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Mornings are Not the Time

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“Tahno, wake up.”

“‘m awake.”

“Tahno, wake up.”

“I’m awake.”

“No, you’re not, and we’ve got forty minutes until we need to be at the gym, so wake up.”

Tahno groaned, and growled, and threw a withering glare at Ming before tossing his head back on his chair and massaging his eyes with one hand.  He loved Pro-Bending, loved the sport, loved the art and the rush of adrenaline, but he did not love the schedule, sometimes, and look, was it so, so hard to ask for things to cater to his every whim for once?  It’d be nice.

Shaozu placed a dish in front of him on the table and punched him lightly in the shoulder, darting away before Tahno could retaliate.  He settled for casting an equally sour glare at his teammate while Shaozu set a bowl in front of Ming and then sat at his own spot and began to eat.

“Does the new team always get the earliest practise slot?” Tahno asked, lurching for his chopsticks and pushing around the rice in his bowl.

“Yes,” Ming said, still not looking up, still flipping through his newspaper.

Tahno scowled and propped an elbow on the table to lean against his hand.

“Don’t make faces,” Shaozu said.  “It’ll stay that way.”

“Oh, so is that how yours got like that?  I’m so sorry.”

“Screw off.”

“Only if you ask nicely.”

Shaozu burst out laughing and Tahno clenched a fist, standing abruptly, and was this close to punching Shaozu in the teeth because fuck mornings (and Shaozu), when Ming said, “Not now, you two.” calmly, folding a corner of his newspaper down and glancing over to give them a warning look.

An icy remark was on the tip of his tongue but Tahno grit his teeth and sat down again, Shaozu sneering at him; he didn’t retaliate, wouldn’t let Shaozu goad him on, not this morning, and unclenched his fist and settled for picking at his breakfast.  Ming flipped his page back up and went back to the newspaper, and he and Shaozu were quiet and unobtrusive of the early morning silence, save for Shaozu occasionally sending an amused glance his way.  He responded alternatively by scowling more or ignoring him, neither of which worked how he would like it, which made Shaozu the worst, which made him an asshole, a stupid, stupid asshole, so Tahno resorted to grumbling under his breath and blearily rubbing at his eyes.

When he had played with his breakfast long enough to know he didn’t want it, he stood, picked up his dishes, and dumped them unceremoniously in the sink.  Ming cast a speculative glance his way but didn’t say anything, and he was good with that, preferred that, because any saying (especially concerned saying) was specifically in the Not Wanted area right now and Tahno firmly didn’t care because fuck, fuck mornings.

As he gripped his teacup in his hand to play with the temperature of the tea Shaozu finished and set his dishes (clean) in the sink, chuckling as Tahno sulked and glared at the wall clock.

“You’re adorable, you know that?” he said.

“Shut up.”

“You’re so adorable.”

“I hate you.”

“You’re the most adorable—”

“If you finish that sentence I will freeze your face off.”

Shaozu laughed, and laughed, shook his head, and slid over to wrap an arm around Tahno and squeeze, leaning his chin on a shoulder, and Tahno grit his teeth, prepared to bite out the most acerbic thing he could think of at six in the morning, but then Shaozu tilted his head and kissed him just under the ear and something in him swelled up to halt the words right on his tongue.  Shaozu kissed him again, breath hot on his neck, and adrenaline ramped up and flooded Tahno’s body, his blood leaping and cresting, and he tried to swallow, to breathe, without that damn squeak escaping, but there it went, and he dropped a hand, feeling it fall in slow motion and hit the counter while the other shook around his teacup.  Somewhere deep inside him said “oh” and it resounded through his head like waves crashing in a storm.

Then Shaozu trailed a line over his jawbone and rubbed at his limp arm, pulling his sleeve up and placing a finger over the pulse point at his elbow, and Tahno felt his head turning so he turned with it because that only made sense.  Their lips met and Tahno felt Shaozu breathe out while Tahno’s chest expanded and expanded and expanded out and he gripped his teacup tightly to him and didn’t care when tea sloshed over onto his shirt.

“Is this nice enough?” Shaozu asked, squeezing his pulse point.

He opened his mouth to say something—Shaozu biting his lip and tugging gently—and he was going to say something, something, damn it, because saying was no longer in the Not Wanted area, when Ming cleared his throat and Tahno jumped through the ceiling, spilling even more tea on the floor.

“We have a team practice in half an hour and there is no time for that,” Ming said, voice still calm, head still in the newspaper.  “Save it for later.”

Shaozu rolled his eyes but removed his arm, and just like that he was gone from Tahno’s space and walking out of the kitchen.  Tahno was left glaring, unsure at who but glaring ice and daggers and loathing and really, really, hating, just hating, hating so much, hating the blood that cooled in his veins and his heart that still raced in his body and the adrenaline that had him definitely, certainly, disgustingly awake.

Ming folded his newspaper on the table, pushed his chair back, and stood, carrying his dishes over to the counter and placing them neatly in the sink.  Tahno refused to move, refused, absolutely refused, and eventually Ming sighed and shook his head.

“Don’t look too surprised,” he said, rinsing his hands under the tap and towelling them dry.  “He does it on purpose, trust me.”

“Yeah, I know, I can handle him,” Tahno scoffed, shrugging Ming away aggressively and rolling his sleeve back down.  “I can handle myself.”

“I know you can,” Ming said.  “Just make sure you’re ready to go soon.  We’re leaving in five minutes.”

Tahno made a face, but nodded, and Ming squeezed his shoulder briefly before following Shaozu into the hall.

After a moment of petulant waiting Tahno went to put on a new shirt, and when the three of them were out climbing into Ming’s car he staunchly took the front seat and did not see or care when Shaozu rolled his eyes.

(Their practice that morning was the strongest they’d had yet.)