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by what should i call you?

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Ah, the wild Rob Lucci in his natural habitat of the Cipher Pol headquarters. He sits on an armchair in one of the many lounges that connect the agents’ rooms. This one happens to be his favorite chair in his favorite longue, given how often he is found there. He holds a book on his lap, per usual. This book is one Lucci happens to have been reading for a couple weeks now. He appears to be on the last couple of chapters and, given approximately twenty minutes to himself, will be able to finish the compelling novel today. His fingers turn the pages with such grace, such majesty, and the world is at peace.

 

Time to fuck it all up.

 

Kaku steps into the room, making sure his footsteps are purposefully loud. Not exaggeratedly loud, but loud enough to set off Lucci’s keen senses and distract him from his book. The blonde has to push down an impish grin as he walks behind Lucci’s chair and takes in a deep breath that makes Lucci cringe with frustration and growing anger. Letting the breath out with a happy sigh, Kaku drapes himself over Lucci’s favorite armchair. (Oh, he can almost hear Lucci growl at someone else touching ‘Lucci’s’ chair! How fun!) 

 

“How’s your book, honey bun?” Kaku asks, his voice a croon that would sound more fitting coming from someone in a domestic, loving relationship than it does coming from a highly trained assassin that wants to pester his fellow agent. He rests one arm along Lucci’s shoulders as his other hand comes up to gently run his fingers through the long, dark hair. Or course, due to Lucci’s hair being very curly, Kaku’s fingers get tangled in Lucci’s hair. Kaku frowns as he has to tug his hand free, but he smiles again once he gets it free from the curls and sees that he sufficiently messed up Lucci’s hair.

 

Lucci glares at the other CP-9 agent as he slides a bookmark - a nice metal one Kalifa had gotten him for a past birthday - between the pages he’s currently on. “Hello, Kaku. Still trying to use nicknames, I see,” Lucci comments as casually as if he was remarking on the weather they’ve been having. He closes his book and sets it on the small table next to the chair. “I’ve told you to stop several times now. Why do you refuse?”

 

“Be- cause,” Kaku says, emphasizing and drawing out the sound of the word to an almost annoying amount, “I give everyone nicknames! Ev-er-y-one! And everyone likes them! Even Kalifa and Jabra!” He crosses his arms and sits on the arm of the chair, which nearly earns him a scolding from Lucci, but he cuts the other agent off. “Seriously, why don’t you like it? It helps moral and brings us closer as a team!”

 

“I’ll have to disagree with you on that,” Lucci replies coolly and calmly. (Well, as calmly as he can given his now interrupted free time and his mussed hair.) He crosses his arms as his gold eyes coldly regard Kaku and dismiss him as something unworthy of his time. “Now I’d appreciate it if you’d leave me to my book, seeing as I’m done talking to you.”

 

“Ouch! Now you’re just bein’ mean, honey bun,” Kaku says with an exaggeratedly false wince, but his smirk obviously gives away his ruse. “I just wanted to ask how your book is. Is that really so wrong?” The younger agent leans against Lucci’s side with a mischievous grin on his face. “Can’t I just be a good friend and ask about your interests?”

 

Lucci scoffs and glares at Kaku from out of his peripherals as he picks up his book again, opening it to the page he was on before pulling the bookmark out and setting it back on the table. “We aren’t friends, you hard-headed fool.” The gesture is clearly dismissive, someone as naturally charismatic and sociabible as Kaku should know, but you know what? Kaku doesn’t feel like being dismissed right now.

 

So, instead of getting off the chair and leaving the room, Kaku slides off the arm of the chair and into Lucci’s lap. He straddles Lucci’s mid-thighs before getting as comfortable as he can and sitting on Lucci’s legs, purposefully getting as close as possible just to annoy the taller agent. And the word ‘taller’ does cross Kaku’s mind, given that even like this, the top of Kaku’s head  is barely even with Lucci’s. Hell, if someone were to have to pick who was taller in this position, they’d only be right if they said ‘Rob Lucci.’ Kaku nearly scowls at their height difference; he’s the giraffe, so why the diddly darn fuck is Lucci the taller one?! Seriously, it’s just stupid and unfair and Kaku does not appreciate it!

 

But, ignoring that, Kaku continues with his (already successful) attempt to annoy Lucci. Looking down at the book, he leans forward until his own head is in Lucci’s face, his hair completely obscuring the other man’s vision. Kaku pretends to read the book for a few long moments as he feels Lucci draw in a breath that’s probably meant to calm the dark-haired man, but doesn’t sound the least bit calm. In fact, it sounds frustrated, the annoyance only becoming more clear the longer the exhale lasts. However, despite (read: because of) Lucci’s frustration, Kaku’s grin only grows wider. He pretends to read the page for a few seconds, even going as far as to scan the page, reading the lines upside down and backwards. He doesn’t even pick up on the words, memorizing ab-so-lute-ly nothing, because he truly does not care about the book in the least. But it’s all for the fun, isn’t it? 

 

Yes, yes it is. And Kaku is pleased as punch and having a dandy time.

 

“Gosh, this is a really interesting story,” Kaku comments with a false casualness in his voice. Truly, he’s just barely holding back laughter. “You have really good taste in books, honey bun. Can I borrow this book once you’re done with it? It seems like a really good read.” The shorter agent moves one hand up to try and turn the page, even though he knows he won’t be able to because Lucci’s hands are currently on the page, holding it flat. Still, just for effect, Kaku gives a small not-attempt to turn the page, though he knows it won’t work. 

 

And, just as expected, Lucci’s hand stays firmly in place, holding the pages in their current position. (Kaku doesn’t tug too hard because he doesn’t want to tear the thin pages. He’s not some sort of animal!) A low growl comes from deep in Lucci’s chest, and Kaku knows he’s won the challenge he has with himself. “Kaku, I will give you one last chance to leave the room. After that, I will not guarantee your safety or good health will remain in tact.” Lucci’s voice sounds calm, but just barely. Ah, another point for Kaku. How sweet the victory is.

 

But Kaku isn’t going to push the other agent too far today. He doesn’t quite feel like getting hurt today. After all, his bruises from their last mission are just barely fading in color like leaves in autumn, and he doesn’t need a fresh set blooming like flowers next to the dead leaves. After all, seasons need time to change and Kaku, in his infinite wisdom, wants a season without so many goddamn bruises on his upper chest that make breathing more painful. “Alright, alright,” Kaku says with an exaggeratedly reluctant sigh following his words. He swiftly slides off of Lucci’s lap and stands in front of Lucci, giving the older man one last look over before grinning mischievously. “Okay, honey bun, I’ll be going now. I’ll see you around! Let me know when you finish your book. I’d love to talk about what you think about that plot twist in Sano’s love life. I mean, who was expecting Sano to end up with Hatsu?”

 

“I was,” Lucci replies without so much as a glance. His voice sounds like the rattling of a snake amongst tallgrass, getting ready to strike. Kaku best be leaving now, before he finds venom in his body rather than pride in his accomplishment of annoying Rob Lucci.

 

“‘Course you were,” Kaku replies before turning on his heel and beginning to walk towards the entrance and into the hallway. His shit-eatting grin is still in its place on Kaku’s lips as he calls back over his shoulder, “Enjoy the book, honey bun.”

 



The sun is barely more than a promise on the edge of the horizon by the time Kaku comes down to the training grounds. Despite having trained new members for the entirety of the previous day, Kaku hadn’t been able to sleep. His body had been ready for a good fight, for a true challenge, but none of the recruits had been able to offer even a solid, true hit on him! Late until the night, the training had lasted, and even later had the racing of Kaku’s mind had gone on. His blood had been filled with adrenaline for the rest of the night until the night had turned into early morning. With no way to release all this built up energy in his body, Kaku had been forced to lay in bed, his mind racing because his body couldn’t. 

 

So, just as the sun begins to crawl over the hills, Kaku stands in the training field, both filled with energy and drained of it entirely. As he begins stretching out his muscles, the blonde man wonders how that can possibly be. How is he both still energetic yet completely tired and in desperate need of a good nap at the very least? The answer remains a complete mystery to Kaku, but dang it, if he knew, he’d choose to be one or the either, because this in-between state is frustrating. 

 

Kaku reaches his arms above his head and pushes himself onto his toes, letting his body be pulled taut like a string is pulling him upwards. A low groan is forced up from somewhere deep in Kaku’s chest as he holds the position for a few moments. He draws in a deep breath before letting it blow out past his lips, warm breath creating a faint cloud in the cool air. Slowly, Kaku lowers himself back into a normal standing position, his feet in a steady stance as he pulls one arm across his chest with the other arm, stretching it out until the muscles in his upper arm begin to complain. Then he switches arms, repeating the action until the heat from nearly over-stretching begins to bloom in his other shoulder. He drops his arms back to his side, a tingling sensation following soon after. 

 

Another deep inhale of cool air is pulled into Kaku’s lungs as the strange but familiar sensation fades from his arms. The breath is released slowly as Kaku cracks his knuckles, loud pops sounding out over the training grounds. The blonde man tilts his head to each side, popping his neck before Kaku rolls his shoulders, stretching them out with a pleased hum. “What a lovely morning,” He says out loud to the cobblestones and darkened windows and lazy morning clouds. Brown eyes don’t even glance behind him as Kaku calls over his shoulder, “Right, shnookums?”

 

“I detest that nickname more than any given prior to that one.” 

 

Lucci’s figure moves from out of the entrance of the courtyard, closing the heavy door behind him without a hint of any emotion on his face. Like Kaku, he’s not dressed in his assassin clothing this early in the day; instead, both men wear training gear. For Lucci, this means well-kept t-shirt, athletic pants, and tightly laced tennis shoes. For Kaku, this means ratty, well-worn joggers and tennis shoes that will fall apart before another month can pass. 

 

“I bet you do,” Kaku responds with a wide, mischievous grin beneath gleaming eyes. He puts his hands on his hips and turns his upper body to the side, releasing the built-up pressure in his spine in a series of loud cracks and pops. Though he can’t see Lucci, he can feel the taller man moving to stand next to Kaku and begin his own stretches as Kaku continues talking. “And I ain’t gonna lie to you, I don’t like it either. But I told Kalifa about it and she thought it would be a fun nickname to try on you, so I told her I’d try it.” Kaku looks back at Lucci with a shameless grin that very plainly said, ‘It was my idea. All mine. I told Kalifa about it and she chuckled so I did it because I love annoying you.’

 

There’s a moment of silence as Lucci shoots Kaku a withering glare that the dark-haired man hopes will make that smug grin drop from Kaku’s lips. Of course, it only makes Kaku’s smile grow wider and even more proud of himself. Lucci’s mouth twitches downwards for a moment before he works on stretching out his arms in the same way Kaku had only a few minutes prior. “Of course you did,” Lucci’s voice is all but a rumbling growl as he rolls his eyes at Kaku. He folds over at the hips, fingertips brushing the ground as he stretches out his back. 

 

“Yep!” Kaku chirps back, expression sunny and bright as ever as he suddenly but gracefully leans back, planting his hands firmly on the ground a couple feet from his feet in a backbend. A deep, slow sigh is pulled from Kaku’s lungs as he pushes his chest up, giving his entire body a nice stretch. “Oh, now that feels nice,” He remarks as he lets his eyes close and simply enjoys the pleasant burn of the stretch. After a moment of peaceful silence, Kaku easily pushes his legs over his head, bringing them in an arch over his head before his feet come to rest between his hands. The shorter of the two men swiftly returns to standing. He turns to Lucci with a crooked, roguish grin before he asks, “Hey, schnookums, help me stretch my legs?” 

 

Lucci looks at him, his expression both exasperated and deadpan all at once. “Do you really need my help when stretching your legs? I’m sure you can do it just fine on your own.” Lucci’s rough, calloused hands work the muscles of his upper arms as he rolls his shoulders to loosen them up. After he deems both arms stretched well enough, he moves on to popping his neck and jaw.

 

A roll of large, brown eyes and a scoff. “Well, ‘course I can. I ain’t completely useless,” Kaku retorts even as he moves to stand in front of Lucci. “Besides, you an’ I both know that I’ll be an even better sparring partner if I’m well stretched.” It’s a fact that they both know is true, and Lucci always needs his sparring partners at the top of their game. Kaku waits for Lucci to just agree already. But the dark-haired man doesn’t give in just yet, instead evenly meeting Kaku’s smugness-hidden-under-false-innocence gaze with a stubborn and cold glare.

 

There’s a tension-filled silence as Kaku’s grin widens and his smile grows sharper.

 

“Tsk.” Lucci’s tongue disapprovingly clicks against his teeth as he looks away, knowing that he’s fighting a losing argument. Is this the hill he wants to die on, that Kaku shouldn’t stretch and fight his best against Lucci? No. No, it isn’t. He crosses his arms as he says, “Fine. But make it quick,” Lucci says with an annoyed tone as he meets Kaku’s eyes again, this time the gold irises have a barely restrained fire that excites Kaku, because he knows this sparring match is going to be fun if Lucci is all riled up.

 

"Now that's what I like to hear!" Kaku’s smile grows a bit as he steps closer to Lucci until they’re hardly more than an arm’s length apart. “Hold still, please and thank you.” He winks at Lucci, a cheeky smile pulling ever wider at the corners of his mouth, as he brings one of his legs up and rests his ankle on Lucci’s shoulder. The difference in their heights make this a bit difficult, but Kaku has long enough legs to make it work. He leans forward and pushes his weight into his leg and links his hands together before using them to push down on his lower leg, making the muscles go taut. “There we go! That feels swell! Thanks for the help, shnookums!” Kaku comments with a shameless grin as he looks up at Lucci from under the curtain of his messy curls. 

 

Lucci rolls his eyes again as he uncrosses his arms and brings his hands around to places his hands on top of Kaku’s thigh, his arms wrapped around the strongly muscled limb. “Quite calling me that,” He orders in a sharp tone. He pulls Kaku’s leg towards him, giving Kaku stretch an extra pressure that the blonde found quite pleasant. 

 

“But why not? I think it’s a dandy nickname for you!” Kaku replies with a grin as both men release their hold on Kaku’s leg so he can raise his other leg to Lucci’s other shoulder and repeat the process. The movement is easy and practiced from years of helping each other stretch before sparring matches. 

 

Lucci’s hands tighten on Kaku’s thigh as his brows furrow and he says, “You, yourself, just said that it was an unflattering nickname.” His voice is distinctly deadpan, though there’s no denying the hint of annoyance that hides in the shadow of the words. And look at that, Kaku’s day has already been made! Was he tired earlier? Because now he feels absolutely fantastic! Oh, how good it feels to annoy Lucci! What a wonderful way to start the day!

 

A bright, sunny smile appears on Kaku’s face as he nods. “It really is. It sounds funky. And not ‘funky’ in a good way,” Kaku replies chipperly as he pushes harder on his leg, leaning closer to Lucci because of the motion. Their faces are only about a forearm's length apart, though neither of them really minds, given how often they're in close contact. "But I think it suits you just fine, shnookums." And now Kaku's grin is sharp and mischievous as he looks up at Lucci.

 

Lucci's lips twitch downwards just a little bit farther, for just a split second, before Lucci responds with a short, "Don't call me that." And then they're both releasing their grips on Kaku's leg so the shorter man can bring it back down to shake his leg out before resting his flat on the ground once more.

 

"Aw, but it's so funny!" Kaku replies with a grin as he pushes his hair out of his face. "It just sounds so ridiculous!" He says with a laugh following not long after. He doesn't even bother to hide it behind his hand, which makes Lucci's expression finally dip into 'truly annoyed' instead of 'neutral with a hint of disdain.'

 

"I don't find it quite as funny as you do," Lucci replies in his deep voice as he strips off his shirt so both of the men are in the same state of dress as they move towards the center of the training field. “And I would appreciate it if you quit calling me that,” He all but growls as he lowers himself into a fighting stance, knees slightly bent and hands in fists in front of his face. “In fact, if you don’t stop, I will feel the need to convince you.”

 

Kaku assumes a similar fighting stance as he smirks at the other man. “Well then let’s make a deal, yeah? If I win, I get to call you schnookums for the rest of the day. If you win, then I won’t,” He proposes as both men’s muscles go tight, preparing for the coming fight. “How’s that sound, shnookums?” 

 

It’s that final use of the name that brings a true, honest-to-god scowl to Lucci’s face, and Kaku knows that no matter how this ends up, he’s won his own personal game. Lucci’s lips barely part, not budging from their downturned position, as he says, “I accept your challenge.”

 

“Neat-o! This will be fun!” Kaku replies, eyes shining with excitement as his smirk grows wider. “Then let’s cut a rug!” And then the fight begins, the two men moving against each other without mercy because they know that they can handle it. In fact, it’s the only way they’d have it.

 

(Lucci wins, but Kaku isn’t too sad about it. He can find other nicknames anyway.)

 



Kaku walks into the headquarter’s kitchen for lunch, chipper and lively and bright as sunlight reflected off of water. There’s a cheerful tune that he’s humming as he walks through the doorway and over to the table, where most of the rest of his team sits, eating their various choices of lunch. He stops humming so he can wave to his fellow CP-9 agents as he says, “Mornin’, all! How’re we feeling today?” He asks with a sunshine smile as he reaches for an apricot from a fruit basket at the center of the table. For the most part, he receives distracted responses that range from, “Decent,” to “Gonna kill that fucking cat later today.”

 

“Fine, and yourself?” Kalifa responds with a glance up from her fruit salad as she spears a slice of some type of melon onto her fork. She also has a newspaper on the table between her and Fukurou that both agents are glancing over and chatting about. Kalifa, so she knew what was happening in the news, and Fukurou, for all the new gossip and rumors. 

 

The blonde man examines the fruit in his hand as he cheerfully replies,“I’m just peachy, thank you for askin’!” Determining the fruit clean, he brings it to his mouth and takes a bite of the soft flesh. There’s a moment of comfortable silence as Kaku chews the fruit, savoring the taste before swallowing. Then, smile back in its place, he asks, “Speakin’ of peaches an’ fruits an’ such, where’s the apple of my eye? I notice he’s not here right now. He out trainin’?” Then Kaku is taking another bite, looking at the faces of his fellow CP-9 members for an answer as he chews the fruit.

 

Jyabura immediately falls into peels of laughter, dropping his eating utensils onto the table as his hands come to hold his stomach. “Wh-What?” He asks, his voice choked between loud howls of laughter. “What d-did you ju-just call Lucci? Did y-you call him-” But his words are cut off by more laughter as he nearly doubles over, his forehead just a few centimeters away from hitting the table.

 

“The apple of my eye, yes,” Kaku replies easily, his smile neither growing nor faltering as he takes another bite of his apricot. He continues looking to the other members of Cipher Pol. 

 

A soft laugh passes through Kalifa’s lips as she turns the pages of the newspaper, eyes not straying from the black ink words. “He’s not going to like that one at all,” She marks before adding, “I think it’s a good one. Please be sure to use it on him while we’re around.” Her lips are pulled in a sly grin before she points at an article to draw Fukurou’s attention. Kaku offers her a bright smile in response, along with a chipper, “You bet, darlin’.”

 

However, despite her gesture to a specific article, Fukurou is looking up at Kaku and giving him a grin and a laugh. “Chapapapa! You’re still trying to convince him to let you nickname him? Is that even working?” Fukurou looks back to the newspaper, but occasionally glances up as he waits for Kaku’s response.

 

“Oh, not even close,” Kaku responds just as jovially as he was when he walked into the kitchen, “But I’m not giving up yet! After all, I’m still having a good time with this.” He beams proudly as he wipes some apricot juice off of his chin with a napkin. 

 

Blueno, who’s at the counter, pouring himself a cup of coffee, lets out a low sigh as he shakes his head. “It sounds like a very bad idea, Kaku. I assume Lucci isn’t as open to this as we are?” He asks, the question rhetorical, as he sits back down at the table, taking the seat next to Jyabura, whose laughter is finally beginning to die down a bit. Blueno looks at Jyabura and rolls his eyes before looking back to Kaku. “Surely he’s becoming annoyed with you by now?”

 

A bright grin and a nod meet Blueno’s question. “Oh, trust me, handsome, he’s very annoyed with me. He’s such a wet rag, but I can’t lie; I’m havin’ a real good time messing with him.” Kaku takes a final bite of his fruit before seeing that there’s only pulpy strands left connected to the large seed. Damn, that was a good apricot! They must be in season. He should run to the market to later today get some more. 

 

Suddenly, Kaku feels his hat being lifted off of his head and his blonde curls spills into his face, partially obscuring his view. “Having a good time messing with who, Kaku?” Comes a deep, rough voice from behind Kaku. 

 

Oh, how fortunate! Lucci is already here and Kaku is able to try out this new nickname on Lucci! How perfect can this afternoon get? Very, apparently! Kaku’s grin only grows brighter as he says, “Why, look at that! It’s the apple of my eye! How’re you on this fine morning?” The younger agent asks as he tilts his head back and looks up at the dark-haired man, who is glowering down at the younger agent. He offers Lucci a brazenly proud grin as he reaches up to tap against the brim of his own hat in Lucci’s hand. “Mind if I have this back? My hair’s a real mess this morning,” He comments with a lighthearted and casual tone. He offers a wave to Hattori while he’s already leaning back. Hattori tilts his head and coos.

 

Lucci doesn’t move to give the baseball cap back to its owner. “‘Apple of your eye?’” He says slowly, as if he’s testing the way his own mouth would form the same syllables. “Tsk. What a stupid nickname,” Lucci states, the words spoken with the tone of a demand, even though it’s simply a statement of an opinion.

 

“I think it’s cute,” Kaku replies nonchalantly, head still tilted back as he looks up at Lucci and takes ahold of his hat between his thumb and forefinger. He gives his hat a gentle tug, though Lucci’s grip on it is too strong for Kaku to take his hat back. Brown eyes blink a few times before Kaku adds, “‘sides, you like apples, so what’s the problem?” Kaku has to stifle his grin as Jyabura falls back into loud barks of laughter, Kalifa and Fukurou following not long after, though at least they try to hide it. Blueno rolls his eyes again just and drinks his coffee. 

 

And, lo and behold, Lucci opens his mouth to respond, but can’t find anything to say. Hs glare deepens as his jaw snaps shut and he drops Kaku’s hat, most likely aiming for the hat to hit Kaku in the face. Of course, this doesn’t work, since Kaku has excellent reflexes and catches it before fitting it back on his head. “Thank ya, thank ya,” The shorter man chirps with a bright expression as he tucks his curls under the black cap. “You really are the apple of my eye,” He adds with a sly smile.

 

Lucci’s frown grows at the edges. “Shut up,” He says, cold venom in his voice, as he leans forward and grabs a ruby red apple from the fruit basket. The bright color is striking against Lucci’s tan skin, Kaku notices. “I’m going to read in my room. Don’t bother me.” As he turns on his heel and strides out of the room, everyone in the room hears the loud crunch of teeth sinking into the crisp skin of the apple. They wait for the footsteps to fade away before the room breaks into a chorus of laughter. Even Blueno can’t help the small twitch of his lips and a subtle exhale of laughter. 

 

Jyabura, on the other hand, is in tears of laughter. “Looks like you won that round, Kaku! Really showed that pussycat who’s boss!” He howls loudly he doubles over with laughter once again. 

 

“You just have to know how to stroke them, sugar,” Kaku remarks between his own low chuckles. “It’s just something that you need to learn.” He winks at Jyabura as his lips pull into a crooked, mischievous grin. He crosses his arms and leans back in his chair as he watches Blueno shake his head, even as the taller agent chuckles a bit.

 

Jyabura’ laughter continues for a few seconds more before it abruptly cuts off and his face drops into a scowl as he yells, “Hey! Just what are you trying to say?!”

 

 Kaku holds up his hands in false surrender as he laughs again. “Nothin’, nothin’.” And laughter fills the kitchen again, even as Jyabura glowers at Kaku, and Kaku knows that his victory will keep him in a good mood for the rest of the day.

 




“Hey, daddy-o.”

 

Lucci blinks, once, twice, before turning to look at Kaku through narrowed eyes. “Pardon?” He says shortly, more of a ‘what the fuck do you mean?’ than a ‘please repeat that.’ He sets down his book as he turns to look at Kaku, who has just entered the room through the window. Though Kaku entering through an open window isn’t abnormal, that nickname really is. Lucci crosses his legs as he waits for whatever Kaku’s response is going to be. This will be interesting, to say the very least.

 

The blonde man shrugs nonchalantly as he steps into the room and adjusts his cap. “Yep. Just thought I’d try it out. How do you feel about that one?” He asks, not looking up yet as he wipes some of the dust and dirt off of his shoulders. His expression is nonchalant and casual as he steps further into the room, taking a seat next to Lucci on the couch. Kaku watches Lucci as he gets comfortable and crosses his legs. Hattori coos at him and Kaku smiles at the bird in return.

 

Lucci opens his book once more, eyes returning to the place they’d left off as he replies cooly, “It’s almost as bad as ‘shnookums.’ Not quite, but almost.” His eyes find the last word on the page and his fingers carefully turn the thin paper. He feels Hattori’s weight on his shoulder shift and he glances up to find Kaku gently petting the pigeon’s head with his index finger. Hattori is cooing happily as he leans into Kaku’s touch. Traitorous pigeon. Lucci glares at Hattori, who doesn’t seem to even feel it.

 

“Yeah,” Kaku agrees with a soft nod as he continues to pet the bird, “I don’t like it much either. Just thought I’d give it a shot.” He doesn't seem to feel the heat of Lucci's glare, though he's clearly aware of it, judging by the way Kaku’s smile grows on his face.

 

Gold eyes roll before looking back to the book. "Well don't try it again," He replies shortly as he begins reading again. He feels Hattori's weight disappear from his shoulder and he knows that the pigeon is now perching on Kaku’s free hand as he continues to gently pet Hattori’s head. “It’s an unflattering nickname,” He adds after a moment as he turns another page.

 

“That’s true. I don’t think I’ll use that one on anyone, anyway,” Kaku nods in agreement as he smiles at Hattori and chuckles at the birds pleased cooing. Lucci nods approvingly. The room falls into an unusually comfortable silence as Lucci reads his book and Kaku continues chirping at and petting the bird that’s perched on his index finger. It’s a nice, calm late afternoon, until Kumadori bursts in a few minutes later with a loud yell and disturbs the calmness of the room completely.

 




Kaku knocks on the door to Lucci’s room, his face blank and his mind clear besides one goal. Right now, everything he does is business, because there’s going to have a mission soon. Kaku knows this because Spandam has called for Lucci, Kalifa, and Jyabura. Though he doesn’t know why, Kaku was the one he sent to collect all of the required agents. Kaku doesn’t know why Spandam is having him collect them, but he’s not going to go against orders. He’s already sent Kalifa and Jyabura up to the briefing room, and the last one he has to get is Lucci.

 

The door to Lucci’s room opens almost as soon as Kaku’s knuckles rasp against the heavy surface for the first time. He’s already dressed in his field gear and his arms are raised, hands behind his head as he ties his hair up. His eyes are cold as they regard Kaku and he speaks with his deep voice, “What is it that you need, Kaku?” It sounds more like a statement, though it’s a question. Kaku notes that Lucci almost never sounds like he’s asking a question. He just has that kind of voice, Kaku supposes.

 

“Spandam needs you in the briefing room. There’s a mission for you, Kalifa, and Jyabura,” Kaku informs, his voice and expression devoic of his usual cheerfulness. His arms are straight down by his side, his hat low over his eyes as he stands with his back straight, only his head tilted down just a bit ruining his perfect posture. 

 

A certain look takes over Lucci’s eyes and his hands deftly finish tying his hair before moving to adjust his tie. “So it’s already time,” He says more to himself than Kaku as he straightens his jacket. Gold eyes move back to Kaku before Lucci offers the other agent a short nod. “Thank you. I’ll be up there shortly.” His words are dismissive, politely so, but he clearly expects Kaku to leave once he’s said those words. 

 

Instead, Kaku nods in return, a short, subtle nod of his head. “No problem.” There’s a short pause before he asks, “Is there anything I’m allowed to know about the mission, or ’s it all classified?” He knows that he shouldn’t be asking this question - it’s an unspoken rule for all Cipher Pol agents that you never ask for the details of a mission you’re not on - but he can’t help but want to know! Blame his natural curiosity, but he can’t help but wonder why he isn’t being brought along on this mission.

 

Lucci glances up at Kaku as his hands go still on his own lapels. “Why do you want to know?” He asks, slightly confused by the question. Why was Kaku breaking one of the unspoken rules? They were in place for a reason, after all.

 

Kaku shrugs, eyes still blank and emotionless as he shortly explains, “Just wanna know how long you three’ll be gone.” His voice is monotone, a sound almost as cool and calm as Lucci’s on any given day. His eyes meet the taller man’s, but they don’t seem to actually see Lucci’s irises, just look at them blankly. 

 

“...Two months.” Lucci finally says, the words quiet and collected, as emotionless as Kaku’s own voice. He’s not sure why he fills the other agent in on details he doesn’t need to know, but he does. Lucci supposes that it’s because that knowing how long they’re going to be gone is simply helpful information to have, rather than details about the mission itself. “Is there a reason you need to know?” He asks, deadpan as ever.

 

Kaku shrugs, his expression never changing as he finally turns to walk away. “I was just thinkin’ about how long I’d have to make new nicknames for you, dumpling.” And then the cool, icy expression is melting from Kaku’s face, leaving a warm but impish grin on his lips and a twinkle in his large eyes. 

 

Lucci rolls his eyes as he walks away in the way in the opposite direction. “Of course that would be what you’re concerned about,” He mutters under his breath, though the words carry excellently over to Kaku, who chuckles at them. Lucci scoffs at Kaku’s laughter before he adds, “Try not to think too hard. You’ll over work your brain with more than a little effort.” 

 

Laughter grows louder, bouncing off the walls of the hallway as Kaku strides away, calling over his shoulder as he leaves. “Oh, don’t worry, dumpling. I already have some ideas, so don’t worry your pretty head too much.”

 

And no annoyed groan leaves Lucci’s lips. It doesn’t!

 




The mission does last approximately two months, and when the three agents return, it’s in a sorry state. Their arrival brings with them a team of Cipher Pol’s surgeons, doctors, and nurses. Kaku hardly knows what’s going on, just knows to flatten himself against the wall as much as he can while three stretchers are rushed down the hallway to the infirmary. The second he sees them, he knows who’s in them and, judging by the order they’re in, who’s the most injured. If Kaku’s prediction is correct, Lucci is the most injured, followed by Kalifa, then Jyabura. This estimate is only fueled by the fact that Lucci is completely silent, Kalifa’s breathing is rough and ragged, and Jyabura is the only one in the state to raspily yell that he ‘doesn’t need any damn help.’ 

 

Kaku exchanges a glance with Fukuro at his side before both look back to the infirmary doors, which are quickly closed and locked behind them. Fukuro unzips his mouth just enough that he can whisper, “Mission was completed, but not without cost, from what I hear.” Kaku gives a sharp, short nod before both men go their separate ways, away from the medical wing of the Cipher Pol headquarters.

 

Is Kaku worried for his fellow assassins? Not particularly. Jyabura seems fine, maybe just minorly injured. Kalifa is probably just suffering from bruising to her upper chest, most likely along the ribcage. Possibly a weak type of poison that all CP-9 agents are already immune to. Lucci, on the other hand… No one can injure Lucci like that, so if Kaku were to guess, Lucci was either sick and any fight he may have taken on was wearing him out more than usual, or he had pushed himself too far and had broken his own limits. The second one seemed far fetched, but it had happened before, Kaku had seen it. It had been a while, but it definitely happened. 

 

Instead of worrying, the blonde man walks into one of the many living areas and picks up one of Lucci’s books and begins to read. He’s no monster; he’s careful with the book, but he knows that Lucci will be able to tell that Kaku read it, and that’ll be the perfect thing for Lucci to find once he gets out of his hospital bed. Time passes by fast when Kaku reads, and the book truly is interesting. Before long, night has fallen and Kaku is laying on the couch, upper body propped up against the armrest. God this is a good book. Kaku’s glad he picked it up while Lucci can’t stop him.

 

Suddenly, Kaku feels tiny talons clutching at his shoulders, and he knows that Hattori is now using him as a perch. He glances up at the bird with a smile as he lifts a hand to carefully stroke the pale feathers. “Hey there, Hattori. Looking for Lucci? ‘Cause he’s in the-” Hattori makes a very loud cooing and begins to flap his wings, his talons still hooked into the fabric of Kaku’s jacket. “Whoa, whoa! Calm down, Hattori! What’s up?” The bird finally lifts off of Kaku’s shoulder and begins to fly towards the medical wing. Kaku laughs and shakes his head as he comments, “Oh, looks like it’s Lucci who’s looking for me.”

 

So Kaku follows Hattori down the hall, past the operating room, and into the private rooms where patients recover and wait for their chance to escape from the watchful eyes of the doctors. He waves at the people at a passing surgeon, who smiles at him in return. Hattori trills angrily and Kaku laughs as he follows the birds down a pristine hallway to a room with a closed door. Hattori land on the door and trills once more as he nods his head towards a doctor standing next to the door, looking both angry and nervous. Kaku stops in front of the coat-wearing man and gives him a warm, crooked smile. The doctor smiles back, and Kaku knows it’s because his own smile is relaxing when he wants it to be. “Hey, doc. Is the patient givin’ you trouble?” He asks as Hattori flies back onto Kaku’s shoulder.

 

The question is rhetorical, but the doctor slumps forward and Kaku has to refrain from laughing sympathetically. “I’m afraid he is,” The doctor agrees with a weary sigh. “ Mister Rob Lucci is severely against receiving the medicine he needs to cure his illness.” The doctor holds up a syringe filled with a clear-pale yellow liquid, gesturing to it for emphasis. “He came down with a regional illness on his mission and, though it is draining his energy, he’s still too strong for me to hold him down and inject him with the medicine. He just doesn’t want the medicine because it’ll make him even more tired upon injection.”

 

Ah, so it is an illness then. Kaku nods understandingly as he eyes the syringe. “Tell you what, doc. If you’re fine with it, I can get the medicine in him. I’d just need you to stay outta the room so I can wrangle him.” Kaku flashes the doctor a bright smile, false innocence in his eyes and body language. He holds out his hand for the syringe, a gesture that is meant to convince the doctor to hand him the medical tool. “We’ve had to do this on missions before, and I’m usually the one to do it. He always gets fussy when it comes to shots, so it takes a bit of a fight. I mean… you can do it, if you want, but I’d be fine takin’ care of this.” And again, just a few subtle hints to convince the doctor to trust Kaku. 

 

The doctor shoots a glance to the closed door and it only takes a second before the syringe is in Kaku’s palm. “Yes, please. Just dispose of the syringe when you’re done. After he gets the medicine in his system, he’s good to leave.” And then the doctor is walking away, his posture noticeably more relaxed.

 

Kaku chuckles as he turns back to the door, looking at Hattori. “Poor guy,” He says with warm voice. “Alright, you go up to Lucci’s room. I’ll take care of him from here.” The bird chirps happily before flying away, presumably to Lucci’s room. Kaku watches him for a few seconds before he shakes his head, still smiling as he pushes the door open. He’s greeted with the sight of a pale Lucci, dark hair matted at the temples with sweat and body shaking slightly despite being under the hospital provided bedsheets, which makes Kaku laugh lightly as he closes the door behind him.

 

Hazy, golden eyes flicker open, barely half-lidded, before they move over to Kaku. A pale tongue flicks over dry, cracking lips before Lucci speaks in a cracked, weak voice. “Kaku, are you here to finally tell that damn doctor that I don’t need the medicine?” The look in those eyes could certainly be pictured in a different context.

 

Kaku nods, smiling as he carefully hides the syringe up his sleeve. He slowly walks further into the hospital room. “Hello to you, too, bedroom eyes.” Kaku chuckles at his own joke. “Get it? Because you’re tired and in a hospital bed?” He takes a seat next to Lucci’s hip, the hand that’s palming the syringe coming to rest on a trembling shoulder. “And don’t worry, I already got the doctor off your back.” He smiles even as he adjust the heel of his hand to rest on top of the plunger.

 

“And how did you do that?” Lucci asks, his words sounding like they’re coming from far away. Oh golly, he sure is out of it! His eyes are focused on Kaku’s face, which gives Kaku the opportunity the chance to fit his fingers on either side of the cylinder. 

 

The only response Lucci gets is a wide, sly grin before there’s a needle pressed into his shoulder. Kaku pushes the plunger down at a steady rate, forcing the medicine into Lucci’s body. 

 

Lucci doesn’t even look betrayed as he lets out a huff. He tries to glare at Kaku and raise a hand against him, but his eyes are already growing hazier as he says, “Of course,” He mutters, voice all but a weak growl. “I should’ve told Hattori to get Kumadori. He would’ve been more helpful in this situation.” And then Lucci passes out completely, body going limp and hand dropping into Kaku’s lap.

 

The blonde man laughs as he pulls the syringe out of Lucci’s now relaxed muscle before discarding it in the biomedical wastebasket. He washes his hands in the nearby sink before grabbing a bandaid - plain, since he can’t find any with a fun pattern - and carefully covering the small insertion wound. “An’ there we go! All done. Practically painless, too. On my end, at least,” Kaku remarks to himself with a pleasant smile. He walks back over to the bed and bends down before scooping Lucci up in his arms. It’s a bit difficult to do, given Lucci’s impressive height, but Kaku manages. Lucci weighs hardly anything to the other assassin as Kaku walks over to the window and pushes it open. He steps up onto the windowsill, Lucci still held in his arms, before using his strength and skills to push himself high into the cool, night air.

 

It’s only a few more fast movements of Kaku’s strong legs before he’s standing on the windowsill of the window to Lucci’s room. He pushes the window open - he’d unlocked the window while Lucci was gone so he could steal Lucci’s books at his leisure - before stepping inside. 

 

Lucci’s room is very minimalistic, compared to the other agent’s. All black, white and grey with hints of silver and red. Hell, even his clothes follow the same color scheme! It’s very sophisticated looking, sure, but not really homey, if you ask Kaku. And Kaku’s probably the only person you could ask the opinion of, since he’s the only one that’s seen Lucci’s room besides Lucci, himself. Lucci could use some more decor in his room. Just something to make the place feel a bit more like a home. Maybe some knick-knacks, some pictures of people he holds dear… Then again, Cipher Pol agents only really know Cipher Pol agents… Still! Some pictures of his team might be nice!

 

Kaku carries Lucci over to the bed before unceremoniously dumping the unconscious body onto the dark grey comforter of Lucci’s bed. Lucci’s leg falls off the side of the bed, and Kaku considers himself a kind soul for setting it back up on the top of the bed. The younger assassin takes a step back to look at Lucci and nods, deeming him in a decent enough state to take care of himself when he wakes up. “Alrighty then, bedroom eyes, sleep well.”

 

Kaku is just about to turn around and take his leave when he sees Lucci’s eyes flutter open, just barely, as his cracked voice comes out from his mouth like radio static. “Bedroom eyes?” Comes the weak question. “Where did that one come from?”

 

It nearly makes Kaku laugh that Lucci has to ask such a question. “‘Cause you got bedroom eyes.” When all he receives from Lucci is a blank, tired stare, Kaku continues his explanation. “Your eyes have this ‘kinda tired, but actually not’ look to them. Like you got plans to go to bed, but not for sleepin’. You know, that whole ‘come hither’ look. You always have that kinda look, the one like you’re tryin’ to seduce someone,” Kaku explains, straightfaced and with no embarrassment or shame whatsoever. He stands, arms crossed, waiting to see what happens first; Lucci responding or Lucci falling into a dreamless slumber.

 

Lucci blinks a few times, a slow, lethargic response, before he says, “It’s not on purpose.” And then those hazy gold eyes rake over Kaku’s face then down to Kaku’s body. It’s a gesture that can be attributed to Lucci’s hazy, illness-ridden mind, but it still makes Kaku have to repress a shiver. “Not most of the time.” Then Lucci’s eyes are closing as he rolls over onto his side to fall asleep.

 

Kaku finds himself lost for words, and he can think of nothing to do but turn around and begin making his way to his own room.

 

… Damn those bedroom eyes.

 




Another morning in Lucci’s favorite armchair. There’s a book in his lap and a cup of tea on the table next to him and Hattori is sitting on the windowsill and the sun is shining through the window and the weather is just perfect. Lucci sinks down further in his chair, the beginnings of a smile on his lips. Everything is just right, so long as-

 

“How’s it going, dreamboat?”

 

“No.”

 

“Damn. Lemme go think of another one.”

 

“Don’t.”

 

“It’ll be just a few minutes-”

 

“Desist.”

 

“And I’ll have a better one.”

 

And, just like that, Lucci’s plans for a calm day were ruined.

 




A low sigh sounds right next to Lucci’s ear and the dark-haired man easily represses the shiver that the warm breath sends down Lucci’s spine. Lean-muscled arms drape over broad shoulders and a chin rests in the crook of Lucci’s neck. He can already guess which of his fellow agents is doing this - as there’s only one who’s brave enough to do something like this - but it’s the words that follow the actions that confirm Lucci’s hypothesis.

 

“Hey there, casanova,” comes the low, sweet-as-lemonade purr, lips brushing against Lucci's earlobe with each syllable. The hands connected to the strong arms rub at the tall agent's pectorals through the fabric of his shirt and jacket, fingers pressing against the cloth so hard that it's like they're trying to tear into the skin underneath. Lips draw the soft lobe between them and clever teeth give a small nibble to the skin before releasing it so the mouth can speak again. "Why don't you and I go get more familiar, yeah? Let our hands do the talking? Have some 'amorous congress?'"

 

Lucci's eyes don't leave his file of his next target as he bluntly asks, "Kaku, what do you need from me today?" He doesn't want to be distracted today, since he's leaving for the mission to kill said target that night. He wants to read up on this file, take a nap, go out on this mission, take out the target, and come back before taking on another mission. 

 

Kaku doesn't move away from Lucci, instead smirking slyly, his lips pressed against the skin just under Lucci's ear. "Not much, casanova. Just to roll around in the sheets with you for a little while. Doesn't that sound like a good time?"

 

It might have, in other circumstances, but right now, Lucci is busy with his target's information. He doesn't so much as look up at Kaku as he flips through the pages and plainly asks, "So they're finally making you go through seduction training?" Even the thought of it makes the older agent roll his eyes. "Why did you pick me as your target to seduce? You should have known you'd have little luck with that."

 

 Kaku gently nips at the line of Lucci's jaw before he responds, his voice still low and sultry. “Well, it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t a challenge. ‘sides, I think this might be fun.” Kaku’s words end with a breathy chuckle that’s more tempting than it should be. “Now, c’mon, let’s go get to knockin’ boots. We’ll have a whole lotta fun together.” The blonde laughs again, an airy, lustful yet playful sound as his fingers tug at the bottom of Lucci’s suit jacket.

 

Lucci huffs as he pulls an unmarked piece of paper from a notebook he’s been using to take notes in. He quickly scrawls some words down on a paper and holds it up in front of Kaku’s face for the blonde to read. “Here. Give this to Spandam,” He says shortly before looking back to his work. He feels the blonde’s arms move from off of his shoulders so Kaku can take hold of the note and read it for himself.

 

Brown eyes quickly scan the words before Kaku’s entire posture changes from seductive to disbelieving and slightly annoyed. “What do you mean I’m ‘already experienced enough and require no further training?’ I’ve haven’t even gotten any training!” He exclaims, frowning at the older agent.

 

Lucci doesn’t even look up as he responds with, “Your social skills are the best of CP-9 and you’re able to earn the respect and admiration with ease. Your instincts will provide you with the ability to further these relationships and use them to the best of your ability. Given all of this information, I deem it rational that we don’t need to give you seduction training, as it would simply be a waste of time.” The explanation seems so simple to Lucci, so obvious, that Kaku’s surprised silence nearly catches him off guard. But he doesn’t comment on it, just letting there be a silence between them as he continues to do his research.

 

Then there’s a light huff of laughter from the shorter assassin. Lucci finally looks up to see that Kaku is smiling and shaking his head slowly. “Good golly! And here I thought the nickname was just a joke,” Kaku remarks with humour in his voice, “But you really are a smooth talker. I’ll go give this to Spandam. Good luck on your mission tonight! See ya in the mornin’, casanova!”

 

Lucci watches him go and shakes his head. Kaku is talking nonsense, per usual. Lucci is just telling the truth.




And, sure enough, when Lucci gets back the next day, Kaku is there at the breakfast table, green tea in hand and grin on his face as he says, “Welcome back, dumpling.” Then he takes a sip of his drink as he watches for Lucci’s response, eyes twinkling with excitement and delight.

 

Lucci glares at him and turns on his heels as he shoots back a sharp, “No.”

 




Later that day, in the training field, Kaku stands waiting for a fight with the other agent. He waves to the dark-haired man as he calls out, “Lovebird-”

 

Lucci walks away as he rolls his eyes. “No.”

 




“Light of my life-:

 

“No.”

 



“Angel-”

 

“No.”

 




“Treasure-”

 

“No.”

 




“Sweethea-”

 

“No.”

 




Kaku and Lucci sit together at the desk in Kaku’s room, sorting out information on a mission they were leaving on soon. The work is done mostly in silence, occasional words traded in hushed tones so as not to disturb the peacefulness of the room. The work is solemn, but they’re moods are content, relaxed. This is the work they’ve been raised to do after all. It’s normal, routine, even.

 

The night is late, stars are in the sky, and the only thing providing light in the room is a lamp in the corner of the desk. The papers and pens and notebooks and files scattered on the desk between them are stacked high, at least an inch off the desk. Their normal work clothes have been traded out for simple training clothes, dark shirts and pants that are a few months too worn out. Thankfully, their work is interesting enough to keep them awake.

 

Kaku is looking for a specific paper with one of their target’s weekly schedule on it, but he can’t remember where he placed it. Even after several minutes of searching between files and under notebooks, Kaku can’t locate the paper he’s looking for. He lets out a frustrated sigh before looking up at his fellow assassin. He’s hardly able to see Lucci past the curtain of dark curls, but he doesn’t mind. After all, his own hair must be a rats’ nest by now. “Hey, Lucci, have you seen the weekly schedules?” He asks before his mouth opens wide in a yawn. 

 

He waits for a response as he continues looking for the papers, but he hears none. He looks back up at the dark-haired man to find Lucci looking right back at him. Kaku blinks a few times before asking, “What? Something wrong?” He can’t look away from Lucci’s piercing gaze, not that he wants to. He’s just curious as to why Lucci is staring. At least, that's what Kaku tells himself.

 

Lucci slowly sets the folder in his hands down as he slowly, quietly, almost dangerously asks, “What did you just call me?” His gold eyes flash with something fiery, something that Kaku hasn’t seen in a while.

 

Kaku’s eyebrows furrow in confusion as he thinks about what he said. “I just called you ‘Lucci.’ Is something wrong with-? Oh!” Kaku catches on to what Lucci means, a crooked smile pulling across his lips as he goes back to looking through the papers. “Yeah, I haven’t thought of any nicknames lately, so I need some time to think of-”

 

Before Kaku can finish his sentence, Lucci’s hand is roughly grabbing Kaku’s chin and dragging him forward. Their mouths meet in a harsh kiss, their lips sliding together messily as Kaku’s eyes go wide. It’s a messy kiss, too much force on one end and not enough on the other, but it’s all Lucci’s type of kiss. Before the shorter assassin can process what’s happening, Lucci is sliding his tongue against Kaku’s lower lip before pulling back and roughly demanding, “Say it again,” with a wild smirk on his lips.

 

Kaku blinks as his breathing picks up in speed ever so slightly. “Lucci?” He speaks the name softly, tentatively, as if it might not be what Lucci meant. Of course, the second Kaku speaks the two-syllable name, Lucci brings their mouths together in a movement that’s smoother and much better than the one prior. It’s made even better by the fact that Kaku kisses back, returning the same amount of pressure right back against Lucci’s lips. The blonde man’s hands find their way to Lucci’s shoulders as their lips slide together, a rough, uncoordinatedly beautiful meeting of two assassins. Their tongues soon join the dance, the contact less of a fight and more of a playful sparring match.

 

When they pull back, Kaku and Lucci’s eyes meet and a low, breathless laugh falls from the shorter agent’s lips. “So you like it when I say your name, huh?” He asks, a rhetorical question for his own amusement. “Alright, Lucci, I can do that. You shoulda just told me in the first place. I woulda understood.”

 

“Bed. Now.” Is Lucci’s immediate growl of a response. He stands, grabbing Kaku by the arm and pulling him over to Kaku's own bed.


The other assassin laughs as he follows easily, moving to get onto the bed next to the dark-haired man. “Alright, alright- Hey, calm down there, Lucci! I’m already here! Just let me- Oh golly!”