“Is it true you want to join us?”
The question makes Izaki want to laugh a little. Genji Takiya really is completely clueless. Naturally, the lesser minds of men such as Chuta and Makise would be drawn to such a man. One who thought little but fought lots.
“Yes. Under one condition,” Izaki stares at Genji’s face, a face currently scrunched in concentration, “I get to fight Serizawa when the time comes. Not you.”
He can see the way Genji’s eyebrows begin to arch into a frown, his eyes narrowed. Izaki is fully aware Genji is a formidable opponent, as he is aware of his own limits. He’d be no match for Genji- not by himself, anyway.
“What?” Genji’s voice is measured with anger and confusion, his gaze burning into Izaki’s own eyes with a deep ferocity. Izaki almost finds his resistance and stupidity endearing, if not slightly unbearable.
“What a naïve fool.”
When Genji acknowledges the footsteps behind him, his face remains in its scowl, if not amplified slightly. Izaki knows he’s probably been hit by this amount of men before and no doubt come back standing, he looks like the type. But it's only fair to see what he’s made of, what makes anyone want to join him. Izaki had never felt a particular pull to any of Suzuran’s top fighters. Serizawa, whilst an impressive fighter, lacked the motivation to truly make a change, too content with the people he was with to expand his horizons should he wish. The best way to see what men here are truly like is to watch them backed into a corner.
When he tells Genji there is no clean fight in war, he truly means it. Those who have a goal will follow it through to the bitter end. Perhaps for someone like Genji this means with his fists, only against those he deems as deserving of it. For Izaki it’s means to an end. Sometimes people have to make the difficult decisions.
By the time the rain has started falling, Genji’s display of unbridled ferocity becomes almost pitiful, in a slightly intimidating way. Izaki was certain at one point he wouldn’t get back up, but he did. There was something simultaneously disturbing and intriguing about watching him pull himself up from the dirty ground over and over, swinging recklessly.
“Okay. Who’s next?”
Izaki can see the way his men falter slightly, completely put off by the man standing in front of them with a face so obscured by bruises and grime he could very well be other-worldly. Some even step backwards as Genji flails violently, running on his last store of energy in a bizarre display of endurance. One of his guys clearly has had enough, smacking a cinderblock over Genji’s head with such force it shatters and yet, Genji stumbles towards him briefly, grabbing onto his jacket. Izaki thinks it’s the first time he’s felt true fear, until Genji slumps onto the floor with a faint groan.
By the time he reaches the classroom that Makise and Chuta are sitting in, the weight of Genji on his shoulder bites slightly but he cares little, walking into the room slowly as to not lose his balance. When he sees the fury on their faces he just doesn’t understand at all, he can’t understand.
“Why’d you follow this guy?” Izaki’s voice cuts through the silence, his hands in his pockets as he stares at Makise. “Don’t say it’s because he tried to get you laid.”
“No reason!” Makise blurts out, his gaze faltering slightly, “not one I can explain anyway.”
Ahh. Izaki thinks. He’s one of those kinds of leaders.
“Tell him tomorrow I’ll teach him how to throw darts.”
When Izaki walks out of the door, he is filled with a deep curiosity that he’s sure hasn’t inhabited him since he was a child. He’s almost nervous in his anticipation to see what Genji is truly like, to see how he inspires people.
The next few days are slightly surreal but welcome. Izaki rarely enjoyed the company of his class, he found their conversations boring and meaningless. Yet, in Genji’s new and fast-growing group, there was a healthy mix of people and a growing anticipation that made him excited. Change was good.
That is, until he lays his eyes on Tokaji Yuji. His stomach drops almost immediately, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. He knows that this is definitely not good. Where people may consider Izaki sly and unconventional, Tokaji often toed the line even closer than he did, willing to go much further than the average guy. Izaki knows in the back of his mind that he’s probably going to be made into a message of some description.
“There is no clean fight in a war,” Tokaji steps forward, cigarette between his fingers, “right?”
Izaki can hear the metal bats being dragged along the floor, more men spilling out of the building. He supposes he should find the entire thing funny. After all, hadn’t he been resolute that this was acceptable when he’d done the same thing to Genji? The semantics of the method didn’t change the fact it was from his book and he doesn’t doubt that’s why Tokaji did it. When the first hit lands on him, he’s resolute that Tokaji is going to pay for it regardless.
When his eyes open after what seems to be an eternity, the blood obscures his vision, the combination of his aching bones and elevated upside-down position making it hard to make sense of anything other than Genji’s voice and the hands prying him down from the rope around his ankle. When Genji demands they bring him down easy, Izaki is suddenly aware of Genji’s appeal. It had barely been days ago that Genji had woken up in a classroom after a similar beating, thanks to Izaki. Yet his hands are gentle as he rests Izaki’s head down, reminding the others to be careful. The pain he felt all over his body compared little to the tightness in his chest at the small gestures of care Genji was giving him, making him a combination of thankful and regretful. The only positive Izaki can conjure is that he wouldn’t be here with Genji if he hadn’t taken the steps he did in the first place.
“Oi, Izaki,” Genji growls, leaning over him with a face of fury, “who did this to you? Serizawa?”
Izaki knows any admittance would just lead to a fight that is too premature for them to win, no doubt Tokaji’s intention all along. Even if he’s coughing up blood, he has to admire his methods.
“No. I fell.” The cough that follows makes Izaki’s throat burn, his eyes blurring. He finds it funny how he can’t even resent Tokaji for it. It was only a mirror of his own destructive behaviour.
His fingers grip onto Genji’s arm, an attempt to stop a man he knows has the world’s worst temper.
“Stop. We’re outnumbered.”
Naturally that does little to stop Genji at all, in turn only increasing Izaki’s devotion to him in the long run. The build up to the fight between Serizawa’s army and GPS is turbulent, but Izaki feels a sense of calm. He is certain that when he meets Tokaji on the battlefield, he’s going to make him pay.
He wasn’t wrong in that regard, GPS’s victory had included the opportunity for him to land punches on Tokaji he’d practically dreamt about, revelling in their success.
A month later, when Tokaji corners him alone in an empty classroom, he isn’t surprised. He probably wants a rematch of some description, or to debate the authenticity of Serizawa’s loss. Izaki doesn’t particularly care. Whilst Tokaji may have a mind to rival his own, his temper certainly gets the better of him. Izaki finds it wholly unattractive on Genji, vaguely wondering why he finds the same trait attractive in Tokaji.
“I want a rematch.” His voice is low as usual, Izaki noting that he’d probably be able to recognise Tokaji’s voice anywhere due to its distinctive bass.
“Of course you do.” Izaki blows smoke in his direction, staring lazily at the man before him who took defeat so terribly.
Tokaji lunges forward, having the advantage of surprise, even if only a split-second window. He knows Izaki from his seated position on a desk, Izaki’s back now colliding with the floor in a way that winded him, a small gasp escaping as he choked for air. Tokaji wastes little time, lifting his fist to land the first blow while he has the chance. Izaki’s head moves sideways, Tokaji’s fist instead colliding with the floor, a small hiss of pain escaping. The fight that ensues next is messy and vicious, Izaki’s nails raking across Tokaji’s cheek when Tokaji’s hands pin him to the floor, Tokaji’s weight no doubt already forming bruises where his hands lay on Izaki’s wrists. The kicks and the punches are merciless and neither has a chance to jump upright onto their feet, rolling around on the floor with little care for the surroundings that were causing just as much damage as each other.
When Tokaji manages to fully pin him down to the floor, straddling his waist and rendering his arms useless as well, Izaki feels momentary panic before he resorts to whatever he can to win the fight. All is fair in war, after all.
When Izaki’s head moves upwards, Tokaji looks startled, attempting to pull himself back, clearly in anticipation of a headbutt. What he obviously wasn’t expecting was a kiss so ferocious he loses his grip on Izaki’s wrists, only just managing to maintain his position on top of Izaki.
“What the fuc-, “Izaki cuts him off, forcing all of his bodyweight upwards to roll Tokaji onto his back, the kiss only breaking when he leans backwards to look at his handiwork. When he sees Tokaji’s flushed neck, his dilated pupils, part of him is almost overwhelmed. He wonders if this is what it’s like for men like Genji who can’t stop fighting once they’ve started.
“There is no clean fight in war.” Izaki breathes, fingers digging into Tokaji’s side, the urge to elicit a reaction, any interaction, so strong it made him dizzy. Tokaji stares at him, silent for once, his eyes searching and inquisitive. It makes Izaki uncomfortable, the absence of barbed words and sharp wit.
Before Tokaji has a chance to ruin the moment, Izaki stands and leaves hastily. He’s positive Tokaji will tell no-one, because why would he?
“Where have you been?” Genji asks from his place on the couch, smoking as usual. He glances over his shoulder at Izaki, who sits at the other end of the couch quietly.
“Nowhere.” Izaki replies, hoping Genji suddenly hasn’t developed the ability to be perceptive. He doesn’t know why he feels guilty for a moment, thinking about Tokaji when he’s staring at Genji. The conflict in emotion makes his head hurt.
Perhaps the urge to help Genji to the top was to his own detriment. In pursuit of what made Genji a leader worth following only lead Izaki down a path he was so far-gone into there was no turning back now. When he stares at Genji’s face, the same frown that he had when they first met is there, but this time it makes Izaki hurt a little. Vaguely he is aware that Genji’s face is too angular for him, his cheekbones to pronounced. His eyes aren’t narrowed enough, there’s no perceptive and intrusive stare. The more Izaki stares, wondering who instead he is actually imagining, he realises his terrible mistake.
“So that’s why you follow him?”
There’s no mistaking the voice behind him, but Izaki turns anyway, not expecting Tokaji to be standing an inch away from his face. In hindsight, Tokaji isn’t the least attractive person he’d ever met. Izaki guesses their similar tactics are what set them at odds with each other in the first place, but where Izaki is as calm as a summers day, Tokaji rages like a storm. It was always bound to be a tumultuous relationship. Not that he’s even sure what kind of relationship this classes as.
“I beg your pardon?” Izaki replies, staring into Tokaji’s eyes, unphased.
“Do you follow Takiya because you love him, or did you follow him and then start loving him?” His voice is lower than usual, slightly hushed and raspy. It makes Izaki all the right kinds of uncomfortable.
“I don’t love Genji,” He states simply, giving Tokaji a calculated stare, “why. Are you jealous?”
Izaki expected a snort, some obnoxious laugh or expletives of some description to leave Tokaji’s mouth. Instead, Tokaji’s hand rests against the wall beside Izaki’s head, his face so close to Izaki’s own that he can see that Tokaji’s eyes aren’t just brown, there’s almost a reflection of a deep green. Izaki is transfixed when Tokaji’s lips brush against his own. The kiss is much softer than their first and yet there is a larger element of awkwardness to it, their teeth initially getting in the way and their heads having to adjust to an angle after being at an uncomfortable position. Briefly he wonders if Tokaji has kissed a man like this before, wondering why he feels jealous over a man that probably doesn’t exist.
The wind feels like it’s being knocked out of Izaki’s lungs all over again, the rush of the kiss and the accompanying revelation making his eyes blur slightly. Tokaji’s hand grips onto his hip, grounding him. Izaki wonders if his affections for Genji were just a smokescreen for his feelings for Tokaji, used to cover up something he felt somewhat guilty and ashamed about. How many men chased someone that had left them hanging upside down, beaten black and blue? He can barely tell, the bombardment of feelings all too intense to direct at one particular person. Tokaji’s eyes look uncertain and Izaki knows he’s bracing himself for the worst kind of rejection. His chest hurts slightly at the implication, but he can’t blame him. Izaki hardly knows what to do either.
“What do we do now?” It pains Izaki to put his trust in this man, even though it feels right it still unsettles him to leave so much of himself with someone else. Especially someone who knew him well enough to inflict the maximum amount of damage.
“I guess we just try.” Tokaji shrugs, his hand still resting on Izaki’s hip, an odd but comforting presence.
“Okay. Let’s try.”
If Genji disapproves of Tokaji’s presence on the roof, he’s not making it as obvious as Izaki expected he would. Admittedly, he does stare excessively, particularly at Tokaji’s hand resting over Izaki’s own. After a few seconds of staring gormlessly, Genji finally speaks.
“I thought you liked that freshman.”
Izaki can barely contain his laughter, Tokaji jumping a little at the sudden movement, the arm that is around Izaki’s shoulder jolting before dropping back to its original position. Izaki hides his head near Tokaji’s neck, aware that this level of intimacy and closeness is still new to them, but Tokaji, albeit slowly, wraps an arm around him and accepts him anyway.
“No, Genji.” Izaki replies, wiping at his eyes momentarily. Tokaji shakes his head, giving Izaki a look that clearly indicated his bewilderment at Genji’s stupidity.
Izaki can’t help but soften his gaze, taking time to appreciate Tokaji at his most relaxed. He now knows that Tokaji quite likes to maintain physical closeness and has no problem initiating it, which suits Izaki perfectly. Similarly, Tokaji knows Izaki still has his reservations, particularly when it comes to verbalising how he feels. Their entire relationship barely made sense to them, let alone anyone else. Izaki seeking comfort in the arms of someone who had helped hurt him was something Genji had said he couldn’t fathom. Izaki didn’t blame him. His head was still reeling over it all, thankful he had realised his misdirected feelings for Genji before he’d done something stupid.
He remembers Tokaji’s calm reaction when he’d told him.
“It’s not that unusual.” Tokaji breathes out smoke slowly, lay beside Izaki.
Izaki looks at him, truly looks, because now Tokaji is at his most vulnerable and so is he. The bedsheets are strewn haphazardly across the two of them, Tokaji content to lie there and smoke in his boxers. Izaki preferred to put his worn pair of joggers back on, always more susceptible to the cold, tucked by Tokaji’s side so closely there was barely a place that Izaki couldn’t feel Tokaji against him.
“Isn’t it?” Izaki rests his head near Tokaji’s shoulder, relaxing instantly when Tokaji’s free hand traces small lines down his bare back, making his hairs rise all over his body.
“Nothing about this is conventional. Why try to pretend like it is?” Tokaji says simply, kissing the top of Izaki’s head, “you admire him as a leader and care for him as a friend. I don’t mean to upset you when I say this but how many true friends did you have before Genji? It’s hardly surprising you couldn’t distinguish.”
Izaki hmms, not insulted but more surprised that Tokaji could so easily deduce what he couldn’t. In retrospect, it’s probably why he never resented Tokaji for anything he did.
“Thanks for understanding.” He hides his face in Tokaji’s neck once more, closing his eyes. When Tokaji simply hmms in response, Izaki allows himself to drift off, feeling oddly secure.
“Who’s the top though?” Manabu’s question makes Tokaji choke slightly, the movement of his chest making Izaki’s head shift downwards.
“Idiot. Genji is!” Makise exclaims, pointing at a bewildered Genji.
“But how-, “ Chuta begins, looking more confused by the second, looking around in complete shock.
“That’s not what I meant,” Manabu replies, cackling, “but it’s good to know you think Genji is a top.”