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no rules in breakable heaven

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All in all, it isn’t one of Daniel’s better ideas - but at least he can recognize that, right? Like, he’s not one of those total assholes who does asshole things and then doesn’t even realize he’s being an asshole, ok.

 

It’s still not great, though. He didn’t want to end things with Ali. He was happy with her. He…thought she was happy with him. And - ok - she was, in the end, and that football dude really was just a friend, but by then, the damage had already been done.

 

Jesus, Daniel’s such a fucking idiot. And he just had to get into it with her right before driving home to face his mother, didn’t he.

 

In any case, Daniel is not going home to see Ma, because the only thing on his mind right now is drowning his (pretty impressive) sorrows in way way wayyyyyyy too much alcohol. You know, like any rational-minded person would do. Daniel’s rational. He’s so totally being rational here.


Honestly, he’s just thankful his shitty fake ID gets a chance to work this time around. Usually, the convenience store clerks take one look at Daniel’s round face and baby browns hovering over by the beer in the back, and tell him to fuck right off and away from there. The girl here - she’s high, though. She’s, like, not even here at all. And so she rings up Daniel’s booze without a word, nodding her head aimlessly to the cheap pop playing over the speakers and barely throwing Daniel a second glance.

 

At least one thing decided to side with Daniel tonight. He grabs his six-pack and a bag of jalapeño chips, coughs way too much because he can’t handle his spice, like, at all, and washes it down with really, really bad beer. 

 

But still enough beer to get him suitably wasted, which is exactly what he was going for. And he’s just thinkin’ he’d better sleep it off in his car or catch a ride home from somebody else, when a big truckload of college footballers rolls up, and Daniel accidentally spills his drink on someone’s pristine white sneakers.

 

“The fuck’s your problem, pipsqueak?” the dude growls, and his buddies all back him up, and shit, all right, Daniel didn’t want to end tonight face-down in front of a 7/11, he really really didn’t.

 

The first punch hurts like a motherfucker. And, sure, Daniel tries to fight back, he’s the All-Valley champ and he can do a mean crane kick to every single one of these guys’ meaty little heads, but he’s also plastered, and his girlfriend just broke up with him, and his game is totally off, and so he gets it bad, barely manages to curl up in a pathetic ball on the ground or even really block anything while the guys whale on him - and at least on the beach, it was fair, one-against-one, and Daniel was in his right and sober mind, even if he didn’t know shit about karate or even boxing Muhammad Ali-style.

 

So he really is going to end the night face-down in front of a goddamn 7/11 - which he later thinks he would have actually preferred, because the alternative is much, much worse.

 

All of a sudden there’s this flash of gold out of the corner of Daniel’s eye, and then the football dicks are leaving him alone because they’re distracted by something else, and Daniel wants to watch it go down, wants to watch these fuckers get what’s coming to them, but everything hurts and he thinks he’s actually pretty close to passing out instead. He can’t see much through the bleary haze covering his eyeballs, but he can hear his mystery savior defending Daniel’s honor pretty well, all things considered, and from the sounds of all the yells and grunts, it seems like they’re winning.

 

Then there’s some more shouting - a couple of words screamed loud enough that Daniel knows if his mother were here, she’d be crossing herself - then a car engine starts, and the unmistakable sound of a pick-up truck wheeling out of a parking lot screeches, fades, and then disappears.

 

A shadow falls over Daniel’s face.

 

“Jesus Christ, LaRusso,” Johnny fucking Lawrence says. “You look like shit.”

 

Daniel’s going to throw up.

 

“‘M gonna throw up,” he manages to eke out in a humiliatingly frail tone, and Johnny curses, yanks Daniel up by the scruff of his neck and shoves his face unceremoniously towards the bushes. Daniel’s puke tastes like jalapeño Budweiser and it’s really fucking unpleasant, the way it lingers in the back of his throat, but he’s got bigger things to worry about right now. Much bigger.

 

“The fuck are you doing here?” Daniel asks, slumping against the brick wall of the store. The lights in the parking lot are too bright, and he’s still having trouble focusing on Johnny’s stupid face.

 

“Hey, you’re welcome,” Johnny snaps. He looks the same as he always did, still with the golden locks, still with the bright red jacket - but there’s no band tied around his head, and someone’s carelessly torn the cobra insignia from the jacket’s breast, leaving a lighter-toned, ragged patch of leather. “Someone had to save your sorry ass from getting murdered. What’d you do, steal one of their girls?”

 

Daniel closes his eyes, shakes his head. “I didn’t steal her from you, man,” he says tiredly, for what must be the trillionth time, and then, “She broke up with me.”

 

A beat.

 

“Shit,” Johnny says mildly, and then, “You’re not fucking driving home like this, I’ll tell you that much.” He pulls Daniel jerkily to his feet, and Daniel’s stomach lurches, gurgles, settles again. “Come on,” Johnny sighs, like it pains him to form the words. “I guess I’m taking you back to your shitty Reseda apartment.”

 

Daniel’s foggy brain suddenly fills itself with panic. “Hey, no - Look, my Ma’ll kill me if she sees me like this, man. Don’t take me home.”

 

“Well, I’m sure as shit not taking you back to my place,” Johnny says, snorting disdainfully. “Where the fuck do you wanna go?”

 

Daniel takes a step forward, staggers. Johnny catches him around the waist, hauls him back up and doesn’t let go of him. 

 

Daniel fucking hates that.

 

“I got a place,” he mutters. “But we’re takin’ my car. ‘M’not leavin’ her here overnight.”

 

The way Johnny rolls his eyes should be made illegal, the dick. “Whatever you say, LaRusso.”

 

 

— — — 

 

 

This is your dojo?” Johnny asks incredulously, eyebrows raised to his hairline.

 

“Yeah,” Daniel says, staggering his way through the gate and up to the house. “So?

 

“Gimme that,” Johnny mutters, snatching the fumbled key out of Daniel’s hands and unlocking the door. He surveys the room, and the unimpressed look on his face sort of makes Daniel - even through his foggy brain - really want to punch him in the nose.

 

So,” Johnny continues, shaking his head scornfully. “Where are the punching bags? The training dummies? The tennis ball machines?”

 

Daniel doesn’t even want to know what that means. “It’s traditional,” he says. “Okinawan.” And he trips over his own two feet and lands on the mat, hard.

 

Johnny laughs. “You’re wasted, dude.”

 

“Gee,” Daniel mutters into the floor. “I had no idea.

 

He thinks he might just fall asleep right here, but Johnny hauls him up, props him against the wall and hands him a glass of water. Daniel takes small sips and wonders if he’ll even remember this stupid situation through the splitting migraine he’s sure to have in the morning.

 

Johnny watches him. “What’s that mean?” he asks. “Okinawan.”

 

Daniel rolls his eyes. “’S’where Mr. Miyagi’s from. It’s an island, off Japan.”

 

My sensei was from San Fran,” Johnny says, like Daniel gives a shit. “‘Nam vet.”

 

Daniel scoffs. “Makes sense,” he mumbles, and forgets taking it slow to down the whole rest of his glass in one go. He winces, sets the empty glass down, and almost forgets to open his eyes again.

 

“What are you still doing here?” he asks Johnny.

 

The asshole in question shrugs. “Someone’s gotta stick around you and make sure you don’t go the same way Bon Scott did,” he says. “You know, choking on - “

 

“ - on his own vomit,” Daniel finishes. “Yeah, I know. I listen to AC/DC.”

 

“Great,” Johnny says. “So I guess I’ll be burning all my tapes of them when I get home.”

 

Daniel flips him off lazily. “Why would you care, anyway?” he asks, half-way serious. “About me. Thought you wanted me dead.”

 

“I do,” Johnny says persistently, and Daniel really, really hates that this fucker is completely sober right now, and he’s not. “But I also don’t need to be the last person seen with you when the cops investigate your shrimpy dead body.”

 

Daniel huffs. “So you’re just gonna stand there all night?”

 

Johnny reaches into his pocket. “I’ve got my Walkman,” he says, and you know what, good, now Daniel doesn’t have to worry about fucking talking to him. He can just refill his glass and try to fight off the poorly-induced drunkenness that he’s got going on right now. 

 

This is so fucking dumb.

 

Johnny barely makes it through two so-loud-Daniel-can-hear-it-through-the-headphones Guns ’N Roses tracks before he’s tossing his Walkman to the side and going, “So why’d you break up, then?”

 

“No,” Daniel says firmly. “I am not having this conversation with you.”

 

“If you cheated, I’ll beat your ass,” Johnny says threateningly, and Daniel shakes his head. 

 

“No, I didn’t - I’d never do that to her,” he says truthfully, and Johnny nods begrudgingly. 

 

“All right,” he concedes, and they may both be assholes, but at least neither of them has sunken low enough - not even Johnny - to be a cheating asshole.

 

After a moment, Johnny goes, “So?”

 

Daniel closes his eyes. “You’re gonna think it’s hilarious.”

 

“Probably,” Johnny says, glee seeping into his tone. “C’mon, man, the suspense is killin’ me, here.”

 

Daniel grits his teeth so hard he thinks he hears them creak. “She was talking to some jack-off UCLA football player,” he says. “And they were really close. I thought she wanted him.” He shrugs, eyes still shut. “I was wrong about that.”

 

Johnny guffaws so loud, Daniel jerks alive again. “You’re fucking kidding me,” Johnny says, grinning toothily because he’s the worst. “So she broke up with you for the same exact reason she broke up with me.”

 

“Hey,” Daniel says heatedly. “You weren’t dating when we met - “

 

Johnny waves his hand carelessly. “Semantics,” he says, which is not a word Daniel assumed he knew. “You picked a fight with me for breathing down Ali’s neck and then you did the same exact thing.”

 

Daniel chooses to ignore that particular (very true) remark. “You started that fight, I’ll remind you - “

 

“Holy shit,” Johnny snickers. “I don’t know if it’s the beer or what, but dude, your Jersey accent comes out strong when you’re pissed.”

 

Daniel shoots him a withering glance, and then - 

 

“Hey, I’m walkin’, here,” he says, and they both burst out into peals of rocky, delirious laughter.

 

It feels so weird doing this, but Daniel is still pretty out of it and everything sucks right now, anyway. Why shouldn’t he get hammered after breaking up with his girlfriend? Why shouldn’t Johnny Lawrence save his ass from a fight and take care of him? Why shouldn’t Daniel and his mortal fucking enemy be sitting here on the floor of Mr. Miyagi’s dojo and laughing together over something that isn’t even funny, when they’re supposed to hate each other’s guts?

 

And Daniel does hate Johnny Lawrence’s guts, no question. Nothing’s changed there, and nothing ever will.

 

Johnny stops laughing first, glances over at Daniel and says, “You re-opened that cut over your eyebrow, dumbass,” and before Daniel can register what’s happening, Johnny’s reaching over to dab at Daniel’s forehead with a towel, his face just inches from Daniel’s.

 

Suddenly, Daniel can’t breathe. But that probably has something to do with how fucked-up his ribs are right now.

 

“I hate you,” he tells Johnny, his voice barely above a whisper.

 

“Yeah,” Johnny replies, just as quietly. “I know.”

 

Then he moves away again, and Daniel puts his head on the ground and falls asleep. When he wakes up, Johnny is gone, the morning light’s splintering into his skull like shards of broken glass, and Mr. Miyagi is hovering over him, looking way too amused for his own good.

 

“Come,” he tells Daniel, pulling him up. “Mother is worried sick.”

 

— — — 

 

 

Ma grounds him from driving for two weeks. Which is like, fine, whatever. The car holds bad memories of Ali, anyway.

 

It is a little humiliating that Ma has to give him a ride to the dojo, though, and Mr. Miyagi likes to remind Daniel of that fact, a lot.

 

Ugh. At least Daniel’s story of tripping and hitting his head on the deck of the garden held up with Ma, because she’d kill him if she knew he was fighting outside of karate again.

 

Not that he is. Doing that, he means. It was one time. And he didn’t even get a chance to defend himself, so.

 

Mr. Miyagi doesn’t buy that bullshit, but that was to be expected. Daniel gave up on trying to fool him the last time he and Ma tried to throw him a surprise birthday party.

 

“Cobra Kai again?” he asks, studying Daniel’s black eye skeptically, and Daniel thinks about Johnny and says, “Nah, not them. Not since the All-Valley.”

 

Mr. Miyagi nods in understanding. “Mistake?”

 

“Mistake,” Daniel agrees.

 

He doesn’t see Johnny again for the entire time he’s grounded. He wasn’t expecting to, not really, but it’s just - you’d think that the guy would maybe check up on him or something, wouldn’t you? Make sure Daniel’s brain hasn’t hemorrhaged or he hasn’t died of internal bleeding or whatever. Right?

 

Not like Daniel wants to see Johnny again, though. The guy’s a total jerk-off. Totally.

 

Anyway, once he gets his car back, he drives past the old Cobra Kai dojo, just to see. But no one’s there, the windows are boarded up, and the snake on the front looks all faded and unkempt. No one - not even John Kreese - has been here, not for a while.

 

It’s for the best, Daniel tells himself. Obviously.

 

He keeps catching flashes of golden hair out of the corner of his eye at the beach - it’s never who he thinks it is, though. Not even once.

 

Not that he, like, wants it to be, though. Hell no. Duh.

 

Daniel left his fucking favorite hoodie at Ali’s house, he realizes, on a sticky Sunday afternoon where it’s too hot to do anything, let alone think. Which is a fucking shame, because it’s not even cool enough to wear that hoodie right now and he’d been keeping it at her place on purpose, just in case he got cold and forgot to bring something else, but now he really wants it back.

 

So he tells his Ma he’s going out and sets his course for Encino. He hasn’t driven this way since the fight, and when he passes the 7/11, he has to grimace at the memory. Johnny’s stupid red Firebird isn’t in the parking lot when he looks, which is a good thing. Asshole should stick to his mansions and (presumably now charred) AC/DC cassettes.

 

It’s only when Daniel rounds onto Ali’s street that he understands the real fucking problem here.

 

Johnny’s stupid Firebird isn’t parked in the 7/11 lot, because it’s sitting right outside Ali’s house, the top rolled down with no one inside it.

 

Motherfucker.

 

Daniel bites down on the inside of his cheek, hard, and storms up the driveway.

 

And of course it’s Johnny who answers the door, the shithead, and his smile falls and his eyes flicker and he goes, like an idiot, “LaRusso?”

 

“Yeah,” Daniel seethes. “Left something here. Need it back.”

 

Johnny swallows. Daniel definitely doesn’t stare at the movement of his throat. “Right. Yeah, ok.”

 

“Johnny, who is it?” somebody says, and then Daniel’s heart is plummeting as Ali appears at Johnny’s side, and she scowls.

 

“Oh, it’s you,” she says sullenly. “What do you want.”

 

“My jacket,” Daniel returns, just as sullen, and Ali rolls her eyes and disappears again, leaving Johnny and Daniel alone.

 

“What are you doing here?” Daniel demands, because he’s got a right to ask, ok?

 

Johnny shifts, semi-awkwardly. “Look, we’re not - I’m not back with her, or anything. Sometimes I have lunch. With her and her parents.”

 

Daniel huffs. “Of course. They’ll eat with you, ‘cause you’re just another Encino kid.”

 

Johnny’s brow furrows. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

God, you’re an idiot,” Daniel hisses, but any retort on Johnny’s part falls silent as Ali returns, tossing the wadded-up hoodie directly at Daniel’s face.

 

“Nice bruise,” she says. “If you two fight, don’t get blood on my front porch.”

 

Then she leaves again, and Daniel feels even stupider than he did coming up here.

 

Johnny sighs. “Look, LaRusso - “

 

“Save it,” Daniel says heatedly. “See you around, Johnny.”

 

When he gets back in his car, he slams his fists onto the dashboard a few more times than Mr. Miyagi would approve of.

 

 

— — — 

 

 

Mr. Miyagi’s going out to Anaheim, for a bit. Apparently, he’s got some friend there whose mother just died, and he asks Daniel to house-sit while he’s gone for the week.

 

“Don’t have to sleep here,” he tells Daniel. “Just come by, once a day. Care for bonsais. Sweep the deck.”

 

And yeah, it’s really not that much work, but Ma’s been kinda breathing down his neck lately about the break-up, and about college, and Daniel doesn’t wanna deal with that more than he has to. 

 

So sleeping at the dojo, it is. He can lay a bedroll out on the floor and cook boxed macaroni and cheese on the tiny hibachi stove in the tiny pot, and he can be totally, totally alone.

 

…That is, until someone knocks on the door at seven PM, and Daniel hates that he knows who it’ll be, hates that it’s who he wants it to be.

 

“How’d you know I was here?” he asks bluntly, not stepping aside to let Johnny in. If he does that, then Johnny wins, the fucker.

 

Johnny scrubs at the back of his neck. He isn’t making eye contact, and it’s weird. “Stopped by your place. Your Ma let me know where you were.”

 

Daniel raises his eyebrows. “She actually talked to you?”

 

“I had to swear up-and-down, on my mother’s grave, on God, on Jesus, on everything that I wasn’t comin’ to beat you up.” Johnny shrugs. “And I still don’t think she believed me, but I think she knows you can hold your own, now. Or whatever.” He peers past Daniel’s shoulder, jamming his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Old man around?”

 

“I’m house-sitting for the week,” Daniel says. “Get lost, Johnny.”

 

And then there’s this moment where they both kinda look at each other, and - 

 

“Nah,” Johnny says, and pushes Daniel aside to get in.

 

They end up ordering a pizza and it’s honestly not the worst thing in the world, which is stupid. But Daniel - Daniel’s like, still pretty pissed at him, so while they wait for the pie to arrive, he shoves Johnny up against the wall, arm pressed to his chest, and says, “You’re a dick.”

 

Johnny snorts. “No shit, LaRusso.”

 

“Stay away from Ali,” Daniel seethes, even though it’s totally moot at this point and he knows it, knows that Ali doesn’t want him around anymore and he needs to fucking deal with that.

 

“Right back at ya, asshole,” Johnny retorts, and Daniel - 

 

Daniel laughs. And he just can’t stop laughing at it, it’s so fucking dumb.

 

“LaRusso?” Johnny says, and then, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” And then Daniel moves his arm away and falls to the ground, clutching his gut, and soon Johnny’s joining him, and he’s laughing, too.

 

“You’re the worst,” he wheezes through choked-up lungs, and Daniel howls and smacks Johnny on the shoulder, tears springing to his eyes. 

 

It’s not even funny, that’s the thing. It’s not even funny at all.

 

And when they finally calm down, their faces are so close that Daniel can count each and every one of the tiny freckles scattered across the bridge of Johnny’s nose. There’s more than he thought, definitely more than he’s ever noticed before. Johnny’s eyes are really fucking blue.

 

Daniel,” Johnny says, whispers out, basically, and Daniel’s blood roars, his head pounds, that’s the first time Johnny’s ever called him by his first name, that’s the first time he’s ever done that, what the fuck. 

 

Daniel’s breath hitches.

 

Johnny moves away. “Wanna smoke this?” And he pulls a plastic baggie full of weed out of his jacket pocket.

 

Daniel’s so stoned when the pizza delivery girl gets there that it takes him about three minutes to sort out a tip; Johnny pushes him back inside, passes the joint, and pays off the rest of the food. It’s pretty funny. It’s pretty fucking funny, that’s all Daniel’s gonna say on the matter.

 

Johnny eats his pizza unfolded like a fucking loser. Daniel expected it, but it’s still disappointing as hell to witness first-hand. He folds his own pizza length-wise, Jersey-style, and for some reason, Johnny seems to be under the impression that this is the absolute funniest fucking thing on Earth.

 

“The fuck is wrong with you?” he snorts, for the second time that night. “That is so not how you eat pizza, LaRusso.”

 

Oh, so it’s back to last names, then. Daniel would never admit it, but he can’t pretend that doesn’t sting. 

 

“Die,” Daniel fires back through a mouthful of slice. “Fall on the ground and die, Johnny.”

 

“Yeah.” Johnny’s closer to him, nodding all emphatically now, his eyes trained on an invisible spot somewhere past Daniel’s left shoulder. “Yeah, man, let’s do it.”

 

And Daniel never said he would die, too, but the whole thing feels like one of those unspoken agreements, anyway.

 

“Ok, fine,” he says, tossing the remains of his crust into the box. “All right. Let’s go outside. Let’s go out to the yard, we’ll spar.”

 

So they do. It’s so awful and hot out there, even at night; Daniel feels the humid sweat begin to collect at his brow in seconds, and he has this brief, flickering thought of, Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. 

 

But Johnny doesn’t give a shit about the temperature, and he strips his t-shirt off with ease, so Daniel - because he’s an idiot or something, he doesn’t know - follows suit, lets his bare feet brush against the cool grass and says, “You’re fucked, man. You’re so fucked.”

 

Johnny rolls his eyes. He’s tan, Daniel notices. Probably been spending a lot of time down at the beach, at the pool. His bangs are just a little too long -  he’s due for a haircut - and Johnny tosses his head slightly, flipping them to the side. He joins Daniel in the grass and raises his fists, falling back into a fighting stance. Daniel mirrors him. 

 

And then they just kind of stand there, for a second, watching each other, waiting for someone to make the first move, and neither of them are doing it. For some stupid fucking reason, neither of them are striking first - not even Cobra Kai Johnny.

 

“Don’t even think about another head-kick,” Johnny growls, tossing his bangs again, and Daniel arranges himself into the position without a second thought, lifting one leg up and his arms above his head. He’s blazed, though, so his balance is kind of shit, and it takes him a couple tries to really get it going.

 

“You’re such a little shit, LaRusso,” Johnny says, and Daniel snorts. 

 

“Yeah,” he says, and he shoots a silent apology to Mr. Miyagi in advance. “And this little shit kicked your ass.

 

He lashes out with his leg, faster than he thought he’d be able to, given the circumstances, and Johnny dodges. He ducks out of the way, like a mongoose, blonde hair flashing, and Daniel stumbles back to the ground just in time to block Johnny’s hit, mere inches from his nose. 

 

Johnny’s eyes gleam - for just a second, the way they gleamed that night on the beach, with Ali, and the radio - and Daniel suddenly feels just so enraged. He’s sure Johnny can feel it, too, he knows it, and Johnny bats away Daniel’s next jab, the corners of his lips turning down into a familiar sneer. Daniel socks him in the shoulder, grunts when Johnny gets him in the solar plexus, and he’s just about to throw his arms up to defend himself again when some part of his pot-addled mind thinks, Nah, fuck it, and Daniel launches himself at Johnny’s body and tackles him to the ground like he’s some sort of fucking football player.

 

It hurts. It was a really dumb thing to do. Johnny hit his head and Daniel’s pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to land on his bad knee like that, but he ignores the pain because he’s got the whole wide expanse of Johnny’s torso beneath him, and he is going to cover it in bruises. 

 

And Johnny, seething, props himself up on his elbows, and - 

 

“LaRusso,” he says, voice low and rough. “LaRusso. You’re on top of me.”

 

Daniel’s on top of him. His lungs are heaving, and his head is pounding, and his legs are braced on either side of Johnny’s hips, and he’s only just now realizing all of this. Slowly, his fists un-ball themselves, relax until his palms lie flat on the rising, falling plains of Johnny’s bare chest, and Daniel can’t say anything until he can say, “So what.”

 

Johnny shakes his head, pushes his body further up so that Daniel is basically in his lap - and kisses him. 

 

Daniel’s brain kicks in two seconds later; as his brain, it should really be telling him to do the most sensical thing here, to shove Johnny back and to run far, far away, but it’s not telling him that at all. It’s like Daniel’s brain wants this to happen, has been waiting for it without even knowing it, and suddenly Daniel’s hands are fisted in Johnny’s hair, suddenly Daniel is kissing Johnny back.

 

Johnny’s hands end up on Daniel’s shoulders, strong and warm there, and he - he sighs against Daniel’s lips like he’s some kind of lady in a fucking romance novel, or a shitty soap that Daniel’s Nonna likes to binge. But he can’t think about his Nonna right now, fuck no, Daniel is too busy kissing Johnny Lawrence, and the worst thing about it is that Johnny is good at this.

 

Which is just. Infuriating. That Ali got to do this for so long and Daniel didn’t.

 

Johnny tastes like weed, pizza, and citrus. It’s not a particularly pleasant combination, but right now Daniel doesn’t care - he probably tastes worse, anyway, but Johnny’s still kissing him, Johnny’s lips are still moving and parting against Daniel’s own. Daniel’s heart feels like it’s going to beat out of his chest, burst out of his skin and cover the whole sweaty scene in blood and viscera and gore, and the problem is - the fucking problem is that Daniel thinks he would still keep kissing Johnny, even if that were to happen.

 

“Daniel, Daniel,” Johnny’s saying, words ghosting out against Daniel’s mouth, and he just keeps saying it, Daniel Daniel Daniel, until Daniel says back, “Johnny.

 

And Johnny stiffens. Pulls away. And before Daniel can even give him a what-the-fuck glance, Johnny’s pushing Daniel off of him, scrambling to his feet, breathing hard. He’s wide-eyed and pink-cheeked, and Daniel’s still sprawled on the ground, his brain’s too busy trying to catch up to his body for any of this to make sense.

 

“I’m, uh - “ Johnny swallows. He’s looking directly into Daniel’s eyes, and it hurts. “I gotta go.” And then he’s pulling his shirt back on and stumbling towards the gate.

 

“Johnny!” Daniel shouts, and his voice breaks a little, that’s embarrassing, but this is important, goddammit. “Hey, Johnny!”

 

Johnny wheels around, his fists balled at his sides. “What,” he says. “What do you want.”

 

Daniel blinks slowly and says, “I’m not queer.”

 

And Johnny says, “Neither am I.”

 

And so Daniel says, “Can I call you?”

 

And Johnny, turned to leave, shoots a backwards glance over his shoulder, and he says - 

 

“Maybe.”