hey so like, arb kind of validated me on how i like to think ichikuu reunion could go??? i’ve been on the fence posting fic since i’m not a writer and haven’t been one for like, eight years but 👉👈 i kinda feel good about it soooooo
i’ll share lol it's apparently around 3k words and i've been slowly chipping away at it for a year but it's a full fledged fic
tw: kuukou and ichiro have potty mouths lol, ichiro belatedly realising he’d been on his way to an anxiety attack but nothing graphic
‘Watching you and the other members of The Dirty Dawg come together was kind of like watching a clash of titans,’ Saburo had admitted to Ichiro on a rare Sunday morning where the fourteen year old was up before noon without Ichiro’s wake up call, despite mucking around on his computer long into the late night hours.
Ichiro, amused at the time, threw a smile at his brother as he set a small portion of fruit for him to sleepily nibble on while breakfast finished cooking. He wasn’t sure why Saburo’s sleep addled mind decided on this as his topic for discussion, but with his brother’s hero worship, Ichiro could follow his thought process.
Still, ‘Oh, yeah?’ Ichiro prompted, knowing Saburo had plenty more to say.
Saburo hummed, sleepily finishing his bite of mango and blueberry. ‘You probably don’t get it, since they were your old teammates but the tension was palpable, Ichi-nii. Even though you were just standing around, talking to each other, the air was charged; anybody could tell that you were each other’s fated opponents.’
Here, Saburo pouted, eyes flicking down as he recalled the scene,
‘Especially between you and Aohitsugi Samatoki. I felt paralysed the moment you looked at each other, never mind when you brought out your mics.’
At that, Ichiro had laughed sheepishly as he ruffled Saburo’s hair, apologising again for his behaviour that day.
That conversation on that arbitrary Sunday bubbled up to mind, unsurprisingly Ichiro supposed, as he stared at Harai Kuukou, standing not even twenty feet away from him, outside the walls of Chuuoku and found himself unable to breathe.
Ichiro could hear his heartbeat in his ears. Pain spiked from the meat of his palms as his nails bit into his flesh. His vision tunnelled in on Kuukou alone and Ichiro came to the startling realisation that he was a lot less prepared to see his old partner than he thought he was.
“Aniki?” Jiro’s voice filtered in, muffled, but close and it was enough to fend off what had been probably shaping up to be an anxiety attack. “What’s up? Why’d we stop?”
It was a simple query, one Ichiro didn’t have the voice to answer. It was fortunate, then, that at twenty feet away, Jiro’s voice carried out and brought Kuukou’s attention straight to him with laser focus.
Maybe it was having those bright, gold eyes on him again for the first time in two years (two years far too long) that pulled the air right out of him, and he breathed,
“…Ichiro,” Kuukou croaked, and his name sounded as if it had been gutted out from his core.
The two of them stared, shell-shocked, for what had to have been minutes stretched out to feel like hours. Ichiro found, however meagre it was, some solace in seeing that Kuukou, too, seemed to have been blindsided by their sudden encounter.
(A fated encounter sounded pretty apt, some distant part of Ichiro chimed in.)
“Master Kuukou,” a low, liltingly voice crooned by Kuukou’s shoulder as a tall, almost waif-like, man struck a rather dramatic pose behind him, “Is this an acquaintance of yours?” Almost simultaneously, Ichiro’s brothers made similar inquiries and Ichiro knew whatever spell had been cast upon them had broken when the shock on Kuukou’s face faded into something colder and unreadable.
The reality of the situation was just as much of a slap in the face.
They were outside the Chuuoku walls, the second division rap battle only days away. He and Kuukou were not reuniting as possible friends; he had his brothers as his team and Kuukou his own.
So when Kuukou scoffed and turned his back on him, Ichiro understood. This was just the nature of the game they were in.
“Let’s go, Jyushi, Hitoya,” Kuukou muttered as he marched away, ignoring his teammates annoyed grumbling and worried simpering.
Without even a word or a backwards glance at Ichiro.
It’s just the name of the game.
Rage, red hot and scathing, bubbled up anyway.
“So that’s it then?!” Ichiro thundered, his blood boiling as it carried him forward. He felt arms encircle his waist and and arms, his brothers’ worried shouts registering somewhere in the back of his mind but years of anger, frustration, confusion and hurt were pouring from every pore in his body and he couldn’t stop it even if he was able to.
“You show up again after all these years and don’t say shit huh?! You’re really just gonna run away again like a little bitch with its tail tucked underneath the balls you wish you had?!”
It was all heat of the moment bullshit Ichiro knew he wouldn’t be able to recall later. His anger burned too hot and smoked out everything that wasn’t Kuukou, making Kuukou acknowledge him, making Kuukou look at him, Kuukou, Kuukou, Kuukou—!!
Kuukou’s head swiveled sharp and the white hot anger in his eyes left Ichiro suddenly feeling like ice.
“Back the fuck off, Ichiro.”
Any words that he may have had left to say clogged in his throat and again, he watched Kuukou walk away from him.
(You’d think, after watching every single person you’d ever cared about throughout your lifetime turn their back to you and leave you behind, that you would get used to feeling adrift after, however short it had been, your heart had felt full.
It was a bitter thought.
Ichiro let that one stay buried.)
There wasn’t a place on his body that didn’t ache and every step he took felt heavy and sluggish; all signs pointed that Ichiro definitely shouldn’t be moving around but…
He’s had quite the weekend.
Turns out, with all his personal drama with Kuukou getting dragged to the surface, he’d forgotten that his father was also participating in the division rap battle. With Sasara, no less.
And to make matters more complicated, Samatoki specifically sought him out to…
Ichiro immediately compartmentalized that specific conversation to ruminate on another day when he wasn’t so exhausted, both physically and mentally.
Limping through the hotel’s automatic doors felt like an odd achievement but he relished it as he looked up into the Chuuoku night sky. He took in a deep breath of fresh air, some of the the tension immediately loosening his shoulders.
Yeah, this impromptu night stroll was about to do fucking wonders for him.
“Ohh, Ichiro! Just the man I wanted to see!”
What little smile had begun to form on his face, froze along with every other part of his body.
And as his luck would have it, there he was; Harai Kuukou once again not even twenty feet away, idly lounging on the hotel’s outdoor décor without a care in the world.
“K-Kuukou…” Ichiro stammered, shell-shocked and completely unable to process how wild this weekend continued to be. Given how Kuukou outright laughed at him, it was was probably showing on his face.
(Ichiro’s heart fluttered and his head oh so helpfully reminded him that it’s been two years since he last heard Kuukou’s laugh. Very helpful. Such an amazing thought to have. Seriously.)
Kuukou hopped off his resting spot, gait easy as can be as he approached Ichiro with a lazy grin. “So it been that kind of day, huh, Ichiro? Too bad I’m about to make it worse, hyahaha!” That smile slid off his face as he came to a stop in front of him, meeting his eyes as if he were throwing down a challenge.
“You wanted to talk; let’s talk. I got shit I need to tell you.”
And with that, Kuukou snatched up his hand and dragged Ichiro forward.
“Ow—what the hell—Kuukou, hey, wait a second—”
“Hyahaha, nah man! If I give you any time to think, you’re going to pussy out on me! Gotta strike when the iron’s still hot!”
He probably wasn’t wrong, Ichiro gave him begrudgingly and almost tripped on the final step out of the hotel property and into Chuuoku’s night life.
“Where are we even going?” he grumbled as he sped his pace up to prevent any more potentially hazardous missteps.
“I dunno? I’m kinda hungry so probably somewhere we can eat.”
“You do realize it’s after midnight, yeah? We’re underage; there can’t be many places that’d let us in.” Ichiro deadpanned absentmindedly, taking in the moving advertisements and bright lights, assorted from neon, to fluorescents, to warm yellows illuminating the multiple businesses still open along their path. Even the night life inside the walls shone brighter, Ichiro wearily scoffed.
“Yeah, but get this,” Kuukou looked over his shoulder and grinned, wide and cocksure, at Ichiro, who did his damnedest to not compare it to lights around them like a fucking sap. “We’re celebrities, Ichiro! Ain’t nobody gonna give a rat’s ass about a couple of brats when they’re famous and fair game for some casual ogling!”
Kuukou laughed, loud as was his characteristic, and again, Ichiro had to admit he was probably right.
He pouted at Kuukou’s back, knowing anything else he’d try to use to protest this happening now would only sound like flimsy excuses and privately gave in to letting Kuukou take him to wherever struck his fancy.
(He tried not to think about how little he actually minded getting pulled along to Kuukou’s pace right now. His face felt hot. God, he was embarrassing.)
Kuukou took him to a goddamn McDonald’s, effectively making their previous dispute moot. While it was a bit of a surprise the dining room was still open, their age definitely wasn’t a concern. The girl manning the register was starstruck, barely managing to greet them with her slack jaw. Given how the McDonald’s was virtually empty, she probably didn’t expect two well known men to waltz into the cheap dinery. Not that Kuukou noticed; his undivided attention was focused solely on the menu and figuring out what he wanted to eat.
Their orders were placed with little hassle, though it did take a little while to come out since Kuukou apparently was more than ‘kinda’ hungry and ordered quite a bit—
(“Damn, Kuukou, did you order the whole menu?”
“Shut up, let’s see you fight Jinguji Jakurai’s team and not come out feeling hungry as fuck.”),
—and took their spot next to a wide glass window on the second story the McDonald’s had to offer.
Kuukou immediately attacked one of his three burgers with gusto, and as he started to nibble on his order of Mega Potato fries, Ichiro took the time to just… look at Kuukou.
Though his face was littered with bandages from his time during the Division Rap Battle, he looked well. He didn’t change much at all, Ichiro observed upon his initial cursory sweep; his vibrant red hair was still short, his ears were still riddled with piercings, and he seemed to still favour wearing sukajan jackets that wound up a bit large on his frame.
The little things—changes—filtered through faster than Ichiro wanted to admit. He didn’t slick back his short fringe anymore. He seemed to have added to his piercings and changed the location of a few. His long eyelashes looked darker and more defined; he was wearing mascara, Ichiro thought with a faint amount of surprise. Gone was the plain coloured tee and his black school uniform trousers, replaced by monk robes. That neckline was… generous and Ichiro could tell Kuukou had bulked up a little bit compared to two years ago.
Two years was a long time, Ichiro thought to himself. Plenty of time to grow up and change with the different, separate lives they led. For instance, and he recalled the memory with stark clarity, the Kuukou he knew two years ago wouldn’t have been able to treat him with such cold indifference and walk away from the fight he was trying to pick with him a few days ago.
That was the most unsettling change, Ichiro thought. It was that, that made him realise he didn’t know this Kuukou at all.
Ichiro’s jaw tightened.
He likened it to watching a train wreck in the making; Ichiro couldn’t stop himself from starting over from the top to find any other changes he could discern, only to find Kuukou’s eyes watching him right back.
Ichiro startled, and nearly choked on his fry. He broke eye contact long to chug half his cup of coke to stave off a coughing fit but Kuukou was still staring at him when he returned his attention back to him. He could feel a blush burn his face and he scowled at Kuukou, as if it would cover it up or something.
“…What’re you looking at?” Ichiro grouched, sliding down in his seat and subtly trying to hide his face in his hood.
He expected Kuukou to mock Ichiro for obviously not being able handle what he dished out, but Kuukou merely shrugged.
“You look well, ‘s all.”
Ichiro didn’t respond.
Kuukou leaned back in his chair after stuffing the last bite of… his last burger (damn) and haphazardly flicking the wrapper on his tray. He turned to look out the window, gaze pensive, and Ichiro recognized the motion for what it was; he was trying to give himself time to think as he finished chewing his last bite.
…Kuukou from two years ago wouldn’t have stopped to consider his words at all, something ugly within him whispered.
“I ain’t… gonna apologise for the other day,” Kuukou started haltingly, gaze still focused out the window. “I didn’t want to air out our dirty laundry in front of my team and your little bros since that shit should stay between you and me. I know you wouldn’t have wanted that either, even though your temper is still stupid short.”
Ichiro scoffed internally. Pot, meet kettle, he privately thought, but kept it to himself. Kuukou wasn’t done.
“But,” he faced Ichiro again as a hand came up to rub the back of his neck. His gaze remained on the window though. “I wanted to apologise for the shit that went down between us those two years ago.”
Ichiro’s brows flew high.
“I said a lot bullshit, and even though I didn’t mean any of it, it still happened because I was weak,” Kuukou spat out with a nasty sneer, venom oozing from every word and every ounce of it directed at himself. Ichiro could tell— self-loathing was a familiar companion; seeing it on Kuukou, however. That was jarring.
But a steely resolve smoothed Kuukou’s features as he met Ichiro’s gaze, whatever conviction he was swearing giving his gold eyes an almost unearthly glow.
“I’m sorry. And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that shit doesn’t happen again.”
And that was that.
Kuukou was obviously done with sharing his feelings as he snatched up a milkshake he ordered and noisily began to slurp down, as if he hadn’t just shaken Ichiro to the core with just a few short sentences.
He hadn’t meant any of it?
Kuukou left him because he was weak?
Is… he willingly to be friends again?
For all that Kuukou managed to say, Ichiro still felt like he had a bunch of questions. There was something about Kuukou that hadn’t changed in two years; he always said something meaningful and impactful but still had you wondering what all he was saying.
Oddly enough, that fact, something so core to who Kuukou was, had Ichiro laughing quietly, relief flowing through him.
Kuukou paused from downing his large milkshake in one go and squinted a glare at him, “What’re you laughing at?”
“Nothing at all,” Ichiro said lightly, a smile playing on his lips as he watched Kuukou warmly, “Just… glad to know you haven’t changed too much.”
Kuukou looked briefly taken aback, before a sly grin stretched across his face. “Well, I can’t say the same for you. Have you become even more of a softie since the last time I saw you? Or even looked at a pair of scissors? That’s a full ass mullet you’re rocking.”
Ichiro chuckled, somewhat self-consciously, until he felt a gentle tap on his foot from under the table. Ichiro fixed Kuukou with a wide stare as Kuukou met his eyes with a kinder smile.
Kuukou crossed their ankles together.
“It is the nature of all things to change. We say all things must come to an end and that is certainly true; but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s over.
“Our time as the Naughty Busters is over. And we can’t ever go back to those times.”
And yet, he flashed Ichiro a bright grin.
“That doesn’t mean we, Ichiro and Kuukou, have to be over though. We’ve grown up a little and that’s not a bad thing. Just means we’ve experienced different things, lost some things and can come together to teach each other what we’ve learned.
“They say two halves of a broken sword reforged with gold makes a stronger sword. I think we can make that work for us too.”
Ichiro didn’t know how he wasn’t crying right now. Honestly, he was pretty sure his eyes were misting over. He choked out another laugh, and croaked out through the thickness he felt in his throat,
“I can’t tell if that was some of your made up inspirational poster bullshit anymore so yeah, I guess some things have changed after all, huh?”
That had Kuukou crowing with laughter as he chucked one of his food wrappers at Ichiro, “Fuckass, my shit’s always legit and always has been! Let’s see if I still play nice after this!”
“I didn’t even know ‘playing nice’ was even in your vocabulary,” Ichiro teased, lightly kicking at Kuukou’s feet and internally gave up at not feeling disgustingly warm and happy that Kuukou once again was by his side.
He still had plenty to say to Kuukou. But at this moment, Ichiro had a feeling everything would turn out alright.
(And they did talk some more.
Ichiro laid out everything he felt about their break up and everything that followed. And perhaps as Kuukou’s way of playing on even ground, he shared his own feelings. None of it was very pretty nor easy.
But in the wee hours of the morning, as they joked and laughed through the streets of Chuuoku and quietly exchanged numbers in the lobby of their hotel—
It felt like they had a pretty good start on their new relationship.)
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