Word count: 2019
Morning light filtered through the thin curtains and fell across Yusuke’s face. He blinked once or twice and glared halfheartedly at the window, who the hell put a window on the east side of a house anyway? A yawn overtook him and wiped the frown from his face as he stretched and sat up. He was still groggy and for a moment he didn’t know where he was. A rustle of fabric chased the dregs of sleep away and he whirled to face the noise. Xander had shifted and snuggled deeper into his covers.
Oh yeah…he was on the Hellmouth with his little brother, the memories of the night before swamped him and he frowned again. Xander had let Yusuke hold him, calm him down and even let the older boy put him to bed…but what did they do now? Now that Xander had gotten a glimpse of Yusuke’s demon nature would the boy run? Would he scream? Yusuke dreaded all of the possible negative responses his brother could have. He’d never cared what anyone thought of him, Keiko had been the only exception. But Xander had wormed his way into Yusuke’s heart, and he wasn’t sure he could deal with that kind of rejection.
He tried to switch gears, and think different thoughts. Like maybe he could find a way to improve Xander’s life in some way…And on that note, what had happened to Tony? An evil grin plastered his face and he crept toward the window that faced the street. He pushed the curtains aside and looked to where he’d left Tony, only there was no Tony. Hmm. There wasn’t a sign of him anywhere.
A little disappointed at the lack of blood covered grass he’d been hoping for, he moved away from the window and moved to sit beside his still slumbering brother. Xander remained oblivious.
Hesitantly Yusuke reached out to place his hand on Xander’s head. His brother’s hair was soft like his own…when it wasn’t gelled. Again his thoughts returned to the scene in the hall, the memory was as sharp as Hiei’s Katana and would stay with him forever. No kid should have to live with that kind of fear.
“Maybe he got eaten. We can hope right?” Yusuke spoke softly and continued to pet Xander’s hair. “I can’t change your childhood Xander. Those scars will have to stay. But if you need me, I’ll be there for you, no matter what.” He tried to smile, thankful that Xander couldn’t see the pathetic attempt; his own words rang in his head. Xander was the better man. He’d make some girl very happy some day.
“We’re so different Xan. Sure we’re brothers, and come from broken homes…but you still have your innocence. Don’t ever lose it. Even if you end up a full demon like me…keep that part of yourself safe.”
“Ya know…most people keep their inner monologues to themselves. That’s why they’re called inner monologues.” Xander opened his eyes and grinned. “Little early in the day to be this sappy isn’t it?”
Yusuke countered the grin by pushing Xander off the bed, Xander landed in a tangled sprawl on the floor. “Somehow, that was very satisfying.”
“What was that for?!” Xander asked as he struggled to untangle himself from his covers.
“I was having an insightful big brother moment and you ruined it.”
“It’s not like you were debating the meaning of life.”
Yusuke rolled his eyes. “Like I would think about something like that.”
Xander finally broke free of his blanket and climbed back on the bed. “Keiko’s lucky to have you.” He grinned again. “So when are you gonna give me nieces and nephews to spoil and stuff full of sugar?”
Yusuke’s eye twitched before he made a dive for his little brother. “Brat!”
The mock fight had ended in a tickle fest, which led to Xander’s stomach announcing its hunger very loudly. So Yusuke did the responsible brother thing and dragged his annoying little brother to a restaurant within walking distance. He was just glad he remembered passing it on the walk back to Xander’s home the night before.
Xander was eating slower than he had at the Summers’ house last night. The laughter from their tickle match was gone and replaced by somber silence. Finally Xander looked up from his breakfast platter.
“Just so you know you’re the best big brother ever.”
Yusuke smiled, it was gentle, no mischief on his face. “You don't even really know me yet...but...I have to say that you’re not so bad yourself.”
Yusuke reached in his back pocket and pulled a communicator out of it. “Here.”
Xander took it, though he handled it as if it would bite. “Why are you carrying make up? And why would I want it?”
Yusuke rolled his eyes. “It’s a communicator. Koenma is lazy and hasn’t updated the model yet.” He tapped the table nervously. “I want you to come back with me.” Yusuke kept his eyes on Xander, not letting him break eye contact.
“Then why the heck did you give me the compact?”
“Cause I know you’ll say no. But you are coming to the wedding. You should be on summer vacation then. I’ll send Botan to get you…that is, if you still want to come.” Yusuke finally broke eye contact, afraid of what he might witness.
“Why wouldn’t I want to?”
“What I did last night…I can do a lot worse.”
Xander looked at him with eyes no sixteen year old should have. They were old before their time. “I’ve seen worse than what you did last night; and that was before I knew demons were real.”
Yusuke understood. His childhood hadn’t been all sunshine and roses either. “We’re good?”
Xander nodded. “We’re more than good. We’re awesome!”
“You’re certainly here early.” Giles commented from the center table where he and Botan were sharing a pot of tea.
“Look…the British-ness is spreading. He’s got Botan drinking tea and everything.”
Giles sent him a disapproving glare, which he shifted to Botan when she giggled, though she did her best to muffle it with an apology. “Sorry.”
Yusuke turned to look at Xander. They really did look like brothers. The dark hair, the brown eyes; though he doubted he could pull off the puppy look the way Xander could. “You sure you’ll be okay?”
“Sure as I can be living on a site of mystical convergence.”
Yusuke grabbed him in a one armed hug. “Brat.”
Xander hugged him back. “That’s me.”
“Do me a favor and stay alive. I warned off the demons here…but I can’t guarantee you and Willow will be safe.”
“Dude, we’ve got the Slayer and Super Librarian Man. We’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Yusuke snorted and tightened his hold on Xander before changing the hug into a noogie.
“Hey! Quit it!” Xander laughed while he struggled and put some space between them once Yusuke let go.
While they had played Botan had finished her tea and given Giles a kiss on the cheek. He smiled a bit. “Do stay in touch Botan.”
“Of course.” She smiled back and produced her oar from wherever she kept it. “Ready Yusuke?”
“Yeah.” He looked at Xander one more time. “Remember, Botan will be back to pick you up for the wedding…and maybe the whole summer?”
“What about your honey moon?”
“That will only last a week. You can hang out with the guys if you want. Or…I don’t know…you could stay at our apartment while we’re gone.”
Xander grinned. “I’ll think about it.”
“Cool. Stay safe.”
Before Yusuke could say anything else he was whisked away by Botan and they disappeared through the ceiling.
Xander gaped. “She…they…how?”
Giles sighed. “You’ll get used to it.” He sipped his tea and smirked behind his cup.
Yusuke walked in the door of the Yukimura store and wasn’t at all surprised to see his friends gathered at one of the tables, luckily they were the only customers. Keiko waved from behind the counter.
“Welcome back.” Her look grew a little sharper. “Botan brought you back hours ago. Where have you been?”
Yusuke shrugged. “Time zones are hell; we left Sunnydale at nine in the morning and got back to Japan a little after midnight. I got jet lag without the jet, and Koenma wanted an update.” Keiko looked satisfied with the explanation.
“Sit down and I’ll get you something, but flip the sign first.”
Yusuke did as he was told and flipped the sign before joining the others at their table. Keiko wasn’t far behind with a plate of food, and she sat beside him after placing the plate in front of him.
Kuwabara cleared his throat. “So how was the Hellmouth?”
Yusuke smirked around a mouthful of food; he cast a weary gaze at Keiko and swallowed it before answering. “I made a lasting impression on the local demon population.”
Kurama choked on his drink and waved Kuwabara off when he smacked his back. Once he recovered he shook his head. “What did you do?”
Yusuke shrugged. “Not much; I just declared Xander and one of his best friends off limits.”
Hiei tilted his head to the side and raised a brow; his eyes still held amusement over Kurama’s choking fit. “Xander?”
“That’s what he goes by, instead of Alexander. It suits him.”
Keiko rolled her eyes and sighed before lightly smacking Yusuke’s arm. “If you had to bully them, why did you only say one of his friends is not on the menu?”
“Because his other friend, who happens to be the girl he likes, is the Slayer.”
Hiei snorted. “Not even you could keep the girl from her fate. She won’t last long.” Kuwabara elbowed him in the side.
Yusuke shook his head. “Maybe she will. Botan said she’s been at it for more than a year, and she seems to be doing okay.”
“That may be true for now, but Slayers never live very long Yusuke. Demons and vampires are always eager to have the death of a slayer on their mantle.” Kurama spoke softly, his green eyes sad. “Their lives are like a fast burning flame that flickers in the wind.”
“Yeah, but how many Slayers have a support system? Botan told me how the Watcher’s Council operates. They’re nothing but a bunch of desk jockeys who don’t know what it’s like to risk your life in a fight.”
“Does this Slayer have a support system?” Kurama looked genuinely curious.
“The Slayer’s name is Buffy. Xander and Willow are her support system, they help with research…and Xander patrols when Buffy is training.” He grimaced. “I showed him a few moves and he never goes anywhere unarmed…I hope scaring the locals helped him out.”
“Poor kid.” Kuwabara shuddered. “Living on the Hellmouth with the Slayer as a friend. He’ll never get any piece.”
Yusuke nodded in agreement. “Yeah…but Xander had no peace to begin with. Our old man was a drunk, and a mean one. Tony has been knocking Xander and his mom, Jessica, around for years. I took care of the bastard, so he’ll never lay a hand on them again.” He chewed his food and glared at the surprised gazes of his friends.
“Yusuke?” Keiko put her hand on his arm.
“I didn’t kill him. I just left him out cold on the street for the vampires. He was gone in the morning. No blood though, so for all I know he could still be alive.” He shrugged. “Xander won’t miss him.”
Keiko smiled. “Good. Now…will someone please tell me what a Slayer is?”