.

.

It's the same playground and the rickety, old slide from the worst of his childhood. The same type of worn-down steel beneath the curl of Hiyori's fingers gripping tightly around it.

A different Ikuya, Hiyori insists. Forlorn and vulnerable, with dark patches under those reddish-brown eyes gazing up and faintly moistened with tears. Weakness isn't the true problem — it's that Hiyori can't do anything to stop Ikuya from feeling this way. No matter what he's tried.

The night air ruffles to their clothes and through Ikuya's hair, lifting his long, silky bangs from his face. He smells like chlorine and fresh laundry and a tinge of dark, smoky ash. Hiyori somehow doubts finding a rumpled, papery carton in Ikuya's trouser-pockets, but maybe he sneaked a lit cigarette from Kotarou before leaving their practice. Right before he disappeared without saying anything.

Ikuya's mouth falls open, his facial expression serene.

"Hiyori… …"

"After everything, after all you have overcome…" A shuddery, loud breath escapes him. Hiyori frowns, never moving from leaning directly over his best friend. They're not close enough to feel each other, but by god, Hiyori has lost hours and weeks to his imagination, to their unlit, cramped room by himself and the sounds of wet-slick pleasure and his quivering exhales when he orgasms on his bare stomach, desiring Ikuya to acknowledge him more than just… but it's not gonna happen. It can't.

"How can you not see it, Ikuya?"

Perhaps it's asking too much of him like this. But he doesn't understand, not at all, and Ikuya begins to scowl, pushing his forearm roughly against Hiyori's plum-colored sweater.

"Shut up…"

Hiyori's pulse thuds in the back of his mouth.

"You're the strongest person I know," he murmurs ruefully, disregarding the flash of irritation in Ikuya's newly moistening eyes. When the push intensifies, forcing them to apart, one of Hiyori's hands clamps over Ikuya's arm, attempting to shove it away before it happens.

"But I'm NOT—!" Ikuya's cry vanishes out of existence, as he gulps and trembles, fisting into Hiyori's front, stretching the thick, plum fabric, and then dragging Hiyori towards him on impulse. At first, Hiyori thinks about backing away to help him up, if that's what he wants, and then feels their lips and teeth smashing together harshly, ebbing pain like delicate, growing ripples upon pool-water.

Shock roots him in place, when a desperate groan tears out of Ikuya's mouth opening to his, vibrating to Hiyori's skin. And it's like his mind fades away, piece-by-piece with Hiyori straddling him further, lowering to a knee on the dewy grass. He wrestles away Ikuya's arm across his chest and holds the back of Ikuya's head to him, angling for a deeper kiss. His fingertips nest into strands of teal, as they writhe and semi-struggle against each other, Ikuya's other leg hitching up and wrapping loosely to Hiyori's middle.

It's too needy, too full of ragged, hot panting and slow-grinding, until Hitori inhales sharply, his cock twitching in interest when Ikuya's tongue glides over his puffy, kiss-raw lips.

And it's too much…

Hiyori turns his face abruptly, burying it into Ikuya's neck and trying to breathe normally again. As if breaking the spell, he feels Ikuya's tension unwinding, his muscles going lax with his back to the slide.

God

He reaches up and folds his skewed glasses dangling on his face, tucking them neatly over his collar. Using it as an excuse to focus on anything else. "Do you remember the prank we pulled on Richard-san? The old man who used to rake the leaves by the public swimming poll?" Hiyori asks lowly, witnessing the spark of recognition in Ikuya's eyes. "They almost called the police," he adds, smiling and squinting his eyes, "but it was just a bunch of realistic-looking plastic snakes we found at the convenient store."

A curt, throaty laugh. "We got in so much trouble," Ikuya mutters, the corners of his mouth straining against the grin building. The streetlamp's light burnishes against his pale features.

Hiyori nods, his throat clenching.

"I said it was me, because I didn't want you to lose the opportunity to be in your program. But you said it was you instead of me. They decided to not call your brother or my parents."

His fingers untangle from Ikuya's hair, slipping over to his cheek. Hiyori runs his thumb over that dream-like warmth, all of Ikuya's warmth he thought he could only fantasized about knowing. "You're not alone, you know?" Hiyori whispers solemnly, his brows furrowing when the same moisture reappears in Ikuya's rapidly blinking eyes. "I'm right here, 'Kuya. And I'm not going anywhere without you."

Ikuya gives a fierce, little sniffle, wrinkling his nose.

"I told you to stop calling me that…" he grumbles, yanking on Hiyori's sweater when the other man lets out a sudden, amused chuckle and leans in one more time, pressing a doting kiss to Ikuya's forehead.

.

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Free! isn't mine. THIS NEW SEASON IS GIVING ME LITERALLY ALL THE FEELS. I KNOW IKUYA IS IN LOVE WITH HARU BUT PLEASE,,,, HIYORI AND IKUYA IS WHERE IT IS AT FOR ME. GOSHHHHH. ANYONE ELSE HERE A BIG FAN OF THEM? Comment if they are and thanks so much for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts!