Daniel hardly breathed through the pain, as his head swam and vision crossed. He knew he was close. Each step sent a fiery sensation up his bad leg, there was a sharp pain in his side and he knew a rib was cracked or worse. He limped into the backlot, by passing his own rooms. There were lights and Daniel had never been more thankful, even as his head pounded harder and harder. He was able to prop himself up on the wall and knocked. He hoped the old man would hear.
"Mr. Miyagi," he rasped, his throat raw from yelling. He had fought them so hard but he was already so weak from the torturous training Silver had inflicted on him. Daniel also hadn't expected him and had been overwhelmed by fear.
He found the strength to knock again and this time the door slid open. "Mr. Miyagi," he choked, feeling bile rise up his throat. His body was rebelling now that it knew he was safe.
"LaRusso?" That- that wasn't Mr. Miyagi. Daniel managed to open one crusted eye and shock hit him when he met wide, frightened blue eyes. "Old man!" Daniel couldn't hold out any further, he slumped and was thankful when instead of the ground brutalizing his body further, he was caught in strong, solid arms.
Before exhaustion took his body completely over, Daniel was rewarded with the kind face of his sensei.
"You didn't say he was training with them," Daniel knew that voice but couldn't discern why he was hearing it inside Mr. Miyagi's home. "Did you see his arms and legs? Huh?"
Mr. Miyagi's gentle voice broke in, "I told you, Daniel-san was on his own journey."
Johnny made a sound somewhere between a growl and laugh, "You left him to wolves!" There was movement close to Daniel, a door opening, a thin shaft of light hit Daniel's face, and then darkness again.
"You awake?" Daniel wasn't prepared for the soft words and flinched away from Johnny's hand. "Hey, it's okay, it's just me."
Daniel cracked one eye but thankfully the room was dark. His head still pounded. "Why?" he managed.
"Here," Johnny slipped an arm behind Daniel's shoulders and helped him sit up.
Daniel hissed, his entire body hurt. "Take it easy," Johnny muttered as he held a glass to Daniel's lips. "Who did this to you?" Daniel blinked at him, Johnny's blue eyes were dark in the low-light.
Daniel laid back, exhausted from the small amount of time sitting up. "Why are you here, Lawrence?" He asked instead of answering.
Johnny pressed his lips together, obviously irritated by Daniel's refusal but answered anyways, "I came looking for you." Daniel didn't know what to say. They hadn't seen each other since that night on the beach. Daniel had disappeared to Japan and then he got so caught up in - in - everything.
"I'm sorry," Daniel whispered. He had been so focused and consumed. He'd forgotten everything Mr. Miyagi had taught. "I failed Mr. Miyagi."
"Why, Daniel? Why would you go there?" There was shine to Johnny's eyes and Daniel was ashamed the man was crying for him.
Daniel turned his face away, "I was fooled," he whispered. "Mr. Miyagi refused to train me and I just-" Daniel swallowed "-I lost sight of what's important."
Johnny's rough hand cupped Daniel's cheek turning his head back, his thumb swiped uselessly at the tears streaming from Daniel's eyes. "You're here now, that's all that matters," Johnny whispered. He rubbed his thumb under Daniel's eye again and for a moment he thought Johnny might kiss him.
Instead he pulled away and helped sit Daniel back up. Properly propped against two pillows, it was a little more comfortable than holding himself up. Johnny turned toward the tray he had brought with him. His room was lit just enough Daniel could see his lap. "Here, you need to eat." Johnny picked up the plate and arranged it on Daniel's lap. There was an assortment of cheese and crackers. He didn't know if he could eat but picked up a cracker and nibbled on it.
"In the morning Mr. Miyagi and I are going to the dojo."
Daniel choked and started coughing. He felt every ache in his body and for a moment the pain drowned everything out. He couldn't breath, his chest a tight vice where he felt every bruise. "You can't, " he finally gasped.
"We are," Johnny said with finality Daniel couldn't argue with. He collapsed against the pillows supporting him, his entire body wrought with pain. Exhaustion over taking him for a moment. Daniel whimpered and Johnny's hands were soothing over him, nonsense spilling from his lips. "You need to rest," he finally implored, sweeping Daniel's hair from his face.
"Stay," he clasped Johnny's wrist when he thought the other man was moving away.
"Not going anywhere," Johnny swore.
Gently, he lifted Daniel's closest hand and examined the cuts and bruises littering his knuckles. Johnny brushed his thumb gently over, mindful of the wince Daniel revealed when his thumb hit a particular spot. Frowning he leaned in and looked over it. There was something in the cut. He turned to the first aid kit the old man had given him and rummaged around until he found what he was looking for. Brow furrowed, he worked out the object and held it in early morning light starting to filter through the curtains.
It was a splinter.
Careful that it wouldn't hit Daniel's face Johnny turned the lamp above him on the nightstand and looked over Daniel's hand. By the time Johnny was satisfied he had pulled every splinter from both hands the sun was over the horizon. There was a small, significant pile on the gauze he had pulled from the kit to collect the slivers of wood.
Johnny was just a kid when he joined Cobra Kai, barely twelve and so, so naive. He can so clearly remember now, eating up the attention Kreese had given him. Looking back it made Johnny sick to think about it. Kreese had preyed on Johnny's broken home and insecurities. But now, thinking about it, when Johnny had first joined there had been a second sensei at the dojo. Sensei Silver, he remembered suddenly the towering, handsome man that had taught more advanced classes. His fist clenched. They had played Daniel for a fool and tried to break, maybe even kill him, in the process.
There was movement in the other room and Johnny jumped to his feet. He had promised Daniel he wouldn't leave but there was no way he was letting the old man confront both of these psychos on his own.
"Johnny-san," Miyagi patted his knee, "no fear."
He could clearly hear Kreese's cold voice, "Fear does not live in this dojo." But when the old man looked at Johnny it wasn't fear he felt.
"Let's go," Johnny opened his door and swung out and raised himself to his full height. He had to remind himself he wasn't the same kid Kreese tried to strangle over coming in second at a teenage level karate tournament. Johnny frowned, and look at what this other maniac had tried to do to Daniel.
Miyagi stopped him before they came into view of the large window walls of the dojo. "No fighting. I tell him back off or else. We leave." Johnny looked down at the stern dark eyes, the old man's face was pinched. He didn't feel an inch of fear, not like Johnny. He was pissed and maybe there was a reason Miyagi didn't argue Johnny coming. The old man needed to be kept in check too.
A bell rang over their head as they entered the empty dojo. It was still early morning and Johnny didn't expect any other students but there was something empty about the place that Johnny had never felt before. Heavy footsteps from the back was the only warning they had before a handsome, tall, broad shouldered man stepped into the room.
This was Terry Silver, Johnny knew it. Silver grinned upon seeing Miyagi. It made Johnny's skin crawl at the predatory look that crossed his face. "Old man," his voice was affectionate but the malice in his eyes betrayed any goodwill. "Did Danny make it home alright?"
Johnny's body moved without permission, ready to knock some of those perfect white teeth out of the creeper's head. Miyagi stopped him with the flick of his wrist. Silver's eyes passed over Johnny when he moved as if he hadn't even registered the other man in the room.
"And who do we have here?" Silver had a way of making everything he said sound scummy.
"That would be Mr. Lawrence," Kreese stood in the doorway that Silver had come through. There was another person lurking just in the shadows behind him. Johnny guessed this was the infamous Mike Barnes Miyagi had said started all this trouble. His fist clenched at his side, this hadn't just been some kind of mind game cooked up between psycho war buddies. They had orchestrated this.
Silver's eyes lit up, taking in Johnny, "your star pupil, John!? My, how has he grown."
Johnny looked at them with disgust, they sounded like perverts and they were loving it. "He's a pussy," Kreese grunted through his teeth, lighting a cigar as he spoke.
Silver looked him over again and Johnny wanted to look away at how the man made him squirm. "We could fix that," he murmured. Kreese snorted. Silver clapped his hands together, "to what do we owe the pleasure of you in our dojo, Old Man?"
"Daniel-san will not fight," Miyagi stated. "If you bother him any further," Johnny could admit, appearance alone, you wouldn't think much of the old man, but he stood there in front of two highly skilled fighters and was completely unafraid. Miyagi stepped forward, "You fight me and this time I show no mercy."
Johnny couldn't stop the smirk that came over him at the flash of fear in Kreese's eyes. Good, the sicko deserved to be scared. But Silver had never seen Miyagi fight and the grin on his face only grew and looked even more malicious.
"Is that so, Mr. Miyagi," Silver mocked. Miyagi simply nodded and for the first time Silver let his "charming" smile slip. "I'm afraid you'll have to take it up with Mr. Barnes."
Johnny snorted and all three of the men standing before them turned to him. He didn't know the old man well, only having spent a few hours with him hoping Daniel would show up. And it wasn't the time but he was still annoyed at Miyagi for not telling Johnny up front where Daniel was. It was some serious bullshit. But he almost seemed amused with Johnny's interruption. The psycho senseis were sharing a look.
Barnes finally stepped out from behind Kreese, eyeing Johnny up and down. He smirked, licking his lips, "Forget the pipsqueak guido, I'll fight him," Barnes crossed his arms over his chest, sure cocked as anyone was after a three on one match. It made Johnny's blood boil.
Silver made a clicking noise with his tongue, shaking his head, "But it wouldn't be a fair match. Second Place would have to fight in the tournament.
Johnny's mouth got ahead of his brain again, "I haven't been sleeping the last year, old man," the comment was for no one else but his former sensei.
Kreese raised a brow giving Johnny a nod. "If Barnes agrees I see no reason we can't change the deal, Terry," the man in question looked at Kreese again, the expression almost soft. "Johnny seems sure enough of himself," Kreese smirked.
Johnny hadn't let the disappointment of coming in second place ruin his love for karate. Against all of Kreese's bad teachings he had found a small group on campus that practiced and was doing a lot of reading into the history of it. Something Kreese had basically spit at all five years he had trained Johnny.
"You've no idea, you sick, old man," Johnny spat. Miyagi calmed him again with a gentle move of his hand.
"I train Johnny-san. Win, lose, you will never show your face here, again," Miyagi stated, voice firm.
"If I win, I'll fill this valley with dojos. No one will ever remember your name, old man," this time Silver punctuated it as a threat. Johnny couldn't help the trickle of fear that rolled down his back. These men were crazy.
Miyagi, in his true nature, ignored the threat. It was obvious that Silver was itching for a fight, ready to prove that he, in fact, was better than Miyagi and that just one fight would prove it. Johnny followed his lead when Miyagi turned to leave but didn't leave his back turned and walked out, staring his old sensei in the eye.
The training, the outnumbered and outmatched beat down. His eyes stung and he closed them best he could to stem off tears. In the harsh light of the truth Daniel could see all the options he could have chosen that would have made a different, better outcome.
The door sliding back was his only warning before Johnny popped in, "hey," he said gently.
"Hey," Daniel tried to smile, look encouraging, anything but the pathetic beaten mess he actually was.
"Didn't think you'd be up already," Johnny walked over and sat on the edge of Daniel's bed. "Let me see your knee. It was still pretty swollen last night."
Daniel couldn't stop the heat that rose to his face as Johnny (very clinically) looked over his knee. "When you'd become a doc?" he joked.
Johnny looked up from his examination of Daniel's knee and smiled, it reminded him of their night on the beach. "I decided to major in sports medicine," Johnny cupped the swollen, bruised knee. "Sid thinks it's close enough to being a doctor that he's actually willing to pay for four years of school." Daniel felt the familiar pang of longing anytime college was mentioned. He'd never regret helping Mr. Miyagi, Little Trees was as much Daniel's dream now as it was his sensei's. But he did wonder about what a future for Daniel LaRusso looked like some days.
"It's looking better. Have you tried to bend it?" Johnny got his attention, blue meeting brown.
"Yeah, it feels okay, I guess." Daniel bent it, thankful that there didn't seem to be any more damage than before. He winced, remembering the way Kreese had went right for it. "So, you went to the dojo?"
The line of Johnny's shoulders tensed. Daniel had looked him over, it didn't seem like a fight had occurred. "Yeah," he finally answered, "saw Kreese. What the hell happened, Daniel?"
He swallowed, a lump forming in his throat, "maybe get Mr. Miyagi? I don't want-" Daniel swallowed heavily.
"No problem," he jumped to his feet, hurried from the room.
Daniel felt nauseous, the thought of explaining how thoroughly warped the whole thing was. How far Kreese and Silver had gone to what? Make Daniel pay for beating Cobra Kai? And Daniel had fallen hard for every word Terry had given him.
Johnny came back, followed by Mr. Miyagi. The tears Daniel had held back finally leaked out seeing his sensei. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Miyagi," poured from his lips. The old man didn't hesitate to sit on the edge of the bed and pulled Daniel into a hug. He ignored the sharp burst of pain the motion caused in his side.
"Miyagi is too, so sorry, Daniel-san. Should have done things different." He pulled back and looked over Daniel with a critical eye. He shrunk a bit under the gaze, afraid the knowing old man might see he was hurt in more than just physical ways.
"It's okay, Mr. Miyagi," he muttered, "I'm the one who screwed up."
"Mistakes happen, we learn from them. Miyagi has learned valuable lessons too," he patted Daniel's good knee.
"It was all a game, Mr. Miyagi. Barnes tearin' up the shop, T-Silver showing up and stopping him that day. He and Kreese are friends, war buddies. I thought they were gonna kill me, Mr. Miyagi," he hated how his voice cracked and tears pressed at his eyes harder. "He hurt me," came out, soft, "so much." He'd been such an idiot.
"Hey, it's okay," Johnny stepped forward. His voice was tight as he added, "you won't have to fight."
The relief that flooded Daniel at the words was short lived as fear trickled through him, "I have too or they'll do something worse than beat me half to death!" he cried.
Johnny closed the space between them and Daniel couldn't stop the flinch, for one terrifying minute it wasn't a tall blonde reaching for him. Johnny halted but whatever frightened look in Daniel's eyes must have overrode his hesitation. He cupped Daniel's cheek, "I'm gonna fight for you."
"But," Daniel didn't know what he wanted to protest. He knew first hand that Johnny was strong, competent. He fell back against the pillows propping him up, he was exhausted.
"Remember Daniel-san," Mr. Miyagi stood, "there is no bad karate, only bad teacher." He patted at Daniel's knee again and did the same to Johnny's shoulder. Who hadn't hesitated to round the bed and take Mr. Miyagi's spot. "Rest, Daniel-san."
"Yeah, get some sleep, you look like you're gonna fall out any second," it would have been amusing, Johnny Lawrence fussing over Daniel's pillows and blanket, if Daniel wasn't already half-asleep, eyes heavier than they'd been the night before.
"Don't go anywhere?" Daniel whispered.
Johnny grinned, soft, with just a hint of sadness, "you're stuck with me, LaRusso."