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Someone great once said ‘to each their own’ — and Kaoru has actively lived by that.

 

In comparison to his world of traditionality, Sia la Luce is a brick in his house of glass. This place is nothing of the life he lives – and while Kaoru would never say it out loud – he kind of likes it. 

“No!” Langa gasps, full of all that teenage wonder Kaoru gave up long ago. “That’s possible?”

Reki is always sharing space with that boy. Cheeks squished together, bent half over the bar and pointing at his phone. He smiles so much, Kaoru wonders how his face doesn’t ache.

“Barely! As far as I know, that trick has only been done by like, seven people max. Tony Hawk changed the entire scene back at that x-games in ninety-nine.”

“But they gave him a dozen chances,” Miya huffs. He grows flustered suddenly, pointing at the game he’s teaching Higa to play. “Hey, hey! You don’t have to press the buttons so damn hard.”

“I keep dying!” Higa cries.

“We should try it,” Langa says.

Reki looks at him in genuine amazement, “Dying?”

No. The nine hundred.”

They get this wild look in their eyes that makes Kaoru tired just from watching. They begin to scarf down their food, and Kojirou has a fit.

“Hey, hey! At least taste it, damn you.”

Reki and Langa slow down considerably, but they become engrossed in their videos again. Kaoru sighs, and twirls his fork in the pasta.

“Children.”

Kojirou cracks a smile at him, and wipes his hands on his bar towel. For all the flaws of this brute, he keeps his kitchen immaculate. It’s long past closing, and he’s already begun to pop off the buttons of his chef’s jacket, like his tolerance to clothing has a time limit.

“If we had smartphones in high school, we woulda’ been just like them. Don’t even try to pretend.”

Kaoru hums. He pulls his hair behind an ear, and makes a point of drinking from his cup slowly.

“I doubt it. You’ve always been stuck in your primitive ways.”

“Oh don’t you start – sorry I prefer use my own two feet instead of cheapskating with some iron man robo-board.”

Kaoru rolls his eyes, but doesn’t let Kojirou see him smile.

“I don’t care if you choose to yaba-daba-do through the streets for the rest of your life. A caveman will always be a caveman.”

Kojirou actually cackles at that, like he had a retort, but gave up half way.

“I swear, the things that come out of your mouth. The public would be mortified, sweetheart.”

“Ugh, puke,” Kaoru drawls. He looks out of the corner of his eye, and sees Langa and Reki scarfing down the rest of their food again. They really are spoiled – Sia la Luce is rather upscale, moreso than what some snot-nosed seventeen-year-olds would typically be eating.

“We’re gonna’ head out!” Reki says, grabbing Langa by the hand. Well – it might’ve been the other way around. Kaoru isn’t quite sure. “Thank you for the meal!”

“Yes, thank you Joe,” Langa says, much softer.

Kojirou waves them off with a dismissive flick of his hand.

“Don’t crack your heads open.”

“We’ll try!”

The door chimes, and Kojirou locks it behind them. Kaoru notices then, that Higa and Miya left too. Kaoru looks into the top of his cocktail, and secretly wishes for sake.

“This was unusually kind of you,” Kaoru comments. Kojirou hums, and swipes their dirty plates off the bar.

“They remind me of – well. Us, I guess.”

The restaurant is quiet now. Kojirou long shut off the back lighting, so it’s only the gentle glow of the bar. Kaoru makes no move to hurry, sipping slow from his drink as Kojirou scrubs dishes.

His hands are big. Marked up, well used. A little agitated from the bar rot, and very calloused from their days at the S.

“We’re nothing like them,” Kaoru mumbles. And everything he adds, unsaid.

“Well, sure. They’re two peas in a pod. You and I…”

“Half-wit.”

“Stuck-up,” Kojirou shoots back, then grins. “Yeah. But I meant ‘bout skating. They’re how we used to be.”

Kaoru raises an eyebrow.

“Like we don’t skate anymore?”

Kojirou goes quiet. He polishes a glass cup with more concentration than he usually spares.

“Not how we used to.”

Kaoru swirls his drink. The pinkish liquid rattles in the ice.

“We grew up.”

Kojirou laughs through his nose, setting aside the cup and closing the cabinet.

“That’s debatable.”

“For you, neanderthal.”

“You haven’t skated since your beef with Adam, have you?” Kojirou says, and Kaoru feels that brick fly right through his glass house. It shatters in him.

He refuses to look Kojirou in the eye. Instead, Kaoru traces the scar along his cheek. His perfect face is now marred forever, the final blow in a friendship that wasn’t meant to last – as much as he secretly hoped it would.

“The doctors administered bedrest,” Kaoru says slowly.

Kojirou blows him off. The big brute that he is – he just combs through his mossy hair and throws more stones in his face.

“But that was weeks ago.” Kojirou leans around the bar like he’s trying to get a better look, and Kaoru snarls right back at him. “You don’t even have your stitches anymore – c’mon, quit acting like such a princess. Let’s go skate.”

Kaoru’s face falls blank in surprise. He looks around the bar, empty, dark and late.

“Now?”

“No tomorrow,” Kojirou rolls his eyes. He hangs up his towel and sheds his chef’s coat. “Of course now, dumbass.”

Kaoru internally scrambles, though he doesn’t budge from the barstool.

“Not everyone can just – drop their life and go skate, Joe.”

“If you had plans, you’d already be doing them,” Kojirou grins. Kaoru scowls back.

“I didn’t bring Carla.”

“Well, you’re in luck,” Kojirou opens the cleaning closet, and pulls out a second skateboard. “I’ve got a spare.”

Kaoru gives him an unimpressed look.

“You keep that here?”

“Why not?”

“You’re pathetic.”

“That’s not how you pronounce prepared,” Kojirou grins, shoving the board into his chest. Kaoru steps off the barstool, and examines the skateboard with a critical eye. “Come on, don’t gimmie’ that look. I know you can damn well skate on a normal board.”

It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of…when. Shit, it’s probably been years, by now. Kaoru has been working on Carla for so long, once he saw a matter of technological improvements in his skating, he never turned back.

But all that wasn’t enough. In the end, Adam was just too far from his reach. High tech boards, or not.

Kaoru flicks one of the wheels with his finger. It’s just a normal board. Normal axel, normal wheels.

“Why are we doing this?” Kaoru mutters.

Kojirou shuts the door behind him, and locks it with the key from his pocket.

“Because you’re an old nag who hasn’t known fun if it died in your bed.” Kaoru scoffs at him, but Kojirou continues with a faraway look in his eye. “I think…I’d strayed too far, in the end. Those damn kids…”

“What are you on about?”

“Nothin’. Come on, I know a place.”

Kojirou lays down his board, and Kaoru scrambles to follow. It feels weird under his foot, with a different balance and weight from Carla. But as he pushes off, it’s an old hat. An instinct that’s easy to follow.

“Wh – you fool – we’re going to skate our way there?”

Kojirou is shrugging on a short sleeve shirt as he skates down the block, turning over his shoulder to beckon Kaoru after him.

“We used to skate everywhere, cinnamon stick.”

“Because we weren’t old enough to drive!” Kaoru bickers back. But he keeps side by side with Kojirou as they weave in and out of obstacles on the sidewalk. Trash cans, benches, lamp posts.

The sun is down, and with the rush hour gone, there’s barely any traffic on the road. His hair flies behind him in wisps, and he eats half of it before flipping it over his shoulder.

“It’s not far,” Kojirou says, and then skids off around the corner. The wind blows his shirt off his back, still unbuttoned as it ever is, and Kaoru can hear him cackle as the hill starts to slope, and their speed rises. It’s an effortless laugh – the kind that reminds him of back alleys and skipping school with their friends.

Kaoru only follows out of sheer curiosity. That’s all.

 

 

 

 

Kojirou takes them beyond the neighboring district, down an industrial alley, and into an old abandoned community center.

“It’s due for demolition in a few weeks,” Kojirou explains. He kicks his board into his hand, and Kaoru does the same. “I heard they drained the pools already, so I thought I’d check it out before telling the kids.”

Kaoru raises an eyebrow above his glasses.

“Check it out?”

Kojirou scoffs, and walks up the stairs.

“What? I’m nothing but a good and ethical role model.”

“For a troop of apes, maybe.”

Kojirou peels back one of the boarded windows with ease. The nails rip right off, like butter under his strength.

“You scared?”

Kaoru gives him the flattest look he can muster, before stepping foot in the window before him.

They practically grew up in old warehouses. On beach streets, hand rails, and drained pools in the winter. Neither of them was born into good money, but they both made names out of themselves – and yet they’re still here. Breaking in windows to skate where they shouldn’t.

“Ah, gotta’ love that mothball smell,” Kojirou sighs. “You ready?”

“For what?”

“To have fun!” Kojirou grins, and takes off.

The community center is – well. Rather dangerous, if you looked at it from a professional standpoint – but a topical wonderland for their types. The building has abandoned ramps, drained indoor pools, and staircases with handrails leading up to a balcony second floor.

He wants to ask Carla about angles. To have her calculate the depth of the pool, the rise in the ceiling – how far can I go? What are my limits? How much can I push?

Will the board break?

Will I?

“Stop overthinking it!” Kojirou calls. He gets some speed through the flat concrete, and drops right into the bowl. “You already know the answer.”

His jaw aches. When Kaoru sleeps at night, he can still see Adam swinging that board right at his face. Cracking him over the cheek, and standing over his body like he was nothing but a failure.

And he was.

Kaoru rocks the board back and forth with his foot, staring into nothing. He knows things are different now, but the memory burns at the forefront of his mind.

Kojirou appears again. This time, oddly serious, and closer than normal.

“Cherry. Come on.”

Kojirou is tall. Always been tall, always will be. Kaoru never liked looking up at him. He was quite delighted when he sprung up a few inches – but he never closed the gap.

The warehouse is pin silent. Kaoru has traveled the world with this man. Lived out a hundred lives, only to end up where they began.

“Fun…” Kaoru rocks the board. Front, back. “Is that something we can still spare to have?”

To his embarrassment, Kaoru is shocked still when Kojirou reaches forwards to tuck his hair behind his ear. His body freezes to the floor, eyes wide as Kojirou’s clumsy fingers brush against his still healing scar.

“I’d say it’s all we have left,” Kojirou replies.

Their voices echo off the walls around them. Most of the ceiling is missing, and it brings in moonlight and deep shadows.

Kaoru puts his weight on the board, and Kojirou grins like a goofball.

“That’s it, four-eyes. Ain’t nothing to win, here.”

“No,” Kaoru ties back his hair. “I’ll race you to the pool.”

All those questions. All the things he’d ask Carla. All those walls.

Kojirou skates into the bowl, and Kaoru just – knows.

It’s muscle memory. The trajectory of the pool, how high he can kickflip, how much speed to put on a turn.

Kojirou shreds down the stairwell, and his laugh ricochets off the walls like a gunshot. Kaoru goes right after him, floating weightlessly and hitting the turn much smoother. They pass each other. Drop into the bowl, ollie and back.

They’re opposites in every way. Always have been, probably always will be. Kojirou –

 Joe.

He rides rough and heavy, and Kaoru knows his style from the inside out. His body can take high risks and hard falls. A dumb mammoth of a man, but –

Kojirou gets some speed on the pool, and calls out, “Hey, remember what the kids were talking about?”

Kaoru feels his temple throb.

“You’ll fall.”

Kojirou tries the nine hundred, and eats it at about seven and a half. He tumbles to the bottom of the pool and laughs. Kaoru snorts at him, not with.

“You’re a bigger moron than I thought.”

But just as brave as he knows.

“Ah, that hurt,” Kojirou smiles.

Kaoru skates past him in the bowl. Flips, and comes circling around the rim.

“Well? Let’s see it again.”

 

 

 

They skate until their joints hurt. Until Kaoru’s hair is sticky at his nape, and Kojirou is nursing new bruises. But at the end of it, Kaoru thinks he…well. It wasn’t terrible, he supposes.

It’s been so long since they’ve skated like this. Not at the S, not with the kids, and not undercover.

Just them. For the sake of it.

Kaoru is foolish enough to glance over, and watch Kojirou wipe his forehead with the end of his tacky striped shirt. Kaoru feels the desire to shed some of the layers off his yukata, but he refuses out of principle.

They end up on that second floor, their legs dangling off the edge of the deck, where the railing has long rotted off. It’s dangerous in a refreshing way.

Kojirou elbows him, and Kaoru bristles.

“What?”

“Feels nostalgic, doesn’t it?”

Kaoru looks at their skid marks across the pool. The dark spot on one of the walls, that Kaoru hit with his wheel. Another sizable dent at the rail, from Kojirou’s foot.

“Is that what you’re chasing? Nostalgia?” Kaoru traces this crappy board Kojirou has leant him. So plain, and normal; it reminds him of the first board he once spent all summer saving for. “Naturally simpleminded of you.”

“Nah,” Kojirou laughs. The hair at his ears is damp, and now curling as it dries. Kaoru gets a strange urge to wrap his finger around it and tug. Kojirou turns, however, and leans to peer over the edge. It’s a twenty-foot drop, likely. Carla would know. “I guess those kids just got me thinking.”

“They’ve made you sentimental,” Kaoru rolls his eyes. “Like a thick old man.”

You’re the one acting like an old man,” Kojirou bickers back. “I mean, look at you all these weeks. You take a fall off the horse and don’t bother getting back on? It’s unlike you.”

Kaoru goes tense. He draws into himself, and looks away. His glasses are fogging from his body heat, so he slips them off and into his pocket.

“That’s…different. Don’t talk of what you know nothing about.”

“I know everything about it,” Kojirou says, but relents. He scratches through his hair, and looks up at the hole in the roof, where the moon is so conveniently hovered above. “Do you still smoke?”

“Of course not,” Kaoru frowns. He extends a hand, “Give it here.”

Kojirou laughs. He slides a lighter from his pocket – silver, and scratched. Old, like it’s been rattling around with his keys for a while. He passes Kaoru a cigarette first, before lighting his own. The smell is comforting, as much as it shouldn’t be.

“It was Adam that got us hooked, if you remember.”

Kaoru lets the smoke pool out of his mouth, and then puffs it at once.

“Like I’d forgotten.”

Kojirou’s face gets tight and pained, though indistinguishable to anyone else. It’s subtle; in the clench in his jaw, and his narrowed eyes.

“That man became a monster.”

Kaoru rolls the cigarette around in his mouth. He watches Kojirou pull from his own, and breathe from his nose like a dragon.

“He always was.”

“You don’t believe that.”

“I don’t know,” Kaoru throws up his hands. “He’s – strange, now. Acting all different, after that beef with Langa.” That child. A prodigy in the works, and only seventeen. Somehow, in all of Kaoru’s sweat and tears, he wasn’t good enough to bring Adam back from that dark place he was festering in.

Kojirou tosses a pebble from the balcony, and it bounces to the concrete below. Like skipping a stone off clear water. Like a different world, than here.

“I can’t forgive him.”

Kaoru sits up straight.

“What for?”

Kojirou turns – deadly serious, and rather scary, for such a large man.

“For what he did to you – are you serious? You couldn’t walk for days.”

“There are no rules in the S, Kojirou. I knew the risks.”

“He almost killed you!” Kojirou grits, louder. Kaoru doesn’t shrink.

“Then you think me weak.”

“I woulda’ strangled him,” Kojirou continues shaking his head. His voice lowers down again, and he breathes a hard smoke. “If you weren’t choking on a pool of your old blood, I damn well would have.”

This conversation hurts. Kaoru is tempted to stand and leave, but for whatever divine reason, he does not.

“It’s over now,” Kaoru mutters. “His answer was loud and clear.”

Kojirou goes silent. Kaoru flicks his ashes off the balcony, and watches them flutter away like cherry blossoms.

They should go home. Kaoru does not move.

Kojirou is a large presence next to him; comforting, and irritating. Warm, and stifling. The silence is broken.

“You were in love with Adam, weren’t you?”

Kaoru chokes. He pounds on his chest with his fist, and turns to hack into his elbow. When he looks back, Kojirou is staring back at him like a dumb dog.

“You are such a jackass.”

Kojirou is unbothered.

“That’s why, right? Why you didn’t touch your board for weeks?” Kojirou shifts closer, “Not because of the injury, but because it was Adam that did it to you.”

Kaoru shoves him away, and stands.

“You have no right to speak to me that way, you dumb beast. I’m leaving.”

Kojirou stands as well, blocking his path from the stairs.

“Ohh, I get it. The hair, the money, the talent – only the best for someone as high and mighty as Cherry –”

Kaoru tries to slap him, but Kojirou catches his palm. Kaoru snaps his teeth to defend the way his heart is beating out of his chest.

“I don’t see how any of this is your business!”

Kojirou squeezes his wrist, and Kaoru finds himself backed against a wall.

“Did you ever tell him?”

“Of course not!” Kaoru blurts, and then cringes immensely. He sighs, and tips his head back against the concrete wall. “I’m not in love with Adam, you moron.”

Kojirou narrows his eyes, but lets go of his wrist.

“You’re lying to me.”

Kaoru pinches the bridge of his nose.

“It was a long time ago, Kojirou. We were teenagers.”

The stormy look on Kojirou’s face melts away.

“Wait…so you’re not…now?”

Kaoru gives him a flat look. Kojirou stares right back.

“No, you imbecile.” Kaoru blinks. “Wait – you thought the beef with Adam…”

Fingers brush his cheek. They hover only for a second, before bracing against the wall. Kojirou looks far away. Mature is a word Kaoru doesn’t use for him often, but in moments like these, he’s reminded that they did, indeed, grow up.

“I thought he hit you, knowing.”

Kaoru closes his eyes. His fingers itch for the cigarette he dropped.

“No. I think I – ” Kaoru doesn’t like stuttering over his words. He pauses to set himself straight, before continuing. “I hoped I could reach him. That maybe, there was a hint of the old Adam I... cared about. But that man is long gone. We’re different people now, and Adam made it clear what he thinks of me.”

Boring.

It stings in a way Kaoru didn’t know was possible. For days, the sight of Carla made him ache.

Kojirou is staring at his jaw. Or his mouth, maybe, though Kaoru tries not to think too hard on that.

“Adam is a genius,” Kojirou says. “But he’s still a skater. That makes him stupid, just like the rest of us.”

Kaoru cracks a smile. He sets a hand on the arm caging him in, and it’s warm, and steel strong.

“Some more than others.”

Kojirou meets his eyes. The air is tight, and tense. Like if Kaoru breathes in too much, he’ll drown. Fingers settle at his side, above his obi. Wide and strangely protective. Though, many memories say it’s not-so strange.

Kojirou starts to say,

“You know, I –”

A droplet lands between them. Kaoru’s head snaps upwards, and another plops right on his cheek.

A third, a fourth – and then the heavens unleash it all.

Dammit,” Kaoru curses, ducking away from the rain. “We skated here, you stupid oaf!”

“How was I supposed to know it was going to rain?” Kojirou bickers back. “I don’t control the weather!” They grab their boards, and shuffle towards one of the dryer corners of the community center.

“You just had to pick a venue without a real roof. I can’t get into a taxi like this!”

“Don’t be such a drama queen, it’s just a little rain,” Kojirou grunts. He covers his head with his skateboard, though it doesn’t do much. “My apartment is right around the corner. Come on.”

“Oh lovely, just my ideal evening.”

“Shut up, my god. You’re a complainer, you know that?”

“Only when it’s your fault.”

“Ready?” Kojirou calls. “One, two – ”

“Hey! Hold on!”

 

 

Kaoru feels unnervingly similar to a soaked cat.

He is dripping, utterly dripping. His hair has fallen out of it’s tie, and his cheeks are cold, and his socks are wet in the worst way possible.

Kojirou scrambles around his apartment for fresh clothes. Of course, he doesn’t own a single yukata; so Kaoru has to question all his life choices when Kojirou throws him a pair of sweatpants and a shirt five times too large.

“Seriously?”

“It’s that, or try your luck with the hair dryer,” Kojirou shrugs.

Kaoru grumbles, and sloshes his way into the bathroom.

Kojirou’s apartment is – objectively – nice. The western interior is far beyond Kaoru’s tastes, but not entirely outside his comfort zone, only because he’s been here so many damn times.

He knows where Kojirou’s dryer is, so he tosses his wet clothing in as he waddles through the hall. These borrowed clothes are ridiculously large, and Kaoru has to stop and retie the drawstring three times before the pants stay on his waist.

With the sleeves and the ankles rolled, he finally finds Kojirou standing at his living-room window, changed and dry, watching the rain come down in blankets.

“Do you think the kids made it home?” Kojirou asks.

Kaoru sniffles, and wipes his nose on the sleeve of the oversized shirt. Ugh.

“Miya, yes. Langa and Reki are still debatable.”

Kojirou laughs, and turns from the window.

“We really are no better than…” His words trail. Kojirou blinks, and Kaoru stares back. “Um.”

Kaoru crosses his arms and huffs.

“What?” At no response, he waves his hand. “Hello? Did your stupid brain finally shut down and die?”

“You look absurd,” Kojirou blurts.

Kaoru tugs his fingers through his long hair, combing out the knots formed from the rain.

“And you look like an ogre. Anything else obvious you’d like to say?”

Kojirou cracks a smile. It’s the handsome kind – the ones he uses to seduce all those women he keeps on his arm.

“Sure. It’s a cute look on you, stuck-up.”

He blinks slowly. 

“Ha-ha. Very funny.” Kaoru re-rolls up the sleeve that won’t stay. “Don’t quit your day job.”

Rain clatters against the balcony window. The city looks neon and wet, born anew under the downpour. Kojirou gives him a second once-over, and crosses the room.

“You look cold. Want a drink?”

“Tea, if you have it.”

“I do, ‘cause you’re the only one that drinks it.”

“Dinner and a drink,” Kaoru muses. “Truly spoiled.”

Kojirou hums playfully, “It’s fine, you can buy dinner next time.”

“There won’t be a next time,” Kaoru retorts, though, it is a lie.

Kojirou meanders to the kitchen, but Kaoru watches him rub sorely at his arm as he walks, and he suddenly feels a shred of sympathy over how many times Kojirou landed hard trying that trick on the pool deck. They’ve taken worse falls, quite obviously, but Kaoru feels weird. The odd tension from earlier is sticking to them like tar, and Kaoru can’t peel it off just yet.

“Actually, you sit,” Kaoru points. “I’ll get it.”

Kojirou gives him a look like he’s gone delusional.

“Huh?”

“Still the third cabinet, yes?”

“Well…yeah. But –”

“If you kept your home kitchen as neat as your work, you wouldn’t have a termite problem.”

“I don’t have a termite problem,” Kojirou argues, now distant from the other room. “Anymore.”

Kaoru shuffles through Kojirou’s limited selection of teas, and grabs the teapot from where it sits mostly unused atop his pantry.

“What do you want?”

Distantly called; “Beer is fine.”

Kaoru opens the fridge. He sets out a can while the teapot fills with water. And as he turns to light the stove, he feels horror creep across his shoulders.

Oh hell. He knows this place.

The odd nick-knacks, the dying house plants, the strange modern sculptures and the placement of every cup in his pantry. Dumbbells on the kitchen table. A painting from France in his hall.

Kaoru stares blanky at the stove. The sleeve is slipping off his shoulder again, and he tugs it back into place.

Curiously, he sniffs the collar. It smells – well. It smells clean, of course – but it smells like Kojirou.

Kaoru closes his eyes, and curses. For all that his heart aches, Kaoru wishes he didn’t have one.

 

 

What am I doing here?

 

 

It’s late. He needs to go home. The kettle squeals.

The teapot is moved off the stove, but not by his own hand. Kaoru stares at the wall as the stove is turned off before him.

Instead of just the shirt, the whole world suddenly smells like Kojirou. His brain doesn’t have the energy to come up with any insults. It just smells good.

“Kaoru,” Kojirou says. His voice is deep, and quiet. “I need to know something.”

The sound of his real name makes his ears burn. It’s an oddity, and Kojirou says it smooth as silk. He does not turn around.

“You could start with some personal space,” Kaoru mutters, though he doesn’t mean it.

He can feel Kojirou breathing behind him. His arms lock Kaoru against the counter, like he’s afraid he will run and turn tail. He could fight back, if he wanted to. They both know this.

Kojirou is crowding him, but they’re not touching. Kaoru doesn’t move in fear of it. Like a dam will break, and the whole apartment will go under.

“Are you really over Adam?”

Kaoru closes his eyes against the onslaught of frustration. He breathes out the emotions; forces them from his chest with a heavy exhale.

“It’s complicated. And none of your business.”

Kaoru startles when a forehead drops against his shoulder. He wants to run just as much as he wants to lean against him, so he does neither.

“Please…” Kojirou whispers. “I need to know.”

Kaoru’s mouth feels dry. He swallows, and can taste that old cigarette.

“I already told you, fool. I love no one but skating, and my art.”

Kojirou’s hand squeezes against the counter. Kaoru wonders, in the far reaches of his mind, if he would be strong enough to chip the granite. A part of him thinks it might be likely.

“What if I want you to love me?” Kojirou whispers.

The world just – falls away. It dissolves, it pools. Water and oil. Paintbrush, and ink. Kaoru feels a heat wash through him that is indescribable.

He’s aware of their breathing. Of the rattling of the fridge, and the feint footsteps from the neighbors upstairs.

“You’re an idiot,” Kaoru mumbles.

“Yeah.” Kojirou’s fist tightens, and let’s go. “Just…seeing those kids happy together. It’s made me wonder if I’ve been a fool all these years.”

“No doubt,” sighs Kaoru. “We are built far more complicated than teenage romance, Kojirou.”

A pause settles. Then,

“I know. But we’re built to last.”

Hope is the illness of romantics. And for a moment, Kaoru feels it anyways.

But it can’t be real.

The words burn inside him so furiously, Kaoru whips around in his arms. His backside hits the counter, and he braces himself against it, like preparing for a fight.

“Don’t make fun of me you – you womanizer. I won’t be seduced like one of your little late-night trysts –”

“Kaoru…”

He jams a finger in his thick chest, boiling alive; “You can’t just say pretty words and get whatever you want. If you’re looking for a one-night stand then you can look somewhere else—” Kaoru’s words trail as Kojirou steps closer. Kaoru finally looks him in the eye, and feels his stomach pit out.

He’s seen Kojirou flirt with an innumerable amount of women. Inside the country, and out. On planes, on boats, at hotel lobbies and in their own backyard. But never men. And never in the way he’s looking at Kaoru, right now.

“How would you like to be seduced, then?” Kojirou swallows, and – is he nervous? “I’ve already tried everything I know.”

Kaoru’s eyes widen. Memories fly through his mind like a rushing train.

“For how long?”

Kojirou laughs once, short and dry.

“Years, princess. For years.”

Kaoru steadies himself with a hand on his forearm. Kojirou doesn’t waver under his grip, sturdy as an anchor. His eyes are open amber, and Kaoru feels like he can see years into the past. When they were small and skinny and always running from something.

 

Maybe we can be built to last.

 

They made it this far.

 

“Kojirou…” Kaoru starts. Kojirou shakes his head in response.

“You don’t have to say yes. You don’t have to say anything, I guess. I just…fuck. I want you to look at me the way you look at Adam.”

Kaoru exhales. He can’t calculate this. He can’t ask Carla about the next turn.

So in Reki’s terms, he’ll just have to ‘wing it’.

“I haven’t been looking at him,” Kaoru states, head tipped up assuredly. He grips hard into the crook of Kojirou’s elbow. Pulls, so he’s closer. “Fool, idiot beast. Just who do I spend all my free time with?”  

Kojirou’s eyes are big, but his mouth is pressed in a firm line. He breathes through his nose, and sets his hand back on Kaoru’s waist. There’s no obi this time, and Kaoru can feel his hands through the thin cotton shirt he’s borrowed.

“I’m going to go out on a whim and hope that it’s me.”

“Ugh, moron.”

“Cheapskate.”

“Simpleton.”

“Four-eyed priss.”

Kaoru kisses him with a hand up in his green hair, gripping at the root so Kojirou can’t pull away. He doesn’t. Rather, Kojirou squeezes him at the waist and kisses back, heavy and brutish and the opposite of Kaoru in every way. Everything that Kaoru likes about him, wrapped up in one.

Their lips slide together. Like skating, like a dance.

Kojirou makes a relieved sigh through his nose that trembles through Kaoru at a heartbreaking frequency. He tastes Kojirou because he wants to. Tries for elegance, gets savagery in return, and enjoys it fully. The mighty Joe tastes like breath mints, and that marlboro cigarette. Surprisingly anticlimactic, yet erotic too.

The end of each kiss leads into the next one, and Kaoru holds on tight.

“You are,” Kojirou kisses. “So damn beautiful.”

Kaoru’s body runs hot. He does his best not to react, but in all truth, he tips his head to allow Kojirou access to his throat, because he secretly wants him there.

“I already told you. Ah.” Kaoru gasps as Kojirou sucks down. He twists dark hair in his fingers as a punishment, but it appears to only spur him on. “You don’t have to seduce me with cute words.”

Kojirou kisses the hinge of his jaw; kisses his ear, his cheekbone. It’s like he’s trying to breathe him in while he still can. Like he’s wanted it for a long time.

“M’ not trying to. You just drive me insane.”

Kaoru silently laughs, and is surprised at how freeing it is.

“That I have known.”

“No. You really have no idea.”

When it gets too tiresome to bend, Kaoru is lifted up and sat on the counter, the empty teacup long pushed aside and forgotten. He cages Kojirou in with his knees, seeks out his mouth and prods his tongue past his teeth. Kojirou makes a delighted noise, and Kaoru responds by raking his nails under the lip of his collar, then over steel muscle and wide shoulders.

 I’m kissing my best friend, Kaoru distantly thinks. And then in the same thought: My god, Kojirou is my best friend.

 He is rough with his hands, but actively gentle, like Kaoru is something precious. Kojirou smooths his hand down his outer thigh, pushes back up, and twists his fingers in the oversized shirt. Kaoru gasps when he slips under, and pets up his bare ribcage. Kaoru is cold to touch while Kojirou is warm, and the temperature difference makes him shiver with goosebumps. 

“Hey.”

“Sorry,” Kojirou mutters, unapologetic. “You look – fuck,” he curses, and Kaoru gets a kiss in before he finishes. “You really do look good like this.”

Kaoru pulls away slightly to look down at his atrocious state of dress. He then raises an eyebrow at him.

“You’re into that?”

Kojirou grins toothily, and rolls his thumb into the meat of his hip.

“Oh, religiously.”

“So barbaric.” Kaoru digs his heels into his ass and tugs. “Come here.”

Kojirou giggles, and then kisses him in full force again. Kaoru is going stupid with it, losing track of time and space. Kojirou rolls their tongues together and Kaoru feels his stomach pit out so deep, he gets turned on from it. Embarrassing, yes – but beyond his control.

Strong muscle is defined and tense under his fingers, yet soft to the touch. Kaoru pushes his shirt off his shoulders, and traces up and down his back until Kojirou’s hips are stuttering forwards, and rutting against his thigh like a needy dog. Kaoru can feel the shape of him; half hard and damn big like the rest of him, and Kaoru is so shameful that his mouth waters.

“Lord,” Kaoru curses. Kojirou is undisturbed, sucking hot into the side of his neck again, carefully slipping his hair off his shoulder with a reverence Kaoru didn’t know he was capable of. Kojirou has a clever mouth, but that’s nothing new. He licks where Kaoru’s piercing used to be, and then kisses him more.

“Ugh, Kaoru. I want you to sit on my face.”

Fuck.

“You are –” Kaoru drawls, deadpan, “— entirely obscene.” Kojirou looks crestfallen for all of three seconds, before Kaoru slides off the bar, grabs him by the arm and tugs. “Come on. You better pray your room is clean.”

Kojirou follows along, barely keeping his feet under him.

“Hey! I am not like that anymo – okay, well, don’t mind the clothes, I was doing laundry.”

“Right. I’ll pretend to believe you this time.”

 

 

After kicking aside a sizeable pile of crap, Kojirou spreads him out on the bed and removes his sweatpants with a flattering (and adorable) amount of concentration.

Kaoru is no small man, but Kojirou looks massive between his legs. Rubbing his cheek along his bare inner thigh, nosing across his stomach and mouthing at the tip of his cock. Kaoru feels drunk with it – mindless, and stupid, and at a loss of words.

“So damn pretty,” Kojirou mutters, like an annoyance. He feels up his leg, makes him twitch. “Of course you shave.”

“Shut up.”

Everything about this was thought to be outside his realm of possibility.

So Kaoru selfishly takes what he can. In tugging Kojirou up his body, kissing his mouth and rolling his nails over the tattoo on his shoulder. Kojirou makes a punted sound; rasped and lovely. It tastes nice, too.

“Roll over, you brute,” Kaoru pinches him. Kojirou does, though he pretends it takes effort to. Kaoru huffs, and pulls the baggy shirt up to his collarbone so he can see beneath him. Kojirou is quite a sight from this angle. “Remember, you wanted this.”

“I do, I do.” Kojirou goes for his legs immediately; big tan hands that contrast his own skin. He grips his outer thighs, tugs so Kaoru his sat higher on his chest. Kojirou’s eyes jerk up and down like he cant quite take it all in. “Fuck, sorry. You turn me on like no tomorrow.”

Kaoru is still naked from the waist down, so there’s no hiding the way his cock twitches. He pulls his hair behind his ear, long and everywhere, and looks down at Kojirou’s dumb, handsome face. 

“Well. I suppose that’s the point.”

Kojirou smirks up at him. He gets Kaoru close enough that he can mouth at the side of his cock again, and it’s not much, but it’s a nice feeling.

“My my, Cherry. Who knew you were a tease?”

Kaoru sits up a little, so his erection pulls just out of range. He grips the headboard with one hand, and keeps his own shirt tugged up with the other.

“Mmm, how did you say it?” He gets a good seat on his knees, and feels Kojirou grab his ass and spread him wide. “Ah. You have no idea.”

Kojirou licks right down his perineum, and Kaoru squeezes his eyes shut immediately. Kojirou yanks him right where he wants him, holds him tight so he can’t move, and tongues him open with a shocking amount of dexterity (well, maybe not too shocking, but Kaoru won’t think on that.)

“Oh,” Kaoru sighs. He shifts forwards, rides back, and Kojirou rumbles a moan that damn near sets them both on fire.

His tongue is wet and hot, and his thighs get sticky with spit. He feels messy, unhinged, but it’s exhilarating. Thick fingers squeeze his cheeks and rub along his hole – and he can’t even bother to be flustered about it, because it’s incredibly hot. Kaoru rides down with force, lets go of the headboard to grab his mossy hair instead, and watching Kojirou’s hips squirm on the bed satisfies a part of him that he didn’t know existed.

Kojirou eats him out like he has something to gain from it. Like it’s a competition, and he wants to win. Kaoru has to chew on his lip, his cheek, and his tongue to say quiet. Kojirou turns his head to bite a thick hickey into his inner thigh, and Kaoru’s patience flies out the window.

“Stop,” Kaoru rasps, fighting his hands to sit away. “You should fuck me.”

Kojirou won’t let him leave just yet. His arms are ridiculously solid, and he flicks his tongue against his hole in an maddening way.

“We don’t gotta’, sweetheart. I only asked for this.”

Idiot,” Kaoru hisses. He chucks the accursed shirt off his shoulders and away from the bed. “Thick headed, simple-minded ogre.”

“Ugh, talk dirty to me,” Kojirou sighs. Kaoru digs his nails into his scalp and claws, and Kojirou moans suddenly, his head slamming back into the pillows. “Fuck, okay, yeah. Hold on.”

With his legs free, Kaoru climbs off and hunts through his drawer for lube (and it’s right where he thought it would be, damn this whore of a man). There are too many options. Kaoru chooses the non flavored one.

Kojirou stands up wobbly to chuck off his pants, and Kaoru has to force himself not to do a double take. Its…hm. Well – it’s not like Kaoru didn’t know what he was getting into. They’ve seen each other naked more times than he can count –

But the context is different. And Kojirou is hard for him. Thick, standing upright and pink at the head. 

Neither of them are virgins, and for a moment, that’s something to be grateful for. Fitting him inside would be impossible otherwise. Maybe all this truly was meant to be. 

“Wow,” Kaoru mutters. “Okay, come here.”

Kojirou snorts, and comes to stand at the side of the bed where Kaoru can reach him. He sets his hands on Kojirou’s thighs – round, solid and bruised – and he presses his face to the crook of his tan hip, breathing in to get a hold on himself. His body is still aching from being so close, and he refuses to lose his cool.

This is insane. Utterly insane.

“I said we don’t gotta’,” Kojirou mutters. His fingers twirl messily in Kaoru’s hair. He’s too preoccupied to give a damn about the tangles. “Fuck. But I sure want to see the faces you’ll make.”

Kaoru snorts dryly.

“We can’t go back to normal, if we go through with this.”

Kojirou tenses, but doesn’t stop petting him.

“I dunno’. I don’t think we ever were normal.”

Touché.

Kaoru tilts his face, and presses a kiss to the head of his cock. It barely fits in his mouth as is. Kojirou tenses, and inhales through his nose. Kaoru looks up through his lashes. Meets his eye, and hums to test his resolve.

“Do I have to beg?”

No. He doesn’t.

Kojirou manhandles Kaoru to his stomach. Lovingly fingers him open, spreads him apart, spits between his legs and fucks him so good, Kaoru almost claws a hole in his comforter. Kojirou curses when he slides in – a noise so deep, Kaoru throbs from it.

“Oh – god,” Kojirou sighs behind him.

Yes – the slimy, disgusting part of Kaoru’s brain squeals with delight. Come undone because of me.

This beast of a man has more power than anyone knows. More than what those sweet little women can handle. He doesn’t want to be fucked like them. He wants Kojirou as he is – as a man. As his equal, who can skate by him, side by side.

Give it to me, you bastard,” Kaoru hisses, so Kojirou presses him into the sheets and obeys.

A foot on the ground, and a knee planted in the bed for leverage, Kojirou slides in and out of him slippery smooth, hot and big and filling him up in every crevice. He can feel the stretch in his stomach, the sting of his thighs slapping his ass. Kojirou grinds deep with pinpoint accuracy, and Kaoru forgets about biting his tongue. He moans openly into his fist, and Kojirou rumbles a noise so possessive, it makes his gut turn. 

“Shit,” Kojirou blurts. Jesus, look at you. Kaoru. I need to see your face.”

Kaoru is already rolling. Kojirou slides out, yanks him right up against his thighs, and slips in without further warning — and Kaoru claws into his shoulders something nasty. Blood bubbles under his nails. Oops.

“Oh – fuck, fuck me.”

The replying hiss from Kojirou is sexy; Kaoru feels his heart in his mouth, adrenaline hammering wild and fast.

It’s truly terrible. Kaoru can recognize the start of an addiction – like the first time he skated off a ramp, or that cigarette Adam once passed him. Or, you know...

This.

Kojirou’s eyes look wild, unhinged and possessive. Kaoru pulls on his shoulders, urging him closer. They kiss, but it’s messy – more of a bite, more teeth clicking. It’s everything Kaoru hated about sex. It’s everything he finds addicting, now.

Kojirou’s voice has become hoarse.

Damn baby. You feel so good – always wondered what you’d look like.”

In, and out – Kaoru has lost track of it all. He works himself in hand, teetering on the edge just to see how long he can last.

“Years, huh?” Kaoru rasps. “Naughty man.”

Kojirou laughs weakly. Bites at his shoulder, slams his hips in and grinds circles for a minute before resuming his rhythm again. He’s good, Kaoru will give him that.

“Yeah. You piss me off just as much as you turn me on.”

Kaoru tips his head back and exhales. His hair is fanned everywhere (it’ll be a rat’s nest tomorrow), and he grips the sheets above his head in one hand, just to have an outlet for the intensity.

“That – mm – might be a problem in the future.”

Another laugh. It’s a lovely contrast to this needy, intense atmosphere they’ve created.

“Just you wait until I bend you over my bar.”

Shit. The insinuation of more of this – that Kojirou wishes to keep him – it makes Kaoru hiss through his teeth. He quickly lets go of his cock, but it’s too late.

Ah – I can’t. I’m going to come.”

Kojirou bats his hands away. He slips his legs into the crooks of his elbows, and fucks him until his toes are curling. It’s good, it’s bloody good, this white-hot pressure deep in him, Kojirou’s pretty words leading him right along. His groin gets tight, and Kaoru spasms from it, arching off the bed and letting out a delirious sound. He can barely register Kojirou blabbering.

“Oh my god – fuck yeah, show me princess, come on – I’ve got you –”

The room spins, and he can focus on nothing else. Kaoru comes all over himself, wet and sticky and intense. Kojirou curses heavily, but doesn’t let go. He’s there, always – a pillar of support, holding on, working him through it, muttering useless phrases that Kaoru can’t comprehend.

He’s lost his mind. But he wants to see Kojirou lose his, too. He wants to see him undone. Wants to fall from grace together.

Curse this man. Curse him to hell, for all that Kaoru wants to keep him.

“Inside,” Kaoru whispers. “Come on big guy. Give me something to remember.”

Kojirou’s eyes get big, and he shudders hard. His pace stutters. 

“Wh – wait, shit, are you sure?”

Kaoru holds his own thigh to his chest so Kojirou can have a free hand.

“Do I look sure?”

It hurts in a good way. Like skating bruises, two or three days down the line. He slips his legs over Kojirou’s shoulders when he leans up far enough, and Kaoru gets to hold him while he trembles apart. Big, dumb lug. A silly fool, curled up in his neck and pressed balls deep inside him, twitching and sighing in a way so sweet, Kaoru becomes distinctly jealous of every other person that’s seen Kojirou this way.

He can feel Kojirou inside. It’s a full feeling, something he’s never allowed before. Something he never desired. Kojirou has always been a terrible outlier to Kaoru’s careful calculations. 

Kojirou catches his breath against his sternum, and Kaoru’s body grows hot again.

“My god.”

“I know.”

It’s hot, and sticky. The room smells like sex, and Kaoru feels like he could float off into space and never be seen again.

Kojirou rises to his elbows to look him the eye.

“Still alive?”

“Yeah.” Kaoru pets across his cheek. Thumbs under his eye, and traces the hard line of his jaw. Kojirou closes his eyes, and Kaoru feels tender from it. Trusted, and sweet. “Can you go again?”

Kojirou lets out an amazed laugh, and presses his mouth into the palm of his hand to kiss it.

“Who do you think you’re talking to?”

“Rumors are rumors,” Kaoru mutters, tugging on his earlobe. “I live by the rules of seeing is believing.”

“Alright,” Kojirou grins deviously. “Then prepare to believe your heart out, babyface.”

Kojirou licks down through the mess on his stomach. Kaoru makes sure he swallows it all.

 

 

 

He sees Adam standing over him with a board in his hand. Then, Kaoru wakes up.

It's the middle of the night. He knows it from the intense darkness of the room, only illuminated by the small light beaming from under the bedroom door. He wants to ask Carla what time it is. But it’s not his room.

Kaoru startles when he feels something around his waist. He flounders, feeling across it – only to find fingers that aren’t his own. They’re tight across his middle, and Kaoru follows the arm to Kojirou’s sleeping face.

The memories flood back all at once. Kaoru failed to go home like he promised to. Instead, they went at it for hours, until Kaoru clocked out at the third round. He doesn’t even remember the end. The world just turned off, like a light switch.

 Kaoru inhales deeply through his nose. Kojirou lets out a small snore.

I had sex with Joe, Kaoru thinks, with horror. Then, I had sex with Joe and I LIKED it.

Kaoru has no idea what he’s doing. The one person – the only person – that understands him. That stays by his side through thick and thin, through small bickering and full-blown fights – and he’s here. Sharing a bed, curled up with Kaoru as if he likes it.

He starts to mildly panic. Squirming, breathing hard. He needs to go home, he has to –

Kojirou wakes up immediately.

“Hey, hey,” he starts sleepily. “Kaoru? Are you okay?”

“What have we done?” Kaoru whispers, struggling. Kojirou lets him go, but cups his cheek to keep his attention.

“Uhh…a lot. You – you remember, right?”

“Of course I do!”

“Shhh,” Kojirou pushes back his hair. “It’s okay. Don’t go just yet – come here.”

Kaoru works to slow his breathing. The anxiety churns his stomach, but he doesn’t leave.

“You never spend the night with your hookups.”

“And you’re not a hookup, are you? Come here, dummy.”

“Moron,” Kaoru retorts naturally, but slides closer. Kojirou pulls him in tight, and Kaoru, weakly, hugs him back. Kojirou’s deep and steady breathing helps to even out his own. Eventually, it’s so quiet that you can hear the cicadas outside.

“Sorry. I really didn’t plan for all this,” Kojirou says, whispered. “I just wanted to tell you I liked you. I uh…didn’t think much farther than that.”

“Typical,” Kaoru retorts. Despite his tone, he pets between Kojirou’s shoulder blades, and feels soothed by it. So wide, this man. Kaoru sighs. “Kojirou…what the hell are we doing?”

“I dunno’. Whatever you want, I guess.” Kojirou fans his pastel hair out on the pillow, carefully arranging it out of the way. “Whatever you’ll give me.”

Kaoru pauses. He wiggles in a little closer, and Kojirou slots a big thigh between his own. The skin on skin helps him relax. He admits something from the heart.

“I don’t know what I want.”

“S’fine. We can figure that out as we go.”

Kaoru frowns, and pinches his arm.

“Who let you be so gentlemanly, you ape.”

“Ow. I’m always this kind, sweetie. You’re only just now opening your eyes –”

“Oh, give me a break,” Kaoru replies. He allows Kojirou to squeeze him tight as he giggles, and the tight pressure itches a scratch deep in his brain.

Kojirou is letting him stay.

 

It’s safe here.

 

They drift asleep, one after the other.

 

 

The whole apartment smells like breakfast.

No – not like what Kaoru would eat in the morning. It smells syrupy, and – well, foreign. American, maybe. Kojirou is, predictably, is already awake.

“Rise and shine sweetheart. Oh – it is just so great to see your smiling face.”

Kaoru recedes into himself and squints his eyes with all the malice he can manage. He couldn’t find the clothes he borrowed last night, so he had to go digging through Kojirou’s closet for another pair of oversized loungewear. He misses his yukata deeply.

Shuffling towards the kitchen table, Kaoru combs through his hair and sits sorely at the table.

“Shut up. You’re too damn loud.”

Kojirou scoffs, “What? I wake up early to make you breakfast and I don’t even get a good morning kiss?” Kaoru glares furiously, but Kojirou keeps going. “Oh, actually – it’s almost noon. I guess you’re not going to work today, huh?”

Kaoru plucks his glasses off the table (ah, so that’s where they ended up) and yanks the shirt up his shoulder as it slips.

“No. Apparently not.”

Kojirou smiles, and slides him a plate of eggs and pancakes, cooked to perfection as always.

“I knew you’d be sleeping in.”

“And you’re just soo proud of yourself,” Kaoru mutters. “Thanks.”

“Well, a little bit, sure. I mean hell, lookit’ you.”

“You about broke my back bending me into all those positions last night.”

Kojirou leans up against the kitchen island and counts off his fingers.

“First of all, I am immune to your morning grouchiness, so you can stop looking at me like that. Second, don’t even try to pretend you didn’t like it and third – I think you’re the most flexible person I’ve ever met.”

Kaoru shifts sorely, and cuts into the pancake with the side of his fork.

He mutters, “Not by choice.” Kojirou snorts, and it makes Kaoru crack a smile at last. “What about your restaurant?”

“My part-timer has it handled,” Kojirou waves. He checks the clock on the stove. “Err, at least until three.”

“Sit down,” Kaoru waves. He rubs at his temple, and slowly comes awake with the food. “You’re giving me a migraine.”

Kojirou sits to eat, and says nothing. In the silence, Kaoru works his way through part of the breakfast, and becomes more aware of his surroundings. His yukata has been washed and dried, and is now laying out across the back of the couch. The living room has been tidied, and Kojirou is looking at him like he might grow a second head and start tap dancing.

Ah. He’s nervous.

“I won’t leave just yet,” Kaoru says, and Kojirou relaxes slightly.

“Ah. Alright.”

“You know the S starts up again this weekend.”

“Yeah, I know. Are you going?”

“Probably. You?”

“I’m thinking about it.” Kojirou’s expression walls off, and grows distant. “I don’t know if I’m ready to see Adam yet.”

Kaoru gives him a look.

“You don’t know?”

“Yeah.” He looks up, and his expression is too intense for this early (or late) in the morning. “It was bad, man. You didn’t see yourself.”

“I didn’t realize you were so worried.”

“You can handle yourself,” Kojirou puffs. Pauses, and looks away. “Doesn’t mean I don’t care, I guess. Shut up, don’t look at me like that.”

In all this madness – Kaoru can at least say that Kojirou is trying. It makes his heart ache in a strange and unfamiliar way. His mind chooses that moment to dream of how they slept last night. All curled up and close – and suddenly this table feels far too large.

Kaoru pushes aside his plate.

Kojirou’s head snaps up, and Kaoru nudges him into place so he can sit sideways in his lap, and cling to him drowsily.

“We’re both fools, Kojirou.”

He’s held securely. Like sitting on solid ground. Kojirou locks him tight into place, and tips his head up to meet his eye.

“Well…I guess that’s something we can both agree on.”

Kaoru rests his head on his shoulder. Kojirou is clothed, but he can still feel his body heat radiating through the cotton tee.

“Are we really going through with this?”

It feels impossible, after all these years. That they can just pick up and change, and become something new. 

Kojirou squeezes him. Kaoru is becoming terribly addicted to the feeling.

“I sure as hell want to.”

For all their differences – rough edges, opposites and all – Kaoru thinks that might be what’ll make them last.

Kaoru sighs, and leans into him. Kojirou traces something along his neck – imaginary circles, Kaoru supposes. He smells fresh from a shower, good and earthy.

Kojirou nudges his face towards him, so Kaoru accepts the kiss. It’s short and sweet-tasting. A little too hard, but it’s them.

“I’m keeping your skateboard,” Kaoru says.

What? No way, that’s mine – ”

“No, no. I’m keeping it. Consider it recompense for the broken back.”

“You’re an ass.” 

 

 

 

 

Kaoru doesn’t get a good look at himself until he undresses for a shower. His hair is a disaster – tangled in places and messy from being pulled. But that’s not what makes him gasp.

“Kojirou!” Kaoru calls, mortified. “You monster!”

“What?” Kojirou hollers back.

“Look what you did to me!” Kaoru traces along the side of his throat. It’s all purple, a big flowering mess down to his shoulder. “For fucks sake – this isn’t high-school. Learn some self-control.

Kojirou’s voice echoes down the hall.

“Hey, you turned my back into a damn scratching post, so I don’t wanna’ hear it.”

Hm.

Kaoru studies another hickey on his hip, and the handful on his inner thighs. His skin has always been susceptible to bruising, but this is obscene.

 “Utter beast,” Kaoru scowls.

Kojirou sing-songs from the living room.

“Thank you.”

 

 

The sound of metal on metal is a familiar one. Boards on handrails, wheels skidding around a pool edge.

Langa skids out from that nine-hundred for the nine-hundredth time. Reki laughs, sticks out a hand, hauls him to his feet – and they go again.

Higa gives it a go, but only gets half as far. Miya doesn’t even bother, fully entertained by the rails on the community center stairs.

“Well,” Kojirou starts, chopsticks deep in a takeout box. “This was usually kind of you.”

Kaoru shrugs. The takeout was cheap, and the kids looked hungry.

“It’s fine. You’ll get the next one.”

Tomorrow the community center will be demolished. Rumor has it that Adam knows the buyer. Either way, Kaoru isn’t worried about getting caught here. A mighty web has been woven around the skating community, thanks to a few Diet members.

“Damn!” Reki lays at the bottom of the pool, nursing a sore elbow. He laughs deeply, a sound that echoes from the rotten walls. “That one hurt.”

Langa looks concerned.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine, fine! Hey, I wonder if we can skate off that second floor – ”

“No way,” Higa crosses his arms. “You’ll die for sure.”

“Well, now we gotta’ try.”  

“It’s nice to see them have fun,” Kojirou grins. “Everything’s so serious at the S.

“I think I’m going to enter again this weekend,” Kaoru says.

Kojirou raises his eyebrows.

“Really? With Carla?”

Kaoru looks down at his board. He brought Carla – but he brought Kojirou’s crappy board, too. He’s taken an odd liking to this one. It makes him think, makes him work harder.

“I’m not sure yet,” Kaoru says. Kojirou looks happy with that answer.

“Ahh, your fangirls would fall over. It’s been a while since Cherry’s been in the ring.”

“Shut up,” Kaoru replies, but doesn’t put much malice into it. “What about you? Are going to challenge someone?”

“I might,” Kojirou hums. “Might challenge you.”

“You’ll lose,” Kaoru purrs. Kojirou laughs, kisses the top of his head in passing, and kicks his board into his hand.

“Keep dreaming, princess.”

“Rotten ape.”

“Spoiled brat.”

Kaoru waves him off, and takes a bite of his own takeout while Kojirou rolls off towards the second pool. He looks up into four shocked faces.

“What?” Kaoru blurts. Reki’s jaw drops.

“How long has that been going on?”

Kaoru follows their line of sight towards Joe, then touches the top of his head. Ah.

It’s too good of an opportunity not to screw with them.

“What?” Kaoru sips off Kojirou’s soda. “You never noticed?”

Distantly, Kojirou laughs. Miya looks deeply suspicious, the cat ears of his hood gripped in his fingers.

“You’re messing with us.”

“Me? Never,” Kaoru stands. He kicks the crappy board into his hand, and then shoos them out of the way. “Move. I’m taking a shot at that trick.”

“A thousand yen if you land it right now,” Kojirou bets.

Kaoru does not. But he tries again for the fun of it.

And you know, in the end – he never needed that glass house anyways.