Kojiro remembered a smell like this. Before S they had to get creative with their skate locations. He still remembered one terrible suggestion of an abandoned waste water facility. This was worse.
It was why he’d indulged in what was left of the sake from their evening meal, while he waited for his turn to clean off. He wouldn’t say he was drunk, but there was an ease to the feeling of finally sloughing off the disgusting mud caked layer of grime on his skin in Kaoru’s incredibly fancy shower. He would have complained about it being too ostentatious for even Kaoru’s prissy standards, but there seemed to be a self-cleaning mode that meant Kojiro wasn’t stepping into the other’s grime. Hard to complain about that.
Shadow stumbled in milliseconds after Kojiro had finished, muttering something about how he should have been one of the ‘kids’ that got to go first. At least he wasn’t screaming and hugging Kojiro again. That guy was always high strung in one direction or another.
The kids were already passed out on the floor, limbs bent awkwardly in angles he remembered not being comfortable from much earlier days. He nudged Miya with his foot, resisting the urge to nudge harder when the kid yawned like a cat and threw an arm over his head.
That stupid trick on the beach earlier was low.
“Don’t you all have your own rooms?” Kaoru asked, voice cutting like glass with his unconstrained irritation.
“You tried that false protest when we begged to use your shower, Big Brother Cherry.” Kojiro smirked and looked over his shoulder to catch Kaoru’s reaction, but was reminded as to why he was so annoyed with Miya once he looked.
Kaoru’s legs had been a bother all day. It was completely without reason that he’d have legs like that. It wasn’t as if Kojiro didn’t know Kaoru had legs—he’d unfortunately (barely) won the beef using them and his needlessly overcomplicated AI system—but Kojiro’d never looked at them like that before.
Once he looked at the legs he saw every other line of Kaoru’s form, built for precision like everything else about his overly high-brow attitude. Long fingers and steady hands. A cut of muscle from his neck to his shoulder and an even longer reach from his neck to his jaw. It didn’t help that right after Kojiro started looking, he’d had a solid ten minutes seeing more of it in the Hot Spring before those things showed up.
“What?” Kaoru asked, lips pinched thin. He was wearing a clean yukata the hotel provided, but it was slightly damp at the shoulders—meaning he’d rushed once he was done cleaning to give Kojiro his own turn.
Kojiro drew his hand up and around in a long gesture. “You still have that gunk in your hair.”
“I am aware,” Kaoru said, somehow his lips pinching even thinner. There was a towel twisting in his hand, catching the ends of his own hair. “Your fan club is still in the shower.”
Kojiro ignored his own automatic wince and the extremely small responding smile Kaoru always got when he thought he’d landed a good one. “The sink is open, unless you’re too high and mighty to bend your head.”
Kaoru was still working at the ends of his hair with the towel. “I tried that.” He didn’t end the statement with any sort of gorilla insult, so Kojiro resisted the impulse to suggest Kaoru ask Carla to do it.
That and the sake made Kojiro say, “Let me try.”
Kaoru looked suspicious for more than a moment, but finally sighed—the sweet sound of his stubborn streak giving in. The door didn’t need to be shut when they walked into the washroom, but Kojiro did out of what he hoped was habit.
“If the sink doesn’t work you could try the bidet,” Kojiro suggested, which got him a sharp elbow to the middle of his chest.
“Buffon,” Kaoru snapped.
It must’ve been the sake or the sympathy, which kept Kojiro from snapping back. He waved his hand and they moved around enough so that Kaoru was awkwardly bent forward, the length of his hair falling in still wet ripples into the sink. Kojiro had to stop thinking about his friend’s legs.
Instead, he stared at the tense pull of Kaoru’s shoulders, the yukata slipping a little to make the skin visible like it had been in the baths. The water from the sink filled the silence in the room, but did not make it any less awkward to the alcohol softened part of Kojiro’s brain.
It shouldn’t have been awkward. It wasn’t like he hadn’t washed—maybe not worse—but other things, out of Kaoru’s hair. Picking out brambles or washing street dirt out in the river before they were caught ditching class. It was perfectly normal.
He kept that thought on repeat while his fingers pinched and rubbed the strands of pink hair that Kaoru hadn’t been able to get cleaned. The muck sliding off of it stopped dulling the color and it looked like a salsa rosa for a brief moment before it ran completely clean.
“It was nice of you to let the kids use the shower first,” Kojiro said to fill the silence.
“If I didn’t they’d probably be slopping more of that mud around the room,” Kaoru said. His voice sounded a little funny coming from that angle. Kojiro must’ve laughed without noticing, because Kaoru turned his head slightly to glare up at him with one eye and said, “Don’t act like you weren’t disgusted by the smell either.”
“I’m still disgusted by the smell,” Kojiro said. If anything it was helping the awkwardness of the way his gaze kept drifting. This close he could see that some of the piercings in Kaoru's ears had never healed up completely.
“Wash faster then, ape,” Kaoru said, as he turned his head back down. There was less bite to it than usual. Either he was tired or embarrassed and Kojiro had a suspicion it was the first.
Kaoru’s hair was clean now, but Kojiro told himself he was being petty and reexamined each strand of hair to make sure he hadn’t missed any—mostly to take up more time.
Kaoru shivered a little, as Kojiro’s hands swept up his hairline and his wet thumbs brushed against his neck. It would be relatively easy for Kojiro to move his hands lower and rest his palms on the strong band of trapezius muscle. Easier still to keep going and slide the entire yukata off, keeping journeying downwards until he had Kaoru’s waist in his grip.
He didn’t get to think about what else would have been easy because pink wet hair slapped him in the face as Kaoru stood up too suddenly. He swatted it on instinct, but Kaoru was already reaching for a clean towel and glaring at Kojiro through the mirror as he dried and examined his hair.
“You’re not soaking me twice today, bastard,” Kaoru said, and after a quick examination of his hair threw it up in a towel and turned back towards the door.
“Your yukata’s slipping,” Kojiro said, making his voice easy. He didn’t think about how he knew what Kaoru’s waist felt like in his hands from when he’d thrown him in the water earlier. “Unless you want to start stealing my style.”
Kaoru didn’t look back at him, but adjusted it so it settled over his shoulders better, before he reached for the door. “Style implies you had anything in the first place.”
Kojiro watched as Kaoru left the washroom. He didn’t think about following him or about what would have happened if he’d reached out and shut the door before Kaoru walked through it. There was nothing to think about at all.
It was just the sake.