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Fuck. Cody's fucked. Yeah working for a low-level demon isn't exactly ideal but, really it's Pete that's making his life a nightmare. Hell, he was a manager of Hot Topic for years, he should be able to handle any situation that slaps him in the face. But Pete. He's different in the way that makes Cody feel all these conflicting emotions all at once, all boiling in his chest right under his tattoo. Pete just has it all put together. He's fully himself and responsible and kind and cute and- Ah shit. Cody's fucked. Cody isn't blind, he knows he's an asshole with a replica sword strapped to his back. Pete is only a handful of years older than him but, god, Cody feels like an immature child around him. Worst of all, Pete tries. He puts the effort into knowing Cody, in being his friend. Cody would flip on the most asinine anime he could find and stare at Pete, waiting for him to be uncomfortable by inappropriate sexual innuendos and bad voice acting. But Pete would just turn to him and asks questions or clarification with a patient smile. Pete goes out of his way to bring up comments about the mall and tolerates Cody's long rambles. Even around Pete's friends, he always keeps Cody under his wing but never makes fun of his choices. 

 

In short, Cody's fucked.

 

"Dude, you can't be drinking this trash this late." 

 

A rough hand pries the aluminum can of Monster Ultra Red out of Cody's hand. "Dude, what the fuck? I was drinking that!" he groaned and sinks back into the ratty couch in their apartment. Pete flashes him a wide smile, his peppermint tooth nothing but endearing, fuck. He holds out a steaming mug and gently nudges Cody's sock-clad foot with his own when Cody hesitates.

 

"C'mon, just take it."

 

Cody grumbles and begrudgingly takes the mug. He sniffs at the drink, "What even is this?"

 

"Sleepytime tea!" Pete bounces down next to Cody, careful of his own mug, and immediately props his legs up on the equally shitty stained coffee table. Cody tries not to stare when Pete lets out a content sigh, and he tries not to stare when Pete blows on his tea and gently sips, and he tries not to stare at Pete's perfectly disheveled hair. He really does. Everything about Pete is magnetic and Cody can't seem to pull away. It makes sense really, Pete is this all-powerful chosen one. A main character plucked straight out of a manga, and Cody? Well, he's just an ex-manager of a Hot Topic that doesn't exist anymore. Despite all of this, Cody feels something close to grateful to be allowed to witness Pete relaxing on a couch in a worn hole-riddled sleep shirt all while watching truly a god-awful anime Cody put on.

Look, this is all to say that he actually meant to watch this episode but now they're 15 minutes in and his head is only swirling with thoughts of Pete.

 

"So like, what does a Hokage even do? 'Cause, so far it just looks like a lot of paperwork? And Naruto doesn't really seem like a paperwork guy, y'know?" 

 

Fuck. Fuck. He's perfect and kind, and he's fucking talking about anime. Cody can’t stop staring.

 

"Like, I guess it's cool you get your face on a mountain like fuckin' Mount Rushmore but it seems pretty lame- uh Cody, you ok, man?"

 

Cody startles and nearly spills scalding tea all over his My Chemical Romance sleep shirt, “shit. I uh-” He slams the mug on the coffee table and draws in himself, looking away from Pete. “Yeah dude, I’m good. I’m fine. Fuckin’ uh. Thinking about- About this episode.” Cody drags a hand through his hair, yanking slightly. Pete slowly places his mug beside Cody’s and turns to face him, tucking a leg under himself. Cody hates the silence that’s steadily filling the air. I fucked it up, I’m some fucking weird idiot. Why did I even open my mouth? Cody feels his mind spiraling, he's about to bolt when Pete softly clears his throat. 

 

“Hey, can I see your hand?” Like he’s possessed, Cody unfurls his hand from the white-knuckled fist it was in and curiously offers it to Pete. Offering his hand to Pete with no questions asked felt normal. Why wouldn’t Cody trust him after all of Pete’s gentle guidance? He has no time for introspection right now, not with New York City’s own Vox Phantasma hunched over his hand, cradling it between his palms like a baby bird. Pete runs his thumb across Cody’s palm looking like he’s solved a puzzle with no pieces. 

 

“Look, your heart line has a fork in it.” Pete grins and traces his finger across the crease in Cody’s palm. The sensation feels like a shock of electricity shooting from Cody’s hand straight into his temples. “I think it’s supposed to mean like, you put other’s emotions over yours?” 

 

“That can’t be true.” Cody scoffs and flips an electric blue strand of hair out of his eyes, “where did you even learn this shit?” Pete shrugs, completely ignoring palm reading in favor of massaging Cody’s palm with his thumb.

 

“Iga taught me a little, she says it’s all bullshit but it brings in more customers.” Pete smiles gently, pulling Cody’s hand further in his lap, “so what freaked you out, man? I mean, you don’t have to tell me, obviously. But like, I’m here for you.”

 

Cody sputtered, this would be the perfect time to make some lame excuse and get the hell out of this situation where just a little too many emotions were showing. But Pete was looking at him with these patient, hopeful eyes, and Cody really can’t say no. “It’s you.” 

 

Cody’s absolutely, undeniably, fucked. 

 

Pete straightens a bit and drops Cody’s hand. “No, no. Not like,” Cody furiously tries to backpedal, hands flapping in the air, “not like you , I mean, fuck. I fucked this. It’s just. Pete, you’re so good. At everything and-” A sudden loud laugh jarred Cody from his rambling.

 

“ Sorry! Sorry, I’m not laughing at you I promise!” Pete coves his mouth with a tattooed hand to stifle his laughter, “I’m not good at everything, Cody. I’m a fuck up and honestly? That’s fine.” Cody blinks, awestruck by this badass wielder of dreams. After a moment of quiet contemplation, Pete cautiously hooks his index finger with Cody’s. “You know, living is all about fucking up and then learning and trying to be better to yourself. I’m only two months sober and still trying not to stalk my shit exes on Twitter. Yeah, I’m the Vox Phantasma but I’m also just… human?” 

 

Cody dumbly nods his gaze fixed on their conjoined hands, he slowly shifts until all their fingers curl in on each other. “Right. Yeah. It’s just. I don’t know. You’re- you’re so cool and kind, and you’re always just Pete. You don’t have to pretend,” Now that Cody started he can’t stop the flood spilling from his mouth, “And you fucking try when others don’t. You made me tea and watch my shitty anime with me. And I can’t stop thinking about you, or what you’re doing. And you make me feel, I don’t know, comfortable? I just-” 

 

Pete mercifully stops Cody’s rambling by bumping his knee against Cody’s. Their hands now fully weaved together, the sight of it makes it hard for Cody to swallow. “Cody, hey, it’s ok.” Pete’s voice is soft and soothing, “I uh, sorta feel the same-”

 

What .” 

 

Pete chuckles at the comically baffled look Cody is wearing, and the pink standing out from his pale cheeks. “I think about you a lot too, you also make me feel comfortable.” Pete bites his lip for a moment and Cody is drawn to the movement, suddenly his hand is moving without his command and it's Pete who untangles their hands and presses Cody’s palm against his cheek. Cody’s muscles get the memo before his brain does and cups Pete’s jaw.


“Uh- Are we- Is this- Pete?” 

 

“Can I kiss you?” Pete’s face is taking on its own shade of pink and Cody’s mind goes blissfully blank. He faintly registers that he makes a wounded noise that maybe sounds like a ‘yes’, and then he’s tipping forward to meet Pete halfway. It’s not an earth-shattering kiss, it’s messy in all the right ways. Their teeth clack against each other, and Pete’s mustache tickles Cody’s upper lip, and Cody’s mind is racing so fast he forgets to kiss back for a couple of beats. Despite it all, it’s warm, syrupy soft, and undeniably human. Fuck ups and all. When they part their foreheads knock against each other and they share a small smile between shared air. 

 

“And actually, Hokages are like the strongest shinobi and get to command all the other ninjas on missions. So it’s actually very cool and not lame at all.” Cody’s soft smile quickly morphs into something more shit-eating, Pete tips his forehead away from Cody’s and laughs with his head thrown back to the ceiling. 

 

“You’re such an asshole.” He shoves Cody away only to drag him back into a kiss that was more laughter than anything else. Cody’s thumb finds its way to Pete’s palm and lightly traces his heart line

 

“Hey, could you show me how to palm read?” 

 

Pete chuckled, “I don’t know shit about palm reading. We can watch a YouTube video or something, yeah? We can learn it together.”

 

“Yeah.”