Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations I put all the poor characters in. Thanks so much for reading my fic, I look forward to hearing what you think of it! Have a good read and a great day.

Fighting Spirit

The bar was packed when Takashi finally arrived. Weaving his way through the crowd as he looked for his family, Takashi supposed it was small of him that he was so looking forward to this. He'd even been counting down the days on his calendar. And he'd be willing to bet a fair bit that his little brother had been doing the same since the news hit. Normally blowing a Saturday night in a bar with his family would seem like a big waste of time, but this was a special occasion. It didn't matter that the floors were filthy, the atmosphere smokey, and that the televisions were all blaring. No, all was right in the world for the moment because tonight was the night Takashi's father got one hell of a wake up call. Everyone was going to get one. Just able to stop himself from rubbing his hands in glee Takashi paused to take it all in.

Everyone in the bar was there to watch the karate tournament on the three big screen televisions that had been set up by Machi's dad, the owner of the bar. Not surprising really, seeing as it was his eldest son who was competing in the final bout, which was being specially televised in less than fifteen minutes. Hence the fact that the bar was actually filled for once. People from all over town had crowded in to watch their homeboy make good on the huge screens and more than a little money was changing hands as people bet as to how quickly Iori would take down the unknown challenger. Grinning, Takashi was willing to bet that he and Hikaru were probably the only ones betting on the home town hero's opponent winning. When they won, it was going to be such a sweet pot.

Finally finding his family, who was unfortunately sitting with Machi's family, Takashi sighed, sucked it up, and made his way over to grab the seat they'd saved for him. It had been four years since the now infamous trip to visit Shotaro. His friendship with Machi had ended that night, and the two now avoided each other like the seven plagues of Egypt. Unfortunately, their dads were still good friends. "Hi, everyone." Takashi called out over the noise, the crowd a rowdy one as they waited for the commercials to end so that the big event could take place. There were banners, posters, even hats, Takashi noted with a small smirk. It just got better and better.

"Thought you were going to miss it." Sitting back in his chair Takashi's father gave him a censoring look but didn't stay on the subject. Since Shotaro had disowned himself, their dad had really eased off on the rest of them. Like he expected them to do the same if he wasn't careful.

"So what's this I hear about you betting against my boy, Takashi?" Machi's dad asked cheerfully, punching Takashi lightly in the shoulder.

"Sorry, Sir, but I need rent money and this will cover the next two months."

"So you think Iori's going to lose?"

Ignoring the nasty undertones of Machi's question Takashi shrugged. "Iori's a great martial artist, no question. I just happened to know that his opponent is more than his equal when it comes to ass-kicking skills."

Whatever Machi might have said in response to that was cut off as Machi's dad loudly told everyone to be quiet as the commercials ended and the announcer announced that it was almost time for the big match.

"...And now we'll go down to Imura san who's down on the floor, ready to interview Iori Tendo, a contender in today's final match."

The bar exploded into loud cheering that quickly died out as everyone got a look at what was playing out on screen.

The screen went to a reporter but the man wasn't even looking at the camera. The reason why became brutally clear as the camera zoomed in on the two figures visible over the reporter's shoulder. The audio was clear as a bell.

"Just back off, Iori!" His dark eyes flashing Kadoma wasn't backing down as he glared at the older man. While Machi had been his chief oppressor in the Tendo family, Iori had whacked him upside the head plenty as a kid. But he sure as hell wasn't a kid anymore and he wasn't about to take any crap from his former neighbor. Standing tall, having finally reached a height that brought him to just above Kujou's chin, Kadoma wasn't a light weight girlie boy anymore. He was still slender, but there was definition in his arms and chest, his gaze direct and with a confidence he'd once majorly lacked. He'd done a lot of growing up since he'd seen Iori last and he was going to make that perfectly clear.

"Ohhhhhh, like I'm afraid of you, fag boy." Iori sneered, an older version of his brother in looks and personality, though Iori was far more developed in the muscles and ego area. Which was saying something. "What are you doing here anyway? Somebody's towel boy?"

"Bite me."

"Yeah, you'd enjoy that, wouldn't you, Uke?"

Getting sick to his stomach just thinking about it Kadoma glared up at him fiercely. "You know what I've always noticed about you and your brothers, Iori? You always get more mouthy and annoying when you're scared. You're scared out of your small mind right now, aren't you? You know you're going to get your ass kicked today so you're picking on me to make you feel big. You probably figure if you pick a fight with me you can play injured so you don't have to compete and embarrass yourself in front of everyone. Well I kicked your idiot brother's ass the last time I saw him and while I'd be happy to do the same to you, I'm looking forward to you falling flat on your ass on live television too much to finish you off now."

"Why you little..." Drawing back his fist Iori looked ready to throw a punch that if it hit, would likely break some bones.


Though the single word was spoken softly and without threat, the four others in the room instinctively stiffened, just something about that voice causing them to freeze in their places. The speaker walked into the viewing screen, a tall boy with light colored hair and brown eyes that spoke of intelligent authority. He was dressed in a white gi, and the aura of controlled power more of a hint as to his abilities than the black belt knotted at his waist. The young man walking over to Kadoma's side, he placed a restraining hand on his man's shoulder, though he never took his eyes off his future opponent. "Save it for the match, Tendo san."

"He's with you? This your seme, Sho?" Smirking Iori looked his opponent up and down with open scorn. "And here I thought I was going to have a match worth taping today. What a waste of my time."

"You're right, this match will be a waste of time."

Surprised that his opponent was agreeing with him Iori could only gap at the other man.

"A waste as I'll beat you in under a minute. I was going to draw it out at least four, so that those who've paid money to watch would get a little something out of it. However, I find the idea of treating you as an equal nauseating." Turning towards the camera Kujou gave a short bow, finally drawing the other two's attention to the fact that the whole thing had been recorded without their knowledge. "My apologies to the viewers." Gently herding a now bright red Shotaro away the two disappeared from view while Iori was left looking dumbly into the camera.

"Uhm well..." Doing his best to hide his glee the reporter finally looked into the camera. "We're going to commerical now, and when we come back, it will be time for the match! Will Itsuki Kujou be able to defeat Iori Tendo in under a minute? Stay tuned to find out!"

In the bar there was dead silence. For his part, Takashi was a little sorry they'd caught that whole thing on video before the main event. He'd been sorta hoping that his father wouldn't find out who Iori was facing until the actual match. Oh well, you couldn't have everything.

"Was that...?" His mother trailing off, unable to say the name of her lost son. Takashi's mother looked at him beseechingly, her eyes starting to water when he nodded in silent affirmation.

"Iori's opponent is that...his..." Unable to say his son's name it was obvious that the eldest Kadoma was struggling with how to ask without talking about that which had been deemed unspeakable by him.

"Itsuki Kujou is Shotaro's man, yeah. He was vice captain of the karate team at Sho's school, remember? He could have been captain, but his best friend was the better teacher so Itsuki let Tennoji san have the captain title." Hikaru informed them all, having come over in time to hear Takashi's dad's stuttering. She and Takashi were no longer going out, but they were still on friendly terms and she kept in touch. She was pretty much the only person Takashi could talk to about Shotaro, since no one else wanted to acknowledge his little brother's existence. "That's why I bet on him, because Shotaro told me all about him. Did you know that they called him "Botsatsu Kujou" and "Ashura Kujou", after the Buddhist gods? I heard that usually, his opponents would just resign in high school rather than face him. He never gets upset or breaks his cool, he's just an ass kicking machine apparently. Should be interesting to see how our local hothead deals with the ultimate ice man, huh?" Her wicked glee was as transparent as glass.

All around them whispers broke out as they took in what they'd overheard at the front table AND on the television. Everyone knew about the Kadoma boy, the one who'd been so girlie looking he might as well have been a girl even before his sexual preferences came out thanks to Machi's big mouth. Before that, Kadoma had been well liked by the community, a kind and helpful boy who'd never had a mean word for anyone. Apparently the soft spoken boy had grown into a tough young man, one who had the back bone to mess with someone of Iori's notoriety. And had Shotaro really been the one to beat Machi up? They'd all assumed it had been Takashi.

"Looks like the match is starting." Machi's dad called out, the jolly, cheerful mood having evaporated from the table and the bar. Now there was a definite edge, a competitive, combative feel to things. This wasn't about martial arts anymore, it wasn't even about sports. It was as if Iori was representing one train of thought and his competitor the opposite end of the spectrum. So just who would win?

The screen was split in half, an image of each opponent on either side. On Iori's the town could see the local boy getting some last minute instructions from his coach, though it was obvious that Iori was barely paying any attention to him. No, his focus was on his opponent on the other side of the room.

On the other side of the screen was Kujou who stood alone, standing tall and proud as he waited to be called to the mat. When the announcers called for the opponents to step onto the mat the crowds watched Kujou lift a chain from around his neck, a golden ring appearing at the end of it. Kujou grasped the ring, turning around to look at someone off screen as he touched the ring to his lips for a moment before returning the chain to its former hiding place under his gi. Than he stepped onto the mat, and the split screen went to a wide screen view of the mat as the two opponents met in the center to bow and face off against each other for the first and last time, a rather worried looking announcer between them.

The announcer went through the usual spiel, introducing the event, the sponsors, the opponents and their prior accomplishments in the world of martial arts. The fact that Kujou's list was longer and more prestigious escaped no one. Once that was done and the basic rules were gone over the announcer beat a hasty retreat and called out for the match to begin once he was safely off the mat. Facing each other the two bowed to each other, then moved in to circle their opponent.

What happened next would be talked about for weeks, speculation and gossip abound as everyone gave their own interpetation of the event. All that could be said for sure though was that Itsuki Kujou had said something, something that had caused Iori Tendo to act in the foolish way that had spelled his demise.

If the high tech cameras hadn't caught the image of Kujou's lips moving to form words ,they wouldn't even know that much, as only Tendo and Kujou could say what had been said and neither ever spoke of it. Whatever was said though, it drove the hotheaded Tendo to a move that would seal his fate with astonishing quickness. With a decidedly screechy war cry he had charged at Kujou like a raging bull, jumping into a leap to deliver a kick that was considered his signature move. The infamous kick never landed though, as Kujou's own kick caught him in the chest first, sending the other man flying backwards and back onto the mat; where he remained without stirring while the audience held their breath in anticipation. When the announcer finally got the courage to step onto the mat he confirmed that Tendo was out cold and Kujou was the winner. The match had lasted exactly 41.7 seconds.

In the interview following the match Kujou would state for the record that it was the difference in leg length that had allowed him to easily take his opponent down. Tendo was just average height while Kujou was above, and most of his height was in his legs. Of course no one really believed that it had come down to a height difference but that was all Kujou was willing to say on the matter. It wasn't just the quickness of the match that made headlines either. At the time of the interview Kujou had been surrounded by friends and family, with one girl drawing all their attention when she threw her arms around the winner to congratulate him. One reporter, who obviously either hadn't witnessed or heard about the prior speculation of Kujou's sexual orientation, asked if this was his wife, as she was wearing a ring and everyone had witnessed him reveal the ring he wore hidden around his neck.

Kujou had simply met the man's gaze openly and shook his head. "No, Mizuki san is a friend of Shotaro's and mine." And then he had put an arm around Kadoma's waist and drew the younger man to his side. "This is my husband."

The bar was dead silent, everyone not knowing what the hell to say as the program finished with that, as Kujou wasn't the type to give interviews and the questioning had nothing to do with fighting and everything to do with Kujou's simple statement.

"Well looks like I owe you 300 yen." Hikaru said softly, pulling out of her wallet. Handing it over to Takashi she grinned back at him. "Here I thought it would take him at least three minutes."

"Past history, I figured Itsuki san would want to take him down quick." Pocketing the change Takashi winked at his former girlfriend before turning back to look at the table occupants. Machi's family all looked shell shocked and his wasn't much better. His mom looked like she was going to start crying and his dad looked like he'd been hit by a two by four. His brothers were right up there with dad. "Well since the match is over I'm going to head out." Standing up Takashi stretched, raising his arms above his head as he faked a yawn. "Its been a long day and it's going to be another one tomorrow. I'll stop by tomorrow to get my winnings, Mr. Tendo. Sorry that Iori...didn't get much of a chance to show his skills."

"They're married? Sho and that...man."

Surprised Takashi turned to meet his dad's stunned gaze. That was what had shocked his dad? Then again, dear old dad had never really seen the two of them together, except for that one and only meeting. And he'd said Shotaro's name, something he hadn't done since the day Shotaro had left the family for good.

"Yeah, they got married a year and a half ago. Itsuki works at his friend's dojo and Sho is getting a degree in sports medicine. They moved in with each other as soon as Sho graduated."


It was a little after midnight when Kadoma's cellphone went off. Raising his head from Itsuki's shoulder Shotaro looked around sleepily, rubbing his hands over his eyes as he tried to wake up enough to process the ringing and where it was coming from. Slipping out of the bed Shotaro found his pants just in time, retrieving the phone with a whispered "Aha." Putting the phone to his ear he asked who it was even as he tried to slip into his pants once more so that he could go stand outside the hotel room, so as not to wake Itsuki. Pleased when his brother Takashi's voice came over the line Shotaro was happy to talk as he finished buttoning up his pants. Grabbing a room key Shotaro slipped out of the room and into the hallway, listening with unholy glee as Takashi gave him a blow by blow of what had happened in their home town earlier.

"So why are you calling so late?" Shotaro asked, stifling a yawn as he was worn out from a combination of jet lag and celebrating. Itsuki had had a lot of energy to work off since he hadn't gotten a proper match. Not that he'd complained.

"Well there's someone who wants to talk to you. You got a few minutes more?"

Biting down on his bottom lip Shotaro didn't have to be a mind reader to know that Takashi didn't mean Hikaru, who had already called to congratulate them anyway. Which meant... "Who?"


"He wants to talk to me?"

"He said your name for the first time today. He wants to talk to you. Can I put him on?"


Takashi got off and Shotaro could hear noise in the background, then silence. Dead silence. Then faintly, he could just make out the sound of breathing. His father.

"You wanted to talk to me?" His tone was defensive, Shotaro knew it but at the same time couldn't help it. It had become instinctive. When his family came up, Shotaro would rather be run over by a car.

"I...I..saw you on the T.V. today."

That was it. They hadn't spoken to each other in four years and that was all his father could think to say. His family needed counseling even more than the Osbornes.

All sorts of harsh, sarcastic answers coming to mind, they died away as warm, strong arms wrapped around his waist from behind, drawing him up against the familiar comfort of his husband's chest. Looking up their eyes met, conveying a hundred different messages in mere seconds. Drawing on the strength of who they were together Shotaro managed a hint of a smile, takign a deep breath before answering. "Yeah, so Hikaru and Takashi told me."

"You...doing all right?"

His eyes never leaving Itsuki's Shotaro's smile widened and became genuine. "Yeah. I'm doing really great."

"Good. And...good night...Shotaro."

"Good night...Father." Hanging up the phone Shotaro absently slid the phone back into his pant pocket. "My dad asked to talk to me."

Nodding his head Kujou set his head atop Shotaro's. "He did."

"It's a good day."

"A great day." Kujou corrected, tightening his hold on the love of his life. "As long as we're together, it will always be good day."


The End