Again, the drabbles are in no logical order except that of the prompts, with two exceptions: The last one is, indeed, the last, while drabbles 77-80 make most sense together. Pre-relationship, established relationship, adult life, all mixed together into one big happy mess.
Word count: 100 for each, including titles
Rating: PG if not otherwise stated (higher ratings mostly for swearing and implied violence)
Summary: Again, no summaries.
Dan couldn't swim. Of course, as luck would have it, Akutsu discovered this as the brat fell into the river.
He thought the brat was joking, at first. Just as he finally realised the fear in Dan's voice was genuine the smaller boy sank under the surface and didn't show up again.
Muttering a curse, Akutsu dived into the water, thankful it was clear enough for him to spot the dark form of Dan. He soon caught the boy and got him out of the water.
Akutsu found a heartbeat. Suddenly, it was easier to breathe.
Dan liked candles.
Akutsu couldn't understand this. If you wanted light, electric lamps worked so much better, and if it was warmth you were after, candles were hardly useful. Nevertheless, Dan enjoyed them, so Akutsu didn't question him about this affection as long as he didn't leave any aflame unattended.
One dark winter night he found himself looking at Dan who was looking at a candle. The little spot of light reflected in Dan's eyes, flickering as it cast soft shadows around it.
Akutsu may not have particularly liked candles, but he liked Dan liking candles.
The fact that his potted plants died one after one never seemed to discourage Dan, who kept trying, much to the amusement of Akutsu who observed his efforts and failings. Finally, though, even Dan himself had to admit he was apparently not meant for gardening.
"Only you, Taichi, only you," Akutsu sighed, shaking his head. He simply couldn't believe it.
"I know desu," Dan said miserably, looking at his latest victim. "You know, Jin, I'm about to give up."
"Sounds like a good idea," Akutsu said. "I've never heard of a plastic plant dying before..."
Akutsu had no idea what had possessed him to agree.
Sure, the brat had pleaded him, but that was no excuse. Akutsu Jin did not play doubles, period.
So what was he doing here on the court?
There was a lob, far too high for even him to smash. It was almost impossible to reach – unless one could fly.
Akutsu didn't even bother to think. He simply grasped on the brat and flung him to the air.
A perfect return, a point, and Dan landed on his feet. Akutsu smirked. No way in Hell would they lose.
"Well?" asked Akutsu, as though he hadn't been in the stands himself. He didn't look at Dan, concentrating on his cigarette.
Dan looked down to the ground, looking absolutely miserable. "I lost desu," he muttered barely audibly.
"And now what?" Akutsu asked, disinterested. "You going to quit?"
"No desu!" Dan said, lifting a determined gaze up to him. "I'll just have to work harder desu!"
"That's the spirit," said Akutsu, who really wasn't one to speak. He walked passed Dan, lightly brushing the brat's hair as he did so. "Come on, now."
Akutsu was not on his best in the morning. In fact, anyone annoying him before 10 AM was going to die.
"Good morning, Jin!" ...Well, aside from one exception.
"Shut up," Akutsu growled, glaring at the younger boy. How Dan could look so bright so early was beyond him.
A huge cup of coffee was handed to him. Akutsu accepted it without a word.
Dan chattered even as he ate. Akutsu wondered how he could have so much energy after they had spent half the night awake.
Clearly, Akutsu hadn't kept him up long enough. Time to improve.
Dan perhaps wasn't an excellent cook, but better than most boys in his age. He was certainly better than anybody else Akutsu knew, with the obvious exception of Kawamura. Thus, while his constant offerings of bento were somewhat annoying – as though Akutsu couldn't feed himself well enough! – they weren't exactly unwelcome.
Of course, the price he paid for them was listening to the brat's chatter for most of the lunch break. Didn't he have any classmates or something to spend time with?
However, when Dan fell sick, Akutsu found himself missing his usual homemade lunch.
Sure, the sushi place where his something like a friend worked was hardly the ideal place for a date. However, Akutsu knew that Kawamura would not give them strange glances just because Dan kept clinging onto his arm but instead smile and give them a discount. And besides, Dan liked the sushi.
The whole idea of a date was ridiculous, of course. They saw each other all the time anyway; what was the point of "going out" together? It made Dan happy, though, and thus Akutsu was compelled to give occasionally.
Besides, it was kind of nice.
Then Dan noticed he wasn't eating properly. Homemade bento and stern lectures suddenly filled his life.
For the first time in as long as he could remember Akutsu found himself actually noticing what he put in his mouth. Not that he would ever admit it.
Of course, Akutsu was not a nice boy, but rather a bad one. And bad boys tended to drink. Akutsu did, too.
Once, only once, Dan saw him drunk. The brat immediately started a lecture, telling him how bad it was and what kind of damage excessive drinking could do to him and how he really should stop it desu. It was annoying, Akutsu felt, even more so than usually because he was drunk. He should teach the brat.
He raised his hand to strike before he realised what he was about to do.
Akutsu never drank again.
It was becoming colder.
This was impossible to ignore, Akutsu thought as he walked towards school. Why did he even bother, he had no idea. It wasn't like he would learn anything anyway.
"Akutsu-senpai! Wait, Akutsu-senpai!" ...Oh, yeah, that's why.
"Taichi," he said, not looking at the brat. "You'll freeze your hands."
"Huh?" Dan looked down at his bare hands. "It's not that cold..."
"Yes, it is." Akutsu took one of the small hands into his own. It felt cold.
For some reason, he still held on even when the hand was warm.
Winter eventually turned into spring, as it had a habit of doing. And, along with spring, there was graduation.
Dan seemed both happy and sad as he congratulated his senpai-tachi. Sengoku tried to comfort him, reminding that Yamabuki high school wasn't that far, but it was of no use.
"Taichi," said Akutsu, and Dan turned to look at him. "You are an idiot," Akutsu added, then kissed the brat.
The expressions surrounding him were well worth any embarrassment there may have been in public kissing. Most importantly, Dan didn't seem to be about to cry anymore.
It was simply too hot to think, Akutsu decided, lying in the grass, motionless. Even in the shadow it was unbearably hot. Nothing was going to make him move.
"Akutsu-senpai?" asked a small voice. Akutsu grunted, not about to speak properly at the moment. "Akutsu-senpai, isn't it a nice day today?"
Akutsu thought about the heat, and about how exhausted he was just lying there, and about the smaller boy lying right next to him and asking such stupid questions.
"I guess," he replied and reached out to brush his hand against Dan's, hot and sweaty.
"Fall in love" was, in Akutsu's opinion, one of the most idiotic phrases ever. It implied accidentality and was clearly just a way of putting blame for one's own stupidity onto the shoulders of some unknown entity or even chance.
Well, not him. He was going to watch his feet and not fall.
Then came along Dan, with endless adoration and admiration for him, some skills of his own he didn't even seem to realise and enough determination to bring those skills out. Dan, with big brown eyes and a smile.
Suddenly Akutsu realised he had been tripped.
The brat was just too weak, Akutsu concluded, trying his very best not to worry as he glanced down at the fragile form in his arms. The brat was too weak, and Sengoku was an idiot for letting him play for too long, and the brat's opponent was an idiot for dragging out the match for so long. It was only a practice game. There was no need to continue until the brat passed out.
There was only one solution, Akutsu decided. He would have to train the brat to gain better stamina.
And beat the two other idiots.
"We got inside just in time," Dan said, looking out of the window as he tried to dry his hair. "A moment more and we would have had to swim here!"
"Don't exaggerate, Taichi," Akutsu snorted. He looked around. Apparently his mother wasn't home. Good. He didn't need her messing around. "It's not raining that hard."
"Don't be so mean, Akutsu-senpai!" Dan pouted. His hair was a semi-dry mess, his clothes soaked and clinging to his skin. All in all, he looked delicious.
Akutsu crouched down to taste the rain on Dan's lips.
Dan was making snow angels.
Of course, this was a very Dan thing to do, and as such nothing special. How he had managed to get Akutsu to join him was a mystery Akutsu was still trying to figure out.
"No, Akutsu-senpai, please don't add horns to them!"
Akutsu snorted. "This is stupid anyway," he said. "Aren't angels Christian or something? You aren't Christian."
"No, I'm not," Dan replied cheerfully. "But they are pretty, aren't they, Akutsu-senpai?"
Dan was the one who was pretty, Akutsu thought, but didn't say it aloud.
Of course, it hadn't happened fast. A gradual process was the only way to win over somebody like Akutsu. This was exactly what Dan did, working slowly as though taming a wild animal. Fortunately his efforts were not in vain, as Akutsu actually developed feelings for him beyond just being used to him until Akutsu wouldn't let go.
However slow it may have been, later Akutsu likened Dan's appearance in his life to a lightning bolt – quick to appear and made irreparable damage.
Dan just smiled and pointed out he at least didn't leave quickly.
A booming sound marked something warm snuggling up to him. Akutsu was hardly surprised; he had been waiting for this since the first signs of the thunder storm. Thus, rather than asking what the idiot was doing, he simply moved aside to make room.
Dan shivered against him at the next sound. Honestly, one would think nobody would be afraid of thunder at his age.
There was a frightened whimper beneath the covers. Despite himself Akutsu found his arm wrapping itself around the smaller form. Dan calmed down.
Strong, wasn't he, to even shield from thunder.
Akutsu was often angry.
He was by nature irritable and sometimes violent (a fact he blamed on the genes of his father). This along with a carefully developed bad attitude and tough exterior made for a very dangerous combination for anyone who happened to anger him. One moment, he was simply insulting you, the next, there was a full-blown storm about.
Dan never seemed to care about these outbursts of his. Rather, the smaller boy pretty much ignored Akutsu's rage as though it did not concern him.
Akutsu never managed to be angry at Dan.
Akutsu had broken his promise.
Staring at his hand in disbelief, he slowly came to comprehend just how many promises he had broken. To Kawamura, to Sengoku, to his mother and Dan's parents and Dan himself. And, most importantly, to himself.
He'd become his father at last.
Dan looked up at him, tears and fear filling the big brown eyes. Akutsu tried to reach out to him, to explain, but Dan turned away and fled from him.
Akutsu woke with a silent scream.
Odd, wasn't it, how he could hurt the brat only in his dreams.
It was simply too much to ask, Akutsu thought. Such a punishment for so mild an insult was surely exaggerated. The brat couldn't really demand it of him.
Apparently Dan thought otherwise, though. The brat was glaring up at him, brown eyes full of tears yet not giving in one bit. He appeared paler than usual, which would have worried Akutsu had he ever admitted even to himself he worried.
Ah, well. Apparently nothing else could fix the situation at this point. He had to give in.
"Sorry," he managed to get out.
Suddenly, Dan beamed at him.
The brat should eat more, Akutsu thought, weighing Dan's little body in his arms. That and he was severely lacking in muscle mass. Hopefully he would gain some once he properly hit puberty, more muscle mass and height, too. He was so obviously a kid it was almost painful to look at.
Dan wrapped his arms around Akutsu's neck, grinning up at him. "I love you Akutsu-senpai desu!" the brat announced happily, absolutely loyal and trustful. His Akutsu-senpai couldn't ever hurt him, could he?
Oh, yes, definitely a kid. But thankfully he would grow soon.
Of course, Dan wasn't afraid of dark anymore. Thankfully, Akutsu thought, as he switched off the lights. When the lights were off, his mother thought they were asleep and wouldn't come knocking at the door.
Dropping down next to Dan, Akutsu fumbled in the dark to relieve the brat of his clothes. Small fingers were already working on his own shirt.
"I wish I could see you properly, Jin," Dan muttered.
"My mother is out of the house next Saturday." Akutsu pushed the jeans past slim hips. "Come over then."
He heard the smile. "Yes desu."
Akutsu had never liked his father. In fact, had he received word the man was dead, he probably would have rejoiced. Therefore, he wasn't sure what was the appropriate response as Dan appeared to him with teary eyes and announced, "Jin, my father is dead!"
Thus, lost for words, he simply hugged Dan, hoping it did some good.
The poor thing appeared completely broken, Akutsu thought. Normally, he would have vowed revenge on anybody who caused such a thing, but that was impossible if the guilty one was already dead.
He could do nothing but hold Dan, now.
"Hey, Jin? Do you believe in reincarnation?"
Akutsu shrugged. "Haven't thought about it. Why do you ask?"
"No reason... I was just wondering." Dan smiled to himself, leaning back to look at the sky. "Like, if I were to die now, could I meet you again in another life?"
"Doubtlessly," snorted Akutsu, who found it somewhat uncomfortable to think of Dan dying and wanted to get rid of the topic. "You wouldn't let me off the hook so easily."
Dan laughed and snuggled against him. "I love you, Jin," he said.
"Hn," Akutsu replied. "I know."
Never in his life had Akutsu been too stunned to move. He was always mobile, always full of energy, always ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. Nothing could shock him enough to rob him of all this energy.
However, as he saw Dan suddenly collapsing with no apparent reason, he found himself unable to move for a moment.
It was over fast, and he was by Dan's side before anybody else anyway. However, it bothered him.
Had Dan been falling from somewhere, for example, would he have got there in time for rescue?
The odds were favourable, Akutsu was told. All the signs were good. They'd win this battle, and then the whole war, yes they would.
However, as he now sat beside the hospital bed, the only things that came into his mind were all the times of "We almost lost him."
Dan looked so fragile and very weak, and Akutsu found himself hoping it was him instead. He was strong, he would surely survive even such an ordeal. Dan... he wasn't sure.
Then again, he would have never wished the pain he felt to be put upon Dan.
Dan was in pain, that much was clear. And, although he didn't want to admit it, this pained Akutsu as well.
He simply couldn't even look at the brat without feeling sick. Nevertheless, he stayed there as much as he could, given that he had a job, too. Fortunately, the way from his job to the idiot's bedside was measured in corridors, not kilometres. He wouldn't have had patience for more.
The hand held in his was so thin and pale and unresponsive.
If Dan didn't survive, neither would he, Akutsu was sure.
The day Dan got out of the hospital, Akutsu was happier than ever.
Sure, the brat – who wasn't really a brat anymore – was still very weak, but that was okay. There was nobody better capable of keeping him in wheelchair than Akutsu. The idiot wouldn't take even a step on his own before it was allowed.
He scolded the idiot for getting so badly sick and all, and if he had to have something wrong couldn't it have been in his head so Akutsu could have just cut him up himself instead of worrying.
Love was blind, Akutsu had often heard, and couldn't help but agree. Nothing but absolute blindness and perhaps a bit of idiocy could explain the fact somebody like Dan had fallen for him. Dan was small and cute and innocent, Akutsu was big and scary and violent. They had absolutely nothing in common.
For some reason, he noticed some changes in himself as Dan was around. He didn't beat anyone as openly. Once, he even said "thank you."
Dan smiled and Akutsu found himself wondering if Dan wasn't the one with the sharpest sight.
There must be something wrong with Dan's hearing.
It is the only explanation Akutsu can think of. Well, that and the kid is obviously an idiot, but one might assume that even the worst idiot would get it around the fiftieth time Akutsu tells him to fuck off. Dan, however, just smiles and stays. The idiot.
In time, Akutsu grows weary of always saying the same thing, and finally, he gives up. Dan is going to end up hurt but it is not Akutsu's fault, not anymore.
Odd, though, how Dan hears very well every ”Stay right here.”
"Please?" asked Dan with a hopeful tone.
"No." Akutsu's response was determined.
"I already said no."
"Pretty please with sugar on top?"
With the sweeties now, eh? "It's still a fucking no, Taichi."
Dan pouted in the way only he could, looking hurt and pleading at the same time, his eyes resembling disturbingly much those of a puppy that wanted in from the rain. "But Akutsu-senpai, please be so kind," he whined.
Akutsu sighed, already knowing it was a lost cause. This was the one game he would never win against Dan.
Dan's eyes widened as he saw the book Akutsu was offering him. "But – that's –"
"Yeah, yeah, the volume missing from your collection," came the curt response. "Happy birthday or something like that."
"It's even a special edition!" Dan exclaimed, snatching the book from the other's hands and holding it tightly against his chest. "Thank you so very much desu!"
"I just happened to see it somewhere," Akutsu grumbled. "Don't get so overjoyed."
There was no force on Earth that could make him admit exactly how many hours he had spent looking for this particular copy.
This was ridiculous, Akutsu told himself. It was only a couple of days, only a stupid class trip to some stupid place that was absolutely boring. He had often spent much longer times without even seeing the brat.
Then why was he now waiting for the day the little idiot came back?
If Dan found out, he would have a field day. He might even think Akutsu cared. He didn't, really. And he most definitely didn't miss the brat. At most he was wondering how much longer his peace would last.
Yeah, that was it. Honest.
Many wouldn't accept them, Akutsu knew. Even in the modern world there would always be idiots who considered everything different a threat.
It was a choice, like Dan always made him choose. Choose between school and skipping, a proper job and criminality, acceptance of the society and Dan Taichi.
Like Akutsu gave a fuck about what others thought.
It wasn't easy to Dan, either, and that almost made Akutsu regret sometimes, but he was too selfish to leave. He would rather protect Dan.
Whenever he felt a smaller hand in his, he knew he had chosen right.
Akutsu had never expected it to last long. After all, hearts were fickle and love always ended in somebody getting hurt, as he had learnt early on. He was entirely wrong for Dan and eventually the brat would notice that, too. In the meantime, though, he allowed himself to enjoy it.
As time passed and they were still together, he occasionally found himself wondering. At one time, he had wanted to depend on nobody. But now... what would his life be like without Dan?
Looking at the smiling man next to him, Akutsu resolved never to find out.
Akutsu Jin was no fucking queer.
He could care less if other boys were that; it was their own damn business if they liked guys better than chicks. However, he had no interest in them. Akutsu preferred girls with big boobs and long, shiny hair.
This, of course, did not explain Dan.
Dan Taichi was, while somewhat feminine when it came to facial features, most definitely male. He was small and scrawny and his hair was a mess, but his eyes were big and brown and he smiled. And, well, he was Dan.
There were exceptions to every rule.
The puppy is young, just barely old enough to be away from her mother, and she is the colour of melted sugar. Her eyes are big and shiny as she looks up from her box, expecting to be picked up and pampered.
Dan rubs his eyes and looks again. She is still there.
”Don't kick me out, please,” is all the attached note says. There is no signature, but Dan is no fool. He knows exactly who she is from.
Akutsu scowls as he sees the puppy, but doesn't say anything.
Dan secretly calls her Jin-chan.
Lately, Akutsu had sometimes encountered a strange emotion. It wasn't anything he had felt before, and he thus had no idea what it might be. It was vague and hard to put into words, warmth mixed with a little bit of insecurity, topped off with the inexplicable urge to smile instead of scowling. It made sleeping hard and his appetite miserable.
Also, it mostly occurred around Dan Taichi.
As he finally asked Kawamura, the other boy smiled. "Why, you are in love, Akutsu-kun," he said.
Akutsu cursed. Just like he had thought. Something horrible.
Dan never truly expected Akutsu to say yes, of course. He had mostly asked just to see Akutsu's stunned expression before the very clear and loud ”No”. Still, he couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed as Akutsu didn't come to his birthday party.
The older boy didn't seem to notice his birthday in any other way, either, although he certainly knew of it. Dan just shrugged and soldiered on, knowing this was Akutsu-senpai.
Three days later, apparently unrelated, he found a tiny present in his locker. There was no name, no card.
After all, this was Akutsu-senpai.
Akutsu saw no point in celebrating Christmas.
It was a conspiracy, he decided. Taking a Christian holiday and twisting it around until it met the needs of Japanese people. He had very little idea what it had originally been about, but he very much doubted it had first been established as an excuse to go on a date and give presents.
Dan, however, insisted that they do so. And, until Akutsu found a way to resist the Puppy Dog Eyes of Doom (which wasn't likely to be soon) what Dan really wanted him to do, he did.
Thanking, Akutsu felt, was usually a waste of time. He could understand it when it was done to other people, even though he wasn't in the habit of saying it himself; after all, thanking people made for a better chance that they might be of use to you again. However, thanking abstract deities was absolutely pointless. Everything good you got, you had to earn. Thanking gods meant you declared your own efforts useless.
However, as he lay quietly with Dan by his side, the other boy's light breathing caressing his skin, he found himself secretly thankful.
"Imagine, Jin," Dan said enthusiastically, "today is the shortest day of the year!" He looked out to the darkening night.
"You can't tell the difference anyway," Akutsu snorted. "We're not that far in the North that it would actually matter."
"It does too matter desu," Dan said, pouting. "Don't you think it's interesting?"
Akutsu sighed. "You are too old for the desu," he said dryly. "Now, come on, Taichi."
"Huh?" Dan blinked. "Come where?"
"To the bed, of course." Akutsu smirked. "It's the longest night of the year. Let's use it well."
095. New Year
Akutsu was anything but satisfied with his life. For as long as he could remember, he had been unhappy for one reason or another. For each year of his life he could recall at least one major disappointment – the latest one being his defeat to that brat Echizen.
Sixteen years, today. Sixteen years, none of which had been primarily happy, even though lately he had been... less dissatisfied than usually.
Sinking his hand into the blue-black hair spread over his chest, Akutsu wondered whether the seventeenth one would bring a change. He looked forward to finding out.
Nobody messed with Akutsu Jin and walked away on their own.
This was a well-known fact among teenagers not only in Yamabuki but in other schools in the area as well. Anybody foolish enough to cross him had better be prepared to face the consequences, for Akutsu knew no forgiveness.
Of course, there were also the bastards who didn't know. And those who didn't know that messing with Dan Taichi was the same as messing with Akutsu.
Akutsu cracked his knuckles, smirking evilly. Some idiots were about to learn their lesson the painful way.
It was, Akutsu decided, somewhat different to come home to a lively house. Of course, Dan had never been quiet, but earlier their schedules had often been such that the house was empty when Akutsu came home. Now, it was never empty.
He had once asked whether Dan regretted staying home just for the kids. Dan's answer had been a very firm no.
Two enthusiastic hugs greeted him at the door. "Daddy!" chorused the children, their eyes shining.
Different was, Akutsu decided as he heard Dan's voice happily welcoming him, not necessarily a bad thing.
"You are a what?" Minami blinked.
"A brain surgeon," Akutsu repeated, smirking at his former captain. "What about it? Didn't think I could do it?"
"N-no, that's not it at all," Minami hastied to say. "So – you and Dan-kun –" He glanced at the small man nearby.
"We're still together," Akutsu said calmly. "Surprised?"
"Oi, Akutsu! Dan-kun!" Sengoku's cheerful voice called out. "Nice seeing you! Who's looking after the kids?"
Minami's eyes widened. "Kids?" he repeated.
Akutsu smirked again. Oh, it had been a good idea to come to the team reunion after all.
There were lots of things Akutsu never did. He never drank anymore, for one thing, not wanting to become his father in any way. He also never allowed himself to even think of hitting any of his family members.
He never made a mistake in his work, which was a good feature in somebody who cut people's brains for a living. He never forgot the children's birthdays, even if his and Dan's anniversary sometimes caused him trouble. Never did he even think of cheating on his lover.
He also never particularly missed his life before Dan.
"Are you sure you'll both be all right, great-grandpa?"
Akutsu glared at the young girl in front of him. "I didn't outlive your grandparents by being an idiot, Meiko-chan," he said sharply. "We'll be just fine. Now go."
Meiko smiled, telling she'd come back the next day. Shaking his head, Akutsu walked to the living room.
Taichi had fallen asleep on the couch, again. Silly thing. Sitting next to him, Akutsu drew a blanket over them both.
A frail hand held onto his own as he fell asleep.
Neither of them woke up.