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by Rage
Notes: Another late night chat session with Seph. Heard that some French person had the guts to try Uozomi with Hikochi. Decided to try for myself just to see. Originally for the 3 words challenge, but that didn't pan out.


He could never figure those machines out. Those 'toy grabby' ones with the claw hand and glass case of UFO catcher dolls. It involved something like precision, coordination, a sense of timing. And in his case, a shitload of money he really couldn't afford to waste.

Down to his last few coins, Hikoichi gritted his teeth and tried to wrestle the controls into _control_ dammit. He almost didn't care which doll he got just as long as he managed to get something. As long as he was able to manage at least _this_.

A large dark-skinned hand attached to a thickly muscled arm swooped into his vision and landed on the directional stick. A small twist and the doll was released successfully into the waiting hole. The machine's lights lit up and cheerful midi music blared out from a speaker situated somewhere behind the case.

Hikoichi didn't look up, biting his lip and peered, instead, at the reflection on the glass case. He silently watched as the fuzzy, disorted image bent down and lifted a couple pails.

"You looked like you were having a little trouble."

Hikoichi shrugged, "A little." The reflection shifted away in a blur. He whirled, jerking his head to follow the broad lines of his sempai's retreating back. "Thanks, Uozomi." He called. But Hikochi wasn't sure if he was heard.

He looked down at his hand realizing he still gripped the control stick tight enough that his knuckles had turned white. Slowly peeled his fingers back one by one and bent to retrieve the doll. It was one of those Christmas Hide ones that had suddenly become popular.

One of the many verifications that it was indeed possible to be completely masculine and extremely effeminate at the same time. Both of these and he _still_ managed to become a pop-societal god. It'd be a consolation of sorts, if it weren't for the fact that instead of being extremely masculine or effeminate, Hikoichi was completely, utterly ordinary. Average frame, nondescript features with a cheap haircut that nearly every Japanese schoolboy had. No real abilities to speak of. And spots.

Hikochi glanced at his own reflection in the storefront windows as he made his own way home through the throngs of suited workers and harried shoppers. What he saw only confirmed what he knew already-- Things he'd gleaned from the few times he'd gone through the old family photo albums: He was a short, skinny twerp with pimples and he was going to stay that way forever. What he had now was all he was ever going to get.

So in a way, he envied the great strength that Uozomi had even though, at the same time, he understood that it would come with its own set of problems. No one thing was without its consequences, but Hikoichi couldn't help but feel a little envious, that perhaps that other set of problems would be worth it.

Hikoichi liked big men--though he wasn't sure whether it was because he _liked-liked_ them that way or if it was simply a case of a lot of wishful thinking. A throwback of sorts from his nightly dreaming that, perhaps by some kami-merciful miracle, he himself will end up that way.

Like them.

Like Uozomi.

Eventually, perhaps. He didn't like the jokes that were made about his sister being more of a man than he was.

Then again, his sister _was_ more of a man than he was. She was more than_ any_ man, if the eyepopping pile of leghair in the sink was anything to go by. Though, he still didn't understand why she continued to use _his_ razor.

He thought that was a bit gross.

Hikoichi looked down at his hands, a plastic grocery bag dangling from one, a red-haired doll from the other. Large hands, he mused. Large hands and solid mass of muscle. Could be comfortable. Could be protective. Sort of like a father, but he avoided bringing the analogy further in that direction because...fathers? Ew. Hikoichi already had enough teenage related problems to bother with trying to deal with incest and strange complexes he didn't know the name of.

There was a time once, where he'd been running around scribbling in his notebook and not paying attention to where he was going or putting his feet. He's nearly taken a dive off the top step in the school stairwell, watching dazedly as his books flew everywhere and the ground rushed up towards his face in slowmotion. It was Uozomi's quick grab at his arm that saved him from a broken neck. He'd been left there, standing like a dunce...shaking almost desperately from the barely restrained strength of getting his arm yanked from his socket.

He'd pretended afterwards that his state of utter distraction was for other reasons, but in the end, privately, he found himself staring at his arm in the bathroom mirrors whenever he could get the teachers to excuse him.

Large, callused fingers. Scattered dime sized bruises on much softer skin. They haunted his dreams at night for weeks later.

Hikoichi carelessly tossed the housekeys onto the kitchen counter when he got home. He kicked a pair of slippers across the room in irritation--they bounced off the far wall and landed in the sink-- before checking the messages on the answering machine. There were several for his sister from collegues at the paper, the editor, someone asking her out for dinner later that week. One message from his sister reminding him to eat the bento she'd left for him in the refridgerator.

He'd already eaten, though, so he slipped upstairs and got ready for bed.

The problem with bruises was that they faded. They'd happen suddenly in a bright blaze of something, turning a dark purple-blue like formless storm clouds. Then a couple days would pass and they'd go from purple to sickly yellow-green. Then a pale, barely-there-brown that could be mistaken as a mere trick of the light, twinging ever so slightly now and then as a reminder of its existance. A couple days later and they would be gone entirely, vanished like a memory.

He placed the Hide doll by the lamp next to his bed and left the light on, laying back, fingering the flesh on his arm. The skin there was smooth and unblemished. Anything that had been there once was long gone, but he still fancied that he could feel it. Could feel thick callused fingers pressing into muscle and bone. Small electric ghosts.

He put his mouth there, on his arm, where a small, invisible brand demanded attention. Sucked lightly. It wasn't the same-- No more than a visual comfort that ran counter to the tingling irritation he'd feel otherwise.

It was better than nothing.