title: Questions and Answers
fandom: GetBackers
characters/pairings: Kazuki/Jubei, Sakura, Makube X
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Jubei struggles with his purpose in life.
notes: none

"Jubei. Do I look all right?"

Kazuki's wrist was so slim and delicate in his hand. He couldn't drag the other boy away fast enough, but at the same time, he was afraid that if he pulled too hard, he'd break Kazuki's arm. It was stupid, because Jubei knew firsthand that Kazuki was much tougher than he looked. He knew that Kazuki was at least as strong as he was, and more likely quite a bit stronger. Kazuki was already a master of the strings, and touted as being the finest of his family for generations.

And still, Jubei fretted over hurting him.


He had been ignoring Kazuki's protests, but now the other boy was digging his heels in to the ground, and Jubei would rather slit his wrists than wrench Kazuki's. He sighed, and faced his charge. "Yes?"

"What the hell are you thinking?! That was very rude, you know!"

Jubei narrowed his eyes. He hated, hated, how much the disapproval in Kazuki's eyes cut him to the bone, but he a responsibility, and he'd be damned if he didn't see it through. "I was born to protect you, Kazuki, and that's what I'm going to do."

"He was my cousin!" Kazuki threw up his arms in disgust.

Jubei stared at the ground. "He was... he was leering at you. He was flirting. And if I hadn't interfered..."

"What?" Kazuki demanded sharply. "He might have... what? Kissed me? Touched me? Do you think I can't handle my own kin?"

Jubei's cheeks flushed with heat, but he defiantly glared up at Kazuki regardless. "I would not stand by and watch you get... used like that."

"Oh, Jubei..." Kazuki sighed. "Do you think that just because I dress like this," he waved his hands over his kimono, "that I'm some sort of damsel in distress? Yuki has always teased me... He was just goofing around. He has a girlfriend."

Jubei stared down at the ground, his arms rigid at his sides. "I have to protect you."

Kazuki was right in front of him. The fragrant aura of oranges and sage touched Jubei's senses. Kazuki's thin, fine hands touched Jubei's. "You don't need to protect me from myself. I was having fun."

He was breathing hard now, and he couldn't think straight anymore. He knew that he was right, but he wasn't able to make sense of it... "I'm... I'm sorry."

Kazuki lifted his chin with the tips of his fingers, showing Jubei a measure of his strength. Kazuki's eyelashes were impossibly long, touching his cheeks as he blinked. Jubei felt hot. He wasn't sure, but he thought that Kazuki might be wearing some color on his lips... "Jubei. Were you really trying to protect me, or were you just trying to keep me to yourself?"

Kazuki was so close to him. It was such a hot night. His thoughts were in disarray. Kazuki was getting even closer to him, and that was making it harder to think.

He knew his friend, his charge, his life's purpose, he knew that he was a boy, and that what he felt... what he felt when he was near Kazuki just wasn't right, but if Kazuki kept getting so close to him, he might do something they both regretted. He pulled away quickly, walking rapidly away. It was just so damned hot...

"I have to protect you," he stubbornly offered to Kazuki as he fled.

"Jubei. How do I look?"

"Stay down!" he barked, ignoring the flare of fury in his charge's eyes. He was obstinate, at least as obstinate as Kazuki, and he wasn't about to let down his guard just because Kazuki looked ready to tear him a new one.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" Kazuki hissed. "Are you mental? I was close to making an alliance with them!"

Jubei's jaw locked. Like hell he was going to stand aside while Kazuki made alliances with scum like that... "He wasn't interested in the same things that you are."

"But he's been to the upper levels! He knew the secret pathways past the Devil's Lockers! And he knew the so-called Thunder Emperor."

Jubei dismissed all of those reasons absently. "So he said. We don't know what he's really seen and done."

"Jubei!" Kazuki exclaimed, exasperated. "What the hell?!"

It was quiet out. The danger had passed. Jubei carefully blocked the door with a few carefully placed needles. Kazuki was hardly in the mood to set the barricade strings right now. "You don't always see things the way other people do, Kazuki. He wasn't looking at you... like a friend."

"So?" Kazuki challenged. "He could have been a good ally!"

Jubei sighed, feeling very tired. If he had only done a better job of protecting Kazuki before, they would never have had to enter this infinite hell... "Kazuki. There... aren't many women here. The people here are vicious, and cold. Some of them... they look at you, and they see... they see how pretty you are, and they want to exploit that. Trust me. That man didn't want anything from you that you would have been willing to give."

There. He had laid it on the line. Whether Kazuki would accept it or not was irrelevant, because Jubei had already made the decision.

He was afraid to look at Kazuki, though. The other man was being rather quiet.

"Jubei. Do you think I'm pretty?"

Jubei's heart was hammering in his chest. Kazuki was batting his eyelashes coquettishly, a tender smile quirking his lips. Jubei's brain threatened to burst out of his skull. "Shut up. Get some rest. We'll have to move in a bit to get back to our home turf. Be ready at my signal."

Kazuki sighed, and turned away. Jubei stared out the little cubbyhole door that he had made, his heart still pounding.

He hated it when Kazuki teased him. It was cruel.

"Jubei... Jubei!!"


He blinked. His sister was standing in front of him, scowling.


She huffed. "Jubei! Do I look all right? Do you like my hair like this?"

He blinked again, still lost in the lingering embrace of memory. "Your hair... I thought you were going to learn how to use the new surveillance equipment with Makube X tonight?"

She blushed, her whole face red. He cursed himself and his insensitivity. "S-So!?" She sputtered. "What difference does that make? I asked you a question!"

He sighed silently. He looked up at his sister, honestly evaluating her hair. "It looks nice," he answered softly. "I like it long. I'm glad you grew it out."

"Next, you should dye it brown and put bells in it," came a gently vicious voice from the door. "Oh, but then you'd run away and leave him behind... That wouldn't be any good..."

"Makube X!" Sakura stomped her foot, clearly uncomfortable with chastising their leader, but willing to stand with her brother.

Jubei turned away. "Have fun. I'm going to do a patrol."

"Ju-Jubei..." Sakura reached out for him, but he was out of range.

"Go," he brusquely ordered, nodding as he passed Makube X. No one could see his face behind the collar of his jacket, or his eyes behind his glasses.

He would take out some of his latent rage on some lower city scum.

"Jubei." Kazuki sighed. "What are you thinking?"

Jubei wanted to look away, but that was surprisingly difficult when he had no sight. He knew where Kazuki was standing, finishing changing the bandages on eyes. But even if he turned his head, there was still the feeling of Kazuki at his side, still the smell of oranges and sage, and still the sound of Kazuki's breathing. He couldn't turn away from the sensory overload of Kazuki as easily as he could turn his head anymore.

"Why?" Jubei knew that his voice sounded rough and inflexible, but was trying, damn it!

Kazuki shook his head, his long trails of hair brushing against his clothes. "Jubei... Tell you what. Let's play a game."

Jubei sighed. "Do we have to? You always win..."

Kazuki laughed, a merry, musical sound that gave Jubei chills down his spine. "You tell me exactly what you're thinking, and I'll tell you exactly what I'm thinking. We'll do it together, so we don't have to be embarrassed. Ok?"

Jubei said nothing, feeling sullen and childish.

Kazuki kneeled down in front of him, laying his hands on top of Jubei's. Kazuki's hands were still slim and fine, and stronger than they could possibly look. Jubei felt his heart twist in his chest. "Jubei, please. We were best friends, once. I always knew what you were thinking. But you hide from me, now. It's my fault, I know; I left. I'm sorry. I... I... don't know what to say. I never stopped thinking about you, not even for a second."

Jubei wanted to close his eyes and turn away, but his eyes were already closed, he supposed. "A-All right. We'll play your game."

Kazuki immediately straightened up. "Ok! On the count of three, ok? One... Two... Three..."

"I wonder what you're wearing."

"I want to go to the hot springs to heal your eyes."

Jubei felt his heart hammering in his throat. Hot springs? With Kazuki? To heal him?

"You want to know what I'm wearing?" Kazuki sounded honestly surprised, and Jubei found that he had lost all faculty of speech.

Kazuki stood before him, and picked up his hands. He laid Jubei's hands on his hips, and rubbed Jubei's hands over the cloth of his jeans. "Black jeans. Kinda tight, as you can tell. They hang sorta low." He ran Jubei's hands over the waistband of the jeans.

Jubei broke out into a cold sweat. Half his hands were running over Kazuki's bare skin.

"The shirt you got for me. Remember?" Ha laid Jubei's hands on his chest, bringing the up to the loose, almost frilly collar.

Jubei's mouth was dry, his tongue thick. It was the off-the-shoulders shirt, the white silk one. Kazuki sat down in his lap, straddling his waist, so that he could let Jubei feel the collar, feel Kazuki's skin...

"You didn't even know it was a girl's shirt. You would never have known if Sakura hadn't told you."

"I... I.." Jubei couldn't think. He couldn't breathe. Kazuki was leaning forward, his tails of hair brushing over Jubei's thighs, the little bells tingling in his ears. His head felt disconnected from his body, and his body felt leaden and hot.

"Sh." Kazuki leaned forward, taking Jubei's face in his hands. "I didn't care. You said it would look good on me, and you were right. You know I don't care about that sort of thing."

It was cruel, inhumanly so. Jubei felt torn into shreds. He wanted to put his arms around Kazuki and claim him, mark him, bind him. But he had failed. He had betrayed his very purpose in life, and now Kazuki had found an even worse punishment for him...

Kazuki's lips brushed across Jubei's cheek. "I'm not wearing any socks or shoes. So now you know." Kazuki's arms were around his neck, and his hands were in his hair.

Jubei was on fire. Oranges and sage filled his senses, blinding him absolutely, leaving only the dark sheen of too much light on the back of his eyes. "Kazuki..."

"Jubei." He said his name in that way of his, saying it like he was saying so much more, and Jubei wanted to cry. He would have started to bawl right there if he were physically capable of it. "Come with me to the hot springs. Let me help you heal."

"I... I deserve this." The bitterness welled up inside of him. So many times, he had indulged this fantasy, and so many times, he was knocked back down to earth. Jubei wanted, so badly, but he hadn't earned it, and he never would. Kazuki was as far out of his reach than the sun itself. "I betrayed you; I broke my promise. This is my reward for my deceit."

"Jubei..." Such tenderness, now, as Kazuki ran his fingers through Jubei's hair, and it nearly drove the man mad. "Please, don't do this to me. I can't... I can't be the instrument of your punishment. Don't you see how you are hurting me?"

He couldn't see anything at all, but now he was confused as well as blind, and he did not know how to fashion a response.

"You promised me... you said you would stay by my side from now on. Were you lying to me?"

"No." It was easy to speak immediately, despite Kazuki's thumb moving across his cheek, because the answer was true.

"Then if I go to the hot springs, you have to go with me, don't you?"

Jubei shook his head, licking his lips, but when he spoke, there was only one thing he could say. "As you like."

"Jubei..." He wanted to be able to see the other man, damn it! He couldn't tell enough from just the sound of his voice!

Kazuki put his lips on Jubei's.

Jubei wanted to open his eyes wide. His heart stopped. He froze.

Kazuki moved his lips, trying to part Jubei's, and even though Jubei was ice cold, he parted his lips at Kazuki's request.

How could he deny his purpose, his reason for breathing, in anything?

It lasted a long, sweet time. Kazuki tasted like cloves and sugar, sweet, but spicy. Jubei's hands were on Kazuki's back, gently holding him in place. Jubei wanted, needed to see him, see Kazuki's beautiful, perfect eyes...

"Oh, Jubei..." Kazuki sighed, resting his head on Jubei's shoulder. "I have missed you so much. I need you so much, Jubei."

"I'm here." Jubei's voice was cracked and broken, and he circled his arms around Kazuki's slim, narrow waist defensively. Even as his body still shook from the shock of it all, his soul settled into a peace that he had never known before. This was the right place for him to be, this was the where he belonged, where Kazuki belonged.

He longed to deserve this tremendous blessing.