Pairings/: pre-Antonio/Jayden
Disclaimer/: If I owned them, it would not be subtext.
Warnings/: UberFluff? Nothing, really. Some eventual angst.
Author's Notes/: Obviously this happens before Ji Is An Asshole, because Jayden had no doubts about Antonio joining the team until Ji talked him out of it.

I am trying *extremely* hard not to steal anything from Guardian of Hope, because her version of Samurai is already trying to merge with my headcanon, because it makes SO MUCH sense. So while there may be occasional similarities, they're not intentional. (Go read her stories! They're fantastic! )

mi amigo - my friend

asombroso - amazing

After twenty minutes of watching Jayden and Antonio, the others had discreetly made themselves scarce. The sparring continued without them for nearly an hour. Jayden was insistent that he needed to test Antonio's new skills to be sure that he'd be able to hold his own in battle. Antonio on the other hand, just wanted to play, which was obvious by the grin on his face.

While he'd never admit it aloud, part of Jayden just wanted to play too.

Eventually Jayden leaned against a tree to catch his breath as they finally broke apart. Antonio had certainly improved from their days of banging a bokken against a training dummy, that was for sure.

"Heads up."

He caught the water bottle that was tossed to him absently, taking a slow drink as Antonio came to flop on the ground beside him. A hand reached up to tug at his, and he sat down obediently. He felt Antonio's head drop to rest against his shoulder, and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "It's almost like you never left," he murmured.

Antonio made a noise of agreement, shifting a little to take a drink of his own.

Back to back now, Jayden leaned into him a little more, enjoying the feeling of warmth pressed against his spine. "I missed your stories," he admitted.

He could hear the grin in Antonio's voice. "I've got plenty more to share, mi amigo. I've seen things you'll never believe!"

He chuckled. "You always say that."

"You doubt me?" Antonio gasped in mock-offense.

"No." Because he didn't. He'd never doubt Antonio. "I'm sure you've seen a lot more than I have."

Darn. That was bitter. He hadn't meant to say it, but something about being around Antonio tended to loosen control of his tongue.

A hand dropped down to squeeze his. "For now. After all this Nighlock business is taken care of, you and I are going on a nice, long trip. And I'll show you *everything*."

He smiled wistfully, wishing they really could. "I'm looking forward to it."

They fell silent for awhile, enjoying one another's company.

"How's your dad?" he asked eventually.

There was an akward pause.

"He died. Just after we moved."

He cringed, trying to turn to look at him, but Antonio kept hold of his hand, preventing him. "I'm sorry - "

"It's fine." He caught a dismissive hand gesture out of the corner of his eye. "It was a long time ago. And my new parents are asombroso."

"New parents?"

"Mm. I got adopted a few months after it happened." A pause. "I should call them. I promised to let them know I made it safely."

He frowned a little. "What did you tell them when you left?"

"That I had something I needed to do. They understood."

"Just like that?" he asked skeptically.

Antonio chuckled softly. "When you meet Papa, you'll understand."

He sighed, because it was doubtful that he would. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"You should be with them. And now that you're here ... "

Now Antonio was the one sitting up to turn around, and he reluctantly let go of his hand to let him. He was rewarded with a frown. "Jay, I came here because I wanted to. I promised, remember?"

He shook his head, even if the memory of the solemn pinky promise they'd made almost made him smile. "But your family - "

"Understands. Better than you'd think."

"Still - "

"Trust me, Jayden." Antonio's eyes bore into his, solemn and intent. "I'm exactly where I need to be."

His felt himself flush a little and glanced away, embarassed. He opened his mouth -

And a hand squeezed his again. "I'm sure," Antonio assured him.

He smiled ruefully. "How do you do that?"

There was a pause, and he glanced back to find Antonio looking troubled. " ... Antonio?"

Antonio shook his head. "I ... I want to tell you, but you won't believe me," he admitted. "Not at first."

He frowned. "Why wouldn't I believe you?"

That earned him a chuckle and a wry smile. "It is pretty unbelievable."

"Antonio, *everything* about you is unbelievable."

"Hey!" Antonio cried in outrage. He leapt forward, tackling him to the ground, and they rolled around in the grass for a few minutes.

Eventually Jayden found himself pinned on his back with Antonio flopped across his stomach, refusing to move. It wasn't uncomfortable, so he looked up at the slowly darkening sky. "Will you tell me someday?"

"Someday I'll tell you everything, Jay. I promise."

Antonio had never broken a promise to him.

"I missed you," he whispered at the sky.

The hand found his again, intertwining their fingers in silent understanding.

"Missed you, too," Antonio murmured.