by Mina Lightstar

Leorio listens to Kurapika gurgling mouthwash in the bathroom for thirty seconds before venturing, "You didn't say you were getting a headache."

The spit sounds venomous. "You shoved yourself into my mouth," Kurapika growls. "I couldn't say anything."

"Well," Leorio goes on, "it can't have been so bad, since you did it, anyway." He contemplates the bedroom wall and wonders if the neighbors are home. He hopes not.

The blond reappears in the doorway, hands holding a glass of water and two aspirin, and gives him a withering look. "I should have bitten you."

Leorio brainstorms. "No, we should have a safe-word for situations like this. Something like, 'Hisoka.'"

Kurapika shudders and downs the pills without comment.

"Or 'Mito-san?' How's that?"

"We don't need a safe-word," Kurapika snaps. "We just need to never, ever do that again."

Leorio pouts, because he likes the edge of roughness they sometimes employ, and he knows Kurapika does, too. Why else would someone so out of practice as Leorio succeed in tripping up a Blacklist Hunter? "Aw, don't say that. I'm really sorry." He rubs the back of his head. "I didn't know I was slamming your head into the wall quite... that... hard."

"How could you not have heard it?" Kurapika slams the water glass onto the nightstand. "I think the people down the hallway heard it."

"Can we chalk it up to being in the heat of the moment? It was good, wasn't it?" Leorio's eyes almost close as he remembers the role-play, where it was almost like they were fighting except that they were anything but; and Leorio recalls the thrill he got when he had Kurapika against the wall, and then on the ground, and then suddenly in his pants.

"My head hurts." The Kuruta glares at him balefully.

Guilt twists a knife in Leorio's stomach, but instead of flinching, he points out, "Hey, remember when you broke my anus? Didn't I forgive you?"

Kurapika sighs unhappily, disarmed.

"And anyway, you didn't complain when I pulled your hair and told you to do it." Leorio feels justified.

The blond shoves weakly at his shoulder and climbs into bed. When he flops onto the pillows, Leorio adds, "If you still ache tomorrow, we can play Doctor?"

His lover mumbles something that could be anything from "sure, okay," to "shut up, you ingrate."

Leorio leans over. "Hey... I am forgiven, aren't I? I didn't mean to hurt you." He has a feeling, though, Kurapika is more upset about the noise they apparently made, rather than the way Leorio's frantic thrusts forward had slammed the back of the blond's head into the wall he'd been forced against. And really, Leorio thinks, he chases criminals. He can handle a few bumps on the head. He bites back a smile when he remembers how pliant Kurapika had been after the fact, slumped against the wall with a dazed expression. He didn't remember the blond complaining about a headache at that point, either, though maybe that was because he had a concussion.

Kurapika rolls over so Leorio can see one eye, and says, "Yes, you're forgiven." Then he pulls a pillow over his head.

"Maybe it would have been better if I'd leaned against the wall," Leorio reflects, running one hand up and down Kurapika's spine. "Though... that wouldn't have fit the game. It was supposed to be rough." The blond isn't answering, but his breathing hasn't completely evened out, yet. "Hey," Leorio prods, "I should be home late tomorrow. Do you want to order take-out or something when I get in, or take care of yourself first?"

This time, Kurapika's mumble is audible. "I'll wait."

Leorio likes the feeling of relief he gets when it's affirmed that everything is Okay.


When the alarm rings at six o'clock, Leorio throws an arm out and blindly fumbles around for the "off" button. He finds it just as Kurapika begins to stir, and feels momentarily jealous of the blond, because he doesn't have to get up for another hour.

Leorio rolls out of bed, leaving Kurapika to sleep alone in a puddle of his own saliva, and goes about his morning routine.

Not an hour later, Leorio leaves the apartment, armed with his briefcase. He ends up taking the elevator with one of their neighbors, Ishida, and averts his eyes when the other man gives him a strange look.

He's relieved when, at the next floor down, more people get on. Leorio listens to the soft buzz of conversation, losing himself in the mundane tidbits of everyday life, but freezes up when someone mentions the upcoming Valentine's Day.

"Valentine's Day," Leorio whispers, and realization hits.

We have a problem.


It's almost nine o'clock at night when Leorio bursts into the apartment, breathless, as though he took the stairs instead of the elevator.

Kurapika is sitting on the couch, having just hung up the phone after ordering their dinner. He raises an eyebrow at his lover's disheveled appearance. "Are you okay?"

Leorio joins him on the couch after tossing his briefcase onto the chair. "Did you know that Valentine's Day is in less than a week?"

Kurapika blinks. "Yes. What of it?"

Suddenly, Leorio is kneeling before him, nervous fingers clutching his knees and bunching up the fabric of his pants. "Kurapika, will you marry me?"

"I -- what?" He tries to process this information. "Why?"

"Just answer!" Leorio sounds desperate. "It's a yes-or-no question!"

"Okay: No, I won't."

"Damn it!" Leorio hurls himself back onto the couch and fumes.

"Don't be angry," Kurapika admonishes. "You didn't even offer me a ring. That's just cheap."

Leorio is slouched with folded arms, but he peeks up at Kurapika at these words. "If I buy you a ring, will you say yes?"


"Well, damn it."

Kurapika frowns at him. "Leorio, why do you even want to get married?"

"I don't."

Now Kurapika fights the urge to strangle him. "Then why did you even ask me?"

"To see if you'd get all pretty and cry and say yes."

"... Sometimes I wonder if you know me at all. What if I had said yes?"

"Oh, I would have married you, of course. We're practically married already, anyway."

Kurapika stares at him for a few moments. Finally, he says, "Perhaps you should explain this."

Leorio, who is still brooding, makes a face. "Valentine's Day is coming, you know."

"That doesn't mean we have to get married," Kurapika reassures him, as though speaking to a small child.

"I know that! But for Valentine's Day, girls give presents to boys."

"... And?"

"Well, one of us has to be the girl."

It's so, so hard not to laugh in Leorio's face. "Why?"

"Because one of us has to give the other a present, and the other has to reciprocate on White Day!"

Kurapika's reply is interrupted with the buzzer of their apartment. Their food has arrived. He gets up to go and take care of the deliveryman. Once the food is distributed, he shakes his head. "Leorio, your logic is... interesting. I'm the one who got the concussion last night, remember?"

"I was trying to figure out who would be the girl for Valentine's Day," Leorio defends himself. "If you know a better way, then by all means."

"All right, will you marry me?"

"Hell no! I'm not wearing a dress!"

Kurapika pulls his chopsticks apart. "Hear that? That's the sound of my heart breaking."

"Shut up! You even know how to put make-up on. You should be the girl."

"Why don't we just exchange gifts on both holidays?" Kurapika suggests.

"No," Leorio tries to get out around a dumpling. "I refuse to be emasculated for the benefit of chocolate companies."

"Okay, why don't we just refrain from celebrating either one?"

"What? No! They're love holidays and we're in love and so we should celebrate them."

"Seems to me like they're chocolate holidays, but fine. We could flip a coin?"

"I can't believe you're betting my penis on a coin."

"I can't believe we're having this discussion, either."

"Well, if it's silly, why don't you just be the girl?"


"Why not? Someone has to be."

"No, it's stupid. I'm not a girl, and I won't be a stand-in for one, either."

"It'll be like taking one for the team!"

"You are an idiot, and the answer is no."


"And you're awfully keen on hanging on to this so-called masculinity of yours." Kurapika plucks a dumpling from Leorio's carton. "Are you insecure?"

"If you're so confident in yours, be a girl!"


Leorio growls to himself and mutters, "Everyone always called you my wife, anyway."

Kurapika turns his nose up. "I hope you found the vibrators, because you can forget about me tonight."

"See?" Leorio snarls. "Woman!"


Leorio leaves before he does in the morning, so Kurapika doesn't know if they are still on the subject of his castration for Valentine's Day. He hopes the older man has decided to let the matter drop. Honestly, proposing marriage because of a stupid holiday about chocolate, all because one of them was supposed to be a girl for one day? And people say I'm the weird one.

It's quiet in the Yamada household and the highlight of Kurapika's day is going with the driver to pick up little Yamada Aiko from school. When he gets back, though, the butler informs him there's been a delivery for him.

"You got a present?" Aiko asks him after the butler retreats to retrieve the package.

Kurapika is shaking his head, because he suspects he knows who made the delivery -- why it was delivered to the Yamada house instead of his apartment.

When the butler returns with a bouquet of a dozen roses, Kurapika drops his face into his hands.

"Pretty!" Aiko exclaims.


Leorio is between patients when his cellphone rings. He knows from the ringtone that it's Kurapika, and so the first thing he says when he answers is, "Baby, hi! How are you?"

"I hate you so much."

"That's harsh," Leorio remarks. "Something bothering you?"

"Twelve things are bothering me. What are you doing?"

Leorio grins widely because Kurapika can't see it. "I'm only trying to do the prettiest lover in the world a little justice."

"I'm not flattered."

Leorio moves the phone away and snickers. Then, "You mean you... didn't like them?" He puts some hurt and hesitance into his voice.

He can feel Kurapika struggling on the other end. "I'm hanging up now."

"Bye-bye, cupcake."

It's hard to hang up a cellphone violently, but he has a feeling Kurapika tries.


Kurapika is typically home first, and so he usually has dinner ready by the time Leorio gets in.

Not today.

He expects to get a bouquet in the face, and is surprised when he doesn't. He's even more surprised to find the roses in a vase on the kitchen table.

"My god, I turned him into a woman."

This is hardly the case, though, because Kurapika is napping on the couch and still appears to be a boy. Leorio puts his things away and then goes to sit down on the edge of the sofa. Kurapika stirs when Leorio starts tracing the line of his jaw, and Leorio swallows. The roses had been primarily a joke, but the fact that Kurapika kept them anyway makes something in Leorio's belly tighten.

"I'm not a woman," Kurapika mutters, and Leorio starts when he sees the blue-green eyes open and give him a half-lidded stare.

"Pretty enough, though," Leorio replies, and shifts, moving on top of the blond.

Strangely, he's met with resistance. He stares down at the small, but strong, hand splayed against his chest, holding him back. "Kurapika?"

"I said, I'm not a woman." And then Kurapika shoves, and they end up on the floor.

For the first time since they've been together, they honestly fight for Top.


Leorio aches all over. His back stings a bit, too. Kurapika's nails are too short to do any damage, but the blond knows how to dig. He has a bruise on his left arm, another on his right thigh, and a bite mark on his left shoulder. (For all his "I'm not a woman" spiel, Kurapika seemingly has no qualms about using his teeth and nails.) He doesn't know exactly what he did to Kurapika, except for the impressive bruise on his right hip.

He doesn't think last night was particularly satisfying for either of them. There was neither winner nor loser, on top of that -- just a lot of wrestling.

His secretary pops her head into his office. "Sensei? There's a package for you at the front desk."

Leorio groans inwardly, because he doesn't want to move. "All right," he says, and follows her to sign for his delivery. He has a feeling he knows who it's from.

He's right.

"Sensei," one of the younger secretaries exhales softly. There's a faint blush decorating her cheeks and she raises one hand to her mouth. "That's romantic."

"No, it isn't. It's retaliation." Leorio doesn't even glance at the roses and instead unwraps the box. It's chocolate -- heart-shaped, of course, because Kurapika is a jerk -- and Leorio samples one because he can't help it. It melts in his mouth as he moves on to the card. When he reads it, he knows his face becomes as red as the envelope it came in.

"For My Wife."

... That bitch.


Kurapika smirks when his phone rings. Judging from the tune, it's Leorio. He's in traffic on the way home but everyone is only creeping along, so he answers. "Yes?"

"You have great legs," Leorio tells him. "Therefore, remember that skirt you wore a few years ago during the whole York Shin fiasco? I think you should wear that for me tonight."

"Mm, no, I think you should wear it for me."

"Oh, I think not. I also think you should get home before me, if you know what's good for you."

"I'm always--"

"You have the car today, too. I have to go home carrying all of these presents on the subway."

"Leorio, shouldn't you be working?"

"I'm leaving early. The director let me leave to get even with my lover. She's obviously married." Leorio hangs up on him.

Kurapika stares at the phone for a few seconds, and turns down the next street he passes to get out of traffic, and takes another way home.


The elevator takes too long to show up, so Kurapika runs up the stairs instead. As he unlocks their door he thinks, We're being so ridiculous, and, I wonder what he's up to?

He bursts into the apartment and shuts the door behind him. The first thing he notices is that they have a new addition to the household: An oversized, brown stuffed bear holding an equally oversized heart. It's sitting in the chair in the living room.

"Very funny," he calls, knowing Leorio is probably in the bedroom; he can see the light under the closed door. "The bear is adorable. I think I'll sleep with him instead."

He makes his way to the bedroom, but takes a quick detour to the kitchen. He smiles despite himself when he sees more roses on the table. Leorio kept his, too, it seems.

When he opens the bedroom door, however, he's taken aback. The shades are drawn and the light he saw was coming from the dozens of candles strewn about the room. They are all burning despite the roses laid about. The room is starting to look like a florist's. The bed-sheets are dark blue, but Kurapika can see that there are rose petals in the bed, too.

"... Leorio, this is a fire hazard."

"It is not." And then the door shuts and Leorio, who was hiding behind it, jumps.


Later, roses are all he can smell -- and strawberries, whipped cream, and Leorio all he can taste. It was a good tactic, Kurapika admits. He's brainstorming a way to strike back, albeit lazily, because he isn't in a mood to do much of anything at the moment. Leorio is amusing himself by gathering rose petals and raining them down on their bodies. Then he strokes the ones on Kurapika's back into his skin.

"Stop that," Kurapika says after a while. He's trying to sleep and the smooth petals coupled with Leorio's firm hands are distracting.

"Why? Because you smell like a girl now?"

Kurapika stiffens, remembering they're still in the middle of a stupid pseudo-war. "There's still time before Valentine's Day, you know." He's wondering, even now, how they are going to settle this, because neither of them will ever agree to be the "woman" -- Leorio because he's too insecure about losing his masculinity, Kurapika because of the principle of the entire thing.

"And how do you plan on topping this?" Leorio taunts. "Because I did a good job of topping, if I do say so myself."

Kurapika bites the pillowcase to avoid saying something nasty.


Leorio is sure they've spent more money on each other in the past week than they ever have in all the years they've known one another. In the two days before Valentine's Day, their house has become some kind of flower forest, they have more chocolate than they know what to do with, and they share the place with a dozen or so teddy bears of various sizes. Leorio even went the extra step and got Kurapika a pearl necklace. He hasn't seen it around, so he thinks the blond gave it to the little Yamada girl.

But Leorio thinks he's won, and smirks at the ceiling. Not only did he have reservations to The Gilded Platter tonight, but Kurapika hadn't come home with any gifts, either. Maybe that means he's accepted the loss. Maybe Leorio will get chocolate tomorrow.


Leorio doesn't get chocolate. What he does get makes him stumble backwards, away from the counter, away from the little black box. "What -- what--?"

The worst part is that it's really nice.

"So?" Kurapika asks as he appears in the doorway. "What do you think?"

"I think..." Leorio swallows, makes a fist, "I think...."

"Want to know what I think? I think I win." Kurapika smirks at him and then pads across the kitchen to start making coffee.

Leorio starts to chuckle, and it goes on for so long that Kurapika eventually stares at him with concern.

"Leorio, are you okay?"

"You win!" he crows, making Kurapika blink. Not one to go down without a fight, Leorio grabs the box and proceeds to fawn over the ring. "And yes, I will marry you."

"Ah?" Kurapika asks, dumbly.

"How did you get my finger size so perfectly? Or do I want to know?" Leorio slips the ring on and holds his hand up to the light, watching the diamonds sparkle.

Now Kurapika looks nervous. "Leorio, what are you doing?"

Leorio feigns surprise. "Accepting your proposal, of course."

"Nono, I didn't propose." The blond starts forward, reaches out.

Leorio pulls the ring back out of reach. "You can't take something like this back."

"Oh, yes, I can." Kurapika makes a grab for it, but Leorio catches his wrist and presses a kiss to its inside.

"I love you, too," Leorio tells him, enjoying the glare it provokes.

"Stop it, and give it back." Kurapika grabs at it again. "It cost me 245,348 zenny."

Leorio whistles quietly. "I hope you kept the receipt."

"Of course I did." Kurapika keeps glaring. "You were supposed to throw a fit at receiving a ring, not put it on!"

"But I've learned my lesson," Leorio tells him. "Neither of us has to take on a woman's role. We can be hermaphrodites."

"That's fantastic, now give it back." Kurapika gasps when Leorio lifts him onto the counter. He starts fighting for the ring again, but pauses in the face of Leorio's serious expression.

"Later?" Leorio asks, even as he moves in for a kiss. The ring still feels foreign on his finger. He wants Kurapika to feel the diamonds against his skin.

Kurapika pulls back a little, though there are cupboards behind him and so he doesn't have far to go. Leorio's heart sinks for an instant, thinking maybe the blond is still mad about his act before.

But all Kurapika says is, "Turn off the coffeemaker first."


They return the ring in the afternoon and end up giving the stuffed animals to the local children's hospital. They keep the chocolate, though, and rose petals are a frequent addition to their bed.