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Rubber and Mochi

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“Oi! Mochi-man!”

Mochi man? Was that really what Luffy remembered him as? Their fight had spanned hours, had drained him, had been the most difficult and taxing fight he had ever experienced. He’d been utterly exhausted both mentally and physically, had every single fear and worry and secret torn from him without mercy until his strongest enemy knew more about him than his closest brothers ever did.

It was cold.

It hurt.

His mind had slipped, so he didn’t sense Luffy’s arms until they were wrapped tight around him. Luffy himself was next, slamming into his chest with considerable force.

He’d rocketed himself all the way over from the other side of the plaza. Katakuri managed to keep himself upright with considerable control, moving to shake his arms free, but Luffy held on tight. His rubber limbs kept squeezing, as if he was trying to crush him like he had during his snake-man transformation, but this was far less…painful?

The boy’s skin was warm against his. The pressure was strong, but harmless. What was this?

“Mochi-man!”

That voice was so much brighter than he remembered, so much happier than when they had been bleeding out together in a world full of sharp glass and broken walls. Luffy wasn’t letting go...Luffy was hugging him.

“Hey!” Luffy grinned, and gods, but that smile was blinding. “It’s good to see you!”

He was…warm, inside. It felt nice.

“It’s good to see you too.”