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Nitric Oxide

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‘Takeru, I’m sorry, but this is really not the right time or place for this.’

Takeru glared at Chiaki, hoping he could sense his displeasure through the helmet obscuring his face. His teammate, likewise hidden by his helmet, continued, unfazed, ‘But if you wait for a few minutes, I’ll do what I can.’

Takeru put more effort into making himself heavier. ‘Be quiet and lie still,’ he hissed, hoping neither Mako nor Kotoha would hear this idiot talking, straining to hear their steps and locate them.

Instead he could hear Chiaki snickering beneath the helmet. ‘You were the one who said you don’t fling yourself at us when this happens. Well, just for the record, it wasn’t me this time who jumped on top of someone else.’

Takeru grimly kept silent. He was not going to play along with this childish nonsense. Even if this was not a real fight, it was still training!

Chiaki moved beneath him. Takeru closed his eyes in desperation, trying to keep his breath as even as he could. It proved to be rather difficult, with Chiaki wiggling under him like this.

‘Impressive one, by the way. On the other hand, it’s been a few days, hasn’t it, Takeru?’

‘Shut up!’

Suddenly there were hands on his backside, and Takeru literally jumped. ‘Chiaki!’ he yelled.

‘Tono-sama!’

He had never dropped his henshin more quickly.

‘You’re dead,’ Chiaki’s voice said, and both Takeru and Kotoha stared at him in surprise.

He was right, however. Kotoha had failed to put her Shinkenmaru to Takeru’s throat. According to the rules, he was still alive. Chiaki, on the other hand, had his Shinkenmaru firmly planted against Kotoha’s neck. His voice was filled with triumph when he said, ‘Fell for it.’

Kotoha dropped her henshin as well and was about to say something when Mako attacked. Chiaki whirled around and blocked her blows. ‘Henshin back already, idiot! We’ve still got to take her and Ryuunosuke out!’

Takeru was sure he had never hated Chiaki more than right now. Running through the henshin, he came to Chiaki’s aid, hoping fiercely his movements were going to conceal what might be spotted through the tight armour. Together they took Mako out, then turned to Ryuunosuke who attempted to sneak up on Chiaki from behind. Takeru was not sure how it happened, but suddenly the Shinkenmaru was at this throat, and he heard Mako calling, ‘Takeru dead!’

Takeru breathed a silent sigh of relief, quickly ducked out of the fight, already dropping the henshin again. Even though it should not be as obvious anymo—

Well, forget that. Chiaki had learnt a lot in the meantime. He was all grace, all fluent movement, and quite undeniably hot.

Takeru took off his chequered shirt and unobtrusively wound it round his hips. Mako and Kotoha were focused on the fight anyway, Kotoha clapping her hands in delight when Ryuunosuke managed to slip in beneath Chiaki’s defence and put the Shinkenmaru to his throat. ‘You’re dead!’ he called triumphantly, then dropped the henshin.

Chiaki did so as well. His first glance went to Takeru, and the corners of his mouth went upwards. ‘Oi, Takeru, warm a bit?’

Mako and Kotoha turned to look at him while Takeru tried to kill Chiaki with looks. ‘A bit,’ he replied stiffly. Chiaki freed himself from Ryuunosuke and came towards him, still grinning.

‘Well, sorry, we lost.’

‘But it was so clever of you to use Tono-sama as a deception!’ Kotoha gushed and Chiaki scratched the back of his head.

‘Yeah, but I wouldn’t have stood a chance if you had remembered to kill Takeru once he jumped up.’

‘Exactly, you cannot count on that in a real fight, Chiaki!’ Ryuunosuke chimed in at once. Takeru was sure none of them noticed how Chiaki’s left hand wandered to his shirt, which was wound around his hip in much the same way as Takeru’s right now, and started idly stroking one of the sleeves.

He swallowed hard.

‘It was still a good trick, ne, Takeru?’ Mako put a hand on his shoulder. Takeru jumped a foot high and away from her. Kotoha, Mako and Ryuunosuke stared at him, nonplussed. ‘Takeru?’

‘Tono?’

‘Tono-sama?’

Cheeks flaming, Takeru stuttered something about them all needing a shower, turned and hastily strode off ahead of them.

Chiaki started laughing. Three gazes were directed at him. ‘Chiaki, did you do something to Takeru again?’ Mako asked, clearly running out of patience.

‘Me? Of course not, Nee-san! What would I be able to do to Takeru?’ Chiaki would have been more convincing had he not been laughing still.

Mako was about to answer, but Kotoha beat her to it. Looking at Takeru’s back with worry, she said, ‘Is Tono-sama angry at me because I didn’t kill him?’

Chiaki glanced at Takeru, his grin stretching from one ear to the other before he put an arm around Kotoha’s shoulders. ‘Takeru’s fine, don’t worry,’ he said cheerfully. ‘I’m pretty sure he’s not angry at you either. Just a little problem with nitric oxide.’