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She hoped what her eyes saw through that window had deceived her, but Tory was too much a realist to distrust her senses. After all, her senses had protected her too many times to count. And a lifetime of experience with those senses had taught her that all boys were the same, that none of them should be trusted.

 

Had she been so silly to believe Miguel would be any different?

 

She had been silly. Senseless and unguarded; something she swore never to become. Why else would seeing him kiss Sam shatter her heart, and turn her love into poison?

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Four days after he turned twelve, his dad finally called.

 

Robby was sure he had an excuse lined up, a lame reason for why he’d missed yet another birthday. Another year passed on the planet, another broken promise from his father. Robby had quite a collection going by now.

 

What was it this time? Too busy with work? Nursing a three-day bender? Grandpa Sid had to bail him out of jail again?

 

Whatever his dad's excuse was, Robby never heard it. “Put your headphones on,” his mother said before going off, cursing into the phone. Robby complied, long past caring.

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Demetri had convinced himself he’d done it out of tough love, but that facade didn’t last. No, he had done it to hurt Eli, hoping he felt even a shred of the grief he’d been dishing out to him all summer. Everyone thought Hawk was hardcore, but Demetri ripped off the mask to reveal the truth.

 

Now everyone knew the real Eli.

 

He hoped he might've gotten more satisfaction out of that than he did, but it didn’t take long for the sharpness of spite to erode, leaving Demetri with a sinking feeling in his gut. “What have I done?”

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“So is she always such a bitch, or did I just catch her on a bad day?”

 

Aisha glanced at Tory, then looked once more over her shoulder at Sam, who was wiping cake off her as best she could. A sigh parted her lips, sounding irate. “I don’t know what’s been her deal lately,” she explained. And to think, she really thought Sam was getting her shit back together.

 

“Thanks for having my back,” said Tory. With a sharp grin, she added, “Sounds like she didn’t deserve a friend like you.”

 

Aisha returned the smile, one tinged with sadness.

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Daniel did either his best thinking or his worst thinking when he had a drink in his hand, there was no in-between. Sipping his second glass of wine that night, he wondered what side the coin would fall this time around.

 

He heard the police had picked up Robby. Sam laid asleep on the couch, still shaken. Demetri, Chris, and the others were probably wondering why he’d shut down Miyagi-Do.

 

Amanda still had the bedroom closed off to him.

 

What should he do? What could he do?

 

“Bottoms up,” he mumbled, downing the rest of his glass in one gulp.

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He could hear the other guys continuing to wreak havoc inside the dojo. They would all need to scram soon, in case someone in the area happened to hear the commotion caused by their midnight vandalism.

 

But Hawk had one more counter-move to make.

 

Kneeling next to the yellow Ford, tossing his backpack beside him, he pulled out the red spray paint. He only hesitated for a few seconds. Once he did this, nobody would mess with him, his Senseis, or his dojo again. Time to leave a calling card, so Miyagi-Do knew without a doubt:

 

“COBRA KAI NEVER DIES”

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“Something else, Mr. Diaz?”

 

Miguel looked at his Sensei for a long moment, hearing the tension in his question, seeing the defensiveness so clear on his face. He knew from his tone that there was only one right answer. “No.”

 

He followed Hawk back into the main dojo, hearing him mutter, “Scrubbing duty? This is bullshit.” He sounded angry.

 

But Miguel felt too low to be vexed, brought down by the revelation that Sensei Lawrence hadn’t trusted him enough to tell him that he had a son. A son Miguel had hurt. A son he couldn’t hope to compete with.

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“I don’t want to fight you.” Robby’s hands shook, anticipating that he might swing them regardless. And a lump formed in his throat at the thought of that, remembering what he was capable of doing. He didn’t want to hurt anyone like that again.

 

His opponent narrowed his eyes. “Too bad,” replied Hawk, glaring at him with furious hatred, fists at the ready.

 

Robby didn’t so much as get into a defensive position. “I won’t fight.”

 

“You think I’m gonna fall for that? After what you did to Miguel?” demanded Hawk.

 

Robby’s gut dropped, and Hawk swept in to attack.

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Seeing Miguel with her caught Sam unawares. That was the only reason she even noticed. Really. After all, who cared if those two were going out now? It’s not like there was anything romantic between them anymore. It meant Miguel would finally leave her alone. Besides, she was there with Robby, and he deserved her attention.

 

Did Miguel really like Tory? Did he even know what type of girl she was?

 

Sam looked over at them at the snack area again and narrowed her eyes, not wanting to admit she hated the fact that Miguel had moved on from her.

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“There’s Jimmy,” announced Johnny. He, Bobby, and Tommy raised their beer mugs to their friend as he joined them at the table. “About time. What, the old ball-and-chain hold you up again?”

 

“Had to drop off the youngest with my parents,” explained Jimmy. Arching an eyebrow, he quipped, “But I’ll be sure to tell Jenny you called her that.”

 

Johnny smiled. “Alright, let’s order another round. This one’s on Bobby.”

 

“How generous of you,” replied Bobby.

 

“C’mon, it’s what Jesus would do, right?” chuckled Tommy. They all laughed along, each trying hard not to notice how worn out Tommy looked.

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As soon as she landed the move, Sam beamed at her father, the gap still showing from the last fallen baby tooth. "Did you see, did you see?" she exclaimed, practically bursting with excitement.

 

Daniel played the Cool Dad and gave her a fist-bump. "That's my girl!" She was picking everything up so fast.

 

Sam then asked him, "So do I get to learn the crane-kick now?"

 

"Maybe later," replied Daniel with a breathy laugh.

 

"Mom says you won't do it anymore because everyone asks you to."

 

Daniel tousled his daughter's hair. "Your mom's right about a lot of things."

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“Is that how you wanna live your life?” Johnny leveled hard eyes at Miguel, piercing his armor with the question. He watched as the boy’s features lost their edge, as he reflected on that.

 

The blood in his veins still felt cold, freezing over at seeing the way Miguel had, with no hesitation, followed Kreese’s order to finish off a downed opponent. What had happened in just the span of a single week to push Miguel off the path like that?

 

A chill crept up Johnny’s spine as he realized he’d made a terrible mistake. He had to fix this.

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1983

 

Kreese stood tall and imposing, thumbs hooked through his belt, watching his student strain to keep doing pushups on his knuckles. "You got anything else to say?" he barked, like a drill sergeant.

 

"No, Sensei," said Johnny, sweat dripping from his brow, struggling to complete his punishment.

 

2018

 

Kreese stood tall and imposing, thumbs hooked through his belt, watching his student striving to continue his next set of pushups. "Am I going to have anymore problems from you?" he questioned, his tone cold.

 

"No, Sensei." Hawk's arms shook as he pushed himself back up again, trying not to collapse.

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“Mitch, wait!” Chris called out.

 

“I don’t talk with traitors,” snapped Mitch.

 

Chris tried to let that comment roll off his back. “Look, man, I’m really sorry about Miguel. I don’t know what happened with Robby, but we don’t do that at Miyagi-Do.”

 

That got Mitch to pivot around, his face a glower. “You guys are full of shit, all of you. You won’t strike first, but you guys sure know how to finish a fight. And you bitch about us showing no mercy?”

 

Chris had nothing to say, wishing he didn’t remember how that bruise got on Mitch’s temple.

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As soon as Miguel stepped into the apartment, his Ya-Ya was on him. “So about that fight today,” she said in Spanish.

 

Miguel froze. She’d answered the phone when the school called about the cafeteria brawl. Oh shit. “Yeah…?” He expected the hammer to come down on him. Hard.

 

But Rosa just grinned at her grandson. “I heard you whooped all of them singled-handedly. Looks like those karate lessons are paying off, eh?” She sounded so proud. Tapping the end of her nose playfully, she added, “I told them I’d handle it. Don’t worry, your mom doesn’t need to know.

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Johnny wrung his hands together. “We should’ve taken him back to the hospital. Letting him camp in the dirt like that, Jesus Christ, what were we thinking?”

 

Wrapping a hand over his shoulder, Jimmy consoled him. “Johnny, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”

 

“I’m not preaching when I say this,” said Bobby, “but it was his time. He’d been sick for so long. We might’ve bought him another day if we brought him back. But hooked up to all that equipment? That’s not how he would’ve wanted it.”

 

Johnny knew they were right, but it didn’t help him feel better.

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She was fresh out of college, looking for a car that would tell the world, “Look out, I’m coming for you.”

 

He was making his way up the auto corporate ladder, and it had been years since he’d seen anyone so beautiful.

 

Daniel caught her eyeing a red convertible, and laid the smooth Jersey accent on thick. “If you’re interested in sporty cars, maybe I could show you this nice blue model we just got.” Blue would go better with her eyes.

 

“Uh-huh.” The corners of Amanda’s lips curled, catching onto his game fast. “Only if it’s got comparable horsepower.”

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They didn’t know what to say. They could barely believe what their eyes had seen. It hadn’t sunk in yet, because it made no sense.

 

But Johnny was Sensei Kreese’s fave, they kept telling themselves. Sensei had been like a father to their friend. How could he have done that? How could he have tried to strangle him? Just for coming in second?

 

Standing there in the parking lot, Bobby, Tommy, Jimmy, and Dutch each felt so many things. Hurt. Anger. Sadness. Betrayal. But right at that moment, concern outweighed all other considerations, as they crowded around their shaken brother.

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The first day Aisha sat at an empty lunch table, she tried not to let it get to her. Sure, seeing Sam sitting with Yasmine and Moon startled and confused her, but she was missing some context, that was all. Yet, when one day became two, when two days became two weeks, she knew something had changed.

 

A deep pang pulled inside her, and insecurities started ringing in her mind’s ear. She’s leaving you for them, they told her.

 

No way. She and Sam went way back. Sam was allowed to have other friends, too, but she’d never betray her.

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Demetri had almost decided all karate teachers were the same. Sensei Lawrence was an asshole. Sensei Kreese didn’t belong around kids at all. And Demetri had started to worry Mr. LaRusso was yet another example of a teacher who just wanted to make him feel bad for failing.

 

But then something weird happened. Mr. LaRusso slowed things down. He got on his level, without making him feel like a loser. Mr. LaRusso believed he could do it, if just given the right sort of attention.

 

It made Demetri believe he could do it, too. He’d forgotten what that felt like.

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“So what does Moon think of the hair change?”

 

Hawk glanced at Miguel, looking at the way his friend eyed his red liberty spikes, and smirked at his question. “She digs it,” he boasted. With a suggestive arch of his eyebrows, unable to help himself, he embellished more, “She keeps wanting to touch it, she can barely keep her hands off.”

 

Miguel returned his grin. “I thought you didn’t like people touching it.”

 

“I always let my girl touch it,” stressed Hawk. “She can’t help herself. It’s pretty big, you know.” He laughed when Miguel shoved his shoulder for that.

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Sam had been determined to take a real break from dating this time. She hadn’t even gotten over the gross feeling of betrayal left behind by Kyler and what he’d done to her, and now she had yet another fresh wound, from Miguel and the way he’d acted at the canyon.

 

Two strikes in such a short time. Was she really ready to risk striking out on a third swing?

 

She warned herself to be more cautious. Just step away from all of this for a while.

 

But then Robby smiled at her, and Sam couldn’t help but smile back.

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Miguel selected the number to call. Hearing the dial tone next to his ear, he muttered, “Come on, come on….”

 

Voicemail.

 

“Tory, it’s Miguel. Again,” he said into the phone. “Please call me back, let me know you’re okay. Alright. Bye.” He pressed the red circle to end the message and ran a hand through his hair.

 

Did the police pick her up? His mind raced with a dozen horrible scenarios. But no scenario was worse than what the needling voice in his mind taunted him with, what he suspected deep down:

 

She saw. She knew.

 

He dialed again.

 

Voicemail.

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He couldn’t explain why he’d done it. He’d acted one-hundred percent on emotion. Anger, hurt, frustration, all those emotions had swirled inside him like a violent cyclone, and he let them have free reign, like a torrent let loose.

 

All he’d thought at the moment was why? Why did Sam love Miguel more? Why did his dad love Miguel more? What was so special about Miguel?

 

Those insecurities had ripped through him like the yell from his throat, and it was only after Robby saw Miguel lying on those stairs did the storm dissipate, and he realized what he’d done.

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He wished the answers to his problems could be found at the bottom of a Coors bottle. He’d looked there often enough but could never find any.

 

So many thoughts flowed through Johnny’s head while he took another gulp: Miguel on that ER table; Carmen’s angry tears; the hostile faces of his students, crowding around his Sensei, who didn’t betray so much as a hint of regret for taking his dojo out from under him.

 

A mistake. It had all been a mistake.

 

Johnny kept telling himself that as he chugged the remainder of his beer, before reaching for another.

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“Hey, those guys over there keep looking at you.”

 

Tory followed Aisha’s pointed direction across the food court, to where a couple high school senior boys leered at her from their table. She felt her cheeks warm when one of them winked and blew her an air kiss. She shot him the finger in response.

 

Aisha laughed under her breath. “Guess they got that message.”

 

“You know how guys are, they think anything less obvious is an invitation to keep up the pursuit. Sometimes you gotta send the message loud and clear,” explained Tory, taking a sip of her drink.

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Kreese walked outside the office, a Coors bottle in one hand, drinking from it while he watched his students carry out his command to repaint areas of the dojo to his liking. Johnny’s aesthetics had been too bright. A bit garish, really. Darker accents were what this place needed.

 

He strolled over to the other side of the doorway. Hawk looked up at him, a streak of grey paint on his cheek. “Is there any special way we should be doing this, Sensei?” he asked. The kid was consistently looking for his approval.

 

“No,” Kreese answered. “Just get it done.”

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She was so deep in her head that she only registered the outside world when her mother handed her the frappuccino. She stirred the straw quietly while they drove away from Starbucks.

 

Amanda picked up the silent discomfort. “So, what do you think about inviting Kyler back for dinner Friday? We got some fish sticks in the freezer this time.”

 

Sam sunk in her seat. “Kyler and I broke up,” she stated simply. She considered elaborating, but the thought of her parents finding out about the rumor Kyler spread made the taste of iced mocha go sour in her mouth.

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Sam and Robby were easy mode. Sam spent years absorbing his lessons, Robby had a lot of natural talent, and both took to Mr. Miyagi's style like ducks to water.

 

None of that applied to Demetri. The kid was a defeatist, a whiner, and the biggest neurotic Daniel had ever met.

 

Yet, when Demetri blocked that hit, Daniel felt prouder than he did even with Sam and Robby. Because the measure of a Sensei was how they guided the student who needed their help the most. Mr. Miyagi had taught him that. Daniel hoped his teacher knew he finally understood.

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When had things spiraled out of control? How hadn’t she noticed how bad the situation had been escalating, until it blew up in front of her at school?

 

Miguel was in the hospital. Hawk was talking about retribution. Tory was too ashamed to even call. Sensei Lawrence had walked away from it all. Things were never going to be the same again.

 

So when her parents said they wanted her to leave Cobra Kai, to get away from the toxicity of everything around them, Aisha agreed, deciding to take a page out of her Sensei’s book and walk away, too.

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Moon didn’t understand. A tragedy should’ve brought people together, to get them to see all the fighting had been stupid, pointless, and destructive.

 

Sam was inconsolable. All Moon could offer was hugs, even as Sam swore she would never let anyone get revenge on Miyagi-Do for what happened; she’d stop them first. Moon said to work towards peace. Sam gave her a look.

 

Moon tried talking to Hawk. He was also hurting, and he thought more fighting would make it stop. Didn’t he know that was only going to make it worse, she asked? He gave her a look, too.

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“And you just let him take the dojo?”

 

Johnny’s features pinched at Bobby’s tone, the residual pain in his head from his hangover flaring. He didn’t need his balls busted right now. Didn’t they understand it was too much for him to deal with? “What was I supposed to do? Him and that son-of-a-bitch Zarkarian made a new deal.”

 

Bobby just shook his head.

 

An apprehensive shadow fell over Jimmy’s face. “Did you ever tell your kids about Kreese, what he did?”

 

Johnny rubbed the back of his neck. “They’ll be fine…,” he muttered, not believing a word of it.

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Music played in the living room of Moon’s house, but while most of the partiers enjoyed themselves to its beat, the tension growing between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do created an atmosphere that warned of ominous danger.

 

Still trying to have fun, Nathaniel piled his plate with vegan pigs-in-a-blanket.

 

“Leave some for the rest of us, ass-breath.”

 

Nathaniel narrowed his eyes at Bert. Then he made a show of pushing up his glasses with a prominent finger. “Wait your turn, dickhead,” he said.

 

Bert squared his shoulders back and warned, “Don’t challenge me, nerd. You don’t want a piece of this.”

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Hearing Daniel announce his engagement to Amanda made Miyagi happy. When he introduced them, Miyagi knew right away the young man had made a wise decision. Amanda was intelligent and spirited, the sort of partner who’d keep Daniel on the right path.

 

“Daniel says you give pretty good advice,” said Amanda, walking with him. “You know him better than probably anybody, any wisdom you could lend me before I vow to spend the rest of my life with him?”

 

Miyagi smiled. “Daniel-san sometimes forgets what’s important. Never on purpose, but if he forgets, tell him, focus. Focus on what’s important.”

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“They say the police picked up Robby.”

 

Demetri wasn’t surprised to hear Chris announce that. “I bet they’ll try him for attempted manslaughter,” he hypothesized pessimistically, jumping to the worst conclusion like he was wont to do. “Probably going to stay in the slammer till he’s eighteen. Maybe longer. Of course, he’ll never get that off his record. His whole life is pretty much ruined.”

 

“Don’t talk like that, man,” stressed Chris. “Try and stay positive.”

 

Chris’s advice did nothing to help settle the conflicted feelings stirring inside Demetri, the alternating waves of pity and anger he felt towards Robby.

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Johnny knew he’d messed up. It had been stupid of him to get distracted during practice, but he couldn’t get Ali out of his head. All things considered, mat-scrubbing duty wasn’t too bad a punishment for spacing out, especially since Sensei Kreese had already told him once to put Ali behind him.

 

“No woman is worth worrying about,” Sensei Kreese told him while he scrubbed. “They’ll string you along for a while, make you feel like you’re special, but in the end, none of them are loyal. Just remember, they’re all replaceable.”

 

Johnny furrowed his brows, but nodded. “Yes, Sensei.”

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Walking into the living room, Daniel sighed when his eyes spotted Anthony reclined on the couch, absorbed in his video game.

 

“So, Anthony,” he said, “you up for hanging out today? I know you said you’re not interested in karate, but maybe you and I could catch a ball game? I still got those season tickets. Your mom and Sam will be out.”

 

“Not feeling it,” replied Anthony. He heard his dad sigh again and peeked up at him as he strolled out of the room. It would’ve been nice if his father suggested playing video games with him once.

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He avoided the school security guards and bolted out the doors. He could hear an ambulance, but he didn’t stop running. It wasn’t the first scene of a crime he’d fled.

 

Where could he go? His mom was still in rehab. He couldn’t return to the LaRussos. If Mr. LaRusso hadn’t already thrown him out earlier, he definitely would’ve now that he’d completely acted against everything Miyagi-Do stood for.

 

And his dad? How would his dad ever forgive him after what he’d just done to Miguel?

 

Robby didn’t know where to go. He’d never felt more lost in his life.

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They were checking Sam out of the hospital that day. She’d asked him repeatedly to see Miguel, but Daniel told her it was a bad idea. “Then you see him,” she said. “Please, let me know how he is.”

 

Daniel somehow strolled to the long-term care ward and caught a glimpse in the window at Miguel. He looked horrible, locked in braces, hooked to monitoring machines. Daniel hoped he’d see that cheater from the All-Valley, the boy who broke Sam’s heart, so he’d be reminded that Cobra Kai churned out trouble makers.

 

But all he saw was a hurt kid.

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Amanda had heard horror stories about meeting mothers-in-law. The pressure felt heavy, considering how close to his mother Daniel was. Amanda loved him, but she knew a momma’s boy when she saw one, and also knew what sort of mothers made them.

 

But Lucille greeted her warmly at the door, kissing her on both her cheeks. “It’s so great to finally meet you.”

 

“Likewise,” said Amanda, handing over a container of egg salad she’d picked up on the way.

 

Lucille accepted it, but her mouth pinched. “Oh. Prepackaged.”

 

Amanda looked to her fiancé for an explanation. But he just smiled.

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“Why didn’t the old Cobra Kai let any girls join?”

 

Johnny didn’t like loaded questions like that. And Aisha didn’t seem to like the answers. “Back in my day, chicks didn’t fight, alright? They hung out at the mall, y’know, got their nails done. Chicks did chick stuff, guys did guy stuff.”

 

Aisha arched an eyebrow. “That’s a little reductive, don’t you think?”

 

“A little what?”

 

“So no girls were interested in joining the old Cobra Kai?”

 

Johnny frowned, wondering what Sensei Kreese would think of him now. “Stop asking so many questions, Miss Robinson. You and Diaz, line up.”

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“I don’t know what to do,” Moon admitted with a sigh, shoulders slumping. Sitting beside her, Piper listened as she verbalized the feelings that had been overwhelming her. “They’re all my friends, and I hate to think they’ll fight like that again. But none of them will listen to me.”

 

“Maybe they just need some time,” suggested Piper. She smiled and reached out a hand to brush Moon’s loose hair behind her ear affectionately. “Don’t feel like you have to fix this on your own. I know you’ll try though.”

 

Moon leaned in to kiss her as a wordless thanks.

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“So, uh, y’know, probably an easy enough fix to correct the pupils.” Demetri looked up from where he’d grasped Sensei Kreese’s bicep. From the icy scowl being leveled at him, he would’ve sworn he was looking into the serpentine eyes of a spitting cobra itself.

 

It happened so fast. Sensei Kreese was giving him a death glare, next thing the old man’s fist slammed him square in the face. Shock electrified through Demetri before the pain registered.

 

Operating on instinct honed by years of running from bullies, Demetri darted from the dojo, blood trickling down his nose. “Shit, shit, shit!”

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“You look like shit, man.”

 

Miguel didn’t know if Hawk was defusing the discomfiture with humor, or being brutally honest. Either way, he needed the laugh. “Tell me something I don’t know,” he said, giving his friend a weak fist bump. “Like how are things? At Cobra Kai?”

 

Hawk smiled. “We’re all waiting for you to come back.”

 

“And Sensei?” asked Miguel, voice full of hope.

 

Hawk’s smile fell. “Sensei Lawrence abandoned us. But it’s okay. Sensei Kreese has been looking out for us.”

 

Miguel felt like the wind was knocked out of his lungs, and his mouth went dry.

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Cole eyed Anoush. “So, you’d be getting a higher title, which, of course, will bring better pay.”

 

Anoush rubbed his chin. He wanted to say yes immediately, still vexed over being man-handled and Daniel doing shit about it. But he remembered how Daniel had been a good boss, up until recently. “Can I have a day to think it over?”

 

“Of course. Want to talk with LaRusso first?”

 

“It’s just that Louie is already working here, so if I leave, it might be a lot for him to swallow.”

 

“Don’t worry,” said Cole, sipping his boba. “He’s swallowed bigger before.”

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The last thing Miguel remembered was falling in the air. When he next cracked open his eyes, he was met with florescent lights on a ceiling he didn’t recognize. He blinked, and it took a few minutes for his foggy brain to piece it together: a hospital.

 

“Miggy! Gracias a Dios!”

 

He tried to turn his head to the sound, but something held his neck in place. Thankfully the voice came into his line of vision. “Mom….”

 

She had tears in her eyes. She looked so relieved as she kissed him on his forehead, repeating his name over and over.

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For Hawk, the best thing about Cobra Kai was that nobody would ever be able to hurt him again. He thought that was what Sensei Lawrence had promised. Yet Sensei’s teachings didn’t prevent Robby from mocking him, or Mr. LaRusso from targeting the dojo, or Demetri’s roast. That was because, deep down, Sensei Lawrence was soft.

 

Sensei Kreese, though. Sensei Kreese understood that the rest of the world was hostile to him. He understood that showing mercy to his enemies was admitting failure, an invitation to be taken advantage of.

 

Sensei Kreese would ensure he was never a victim again.

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Miguel knew sometimes he could be vicious. As a Cobra, he preferred to spread his hood to ward off his enemies. But if backed into a corner, his venom packed a malicious punch. He was a pragmatic fighter. He knew what weaknesses to aim for.

 

“Like that move? I learned it from your dad!”

 

He’d known exactly what to say to set Robby off. And, in the heat of the moment, he’d enjoyed it. Those words soothed that insecure part of him that was always afraid that, if it came down to it, Sensei would pick his son over him.

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"Oh my God, you won't believe what Kyler just texted me."

 

Moon could hear the edge in Yasmine's voice. "He and Sam had their date tonight, right?"

 

A mean-spirited laugh escaped her friend. "Oh yeah."

 

Not knowing why there was such a spiteful inflection to her tone, Moon asked, "What happened?"

 

"Well, it seems like Sam had a few things to say about us. That little uppity bitch thinks she's better than us."

 

Moon frowned, hurt that Sam would say that. "Did Kyler mention how it went down?"

 

"Uh-huh. And he said it's not the only thing that went down…."

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"Come on, I need a place to sit."

 

"Oh, you can go sit with Kyler. I hear he doesn't mind that you suck."

 

It was a spiteful thing to say. But Aisha didn't care. Sam deserved it.

 

Just who did Sam think she was? Did she think she could dump her, treat her like shit for months, and then come crawling back after her fake friends finally bit her in the ass? Without so much as an apology for how she'd acted?

 

Screw that. Sensei Lawrence taught her to have too much self-respect to be treated that way. No mercy.

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“You asking me out?”

 

Johnny’s gaze deepened. “What if I am?”

 

Unable to hide her smile, Carmen felt her skin warm at the thought of where this might end up going. Johnny had certainly come a long way since they’d first met. She’d watched him man up from a pathetic drunk into something resembling a catch. And she already knew how good he was to Miguel.

 

Maybe it was the lingering insecurity, the residual embarrassment from being stood up by Graham that motivated her decision.

 

But still. Why not give it a shot? “Alright then,” she said. “It’s a date.”

Chapter Text

When Miguel tried to interfere, to pull her off Sam, Tory kicked him back. His shock was met with a red face, barred teeth, eyes full of hurt.

 

How dare he interfere? How dare he string her along, act like he was finally over his ex, pretend that he was ready to move on? How dare he treat Tory like a rebound? All the while, his heart had still been Sam’s for the taking. Sam, who played with Miguel’s feelings like they meant nothing. Sam, who treated Tory like a hardened thief, like poverty trash?

 

How dare Miguel defend her?

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For Chris, what started off as something thrilling had slowly grew into a drain. He was supposed to be here to have fun, learn self-defense, and make new friends.

 

But Miguel, Aisha, and especially Hawk were always ribbing him and Mitch. Sensei Lawrence preferred flash over substance, it felt like. And it had become clear there was no fun to be had in the dojo.

 

He voiced this to Mitch. “Just give it a chance,” said his friend. “It’s just initiation shit. You saw them at the All-Valley. They’re gonna make us into badasses.”

 

Was being a badass worth this?

Chapter Text

He should’ve held his son on the day he was born. But Johnny hadn’t been there. Shannon wasn’t happy about it. He was lucky she let him hold Robby at all now.

 

Fathers were supposed to be proud when holding their sons. But when he looked at Robby’s pink face, all he felt was shame.

 

The dirt hadn’t even gone cold on his mother’s grave, and all Johnny could think about was how ashamed she would be with him for missing Robby’s birth.

 

He was no father. He was nothing. He was a loser. Just like Sensei Kreese had said.

Chapter Text

She’d been just old enough at the time to understand the implications of what her mother meant when she said her boss had fired her. And she could see for herself the effect it had on her mom. She saw the stress on her worn-out face, she heard her crying at night when her mom thought she and her brother couldn’t hear her.

 

What Tory didn’t understand was why her mom had been fired. All she’d done was bring home leftover food, so they wouldn’t go hungry. What kind of world would punish someone for that? Where was the mercy?

Chapter Text

Carmen and Amanda touched up their makeup in front of the bathroom mirror in the restaurant. “I love that shade,” complimented Carmen, watching as Amanda reapplied some lipstick.

 

The woman beside her smiled. “Thank you.”

 

Putting her foundation back in her purse, Carmen asked, “Was it my imagination back there, or were Johnny and Daniel, um, how would you put it? Were they….”

 

“Engaging in a little dick-wagging?” suggested Amanda with a blunt grin, making Carmen laugh. “Uh-huh, it wasn’t just you. What do you say we give the two roosters another five minutes before heading back to the barnyard?”

Chapter Text

“Johnny, is everything alright?” When Laura had last seen her son, he and his friends had left to get dressed after the Tournament. Now he was standing in front of her with red-rimmed eyes, and a look on his face he only got whenever he tried to hide the fact that something had upset him.

 

He glanced down at his feet. “It’s nothing.”

 

She noticed his empty hands. “Where’s your trophy?”

 

Johnny sniffed and walked passed her. “I’m going to bed.”

 

Getting worried, she asked, “Do you have early practice tomorrow?”

 

He stopped on the way to his room. “No.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, I need to talk about last night.”

 

Miguel hoped to get Hawk’s opinion about what happened at Moon’s party. He didn’t expect his friend’s face to go pale.

 

“O-Oh yeah?” Hawk stuttered, fidgeting with his pen.

 

Slouching in his chair, ignoring the other kids coming into science class, Miguel sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah. Tory’s avoiding me. I think I really screwed up.”

 

Hawk’s eyes got wide; it looked like relief had washed over him. “Oh! So you didn’t hear….”

 

“Hear what?” asked Miguel, brows pinching.

 

“Nothing,” said Hawk, smirking now. “So, chick trouble, huh?”

Chapter Text

Swallowing the bite of his candy bar, Mitch typed on his phone: c'mon give ck another chance

 

Chris texted back: hated it there. aren't u getting tired of it too?

 

Mitch frowned. Holding the candy bar between his teeth, he shot out another message: dude it's not that bad. miss u in class bro

 

join miyagi-do it's so much more chill over here man

 

Mitch bit down so hard on the candy bar it broke in half, dropping on the ground: u joined md??? wtf they're the enemy!!!

 

He scoffed when all Chris had to say to that declaration was: :/

Chapter Text

"I met this kid in Cobra Kai,” announced Johnny at dinner, poking at his spaghetti with his fork.

 

His mother looked across at him and smiled. “Oh?”

 

“Uh, yeah. His name’s Bobby, he’s my age,” Johnny explained, eyeing the empty chair at the head of the table. It was easier to talk without his stepfather around. “I was wondering if maybe he could come over tomorrow after practice, so we could listen to some cassettes.”

 

Laura reminded him, “We’ll have to ask Sid.” Seeing her son’s shoulders slump, she added, “I’ll talk to him. He’ll be glad you’re making friends.”

Chapter Text

Amanda barely knew the first thing about karate. But Daniel came to her with those puppy-dog eyes of his, bemoaning how, with Sam away at summer camp, he didn’t have his little mini-me to practice karate with for a month. He poured on the pouty lip, and she caved.

 

She didn’t do so bad, if she could be her own judge. She even managed to knock him to the mat once. Then he got a whole different look in those baby browns.

 

After Anthony was born nine months later, Amanda decided she and Daniel probably shouldn’t hit the mats again.

Chapter Text

When his parents brought Sam home from the hospital, Anthony didn’t know how to react. Mostly he felt uncomfortable. Sam had her fair share of minor injuries in the past, ones he didn’t mind teasing her about.

 

But this felt different. This felt serious. Those were stitches from a real fight.

 

He’d never seen his sister so completely shaken.

 

Sitting beside her on the couch, all he could think to say was, “Wanna play some videogames?” She looked at him, then gave a tiny shake of her head. Thinking harder, he asked, “Want some cookie-dough ice-cream?”

 

This time she nodded.

Chapter Text

Bert got the group text, alerting him to the sweeping changes that were about to blow through. Sensei Kreese was taking over the dojo. The text was a rallying call for the students, to see where they stood.

 

Aisha had quit. Hawk, Tory, Mitch, and the rest with Kreese were waiting to see whether Bert would do the same.

 

Bert had survived initiations at Cobra Kai. So he wasn’t lacking toughness. But he knew he wasn’t what anybody would call a winner. That had been okay under Sensei Lawrence. But Sensei Lawrence wasn’t here anymore.

 

Bert left the text unanswered.

Chapter Text

"Let's act like civilized men here."

Johnny's fists clenched by his sides. He glared at his old Sensei, who stood smoking his cigar at the edge of the sidewalk. "You stole my dojo."

Kreese rolled his shoulder. "It's business. Not one of your strong suits, really."

"I'm just here to tell you, I'm getting it back," declared Johnny. "And my students, too."

Kreese blew smoke, then smiled. "They're my students now."

"If you…." Johnny paused. His fists clenched tighter. "If you hurt any of them, you're gonna be the one who's hurting next."

Kreese chuckled. "Don't be so dramatic, Johnny."

Chapter Text

Fewer things were more all-encompassing in humiliation than going viral. Her Instagram notices had blown up and showed no signs of stopping. Her peers tagged her in Yasmine’s video over and over, with malicious commentary:

 

keep stuffing your face fatty

 

oink oink

 

try the salad bar next time

 

Aisha didn’t know what to do. She felt overwhelmed. She tried ignoring them, but there were too many. She thought about telling her parents, but what could they do? And the school wouldn’t help; she didn’t want to be like that guy with the cleft lip.

 

All she could do was cry.

Chapter Text

Deep down, Robby always knew he'd end up behind bars. It was only a matter of time. But he assumed it would be for theft, that one day he'd get caught. He'd stolen a lot of things, amounting to a lot of money.

He never expected to land in juvie for critically injuring someone.

Laying on his bunk, staring at the ceiling, Robby now had plenty of time to mull over things.

Funny. And to think, he really thought his time with Mr. LaRusso would turn his life around. But, in the end, he was his father's son after all.

Chapter Text

She and Gregory were eating dinner when the message came through. Ali couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the name. “Wow, talk about a blast from the past,” she said with a little smile.

 

“What is?” asked her husband.

 

Ali explained, “An old high school friend, wants to reconnect on Facebook.”

 

“Those can be fun. You gonna accept?”

 

“Actually, he was an old boyfriend.”

 

“So?” asked Gregory. “I trust you. If you wanna reconnect, go for it.”

 

Johnny hadn’t crossed Ali’s mind for a few years. She wondered how he was doing in Cali. “Well, I’ll think about it.”

Chapter Text

It was only after he sobered up that Miguel started to realize the full weight of what he’d done. Regret was the first emotion that swelled inside him. He’d actually hit her. He didn’t mean to. Didn’t she know that?

 

Then he remembered Sensei’s advice: “You gotta watch out for the LaRussos.”

 

Why did she bring Robby there at all? Why did she introduce Robby to her family, but not him? Why did she treat this rando who worked for her dad better than her actual boyfriend?

 

Boyfriend. Miguel guessed he didn’t have claim to that title anymore, did he?

Chapter Text

For Miyagi, one heartache time could never completely heal was the grief of not having been able to hold his son, to see his child’s face one time.

 

When Daniel presented his daughter to him, Miyagi knew it was the closest he’d ever get to experiencing that. The little girl was strong and healthy. She had a wonderful life ahead of her. She would be loved. She and her mother had been lucky to be in a hospital, with doctors to care for them.

 

Looking at her face, Miyagi’s eyes went wet. “A beautiful child,” he said, cradling Sam closer.

Chapter Text

He wished he had better control over his emotions, that he didn’t wear them so openly on his sleeve. He wished he wasn’t such a crybaby.

 

“Eli, what’s wrong?”

 

He tried hiding his phone, but his mom was faster. He looked at his hands while she read the comments that had upset him.

 

“Are these kids from your school?”

 

He nodded.

 

“How long has this been going on?”

 

He didn’t want to say.

 

His mom got that look. “This is unacceptable. First they bother you at school, now they’re harassing you online? The school is going to hear about this.”

Chapter Text

“So that's it?” demanded Bobby. “You’re just giving up, letting Kreese win?”

 

“You can’t just do nothing about it,” said Jimmy. “They’re your students.”

 

Johnny wanted to explain that things were too overwhelming. Miguel was getting out of the hospital soon, and Robby was still in juvie. How could he take more on his plate right now? “They chose Kreese,” he said, sounding petulant to his own ears.

 

Bobby called him out on it. “Bullshit. And who brought Kreese into their lives?”

 

“I know how I’d feel if my kids were with him,” added Jimmy. “You gotta fix this, Johnny.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, how come Sensei Lawrence doesn’t call Miguel and Aisha any nicknames?” asked Mitch.

 

Hawk scoffed meanly. “Because they’re cool, something you wouldn’t understand, Ass-face.”

 

Mitch’s brows pinched hard. “So, like, what do you gotta do to get a new nickname around here? Y’know, like how Stingray got the Senseis to stop calling him Chubs?”

 

“Not be so annoying, for starters. You gotta earn it.”

 

“How’d you earn yours? Sensei Lawrence gave it to you, right? What’d he call you before?”

 

Hawk narrowed his eyes. “Who told you you could ask me questions? Get the hell out of my face!”

Chapter Text

People who knew less would tell him he’d won. But John Kreese understood this was no true victory. Sure, he had the dojo, he had a group of soldiers ready to train, and Miyagi-Do had shut down.

 

But how could he get satisfaction at Miyagi-Do closing when their last battle had them completely decimate Cobra Kai? That was a loss in his book. He wanted a win.

 

He knew he could have his soldiers pick off LaRusso’s students now, but where was the fun in the victory if LaRusso wasn’t around to see it?

 

Kreese could brumate a while longer.

Chapter Text

She didn’t know how Aisha did it, been the only girl in Cobra Kai.

 

Tory knew she was one of the best in class. She could put any of the boys in their place. She was tough as nails, by necessity.

 

And it wasn’t like she had a problem with what Sensei Kreese was teaching. He was only helping them survive in a merciless world, after all.

 

But she didn’t like having only boys for company. She couldn’t shake the feeling of discomfort, even when they hadn’t said or done anything wrong.

 

It made her miss Aisha more than ever.

Chapter Text

The enemy of the enemy was his friend. That was their mutual understanding. Neither of them liked it.

 

For Daniel, Johnny was the one to blame. He was the one who invited Kreese back. He was the reason Kreese was attacking him and his students at Miyagi-Do. The least Johnny could do was help right his mistake.

 

Johnny took his digs, he tolerated LaRusso’s snide comments. But how he was supposed to feel about scheming with LaRusso to fight his own dojo? Was he supposed to feel good, knowing what was going to happen to his kids if they lost?

Chapter Text

“Would be nice if Johnny could join us on these Facetime chats,” Jimmy mused.

 

On the other screen, Bobby grinned. “Someone’s gotta get him a smartphone first.”

 

“Yeah.” Jimmy then asked the question he’d been holding in since their day at the bar. “How do you think things between him and Kreese will turn out?”

 

Bobby’s features strained. “We can always hope for the best.”

 

“You think Kreese could really change?”

 

The pastor in Bobby wanted to say anyone could turn themselves around. But the boy who remembered the kind of man his Sensei was could only offer a shrug.

Chapter Text

"I'm kind of enjoying the gain without the pain."

Hearing Demetri say that churned frustration deep inside Hawk. It started to boil as it became clear that's what Demetri really thought, curdling frustration into resentment.

Demetri planned on reaping the rewards without putting in any of the hard work Hawk did? Did he think he deserved to be treated with respect without making the radical changes Hawk had been forced to make to earn his?

That wasn't how it worked. That wasn't fair. He had to fix himself first, he had to flip the script, too.

It made Hawk furious.

Chapter Text

“So the app says if we split a salad, instead of both ordering, we save about fifty cals each.” Yasmine reached over and plucked the packet of vegan ranch dressing from Moon’s hand. “And none of this shit. It’s, like, fifteen grams of fat. Do you want thunder thighs?”

 

Moon shook her head. “No.”

 

“Oh my god, check out hogzilla.” Two girls walked across the food court; Sam and Aisha. Yasmine’s attention was on the two pizza slices adorning Aisha’s plate.

 

Shaking her head, Moon took a bite of her dry salad. “It’s really sad when people let themselves go.”

Chapter Text

Amanda was at the point where she was getting worried that her husband’s hobby had turned into a full-blown obsession.

 

It was bad enough when he raised the rent in Reseda just to get back at a high school karate rival, but when she did the books and discovered Daniel had taken half the dealership’s Q3 budget, without her knowledge, to fund a commercial for his little hobby….

 

Well.

 

“Have you lost your mind?”

 

Daniel laid on the schmooze. “Honey….”

 

“Don’t sweet talk me. I’m just wondering where you left your head, so maybe I can find it for you.”

Chapter Text

"I don't mean to pry," said Sam, sitting beside Robby on the bed her dad provided in the old dojo, "and if you don't want to talk about it, I'd understand. But, how could your mom just take off like that and leave you alone?"

 

She detected reflexive defensiveness in the way his brows knitted together.

 

"Sometimes she lets guys talk her into making bad choices," explained Robby. He didn't want to air out the complete truth, about his mother's pill and alcohol addictions, how those, more than anything, influenced her behavior. Instead, he added, "It's mostly because she's lonely.”

Chapter Text

She told him she was pregnant and that he was the father. He had the audacity to ask, “How do you know it’s mine?”

 

Shannon slapped Johnny on his face. “Because you’re the only guy I’ve been screwing around with for the last three months!” she snapped. “If you don’t believe me, get a damn paternity test when the baby’s born.”

 

“You’re going through with it?”

 

“Yeah, Johnny, I am,” she responded firmly.

 

He threw up his hands to concede the choice was hers. “You don’t expect us to get married, do you?”

 

Shannon scoffed. “Like you’d commit to anything.”

Chapter Text

“I think I should tell Sensei Lawrence that I did it.”

 

“Say nothing. I’ll handle it.” The last thing he needed was for the kid to blab about vandalizing LaRusso’s dojo.

 

Kreese knew what the consequences would be.

 

If Hawk told Johnny, then Johnny would drill him about the whys. Hawk might’ve revealed their one-on-one chat the previous night. Johnny wouldn’t like that he was alone with the kid, nor would he understand the advice he’d given him. Probably would accuse him of being up to his “old tricks,” kick him out permanently.

 

He’d come too far to lose now.

Chapter Text

Of all kids, why did Robby have to be Johnny’s? No way in hell it could’ve been a coincidence.

 

Was it all some sick joke? Get Robby into the dealership, get Daniel talking about karate, and later down the line unveil whatever prank Johnny had in mind?

 

And for what, getting the rent raised? For that stupid kick? That was worth this breach of trust, so they could get a good chuckle out of the egg on his face?

 

God, he’d given Robby lessons Mr. Miyagi had taught him. The second-hand disrespect to his sensei peeved him most of all.

Chapter Text

“Miguel!” Tory cried out when she saw him fall. And when he hit those stairs, it felt like her insides twisted into a pretzel. He wasn’t moving. Even when Hawk and she crowded him, he remained unresponsive.

 

She knew what that meant. It clenched her gut so hard it made her want to throw up.

 

She’d never wanted that to happen. She’d been enraged, upset, hurt, and she’d wanted to make someone pay. And she wouldn’t have minded if Miguel’s heart got bruised by watching his precious Sam get beat up.

 

In the end, she’d only bruised her own heart.

Chapter Text

"Glad you could make it this time, Johnny,” greeted Tommy as his friend got out of his Firebird to join them at the entrance of the restaurant.

 

Johnny tried to hide his guilt. “Yeah, sorry for bailing the last couple times. Been trying to find more work. Sid’s riding my ass, and Shannon’s bustin’ my balls for child support.”

 

“How's Robby?” asked Jimmy.

 

“He’s what? Four now?” inquired Bobby.

 

Johnny shifted uncomfortably on his feet, hands in his jean pockets. “Yeah. Last I checked he’s doing good.” Before they could ask anymore questions, he said, “Well I’m starving. Let’s eat.”

Chapter Text

Carmen knew that look. Her mother always gave it to her whenever she thought she was being misguided or stubborn, ever since she was a little girl. “I’m not being unreasonable. He’s the reason Miggy went to the hospital, he’s the reason my son’s struggling to walk right now.”

 

Miguel’s strong. Takes after his mother’s side, huh?” Rosa smiled and rubbed her daughter’s back. “But you know he’s struggling with the therapy because he’s miserable.

 

No,” emphasized Carmen.

 

Rosa’s smile fell faintly. “All I’m suggesting is letting them talk. You know he’s as worried about Miguel as you and me.

Chapter Text

The construction workers unveiled the logo outside the building. John Kreese laid his eyes on the menacing black-and-yellow cobra, fangs bared and prepared to strike. A tight-lipped smile spread over his mouth. It was everything he expected it would be, and more. A symbol of strength, cunning, deadliness.

 

Cobra Kai. His legacy. The place where he would shape young men into the soldiers America needed here at home. Men who wouldn’t retreat. Men who would fight, who'd show no mercy.

 

Winners. That’s what he would make.

 

This time, losing wasn’t an option.

 

There would be no losers in this dojo.

Chapter Text

The school called to say he’d failed to turn in an assignment. Shannon was ready to ground Robby until he was ten.

 

“You can’t just not turn in your work, Robby.”

 

“It’s a stupid assignment,” he said, slumping on the coach.

 

She was about to cut his attitude down when she took the paper out of his folder. A Father’s Day report. Write about activities you and your father do for fun.

 

Her temper cooled. She walked over and sat down beside him on the couch. Running a hand through his hair, she agreed, “You’re right. It’s a stupid assignment.”

Chapter Text

He’d been a loser in school. He’d been a loser at his job. He’d been a loser all his life. So it made sense that he’d be treated like a loser at Cobra Kai, too. Raymond could deal with that, because word was that Sensei Lawrence turned losers into badasses.

 

That wasn’t entirely the case. Sensei Lawrence didn’t appreciate the hard work he put in. But the Sensei Emeritus had.

 

“Good work, Stingray.”

 

With that slight note of encouragement, Raymond was ready to show everyone that Stingrays were just as venomous as Cobras if you stepped on them too hard.

Chapter Text

“Anoush, my man!” Louie clapped Anoush on the shoulder. “Heard you were joining the team. Looks like Cole’s taking all us guys my cousin canned, huh?”

 

“Actually, I wasn’t fired,” corrected Anoush. “I quit.”

 

Louie shrugged. “Tomayto, tomahto.”

 

“No, really, I did. That guy he’s been beefing with assaulted me, right on the floor. Daniel didn’t do anything about it.”

 

“I tell you, my cuz has had this huge stick up his ass ever since that karate guy showed up. It’s weird.” Louie shoved a cup of coffee in Anoush’s hand. “Either way, great to have a winning team back.”

Chapter Text

He looked much better than the last time he saw him, although he still had a long way to go. Johnny knew Miguel would bounce back. He was tough. But seeing him like this almost moved him to tears again.

 

Miguel greeted him with that cheesy grin of his. “Sensei.”

 

He had so much to say, things he hadn’t been able to since Carmen kept them apart. Yet all he could manage was, “I’m sorry.” Sorry for him getting hurt, sorry of the role he’d played in that, sorry for not being here for him since then.

 

“It’s okay, Sensei.”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t right. Robby didn’t belong in juvie. He wasn’t a bad kid. But this was the reality, and Daniel had to accept his responsibility in Robby being here.

 

“Remember what I told you, about Mr. Miyagi saying there only being bad teachers?” Robby nodded. “Never thought those words might apply to me one day.”

 

“Mr. LaRusso, it’s -”

 

Daniel cut him off. “Don’t say it’s okay. It’s not okay. Me throwing you out was never okay. I’m so sorry, Robby. I’m gonna try and make it better, anyway I can. I’d like to earn your trust back.”

 

Robby nodded again.

Chapter Text

He didn’t have to ask the kid what happened. He could tell just by the bruise on his face. But Kreese wanted to hear him say it.

 

“I lost,” admitted Hawk. The kid gave him a hopeful glance, maybe expecting him to give the advice he had previously.

 

But things were different now. “When you lose, you let all of Cobra Kai down. You let me down.”

 

Hawk’s eyes fell. “I’m sorry, Sensei.”

 

“Sensei Lawrence might not have cared if you were a loser, but in my dojo, you’re going to learn to win. Even if it’s the hard way.”

Chapter Text

“I never want to see you again.” Johnny gave a silent nod, which only made Carmen angrier. He was lucky she didn’t slap him. It took all her dwindling willpower to keep her hand from flying out and striking his cheek.

 

She wanted someone to answer for this. Her boy was fighting for his life, and she was powerless to do anything about it.

 

All because of Johnny. If only she’d stood her ground and kept Miguel out of Cobra Kai when she’d pulled him before, Carmen berated herself. She’d known then no good influence could come from Johnny Lawrence.

Chapter Text

“So you said you had to use that to fight a guy off?” asked Aisha, pointing to the spiked bracelet on Tory’s wrist. It made Tory blush, although she tried hiding her discomfort behind a tough expression. It made Aisha regret bringing it up.

 

Tory explained, “He’d been following me around the mall for a while, even when I tried cutting through a Macy’s to lose him. I mean, I don’t know what his intentions were, but you can’t be too careful with creeps, you know?”

 

“Yeah.” Aisha wondered how many creeps Tory had dealt with to be that vigilant.

Chapter Text

Robby followed Sam outside the roller rink, hearing her mutter irately under her breath. Looked like their not-a-date night was pretty much over. “Hey, don’t let those Cobra jerks get under your skin,” he said once they got to her car.

 

“I’m not,” she lied.

 

Rolling his shoulders back, he asked, “What’s her deal anyway, the girl who knocked you down?”

 

Sam’s features went sour. “Besides being a jerk, she’s a total thief.” First she swiped some vodka, now Tory was stealing ex-boyfriends.

 

She was so caught up in her anger, Sam didn’t notice the uneasy look on Robby’s face.

Chapter Text

It took a while for his mind to fully comprehend what he’d been told: Sensei Lawrence had walked away from everything; he’d abandoned Cobra Kai.

 

Miguel couldn’t believe it, didn’t want to believe it. After everything they’d done to build Cobra Kai from the ground up, Sensei would just leave it all behind? Leave his students behind? Leave him behind?

 

Sensei Lawrence was nowhere to be found. He hadn’t visited him in the hospital yet.

 

That almost hurt worse than his fall.

 

Miguel didn’t understand. Sensei said he’d always be on his side. Cobra Kai was supposed to never die.

Chapter Text

“Hey, you wanna hit up the comic book store?” asked Demetri. “New issue of Dungeon Lord’s out. They also got a three-for-five deal on back issues, today only.”

 

Hawk shifted uncomfortably in the seat beside him. “No. I got practice after school. I told you, the Tournament’s coming up.”

 

“So? We could go after practice,” Demetri pointed out. “Besides, don’t you think maybe you should give it a little rest for a while after those rabies shots?” He eyed the bandage on Hawk’s arm.

 

“I said no! Didn’t you hear me?” snapped Hawk.

 

Demetri frowned. “Yeah. Loud and clear.”

Chapter Text

He’d known there’d be bad press. His student pushed a kid over a rail and broke his back. But Daniel could say Robby wasn’t his student anymore. Robby was Johnny’s kid.

 

But then he heard other things about the fight. About Sam pushing the girl who started everything over a railing, too; she could’ve broken her neck. Chris may have given a boy a concussion. Demetri kicked another one into a trophy case.

 

Daniel wanted to say none of it mattered, because those Cobra punks were the aggressors. His students had acted in defense only.

 

Just like he’d taught them….

Chapter Text

“He kicked Sensei Kreese out for a reason. I mean, are you listening to the stuff he’s saying?”

 

“So we should go back to listening to Sensei Lawrence instead? You almost died because of him!”

 

“I told you, that’s not….” Miguel stopped himself, swallowing his anger. He didn’t want to get into a blow up about that now. “Look, Sensei Lawrence’s got our best interests at heart. From what I just heard, it doesn’t sound like Sensei Kreese does.”

 

Hawk's face reddened. “Sensei Kreese has been the only one looking out for our interests since you’ve been gone,” he snapped.

Chapter Text

As soon as he saw him standing in the lot, Daniel felt his blood boil. All the work towards tranquility and balance he’d accomplished in Okinawa threatened to slip away as he walked up to his unwanted guest. “Get out of here,” he ordered.

 

Kreese smiled, running his hand along the hood of an expensive car. “Is that any way to treat an old man who’s shopping for cars?”

 

Daniel had to fight to not rise to his bait. “What do you want, you son of a bitch?”

 

“Just thought I’d welcome you back home to America, LaRusso,” chuckled Kreese.

Chapter Text

“Psst,” whispered Chris, grabbing Sam’s attention discreetly in the desk beside him. “You see that?” She followed his line of vision a couple rows over to see Mitch casting a fierce glower in their direction.

 

Glancing down at her book, she murmured, “Just ignore him.”

 

Chris sighed. He could feel Mitch’s intense stare burning into his shoulder-blade. “You think they’ll try anything?”

 

Sam knew what he was asking, what he must’ve been fearing deep down. Would Cobra Kai retaliate for what happened to Miguel? “I wouldn’t put anything past those guys,” she said, narrowing her eyes back at her enemy.

Chapter Text

It pleased Daniel to see his new students making progress. The ex-Cobras were starting to gel very well with Sam, Robby, and Demetri.

 

Nathaniel was hitting a couple bumps. Understandable, given his age. Daniel wished Anthony would join the team already, the two might’ve related more to each other than the older kids.

 

“When are we going to learn some flashy moves?” Nathaniel asked him.

 

“Miyagi-Do karate isn’t about flash,” instructed Daniel. “It’s about achieving balance, working towards inner peace. I’m guessing Sensei Lawrence didn’t have much to say about inner peace, huh?”

 

Nathaniel shrugged. “Just that it’s for pussies.”

Chapter Text

While they did pre-practice stretching, Miguel asked Aisha, “Been pretty intense since Sensei Kreese got here, huh?”

 

“A little, yeah.”

 

“Doesn't it seem like he’s kinda saying things different than what Sensei’s been teaching lately?”

 

Aisha shrugged.

 

Miguel shook his head. “Maybe it’s just me, but things have felt, I dunno, kinda off ever since he arrived. I mean, his stories don’t really add up, and then he gave Demetri a bloody nose.”

 

“Sensei said we could trust him, right?” Aisha pointed out with a reassuring smile. “C’mon, do you really think Sensei would bring someone dangerous into the dojo?”

Chapter Text

Sam had never withstood such a brutal quiet in her life. She waited for her dad to start yelling, but as they drove from Reseda Heights towards Encino, her father kept a tight silence, and an even tighter grip on the steering wheel.

 

“I’m sorry,” was all she could think to say. She was sorry, for more than she could ever tell him.

 

He shot a brief glance at her, before turning his attention back on the road.

 

She tried again. “Dad, what you said back there to Robby, you should know I -”

 

“Don’t start,” he said, cutting her off.

Chapter Text

Demetri was demoralized, sinking into his seat in the back of Sam’s car. Sitting beside him, Robby tried lifting his spirits. “Hey, don’t worry. I bet it’ll be a while before those assholes bother you again.”

 

“Maybe,” sighed Demetri.

 

“Especially that one with the stupid hair. If he comes for you again, just tell me. I’ll give him another black eye to match the one he just got.”

 

Demetri looked at him. “He was my friend. It’s Cobra Kai that’s made him into this aggro alpha jerk.”

 

“Yeah. That dojo seems to be making a lot of those,” noted Robby.

Chapter Text

The Cobras tried reassuring her, but Tory had too much anger - not to mention about ten shots worth of vodka - in her to be having it.

 

Losing to Sam made her want to push her into the pool. She couldn’t believe she embarrassed herself like that. It didn’t matter that she’d been distracted, and that’s why she fell off the stool. That wasn’t how that rich bitch would tell the story.

 

Blood rushed to Tory’s face. Her fists clenched as she walked into Moon’s house. The only consolation she had was that at least Miguel would be on her side.

Chapter Text

“Do you think they fry the French fries in animal fat?” asked Moon. Beside her, Hawk shrugged.

 

“Probably not,” answered Aisha. “Most restaurants fry things in vegetable oils. Why do you ask?”

 

“Oh, I’m a vegan.”

 

Aisha swore she heard Demetri mask a snort. “Well, then you’re probably not going to want any victory nachos, right?” she asked with a little laugh. “You should be okay with the fries, though.”

 

Moon looked at the menu again, but then shook her head. “I probably shouldn’t. It’s, like, over three-hundred calories.”

 

Aisha thought about making a comment but sipped her drink instead.

Chapter Text

"Make sure you practice your kata tonight," Daniel encouraged, following Demetri to the gate.

 

"Yeah, it's probably gonna have to wait," said his student. "I've been putting off writing my Solo review, gotta do it while it's still topical."

 

Laying on the Cool Dad voice, Daniel chided, "Hey now, don't you be criticizing my man Han Solo."

 

"You've heard of Star Wars?"

 

“Wow, Demetri, how old do you think I am?" asked Daniel incredulously. "I begged my mom to take me to Kmart to get a Vader figurine when The Empire Strikes Back came out."

 

Demetri blinked. "What's a Kmart?”

Chapter Text

There came a knock at the door. A blonde woman stood outside, her face embarrassed and pensive. “Hi, is this the LaRusso residence?”

 

Amanda nodded. “Yes, I’m Amanda LaRusso. Can I help you?”

 

“You’ve been trying to get in touch with me,” said the woman sheepishly. “I’m Shannon Keene. Robby’s mother.” She saw the shock widen Amanda’s eyes. “I guess you must think I’m the worst mother in the world.”

 

The thought had crossed Amanda’s mind, when she first heard she’d left Robby alone, but she’d never admit that out loud. Instead, she opened the door wider. “Please, come in.”

Chapter Text

“I guess Demetri was serious about quitting. And not just him, it looks like,” said Miguel, stepping up to Eli, eyeing the smaller class size that had showed up that day. “I tried telling him, Sensei can be a little in-your-face, but he’s just trying to toughen the class up. He doesn’t mean anything personal.”

 

Eli nodded once.

 

Miguel grinned, giving him a pat on the shoulder. “I’m glad you came back.”

 

Eli returned his smile, watching Miguel walk to take his spot next to Aisha.

 

“Okay everybody, fall in,” said Sensei Lawrence, stepping into the dojo. “Where is everyone?”

Chapter Text

Daniel could at least tell everyone that he passed peacefully in his sleep. Meanwhile, he held himself together like a man, handling the funeral arrangements himself like a son would for his father, because that’s what Mr. Miyagi had been to him.

 

When things quieted down, he drove back out to his grave marker. “I’m not sure how I’m gonna handle things without you,” he admitted, sitting on his knees. “But you said the bonsai chooses its own way to grow when the root is strong.”

 

Setting the bonsai tree down, he pulled his gardening tools out of his pocket.

Chapter Text

Carmen hated feeling helpless because she knew she was far from it.

 

She’d accomplished a lot through the sheer force of her will: she’d fled Ecuador to escape her husband’s enemies; she’d set up a new life in America for herself, her mother, and her son; she provided for them.

 

Yet she now found herself helpless regardless of a lifetime of herculean willpower. Because her son was on an ER table. The next twenty-four hours were the most critical of his life, and all Carmen could do was wait outside, with nothing but tears and prayer to power her through.

Chapter Text

Anthony didn't understand why his dad was stressing out so much. Ever since that new Sensei from Cobra Kai showed up and said the next phase of the war was on, his dad wouldn't stop obsessing over it.

 

"What's the big deal?" asked Anthony. "He challenged you. Just kick his ass, Dad. He's, like, eighty, you wouldn’t even have to break a sweat. He’d probably break his hip trying to kick you. It’d be an even easier win than it would’ve been with that other guy.”

 

His father ran his hands down his haggard face. "Just eat your pancakes, Anthony."

Chapter Text

“Have you heard anything new about Miguel?”

 

Hawk looked at her a second before going back to pre-class stretching. “No.” His answer made her gut clench. She didn’t really know what else she expected to hear.

 

Tory wished she could find the strength she needed to go to the hospital and check on him herself. But her mind filled with all the ways that would go wrong. What would Miguel’s mother say if she saw her? Would Miguel even want to see her?

 

“Don’t worry,” Hawk reassured her with an unsteady laugh. “He’ll be back here before you know it.”

Chapter Text

His plan was perfect: get hired at LaRusso Auto.

 

His crew would be happy; that place had tons of car parts ripe to steal. But that wasn’t the reason Robby couldn’t wait to put his plan in action.

 

All he could think about was what the look on his father’s face would be once he learned about this. His son, working for Daniel LaRusso.

 

Robby smiled, thinking about that look. He hoped it would hit his dad exactly where it hurt most. Right where it had hit Robby after seeing his dad pass down his gi to that other kid.

Chapter Text

He waited until the others left to ask. “Sensei?”

 

“What is it, Mr. Lawrence?” asked Sensei Kreese, putting the tombstones away.

 

Johnny clenched his fists. “Sensei, it’s my stepdad. He was yelling again last night.” Sensei Kreese turned around and looked at him. “It’s not me. It’s my mom. He made her cry. I just feel like I should do something.”

 

“She was probably upset by how it would affect you,” said Sensei Kreese, crossing his arms. “Show her it doesn’t get to you. Set the example. Be the man your mother needs you to be.”

 

Johnny nodded. “Yes, Sensei.”

Chapter Text

Xander tried helping her up, but Aisha threw his good sportsmanship in his face. “Eat shit, asshole!”

 

Sensei Lawrence and the Cobras offered words of encouragement to placate her from her loss, but Aisha wasn’t in the mood for them, either. She stormed out of the gymnasium and into the hallway to go and sulk on a bench alone.

 

She wanted so badly to win. Not just because she was the only girl there, although that was part of it. But if she’d won, if would’ve been the final punch to the face of her peers who’d given her grief.

Chapter Text

“I’m so sorry, Robby.”

 

“It’s okay, we just got to get you home.”

 

Sam’s head was swimming so bad, all she said was to not take her back to her parents. She was sober enough to know the kind of shit she’d be in with them, but too drunk to explain to Robby that wasn’t what she was sorry about.

 

How could she tell him she kissed Miguel? How could she do that to him? Even if she wasn’t hammered, how could she explain she hadn’t meant to?

 

She couldn’t. Because she had meant to. And she was so sorry.

Chapter Text

No one would hire him anymore. Bad sportsmanship. Teaches kids to fight dirty. A toxic influence. Out of touch. Banned from the All-Valley. All phrases they threw in his face.

 

The military already said they had no place for him. Unchecked post-traumatic stress. Difficulty acclimating to public life. Red flag after red flag. A liability. All of it horseshit. This was how his country repaid him?

 

Bills continued to pile up. Savings account started running out. Finally the eviction notice arrived at his door.

 

Nobody wanted him around.

 

The King Cobra decided perhaps it was time to go into brumation.

Chapter Text

The photographer snapped his shot of them feeding one another a piece of wedding cake. “There’s one for Ma’s scrapbook,” joked Daniel, blinking the flash out of his eyes, wiping some vanilla icing from the corner of his mouth with a napkin.

 

He couldn’t believe it, even as he was standing there in the middle of that reality. He was married. The intelligent, beautiful woman standing beside him was his wife.

 

Picking up his glass of champagne, he looked at Amanda and toasted, “To the woman I’ll be waking up to each morning, and meeting every night in my dreams.”

Chapter Text

“I won't be at practice tomorrow, Sensei.”

 

Sensei Kreese frowned. “I don’t like teaching students who don’t take their lessons seriously.”

 

“I do take them seriously, Sensei,” said Tory, taken aback by his response. “But it’s the roller rink where I work. My boss wants to talk.” She hesitated before confessing, “I’m worried. I think he’s going to fire me. For what happened at school. I really need this job.”

 

Sensei Kreese nodded. “Have Hawk catch you up on Monday then.” Tory bowed, turning to leave, when he added, “And remember: expect no mercy from this world.”

 

Tory bowed again.

Chapter Text

“You still like fried bologna sandwiches?” asked Johnny, sniffing the lunch meat to make sure it wasn’t spoiled.

 

From the couch, Robby scoffed. “I’ve never liked bologna.”

 

Johnny didn’t want to admit he had no clue what foods his ten-year-old son preferred to eat. “Well then just pick a place, we’ll get some fast food.”

 

Petulantly, Robby said, “Mom would know what to make me for lunch.”

 

“Yeah right, your mom probably has you living on cereal for all she cares,” he threw back.

 

Robby scowled. “Don’t you say that about her! Don’t you ever talk about her like that!”

Chapter Text

At twenty-two weeks, the doctor said he’d be born with a cleft lip.

 

The Moskowitzes spent the remaining time being bombarded with information from plastic surgeons, worrying about a million things, all the while wondering if they’d done something wrong.

 

As soon as he was born, the nurse held him back. “Let me hold him,” demanded Mrs. Moskowitz. They wanted to prepare her for it. She didn’t care.

 

Because when she took her son into her arms, seeing the gap on his upper lip, she knew how unimportant that was then. She looked at her husband and declared, “He’s adorable.”

Chapter Text

“My dad wouldn’t want us to just stand around like sitting ducks,” said Sam. “We all know it’s only a matter of time before those Cobra jerks make a move.”

 

Demetri sighed pessimistically. “Striking first is their modus operandi. But there’s not much we can do with the dojo closed.”

 

“My dad did most of Robby’s training outside of Miyagi-Do before the rest of you joined.”

 

“I’d like to point out that neither Mr. LaRusso nor Robby are around much right now,” said Demetri. “Unless you’re volunteering….”

 

Sam smiled. “Sensei Sam’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”

Chapter Text

He was getting stronger every day. The doctors said so. All the little actions were paying off, the simple stretches, lifting the small weights. Miguel could feel his muscles regaining their former sturdiness.

 

But healing took time.

 

Walking was the biggest challenge. Even after all the exercises to strengthen his core, he couldn’t last longer than a minute on the treadmill at a time.

 

An overwhelming feeling of failure would overcome him. Shame at having put his mother and grandma through this. Fear at not knowing if he’d ever be normal again.

 

And anxiety over his Sensei not being there.

Chapter Text

“It’s all my fault.”

 

Counselor Blatt frowned. “Why do you feel that way?”

 

Sam wrapped her hands over her arms, suddenly cold. How could she unload all her guilt onto the counselor? How could she explain her kissing Miguel had set everything off, that maybe if she’d been more honest with her feelings, none of this would’ve happened?

 

“I walked out of class to meet Tory,” she said instead.

 

“Proper protocol dictates you should’ve remained in the classroom. But you can’t blame yourself for the fight starting.”

 

Sam wiped a tear from her cheek, knowing this session was going nowhere.

Chapter Text

“It’s a lot,” said Counselor Blatt sympathetically. “Seeing that fight, and now your parents want to move from the county. I imagine it must be very upsetting.”

 

Aisha bit her lip. The counselor didn’t know the half of it.

 

She understood why her parents made such a hasty decision. They were looking out for her safety, for her future.

 

Would she hear if Miguel got better? She’d miss Sam and Tory both, despite all that happened. Sensei was awol, she’d probably never see him again.

 

Aisha didn’t want to cry, but how could she not? “Yeah,” she agreed. “It is.”

Chapter Text

“You did the right thing trying to get a teacher,” said Counselor Blatt.

 

Demetri shrugged. “Not like it did much good.”

 

“Teachers aren’t trained to handle a fight breaking out.” Then why was it good that he bothered trying? “But how are you feeling, Demetri?”

 

He almost laughed. He had to kick his best friend into a trophy case to get him to stop attacking. He’d watched as one friend kicked another off a flight of stairs. Mr. LaRusso closed Miyagi-Do, one of the few places that made him feel good about himself.

 

How was he feeling?

 

Demetri shrugged again.

Chapter Text

Mitch hated how fake Counselor Blatt’s attempts at relating came across, how overly saccharine her voice was.

 

“I hear you got hit pretty hard on the head,” she said sympathetically. “Are you feeling better?”

 

“Yeah.” A half-truth. “It’s no big.”

 

“Getting into a fight is big,” Counselor Blatt stressed, noticing his hands on the armrests. “And it’s alright if you’re shaken from it.”

 

Mitch forced his trembling hands to stop. Him, shaken? He was too badass to feel shaken.

 

Yeah, Cobra Kai had lost. They’d lost bad. But it was going to be alright. “I told you, it’s no big.”

Chapter Text

“I really don’t know how to feel about it,” admitted Chris.

 

Counselor Blatt assured him, “That’s understandable. At times like these, it’s normal to feel all sorts of things at once. Are you sad? Relieved? Upset?”

 

Chris sighed. “I don’t know. All of it, maybe? I mean, I tried not to fight, but I had to defend myself, right? But to tell you the truth, the thing that’s getting to me the most is Robby.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“I just keep wondering how he could do that.” And Chris wondered, if Robby had that in him, did all of them at Miyagi-Do?

Chapter Text

“Eli, this -”

 

“It’s Hawk.”

 

Counselor Blatt cleared her throat. “This counseling would be more helpful to you if you tried talking with me.”

 

Hawk glared at her and said nothing.

 

“I’m certain you must be feeling pretty bad, right?”

 

Still nothing.

 

“You were in the thick of all the fighting, weren’t you? Did you feel like you had to participate?”

 

More glaring.

 

“How about this, I hear you were with Miguel when the EMTs arrived to help him. Can you tell me how you were feeling right then?”

 

“Why?” demanded Hawk defensively. “So you can tell everyone about that, too?”

Chapter Text

Miguel looked down at the treadmill. Fifteen minutes in, and he was still running.

 

“You call that a workout, Diaz?”

 

Miguel grinned through his exhaustion as Sensei Lawrence stepped in front of the machine. Just having him around made the therapy fly by much faster. “I don’t know, I think I’m breaking a bit of a sweat, don’t you, Sensei?” he asked between breaths.

 

“Maybe I’ll ask the old lady who just ran past you,” retorted Johnny, but the corner of his mouth curved to show how impressed he really was. “Alright, give me ten more minutes, Diaz!”

 

“Yes, Sensei!”

Chapter Text

“Who are they?” asked Mitch.

 

Before Hawk could respond, Kreese told him, “Warm them up.” While his students obeyed, Kreese walked over to greet his guests. “It’s good to see you boys again,” he said, giving a hard grin to Bobby and Jimmy. “But I have a class now. We’ll have to catch up later.”

 

“We’re not here to catch up,” Jimmy argued.

 

“Had to see it for ourselves,” said Bobby. “Teaching a whole new generation of kids your old bullshit?”

 

Unruffled, Kreese said, “Door’s right behind you.” His smile widened as he turned around. “Tell Johnny I said hello.”

Chapter Text

Daniel looked at the plane ticket in his hand. He needed to get in the TSA line soon. Then he would have a thirteen-hour flight ahead of him before he landed in Okinawa.

 

“Guess I better get going,” he said.

 

Amanda still had that look on her face, the same one she’d had for days.

 

So much would be riding on this trip. Maybe even his marriage now.

 

“Well, while you go find yourself, I’ll make sure things with the kids and business run smoothly,” she said, straightening the lapel on his jacket. “Just be sure you do find yourself.”

Chapter Text

"But, Sensei, how could you just give everything up like that?”

 

Johnny knew he wouldn’t be able to make Miguel understand, not without sounding like some wangless loser. “John Kreese wanted Cobra Kai back. As far as I was concerned, he could have it.”

 

Miguel shook his head in disbelief. “But you built Cobra Kai, this Cobra Kai. You don’t think that’s worth fighting for?”

 

Hearing the kid call him out shamed Johnny. He should feel ashamed. He - no, both of them - had built that dojo from the ground up.

 

And he’d given it up. He was a wangless loser.

Chapter Text

“Girls are too intimidating, y’know?” remarked Mitch.

 

Hawk scoffed. “You’re Cobra Kai, act like it. All chicks wanna date a Cobra Kai. Watch.”

 

Sauntering up to a girl taking books from her locker, he smirked. “Hey, isn’t your dad that famous boxer?”

 

The girl’s brows pinched. “Uh, no.”

 

“My bad,” chuckled Hawk. “I thought he was, since you’re such a knockout and all.”

 

Before she could respond, a passing boy laughed. “Good try there, bedwetter!”

 

Hawk’s cheeks burned. The girl turned away.

 

Mitch looked like he wanted to say something, but Hawk cut him off. “Let’s just get to class.”

Chapter Text

More than one person had told her she had an attitude problem when it came to people wealthier than herself. But they misunderstood. Tory hated the system, but she didn’t hate people just because they had money. After all, Aisha was an Encino kid.

 

There was a difference between Aisha and Sam, though.

 

Sam didn't see any differentiation at all between swiping vodka from yuppies and stealing someone’s wallet. In her privileged mind, all theft was equal.

 

When Tory saw Sam, she saw that smugness, that disdain, that girl who had never gone a day without food in her life.

Chapter Text

Cobra Kai was offense-style karate. Sensei Lawrence always talked about how the best defense was more offense. Miguel agreed. Hawk really agreed. But Aisha’s style wasn’t as vicious as theirs.

 

Aisha also wasn’t looking to show off. She wanted the confidence to defend herself, that was all.

 

What she had in her favor was that she was a wall. She could block and repel better than anyone. She only hit when she saw the advantage to.

 

A Cobra left alone wasn’t a danger to anybody. But when Aisha did strike, she wanted to make her first bite the only one.

Chapter Text

Shannon was honest enough to admit she was far from the best mother. She’d made many mistakes raising Robby, some of them really bad.

 

Seeing him now in the juvenile detention center, however, the decision she regretted most was leaving him with the LaRussos; a decision she thought was good, a decision she’d made in Robby’s interests instead of her own.

 

“Don’t be mad at them, Mom,” said Robby.

 

But she was mad. “They kicked you out!”

 

“None of this is their fault. Mr. LaRusso was good to me.”

 

Shannon frowned, hard. “And where is he now?”

 

Robby couldn’t say.

Chapter Text

He never thought he’d get to dance with her again. Even after she allowed him back in Miguel’s life, Carmen had kept her distance. Johnny had understood.

 

It wasn’t a date. Just an outing between friends. An outing that now had Johnny wrapping his arms around Carmen, and her closing the space between them.

 

He wasn't a great dancer, especially with slow songs. But at that moment it was easy to think just maybe things were looking up.

 

I want to let you know; I heard the magic in our first hello; And I knew what I wanted the most.

Chapter Text

“Sensei Lawrence had a few words to say about mercy and honor, but those were the words of a man who’d never seen what his enemies were capable of.”

 

Hawk listened attentively.

 

“I fought wars so none of you would experience the shit I’ve seen. Kids carrying bombs. Civilians slitting your throats when you came to help them.”

 

“Sensei?”

 

Sensei Kreese looked at him. “But you’ve fought your own wars, haven’t you? You have the eyes of a soldier. People have hurt you. I can tell. Where was their honor?”

 

Hawk narrowed his eyes.

 

They’d had none. Why should he?

Chapter Text

"So how come Bebop didn’t come with you?”

 

Chris knitted his brows at Demetri’s question. “Bebop? You mean Mitch?”

 

“Whatever, yeah. I didn’t exactly catch his name when you guys were trying to pummel me at the mall.”

 

Chris wanted to say something defensive, but swallowed it down. He supposed Demetri’s dig was fair. “I think Mitch is looking for a way to feel strong and get respect from others, and thinks Cobra Kai will give him that. Self-validation isn’t enough. We’re not exactly the most popular guys, you feel me?”

 

Demetri gave a little nod. “Yeah, I feel you.”

Chapter Text

“Did you have fun with your friends tonight?” asked Carmen when Miguel walked through the door.

 

“Uh, yeah.” His expression didn’t match his words. He seemed dejected, distracted. He didn’t lift his eyes from his phone.

 

“Everything okay?” She’d thought perhaps that she would talk with him about her date with his Sensei. But it looked like too much was on his mind right then to bring it up.

 

Miguel finally looked at her. “Yeah, great. Um, by chance, did Tory call the house?”

 

Carmen shook her head. “No.”

 

“Okay.” Miguel sighed. “I’m pretty tired. Gonna go to bed. Night.”

Chapter Text

They’d known each other for so long, it didn’t feel right that things would end between them like that.

 

Aisha wanted to say, although Sam had really hurt her, she would still miss what they’d had.

 

But the Cobra in her said Sam needed to apologize first. She, after all, had started it.

 

Sam wanted to say she was sorry for causing a rift. Sorry for not making amends before forces beyond their control separated them.

 

But her LaRusso pride reminded her that Aisha fought for the Cobras during the school fight. She’d chosen her side.

 

Their phones remained silent.

Chapter Text

The alliance between Sensei Lawrence’s Cobra Kai and Mr. LaRusso’s Miyagi-Do didn’t have the sturdiest of bases; it may as well have been made from balsa wood.

 

The truce between the Senseis was uneasy enough. Things between their students was shakier still.

 

“Don’t get used to this,” Bert told Nathaniel. “Once this is over, you shitbreaths will still be wangless wimps.”

 

“Sure you’re with the right Cobra Kai, dickcheese?” said Nathaniel, unintimidated by Bert getting in his face. “Mr. LaRusso said you’re gonna do things our way.”

 

“Mr. LaRusso can eat a dick,” Bert retorted. “He’s used to it, right?”

Chapter Text

“Which sounds better?” asked Demetri. “‘Very unprofessional’ or ‘majorly unprofessional’?”

 

Sam shrugged. “Depends on context, I guess. What’s it for?”

 

“I’m leaving a review for Cobra Kai on Yelp. Nobody else would listen, so I’m leaving it to the court of public opinion. Can you believe one of the Senseis there assaulted me?”

 

“I’ll believe anything about Cobra Kai at this point.”

 

“Not the first time they haven’t respected student safety. Did I tell you how their other Sensei got my friend mauled by a dog? At least all your dad does is give me blisters from sanding the floor.”

Chapter Text

“Amanda still got you on the couch?”

 

Daniel couldn’t hide anything from his mother, even on Facetime. “Been practically camped here.”

 

Lucille frowned with worry. “You look tired, honey. Try to sleep better.”

 

“Sleep?” laughed Daniel. “Never met her.”

 

“I know this has been a rough time for you, both at home and your car business, but Sam, Anthony, and your students need you to be there for them right now. You have a responsibility to them, and that includes taking care of yourself,” stressed his mother.

 

“I don’t have students, Ma,” he argued, his voice morose. “Miyagi-Do’s closed, remember?”

Chapter Text

Tory had several opportunities to stop herself, from when she left her house until she got to school. She could’ve put a dam on the torrent of her anger. Even when she walked through the doors, that little voice told her, “Stop.”

 

But she ignored it.

 

She’d never set out to wrong anyone, yet she’d had to defend herself more times than she could count. Nothing ever came easy. Nothing could ever just be hers.

 

Someone was always trying to bring her down, to remind her of her place, to hurt her.

 

It was time she dished the hurt back.

Chapter Text

“Get a face tattoo. Or gouge your eye out. We’ll call you Patch, alright? No, don’t do that one, you’ll still look like a freak.”

 

Unable to take anymore, Eli raced out of the dojo, sniffling hard to not cry like a sissy.

 

This had been it, the last thing he could think of to get everyone to stop making fun of him. But even Sensei Lawrence thought he was worth mocking. Nothing was ever going to make them stop.

 

Wiping his eyes, Eli heard Sensei’s advice in his head: flip the script.

 

Give them something else to look at….

Chapter Text

“Oh, Daniel! Could we talk for a sec?” called out Anoush.

 

Rushing towards the door, phone at his ear, Daniel said, “Later, I promise.”

 

Anoush already heard that once. “But….”

 

“I promise,” repeated Daniel, walking out of the dealership.

 

Anoush crossed his arms and frowned. Where were his boss’s priorities lately? Mostly with his karate camp, it seemed. Bad enough Daniel moved him from the Encino location to North Hollywood. Worse still, he hadn’t replaced Louie, expecting Anoush to carry his workload too.

 

And to think, he’d ruined his favorite shoes stepping in shit on that billboard for this man?

Chapter Text

Carmen hadn't so much as taken three steps into the apartment when her mother got that sly grin on her face. “Oooh, someone was out late tonight,” she said cheekily. “You and Sensei hit the mats, or something?”

 

“We danced,” corrected Carmen, setting her purse down.

 

Is that what they’re calling it these days?” teased Rosa.

 

Unable to hide a smile, Carmen insisted, “Just dancing. We ran into the parents of Miguel’s old girlfriend. We all had a fun time together.”

 

Rosa raised an eyebrow. “So this Johnny might be a keeper after all?

 

Carmen’s smile curled higher. “Maybe so.”

Chapter Text

Amanda told him to let Johnny know Robby was with them. He was Robby’s father, he had the right to know where his son was.

 

Intellectually, Daniel agreed.

 

But as soon as he saw Kreese standing next to Johnny, it gave him all the excuse he needed.

 

He’d make a better father-figure for Robby than Johnny ever could. Would Robby really be safe with Johnny if he’d allow scum like Kreese to hang around?

 

Daniel had to look out for Robby’s interests.

 

And what of the kids in Cobra Kai? Shouldn’t their parents know about Kreese?

 

They weren’t his problem.

Chapter Text

It was the most positive attention he’d gotten from his peers in his life. He felt like a legend.

 

Other kids saw his fight with Hawk. They’d seen him deliver the epic kick that sent Hawk flying into the trophy case.

 

And they thought it was awesome.

 

Demetri would be lying if he didn’t admit he liked the pats on the shoulder he got in the hallways, the nods of respect from other guys who thought he was badass.

 

But then Eli would pass him, that furious look on his face, and all Demetri wanted to say was sorry again.

Chapter Text

She’d been at Valley Fest when she saw the spectacle Cobra Kai put on. What a stark difference from that previous show.

 

Cobra Kai showed more flash, more skill, more strength than Miyagi-Do. Tory couldn’t help but be impressed. They had one girl, she broke boards blindfolded. A boy with a mohawk split a board mid-air.

 

And Tory’s eyes lingered on another boy, who looked to be the most skilled among them. “That’s the All-Valley champ, right?” she heard from the crowd.

 

Their Sensei broke an enflamed cement block. Tory was sold. Maybe this Cobra Kai was worth checking out.

Chapter Text

He had a lot of time to think, so Robby did. He thought about his abilities, his temper, and what he was capable of.

 

He’d almost killed Miguel. He hadn’t meant to, that wasn’t his intention when he kicked Miguel off the railing.

 

But did intentions matter? He hurt someone, really bad. Training with Mr. LaRusso gave him power, but it was obvious he hadn’t absorbed the restraint that was tantamount to Miyagi-Do karate.

 

Sitting on his bunk, Robby closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. Tried to remember Mr. LaRusso’s words.

 

Balance, he reminded himself.

 

Try to find balance.

Chapter Text

Seeing the Instagram post, Aisha had a few seconds before the reality set in. Her insides dropped, and the laughter of her peers only made them sink harder.

 

She looked at Sam, standing next to Yasmine and Moon. Yasmine had that cruel smile on her face, but Aisha barely registered it as her eyes focused on her friend instead.

 

Sam stood there, shocked but unmoving.

 

Did Aisha expect Sam to turn to Yasmine and tell her off for what she did? Did she expect Sam to stand up for her?

 

She shouldn’t have held her breath, because Sam did nothing.

Chapter Text

If Louie thought Daniel might be calmer a couple days after the incident, he was sadly mistaken. “I mean, what the hell were you even thinking?” his cousin demanded.

 

Louie shrugged, and Daniel had to wonder if he fully grasped the magnitude of the shit he was in at the moment. “I think you’re blowin’ it out of proportion, cuz.”

 

“You lit a man’s car on fire, Louie!” exclaimed Daniel heatedly. “I think I’m blowing it up exactly in proportion!”

 

“Technically I wasn’t the one who set the car on fire,” Louie retorted.

 

“Well I’m setting this one. You’re fired.”

Chapter Text

Johnny drove towards the hospital, still woozy from his three-day bender. Shannon was in labor.

 

But his thoughts weren’t on her. His mother monopolized them.

 

He made it to the parking lot next door before he almost lost himself again. She was gone. He was lost without her. How was he supposed to be a father without her guidance?

 

“I’m sorry, Mom,” he said. Sorry for not being a better son. Sorry for all the mistakes he was about to make. “I’m so, so sorry.”

 

He got out of the car and stumbled into the diner to find his courage.

Chapter Text

School was threatening to expel her. Tory didn’t want to admit she was scared.

 

Her mother was beside herself. Her girlfriends weren’t returning her calls. Tory didn’t know who else to turn to but her Sensei.

 

“It feels like the whole world is against you right now, doesn’t it?” remarked Sensei Kreese. “But you’ll survive it. You’re as tough as any boy, aren’t you?”

 

She reminded herself he meant it as a compliment. “Yes, Sensei.”

 

“Don’t forget, those boys out there are your brothers. You aren’t alone here. You are all Cobra Kai, and you are all in this together.”

Chapter Text

“Guess no pancakes till Dad’s back,” observed Anthony, grabbing cereal instead.

 

Across the table, Sam scoffed. “Yeah, you’re really gonna have to suffer.”

 

Anthony’s face pinched. “Geez, who peed in your cheerios?”

 

“Are you telling me it doesn’t bother you at all, Dad flying off to Okinawa like that, leaving us here?”

 

“Well, it would’ve been pretty cool to get out of school for a while.”

 

Sam scoffed again. She couldn’t believe he’d take a trip at a time like this. All she wanted was a little stability since the brawl. Now she didn’t have her dojo or her father.

Chapter Text

Demetri thought quitting Cobra Kai had been a good idea. He didn’t realize he’d be left out because of it.

 

He looked away for a second. Suddenly Eli was sporting a mohawk and an assertive attitude. All he and Miguel ever wanted to talk about was Cobra Kai.

 

At first Demetri was content to leave them to their sport and return to his comics and video games.

 

But Eli didn’t want anything more to do with that stuff. And Miguel was obsessing over some tournament.

 

“I knew them boosting their confidence would only lead to trouble,” he muttered to himself.

Chapter Text

“So what are you in for?”

 

Robby didn't answer. He just sat silently, arms crossed over his chest.

 

His cellmate raised an eyebrow. “No point having a bug up your ass. We're all in here for something. Vandalism, stealing, drugs, you name it. But it’s not like we’re in hardcore prison. I know the guards think we’re all thugs, but most here are nonviolent offenders.”

 

Robby sighed. Why’d he have to be bunked with a chatterbox?

 

“So since we’re all on the same playing field, what are you in for?”

 

Narrowing his eyes, Robby muttered, “I almost killed a guy.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, don’t be shit-talking my kids in front of your students.”

 

Daniel let out a breathy, exasperated laugh. “Last I checked, they’re Kreese’s kids. Isn’t that the whole reason you’re here?”

 

Johnny's fists clenched. He was sick of LaRusso throwing that in his face. “Yeah ‘cause here I thought you’d actually help. But you’re talking about my kids being rotten to the core and ordering your dojo to kick their asses. Some help.”

 

“If you’d actually been listening….”

 

“I heard plenty. Do you know what Kreese is gonna do if they lose?”

 

Daniel frowned. “And whose fault is that, Johnny?”

Chapter Text

Ten minutes and still no reply to her last text.

 

Aisha tried again: Tory just tell me what’s going on

 

She hit send and laid back in her bed.

 

Everything had happened so fast and now had come to a screeching halt; she felt like she had whiplash. Miguel was in the hospital. When she’d texted Sam and Hawk, neither knew what his condition was.

 

Next Aisha tried Tory. She had a million questions for her.

 

Why did she start the fight?

 

Did Sensei Lawrence really go awol?

 

Why wasn’t she talking to her?

 

Another ten minutes passed. No response.

Chapter Text

“Does it ever, like, really piss you off what Robby did?”

 

Sam looked beside her at Demetri. At those words, she’d expected to hear anger to the inflection of his voice. But while his tone was hard, it wasn’t vexed; he sounded morose, more than anything. “I was at first,” she confessed.

 

Sighing, Demetri tapped his pen against his notebook. “Just when I thought I had this karate stuff figured out, Robby goes and pulls a page out of the Cobra Kai manual.”

 

Sam said nothing, not wanting to tell Demetri she blamed herself for what happened more than Robby.

Chapter Text

Robby’s eyes scanned the trophies and pictures Mr. LaRusso had on display in the makeshift dojo he’d set up in his spare room. Seeing a photo of Mr. LaRusso with an elderly man, he asked, “So is this him?”

 

Daniel took hold of the frame and smiled. “Yeah, that’s Mr. Miyagi. Taught me a lot of very important things in my life, and not just about karate. Without him, I’d be a different man than I am today.”

 

“Like about trimming bonsais?” asked Robby.

 

Daniel laughed under his breath. “Yeah. He had a thing or two to say about gardening.”

Chapter Text

She told him to make a move. So he did.

 

And suddenly they were kissing.

 

Miguel wasn’t sure if they were moving things too fast. After all, he’d only known Tory for a few days. What did he really know about the girl?

 

She was a Cobra. She’d taken kickboxing lessons. She liked ice-cream brownies. She didn’t like desperate guys. She enjoyed watching airplanes take off at night.

 

She wasn’t Sam.

 

Was that enough? Was that enough to know about someone to start kissing them?

 

At that moment, alone with her in the middle of that playground, Miguel didn’t care.

 

Chapter Text

Aisha had been pushing a Miyagi-Do student away when it happened. The fight came to a complete standstill. It was like someone had hit the “stop” button.

 

Everyone crowded the railing at the stairs. She saw someone run. Was that Robby?

 

Aisha looked over the railing. A gasp parted her lips as soon as she spotted Miguel, lying motionless at the bottom of the stairs, crowded by Sam and Hawk. EMTs were making their way to the scene.

 

“What happened?” she breathed. But the blood pounded in her ears so loudly that if someone did answer, she didn’t hear them.

Chapter Text

As soon as he saw Dobby die in Harry’s arms, Eli began to cry.

 

Demetri continued watching the movie. But when Eli broke down in sobs, Demetri saw the other movie-goers’ heads turn in their direction.

 

He whispered, “Hey, it’s okay.”

 

But it wasn’t okay, thought Eli. All Dobby wanted was to be a free elf. It wasn’t fair that he died.

 

When Eli’s crying didn’t stop, Demetri whispered again, “Everybody’s looking.”

 

That got his attention. Eli saw the eyes in the dark staring at him. Covering his face, he sunk into his seat, ashamed at being such a softie.

Chapter Text

“You’ve known Miguel longer,” observed Tory. “Anything I should know about him?”

 

“What, worried you’re secretly dating a weirdo or something?” joked Aisha. “Don’t worry, Miguel’s chill. Most of the time. I mean, between you and me, he can be a little needy, but really it’s not that bad.”

 

“Oh like that project he was working on at the restaurant?” laughed Tory. She didn’t want to admit she’d found his romanticism charming, up until she saw whose affections he was trying to win back.

 

“Yeah, Miguel’s been pretty desperate since he got dumped,” said Aisha. “But he’s a good guy.”

Chapter Text

Some nights, it felt like her little red envelopes were the only things that would get him through his stay in Vietnam. Until he received her last one.

 

Dear John….

 

How appropriate.

 

…I’ve tried to be understanding…

 

…you’re not sounding like yourself lately…

 

…angry…paranoid…aggressive…

 

…what this war has been doing to you…

 

…I still care…part of me that will always love you…

 

…But it has to end.

 

She even signed it, Love Betsy.

 

Kreese considered tearing the letter up. But instead he folded it into its red envelope, and stuffed it in the tin with the others.

Chapter Text

“I didn't do it.”

 

Tory glanced at Mitch, who’d stepped out of the boy’s changing room. “What?” she asked, annoyed he was keeping her from heading into the back of the dojo for some extra practice.

 

“You said you thought it was me who wrecked Miyagi-Do,” clarified Mitch. “I’m just telling you I didn’t do it. I’m no vandal.”

 

She wasn’t sure she believed him. But Tory remembered what Sensei Kreese told them that day. “I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it?”

 

Mitch’s brows furrowed. “Maybe not. But, just for the record, it wasn’t me.”

 

Tory nodded. “Alright.”

Chapter Text

Kreese had been listening while Stingray blathered on about the situation he found himself in since the school fight.

 

“And the police didn’t really understand about how there’s this war between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do,” explained Stingray. “So not only did I not get the job, but my parole says I’m not allowed to be in the vicinity of kids for a while.”

 

Great. Now this bumbling man-child was a liability.

 

Kreese had had plans for putting Stingray to use. This put a halt to those.

 

Oh well. No big loss. Kids’ minds were easier to shape than adults’ anyway.

Chapter Text

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it last night,” remarked Mitch as they warmed up.

 

Hawk frowned. “Then stop thinking, period.”

 

“I feel bad about lying to the others. Doesn’t it bother you, the dojo having to do all those burpees yesterday?”

 

Of course it bothered him. Hawk hadn’t wanted to get his friends in trouble. Even when Sensei Kreese told him to stay quiet, guilt pulled at his insides. What would the others think now if they learned the truth after suffering that punishment because of him?

 

Rather than answer Mitch’s question, Hawk told him, “Go warm up somewhere else.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, mind if I ask a question?”

 

Miguel peered up at Chris and nodded. “Sure, go for it.”

 

“Does it ever, I don’t know, let up in here?” asked Chris.

 

That made Miguel’s brows pinch. “What do you mean?”

 

Chris thought about voicing his concerns about the way he and Mitch were being treated. He could understand a little ribbing, but it felt like it was crossing the line into mean-spiritedness.

 

But then he remembered it was Miguel who gave him the nickname Douchebag. His complaint would fall on deaf ears, wouldn’t it?

 

“Nothing,” he said instead. “Forget I asked.”

Chapter Text

It killed Johnny to see Robby in juvie. It represented all of his utter failings as a father. He’d hoped Robby would turn out better than him. But what was hope without action?

 

He should’ve paid closer attention to the path Robby’d been walking, rather than trust LaRusso with him.

 

He wanted to say he was sorry. Of course he was. But Robby had heard that a million times before, hadn’t he? What did that word mean to him anymore?

 

It must’ve still meant something, because Robby said it first. “I’m sorry, Dad. About Miguel.”

 

Johnny’s voice cracked. “I know.”

Chapter Text

Aisha had come to like Moon well enough, but sometimes she wondered whether or not she put much deep thought into the things she did.

 

The party had started off pretty fun, but then things got tense as soon as Miyagi-Do showed up. It wasn’t that Aisha completely protested their presence or anything; it was Moon’s party, she could invite whomever she wanted.

 

But Aisha could read a room.

 

Two rival dojos at a party serving alcohol?

 

“Looks like you invited everyone, huh?” she commented to Moon, putting chips on her plate.

 

Moon smiled. “Of course. We’re all friends, right?”

Chapter Text

“What’s the big deal if that guy’s got a kid?” remarked Demetri. “What’s it to you or Eli?”

 

Miguel continued staring at the ocean, mind still preoccupied with finding that picture on his Sensei’s fridge.

 

Demetri kept going. “So your Sensei’s got some Reality Show drama going on. Doesn’t have to be your drama.”

 

“Yeah,” sighed Miguel. Demetri didn’t understand. This was the fitting puzzle piece that explained why Sensei Lawrence got so upset with him and Hawk for what happened at the Tournament.

 

It was also the piece of a whole new puzzle, the puzzle of Sensei’s private life.

Chapter Text

“After everything I did for you?”

 

Hawk could still hear Sensei Lawrence’s question ringing in his ears. The longer he thought about it, the angrier he got.

 

But behind the Hawk mask, it was Eli whose fury burned hottest. Eli, the loser who’d flipped the script at Sensei’s suggestion. The nerd who shed his loser skin in order to become badass, which was the only thing that mattered. The pussy who, under Sensei’s heedless guidance, did everything to change who he was and still wasn’t happy.

 

After everything Sensei Lawrence did for him? Eli would tell him to eat shit.

Chapter Text

Demetri’s cheeks blanched when he saw Robby kick Miguel over the rail. He walked zombie-like over to the stairs. He didn’t want to look down. As long as he didn’t look down, it wouldn’t be as bad as he thought, right?

 

But then, that wasn’t how Demetri’s mind operated. He was too much of a pessimist not to jump to the worst possible conclusion. And his defeatism did not disappoint him.

 

He steeled himself and looked down, and his mouth dropped in shock.

 

“Robby, what did you do?” called out Sam’s voice. That was the question on Demetri’s mind, too.

Chapter Text

“I’m kinda surprised you invited your ex to the party,” commented Piper. “Isn’t that, y’know, awkward?”

 

Moon glanced over at Hawk. “It wasn’t a messy breakup,” she tried explaining. “I want him to know there’s no hard feelings.”

 

Piper smiled at her peacekeeping measure, but pointed out, “Still, looked like he was a little blindsided by us there.”

 

“Oh it’s not because I’m ashamed of us or anything,” said Moon. That was a half-truth. She wasn’t ashamed to be with Piper, but there was a little piece of Moon that was glad to show Hawk she’d moved on from him.

Chapter Text

Johnny knew he’d sat on his ass long enough. Time for the Cobra to strike. His remaining student had stressed that.

 

“The others still need you, Sensei,” Miguel told him. “I know they do. They’ve just been lost.”

 

With Kreese leading them, Johnny didn’t doubt that. “I’ll need to get the dojo back first.”

 

“But, Sensei, your students are the dojo, right?”

 

Johnny was going to specify he meant the building, and his lease, but when Miguel gave him that corny smile, he thought about how great it would feel for Kreese to one day walk into an empty dojo.

Chapter Text

Demetri knew he didn’t lead the most glamorous life. He understood why he wasn’t popular, why his peers didn’t gravitate towards him. He also knew some of that was in his control.

 

Sure, he could give up his geeky pursuits in the hopes of gaining a few popularity points. But to Demetri, those nerdy interests made him who he was. They made him at least a little happy.

 

He’d tried telling Eli over and over, the problem wasn’t with them. The problem was how others treated them.

 

Losing that part of themselves to make them stop wasn’t worth the sacrifice.

Chapter Text

Hawk saw him in the parking lot. What was he doing here?

 

He wondered whether he should run and tell Sensei Kreese, but Sensei Lawrence spoke up first. “Hawk, we gotta talk.”

 

“Why?” He caught himself before calling him Sensei.

 

“I don’t know what Kreese has been telling you guys the past few months, but you can’t trust anything he says.”

 

What sort of trick was this? Hawk turned away.

 

Sensei Lawrence called out, “I’m just trying to look out for you.”

 

Hawk stopped. Since when? he wanted to ask. Instead, he ignored Sensei Lawrence and walked into Cobra Kai.

Chapter Text

Kyler hadn't been there to see it happen, but he heard all about it; the school wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks, it even made the news.

 

Wild to think Miguel would be taken down like that. They said he’d live, but it would be months before he was back at school.

 

Lots of time for Kyler to re-establish his place as top dog again. Without Miguel around, nobody was a threat to him.

 

He couldn’t help but feel some Schadenfreude after the way Miguel kicked his ass in the cafeteria. About time someone took him down a peg.

Chapter Text

Jimmy handed him a cup of black coffee to help with the hangover. “Your trust in Kreese was misplaced,” he went on, “but it came from a good place.”

 

“Although even then, I question your judgement in giving him a key to your dojo,” commented Bobby.

 

Johnny gave a half-nod to concede his point.

 

Seeing the look Jimmy shot at him, however, Bobby backed down. “But what happened happened. Time to focus on the now.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” mumbled Johnny, taking a drink of his coffee.

 

Bobby’s critical frown curled into a sharp smile. “What do you need from us?”

Chapter Text

Not only were they pulling her from Cobra Kai, they were pulling out of the Valley entirely. She couldn’t change their minds.

 

The situation with the school fight could ruin her future, they stressed. Did she expect to get into a good college if her reputation got ruined?

 

Before, her mom and dad praised Cobra Kai for toughening her up. Now they acted like letting her sign up had been the worst decision they ever made.

 

She wanted to tell them they could move from the Valley, but at the end of the day she’d always be a natural Cobra.

Chapter Text

He wasn’t sure when he started noticing her.

 

That wasn’t entirely true, Johnny’s eyes were always scoping for hot babes.

 

But that was different. What he didn’t know was when he really noticed her dark eyes, her coy smile, and when those observations turned into fantasies that made his dreams pleasant places to be.

 

It had been some time since he’d gone steady with a chick. Johnny had to wonder if he could shape up to win someone like Carmen.

 

Of course he could. He was Cobra Kai, he was alpha, all he had to do was make a move.

Chapter Text

Hawk laid on his bed, fidgeting with the medal of honor hanging on the necklace around his neck.

 

He told himself not to think about her. If he didn’t, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

 

But how could he not?

 

Moon acted like she’d wanted a bad boy all that time. But she’d checked out as soon as Hawk showed he wasn’t all talk.

 

She didn’t want him when he was a sissy. She didn’t want him as an alpha. She didn’t know what she wanted; except not him, apparently.

 

“Her loss,” he tried convincing himself, rubbing at his eye.

Chapter Text

Of all people to see standing outside his apartment when he drove up, Johnny never guessed it would be Little Miss Hotshot.

 

“Sensei Lawrence,” Tory addressed him. She paused for a moment, but found her words. “Miguel says you’re putting the old Cobra Kai back together.”

 

Johnny could tell she was afraid he’d turn her away, tell her to go back to Kreese. But he knew his old Sensei must’ve said or done something for Tory to be here.

 

A reassuring smile lit up his face. “The old Cobra Kai? Nah. But Johnny Lawrence’s new Cobra Kai’s looking for students.”