Title: Warm Me Up
Words: 9, 112 (Long update is long)
Other: Unbeta'd. I think I might've confused Mikhail and Mikage's name once in here. Translations at the end. And some good'ol Angst/Comfort up in here :d
A/N: LOVE ME, MY MINIONS! LOVE ME! I BRING YOU YOUR MANNA!
Frau was pacing. He was pacing and he couldn't stop. Shuri and Razette had taken over the television, playing against each other in one game or another. Hakuren was reading some manga he found stashed with the comic books, while Labrador built multi-colored structures with the Legos he found in a bucket half-hidden by a stack of board games. Castor all put slept on one of the couches, long legs hanging over the edge. And Frau was wearing out a trail in the carpet.
"Can you stop doing that, Frau," Hakuren muttered from his spot on a beanbag chair next to the bookshelves, around him were the many volumes of the title he was reading. "You're making me anxious and he's not even my boyfriend."
"Teito is not my boyfriend."
"Yes, he is," the boys chorused, though from Castor it sounded more like "Yeh, hee ahs."
"Why are you guys even here?"
"Hey!" Hakuren glared from over the pages of his manga. "I was asked by Teito's bestest friend ever to come check up on him. I dragged Shuri 'cause, well, I didn't want to walk home alone."
"He's scared of the dark," the older Oak informed Razette as she made her character throw Shuri's across the screen. "Dammit! You won't get away with that, Pinkie."
The girl merely hummed a taunting little hymn.
"Your mom is scared of the dark. I just don't like it. I'm adorable – the perfect target for rapist and serial killers; Shuri's just cannon fodder."
"I came along because I'd thought it would be fun." Labrador revealed his crown made of Legos, placing it delicately on his head and moving on to make a scepter. "And you asked Castor for a ride. Razette's here because it'd be rude for us to come and not invite her. Plus, she likes Teito too. I do not know why you ask."
Frau rubbed a hand against his temple, and had to forcefully move himself away from the door. He dropped himself onto the cushioned bench by the windows, spotting the sun high above the horizon. His leg jittered with nerves so he stood up and walked the perimeter of the room, twice.
"For the love of—" Castor dragged himself up into a haphazard sitting position, sleepy amber eyes glaring daggers at the blond. "Frau, look at me."
Frau shook his head at first, though with a stern "Look at me, Frau" he did so, albeit unenthusiastically.
"Okay. Are you looking at me?" The blond nodded. "Stop acting. Like a. Psychopath. Okay?" He left off with an obviously false chipper tone and threw himself back onto his designated couch pointedly. Meaning: not to be disturbed.
Frau muttered something in a darkly rush of German, stalking towards the lone table at the far window and dropping himself into the seat provided. As he was still bored, and yes, nervous, he took the colored pencils left behind, a scrap of paper from a sketchbook that had seen better days, and began to doodle.
At first, it was just hard scratches with cornflower blue, and then the lines curved, expanded and exploded across the page. He picked up another pencil without looking, a dark goldenrod, and underscored the blue. A dark candy apple red followed, feather-light against the thick sheet, little flicks of tongue, flittering leaves, slices of apple, the flickering tail of a bird. His bird. His purring, baby bird with a sleek metallic pearl finish, spark black underbelly. He added those colors too, putting them against one another, twin dragons circling and snapping, baring gleaming fangs and snaking tongues.
It was all lost then.
Colors blurred and swooped in chaos: green snakes snapping at golden lions with manes made of orange sun, blue stars bursting against the shattered brilliance of a mauve comet. Yellow waves showered fat raindrops against a ravenous black dog that circled the edges of its confinement. After him, a golden cat followed, leaving an ochre trail of dead little mice.
The quiet rush of breath startled Frau's heart into his throat, his entire body jerking back into consciousness too quickly that the saffron pencil in his hand snapped in half from the force of his tightened fist.
"'is an angel, right?"
Diamond-blue eyes glanced up from dusty blond eyelashes, stealthily dropping the broken pencil in a small bucket teetering with paintbrushes. Teito didn't notice. His eyes were busily tracing the different colors and lines, connecting stars to make a design. His nose was red, brightly so against the pasty color his healthy tan had turned into. His hair was a flop of mess as if it hadn't seen a comb in days, sticking up in amusing flicks. There was heavy bruising under his eyes, though they still shone bright and clear like jade stones.
Or, at least Frau thought so.
"Ah, angel?" The blond brought his attention to the scrap of paper he was doodling on, trying and failing to find the lines that would form anything resembling an angel. "Where?"
"'ee, 'ere the 'urple fans out?"
"…no. I used purple?"
"'eally? Look—" Teito spun the paper around so Frau, essentially, looked at it upside down. He sniffed lightly, and held back a sneeze as he brushed a finger over the sweep of dark lavender. "Wings."
"Oh, shit." Frau chuckled, now following the golden that composed a spear, blue and red that formed something of a face, the grey and white of a robe. "I thought I was drawin' a dinosaur."
"You got a weird tech—" Teito braced a fist against his nose, fighting and winning against a sneeze. "Technique."
"Nah," Frau picked up a slate blue pencil and began connecting the dots. "I just don't really pay attention to the colors I use. Most of the time it ends up lookin' like kindergartner scribbles."
"'eres skill there, Frau. You jus' need to learn the rules before you break 'em."
"Now you sound like my freshman art teacher."
"'ats Mikhail's," Teito waved to the beat-up sketchbook on the table. "'e can teach you if you ask."
"I don't think your butler likes me very much."
"'e likes you." Pause. "I think."
Some color and life came into Teito's cheeks, and the blush spread to his head, causing him to sway in place at the sudden rush of blood. He blinked reflexive tears and muted his coughs in his chest. The effort shook his small frame, and the boy hunched into himself in a vain attempt to keep the pain at a minimum.
Across the table, Frau sighed inaudibly. He wanted to smile, but knew it was probably an inappropriate reaction at the moment. He should not be finding Teito looking like death warmed over adorable. That was probably not a healthy.
A healthy reaction, the blond surmised, was to pull off his own sweater, remove the distance between them, and help the boy into the warm article of clothing. Which he did, and Frau allowed himself a grin at how drenched Teito was in his hooded sweatshirt. The sleeves rolled well past his fingertips, the collar hung loose around his neck, and the hem hit a point above his knees.
"Aww," Frau cooed, mercilessly ruffling the brunet's already disheveled mop of hair. "You look like kiddy tryin' on daddy's clothes."
"I can break all 'eh fingers in your hand wi'out exerting much effort, Frau." His threat was ruined by his sniffles.
"Should you really be out of bed?" Frau asked instead of responding, his fingers now carding and petting down the young teen's wild hair. Teito, in turn, leaned into the touch like a cat desperate for affection, head turning and nuzzling into the flat, hard stretch of Frau's abdomen. "You look like shit."
"See if I ev'r treat you nicely 'en you get sick, asshole," he muttered against cloth warmed by skin, smelling fresh of laundry detergent.
Frau grinned down to the boy, and once he was certain that he wouldn't see, Frau smiled kindly and warmly. He slipped his fingers over Teito's forehead, feeling the boy tremble against him and sigh.
"Well, you don't have much of a fever. That's good."
"'ingers are cold."
"Now you're scaring me." Frau paused for a moment, wondering why he felt as if he'd forgotten something important. Then it came with the silence of the room – there were not catcalls, wolf-whistles, teasing and overall stupidity he had come to associate with his friends plus the tagalongs. He looked over his shoulder to find the room empty. "Where'd everyone go?"
"Castor an' Labrador weren't 'ere when I came in. Haku, Shuri, an' Razette went with," Teito heaved a heavy sigh, exhausted from just talking, "Kurena to feed the ducks."
"Well, that's a hell of a coincidence."
"C'mere," Frau helped the teen out of his seat and steered him towards one of the couches. He dropped the boy into the most comfortable looking one, all but manhandled him into lying down, and sat down on the coffee table facing him. "Seriously, you look like you're about to pass out. Are you okay?"
"'mm jus' tired. An' hungry." Teito dropped an arm over his eyes, the other cradling his upset stomach. "Don't 'member the last time I ate."
Frau sat there in silence for a moment, arms hanging over his knees as he stared at the ground. If there was ever a moment where he felt useless and imposing, which was rare if impossible, it would have to be now. He just had not one clue how to be maternal or nurturing or whatever the hell this situation called for. At his home, the only soft sympathies that were exchanged for one or the other having an illness revolved around "Stop acting like a fucking pansy, you're not dying" and "You're complaining? What about those kids on TV with the cancer? You don't see them complaining".
And then the ever memorable trip to the hospital: as soon as Guido opened his eyes, Frau was there, smiling at his surrogate father. Post-surgery, the man was confined to the hospital bed, too weak to even lift his head, connected to an IV drip and oxygen mask and looking as if he'd been run over by a sixteen wheeler. And the first thing out of Frau's mouth was "See? Told you you were fine. It was just your appendix, you fucking baby."
So much love.
Frau was out of his depth here. And all he could think to do was slip his hand back over Teito's forehead, and gently berate the boy for his stupidity in getting sick on a weekend.
"If you havta get violently ill, try doin' it during a school week. I mean, really. What kind of teenager are you? Turnin' in your homework too, no less. Jesus, kid. You need work."
Teito barked a laugh that sounded painful, and his arm moved from over his eyes, unsteady fingers curling around Frau's wrist to keep his hand in place. "I care 'bout my grades, Frau."
"C's are just as good as A's."
"Good coll'ges don't like C's." He peeked open an eye and just stared at Frau for a moment before rustling restlessly against the couch. "Can you not sit there? You look lik'a shrink."
Frau felt the corner of his lip tug up; he kept his face passive, however. "And where should I sit?"
Biting his lip, Teito tugged the blond's hand over his eyes. He scooted against the back of the couch, leaving surprisingly ample room for one more. "Make yourself useful. 'mm goin' through hot an' cold stages 'ere an' it's pissin' me off."
Allowing himself a quiet chuckle, Frau settled onto the space provided. On his side, one arm wrapped around Teito's small waist, the other tucked beneath as a makeshift pillow for a floppy brown head of hair. The senior couldn't decide what was more adorable: that Teito was trying to hide his red face by nuzzling into his shoulder, or that the brunet basically used the "I'm-saying-I'm-cold-but-what-I-really-mean-is-that-you-should-hug-me-now-dumbass" trick that the female population had perfected.
He'd settle on both.
Teito's breathing settled and evened out soon enough, his labored and phlegm inhales gone, and Frau had thought the brunet just knocked out like a light when a quiet question was murmured into his shoulder.
"What was that?"
"Valentine," he repeated, the word muffled. With a sharp exhale, he turned to blink tired eyes at the blond's chest. "Why'd you send it?"
"I was hoping that part would be obvious."
"Bu', I mean—"
"Don't ask me to explain," Frau sighed, twisting his wrist so he could gently tug at brown locks. "'cause fuck if I know." And Frau didn't like that he didn't know. Whenever he set off on a new conquest, he made certain he knew what he wanted out of the relationship, be it meaningless sex, something steady, or to borrow her parent's pool. He was floundering on unstable ground as much as the kid probably was.
"All I know," he started after a pause to tuck his chin atop the younger teen's head, "is that I can't leave you alone. I mean, even now—" Frau bit down on the sentence, stubbornly refusing to continue it. Because words were messy and unreliable on the best of times, and Frau was just all over the damn place – happy and worried, frustrated for two whole different reasons. So, instead, he tried finding a different way to move the conversation along, remembering quite clearly the advice Castor had given him earlier in the day: let Teito come to him. He wouldn't push the kid into anything; just give him a nudge in the right direction.
Only, how to do that in this situation? He could try fumbling out a sentance about his feelings, sure, if he wanted to put on a dress and grow a vagina, but Frau had rather grown fond of how his body was now, so that option was struck out. And wasn't it just sad that his knowledge was limited to there?
Frau petted the boy's head, cautious and careful, feeling the words bubble on his tongue and not really knowing where they were coming from, but they seemed fine enough, the warm body in his arms melting into exhaustion, limbs loose and relaxed. He kept his voice smooth and steady, melodious, every once in a while drifting off into just the soundless movement of his lips before bringing it back with a rush of breath. And for every word he paired it with a caress – fingers skimming across damp eyelashes, an irritated-red nose, chapped lips, rubbed at a sinewy arm drenched in his sweater.
"Komm sei brav schlaf doch schlaf schlaf ein," Frau murmured against Teito's warm forehead, fingers skimming across a smooth jaw, thumb caressing the dip of a cheek. "Der rote Wundervogel Kunt, Singt ein Lied."
Teito mouthed the words against Frau's shoulder, lost in a fever daze. His own curious hand found the blond's hip and followed the hard, sharp lines of muscle to a broad chest. He pressed his hand flat, splaying his fingers, feeling the beat of a heart and the rise and fall of breath being muttered into his hair. It tickled his scalp and ear, sending a shiver down his spine that had him pressing closer to Frau, blindly searching for heat. A hand closed gently around his wrist, and Teito focused on his breathing, to keep blood flowing to his brain, as sung words were nipped into the supple skin on his wrist.
"Schlafe ein schlaf nun ein schlaf ein," Frau finished with a sigh, pressing a chaste kiss to the younger teen's wrist and giving him control of his limb again.
All Teito did was hold the offending arm close to his chest, breathing slowly and evenly as if asleep. Frau ran his hand through tousled hair again, and the brunet, pliable like a cooked noodle, tilted his head back in response to the gesture. Licking his lips, Frau hovered closer, agonizingly slow and thoughtful, and felt the faintest brush of their lips, their first kiss.
And Frau spectacularly fell on his ass after being shoved off the couch.
The blond hissed sharply at not only the crack his skull made on the ground, but at the snap his elbow made on the coffee table. His whole arm tingled painfully.
Glaring winter-blues looked up to find Mikhail, wine-colored eyes sparking cruelly, smirking down at him from behind the couch, a tray held aloft in one hand, and the other innocently resting over his chest.
"Izvinite," the older blond cooed, his voice dripping sickly sweet. "I just meant to grab your attention, Master Frau. I did not startle you, did I?"
"Mikhail!" Teito groaned pathetically and did his damn best to act like a turtle by hiding in Frau's sweater.
"Vat?" The butler blinked, lips turning down into a put-upon frown as he tapped his fist to the backrest of the couch. "Zis time I am innocent, YA klyanus'."
"Unschuldig, meinen arsch," Frau snapped as he dragged together what was left of his dignity and stood, being extra careful not to touch his arm against anything.
Mikhail had wicked eyes on him in an instant. "Malo nemetskiy sobak dolzhny nauchit'sya chtoby ostat'sya s divana."
"Stop speaking Russian, you dick!"
At that, Mikhail laughed, something that bubbled from the pit of his stomach and sounded maniacal and frightening and one pill short of crazy. Frau blanched and took a step back as the man came around the couch to place a bowl of tomato soup on the coffee table. He turned to the young blond and grinned, free hand raised as if it were a puppet, thumb moving against his other fingers as it 'talked'.
"Yip, yip," the butler's grin stretched as he made a sound similar to that of a giggle.
Frau turned to Teito, who had turned his back on them both in a vain attempt to disappear into the small space between the backrest and the seat. "Teito, wha'd he say?"
"Dun't wanna 'ell yuu," he muttered to the cushion, huddling further into his borrowed hood.
Mikhail settled the rest of what he brought from the kitchens aesthetically on the low table: two glasses of made-from-scratch hot chocolate, to battle the chill that was beginning to descend outside, and a platter of tiny pinched breads with something filling their centers.
Offhandedly, Teito was rolled onto his back and a polished silver spoon was presented to him by a nonchalant-looking Mikhail. "Time for food, young master. I vant all of it gone."
Teito sighed and rolled himself onto the floor, scooting close to the table and dunking his spoon into the watery red depths.
Frau pointed to the little breads. "What is that?"
"Pirozhki," Mikhail responded respectfully, though his mouth ticked up in a half-smirk. "It is good. Eat. Zey are for you." And with that, he turned on his heel to walk out the room.
"Mikhail," Teito called over his shoulder, stabbing his soup with his spoon.
"Ah, yes," Mikhail padded back to the couch on silent feet, free hand drifting across his person until he pulled a foil bag from an inner pocket of his jacket. Why he had them there, it was best not to ask.
He presented the Goldfish bag to Teito. "Your fishes, young sir."
Teito blushed a vibrant red, though still snatched the bag away from the elder blond, and placed the orange crackers one at a time into the soup, his every movement precise.
At Teito's right, Frau was patting down his own pockets, cursing quietly when he couldn't find what he was looking for. He gave Mikhail a Look and the butler rolled his shoulders, confused. Frau jutted his chin towards Teito, trying to convey without words what he wanted. Mikhail glanced down, a thoughtful expression pulling his lips before an Ah-Ha moment brightened up eerily red eyes.
Mikhail took a sleek phone from a pocket in his coat, throwing it to the younger man who had the better lighting. The snap the phone made startled Teito, and the young teen looked up accusingly at them both.
"What was that?"
"What was what, young master?" "Whaddaya talkin' about?"
Teito glared at both of them before returning to his red sea filled with orange fishes. "Fuck you guys."
"I vill be in ze kitchen should I be needed." Mikhail curved his spine in a half bow, and turned back to the door.
"Thanks, Mikhail," Teito called to his butler's retreating form, hearing his smooth Russian tones responding as the doors to the drawing room clicked shut. Beside him, Frau settled on the ground and picked up one of the fried breads.
"These are poisoned, aren't they?"
"Mikhail wouldn't do that." The brunet slurped his soup, taking a few fishes along and feeling more human than he'd felt since post-V-Day. "They're Pirozhki, it's his favorite. He us'lly puts meats an' cheeses an' stuff in 'em. Kinda like a san'wich wrapped inna blanket."
They ate their food quietly, Frau polishing off all five of the small breads quickly despite his earlier unease. Now he was nursing his hot cocoa, his back curved against the sofa, and refused to give compliments to the chef, no matter how begrudgingly. He'd settle for petting the owner of said chef, fingers curling and nails scratching at the curve of the boy's skull (because, really, Frau just couldn't stop himself from touching the kid).
Beside him, Teito sighed happily, head dipping heavy into Frau's palm. "I can talk like a normal person again."
"I have magical healing powers."
"Everyone's a doubter. Look, I fuckin' got you purring in my hand."
To nullify Frau's point, Teito leaned away from Frau's hand and glared at him. In turn, the blond withdrew and raised his hand in defeat, a handsome grin plastered on his features, looking not the least bit apologetic for having been caught.
"You enjoyed it." He took a sip of his cocoa and really, was he really going to have to come back and deal with Mikhail to get more of this sweet, sweet nectar? Maybe Kurena knew how to make it – Frau liked her far better. Or maybe he could make it himself. Not that Frau's ever been privy to culinary knowledge, but it couldn't be that difficult to make hot chocolate. It was just chocolate heated up. Maybe.
He took another sip, and tried to separate flavors. There was definitely the chocolate, a bit bitter, so dark chocolate? And the liquid was too smooth to be water, so milk. Whole milk. There was a sweet undercurrent, so maybe a few tablespoons of sugar, or chocolate syrup, oh that sounded awesome. But then, he could just dunk a whole bottle of chocolate syrup into a heated cup of milk instead of dealing with the laborious process of putting the thing together.
And if he even thought of trying to do the from-scratch thing at home, Guido would wolf down all the goddamn chocolate like the glutton he was and blame the Keebler elves or something of stealing it, just like he blamed the sock gnomes for all of Frau's missing pairs.
(It was embarrassing that Frau still couldn't prove it was Guido who was stealing all his socks, despite his best efforts and hiding in his closet for the good part of the day.)
"Yeah," the blond started back into himself, glancing down at the boy resting his arms and head on the table, eyes, tinged with curiosity, trained on him. "You said something?"
Teito seemed indecisive all of a sudden, if the shift of his posture and gaze was any indication. He curled a bit closer into himself, arms drawing closer to his chest, chin tucked between them, knees raised and pulled as closely to himself as the table would allow – it really didn't look like a comfortable position.
"What's up, kid?"
"You—" Teito started, glaring at a spot just over the blond's shoulder. He sighed deeply through his nose, a faint whistle the only indication of his illness. His shoulders hunched though, and Frau had the mental image of a cat raising its hackles but not hissing.
The blond tried to make himself look as innocent as possible, slouched lazily against the couch – even if his back was protesting to the awkward curve – mug held between his two hands, resting it lightly against his abdomen. He knew he still kind of failed at it – he just wasn't built to look meek and unthreatening (and, really, he didn't know whose side of the family he should blame on that) but he tried anyways, and Teito seemed to appreciate the attempt because he sighed, exhausted, and focused instead on the mug with the Star Trek logo half-hidden by Frau's hand.
"This doesn't bother you?" And to elaborate on what this entitled, Teito waved a vague hand to their surroundings.
"Hey, I'd live here, if I could." Frau patted the couch awkwardly over his shoulder. "This thing's more comfortable than my bed. Granted, I've been using that thing since I was nine but—"
"No," Teito shook his head minutely and looked away to hide the wince as he stretched out his sleeping limbs. "I mean the lifestyle. The giant house, the expensive artwork and carpets, the helpers, the fucking," he flicked the end of his spoon, making it rattle in the empty bowl, "silverware."
Frau looked down to his cup for a moment before bringing the rim to his lips. "I really give no fucks, Klein." He took a sip and sighed happily. There was no way a Russian made this dream of chocolaty goodness. They were all pure evil, down to their itty, bitty black hearts. "I sure as hell didn't care with Cass. Shit, I still kept kickin' his ass and makin' him cry every other week."
"And the other weeks?"
Frau glared at his cup. "He learned how to throw a punch." At Teito's soft chuckle, he looked up, eyes warming at the sight of the boy.
"You were probably hoping to keep all this secret," he set down his mug and took up Teito's, fingers gliding across the little pink rabbits running along the bottom. "Weren't you?"
"This stuff," Teito impatiently gestured to the room again, "it isn't mine. It's bribery, it's the gilded cage— Mikhail and Kurena have made this place as homely as they possibly could, but…"
"You're used to something else."
Teito rested his head against the table, arms cradled around in a makeshift pillow. "I used to live like a stray, and now I'm being groomed to be the son and heir of a major CEO. Nothing better than a show horse."
"You're telling me things I didn't even ask to know."
"I want you to know," Teito groaned, frustrated. "I'm not the same kid at school that—"
"Yes you are," Frau rolled his eyes. "You're more that kid than the one livin' here. Cass is more the sarcastic, know-it-all, narcissistic caregiver than the serious, capable prince he plays at home. Lab is more the cunning, aggressive, needy nerd than the kind and humble saint his remaining family thinks he is. Razette is way more mischievous than her pretty little face lets on. Away from pryin', judgin' eyes," Frau took a sip of lukewarm cocoa, "we act the way we want to."
Frau smirked as his thumb caressed one of the rabbits. "I gave up tryin' to impress people long ago. Ten years from now, I'll know where I'll be, who I'll be."
"And where and who is that?" The brunet leaned back against the sofa, his head nestled on the cushion, turned to face Frau.
"I'll be a mechanic, takin' over my dad's garage." He shrugged. "Not a fancy life, fuck no. It'll be filled with awkward workin' hours, ungrateful bastards, dumbass pricks; I'll be elbow deep in grime and grease, probably won't be actually clean ever again." The blond looked down at his fingers, the edges already permanently stained black with oil. "But, that's fine. It's something I want to do."
The blond gave a sudden pause, free hand rhythmically tapping a beat against the ceramic mug. He faced forward but his winter-blues were hazed over in thought, unseeing. The silence wasn't awkward, but it wasn't comfortable either. Teito twitched, an arm's length away, and subtly scooted a bit closer to Frau. That made the blond smile, and he allowed himself to express it. Because the coiling warmth in his chest was spreading and making him giddy – and he was going to turn into a girl, God help him.
Without looking, Frau presented his hand. The gesture was indistinct, though with his palm up it was obvious he was asking for something. He could feel more than see Teito look at him, at his hand, indecisive. Frau accepted this easily – unlike what Castor liked to believe, he knew rejection well, had it thrown in his face more often than not. So he's learned, can test the water without touching it after being scalded the first time. And this, with Teito, he could understand what Castor meant about allowing the kid to approach him.
Because the kid was fighting against what he wanted and what was being asked of him. Because he wanted to trust Frau, but didn't know if he should, and to just make it easier on himself, he'd rather push the decision on Frau.
'I'm an orphan,' he was saying when Frau had never asked because Teito wanted to tarnish the image the blond had of him in his mind. 'Mom died giving birth. Dad died in the war. My uncle died in a car crash.' Like it was his fault. Then that meant Castor gave his father the same terminal illness that killed his mother. That Labrador was responsible for the death of his parents and siblings. That Razette chose to be a target and have painful mental scars that couldn't disappear like her physical ones. And Frau – Frau chased his parents away.
'I ran from social services, lived on the street.' Razette had self-mutilated to get through the day. Labrador had punched walls to keep from punching people. Castor had mistreated his servants to have control over something. Frau stopped caring.
'And now I'm here, and I have everything any kid could ever want, a comfortable bed and food whenever I want it, and I'm thankful, but I'm not happy, Frau. At all.'
Labrador found happiness in making a new family for himself. Castor found relief in caring for others instead of wealth. Razette found liberation and strength in song, in the crowd that cheered and understood the pain in her signing and accepted and loved her and raised her up because she became their voice, for all their pain, whether big or small.
Teito didn't say it, but he didn't need to – the question was left hanging, blurred at the edges in his red-rimmed eyes, in the twisted turn of his mouth.
'How can you want someone like me?'
And, really, there was nothing to think about anymore. All his previous worries seemed childish and vain. He'd accept rejection should it come, but that didn't mean Frau wouldn't try at all.
"…I can make you happy."
The young teen sucked in a sudden breath, blinking hard, pulling back, because Frau hadn't reacted the way he wanted him to. This was not The Plan. The Plan was Failing. If one were inclined to ask Frau his opinion, he'd say let The Plan rot.
Frau deliberately placed his mug back on the table and held out his hand again in silent invitation. Another chance, the last he'd give the poor boy today. He was still sick, after all. Frau didn't want to impose any more than he's already done.
"I can make you happy, Teito."
It was fear and pain in those emerald eyes, quiet desperation. Wanting but not taking, because he's been given so much already and he doesn't deserve it—
"You're what I want. What do you want?"
Eye contact was broken, and the space separating them was wider now, Frau rushed too soon too fast. Now this street-bred cat was hackling and growling so deep in its throat that it made no noise, backing away from the offered comfort because it hurt and learned not to trust. But how far gone was Frau that he was willing to be patient when he'd never been this patient before.
"Okay, yeah," he dropped his hand, letting it hit the ground with a soft thunk. Frau didn't let the disappointment show; instead he smiled reassuringly and made no move to crowd in Teito's personal space. "It hasn't even been a week. Kinda rushin' this, aren't I? Yeah, sorry 'bout that. Cass says I'm pretty single-minded; now I can kinda see why."
Frau stood and uncurled his spine, feeling something pop in place that alleviated previous discomfort. Though the previous warmth in his chest had turned to ice, and there was no way of alleviating that.
"Take the time, and think it over. We don't have to talk about this; we don't have to act any differently at school. You just come to me when you're ready and I'll listen. I'll listen and respect your answer so don't worry. Just, Tei," Frau walked around the couch and gripped the headrest, fingers turning white with the strain – not that Teito could see, his back was to Frau. "You, well. Look, don't say yes 'cause you feel you have to; I don't want that, I don't need it. Don't say no 'cause you don't think you're worth the effort; I'm a big boy, let me make my own choices.
"I'll leave now 'cause you really should still be resting and we kinda just fudged that up. I'll take my kiddies and go, Hakuren'll probably stay a little bit longer. I think he still needs to report to the Mothership." And wasn't it the saddest thing that Frau had to consciously keep himself from reaching out to touch the kid? He turned to leave, fingers reluctantly peeling away from their death grip on the couch, but stopped at the door, hand hovering over the knob.
"If I needed a reason, and if I had to pick one, it'll be on that day, in ROTC, when you twisted your ankle durin' our run but didn't tell anyone and," he chuckled fondly, gentler than he thought himself capable of. "And it got so swollen I had to carry you to the nurse's office."
"…and I fought you every step of the way," Teito muttered into his knees just loud enough to be heard. He hunched his shoulders at the weight of Frau's stare.
"Yeah," the blond traced fingers over a scar hidden by golden hair along his temple. "I remember that."
"…and you still didn't put me down."
Frau clicked his tongue to the roof of his mouth, sporting his trademark grin – too much teeth and fearless abandon. "I'm a stubborn sonnavabitch, what can I say?" He smiled more gently now, watching his fingers tap idly against the polished doorknob. "Get some rest, kleine Katze. You kiddies get to play with frogs on Wednesday, can't wait to see how that turns out in Bio—"
Frau paused in his turn of the knob, eyebrow raised curiously as he turned to the boy. He looked flushed, kneeling on the couch, hands gripping the headrest where Frau had them not minutes ago. He was fidgety, but looked determined, though Frau squashed the rise of hope swelling in his chest. He had to keep level headed, maybe even just a bit detached, because if it all went to hell he had to be able to laugh and pretend like he didn't even care in the first place, otherwise how was he going to face this kid at school or even just keep—
"Will you go out with me?"
And Teito didn't so much as say it, as screamed it at Frau who was struck stupid for a moment, really, because of all the things he had been expecting, that definitely wasn't it. And he felt like he was grinning like a stupid dumbass but couldn't tell himself to stop, because, yeah, that's one way to ask someone out. He'd have to remember this, because this was worth remembering, the kid looking so adorable and embarrassed and sinking down the couch to hide—
"FUDGE A DUCK, I NEED VISUAL, NOW!"
Startled, Frau twisted the doorknob and tugged it open, because that voice came from outside, right outside, and he caught the teenagers that came with him in the car, poised to run down the hallway en masse but caught on pause. The stupid ones pretended like they hadn't just been caught eavesdropping, the smart ones looked apologetic.
Actually, that should just be the smart one. Shuri didn't even look like he wanted to be there at all.
"What—" Frau bit, homicidal aura thickening around him like dense fog. "Are you guys. Doing."
Hakuren, being at the forefront of the group, looked to his peers for support. They all but hung him out to dry. "We were just…coming to get you…so we can go home?"
Frau's glare more than said how much he believed that.
"It wasn't my idea, okay?"
"It sounds right up your alley though, Oak."
Hakuren sighed, a bit pink in the cheeks, and refused to meet Frau's glare. "It only looks that way because we are similar in some regards."
Frau looked over the group. "And who's the other guy that belongs in this 'we' of yours?"
"Yeah, that'll be me."
Frau raised an eyebrow and looked down. Teito stood on the couch and craned to look over the blond blocking the doorway.
"Mikage?" He asked, because, no. His friend was supposed to be in England, welcoming his new sister-in-law into their family. He wasn't supposed to have arrived yet.
"TE-I-TO!" Frau stepped aside so Hakuren could present his phone where the chipper voice was crackling through. "Just when I think you can't get any more adorable, hey, you do! Oh, please, please, pleaseplease tell me someone recorded that."
"Hold on," Labrador slipped between Hakuren and the wall, keeping the freshman between himself and Frau, and calmly walked towards one of the shelves. He moved a picture frame and a plastic figure of a superhero all in red to get to the handheld recorder wedged between some books. He fiddled with the settlings, and once satisfied he gave the room a thumb up and a smile. "I got it!"
"Labrador, I. Love. You! We will, you and me, buddy, we will go get soft tacos, guacamole, hor-chata! The whole she-bang when I land on good ol' US of A, 'cause MEXICAN, man, I miss it like I miss my bed and my Cake, which Teito refused—"
"Mikage," Teito interrupted his friend, otherwise, if allowed, he would just rant. "It was a stuffed animal. I am not babysitting – just—" Prioritize, Klein, he told himself."Isn't it midnight over there? What are you doing up? And on the phone? And…spying on me?" He snarled the last bit out.
"…Hakuren called me."
Eyes turned to the blond in question, and he raised his hands defensively in front of him. "Hey, no. I was just going to tell him that we came, we saw, you just had the sniffles."
"And then you told me he was getting cuddly on the couch."
"Mikage," Hakuren growled at the phone. "I swear, I will hurt you. Shut up."
"Oh, c'mon, Mommy. Our little princess wouldn't hurt you."
"Daddy, it's the boyfriend I'm worried about," he hissed, though looked up, frightened, at Frau who hadn't stopped glaring. He took a step back, trying to edge behind Razette.
"Wut? Why? He looks like a total nerd."
"Who are you talking about?"
"Dude in glasses. That's who we're giving our princess away to, right?"
"What? Wait," Hakuren braced his unoccupied hand against his hip, full attention on the phone in his palm and not the murderous gazes around him. "Are you referring to Castor? Because he already has a girlfriend."
"…meeeeh. I can't remember their names. All I know is he had glasses and brown hair and he looked ready to murder the guy taking the picture."
"No, sweetie, that's Castor. That's not, no. That's not who we are discussing about here."
"Then which one is he?"
"The really hot one."
"Hakuren," Mikage sighed audibly into the phone, making the static sizzle. "Haku, Gumball, baby. I don't understand how you gauge attractiveness. Because, to you, Dante is attractive, of all the characters you could've picked in the Devil May Cry games, so, so yeah. I mean, Trish, Trish, man, and you choose Dante. I'm going to need a little more than that."
Violet eyes rolled. "He's hotter than you."
"I'm sorry, Daddy, but he is. He's the blond one."
"The one that looks two steps away from becoming a Hell's Angel?"
"Actually," Labrador interrupted, giving strength to his voice so the tiny microphone across the room could pick it up. "He already owns the bike, so it's more like one step away. Right, Frau?"
The blond, confused one hundred and thirty percent at this point, pulled into himself long enough to respond. "Problem with the exhaust pipe, the replacement'll be here in two weeks."
"I like the nerd better. He looks studious, like he'll become a lawyer or something. I don't want Teito working. He's too delicate for that."
"You can't baby him forever, Daddy."
"I can fucking try! Put the delinquent on the phone, I need to have a talk with him."
Hakuren presented the phone to Frau who eyed it like it might sprout teeth and bite him. "I will send you the long-distance bill, Frau. Pick up the phone."
The blond senior sighed and rolled his eyes. He snatched the phone and held it close enough so he didn't have to speak loudly to be heard. "So you're the famous Mikage, I presume."
"Flattery will get you everywhere, my boy."
And, yeah, Frau had to grin at that.
"So what are you intentions with my daughter?"
"Mikage!" Teito snarled from his stunned position on the couch. He lunched over it and stalked purposefully towards Frau, lip raised up into a snarl.
"Teito told me he liked all the Valentine's you guys got him and it made him really happy!"
With a soft coo, Labrador caught Teito from behind, trapping his arms at his sides in a fierce hug. Hakuren followed with his arms around the brunet's waist, cuddling warmly against him, and Razette squeezed herself in between Labrador and Hakuren, arms around the boy's neck. While Shuri, with a shrug, half-hugged Razette and his cousin – Castor felt too told for that shit.
"Did it work?"
"Yessir," Frau responded because, why the hell not? He wasn't going to be the one to question who Teito's 'daddy' was, and best to earn brownie points where he could, even if the kid on the phone was younger than him.
"Cool. It's so nice to have more minions I can manipulate to do my bidding."
"Don't let them hear you say that," Frau huffed a laugh. He rubbed a hand through his hair, wondering how things got so crazy so quickly.
"Nah. They're okay with it. We had a Talk, capital T. Now, you and me—your name was?"
"Mikage, as you should already know. So, Frau, Teito is my bestest friend. Like, ever. Since ever, alright, don't let him tell you otherwise, he lies. I even tried making him my real brother, but apparently I'm not legally registered to marry him off to my sister so that was a bust. Fucking government. Anyway, I care about him, as I hope you do as well. But you need to care about him more than I do. Am I speaking English here, or do I need to get my French on?"
"I'm of German descent, actually," he smirked, because it was difficult not to around Mikage.
"Oh. Damn, I've only taken French. Okay, I'll learn German and then we'll understand each other better, savvy?"
"I can understand English just fine, Sir. No need to go through all that trouble."
"I like you, kid. So I'll cut you a deal – that is, if I'm satisfied with your answer." Mikage paused, the line going silent long enough that Frau checked to see if it was still connected. It was. "What are your intentions with my daughter?"
"Sir," Frau straightened up to his full height, shoulders back, feet together, free hand pressed to his side – standing at attention that would make any general proud. "I aim to make your daughter happy, to love him and cherish him and stay by his side whenever I'm needed and whenever I'm wanted. I also aim to fuck his brains out every other day, five times a day should time permit and to at least embarrass him twice a week, whether at school, in public, or at his home, Sir."
Castor slapped his forehead, Shuri and Razette both blushed a bright crimson, Labrador laughed openly, and Hakuren grinned a little too happily. Teito tried not to die from blushing.
Mikage hummed on the other side of the connection. "Make that embarrass him three times a week, one of which has to be on the date you take him out on once a week."
"That can be arranged, Sir," Frau smirked wickedly, winter-blues lidded and heavy.
"Okay, in exchange for my daughter's innocence, I'm expecting payment of five new comic books, a new t-shirt – My Little Pony; I'll send you the link – and two new video games."
"How about three new comic books, two t-shirts and a new video game."
"Yes, that's fine."
"You got yourself a deal, son-in-law. Point me in Teito's general direction – he'll cut the line if you give him the phone."
Frau did as he was told, turning away as much as he could to privately reign in his laughter.
"I am going to kill you. Slowly. Painfully," he snapped. "It will not be fun, for you."
"Save that for your wedding night, geez. So," Mikage sighed audibly, the chipper tone settled into something calmer. "How are you?"
Teito sighed as well, and seeing that no one had released him yet from his prison-hug, he allowed everyone else to keep him up. His head was spinning and it hurt.
"Mikhail thinks I have polio. Kurena says it's just stress."
"I'd listen to Kurena. She's not psycho-crazy."
"Yeah. Yeah, okay."
"Tei, you know I miss you right?"
Teito blushed and buried his nose into Hakuren's shoulder. "Yes."
"And I love you. Not that way, Frau, god, I'm married already. Jesus, people."
"Do you have a point, Mikage?"
When a continued response wasn't quickly given, Teito looked up to the phone. The screen was black; the keys nonexistent save for three lone buttons at the bottom, one of which was blinking white. The brunet sighed again and prayed that the fire alarm would ring, or Mikhail would throw everyone out, or something.
"And what is your point?"
"I'm going to catch the bouquet in your honor tomorrow."
"Okay! Gotta go! I wanna meet all you guys, so TACOS! Labrador, make it happen—"
"Yes, sir," Labrador saluted over Teito's head.
Hakuren peeled away enough from the embrace-that-wasn't-an-embrace-anymore-but-a-human-jail-cell to call over his shoulder. "Yes, my King?"
"Make sure these two idiots kiss before the day ends! I cannot, cannot go on if they don't start getting the ball rolling. I want grandchildren soon, you get me?"
"I'll handle that bit," Frau spoke into the phone, a content smirk pulling at his lips.
"Good, good. Taking initiative, Frau, I like that. So, Haku, instead, make sure Mikhail gets a kiss before the day ends. Tell him it's from me and that I miss him and his cinnamon buns. His normal buns are nice too."
Hakuren barked a laugh. "Got it, Captain."
"Sweet. Razette, darling little mermaid, Razette."
The girl in question hummed happily, rising to her toes to look over Hakuren and Shuri.
"Make sure Mikhail doesn't kill him. He's Mommy, we can't have anything bad happen to Mommy. Use those big doe eyes of yours—"
"Don't use Razette for your little schemes," Castor snarled at the phone, arms crossed over his chest.
"You. I don't , just don't want to hear from you. No. You could've had Teito but you didn't want to so I don't, no, just no. You make me sad. Very sad. Shhh. No speaking.
"Shuri! Try not to be a total spazz anymore, 'kay? Because I know your greatest fear and it is not catching on fire. It is much, much stupider, and so much funnier, and you'll know I'll do it, you know—" "Mikage Celestine! What the bloody fucking hell are you doing up at this fucking hour on the fucking phone?" "Hey, Kokuyou! The sexy wife keeping you up, you naughty dog! That's supposed to happen after the wedding!" "Hang up right now or swear—"
The line cut and steadily beeped, signaling the disconnection. Frau tossed the phone to Hakuren who caught it easily. He sidestepped away from the group hug, tapping away at his phone and to all eyes lost in virtual space. Shuri, when no one was looking, snuck back into the drawing room to 'borrow' a few things – Labrador figured as long as the older Oak returned the items, there was no need for him to say anything. And Razette, happily humming, trotted over to Castor's side and hugged him.
Given space to breathe again, Teito inhaled deeply, rubbing sorely at his chest as it stung with an illness he brought upon himself. Mikage was insane batshit crazy on the best of times, and he could only handle it in short bursts, though not when ill. He could feel his headache coming back, and made a note to ask Mikhail for some tea or something. Maybe Nyquil so he could just pass out and pretend this day never happened. Or at least the last couple of minutes.
Beside him, Frau curled an arm around his waist, startling a squeak and flushed face from the teen. He grinned down at the boy and kissed him. It was soft, chaste, and sweet – everything Frau was not – and when he pulled back, he informed Teito as much.
"The harder stuff comes later."
Teito stuttered and was saved from floundering for a response when Mikhail emerged from the hall, an eyebrow raised, and a covered plate in hand.
"Sooo, children. Having fun, yes?"
Confused looks were passed around, and as a unit, they all nodded.
"Good. Now get out," he smiled politely and indicated the way with a wave of the hand.
They congregated back at the foyer, milling about and patting down for all personal affects, making certain nothing got left behind. Kurena stood, statue-still and quiet, by the stairs, looking at them all with a blank gaze that was one degree warmer than when they had first arrived.
Mikhail handed off the covered plate to Hakuren. "For your mozer. Send my regards."
"Thank you. She's recuperating well enough. The doctor says just another month and she'll be up and about like before."
The butler made a noncommittal noise in his throat. He tipped forward a bit in a bow; white glove splayed over the black of his suit, and gave a farewell in Russian. Before he could escape back into the bowels of the estate, Hakuren grabbed his attention.
"Mikage likes your buns."
That was followed by some forehead rubbing, a dark mutter of Russian, and wine eyes trained onto the younger blond. "He told you to kiss me, did he not?"
"Yes." Hakuren rocked on his heels. And, feeling the impending danger of the cobbler, Shuri swopped in and moved it to a safer location. "Sooooo, can I?"
Impatient, Mikhail ushered them all out, outright shoving a few. There were half-hearted thrown goodbyes to the servants that were not returned, and Frau lingered at the doorstep with Teito, Mikhail watching them by the door.
"Your butler is terrifying. I think he's trying to kill me with his eyes. No, don't look," Frau grinned as he cupped the boy's cheek, keeping him from turning to look over his shoulder.
"He means well," Teito sighed, and promptly coughed, the chill (or all the yelling from before) irritating his throat. "You know," he swallowed thickly, though that did nothing to alleviate the scratching sensation. "You never answered my question."
Frau raised an eyebrow, running the day through his head, trying to find what Teito was referencing to when a small hand drenched in a too-long sleeve slipped into his. Those slender fingers were warm. He hummed, as if mulling it over.
"Yes, but only if you gimmie a kiss."
Teito groaned. "Mikhail is right there."
"And he'll castrate me, not you. And risk is outweighed by the gain. C'mon," he swung their joined hands, feeling far too giddy to be healthy. "Castor'll leave me here if I don't hurry and then how'll I get home?"
"You take the bus," Teito glared.
"And the bus stop is really far away. Please?" He did his best puppy-dog impression, and Teito was crumbling. "Just on the cheek, please? I've been waiting for this for a while now."
"How long is a while?"
Frau genuinely smiled now, bending forward until his forehead pressed to Teito's. "Since school started."
He grinned. "Everyone's a doubter."
Quick as a flash, Teito pressed a kiss to Frau's cheek, feeling the scratch of blond stubble on his lips and the warmth of human skin, and he blushed, pulling back and away, retreating to Mikhail's side. The butler sheltered him from the cold evening air, or maybe from Frau, but Teito leaned far enough so the blond German could see him wave.
The gravel at his feet crunched as he spun on his heel and walked towards Castor's packed car, the front passenger-side door left open for him. He allowed himself a laugh and a grin, giving a wave high above his head to anyone who wanted it.
"Someone mark it off; I did one of my 'Embarrass Teito' deals!"
And there would be many more to come.
A/N: This time, it really is the end. No epilogue, nada. Seriously, guys. Seriously. No more puppy-dog eyes and ~SQUEALS~. This is not turning into Thing. B|
The song Frau sings is a lullaby called "Schlaf ein" which can be found here (remove spaces and brackets):
( www . youtube [.com] / watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gXpy5AT1Mqw )
And lyrics here, just do your own google translate (remove spaces and brackets):
Schlaf Ein - Frank Schobel
( www . lyricsmania [.com] / schlaf_ein_lyrics_frank_schobel [.html] )
It took me way longer than I'd like to admit to find this song. I need a secretary for all my grunt work, jezz. And, again, GOOGLE TRANSLATE IS MY FRIEND - HE INSULTED YOUR LANGUAGE, NOT ME.
i beg your pardon (sorry)
мало || немецкий собак || должны научиться || чтобы остаться с дивана
little || german dogs || must learn || to stay off the couch.
Malo nemetskiy sobak dolzhny nauchit'sya chtoby ostat'sya s divana.
Unschuldig, meinen arsch
innocent, my ass
That is all. Thanks for sticking with me this far, you guys were amazing and incredibly sweet with your reviews. See ya next story~