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You Don't Know How It Feels

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Let me run with you tonight

I’ll take you on a moonlight ride

There’s someone I used to see

But she don’t give a damn for me

 

*****

 

“You know, like at the end of Rocky III, when Rocky and Apollo fight for fun-”

 

“Yeah, when Rocky and Apollo fight for fun. Yeah, yeah, okay. Alright. ONE time, and one time only.”

 

“It is on.” Johnny clenched his fists, raising them to his chest in celebration. He was feeling warm and hazy now. Luckily karate was as much second nature to him as driving. LaRusso had matched him drink for drink, anyway. He could take the little twerp.

 

They walked through the open door of the dojo and Johnny barely suppressed an eye roll, biting back a “Come ON, man.” Of course LaRusso had a damned private dojo behind his house. Of course it was perfectly styled and looked like a fucking zen garden. Johnny settled for a rueful smile and head shake. Fucking LaRusso. 

 

Daniel turned toward Johnny and gestured to the room, holding his arms wide. “Well, whaddya think?” His Newark accent, usually contained, had emerged further with each martini. He sounded almost like he had in high school now, and something about it pierced Johnny’s comfortable haze, crystallizing the fact that he was about to reprise his oldest rivalry. His karate brain took charge, and he adopted a stance hoping Daniel wouldn’t notice. 

 

He didn’t. Daniel had launched into the grand tour, not waiting for a response from Johnny before diving headfirst into a history lesson of Okinawan karate. The fool had turned his back now. Johnny smirked. Too easy. He waited for Daniel to shift his weight to one leg, swaying slightly off-balance, and aimed a well-timed hook kick to knock his other leg out from under him. He fell to the ground in an ungraceful heap. 

 

Goddamnit , Johnny!” An indignant Daniel scrambled to his feet, hands raised on guard, facing an opponent who was no longer trying to hold back his laughter. “What about all your bullshit in the car, all that ‘I can beat you fair and square’ nonsense? Whaddya call that, attacking when a guy’s back is turned?”

 

Johnny contained his giggles enough to answer, but couldn’t keep a wide grin off of his face. “I call it striking first! Damnit, LaRusso, I don’t care if you kick me out right now. That was worth it.” He drew his focus back to the fight as they circled together, but kept smiling. Daniel’s mussed hair and piqued temper were making him look even more like his younger self, and Johnny didn’t mind it. 

 

“Kick you out? I probably should, but then I’d be missing the chance to wipe that smug grin off your face.”

 

“Bring it on, princess.” Johnny went on the offensive with a quick succession of kicks. As Daniel blocked each attack, his heart beat a little faster. It had been too long since he’d sparred against a matched opponent rather than a student. It was exhilarating.

 

They were circling again, Johnny pleased to see Daniel looking at least a little winded from his last challenge. “How are we scoring this anyway?” his opponent asked.  “First to three, tournament rules?”

 

“I was thinking we go until someone can’t take it anymore. You’re an old man, LaRusso. No shame in calling it when your hip gives out.” Daniel rolled his eyes at this. 

 

“Have it your way, Johnny. Your aching back can’t take any more, you just let me know.”

 

*****

 

People come, people go

Some grow young, some grow cold

I woke up in between

A memory and a dream

 

*****

 

They’d gotten a good burn on now. Each time Johnny caught Daniel off guard and rewarded himself with a YES. Still got it, he’d be answered by his opponent in kind, and follow that with an inward Damn. So does he. He was stubbornly not thinking about how those most recent beers were starting to catch up to him, slowing him down just enough that he felt it. He watched Daniel for similar signs. The guy was drinking martinis like soda pop less than an hour ago. He’s gotta be feeling it. He could see a sheen of sweat on the other man’s face and neck, the hair around his face falling loosely onto his forehead, dark eyes intense and focused. His breaths were coming more heavily than at first, chest moving up and down, accenting the dip where his neck met his collarbone near the open neck of his expensive dress shirt…

 

Waaaait a sec. 

 

Johnny only had a moment to wonder why he’d been contemplating the vee of exposed skin at Daniel LaRusso’s neckline when he took a strike to the shoulder, stumbling backward.

 

Shit.

 

“Who’s old now, Johnny? I knew all those Banquets would catch you eventually.” Daniel wore a cocky smirk, eyeing him lazily like he was sure Johnny was ready to give in. God, he looked just like he did as a scrawny teen on the beach. “I’m prepared to show mercy. Just say the word.” 

 

Did he really just give up a point to LaRusso due to getting distracted by his shapely neck? Yeah, guess so. Johnny was surprised to find he didn’t really give a shit. He had an advantage to press. 

 

“Showing mercy to an old man,” he said, eyes cast toward the mat, hand on his thigh like he was still recovering from the blow. “That’s noble.” He could see Daniel relax his stance, almost imperceptibly.

 

In a flurry of motion, Johnny came at his unprepared opponent. 

 

*****

 

Think of me what you will

I got a little space to fill

 

But let me get to the point, let’s roll another joint

And turn the radio to loud, I’m too alone to be proud

You don’t know how it feels

You don’t know how it feels

To be me

 

*****

 

The look on Daniel’s face when he landed flat on his back with Johnny’s knuckles aimed between his eyes was priceless. “Noble, and stupid,” Johnny said.

 

“Pulling punches, Lawrence? That’s not like you.” Daniel’s voice sounded like it was trying for teasing, but its breathlessness betrayed something less self-assured.

 

“Yeah, well. There’s something to be said for getting old, LaRusso. Guess I grew some self-control.” He relaxed his aimed fist ever so slightly, then re-tensed as Daniel began to sit up. 

 

“Hey, Johnny, easy. I’m calling it, you got me. With one caveat.” He held an accusatory finger toward Johnny’s face. “I demand a sober rematch.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, blame the martinis.” Johnny sat down on the mat next to Daniel with a satisfied smile, both leaning back against the nearest wall, catching their collective breath. “You got anything else to drink, LaRusso?”

 

“Really, Johnny?” he said with mock-derisiveness. But Daniel was already moving toward a mini-fridge in the corner, opening it and shoving fancy bottled waters out of the way to get at something in the back. He pulled out a pair of Sam Adams, uncapping both, and handing one to Johnny before taking a swig himself.

 

“Beer, LaRusso? You?

 

“Hey, don’t knock it. The home dojo isn’t just a place to clear your mind. It doubles as a place to think less clearly, from time to time. Everyone needs their space.”

 

“As long as it’s still ice, ice cold, am I right?” Johnny raised an eyebrow and leaned the neck of his beer bottle toward Daniel’s, which clinked there in a satisfactory, unspoken cheers . He  took a pull from the bottle. Damn, that was some cold beer. Maybe not a Banquet, but it was going down real easy right about now. The warm haze was back, coiling deep in his abdomen, right next to that lack-of-giving-a-shit that arose near the end of their fight. “Rematch whenever you want. Say the word, I’ll be there.” He let earnestness creep into his voice then, and met Daniel’s gaze directly. “I haven’t had such a good match in a long, long time.”

 

Not in thirty-four years, is what hung in the air for a moment, crackling there until Daniel blinked and broke the silence.

 

“Probably worth changing beforehand next time, too. I’m pretty sure this shirt is ruined.” Daniel turned, trying unsuccessfully to look over his own shoulder at the back of his dress shirt, sweat-stained and clinging to his skin. Johnny eyed it longer than strictly necessary, appreciating the translucency of the fine fabric. 

 

Ah, what the hell? he thought, shrugging inwardly. It made about as much sense as anything else today. He reached a hand out, tracing his fingers down Daniel’s back, feeling the other man freeze, suddenly still under his touch, not even breathing. “Yeah, it’s pretty bad,” he said, the slight roughness in his voice unavoidable. He slid his hand back up then, with gentle pressure, letting his palm come to rest on Daniel’s shoulder. His thumb traced a lazy arc over the exposed skin between his hairline and shirt collar. And then-- no, he wasn’t imagining it-- Daniel leaned into the touch, letting out a breath at last. “Dry cleaning won’t do much for that,” Johnny smirked. 

 

He let his fingers thread into Daniel’s hair, splaying out and back in along his scalp. Daniel tipped his head back with eyes closed and lips parted, a small, involuntary sound escaping his throat, tugging at the coiled warmth in Johnny’s gut. He moved closer, Daniel’s back settling against his chest, his head almost resting on Johnny’s shoulder. His fingers pressed circles into Daniel’s scalp, then gave the slightest tug on a handful of dark hair.

 

Daniel’s eyes opened, heavy-lidded, pupils blown. “John…” Looking down into those eyes, Johnny suddenly hoped his face didn’t look as open, as entirely wrecked as Daniel’s did. He knew better, though. His was probably even worse. He felt his breaths coming raggedly between his teeth, and couldn’t stop his eyes from roaming greedily from the dark eyes beneath his, to the parted lips and flushed neck, coming to rest on the vee of chest just visible above the topmost fastened button of the doomed dress shirt. His mouth was close to Daniel’s ear, and he turned toward it, breathing out a venomless curse. 

 

Damn you, LaRusso.” He could smell him now, and his mind spiraled wildly. Suddenly he was wondering what he’d taste like, and before he could control it, his tongue darted to find out, licking a stripe just below Daniel’s jaw. Deeper down some part of him was lecturing about consequences, but he was too far gone to care. Daniel’s head was flung back against his shoulder, his weight pressed back on Johnny’s chest, his sweat on Johnny’s tongue. Despite the alcohol in his veins and the burn of lactic acid, Johnny felt clearer than he had in decades. 

 

All those years, THIS was what it was?

 

Suddenly, Johnny knew exactly what he wanted. The coiled heat was blazing now, but the haze was gone. He was vulnerable, open, but not remotely scared. He put his lips close to Daniel’s ear again, letting them brush the delicate skin as he spoke.

 

“Look at me.”

 

Daniel’s eyes snapped open, and Johnny searched them. He licked his bottom lip, watching dark eyes flick down to his mouth, watching Daniel’s tongue mirror the motion on himself. 

 

Good enough for me.

 

Johnny pressed their mouths together, silencing a wild thought that they must look like the cover of a cheap Harlequin novel. Daniel tangled his fingers in Johnny’s hair, opening up to him with the barest prompting. The corner of Johnny’s mouth quirked upward, an irresistible victory smirk.

 

*****

 

Daniel’s mind was screaming at him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Johnny’s tongue was probing his mouth, his hand pressed into the small of his back, his other hand still tugging deliciously at his hair. The heat was spreading outward from his gut in shocks of arousal, making him harder than he could remember being since his teenage years. A sudden image of his blond-headed adversary of yesteryear flashed through his mind, and the fear of those memories was replaced with a sharp desire for the man currently clasping him like a lover. Jesus Christ, what was wrong with him? An hour ago he’d have said this made no sense, but now he was falling, and he didn’t really care what made sense anymore. Whatever this was, he wanted more of it.

 

He felt Johnny break the kiss and shift around, encouraging him to lay back against the mat. He straddled Daniel then, suddenly reconnecting in a searing kiss while grinding their hips together for a few moments of aching, necessary friction. As suddenly as it began, Johnny pulled away, and Daniel’s eyes flew open as his body chased the missing contact, rolling onto his side, barely able to keep from reaching toward the retreating figure. 

 

Johnny turned to lean briefly against the corner of the dojo, resting a forearm there and surveying his work.

 

“About that rematch. You know where to find me.” He turned on his heel and left, the roar of the Challenger’s engine echoing in Daniel’s ears as he sped into the night. 

 

Daniel huffed out a breath and fell back bonelessly to the mat, aching with exertion and need. God, what an asshole, he thought, but his hand crept inexorably toward his waistband, and he wasn’t going to stop it.

 

*****

 

And you don’t know how it feels

No, you don’t know how it feels

To be me

 

*****

 

Johnny gripped the steering wheel in a white-knuckled clench. It had been an alpha move, that’s for sure, leaving LaRusso wrecked on the mat like that. He bared his teeth a little as he shifted in the seat, hissing with discomfort at an erection that had forgotten he wasn’t seventeen anymore. Badass or not, he’d have to reconsider that move in the future.

 

It’s gonna be a long ride home.

 

*****

 

So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint

Let’s head on down the road

There’s somewhere I gotta go

And you don’t know how it feels

No, you don’t know how it feels

To be me