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Toe to Toe, Heart To Heart

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Their bodies were warm from the rush of the fight. Pants filled the space between them, and Kazumi was on top of him, so close the long hair tingled the edges of Banjou’s face. Banjou’s body still buzzed with something the fight hadn’t appeased, and Kazumi was so close -

“Ryuga,” he said, a hot breath of air against his face.

It’d be so long since he’d heard his own name. 

The kiss was not loving or gentle. Like everything they did, it was rough. Banjou wrapped a fist in Kazumi’s hair, and keened against his warm body. He moaned into his mouth, and in turn, Kazumi gave as good he got.

It has nothing to do with feelings. It was adrenaline, mostly, another way to let off steam together after a spar.

Kazumi understands that. Or at least Ryuga thinks he does, they have never talked about it. Neither of them are the type... There's nothing to talk about in the first place. 

;;

“Banjou,” Ryuga catches the sight of Sento’s mismatched shoes before he speaks, standing at the edge of the table where Ryuga’s hunched over a cup of instant ramen.

Yeah? Ryuga doesn’t actually say the word, just makes a grunt that sounds vaguely like it around a mouthful of noodles.

Sento understands, though.

He gives a dramatic sigh, and frowns as Banjou sucks the wet noodles into his mouth.

 “You know you can’t hide anything from a genius, right?”

Banjou thinks it for a moment.

“.. What are you talking about?”

 Instead of answering (because when was Sento ever direct with him?), Sento reaches out and presses the pad of his finger into a tender spot on Ryuga’s neck. The pressure makes him hiss.

 “Ow! Hey-“

 ... Ok, perhaps things had escalated a little beyond kissing.

 “I know you didn’t get that in battle.”

 A flush creeps up the back of Banjou’s neck. Banjou claps his hand over the bruise, and he feels just how warm the skin there has become. He avoids looking at Sento; he’s uncomfortably discerning and smug. Banjou loves Sento, he really does, but he enjoys bullying him way too much.

 “Just drop it, alright?”

 “You don’t have nearly as much faith in me as you say you do if you think I’m not smart enough to know what ‘sparring’ is code for.”

 “Hey, we do spar ...”

 “ ... And?”

 “C’mon, Sento, don’t be a jerk.”

 He relents, and gives another dramatic sigh before the smugness deflates from him. “Okay, fine... You know that despite the hard time I give you, I am your friend?”

 “I know.”

 In fact, friend may putting it lightly. Sento is Sento; Banjou knows those sharp words bely the heart of hero... It’s incredibly sappy, but Banjou doesn’t think there’s a word that exists to describe how deeply devoted he is to Kiryuu Sento.

 “I’m your friend, which means you can talk to me.”

 “I know, even though you’re kinda an ass... But there’s nothing to talk about.”

 “If you insist ... I must say, I am a little jealous though.”

 Banjou scowls at that.

 “Huh? Why?”

 “It’s not fair the sub-character gets a love interest and I don’t ...”

Banjou rolls his eyes and laughs.

 “You are an ass.”

;; 

It’s uncomplicated, and Banjou wants him to stay that way.

 “Oi, scoot over,” Banjou hears, when he’s halfway between sleep and consciousness. Kazumi is nudging his side insistently with his the tip of boot.

 Banjou screws his eyes shut and holds the blankets close to his chest, “Why? What time is it?”

 Kazumi doesn’t answer him. Banjou just hears the zipper of his boots, then feels a shift in mattress as Kazumi slides under the covers next to him.

 “What are you doing?”

 “Perhaps I’m tired of sleeping on a mat on the floor.”

 There’s no windows in the basement, but Banjou knows it’s late. His eyelids are so heavy; he’s right on the edge of sleep: something so precious with all that’s going on.

 “I guess,” he grumbles.

 Banjou doesn’t protest when Kazumi wraps an arm around him, either. He doesn’t have energy, and Kazumi’s chest is so warm and inviting.

 “Goodnight, Ryuga,” Kazumi mumbles into his neck.

 His breath tingles, and the sound of his name - his first name - so hushed and intimate causes a stir within him. He doesn’t think about it too much though, he’s asleep within the turn of the hour.

;;

The touches don’t stop after that, and Banjou lets it happens.

 He is a physical person, always has been, and admittedly, he becomes touch starved. Sento made it clear early on he likes his personal space, and Misora … Ryuga comforts her when he feels she really needs it, but otherwise, he fears he’s crossing her boundaries as well (Besides, he mostly comforts her Sawa now).

 He craves it: the head on his shoulder, the hand on the small of his  back, the warmth of another body. It’d been so long since he’d been touched like this, not since -

 He must be wearing his thoughts, because from behind him, Kazumi wraps a hand around his arm and squeezes his bicep.

 Banjou tilts his head back towards him.

 “If you want me to flex, just ask.”

 Kazumi snorts “What is it he calls you? Musclehead? I could wrap my fist around skinny little arms twice.”

 Despite the insult, his smile doesn’t waver. He gives a chortle of his own, “Like you’re any better.”

 Kazumi doesn’t reply, only smiles at him, before leaning forward to kiss him.

 It’s intimate, sweet, unlike any of the bruising kisses they’ve shared between spars.

 ;;

 Kazumi is his boyfriend.

 The realization comes up on him suddenly, when Kazumi laces their fingers together for the first time, and Banjou looks at Kazumi like he’s seen a ghost.

 “What?” Kazumi asks him. “Is this not okay?”

 Ryuga coughs, suddenly, to diffuse the tension. He feels warm, warmer than usual, and it’s sizzling his cheeks.

 “Yeah,” he says. The reply is quiet and thick, so he clears his throat. “It’s fine.”

 They should talk.

 When this is all over, they’ll talk.

 ;; 

 It’s not over, but it feels like it.

 Banjou’s collapsed against the wall, his face is in his hands, and his cheeks are wet. Banjou is strong, he always has been. His fists could get him out of most situations, even the war he fought with his blood and sweat, but this …

 Sento is gone.

 Kazumi crouches by his side, and gives a heavy, dramatic sigh.

 Ryuga wipes his face and looks up at him. He must look pathetic. He shakes his head, and looks away.

 “I’m just,” He pauses to take a deep breath, trying to collect his emotions before he continues to speak. “Tired of losing people.”

 “I know the feeling.”

 Banjou hears the jangle of his dog tags in his palm, and he winces.

 “Sorry. I know it’s not the same.”

 “Still, you lost someone you love before,” He says.

 “i know how it is,” he continues. “That feeling… it doesn’t leave so easily.”

 Kasumi. Is Kazumi trying to make him feel better or worse? Banjou hugs his legs to his chest, and presses his forehead to his knees, hoping that burying himself in the darkness there will remedy the sudden ache of guilt.

 “I’m fucking tired, Kazumi. Tired of losing people, tired of fighting, I just want to-“

 “Give up?”

 “To have him back. I can’t,” He takes a deep breath. His chest is so tight, he can barely get out the next words. “I can’t do this without him.”

 “I understand. I joined the fight to protect my country, now we’re fighting aliens … Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. If they were here, it’d be easier.”

 The confession soothes him. He fights for Sento’s sake only. He’s very firm in that, sometimes. Other times, he feels like he’s trying to be someone he’s not. The man Sento sees.

 A hero.

 He takes a deep breath, hoping this will be the one that stops this feeling, but he shudders with sobs instead.

“You love him,” Kazumi says. A casual observation.

“Yeah,” Banjou says into his knees. “Of course I do, but-”

He stops for a moment to consider. Is this the right time? Will there ever be a right time? With Sento, the knowledge they could die tomorrow seemed so far away. Sento was so bright, so confident; Ryuga was sure if they were together, they'd win. Him and Kazumi would get the chance to sort this out, whatever this was. But ... that was here reality. He should let Kazumi know how he feels now.

He lifts his head.

"Yes?" Kazumi asks. 

"He's not who I want to be with." 

Kazumi gives him a knowing smile. He puts his hand on his cheek. When they're alone, such tenderness is rare, but Banjou finds himself leaning into the touch, as always. His hand travels upward, pushing back his bangs. Kazumi leans forward and presses a kiss to his forehead.

"You don't need to say anything else. I know."  

;;

;;

;;

The next day, Kazumi jumps him in the park and punches him in the face.