Summary: Komatsu takes a needle to Zebra's cheek.
"Toriko isn't here this time. If you want my cheek closed up, do it yourself, kid."
Komatsu wouldn't have pressed; that particular condition was only something he'd spouted in the heat of the moment, trying to one up Zebra in their competition of increasingly ridiculous conditions. He honestly didn't expect Zebra to have his cheek sewn shut all the time. At Hotel Gourmet, perhaps, or when they were out in crowded public places, even if it didn't make much of a difference to how easily Zebra was recognized. It was the attempt that counted or…something.
When they were alone, just the two of them or with Toriko and the handful of people who wouldn't pass out at the mere sight of him, Komatsu didn't care whether or not Zebra kept his ripped cheek closed.
Apparently Zebra had yet to realize that was true – yes, Komatsu had been staring, but at Zebra, not solely on the mutilated part his face, and he'd thought the man was napping anyhow – and now Komatsu had a lapful of Zebra's head as he threaded a needle through scarred skin with a great deal of care and patience.
His free hand cradled the base of Zebra's skull, holding the bishokuya's head still as he worked steadily inwards. At first Komatsu had been slow, clumsy with the fear of hurting Zebra or stitching the wrong way, but Zebra closed his eyes the second he laid down and hadn't opened them again, not even to accuse Komatsu of getting cocky for daring to poke him with a pointy object or some other unreasonable excuse. The longer that period of silence stretched, the more confident Komatsu became; he fell into a quick rhythm – wiping the occasional bead of blood away with his thumb - and now he was almost finished.
When he reached Zebra's mouth, Komatsu tied off and cut the thread with a small knife, sitting up to roll the stiffness from his shoulders. How much time had he spent doing this? Long enough that the stitches were near perfectly even. Komatsu traced a fingertip underneath the line, pleased the edges were so straight despite his shaky start. His work was neater than Toriko's had been.
"Zebra-san, I'm done," he said, frowning slightly when the man didn't move or acknowledge he'd spoken at all. "Zebra-san?"
Komatsu relaxed his grip on Zebra's neck, and his head lolled limply to the side, face now pressed against Komatsu's stomach. The shift in position caused a change in Zebra's breathing, because Komatsu could make out faint snores. While tiny, soft puffs of breath warmed the skin beneath his shirt, Komatsu took a moment to appreciate that Zebra was sleeping in his lap.
When Zebra showed up on his doorstep with a sack full of ingredients and a demand for his cooking, Komatsu certainly hadn't expected the evening to end like this. Zebra simply hadn't left after they ate – not that Komatsu would ever think of trying to kick him out – and they eventually found their way to his couch, the television playing quietly in the background as Komatsu desperately tried and failed to think of absolutely anything he could do to entertain a Heavenly King in his apartment besides cooking. Then Zebra decided to nap – pretend nap, he knew now – arms crossed and head tilted forward, and Komatsu's eyes wandered from the screen to the man beside him, far more engaging than a documentary on wild beasts he'd seen in person. That was how all this began: Zebra glancing over to catch him starting.
Smiling gently, Komatsu smoothed loose strands of hair from Zebra's forehead, fingers seeking out his stitched cheek again. He wondered how it happened. There was so much he had to learn about not only Zebra and Toriko, but all the Kings; Zebra's cheek, the scars on Toriko's face, Sunny's quirky sense of beauty, and Coco being driven into self-exile…there was an incredible amount of history there, stories sure to be both painful and fantastic if he ever heard them. When he heard them.
There was no better place to start than with the King in his lap. Komatsu yawned, sliding down the couch so his neck was supported more comfortably by the cushions. He'd ask…but first, a nap of his own.
A/N - Why add that info at the top? Because this is going to become a collection, the place I dump all future Toriko ficlets instead of posting a bajillion separate short fics, and I'm going to change the summary whenever I add a new one. It's easier this way.