For senkoed.


"It looks like a bad storm is brewing," Komatsu said, curtains on his living room window pulled wide to reveal the gray evening sky, dark with swollen clouds. On the street below, people were hurrying to find shelter from the rising wind as lights lining the sidewalks flickered to life. "You should stay here tonight, Zebra-san."

"A little rain isn't going to bother me, kid." Zebra frowned, eyes glued to the world outside, expression just as threatening, maybe more so, than the mad bit of nature gathering in the distance.

Komatsu sighed, amused and exasperated in equal measure by Zebra's unnecessary posturing. The bishokuya was well aware Komatsu wanted Zebra here for his own peace of mind; it'd take much, much worse than this to put Zebra in the slightest bit of danger, but Komatsu would worry despite the knowing. He remembered - vividly - his time in that monstrous cumulonimbus. "Of course not. Still, if it's not an inconvenience?"

Zebra did not immediately smirk and agree; he continued to scowl, avoiding Komatsu's gaze. This uncustomary avoidance, more than anything, stirred Komatsu's concern. Zebra looked...uncomfortable, tense muscled shifting restless in a nearly fight or flight response, teeth clenched and hands rolled into fists. It had to be the storm and not something Komatsu had said or done - dinner was a relatively quiet affair, quiet as any situation involving Heavenly Kings and food could be - and just the two of them, Zebra pleasantly mellow while Komatsu chattered on about this and that.

The first hint of changing weather came from Zebra himself, head lifted as he listened to noise only he could here, this lips pressing together in discontent when he twitched the curtains apart for a glimpse of the whatever-it-was. Curious, Komatsu had gone for his own look and spotted the blackening horizon swallowing what light remained from the dying sun.

The mere suggestion of the storm scaring Zebra was ridiculous. Yet there was no denying his obvious discomfort, or that it began only after the storm began closing in. But how to breach the subject with a volatile personality like Zebra's?

Komatsu got lucky; the oncoming storm took responsibility and made the answer very clear indeed. Zebra was twitching his gaze between the window, Komatsu, and the hall that led to his front door - almost as if Zebra was readying to make a break for it - when the first crash of thunder sounded overhead, not loud, not yet, but resounding with a promise of worse to come.

Zebra flinched.

Just the tiniest twitch of his cheek, a minute full body tensing, but Komatsu knew Zebra well enough to catch the fleeting reaction.

"Zebra-san, is the thunder-?"

"Too fuckin' loud," Zebra grumbled.

Komatsu smiled sympathetically, drawing back from the window to rejoin Zebra on the couch. Thunder could be painfully loud to an ordinary person; he couldn't imagine how it must sound to someone with enhanced hearing. "This storm will likely last a while. You really should stay here tonight. Please?" He was hardly going to let Zebra leave when every thunderclap hurt.

Zebra's frown said he was going to argue, but another, closer crash stayed his temper. "Fine."

Relieved, Komatsu set about trying to think of anything he could do to distract Zebra from the storm. Food, of course, but they'd just finished eating and Komatsu was running low on ingredients as it was. There wasn't much he could make, especially if he needed to cook a large breakfast in the morning. He turned on the television, hoping to give Zebra some other sounds to focus on, but after only a few minutes of some perky, pink-suited newscaster making embarrassing food puns (and a Zebra Report that ended up being unintentionally hilarious as a grim looking man warned them all about the same bishokuya sitting in his living room, scowling at the screen while Komatsu bit back laughter) before the loudest crash of thunder yet precipitated a plunge into darkness as the power failed. Only his fridge remained functional - he'd bought one with a built-in backup generator since there were too many expensive ingredients to risk wasting.

Zebra had gone right back to being tense and miserable. Komatsu glanced between Zebra and the window, at a loss as to what to do next.


Komatsu shifted closer to Zebra, turning to face him. "About what?"

"Anything. I don't give a shit."

Komatsu thought for a moment, and then choose a topic he could go on about for hours: the steps he took, as well as his hits and misses, while recreating the Century Soup. He started off slowly, gathering the memories, but was soon rambling enthusiastically. This was, he realized, the first time he'd spoken about it, since Toriko would always be more interested in eating his meal that how it was cooked. Enjoying himself, Komatsu only paused twice - when torrential rain began pouring down all at once, and when Zebra lifted him to rest against his chest, cheek setting on his shoulder so Komatsu's mouth was just below his ear. Komatsu faltered, face flushing at the sudden closeness, but quickly relaxed into Zebra's warmth. Zebra was calmer now, the tension in his body melting away.

Maybe it was the rain, clamorous but far less disconcerting than the thunder, but Komatsu smiled and snuggled closer at the thought of affecting Zebra this way. He lowered his voice, words becoming nothing more than an intimate murmur - so quiet Komatsu could barely hear himself over the rain - and trailed off entirely when Zebra's broad fingers curled around his chin and guided their lips together.

Komatsu returned the kiss lazily, drowsy and content and ready to stay like this until the storm passed-

Thunder crashed directly overhead, one of those massive explosions of sounds that vibrated the walls and made a person want to duck for cover because it seemed sky was falling. It was loud enough that Komatsu flinch, head ringing with it. When Zebra's grip on him tightened to the point of pain and then ripped away just as quickly to avoid hurting him, Komatsu reacted on instinct. His hands flew up to cradle ears.

But not his own ears.

The powerful thunderclap subsided, leaving Komatsu with a dazed bishokuya blinking at him, body slack between his small fingers and giving the momentary illusion that Komatsu was all that held Zebra up. Then Zebra recovered, eyes narrowing dangerous, and his hands wrapped around Komatsu's and pulled them away from his ears.

"What the hell are you doing, kid?"

"I..." Komatsu shrugged as best he could with Zebra's fingers like manacles on his arms. It felt like an idiot thing to do now, after the fact; it wasn't as if you could easily muffle sounds for someone who's hearing was as sensitive as Zebra's. Not to mention his hands were barely large enough to cover the bishokuya's ears. "I just wanted to help."

There was a long second where Zebra just looked at him, and then he laughed, a gruff, hoarse rumble that almost sounded rusty with disuse. Komatsu's lips parted as he listened - Zebra was laughing at him, definitely, but not in a mean way, like he was making fun; rather, it was as if he found Komatsu so strange he had to laugh, or...something - and curled upward as the laughter continued. Zebra dropped Komatsu's wrists and reached for his waist instead.

"You really wanna help that bad?" Zebra asked, chuckling around his words. "Fine."

He stuck Komatsu in the crook of his elbow and carried him out of the room, tossing the chef onto his own bed and grinning when Komatsu bounced a little with the force of it. Komatsu couldn't help but blush - he'd never been thrown on a bed before - but didn't protest as Zebra joined him, knees digging deep into the mattress and urging Komatsu toward his pillows with a few well-placed prods.

Komatsu rubbed at his side, trying to glare because there would be bruises the size and shape of Zebra's knuckles tomorrow morning. Zebra just smirked and started yanking Komatsu's shirt over his head, getting him tangled in the material. The attempt ended with Komatsu smacking Zebra's hands away to do it himself, managing to tear off the bunched up piece of clothing, flushing when he realized his hair must be a mess. He probably looked ridiculous in the water drenched light of the moon.

But then he arguably always looked ridiculous, and Zebra certainly didn't seem to care, shouldering Komatsu's legs apart and dropping kisses on his mouth, his throat, his collarbone. Komatsu's breath caught in his lungs. Heart pounding, his toes curled in the sheets and he squirmed in anticipation, shuddering to a stop only when Zebra pinned him to the bed with one huge hand and growled in warning.

Zebra flopped down beside him, planted his head in the middle of Komatsu's chest, and didn't move again.

A few minutes passed in silence, Komatsu trying desperately not to giggle as he wondered if this was something the King liked to do beforehand. Not that he minded - Zebra's weight was surprisingly comfortable. Finally, Komatsu said, "Um, Zebra-san..."

"Shut up," he replied, "I'm listening."

Komatsu's heart thumped hard beneath his ribs. Zebra was using the steady beat to center himself and lessen the storm's bite, and it was working, too; the next roiling burst of thunder roared across the sky - not as deafening as the last, thankfully - and Zebra didn't so much as flinch, simply shifting his arm under Komatsu's thighs to keep the chef in place. Komatsu relaxed back into the pillows, fingers coming up to card through wild red strands, rubbing affectionately at the thin skin behind Zebra's ear with his thumb.

The noise Zebra made then was somewhere between a groan and a purr. "We'll fuck later," he muttered.

Komatsu couldn't help the giggles this time, couldn't choke them back even when Zebra's palm settled across his face in a silent demand for him to be quiet (which he would have ignored anyway - it was hard to take Zebra seriously when the man was cuddling him).

Right, then.

Snuggle now, sex later. His smile widened; it was a very Zebra way of doing things, after all.

A/N - That's the wrong way 'round, Zebra.

You're ruining my attempts at writing smut, Zebra.