Strify stepped into the shower and almost went sprawling backwards as one foot hit something slippery and flew out from under him. Luckily there was a handle on the wall for just such occasions and he grabbed it before he hit the ground.
"What the fuck," he said very loudly, just in case Kiro was in hearing distance and could hence feel guilt.
This had to be Kiro's fault, since Strify definitely hadn't left anything in the shower for his poor unfortunate flat mate to nearly kill himself on. However, he was a little bit confused when he lifted his foot and peeled off what appeared to be a squashed flower head. Once upon a time it had been a very pretty variegated daisy, but now it was just a lethal mess. The question that popped into his head was obvious: what the hell had Kiro been doing with a flower in the shower?
Checking the floor for other hazards, he climbed in the rest of the way and turned on the water. It wasn't until he was halfway through washing that he noticed the glitter.
"Kiro!" he yelled at the top of his lungs as he stepped out of the shower in a furious rage.
He was dripping glittery water all over the floor and he grabbed a towel and stormed out of the bathroom ready to rip someone a new one. Whoever had thought this was a good joke had another think coming.
"Wha..?" Kiro asked, stepping out of the room down the hall.
The look of complete shock on Kiro's face all but let him off the hook as Strify stood there glittering, but it did not calm Strify's ire.
"Someone is going to die," he said in a very low and dangerous voice.
Kiro had enough sense not to argue with that pronouncement and walked up to him instead.
"It's pretty," Kiro said, reaching out to tentatively touch Strify's wet and glittery shoulder, "oh, and it's dissolving."
Strify looked down at that, surprised enough that he forgot his anger for a moment. The glitter did indeed seem to be dissolving and slowly disappearing, but that still didn't excuse the joke.
"Call a band meeting," he said in a tone that begged no argument and then stormed back into the bathroom to see if he could salvage his hair at least.
Since Romeo and Yu lived in the next apartment and he knew Shin was over playing video games with Yu, he didn't expect it to take long. He wanted to know who thought they could vandalise his and Kiro's shower and he wanted to know immediately. Ten minutes later, still sparkling in a few places, he made a grand entrance into their kitchen and found the rest of the band sitting around the table.
"We didn't do it," Yu said almost instantly; "no matter what you think, we didn't do it, we swear."
That rather took the wind out of Strify's sails; he wanted someone to yell at.
"I'll make coffee," Shin said, standing up and heading for the fridge where they kept the good stuff.
"If one of you didn't do it," Strify said, feeling suddenly less secure, but believing his band mates nevertheless, "who did? Glitter doesn't just come from nowhere."
The idea that someone might have broken into their home was not one he liked.
"Um," Shin said from over by the fridge.
Strify had just about had enough and he all but pushed Shin aside when he walked over to find out what the hell was going on now. He really, really did not expect what he found; the fridge was full of flowers, tiny, delicate, white flowers that glistened as if they were made of ice. Not one space that was not taken up by food was free of them.
"What the hell?" Yu said and Strify found that everyone else had followed him and was now standing behind him.
Not sure what else to do, Strify reached out and plucked one of the tiny flowers from its resting place and lifted it up so he could see it better. It was remarkably beautiful with little blue stamens and for a moment Strify was captivated, until, that was, he remembered that this was freaky and should not be happening.
"I think," Romeo said quietly, "you might have attracted the attention of a Fae."
Strify wasn't sure whether to be afraid or excited.
"Don't be silly," he said in lieu of anything better to say.
"Those aren't normal flowers," Yu pointed out and Strify shut the fridge as if doing so would negate that statement.
Fae were dangerous and unpredictable and attracting their attention was not always good. They interacted with humans, but only on their terms and when they felt like it. There was a saying: "Fae could make or break you" and Strify wasn't sure he wanted to find out.
"Glitter is good," Shin said, as if trying to cheer him up, "that's fairy dust, at least, um, I think it's good."
Strify wasn't overly comforted. Not sure what to do he walked over to the table and sat down and the others followed him.
"Everything seems nice so far," Yu said hopefully.
"Yeah," Kiro said and Strify looked up at his friend, "flowers are friendly."
Then Kiro did something that derailed the whole conversation, he tucked his hair behind his ear and Strify's eyes zeroed in. Kiro had his hair in a loose plait that meant it had been hanging over his ears, but now Strify could see the one nearest him and he didn't remember it being like that before.
"Ch ... changeling," Romeo said, voicing what Strify was thinking and pointing right at Kiro.
"What?" Kiro said and looked behind himself. "Where?"
It was only then that Kiro seemed to realise that everyone was looking at him. Strify made a little motion to his own ear to give Kiro a clue. Changelings were Fae who had been substituted for human children in the cradle and they were usually placed there for malicious purposes. The only problem was, they were supposed to know what they were and Kiro looked utterly dumbfounded. Very slowly Kiro reached up and touched his own ear, feeling over the gentle point and then he was scrambling up and going for the nearest reflective surface, which happened to be the toaster.
Just recently Kiro had been a little emotionally delicate, which given that he seemed to have been going through some changes no longer seemed very surprising, but Strify was still quite surprised when Kiro just burst into tears. At the same moment it began to rain ... in the kitchen ... right over Romeo. Just for a second Strify wasn't sure whether to laugh or throw a complete wobbly, but as Romeo began to swear and Kiro crumpled into a little heap on the kitchen floor he decided that perhaps dealing with the situation would be better. Without really being sure what he was going to do Strify stood up and went to Kiro, pulling his sobbing friend into his arms.
"Ssh," he said, holding Kiro close and gently stroking Kiro's hair, "it's okay."
Kiro's arms snaked around him and clung to him and he did his best to think of something to say.
"You didn't know?" he asked quietly.
He took the slightest of head shakes against his chest to mean 'no'. According to reports, Fae did not just abandon their children to humans, in fact changelings weren't even supposed to be children, but just Fae pretending to be children so they could cause trouble. Like a cuckoo in a nest, but clearly, Kiro wasn't that.
"Well then you're not an evil changeling are you?" he continued, hoping that he didn't sound like a complete idiot. "You're still you, but you have magic."
He glanced over at Romeo who looked very wet and not overly happy.
"You have to calm down, Kiro," he said soothingly. "I mean Romeo's soaked and you're going to flood the kitchen."
The puddle of water around Romeo was spreading.
"And they were really nice flowers and the glitter wasn't so bad, it was just a shock," he added, hoping that Kiro would respond.
Why Kiro had chosen now to manifest Fae powers, Strify had no idea, but he could roll with it. If Kiro wasn't an evil changeling then he had to be something else and they would figure out what and then everything would be fine. That was just how it was going to be.
"We'll figure it out," he promised, resolute in his decision.
Only then did frightened, red rimmed, tear filled eyes finally peer up at him.
"Really?" Kiro asked in a very quiet voice.
"You doubt me?" Strify asked as if it was impossible and then placed a little kiss on Kiro's forehead just because he felt like it.
The rain stopped and a sprinkle of white flowers and one pretty daisy appeared on the kitchen table. Strify was rather surprised and looked down at Kiro, but Kiro was looking at the floor and blushing; there was definitely something going on there, but Strify decided it was not quite the right time.
"Right," Strify decided and began to stand up, pulling Kiro with him, "let's take this to the living room. Someone get Romeo a towel on the way."
They had one big arm chair and a sofa, so he took the chair and pulled Kiro into his lap. It wasn't as if Kiro was heavy and he had decided Kiro needed the support, so support he was getting. Yu and Shin sat on the sofa and Romeo, very sensibly in Strify's opinion, chose to sit on the floor while drying himself off with the borrowed towel.
"Anyone have any ideas?" he asked, tucking Kiro under his chin as if Kiro was a child needing comfort.
Since Kiro tended to make himself very small when he was upset, this worked quite well.
"Hidden children," Shin said as if he'd just had a revelation after a few minutes awkward silence.
Then Shin was off the sofa and kneeling next to the coffee table where Strify had left his laptop from an earlier browsing session. Strify could just about see that Shin had Google open and was looking for something.
"There," Shin said triumphantly and pointed at the screen, "in 1885 there was a Fae war and to save their children some of the great houses hid them with human families like changelings. In 1895 they reclaimed them once the war was over."
"Shin," Yu pointed out, "we're a long way from 1885."
"But maybe it's the same type of thing," Romeo finally entered the conversation; "Kiro could have been hidden with a human family because he was in danger."
Shin made a little humming noise.
"It says here the human families were chosen carefully and they knew what they were doing," Shin said, clearly reading further, "and they were forbidden to tell the children anything and they took an oath to treat them like their own."
Kiro gave a sniff at that, but didn't say anything.
"I think," Strify decided as he mulled over the situation in his mind, "that Kiro needs to talk to him mum."
That caused Kiro to squeak and make himself even smaller.
"Okay," Strify decided, "Yu gets to talk to Kiro's mum and be very subtle. I would do it, but I don't do subtle."
There was no objection from Kiro, so Strify took that as an affirmative and put his plan into action.
An hour later Kiro was cuddling a cushion and talking to his mum on the phone and seemed far more relaxed about the whole thing. It turned out his mum did know everything and had only been dissuaded from climbing into the car there and then by some very fast talking on Strify's part once the need for subtle hints was over. Strify didn't know the details, but Kiro had been talking to his mum for nearly three quarters off an hour, a lot of the time just listening, and Strify had hopes that everything would be sorted out.
He had sent the other's back to Yu and Romeo's apartment with promises of explanations later and now he was just waiting for Kiro to finish his phone call. There was something else he wanted to know about as well.
When he finally saw Kiro put the phone down he gave up pretending to be doing anything else and walked over and perched on the edge of the sofa.
"So," he asked, going for flippant rather than serious, "are you a lost prince?"
Kiro gave him a little smile for that.
"Not quite," his friend replied, still appearing shaken, but at least calm.
The little points of his ears were showing through his now messy hair and Strify found himself wanting to reach out and touch.
"Mum says my biological family had a run in with a renegade house," Kiro offered quietly, "and they've hidden me until it's all sorted out. Mum's going to contact someone about what's happened."
That was his opening.
"And what has happened?" he asked as gently as he could given what he suspected. "Is there something you want to tell me?"
Kiro was suddenly looking anywhere but at him and Strify began to believe his suspicions were not far off the mark.
"I'm not completely Fae unaware," he said as Kiro did his best to hide behind his cushion, "I read the books as a kid too. Fairy gold dust isn't just glitter is it?"
He'd started putting it together once he had had time to not be so worried about Kiro and he was remembering things from when he had found Fae fascinating.
"Ummm," was all Kiro said.
Fairy gold dust was a gift, a protection gift; he'd looked it up after the others had gone. Kiro might have been doing things unconsciously, but Strify was pretty sure Kiro's subconscious had some very specific things in mind.
"Kiro," Strify said, leaning over towards the chair, "do you like me as in really like me?"
Since he was getting nowhere fast, he decided to be direct about it.
Kiro looked up at him then.
"I think I might love you," was the barely audible response.
It was Strify's turn to be shocked. He professed not to believe in true love, but actually he did, he just never thought it would happen to him. It was easier to pretend that something didn't exist than to think of yourself as left out, but the way Kiro was looking at him had him thinking that maybe it wasn't so impossible.
"And that's why you've started to change?" he asked, wanting to understand what was really happening.
"Mum said it was because I wanted to show you the real me, even though I didn't know there was a real me to show," Kiro said, clearly still a little confused by the whole thing.
Strify found himself smiling at that; being backwards about things was very Kiro.
"I like the real you," he said, finding the need to be completely honest about it.
That made Kiro's face light up with happiness and a shower of the little white flowers and half a dozen of the daisies appeared on the coffee table. Kiro blushed a lovely pink and Strify just laughed.
"We are going to have to get a hold of that though," he said, amused and touched that Kiro's magic was so attached to him.
He stood up and took the step to the chair and offered his hand to Kiro. Kiro did not seem to want to come out from behind his cushion shield, but eventually the little bassist took the offered hand and slowly uncurled. Strify pulled Kiro up to a standing position and wrapped one arm around his little Fae.
"Thank you," he said, putting his forehead against Kiro's. "Thank you for showing me what is right in front of me, because, as you know I sometimes miss the details. Thank you for your gifts. I can be a little dense when it comes to matters of the heart, so you're going to have to give me a little time, but I hope I won't disappoint you."
A Fae's love was hard to earn, that was one thing he did remember very well from what he had read as a teenager and Strify was not about to throw that away. That this Fae was Kiro made it all the sweeter and he lent his head to one side and gently placed his lips on Kiro's. It was the sweetest kiss he had ever had and only something light hitting his head made his draw back.
"Um, Kiro," he said, surveying the living room, "just for the record; no sex until you have control of the flowers thing."
The whole room was covered in a carpet of blooms.