kei blinks, watching the king stroll in with all his royal glory.
(tsukishima kei realizes it's been 11 years since his little teasing got old, but does that stop him? no.)
he watches the king walk in as if he’d just been saving the world five minutes ago with his stupid volleyball skills. he stares curiously, tries to decipher the man that was once his teammate. or friend. or crush. that last one isn’t important, actually. tobio doesn't seem to realize kei’s intense gaze, gold eyes guarded as if tobio were to try to penetrate the walls of his mind, as if tobio could destroy him with one shared look.
and he does, much to kei’s dismay.
they lock eyes, and they’re too far away to speak to one another, but kei seems to understand everything the man wants to say to him.
it's good to see you.
tobio walks away.
technically, they’re not friends. they became close in their second years, and tobio shared the title of captain with tadashi their third year. kei would actually hang out with tobio sometimes. just the two of them. with no volleyball or studying involved.
and this, kei supposes, is what fucked him over.
quickly, disappointingly, and begrudgingly, kei grew a crush for a certain kageyama tobio. it sucked, and still sucks, because kei didn’t do anything about it, and he never really got over it. it just lingered there, annoying and persistent, and kei didn’t bother getting into relationships.
(he’s a twenty-seven year old virgin, with no sense of how to be in a relationship, but he supposes he wouldn’t mind hugging tobio from behind as the blue eyed man cooked them breakfast on a sunday morning.)
kei feels his gut pull.
it’s not a familiar feeling, per say, but it does remind him of graduation day from their third year of high school. kei clears his throat, shifts in his seat, and takes a gulp of champagne. that’s a memory for another day.
besides, it’s not like them being together after high school would’ve worked out very well. kei, for example, ran off to tokyo to study music business. he learned how to play multiple instruments, how to sing, and how to produce music, and obviously the business part of the job. he works for a sort-of top brand agency as a booking agent. it’s not bad pay, and he does enjoy his job. however, the last time he heard of tobio, the man had been learning english to travel to america to train with other teams. tadashi said it had something to do with the offer the japan team gave him in college.
kei was impressed to find out, a few years later, that tobio has perfected 3 other languages besides japanese. he didn’t bother asking which languages, not when tadashi began questioning as to why he didn’t pursue his crush. it really gets on his nerves when tadashi does that, no offense to his best friend.
(also, kei only says he’s impressed because he’s fluent in a couple languages, too, and he know’s how much death he wished upon himself those college years.)
and though kei and tobio haven’t spoken since maybe their third year of college, his infatuation (it’s a crush, kei) hadn’t really left its home in his chest.
(upon thinking this, kei tries not to throw up at how cheesy that was.)
he sighs, takes another swing of champagne, and looks around.
tadashi and hitoka’s wedding is simple yet effective. it fits both of their personalities respectfully, while giving it the subtle glow that any wedding should have. kei makes note of the tiny details around the venue.
(for example; the fairy lights draped over the walls, fake candles hiding in glass holders, white rose petals covering the top to give it a soft glow. everything was relaxing. kei felt content.)
however, as he stands and clears his throat, the content begins to slip away. he steps towards the piano yamaguchi had requested from the venue. kei knew why, and he didn’t appreciate it, but now that he’s 27 and now that tadashi’s over his shit, he figures arguing with his best friend over this isn’t the best option.
(he totally knew the argument tadashi would’ve hit him with, too; “you’re the best man at my wedding, kei, you’re my best man at my wedding. you’re performing. it’s the least you could do.”)
(kei can’t help but agree that yes, that is the least he could do.)
so, as he sits on the bench, he glances over the room and breathes in. tadashi catches his eye with a blinding smile and a thumbs up. kei smiles softly in his direction. he’s happy for his best friend, he is. though, as he glances off to someone else, he realizes he still has to punch the groom.
tadashi stands with a microphone, announcing that kei would be performing a song or two, maybe even take some requests to which kei replies with a, “oi!” and everyone laughs. kei chuckles as he shakes his head, looking up to catch tobio’s gaze again. kei glances down to the piano keys.
“whenever you’re ready, tsukki!”
he positions his fingers, presses down, and closes his eyes.
“hey, jude, don’t make it bad,
take a sad song, and make it better…”
tadashi’s already close to tears, a few people holler.
“remember, to let her into your heart,
then you can start, to make it better.”
some people begin to stand, hitoka and tadashi holding each other.
a certain kageyama tobio stands and walks closer to the stage.
“hey, jude, don’t be afraid,
you were made to go out and get her,
the minute you let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better,”
kei’s fingers move delicately over the ivory and black keys, with grace and excellence, and tobio can’t help but smile because that’s all kei has ever truly been.
“anytime you feel the pain, hey, jude, refrain,
don’t carry the world upon your shoulders,
for well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
by making his world a little colder.”
kei’s eyebrows scrunch up, thinking about those two lines. it hits a little too close to home for his liking.
and though he can’t hear anything but the music, he pretends everyone is mumbling how well he’s doing it. he pretends he’s impressed everyone. he pretends he’s impressed the king.
“hey, jude, don’t let me down,
you have found her, now go and get her,
remember to let her into your heart,
then you can start to make it better,”
kei lets a small smile pull at his lips as he sings these two lines, his happiness for his best friend shining through. it’s clear that he chose this song specifically. tadashi has never let him down, but he remembers the days it took him all his willpower to not punch the brunette in the face for not asking hitoka out. he remembers when they both agreed she’d probably be the best soulmate ever.
“so let it out and let it in, hey jude, begin,
you’re waiting for someone to perform with,
and don’t you know that it’s just you, hey jude, you’ll do,
the moment you need is on your shoulder.”
everything kicks up now, kei’s fingers jamming into the keys as he leans back and lurches forward just a bit, head hanging as he plays. he plays with the vigor of a thousand soldiers, and as tobio watches from the sidelines, he realizes it.
“hey, jude, don’t make it bad,
take a sad song and make it better,
remember to let her under your skin,
then you’ll begin to make it
better, better, better, better, better, better, oh!”
with the last verse in the bag, kei finishes out the rest of song, managing to get everyone else to sing as well. he smiles as he hears the outro carried along the varying voices in the venue. he opens his eyes to see everyone singing, some tearful (such as the newly weds, his old captains, tadashi’s parents, his parents, and his brother), some already beginning to clap. he watches ryū, shōyō, and yū whoop and cheer. he chuckles as everyone claps, watches as his own crush stares and smiles and raises his hands to his mouth to yell , “TSUKISHIMA!”
kei’s eyes go wide as he stares back, barely finishing the last few notes before standing. some people laugh at tobio’s yell, but kei bows anyway. however, when people keep cheering, he rolls his eyes and waves a hand dismissively.
“oh, come on, now,” he says into the mic, “don’t let me steal the attention from the newly weds."
soft laughter fills his ears before he smiles and says, “congratulations, you two.”
tadashi’s smile is full and wide and bright, and his cheeks are wet with tears, and kei expects nothing less from his best friend. hitoka is a blubbering mess next to him, but at least she cries in a prettier way than tadashi.
as kei steps off the stage, people compliment his performance to which he replies with a, “thanks. will you excuse me?” until he gets to the place he wants to get to. the bar.
he sighs as he grabs another glass of champagne, trying to calm the excitement in his stomach from performing. the butterflies in his stomach begin to rampage over something else.
“hey,” says a voice behind him, a voice he knows all too well.
kei turns to the source and offers his signature smirk that really hasn't changed since high school.
(tobio agrees; it hasn't.)
“ah, it’s the king,” he says, “good to see you.” he voices this time, sincere and nothing but honest. tobio is somewhat pleased.
“it’s good to see you, too, kei,” he offers a grin, “i really enjoyed your performance. didn’t know you could make your annoying voice do that.”
kei laughs, nodding as he sips his beverage. tobio leans against the bar with the blond and it's the friendly banter the two used to have in college, just… safer. more sure of itself. kei has to agree; they both are now.
“yeah, well, there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me, king.”
tobio turns his head towards him, smiles as he tilts his head back and raises his eyebrows.
“are you sure about that, kei?”
if kei’s lungs flutter in his chest, he doesn’t ignore it this time.
if kei’s being honest, he probably would’ve confessed to tobio the night of tadashi and hitoka’s wedding. then he thought about it and figured it’d be rude to hitoka and tadashi. then he told tadashi this to which he replied, “i hate you so FUCKING much, tsukishima kei. if you two hooked up at my wedding, my life would’ve been so complete. you ruin everything, you salty ass french fry.”
(he wasn’t surprised, but he did find the insult amusing.)
(but really, what if they hooked up? tobio’s got a nice everything, so it wouldn’t be bad.)
during tobio and kei’s little conversation, they exchanged numbers again, tobio saying something like, “i’ll be staying in tokyo for the next few months, we should hang out again” and kei couldn’t say no, not when his heart was rattling against his ribs.
now, a week later and lonely, kei’s heart is banging against his bones and tempting him to text tobio. it’s not that he doesn’t want to. he just has zero clue what to say.
in his apartment in tokyo, tobio is staring at his phone on the counter while fixing himself a glass of milk. his thoughts replicate kei’s.
until finally, though, kei sighs and texts tobio, “good morning. i was wondering if you’d like to grab some coffee. or milk, in your case.”
tobio chuckles at the message, getting the jitters as he types a reply, “sure. i’d never pass up an opportunity for free milk. especially if my commoner is paying.”
tobio thinks its too much, but he sends it anyway, pearly white teeth clenched around his bottom lip. kei, on his couch with his cat, laughs.
“of course, your highness. meet me at the blue’s cafe.”
it’s not that tobio got prettier, per say, it’s just that he- okay, no, yeah, he got prettier.
kei cannot fathom how or why, but he did, and he thinks he’s staring at angel.
tobio’s wearing a black and white striped oversized sweatshirt, black jeans, and black converse. the blond never realized how fucking good he looked in black back in highschool, which is stupid because their uniform was black, but kei defends himself as he thinks, ‘it's because he looks more relaxed now, more comfortable.’ and kei’s heart skips a bit when tobio smiles in his direction.
(kei himself isn’t wearing anything special; just a jurassic park t-shirt and ripped blue jeans with some checkered vans that weren’t completely beat up yet. which is surprising because he isn’t particularly careful with his shoes.)
kei waves a little, taking a sip from his cup as tobio walks over. he slips into the side of the booth in front of kei and sighs, gently ruffling his hair that was just a bit wet, and kei gulps.
“i hope i didn’t bother you,” he says, awkward, “i’d hate to keep you from your usual plans.” and he doesn't know why he’s being formal right now, but tobio just chuckles and waves down a waitress.
“it’s fine, you nerd,” he grins, eyebrows shooting up momentarily, “nice shirt, by the way.”
kei is shocked, to say the least. he hadn’t expected tobio of all people to catch up on his social skills, but kei supposes they’re needed when you’re an uprising sports star.
the man in front of him raises an eyebrow, and only now does kei realize he’s been staring, so he clears his throat as a blush crawls up his face.
“hello, gentlemen. what can i get you today?” a polite, monotone voice cuts kei off and tobio glances at the waitress. she has long blond hair that’s braided lazily and draped over her shoulder, and her honey eyes are striking behind her glasses. tobio sort of gapes at her, glances at kei and furrows his eyebrows. the girl does the same, except she glances at the cashier who is busy yelling at someone in the back room. her hair is jet black and in a ponytail, while her skin resembles tobio’s skin tone.
the waitress looks at kei and her lips part open in surprise, just like kei’s. it’s almost like looking in the mirror. she regains herself quickly though, realizing she’s on the job and honestly, the boy's are a bit surprised.
“right. sorry for that, you just… look exactly like my fr- coworker.” she corrects herself, her gaze on tobio before she glances at kei. she decides not to comment on their similar looks and instead asks what she can get for them.
tobio clears his throat while kei looks off to the cashier again, finding a girl (all the workers have to be in college- they look young) that resembles tobio. while tobio orders, he glances at kei and asks for a strawberry shortcake, to which the waitress smirks and asks, “is that his favorite?” to which tobio nods and replies, “is it yours?”
she nods her head then snorts.
“yeah, whatta surprise, huh?” she shrugs, and writes down the order quickly before muttering, “your order will be here soon.”
kei turns back to tobio and raises his eyebrows.
“that chick looked exactly like me,” he says, just as tobio is saying, “that chick looked exactly like you.”
they both laugh and shake their head, kei fiddling with his fingers over the table. tobio stares at them for just a moment, glancing specifically towards his right hand, his pinky and ring finger. he remembers the emotions he felt when he realized what had happened to kei’s hand. he felt proud, angry, worried. proud because of how hard kei was trying in that match, how great he was playing. angry because well, that was his teammate. he wouldn't have let anyone hurt his teammates and get away with it. not then, and certainly not now. worried for kei’s wellbeing. though the prick had kept calm when faced with the coach, the managers, the nurse, his brother, tobio knew the injury hurt a lot more than kei let on.
he hums a little.
he knew his little crush on kei had sprouted from somewhere.
kei clears his throat just a bit, popping his knuckles as he says, “how are you doing?”
and tobio assumes he means career-wise, home-wise, family-wise, relationship-wise. tobio grins.
“i’m soon-to-be starting setter for the national japan team. bokuto, ushijima, nishinoya, and hinata are all on the team with me. i live in an apartment in tokyo when i'm in japan, and when im not, im training it america. it’s pretty cool there, so long as you don’t venture into politics,” he gives kei a warning look but kei already knows. america is too ridiculous not to notice.
“my father passed, um, a few years ago. it's hard to miss him when he was never really around in the first place, yknow? my mother is still around, but she finally retired a few months ago. she still lives in miyagi and works at a flower-shop,” tobio says this with a proud little smile, as if she had received an award for having the best flower-shop in miyagi. kei can't help but smile back.
“and well, i'm still me. still the lonely king. you know, someone once told me that king’s were destined to rule alone.” he teases, making a jab at kei’s teenage taunts from high school. he chuckles and shrugs his shoulders, gives tobio a lazy smile.
“maybe i was wrong,” he says, and the man in front of him hums.
they stare into each other’s eyes for a few, enjoying their view of each other as the cafe noise drowns out. a soft clear of someone’s throat breaks them out of their trance. they turn to the source of the noise, the cashier who was yelling earlier standing with a tray. she looks at both of them with wide eyes, carefully placing tobio’s cup by him.
“holy shit,” she murmurs, staring at kei as she places his strawberry shortcake in front of him. the blond is surprised for two reasons rather than one. first; this girl looks exactly like tobio. second; tobio ordered him his favorite sweets.
the girl blushes in embarrassment, a bit angry at herself for saying that outloud to TWO customers, nonetheless, before she apologizes and says,
“i hope you enjoy your meals!” she’s pretty awkward.
kei smiles as he thanks her and looks back at his date.
kind of reminds him of someone.
tobio sips at his drink, glancing up when the cashier rushes behind the counter and into the back room. he chuckles before giving kei his undivided attention.
“so, kei, what about you?” he asks, curious and interested. kei shrugs.
“i work for a sort-of top brand music industry. i’m a booking agent, and usually work alone. i live in an apartment in tokyo with my dog. my parents still live in miyagi, both are retired. akiteru recently married. he’s gonna have a baby in a few months,” kei says and tobio can basically feel his fear and disgust.
“i’m sure you’ll be a great uncle, kei,” to which the blond snorts and shakes his head,
“i’m not too sure about that. but this commoner is just as lonely as his king, it seems.” kei smirks, tobio rolls his eyes.
“perhaps the two should stop jumping around a certain topic, huh? perhaps then they will stop being so lonely.” the man in front of him replies.
they share smiles as their date rolls on.
(the girls from the cafe watch with hopeful smiles on their faces.)
(perhaps their love will grow to be as pure as what those two men have.)
“kei?” he asks quietly, watching the man he loves play his piano softly in the living room. this is usually when a certain blond is dragged down by anxiety, tobio has learned.
the man in question looks up, a small smile on his face as he looks at his lover.
“did i wake you?” he asks, concerned but tobio moves to sit on the bench next to him as he shakes his head.
“i had just woken up and you weren’t there. is something wrong?” he asks, a blanket draped around tobio’s shoulders. kei’s heart does the same thing it's always done since he first saw tobio.
“nothing could ever be wrong here, with you, tobio,” kei assures.
tobio flushes but nudges him, humming.
“penny for your thoughts?”
kei bites his lip, fingers pressing down on a velvet box.
“i was wondering if the king would like a partner to rule with,” he says, and tobio feels a lot more awake than before.
“wait- what?” kei smiles.
“would you like to marry me, tobio?” he asks, eyes hopeful, wide, bright, as he produces a black box. tobio breathes out a laugh.
“wait- wait right here!” tobio says to him, sprinting down the hallway as kei waits at the piano. he rushes back with an identical box, opening it for kei as his eyes fill with tears.
“would you like to marry me, kei?”
the two share smiles and tears and kisses as they watch their glinting rings in the moonlight.
(kei makes sure to remind himself to thank tadashi for getting married and inviting kei's high school crush to the wedding.)