech today? And for some reason his blood was finding his face a good place to be at this particular moment. "What I wanted to say was-"

"I don't need the Izuna Shingan to be able to tell that he's having what a human might call 'dirty' thoughts," Shijima pointed out, poker-faced and smug.

Gau thought that this moment might be a good one to choose to take his leave.

"If you want to hear about love, then you've come to the right place!"

Gau wasn't sure that he liked having his cheeks pinched as though he were about three, but he was sure that he liked all of the food that Kumohira's girlfriend kept giving him, so he didn't complain.

"Eh... Hana... you sure about this?" Kumohira was leaning against the door-frame with arms folded and an expression of distrust firmly attached to his face.

Gau rolled his his eyes. "I've already told you I'm not a shinobi."

The glower didn't slip for a moment. "You're still Kairoshuu."

"Oh, shush, Tobari, look at the little guy!" said Hana brightly. She looked about half a second away from squealing like a fangirl. "Now... hmm... Shall we tell him the story about how we met? The one with the kanji and the bonito flakes?"

Kumohira went crimson and scowled. "I don't like that story," he muttered.

"Only 'cause your Japanese was terrible back then!"

So quickly he nearly choked, Gau swallowed a mouthful of rice. "Oh- yes, please!" he said eagerly. Then he stopped, flushing. "I mean, um... Well, when did you realise that you, uh..."

"Loved each other?" said Hana offhandly, phrasing what wouldn't come out of Gau's mouth with ease. She cast a thoughtful look at Kumohira, who was still an embarrassed red. "Well, I don't know about Tobari, but here never really was a moment for me... I guess it just sort of happened." She looked at Gau and smiled. "These things sort of do, huh?"

Gau stared down at his lap. His thoughts were absolutely and categorically not heading in Raikou's direction. Nope, absolutely not, and anyone who said otherwise was obviously a bit soft in the head.

Just kind of happened, huh...?

Because this was just research, after all, and nothing more.

"...This is about Raikou-san, right?" said Miharu, before Gau had even opened his mouth. As Raimei let out a scandalised gasp, Miharu continued in the same deadpan, "I just had a feeling."

Gau could swear that he saw tiny devil wings sprouting out of that kid's back.

"Wh-what are you talking about, Miharu-kun?" he said, waving his hands frantically in an effort to hide how much they were shaking. "Actually, I haven't thought about Raikou all day!"

"Yeah. Okay. That's cool. I totally believe you."

Man, he was evil.

Meanwhile, Raimei was having a miniature breakdown. "Aargh! You like nii-sama! I knew it! I totally, totally knew it! But you know, listen, Gau, if you're gonna marry into the Shimizu family, there are a few things that you've got to take into consideration..."

"What? No! Who said anything about- Raimei-san!" protested Gau, but he was interrupted by the devil incarnate.

"Yeah, Raimei-san," Miharu agreed. "It's gone way beyond marriage. Aren't you going to help them name their fourth kid?"

Okay. just because Miharu was the possessor of the Shinra Banshou didn't mean Gau was above strangling him.

And why did everyone automatically assume that-

Oh, never mind.

"This- this isn't about that at all! I mean, not that there is a 'that'!" he objected hotly, red in the face for what was possibly the hundreth time that day. "What I wanted to ask you both was... was what you know about love!"

Miharu and Raimei looked at him.

...Okay, that had sounded embarrassing.

"...Well, of course I know about love," said Miharu eventually. He took Raimei's arm. "I love Raimei," he said blandly.

"Whu-!" Both Raimei and Gau's mouths dropped open.

"Yeah. I've always loved Raimei," said Miharu. "But you know what? I admire her so much that I can't even talk to her like a normal person. Isn't that stupid?" His expression didn't waver in the slightest as he looked at Gau. "But, hey, no big deal."

It was only later that Gau understood what Miharu was implying about his situation.

Not that he had a situation, damn it!

"...Idiot. What was that for?" said Raimei afterwards.

Miharu tipped his head innocently and made a dog shape out of his right hand. "What was what for?"

Often, Gau wondered why he always cooked wearing a flowery pink apron. Oftener still he wondered why Raikou's choice of casual clothing when he returned from work was a stinging yellow dressing gown with little sparkles.

Usually, the only answer that he could come up with for either of those questions was that Raikou liked it.

However, today Gau's mind was on much more pressing matters as he served up their omelettes.

Number one: He really wanted Raikou's opinion on the 'love' matter.

Number two: That felt like enroaching on Raikou's personal space, and the last thing Gau wanted to do was make Raikou uncomfortable.

Number three: He had asked just about everyone else about it, so what harm would it do to ask Raikou, too? It didn't have anything to do with him, after all...

"Gau, are you alright?" Raikou said suddenly. "You've been standing there with the frying pan for the last five minutes..."

"Ack!" Gau came to his senses just in time to prevent a catastrophe involving the omelettes and a smell of distinct burning. "I'm sorry, Raikou-san!"

"No need to apologise," replied Raikou mildly.

"Um, r-right." Gau took a deep breath. Should he ask him? Should he not ask him? Where was the line? Was he about to overstep it? "Raikou-san..."


Gau paused a moment while he transferred the omelettes to his and Raikou's plates. "I was just wondering... have you ever been in love?"

There it was. Laid out.

It was a very long time before Raikou answered - so long, in fact, that Gau started having an internal panic attack, afraid that he'd somehow offended him. When he finally spoke, Gau had wound himself up so much wondering how to apologise that he almost missed it.

"...Yes, I think I have."

Quickly, Gau caught himself. "You have?"

"Yes." Raikou picked up a piece of omelette and stared it for a while before eating it. "Have you?"

Well, that was a new one. Gau hadn't been expecting that at all, and fora moment he wasn't sure how to answer. "U-um, I'm not sure..." he admitted. "That's why I was asking. I... yeah. It's kind of silly." He forced a laugh, scratching the back of his neck self-consciously.

But Raikou just looked intently at him. "No, go on."

Suddenly, Gau found that he couldn't meet Raikou's gaze, and his eyes fell instead to his untouched meal. "I..." He stopped. "I want to know what the difference is between friendship and love," he blurted out. Then he felt exceedingly stupid and wished that there was some way to take the words back - but it was too late, they were out there now.

Raikou gave him a curious look. "Oh, I see," he said. And then, abruptly, "Gau, I love someone."

"Oh, y-you do?" said Gau, startled. He forced himself not to feel disappointed - why would he be, after all? There was no reason for him to be disappointed, no reason at all.

"What do you suppose I should do about it?"

Gau's surprise was marred by a surge of pride that Raikou should ask his opinion on such a serious matter. "Um, well... you should tell them, I guess."

"Really?" Raikou leaned forwards across their small table. "But what if they don't love me?"

Gau didn't even have to think twice about his answer. "Who couldn't love you?" he murmured without even realising, and then he realised what he had just said and blushed furiously.

But Raikou simply smiled. "I'm glad you think that way," he said quietly.

And that was when Gau noticed just how how close Raikou was and how his mind appeared to have stopped cooperating with his body and he couldn't think because there was so much Raikou so near and he smelled so nice and he was so close and-

-and then Raikou was kissing him and Gau's brain stopped functioning altogether.

And he forgot to pretend that he wasn't in love with him.

When they broke apart, Gau was sure that his whole world had gone topsy-turvy and was going to explode, because now Raikou was blushing.

"...Sorry, Gau," he said.

For a moment, Gau had a rare second of being at a loss for words. "What?" he said eventually, a slow anger boiling in his stomach to replace the shock. "Why are you... sorry?"

A past Gau would have never dared speak like that to his beloved Raikou-sama, but hey, everything seemed to be going insane today.

"You think you need to apologise? For that? You think you need to apologise for anything, Raikou-san? You don't, especially to me, and you should know that! Because... because..." Gau bit his lip, fists clenched. "...Because I swear I will love everything you do, Raikou-san...!"

Raikou's eyes were round, stunned. "Gau..." he breathed softly.

"What, you thought I didn't enjoy that? I mean, I know I shouldn't have, since you already told me you love someone else, but still, I-"

"Wait, what did you say?" interrupted Raikou. He still looked slightly astonished. "Gau... I told you I loved someone."

Gau stared at him, not seeing it. "Yeah..." he said slowly.

"It's not just any someone, Gau."

"Uh... Is it someone that I know...?" asked Gau, bemused.

"Gau!" Raikou almost laughed. Swiftly, he moved over to Gau's side of the table, took both of his hands, and simply kissed him again.

Somewhere in the middle of that kiss, Gau got it.

"...Oh," he said sheepishly a little later. "Right."

Raikou didn't answer, but just smiled. He didn't let go of Gau's hands.

Gau thought he might have finally found the difference between friendship and love.

Because he wasn't even going to deny any more that his thoughts were all over Raikou.