Raidou found himself waking up on his bed, still in his Jounin garb. His hopes of not collapsing during patrolling were ignored by the heavens. He reminded himself that he shouldn't blame fate or the powers above for his weakness because he brought it upon himself. Raidou reminded himself in an I-told-you-so manner about going on the crash diet was a bad idea right from the start and that he should have spoken to Genma himself. He should have been straight forward and confronting from the beginning. If he had done that, he wouldn't be in bed, with a headache, feeling like he just swallowed liquefied steel and like his stomach was being pulled out by a race horse. Raidou pointed out that he also didn't smell very pleasant at the moment and that his shirt had some dust particles on it from the soil he must have collapsed on. That and he –
"Okay." He mumbled, rubbing his nose. "Someone is talking about me." Raidou sat up tiredly, rubbing the back of his head before sneezing again, hard. "Okay, someone is in love with me." Raidou sneezed one more time, this being harder than the first two that it shook him and made his lungs ache. "Or maybe I'm just coming down with something." He moaned and dragged himself to the bathroom to take a hot shower.
He remembered going on patrol with a fellow Chuunin, who flipped and worried like a chicken who just lost its egg when Raidou just swayed and dropped on the ground. Raidou wouldn't be surprised if he was confronted by Genma sooner or later. Which reminded him –
"I was supposed to meet him for dinner." Raidou mumbled, bringing up a soapy hand to rinse his soapy face and shampoo-foamy hair.
Raidou told himself, despite the fact that Genma called him fat, to go apologize to the man. Raidou really had not expected to collapse, otherwise he would have gone to Genma himself and told him that he can't make it or maybe order everything off the menu and berate Genma for being an insensitive friend. Sighing like he was rejected in some sort of love affair, Raidou turned the tap off when he was done, wrapped himself tightly in a robe and hurriedly dressed in warm clothes. The last thing he wanted was to get sick, even if it was already the nearing the beginning of winter. He wrapped a gray scarf around his neck, pulled his sleeves to his wrists instead of folding them to his forearm and got ready to start the day. He pulled out a carrot from his fridge and chewed on it while he put on his sandals.
On normal days, Raidou would have gone to the mission tower by the roof tops. But the past few days had not really been normal, so Raidou walked down the street, a bit sad that he didn't do his routine of jogging around the village and beating up that white tree bark in the forest for good muscle stretching. He didn't even do stomach crunches before going to bed. Determined, Raidou vowed to make up for everything later that evening so that he can kick back to his normally-new routine the next day.
Finishing the last of his carrot, Raidou skidded to a halt by the mission tower entrance when he found Iruka exiting. Iruka looked up at him and smiled politely. "Good morning, Raidou-san."
"Good morning." Raidou greeted back.
"I heard what happened to you last night." Iruka said concernedly. Raidou sighed yet again. Looks like the whole village knows. "I hope you're all right."
The shiny-watery eyed look Iruka was giving him now made Raidou unable to get annoyed at the Chuunin. "I'm fine. Stress from missions, you know. I'm free this afternoon because I have morning-desk duty. Need any help in handing out missions?"
Iruka perkily smiled. "Thank you for offering Raidou-san, but Kotetsu and Izumo are going to be with me today to do the reports."
"Ah." Raidou nodded. "The offer still stands." Raidou decided that he'd go to that pet shop and help the old man a bit or something. It's been a long time since he dropped by.
"Thank you Raidou-san." Iruka politely said, dipping his head and preparing to leave with the pile of papers he was carrying. "It's very kind of you."
"I'll see you around." Raidou said, nodding.
"Bye." Iruka smiled and headed off to the direction of the Academy.
Raidou was not expecting the mountain pile of paper he had to do. He didn't feel like he was in the mood to do any of them but duty was duty. No matter how annoyed he was, he could never ignore his duty. That was another great thing about Raidou because he was the example of a good shinobi who put his village's works and safety first. Though he was quickly learning that he had a few insecurities, Raidou still prided his shinobi self.
Glancing at the clock told him it was exactly eight AM. Determined, Raidou sat down, vowing to finish everything in front of him no later than two PM and got to work.
Hours later before anyone could even dump any sort of paper for him to work on, Raidou got up, carried his neat work to the room next door, left it to the assigned shinobi to take care of it and fled. He took note of the fact that Genma had not shown up for his desk-duty. A worried-wart part of his mind told him that Genma probably couldn't stand the sight of him and that Genma probably felt betrayed about him not showing up at the restaurant meeting point. The other pig-balloon-head part of his mind told him that Genma was probably bored and decided he wanted to do missions instead of paperwork.
And he probably can't stand the sight of you because you look really bad!
Raidou stopped dead in his tracks, shocked by the thought that crossed his mind. Raidou admitted that he never thought in such a manner, but what if it was true? What if Genma disliked him for his appearance? Calling him fat was one thing. Raidou glanced at his reflection on one of the windows of a hat shop on the street he was walking on. But what if Genma disliked his appearance as well? Raidou never really cared or looked back at the scars on his face after the war casualty years ago, but now that he thought about it, it could be a reason. Genma might have found another friend to hang around with because he was just – he was just –
Raidou suddenly felt unworthy. He knew he shouldn't be thinking this way, but he couldn't help it. A wave of depression hit him like a tsunami. Raidou swallowed and shuffled his feet a bit before turning away sadly from his reflection on the window (even when the saleslady inside was already cooing at his handsomeness and blushing) and headed for the pet store.
Upon entry, the old man Yoshi grinned and laughed happily. "Raidou-kun!"
"Ji-san." Raidou greeted back, smiling and closing the glass door.
"It's been a while since you came here. Are you cold?" Yoshi asked, taking note of Raidou's scarf.
"A bit." Raidou looked around. "I miss this place. I got free time in my hands. Can I help?"
Yoshi continued smiling. "I was just about to close the store early because I promised to drop by a friend's house. His daughter just gave birth."
Raidou nodded in understanding. "I can watch the shop for you."
"Bless you, my child." Yoshi said, looking extremely thankful. "I'll be back around late evening. If you have to be somewhere, you can close up. Leave the key to old-lady Mei next door."
"No problem. Go say hello to the kid." Raidou said, ushering Yoshi to the door as the old man walked down the street with his walking-stick, waving. "Take care, Ji-san!" Yoshi lifted a hand in a wave.
Raidou couldn't help but feel giddy about having the pet store to himself. He closed the glass door and decided that he should clean up. He started with emptying the cat litters in their large pen-like cages then went off to polish up the bird cages. He cleaned the fish tanks and crustacean tanks before finally brushing the puppies' cages clean. He didn't have to worry about the newts, iguanas or lizards so he just fed them along with the other animals. Hours later, everything was spitzy clean. Raidou was about to attend to the baby puppies and feed them individually when a young boy walked in to the store, a fishbowl in hand.
"Excuse me?" The boy said.
"Yes?" Raidou asked, wiping his hands on his apron.
"Where's the old man?" The boy asked, blinking large gray eyes up at Raidou, holding on to his fishbowl.
"He went out for a while. Something I can help you with?" Raidou asked, the fish in the bowl caught his eye. It didn't look well.
"I wanted him to take care of Fish for me." The boy said, sounding a bit sad.
Raidou blinked. Was that a name? "Fish?"
The boy nodded. "Fish is my pet. Mom and dad says I can't take him with me cause' we're being transferred." The boy held the fishbowl up. "Will you take care of Fish for me?"
Raidou felt sorry for the boy and nodded. He knew how hard it was to part with a pet. Raidou has been through that with his Iguana, Iggy-chan. So he can sympathize. "I can take care of him."
The boy beamed. "He likes those pink colored fish food. Don't give him the yellow ones because he hates them. Please don't flush him down the toilet." The boy said, the last sentence was in a begging sort of tone. "He's not well. I-If he dies, please bury him." The kid looks like he was going to burst in to tears. "I dropped him on the floor by accident when I was running. He sloshed out of the bowl. I – I – He – He fell on his eye." The kid sobbed, large tear drops trickling down his eyes.
Ah, that's why. Raidou looked at Fish and saw how one eye was slightly grayer than the other. Raidou felt pity for it beyond belief and decided to find a vet that can heal it with ninjutsu or something. "I will take care of him. Don't worry." And he'd never flush any sort of pet down the toilet. That was cruel, inhumane and completely unethical. Animals had feelings! They were not – not – not toys! Raidou would have never flushed Iggy-chan down the toilet. In fact, he wouldn't even dare think of flushing any fish or any animal small enough down the toilet. It was horrible!
"Thank you so much." The boy said. "I trust you Jounin-san. I'll – I'll try to visit Fish as much as I can. Please take care of him."
"I will." Raidou nodded, placing the bowl on the counter and tapping the glass as an affectionate gesture at Fish. A voice calling outside signified that the boy's mother was waiting by their cart. "Take care, kid."
"Thank you." The boy said, bowing. He rubbed the glass of the fishbowl and sniffed a bit. "Goodbye Fish. Jounin-san will take care of you now. Be good okay? I'll miss you so much." The boy wiped his tears and stepped back. "Bye, Jounin-san."
Raidou nodded, ushered the boy out and watched as he cried quietly at the back of their family cart, as it disappeared down the street. Raidou headed back in, sprinkled pink fish food for Fish before taking out one of the puppies in the cage and feeding it with a milk bottle. He sat on a stool behind the counter, keeping an eye on the puppy he was holding, whispering little things to the two week old puppy and occasionally flicking glances at Fish. Minutes later, Fish was just swimming around the fishbowl.
"Good puppy." Raidou whispered, rubbing the head of the puppy in his arm with a thumb. "I'm going to go get your brothers and sisters to feed them." He gently placed the puppy in the cage and took out another one, repeating the feeding the process to all the other baby ones.
Raidou was so engrossed with the baby Husky in his arm that he didn't sense the customer up until the door jingled. Raidou turned and found Genma, and nearly dropped the baby puppy in his arm.
"Raidou." Genma said, his smile looking completely fake.
"Genma." Raidou replied, voice dying to a whisper. Raidou shifted the puppy in his arm and continued feeding it until the milk bottle was empty. "You want a pet?"
"I heard you collapsed last night during your patrol." Genma said. Raidou stiffened in reply. "You don't look well, you're ignoring everyone and that dango store on your block says you've been jogging at four in the morning." Raidou got up, placed the empty milk bottle on the counter and returned the puppy to its cage. "I'm getting worried. What's going on? And why are you ignoring me?" Genma said, the smile completely gone.
Raidou felt guilty. So he did the one thing he could in situations which he didn't like. "This is Fish. My new pet. The owner left him with me. I think he's half blind. Do you know a vet who's good at chakra healing?"
Genma gritted his teeth. "Stop changing the subject. And why the hell is that fish called Fish?"
Raidou shrugged. "He's a good fish, right Fish?" Raidou tapped the fishbowl twice. He then got up and started clearing the store to close. Just as Raidou pulled off his apron, Genma placed gentle hands on his shoulders.
"Talk to me. Please?" Genma asked, honey eyes looking at Raidou pleadingly. "You look so ill, and pale. I don't think you've been eating well. I'm getting worried. Will you please tell me what's going on?"
Confront him. He's been a good friend. Tell him what's going on!
"Nothing is wrong." Raidou shrugged, moving away to hang the apron on the hamper and taking the shop keys out of the drawer behind the counter. Raidou scooped Fish's fishbowl in his arms and headed for the door, Genma following suit.
"I'm on a diet." Raidou grumbled as he locked the door of the store. There! He said it and it wasn't a lie. He just forgot to say the 'crash' part.
"You're what?" Genma blinked.
"I'm not saying it again." Raidou hissed, holding the fishbowl securely, handed the keys to old-lady Mei next door and began to walk home.
"Why?" Genma asked, shocked, somewhat angered and in a weird way laughing.
"Why what?" Raidou asked, nearing his home.
"Why are you on a diet? Wait, how long have you been on this diet?" Genma asked, narrowing his eyes as all the pieces fell in to place. Genma got an idea of why Raidou collapsed and he looked pissed. "Why are you on a diet?" Genma persisted.
Raidou didn't answer and proceeded to remove his sandals and flak jacket. "Tea?"
"Raidou!" Genma growled.
"What?" Raidou glared at him. So far, he realized that he cared to what Genma thought of him. Raidou knew he was pushing the wrong buttons, but he just didn't want to think about it - yet.
"I asked you a question." Genma's voice was now very quiet and flat. Raidou knew he was on dangerous grounds now and that he might even receive a nice punch from Genma because a pissed Genma is very bad. Naturally, Raidou and his pride made him look directly at Genma. "Raidou. This isn't just about loosing weight, is it?"
Raidou knew he must look like an open book. "How the hell would you know?" He glared at Genma.
"I've known you ever since you were kids. You're mad at me! And I don't know why!" Genma said, taking quick steps forward and wrapping his arms around his best friend, head pillowing on Raidou's shoulder.
Raidou found himself relaxing in Genma's hold, warmth of the slightly taller man giving him the tingles. Raidou got this feeling more than once before, but never really thought about it. Now that he did, he didn't mind the idea that he liked Genma in more than one way. Genma had a good character, was fun, nice, funny and all the good things – save for the fact that Genma called him fat. Still, Raidou found himself sad and finally confronting.
"You called me fat." Raidou mumbled in a hurt way. Genma blinked slowly at that and pulled away, holding Raidou at an arm's length to just stare at him. "You called me fat in front of Kakashi, Asuma and Gai, and you were all laughing."
Genma blinked, slowly. "When was this?"
"A few days ago. Almost a week. I've been mad at you ever since. I mean – how could you?" Raidou asked, a bit betrayed. To any other person, he'd look like the perfect drama queen, but to Genma, he just looked so, so hurt. "And in front of them? You could've just told me and I would have done something about it. But telling others and laughing at me too? I thought you had better character than that." Raidou brought a hand up to his face, rubbing the scars unintentionally. Raidou usually did this when he was insecure and now was the best time.
Genma couldn't stop the grin and chuckle from escaping his lips. "Raidou, I didn't call you fat."
"Now you're denying it?" Raidou glared, knocking Genma's hands off his shoulders.
"No, no. Listen to me." Genma shook his head. "I didn't call you fat, as in fat. I said PHAT."
Raidou took a step back and shook his head. "I'm going to change Fish's water!"
Genma chased Raidou just as he was about to pick up the fishbowl and tackled him to the ground. They struggled as expletives came flying out of Raidou's mouth. Raidou tried his best to shove Genma off him but because he hasn't eaten properly for a few days, it was hard to. Genma did manage to eventually pin Raidou to the ground, straddling his thigh region to prevent any future kicks and holding Raidou's hands beside his head.
"No, no. Not fat as in bloated, big, tummy fat. I meant PHAT." Genma stressed.
"You unfeeling freak! It's the same thing!" Raidou hissed, struggling once more but Genma tightened his grip on Raidou's wrist. Raidou wanted to yell at him because it was hurting but dared not to.
"It's P-H-A-T. Not F-A-T. Get the difference now?" Genma asked, looking genuinely happy pinning Raidou down and clarifying the whole mess with his spelling.
"What in fuck's name is PHAT supposed to be?" Raidou snapped, now angry.
Genma smiled in that lady-killer sort of way. "Pretty, Hot and –" He leaned forward and stopped right beside Raidou's ear, his lips brushing it. "Tempting." Raidou looked positively stunned at the gesture and the meaning of the acronyms that he was silent and not breathing. Genma moved back, eyes a bit hazy due to the reaction that it was almost sad, but he smiled nevertheless. "Let me get you something to eat. Anything you want."
Raidou didn't even hear him. "You think I'm pretty?"
Genma blinked but nodded. "Yes."
"Hot?" Raidou swallowed.
This time, Raidou looked up to stare at Genma right at the eye. "Tempting?"
Genma nodded, sure of himself. "Yes."
There was a long silence before Raidou sad, "Why?"
Genma stared down, releasing his hold on Raidou's wrist and gently touched the other man's temple, tracing the scars. "I like you. I just do." Raidou officially looked like Fish in his little fishbowl. "Come on." Genma got up and pulled Raidou to his feet. "Let me get you something to eat. Forget the diet okay? Just be yourself."
Raidou could only nod in stunned silence as he allowed Genma to drag him to the restaurant in the market food street.
Genma was one happy Jounin. He got his best friend to be normal again, he clarified things, he learned new things and now he was just watching Raidou happily eating his meal heartily with that happy glow in his dark eyes.
Yes, Genma was one very happy Jounin.
Raidou may have never realized it but when he was genuinely happy, he looked like a small child who received his first toy car or stuffed toy. There would be that glowing glint in Raidou's eyes and a barely visible flush on his cheeks. The other man's face would just light up that one would think that he just had a birthday or got laid or something. Only Genma noticed these slight changes and others would too if they looked really close. Other than the fact that Raidou looked just about the very epitome of cute and pretty while chewing on his noodles, he still looked like the ideal shinobi. His face was trained to not show emotions. Not even the burnt scars made the other man hideous. In fact, it looked heroic, honorable and defined how he was a true shinobi.
"Genma?" Raidou said, reaching out for some spring rolls.
"Yeah?" Genma blinked, a goofy smile on his face as he stared lovingly at Raidou. Genma knew of his growing crush and love for his friend and other noticed it as well. Raidou may have disregarded his actions as a sign of close and deep understanding friendship, but Genma really fell for him.
"Will you stop staring like I'm an ice cream? I'm trying to eat here." Raidou mumbled, taking a huge bite off his spring roll and chewing fast.
"Sorry." Genma mumbled and went back to staring.
"You're doing it again!" Raidou kicked Genma's foot.
"I can't help it." Genma said, admitting it, not the least bit perturbed by the kick. Hell, he didn't even feel it. "You're just too cute to look at."
Raidou was a bit touchy when it came to relationships because he never really had a stable and long one. So naturally, he scowled. "Stop it."
Genma listened this time, but not entirely. "One more order of sweet and sour shrimps please!" He said to the waiter before turning and smiling at Raidou, who now doubled the speed of clearing the contents of their table. Genma smiled one more time, a bit sad, and turned to look towards the kitchen area of the restaurant instead.
Genma thought and thought, wondering if Raidou was really rejecting him or if he was just playing around. He didn't want to be rejected and Genma doubted that their friendship would ever be the same after he expanded those acronyms. By the heavens, he didn't want to lose Raidou. That would just kill him – metaphorically speaking. Genma was so busy thinking of rejection that he didn't notice how his whole face seemed to have fallen and gone dark with nervousness and angst.
"Genma?" Raidou called out, poking his arm.
"Hmm?" Genma turned to find Raidou stuffing the change in to his pocket. Every plate on the table was clean.
"I'm done." Raidou said, and grinned.
"Oh, great. You don't feel like keeling over anymore?" Genma asked. He even forgot – due to his dark thoughts – that he was the one who was supposed to pay for the meal instead of Raidou. It was after all Genma's treat.
"Good." Genma nodded standing up. "Come on. I'll walk you home."
Raidou could only nod.
Walking quietly beside each other was not a rare occurrence. But at the moment, it felt strange, like they were kids again and didn't know each other that well. Raidou for one was not feeling all happy about the setting. Genma looked like he just lost something big and important and it probably would have been the case if Raidou was too pig-headed.
Which, thank heavens, Raidou was not.
So being the great and nice guy and friend that he was, Raidou decided to strike a conversation. "So umm – know any good vet for Fish?"
Genma looked thoughtful. "There's a vet two blocks away from where I live that was apparently good. I can ask for an appointment? He apparently took care of one of Kakashi's nin dogs years ago when they broke a leg or something. Does magic with charka apparently."
"He can cure Fish's eye?" Raidou asked, hopeful.
"He took care of a nin dog's broken leg. He can fix Fish's eye I guess." Genma smiled at him, but it looked a bit strained. Raidou grinned at that and continued walking, not knowing what else to say. Genma smiled fondly. "I remembered Iggy-chan and how you cried like hell when he died."
"He was a good pet!" Raidou argued, scowling a bit. "You were the one who would let go of his little tomb stone when you found out."
Genma laughed. "He was a good Iguana."
"I miss Iggy-chan." Raidou said sadly, just as they reached his doorstep.
"You've got Fish now. You're not alone?" Genma said unsurely. "Besides, I'm here too."
Raidou stared at the Genma for a while, a slow cute blush worming its way to the man's cheeks. "You meant it, right?"
"Which part? Being there for you?" Genma blinked, but looked serious.
"That and the PHAT bit." Raidou asked. "I don't like being played with."
Genma rolled his eyes and ushered Raidou inside the small apartment. Just as Genma closed the door, he leaned against it and pulled Raidou against him. "I would never toy with your feelings. You just jumped in to conclusions, that's all. But even then, I love you."
Raidou buried his face in to Genma's chest. "You wouldn't leave me?"
"No. I wouldn't." Genma didn't want to say never because being a shinobi simply didn't allow such promises to be kept. "As much as I can not leave you."
Raidou got the hidden meaning and nodded. "I'll try to be good?"
Genma cupped Raidou's face with his hands and shook his head. "Just be yourself. That's all."
With that said, Genma kissed his best friend for the first time.
Raidou dropped the diet and the entire morning workout on the whole. Genma somehow reassured him that he was good the way he looked and that no amount of fat or bones would make him less attractive. Raidou did notice a few changes around him after he and Genma officially declared to themselves that they were best friends and lovers a few days later. For one, Raidou noticed how Kakashi seemed to smirk and chuckle in their general direction whenever they were together either doing paper work or submitting missions. It was a normal thing to see them together, but Kakashi knew what was going on – along with Asuma and Gai. So his life was pretty much back to normal save for a small change. Raidou didn't mind 'change' because he liked a little spark in his life once in a while.
Raidou turned to look at his sleeping lover beside him, naked as the day he was born and looking utterly peaceful. Raidou randomly decided to be playful and tickled Genma awake.
"Nice wake up call." Genma mumbled, staring blearily at Raidou with a chuckle.
"Good morning!" Raidou said in a chipper manner that he only does around Genma.
Genma smiled, closing his eyes. "Morning'." He stood up and scrambled on top of Raidou, just straddling him in a perfect fit sort of way. "Every morning is a work out itself. You wouldn't have to worry about gaining weight." Raidou cheekily grinned. "And the fact that all you eat in the evening is burned by our love making!" Genma said the word love making in a drawling, teasing manner. "You're even better on top!"
"You just like to be taken." Raidou whispered, running a finger teasingly down Genma's toned chest.
"By you." Genma whispered, leaning down to nuzzle on Raidou's ear. "Just by you, Raidou-CHAN!" Raidou blushed brightly. "And this time, please don't hold back. Don't give a damn what the neighbors say." Genma shifted and began to finger Raidou's entrance. "Just do your thing. Scream if you want to."
Raidou panted, feeling hot all of a sudden. "Genma." He moaned.
Genma shook his head, a fond grin on his face. "God I love you."
That was all it took for Raidou to be happy and vice versa. Their lives pretty much gained a little spark than it normally had and this time, Raidou mused as Genma pushed himself inside him, eliciting a cry out of Raidou (and a pretty loud one that the people next door fell silent), it wasn't just once in a while. Raidou had a gut feeling that it was going to stay for quite some time. Frankly, he didn't mind.
He loved the change because he loved Genma.
As Raidou cried in release, joined later on by Genma, somewhere in the living room, Fish swam around in flips in his little fishbowl, both eyes completely healed, just like brand new.
This fic has a moral lesson/s:
Crash-dieting is BAD!
Don't jump to conclusions
I wrote this fic because – actually I have no clue why. It just popped in to my head and I do know the feeling of going on a crash diet and it's NOT nice. I do know what happens to people who do the kind of stuff Raidou did in this fic and really, it's NOT nice.
No flames. This was a whole new study of Genma and Raidou. I'm testing out different possible ways of thinking of different shinobis under all the don't-show-emotion façade.
So yeah, hope you guys liked it! Self checked etc. so pardon mistakes I might have missed.