title: Ceremony
fandom: GetBackers
characters/pairings: Kazuki/Jubei
rating: G
warnings: kissing
summary: Kazuki and Jubei perform an old ritual.
notes: for jo, for fic_on_demand. and also cuz it's her birthday. ^_^

The cicadas were in full voice that night. It made the night seem different, magical, almost. It was awkward for Jubei to have such romantic thoughts, and, feeling foolish, his fingers got clumsier. Of course, Kazuki just smiled, and with gentle, elegant fingers, he straightened out the combs that Jubei was trying to arrange.

Outside, the crackle of electricity snapped. Jubei looked at the door anxiously, but Kazuki simply continued along his task. The candlelight flickered, catching the strings that guarded them at odd angles. They were really beautiful. It wasn't the first time that Jubei had noticed it, but it always took him by surprise. Kazuki was deadly with those strings, but they were so beautiful, just like him...

Kazuki put his hand on Jubei's, and smiled. "Are you ready?"

Jubei swallowed hard, and nodded sharply. "Whenever you are."

Kazuki leaned in, his eyes shining with mirth. "Jubei. Just because this is an ancient ceremony dating back as far as the ito doesn't mean it can't be fun. Why do you think I wanted your help?"

He turned to look away, because if he continued to look into Kazuki's eyes like that, he'd... he'd do something. And then he'd be in trouble. "Are you sure this is safe? I mean, I can protect you, but... "

Kazuki twirled his fingers, making the strings vibrate around them. "We're safe, Jubei. And besides, the Thunder Emperor is standing guard. So. Ready?"

He nodded, and picked up Kazuki's right tail of hair. He'd only ever touched Kazuki's hair once before. The last time this ceremony had been performed, he'd stood outside the door, guarding. Kazuki's long fingers picked up the ends of the ito, and started to unwind them. The bells tinkled gently as Kazuki wound the thin string around the three-pronged spool. Kazuki's fingers moved with deft precision, so quick Jubei could hardly follow them. Jubei followed the rhythm of Kazuki's movements, helping him to wind up the string, freeing Kazuki's long, perfect hair.

Kazuki put down the first spool, and Jubei dropped the hair, letting it fall through his fingers. He felt his breath hitch, and his heart pound, and the flickers of candlelight danced over the silky strands. It shouldn't be so different. It shouldn't change things so much...

"One down, two to go." Kazuki was still smiling, that gentle, warm smile Jubei liked to pretend was just for him.

They worked through the other two tails just as quickly, filling two other spools. Kazuki's hair covered him, spilling everywhere, catching the light with its warm glow, and practically begging to be touched. Kazuki fingered the hem of his shirt, and looked down. "You don't... don't mind helping me, do you?"

Jubei swallowed hard. "Of course not. It is my honor."

Something flickered in Kazuki's eyes that Jubei couldn't read, and he smiled sadly. "Thank you, Jubei."

Jubei shook his head haltingly, but before he could even formulate a response, Kazuki took his shirt off. Jubei didn't mean to stare, but he couldn't help it. Kazuki was so beautiful... so lean, so smooth, so perfect. In fact, it was hard to remember to breathe, even.

Kazuki blushed, and turned away slightly. "I... I don't want to ruin the shirt... "

Jubei knew enough to know when he had messed up. "No! I... I apologize. Of course, you need to... I just didn't... didn't expect... Please don't be embarrassed, you don't... have any reason to be... "

A delicate hand reached out, and touched his hand. Kazuki was smiling at him again, but he didn't have the courage to lift his head to see it. "Let's get started, ok?"

He nodded, and shifted over to lift the basin. Kazuki leaned back, stretching out so that he was half leaning against Jubei, and he let his hair fall into the basin. Jubei swallowed hard, and put his hands into the lukewarm water, and helped Kazuki to wet his hair. Under the water, wet tendrils of hair commingled with his fingers, like flirting seaweeds caressing his hands to try to lure him down deeper. He breathed slowly, each moment stretching out as his hands filled with hair.

He lowered the basin, and squeezed shampoo into his palm. He lathered Kazuki's hair, amazed at how long it was, and how soft, and how sensual, how intimate, really, with his fingers buried in Kazuki's hair, and the scent of shampoo and candles and Kazuki...

"I never really liked this ceremony."

Jubei nearly jumped at the dreamy sound of Kazuki's voice. Kazuki was smiling, his eyes closed.

"I hated how long it took, and having someone else's hands in my hair. But this... this feels good."

Jubei dropped Kazuki's hair, and stared at him.

"Thank you, Jubei. I'm so glad... so glad that I have you."

Jubei lifted the basin quickly, and started to rinse out Kazuki's hair. "Always," he whispered.

Kazuki's eyes opened slowly, and he lifted a hand to touch Jubei's head. "Thank you."

The air was still, the occasional crackle of electricity and thrum of cicadas nothing more than night music. He hadn't intended to lean down, and put his lips on Kazuki's, but he felt Kazuki's fingers tightening in his hair. He hadn't meant to kiss Kazuki, but Kazuki's mouth opened for his, and his tongue came out to lap at his lips. He hadn't meant to bring a hand out of the water to put it on Kazuki's chest, but he felt Kazuki shudder and purr under his slick touch.

He opened his eyes, but the candlelight wasn't enough to make sense of what had happened. It only showed him that Kazuki was smiling, and that his eyes were open.

"Let's finish the ceremony in the morning, ok, Jubei?"

Jubei wasn't sure what that meant, but he was willing to do anything Kazuki asked of him.

It was his honor.