GanjuHana. New Year's, the eleventh, and a little romance.
New Years in Sereitei means fireworks, fighting, and drinking, which means the fourth division have quite a bit on their hands. Since Hanataro is small and easily manipulated, he was given the task of coordinating the eleventh division clean-up squad, an annual nightmare of blood and broken bones. Or, at least, he let people think that he had been coerced into doing it. It might have been a secret little wish of his that he just never told anybody.
Because a certain someone had recently joined the eleventh division's gang of goons and it was a certain someone that Hanataro wished to see in the new year with. If he could get up the courage.
"Um..." he stuttered, stepping around a collapsing body and peering up anxiously at Yumichika. He had chosen the pretty fourth in command due to the fact that he was the one who was looking the least like he was going to pass out, throw up, or bleed all over him. Not that he didn't mind those sorts of things, but Hanataro kind of wanted to look nice for when the certain someone saw him, no matter how disgusting said certain person was likely to look after being in the center of this brawl of a party.
"He's over there, dear boy."
Hanataro got a vaguely waved hand in the direction of the furthest corner away from himself, and as he ducked and dodged and did the usual stutter-step dance through the mad throng of people he was vaguely embarrassed that Yumichika had known who he had been looking for without having been told. Had it become that obvious? Were there already that many rumors?
And then was he was mentally panicking someone managed to elbow him in the side of the head, kick him behind the knees and he was tumbling to the ground except /not/.
Large, firm hands held him a few inches off the ground, and then lifted him high above the chaos.
"Hey, Hana-chan, what'cha doin' here? 's dangerous fer a little thing like you, yanno!"
Being slung over someone's shoulder as they elbowed their way out of a fracas was not usually the most dignified of situations, but at least it kept Hanataro's blush out of sight, for the time being.
Ganju's drawl was intensified by drink and what looked like a bruise that was rising on his jaw. Automatically, Hanataro reached into the satchel over his shoulder and pulled out a salve that he smeared onto his fingers and reached up to dab at the swelling skin. If he focused on this manual task, perhaps he wouldn't get so embarrassed.
"I came to look for you," he replied quietly, and after he said it was afraid that he had said it too quietly because then he might have to say it again and he wasn't sure he could get up that courage again.
When he looked up, Ganju was giving him The Serious Eyes, which made him blush and look down and take his fingers away from the stubble on the unshaven chin. Wiping them off carefully, he replaced the jar of salve in his pouch and was surprised and pleased (or as pleased as someone can be with a nest of snakes twisting around in their stomach) when that burn-scarred hand cupped his cheek.
And then the fireworks went off, a booming sound erupted from the piles of men out in the fighting square almost as loud as the pyrotechnics, and Hanataro jumped a foot in the air during what could have been the most climactic moment of his life. The top of his head banged against the bottom of Ganju's chin and a muffled ow barely reached his ears as he felt tears rise in his eyes. Half pain, half embarrassment.
"I'm... sorry..." he sobbed, fingers clenching in Ganjyu's new bloodstained uniform. "I just wanted... So useless..." A heavy sniffle.
Somewhere from behind the booze and adrenaline, a living, breathing mind worked in Ganjyu's head, and he had come to learn Hanataro so well by now that he could even anticipate something like this. Holding out a pristine handkerchief, when Hanataro looked like he couldn't even see it he was wailing so loud, he dabbed it himself against the tear-wetted cheeks.
His voice was low now, below the roar of noise that rushed around them. He was like a large tree that stood and bent the path of the river around it, keeping the little stone safe. And in one of those weird surreal moments of enlightenment, he realized: He was awkward, but could be taught and Hanataro was perpetually terrified, but could be brave. They would work out.
That was how their first kiss came to pass, with exploding fireworks and screams of pain to back it, during the first moments of a new year.
Some things were meant to last forever.