The dojo has become kind of a second house.
Tetora is a freshman, and Kuro is sort of a father, more than Chiaki claims to be, thanks.
He was fast to memorise the school hidden corners, its corridors, the easiest route from his class to the bathroom.
The club room is small and neat, and it is easier to notice and to remember all the tiniest details, so it is automatic and natural for him to feel at home.
And the uwagi –
The uwagi smells clean, because Tetora washes it with utmost care when he comes back home, and he cherishes it like his master tells him to and there is not a reason he should not listen to Kuro’s discourses.
After all, taishou is a wise and mature man and he is the adult he wishes to turn into, so.
The zubon is fresh and thin on his sore calves and the black obi tied around his waist fits like a second skin.
It makes sense.
Ryuseitai aside, the karate club owns his heart and it is rather normal for him to finish his day at the Yumenosaki sit on the tatami and breathless and with swollen knuckles because his constant enthusiasm comes from a much-needed outburst of his amassed frustrations –
Dumbbells do miracles to his worn-out nerves.
Tiredness makes him feel alive.
Pain is an extra, an unfortunate one, but he is accustomed to it after months of trials and tribulations.
Scratched hands and livid sheens are the norm.
His norm, not Shinobu’s, it seems.
Shinobu sits stirred on his knees in front of him and he studies his bruised hands he holds into his with such kindness and attention.
His hands tremble a little, but his movements are smooth and skilled while he covers his bruises and callous with some band-aids he retrieved from his sweater, and Tetora wonders if he carries them around because of his maternal instincts or because he is aware of his own clumsiness.
There is a sudden rush of worth that washes over him, the ridiculous will to check his clothed arms for hidden scars because Shinobu works hard for their unit and for his association as well, and he often sees him from the club room windows, dashing around with Mitsuru-kun and well, Mitsuru is not a bad child, but his manners sometimes are a little exuberant and Shinobu is not weak, but –
He is delicate, and with his hands into his careful embrace Tetora finds himself wantin’ to treasure him.
When Shinobu lifts his head, the reddish sun that filters into the dojo makes him shine.
“Does it hurt?” he asks, and he sounds worried.
His hair is a little ruffled on the side and his locks curl a bit on the end, and Tetora’s traitorous mind chants a monotone cute –
He is tired, that is it.
He shakes his head and he is honest, because there were times he hurt himself far worse than this and some blueish, anti-aesthetic bruises on his hands are candies to him, the throb he feels above his wrists mild, but Shinobu scrunches his nose and he lowers his face to skim his thumbs over his knuckles.
His cheeks are a nice shade of colour.
And all of a sudden Shinobu clutches his hands with renewed force and Tetora’s brain short-circuits.
“Pain” he exclaims, as he lifts their linked hands in front of their much red faces, “Go away!” and Shinobu’s warmth vanishes, much to Tetora’s sadness and confusion.
Hands in the air he blinks, and he looks at Shinobu, arms wide and ears carmine, and then he blinks one more time.
He cackles, hard and loud, and Shinobu makes a resentful noise in the back of his throat, bleating some irked comments he cannot catch and shaking his fists at him but come on, what was that –
Shinobu’s ears are aflame and his mouth is curled into a little, oh so kissable frown while he fumbles with his restless hands.
Cute, his brain reminds him.
“Better?” Shinobu mumbles and Tetora’s heart melts.
It must be the adrenaline, or some unfaithful remains of his amusement that still unfurl into his chest and soften him, but he reaches for Shinobu’s hands and he covers them with his own, smiling when the tendons relax under his touch.
“Yes” he reassures him, and the warmth he feels inside is almost unbearable when Shinobu shots him a relieved and vibrant smile, “Much better.”