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paper rings

Chapter Text


Akaashi is staring at his laptop blankly. His eyes are dry and itchy from hours looking at a bright screen. He has to have clicked between these two filters at least a thousand times already, but can’t decide which he likes better for his photo. It had to be perfect. This portfolio was nearly half his grade for his photography final and would be what Akaashi had on display on his website for potential clients. But. Which. Filter. Akaashi clicks between the two furiously. 


Bokuto bursts into Akaashi’s apartment like its his own. Akaashi jumps a little at the intrusion. Bokuto’s golden eyes are both wide and watery, and his grin is so broad it looks like it hurts.

“Keiji I--” Bokuto starts again. “I got the contract. They signed me on. Keiji, it’s for real I’m-- I’m on the team. I’m a V League volleyball player!” 

Akaashi gets to his feet, but Bokuto immediately sweeps him off them. It’s a little awkward in Akaashi’s cramped living room; Bokuto almost knocks Akaashi’s laptop over when their legs collide with the coffee table, but Akaashi can hardly bring himself to care. 

“Oh, Kou,” he wheezes, Bokuto’s embrace squeezing the breath from him. “Oh my god, of course you got it. They would have to be idiots not to sign you on.” 

Bokuto makes a choked noise into Akaashi’s shoulder. He spins Akaashi around, once, twice-- then smothers Akaashi with kisses. Happy tears sting at Akaashi’s eyes.   

“I never--” Bokuto says, breathless, interrupting himself by kissing Akaashi wherever he can reach; his neck, his cheeks, his chin, his lips and nose. It tickles. “Woulda--made it-- this far-- without you.” 

Inwardly Akaashi disagrees. Bokuto has never needed him to shine. But he knows this isn’t the time to rehash old arguments he’ll never win. Akaashi takes Bokuto’s face in his hands and kisses him, deliberately and slowly. 

“I am so proud of you,” Akaashi whispers.  

And he is. Pride and love and joy fill Akaashi with warmth so completely he feels close to bursting from it, like his body can’t contain it all and it’s pouring out of him in tears and trembling and tingles throughout his whole body. But he would be lying he said there wasn’t also a little bit of sorrow there too. The V League was Japan’s top level volleyball league and was an essential step if Bokuto wanted to be selected for Japan’s Olympic team someday. But being a professional volleyball player meant months upon months of traveling, living overseas, and constantly flying out of the country to meet with international coaches and attend practice games. Including two years living in China for physical conditioning. 

Two years. There’s a hard knot forming in Akaashi’s stomach thinking about it. Two years was a long time to miss someone. Not that Akaashi would ever ask Bokuto to stay. He could never be so selfish. Akaashi had always known Bokuto was a star, that Bokuto would outgrow him, slip away to pursue bigger and better dreams. He had been prepared for this. But it still tugs at the knot in his stomach painfully.

“We should celebrate,” Akaashi says. 

Bokuto mouths kisses down Akaashi’s jawline. “Mmm, lets.” 

Akaashi laughs, batting him away. “I mean like dinner, Koutarou.” 

“Oh,” Bokuto says. He almost sounds disappointed. Akaashi kisses him briefly. 

“I’ll treat you to yakiniku,” Akaashi murmurs against his lips. 

Bokuto perks up at that. “Really? Your treat?” 

Akaashi smiles at him. He rests his hands on Bokuto’s chest, loving how solid and warm and here he feels. He tries not to think about how much longer that might last. 

It’s a miracle you got this much , Akaashi chides himself. He never expected Bokuto would confess to him on the day he graduated, under a cherry blossom tree in full bloom. Bokuto had handed Akaashi his heart along with his second button, tucked into a pink envelope with the most charmingly bad poetry Akaashi had ever read. Akaashi didn’t expect to become Bokuto’s setter throughout college either, though it was inescapable after Bokuto’s coach saw them work together once while Akaashi was on-campus visiting Bokuto. He shouldn’t expect his first real love to be his only. Especially not when his love is someone as spectacular and otherworldly as Bokuto. 

Akaashi has always known these past few years have been stolen, only delaying the inevitable, merely anomalies in the grand scheme of things. It was only a matter of time before Bokuto slipped through his fingers. 

“It’s not every day you go pro,” Akaashi coos, cupping Bokuto’s face in his hands. He rubs his thumbs over Bokuto’s cheeks and nose and jawline, memorizing him. “You’ve earned it.” 

Bokuto grins, spinning Akaashi around and around again. 

“Wow, Keiji, you must really be proud of me if you’re offering to buy me yakiniku!” Bokuto exclaims brightly. “You wouldn’t even go with me in high school!” 

Akaashi rolls his eyes. “I still went with you.” 

“Yeah, only after I made you jealous,” Bokuto retorts. 

That was true. Akaashi still remembers seething when Bokuto had offered to hand-feed some other school’s first year. Akaashi hadn’t even realized he’d been tricked into going until they were already seated in the restaurant, Bokuto offering him a bite of his pork with a smug grin on his face saying, “say ahh, Akaashi!” 

Akaashi huffs at the memory and Bokuto giggles deviously. He presses a kiss to Akaashi’s forehead. 

“You’re so cute when you’re jealous,” Bokuto teases. 

Akaashi shakes his head. “Do you want to invite Kuroo? And the team? To celebrate?” 


Just about everyone Akaashi calls shows up. Komi, Sarukui, and Konoha are all already drunk when they get there. They throw themselves around Bokuto like they’ve just won nationals all over again, ruffling his hair, punching his stomach, and tugging him back and forth between the three of him. Kuroo arrives with Kenma and Hinata in tow and Hinata is practically bawling he’s so excited. (“My mentor is a professional athlete! You’ll teach me how you did it, right? Right ?”) Most of their university teammates show up too. Oikawa is arm-in-arm with his husband Iwaizumi, chatting with Bokuto amiably about how the V League had scouted him only a few months prior. Ushijima looks awkward and out of place, but he congratulates Bokuto politely. Nishinoya’s laughter alone seems to boom through the whole establishment and Akaashi finds himself apologizing profusely to their neighboring tables. Yukie even shows up with a cake she baked herself. 

Bokuto is a wonderful host, of course. It’s like he was born to be in the spotlight with how effortlessly he wears the massive amounts of attention he’s getting. Akaashi would have been overwhelmed by it, but if anything Bokuto is in his element. Bokuto has a gift of making everyone he speaks to feel special, loved, and listened to. It's a little off-putting to have someone be so genuine and yet so absorbed and delighted by everything you said. Akaashi's been dating him for over four years now and even he still is not quite used to it. 

Bokuto cries more than once, espeically when Kuroo wraps him in a bear-hug and whispers something too soft for Akaashi to hear. There are pictures, laughing, and too many memories shared piece by piece as everyone recalls and chimes in. Komi and Bokuto challenge each other to a rib-eating contest that Bokuto wins easily. Akaashi humors him with when Bokuto demands he congratulate him on his impressive win. Bokuto keeps one hand on Akaashi's thigh the most of the night, squeezing him when he wants his input. It never fails to get a pleased feeling fluttering in Akaashi's belly. 

Eventually the party dwindles down. Konoha and Sarukui walk an intoxicated Komi to his apartment, Kenma and Hinata are huddled over Kenma’s DS and giggling quietly, Yukie is munching on her fourth platter of ribs. Bokuto has moved to sit with Oikawa and Iwaizumi at the bar, his big shoulders shaking with laughter at some quip Iwaizumi made. Akaashi watches him from their booth across the room, picking at his leftovers absently. 

Kuroo slides into the seat across from him. 

“Hey,” he says. “Lemme pay for Bo’s drinks.” 

Akaashi frowns. “It was my treat.” 

Kuroo snorts. Akaashi can tell he’s tipsy from the way his head bobs. “Trust me, lover boy, you’re gonna want me to take the bill on this one.” 

Akaashi shrugs and doesn’t fight him any harder on it. He’s had a few drinks himself and his mind feels slow and lazy. He watches Bokuto’s nose wrinkle and it’s so damn cute he could cry. Kuroo takes one peek at the check and winces. 

“Well, I suppose he’s earned it,” Kuroo says, tucking his card into the black notebook. The waiter whisks it away with a somewhat strained look upon his face. Akaashi will have to remember to give him a nice tip for all the trouble they’ve caused. 

Akaashi hums in agreement. 

“He was telling me about the contract he signed,” Kuroo goes on. Akaashi rests his head on his knuckles, blinking at Kuroo blearily. “Two years of physical conditioning overseas? Kind of a raw deal.” 

Akaashi’s tipsy enough to let his composure break. The sorrow that had been kept at bay by Bokuto’s joy and the intoxicating energy of the party breaks free now. It swells up from the hard knot in his belly into his throat.  

“I’m-- I’m gonna miss him so much,” he whispers. 

“Oh man, don’t do that Keiji,” Kuroo murmurs, reaching across the table to take Akaashi’s hand in his own. “You know there’s never been anyone for Bo but you, right?” 

Akaashi wipes away his tears hurriedly, even though Kuroo has already seen them and there’s not much point in trying to retain dignity now. He shakes his head. 

“Long distance never works,” he says evenly. “I can’t ask Kou to put his life on hold like that. I can’t.” 

Kuroo rolls his eyes at that. “Just as pessimistic as ever, I see. And here I thought dating Bo would make you lighten up a little.” 

Akaashi’s lips twitch into a grim smile. “Gee, thanks.” 

“I think Bo might surprise you, Akaashi Keiji,” Kuroo says, squeezing Akaashi’s fingers. “Try not to spend these next few months sulking, yeah?” 

And to Akaashi’s credit, he doesn’t. A younger Akaashi might have spent the six months leading up to Bokuto’s departure filled with dread, worrying about when the inevitable break-up would come and shatter their illusion of domestic bliss. Bokuto still has a dorm he shares with Kuroo on campus, but he barely spends a night there after the party. Akaashi spends as much time as he can curled up with Bokuto on the couch or in bed, kissing him senseless, kissing him frantically, kissing him until he’s sure there’s no place on Bokuto’s body he hasn’t showered in adoration. Bokuto brings him home extra spring rolls when he buys take out, pulls Akaashi’s head into his lap to play with his hair as they watch Bokuto’s future team’s matches, leaves little sticky notes on Akaashi’s laptop and camera with reminders that he’s loved and to not work himself too hard. 

Bokuto doesn’t listen to his own advice, though, and picks up a side job waiting tables between practices. Akaashi doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want any of their last precious months together wasted. He was about to become a professional athlete, surely he didn't need to work for these few short months. When he asks Bokuto why he took the job he responds with some vague, non-answer about having some extra cash being useful. Akaashi knows he’s lying, or at the very least hiding something, but doesn’t push it.  

He’s saving for when he goes overseas , Akaashi realizes one night, when Bokuto comes home completely drained from a full day of work and practice. That could be the only thing motivating Bokuto this hard. It almost breaks his heart that Bokuto wouldn’t just tell him.

But it’s easy to forgive him when he kisses Akaashi before leaving each morning, even if he’s still sleeping, and murmurs I love you before he departs. Easier when Bokuto kisses him again upon returning, often with ramen from the shop to share with him. Easiest when Bokuto has him gasping and grasping at his sheets. 

Akaashi can almost pretend it will be like this forever.

The inevitable would come whether Akaashi worried about it or not. He takes pictures for his final, edits photographs for his portfolio, and takes many, many snapshots of Bokuto. Bokuto smiling. Bokuto sleeping. Bokuto pouting. Bokuto with his brows furrowed in concentration. Bokuto’s hands, his broad back, and how his forearms look stretched up over his head. Bokuto with his hair down and nose wrinkled. Bokuto in his kitchen, his tongue stuck out in concentration and flour smeared on his nose. Anything. Any small thing Akaashi didn’t realize he has loved he captures with his camera to preserve forever. He and Bokuto might not last, but at least Akaashi would have this. These small, brief fragments of what it was like to be loved by someone like Bokuto would never be enough, but the days trickle by and soon it would be all Akaashi had. 

“Geez, you’ve been taking lots of photos of me lately, Keiji,” Bokuto says. He leans on Akaashi’s shoulder, watching as Akaashi uploads his camera roll onto his laptop. 

Akaashi kisses his cheek without tearing his eyes away from his computer screen. “Well, I am fond of you.” 

Bokuto grins at that. 

They still haven’t talked about Bokuto’s impending departure. Akaashi is almost grateful for it. If they don’t speak about it, he can quietly pretend it’s not happening, even if the surplus of Bokuto on his camera roll begs to differ. Akaashi tries not to think about how swiftly these past three months have flown by, and how much quicker these final three would pass. When Bokuto leans in to kiss him, Akaashi meets him halfway, sinking his hands into Bokuto’s hair and holding him firm. 

“Hey,” Bokuto says, breaking the kiss much too soon for Akaashi’s liking. “Let’s go out tonight.” 

Akaashi raises his eyebrows. “Out?” 

“Yeah.” Bokuto tangles their hands together. “Somewhere… special.” 

Something about Bokuto’s voice makes Akaashi’s heart beat sharply. Like he has daggers for blood and every pulse through his body is suddenly painful. Was this it? The inevitable break up? Akaashi feels like he’s going to be sick.

“Okay,” Akaashi says, keeping his voice deliberately even. “Sure.” 

Bokuto grins and pecks Akaashi’s cheek briefly. “Dress up in something nice, okay?” 

Akaashi complies. He picks out his favorite deep green button up and black jeans that hug his thighs flatteringly. The color makes Akaashi’s hooded eyes pop and the jacket he pulls over makes him look pretty damn good if Akaashi says so himself. He examines himself in the mirror, fussing to get his curls just the right amount of messy, and even puts on a little eyeliner. If Bokuto was breaking up with him tonight the least Akaashi could do was make it as difficult for Bokuto as it would be for Akaashi. 

Bokuto knocks on his door, which is strange. He hasn’t done that since Akaashi had given him a copy of his key. Akaashi’s heart breaks at the loss of such a small, unnoticed intimacy. He opens the door and finds Bokuto there with a bouquet of sunflowers. 

“You don’t have to knock Ko---” Akaashi can’t finish. “Are you in a tux?” 

He is in a tux. And a good one at that. The rich black cloth is perfectly tailored to Bokuto’s body, accentuating the broadness of Bokuto’s shoulders and exaggerating the v-shape of his torso. He’s wearing the golden tie Akaashi had bought him for his cousin’s wedding, though it sits loose around Bokuto’s neck and his jacket is unbuttoned. It used to annoy Akaashi that Bokuto never wore anything properly-- always bunching up the sleeves on his school uniforms and leaving the first two buttons of his shirt undone-- but right now Akaashi’s mouth is too dry to come up with any protest. 

Bokuto’s eyes are pure sunshine on Akaashi. He looks at Akaashi up and down, again and again, like he just can't get enough. 

“Wow,” Bokuto murmurs. “ Wow .” 

Akaashi flushes. “Wow yourself.” 

They stare at each other for a moment, neither of them moving. Bokuto pushes the flowers toward him. 

“I, uh, brought you these,” he says. It’s unlike him to sound nervous. Akaashi itches for his camera, but he doesn't want to break this moment. Somethings can't be captured by a camera anyway, he supposes. Akaashi takes the bouquet from him, smiling. 

“You remembered,” Akaashi says wonderingly. “Thank you.” 

Sunflowers had always been Akaashi’s favorite. They reminded him of Bokuto in a way; tall and warm and feeling distinctly like summer. Akaashi breathes in the smell of them and is reminded of training camps, gardening, and cicadas. 

“Of course I remember!” Bokuto says. “What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t remember what kind of flowers you liked?” 

Akaashi smiles at that. Boyfriend. A week before he'd met Bokuto he had overheard a gaggle of girls discussing love umbrellas and their effectiveness. According to them, writing their name alongside the object of their affections brought good fortune to your relationship and increased the likelihood of having them as a boyfriend. Akaashi had thought it sounded ridiculous. There was no way stuff like that actually worked. But after stumbling across Bokuto Koutarou, he had found himself drawing dozens of love umbrellas in his planner. He had practiced drawing them again and again until they were perfect and effortless to make. He must have written their names like that a half a hundred times. Koutarou and Keiji. 

Not for much longer , his hell-brain helpfully reminds him. Akaashi dismisses the thought sharply. For now it was still true and that was enough. It would have to be enough. 

Akaashi finds a vase for his bouquet and then they’re off. Bokuto takes Akaashi’s hand in his, guiding him through the bustling streets of Tokyo as dusk settles around them. It’s not quite summer yet, but it’s close. The evening air is pleasantly cool and already Akaashi can see digital billboards flickering between advertising swim-wear, hot summer deals, and multitudes of diets to get you that ‘perfect summer body’.   

It was fitting that Bokuto’s departure lines up perfectly with the end of summer, Akaashi thinks absently, then immediately chastises himself for it. No, don’t think about that. We don’t have to think about that just yet. 

Bokuto squeezes Akaashi’s hand. “We’re here!” 

The restaurant Bokuto stops in front of is unfamiliar, but decidedly fancier than any place Bokuto has taken him to before. Inside Akaashi can see gentleman in tuxedos almost as nice as the one Bokuto wears and women in evening gowns, gloved hands wrapped around glasses of champagne. Waiters move from table to table in sleek, maroon tuxedos with pristeen aprons tied around their waists. 

“Koutarou, we can’t just walk in there. Places like these need a reservation,” Akaashi says. Besides places like this were surely out of Bokuto’s budget, no matter how many tables he’d been waiting.

Bokuto laughs. “Just trust me.” 

And he tugs Akaashi inside. 

The host manning the door is a stiff-looking older gentleman, with a tiny glasses perched on the end of his nose and an even tinier mustache underneath that. Akaashi thinks he sees him sneer at Bokuto’s loose tie and unbuttoned jacket, but when Bokuto gives his name it’s wiped away entirely. 

“Ah, yes, Bokuto-san, reservation for two,” he says, in clunky Japanese. “Right this way.” 

Akaashi raises his eyebrows in surprise but only Bokuto grins at him. He points at his upper lip when the host’s back is turned and mouths “ He’s got the butler mustache and everything! ” 

Akaashi could point out that there’s no such thing as a ‘butler mustache’ or that this man wasn’t even a butler to begin with, but Bokuto’s enthusiasm is infectious. Akaashi stifles his laughter with his hand and Bokuto draws Akaashi closer, wrapping an arm around his waist. 

The inside is even fancier than the outside had lead Akaashi to believe. A massive five-tiered chandelier hangs in the center of the main hall, glittering droplets of crystal hanging so low Akaashi could reach up and touch them if he had enough nerve. The place is covered in red velvet, the table cloths are rich silk, every chair is cushioned and seemingly hand-carved into extravagant flowers and spirals. There’s even a fully-running fountain at the end of the hall with a chubby golden cupid at the top, water springing from the tip of his arrow. 

“Koutarou,” Akaashi’s tone is almost scolding. “How much are you spending on this?” 

Bokuto squeezes his waist, pulling Akaashi’s head onto his shoulder. “You’re so cute. And worth every yen.” 

Akaashi kisses his cheek. Bokuto turns his head to steal a kiss from his lips too. 

“Plus, Yukie is the pastry chef here,” he admits, lowly. “She says she can get us a discount. She’s the one who got me a reservation in time too.” 

That eases Akaashi’s conscious somewhat. The host bypasses the tables scattered around the hall and leads them up a flight of spiraling stairs behind the glistening fountain. Each floor has ballrooms and dining tables more extravagant than the last, each filled with guests dancing and laughing politely. One floor even has a live orchestra in the middle of it, the sound of violins, cellos, and piano becoming echoey and muffled as they climb higher. How many floors did this place have? 

But the host doesn’t stop until they reach the rooftop and the cool night air is a relief after all those stairs. Akaashi expects to see more guests, but the rooftop is startlingly devoid of them. There aren’t even any tables or chairs set up, just one thick blanket laid out with a handful of pillows, a bottle of champagne, and more sunflowers in the center. Fairy lights are criss-crossed above them and draped over glass greenhouses filled with fresh herbs and flowers. The sun is nothing more than low-burning embers on the horizon and the city twinkles beneath them as if the stars had sunken from the heavens to live among them. Akaashi can still hear the music faintly coming from the floors below and the low murmur of amicable chatter. 

The hosts bows and leaves them, assuring their server would be on their way shortly, but Akaashi doesn’t sit down. They have the whole rooftop to themselves. Akaashi takes a turn about the place, scanning everything, trying to absorb every last detail. Damn it, he should have brought his camera. 

Bokuto has his hands clasped behind his back, his golden eyes wide and hopeful as he waits for Akaashi’s final judgement. The tears in Akaashi’s eyes seem to be verdict enough and Bokuto sweeps him up in an embrace. 

“It’s beautiful, Koutarou,” Akaashi says. “I love it.” 

Bokuto pulls back, getting a good look at Akaashi’s face as if trying to decipher if Akaashi truly meant it. “Really?” 

Akaashi nods. “Of course this is-- this is really lovely.” 

Bokuto’s kisses are eager, loving, and all-too hungry for a public setting. Not that Akaashi minded. He wants to strip Bokuto and have him right here, right now. That’s what private rooms were for anyway, right? 


Yukie’s familiar voice breaks them apart. She stands there with her hands on her hips. She has always had an authoritative aura about her, even when she was just the manager of Fukurodani’s volleyball club. Akaashi thinks she suits the cranberry-red chef’s jacket. She smiles at them, amused. 

“Yukie-pie!” Bokuto cries. He throws his arms around her in a crushing embrace. “Thank you sooo much again for doing this, it’s wonderful!” 

Akaashi gives Yukie a hug too, which is unlike him, but he’s too overwhelmed with gratitude to not to. She pats his back reassuringly. 

“Yeah, yeah, you’re welcome,” she says with a wry grin. “Do you like the view?” 

As soon as Bokuto releases Yukie, Akaashi wraps his arms around Bokuto once more. He leans his head onto Bokuto’s chest. 

“It’s perfect,” Akaashi’s voice is hoarse, and Yukie punches him on the arm playfully. 

“Crying already, Akaashi? Geez,” Yukie laughs. “Save the waterworks for later, why dontcha?”  

Akaashi wishes she wouldn’t remind him. He squeezes his eyes shut, concentrating on Bokuto’s calming heartbeat and steady breathing. She’s right though. Akaashi would have plenty of time for tears later. There was no sense in wasting them now. 

“Are you are server?” Bokuto asks. 

Yukie snorts. “Yeah, dingus, no server wants to come all the way up here just for you two. We have a service elevator for the food, but I’m going to be hiking up those stairs every time I check up on you so you better tip well, Bo!”  

Bokuto laughs and laughs. He pulls Yukie into another hug and places a kiss to her temple. 

“You know you’re incredible, right?” he says. “Like. Probably the most incredible woman in the world.” 

“Yeah duh,” she says, but Akaashi can tell she’s pleased. “Any special requests?” 

They haven’t even looked at a menu. Akaashi wasn’t even sure what type of food they served here. He exchanges a glance with Bokuto who somehow looks even less prepared despite being the one who planned this.

“Uh, just bring us whatever is easiest for you to make!” Bokuto says. “You’re doing us such a big favor anyway.” 

Akaashi nods his agreement. “If you have potstickers I’d like those.” 

“Oh, and another bottle of champagne,” Bokuto adds, jabbing Akaashi with his elbow playfully. “We’re gonna need it.” 

Yukie snorts. “Alright, but no sex on my rooftop! And I’ll know if you do, Bokuto Koutarou. Don’t test me!” 

Bokuto laughs at that and Yukie disappears back the way she came. They toe-off their shoes and discard their jackets. Akaashi flops onto one of the large, squashy pillows belly-first. 

“How long have you been planning this?” Akaashi asks as Bokuto reclines on his back beside him. Bokuto’s cheeks go pink at the question. 

“Geez, Keiji! Is it really so weird for me to spoil my boyfriend sometimes?” Bokuto huffs. He struggles with the champagne bottle for a moment. The cork pops off with an ear-splitting crack, launching violently at the greenhouses. It smacks into a glass window with a bong . Bokuto yelps. The glass wobbles, the reverberation so profound Akaashi feels it in his teeth, but mercifully doesn’t shatter. 

Akaashi throws his head back in laughter. 

“Yukie would have killed me!” Bokuto cries. 

Akaashi’s giggles are near-hysterical, devolving into snorts. He rolls over and clutches his stomach. Goddammit, he wishes he had his camera to capture Bokuto’s face right now. He takes Bokuto’s face in his hands, pulling him down to kiss him through his laughter. 

“You’re ridiculous,” Akaashi says. “So, so, so ridiculous.”  

“Keijiiiiii,” Bokuto whines. 

But Akaashi can feel Bokuto’s mouth smiling under his own. He hasn’t had a sip of alcohol yet, but Akaashi feels giddy. He’s already drunk off of splendor, love, and Bokuto. 

“A toast,” Bokuto says, when they manage to break apart. He pours a glass for himself and one for Akaashi. “To us.” 

Akaashi hums. “To us.” 

They tink their glasses together and drink. It’s so sweet and bubbly Akaashi almost doesn’t taste the alcohol behind it. Bokuto doesn’t break eye contact with him as he sips.

“This probably has a ton of sugar,” Akaashi says. He checks the label on the bottle, but there’s only the brand written in curly, golden script 

“Yeah, duh, Keiji that’s what makes it so good!” Bokuto says. He downs his whole glass in one go and is already pouring out another. 

Akaashi purses his lips. 

Bokuto only drank on special occasions and rarely got drunk, if ever. He couldn’t afford to if he wanted to stay in peak physical condition. Yet here he was, drinking and even requesting a second bottle from Yukie. Bokuto gulps down his second glass just as greedily. 

“Koutarou, slow down,” Akaashi says, fingers curling around Bokuto’s wrist. “You’ll make yourself sick.” 

Bokuto sputters, but stops. “Ah. Sorry.” 

He sets his glass down and his hands are shaking. Akaashi takes them in his own, bringing Bokuto’s fingers to his lips and kissing his knuckles. 

“You’re trembling,” he murmurs against Bokuto’s skin. 

“Ah, you noticed,” Bokuto says. Even his laugh is shaky.

Akaashi waits for him to continue but he doesn’t. Bokuto just sits there, flushed and fidgeting. Time to break out the big guns.

Koutarou .” Akaashi nuzzles cheek into Bokuto’s palm. He sticks out his bottom lip, just a little, just enough to become a pout. “Tell me?” 

“Ah… I-- okay,” Bokuto says. Of all Bokuto's weaknesses, Akaashi's pout was the most crippling. But he pulls away from Akaashi, scratching the back of his neck and smoothing out his tie. “Well. I wasn’t gonna do this here, but-- well, um, we were supposed to take a walk and pass by...  Do you remember? That cherry blossom tree outside Fukurodani Academy?” 

Where he confessed , Akaashi connects instantly. His heart drops to his feet. For a moment he’d forgotten-- but of course. Bokuto was trying to break it to him gently. It would be poetic in a way, ending their relationship where it began. This was Bokuto giving Akaashi one last impossibly romantic night together before the talk, the break up, the inevitable. Akaashi feels the tears returning embarrassingly quickly. 

He downs his champagne in one go, turning away from Bokuto to busy himself with refilling his glass. 

“Oh?” he says, figuring feigning ignorance was the best way to go. But just then the rooftop door bursts open, and Yukie is wheeling out a cart of food. 

“Alright, lovebirds, you hungry?” she says, brightly. 

She has to be balancing at least six plates of food on there, not to mention the second bottle of champagne tucked under her arm. There are trays of sushi and rice balls, a large platter of lobster and salmon, steamed asparagus and squash, a massive bowl of potstickers-- there’s even a plate of chocolate covered strawberries to finish them off. It sure is a last meal if Akaashi has ever seen one, but he manages to smile at Yukie gratefully. 

“You’re the best!” Bokuto adds, already breaking out his chopsticks. “It all looks so good! Huh, Keiji?” 

Akaashi nods to appease him. 

“Thank you,” he says to Yukie. “You’ve been wonderful.” 

“Is that my cue to leave?” Yukie says, winking at him. She gives Bokuto a significant look. “You kids have fun then.” 

“I’m the same age as you!” Bokuto squawks indignantly, but Yukie only laughs as she retreats back down the stairs. 

Akaashi’s appetite has completely vanished, but he can’t exactly let Yukie’s hard work go to waste. Bokuto already has a plate piled high and is making appreciative noises. 

 “You’ve gotta try these potstickers!” Bokuto says through a mouthful. He holds one out for Akaashi and Akaashi lets Bokuto feed it to him. His mouth is too dry to swallow it without another swig of his drink. 

Should he remind Bokuto of what he had been about to say? Or should he let it be? It would be best to get it over with. Like ripping off a band-aid. Akaashi should grit his teeth and be done with it already. But he doesn’t want to. He wants to keep calling Bokuto his, even for just another moment, even for just one second longer.     

“Koutarou,” Akaashi finally says, when he realizes all of Yukie’s wonderful food is tasteless and no amount of alcohol was going to make him brave enough for this. “What were you saying? Before?” 

“Oh!” Bokuto wipes his mouth with his napkin. He sets his plate off to the side. “Um. Okay, I guess we’re doing this now.” 

Sometimes Akaashi looks at Bokuto and it hits him all over again, like he’s fourteen and staring up at Bokuto in wonder like it’s the first time. Bokuto has grown since then. Both taller and more muscular, but the important things are the same-- his sunshine eyes, his calloused hands taking Akaashi’s in his own, his smile. Akaashi knows that’s what he’ll miss most. Being under Bokuto’s smile was like basking in the sun. Being the cause of that smile was all Akaashi ever wanted to be. Akaashi has seen a million different Bokuto-smiles and it still isn't enough.

But Bokuto isn’t smiling now. He rubs Akaashi’s hands with his thumbs, taking a deep, shuddering breath. 

“Well,” Bokuto says. Akaashi can hear the music from below, distant and dreamy, but the night feels devastatingly silent. “As you know, I, um. I’m going away in three months as part of my contract.” 

Akaashi tries to swallow the hard lump forming in his throat. His heart feels as heavy and poisonous as lead. Oh god, it was here. This was it, the break up talk. Akaashi fights to keep his breathing steady, even as his whole body screams and pleads with him to somehow stop this, to escape, run. Bokuto can’t break up with him if he shuts him up with a kiss. Maybe Akaashi could make a run for it. Bokuto could try to break up with him all he wanted, but he’d have to catch him first. Yukie would let him hide in the kitchens, wouldn’t she?

“Ah, okay, wow I’m way more nervous than I thought I’d be Keiji!” Bokuto says, wetting his lips and fidgeting. 

Akaashi squeezes Bokuto’s hands in his own, not sure who he was trying to comfort more. Of course this was difficult. This was going to be hard on both of them. How selfish would Akaashi have to be to try and make it even harder?

He tries to cherish this. The feel of him, the sound of his voice, the faint scent of his familiar cologne. Akaashi pulls Bokuto’s hands to his lips again and kisses them, savoring every second he gets to keep doing this, to keep kissing him, to keep loving him-- Akaashi’s mouth trails up Bokuto’s wrists. Even just one more moment of loving Bokuto Koutarou Akaashi would take and be grateful for it. 

“So, um, part of the contract means travelling a lot,” Bokuto continues. “Like. A lot, a lot. And I have to live in China for two years for physical conditioning really far away from you.” 

Akaashi squeezes his eyes shut. I will be strong , he thinks fiercely. I won’t beg. This is his dream, he has to go. He has to.   

“And I was talking to Oikawa and Iwaizumi about the contract, cuz, y’know Oikawa signed one too not too long ago,” Boktuo says. “And. Well boyfriends aren’t exactly allowed to come along on tours with the team.” 

Ah. It stings. Akaashi’s resolve to be strong evaporates. He is absolutely going to weep, maybe even beg. He wants to tear away from Bokuto and wail. Bokuto draws away from Akaashi. His warmth is already fading. Akaashi’s hands clench into fists, but the feeling of Bokuto doesn’t linger.  

“But--” Bokuto fumbles with something in his pocket. “If you were my husband-- ”   

Akaashi doesn’t breathe. 

Bokuto withdraws a simple, elegant, silver band. There’s an imprint of an owl with its wings spread out and its eyes are tiny diamonds. Bokuto pinches it between his fingers.

“Well, then according to contract, they have to let you live with us! They’d provide you room and board and everything! You could take lots of pictures of all the places we go too! I’m sure that’s good for your photography career, right?” Bokuto sounds like he’s half trying to convince himself of it too. He offers the ring to Akaashi. His hands are shaking more now than ever. Akaashi’s vaguely aware he’s shaking too. 

Akaashi covers his mouth with his hands, but the trembling doesn't stop. 

“I know the timing is kinda fast,” Bokuto goes on hastily. “We have less than three months to make everything official, and I’ve spent most of my waiter-money on the ring so it probably wouldn’t be your dream wedding or anything but-- but Keiji, even-- even if none of this was happening and we didn’t need to get married to stay together, I’d still want to. You’re the one I wanna spend my life with.” 

Bokuto is looking at him now with a determined gleam in his eye. 

“Keiji, I love you,” he says, and it’s this that he says without any hint of doubt or uncertainty. “I love you so, so much Akaashi Keiji and I never wanna be without you. Marry me. Marry me and be my husband. Please?” 

Please , Akaashi thinks. Please?

A mangled, half-sob half-laugh is torn from his throat as he throws his whole body at Bokuto, tackling him into the pillows. Bokuto crushes him to his chest. His trembling is already easing. Bokuto’s hands are wide and flat on Akaashi’s back, pressing him closer. 

“So-- Are you-- Does that mean--” Bokuto breathes.

“Yes,” Akaashi says, punctuating with kisses. “Yes, yes, yes of course , oh my god Koutarou-- ”  

Their kissing is frantic and clumsy and they can’t keep it up for long before they have to break away. Akaashi still can’t tell if he is laughing or crying. Bokuto is definitely crying, but he wipes the tears from Akaashi’s cheeks first. 

“Are you sure?” Bokuto asks, ridiculously. He hiccups. “Even though it won’t be your dream wedding?” 

Akaashi laughs, incredulous. “What? I don’t care about any of that. If I’m marrying you then it’s my dream wedding already.” 

KEIJI! ” Bokuto wails, bringing fresh tears to both of them.

Akaashi dabs Bokuto’s face with a napkin until he’s dry enough to kiss again. Bokuto’s kisses are overwhelming and wonderful and in no short supply. They were getting married. Bokuto was going to give him enough kisses to last a lifetime. Akaashi used to dream about it when he was a wide-eyed middle school boy, doodling Bokuto Keiji in the margins of his notebooks and writing their names together in big, loopy hearts. It seems so silly now. His feelings had felt so intense then, but they’re only a shadow of what Akaashi feels now. It’s borderline absurd. Bokuto Koutarou was going to be his husband

“The love umbrella worked,” Akaashi says unthinkingly.

Bokuto snorts, still wet with tears. “What?” 

“When I was younger--” Akaashi fumbles, still somehow embarrassed by it all these years later, “I drew our names under a love umbrella. So you’d fall in love with me.” 

Bokuto has never looked so delighted. “A love umbrella? ” 

“Shut up,” Akaashi says. He must look ridiculous blushing so much. “I was a kid.”

“No, no, it’s perfect,” Bokuto says, still laughing. “The cherry blossom tree-- I put a love umbrella there too. For us.” 

Akaashi sinks his head onto Bokuto’s shoulder, processing. “You didn’t.” 

“I did!” Bokuto exclaims. “That’s why I was going to propose there. After I showed you.” 

Propose. Bokuto had proposed. Bokuto Koutarou had asked Akaashi to marry him. Like an actual, real life proposal that Akaashi hadn’t imagined at all. Akaashi wonders if his fourteen-year old self would have wept or just exploded. 

 Akaashi sits up, de-tangling from Bokuto. “I wanna see it.” 

“Okay,” Bokuto says. He leans over and grabs their discarded jackets. “Hey, wait.” 

Bokuto takes Akaashi’s left hand. He slips the ring onto his finger easily. A perfect fit. Bokuto kisses Akaashi’s palm softly, his eyes closed, savoring. 

“I love you,” Bokuto murmurs against his skin. “ Fiancé .”

Fiancé. It didn’t even sound like a real word. Bokuto Koutarou is my fiancé

“And I love you,” Akaashi hesitates before adding. “Fiancé.”

Bokuto is practically glowing. Their food is largely uneaten, and they haven’t even touched the second bottle of champagne, but they get dressed to leave anyway. Akaashi doesn’t know how they do it. Akaashi can barely keep his hands off Bokuto and Bokuto stops at least three times to drown Akaashi in more eager kisses. 

“You look really good,” Akaashi says. He runs his hands over the smooth fabric of Bokuto’s jacket. He feels up those broad shoulders he's always loved so much, giving them a squeeze. 

“Keiji! We gotta focus!” Bokuto chastises. But he’s the one who hooks his fingers through Akaashi’s belt loops to keep him in place. Akaashi’s lips are bruised and sore from so much kissing, but he keeps at it. They were getting married

Akaashi’s laughing then. 

“I… I thought you were gonna break up with me,” Akaashi admits. He keeps Bokuto’s face close, their foreheads touching. 

Bokuto lurches like he’s been struck. “What? Are you kidding?” 

Akaashi shakes his head. “I didn’t think either of us could do long distance.” 

Bokuto stares at him. He grips Akaashi’s shoulders firmly. 

“Akaashi Keiji I’d have to be the biggest idiot in the world to dump you,” he declares. “I can’t believe-- I thought you would have guessed I was proposing!” 

Akaashi shakes his head again. 

“I brought you to like the fanciest restaurant ever!” Bokuto cries. “I’m wearing a tux!” 

Akaashi shrugs. “I thought you were trying to leave me with a nice memory.” 

“Keiji! That’s just cruel!” Bokuto shakes him a little. “Do you really think I’d do that? Really, really?” 

Akaashi smiles, warm and genuine. “I guess not.” 

Bokuto kisses him once more, soft, chaste. 

“Come on,” he says, tugging on Akaashi’s hand. 

Akaashi lets Bokuto lead him down the stairs and out of the restaurant. It takes them maybe fifteen minutes to reach the cherry blossom tree just outside Fukurodani’s gates, but for Akaashi it flies by. His face hurts from smiling so much. Bokuto is just as animated as ever as he fills Akaashi in on all the meticulous planning he, Kuroo, and Yukie had done to make this night perfect. Bokuto’s stories are always long-winded, and usually with too many details, but Akaashi thinks that’s why he loves them so much. It’s not a Bokuto-story if he doesn’t go off on at least two different tangents and forgets what he was talking about entirely. Akaashi is always listening, ready with a gentle question to prod Bokuto back on topic. 

“Kuroo helped me pick the ring,” Bokuto admits. “It was so awkward, Keiji, they all thought I was marrying him .”  

Akaashi’s stab of jealousy is as unwarranted as it is irrational and he brushes it aside. “Well, you were ring shopping with him, Koutarou.” 

“Someone had to try the rings on!” Bokuto says. “His hands are about the same size as yours so I thought he’d be a good hand model! I almost had to buy a second ring because we couldn’t get one off him.” 

Akaashi suspects there’s a lot more to this story, but it’s at that moment they arrive at their destination. The sturdy cherry blossom tree sits just outside Fukurodani’s gates, shading most of the walkway and drooping over the street. The blossoms are gone now that summer is almost upon them, but the leafy green is nice too. There’s at least a dozen different love umbrellas from various couples throughout the years, but Akaashi finds theirs almost immediately. 

Koutarou and Keiji . It sits a little taller than all the others. Akaashi has to stretch to trace their names with his fingers. The carving is a little clunky. The heart a little lopsided in a way that’s unmistakably Bokuto and Akaashi’s heart swells.

“I cut myself carving it!” Bokuto announces proudly. “I still have the scar.” 

Bokuto presents his pointer finger. Akaashi kisses the small, pink scar briefly. 

“Can I use your phone?” Akaashi asks. 

It’s not as good as his professional-grade camera, but Akaashi can always come back later. He takes several shots of them, with and without the love umbrella in the background, one of the love umbrella on it’s own, a few with his engagement ring on display while he kisses Bokuto’s laughing face, a few of just the two of them. Akaashi would have to ask one of his photography buddies to do a professional shoot with them in the future, but for now it will do. 

Bokuto rests his head on Akaashi’s shoulder, watching Akaashi contemplate. “Post that one.” 

Akaashi scrolls back. “This one? Really?” 

“You’re going to post a whole bunch of them anyway right?” Bokuto says. 

“My eyes aren’t even open in this one,” Akaashi says even as he dutifully starts thumbing through to find a good filter. 

“I like that one,” Bokuto insists, pressing a kiss to Akaashi’s cheek. “It’s very you .” 

Akaashi adds it to the collage and he has to admit it looks pretty nice. Authentic is what his photography professor might say. Bokuto looks handsome in it anyway and that’s all that really matters to Akaashi. The caption is one word: enGAYged. Bokuto laughs approvingly and Akaashi hits post. 

“It’s Facebook official,” Akaashi says it like it’s a warning. He slides Bokuto’s phone back into his pocket for him. He smooths Bokuto’s jacket down just for an excuse to touch him. “No turning back now.” 

Bokuto smiles at him, softly. “Good.” 

Their first kiss had been under this cherry blossom tree. A brief, awkward thing with far too much force behind it. Akaashi still remembers the painful clacking of their teeth and the muffled apologizing afterward. But Akaashi thinks they’ve gotten pretty good at it now. They're more than well-practiced. Bokuto knows exactly how to steal appreciative noises from Akaashi with just a few strokes of his tongue and it’s been ages since Akaashi has accidentally bitten Bokuto too hard. Akaashi could probably be a professional Bokuto-kisser if the high whine issuing from Bokuto’s throat is anything to go by. 

“Let’s go home,” Bokuto says. 

Akaashi grins. “Okay.” 

Bokuto takes Akaashi’s hand in his own. Akaashi’s ring glitters in the lamplight. 

Akaashi thinks it’s a pretty good way to start their forever. 

Kuroo Tetsurou commented on your [ PHOTO] post: eyyyyyyyyyy look at you two!! who told ya so akaashi, huh? who toldya??  ಸヮಸ   ಸωಸ ( ͡ಸ‿ಸ)━☆゚.*・。゚


Konoha Akinori commented on your [PHOTO] post : didn’t bokuto already give you a promise ring when you were in high school. or was that just a joke. bokuto told me it was real!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Hinata Shouyou commented on your [PHOTO] post: CONGRATULATIONS BOKUTO-SAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND CONGRATULATIONS MR FUTURE ALSO-BOKUTO-SAN!!!!!!!!!!! 


Sarukui Yamato commented on your [PHOTO] post: so does this mean we get two bachelor parties because if so @Komi Harukui and I are down ✧ ─=≡Σ((( つ•̀ω•́)つ


Shirofuku Yukie commented on your photo [PHOTO] post: where the fuck did you two go?? bokuto you forgot to pay your bill you absolute nut wagon




Shirofuku Yukie replied to a [COMMENT] on your [PHOTO] post: i’m spitting in your wedding cake batter 


Kuroo Tetsurou replied to a [COMMENT] on your [PHOTO] post: ^^^ hot 


Shirofuku Yukie replied to a [COMMENT] on your [PHOTO] post:   []